By Mahanidhi Swami

Devotees often ask, “If the Vrajavasis loved Krishna so much, then why didn’t they go to Mathura to meet their dearest after Akrura whisked Krishna away from their hearts one dismal day in February? After all, Mathura is only eight kilometers from Vrndavana.”

For the following five reasons, the Vrajavasis did not go to Mathura:

1) Sweet Intimate Pastimes:

Mathura and Dvaraka are filled with opulence and grandeur (aishwarya), formality and social etiquette which generate an atmosphere of awe and reverence that creates a bridge between loving hearts. Vaikuntha is God’s office and Vrndavana is God’s playground. Only here in Vrndavana, and nowhere else, can Krishna experience the sweet and natural, free-flowing, uninhibited love of the Vrajavasis. In Vrndavana, Krishna carries Nanda’s slippers on head; Yasoda bathes Krishna in cow urine and dung; Govinda carries the winning gopas upon His shoulders; Madhava massages Radha’s feet and bathes them with His tears to mollify Hermaan; and Krishna sometimes dons a female disguise to meet Radha in Her in-laws home. In nowhere else but VrajaDhamacan such inconceivably close and warm loving exchanges take place. Thus the Vrajavasis could not leaveVrndavana, and visit Krishna in Mathura.

2) Faith in Krishna’s Promise:

Because of their innocence and simple love, the Vrajavasis had full faith in Krishna’s promise that He would returnsoon. Thus they patiently awaited Krishna’s arrival.”

3) Memories

Although the Vrajavasis were all burning in separation from Krishna, they sustained their lives by remembering Krishna’s lilas in the fields, forests and towns of Vraja. Memories connect separated hearts.

4) News Reports

The regular visits of Narada Muni and Uddhavato Vraja, bringing the latest news of Krishna’s activities in Mathura, gave immense pleasure. Thus the Vrajavasis remained in Vrndavana, because for them, Vrndavana was Krishna and Krishna was Vrndavana.

5) Prevent Suffering for Krishna

The Vrajavasis felt so distressed without Krishna that they wanted to give up their bodies. But they didn’t, because they thought it would cause too much pain to Krishna when He finds out. So they dragged on somehow maintaining their lives.

Our goal is Vrndavana and VrajaPrema; to lovingly serve Radha and Krishna like the Vrajavasis do in Vrndavana. I have revealed here just one drop from the unlimited ocean of attachment for Krishna that the Vrajavasis swim in. By hearing this, we can get a little understanding of the degree and depth of their absolutely selfless, totally self-sacrificing pure divine love for Krishna.

By Mahanidhi Swami

For a brief period of my devotional life I wore a Nrsimha kavaca. One hearty well-wisher pointed out that my guru, param guru and paratpara guru never wore such a thing. He further reminded me of Srila Prabhupada’s famous quote: “The reason for my success is that I had complete faith in the holy name of Krishna and in the words of my spiritual master.” Off came the kavaca!

Seeing many devotees wearing nrsimha kavacas, we decided to describe the principle that Krishna alone—specifically in His nama rupa avatara is the only ONE we need. Sri Krishna’s Holy Name is our ONE AND ONLY source of protection and shelter. Surrender means believing this and following this. Hare Krishna!

Without surrender, saranagati, our sraddha will never grow and develop into nishta, ruci, bhava and prema. Our humble request to you and any other souls hearing our words is to please cast aside all kavacas and take exclusive shelter of Krishna’s ambrosial holy names.

In the words of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, “The holy name of Krishna is the only shelter in the fourteen worlds.”

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Surrender, sharanagati, is the very life of the true devotees. Srila Rupa Goswamipada describes six aspects of surrendered in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu:

anukulyasya sankalpa, pratikulasya varjanam

raksisyatiti visvaso, goptrtve varanam tatha

atma-niksepa-karpanye, sad-vidha saranagatih

“The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Krishna will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one’s guardian or master, full self-surrender and humility.

PURPORT

One who is fully surrendered is qualified with the six following characteristics (1) The devotee has to accept everything that is favorable for the rendering of transcendental loving service to Lord. (2) He must reject everything unfavorable to the Lord’s service. This is also called renunciation.

(3) A devotee must be firmly convinced that Krishna will give him protection. No one else can actually give one protection, and being firmly convinced of this is called faith. A devotee wants to remain always in the Lord’s service. In this way, Krishna is merciful to His devotee and gives him all protection from the dangers found on the path of devotional service. (3) One should firmly believe that KRISHNA WILL PROTECT HIM, and that no one is a better protector than Krishna, one should always think that Krishna, or God, is great and that one is always protected by Him. [Narada Bhakti Sutras: NBS]

(4) The devotee should accept Krishna as his supreme maintainer and master. He should not think that he is being protected by a demigod. He should depend only on Krishna, considering Him the only protector. The devotee must be firmly convinced that within the three worlds he has no protector or maintainer other than Krishna.

(5) One should always remember that one’s activities and desires are not independent. In other words, the devotee should feel completely dependent on Krishna, and thus he should act and think as Krishna desires. (6) The devotee is meek and humble. (7) One should always think himself the poorest of the poor and feel totally dependent on the mercy of Krishna. [NBS]

“A devotee who follows these six principles of surrender always thinks, “O Lord, I am Yours in every respect; I am Your eternal servant.” [NBS 12]

“The six symptoms of surrender are divided into a whole and parts. Accepting Lord Krishna as one’s guardian or master is the whole or main principle; the other five items of surrender are parts or assistants of this one item.

