A Few Words on the Rasa of Srila Prabhupada and the ‘Suicide Squad’

Mar 17 2019 - Krishna Talk 219

sri radhika priyankari, sri karttiki-masa bari
giri-raja hrdayete smari
tinho aprakata haila, nitya-lila pravesila
raje yeta radha-sange hari

“Completing his missionary activities in the western world, Srila Prabhupada returned to Vrndavana. Accepting the month of Karttika, which is non-different from Srimati Radharani, bearing Giriraja-Govardhana in mind and embracing the lotus feet of his most worshipful Lord in the core of his heart, Srila Prabhupada made his disappearance from this world and entered the nitya-lila, the eternal loving pastimes of Goloka where Lord Govinda is always effulgently present with His dear-most Srimati Radharani.”

ei pantha pradarsane, siksa dila amagane
kon vastu-siddhi laksya haiya
kari vasa govardhane, dainya atma-nivedane
labha sri radhika-ganasraya

“By showing us his disappearance from this world in the month of Karttika and by revealing his desire to go to Govardhana Hill, Srila Prabhupada has thus shown us the path which leads to the fulfillment of the ultimate aim and object of life — that is, to obtain supreme shelter in the camp of Srimati Radharani’s associate-servants with humble surrender, residing always at Sri Govardhana.” (Srila Prabhupada Lila-Smarana-Mangala-Stotram 19-20)

Some devotees have misunderstood that I am definitively referring to Srila Prabhupada in the last verse as being in madhurya-rasa because of the words, labha sri radhika-ganasraya, to obtain supreme shelter in the camp of Srimati Radharani’s associate-servants. However, what is meant is that Srila Prabhupada is a dear and affectionate servant amongst the associate servants of Sri Radha, the Supreme Commander and Chief, who oversees all services to Lord Govinda, both in this life and the next. As Srila Prabhupada has said:

“Guru is serving under his master and you all can do likewise. In nitya-lila every devotee thinks like that, that my master is the most dear to Radha-Krsna.” (Conversation with Hrsikesananda)

As regards opinions about Srila Prabhupada’s rasa in Goloka, the most qualified person to speak about this in my opinion would be Prabhupada himself, “My Guru Maharaja’s rasa is that of gopi, manjari, but I am in relationship with Krsna as cowherd boy.” (Seattle, 1968 Conversation with Govinda Dasi)

 The following is confirmation by Srila Sridhara Maharaja upon hearing our Guru Maharaja’s poem, ‘Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna’:

“He has expressed himself, his eternal position, the acme of his aspiration. In Vrndavana he has established Balarama and Krsna and Nitai-Gaura, and he is saying like that, Nitai-Gaura are Krsna and Balarama. It is almost clear that he comes from that group. And now he is again there.”

Such a statement by Srila Sridhara Maharaja is not to be taken lightly. Even so, a short time later some of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples raised an objection to Srila Sridhara Maharaja referring to Srila Prabhupada as being in sakhya-rasa. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was shocked by the immaturity of those devotees. The consideration of rasa was obviously not a topic that those disciples were familiar with. Indeed, their harshness in dealing with Srila Sridhara Maharaja reflected their extreme neophyte state of Krsna consciousness.

At that time, Srila Sridhara Maharaja said that because of the special empowerment of Sri Niyananda Prabhu, our Guru Maharaja may have couched his madhurya tendencies in deference to Him.

I have written in the article “My Guru is Radharani” that Srila Prabhupada was in madhurya-rasa because he saw his guru as Srimati Radharani. Srila Sridhara Maharaja confirms this as follows:

“Swami Maharaja (our Prabhupada) has clearly written that his guru is Radharani. It is there — “Krsna, Radharani will be pleased if You help me in this campaign” — e-punya karibe yabe radharani khusi habe dhruva ati bali toma tai. So he has admitted that his guru is Radharani. So we aspire after the service of Radharani under the direction of Sri Rupa and other devotees, not committing any wrong."

"In general rasa, general service of Krsna, he preached in the West. Though he knew and admitted that, “My guru is Radharani. Radharani, my gurudeva, has ordered me to preach in the west and Krsna, my friend, You are to help me, because Radharani will be satisfied, my Gurudeva. Your bigness is also like that. So, You must come to help me."

For some devotees, Srila Prabhupada is seen as being in madhurya-rasa, for others as being in sakhya-rasa, some even claim to know his name and svarupa, and yet for others ‘the jury is still out.’ In any case, His Divine Grace seems to have been of a class of devotees that Srila Sridhara Maharaja sometimes called the ‘suicidal squad’.

