Understanding Rasa-lila 4 – Radharani’s apparent pride expresses her selfless love
[Radhashtami Bhagavatam class at ISKCON, Denver, USA]
Transcribed by: Sadananda Prabhu
Understanding Rasa-lila 4 – Radharani’s apparent pride expresses her selfless love
On this extremely auspicious day of the appearance of Srimati Radharani, it is our fortune to have some opportunity to discuss some of her infinite glories. Radharani is the consort of Krishna and we have been discussing this pastime of Rasa Lila for the last few sessions, and here the pastime comes to a very dramatic stage. In this particular verse the various gopi’s are looking at the footmarks and they are observing and inferring something from that observation. The background is that Krishna called the gopi’s to perform pastimes with them. On that autumnal night seeing the beautiful flowers blossoming in the sky, and with the sky being given a reddish tinge by the rising moon, Krishna’s heart became filled with the desire to have loving pastimes with his devotees, and thus he played his flute. All the gopi’s left everything and came running towards Krishna thus demonstrating by their action the concluding verse of the Bhagavat-gita: “sarva dharman paritajya mam ekam sharanam vraja” The gopis gave up all their other dharmas and duties and just came running towards Krishna. Krishna tested theme by instructing, “You should not be here in the night like this. You have your duty at your home. Please go back.” And the gopi’s said, “Krishna! The purpose of all our duty is to ultimately devote ourselves to you. Now if we have come to your lotus feet how can we go back? Our whole heart, whole being and whole life is meant just for you Krishna.” And when they fervently express their resolve to offer their entire being to Krishna – even apparently against Krishna’s, then Krishna revealed his true will and welcomed them. Then they started performing the rasa lila where Krishna and the gopi’s started dancing together. Krishna expanded into many forms. With each gopi he was there, and as he was reciprocating love with each of the gopi’s, it is said that the gopi’s became proud, and as soon as they became proud, Krishna disappeared from there. The gopi’s became devastated and mad because they left everything for Krishna, and now Krishna had left them. They didn’t know what to do and they started running here and there and calling, but they couldn’t find Krishna anywhere. When they couldn’t find Krishna, they started calling out to all the creatures in Vrindavan asking them if they had seen Krishna. They asked the deer, the trees, the birds, tulasi etc. They were calling out, “Have you seen Krishna? Please tell us where is Krishna.” And when they were fervently calling out, they couldn’t see and nobody responded to them, and then as they were looking around they saw some footprints, and then they saw that actually there were not one but two sets of footprints over there. They saw that Krishna had gone with someone and there were many gopi’s over there thinking, “Who is this gopi with whom Krishna has gone?” So, as they were looking, at that time, they were following the footsteps, and as they were following the footsteps, they saw that Krishna and the other gopi, who was Radharani, were talking. In some places the footprints were deeper because they had paused to talk over there. In some places Krishna’s footprints had gone deeper inside. Probably he was picking up some flower from the tree to offer to his beloved. So, as they were observing this, they could see that there were very loving dealings between this gopi’s and Krishna. They thought, “Certainly this gopi must have worshipped Krishna very specially. That Lord Hari who is the supreme controller and who steals away everything, steals away our miseries and our attachments. But she is so attractive that she has stolen Hari away from us. The Lord who steals everything away from others has been stolen away. It may externally appear that for whom Govinda has given up everyone – and being pleased with her he has led her alone to a secluded place. This indicates a sense of very special affection. Krishna is the Lord of the life for the Vrajavasi and the gopi’s. He is the person for whom they have left everything. Normally if we have some very senior devotee or a sanyasi or guru who visits us, and if they spend time say giving a class, we feel grateful. But if they spend a lot of time with one particular person, we think, “What is going on here. Why are they spending so much time with this person? This person must be someone special. Maybe they have some special relationship or they have some special services over here. Something is happening. So, when we have a great respect for someone, then it is seen that we observe whatever they are doing with great attention. And here when Krishna leaves everyone to go with them. Now of course, it may happen that sometimes a devotee has a lot of trouble and that’s why the spiritual master may spend a lot of time with them. So, it is not like that a devotee is something special, but it this that the devotee has a special need at that time. Or sometimes a devotee may be taking a lot of responsibility for the spiritual master, and the spiritual master may spend a lot of time with the devotee because he is doing a lot of service. Prabhupada was once asked, “Do you love all your disciples equally?” and Prabhupada said, “Yes.” And then Prabhupada added, “But those who come forward to take up responsibility, I reciprocate.” Krishna says, samo ham sarva bhutesu na me dweso sthina Priya….” At one level God is equal, but God’s equality is not a passive stone like neutrality. That means that, if somebody praises or criticizes say this stand – the stand is neutral and insentient. Similarly, God’s equality is not like a stone-like neutrality. So, God is equal in the sense that he is equally reciprocal. Krishna’s equality is not in terms of neutrality; it is in terms of reciprocity. Reciprocity means, if somebody approaches him more and more, then Krishna reciprocates with them more and more. If somebody surrenders to him more and more, Krishna reciprocates more and more, and that’s why in Gita (9.29), in the same verse Krishna is talking about both these points, “Samo ham sarva bhutesu na me dweso sthi na priyaha, That all living beings are equal to me, I am not partial towards anyone and I am not biased against anyone.” but at the same time he says, ye bhajanti mam tu bhaktya; those who worship me with devotion – Krishna doesn’t say that they are dear to me. What he says is, they are inside me, mayi te tesu capiham, that I am within them and they are within me. So, this is a verse which talks about Krishna’s reciprocity. Here the gopi’s are not thinking, “Why has Krishna gone away only with this gopi?” they are thinking, “That means that this gopi must have done some special service. It is because of that special service that Krishna has gone away.” So, the remaining gopi’s are not thinking, “Krishna is partial. Why has Krishna abandoned us and gone away?” They are thinking that, “Actually the reciprocity of Krishna is what is highlighted in this verse. She must have worshipped Krishna in an exceptional way.” God is not partial, God doesn’t play favorites, God loves everyone and at the same time he reciprocates with everyone based on how they chose to receive his love.
