Radhanath Swami: I am very grateful to everyone for coming today. We heard from His Holiness Devamrita Swami Maharaj and His Holiness Bhakti Sundar Goswami Maharaj about this great treasure of life in the form of the opportunity to serve. I’ll speak just few minutes on this subject. Interestingly, when we speak about transcendental life, there are so many apparent contradictions. Because in order to be a servant, you have to be a master and in order to be a real master, you have to be a servant. Does that make sense? In conditioned life, we are all serving the demands of the senses and the demands of the mind. We are walking down the street, we see something, the eyes are attracted or actually, the eyes don’t get attracted, the eyes just see it and then that impulse goes to the mind and the mind is attracted and immediately the mind responds by either accepting it or rejecting – either ‘I want this’ or ‘I don’t want this.’ And then the intelligence comes in, power of discrimination. The intelligence can decide ‘is this good for me?’ or ‘is this not good for me?’ If it’s not good for me, the intelligence will tell the mind and the senses ‘no, don’t do it. Go somewhere else.’ And if the intelligence is attracted, I mean, if the intelligence discriminates that ‘this is something good’, then no matter how difficult it is, you should work and you should do it. Let’s take an example. You are walking down the street and you smell something very nice. And you know it’s just.. Just registers it and then it goes to the mind and the mind says, ‘Aha! I have to have, I have to have this. It just smells so good!’ and it’s a bakery with nice sweets and then your intelligence tells you, ‘prabhu, you have diabetes. You shouldn’t eat these sweets.’ That’s the intelligence. But the mind says, ‘I want it’ and because of the mind, the senses are saying ‘I need it’ and the intelligence is saying ‘no, don’t do it.’ Now, good intelligence takes the mind and the senses and directs it away from that situation. To eat some karela, some… good for diabetes, bitter melon. But if the intelligence comes under the influence of the mind and the senses, then the intelligence will figure out the way to get it. It will discriminate and then figure out the way to get it. Real intelligence, according to the Gita, is intelligence that follows the dictation of the atma, or the soul. The real needs of you and me. You have a car and car needs oil and gasoline. And if you really identify with the car, you think ‘let me drink oil and gasoline.’ But your intelligence tells you, ‘no, you need a different type of food.’ The atma, the soul is thirsting for pleasure. Why? Because it’s sac-cid-ananda. It’s nature is eternal, full of knowledge and full of pleasure. But when we forget the inner pleasure of the heart, that treasure that the two goswamis were talking about, then we search for that pleasure through the mind and senses.
Prema Vs Kama
But as Devamrita Maharaj was saying, everything that we experience through the mind and the senses is dukhalayam ashashvatam, it’s temporary. It will be destroyed. It will end in course of time, all these things that we are attached to. Being attached to people means being attached to the source of life, the soul. Being attached to bodies are being attached to things. Yes? We may think that ‘I am in love with someone.’ But are you in love with something or are you in love with someone? The mind is a thing, the body is a thing. Because at the time of death, where are they? They are just things. It’s the life force, the source of life, the atma, the soul, the jiva that is the one, the person. So to ‘love someone’ really means to love the soul and that person and it’s practical. Even your own mother or father, if they die, there is not much love for the dead corpse, there is love for the person that has left that body. What are the needs of the soul? The soul is hungry for pleasure. Why? Because it’s sac-cid-ananda. It’s eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. And what is that pleasure? Pleasure of prema or love. That is the only food that actually gives satisfaction to the heart. To love and to be loved. So when our intelligence is being guided by the actual needs and wants of the soul, then our life is directed toward the highest liberation. But when our intelligence is guided by the mind and senses against the actual wants and needs of the soul, it leads us to so many karmic situations and the perpetuations of illusion.
