[From 1990 to 1995, a group of ten to twelve ISKCON GBC sannyasis and other senior ISKCON members used to regularly visit Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja in his Vrndavana and Mathura temples, and sometimes in his quarters at the ISKCON Juhu Beach Temple. At those times they would inquire from him about the deep meanings in various Gaudiya-Vaisnava scriptures, such as Jaiva-dharma, Raga-vartma-candrika, the Rasa-pancadhyayi chapters of Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Sri Vilapa-kusumanjali. There were a few hundred such meetings, and the audio sound files of many of these meetings can be found on www.purebhakti.tv.
The following is Part 3 of one of these meetings, which took place on March 29, 1993.
Part 1 is posted here. Part 2 is posted here.
[Question:] Over the years, we have seen so many things happen to us and to the ISKCON movement, and in our observation very few devotees become actually serious about Krsna-consciousness. Very few devotees seriously take to Srila Prabhupada’s instruction to preach. If someone does take this instruction seriously, will the result be that he will be drawn toward your association and develop a taste for Krsna-consciousness?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Krsna will arrange what everyone will do. A devotee may come to me, he may come to you, to others in this room, or to others not present here. There are so many devotees; it is not necessarily that he will come to me.
The subject matters he discusses will be according to the amount of mercy he receives. There are several types of devotees. Devotees are not in one grade; there are so many various grades of devotees, and according to their grade they will come to you, to him, or to others. It depends on Krsna and the spiritual master.
Any other question?
[Question:] I had one, but…
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] You can ask. In this stage of your bhakti, such questions are more important for you than your hearing of Vilapa-kusumanjali. Because you have no actual greed, this topic is important. For those who have greed, there is no confusion at all. They will go straight ahead, whether there is fire on the way, or any other danger. They will jump past this danger and proceed on the path of pure bhakti. There will be no confusion at all.
So, any question?
[Question:] No. I am going to get the Vilapa-kusumanjali [meaning “A Bouquet of Prayers in the Lamentation of Separation] book in English, and then maybe when we come back to Vrndavana in July, we can discuss it more clearly.
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Those who have performed some actual bhakti, and have good association and guidance of self-realized souls, and are also realizing something – if they translate Vilapa-kusumanjali, their work will be somewhat correct. Otherwise, ordinary persons – those who are materially educated but not advanced in bhakti – cannot do this work. Surely there will be something wrong in their presentation. If there are persons in ISKCON like this, they can translate, and later on you can take their association. Translation work is not for ordinary persons. Moreover, it is not advisable to read an ordinary person’s translation, for such reading will give you the wrong conception.
I will explain to you the Tenth Verse of Vilapa-kusumanjali, in brief.
devi te carana-padma-dasikamDevi te carana-padma-dasikam means "O Devi, I am a maidservant at Your lotus feet." Within the phrase viprayoga-bhara-dava-pavakaih, prayoga means ‘to meet in all respects,’ and viprayoga means ‘not to meet in any respect.’ Another Sanskrit word that has a similar meaning to viprayoga is vipralambha. Vipralambha is generally understood to mean ‘separation from one’s beloved,’ but its deeper meaning is ‘meeting in an inner way.’ Just as prayoga is included in the word viprayoga, so pralambha, in this context meaning ‘obtaining’ or ‘meeting with,’ is within vipralambha (‘losing’ or ‘without meeting with’), and yoga (linking) is within viyoga (separating). If the sense of meeting, yoga, does not come within one’s heart during the time of separation, viyoga, then that period of separation is not favorable; that occurrence cannot truly be called viyoga or vipralambha.
[“O Devi! I, whose vine-like body burns in the forest fire of separation from You, am a maidservant of Your lotus-like feet. Please revive me at once with Your nectarean glances!”
(Vilapa-kusumanjali, Verse 10)]
Do you understand?
When external meeting with the beloved is not realized, then external vipralambha arises. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami begins to weep as he uttered this prayer, remembering previous pastimes of his service to Srimati Radhika. This is called vipralambha.
A man in his sleep may dream, and in his dream he may think, "I’m so wealthy. I am the emperor of the entire world. I am ordering everyone and everyone is carrying out my orders." When he awakens, however, he finds that he is sleeping on the earth with only a worn and torn blanket.
