In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life
by Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada

Index   1   2   3   4

Srila PrabhupadaHear From Self-realized Souls

A pure living entity, being always subservient to the Almighty Godhead Sri Krsna, should reverentially give an aural reception to the transcendental sound emanating from the mouth of a self-realized soul describing the glories of the Personality of Godhead. Only a self-realized soul can produce the powerful effect of transcendental sound. Devotees must live thoroughly honest lives in all respects by their body, mind, and words. These are the simple methods of culturing spiritual realization to its zenith.

Lord Caitanya approved of this simple method for all classes of people without any distinction of caste, creed, color, or education. The only qualification of the practitioners that is essential for this spiritual culture is that they at once give up the idea of becoming one with Godhead. This idea of becoming one with Godhead is generally only acquired by the empiric philosopher, but otherwise every human being naturally feels that God is greater than himself and that he is always subservient to all His wishes. Even a great personality like Mahatma Gandhi always spoke in terms of "God is great." Gandhi often said, "Not a blade of grass moves without the sanction of God."

Therefore, the imaginary idea of becoming one with Godhead is a mental creation of the empiric philosopher as a result of his material vanity. Otherwise, the idea has no substance. The idea of becoming one with Godhead is artificial and a simple-hearted person is always against such an idea. Rejecting the idea of becoming one with Godhead is always natural for everyone and nobody has to make any special attempt to dismiss this foolishness.

The next qualification is to become gentle and humble when hearing from a self-realized soul. The Bhagavad-gita is the direct transcendental message of Godhead, and the prospective devotee must receive this message with all gentleness and humility from a self-realized soul.

The method of receiving the message of Godhead, as mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, is to hear from the chain of disciplic succession. It is said there that the system of spiritual realization was first disclosed to Vivasvan, the sun-god, who transmitted the message to Manu, the father of mankind. Manu then transmitted the subject to his son Iksvaku. By the transcendental method of disciplic succession, the system was realized by all the rajarsis, saintly kings. Unfortunately, the chain was broken and the message had to again be revived beginning with Arjuna, the friend and devotee of Sri Krsna.

The prospective devotee’s qualification of hearing the transcendental message will not depend on birth, heritage, education, caste, creed, color, or nationality, but will depend on humility and finding the proper source for receiving the transcendental message. The mystery of the message as mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita must therefore be understood in terms of the realization of Arjuna and nobody else. The realization of Arjuna is also mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, and whoever speaks in the line of that realization is to be considered a self-realized soul. The message of Bhagavad-gita is to be heard from a self-realized soul and not from anyone speculating on dry subjects with imaginary meanings. The un-bona-fide attempt at hearing will simply be a waste of time. The devotee must always be careful that the speaker is in the transcendental line of disciplic succession called the parampara. The qualification of the prospective devotee should be that he must live an honest life by his body, mind, and words, which will all depend on the mercy of Godhead.

Spontaneous Love of Godhead

Thus the preliminary stage of culturing devotional service without any touch of speculative knowledge was accepted by Lord Caitanya who then asked Ramananda Raya to proceed further in developing the service sentiment to higher and higher stages of love of Godhead until the highest stage was reached. To this Ramananda answered that the progress in this line will end in the loving service of Godhead. Every living entity has within his heart a dormant and eternal love of Godhead. Spiritual culture is the attempt to revive that eternal love of Godhead to its spontan- ous stage, and the beginning of that attempt is receiving the transcendental message of Godhead from the right source– a self-realized soul. After receiving the transcendental message, this conception has to be developed to the spontaneous stage of love of Godhead. Ramananda describes the process in the following words:

nanopacara-krta-pujanam arta-bandhoh
premnaiva bhakta-hrdayam sukha-vidrutam syat
yavat ksud asti jathare jaratha pipasa
tavat sukhaya bhavato nanu bhaksya-peye

"As long as there is acute hunger in the stomach, there is pleasure in eating and drinking. Similarly, as long as ecstatic spontaneous love of God is aroused in the mind of a devotee, the worship of Godhead with all kinds of paraphernalia becomes the real cause of happiness." (Padyavali 13)

The purport of this statement is that hunger is the cause of pleasure in taking foodstuffs. Similarly, spontaneous love of Godhead is the cause of all pleasure in spiritual culture.Sri Ramananda Raya quoted another sloka as follows:

krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih
kriyatam yadi kuto 'pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam
janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate

"The intelligence for achieving the loving service of Godhead may be purchased from anywhere it is available. The price for such a purchase is a strong desire for achieving such a stage of life. Such a strong desire for rendering loving service unto the Personality of Godhead is very, very rare because it is developed by accumulating the results of many virtuous purifying acts in thousands and thousands of lives." (Padyavali 14)

The desire for rendering loving service unto the Personality of Godhead is an invaluable desire and it brings the highest spiritual perfection. It is very rarely seen in the ordinary course of life. Lord Caitanya, being the most magnanimous incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, out of His kindness and causeless mercy upon the fallen souls of this age of Kali, is prepared to bestow the highest benefit of life by the simple method of hearing and chanting the glories of the Personality of Godhead. This is the beginning of the transcendental method, gradually reaching to the stage of spontaneous love of Godhead.

