For Balarama Rasa-yatra, we shall read from Srila Prabhupada’s summary study of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, called Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead—about Lord Balarama’s visit to Vrindavan after He and Krishna had been away from Vrindavan for many years.
In our meditation on the deity of the Lord, we begin from His lotus feet and then gradually progress upward to His ankles, knees, thighs, waist, navel, chest, neck, and face. Srimad-Bhagavatam is also a form of the Lord, and so we begin its study with its lotus feet, which are the First and Second Cantos, and gradually progress upward until we get to the Tenth Canto, which is compared to the Lord’s smiling face. The topics in the Tenth Canto are very elevated and can actually be fully appreciated only by liberated souls—because Krishna’s pastimes with His pure devotees are enacted on the liberated platform—but on special occasions like Balarama Rasa-yatra we do explore such topics.
Some years ago I was in Vrindavan at this time, tending to a disciple, Arca-vigraha dasi, who was preparing to leave her body. Many senior devotees would come every day and read to her, discuss with her, and chant for her, and on this particular occasion I read the same pastime—about Lord Balarama’s visit to Vrindavan—from both the Tenth Canto and the Krsna book. The basic features of the pastime are the same in both texts, though there are little differences in terms of details and revelations of insights into the pastime. Today I shall read from the Krsna book, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead—Chapter Sixty-Five: “Lord Balarama Visits Vrndavana.”
Lord Balarama became very anxious to see His father and mother in Vrndavana. Therefore, with great enthusiasm He started on a chariot for Vrndavana. The inhabitants of Vrndavana had been anxious to see Krsna and Balarama for a very long time. When Lord Balarama returned to Vrndavana, all the cowherd boys and the gopis had grown up; but still, on His arrival, they all embraced Him, and Balarama embraced them in reciprocation. After this He came before Maharaja Nanda and Yasoda and offered His respectful obeisances. In response, Mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja offered their blessings unto Him. They addressed Him as Jagadisvara, or the Lord of
the universe who maintains everyone. The reason for this was that Krsna and Balarama maintain all living entities. And yet Nanda and Yasoda were put into such difficulties on account of Their absence. Feeling like this, they embraced Balarama and, seating Him on their laps, began their perpetual crying, wetting Balarama with their tears. Lord Balarama then offered His respectful obeisances to the elderly cowherd men and accepted the obeisances of the younger cowherd men. Thus, according to their different ages and relationships, Lord Balarama exchanged feelings of friendship with them. He shook hands with those who were His equals in age and friendship and with loud laughing embraced each one of them.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
There are many points in just this one paragraph. First, Lord Balarama offers obeisances to Nanda and Yasoda, who are playing the roles of His parents, and they in turn offer their blessings to Him—yet they referred to Him as Jagadisvara, the Lord of the universe. It appears contradictory that the Lord of the universe is offering obeisances to Nanda and Yasoda, and that they are offering blessings to Him. But in transcendental pastimes, there are two considerations: rasa and tattva. Rasa means the transcendental mellows exchanged between the Lord and the devotee in a loving relationship, and tattva means their existential positions. Although in terms of tattva, Balarama is the Personality of Godhead, visnu-tattva, and Nanda and Yasoda are devotees, in terms of rasa, in terms of their transcendental relationship, Nanda and Yasoda are in the position of parents to Balarama and Krishna (vatsalya-rasa).
They had nine children. In order to support the large family after her husband’s early demise, Mother Purnamasi held three jobs: at a creche in the morning, at the local Gujarati school as a teacher between 2 and 5 p.m., and doing tuitions from 5:30 to 9.
The creche was in a two-story building on Victoria Street in Durban. On the first floor, the newly arrived Hare Krishna devotees had a preaching center. His Holiness Partha Sarathi das Goswami, then a brahmachari, recalled that Mother Purnamasi was the first devotee he met in 1974.
She soon started serving the devotees by taking bhoga and little gifts for them. The devotees also performed sankirtana in the courtyard of the house where we lived in Durban. In 1975 they invited Mother Purnamasi to the City Hall to attend Srila Prabhupada’s lecture, and she brought back a copy of Back to Godhead (BTG).
A few years later, Maharaja visited our new home, in the Woodhurst section of Chatsworth, and made me a life member. He also had a tent program near our flat. Afterwards, the devotees started a nama-hatta program at a Woodhurst primary school, and we started attending regularly.
After the Sri Sri Radha-Radhanath temple opened in 1985, Mother Purnamasi started serving at the Govinda’s restaurant, and she also worshipped her Sri Sri Radha-Damodara, Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladeva, and Lady Subhadra, and Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurahari at home.
She was very inspired by His Holiness Giriraj Swami and soon took initiation from him. They developed a loving, friendly relationship. She loved cooking for him. She had implicit faith in guru and Krishna, was very serious about her devotional practices, and very carefully tried to avoid offenses. In her Vyasa-puja offerings, she sometimes implored fellow disciples to avoid causing offenses, as they would in turn affect Guru Maharaja’s well-being.
She developed such a strong attachment for Guru Maharaja and his service that she would cry, saying, “I just want to see my guru maharaja’s smiling face. I just want to cook once more for him.” She would cry, “I am so insincere that despite my repeated prayers, my desires remain unfulfilled.” Thus lamenting in deep separation, she left her body on the Ekadasi following Sri Rama-navami in April 2003.
—Nama Cintamani Dasi