Radhanath Swami: Today we are celebrating Pushpa Abhishek- our annual flower festival. So the brahmacharis have selected this particular verse to give us a deeper sense of the profound form of meditation that you are all immersed in at this very moment. What seems to be something very ordinary- plucking flowers, petals, anyone can do it. You don’t have to have had studied 12 years of Sanskrit grammar. Male or female, Indian, Australian, American, Russian, African, educated or uneducated, from one caste or another, everyone is united together. There’s no high or low. But yet if it is done with a spirit of devotion it has the most powerful effect of cleansing our heart and uplifting us to the spiritual platform. In the Bhagavad Gita Krsna tells…patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati…If one offers me with love and devotion even a fruit, a flower, a leaf or some water I will accept it. Krsna is sara-grahi that means he accepts the essence of the feeling of the heart, of our intention. Whether it is something very grand or something as simple as this. Krsna is bhakta-vatsal. He agrees to be purchased constantly, conquered by the love of his devotee. And being Laxminath, the husband of the goddess of fortune, Krsna does not need anything. He’s in no need of food. He’s in no need of flower petals. He is in no need of any types of wealth or palaces or jewels. In fact if these things are offered to him without proper humility and devotion he will not even look in that direction. The holy scriptures are filled with examples of how the Lord accepts the simple humble offerings of love. May I tell a few? May take some time but nobody looks tired today.


Krishna becomes the servant of his devotees

We will begin with Mahabharata. The Pandavas had just been exiled to the forest for 12 years. Despite so many attempts to humiliate them, to kill them, to increase their exile for another 12 years by every type of unfair means, Duryodhana was not successful. The Pandavas returned and simply wanted what was theirs back. They were meant to be the rulers of the whole world but Duryodhana convinced his father Dhritarashtra to banish them and usurp everything that belonged to them. Yudhishtra was so kind. He sent a message to Duryodhana just gives us five villages and we will be happy. Duryodhana rejected even that. And because of that Duryodhana was mobilising forces for an entire war. Then the Pandavas had no choice but to respond. The armies were assembling. But Yudhishtra so kind and gentle, he didn’t want this war. Krsna did not want this war. Yudhishtra approached Krsna who is the Supreme absolute truth who had incarnated within this world; but who was playing in such a sweet way that he accepted the role like a younger brother- being the cousin of Yudhishtra. And he was always eager to help and serve his devotees. Yudhishtra Maharaj was very impassioned this war will be horrible. We have to avoid it. We have to make sense somehow or other give sense to Duryodhana. We have all tried, everyone has tried. Krsna you are the last hope. You are the only possibility that he may listen to you. Ask him to be a little fair for the sake of dharma, for the sake of so many lives. Go to Hastinapur and give him this message. Krsna became the messenger of his devotee. He spoke He’s the speaker of the Vedas, the highest truths and yet he humbles himself to be the messenger for his devyotee. And later to be the chariot- charioteer for his devotee.


Krishna’s arrival in Hastinapur

So when Krsna was on his way to Hastinapur to offer this message of peace, the spies of Duryodhana found out that He was coming. And Duryodhana, Dhritarashtra first of all the father of Duryodhana who was blind, who was actually the king at the time. He was very excited Krsna was coming he said let us make grand arrangements to welcome him. And Duryodhana, they were arranging to offer him a magnificent throne to sit on, music and dance, and the most precious of all jewels and silks. And they were arranging to give him a magnificent feast. Duryodhana was very excited about this too. When Vidura heard about it, he said you cannot win over Krsna by your gifts. Their motivation is by giving him all these gifts; he would abandon the Pandavas and join their side,that was their motivation. They were trying to bribe God for their own selfish purposes. And just see how the mentality the whole world is a mirror of your own consciousness. Because Duryodhana was so much thinking about himself and what he could gain, he was thinking everybody must be like that. Even God, Even Krsna. Everyone has their price. We will give him such wonderful feast, we will give him such loving hospitality, we will give him the most beautiful jewels in the entire world, we will give him everything. And he will join our side. And then the Pandavas are finished without Krsna. Vidura said Krsna doesn’t need anything you say. He will be angry as fire if you try to bribe him like this.


Krishna refuses to accept Duryodhana’s hospitality

Meanwhile Lord Krsna came and he refused to take the food that Duryodhana had prepared for him, or any of the entertainment or everything else. And Duryodhana arranged the most beautiful, palatial suite for Krsna to stay in while he was there. Krsna made it clear he will be living and eating at the very simple house of Vidura who had a pure heart. When they welcomed Krsna they had the most magnificent throne anyone has ever seen inlaid with jewels- there was diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires and it was inlaid with ivory and gold and silver. Krsna sat on it. Duryodhana, first thing he said-we are offering you such wonderful hospitality, why? why Krsna are you rejecting it? It is not right. Chastising him. We have offered you this magnificent feast- why you are not eating? Why you are going to Vidura’s house? Krsna said, I have come for business nor for eating. I will eat after my business. I have to give a message. Duryodhana said that is not right. When hospitality is offered it should be accepted.