Dasya-Prema

To develop the conception, Lord Caitanya asked Ramananda to go further. As such, Ramananda first suggested the devotional service called dasya-prema or the mellow of transcendental servitude. He quoted a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam that was uttered by Durvasa Muni. Durvasa Muni, with the pride of a caste brah- mana, envied the pure devotee Maharaja Ambarisa, who happened to be a householder king and by caste a ksatriya. Durvasa Muni wanted to put Maharaja Ambarisa in trouble by the strength of his mystic prowess.

When Ambarisa Maharaja was put into trouble, the disc weapon of Lord Visnu, sudarsana cakra, appeared to rescue Maharaja Ambarisa and attack Durvasa for his nefarious deed of troubling a pure Vaisnava devotee. As Durvasa was being harassed by the sudarsana cakra of Lord Visnu, he came to his senses and understood that he was mistaken in considering a pure devotee to be less qualified than a mystic like himself. In the end, Durvasa was excused by Maharaja Ambarisa, who was naturally always forgiving to everyone. Durvasa Muni, being relieved from his misconception of caste predominance, praised the Personality of Godhead and His sweet relationship with His pure devotee. He said, "Nothing is impossible for a pure devotee of the Personality of Godhead because simply by hearing His transcendental name, a person becomes purified of all vices." The purport is that if a person can become purified of all sins simply by hearing the Holy Name of Godhead, what is impossible for His servant who is constantly engaged in His service? Durvasa Muni acknowledged the supremacy of a servant of Godhead over any kind of yogi, what to speak of a jnani or karmi (empiric philosopher or fruitive worker).

The transcendental bliss that is enjoyed by a servant of the Personality of Godhead has been described by Sri Yamunacarya. He said, "O my Lord, when shall I feel myself to be Your absolutely faithful, bona fide servant, and live in transcendental cheerfulness by constantly obeying Your orders after being completely freed from all mental speculative desires?"

Sakhya-Prema

Lord Caitanya was satisfied by Ramananda’s explanation of transcendental servitude to the Personality of Godhead, and He asked Ramananda to go still further. Ramananda then explained spontaneous loving service rendered by a friend of the Personality of Godhead. This is called sakhya-prema or the transcendental rasa of friendship with the Personality of Godhead.

raya kahe—"sakhya-prema—sarva-sadhya-sara

"Sakhya-prema is superior to dasya-prema in the following respect: Although in dasya-prema there is a transcendental relationship with Godhead as master and servant, it includes the sense that "God is my maker."

Thus in dasya-prema there is an awareness of the greatness of the Personality of Godhead, and as such dasya-prema is mixed with a sense of fear and reverence for Him.

In sakhya-prema, the sense of fear and reverence is completely absent. On the contrary, a sense of equality prevails in the sakhya-prema. This sense of equality is an advance over the dasya-prema. Here is a quotation from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.12.11) on the subject of sakhya-prema:

ittham satam brahma-sukhanubhutya
dasyam gatanam para-daivatena
mayasritanam nara-darakena
sardham vijahruh krta-punya-punjah

"The Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna, who is experienced by the empiric philosophers as an impersonal feeling of transcendental bliss, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead to the devotees related with Him as master and servant, and who is an ordinary human child to the people under the illusion of the external energy, was playing in the rasa of friendship with the cowherd boys of Vraja who obtained that stage of life after many, many virtuous acts accumulated in many, many lives."

Vatsalya-Prema

Lord Caitanya approved of this advance and asked Ramananda to go still further in the development of transcendental relationships. Sakhya-prema is an advance in transcendental mellowness over dasya-prema, but vatsalya-prema, parental affection, is still more advanced than sakhya-prema.Ramananda Raya thus described a stanza from Srimad-Bhagavatam wherein the excellence of vatsalya-prema is described.

nandah kim akarod brahman
sreya evam mahodayam
yasoda va maha-bhaga
papau yasyah stanam harih

"O brahmana, it is puzzling to try to understand what virtuous acts Nanda Maharaja performed that he could have Hari (Sri Krsna) as his son. It is also puzzling to try to understand about Yasodadevi, who was addressed by the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna as ‘Mother’ and whose breast He sucked in filial affection."

