śrī-śuka uvāca

gargaḥ purohito rājan

yadūnāḿ sumahā-tapāḥ

vrajaḿ jagāma nandasya


(SB 10.8.1)


Sukadeva Gosvami said: O Maharaja Parikshit, the priest of the Yadu dynasty, namely Gargamuni, who was highly elevated in austerity and penance, was then inspired by Vasudeva to go see Nanda Maharaja at his home.

taḿ dṛṣṭvā parama-prītaḥ

pratyutthāya kṛtāñjaliḥ



(SB 10.8.2)


When Nanda Maharaja, saw Gargamuni present at his home, Nanda was so pleased that he stood up to receive him with folded hands. Although seeing Gargamuni with his eyes, Nanda Maharaja could appreciate that Gargamuni was adhokṣaja; that is, he was not an ordinary person seen by material senses.

sūpaviṣṭaḿ kṛtātithyaḿ

girā sūnṛtayā munim

nandayitvābravīd brahman

pūrṇasya karavāma kim

(SB 10.8.3)


When Gargamuni had been properly received as a guest and was very comfortably seated, Nanda Maharaja submitted with gentle and submissive words: Dear sir, because you are a devotee, you are full in everything. Yet my duty is to serve you. Kindly order me. What can I do for you?

mahad-vicalanaḿ nṝṇāḿ

gṛhiṇāḿ dīna-cetasām

niḥśreyasāya bhagavan

kalpate nānyathā kvacit

(SB 10.8.4)


O my lord, O great devotee, persons like you move from one place to another not for their own interests but for the sake of poor-hearted grihastas [householders]. Otherwise they have no interest in going from one place to another.


As factually stated by Nanda Maharaja, Gargamuni, being a devotee, had no needs. Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa comes He has no needs, for He is purṇa, atmarama. Nonetheless, He descends to this material world to protect the devotees and vanquish miscreants (paritraṇaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duṣkṛtam. This is the mission of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and devotees also have the same mission. One who executes this mission of para-upakara, performing welfare activities for people in general, is recognized by Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as being very, very dear to Him (na ca tasman manuṣyeṣu kascin me priya-kṛttamaḥ. Similarly, Caitanya Mahaprabhu has advised this para-upakara, and He has especially advised the inhabitants of India:

bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra

janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra

“One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India [Bharata-varṣa] should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.” On the whole, the duty of a pure Vaisnava devotee is to act for the welfare of others.

Nanda Maharaja could understand that Gargamuni had come for this purpose and that his own duty now was to act according to Gargamuni’s advice. Thus he said, “Please tell me what is my duty?” This should be the attitude of everyone, especially the householder. The varṇasrama society is organized into eight divisions: brahmana, Kshatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacarya, grihasta, vanaprastha and sannyasa. Nanda Maharaja represented himself as gṛhiṇam, a householder. A brahmacarī factually has no needs, but gṛhī, householders, are engaged in sense gratification. As stated in Bhagvad Gita (2.44), bhogaisvarya-prasaktanaḿ tayapahṛta-cetasam. Everyone has come to this material world for sense gratification, and the position of those who are too attached to sense gratification and who therefore accept the gṛhastha-asrama is very precarious. Since everyone in this material world is searching for sense gratification, grihastas are required to be trained as mahat, great mahatmas. Therefore Nanda Maharaja specifically used the word mahad-vicalanam. Gargamuni had no interest to serve by going to Nanda Maharaja, but Nanda Maharaja, as a grihasta, was always perfectly ready to receive instructions from a mahatma to gain the real benefit in life. Thus he was ready to execute Gargamuni’s order.

Exalted position of Nanda Maharaj:

Here we find the beautiful example of the perfect example of a pure devotee of the Lord in the grihasta ashram.  Nanda Maharaj, what is his exalted position?  We have just been reading in the previous chapter, the infinitely fortunate position of Nanda Maharaj.  In fact, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he fell into a trance of great ecstatic love when he heard Raghupati Upadhyaya narrate that beautiful sloka, that “I do not worship the Vedas, the sruthis, the smritis, people run after them out of fear of material existence hoping to find artha, karma, dharma moksha.  My worship able object is Nanda Maharaj because his position is so exalted, so supremely exalted that the Supreme Brahman like a helpless child is crawling in his courtyard.”  Nanda Maharaj by the power of his love, by the power of his devotion he assumes the position as the father, the protector of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna.  What is the position of Nanda Maharaj?  Ultimate exalted position, who can understand the nature of his love that Krishna himself who is the source of Narayana, who is the source of Brahma and Shankar – Shiva the destroyer of the Universe, the source of everything that exists, he is carrying the sandals of Nanda Maharaj upon his head and he is acting as a very, very humble servant of his father.

