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We must strive to please our Iṣṭadeva

(House of Bhakti) – We must strive to please our Iṣṭadeva

The following is a transcription of a Hindi discourse delivered by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Los Angeles, USA on 19 June 1996

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja (speaking in Hindi): I can speak some hari-kathā in Hindi if you desire, or in English if that is what you want. And if I speak in Hindi, somebody will translate what I’m saying into English. So if you order me, shall I speak in Hindi?

(Switching to English)

Today, I will speak some hari-kathā in Hindi, which will be translated into English. This is because there is a larger Hindi-speaking audience today. And even otherwise, I’m always lecturing in English in the morning classes (Laughter). So you must forgive me for this.

 (Speaking in Hindi)

Firstly, I would like to offer my śraddhā-puṣpāñjali at the Lotus feet of my spiritual master nitya-līlā-praviṣṭa Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and then to my śikṣā-guru Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, who was awarded sannyāsa by my Gurudeva, and who came to America and spread the glories of Kṛṣṇa’s holy name. I have known him since 1946. ISKCON had not yet been established back then. ISKCON was established in the 60s. Back then, Svāmījī was young and energetic and a disciple of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. I presided over the fire sacrifice at Svāmījī’s sannyāsa ceremony and taught him how to wear the upper cloth; I also prepared his sannyāsa staff. When Svāmījī came to preach in America, he left all his books and devotional paraphernalia, such as mṛdaṅgas and karatālas, with me. I neatly and single-handedly packaged all these items and then had them sent to him in America: first, they were sent to Calcutta, and then from there, they reached him in America. [When he came to Mathurā] he did not have even one paisa with him. He was a niṣkiñcana Vaiṣṇava. I gave him my own cādara. We would cook for the Lord together, offer it to Him and partake of it. Svāmījī translated Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in our āśrama. So you should understand that from 1946 to when Svāmījī took sannyāsa, I was engaged directly in his service. Cooking for him, serving him prasādam and attending to his needs – all of these were attended to by me.

Eventually, after Svāmījī took sannyāsa, I sent him all his devotional paraphernalia from India, including the deities he established in America. I have over 200 letters that I received from him over the course of several years. Svāmījī actually wanted me to come with him from India to assist him in his preaching. I told him that, being engaged in the service of my spiritual master, I could not come immediately, but I assured him that I would follow him. He is a mahāpuruṣa and what he desires must surely come to pass. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda instructed Svāmījī to write books in English and preach in Western countries the philosophy of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Svāmījī came to America when he was at the advanced age of 70. Now he has called me to America and I have come not too long after his departure. But my coming to America is surely by the mercy of Svāmījī.

Some misguided people think that the teachings of Svāmījī and my teachings are different. But never fall into this fallacious assumption. He is my śikṣā-guru; he’s in the line of Rūpa Gosvāmī and Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda; he preached the supremacy of bhakti to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa; he wrote devotional literature in our maṭha and most importantly, when he was about to depart this mundane world, he called me to his side and asked me to place him in samādhi. He had so much faith in me and instructed me to perform his samādhi ceremony according to the dictates of Vaiṣṇava tradition. Even though, at that time, Svāmījī had several senior Godbrothers, he did not request any of them to place him in samādhi. In Vṛndāvana, there were senior Vaiṣṇavas such as Vana Mahārāja and others and their disciples in the thousands. But Svāmījī placed his trust in me. Svāmījī said, “If Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja comes, everything will be arranged very nicely. Call him at once.”

When I went to meet Svāmījī in Vṛndāvana, when he caught hold of my hand, there were tears in his eyes. He said, ” Mahārājajī, you are simultaneously my disciple, friend and my Godbrother. So being, you must place me in samādhi.”