Krishna is only pleased by our devotion

Krsna said let me be honest with you. The Pandavas are your own cousins; they have always been fair to you, they love you. And they are my devotees. They represent dharma. And because you hate them, because you’ve cheated them; because you’ve tried to kill them, you are my enemy. I will not eat the food of my enemy. Now this is very interesting. Because in Bhagavad Gita Krsna tells that no one is my enemy. I am equal to all. I am not partial…Samaho sarvesu bhutesu.. Every living being. So why it appears that Krsna is partial to the Pandavas? Krsna gives everyone; He’s equal to everyone in the sense he’s everyone’s well-wisher. But according to how we use our free will, Krsna reciprocates accordingly. If we become the enemies of Krsna’s devotees then by our free will Krsna responds and becomes our enemy. But what kind of enemy He is only speaking for ,with the most intimate sweet love for his enemies to help them. To give them liberation. To give them the highest ecstasies of pure love of god. He’s just teaching them what’s good for them. He has no malice toward anyone. He is speaking what’s good for Duryodhana. And then Krsna got up and left. And went to Vidura’s house simple home; where he was offered very simple food. According to legend, they weren’t prepared for him and they just had a banana ready and they gave him a banana. And Krsna was happy eating a banana. If it was offered by love and devotion then that magnificent feast of hundreds of preparations cooked by the finest chefs served in golden plates, Krsna’s only pleased by our devotion.


Krishna visits the palace of Dhritarashtra

Vidura told Krsna don’t please, you shouldn’t have come to Hastinapur. They will not listen to you, they may insult you. They may do something very very crazy. Don’t go. Why are you going to speak to Duryodhana? Why are you going to see Dhritarashtra who is under the control of his envious son? They will not listen. It will be futile. Krsna said I know. I know that when if somebody is so envious they can’t hear good reason. But still it is my duty to give everyone a chance. It is my duty to speak the truth. Because still they have their free will. And let the world know that if there has to be the war all the blame must be on the Duryodhana. Because Yudhishtra has tried everything humanly possible to stop this war and so have I. The next morning Krsna went to the court. And all the greatest kings and rulers and princes were there. Dhritarashtra was sitting on his throne. Duryodhana had his magnificent throne. And they gave Krsna the most magnificent throne.


Krishna delivers the message to Dhritarashtra

Krsna looked at Dhritarashtra and said please, this is your last chance to end the enmity between your nephews and your sons. You are from the royal order of the Kuru dynasty. Which is known throughout the ages for its integrity, its values, its moralities and whole upholding of dharma. If this war takes place, you will be the cause to disgrace the name of your dynasty forever. You will have to suffer, seeing the death of your own children and millions of others. Krsna told Dhritarashtra, that if you just give the Pandavas a little bit of land, you will have on one side of you Bhishma, Dhrona, Ashvatthama, Radheya, Dushashana. And on the other side you will have Yudhishtra, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadev, Dhrishtadyumna. You will have everyone. I can tell you and you know this in the core of your heart that Yudhishtra Maharaj he is so pure and selfless, that he will be absolutely grateful to accept you as his king, and to serve you and to lay down his life for you as the king. Everyone will love you. But if you don’t, there will be mass bloodshed. Disgrace. Do the right thing. It’s all in your hands, Krsna told Dhritarashtra. Dhritarashtra was physically blind. He replied, Krsna I know that everything you’re saying is true. And I know that your mission here is one of compassion for our own benefit. But I am helpless. Duryodhana, I have tried to explain this to him. His mother has tried to explain this to him. Vidura and Bhishma. But he won’t listen. He’s bent on the ruination of our whole dynasty. Please Krsna, no use speaking to me. Speak to my son Duryodhana. Maybe you can make sense to him.


Krishna’s request Duryodhan to just be fair to the Pandavas

Krsna turned to Duryodhana with Compassion, with love. And he praised him as being the son of such a great heritage. Just be fair to the Pandavas. They will serve with you as brothers. Yudhishtra Maharaj will immediately forgive and forget all the injustices you have done to him. Just give them a little land. That’s all they want. Duryodhana became furious, hearing the words of Krsna. He said Krsna why are you bewildering everyone. Why are you speaking these lies? What nonsense. You’re trying to make me the blame for this war. I am the upholder of dharma. I will not budge from dharma and you are trying to make me something else. You’re spreading this lying propaganda against me. This war is the Pandavas fault not my fault. You are saying I took everything away from them- the fact is they lost their kingdom in that dice match. Duryodhana chose to be in that dice match. He lost everything now it is all mine and you want me to give it back to him? That would be adharma for me to give back something that they have lost. Don’t put the blame on me. I will not budge from dharma for anything. I will not bend my head for your irreligious purposes for any situation. I would rather lay down my life in the battle field and die and be the food for vultures than to do what you’re saying. Because you representing irreligion. Krsna was very displeased by Duryodhana’s words. Duryodhana, you are speaking like a madman. You’re talking about dharma. You challenged Yudhishtra to that dice match knowing-knowing that as a kshatriya he could not refuse a challenge. He had to do it. And you had Shakuni with loaded dice, who had the mystic power where there was no possibility for anything to happen but you to win. You cheated. And you talk about dharma. All the times you tried to poison Bhima by presenting him nice cakes for his birthday which had bitter poison in them. And how you sent the Pandavas and their helpless mother Kunti to Varnavata; and put them in a beautiful house that was made out of flammable lac. And then you lit it on fire to burn them to death. And you talk about dharma. You talk about fairness. And you had Draupadi their wife, dragged by the hair, into an assembly. And you tried to- and with, with- with horrible nasty blasphemous words which cut her heart like razor blades. You tried to strip her naked and humiliate her. And while they were in the forest all the lies you spread against them. And how you sent people to try to murder them, to kill them. And you’re talking about dharma. But still, Yudhishtra’s willing to be your friend. To love you. To forget everything’s that happened. To forgive you and work with you. Give him a little land.


