chaitanya mahaprabhu


The following is a class from the Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 6, chapter 9, text 52, given by His Grace Jananivas Prabhu on the 9 March 2007 at Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha Mandir, Chowpatty, Mumbai.

Indra is probably the most desirable position in the material world.  The position of Indra affords the most material enjoyment because Indra is king of the heavenly planets.

The Hari Bhakti Vilas provides a beautiful meditation on Krishna.  It describes how His shark-shaped earrings reflect on His shiny cheeks; the masses of His black, curly hair; how He is lying on a couch, playing His flute.  The demigods appear before Krishna (in his majestic feature).  They are offering prayers to Him.  The Gandharvas are there also.

There are 8,400,000 different types of bodies in this world – all based on different combinations of material desires.

The bulls and the cows come and see Krishna.  That is called santa rasa (love of God in neutrality).  There are also the babies, with bells on their ankles, the cowherd boys and the elder gopis.  The gopis faces are half-covered and their eyes are half-closed.   They are trying to see Krishna.  They are trembling uncontrollably.  They try to suppress their trembling, so the bells around their waists and ankles won’t ring. 

These are meditations for pujaris (priests of the Deity).

The neophyte devotee’s objective is to see the Deity form of Krishna in the Temple.  Ideally, we should also see Krishna in everyone’s heart.

Srila Prabhupada was on Juhu beach with one of his disciples, Dravida Maharaja.  They were looking at the ocean.  Srila Prabhupada asked, ‘What do you see?’  Dravida replied, ‘Krishna.’  Srila Prabhupada asked, ‘How?’  Maharaja answered, ‘I am the taste of water.’  Prabhupada looked a the salty water, ‘See.  This is the energy of Krishna.’

Sometimes you look at Radha-Gopinath (the Deities at the Mumbai Temple) and you see it’s Krishna.  You don’t have to analyze.  The gopis see a black tamala tree.  Radharani embraces the tamala tree.  All Her friends laugh at Her.  It’s not that they don’t see a tree – but they see Krishna (the tamala tree is black like Him).  They see things, but they see Krishna present in them.

The demigiods are not pure, unalloyed devotees.  Even in Vaikuntha.  In Vaikuntha they are pure, but they are not unalloyed.  The residents of Goloka Vrindavan are unalloyed.  The devas or demigods are devotees, but they are thinking of their desires.  Pure, unalloyed devotees only want Krishna’s pleasure.  Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to teach that.

Indra will kill Vritrasura with the bones of Dadici.  Vritrasura knows this.  When Indra drops his weapon, Vritrasura says, ‘Pick up your weapon and kill me.  It is Vishnu’s will that you kill me.’

The demigods fear death because they do not want to lose their position.  Srila Prabhupada, ‘Do you believe in reincarnation?’  The devotees, ‘No.  We are going back to Godhead.’  Prabhupada, ‘Lord Caitanya’s waiting for the devotees with a Sankirtan party.’

The Srimad Bhagavatam will bring out the particular relationship we have with Krishna.  The Bhagavatam gives all the different relationships you can have with Krishna.

The devotees do not want anything.  For example, Hanuman.  If Lord Rama wants Hanuman to have liberation, he’ll take it.  But, if it interferes with his service, he’ll reject it.

Who has come to give this essence of what Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to give? Krishna came 5,000 years ago.  He performed divine pastimes.  He left instructions, sarva-dharman parityajya – just surrender unto Me.  People couldn’t follow such a high standard in the Age of Kali.  So, Caitanya Mahaprabhu came – with no demands.  Just giving.  Freely giving vraja-prema.  Mahaprabhu’s our hero.

There is a prediction.  All the different sampradayas (disciplic traditions in India) will fall under Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Sankirtan mission.  Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared, ‘I will give them the opportunity to taste vraja-prema.  This is the maha-mantra.’

