Radhanath Swami on Seeking the Essence, 2013 Yatra, Vrindavan, Day 2

Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra



Thank you for being here on this evening.

Yesterday we were discussing the idea, the truth of what it really means to be in Vrindavan. Srila Prabhupada, in Krishna book, writes how in Vrindavan everyone, everything is focused on giving pleasure to Krishna.

“When Krishna becomes the center of our life, when pleasing Krishna becomes the purpose of everything we do, wherever we may be in the world, our consciousness is in Vrindavan.” –Radhanath Swami

And we come to these holy pilgrimages for the purpose of leaving all the distractions behind in our life, putting aside for some time every other responsibility we may have and totally immerse ourselves in surrendering our consciousness to Krishna in the association of devotees. In holy places, we are going to many holy sites where Krishna or His beloved devotees have performed their pastimes and on the spiritual platform it is nityalila – they are eternal. They are forever taking place and they are revealed to us according to the extent in which we absorb ourselves in serving Krishna and in remembering Krishna. We come together for Hari katha, Hari kirtan and take Krishna’s holy prasad together.

“During our yatra we really have no other purpose except to fix our consciousness in devotional service.” –Radhanath Swami

and those who are cooking, some of them rise at 2 o’clock every morning. There is a couple hundred people involved in cooking and washing the gigantic pots, engineers dovetailing their propensities to make railway lines for the pots, cranes to lift them all with very simple natural technologies. The spirit is to serve and to be absorbed.

“Rupa Goswami explained that the nature of a real devotee who is really in contact with Krishna is such a person who has no inclination to criticize others.” –Radhanath Swami

Sometimes as a tremendous austerity a person may have to point out certain problems in another. As a doctor may point out in a patient for the purpose of helping, healing, uplifting for protecting others but if there is any envy in our heart, if there is any arrogance in our heart such great criticism is a great impediment in our spiritual progress. So,

“when we come to Vrindavan we want to absorb ourselves simply in hearing about Krishna, speaking about Krishna and absorbing all of our mind and senses in serving the Dham, the devotees and the Lord; in other words to put Krishna in the center.” –Radhanath Swami

To put Krishna in the center is the easiest thing but unfortunately, since time immemorial we have habituated ourselves through many births to put ourselves in the center. Somehow or the other we have to move this false ego aside and when Krishna or His devotees are in this world, sometimes the Lord uses His most beloved devotees as examples to teach the rest of us. Arjuna was Krishna’s dear friend. He loved Krishna and Krishna loved him. But in Kurukshetra, by Krishna’s yogamaya potency, He put Arjuna in a state of confusion, bewilderment because He wanted to speak to the world through Arjuna. Here in Vrindavan there are many incredible lessons meant for us to really understand Krishna consciousness.

Radhanath Swami quoting examples describing the need to follow in the foot-steps of great personalities

Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra

Jiva Goswami, when he was just a little tiny boy, saw Lord Chaitanya when his father Anupam and his two uncles Rupa and Sanatan met Lord Chaitanya at Ramkeli. He saw his father and his uncles who gave him such love, who he honored and respected and loved more than anything. Because he was so small, when he saw how they were surrendering with such humility to Lord Chaitanya, how they bowed down, how they were crying, the types of prayers they were offering, it completely transformed his life forever.

yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ

“What great people do common people follow” and actually every one of us is expected to be a leader whoever we are whatever role we may take. We should be leaders by setting an auspicious example for people to follow. Srila Prabhupad would sometimes tell us that when he was a little boy, his father would invite a group of sadhus almost every night for Prasad and Srila Prabhupad’s mother and father would prepare the prasad and serve the prasad and they would have little Abhay (Prabhupad’s name at the time) help to serve the prasad. When Srila Prabhupad saw this, it had a deep effect on him. He said every morning he would hear little bell ringing and his mother and father together would be worshiping Radha Govinda, the family deities. They would regularly take him to the Radha – Govinda Temple, a larger temple which was for their community and in the evenings they would be doing the seva and the only blessing Gaurmohan De would ask the sadhus, “Please bless my son that he will be a great devotee of Srimati Radharani”. Now we understand that Srila Prabhupad was a shaktyavesh special soul who came to this world for a divine mission but still the lives of great persons are to teach us and throughout his life he had similar examples. In fact he dedicated the Krishna book to his father who gave him this example from his earliest childhood. And his eternal father Srila Bhaktisiddhanth Saraswati Thakur, brought such a deeper perception of the same principles of pure devotional service, putting Krishna in the center.

Radhanath Swami glorifies the humility of Jiva Gosvami

Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra

Rupa Goswami wanted to teach this principle to the world through his most beloved disciple Sri Jiva Goswami. In the Bhakti Ratnakar, there is a story of how Rupa Goswami was just completing the writing of the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu and at that time Sri Vallabhabhatt came to visit him. Vallabhabhatt was a very dear associate of Lord Chaitanya. He was a profound scholar, a great paramahamsa Vaishnava and he was senior to them in age. So out of affection, (because in those days the different groups of Vaishnavas had very deep affection and respect for each other) he said to Rupa Goswami after hearing the Mangalacharana of his manuscript, “If you like I will edit this for you”. Oh! Rupa Goswami was so happy. He said, “Yes! You please take this manuscript, edit it and make it better”. While this exchange was happening Jiva Goswami was fanning Rupa Goswami with some leaves because it was a hot day. Jiva Goswami went to the river Yamuna where Vallabhacharya was looking at the manuscript and Jiva Goswami said, “What is it that you are editing now”? He told him that this is what I am doing. According to one’s bhava or one’s particular nature of love for Krishna and according to one’s particular perception of service or from the angle of vision, philosophically we may look at something but there are different ways of understanding the same principles sometimes.

