I am very grateful to be with all of you this evening. Thank you very much.
Radhanath Swami extols the glories of Haridas Thakur
Our beloved Srila Prabhupad, our founder acharya, emphasized the principle that Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to be foremost on the path of bhakti. Lord Chaitanya quoted from the scripture that through all the various means of spiritual practice one can only truly know Krishna by following in the footsteps of the great souls, mahajano yena gata sapantha. Srila Prabhupada told us that we cannot imitate enlightened pure devotees of the Lord. Following the footsteps means living by their teachings and trying to very honestly and realistically apply the examples that they have established in every aspect of our lives. Haridas Thakur chanted 300,000 names Krishna every day without fail. When he was in his very old age and it became difficult for him to complete his rounds, he told Lord Chaitanya that he was in a spiritually diseased condition. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said to him that you have already descended and fulfilled the purpose of your incarnation in this world, to establish the Yuga-dharma of the chanting of the holy names through your teachings, and through your example. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who knows past present and future, knows that Haridas is going to be the inspiration for countless people forever.
Thakur Haridas prayed only one desire be fulfilled that he should not see the closing chapter of Lord Chaitanya’s lilas, that with his eyes gazing upon the moonlight face of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, with his feet pressed to his heart, and with Lord Chaitanya’s holy name, ‘Sri Krishna Chaitanya,’ vibrating on his tone, that he could leave this world.
Lord Chaitanya said, “The greatest joy I have being here is in the association of you, why you want to leave me?”
Haridas said, “Why are you creating this illusion? There were thousands and thousands of devotees who are fit to sit on my head. I am insignificant. If an ant dies, a little insect and what is the loss to the world? Please fulfill my wish.” This was his spirit, his determination, his humility, his faith in the holy name as the namacharya, and it is the highest dharma to follow in his footsteps.
Radhanath Swami speaks about the compassion of Prahlad Maharaj and Lord Shiva
Haridas Thakur is said to be non-different than Prahlad Maharaj. What was Prahlada’s faith in Krishna? In every situation, whether he was ruling as the king of the world later on, or whether he was being thrown in pits of snakes, or off the mountains, it was all the same to Prahlad because he was remembering Krishna, ‘Krishna I am yours!’
ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam
adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va
Lord Chaitanya gave us this principle. This is love. “My beloved Krishna, if you want to, you can embrace me, or make yourself visible before me, or if you like you can trample upon me, or break my heart in separation. If you want, you may neglect me. You are free to do anything because I am your servant unconditionally.” This was Prahlad, and his compassion. His compassion that even to the person who hated him and did everything possible to disturb him, Prahlada’s only prayer was, “Let me always remember you Lord, and give Hiranyakashipu, my father liberation. Forgive him.”
Lord Shiva is a mahajan. When the whole ocean was being poisoned due to unlimited quantity of deadly poison that was gushing from the ocean of milk, the demigods were helpless. They approached Lord Vishnu and Vishnu directed them to approach Shiva, vaishnavanam yatha shambhu, Mahadev. And with hardly a second thought, he took permission from his good wife Parvati to drink all the poison, to take it all himself for the welfare of others. Srila Prabhupad manifested that compassion; he manifested that faith in the holy names. So we have great faith that by following his teachings and by assisting him in that mission of compassion in most intimate way, Krishna will bless us and everything else will be given if we are sincere to really grasp what he is giving us. We should be really grateful and open our hearts to receive it, and reciprocate through our sadhana, through our prayer, and through our seva.
Radhanath Swami explains the glories of doing Govardhan Parikrama
How it is that parikrama you have done yesterday is literally following in the footsteps of the great souls? Because, it is on the same path, since the time immemorial, the greatest acharyas have been doing this parikrama. It was established by Krishna. Krishna did Govardhan parikrama, Krishna worshipped Govardhan Hill and he inspired Nanda Maharaj, Yashoda, Srimati Radharani, Lalita, Vishakha, all the sakhis and all the gopis, Subala, Sridama and all the gopas, everyone to worship Govardhan Hill. They all walked around with all their Surabhi cows.
Many years later, Madhavendra Puri came to the Vraja Bhumi and he was going to the 12 forests, and he performed the parikrama of Sri Giriraj; as did his associates Nityananda Prabhu did Govardhan parikrama. Ishvara Puri and all of these great souls had done Govardhan parikrama. Advaita acharya came to Vrindavan and did the Govardhan parikrama. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself came and there is a beautiful description in Chaitanya Charitamrita of how he was embracing the stones of Govardhan Hill, and how he worshipped each of these holy places around Govardhan Hill. And his most intimate followers Rupa Goswami would regularly come to Govardhan to do parikrama. When Sanatana Goswami was living at Chakaleshwar Mahadev near Manasi Ganga, everyday would do the Govardhan parikrama. Raghunath Das Goswami living at Sri Radha kund every day would do Govardhan parikrama. Jiva Goswami would also come here. When Gopal Bhatta Goswami was living at Radha kund, every day would do Govardhan parikrama. So did Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Lokanath Goswami, and Bhugarbha Goswami. When Narottam Das Thakur and Srinivas acharya were living with Jiva Goswami, he sent them to do Govardhan parikrama with the Raghav Pandit, who lived in a cave in one of the ends of Govardhan hill near Punchari.
There is a beautiful story in Bhakti Ratnakar where Thakur Narottam, Srinivas acharya and Raghav Pandit are doing the Govardhan parikrama. And in generations Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur, Baladev Vidyabhushan, Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj and Gaurkishor Das Babaji Maharaj, when they were living here and other sampradayas, Sripad Vallabhacharya, Vitthalanath, the great acharyas of the Nimbark sampradaya saw the Govardhan parikrama as was the highest, deepest, most intimate connections that we could make with Sri Sri Radha Krishna with our worship of Giriraj. Bhaktivinod Thakur, Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur had a home near Ratha kund. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur would bring large gatherings of people for Braja mandal parikrama and Govardhan parikrama.
Our beloved Srila Prabhupad, as it has been discussed many times over the last few days, even when he was in his last days, it was his deep desire to perform the parikrama of Sri Giriraj. Even though his body would not live, he couldn’t even walk, he requested, “Put me on the back in an ox-cart and I will go around.” “But Prabhupad if you do you will die.” Prabhupada said, “What more beautiful way to die will there be than while doing Govardhan parikrama?” So, when you do the parikrama please understand that this dust, the Vraja Bhumi is descending from Goloka. It is the eternal abode of the Lord manifesting on this earth. And the dust of Vraja Bhumi is very sacred. Sometimes separation helps us not take things for granted.
Radhanath Swami share his experience with dust of Vrajbhumi
In 1971-72, when I was living in Vrindavan, it was more of forests and very simple place. Now it has become quite popular to the world, which is wonderful. But I was always being told and I was always seeing in great Vaishnavas, how they honored the dust of Vraja Bhumi. It was such a deep part of their devotion, the dust of Vraja Bhumi, that when I had to leave I thought, ‘I will fill little pouches with dust every day and wherever I am in the world I will eat some,’ which I did. Of course when I came through customs in America, and they found pouches of dust. They were ready to put me in prison because they thought it was some sort of intoxicating drug.
They asked, “What is this?”
I said, “Dirt!” (laughs in the audience)
They looked at it and they smelled it and I was thinking, ‘How fortunate they are!’ (Clapping in the audience) The dust was so fine and I carried it in a little cloth bag which was actually given to me by the Dalai Lama’s people in Tibetan area. They gave me these little cloth bags, and so I put the dust of Vrindavan. They were about this big (shows size by hand gestures) and they had little strings, then you open it and they are handmade. So when you open it, it goes like (funny sound and actions of dust coming out of the bag).
