citrau śan-dau tamo-nudau
(Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Ādi 1.2)
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Sri Nityanand Prabhu who have risen like the sun and the moon simultaneously on the horizon of Gaudadesh.
Origin of Kheer chor Gopinath deity at Remuna
In the Caitanya Charitamrita Madhya lila, there is a beautiful narration by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu himself, describing the glorious qualities and activities of this Parama guru, Srila Madhavendra Puri. We have been especially asked to speak on this particular subject this evening. In reference to the very auspicious event that is about to come before us on the 19th of October. This is the night of Govardhan puja, the day of Govardhan puja and on this auspicious day, at the temple of Sri Sri Radha Gopinath will be the installation of Sri Sri Gaur Nitai and Sri Gopal, who is now worshipped in Nathdwara as Sri Nathji.
The origin of the Gopal deity who was the lifter of the Govardhan hill is explained by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This took place during his travel to Jagannath Puri. After Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the renounced order of life, living as a sanyasi, he decided that the best place to go is Vrindavan. But by the loving persuasion of his mother, he was convinced to make his residence in Sri Puri dham instead. So he as well as Lord Nityananda, Mukunda, Jagadananda, they were travelling by foot from Navadweep dhama to Puri dhama. On the way, they came to a very, very sacred place of pilgrimage. It is a place of the name Remuna.
Remuna is famous because that is the place of the residence of the famous form of the name Gopinath. This Gopinath deity has a beautiful story behind it. It is explained that when Lord Sri Ramachandra and Sita and Laxman were living in the forest, exiled from the kingdom of Ayodhya, for some time they were living in this holy place of Remuna. And it was there that mother Sita approached Sri Ramachandra and made a very humble and loving request; that “in Your future avataar, I want to see what will be Your form and I want to worship that form”.
So of course, the Supreme Lord Hari is always most anxious to give pleasure to His supreme most loving consort, the Goddess of Fortune, Sita. So He said, yes, it will be my pleasure. So He went to a river nearby and there He found a very large black stone. It is said to be a Shaligram Shila and He took his own arrow from his quiver and He began to carve the form of the Divine Personality of Sri Krishna standing with His three fold bending from playing upon His flute and He told Sita that this is the form of Gopinath and this Divine form, I will advent in Vrindaban dhama and here I will be the Lord of the Gopis.
So while living in Remuna, Mother Sita worshipped this beautiful murti of Gopinath with great love and devotion. But then it was time that they move on to another place. And of course this murti was very heavy. And so, the local Brahmins who became very very pure devotees of Sita-Rama, they requested that “kindly allow us, if you must leave, to worship this beautiful form of Gopinath”. So with the blessings of Mother Sita and Lord Sri Ramachandra, the Brahmins of Remuna began a puja for the Gopinath murti. And that murti has been worshipped in Remuna since the time of Lord Sri Ramachandra which is a very long time back. In Hindi, I think you, what is it, praachin? It is a praachin mandir, that is, it is very old. People were asking if I learnt any Hindi in Pune, so, something I have learnt. Some day with God’s grace, I will give a lecture in Hindi and Mahaprabhu will translate it into English, with your permission.
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to this holy place, He was very happy. He began to dance before the form of Gopinath with great joy, great jubilation. And then they all sat down as an offering was being made to Sri Gopinathji. And Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, with great pleasure He began to speak. He said that the name of this deity has now become “Kheer-chor Gopinath”. Gopinath who has stolen the Kheer. And to understand why He is considered a thief, we must hear the divine pastimes of that most exalted of all Vaishnavas, Srila Madhavendra Puri.
The Lord always glorifies His devotees
There is no greater pleasure to the Supreme Personality of Godhead than glorifying His devotee. The Lord has so many divine plans on how to glorify His devotee. The glory of the devotee is their super-excellent faith and devotion to the Lord. And from time to time throughout history, we see that the Lord, Sri Krishna, He makes so many very unique and special arrangements to glorify each of this very very exalted, pure servants.
Just like Prahlad Maharaj, why was Prahlad Maharaj put through so much persecution by Hiranyakashipu. Krishna is in the heart of Hiranyakashipu. Krishna is the source of every heartbeat of Hiranyakashipu. He is the source of every breath. He is the cause of all causes. If Krishna desired, He could have killed this demon within a second. Why did he allow so much persecution against this innocent five year old child? Because if He did not, who would have ever heard of Prahlad today? If Hiranyakashipu was a nice father, and said, “Yes Prahlad, if you want to be a Hare Krishna, if it makes you happy, it makes me happy.” If he was that type of father, would we be talking of Prahlad today? Or if as soon as he turned against Prahlad if Krishna just ended his life would anyone hear about him today. The more he was tested, the more he was tortured, the more he was persecuted, the more glorious his pastimes became. In the end, Lord Narsimha Dev appeared, but this whole Leela was simply so that the Lord could experience the great pleasure of glorifying his devotee. And we find this is the case amongst all the very very great souls. They are put through very difficult tests often to be glorified.
Pastime of Madhavendra Puri – the guru of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
And others, they are put in other very unique situation. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was about to narrate one such beautiful circumstances. Madhavendra Puri was the guru of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He was His parama guru. It is described that he was travelling through all the holy places of Bharatavarsha, always absorbed in divine live of Krishna. And at last he came to the most sacred of all holy places, Vrindavan dham. And after going to all the twelve forests of Vrindaban, he settled for some time at the beautiful feet of Sri Giriraj Govardhan hill.