We are eternal.  We have an eternal relationship with Krishna.  Simultaneously, we have come from Krishna – aham sarvasya prabhavo.  ‘Make an eternal change!’   You can change your eternal relationship.  There is the example of Shymananda.  He had a relationship of friendship with Krishna, but obtained a relationship in the conjugal rasa.  He changed his attitude in the association of Jiva Goswami, Narrottama and Srinivas.  His guru beat him with a stick, ‘Why are you crying in ecstasy hearing the pastimes of Radha and Krishna?  You don’t know what pleasure you’re missing in sakhya rasa.  You’re taking something lower!’

You cannot change you eternal position as servant of God or Krishna – jivera svarupa haya krisnera nitya das.  Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains different relationships.  If you want material relationships – even with your own family.  When you’re realized, you can even have an eternal planet with your own family!  This is called satya sankalpa.  When you are pure, everything you desire becomes manifest. If you want to be a friend of Krishna, you can take birth in a family of gopas (cowherds), where their association will draw that relationship out.  You will get the association of nitya-siddhas (eternally perfect souls) and take birth as a gopi with gopis – if that is your pure desire.  The mood has to be empowered by devotees.  Thereafter, you go to the Spiritual World or the Kingdom of God.

You can change your body in the material world, so why not spiritually?

English: Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

English: Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is one of my favourite classes by the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

manusyanam sahasresu/kascid yatati siddhaye/yatatam api siddhanam/ kascin mam vetti tatvattah

‘Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows me in truth’ [Bg. 7.3]

‘To understand Krsna is not very easy.  Krsna says manusyanam sahasresu: ‘Out of many millions and millions of persons,’ one tries to become perfect.  Who is going to become perfect, especially in this age?  Everyone is working like cats and dogs.  The whole day is spent working for eating, sleeping, sex and defense, that’s all.  People are not living as manusyas, as human beings.

ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca/samanyam etat pasubhir naranam/dharmo hi tesam adhiko viseso/dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah

‘Both animals and humans share the activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending.  But the special property of the humans is that they are able to engage in spiritual life.  Therefore without spiritual life, humans are on the level of animals [Hitopadesa]

What is the difference between my eating and the dog’s?  He is eating according to his taste, and I am eating according to my taste.  The eating business is there in the dog also.  Don’t think that your eating is different because you are eating nice preparations on a table, with a chair and plates.  It is still eating.

People say, ‘Because I am eating nice preparations on a table, I am civilized’.  The sastra, scripture, says that although your food may be different, your eating and the dog’s eating are the same.   You are not civilized just by eating at a table.  Similarly, the dog can sleep on the street without caring for anything, and we cannot sleep without a nice apartment, but both we and the dog are sleeping.   And for sexual intercourse, the dog has no shame.  It can enjoy sex on the street.  We have some restrictions, but the sex is there nonetheless.  And bhaya means defense, to take care of our fears.  That is there in the dog and in you also.  It does not make any difference.  Because you have discovered the atomic bomb for defense, that does not mean that you are better than a dog.  He defends himself according to his intelligence, and you defend yourself according to your intelligence.

Human beings and animals have these four businesses in common: eating, sleeping, mating, and defending.  Then what is the special advantage of human life?  That advantage is athato brahma jijnasa: You should be inquisitive to know the value of life, the Absolute Truth.  The dog cannot do that.  That is the distinction between a dog and a human being.  In the human form of life there should be inquiry about Brahman and Parabrahman, spirit and the Supreme Spirit.  When you attain brahma-jnana, knowledge of the Absolute Truth, that is your perfection, not competing with the dog in eating, sleeping, mating and defending.  That is not civilization.  That is not perfection of life.  Foolish persons who are animalistic, like dogs and cats, do not know the aim of life.

na te viduh svartha-gathim hi visnum/durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah/andha yathandhair upaniyamanas/te pisa tantryam uru-damni baddhah

‘Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to the external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead, and engage in the service of Lord Visnu.  As blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are bound by the ropes of fruitive labor, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries’ [SB 7.5.31]

The aim of life is to understand Visnu, the Supreme Lord.  People are trying to become happy in the bahir-artha, in the external energy of God, the material energy.  And the so-called leaders, politicians, philosophers, and scientists are all blind.  They do not know the aim of life.  Still, they are leading the whole society.

