Seva does not simply means to serve, seva means to serve with no egoism and no selfishness. Real seva means we are not considering what we get in return. Seva is the service with the intent to please the object of our service. – Radhanath Swami
It is cultivating that attitude that brings about real bhakti, real love. So in this sense there is no big service and small service by external considerations. Big and small are seen by Krishna, only in reference to the content of our sincerity, and the purity of our love. One can build a magnificent temple with pure love, and that is a great service. Or one can offer a simple flower, and that is just as good, may be even better, depending on the internal quality of how we are genuinely trying to please the Lord.
Radhanath Swami explains how Lord Chaitanya came in the role of a devotee and served devotees
Lord Chaitanya came in the role of a devotee. His biographers, from the very beginning of Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat, Sri Chaitanya Caritamrita, Sri Chaitanya Mangal, Sri Caitanya Charita, Sri Chaitanya Chandrodaya, all of these great literatures they establish, according to scriptures, according to revelation, what Lord Chaitanya’s true identity is. He is the source of all pervading Brahman, he is the source of the paramatma, he is the source of all incarnations, he is Krishna tasting the sweetness of Radha’s love and offering that love to the world. But he takes the role of a devotee. Because at the end of Dvaparayuga, Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-Gita. In the 18th chapter His conclusion is
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
Abandon all varieties of dharma and just go to the essence, surrender to me with love. I shall deliver you from all reactions, from all karmas. Do not fear.
And Krishna tells in simple words how to surrender.
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te
pratijāne priyo ’si me
Always think of me, become my devotee, worship me and offer your homage unto me. Thus you will come to me without fail.
But it is the nature of human inclination that we rarely learn by hearing. In order to really understand there must be examples who personify how to do it. Krishna himself incarnates in this age of kali to teach us how to be a devotee, by taking the role of a devotee. Lord Chaitanya was washing the clothes of his devotees; he would carry the loads of his devotees. He was bringing kusa grass, tilak. Anybody can do that; to do these kind of things you can pay a person very minimum wage in India even today: to wash your clothes or carry your things, or bring your mat. But Lord Chaitanya considered this the treasure of his life, the opportunity to serve. Why he was doing this? And why, out of millions of things that he did, his empowered biographers focus on these incidents? Because they are so important for us, we should never take any opportunity to serve Krishna or Krishna’s devotees to be something ordinary, something cheap. Even if we were paid tens and billions of rupees that could not equal the value of having the opportunity to carry a grass mat for a devotee; it is precious.
One of the reasons our spiritual progress is impeded is because we don’t really appreciate the value of the opportunity to serve. The human ego wants to be served. The human ego wants to be glorified. And to the degree that we hold unto these attachments, we cannot really appreciate the supreme, eternal, infinite value of glorifying Krishna, glorifying those who love Krishna, and of serving them.
They were saying, “No, no, you are the greatest Brahmin, you are the greatest scholar. Now you have become greatest devotee. I can wash my own clothes.” But Nimai said, “No this is only way that Krishna will be pleased with me. Let me do.” He was insisting. And in this spirit he taught the devotees how to love one another.
Anybody can talk about love. In every culture there is always talk about love. I am from 1960s in America where we were called peace and love generation. What was the love? Srimad-Bhagavatam talks,
savaipuàsäàpa rodharmoyato bhaktir adhokñaje
ahaituky apratihatä yayätmäsu prasédati
The real love that satisfies the heart is the love of selfless service to the object of our love, and such love has to be without any egoistic motivations, and not subjected to be interrupted by the inevitable impediments that will come before us . For a mother who loves her child in this world, there are many impediments. Sometimes the child cries all night. And we heard last night one little baby, this big, at the back of the tent cried, and we all have to stop, because that little baby drowned out the microphone and sound system. And if that is in a tent like this, and 4000 people absorbing the sound, what to speak of when that baby this far away from you in a little bedroom, how do you sleep? The mother will stay up all night, even if it is every night, to care for the child. What to speak of our devotion, and our love for Krishna!
Lord Chaitanya tells impediments are friends of devotees. The impediments that come on our spiritual path actually impel us, if we are sincere, to take shelter, to become very serious.
In this spirit the devotees joyfully came together and Lord Chaitanya inspired them all to chant the holy names of the Lord. Especially when they chant in the courtyard of the house of Srivasa. It was at that time Lord Chaitanya began to reveal himself to his devotees, to Advaita Acarya. Advaita Prabhu was offering puja to his deities here in Navadvip, and Gadhadara was with him, and Nimai happened to come. When Nimai saw Advaita’s incredible devotion for Krishna, he was so pleased, so overwhelmed. That Advaita had such a good fortune of such love for Krishna, Nimai actually fell unconscious in ecstasy. Taking the opportunity, Sri Advaita Acarya bathed the feet of the Lord with his tears, then he offered Chandan, sandal wood, tulsi leaves. Then he offered full arati, and with folded palms offered prayers. Lord Chaitanya was about one third of his age, and Advaita was the leader of entire Brahmin community. Gadhadara Pandit was really surprised. He said, “Why are you treating this young boy like this?”Advaita Acarya looked at him and said, “Gadhadara, you are such a child. How long will you think that Viswambar is just a young boy. He is our worshipable Lord.”
