Sri Rukmini-dvadasi

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May 182024
 

Today is Rukmini-dvadasi, the appearance day of Srimati Rukmini-devi. There have been wonderful festivities all day, beginning with the special darshan of the Deities in Their flower outfits, and just now a wonderful abhiseka. During the abhiseka I really felt like I was in Vrindavan. There was so much devotion, spontaneous devotion—every time the pujaris poured another substance on the Deities, there would be gasps and cries of ecstasy and approval. It was wonderful. And that is life in Krishna consciousness: somehow being captivated by Krishna, the beauty of Krishna, manifest in His deity forms, His holy names, and His words and descriptions, the revealed scriptures. We want, somehow or other, to be absorbed in Krishna, and that absorption, encouraged by all these different activities, will cleanse the heart naturally and make us happy.

In terms of tattva (ontology), Krishna is the Absolute Truth. From Him everything emanates. He is the cause of all causes.

isvarah paramah krsnah
  sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah
  sarva-karana-karanam

“Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes.” (Brahma-samhita 5.1)

Once, on a morning walk here at Cheviot Hills Park, I asked Srila Prabhupada, “We say that Krishna is the origin of all, but sometimes people question us, ‘You say Krishna is the origin, but what is Krishna’s origin?’ What should we answer?” And Prabhupada replied, “You should tell them that according to our information, Krishna is the origin of everything and has no origin, but if you find someone or something that is the origin of Krishna, we will worship that person or thing—but until then you should worship Krishna.”

So, Krishna is the origin, but in terms of tattva, there are two basic categories: vishnu-tattva and shakti-tattva. Krishna is the source of all Vishnu forms, beginning with Balarama (Krishna’s first expansion), Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha—so many expansions on the side of the energetic (Vishnu). Similarly, there are so many expansions on the side of the energy (shakti), and the first is Srimati Radharani. From Her expand so many gopis in Vrindavan, so many queens in Dvaraka, and so many Lakshmis in Vaikuntha.

krsna-kanta-gana dekhi tri-vidha prakara
  eka laksmi-gana, pure mahisi-gana ara
vrajangana-rupa, ara kanta-gana-sara
  sri-radhika haite kanta-ganera vistara

“The beloved consorts of Lord Krsna are of three kinds: the goddesses of fortune, the queens, and the milkmaids of Vraja, who are the foremost of all. These consorts all proceed from Radhika.” (Cc Adi 4.74–75)

Of all Krishna’s queens in Dvaraka, Rukmini-devi is the principal. Ultimately, she is an expansion of Srimati Radharani. All of Rukmini’s qualities are present in Radharani, though Radharani manifests some qualities that Rukmini doesn’t. Continue reading »

Sri Sita-navami

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May 152024
 

Today is Sita-navami, the appearance day of Srimati Sitadevi, the eternal consort of Lord Ramachandra. She appeared as the daughter of King Janaka, one of the twelve mahajanas, great authorities in Krishna consciousness, and thus one of her names is Janaki. In Valmiki’s Ramayana, Sita is said to have been discovered in a furrow in a ploughed field believed to now be the city of Sitamarhi in the Mithila region of present-day Bihar, and for that reason she is regarded as a daughter of Bhumi Devi (the goddess earth).

 To begin, we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Nine: “Lord Caitanya’s Travels to the Holy Places.”

TEXT 2

jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda

TRANSLATION

All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda Prabhu! All glories to Sri Advaita Prabhu! And all glories to all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu!

TEXT 178

daksina-mathura aila kamakosthi haite
tahan dekha haila eka brahmana-sahite

TRANSLATION

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu arrived at southern Mathura from Kamakosthi, He met a brahmana.

TEXTS 179–193

The brahmana who met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu invited the Lord to his home. This brahmana was a great devotee and an authority on Lord Sri Ramacandra. He was always detached from material activities.

After bathing in the river Krtamala, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to the brahmanas house to take lunch, but He saw that the food was unprepared because the brahmana had not cooked it.

Seeing this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “My dear sir, please tell Me why you have not cooked. It is already noon.”

The brahmana replied, “My dear Lord, we are living in the forest. For the time being we cannot get all the ingredients for cooking.

“When Laksmana brings all the vegetables, fruits, and roots from the forest, Sita will do the necessary cooking.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very satisfied to hear about the brahmanas method of worship. Finally the brahmana hastily made arrangements for cooking.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took His lunch at about three o’clock, but the brahmana, being very sorrowful, fasted.