One time, one of the most respected scholars of Sanskrit and Hinduism came to meet Srila Prabhupad. He’s an American man. He said, “Swamiji, why is it that there are so many contradictions among the great acharyas?” And Srila Prabhupad answer was quiet shaking. He looked at this great professor (PhD) and he said there are no contradictions among the great acharyas. That was all. Because when there is a higher vision, we can understand that there are different perceptions and different lessons and according to time, place, circumstance and particular mood of love, the same principles are explained in different ways. So this is what was happening.

Sri Vallabhbhatta was making some adjustments. Jiva Goswami had such deep profound faith in Rupa Goswami that he didn’t want to see anything changed. So he explained very sweetly, very nicely, very respectfully to Vallababhatt that actually this is; just leave it as it is and they got a discussion about it and Vallababhatt acharya was ecstatic to see the devotion, the chastity, the scholarship of Jiva Goswami and very happily he got up, he went back to Rupa Goswami and he gave him the manuscript. He said actually this doesn’t need to be edited. Rupa Goswami said, “Why are you saying that?” He said, “Oh! Your Jiva has already explained to me what you are trying to say and it’s perfect”. Then he left. So what Jiva Goswami did was perfect but Rupa Goswami wanted to make an example for us. He said, “Why did you disturb him? He is a senior person. He wanted to help me. Why are you so proud that you think that you know better?” Vrindavan is a place where no one with even a single grain of pride has a right to reside in. Go home. You are not fit to live in Vrindavan. Now Jiva Goswami was so humble; he didn’t defend himself. Guru Maharaj! “I was doing this for you, I was trying to defend your honor”. Jiva Goswami, from the very core of his heart, he agreed with what his Guru was saying. That yes, I do have pride. I am not fit to live in Vrindavan and he left. And as he was walking he was feeling so much deep remorse and at the same time he wanted to purify himself. So on the bank of the Yamuna, there is a very holy place called Nandaghat and according to Bhakti Ratnakar, he made a little hut out of leaves and he lived there and he was crying out the holy names day and night to rectify his false pride. That was his mood. There was no false pride but that’s the humility of a saint.

“Saintly people consider themselves to be the most fallen because they understand the greatness and the pureness of Krishna.” –Radhanath Swami

To experience he would just eat a little wheat that people would give him along with some jamuna water and drink it. That was his diet. He gave up his sleeping; he gave up practically eating; he was just crying out Krishna’s names day and night and one day Sanatan Goswami happened to be coming through that area and the local people said such a baba we have in our little village, you can’t believe all he does; he just chants all day and he is crying in such ecstasy of love. Sanatan Goswami went to meet him and he saw Jiva Goswami, his health was practically nothing because of the way he was living and Sanatan Goswami went back to Rupa Goswami and told him. Rupa Goswami came and brought Jiva Goswami and Rupa Goswami personally with his own loving heart nursed Jiva Goswami back to health. As we have expressed many times we cannot imitate this and we should not be discouraged when we see the mountains of arrogance and pride in our own hearts and we see that here is somebody who didn’t even have a trace and he was weeping and crying the holy names out to purify himself. But what we can understand very clearly is – this is what our potential is; and how to reach that potential? by understanding the gravity of putting Krishna in the center of our life, through seva and service.

Radhanath Swami explaining the value of Devotional service through the story of Subudhi Rai

Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra

In Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, there is a story. There was an extremely wealthy land owner or Zamindar; his name was Subudhi Rai. He owned vast tracts of land and beautiful homes, so many people were paying taxes to him he was like a king of a province and he was very affectionately taking care of people who were helping him and there was one young Muslim boy who was just a simple boy and Subudhi Rai took him and treated him like his own son and was engaging him in various services and maintaining him. At one time that boy did something; they were digging a lake and he was doing some things that were actually very dangerous to him. He was doing it wrong. So Subudhi Rai gave him a slap with a bush in his back to make sure that this is dangerous, don’t do this again and the boy understood that he is my loving father protecting me. But later on that boy became a Nawab, a local king, extremely powerful and one day his wife saw that mark on his back and said, “Who did this to you?” He said, “Subudhi Rai”. She said, “He must be killed, you are the king now; you must kill this man”. He said, “I love him, he loves me. I was like his son. He was like my father. You know, he got a little angry once but it’s okay, it’s nothing, he was doing it for my own sake”. She said, “No! You must kill him”. He said, “I can’t do that”. So she said, “Then take away his cast; it’s killing without killing”. So he didn’t know what to do and he actually had some sprinkling of water on him and according to the orthodoxy of the time he lost his cast and he was completely rejected. So Subudhi Rai went to Varanasi and he went to some Brahmins. He said, “How can I restore my social status again?” They said, “Oh! This is what they did to you; they put contaminated water on you! Very serious! Only one thing could be done. You take large quantity of pure ghee from the cow and you heat it up until it smokes and then you drink it all and what will happen is you will die but because you die with all that pure ghee, you will take your next birth and have your social status restored. This is how ritualistic people can be. So he wanted a second opinion. He went to some other Brahmins and said that this is what they told me. They said, “No! No! No! We all know, it’s not such a big thing. Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to drink boiling ghee”. So then he was really confused because everyone was giving him different opinions and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Varanasi just at that time on his way to Vrindavan. He was staying at the house of Chandrasekhar Acharya and taking his prasad at Tapan Mishra’s home and Subudhi Rai approached Him and told Him about the conflict of all the different opinions and this is something very important to him. Lord Chaitanya smiled; He said all you have to do is go to Vrindavan, live in Vrindavan, do seva in Vrindavan and constantly chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Not only will you restore your social status; who cares about that?

sarva-dharmān parityajya: mām ekam śaranam vraja……

You will attain the ultimate perfection of life. So Subudhi Rai had such faith in that. He left everything, all his wealth, all the security and he came to Vrindavan and he purposely did not bring anything with him because he wanted to feel himself completely dependent on Krishna. What he did, is he would go into the forest and pick up dry wood that had naturally fallen from the trees and he would go into the town of Mathura and he would sell that dry wood and get little bit of money and with that money he would serve the devotees of Lord Chaitanya that were coming from distant places.

