All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga

Gain a visa from the Vaikuntha Embassy

A class given by Sripad Bhakti Sudhir Goswami Maharaj
at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nadabwip, on April 1st 2004.

Hear this class:
Part one | Part two | Part three (Total: 1 hour, 10.8 MB mp3 audio)

You may know in a general sense, that when you have an embassy it is actually considered that country within your country. You have no jurisdiction over there; it is actually their place. So, the American Embassy here is, for all intents and purposes, America, so within there everything is done that way, their way, and their citizens can seek refuge there. If you want to go to America you can go there and approach for a visa. So, it is really a good analogy. Sometimes Srila Guru Maharaj said that that is what he was noted for: his use of analogy, giving original, accessible concepts.

We are told that the classic reference to the concept of analogy is sakha-chandra-nyaya: the logic of seeing the moon through the branches of a tree. Like here sometimes, even yesterday, when everyone was circumambulating, a child asks, "Where is the moon?" and everyone is looking and then, just like that example, you point to the branches of a particular tree because the tree is near you and local. And then you say "You see that tree?" "Yes." "You see the branch on the left hand side?" "Yes." "Follow that branch. You see right at the very end, the moon is there!" "Oh Yes! I see it."

So the example is not the truth or the proof. In that case the tree is not what is to be revealed; rather the moon through the agency of the use of the tree is a graphic illustration. It is something that is immediate and accessible to something more distant. This is its incredible power. In this case, let's say the moon is about 400,000 kilometres away from the earth, it's 240,000 miles according to NASA, but to locate that object the tree which is three feet (one metre) away can be used to help us focus on that. This is the beauty, the grace, the mercy, if you will, of analogy.

It is very useful for us who live next to the tree. So it is an extension, but interestingly, vaikunthera prthivy-adi sakala chinmaya (C.c. Adi 5.53), Vaikuntha is constructed out of consciousness. It is a conscious construct, and not simply generic consciousness, which lies on its outskirts, but dedicating consciousness, devotion. This propels the development there. Dedicating substance. So those souls who possess a particular type of dedication are extensions of that plane, and moving within this world they make it accessible to us.

At a time when there is a lot of discussion about 'Guru,' of which there will always be, but talking particularly about initiating Gurus and such, Srila Guru Maharaj pointed out that really this is the function of madhyam adhikari. It is most accessible from that plane. He gave an example when he said that three types of Guru we can conceive. Not three types of Vaisnava he said, but three types of Guru. The first has two feet within the spiritual world, the land of dedication, and he extends one here. So he has one there and has extended one here, and he is taking from here to there by dint of his connection locally. People are imbibing that sort of divine substance. A similar sort of dedication is awakening within their hearts, and that current, the whole movement of it, is drawing them towards the domain that he has descended from.

Another type of Guru has recently achieved a connection there, so he has also got one foot here and one foot there but in a sort of reverse way. But he is also qualified to take from here to there.

And then he said, a third category we may conceive. And Srila Guru Maharaj said this in many different ways but once he said, "Two feet in the mud!" Like that, to underscore this clearly. He said, "But his eyes are fixed on Vaikuntha." Brahma-nistham. Still, he is fixed in that conception, in saying, "Oh, let us go there." So he is in the progressive line of devotion.

Srila Guru Maharaj also told us we may conceive of swarupa siddhi and vastu siddhi. Jivera swarupa haya, Krsna nitya dasa. Jiva by constitution is eternally the slave of Krishna. That is our position. So for one who is qualified in that conception, swarupa siddhi, but not yet posted in lila, vastu siddhi, from that position Bhaktivinoda Thakur tells us deviation is still possible. How can we understand that? Just as someone may possess the qualifications to be a judge, but not yet be sitting in a court giving their opinions.

janma karma cha me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so 'rjuna

(Gita 4:9)

It is indicated by Visvanath Chakravarti and others that the prapancha lila is the first entrance point. So those souls who are qualified, Gopi janma garbha deho, as Krishna's Pastimes are going from universe to universe to universe to universe, they'll take birth from a Gopi in that plane, and be introduced to the lila there.

But meanwhile back on earth, by dint of their presence, is a 'Vaikuntha Embassy' and depending upon the type of devotion they possess is what they are an extension of and what they are giving entrance to. This is why the position of Guru is so exclusive.

Devotee: So the entrance is never the same? Each Guru has one door?