Duryodhana reply to Krishna’s Message

Duryodhana said I will not give them enough land to pierce the head of a needle. When Duryodhana heard Krsna’s words he stood up in anger. He lifted his head up and walked out. Said I will not be insulted by these lies. With his head up in total arrogance he walked right by Krsna. And Bhishma went out of the assembly. And all of his brothers and all of the kings who supported him they all walked behind him. And practically the whole assembly room was empty.


Elders of Kuru dynasty try to instruct Duryodhana

Bhishma, Dhrona, they were all trying to convince Duryodhana. They were all trying to convince Dhritarashtra to give up this nonsense son of yours. Dhritarashtra was so pained to see what happened. He said I could see that my whole dynasty has finished. My son has offended Krsna in this way. And my poor wife Gandhari, how she will suffer when all her children are dead. I think the only hope is for my wife Gandhari, Duryodhana’s mother to try to convince him. So they called for Gandhari. And then the message was sent to Duryodhana. A message he could not refuse- your mother is calling for you. Duryodhana returned. Gandhari was pleading she was such a soft-hearted virtuous lady. She said I gave birth to you. You were born form my womb. I love you; More than anything. Why don’t you listen to me? Yudhishtra and the Pandavas are good people. They represent the highest principles of purity and fairness. Why are you doing this to them? Do you want me and your father to live the rest of our lives in the misery of having seen all of our sons dead? No one will be our friends. We will be alone. And what about everyone else. Give the Pandavas their land. They love you. I love you. Bhishma was talking. Dhrona, everybody was trying to convince Duryodhana. And then Duryodhana and Dushasana began to speak right in front of Krsna and everyone that Krsna by his lying propaganda, He is turning everyone against us. He is turning our father and our mother and everyone. I know his plan. His plan is to convince everyone to make me a prisoner and hand me over to Maharaj Yudhishtra. But he will not gain the fulfilment of his wishes. Today we will tie up Krsna with ropes and make him our prisoner and then the Pandavas are finished and no one can do anything to us. This was their plan. Dhritarashtra said don’t speak this insanity. You wanna tie up Krsna and make him your prisoner. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You can’t do this. You are insane. And Vidura was telling Krsna please leave here before this humiliation. They’re going to attack you. Krsna said let us see what they can do to me. They was panic in the hall. Bhishma was outraged. Dhrona was outraged. And little by little, not little by little- rapidly more and more soldiers of Duryodhana entered into the assembly all hell bent on arresting Krsna, tying him up and putting him in prison. As they approached, Krsna laughed. It was a laugh nobody ever heard of Krsna. They saw Krsna with angry eyes. They saw Krsna speak but they never heard him laugh like this. It was a laugh of both sorrow and anger. Anger that Duryodhana was so envious. And he was going to cause so much death and suffering. And sorrow. Because Krsna loved Duryodhana as he loves every living being…aham bija prada pita…


Krishna manifests the universal form

Krsna’s the father and mother of everyone. And as the soldiers came to arrest Krsna, Krsna manifested a form that began to shine like the sun. It grew in size. It had many arms. Within that form that covered all directions with the devatas and all the, it was the universal form- the viraat rupa. It was a magnificent form. The form of the Almighty. And although Dhritarashtra was born blind, by Krsna’s grace for the first time in his life, Dhritarashtra could see. He looked upon the universal form of Krsna. So absolutely beautiful. Shining like the sun. With many hands holding many many weapons. It was- not only was it so sweet and beautiful but it showed the unlimited power of God. Dhritarashtra, looking at this form was in ecstasy and he told Krsna, I have seen your form now; it’s the only thing I ever want to see again. Now please close my eyes again and make me blind for I never have to think about for I never I have known that I’ve never seen anything in my life and I’ll never see anything else in my life except you. The soldiers ran away, atleast we stood back. And Krsna manifested his ordinary form again and walked out of the assembly. So this story is very philosophically represents the relationship between the jiva-or the soul and god…yadä yadä hi dharmasya glänir bhavati bhärata…Krsna tells in Gita I come to this world, I descend again and again and again. And so many avatars, prophets, incarnations for what reason? To give us the same message that Krsna gave Duryodhana essentially. Don’t misuse your independence. Just act in harmony with dharma. Act in devotion. I’m your father. I’m your mother. The whole spiritual world is yours. But still, because of our unwillingness to listen the lord still never gives up. He comes again and again and again and again and again to keep reminding us. And warning us about the consequences of giving up our own inherited spiritual nature. So yes, although Duryodhana and Dhritarashtra were ruling as kings and they were offering Krsna the best, most opulent things in the entire kingdom; Krsna wouldn’t even look at it. All he wants is our love. All he wants is for us to love each other. That’s what he was saying- you are all brothers, sisters, cousins; I just want you all to love each other. That will be my greatest happiness. And that’s always Krsna’s message. We are all related. Every living entity-not only all varieties of human life but all species of life. We are all the same family. Brothers, sisters, cousins. Krsna wants us to love each other. To cooperate with each other. To not be envious and greedy and exploit each other and hurt each other. That was his message to Duryodhana. That’s his message to all of us. And to experience the essence of real happiness- the treasures of the soul- it’s so easy. Whoever we are. If we have this consciousness of humility and generosity and devotion, anyone of these flower petals that you’re plucking today, any single one of them- if you do it with this consciousness, you will attain the highest perfection of life. That’s how gracious god is.


