Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaj
June 15, 1996
The following transcription has been translated from Shrila Gurudeva’s discourse in Hindi.]
Sukadeva Gosvami was speaking the Bhagavatam to Pariksit Maharaj who was destined to die after seven days. Therefore, Sukadeva Gosvami started speaking the Bhagavatam to Pariksit Maharaj. The Bhagavatam is filled with tattva-jnana and upon aural reception of this immaculate literature, transcendental wealth and peace will be obtained. Previously, I spoke on the childhood of Krishna. Although Krishna is Parabrahma, He plays like an ordinary child in Vraja. But, He is not an ordinary child. Bhagavan’s pastimes are of two kinds—aisvarya lila and madhurya lila. The pastimes, which a human being cannot do i.e. those pastimes that are manifested by Bhagavan in His Godly feature, are called aisvarya-mayi lila. And, those pastimes that are characterized by unequalled opulence as well but have the opulence covered and thus, the pastimes manifested are of a human-like form, are called madhurya-mayi lila.
The pastimes that Krishna performs in Dvaraka and Mathura are filled with opulence. Krishna displays His Bhagavatta, His Godhood in these pastimes. Although opulence is prominent even in the pastimes of Vrindavana, there is so much sweetness that these pastimes seem human-like. Krishna killed Putana; He lifted Giriraja-Govardhana; He killed Aghasura; yet, He always remained a child and did not assume a huge form. Although He lifted the greatest of mountains, Giriraja-Govardhana; at that time He was a five year old child. Smiling, He lifted Giriraja on the little finger of His left hand. Why did He lift Giriraja on the finger of His left hand? He did so because Shrimati Radhika is on the left side of Krishna. Factually, it was Shrimati Radhika who lifted Giriraja-Govardhana and not Krishna. Whatever we do is by the help of sakti. Sight, prowess, knowledge, and everything else are aspects of sakti, potency. Krishna only desires and His sakti performs all the activities. He desired to lift Giriraja-Govardhana and His sakti lifted the mountain. The little finger of the left hand is on the extreme left. Hence, being always on the left side of Krishna, Shrimati Radhika accomplished this task of lifting Giriraja-Govardhana.
Krishna was a child. Smiling, He lifted Giriraja-Govardhana. But, no one offered prayers to Krishna saying, “Oh You are God.” When Arjuna saw the universal form in Krishna, he offered prayers to Krishna with folded hands.
He said, “Oh Bhagavan Krishna, I called You, ‘Friend,’ but it was wrong on my part.”
But here, Krishna lifted the huge mountain, Giriraja-Govardhana in front of everyone; still, no one offered prayers to Him. Why? The elderly gopas and gopis thought, “Nanda Baba has worshiped Narayana perfectly. As a fruit of his worship, Lord Narayana has entered the body of Krishna and lifted Giriraja-Govardhana. Or else how can this little boy lift this huge mountain?”
What did the sakhas do? When Krishna lifted the mountain, all the sakhas held Giriraja by their sticks. They said, “Krishna is not lifting Giriraja. We are lifting Giriraja by our sticks.”
And what did the kisori-gopis do? Fixing their sight on Giriraja-Govardhana, they thought, “If Giriraja falls, then we will burn him to ashes. You should stay perched on Krishna’s finger.” Therefore, the gopis thought, “We lifted Giriraja-Govardhana by the power of our glance.”
No one thought, “Krishna has lifted Giriraja-Govardhana.”
Indra caused heavy rainfall for seven days. He released many thunderbolts; but there was no effect. At the end, he bowed down and fell at the feet of Krishna. Krishna had convinced the Vrajavasis to stop the worship of Indra and instead, He told them to worship Giriraja-Govardhana. Govardhana is Krishna’s svarupa. He nourishes the cows, calves, and everyone. What does Indra do? He thinks, “I give rainfall and I am worshipable for everyone.” No, this is not true. No demigod performs his actions independently. Being empowered by Krishna, all the demigods perform their duties. If a demigod gives a boon to anyone, then this is only by Krishna’s sakti.
Sankaraji chants, “Rama Rama,” and gives everything to this world.
Durgaji chants, “Krishna Krishna,” and gives everything to this world as well.
Their sakti is not independent. We don’t have any strength to do anything on our own. We cannot even move a finger on our own. If this is not true, then why can’t a person move his finger when he is dying? Therefore, you should understand that everyone’s strength comes from Krishna. Don’t be falsely proud. Don’t think, “I am so wealthy. I am so respected. I am so strong.” Don’t think like this. There was an Indian wrestler called Gaman. He defeated the strongest wrestler of Russia and became the best wrestler in the world. But, when he was dying, he could not lift a glass of water on his own. Whose strength is this? Where does one’s strength go? Hence, no demigod is independent. It is said in the Gita that those who worship the demigods go to the abode of the demigods. But they return from there. Thus, they continue to experience happiness and distress.
Krishna says, “Those who worship Me, attain entrance into My abode. They never fall from there.
yad gatva na nivartante
tad dhama paramam mama
—Bhagavad Gita 15.6
Those who reach My abode never return to this material world.]
Therefore, you should respect the demigods. Understand that they are empowered by Krishna.
mam ekam saranam vraja
—Bhagavad Gita 18.66
"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.”]
You should respect even a fly.
Krishna says, “Creation, maintenance, and destruction of the material world is carried out by the plenary portions of My expansions. All the potencies have their root in Me.”
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
—Bhagavad Gita 7.14
“Those who worship Me easily cross over this material world of maya.”