There are three stages of surrender: 1) Initial conviction that by following religious principles, going on pilgrimages and surrendering to Lord Krishna, Krishna will protect me from the reactions of past sins. 2) Intermediate stage is the conviction that I shall give to Krishna my wife, child, friends, wealth, and other things that are my property. 3) Highest stage of surrender is the conviction that I shall place at Lord Krishna’s lotus feet, my self, my body and everything that is mine.” [Satvata Tantra]

Surrender to Sri Krishna manifests in three forms; with the body, mind, and words. This is explained in Hari-bhakti-vilasa (11.677):

“One who with words and thoughts says, “O Lord, I am Yours, and who surrenders in his body to Lord Krishna, becomes filled with bliss.” One who surrenders his entire body to Bhagavan Sri Krishna at once attains all good fortune.

Others attain different degrees of good fortune according to the degree of their surrender. Surrender to the Lord is glorified in the following words (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.19.9):

“My dear Lord, for one who is being tormented on the terrible path of birth and death and is constantly overwhelmed by the threefold miseries, I do not see any possible shelter other than Your two lotus feet, which are just like a refreshing umbrella that pours down showers of delicious nectar.” This verse means that the showers of Shyama’s sweetness chase all miseries far away from the surrendered souls.

My dear friends, think over the discussion so far. If you are ready—then solemnly take the following vow:

“O my beloved Lord Sri Krishna! I will do whatever is favorable for pure devotional service unto You, and I will reject whatever is not favorable for it. In all circumstances, times and places, You my Lord Sri Krishna are my one and only protector. I cannot protect myself.

“I will serve You my dearest Lord Shyama as far as I am able. I believe and I know that You will always protect me. In this way I will be protected. Who am I? I am Your property—Your own part and parcel. Whatever You wish, that I will do. In this way, I offer myself to You My eternally beloved, sweet master and Lord Sri Krishna.”

Jaiva Dharma says: “What does it mean that in every condition a devotee should be surrendered soul?” It means to think, “O Lord Sri Krishna, I am Yours” and “O my Lord Krishna, I surrender unto You”!

In his purport to Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s “surrender verse” in Gita (18.66), Srila Prabhupada says: “With faith and love, one should surrender unto Krishna. One should be confident that in all circumstances Krishna will protect him from all difficulties.”

Conclusion: We need no other shelter besides Krishna and His holy names. At all times and in all places we should always chant the holy names for all protection, shelter and perfection. Within the Hare Krishna maha-mantra all the other avataras and incarnations are contained.

Millions of years ago, Lord Nrsimha immediately manifested from the stone pillar to protect Prahlada Maharaja. Similarly, today in any place at any moment, the Lord Nrsimha form of Bhagavan Sri Krishna will also instantly manifest from the syllables of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra to protect any sincere devotee.

Srila Prabhupada describes this point in his Nectar of Devotion thus: “When Narada Muni was chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, he chanted so loudly that it was apprehended that Lord Nrsimha had appeared. Thus all the demons began to flee in different directions.” (NOD cp. 27)

The Four P’s of Srila Prabhupada:

Srila Prabhupada started the Hare Krishna Movement; personally always chanted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra; and Srila Prabhupada inspired millions worldwide to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. He repeatedly instructed us to just depend on Krishna, and always chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra for purity, peace, PROTECTION and perfection!

The Chandogya Upanisad (8.13.1) sums up everything beautifully—both the practice and the goal: “To attain Lord Sri Krishna, I surrender to Sri Radha. And to attain Sri Radha, I surrender to Lord Krishna.” BAS!!! (shyamac chavalaà prapadye shavalac chyamam)

O Lord Damodara, sharanagati Prabhu!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

The soothing flute song of Shyama sweetens everyone’s heart and maddens all beings. Streams of nectar ragas emanate from every hole of Madhava’s murali. With one tune, Krishna breaks Brahma’s meditation; one tune reverses Yamunaji’s flow; and another tune turns rocks into liquid streams.

Nandarani hears Gopala’s flute saying, “Ma, bring Me butter.” Nanda Baba hears Lala’s flute calling, “Pitaa! Make Me some new ball bats!” “Come let’s go to the meadows“, says Krishna’s flute to the gopa boys. For Priyasundari, Kanu’s vamshi implores, “O Rai, come quickly! I waiting impatiently for You in the kunja!”

Vamshi Dhari Shyama ki jai!

Rasavati Rai ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

Our acharyas advise us that on the path of raganuga-bhakti sadhana one must first read gaura-lila in order to successfully approach and benefit from reading Radha-Krishna’s vraja-lila. If possible, it’s best to read a particular gaura-lila that is analogous to the vraja-lila you intend to read or hear.

For example, first read about Gaura-Gadadhara’s nishanta-lila (3.36-6 a.m.), waking in the flower groves of Srivasa Thakura’s estate before reading Radha-Madhava’s nikunja bhanga lila in Nidhivana during the same time.

This practice is called Gaurachandrika, which means the moonbeams (chandrika) of Lord Gauranga’s most merciful and purifying lilas illuminate the dark forest path within our hearts to show us the way to the brilliantly, blissful keli-nikunjas, wherein Vrindavanachandra forever relishes conjugal intimacies with His dearly beloved Radha.

Before we narrate the beautiful story of Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s appearance, let’s hear the acharyas conclusions regarding the interplay of Gaura and Krishna lila.

Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati said (Sri Chaitanya-chandramrta 88), “As much as you are devoted to the lotus feet Lord Gaura, to that same extent the ocean of nectar at the lotus feet of Sri Radha will automatically arise in your heart” (gaura-padaravinde bhaktim…radha-padambhoja-sudhambu-rasih).”