Krishna and Balaram act as a humble servant of Nanda Maharaj:

Sri Nanda Maharaj instructs Krishna and Balaram that “Now it is time for you to start taking care of calves.”  So Krishna and Balaram on fathers order they start taking care of the calves.  They go out from morning till evening doing the seva for their father.  And later on in Nandagaon, Nanda Maharaj, gives them the charge of the cows. The first day that they go out taking care of cows, this is a great festival called Gopasthami.  Krishna and his friends they would go frolicking through the Pasteur grounds of Vrajadham, making all nice arrangements for the cows to eat fresh grasses, to drink crystal clear waters, to protect them from any dangers.  In fact, Krishna and Balaram they had to take care heading 900,000 cows.  There were in the herd of Maharaj Nanda.  And Krishna would climb just as the sun was about to set that famous tree of the name ‘Ter Kadamba’ and there he would call each cow by its own personal name and each cow would come running in ecstatic love to be with Krishna.  Then he would bring them home and as he was approaching Nandagaon, Yashodamayi and Nanda Maharaj in the great expectation of love awaiting the presence of their children, they would have all nice offerings of food stuffs and garlands and nice scented flowers and all pleasing things for the Lord.  They would take Krishna and Balaram home and give them nice baths with their own hands and feed them nice prasad and entertain them with sweet words, loving exchanges.  Then Nanda and Yashoda would personally put Krishna and Balaram in their beds and tell them sweet beautiful stories of the pastimes of the Lord and in this way they would take rest, simply dreaming of the beauty of their children throughout all of the night.

Krishna is conquered by the love of Nanda Maharaj:

Nanda Maharaj, he was the king of all of Vraja, all the cowherd men, all the Gopis they all would work under his direction.  Krishna, such a Supreme person, the Absolute Godhead he is behaving like the very, very submissive loving child of Nanda and when Sri Krishna-Gopal when he wanted to do something, not exactly socially acceptable by ordinary means, in order to increase the loving exchange of his lila and further attract his devotees minds, during the night when he wanted to meet the Vraja Gopis, he would very, very secretly and silently leave his house so that Nanda and Yashoda would not know because he was very frightened that if they knew he would become punished, he would be in trouble.  So this is the position of Nanda Maharaj that in every step of life Krishna was always taking a subordinate position to him and it was not a position of demanding respect from Krishna because I am your father but rather it was the Supreme Lord, who is bhaktavatsal willingly being conquered being subordinate to the infinite love of Sri Nanda Maharaj.   Therefore, Nanda Maharaj, he is worshipped in the highest position by all great devotees since time immemorial.

Nanda Maharaj is establishing proper conduct for all grihastas:

Here we find something wonderful, when Garga Muni is coming to the home of Nanda Maharaj, Nanda Maharaj is offering him all respects.  Nanda Maharaj is presenting himself as a very fallen, very materialistic person who due to so many worldly activities is so much inclined toward forgetting the goal of life and therefore, he is worshipping the lotus feet of Garga Muni and praying to him that:

“Please give me some service, saints like yourselves, it appears that you are coming from door to door begging but actually, you devotees have nothing to beg.  You are purna, you are atmarama, you have Krishna therefore, you are so satisfied you require nothing in this world.  Whether you are sleeping under a tree or sleeping in a palace makes no difference to you.  Krishna is providing for you, Krishna is protecting you, Krishna is giving you great, great love exchange the Supreme Absolute Truth is always manifesting infinite joy in your heart, so what do you need?  Why do you come begging?  Why do you go to the house of poor hearted people like me?  Only because of your mercy, only because you know our position, our lamentable and depressing condition and you come simply to give us a chance to serve you because by serving you lotus feet, we can achieve spiritual consciousness and without the mercy and blessings of such great souls as you, we have no hope.  We are in a very, very hopeless condition.  Persons like you move from one place to another not for their own interest but for the sake of poor hearted grihastas, otherwise they have no other interest in going from one place to another.”

