You can submit your article, report, announcement, ad etc. by mailing to

Bhakti over ritual

Friday, 14 December 2012 / Published in Articles / 1,741 views

Govardhan Retreat – Day 5

By Madhavananda Das

Correcting the Brahmanas Performing Sacrifice: Callousness towards Krishna due to pride because of one’s position in varnasrama. – “Sri Caitanya Siksamrta” Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

“According to the sastras: bhaktya bhagavatam grahyam na buddhya na ca tikaya. One should understand the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam by hearing them from a real devotee. One cannot understand them simply by erudite scholarship or sharp intelligence.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Madhya 9.102

– I am sorry for our Ritvik friends here – you cannot understand even with the Bhagavatam, without a guru.

[The cowherd boys said:] Obeisances unto you, O wives of the learned brahmanas. Kindly hear our words. We have been sent here by Lord Krsna, who is passing by not far from here.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.23.17

The cowherd boys spoke with respect, they did not say “Hey, you know, we are friends of Krsna”:)

gas carayan sa gopalaih
sa-ramo duram agatah
bubhuksitasya tasyannam
sanugasya pradiyatam
He has come a long way with the cowherd boys and Lord Balarama, tending the cows. Now He is hungry, so some food should be given for Him and His companions.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.23.17

Krsna had told them, “Don’t tell them I am hungry, for they will be disturbed!” So have they disobey Krsna’s order. By the apara-vicara they did disobey, but from the para-vicara they didn’t, according to Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.

The husbands chanted hum, phat, svaha, but they never chanted Krsna’s names. Now the boys immediately following Krsna’s words said Krsna’s name – and an amazing thing happened, the brahma-patnis immediately fainted. So the boys thought what are we going to do now? Especially Madhumangala was upset, how is he going to get any food now?

So they mentioned Krsna’s names.

“That is bhakti-yoga. His dear devotees do the same. They come here, speak krsna-katha, preach the science of Krishna consciousness, and chant, “hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare”, crying for Krishna. Atma-krandana is the crying of the soul. Because the soul is in this miserable place, revolving in the cycle of birth and death, repeatedly suffering from birth, death, old age, and disease, he cries:
ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam visame bhavambudhau
krpaya tava pada-pankaja-
sthita-dhuli-sadrsam vicintaya
My dear Lord, I am your eternal servant, but somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of this material world. Kindly pick me up and fix me as a speck of dust at your lotus feet.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => MRSM 1: He Gave Live

Why do they call them yajna-patnis – they wives of the yajnic brahmanas. But we can offer another explanation: being the wives of those fellows was a great yajna.
Krsna responded. Krsna took a different path that day, avoiding the fruit trees, to show that the yajna-patnis are like the fruit trees. The were locked by their husbands and traditional rituals.

The thought, “We can directly meet Krsna” stole the chariot of their minds and their skin was covered with goosebumps, the senses became numb. The boys became perplexed. “What is this? First they were so eager to hear about Krsna and serving Him, and now they are not moving, speaking, looking… Maybe we should call some astrologer, maybe some evil planet mesmerized them”. Their husbands treated us very rudely, but we are amazed by these tender wives of the brahmanas. After giving the indication they wanted to serve how can their mentality change so abruptly.

The yajna-patnis were attached to Krsna’s names, whereas the husbands were attached to rituals. On hearing Krsna was hungry they started putting all items collected for the yajna on big plates.

Once Srila Prabhupada saw how devotees were preparing small plates for the small Deities and said, “No, Krsna is a 16-year old boy, He needs a big plate”:)

In his Govinda-mangala Duhkhi Syamdas describes what happened next. When their wives started following the boys, what did the brahmanas say? When the brahmanas saw the actions of the ladies they stood in their path and spoke harsh words, “Who gave you this bad intelligence, that you are going to this cowherd boy with all this food? Hey, don’t you know who you are? YOU ARE OUR WIVES! YOU BELONG TO US, YOU MUST FOLLOW YOUR STRI-DHARMA”. They gave them this upadhi, don’t you know that according to Manu-samhita if you go to this cowherd boy Krsna you will lose your religion!
“You came from a good family. What your fathers will say about this?”
The wives did not listen to their husbands and kept on going to see Krsna.