Srila Prabhupad explained that many of Lord Chaitanya’s devotees were from Bengal and Orissa and in Bengal and Orissa, especially in those days, when they were not having importing and exporting, they ate the local foods which was rice but local food in Vrindavan is roti, chapati, wheat and the Bengalis when they came here, they didn’t get any rice but only roti; so most of them would suffer from indigestion. Subudhi Rai with the money he got from selling the little wood which was almost nothing, used all of it to buy rice so that they could have nice rice and he would also get dahi or yoghurt from the cows of Vrindavan and he would put medicinal salt so that it would cure their indigestion and he knew that Bengalis like to be massaged too. So he would get some oils to massage them. So this was his life to serving the devotees in such a simple way – cooking for them, massaging them, giving them medicine and most of all he would take them on tour to the twelve forests of Vrindavan and show them all of the places and give them such a wonderful experience on their pilgrimage. To serve pilgrims is a very holy opportunity.

“Srila Prabhupad said that anyone who comes to our temple, we should understand that they are personally invited by Krishna, they are Krishna’s guests and we are just Krishna’s servants, how we should take care of those who are Krishna’s guests; that is the consciousness.” –Radhanath Swami

This is Subudhi Rai’s way of living. Anyone who comes to Vrindavan, he is Radharani’s and Sri Krishna’s special guest, that we give them a full experience as far as possible, to take care of their health and to show them and give them kathas and have kirtans with them and give them nice prasad. There are many stories, Yaduvar prabhu and Vishakha devi who are here, they can tell us about the early days in Mayapur Dham. Devotees were becoming very sick from the west and Srila Prabhupad was so attentive that they had their mosquito nets, that they had proper medicines, that they had properly prepared prasad that will not only sustain them and make them happy but make them healthy; very concerned. I was just reading in the book about Yamuna Devi’s life, where Srila Prabhupad especially gave her this service. The devotees were coming to Vrindavan and getting so sick and they were in so much anxiety. So he told Yamuna devi that I am entrusting you with all of these devotees to make sure they have very nice prasad, that they have proper medicines when they are ill, that they have proper accommodations, they could be very simple but proper and clean. You see,

“for Srila Prabhupad, this caring for devotees, was most sacred because each and every one of these devotees gave their lives for him and Srila Prabhupad gave his life for them. This is what we should understand when we approach service to the devotees.” –Radhanath Swami

Sri Rupa Goswami came to Vrindavan. When he first arrived at Mathura at Dhruva ghat, Subudhi Rai met him and Subudhi Rai arranged prasad for him and took him on a parikrama to all the twelve forests of Brajbhumi and how Rupa Goswami was so pleased; what a deep loving relationship they had at that time. And when Sri Rupa Goswami left Vrindavan to go back to Puri to meet Lord Chaitanya, Rupa Goswami went by the way of the Yamuna and the Ganga and Sanatan Goswami was coming to Vrindavan by the main road, so they cross without meeting and when Sanatan Goswami arrived, who greeted him – Subudhi Rai. There he served him in every possible way.

“This story of Subudhi Rai and how he attained perfection, always chanting Hare Krishna and serving the devotees in this holy place gives us a glimpse into how much he valued the simple opportunities to be in Vrindavan, to serve devotees, to chant the holy names. It’s very simple but he left an estate worth tens and millions of dollars, fine clothes, and fine food because he had such an appreciation for the value of devotional service.” –Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami explains the qualification to enter Rasa dance through Lord Shiva’s pastime

Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra

Once Lord Shiva, Mahadev wanted to enter the Rasa dance. So he came but in the perimeter of the Rasa dance, Sri Radharani’s closest associates Sri Lalita sakhi and Vishaka sakhi, they said you cannot enter because you don’t have the right mood of love. In order to have this love, you should go to Mansarovar and take your bath and as you are taking your bath, you should be praying for the selfless unconditional loving mood of the Gopis. Mansarovar, I think many of you will be going there during this yatra, it’s just across the Yamuna, from Keshighat a couple kilometers down. When Sri Radharani was in separation from Lord Sri Krishna, she went to that place and her tears of love in separation filled up that lake Mansarovar. So the great destroyer of the universes went there with all humility because he understood the glory and the greatness of Vrindavan. Who are the gopis? By social standards they were very simple milkmaids, they don’t have lots of money, they don’t have big education, some of them are taking care of children, some of them are milking cows, they are making garlands, they are doing the very things that almost anybody could do but they are doing it with love, with the purest, deepest, selfless love. Srila Prabhupad quotes Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, where he explains how Sri Radharani is experiencing the full love of Krishna and she is like a creeper and the gopis are like little flowers on that creeper. Each of the flowers all of Krishna’s love, all of Sri Radha’s love are coming into each one of these flowers. Sukadev Goswami the greatest of renunciates, way beyond the brahman realization, he exalted that the gopis love is the highest perfection of Samadhi; as did Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Mahadev Lord Shiva wanted to serve as a gopi. He understood that this is a limitlessly more exalted position than even being Brahma, the creator of everything or Shiva the creator, maintainer, destroyer of everything. His shakthi is controlling the universe and the gopis, by just making little garlands, they are controlling Krishna. When he bathed in the tears of Sri Radha with this prayer, he actually came out from the water of Mansarovar with the love in the body of Gopi and he came to the Rasa dance and there Srimati Radharani and Lord Sri Krishna greeted him and they could see he was Shiva with the body of a Gopi, with the bhav of a Gopi and Krishna was so happy. When he explained the whole situation to Sri Radha, she was so happy and they entrusted him an eternal service where he would be guard of the Rasa Leela and nobody could enter without his blessings and permission. This story was such an important part of Vrindavan’s culture that Krishna’s great-grandson Vajranabh; from Krishna and Rukmini was Pradyumna, Pradyumna’s son was Anirudha and Anirudha’s son was Vajra and when Parikshit Maharaj was king, he appointed Vajranabh, Krishna’s great grandson to be the local king of Brajbhumi or Vrindavan with the special purpose of establishing Krishna’s places here, because he knew everything. His mother, grandmother, father told him so many beautiful things and Krishna was revealing all of these things to him when he was here. So he personally manifested many deities in the Vrindavan area – Madan Mohan, Radha Gopinath, and the predominating deity Radha Govinda. In Gokul, he established the Dauji – Sri Balramji. In Mathura – Keshav; at Govardhan – Haridev. He established various deities – Srinathji on top of Govardhan, Vrindadevi, Yogamaya, Pataleshwari and in this little town of Vrindavan where we are, he personally established Gopeshwar Mahadev and established a temple which is still here today, hopefully you will all go there, at the very place where Lord Shiva is eternally in the mood of gopi assisting Sri Sri Radharani and Krishna’s rasa lila. This is what Vrindavan is.