I told Svāmījī, “Please don’t worry. I will try to fulfil all of your orders throughout my lifetime.” He told me that consequent to his preaching in the Western countries, he was able to gather a large congregation but was unable to give them a full education. All of these exchanges between me and Svāmījī have been recorded and are available as tapes. Svāmījī asked me to guide his disciples following his departure from our material vision. At that time, I called Tamāla Kṛṣṇa, Brahmānandajī,  Bhavānandajī and all the other leaders and told them not to quarrel over money and disciples following the departure of the spiritual master. Arguments and misunderstandings invariably arise due to the desire to control money and collect disciples; then there is also the desire for pratiṣṭhā. I told these leaders of ISKCON to continue the noble mission of Svāmījī, working effectively as a team and desisting from quarrelling, and if they did so, I assured them of my complete and unconditional support.

Svāmījī disappeared that night and he did not speak to anyone after conversing with me. And then of course, I placed Svāmījī in samādhi according to the customs prescribed for Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas and ever followed his instructions. And I continued to follow the instructions of Svāmījī to date. Svāmījī had asked me to come to America, and thus, I have come. I’m always offering obeisances to Svāmījī wherever he is and praying to him for his mercy. So understand from this that there is no difference between śikṣā-guru and dīkṣā guru, and this has been pervasively dealt with in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta.

My spiritual master gave both Svāmījī and me sannyāsa; he also gave me dīkṣā. So I first offer my puṣpāñjali at the lotus feet of my beloved spiritual masters and inspired by them, will speak hari-kathā today in Hindi.

Devotees: Haribol!

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You might feel that my message is different from that of Svāmījī. The words might be different, but the import and the message are one and the same. I am merely giving old wine in a new bottle. I am endeavouring to convey the message of Svāmījī in my own words. And Svāmījī’s words were inspired by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Today, I’m going to speak something about the pastimes of Lord Rāma pertaining to bhakti in the Hindi language. How shall I attempt to define bhakti? Some people have the corrupted notion that Tulasī dāsajī was a Māyāvādī. Tulasī dāsajī was a topmost devotee and eternally liberated. Now people who don’t understand Tulasī dāsa’ Hindi or Sanskrit quickly misinterpret his literature. Tulasī dāsa had darśana of Lord Rāma by the special arrangement of Lord Hanumān.

citrakuṭa ke ghāṭa para bhai santana ki bhīra
tulsīdāsa candana ghise tilaka deta raghuvīra

[On the riverbank at Citrakūṭa, where a crowd of saints have gathered, Tulasī dāsa makes a paste of sandalwood and anoints the brow of Raghuvīra.]

Thieves went to the place where Tulasī dāsa was writing his Rāmāyaṇa [Rāma-carita-mānasa]. They thought that Tulasī dāsa had something very precious. As they neared his āśrama, they noticed that while Tulasī dāsa was engaged in writing his Rāmāyaṇa, Lord Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa were themselves guarding the entrance. Can this kind of elevated Vaiṣṇava be considered an ordinary person? Tulasī dāsa, in his Rāmāyaṇa, presents the essence of the Vedas, śāstras, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the Upaniṣads. He took upon himself the difficult task of translating from Sanskrit to his native Hindi extremely terse Sanskrit verses. Many people don’t understand his great contribution and translation.

sīya-rāma maya saba jaga jānī,
karau pranāma jori juga pānī

[Whatever I see is in relation to Sīya-Rāma. Everything has been created by Prabhu and is related to Him.]

Rāma-carita-mānasa

Many people misunderstand this verse. By attempting to understand the high topics of the Rāmāyaṇa and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam without the guidance of a guru, one is bound to interpret these texts exactly in opposition to what the intended meaning is. Quoting the above verse, some people may say, “Tulasī dāsa, by saying sīya-rāma maya saba jaga jāni, is giving utterance to his Māyāvāda philosophy. He is saying that everybody is Rāma.”

Tulasī dāsa has taken the meaning of Sīya-Rāma from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There is this famous śloka from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam
brahmeti paramātmeti
bhagavān iti śabdyate

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.11)

[Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān.]