Radhanath Swami describes Lord Chaitanya’s display of the symptoms of ecstatic love
A few days later Nimai was walking and he heard Vishnu Sahasranama, thousand names of Vishnu sung, and he heard the name Varaha. And he ran to the house of Murari Gupta and manifested his Varaha rupa to Murari. Today is Gopastami, the day when Krishna first was given charge of the cows, in Sri Vrindavana Dham. One day Nimai was walking along the Ganga, and he happened to see beautiful cows, and calves, and bulls. They were chewing on grass; they were pushing each other, they were kind of playfully fighting with each other. Some of them were leaping in the air, and jumping around, and raising their tails. And when he saw these cows, he became so happy, he manifested his mood of Gopal, he ran to the house of Srivasa, and revealed his divine opulence.
When they were performing this Kirtan in Srivasa Angan, Sacimata would come. And she would see her Nimai, torrents of tears pouring from his eyes; sometimes in his ecstasy his body would become as stiff as a stone pillar. Nobody could move it. At other times it would become as soft as fresh butter, it seemed like he didn’t even have any bones. These were the kinds of transformations of the ecstasy of his love. Sometimes he would leap into the air and then he would go into trance, and fall down to the ground. When Sacimata would see this, her heart would break, a mother’s love. She prayed from her heart of heart to Krishna, she offered two prayers. The first prayer was, “Krishna, if I ever in this life or any previous life, ever done anything to please you, then I will exchange all the credits of all my devotion and pious activities for one blessing, that when my child falls to the ground, that he doesn’t feel any pain.” Then she saw him jump up again and fall down, she offered a different prayer. She said, “Maybe my child, because he was in such a trance he doesn’t feel pain. But I feel pain, so please give me the blessing that when my child falls down on the ground like this, that I don’t see it.” And Lord Chaitanya in his own heart understood her prayer, and granted her. So whenever that happened, she was in such a transcendental ecstasy, that she didn’t even notice it.
One day Lord Chaitanya told his devotees, “We are spending our whole day speaking about Krishna, serving Krishna, chanting in Kirtan, but we are wasting the entire night sleeping and doing other such things. From this day on for next one year we should continue the Kirtan throughout the entire night.” That is quite a instruction. But devotees had such faith in his will, they cried out Hari Bol! Hari Bol! Then Lord Chaitanya, according to Chaitanya Caritamrita, taught them how they could actually accomplish it. Singing all day and all night he gave them this verse….
Trinad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna amanina mana dena kirtaniya sadahari
If one is humble like blade of grass, tolerant and forbearing like tree, eager to offer respects to others without demanding and expecting respects for oneself, then one could chant names of Lord constantly.
Sometimes the Lord would give an analogy. Look at the grass we are sitting on it. We are walking on it. Grass simply comes back up to serve, not trying to take a high position, happy at everyone’s feet. Look at the tree; in summer stands in direct sun to give us shade, in winter stands covered with ice to give wood to keep us warm. In hot summer season when there is drought, tree do not have any water but gives us delicious fruits to quench our thirst. Even if you cut down a tree , tree gives its body to build house for ourselves.. Example of tree is service to others, and devotees took it to heart. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami says we should take this verse like jewel, like jewel of verse, we should put it on string of holy names and keep it over our heart always.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, because these particular kirtans in Srivasa’s house were all night, were so intimate and so deep. Only the purest devotees were given entrance, because others would not simply understand the level they were communicating on with God. And Lord Chaitanya was chanting and dancing with all the rest of them just like he was one of devotee, but everyone there knew that he is their worshipable Lord. As they chanted and danced in great happiness, it was their yearning to love him and serve him according to their natural loving relationship with him.