Here is another quote from the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.9.20):

nemam virinco na bhavo
na srir apy anga-samsraya
prasadam lebhire gopi
yat tat prapa vimuktidat

"Thus the blessing of the Personality of Godhead Srî Krsna, which was gained by the cowherd lady Yasodadevi, was never expected by the demigods like Brahma or Siva or even by Laksmidevi, who is the constant consort of the Personality of Godhead Narayana."

This means that Srimati Yasodadevi and Nanda Maharaja worshiped the Personality of Godhead with the conception of the ‘sonhood of Godhead.’ In Christianity the ‘fatherhood of Godhead’ is accepted, and in Hinduism there is worship of Sakti, the external energy of Godhead, the ‘motherhood of Godhead.’ Both of these shadows of vatsalya-prema are material or a product of the external energy. They are a sort of perverted representation of the real vatsalya-prema, because by such a material conception of ‘fatherhood’ or ‘motherhood’ of Godhead, the worshiper’s aim is to extract service from the Almighty.

The spirit of enjoyment and the spirit of renunciation are the predominant factors of material existence. The enjoying spirit is cultivated by the karmis, people engaged in fruitive activities, and the spirit of renunciation is cultivated by the jnanis, empiric philosophers, who have become baffled by their engagement in fruitive activities. Both the karmis and jnanis are therefore materialists because both of them maintain the spirit of being served by the Absolute Truth. To satisfy their own conceptions, both of them demand something from the Absolute Truth.

The Absolute Truth is meant to be served by all living entities. He is not meant to serve the living entities. The living entities are mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita as the parts and parcels of the Absolute Truth. The parts and parcels are meant to render service to the whole. It is absurd for the parts and parcels to think of becoming one with the whole or to extract service from the whole. The part and parcel living entity, when unfit to render service, is detached from the whole. Therefore, the spirit of demanding service from the Absolute Whole is a symptom of being detached from the Absolute Whole, or, in other words, of being in the domain of the external energy of Godhead. Such a demanding policy of the materialists, through the conception of the ‘fatherhood’ or ‘motherhood’ of Godhead, is a slight attempt to revive their eternal relationships with Godhead; however, these conceptions are far from the conception of the ‘sonhood of Godhead’ as shown by Nanda and Yasoda.

The conception of the ‘sonhood of Godhead’ is a cent percent spiritually pure transcendental rasa. There was no demand made by Nanda and Yasoda on the Personality of Godhead. They offered pure and simple service to the Personality of Godhead by nursing Him as a baby. Under the influence of yogamaya, the internal energy of Godhead, they thought of Sri Krsna as nothing more or less than their affectionate and dependent son. The service of parents for a dependent son is always spontaneous and unalloyed.

Madhurya-Prema

Lord Caitanya admitted the superiority of vatsalya-prema over sakhya-prema, but He asked Ramananda to go still further in the realm of transcendental mellowness. Lord Caitanya said:

prabhu kahe–"eho uttama, age kaha ara"
raya kahe, "kanta-prema sarva-sadhya-sara"

"So far, you have certainly explained the gradual development of transcendental, eternal relationships with the Personality of Godhead very well. But above this conception of vatsalya-prema there is a supreme transcendental rasa, which is the topmost transcendental service." Upon hearing this suggestion of Lord Caitanya, Ramananda declared that a transcendental conjugal relationship with Godhead is the highest form of loving service rendered to the Personality of Godhead.

The process of developing a transcendental relationship with Godhead is understood gradually. By simply accepting the glories of the Personality of Godhead and establishing service to Him in the transcendental rasa of calmness, santa-prema, the sentiment of love for Godhead as one’s personal master is not developed. Santa-prema is a stage of peaceful appreciation of the glories of the Personality of Godhead.

In dasya-prema or transcendental servitude to Godhead, a sense of intimacy with Godhead is not developed. In both sakhya-prema, transcendental friendship with Godhead, and vatsalya-prema, parental affection, the sense of unrestricted approach for loving service is not developed. As such, the complete perfection of transcendental relationships is not found. The fullness of service, unchecked by all conventional restrictions, is only developed in madhurya-prema, transcendental loving service in conjugal love.