“However, when they were preparing to leave home to go see Him, their husbands, fathers, sons and relatives asked them not to go. But the wives did not comply. When a devotee is called by the attraction of Krsna, he does not care for bodily ties.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => KB 23: Delivering the Wives of the Brahmanas Who Performed Sacrifices

We have had big big gurus but they were not attached to the real dharma, which is to worship Krsna, and these yajna-patnis called out to Krsna and Krsna came.

Sometimes people ask me, “Madhavananda, should I accept XYZ as a guru”. I say, “Why are you asking such a stupid question? Are we going to send a letter to Krsna saying that from today we do not allow this person to be Your representative? It is decided by Krsna”.

catur-vidham bahu-gunam
annam adaya bhajanaih
abhisasruh priyam sarvah
samudram iva nimnagah
Taking along in large vessels the four kinds of foods, full of fine tastes and aromas, all the ladies went forth to meet their beloved, just as rivers flow toward the sea.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.23.19

In Laghu-vaisnava-tosani Jiva Gosvami comments that the boys did not tell what Krsna likes most, so they took all foodstuffs. And this food was very fragrant. Because of good spices? No they had the best spice: devotion and Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

just as rivers flow toward the sea.

– you can’t stop a river from going to ocean.

These ladies kept asking – where is Krsna, where to go.

What was the strength that allowed them to give up their kula-dharma and run to Krsna? Sukadeva Gosvami explains:

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.23.20-21

– by long hearing. Hearing and chanting is much more important than external rituals.

This is why we have come together here. Guhyam akhyati pricchati – we want to share something from the guha, from the heart. We can’t speak about this on the streets of New York…

As a result of that long hearing the ladies went to the Asoka-vana – asoka means “where there is no misery”. Sukadeva Gosvami gives a very beautiful description:

syamam hiranya-paridhim vanamalya-barha-
dhatu-pravala-nata-vesam anavratamse
vinyasta-hastam itarena dhunanam abjam
His complexion was dark blue and His garment golden. Wearing a peacock feather, colored minerals, sprigs of flower buds, and a garland of forest flowers and leaves, He was dressed just like a dramatic dancer. He rested one hand upon the shoulder of a friend and with the other twirled a lotus. Lilies graced His ears, His hair hung down over His cheeks, and His lotuslike face was smiling.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.23.23

The acaryas explain that the dress shows what is in the heart. Because Syama is in the heart of Srimati Radha, She wears a blue sari, and because tapta-kancana-gaurangi – Krsna has Srimati Radharani in His heart and so wears a golden dhoti.

“He rested one hand upon the shoulder of a friend” – Sri Jiva Gosvami says it was Subala.
Sri Visvantha Cakravarti: ”

“In his right hand he twirled a play lotus. By this he was telling them, with their love for him, that he had accepted their lotus hearts in his hand and would give them bliss. Or he was telling them, “Just see, my lotus heart is turning with bliss. You can conclude this by my actions.” He had water lilies over his ears, and curls of hair falling over his cheeks. He had a lotus smile on his face.”

Krsna does not have to use words to say something.

Sri Jiva Gosvami comments on nisidhyamanah that the husbands said, “OK, send somebody with food”. But the wives went themselves.

Through the apertures of their eyes they now forced Him to enter within their hearts, and then they embraced Him within for a long time.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.23.23

A premi-bhakta just open his eyes to welcome Krsna in a darsan.

There are three things: bhakta, Bhagavan and bhakti. And with that bhakti these ladies bound Bhagavan.

