I welcome everyone to RadhaGopinath Temple, especially my dear God brother Mahaduti Prabhu, very senior disciple of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, who has for over thirty years, given his life and soul to serve the Vaishnavas and spread this great mission. He was President of the temple in Downtown, London for many years. He has been a great Book Distributor and I don’t want to spend too much time but in quality, he is a very dear friend and a person who has really given his life and soul to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission.

He has been very progressively and intimately engaged in some of the greatest projects of Srila Prabhupada. Let us whole heartedly welcome Mahaduti Prabhu to Sri RadhaGopinath Temple (everyone loudly greet ‘Haribol’ three times…)

This morning, I asked Govinda Prabhu what I should speak about today and his reply was to speak about Kåñëa. (Everybody laugh…) Since Janmashtami is coming in just a few days, so on his order and with your permission, Can you all hear me nicely? (Everybody say “Haribol”) I will try to say something about Kåñëa.

Spiritual Strength:

A few days ago we celebrated, Lord Balaram’s Appearance day. Srila Prabhupada explained to us how we must gain the blessings of Lord Balaram inorder to approach Kåñëa. Bala means Strength. Balarama means one who takes great pleasure in exhibiting his strength and his strength is not material, it is spiritual. The real and only strength is spiritual strength because all apparent material strength is completely resting upon the spiritual platform. People may be strong because of their knowledge or because of their physical powers or because of their wealth or their influence over others or their beauty. So many ways, people can conquer others by strength but none of that can be exhibited in a dead body. What is the humour or the prowess or the intelligence of a dead body? As soon as the soul leaves, the body is nothing but a dead lump of matter. Actually, it is the spirit soul; that is the source of all strength.

In all species, the elephant is considered a very powerful animal. But when the elephant is dead, then the insects eat him. Can’t defend itself from being eaten to the bone by insects. The strength of the soul is only because we are part and parcel of Kåñëa.

mamaiväàço jéva-loke

jéva-bhütaù sanätanaù

(Bhagavad Gita_15.7)

Every living being is part and parcel of Kåñëa. Whatever attraction, we may have toward others, it’s only because we are living and we are only living because, we are a part of Kåñëa. So when we try to solve problems on a material platform, the best we could do is arrange for some temporary cosmetic relief, but no problem can really be solved by material efforts.

Eternal Solution to Problems:

Prahlad Maharaj told that the solution to the problems that people make on the material platform, they generally create more difficult, complicated problems, then the real problem and that’s actually the solution. And we see within the world today, the biggest complicated problems are due to previous solutions to smaller problems. Global warming, so much politics, nuclear arms, pollution, sectarian religious fanaticism; they are all sprouted from people trying to solve problems. So therefore, a devotee understands that only taking shelter of the Lord and being an instrument of the spiritual power of the Lord could really solve any of our own problems or anyone else’s problems.

The Bliss of Serving:

Lord Balaram appeared within the womb of Devaki inorder to prepare the way for Kåñëa. In the spiritual world, Lord Balaram manifest as the spiritual world. Vrindavan is an expansion of Lord Balaram and similarly the Lord’s ornaments, his shoes, his clothes, his paraphernalia are all expansions of Balaram, who is ever enthusiastic to serve Kåñëa,. Balaram is God himself; non different than Kåñëa but in a role of service to Kåñëa. And Kåñëa’s always eager to serve Balaram. So the Supreme Absolute Truth is always eager to serve. There is a beautiful song and also description in the Shastra of little baby Kåñëa, floating in the ocean of dissolution of Banyan tree leaf, in a little baby form, sucking on his toe. Now why would God, the All-mighty, whose partial manifestation is Jehovah, Allah, Nrsingha, Vishnu and Maha Vishnu; why would he want to suck on his toe? Because he sees the ecstasy of his devotees, how happy, how blissful they are by serving those feet, that he wants to taste what they are tasting.

Similarly Kåñëa appeared as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to taste the nectar of the love of his devotees, especially Radharani, who is the source of all devotion. So there is no greater aspiration, than to be the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord. Even the lord is aspiring for that position. So Balaram is eternally engaged in loving service and as Lord Nityananda Prabhu, he has come in this world to prepare the way for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; who is Kåñëa himself.

So Balaram appeared in Devaki’s womb to make it into the spiritual world. So that Kåñëa could come and be happy. And to assist Kåñëa in performing the greatest of all services within material creation, to deliver the conditioned souls and attract our hearts back into his loving service. Now Balaram’s appearance day is extraordinarily special. Not only is it because Balaramji appeared on that day, but some of the most wonderful pastimes that we read about Kåñëa happened on Balaram’s appearance day. Because Balaram is Baladev; He is full of all spiritual strength, who is serving Kåñëa in all the various Rasas. In neutrality as a servant, as a friend, as a lover in his expansion of Ananga Manjari and also because he is older brother, he had Vatsalya Ras, he was always protecting Kåñëa. That was his love.

Giving gains blessings:

So many of his most wonderful pastimes could only take place when Balaram was not there. And Balaram did not go out to herd the cows or with the calves with Kåñëa, every year on his birthday because Rohini would keep him home and perform a special sacred bath for his protection and also having to give so much charity, to the brahmins and to the common people. So this is the Vedic way of celebrating Birthday. Not to take, but to give; because if people give you things, you get things. But if you give to others, you get blessings. When you receive blessings from great souls, when you render service to great souls, we acquire something that is forever.

nehäbhikrama-näço ‘sti

pratyaväyo na vidyate

(Bhagavad Gita_2.40)

Kåñëa tells in Gita, any endeavour on the path of devotional service is eternal. It’s on the spiritual platform and it never ends. So when you give gifts to a devotee, you are rendering devotional service and you are gaining wealth that nothing in creation can never take away from you. So the greatest gift is the opportunity to serve. Somebody does something for you, it’s alright. But if you could do something for someone else, that is glorious. So Rohini thinking, how important Nanda Maharaj, how beloved Balaramji is to them, wanted him to gain the greatest blessings on his birthday. So all day along he would be giving gifts to people, especially the Brahmins and taking blessings.