One day he was at the Govind Kund and there he was sitting, chanting the holy names of the Lord and immersed in divine remembrance of the beautiful pastimes of the Lord. Srila Madhavendra Puri, his unique form of devotion was that he was always immersed in the divine feelings of separation from Sri Krishna. So as he was sitting on the banks of Govind Kund one day, a very beautiful cowherd boy approached him. “Ah, my dear Swamiji, I have been told that you have been fasting throughout the day. In this village no one must fast. Some people in the renounced order of life, they beg for food. But you are so humble you are not even willing to beg. So for you I have personally come to deliver this fresh milk”. Madhavendra Puri asked that how did you know that I was fasting through the day. And the young boy said that the local girls, the village girls they had seen you all day here without having any prasad. So now you kindly enjoy this milk. And then the boy left. So Madhavendra Puri drank the sweet milk from the cows of Vrindavan dhama. And then after washing the pot and washing his hands he sat under a tree and began chanting the holy names of Sri Krishna.
Gopalji appeared in the dream of Madhavendra Puri and instructed him to install Gopalji deity which was buried underground
And he began to fall into a very restful state and then in a dream that same young boy appeared to him. He said, “Madhavendra Puri, I have been lying under the ground for a long, long time”. He said that in this form my name is Gopal. I was originally installed by the great grandson of Sri Krishna of the name Vajranam. And I was installed on the top of Govardhan hill. And there I had been worshipped for thousands of years, but on one occasion, the Muslim rulers sent their soldiers to destroy the temples of Vrindavan. So at that time, the Pujari buried me in the bushes in the ground. And then, he had to flee. So I have been here in the scorching heat, without any water, without any food for a long long time and all of this while I have simply been waiting for my pure devotee Madhavendra Puri to come and serve me. So then this cowherd boy, who was none other than Gopal Himself, took Madhavendra Puri by the hand and showed him exactly where he would have to cut through the forest and dig through the ground and then the boy disappeared. First He told him that I want you to install me on the top of Govardhan hill and I want you to bathe me with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of buckets of cool water from Govinda Kund. And I want you to prepare a wonderful feast in honour of the divine Annakoot ceremony of Sri Krishna at the time of the original Govardhan Puja. When Krishna curbed the pride of Indra by lifting the Govardhan hill with the little finger of His left hand. So shortly after that Madhavendra Puri awoke from his dream. At first he felt very ashamed, what has been done? Krishna appeared and gave me milk and I did not even recognise Him? I offered him no respect; no obeisance’s and he began to cry in shame. Ah, but then he fixed his mind on the order of Krishna. This is a very important example.
Sometimes, devotees, out of their natural humility realise that they are very, very fallen and in a sinful condition. In fact, those pure devotees who are perfectly sinless, more than anyone, feel that they are in the most sinful and fallen condition. A great devotee never thinks that he is advanced. A great devotee can be judged by his humility. Madhavendra Puri began to cry, just see, what a neophyte devotee I am, that Krishna was standing right before me and I did not even recognise Him. But then, he understood that whether I am advanced or not advanced, what is the difference? My life is only for the service of Govinda. He has given me an instruction, I must fulfil it.
A devotee’s life and soul is to fulfil the instructions of the spiritual master and Krishna
A devotee’s life and soul is to fulfil the instructions of the spiritual master and Krishna. He is not concerned, I am advanced, I am not advanced; I am happy, I am distressed; I am a success, I am a failure; I am famous, I am infamous. All these things are put aside, all He is concerned with, a sincere devotee, is, I must execute the order of Guru and Krishna. So Madhavendra Puri immediately gathered together many villagers and with choppers they began to chop through the very high bushes, and creepers that were all around. And thus, in the midst of all that, they found the beautiful murti of Gopal, who was standing in His divine pose with his left hand raised as the lifter of the Govardhan hill, Govardhana dhari. And they put a big rock, big stone on the top of Govardhan hill and they placed Gopal on the top of that stone. And then they had many, many pots, buckets and with thousands and thousands and thousands of buckets of water they were bathing Gopal.
The Deity was installed with an elaborate abhishek ceremony
It is described by Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami in very great detail exactly how this elaborate ceremony was performed. Should we read? In this way we can get a nice idea of what is expected of all of us on the installation of Gopal. Deity covered with dirt and grass, they were all struck with wonder and pleasure. After they cleansed the body of the deity, some of them said: The deity is very heavy; no one person can move Him. Since the deity was very heavy, some of the stronger men assembled to carry Him to the top of Govardhan hill. Madhavendra Puri also went there. A big stone was made into a throne and the deity was installed upon it. Another big stone was placed behind the deity for support. All the Brahmin priests of the village gathered together with nine water pots and water from Govinda Kunda Lake was brought there and filtered. When the deity was being installed, hundreds pots of water were brought from Govinda Kund. There were musical sounds of bugles and drums and the singing of women. During the festival of the installation ceremony some people sang and some danced. So we all have to dance. All the milk, curd and clarified butter in the village was brought to the festival. So all our gold should be, of course we have to try for it, that all the milk, yoghurt and clarified butter of Bombay should be brought for the festival. Various foods and sweetmeats as well as all other kinds of presentation were brought there. I am unable to describe all these. The villagers brought a large quantity of Tulsi leaves, flowers and various kinds of garments. Then Sri Madhavendra Puri personally began the abhishekh ceremony.
In the Hari Bhakti Vilasa, it is stated that the deities should be bathed in water mixed with yoghurt and milk, accompanied with the sound of conchshells, bells and other instruments and the chanting of the mantra “Om Namoh Bhagawate Vasudevayah” as well as the chanting of the Brahma Samhita verses beginning, “Cintamani Prakar sadmasu kalpavrksa……….. ”
After all the inauspicious things were driven away by the chanting of the mantra, the deity’s bathing ceremony started. First the deity was massaged with a large quantity of oil, so that His body became very glossy. After the first bathing, further bathings were conducted with panchagavya and then with panchmrita. Then the mahasnaana was performed with ghee and water which had been brought in hundred pots. The ingredients of panchagavya are milk, ghee, yoghurt, cow urine and cow dung. All these items come from the cow.