Sri Narahari dasa an eternal intimate associate of both Gaura and Govinda reveals the essential contribution of Lord Chaitanya to raganuga-bhakti. In one bhajana, “Yadi Gaura Na Hoito”, he said, “If Mahaprabhu had not come to this world, who would have ever understood the glories of Sri Radha’s unlimited prema-rasa? And from whom would one get the power to render ecstatic devotional service that follows in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja?” (radhar mahima, prema-rasa-sima, jagate janato ke, baraja-yuvati, bhaver bhakati, shakati hoito kar)

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja (Cc. 2.25.271) wonderfully describes the sweet connection between gaura and krisna-lila: “Krishna lila is the essence of bliss ambrosia flowing in all directions in hundreds of rivers. Chaitanya lila is an imperishable reservoir of nectar, saturated with the pastimes of Krishna. O swanlike mind, please wander in this transcendental lake” (krishna-lila amrta sara, caitanya-lila sarovara).

In Prarthana, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura says, “If you submerge yourself in the rasa-filled ocean of Gaura prema, you will become a confidential servant of Radha-Madhava” (gaura-prema rasarnave se, tarange yeba dube, se radha-madhava antaranga)

Following the principle of Gaurachandrika, we will first narrate from Chaitanya Caritamrta (2.15.17-31) how Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates celebrated Sri Krishna Jayanti. Then we will recount Madhukantaji’s wonderful narration of Krishna’s exciting birthday extracted from Sri Jiva Goswamipada’s Gopala Champu.

Every year, Gauranga’s bhaktas would relish the four months of Chaturmasya in Jagannatha Puri observing various spiritual festivals in the blissful association of Mahaprabhu. One year they celebrated Krishna Janmastami and Nandotsava, the day after. Everyone including Mahaprabhu dressed up as a cowherd boys (prabhu gopa vesh).

Everyone carried pots of milk and yogurt balanced on rods over their shoulders, and walked to the Janmastami festival grounds chanting euphorically, “Hari, Hari!” Kanai Khuntiya dressed as Nanda Maharaja and Jagannatha Mahiti dressed as Vrajeshvari Yasoda. Mahaprabhu danced jubilantly, and all the bhaktas began to throw milk, yogurt and turmeric (haldi) water on each other to celebrate Sri Krishna’s birthday.

At this time, Advaita Acharya jestfully challenged Gaura Gopala, “I’ll believe You’re a cowherd boy only if You can wheel this lagudi (a stick carried by gopas).”

Mahaprabhu then wheeled His lagudi around and around, and repeatedly tossed it into the sky and caught it when it fell. Gaura Gopala threw the rod over His head, behind His back, in front of Him, and between His legs. Gauranga’s display of expertise in this playful art of the Vraja gopas, brought uproarious laughter to one and all. As His grand finale, Gaurasundara astonished everyone by whirling His lagudi so rapidly in a circle that it appeared like a firebrand (alata-cakra).

Entering the deep mood of Gaura’s sakhya-prema (gopa-bhaava gudha), Nitai-Balarama picked up His lagudi and also whirled it about in amazing ways. In this way, Gauranga-sundara experienced the greatest ecstasy observing the Janmastami festival of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, who is non-different from Himself.

In Gopal Champu, Sri Jiva Goswamipada describes the appearance of Sri Krishna thus: One night when all his family members had assembled in the palace entertainment hall, Nanda Baba asked Madhukanta, a court pandita and reciter, to narrate the lila of Krishna’s birth, Janmastami.

Thus Madhukantha spoke: One day Nanda Baba said to Vrajeshvari (Yasoda), “O devi! I see very attractive child with a dark complexion and long lotus petal eyes playing on your lap. And milk is profusely flowing from your breasts. O my priya-patni! Tell me the truth. Is this a dream or is this jewel-like child within your womb?”

Then some time later, a middle-aged, saffron-clad yogini arrived in Nandagrama accompanied by a slightly chubby brahmana boy. Introducing herself to Nanda Baba she said, “My name is Paurnamasi and this boy is my grandson, Madhumangala. O Baba, I can predict the future, and I see that you will have a most beautiful and sensational son who fill the universe with bliss.”

After a some months had passed, Yasoda Ma had a vision of a celestial child entering the lotus of her heart and a divine maiden (Yogamaya) entering her womb. The presence of the Bhagavan Sri Krishna within her womb made Yasoda Ma radiant like a thousand suns. Understanding she was pregnant, all the elderly gopis of Nanda Vraja brought gifts and auspicious items to offer Yasoda. As it often happens with pregnant mothers, Yasoda Ma had a craving to eat tulasi decorated rice mixed with camphor and lots of ghee and sugar, a favorite of Gopala.

On Wednesday, Bhadra krishna-astami, as the moon rose in the Rohini star during a harsha-yoga, Krishnachandra, the ocean of surprises, appeared to relish the intense motherly love of Yasoda Ma. Baby Krishna’s tender body was more effulgent than a brilliant blue sapphire. The moon of Nandulala’s face conquered the full moon. Gopala’s eyes resembled astonishing lotuses. Krishna’s lovely hands were more splendorous than the newly unfurled leaves of a celestial desire tree. Gopala cried sweetly while slightly moving His splendid hands and feet.

While gazing lovingly at her newborn, Yasoda thought, “Is He an empire of radiant darkness? Is He the topmost object of beauty for the eyes to see?” When the child cried at this time, Yasoda Ma took it to mean, “Yes, Yes Indeed I am all that and much more!”

When the village ladies came to see the baby, they all became overwhelmed with motherly affection. Gathering around Yasoda’s bed, they gazed at Gopala and started chattering excitedly. One lady said, “Ah! I will caress His darling head.” A second lady said, “I want to offer my very self to His heart and reside there forever.” While looking lovingly upon the Lord of Love, each lady expressed her personal desires.

Although Yasoda Ma gazed continually at her baby Gopala, she could not satiate her thirst. Streams of nectar poured from her breasts and tears of trickled from her loving eyes.