“Mam-eva means only Me.” Who is saying this? Krishna is. So, Krishna had the Vrajavasis stop the worship of Indra. One day, a demon named Aghasura entered Vraja. He was in the form of a massive python. His body was many miles long. The upper portion of his mouth pierced the clouds and the lower portion stretched out for many miles. He was ready to swallow Krishna. The sakhas and the cows had already entered his mouth. Aghasura did not close his mouth because he was waiting for Krishna to enter his mouth.
Krishna thought, “My sakhas and the cows have entered the mouth of this python.” So, He also immediately entered the mouth of the python. Krishna then placed Himself in the middle of Aghasura’s throat. He became like a burning piece of coal in the demon’s throat. Thus, Aghasura died. Despite meditating on Him for many years, the yogis cannot have Krishna enter their hearts. But today, Krishna and His associates entered the mouth of Aghasura. This is such great mercy. Therefore, no foul smell came from his lifeless body. Why did this happen? What austerities did Aghasura do? Putana was his sister. Assuming the form of a mother, Putana went to kill Krishna. Aghasura was her brother; so why can’t he have a similar destination as well? Krishna gave him a similar destination as well because his sister had assumed the form of a mother. Just by assuming the form of a mother, Putana was given parama-gati. And if she had really come in the form of a mother, then who knows what benediction awaited her? Hence, Krishna gave all the demons an auspicious destination.
After some time Krishna became an adolescent. One day, it was dusk and the moon was shining in the eastern direction. It seemed that the moon considered the eastern horizon as his beloved. It seemed that his rays were decorating the face of his beloved Purva-disa i.e. the eastern horizon. At that time, Krishna remembered the gopis. He took His Vamsi and played a very sweet melody. Each of the gopis thought that Krishna was only calling her. Listening to this inconceivable sweet song of the flute, all the gopis ran to where this sound came from. The gopis left all their household chores behind and ran to Krishna. One gopi was sweeping the floor; another gopi was making rotis; another gopi was decorating herself—but they left everything behind on listening to the flute song and ran from their houses. The rotis were left unattended and the gopi who was decorating herself only put collyrium on one eye and left the other eye as it is. One gopi did not clothe herself properly; yet, she also ran to Krishna when she heard the flute song. On listening to the flute song, one gopi wore her necklace around her waist and another gopi wore her waist belt around her neck. In this way, they left everything behind. Another gopi was serving her husband; but she also ran to Krishna. Becoming bewildered, all the gopis ran to Krishna.
ajagmur anyonyam alaksitodyamah
—Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.29.4
Each of the gopis stopped whatever they were doing and being alone, ran to where Krishna was. There was not just one gopi; there were millions of gopis. Even Yasoda Maiya had not heard this sweet melody of the Vamsi; neither did Nanda Baba ever listen to this melody. The sakhas also did not listen to this melody. Only those gopis who were deeply attached to Krishna, could hear this flute song. When the gopis reached the spot where Krishna was, He told them, “O most fortunate gopis, it is very nice that all of you have come here. Welcome everyone. Please say what I can do for you?”
The gopis only stood silently. Krishna saw that the decoration of the gopis was very wonderful to behold. One gopi had only put collyrium on one eye and not on the other. The necklace was around the waist and the waist belt was around the neck. Another gopi had worn her clothes upside down. Krishna smiled and said, “Welcome everyone. If someone takes one step towards Me; then I take millions of steps forward for that person.” This is Krishna’s promise.
In the Gita, Krishna has said:
ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
—Bhagavad Gita 4.11
As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.]
If someone does even a little bhajan of Krishna, then Krishna comes ten times forward to help that person. And if someone goes one step back from Krishna, then He also goes ten steps behind. So, Krishna told the gopis, “Welcome. But now it is the dead of night.” But on that night it was Purnima; the full moon was shining in the sky.
Krishna told the gopis, “It is very dark now. Also, there are dangerous animals in the forest. You have left your crying children, husbands, parents, and in-laws behind. This is not right.”
“Then why did You call us?” the gopis asked.
Krishna did not answer. The gopis asked the same question again. Krishna told the gopis, “Do not delay, O chaste ladies; return to your husbands at once. The duty of a virtuous woman is to serve her husband under all circumstances, regardless of whether his character is good or bad. He may be rich or poor, beautiful and highly qualified, or lame and ugly, but still she must serve him. It is her religious duty (dharma) to do so. You came to see the forest. With her sparkling water, the Yamuna is very beautiful to behold. Many lotuses are blooming on her surface. The cuckoos are cooing. The peacocks are dancing and the deer are prancing. The moon rays are lighting up the entire forest. You came to see this sight and now that you have seen the setting of the forest, you should return to your homes.”
The gopis thought, “Is Krishna being serious? Or is He playing a game? He is a cheater. His words carry many meanings. He is always teasing us. Why is He speaking like this?”
The gopis remained silent for some time. Krishna asked them, “You haven’t returned to your homes yet? You should return to your homes.”
One gopi said, “We will return; but our feet don’t turn the other way around. Our feet only want to stay here. And even if we force ourselves to return; what is the use? Because we have left our minds here. Give our minds back and we will happily return. We don’t have our minds with us now. So, unless You return our minds to us—we will not return.”
Another gopi said, “Who can be a more able guru than You in this world? You have given us such beautiful knowledge. You have told us to always serve our husbands. You enlightened us with transcendental knowledge. The Vedas and sastras say, ‘If Guru and Bhagavan are present before you, then whom should you offer pranama first? You should offer pranama to the Guru first.’ So, You have given us the transcendental knowledge that serving our husbands is the topmost dharma. You told us that a woman should serve her husband regardless of whether he is blind, lame, or dumb. Therefore, we should serve the guru first because You have enlightened us with such transcendental knowledge. Hence, we offer ourselves to Your lotus feet. We will serve You first and then, we will serve our husbands. Isn’t this all right? If what we have said is wrong, then why did You instruct us like this?”