Lord Krishna is attracted by the humility of the heart:

Here we find Krishna is really glorifying Nanda Maharaj because although, he is in the most exalted position, he is the most humble, he is most respectful toward the vaisnavas the brahmanas and the saints.  In this way Maharaj Nanda is establishing the proper conduct for all grihastas, however lowly or however advanced they may be, should always feel oneself very lowly should always feel oneself dependent on the mercy of those great souls who have dedicated everything in the renounced order of life.  Garga Muni he was renounced in the sense that he was a pure brahmana who had no other business than enlightening others in Krishna consciousness.  So such persons who have dedicated their lives for this purpose, Nanda Maharaj shows that whoever you are, your only hope for spiritual advancement is to offer all respects to such devotees.  If you do not offer all respects to such devotees then Krishna’s mercy is impossible, it is all a dream spiritual advancement is a hallucination.  You are thinking you are making spiritual advancement but what is actually happening?  Your pride your ego is growing that’s all.  Real spiritual advancement is determined by how much one is becoming the humble servant of the Lord not how austere one is, not how exalted one is in learning the sastra not by how nicely one can sing or by just displaying so-called ecstatic symptoms.  Any mature devotee doesn’t take any of these things serious at all.  Sincere devotee understands that the only thing that will attract Krishna is the humility of the heart, the humble service attitude toward his devotees that’s all nothing else.  So therefore, the more exalted we actually become the more we become like Nanda Maharaj.

Gaur Mohan De (Srila Prabhupada’s father) a very humble devotee:

Our own Gurudeva he explains, his father, Srila Prabhupada’s fathers name was Gaur Mohan De and he describes he was a pure devotee of the Lord, always immersed in ecstatic love.  By his example he taught his children how to worship the beautiful deity of Radha Govinda.  But he explained that his father every night he would invite sadhus to his house, minimum 5 and he would offer them all respects.  He would greet them with very, very extremely respectful words, he would sit them down, he would offer them as much prasad as they possibly could want and then with a lowly, lowly voice choked with humility he would beg them to give their blessings to himself, to his children to his family.  He would bring his small child Abhay Charan who later was Srila Prabhupada.  He would say, “Please, Please bless my child that he will be a devotee of Sri Radharani.  And Srila Prabhupada explained that Gaur Mohan De, his father was such an exalted pure devotee but yet such humility, such respect.   Prabhupada explained to us, that his father was actually more advanced than most of these sadhus but this was the symptom of his advancement that he was always ready and willing to show the utmost respect to those people who are dedicating their lives to propagating Krsna consciousness.  Of course, we know that in the grihasta ashram and Nanda Maharaj is explaining as a grihasta that if we have a job and we are working to make money it is such a complication in one’s life.  There are so many diversions it is a very difficult thing.  You have deal with so many worldly people, you have to be thinking in terms of pounds, shillings and pennies and therefore, as many of our devotees inquire again and again it seems very opposite to what is required for the advancement in Krishna consciousness.  Therefore, Nanda Maharaj is explaining that the only hope for such grihastas is respectfully worshipping the feet of the great souls who have no other business than chanting the names and the glories of the Lord.  To the extent a grihasta has this quality to that extent he is dear to Krishna and to the extent he doesn’t have these qualities whatever he may be however wealthy or learned he may be Krishna doesn’t care for any of these things.  Krishna cares nothing for money he cares nothing for the combination of knowledge, he cares nothing for austerity he only desires bhakti – devotion.

The sad Truth about this material world

Nanda Maharaj is giving us this beautiful example and of course, we find in the words of Garga Muni he is equally humble and gentle in his demeanor.  In fact, in the spiritual world the competition is to try to give everyone else the higher and more exalted position.  In the material world people are willing to kill each other they are willing to create lies and blaspheme one another to put oneself in more exalted position.  This is material consciousness but the spiritual consciousness is just the opposite.  Krishna consciousness means Gopé-bhartuù pada-kamalayor däsa-däsänudäsaù – to be the servant of the servant of the servants.  To put everyone else as far as possible at least within one’s heart in an exalted position and to see oneself as the most lowly servant.  And of course, if we are greater than Nanda Maharaj, if we have a higher relationship with Krishna than Sri Nanda Baba then we may question ‘maybe it is not required for me to humble myself and offer the ultimate respect to all vaisnavas and all devotees of the Lord.  But if we are not in that position which none of us can possibly be because after all we are all jivatmas.  Nanda and Yashoda, they are expansions of Godhead himself, they are in the most exalted eternal position they are never conditioned by material nature but this is their feelings that giving ultimate respect, worshiping the lotus feet of the devotees.  Is there any questions?


