Radhanath Swami: Thank you for coming today, special gratitude to the devotees, about 40-50 devotees from China have come to join us today, let us offer our sincerest welcome them by loudly chanting ….Haribol!!! I will speak for few minutes and then our devotees from China will explain to all of us wonderful devotional activities taking place there.
Srila Prabhupada & Kumbha Mela
I just came from Kumbha mela from Haridwar yesterday. Srila Prabhupad, every year, every Kumbha mela, he personally went. In fact in 1971 he just came to India couple of months before, with few of his disciples from foreign countries and in Jan that year there was arthaKumbha mela in Prayag. Srila Prabhupada took them all there, where they did NamaKirtan, Prasad distribution and Prabhupad was lecturing every day. Then in 1977 even though Srila Prabhupada’s health was very difficult, in fact it was the last year of his pastimes on this earth. In spite of all inconveniences and freezing cold there, he personally went to join his devotees in Kumbha Mela in Prayag. Just to put that emphasis, the importance. So this very moment in Haridwar the Kumbha mela is happening; millions of people have gathered there, all types of sadhus from all different traditions are together and Mother Ganga is flowing very mercifully.
Why Krishna stages amazing pastimes
I will just speak for a few minutes about how the original Kumbha mela, the very origin of this festival. It is described in Srimad Bhagvatam that Krishna stages things in such a way to give most crucial lessons to the world, because in order to make spiritual progress not only philosophy but stores of how people followed the philosophy and also the stories of people who do not follow the philosophy are important. What happens, when Krishna wants to speak to the whole world all time through all these scriptures He makes His lessons in such a grand scale with such powerful personalities that that lesson remains. Its like if Arvind Patel from Borivali makes some apradh to somebody we are not going to talk about it 5000 years later. But if it involves Indra and Durvasa Muni, it remains for ever. So Krishna stages things in a way that that it will have longevity, in lesson.
Devotee surrenders to the will of Lord
When Sukadev Goswami, he had seven days to speak to Parikshit Maharaj,Parikshit Maharaj wanted the essence, the highest perfection, he was the fit candidate. For Parikshit Maharaj there was no need of trying to gradually build a bridge to connect him to the path of dharma, Parikshit Maharaj had darshan of Krishna when he was in the womb of his mother, and saw Krishna saving him. He witnessed his Mother Uttara was crying out “Krishna please save my child, there is no way I can to anything to help him”. When the Brahamastra was coming and he had Uncles, like Arjuna, Yudhistira, Bhima, grandfathers. That was special person, and when he was cursed to die in 7 days, he had most powerful armies on earth, he could have marched to Shamik rishi’s ashram. Punished him for this misdeed of his son. Parikshit Maharaj understood the will of Lord. Today we heard a question from Brajbihari Prabhu, that if we are mistreated, should we tolerate it and forgive or should we clarify our position as being innocent or should we fight back, according to how it can best serve in the interest of God that’s how a devotee decides. Bhima, he was very…Anandvrindavan Prabhu asked the question, its very tempting to be like Bhima, to fight, to eat, so many things .But actually Bhima was a great Vaishnav .He was forgiving, he was self controlled, he did what he personally could do to best serve Krishna, yes,Krishna wanted him to fight that battle, so he had to do the needful for that purpose.Yudhisthir was doing all the forgiving and everything but it didn’t worked and Bhima had followed behind but it didn’t worked. So he did what Krishna wanted him to do, when Draupadi was offended, Bhima was very upset .It was not offense against him,it was offence against a great devotee, his own wife. But then we take his, Nephew Parikshit Maharaj, and he was cursed to die in 7 days. He didn’t get angry. He didn’t take revenge completely forgiving the little child Sringi and his father Samika Rsi. Not only did he forgive them he accepted that he was at fault. He made a mistake and he took it as the Lord’s blessings to be cursed to die in 7 days and because he did it this way he staged in Srimad Bhagavatam. He was simply doing what will be best for the interest of Krsna’s desire to help the fallen souls in this world. So we find Parikshit Maharaj and Bhima Maharaj they appear to be doing very different things but actually they are one. They both doing what would best serve the interest of the Supreme Lord. They were both like puppets surrendered to the will of Krsna.
