Vanity thought #1484. Seeking the source

Today the entire Gauḍiyā world celebrates the appearance day of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Unfortunately, I’m not in the mood to “wax lyrical” about it, which means I don’t feel cleansed enough to discuss Her personality directly. Or I could use Śukadeva’s excuse and say that I won’t talk about Her because it would bring forward too much ecstasy and it shouldn’t be done in public. It’s a great excuse to use (rhyme!) because not only it makes one feel spiritually advanced but also denigrates the audience as not being qualified to hear about Śrī Rādhika.

Of course the audience will always take affront at being called unworthy of discussion, especially on a day like this, but, tbh, none of us is qualified and it’s perfectly okay for us not to wade into Her world in our current condition. Spiritually, we are like plumbers who just finished a five hour fight with a massive sewage leak. Neither the smell, nor the sight, nor our vocabulary fit for the occasion.

Just the other day I listened to what was labeled “Rādhā kathā” but most of the talk, like 90% of it, was about material attachments and controlling the mind, the ABC stuff. I also remembered how Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī took his disciples on the very first Vṛndāvana Parikramā and they were all filled with anticipation of nectarian pastimes. Instead, sitting on the bank of Rādha-kuṇḍa, he lectured exclusively on upaniṣads and haven’t mentioned līlā even once. When local bābājīs passed an unfavorable judgement on his level of advancement he paid back by calling them “all kaniṣṭhas”.

In his explanation upaniṣads are all about glorifying Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa but we can’t hear it because of our stunted vision. We see only philosophy in them and not their pure spiritual form. Consequently, we are attracted by “pastimes” because of the mundane meanings and imagination provoked in our minds, and so if we can’t yet relish the upaniṣads we shouldn’t try to relish the pastimes either. Discourse on foundational philosophy therefore, was a test of his listeners readiness. Some passed, some didn’t.

Another reason he considered local bābājīs as kaniṣṭhas was because they didn’t understand preaching. This is really a simple litmus test in our tradition – preaching is our life and soul, if we don’t get it we are not advanced at all, we are kaniṣṭhas. Madhyamas should preach, it’s their dharma, but it gets a little more complicated with uttamas because they can legitimately engage in nirjana bhajana, a solitary worship, and are not obliged to preach. But even the uttamas, when ther devotion is fully ripened, renounce renunciation and become parivrājaka ācāryas, wandering preachers. This little period of legitimate nirjana, solitude, gives people an excuse to excuse themselves from preaching. Personally, I think they are abusing it, but that’s not something I want to discuss today.

What is the source of this preaching urge? What is the śāstric support for it? What is its philosophical basis?

On this occasion it must be said that we preach because Śrī Rādhika does so, we just follow Her footsteps. We say that preaching originates from Vṛndāvana because Śrī Rādhika wants Kṛṣṇa to experience bliss of relationships with all the suitable gopīs, She is not possessive and jealous in this sense. Whatever makes Kṛṣṇa happy is above Her personal considerations. Finding new people to bring to Kṛṣṇa’s service, therefore, is an essential service.

This is a perfectly good explanation, I’ve even heard how Prahlāda Mahārāja’s compassion towards all living beings and his preaching to his classmates were not really his but a reflection of Śrī Rādhā. That was an argument against looking at non-Vṛndāvana devotees as inferior. They are, in a traditional sense, but they also aren’t because all devotion stems from Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Vṛndāvana and, therefore, it can’t be imperfect or inferior. Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī, for example, is “only” a tree in the spiritual world, and yet he is the one who brought the nectarean rasa into our sampradāya.

So, okay, we can say that preaching originates from Śrī Rādhā, but then I have a question – why do Christians do it, too? Surely, procuring other girls for Kṛṣṇa’s enjoyment is not on the list of their reasons. They have no clue about spiritual relationships whatsoever, no rasa beyond servitorship. Perhaps a different philosophical basis is needed, but I’m not going to take it away from Śrī Rādhā today.

Whatever reasons they have, they still originate in Her service, She is the patron of all devotees everywhere, even outside of our tradition. Yes, we’d better not mention Her existence to Christians at all, but it doesn’t mean they don’t owe Her anything. Their world might start and end with JC but we know that JC was just a messenger. Not in a sense he heard something something in Kashmir and then rushed back to Palestine to share his new found enthusiasm, but as a genuine messenger from the spiritual world.

We don’t know the true source of his knowledge and his true spiritual form. Whatever it is, however, it could only be an expansion of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, no matter how many times removed from Her personally.

Oh, and I just remembered another test we can easily apply to ourselves – do we pray to Kṛṣṇa or to Rādhā? If we still aspire to be Kṛṣṇa’s devotees we are still neophytes. Real devotees in our sampradāya aspire to be devotees of Śrī Rādhā, and traditional Vrndāvana greeting of “Rādhe Rādhe” is not just a quaint custom but a reflection of spiritual reality, too.

Of course we can also cheat and train ourselves to pray to Śrī Rādhā but that won’t make us any more advanced, we shouldn’t cheapen the shelter of Her lotus feet by pretending it’s ready to accept us so we can start praying right away. When the time comes it will come to us naturally, too. In fact, if we catch ourselves on trying to appear more advanced than we really are, it’s another sign of being neophytes.

Why am I fixated on these tests, one might ask. The answer is that these are tests of readiness to discuss Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā and whether listening to this kind of kathā would be beneficial to us or not.

Having said that, nothing should stop us from praying for the cooling shelter of Her soft, fragrant lotus feet. And here I’ve already said too much. Enough.

Vanity thought #1437. Apparently cross-wired

Let’s say everything I’ve been saying for the past couple of days makes sense and everything lines up beautifully according to this left-right distinction. There’s this righteous religious path supported by Vedas, with karma yoga and dharma-artha-kāma-mokṣa and where not spending your wealth on sense gratification is a sin, and there’s this left-hand tantric path that doesn’t care for any of that, breaks up families, takes away sons and daughters and converts them into life long ascetics caring for nothing in this world.

People coming in the right hand tradition are sticklers for the rules and they value traditions, they are indisputable authorities and leaders of the men. They are endowed with Kṛṣṇa’s power to liberate people from material illusion and open their eyes to spiritual truth that everything is connected to the Lord and everything is meant for Lord’s pleasure no matter how material it might look.