Radhanath Swami narrates Lord Chaitanya’s pastime of Mahaprakash Lila
And one day Lord Chaitanya came to house of Srivasa and he manifested what he called the Mahaprakash. Outside Srivasa’s house there were so many people who wanted to get in, and many were very envious, very proud. And they were insulted that they could not go in. They started spreading the nastiest possible rumors all over Navadvip. We know, why they do not allow us into their house. There are so many great scholars, Battacharyas, Mishras, Chakravartis in Navadvip having good reputation, but this Srivasa and his associates are criminals and they are low class thugs. During day they chant tantric mantras to seduce five kinds of young girls and they get those girls to come to their house in night. They lock doors. Then they all drink all sorts of wine and liquor together. They decorate themselves with luxurious garments. They sing all sorts of passionate songs together and this way they engage in the most abominable activities. And that is what they are doing all night and every night. That’s why they do not allow us in. They know that we are moral ,ethical, saintly, enlightened people who do not stand for this in Navadvip. What is this loud chanting! They are hypocrites, they are saying that God is there in heart as paramatma, super soul. If God is in their hearts then why they have to scream so loud for him to hear? And if they scream at somebody, it annoys them. It does not please them. Why they are screaming at Krishna? It is an insult, it is an offense. Because it is offense, there would be famine, there would be drought, all sorts of tragedies here in Navadvip; so we should stop them now.
We should go to the king and report him and arrest them in shackles and throw them into prison. And another person says we do not have time for that; right now pick Srivasa’s house, break it to pieces, throw it into Ganges, shackle him, arrest him, and beat him. Every night they were outside house talking like this. One pious, nice person, “All those devotees are so fortunate , they are chanting and dancing with Gauranga. Only reason I am not allowed is, I do not have pious activities to earn such a blessings.” When the antagonists heard that they are outraged, they screamed. He is one of them , beat him, get him. Person has to run away. If you did not go along with their criticisms , their propaganda and with their blasphemes, you are singled out and persecuted. So common people didn’t know what to do because these people were so powerful. But the devotees could not hear any of it, because they were totally absorbed in joy of chanting the holy names.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna Hare, Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama, Rama Hare, Hare
On this particular day when the Lord entered Srivasa’s courtyard , he sat on thrown of Vishnu. In the past, in the role of a devotee he took a few moments to timidly sit, to give happiness to devotees. But on this day he sat very firmly with conviction, and he sat for 21 continuous hours revealing his various incarnations according to his devotee’s love for him. They began to sing the song for abhishek, the purushasukta prayers. And hunderds and thousands of buckets and pots of water from Ganga were pouring over Lord Chaitanya’s head as he was just accepting all services that devotees wanted and yearned to offer him.
Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita, Gadadhar, Srivasa. These devotees, they are pouring the water over the Lord, and others are carrying water to them. And some of Srivas’ servants and maidservants helping actually to bring the water all the way from Ganga to his house .
Radhanath Swami on how by the blessing of Lord Chaitanya Dhukhi became Sukhi
Among them there was one girl; her name was Dukhi. Dukhi literally means one who is miserable. In Bengal at that time, if a mother loses many children at birth or during young age, they were so unhappy. If they finally got a nice child, they would name the child Dukhi, which means she is miserable. The idea or sentiment at that time was, Yamaraj, superintend of death, would feel sorry for her. Her name is misery, let her be. Otherwise why do you name your child the miserable one! But that was her name. With such love she was looking at Lord Gauranga. And she was way in the background unseen by anyone, just taking water from Ganga and putting it in completely nice straight rows. So that devotees who were bringing it to other devotees bathing Lord, it would be very easy for them. Such a simple service; just carrying pots of water and putting in nice rows. But she was doing it with such deep affection, such honor and respect for devotees who loved Lord, and such devotion to Lord. Nobody noticed her, everyone was looking at abhishek. How many of you would be looking at Dukhi when Lord Gauranga is having abhishek? The first time ever in history he is allowing it to happen. But Lord Gauranga was looking at Dukhi. There were swamis, acharyas and paramahamsas there, and he was looking at little Dukhi.
And he asked Srivasa,”Who is this girl?”
Srivasa said, “She is a simple maidservant. Her name is Dukhi.”
Sri Gaurasundar said, “The name Dukhi does not feel right in my heart. On this day I give her the name Sukhi ,which means the happy one.”
With that name he gave unlimited eternal happiness. He gave her the ultimate perfection of life, prema bhakti. According to Vedas there are four goals of religion in life that are followed: artha, dharma, kama, moksha. Religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and liberation. But purushartha siromani, the crest jewel of all goals, is prema pumarth mahan, the awakening of eternal ecstatic love of Krishna that is there in the heart of every living being. He gave Sukhi that blessing. What yogis spend lifetimes of severe austerities, perfecting their breath control, their meditation, their physical postures, what jnanis spend lifetimes to achieve by scrutinizing, evaluating, analyzing all the sutras and slokas of various scriptures and discriminating between matter and spirit, Dukhi Sukhi attained same goal just by her simple pure hearted desire to please Lord just by carrying some pots of water. This is how the Mahaprakash lila begins.