So When Sukadeva Goswami arrived at the banyan tree on the bank of Ganga, hearing Parikshit Maharaj’s questions and seeing his sincerity he took the most important essential histories of not only of this universe but whole wide spectrum. Sukadeva Goswami is a self realised soul. His father was Vyasa Dev, who is a trikalajna. He took the essence of all knowledge and the histories that portrayed that best to teach people how to attain pure devotional service and its very interesting that how Srimad Bhagavatam choronologically progresses in the 8th canto he elaborately explains the surrender of Gajendra. He is not a human he was an elephant and how he was strong, proud and he was the king of the jungle and even the lions and tigers would offer all respects to him in fear. But in that situation he was the biggest animals, strongest of everyone, in this material world whether you are a demigod or an elephant, or you are anything in between, an insect, situations will come beyond our control. Material nature is so expert getting us, nothing could harm Gajendra,but when he was in the water, in those moments he wasn’t in his own element he was struck by a crocodile. In the land Gajendra would have crushed the crocodile in moments but in the water the crocodile had an advantage over him. So it was very inconceivable. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be defeated. Otherwise nothing could have harmed him and please know it he wasn’t living in the forest of kerala. He was on a heavenly planet very special place but still the crocodile caught him and he fought with all of his strength and all of his might and as time progressed he understood that there is nothing he could do. He was actually on the verge of death. He was about to die and there was nothing he could do about it. It was a situation totally out of his control.
Calamity brings remembrance of Lord
Now this is extremely painful when we come to this world we want to be controllers and when situations are painful, miserable and totally out of our control, its not only humiliating, it’s miserable. But it was in that situation in which Gajendra gave up his attachment to his elephant body and his elephant mentality and all the material possessions all around him because he knew that all going to be taken away in a second and at that point when he gave up his bodily conception knowing it wasn’t going to last and he gave up all of his illusions that he was the proprietor and he was the controller and he was the provider then he remembered his devotional activities from the past life. He was a devotee of Vishnu and he remembered many prayers. He plucked a lotus flower and offered it to Krishna and offered his prayers of love, prayers of surrender and amazingly Gajendra was not asking, ”Please save me from this crocodile”, “Please save my life”. His prayer was pure devotional service I am Yours my Lord. I offer my body, my words, and everything to You in the form of this lotus flower I am offering my whole life to You, do what you like to do I am Yours and Krishna came down and saved him. But how he saved him is interesting. He didn’t save his life and tell him I will go back home. He saved his life and then gave him a spiritual body and put him on a air plane and sent him to Vaikunta. It was real liberation.
Churning of milk Ocean
After this story Sukadeva Goswami talks about different manvantaras, different manus and different powerful beings who were administering the universe and comes to the point of Ajita, who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and He is born in this world and with His help the devas and the asuras churned the ocean of Milk and when the Mountain Mandara started falling into the ocean, Lord incarnated as Kurma Avatar to balance it and Parikshit Maharaj, He was so awake that when he heard this, he wanted clarification. This is absolutely fascinating churning an ocean of milk please tell me about this and how the Lord appeared as a tortoise. The story begins again with Indra. Now when we talk about Indra two things with great respect, because he is a deva, and his mistakes although in the Srimad Bhagavatam he is serving the purpose of the Lord. So we should understand if your mistakes were going to be recorded forever in Srimad Bhagavatam then you could acknowledge your mistake as being something very holy but they are not. So don’t make mistakes. Indra could do it and spread the message of Sanatana Dharma and pure devotional service through his mistakes. Because ultimately he was Krishna’s puppet, Krishna is using him. So in that perspective, with the different Manus changing, different people take the post of Indra. So the person who made this mistake is not the Indra of today most likely. So don’t worry about it. It’s like if you criticize the president of the United States who is five presidents ago, the current president doesn’t really care. It is not about him. It’s about somebody who was in his post who made petty serious mistakes.