The sun gives light to everyone, but if somebody choses to stay in a dark dungeon, they won’t get the light. If somebody comes out in the day, they can be fully illumined by the sun. So, Krishna’s love is like that. That love is showered on everyone, but if we are living in the dark dungeon of our attachments in our own misconceptions and biases, then we can’t see Krishna’s love. So, the more we reciprocate with Krishna, the more we experience his love. At this point the pastime which is described here in the Bhagavatam doesn’t contain the direct reference to Srimati Radharani. It is said “Anaya radhito; she must have worshipped in a very special way. That’s why she has been taken by Krishna.” The Guadia Vaisnava acharyas say this Radhito refers to Radharani. Now every book has a particular context and a purpose, and we have to see the content of the book in terms of the purpose. Now if you consider Srila Prabhuapda’s commentary on the Bhagavat-gita, Prabhupada wrote the Bhagavat-gita as a foundational book in which he would give basic human and spiritual values. And if you see in the whole Bhagavad-gita, Prabhupada refers to Radharani in only once, and that is in the beginning. When he is offering his obeisance’s, at that time, it is only in this prayer that Prabhupada refers to Radharani: tapta kanchana gaurangi radhe vrindavaneshwari vrishabhanu stute devi pranamami hari priye. If you search the whole Bhagavad-gita as it is, there is just this only one reference. Why? Because at that level in the Bhagavad-gita, Radharani’s mention is not required. Prabhupada is giving us the fundamentals of spiritual knowledge, and the relationship between Radha and Krishna is like the zenith of spiritual knowledge. Similarly, if we consider that the Bhagavatam is also spoken for a particular purpose, the Bhagavatam is spoken to help Parikshit Maharaja to become absorbed in Krishna. He just has seven days, and during that time Sukhadeva Goswami wants to speak Krishna lila so profusely, that by that he will get absorbed in Krishna. Now when there is a speaker and an audience, the absorption in Krishna happens not just when we speak about Krishna, but the speaking of Krishna is done in such a way that that speaking does not cause any distraction either for the audience of for the speaker. Now for the audience’s perspective, it is interesting that the whole Bhagavatam has ninety chapters on Krishna lila. On the tenth canto and in the Mahabharat there is the whole huge war described. But the Bhagavatam does not mention the war at all. In fact, while the Kurukshetra war was happening, the Bhagavatam’s narrative goes to how Balaram goes on a pilgrimage, and it follows Balaram. Then the Bhagavatam comes back again with Balaram coming back to Kurukshetra when the war is almost over and Bhima and Duryodhana are about to fight. Now, imagine if there is some newspaper, and say a war has broken out between America and North Korea, and that newspaper doesn’t mention anything about the war. It is describing some other story and we may wonder why? When the Bhagavatam (10th canto) is giving Krishna’s pastimes, then the Bhagavatam just keeps the Kurukshetra war in which although Krishna does not raise weapons, but he is still a very prominent presence. He guides all the times. So, what someone is not telling, he is also telling. Telling means revealing. When somebody doesn’t tell something, that means that there is some reason why it is not being told.
It is said in communication that the sequence in which we tell things, – a small difference may also convey the stress. If say, somebody is being recommended for initiation or some position in the temple authority or anywhere, and if somebody wants to appreciate, encourage and support that person say, then they would say, “Yes, he had problems earlier but he is stable now.” But if somebody wants to disapprove that person’s candidature, they would say, “He is stable now but he had problems earlier.” So, the content of the statement is the same but the way it is stated gives a completely different emphasis. In the first case we think, “The problems are in the past. Don’t worry about the past.” In the second we think, “Ok, the present is good but just don’t go on the present. Look at the past also.” That means what when somebody is telling, how they are telling determines what is their intent. Similarly, here in the Bhagavatam when Sukhadev does not speak about the Kurukshetra war, there is a reason. It is in that Kurukshetra war that Parikshit Maharaj’s father was brutally slaughtered, and Parishit never got to even see his father. He died when Parikshit was still in his mother’s womb, and that memory might distract Pariskshit from focusing on Krishna. Although Krishna is there very much, but for him there is also that memory of the loss of his father. The tenth canto is coming probably in the fourth or fifth day. So, Sukhadev Goswami doesn’t want to distract Parikshit Maharaj from the focus on Krishna and thus he just bypasses that. The war was fought ultimately to gain a kingdom. Parikshit Maharaja lost the kingdom and his focus in now on renouncing the world and focusing on transcendence. Therefore, while the war is going on Sukhadev Goswami narrates Balaram’s renunciation. While the war is going on Balaram is not at all concerned. He just goes on a pilgrimage; he is absorbed in the supreme and transcendence. Here that is what will inspire Parishit Maharaja to stay absorbed in transcendence.