Thus, on the order of Lord Caitanya, Ramananda began to explain the nature of madhurya-prema. Ramananda quoted a verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam wherein Uddhava spoke of the fortune of Krsna’s cowherd girlfriends, who melted away in ecstasy when they heard Uddhava describe the activities of Sri Krsna. Uddhava said,

nayam sriyo 'nga u nitanta-rateh prasadah
svar-yositam nalina-gandha-rucam kuto 'nyah
rasotsave ‘sya bhuja-danda-grhita-kantha
labdhasisam ya udagad-vraja-sundarinam

"The transcendental happiness that was bestowed upon the beautiful damsels of Vraja, who got the opportunity to be embraced by the strong hands of Sri Krsna on the occasion of performing the rasa-lila, was never experienced even by Laksmi, who resides on the chest of the Personality of Godhead Narayana. Neither was such pleasure ever felt by the angels of heaven whose bodies emanate the smell of lotus flowers. What to speak then of ordinary beauties?" (Bhag. 10.47.60)

Quoting another passage from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.82.2), Ramananda said,

tasam avirabhuc chaurih
smayamana-mukhambujah
pitambara-dharah sragvi
saksan manmatha-manmathah

"Sri Krsna, who is the enchanter of Cupid, dressed in yellow, wore a garland of flowers, and all of a sudden appeared in His eternal smiling form in the midst of the cowherd girls, who were mourning in separation from Him after the pastime of the rasa-lila."

Thus Ramananda Raya summarized all of the different transcendental relationships with Godhead. He said that all of these are means of gaining the favor of Sri Krsna. A devotee in a particular relationship with Godhead will consider that relationship the highest of all, but when all the transcendental relationships are scrutinized and compared from a neutral angle of vision, the difference of intensity can be estimated.

Upstarts

Presently, a class of asuras (ungodly people who are demoniac in nature) have ventured to become preachers of spiritual realization by propagating a novel theory that the Absolute Truth is a matter of personal realization and the particular type of realization one has does not matter. This idea has sprung up from demoniac thinking that directly denies any particular cause of the creation. A description of such asuras is given in the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita. The asuras do not believe in the existence of the Personality of Godhead, under whose direction the creation takes place.

According to the asuras, everything in the world is a matter of chance and there is no truth in the belief that God has created the universe. The different philosophical theories about the creation, put forward by atheists, are speculative gymnastic feats. Because they say that determining the Absolute Truth is a matter of personal realization, the so-called favor of Godhead can be achieved by any means that may be conceived of by a simple speculator. They say that there are as many ways of realizing God or the Absolute Truth as there are speculators in the world.

Ramananda Raya is certainly not one of these speculators, and his mention of "various means of gaining the favor of Godhead" does not suggest that the transcendental favor of Godhead can be achieved by any speculative method of the empiric philosopher or the upstarts of spiritual fervor.

In the name of Lord Caitanya’s cult of devotion, many speculators of the above nature have already sprung up. The "various means" as suggested by Ramananda is not an adjustment of the false means of achieving the favor of Godhead adopted by the imitation Caitanyaites. "Various means" are mentioned in connection with the perfect mellows of love, namely santa-prema, dasya-prema, sakhya-prema, vatsalya-prema, and madhurya-prema.

The five transcendental rasas of loving service are possible only after one has transcended the stage of material impediments known as anarthas (unwanted things in the heart). Those who have no access to the transcendental service of Godhead wrongly think that manufactured processes are equal to the above-mentioned self-realized stages of love of Godhead. This misconception of the upstarts is but a sign of their misfortune.

Mellow of Sweetness

The analysis of the above-mentioned five transcendental rasas is also made in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. It is said there that the transcendental rasas are experienced in five progressive ways. Yet at a certain point, one rasa is experienced as the sweetest of all.

A practical analysis has been made by Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami in the following example: "Ether, air, fire, water, and earth are five different elements. Sound is experienced in ether. Sound and touch are experienced in air. Sound, touch, and form are experienced in fire. Sound, touch, form, and taste are experienced in water. And sound, touch, form, taste, and smell are experienced in earth. Earth has the qualities of all the elements. The analysis is that each elemental quality is developed through the other by gradual development, but the last one, namely earth, possesses all the qualities."

In the same way, the transcendental mellowness experienced in the stage of santa-prema is developed in the stage of dasya-prema and then sakhya-prema. It is further developed in vatsalya-prema, and lastly the complete development is manifested in the stage of madhurya-prema, for madhurya-prema includes all the rasas experienced in all the other devotional stages.

According to the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.82.45), the Personality of Godhead is completely obliged by the transcendental loving service rendered in the mood of madhurya-prema:

mayi bhaktir hi bhutanam
amrtatvaya kalpate
distya yad asin mat-sneho
bhavatinam mad-apanah

The Personality of Godhead said, "Loving devotional service unto Me is itself the eternal life of the living entity. My dear cowherd girls, the affection that you have in your hearts for Me is the only cause of achieving My favor."

