Śrī-Śrī Rādhā Vinod Temple, Jaipur -HG Śītalā Mataji – Lecture; Indradyumna Swami’s Parikrama -2015

Life Story: Baladeva Vidyābhūshaṇa

– By Her Grace Śītalā Mataji

[Prayers …]

Hare Kṛṣṇa! What a wonderful combination is Baḍa-Hari Prabhu’s Kīrtana and being in the presence of the most ancient Deities of our six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvan! We are here at RādhāVinodilal temple, they call Him Rādhā Vinod. We won’t talk about RādhāVinod today, but just some of you maybe haven’t been here before; so for their information, these are the Deities of Lokanātha Gosvāmī. Lokanātha Gosvāmī was the beloved Spiritual Master of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur. Although we don’t hear so much about Lokanātha Gosvāmī, it is just because he was such an incredibly humble soul that he didn’t want anything to be talked about him.

But he is sometimes referred to as the Seventh Gosvāmī, because actually he and his very good friend BhūgarbhaGosvāmī were the first to go to Vṛndāvan. I better not get into that story, because that’s a long one. But just so you know that this Deity RādhāVinod actually appeared to Lokanātha Gosvāmī as he was doing Bhajan in the forest of Vṛndāvan near a village named Umrāo. He was just sitting doing his meditation, and suddenly this Deity appeared to him. He had a desire for the Deity and this RādhāVinod just appeared before him. There are two stories: One is that a little boy arrived holding the Deity and just placed it down and ran away, and the other is that the Deity just opened his eyes from his japa and he saw the Deity standing before him.

Then Lokanātha looked around and wondered, “Who brought this Deity?” Then RādhāVinodilal said to him, “I have brought Myself.”  This Deity, if you see Him, is fairly small, so Lokanātha Gosvāmī made a bag, and he wore the Deity around his neck.

[Śrīla Indradyumna Swami Mahārāja arrived]

“Do we have a seat for Mahārāja? Okay.”

So we won’t go into the details, but just so that you know where we are and who these Deities are, so I just wanted to bring that point up.

Indradyumna Mahārāja: “Too Far!”

Śītalā Mataji [Jokingly]: “Okay, Mahārāja likes to embarrass me. It’s a Rasa, Brother–sister Rasa.” [Laughter] “Difficult!”

I thought I would talk today a little bit about giving a broader picture on what  Indradyumna Mahārāja spoke so wonderfully and explained to us regarding: “Who is Rādhā Govindajī and how He appeared. How He came; how He landed up in Jaipur?” But, on the altar, there are also other personalities; so to round out our understanding of Who’s  all there at that temple, I would like to talk a little bit about Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and the Deities that were brought by Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita.

As Mahārāja mentioned yesterday, when the GovindaDeva Deity was found, this was a source of great ecstasy for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. His first immediate desire was to send the best man to take care of this Deity.  So immediately  he thought, “Kṛṣṇa has appeared in His Deity form, so who is going to take care of that Deity there?” It’s very important that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself arranged for it. Mahāprabhu had a servant called Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita, and Kāśīśvara was actually His Godbrother. That Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita and Govinda, the personal servants of Mahāprabhu, were originally personal servants of Īśvara Purī, the Spiritual Master of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When Īśvara Purī was about to leave this world, he had these two beloved disciples, Govinda and Kāśīśvara, who personally served him. So before his departure, he said, “After I leave, I want you to go  and serve Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the way you have served me.”

At this time, Lord Caitanya was travelling in the south and he very soon arrived back to Purī, and so Kāśīśvara and  Govinda made their way to Purī. They came and made their full dandavats at the feet of Mahāprabhu.  Mahāprabhu was extremely upheld and upset at the idea that His Spiritual Master had sent His own Godbrothers, to be His personal servants. He said, “No, no, no. I can’t take service from my Godbrothers!” But they were determined. They said, “But this is the order of your Spiritual Master, that we come here, and we do this service for you.” So to solve this dilemma, they went to Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. Mahāprabhu explained, “I can’t take service from My Godbrothers!” And Kāśīśvara and Govinda Paṇḍita said, “But we have been ordered to do this service and we want to do this service.”  Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya solved that. He said, “Now, the order of the Spiritual Master supersedes any social etiquettes.” From that time onwards, Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita and Govinda were Mahāprabhu’s personal servants. You can imagine that service: until Lord Caitanya got this news that Govindajī had now appeared in Vṛndāvan. He took Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita to a secluded place and he revealed his mind that, “I want you to go to Vṛndāvan, leave my service. Go to Vṛndāvan and take care of the Govindajī Deity.”

Just to know little bit of the past of Kāśīśvara. He was a very powerful man physically. He used to always go in front of Caitanya Mahāprabhu and move away the crowds and keep everything peaceful, like some of the devotees are organized to do that here; keep everybody back, and that’s what Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita did.  He was always there right next to Lord Caitanya. He was also the Prasādam server, the organizer serving Prasādam by Lord Caitanya’s order. Thus he had very important service there, and service that he must have loved so much. Now he is being sent away to Vṛndāvan to take care of Govindajī. But it is interesting to note, Lord Caitanya wanted to send His best man to take care of the Deities. We also, in our movement, should think in this line of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, that our best people, our most elevated people, should be caring for our Deities.

Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita, he didn’t really like that idea, he was lamenting piteously. He just couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the service of Mahāprabhu—very difficult to ask. He actually said, “How can I leave You? How will I be able to maintain my life? If I leave You, how would I live?—I would die!” Thus Lord Caitanya gave to Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita a very special Deity called GaurGovinda, which is Govinda and Gaur in one Deity. And He said, “I am going with you, and I am always going to be with you in the form of this Deity.” He gave him instruction: how to worship that Deity and He said, “Whenever you offer bhoga to Him, you will just see how I am eating.” So with great difficulty Kāśīśvara Paṇḍita had to leave the association of Mahāprabhu with his GaurGovinda Deity and travel to Vṛndāvan. He placed that Deity at the feet of GovindaDeva and then for the rest of his life, he dedicated himself fully to the service of Govindajī and GaurGovinda. It’s important by the power of his love, for the first time, Mahāprabhu came to this side of India in the form of a Deity. You probably wouldn’t have noticed, but that Deity is there on the altar of the temple of RādhāGovinda.

Also to just round out the whole picture of all the Deities on the altar, then we will talk a little bit about how Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī wound up there. When Govindajī and Madana-Mohan appeared, They appeared by Themselves, not with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. So for some time, They were worshiped alone. But the son of Mahārāja Pratāparudra in Purī named PuruṣottamaJana had a very strong desire— he wanted to send Rādhārāṇī to Govinda and  Madana-Mohan. He arranged that two Deities of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī were made, and they were sent to Vṛndāvan in a very elaborate procession and very carefully brought to Govindajī and Madana-Mohan. When these two Rādhārāṇī Deities arrived in Vṛndāvana, they had a great welcome festival. But before They were installed, the Pūjāri at Madana-Mohan temple had a dream, and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī appeared to him and said, “One of these deities is Me (Rādhārāṇī), but the other one is Lalitā; so you install Me next to Madana-Mohan and also Lalitā next to Him.” So interestingly that dream was just accepted by everyone. Thus, that left Govindajī without Rādhārāṇī. So PuruṣottamaJana heard about this later that he sent these two Rādhārāṇīs, and apparently in the dream, Rādhārāṇī said, “That person who sent us—he didn’t know I was there, but also Lalitā is there. He didn’t know.”