Similarly, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is remembering the service he was performing in his trance of meditation before that meditation broke. In his trance, in his gopi form as Tulasi Manjari, he had just taken the brush for painting Srimati Radhika’s lotus feet from Sri Krsna's hands. He was just about to serve Srimati Radhika’s lotus feet with that paint brush, when suddenly he saw that nothing was in his hands. Instead he saw, and thought, "Oh, I am not Tulasi Manjari. I am Raghunatha dasa. Where is Krsna? Neither Krsna nor my Svamini Srimati Radhika is here. I am Her maidservant, Her palya-dasi. Where is that kunja in Vrndavana?" Praying, he then began to weep in feelings of separation from Radhika, as if he were about to die.
Dava-pavakaih means ‘a huge conflagration,’ a raging forest fire which is hundreds of thousands of miles in area. Fires are blazing on all sides and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is in their midst. Such a blazing fire can be compared to the forest fires in Krsna’s transcendental pastimes in Bandiravana or Munjatavi. Everywhere there was fire, wherein all the cowherd boys and cows were about to burn and die.
Similarly here, not seeing Sri Krsna, Srimati Radhika, and all the sakhis, and not having that service for which he hankers, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami feels himself to be burning in a fierce forest fire. This fire is likened to a garland made of fire. As in a garland there are many flowers, so in this forest fire, here is fire, there is fire, everywhere there is fire. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami now prays, “I cannot escape from this fire garland. It is sure that I will burn in it; I will not remain alive.” His hands had been held out as if holding something, and now he feels as if a cintamani (wish-fulfilling) stone had come within his hand but was lost.
In Sri Ujjvala-Nilamani it has been stated that if the entire world's calamities and sufferings would be collected at one place, and all the happiness of Svarga (the planets of heaven) and this world would also be gathered, it would not be equal to a billionth part of the sorrow of this separation or the happiness of this meeting. *
Do you feel something – even an atomic spark – of that fire?
Who will realize this? Only one who has the experience of meeting can realize the mood of separation; otherwise it is not possible. By hearing alone this experience will not come. Even if some anarthas (undesirable habits and thoughts) are removed from our hearts, it may come only to a slight extent – a fraction of an atomic part.
We should begin feeling this mood of separation with our Gurudeva and the Vaisnavas. If we have some feeling of separation from them, there is a chance that some day we can experience this fire of separation for Srimati Radhika. If we can weep for our spiritual master and those Vaisnavas who have given us even very slight mercy, then by their mercy we can enter the path leading to this mood of separation from Srimati Radhika. Then, feeling this separation, there will be no further trace of any material emotion. There will only be constant weeping.
Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is feeling such separation because he has attained the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, and other associates of the Lord. He prays to Srila Sanatana Gosvami in the sixth verse of Vilapa-kusumanjali:
vairagya-yug-bhakti-rasam prayatnairSrila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has also written many prayers to Srila Rupa Gosvami. In the first verse of Vilapa-kusumanjali he prays:
apayayan mam anabhipsum andham
krpambudhir yah para-duhkha-duhkhi
sanatanas tam prabhum asrayami
["I was unwilling to drink the nectar of devotional service possessed of renunciation, but Sanatana Gosvami, out of his causeless mercy, made me drink it even though I was otherwise unable to do so. Therefore he is an ocean of mercy. He is very compassionate to fallen souls like me, and thus it is my duty to offer my respectful obeisances unto his lotus feet."
(Vilapa Kusumanjali 6)]
tvam rupa-manjari sakhi prathita pure’sminNow, in this tenth verse, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami weeps and prays to Srimati Radhika, "O Goddess, who is the abode of the playful pastimes of Sri Krsna (Devi), I am feeling as though a chain of forest fires surrounds me and I am burning in it. Dahyamanatara-kaya-vallari – this fire has come to envelop me; it is just about to take my creeper-like body in its lap. Now it is going to burn me, and there is no indication that I will be saved.
pumsah parasya vadanam na hi pasyasiti
bimbadhare ksatam anagata-bhartrkaya
yat te vyadhayi kim u tac chuka-pungavena
["My dear friend Rupa Manjari! You are well known in Vraja for your chastity. You don't even look at the faces of other men! It is therefore surprising that your lips, which are as beautiful as red bimba-fruits, have been bitten, although your husband is not at home. Has this perhaps been done by the best of parrots?"]