Kavikarnapura: ”

The ladies considered, “Is He a dramatic dancer about to enact a won­derful pastime? Is He Cupid personified, or is He the embodiment of conjugal love? Is He the personified bliss of love? Is He the very form of pleasurable pastimes?” All these questions raced through the excited minds of the yajna patnis.

Due to absorption in thoughts of Krsna, they acted boldly, free from doubts and hesitation. Conquered by love, they lost control of their minds while tasting the mellow of their relationship with the Lord. Having taken complete control of their senses, Krsna entered their hearts, came out­side, and again reentered their hearts.

During this experience the yajna patnis thought, “How amazing! Our beloved Syamasundara is standing before us and simultaneously standing ‘n our hearts!” In such a bewildered state the ladies saw Krsna inside their hearts when they closed their eyes, and upon opening their eyes, they saw their beloved before them. Although satisfied to see Krsna within their hearts, they moved closer to Him upon opening their eyes.”

Sukadeva Gosvami says:

yasmin nimagna-manasas tam athaksi-randraih
antah pravesya su-ciram parirabhya tapam
prajnam yathabhimatayo vijahur narendra

O ruler of men, for a long time those brahmana ladies had heard about Krsna, their beloved, and His glories had become the constant ornaments of their ears. Indeed, their minds were always absorbed in Him. Through the apertures of their eyes they now forced Him to enter within their hearts, and then they embraced Him within for a long time. In this way they finally gave up the pain of separation from Him, just as sages give up the anxiety of false ego by embracing their innermost consciousness.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.23.23

This is so instructive for us. Those who are bahir-mukha-janas, externally oriented, bhara-grahi-Vaisnavas, “load-carrying-vaisnavas” – measure everything externally and sometimes devotees may be bound by such Vaisnavas. And we may ask why Krsna make them suffer, wait for so long. In the chapter “Reunion” Krsna explains this to His most confidential devotees, the gopis:

naham tu sakhyo bhajato ‘pi jantun
bhajamy amisam anuvrtti-vrttaye
yathadhano labdha-dhane vinaste
tac-cintayanyan nibhrto na veda
But the reason I do not immediately reciprocate the affection of living beings even when they worship Me, O gopis, is that I want to intensify their loving devotion. They then become like a poor man who has gained some wealth and then lost it, and who thus becomes so anxious about it that he can think of nothing else.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.32.20

Krsna says, this is what I do to My devotees if I really want to give My special favor to them.

yasyaham anugrhnami

Nice mercy? In the next verse Krsna explains:

sa yada vitathodyogo
nirvinnah syad dhanehaya
mat-paraih krta-maitrasya
karisye mad-anugraham
When he becomes frustrated in his attempts to make money and instead befriends My devotees, I bestow My special mercy upon him.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.88.10

The yajna-patnis might have been driven out by their husbands, even killed.

Please don’t mind, but I have even seen that in our society. Someone comes and has a special karma, and gets a good collection and everybody praises him and gives garlands. But after a few years they get married, cannot collect so much, and all of a sudden they have no friends. I have seen myself… who likes me not for money but for Krsna-katha… Then [in external difficulties] we can see who are our real friends.

If someone is in a position of an authority I respect them and accept them in organizational sense. But acceptance of someone as a spiritual authority cannot be forced, it must come from the inner conviction. We are respecting every Vaisnava, of any level. Institutionally we accept and respect, — and it is not merely mundane, we do that for the pleasure of our guru, for Srila Prabhupada. … Caitanya Mahaprabhu sent Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami back – Krsna does not want to disturb the society. But we respect also Krsna’s inspiration in our heart. …


The full recordings (without my {APD} mistakes, omissions, and miscomprehensions:-) will be available at under “Audio”, in a few weeks time.

Please check and for updates. You can subscribe for email updates with the help of entering the RSS or subscribing to or writing to vihe AT

Begging for your kind blessings,
on behalf of your servants at VIHE,
Das Adi Purusha

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.