Sometimes some audience may have some sore spots. Somethings may just trigger some negative memories in their mind. Then best is if the speak those things so that the audience doesn’t get distracted from Krishna. Similarly, the speaker may have somethings which may distract. Then the speaker should be careful not to speak that because the speaker may distracted and not be able to focus on delivering the message. There are times when Prabhupada would go deep in ecstasy. Once a disciple asked Prabhupada about… Yadurani Mataji asked Prabhuapada about, Please tell us about the goswamis love for Krishna, and how the goswamis felt separation from Krishna. And Prabhupada quoted, “hey radhe devike cha lalite he nananda suna kutaha…” he quoted the sada goswami asthakam and he quoted the goswami’s feelings of separation, started explaining it and Prabhupada became completely silent. Hayagriva prabhu describes this in his book, “The silence was deafening.” Normally we can say a sound to be deafening, but the silence was such that the devotees actually felt that Prabhupada had gone to some other level of reality. Only his body is here and he is relishing some pastime somewhere else. So, there are times when Prabhupada did that. Tusta Prabhu was telling me that once when Prabhupada was speaking on a Radhaasthami, he speaks about Radharani’s selflessness. He says, “She is so selfless.” And saying that Prabhupada became silent. He just can’t speak. He was so overwhelmed by emotions. Prabhupada was certainly very absorbed in Krishna and he could have stayed in trance. He could have just been speaking about exalted esoteric topics and he would have gone into trance. But if Prabhupada’s purpose was just to go to devotional trance, then Prabhupada didn’t even have to leave Vrindavana and come to the West. Prabhupada’s purpose in coming to the West was to help people rise towards Krishna, and for helping them to rise towards Krishna, he spoke according to their level, and although he could have spoken about the exalted pastimes of Radharani, that was not what was needed for people at that time. So, he did not speak about those. So, the speaking has to be done in such a way that it is service to the audience. Although the speaker may sit in a higher post, but that is simply as a matter of atticate. the point is, the speaker is also the servant of the audience. So, the speaker should avoid that which will distract the speaker from Krishna, from speaking the message of Krishna and for Sukhadev Goswami that speaking about Radharani would have been a distraction. The Gaudia Vaisnava acharya’s explain that Sukhadev Goswami has a very intimate relationship with Radharani. He is actually the parrot of Srimati Radhrani in the spiritual world; that word Suka itself means the parrot. The first verse of the Bhagavatam says, “Sukha mukhad amrita dravya samyutam – this nectar of the pastime of Krishna that has been sweetened further because it has been touched, it has been delivered through the mouth of Sukhadev Goswami. Because he has such an intimate relationship with Krishna, and especially with Radharani, if he speaks about Radharani, he will go into such ecstasy that he will not be able to speak anymore, and he will go into a trance of ecstasy going to some other level of reality and will not be able to do this required service of helping Parikshit Maharaj remember Krishna. For doing that service he scrupulously avoids speaking about Radharani even when in this pastime it is mentioned clearly that Krishna left all the other gopis and went with one gopi. He just keeps that gopi anonymous. He doesn’t identify that gopi specifically because that would have overwhelmed him with ecstasy, and that ecstasy would have prevented him from speaking. In the nectar of devotion it is described how Krishna’s servants: Raktak and Titrak are fanning Krishna. While fanning Krishna they are beholding the beautiful form of Krishna, and Krishna’s beauty is so captivating that they feel tears of joy coming out just on beholding the beauty of Krishna. But then they start wishing, “Let this tears just go away.” Why? Because the tears obstruct and prevent them from seeing properly where Krishna is sweating and where they should fan him. So, they want their tears to go away. So, the defining relationship of the devotee is service to Krishna. If the service produces ecstasy, then the devotee is happy with that ecstasy, but if the ecstasy distracts the devotee from the service, then the devotee says, “I don’t want this ecstasy. I simply want service to Krishna.” That service attitude which Sukadeva Goswami has, because of that, he does not mention Radharani. However, the Gaudia Vaisnava achayas has given elaborate references to other books – the Brahma Vaivart Purana, the Brahma Purana, the Padma Purana, they all talk about Radharani. And if we consider the Bhagavatam to be like a set of concentric circles, and suppose if you see a map of the world, we say, “where exactly is Vrindavan ?” So, on the map what you do is you just search for Vrindavan and Vrindavan appears over there. And then you zoom it. Now when you see Vrindavan you may see India, Asia, Euresia. You can see that Vrindavan located in various places, but as we zoom in we will see that it will become bigger. So, we could say that the Bhagavatam is like as series of concentric circles which is talking about Krishna, it is talking about basically how to remember the absolute and it gives various manifestations of the absolute throughout its twelve canto’s, but then is zero’s on Krishna, and then it goes further and it zero’s in not only on Krishna, but it zero’s in on Vrindavan. And then, when it zero’s in further, it zooms in further on Krishna in Vrindavana relating with