Excerpt from a lecture on Çréla Sanätana Gosvämé’s Çré Båhad-bhägavatämåta
Çré Çrémad Bhaktivedänta Näräyaëa Gosvämé Mahäräja
[NOTE: This page uses Balarama font
25 May 2003
The Ultimate Attainment
What kind of kåñëa-prema do we want? Not the prema of Hanumän or the Päëòavas or even Uddhava. We will not reject their prema; we will offer praëäma to it. But we do not want it. What do we want? Do we want to serve Kåñëa as Çrématé Rädhikä is serving Him? No. We also offer so many praëämas to that prema. Our goal is to serve that prema, but we do not desire it ourselves.
We want to serve Çrématé Rädhikä and Çré Kåñëa in the way Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé and Çré Rüpa Maïjaré serve Them. By this one will be perfect. It is the topmost status for the jéva. You should realize this and not waste a single moment in sense gratification. Try to maintain your life, but make this status the aim and object of your life.
We have discussed the various stages of devotees up to the Päëòavas, whom we have been glorifying. They are Kåñëa’s bosom friends, and Kåñëa is their servant. What to speak of serving them, Kåñëa even grooms and massages their horses. Kunté is like Kåñëa’s mother, Yudhiñöhira His father and elder brother, and Bhéma His brother and friend. Arjuna has
more intimate a friendship with Kåñëa than does Bhéma, and Draupadé has even more intimacy with Kåñëa than do any of the Päëòavas, although she sometimes also has a mood of reverence towards Him. She is a sakhé of Kåñëa. Try to know all these facts.
Speaking to Närada Åñi, Arjuna explained that he and the other Päëòavas are actually bereft of good fortunate. “Kåñëa teaches us the Gétä,” he said. “He tells us to be çaraëägata, surrendered souls; but we are His intimate associates, His friends. I cannot say how many lives ago we surrendered to Him. Thus we are very unfortunate.
“Also, when Kåñëa performs any service for us we become quite ashamed. One time, against our wishes, He became my charioteer and was even washing and massaging my horses. Why did He do this? It was not in fact for me. It was simply part of His overall plan to kill the demons.
“I did not want to slay Bhéñma-pitämaha, Droëäcärya and my other worshipable superiors, but I had to do so. I told Kåñëa that I could not fight with Droëa and Bhéñma-pitämaha because they are my gurus; nonetheless Kåñëa obliged me to kill them. How painful it was. Bhéñma was an exalted bhakta, and to kill him was very sinful.
“I further told Kåñëa, ‘You are known as Madhusüdana, killer of the Madhu demon, and not as “killer of your guru”.’ No one is to kill his guru, who should be regarded as superior to one’s own father. Nonetheless Kåñëa repeatedly urged me to shoot my gurus. He has not actually served us, nor are we near and dear to Him. Why has Kåñëa come to this world? To protect the entire universe, to assist the demigods and vanquish the demons. This is His sole purpose.”
Arjuna continued, “If you really want to see an exalted reservoir of love and affection for
Kåñëa, you should at once fly to Dvärakä and seek out Uddhava.”
The Speciality of Uddhava
Who is Uddhava?
våñëénäà pravaro mantré
kåñëasya dayitaù sakhä
çiñyo båhaspateù säkñäd
Çukadeva Gosvämé said: The supremely intelligent
was the best counselor of the Våñëidynasty, a beloved
friend of Çré Kåñëa and a direct disciple of Båhaspati.
Kåñëa Himself told Uddhava:
na tathä me priyatama
ätma-yonir na çaìkaraù
na ca saìkarñaëo na çrér
naivätmä ca yathä bhavän
Kåñëa said, “Uddhava, you are most dear to Me. Brahmä, who is My son; Çaìkara, who is non-different from Me; My brother Saìkarñaëa; the goddess of fortune Çré Lakñmé; and even My very own life, are not as dear to Me as you are. You are so close to Me.” Kåñëa has also declared, “Do not think that Uddhava is even slightly inferior to Me. He is as good as I am,
and sometimes he may even be greater.” How exalted Uddhava is.