People coming in the left hand tradition do everything the opposite way and don’t dwell much on spiritual value of the world around us. They appear to be dismissive and care only about Kṛṣṇa or whatever it is they consider important. Whenever they appear to offend somebody or diminish value of something they’d just say “Kṛṣṇa will take care”. Their devotion is unsurpassed but they always leave mess in their wake for someone else to clean up. Basically, they are like women. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them either, and at the end of the day their whims and capricious behavior is worth the trouble.

Right-hand, dakṣinācāra, spread through viṣṇu tattva expansions of the Lord down to one’s guru, who is representative of Balarāma. Left-hand, vāmācāra, emanates from Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and passes down through a chain of pure devotees who might occasionally persuade people to abandon their gurus and surrender solely unto them. They don’t particularly care for rules of disciplic succession and allow for centuries long gaps between their appearances, carrying the same mood is more important than necessary proximity and initiation rituals. Oh, and they don’t care about rituals at all, their internal devotion overrides rituals and they are not going to depend on rules. If they offer food to Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa accepts it no matter what mantras they chant and what silverware they use, and same goes for worshiping the deities.

It’s the situation best illustrated by Sanātana Gosvāmī who “rescued” a deity of Gopāla from children playing with it(Him) only to be rebuked by the deity itself(Himself) that He had the best time of His life in the company of His pure devotees and now got stuck with this Sanātana fellow where everything is on schedule and there’s no freedom at all.

Of course most of the time we try to combine both of these paths and avoid unnecessary conflicts, but let’s say all of this is true. Then came Lord Caitanya with His Pañca Tattva and turned everything upside down.

We’d expect Lord Nityānanda to behave righteously and embody the dakṣinācāra but instead He was an avadhūta. We’d expect Gadādhara Paṇḍita to show symptoms of vāmācāra, as an incarnation of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī but he was anything but.

If Gadādhara Paṇḍita was internally a left-wing gopī he didn’t show it at all. He always displayed perfect deference to the Lord and was practically His shadow, not a behavior of the vāma side. If he was a true vāma he’d constantly argue with Mahāprabhu and try to control Him, he’d break up with Him and then force the Lord to seek reconciliation. He’d be jealous as hell, too, but nothing like that happened.

Instead it was Lord Nityānanda who broke all the rules, even broke Lord Caitanya’s daṇḍa, and if anyone was confused about Lord’s decisions they’d ask Lord Nityānanda to go and change Mahāprabhu’s mind. He had this privilege of being able to get away with everything, with the famous “If Nityānanda goes to the liquor shop you have to assume He goes there to preach” dictum.

The only time Gadāḍhara Paṇḍita get into trouble with the rules was when he wanted to follow Lord Caitanya to South India and thus break his kṣetra sannyāsa vow. In the end he didn’t. If he was truly left-hand person he’d say to hell with rules and simply follow the Lord no matter what.

This puzzles me and needs to be explained.

With Lord Nityānanda it’s fairly easy – the true propagator of the right-hand path in this world was Advaita Ācārya, as an incarnation of Mahā Viṣṇu or Sadā Śiva. He was the one upholding dharma and He made fun of Lord Nityānanda all the time, joking that it’s inappropriate for a brahmaṇa like Him to take meals in the company of a vagabond like Nityānanda.

If one wanted to learn the rules, Advaita Ācārya was the man. Lord Nityānanda was free from this obligation.

It also could be said that rules here and rules in the spiritual world are different. Up in Goloka Balarāma is fond of drinking vāruṇī and being intoxicated but down here intoxication is a no-no. Devotees would offer betel nuts to the deities but they would never take it themselves, even as prasādam, afaik. Lord Nityānanda, therefore, didn’t do anything against the rules as He knows them in His spiritual abode. In fact, everything He does ARE the rules there. He appeared as avadhūta only by our material standards. As I said, if one wants to see the example of dakṣinācāra in our world one has to look to our assigned incarnation – Advaita Ācārya.

Explaining away Gadādhara Paṇḍita is not as easy. All I can think of is that in the material world there’s no place for transcendental caprice. While in this body one can’t afford to act as if he was in Goloka, we can’t get away with breaking the rules here and it’s not the place to display transcendental emotions. If one has them he’d better keep them to himself and behave like a proper gentleman, as Prabhupāda instructed. Māya can catch us at every step and we should always be aware of her power to delude us.

Sometimes our devotees acted all transcendental when preaching or distributing books but similar examples would be relatively small to be recorded in Caitanya Caritāmṛta if they ever happened to Gadādhara Paṇḍita. I mean to say that if he occasionally displayed vāmācāra behavior it would have to be very out of line to be registered.

It is also wrong to assume that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is all about teasing Kṛṣṇa and acting out. She can afford those things because Her innate devotion, the one indicated by dakṣinācāra, is deeper than anyone else’s. Naturally, when She appeared in this world as Gadādhara Paṇḍita she had to accept limits on what She can display here.

And let’s not forget that Lord Caitanya wasn’t going to enjoy rasa as Kṛṣṇa Himself so the scope for displaying Śrī Rādhā’s devotion in the guise of Gadādhara was very limited even spiritually speaking.

Huh, it appears I’ve managed to explain the exceptions, which means I’m even more convinced in the plausibility of the rule. Well done (taps himself on the shoulder and leaves).

Vanity thought #1436. Does the right hand know?

As I mentioned yesterday, we have a tendency to reduce complex spiritual problems to our mundane throw away cliches. “It takes two hands to clap” is the one relevant to the topic at hand – the relationship between right-hand and left-hand moods in Kṛṣṇa’s service. “Left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing” is another one of those, except this is from the Bible so it’s not as mundane.

Why do we do that? Does it help to clarify the issue or simply gives us a peace of mind by providing our familiar point of reference? Or does it solidify one particular aspect of the problem while diminishing every other? There’s some use to this reductionism but it shouldn’t be the end of our investigation, I think.

Thinking about differences between left and right in the spiritual realm brought me to this – on the right side is Viṣṇu tattva expansions of Kṛṣṇa, His sandhinī potency, and in that they are perfect and absolute in their righteousness. On the left side are expansions of His hlādinī potency, starting with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and ending up with conditioned souls like us, and they are by nature contrarian and, taken to the extreme, lead to our banishment to the material world.