Uru-damni baddhah.  Uru means very strong, and damni means rope.  If I tie you with a very strong rope, it is very difficult to untie it, and you are put into difficulty.  Similarly, we in this material world are tied very tightly by the laws of material nature.  And still we declare, ‘I am free.  I am independent.  I can do whatever I like’.  That is called imperfection.  As long as we are in the bodily concept of life and think ourselves free to do whatever we like, we are in ignorance, darkness, tama.  Tama means darkness.

A Vedic injuction is tamasi ma jyotir gama: ‘Don’t remain in darkness; go to the light.’  Darkness means thinking, ‘I am this body, and fulfilling the necessities of the body is the highest perfection of my life.’  Everyone is trying to have a skyscraper and three Rolls Royces, and so on.  They think this is the perfection of life.   They do not think to ask, ‘How many years shall I have this skyscraper?  And what is my main business? My main business is how to become perfect.’

There are many animals within the skyscraper.  There are human beings, dogs, cats, worms, rats – so many things.  So the right to live in a skyscraper is there even for worms, cats, and rats.  Then what is the difference between these animals and me?  The difference is that I can become perfect.  I can ask, ‘What am I?  Am I this body?’  This should be the question.

Krsna says here, ‘The ultimate goal is to understand me.’  Vetti mam tattvatah – to understand Krsna in fact, in truth, not superficially.  That is required.  Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah [Bg. 15.15].  If you are a great scholar studying all kinds of Vedic literature, then you must know Krsna.  If you do not understand Krsna and simply study the Vedas, it is a useless waste of time.

dharmah svanusthitah pumsam/visvakena-kathasu yah/notpadayed yadi ratim/srama eva hi kevalam

‘The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead’ [SB 1.2.8]

You are executing your occupational duties very nicely, honestly.  That is all right.  But if after executing your duties very honestly and nicely you do not awaken your dormant Krsna consciousness, then srama eva hi kevalam: You are simply wasting your time.  Useless.  When you understand Krsna, that is the highest perfection.  But nobody is interested.  Therefore Krsna says in today’s verse, manusyanam sahasresu…: ‘Out of many millions of persons’, one may be interested.  Otherwise, all are in darkness.

What is siddhi, as mentioned here?  Siddhi means to understand my constitutional position, what I am.  I am trying to lord it over material nature in so many ways.  Is that my position?  But I am a failure.  I am trying to lord it over material nature as a big man – as a minister or a zamindar or a big business magnate.  And when I am a failure, then I want to become God.  That is another ambition.

This is not self-realization.  Self-realization means to understand, ‘I am trying to lord it over material nature in so many ways, but my attempt is becoming baffled.  Why?  With great endeavor I become a head of state, and I do not wish to die, but death comes and takes away everything – my political position, my wealth, my family, everything.’  Mrtyuh sarva-haras caham [Bg 10.34].  Who is taking?  That is Krsna.

When you realize, ‘I am trying to accumulate so many things but Krsna is taking everything away,’ then why don’t you surrender to Krsna so that He may not take away your position?  That is siddhi.  ‘I am not independent.  I am trying to be independent, but it is not possible.  I am dependent.  I am an eternal servant of Krsna.’

That is self-realization.  That has been taught by Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  Jivera ‘svarupa  haya – krsnera ‘nitya-dasa: ‘It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krsna.’ [Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.108-109].  Brahman realization – aham brahmasmi – is liberation from the material conception of life.  ‘I am not matter.  I am not the body, but I am spirit soul.’  Aham brahmasmi.  That is the first step of self-realization.  But that is not final.  The final realization is ‘I am an eternal servant of Krsna.’  As long as you do not come to that position – the final, consitutional position that ‘I am an eternal servant of Krsna’ – then knowledge is lacking; there is no perfection of knowledge.