Lord Brahma’s Bewilderment:

One year Lord Brahma, he stole all the calves and all the cowherd boys on Balaram’s appearance day and then the next year, he came exactly on the same day to see what happened and he saw that apparently, nothing happened. All the Gopas and all the calves were still playing, he was thinking but I stole them all and he knew what they look like. They were all in a cave, in some mystic slumber that Brahmaji put them in; but at same time, they were all playing with Kåñëa. Kåñëa personally expanded in self identically to be each calf and each Gopa, so much so, even their own mothers and fathers could not even question that they were not their original children. The only difference is they loved their children more than ever before. They loved their children just like they loved Kåñëa, only Balaramji detected it just a few days before his birthday, the next year. And it was on Balaram’s birthday that Brahma came and realized when he was utterly bewildered. How is it that everything is the same? Then every calf and every Gopa manifested a wish, Vishnu form with four arms. Then he was really bewildered, he was speechless and after that everything disappeared and all was left was Kåñëa; standing alone, looking for his friends with a lump of fruit salad in his hand. And when he saw Kåñëa in that most innocent, unassuming form of a cowherd boy, Brahma realized His Supreme opulence and surrendered.

The Venom of Kaliya:

Soon after that, Kåñëa entered into his Pugandha Age between 6-10 and on the bright fortnight, the eighth day of the month of Kartik, which we call Gopashtami; Kåñëa and Balaram with a beautiful ceremony were given the service of taking care of the cows; from the calves to the cows. They were only six years old. That same year, in the summer time, on Balaram’s appearance day, Balaram stayed home to take his Abhishek and giving charity. And on this particular day, Kåñëa and the Gopas; they were herding the cows and somehow the cows became very thirsty and they ran to a lake that was just on the side of the Yamuna River. Large lake! And they drank the water and the Gopas also being very thirsty that day, they began to drink the water. Suddenly, they all fell unconscious. The water was poisoned by the presence of the serpent Kaliya. How strong was this poison? This poison was so powerful, that it caused all the water in the entire lake to be boiling. Can you imagine? And this, the Hari-Vamsha explains that it was one Yojana wide. This lake was eight miles in size and the whole thing was bubbling and simmering, smoke coming off it, sparks coming out of it. It was very deep also. But the Gopas somehow or the other did not notice it. It was so powerful that just the breeze, the touch those poisonous waters became so vaporous, that any bird that flew over head however high would immediately drop dead. And for long distances, all around the lake, there was nothing alive. Any animal, any tree, any vegetation, everything died. Just by the breeze that may have touched it.

Wonderful, Powerful Potency of the Lord:

Now one may ask how is it that the Gopas could die, because according to the Bhagavatam they were dead. Because we understand that many of them were Nitya Siddhas. They descended from the spiritual world with Kåñëa and Balaram; so they had spiritual bodies.

éçvaraù paramaù kåñëaù


That Kåñëa’s body is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. On the spiritual platform, the body and the soul are one and the same. So how could the cowherd boys die, if their bodies are immortal? Kåñëa’s Lila Shakti, his potency, which is especially for making his pastimes very attractive and very pleasurable, made it appear that they were dead. Then Kåñëa; who is all merciful, he glanced upon all the cows and the Gopas, that glance alone, brought them all back to life. They opened their eyes, they stood up and they looked around and they were wondering because they were feeling within their heart of hearts by Kåñëa’s own arrangement, that they were dead. That they had just died and Kåñëa’s glance brought them back to life. Now they would not think that Kåñëa is God because that would interfere with their loving friendship with him. So they were thinking that Garg Muni; he said that Kåñëa was very powerful and that he would always protect his devotees, so he must be empowered by Lord Narayan to do these things.

Kåñëa then, after giving life by his simple glance to the cowherd boys, wanted to do something that would be forever engraved within the pages of history. One of the most wonderful of all pastimes ever manifested within Brahma’s creation. Now how Kåñëa’s glance can give such life to the dead? That is the subject, that many volumes of books can be written on. An expansion of an expansion of an expansion of Kåñëa; Karnodakshayi Vishnu or Mahavishnu, simply by his glance, he impregnates the entire cosmic manifestation with life. First is the Maha Tattva and then by the glance of Vishnu, he impregnates all living entities into material creation. And by that glance, he activates the three modes of the material nature and all life and creation begins to move. So factually, all life within the entire creation has been brought about by one moment glance of an expansion of an expansion of an expansion. That is his power.

Kåñëa’s Glance Awakens the Sleeping Souls:

When Srila Bhaktisiddhant Saraswati Thakur would say, “Do not try to see Kåñëa but try to serve Kåñëa in such a way, that he wants to see you.” This is a very deep and profound statement because when Kåñëa is pleased to see us then he casts his favourable glance upon us.