Concluding the story of Krishna’s birth, Madhukantha said, “O Nanda Baba! Your son Gopala bestows extraordinary auspiciousness to the people of Vraja, and gives the highest bliss to the people of the universe.”

Though not speaking this openly to the assembly, Madhukantha thought the following after narrating the pastime of Krishna’s appearance: “These Vrajavasis have a unique perfection, for there is nothing but Krishna in their hearts. All their heart’s affection is for Krishna alone. And Krishna will only reveal Himself to a devotee whose heart is full of love for Him. Thus Sri Krishna is always present in the hearts of these Vrajavasis.

Sri Krishna Jayanti ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

According to Bhanu Swami’s translation and the tikas of Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada, the Bhagavad Gita verses 18.68, 69 pertain to bhaktas who are preaching to other bhaktas. This is an interesting insight, because usually these verses are cited to encourage those preaching and selling books to non-devotees.

For devotees who specialize in preaching to devotees, like myself for example, or especially devotee parents who regularly teach bhakti to their devotee children, these two verses are very encouraging, enlivening and heartwarming.

Just imagine???

Bhagavan Sri Krishna is personally telling that He loves such devotees more than anybody in the world! In addition, Sri Krishna gives param bhakti and His own self to the bhakti teachers.

Please carefully study these Gita verses, and take strength to teach bhakti more and more to your devotee friends, devotee children and family members, and to any devotee whom you chance to meet.

ya idam paramam guhyam mad bhaktesv abhidhasyati

bhaktim mayi param krtva mam evaisyaty asamsayah

18.68 Without a doubt, one who teaches this supreme secret to My devotees will attain the highest bhakti and attain Me.

Tika Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada: This verse 68 and the next state the results of giving instructions on bhakti. The instructor first attains supreme bhakti (param bhaktim) and then the Lord Himself (mam eva esyati). [see these words in verse above]

na ca tasman manusyeñu kascin me priya krttamah

bhavita na ca me tasmad anyah priyataro bhuvi

18.69. Among humans there is no one so dear to Me. And there will never be one dearer (priya atara) to Me than he.

Tika Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada: Here Bhagavan Sri Krishna is telling, “There is no other whom I love so much as the person who teaches bhakti.”

Sri Krishna is speaking such wonderful, encouraging and delightful words here. Krishna is saying that He loves the bhakta who teaches bhakti to other bhaktas more than anyone else in the world!!!!

What more could any devotee want in return for his/her seva of preaching Krishna bhakti to other devotees? In other words, in two verses, Krishna says the bhakti teacher receives parama bhakti, Krishna Himself; and moreover that Sri Krishna loves him more than anybody on earth!

Preaching to Devotees ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

In this month (November-December), Sri Krishna stole the clothes of the Vraja kumaris and adopted the mood of their husband to fulfill the purpose of their month long Katyayani Vrata. Of the twelve months in a year, this month represents Bhagavan Sri Krishna as Krishna says in Gita (10.35), “Among all months, I am the month of November-December, mrgashirsha aham.”

The story of the gopis complete surrender to Bhagavan, and Sri Krishna’s playful loving reciprocation is narrated in Tenth Canto chapter 22 (Gopi Vastra Harana) of the Srimad Bhagavatam. For your divine pleasure and meditation during japa, we offer you the following description of this pastime taken from Ananda Vrindavana Campu (ch. 12) by Kavi Karnapura:

One day in Vrindavana, the intense hope of Dhanya-sakhi and the other attractive Vraja kumaris to attain Krishna as their husband blossomed like a flower on the desire tree of their hearts. To fulfill their desires, the unmarried damsels decided to worship Katyayani Devi, a form of Yogamaya who connects devotees with Sri Krishna.

With great enthusiasm they collected all the articles to execute the Katyayani vrata. The transcendental bodies of the gopis displayed a distinct type of beauty while they underwent the hardship of the vrata. The Vrajavasis, astonished at the intensity of the gopis penance and emaciated conditions, all felt pity for them.

Every day before sunrise, the young ladies would meet together, lovingly embrace each other, exchange cordial words and proceed to the Yamuna while loudly singing about the qualities of Hari. Their melodious voices, rich in rhythm and precise intonations, blended harmoniously with the soft notes of their vinas. A sweet smell emanated from their mouths as the gopis engaged in kirtana.

Upon arriving at the Yamuna, the impatient Vraja kumaris immediately threw off their woolen shawls. The blissful bodies of the gopis, covered by thin white cotton bathing outfits, looked more beautiful than a stream of falling snow. The gopis shivered and softly sighed due to the chilly morning air. The quivering of their leaf bud-like lips revealed the splendor of their pearly white teeth.

Reacting to the biting cold, the gopis made a comic scene by slapping their arms and crossing their legs in various novel postures. The gopis smiled gently and giggled upon noticing their friends feeling the same way.

The Vraja kumaris climbed down the bank, and slowly entered the Yamuna while ignoring the cold. After completing their baths, the gopis joyfully ran back up the riverbank. They felt elated over courageously tolerating the painful cold winter waters of Yamunaji.

After bathing and drying their creeper-like bodies, the gopis looked even more beautiful as they filled their lotus mouths with the sweet names of Krishna. Then the kumarikas made a murti of goddess Katyayani and together performed the puja. They offered handfuls of flowers, padyam, arghyam, acamana, madhuparka, aromatic massage oils, camphor scented water, a costly sari, ointments of aguru and musk, incense made from Krishna aguru, khus and guggul, ghee lamps, naivedyam of milk, butter, rock candy, bananas, coconut, mung dal, malpoa, sweet rice, cooked grains, and little tasty cakes topped with powered rock candy.

While offering the various items to Katyayani, the gopis prayed, “O Devi, please help us meet our beloved Krishna! Please arrange for us to bathe in the nectar of Krishna’s association.”

