A Vaisnava Is Always Merciful

( – A Vaisnava Is Always Merciful

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Morning Walk
September 22, 2008: Odessa

[Sripad Nemi Maharaja:] When we were walking yesterday, we were talking about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu experiencing madanakhya-maha-bhava in the Gambhira. We spoke about His body becoming very long, and sometimes becoming like a pumpkin. *[see footnote 1] Caitanya-caritamrta describes that at that time Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw Radha and Krsna going to a cave in Govardhana. So it seems that He sees Sri Radha and Krsna together.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sometimes sees like that, not all the time. He sees that Sri Sri Radha-Krsna are meeting on certain occasions and on other occasions not meeting, in a great variety of pastimes. He is most often in Radha-bhava, sometimes in gopi-bhava, and at times in manjari-bhava. It is difficult to reveal these truths, and therefore Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami discussed them only in brief.

We can say that we have not heard about all of these symptoms in Srimati Radhika. If these are the symptoms of madanakhya-bhava, originally they must be present in Srimati Radhika. They have not been directly described, but in Hamsaduta and other books they have been briefly mentioned…

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] As hints.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Merely speaking about these topics will not suffice in our development of bhakti. It is essential to know and follow the principles of bhakti at its foundational stage. What is the beginning?

[Sripad Nemi Maharaja:] Adau sraddha tatah sadhu-sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya.


adau sraddha tatah sadhu-
sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya
tato ‘nartha-nivrttih syat
tato nistha rucis tatah

athasaktis tato bhavas
tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah
pradurbhave bhavet kramah

[“In the beginning there must be faith. Then one becomes interested in associating with pure devotees. Thereafter one is initiated by the spiritual master and executes the regulative principles under his orders. Thus one is freed from all unwanted habits and becomes firmly fixed in devotional service. Thereafter, one develops taste and attachment. This is the way of sadhana-bhakti, the execution of devotional service according to the regulative principles. Gradually emotions intensify, and finally there is an awakening of love. This is the gradual development of love of Godhead for the devotee interested in Krsna consciousness.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, 1.4.15–16)]

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] What kind of sraddha, (faith)?

[Sripad Nemi Maharaja:] Paramarthika-sraddha (transcendental faith). One endowed with transcendental faith considers, “Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and I have my relationship with Him through my Gurudeva.”

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:]


sraddha’-sabde-visvasa kahe sudrdha niscaya
krsne bhakti kaile sarva-karma krta haya


By rendering transcendental loving service to Sri Krsna, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. This confident, firm faith, favorable to the discharge of devotional service, is called ‘sraddha.’ (CC Madhya 22/62)

What is the meaning?

[Sripad Nemi Maharaja:] This is the firm conviction that, “If I perform bhakti to Krsna, all subsidiary activities are included.”

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] This is the secondary symptom of sraddha, not the first. What is the first?

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] Krsna seva-vasana. Desire to serve Krsna is the internal symptom of sraddha, and the other is external.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Are there any other questions? Syamarani spoke about Ambarisa Maharaja last night?

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] No, there was no time. Three devotees made their presentations: Srauti Maharaja, Tridandi Maharaja, and Padmanabha Maharaja.

[Sripad Giri Maharaja:] Srila Gurudeva, there are two internal reasons and two external reasons for Sriman Mahaprabhu’s appearance…

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] There are two prominent and two secondary reasons. What are the two secondary reasons?

[Sripad Giri Maharaja:] One of the secondary reasons was to distribute raga-marga, the path of raganuga-bhakti. The other was to establish the yuga-dharma (religious process for the age), the chanting of the holy name.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] And what are the internal reasons?

[Sripad Giri Maharaja:] The primary internal reason was to fulfill Krsna’s desires to taste the three moods of Srimati Radhika, and the secondary internal reason was to answer the prayers of Advaita Acarya.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Do you know the naga-patnis, the wives of the serpent Kaliya? They prayed to Krsna in this way:


kasyanubhavo ‘sya na deva vidmahe
yad-vanchaya srir lalanacarat tapo
vihaya kaman su-ciram dhrta-vrata


“O Lord, we do not know how the serpent Kaliya has attained this great opportunity of being touched by the dust of Your lotus feet. For this end, the goddess of fortune performed austerities for centuries, giving up all other desires and taking austere vows.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.16.36)

What is the meaning of this verse?

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] The naga-patnis are the wives of the serpent Kaliya.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] How many wives did he have?

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] Our book did not say.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] There are thousands, but one of them is prominent.

