Newsletter by Krishna Kshetra Swami, Issue #5 – September 6th, 2019
Extend Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s Compassion
In his prayer Śrī Rādhikā-stava, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī describes the qualities of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. We may say that the crucial point of the song is karuṇāṁ kuru mayi — please, be merciful. But it’s actually an active idea, kuru means to do. Do mercy. Do compassion. So, when we think of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī we think of Her compassion. When we think of Śrī Kṛṣṇa we may think of His opulences which are all very wonderful but we don’t think of them as very approachable. So, the approachability of Lord Kṛṣṇa is very much invested in Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. And that is why She is essential for us who are aspiring to approach Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Prabhupāda expressed this in his poem which he wrote at the time of his arrival to America. Kṛṣṇa taba puṇya habe bhāi — O brother, there is one way you can make yourself fortunate — when Rādhārāṇī becomes pleased (rādhārāṇī sukhī habe). So, then the question becomes — how to please Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī? How to make Rādhārāṇī happy? We understand that She is the embodiment of the Lord’s compassion. And what is that feeling of compassion? In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa speaks about compassion, He speaks about His own compassion, He also feels compassion.Teṣām evānukampārtham (Bg.10.11), the word kampa literally means shaking. Anukampā means shaking after or ongoing shaking and suggests a strong emotion. Lord Kṛṣṇa is saying, “For the purpose of showing compassion to the devotees I destroy the darkness in their hearts which is the result of ignorance. And I illuminate their hearts with the light of knowledge (jñāna-dīpa).” That sense of compassion that Lord Kṛṣṇa speaks of is a feeling to help those who are in ignorance and who are therefore suffering. And that compassion is felt by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī as well. And the effort of devotees to help others to become relieved of their ignorance is pleasing to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
The Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta describes a progression of devotees in terms of receiving the Lord’s mercy. We’ll start with Prahlāda Mahārāja. Prahlāda says, “No, no, I haven’t received any mercy. The one who has really received mercy is Hanumān.” Nārada then goes to Hanumān and Hanumān says, “Who, me? You have the wrong person. It’s the Pāṇḍavas, they received the Lord’s mercy!” So Nārada goes to the Pāṇḍavas and they say the same thing and they point to the Yādavas. They have received the Lord’s mercy. And the Yādavas say, “Well, one who really got the Lord’s mercy is His dear friend Uddhava.” And each of them is giving reasons why this is the case. When Nārada meets Uddhava, he says, “What, are you kidding? Not me, it’s the residents of Vṛndāvana, it’s the gopīs, they received the Lord’s mercy.” And Uddhava should know because he was sent by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself to Vṛndāvana with a message for the gopīs, and there he witnessed the incredibly intense devotion of all the residents of Vraja and in particular of the gopīs. And then we find out that among the gopīs there is one gopī who is not mentioned by her name in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, but a certain gopī is mentioned. She is alluded through a word which sounds similar to Her name, anayārādhito nūnaṁ bhagavān harir īśvaraḥ (SB 10.30.28). The gopīs while looking for Lord Kṛṣṇa (because He has disappeared) came upon some evidence in the form of two sets of footprints. And they understand from this that one gopī has worshipped Kṛṣṇa very nicely (ārādhitaḥ) and that particular gopī is now alone with Lord Kṛṣṇa. And the reason why She is identified as the best of the gopīs is because She has the deepest love for Lord Kṛṣṇa. And that is described as mahābhāva. There is bhāva which means emotion and there is mahābhāva, the great emotion. And if there is one thing we understand about this mahābhāva it’s that it is something we are never going to experience because it’s reserved for Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. But accompanying Her emotion or integral to Her emotion of mahābhāva is Her karuṇā, Her compassion. And therefore, it is said again about the body of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, it is described as a body which melts with karuṇā (karuṇā-vidravad-dehā). So what sort of body is that which would melt with compassion? That may be difficult to imagine but we get help in the form of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is that form of Kṛṣṇa in the mood of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī which is constantly melting with compassion. So, when we are following Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who directs us to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, we are calling to Kṛṣṇa and we are also calling to Rādhā. The Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantrahas sixteen words, eight of them are of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Hare is the vocative form of Hari which means the Supreme Lord, and simultaneously it’s the vocative form of Harā which is referring to Rādhārāṇī. So, we can keep this in mind as we are chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. And like Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī we can beg Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, karuṇāṁ kuru mayi, please bestow Your mercy upon me. But how to do that? If we can extend Her mercy to others. That is our success and that will make Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī happy.
—From a lecture by Kṛṣṇa Kṣetra Swami about Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Rādhāṣṭamī festival, Poland 2017
The Actual Reality
In English we use the verb “to appear” in a double sense: “to appear on the stage, to be actually there,”or “it only seems like, it is only an appearance, an image of something not substantial.” When we say that Lord Kṛṣṇa appears, it is not meant in the sense that He just appears as on the stage, but that once He appears, everything else fades in the background, and we realize that He is the actual reality.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, “Whenever there is degradation of dharma, I come.” We certainly experience degradation of dharma, so Kṛṣṇa, where are You?
The Lord is clear about His purpose. This is different from all of us. We appear in this world, and while growing up, we ask ourselves, “What is my purpose?” Lord Kṛṣṇa doesn’t have this question; He knows His purpose. He appears at a time when things are not going well, when things are confused, when there are troubles in human society. And when dharma is not being practiced, human society is not fulfilling its function, i.e., self-realization.
When we talk about spirit in our times, there is a notion that there must be someone or, more commonly, something that is beyond. In so many efforts of scientific investigation there is an attempt to extend the power of the senses, to extend our perceptions to unknown areas and dimensions of the world: physical, mental, or emotional. In hope of finding an answer as to why we are here, a lot of money is invested in technology in an attempt to find that spirit. Such technology might give us an answer, but it desensitizes us to spiritual reality.
There are so many ways in which the Lord can appear. But here the Lord is appearing. He is actually penetrating through all the layers of all material experience as we know it, so that we can have access to the reality, not the appearance, of the spiritual world.
On this day we celebrate Lord Kṛṣṇa’s appearance with the understanding that He is the actual reality. Kṛṣṇa comes so that we may realize what our purpose is. Our purpose is to be with Kṛṣṇa, to serve Him, and to please Him. We have a bright future.
—From a lecture by Kṛṣṇa Kṣetra Swami on Janmāṣṭamī, New Yoga Pitha, Ljubljana, 2018.
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