Then the devotees want to feed Lord. Their desire was unlimited to feed him. Ye yatha mam prapadyante. Krishna reciprocates according to our desire. Now sometime, there are guests in your house and you want to feed them a lot. How much can they eat? We have certain capacity of actually how much we can reciprocate. But Lord Chaitanya said bring me whatever pleases your heart. They would bring him, they brought him dozens of bananas. Within fraction of moment, he ate it up. He did it very gracefully; it was not like universal form devouring everything. It was so graciously and gracefully, he could do that in a moment. It is inconceivable shakti.
They brought him, they were so enthusiastic, even more and more. The devotees were going out, running out into the villages, sending other people into the villages to get everything they could find! They were feeding him thousands and thousands of bundles of bananas; thousands and thousands of pots of Ganga water; thousands and thousands of pieces of sandesh; thousands and thousands of buckets of butter and dahi and milk; thousands of coconuts; thousands of betel nuts. And within a moment he kept saying, “Bring more! Bring more!” Now, just because you can’t do it, and I definitely can’t do anything like this, it doesn’t mean nobody can do it. If God, if the Absolute Truth has to be compared to us, what’s the use of his being God? He is sarvesvaresvara !
Tumi sarveswareswara, vrajendra kumara. He is the controller of the controller of all the controllers! He is creating and controlling the movements of the sun and the various planets in the universe. And we can’t even control our own bowels. When nature calls, doesn’t matter what race we’re from, what sex we are, what kind of degrees that we have in college. When nature calls, we are under control! And while he has taken all that stuff – doesn’t say this in the scripture – 21 hours nature never called. And what did he eat! What did he drink! Literally tens and thousands of pots of Ganga water. He is smiling. He didn’t grow in size. What was happening? It is not that the Lord was hungry for water and sandesh and bananas and coconuts and everything else. He was hungry for the love of his devotees. And the Supreme Lord can accept unlimited quantities of love. And the Supreme Lord gives unlimited quantities of love. They bathed him, they dressed him nicely, they put beautiful garlands on him, they fed him, and a beautiful kirtan was taking place.
Radhanath Swami describes Lord Chaitanya giving benediction to each of his devotees in his Mahaprakash lila
Then Lord Caitanya blessed each of his devotees by revealing to them the intimate-most form that they worshipped of Krishna. And offered them any boon that they liked. And he is even telling them about their past lives. He turned to Srivasa, just to charm his heart. He said, “Srivasa, do you remember? Years and years ago, you were at the school of Devananda Pandit. And he was reading from the Srimad-Bhagavatam. And as you were hearing the verses, you were so moved with love for Krishna that you started to cry and uncontrollably you called out. And the students considered you to be a disturbance for them.” Now actually most people who do that in a class are a disturbance. Because they are not like Srivasa. They are not really in the spiritual trance of ecstasy of love. And they thought him to be like anybody else. So the students just picked him up, took him outside and dropped him on the ground in a distant place and they went back. And when Srivasa came out of his trance, he found himself just laying there. And he felt very sad. “Don’t you remember this Srivas! And then because you felt so sad, you went home, you started to read Srimad-Bhagavatam to somehow or other transcend that sadness. And as you were reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, such a deep ananda, of love awakened you in your heart, and it was uncontrollable. And since that day, every time you pick up the Bhagavatam to read, tears flow from your eyes in the trance of the ecstasy of love for Krishna, total absorption in Krishna.” He said, “I am the one who gave you that feeling. I could not tolerate seeing your sorrow.” When Srivasa heard that, he was overwhelmed.
Then the Lord turned to Gangadas, his own teacher. He said, “Ganga Das, do you remember many years ago when the king was sending dacoits to persecute the people of Navadvipa? And they were chasing after you and your family, and you ran away. And you ran and ran and ran, and ultimately came to the bank of Ganga. By the time you got there it was middle of night, and the rapists and murderers were fast approaching. And there was no boat, and the Ganga was very wide and flowing very strong, and you were crying. You decided – rather than allow these people to touch your wife, your daughters, your family the way they would, you would drown yourself in the Ganga. At that moment a boatman out of nowhere came out of darkness, and you said, “Boatman, please save me. Save my family. I’ll give you anything you want.” And that boatman brought you to the other side. Gangadas, you never told anyone that story, but I know because I descended from the spiritual world just to become that boatman, just to save you.” Ganga das was thrilled overflowing with gratitude.
Radhanath Swami narrates the wonderful pastime of Lord Chaitanya with Sridhar
Lord said to bring Sridhar. Devotees said, “Who is Sridhar?” Lord Gaura Sundar replied, “He is my loving devotee. Nobody even knows who he is? He is a simple banana leaf seller.” Because he was so insignificant and so poor from the social perspective, whoever saw him just called him Kolavecha. Kolavecha means banana seller. They didn’t even care to know his name. But this Kolavecha Sridhar, he is such a dear devotee, for 12 hours continuously every night, he cries out the names of Krishna. You just go towards Simantadvipa, to the edge of Navadvipa town, and you will hear his voice. Just follow that sound, and you will find him. The devotees went running. And sure enough they heard from a distance, very humble cry of the holy name.