It is certainly not as simple as that and I’m not aware of our ācāryas presenting tattva this way but it helps me to understand other, familiar concepts, like three potencies. Samvit, btw, is presided by Kṛṣṇa Himself, afaik.

Taken this dual view it would appear that hlādinī potency is responsible for rasa, relationships pleasing to the Lord, but Balarāma, the original viṣṇu tattva expansion, enjoys rasa, too, as a friend, servant, and a parent. Of course He is not Kṛṣṇa’s parent but as an older brother He takes responsibility for the Lord and sometimes acts as a guru, parental mood is clearly there.

OTOH, we know that all these rasas take their source in Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and this means that left-right division is not absolute.

Everything manifested in both material and spiritual worlds is the work of the right hand, including all paraphernalia for Kṛṣṇa’s service, giving hlādinī potency something to work with. I don’t know if rasa would be possible without existence of the spiritual world, if it can exist separately from spiritual bodies and Vraja itself.

This method of analyzing ideas might not be suitable here because in the spiritual world things do not exist in isolation and do not appear one after another as a cause and effect. There was never a time when either Balarāma and Rādhārāṇī were absent and when Kṛṣṇa had one potency, say hlādinī, but not the others. We say He is the origin of everything but it would be a fallacy to think that He “created” Rādhā and Balarāma. This is the essence of our acintya bhedābheda philosophy – we can’t think of the Absolute Truth as Kṛṣṇa separate from His energies, they are not only always together but also always one and the same.

It might be truly inconceivable, it might be inconceivable to us in our conditioned state but would be clear later on, or we might never fully understand it, but what is clear is that we shouldn’t reduce it to our mundane Lego sets where we can create forms out of building blocks, and if you lose a couple of red ones it’s not a big deal. Nothing can be ever taken away from spiritual realm and we can’t think of what would it look like if sandhinī wasn’t there, for example.

Speaking of us, we are dual substances ourselves – souls trapped in the material bodies. Bodies come from the right side of the Lord, from Balarāma all the way down to Mahā Viṣṇu to the creation of material energy. As souls we represent the left hand as eternal servants of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. When we are combined we get the world going, we, as we currently perceive ourselves, can’t exist without matter, and matter wouldn’t work until it’s impregnated by souls.

When we take to the spiritual path first thing we do is meet our guru. Guru is a representative of the right side, guru is a representative of Balarāma. He teaches us all the right and proper things. In our tradition we don’t care much about non-devotional aspects of life but there are gurus for all sorts of things, from cooking to fighting, and they are all representatives of Balarāma.

Even in ISKCON our gurus are meant to teach and train us in otherwise mundane aspects of our lives, too, from visiting the bathroom to performing yajñas. I mean not the saṇkīrtana but building ceremonial fires, pouring ghee and throwing rice. Somebody has to teach us the specifics and how to do it according to the rules while spiritual purity might or might not be there. If we had this spiritual purity the ceremonial part wouldn’t be strictly necessary.

The point is, we are trained by the right-hand side of the Lord but our destination is the shelter of the left-hand side, the mercy of Śrī Rādhā. The right hand side can teach us everything there is to know about vaidhī and we CAN achieve perfection that way. We might die in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness even without reaching the stage of rāgānugā and return to Kṛṣṇa – mission accomplished.

Our ultimate goal, however, as followers of Rūpa Gosvāmī, is being accepted as servants of the servants of Śrī Rādhā. The right hand path can’t guarantee that. We would probably continue our endeavors to achieve that mercy even after being taken back to the spiritual world, like Gopa Kumāra did in Bhāgavatāmṛta.

Transition to rāgānugā bhakti is still our immediate goal, however. We want the safety of it because this is the only “real” bhakti, vaidhī is just messing around and pretending to know what we are doing. To achieve rāgānugā we need the mercy of a special kind of guru, mercy of a pure devotee.

Ordinarily we don’t make such distinctions in ISKCON where guru means a pure devotee able to bestow bhakti by definition but, if we examine our practices closely, this distinction is still there. A senior devotee teaching us how to perform an ārati acts as our guru but we don’t expect pure bhakti to manifest from receiving these instructions alone. Learning latest trends in webdesign mean approaching gurus but we don’t expect any kind of bhakti from their instructions. Even when our own guru teaches us things we separate them into spiritual and therefore eternal and material and therefore temporary instructions that one day might be forgotten.

From history we know of occasions when one kind of guru needed to be abandoned if another guru, giving pure bhakti, had become an alternative. Those are tricky situations but we always place left-side guru higher than right-side even if we try not to show disrespect to anyone.

Bottom line is that following the right-hand path cannot guarantee devotion and so the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is planning for us and when the left hand is going to make its move and snatch us from the confusion of vaidhi. The material world can become our biggest friend, protecting our devotion from adverse effects of the illusion and keeping us engaged in the service to the Lord, but it can’t bestow devotion. It’s something between us and representatives of Śrī Rādhā. We have to be accepted by Her, not by Kṛṣṇa. Or even if we do become accepted by the Lord as His servants, our devotion won’t be complete and fully satisfying until we also receive acceptance by representatives of Śrī Rādhā.

I might have been speculating all the way but the conclusion is legitimate so the effort shouldn’t have been in vain.

Vanity thought #1435. Pure speculation

Last time I said I won’t speculate on implications of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī being the head of the left-wing gopīs on left-right distinction we have in our world but I can’t restrain myself. I don’t know the first thing about relationships between left-wing and right wing gopīes in Goloka, it’s from the realm I consider myself unqualified to dabble in, and there could be other stuff in that kind of books which would add more weight to my speculations but, perhaps, it would actually become more dangerous because then they would sound more believable, which they shouldn’t.

It’s an eternal dilemma – I don’t know anything about God first hand and our literature can’t possibly cover all the stuff that comes up in this day and age, we ought to speculate to explain contemporary phenomena or the ideas that come into our heads. When I sit down to type up these posts I know that my mind and intelligence would do all the work and much of it would come from speculating rather than from repeating what is said in the śāstra. How much legitimacy can possibly be there?