Therefore, Krsna says in Bhagavad-git [7.19], bahunam janmanam ante…vasudevah sarvam iti: ‘After many, many births, when one is actually self-realize – in awareness, fully in knowledge – then he understands that Vasudeva [Krsna] is everything.’  ‘Vasudeva is the supreme everything.  I am simply part and parcel of Vasudeva, an eternal servant of Vasudeva.’  Sa mahatma sudurlabhah.  One who thinks in that way, that kind of perfect person – a mahatma – is very, very rare.  A mahatma understands, ‘I am an eternal servant of Krsna.  My only business is to serve Krsna.  That is my constitutional position.  I am part and parcel of Krsna.’

This finger is part and parcel of my body.  Its business is to serve the whole body.  I ask the finger, ‘Come here,’ and immediately it comes.  That is the normal, healthy condition of the part and parcel.  My leg is part and parcel of my body.  As soon as I ask the leg, ‘Please take me there,’ it does so.  That is normal.  And if the leg cannot take me there – if I have to take help from a stick – that is not normal.  It is a diseased condition has to be treated.  Similarly, as soon as we find that we do not abide by the orders of Krsna, we must know that we are in ignorance and in an abnormal condition, madness.

To serve Krsna is my duty.  Krsna does not require my help, and still he asks me to surrender to his order.  That is for my good.  If I surrender to Krsna, then that is my benefit.  Krsna does not require my service.  He is omnipotent.  But we are such rascals that we think, ‘Why shall I surrender to Krsna?’  That is perfection.

When you come to the point that you abide by the order of Krsna and surrender to Him, that is perfection.  But people do not do that. 

na mam duskrtino mudhah/prapadyante naradhamah/mayayapahrta-jnana/asuram bhavam asritah

‘Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto me’ [Bg. 7.15]  

Why do they not surrender?  Because they are duskritinah, always performing sinful activities, and they are mudhah, rascals.  They do not known their own interest.  And naradhama means the lowest of mankind.  Krsna says, ‘This human body was given to him by material nature to understand me, to surrender to me, but he will not do this.  Therefore: lowest of mankind.’

Someone may object, ‘No, he is so educated.’  No, this is nonsense.  If he does not understand Krsna, what is the meaning of education?  There is no education.  Mayayapahrta-jnanah: his knowledge is stolen by illusion.  Why?  Asuram bhavam asritah: he’s defying Krsna, defying God.  

‘What is God?  I am God.’  This is the position of everyone in the material world, and especially in this age, Kali-yuga.  In Kali-yuga, people are all first-class fools.  That is described in the Bhagavatam [1.1.1o]:

prayenalpayusah sabhya/kalav asmin yuge janah/mandah sumanda-matayo/manda-bhagya upadrutah

‘O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives.  They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky, and above all, always disturbed’

Kali-yuga is a very difficult age.  In ignorance people fight, quarrel.  Kali means ‘fight’.  Therefore it is called Kali-yuga.  In this age especially, the inhabitants are manda.  Manda means all bad.  Nobody is good.  And sumanda-matayah: Everyone has his own conception of perfection – all bogus.  Why this is?  Manda-bhagyah: because they are unfortunate.  No one knows what he shall eat the next morning or in the evening.  Everyone is in need.  There is scarcity all over the world.

And people are disturbed.  With the progression of Kali-yuga, people will be disturbed by two things especially: taxation and scarcity of food.  That is stated in Bhagavatam [12.2.9]: durbhiksa-kara-piditah.  Kara means taxation.  People will be embarrassed for want of food, and at the same time, every year there will be an increase of taxation.  They will be so disturbed that they will give up their money, wife, children – everything.  They will be disgusted: ‘Now it is impossible to maintain.  Let me go away.’