Sripad Goswami Maharaj: Well, no. There is a line. This is the Rupanuga Sampradaya. Rupa Raghunath. Rupa Sanatan. Entrance to a particular plane, but that plane is broad and all encompassing: many possibilities are there. But there is some hierarchy of servitors, so it is not that each is taking to a different place, but what I mean to say, for example Srila Guru Maharaj tells us that, "Ramanuja discovered Vaikuntha." Exploring the realm of consciousness, he discovered Vaikuntha and revealed that to the world. Then there is a line of descent from him, but in our Chaitanya Saraswat conception Srila Guru Maharaj is highlighting the conception of Mahaprabhu that has come down to Srila Saraswati Thakur and his followers: those who are following his particular line which is exclusive dedication to the lotus feet of Rupa Goswami, Sri Rupa Manjari. That is the plane he is representing, that is the type of devotional connection that is being extended. They are cent percent servitors of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani always promoting Her, and not seeking self promotion.

So, sometimes Srila Guru Maharaj told us, "Having a passport is not enough." That means a generic connection with Krishna consciousness.

Someone can show up at the border of any country and say, "I have a passport," but that is not their concern. They expect that you have a passport, but they are going to look within that passport to see if you have a visa. Even though you've made it there, they want to see that somewhere locally you were given permission, by their local agent. There are some people who even after years and years and years of being in connection with the Krishna consciousness movement have failed to offer themselves at the lotus feet of Guru or Vaisnava seeking admittance, initiation.

Srila Guru Maharaj told us, "Three types we can conceive: Guru-sevi, Guru-bhogi, and Guru-tyagi. Guru-sevi, serving Guru; Guru-bhogi, enjoying the assets of Guru; and Guru-tyagi, rejecting Guru."

He said, "But all three have connection with Guru." Then he told us, "But there is a fourth that is the worst: no necessity of Guru!" Even in the cases mentioned before, we too may find something undesirable, but connection with Guru is there, but then there is this other category: 'no need for Guru.'

So this is the point: the local agent. Long before you get to that country you will out of necessity have approached the embassy and by the local agents there have been examined and approved for admission into the country. It is a perfect analogy. So here, moving in this plane are those making that plane accessible, but some examination will be there.

Suka became the examiner of Pariksit although Pariksit was an examiner by name. But it is that perfect that in the midst of so much disparity and difference of opinion coming to Pariksit Maharaj, "This is the way!" "Tapasya!" "Dhyana!" "Jnana!" Everyone telling him what to do according to what they can perceive, when they're under the influence, how to navigate. But why take direction from men whose vision is impaired? He is there in the midst of all this but moving towards him is Sukadev. So, in the midst of our lives' circumstances so many voices are pulling us. The Lord's agents are moving as by divine will, grace, mercy, towards us to come and rescue us. And that Sukadev is very beautifully described:

parinisthito 'pi nairgunya, uttama-sloka-lilaya
grhita-cheta rajarse, akhyanam yad adhitavan

(Bha 2.1.9)

He is the perfect mouthpiece for what Pariksit Maharaj needs to hear. We need to understand that when Krishna appears to us, before us, as Sri Guru it is precisely, perfectly, divinely, designed and destined for our inner necessity. So we were discussing nirguna, and he says "Parinisthito 'pi nairgunya I was totally situated on the other side of the saguna plane." And that set him apart from everybody else, because all the others were struggling to overcome this, and saying "This is helpful, that is helpful, this will be good, ...." But everyone knew Sukadev was never under the material influence from before his birth. So he had some outstanding qualifications that were recognised by everybody else. "Oh this is that Sukadev that we've heard about; let us hear what he has to say." Because they know that what they are suffering from in varying degrees is not for a moment, not even remotely, the same for him. And when he says "Parinisthito 'pi nairgunya, I was totally situated in the nirguna plane," no one has any doubts about that. So here are all these saguna qualities, and he is in the nirguna plane. This means brahmavad, basically. Hasn't become qualified yet, it's nirguna, it's the outskirts: but it is above here. So he is happily there.

Then he says, "grhita-cheta rajarse.... parinisthito 'pi nairgunya uttama-sloka-lilaya." Then these slokas, these conscious gems appeared, "Hearing them I heard about Krishna-lila, and I was unaware of that! I was in the nirguna plane, above all these undesirable mundane qualities, but not knowing anything about the super-qualified plane above that, just nirguna. But then I am hearing this uttama-sloka-lilaya and my consciousness is being captured and carried away into another plane that I didn't know existed previously, because I was in Brahma. Nirguna, but not deep; on the surface of the nirguna world, where it appears without any sort of qualities. But then I started hearing all kinds of qualities but they were unlike the qualities here that will drag you down to become involved in this plane. My heart was being carried away into another domain, another dimension, grhita-cheta rajarse."

