The Pastimes of Srila Madhvacharya
I am very grateful to be with all of you, thank you for being here. Bhakti Vinod Thakur has written that the difficulties endured in his service to the Lord, for the pleasure of the Lord, is his greatest happiness.
“Material life is when we put the flickering pleasures and securities of the mind and the senses in the center of our lives, our decisions, our aspirations, our goals are according. Spiritual life or true bhakti is when we put the pleasures of God or Krishna in the center of our life— what pleases Krishna, all of our decisions, our aspirations are orchestrated accordingly.” –Radhanath Swami
“Of course we have bodies, we have minds, and they are gifts of Krishna, so for Krishna’s pleasure, we should keep our gifts as far as possible in good conditions, but for the purpose of being instruments of service.” –Radhanath Swami
Here in Udupi, Sripad Madhavacharya, he taught the path of bhakti in a way that is revolutionary at that time. Because even people who were sincere were so much affected by impersonalistic philosophical arguments. They were so all-pervading that the general population and even the scholars were very confused. He taught that the jiva, the individual soul, is an eternal servant of the paramatma, the supreme soul. And the constitutional nature of the atma is seva or service— to serve with love. That the absolute truth, Narayan, Krishna, his body is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss.
Radhanath Swami on Love for Krishna
In Srimad Bhagvatam, in one particular verse, it explains so many mysteries that people fight about, argue about and confused about in regard to the nature of God.
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam´ yaj jñanam advayam
bhagavan iti sabdyate
That learned transcendentalists, they understand that there is one absolute truth and that one absolute truth eternally has three features: brahman, paramatama and bhagvan. The all-pervading energy, brahman, which is like a light, that is everywhere within and outside of everything that exists both in material and spiritual worlds. Paramatma, the Lord that personally, out of love for all of his children, appears in the heart of every living being. And Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate object of everyone’s love, who is supremely lovable, who performs pastimes forever in the spiritual world and those pastimes inconceivably include every living being. Just like in this little yatra of ours, I was told that there is about 4,500 people gathered together in this little tent and when we want to go to holy places we have to divide up in so many groups because so many buses and so many crowds and so much traffic and when you want darshan, you have to stand in line, sometimes for prasad you have to stand in line, so some inconveniences. In the spiritual world, Krishna, the Supreme lover, nobody has to stand in line, there are limitless devotees, literally countless devotees, four thousand five hundreds, ten thousand, hundred thousand, million thousands, million million, billion billion, billion quadrillions, nothing, that is just a drop. Limitless devotees in the spiritual world, in so many forms and each one is unique.
We are all one, in the sense we are all of the same substance, we are all part of Krishna.
mamaivamsho jiva loke jiva bhuta sanatana
“Eternally we are a part of Krishna. We are sat-chit-ananda, eternal, full of knowledge, full of bliss. Krishna is the reservoir of all love and, being qualitatively part of Krishna, our eternal natural substance is to love, to serve. Quantitatively, Kirshna is the complete whole and we are the parts. Krishna is the Supreme master and we are the eternal servants.
Now in the material world being a servant is considered a lesser position. Vrindavan das Thakur, he gives us a beautiful insight into this idea. He explains how, higher than being a president, prime minister, king, higher than attaining all the eight mystic siddhis of the yogis that takes hundreds, sometimes thousands of births to achieve, higher than elevation to the heavenly worlds where there is such a long life of health and beauty and the most inconceivable ways to enjoy, higher than even liberation is to actually receive the title, das, servant of the Lord, because none of those other positions could actually satisfy the heart, the soul because they are unnatural. They are actually foreign to our nature because the nature of the soul ananda mayo bhyasat, is seeking eternal happiness and all of these things have beginning and an end and all are limited. But in the true sense, service is an expression of love. It is the highest thing we could receive. And therefore we find in Srimad Bhagvatam, Ramayan, Mahabharat, Chaitanya Charitamrita and in the lives of so many historical saints, it’s the only thing they pray for, is to serve with love.
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isha kamaye
mama janmani janmanishvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki twayi
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu offered this prayer, and in doing so, set the standard of what we should be praying for, striving for in our life. “My Lord you can bestow upon me anything. I don’t want wealth, power, fame of being a great scholar, I don’t want followers, I don’t want the optimum sensual pleasures, not even liberation. I only want to serve you birth after birth after birth— unconditionally.”
silana? bhaktir uttama
Lord Chaitanya, he personally wrote these eight Sikshatakam verses and he spoke so many deep instructions to his followers. He especially requested Rupa Goswami and Santan Goswami to extract the very essence of all the knowledge of all the vedas, pure devotional service to Sri Sri Radha Krishna in Vrindavan, and write books. And the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu describes, in great detail, what is the ultimate goal and how to achieve it. And he begins with this verse, that true devotion bhakti, real love, is untainted by any desires for material acquisition, even mystic powers or liberation.
its object is simply for the pleasure of Krishna. Srimad Bhagvatam explains it in such a simple way, that when you water the root of the tree, that water naturally extends to nourish every part of the tree.
The absolute truth, who has many names, whose all attractive form is Krishna, is the root of all existence, from whom everything and everyone emanates.
“When we offer our love, our service to Krishna, it naturally extends everywhere. Universal love, in this sense, is natural for the soul. When we love Krishna we see everything in relation to Krishna and actually our love for Krishna extends accordingly.” –Radhanath Swami
A few days ago, in Kishkinta Kshetra, we celebrated Govardhan Puja where the Brajvasis, according to their tradition, they were following practices that was very much recommended in authorized scriptures to honor Indra, the Deva who supplies water. Because when we receive, we should understand that we are depending on a higher power, we should be grateful and we should reciprocate. But when you water the root of the tree, when you satisfy Krishna, every single demigod is fully satisfied, because they are all like flowers and fruits of the tree of Krishna. And our mothers and our fathers and our grandparents and great grandparents, all of our forefathers and ancestors and everyone, we offer the highest love to all of them, and to every living being, because whatever they have and whoever they are, they are always parts of Krishna. And to love Krishna is not something theoretical, its something practical.