They also chanted the following mantra with clear pronunciation and full feelings:

katyayani maha-maye, maha-yogin yadhishvari,

nanda-gopa-sutam devi, patim me kuru te namah

“O goddess Katyayani! O Mahamaya (i.e. Yogamaya)! O greatest of mystic yoginis and mighty controller of all! Please make the son of Nanda Maharaja our husband. We offer our obeisance unto you.”

Each gopi chanted the mantra while mentally expressing their individual desires i.e. “O Mahesvari! Please shower your mercy upon us; You are called Yogamaya, the internal spiritual potency of Maha-Visnu, who possesses all energies. So you have the power to do the impossible; O Devi! You are the pinnacle of all auspiciousness. Your orders and glories are sitting like a swan on the heads of all the devatas. You are expert in worshiping Krishna and you are the supreme Vaishnavi; You perfectly understand the minds of all living entities. So please fulfill our desire to achieve Krishna as our husband.”

Throughout the days and nights of the entire month of Margashirsha, the Vraja kumarikas performed their Katyayani Vrata with unswerving zeal. Their throats always sung about Krishna’s qualities. As the days passed, the gopis offered more items and increased the standard of worship. Katyayani-devi was pleased with their immaculate offerings and regular worship. The all-auspicious Katyayani Maa fulfills desires, and bestows mercy and happiness upon those qualified with a pure heart.

Reciprocating with the young damsels of Vrajabhumi, Devi appeared within their minds saying, “O auspicious girls! You are the embodiments of Krishna’s conjugal attraction. Your sincere prayers ornament your heart and indicate your sincere longing for Krishna. Very soon you will attain the association of Krishna according to your individual tastes.” After communicating this, Katyayani disappeared from their hearts.

Anticipating the forthcoming success of their austerities, the gopis succumbed to a playful mood and stood up excitedly. Then following the local customs, they bathed naked in the Yamuna. Elated and enthused, the gopis joyfully pushed and squeezed each other.

The prema of the young gopis reached perfection because it had the desire to give bliss to Krishna as its only goal. Knowing this, Govinda left the happiness of herding the cows and playing with His intimate friends. Taking a few toddlers with Him, Krishna went to perform pastimes with the gopis in order make the bud of their heart’s prema blossom into a flower.

Sri Krishna is an unfathomable reservoir of steadiness and all other good qualities, yet He often displays a unique type of fickleness. Crouching down and casting a few furtive glances and a mischievous smile, Krishna adopted the mood of a thief and arrogantly snatched the gopis’ garments from the bank of the Yamuna. After hushing up His little friends, Krishna slung the gopis’ clothes over His shoulder and quickly climbed to the top of a kadamba tree. Sitting on a branch, Krishna glanced toward the gopis and listened to their chatter.

Upon coming out of the Yamuna and not seeing their clothes, the gopis exclaimed with surprise, “Who stole our clothes?” While arguing over the various possibilities, they looked fearfully here and there with their wide blue eyes that resembled the petals of a blue lotus.

Seeing their plight, Vrajendrakumara assumed a splendid aura of beauty as He sat on the kadamba tree. Then Vidagdha Krishna joked with the gopis in a sweet, clear voice soaked in a nectar unknown even to celestials. “I have stolen your sparkling pure garments just to enchant your minds and relish some pleasurable pastimes. Now you can come here one by one or all together to collect your clothes.”

The Vraja kanyas, with gleaming teeth and bashful faces, stood silently without yielding to Krishna’s demand. They were thinking that Krishna might not keep His promise to return their clothes. So they deliberately refused to answer for a long time, or even look toward the kadamba tree. Finally giving up their shyness, they gopis spoke in such a way to show their disgust with Krishna’s naughty behavior.

At that time, the sweet dancing of their lotus eyes and the darting movements of their eyebrows captivated all directions. Through their affectionate solicitations and entreaties, that appeared both witty and respectful at the same time, the innocent gopis showed their shyness with their smiling faces sending waves of sweetness in all directions.

Mustering her courage, one gopi said, “O Krishna! Are You not the respectable son of the great king of Vrindavana who instructs everyone in proper behavior? Are You not the all-attractive ocean of good qualities full of waves of compassion? Are You not the personified bliss of Vrindavana, illuminating the eyes of everyone with Your effulgent limbs? Are You not learned in all sastras and weapons? Therefore, why are suddenly performing such an unjust and abominable act?”

Another gopi spoke up, “Why did You steal our splendid garments? Is this Your idea of fun? It will not bring You any good; but rather it will make You infamous. Now just follow the path of honor, play fair and return our clothes.”

Sri Krishna, touched by their humble entreaties, said, “When I said come and take your beautiful clothes, I was not telling a lie.”

The young unmarried girls were intensely eager to attain Krishna. Thus they felt they could no longer ignore the harsh demands of this rarely achieved person. However, inside themselves the gopis waged a war with the forces of shyness trying to hold them back, and the forces of desire pushing them forward.

The gopis could not move forward because the power of their moral character equaled that of their strong attraction to Krishna. Though saturated with Krishna prema, modesty subdued their ecstatic bliss. Glancing restlessly here and there from the corners of their eyes, the gopis came to the Yamuna’s bank with great difficulty. Due to shyness, they hid behind each other while trying to cover themselves from Krishna’s curious gaze.

Then Krishna said, “O sakhis! Why are you afraid of Me? Now stand in a straight line, come before Me, and exhibit your splendid beauty. If you do what I say, then easily you will get your clothes.”

The Vraja kumaris attentively listened to Krishna’s pleasing words. Overcome with feelings of love, respect and hesitation, each gopi slowly moved toward their beloved. While observing their state of embarrassment, Krishna relished the purity of the gopis’ prema. With their draped over His shoulder, Krishna smiled as He drank the nectar of their sweet loving faces.

