The satsang started off with Nama Kirtan by Zivanji and family from Chicago, IL. This was followed by a quick round of introductions, after which Narayanan from Boston gave the discourse.
“It is said that “Shravanam” or hearing to the Lord’s glories is the easiest means removing the sins that we have accrued, and to attain chitta shuddhi which in turn leads us to liberation. Prahlada Swami in Srimad Bhagavatam, for this very reason, states “Shravanam” as the first step to Bhakti.
But as we go ahead reading Bhagavatam, in the first chapter of the 10th canto, we find the following Sloka:
“Nivrutta darshair upageeyamanat bhavaushadaat strotra manobiraamaath |
Ka uttamasloka gunanuvaadath puman virajetha vina pashughnat || “
Having spoken of the different dynasties and lineages in the Ninth canto, Sage Sukacharya very briefly speaks of the “Yadhu” dynasty, the kings of the dynasties and also about Lord Krishna’s life. A worried Parikshit asks the sage, ‘Oh Holy One! You have expounded the all the clans and kingdoms in great detail. You have spoken greatly of my grandfather. But why have you cut short the story of Lord Krishna. I have been all along waiting to listen to His divine exploits. Am I not fortunate enough to listen to them? Have I committed such a grave sin as killing a cove that I am not fortunate enough and entitled to listen to Krishna Katha?”
Cow is considered to be very sacred and is considered to be a form of the Lord himself. Killing of a cow is considered as a grave sin. He asked Sage Sukha “Did I kill a cow (‘pashughnat’) and incur so much sin that I am not able to listen to Krisha Katha?”
It is only due to the merits accrued in the past that we are gifted to listen to Krishna Katha. We see this in our daily life don’t we? How many people try to escape away from a Krishna Katha discourse happening next door, with silly reasons as “I don’t have time”, “I have already heard it” and so on?
Now comparing the two facts, firstly we said, the sins getting destroyed by listening to Krishna Katha and secondly if one has sinned then he cannot listen to the stories of Lord Krishna. Does this not sound like a chicken and egg paradox?
Srimad Bhagavatam provides the solution for this conundrum and this can be found in Bhagavatham itself. Krishna’s life-history is depicted in the tenth canto only. The first nine cantos lead us to wash away our sins so that we can listen to Krishna katha in the tenth canto. The first nine cantos beautifully explain the glories of the devotees of the Lord and that makes us mature enough to listen to the stories of the Lord himself in the tenth canto. Otherwise we may ask silly questions and not enjoy the ‘bhaava’ of the katha.
Once a devotee asked our Guru Maharaj as to why Lord Krishna did Rasa Leela. In reply to this question, he asked him to only see and enjoy all the good deeds that he had done, by killing the demons etc. In fact Rasa Leela starts with the term “Bhagavaan api”. We should come to terms that we are talking about the glories of the Lord.
Talking about Rasa Leela, our Guru Maharaj once mentioned an interesting take away point. The playful games of Krishna and the Gopis are celebrated as Holi, specifically in the North of India. In south India, in villages, it is celebrated as the festival of ‘Kaama’. ‘Kaama’ is cupid or the Lord of love. On the same day, when the Lila of Lord Krishna’s Rasa with the Gopikas is celebrated, also celebrated is the burning away of ‘Manmadha’ (Kaama) by Lord Shiva through His third eye. Both Shiva and Krishna were bereft of lust and they exhibited this in different ways. While Lord Shiva showed that He had conquered lust by destroying Kaama, Lord Krishna did so, by Rasa Lila. How can one say that Lord Krishna is devoid of any lust?? If we take the Krishna Ashtotara (which contains the hundred and eight names of Lord Krishna), there is one name that is unique to Lord Krishna only – “Aanadi Brahmacharinae Namaha” – He is an eternal celibate!
Our Guru Maharaj beautifully explains this fact: A person has no craving for wealth. One way to do this is to embrace the path of sanyasa by renouncing everything in this world and sit in the forest thinking about the Lord, thereby eliminating the need to touch money. The other way is to be in the family and accumulate a lot of wealth but not be greedy by giving away all the wealth as charity. Is it not?