Gajendra attains perfection by offering a flower

When we read in the Srimad Bhagvatam , eight canto, about Gajendra he was an elephant. And Gajendra with his whole family he was the king of the jungles. He went on a nice holiday excursion. They came upon a very beautiful lake filled with lotus flowers. The whole lake was fragrant because the pollen of the lotus flowers were falling in the water. And the water became like nectar. And it was a very nice cooling temperature. Gajendra went into the water- oooh it was just so pleasurable to his body. And he wanted to share it with his wife and children- so with his trunk he was magnanimously spraying them with the water, the fragrant, nectarine cooling waters of this lake. But the nature of this world is whoever you are, wherever you are…padam padam yad vipadam…It could be dangerous at every step. As he was at the peak of enjoying, the nicest environment suddenly a crocodile bit his leg. And there was a great battle between him and the crocodile. The crocodile was trying to pull him in the water, he was trying to pull the crocodile, and he was going back and forth and back and forth for a long time. And he looked at his relatives, they couldn’t help him. And all of his strength couldn’t help him. Because the crocodile being in water was stronger. It wasn’t his place to be in water. So finally when he was on the verge of death, he remembered his past life, when he was a king, and he was a devotee. And he remembered, he remembered the supreme lord. He forgot his entire life as an elephant. But at this most critical juncture, the darkest moment of his life, he remembered the lord. And with his trunk he plucked a single lotus flower and raised it up toward the sky, and with tears of love and affection in his eyes, he offered a beautiful prayer. It was a prayer of surrender. He was not praying, lord save me from death. He was not praying, lord save me from pain. Through that flower he was offering the lord his heart and his life. Do anything you want with me, I am yours. And from that one gesture of just offering one little flower with love and devotion, the supreme lord incarnated. He descended from the spiritual world to the scene of that place and immediately rescued Gajendra. He cut the mouth of the crocodile off and seeing that Gajendra, really all he wanted was the loving service of the lord, the lord immediately sent him. First he manifested Gajendra’s original pure spiritual form from the spiritual world- his siddhadeva-and then he sent him to Vaikuntha. Here is a person who wasted his whole life spiritually with no consciousness of god whatsoever, but in just a few seconds he just offered a flower with genuine love and devotion and within minutes he was promoted to the spiritual world. Patram puspam phalam toyam.


Shabari offers a fruit with love

In Ram leela; the story of Shabri. When Ram and Laxman were looking for Sita they were wandering through the forest Kabanda, the least expected person to give good advice, told Ram and Laxman- go to Pampasarovar- it’s a beautiful lake. And close by is Sughriva- and his friend Hanuman. Make allies with them; they will help you find Sita. So Ram and Laxman came to Pampasarovar. And there living, there was a little thatched hut and also a cave, was a very old emaciated woman; dressed in rough tree bark-her name’s Shabri. And as far as caste- she was like from the jungles. She was considered an outcast from that designation. She was there waiting, year after year after year- for Ram to come. When Ram arrived, Shabri, she bowed down. All she had to offer him was a little grass seat she made for him. A little grass mat. And Ram and Laxman sat. And she, she explained to Lord Ramachandra about her life. She was a disciple of Mathangarishi. And Mathangarishi went back to the spiritual world with all his disciples but he told Shabri, you’re not prepared to go. You remain here because years to come, Lord Ramachandra, God who is- God who will appear on earth will come to this place. When you serve him with love and devotion, then you will attain perfection. And then you will join all of us in the spiritual world. Shabri day and night was just waiting for Ram in separation. And when he came, she wanted to offer him the best she had. But what did she have- she was living in a jungle. There was a particular type of berry, very small fruit- that grew wild there. But the problem with that fruit is whether it was ripe or unripe it looked exactly the same. Now some people are very expert at knowing how to judge what is a ripe fruit and what isn’t. My mother was very expert at that. When she would…when I was a little boy and she would go shopping, sometimes she would take me with her. And she would go to the fruits and just by looking at them and touching them, she could tell exactly what state they were in. And I was so bored- watching. If there’s anything a little boy can’t tolerate is watching their mother testing fruits in a grocery store- so I would usually run away. But even the best fruit tester could not tell the difference between these particular berries. So Shabri, she’s sitting on the ground, in the jungle. Ram’s on a little grass mat- and she’s taking the fruits and she’s taking a slight little bit out of each berry. And tasting. And if it was sweet, she would take it out of her mouth and give it to Ram. And if it was bitter she would throw it off to the side. She would probably eat it later- I don’t know. Now according to the principles of making offerings to the supreme Lord, this is extremely offensive. According to the Vedic scriptures, when we cook offerings to god, we…we should be in the mood that its completely for his satisfaction. Unless we’re specifically preparing it, we shouldn’t even be looking at the food. We shouldn’t be enjoying the smells and we should definitely not taste it. The lord should taste it first and then we accept his remnants. But here she’s eating them and taking them out of mouth. But lord Ram was unlimitedly happy. Because although she was very simple and uneducated in the rules and regulations of proper ritual, she was doing it with simple hearted love and devotion. The lord was happier eating the saliva- umm- decorated fruits of Shabri, than even someone who- like Duryodhana- preparing nice gourmet feast. All the rules and all the regulations are simply meant for the purpose of developing this simple hearted love and devotion that she already had. Ram ate the fruits. Accepted her love. And then Ram told Shabri now you are mine. Go back to the spiritual world. And on that very day, she- her original spirit- by her own mystic power she ignited the fire element in her body and a beautiful spiritual form emerged and she went back to the spiritual world. Why? Cause she offered a little fruit to the lord with love and devotion.


