HH RADHANATH SWAMI MAHARAJ
Lokanath Swami Maharaj made the service of fulfilling Prabhupada’s desire his life and soul:
With great happiness we sit at the lotus feet of Lokanath Swami Maharaj who has been a great inspiration for the Vraj Mandala Parikrama for many many years. Because Maharaj has made the service of the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada his life and soul, he was always eager to bring devotees together. Srila Prabhupada worked very hard to build temple in Mayapur dham and Vrindavan dham. And one of the special reasons for developing these projects were to bring devotees together from all over the world and create a united spirit of devotion dedicated to find the joy of associating with devotees through Harinam sankirtan, hari katha, Vaishnav seva and pushing forward the mission of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His Holiness Lokanath Swami Maharaj knows how deep Prabhupada’s desire was that there be unity among vaishnavas and therefore he worked so hard to try to create that all over the world.
Iskcon Braj Mandala Parikrama:
And this Iskcon Braj Mandala Parikrama is very special because devotees from all over the planet have come, I believe about 500, to walk for over a month through the twelve forests of Vrindavan. For those who are participating I would like to congratulate you for your good fortune and offer my gratitude to you for your sincerity.
His Holiness Lokanath Maharaj requested me to speak something about the place we are sitting today, Shri van. A beautiful explanation of the significance of this place is found in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu attracted people’s heart in the temple of Ranganath by doing Hari naam sankirtan:
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after taking sanyas left Puri for his south Indian tour. He was especially benevolent to give Harinam and Krishna prem to everyone and anyone who came in contact with him. He came to Shri Rangam the high seat of the Ramanuja Sampradaya. He went to the ancient and famous temple of Ranganath. In the presence of that beautiful deity of Lord Narayan, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu performed Harinam sankirtan. His beautiful golden form with long long arms raised high dancing ecstatically attracted people’s hearts. Just imagine the power of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They had not heard of who he is. But just by his beauty, his ecstatic love and compassion within a matter of hours hundreds and thousands of people from all the local areas gathered just to have his darshan. The ocean of Mahaprabhu’s compassion flooded everyone’s hearts. Soon there were literally hundreds and thousands of people with their arms raised with tears of love flowing from their eyes and loudly chanting the holy name Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare.
Venkata Bhatt invited Mahaprabhu to his home and sincerely served him throughout the four months of catur-masya:
A very pure hearted Brahman named Venkata Bhatt humbly begged Mahaprabhu to come to his home. Lord Chaitanya accepted his invitation. When he came to Venkata Bhatt’s house, Venkata Bhatt washed his lotus feet and then he drank the caranamrita and distributed it to all of his family members. With sincere love he invited Lord Chaitanya to remain in his house for the four months of catur-masya.
Venkata Bhatt would daily recite entire Bhagavad-gita and the scholars would tease him as he was illiterate:
There was a Brahman who every day would recite Bhagavad-gita in the courtyard of Ranganath temple. He was simple and inveterate. Shri Rangam was the high seat of the greatest scholars of the scriptures in all of South India. Every single day he would read the entire Bhagavad-gita throughout all eighteen chapters but he would not pronounce properly. Thus the other scholars would joke about him. They would laugh at him and sometimes they would even criticize him.
Mahaprabhu realizes that Venkata Bhatt is illiterate and he reads Bhagavad-gita daily just to follow his guru’s instructions:
But he continued reading everyday and tears of love would fill his eyes. One time Lord Chaitanya happened to see him. He asked what part of the Gita is bringing you so much happiness. The Brahman replied that actually I am illiterate. I recite but I don’t even know if I am saying it right or wrong. That is why people criticize and laugh because I do not have proper pronunciation. And as I am reciting I do not even know what these slokas mean. But my Gurumaharaj ordered me to read all eighteen chapters in this place every day. So I am trying to follow his instruction.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu becomes very pleased with Venkata Bhatt and explains how following the instructions of guru is more important than being a scholar:
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was very pleased. It is not by scholarship; it is not by austerities that we can understand the essence of the Vedas. Krishna himself tells how to understand Gita.
BG chapter 4 verse 34
tad viddhi pranipatena
We must submit ourselves to guru, hear from him submissively and execute his order through service. When the guru is pleased by our sincere effort then all knowledge is revealed.
yasya deve para bhaktir
Because this simple illiterate Brahman had faith in the words of his guru, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was very pleased and understood that he was a suitable candidate.
Venkata Bhatt constantly meditates upon Krishna’s form as the charioteer of Arjuna while reading Bhagavad-gita:
Lord Chaitanya enquired from him what is it that you are meditating on when you are reading the Gita. He said I don’t know what the words mean but as I am reading Gita constantly I am remembering the beautiful form of Krishna who has accepted the position of charioteer of Arjuna. In hand he is holding the reins to Arjuna’s horses and he is speaking the teachings of Gita. Krishna’s form is so beautiful, blackish like a rain cloud. Yes throughout my reading of gita I only see this beautiful dark form of Krishna, the beautiful form of Krishna within my heart.