the gopi’s. So, this rasapanchadhya – this five chapters of the rasa lial – chapters 29-33 are considered to be the heart of the Bhagavattam, and now from the big perspective if we zoom in, initially that Vrndavan might just seem like one small spot on the map, and as we zoom in, then we might, if we zoom in adequately we will se that that one spot will zoom out. Then we see a whole map of Vrindavan with hundreds of details in it. So, what appears to be one spot will be revealed to be having hundreds and thousands of places within it. Similarly, the Bhagavatam describes Krishna’s rasa lila and madhurya lila basically in some chapters. The Guadia Vaisnava Acharya’s zoomed in on it and then under their vision this whole pastime zooms out. That means that it is expanded, it is enhanced, it is enriched, it is embellished and it is revealed in far greater details. So, in the Ananda Vrindavana champu which is a book written by Kavi Karnapur which describes Krishna’s pastimes especially in Vrindavana. So, this particular lila is described in great details, and there Kavi Karnapur revels the heart of the gopi’s, and he reveals the heart even of Radharani. So, this is like zooming in to tell us may more details. So, he says that the gopi’s are the topmost devotees of Krishna. They cannot become proud in a mundane sense in which we become proud. Even if they appear to be proud, everything that they do is for the service of Krishna. The Bhagavatam in the seventh canto says that there are different ways in which one may approach the Lord, and it says over there that the gopi’s approach Krishna with a desire or kama. Kamsa approached him with bhaya; Sisupal who was the king of the Chedi kingdom approached him with dwesh or envy, and he says that in all these ways they fix their mind on Krishna, and that’s how they got liberated. So, the important thing is not why but how. It is not the particular motivation. The important thing is that somehow or the other if you fix the mind on Krishna, that will lead to purification. Now the Gaudia Vaisnava acharyas explain that among the many gopi’s in Vrindavan there were some gopi’s who were not yet completely purified. They were young girls and they were attracted to Krishna in the young girl may be attracted to a young boy, but by being attracted to Krishna, whatever material contaminations were there in their hearts got purified, and then they attained Krishna. The gopi’s are at such an exalted level of devotion that they have no attraction; that every aspect of their being is for the pleasure of Krishna, and thus even their apparent pride is also for the pleasure of Krishna. How is this? When all the gopi’s are dancing with Krishna, at that time the gopi’s start thinking, “Actually from among all of us Radha’s love is unparalleled, Radha’s love has no parallel anywhere in the world. For the gopi’s she is not Radharani. Prabhupada uses a very respectful honor in effect to Radharani. He calls her, Srimati Radharani. For them, they see them as their sakhi, Radha. So, Radha’s love has no parallel, and yet when it is dancing with all of us, it will appear as if all of us are equally devoted to Krishna. But the gopi’s want Radharani’s love to celebrated and recognized and to be seen as a distinctively greater than the love of any other gopi for Krishna. Therefore, the gopi’s act as if they are proud. The first verse in this section is, yogmaya upasritaha, that the gopis took shelter – that everybody in this pastime is taking shelter of yogamaya. Yogamaya orchestrates everyone to act in a way that enables to participate in Krishna’s pastime in a way that will bring maximum joy and intensification of love between Krishna and the gopi’s. So, the gopis act as if they are proud so that – they know, “If we act as if we are proud Krishna will leave us, and then Krishna will go with Radharani.” In that way Radharani’s supreme devotion will be acknowledge by the whole world. So, the gopi’s pride is also for the service of Krishna. They are proud, but they are not proud in the sense that they forget Krishna and Krishna’s position. They are proud for the service of Krishna, and then when Radharani sees that Krishna is only with her, Krishna has come away with me and has left everyone else, at one level she feels great joy thinking, “Oh Krishna loves me so much, Krishna has give me the special time, Krishna has given me the special association.” The gopi’s in the gopi gita will later say, “Krishna, the sweet words that you spoke to us in privacy with us, they have touched our hearts so much.” Radharani at one level feels joy thinking how much Krishna loves her, but then immediately her emotion changes into dismay. She says, “How can I be happy when all the gopi’s will be distressed. In fact, they will be devastated. If Krishna has left them – Krishna is my life, but he is their life also. If Krishna leaves them, then they will be unbearably agonized, they will be afflicted with unbearable pain. How can I be happy in such a situation, and as Krishna is taking Radharani deeper into the forest, she starts thinking, “What should I do? I don’t want Krishna, I don’t want to enjoy Krishna alone. I want Krishna to be there with the other gopi’s also. Therefore, Radhani thinks and comes with the strategy, and she says to Krishna. She starts slowing down. She says, “Krishna, please give this flower to me. Krishna I want that fruit. Krishna, this tree is so nice. Just look at this.” She just slows down Krishna. She knows that the gopis will be searching for them and if Krishna walks very fast they will go so deep into the forest that they will not find them. But if they keep waiting, then the gopis will spot our footprints and then they will come. At a particular point Radharani