And then he says, what was that that he heard, that had this sort of influence upon him? Krishna-lila. So:

vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam cha visnoh
sraddhanvito 'nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty achirena dhirah

(Bha 10:33:39)

What type of faith is required to hear Krishna-lila, and specifically Krishna's Pastimes?

kam prati kathayitum ise
samprati ko va pratitim ayatu
gopa-vadhuti-vitam brahma

(C.c. Madhya 19:98)

"Who will believe this? Who is qualified to hear it, and who will believe it?" For various reasons Sukadev is very cautious in his presentation to this group.

So those in the embassy have varying levels of qualification. They may know the full wealth of their country and all its secrets, and they may not. Vyaso vetti na vetti va.( C.c. Madhya 24:315.) But they are agents providing connections issuing visas for entrance. So when Srila Gurudev is giving Harinama Mahamantram, still to this day he will say, "I have been ordered by my Guru to distribute the seeds of Krishna-prema to sincere seekers." Bhakti lata bija. The conceptual seed, the Krishna conceptual seed which is nourished by association and service. But entrance to this plane is different to what we normally conceive of. Most typically in this world someone wants to go somewhere to enjoy that place it will be beneficial to them to either visit there or establish some sort of residency and reap the benefits. But here, pranipatena:

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprasnena sevaya
upadeksyanti tad jnanam
jnaninas tattva darsinah

(Gita 4:34)

So the qualification for admittance there is the desire to offer oneself in service. As was pointed out the other day: what is the offer? The finite offers itself to receive the Infinite. It is easy to express in that way. Diksha-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana (C.c. Antya 4:191). Otherwise we are giving the appearance of initiation, the formality, the ritual of it all. But we cannot sit before Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami here at his Viraha-Milan Samadhi and ever entertain the idea that form will take precedence over substance. Vastu. Vastavam atra vastu sivadam tapa-trayonmulanam (Bha 1:1:2). So we are making a feeble attempt to live in the conscious plane and in the association of those Vaisnavas that shall elevate our consciousness, even imperceptibly perhaps. It is written in Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat that where there is a Maha-bhagavata, a devotee of the first order, that we were talking about overlapping areas of radiance or divine mercy it says something to the effect that the aura or their krpa and purifying radiance is something like 10,000 yojanas (80,000 miles). So that's far beyond the earth. That means if one is upon the earth the earth is covered. The earth is the centre of the universe; actually it is a geocentric conception. If we can get the right perspective, we will see the earth is in the centre and everything is pivoting around that. Naimisaranya! But we have to stop conceiving things in terms of finite, and making finite 'what if?' forecasts, finite 'what if?' projections. Still we are buying into the same foolishness.

The old joke was if you gave some monkeys typewriters and enough time they would type the complete works of Shakespeare. Now I guess it's simians with super computers: "If there are enough simians with super computers, they could produce the entire Vedas."

Stay away from these people. They write on the board: "The sum total of the finite equals the infinite." They are in love with themselves actually. Democracy: "If enough asses 'braaaaay' in a particular way then we'll accept that as the direction in which to proceed." Sva-vid-varaha ustra-kharaih.

So one word from the Guru, it is told, will outweigh, tip the scales. One word from the Infinite. The Infinite is being broadcast into this domain via the agency of the inspiration of Guru-Vaisnava.

Human beings especially are meant to cultivate consciousness. We know that, and that is not even a spiritual concept. Everybody knows it. Why? Why do they know it intuitively? There are certain things we just sort of get, intuitively. One of them is: as soon as possible, children should be educated. Of course there are some people that are obsessing: in the crib they have the alphabet hanging there, letters hanging in an alphabet sky so that they can immediately begin their education. It means intuitively they understand, this is across the spectrum, that human beings are meant for some sort of inner culture. We get lost in our own jargon sometimes. 'This human form of life is meant for self realisation.' It says that in the manual. But they know that. Everybody knows that!

Devotee: I have a question. You were talking about the Ramayana yesterday, and that Srila Guru Maharaj was attracted to the Ramayana conception before being introduced to Krishna consciousness. Ramayana is within the Vaikuntha area conceptually, so is there gradation within the Vaikuntha conception? And how does a person move between conceptions?