Therefore we can just imagine how important the cow is, since its urine and stool are required for bathing the deity. The panchamrita consists of five kinds of nectar: yoghurt, milk, ghee, honey, sugar. The major portion of this presentation also comes from the cow. To make it more palatable, sugar and honey are added. Of course we know that Madhavendra Puri was the inspiring force behind this abhishek. But it was the tremendous enthusiasm of all of the congregation of devotees of Vrindavana that made this festival so wonderful because everyone was so anxious to contribute, everyone was so anxious to bring something. So Vrindavan Maharaj has so kindly promised that he would bring the necessary ingredients of cow dung and cow urine from his sacred cows in Vaikuntha dhama in Belgaum. That was the first commitment that we received. After the mahaasnana was finished, the deity was again massaged with scented oil, and His body made glossy. Then the last bathing ceremony was performed with scented water kept within a conchshell.
In his commentary on this occasion Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur quotes from the Hari Bhakti Vilas, barley powder, wheat powder, dal powder and another powder preparation called avata mixing banana flour and grounded rice are applied to the deity’s body with a brush made from the hair at the end of a cow, a cow’s tail. While in Belgaum we have manufactured one brush made from a cow’s tail, especially for this ceremony. This produces a nice finish, the oil smeared over the body of the deity should be scented to perform the mahasnana atleast 2 and 2 ½ mound, about 24 gallons of water are needed to pour over the body of the deity. After the body of the deity was cleansed, he was dressed very nicely with new garments. Then sandalwood pulp, Tulsi garland and other fragrant garlands were placed upon the body of the deity.
Varieties of Bhoga was offered to the Deity after the abhishek ceremony by making an Annakoot
After the bathing ceremony was finished, incense of lamps were burnt in all kinds of food offered before the Lord. These foods included yogurt, milk and as many sweetmeats as were required. The deity was first offered many varieties of food and scented drinking water in new pots and then watered for washing the mouth. Finally mixed varieties of spices were offered. After the last offering of Tambula and pan bhog, arati was performed. Finally everyone offered various prayers and then obeisances, falling flat before the deity in full surrender. As soon as the people of the village had understood that the deity was going to be installed, they had brought their entire stocks of rice, dal and wheat flour. They brought such large quantities that the entire surface of the top of the hill was filled. When the villagers brought their entire stock of rice, dal and flour, the potters of the village brought all kinds of cooking pots and in the morning the cooking began. Ten brahmanas cooked both dry and liquid vegetables. The vegetable preparation was made from various kinds of spinach roots and fruits collected from the forest. Someone had made Bada and badi by smashing dal. In this way the Brahmins prepared all kinds of food. Five to seven men had to prepare a huge quantity of chappatis, which was sufficiently covered with ghee as were all the vegetables, rice and dal. All the cooked rice was stacked on palasa leaves. Around the stack of cooked rice were stacks of chappatis and all the vegetables and liquid vegetable preparation were placed in different pots and put around them. Pots of yogurt, milk and butter and shrikand, sweet rice, cream and salads were placed alongside the vegetables.
In this kind of ceremony, anakuta cooked rice is stacked like a small mountain for prasad distribution. In this way the anakuta ceremony was performed by Madhavendra Puri Goswami and offered personally everything to Gopal. Many water pots were filled with scented water for drinking and Lord Sri Gopal who had been hungry for many days ate everything offered to him.
Many days our Gopal has been standing without any food since Janmastami. You cannot see Him but He is right behind the curtain on the alter. He is very hungry. And it is everyone’s responsibility to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although Sri Gopal ate everything offered, still by the touch of his transcendental hands, everything remained as before.
The Lord accepts food which is offered with love and devotion by His devotees
The atheist cannot understand how the Supreme Personality of Godhead appearing in the form of a deity can eat all the food offered by his devotees. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna says, “Patram, pushpam, phalam, toyam, Yo me bhaktya prayacchati; tad aham bhakty-upahrtam asnami prayatatmanah.” Krishna is perfect and complete, because the Lord is purna.
He can expand Himself into hundreds and millions of forms. And yet He still remains the original personality of Godhead. When Narada Muni went to Dwarka he was very much astounded. Because he was visiting the various palaces of the 16,108 palaces of Sri Krishna and in each one Sri Krishna was engaged in different activities. Narada Muni began to think that the great mystic yogis, they can expand themselves into eight forms but each of the eight forms must act identical to the others. If one lifts his arm all eight lifts the same arm. When one walks forward all eight must walk forward. But here there were 16,108 manifestations, each engaged in unique activities. Therefore Krishna is Yogeshwar. He is the supreme yogi because he is perfect and complete. So similarly by Krishna’s divine arrangement at the time of the original annakut ceremony, when the residence of Vrindavan offered mountains and mountains and mountains of prasad on the order of Gopal to Govardhan hill at that time Shri Giriraj Govardhan manifested himself into a huge form and he ate all the mountains and mountains and mountains of prasad. And after eating it all, He began to call out “Onyur onyur” which means “I want more”. Krishna is unlimited. If we eat too much prasad do we say “Onyur onyur” and say churna churna. “Give me something for my digestion”. When after Krishna ate tonnes and tonnes and tonnes of mountains of prasad, the entire stock of food in Vrajadhama was cooked for this one feast and He ate it all within a second. And He was calling out “More, more, more”. And then after completing within a second later all the prasad was back as it was previously. And then Krishna said, “Now you enjoy it, I have had”. So in the same way Gopal, he had accepted through his vision, through his ears, through his eyes, every sense. Brahma Samhita explains he can accept our offering He tastes the sweetness of the bhakti, which is within the offering. Of course in this way He ate the food and tasted bhakti. It is not that He simply is tasting the bhakti but He is not tasting the food. Because there is no difference. The food becomes so charged with bhakti. And He finds his satisfaction by actually eating the preparation. But His perfect and complete nature is He eats it and fully enjoys it and yet it remains as it is, as prasad, his mercy upon us.
