Binod Bihari Das Babaji

17 10 2008

Today I received the great good fortune of having the darshan of the elevated bhajananandi mahatma Sri Binod Bihari Das Babaji. I had not seen him for more than a year when unexpectedly I met him at Jagannath Mandir this morning while out on Radhakund parikrama. His jata were untied and they hung down below his knees. He was an effulgent, beautiful and purifying sight! He is staying in Radhakund for Niyam-seva. He invited me to his kutir and I just returned from my visit.  He never fails to impress me with his humility and sweet, loving nature.  He asks me some questions by jotting them down on a notepad (he is doing mauna-vrata) and I reply.  I tried to give him some pranami, but as is always the case he refuses to accept any money.  Just to illustrate his humility and Vaisnavatva I will share this part of our exchange.  I asked him to please be kind to me and allow me to serve him at least in some small way. He grabbed his notepad and wrote, “please bless me.” Of course, this is unimaginable so I just smile and shake my head. After that he gave me a large plate of fruit prasad, but not before inviting me to come and visit him at his ashram in Barsana after Niyam-seva. Whenever I see him a desire to go deeper in my sadhan and bhajan manifests in my heart.

vaiSNava caraNa reNu     bhUSaNa koriyA tanu
 yAhA hoite anubhava hoy |
mArjana hoy bhajan     sAdhu saGge anukSaNa
 ajJAna avidyA parAjaya  || PBC 7 ||

“Adorn your bodies with the foot-dust of the Vaisnavas, so you will gain transcendental experience. By constantly performing bhajan in the company of saints you will be purified and ignorance will be destroyed.”

sAdhu saGga sAdhu saGga sarva zAstre hoy
lava matra sAdhu saGge sarva siddhi hoy 

“Associate with the saints! Associate with the saints! This is what all the scriptures say. By associating with a saint for only a moment all perfection is attained!”

ayaM hi paramo lAbho nRNAM sAdhu samAgamaH || BhP 12.10.7 ||
“Association with holy men is the greatest good fortune that can befall one!”


Sharad Purnima and the Rasa-lila

15 10 2008


Last night was Sharad purnima and the full moon rose in spectacular fashion in the evening sky of Radhakund.  It was during this time that the rasa-lila of the Srimad Bhagavatam took place.  

bhagavAn api tA rAtRiH zAradotphulla-mallikAH |
vIkSya rantuM manaz cakre yogamAyAm upAzritaH || BhP 10.29.1 ||

tadoDurAjaH kakubhaH karair mukhaM
prAcyA vilimpann aruNena zantamaiH |
as carSaNInAm udagAc chuco mRjan
priyaH priyAya iva dIrgha-darzanaH || BhP 10.29.2 ||

dRSTvA kumudvantam akhaNDa-maNDalaM
ramAnanAbhaM nava-kuNkumAruNam |
vanaM ca tat-komala-gobhI raJjitaM
jagau kalaM vAma-dRSAM manoharam || Bhp 10.29.3 ||

Noting the advent of the Sarat season whose nights were fragrant with mallika flowers in bloom, Krishna, employing the help of his yogamaya, decided to enact his long-promised play with the gopis. 2. The moon rose giving relief to people from heat and gently painting the face of the eastern horizon crimson with his rays, as a lover long-separated from his beloved would sprinkle her face with kunkum dust. 3. Seeing the crimson disk of the moon, full like the fresh kunkum dusted face of ramA herself, and the wood of Brindavan beautified by the pleasant rays of that moon, Krishna sounded his flute, ravishing the hearts of all women.

Sri Visvanath Cakravartipad notes in his sArArtha-darzini TikA on the first verse that although out of season, the jasmine (mallikAH) flowers were blossoming in the autumn.  In the next chapter, verse eleven also states, “At the time of the rAsa dance, the garland of jasmine (kunda) flowers on Krishna’s neck became tinged with the kunkuma from Radha’s breasts.”  Thus it should be understood that the jasmines were blossoming out of season in the autumn.  Verse forty-five of this chapter says, “The gentle wind bore the fragrance of day-lotus (kumudAmoda-vAyunA).”  Although  these lotuses do not bloom at night, it is understood that on this special night the lotuses also blossomed.  Such is the superexcellent charm of Vrindavana, that the lotus flowers open even during the night. 

The blooming of things not in season reminded me of a verse from utkalikA-vallari and Sripad Ananta Das Pandit’s comments on it:

tavAraNye devi dhruvam iha murArir viharate
sadA preyasyeti zrutir api virauti smRtir api |
iti jJAtvA vRnde caraNam abhivande tava kRpAM
kuruSva kSipraM me phalatu tarSa viTapI || UV 3 ||

O Vrinda-devi! The srutis and smrtis all proclaim that Krishna Murari always sports in your forest Sri Vrindavana with His dearest Sri Radhika! Knowing this, I praise your lotus feet. Please make the tree of my desire (to love Them) bear fruit!