OTOH, my mind and intelligence are not really mine, they are material elements conditioned by karma, they don’t think up any new thoughts but only expand on my experiences, on the stuff that I heard, stuff that I have been taught, stuff that I heard being explained etc. I’m not in control of my past even if I might have illusions about my present and future, if I haven’t come across a book explaining left and right in the spiritual world there’s nothing I can do about it anymore, so my speculations are simply extensions of the workings of the material energy, and those are directed by the Lord. They are real in a sense material world is real and so the question is not whether they are right or wrong but what would the reader do about it, whether they would help increase somebody’s devotion. Perhaps if someone thinks “this is definitely wrong and a devotee should rather …” then my post is already a success. The only failure in this sense would be if I encourage people to engage in non-devotional activities, so help me God to avoid creating this effect.

Kṛṣṇa’s eternal potencies are divided into hlādinī, sandhinī, and samvit, not into left and right and yet left and right distinction is clearly there. Rādhārāṇī is always on the left of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma is always on the right. Balarāma and Rādhāraṇī perform distinctive roles in Kṛṣṇa’s life so I want to ascribe their respective qualities to these two sides.

Balarāma presides over the sandhinī potency and, with the aid of further expansions, creates all spiritual and material worlds. Everything that there is is a product of Balarāma’s work. Everything He creates is also absolutely perfect and that means this universe, too.

Beings like Prajāpati Dakṣa are meant to embody this perfection and set the world straight. If we follow his instructions we would be following instructions of Balarāma Himself and see the universe as Lord’s energy acting for Lord’s pleasure. It wouldn’t be karma yoga per se, because it would be stripped of the selfish attitude, but in this perfect vision everything we see around us would be considered as good and godly and meant to be utilized in full, as intended. Everything means food, sex, comfort, health, strength, all our desires etc. This is how we would turn our world into Vaikuṇṭha. That’s what Dakṣa wants and that’s what Dakṣa considers perfection in his mission (or whoever serves as the prajāpati now).

All religions in the world reflect this mood and prescribe this righteous course of action. All religions value renunciation, too, but that is the path for selected individuals rather than for the bulk of the society. That’s what varṇāśrama is meant to achieve, too, and there’s no renunciation there for the most visible part.

Whenever we go on anti-sex or anti-women rants and preach renunciation there would always be somebody who’d think we are nuts and don’t know what we are talking about. Properly done all these “material” activities are the source of not only happiness but eventual liberation, too. Progression of dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa is not an arbitrary path and we shouldn’t reject it out of hand. If we haven’t followed it in previous lives we wouldn’t accumulate enough piety to come into contact with devotees so it deserves a proper respect, not rejection.

Balarāma is also an adi-guru so all these “material” things are created for our benefit, to teach us proper lessons, how can we reject them?

That’s what Dakṣa thought when he came across Nārada Muni and he just couldn’t understand how Nārada would not care much for spreading this proper religion, the sole purpose of Dakṣa’s life.

That’s when we leave dakṣinācāra, the right path, and meet representative of vāmācāra, the left path.

On the left of Kṛṣṇa is Rādhārāṇī and She presides over hlādinī potency. Her position is incomparable to ours but She is our ideal as Kṛṣṇa’s servant. We want to be like Her, we want to serve Her, we don’t want to be like Balarāma, even if we value fraternal and parental rasas He presides over. She can bring pleasure to Kṛṣṇa Balarāma can’t, and when they are together Balarāma respectfully leaves.

She is also very bad at following rules and spends most of Her time thinking how to break them. Externally She appears as the opposite of righteousness and I can see how following He could be called a left-hand, tantric path of defiance.

Everybody who is blessed by Her or by Her devotees behaves in the same way, as if the rules do not apply to them. We renounce and reject things considered dear to the followers of the right-hand path and strive for the moment when we can engage in rāgānugā bhakti and defy all rules with impunity.

It often brings us in conflict with those who insist on following vaidhi bhakti to the T first and I’m not going to take sides in those disputes. I would just say that transition from vaidhi bhakti to rāgānugā bhakti is a mysterious one, it can’t be predicted, can’t be forced, most probably it can’t be detected either, not until it’s too late to shoehorn the practitioner back into the vaidhi system.

Our latest agreement is that even if one has achieved rāgānugā platform he’d better behave like a normal sādhaka, just for the peace of mind of those around him. We’ve seen too many alleged rāgānugā practitioners who fell down and we won’t take seriously such claims again any time soon.

In general, it looks like ISKCON is now firmly on the dakṣinācāra path and the right hand has the upper hand for the moment but it’s not a competition. Or is it? Should we resort to truisms like “you need two hands to clap” to resolve these spiritual dilemmas?

More to follow..

Vanity thought #1113. Hail to the Queen

It’s that day again when we celebrate someone’s appearance in this world and every public speech needs to acknowledge this occasion. Everyone obliges, of course, but there are inherent problems with this approach, too.

Words we say in praise of others need to be new and fresh and they need to demonstrate the ever growing depth of our respect for that person, we can’t just say same things five thousand times in a row. What if our respect and appreciation for that person hasn’t grown, however? Should we lie about it? Should we pretend that we’ve gained some new insights?

Or should we say exactly what we feel and if it’s less than last year no one will notice anyway?

I think it’s a sensible solution. Personally, I might feel dissatisfied with my own lack of progress but it won’t affect anyone else. Whether my post fulfills one’s expectations or not doesn’t depend on what I have written on the same subject a year ago, I myself don’t remember what it was exactly either.

Maybe the core of my problem is that I am caught unprepared, that when writing laudatory pieces I feel that I’m not doing my best. The “best” in this case only vaguely related to what was written last year while the new benchmark is determined by more recent entries on related subject. “After I wrote that I should write a lot more on the appearance day” kind of logic.

Either way, it’s Rādhāṣṭamī and I feel myself inadequate for the occasion. I knew this day would come and I thought about and I still failed to prepare myself.

That’s another thing – what does it mean to be “prepared”? Our level of devotion is not going to spike just in time for the holiday, our hearts are not going to become significantly purer to confidently talk about exalted personalities rather than about some stand up comedians who spend their days masturbating. I can’t one day talk about Louis CK and the next day of.., well, I can’t put both these names in one sentence.