Smiling, Krishna listened to what the gopis had to say. He was also very grave.
Another gopi said, “We heard that You gave the knowledge of the Gita to Suryadeva millions of years ago. In one of those instructions You said:
ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
—Bhagavad Gita 4.11
As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.]
You said, ‘I will reciprocate with one according to the bhajan he does.’ So, we have come to You. We are worshiping You like a guru. If You don’t accept our worship, then You will be guilty of adharma and not us. Because of not accepting our worship, sin will contaminate You. You have also said that a person should abandon all dharmas and surrender to You. So, we are only doing what You have said. We have left all our dharmas and come to You. If You don’t accept our service, then You will be the biggest liar.”
In this way, the gopis refuted all the arguments of Krishna. A gopi said, “Why are we at fault for abandoning our dharma? We see that in this Vrindavana, all the living entities have become enchanted by Your beautiful form and flute song. The stationary beings start moving and the non-stationary beings become stationary. The Yamuna has become still and the trees welcome You by their blooming flowers. The deer run away on seeing the humans; but they come near You now. The cows have become inanimate and are only drinking Your flute song by their upraised ears. They don’t swallow the grass and neither does the grass fall from their mouths. The calves are also in a similar condition. They don’t drink the milk completely and neither does the milk fall from their mouths. The non-moving entities have become moving and the moving entities have become non-moving.
“So, we are women—our nature is very simple and soft. We become bewildered by beauty. So, why have You come before us in this beautiful form of Yours? Why did you make us listen to this sweet flute song of Yours? If we have committed adharma by leaving our husbands, then You are at fault for this and not us. You will be guilty of sin and not us.”
Krishna could not answer any of the questions the gopis put forward. Earlier, Krishna had make the yajna-patnis return home. He told them, “You should return to your homes and serve your husbands.” But, He could not make the gopis return home. Thus, the rasa-lila started. One Krishna danced between each of the sixteen thousand gopis. So, He assumed sixteen thousand forms. Krishna sang in the fifth note.
He sang, “Sa-re-ga-ma-pa.”
But the gopis sang in the seventh note. They sang so beautifully that Krishna said, “Sadhu! Sadhu!” Krishna could not contest with the gopis. Parabrahma Himself lost; He could not dance and sing like the gopis. Among the sixteen thousand gopis, there were sixteen thousand forms of Krishna. What Krishna did was unprecedented. Up until today, no avatar of Krishna has done what He did. Krishna fulfilled the desires of anyone who came to Him. When Rama abandoned Sita in the forest, she went to the asrama of Valmiki. This was part of Rama’s final pastime. Laksmana left Sita in the forest and she became unconscious.
She thought, “Rama has abandoned me? What fault have I done? Someone may have forcibly touched me, but my mind never touched him. But, He has left me? All right; according to His desire, I will not go to the palace.”
Sita was pregnant when she was sent to Valmiki’s asrama. So, she gave birth to two sons in Valmiki’s asrama whose names were Lava and Kusa. She took care of her sons and they gradually grew. Valmiki taught the children and considering Sita to be his daughter, he gave her a place in the asrama where the elderly ladies resided doing bhajan. After some days, Ramacandra desired to do a rajasuya-yajna. He called Vasista and asked, “Guruji, I desire to do a yajna.”
Vasista replied, “You are not qualified to do a yajna.”
“You sent Your wife to the forest. A single man cannot do a yajna. There is no alternative.”
Rama said, “Guruji, please arrange for one alternative.”
Vasista said, “What alternate solution can I arrange for? Then marry another lady.”
“I cannot marry anyone else. Sita is My only wife.”
“Then You cannot do the yajna. This is clear.”
“Guruji, I pray at your lotus feet that You make Me do the yajna.”
Vasista asked, “Why can You not marry again? Your father had 360 queens. So, marry someone else.”
“I cannot do this.”
“Okay. Make a golden deity of Sitaji. This deity will sit on Your left and then, you can do the yajna.”
“I accept this proposal,” Rama gladly said.
A beautiful golden deity of Sitaji was made. The deity looked exactly like Sitaji. But where was Sita? She was in the forest. Wedlock was established between Rama and the golden deity of Sita and the yajna started. During the yajna, it was decided that everyone would rest during the afternoon and the yajna would start from the next morning from eight and end at twelve in the afternoon. Some people would take prasadam and listen to hari-katha from two to four in the afternoon. At that time, the two disciples of Valmiki, Lava and Kusa appeared. No one knew that they were the sons of Rama. They entered the assembly where Kausalya, Kaikeyi, Bharata, Satrughna, Rama, Laksmana, and millions of monkeys and bears were present. On the order of their guru, the two boys recited Valmiki Ramayana. When they described the stay of Rama, Laksmana, and Sita in the forest, everyone bitterly wept. When they went to the forest, Maharaj Dasaratha left his body. Ayodhya seemed like a widow. When they spoke these pastimes, everyone in the assembly became astonished and cried.
When the boys ended their recital, Rama said, “Laksmana, ask these boys about their identities. Ask them who their parents are. Give them a golden plate full of jewels. They have brought great joy to the assembly.”
Laksmana asked the two boys, “Children, tell me the name of your father. What is the name of your mother?”
Lava said, “O Mahatma, You all the Vedas and sastras. The name of the parents of the brahmacaris shouldn’t be asked. Rather, the name of their guru should be asked. We are brahmacaris, so ask the name of our guru. What will happen by asking the name of our parents? Listen to some knowledge.”
Laksmana became shy and thought, “These boys are right.”
The boys said, “The name of our guruji is Valmiki.”
