Srila Govinda Maharaja circa 2004.
Devotee: I notice that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada were engaged in defeating the brahmanas by showing that Vaishnavas are above brahmanas. In the meetings the stalwart brahmanas accepted defeat, but afterwards they all forgot. Is this because it is a hidden treasure and can only be received from the self-realized soul? If it is not the case then after being defeated they would surely remember that Vaishnavas are above mere ‘brahmanism’ and they would follow that.
Srila Govinda Maharaja: Yes. Also it is true that so many saw the Visvarupa of Krsna. Karna, Duryodhana, Dusana, they all saw the Visvarupa of Krsna and they were stunned. They were surprised at what they saw, but they thought it to be magic: the magic of Krsna. Dhritarastra also very eagerly wanted to see that. In Mahabharata he said, “O Krsna, everyone is seeing Your Visvarupa, but I cannot see because I have no eyes. Please give me eyes for five or ten seconds because I want to see that.”Krsna replied, “It is not necessary for Me to give you eyes. If I say, you shall see.” Then Dhritarastra saw the wonderful Universal Form of Krsna. He then bowed down to Krsna. But afterwards he forgot everything.
A devotee recently wrote to me with an important question. He asked, “What is the position of Gurudeva?”
We see in the Scripture: saksad-dharitena samasta-sastrair-Gurudeva is non-different from Krsna. But elsewhere the Scriptures give: Acharyyam mam vijaniyan, navamanyeta karhicit. Krsna says, “I am Guru. I reveal Myself in the form of Guru.”
And in another place we see that the position of Gurudeva is given as Saksad-Baladeva—non-different from Baladeva. Gurudeva is non-different from Nityananda Prabhu; and Nityananda Prabhu is non-different from Baladeva. The devotee worships his Gurudeva as Baladeva—as Nityananda Prabhu.
In yet another place the Scriptures say that Gurudeva is Srimati Radharani. We can note too, that Baladeva has a form as a Manjari: Ananga Manjari.
So what is truth, and how to harmonize it? This was the question posed by that devotee.
It is necessary to harmonize everything, then we can understand what is what. First it is necessary to see what is the position of Krsna. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the first position. When we try to realize the position of Gurudeva, at first we shall see the main glow—that everything emanates from him. And He from whom everything emanates is Krsna. But Krsna is not alone. He is svasakti saktimana — Krsna is with His Power. When Krsna and His Power come to play, His form is Radha-Krsna. It is not that this is happening just for some time, but it is eternal. It is not that yesterday this happened but the previous day Krsna was alone. No. Everything is eternal and transcendental, so everything is living within consciousness, and that consciousness is Krsna consciousness, and Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the first thing we are to consider.
Also in another place we see: yadyapi asrjya nitya cic-chakti-vilasa
Nobody can create His Pastimes, and Krsna also does not create them. His Pastimes are eternal, therefore nobody created them. The Supreme Personality with His Power is eternal, and that Power is sometimes attached with Krsna and sometimes detached. When detached, still there is full power with Krsna.
Devotee: That last sentence is very difficult to understand.
Srila Govinda Maharaja: There is power, and there is the powerful. If you detach power from the powerful is there still power with the powerful?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: With the powerful there is full power even though power may be detached from the powerful, and that is called acintya, incomprehensible.
Devotee: Do amsha expansions such as vaibhava-vilasa also follow this principle in that He expands into other forms but without Himself becoming diminished?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: Yes. An example is given by Srila Krsna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami: if from one candle another candle is lit, that second candle is full with its power but without any loss from the original candle.
radha-krsna eka atma, dui deha dhari’
anyonye vilase rasa asvadana kari’
sei dui eka ebe Chaitanya gosani
Jasa asvadite donhe haila eka tharii
(Sri Chaitanya-caritamrta, Adi-Lila 4.56 & 57)
Radha and Krsna, the Power and the Powerful, are inseparable, but when They want to play They can exert themselves separately. He is full with power and She, His Power, is also full with power! This is the point.