In the Bhagavad-gita (4.11) it is said,

ye yatha mam prapadyante
tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante
manusyah partha sarvasah

The Personality of Godhead declares that He is experienced in proportion to the degree of one’s surrender. The Lord reciprocates in His different manifestations with the particular feelings of His devotees.

Quacks of Spiritual Science

The materialistic philosophers of this world, by way of mental speculation, have decided that God is approachable by any means of spiritual cultivation. According to them, it does not matter whether the method is fruitive action, empiric philosophical speculation, mystic yoga, meditation, penance, or any other method; all of them will ultimately lead to the highest goal. The example that they generally put forward in support of their theory goes like this: "There may be several thoroughfares, and if any one of them is followed, surely one will reach the desired destination." More explicitly, they say that God is represented in various forms such as Lord Ramacandra, the impersonal Brahman, Goddess Kali, Durga, Mahadeva, Ganesa, and many others, and as such any one of them can be worshiped with equal value.

Another example they use in this connection is that a man may have many names and if he is called by any one of them, he replies to the call. These statements of the quacks of spiritual science are like the indistinct vocal attempt of a spiritual baby. The indistinct voice of a baby may be very sweet to the ear of mental speculators, but the bona fide spiritualists reject it as a foolish child’s babbling.

Attachment for Demigods

The Bhagavad-gita (9.25) states:

yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino’pi mam

The worshipers of the demigods such as Ganesa, Surya, and Indra will ultimately reach the abodes of such gods. They will go to the planets of those demigods respectively according to their worship, while only the devotee of Sri Krsna will reach the abode of Sri Krsna. Thus the mundaners avoid the Bhagavad-gita. They forget that they are under the influence of the conditions of the external energy. As such, they worship the demigods motivated by a desire for material gain and develop an illusory attachment for such de- migods and thereby are thrown from the real path of progress– reaching the Personality of Godhead. Being attached thus, the worshipers of different demigods are forced to circumambulate the different spheres of the material world and undergo the rigors of repeated birth and death.

Those who aspire to reach the Personality of Godhead and thereby worship Him by loving service will certainly reach Him. The real explanation is that one gets the result of the quality of their worship, and all the results are not the same, as conceived by the mundane speculators. Those who aspire after the results of their religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and endeavors for salvation cannot expect to reach the same destination as the pure transcendental devotees. The result of religiosity is temporary happiness in the human life. The result of economic development is increased facility for sense gratification. And the result of sense gratification is frustration, which leads to the desire for liberation. The result of salvation is merging into the impersonal Brahman. But the result for the devotee of Sri Krsna is the attainment of the eternal service of the Personality of Godhead. The gulf of difference between these diverse results cannot be understood by the mundaners.

Mahamaya and Yogamaya

Mahamaya, the mother or source of this material world, and the delegated demigods are but diverse external energies or agencies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Under the direction of the Personality of Godhead, these agencies perform their respective functions in the administration of the universal laws. That is the information we have from the Bhagavad-gita, in which the Personality of Godhead declares that only under His direction does the material energy produce the material world, and the whole administration of the universes is thus controlled, ultimately by Him.

The internal energy of Godhead is different. That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita–there is another permanent energy of Godhead that is never destroyed, even after the annihilation of the whole cosmic manifestation. That internal energy is different from mahamaya and she is called yogamaya.

The permanent universe is the creation of yogamaya. Those who want unalloyed loving service to the Personality of Godhead must ask for the mercy of yogamaya. Those who want to satisfy their own senses or those who desire to become one with the impersonal Brahman because of being baffled by the pursuit of sense gratification worship mahamaya or the predominating demigods respectively.

The damsels of Vraja worshiped yogamaya to get the son of the King of Vraja as their husband or lover, while others within the system of material varnasrama-dharma worship mahamaya, the superintending Deity of the material world, to alleviate distress. There is a gulf of difference between the results of these two varieties of worship, and the attempt to equalize such diametrically opposed activities is like the jaundiced eye seeing everything as yellow. Such is the vision of the diseased person in ignorance.

The Name is Absolute

Sometimes a homely man is named "Cupid." In such a case, the name is without any significance. But this is never the case with the Personality of Godhead. Being the Absolute, all His different features are also absolute. There is no difference between Him, His names, and His features. He is known by different names. He is known as the impersonal Brahman, Paramatma, the Almighty Creator, Narayana, Gopinatha, Krsna, Govinda, and many other such names.