But, the boys didn’t give their identities. Everyone in the assembly thought, “If Rama had sons, then they would look exactly like these boys. These boys exactly look like Rama. Rama is big and they are small; this is the only difference.”
Everyone wondered, “Perhaps these children are the sons of Rama. Sita must be nearby.”
Listening to these boys speak, tears welled in the eyes of Kausalya, Rama, and everyone else. But they could not find out whose children these boys were. Ramacandra called Valmiki and said, “Is Sita in your asrama? I want to meet Sita. Please tell Sita to come.”
Valmiki went and told Sita, “O daughter, Rama is calling you.”
Before Valmiki spoke to Sita, Lava and Kusa had already returned to the asrama. Sita wondered, “Why are my sons late today?” Sita would walk back and forth while waiting for Lava and Kusa. When the two boys returned, Sita put them on her lap and asked, “Why are you both late today?”
The children replied, “Mother, today we went to attend a yajna of a King. On the order of guruji, we recited the Ramayana to the King and His subjects. When we spoke, everyone in the assembly bitterly wept. We could not understand why they wept. We noticed that in the assembly there was a golden deity. This golden deity looked exactly like you. The only difference is that you speak while the deity doesn’t.”
When Sita heard her two sons speak, tears gushed from the eyes of Sita. “Why are you crying mother?” asked Lava and Kusa. They wiped the tears of their mother from the ends of their cloth. But their mother continued to cry even more. How could she tell them that Rama is her husband and that He had left her? She could not tell this to her sons. At that time, Sita thought, “King Rama has left His Queen Sita, but Rama has never left His beloved, Sita. If He had left me, then He would not have had a golden deity of me made for the yajna.”
The pastimes of Rama are heart rending. Those who listen to these pastimes will bitterly weep. And if anyone cries by listening to Krishna’s pastimes, then his eyes will never be dry for the rest of his life. The pastimes of Krishna are wonderful. Rama left Sita, but Krishna can never leave anyone. The gopis defeated all of Krishna’s arguments. The love the gopis have for Krishna is unparalleled. Therefore, when you chant Krishna’s name, then you should also chant His beloved, Radha’s name along with His. Rukmini and Satyabhama were married to Krishna; yet, their names are not chanted as much. The love of Shrimati Radhika and the gopis was fathomless. If you want to love Krishna, then you should do so like them. When the rasa-lila started, Krishna was dancing with all the gopis. After some time, the gopis developed a feeling of pride i.e. saubhagya-mada. If a husband follows all the orders of his wife and only loves her, then the wife becomes proud. A lady who has controlled her husband and who makes him follow all her orders is most happy. But, a woman whose husband doesn’t listen to her and who loves other ladies will be very sad. She may douse herself with kerosene oil and set herself on fire. This is greatly anguishing for ladies. They will tolerate everything; but they cannot tolerate the neglect of their husband. They have given everything to their husbands; so the husband’s neglect is intolerable for them. In the West, divorce is normal. Husband and wives divorce each other when they please. But it is never like this in the Vedic culture. If a man proclaims a lady to be his wife even within his mind, then she would become his wife for his entire life.
During the rasa-lila all the gopis became proud. Each of the gopis thought, “Krishna is only dancing with me and no one else. Putting His hands over mine, He is only dancing with me.”
But, only Shrimati Radhika saw how Krishna was dancing with all the gopis. She also saw how Krishna was dancing with Her. She thought, “Krishna is a great cheater. Dancing along with Me, He is dancing with everyone else as well. He tells each of the gopis, ‘You are My most beloved.’ Am I not His beloved as well? Where has His love gone? He treats everyone equally. All the gopis think, ‘Krishna is only dancing with me.’ This is very strange.”
Every soul thinks, “Krishna is only pleased with me.” It is like this even with a Sad-Guru. Every disciple thinks, “Guruji only loves me the most.” This is the specialty of a bona fide Guru. This is not meant for Kali Yuga gurus. So, Krishna loves everyone. Due to saubhagya-mada, each of the gopis thought, “Krishna is only dancing with me and not with anyone else. He is not even dancing with Radhaji.”
Radhaji went into maan and thought, “Krishna is dancing with everyone else as well. He considers all the gopis and Me to be one.”
tad saubhag-madam viksamanam ca kesava
Now rasa-lila would stop. Radhaji was in maan; so Krishna wanted to please and serve Her. He wanted to make the pride of the gopis go away. He wanted to proclaim that He loves Radhaji the most. With this intention, Krishna disappeared from the rasa-lila. When He disappeared, all the gopis thought anxiously, “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?” Thus, the rasa-lila stopped. Searching for Krishna, all the gopis became mad in separation.
They asked the trees, “Did Krishna go this way? Tulasiji, please tell us where Krishna went.”
They forgot themselves and their natures completely changed. One gopi asked a tree, “You are so tall; so tell us where Krishna went. You look so happy. Your blooming flowers signify that you are smiling. Krishna must have definitely touched you and gone this way.”
Another gopi asked a deer, “Oh deer, have you seen Krishna? You are so happy; did Krishna go in this way?”
In this way, the gopis asked the trees, and other residents of Vraja. Then, they saw some footprints. They realized that these were Krishna’s footprints. Among these footprints, they some saw footprints that were smaller in size. They wondered, “Whose footprints are these? These footprints belong to a gopi. So, Krishna did not go alone. A taruni-gopi went along with Him. This gopi must have definitely worshiped Bhagavan so much because Krishna has only taken Her along with Him.”
After some time, they only saw Krishna’s footprints and not the gopi’s. They told each other, “Krishna’s footprints have gone an inch deeper in the earth. It seems this gopi was tired; so Krishna took Her up in His arms and carried Her. So, we don’t see Her footprints.”