Venkata Bhatt realizes that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is non-different from Krishna:
When Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu heard this he became ecstatic. Then Lord proclaimed whatever you know constitutes the real meaning of Bhagavad-gita. And then Mahaprabhu embraced him. And then the Brahman fell on Lord Chaitanya’s feet and the Brahman said I understand that beautiful blackish form of Krishna that is the object of all of my worship is now standing before me. Because of his simplicity and his faith in order of guru, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed that he was non-different than Krishna. But the Lord ordered the Brahman not to tell this secret to anyone. And for the next four months of caturmasya this simple Brahman was Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s constant associate.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asks Venkata Bhatt why Lakshmi Devi left Vaikuntha and performed tapasya to enter the rasa leela as he was devotee of Lakshmi-Narayan:
One day Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in a very joking mood spoke to Venkata Bhatt. Lord Chaitanya took note that he was a pure devotee of Lakshmi-Narayan. So the Lord said your Lakshmi is the goddess of fortune. She always resides on the chest of Lord Narayan. And she is the most chaste women in all of the creations. My Krishna is a Gopal. Why Lakshmi wants to associate with my Krishna? Lakshmi Devi, we read in the scriptures left Vaikuntha and performed many many years of austerities, performing regulative principles just to enter the rasa dance of my Krishna. Please tell me why?
Venkata Bhatt’s reply to the question:
Venkata Bhatt said there is no fault with my Lakshmi wanting to be with your Krishna because Narayan and Krishna are the persons. There is no difference between Narayan and Krishna. So your Krishna was perfectly appropriate for Lakshmi. But because my Lord in the form of Krishna has conjugal mellows with gopis and performs His rasa leela His pastimes are most sweet. Therefore it is quite natural that Lakshmi wants to see rasa leela.
Mahaprabhu asks why Lakshmi Devi was not allowed to enter the rasa leela but Venkata Bhatt is unable to answer:
So Lord Chaitanya replied whatever you say is true but why Lakshmi could not enter the rasa leela although the authorities of the Vedas were allowed to enter in the rasa leela. Why Lakshmi was not allowed? Venkata Bhatt said I am just an ordinary human being. I am very fallen and very ignorant. This is a very very high subject matter that I cannot understand. But I can understand that you are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So you please explain it to me.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains that one can enter the rasa leela only if we follow the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavan:
Lord Chaitanya spoke. He said one can only enter into the leela of Vrindavan if one follows the footsteps of the inhabitants of the planet called brajloka. Unless one follows the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavan there is no possibility of entering into Krishna’s Braj leela because the residents of Vrindavan they do not know that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They simply accept him as the son of Nanda Maharaj. They have spontaneous loving devotion to Krishna. They do not in any way know his opulences as the Supreme Lord.
The authorities of Vedas were allowed to enter into the rasa leela only after they took birth as girls in the family of gopis:
The authorities of the Vedas wanted to enter into Krishna’s leela. So they followed the footsteps of the gopis. But even then they were not allowed. But because of their sincerity and their prayers and worshiping the residence of Vrindavan they took birth as little girls in families of gopis and therefore they were allowed into the rasa leela.
Lakshmi Devi was not allowed because she was not willing to give up her opulent position and follow the footsteps of the gopis:
But your Lakshmi she was not willing to renounce her spiritual form as the goddess of fortune. She was not willing to give up her opulent position or her attraction for the opulent power of Narayan. Lord Chaitanya continued therefore she was not allowed into the rasa leela because she did not follow the footsteps of the gopis.
The gopis love Krishna unconditionally and they have attraction for no other thing than Krishna:
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all incarnation.
ete camsa-kalah pumsah krishnas tu bhagavan svayam
That of all other incarnation the origin is Krishna. He is the original source of all expansions, plenary portions. And Krishna has four qualities that are not to be found in Narayan. Therefore he is the supremely all attractive. Those four qualities are the intimate devotees he has in conjugal love and spontaneous affection who love Krishna unconditionally. Even loving him because he is a God is a condition. Their body, minds, words, life everything is surrendered to Krishna simply because he is their most intimate friend, child or lover. And Krishna’s pastimes are unlimitedly supremely attractive. And when he plays his flute it is so sweet that it charms the hearts of all the devotees. And Krishna’s beautiful threefold bending form is supreme. Lakshmi is attracted to Krishna. She leaves Vaikuntha and Narayan attracted to Krishna. But the gopis have no attraction for Narayan. That is the difference.
