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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

In this last article, we will describe how Krishna takes everything and gives Himself, and the power of surrendering to Sri Krishna.

Most pious Bharatvasis believe, follow and say, “If you worship Durga or Siva you will get wealth, power and fortune. But if you worship Gopal Krishna…YOU WILL LOSE EVERYTHING! So by all means don’t worship Krishna.”

Perfect love means giving everything to that one in whom you have absolute faith, trust, confidence, dependence and hope. We will only give our heart’s treasure to that one who makes us feel completely blissful, peaceful, protected, wanted and secure without the least bit of doubt, hesitation or holding back.

For devotees, that one is the Absolute One, our beautiful, charming, sweet and playful loving master, Sri Govindadeva. Here’s the dreaded Bhagavat shloka that scares everyone away from Krishna.

yasyaham -anugrhnami,
harishye -tad-dhanam -shanaih,
tato -adhanam -tyajanty -asya,
svajana –duhkha -duhkhitam

Sri Krishna said, “O Yuddhishthira! If I especially favor someone, I gradually take away all one’s money. Then one’s family, relatives and friends reject one because one is poor. Then, one repeatedly suffers one misery after another.”

For materialists this verse is poison. But for devotees this verse is amritam; positive encouragement confirming Krishna’s reciprocation with them in love, anugraha, Krishna’s kindness on them. Devotees may have trouble advancing in bhakti, so Krishna lends a hand, takes away all the undesirables, and pulls the struggling bhakta to His sweet lotus feet. Such is the sweet kindness of a true lover, our eternal, benevolent master Shyamsundar.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada comments: “One suffers when one loses one’s money, and suffers even more when rejected by one’s family and friends. Krishna bhaktas, however, experience both happiness and distress; not as the fruits of their karma (material work), but as incidental effects of their loving reciprocation with their sweet master Sri Krishna.

“Devotional scriptures such as Sri Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu explain how a Vaisnava is relieved of all karmic reactions, including the unmanifest ones (aprarabdha), those about to manifest (kuta), those barely manifesting (bija), and the full manifest present karmas (prarabdha). As a lotus gradually drops its many petals as it dries, all the karmic reactions of a bhakti sadhaka are destroyed one by one.

“Gopala Tapani Upanisad (I.14) says, ‘Krishna bhakti bhajan means concentrating one’s mind on Krishna without selfish material desires in this life or the next. This bhajan destroys all karma.’

“This verse means that by becoming freed from material desires due to Krishna taking away everything, a devotee can fix one’s mind and senses in Krishna’s seva and become free from karma. Therefore, by doing bhajana all karmas are destroyed, even though the devotee is still situated in the material body. This happens due to the inconceivable mercy of Krishna.

“It appears that the happiness and distress devotees experience resembles ordinary karmic reactions (prarabdha). However, they are actually personally given by Krishna Himself. A mature devotee recognizes the superficially good and bad conditions one encounters as signs of the direct guidance of our ever well-wishing Master Sri Krishna.

‘But if Krishna is so compassionate to His devotees, why does Krishna expose them to special suffering?’

“This analogy answers your question: A very affectionate father takes the responsibility of restricting a child’s play and makes them go to school. The father knows that this is a genuine expression of his love for them, even if the children cannot appreciate it.

“Similarly, Sri Krishna is mercifully strict with all His devotees, not just the immature ones struggling to become qualified. Even perfect saints like Prahlada and Dhruva were subjected to great tribulations. But in the end the Sri Krishna gave them profuse enjoyment of wealth and material happiness.

“Thus the conclusion is that only Sri Krishna Himself, being affectionate to His devotees, knows His intentions and no one else. But you may question, ‘What’s the difference between the happiness and distress caused by one’s own karma and that given directly by Krishna?’

“Material happiness and distress, arising from karma, leave a subtle residue, more seeds of material desire (karma-bija) which cause future entanglement. Such enjoyment and suffering tend toward degradation and increase the danger of falling into hellish oblivion.

“However, the happiness and distress arranged by Krishna’s will for His devotee leave no trace after their immediate purpose has been served. Moreover, Krishna’s devotees enjoy this reciprocation with Krishna and will never fall down into hell.

“Yamaraja himself confirms this point (Srimad Bahgavatam 6.3.29); ‘O Yamadutts! Bring me the non-devotees who have never served Krishna, never once bowed to Krishna, never chanted Krishna’s name and qualities, and whose minds have never remembered Krishna’s lotus feet.’

“Thus for Krishna’s devotees there is no danger of going to hell. Because devotees are objects of Krishna affection (anugraha 10.88.8), their suffering is never extreme. How can one consider the suffering arising from karma and that given personally by Krishna to be equal?

“One is like the pain arising from getting beaten by an enemy, and the other is like that caused by one’s mother; one is like poison and the other is like nectar.