Opulance brings Ingratitude
So Indra with power, wealth, prestige, riding on his elephant and Durvasa muni who renounced saint everything who owns nothing. Total difference between Indra and Durvasa. Durvasa is a sage who has no possessions. He travels around the world in the different places, he is performing tapasya, teaching people about yoga. And Indra is the king of kings of the heavenly worlds. So Indra on his elephant Durvasa Muni is standing on the ground. Now Durvasa Muni knows his powers and he wants to bless Indra. So he takes a fragrant beautiful garland offer on his own neck and offers it to Indra. Sometimes when you have a lot and you really think yourself great, you can not be grateful. If you are grateful it’s very unlikely that you ever make any serious offence to anyone. But if you are ungrateful it’s inevitable that you will. A grateful person thinks I don’t deserve anything. And in fact I deserve many difficulties in my life and somebody does good for me, somebody tries to help me we feel so grateful to that person. And if anything goes wrong and put you on suffering situation we are grateful. And grateful that it could be worse ands only this…taktenu kamoa sumiksha manau. We are grateful because its an opportunity to turn to God, we are grateful because its an opportunity to learn something whether we understand what we suppose to learn or not. If we are grateful the message will reveal to you. If we are not grateful the message will never reveal to you. So gratitude means any situation we grateful to whatever comes in our life. Even if there is reaction to our own mistakes, we are grateful that God through material energy or directly whichever way is trying to rectify from making this mistake in the future. And if we have done nothing wrong and still something is coming on me atleast that is what appears even if we cannot understand specifically why we are grateful because we have faith in the goodness of Krishna. We have faith that if we turn to Krishna, that’s the real success in any situation. Success is not how things turnout in this world, success is how we turn to Krishna in the process.
Gratitude really is to see the opportunity
Jagannath Mishra and sachidevi had eight daughters and each of them died immediately after birth. Now anyone who is a mother knows how painful that must be. You carrying a child in the womb for nine months and you love this child you want to serve this child, you have no children at all and you are yarning to have a child and he dies. You see it at so beautiful and he dies. Sachimata and Jagannath Mishra would each time they continuously increased their love and devotion to Krishna. They weren’t grateful that the child dies, but they were grateful that the opportunity to love Krishna to serve Krishna, to surrender to Krishna even in that sad situation. Then they had a son but he soon left home and took sannyasa . Very difficult life and when Krishna in the mood of Radha entered into the womb of Jagannath Mishra and Sachidevi, He remained in the womb for about thirteen months. Hare Krishna. Now if you are Brahmachari you don’t understandwhat this mean is. That’s a long time. That almost one and half time of pregnancy. So everything was happening and they were grateful and the result – Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu appeared as their son. They were really grateful. But then He took sannyasa and left them. So through this beautiful incident we understand gratitude really is to see the opportunity. But when we become proud we can not be grateful. Actual gratitude is a symptom of humility. Trinadapi sunicena...To be humble like a grass, tolerant like tree, offer all respect to others and expect none in return that is the formula by which one can truly take shelter of God through His holynames. Because when we are humble we think I don’t deserve anything whatever apparently good or bad is coming I am grateful for the chance. It’s a gift of god and I know what to do in that situation. To bow ones head and turn to god with love that is gratitude. Queen kunti prays “Janma aishwarya…….” That those who have material opulence especially wealth and beauty, education, prestige which may come from high birth or whatever, such persons the tendency is that they become proud of their beauty or their knowledge, or their strength, or fame .they cannot be grateful. they cannot cry out the name of the lord with feeling .
So here is indra, he is beautiful, he has unbelievable wealth, he is incredibly intelligent and highly educated, very famous, very high birth. So Durvasa Muni – a yogi with matted hair just walking around the street gives him a garland. Indra gets garlands all the time. It is interesting, somebody comes from the west, when they come to our temple, not a devotee person but an ordinary person, you give them garland and they are absolutely thrilled. They never got a garland before. they put in little plastic bags, save it show at home and have people take photos of them and they show other friends – you see they put garland on me. I wore a garland. They gave me a garland. Something very special and new! When you become a swami like Candramauli Swami, everywhere you go people smothering your face with garlands and he is just taking them off and thinking I wish people stop giving garlands. We take things for granted. we take great things for granted. Now a great personality doesn’t even take a simplest thing for granted. Srila Prabhupada was like that. If anyone did anything to assist him at any time in the mission of his guru maharaj, Prabhupada would never forget that, he was so grateful. Whether he was just coming out of jaladuta and had nothing or whether he was flying in a jet plane around the world 13 times with hundreds of devotees waiting for him wherever he went, whether staying with poorest people of America in bowry or whether he was living in beautiful palaces, his temples, Prabhupada was the same. He was grateful for even the simplest thing, whether it be a flower offered or just the enthusiasm of devotees’ service.