‘Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna Hare, Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama, Rama Hare, Hare
They went to Sridhar. They said, “Sridhar, Lord Gauranga is calling you.” By this time Sridhar knew that Lord Gauranga was his beloved Lord. He fell to the ground. Why is he calling me? They said, “Just come, just come.” They had to actually lift him up and practically carry him back. He felt so unqualified. He was standing right before Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya said, “Kolavecha Sridhar, you have given me such nice bananas for so many years, and I would not eat a single meal, which is not offered on the banana leaf that you have given me. Now I want to reveal myself to you. Look.” Sridhar looked up, he saw that Sri Chaitanya’s form became that of Krishna. He was standing with the complexion of a Tamal tree, the same Shyamsundar, who was the eternal object of Sridhar’s love and devotion. He had beautiful lotus like eyes, curly black hairs around his loving face, his lips were red like the Bibma fruit. He had a kaustubamani on his chest. On his side was Lord Balaram, with the complexion of spring clouds. He saw the forest of Vrindavana, the tamal trees, the kadamba trees, the banyan trees. He saw Brahma, Siva, Lakhsmi, Narada, Sukhadeva, the four kumaras. All with their hands folded, offering beautiful prayers to Krishna and Balarama. He saw unlimited Surabhi cows filling the entire background. Kolavecha Sridhar, upon seeing this beautiful darshan, the ultimate object of his meditation, he fainted in divine ecstasy. And Lord Chaitanya said, “Sridhar, get up, behold my beautiful form.”
Lord Chaitanya began to recount the wonderful pastimes that he had with Sridhar, when he was a young boy, for everyone to hear. Before he went to Gaya, Nimai was performing his pastimes as a very restless student, and then as a very restless teacher. Nobody knew that he was Krishna himself, but they loved him. Sridhar would sit on the side of a dusty road selling whatever little he had. He grew some bananas. Sometimes, somehow or other he purchased some banana leaves. If he could he would get some bananas, or banana roots, or banana bark, whatever the part of banana tree, he would try to make it into something to sell. He was so honest. He was compared to Maharaja Yudhistir. He would never want to hurt anyone. This is the kind of businessman Sridhar was.
He wanted to survive in his lifestyle in such a way that he would charge the least possible for whatever he sold. Have you ever met a businessman like that? And anybody who came to him knew him to be so honest and so fair, and as you say in the west rock bottom price, nobody will ever argue about the cost with him. Whatever he said, they would just give to him, except for Nimai.
Nimai will tell, “O Sridhar! How much is this banana?” and he would give very, very fair price.
Nimai would say, “Why are you cheating me? I will give you half.”
“And how will I survive if you give me only half?”
Another thing about Sridhar, whatever money he made, the first half of that he would use to worship mother Ganga, because he understood that mother Ganga is ultimately a person. She is devotee of the Lord; she is an energy of the Lord that is descending to purify us through her blessings, through her grace. On physical level mother Ganga is sustaining all civilization of people on her banks by providing water and filling wells, but beyond that she is not an ordinary river. The breeze that touches Ganga, the water in the Ganga, for one who bathes in it, touches it, sees it, tastes it, then one gets purified. And if we are truly receptive, Ganga Mai awakens that love for Krishna within our heart.
Nimai said, “I will give you half.”
They will argue about the price and in the end Nimai would usually say, “Then I would take it for nothing.” And Sridhar would be so charmed by this beautiful boy, that Sridhar would say, “Nimai! Whatever you want you do! Whatever makes you happy!” They had such a loving relationship that Nimai would come minimum two hours everyday. They would argue about the price of the banana, not because of the banana, because they could not give up each other’s association; that was the medium. You see this world, on material platform, apparently material things in this world can be an incredible spiritual medium between the devotees if Krishna is in the center. And in this case, Sridhar didn’t know that Krishna was in the center, but he felt it.
One day Nimai said, “Sridhar. You are so poor. You worship Krishna. You chant his name all night long. I have heard.” He would chant ‘Hari, Hari’ all night long along with the mahamantra. And the materialistic people living all around him could not tolerate it. They hated him. They would say so many nasty propaganda things and rumors about him. They would say, “He is just a total useless failure. Look at the clothes he wears. Look at the type of house he lives in. And now he is trying to make himself to be big saint, chanting all night. He is not a devotee. This chanting is not out of love, he is just tortured by hunger because he can’t make a living. And he is crying out because of hunger pains.”
And sometimes they would pick up a vegetable and throw at him and say, “Here Sridhar. Eat it and shut up.”