The customs agents opened it and asked, “What is this?”
I said, “It is dirt.”
The police felt they got me, “Dirt! What kind of terrible excuse is that? Who carries dirt around with? Coming from Afghanistan and Iran and India, Nepal, so it is definitely going to be drugs!” So they opened it. They couldn’t open it and finally (action of opening) in the end (funny sound of dust coming of and spreading out on the face), the dust went and flew in their eyes, their nose, and they smelled it. They said, “It is dirt!” (Laughs)
I was thinking, ‘How fortunate! It is the dust of Vraja. Its JFK immigration customs, but this dust is so sacred because it is the dust of the spiritual world that is chintamani, and the dust is forever mixed, not in a material way, in the spiritual way. Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar during the spring time would perform their Rasa lila here at Govardhan. It is the dust of the feet of Sri Radha, it is the dust of the feet of Sri Krishna. It is the dust of the feet of all of the sakhis and gopis and manjiris. It is the dust of the feet of all the sakhas and the gopas when they would herd their cows; it is the dust of the hooves of sacred Surabhi cows of Krishna, and their calves and bulls. It is the dust of the feet of Madhavendra Puri and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the six Goswami’s and all the acharyas and all the vrajavasis. It is the dust of the feet of all the tens and millions of people that have done this parikrama with faith and devotion throughout the centuries. It is the dust of the feet of Yashoda, Nanda, Upananda, Abhinanda, Nandan, and Vrishabhanu, as they all did this parikrama.’
On the subject of Kirtida, our own dear Kirtida Devi Dasi from Mumbai, the wife of Vrishabhanu Prabhu, mother of Radharani and Sridhama Sakha, Priya Sakhi and Murlidhar and all the grandchildren, one of the most wonderful of all the devotees, is just today in very critical condition. She is at her last stages of cancer. So here at Sri Giriraj, the supreme abode of the Lord I request all the devotees to kindly pray to Sri Giriraj, to Sri Radha Shyamsundar, and to Radha Gopinath to shower their most intimate blessings upon her. Let us take a moment to offer this prayer.
Radhanath Swami continues description of places around Govardhan
Shall we continue the parikrama that we were doing day before yesterday? (Devotees cheer with Hari Bol) Who remembers where he left off? We were speaking from Sri Raghunath Das Goswami’s explanation of the lila of Dannivartana Kund. There are many places at Sri Govardhan. We will only describe a few of for them for two reasons: one is nobody can even know all of them, and two is we only have a short time.
From Dannivartana Kund up until around the place of Sankarshan Kund it is called Annakuta Kshretra. It is the place where the offering of the Annakuta was arranged by Lord Krishna as an offering to Giriraj, where the Vrajavasis took their entire stock of grains and all precious gifts coming from mother cow, vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs. They offered everything they had; this was their faith in Krishna. They made massive mounds of rice, rotis, and various types of sabjis, soups, cakes, and sweets. There were lakes and mountains of bhogas.
Today we tried to follow in their footsteps by offering our Annakuta offering. I was told that all of you prepared 1650 preparation! (Cheers Hari Bol) Is that accurate? It was interesting. My dear God brother Bhakti Siddhanta Prabhu and I were walking through the cooking area where there were over 150 little clay stoves on the ground and every one of you were cooking with clay pots, cow dung, and wood, and the smoke was incredible. (Laughs)
Everyone, everyone, I saw hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people at a time in so many shifts, and everyone was crying! (Laughs) It was just so simple. Everyone was just sitting in the dust of Vraja Bhumi with the wood and cow dung paddies, sitting on the ground and the stoves were little clay structures on the ground exactly as they have been cooking for thousands of years with the little clay stoves. It was so simple; no technology. Then everybody came with their offerings on their way to bring them to Sri Giriraj. They did pass by a table and there was a devotee keeping the records of each offering on a computer! (Laughs) Bhakti Siddhanta Prabhu was very impressed by that, I think.
But we are humbled when we hear what the Vrajavasis offered and there Krishna himself manifested himself on Govardhan hill. Krishna took an inconceivable and gigantic form, a form on Govardhan hill that was the size of Govardhan hill; but he was a person. Just to show that Govardhan hill actually is a person, has always been a person and will always be a person. “Govardhan hill is non-different than me,” he manifested that. And with his arms he was taking all the mountains and accepting it. He was eating everything. Giriraj eating these offerings is a very sweet revelation of his unlimited greatness. In the Bhagavad-Gita, we have the Virata-rupa, the universal form, that is also manifesting the greatness, but in madhurya dham, in Vrindavan, he does it in such sweet ways. Nothing was left and he was calling “Aniyor! Aniyor! Give me more!” and from that day, the village where that took place even today is named “Aniyor,” very special place. And then after Krishna receives all our offerings, because this is bhakti, there is reciprocation.
As a devotee, everything we have we are getting from Krishna: the air we breathe, the power to see, the power to speak, the power to move, and the power to think. It is all given to us by Krishna. It is like taking water from Ganga and offering it to Ganga. Bhakti means, “Krishna, I’m receiving your mercy in so many ways and I’m offering it back to you with love.” And that’s the way Krishna is. He received the love of all the Vrajavasis and then offered it back, Maha Mahaprasad, and what a feast they had! Everybody was included. Can you imagine the intoxication of the Vrajavasis? So meditate. They spent so much time and energy making these mountains of prasad, and then they saw Giriraj in this incredible form, even though he was so gigantic he was beautiful. He wasn’t like scary; he was sweet. It is not that people are going (scary face). In Virat-rupa, Arjuna was like this (action of a scared person), but with Giriraj everyone was (expressions of love), they just fell in love. They gave their hearts. Even when Krishna becomes enormous in Vrindavan He still has this sweetness of charming the hearts of everyone. Indra was not a vrajavasi (Laughs). So his heart wasn’t charmed until later on *************.
Krishna takes and reciprocates. Whatever little we give him, if it is offered with love and devotion; Krishna accepts it and reciprocates by giving his grace and mercy, his love. There is nothing more priceless that we can strive for than that. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami extols the glories of Balaramji and Gauri Kund
Sankarshan Kund just beyond Aniyor, it is a place which is dedicated to Lord Sri Balaramji. Balaramji himself expands to be Krishna’s abode, his dham, he expands to be Krishna’s furniture and clothes, jewelry and shoes and bed, and that in every way Balaram is the Supreme Personality of Servitude Godhead. He is Krishna himself in the mood of serving in every way. He is in shanta-ras by expanding himself as Krishna’s paraphernalia. He is in dasya-ras by serving Krishna in every possible way. He in sakhya-ras by being a cowherd boy: playing with Krishna, and joking with Krishna. He is in vatsalya-ras as Krishna’s elder brother: very protective and caring for Krishna. He manifests and expands himself as anankamanjiri, Sri Radha’s younger sister to serve in the conjugal loving affairs of Sri Radha, Krishna and the gopis. In this way Lord Balaram is serving in every way.
It is all power from Krishna. Balaram is non-different except the color of their complexion and the rasa that they have with each other. He expands himself as all the Vishnus and all the Narayans and all the incarnations. What is his power? But yet Balaram appears as Nityananda Prabhu – vrajendra-nandana yei, saci-suta haila sei, balarama haila Nitai – as Nityananda Prabhu he is going door to door, village to village, house to house begging people, “Please take the name of Krishna. Take the grace of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by chanting Hare Krishna.” And his humility, his compassion showed the world the power of the holy name to the extent of even giving the highest perfection of prema, ananda, bhakti to Jagai and Madhai.