PuruṣottamaJana still had a desire and wanted to send Rādhārāṇī to Govinda. He tried again many, many times  to make a Deity, but somehow or another, it just didn’t happen, until he had a dream. Everything is based on dreams in those days, and Rādhārāṇī came to him and said, “I am in the Jagannātha Temple. Actually, the Deity that they are worshipping there as a Lakṣmī is actually Me, and I want to go to Vṛndāvan and be with Govindajī. I won’t be Lakṣmī anymore.” PuruṣottamaJana woke up and he was very excited, and he rushed to the Jagannātha temple and went before this LakṣmīDevī and he saw, “Oh, this is Rādhārāṇī!” So then he inquired, trying to get to the root of this, “How did Rādhārāṇī become LakṣmīDevī here in the Jagannātha temple?” He found out that long, long ago She had been brought from Vṛndāvan to a place called Rādhānagar in Orissa.

Now I don’t know—there is no history of who brought Her and why did he only bring Rādhārāṇī. But somehow or other, that place Rādhānagar became named Rādhānagar after Rādhārāṇī came. But somehow, She actually originally came from Vṛndāvan to this place in Orissa. There was a very, very pure devotee there in Rādhānagar whose name was Bṛhadbhānu. He was a very, very pure devotee, very rare soul, and he worshiped this Rādhārāṇī Deity like his daughter. So a very, very highly elevated devotee. He worshiped Her in a mood that if he didn’t have a sight of Her even for a few minutes, he would be in an unbearable separation. So that’s the kind of devotee he was. He was famous for his love for Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. When he expired, even the king wondered, “What are we going to do now with this Rādhārāṇī Deity? This great soul has gone, now there is this Rādhārāṇī Deity.” The king himself at that time went to Rādhānagar and got this Rādhārāṇī Deity.  Now we are talking about the Deity that’s on the altar there that we are going to see every day.

He went to see this Deity of Rādhārāṇī and he was trying to figure out, “What we should do now? What should we do with Her?” While he was there he had a dream and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī appeared to him. Apparently, She likes to appear in dreams to people. We haven’t had that good fortune, but it’s something we can look forward to, maybe in some lifetime. Thus, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī said, “Take Me to the Jagannātha Temple.” He was very happy to follow those instructions and He brought Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī to the Jagannātha Temple. But over the course of time, many, many years, people started to just see Her as Lakṣmī. Somehow the history got lost and people started worshiping Her as LakṣmīDevī and She reciprocated according to their devotion. PuruṣottamaJana was very, very happy to find out that this is the Rādhārāṇī that should go to Vṛndāvan and that should be with Govindajī. So She was brought to Vṛndāvan all the way across the country in a great procession, and all the devotees in Vṛndāvan received Her with great ecstasy. Then we know, as Mahārāja described the history from thereon out, that Rādhā and Govinda were united in Vṛndāvan, and then eventually, the disciple of RaghunāthaBhaṭṭa, MānaSingh built a glorious temple for them, the best temple in Vṛndāvan. As Mahārāja described, the Deities were in Vṛndāvan until the nasty Aurangzeb started to attack temples, and then the Deities were brought here.

Really, I think we can feel how wonderful it is to be in Jaipur, where so many of the principal Deities of Vṛndāvan are situated. It’s just so powerful to be in Their presence and to be in these temples and have these beautiful Kīrtanas in such a historical place. We tell these stories not just to entertain or just to tell a story, but so that we understand our heritage and how amazing is the history and how glorious is what we have entered into. It becomes so much more meaningful when we go to the temple of RādhāGovindajī, and then we see, “Oh there is GaurGovinda, the Deity that Lord Caitanya Himself gave that came all the way.” It becomes very meaningful. We don’t just look at the altar with a blank look. You know, we experience, “Wow, this is very interesting, exciting, amazing!” It was a very glorious time when they started to build the beautiful temple for RādhāGovinda here, and it was a very glorious time for Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. All these Deities were now nicely protected. But as usual, when there is some kind of success, some pushing forward, there is also pushing back by the material energy there, and challenges, and things which come after that. Not everyone was completely in ecstasy about Govindajī’s arrival here in Jaipur.  As with anything, there is always somebody who is unhappy about things.

What was going on here at that time for many generations was that Rāmānandī Vaiṣṇavas had been very prominent. They were favored very much by the queen. I believe they were worshipers of SītāRāma, so that was the primary Deity at that time. The queen, she loves SītāRāma and she loves all these Rāmānandīs, and then all of sudden this Govindajī appeared. As with every situation, there is always a political side, a power issue. There are many factors to everything apart from just devotion. The Rāmānandīs saw, “Wow, Jai-Singh, the King, he has so much attraction, affection and attachment to this Govindajī Deity. What is going to happen to us?” There is always a power and a prestige issue and financial backing and so many things that these Rāmānandīs had been given for generations because of the favor of the queen.

But now the king had such a strong affiliation with Vṛndāvan and with the Deities of Vṛndāvan. For Jai-Singh, this arrival of Govindajī was a major turning point personally in his spiritual life. Unfortunately, many of the spiritualists are not always the true spiritualists which they should be. So those Rāmānandī Vaiṣṇavas, they were quite upset that, “Now the King’s attention and affection and now, probably, finances, and so many other things are going in the direction of RādhāGovinda.” They waged war against Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas basically and it was a very difficult time.

Now to give you a little background to the story that will develop, we’ll have to tell a little bit about the history of an extraordinary devotee who saved the name of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism here in Jaipur, and that devotee is called Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa. We don’t even really know what his original name was. Vidyābhūshaṇa was the name given to him later, an honorary title. Not much is known about his lineage, because again, like Lokanātha Gosvāmī, he is a pure devotee and therefore devoid of false prestige. So he just never talked about himself. We don’t know much about it, but we know that, although he came from a merchant family, he had no inclination for that particular cast. He was born in Orissa, in a town near Remuṇā. From a young age, he had the desire that he wanted to be a teacher. He didn’t want to be a shop-owner. Those days actually it was very, very common that whatever family you were brought into, you just do what your dad did, and it just goes on like that for generations. But he didn’t have any inclination. He wanted very strongly from a very early age to be a teacher of divine wisdom. That means he had to study extra, extra hard, because he wanted to break out of his normal cast to do something that wasn’t really expected of him. He became a very, very learned young boy. He studied cosmology, logic and medicine, all kinds of topics he became expert in.