Sridhar would just smile and chant Krishna’s name.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama, Rama Hare, Hare
Nimai would say to him, “What is Krishna doing for you? Look at your clothes. There are so many holes in your clothes and you cannot even afford needle and thread. You take the two different sides of the holes and tie knots to close them. And I see at least two thousand knots in your clothing. Look at your house. It is just a straw thatched hut and I’m sure the roof leaks in the monsoon season. I cannot see a single piece of furniture in your house. All you have is this one old iron pot that you use for all purposes. And look at your body. It is emaciated and thinning. You are hardly eating anything. And around you there are people who are not devotees of Krishna. They have nice houses. They are nice and strong. They have good clothes. What is Krishna doing for you?”
Sridhar smiled! He said, “Nimai, in my years in this world, I have come to learn through my observation. That there is a king. The king has fine clothes, beautiful palaces and eats the most royal foods, and then there is the bird. The bird wears the same old feathers every day. He lives in a nest of straw and he eats whatever he finds on the trees.”
He said, “But I don’t see any difference between the two. Time is passing the same way for the bird and the king. They are both struggling, they are both enjoying. And time is passing the same way. So I may not have much, but I am happy with whatever I have because I have Krishna.”
Nimai said, “You are a cheater. You are a hypocrite. You have great wealth but you are hiding it.”
And Sridhar said, “Whatever you see is what I have. Seeing is believing. I don’t have anything”.
He said, “No! You are hiding a great treasure and in this way you are cheating the people. But someday I will expose your great fortune.”
Sridhar didn’t know what to say!
Lord Chaitanya said, “How many bananas will you give for how much?”
And Sridhar again gave a fair price.
He said, “Do you not know? You worship mother Ganga. You offer her so many offerings. I am the father of Mother Ganga. She is holy and she is sacred because she has washed my holy feet.”
Sridhar would block his ears and say, “You are so restless! You are so restless! Are you not afraid of even saying like this for even Ganga?”
Nimai would take his bananas and would say, “I will take it.”
Sridhar, everyday his heart was beating in ecstasy with the anticipation that Nimai would come to steal his bananas.
He waited! He looked down that dusty pathway, just waiting for that beautiful golden form of Gauranga to come. And if Gauranga was late, Sridhar was in such separation. He didn’t know he was Krishna. But he loved him as much as he loved Krishna. In fact, he loved him even more than Krishna not knowing he was Krishna. And every day Sridhar will supply Nimai with a banana leaf. And it was a tradition in Sachi Mata’s house that Nimai will not eat unless it was provided on banana leaf provided by Kolavaicha Sridhar.
And every now and then on the straw roof of the hut of Sridhar, a squash would grow. A wild squash! And Kolavaicha Sridhar would always offer that to Nimai. This was their relationship.
And on this day, Nimai never did anything but take, take and take from Sridhar. And all Sridhar ever did was to give, give and give.
And on today’s Mahaprakash, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was revealing his form of Krishna and Balaram. And he told Sridhar, “Offer prayers to me.”
Sridhar said, “My Lord! You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. How can I offer prayers to you? I’m not educated. I’m an ignorant person. I don’t know how to make prayers!”
Nimai said, “Any word coming from your mouth will be a prayer. Just say something.”
And then Lord commanded Goddess Saraswati to come on tongue of Sridhar so that whatever feelings were in his heart he could eloquently express through words. And he did. He said, “O Lord! All glories to you! The son of Jagannath Misra, the son of Sachi Devi! Of Lord Vishwamber, you have descended from Goloka Vrindavana, from the highest planet, simply to shower the whole of Navadwip and the whole of world with Bhakti. And not only you give that Bhakti, but you are conquered by that Bhakti. And after you are conquered by that bhakti you take that to the core of your heart and then you give it to others. This is the highest truth O Lord. How you are the controller of all living creatures but you agree to be controlled by the love of your devotee! On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Bhisma promised Duryodhana that I will make Krishna break his promise today.”
What was Krishna promise? Before the battle began, he told Arjuna and Duryodhana, “On one side I will give my army and on the other side I will be there. But I will not fight and I will not lift a weapon. That is my promise.”
Duryodhana was thinking, “If you are not going to fight and you are not going to lift a weapon, then I will take the army.” And Arjuna was very happy. “My Lord I only wanted you.” That was the difference in their faith.
During the battle, Bhisma told Duryodhana that he was going to defeat the Pandavas. And he was having a fight with Arjuna and in the fight with Arjuna, Bhisma defeated him. Arjuna was laying and he was helpless and Bhisma was about to totally defeat him.
At that moment Krishna picked up the wheel of chariot and charged at Bhisma and Bhisma in great happiness offered dandavats. That was his whole purpose. He didn’t want to defeat Arjuna! He wanted to make Krishna to break his promise because he knew hundred percent for sure.
