Just After the Chariot Festival

( – Just After the Chariot Festival

Who is a Vaisnava?

The first Chariot Festival has now been completed, and the chariot has returned to Nilacala. On the return journey, Mahaprabhu and all His associates continued to think they were going to Vraja from Kuruksetra, and they performed the same pastimes as on their journey to Gundica. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami explained that they did not think, “Krsna is returning to Dvaraka.” Even at the time of returning, they always maintained the idea, “We are taking Krsna to Vrndavana.”

One day, after the Chariot Festival was over, Nityananda Prabhu sat with Mahaprabhu discussing something confiden¬tially. After that, Mahaprabhu called all His Gaudiya bhaktas and one by one glorified them all to each other. For example He said, “Do you know this devotee? This is Raghava Pandita. Throughout the year, he and his sister Damayanti cook many delicious dry preparations and bring them here to Me. I keep them with Me and eat them, little by little, throughout the next year.”

Then He said, “You know this Vasudeva Datta? He is a very high-class devotee. I cannot repay him. Every day he spends whatever money he receives for Hari, Guru, and Vaisnavas; he does not keep a single paisa for himself. O Sivananda Sena, you should be his accountant and try to keep his accounts. A house¬holder should have some balance to maintain his family; he should not be penniless. Try to keep some of his money aside so that he can maintain his family; otherwise he will spend every¬thing on Me.”

In this way, Mahaprabhu called the devotees one by one. He called Satyaraja Khan, a devotee of Kulina-grama, and said, “Gunaraja Khan, the father of Satyaraja Khan, has written in his book The Glory of Krsna (Sri Krsna-vijaya), ‘Krsna is my prananatha, my beloved. He is the only Lord of my life breath.’ For this reason I have sold myself to his dynasty forever. What to speak of his family, I honor a dog of their village – all the dogs – because they take only prasada and observe Ekadasi. I must honor them. If they come to me, I must pacify and caress them. They are devotees.”

Mahaprabhu blessed Satyaraja Khan and told him, “Every year you should bring a very thick, strong rope from your village. You are extremely wealthy, like a king, so bring it somehow.” Each year Satyaraja Khan would bring new rope, because the rope by which the chariots are pulled breaks every year during the festival.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu glorified many devotees in this meeting, and He also requested Nityananda Prabhu, “O Nityananda, return to Bengal and preach there. Advaita Acarya, you should also go there and preach everywhere. Go to those who are neg¬lected by society. Preach to them and inspire them to chant the holy name. I will be very happy if you do this, and I will also be happy if Nityananda Prabhu does not come here each year. He should spend most of his time preaching there.”

I am explaining this same mission to you. You should all try to preach, distribute books, and help other devotees; and when I come next year, each of you should bring at least ten sweet flowers (people) and help them to become devotees. Nityananda Prabhu tried to do this, and he especially embraced those who were neglected, like the sudras, kayasthas, and suvarna-vaniks. Suvarna-vanik means “gold jewelers.” They are neglected in India because they charge money even when making an orna¬ment for their mothers. They will not give any concession even to their fathers and mothers, and because of their greediness they are hated by society. No brahmana or ksatriya will take even water from their homes, but Nityananda Prabhu mercifully went to them, embraced them, and told them, “Can you chant ‘Hare Krsna’? Please say it just once.” In this way, he preached all over Bengal. I am also going everywhere in a similar mood, and you should also follow these principles.

Satyaraja Khan and the residents of Kulina-grama then approached Mahaprabhu and asked some questions. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 15.102–3) it is stated:


tabe ramananda, ara satyaraja khanna prabhura carane kichu kaila nivedana


After this, Ramananda Vasu and Satyaraja Khan both submitted questions at Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet.


grhastha visayi ami, ki mora sadhane sri-mukhe ajna kara prabhu – nivedi carane


[Satyaraja Khan said:] My dear Lord, I am a householder and a materialistic man, and I do not know the process of advancing in spiritual life. I therefore submit myself unto Your lotus feet and request You to instruct me.”