Radhanath Swami speaks on Brahma’s bewilderment and his transformation through Brahma-vimohana-lila

Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra

Lord Brahma’s lifetime is 311 trillion years. He is the father of everyone within this particular universe. In Brahma loka, there’s never a disturbance, never a problem that ever happens. It’s the highest planet within this entire universal creation. He is the original receiver of knowledge from Krishna. He is the original guru of the universe.

Tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah

At Brahma kund where you will be going, he offered prayers to Krishna. After he completely humbled himself before Krishna he actually had a vision of Vrindavan. Everything he was seeing before, he was now seeing with completely different eyes. He is Brahma; he has eight eyes and those eyes could see anywhere in the universe. He was seeing the trees, the mountains, the landscape and the cows but after Krishna performed his Brahmavimohana lila, about which we will speak another night he became so humble. He actually understood who is Krishna; he actually understood the value of this little cowherd boy because Krishna seemed so simple and ordinary. At that time he was just, he wasn’t even big enough to take care of cows. He just had the calves and he was playing with his friends and joking with his friends. So Brahma tested him because even he was bewildered because Krishna just seems so ordinary; He made Himself so accessible. Brahma is looking, this is the Supreme Absolute Truth, Brahma’s father, the cause of all causes, the creator, the maintainer and the annihilator of everything, Parameshwara, Yajnapurusa and here he saw Krishna is sitting on the bank of Yamuna with his little friends and they were all eating their Prasad. They all had their little packets of prasad brought from home and one would say, “Oh Krishna! This is very very nice” and he takes a bite out of it and said, “try it”. They take it out of their mouth and give it to Krishna and Krishna would take it from cowherd boy’s mouth and eat it and he would say, “Oh, this is very good, very good” and then he would eat something and said, “you try this” and Brahma thinks this is Yajnapurusa. The demigods with folded hands and the most powerful living beings who were controlling the whole universe, they are approaching the Lord and offering samaveda, prayers of great reverence before him and after years and years of offering these prayers, then the Lord comes majestically and blesses them and these little cowherd boys, they are jumping on his shoulders and they are wrestling with him and he is jumping on their shoulders and wrestling with them and they are pretending to be frogs together. One little Gopa would say, look at Krishna and he would show a frog and the frog would jump and the little boy would pretend he was a frog and jump jump and then Krishna would go next to his friend and jump just like a little frog and he did it so much like a frog. Ultimately Krishna creates the frogs. Ultimately not only Krishna says in Gita, I am the ability in man, he is also the ability in frog. He is the ability in everything. Krishna gives every bird the power to fly. Krishna gives all the little lizards and spiders and insects, the mystical power of walking up walls. He gives the power of the monkeys to jump from one branch to the next. But in Vrindavan, He is studying the frog and He is jumping and jumping and Brahma seeing this, this is my Lord, let me check this out. So he took all the calves and cowherd boys for one year and then he said, let me see what effect I have had on them and when he returned everything was completely normal. All the calves and all the boys were just doing everything. He didn’t realize that Krishna manifested as each and every one of them. What happened? He would check to see in the cave he put them all to sleep, they were still there. He came back and they were here. He went there and they were there and is Krishna within a second taking them from here and putting them there? He was really bewildered and then every calf and every boy manifested a form of Narayan, the Supreme majestic Lord of all existence and around every Narayan and there were millions of Narayans and around each one were all the demigods and all the rishis and all the sages worshipping them; then he was really bewildered. He couldn’t even move; he was like a statute. When it came to such a point Krishna understood he fulfilled his purpose of transforming Brahma. Then everything disappeared and all that was left was Gopal standing with a lump of yoghurt and fruit salad in his hand, just very innocently looking, where are my calves? Where are my friends? Brahma completely humbled himself. Brahma for the first time understood the sweetness of Krishna is infinitely greater than his majestic power because it facilitates the deepest love and Vrindavan is the place where Krishna facilitates that love. When he completely humbled himself with gratitude then his vision of Vrindavan was transformed. He saw every tree as Kalpavriksha, he saw every particle of dust as Chintamani, more valuable than all the jewels of the heavenly worlds, of his brahma loka or even Vaikuntha. He saw each cow as Kamadhenu (a wish fulfilling cow). He saw everything as the spiritual world. The apparently most ordinary things, that is what Vrindavan composes of, he was able to actually understand how totally saturated with love, with prema, with bhav, every particle of Vrindavan was. He wept, he cried in ecstasy and he went and surrendered by placing his heads at the feet of Krishna and he prayed, “Let me be a mountain in your Vrindavan where you and Sri Radharani and your Gopas and your Gopis and all your devotees and your cows and your peacocks and your monkeys and all of your devotees play, let me serve in such a way that everyone is on my head, let the mountains be my heads” and Barsana is actually Lord Brahma. Those four mountains Manghar, Vilasghar, Vrishabhanu’s palace, Kushbihari temple – these four places are the four heads of Brahma. Now somebody may think how is that possible? For Brahma everything is possible but most of all, it’s not just how it is possible, the real question is why is it possible because Lord Brahma considered to take such a humble role of just having the feet of all of the devotees of Krishna, every bird, every animal, every person on his head, so he could actually facilitate their past times by being nice mountains to play on and have loving exchanges, was a greater aspiration than being the lord of the universe. That is how he appreciated Vrindavan and