Sripad Goswami Maharaj: It is a very good question. In the very beginning of the Bhagavatam he says: vedanti tat tattva-vidas, tattvam yaj jnanam advayam (Bha 1:2:11). Actually it is only one. This substance is one. But that's not the end of the story. Not that everyone says, "Close the book; let's go home, it's all one."

No. Hold on a minute! He's saying, "That one substance we are now going to talk about what is that one substance? Brahman, Paramatma, Bhagavan." Brahma means this, Paramatma means that.... We are told: "All-accommodating Brahman, is larger than the largest. All-permeating Paramatma, is smaller than the smallest, permeating everything. And now Bhagavan...." And in Bhagavan is the central conception of attraction. To spell it out really simply, it means that Krishna, or Bhagavan, is attractive when accompanied by His Potency. That's when He looks best and His real beauty comes out, with Her by His side, and with interaction, Their lila, Their Pastimes.

So the Bhagavan conception is given here, and then it is going to be given in gradation. We are told 'Visnu-bhakti of Vaikuntha' with infinite variations on that theme. So we hear in Sanatan-siksa where Mahaprabhu is telling Sanatan Goswami about all these different Visnu forms and how he will understand Their Names by the placement of items in His hands.

We can understand even in this world how people may superficially appear to be the same but in fact no two people are identical looking, and we can see shades of beauty, variation, and attractiveness in them. So what to speak of Bhagavan. Can we allow that for Him, that He can also have innumerable forms and variations on a particular theme of beauty, with subtle shades of variation, a little emphasis here and something being suppressed there, or understated here and augmented there? Why not? Except when He does that, it is in infinite array!

So through those quadruple expansions, then sixty-four Visnu forms, an idea is being given how this expands and extends, and that is the Vaikuntha world. Srila Guru Maharaj would say, "And there we find two and a half rasas."

This is what I want to say as the foundation for this, on the God theme. It is like money. There is a world of currency: dollars, euros, rupees, yen. They are all money, and locally when we need some money and are in India we think, "I need some rupees." It is understood like that locally money and rupees are synonymous. However to think that that is the extent of it, that it doesn't go beyond that, or that there is no other system of value anywhere else is provincial and foolish. So there is a standard by which this plurality of currencies can be judged, and we will find there is a location of dollars, and what is the assessed value of a euro, a rupee, a yen, etc.

Similarly when it comes to the God concept people provincially think that whatever is available locally and that they have been raised on is all there is. Whereas actually there is also a standard by which God concepts can be measured and assessed as superior and inferior, and that standard is rasa. Rasa is very difficult to translate from Sanskrit, but here we can say for the sake of this argument it means 'loving intimacy.' The intimacy of loving relationship.

In a general and broad sense, it is true that ninety-nine percent of religious conceptions deal with Brahma. They may use words like mother, father, sister, brother, but it's Brahma. Brahmavad, at best, and often thoroughly coated with mayavad. All their concepts vanish in Brahma in time. If you press their theologians deeper and deeper and deeper it just starts sounding more and more like Brahma, in time. When they get backed into a corner all the 'mother, father, sister, son' stuff starts dissolving in Brahma.

Anyway, back to Vaikuntha and the variations to the theme, there are 'two and a half rasas.' It means santa rasa, dasya rasa, and Srila Guru Maharaj told for some servitors who have been there a really long time (in a world that is not under the influence of time admittedly, but so we have some idea!), some semblance of friendship starts entering that relationship on some level. That is the spectrum of rasa within Vaikuntha. When you are dealing with rasa, that actual substance, then what could be better than this?

When we read in the Bhagavatam the descriptions of Vaikuntha, they are utterly charming, seductive, and filled with beauty: the descriptions of the terrain there, the lotuses, the palaces, the Visnu forms. When Gopa Kumar is on the outskirts of Vaikuntha and he sees who appears to be Visnu entering, he is giving his dandavat pranam and offering prayers, but those devotees with their four arms were saying, "No, no, we are not Him!" because they look like the Lord also. The Lord himself however has that srivatsa, which is very hard to describe but in one place is explained as like threads made out of jewels in front of a mirror of jewels. So Gopa Kumar understood to be on the lookout for that srivatsa to identify who is the Lord. In Nrsimha-loka the devotees have forms like Him so much variegated position is there.