On the other hand, preparation is the key to writing a successful tribute. We see it with vyāsa-pūja offerings. We don’t just rattle off whatever comes to our mind, type it up, and send it to the publishers. No one does that. We need to deeply meditate on the subject, find new insights, reach for the purest emotions within our hearts, strip away hypocrisy and other pollutants, and then pray that it’s good enough to be accepted.

We can’t sit on the unfinished tribute forever either, the heightened state of respect and veneration doesn’t last very long and we have a short window to produce something tangible or it will be gone. This is natural, but that is exactly the problem I mean by questioning the meaning of “prepared”.

It’s natural in a sense that every author goes through these stages when writing about each and every subject. Those who write professionally know very well how much time they need to produce each piece of writing. They know their deadlines and they know when to start working so that they submit their articles on time. Start too early and you’ll lose concentration, or, if you finished early, might find something else to add but it would require re-writing the whole thing. Start too late and you’ll be unprepared.

If it’s so natural, what makes our tributes so special? Of course their connection to Kṛṣṇa and His devotees makes them transcendental but I’m talking about using material tools to produce devotional service. It shouldn’t work. Bhakti does not depend on material efforts, and if there’s no bhakti in our writings then what is their worth? Even the best composed offering is worthless without it.

This comes back to the value of sādhana – if we don’t have genuine, spontaneous devotion, we engage in a regulated one, the next best thing. It would not be devotional service per se, ie it would not be ahaituky apratihatā, causeless and unbroken, it would have a beginning and the end, and material motivations, and it would not be anya-abhilāṣitā-śūnyam either. Still it would have some value.

Rather than the visible activity itself the value would be found in our uninterrupted desire to be engaged in service, however imperfectly. This means that it’s not what we do that is important, but that we keep trying to do things no matter what.

From this perspective, we don’t have to produce the best, most eloquent pieces of writing on occasions such as vyāsa-pūja or Rādhāṣṭamī, that would be a materialistic estimate of our efforts. It would depend on external circumstances outside of our control, on how material modes of nature direct our senses and minds during this particular period of time. What if we have a car accident and spend few days in a coma, for example? Our real devotion, real value behind out work, cannot be affect by that, it’s transcendental.

So, an unprepared text is as good as a well thought out one because our underlying devotion doesn’t fluctuate like that. They appear to be different in quality but Kṛṣṇa doesn’t judge us by the work of material gunas, He judges us by the contents of our hearts, which are mostly invisible to our minds, we don’t know them as well as Kṛṣṇa does. He sees us through, we see nothing, we see only our false ego.

The guru and devotees, otoh, see and judge us by our external appearances. A sloppy submission would be rejected and an eloquent one would be accepted regardless of the state of our hearts. The guru would probably see us through but vyāsa-pūja book editors might not.

Anyway, with all these excuses, what do I have to say on the occasion of Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī’s birthday? Have I thought this through? Have I prepared my mind? Have I even tried to purify my heart? No, no, and yes, but not successfully.

The thing is, words are never adequate to describe Her glories and express even the smallest drop of transcendental feelings we should have for Her. We cannot touch Her personality with uncouth words and sounds coming off our tongues. She is the subject we cannot speak about, we are not qualified.

We can only try and repeat what was said by our ācāryas. Apparently, in preparation for this Rādhāṣṭamī Mayapur temple authorities had a series of readings from Kṛṣṇa Book. One day there was some Eastern European mātājī giving Bhāgavatam class and she had some musical instrument with her as she read verses and passages from the books. I don’t know how to feel about these innovations. Gentle sitar, or whatever it was, doesn’t match with thick Eastern European accent. It’s like scratching nails on the blackboard, but that is only my material estimate. I wouldn’t do it myself but I cannot pass judgment on other devotees. Their efforts are appreciated by others and Kṛṣṇa and nobody asked for my opinion.

The other thing I heard, probably on another occasion, is that Śrī Rādhā completes Kṛṣṇa in every respect so He doesn’t need us. I beg to disagree, it’s a very questionable philosophy, imo. Kṛṣṇa is never complete without His devotees, and whether we like it or not but we are His eternal servants, we MUST find a way back home, our places there are vacant.

Does it diminish the role of Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī? No, not in any way except our imaginary one. She is the one who connects everyone to Kṛṣṇa. I would even say that our devotion is an expansion of Hers, we are not independent in our love of God, we can only hope to carry some of Hers in our hearts. Eternal svarūpa or not, She determines whether we are good enough to be presented to the Lord and we learn our service from Her in every respect, including the proper mood.

From where we are now we can’t see Her but She remains our spiritual Queen. When we are ready we will get better acquainted, of course, but for now we are just Her faceless, nameless, unknown subjects She never meets in real life.

Even when Kṛṣṇa descends on this Earth not every one gets a chance to see Him on public occasions, I suspect not every citizen of Ayodhyā got to personally see Lord Rāmacandra either. We are not even born at the same time as Śrī Rādhikā, our place in the big scheme of things is utterly insignificant.

Therefore I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss Her pastimes without reaching the perfect state of purity. It’s not appropriate to discuss Her lotus feet or Her face or any aspect of Her appearance. We should not volunteer to talk about it unless specifically asked or ordered. No one asked me, so I won’t even go there, not today.

I can’t even make myself say “Hail to the Queen!” because that would elicit materialistic connotations and thus pollute Her pristine image. I better just shut up and encourage everyone to remember Her silently or by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.

Vanity thought #1026. Leeching off

A few days ago I discussed our unique devotion and dependence on Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī that separates us from other vaiṣṇavas. There’s more to this topic and I want to touch on some of the implications.

In ISKCON, this realization, that we are actually devotees and servants of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, is considered fairly advanced even in theory. This is not what we tell people first time we meet them on the streets and not even on their first visit to the temple. We don’t mention it in our Bhagavad Gītā classes and one would have listen to great many Śrimad Bhāgavatam lectures to finally hear it.

Even then, we don’t go into any details and we don’t express this philosophical postulate in our external service. We don’t change our mantras, we don’t stop praying to Kṛṣṇa, we don’t start singing bhājanas dedicated to Her, we don’t read books detailing Her service or describing those who are engaged in Her service – nothing, life goes on.

Those of us who jump ship to bābājīs of Vṛṇdāvana, however, make this realization their everyday reality. They greet each other with “Rādhe Rādhe”, for example. We still “Haribol” each other as we meet. They read up on Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes with Rādhārāṇī, we still read Kṛṣṇa book.