‘But wait a minute. Since Krishna can do anything, can’t Krishna accomplish His purposes without giving distress to His devotees?’

“No! Although Krishna is the reservoir of unlimited pastimes, He cannot accomplish His purposes without this. But when Krishna sometimes gives suffering to His beloved devotees, that suffering gives rise to great pleasure, just as a stinging ointment cures a patient’s infected eye.

“The suffering given to devotees by Krishna increases their eagerness to call upon Krishna to appear and come to them. Moreover, if the devotees were complacently happy all the time, Sri Krishna would have no reason to appear in this world.

“And without seeing Sri Krishna in His original, human-like form, how would the devotees on earth be able to enjoy playing in the nectar ocean of the rasa-lila and Krishna’s other wonderful, sweet Vraja lilas?

“In the next verse (Srimad Bahgavatam 10.88.9) Sri Krishna elaborates more the anugraha, or compassionate mercy that He bestows upon His Hari bhaktas. Here Krishna says, ‘After I take away everything from My devotees, they become frustrated in their attempts to make money. Then if they befriend the devotees, I will give them special mercy.’

“This second special mercy (anugraha) from Krishna means Krishna is saying, ‘I will cause an extraordinary shower of sweet bhakti-rasa to rain down on My devotees. It was for this purpose that My first mercy, of taking away everything (10.88.8), bore the fruit of tormenting pain. In other words, I will give mercy by giving My very self to My devotee.’”

Salvation Through Surrender

In part one, we described how fear of maya and the fear of falling down from the path of bhakti are helpful for spiritual advancement. The following commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam verse (10.87.50) shows that simply by surrendering to Shyamsundar one will become free from all fear and achieve liberation.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada: “In this verse, Shukadev Goswami says, ‘By surrendering to Sri Krishna one can escape the embrace of illusion, just as a dreaming person forgets one’s own body. One who wants freedom from the fear of rebirth should constantly meditate upon Bhagavan Sri Hari (nirasta –yonim –abhayam, -dhyayet –ajasram –harim).’

“Shukadeva explains how the jiva can transcend material existence by devotion to Krishna: ‘By surrendering to Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the jiva, who is helplessly bound in the embrace of illusion, lies down paying dandavats again and again to Krishna. By that surrender one becomes totally free from maya.’

“This means that the devotee gives up ignorance by abandoning one’s false identification with the material body. In some cases, Sri Krishna may show special consideration for one He favors, regardless of whether any sadhana has been performed or not.

“Even if a jiva has not practiced solitary bhajana for attaining liberation, still merciful Sri Krishna dispels one’s illusion and liberates one just as He did even for demons like Putana, Agha, Baka and Keshi who never ever did any spiritual practices. This proves Sri Krishna’s unique position as the topmost form of the Personality of Godhead.

“Knowing this, devotees should abandon all their doubts and fears, and just incessantly meditate upon Bhagavan Sri Krishna, whose absolutely charming sweetness steals away the mind of all those who love Him.”

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada ki jai! Krishna sharanagati ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

In parts one and two, we described the conjunction of material and spiritual in Krishna’s pastimes; its relevance in a life of sadhana; and repentance in bhakti bhajan.

Devotion means lovingly serving Krishna for His pleasure. However, at the same time devotees also “enjoy” the basic sense objects. Yet devotees know that there is a thin line between deriving bliss from pure bhakti, and just enjoying without a Krishna connection.

Feeling somewhat helpless and a little fearful about the latter and staying forever in Maya, true devotees will repent their indulgence, and feel sorry about their material attachments and weak determination.

Praying to Krishna, they will cry out, “O Krishna! Because of my selfish enjoying spirit, I will fall into the dark well of material existence. Please help me!”

Now in part three, we will discuss how Bhagavan Sri Krishna personally arranges a devotee’s KARMA and FALLDOWN if it happens, and the astonishing effects of living and doing Krishna bhakti bhajan in Sridham Vrndavana.

Krishna Karma and Falldown

In the Bhagavat, the Shrutis pray, “O Krishna! When one realizes You, one no longer cares about one’s good and bad fortune arising from past pious and sinful acts (uttha-shubha –ashubha –guna –viguna), since it is You alone who control this good and bad fortune.

“Every day, a devotee will just keep hearing and singing about Your glories as received through the guru-parampara (gita –parampara). By doing this, You will personally liberate the devotee and bring one to the transcendental realm (tvam –apavarga –gatih).” (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.87.40)

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada comments: “Here the Shrutis explain how neophyte devotees, even though they may misbehave, will not suffer in this life or the next. Rather, they will attain success. Since a devotee becomes free from all karmic reactions by worshiping Krishna, the apparent good and bad events one experiences are not the result of one’s karma, but rather they are personally arranged by Krishna.