Don’t take bhakti for granted
So here we find Indra because he was proud he could not appreciate the simple gesture of being given a garland, and thus instead of seeing the blessing he just saw it something very ordinary. This is very very important lesson for all of us. Everything in Krishna consciousness is divine blessing of the Lord. And how much we deprive ourselves if we take it to be something ordinary! Every time we sit down to chant the holy names, every time we hear from a vaishnav speaking, every time we open srimad bhagvatam to read Prabhupada’s purport, every time we come before the deities, everytime we receive Prasad, we are receiving divine blessings. Factually it may have taken us millions of births of being born, struggle and die until we finally get these blessings. Its not ordinary. Its very rare. Any connection to Bhakti is the rarest thing. We benefit to the degree we are actually grateful to it. Because when we are grateful we are going to acknowledge it, we are going to respect it. we are going to reciprocate with Krishna and his devotees for giving it. But Indra, it was just another flower garland, the apsaras, gandharvas, the siddhas, they were all giving him garland all the time, this was another one. so he didnot see the beauty of god’s grace in this garland. he wasnot grateful. what did he do with it. he recklessly, carelessly threw it around the trunk of the elephant.
Necessity makes us realize importance
Now elephants, we have heard about Gajendra just before. Very interesting, two elephants stories one after another. Now if Indra was riding on Gajendra before the crocodile, Gajendra probably would have done the same thing. It is interesting because when Gajendra was in the mouth of the crocodile, he plucked a lotus flower and offered that flower with love and devotion from the heart of his heart to Krishna. Because he was totally humbled, he was grateful for the chance. Before I die I offer my life to you my Lord. And here there is whole garden of flowers and they were probably better than lotus flower Gajendra offered. And this elephant because he was not in the jaws of the crocodile, he was strolling around with the king of heaven on his back, very prestigious position for the elephant too. He was not grateful either. He did not understand the value. Sometimes unless we are really in desperation we don’t understand the value of something. Necessity helps us to understand the value of something. For example if you are bathing in a Ganga and open your mouth and somehow or other Ganga just fills your stomach. You just drink way way more than your capacity to drink. And when you come out of Ganga and going through all sorts of physical difficulties and some one offers you a glass of water. How much that water will have value for you. Depending on who you are you may just throw it down or you may say later later it has no value for you as there is no necessity. What if you just do nirjala ekadasi and while doing that you do full govardhan parikrama and its the month of June before the rain when it is the hottest point. And somebody offers you a glass of water. What is the value that glass of water has for you. it has incredible, it has life saving value, because of necessity. A humble person always feels necessity. A proud person is full. In America when someone is really pround you say you are full of it. i wont say what it is. but you are full of yourselves. thus you cannot appreciate anything, of anyone really from your heart. cannot be grateful because you are just filled with yourselves. but humble persone is like he is empty inside. when ego is empty then actullay you are hungry, you are starving for blessings, you are starving for mercy, starving for service, starving for Krishna. then whatever mercy, whaterver blessings has we recognise its value. and grateful that we are reciving it and we reciprocate it with a thankful heart. so for indra it was just another garland. and for elephant it didnot mean anything. He took that garland and threw it between his legs. And being between his legs, when the legs came together as he was walking and it crushed the garland and then garland fell to the ground all smashed on the street side.