“we are given these stories so that we could actually get a glimpse of how to appreciate the value of Sri Vrindavan Dham, the value of pure bhakti, pure devotional service.” –Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami explains the essence of life and real purpose of rituals by quoting Krishna’s pastime with the wives of the Brahmins

Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra

A beautiful story is coming to my mind from the Srimad Bhagvatam, which very much reveals the essence; learning how to appreciate the essence of what life is for because the human tendency on every level is to take things cheaply and part of taking things cheaply is when we are giving something very precious where only deep humility can have access. We become so attached to the external forms which are supposed to make us humble and we put so much of our life and our energy in doing them well that we become extraordinarily arrogant about how we are doing it. Does that make sense?

Ritual, people in the world today sometimes, they are disgusted with religious rituals because often times they are done in such a superstitious way, people don’t even know why they are doing it and often times the rituals instead of unifying people, divides people because your ritual is different than my ritual and I am better than you, therefore my religion is better than yours and my ritual is better than yours and even if we have the same religion and the same ritual, look at how I am doing it.

“The rituals are an envelope. The purpose of an envelope is not to be a nice envelope but the purpose of an envelope is a way to send a message. What’s within the envelope is all-important, the content and that’s what Srila Prabhupad emphasizes and all the great acharyas emphasize, our intent is what is all important. The purpose, when we have a humble and grateful heart then our purpose to serve Krishna and take our self out of the center becomes the reality of our life.” –Radhanath Swami

So it was a summer day, very hot and Krishna was with his cows. They were roaming through the forest in the pastures of Vrindavan and they were coming towards the Yamuna river and Krishna spoke to His friends, “Oh! Subala, Sridama, Stoka Krishna, Bhadrasena, just see how the trees, they do not refuse anyone, they are always eager to render service”. He spoke a beautiful verse that the duty of every living being is as far as possible to offer wealth and welfare to other living beings through our life, through our wealth, through our intelligence and through all of our skills. And, just see, how these trees, when it is summer time they are standing in the sun and giving us shade. When it starts to pour rain, they will stand in the rain and if we take shelter of the tree, the tree will keep us perfectly dry. The trees are giving beautiful flowers and beautiful fruits for us, they are giving their wood so we could perform yajna to please the lord and make great progress in our life. They are giving us wood for our furniture for our homes and they ask nothing in return. Trees represent selfless service, giving up oneself for the welfare of others.

“Krishna emphasized, this is dharma, to live for the welfare of other living beings without selfishness” –Radhanath Swami

and according to the commentators of the Srimad Bhagvatam, Krishna was speaking this way because he had something in mind. After passing through the trees they came to the river Yamuna and the cows drank water, it was very cool, crystal clear sparkling water that tasted like nectar. Now on the external level Yamuna is not like that but actually if we have the eyes to see, when we look at the Yamuna even the way we may see, what we see in our hearts we are actually seeing, this is what the Yamuna actually is. The Yamuna has descended from the spiritual world, it’s not river of this world. The cows drank from the river, the boys drank from the river and very happily they went into a forest of Asoka trees. It was getting late in the day and Krishna and cowherd boys had wandered into an area where they usually don’t go. So Yasoda mayi and other Gopis they actually didn’t know where to send prasad for them. The boys were thinking, Krishna and Balaram must be hungry and this is the nature of love. The boys knew that Krishna’s love is such that He is only concerned for us and our love is such that we are only concerned for Him. Krishna must be hungry so somehow we have to get food for Him, so they faint to be extremely hungry and “Oh Rama! Oh Balaram! Oh Krishna!”, they said “Your name is Dustanivarana, which means You are the destroyer of all bad things but we are so hungry, please destroy the hunger in our stomachs because this is a very bad thing. The hunger in our stomachs it feels like the venom of a serpent. It is causing us so much distress. Please tell us how we could find some food. They only wanted Krishna to have food but they knew that the only way Krishna would take it seriously as if He was doing it for them. Krishna told that not far off from here, there are some Brahmins who were performing a yajna, a sacrifice called the angiras and it’s an auspicious time for them to give some food in charity. So go and ask in the name of Balaram and Me for some food from them.

So the boys, they hurried to where the yajna was and oh what an elaborate yajna it was; there were fires burning and incense and there were sandalwoods and there were garlands and flowers and they had vessels made out of gold and silver and copper and beautiful color powders and they were chanting hymns from the Samaveda with great force and the boys offered their prostrated obeisances to the brahmins and stood up with folded hands and prayed. They addressed the Brahmins, “Oh, Lords of the earth, We know that you are very kind and very charitable and you are doing this very important yajna for the welfare of the earth and to attain the heavenly planets; very close by there is Krishna and Balaram and they are very hungry. Please give us some food, you have so much food all around here, you make so many preparations and at this particular time in your yajna, it’s very auspicious to give food in charity, so please give it to us”. The brahmins were so immersed in their ritual and they considered it so important and they considered themselves so important because they were the priests who were conducting it.