Krishna told Arjuna before the battle began, Kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati. Declare boldly O Arjuna! My devotee will never perish.
He would rather break his own promise rather than have a devotee break his promise. And Bhisma, when he was laying in his bed of arrows, he was remembering that with such ecstasy. Krishna was willing to be defeated by Bhisma! Why? Because of his pure devotion.
And Yashoda Mai, in this month of Kartik, she tied Krishna with rope and bound him! And therefore his name is glorified as Damodar, restless little Gopal! The supreme master of all universes! The origin of all aspects of God! The absolute!
Yashoda Mai was not a warrior, she was not a mystic, she was just a mother, a Gopi! But Krishna allowed himself to be bound by the rope of her love just to show the world for all times to come the power of bhakti.
And Satyabhama. She was one of the wives in Dwarka. And you acted like a henpecked husband for her. She said, “Krishna! You brought Parijat flower for Rukhmini! I want the Parijat tree.”
What could you do? You had to go to Indraloka and had to have whole war with Indra to bring that Parijat tree for Satyabhama, just to show the world that you are conquered by the love of your devotees.
And you carry the Gopas on your shoulder after they defeat you in wrestling. How is that this little Gopa name Sridhama, he wasn’t wrestler. He didn’t have muscles! He is just a little cowherd boy.
Krishna defeated Chanur and Mushtika! He had already defeated Putana and Trinavarta and Aaga, Bakasura, Vatsasura and Kaliya. He defeated all of them. These are monstrous Rakshasas and mystics.
And this little boy would say, “Krishna I want to wrestle with you.”
And Krishna would wrestle. And then ‘I give up! I give up!’ Krishna says.
And Sridhama would say, “Now you have to let me ride on your shoulder for everyone to know that I defeated you in wrestling!” Krishna would gladly put him on the shoulder. All the Gopas would be throwing flowers on the Sridhama because he had won. But they are also throwing flowers on Krishna because ultimately he won. Because for Krishna that’s wining. To be defeated by the love of his devotee is considered by Krishna to be greatest victory. When a father wrestles with his tiny little child, actually father can just pick up the child and the child can be in unconscious in 5 seconds and then he can go and say, “I defeated the child.”
Will the child be happy? Will he be happy? Will anybody be happy?
The little child says, “I want to wrestle with you father.”
And the father says, “Yes. Yes.”
And the child comes up to father and the father, “I give up, I give up.” And father carries the child on the shoulder.
And the child says, “I defeated my father. I defeated my father.”
The father is so happy, the child is so happy. And everybody is so happy. That is love. Krishna is conquered by the love of his devotees.
Kolavaicha Sridhar said, “The devotees, they beg for that bhakti and if anyone sincerely begs for that pure bhakti that person will defeat you. Because you become subordinate to the love of your devotee. And you have descended into Navadvip to give that Bhakti to everyone, to anyone who is willing to receive it, and you have come to this world to flood people’s heart with this bhakti.”
Lord Chaitanya asked Sridhar to ask for any boon. He said, “I will give you anything.”
Sridhar said, “I don’t want anything my Lord.”
“You are so poor! I will give you the riches of a king. I can give you kingdoms, I can give you planets. I can give you anything you like. Ask! Ask!”
Sridhar said, “What will I do with those things? I have no desire!”
“I will give you the eight mystic perfections. Anima, lagima, praptee, etc. By all of these different siddhis by which you can perform incredible supernatural miracles to stay alive and you can live for millions of years.”
Sridhar said, “These mystic siddhis will be just be a disturbance to me. I don’t want them.”
“Well, just ask for something.”
Sridhar said, “Please my Lord. Just be peaceful. I’m happy. I don’t want anything.”
The Lord said, “I’m peaceful. But I want to give you something. Ask. Ask.”
He said, “But I don’t want anything.”
The Lord said, “I will give you moksha, liberation, mukti, what everybody is looking for. No more suffering, no more birth and death.”
He said, “My Lord. I have no interest in Moksha.”
“Ask Something.” Then Lord Chaitanya said, “To make me happy ask for something.”
He said, “If it pleases you I will ask for one benediction. Let me forever be the servant of the servant of the servant of your servants. And let in every birth that I have and whatever I may be, in my heart, let me ever see this little boy Nimai coming to steal my bananas. This is the only blessing my Lor. Just come to steal my bananas and let me never forget you.”
Lord Chaitanya became so overwhelmed with his love, his devotion, the Lord was crying and all the devotees were crying in tears.
And the Lord said, “I give you that benediction. I give you the benediction of pure unalloyed ecstatic love for Krishna for the rest of eternity.”