Even those who made it out to Gauḍīyā Maṭhas immediately become far more advanced than us, though that’s probably because Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, we allege, took his philosophy from bābājīs rather than from Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, and devotees who leave for other maṭhas go there in search of spiritual highs so they need to be fed highly confidential pastimes to separate them from hoi polloi like us.

Same happens with those who leave for traditional Gauḍīyā gurus in Bengal. Some sort of differentiation from ISKCON is necessary for everyone and this often takes form in devotion to Rādhā, though smoking ganja and sexual exploits as means of self realization are not uncommon, too.

So, Rādhā, our “new” mistress, what should we know about Her and what should we do about it? As far as knowledge goes, we are restricted to books of Śrila Prabhupāda, and for a good reason – we can’t really discuss Her personality if we still maintain anarthas in our hearts.

They think that being devotee of Hers is the height of humility, as clearly follows from a quick look at the situation – it’s really being servants of the servants of the servants rather than trying to approach Kṛṣṇa directly. On reason is that we should realize our contamination and our limitations as devotees, and the other reason is that we should realize that if pleasing Kṛṣṇa is our goal then maximizing His pleasure should be a team effort, with those who are most suited for His enjoyment being placed at the front and those who He has relatively less interest in taking positions in the back.

Sometimes Kṛṣṇa lays His eyes on some girls other than Rādhā and because of Her unique and unsurpassed love for Him She goes to that girl and brings her to Kṛṣṇa, completely forgetting Her personal jealousy.

This is how we are expected to get Kṛṣṇa’s association – He would notice us and then His more intimate servants would come, pick us up, dust us off, maybe do a little make over, and shove us into Kṛṣṇa’s arms.

I also argued that being devotees of Rādhā is a more secure position than being devotees of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa has a very fickle nature and He is as famous for breaking people’s hearts as He is famous for stealing them. Everything about Him spells trouble. Love in separation, as we’ve been taught by Lord Caitanya, is higher and more intense than pleasure of being in His company but by our material standards it’s all a bit too much.

Just think of the time spent by residents of Vṛndāvana in Kṛṣṇa’s company vs time spent without Him. Say, gopīs first noticed Him when He was about seven and He left for Mathura when He was twelve, so that’s five years. If they lived up to a hundred that’s merely five percent of life in love and ninety five percent of life in pain. These are just rough numbers, don’t quote me on this.

Devotees, however, never ever abandon us and if Lord Caitanya was the most merciful avatāra they are even more merciful than Him. His mercy is two fold – first, it’s the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, secondly, it’s the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.

We say that He had two distinct missions in this world, external and internal. External being the preaching of the Holy Name and internal being the tasting of rasas available only to Śrī Rādhā. Preaching, however, is a feature of Rādhārāṇī aspect of His persona. It’s She who wants to engage the entire world in His service, it’s She who looks for quintessential good in each one of us and figures a way to make us useful and pleasing to Kṛṣṇa.

Being servants of the servants of the servants is also our constitutional position so it’s natural for us to seek shelter of devotees rather than Kṛṣṇa directly. With their blessings we can attain bhakti and with bhakti we won’t even need Kṛṣṇa because it’s self-sustainable and independent of His whims.

Bhakti is a reward in itself, it’s more golden than gold itself, so to speak, and it’s given only by other devotees, so, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, here we come, brace Yourself for impact. Thousands and thousands of new devotees have taken shelter of Your feet, declared themselves Your devotees, and there’s nothing You can do about it, ‘cos it’s not in Your nature to turn anyone away.

This is leeching off, however.

Yes, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is always ready to accept new devotees and She would never reject anybody because we are all spirit souls and all meant for Kṛṣṇa’s enjoyment, there are no leftovers or “reject” bins in the spiritual world. Her shelter is the safest position in all worlds, but there’s one crucial component missing – we must give pleasure to Kṛṣṇa to qualify.

In the spiritual world it’s easy, natural, and self-evident but here in the material world things are very different. By nature we are averse to any kind of selfless service, we negotiate exchanges for mutual benefits instead. We are extremely corrupt and this attitude never really goes away.

We want to become Rādhā’s servants because it’s easy. We turn to Her because we smell a good deal, we are more than ready to exploit Her kindness. It’s like economic migrants to America or Europe paying lip service to running away from tyranny and seeking freedom. This type of migration has been going on for decades and it doesn’t fool anybody anymore but people are still trying to cash in on their oppression at home when they make their cases at Immigration.

This is what we do when we pray to Rādhā, too. We hope we’ll get all the benefits of being a devotee without trouble of actually doing anything for Kṛṣṇa. We’ll just hang around Vṛndāvana, chant our rounds, and Rādhārāṇī will do the rest.

We are missing a major point here – She introduces people to Kṛṣṇa only when they are of any interest to Him, She never rejects anyone but only because of their potential, it doesn’t mean She pushes everyone to enjoy Kṛṣna’s company just for the fun of it. Who says He’d enjoy our company in the first place? What have we ever done to deserve being introduced to Him?

We sit there in our rooms, chant our rounds to ourselves, read books for our own enlightenment – how any of that is supposed to please Kṛṣna? What’s in it for Him? Why should He ever care?

Saṅkīrtana is congregational chanting, japa isn’t. We can’t substitute chanting japa together for saṅkīrtana either, we can’t substitute kīrtans together for saṅkīrtana if we engage in them for our own advancement. It’s like “Do I really have to do this in front of other people? Oh well, if it’s absolutely necessary then I guess it’s okay, I’ll do it.”

It’s not like “I very much enjoy my rounds and there will be more enjoyment if we chant together.” It’s not saṅkīrtana, it’s a mutual masturbation society.

Saṅkīrtana means changing people’s hearts, inducing them to love and serve Kṛṣna more and more, it’s not singing in each other’s company, it’s directly affecting each other’s lives. It’s making others into better devotees, and not theoretically, because chanting make everything better, but practically moving other people’s hearts. Easier said than done but then who said pleasing Kṛṣna was easy. It’s simple but it’s not easy.

And for that humility claim – there’s even better, more humble position – to realize our contamination and seek shelter of Lord Nityānanda and our guru because we are totally unqualified to be servants of the servants of anybody else.