Further on, the gopis saw that some flowers were scattered on the ground. They told each other, “Krishna had seated His beloved here and decorated Her with flowers because the upper parts of the creepers are laden with blossoms while the lower parts have far less. Here, only the imprints of Krishna’s toes can be seen. So, He must have picked some flowers to decorate His beloved.
As the gopis proceeded further, they saw that very gopi, Shrimati Radhika. She was unconscious. The gopis remarked, “Why is She unconscious here? Krishna must have taken Her from the rasa dance.” With great difficulty, the gopis made Shrimati Radhika conscious by sprinkling water on Her and fanning Her.
The gopis asked Shrimati Radhika, “Why were You unconscious here?”
“What can I say? Krishna was decorating Me and I said, ‘I cannot walk anymore. Please carry Me wherever You go.’ He said, ‘All right. I will carry You. Sit on My shoulders.’ As I was about to sit, Krishna disappeared and I have been crying ever since.”
Why did this happen? Shrimati Radhika thought, “The gopis have sacrificed everything for Me. Therefore, I cannot stay with Krishna without them. They should also be present here.” So, She played a trick. And, Krishna did not go anywhere far. In a moment’s notice, He hid Himself in the bushes. Hence, Shrimati Radhika and all the gopis began to cry in separation from Krishna. The gopis then sang:
tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam
kavibhir iditam kalmasapaham
sravana-mangalam Shrimad atatam
bhuvi grnanti te bhuri-da janah
—Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.31.9
“O Krishna, we are always suffering in this material world, but just hearing the immortal nectar of Your words and narrations of Your pastimes gives us life. These narrations, coming from the lips of Your pure devotees, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow the ultimate benediction, Krishna-prema, upon whoever hears them with faith. Your pure devotees broadcast these narrations, which are full of spiritual beauty and opulence, all over the world. There is certainly no one more kind and compassionate than those souls who distribute this nectar.]
This Gopi-gita is the life of the tenth canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. There are five life airs of Shrimad Bhagavatam that are collectively called Rasa-pancadhyayi. This thirsty first chapter is in the middle of these five chapters. Chapters 29-33 of the tenth canto constitute the Rasa-pancadhyayi. All the acaryas have given very beautiful commentaries on these chapters. There is no time now; so I won’t speak the meaning of these chapters. These chapters are so wonderful that Mahaprabhu would become absorbed in bhava and become unconscious. The meaning is so wonderful and deep. So, I will explain the essence and proceed.
tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam
Which group of gopis is saying this? The first group says, “Tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam. Your pastimes are greater than nectar.”
If a family member is dead, or if a person is very sad and beset by problems, then if he listens to Krishna’s pastimes, he will be pacified. He will become peaceful and happy. An unhealthy person will become peaceful on drinking nectar. Similarly, this material world is plagued by miseries. The material world consists of birth, sorrows, old age, and death. This world consists of pain given by one’s husband, neighbour, or anyone else. The pain of being poor is also present. There are various kinds of problems in this world. A person’s business may prosper or fail. The problems are innumerable; these problems arise from the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance. A man is entangled by these problems. At that time, Krishna’s pastimes are his only support. Thus, Krishna’s pastimes are like nectar.
tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam
kavibhir iditam kalmasapaham
Kavi refers to Sukadeva Gosvami, Brahma, Sankara, and Naradaji. They are pure devotees. No matter how sinful or anguished a person is; yet, if he listens to Krishna’s pastimes from such devotees, then his life will become new and blissful. Therefore, Krishna’s pastimes are nectar. Katha-evamrtam; Krishna’s pastimes are so nectarean that the nectar of heaven is insignificant in comparison. By drinking the nectar of heaven, lust, anger, greed, and illusion remain; but by drinking this nectar of Krishna’s pastimes, one’s heart will become soothed and peaceful. Despite drinking nectar, Indra is an angry figure. He is always fighting with others. He also runs behind women. He was scared of Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu. He prays for boons from Brahmaji. So, lamentation, illusion, and fear persist by drinking this heavenly nectar. But, those who speak and listen to Krishna’s pastimes have no desires. Narada and Sukadeva Gosvami have no desires; they are most peaceful. If a person has many desires, then he will be very sad.
Except for Krishna’s seva, a person who doesn’t desire anything else will never be sad. He will never have any wants or desires. He will not be sad.
tava kathamrtam tapta-jivanam
kavibhir iditam kalmasapaham
By listening to even one pastime of Bhagavan, all of one’s sins will be burnt to ashes. The most magnanimous person in this world is he, who gives Bhagavan’s pastimes in charity. He will speak Bhagavan’s pastimes without any desire for money. He will not be greedy for anything. He will make everyone’s life auspicious—bhuri da-janah. Shrimad atatam—a person who distributes Bhagavan’s pastimes is most wealthy. A person who donates Bhagavan’s pastimes is most benevolent. He will deliver all the residents of the world and make them taste the nectar of Krishna’s lotus feet. Therefore, a person who speaks Krishna’s pastimes is most generous; he is bhuri da. His magnanimity is unequalled.
On the other side, the vipaksa gopis are of another opinion. Tava-kathamrtam; the vipaksa gopis say, “Oh why did we listen to Krishna’s name?”
keva sunailo syama-nama
kanera bhitora diya, marame pasilo go
akula korilo mora prana
“Krishna’s pastimes have made my life restless. Previously, I was happy in my home. Since the time I have heard these names, I have become agitated. What can I do? I cannot sweep; I cannot cook; I cannot talk with my husband. My life has turned upside down. In reality, these pastimes are not nectar—they are poison,” said a gopi of the vipaksa group.