Narottam Das Thakur explains that without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu it is not possible to understand the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath in Vrindavan. He opens the doors through his causeless mercy. At Sankarshan Kund, we honor and take shelter of the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu and the path that he and his brother Mahaprabhu gave us, the chanting of the holy names
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
Not far from Sankarshan kund there is Gauri Tirtha or Gauri kund. Rupa Goswami writes a beautiful little story about that, in a very summarized way. Abhimanyu was actually Krishna who expended himself as another gopa just to marry Sri Radha, just to make his lilas with Radha, more intimate and more inconceivably happy forever. One day, Abhimanyu and his mother Jatila were told that Sri Radha was meeting Krishna. So Abhimanyu decided that we will move away from here to Mathura. So he was walking early one morning and he met Purnamassi, who was like the guru of all of Vraja Bhumi.
She said, “Where are you going?”
He said, “I want your blessings. I’m going to Mathura.”
She said, “Why?”
And he told her.
Purnamassi’s heart was trembling, ‘How could Radharani, the ultimate queen and beloved of everyone in Vrindavan leave? She cannot leave from here!’ So she recommended him, “Have Sri Radharani worship Gauri at her temple. Gauri is the wife of Shiva.” Of course it is also the name of Sri Radha but in this sense that it is Shiva-shakti or Gauri.
So Sri Radha went to perform her pooja. Krishna met her there when she was picking flowers. Jatila and Abhimanyu heard about that. So they decided, “We are going to catch them together!”
They came. Krishna talked to Vrinda Devi and said, “Get me the clothes of Gauri,” and he made himself a golden color, put on the clothes, the crown of Gauri, and stood right in front of the deity; just like a deity. When Abhimanyu and Jatila came in the temple, they saw Sri Radharani worshiping the deity. At that time Radharani was praying, “Please, please, be merciful.”
And Abhimanyu asked, “What is she praying?”
Jatila asked, “Why is she praying like this?”
And Gauri, who was Krishna, spoke. She said to one of the gopis, “Tell her what I have said.”
Gopis said, “Gauri has spoken that in two days Abhimanyu is going to be arrested by Kamsa. Kamsa is going to chop off his head and offer it to Lord Shiva and Radharani is praying to have mercy on him.”
And Jatila asked, “Is there anything we could do? Is there anything we could do?”
Gauri said, “No. There is nothing anybody could do. Your head will be sliced off in two days by Kamsa. So the only hope,” Gauri said to Radha in front of everybody, “because of your prayers, because of your love for me, (Krishna is speaking) I will protect Abhimanyu under the condition that you never leave me in Vrajabhumi.”
And Abhimanyu and Jatila cried out to Gauri, “We will never ever take Radharani away from Vrindavan.”
And Gauri was very happy. She smiled (laughs). And Gauri said,” You should always know that Radharani is the supreme ultimate personification of chastity, purity and love.”
They said, “Yes, yes, we understand that. We understand.”
Then Jatila and Abhimanyu while going home and saying, “Lucky that we came there just in time.” And they went away very happily.
Then Krishna came off the throne, took off his Gauri clothes, and had his wonderful pastimes with Sri Radha. That is one of the stories of Gauri kund.
Radhanath Swami on pastimes at Govind Kund and Madhavendra Puri
Then we will come a little further to Govinda Kund. Govinda kund is one of the wonderful places in Sri Sri Radha Krishna’s vasant lila, where he and the gopis performed their wonderful pastimes. It is the place where Indra came after he sent his devastating rainfall to Vrindavan and with the help of Surabhi he was able to offer his love and his worship to Krishna. Now Indra, whose pride was just crushed, out of his honest humility wanted to express that, ‘Krishna, you are the real Indra. You are the real Lord and controller.’ So they had an abhishek ceremony to corronate Krishna as the Supreme King Lord of all the devatas, and that abhishek took place at Govinda kund. Surabhi bathed him with her unlimited volume of pure ecstatic love in the form of milk. Airavata brought the Mandakini Ganga from the spiritual world and bathed Krishna. And all the devatas, the devis, the rishis, and the wives of the rishis came with so many beautiful gifts and filled that kund with their love; that’s Govinda kund. Indra said, “Your name in Goloka, the spiritual world is Govinda. Now we proclaim your name to be Govinda here in Gokula Vrindavan.”
After doing Govardhan parikrama, it was at Govinda kund where Madhavendra Puri was just sitting and meditating on Sri Giriraj. Right across from Govardhan Hill is Govinda kund and it is a beautiful darshan. Madhavendra Puri is a kalpavriksha tree of Goloka. Some acharyas explain that Nidhuvan in Vrindavan, during their rasa-lila Sri Sri Radha and Krishna would rest there in a special kunj and they would rest under a particular kalpavriksha tree. Even the sakhis and even the manjiris were shy to come when Sri Sri Radha and Krishna were together and resting together after dancing through the rasa lila. This particular kalpavriksha tree was there doing seva, hearing, and serving; the most intimate seva. That kalpavriksha tree became Madhavendra Puri.
In the Sri Madhava sampradaya of Brahma sampradaya, Madhavendra Puri was the first to manifest Madhurya rasa or conjugal rasa on the path of pure unalloyed love. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in Rama Keli and was telling the story of Madhavendra Puri’s life ecstatically. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, ‘Sri Krishna Chaitanya Radha Krishna nahi anya,’ Radha and Krishna two have become one as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the form of Sri Chaitanya, Krishna is with the bhava and the color of the complexion of Sri Radha. How and why is he honoring and worshiping Madhavendra Puri with such love and devotion? It is because of their intimacy in the spiritual world of Goloka in nitya lila and because of Madhavendra Puri’s incredible deep ecstasy of love in this world. His disciples were Nityananda Prabhu, Pundalik Vidyanidhi, Paramananda Puri, Bramhananda Puri, Ishvar Puri, Advait aachrya. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to be connected as the grand disciple of Madhavendra Puri.
So he was sitting there for long time just chanting Krishna’s names and meditating on Sri Radha Gopinath and a little cowherd boy came and told that, “O Swamiji, you have been here for a long time. Some people beg for food in my village and some people go back. You’re so humble that you don’t even beg. So I have come to bring you some milk. Please drink his milk. I will come back after milking the cows and I will collect the container.”
Madhavendra Puri said, “How did you know I am fasting?”
The little cowherd boy said that, “Some of the village ladies were coming and getting water from Govinda and they told me. So I have come to serve you.” The little boy left and Madhavendra Puri drank the milk. He washed the pot and he sat in deep transcendental ecstasy chanting Krishna’s holy name.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
He was chanting in love all night long and right toward the end of the night, he happened to go into a sleeping state. That little cowherd boy came again and took Madhavendra Puri by the hand and said, “Come, come,” and he took Madhavendra Puri to a place near Govardhan hill where there were thick bushes. He said, “I am living in those bushes. Long ago Bhadra, the great grandson of Krishna formed this deity of mine and I had been worshiped here since that time. But long ago, some foreign invaders came and terrorized this village of Aniyor and the Pujari put me in the bushes to protect me, to hide me and then he left. He never came back and I have been here since then. It is very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. I am very thirsty and I am hungry too. I just been waiting when will Madhavendra Puri come? Bring the local Vrajavasis of the village, cut down these thorny branches, take me out of the bush and install me on top of Govardhan Hill. Bathe me with thousands and thousands of buckets of pure water from Govinda kund, do the panchamrita and panchagavya, have wonderful ceremonies and then build me temple.” Then the little boy disappeared and Madhavendra Puri woke up and understood that the boy that gave him milk was Krishna and he didn’t recognize him. He was thinking that he was so ungrateful. He was grateful, but instead of just getting down on himself, ‘Why didn’t I recognize Krishna,’ he was thinking, ‘Krishna gave me seva.’