When Krsna wants to have Pastimes, the first manifestation of His energy is Baladeva, Mul-Sankarsana. He comes out from Krsna-prabhava-vilasa. From Radharani automatically comes Yogamaya. Yogamaya and Mul-Sankarsana come out at the same time. Yogamaya takes charge of the playing ground, like the referee. She makes the rules and regulations, etc. in a way which will please Krsna, and by her will everything immediately manifests accordingly.
When Krsna wishes to play, immediately everything is manifest and managed by Yogamaya. Baladeva takes the charge of all administration and He delegates charge to Yogamaya. From the Powerful comes Sankarsana, and from Radharani comes Yogamaya.
Devotee: Sarkarsana is one of the names of Balarama?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: Yes: Mul-Sankarsana—the original Sankarsana.
Devotee: And afterwards so many other Sankarsanas are manifested?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: Yes— the Catur-vyuha. There are many expansions of Krsna and many expansions of Radharani — prabhava-vilasa, vaibhava-vilasa, etc., but in the higher plane are playing Radha-Krsna, Sankarsana and Yogamaya. These four participate there.
Devotee: The Catur-vuha are not in Goloka Vrindavana?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: No, they are in Vaikuntha. When Goloka Vrndavan comes down to this mundane world and shows its flame, those Pastimes can be revealed in Vaikuntha or anywhere. They have such power; and everything is full, purna. In the Vedas it is written,
om purnam adah purnam idam, purnat purnam udacyate
purnasya purnam adaya, purnam evavasisyate
Krsna is full, and Radharani is full. When the Power comes out from the Powerful, that Power is also full. The play of that plane progresses with the continual cycle of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.
Devotee: Even there! Srila Guru Maharaja said that all problems start from above.
Srila Govinda Maharaja: But nothing there is bad or wrong. All, whether they are possessors of power or power itself, they worship for the satisfaction of the Supreme Power and Powerful, Radha-Krsna.
We are trying to satisfy the Powerful, and in the extreme position we can see that Radharani holds the highest position of power in – trying to satisfy Krsna.
Devotee: Is this why even Nityananda Prabhu wants to expand Himself as a Manjari, Ananga Manjari: He comes from the Power, but He wants to give service to the Powerful?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: Yes. Nityananda Prabhu Himself enjoys Madhura-rasa as Mul-Sankarsana, Balarama. But He enjoys for the satisfaction of Krsna.
Devotee: Is Balarama’s Rasa-dance of a different mood than Krsna’s Rasa dance?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: Yes. Krsna is living in Balarama’s heart. When Balarama engages in Rasa-lila, Krsna’s Rasa-lila is playing within.
Another example is that a person may become aged by body but the mind may remain young in mood. An aged man may not have the physical capacity to act like a young man, but his mentality remains as a young man’s — sometimes he may hold even more of a ‘youthful mentality’ than a young man! That power of willing has a position in the Play of Krsna, and that is in the form of a Gopi. When Sankarsana wants to satisfy Krsna in Madhura-rasa, he cannot do that in the form of a male body. He must therefore transform and go under the guidance of Srimati Radharani.
We will also find there the form of Gurudeva. What is Gurudeva doing? He is giving service to Krsna. For the satisfaction of Krsna he gives us a rope to rescue us, and he takes us as a flower-offering to the lotus feet of Krsna. Baladeva is the first Guru. If we can see Baladeva we shall see that he is the first Guru and he wants to take us and offer us to the lotus feet of Krsna.
We shall see that Baladeva is Gurudeva. When we see the Power of Krsna, we will see that She is the highest and She gives the highest satisfaction to the mind of Krsna. She satisfies Him to the extreme. Seeing that, the devotees very much hanker to receive such a chance of service. Immediately they search out the possibility, and they follow the Sakhis and Manjaris, and in this way their service goes to Radharani.