At young age, as soon as it was possible, he went on pilgrimage and he was seeking his Spiritual Master. So traveling in the south, he came across the Tattvavādīs or the followers of Madhvācārya, and he studied very hard there, and he became a master of debate. Then he again traveled, and actually he was a very powerful exponent and a preacher. Eventually he arrived to JagannāthaPurī in his travels, and there he met a devotee named Rādhā Dāmodara, who was a grand-disciple of Rasikānanda, who is coming in the line of Śyāmānanda Prabhu. Rādhā Dāmodara became his Shiksha Guru, and he explained to him everything about Caitanya and the six Gosvāmīs. He totally captured the heart of Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa. The natural thing to do next would be to go to Navadvīpa. So he went to Navadvīpa, and he began studying TattvaSandarbha and all the other Sandarbhas actually of Jīva Gosvāmī. In Navadvīpa, everyone was telling him the same thing, “Actually, you should go to Vṛndāvan. If you really want to study Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, then you should go to Vṛndāvan and study under Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākur, because he is the best.”

When Baladeva arrived in Vṛndāvan to take shelter of Viśvanāth Cakravārtī, a lot of the glory of Vṛndāvan had already been diminished. As Mahārāja described yesterday, how there were all the Mughal attacks, and Vṛndāvan was in incredible turmoil for a long time. He started studying under Viśvanāth Cakravārtī, and during this time, now Govindajī had arrived here in Jaipur, and the Rāmānandīs were beginning to wage their war on Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. The first attack of the Rāmānandīs was to question the legitimacy of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava line. They are saying, “There are only four Sampradāyas, so who are these Gauḍīyas? Where have they come from? They are not in those Sampradāyas.” They made this challenge, and, of course, the king, although he favored Govindajī and the Gauḍīyas, he has to be fair as a King. He had to show that this is legitimate. Apparently at that time to be legitimate you have to have a commentary on the Vedānta-Sūtra. You have to show what you are doing is in line with tradition. Jai-Singh was very concerned about this, but he had to deal, he had to be fair as he is the king. He wrote to Mahānts in Vṛndāvan, and he said, “Look, you have to help me. I don’t know what to tell them about, “How are you legitimate? How is your Sampradāya? How are you going to explain this?  Of course, our Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism begins with Mahāprabhu, and Mahāprabhu who is He? He is God Himself, so how much more legitimate can it be? God Himself is the head of our Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism. The Rāmānandīs were saying, “No way, we will not accept that argument. We want to see your commentary on the Vedānta-Sūtra.” Then, the answer to that was that, “The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam is the natural commentary on Vedānta-Sūtra.” That’s the way we accept it. There is no need for a commentary on Vedānta-Sūtra, that’s Bhāgavatam.

Suffice it to say, they didn’t accept that argument even. Jai-Singh was a very spiritual person, and he really just wanted everybody to get along. He studied everyone; he studied the work of the Gosvāmīs; he studied the works of the Rāmānandīs. I mean that is a really cool king; he just made a comparison. Nowadays with the politicians that we have, it’s never possible! Here he is a king, and he really wants to get to the philosophical roots, and he wants to be fair, and he wants to guide this spiritual development in his kingdom; so he actually compiled a book called Brahmā-Bodhinī. Jai-Singh himself compiled a book, and he read everything, and then he thought, “Well, let’s just unify these all, and everybody can be happy.” But it didn’t worked so the Rāmānandīs were still unhappy. Then to up the ante, they started to attack the method of worship of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. They said, “You shouldn’t worship Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa together, this is completely bogus.” The Rāmānandīs had some understanding up to the point of Aiśvarya Bhāva. But that was it, that’s where it ended. You imagine our fortune. It’s actually very rare to understand these things, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī: who is She? People simply didn’t know. Jai-Singh again wrote to the Mahānts of the Gopīnātha Mandir in Vṛndāvan and said, “Please, I am trying everything to defend you.” He said that, ”You have to silence these people; you must silence them or because as a king, I am going to be forced to remove Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī from GovindaDeva.”

This was pretty serious, can you imagine your Deity, RādhāGovindajī, and now you’re going to take away Rādhārāṇī, who traveled all the way from Orissa, went to Vṛndāvan, and then came here. Now, they are threatening that, “You have to take this Rādhārāṇī off the altar here because this is bogus.” So this is very serious. All the four temples in Vṛndāvan, major temples there, the Mahānts got together. They wrote something about how both Parakīya and Svakiya Bhāva, married love and unmarried love, how Deities can be worshiped in both ways. Then again, the Rāmānandīs, “No, no, we don’t accept his arguments.” Now apparently Jai-Singh actually did remove Rādhārāṇī from the altar for some period of time. Now just picture that, just picture going in to see Rādhe Shyam in Vṛndāvan and Rādhārāṇī is not there. I mean, how horrifying? How shocking? Then the Rāmānandīs become even more forceful. They said, “But why are you not worshiping Nārāyaṇa first?” Apparently that’s the tradition in some lines.

It was getting very, very difficult and very worrisome for, what was going to be the future of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava line? I mean, we wouldn’t be here if somehow they didn’t keep the Gauḍīya line going strong and prove its authenticity. Someone had to do that. It became an actually desperate situation where Viśvanāth Cakravārtī was keeping in touch with all of this fighting that’s going on in Jaipur and thinking that, “I have to do something as the leader of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas at the time.”  Baladeva Vidyābhūshaṇa had been studying under Viśvanāth Cakravārtī, and he was an incredibly knowledgeable person who was expert at debate. If you remember, he was trained under Madhvācārya’s group, so he was very well versed in all arguments. Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākur sent his student Baladeva Vidyābhūshaṇa here, to Amber, to defend the name of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. At that time, the center was in Amber; the Jaipur city had not been built yet. Baladeva Vidyābhūshaṇa arrived as a young devotee that nobody knew. He wasn’t famous. He was a very young man and unknown to everyone here, but in him was a philosophical giant.


Because he was unknown, it was even difficult to get an audience with the king. But eventually he did see the king and he said that, “I am here to defend the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas.” So they accepted. He made the challenge, “Here I am going to do it. I am going to explain you why we are legitimate.” He said, “I have come to resolve this issue.” The Rāmānandīs were kind of thinking, “Who is this new kid on the block?” But since he was making the claim, they said, “Okay, you go ahead, but we don’t want to hear what you want to say. We don’t care what you have to say. We just want to see your commentary on Vedānta-Sūtra and nothing else will be satisfactory.” Just as a side note, formerly during the time of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu; well actually, when Jīva Gosvāmī was going on Parikramā with Lord Nityānanda, Jīva Gosvāmī had the idea to write a commentary on Vedānta-Sūtra at that time, and Lord Nityānanda told him that, “There is no need to write this commentary now, later on Gopīnātha Ācārya is going to take birth, and he will write that commentary.” So it was many, many years later, and it was Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa who was the reincarnation of Gopīnātha Ācārya.