Real wealth is that which brings fulfillment
So lord Chaitanya explained as the maharajas told, jivera svarupa hoy krsnera nitya das. The greatest treasure of all treasures is to serve on the transcendental platform. But in order to actually serve with love, in order to be a servant, a das, you have to become a master over your mind and senses. So you have to be a master to be a real servant. And in order to be… I (38:18)…. stop by the way I speak. At the same time, in order to master your senses and mind, it is through service. And this is what yoga is. Really yoga means in essence to reconnect our consciousness back to its original spiritual nature. To clean the mind and to clean the senses and bring them in harmony again with the atma or the soul. But in order to do so, it’s very important to be convinced of what real wealth is. Things are not real wealth. Divine experience – that’s real wealth; because it brings fulfillment. Krishna tells in Gita, ‘a really intelligent person is someone who is illumined within, who rejoices within, who finds unlimited satisfaction within.’ And we find the greatest people… because wealth means happiness, is it not? If you have billions or even trillions or quadrillions of rupees or dollars or Euros, if you are not happy, are you a wealthy person? You might be on the cover of fortune magazine, but are you a happy person? Anxiety, frustration, identity crisis and ultimately either through an economic crisis or through death, you can’t keep a single penny. But the wealth of the eternal soul is everlasting and it’s unlimited and it brings happiness. So this prema-dhan, the great treasure of loving, loving God, the great treasure of serving with love, because love means to serve. The difference between kama and prema or material passion and love, spiritual love – one is selfish and one is selfless. One is for the sake of the object of our love and the other is to satisfy my own egoistic conceptions.
The story of Srila Narottam Das Thakur
Yesterday was the appearance day of a great saint, Srila Narottama Das Thakur. In his honour, I will tell one story, which so beautifully gives a real historical context to this message. Narottama Das was the only son of a extremely wealthy land owner named Krishnananda Mazumdar and he, he lived like… those days, was about 450 years ago in Bengal, he lived like a king. In fact, all the people in the areas where he owned the land which were thousands and thousands of people, many villages, they considered him the king. And his only son was Narottam. That means Narottam was meant to inherit everything. He had so much, home, clothes, fine foods, everything, as well as popularity and power. But when he was a little boy, somebody used to tell him about Krishna and Lord Caitanya and different devotees of the lord. And just by hearing these stories, he became so much attracted. He wanted this love of God. He wanted devotion. And he had a calling. And one day… it’s a long story. But Nityananda prabhu appeared to him and told him that he should go to the Padma River. Because Lord Caitanya has actually entrusted His… the love of His heart for you in the Padma River because of your sincerity. And after receiving that, Narottam became so intoxicated with devotion. And he had a vision of the lord, who told him ‘go to Vrindavan and become the disciple of Lokanath Goswami’. So Narottam left home secretly. He was only about 15 or something. And in those days, he had to walk to Vrindavan through Jharikhanda forest, very dangerous walking. May be almost a 1000 kilometers… just a boy, all alone. And his father, when he found out his son left, he was so disturbed. He paid a lot of money and hired detectives to find his son and bring him home by any means. So they found him in the jungles. And they said, ‘you know, we are going to take you home by force.’ There were many of them and Narottam so sincerely, he explained to them, the nature of his longing and… to love and serve Krishna. And he gave them some beautiful examples and his sincerity moved their hearts so deeply that they gave him money and they said, ‘we hope that this would help you on your trip and we’ll tell your father that we never saw you.’ So, when we went to Vrindavan, he met Jiva Goswami and Jiva Goswami brought him to Lokanath Goswami. Lokanath Goswami said, ‘please tell me about your life’ and he told him. And Lokanath Goswami said, ‘how can I be your Guru? There are two problems. One is I have never initiated a disciple in my life. And after my two dearest friends Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami passed away from this world to join Krishna’s eternal lila, I am feeling so much separation in love for them that it is impossible for me to take responsibility of anyone’s guru. I will not and I cannot. Impossible. And besides that, you already love Krishna. You already saw Lord Caitanya. You don’t need a guru. Just be happy.’ Narottam, he said, ‘actually, I am… Lord Caitanya may have come and He may have given me some things but I am so undeserving and I am so unqualified. If I don’t have your guidance, if I don’t have your blessings, then I am lost in this world. And besides that, the Lord told me to accept you as my guru. Even the Lord accepts a guru when He comes to this world. So it’s necessary for me to do so.’ Lokanath Goswami said, ‘this is not possible. But for one year, I will examine you and for one year, you can examine me. And today, I am not your guru. But I am just giving you an instruction. Today you start chanting 200,000 names a day.’ That means 128 rounds, everyday. So Narottam started chanting 128 rounds a day. How long will that take you? Very serious.