This question was not for Satyaraja Khan; it was for all house¬holders. Try to hear this instruction of Mahaprabhu and obey it. We have also completed our own Chariot Festival, so Caitanya Mahaprabhu is speaking to all of you:


prabhu kahena, – ‘krsna-seva’, ‘vaisnava-sevana’ ‘nirantara kara krsna-nama-sankirtana’
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 15.104)


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “Continue to chant the holy name of Lord Krsna without cessation. Whenever possible, serve Him and His devotees, the Vaisnavas.”

Yes, this is the main thing – always serving Vaisnavas, and always engaging in Krsna’s service. Sri Satyaraja Khan then asked another question for clarification. He said, “I know how to chant Krsna’s name. What you have explained is clear. One pair of karatalas and two, three, four, five, or more devotees chanting together: ‘Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.’ This is sankirtana.” Kirtana is performed when one chants alone, and sankirtana is performed when many assemble together under the guidance of a self-realized devotee. At that time it will be sankirtana; other¬wise, without such guidance, it is like the barking of dogs. Try to know these truths.

“So it is clear,” Satyaraja and Ramananda Vasu told Mahaprabhu, “and we also know how to serve Krsna by per¬forming arcana from the beginning of the day, from morning to evening: offering arati, bathing the deities, offering them raja¬bhoga at midday, and at three o’clock offering more bhoga, and then again at night, raja-bhoga, kirtana, and arati. This is krsna¬seva. In addition, those who are qualified should remember the pastimes of Krsna throughout the eight divisions of the day and night. This is krsna-seva.

“But what is vaisnava-seva ? How can we recognize a Vaisnava? Please let us know who is a Vaisnava, and what are his common symptoms?” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied in the fol¬lowing verses (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 15.106–8)):


prabhu kahe, yanra mukhe suni eka-bara krsna-nama, sei pujya, srestha sabakara


Whoever chants the holy name of Krsna just once is worshipable and is the topmost human being.


eka krsna-name kare sarva-papa ksaya nava-vidha bhakti purna nama haite haya


Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna, one is relieved from all the reactions of a sinful life. One can complete the nine processes of devotional service simply by chanting the holy name.


diksa-purascarya-vidhi apeksa na kare jihva-sparse a-candale sabare uddhare


One does not have to undergo initiation or execute the activities required before initiation. One simply has to vibrate the holy name with his lips. Thus even a man in the lowest class (candala) can be delivered.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu then quoted a sloka from the Puranas to support this:


akrstih krta-cetasam sumanasam uccatanam camhasam
acandalam amuka-loka-sulabho vasyas ca mukti-sriyah
no diksam na ca sat-kriyam na ca purascaryam manag iksate
mantro ‘yam rasana-sprg eva phalati sri-krsna-namatmakah
Padyavali (29); Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 15.110)


The holy name of Lord Krsna is an attractive feature for many saintly, liberal people. It is the annihilator of all sinful reactions and is so powerful that, except for the dumb who cannot chant, it is readily available to everyone, including the lowest type of man, the candala. The holy name of Krsna controls the opulence of liberation and it is identical with Krsna. Immediate effects are produced when one simply touches the holy name with one’s tongue. Chanting the holy name does not depend on initiation, pious activities, or the purascarya (regulative principles generally observed before initiation). The holy name does not wait for all these activities. It is self-sufficient.


ataeva yanra mukhe eka krsna-nama sei ta’ vaisnava, kariha tanhara sammana
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 15.111)


[Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then finally advised:] One who is chant¬ing the Hare Krsna mantra is understood to be a Vaisnava; there¬fore you should offer all respects to him.

This reply was given in the first year. Sri Satyaraja Khan asked his question again the next year, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied with deep meaning, “You should honor one who chants with some honor for harinama, whether he is initiated or not, if he does not commit any offense and he follows the basic princi¬ples regarding gambling, smoking, meat-eating, and other sins. He should be honored because he can be freed from past offenses and he may become liberated.”

On the third year the question was asked again. This time Mahaprabhu explained something more, and His explanation became complete. Through the Kulina-grama residents He is gradually teaching the general public, saying in effect that if you want to advance, you will have to take initiation. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself took initiation. All these descriptions of the good effects of chanting will not apply to you if you neglect the teachings of Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, and Mahaprabhu by not taking initiation.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s replies in the first and second years were meant to encourage those who do not know that we must accept initiation. Those who want to be pure devotees and have heard hari-katha from such pure devotees must accept initiation, give up all their offenses, become advanced, and realize their relationship with Krsna.