They heard the boys; they saw the boys and totally ignored them. We have more important things to do. They were just cowherd boys, they were just children covered with dust and decorated with all kinds of feathers, flowers and leaves; we are Brahmins; we are chanting vedic hymns, we are doing rituals. They just carried on and the boys were standing and they felt very brokenhearted for two reasons. Even if the brahmins were to say no to them, at least they acknowledged that they existed but they ignored them; it’s a painful insult but mostly they were there on behalf of Krishna. All these yajnas are ultimately only meant for Krishna’s pleasure. So they were very much hurt and they ran back and they expressed to Krishna what happened and when Krishna saw their distress, He smiled and explained that this is human behavior. People get caught up in what they are doing like this. These brahmins are so arrogant, they are so obsessed with getting something for themselves through all of their religious activities that they missed the very purpose of why these activities are given to them. In the Gita Krishna tells

vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta krid veda-vid eva cāham

Everything in the vedas, every philosophy, every teaching, every logical explanation, all the rituals, all the yajnas, all the prescribed duties,

samsiddhir hari-tosanam

they are only there to please Krishna. They are only there to help us to humble ourselves before God. Krishna said, please understand when you are a beggar, sometimes people give and sometimes people don’t give, you shouldn’t be attached. Isn’t it interesting that Krishna sent his little boys to be beggars and frustrated their attempts? And Krishna said, “Now go to the wives of these Brahmins. They are deeply affectionate to Me. They will give you everything they have for My pleasure”. So the boys went to the homes where the brahmins wives were sitting. Krishna told them to go to these brahmins wives and the boys with folded palms bowed down because they looked so majestic. Because this yajna was going on, they were sitting on very fine seats with fine clothes and beautiful ornaments and the little cowherd boys said that Krishna and Balaram and before they could even give this message as soon as these brahmin’s wives heard the names Krishna and Balaram, something amazing happened. They swooned, they began to faint, their entire bodies became numb, tears flooded from their eyes and every limb of their body was erupting with bumps of ecstasy and right before the cowherd boy’s eyes they saw the beauty of these ladies increasing and increasing and increasing. Everything they lived for, everything they prayed for, everything they longed for was now about to be realized. The boys were perplexed. These brahmin’s wives (yajna patnis) had never seen Krishna. When they would go to the marketplace to get things for their homes because they were mothers, sometimes the Brajwasi ladies who would sell flowers or sell fruits, they would talk about Krishna. In fact that’s all they talked about was Krishna. And these ladies who were yajna patnis from the highest status of society as Brahmins, when they met these simple little village ladies from Vrindavan and they heard them talking about Krishna’s beautiful form, the sweetness of His loving exchanges with His devotees, His pastimes, His love for His cows and His calves, His mother’s love for Him, His love for His mother and His father. When they would hear about the exchanges of Vrindavan and the beauty of Krishna, they were totally enchanted, mesmerized. They surrendered their hearts in love to Krishna and it’s not that they were sitting in Hari katha like we are where this formal narration is taking place, they were just shopping, hearing these ladies, more or less gossiping with one another about Krishna and when they came home to their families twenty four hours a day they were just yearning, longing, when will i meet Krishna, will i ever meet Krishna. They lived for, they prayed for, they yearned for that moment to meet Krishna and Krishna who is in the heart of every living being.

sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto

He understood and He was reciprocating with them. The boys were thinking, who are these, they never saw Krishna, they don’t know Krishna but just by hearing his name they are completely in ecstasy, their physical and emotional status totally transforming. The boys didn’t know what to do except continue the message. They said Krishna and Balaram are close by in a forest and they are very hungry. Please bring them some food; they sent us for that. The yajna patnis, it was the moment of their life that they yearned for;

“lolyam, this eagerness, this crying to serve, this crying to love, this crying to be with Krishna. Rupa Goswami explains this is the price of love for Krishna, the yearning to love.” –Radhanath Swami

The yajna patnis simply by hearing these beautiful narrations while they were shopping, their yearning to be with Krishna like a blazing fire literally burned away every misconception, every tinge of ego and every attachment to the world. Instantly they brought the very best foods that were prepared for the yajna and instantly they were preparing the best foods that they knew how to make within moments and putting them on nice trays and beautiful vessels and left their homes. Their husbands, their fathers, some of their sons, daughters forbid them from going because you see these yajnas, it takes sometimes weeks or months of preparations to do it and they were needed there but they left because Krishna was calling them.

They wandered through the forest and as they came into that Asoka forest near the banks of the Yamuna, they happened to see through the trees, Krishna with his cowherd boys roaming about and then they came to the clearing. Now they were holding very; they were taking as much possible of the prasad as they could, the bhoga, they were walking a long distance, it was heavy and in the forest there were so many dangers but they did not experience any inconvenience.

Param dristva nivartate

They could pass through every obstacle, every pain, all the insults of the people that were said by their own loving relatives because of their eagerness to serve. Then they saw before their eyes the first true darshan of Krishna. He was standing gazing upon them, each and every one of them. Each of these yajna patnis could see Krishna gazing only at her. His complexion was the very summum bonum, complete essence of all beauty. It was the hue of a newly formed monsoon rain cloud, and the cloth that he was wearing was brilliant yellow like lightening. He had a peacock feather adorning His hair and there were beautiful flowers, little flowers of all different colors also decorating His hair. The limbs of his body were ornamented with natural minerals from the ground of Vrindavan that His friends would put on him and the sandalwood pulp that his mother Yasoda mayi put on Him. He had a long garland of natural forest flowers and leaves that extended below His knees. There were lovely lilies hanging over His ears and His left hand was leaning on the shoulder of one of his friends Subala and His right hand was twirling a lotus flower. Srila Vishwanath Chakravarty Thakur gives us a deeper insight into the twirling of lotus flower because whatever Krishna does has infinite meaning. Krishna was speaking scientifically to the brahmin’s wives that this lotus flower is your heart and it is now in my hand and I am twirling it around and due to your love, my heart is now twirling around like this lotus flower. As the yajna patnis looked upon Krishna, they saw His beautiful hair which was like black silk, was curling around His lovely moon like face and His cheeks and His lotus-like eyes were gazing with such affection upon them. Krishna was smiling. The very essence of Krishna’s beauty is His smile. The yajna patnis standing holding the offerings having the first darshan of Krishna…