Narottam Das Thakur’s unmotivated, loving service to his guru
And Narottam, he didn’t want to disturb. He wasn’t pressing. Because, you are supposed to please your guru. You are not supposed to press your guru and pressurize your guru, cause him misery. That’s not the real relationship. Yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado. If you force your guru to initiate you, then it’s probably better not to be initiated because pleasing him is more important than the formalities. So Narottam didn’t but he just made his… in a very humble way, he just presented his case and then he left it and did service. Every morning, Lokanath Goswami would bathe in the Yamuna River, very early, when it was still dark. But he was noticing something really strange. Because before he would bathe, he would respond to nature’s calls. That’s the way sadhus in India explain passing stool and urine, to respond to nature’s calls. Sounds nice. And he would always do it in around the same place before going in the Yamuna, but he noticed it was always perfectly clean. And it was always just so nice, this area and the way they would wash their hands, because they didn’t have soap, these yogis in Vrindavan in those days, they just used sifted dirt and there was always a little pile of finely sifted dirt and a little pot of water for him to wash before going. And Lokanath Goswami was thinking ‘what about the day before and the day before that? You know, that stuff should still be here. Where is it? What is happening here?’ one year passed and Lokanath Goswami was asking several people ‘who is cleaning? Who is cleaning this area every day?’ It was Narottam. He never told anyone; it’s not that he put it on his website. So, ‘see how humble I’m… nobody knows, nobody in the whole world knows but I am going at 2’ O clock in the morning before anyone wakes up and I’m cleaning stool and urine with my own hands and making it nice to please my guru.’ He didn’t do it for any ulterior motive; he just did it because he wanted to serve. That’s all. He was hoping nobody would ever find out. Not even his guru. But Lokanath Goswami was really… he ‘why is somebody doing this? And who could it be?’ And one day he decided he was going to ask Narottam Das Thakur. But then he became embarrassed. Lokanath Goswami was embarrassed to ask, ‘Narottam, are you cleaning my urine and stool?’ So he just asked, ‘what are you doing all day?’ and Narottam said, ‘I am chanting 200,000 names.’ And that’s as far as that interrogation went.
Lokanath Goswami finds out about Narottam’s secret service to him
So time went on and a whole year passed. And Lokanath Goswami thought ‘I have to find out who and why anybody is doing like this.’ So Lokanath Goswami woke up really early in the morning, earlier than ever before. Well, he probably didn’t sleep that much anyway, but he went to that place earlier than ever before and he hid behind the trees and waited. And then he saw this form of somebody, because it was dark. He just saw like a shadowy person coming with a hard broom in his hand. And for those of you in the west, they don’t have brooms with handles in India. They are just like this and you get on your hands and knees and you sweep. Yes? And he saw somebody sweeping and carefully collecting the urine and stool and putting it somewhere else and moving it to another place and then sweeping the whole area. But Lokanath Goswami could not see who it was. So he came out from his hiding place and said, ‘who are you, who are you?’ and suddenly that shadowy form offered his dandavats, his prostrated obeisances. And Lokanath said, ‘who are you and what are you doing here and why are you doing this?’ And then he got up with folded palms. He said, ‘Gurudev, it is me, Narottam.’ And Lokanath Goswami saw him and began to cry. He cried out loudly, ‘Narottam! Narottam! Why?! Why are you doing this!! You are coming from a royal family. You are a prince meant to be a king. You are meant to be living with fine silks and fine foods, with many servants doing anything at your beck and call. Why?!! Why such a learned scholar, such a highly enlightened being as you! You have seen God. Why are you on your hands and knees cleaning someone’s stool and urine? They are excrement. Why?! Why are you doing?!!’ and Narottam with tears welling in his eyes spoke from the very core of his heart, what he really felt. He said, ‘my gurudev, I left behind all of these insignificant things of this world to attain the most precious, valuable treasure of all treasures. The opportunity to perform this menial service for my gurudev. This is my treasure. This is my wealth.’ When Lokanath Goswami heard this, his heart melted. He said, ‘Narottam, you conquered my heart. Come with me, I will initiate you.’ That humble service attitude conquers Krishna.