Narahari Sarakara, Mukunda dasa, and Raghu-nandana were Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s intimate associates from the village of Srikhanda, near Navadvipa-dhama. They were also present there in that first year, and Mahaprabhu glorified them, too. He called Mukunda dasa and asked him in front of all the devotees, “Mukunda dasa, are you Raghu-nandana’s father, or is Raghu¬nandana your father?” Mukunda and Vasu Ghosa were both very good kirtaniyas and very near and dear associates of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Raghu-nandana was Mukunda’s son. Still, Mahaprabhu asked Mukunda, “Are you Raghu-nandana’s father, or is Raghu-nandana your father? I have some doubt.” He knew that Raghu-nandana was Mukunda’s son, but He still asked, “Who is the son and who is the father? Tell me your decision.”

Mukunda smiled as he replied, “Raghu-nandana is my father, and I’m his son. A ‘father’ is actually he who gives krsna-bhakti. Our whole family has received krsna-bhakti from Raghu¬nandana, so he is not my son; I am his son.” One may be con¬sidered someone’s father in a worldly sense, but the real father is he who can give krsna-bhakti.

Mahaprabhu became extremely happy and said, “Oh, My doubt has been dispelled. One who awakens krsna-bhakti is the real spiritual master. You are truly a very advanced devotee.”

A devotee may have received diksa (initiation) from someone who is not actually qualified to give krsna-bhakti. For example, the devotee may have followed others who inspired him to take diksa. It may be that he did not know the meaning of diksa when he took initiation, but that upon receiving the good association of a pure devotee afterwards, he came to understand, “I am receiving bhakti from this pure devotee.” Who, then, is his guru? Yanha haite krsna-bhakti sei guru haya. The person from whom one receives pure bhakti is actually guru, and he should be hon¬ored as such. This is called bhagavata-parampara.

The krsna-bhakti referred to by Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the goal of life (prayojana) of all those in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami, the goal He had explained to Rupa Gosvami himself. Madana-mohana establishes our sambandha (relation) with Him, Govinda gives abhidheya (the process to realize that relation¬ship), and Gopinatha is the presiding deity of prayojana. However, Gopinatha Himself is not our prayojana; our prayojana is the love and affection that Radhika has for Gopinatha.

Our prayojana is not the prema that Krsna has for Radhika and others. Krsna is undoubtedly the ocean of rasa, but He is not our prayojana. The topmost prayojana is the gopis’ love for Krsna, and amongst all the gopis, Srimati Radhika’s love and affection, Her adhirudha-mahabhava for Krsna – not for Krsna, but for Gopinatha. This understanding is not for everyone; it is for rare devotees.

The process to achieve this prayojana is stated in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 8.229): “gopi-anugatya vina aisvarya-jnane bhajileha nahi paya vrajendra-nandane – no one can attain realization of this love of Radhika for Gopinatha unless he follows in the footsteps of the gopis.” But this is not achieved by following all the gopis. We can never achieve it by following Yasoda, and we cannot attain it if we follow other gopis. Candravali has mahabhava, but there is something lacking in her. This highest love is only possible by following the special mood of Radhika, and it is achieved if we will practice under guidance (anugatya). However, we cannot serve under the guidance of Radhika, nor can we follow Her dear sakhis Lalita and Viśakha. We can only perform anugatya to Sri Rupa Manjari, Rati Manjari, and sakhis like them.

We must especially follow Rupa Manjari, who is always serv¬ing Srimati Radhika. Rupa Manjari becomes happy when Radhika is happy, and she feels separation when Radhika feels separa¬tion. Sometimes she is so absorbed in the same mood as Radhika that she cannot pacify Her, whereas Lalita and Visakha can do so. This is because Lalita and Visakha are not as absorbed as Rupa Manjari and Rati Manjari. The highest class of love that a jiva can achieve is krsna-prema, namely Radhika’s prema for Gopinatha, attained under the guidance of the manjaris. There is no other process, and there will never be another process; Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself has said this.