Maharaj:  What do you do with the fruits of your action?  Do you use it for your sense enjoyment or you offer it to Krishna?  We want to speak in a very practical way we do not want to speak in impractical way.  When philosophy is put into our life then realization is born.  So we want to make Krishna the goal and we are working, is Krishna actually and practically the goal or is it all just theoretical?  We work for money, what are we doing with the money?  Are we using it for our sense enjoyment or we offering it to Krishna?  If we offer it Krishna then Krishna will take us seriously otherwise he doesn’t care about our empty words.  And what do we do with our free time?  Every moment that we have at our disposal do we utilize it to serve the devotees to keep our mind fixed in chanting the names and reading the shastra and doing seva for Guru and the vaisnavas or do we go to cinemas and watch the television and go to all social parties where people are just doing everything and anything?  It is a matter of how sincere we are.  Krishna reveals himself how you approach him. If you want to approach Krishna little here and keep on the side a lot here then you will get a little bit of Krishna.  You will never understand what is bhakti so practically speaking, you are working hard, what do you do with the fruits of your work and after your work how do you spend your free time, how do you raise your family?  Is Krishna always in the centre are you always striving for that type of seva?  If you are then you can understand that you are on the path that Krishna is describing (Bg. 2.41)

vyavasāyātmikā buddhir

ekeha kuru-nandana

Krishna says, “Those who are on this path, their aim is one, they are not irresolute.”  Everything they do is directed to Krishna, they do nothing that is not directed to Krishna.  Some people think this is fanaticism.  According to shastra this is Krishna consciousness.  Krishna says, (Bg.11.54)

bhaktyā tv ananyayā śakya

aham evaḿ-vidho ‘rjuna

“Only by undivided devotional service can I be understood.”  What does undivided mean?

That every part of your life is aimed toward Krishna, if you divide it in any way shape or form, you will not find Krishna.  Of course, it may be a gradual process to come to that platform of undivided devotional service but that should be what we are striving for, that should be our goal.  We should never compromise, at least in our understanding.


Maharaj: That is another type of false pride.  The grihastas tendency is that, ‘these brahmacaris useless villagers what are they doing?  If they actually had any real qualities they would be working like me, wearing the clothes of the people in general to show by their example how to be a great saint like me. – false pride and the brahmacaris their tendency is, ‘these grihastas they are having sex, they are having children, they have money they have all sorts of arrangements for themselves – fallen condition.  Our movement cannot possibly spread as long as we are in this condition, no one will be attracted.  The real consciousness of a brahmacari and a grihastas is to be the servant of the servant to exalt all others, unless you exalt another you cannot be his servant, can you?  You have to exalt a person to be his servant, even a person who is very fallen you don’t exalt his fallen qualities but you exalt the fact that he is part of Krishna and therefore, you could be his servant, in your own mind.  So therefore, we want to completely extinguish this propensity amongst all our devotees because it is a great, great impediment toward Krishna consciousness and it is the greatest impediment to the spreading of this divine love of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu throughout society.  Grihastas out of great humility may in many ways restrict their association with grihastas if those grihastas are worldly by nature.  Naturally a brahmacari is supposed to stay close to others in renounced order of life but that does not mean he cannot see as friend and loving god brother all grihastas and see the glory and greatness in that grihastas devotional service.  It is the nature because grihastas are naturally associating with money and women that brahmacaris they should not associate in that way with money and women.  So therefore, to protect the very sacred and difficult vows that they have accepted they should stay very close to themselves in that way but not in a sectarian way, not in a condescending way.  They should be merciful, friendly and loving toward all god brothers and god sisters.

How to be humble?

Ultimately the only way to be humble is to chant the holy name of the Lord, through this process true humility awakens within our hearts.  But in order to properly chant the name of the Lord, we must be willing to accept the position that ‘I am a servant, I am not the master, all others are Prabhu and I am dasa I am the servant.’  You take the position of the servant and chant the holy name in this spirit then real humility will awaken in your heart but if you do not take the position of a servant if you are criticizing others you are judging others if you are expecting others to do things for you then Krishna will not be inclined to purify you even through his holy name.  It will be a very long rigorous process.  So by serving the great souls by hearing from them and by chanting the holy names humility awakens within our heart.