says, I want this flower. And she tries to reach out to the flower and Radharani cannot reach out and Krishna tries to reach but even he is not able to reach. When Krishna is about to jump, he still can’t reach, and Krishna tells Radharani, “I want this flower.” Now her insistence is actually not because of any feminine attachment, it is actually out of a desire to serve the other gopi’s. “I want this flower. Because I am getting that flower that is high up, what is going to happen? Their movement forward is slowed down, and when they jump up and down to reach the flower, that’s also going to create deep footprints. So, the other gopis are like investigators, “where has Krishna disappeared?” The mystery of the missing treasure, the mystery of the missing boy, the mystery of the missing person. So, now you need some trail, some clues. So, Radharani is ensuring that as many clues as possible are left. When finally, nor Krishna or Radharani are able to reach, but I want this flower, then Krishna tells Radharani, Ok, I will lift you up. And then Krishna picks up and lifts Radharani up, and then he lifts her high up, and then she reaches the flower, and then they get the flower. Now as he lifts her up, what happens? There Krishna’s footprints get deeply imprinted, and the gopis are following the same. They can actually infer, here is only set of footprints, this is so deep, they immediately understand, Ok, this means that this gopi must have plucked a flower from here and then they keep following forwards, and then finally Radharani is happy to be with Krishna, but she is still just concerned about her sakhi’s, and thus she decides that the would now just stop. And then she tells Krishna, “Krishna, I am tired now. I can’t walk anymore.” Her purpose in saying that, she wants to say, “Let’s wait over here.” And at this point Krishna suddenly becomes angry. Everything here is done so that there can be greater intensification of the love. So, Krishna apparently becomes angry and he says in a very angry voice to her. He says, Because this is forest I cannot get a palanquin for you, now that you are tired. So, therefore you sit on my back and I will carry you. Now as Radharani is surprised – suppose you are having a normal conversation with someone and we speak something and suddenly the other person speaks something in a very angry tone, we would say, “What happened, what made you angry like this?” So, both Krishna’s tone and his speech – and Krishna is saying, now you sit on me and I will carry you. There is a certain sarcasm in it. She is alarmed. She looks at Krishna and to her horror Krishna has disappeared. Krishna becomes angry with her and just disappears from there, and Radharani begins to cry, Krishna, Krishna, where are you? Krishna starts searching here and there but she can’t see Krishna anywhere, and by this time they come deep into the forest. So deep that you can’t even see things clearly. The trees are so tall and so close by that although the autumnal moon is full and bright, still the autumnal moon’s light is only streaming in in small rays. She is all alone in this deep, dark forest, and the darkness outside is not as disturbing as the darkness inside, and she feels, Ok, I have made Krishna unhappy, I have made Krishna angry and Krishna has left me. That though plunges her heart into such darkness and despair that she just can’t bear it, and she starts calling out to Krishna, “Krishna please come. I can’t live without you.” At this point Kavi Karnapur depicts a conversation between Krishna and Radharani. This is a conversation which is not literal but is envisioned by Radharani. Suppose we know someone very well, then if we are going to make a particular request to someone, “Let’s do this.” And if we know them very well, if we know how they think, then we can also make out how they are going to respond. They are going to say no to this because of this, this and this. Then we anticipate, and then we prepare how we will answer this question – “If they raise this objection I will answer this question in this way.” Similarly, here she envisions a conversation. She is begging Krishna to come back and Krishna is responding to her. She says, “Krishna! Please don’t leave me and go away like this. I have left everything for you.” Krishna has still the same grave voice with which he had spoken the last words when he disappears, “You left everything but you left everything not for me but for your own pride. You are so proud. That’s why I left you.” She said, “Krishna! No, I was not proud. I just wanted the other gopi’s to catch up with us.” Krishna says, “But I wanted to be with you. I wanted to go deep into the ocean, but you interfered with my plan and didn’t cooperate.” Radharani says, “Krishna, I am sorry. The gopi’s will be so much distressed. I was just concerned about them.” Krishna says, “I am not pleased by such contrary behavior. I wanted you to be with me. Why are you not cooperating?” She says, “Please Krishna, come back, I am sorry, I will not do this again.” Krishna says, “You lost your chance, you have displeased me, I will not come back.” She says, “Krishna! Without you I will not be able to live. I am in such unbearable agony. The fire of separation is burning me from within.” Krishna says, “The other gopi’s are also experiencing separation from me and nothing has happened to them.” Then Radharani says, “No, Krishna, at least they have each other. I am all alone.” Meanwhile as this gopi’s are trying to search for Krishna, they are also performing pastimes of Krishna. Some of them is performing the pastime of Krishna lifting Govardhan, some of them is performing the pastime of Krishna killing Putana, and like that, by enacting the pastimes of Krishna, they are