“In the spiritual world, all the limitless living beings, who are in their pure spiritual forms, they are all feeling Krishna’s personal intimate presence. Time is conspicuous by its absence in the spiritual world, but for our calculation, 24 hours a day for all of eternity, in other words, at all times.” –Radhanath Swami
No one has to stand in a line to meet Krishna. When Krishna was sitting on the banks of Yamuna with cowherd boys, there were limitless cowherd boys, and each and every one of them was thinking that Krishna is only looking at me. Not just for a moment, the whole afternoon they were thinking like that. And they were all right, because Krishna was looking at all of them. Now how is that possible? He only had one head and he only had two eyes, but this is his achintya swarupa, inconceivable form. With his two eyes, he can see all living beings everywhere in all spiritual and material worlds.
When our eyes are decorated with love, then we can see Krishna, and we know that Krishna is always with us.
Radhanath Swami Addresses the Mayavadi Misconception
So Madhavacharya, here in Udupi, he wanted to establish this principle, that we have a personal relationship with Krishna and love is forever but the predominating philosophy is whatever yoga you may perform, ultimately it is meant to bring you to overcome the false ego and when there is no more false ego, you realize everything of this world is illusion and you become God, aham brahma asmi. The actual teaching of aham brhamasmi means I am part of God. I am of the same substance of God, and I could be godly if I make that connection. But to become God, Srila Prabhupad would say, “How do you become God? God is always God.” Well, I have always been God, but I just forgot. Param brahma, param dhama, Arjuna when he sees Krishna, he says, you are the supreme brahman, you are the supreme abode.
mayaa adhyakshena prakritih
suuyate sa charaacharam
I am the controller of the material existence.
tum he sarvesvara
I am the controller of all controllers. God doesn’t forget. God is never under the influence of maya and sometimes in Krishna’s pastimes, when it appears that he forgets, sometimes, it appears he forgets that he is God, when mother Yasoda picks up stick and says “Krishna, why did you steal this butter?” and Krishna is crying and he is saying, “No, no I didn’t steal it.” She said, “I saw you stealing it.” “Ok I stole it but please put down your stick!” Is he pretending? He is overcome with her love so much that in order to increase her love as a mother and his love, the intimacy, he is stepping aside his role as the Supreme to actually be the child of Yasoda. But that’s ecstatic, that’s ananda rasa, that’s the highest ecstasy, beyond liberation, beyond Vaikuntha! But the forgetfulness we have in this world, it’s not under our control, its not defined by love, it’s the cause of suffering, and it induces us to do so many things that are regrettable. So the Absolute Truth never comes under such a spell. It’s not a lila, being in maya is not a lila. Krishna is in lila and Krishna is inviting us into a lila, and material creation is part of Krishna’s lila, and we are in it, but we don’t realize it, we have forgotten it. So we never can forget, Srila Prabhupad explained it in such a simple way. He said “The jiva is the tatashta sakti, it always has the choice between material and spiritual energy. We are always subordinate to the beauty, the grace and the love of God. And if we reciprocate with God’s love in a positive way, we come under the control of yoga maya or the daivi sakti, the spiritual energy where everything simply facilitates deeper, ever-increasing experiences of feeling Krishna’s love and loving Krishna, through limitless ways. But the bahiranga sakti or the maya sakti, when we come under that control, these three modes of nature, goodness, passion and ignorance, keep us in a state of forgetfulness.” Krishna tells in Gita,
daivi hy e?a gu?amayi
mama maya duratyaya
That this material energy consisting of the three modes of nature, its Krishna’s energy, it’s all-powerful, it’s beyond our intelligence, it’s beyond our ability to control our mind and senses. Time, the controlling factor of God’s presence within this world, destroys everything. From the perspective of a eternal time, it’s just the matter of a seconds till the sun turns to ashes. Every ocean is dried up, the earth planet and every other planet becomes powder. And what to speak of our little lifetimes, how long do we live? We are getting old, we are getting diseases, we are dying, It’s the nature of the body. So maya is very, very strong, but if we take shelter of Krishna, if we recognize that we‘re completely dependent on Krishna, and that’s not a depressing situation, that’s the most optimistic state. If we are completely dependent on somebody who is very mean, that’s depressing. But when we hear Krishna’s loving pastimes and Krishna’s loving teachings from Srimad Bhagvatam, from Ramayan, from Bhagvad Gita, to be completely dependent on Krishna, on Sri Radha, as our mother and our father, our friend, our lover, it makes us totally fearless and nothing in this world could impede our happiness because we know that we are connected to Krishna, the source of all happiness. So this conception that ultimately the God is formless and you are formless, Gods form is illusion, God’s pastimes are illusion, God’s name, everyone who reads the scriptures knows it’s the yugadharma for this age.
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
In the Kali-santarana Upanishad it describes the 16 words, 32 syllable mantra, the Mahamantra, there is no greater medicine to cure us of the ignorance and illusion in this age of kali than the chanting of
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
So in this sense, anybody who knows sastra understands this. But the mayavad conception is just like you take a thorn out of your foot with another thorn and then you throw both thorns away and you walk way. Yes? So similarly, the name of God, the pastimes of God, the deity of God, they are pure goodness, but still they’re manifestations within maya and they could free us from maya but then after we free from maya and we realize our liberated state, we don’t need these things anymore. But for great bhaktas like Madhavacharya, Ramanujacharya, Sri Chaitanya Mahapurbhu, Vallabhacharya, these great saints and avatars and the scriptures themselves, such a idea breaks their hearts. Gods’ name is non-different than God, Hanumanji was constantly chanting Ram’s names, he was constantly serving Ram and when he was offered any benediction, the only that he wanted, “Let me always remember you, eternally chant your names, and eternally serve you.” Little Prahalad Mahraj, he was offered any benediction, “Let me always remember you as your servant.” This material world is not an illusion because its God’s energy.