This was a very, very difficult task. I mean we couldn’t have really understood what is this task—to write a commentary on Vedānta-Sūtra. But, suffice it to say, it is extremely difficult, and it takes a very, very long time. Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa had an impossible task before him, so as an exalted devotee, of course, what did he do? He went to Govindajī, and he said to Govindajī, “I can’t do this. This is too difficult. Help. But you are the Divine Puppeteer. Please move my pen.” This is the mood of a devotee to be empowered, to do something that is difficult or even impossible. He just surrenders, “I am a puppet, please, do something with me, move my pen, move my hands, and move my body.” Because in truth we can do nothing, we can’t even blink our eyes without the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. We see how this was the mood of Śrīla Prabhupāda when he arrived in America, and when he was on the boat, he wrote that poem. He called out to the Lord in the same mood as Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, and he wrote that song which said, “Please, I have come here. What can I do? Let me just be a puppet in your hands and, please, make me dance, make me dance, make me dance.” So that’s the formula of success for even the impossible tasks. Just fully surrender to the Lord that, “I can’t do anything, and, please, use my body, use my hands, use my mind, use everything in your service. I can’t do it.”

Then Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa had a dream, and in that dream, Govindajī Himself said, “You write this, and I will move your pen. I will compose it, and no one will be able to defeat you.” Next day, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa woke up as a very happy man. He began to write with great, great enthusiasm and happiness.  Some say it took non-stop for seven days, and some say it took a month. But however long it took, it was a miraculous task.  What he wrote, became known as “Śrī Govinda-Bhāṣya—the words of Govinda. He came before everyone much to the shock of the Paṇḍitas and the nobles. Everyone came together and that’s how they resolved issues in cultured society. There are no nasty emails flying back and forth: “No, I think this. No. I think that.” They get the smartest people together that are the Paṇḍitas, the devotees, the nobles, the Kings. And they have an open mind. They wanted to hear the arguments; they don’t want to fight. They just wanted to hear—what’s right? Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa came before this large gathering of people, royal people and all the Paṇḍitas. He spoke so eloquently and so exhaustively on each one of the points. He made it very, very clear each argument that had been set forward. He made it very, very clear to explain our Gauḍīya Siddhānta.

I would like to read from the beginning of the very beautiful introduction that ŚrīlaBaladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa spoke there in the GovindaBhāṣya. He writes, “May Śrī Govinda be all glorious. By His mercy He revealed this commentary to me in a dream. The commentary revealed by Him is especially appreciated by the highly learned, and as a result of this, I have been given the name Vidyābhūṣaṇa, but it is Śrī Govinda who deserves all the credit. May that Śrī Govinda who is the most dear life and soul of Śrī Rādhikā be all victorious!” It was so beautiful, and so eloquent, and so convincing that there was no more arguing. He completely establishes the Gauḍīya Siddhānta and thus Rādhā and Govinda were united again. [“Haribol!” Applause]

Jai-Singh was so happy that he built a temple of victory. I think it’s at Galtaji. We went there last year. That’s where the debate took place. He then installed the Deity called Vijaya Gopāla, so such a glorious victory.  Just to bring it down to our practical level of how this applies to us: We can know that there is always going to be challenge. Fortunately, there was an amazing devotee who was able to uphold the name and the legitimacy of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism at that time. But it’s not like, ‘’Oh, okay! Well, he did the job and now it’s all over.” There is always going to be more challenges that come our way in the course of devotional service. Devotees have to be prepared to defend who we are, what we are, what we stand for, how it’s right, how it’s bonafide.” Because these kinds of things happened in the past, and they are happening now and will happen in the future—where we are really having to be able to explain, how we are legitimate.

As I was talking the other day about Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur, that he had made a strategy of how to do his preaching, and so he had called everyone together and had that incredible festival called Kheturī Mahotsava. It was so successful, and his name spread far and wide, and he really uplifted the whole of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism at that time. But there is always somebody that’s going to challenge. Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur was challenged in similar ways to what happened in Jaipur.  Because after the Kheturī festival Narottama made so many disciples, who were very elevated Brāhmaṇas, Paṇḍitas—very influential people. Just like the Rāmānandīs here became concerned, so in the same way, many Paṇḍitas in the area where Narottama was preaching also got concerned, “Oh, he is getting so powerful, this Narottama.” They made a challenge, because Narottama was also initiating people who were non-brāhmaṇas, and this was very controversial at that time.

A whole band of Paṇḍitas decided to come and have debate with Narottama, “What you are doing is not right. This is not bonafide.” Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur, he really didn’t like debates. He didn’t really like to argue with anyone. His disciples knew that, so they made a plan that they would hand off these Paṇḍitas before they arrived to argue with Narottama. That’s a whole story. I won’t tell all of that, but just briefly, GaṅgāNārāyaṇa Cakravārtī and Rāmacandra Kavirāj, they dressed themselves up as pot sellers: clay-pot seller and a pan-vala. They dressed, sitting at their shops, and then these Paṇḍitas came in to buy their bhoga and things for the Pūjā, and stuff, and they hear these two shop-valas speaking in eloquent fluent Sanskrit, like “Wow!” The Paṇḍitas were completely shocked, “What kind of town is this? If even the shop-valas speak eloquent Sanskrit, then what are the Paṇḍitas here?” They got a little nervous.

[Paṇḍitas]: “You are just a clay-pot seller; and how do you speak Sanskrit  like that?”

[Disciples]: “Oh, you know, we are just humble servants of our Guru Mahārāja. Oh, we all know this stuff.”

{Paṇḍitas]: “Oh, well who is your Guru Mahārāja?”

[Disciples]:“Oh, Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur Mahāśaya.

The Paṇḍitas were like, “Wow, we are going to debate with Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur, but we can’t even defeat his disciples, we better get out of here. Forget it.” This ability to defend your spiritual position and to have this strength to be able to do that is required. That’s going to be required for everybody in some small way or maybe in some very big way. Already in our movement we have got so many situations where devotees have to figure out how to defend our position.

Like when I first joined, I came to the temple to live in a temple after Janmāṣṭamī in 1970 in Detroit. I think that, probably at that time, was one of the first major difficulties that happened in the movement. I didn’t know what was really going on. I was just a plain new devotee. But all the devotees just came back from the Janmāṣṭamī festival in New Vṛndāvan and there, four senior Sannyāsīs had been propagating an inappropriate philosophy. In a nut-shell they were saying Guru is God. Many devotees that were there at the festival were really in anxiety, because they knew that what they were saying was wrong, but they didn’t know how to defeat it. So it was a real major problem. The devotees were so disturbed by what they were hearing. They knew that, “That doesn’t sound right. That’s not our philosophy.” But they didn’t have the Śāstric reference, and they didn’t have the maturity to really defeat them.