While the brahmana was fasting, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked him, “Why are you fasting? Why are you so unhappy? Why are you so worried?”

The brahmana replied, “I have no reason to live. I shall give up my life by entering either fire or water.

“My dear sir, Mother Sita is the mother of the universe and the supreme goddess of fortune. She has been touched by the demon Ravana, and I am troubled upon hearing this news.

“Sir, due to my unhappiness I cannot continue living. Although my body is burning, my life is not leaving.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “Please do not think this way any longer. You are a learned pandita. Why don’t you consider the case?”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “Sitadevi, the dearmost wife of the Supreme Lord Ramacandra, certainly has a spiritual form full of bliss. No one can see her with material eyes, for no materialist has such power.

“To say nothing of touching Mother Sita, a person with material senses cannot even see her. When Ravana kidnapped her, he kidnapped only her material, illusory form.

“As soon as Ravana arrived before Sita, she disappeared. Then just to cheat Ravana she sent an illusory, material form. Continue reading »

Mother Arca-vigraha’s Disappearance Day

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May 132024
 

Today is a most auspicious occasion. Mother Arca-vigraha was a very special devotee, and she really gave everything to Srila Prabhupada and Krishna and the devotees. I think of the verse akamah sarva-kamo va, moksa-kama udara-dhih/ tivrena bhakti-yogena, yajeta purusam param, that akamah, whether one has no desires, sarva-kamo; or is full of desires, moksa-kama; or is desirous of liberation, tivrena bhakti-yogena, if one engages in bhakti-yoga to Krishna, tivrena, with great intensity—that is a very important point: with great intensity, and in a sense it doesn’t even matter what your service is, but if you give yourself to it fully, if you put your heart into it fully—then you can approach the Supreme Lord, the supreme destination.

akamah sarva-kamo va
  moksa-kama udara-dhih
tivrena bhakti-yogena
  yajeta purusam param

“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he is full of all material desire, is free from material desire, or has a desire for liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (SB 2.3.10)

Mother Arca-vigraha did that, and in a way, she was helped in the end by her pain—intense, difficult pain—because the only thing that gave her relief was hearing and chanting about Krishna. His Holiness Bhakti Bhrnga Govinda Swami Maharaja recounts an incident when he went in to see Arca in her room and she was literally crying in pain. Arca was a very strong woman, and she never complained, but she was in so much pain that she couldn’t control herself, and she was weeping, and Govinda Maharaja began to speak krsna-katha, about the pastimes of Krishna to her, and miraculously she stopped feeling the pain. She started to smile and laugh and enjoy the hearing and remembering of Krishna. So, she had discovered a secret: that as long as she was absorbed in Krishna, she could pretty much transcend the pain, but as soon as she was lax in remembering Krishna, the pain came back in full force. So, her pain actually helped her. Continue reading »

Happy Mother’s Day

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May 122024
 

“There are very exalted spiritual understandings in Krishna consciousness. They are not fictional, imaginary, or concocted. They are facts, and every devotee can have the privilege to understand and indeed take part in Krishna’s pastimes if he is actually advanced. We should not think that the privilege given to Mother Yasoda is not available to us. Everyone can have a similar privilege. If one loves Krishna as one’s child, then one will have such a privilege, because the mother has the most love for the child. Even in this material world, there is no comparison to a mother’s love, for a mother loves her child without any expectation of return. Of course, although that is generally true, this material world is so polluted that a mother sometimes thinks, ‘My child will grow up and become a man, and when he earns money, I shall get it.’ Thus there may still be some desire to get something in exchange. But while loving Krishna there are no selfish feelings, for that love is unalloyed, free from all desires for material gain.”

“You should not expect anything in return. That is real love. Just like a mother is loving her child, not expecting any return. But she still she gives service. So, that is as a little sample of pure love.”

—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.31, April 23, 1973, Los Angeles, and room conversation, July 13, 1976, New York

Hare Krishna.

Your grateful servant,
Giriraj Swami

Aksaya-tritiya

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May 092024
 

The day known as Aksaya-tritiya occurs on the third day (tritiya) of the waxing moon in the month of Vaisakha. Every second of this blessed day is completely auspicious, and so there is no consideration of any one period (muhurta) being better than another. Aksaya means “inexhaustible”—anything a devotee undertakes on the day of Aksaya-tritiya is bound to succeed, especially the performance of devotional activities, which guarantee inexhaustible benefit.