jév jägo, jév jägo, gauracända bole

kota nidrä jäo mäyä-piçäcéra kole

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Wake up sleeping souls. You are sleeping in the lap of the witch of Maya.” The soul is by nature a lover of Kåñëa. The soul is by nature, above the miseries of material existence, the soul is transcendental; but it is asleep and there is only one way to wake up the soul, to receive the favourable glance of Kåñëa. There is no other way. You can’t wake up yourself because Maya is covering you in such a deep sleep. Alarm clock may be able to wake up your body. But the Acharyas explained there are three types of dreaming in this world. One is when you are asleep and you are your dreaming. Two is when you are awake and you are dreaming to think that you are this body and this mind and that’s another type of dream, if you are not liberated soul, you’re asleep and this whole world and your whole identity and the whole life, everything about you is just a dream. Just the long dream and then at the time of the cosmic dissolution, when Mahavishnu inhales, then we all become unconscious and that’s another type of dream; And how to wake up from that dream- A dream that has been manifesting in these different categories since time immemorial. Only by Kåñëa’s grace; by his simple glance and when Kåñëa’s pleased with us, sincerely pleased with us-

Knowing Krsna through Bhakti:

bhaktyä mäm abhijänäti

yävän yaç cäsmi tattvataù

(Bhagavad Gita_18.55)

Kåñëa tells in Gita “Only by devotional service, can you know me as I am.” How is that? Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur explains; how there is no cause for Bhakti. Through Bhakti, we can attain Prema. What is the difference between Sadhana Bhakti and Prema Bhakti? The difference between an unripe mango and a ripe mango – They are actually the same thing. They’re not different, just different stages. So from Sadhana Bhakti, we attain Prema Bhakti. But where do we get Bhakti from?


sa vai puàsäà paro dharmo

yato bhaktir adhokñaje

ahaituky apratihatä

yayätmä suprasédati

(Srimad Bhagvatam_1.2.6)

Bhakti is unconditional, it’s causeless. Rupa Goswami explains, “We can only attain Bhakti from Kåñëa and Kåñëa only manifests Bhakti through the heart of his devotees, when we associate with devotees, we become attracted to the association of devotees somehow or other. And by their blessings, by their favour, Bhakti awakens within our heart. Kåñëa manifests Bhakti to us through his devotees. But what is it about that devotee? It’s the Bhakti in his or her heart that awakens our Bhakti. So Bhakti is causeless, it is eternal. We can only get Bhakti from Bhakti. When Kåñëa sees that we are pleasing, we are sincere, we are serious, we have no ulterior motives then he casts his glance upon us, which can come in many many different forms and then our Bhakti awakens. Our love awakens to our original identity. After awakening all the cowherd boys from death, as he comes to this world again and again and again, just to awaken us from death – “kali-käle näma-rüpe kåñëa-avatära” Kåñëa appears in his name, just to awaken us from a spiritually dead state to our true life.

Truly Magical Kåñëa! – Sometimes Heavy and Sometimes Light:

Now try to picture this scenario. Here is this massive eight mile wide lake. Its colour is a combination of yellow and red, filled with poison, bubbling horrible vapours, going in all directions. Even on the water, when the waves would hit each other, just by the friction of the waves, fire would ignite. Can you imagine that? Usually water puts out fire, but this water would start fire. In the 1960s, in Clevenohio, there was a newspaper by the counter culture who was really against the abusive establishment and it was called ‘The Burning River News’ (everyone laugh…) Now you may think what is this poetry, but it was actually historical because there was a river there, near lake Eerie and they were putting so much pollution from the industries. They were putting so mush waste and toxins in the river, that a boat, somehow or other, some sparks came out of a boat and lit the river on fire and it burned down the bridge on top of it. Hare Kåñëa! That toxin in the water, it made the water fiery. Now multiply that by billions of times and you have Kaliya’s lake. Flames and sparks shooting out of the water, so venomous! And here’s little Gopal, he is only about six years old and he smiles very very happily and climbs up a Kadhamba tree. Srila Prabhupad quotes the Acharyas “How is it that this Kadhamba tree still there? Everything around was dead.” He explained that Garuda knew that Kåñëa was going to come into this Lila, so he sat on that tree and put nectar on that tree to keep it alive. And that Kadhamba tree is still there today. Kåñëa climbed up that Kadhamba tree, very happy and pretending himself to be just like a human boy, he prepared himself for a fight. He waved his arms around and tightened his belt and then jumped in. Now Kåñëa was very small and that lake was huge, but when Kåñëa jumped in, it made such a splash. No one has ever seen such a splash. All the sides, all the shores of this eight mile lake were just over flowing with massive waves. The entire lake was agitated like anything, just by Kåñëa’s jumping in.

Yashoda Mayi, years before, she looked in Kåñëa’s mouth, Brahmanda ghat, on the banks of Yamuna and she saw the entire universe in Kåñëa’s belly. She looked down and there she saw the entire universe with a sun and the moon and the planets and all the devatas and all living beings and all the population of the earth, everything was in Kåñëa’s belly. Everything simultaneously was inside Kåñëa and outside of Kåñëa and Kåñëa is both, inside and outside of everything. There is Kåñëa and although the entire universe is within his stomach, Yashoda Mayi is picking him up and he is as light as a feather. Hare Kåñëa! But in other times, he just made himself very heavy and Yashoda Mayi had to put him down. So in this occasion, Kåñëa made himself, although the same size made himself so heavy like the universe.

The Egoistic Kaliya:

It caused such a splash and all this fiery, red, yellow water, saturated with the most deadly of all poisons which was just pouring everywhere, splashing everywhere and then, little Kåñëa smiling began to play in the water and was splashing and making so much of music, the way he was splashing. When he did this, all the associates of Kaliya were also venomous, they were very angry, began to hissssssss and tons of poison started pouring out of their mouth to intensify the poison of the lake. They were so angry and everyone was watching. The Gopas, the cows and Kåñëa was just going in circles, around and around and around and splashing and playing in frolic. Kaliya, he could not tolerate anyone coming into his abode. He was so absolutely envious and egoistic. ‘How could anyone come into his lake without his permission?’ Sometimes you go to people’s home and it says no trespassing and they have dogs barking to keep trespassers away or they have various types of locks and walls and security systems. Well Kaliya, he considered himself the enjoyer, the proprietor and he could not tolerate anyone. This is a demoniac quality, we become so possessive.