Now going by the logic of those people who consider Tulasī dāsa’s Rāmāyaṇa Māyāvādī work, his source, namely the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam must also appear a product of the Māyāvādī imagination! Try to understand this. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the essence of all Vedic literature.

nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ
śuka-mukhād amṛta-drava-saṁyutam
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayam
muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1.3

[O expert and thoughtful men, relish Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.]

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is a most important work for the bhakti school. Tulasī dāsa has merely put into his native Hindi the essence of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There is no difference in the ultimate meaning conveyed in both. Those who attempt to prove that Tulasī dāsa was a Māyāvādī, are themselves Māyāvādīs; they are devoid of that tattva-jñāna and knowledge of the Sanskrit alphabet. Another example can be given of something that is stated at the end of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in which bhagavad-tattva has been examined in detail.

sarva-vedānta-sāraṁ yad
brahmātmaikatva-lakṣaṇam
vastv advitīyaṁ tan-niṣṭhaṁ
kaivalyaika-prayojanam

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.13.12

[This Bhāgavatam is the essence of all Vedānta philosophy because its subject matter is the Absolute Truth, which, while nondifferent from the spirit soul, is the ultimate reality, one without a second. The goal of this literature is exclusive devotional service unto that Supreme Truth.]

Kaivalyaika-prayojanam … our ultimate aim is kaivalya. Māyāvādīs state that because kaivalya is mentioned in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, mukti or liberation alone is our ultimate objective. There is a mention of liberation several times in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. But Vaiṣṇavas do not want liberation; the Lord is willing to grant his devotees liberation, but they do not desire liberation. Liberation is an abominable thing; devotees want to serve the Lord. So we should understand that kaivalya here refers only to prema. And what is prema? Listen to what Tulasī dāsa has to say:

kāmihi nāri piyāri jimi, lobhihi priya jimi dāma
timi raghunātha niraṁtara, priya lāgahu mohi rāma

Rāma-carita-mānasa

“Just like how a lusty person desires a woman and how a greedy person desires wealth,” Tulasī dāsa says, “He Raghunāthajī, I desire only your lotus feet.”

Now you tell me where this is Māyāvāda philosophy. It can never be Māyāvāda. Caitanya-caritāmṛta, which was translated by Svāmījī, has the following verse:

ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛṇdāvanaṁ
ramyā kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū-vargeṇā yā kalpitā
śrīmad-bhāgavataṁ pramāṇam amalaṁ premā pum-artho mahān
śrī-caitanya-mahāprabhor matam idaṁ tatrādaro naḥ paraḥ

Caitanya-mañjuṣā

[Bhagavān Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa is our only worshipful object. In the same way that He is worshipful, so is His transcendental abode, Śrī Vṛndāvana Dhāma. The mood in which the young brides of Vraja have worshipped Him is the highest perfectional form of love of God. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam alone is the immaculate śabda-pramāṇa (scriptural evidence) and prema is the supreme objective of life. This is the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. We hold this conclusion (siddhānta) in supreme regard and have no inclination or respect for any other conclusion.]

Bhagavān Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His transcendental abode Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma are my worshipable objects. The most excellent method of worshipping Kṛṣṇa is that adopted by the gopīs, the young wives of Vraja. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is evidence of this. It is the flawless and most authoritative scripture, and kṛṣṇa-prema is human life’s fifth and highest achievement — beyond mundane religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and impersonal liberation. This is the opinion of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. We have supreme regard for this conclusion. We have no inclination or respect for any other cheating opinions.