How Gopal ate everything while the food remained the same is transcendental perceived by Madhavendra Puri Goswami. Nothing remained a secret for the devotees of the Lord. The wonderful festival and installation of Sri Gopalji was arranged in one day and we are giving all of you three weeks. How much is that? Two weeks? Certainly all this was accomplished by the potency of Gopal. No one but a devotee can understand this. Madhavendra Puri offered water to Gopal by washing his mouth. And he gave him betel nut to chew. Then arati was performed. All the people chanted “Jai Jai” arranging for the Lord’s rest. Madhavendra Puri brought out a new cot. And over this he spread a new bedspread and thus made the bed ready. A temporary temple was constructed by covering the bed all around with a straw mattress. Thus there was a bed and a straw mattress to cover it. After the Lord was laid down to rest on the bed, Madhavendra Puri gathered all the brahmins who had prepared the prasad and said to them “Now feed everyone sumptuously, from the children upto the aged”. All the people gathered there and sat down to honour the prasad and by and by they took food. All the Brahmins and their wives were fed first. Not only did the people of Govardhan village take prasad but also who came from the other villages. They also saw the deity of Gopal and were offered prasad to eat. Seeing the influence of Madhavendra Puri all the people gathered they were struck with wonder. They saw that the annakut ceremony which has been performed before during the time of Krishna was now taking place again by the mercy of Srila Madhavendra Puri. All the Brahmins present on that occasion were initiated into the Vaishnava cult. And Madhavendra Puri engaged them in different types of services. And then it is described that after this wonderful ceremony, the inhabitants of various villages all around Govardhan were coming one after another saying “We want to sponsor the same festival for Gopal”. So Madhavendra Puri gave each one a date and every day for months and months and months the villagers brought the entire stock of all food and got all their Brahmins to cook mountains and mountains and mountains of food for Gopal.
So hopefully the people of Thane, Khar, Vasai, Poona, all the villages around Bombay will come together and offer this wonderful service to Gopal. This is a very important opportunity for us to become enthused and enlivened in devotional service. Actually these wonderful festivals are the Lord’s great mercy upon us because they give us an opportunity to really feel the spirit of bhakti. The spirit of bhakti is to celebrate the glories of the Lord at every moment of our life. Devotional service is a life of celebration at every moment. We are celebrating the glory and mercy of the Lord by chanting his name. By offering whatever we do for his glorification and of course when we come together with this enthusiasm that is the greatest, greatest benediction upon us that the Lord is giving us the opportunity. If we do not take advantage of the opportunity we are simply cheating ourselves of the mercy God is giving us.
Therefore these festivals are very important because Krishna consciousness is not simply a dry intellectual movement. Krishna consciousness is a life which is full of varieties of expression which are deeply rooted and in enthusiastic desires to please and glorify the Lord. That is why in the Vaishnava calendar there are so many festival days. These festival days are meant for our purification because devotees should come together regularly with incredible, immense enthusiasm and vitality to make a beautiful, beautiful atmosphere to celebrate the particular event that is taking place for the pleasure of Krishna.
Importance of festivals in Vaishnava culture is to render devotional service to Krishna enthusiastically
Srila Prabhupada used to tell us when you have temple, Rupa Goswami he explains that you must observe various festivals in the glorification of Lord Krishna. And of course our observing of these festivals is not simply ritualistic, it is not that we simply come together and watch someone do the pooja and think that “Yes, now I have become sanctified. I can go home”. It is not like that. It is a chance for each and every devotee according to his particular propensity and according to a particular consciousness to just completely dovetail his propensities in such a way to make the festival a wonderful festival for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just like new Vrindavan Govardhan pooja usually for one or two weeks before the actual day, devotees are cooking. If you have a full time service, what the devotees will do? Nobody was ordered to do it all spontaneously. This was how it’s been for years. You have to work constructively all day long. When you come back at night for two-three hours extra every night, start just cooking, just start to prepare your mountains. This atmosphere where devotees are making sacrifices to make the Lord’s festival something wonderful, it’s that enthusiasm that brings life, it charges everyone like a launching pad for a rocket. It takes the enthusiasm of the devotees to just catapult everyone’s consciousness towards Krishna. Because Krishna consciousness means enthusiasm.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur used to say that if you are not enthusiastic, you cannot render devotional service, you are a dead man. Our service is based on the principle of enthusiasm. And of course the greatest service that we offer to the other devotees is to enthuse them to surrender more and more to sacrifice more and more. Anyone who preaches against surrender, who warns some other not to increase your sacrifice, they are living completely contrary to the principle of bhakti. They are doing disservice. Our duties to one another is somehow or other, because it is so difficult to sacrifice, it is so difficult to be enthused in this age of Kali for God consciousness. By our enthusiasm we have to enthuse others to sacrifice more and more and more. For the pleasure of God. To give more and more and more of your time, your energy, your everything for the pleasure of God. Actually this should be an everyday affair. But by the Lord’s mercy atleast on festivals we should all come together to create a very, very joyous atmosphere full of life. Nothing pleases guru more than when he sees enthusiasm in our service. So what if we do not feel enthusiastic? You be enthusiastic for Krishna, right? We are not concerned what you feel, we are concerned with who you are. Enthusiasm is a sacrifice. You don’t feel enthusiastic, you act enthusiastic. And if you act enthusiastic, Krishna will see you want enthusiasm. And what is the result? He will make you the most enthusiastic devotee. Just like our Ashok, he is in the stock market right? You need money to make money. So this is the principle. Enthusiasm generates enthusiasm. It is not that you wait for enthusiasm. If you want to wait for enthusiasm then you will wait and wait and wait. Wake me up when I am enthusiastic. You are asleep birth after birth. Yes, yes I will wake up for mangal aarti. Some day I will be enthusiastic. You have to be enthusiastic under all circumstances. And that enthusiasm is like spiritual electricity. It generates light. And of course that’s the real benediction of these festivals. And that is one of the great requirements of temples because enthusiasm is contagious. Just like a few weeks ago Anjali had chicken pox, right? And because of her chicken pox, Priyavrath got chicken pox. In this way enthusiasm is also like chicken pox. If you are enthusiastic and I come in contact with you, I will become enthusiastic.