Whatever our state of mind may be, we please Krishna by being absorbed in our seva. – Radhanath Swami
He brought the Vrajavasis. They cut down the bushes and there they found Gopal. Beautiful! He was Krishna in the form of Giridhari lifting the Govardhan hill. Madhavendra Puri made a throne out of the stones of Giriraj and put them on the top of the hill and had a beautiful abhishek. And following in the footsteps of Krishna, he had an incredible Annakut in which the whole village of Aniyor took all their surplus of foods and made mountains of Bhoga. It was an incredible festival with chanting, dancing, feasting, parikrama and when other Vrajavasi villages heard about that every day a different village came to do the Annakut for Giriraj. All those wonderful histories that have been worshiped in the hearts of Gaudiya Vaishnavas for over five centuries took place at Govinda kund.
Radhanath Swami explains places in and around Punchari of Govardhan
As we continue the parikrama, on the mountain of Sri Giriraj, there is a temple of Doka Dauji. It’s the temple of Balaram. We don’t go up because he is on the hill. But Doka Dauji is crouching down and he has appeared in a black complexion. The explanation is like this. One time when Sri Balaramji was roaming on Sri Giriraj, Krishna and gopis were near the Rasa-stali and Chandra-sarovar and were performing the rasa lila. And from Sri Govardhan Hill Balaram crouched down watching, and as he was seeing the beautiful form of his beloved brother Krishna playing his flute and reciprocating love with gopis and dancing, he was so intimately mesmerized with love, so absorbed in Krishna that his beautiful form which is white like a spring cloud became dark like a monsoon cloud in his absorption.
Then there is Apsaravana. Within Apsaravana there is Apsara kund. During the time of abhishek of Krishna, at the time of Indra Puja, Govardhan Puja, the apsaras were dancing here and they had their abhishek here. It is explained that at Apsara kund, the 24 principle incarnations or Avatars of Krishna are performing their pastimes forever on the banks of Apsara kund. Sometimes when Krishna would be with the gopis, he would manifest his past times as the avatars. One time, in front of the gopis he took a 12 armed form of Vishnu and then Subala manifested the form Garuda, and then Vishnu got on the back of Garuda and Subala started taking them around. The gopis were so much struck with wonder to see how sweet Krishna is, that he can do all these things but still they didn’t think he was God. For the gopas, when they would herd their cows around Govardhan hill on the banks of Apsara kund, Krishna would manifest his form of Varaha dev and lift up something representing the earth, and they would all be clapping. Another time he manifested his form of Ramchandra, the son of Dashratha, and the gopas were so excited that they all manifested form of monkeys and they all played together.
And during the Rasa lila of Sri Radha and Govinda at Govardhan, sometimes they are in ecstatic love, because you see rasa means the deep expressions of the mellows of loving exchange. On the spiritual level of Vrindavan all these loving exchanges have unlimited ways of expressing themselves and bodies of Krishna and gopis are spiritual. They can manifest in any way for the purpose of giving pleasure to each other. So here at Apsara kund, Krishna’s body would melt into a liquid ecstasy and it filled a kund called Navala kund, just beside Apsara kund. And bodies of Sri Radha and gopis, which are not different from their love, would melt in ecstasy and fill Apsara kund. Apsara kund is the liquid personified love of Sri Radha and gopis and Naval Kund is Krishna’s personified love for Sri Radha and gopis. And we have the chance to come to these places. We may not be able to understand it intellectually or logically but with faith in the inconceivable lila of love of vrindavan, we can bathe in that love. We could sprinkle that love. We could drink that love of Apsara and Navala kund.
A little further, that whole area is called Punchari, the far end of Sri Giriraj. Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur and other acharyas tell that Giriraj has taken the form like a peacock and Punchari is the tail. Many beautiful things are eternally taking place at Punchari. There is one temple, Puchari-ka-lota, with a really extra-ordinary form of a cowherd boy. His name is Lota. When Krishna and Balaram were leaving with Akrura from Vrindavan to Mathura, Lota had prepared bhoga to offer to Krishna.
He is a cowherd boy and he stopped Krishna on the way and said, “I have prepared bhoga for you. Please come and take.”
Krishna and Balaram cannot refuse the loving offerings of the devotees. So they said, “I will come back the day after tomorrow and honor of your bhoga.”
And Lota said, “I will stand here. I will not drink water; I will not eat food until you come to honor the bhoga.” And he stood; he has a little stick, still waiting. The amazing thing is this murti of Lota is quite a heavy weight for little cowherd boy. You have all seen. How is it? He is not eating for thousands of years or drinking. In the spirit of his humility, his patience, his faith, in separation from Krishna, he is being nourished with that prema. It reminds us of the story from Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat where Mukunda Datta was chastised by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “I don’t want to see his face.”
And Mukunda Datta was weeping and crying, “Will I ever be able to see Lord Chaitanya again? Will I ever be able to see you?”
And Srivas Thakur felt such compassion to Mukunda that he came to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and said, “Mukunda is weeping. He’s crying. He loves you. Whenever he chants the only names everyone’s hearts melt. What has he done? Please let him see.”
Mahaprabhu said, “I will not. I will not see him.”
Srivas said, “Well Mukunda is crying. Will he ever get to see you again?”
Mahaprabhu said, “After 10 million births!”
Mukunda heard that and he was so happy, “10 million births! Only 10 million births! I will get to see the Lord!” He was dancing and crying and celebrating in jubilation.
Lord Chaitanya was laughing. He said, “Bring him now!”
And they said, “Mahaprabhu wants to see you now.”
But he was so totally intoxicated in the trance of 10 million births only that he was like, ‘10 million births, I will, I will see!’
They said to Mukunda, “Come now!” They picked him up and they put him right in front of Lord Gauranga and Lord Chaitanya was very happy.
So this is a very important principle that Lota gopa and Mukunda are teaching us that the darshan of Krishna, love of Krishna is not cheap thing. Even if there is no taste, just the understanding of what the value is of what we have been given, even if chanting 16 rounds, 64 rounds, whatever it may be for many births, following regulative principles, performing seva, we should just be so happy that it will come. That is patience. That patience is an expression of humility. We are not demanding. We are not expecting according to our plan. Sharanagati means “Krishna I’m giving my heart to your plan,” ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam. Lota Baba is teaching us one of the most important principles to remain faithful, be enthusiastic and patient on the path of bhakti and through our prayers and through our sadhana and through our seva to cultivate the ecstasies of separation.
Just beyond that is Manikandali cave. It’s a cave where Sri Sri Radha Gopinath would perform their various lilas at Govardhan. It is also a place where Champaka Lata devi, one of the sakhis of Vraja bhumi Would perform her lilas of offering beautiful flowers and wonderful sevas to Radharani and Govindadev. And Raghav Pandit, that great associate of Lord Chaitanya lived in that cave.