Although every name of the Absolute is absolute in itself, the worshiper of God as the Creator of the Universe cannot relish the same bliss as those who worship God as Narayana. "The Creator of the Universe" is the name preferred by materialistic people, as it is suitable for their sense gratification. The conception of ‘Creator’ does not fully represent the conception of Godhead. The creation is a function of Godhead’s external energy. If He is conceived of as the impersonal Brahman, we cannot get information about all of His potencies. His transcendental bliss, knowledge, qualities, and form are not fully represented in His impersonal feature. Paramatma is also not fully representative of the conception of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gita (18.61), Paramatma is described as localized Godhead in the heart of all living beings; He is only a partial representation of the Personality of Godhead, Narayana. Then again, the worshiper of Narayana also cannot relish the transcendental bliss experienced in the service of Sri Krsna.

Rasabhasa

The pure devotees of Sri Krsna do not wish to worship Narayana, in whose personality the transcendental mellowness of Sri Krsna is somewhat covered. The cowherd girls never address- ed Sri Krsna as "the husband of Rukmini." That would be intolerable for them. Rukmini-ramana and Sri Krsna may be the same Personality of Godhead in the opinion of the mundaners, but They cannot be equally relished. If someone mixes up both of the above out of sheer ignorance, that is a defect in relishing transcendental mellowness called rasabhasa. People who have some sense of the delicate transcendental nature of Godhead do not commit the mistake of rasabhasa like those who form the society of ignorant people.

Not Possible to Reciprocate

Although the Personality of Godhead reciprocates accordingly with the dealings of His different devotees in different stages of loving service, He has declared His inability to reciprocate with the dealings of the gopis, the damsels of Vraja who serve Him in the capacity of madhurya-prema. Addressing the damsels of Vraja, the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna said,

na paraye 'ham niravadya-samyujam
sva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vah
ya mabhajan durjaya-geha-srnkhalah
samvrscya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna

"My dear cowherd girls, your love for Me is spotlessly pure and it will not be possible for Me to reciprocate with the noble service you render to Me, not even in many future lives, because you have completely sacrificed the shackles of family life to come to Me. I am therefore unable to repay the debts I have incurred in accepting your love. You must therefore kindly be satisfied by your own deeds." (Bhag. 10.32.21)

The beauty of Sri Krsna increases in the association of the cowherd girls of Vraja, although Sri Krsna Himself is the last word in all beauty. This is confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.33.6):

tatratisusubhe tabhir
bhagavan devaki-sutah
madhye maninam haimanam
maha-marakato yatha

"Although the Personality of Godhead who is the son of Devaki is the last word in beauty, when He is in the midst of the cowherd girls of Vraja, He appears like the most valuable jewel set within a network of golden filigree."

Lord Caitanya was now completely satisfied by the statement of Ramananda Raya about madhurya-prema, which is the culmination of transcendental loving service relationships with the Personality of Godhead. Still, He expected something more from Ramananda and asked him to go still further. At this most extraordinary request of Lord Caitanya, Ramananda was astonished. He knew no devotee who could know more than this. But as expert as he was, Ramananda began to go still further by the mercy of Lord Caitanya.

The Topmost Servitor

Having already discussed the superexcellent qualities of the transcendental mellowness known as madhurya-prema and Sri Krsna’s inability to repay the service of the spotlessly pure-hearted cowherd girls of Vraja, Ramananda then proceeded further in the same line in an attempt to discuss the service rendered by Srimati Radharani, the topmost servitor among all the cowherd girls.

Sri Krsna, the Absolute Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the full-fledged ananda-cinmoya-rasa-ujjvala-vigraha: His eternal form fully displays transcendental existence, knowledge, and bliss by His own internal potency called the hladini-sakti. Srimati Radharani is the controlling Deity of that joyous energy of Godhead. The joyous nature of Sri Krsna’s energy and Sri Krsna Himself are identical, but They appear separately for the purpose of enjoying each other. Therefore, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna are two component parts of the same divine entity. Without Srimati Radharani, Krsna is incomplete; and without Sri Krsna, Radharani is incomplete. Thus these two cannot be separated from one another. They combine as one in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to fulfill this transcendental truth.

Most Magnanimous

It is very difficult to understand the lila of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, but Lord Caitanya is the most liberal, magnanimous, merciful, and willing benedictor of all living beings in this age of Kali. He is readily distributing the highest secret of the spiritual world and only requires that we accept it.

Lord Caitanya has provided us with the easiest way to receive His topmost gift. The first qualification is that one should at once discard the idea of sayujya-mukti or becoming one with the impersonal Brahman. The second qualification is that one should simply hear all these transcendental messages in a fully submissive mood from a person who is a bona fide devotee in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami’s disciplic succession. And the third and last qualification is that one be very pure in all one’s dealings in life, remaining unaffected by the infectious influence of the age of Kali.