When the devotees heard that they loudly celebrated the good fortune of Sridhar by loudly chanting Krishna’s holy names.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna Hare, Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama, Rama Hare, Hare
And Vrindavan das Thakur tells that anyone who with sincere and faithful heart hears this narration of Kolavaicha Sridhar will be given the supreme treasure of Love for Krishna.
What was Sridhar’s qualification? He wasn’t from a high caste. He wasn’t learned. He wasn’t rich. By material standards he was quite a failure. He was totally unknown. Why the Lord gave such prominence in his pastimes to Kolavaicha, this little banana leaf seller? There were great wealthy people who were devotees of same caliber as Sridhar. Maharaj Prataprudra, Buddhimant Khan, and at one time Ramanand Roy was a very wealthy governor of the state. It was not that their wealth was a disqualification. But you see there is no material qualification or disqualification for bhakti.
Unless we understand the simple innocent essence of heart of Sridhar, whether we are rich or poor, Brahmachari or Grihasta, Vanaprastha, Sanyasi, whatever we may be, we don’t really understand what pleases Krishna. – Radhanath Swami
Sridhar wanted nothing for himself. He found unlimitedly more pleasure in pleasing Lord Krishna, Lord Gauranga. If we water the root of the tree, every part of the tree is satisfied. Krishna is the root of all that exists.
janmādy asya yato
And Sridhar was not the Brahmin who was doing all kinds of technically excellent eloquent puja either. In his offerings to Lord Chaitanya there was no yantra, tantra, mudra, mantra or puja. Lord Chaitanya would come and steal his bananas. Lord Chaitanya could not give up the company of Sridhar; he loved him so much, because of the simplicity and purity of his devotion.
Radhanath Swami describes on when Lord Chaitanya gave boon to Murari Gupta
Then Lord Chaitanya called for Murari Gupta. He said, “Murari. Come.” Murari Looked forward. And Lord Chaitanya said, “Look.”
Murari looked up on the sinhasan and where Lord Chaitanya was sitting, he saw the beloved Lord of his life, Ram, with beautiful complexion of Durva grass. Lord Ramchandra was accompanied with bow and arrows. When Murari Gupta saw his beloved Lord Ram, he fell unconscious.
And Lord touched him and said, “Murari, Stand up. Stand up. Don’t you remember? Don’t you remember that demon Ravana who so maliciously stole your worshipable Sita, brought her to Sri Lanka? You jumped across the ocean, just to give her the message. And there Ravana bound your tail with ropes and lit your tail with fire and with that fire on your tail, you burnt down his city. Don’t you remember this?”
He said, “Look! On my one side is Laxman. You lifted the mountain to save his life out of love for him. On my other side is mother Sita, your beloved worshipable goddess. Seeing the torment that she was enduring in Asoka Vana of Ravana, you shed oceans of tears. Don’t you see now? You don’t remember? But I’m reminding you. I am Ram and you are my eternal servant Hanuman.”
Murari Gupta, there he saw before him, Ram and Sita and Laxman. And he saw thousands and thousands of monkeys offering prayers around Ram, Sita and Laxman.
And then he looked down and noticed that he had a tail. He looked at his body and saw he was a monkey. He was Hanuman.
Lord Chaitanya said, “Murari Gupta. Ask for any boon. You are my beloved loving devotee.”
Murari, in the mood of Hanuman, the eternal das, the servant of the Lord, he said, “I don’t want to ask anything from you. But if you want to give something, for the rest of the eternity give me the blessing that I will always sing your names and glories. For any situation that may come my Lord, I will never forget you and that birth after birth after birth, give me the blessing of living in company of your devotees; those devotees who consider you as master and themselves as your humble loving servant. My only aspiration, Lord, is to be the servant of the servant of the servant and always to chant your holy names.”
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna Hare, Hare “
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama, Rama Hare, Hare
Anyone who hears with devotion with sincere and faithful heart will be given pure love and devotion to Lord Gauranga.
And then Lord Chaitanya, as if he had many, many mouths, he glorified his devotee Murari Gupta. Murari is the name of Krishna or Ram. He said to Murari and to all the devotees of Lord, “You appear to be a simple family man.” Murari had a wife and he had a house. He was a doctor. He had a profession.
Devotees never want attention, they never want glorification. Sometimes it may come, sometimes it may not come. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is, are we going to please Guru and Krishna? “You seem to be living in this world, just like any other ordinary man. But Murari is hiding in your heart. Gupta means a secret hiding place. Because Murari is always hiding in your heart, your name is Murari Gupta.”
Then the Lord turned to Haridas Thakur. And said,”Haridas, come and look at me.” And Haridas looked and what he saw we will discuss tomorrow. Now we all welcome His Holiness Srila Jayapataka Swami Maharaj.