Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma – none of their Avatars/ plays are referred to as ‘Lilas’. Not even Rama’s – its called Ramayana. Only Krishna’s plays are termed as ‘Lilas’ and Bhagavatam aptly puts it as –‘Krishnam aklishta kAriNam’ – Krishna does everything as a play – with so much élan and ease. One such Lila is the Govardhana Lila – as Govinda Pattabhishekam on Dwadasi day during the Brahmotsav.
The number 7 has a great significance – there are seven continents, seven seas, seven lokas, seven rivers, seven mountains, seven notes of music, seven chiranjeevis, seven days in a week. Likewise, when Krishna was 7 years old, he performed this Govardhan Lila for seven days – around the Deepavali timeframe. Krishna stopped the Indra Yaga and an enraged Indra summoned the ‘Samvartaka’ clouds (those that rain during the mighty deluge) – and they pour heavily on Gokulam – as Bhagavatam says ‘hasti hastah’ – each droplet of the rain is akin to the trunk/leg of an elephant. Krishna lifted the Govardhana Hill as if a little schoolboy would lift a mushroom! (chatraakam iva baalaka) effortlessly. He swayed gently and performed a dance – for seven days – and eventually Indra along with Airavata and Kamadenu – surrendered unto the Lord, ego subdued, and crowned Him with the Name – ‘Govinda’. This Divine Name – Govinda itself is a Kamadenu – that can bestow us with anything and everything. Our Guru Maharaj’s Kirtan – “govinda kaamadenu bhajaami’ signifies this.
After a round of introductions Sri Aravindji from Dallas spoke on Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s charitra.
When Krishna wraps up His lilas in Bhu Loka, he soothes the morose Uddhava by asking him to go to Badrikashrama and celebrate Krishna Lilas. Our purpose of life is also ‘Nityotsava’ – with the constant remembrance of Guru’s krupa which will get stronger by the day and every moment of our life will be celebration. If the mind, which is the ‘Kaliya’ serpent – that shows us the colors of the world – sorrows, happiness, pains and pleasures – is given to the feet of the Guru and Krishna, He dances on this Kaliya – and performs a wonderful Lila in our lives.
The very participation or thinking about the Brahmotsav (that happens in Madhurapuri Ashram) – makes our chitta (mind) clean – and in a clean mind can blossom Bhakti and Jnana. When the water is clear, it is an enjoyable sight and we can see the bed of the river; when it is muddy, it is loathsome. When the dirt in our hearts is cleared as we participate in a Utsav, we can aspire for higher ideals in life.
Once when Ramakrishna Paramahamsa saw dark clouds gathering up, he went into a ‘bhava samadhi’ – as they reminded him of Krishna – who is dark hued. That dark Krishna is in our hearts, and He will go undetectable if our heart is also dark. The more cleaner our mind gets, the better we can get Krishna darshan!
‘Viveka’ – the discrimination arises from dispassion, wisdom and Bhakti. Dispassion is the detachment from all our desires which arise from our Vasanas – akin to the detached quality of the movie screen from the scenes it shows. An unripe mango bleeds with juices when its plucked, while a ripe mango effortlessly slides off. Our detachment should be such.
Once a filthy-rich man who lived in Pondicherry was wanted by the French police (in pre-independence era when the French were ruling Pondicherry) and he wouldn’t be able to take his wealth along with him, for he would be caught. Smart man that he was, he approached a Brit who lived in the city and gave all his wealth in return for cash and managed to escape scot-free with the cash which was less burdonsome. Likewise, it is only Dharma that comes along when we depart. This Dharma is the Bhagavata Dharma – the Divine Names we chant – comes along when we cross territories. It is this that removes our desires and slowly ripens us and makes us disconnect from the material world by consent rather than by force.
Jnana – is the wisdom to see things as they are. Every man thinks that his sufferings are the greatest. Sufferings are part of life. A lunatic man is always happy. But if he is cured of his ‘illness’, even small problems seem like mammoth sorrows! Likewise sleep brings one to a temporary cessation of sufferings. The moment he regains consciousness, he is ‘back on track’! But the state of the Jnanis is like that of one sleeping with sufferings even while he is awake. A heavy object loses weight in water; our sufferings can be immersed in the water of Jnana. The moment our tongue chants the Divine Name, the moment we enter a satsang, the moment Guru’s katasha falls on us, we can enjoy the ride! And the more we chant, the lighter our sufferings become. Bhagavan Yogiramsuratkumar would say that chanting the Ram Nam is like carrying an umbrella – if it rains, it would save you; if it does not, no harm!
Bhakti: Sankara in Sivananda Lahari speaks about a wondrous tree – ‘Ankola’ tree – ‘azhinjal tree’. The specialty of the tree is that after the fruit has fallen from the tree, the seeds from the fruit go and attach itself with the trunk of the tree and becomes inseparable. A needle is always attracted towards the magnet. Likewise the mind of the devotee, how much ever he may be pulled unto the world, will go back to the feet of the Lord. That is Bhakti.
Thus dispassion, wisdom and love sprout through mere chanting of the Divine Names.
Bhagavan Yogiramsuratkumar was a school teacher in Uttar Pradesh, but his mind was always attracted towards Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry, Sri Ramana Maharshi in Tiruvannamalai and Sri Papa Ramdas in Kanchangad. He visited the South a few times, and eventually, Papa Ramdas showed him His true form and from then on, Yogiramsuratkumar attained the highest. He would say that mere chanting of the Divine Name bestowed him with everything – a Yogeshwara. That is the power of the Nama.
Of all the Divine Names, there have been many avatars time and again to show the power of one particular Nama – the ‘Hare Rama..’ Mahamantra, showing how much the Lord Himself values this Divine Name.
Our Guru Maharaj sings that Bhakti starts as a Sadhana but that Prema Bhakti itself is Sadhya (the goal).
The Vrajavasis had no other refuge but Krishna. When Indra ordered heavy rains on Gokulam, they surrendered unto Krishna. Krishna looks at them to find if they complain about Krishna (that it was because of Krishna that they are subject to suffering now); no not a word! At least, do their faces depict any such thoughts? No! At least do they harbor any such thought in their minds? None at all! Krishna feels extremely proud of His devotees and as a gratitude for His Bhaktas, He seemed to lift the Govardhan Hill! When Nanda Baba was so proud of his son, and Yashoda Maiyya showered her care on Him, look at the Gopis – they were in tears. They didn’t want Krishna to suffer on account of them. ‘Krishna! After all, if the rain shall harm, it would only harm our body. So be it. But please do not suffer on account of us. Please don’t strain yourself’!
That is Prema Bhakti. And Krishna wanted to see and experience how that Prema Bhakti was. So He incarnated. He came down as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And He showed us the greatness of the Mahamantra.