Om puranam adah purnam idam
If we understand the absolute truth is absolute, then God’s energy is not an illusion; God’s energy is divine. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna says
daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya
“Daivi means eternal, daivi means its transcendental. He says, “This material energy, this divine energy of mine consisting of the three modes of nature.” Prakriti is Krishna’s energy, everything all the manifestations within it are ever changing but the principle of prakriti, the energy, is eternal. So devotees don’t say that all that you are seeing is not real, its an illusion, the misconception of how we identify it is an illusion.” –Radhanath Swami
An example our own bodies, according to mayavad conception, this body is an illusion, and ultimately the jiva, the atma is an illusion. The Vaishnav philosophy is the atma is eternal and this body may be temporary but its made of God’s energy, therefore it’s real. The illusion is when the atma identifies, “I am this body”— that’s maya.
“Maya isn’t that “matter exists.” Maya is when we identify ourselves as being matter, and under that misconception thinking that I am the controller, I am the enjoyer, I am the proprietor, that’s an illusion, and that’s the source of all the suffering. To understand sacredness of the world is possible when we learn how to utilize this energy in Krishna’s service. Transformation of material into spiritual is bhakti and that’s done simply through consciousness to seeing the potential within everything and everyone.” –Radhanath Swami
So Sripad Madhavacharya, he was really strong, and he was quiet athletic. He was Bhima! He was an expansion of Hanuman! When we were at Kishkinta Keshetra, when Hanuman was jumping across the ocean, he understood that this body of his is an instrument by which he can do wonderful things for Ram. With that body of his, he presented the ring of Ram to Sita and brought her the greatest joy. She was in such desperate separation from Sri Ramchandra. Hanuman saw her weeping, crying, just crying out Ram’s name. And with his hand, he presented her Ram’s ring. She took that ring and she pressed it to her heart. She experienced Ram in that ring and she cried in happiness. So for Hanuman, this is what the body is for, his utilizing his body instrument of devotion made Sita so happy! And then Sita gave Hanumanji her jewel, and Hanuman jumped over the ocean and went to Maliyavanta, the parsavana mountain in Kishkinta and presented that jewel to Ram. He pressed it to his heart and cried in ecstasy. He was talking to the jewel. “Sita you have come to me, I am remembering you, I am coming, I am coming Sita, I am coming soon.”
“So when we use our body for the pleasure of the Lord, how can we say it’s an illusion, how can we see its unreal. It’s something beautiful. Even this body may be temporary, the soul is eternal and while in this body, the human form of body could be sacred boat to take us across this ocean of material existence and give pleasure to Krishna.” –Radhanath Swami
Prasad, prasad is ordinary food but when its offered with love and devotion to Krishna, it becomes his mercy, becomes very special, it’s spiritual, we don’t walk over it, we don’t disrespect it because we appreciate its spiritual reality and the truth within it. So the world is real but the misconception of the eternal soul identifying itself—
“We are not the body; we are in the body. The body is not meant for our enjoyment, the body is meant for Krishna’s enjoyment, that’s the highest truth. The misconception is maya.” -Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami on Renunciation
We were speaking yesterday how Sripad Madhavacharya, he took sannyas when he was about ten years old, because he was really enthusiastic. The tradition often is, when you get really old, you get married, you have children, you have grandchildren, after you have children and grandchildren and they take over all the responsibilities of the family then you take vanaprashta, and eventually take sanyas, just before death. But Sripad Madhavacharya, he had a different conception of sannyas. His idea was Sannyas is not just meant for our own liberation, because actually the path of bhakti is so powerful that you could be a grihasta, you could be a family person and attain the highest perfection. If you see your home as Krishna’s home, if you see your family as Krishna’s family, if you see your body as Krishna’s body, if your see your occupation as a means of facilitating Krishna’s service, we chant the holy name. Bhakti Vinod Thakur, he had over ten children and a wife and several houses and a job, and yet the greatest renunciates, Gaur Kishordas Babaji Maharaj and others, were coming to get his blessings and learn what are the highest truths from him.
grihe thako, vane thako, sada ‘hari’ bole’ dako,
sukhe duhkhe bhulo na’ko, vadane hari-nam koro re
gaya Gaur madhur svare
ittle Prahalad became a grihastaha, Dhruva Mahraj became a grishastha— They were married! Ambarisa Maharaj was married, Durvasa Muni was renunciate, and who has had a deeper connection? Ambarisa! He was not only married, he was king. Ranti Dev, what was his renunciation, he had a wife and children. Kunti Devi, she was a mother with children. So many of the greatest personalities,
“…so the path of bhakti is so strong, you don’t have to become a sanyasi, you don’t have to renounce. You can attain the highest perfection and live in the highest perfection just by living in that spirit of devotion.” –Radhanath Swami
Sripad Madhavacharya took sanyas out of deep compassion, because he wanted to clarify the prevailing misconceptions of who God is and establish principles that actually open the doors to real love and real devotion. And he wanted to give his entire energy for that purpose, and for that he considered sannyas to be favorable. He had nothing else to do, no other obligation to anything or to anyone except to spread the glories of pure devotional service. And he had that determination at the age of ten.
Soon after that, he went on a tour to South India and many historical records describe his incredible accomplishments. This little boy, Achyutapreksha, his guru came with him for some of the way also and they travelled and he was giving lectures, he taught Sripad Madhavacharya that achar and vichar are necessary to be harmonized to actually gain the grace of God and realization.
“To receive knowledge and to give knowledge, philosophy is very important, it’s essential, but the character and how we live and how we speak and how we interact with other living beings and how we interact with nature and how we interact with God within our heart is all important.” –Radhanath Swami
Krishna tells in Gita jnana and vijnana, there’s two types of knowledge: there is theoretical and realized. Theoretical knowledge we could learn in books, we could understand by hearing classes, kathas, but when we apply those teachings to our life and live with true character of selfless devotion, morality, humility, gratitude, compassion, self-control, when we live with these principles on basis of that philosophy, we get realization. He explained that the conduct in which we live and the philosophy by which we live by are like the two wings of a bird. Did you ever see a bird flying with one wing? Most people these days don’t have any wings. So they can’t fly very much. And if we just have moral high character without a philosophy of understanding our eternal connection with the Supreme Lord, it’s like having one wing, we don’t really get anywhere spiritually. And if we have all this high high philosophy and we understand and we memorize, even if we memorize every little detail of the highest rasas going on in the spiritual world, if we don’t live with humility and compassion and self-control and we are not in the spirit of the servant of the servant of the servant, it’s just one wing, doesn’t get you anywhere. So he wanted to teach people how to fly back home back to Godhead.