So I remember that all went to Prabhupāda and eventually everything got resolved. But as a result of that, we all realized that, “We just don’t know enough. We should have been able to say these things.” Thus, we did as a radical thing as, “We have got to study whole lot more.” We decided we have got to study the whole day long one day., But when you are going to do Sankirtana?—For the whole next day. It’s like a 48 hour schedule, so we can cram everything in. We made a schedule where we had Bhagavad-Gītā, Śrī Īśopaniṣad and Nectar of Devotion and then an all-day schedule of classes. Because we realized we weren’t capable, we were not able to rise to the challenge. So we needed to learn more. As you can imagine, devotees sitting for 6 or 7 hours a day studying, and then everyone was in sound sleep within two hours. When it came to Śrīla Prabhupāda, he nixed it immediately, “This is not necessary, Śrīmat Bhāgavatam in the morning, Bhagavad-Gītā in the evening. Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and go on Sankirtana. Don’t be fanatics!” Then there are other things we had, a Gopī Bhāva club thing that we had to deal with. So many things, and if you don’t know the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, you are just sentimental, how to deal with it? You don’t know, “Oh, God, what are we going to do?”  We had huge problems with brainwashing things at some point, so there are always problems that you have to come forward, to be able to defend our tradition. Even after Prabhupāda left, we still now got on-going with the problems like Ṛtvik ideas, origin of Jīva issues, so many things. They are always going to be there. We have to become knowledgeable and devoted to keep Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism alive, in the mood of Śrīla Prabhupāda who said, “I will fight till my last breath. I will preach, preach and preach,” which he did. 

Just going back to Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, maybe you have noticed that Śrīla Prabhupāda dedicated the Bhagavad-Gītā to him. I always wondered why. Because I never knew much about Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, I wondered, “Why did he dedicat it to him?” But now when you hear the story, you can get it. Just imagine, Baladeva uplifted the whole of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, he kept Rādhā and Govinda together—amazing; of course, Śrīla Prabhupāda dedicated it to Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa.

After that, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa returned to Vṛndāvan, and he became like a ruling Mahānta in Vṛndāvan after Viśvanāth Cakravārtī Ṭhākur. He is like a warrior, like a great hero coming back from battle. I mean, you imagine devotes were applauding like, “Yeah!” when he returned to Vṛndāvan. He became the Mahānta of the Rādhā Śyāma Sundara temple. He did his Bhajan there; you can see his cave. There is a little cave when you go down in the temple courtyard where he did Bhajan and lived there for 25 years or so.  He wrote many, many more commentaries, and actually he brought a special stone from Orissa to have the Rādhā Śyāma Sundara Deities carved there. What an amazing personality! He was Gopīnātha Ācārya, the brother-in-law of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya in a previous life, and in Vrajalīlā he was Ratnāvalī Devi—so what a personality!

With that, I hope we have more appreciation of Who is there on the altar at Rādhā Govindadevajī Temple. “Who are those Deities or personalities? How They came to be there? Then, how we have came to be here?” These are all miracles, and we are just part of all these miracles that are happening. By the grace of Śrīla Prabhupāda, all this is possible to us.

Jaya! Śrīla Prabhupāda ki –jaya!

Śrī-Śrī Rādhā Gokulānanda –Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur Disappearance Day- HG Śītalā Mataji – Lecture Part 1; Indradyumna Swami’s Parikrama -2015

Spiritual Warrior’s Battle Strategies, Part 1 (From Life of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur)

– By Her Grace Śītalā Mataji

Hare Kṛṣṇa! It’s so nice; it feels just like a few seconds that we were all here together last time. Yesterday I was flying here on the plane and just was glancing at a newspaper, and I was seeing all the horrific things going on in the world. You know hundreds and thousands of people migrants struggling across Europe. It’s just so much that one headline after another that are the horrible situations that people in this world are experiencing. Then you look at our situation here and literally, not exaggerating, I think we must be the most fortunate people on the planet.

We are here in this most sacred of places. Śrī Vṛndāvan Dhām, of course is the most sacred but even more sacred are certain particular spots here, that because of the Bhajan of great, great souls, they become even more amazing spots. So apparently this is like the second most favorite spot of the six Gosvāmīs that they would come here and discuss KṛṣṇaKathā together.

The environment that we are in , with just a few hundred people, we have this experience that we are just so fortunate and need to be very, very, very grateful. We have nothing possible to complain about. So for that blessing and that mercy and that fortune that we really don’t deserve, I really want to thank Śrīla Prabhupāda who is the personality who opened the door to Vṛndāvan to the entire world; and to thank Indradyumna Swami and his amazing crew for continuing to bring us here year after year to really experience some miracles in our lives; And thanks for Bada-Hari’s and Mādhavas amazing Kīrtanas; that I was feeling very dull and covered by the modes as I was coming in here; but you know once you sit through a Kīrtana by Baḍa-Hari all of a sudden everything becomes light and blissful.

I was trying to think what to talk about. There are so many wonderful aspects of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur that we can talk about and we do talk about every year. I find that sometimes, I wind up only talking about the early life of Narottama. Because his young life was just so fascinating, it’s so amazing, and then usually it winds up taking so much longer, and we don’t get into the middle of his life and the later part of his life.

So today I thought I want to focus specifically on Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur as the innovative, creative, dynamic preacher—what he did as a preacher. Because after all that is really what we are all here for! Śrīla Prabhupāda created this organization, ISKCON, for the specific purpose of preaching Mahāprabhus message all over the world. Because each of our Ācāryas did amazing things, so it’s very relevant and very pertinent for us to look at what our Ācāryas did in this area. How did they preach? How did they knock down the walls of the material energy? How did they go about it?!

None of our Ācāryas became incredibly successful by just doing the routine casual stuff. They really had to become spiritual warriors. That’s a preacher: spiritual warrior. That means you are waging war on the misconceptions of the mass population and those misconceptions that block their vision from Kṛṣṇa. A spiritual warrior has to figure out the ways and the means that he can break down those walls so that people can glimpse the beauty of Kṛṣṇa.

Anyone who is going to attempt to do something like that, generally they will first do what you will call an environmental scan. Even in businesses, people do it. They take a look, “What’s going on? What do the people like? What do they not like? What are the challenges? How can I touch them?”

Actually anybody who is a book distributor—they know—they do that environmental scan every time they see somebody; how to touch this person? Actually  someone said once to Śrīla Prabhupāda that, “Oh, you weren’t really doing so much in your first year or two when you arrived in the United States?”

Prabhupāda said: “What? I was doing so much”. The devotee: “Well, what you were doing?” and he (Śrīla Prabhupāda) said, “I was studying the American people”.  Prabhupāda made his strategies on the basis of what he was seeing before him.

Every preacher has to do that, make a strategy. Every soldier, every warrior has to make a strategy for the particular social context. Like say in World War 1, the strategy was to fight in the trenches, and that kind of strategy worked pretty well. But in World War 2 when they started to do that, it was a disaster. Because then they had airplanes, so the trenches just became the graveyards. Thus to be dynamic preacher you have to know, you have to think, you have to make strategies. Every single one of our Ācāryas had to consider the environment and the social situation that was going on at their time and make their battle plan.

Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur had to do this, make a strategy; and actually everyone—if you look at Śrīla Bhakti-Vinod ṬhākurŚrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī all down the line, Lord Caitanya Himself; each one of them made plans for preaching. What did they emphasize? What was their battle strategy? Like Śrīla Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur, at his time Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism had fallen to such disrepute, that he had a herculean task of trying to start preaching. One of his strategies was to pray, for a ray of Vishnu. “I’ve got something to do here that’s impossible; I need a ray of Vishnu”. That ray of Vishnu of course was Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākur, who came into the world into a situation that was very complex. Things were going on in the world and especially in India and especially in Bengal that had never happened before. It was a time when the values and the rational thought and the scientific thought of the westerners were pouring into India, with their missionaries and their condescending attitude towards everything Indian. The people of India, they began to question their own belief system. This ushered in what was considered to be the Bengal renaissance. It was a period when they tried to modernize Hinduism so that it wouldn’t seem so freaky to the intelligent westerners.