One must be enthusiastic and also enthuse others as enthusiasm generates enthusiasm
So it is your first and foremost duty to be enthusiastic and to enthuse others, enthuse others to work harder, enthuse others to put their heart in their service. There is no greater service you can render than that. And to enthuse you must be enthused, you must be enthusiastic. This is the great sacrifice because this is what gives our spiritual life meaning. How much we are willing to put into it. Not just put into it but really put into it. If you are going to cook, you should put your heart and soul into cooking and you should cook and cook like you have never cooked before because it is for Krishna. And if you never cooked before then you already know what its like to cook like you have never cooked before right? You hear this saying “Cook like you never cooked before”. So someone was asking me “I never cooked before”. So I said “It’s natural for you to cook like you had never cooked before”. So don’t use that as an excuse. You are actually in the high platform than rest of us right?
So this is the beauty of Madhavendra Puri’s glorious ceremony for the installation of Sri Gopal. Those who took part in the ceremony, they did not even consider whether they will eat tomorrow. They were so enthusiastic to please Gopal that the entire stock of all food in the whole village was cooked for one feast. They did not even consider, “What about tomorrow?” That is enthusiasm. You may say this is impractical, this is fanaticism. But in that sense, the Brijvasis are fanatics. And if you want to be a Brijvasi, you have to become fanatics like this. Doesn’t mean sectarian fanatic, it means just everything is for Krishna; Now!
So after this wonderful service that Srila Madhavendra Puri offered along with the Brijvasis to Sri Gopal, gradually people were so happy to have Gopal in their presence that they built a beautiful, beautiful temple right on top of Govardhan hill in very short time and they started bringing beautiful wonderful clothes and beautiful wonderful crowns and jewellery and all paraphernalia. Madhavendra Puri did not have to ask anyone. It just came continuously by the love of the devotees. And then after this Madhavendra Puri initiated some Brahmins who came from Bengal. And he put them in charge of the Pooja.
Sri Gopal appeared again in the dream of Srila Madhavendra Puri and asks for Sandalwood
And then Gopal appeared again in a dream of Madhavendra Puri. He said “Madhavendra Puri”, you have done very nice service. But I am still very very hot. Even the thousands and thousands and thousands of buckets of water from Govinda Kund has not sufficiently cooled me. I require sandalwood mixed with camphor from the Malayan hills. Of course, the Malayan hills are over 100 miles away from Vrindavan. It is all the way in Orissa.” “Hari Bol!” said Madhavendra Puri. He was not thinking, “What kind of crazy instruction is this?” Sometimes when Gurudev tells us to do something that isn’t according to what we think; we think “What kind of crazy instruction is this?” But Madhavendra Puri was thinking Ah! Krishna wants sandalwood.
Now he had no money. He was a mendicant. How costly huge amount of sandalwood and camphor are. Even in those days, it was being controlled by the Government. Madhavendra Puri, he just left, started walking. And on the way came Remuna. And there he had the darshan of the beautiful moorti of Gopinath. And when he saw Gopinath, he began to dance with great happiness before Him and chant the holy names of the Lord. He was told that there is a very special preparation of rice cooked with milk and sugar and it is cooked in very very unique and very very delicious manner and it is offered, I believe it is 12 pots every day at that time of day to Gopinath. So the poojari came to the various clay pots of kheer and put it on the altar and closed the doors for the Lord’s Bhoga. And Madhavendra Puri began to think, “It is such a special preparation to have. After the Lord finishes, I can taste just a small bit, and then I can get some understanding of how it is made. When I go back to Vrindavan, I will make similar preparation to Gopal.” This is the consciousness of a great devotee. Everywhere he is only thinking how he will best serve the deity of Krishna. In every situation, whatever comes before him, he is simply thinking, “How can I best serve my Krishna?”
A great devotee only thinks of how he can serve the Lord
Just like Srila Prabhupada in regard to his building of this temple for Radha Rasbihariji in Bombay. I remember I believe it was in 1974. He was in New Vrindavan. He was staying in one little grey house, very simple but nice grey house. And he was constantly thinking how to get this land for Radha Rasbihariji.