The premamayī-upāsanā of the gopīs is the highest form of worship. You have the vātsalya of Nanda Bābā, the sakhya-bhāva of Subala and the others … But the love of the gopīs is much, much higher. So this kāmamayī and premamayī bhakti is what Tulasī dāsa is referring to. We must not listen to people who try to differentiate the import of Tulasī dāsa’s works and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Engaging in disputing the validity of Tulasī dāsa’s works is an aparādha at the dust of the Lotus feet of a mahā-bhāgavata. We must be very careful in this regard. Then there are others who say that Vallabhācārya was a Māyāvādī. But he was a very close friend of our Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmīs. Vallabhācārya has sung:

adharaṁ madhuraṁ vadanaṁ madhuraṁ
nayanaṁ madhuraṁ hasitaṁ madhuram
hṛdayaṁ madhuraṁ gamanaṁ madhuraṁ
madhurādhi-pater akhilaṁ madhuram

(Śrī Madhurāṣṭakam 1)

His lips are sweet, His face is sweet, His eyes are sweet, His smile is sweet, His heart is sweet, His gait is sweet — everything is sweet about the original Lord of Sweetness.

Can a Māyāvādī ever write such a verse? Tell me.

śyāmasundara śikhaṇḍa-śekhara
smera-hāsa muralī-manohara
rādhikā-rasika māṁ kṛpā-nidhe
sva-priyā-caraṇa-kiṅkarīṁ kuru

(Śrī Rādhā-prārthanā 2)

O Śyāmasundara! O You whose head is adorned with peacock feathers, whose face is graced with a laughing smile, whose muralī flute enchants the mind, and who are most expert in relishing rasa with Śrīmatī Rādhikā. O ocean of mercy, please make me a kiṅkarī (maidservant) at the feet of Your beloved.

Just see how beautiful the writings of Vallabhācārya and his disciples are! Viṭṭhalajī writes śyāmasundara śikhaṇḍa-śekhara — Kṛṣṇa, is playing the flute in His threefold bending form on the kadamba tree and He’s playing the flute very melodiously and is casting sidelong glances at those around Him and stealing the hearts. So Viṭṭhalajī prays, “My dear Śyāmasundara, please make me a kiṅkarī of your beloved Śrīmatī Rādhikā.” Tell me if this seems to you like Māyāvada. People who make these allegations against exalted Vaiṣṇavas can only do so because they have never read their works and have not inquired from a bona fide guru. Many of these people also did not have the opportunity to associate personally with Svāmījī for a significant period of time. You are all followers of sanātana-dharma.

Tell me how appropriate it is for me to be prevented from attending ārati at ISKCON temples. Hindus, Christians, Muslims and even atheists attend ārati in various temples; what offence have I committed, and what have I said against Svāmījī that I’m not able to attend ārati? It is very saddening. ISKCON leadership has clearly restricted me from attending ārati in any of their temples. Svāmījī is my śikṣā-guru; do I not have the right to offer puṣpāñjali at his lotus feet? This is my birthright! I only pray that the Supreme Lord gives them the right intelligence. Have faith that I have never spoken anything against Svāmījī in all my life and neither have I spoken anything against ISKCON. I thought of many of these ISKCON leaders as my own children and gave them spiritual nourishment and just see how they reciprocate with me! Even so, these leaders are like children to me. I cannot even conceive of saying anything against ISKCON. Why will Vaiṣṇavas blaspheme other Vaiṣṇavas?

Today I’m going to speak about Rāma-caritra. Lord Rāmacandra was to be seated on the royal throne for his investiture as Prince Regent. Bharata and his brother Śatrughna had gone to his maternal uncle’s kingdom. Daśaratha did not send his sons, rather, Kaikeyī’s brother (their uncle) came and took them to his kingdom, citing their grandfather’s poor state of health and his desire to meet them. Bharata said he would not travel alone, he would take along his brother Śatrughna. Daśaratha’s subjects told him to have Lord Rāma installed as Prince Regent, saying that Lord Rāma was accomplished in every way. They suggested that Daśaratha take the backseat and have his son Rāma conduct all royal affairs. Daśaratha was most pleased to hear this from his subjects and he summoned Vasiṣṭha Muni and asked him to fix an auspicious day and time for the investiture. Vasiṣṭha Muni said that the very next day was suitable for the ceremony. This news spread throughout the kingdom by nightfall and it also reached the ears of the hunchback Manthara. Manthara went to Kaikeyī and said, “Shame on you for sleeping without a care in the world! Tomorrow Rāma will be installed as Prince Regent.”

