The Meaning of Surrender to Krishna

Sep 19 2023 - Krishna Talk 246
The Meaning of Surrender to Krishna

A devotee is able to do wonderful things because he has surrendered, having transcendental faith in the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. We want to preach, and to do so, we see that there are so many necessities. We require capable people who can do things like operate machinery, manage finances, raise money etc. I was recently in the Vatican, and they’ve got all of that. If you see their desktop publishing, it is huge. They have so many facilities; they have wealth and management. But what they actually lack is surrender.

Traditionally, Kṛṣṇa’s most exalted devotees are very poor and they don’t have very much throughout their lives. But at a particular time, Kṛṣṇa seems to select them for some magnificent work. Of course, we don’t sit back and think that in the future Kṛṣṇa will select us. He Himself can do everything, but for us to do what He wants, surrender has to be there. 

For surrender to be there, śraddha has to be there. We have to give attention to the most essential things if we want to be successful. But if we give attention to the mundane side of things, that won’t bring any real success — mundane impurities, mundane morality, such things in the mundane world won’t bring any success. We have to give focus to spiritual necessity. Then we can make real progress avoiding the offenses. 

In this way, one passes the point where there is no more struggle against māyā. Māyā may be there from time to time. After all, this is her world and she is moving freely everywhere. But we may reach a point where there is no more struggle with her. In the beginning we are struggling in so many ways with māyā, but if we make progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness properly, then the struggle with māyā is finished. There is no more struggle.

To surrender to Kṛṣṇa directly, to surrender to the Holy Name, that is very difficult, almost impossible and not very pleasing to Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa has no necessity of that. However, there is a necessity to serve a Vaiṣṇava, to serve the representatives, Kṛṣṇa’s intimate devotees. That is an indispensable part of surrender. Kṛṣṇa by Himself has no necessity for service. His necessity is already fulfilled beyond our wildest imaginations or expectations. 

Śrīmati Rādhārāni is central to Kṛṣṇa’s happiness. It is said that Kṛṣṇa doesn’t derive any pleasure from a million gopīs, if Śrīmati Rādhārāni is not present. That is the actual situation in the rāsa-līlā

śata-koṭi-gopīte nahe kāma-nirvāpaṇa
tāhātei anumāni śrī-rādhikāra guṇa

Since Kṛṣṇa’s lusty desires were not satisfied even in the midst of hundreds of thousands of gopīs and He was thus searching after Śrīmati Rādhārāni, we can easily imagine how transcendentally qualified She is. (CC, Madhya Līlā, 8.116) 

So many liberated sages cannot understand who Rādhārāni is. She’s not even mentioned in the Bhāgavatam. But in the literature of the goswāmīs it is described. In Caitanya Caritāmṛta, Rāmānanda Rāya explains the situation that when Rādhārāni leaves the rasa dance, the whole rasa dance becomes void and Kṛṣṇa could not taste any rasa. 

Once I thought, if millions of gopīs in mādhurya-rasa could not provide even a drop of pleasure to Kṛṣṇa, what is a necessity of all these living entities? In which way they’ll give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa? Generally when we ask why do we exist, devotees say, to give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa. I thought, how is this possible? Why would Kṛṣṇa need a whole bunch of these living entities who are prone to falling down anyway? Why would He need them to increase His pleasure? Why do we exist? That was my question. I thought about it, discussed it with some other Vaiṣṇavas, and the reason I found was that we exist, not to directly serve Kṛṣṇa, but to serve His most intimate servitors in their line. Therefore surrender to Kṛṣṇa actually means to serve His devotees. Unless one gets connected with the line of those intimate servitors, how will one surrender?

In the beginning, we are interested in pleasing Kṛṣṇa, but as we make advancement, the focus goes to the representative of Kṛṣṇa. We please Kṛṣṇa through that representative. If we continue to progress, then Kṛṣṇa reveals something else. Whose representative is that representative, actually? He is not Kṛṣṇa’s representative. Kṛṣṇa does not represent any serving capacity. Śrīmati Rādhārāni represents the serving capacity. An advanced understanding means that Guru is a representative of Śrīmati Rādhārāni. This conception is only visible in the Gauḍīya saṁpradāya

Generally, people have some acquaintance with the Holy Name or some connection with Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books or Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāja’s books, or the Gauḍīya Math. This is propaganda work. There are many circles and we want to bring people towards the inner circles. Initially, their only contact may be the Holy Name or some literature. Through this, they may take some steps towards surrender. However, ultimately they will have to meet the doorman. We cannot enter Kṛṣṇa’s house without meeting the butler! 

Once while speaking to Govinda Mahārāja, he said, “We are all servants in Kṛṣṇa’s house. We are all within His family. Actually, Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a grihastha life, a family life.” I said, “Yes. And the Gurus are like the butlers.” The butler organizes all the other servants. The Guru is like a butler in Kṛṣṇa’s house. We cannot directly serve the master. All service goes to the butler. Of course, we don’t have that system here in India, but in England they used to have it. The butler is the head of all the servants of the house.