And his body was very strong too, when he was in Goa, he was given 4000 gigantic bananas to eat and thirty pitchers of milk and within a few minutes he ate it all— and he didn’t get fat, he didn’t even have to lay on his left side, he didn’t have indigestion, he just, we can’t imitate. But he was showing that, his body, One time he had about 30 disciples, this is when he was very old, and they were young, and they seemed to be kind of proud of being young. So he challenged them all to a wrestling match, simultaneous and within seconds he defeated all thirty of them. Now brahmacharis, you don’t try to imitate this. But he had a philosophical import to everything he did, he saw that he saw his body is, he was travelling around, he was walking to Himalayas, he was walking to Kanyakumari, to Badrik ashram, he was going to all over the place with his body, he was going to places where no human being could go, so he was keeping his body fit to receive blessings and to give blessings. He was completely on the spiritual platform.
Madhvacharya Sets Out for Badrinath
Then he decided, because Achyuta preksha, his sanyas guru, he was still very, very influenced, even though he was devotee, he was very influenced by all of this “Brahman is, the all-pervading formless, quality-less absolute and the world is an illusion.” It is so simple to understand it properly, but when you don’t have the association for someone like Srila Prabhupad who is just telling us as it is, can really get confused. And when everybody around is like that, he was quiet confused himself. And what was most confusing is that traditionally the acharyas accept that any system of true spirituality has to be supported by a commentary of Brahma Sutra or Vedana Sutra and everyone was reading the Shariraka Bhashya. So Achyutapreksha told Madvacharya that, “If you really want to convince me and if you really want to convince others, you have to have a commentary of the Vedanta Sutra to establish this principle.” Madhavacharya was such a humble person, although he was Vayudev, the divine incarnation of the God’ intimate devotee, Mukhayaprana, by his example and by his own heart, he wanted to get the teachings and the blessings of Vyasdeva, because the Brahma Sutra was written by Vyasdeva! The four Vedas, the Upanishad, the Itihastas, the Mahabharat, the Samhitas, Vysdeva helped to bring these all together to compile them, and then he took the essence of the summary and put it into the Vedanta Sutras. Then we read in Srimad Bhagvatam how, even after he did all that, he was still unsatisfied and that’s when Narada Muni came to him in Badrikashram and told him to write his own commentary of Vedanta Sutra, the Srimad Bhagvatam. So in Gaudiya Vaishnavism, we accept the Srimad Bhagvatam as the ultimate authority because it is the commentary of the essence of all Vedas by the person who wrote all the Vedas, and the essence of all the Vedas. But at that time, to have a commentary of Vedanta sutra was the stamp to give you the authority, but it really had to be convincing. So Madhavacharya decided he was going to personally go to meet Vyasdeva and Lord Narayan, and he knew where they lived, because scriptures tell, he lives in Badrinath. But there are two Badris there is Badri where humans can go to and there is another Badri way way way way high high into the celestial area of Himalayas that no human can reach. So he told Satyatirtha, one of his intimate disciples and some others, “Let us go to Badri.” And, from Udupi, they walked. Incredible things happened on the way. Eventually, they went to Badrinath. Please raise your hands if you have been to Badrinath, raise both your hands and say Hari bol.
So there is the temple of Badrivishal, it’s on the banks of Alaknanda river. In olden days, just one or two generations back, there was only one way to go there and that was to walk. And for most people, they went to Badrinath when they are about to die, because usually if you walk there, you never came back because you went through jungles and everything. But in Kaliyuga so many things happen. What happened is China, we have some really wonderful Chinese devotees here, so with all respects to China, back in 50’s and 60’s there was some tension between India and China and China is at the border of India, so they wanted to have military troops, so they built roads, and there is military stations near Badrinath. So now, because of military roads, we can drive to Badrinath. But in those days, this is about 750 years ago, Madhavacharya walked, and he was a fast walker, he was Vayuputra, and they went all the way through the jungles and the Himalayan peaks and reached Badrinath. And Madhavacharya, he went there to request the blessings and the empowerment to write a bhasya, a commentary on Brahma sutras, but he wanted to offer something also. So, he personally wrote a commentary on Bhagvad Gita, the Gita bhasyam and he presented that to the deity of Badrivishal, Badrinaryan, and offered through Badrinarayan to Vyasdeva and to Lord Narayan, because his spirit was I am coming to ask for service but I should offer something also.
He fasted and he performed some tapasya while he was there for some days and then he heard a voice, and some of his devotees heard it! Vyasdeva was calling him to the upper Badrinath— where no one can go. So Madhavacharya said, “I am going to the highest peaks on the transcendental plains of the Himalayas where no human can go, but I am going.” And his devotees were really worried, “We may never see you again, let us come with you!” He said, “No, no you cannot come with me.” but Satyatirtha came with him anyway! Madhavacharya was walking, he was walking through the snow of these high, high mountains, he was walking fast but he was slowing down because Satyatirtha was running and running and he was eventually he couldn’t breathe and he was falling in the snow and he was completely exhausted and he could not take another step. And he’s just looking up ahead and he seeing his guru, just enthusiastically moving forward. So Madhavacharya turned back to Satyatirtha and smiled and, with one wave of his hand, he went like this, and instantly Satyatirtha was back at the lower Badrinath with all of his Godbrothers. He just was there, it’s not that he flew, he just was there. And he was telling all his Godbrothers what our Gurudev is doing, Madhvacharya. And Madhavacharya, then he didn’t have to slow down for anyone, he just walked and walked and walked like Hanumanji. And ultimately, he came to a place, after walking for days to total snow wilderness, nothing, and he came to the spiritual world.