remembering Krishna. Now Radharani says, “Without them I am all alone. I have no one to share my heart with. Please come back.” But Krishna answered again by a deafening silence, and when this deafening silence was there, Radharani was unable to bear the pain and she faints. She swoons and falls in the forest like a fallen goddess; completely unconscious. Kavi Karnapur describes that, actually at that time Radharani was the goddess of unconsciousness or Goddess of sleep or Nidra Devi or Murcha Devi. At that time for Radharani to bear the pain of separation from Krishna was unbearable. She could not have survived that pain, and in order to ensure her survival, unconsciousness and came rescued her from that pain. Normally, when do people fall unconscious? Say if physically somebody is very wounded because of getting hit on the head by someone; sometimes they get unconscious. Now falling unconscious is a survival mechanism of the body. When the pain at the physical level is extremely high and unbearable, then the body switches off from the pain by becoming unconscious. Sometimes this can happen because of physical pain that we may switch off and become unconscious, and sometimes it may happen because of emotional pain also. We may see in the movies that somebody may get some bad news. When they get the bad news, they immediately get a heart attack and they faint. They faint because that is the body’s way of avoiding the experience of pain. Similarly, Radharani just can’t bear the separation from Krishna and she just switches off at that time, and she falls unconscious, and all the gopis are searching for Radharani. Primarily they are looking for Krishna. Initially the are feeling a little annoyed, “Why has Krishna left all of us and is only with this gopi?” Of course, at one level they want Radharani’s love to be glorified, but another level they are also bereaved because of that. Finally, when they come and see Radharani sprawled in the ground unconscious, she immediately rushes up to her and they call up, “Wake up, wake up.” But she doesn’t wake up. She is completely unconscious then. Then the gopis rush to a nearby pond, get some water and sprinkle on her, and then Radharani opens her eyes. The first thing that she says is, “Krishna, where are you O Krishna.” And the gopi’s have already realized that Krishna must have left her and that’s why she has fallen unconscious. So, they ask her what happened, and then she tells what has happened and how Krishna has left her, and all the gopi’s together pick up Radharani, and although Radharani is very distressed, she is also determined to find Krishna. And then she gets up and they all start searching again, and they go deeper and deeper into the forest. No matter how deep they go, they are just not able to find Krishna, and finally they realize that this way of searching is not the way to find Krishna. They again come back out of the forest to the banks of Yamuna, and on the banks of the Yumuna they are assembled and they sit down over there. They have been walking for a long time searching for Krishna. Before that they have been dancing and now they are exhausted. So, they sit down in a circle just like in the Rasa dance there a circle was there. Now they form a circle and in the middle of the circle they put a shawl for Krishna, and they all call out to Krishna begging him to come, and their calling to Krishna is described in the next chapter. That is the Gopi Geeta – the song that the gopi’s sing in separation from Krishna, and it is in response to that call that Krishna appears, and then Krishna performs the Rasa Lila with the gopi’s.
Srila Prabhupada describes this in the tenth canto which is actually a very exalted topic. He made it available for us in the Krishna book, and in the Krishna book he gives this five chapters which are very confidential. At one level Prabhupada said that these pastimes are so high that we have to be very careful; but at another level he gave these pastimes in the Krishna book, and he wanted the Krishna book not just for devotees to read and relish, but he also wanted it for street distribution. So, the point of Prabhupada was not that he wanted us to stay deprived of the tenth canto. He didn’t want us to be deprived of even the Madhurya lila pastimes of Krishna or of Radharani’s glories. But he wanted us to have the proper reverential attitude and the philosophical understanding by which we would be able to appreciate these pastimes. And that is essentially the mood of service. So, we understand that when Radharani becomes proud, her pride is out of her selfless mood of service. That selfless mood of service is what is reflected when she wants Krishna to stop, and when she tries to slow Krishna down. And when she is with Krishna, she is not just concerned about herself and her pastimes with Krishna, but she is also concerned about all the other gopi’s, and she wants all of them also to relish Krishna’s association and love as well. Similar was the mood of Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada was living happily in Vrindavan and he could have retired there. When the owner of the temple where Prabhupada was staying was interviewed by devotees, he said, “I am very surprised to see Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada when he came to Vrindavan because most people when they come to Vrindavan stay in Vrindavan, but Bhaktivedanta Swami seemed to have a lot of work. He will come to Vrindavan and again go.” Generally, in Vrindavan, the Vrajavasis think that if somebody comes to Vrindavan and keeps going and coming, then this person is very attached. They think that one should come to Vrindavan and live there without going out anymore so that one can leave his body in Vrindavana.