Srimati Radharani gives the highest satisfaction to Krsna. She is the master of the ocean of Madhura-rasa. She is the proprietor of that property, therefore everyone, even Baladeva, if they want to satisfy Krsna supremely, they must go under Her guidance. But Radharani does not give anything directly to anyone because She does not have the time. She is always busy for the satisfaction of Krsna and She always wants ingredients for the service of Krsna. Her suppliers are the Asta-Sakhis. The Sakhis not only supply various items for service, but they make many things also. They make many very nice preparations. From potatoes they make thousands and thousands of varieties of preparations for offering. In this way they make many things for the satisfaction of Radharani, and Radharani worships Krsna with these.
Sometimes Krsna is very naughty and Krsna wants to meet with the Sakhis, but they do not want direct union with Krsna. The Sakhis do not have that type of mentality; their only concern is with the satisfaction of Krsna. They know that Krsna is fully satisfied with Radharani, and they supply everything. But Radharani, Herself, for the happy, varied play, offers the Sakhis to Krsna. She pushes them to have His direct association. And the Sakhis participate with Krsna for the satisfaction of Radharani, not for the satisfaction of Krsna. The Vrndavan-lila of Krsna goes on in this way.
One who wants the full satisfaction of his transcendental service-life must take the position of a female. Actually all jiva souls are female by intrinsic nature because they are sakti—jiva-sakti. Obtaining a female form they aspire to join the Lila of Radha-Krsna. They always pray for the mercy of the Sakhis and Manjaris. Krsna is not their master, but he is a player, a participant. The Sakhis take the position of master. They know in which way Krsna will be satisfied, and they make arrangements accordingly. The Sakhis take the guidance of Radharani and try to satisfy Krsna accordingly. They are exclusive servants of Radharani; they are happy, and Krsna is also happy with them in that way.
Devotee: Is there competition?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: No competition for themselves, but service competition is there. Sometimes there may be antithesis within the auspicious emotions, the Bhava. When Krsna left Vrindavana, Radharani fainted. Within the mood- of fulfilment of the Ecstatic Play as a whole, sometimes antithesis appears, and that gives even more satisfaction to Krsna and Radharani. When Radharani sees Krsna before Her, She sees one Krsna, and She tries to satisfy one Krsna. But when Krsna hides from Her, She sees Krsna everywhere and tries to satisfy Him everywhere. That mood is called Viraha. We can see the Guru’s position in many ways, but it is all within the play of Krsna. Krsna means the Conjugal Power, and the Powerful, and that is full Krsna. It is from that plane that Krsna comes down and says, acaryyam mam vijaniyan, “I am Guru.”
When Krsna says, “I am your Guru,” that is not the full conception of Krsna. He has many incarnations: He comes as Yuga-avatars, He also shows Himself as a teacher, such as when he became the teacher of the Kauravas and Pandavas. Krsna has many moods and varieties, and one variety of Krsna is that He is the Guru, therefore He says, acaryam mam vijaniyan, navamanyeta karhicit” Which means, “When you take shelter unto the lotus feet of your Guru, you will think that it is I, Myself, who has appeared in front of you in the form of your Guru in order to rescue you from the illusory environment and to take you to the transcendental world.” Such is the form of Krsna that we see manifest there the Acharya form.
All aspects of Krsna are truth. One truth is that Krsna appears as the Acharya in order to rescue the conditioned souls. When He appears in this way He is very merciful to the conditioned souls. Krsna cannot tolerate their painful position so He appears as the Acharya in order to rescue them from their unfortunate position: acaryam mam vijaniyan. But when the liberated souls in the transcendental service world try to serve, they also have a master of their own, and in the line of the Powerful they shall see him as Balarama, Nityananda. If they will follow that line, they will go to Krsna within that conception.