ye yathā māḿ prapadyante
tāḿs tathaiva bhajāmy aham

For many years they were meditating on Krishna. Even when they were much younger, they would hear the stories of Krishna in the marketplace. They were yearning, yearning and yearning with the desire to serve and to love and now Krishna was reciprocating with their love by revealing Himself, smiling upon them in such a way that their hearts were conquered. Through the doors of their eyes, they brought Krishna inside and placed Him on a lotus bed – that was their hearts and there Krishna actually entered. The form that they were seeing in front of their eyes entered as he was through their eyes into the lotus of their heart and there He embraced them and they embraced Him and all of the distress was relieved. Srimad Bhagavatam compares it to when a great yogi realizes his eternal self then he is eternally free from all the distress of the ahankar or the false ego of I, me and mine, the perfection of all their desires. Their body, their mind, their words, their life they offered to Krishna in love and Krishna offered Himself in love for them and this was all going on in their hearts as they were standing holding the plates and jugs of food. Krishna smiling upon them, He invited them please sit down and be comfortable and be happy.

“I am so glad that you have come to the forest to give me this food. Actually what you have done is perfect because all of the great sages and scriptures teach us that the very perfection of life is to serve Me with unmotivated, uninterrupted love; that’s the true happiness of the self”.  –Radhanath Swami

We have our mothers, our fathers, our husbands, our wives, our children and our friends and all of these different people but

“what is most dear is the self because if we don’t have life, we have no power to love. And I am the Paramatma, I am Atma priya. I am the beloved of the self. It is My presence in the heart of all living beings that enables us to love them. It is My presence in your heart that empowers you to love and my presence in other heart that is the object of love.”  –Radhanath Swami

So please put down the food that you have brought and now you should go home. The yajna patnis did not want to go home; they were shocked.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

Krishna tells in Gita, abandon all varieties of dharma and just surrender to Me, I will protect you, do not fear. The yajna patnis, they surrendered everything and now Krishna was sending them home. So graciously and desperately they offered their appeal to Krishna.

ye yathā māḿ prapadyante
tāḿs tathaiva bhajāmy aham

You say that according to how one surrenders to You, You reciprocate accordingly. We have sacrificed, surrendered, abandoned everything for You; all we want is You. We don’t want anything but to serve You and to love You. We have longed for this moment our whole life. It’s not becoming of You to send us back home.

abrahma-bhuvanal lokah
punar avartino ‘rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

Krishna says in Gita, from the highest planet in this material world down to the lowest, they are all places of misery. The one who comes to Me never takes birth in this material world again. To one who comes to Me, I save them from ever coming back to the sufferings of this world. We have come to You, why are You sending us back to this material world where there is nothing but suffering and forgetfulness in separation from You. As lord Rama, You gave a promise when Vibhishan came to surrender to You. Vibhishan is the brother of Ravana who stole Sita, who is your enemy. The monkeys wanted to chase him away but at that time You spoke that everyone here, “This is my solemn vow that anyone who even one time says, “Oh my lord! Today I am Yours”. Even if Ravana himself were to say sincerely, “My lord, today I am Yours”, I will give that person my protection for the rest of eternity”. We are Yours, protect us, why are you sending us away? When the river rushes out from a mountain cave, the river can’t go back into the mountain cave, it must naturally complete its course of flowing towards the ocean. We have left everything of this world only to be here with you, we cannot go back. If a person is born blind and lives his whole life without vision and then miraculously is given the perfect vision to see everything, can that blind man reject his good fortune and lose his vision to be blind again? Is that what you are asking us to do? We have been in darkness and blindness and now in Your presence, we are in the light of Your grace; we cannot go back. Our relatives, our husbands, they have rejected us for our surrender to You. Let us stay. Their words which were sincere and spoken with deep love affected Krishna’s heart and Krishna replied I have accepted your love, I am forever indebted to you but

“please know that one does not obtain love for Me simply by physical proximity. Real love for Me is realized through hearing, hearing about Me, worshiping My form of the deity, through meditating upon Me and chanting My names and glories. Through this path of always remembering Me, meditating on My beautiful form that you have seen, hearing My names and glories, worshipping Me and chanting My names, we will always be together. I will never be apart from you. This is the true way for all beings to attain love for Me.”  –Radhanath Swami

There is a famous story of Srila Prabhupad where devotees were telling how much they so much wanted to be physically close to him. Although he was sent to so many places and sometimes they were hardly seeing them and Srila Prabhupad said, “Who is the closest person to me physically at this moment”? Nobody said anything and Srila Prabhupad pointed to a fly that was swarming around him. In fact, it was right on top of him and he said, he is closest to be physically but he is simply causing me disturbance; same principle that Krishna told the yajna patnis.

“Actual devotion, love is manifested not through physical proximity but through seva. Do not try to see Krishna but serve Krishna in such a way that Krishna is pleased to see you.”  –Radhanath Swami