In the story about Kåñëa’s birth, we read about how the six sons of Marichi, they made an aparadh to Lord Brahma, so they took birth as the six grandsons of Hiranyakashipu and they went and did tapasya to Lord Brahma for long time to get mystical powers and benedictions and when Hiranyakashipu heard that his grandsons did that without his permission, he was so angry. How could you do this without my permission? That he cursed them all, to be killed in their next births by their own father Kalaneimi who became Kamsa and they became the six sons of Devaki who were killed by Kamsa. So this is an example- how the pure eternal selfless soul comes under the influence of the ego to such an extreme and we find that historically, when people became very very very powerful, they cannot tolerate anyone acting outside of their command.

Kåñëa in the Clutches of Kaliya:

So Kaliya, can you imagine, how angry he was? That this little cowherd boy was swimming around in his lake. So he appeared, his eyes were angry as anything and you know how many eyes he had? He had one thousand heads that means two thousand eyes. (Everybody laugh…) All those two thousand eyes were red as fire with anger. And he attacked Kåñëa and bit Kåñëa on the chest then after biting Kåñëa, he coiled his body around Kåñëa. Now here he is, there are the coils, Kåñëa is wrapped in the coils and on top of that there is a thousand heads. All breathing fire and they weren’t like the snakeheads that you see on the grass. These were massive. Each one of his heads was probably bigger than this whole temple. Huge heads! And he started to squeeze Kåñëa. Gopal became completely still and silent. Why? He wanted to increase the love of his devotees. As he did this, the cowherd boys were looking on and little Kåñëa whose limbs were so tender and soft were in the coils of this massive serpent and he appeared to be lifeless. He wasn’t moving at all. The Gopas, they fell unconscious in agony. They couldn’t tolerate seeing this and the cows, they were so absolutely stunned, that tears began to dwell in their eyes but the fear of seeing Kåñëa in this condition made their hearts so hot, that it dried up the tears. They couldn’t even cry for some time and then after sometime there was nothing, but tears. The cowherd boys would wake up and look up and see Kåñëa in that condition and again they would cry, they would weep, they would fall unconscious, meanwhile inauspicious omens took place on the earth, on the fire and  in the land, I mean on the earth, the land and the sky and in peoples’ bodies, there were earthquakes, there were meteors falling from the sky and everybody in Vrindavan; their body started trembling and their eyes were twitching. Nanda Maharaj, Yashoda Mayi and all the others, the Gopis and the Gopas; who were all in the village of Vrindavan, when they saw this, the only thing that they could think of is Kåñëa must be dead because they were always thinking of Kåñëa. And thinking that Kåñëa was dead, they were in so much absolute anxiety, that they were in the verge of death themselves. What saved them? It was Balaram. Balaramji understood what was happening and he knew that nothing could harm Kåñëa, so he smiled. Everyone else was weeping and gasping and about to die and Balaram was smiling. That smile was so powerful, that it kept everyone else alive. It can’t be so bad if Balaram is smiling.


Kåñëa Smiles through the Spiritual Master:


Sometimes we hear from Srila Prabhupad’s disciples that they simply live for Prabhupad’s smile. If we please Prabhupad and he smiles upon us, what else is there? That smile empowers us, invigorates us, it can help us overcome all obstacles. Well, what is Prabhupad’s smile, Balaram is the original guru. It’s Balaram’s smile manifest into the spiritual master.

yasya prasädäd bhagavat-prasädo

yasyäprasädän na gatiù kuto ‘pi

When the guru is pleased and smiles, Kåñëa smiles. It’s Kåñëa smiling through him. And when the Guru is displeased, it’s Kåñëa’s displeasure manifesting through. So Balaram’s smile empowered them with life and they began to search for Kåñëa.

The Ultimate Ornament of Vrindavan:

They looked on the ground and there were Kåñëa’s footprints. Now there are so many cowherd boys and there are so many cows, all leaving hoof prints and footprints all over Vrindavan, but Kåñëa’s footprints were very special because they had the conch shell and the gada and the lotus flower, different designs in Kåñëa’s footprints. And it is explained by Santana Goswami that whenever Kåñëa and the Gopas would go out to herd the cows- they all had a rule, peacocks, the cows, the calves, all the other animals, the Gopas; they would never ever ever step on Kåñëa’s footprints because they would consider it the ultimate ornament of the earth and the ultimate ornament of Vrindavan.

The Turmoil in the Hearts of the Vrajvasis:

So Nanda and Yashoda and all the Gopas and the Gopis, they all began to follow Kåñëa’s footprints in great haste and meanwhile there were earthquakes and there were meteors and their bodies were trembling and twitching and from a distance, they saw Kåñëa in the coils of this massive serpent. It was absolutely unbearable. They tried to ask the Gopas, what happened? How did he get there? And the Gopas would just fall down unconsciously, couldn’t even say a word. They were utterly tormented by this seeing because they were Prema-Bhaktis. Their only happiness in life was Kåñëa’s happiness. Kåñëa was their life and soul. They had already surrendered their bodies, their minds, their words, their property and everything to Kåñëa. They surrendered their hearts to Kåñëa. If Kåñëa is in danger, this is billions of times more painful than our own danger. When a mother loves her child, to see the child in pain is far more painful to the heart than her own pain. That’s the nature of love. Multiply that infinitely and we understand the pain of the residents of Vrindavan, when they saw Kåñëa, who was in apparently in a lifeless condition. Yashoda Mayi was weeping and heaving and she decided, she couldn’t just stand there. She was trying to jump into the lake of boiling poison, but the other Gopis; they were holding her back somehow or other. She was like a cow that was seeing her calf in such a dangerous condition. She fell unconscious and all the other Gopis they were in the same exact state of mind as her. Just to somehow or other keep her alive and keep themselves alive, they were all singing the pastimes of Lord Kåñëa; whose their only life.