Durvasa muni, Krishna uses him too. Krishna uses Indra to teach lesson, to the world, through pride and uses Durvasamuni, gets Durvasa muni to dovetail his propensities to teach the world through anger. So Durvasaji, he was angry. He was angry for a good purpose. “Because you are so proud, you have so much, you think you are great, that you are not honoring the mahaprasad of a saint, I curse you and your entire dynasty, of every one around you, including all the demigods, to fall into total poverty”. Hari bol. Now Queen kunti said ‘akinchana gocharam’ that means it takes one who is poverty to cry out the name of Krishna. Now poverty doesn’t mean necessarily, you loose every thing that you have in the world because even people can loose every thing they have, and still be proud. That means it’s not bonofide poverty. Real poverty means that we are no longer thinking in terms of I and mine. King Pratapa Rudra, he was the king of Orissa, but he was ‘akinchana gocharam’, because he understood every thing belongs to Krishna and he wanted to use every thing in Krishna’s service. Yudhistir Maharaj and his brothers they were in poverty while they were living in forest and for twelve year, but they were made the kings of the world. But for them they were still ‘akinchana gocharam’. Because they didn’t consider any thing to be their own, ‘its Krishna’s children, its Krishna’s wealth, its Krishna’s position, its Krishna’s power, where I am just servant of the servant of the servant, in what ever situation’. And were grateful for what ever situation because there’s always service and there is always a chance to turn to Krishna and chant his holy names
Hare Krishna Hare KrishnaKrishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Approach those who love God
So the asuras took advantage of the situation and attacked, and the devatas, they tried fighting but it was impossible and all they could do is to run away and hide. This is really an embarrassment in front of their wives and their children and their subjects, they are running away and they are hiding they lost everything. What do they do first they tried their best but it was totally out of their control. I have seen devotees who have their problems had their issues, but then they got some incurable diseases or some situation of health, where every thing totally out of your control, there is nothing they could do. You are suffering you may die. You are like Gajendra in the clutches of the crocodile, of disease, or some other complication, and it’s amazing how such sincere souls. They grow spiritually like never before because they recognize their humble position, they take shelter of the Lord they pray to the Lord. And we have seen people becoming perfect in that situation, where they honestly accept the fact not just in theory but in realization, “I am not the controller. There are forces beyond me, I desperately need the help of Krishna”. So the demigods were understanding this, and they all went to Lord Brahma and went to his assembly place, told him their situation. And because we cannot approach God directly, we can approach God but it has to be through blessing and mercy of those persons who love God. Even the demigods follow this, they always go to Lord Brahma, who is the guru of the demigods and Lord Brahma doesn’t take credit for any thing. Lord Brahman understands, he is above all these, he never loose any thing, but he understand, its only by the Vishnu’s mercy that they could be helped. All these different avatars that they come Ram, Krishna, Varaha. brahman prays to Krishna to come and help them. This is Guru. Guru doesn’t take credit, guru tries to connect devotes to Krishna by petitioning Krishna’s mercy and blessing upon these people. He took all of them to the ocean of milk, prayed with all the rest of them. And Krishna gave them good lesson.
Sadhus at Kumbha Mela
Its almost out of time for my talk because we want the Chinese devotes to speak but as far as Kumbha mela goes, interestingly on the subject of elephants, I was going to take bath in mother Ganga in Haridwar and there was a procession. That was an amazing procession of the sadhus and one particular guru was on an elephant, big elephant, huge elephant and he was sitting of the elephant. He had matted hair and his matted hair, he had it come out like this. So he was sitting on the top of the elephant on a nice seat and his hair was so long that it practically went all the way down below the body of the elephant, on both sides. I would estimate his hair was, he was probably about 5 feet tall, may be 5.5 like me, but his hair was probably 8 feet long. Because it all went down from the head crossed his body and then all the way practically to the bell, to the bottom of the belly of the elephant on both sides actually quite nice seen. And their was bands playing and there were dancers dancing and singers singing and mean while he was going on the elephant and behind him with his disciples, they were all sadhus and they had ashes on their body and long matted hair and they were all riding on camels. And each one had a particular weapon they were carrying, a trident and sword. It was interesting because camels are not that easy to ride actually. They are on a the back of camel they are carrying this trident and at the same time the camels moving and the people are throwing garlands, flowers and all on them. And they were trying to smoke ganja. I was afraid he would fall of the camel, either due to intoxication or just the logistics of doing all these things at the same time, but obviously was not the important thing for them. That is quite incredible and all the government agents and all the government people were thousands and thousands of people offering garlands to all of them as they were going down the road, every half a block the people were coming out with mango, lussey drinks and every thing to give. Quite nice procession actually but he was on an elephant.