Prabhupada was by that time past 65 years. He came to Vrindavan and yet he was leaving because he was writing the back to Godhead magazine and was distributing it in Mumbai and in Delhi. That is the reason why he was coming and going. Eventually Prabhupada left Vrindavan to come to America. However, it is just an external vision to say that Prabhupadsa left Vrindavan. The internal vision will tell us that Prabhupada did not leave Vrindavan but he took Vrindavan with him. “We may take the pure devotee out of the dham but we cannot take the dham out of the pure devotee.” Dham resides in the heart of the pure devotee because Krishna resides there, and the mood of service to Krishna resides over there. And later Prabhupada created replicas of Vrindavan which showed the mood of service to Krishna. This he replicated in temples all over the world. And in the Caitanya Caritamrita wherein there are many pastimes, there are many places where Caitanya Mahaprabhu is in ecstasy of separation from Krishna and calling out for Krishna. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is in the mood of Srimati Radharani, and at that time Prabhupada in his purports – Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the mood of Radharani said, “When will I find Krishna?” – and Prabhupada is saying in his purport that the way to enter into the Radha bhava or the way to enter into the mood of Radharani’s ecstatic love for Krishna is by sharing Krishna conscious all over the world. The same Krishna and the same Radharani – the divine couple have come as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu; and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu came at one level to relish Radharani’s love for Krishna. But at another level he came to distribute that love to everyone; and Srila Prabhupada took Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s prediction and his prophecy that the holy name of Krishna be chanted in every town and village. “Prithivite aache jata nagara aadi gram, sarvatra prachar hoibe mora nam.” Prabhupada took that prophecy as his responsibility.
When Prabhupada left Vrindavan in his old age to go to America he didn’t have any money or association. There was physical and spiritual danger. Physically he did not have money or any contacts. He also did not have any institutional support. Emotionally he was completely alone in this world and there was no one to encourage him also. Some of his godbrothers encouraged him but most of them didn’t appreciate his going along to America. Spiritually – the Western world is filled with so many temptations, but still Prabhupada went there. So, in a sense there are traditional taboos that a sanyasi should not travel across the ocean. The point of that taboo is to protect the sanyasis; because if we consider the Western world, there is more and more materialism and it will not be possible for a sanyasi to maintain renunciation. But Prabhupada neglected all this. So, Prabhupada’s stepped on the Jaladuta when he was alone without any money to come to America; that is actually Prabhupada’s manifesting the mood of the gopi’s. Like the gopi’s left everything for Krishna, similarly, Prabhupada left everything for Krishna. The Gopi’s left their homes, their security and their everything just to go to answer Krishna’s call and to serve him. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada too left everything. Materially and spiritually he left everything to carry on Krishna’s mission and fulfill Lord Caitanya’s prophesy. That mood of selfless service and that mood of dedication that Srila Prabhupada showed embodies the mood of the Vrajavasis and the gopi’s.
Later on, Krishna became so indebted to the gopi’s that Krishna said, you have left everything for me but I have nothing to offer you. The service you have done to me is such that even in the whole lifetime of Brahma I cannot repay the service. Therefore, you just be satisfied with the extraordinary service that I can repay you with. Similarly, when Prabhupada left everything for Krishna – we can’t even actually imagine how much he must have pleased Krishna and how dear he must have become to Krishna. Krishna says that those who share this message of love with the world, there is no one as dear to him as them. “There is no one as dear to me now and there will be no one as dear to me in the future also.” That is his declaration. So, Radharani’s love for Krishna is a very exalted subject, but the way to enter that is by cultivating a service attitude. Whatever service we are doing, we just do that in a mood of selfless service to Krishna, “How can I please Krishna in this situation, how can I contribute to Krishna’s mission, how can I help others to come close to Krishna?” Bhakti is not an isolated activity. It is not just about our being connected with Krishna alone. But bhakti is an integrated activity wherein we connect with Krishna by connecting with those who are connected with Krishna; and by connecting others with Krishna. So, just as the gopi’s are thinking of each other even when they are with Krishna, Radharani when she is with Krishna also is thinking of the other gopi’s. That is how association is important for us. Even in the highest pastime of intimate contact with Krishna the value of serving Krishna with others is demonstrated. Similarly, for us, if we strive to serve Krishna or strive to connect with those who are serving him, or strive to connect with others who can serve Krishna so that they can serve him, then by that we all can enter into this mood of affection and intense love for Krishna that is demonstrated by Srimati Radharani. Srimati Radharani’s sublime love for Krishna is such that she is ready to give up everything for Krishna, and then she is ready to give up Krishna for the sake of others so that they can have Krishna. Of course, she never gives up Krishna. Even when Krishna goes away externally, Krishna goes deeper in her heart and therein he relishes Krishna’s presence even more. In the Padyavali there is beautiful verse where Radharani says, “Krishna, I prefer separation from you to union with you, because when I get united with you I can see you only in only one place, but when I am separated from you I can see you everywhere.” Radharani is always with Krishna even when she is separated from Krishna, and similarly, Prabhupada was always with Krishna even when he was far away from Krishna’s abode of Vrindavan. And if we are just striving to serve Krishna and Srila Prabhupda, and try to connect ourselves and others with Krishna, then Krishna is not far away from us, but he is very close to us. In fact Krishna is in our own hearts. How far is Krishna for us? Krishna is just one thought away from us. If we think about Krishna, Krishna’s presence starts manifesting in our heart. We start experiencing Krishna when we chant his holy names, hear or remember his pastimes, or we sing his glories. One thought of Krishna is all that is required as a bridge between ourselves and Krishna. At one level the material and the spiritual world are very far away, but at another level Krishna is in our own heart. The Lord of the spiritual world is in our heart and by praying to Srimati Radharani for her mercy by which – just as she is always lost in the thoughts of Krishna, we may also get some devotion and attraction for Krishna, and thus we may also become absorbed in Krishna; that is the mercy that we can pray to Srimati Radharani, “Please give us a drop of devotion by which we can become absorbed in Krishna and by which our thoughts can bridge the distance between us and Krishna; and thus we can always live in Krishna and ultimately we will attain Krishna.”