That gave rise to a group of what was called the bhadra-loka, or like the so-called intelligentsia, the intelligent Bengal people who really were trying to go along with the western viewpoint. They wanted to get rid of the idols, and all the Deities, because it looked bad to the westerners. There were reformists like Vivekānanda and Rāma Mohan Rāya who were pushing back especially Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, anything with any Bhakti or devotion and bringing forward this Advaita philosophy. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism was just kind of relegated to obscurity; it was just not cool.

That was the situation which Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākur had to face. So what was he going to do? He had to make a strategy. It was the first time that they had to interact with modernity— with the modern world. How was he going to spread Kṛṣṇa Consciousness in this environment, even to the West? One of the things that is acknowledged as his key to success was his attentive awareness of the social and cultural and political environment. He really knew what was going on.

I am going to get to Narottama soon [laughter], but Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī is so amazing also to talk about. Because he actually knew all philosophies, he studied everything, and when he got together with his friends, he debated. Think about what we talk when we get together with our friends? So he would argue everybody’s point of view. He was a very strategic thinker, so he made a radical battle plan; he had various ideas for the intelligent class, the general mass of people, the westerners, and his own devotees.

He had all different strategies, very clear. The first thing was to mass distribute—mass produce so many books. This was not common then; now we are used to it. But it wasn’t common then; Thousands of books, thousands of magazines, and just mass distributing—that was a new thing. As you know, the way that he spoke, the way that he wrote was so erudite, that the idea was to beat the English, at their ‘own game’. They think they are so smart [laughter]. But you can hardly even follow Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī; he knew English better than the English. Apparently his Bengali works are not such high language; so it was a strategy.

The other thing that he emphasized was Yukta Vairāgya—that was also a new thing. He rode in cars and wore clothes and used the printing press, and went overseas; all these things were radical. Even wearing a wrist-watch at that time for a Sādhu was like way out there. He had a strategy with the British that he would go to practically any lengths to treat them according to their culture and to their customs and to serve them in a way that they would have to be touched. To gain strength, another part of his strategy was to unite with the other Sampradāyas; so he published Rāmānuja, Madhvācārya; he tried to get the Vaiṣṇavas together, to fight against this modern influx.

Then for the general mass of people he did these massive theistic displays, using dolls and mechanized devices. This is all just like totally radical at that time; nobody had done anything like that before. He developed Māyāpura, started Parikramās, there was no such thing. We just assume there have always been these things, but ‘No!’, somebody started everything. We are doing this today, because Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī had a strategy and that was to do massive Parikramās. He was doing incredible Parikramās of Vṛndāvan and Māyāpura.

Then amongst his devotees he introduced so many strategies. He introduced Sannyāsa as we know it today. We just think, “Well, these things were always there”, — “No!” He established GBC, and even his own followers thought that was just so radical that they couldn’t keep it after he left. He initiated by quality and not by caste. We just think all of these things are normal now, but somebody before us just pushed and pushed to bring these things, so that we now have what we have. He focused his western preaching to westerners on Lord Caitanya and not on Kṛṣṇa. He subordinated Rāgānugā and encouraged Sanātana Śikṣā. You know he brought forward more not the Rāgānugā mood, but the mood of following the instructions of Sanātana Gosvāmī. He created a hard institution; I mean prior to that, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism was existing just softly. I am sorry; I am saying so much about him; I don’t know if this is the day;  but I think it’s important to understand these things. These are al, the battle strategies of our Ācāryas so you could go through each one of them. I am just focusing on Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta, because he is just so amazing. Each one of them had to consider, “How are we going to get the mercy out there, to the people!”He was the first to create really a hard institution and at the same time, he warned against what could be the problems of a hard institution. It’s possible that it could cramp the flow of Bhakti. Nowadays they call that the ‘routinization of charisma’; that you know, you create an institution so that you can get out to people, but it could just turn inwards and lose the spirit. He emphasized the importance of keeping a very-very strong preaching spirit; that is actually the purpose of the institution, so that you can spread and teach and benefit the world. It should never just become mechanical. If you study each one of our Ācāryas, they studied the environment that they were living in and the people around them and the challenges and then they made appropriate strategies. War-strategies: “How are we going to break through here?”

Even Lord Caitanya Himself adopted strategies. It was a strategy that He took Sannyāsa from a Māyāvāda or impersonalist line. Gopala Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, he had to make things acceptable for the smārtas. So the point is they were in touch with what was going on in the world and how to make Kṛṣṇa Consciousness accessible to the people of their time.

Of course, Śrīla Prabhupāda had strategies; what he did was as a creative, innovative, amazing preacher. He was initiating what were considered Mlecchas; he was putting ladies as Pūjāris on the altars; he was introducing book distribution, introducing RathaYātrā all over the world; he was opening up the Dhāma to the whole world, I mean opening the KṛṣṇaBalarāma Mandir.

These are all radical amazing battle strategies by great-great preachers. This is what preachers think about, “How are we going to get out to the most people?” We Neophytes think, about ‘I-me-mine’ like, “How am I going to feel better? How will I be happier?” That’s not how preachers think. The preachers are constantly thinking about, “How to touch as many hearts as is possible? How to give love to people?” Every successful preacher has made a battle strategy. You don’t win wars without a strategy; I mean you have got to figure out,”How am I going to get out there?”

Actually I am remembering the first time I went on Indradyumna Mahārāja’s festival tour in Poland. My daughter wanted to go and she was too young to go on her own, so I thought well, I will just go and take her there and then I will leave. I was going to stay a few days. I was sitting, waiting for the first bus to go out on Saṅkīrtan; and Mahārāja was showing me and he was so enthusiastic about how, “We are just starting the new tour,” and he said, “Look, I got these new flags, and we have got all these new things; we have all these balloons on a stick”. I was thinking, “My God, what is this?—a circus?” [laughter] Then I saw all the ladies were dressing all pretty and everything, and I was just sitting there and thinking, “God, I am like a dinosaur from a previous Yuga.” I thought, “I got to get out of here as soon as possible”. So then we get out there and it was the most amazing experience. I said “See, Oh my God!—this is a battle strategy, that somehow or other you bring the spiritual world out to the people; all this color, and bliss, and fun, and everybody just gets sucked right in. What a strategy!”

Thus every preacher, every devotee has to make some strategy; they have to do their environmental scan and see, “How do we go about this? How do we touch people’s hearts at this time in this place?”

Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī as also a most incredible strategically minded person is thinking “Well, how are we going to take out from Vṛndāvan now, all that we have been acquiring, all these books being written?” Jīva Gosvāmī—what a strategic thinker! He thought, “So here is this student, Narottama Dāsa and he is the son of this wealthy Zamindar who is a very powerful person; so we should send him out preaching”. This was a big shock to Narottama Dāsa.