Krishna spoke these words to the yajna patnis with such compassion, such concern, such love that they had complete faith. They became ecstatically happy; they offered all the food to Krishna and then they returned to their homes but as they were leaving they had already took that beautiful presence of Krishna that was in front of their eyes and brought Him so deep in their hearts and He never left them there. When they returned home, their husbands saw their effulgence, their husbands saw that they were transcendental supernaturally intoxicated with ecstasy; their husbands saw that they had attained the ultimate Samadhi of prema bhakti and they looked at their wives with total awe and reverence. The yajna patnis explained to one other of her friends about what they had seen. This particular yajna patni was forcibly prevented from going and she was in such a state; she was literally a prisoner in her own house yearning for Krishna. All the others left to go to offer him seva, the chance of a lifetime, it may never come again. She was in such a deep state of separation that she closed her eyes upon hearing the other yajna patni’s explanation and took Krishna so deep in her heart and Krishna appeared in her heart and embraced her and her physical material body passed away and instantly her spiritual body Krishna brought it into the association of the Gopis and the gopis taught her how to personally render loving service to Krishna in the forest. That was the perfection that she attained. The yajna patnis told Krishna, when they were begging to remain that we don’t want to be in impediment for You because we are brahmin’s wives it may be socially unacceptable for you who is just a cowherd boy to be accepting our services in public, so we won’t go in the village with you. We will live the rest of our lives in the forests and will sweep the forest paths for You and will collect the flowers for You and the Tulasi leaves that fall from Your feet, we will collect them as Your servants. That was the spirit of their devotion. Their husbands realized that they were ignorant fools and they began to condemn themselves; the very purpose of all brahminical activities, all philosophy, all knowledge of vedas, all scriptures is only to please Krishna and we had the opportunity to directly personally please Him, He sent His friends and we neglected them, we ignored them, we hurt their hearts because we were so intoxicated with these rituals. To hell with our being brahmins, to hell with our first birth to our parents, to hell with our second birth brahminical initiation, to hell our third birth initiation into the performance of vedic sacrifices, to hell with our being brahmacharis, the school of our gurus for so many years, our wives never did that, to hell with all of our knowledge of slokas, mantras, tantras, yantras, mudras, pujas and all of our great learning. Our wives don’t know any of that. To hell with our hundreds and hundreds of followers who will do anything we say, we are their teachers, we are their spiritual masters, our wives don’t have any followers. To hell with our execution of the most complicated, intricate rituals and knowing expertly the time, the place and how to do everything, our wives don’t do either but they pleased Krishna and we didn’t. We are fools. From that point on, the brahmins accepted their wives as their spiritual masters, their gurus for the rest of their lives. They no longer saw, this is my wife or this is my daughter, they saw this as a paramhamsa liberated devotee of Krishna who is my Guru. Sukadev Goswami ends this chapter by telling how the brahmins could have gone to where Krishna was after learning all of this but they knew that Kamsa had spies everywhere and if Kamsa found out that these brahmins had gone to surrender to Krishna, Kamsa would have killed them. Out of fear of Kamsa, they did not go. But the yajna patnis, they had no fear of Kamsa, they had no fear of anything because they had love.

Radhanath Swami speaks on conquering fear

Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami speaking at Vrindavan Yatra

bhajahū re mana śrī-nanda-nandana
abhaya-caraṇāravinda re

Govinda Das prays that my dear mind, please worship the divine son of Nanda, Sri Nandanandana, always remember Him because in doing so one becomes fearless. In this world perhaps the most powerful emotional influence is fear. We fear hunger, we fear losing money, we fear losing our loved ones, we fear losing our health, we fear death, we fear earthquakes, we fear enemy nations with nuclear bombs, we fear mosquitoes, there is unlimited fears that are in all of our lives.

bhajahū re mana śrī-nanda-nandana
abhaya-caraṇāravinda re

Even the greatest military heroes that run into battle and willing to risk their lives and even die for their country, they are not without fear, they have a higher cause that they are willing to die for but the highest cause, the highest cause to live for and to die for, the highest cause that transcends all fear is Prema. Prema is the heart’s love for Krishna.

Kamala-dala-jala jivana talamala bhajahu hari-pada niti re

“Govind das tells that one’s health, wealth, loved ones, skills, acquisitions whatever it may be they are like drops of water on a lotus leaf; at any moment it will slip away, gone forever. That is the nature of all the things that we are holding onto in this world and to the degree we have attachments to that degree we have fear. To be fearless means to be detached. To be truly detached means to be completely attached to Krishna because when we attach ourselves to Krishna’s beauty, Krishna’s sweetness, Krishna’s love. That love is infinite and it is forever. Once we connect to it, we can never lose it, wherever we may be, in any situation.”  –Radhanath Swami

Krishna then took all the food that the yajna patnis brought and served it. Krishna and Balaram themselves served it to all their friends. The friends wanted Krishna to eat but Krishna wanted the friends to eat and just to please Krishna they all ate because they knew that it will give Krishna more pleasure for us to eat until He eats and that’s why they ate and then they served Krishna and Krishna ate what they tasted.

patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati

Offer me a leaf, or flower, fruit or water with devotion and I will accept it. Krishna tasted the love of yajna patnis and He was sharing that love with all of His friends. This is one of the great glories of Vaishnava history; how Krishna loves to share the love of His devotees with others. This is Vrindavan and coming for this yatra, this is actually our purpose.

“Whatever inconveniences, whatever austerities or whatever blissful moments, let us keep seeking the essence. What is that essence – pleasing Krishna. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught us how to reach that essence.

Gopi-bhartur pada-kamalayor dasa-dasa-dasanudasah

to be the servant of the servant of the servant.”  –Radhanath Swami

Narottam Das Thakur, that great scholar we heard yesterday, how he was seeking that essence. Subudhi Rai, this great millionaire we heard today, how he was seeking that essence. The yajna patnis, we heard how they were seeking this essence. What is the essence? To serve, to give pleasure to Krishna and what gives pleasure to Krishna? When we serve those He loves.

“Vaishnava seva is the ultimate benediction that Krishna gives us and jiva daya, sharing the great gift of bhakti that we have received with as many people as possible out of respect and compassion for them as Krishna’s children who have forgotten. When there is Vaishnava seva and when there is jiva daya, and when we really appreciate these principles, then we are really in a state of mind where Krishna will reveal himself to us as we cry out His holy name.”  –Radhanath Swami


Radhanath Swami Offering lamp at Vrindavan Yatra
Radhanath Swami Offering lamp at Vrindavan Yatra

Thank you very much.