Balaram’s Humour:

Meanwhile Nanda Maharaj and the cowherd men, they were delirious. Seeing Kåñëa in that condition, they all wanted to jump in the lake and swim over to Kaliya and try to fight him. But Balaram stopped all them. Balaram was laughing, everyone was weeping. Their hearts were broken, their minds were crushed, they were in total anguish and Balaram was smiling and laughing and joking. He said that ‘in my form of Shesha Naga, Kåñëa never plays with me like this (everyone laugh…) but he is playing with this insignificant mundane snake. What is his good fortune?’ Then he said to the residents of Vrindavan, “Why are you afraid? Do you think my little brother Kåñëa is in danger from this insignificant little water snake?” (Everyone again laugh out…) But they were not able to understand his humour. He was in the coils of Kaliya for 48 minutes; one muhurta and by this time, the intensity of the love in separation of all residents in Vrindavan was intolerable. It was killing them from within. Can you imagine Sri Radharani and the Gopis, Nanda and Yashoda, Sridama and Sudama? They were helpless. There was nothing they could do and Kåñëa was motionless.

The Dynamic Love of Kåñëa:

Now why would Kåñëa do this to his devotees? Why did he stay there all that time? This is the nature of love. Those who want simple Shanti or peace in life usually don’t become devotees of Kåñëa. They usually become some other type of Yogi because Kåñëa doesn’t care to give peace to his devotees (Maharaj and everyone else laugh out…) Kåñëa wants to give Prem, he wants to give love and love is dynamic. Compared to ecstatic love, peace is quiet boring actually (everyone laughs again…) It’s very dynamic. And Kåñëa arranges these wonderful wonderful pastimes just to increase the dynamics of that love. Because the soul is eternal and Kåñëa is the eternal source of all souls and Kåñëa is all attractive.

So all of the different devotees, whether they were in Madhurya Ras, Vatsalya Ras, Sakhya Ras or Dasya Ras, according to the relationship with Kåñëa . They were so totally absorbed in these feelings of separation from Kåñëa. He was right there in front of their eyes but the separation was that they were helpless to help him and it appeared that he was about to be killed. Now if they were thinking this is Vishnu, nothing could kill him, they wouldn’t be able to experience this ecstasy but by the Yoga Maya potency or Lila Shakti, Kåñëa appeared to be a little boy, their friend or their son. And therefore, the intensity of the absorption of their concern for Kåñëa, their prayer for Kåñëa, their love for Kåñëa was beyond limits.

Love in Separation:

Yes, Kåñëa  remained in Kaliya’s coils especially just to give that most extraordinary pleasure of transcendental ecstasy which appeared to be pain because the pain of love, when you lose a lover in this world is nothing but suffering. There is no pleasure in it because they are gone. But the pain of the love of separation from Kåñëa is ecstasy because Kåñëa is never separated from us. He is within the heart and he is reciprocating with the intensity of the absorption of our offering of love. So how Kåñëa increases the experience of his devotees’ love is most wonderful. And in this world, the dangers, the problems, actually they are opportunities to increase the absorption we have in Kåñëa. In fact, the six Goswamis taught by their own example and Lord Chaitanya’s teachings, ‘how to cultivate Love in separation?’ So Kåñëa  remained there and finally watched as all residents of Vrindavan were weeping and crying and screaming and praying and fainting and getting up and seeing it and fainting again and meanwhile, here is this massive thousand hooded serpent breathing poison and fire in the middle of the boiling lake of fire and Kåñëa is in this coils. Any of your mothers and fathers, imagine seeing your little child in that predicament. Hare Kåñëa! Whatever Bollywood or Hollywood movies there may be, wherever novels may be written, no one can create an adventurous scene like Kåñëa. In fact, whatever they advent is all by the power of Kåñëa. So when Kåñëa wants to stage a performance, it’s the ultimate. This is tragedy (Maharaj laugh…)

The Fierce Fight:

When they were all at the very limits, whether anguish was so deep and so uncontrollable, that they were all about to just give up their lives, at least apparently, then Kåñëa  expanded his body slightly and Kaliya with all of his power was trying to squeeze Kåñëa.  But that little cowherd boy expanded his body and the coils of Kaliya were opening, opening, opening… it was a struggle, Kaliya was squeezing and Kåñëa  was expanding and Kaliya couldn’t do anything except slack in his coils. Then Kåñëa just slipped out and jumped in the water. Haribol! (Everybody say Haribol…) and Kaliya was so angry with this. He wanted to bite Kåñëa, to eat Kåñëa. Though he was attacking Kåñëa with his hoods and Kåñëa kept going around in circles. He was effortlessly, circle after circle after circle and Kaliya, all of his thousand heads were attacking Kåñëa, he was going in circle after circle after circle and Kaliya was chasing and chasing and chasing and chasing until Kaliya got so dizzy, but he couldn’t touch Kåñëa  (everyone again laugh…) What a beautiful seen! And meanwhile, the residents of Vrindavan…What excitement! They were enthralled. What’s going to happen to Kåñëa, he is just swimming around. Then Kaliya is going behind. It’s unbearable for them to see this. And then Kaliya, all of his heads were dizzy. (Everybody laugh again…)

The Celestial Dance of Kåñëa:

The Lord; he took one of those dizzy heads, huge hoods and with one of his hands; he pushed the hood down and jumped on top and danced.  He was dancing and here are thousand hoods! There was a hundred and one primary heads, which were extremely powerful and they were all trying to bite Kåñëa, to eat Kåñëa and Kåñëa was dodging them all, dancing. He danced so beautiful on the hood of Kaliya. Nobody has ever seen such a dance performance like a theatrical actor. With his arms, with his legs, he was smiling, dancing and what a stage! You know how slippery a serpent’s hood is?  And yet, Kåñëa; he didn’t miss a step. Such slippery serpent head, moving around very fast and Kåñëa’s dancing upon it and how he danced!