And even though he was giving lectures and he was guiding devotees, he was constantly writing letters, sending telegrams. He was immersed in the thought, “I must have this temple for Radha Rasbihariji.” And when he was in New Vrindavan, not only he was immersed in the thought for Radha Rasbihariji’s pleasure, but he was also everything he would look at he would see how it could be used for the service of Radha Vrindavan Chandra. Every time he would say, “You could take these branches and make toothbrushes for Radha Vrindavan Chandra. You could take these leaves and do this for Radha Vrindavan Chandra. Everywhere we would look and he was thinking, “How to serve Radha Vrindavan Chandra.” This is Krishna consciousness. The greatest enemy is selfishness. Everyone is so selfish and so self centred in this world. Everyone is thinking “Me”; I am in anxiety, right? I am sick, how can the world go on if I am sick? How is the sun in the sky because I do not feel good? For I last so much money, we think that it is the end of the world. We are all so much concerned with ourselves. It is so difficult to overcome the selfishness. But this is the process. You have to be constantly thinking, in every situation that what opportunity is right now for me to serve Guru, Vaishnava and Krishna. The best way to serve Krishna is to serve his devotees. But the devotees always want to serve Krishna also. This is why we have a deity in this temple. Some people ask, “Why do you need a deity in a temple? Krishna is everywhere. Because they have a focus that here is a form of Krishna and you can put your life to rendering beautiful service to that Lord. And anywhere you go, you could be thinking, “What can I do?” When you see a flower on the side of the road, you think how nice this flower will be for Radha Vrindavan Chandra, and for Radha Gopinath. You see some jewellery you think “Oh! Would I look nice with this nice necklace?” That is our nature. Is it not? So when you are Krishna conscious, you think, “Oh! Just imagine Gopinath wearing this nice necklace.” So Madhavendra Puri is sitting in Ramuna over a thousand miles from Vrindavan, when he heard that there were nice rice sweets offered to Gopinath, he was not thinking, “Oh! My God, it has been such a long journey. Now I can enjoy some nice sweet rice. I have not had any nice prasad for weeks, now I can enjoy nice sweet rice.” No. He did not even consider himself. He was simply thinking, “Nice sweet rice. How can we offer to Gopal?” Anywhere he was in the world, he was thinking, “What can we do for Gopal?” This is the quality of a sincere devotee. So he became very embarrassed.
He started to think, “Gopinath is still taking sweet rice and I am thinking of tasting sweet rice while he is still eating.” He considered himself so fallen and so sinful that he just chanted the holy names of the Lord to try to purify himself and then he just very quietly left. And he went into the market place and went into a quiet place to try to purify his consciousness for what he considered to be a very sinful thought. He started to chant the holy names of the Lord.
Gopinath deity stole a pot of sweet rice for Srila Madhavendra Puri
Meanwhile, the poojari went on the altar and took off all the Kheer in the clay pots and put the form of Sri Gopinath to rest in the afternoon, and he went to take rest. And Gopinath appeared to the poojari in a dream. And he said, “My very very dear devotee, Madhavendra Puri. I have stolen one pot of Kheer and I have kept it hidden on my side. I want you to come immediately and I want you to find Madhavendra Puri and deliver to him this Kheer. He is my pure devotee.” So the poojari was struck with wonder. And he went out to the market place and he began to call out in a loud voice, “Madhavendra Puri, wherever you are, please come. Gopinath has stolen one pot of Kheer just for you.” And he was going to every corner, every area of the town. And all the people of the town were in great curiosity as well as great reverence. Who is this Madhavendra Puri? He was the talk of the town. Gopinath has become a thief and stolen sweet rice just for him and Madhavendra Puri, his name being called and when he came forward the poojari and he met, they were both exalted Vaishnavas, pure devotees of the Lord. When they met, when they saw one another, tears of love came to their eyes. And then the poojari explained the very special divine mercy that Gopinath was offering to his devotee. And when Madhavendra Puri heard this, he was overwhelmed. How myself, so unfortunate, fallen, so sinful and the Lord is so kind, infinitely kind that he is showing this special mercy to me. Any mercy that comes upon the devotee, if you are actually a real devotee, you never think that you deserve it. You will consider that this is causeless. If you deserved it, it would not be mercy. Right?
Mercy of the Lord is always causeless, but if we think we deserved it, it would simply be business
Mercy means something you do not deserve but you are getting it anyway for your benefit. If you deserved it, it would simply be business. Right? I paid the price. If you go to a store and you pay the price for an object and the owner of the store said, “OK. Here you have bought this loaf of bread. Here is the loaf of bread.” Do you say, “Oh! Thank you for your mercy”? No, you just say, “Thank you.” It is not mercy. You paid for it. But if you come and do not pay anything and he says, here take this, I love you, this is mercy. So whatever comes in the life of a great devotee, he understands that this is the Lord’s mercy upon me. I do not deserve it. If it is happiness or distress, pleasure or pain, success, failure, honour or dishonour, a devotee considers that this is all for his purification. I do not deserve it and I am grateful. It is His mercy upon me.
So Madhavendra Puri was overwhelmed with love to see the Lord’s causeless mercy. And he took that sweet rice and he drank it as he was crying in transcendental ecstasy. And then he took that pot, he broke it into little pieces, wrapped it with a cloth and everyday he would eat one little particle of that clay pot. And as he was doing it, he would be immersed in the remembrance of the causeless mercy of Gopinath upon him. And his heart would melt with love. But he considered himself in a very dangerous condition. Because of what had happened, the whole of Remuna was celebrating this glorious past time of Madhavendra Puri. And he was thinking that now I am becoming famous. This is very bad. I will become proud. So he secretly, without saying anything to anyone, he left the village. And he went to the next village. And when he got to the next village, his fame had already been there as well. The news of Gopinath’s mercy upon Madhavendra Puri spread like wild fire amongst all the devotees. Everywhere he went within a short time, they understood this is Madhavendra Puri. And then he would have to secretly, quietly leave the place.