Just beyond is Surabhi kund. We discussed the importance of this place on the day of Govardhan puja. It is where Indra, with all of his riches, opulence and powers humbled himself before a simple mother cow because she loved krishna, and her prayer opened the doors for Indra to receive Krishna’s mercy. Just as the Nagapatnis, whose prayers opened the doors for Kaliya to receive Krishna’s mercy, for us today Surabhi kund represents the place of forgiveness for all that we have done in this life. All that we have done in previous lives can all be forgiven, if we sincerely take shelter of the Lord’s dear devotees. Nityananda prabhu started his Namahatta at Surabhi Kunj in Navadvip. Bhaktivinod Thakur made his home near Surabhi Kunj in Navadvip.
This principle of compassion, of mercy, of seeking forgiveness and also giving forgiveness is a universal principle. When we forgive others then become receptive to be forgiven as well. – Radhanath Swami
Rudra kund, Mahadev Shankar, there are many wonderful places here in vrindavan that he precedes: Gopeshwar Mahadev, Kameshwar Mahadev, Bhuteshwar Mahadev, Chakaleshwar Mahadev, and Nandeshwar Mahadev. Rudra kund is a place that, Lord Shiva, seeing the beautiful past times of Radha Govinda Dev at Govardhan filled the kund with his tears. When the gopis would be in separation from Krishna, they would weep incessant tears of love at Rudra kund.
Then we have Jatipura, where Madhavendra Puri resided. He was a sanyasi, a jati. This is the place of the great Sanyasi Madhavendra Puri. And just at Jatipura, above is the place where the Gopal temple was built, his temple for Srinathji, Sri Gopalji. For those who are followers of Pushti Marg, we find the Mukharavinda, the face of Giriraj here, where there is constantly crowds of people pouring milk on Sri Giriraj. I remember when I first came there in 1971-72 and I saw dozens and dozens of people taking such nice milk and pouring it on the shila, huge quantities of milk. Just one person was standing in line with buckets of milk, just one after another after another. There were thousands of gallons of milk being poured on Sri Giriraj and it was just coming down on the ground, and in those days it would just go right into the gutter system. You know gutter? What is the Indian word for gutter? The side of the road where usually sewage flows, you know that place? Well, the milk was just flowing there and you know in the west gutters are not considered very sanitary places. But I saw vrajavasis getting down in their knees to the gutters. The gutters were flowing on the side of the road, flowing even half a block down, and they were drinking, sprinkling and giving it to their children. So what could you do except, go down and drink it? That’s Mukharavinda!
And just there is the samadhi mandir of Vitthalanath, the son of Sri Vallabhacharya, and the Paitha of Sri Vallabhacharya where he performed his sadhana and his bhajan.
Little further is Sakhi Stali, the place of Chandravali.
Radhanath Swami extols the glories of Udhava and gopis
And then we come to Uddhava kund. There this kund is dedicated to Sri Uddhava. In fact, he gave discourses at this kund. But we have spoken previously in our yatra how Udhava came to vrindavan because he was Krishna’s most intimate loving friend in Mathura and later into Dwaraka. Krishna wanted to give him the highest mercy. Krishna was with him all day long, every day. But the highest mercy was to send him to be with the gopis, so he could understand the extent of the ecstatic love of Vrindavan.
When Udhava came to Vrajabhumi, he met Nanda Maharaj and Yashoda Mayi, and they were always crying, “Have you seen Krishna? What is Krishna doing? When is he going to return home?”
“Look at Yashoda, she can’t eat, she can’t sleep, she’s crying for krishna! Tell him! When will he come home? And look at his friends, the sakhas and the gopis, everyone is drying up. When will Krishna return home?”
When Udhava saw Nanda maharaja’s love, such absorption in Krishna, such ecstasy in separation, Udhava was humbled. He said, “You are the most fortunate person!”
Nanda Maharaj chastised him, “What do you know about fortune? How can you say I am fortunate? I am like a poor man, for a poor man who attained the greatest treasure, a man in poverty who finally attains a great treasure doesn’t recognize the value of that treasure and neglects it, and then it is taken away. It’s lost! That person is the most unfortunate. Krishna, the supreme object of love was my son! He was with us everyday but I couldn’t really appreciate, and now I have lost him.” And Nanda Maharaj fell unconscious. He said, “You say I’m fortunate? I am most unfortunate!”
And Udhava realized, ‘He so fortunate I don’t even know how to talk to him!’ And then he met the gopas, and the gopas were in a trance. They were just roaming around the pastures, some of them were just looking toward Mathura, waiting. The only thing moving were there tears. Other gopas were playing the games they used to play with Krishna while weeping in separation, “Where is Gopal?”
And then he met gopis and Sri Radha. In Srimad Bhagavatam, it explains, she saw a bee and there was a beautiful bhramar geet where she is expressing her love to Krishna through the messenger of the bee, “Why doesn’t Krishna just let us die?” His Holiness GaurGovind Maharaj, quoting from the acharyas, expresses what Sri Radharani was saying in great detail. It was one of the outbursts of love because she was speaking to the bee, and to Udhava through the bee and to Krishna that, “I am like a little animal that is caught in a house that’s on fire and you want to escape the house because you are burning and burning and burning to death. But, there’s a lock on the door, there’s a latch that cannot be opened and therefore you can’t get out. And you are just praying, let me out, I am burning!” She said that, “My atma, my living force, is in this body and it’s burning unbearably from the fire of separation from Krishna, and I want to give this life but I can’t because Krishna put a bolt on the door. The bolt is his promise that he will return. When he left Vrindavan with Akrura, he promised I will return and that hope, that prayer, that dream of the fulfillment of his promise keeps us within burning house of this life.” She would cry so many tears at Udhava-kyari, near Nandagaon, that it would make a small lake around her. Can you imagine? And Udhava was watching. Then she would fall unconscious in such a fever of love that as soon as she fell in the lake, it immediately evaporated due to the heat of her body. And the other gopis would be fanning her and singing Krishna’s names to her.
When Udhava saw this, he prayed, “I don’t know anything about loving Krishna. I thought I did. Krishna sent me here because he wanted to show me what real love is. This is ecstasy, totally selfless love.” He wanted to take the dust of the feet of all of the gopas and the gopis and worship them, because he knew that without getting their blessings, without serving them with all humility, there is no way of getting this love. Rupa Goswami tells, “You can’t get this love by approaching Krishna directly, it’s only by following the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavan.” Udhava understood this. He prayed to relinquish his position as Krishna’s very best friend in Mathura, to relinquish his position of having a body which looked almost identical to Krishna, to relinquish the position of being one of the great and most important princes of the Yadu dynasty. He wanted to become a little shrub, a little grass blade at Govardhan, because this is where the loving pastimes of the gopas and the gopis and Gopinath are forever enacted. He thought that he can’t embarrass them by taking dust from their feet because he’s a prince and they are simple gopis. He didn’t want to make them ashamed. “Rather than that let me take birth as gulmalata, a little creeper, and then gopis, cows, calves, bulls, gopas, maybe someday, even Sri Radha or Krishna will step on my head and I will receive the dust of their feet; then this love of Vrindavan I could achieve.”
It is not that we just come to Vrindavan and get some mantra and think that we are gopis and gopas and all that stuff. This is the level; Udhava understood the value of that. When we actually have that humility and that spirit in our seva, then in that spirit we can chant the holy names,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
And then our hearts can be receptive to receive the bhava of Vrajabhumi, which can only come through grace. Udhava kund is a very holy place. He also brought Krishna’s beloved devotees there to discuss Krishna’s wonderful pastimes from the Srimad Bhagavat. And so we go there to meditate upon what would Udhava represents in the great literatures of our acharyas.