Here, Mahaprabhu is speaking about the person who can give krsna-bhakti, and the krsna-bhakti to which He refers is this prayojana. One who gives this is actually guru. If the siksa-guru is giving this whereas the diksa-guru is not, then the siksa-guru is in bhagavata-parampara and he should be given preference. He is more authentic and he should be honored more. Because you are performing regulative bhakti at present, you cannot understand this or follow it fully. Only those who are engaging in spontaneous devotion, raganuga-bhakti, will understand. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura could realize this, and therefore he gave more preference to Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja than to his diksa-guru Vipina-bihari Gosvami. Syamananda Prabhu, Narottama dasa Thakura, and Srinivasa Acarya gave more preference to Srila Jiva Gosvami than to their own diksa ¬gurus. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami gave more preference to Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami than to his diksa-guru, and he writes at the end of every chapter of his Sri Caitanya-caritamrta: “Sri-rupa-raghunatha-pade yara asa caitanya-caritamrta kahe krsnadasa – praying at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, always desiring their mercy, I, Krsnadasa, narrate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, following in their footsteps.” This is bhagavata-parampara, and it is very good if the diksa-guru is also in this bhagavata-parampara. Try to know these very secret truths.

Totally absorbed in glorifying all His devotees, one by one, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then said, “Just hear the glory of Mukunda. By occupation he is an Ayurvedic doctor, a raja-vaidya (royal physician), and he only treats kings and other royalty. He is not available for ordinary people. Externally, he appears to be a royal physician engaged in governmental service, but internally he has deep love for Krsna. Who can understand his love?”

One day the royal physician Mukunda dasa was seated on a high platform with the Muslim King and was telling the King about medical treatment. While the King and Mukunda dasa were conversing, a servant brought a fan made of peacock feath¬ers, which he held above the King’s head to shade him from the sun. When Mukunda dasa saw the fan of peacock feathers, he became absorbed in ecstatic love of Godhead, and fell from the high platform onto the ground. The King was afraid that the royal physician had been killed, so he descended and personally brought him to consciousness. When the King asked Mukunda, “Where are you in pain?” Mukunda replied, “I am not very much in pain.” The King then inquired, “Mukunda, why did you fall down?” Mukunda replied, “My dear King, I have a disease like epilepsy.” The King was extraordinarily intelligent, however, so he could understand the whole affair. In his estimation, Mukunda was a most uncommon, exalted, liberated personality.

Mahaprabhu then glorified the devotion of His associate Raghu-nandana:


raghu-nandana seva kare krsnera mandire dvare puskarini, tara ghatera upare
kadambera eka vrkse phute bara-mase nitya dui phula haya krsna-avatamse
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 15.128–9)


Raghu-nandana is constantly engaged in serving Lord Krsna in the temple. On the bank of a lake beside the entrance of the temple is a kadamba tree, which daily delivers two flowers to be used for Krsna’s service.

It was because of Raghu-nandana’s love and elevated bhakti that the kadamba tree used to give two flowers every day, even in the winter, whether or not it was the season for them to bloom. Mahaprabhu said that his bhakti was so high that the tree was always controlled by his love and gave two flowers to him only because he wished it to do so.

Mahaprabhu then gave three different instructions to three different devotees. He again spoke to Mukunda with sweet words: “Your duty is to earn both material and spiritual wealth. Furthermore, it is Raghu-nandana’s duty to always engage in Lord Krsna’s service. He has no other intention but the service of Lord Krsna.” He then ordered Narahari: “I wish you to remain here with My devotees. In this way the three of you should always execute these three duties for the service of the Lord.”

Raghava Pandita is another intimate associate of Mahaprabhu. He used to collect very sweet coconuts from different places to offer to Krsna. One day he had some coconuts brought from very far away. He had them cut and prepared, and he was going to offer them to the deity. However, as his servant was carrying the basket of coconuts on his head, he put his hands on the ceiling and then touched the coconuts again. Raghava Pandita told his servant, “Take the coconuts out and throw them into the river or anywhere else; they cannot be offered to the deity. The dust from peoples’ feet has risen onto the ceiling, and you touched the ceil¬ing and then touched the basket of coconuts; so the basket and everything in it is impure.”

Just see how strict these Vaisnavas were!

The next year

As mentioned previously, in the second year Mahaprabhu again glorified all the devotees after the Ratha-yatra Festival. You should also try to glorify devotees, and do not criticize them. If you want bhakti, never commit any offense. Try to honor others, even if they are not initiated, as long as they are not offensive and as long as they do not criticize anyone. Otherwise, do pranama to them from very far away – in other words, avoid their association.