This is our position in Kali-yuga.  So five thousand years ago, when Krsna spoke Bhagavad-gita, at that time the position was manusyanam sahasresu – ‘one among thousands will try for perfection.  Now, on account of Kali-yuga, it is ‘one among millions.’  The percentage has increased to one in millions and millions.  

Therefore nobody is interested in this Krsna consciousness movement.  We are trying to give the highest perfection of life, but people are not interested.  They want to remain like cats and dogs and suffer the consequences.  That is going on.

This Krsna consciousness movement is very difficult to understand, but by the grace of Krsna it has been made very easy.  That is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam [12.2.51]: kaler dosa-nidher rajann asi hy eko mahan gunah.  Sukadeva Goswami described the faults of Kali-yuga to Parikisit Maharaja, but he encouraged him with one verse.  ‘My dear king, Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, but there is one very nice gain.’  What is that?  Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet: ‘Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra one can become free from all the troubles of Kali-yuga, become liberated, and go back home, back to Godhead.’  So take Krsna consciousness very seriously and make your life perfect’

Thank you very much.’ [Back To Godhead Magazine, March/April 2006]

18 March 2001, Sri Mayapur Dhama

Vaishnavas are like salt.  Salt pervades a dish, but cannot be seen.  Similarly, the presence of great devotees has a high impact, yet they never push themselves forward.  Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus are like that.   I never met them during my first visit to Mayapur in 1997, but certainly felt their presence.  As twin pujaris of ISKCON Mayapur, Jananivas and Pankajanghri are an integral part of the Mayapur experience.  This time I had heard more of their glories and wanted to hear from them and witness their unwavering dedication to Radha-Madhava.  I was not  disappointed.

Subhaga Maharaja gave the English Srimad Bhagavatam class in the Sankirtan Building on the morning of March 18 2001.  He spoke philosophically about the beauty and joyfulness of the bhakti process from Chapter 15 of the 7th Canto.  He related an incident where an impersonalist came to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur with mangos.  Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati distributed the mangoes to his disciples, leaving one rotten one for the impersonalist.  Bhaktisiddhanta said, ‘All is one.  So, this is the same’.  The man reluctantly ate the rotten mango.  He explained how Bhaktisiddhanta encouraged his disciples to honour sumptuous offerings of prashadam (offered foods) – gaja, sweet dal and laddhu – in Jagannatha Puri.  He quoted the founder of the Hare Krishna Movement, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, telling his disciples to ‘Eat Simply Wonderful [a delicious milk sweet], and go back to the wonderful world’.  Prashadam should be taken in moderation, however.  As we make advancement we should minimize our intake of prasada.  Today was Srivas Thakur’s Appearance Day.  It was also the tithi celebration of Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhu’s Appearance Day.  Subhaga Maharaja ended his class by saying, ‘Happy Birthday’ to the twins.  Pankajanghri prabhu humbly responded, ‘Make us happy’.

I visited the Yoga Pitha – the Birthplace of Lord Chaitanya – with Padmanabha prabhu.  Yoga Pitha means ‘blending-spot’ – where the spiritual comes in contact with the material creation.  We offered our obeisances to lord Siva – at the site where Mahaprabhu appeared. We bathed in Ganga again.  Then went home. I heard there was going to be a celebration – a vyasa-puja ceremony – for the twins, but did not know where it was going to take place.  The observance of the twins’ birthday was kept  secret because, in their humility, they often disappeared at the hint of a celebration.  They lived to serve Radha-Madhava and the Deities of the ISKCON Mayapura Candrodaya Mandir.

Some time after noon I saw Ganga prabhu, one of the local residents of Mayapur, leaving the Conch Building.  I followed him to Jananivas and Pankajanghri’s quarters, behind the Altar.  The devotees had brought two vyasasanas into their room and the brothers were seated next to each other with garlands around their necks.  A group of about thirty devotees – permanent residents of Mayapur – were singing the guru vandanam prayers, offering garlands and gifts to the brothers.  There was a queue of devotees standing in line.  Some were standing, some were making offerings to them and others were bowing at their feet.  The twins, in return, were handing out maha-prasada from the Deities.  It was a sweet and moving scene.