I will summarize:
I spoke about Srimati Radharani’s appearance day. Today I started by speaking how in this particular verse the gopi’s are inferring that they must specially be loving Krishna. I talked about how Krishna is not neutral. Krishna is equal but equality is not neutrality; it is reciprocity. Those who approach him with greater devotion, he reciprocates with them by revealing himself to them. So, God doesn’t play favorites but still he has his favorites. Radharani is his favorite gopi. In this pastime the gopi’s are recognizing his reciprocity. “Why has Krishna gone away with this gopi?” Because she must love Krishna specially. She must have served and worshipped Krishna specially.” Then I talked about how the pastime unfolds when the gopis are dancing with Krishna. At an external level they become proud when Krishna disappears but at an internal level they want the world to know that Radharani’s love is unparalleled; and that’s why they act as if they are proud so that Krishna will go away from them and will meet Radharani alone. And Radharani at one level is happy to be alone with Krishna but then she was also concerned about the other gopi’s. That’s why she was trying to slow down Krishna by various ways, but then, eventually when she says, I can’t walk any further.” Krishna leaves her and she is devastated. So, Krishna again acts as if Radharani is proud but Radharani is not proud. Actually she is selflessly concerned about the other gopi’s, and when the gopi’s and Radharani call out to Krishna on the banks of Yamuna, finally Krishna reappears not by their searching but by their calling. And then Krishna performs the rasa lila with the gopi’s. So, I talked about how the Bhagavatam does not mention Radharani’s name because Sukhadev Goswami is in the mood of – although he is a speaker but he is the mood of a servant and he avoids that which will distract him from the service: of speaking about Krishna. So, he avoids speaking about the Kurukshetra war because that might trigger negative memories in Parikshit Maharaja’s mind of the slaughter of his father; and he instead describes not how his grandfathers fought to get his kingdom, but rather he describes how Balram remained indifferent to the kingdom and went on a pilgrimage so that in that way he can fix Parikshit Maharaj’s mind on Krishna. Similarly, he does not speak about Radharani because he is the parrot of Radharani and he will get distracted by speaking about Radharani. If he speaks about Radharani he will go to trance and will not be able to speak. So, what someone is not telling, he is telling and revealing, and this reveals Sukdhadev Goswami’s mood of selfless service to Krishna. And Prabhupada also manifested this mood of selfless service. Although he could have spoken exalted topics which could have taken him to great levels of ecstasy, he did not do that. But that was not a normal mood because his mood was not just to exhibit his own ecstasy or even to experience his own ecstasy. His mood was how he could help people to come closer to Krishna. So, we see that a devotee’s relationship with Krishna is centered on service. If the service produces ecstasy it is wonderful, but if that ecstasy interrupts his service, then the devotees don’t want ecstasy. And Radharani has Krishna’s association, but her mood was of serving Krishna, “Let the other gopi’s also get the opportunity to serve Krishna.” and this mood of selflessness that is demonstrated by the gopi’s and Radharani – that is the mood of selflessness that we all can also internalize in our services to Krishna.
Prabhupada embodies the Vraja bhava. He says that the gopis left everything for Krishna. We see that Prabhupada also left everything and risked himself physically, emotionally and spiritually so that he could fulfil Krishna’s mission of sharing his mercy across the world. So, Prabhupada embodies the gopi’s mood in his selfless and dedicated service, and if we too can internalize that mood of selfless and dedicated service, then we will also advance. Slowly but surely, we will go towards understanding, appreciating and relishing the exalted devotion that Radharani, the goddess of devotion wants to offer us. So, on this Radhaasthami day we can pray to Radharani to give us a drop of devotion by which whatever situation we are in, our mind will be absorbed in Krishna, and the distance which is there between us and Krishna, which is just one thought – that distance will be breached by our thoughts becoming attracted towards him.
Let’s conclude with one prayer to Srimati Radharani.
Satyam satyam punah satyam
Satyam satyam punah punah
Vinah Radha prasadena Krishna prapti na labiate.
This is the truth. I repeat it again and again and again; that without the mercy of Srimati Radharani Krishna cannot be attained.
End of transcription.
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