Churning through Sankirtan
So, Vishnu, He speaks to the devas and when Vishnu wants to help you he does it in a way, that you actually become self realized, if you take advantage, of the opportunity, He is giving. Vishnu could have just, He is in the hearts of asuras, yes, He is the paramatma. He could have taken the Sudarshan chakra within their hearts and just () and all the asuras are gone. But that wouldn’t have been so exciting or instructing. ‘Make truce with them for the higher cause of getting nectar’. This is very interesting, because how ever much, we are different from each other we can unite for the higher principle. That’s what the sankirtan movement is? ‘Uniting for the higher principle’ now for them the higher principle was their own sense gratification for asuras. But for we devotes we can put superficial differences for the higher principle of pleasing Krishna, ‘samsiddir Hari Toshnam’. The ultimate goal of all of our activities is to please Krishna, to please Srila Prabhupada and in dong so to become liberated from our own egos and love Krishna. So for the purpose of the nectar they united to churn the ocean. And then its a long story we discussed it many times. We are all united for the purpose of nectar of devotion. Yes, Bhakti Rasamritha Sindhu. This nectar is not coming from an ocean but it is an ocean. That’s what Prabhupada came to give us the nectar of devotion on behalf of Rupa Goswami and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So we are united to get that nectar and spread that nectar. But it doesn’t come easy so may difficulties they were going through they couldn’t lift the mountain, the mountain started sinking and then the mountain started shaking and fire started burning them. Long efforts and Krishna was right there with them to help them when ever they turn. And finally after the hard work and risking their lives and troubles and problems just to get the churning situation established then they start churning () ‘its actually working now’, and what comes out, ‘poison’. Lord Siva drinks the poison to show the ultimate service of the Lord is to show compassion to others, even it means to taking sacrifices and risks to one self. And then so many temptations horse comes out, elephant comes out, jewels come out, Surabhi comes out, Laxmi comes out. Krishna warned them, ‘any thing bad comes out don’t be distracted by them and any thing good comes out don’t be temped and diverted from the path just keep churning keep your mind focused on the nectar’. As we are churning our hearts to chanting Hare Krishna and following the path of Bhakti, some times very difficult obstacles like poison comes we cannot be disoriented we cannot give up our hope we have to keep focused on your goal. And other times wonderful temptations and opportunities can come that can divert us from the path, we have to keep focus. In order to the focus to be real, we need to perform our sadhana sincerely every day, and we need very good association. Without good association, good hearing and chanting, chanting Gods names reading BG, SB, we can easily get diverted, either by the difficulties or by the charming opportunities that we get, that all come. We need to help each other ‘keep our focus on the goal’ ‘pure love of God’ and not stop any thing else.
And eventually Danvantari came out with a golden pot of Amritha, just what they wanted. The demiogods were happy to see the Lord come out with this, but after all that work, all that trouble the demons took it all away. Another test, “we trusted Krishna and now they have it all and they are going to drink it all and things are going to worse”. But the devotees never give up their faith and hope. Srila Prabhupada said ‘impossible’ is a word in a fool’s dictionary. What ever the impediment what every the difficulty, if we are just happy knowing that, ‘Krishna is all powerful and Krishna is all merciful, and I have given my life to Krishna, what ever may happen let it be, I am with you Krishna, I am for you Krishna as the servant of the servant of the servant’, we have nothing to fear. It wasn’t impossible situation to Mohini murthi to appear. She made the impossible possible, through her powers the asuras willingly gave the nectar to her and she gave it all it to demigods and then she took her form of Vishnu and flew away.
Ways to access Ganga’s Mercy
But then the asuras were really angry because they knew they got cheated, and they started another war and Jayantha, according to skanda purana, the son of Indra, he took the pot of nectar during the twelve day war and in different places he hid it, in Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik at different intervals. And in each of these four places every 12years this Amritha emerges with its full potency. And according to what people want, Krishna reciprocates. If we go with real faith, faith in this nectar, faith in the Ganga, faith in the Kumba Mela, and with the real faith you go because you want some thing material, then you will get blessed to get that material blessing. If you want mystic siddhis like many of the yogis you will get the siddhis. If you want liberation, if you are brahmavadi, then you get liberation if you want pure devotional service then you will be enriched the door will be opened wide and there will be more support and there will be more facility given to you to achieve pure devotional service. So many different different people are going to, out of 20 million people that go all people are asking for different things. Ganga has three forms according to Sripad Vallabhacarya, there is the form of Ganga of water and on the earthly plane the water is there she is nourishing the crops, she giving bathing water, she is giving drinking water. She is giving so many gifts to human society in the form o f water. But also Ganga is a place of pilgrimage and those who have faith in Ganga in this way can access her blessing as a place of pilgrimage where they can get these different things. Some people get good husband or good wife or if they already have a wife or a husband they want them to be good! But that’s a more difficult thing to ask to mother Ganga – make my husband or my wife the way I want them to be. They want to pass their exams, they want their business to go better, they want to win an election, so many things. People are going to bathe in the Ganga with some faith. Others want powers, mysticism, others want love of God. So Ganga appears as a holy place of pilgrimage. And then the third aspect of Ganga is that she is the divine Goddess – an expansion of the pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord and if we love her as a person and have faith and worship her as a person, then she could give pure bhakti. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu – what was His faith in Mother Ganga! It is explained in Caitanya Bhagavat that Gangadevi, the goddess, the divine personality of Ganga who presides over the Ganga, who is non-different than her water and who is non different than her being the place of pilgrimage to remove our sins.