Offering of love by Suklambar Brahmachari

There’s a story in Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila of Shuklambara brahmachari. Shuklambara- he was- he had nothing except a little straw hut on the bank of the Ganges. And as a brahmachari in those days, everyday he would go out to beg for food. And he had a little cloth bag that he kept hanging from his shoulder. He would go house to house, ten twelve houses minimum everyday and beg. And for any of you who have done begging like this- how many have? People don’t give you the best thing in their house- they give you the cheapest thing in the house. And in Bengal in those days, the cheapest things were the broken pieces of rice in the bottom of the barrel. So people would just throw a small handful of broken rice in his bag and he would be grateful. He’d be thinking of Krsna, chanting Krsna’s names throughout the whole day. Then he would get home, and with love and devotion he would cook those broken old pieces of rice after washing it and offer it to Krsna. That’s how he lived his life. So one day when Lord Chaitanya- who was in the mood of a devotee- sometimes just to please his devotees he would take the mood of Krsna and accept the worship of his devotees. And he was sitting on a throne- he was sitting on the altar not a throne-he was sitting on the altar offering benedictions to all of his devotees and everyone was chanting and kirtana for his pleasure. And in the back of the room, Lord Chaitanya happened to see little –this little poor brahmachari Shuklambara. Just had a tattered set of clothes and he was dancing ecstatically chanting the holy name and that, that that little cloth bag with his handfuls of begged rice was –was swaying to and fro on his shoulder as he was dancing and dancing and dancing. He was so happy. Lord Chaitanya was just enjoying seeing his bliss. Taking the name of god. The lord called Shuklambara-come, come. Shuklambara came close. The kirtana continues and he was dancing and smiling. Lord Chaitanya was just laughing seeing this, and suddenly the supreme lord thrust his hand into Shuklambara’s bag and took out a handful of this raw broken rice. And Lord Chaitanya put it in his mouth and ate it. And then put his hand again in the bag and ate it. Handful after handful. Shuklambara was saying- what are you doing? This rice-it’s not fit for you. It’s not even cooked. When the devotees saw this, everyone was struck with wonder. Lord Chaitanya was eating handful after handful. And he was saying- I have never ever tasted anything so sweet, so delicious as the rice in the bag of Shuklambara. And Shuklambara said –my lord please, this is not fit for you. And Lord Chaitanya said-birth after birth you have been a beggar and I have been stealing your rice. Said- you do not remember, but I remember in your past birth you were Sudama Vipra living near Dwarka. And that time you were in so much poverty-were practically starving and your wife feeling sorry for you sent you to me who was living in a palace in Dwarka asking for you know- some , some favour for you wouldn’t starve- so you wouldn’t suffer so much. And you-and you said-Sudama Vipra said to his good wife that I have -if I go to see Krsna, I have to offer him a gift. We don’t have –they literally had nothing in their house. So she went out and begged and got some chipped rice. And he didn’t have a proper bag for it- he just tied it in a little piece of cloth. Old cloth. And he went to see Krsna in Dwarka. He’s a poor Brahmana. Went through all these magnificient gates and when he arrived Krsna put him on his own bed. And Krsna washed Sudama’s feet. Krsna worshipped him. To show the world how the Lord worships those who love him. And then after they spent the day and talked about how they were old friends in school, Sudama was thinking I can’t offer Krsna this old, begged, chipped rice. So he didn’t say anything. But Krsna knows everything. He’s in the heart of every living being. He said to Sudama- did you bring me anything? Sudama said-no I didn’t bring you anything and then Krsna grabbed the bag from Sudama’s little dhoti. Then he said- oh, my lord you cannot eat this, this is not fit for you. And Krishna opened it and took that chipped rice and ate a morsel of it. And Rukmini, his queen said-that’s enough. I can’t see you eating this. You’ve already satisfied the universe by eating this chipped rice. And Krsna was glorifying the sweet taste of that chipped rice. Sudama wouldn’t ask Krsna for any favour. He only asked Krsna-how can I serve you. He didn’t have the heart to ask Krsna for anything. So as he was going home he was thinking my wife is not going to be happy- I went there to ask, and I didn’t ask. I can’t ask. How can I ask anything from the lord? I am –I can only ask how can I serve. Then he came to where his house was, he thought. And instead of that old straw hut there was a beautiful palace. And he was thinking maybe I got lost. Where am I? And then out from the palace came his wife wearing beautiful clothes. And there were all kinds of other people and there was lovely trees and lakes. Nothing like the jungle he lived in. And his wife looked at him and cried because she knew Krsna’s kindness upon us. And he creid. And when they looked at each other, all they could do is cry. They- now as husband and wife, they really had a deep loving relationship. They cried. He cried to see how Krsna was so kind to his wife and she cried to see how Krsna was so kind to him. Neither of them wanted anything for themselves. And so beautiful. They lived the rest of their lives in that luxury. But they had the exact same mentality as they did when they were in poverty. What is that mentality? They had no envy, they had no selfishness. Whatever they had they used in the service of god and for the- and for the service of other living beings. Being poor is not a disqualification- being mag.. being wealthy is not a disqualification. Whether one is a king or living in a cave in the mountains, we all have equal opportunity. Cause Krsna accepts our love, our devotion. And I’ll end today’s class with one more story. Should I end now or one more..? Okay.