Another vipaksa gopi said, “tavakatha-mrtam; Krishna’s pastimes are not nectarean. They are like deadly poison. I am an example of being affected by this poison. I would not have come here if I had not listened to Krishna’s pastimes. There is no need to even drink this poison. One can be far away from it. As long as one smells it he will die, and no one will be able to save him. Those who hear His pastimes must die. They die like flapping fishes. First they will flap, and then they will die. Now, Krishna has left us all and gone away. We left all our dharmas behind.
We were extremely happy in our family life, but then Krishna came and created so many problems, and now we are helpless. He made us street beggars, and now we have no place to stay and we are on the verge of death. If one wants to be happy with his family, he should never hear the pastimes of Krishna.
Kavibhir iditam. Kavis will glorify even a paper horse. They will say, ‘It is very strong, and it runs faster than the air and mind.’ There is no substance in their words. Similarly, such kavis have said, ‘By hearing hari-katha you will be very happy. By chanting Krishna’s names, you will be happy.’ This is a bogus idea. It is not true. When we heard this sweet katha we became street beggars with no place to live. Krishna cheated us and His hari-katha also cheated us. We only continuously weep now.
Sravana-mangalam. It is not true that the lives of those who listen to Krishna’s pastimes become auspicious. Don’t ever listen to Krishna’s pastimes and don’t ever chant His names. Or else, your life will become sorrowful like ours. The glorification of Krishna’s pastimes is the imagination of poets; so don’t listen to His pastimes. If a lady hears these pastimes, she will forget her husband and children, she will become like a bird without any place to live, and she will always weep.
If you don’t want to be like this, then don’t hear the pastimes of Krishna, especially from the mouths of cheaters. They will come to you with a book under their arms and say, ‘Come here, come here. I will tell you the sweet and beautiful pastimes of Krishna and I won’t charge any donation at all. Don’t worry that you will have to give a donation. There is no cost. Simply hear.’ Such kavis will sing in a beautiful tune like a suka parrot. They will charm you and then they will at once kill you with a very sharp knife. They are Bhuri-da janah, which means they will take all your worldly happiness, get you in trouble, and make you like a beggar. So don’t hear from them or else your condition will become like ours.”
Shrimati Radhika and the vipaksa gopis were actually glorifying Krishna by these words. By listening to Krishna’s pastimes, one will become so attached that he will renounce samsara. After listening to these words of the gopis, Krishna could no longer hide Himself. He appeared before the gopis. The gopis noticed that Krishna was shyly smiling.
One gopi said, “Krishna has the same vanamala (forest flower garland) on Him that we gave.”
When Krishna came there, the gopis asked Him some questions. I will explain one or two slokas of the Shrimad Bhagavatam that are filled with nectarean mellows. By listening to these exchanges of words between the gopis and Krishna, our lives will become auspicious. They are greatly instructive.
The gopis laid their dupattas on the earth that were smeared with kunkum. This became like an asana (a seat) for Krishna. Each group of gopis made different asanas for Krishna. Candravali’s sakhis made one asana. Shrimati Radhika’s sakhis made a different asana. Bhadra’s sakhis and Syamala’s sakhis also made different asanas for Krishna. The asanas they made reflected their sentiments for Krishna. Krishna sat on all their asanas and each group of gopis thought, “Krishna is only sitting on our asana.”
Krishna shyly smiled and said, “I have given great difficulty to you gopis. All of you left dharma, chastity, and everything else for Me. You left your husbands, sons, homes, and everything behind. But, I left you all and went away.”
The gopis asked Krishna:
bhajato ‘nubhajanty eka
nobhayams ca bhajanty eka
etan no bruhi sadhu bhoh
—Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.32.16
The gopis said, “Some people reciprocate the affection only of those who are affectionate toward them, while others show affection even to those who are indifferent or inimical. And yet others will not show affection toward anyone. Dear Krishna, please properly explain this matter to us.”]
One gopi put Krishna’s hands on her shoulders. Another gopi kissed Krishna’s hands and put His hands in hers. Another gopi massaged Krishna’s lotus feet. Every gopi served Krishna according to her mood. But, one gopi stood at a distance and cast an angry sidelong glance at Krishna.
This gopi seemed to ask Krishna, “What kind of a person are You? You left us in the dead of night and we wandered in the forest while bitterly weeping. Is this appropriate?”
bhajato ‘nubhajanty eka
The gopi asked Krishna, “O beloved, You speak of Yourself as an avatar of dharma. You speak as though You are Brahma himself. Answer some questions of ours. A couple mutually love each other. But, one person loves another despite the other person not loving him. But the third kind of person doesn’t love anyone. He doesn’t love those who love him and who don’t; he doesn’t love anyone. There are these three kinds of people in this world. O beloved, among these three kinds of people, which one are You?”
Regarding the first kind of person, this person loves another only if he is loved in return. There are some people who are like this. The second kind of person loves another even if he or she is not loved in return. As for the third kind of person, he doesn’t love anyone regardless of him being loved or not.
So, the gopi asked, “O beloved, tell us in which class You belong?”
Krishna smiled and said, “O beloved gopis, what can I tell you all? I don’t belong to any of these classes.”
“Then who are You?”
“At least listen to My answer to your question. A person who loves another only on being loved in return, is a business man. His love is a business transaction. There is no dharma in this form of love. Or else the love shared between us will be of a selfish nature. I am not a merchant. I am a simple hearted person.”
We pray, “O Bhagavan, give me a son.”