Radhanath Swami on Madhvacharya’s Arrival in Badrinath
Within these highest peaks of Himalayas was a transcendental world; you can’t even see it unless you are given the eyes to see. There were lakes and beautiful trees, especially Badri trees, and there were hundreds and hundreds of completely enlightened yogis and they were all sitting around Vyasdeva. And he was brought to meet Vyasdeva whom he accepted as his own guru. He offered his prostrated obeisances and Vyasdeva was so pleased to see Madhavacharya, his determination, his love, his devotion, his compassion, he lifted up Madhavacharya and embraced him. And for many days, Madhavacharya sat at the feet of Vedvyas to hear from him. And Vyasdeva said, “Let us go to see Lord Narayan who is also living here.” And he took him even higher, where three of them Vyasdeva, Narayan and Madhava sat together. And Narayan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who lives there in his abode along with Vyasdeva, they explained to Sripad Madhavacharya the true essence of the Brahma Sutras, and not only explained, empowered, but instructed him to write his commentary.
Madhvacharya Composes the Purnapranga Bhashya
Vyasadeva brought him down to the other rishis and after taking leave, he came down to the lower area of Badrinath and met his disciples and told them everything that happened. And it was there in Badrinath, in the little village where the temple is, that he recited his commentary of the Brahma Sutras and Satyatirth, he wrote everything down on palm leaves. In those days, there were no computers, there wasn’t even papers and pens. He had to carve them on palm leaves, but he did with such efficiency because he had such a desire to please his guru. It was in Badrinath, it is said that Vedvyas, he spoke Mahabharat to Ganesh and Ganesh wrote everything down without ever asking, “What did you say?” that was his enthusiasm. So in a similar way, Madhvacharya wrote his Purnapragna Bhashya by speaking to Satyatirtha.
Madhvacharya Enlightens Sobhanabhatta
When it was written, they left Badrinath and began to travel to the Southern parts of India. They travelled to many places, but one of the very historical events that happened is there was an area on the banks of the Godavari river, where the greatest scholars in the whole country would meet. Sometimes they would have debates; sometimes they would just try to deeply discuss scriptures and philosophies. Madhavacharya went there and he spoke and he convinced people so much. The president of the whole association, the most respected scholar practically in the whole land of India, his name was Sobhanabhatt, he listened to Madhavacharya, he spoke to him, he had questions for him, he had challenges for him, it was so convincing and what was the most convincing is the humility, the intelligence, the compassion and the character of Madhvacharya, it deeply impressed him, “This person is an acharya, he is not just speaking the incredible philosophy that answers all the questions but he lives it.” There is one beautiful tape where Srila Prabhupad says that, “Philosophy without good character is practically useless.” Sobhanabhatt, he was a philosopher, here in Madhvacharya, he found superior philosophy and inclusive comprehensive philosophy, that was spoken by a person, who because he had love for Krishna, for Narayan, he had deep, genuine, selfless compassion for every living being. But because he was like the king of all scholars, he really needed, in order for him to be transformed, he needed something very substantial to put his faith in.
Sripad Madhavacharya had his Bhashya, his commentary of Brahma Sutras and he gave it to Sobhanabhatt to read it and discuss it with him. And after seeing this, Sobhanabhatt decided that he is going to dedicate the rest of his life to expound the teachings of Sripad Madhavacharya, to propound that the highest perfection of life is pure unalloyed devotional service to the absolute truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead knowing that we are the eternally loving servants of the Lord, and through loving service, we can make that connection. Srila Prabhupad explained it in a very simple way. He said, “In bhakti the goal, the sadhya and the sadhana are the same.” (The goal and the way to achieve it) The way to achieve the highest goal Krishna tells:
bhaktya tu ananyaya sakya
aham evam vidurjana
“Only by pure bhakti can I be known as I am”
“And the goal we achieve by loving service, is loving service. We practice loving service to become purified and in the pure state, and loving service cleanse us of our egos and of our selfishness, it is the most powerful thing in all of creation because it attracts Krishna’s grace, and when we become cleansed then we serve with ecstatic love. We become an instrument of Krishna’s ecstatic love in everything we do and there is no greater joy than that, forever.” –Radhanath Swami
When Sobhanabhatt understood this, he was so respected that anywhere he went– he was the keynote speaker, as we would say today. Any school he went, they would say, yes you teach us. Any scholarly debate, he will be given the first right, the highest position because he was so accomplished. And now, with all of that incredible facilities he had, with deep compassion as an instrument of Madhavacharya’s grace, he was teaching pure devotional service— incredible, the impact that one man had. And later on, he took sannyas from Madhavacharya and his name was Padmanabhtirtha.
Madhvacharya Enlightens Achyutaprekesh
When Sripad Madhavacharya returned to Udupi, Achyutapreksha, his sanyas guru, was so happy to see him after so long separation. And Madhavacharya presented him his commentary on the Vedanta Sutras. In those days, that was the seal that you really have an authorized school to teach from. And when Achyutapreksha read it, and asked his questions to Sripad Madhavacharya, he was totally convinced. All of his misconceptions, all of his impersonal tendencies, they were gone forever. Philosophically, logically, scripturally, experientially and through realization he had realized the topmost spiritual state of love for God.
When Sirpad Madhavacharya was on his way back, actually when he was in Udupi– how many of you went to Udupi Krishna temple. Please if you went and you had nice experience, say Haribol very loudly, much louder please, one more time. Thank you, thank you.
Madhvacharya Saves the Sea Merchant
One day, Sripad Madhavacharya was sitting on the ocean side, the area is called Malpe, the Arabian sea and he was composing beautiful prayers in glorification of Krishna. And as he was composing those prayers, there was a storm, a heavy windstorm, and because of that the waves became extremely violent. There was a boat, a boat of merchant who was coming from Dvarka and he put so much of his life sayings into the goods that he was carrying on this boat that he was taking south to sell, but the storm was so turbulent that his boat was sinking. And waves were crashing against them, and the winds were smashing him, he was helpless. Not only his boat going to sink and all of his wealth going to be destroyed but he was going to die along with it. So he was helpless.
Srila Prabhupad in one place he said, when he was in the Jalduta, which is a cargo ship sailing across the Arabian sea, the same sea, and there was some storms and there were waves, that’s when he had heart attacks, Prabhupad said, he looked around and all there was the rains, and the winds and the turbulent sea with the waves getting bigger and bigger and he said his boat felt like a little tiny matchbox in the middle of the ocean. You really can understand the need for higher powers in the situation like that, and he just gave his heart to Krishna. So this boat man, he was about to die and loose everything. And right at the last moment, he happened to see Madhavacharya sitting in meditation on the seashore. And he cried out because he saw, He is a yogi, he is a saint, maybe he could help me. He was taking shelter.