Offering of love by Sridhara Kolavech

This is a story of another leaf. And fruit. And flower. And water. This person offered all of them. His name was Kolavecha Sridhar. When Lord Chaitanya was a young boy, he disguised himself as an ordinary boy. Nobody knew that he was actually the avatar of Krsna, he was the supreme lord. Although he attracted peoples love as he was god, he disguised the reality by the yogamaya potency. So little Nimai Pandit-he would everyday go to a simple banana leaf seller named Sridhar. Sridhar was really materially poor. He just sat on the ground on the side of the road, and what would he sell? Banana leaves. And if he had any banana’s he would sell the bananas. And if there were any flowers from the bananas, he would any part of the… he had a few banana trees and he would just, any part of the tree that grew, he would sell it. He would sell the bark. The flowers. The leaves. The fruit. The roots. Just had a couple of things at a time. And he was so honest. He was so compassionate to all living beings that he –he would utilise his intelligence to somehow or other charge as little as possible and get by. Cause he didn’t want to cause anyone inconvenience. And then whatever little he made, he would first thing is take half of his profits-which is hardly anything- and use it to worship Mother Ganga- the Ganges, by offering … by taking that water of the Ganges and offering it to Krsna. He would offer pujas to Ganges, and then take that water and offer it as love to Krsna. So little Nimai would come to him- How much is these bananas? How much is this leaf? And he would give him a fair price. Nimai would say – I will give you half. Why you’re trying to cheat me? Sridhar said it’s a fair price. If you don’t like my price go somewhere else. Nimai say no. I know a good supplier when I find one. I will never go anywhere else. I will give you half. And then they would argue over the price. Because half means Sridhar would take a tremendous loss. And for him, one paisa loss was practically everything he had. And after arguing, sometimes for two hours, Nimai would just take the bananas and said alright, I’m not giving you anything. I’m just taking. And he’d walk away. And Sridhar would smile. He just took his whole inventory. He had nothing left. The lord just took it away; gave him nothing. But the lord loved Sridhar so much, he would come every day. And Kolavecha Sridhar loved Nimai so much, when it was time for Nimai to be coming; Sridhar actually all day –he’d be sitting on the side of the road, his heart pounding with anticipation for little Nimai to come to steal his bananas. Just to see that form, just.. he didn’t know he was god, but he loved him like god. And he couldn’t understand why. Hearing that sweet voice of Nimai- arguing with him; that was his life, his soul, his everything. And if Nimai was late; Sridhar, his heart was going through ecstasies of separation. One day, Nimai said to Kolavecha Sridhar-why do you worship Krsna? What is he doing for you? Look at how poor you are. With all kinds of atheists and worshipers of demigods and all materialistic people-look, they have nice homes; they have good food; they have nice clothes- look at you. Your house- it’s not a house. It’s a straw hut and I know what goes on in your life. The straw hut, the roof leaks and in the monsoon seasons everything’s wet. You have to sometimes sit with a little umbrella. You have noth… And there’s no furniture, nothing. All you have in your whole house is one old dented iron pot to carry water. And as far as your clothes- there’s so many holes in your clothes and you can’t afford needle and thread, so you just take the two sides of the holes and tie knots. I see at least 20 knots in your clothes. And as far as your food- what do you eat? You’re emaciated. You’re undernourished. And yet you’re always chanting Krsna’s names; you’re always worshipping Krsna. What is he doing for you? Kolavecha Sridhar would… he loved Krsna so much, he would chant Krsna’s names all night long. And sometimes he just couldn’t contain himself- he would chant very loudly. And the neighbours, he would wake them up. And they would get really angry. They would scream at him- Sridhar, shut up! Sometimes they’d get even more angry, and they’d just take a old rotten vegetable and they’d throw it at Sridhar’s head and say- just eat this and be quiet. He must be crying out like this because he’s so hungry, its hunger pains. So just eat this and go to sleep. But Sridhar didn’t care. Praise, blame, samsiddhir hari-tosanam- for him his only satisfaction was pleasing the lord. For Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he was saying like this to Sridhar and Sridhar –he replied; said I’ve been in this world a long time, and I have observed and I want to tell you my observation. Whether one is a king living in a palace with magnificent clothes and eating fine foods or whether one is a bird who just wears one set of feathers and lives in little nests made out of grass, and just eating some –you know-little berries here and there. I don’t see much difference between the two. Somehow or other, they both have what they need and time is passing for both of them in the same way. And they’re both essentially just trying to do the same thing. Trying to be happy. And as far as I could see, they’re both- god’s supplying for both of them. Whats the difference. I am happy. I am happy chanting god’s names. I’m happy with what I have. I don’t need anything else. And then Nimai said- Sridhar, you are a cheater. Sridhar said.. oooohh..What cheater? Said you are cheating everyone. You are making yourself look like a poor beggar to get peoples sympathy but actually you have a great treasure. You have immense wealth. But you’re hiding it all, just to deceive us. Sridhar said, w-w-wwhat do you mean? I.. whatever you see is what I am and what I have. He said, someday I will expose you. And then the lord stole some bananas and walked away. Now interestingly, every single day when Sacimata cooked lunch for Lord Chaitanya, lord would only eat it on the plate-on the banana leaf plates that were given to him by Kolavecha Sridhar. A leaf. Yes. He would rather have that than golden plates or silver plates-just a little banana leaf. For him, everything that was put on that plate tasted like nectar because it was served on the banana leaves of Sridhar. But they were offered with love. We know the story when Lord Chaitanya performed that great harinam sankirtana procession into the Chand Kazi’s house; where he literally had millions of people following him, dancing and chanting Krsna’s holy names in ecstatic love. And the Chand Kazi, who hated Hindus and was trying to outlaw their practice, actually his heart completely changed. And he became a great devotee. After that historical procession and that great victory, Lord Chaitanya took a few of his devotees to Kolavecha Sridhar’s house. That wasn’t on the way. That was completely out of the way. Why did he go there? I’m going to back up a couple years and then I’m going to come back to what happened there.