“The highest is, wherever You are pleased to put me, I am satisfied with that. That is the highest. But conditional devotion must keep on your side. That is some conditional that is of a little lower order. Salokya, sarupya, samipya, sasti - some sort of desire, self-pushing. Pushing the self towards Him, selfishness. “I am under Your full control. Whatever You want to do it will satisfy me. If You want to throw me down to the Hell - yes, do that! I am ready. By Your order I can do anything. Make or marr — marobi rakhobi jo iccha tohara. You have every right over me.” Such quality devotion and dedication is necessary.’

“Actually, such kinds of devotee - they are of the first rank. The 'suicidal army' - 'suicidal squad.” (meeting with Tamala-Krsna Goswami and Satvarupa Goswami in Navadvipa, March 7, 1981)

A possible solution to the question of Srila Prabhupada’s rasa may be found in Jaiva Dharma, chapter 21 wherein Vijaya-kumara sees his guru, Raghunatha Dasa Babaji, as a manifestation of Lalita-devi in madhurya-rasa, whereas Vrajanatha sees Raghunatha Dasa Babaji as a manifestation of Subala in sakhya-rasa. Both devotees saw their guru in relationship to their own rasa with Krsna.

“Vrajanatha was inspired upon seeing the good fortune of Vijaya-kumara and Raghunatha Dasa Babaji’s demonstration of compassion, so he said to Raghunatha Dasa Babaji, “Maharaja, whenever I meditate upon the pastimes of Krsna, an urge to serve Krsna under the guidance of Subala strongly compels me.”’

“Raghunatha Dasa Babaji said, “What devotional service attracts you most?”’

“Vrajanatha replied, “Together with Subala, I imagine myself to be running after the straying calves of Krsna’s herd and bringing them back to the fold. Krsna sits there playing his flute, and Subala, sitting next to Krsna, then asks me to take the calves for feed and water and afterwards bring them back to Krsna.”’

“Raghunatha Dasa Babaji said, “I bless you to serve Krsna under the direction of Subala. You are eligible for sakhya-rasa.”’

“Then a miracle happened, from that moment on Vijaya’s heart throbbed with anticipation, waiting for the slightest indication to perform any service for Lalita-devi. He saw Raghunatha Dasa Babaji with a new understanding — as a manifestation of Lalita-devi in person….”’

“On the other hand, Vrajanatha saw his guru, Raghunatha Dasa Babaji, from that moment on as a manifestation of Subala.”” (Jaiva Dharma of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Ch-21, Translation by Sriman Sarvabhavana Dasa)

So what is Srila Prabhupada’s eternal rasa in Goloka? Some may know, some may not know, but in any case what should be my requirement/qualification as a disciple of His Divine Grace? To answer my own question, in a word, I would say, “Selflessness” and I repeat these words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja as my prayer at the lotus feet of our Divine Master - “I am under Your full control. Whatever You want to do it will satisfy me. If You want to throw me down to the Hell - yes, do that! I am ready. By Your order I can do anything. Make or marr — marobi rakhobi jo iccha tohara. You have every right over me.”

When the disciple is qualified, the guru will appear and all that is knowable will automatically be known to the disciple.

yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah

“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.23)

To have realized the eternal rasa and status of one’s guru, or one’s own eternal rasa with Krsna, is certainly an exalted state of Krsna consciousness, and with certainty one can say that such realizations are an intimate part of one’s bhajana. According to the core Gaudiya Vaisnava scriptures composed by Sanatana Goswami, Jiva Goswami and Narrottama Dasa Thakura, such intimacies are better kept secret — not to be told here and there for the public ears, and certainly not to be forced upon others.

gopayed devatam istam, gopayed gurum atmanah
gopayec ca nijam mantram, gopayen nija-malikam

“One should hide one's worshippable Deity, one should hide one's guru, one should hide one's mantra, and one should hide one's japa-mala.” (Sanatana Goswami, Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.147)

atra ca sri guroh sri bhagavato va prasada labdham sadhana sadhyagatam sviya sarvasva
bhutam yat kim api rahasyam tat tu na kasmaicit prakasaniyam

“Whatever confidential experiences are obtained in connection with ones sadhana and the goal awarded by the mercy of Sri Guru or the Lord, that is one's own wealth and should not be revealed to anyone.” (Jiva Goswami, Bhakti Sandarbha 339)

apana bhajana katha, na kahibo yatha tatha
ihate haibo savadhana

“I will be careful not to reveal my own bhajana here and there." (Narottama Dasa Thakura, Prema Bhakti Candrika 119)