One of the Kulina-grama-vasis again asked, “Now we are returning home; so what is our duty? What should we do?”

Listen very carefully and try to understand this. The Lord replied, “You should engage yourself in the service of Krsna’s servants, and always chant Krsna’s holy name. If you do these two things, you will very soon attain shelter at Krsna’s lotus feet.”

The inhabitant of Kulina-grama asked, “Please let me know who is actually a Vaisnava, and what his symptoms are.”

Understanding his mind, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu smiled and explained two principles: vaisnava-seva and nama-sankirtana.


krsna-nama nirantara yanhara vadane sei vaisnava-srestha, bhaja tanhara carane
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 16.72)


A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Lord is to be considered the best Vaisnava, and your duty is to serve his lotus feet.

In the first year Mahaprabhu had given a general answer, but now He is replying more specifically. Actually, to chant means to chant the pure name. Those who are not initiated can never chant the pure name; rather, they always chant with offenses. In this verse, the word srestha, meaning “best,” does not refer to the uttama-adhikari devotee. In this specific connection it refers to those who are initiated and who are madhyama-madhyama-¬adhikari or uttama-madhyama-adhikari; that is, it refers to the intermediate and topmost madhyama-adhikaris. They have given up all varieties of offenses and they always chant and remember Krsna’s holy name in their specific relationship with Him.

The first year, Caitanya Mahaprabhu had told the inhabitants of Kulina-grama that one should give respect to Vaisnavas, and the second year He told His followers to serve them. Bhaja means “to serve.” There are some differences between those Vaisnavas who should be only honored and those who should be served, but those who do not have high-class association cannot under¬stand these differences. On the one hand, they seem very subtle, but on the other hand they are like the difference between the earth and sky.

A nirantara devotee is one who can continuously chant and remember Krsna twenty-four hours a day. The word nirantara means “without any interruption,” and it applies to one who is like Srila Haridasa Thakura, who was a disciple of Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Haridasa Thakura chanted without offense, and he even transformed a prostitute into a suddha-bhakta by his association.

What do you think about the bhajana of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami? Were they always chant¬ing Krsna’s names twenty-four hours a day? They were writing books like Ujjvala-nilamani throughout the day and night, so how could they chant all the time? In fact, sometimes they did not chant for two, three, four, or five days, because they were not in external consciousness. Tears would flow from their eyes and they would begin to faint when they tried to chant. Does this verse apply to Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami? Certainly it does. Theirs was real chanting of Krsna’s names. Their cooking was chanting, and everything else they did was chanting. They were totally absorbed in chanting.

Similarly, Srila Sukadeva Gosvami was the best kirtaniya, even though he was not playing on harmonium or kartalas. His kirtana took the form of always glorifying Krsna and His holy name, remembering Him, and being absorbed in Him. Such devotees are more than nirantara. Haridasa Thakura and many others can be accepted in the category of nirantara, but Rupa Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, and Sukadeva Gosvami are more than this.

The inhabitants of Kulina-grama had asked this question in the previous year. Why are they asking again? This was the same question. First, “Who is a Vaisnava?” and then again, “Who is a Vaisnava?” It is not that the Kulina-grama-vasis were foolish for asking the same question each year. They were exalted Vaisnavas, uttama-adhikaris, and that is why they were asking – for the benefit of all ordinary devotees.

Mahaprabhu first explained about general Vaisnavas, then about the “best” (second-class) Vaisnavas, and after that in the third He told about the first-class Vaisnavas. What he had said in the previous year concerned the second-class devotees, and what He had said in the first year was about the third-class (kanistha) devotees. Third-class, second-class – and now He is speaking about the uttama-maha-bhagavatas, who are all more than liberated.


yanhara darsane mukhe aise krsna-nama tanhare janiha tumi ‘vaisnava-pradhana’
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 16.74)


[Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:] A first-class Vaisnava is he whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Krsna.


krama kari’ kahe prabhu ‘vaisnava’-laksana ‘vaisnava’, ‘vaisnavatara’, ara ‘vaisnavatama’
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 16.75)


In this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught the distinctions between different types of Vaisnavas: the Vaisnava, Vaisnavatara, and Vaisnavatama. Thus He successively explained all the symp¬toms of a Vaisnava to the inhabitants of Kulina-grama.