Nityananda Prabhu and Baladeva will be there as their Guru. The conception comes from that supremely extreme plane where Krsna is present with His Power. One step down from this is the form of Mul-Sankarsana, and this is manifest for the Play of the Lord. In that realm there are many forms of Guru. His play is enacted with His Cit sakti as well as with His Jiva-sakti, and, in a negative way, with Maya-sakti.
At one level is Yogamaya. By the will of Mul-Sankarsana, all the transcendental world is acquired by Yogamaya. She has full consciousness about Krsna, therefore for the play of Krsna she makes everything needed for His satisfaction. The trees, the peacocks, the deer, flowers, and everything; all are expansions of Yogamaya’s power.
Devotee: Does Yogamaya have a form there as a Gopi?
Srila Govinda Maharaja: Yes. Vrndadevi is an expansion and representative of Yogamaya. This is said in the first verse of the song of Astakalya-lila composed by Srila Visvanath Chakravarti.
When the jiva soul obtains the form of a Gopi, under the guidance of the Manjaris she tries to satisfy her masters, and they see that Radharani is the Supreme Satisfier of Krsna. Under the guidance of Radharani they try to satisfy Krsna. For the service of Krsna, Radharani is the supreme Guru.
We are of the Rupanuga Sampradaya: we are followers of Rupa Goswami. Actually we do not consider ourselves to be following properly, but we are trying to be followers. The only destination we can see is in the direction of the lotus feet of Radharani. Radharani is so merciful and She can manifest Herself in many ways, so She can also come in front of me — in the form of Gurudeva. What She wants to see is our mood of service.
There is a history I heard from Srila Guru Maharaja at Kusum Sarovar in 1947. When I saw that place, Srila Guru Maharaja told me that one day Radharani came there to collect flowers along with Her Sakhis and Manjaris. They came in a big group and collected flowers. Suddenly Radharani noticed a girl of eleven years of age or so and mentioned, “Oh, she is such a beautiful girl. When did she join?”
Lalitadevi replied, “Rupa Manjari brought her from her village and I gave her to the group of Rupa Manjari. She is serving Your Highness through Rupa Manjari.”
Srimati Radharani said, “She is such a beautiful girl and she can do much seva.” And Radharani continued with her service activities.
I heard this story from Srila Guru Maharaja and I cannot forget this example. Immediately such kind of fortune may come to anyone, and Rupa Goswami can take us in that way. Lalitadevi is also very merciful and she can immediately bestow her mercy upon us.
Radharani has many Sakhis but eight are principle. There are thousands of Sakhis, and they have groups. There are thousands of groups of Manjaris. First we must remember that this matter is to do with the transcendental universe. Within a second it can expand by one thousand yojanas* and more.
I previously had a query within my mind and I asked Srila Guru Maharaja, “Here is Radha-kunda, but Varsana is many kilometers away, so how did Radharani come here every day, and how did she go from Varsana to Kusum Sarovar to collect flowers?”
Srila Guru Maharaja explained, “This is the transcendental world where, for the Pastimes of Krsna, for His satisfaction there is always expansion and contraction. This happens by the will of Radharani, and Yogamaya arranges everything. When the necessity comes, distance becomes very short. And when there is necessity, distance becomes very long such as when the banks of the Yamuna expand. For the service of Krsna, everything immediately takes the suitable form to satisfy Him.” In one way, the supreme Guru is in the form of Baladeva. In a general way Krsna shows His own path of service and He becomes Guru. In the form of Guru He reveals Himself within the mundane world. His position as Guru is also in the heart of the devotees.
Supremely, where there is a variety of extreme services to Krsna, that is Madhura-rasa. In that plane the highest Supreme Satisfier of Krsna is Radharani. And that is our line and life’s goal. We only expect that some day it may come by the mercy of Gurudeva. Whether or not we will gain admission there is by the will of my group leader, my Gurudeva.
*A Vedic measurement. 1 yojanas = approx. 8 miles.