We haven’t earned our entry into the real of Vṛndāvana yet, we haven’t got a visa, let alone green card. Instead of trying to gatecrash the party or sneak in on student visa and then stay there illegally, perhaps we should apply traditional Vedic solution – wait until we are born in more suitable bodies. We have plenty to do and many ways to serve in our current position, and that’s what we should do rather than trying to become residents of Vṛndāvana prematurely and without being invited for our actual achievements rather than our potential.

It’s not a place to leech off others’ devotion.

Vanity thought #758. Radhashtami

There are many devotees of Krishna all over India and they’ve been worshiping Him since time immemorial, what separates us, as Gaudiya Vaisnavas, is that we are actually devotees of Srimati Radharani, not the Lord Himself.

It doesn’t make us into some kind of shaktas or Durga worshipers or worshipers of Dan Brown’s “feminie Divine”. We serve Sri Radha because she is the best servant of Krishna, not because She has Her own special powers.

She is not our shelter per se, we do not count on Her protection or Her blessings so that we can have a comfortable lives here or even in the spiritual world. The only blessings we seek is that of service, not any other kinds of boons.

Srila Prabhupada explained it rather succinctly (SB 3.25.7 — Bombay, November 7, 1974):

Krsna means God. We are eternal servant of God. So our duty is to help the master to enjoy. Just like here is Krsna. Srimati Radharani, She is the topmost servitor of Krsna. So Her business is to keep pleased always Krsna. That is the symbolic representation. Radha. Radha means anaya aradhyate. She is serving, the best service. Anaya aradhyate.

It would be abuse of Her service to beg Her to take care of us. She is Krishna’s servant, not ours. She is our leader and in that sense She is our master, too, but, unlike Durga or any other feminine Deity, She does not exist outside of Krishna’s service.

A king might be God’s sincere servant, too, but he also has a kingdom to enjoy himself and share benefits with his citizens. Srimati Radharani is nothing like that. She doesn’t have a kingdom for Herself, She doesn’t have even a grain of sand of Her own, She doesn’t even have a concept of “my own”.

Therefore we shouldn’t think “Oh, I might get this from Sri Radhika, I’m her servant and She is the best Mistress in all the worlds.” She would never give us anything, for it it would mean taking something from Krishna. She would never do that.

Everything belongs to Krishna, if we want some of it for our pleasure it’s okay, we just have to ask politely, but not from Sri Radhika. The idea of seeking our pleasure rules material world and might also be prevalent in Vaikunthas but it doesn’t reach Vrindavana, and especially the gopis.

Another thing – there’s a reason that Her name isn’t mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam. The explanation is that among sages of Naimisharanya, where Bhagavatam was spoken, were some who didn’t have enough purity to hear the glories of Sri Radha.

Do you think internet is a more suitable place?

I sincerely hope people averse to the service of the Lord would never ever see posts like this. We cannot comprehend Sri Radhika’s glory with our material, polluted minds, and we can never express this glory by our material, polluted tongues.

So the best way to celebrate Srimati Radharani’s appearance in public forum is by chanting Hare Krishna mantra, which, incidentally, repeats Her name eight times, comparing to four for Krishna and four for Rama – this should tell us something about our priorities.

Hare Krishna

Vanity thought #404. Celebrating Gaurakishora style

Appropriately clueless, the error number 404 is just a sign that I do not have necessary resources to display any useful information regarding today’s holiday.

In light of my recent thoughts on the subject I decided to celebrate it Gaurakishora style. Once Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji declared that he was going to celebrate some vaishnava holiday. Next day some of his followers gathered in anticipation of a big feast but he deflated their enthusiasm by saying that his kind of celebration means fasting and chanting extra rounds of japa, nothing more.

Considering the gravity of the situation it’s better not to pollute the world with thoughts of extra feasts, sumptuous prasadam or allegedly high-minded talks on esoteric matters, I can do this any other time.

To actually understand the import of the appearance day of Srimati Radharani requires full and unshakable knowledge of samdanha jnana, a fully realized understanding of our constitutional position. Short of that realization everything that comes out of our mouths is actually namaparadha.

Usually discussing transcendental pastimes is beneficial for the conditioned souls as it helps us to overcome the namaparadha stage but today is not an ordinary day. Our desire to dabble in pastimes of Radha and Krishna is materialistic in nature but by indulging it we also purify it just like we purify our desire to eat by consuming prasadam or we purify our sexual desire by trying to produce children. Bottom line – we do these things for our own satisfaction, we simply try to get the best deal out of our infatuation with our own bodies.

If, for one day, we suspend this self-indulgence and limit ourselves only to chanting the Holy Names, that would be a real sacrifice showing our real desire to please the objects of our devotion.

We can’t maintain such a strict regiment forever, only on special occasions, and today is the most appropriate one.

On appearance days of Krishna or Lord Chaitanya we can expect some extra mercy and some extra leeway, hoping that the Lord won’t mind granting us some of our materialistic wishes (better food, louder kirtanas etc). Srimati Radharani, however, is not Krishna. Krishna might forgive us but for Her indulgence in any kind of selfish desires is very offensive towards the Lord, I bet She could only sigh watching us wasting the few remaining days of our lives on something so frivolous.

Let me put it a bit differently – watching us fishing for some extra benefits on days when we are supposed to give everything and more to Krishna is upsetting for Her. Krishna might not mind but She does. We cannot expect Her mercy in this situation because our desire to have some fun for ourselves is directly opposite to what She wants from us and what She might be eager to grant.

This is why I think Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji style of celebrating vaishnava holidays is more appropriate for serious sadhakas. Let’s try and rein in our minds for the day, let’s celebrate by putting more efforts into avoiding offenses while chanting and reading extra pages from Bhagavad Gita or Srimad Bhagavatam describing spiritual ABCs – we are not the bodies, we should not be following the interests of our bodies, we should not underestimate our fallen position and we should not pretend to have any taste for the Holy Name and pastimes of the Lord.

Let’s try to be smaller and humbler, let’s not claim any spiritual rights and let’s not inflate our egos by pretending to be ready to talk about Srimati Radharani. There are devotees who are obliged to deliver these talks and we are obliged to listen to them very attentively but let’s also remember that proper spiritual conclusion from listening to these talks is realization of our total inadequacy.