Närada thus left Arjuna and traveled to Dvärakä to meet Uddhava. He glorified Uddhava and the Yädavas, to which Uddhava replied, “Don’t speak like this. I know that I am a high-class devotee of Kåñëa and that Kåñëa’s queens are also very dear to Him. Kåñëa once gave a pärijäta flower to Rukmiëé, and He also stole an entire pärijäta tree from heaven and planted it in Satyabhämä’s courtyard.”
The Story of the Pärijäta Flower
One day Kåñëa was sitting among His wives in Dvärakä – all 16,108 queens were present, including Rukmiëé and Satyabhämä. Närada arrived there with a pärijäta flower plucked from heaven and told Kåñëa, “Please take this flower and give it to Your favourite queen.” Kåñëa thought, “Närada is very tricky; he wants to throw Me in a dilemma. If I give this flower to
Rukmiëé, then Satyabhämä and the other queens will be angry, and it will take great effort to pacify them. And if I hand it to Satyabhämä, then Rukmiëé will be jealous.”
Närada interrupted His thoughts, “Don’t delay. I have pressing business to complete. Please give the flower to one of Your queens now, in my presence, before I leave.” Kåñëa wondered what to do. Närada kept insisting, so He took the flower, closed His eyes, and gave it to Rukmiëé. He thought that by closing His eyes, the other queens would be unable to tell that He was intentionally selecting her. At once, breathing heavily like a serpent, Satyabhämä ran to her palace. She threw off all her garments and ornaments, put on some old, ragged and dirty clothes and, weeping, entered her kop-bhavan, “anger-room”.
Kings used to build “anger-rooms” for their queens. If a queen took shelter there, the king knew he would have to pacify her. Now Satyabhämä went into her kop-bhavan and began to weep loudly. Her many maidservants were pacifying her, in a way that Kåñëa would know He had committed a great wrong. Kåñëa approached Satyabhämä and gently put His
hand on her, but she immediately pushed Him away. “Go away at once,” she said bitterly. “Return to Your dearest queen. You are a liar. You ridiculed and insulted me in front of the entire assembly.”
Kåñëa said, “Listen, I gave a single pärijäta flower to Rukmiëé, and you have become so upset. I will bring an entire pärijäta tree from the heavenly planets and plant it in your courtyard.”
Satyabhämä replied, “You could not give me even a single flower, and now You say You will bring me a whole tree.”
“Come with me,” Kåñëa said. At once he called Garuòa and, sitting on his back, they traveled to the heavenly planets together. There, Kåñëa fought against Indra and the demigods and defeated them. He uprooted a pärijäta tree and planted it in Satyabhämä’s courtyard.
The Glorious Yädavas
Uddhava continued speaking to Närada Åñi: “After defeating the demigods, Kåñëa also forcibly took away Sudharmä-sabhä, their famed heavenly assembly house, and brought it back with Him. Why? He knew the demigods had the false ego of being masters of the universe; so to crush their false pride He stole away Sudharmä-sabhä and brought it to Dvärakä. Just see how Kåñëa is serving the Yädavas in Dvärakä.
“Also, you should know that Kåñëa established Ugrasena, Kaàsa’s father, as emperor and said to him, ‘I am your servant. Please order Me and I will collect taxes for you from across the universe. Don’t be concerned.” Kåñëa thus became his subordinate.
“Saìkarñaëa, the son of Vasudeva Mahäräja and Rohiëé, is Kåñëa’s own brother. Kåñëa also has ten sons and one daughter from each of His queens – that is, 11 x 16,108 children in all. Through them He has so many grandchildren. These are all Kåñëa’s blood-relatives, His svajana. Although the Päëòavas are like Kåñëa’s brothers, they have no blood relation with Him; they are His friends. So how glorious are the residents of Dvärakä, the Yädavas.”
Uddhava admitted to Närada, “We are very highclass devotees and most dear to Kåñëa. I accept everything Kåñëa has said to me – that I am His advisor, friend, servant and so on. Nonetheless, I still lament.”
Why do you lament?” asked Närada.
“I was proud that I was serving Kåñëa in so many ways, but my
false ego was crushed when I went to Våndävana and witnessed the gopés’ glories.