Kaikeyī was only too happy and said, “This is very good news! Rāma is my lālā. I adore Rāma more than my own son Bharata. Here, let me personally place my precious necklace around your neck.”

So saying, Kaikeyī placed her necklace around the neck of the hunchback Manthara. But Manthara, in anger, took the necklace and threw it away.

Manthara began, “Madwoman! Have you no sense? Kauśalyā will become the queen mother tomorrow and you will become her maidservant.”

Kaikeyī was quite unaffected by Manthara’s remarks. But Manthara tried in every way to poison Kaikeyī’s mind. And by the influence of Yogamāyā, Kaikeyī’s intelligence became perverted and she asked Daśaratha for two boons.

(Speaking in English)

I suppose you cannot understand what I’m saying, but this is a very interesting pastime.

Devotee (Summarizing in English what Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja has said): Gurudeva was saying that they wanted to install Lord Rāma as Prince Regent…

(Break in audio)

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja (resuming in Hindi): He (Daśaratha Mahārāja) asked Kaikeyī to ask for her boons.

Mahārāja Daśaratha had three hundred and sixty queens, but none of them could give birth to a male heir. One day, he went hunting, and in due course, he arrived in the kingdom of Kekaya. He spent the night there. The King of Kekaya entrusted his beloved daughter Kaikeyī with the responsibility of attending to the needs of Mahārāja Daśaratha. Kaikeyī was a maiden and was extremely beautiful to behold; she was also very refined. She served Mahārāja Daśaratha very nicely, and the next day, when he was about to leave, he asked Kaikeyī’s father (Mahārāja Kaikeya), “You are a very close friend of mine. I would like, if I may, to make a request.”

Kaikeyī’s father was eager to fulfil Mahārāja Daśaratha’s desire. Mahārāja Daśaratha asked for Kaikeyī’s hand in marriage, enumerating her numerous virtues.

Kaikeyī’s father was very happy to hear Daśaratha’s proposal but he declined to fulfil the latter’s desire. Daśaratha inquired about the reason for the Mahārāja’s refusal and was told by the King that Kaikeyī could be given to him in marriage only if her son would inherit the kingdom. Daśaratha was happy to honour the King’s request.

He said, “I have three hundred and sixty queens and none of them has given me a male heir. I shall gladly make Kaikeyī’s son my successor.”

Daśaratha did not know that he would have four sons, one of whom would be Lord Rāma. And so he agreed to the King’s condition.

Only the eldest son can be made Prince Regent and considering the popularity of Lord Rāma in the kingdom and even Kaikeya’s desire, Daśaratha decided to have him consecrated as Prince Regent. But Kaikeyī asked for her two boons, ruining the expected course of events. She asked that Lord Rāma be exiled to the forest for fourteen years and that her son Bharata be installed on the throne. Lord Rāma happily welcomed the news of his exile and gave away all his wealth to the brāhmaṇas. Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa insisted that they must also accompany Rāma. Many other events took place, but I’m summarizing the plot considering the time constraints. Mother Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa could not be dissuaded by Lord Rāma from accompanying him. Kaikeyī, considering that the three of them were going to dwell in the forests for fourteen years, gave them clothes made out of the bark of trees. Vasiṣṭha Muni chastised Kaikeyī saying, “You have asked that Rāma be exiled for fourteen years. Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa are not obliged to dress like mendicants. They must go, even as members of the royal family.”

Mahārāja Daśaratha said that he would send a retinue to accompany the three of them. Mother Sītā was made to wear the coarse garment made out of tree bark and everyone who witnessed this shed tears profusely. Vasiṣṭha Muni’s wife had admonished Kaikeyī in various ways, saying that Kaikeyī’s intelligence had become perverted.