“Or sometimes these apparently auspicious and inauspicious material reactions may appear as the results of offenses against Krishna’s devotees (vaishnava-aparadha). Krishna makes these experiences appear in such a way that the devotee seems to be suffering the reactions of one’s karma.

“However, the devotee ignores the apparent good and bad reactions of the seva one does only for Krishna’s pleasure. In other words, if someone praises a devotee, ‘O, you are so merciful, tolerant and generous’. Or if someone condemns a devotee saying, ‘You are greedy, hypocritical and attached to sense enjoyment’, the devotee is not overly concerned about it. At these times, the humble devotee does not pay much attention to the words of any person, high or low, praising or denouncing one.

“A devotee thinks, ‘If these people mistakenly see good qualities in me and express praise, let them do it. And if others see my real qualities of being attached to sense gratification and criticize me, then this is perfectly appropriate.’

“The Shrutis explain that no matter what happens, a devotee will day after day (anu-aham which means ahani -ahani) just keep hearing and singing about Krishna. Thus by the mighty current of Krishna nama-sankirtana, the devotee will quickly attain Krishna prema, the ultimate goal of liberation (apavarga-gatih)”

Even in Falldown, Krishna Protects

In the Bhagavata (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.2.33), the devatas pray to Sri Krishna, “O Madhava, sometimes Your devotees fall from the path of devotion (bhrashyanti –margat). But You always protect them and help them advance in bhakti.”

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada comments:

“Devotees may sometimes veer from the divine way, but they do not fall like gyanis, yogis and other spiritualists. Even while fallen, devotees will remain firmly attached to Krishna’s lotus feet. Their falldown, as in the case of Bharata and Citraketu, results in increasing their love and attachment to Krishna.

“Devotees remain faithful to Krishna, thinking their fall was arranged by Krishna for their own benefit. Krishna promises in Gita (9.31), ‘My devotee will never perish!’ Remembering Krishna’s promise again and again, devotees gain conviction and conquer over all obstacles on the bhakti marga.”

Unique Fortune of Dhama Devotees

In his tika on (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.87.40), Sri Cakravartipada also highlights the special fortune of devotees living in Vrndavana practicing Krishna bhakti bhajan.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada: “In Gopala-tapani –Upanisad (Uttara v. 47-49), Bhagavan Sri Krishna says, ‘I am worshiped by devotees living in Mathura/Vrndavana (aham –pujaniyo – bhadra –krishna –nivasi). Even if the devotees living in Vraja Mandala do not properly follow the religious principles, still they become devoted to Me just by virtue of living there.

‘Even if Kali has them in his grip, they still get credit for living in Vrndavana. My devotee who lives in Vrndavana is just as dear to Me as Sri Lakshmidevi and My own self (shriya –abhiyukti –aham -bhakto -mama –priyah).’

Bhagavan Sri Krishna’s mercy ki jai! Vraja Dhama ki jai!

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada continues, “This verse from Gopala-tapani Upansad implies that even if one is evil, immoral and sinful but lives in that Mathura.”

In part four, we will discuss Sri Krishna special mercy for His devotees and salvation through surrender.

Krishna krpa ki jai! Vrndavana vasa ki jai! Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

There is an amazing relationship between the destruction of karma in bhakti bhajan, and the first six children of Mother Devaki who were brutally murdered at birth by the asuric King Kamsa.

Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada explains:

“First, I want to ask, ‘how is it possible that before the advent of Balarama and Devakinandan Sri Krishna, that six material children appeared in the divine womb of Bhagavan’s mother Devaki, who is Sri Krishna’s internal spiritual energy, chit -shakti?’

“The answer is that just as unlimited material universes exist within Sri Krishna without affecting or contaminating Him, mat-sthāni -sarva-bhūtāni, na -cāhaṁ -teṣv -avasthitaḥ (Bhagavat Gita 9.4); similarly, six material children could exist within Devaki without contaminating her.

“The conjunction of material and spiritual in Krishna’s pastimes is there to illustrate the methodical nature of bhakti. While devotees perform sadhana -bhakti in the form of hearing and chanting about Krishna, they also enjoy the six material sense objects (form, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought) which is a secondary effect of bhakti.

But at the time of “enjoying” these objects, the devotee cries out pitifully, ‘O Krishna! Because of this enjoyment I will fall into the dark well of material existence. Please help me!’

“When a devotee repents like this and shows fear of material enjoyment, gradually the tendency to enjoy matter subsides. Then pure bhakti in the form of hearing and chanting Krishna’s names, glorifying His transcendental forms, qualities and pastimes, and serving Sri Hari in various ways becomes prominent.

“Finally, Sri Krishna Himself, the ocean of all wonderful, transcendent beautiful forms and qualities, will appear within the devotee just as He did with His devotee Devakimata.