I gave Jananivas prabhu a picture of Radhanath Maharaja and His Grace dressing Radha-Gopinatha.  He exclaimed, ‘Oh, it’s Chowpatty!’  Jananivas placed a large simply wonderful in my hand.  I bowed and made way for the next person in  line.  Someone handed me a pair of karatalas, which I played ecstatically.  The kirtan was brief, but rousing.  Then Bhakti Purussotama Maharaja recited the prema-dhvani prayers.  The devotees moved in a colourful procession to the marble corridor behind the Deities.  A huge transcendental feast was served.  Some of the local preparations and western dishes that the twins liked were served.  The feast was out of this world:  I ate and ate but did not feel full.

Jananivas and Pankajanghri were sitting on the far end of the corridor with the Bengali brahmacaris.  At one point a cluster of brahmacaris leaned forward and took the remnants of both twins from their plates!  This is very rare because Jananivas and Pankajanghri are very humble and rarely let anyone take their remnants.  I sat there and appreciated their wonderful qualities and the wonderful celebration of their lives.

Padmanabha and I passed the tulasi grove of the brahmacari asrama and made our way to the rear entrance of the Temple.  We left our capalas by the doorway, rang the bell and entered.  We quickly offered obeisances and headed for Srila Prabhupada’s murti.  We offered dandavats to Srila Prabhupada, touched his feet and offered obeisances to Lord Sthanu-Nrsimha, Sri Sri Pancha-Tattva and Sri-Sri Radha-Madhava and the Asta-Sakhis.  Everything about Mayapur was big.  Chunky.  The Temple walkways, buildings, the two Temple rooms, the chandeliers, the tulasi plants on their mandaps, the altars and, of course, the Deities.  The largeness of the ISKCON Mayapur Campus seemed to radiate the audarya (mangnanimous) mood of Lord Chaitanya.  Radha-Madhava’s exalted pujaris, Jananivas and Pankajanghri prabhus, were also there – as always.

The Temple Room resembled an airport hangar.  The roof was high and the interior spacious.  Sri Sri Mayapura-candrodaya Mandir was not a ‘finished’ Temple in the sense of Krishna-Balarama Mandir in Vrindavan; or Radha-Rasabihari, in Mumbai.  His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ISKCON’s Founder-acarya, had placed Ananta-Sesa in the foundations in 1977.  He had  envisioned a colossal ‘Temple of the Vedic Planetarium’ in Mayapur.  Since he was no longer personally present, his disciples intended to fulfill his grand ambition.  This adbhuta mandir (‘magnificent Temple’) had been predicted by Lord Nityananda over 500 years ago.  His Holiness Jayapataka Maharaja related another prophecy by Srinivas Acharya, a confidential associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.  Srinivas Acharya had a vision in which he saw what appeared to be life-size Deities of the Pancha-Tattva, on the altar of a wonderful Temple, in Sri Mayapur Dhama.  These Deities were being worshipped by devotees from different parts of the world.  When Srinivas looked closer, however, he saw that the figures on the altar were not Deities but the Pancha-Tattva Themselves!  About a hundred years ago the great Vaishnava acarya, Bhaktivinoda Thakur, had a divine vision wherein he saw a beautiful Temple and Celestial City on the present ISKCON land.