By listening to the stories of Bhaagavatas (devotees of the Lord), we become mature enough to listen to the stories of the Lord. Now who is a Bhagavata? Anyone who chants the name of the Lord (even once in his lifetime) is verily a Bhagavata. A Bhagavatottara is one who incessantly chants the name of the Lord. A Bhagavatottama (the superlative) is one whose very touch and sight makes people chant and dance to the joy of Nama. Today, we will speak of one such Bhagavatottama.
The Lord when he took Rama Avatar showed the ideal path of leading a life. In Krishna Avatar Lord showed His “Parakrama” (power) throughout His lifetime. But the message (about surrender) that he conveyed was very subtle. In order to make the message more blatant , the Lord wanted to take yet another avatar and as He loved the Krishna Avatar, He decided to take the form of Krishna avatar in kali yuga and make the message very clear. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Navadeep on a full moon day in the year 1486. That day happened to be lunar eclipse. No sooner was he born than he started sending out the message for the Kaliyuga which was chanting the Divine Names of the Lord. And how did he accomplish this? By being born on a lunar eclipse day! it is considered very auspicious to do any sadhana on the day of eclipse and the merits accrued would be far more than any other normal day. Navdeep being a place of learned scholars, this fact was a no-brainer. All of them had gathered in the banks of the Ganges to perform Japa and Hari Nama Sankirtan!
Right from his childhood, akin to Lord Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (he was fondly called Nimayi or Gauranga)’s life was filled with pranks and mischiefs.
In Krishna’s leela’s we read a nice episode called “Yagna Patni Uddharana”. The learned scholars didn’t possess any compassion or mercy in their heart and were haughty about their knowledge and once continued to do Yagas without realizing that the hungry Lord Sri Krishna and his friends were in their neighborhood. It is seen how Lord Krishna showers His compassion on their spouses and eventually gets the scholars to His feet. That’s a beautiful episode in Bhagavatham.
Akin to this, in the life-history of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he subdues the ego of so many different pandits and it is seen how he takes them to his feet. There once lived a pandit by name Keshav Suri, who hailed from Kashmir. He was a very learned scholar. In those days there was a practice called Digvijaya, where pandits go to any places to conquer other pandits. They debate with other pandits and enslave the losers. This Keshav Suri Pandit was a very successful ‘Digvijaya pandit’ and he had a battalion of pandits who always followed him. He happened to visit Navadeep and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was taking classes to young disciples. Keshav Suri wanted to debate with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The latter being very humble in nature didn’t want to debate and hence was reluctant. Digvijay Pandit immediately composed hundred verses on the Ganges. The pundit who was very complacent that Mahaprabhu couldn’t have grasped any of the verses, asked him to comment on the 100 verses and speak about their pros and cons. To his surprise, Mahaprabhu recited all the verses one after another in quick succession. He recited all the hundred verses and gave the positive and negative points about the verses and commented as to how they should be written. This really angered the Digvijay Pandit but he agreed that they were genuine mistakes. This pandit who had the blessings of Lordess Saraswati went to her and asked her as to why he failed in front of a small lad. She immediately replied that he was not a small lad and that he was Lord Krishna himself.
There was another Pandit by name, Sarvabhauma in the royal court. He was very haughty about his knowledge and didn’t want to take the path of Bhakti.
Once while Mahaprabhu was with Sarvabhauma Pandit, the latter took a verse from Srimad Bhagavatam (Canto 1, Chapter 7) that goes ‘aatmaraamaascha munaya: nirgrantaat apyurukrame…’), expounded on this verse and gave nine different commentaries. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took the same verse and gave sixty one different commentaries! There was no other way for the pandit but to surrender on to his feet.
We have seen in Krishna leela about the sons of Kubera, Nalakupura and Manigriva. They are inherently good natured but after having consumed a liquor called ‘varuni’ they misbehave in front of Narada in intoxication and become trees in the spell of Narada’s curse, only to be liberated by Lord Krishna during His childhood.