“By nature, bhakti is shuddha-sattva, pure goodness, and thus it can directly manifest Bhagavan Sri Krishna. The Sruti says: bhaktir evainam darshayati, “Devotion makes Krishna give His darshan.”

“As it is said in the lila of Krishna’s advent that Marici (a bygone demon) appeared from the mind, Marici can be considered the incarnation of the mind. And Marici’s six children (who appeared in Devaki’s womb) represent the six objects of the senses: sound, touch, form, taste, smell, and thought.

Since Devaki possesses the power to make Bhagavan Sri Krishna appear, she can be considered the incarnation of bhakti. Kamsa can be considered the incarnation of fear, as it is often said “out of fear of Kamsa.”

Just as fear of the material world removes the six sense objects from the womb of bhakti, so Kamsa destroyed the six children of Devaki. Krishna-prema, which is characterized by intense service to Sri Krishna, necessarily appears in the womb of bhakti after the desire for sense objects is extinguished.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.2.8, Sarartha Darshini tika), Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada ki jai!

Thus concludes part of one of our new series discussing bhakti, karma and falldown in spiritual life. Subsequent posts will answer questions like, “Is repentance part of bhakti?” “Are devotees suffering due to their karma?” “Why do devotees fall down from the all-purifying and blissful path of devotional bhajan?” “Who’s arranging a devotee’s life, one’s self, one’s karma, or is it all Krishna’s personal will and jurisdiction?”

Srimad Bhagavatam Maha Purana ki jai! Gaudiya Vaisnava rasik janas ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe! Jai Jai Sri Shyam! Jai Jai Sri Vrndavana Dhama!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

What is REPENTANCE IN BHAKTI BHAJAN? In part one of this series, Sri Visvanatha Cakravartipada said, “When a devotee repents like this and shows fear of material enjoyment, gradually the tendency to enjoy matter subsides.”

We will now describe something about the concept and practice of repentance, an essential aspect of bhakti bhajan. Repentance means regret, self-condemnation, feeling guilty and sorry, grieving and feelings of disappointment. Repentance is natural for a good, virtuous, basically faultless person like a devotee. It delivers one from all kinds of sins accidentally committed.

When a devotee sincerely regrets one’s accidental falldowns or sins, then by Krishna’s mercy all those sins are destroyed in the fire of repentance. However, repentance can never manifest in those intoxicated by sense enjoyment.

What causes falldown? When a devotee somehow or other neglects one’s devotional intelligence i.e. the inner guide Sri Krishna or Sri Guru, one will become bewildered and perform sinful acts. Upon realizing this, a devotee will automatically feel repentant.

The Sanskrit word for ‘repentance’ is pashchat-tapa, which means “burning after the fact.” And that’s exactly what repentance means, mentally burning and feeling painful heart pangs of guilt, regret, remorse and sorrow. And all of these together along with Krishna’s blessings are what really cleanses the tarnished heart.

Sincerity in bhakti is everything.

In bhakti bhajan, the only means of atonement for sins and falldowns is repentance, a response of mind and heart, and intensifying our physical practices of bhakti i.e. hearing and chanting about Sri Krishna, and serving Sri Hari, Sri Guru and the merciful Vaisnavas. One’s heart will not be purified, however, unless it’s burnt in the fire of repentance which is a type of voluntary pain for a wrongdoing.

The best method of repentance is to establish and cultivate a strong inner will to never, never, never again repeat that evil. The reward for repentance is the destruction of sins, and being accepted once again in the shelter of Krishna’s tender and affectionate heart.

Repentance is the only recourse for regressions. Without it one becomes degraded.

The saying, “No pain, no gain!” also applies in bhakti! Sincere repentance is also another form of pain and suffering, but such suffering is purifying, uplifting and energizing.

Forget the wrong, forgive yourself, pick up your beads, start chanting Hare Krishna again, and continue to serve Krishna once again with redoubled enthusiasm just like the joyous color festival, Holi Utsava, which follows the burning of the demoness of sin, “Holika” the night before. Just take one baby step toward Krishna the beautiful, and Krishna will run ten steps forward and jump in your lap.

Thus concludes part of two of our new series discussing bhakti, karma and falldown in spiritual life. Subsequent posts will answer questions like, “Are devotees suffering due to their karma?” “Why do devotees fall down from the all-purifying and blissful path of devotional bhajan?” “Who’s arranging a devotee’s life, one’s self, one’s karma, or is it all Krishna’s personal will and jurisdiction?”

Srimad Bhagavatam Maha Purana ki jai! Genuine Repentance ki jai!

Gaudiya Vaisnava rasik janas ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe! Jai Jai Sri Shyam! Jai Jai Sri Vrndavana Dhama!