Expression of gratitude is service
We were speaking yesterday. Krishna is Achyuta, He is inconceivable and unconquerable. But His greatest pleasure is to be conquered by the love of His devotee. The greatest happiness is not to conquer but to be conquered. And bhakti is that theology, that science, where God is conquered by the love of His devotee and the devotee is conquered by Krishna’s love. And the expression of the gratitude of that situation is to serve. So, yes, the greatest of all treasures is the opportunity to serve. And we see even in the world today, whether it’s in the cinema, in the movies or in a drama or in a book, if somebody is willing to make great sacrifices for the welfare of other people, it touches our heart. If somebody just gains so many things, it may impress our mind but it doesn’t touch the heart, doesn’t connect to the soul. And the highest extension of this principle is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam. When you water the root of the tree, it nourishes every part of the tree, when we serve God. Because when we love God, because every living being is part of God, mamaivamso jiva loke jiva bhuta sanatana, when we love God, we naturally love every living being. All categories of human civilization, or even all categories of inhuman, lack of civilization, all categories of animals and reptiles and fish and birds, even mother-earth and the trees, spontaneous love, because we see the presence of God, a part of God, a child of God in everyone. And what is our nature, when we have that? We want to serve.
Service attitude as exemplified by Srila Prabhupad and Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj
Srila Prabhupad, our gurudev, how much risk he took?! To serve; He was the guru but why was he the guru? Because he had the purest desire to serve. He served his disciples, gave his life, his soul and sacrificed, risked everything and for all living beings. And one of his most exalted, intimate and dedicated disciples, he wrote a book. And it was entitled ‘servant of the servant.’ And that was His Holiness Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj. Srila Tamal Krishna Maharaj – what a service attitude he had! How much love was in his heart, how much gratitude! He became a devotee in the 1960s, I think around 67 or 68. And just understanding Prabhupad’s spirit of service, he embraced it in the core of his heart. Prabhupad sat in Golden Gate park in San Francisco, playing on a little bungle drum, chanting Krishna’s names. Before that he played on the bungle drum in Tompkins Square Park in the Lowry side of New York. And wherever he did it, so many people were coming. And just by his… he would cook for them; he would explain nice philosophy of prema, or love of God to them, he would solve their problems on so many levels, he would give them shelter.
Recently I was in London with Shyamsundar Guru Das and Yamuna and Malati prabhus and they were talking about when they met Prabhupad in San Francisco, his philosophy, they were gradually understanding it. But he was just the kindest, most compassionate, most caring person, they ever met in their life. They just wanted to be with him. Now please understand, this is the 1960s in America where the philosophy among my generation ‘never trust anyone over 30.’ It’s different than Indian philosophy; love your mother and father and serve them and honour your mother and father. The ten commandments. And here was Prabhupad, he was older than their grandparents. But they would do anything for him. Because of his desire to serve everyone, anyone by giving them God’s love in every possible way through every gesture of kindness. Tamal Krishna Goswami was one of those people who came at that time. And Prabhupad wanted chanting. So Tamal Krishna Goswami, he personally was the first one to organize kirtan in the streets. Actually organized it systematically and made it wonderful. And wherever there were any temples of Krishna in the world, they were just a few then, he was the one that established it.
And then Prabhupad came out with his little ‘Back to Godhead’ magazine. And he was the first one to really get devotees to distribute it. And then Prabhupad started writing books and there were being published and he was the one who, more than anyone else in the world at that time for years and years, was inspiring parties to distribute Prabhupad’s books. Prabhupad sent some of his people to London. Tamal Krishna Goswami, from San Francisco, he went to Los Angeles, he was something like the temple president there and he established a temple there. Then he went to London, Prabhupad said, ‘show them how to organize a proper temple and proper relationships.’ Practically anything Prabhupad was doing, he brought Tamal Krishna Goswami as his right hand man to establish it. Why because, he had such complete trust in his unmotivated service attitude. Sent him to Germany; this is in the 60s, the early, early 70s. and in 1970, Prabhupad wanted to establish back in India and he put Tamal Krishna Goswami as the GBC incharge of the whole country of India under Prabhupad. And what amazing services he did!