Lakṣmaṇa, in fact, said that if Rāma ordered him, he would slay Kaikeyī, Bharata and all the co-conspirators with one arrow. Lord Rāma forbade him in very strong words from doing so and pacified him. In the meanwhile, the left eye and the left shoulder of Bharata began flickering, and his hair stood on end. There were inauspicious omens everywhere: there were flashes of lightning and peals of thunder to the accompaniment of bloody rain, and donkeys and crows began crying fiercely. He understood that some great calamity was about to befall him. Bharata requested his uncle to let him return to Ayodhyā; surely something very disturbing had happened.

As Bharata entered Ayodhyā, there was no one to welcome him. On previous occasions, his father, even Lord Rāma, and thousands of citizens would advance to welcome him. Strangely, no one was to be seen. Ayodhyā was a ghost town. He assumed that his father must surely be in the royal chambers of Kaikeyī and, therefore, walked in that direction. When he entered Kaikeyī’s inner chamber, he found her dressed like a widow and the parting in her hair devoid of the customary mark of vermillion.

Bharata asked his mother, “Where is father?”

Kaikeyī said, “Your father has shuffled off his mortal coil.” Bharata then asked for Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā. Kaikeyī told him that they left for the woods. Bharata asked her the reason for the occurrence of such unsavoury events.

Kaikeyī told her son that she had acted in the interests of Bharata. She also told her son how the aged King kept calling out Rāma! Rāma! Rāma! And died.

Bharata was aghast to hear the cruel insensitivity of Kaikeyī.

He said, “But for my deep respect for Rāma, I would surely have killed you today. I shall no longer speak with you. Our relationship as mother and son will cease to exist forever at this very moment. Do not call me your son.

jāke priya na rāma-baidehī
tajiye tāhi koṭi bairī sama,
jadyapi parama sanehī

[If someone does not consider Śrī Sītā and Śrī Rāma to be dear to him, then he should be given up as if he were ten million enemies, even if he is most dear to you.]

Having spoken to his mother thus, Bharata left for the forest to try and bring Rāma back to Ayodhyā. The entourage that went to persuade Lord Rāma to return was indeed spectacular: the whole of Ayodhyā, Vasiṣṭha Muni, Janaka Mahārāja, the royal mothers Kauśalyā and Sumitrā accompanied Bharata.

Kaikeyī was shocked. She had orchestrated a sequence of events to enable her son Bharata to rule the kingdom and here he was, going to bring Rāma back with the royal mothers Kauśalyā and Sumitrā! Moreover, he had even disowned her. I am narrating these events as they are recorded in Tulasī dāsa’s Rāmāyaṇa. Do not think that Tulasī dāsa was a Māyāvādī.

Kaikeyī went to Kauśalyā sobbing and said, “My dear sister, please induce Bharata to also let me accompany you. He has disowned me but he will surely not disobey you.”

Kauśalyā instructed Kaikeyī to come along, saying that Bharata would have no objections. And so the entourage finally arrived at Citrakūṭa where Lord Rāma was. The day before they left Ayodhyā, Bharata went to Mother Kauśalyā and said, “Mother, do you consider me your son?”

Kauśalyā said, “Yes, my dear.”

Bharata asked, “Do you promise to fulfil a desire of mine?”

Kauśalyā gladly said, “I do.”

Bharata suggested, “Please instruct Rāma to return to the kingdom and rule as King. I desire to remain his servant and serve him in any way possible. Rāma can never fail to fulfil your desire.”

Kauśalyā said, “How shall I say this to Rāma?”

Bharata said that Kauśalyā surely could ask her son to return to Ayodhyā.

Kauśalyā announced, “No. I will not be able to order Rāma to return to Ayodhyā. Rāma is maryādā-puruṣottama. You have a great love for Rāma. And neither of you will compromise. Therefore, I shall not be able to do your bidding.”

Bharata went to Vasiṣṭha Muni and expressed the same desire, asking his preceptor to order Rāma to return and rule his kingdom.