Not there are dancers in this world, even the best dancers, they can do all these nice steps, make it twirl around and do circles, move forward and move backward, but let them try to do it on a moving serpent’s head. (Everybody laugh out loudly…) Kåñëa shows that he is the original source of all artistic talents. He was dancing so beautifully and he looked at the young Gopis because they were at that stage called Purvaraga where they hadn’t yet met Kåñëa in the nights. They were just five or six years old themselves. They were just beginning to develop that conjugal love, that love for Kåñëa. And as Kåñëa was dancing, he was giving side long glances upon them and through his glance; he was telling them that ‘Just be patient. You see how I’m dancing now; I would be dancing with you like this, in the forests of Vrindavan’.  As Kåñëa was dancing, the demigods were so enthralled, that the Gandharvas and the Charanas came down with Mrdungas and the wives of the devatas began to play different forms of drums and musical instruments for Kåñëa to dance.

The Lotus Feet of the Lord:

Those lotus feet which were so soft that; when Yashoda Mayi would touch them, they would change colours! So soft, there was nothing softer than the Kåñëa’s lotus feet. So lotus like, they were kind of pinkish blue; his souls of his feet. And when Yashoda Mayi would just touch them, they would turn colour because they were so soft. And the Gopis later on, they would be crying thinking of Kåñëa’s feet without any shoes, going through the pastures of Vrindavan. What if a pebble or a stone or a stick touches Kåñëa’s feet, how much it will pain him because they’re so soft. The Gopis were thinking even the softest part of my body may harm and cause pain to Kåñëa’s feet because they are so soft.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Kåñëa says “ye yathä mäà prapadyante, täàs tathaiva bhajämy aham” (BG_4.11) That Kåñëa reveals himself according to how we approach him. To the Gopis, Kåñëa’s feet were softer than the softest butter but to Kaliya, every single step of Kåñëa’s dance was like a massive thunder bolt crashing into his head and he was dancing very fast. Sometimes very fast steps- chi..chi..chiuk and for the Gopis watching and for the Gopas like chi..chi..chiuk was so such beautiful steps. What a dance! But to Kaliya, it was boom…boom…boom…(everyone laugh out loudly…) thunderbolt bashing his head, was unbearable. Every step, Kåñëa was smiling and kicking and kicking and kicking and kicking and kicking… how wonderful! This is Kåñëa. This is what makes Kåñëa so special of all avatars.

Different Weapons for Different Demons!

Hiranyaksha, there was a big fight with Varaha Dev and they were fighting with clubs and they were fighting with hoofs and feet and fists and finally Varaha Dev punched him and stabbed him with his tusk. And Lord Nrsingha Dev, there was a fight that lasted for hours with Hiranyakashipu and ultimately with his nails tore him apart. Such fighting! Ramchandra with Kumbhakarana and Ravana, fighting bows and arrows, cutting off their heads and piercing their hearts.

Now Kaliya was every bit as powerful, as any of these demons. And he had just killed all Kåñëa’s friends; he was really bad and was destroying all the vegetation of the Vrindavan forest all around it. So Kåñëa had every single reason to really be angry at Kaliya. But how did Kåñëa fight him? By dancing and smiling. He didn’t punch Kaliya. He didn’t use Sudarshan Chakra and he didn’t even use his cowherd boy’s stick. He just danced. That is Kåñëa. This is like Madhurya killing. (Everyone laugh again…)

The Defeat of Kaliya:

He was so sweet and after he danced for a while on one head, the head; just first fire started pouring out, then all the venom from that head started pouring out like vomit; probably, really ugly scene. You would’ve think of it was really ugly and it must have smelled, not just he was vomiting volumes and volumes of poison and then when all the poison was outside all over the place, then he started vomiting blood, snake blood, volumes of it. But because Kåñëa was dancing on him, the whole scene looked beautiful. This is Kåñëa’s supernatural power. Then that hood would just collapse, total, finished. And then another hood would attack Kåñëa and Kåñëa would just push it down and jump on top of it and do the same dance. Actually not the same dance because Kåñëa is ever new, ever fresh. Every step of Kåñëa’s dance is absolutely new, apparently never done before.

In the material world, there are certain dance steps. Like this is how you do this step and you just can do the same thing. Kåñëa invents a new dance every time he dances; ever new, ever fresh, ever exciting. Dancing and dancing on the next hood, until he bounded and crushed that head until poison, then blood, then the head just collapsed. Kåñëa did this over an hundred heads and it came to the point that Kaliya was on the verge of death and in that state, something happened.

Kåñëa Conscious Nagapatnis:

His wives, the Nagapatnis were great devotees of Kåñëa. They were always talking about Kåñëa and he hated it. But somehow or other they were so attached to Kåñëa. They were always praying to Kåñëa, “Please save our husband.” And he thought they were just a bunch of sentimental foolish women, but he was so powerful and great in his own estimation. He never respected or listened to any of their Kåñëa Consciousness but because of the association of his wives, the seed of Bhakti was within his heart. But because of his envy and his sins and his cruelty, it was totally covered. When Kåñëa danced and danced on his head, the pain and the anguish of what he was going through, uncovered his ability to appreciate what his wives had given him. And suddenly, that seed of Bhakti began to sprout and Kaliya became very humble, very submissive and he realized that Kåñëa is the Supreme Lord, the source of everything and the ultimate and only shelter for all living beings. And Kaliya, on the verge of dying took shelter of Kåñëa. At that point, the Nagapatnis; Kaliya’s wives, came forward with folded hands, to offer prayers to Kåñëa.