Radhanath Swami narrates the pastimes at Malyahara Kund and Shivakhora
Soon we come into the area of Sri Radha Kund. There is Malyahara kund. That is the wonderful little lake, kund where the story of the muktacharita by Sri Raghunath Das Goswami took place. Sri Radha and the gopis had some pearls and Krishna and his gopas came and asked for some pearls for his cow, hamsi, “We want you to give pearls for our cows,” but they didn’t give.
So Krishna asked Nanda and Yashoda, “Give me some pearls.”
They asked, “Why do want pearls?”
“Give me some pearls! I want to plant them in the ground because I have seen how you take seeds and it grows into beautiful bushes and plants and trees and then so many other seeds are grown. I want to plant some pearls.”
Nanda Maharaj said, “It doesn’t work like. That seeds are different. Pearls don’t grow, they are found in the ocean.”
Krishna said, “No! No, this is vrindavan.”
So he planted some pearls and soon they grew into wonderful trees, pearl trees and they were beautiful pearls of all different colors and the pearls had an ecstatic fragrance. Then he started putting these pearls on all his cows and all the gopas. He was putting magnificent pearl necklaces on every monkey in vrindavan. When the gopis asked for some of these pearls, he said, “No! I will not give.”
So they decided, “If Krishna could do this then we can do it.” So Sri Radha and gopis asked their parents, “Give us pearls, we want to plant them. We want to grow better pearls than Krishna.”
They said, “Pearls don’t grow.”
They said, “No! No! We have seen. They grow, they grow.”
So they took all their parent’s pearls and planted them in the ground and they wanted to make such nice pearls, they watered the ground with ghee from Surabhi cows, and butter and freshly churned padma gandha milk and yogurt and after some time, thorny bushes grew. Meanwhile the parents were saying, “Where are our pearls? Give us back our pearls?” So they didn’t know what to say and all the pearls were gone, all there was were thorns. So they asked Krishna and there is a beautiful painting of this lila, where there were Lalita, Vishakha negotiating with Krishna trying to get pearls. There was a beautiful dialogue between them of love, and Sri Radha is listening and ultimately Krishna makes a special box with his own hands, and puts most precious of all pearls in all of creation in these little boxes and personally writes the name of Sri Radha and each gopi and delivers them; and everyone is very happy. That is Muktacharita by Raghunath Das Goswami and that took place at Malyahara kund.
At Shivakhora, there is the famous story. There is a temple of Shiva who was a protector of Sri Radha kund, and there is also Kundeshwar Mahadev. These are Shiva temples in Govardhan and Radha Kund area. There was a little jackal, she was a girl jackal, and jackals are scavengers. Usually jackals eat dead corpses, so even among animals they are considered outcasts. If there is any system among animals, the jackals are of the lowest and their voices are really not sweet at all, whereas the roar of a lion has a majestic awesome experience. Yes? Everyone! This is aishwarya not madhurya (laughs). Lion! (Crowd starts making roaring noises) the actual lions, when they roar, one lion would be 10 times louder than all of you put together. (Maharaj makes a loud roar, and audience starts clapping) I have the microphone(laughs), and the cuckoo and the nightingale sing so sweet, but the jackal (crowd starts making noises like jackal), it’s just a horrible sound of the jackal, nothing musical, it’s just like kind of disgusting sound, unless you are a jackal (crowd laughs); and they are scrawny.
So these children, you know, they saw a little jackal and just wanted to have fun. They were boys; I don’t think girls do this kind of cruel fun, atleast I haven’t seen it. When I was a little boy in America, girls are like, learning cooking and singing song and dancing and playing, making dolls, happy and everything. And boys are beating up each other (laughs), torturing each other, and making each other cry. So anyways, these little boys were throwing rocks at this jackal and they were beating the jackal with sticks, and the jackal is (making crying noises) just screaming. The jackal was crying and trembling; they were beating and beating and beating and beating. And they just wouldn’t stop beating. The whole time they were beating, and to make it worse, they were laughing really loud because they were just having such fun seeing this jackal suffer. So the jackal found a hole in the ground and jumped in the hole in the ground; and the boys were really enlivened. They took wood, placed around the hole and they lit it. It was blazing and they knew that jackal would have to come out otherwise it would burn to death, and they were standing around the hole with sticks and stones ready beat it.
The jackal was crying helplessly from her heart and Sri Radha was walking by the area of Sri Radha kund. She told Lalita, “No one should suffer in my home like this! Bring her to me.” Lalita Sakhi was like the guru, she brings us to Sri Radha. Lalita sakhi chased the boys away which were like the three modes of material nature, and put out the fire, the “samsaradava nal lidha loka…” The jackal was so timid and so terrified that she just kind of peeked her head out of the hole, she was crying and trembling. Lalita sakhi picked her up and brought her to Sri Radha. Sri Radha put her hand on the head of the jackal and blessed her. The jackal put her head on Sri Radha’s lotus feet, and by Sri Radha’s blessing the jackal became one of her intimate associates, as her personal loving pet for the rest of eternity. That is Sri Radha’s grace.
When Sri Radha sees that we are sincere, she sends her devotees to come and help us to come to her. – Radhanath Swami
And like that jackal, from our hearts, with all humility, understanding the predicament we are in this material world, we have to learn to cry out the holy name –
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
Radhanath Swami explains the glories of Radha Kund and Shyam Kund
That area used to be a village named ‘Aritagram,’ it is there that Krishna liberated Arishtasura, asura that came in the form of a bull. He was huge, his hump was in the clouds, his tail was raised and it was above the clouds. He was like a mountain, he was galloping into Vrajabhumi. The force of his hooves were making the entire earth to shake, his massive razor pointed horns were faced down. His eyes were red, massive gigantic red eyes in anger, he was galloping. He was snorting and the air coming out of his nose was hot like fire. He was screaming terrifying roars and all the residents of Vrindavan were terrified.
He was coming so suddenly! You see, these asuras, when they came to vrindavan, it’s not like you know when a cyclone is coming, you know it’s going to come in two days; they come all of a sudden. (Maharaj makes loud noise of demon) Arishtasura is galloping in and nobody knows what to do. It is all just happening.
Krishna just stood right in front of Arishtasura and smiled (laughs). He was challenging Arishtasura in such a sweet way. The fact that Krishna was not afraid and he was just a little tiny boy, made Arishtasura even more furious. He galloped to Krishna with his horns down. Little Krishna took him with his little lotus hands by the horns and (Maharaj makes sound and action of throwing away) flipped him over and threw him. Arishtasura fell down some distance away and he got up even more angry and charged at Krishna again. Krishna took him by the horns again, flipped him over and with his lovely little lotus feet kicked him again and again. Aristasura was in a trauma being kicked by these tiny little soft lotus feet of Krishna, to him they were like thunderbolts – ye yatha mam prapadyante – to the gopis they are softer than flower petals, and to Yashoda Mayi, she’s worried that a pebble might touch his feet and hurt him. For Aristasura they were thunderbolts! The giant bull passed urine and stool simultaneously, blood came from his mouth, but because Krishna made him do it, it was actually beautiful (smiles). Can you imagine the volumes? (Laughs) But it was beautiful! And he died. The demigods showered flowers and the gopas were, “Well done! Well done krishna!”
When Krishna came to meet Sri Radha and gopis, they told him, “You killed the bull. That’s very impious. We will only come close to you after you purify yourself.”