A great soul is always selfless
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur one time on his Vyas pooja, everyone around him was chanting his name, offering garland, offering him obeisance’s, offering him beautiful, beautiful prayers of love, devotion, glorifying him like anything. And Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur he said that “In feel like I am a dog sitting on a throne”. He said that for your sake I have to accept this”. It is all meant for God, who am I to accept on behalf of God, nothing is mine. But who am I to even accept on behalf of God? Who am I to deliver glorification to God? I am only a dog. But for your benefit I must. So great devotees, there is nothing more than being glorified. But they are willing to go to sacrifice understanding that actually the glory belongs to my guru and Krishna and the glory is not mine but I have to go the severe austerity of accepting on their behalf and passing it off. This is the selfless position of a great soul.
Srila Madhavendra Puri collected sandalwwod and camphor for Gopal and set out for a long journey to Vrindavana
So Madhavendra Puri in his particular mood, as soon as anyone recognised who he was he would disappear. And he came finally to Jagannath Puri. And when he came before the beautiful form of Balaram, Subhadra and Jagannath Swami, he began to dance with great ecstasy with great joy. But he was always remembering his mission to Gopal. He was always immersed in meditation, fulfilling the desire of Gopal. Within a short time even all the poojaris and priest and vaishnavas in Puri understood that he was Madhavendra Puri. Here is one that Kshirachora Gopinath became famous for stealing the sweet rice for. For at this time Madhavendra Puri understood he could utilise his fame in Krishna’s service. Everywhere else he was running away because he did not want to enjoy the fame for himself. But now he was thinking “You are so much wanting to help me, I need some sandalwood and camphor for Gopal, I have no money”. He didn’t say like that but it was understood. He was a beggar, he was a mendicant. He had nothing very expensive. So he told the poojaris about the dream he had of Gopal. So immediately out of love for him because of his exalted position, they made all arrangements. They purchased and arranged for all the sandalwood and all the camphor. And they even told him that we will send some people to carry it. It was very heavy, large quantity. And then he began his journey back to Vrindavan.
Now of course in those days, specially such a commodity as sandalwood and camphor is very very valuable. And he had to walk over thousand miles, mostly in jungle and forest. There were many dacoits and robbers. Not only that but each district one would have to go through a checkpost. You know how they put down that barrier, so that you pay so many rupees. Depending on what kind of car you have, you have to pay so many rupees. So they have check post also. And how much they would tax for something like this. And God knows what types of people were there at the check post. So it is a very dangerous situation. But he did not even consider the danger. Just Gopal wants sandalwood. So he began walking to the jungles with loads and loads of sandalwood and camphor.
Sandalwood paste was applied to Gopinath deity on the instructions of Sri Gopal
And on the way, he came back to Remuna. And he was thinking, “Gopinath, his causeless mercy upon me, let me go and have darshan of Sri Gopinathji.” So when he went into the temple, all the poojaris of the Gopinath temple remembering him, were very happy. And they spent the entire evening in great joy discussing topics of Krishna, and dancing before the beautiful personality of Godhead, Sri Gopinath. And that night Gopal again appeared in a dream to Sri Madhavendra Puri. And Gopal explained that how much trouble you are taking for me, such a wonderful loving devotee you are, but it is very dangerous and full of hardship carrying this sandalwood back to Vrindavan. That I am not different from Gopinath, we are one and the same person in two bodies. Therefore, you stay in Remuna and you stay there for the entire Caturmasya Mas and you cover his body with the sandalwood and with the camphor, each and every day. And myself, in Vrindavan I will feel the cooling effects.
So they arranged first for Brahmins to spend practically all day grinding the sandalwood and make it into beautiful pulp with camphor. And they would cover the body of Gopinath each and everyday. So in this way, the wonderful pastime of Srila Madhavendra Puri was being narrated by Srila Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He began to explain that Madhavendra Puri was generally travelling alone. Why? Because he had great fear that if he had any other companion, he would speak something mundane. And he understood that mundane sound vibrations are so contaminating that he did not even want to risk it. In this way, he was constantly chanting the holy names. Of course, we cannot imitate such great souls. For one who is a Paramahamsa in the level of Madhavendra Puri, he can be like this. But for someone who is a striving devotee, he must accept the order of the Guru, how to become advanced.
Association of sincere devotees is required for advancement in Krishna Consciousness
And the most important consideration in advancement in Krishna consciousness is the association of sincere devotees. But following in the footsteps of Srila Madhavendra Puri, we must understand that in our association of devotees, we should never gossip, we should never talk nonsense. Whatever we speak amongst each other should be positive and constructive to enthuse and to inspire one another in sacrificing more and more and more for Krishna. Whatever we speak, we should speak about the glories of the Lord, the pastimes of the Lord, the names of the Lord. We should speak of our service to the Lord and how to better and better and better our service. Idle gossip, Raghunath Goswami says, is the prostitute which steals all one’s inclination to devotional service away from your heart. Rupa Goswami says that there are 6 Bhagums, there are 6 pushings, that must be tolerated. And one is the urge to speak. It is the natural tendency of the tongue to speak all nonsense. To gossip, “Did you hear what happened to this person yesterday? Ah! Oh, you think that’s bad.” And you usually not only give a report but you give a very enthusiastic report, embellishing with all sorts of creative adjectives.
That’s why you should know the story of Saraval Singh. You have heard the story of Saraval Singh. Someday I will tell you the story of Saraval Singh. One time there was a washerman, you know the story. I am trying to remember the story. I will tell it some other time. But the moral of the story is that propaganda can completely, completely turn people’s consciousness to believe something that is not even real. And how is it all originated? Through gossip. Through the uncontrolled tongue. So Madhavendra Puri was so strict in his principles, so strict that he would not even have a companion out of fear that he would speak even one word of gossip or nonsense or that was not related to Krishna consciousness.
Srila Madhavendra Puri’s mind was always fixed in the Lord
And Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is explaining how Madhavendra Puri, he was always fixed in the highest feelings of loving separation of the Lord. When he was about to leave this world, he was crying out a very, very famous verse. The verse which was originally spoken by Srimati Radharani after Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura. I would like to speak exactly the description of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this regard.