Sridhar’s prayers during Mahaprakash lila

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was at Srivas Angan, he took the form of god and was offering any benediction to any of his devotees. To Murari Gupta who was a devotee of Ram, Lord Chaitanya manifested his form of Lord Ram. And revealed that Murari Gupta, in your past life, you were Hanuman. To Haridas Thakur, he manifested his opulent form of Krsna. And he told the devotees-bring Sridhar. Now the devotees didn’t even know who Sridhar was. They said who’s this Sridhar. He said-he lives in the outskirts of town. He said it’s the middle of the night, so he’ll be chanting. Just go to the outskirts and when you hear his chanting you’ll know who he is. Just follow that sound. So they brought him. And the lord manifested his form of Krsna and Balaram and manifested Vrindaban before the eyes of Sridhar. Then he said to Sridhar- ask for any benediction. Anything. Sridhar said-my lord, I am seeing you. I don’t want anything else. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, but I want to give you something, ask for anything. I will give you an entire kingdom with a beautiful palace. No long for you to live in your abject poverty anymore. Sridhar said –no. I don’t want any kingdom or palace. He said- well, then I..i..i’ll give you , I’ll give you the eight mystic siddhis. What yogis perform tapasya for many lifetimes to achieve; I will give you all these mystical powers. Sridhar said, that will just be a distraction for me if I have all these powers. I’m a simple person, I don’t want powers. He said, then I’ll give you liberation-mukti. No more suffering ever again. Sridhar said-I don’t want mukti. Don’t tempt me with these things. Then I’ll give you elevation to the spiritual world-Vaikuntha, an eternal life of bliss and knowledge. Take it. Sridhar said-my lord, I don’t want that either. Lord Chaitanya said, well, I know you don’t want it. But I want to give you something. For my sake, ask for something. Please ask. Sridhar said if it pleases you, then you can give me this one benediction. In every birth I take, let me always in my heart of hearts remember that little form of Nimai. And always come to me. This is all I want. All I ask. And that beautiful little form of Nimai always come to steal my bananas. Let me be absorbed in always meditating on that form, nothing else. When he said that, the devotees began to cry. Lord Chaitanya began to cry. Said I grant you the highest ecstasies of pure love forever.


Sridar’s lifestyle

Now how is this Shuklambara brahmachari, Kolavecha Sridhar –the lord would just take from them. Now usually when you offer something to god, you’re supposed to chant mantra, tantra, yantra, pooja, mudra.. Yes? And if you do it all nicely with good devotion then the lord will accept it. But Shuklambara brahmachari and Kolavecha Sridhar-they didn’t do any mantra, tantra, yantra, mudra or pooja. The lord stole it from them. Because the lord is hungry for the love of his devotee. From Chand Kazi’s house Lord Chaitanya took a few of his devotees to Sridhar’s house. And outside the house was that old, dented, iron water pot. That Sridhar-it’s all he had. He used it for every type of purpose. He used it to wash; he used it to drink from. He used it to clean. And he had already drunk water from that pot. Little pot. Lord Chaitanya saw that pot, and went into ecstasy. He walked right to the pot and everyone was watching and Sridhar was there watching-what’s he doing? And he picked up that pot. As everyone was gazing upon the lord in suspense-what is this? And then the lord put the pot to his lips. And Sridhar cried out- No my lord! I drank from that water! That’s a dirty old pot. According to the scripture even the most desperate thief in all of Bengal wouldn’t even cast his eyes on that pot; it was so old and useless. But in front of everyone Mahaprabhu drank the water from that pot. He drank it more and more and more. And Kolavecha Sridhar fell to the ground and said, now I am finished. He’s drinking the water that I’ve washed myself with and drank from. And Lord Chaitanya was in ecstasy. He began to cry. He began to chant. He began to dance. He said- today for the first time in my life I have tasted the sweet nectar of Krsna’s love because I have drank the water of Kolavecha Sridhar’s pot.