Krishna said, “The bull was a demon! He would’ve killed everyone if I didn’t do that. I liberated him!”
She said, “Still, it was a bull. You should bathe in all the holy places in the universe.”
Krishna said, “I will bring them all here.” So he took his foot and he stomped his foot in the dust of vrindavan and made a footprint, and then he called all the holy places of the universe to come. They all came in personified forms and they were introducing themselves who they were, where they were from. They all filled the kund.
Krishna said to Sri Radha, “Why don’t you come and bathe in my kund?”
She said, “No No! We will make our own kund because in this kund you bathed and therefore the sins of the bull-hatya are here.” So then Sri Radha with her gopis, with their bangles dug a kund and then they were getting water from Manasi Ganga, passing it to one another with buckets. Sri Krishna, through his glance, he told the kunds, all of the holy places in the world to come and beg for Sri Radha’s mercy. So the personification of all holy places came with folded hands weeping tears before Sri Radharani, “Our greatest fortune, our greatest aspiration is if you bestow your mercy upon us and allow us to come and fill your bathing place. Please allow us to serve you in this way.” And for the pleasure of Krishna and out of mercy upon them she smiled, and the water of Shyama kund overflowed and filled Sri Radha kund. Krishna told Sri Radharani, “As you are most dear to me, your kund, Radha kund is most dear to me. As your love is the ultimate pleasure of my life, anyone who comes to Sri Radha kund with faith and devotion will receive your love and be so dear to me.” Radha kund is Sri Radha’s prayer or her love in liquid form; and the scriptures have proclaimed that it is the holiest of all holy places in all of creation.
When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to vrindavan, he was looking for it but nobody knew where it was. But when he was doing his Govardhan parikrama, at around that time he came to the village about Aritagram because he knew it was going to be there. He asked the villagers and nobody knew. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was sitting under a tamal tree – that place where he sat is still there today – sitting under that tamal tree, he was meditating and being Sri Sri Radha Govinda, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu looked out and saw two small puddles in a paddy field and knew for certain this is my beloved Shyama kund and Radha kund. In great ecstasy, not only for himself but for all people for all time to come who are devotees, he bathed in those puddles, he took the mud from those puddles and put tilak on 12 parts of his body. He ate articles in that mud. In a great ecstasy he was dancing around those puddles with his arms raised crying out the holy names –
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
The villagers were amazed. They all had heard about Radha kund, but they didn’t know that this was Radha kund and Shyama kund. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu later sent the six Goswami’s to Vrindavan. He gave them primarily the instructions:
• To extract the very essence of all the Vedas and expand them into transcendental literature, which authoritatively and with deep rasa establish unconditional, unmotivated loving devotional service of the residents of Vrindavan as the ultimate realization of spiritual perfection
• To discover the lost deities of vrindavan and build temples for them and establish the worship of Krishna and Sri Radha in those temples
• By their example to teach the world etiquette of a Vaishnav, the example of those in the renounced order of life, the example of Vaishnav totally absorbed in sadhana, bhajan and vaishnava compassion
• And also to rediscover the places of Krishna’s lila and excavate them, to establish vrindavan in such a way that the eternal dham is revealed to the people of the world.
When Raghunath Das Goswami was in Puri, he became so dear to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave him a little Govardhan Sheela which was his life and soul. It was always moistened by the tears of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s love. He wore on his heart. He pressed it to his head. He gave that sheela and Gunjamala to Raghunath Das Goswami and that became Raghunath’s life and soul.
When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Swarupa Damodar and others departed from their lila in this world, Raghunath Das Goswami came to Govardhan. His idea was to end his life in separation. But Rupa and Sanatana gave him a place to live at Radha kund, and prayed to him to stay with them. He lived alone there on the banks of these little ponds (laughs) Radha kund and Shyama kund; they would little grassy ponds! But he worshiped those holy places. He left the most elegant riches, power and fame in the world to live in these little muddy ponds because he understood and he was seeing the lila of Radha and Krishna over there.
It is described that one time when he was sitting on the pond of Sri Radha kund, Sanatana Goswami came to visit him and saw a tiger drinking water from Radha kund just a few feet away from Raghunath Das Goswami, and he saw Krishna manifest within this world with this stick standing between Raghunath and the tiger. He told Raghunath Das Goswami, “What happened?” Raghunath Das Goswami was very humbled. Another time Sanatan Goswami came and it was the middle of the day in the summer. The sun was burning and Sanatan saw Sri Radharani holding her shawl, a part of her cloth that she was wearing, over the head of Raghunath Das Goswami. She was standing in the sun directly while giving him shade. Sanatan Goswami told Raghunath Das that, “You’re sitting here so absorbed in chanting that you don’t even notice the sun. You don’t even notice the tigers. But Krishna and Radha are coming to protect you. We are here to serve them not to have them serve us. So you should make a bhajan kutir, a little house to live.” And on the order of Sanatana Goswami the first little bhajan kutir of Raghunath Das Goswami was made.
One day Raghunath Das Goswami was thinking, ‘Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted us to excavate these holy places Radha kund and Shyama kund, but they are just little muddy ponds. If only I could excavate them.’ But then he was thinking, ‘In order to excavate them I have to raise funds, which means I need a lot of money.’ And he already gave up all his money, so he just erased the idea from his mind. But Srimati Radharani heard his prayer. One very wealthy man went to Badrinath with a lot of money to offer that money to build a beautiful temple at Badrikashram and when he went before the murti of Badrivishal he had a dream and he was told, “No! Don’t put your money here. Go to vrajabhumi. Go to Sri Radha kund and give all your money to Raghunath Das Goswami for excavating that locality.” So that man came and gave all this money to Raghunath Das Goswami and Raghunath Das Goswami is the one who actually excavated Radha kund and Shyama kund. The design was two squares. But one day when they were actually doing the excavation of Shyama kund, the next morning they were going to cut down some trees but that night Yudhishtir Maharaj appeared to Raghunath Das Goswami and told him that myself and the Pandavas are standing as true then the banks of Shyama kund, do not cut us down. So that morning Raghunath Das came and told the excavators, “Don’t cut down any of these trees.” So they had to make the kund in such a shape, by Krishna and Radharani’s arrangement, to honor the trees.
Raghunath Das Goswami lived his life at Radha kund and Shyama kund. There are so many beautiful stories.
When Janhava Devi came to vrindavan, after Rupa and Sanatan and had already left the world, she was told about the condition of Raghunath Das Goswami in separation. She immediately, as soon as she heard it, that consort of Nityananda Prabhu came to Radha kund and there she met Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, Raghunath Das Goswami and gave so much of her mercy to them and received their blessings as well. And there one day Janhava Devi heard flute playing, a sweet flute, and she looked across the water and saw Gopinath under a tamal tree playing his flute. These beautiful stories are in the Bhaktaratnakar. That became Janhava Baithak, which was her sitting place, where she would do her bhajan. It was there on the banks of Radha kund that every day for three or four hours Raghunath Das Goswami would narrate the pastimes and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as no one else in the world knew. Swaroop Damodar Goswami had already left us but Raghunath Das Goswami had a diary, and he also would hear every day what Swaroop Damodar and Ramananda Rai were experiencing with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And he was the eyewitness of so much, Rupa and Sanatana said, “Please speak these lilas.” Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami came to Shyama kund and Radha kund when he was extremely old man, when he was in his 90s. The Goswami of Vrindavan asked him to write the Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita on exactly what he had heard from Sri Raghunath Das Goswami. On the banks of Sri Radha Kund and Shyama kund, Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, in his late 90s wrote Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita. Such a miracle!