Their love is as high as
Lord Brahmä declares:
aho bhägyam aho bhägyaà
pürëaà brahma sanätanam
Kåñëa is the supreme authority, the Lord of lords. He is unrivalled and all-powerful, and yet He is very sweet. He can destroy an entire universe in a moment, and create millions of universes in another. Nevertheless, that same Kåñëa wants to serve the gopés. He is the dear friend and son of everyone in Vraja-Nandagram.
Uddhava himself has prayed:
etäù paraà tanu-bhåto bhuvi gopa-vadhvo
govinda eva nikhilätmani rüòha-bhäväù
väïchanti yad bhava-bhiyo munayo vayaà ca
kià brahma-janmabhir ananta-kathä-rasasya
In this world the
Although Çré Govinda lives in Goloka-
Våndävana, He also sustains and nourishes all
beings in all parts of His creation. Therefore
Uddhava has prayed, “Those who fear material
existence, as well as others such as myself and
so many åñis and munis, hanker to serve that
Kåñëa, especially when He is in the company of
the gopés. We have no desire to take birth in a
brähmaëa dynasty, or even to become Brahmä
äsäm aho caraëa-reëu-juñäm ahaà syäà
våndävane kim api gulma-latauñadhénäm
yä dustyajaà sva-janam ärya-pathaà ca hitvä
bhejur mukunda-padavéà çrutibhir vimågyäm
Uddhava desired to become grass in
Våndävana. He prayed, “When Kåñëa associates
with the gopés or when the gopés go to
meet Kåñëa, they will place their feet on that
grass and my life will be successful.” What is
the status of the gopés and their love and affection
for Kåñëa, and how does it compare with
the love of Uddhava?
yä vai çriyärcitam ajädibhir äpta-kämair
yogeçvarair api yad ätmani räsa-goñöhyäm
kåñëasya tad bhagavataù caraëäravindaà
nyastaà staneñu vijahuù parirabhya täpam
Brahmä, Çaìkara and all other demigods perform arcana of the feet of Lakñmé, and that very Lakñmé performed austerities to serve Kåñëa in Våndävana,but was unable to attain His service. She wanted to enter the räsa-lélä, but Kåñëa did not accept her. Uddhava began to weep as he continued:
We are gradually approaching the aim and object of our sädhana. You should have some greed to collect this jewel. Uddhava is saying here, “O gopés, I want to be the dust of your lotus feet; not many dust particles, but only a single one, as I cannot digest good fortune greater than this.” There are countless gopés, but in his mind Uddhava has selected one particular gopé, namely, Çrématé Rädhikä. He desired just one particle of Her foot-dust.
Uddhava prayed to the gopés:
mahän me ’nugrahaù kåtaù
He is saying, “O gopés, you have conquered Kåñëa and controlled Him in all respects. He is now totally yours. I am unable to convey to Him what you have said out of separation from Him. He may even die upon hearing it. I do not have your mood of separation. You are mahä-bhägä, most fortunate. You are superior to Yudhiñöhira, me and even Giriräja- Govardhana. You have bestowed so much mercy upon me, but I am very unfortunate, being unqualified to receive it.” And thus Uddhava wept.
The Height of Selfless Service
Hearing the glories of the Vrajaväsés, the old and senile Padmävaté, mother of wicked Kaàsa, shook her head and said, “Alas! Those merciless cowherd men are very cruel. They made Kåñëa take their cows out to graze all day, from His early childhood. They never gave Him any shoes or an umbrella to shield Him from the blazing sun. They never even fed Him. And when, tortured by hunger, He ate a little butter, the cowherd women tied Him up!”
To this, Rohiëé replied sharply: “Padmävaté, you are shameless and have no heart. You are the one who is very cruel. You have spoken as you have because you know nothing of love and affection.
“Vraja was beset by great calamities. Many demons, like Pütanä, Aghäsura, Bakäsura and Keçé,
came to create a huge disturbance and torment the Vrajaväsés. Nonetheless, the Vrajaväsés never blamed Kåñëa for this. Everything they do is out of love for Him and is only to please Him. They are unequalled in their love and affection; they are indeed unique in this world.
“Indra also wanted to destroy Vraja, and for this he sent torrential rain and thunderbolts to Vraja. Then the yamala-arjuna trees almost crushed Kåñëa. In every such incident, the gopés only desired Kåñëa’s welfare. They uttered mantras like ‘maìgalam bhavatu’ and ‘kalyänam bhavatu’ – ‘May auspiciousness be upon You.’ In whatever they do, whether it is the worship of Giriräja-Govardhana, Näräyaëa or any other deity, they pray, ‘O Näräyaëa, please let me behold Kåñëa.’ Just see the glory of the gopés.”