When the heart's inner necessity to express itself in a particular way exceeds the lower hemisphere of Vaikuntha, then it starts ascending towards Ayodhya.

Devotee: Does that occur naturally or is help from above needed always?

Sripad Goswami Maharaj: Yes, always.

tvam bhakti-yoga-paribhavita-hrt-saroja
asse shruteksita-patho nanu natha pumsam

(Bha 3:9:11)

It is a relationship, a growing, developing relationship that is reciprocal. So the devotee is feeling in a particular way, sacrificing in a particular way, expressing that Krishna is reciprocating. Krishna as Visnu, Krishna as Rama, and, ye yatha Mam prapadyante (Gita 4:11). This is the beauty of it: it is mystical, because this is the general rule of thumb of spiritual transaction. Ye yatha Mam prapadyante, tams tathaiva bhajamy Aham. "They are surrendering to Me in a particular way, and I am reciprocating with that." Here we are talking about something pure, because Krishna makes some qualifications too. "There are people who come to Me for the wrong reasons; I trick them. There are other people who come to Me who are good hearted, but ask Me for something bad; I don't give it to them."

yasyaham anugrhnami
harisye tad-dhanam sanaih

(Bha 10.88.8)

"I force them, make them, put them in a position where they can only take shelter of Me." There are various possibilities, but generally He is reciprocating according to their hearts' flow, but it is something that is growing, developing and is dynamic. These feelings must be substantial. Even in this world people are suspicious of becoming involved prematurely or too quickly. Sometimes people want to dive into these concepts. In the words of a laughing Srila Guru Maharaj, "Plodding in the mud of misunderstanding, thinking they are swimming in the divine waves of Radha Kund." And that's to put it mildly!

The finite is not going to embrace the Infinite over night. There are established ways and means for all that, but these experts in the spiritual science, especially sambandha-jnana Acharya Srila Sanatan Goswami, have shown in very great detail the steps of gradation, and one of the things this tells us is that this process is not going to be achieved overnight. These steps may also not be eliminated. In the description of the growth of the bhakti lata bija:

upajiya bade late 'brahmanda' bhedi' yaya
'viraja,' 'brahma-loka' bhedi"paravyoma' paya
tabe yaya tad-upari 'goloka-vrndavana'
'krsna-charana'-kalpa-vrkse kare arohana

(C.c. Madhya 19.153.4)

The creeper grows and penetrates all these layers before achieving the spiritual sky: brahma-loka, bhedi paravyoma paya. What are all these layers? They are misconception. This is the world of anartha, misconceived self interest. Adau arpita paschad kriyeta. (Sridhar Swami's Srimad-Bhagavatam commentary on 'sravanam kirtanam Visnoh smaranam.')

If what we are doing is not really and truly an offering to the other, to Krishna, through the agency of His devotee then it is just method acting, 'air bhajan:' we are making a show of devotion. There has to be self dissipation. Self giving means self dissipation, ego dissolution.

What is it within us that cringes at the word 'slavery'? I think it was so perfect for Srila Guru Maharaj to choose that word, repeatedly. You could almost hear people saying, "Oh Maharaj, don't say 'slave,' say 'servant,' it sounds better." Even etymologically speaking the word 'dasa' and 'dasi' mean 'slave' male slave and female slave. This so irks humanists that they accuse the Gaudiya Math of "simply spreading slavery and degradation. This is what with our enlightened thinking we have tried to rescue people from. We are offering them democracy, where they too have a voice." The voice of the asses/masses! The ass is mass; the mass is ass. These people continue: "The sum total of their brains will express direction. That is what we have offered them through enlightened thinking, and this Gaudiya Math is simply preaching slavery."

Srila Saraswati Thakur answered, "No! Sri Gaudiya Math stands for the dignity of the human race!" Krishna dasa, Radha dasi. This is how perverted we have become, to conceive of intimate service to divinity as being something degrading. That is absurd. It is sick that we conceive service as unworthy.

When Mahatma Gandhi sent out word that he needed an assistant, all the biggest men of India volunteered for the job. Scientists, great thinkers, intellectuals, millionaires everyone wanted to be Gandhi's assistant or servant or slave or anything to get his association. They thought that, "He is a man of such qualification that I just want to be around him, doing anything for him, handing him a glass of water, washing his clothes, turning on the fan, shutting the windows or opening the door."

So people say, "Oh, well Mahatma Gandhi was such a great man it is easy to understand that."