One of our South African devotee-teachers, Nrsimhananda prabhu, was giving Bhagavad-gita class upstairs.  I rushed up the stair-case to catch the tail-end of it.  I marvelled at how much progress had been made on the Mayapur Campus since my first visit in 1997.  Everything was very pakka.  I mentioned this to the Director of ISKCON Mayapur, His Holiness Bhakti Purusottama Swami.  He humbly replied that it was because of the Festival.  We attended Gaura Arati, the auspicious worship of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in the Pancha-Tattva Temple Room.  The Festival period was over, so most of the foreign pilgrims had left and many of the local devotees had gone to Vrindavan or elsewhere.  There couldn’t have been more than 50 devotees in the Temple room.  Kirtan was still jubilant, and I got quite sweaty dancing, though the large fans kept me cool.  After arati, I caught up with some devotee acquainances.  I saw Subhaga Maharaja, whom I had met in Vrindavan in 1997.  The gentle Bengali sadhu informed me that he had had a brain tumour and that it had been removed.  He looked a little frail.  I also saw one of the cooks from Chowpatty Temple, Saci Suno prabhu.

I presented one of the pujaris with carob from my friend Nanda Kumar prabhu.  He gave me some of Radha-Madhava’s jewellery to give to him in reciprocation for his gift.  Padmanabha and I took some hot milk and moori with the brahmacaris, and returned to the ashram to take rest.

17 March 2001

I was happy to be in Mayapur after the Gaura Purnima Festival.  Although it is wonderfully auspicious to observe Gaura Purnima (the Appearance Day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) in the Holy Dhama, I was happy the crowds had left.  A handful of western pilgrims remained – burnt out after a month festivities.  Padmanabha prabhu and I savoured the transcendental atmosphere of Sri Mayapur Dhama.

We walked out of the brahmacari ashram into the car-park, wearing only gamchas and capalas.  Padmanabha led the way to a pier on the bank of the Ganges where devotees liked to bathe.  I was amazed how soft and smooth her banks were.  We took off our capalas and offered obeisances to Mother Ganga.  Padmanabha covered himself in Ganges mud and wallowed in her shallows.  I reverentially immersed my self in Ganga’s soothing waters.  I felt the deep-seated burdens of my western heart fly away like birds in the sky.  I had the distinct feeling that the Ganga is our Mother – they call her Ganga Mata in India – and that she cares for all living beings and that she is our well-wisher.

We could see the dome of Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi against the blue sky.  I lost myself in the beauty of Mayapur for a moment.  I then heard Padmanabha prabhu’s voice, ‘Come, prabhuji.  Let’s go’.  We got out the water and dried ourselves.  We returned to the brahmacari ashram and changed into fresh cloth.

Our small group arrived at Howrah Station at 8:30am on the 17th of March 2001. We were looking forward to visiting ISKCON Mayapur – the Headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and Birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  Mayapur is one of the nine islands near the Ganges estuary.  Navadvipa-Mayapur Dhama is about 130 kilometres from Calcutta.

Unsure of how I was going to get to Mayapur, I enquired at the ticket office about trains from Howrah to Navadvipa.  Meanwhile, Padmanabha prabhu arranged a taxi for us.  He had a way of arranging things in such a way that neither of us paid.  It was the culture, after all, in India for householders to take care of brahmacaris and sannyasis.  

Calcutta looked like a big, sooty machine.  The timeless Ganga slowly made her way out of the city past carnival lights, crows, street vendors, ferries, and metropolitan pilgrims.  I thought of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness.  The British colonial influence stuck like a fading tattoo. It took some time for our cab to exit the ornate Victorian ‘Old Station’ and edge its way, through a sea of hooting taxis, over Hoogly Bridge.  Advaita Charan, the elderly South American devotee, was quietly chanting – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna/Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama/ Rama Rama Hare Hare.

People and cars…crowding and competing…crowding and competing.  Victorian statues and statues celebrating Independence from British rule.  Corrugated iron structures.  Corrugated iron roofs.  Rusty Victorian warehouses.  I saw typically British parklands through the cab window, as we veered around the stately Indian Rajbhavan.  Billboards offered contemporary western delights against a gothic background of British Imperial architecture.  The taxi’s stop-start driving turned into an even flow as we encountered the more pleasant atmosphere of suburbia – schools, parks and gymnasiums.  Twenty minutes later we were out of Calcutta.