Kåñëa Himself has told the gopés, “na päraye ’haà niravadya-saàyujäà – I can never repay you. I am unable to abandon any of My devotees, not even a sädhaka in this world, whereas you have left your very own fathers, mothers, sisters, wealth, reputation and worldly dharma. I cannot do this, and so I am unable to repay you. I therefore pray that you will be merciful to Me and be satisfied by your own good activities. Only in this way can I be freed from my debt to you.”
Çré Rädhä’s Victory
And who is the most glorious of all?
venuà karän nipatitaà skhalitaà çikhaëòaà
bhrañöaà ca péta-vasanaà vrajäräja-sünoù
täà rädhikäà paricarämi kadä rasena
Çré Rädhä-rasa-sudhä-nidhi (39)
Çréla Prabodhänanda Sarasvaté has established that of all the gopés, Çrématé Rädhikä is the most prominent. He explains here: “As Kåñëa was on his way to go cow-herding, Rädhikä threw a sidelong glance at Him, which pierced Him like an arrow. It went straight into His heart, and at once His vaàçé fell from His hands.
“Brahmä, and indeed all living creatures, are attracted by Kåñëa’s vaàçé. Upon hearing its sweet sound, the gopés immediately abandoned the service of their husbands and the cooking in their homes. Their chapätés were burning on the fire and their milk was boiling over, but they left all their duties. That same vaàçé, which controls all the gopés, now dropped out of Kåñëa’s hands, due to the sidelong, arrow-like glance of Çrématé Rädhikä.
“Day and night, Kåñëa carries His vaàçé, and His peacock feather always rests on His head. But having been shot by Çrématé Rädhikä’s side-long glance, Kåñëa began to reel and lose consciousness – His peacock feather fell at Çré Rädhä’s feet, and His yellow cädara slid down from His shoulders. When will Rädhikä sprinkle Her mercy on me so that I may serve Her with rasa? What rasa? Prema, sneha, mäna, praëaya, räga, anuräga and so on.”
The Unrivalled Status of the Maïjarés
What to speak of Rädhikä, Kåñëa falls at the feet of even Her maidservants:
yat-kiìkaréñu bahuçaù khalu käku-väëé
nityaà parasya puruñasya çikhaëòa-mauleù
tasyäù kadä rasa-nidher våñabhänu-jäyäs
Çré Rädhä-rasa-sudhä-nidhi (8)
Once Rädhikä was in a sulky mood in a forest grove, and She ordered Rüpa Maïjaré and others to guard Her. She said, “Go to the entrance of this kuïja, and when that black cheater comes you should stop Him. Don’t let him enter My grove.”
Thus, when black Kåñëa arrived, Rüpa Maïjaré and Rati Maïjaré, standing guard at the entrance, checked Him: “You may enter only if Rädhä orders us to let You in. But now She is angry with You, so return to Candrävalé. Don’t come here.” Placing His head on the lotus feet of those kiìkarés (maidservants), Kåñëa begged for forgiveness. Çré Prabodhänanda Sarasvaté is praying to become one stick in the broom used for sweeping kuïjas. How glorious are those kiìkarés.
yäs toñayanti priyäù
kiläsaì kocitä bhümikäù
tä däsikäù aàçraye
Stavävalé, Vraja-viläsa-stava (38)
These kiìkarés serve Çré Rädhä alone or the Divine Couple together in all Their pastimes. They offer Them betel nuts (tämbüla), massage Them, fetch water, serve Rädhä when She goes out to meet Kåñëa, and engage in many other services. Here Çréla Raghunätha däsa Gosvämé prays, “I take shelter at the lotus feet of those kiìkarés, who have Çré Rüpa Maïjaré as their leader, because they and no one else can perform all these services.”
I too bow down at the lotus feet of the maïjarés headed by Çré Rüpa Maïjaré, and I pray that they will sprinkle their mercy on me. Beyond this, I don’t know anything.
Rays of the Harmonist
No. 13 Karttika 2003