Gauranga reciprocates with Ganga
Gangadevi is thinking that Yamuna Mai is doing such wonderful service. The gopas are bathing in her and Krsna and Balarama are bathing in her and they are bringing the cows and the calves and the bulls to drink her waters and they are having all sorts of water sports and shes supplying such beautiful beautiful arrangements. Yashoda Mai is bathing Krsna in the Yamuna. Nanda Maharaj is taking bath in the Yamuna and Krsna and all His friends are having the most intimate loving lilas. And the gopis, Krsna standing on the bank of Yamuna playing His flute and Yamuna is stopping her waters and bringing Him lotus flowers. And then on the banks of the Yamuna the gopis are having rasa lila with Krsna and she is offering soothing soothing breezes for the pleasure of Krsna and Radhrani and gopis and then in the rasa lila, Krsna takes Radharani and all the gopis in the Yamuna and they are laughing together and playing together and hiding behind lotus flowers together and Yamuna is just serving serving – all she does is serve, facilitate love to facilitate pastimes. Ganga was not envious, Ganga was not jealous. Ganga was just so much happy to see the good fortune of Yamuna but was longing that she could do that service, so she did tapasya and Krsna gave her the blessing – in Kaliyuga, Radha and Krsna will appear as Gauranga Mahaprabhu – rädhä-bhäva-dyuti-suvalitaà naumi kåñëa-svarüpam and perform the same Braja lila in Navadvipa and you will be there to assist in every way. And how she assisted – in every way! When Gauranga Mahaprabhu decided to appear, He chose to do it during an eclipse where everyone was in the Ganga and in those days for the whole duration of the eclipse, everyone stood in the Ganga and loudly chanted the Holy Name – Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
And Nimai when He was a little boy His mother would make all nice arrangements for Him to bathe in Ganga. When He was a student, practically for a major portion of the day Nimai and His students would just play in the Ganga – they splash everyone and spit water in the faces of brahamanas who were trying to do their gayatris – so many pastimes, playing in the Ganga almost all day Nimai and His friends – its like Krsna and the gopas. In fact they were Krsna and the gopas. What was Nimai’s love and faith in Ganga, 3 times a day He would bow down to her, worship her, honor her. Hes teaching us what devotion is. And when Kesava Kasmiri came, we saw the drama – Adikesava Prabhu – he appeared and little Taruni was Nimai. And Nimai said, “O, you are the greatest of all pandits, Goddess Sarasvati appears on your tongue every time you speak. Please compose verses in glorification of Mother Ganga” and Kesava Kasmiri like the raging wind composed instantly a hundred verses glorifying Gangadevi. And it was there on the bank of the Ganga that Nimai liberated his soul, how? By taking away his ego so that he could be humble and grateful and then receive the mercy. Very systematic science. And Mahaprabhu, He inaugurated the Sankirtana movement on the bank of Ganga and He took sannyasa at Katwa on the bank of the Ganga, bathed in the Ganga and then when He took sannyasa and He went to Puri. According to Vrindavana Das Thakur, Mother Ganga was so eager to continue assisting Lord Caitanya, He was bathing in her atleast 3 times very day and sometimes he’d be there most of the day and she was just doing seva, offering her life for the pleasure of the Lord and His devotees but He is living in Puri. So Ganga was flowing very fast from Navadvipa to merge into the sea. At Ganga Sagar, she merges into the sea and then she rushed, her waters rushed to Puri because Lord Caitanya was bathing in the sea 3 times a day and she was there assisting samudra in facilitating the happiness of Lord Caitanya and His devotees. Bathing Haridas Thakur’s body and so many wonderful pastimes and when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu decided to go to Bengal, what did He say? He said, “I come in 2 forms in this age of Kali – as wood and as water. As wood, I am Lord Jagannath and as water, I am Mother Ganga who have come to deliver the fallen souls of their sins and give love for Krsna”. And when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was walking, he said at a point, “I’m going to Bengal for 2 reasons – to see my mother, Saci and my mother, Ganga” and as He was on His way and He came close to the Ganga, He started glorifying “Anyone who bathes in Ganga, touches the Ganga, drinks Ganga, sees Ganga or anyone who is touched by a breeze that has come from the Ganga will get Krsna Prema – love for Krsna”.