The gopis lost all their apprehension after hearing Krishna’s clever and pleasing words. Thus overwhelmed with prema, the kumaris slowly rose out of the water to reveal the stunning beauty and unique elegance of their beautiful divine bodies. Casting aside their shyness, the gopis stood humbly before Krishna with their heads hanging down. As Krishna’s prema-filled heart melted, a nectarean smile perfumed His lips.

At that tender time, Sri Krishna said, “O Vraja abalas! You have greatly pleased Me, and I feel the utmost limit of love for you. Now take your clothes and dress yourselves. May you drown in the ocean of ecstasy according to your individual tastes of love.”

While saying this, Krishna extended His hand to give each gopi her respective clothes. Holding their shimmering dresses in their hands, the gopis appeared very beautiful like clusters of golden lotuses bedecked with flags.

Then Vrajendrakumara compassionately addressed the gopis, “I know everything about your vrata and austerities. So I have performed this astonishing pastime just to increase your love for Me. By ordering you harshly, I tested the purity of your love. Being completely attracted and attached to Me, however, you submissively obeyed My beneficial orders. Thus I have manifested a permanent bond of love within your hearts.”

Accepting the words of their dearest beloved Krishna as truth, the gopis experienced both immeasurable joy and agitation due to their intense longing for Krishna. These thoughtful girls were beautified with the sweet fragrance of the vine of fickleness. Now that their vrata was finished, the gopis felt surcharged with love and incredible bliss.

Krishna concluded, “O gopis! Soon we will enjoy together during a festive night. You have attained eternal perfection, so now you can return to Vrindavana.”

Sri Krishna’s gopi vastra harana lila ki jai!

Margashirsha mas Sri Katyayani vrata ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

To increase our observance of Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s Jayanti, appearance day festival, we will cite some valuable points from Srila Sanatana Goswamipada’s 276 verse discussion in Hari-bhakti vilasa 16.

Why should I observe Janmastami?

Bhavishyottara Purana: Achyuta Sri Krishna said to King Yuddhisthira, “Everyone from the age of 8 to 80 must celebrate My appearance day. Observing Janmastami is an eternal function in three ways—It pleases Bhagavan Sri Krishna; It is a scriptural injunction; It is a sin if you don’t observe it. O King, by observing My Jayanti one will get good children, good health, unlimited good fortune and go to Vaikuntha after death.”

Vishnu-rahasya Purana: Lord Brahma said to Narada Muni, “One who eats on Janmastami eats all the sins of the three worlds. Eating on Janmastami is equal to eating the flesh of a donkey or a human being.”

How to observe Janmastami?

There are many detailed pujas and procedures mentioned in Hari-bhakti vilasa. But we will mention a few which are easy to perform.

Morning of Janmastami take a sankalpa (vow), “O Supreme Controller Devakinandana please help me to observe a complete fast today with I will break tomorrow after sunrise.”

Spend the day reading and hearing about Sri Krishna’s childhood pastimes.

Charity given on Janmastami yields 100 times more benefit than any other day.

Offer arati to a picture of Vasudeva and Devaki, glorify them, and pray for their mercy and blessings.

During moonrise offer Candradeva and his wife Rohini devi (the nakshatra Krishnaji appeared in) some water in a conch shell (arghya) while chanting Krishna’s Holy Names like “He Krishna, Govinda, Damodara, Madhava, Hari, Kesava, Madhusudana”!

What are the PUJA DETAILS?

Bathe Krishna atmidnightwith bhakti-surcharged pancha amrta (milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, sugar water). Offer a new dress, crown ornaments etc. Offer full arati along with kirtana, and sound lots of conches, bells, drums, voices and peacocks!

  • Bhoga—offer varieties of seasonal fruits plus coconut, dates, and many cow ghee cooked preps; all made with the utmost loving care.
  • Flowers—offer lots of fragrant garlands and flowers like lotus, mogra (jasmine), champaka, malati and mallika along with many tulasi leaves and manjaris.
  • Scents—offer Lord Krishna camphor, musk, aguru, kumkum, and sandalwood paste.

Conclusion:

To conclude, I pray to Sri Krishna’s Mathura father Vasudeva to bless me with pure consciousness (vasudeva-chit), so that someday Sri Krishna will also appear in my heart, and then initiate a grand festival of pure devotional service which will continue throughout every day of my life.

Sri Krishna Jayanti ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

Kamyavan (aka Kaman or Kamvan) is one of the twelve major forests of Vraja Mandala, wherein Sri Krishna lived for some time and engaged in many blissful pastimes with His beloved gopas and gopis. There is one lovely secluded place there named Luk Luki Kunda where Madhava and the sakhis played a game of hide and seek (luka chipi).

The Vraja ramanis cover their eyes with their palms and count from 1 to 100. Swiftly, Krishna runs away and hides in a hilltop cave known as Luk-luka Kandara. The sakhis search everywhere for Shyama but to no avail. Becoming worried, the gopis fret, “O, Where has Krishna gone, leaving us behind?” Sad without Shyama, the sakhis sit down and start meditating on their Sweet Darling.

Unseen, Krishna exits the cave and climbs to the hilltop. Shyama plays an enchanting melody on His flute which glides into the hearts of the gopis to break their contemplation. Following the sound, the gopis see Shyama on the hilltop and they eagerly run to meet Him. Ananda Khanda Bhagavan ki jai!

Madhava’s mesmerizing murali melted the rocks below Krishna’s feet to capture Krishna’s beautiful footprints for time eternal. Even today, a yatri can bless his eyes with the darshana of Damodara’s lotus footprints on this hilltop called Charana Pahadi in Kamyavan.