And by inconceivable circumstances, one day Prabhupad said to Tamal Krishna Goswami, ‘Go to China.’ It’s like the last frontier for bhakti. So he went to China, we even have a girl from Beijing, who is his disciple, with us today. And throughout China and others, devotees everywhere, since his spirit, as he realized the great treasure, the great wealth in the opportunity to serve, to enlighten, illuminate people’s hearts and bring them shelter and happiness in the love of God. So today, we are launching a brand new book about Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj. That’s actually the purpose of this program as far as I understand and I’ll speak a few more minutes according to the schedule about the book. But now we would like to introduce Radha Charan Prabhu, who is one of Tamal Krishna Goswami’s very, very intimate, loving disciples, one of the leaders among his disciples. Of course, we know, Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj passed away from this world some, few years ago and his wonderful disciples are carrying on his spirit of loving service within the world. Let us welcome Radha Charan Prabhu and all the disciples of Tamal Krishna Goswami who have gathered here today by loudly chanting. We could also introduce your godbrothers and godsisters.
This book, it is, a photographic journey, following chronologically the history of Srila Prabhupad’s movement. Comprehensive. Because Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj was with Prabhupad, establishing practically every project there was. So we see, really the whole history of ISKCON in these photos. And we get a glimpse of how things were done by seeing the very intimate love between Tamal Krishna Goswami and Srila Prabhupad in each one of these wonderful adventures.
HH Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj’s vision
A few years ago, I was at the bed side of His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha swami Maharaj. He was physically dying of melanoma cancer. He asked me to be with him till he passed away. For almost eight weeks, we were together. And every day we would have very deep spiritual discussions. One day he told me something I will never, ever forget. He said it was a secret. But he didn’t mind if I told others. He told me that His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami appeared to him in a vision. Not exactly a dream, because it was too real and too profound to simply be a dream. He said Tamal Krishna Goswami was standing before him, crying. Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj asked him, ‘why are you crying?’ Then Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj went into a little of his background with Tamal Krishna Goswami. He said, ‘from the time he joined or he became a devotee, Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj, it was Tamal Krishna Goswami who would bring him to Srila Prabhupad, would facilitate his personal interactions with Srila Prabhupad on so many occasions. And example is Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj was risking his life behind the iron curtain, spreading bhakti, when religion was illegal, and he would write letters of reports to Srila Prabhupad when Prabhupad was passing from this world. And Tamal Krishna Goswami would read those letters to Prabhupad and Prabhupad would ask Tamal Krishna Goswami to read them sometimes over and over again and if special guest came to meet Prabhupad, he would ask Tamal Krishna Goswami to read those letters to them. And when Prabhupad came to London, Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj and Kurukshetra prabhu, they drove all the way from somewhere in Yugoslavia or someone, all the way to London. And when Tamal Krishna Goswami heard that he was there, he called him up to personally meet Prabhupad. And that’s when Prabhupad embraced Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj and cried and said, ‘Your life is perfect. Thank you very much.’ So from that time and many other instances, Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj always felt that Tamal Krishna Goswami is his older brother who was always the connection, a strong connection to Prabhupad. So in this vision, Tamal Krishna Goswami was weeping. And Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj asked ‘Maharaj, why are you crying?’ and Tamal Krishna Goswami said, ‘because when Prabhupad called me from this world to join him, I had to go and after I left, I know how much all of my disciples, well-wishers and friends suffered. I am crying because Prabhupad is now calling you and you must come and I know how much all of your disciples, followers and friends will suffer in separation from you. That is why I am crying.’
This book is an offering of love in separation from the disciples of Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami to their gurudev and to the world. It is an offering of love and if you can afford it, please buy it, if you can’t, please see it. It’s a wonderful offering of love. Thank you very much. Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj ki Jay!