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] When Krsna subdued the serpent Kaliya by dancing on Kaliya’s hoods, Kaliya lost all of his power and was dying. At that time the naga-patnis came and began to pray to Krsna.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Why did they not come to pray earlier? Why did they come only in the end, when Kaliya was vomiting blood?

[Prema-prayojana dasa:] At first Kaliya was fighting against Krsna; he had no saranagati (mood of surrender). Therefore his wives thought, “It is better if our husband dies, because he is not a devotee.” However, when he was trampled by Krsna’s feet on his head, he became somewhat humble. Seeing his humility, his wives thought, “Oh, perhaps he can be a devotee.” Then they prayed to Krsna to be merciful to him.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Why did they pray to Krsna to save and excuse him?

[Sripad Nemi Maharaja:] They saw that he was now becoming a little devoted to Krsna. For this reason they wanted Krsna to be merciful.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Can you speak further?

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] They were thinking, “Maybe from now on he can become a pure Vaisnava,” and they were Vaisnavis. Now they wanted to save him.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Why?

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] The naga-patnis first prayed to Krsna that they preferred to become widows, but now that Kaliya was surrendering they began to think, “We are women, and therefore we do not have so much physical power. If our husband is not with us, another strong serpent may come and destroy our chastity. It is good that he has now become surrendered. If he lives with us, our chastity will be protected and we can do bhajana together.”

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Do you understand?

[Devotees:] Yes.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] The naga-patnis prayed, ‘kasyanubhavo sya na deva vidmahe’. What is the meaning?

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] They did not understand how Kaliya could be so fortunate to have the foot-dust of Krsna on his head; how he could have received such mercy from Krsna that even Laksmi-devi could not obtain by her severe austerities. Although Laksmi-devi was not given this opportunity, this serpent, who was so sinful, somehow became fortunate. They wondered what kind of pious activities he had performed in previous lives to receive this benediction.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Can you say what austerities he performed in his past lives?

[Sripad Damodara Maharaja:] In his last life, Kaliya was a king. There was no rain in his kingdom, so he asked the brahmanas what he required to do. They told him to worship a sadhu who was living underneath a particular tree. That sadhu had leprosy, but they did not tell this to the king. They simply said, “Your sins will be destroyed by this process, and rain will come as well.” He later saw that sadhu, and brought some water to wash his feet.

Seeing that the sadhu had leprosy as he washed that sadhu’s feet, the king thought, “I cannot drink this.” Hesitant to put the water in his mouth, he put it on his head instead. The sadhu then told him, “You are envious like a snake. Although you externally act like a very nice person, your heart contains so much poison. I therefore curse you to become a snake. At the same time, however, because you put my caranamrta on your head, I bless you that the Supreme Lord will dance on your head.”

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] Srila Sanatana Gosvami explained this in his Brhad-vaisnava-tosani commentary.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Do you know more details?

[Sripad Damodara Maharaja:] Kaliya received the mercy of Garuda. Garuda gave him mercy by touching him, by fighting with him, and by indirectly giving him a place in Vrndavana.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] This may be told more clearly. If one takes a Vaisnava as one’s enemy, he will be blessed by the mercy of the enemy. The Vaisnava is kind to all, merciful to all, without any cause.

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] A Vaisnava’s benediction and curse are the same.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Garuda is a topmost Vaisnava.

If you befriend a sense enjoyer, a person who is attached to the opposite sex or one who opposes bhakti, the association of that ‘friend’ will cause you to go to hell. On the other hand, if you engage in inimical dealings with a pure Vaisnava, this will bestow a result similar to that which occurred with Kaliya.

There is another important point in this connection: Kaliya was in Vrndavana (living on an island in the Yamuna) for a very long time – many yugas, or many tens of thousands of years – and he came out of the lake when Krsna jumped in Jamuna’s water. It is stated in sastra that if anyone stays for even one night in Mathura-mandala, meaning Vraja-mandala, he will attain bhakti. Since Kaliya was living there for so many yugas, the effect would surely fructify.

There is something more. How did Kaliya receive such mercy? Laksmi desires that Sri Krsna place His lotus feet upon her head; Brahma and Shankara also want this, but they never attain it. On the other hand, in spite of Putana being inimical and wanting to kill Krsna, Krsna gave her the liberation of a position as His nurse in Goloka; not in her present lifetime but in the next. Kaliya, however, attained Krsna’s mercy in that very lifetime.

I have explained this narration about Kaliya, which is very deep, so that you would know these truths.