All devotees are Vaisnavas, but some are third-class, some are second-class, and others are first-class. We are all Vaisnavas, but the degrees of our vaisnavata (qualification as Vaisnava) are not the same. In fact, there may be thousands of degrees. A kanistha-¬adhikari can never discriminate between one degree and another. He has no intelligence to think about the differences. The kanistha-madhyama (lower level madhyama) is also not very qualified, but the madhyama-madhyama (intermediate madhyama) is somewhat more qualified, and the uttama¬-madhyama (topmost madhyama) can behave towards all Vaisnavas according to their quality and stage.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that there are three divisions – Vaisnava, Vaisnavatara, and Vaisnavatama – but there are not only three divisions. Sri Rupa Gosvami explained the many thou¬sands of stages of Vaisnavas, but who will recognize all these different stages? Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said: “ye yena vaisnava ciniya laiya adara koribe yabe – if you know an advanced Vaisnava’s category of qualification and you show him respect according to that category or ability, you can get his mercy and achieve the ultimate goal of life very quickly. Otherwise, it is not possible to achieve your ultimate goal in spiri¬tual life.”

If you cannot recognize what Vaisnava is in what class, you will wrongly judge, “Oh, he is like me,” or “He is a maha-maha¬-bhagavata and everyone else is junior to him. Srila Rupa Gosvami is also junior to my maha-maha-bhagavata.” You are helpless in this regard, so how can you decide? If you have the causeless mercy of Rupa Gosvami and his associates, you can be qualified to recognize Vaisnavas and honor them accordingly; otherwise not. For example, it may be that when you consider the respective qualities of Rupa Gosvami and Haridasa Thakura, you will respect Haridasa Thakura and not Rupa Gosvami. You may think that Rupa Gosvami is just a young boy, a mere neo¬phyte who knows nothing. But Svarupa Damodara will embrace that same Rupa Gosvami to his chest, and Mahaprabhu will affec¬tionately pat him on the back and tell him, “Oh, good boy! Good boy! How did you know My heart?” Try to understand and absorb all these high-class teachings of Mahaprabhu, and don’t criticize any Vaisnava.

In regard to the first-class devotee who is always established in his relationship with Krsna, why does he sometimes want another relationship? For example, Narada is an uttama-maha¬bhagavata in the mood of servitude (dasya-rasa), but he also wants to be a gopi. Such devotees are very “tricky.” They want to taste everything from top to bottom. They are like Krsna. Krsna is also tricky, for He plays with Radhika and He plays with Kubja. Why did He go to Kubja? He is fully satisfied with Radhika, but still He wants to taste everything, from top to bottom.

A kanistha-adhikari cannot know his own level of advance¬ment, nor can he know how to properly respect devotees according to their respective quality of bhakti. He must be in the association of a madhyama-adhikari. One can know who is madhyama-adhikari by association and by hearing hari-katha. The madhyama-adhikari will know some hari-katha, and espe¬cially he will be serving the Vaisnavas more than the deities. He has great respect for Vaisnavas, and that is not possible for a kanistha-adhikari. A kanistha-adhikari cannot give up serving the deity to respect any devotee, whereas a madhyama-adhikari can do so.

A kanistha-adhikari will consider whether or not something has been offered to Krsna, and then he will give it to that pure devotee as Thakuraji’s prasada. The madhyama-adhikari will not see in this way. When he sees an uttama-adhikari taking prasada, the madhyama-adhikari will understand that his offer¬ing was millions of times greater than the kanistha-adhikari’s formal offering, even though the uttama-adhikari may not have offered the bhoga to Krsna outwardly at all. The uttama¬adhikari has offered the bhoga by his eyes and by his heart, and that offering is much more acceptable than a formal offering by a less advanced devotee. Actually, he has offered himself, so there is nothing left to offer. This is very hard for a kanistha-¬adhikari – or even a beginning-level madhyama-adhikari – to understand, because it is a highly elevated stage.

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Sri Lalita-devi and Srimati Radharani

Deena Bandhu Das Guides Fifty Pilgrims Through the Holy Land of Kashmir