“You see, when you take shelter of saintly people, you are actually receptive to receive their mercy. You can ask for the blessing, you can demand blessings, but you are not going to get much. But if you actually feel dependent and take shelter and understand the importance of the association of saintly people, then we are actually receptive to receive, the words they speak and the blessings that they can transform us with.” –Radhanath Swami
So this person saw the beautiful form of Sripad Madhavacharya and he was in such a helpless state, he was crying out for Madhavacharya, “Help!” Madhavacharya had a saffron chadar on, some cloth he was wearing, a kaupin, and he took that cloth and he just waved it, and the storm disappeared, not only that, the ocean became calm. And then Sripad Mdhavacharya just kind of went like this, and the wind took his boat to the shore and everything was fine. So this person had full realization that this yogi saved his life, saved his wealth, saved everything! And he came down with real deep gratitude and bowed down to Sripad Madhvacharya and said I have so much wealth on this boat, “I will give you anything you want. What can I give you; I will give you the whole boat!” Sripad Madhavacharya said, “I don’t want anything. What do I need?”
“Devotees who have Krishna in the hearts are atmarama, they are self-satisfied. If you are not satisfied with Krishna in your heart, no matter what you have, you will never be satisfied.” –Radhanath Swami
He [Madhvacharya] said, “I don’t want anything.” But the person really wanted to, He said, “I have gold! I have pots! I have boat! anything, I will give you.” Madhavacharya said, “You are coming from Dwarka?” He said, “Yes.” He said,“Do you have any gopi chandan?” Gopi chandan is clay! Especially in those days, that clay was so easily to get in Dwarka, it’s for free there were places of clay and blocks of clay! And sailors, in order to balance their ship, they would have gopi chandan because it really didn’t cost anything. it was more or less, from the material side, it was so easily available, it had no value. But when you take things off your ship, you have to balance it with something else, so they keep mounds of gopi chandan. Now for a devotee, gopi chandan is what you, it’s, if you go to Dwarka, there is a place called Gopi Talab. How many have been there? Please raise your hands and say Haribol. We should go on another yatra there. And that’s the place where actually Gopis came and bathed and Sri Radharani and Krishna and Gopis bathe there in this Gopi Talab, this kund. And the dust from Krishna and Sri Radha’s bodies and the dust of the feet of all of the gopis became that clay. So from that time, it’s considered priceless. From a businessperson’s perspective in those days, it was worth nothing; but for Madhavacharya, it was worth everything. It’s the dust of the feet of Krishna and Radha and Gopis. And we put it on our bodies, its called tilak. We put it one our foreheads, twelve parts of our body, and it’s the way of consecrating our body, mind, words and life to Krishna.
So he said, “Please give me, you have some gopi chandan?” He said, “Yes, I have two mounds of gopi chandan!” So he said, “you can give me that.” And they took two mounds of gopi chandan out and one of the mounds broke open and inside was an incredible deity of Balaram. And then Madhavacharya, he was chanting beautiful hymns and mantras and the other lump of gopi chandan opened up and there was a deity of Krishna, incredible deity of Krishna. And Madhvacharya knew the history of that deity.
Madhvacharya Tells the Story of the Gopi Chandan Deities
During the time of Krishna, which is approximately 5000 years ago, Krishna lived in Dwarka with Devaki and Vasudev, his mother and father. And he lived in beautiful palaces with queens like Satyabhama and Rukmini, Jambavati. Krishna lived approximately 10-11 years in Vrindavan, and then Akrura brought Krishna to Mathura and we spoke about the story in Srimad Bhagvatam class in Radha Gopinath temple a couple weeks ago where Kaliyavana, who was incredible yavana demon with millions of soldiers, 30 million they attacked for Mathura on one side, and then Jarasandha was coming with millions of soldiers, all these Akshohini divisions, he was coming attacking Mathura on the another side. So Krishna and Balaram went out to meet Kaliyavana and in order to protect citizens of Mathura, he empowered Vishwakarma to build the fort in the sea called Dwarka. Now I think day after tomorrow our yatra is complete, it’s the beginning of the yatra actually, the second part of the yatra, but then you all have to return to your homes, may be by train or plane or bus, or rickshaw. Now, when Krishna wants to move you, it’s very special. The people of Mathura, the whole Yadu dynasty, they were in their palaces in Mathura, their homes, they all went to sleep at night peacefully. So Krishna, he transferred them all to Dwarka, and nobody even woke up, in the morning they woke up and they were in brand new palace in Dwarka, they were looking around, incredible. So that’s how Dwarka was created by Krishna.
But Devaki, who was Krishna’s mother in Mathura, according to Srimad Bhagvatam, he was within her womb when she was living in the prison of Kamsa, the Janmastami lila and then that very night, Vasudev took him across the Yamuna River to Gokul where he was raised by Yasoda and Nand Maharaj. Devaki expressed to Krishna in the inner chambers of their palace in Dwarka, that, “I heard so many beautiful lilas or stories about your charming childhood activities in Vrindavan. Yasoda Mayi, as your mother, she was a witness; she could be the part of those childhood activities. I heard stories where you would just be a naughty little boy and you’d steal butter and you’d completely conquer everyone’s hearts. By the time you came back you were a prince! I want to see those pastimes that as your mother, I never saw you as a little child.” So Krishna fulfilled Devaki’s desires. He manifested himself as Bal Gopal, little Krishna. And he jumped on her lap and drank her milk and then he went and he started breaking butter pots, he was stealing, he was doing all this little childhood pastimes, he was holding stick and a rope for churning butter, as he was stealing and Devaki was completely mesmerized. She was thinking in her heart, I have never experienced such happiness as this, your Vrindavan lila.