They were thinking; when they saw Kaliya trying to destroy Kåñëa, they were thinking, “Let our husband die. May be, by being killed by Kåñëa, he will be liberated and get a better birth in his next life.” But when they saw that their husband was actually humble, the first time they ever saw him like that and he actually taking shelter, they were so happy. This was the perfection and the answer to all the years and years of prayers and they came forward and praised Kåñëa that, “You are the source of everything; Kåñëa and see how fortunate our husband is; that you are dancing upon his head with your lotus feet.

Lakshmi Devi’s urge to serve the Lotus Feet:

Lakshmi Devi, she wanted to get the dust of the lotus feet of Kåñëa. In Vrindavan, there is a place called Srivan where for centuries, Lakshmi was performing tapasya to get the dust of the feet of Kåñëa, to get to serve the lotus feet of Kåñëa because we see Lakshmi is always serving the lotus feet of Naranyan but Kåñëa is a cowherd boy. She wasn’t allowed even after centuries of tapasya.  In Sri Rangam, Lord Chaitanya was speaking to Venkata Bhatta. He said, “You are worshiping Naranyan but Lakshmi left Naranyan to try to serve the lotus feet of Kåñëa.” And Venkata Bhatta said, “But Naranyan and Kåñëa are the same person, so there is no fault in Lakshmi” and Lord Chaitanya said “Yes, that is true. They are the same person and there is no fault in Lakshmi but she never got to serve the lotus feet of Kåñëa because she was too attached to being the queen of Vaikunta. She wasn’t willing to be a simple Gopi and carry cow dung on her head and milk cows and love Kåñëa in that; just as a cowherd boy and a cowherd girl. Spontaneous Madhurya bhav; so sweet!

Kaliya’s Good Fortune:

So the Nagapatnis were saying, “Even Lakshmi, after centuries of tapasya could not get the lotus feet of Gopal and even Brahma and Shiva, they are praying and doing tapasya. After years of tapasya, Lord Shiva took the form of Nandeshwar hill. He became a mountain in Nandagaon, just so that he could get Kåñëa’s feet on his head. And Brahma became the mountain in Barsana, four Mountains, to get the lotus feet of Radha and Kåñëa on his head and our husband Kaliya, he is the most sinful, he is the most wicked; he is the murderer. So many people he has killed and he is so envious but yet you are dancing on his head with your lotus feet. What could possibly have brought upon this good fortune except your causeless mercy.

Nagapatnis Plea to the Lord for Mercy:

So the Nagapatnis were praising Kaliya’s good fortune and after praising Kåñëa and praising their husband’s good fortune, they prayed that “Now, just see, he is humbly surrendering to you. Please spare his life and besides that, we will be widows and if we are widows, then who knows what other kind of atheistic snake is going to, want to exploit us; without a protector. But now our husband is a devotee. So save our lives by saving his life, so we can be under the protection of a devotee.” And on the basis of the prayers of the Nagapatnis, Kåñëa accepted Kaliya. And then in conclusion, Kaliya was; all of his heads were just laying down unconscious, completely devastated. But then one of them, somehow or other came up and it says it folded its hands. I don’t know what kind of hands he had (everybody laugh loudly…) and then he began to pray to Kåñëa. How fortunate he was and how merciful Kåñëa was and he said, “Kåñëa, please understand that we are all bound to act according to our previous conditionings. It’s very very difficult to someone to act against their own conditionings. And somehow or other, whatever my karma was in the past, I took birth as a snake, in a huge gigantic snake body, so naturally I am envious and I’m poisonous of all of these things. And even though my wives were giving me so many good instructions, still very difficult to act differently than our own conditioned nature.” And we see even as devotees, we are conditioned to certain types of enjoyment and how temptations and aversions are so powerful within us, very very difficult to overcome them. In fact, material conditioning is so strong that only the mercy of Kåñëa can help us.

Attracting Kåñëa’s Mercy:

Those two fingers of Yashoda Mayi that finally tied up Kåñëa represent the devotee’s personal determination and Kåñëa’s mercy. Kåñëa tells in Gita, ‘For the devotee who surrenders to me with enthusiasm and determination, I preserve what they have and carry what they lack.’ We have to be determined. We have to be enthusiastic to overcome the impediments of our own inner previous karmic conditionings and if we are sincere, serious and we do not have ulterior motives then we will attract Kåñëa’s mercy. And that mercy alone, which is attractive by our own serious endeavours, can help us to overcome our conditionings. But sometimes like Kaliya, in the process, Kåñëa smashes us. So that we really really deeply understand, the cost of our conditionings, of our sinful tendencies, so that we really deeply pray for his help and we really strive to overcome it. because if we take Maya lightly then we can never overcome her powers. We have to take it very seriously and sometimes we have to be really burnt before we take it seriously. Birth after birth after birth after birth, the laws of Karma appear to be punishment, but actually on a higher level of perception, the punishments of Karma are purifications. When we suffer, its meant to teach us a lesson and if we are armed with proper knowledge in the association of devotees, hearing Kåñëa’s words, we understand, we may not know specifically why I am going through this; what I have done in the past; but we can understand the principle that whatever sufferings I am going through or whatever addictions to sense gratification that we are inflicted with, its due to past mistakes we’ve done. Whatever addictions we have, we have cultivated them. We have fed them, we have created them and nourished them and it’s very very difficult to give it up.