Hide and Seek

While walking alone in the forest one day, Radha-Govinda decide to play a fun game of hide and seek. At that time, Radha says, “Shyama, I will go hide, and I bet You cannot find Me without My sakhis’ help. “O yes I will find you!” replies confident Shyama.

Kishori goes and hides while Shyama looks here, there and everywhere for Her. Not finding Radha, Krishna becomes very upset and desperately asks the vines, “O Latas! Where is My Praneshvari?”

With their leaf-like hands the latas point to Sriji’s hiding place. When Shyama finds Her, Radha asks, “Did one of My sakhis reveal My hiding place to You?” Krishna replies, “There are no sakhis here, but Vraja vines helped Me, so now I am indebted to them.”

A sadhaka prays: “O Radha! O Shyama! For countless lifetimes I have been searching for You. Where are You hiding? How and when will I ever find Your hiding place?”

Then one very find day, Sri Guru came and pointed to my heart, saying, “The darling Playful Pair are THERE—in the cave of your heart!”

Radha-Madhava’s luk-chipi lila ki jai!

Sri Guru Krpa hi kevalam ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By Mahanidhi Swami

On the occasion of Gita Jayanti one should worship Bhagavad Gita book as follows:

  1. Perform acamana
  2. Offer Tulasi manjaris with sandalwood paste
  3. Offer fragrant flower garland
  4. Offer milk sweet with Tulasi leaf
  5. Offer arotika (incense, ghee lamp, conch water)
  6. Do parikrama of Gita book
  7. Glorify Gita with prayers
  8. Chant each Gita sloka
  9. Conclusion of 18 chapters, offer dandavats to Gita, Bhagavan Sri Krsna, Arjuna, Sanjaya & Sri Gurudeva, begging them to accept your Gita jayanti puja.

Please note: Prayers for point 7 are as follows:

1
gita adhyaana-shilasya
pranayama-paraasya cha
naiva santi he paapani
purva janme kritani cha

If one reads Bhagavad-gita very sincerely and with all seriousness, then by the grace of Krsna, the reactions of his past misdeeds willnot act upon him.

2
mala nirmochanam pumsam
jala snanam dine dine
sakrid gitambhaasi snanam
samsara mala nashanam

One may cleanse himself daily by taking a bath in water, but if one takes a bath even once in the sacred Ganges water of Bhagavad-gita, for him the dirt of material life is altogether vanquished.

3
gita sugita kartavya
kim anyaih shastra vistaraih
ya svyam padama nabhaayasa
mukha padmad vinih srita

Because Bhagavad-gita is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one need not read any other Vedic literature. One need only attentively and regularly hear and read Bhagavad-gita

4
bharat amrita sarvasam
vishnor vaktrad vini sritam
gita gangodakam pitva
punar janma na vidyate

One who drinks the Ganges water attains salvation, so what to speak of one who drinks the nectar of Bhagavad-gita? Gita is the essential nectar of Mahabharata and is spoken by Krsna Himself, the original Visnu.

5
sarvo panishado gavo
dogdha gopala nandanah
partho vatsah sudhir bhokta
dugdham gita amritam mahat

This Gitopanishad is just like a cow and Krsna is a famous cowherd bow, who is milking this cow. Arjuna is just like a calf and learned scholars and pure devotees are to drink the nectarean milk of Bhagavad-gita.

6
ekam sastram devaki-putra-gitam
eko devo devaki-putra eva
eko mantras tasya namani yani
karmapy ekam tasya devasya seva

Let there be one common scripture for the whole world – Bhagavad-Gita. Let there be one God only – Sri Krsna, one prayer only – chanting the Hare Krsna mahamantra, and let there be one work only – His pure devotional service.

By Mahanidhi Swami

Our acharyas advise us that on the path of raganuga-bhakti sadhana one must first read gaura-lila in order to successfully approach and benefit from reading Radha-Krishna’s vraja-lila. If possible, it’s best to read a particular gaura-lila that is analogous to the vraja-lila you intend to read or hear.

For example, first read about Gaura-Gadadhara’s nishanta-lila (3.36-6 a.m.), waking in the flower groves of Srivasa Thakura’s estate before reading Radha-Madhava’s nikunja bhanga lila in Nidhivana during the same time.

This practice is called Gaurachandrika, which means the moonbeams (chandrika) of Lord Gauranga’s most merciful and purifying lilas illuminate the dark forest path within our hearts to show us the way to the brilliantly, blissful keli-nikunjas, wherein Vrindavanachandra forever relishes conjugal intimacies with His dearly beloved Radha.

Before we narrate the beautiful story of Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s appearance, let’s hear the acharyas conclusions regarding the interplay of Gaura and Krishna lila.

Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati said (Sri Chaitanya-chandramrta 88), “As much as you are devoted to the lotus feet Lord Gaura, to that same extent the ocean of nectar at the lotus feet of Sri Radha will automatically arise in your heart” (gaura-padaravinde bhaktim…radha-padambhoja-sudhambu-rasih).”

Sri Narahari dasa an eternal intimate associate of both Gaura and Govinda reveals the essential contribution of Lord Chaitanya to raganuga-bhakti. In one bhajana, “Yadi Gaura Na Hoito”, he said, “If Mahaprabhu had not come to this world, who would have ever understood the glories of Sri Radha’s unlimited prema-rasa? And from whom would one get the power to render ecstatic devotional service that follows in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja?” (radhar mahima, prema-rasa-sima, jagate janato ke, baraja-yuvati, bhaver bhakati, shakati hoito kar)

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja (Cc. 2.25.271) wonderfully describes the sweet connection between gaura and krisna-lila: “Krishna lila is the essence of bliss ambrosia flowing in all directions in hundreds of rivers. Chaitanya lila is an imperishable reservoir of nectar, saturated with the pastimes of Krishna. O swanlike mind, please wander in this transcendental lake” (krishna-lila amrta sara, caitanya-lila sarovara).