Rukmini, Krishna’s queen, was watching, and she never experienced such happiness as seeing Krishna’s Bal lila of Vrindavan. She requested Krishna, “I want to worship you in this form as Bal Gopal stealing butter. Can you give me a murti that I could worship? So Krishna called Vishwakarma to carve that identical form that Rukmini was seeing of Krishna of Vrindavan as the butter thief, and he carved, out of a pure Saligram Sila, that form of Krishna, and in one hand he is holding a stick and in another a rope. And Rukmini Devi, although she was personally serving Dwarkadish Krishna day and night, her greatest happiness was in worshipping this deity form in the temple in her inner room of Gopal. Years later, when the Yadu dynasty was sent back to the spiritual world, Arjuna, Krishna’s dearest friend, he brought the deity of Rukmini after the Rukmini had already left, and put it in Rukmini’s garden. And over the years, the deity of Gopal that was worshipped by Rukmini in Dwarka was covered by gopi chandan along with the deity of Balram, and was completely lost. So those sailors they didn’t know, there was anything inside that lump of gopi chandan, it was just mud, clay. But it was Krishna’s wish and Balaram’s wish to come here to Udupi to be worshipped by Sripad Madhavacharya, and later to be visited by Sri Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu. And even then, when Udupi Krishna was on that boat in that storm, he knew that all of us would be here today.
The devotees, Sripad Madhvacharya said, “Let us bring–” Balaram is installed in a temple close to where the sea is. Did you all go to see the Balaram temple? But he wanted to bring Krishana back to the town of Udupi, but Krishna was so heavy, nobody could pick him up. Thirty of his disciples tried to lift him but they could not lift him. Then Madhvacharya, chanting beautiful songs in glorification of Lord Krishna, effortlessly picked Krishna. And as he was carrying Krishna back to Udupi, he completed his beautiful prayers the Dwadasa Stotram, which for many followers in the Sri Madhava Sampradaya, even almost 800 years later, chant every day.
Radhanath Swami Presents the Merchant Analogy
We can see an analogy in this story too. That merchant who was on the ship is like the jivatma and the boat is like the human form of life and the Arabian Sea (the ocean), is like the ocean of samsara. And the purpose of human form of life is to take the jivatma across the ocean of samsara to the abode of Krishna. That storm is like the attraction of the senses for their objects, lust, envy, anger, arrogance, greed, illusion, all of these human frailties, we want to be the controller, we want to be the proprietor, we want to be the enjoyer, and there are so many distractions! Mental distraction is desire for recognition, prestige, adoration and then there’s the senses that want to feel something, touch something, taste something, hear something, smell something, see something, just enjoy. Have you ever had that experience? That’s like the storm, and that storm, if we get too attached to the attractions between the mind and the senses for the objects of this world, we sink, we sink in the storm in the ocean of samsara and in that sinking we take birth after birth after birth again. But Madhavacharya, in this case, he is the grace, the grace of the God which comes through the grace of guru, the grace of Vaishnavas, the grace of holy scriptures. And like the man on that boat, when the jiva really realizes his helpless condition in this ocean of material existence and really understands how helpless we are in the storms of the temptations and aversions of maya, we cry out, we take shelter, and when we do, by the grace of the Lord, he helps us. And one of the first ways he helps us is he teaches us what really is of value. The man’s wealth, everything else, Madhavacharya didn’t give much value to that but gopi chandan, that had value. What is gopi chandan? We put the tilak of gopi chandan on our bodies to represent a Vaishnava life style. The gopi chandan represents the character, the aspiration, the sadhana, living a life of a Vaishnava. So the grace of Guru and the grace of God is they give us this type of life to live, to live as servant of the servant, to live with morality for Krishna’s pleasure, to live as an instrument of compassion for Krishna’ pleasure.
yoginam api sarvesam
Krishna tells, “Of all yogis, one who abides in me with great faith is most intimately united me with in yoga and is the highest of all.” So to actually receive, when we asked Srila Prabhupad, “What can we do to repay you for all you have given us?” He said, “Just sincerely accept this path of devotional service and share with others.” That’s the life of a devotee.
“Gopi chandan represents when we get the grace of guru we receive what he gives us, a life of service, a life of purification and through that grace, Krishna appears.” –Radhanath Swami
Madhvacharya Installs Bal Gopal
Sripad Madhavacharya brought Krishna to Madhva Sarovar and bathed Krishna with his disciples and then performed a beautiful ceremony to install him where we see him today, in this beautiful temple. The temple was built a little later but he was installed here and Sripad Madhavacharya personally established the form of worship. And Krishna was so beautiful, so sweet, so merciful and because of Madhvacharya, and his followers, because of the way they worshipped him, people by the millions started coming to Udupi to have the darshan of Sri Krishna.
Radhanath Swami on Madhvacharya’s Return to Badrinath
Madvacharya wanted to go back to Badrinath to offer his gratitude to Vyasdeva, his guru, for all that he had given him. And he wanted to present to him the Purna Pragna Bhasya, the commentary of Vedanta Sutra that he wrote under his instructions. So along with several of his then sannyasis and other disciples, they began their journey from Udupi back to Badrikashram. And biographers of Sripad Madhvacharya tell many incredible stories about what happened on the way. Can I tell just a few?
“There was a king and his name was Ishwaradeva and the problem was he really thought that he was Ishwaradeva. That’s the fundamental basic problem with life is we want to be the master and the enjoyer, and ultimately we want to just be a God, then we have no competitors. But for a devotee Krishna, Ram, so beautiful, so merciful, we just want to glorify them and love them and chant their holy names.” –Radhanath Swami
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Madhvacharya Hoodwinks King Isvardeva
King Isvaradeva, he was a thief, he was arrogant, he wanted to exploit people, he just- everything was just about him. So he wanted to build some lakes for his own satisfaction, and anybody he would see, he had his armies, he would force those people to dig the lake and not pay him anything. So here is Madhvacharya with his sannyasi disciples, they were walking and soldiers came, and no respect! They told Madhvacharya, “You have to dig the lake otherwise the king will punish you.” So Sripad Madhvacharya meets the king and the king has spade, shovel, “I don’t care who you are, dig the lake” Madhvacharya, he said, “I am a swami, I don’t know how to dig lakes. You show me how to dig then I will dig.” He [the king] said, “You just take it like this!” He [Madhvacarya] said, “you show me how to dig.” So King started digging! And the king got so illusioned, he got so mystified by Sripad Madhvacharya, he got so totally immersed in digging, that he forgot about everything and Madhvacharya and his followers just walked away.