"Oh" we say, "And God? What about God?"

So in different places devotees have accepted the most menial, objectionable service, such as Isvara Puri and Narottama dasa Thakur, to show something really extreme, to push our buttons and underscore this point. They are doing what materially speaking are the most objectionable things. Why? Because their conception, their estimation of what they are in connection with is so high that these things are not objectionable but desirable. Most desirable instead of most objectionable. There is an expression: 'A radical transformation.' And if ever one was called for, it is here it is demanded in the Krishna conception.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
(Gita 18:66)

This means a radical transformation; to break all connections with everything, including what we have conceived up to this point.

From the very beginning we used to like hearing Srila Prabhupad quoting a sloka of Prabodananda Saraswati Thakur. And such devotees of Mahaprabhu are very intense in their expression which reveals the exclusiveness of their devotion and dedication. So Prabodananda Saraswati in the Sri Chaitanya-chandramrta says,

dante nidhaya trnakam padayor nipatya
krtva cha kaku-satam etad aham bravimi
he sadhavah sakalam eva vihaya durad
chaitanya-chandra-charane kurutanuragam

(Chaitanya-chandramrta 90)

What is his approach? He is saying to respectable, educated, literate, modern people: "You know so much. Who can estimate the depth of what you know and understand, and what your position is? I am nothing by comparison, but I know that because you are such exalted persons that I can ask one small, humble favour or request, and you being such exalted magnanimous souls will surely grant me that. So I am putting a straw between my teeth, falling at your feet and submitting this one small, simple humble request."

And what is that? "Forget everything that you know! Take all of it and throw it away! It's all 'yesterday.' Leave it. Chaitanya-chandra-charane kurutanuragam, and kindly turn your attention to the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu, where you will find inconceivable wealth. That is my request. Humbly."

And it is still our request of ourselves. What is it we think we know? It is the gathered individual and collective experience of sense gathering, that's all. What we've been able to verify or collect individually or collectively as human beings, the sum total history of human civilisation, all of that has to be left behind because whatever pull it has upon us is keeping us anchored to anartha, to misconception. So only grhita-cheta rajarse. Uttama-sloka-lilaya, our consciousness being captured by the seed of faith planted there can start pulling us out of this situation. It is the only means for us to connect to that Vaikuntha world. It is real, it is substantial, but, sraddha-mayo 'yam loka, it is a plane of faith; a faith signal is being broadcast into this domain. So many times Srila Gurudev is saying, "One has to make oneself a receiver."

The reason Ayodhya is superior to Vaikuntha is that because there the Lord has the Pastimes of being born, having a mother, father, brother and so on. There is no 'birth' of Visnu and Laksmi in Vaikuntha, so those sort of mother and father Pastimes are not there. These things are revealed in Ayodhya. So generally Guru Maharaj is telling us that the Vaikuntha world is the lower hemisphere of the spiritual domain, but now we are going deeper and higher, into Ayodhya. There, there is also conjugal seva, but it is restricted to Sita. Only She is qualified there for that type of seva.

Interestingly though, when Ramachandra visits Mithila or other different places, the Dandakaranya Rishis are seeing his inconceivable, extraordinary beauty and are becoming imbued with Madhura-rasa sentiments. Some gradation is taking place, but Lord Ramachandra is expressing, "I know how you feel, but...."

In this lila He is so exclusively dedicated to Sita that in her absence, when it became time for him to perform certain sacrifices that required that the wife must be there with the husband, murtis of Sita were commissioned. However His beauty was so extraordinary that the murtis of Sita were becoming imbued with madhura-rasa sentiments. Sita's murtis were melting in His presence, and He even had to tell them, "When I appear as Krishna, at that time all will be adjusted and this kind of full heart's flow will be given vent then."

So that service is limited to one in Ayodhya, then when we go to Dwaraka, Krishna has sixteen principle saktis, and a thousand extended variations on their beauty, personality, charm and sweetness personified individually. Not mere reflections, not that type of extension. So 16,108 queens. This is expanding from that point. Then once it appears to be becoming more and more exclusive it becomes deceptively simple. That is the Mathura, Vrindavan, conception.

chintamanis charana-bhusanam angananam
srngara-puspa-taravas taravah suranam
vrindavane vraja-danam nanu kama-dhenu-
vrndani cheti sukha-sindhur aho vibhutih

(C.c. Madhya 14.228)