The lord wanted to show the world- offer a leaf. He ate everyday on Sridhar’s banana leaves. A fruit-he would steal his bananas every day. A flower- Lord Chaitanya one of his most favourite preparations is he would take-he would steal the banana flowers from Sridhar and have Sacimata to make it into banana flower sabji. It’s written about in the scriptures. And on this day, the water. But interesting, Krsna says if you offer me a leaf, flower, fruit or water I will accept it if it’s with devotion. But Sridhar wasn’t even offering it. Shuklambara didn’t even offer it. Sudama Vipra didn’t offer. The lord is literally hungry for the love of his devotees. Now great sages are considered to be aatmaram. That means they are beyond hunger and beyond thirst. And they’re transcendental to all of these material emotions. Krsna’s names, in one of his names in Bhagavad Gita is Yogeshwara, means the master of all mystic yogis. Krsna’s not in need of anything. But he’s Rasabihari- by his own will he loves the loving exchanges of his devotees. So Krsna becomes hungry for the love of his devotee.


Love of Yashoda

Little Gopal, when mother Yashoda with her motherly love when milk would begin to drip from her breast, Krsna would wake up in the morning-early-and he’d run to his mother- feed me, feed me. I’m hungry, I’m hungry. He was hungry for her motherly love. This is rasa. This is the ecstatic exchange between Krsna and his devotees. The devotees are longing to serve Krsna, and Krsna is longing for the love of his devotees. That is love in the spiritual platform.


Offerings of different services by Ambarisha Maharaj

So simple. We also read about great kings like Ambrish. He had a fantastic temple in his…in his palace. And the best of everything he’d offer to Krsna. And Krsna accepted in great ecstasy. Ambrish’s royal offerings and Kolavecha Sridhar’s simple banana leaves. Queen Kunti prayed…Janmaisvarya-sruta-sribhir Edhamana-madah puman Naivarhaty abhidhatum vai Tvam akincana-gocaram…


Everything is Lord’s property

That Krsna is the property of the impoverished. But this doesn’t mean physically impoverished. When you believe, nothing is mine-everything belongs to god, whether you’re a multibillionaire or whether you’re just a simple brahmachari living in the ashram. When we recognise everything belongs to god, let me serve. That’s what Kunti’s talking about. Not claiming false proprietorship, that I am the controller and the enjoyer. But when you have that mood of a humble servant, Krsna becomes the property of that consciousness.


Mood of the festival

So today, this festival is in honour of this principle. Yes, today we have sitting among us I’m seeing, we have multi millionaires who are CEO’s, chairman of the boards of international corporations of tens and thousands of shareholders, massive companies and factories stretching blocks; city blocks and many such things. Travelling all over the world. And we have PhD scholars. Former heads of department of science for largest university of Bombay. We have lawyers. We have magnificent intellectuals who can chant, chant beautiful shlokas and speak in such a way that it just penetrates the heart and convinces the intelligence. And we have engineers who have mastered the art of manipulating material energy. And we have principals of schools. And we also have simple people who work for the railways. Farmers who during the drought suffer like anything; not, not suffer but they’re just- they don’t know. Just hoping a little rain would come so they could grow some peanuts. We have middle class people. And very financially poor people. We have brahmacharis, monks who have nothing to their name. When I see today, we have Indians from Maharashtra and Gujarat and Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Himalayas. We even have some people from Bengal. And there’s also Europeans from Germany, from America, from Australia, from Ukraine, from Russia, from Africa. We have men, women, old, young. And amazingly all different castes; people from all different religious backgrounds. People who were born Jewish and Christian and Muslim and Hindu and Buddhists. Everyone here-it’s all right here in this room. And everyone’s just sitting together, plucking petals from the flowers. And every single petal that you’re plucking is going to be offered to Krsna. And when there’s tens and thousands and millions of petals showering on Krsna, it is the combined love and devotion of all of us. That is sankirtan. Krsna likes that the best. When devotees cooperate together to make beautiful offerings of combined cooperative love and devotion to him. So yes, every single petal that you’re plucking can liberate you from all birth and death; from all sufferings and can elevate you to the highest liberation. If you just do it with that feeling of devotion and humility. And every flower that everybody else is plucking, that’s part of your offering. You see when the shower of flowers go on the deities, none of you are going to be able to say –that petal I plucked. You’re not going to be able to see the difference and that’s good. It’s all- it’s oneness. We are all going to become one. In our love. For the pleasure of the lord. We are plucking out our sinful propensities with each petal. And awakening our love. And it is in this mood of combined cooperative devotion when we chant together it has the most purifying effect for the whole world and is most pleasing to god. This is sankirtan. So let us offer these beautiful petals and together chant the holy names…Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rame Rama Rama Hare Hare…Ten million times louder please…Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rame Rama Rama Hare Hare…Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rame Rama Rama Hare Hare…Fifty million times louder…Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rame Rama Rama Hare Hare…

Srila Prabhupada ki Jai!

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.