It is said that Aksaya-tritiya is the day when Treta-yuga began and the river Ganges descended to earth. Also, the festival known as Candana-yatra starts on Aksaya-tritiya.

In the Madhva-sampradaya, Aksaya-tritiya is celebrated as the day of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Parasurama. In the Sri Krishna Mutt monastery a special festival takes place during which the aksaya-patra, the marvelous pot gifted by the sun god to Draupadi, is worshipped. Srimati Draupadi was given the benediction that her pot would provide unlimited food at each meal, until she herself ate from it. It appears that the pot came under the custody of Sri Madhvacharya, and on Aksaya-tritiya it is worshipped and prasada is lavishly distributed throughout the day.

An interesting incident took place on Aksaya-tritiya in Nandagrama, where Sri Krishna enjoyed His childhood pastimes with Nanda Maharaja and Mother Yasoda. When Nanda Maharaja established his residence there, he excavated a large lake, then known as Nanda Sarovara. Nanda Maharaja, his family members, and all the Vraja-vasis used to bathe in that lake. And it is said that while Nanda Maharaja and his family bathed at one end of the lake, Vrsabhanu Maharaja would occasionally come and bathe with his family at the other end. And according to local tradition, Srimati Radharani and Krishna used to swim underwater to the middle of the lake and engage in pastimes.

One day, little Krishna noticed that instead of cooking the usual meal of rice, dal, sabji, and chapatis, Mother Yasoda was making all kinds of fried preparations with dal, noodles, and flour. When Krishna asked her why she was cooking those things, she replied that Nanda Maharaja was going on a pilgrimage the next day and that the fried things she was cooking would last for several days without spoiling.

Krishna then asked where His father was going, and Mother Yasoda replied that he was going to Prayaga. So, Krishna went to Nanda Maharaja and asked him where Prayaga was and why he was going there. Nanda Maharaja explained that Prayaga was the sacred place where the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati met and flowed together and that to take bath there was most auspicious.

The next morning was Aksaya-tritiya, the perfect day to start on a long journey. As usual, Nanda Maharaja got up early and went to take bath in his lake. When he got there, however, he saw a man he had never seen before—an imposing, regal person—rolling in the dust and laughing loudly. Every now and then he would get up and dive into Nanda Sarovara, and then again he would come out and roll in the dust and laugh, and again bathe in the lake.

Nanda Maharaja approached the kingly man and asked, “Maharaja, who are you?”

“Baba, I’m Prayaga,” the man replied.

“Prayaga? I don’t know anyone in Nandagrama with that name.”

“No. No. I’m not from here. I’m Prayaga Raja, the king of all the holy places (tirthas)!”

“And why have you come here today, Maharaja?”

“Baba, all year long people come and bathe in my waters and leave their sins there. So, every year, on Aksaya-tritiya, I come here, roll in the dust of Vraja, and bathe in this sarovara, because this dust and this lake have the potency to purify (pavana) one from all sins.”

Nanda Maharaja was amazed. Suddenly he noticed that on the other side of the lake were many beautiful ladies in silk saris embroidered with gold and silver threads. They were also bathing in the lake. Approaching them respectfully, Nanda Maharaja asked who they were.

One lady replied, “Baba, I’m Ganga.” Another said, “I’m Sarasvati.” And yet another said, “I’m Godavari.” They all responded with the names of different holy rivers: Kurujangala, Kaveri, Narmada, Brahmaputra, Mahananda, etc.

Then Nanda Maharaja asked, “And why have you come here today? I’ve never seen you before.” The ladies explained that all year long people put their sins into their waters and that every year on the Aksaya-tritiya day they came to Vraja to roll in its dust, bathe in the sarovara, and become purified (pavana).

After taking his bath, Nanda Maharaja went back up the hill to his residence. By that time, little Krishna was awake. Coming before His father, He asked, “Baba, are you going now?” “No, Lala. I’m not going.” “Why, Baba?” “Because today, all the places I wanted to go came to take bath in our lake and become purified (pavana). So why should I take the trouble to go to them when they all came here?”

And from that day, Nanda Sarovara became known as Pavana Sarovara.

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