In Prarthana, Srila Narottama dasa Thakura says, “If you submerge yourself in the rasa-filled ocean of Gaura prema, you will become a confidential servant of Radha-Madhava” (gaura-prema rasarnave se, tarange yeba dube, se radha-madhava antaranga)

Following the principle of Gaurachandrika, we will first narrate from Chaitanya Caritamrta (2.15.17-31) how Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates celebrated Sri Krishna Jayanti. Then we will recount Madhukantaji’s wonderful narration of Krishna’s exciting birthday extracted from Sri Jiva Goswamipada’s Gopala Champu.

Every year, Gauranga’s bhaktas would relish the four months of Chaturmasya in Jagannatha Puri observing various spiritual festivals in the blissful association of Mahaprabhu. One year they celebrated Krishna Janmastami and Nandotsava, the day after. Everyone including Mahaprabhu dressed up as a cowherd boys (prabhu gopa vesh).

Everyone carried pots of milk and yogurt balanced on rods over their shoulders, and walked to the Janmastami festival grounds chanting euphorically, “Hari, Hari!” Kanai Khuntiya dressed as Nanda Maharaja and Jagannatha Mahiti dressed as Vrajeshvari Yasoda. Mahaprabhu danced jubilantly, and all the bhaktas began to throw milk, yogurt and turmeric (haldi) water on each other to celebrate Sri Krishna’s birthday.

At this time, Advaita Acharya jestfully challenged Gaura Gopala, “I’ll believe You’re a cowherd boy only if You can wheel this lagudi (a stick carried by gopas).”

Mahaprabhu then wheeled His lagudi around and around, and repeatedly tossed it into the sky and caught it when it fell. Gaura Gopala threw the rod over His head, behind His back, in front of Him, and between His legs. Gauranga’s display of expertise in this playful art of the Vraja gopas, brought uproarious laughter to one and all. As His grand finale, Gaurasundara astonished everyone by whirling His lagudi so rapidly in a circle that it appeared like a firebrand (alata-cakra).

Entering the deep mood of Gaura’s sakhya-prema (gopa-bhaava gudha), Nitai-Balarama picked up His lagudi and also whirled it about in amazing ways. In this way, Gauranga-sundara experienced the greatest ecstasy observing the Janmastami festival of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, who is non-different from Himself.

In Gopal Champu, Sri Jiva Goswamipada describes the appearance of Sri Krishna thus: One night when all his family members had assembled in the palace entertainment hall, Nanda Baba asked Madhukanta, a court pandita and reciter, to narrate the lila of Krishna’s birth, Janmastami.

Thus Madhukanta spoke: One day Nanda Baba said to Vrajeshvari (Yasoda), “O devi! I see very attractive child with a dark complexion and long lotus petal eyes playing on your lap. And milk is profusely flowing from your breasts. O my priya-patni! Tell me the truth. Is this a dream or is this jewel-like child within your womb?”

Then some time later, a middle-aged, saffron-clad yogini arrived in Nandagrama accompanied by a slightly chubby brahmana boy. Introducing herself to Nanda Baba she said, “My name is Paurnamasi and this boy is my grandson, Madhumangala. O Baba, I can predict the future, and I see that you will have a most beautiful and sensational son who fill the universe with bliss.”

After a some months had passed, Yasoda Ma had a vision of a celestial child entering the lotus of her heart and a divine maiden (Yogamaya) entering her womb. The presence of the Bhagavan Sri Krishna within her womb made Yasoda Ma radiant like a thousand suns. Understanding she was pregnant, all the elderly gopis of Nanda Vraja brought gifts and auspicious items to offer Yasoda. As it often happens with pregnant mothers, Yasoda Ma had a craving to eat tulasi decorated rice mixed with camphor and lots of ghee and sugar, a favorite of Gopala.

On Wednesday, Bhadra krishna-astami, as the moon rose in the Rohini star during a harsha-yoga, Krishnachandra, the ocean of surprises, appeared to relish the intense motherly love of Yasoda Ma. Baby Krishna’s tender body was more effulgent than a brilliant blue sapphire. The moon of Nandulala’s face conquered the full moon. Gopala’s eyes resembled astonishing lotuses. Krishna’s lovely hands were more splendorous than the newly unfurled leaves of a celestial desire tree. Gopala cried sweetly while slightly moving His splendid hands and feet.

While gazing lovingly at her newborn, Yasoda thought, “Is He an empire of radiant darkness? Is He the topmost object of beauty for the eyes to see?” When the child cried at this time, Yasoda Ma took it to mean, “Yes, Yes Indeed I am all that and much more!”

When the village ladies came to see the baby, they all became overwhelmed with motherly affection. Gathering around Yasoda’s bed, they gazed at Gopala and started chattering excitedly. One lady said, “Ah! I will caress His darling head.” A second lady said, “I want to offer my very self to His heart and reside there forever.” While looking lovingly upon the Lord of Love, each lady expressed her personal desires.

Although Yasoda Ma gazed continually at her baby Gopala, she could not satiate her thirst. Streams of nectar poured from her breasts and tears of trickled from her loving eyes.

Concluding the story of Krishna’s birth, Madhukanta said, “O Nanda Baba! Your son Gopala bestows extraordinary auspiciousness to the people of Vraja, and gives the highest bliss to the people of the universe.”

Though not speaking this openly to the assembly, Madhukanta thought the following after narrating the pastime of Krishna’s appearance: “These Vrajavasis have a unique perfection, for there is nothing but Krishna in their hearts. All their heart’s affection is for Krishna alone. And Krishna will only reveal Himself to a devotee whose heart is full of love for Him. Thus Sri Krishna is always present in the hearts of these Vrajavasis.

Sri Krishna Jayanti ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!