XLV: LAND OF MY HEART

Diary entry dated 10th November 2019:

This morning’s class at the Manor covered a series of verses from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. In one of those verses, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, “Where is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose form is curved in three places? Where is the sweet song of His flute, and where is the bank of the Yamunā? Where is the rāsa dance? Where is that dancing, singing and laughing? Where is My Lord, Madana-mohana, the enchanter of Cupid?” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 2.56)

Here, Caitanya Mahāprabhu is lamenting due to feelings of intense separation from Kṛṣṇa and the land of Vṛndāvana. It is mentioned elsewhere that He sometimes mistook the Ganges for the river Yamunā or mistook sand dunes for Govardhana Hill, and as a result became completely absorbed in devotional ecstasy.

On Sundays, a lot of guests come to the Manor, so the usual car park fills up quickly and the majority of cars are parked on the field nearest to the temple. Devotees are required to manage the field to make sure space is used optimally. Whilst doing that service earlier today, I saw a small stretch of water at the edge of the road and was reminded of the river Yamunā. For a fleeting moment, something stirred deep in my heart; as tears threatened to fall from my eyes, I thought to myself, where is He who wanders in the forests along the banks of the Yamunā?

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X: ALWAYS DEPEND ON HIM

Since there is nothing that is beyond His power, there’s no one better to depend on than Kṛṣṇa. When the cowherd boys of Vṛndāvana came across the demon Aghāsura, who had taken on the form of a giant python and whose open mouth resembled a vast cave that stretched up into the clouds, they were unafraid to enter the demon’s mouth. In fact, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.12.24 mentions that the cowherd boys laughed loudly and clapped their hands as they entered Aghāsura’s mouth. They had full faith that Kṛṣṇa would protect them, and thus they felt no fear.

When we are completely dependent on Kṛṣṇa, we become fearless and are willing to take on any risk in order to share Kṛṣṇa consciousness with others. On our own, we cannot achieve much, but if we allow Kṛṣṇa to use us as His instrument, we will be able to achieve incredible things. Śrīla Prabhupāda is the perfect example of this; because he was fully surrendered to Kṛṣṇa and desired only to serve Him, Prabhupāda achieved far more than any ordinary person could ever dream of achieving.

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IX: TULASĪ’S MERCY

“Vṛṣabhānu’s daughter, Rādhā, made you guardian of Kṛṣṇa’s opulent and auspicious abode of Vṛndāvana, the crest jewel of all Vaikuṇṭha planets. O Vṛnda, I bow to your lotus feet.”

— Śrī Vṛndadevyāṣṭakaṁ, Verse 3,
By Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura

During Kartik, the focus is very much on the childhood pastimes that Kṛṣṇa performed in Gokula and Vṛndāvana. It is a time when devotees try to cultivate the mood of Vṛndāvana — a mood of sweetness — within their hearts.

Śrīla Prabhupāda once said, “Wherever there is Tulasī, it is Vṛndāvana.” This reveals a relatively simple way to create the atmosphere of Vṛndāvana: worshipping and caring for Tulasī-devī. The tulasī plant is an expansion of Vṛnda-devī, who is the guardian of Vṛndāvana; no one can set foot in that holiest of holy places without her permission.

This can practically be seen at the Manor — before arriving at the temple (which is non-different to Vṛndāvana, being the residence of Śrī Śrī Rādhā Gokulānanda), visitors must drive past the tulasī greenhouse, which is presided over by a Deity of Vṛnda-devī. So if you manage to reach the temple building, you should understand that she, out of her great mercy, has given you permission to do so.

From personal experience, I have found that Vṛnda-devī is one of the most merciful and compassionate personalities at the Manor. Since she is an expansion of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, I consider her to be my mother, and just like a mother, she always gives me comfort when I’m going through struggles in my spiritual life.

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Prayer XIV

My dear Rādhārāṇī, You are like a life-giving cloud, for You are always pouring the rains of Your mercy upon Your children. And during Kartik, those rains become a monsoon which lasts for an entire month.

O Mother, may all souls who turn to Kṛṣṇa during this month become drenched by the monsoon rains of Your mercy. And as they offer lamps to Your beloved, please ignite the lamp of devotion within their hearts.

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Prayer XVIII

My dear Lord Nityānanda, Your lotus feet became the shelter for Jagāi and Mādhāi, two of the greatest sinners, and by Your mercy they became great devotees of the Supreme Lord.

I have been absorbed in sinful activities for countless lifetimes, so I take shelter of those same lotus feet. O Nitāi, please take pity upon me! Only a drop of Your mercy can bring peace to my tormented heart!

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VIII: KṚṢṆA NEVER FORGETS

“And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.”

— Bhagavad-gītā 8.5

In this verse, Kṛṣṇa explains that if one remembers Him at the time of death, they are immediately transferred to His transcendental abode. However, if His devotee is somehow unable to remember Him at that crucial moment, Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He personally intervenes.

In the Varāha Purāṇa, the Lord says, “If My devotee is not able to remember Me at the time of death because of the great disturbances felt within the body at that time, then I shall remember My devotee and take him back to the spiritual world.”

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VII: THE PAIN OF REGRET

“O Lord Hari, I have spent my life uselessly. Although I have obtained a human birth, I have not worshipped Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, and thus I have knowingly drunk poison.”

— Iṣṭa-Deve Vijñapti, Verse 1,
By Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura

Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura is a pure devotee of the Lord, and whilst he was on this planet he spent his entire life engaged in service to the Divine Couple. However, due to his profound humility, he genuinely felt that he had not worshipped Them at all and had therefore wasted his life.

I have been living at Bhaktivedanta Manor for two years now, and those years have flown by, dragged away by the fierce currents of time. Already, the sun of complacency has arisen in my heart and caused some of my initial enthusiasm to evaporate.

Śrīla Prabhupāda has given me the precious gift of devotional service, but I am letting that gift slip through my fingers. This is because my desire for sense gratification is currently greater than my desire for Kṛṣṇa. Prabhupāda has shown me the stars, yet I continue to crawl in the mud, revelling in illusory pleasure. I therefore pray to him as follows:

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