A person who has all of these three simple qualifications will have phenomenal success in entering into the plane of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s unbounded mercy. Any deviation from the above-mentioned three qualities will completely close the door of entrance, regardless of how one may try to understand Him by the strength of one’s mundane acquisitions. Without the above three qualifications nobody can enter into Lord Caitanya’s lila. Those who have tried to enter into it neglecting the necessary qualities are known as aula, baula, karttabhaja, neda, sakhi-bheki, daravesa, sani, sahajiya, smarta, caste goswamis, ativadi, cudadhari, gaura†ga-nagari, and many others. Such persons may be considered worthless imitators of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila. Unfortunately, they are misleading the ignorant masses who are already condemned by the influence of Kali-yuga.

Not For Ordinary People

Srimati Radharani is the most important of all the gopis, and Her specific loving service is the highest expression of madhurya-prema. Therefore, it is better that the neophyte practitioners in the devotional field not try to understand the intimacies of Srimati Radharani’s confidential service. However, expecting that submissive and bona fide devotees will understand Srimati Radharani’s service in the future, these confidential discussions are described by Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami in his Caitanya-caritamrta.

Devotees who have been fortunate enough to rise to the spontaneous service of Godhead, raganuga-bhakti, and who have developed an attraction for madhurya-prema, may follow in the footsteps of the confidential associates of Srimati Radharani and their assistants called the manjaris.

The ecstasy that was felt by Srimati Radharani when She met Uddhava in Vraja in Her mournful mood of separation from Sri Krsna is personified in Lord Caitanya. Nobody should imitate Lord Caitanya’s transcendental feelings because it is impossible for a living being to reach that stage. However, at a stage of developed consciousness one can simply follow in His footsteps. These are the hints given by experienced and self-realized devotees in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami.

Distinguished Cowherd Girl

Ramananda Raya then explained a sloka from the Padma Purana:

yatha radha priya visnos
tasyah kundam priyam tatha
sarva-gopisu saivaika
visnor atyanta-vallabha

"Srimati Radharani is the most beloved cowherd girl of Sri Krsna. Not only Srimati Radharani, but the lake known as Sri Radha-kunda is as dear to Sri Krsna as Srimati Radharani Herself."

Ramananda Raya then quoted another sloka from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.30.28):

anayaradhito nunam
bhagavan harir isvarah
yan no vihaya govindah
prito yam anayad rahah

"My dear friends, the cowherd girl who has just been taken in privacy by Sri Krsna. leaving us all aside, must have rendered more valuable service to Him than ourselves."

Sri Radha is the specific name of the distinguished cowherd girl who has rendered the most obliging services to Sri Krsna. On hearing these two statements by Ramananda, Lord Caitanya felt an ecstasy of His own and said to Ramananda:

prabhu kahe—age kaha, sunite pai sukhe
apurvamrta-nadi vahe tomara mukhe

"Please continue. I am feeling too much happiness by your mode of explanation. It is something like a transcendental river of bliss flowing from your tongue." Lord Caitanya added:

curi kari' radhake nila gopi-ganera dare
anyapeksa haile premera gadhata na sphure

"Sri Krsna stole away Srimati Radharani because the nature of love that He had for Her was disturbed in the presence of the other gopis. If Krsna can give up the company of all other gopis for the sake of Srimati Radharani, I know that He is expecially attached to Her love."

When the transcendental pastime of rasa-lila continued, Sri Krsna thought that in the presence of all the gopis, confidential and secluded love affairs with Srimati Radharani would not be possible. He thought that in the presence of others the intensity of private love affairs could not be relished. For this reason, Sri Krsna abducted Srimati Radharani from within the assembly of all the other gopis and became separated from them all.

The Search of Sri Krsna

Ramananda Raya said that there is no comparison to Srimati Radharani's love within the universe. Srimati Radharani did not like to be equal with all the other gopis. Thus in a mood of erotic anger, She left the arena of the rasa-lila. It was the desire of Sri Krsna that Srimati Radharani fulfill His necessity for rasa-lila, but when She went away, Sri Krsna became disturbed and in a mood of moroseness He left the rasa-lila arena to search for Srimati Radharani. Ramananda Raya quoted two other slokas from the Gita-govinda (3.1,2):

kamsarir api samsara-
vasana-baddha-srnkhalam
radham adhaya hrdaye
tatyaja vraja-sundarih

itas-tatas tam anusrtya radhikam
ananga-vana-vrana-khinna-manasah
krtanutapah sa kalinda-nandini
tatanta-kunje visasada madhavah

"The enemy of Kamsa (Sri Krsna) became afflicted with the desire to liberate His parents Vasudeva and Devaki from imprisonment in Mathura and left the company of the beautiful damsels of Vraja, keeping Srimati Radharani within His heart."