Sri Gopinathji was applied ground sandalwood pulp daily. The servants of Gopinath were very pleased with this. In this way the sandalwood pulp was smeared over the body of Gopinath until the whole stock was finished. Madhavendra Puri stayed until that time. This was during the summer and then for Chaturmasa, Sri Madhavendra Puri returned to Jagannath Puri where he stayed the four months there. Thus Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally prays the nectarine characteristics of Madhavendra Puri. And while he related all this to the devotees he personally relished it. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Nityananda Prabhu to judge whether there was anyone within the world who was as fortunate as Madhavendra Puri. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said Madhavendra Puri was so fortunate that Krishna personally appeared before him on the plea of delivering milk. Three times the Lord gave orders to Madhavendra Puri in dreams. This is something very, very significant. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is explaining how fortunate Madhavendra Puri is because each time the Lord appeared to him he gave him orders to engage in particular, very difficult types of devotional service.
Greatest fortune is to be able to do service for Krishna on Guru’s instructions
Sometimes we think we are fortunate when Krishna gives me a raise of salary or Krishna gives me some nice position. But Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is explaining Madhavendra Puri is the most fortunate because Krishna was constantly giving him very difficult type of devotional service. The greatest fortune we have is when guru says to do something for Krishna. According to Caitanya Mahaprabhu that is the supreme fortune, that three times the Lord gave Madhavendra Puri personally very, very difficult service, this was his great fortune. Being obliged because of the loving affairs of Madhavendra Puri, Lord Krishna himself appeared as the Gopal deity and accepting his service he liberated the whole world. On account of Madhavendra Puri, Lord Gopinath stole a pot of sweet rice. Thus he became famous as Kshirachora Gopinath. Madhavendra Puri smeared the sandalwood pulp over the body of Gopinath. In this way he was overpowered with love of Godhead.
In the provinces of India governed by the Mohammedans, there was much inconvenience in travelling with sandalwood and camphor. Because of this Madhavendra Puri might have been caught into trouble. This became known to Gopal deity. The Lord is very merciful and attached to his devotees. So when Gopinath was covered with sandalwood pulp, Madhavendra Puri’s labour became successful. Caitanya Mahaprabhu placed the standard of Madhavendra Puri’s intense love before Nityananda Prabhu for judgement. All his loving activities are uncommon, Caitanya Mahaprabhu said. Indeed one is struck with wonder to hear his activities.
A devotee finds his only enjoyment in the service of Krishna and does not care for personal inconveniences and impediments
Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, Sri Madhavendra Puri used to remain alone. He was completely renounced and always very silent. He was uninterested in everything material and for the fear of talking about mundane things he always lived without a companion. After receiving the transcendental orders of Gopal, this great personality travelled thousands of miles just to collect sandalwood by begging. Although Madhavendra Puri was hungry, he would not take food to eat. This renounced person carried a load of sandalwood for the sake of Sri Gopal. Without considering his personal comforts, Madhavendra Puri carried one mound, about 82 pounds of sandalwood and 20 tolas, about 8 ounces of camphor to smear over the body of Gopal. This transcendental pleasure was sufficient for him.
Since there was restriction against taking sandalwood out of Orissa province, the toll official gave a stock of Madhavendra Puri showed him the release paper given by the government to consequently escape from difficulties. Madhavendra Puri was not at all anxious during the long journey to Vrindavan, through the province governed by the Mohammedans and filled with unlimited number of watchmen. Although Madhavendra Puri did not have a fardi with him he was not afraid to pass by the tall officers. His enjoyment was carrying the load of sandalwood to Vrindavan for Gopal. A devotee learns to find his only enjoyment in the service of Krishna. “Seek and you shall find it” is explained in the Bible. If you seek pleasure only in your service, you will find the ultimate pleasure in your service.
If you are not finding pleasure in your service then you will be looking for pleasure elsewhere in your own sense enjoyment. This is the natural result of intense love of God. The devotee does not consider personal conveniences or inconveniences or even any impediment. In all circumstances, he wants to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It is natural for those who have developed intense love of Krishna not to care for personal inconveniences and impediments. Such devotees are simply determined to execute the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or his representative, the spiritual master. In all circumstances, even amongst the greatest danger, they undeviatingly carry on with great determination. This definitely proves the intense love of the servitor. Sri Gopal wanted to show how intensely Madhavendra Puri loved Krishna, therefore he asked him to go to Nilachala to fetch sandalwood and camphor. With great trouble and after much labour Madhavendra Puri brought the load of sandalwood to Remuna. However he was still very pleasant and pleased despite of all the difficulties. Sometimes we complain how difficult our service is. “Guru, you asked me to do this? This is very difficult. Don’t you feel sorry for me? Do you know what I am going through? Just try to imagine what I am going through. I have to do this. This is not my propensity. This is not my nature. This is not my inclination. This is not even what I want. I hate to do this. But I am doing it. Don’t you recognise what sacrifice, what austerity, what difficulty, what hardship, just for my guru”.
Madhavendra Puri did not even consider the difficulties. He was so much in trouble, so much labour. However he was very pleased. What was he pleased with? “That I have a service. Krishna has given me some service”. He was pleased with service. And he discounted all the difficulties. This is the transcendental difference between material world and spiritual world. In the material world, everyone wants to be in the centre. But in the spiritual world, everyone wants to put Krishna in the centre. So on this birthday there is wonderful opportunity for everyone to gather and put Krishna in the centre. This is something very wonderful. So we thank Nathji prabhu and Maitalipriya mataji for making this nice evening possible.