But Bhagavan doesn’t give us a son. Then what do we do? We throw the salagrama-sila in the Ganga or the Yamuna. We say, “My son was ill and You didn’t save him. What is the use of such a Bhagavan because You did not save my son. Therefore, this person takes Giriraja-Govardhana sila, salagrama-sila, and the deities of Radha-Krishna and throws them in the Ganga. He then says, “There is no need of such a Bhagavan.” This is mercantile dealing. Don’t think about Bhagavan like this.
Those, who love you despite you being indifferent to their love, are Guru and your parents. Selfless parents love their children this way. After they get their son married, the son will get a job and go to another place with his wife. He will not care for his parents. But when the son comes home, the father will ask, “Oh my dear son, are you all right? Do you need anything?” If one is really a father, he will always love his son. A guru will always desire the well-being of his disciple regardless of his disciple’s behaviour.
The guru will always tell the disciple, “Mangalam bhavatu,” even if the disciple is acting against his wishes. A guru told his disciple, “Give me one lakh rupees. I also want to buy a car for eighty lakh rupees. I have to collect eighty lakhs, so give me one or two lakh rupees.”
The disciple replied, “Oh my son is dead. And you are asking me for money? I cannot give you the money now.”
The guru then said, “Okay. You will go to hell.”
You should reject such a guru at once. Don’t have any relation with him. Guru gives peace to our heart; so why does he need wealth? He gives spiritual wealth to people. Will a guru be such a dangerous, selfish person? This is not the symptom of a bona fide guru. Therefore, what will a bona fide guru be like? This is said in this sloka. Even if the son or disciple don’t love their father or guru; nevertheless, one’s parents and guru will always love their child and disciple respectively.
Krishna told the gopis, “All you gopis belong to this class of selfless love. I am not in this class.”
The gopis will love Krishna even if He doesn’t reciprocate with their love. The gopis will always have love and affection for Krishna because they have given their hearts to Him. Love should be of this grade. Regarding a person who belongs to the third class, he will not love anyone irrespective of him being loved or not. Who is this person? He is atmarama; he is satisfied in his self. Sukadeva Gosvami is an atmarama. He takes bliss in his self; he has no relation with the body. He doesn’t care if anyone loves him or not. He doesn’t care if anyone gives him money or food. He has no need of clothes. Also, he has no need of air. What does he need? So, you should cultivate love and affection for such personalities.
If you do cultivate love and affection for such personalities, then you will ask, “O Mahatmaji. Bless me that I will be happy in my life.”
These personalities see that everyone is engaged in the service of Bhagavan. They take pleasure in their own selves; they don’t possess an outward vision. All their desires are fulfilled. They are aptakama. The Four Kumaras are examples of such personalities. They have no need of anything or anyone. They only desire the auspiciousness of all the residents of the world. They have such love.
Krishna said, “I am also not like this. I am not aptakama. If I was an aptakama, then why did I call all of you by My Vamsi? If all My desires were fulfilled, then why would I cry when Yasoda Maiya refused to give Me butter? I also have anger. I broke a pot of yoghurt. I long for butter and roti. So, how am I an aptakama or an atmarama? Why did I call of you? Why did I dance with all of you? And upon Your cries, I have appeared among you all. So, I am not an atmarama or aptakama. I am higher than this.”
There are some who are called guru-drohi. These people don’t listen to their parents and don’t care about them. If the father coughs in the night, then this son will say, “This old man coughs during the entire night. Why doesn’t he die?” A person who thinks like this is a guru-drohi. He doesn’t serve his parents. He doesn’t realize that he has only come from his parents. His parents looked after him in his childhood. Even if such a person does dharma-karma, all his actions will be in vain. We can never repay our debt to our parents. You should understand this. Therefore, they should be respected.
Krishna said, “I am not in this class. If I was a guru-drohi, then would I have come near you all? You may all say that I am ungrateful.”
One who doesn’t acknowledge someone’s help is called ungrateful. Even the animals will not be ungrateful if you help them.
The gopis told Krishna, “We left everything and came from our homes. And, You disappeared and caused so much anguish for us. Therefore, You are ungrateful.”
One may be ungrateful to his parents, if his parents are always scolding him. Even so, one’s parents should always be respected. All of you must have heard the name of Sravana Kumara. He would carry his parents in a basket and go everywhere. What did he not do for his blind parents? He was blessed by his parents.
Krishna said, “I am not ungrateful. All that you have said is always etched in My heart. I did not really disappear.”
naham tu sakhyo bhajato ‘pi jantun
bhajamy amisam anuvrtti-vrttaye
yathadhano labdha-dhane vinaste
tac-cintayanyan nibhrto na veda
—Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.32.20
But the reason I do not immediately reciprocate the affection of living beings even when they worship Me, O gopis, is that I want to intensify their loving devotion. They then become like a poor man who has gained some wealth and then lost it, and who thus becomes so anxious about it that he can think of nothing else.]
Krishna said, “I did not really disappear from you all. I only wanted to see what you would all do when I disappeared. I wanted to see the nature of your prema. I wanted to see and listen about your love for Me. Today, I saw how glorious your love is. I disappeared because I wanted to proclaim to the entire world about your unequalled love for Me. Therefore, I apparently disappeared? How? If a poor man obtains a touchstone, but thinking it to be an ordinary stone he keeps it somewhere and someone else takes it; then after some time, the poor man will think, “Where is that stone? Oh someone has taken it. I don’t see it.”
But, someone tells him, ‘That wasn’t a mere stone. It was a wish-fulfilling touch stone.’
Then the poor man cries out, ‘Alas! Where did I keep that touch stone?’”
A man went to the market keeping 500 dollars in his pocket, but upon reaching there, he did not find the money in his pocket. What will he do? If he was a poor man, then his life airs will dry. He will anxiously search for the money. He will think, “What can I do to recover the money? What can I do?”