On the banks of Sri Radha Kund and Shyama Kund, over the ages, there is the Baithak of Sri Madhavendra Puri. Also there is bhajan kutir of Sri Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur, where he wrote many of his wonderful Vaishnavas literature describing the deepest rasas and deepest philosophies of bhakti. Narottam Das Thakur, Shyamananda, Srinivas Acharya have spent time at Sri Radha kund. Baladev Vidyabhushan had his kutir at Sri Radha kund. Jiva Goswami had a kutir at Sri Radha kund. Gopal Bhatta Goswami, Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, they all performed their bhajan there. And Thakur Bhakti Vinod and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati had bhajan kutirs at Sri Radha kund.
It was on the banks of Radha kund where Srila Prabhupad received an instruction from his guru, because at that time in Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati’s math, they began very small and a little temple at Ulta junction road, just a rented little house. And later on, a very deeply purely devoted disciple spent his entire fortune to build the Bagh Bazaar Gaudiya Math. The movement was spreading and expanding incredibly all over India but there became conflict between devotees, leading devotees and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati was walking along with Srila Prabhupad – at that time Prabhupada had his little son with him – and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati said, “There is fire in the math. It would be better use if we took the value of the marble to print and publish books.” He told Srila Prabhupada, “If you ever get money, print and publish books.” This was the seed of the greatest distribution of Vaishnava Vedic literature in the history of the world, tens and tens and millions of vaishnava literatures, Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad Bhagvatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Ishopnishad, Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu and so on.
Navin Nirad prabhu, do you know how many books have been distributed to date? Navin nirad prabhu, a devoted minister of book distribution is telling us, “500 million of Srila Prabhupad’s books have been distributed!” (Crowd cheers with loud “hari bol”and clapping) The seed of that incredible miracle is Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati’s instruction to Prabhupad on the banks of Sri Radha kund. That little seed became such a tree and as of now 500 million fruits on that tree have been tasted by people of this world, and there will be many more for the future. It also reveals to us the faith in Srila Prabhupada’s heart and in the words of his Guru Maharaj.
When he went to Radha Damodar, actually even before when he was in his Grihasthashram, he was watering that seed through ‘Back to Godhead’ magazine. He would write all the articles, he would edit them, he would proof-read them, he would put them in type-setting, he would print them, publish them, he would pay for them, he would distribute them, would buy the paper for them (laughs softly) and later on at Radha Damodar he was writing the Srimad Bhagvatam. When the First Three Volumes comprising the First Canto were finished, he got the permission to go on Jaladuta. He had them in Calcutta. He was only for himself, carrying a little bag of cereal, little change of clothes, a bead-bag, and an umbrella. But he had these crates of books, Srimad Bhagvatam!
When he came off the Jaladuta, he didn’t see anyone with him. He had confidence! He didn’t know whether to turn right or left. He was just walking in New York, had no money, didn’t know anyone, and just had heart-attacks. But he was confident because he said, “I had complete faith in the instruction of my spiritual master. I had complete faith in the power of the holy name. And I had complete faith in the power of the Srimad Bhagvatam,” which he had with him, the greatest wealth.
Srila Prabhupad wanted to teach us the greatness of Sri Radha Kund. He told devotees, “Don’t bathe! Just sprinkle water.” According to time, place and circumstance that could be explained in different ways, but whether we take a bath or whether we sprinkle water the important thing we should understand is, we are going to get the reciprocation of Sri Radha’s grace according to our faith. When Prabhupada saw the devotees were just playfully swimming around the radha kund, he understood, this is not the way to approach the most sanctified holy place in all of creation. He said, “Reverentially put three drops on your head. That is your bath.”
What is the power of a fraction of one drop of radha kund? It’s unfathomable; it is inconceivable! We should have such faith, that just by seeing Radha kund, just by being touched by a breeze of Radha kund, just by touching the water, even a drop on our head is the ultimate blessing of Sri Radharani! We should be in such gratitude! We should be in such ecstasy understanding its value! – Radhanath Swami
Srila Prabhupad was expert. Sahajiya means taking things cheaply. He taught us how to approach in such a way that we really cultivate understanding of the true value and the real blessing; we have to be totally humbled to receive that blessing, whether we are bathing or putting a drop of water. Srila Prabhupad taught us what it really means to bathe in radha kund. Sri Giriraj Govardhan is one of the supreme gifts that Srila Prabhupad gave to us and has asked us to share it with the whole world.
I would like to introduce my dear Godbrother Bhakti Siddhanta prabhu. He has just compiled a magnificent book. I haven’t read it because he just gave it to me today (laughs) but the concept of the book is wonderful. It’s called ‘ACHARYA’ and he is an empowered artist. He’s done many wonderful sculptures and artwork for our movement, and he’s drawn lilas of Prabhupad, let us say prime aspects of Prabhupada’s life, pictures of Prabhupada’s life. There are no photographs, but he has just, through his love and devotion made beautiful drawings of lilas that Prabhupad has told, many intimate lilas, wonderful lilas, and he has explained and given these wonderful pictures. He is selling this book in the back our pandal. He has a book table. I sincerely encourage to whoever can to take the blessings of this book.
At this time before we have our last kirtan and Damodar Ashtakam, this final satsang of our yatra, I would just like to say that each and every one of you, by your sincerity, enthusiasm and your incredible devotion you have made this yatra something very special. I thank you for that. This yatra is not ending; it is bringing us into a new beginning. Srila Prabhupad invited devotees from all over the world to come to Sri Vrindavan Dham and Sri Mayapur Dham. He struggled a lot to build temples that would accommodate for people all over the world in Mayapur and in Vrindavan. At that time, there was no such thing. Srila Prabhupada’s idea was not that we just come and live, but to really appreciate the greatness of Krishna’s holy land, Srila Prabhupada’s home. He wanted us to come here to absorb ourselves in prayer, in seva in devotional service, in hari katha, in hari kirtan together as a spiritual family .In Vrindavan, Krishna’s lila is all one family. The Vrajavasi community is all a family. I gave an example the other day from one of our acharyas, of how when Krishna went into the Yamuna at Nanda Ghat, everyone was extremely devastated. When the gopas or the gopis or the cows or Yashoda or Nanda, when they were feeling separation from Krishna when he was in vrindavan, one moment of that separation was like 12 years or more, but still wherever he was, they were feeling he is in our house, because everyone’s house in vrindavan is everyone else’s house, everyone’s home is everyone’s home, because it’s a family. Everyone loves each other as a family. Everyone cares about each other’s children as they care for their own children. Everyone cares about each other’s parents care for their own parents; because Krishna is in the center. Srila Prabhupad wanted his society to be an international family, as small parts, and bigger parts. So we come to Vrindavan as a family. Following in the footsteps of the great souls we are going to these holy places, getting the blessings of the dust and the kunds and the trees of Sri Vrindavan dham, getting the blessings of the Vrajavasis and the cows and ultimately the blessings that are stored in every molecular particle of all of our previous acharyas and Sri Sri Radha Govindadev’s eternal lilas. That’s where we are, together, and Prabhupad brought us here to become spiritually surcharged, united in that spiritual blessing and then to carry the blessings of the holy dham back to our homes, wherever they may be in this world, with that inspiration and share with each other and with the world through the sankirtan of the holy names –
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
Srila Prabhupad ki jai!