Mahaprabhu narrates the pastime of Krishna when he assumed the form of Narayan:
Then the Lord told the story near Govardhan when Radha, gopis and Shyamsundar were performing rasa leela and suddenly Krishna disappeared. And gopis were searching for him. And Krishna saw them coming. And he assumed the majestic form of Narayan holding the conch shell, the disc, the club and the louts flower. From a distance the gopis thought this is Krishna. And they were very very much excited and anticipating. But when they came closer and saw his form of Narayan the Braj gopis became depressed. And they were very very unhappy. They bowed down and with folded hands they begged Narayan please tell us where is Nandanandana. And with his four arms he said he went that way. So gopis ran to find Krishna. And in another place it is explained also that when Shri Radharani came Narayan form of Krishna he tried to maintain this disguise. But in the presence of the supreme of the supreme love of Shri Radharani two of his arms melted away.
After hearing everything from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Venkata Bhatt accepted the worship of Radha-Krishna:
And after explaining all of these things to Venkata Bhatt Lord Chaitanya said actually I am only joking with you. Narayan and Krishna are one and the same persons there is no difference. And Venkata Bhatt said I am just an ordinary living human being, very very fallen and ignorant. But by your mercy I now understand that Krishna is the supreme all attractive personality of Godhead. By your mercy today I will accept the worship of Radha and Krishna. And with tears and love in his eyes he fell at the feet of Mahaprabhu. And Lord Chaitanya picked him up and embraced him.
The entire family of Venkata Bhatt especially Gopal Bhatt Goswami became unalloyed vaishnavas just by associating with Mahaprabhu for four months:
We know the son of Venkata Bhatt little boy named Gopal. Those four months little Gopal was Lord Chaitanya’s personal servant. And in the Lord’s association ecstatic love of God awakened in his heart. The Lord revealed mystical transcendental darshans to little Gopal. Before leaving Shri Rangam he ordered Gopal your parents are both pure devotees. You should serve them as long as they live and then go Vrindavan to join Rupa and Santana. That little boy became the great Gopal Bhatt Goswami. And his uncle, the brother of Venkata Bhatt, he had two brothers Tirumalla Bhatt and the great Prabodhananda Saraswati. The whole family became unalloyed vaishnavas, the devotees of Radha and Krishna by the mercy of Lord Chaitanya.
Importance of Shri Van and why Lakshmi Devi was not allowed to cross Yamuna:
So this is the place, Shri Van where Lakshmi Devi was sitting, performing tapasya wanting to cross Yamuna to enter rasa leela. But because she is not willing to give up her post as the Goddess of fortune she is not willing to pick up cow dung paddies and put it on her head. She is not willing to milk cows and churn butter or churn yogurt. She is not willing to do the very very simple village chores of gopis. She is not allowed to cross the river to the rasa mandala. The Lakshmi sits in Belvan. She can witness the rasa leela. But she cannot enter. This is a very very important place in Shri Braj dham because here it is most gloriously explained and proven the ultimately supremacy of Braj leela, the supreme devotion of gopis and Shri Shri Radha Shyamsundar. We do not deserve to be here. And in a little while we will just take buses and cross Yamuna to the Rasa Mandala area leaving Lakshmi Devi here. This is too much inconceivable.
If we simply follow the footsteps of the Srila Prabhupada we can realize the highest treasures as he is a resident of Vrindavan:
But actually unless we follow the footsteps of the residents of Vrindavan we will not have the consciousness to actually enter into Vrindavan. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is a resident of Vrindavan. He has descended into this world. If we simply learn how to follow the footsteps of the six Goswami from Prabhupada’s instruction we can enter into the Braj leela by his causeless mercy. That is our faith and that is our hope. Thus when we come to Vrindavan our mood should be that we have come to speak, to act in such a way that we will please Srila Prabhupada. If we think we could make some independent plan to enter into Braj leela here in Vrindavan we have missed the essence. That simple Brahman understood everything about Krishna simply because of his gratitude and faith in following the order of his guru. By performing a Parikrama here in Vrindavan in such a mood that we are really trying to please Srila Prabhupada and follow his footsteps in how he is teaching us to follow the six goswamis then by Shri Radha Shyamsundar’s mercy we can realize the highest treasures. It is also called Belvan because Krishna would play many games with the Bel fruits here.
Let us offer our heads to the dust of this holy place and pray that we may always remain faithful servant of the servant of servant of Srila Prabhupada. In this way we are actually following the footsteps of residents of Vrindavan in real way and our lives will be successful. Thank you very much.
Srila Prabhupada ki jai!
If we simply follow Prabhupada’s teachings we can attain what even Lakshmi the Goddess of fortune is unable to achieve. So let us be grateful and reciprocate with this causeless mercy.
Jai Jai Shri Radhe Shyam!
Nitai Gaur Hari bol!