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] Srila Sanatana Gosvami explained another point as well: Kaliya left through the waterways, not through the road. Why is that? He had so many wives and children. Serpents naturally look fearsome. If Kaliya and his family would have gone through the road, everyone in the village would have been frightened.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Kaliya and his wives lived within Kaliya-daha, or the lake of Kaliya. However, because they are not able to live in water, there must have been some land upon which they could reside. Therefore, in Kaliya-daha there must have been an island, and on that island there must have been some holes, or tunnels, in which Kaliya and his family used to live.

Because the island of Kaliya was situated in the middle of the lake, when Krsna jumped in the lake, the water rose so high that it entered Kaliya’s hole. Thus greatly angered, Kaliya came out to fight with Krsna, calling out, “Who is He?”

[Sripad Damodara Maharaja:] Gurudeva, why did Krsna kill Putana, Aghasura, and Bakasura in Vrndavana, but He sent Kaliya and all of his wives far away to Fiji? It seems that this was not a very merciful act.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] If Kaliya had remained in Vrndavana in his lake, even if the water had been pure, all the Vrajavasis would have been frightened to go there; no one would have gone there to use the water.

Moreover, Krsna did not send him away as one would send another person into exile. Rather, He placed His footprints on Kaliya’s head and said, “Garuda will not attack and eat you.” Krsna gave him a visa-stamp and passport.

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] You were saying that even if someone becomes the enemy of a Vaisnava, that Vaisnava gives mercy to that person. But in sastra…

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] For example, Narada Rsi is a great Vaisnava, a maha-bhagavata, (topmost devotee), and he cursed Nalakuvera and Manigriva. What happened afterwards? In the end they realized that this was not a curse but a blessing. His so-called curse was actually his causeless mercy.

Similarly, Kaliya understood that he had received the causeless mercy of Krsna and Garuda, and thus he prayed, “Now I realize that Garuda was not my enemy, even though I was inimical to him. I have received the blessings of Your lotus feet on my head only due to his mercy.”

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] In sastra it is stated that it is very, very dangerous to commit an offence to a Vaisnava, especially an offence to a great Vaisnava. In fact, sastra explains that one’s creeper of devotion (bhakti-lata) may be destroyed by such an offence.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Yes, sastra has told this. On the other hand, although Kamsa did nonsense things towards Krsna, in the end he was liberated, as were Putana, Aghasura, and Bakasura.

If one knowingly commits offences to a maha-bhagavata, his bhakti-lata (devotional creeper) will be destroyed. Regarding those who commit offences in ignorance, their offence is less and therefore their reaction will be less. These demons never knew that they were committing offences or what would be the reactions.

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] Kamsa was always absorbed in thinking about Krsna and dreaming about Him.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Ravana was also like that. Ravana was not an offender. He was an associate of the Lord. He came to this world only to fulfil the Lord’s desire.

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] He was always absorbed in Rama.

[Sripad Tridandi Maharaja:] But the Vaisnava has no enemies.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] He has no enemies. Yudhisthira Maharaja used to address Duryodhana (meaning ’evil warrior’) as Suyodhana (meaning ‘pure, well-behaved warrior’).

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] And he addressed Duhsasana as Suhsasana.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Regarding Duryodhana, Yudhisthira never thought, “He is my enemy.” He used to tell others, “We are one hundred and five brothers (the five Pandavas plus the one-hundred Kauravas headed by Duryodhana).” Arjuna never thought like this, however; He wanted to kill Duryodhana and company.

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] Regarding Durvasa Rsi, the only way he could become free from his offence was to go directly to Ambarisa Maharaja and beg forgiveness. So if someone is committing very heavy vaisnava-aparadha, he must approach that Vaisnava.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] Durvasa was pretending to commit offences to Maharaja Ambarisa. He is an incarnation of Siva; Siva cannot commit any offence. Durvasa simply wanted to establish the glories of the devotee, Maharaja Ambarisa, throughout the world.

[Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja:] But still, the principle is that if someone commits vaisnava-aparadha, he will have to go and beg forgiveness, otherwise that person will be ruined.

[Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja:] In my village there was a Vaisnava. If anyone would say, ‘Rama Rama,’ he would take a stick and begin to pursue that person. Why was he doing this? He considered, “If I do this, then everyone will chant ‘Rama Rama’ to tease me, and then I will pursue them. This was only a trick; he was not against Rama.

All of our discussions on these morning walks should come in the form of a book. (To Sripad Padmanabha Maharaja) Have you done anything in this regard? If not, then you are not able to repay me. (To all devotees present) I am telling you all that these morning walks must be published as a book so that in the future everyone will be able to know all these truths. This is my idea.

[Sripad Madhava Maharaja:] Like “Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers.”

[*footnote – For more information on this pastime, please see Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 17.15-28.]

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