You imagine—he, living in Vṛndāvan as a perfected devotee; it’s quite different from living here as a neophyte devotee. The first thing of becoming a preacher is that you have to be ready for sacrifice and austerity. Here is Narottam Dāsa Ṭhākur, who has been living in Vṛndāvan as a perfected devotee and associating with the greatest persons existing on this planet at that time; I mean he was actually living in Vṛndāvan. Most of us are here little bit on the covering, but Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur, Śrīnivas Ācārya, Rāmcandra as best friends, studying under Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī—they were in ecstasy here in Vṛndāvan. They were really seeing Vṛndāvan. When Narottama and Śrīnivas are doing Govardhan Parikramā, they heard Kṛṣṇa‘s flute. That’s a real Govardhan Parikramā. Try it tomorrow—right? [laughter]. They heard the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, Kṛṣṇa appeared to them when they were doing Parikramā. This is how Narottama was living in Vṛndāvan. He wanted to continue with that life in Vṛndāvan forever. It was quite a shock to him when it was announced that he was going to Bengal.

Narottama had to go along with this battle strategy that he had to leave all of these beloved devotees: Raghunātha Dāsa GosvāmīŚrī Jīva Gosvāmī, his beloved Spiritual Master—Lokanātha Gosvāmī. He had to say, “Good-bye.” He took his last Parikramā around Vṛndāvan and saying good-bye to all the residents of Vṛndāvan. That is really some incredible Parikramā for a realized soul.

Narottama with great heart, I mean it was a very-very heavy heart, but at the same time with very great excitement; because he was about to fulfill the mission of the Lord. Narottama took this journey which was actually a very difficult journey to take all these books that have been stock-piled for years and years in Vṛndāvan—all the writings of Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī. It was so amazing, like a treasure chest of gold he was taking to the other side of the country. You can only imagine the scene—that when, I think it was in front of Govindajī Mandir where they packed all these books. Everybody in Vṛndāvan came to watch this amazing scene; all those years that these great, great, great devotees had been compiling all these works. When you think of all the Bengali devotees they didn’t know about any of this. They didn’t know, they didn’t have these works and Jāhnavā Mātā was writing from that side of Bengal to Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, “Please send them!“, because it was a very difficult situation over there in Bengal. All those devotees were just remembering “Mahāprabhu, Mahāprabhu”—they were just remembering His presence there. But they didn’t have these books that had been compiled and were empowered by Mahāprabhu, who gave the instructions to Sanātana and Rūpa. He gave all the seeds from which they were to unpack into all these books. All these devotees in Bengal they didn’t have any of it.

This was Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s incredible strategy that “Okay—book distribution is going to happen now”. All these amazing, jewel-like manuscripts are carried like priceless gemstones, put into the boxes to seal them and to send them out.

What a journey and what a mission that Narottama, Śrīnivas and Śyāmānanda had! What a mission!, to take all the realizations, all the jewel-like, most valuable realizations of all the Gosvāmīs and take them across the country. That journey and all that happened there, I won’t go into that detail, but it was an arduous journey and many traumatic things happened along the way. But eventually Narottama did arrive in Kheturī which was the area given to him by Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī as his Prabhu-datta desh. “You are the wealthy son of a very influential Zamindar and so people are going to listen to you. You are going to have some influence in this area!” It was somewhat radical, because Narottama as a renunciate to go back to his home-town, that was difficult. He was going to have to meet all those old friends and relatives, who all thought of him as Rajakumar Narottama and they all loved him. There are two different versions; some say that his mother and father were still there when he returned, some say that they were not.  But in any case, many relatives and many people who knew him and loved him as a little boy were there.

That was going to be his first challenge that he had to re-enter this place where everyone saw him differently. They really loved little Naru. He was like the talk of the town. He was the only son, and so everyone, “Little Naru, he’s coming back”. Everyone came rushing out, “Narottama, Narottama is here”. Everyone was so excited.

But when they got in front of him—of course, they want to run and embrace him—but when they see him: “Whoa, this is not our little Naru. This is some great Vairagi”. There is Narottama with his thin body and as a Sādhu with his little water pot. So everyone just froze. All the village people are rushing, everyone is running from everywhere, “Narottama is here, Narottama!” They are all rushing out to greet him and then they all just freeze, “Oh my God, what is he now? Where is Naru?”

Narottama had to deal with the situation. As a preacher, he had to know how to not discourage them but at the same time they have to get the point that he is not their little Naru anymore. Because first thing that happens is his cousin-Santosh, who has taken over the kingdom that Narottama is actually supposed to be running. He said, “Oh Narottama, I was just taking care of it until you came back; take it.” Narottama as a preacher he had to make it very clear, “No one even talk about politics, or position, or anything. I am now something else. Anyone who talks about those things, or expects me to behave in those ordinary ways, I will be gone”. So everyone was just frozen that they just don’t want him to leave again. They love him so, “We will just do whatever you want, Naru”. He made it very clear, “No, I will not go into my former home. Now I will be very happy to just stay out here in the Chandi-Mandap somewhere near the temple.” Then he began his strategy for preaching and he saw most of the people at that time are fairly pious but not very intellectual, not really comprehending deeply about spiritual subject matters. So Narottama’s battle strategy was what?—It was, “I am going to write songs; songs that anybody can understand.” Because now we just take it for granted, we sing all these philosophical songs and we just think they were always there forever; well, they were not. The brahmanical class actually had a very powerful control over spiritual knowledge. They were in control of giving it out and doing Saṁskāras for people; they had a system.

This idea of writing songs with very-very deep subject matter, that will be sung in the way that people sing their village songs— this is a battle strategy. So Narottama began his work. He made a strategy but at the same time, he was feeling that he was not fully empowered yet, and so he had this very strong desire. He had never actually been to Navadvīpa, he had never been in all the sacred places on that side of the country.  He felt that, in order to do the preaching that he was meant to do, he needed the empowerment to do it and that he needed to go and get the mercy of the Dhām and the mercy of the devotees, in order to really launch his mission. This is a common strategy that you will find most of our Ācāryas planned; they also did this at some point in their life, like Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī did this. Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī felt that what he had to do was so complex and such difficult work that he really needed special empowerment. So he went to the Dhām. He went to Māyāpura Dhām to do a Vrata, and that Vrata was done with the purpose of understanding, “How to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness?”

Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī actually took a vow to chant a billion names and he went into seclusion to do this. He stayed in a hut and slept only on the floor. He used no footwear or chadar. He ate only rice once a day, and not that he was only doing that; he also did some preaching activities during this Vrata. But you imagine: this took nine years. I mean that is very serious preaching preparation. Even he did that again another time, after the departure of Śrīla Bhaktivinode Ṭhākur and his spiritual master—Śrīla Gaur Kishor Dāsa Bābāji. At that time he also went into another state of intensive Bhajan to get empowerment to preach. It’s not an easy task in this world. Probably there is nothing more difficult than to push back the material energy and bring in the spiritual energy. It requires empowerment; you can’t just decide to do it. You do these things not because the austerities bring you something, it’s because you get the blessings of the previous Ācāryas.