The tar soon became a dust-road, flanked by palm trees and brilliant green rice paddy fieds.  I thought of the poem Prabhupada was fond of quoting, ‘God is in the country; man is in the town’.  Some time passed.   Padmanabha asked the driver to stop the car.  The South American couple were tired. We got out, and sipped some dobs (drinking coconuts) through thin plastic straws.  The driver disappeared somewhere (to get a cup of chai), and re-appeared 15 minutes later.   Padmanabha prabhu gravely pointed to one of the small towns we were passing and said, ‘Shantipur’.  Shantipur was the town of Lord Chaitanya’s personal associate and expansion, Advaita Acharya.  The beauty and serenity of Gauradesa soothed the heart.  And now we were approaching the very heart of Gauradesa – Sri Mayapur Dhama.

The taxi braked as we entered the back gates of the Sri Mayapurachandrodaya Mandir. Padmanabha and I took the elderly South American couple’s bags, and helped them check into the guesthouse.  Padmanabha, silent and mystical as ever, arranged comfortable lodging for us in the brahmacari ashram.  We had hardly put down our bags when he said in his matter-of-fact way: ‘Prabhuji, fetch your gamcha.  We going to take bath in Ganga.  Afterwards, we take darshan of Srila Prabhupada, Radha-Madhava and Sri Pancha Tattva’.

Yad advaitam brahmopanisadi tad apy asya tanu-bha/ya atmantaryami purusa iti so ‘syamsa-vibhavah/sad-aisvaryaih purno ya iha bhagavan sa svayam ayam/na caitanyat krsnaj jagati para-tattvam param iha

‘What the Upanisads describe as the impersonal Brahman is but the effulgence of his body, and the Lord known as the Supersoul is but His localized plenary portion.  He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna Himself, full with six opulences.  He is the Absolute Truth, and no other truth is greater than or equal to Him’ 

[Sri Caitanya-Caritamrita, Adi-lila 1.3 (verse three of the 14 verse mangalacarana or introductory invocation]

Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi-Lila, Chapter 2, is basically a lengthy purport to this third verse of the mangalacarana .  Krishna Das Kaviraja Maharaja argues that Lord Chaitanya is none other than Krishna Himself – or Narayana (not Vaikuntha Narayana, but Krishna who is also called Narayana).  A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has, therefore, aptly entitled this chapter: ‘Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead’.

The Vaishnava acaryas (spiritual masters) are always trying to establish the siddhanta (spiritual conclusions) of the guru-parampara.  The word parampara means ‘chain’.  The guru-parampara is an unbroken “chain” or line of spiritual preceptors that goes all the way back to the original spiritual master, or guru – Lord Krishna.  Hence the saying, ‘Guru is one’.  In other words, the guru simply represents Krishna and Krishna’s teachings.  Krishna and His representatives (the guru-parampara) try to establish, amongst other things: Krishna’s position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the supremacy of devotional service and the authenticity of the disciplic succession.

Krishna Das Kaviraja Maharaja begins his argument in Adi-Lila 2.9: ‘He whom Srimad Bhagavatam (SB) describes as the son of Nanda Maharaja has descended to earth as Lord Caitanya’.  CC Adi-Lila Chapter 2 gives the supporting argument to this statement. In order to establish that Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kaviraja Maharaja has to establish Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Krishna Das Kaviraja describes the three features of the Lord, as they appear in Verse 3 of the mangalacarana – Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan.  He also quotes SB 1.2.11: vadanti tat tattva-vidas/tattvam yaj jnanam advayam/brahmeti paramatmeti/bhagavan iti sabdyate – ‘Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth say that it is nondual knowledge and is called impersonal Brahman, localized Paramatma and the Personality of Godhead.’  He then proceeds, quoting scripture,  to distinguish the incomplete realizations of the Absolute truth – Brahman and Paramatma – from the complete realization, namely Bhagavan.


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