But when we suffer, we realize it’s not worth it and when they understand how powerful material conditionings are and we are smashed by the results of them, it increases our determination, it humbles us and it causes us to really take shelter of the Lord’s Holy Name –

“hare kåñëa hare Kåñëa kåñëa kåñëa hare hare

hare räma hare räma räma räma hare hare”

Kaliya is delivered:

And that is exactly what happened to Kaliya and he is admitting ‘I have such bad conditions, such addictions, due to my past Karma’ But now, because he suffered so bad and because of the prayers of his wives, his wives were always praying for him, but he can never access the benefits of the prayers until he was in a such a humble state, then he accepted them whole heartedly and he surrendered. He said “Sir, please forgive me for my sins. Excuse me. I was acting due to my karmic reactions, but now I am yours.”

Now we all know the story of Garuda. Garuda was going to eat Kaliya but somehow or other, Garuda was not allowed in that lake in the Yamuna in Vrindavan. So that’s why Kaliya was living there. That’s a long story; it’s due to an aparadh. So Kaliya was thinking that actually after Kaliya surrendered and the Nagapatnis; his wives prayed, Kåñëa delivered Kaliya. He gave him pure devotional service and now Kaliya was praying, “I want to be the servant of Garuda.” Previously Garuda was his worst enemy. He said, “I want to be the servant of Garuda and because Garuda is your servant, carries you around, wherever you want to go, if ever Garuda is not around, just call for me and as his servant, I will carry you wherever you want to go.” Kåñëa told Kaliya that you should leave this lake and you should go to the ocean and take your wives and take your family and your children and all your friends with you and don’t fear Garuda because when he sees my footprints on your head, you will be his friend.

In this way one of the greatest of all the demons or asuras, the most envious and cruel, Kåñëa didn’t kill him. But he gave him pure devotional service and made him his eternal servant. And the scriptures explain that sometime in some yugas, when Kåñëa manifests his Lila in Vrindavan instead of Akrura taking Kåñëa to Mathura, to the wrestling match, Kaliya takes him. He became Kåñëa’s eternal servant, eternal loving devotee. That is the power of the prayers of the Nagapatnis; his wives.

Lessons from the Lord’s Pastime of Kaliya:

Through this story many lessons are there. One is the importance of being dear to the Vaishnavas, importance of having the prayers of a Vaishnav. Whenever a devotee who has love for Kåñëa in their heart prays for anyone; it’s just a matter of time; may be in this birth, may be in the future birth, but that love for God will awaken. That is the power of a Vaishnavas’ prayer because Kåñëa loves his devotees so much. He will never allow his devotees’ prayers to go in vain. Somehow or other to become dear to a devotee is the greatest aspiration for all of us. Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains that Kaliya represents envy, deceitfulness, harshness towards others, the demon of the mind, an anartha, but if we take the shelter of Kåñëa, he will transform that, transform hatred into love, envy into compassion, arrogance into humility. If we simply allow Kåñëa to dance on our tongues and we chant with that same type of sincerity as Kaliya did in the end and we have the prayers and Vaishnavas around us and this anartha within us will be transformed and the awakening of the Prema will take place.

This coming Friday is Janmashtami, where we will celebrate Kåñëa’s most glorious appearance within this world. Today, let us prepare our consciousness for this celebration by meditating on the most extraordinary sweet compassion that Kåñëa manifests within his Lila. And in the age of Kali, Kåñëa appears as Lord Chaitanya and all he did was dance, throughout the night in Srivas angan, throughout the Rath yatra parade. Sometimes all day and all night, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would simply dance and in his dancing, the sweetness of that all attractive dancing in the Nama Kirtan; he was removing the sins of all living entities who take shelter of him. Kåñëa told Kaliya that anyone who remembers this pastime and who takes shelter of me, I will give the same love, the same mercy, as I give to you and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught us how to do that. By remembering these beautiful pastimes, by remembering Kåñëa’s teachings and by taking shelter of him especially, through the chanting of the holy names –

“hare kåñëa hare kåñëa kåñëa kåñëa hare hare

hare räma hare räma räma räma hare hare”

Mercy of the Devotees and the Holy Name:

Srila Prabhupad had such great faith in Kåñëa katha, in hearing about Kåñëa, in speaking about Kåñëa. He had such great faith in the holy name of Kåñëa. He left Vrindavan with Kåñëa in his heart and however sinful, however fallen, whatever mistakes any living entity made, Srila Prabhupad knew with full confidence but simply by remembering Kåñëa and taking shelter of Kåñëa and chanting Kåñëa’s name, we could be delivered.

déna-héna jata chilo, hari-näme uddhärilo,

tära çäkñé jagäi mädhäi

Even Jagai and Madai can be delivered by the mercy of the devotees and the holy names. Kaliya is like Jagai and Madai. By the prayers of Nityananda Prabhu and accepting the holy name of Kåñëa, Jagai and Madai became pure devotees, but they suffered too. When Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stood before them with his Sudarshan Chakra, they were really suffering. But that suffering sobered them to accept Nityananda Prabhu’s prayers and be grateful for them and take shelter. Similarly, Kaliya, the prayers of his wives, the devotees, by realizing his mistakes, by being smashed, they took shelter and became pure devotees. So yes, someday, we could be dancing in kirtan with Lord Chaitanya, Lord Nityananda, with Kåñëa and the Gopas, the Gopis. We could be dancing with Jagai and Madai, we could dance in kirtan with Kaliya, with all of his thousand mouths are emanating not poison, but the sweetest nectar of the holy names –

“hare kåñëa hare kåñëa kåñëa kåñëa hare hare

hare räma hare räma räma räma hare hare”


Srila Prabhupad ki “Jay”

Thank you very much.



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.