What has happening in this sequence is that all of the opulence of Vaikuntha and, by extrapolation, the sweetness, is becoming condensed. A radical transformation is necessary in our consciousness to accommodate this, to not be misled by the contraction into thinking it has become smaller, rather as it condenses and concentrates it is becoming more extensive. This is where our minds and intellects blow a fuse.

achintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet
(Mahabharata, Bhisma parva 5.22)

This won't be grasped intellectually, mentally, or with a few books open before you, collecting something from this one and adding it to what you took from that one. Your equation from this will not produce the Infinite. One comic strip writer, Gary Larsen, showed Einstein with a blackboard on which were many letters and symbols from physics, and at the end it showed 'equals' and then: the dollar sign. "Einstein discovers that time equals money!"

It is not like that. That you will extract from here and there and get an infinite product as a result. Krishna is repulsed by that sort of approach. Even Brahma and his four heads could not accommodate aprakrita-lila. It is so deceptively simple. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita Kaviraj Goswami says that Vrindavan has some measurement of sixteen krosas (thirty-two square miles). That world which is all-accommodating and most extensive, he is presenting in terms of some narrow confine, but it is not to be taken literally. That plane, chintamanis charana-bhusanam angananam, the jewels that spring out of that soil, chintamani, that are desire and wish fulfilling touchstones, are being worn by the Gopis as ornaments around the ankles of their lotus feet. So Krishna sent Uddhava from Dwaraka to give him exposure to higher voltage devotion.

People talk about chanting japa and chanting Krishna-nama, so once Srila Guru Maharaj said, "Try to conceive what sort of voltage is there when Srimati Radharani takes Krishna-nama." If we can have even a remote glimpse of that, by His grace, then our only conclusion would be to approach Her nearest agents and offer ourselves in service, saying, "I want to have a connection with that, so I am approaching you because you are the nearest local agent who is representing that plane. What can I do? I want to offer myself in service." Diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana (C.c. Antya 4:192.) Otherwise diksa is a formulaic ritual.

What does it mean to offer oneself? Today is Ekadasi. Srila Gurudev says we are offering some of ourselves, some energy to Krishna to consume, and that is why we will feel something. If we are observing any of these things properly we will feel some giving of the self, something will be there. When Srila Saraswati Thakur spoke on this once, remembering that anything can be discussed from many different points of view, he said, "The moon is in a particular position, increasing the flow of rasa so the pleasure tendency is heightened. By fasting the senses are restored." 'Quellmed' a friend of mine once called it, a made up word from a combination of 'quelled' and 'calmed.' Shakespeare made up a lot of words too.

So that is the effect, externally, but at the same time, mystically, Krishna's desire is greater at this time for rasa. Whatever is in this world is a perverted reflection of the original, so even on this very subject also. What is pleasing to Krishna is seva, so the devotees at that time try to increase their seva. And in terms of what level to observe fasting, Srila Guru Maharaj's advice was, "To the degree that it does not incapacitate or debilitate you for service." What is the utility of fasting to the point of debilitation? That is not our line.

Just to tie this to what we were talking about earlier, you can see also the possibility of promotion within the plane of dedication from one position to another, by inner necessity of the heart. Substantially. So those Dandakaranya Rishis, as when Mahaprabhu was jesting with Venkata Bhatta about Laksmi Devi, "Why does your Laksmi Thakurani want to have rasa with my Krishna?!"

At first the reaction might be, "What are you saying? Are you hinting at impropriety? Please explain."

So Mahaprabhu continues, "Well, Krishna is Rasaraj. When She wants those types of Pastimes She is also going to Krishna. It is appropriate. Krishna and Visnu siddhantically speaking are the same, but Krishna is highlighting this particular aspect, so She is making Her approach there. However, She is not given entrance into that plane."

So right there we can stop and think, "What are the qualifications to enter? If Laksmi Devi herself cannot enter, then what are the qualifications of the souls who can enter that plane?" Still, Mahaprabhu says that those Dandakaranya Rishis, and, according to Garga-samhita, ladies from Mithila and other places were given entrance. Vastu. Gopi bhava. Gopi deho. What is required is the right mood and the corresponding form that personifies that mood and is qualified to move in that plane of devotion

What time is it? Just see the detachment of our devotees: not one of them has a watch!

Originally transcribed by Keshavananda Prabhu, USA.

Hear this class:
Part one | Part two | Part three (Total: 1 hour, 10.8 MB mp3 audio)

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