Hunger for Krishna prem
Now, is this an exaggeration? No! But we have to be receptive. That blessing is there but we have to be receptive to benefit. Just like for those of you who are Ayurvedic doctors – recently one Ayurvedic doctor wanted to give me some medicine so he told me I have to do some sort of Pancakarma and by doing that Pancakarma – an abbreviated version, he said that will facilitate the ability to digest and assimilate the medicine otherwise even the best medicine if you can’t digest it and assimilate it, it has minimal benefit to you. To the degree you have the power to assimilate a medicine, it actually takes effect. So to the degree we are humble, to the degree we are grateful, to the degree we really really deeply have a service attitude, to the degree we really have faith, then yes! Just the breeze of Ganga can awaken love of god within us if we have the receptivity to digest that blessing. If you eat a Anakuta Govardhan Puja feast and you are laying on your left side wishing you hadn’t eaten so much and someone comes with a big gigantic Gulab Jamun and says, “Please take this” what will you do. You will go, “aaaaah” You have no power. But if you are really hungry then you can really appreciate and assimilate it and digest it. So similarly that humility, that gratitude, that service attitude gives us a hunger for Krsna Prema, a hunger for service, a hunger to chant God’s names and then when we chant Krsna’s names, when we take bath in the Ganga, when we associate with Holy people, we get proportionate effects. (Mobile rings) Thank you very much. Devotees are so nice, even disturbance makes devotees happy. So this is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s appreciation of Mother Ganga. But Narottam Das Thakur in one song he explains that by bathing hundreds of times in the Ganga, one could be purified of sins and eventually love of God could awaken but just by seeing a pure Vaisnava the same effect is achieved because devotees of the Lord they are holy places personified and Srila Prabhupada explained in regard to Kumbha Mela that people come to bathe in the Ganga but because they don’t have proper understanding, they don’t have proper gratitude, they don’t have proper conception of what the purpose of life is, they take the bath in the Ganga but they don’t really benefit very much. Therefore the real purpose of going on pilgrimage, whether its Kumbha Mela or going to Vrndavana or Navadvipa is to associate with holy people because the Ganga of the Hari Katha that is coming from their mouths, the Ganga of the blessings that are coming from their hearts is most valuable, priceless of all blessings. And Prabhupada would quote Vedavyasa that those who go to the holy place just to bathe in the river without associating and seeking out saintly people, this is the symptom of Kali. Yes, Ganga is all merciful but without the blessings of saintly people and learning from them, we cannot access that blessing. And the most powerful current of grace in this age of Kali is Krsna’s Holy Names.
kaler doña-nidhe räjann
asti hy eko mahän guëaù
kértanäd eva kåñëasya
mukta-saìgaù paraà vrajet
This Kali is an ocean of faults but there is a benediction – if we are just grateful to receive the instruction of Srila Prabhupada, he has given us this ultimate benediction – simply chanting the Holy Names of the Lord the result of following every other possible devotional activity,
Kapiladeva explains even if you are born in a family of candala, a lowest birth by social standings if one is chanting the Holy Names that means one has gone to all holy places, bathed in all the holy rivers many many many millions of times, has studied all the Vedas, has done all kinds of yajnas the same result is there in this age of Kali by simply serving the Vaisnavas and sincerely crying out Krsna’s Holy Names, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. These are a few thoughts about Kumbha Mela and Sridama Prabhu can you introduce the devotees from China and ask them to come up?