If we expect increase in our self esteem, or if we perceive any increase in our self esteem, than we are simply deluding ourselves.

Maybe if we are able to pull this little sacrifice we will be able to bow down with utmost sincerity and offer our prayers to Srimati Radharani.

Even if we fail, there will be another day or another year. We should not dare approaching Her in our thoughts while imagining ourselves having accomplished anything, as if claiming something we deserved by acquiring some service points. Even a slightest thought in the line of “now I’m ready” immediately disqualifies us.

Today I caught myself many a time diverting my thoughts from serving the Lord, what to speak of the purity. Unfortunately even a fallen situation does not qualify one to worship Sri Radhika. Her attention is the rarest gift for all conditioned souls, we shouldn’t be expecting it here, only after our liberation and only after we are fully engaged in serving the Lord on a fully transcendental platform.

I just realized that the more I talk the more I entangle myself. Let’s stop for now and chant an extra round or something instead.

Vanity thought #403. What acharyas said

Even if superficially, but for many devotees their desire to serve Sri Radhika has led them to search for uttama adhikari gurus capable of introducing them into sacred ashtakaliya pastimes of the Divine Couple. I know some people who are on their third guru and counting.

Interestingly, this desire to advance at all costs is not new in any way. Even a hundred years ago Bengal and Vrindavana were filled with sadhus and babajis offering siddha pranali to practically anyone who asked. The topic of siddha pranali is too big to casually address here but the underlying desire to become intimate servants of Srimati Radharani is the same.

Let’s see what our acharyas had to say about this. GBC simply forbids receiving such instructions on the side. Srila Prabhupada was quite heavy in dealing with gopi bhava club, let’s have a look at what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and others before him said in this regard.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati coined the phrase “first deserve, then desire”, he compared such instructions to teaching five year olds about intricacies of adult sexual behavior. He quoted Srila Gaurakishora Dasa as saying “A woman cannot produce a child simply by screaming and simulating labor pains” in relation to one devotee’s display of high level of renunciation and devotion.

He said that even if his father, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, had described manjari sadhana he also warned against premature attempts to engage in it. One might try to develop transcendental emotions in this way but without proper purification and transcendental strength he would develop the opposite inclinations.

He described devotees giving such instructions as pseudo-gurus and their disciples as pseudo-renunciates. Unfortunately, even his own brother is known to have offered siddha pranali to ISKCON devotees who later “fell down” and to this day exhibit quite unhealthy and envious attitude towards fellow vaishnavas, incompatible with necessary level of realization for such exalted practice.

He compared such attempts to trying to light an opium pipe with the fire located on the other side of the river, the river of one’s anarthas.

He considered it to be offensive and preposterous for persons still afflicted by foul sexual desires to discuss loving pastimes of Sri Radha and Krishna. He reminded of Bengali saying about premature ripened jackfruit – it appears mature but has no actual fruit inside and should be thrown away.

He set very high standards for anyone desiring to discuss even the content of the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. I doubt any one of us would honestly agree that he is ready.

Thus, even if we know about our ultimate destination we are advised to keep our mouths shut unless we are qualified to utter words absolutely free of all material contamination. There’s a lot to be said about proper way of achieving such qualification but let’s keep it for another day.

Devotees who, in addition to everything above, also left the shelter of their gurus and acharyas in our disciplic succession, implying that our gurus aren’t advanced enough, are not making their progress any easier. It’s clear that they are rejecting opinions of not only ISKCON gurus but also pillars of the modern vaishnavism, acharyas of irreproachable realization, knowledge and character. I don’t know what good can ever come out of it.

In the light of the above – I have nothing to say about Srimati Radharani Herself. I wish I had but unless it’s based on real appreciation it’s better to be left unsaid. It’s fairly easy to type up a few hundred words and even feel something about it but just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

Vanity thought #402. What a Queen is

It is quite common to call Srimati Radharani the Queen of Vraja and to talk about us as Her devotees but these kind of declarations might be a little misunderstood.

First of all, She is not like queen Elisabeth, She is not that kind of queen. She is also not the queen of a beehive or an ant hill. We are also not worshipers of a “female Divine” ala Da Vinci code. Those are all interesting conceptions of what a queen is but they are inapplicable our case.

No matter what we say, we are not gunning for some kind of matriarchy, we are not some kind of worker bees collecting stuff to please our queen, though we do have something in common with worker ants – those guys are actually girls serving to protect and support their queens. They can’t even eat the food they collect themselves – it needs to be processed back at the colony and regurgitated for their consumption.

In that way we are somewhat similar when we see ourselves as aspiring servants of the gopis but still their concept of queen doesn’t apply to us.

As a religious group we might be confused with shaktas or those “Sacred Feminine” cults that probably don’t really exist, we are not milking power of female counter potency of God and we are not putting shakti above shaktiman, prakriti over purusha. Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Personality of Godhead, the creator and the maintainer of all the worlds, there’s nothing and no one above Him.

Yet still we are praying for the mercy of the Queen of Vraja as our ultimate destination. After we obtained the mercy of our guru, the mercy of Lord Nityananda, the mercy of Lord Chaitanya and even the mercy of Krishna Himself – our lives won’t be complete without the mercy of Srimati Radharani and the shelter of Her lotus feet.

Perhaps only the select few of us will ever actually get there but the rest of us still knows that our own efforts to please Krishna even on the liberated platform are incomparable to the pleasure given to Him by Srimati Radharani.

To put is simple – we serve our Queen because she serves our Lord better than we do it ourselves. We do not see Her position as in any way independent of Krishna, as having any kind of independent power, like, for example, Lord Balarama has.

Oh, and She isn’t even a queen in a traditional sense, and Krishna isn’t a King either, at least in the eyes of the elders of Vrindavana, it’s our own little secret. Nanda Maharaj and Maharaj Vrishbhanu are the kings, and Kamsa is the emperor, let everybody think that but for Gaudiya vaishnavas this external recognition isn’t necessary just as daily engagements and social obligations of the gopis do not reflect their true nature and aspirations.

We have our own secret code and our own secret handshakes and our own make believe world with our own King and Queen and I hope we will never grow out of it and we get to relive those sweet days of teenage youth ever and ever again. It’s a good thing there’s no time in the spiritual world, after all.