In a very similar case, there are these two sinners, Jagayi and Madayi who are liberated by Mahaprabhu. They are Brahmins but they commit so many atrocities and sins. They were in fact numb to making sins and they only committed sins all the time. It was obviously Mahapranhu who was destined to correct these two people.
Once during a Nagara Sankirtan, when Mahaprabhu was absorbed in the ecstasy of Nama Kirtan, Nityananda Swami (who was always with Mahaprabhu) who was leading from the front, spotted Jagayi and Madayi. On seeing them he requested them to chant the Names of the Lord. Sinners as they were, they started to mock Nithyananda Swami and the stronger of the two, Madayi hit him and Nithyananda Swami started to bleed profusely. Seeing this, Mahaprabhu came to front and when Madayi was about to strike him again, Jagayi stopped him saying that he was on the verge of death and asked him not to hurt the Swami anymore. After having given the first aid to Nityananda Swami, Mahaprabhu immediately embraced Madayi and thanked him for his compassion. This very act of Mahaprabhu made him realize his folly and immediately surrendered himself to Mahaprabhu Eventually, both became his followers. Mahaprbhu liberated them by initiating them in Nama.
He has liberated so many people by mere touch and by singing the maha mantra and he made the wild animals like lions and tigers dance to his tune of the Mahamantra.
In Srimad Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna embraces his very ardent devotee Trivarka (Koobja) who had a hunchback and the moment Lord Krishna touched her, she became a beautiful woman.
Being a Sanyasi, Mahaprabhu went around the country on foot. He even visited South India, all the way to Sri Rangam and Kanyakumari. On such a visit to a place called Sri Kurmam in Andra Pradesh happened this wonderful incident.
Vasudeva lived in that town and was a leprosy patient. He had sores all over his body and worms dwelling in his wounds. He was an outcast from the village for obvious reasons. However he was so kind at heart that he would take the worms that fell from his sores put them back on, for he did not wish to deprive them of their food!
Having heard the news of Mahaprabhu’s arrival, Vasudeva was all excited to have the darshan of the great mahatma. However, the next day Vasudeva missed the darshan of Mahaprabhu and wept bitterly. Seeing the heart of this great devotee from far away, Mahaprabhu ran and came back, merely to give darshan to Vasudeva. The moment he saw Vasudeva, he embraced him and showered all his love. This very act of his turned Vasudeva into a very handsome man and cured him of his leprosy. Vasudeva’s joy knew no bounds and he immediately prostrated to Mahaprabhu. Thanking Mahaprabhu profusely for his compassion, Vasudeva asked as to why he cured him, for his disease kept him grounded and now that he was cured, his ego of being handsome will play havoc. Mahaprabhu in reply told him that it was all Gods’ grace and that his ego will not shoot up if he chanted the Divine Names of the Lord and left.
We could go on with such great incidents from this Mahatmas’ life, but we are time constrained.
Lord Rama had to come down for fourteen thousand years and Lord Krishna took about hundred twenty five years to accomplish their tasks, while Mahaprabhu lived for only forty-eight years and in that span, he spent only a part of it carrying his mission and was very successful and till date Mahamantra kirtan is carried out in different places.
His only literary work was Shikshashtakam, consisting of eight verses talking of the Glories of the Bhagavata, the Lord and the efficacy of His Divine Name.
Our Guru Maharaj in his maha mantra kirtan, sings –
“Chaithanya devaruum Nithyanandharum Bakthi vellam paaiychiya Keerthanam Paadeere!”
The mantra (“Hare Rama..”) with which Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nithyanandji flooded the world with devotion.
Nithyanandji’s jayanthi is on the ninth of March and Mahaprabhu’s jayanthi is on tenth of March and we are all thankful to the Almighty for having given us an opportunity to listen about the Mahatmas during this time.
After the discourse, Sri Vinodji who is traveling from India shared some of his experiences with our Guru Maharaj.
The satsang wrapped up with Namakirtan with prayers for Namadwaar and the economy.