For us Kṛṣṇa Consciousness is very much an external affair. When we examine the śāstra, we’re only following those persons who have come here to preach. We are just following and repeating their words, trying to please them in some capacity. We are satisfied at this point with an appreciation of what they actually came to represent. Our rasa is just to appreciate who they are. So we came to know about all our ācāryas beginning with Rūpa Goswāmī. They’re all the handmaidens of Śrīmati Rādhārāni and they are exclusively Her devotees. 

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja tells us this story from Rādhā-kuṇḍa. The king of Bharatpur came and they were doing daṇḍavat-parikrama around Rādhā-kuṇḍa. One devotee came and informed Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta, “Oh, it is a wonderful thing. The king of Bharatpur has come and He’s doing daṇḍavat-parikrama around Rādhā-kuṇḍa. He must have great devotion for Śrīmati Rādhārāni.” Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta said, “Actually, their vision is just the opposite of ours. Their concern is with Kṛṣṇa, and they’ve heard that Rādhārāni is dear to Kṛṣṇa, so therefore they can give some respect to Rādhārāni. But ours is the opposite. Our only concern, our only business is with Śrīmati Rādhārāni, and we only care about Kṛṣṇa because She has some interest in Him.” We are called śuddha-śāktas for this reason. Now, that’s quite an internal stand. So internally, the highest standard is shown by Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Goswāmī, which is an exclusive devotion to Śrīmati Rādhārāni. One cannot imitate these types of feelings at all.

In the world of rasa, the internal world, in Vṛndāvana, who is actually in control? Vṛndāvana is Vṛnda-devī’s land and she gave it to Rādhārāni. Rādhārāni is the queen of Vṛndāvana. Vṛndāvana is not controlled by Kṛṣṇa, it is controlled by yoga-māyā, Purṇamāsī. It is not under Kṛṣṇa’s control. 

The other day I read a very interesting thing in an old Back to Godhead magazine. Śrīla Prabhupāda says that Kṛṣṇa is the counterpart of Śrīmati Rādhārāni — the other way around. He explains giving a purport and making an article out of the first verse of Bhakti-Rasāmṛta-Sindhu. He explains so many things as Śrīla Prabhupāda always does — preaching what is necessary for the conditioned soul. But then he just comes out and asks if we knew which side of the fence we were on. Then he says that Kṛṣṇa is the counterpart of Śrīmati Rādhārāni. So internally, it is like that. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s arrival prayer also shows this in his opening stanza. Of course, it was in Bengali, but he’s praying, “O brother! without the grace of Śrīmati Rādhārāni there is no service to Kṛṣṇa.” That’s his internal feeling. That is the internal identity of the jīva soul — jīvera svarūpa haya kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa. But which way is it kṛṣṇera nitya-dāsa (eternal servant of Kṛṣṇā)? gopī bhartur pada-kamalayor dāsa dāsānu-dāsa — servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of the maintainer of the gopīs (Śrī Kṛṣṇa).

The gopīs means the cowherd people of Vṛndāvana. Actually, all the rasas are aspects of mādhurya-rasa. They do not actually exist independently. That’s how you read the statement that even the blades of grass in Vṛndāvana feel mādhurya. This means that the śānta-rasa is just an aspect in the mādhurya-rasa, but mādhurya-rasa is the whole thing together. 

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja gave some enlightenment in that regard. He said that, actually when you see a picture of Kṛṣṇa somewhere else, other than with Śrīmati Rādhārāni, that is not the original Kṛṣṇa. When Kṛṣṇa performs all other aspects of the rasa, that’s called svayam-prakāśa, a very good expansion, but not the original one. The svayam-bhagavān, the svayam-rūpa, the original form, is in Vṛndāvana, next to Śrīmati Rādhārāni. For eternity He is with Śrīmati Rādhārāni. 

All these are internal things that we can glimpse from the heart of great devotees. It is not necessary to imitate great devotees, and we don’t really have any capacity to imitate them anyway. But there is a necessity to appreciate what is in the hearts of the great devotees. Just like the statement in the Back to Godhead which said Kṛṣṇa is the counterpart of Śrīmati Rādhārāni. Usually it is said the other way around because the dearmost truth cannot be openly expressed. It cannot be explained. 

It is evident in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s preaching that things which were most dear to his heart, he never mentioned. Who will he mention them to? But the presence of those things within him was evident from time to time when small indications were visible, if one knew what those indications were. For example, there’s one verse: dehi-pada-pallavam udāram, which Śrīla Prabhupāda quotes only once on record in 1977, and ten years before that, he apparently quoted that verse while telling the story about Jayadeva Goswāmī. The verse is very esoteric and not to be discussed freely. Only once did he mention where this verse came from. That means, he knows, he has heard, and he has discussed. But with who? With qualified persons. He never uttered these things in his preaching campaign. 

What is the time anyway? I’m used to sitting and talking for hours.

Devotee: You’re way over.

Śrīla Guru Mahārāja: Oh, I’m way over. Ok, sorry. In Vṛndāvana, we don’t have any time schedule. All right, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam ki jaya! Gaura-premānande hari hari bol! Hare Kṛṣṇa!

(This article is based on a talk given on 21st July 1994 in Efland, NC, USA. The talk was transcribed by Baladeva Dāsa)