“Only You have the medicine for this. Jivaya ksana niriksanamrtaih – if You desire, You can save me in less than a moment; in a hundredth part of a moment. How? Niriksana-amrtaih – in Your momentary glance, there are many oceans of nectar. Please glance upon me."
What does Raghunatha dasa Gosvami want? He prays, "O Radhika, please grant me the vision I saw previously in my trance. Please let me hear Your laughter. Why would You be laughing? Sri Krsna is painting a design on Your lotus feet and You are telling Him, ‘Oh Krsna, You are not at all efficient in this work. You are new and inexperienced.’ Then You are glancing at me and saying, ‘O Tulasi, you should do this service.’ Smiling, You tell Krsna, ‘Give the brush to her. She will paint.’
“This is what I want. You smile as You order Krsna, and He is not willing to give up the paint brush. I will then try to forcibly take it, saying, 'My Svaminiji has ordered You to give me the brush, and still You are not giving it up?' Again Krsna will refuse and again I will try to take it. That is the glance I want. If You give this glance to me, then I will be saved. Otherwise, I am going to die; Surely I must die."
This is the very brief explanation of this verse.
[Question:] The guru and the Vaisnava will give mercy that is appropriate to the disciple, and according to the ability of the disciple to digest. How can the disciple increase his ability to digest?
[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] The guru will give mercy for this also. A doctor will give medicine to digest, and also for health, and also for recovering. Similarly, the guru can give mercy to increase his disciples’ ability to digest his mercy and instructions.
Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is certainly our very dear friend. If he had not come to this world, we would not be able to follow Srila Rupa Gosvami. It is very difficult to practice Srila Rupa Gosvami’s teachings in Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, and especially in Sri Ujjvala-nilamani. But by his own life, and through his writings like Vilapa-kusumanjali, Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has practically demonstrated how to follow Srila Rupa Gosvami. Because he left his experience for us to follow, in the form of his Vilapa-kusumanjali and other prayers, we are greatly indebted to him. Try to remember this, and worship his lotus feet and the lotus feet of your Gurudeva.
In Ujjvala-nilamani, Srila Rupa Gosvami has included a verse spoken by Lord Siva to his wife Parvati about the exalted nature of Srimati Radhika’s prema for Krsna:
lokatitam ajanda koti gam api traikalikam yat sukhamIn Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 2.49), Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has similarly said:
duhkham ceti prthag yadi sphutam ubhe te gacchatah kutatam
naivabhasa tulam sive tad api tat kutadvayam radhika
premodyat sukha duhkha sindhu bhavayor vindeti bindor api
["O Parvati! If one were to make separate piles of all the happiness and misery in both these three worlds as well as in the spiritual worlds, it could not equal even a drop of the happiness (during meeting) and misery (during separation) which Srimati Radhika experiences due to Her prema for Krsna!"]
suddha-prema-sukha-sindhu, pai tara eka bindu,Krsna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami comments in the next verse (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 2.50):
sei bindhu jagat dubaya
["Suddha-prema is like an ocean of happiness. If I can get just one drop of that ocean, the whole world could drown in that drop."]
bahye visa-jvala haya, bhitare ananda-maya[Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke, “‘My dear beautiful friend, if one develops love of Godhead, love of Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, all the bitter and sweet influences of this love will manifest in one’s heart. Such love of Godhead acts in two ways. The poisonous effects of love of Godhead defeat the severe and fresh poison of the serpent. Yet there is simultaneously transcendental bliss, which pours down and defeats the pride of nectar and diminishes its value. In other words, love of Krsna is so powerful that it simultaneously defeats the poisonous effects of a snake, as well as the happiness derived from pouring nectar on one’s head. It is perceived as doubly effective, simultaneously poisonous and nectarean.’”
krsna-premara adbhuta carita
["The wonderful characteristic of krsna-prema is that externally it appears as the burning of poison, but internally it is ananda-maya, full of transcendental ecstasy."]