So, Krishna said, “In this way, although we previously met; I disappeared from you all to increase your love for Me. I wanted to see the nature of your love for Me. Therefore, I never went anywhere. My dear gopis, I am indebted to you.”
na paraye ‘ham niravadya-samyujam
sva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vah
ya mabhajan durjara-geha-srnkhalah
samvrscya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna
—Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.32.22
I am not able to repay My debt for your spotless service, even within a lifetime of Brahma. Your connection with Me is beyond reproach. You have worshiped Me, cutting off all domestic ties, which are difficult to break. Therefore please let your own glorious deeds be your compensation.]
“Oh gopis, our meeting is supremely pure. I can never repay My debt to you all even in My entire life. Being satisfied by your own selves, please cast this debt far away. Why? You will say, ‘You can repay the debt.’ But all of you left your homes and everything and came to me in the night with only one intention–to render service to Me. But, I have innumerable devotees. So who can I leave and to whom can I come near? It is not possible for Me to leave anyone. Therefore, I am always indebted to you.
If I tell you to ask for a boon, then you will all say, ‘We only want Your service.’ By giving My service, I will only become more indebted. So, it is not possible for Me to repay My debt to you all even in millions of lives. So, please be happy by your own glorious selves.”
Thus, Uddhava said:
asam aho carana-renu-jusam aham syam
Vrindavane kim api gulma-latausadhinam
ya dustyajam sva-janam arya-patham ca hitva
bhejur mukunda-padavim srutibhir vimrgyam
—Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.47.61
The gopis of Vrindavana have given up the association of their husbands, sons and other family members, who are very difficult to give up, and they have forsaken the path of chastity to take shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, Krishna, which one should search for by Vedic knowledge. Oh, let me be fortunate enough to be one of the bushes, creepers or herbs in Vrindavana, because the gopis trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet.]
Personalities like Uddhava, Narada, and Sukadeva Gosvami say, “Oh if we become a shrub of grass in Vrindavana and obtain the dust of the lotus feet of the gopis, then our lives will become successful. All the gopis have left everything for Krishna. They are always engaged in serving the lotus feet of Krishna. Thus, Parabrahma Krishna Himself follows every order of the gopis. How do Yasoda Maiya and the gopis make Krishna dance? They make Him dance by their prema. Therefore, in order to obtain the footdust of the gopis, if we take birth in Vrindavana as a shrub of grass, creeper, or tree; then our lives will be successful.”
—Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.47.63
I repeatedly offer my respects to the dust from the feet of the women of Nanda Maharaj’s cowherd village. When these gopis loudly chant the glories of Shri Krishna, the vibration purifies the three worlds.]
“I offer my obeisances to every particle of dust at the lotus feet of the gopis of Nandagaon, Varsana, and all of Vraja. I am not qualified to touch the dust of their lotus feet.” Who is saying this? Personalities like Uddhava are saying this. Krishna had sent Uddhava to Vraja to take the darsana of the gopis. Uddhava surrendered himself at the lotus feet of the gopis and thought, “They have such inconceivable prema for Krishna. Oh I want to be one particle of dust at the lotus feet of the gopis.”
What is the meaning of being one particle of dust? There are millions of dust particles. If Uddhava wants to be one particle of dust, then he is referring to one particular gopi. He wants to be one particle of dust at the lotus feet of Shrimati Radhika.
Uddhava says, “I offer my obeisances to the dust of the lotus feet of the gopis from a distance. There is nothing more I can do.”
If the immaculate histories of the gopis are taken out of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, then the Bhagavatam will become void. If the Shrimad Bhagavatam is removed from the Vedas, then the Vedas are useless. And if Krishna’s pastimes are removed from the Bhagavatam, then nothing will remain. What will remain if the pastimes of the gopis are taken out of Krishna’s pastimes? Nothing will remain; everything will be zero. Only nirvisesa-brahma will remain. Vyasadeva manifested the Shrimad Bhagavatam to proclaim the limitless love of the gopis. Sukadeva Gosvami then spoke the Bhagavatam to Pariksit Maharaj. The snake could not touch Pariksit Maharaj. If he died, then what can be said? Then how did he listen? So, Pariksit Maharaj did not die; he attained the lotus feet of Krishna in Goloka Vrindavana.
If I had more time, I would have explained further. So, if I get a chance again, then I will leave Vrindavana and come here. If all of you desire, then I will come here to speak hari-katha again. Now I will stop for today. If I have made any mistake or if I have spoken any harsh words, then I should be forgiven. I did not come to speak harsh words. Rather, I came to make you all listen to Krishna’s pastimes. Thus, by lovingly listening to these pastimes, your consciousness will be fixed on Krishna’s lotus feet. I only came for this. Hence, if I spoke any harsh words, then don’t make them remain in your minds.
I just spoke on the Bhagavatam. In this Bhagavatam, the pastimes of the gopis are most pure. So, you should also try to do Krishna’s bhajan. You may think, “I am a man, so how I can do bhajan following the footsteps of the gopis?” Oh brother, the soul is the feminine potency of Krishna. Krishna is the only male and everyone else is His feminine potency. According to their karma, some come as males and some come as females. While others come as animals like bears, snakes, tigers etc. All of Krishna’s beloved gopis are manifestations of Shrimati Radhika. Understanding this, you should try to surrender yourself at the lotus feet of Krishna like how the gopis did. Thus, our lives will be successful. If even one person has listened to what I have said and if with firm determination he thinks, “I will only do sadhana-bhajana for this. I will only do Krishna’s bhajan for this.” Then, I will think that my preaching in the West is successful.
Gaura Premanande! Hari Haribol!
*Transcribed and edited by the Govardhana dasa.