Vasiṣṭha Muni also refused. He contended, “Rāma’s position is not opposed to the dictates of duty and neither is yours. I’m quite confused myself. Tomorrow, we will have a meeting and arrive at a suitable conclusion to this troubling affair. Mahārāja Janaka will preside over the meeting. He’s a great personality, a royal sage and a brahmā-jñānī. In fact, I consider his position superior to my own although he is in the gṛhastha-āśrama. He will, after due deliberation, give his judgement.”

Bharata went to Sunayanā, the Queen of Mahārāja Janaka and said, “The mother-in-law of Lord Rāma is as good as my own mother-in-law. Your daughter and your son-in-law have been banished from their kingdom. Do something to prevent this injustice from happening. Please ask your husband to deliver his verdict in my favour. This way even your daughter will be able to return to Ayodhyā.”

Queen Sunayanā said, “I will speak suitably to the King. But I’m afraid I can do very little to influence his decision.”

That night the Queen spoke to Mahārāja Janaka and asked him to deliver a verdict palatable to Bharata.

The King said, “There is no question of my saying this or that. I can only speak what Lord Rāma himself speaks through me.

hoi hi soi jo rāma raci rākhā
prabhu raci rākhā

Rāma-carita-mānasa

The next morning saw the coming together of an august assembly. On one side sat all the ṛṣis and on the other, Bharata and his brother Śatrughna. There were thousands of sages in that assembly. Mahārāja Janaka was also present. Mahārāja Janaka asked Bharata to state his desire.

Bharata said, “My only desire is that Rāma should return to the kingdom. He is the eldest son of our deceased father and the kingdom rightfully belongs to him. I will serve him faithfully.”

Mahārāja Janaka then asked Lord Rāma to state his case. The Lord said, “I desire to remain in the forest for fourteen years in deference to my father’s last wish.”

raghukula rīti sadā cali āī prāṇa jāhu baru bacanu nā jāī

Rāma-carita-mānasa

Mahārāja Janaka internally offered his respects to the Lord and entreated him to guide his decision.

Mahārāja Janaka asked, “Do I have the trust of both of you? Are you willing to honour my verdict?”

Rāma and Bharata were both willing to honour the King’s verdict. Mahārāja Janaka declared, “Bharata is the winner. His heart is full of prema. His prema is such that it can drown innumerable mountains. And the dharma of Rāma is also very great. Rāma’s dharma is like the mighty Himālaya mountains. The prema of Bharata can drown that mountain range. But when it comes to maryādā, Rāma will make no compromises. So Bharata is the winner.”

The audience laughed and was ecstatic. Bharata was on cloud nine. So, everyone was very eager for Rāma to return to Ayodhyā.

Mahārāja Janaka said, “Undoubtedly, Bharata has won. But let us just ask Rāma himself what prema is. Bharata, don’t merely try to serve Rāma according to what you think is right. First, ask him his desire and then seek to fulfil it. Serving Rāma according to your own conceptions is not prema; it is selfishness. You fear your reputation. Ask Rāma what his wish is and try to fulfil it. That is prema.”

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ
jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-
śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā

(Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.1)

[‘When first-class devotional service develops, one must be devoid of all material desires, knowledge obtained by monistic philosophy, and fruitive action. The devotee must constantly serve Kṛṣṇa favourably, as Kṛṣṇa desires.’]

Perpetual, ardent endeavour meant exclusively for Śrī Kṛṣṇa and performed out of genuine kindness to Him, when neither prone to any selfish, ulterior desires nor eclipsed by impersonal knowledge, fruitive work, or any other occupation, is known as uttama-bhakti.

We must not have any separate desires. We must strive to please our iṣṭadeva (worshipable deity).

Source: Bhakta Bandhav Anthology Volume 6, Discourses delivered by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja

Transcribed and edited by the Bhakta Bandhav Team (Bhakta.org)

Image(s) made possible by Pixabay.com, Krishnapath.org and/or Bhaktiart.net
Unless indicated differently, all verse translations and quotes are from the books by Śrīla Prabhupāda (Vedabase.com)

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