At the end of his (Śrīla Bhakti-Siddhānta Sarasvatī) intensive Bhajan for quite a long period of time, in preparing  to actually manifest his mission, he finally got a most extraordinary confirmation and empowerment from all the previous Ācāryas. He had a vision and in that vision he saw the PañcaTattva, he saw the Six Gosvāmīs, he saw his own spiritual master, he saw his father. In other words, everybody came and he saw them and then he heard from them, “Begin the task of spreading Śuddha Bhakti. You will get unlimited support. The support of people, opulence, scholarship—it’s all waiting to serve your mission and everything will manifest when it’s required. With full strength, you push forward. Distribute PremaDharma to the whole globe. There will be no hindrance because we will forever be with you”. So how about that realization and blessing he got for results of his Vrata? Amazing!

This is the mood of the preacher, that he comes to the Dhām for this purpose, to pray and to get empowerment. We don’t come to have a good time and to just socialize, meet new people. The devotees really come for empowerment and for realization. Śrīla Prabhupāda also went to the Dhām before he got on the boat. He went to Śāntipura and he begged the mercy of AdvaitaĀcārya there at the house of AdvaitaĀcārya. Of course he spent years in front of the Samādhi of Rūpa Gosvāmī to get the empowerment to do what he did. We also see, of course Indradyumna Mahārāja is such a great example. When we go on our Parikramās, sometimes he shares that, this is what he is praying for when he goes to Sanātana Gosvāmī’s Samādhi and in front of Govindajī—he said, “I am praying for the empowerment to go out and spread Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. I am not just coming here to have fun. Yes, Kṛṣṇa Consciousness is fun, but really there is a big task, there is a big war that we are meant to be fighting.”

So Narottama was feeling this way, he was feeling, “I need the mercy of the Dhām and I need the mercy of all these personalities in order to really become a preacher.” So Narottama went to Navadvīpa, where he had never been before. He began his pilgrimage in Māyāpura. For him it’s said,—every day, every moment his heart was pounding, because he was in such a state of separation and union simultaneously. He is meeting all the devotees that are left, that were there who were with Mahāprabhu. He is in the places where Mahāprabhu lived and played and yet he is seeing and he is not seeing, so he is torn constantly. Sometimes he is in a mood; he is just crying “How was I born late? How did I miss this? How come I wasn’t there?” Maybe some of you feel that sometimes when you think, “Why wasn’t I there when Prabhupāda came, just a few years back?” But this mood of, “Why did I miss? Where are you? I want to see you”; that brings one into the presence of that person whom you are missing. So there is union and separation going on. Like some of you probably sometimes think, “Oh, I wish I would have been there when Prabhupāda was there”, and to the degree that you have that feeling of separation, that desire, then somehow or another Prabhupāda becomes present. It’s not like a few people only know PrabhupādaPrabhupāda is interacting with everyone.

This was Narottama‘s experience that sometimes he would just be burning and burning in this mood, “How did I miss this? Why wasn’t I here?” He is in all the places; he is in the house of Lord Caitanya, but Lord Caitanya is not there. But with that mood suddenly the Lord would appear, and he would be in union. For the devotees who were dying in separation from Mahāprabhu and were seeing Narottama, then suddenly they felt union again, because he just reminded them so much of Mahāprabhu. In this spirit, Narottama traveled from Māyāpura and Shantipur and Ambika Kalna, Kardaha and he met Jāhnavā Mata and he met all these devotees who had met Lord Caitanya.  Then eventually Narottama makes his way to JagannāthaPurī and there in the house of Gopīnātha Ācārya, one evening he has a revelation; it’s not a dream exactly, it’s a revelation. I am going to read, it’s from BhaktiRatnakar about what Narottama experienced in that revelation. So suddenly Narottama finds himself standing on the grand road where the RathaYātrā comes down and he sees the RathaYātrā cart coming towards him as he is standing on the side of the road. Then he sees Caitanya Mahāprabhu and all His associates are dancing in front of that RathaYātrā cart coming towards him; so Narottama stood transfixed, just trying to take in every aspect of this extraordinary scene.

He watched Lord Caitanya dancing in such a spirit of love and all the devotees were simply gazing upon Him, dancing in utter joy.  Huge crowd of pilgrims pushed forward just to get a glance of this beautiful dancing. The demigods were showering flowers and other demigods were disguised as humans joined into the ecstatic festival of the Holy Name. Even lame and blind and deaf, they all forgot their handicaps; they forgot, “I am not supposed to be able to walk, but I am walking”. They all hurried to join the Kīrtana. Even the stone-hearted people, they started just weeping in joy. They are hearing this melodious chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names and everyone was just dancing in ecstasy. Even the animals and the birds were all stunned watching and Narottama was just standing at the side of the road watching this scene. He is just silently weeping in joy.

Then Lord Caitanya left the Kīrtana and He came right to where he was standing and he took hold of Narottamas hand and embraced him. Hare Kṛṣṇa! He said, “Narottama, you should go back to Kheturī. It is my desire, you establish a new type of Saṅkīrtan. Through your Kīrtana, you will reveal My teachings and My mission and My pastimes to the world. I will empower your Kīrtana to mesmerize the hearts of all who hear it. Those fortunate to take shelter of you will receive the most precious wealth of love of God. Now go back to Bengal, establish the Saṅkīrtan of the Holy Name. Go deliver souls, Narottama, and bring them into the Sampradāya of love of God and know that I will always be with you and will protect you”. Narottama fell at Lord Caitanya’s feet, bathing them with his tears. Then each of all the devotees that were there all came and embraced Narottama and they encouraged him to fulfill his mission. That was the real result of Parikramā. This is the real thing—real devotees—that’s what happens to them.

Then Narottama continued on Parikramā; he went to Katwa and Śrīkhanda and then he went to Ekachakra, on his way back to Kheturī, he went to these other places. Then again in Ekachakra he had some extraordinary experience. He met an old very elderly brāhmaṇa who wanted to take him around and show him the holy places. That is a whole story in itself, so I won’t get into that, but eventually what Narottama found was that the old brāhmaṇa was Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu Himself.  This was the result of Narottamas pilgrimage. We are all here on pilgrimage; I don’t know what we will take back with us. This is what Narottama took back with him. Of course during that time he had been everywhere; he had met everybody; he had taken the pulse of what was going on. He had done an environmental scan, and he got the blessings to do what he needed to do. So you might do the environmental scan, but without the blessings you don’t have the Śakti. Narottama was really ready now to launch his mission.

I am wondering if we should stop there. Yeah, we should stop there.  Haribol [clapping]

HH Indradyumna Swami: “Sadbhih!  So we are not actually going to stop; we are just going to take a break. You can take a little Prasādam now. It’s okay, it’s Narottamas disappearance day. So on these days you can take some Prasāda. So you have your breakfast now—25 minutes for breakfast—till 10 o’clock and then from 10 to 11, Mādhava is going to lead Kīrtana and then from 11 to 12, Śītalā will finish her discourse, if you would like?”

Haribol [clapping…]