"Being afflicted by the arrow of Cupid and unhappily regretting His mistreating Radharani, Madhava (Sri Krsna) began to search for Srimati Radharani along the banks of the Yamuna River. When He failed to find Her, he entered the bushes and began to lament.

All the above statements are of a very, very high standard of transcendental pastimes of the Personality of Godhead and may appear to be like the ordinary stories of a hero and heroine. The whole activity may also appear like the lusty behavior of ordinary men and women, but this is the foolishness of the mundane conception. The complete picture is of transcendental loving service to the Personality of Godhead by the pure senses, completely freed from mundane designations and cleansed of all mundane affairs. Only the highest devotee, who is absolutely purified by the regulative principles of devotional service and who has attained the stage of realizing the degraded nature of mundane erotic activities, can relish these supramundane affairs, although they are described in language that is understandable to the general populace.

The cheerfulness of Lord Caitanya in relishing the above statements by Ramananda Raya is the proof that they are the highest standard of transcendental expression. Therefore, readers should be careful not to bring these topics down to a level of mundane affairs.Ramananda Raya continued to explain that by a critical study of the above two slokas we can know that the rasa-lila is performed in the company of innumerable cowherd girls, but, in spite of this, the Personality of Godhead prefers to remain specifically with Srimati Radharani. Knowing this, a devotee’s heart becomes swollen with transcendental joy, which may be compared to a mine of nectar.

Hearing about all these transcendental love affairs, the hearts of experienced devotees are filled with an inexplicable supramun- dane joy. They feel that Sri Krsna is equally fond of all the gopis, but He is specifically attracted by the clever and often contradictory dealings of Srimati Radharani. Thus She contributes the most to the rasa-lila.

By Srimati Radharani’s Side

It is understood from the authoritative literatures, which describe the transcendental pastimes of Godhead, that in the arena of the rasa-lila dance, Sri Krsna distributed Himself in His innumerable prakasa expansions by keeping Himself between each of the cowherd girls. He also kept Himself by the side of Srimati Radharani. The prakasa expansions of His transcendental body are all identical, but the personality by the side of Srimati Radharani is His original form, svayam-rupa. Sri Krsna is equal to everyone in His general dealings, but due to the conflicting ecstatic love of Srimati Radharani there were opposing elements. This is described in the Ujjvala-nilamani as follows:

aher iva gatih premnah
svabhava-kutila bhavet
ato hetor ahetos ca
yunor mana udancati

"The curved ways of progressive love affairs appear like the movement of a snake. Further, two different kinds of anger, anger with a cause and anger without a cause, arise within the dealings of a young man and a young woman."

In pursuance of the above principles, Srimati Radharani in a mood of erotic anger left the arena of the rasa-lila with a feeling of devout attachment. Thus Sri Hari also became mad after Her and perturbed in His mind out of anger without cause. Sri Krsna’s desire was to enjoy the transcendental pastime of the rasa-lila in its fullness and the cornerstone of its whole construction was Srimati Radharani. Without Her presence, the rasa-lila is upset. Therefore, the absence of Srimati Radharani caused Sri Krsna to leave the arena and go in search of Her.

When Sri Krsna was unable to find Srimati Radharani after searching here and there, He became overwhelmingly afflicted by Cupid’s arrow and began to deeply lament on account of Her absence. This fact proves that the transcendental heart of Sri Krsna is not satiated even by His enjoyment in the midst of so many millions of other cowherd girls. As such, the intensity of His love for Srimati Radharani is impossible to describe.

All the above statements regarding the transcendental lila of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna profusely delighted Lord Caitanya and He became completely satisfied by His meeting with Ramananda Raya.

prabhu kahe—ye lagi ailama toma-sthane
sei saba tattva-vastu haila mora jnane
ebe se janilun sadhya-sadhana-nirnaya
age ara ache kichu, sunite mana haya
krsnera svarupa' kaha 'radhara svarupa'
‘rasa’ kon tattva, ‘prema’–kon tattva-rupa
krpa kari ei tattva kaha ta amare
toma-vina keha iha nirupite nare

Lord Caitanya said to Ramananda, "I have now come to know the truth of the lila of Sri Krsna and Srimati Radharani for which I approached you. I have understood the truth of the highest goal to be attained and also the means to attain it. Therefore, please explain the divine nature of Sri Krsna and also that of Srimati Radharani. Please also let me know the truth of the mellowness of supramundane love affairs. Nobody can explain all these except your good self. Therefore, I request you to do me this favor by your unbounded mercy."

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