Madhvacharya Charms the Turkish King
Another time, because in those days, India was so many little kingdoms, there was a Turkish king who really hated Hindus and he was also a very cruel person. So he had armies, and they came to the river Ganges, the Ganga, and they stopped any boats from crossing river. It’s a wide river, very forceful river! Now to get to Badrinath, you have to cross Ganga there, so there were no boats, and on the other side there were armies who were going to kill anybody who tries to get into their territory. So what are you going to do? Sripad Madhavacharya, told his sadhu disciples, “Stand in a line one after another, single file, hold each other’s hands.” So they were on the shore of the river, holding each other’s hands and then he went right into the front and he held the hand of the first person, the first Swamiji. And he started walking into the Ganges and he was pulling all of them, and they crossed it! The biographers, I haven’t found where it says whether, like Vasudeva and Krishna, where it just kind of opened it for him or they walked over the water, somehow they crossed it! You see, Vasudev when he crossed Yamuna, Krishna was in his hands; with Madhavacharya, Krishna was in his heart. but as soon as they came to the other side, the armies were there with weapons ready to imprison them, torture them or kill them. So Madhavacharya said, “I want to meet your king.” The king didn’t speak Hindi, he spoke Turkish, he had Turkish soldiers, he was an invader. So Sripad Madhavacharya came before him, and spoke eloquent Turkish language, nobody knew that he knew Turkish language! And he spoke with such compassion and such intelligence and even such respect for this person. Even though the soldiers were about to kill them, the king, he was charmed. He told Madhavacharya, “I am just so happy to meet you, I am so enlightened to meet you, I want to donate to you some nice land where you could live.” Sripad Madhavachya didn’t want any land, the king touched his feet and asked for his blessings and they continued their journey.
Madhvacharya Saves Satyatirtha
When they got near Badrikashram they were going through a forest. And Satyatirtha, who was the person who would– he was such a faithful, devoted disciple, he would do anything for his guru and he was the one who was empowered to write down the books as Sripad Madhavacharya would dictate. But Satyatirtha was alone in this area of forest and suddenly a gigantic tiger attacked him— and nobody was around. So he thought of Krishna this is the end, and suddenly, Sripad Madhavacharya, appeared right there, and with one touch of the head of the tiger, the tiger fell unconscious. The moral of this story is
“…there are many tigers in this world; but if we take shelter of the Vaishnavas, who hold Krishna in their hearts, we can be rescued from those tigers within and without.” –Radhanath Swami
Madhvacharya Reunites With Vyasdev and The Lord
Sripad Madhavacharya, he presented his Geeta Bhasyam, his commentary of Bhagavad Gita, to the deity of Badrivishal, in the lower part of Badrinath, but the Bhasyam on the Vedanta Sutra, he wanted to directly present to the Vyasadeva and Lord Narayan. So he told his devotees that he is going to the upper Badri again and nobody even attempted to come with him! And he was really enthusiastic and he went like Hanumanji to the spiritual world. And there, he bowed down to the Vyasdeva who brought him to Lord Narayan and he embraced him and he presented to them the Purna Pragna Bhasya, the Vaishnava commentary of Brahma Sutras. And they were so pleased because it was their words, that he was an instrument to present to the world. At that time, Vyasadeva gave eight murtis to Sripad Madhavacharya and also gave him an instruction; “You should write a summary commentary on the Mahabharata.” And with that command, after sitting with his guru and his beloved Lord, he returned to his devotees.
Madhvacharya Reveals His Old Club
When he came down to the Ganga again, in the plains of India, he was with many scholars and many simple common people. Every type of people, he could attract their hearts with his wisdom, with his compassion, his love, and what an incredible philosophy. Some of the people said, “You should write commentaries on the Upanishads also.” And he did, during the chaturmasya on the bank of the Ganges, after going to Badrinath for the second time, he wrote bhasyams or commentaries for ten of the primary Upanishads. He took his devotees to Kurukshetra. And there, he was at Jyotisar, he saw the place where Krishna spoke Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna and in doing so, spoke to the whole world. And he was remembering his pastimes as Bhima on the Kurukshetra battlefield which is a major part of the Mahabharat. And some of the devotees asked him, “Do you remember where you put your weapons after the battle?” And Sripad Madhavacharya said, “Come and follow me.” and they walked into these fields of Kurukshetra and he came to one place and said “Dig here.” and they dug, and in the earth, they discovered Bhima’s club. Now Bhima was really large in size and his club was enormous. There was Bhima’s club! They were mystified! And then he told them “Bury it again.” because nobody could pick it up except him.
Madhvacharya Leaves His Body
And eventually they returned after incredible tours of going to so many different lands and so many kingdoms and bestowing so much compassion on so many people, and returned to Udupi. When he was around 79 years old, he told his devotes that, “When I physically depart from you, my spirit will remain here in Udupi and my body will go to Badrikashram to live with my beloved Gurudev Srila Vyasdeva. And in the Anantheswar Temple, he would give his lectures on a regular basis, and on the side of the temple, there is a window, when you look in the window you see the same seat that Sripad Madhavacharya would give his talks. In the Udupi Krishna temple there is a seat he would preach and meet people, and in that same seat, is where his, the Pejavar swamis, his successors, sit even today. It was there when he was speaking the Aitareya Upanishad Samhita, he was speaking and his body simply disappeared and those who were witness to this, understood that his spirit is forever here.
Radhanath Swami Gives the Essence of Madhvacharya’s Teachings
So we have come to Udupi because it is such a special place for us. In our yatras, we often go to Sri Mayapur Dham, Sri Vrindavan Dham and we have been so many other places. We regularly go to Jagannath Puri Dham, sometimes we go to Ayodhaya or Naimisaranya, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Pandarpur, Rangakshetra, Tirupati, Kurmakshetra, Simhachalam, Ahobilam, Kanchipuram, Rameshwaram, Chitrakoot, we’ve had many yatras.
The idea of the yatra is that we come together, we put everything in the world aside, and we are just pilgrims. We are among people who have one purpose— this is onen