Devotee :

Maharaj:  Is the servant performing his duty to enjoy or just to please?  If we are not being appreciated and we are being discouraged that means we are not really serving, we want to be the enjoyer.  To be appreciated is to enjoy.  A devotee wants to simply please the master, that’s all.  Whatever the master wants not what I want.  I want to do so much for you but you want to do something else.  What is the servant’s position?  To do what the master wants, otherwise we want to be the master of the master.  “I want you to accept this.”  Is that service?  It is a type of service but it is a very low grade type of service.  High grade service is “How can I please you, how can I serve you?”  If we work so hard to do something and the master rejects it then what should our position be?  Should we think, “Oh, what kind of nonsense person is this, he is not serving me by accepting.”  We work for 20 years then the master rejects everything we’ve done, we should think, “Oh, what would you like me to do?”  That is the position that is service.  This is the tendency, we want sadhu to come to our house, so that we can enjoy him.  We want sadhu to accept gifts so that we can enjoy giving.  We want to enjoy him rather than please him.  So we should ask humbly “Will this please you?”  A servant never demands, a servant asks, “Will this please you, if this will please you I would like to offer if it doesn’t please you then how can I please you?”  That is real service attitude.  That is the type of service attitude that will directly attract the heart of Krishna.


Maharaj:  If a devotee thinks that this is meant for me then that devotee will become trapped.  A devotee should understand that every devotee is simply representing Guru.  Even the Guru is not really Guru he is actually just a servant representing his Guru.  Everyone is servant, this is parampara.  So whatever is offered, if it is favorable for this person’s spiritual life to accept this on behalf of his Guru, then I will accept.


Maharaj:  If Krishna and Guru wants you to chant and dance whether you enjoy or do not enjoy it is not important.  In fact that you do it is important.  If you are enjoying that’s wonderful if you are not enjoying that’s wonderful.  But you are doing it for their pleasure, if it pleases them and you think, ‘Oh, I won’t do this because I am enjoying.’  Then that is another type of false ego.    And if you don’t do because you are not enjoying then that’s another type.  Enjoyment comes that’s wonderful but that is not why we are doing.  Srila Prabhupada what was his most famous saying?  Chant Hare Krsna and be happy, he would say that more than anything else just chant Hare Krsna and be happy.  It is he order for us to be happy chanting Hare Krsna.  So you should be happy chanting Hare Krsna and if you feeling happiness chanting Hare Krsna, you should think I am following my Guru’s order and I am blissfully chanting Hare Krsna and if we are not happy we should try to chant better so that we become happy because it is his order to be happy.


Maharaj:  Simply the color of one’s dress does not necessarily reflect one’s consciousness.  Even in the grihasta ashram, if one is fully committed to the service of the Lord then he is in perfect consciousness.  It is not the question of this ashram or that ashram it is a question of our service attitude, our detachment from anything outside of the service of Krishna.  We find in the scriptures so many very, very elevated exalted devotees of the highest order who were in the grihasta ashram.  Today we are reading about Nanda Maharaj, he was a grihastas he was very humble thinking himself very lowly like all grihastas like everyone should but he was in the highest order because his only motivation was serving Krishna and whatever defect may be in our spiritual consciousness Krishna explains in Gita (2.40)

nehābhikrama-nāśo ‘sti

pratyavāyo na vidyate

That wherever we leave off in this life, if we leave this world through the process of death then we take up where we left off.  If we are 70% Krishna consciousness we will begin our next birth are 71%, so there is no loss.  Whatever advancement we make whether we are a sanyasi, brahmacari, grihastas or vanaprastha whatever advancement we make is eternal, we will take up where we left off.


Maharaj:  If you actually have no control, then don’t worry about it but if you have the power to control, out of humility you should control.  We try to make a show and a display to be glorified by others that is pretending.   We want to exhibit all sorts of bodily transformation so that people think we are very advanced.  This is cheating and misleading.  If it is actually so uncontrollable (0:48:52.5-0:49:00.2) but we should be in attitude of servant, we should not be ever putting on a show, to show people how advanced we are because this has very little to do with spiritual advancement which anybody could do it, if they just practiced.  If you practice for a year you can show all sorts of ecstatic symptoms and if you become a mystic yogi you can do even better so what.  Our aim should be not to display bur rather our aim should be humble service, that’s all.


Maharaj:  Every moment is the prime time but especially in kirtan because it is a time when devotees are directly coming together to glorify the Lord with no other business, no other contemplation.  So in the intimacy and in the sweetness of our relationship we’ll find its foundation through the congregational chanting of the holy names.


Maharaj:  Two things that means you should have more kirtans together and second of all you have to practice detachment and humility at other times as an austerity


Maharaj:  Ideally it is but is the other person does not reciprocate that does not change our position.  We may not be able to express, we can only really express our love to someone who can reciprocate but we still cherish that attitude toward everyone.  It is the most difficult thing because you have to go against the whole current of your false ego.  Therefore it is supreme austerity and by simply endeavoring in this way and chanting the holy name then our ego becomes purified and then it becomes natural.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.