He comments here that Rupa Goswami is praying to Vrinda Devi: “O Vanadevi!, in this way the Vilasi Mithuna, Radha and Madhava, have given Themselves to you by engaging you in so many different services!  If you want to, you can give me that treasure also! Please make the tree of my aspirations bear fruit.”  In other words, just as on your order the trees and vines of Brindavan bear fruits and flowers, even out of season. So, even though I have not done much sadhan or bhajan please allow the tree of my aspirations to bear fruit and grant me prema.

Jatila performs kirtan for milk

12 10 2008

Jatila had a black cow that was out in the pasture one day watching Krishna milk and fondle his cows.  Jatila’s cow thought, “Why doesn’t Krishna do that to me?” Feeling sad, the cow made a vow, “If Krishna doesn’t milk me with his own hands, then I won’t give milk at all anymore!”  The next morning when Jatila went to milk her cow, it mooed and backed away, knocking over the bucket.  Jatila furrowed her brow and wondered, “What is wrong?” She tried again and her cow reacted in the same way.  She began to think, “Someone must have used black magic to put a spell on my cow.  How will I get her to give milk?”  

Just then Lalita Sakhi was coming to see Radhika.  “Mother, what is the matter?” asked Lalita. Jatila told her everything. Lalita was delighted at the wonderful opportunity presenting itself. “Yes,” said Lalita, “I know someone who knows the proper mantras to counteract the spell and your cow will soon give milk again.” Jatila asked, “Who is that?”  “Nanda Baba’s son, Krishna,” replied Lalita.  

Jatila’s eyes rolled and she cried, “Alas!  If this boy Krishna comes to our house, the family will be ruined.”

“Don’t you remember?” asked Lalita, “Krishna saved us by holding Govardhan parvat on his little finger, and by killing the demoness Putana and others.  The boy is a wonder.  He can surely cure your cow.” 

“I don’t think so.  Everyone agrees Narayana manifested himself in Krishna, and that’s how he did all those things.”

“No, that’s not the truth. He did all those things on his own.”

Jatila became quiet.  “Well… if we don’t call him, then the spell will not be lifted, and the cow will not give milk.  Ok then, let us call him.  Where is he?”

“One may search day and night without finding him.  Instead, you should call his name.  If you call his name again and again he will surely come.”

“Not possible!  If I call the name of Krishna aloud our whole dynasty will be shamed.  How can I do this?”

“No need, you can say it softly.”

With an uneasy heart Jatila began to repeat softly, “Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna…”, but Krishna didn’t appear.  Then she said, “Oh, how will Krishna hear if I speak so softly.  What the heck? Let me speak it aloud… KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA…” after a minute Jatila’s feet began to move.  Her body swayed to and fro, and her arms rose into the air.  “What is this, Lalita!  I am an old lady, but Krishna’s name is making me dance like anything!  KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA!!”  

Just then Krishna arrived, dressed in his enchanting cowherding outfit, adorned with sandal paste and mineral pigments, with a turban on his head fitted with a peacock’s tailfeather and a flute in his belt.  When the hard-hearted old lady Jatila saw him, her hard old heart melted.  She thought, “What is this?  I am an old lady, but this Krishna is enchanting my heart.  If he is this attractive, then how can I blame my Radha for being enchanted by him as well?”

“Old lady, what is the trouble?  Why did you call me here?” asked Krishna.  Lalita explained everything.  Krishna caressed the cow and looked into her eyes.  “No spell has been placed on this cow.  Just bring the calf here and let it drink.  Then pull the calf away and milk the cow as usual.  There will be no problem.”  Lalita brought the calf and let it drink.  Jatila tried to pull the calf away, but the calf was too strong and she slipped.  Jatila fell down, and the calf fell on her chest. (Which signifies that if one tries to obstruct someones bhakti they will get punished). Lalita and Krishna helped her to stand up.  

“You call Radha here,” Jatila said to Lalita.  “Together you three youngsters can handle the calf.”  Radha came and the three of them pulled away the calf and tied it.  Then Krishna began to milk the cow.  After one bucket was filled, Lalita suggested that Jatila take the bucket inside (so that Radha and Krishna could talk to each other).  Jatila said, “No, my back aches.  Radha you take the bucket inside.  While you are there, bring some sugar crystals in a pot to mix with fresh milk.  Then, you take Krishna to your room and feed him the milk, sweets, and whatever he likes.  Make him happy.  I am going now to see Kutila.  I will get her to massage my aching back with oil.”

Then Jatila left, and Lalita took Radha and Krishna into Jatila’s house. That day, Radha served Krishna in her own room to her heart’s content.  The sakhis chided Radha from outside the latticed windows.  “O Radhey! Every night you meet Krishna in some kunja or another, but today you are so audacious that you are enjoying with Krishna in your own room at midday, and by Jatila’s orders on top of it!  How amazing!”


(From lila-kirtan that was performed the other day at Radha-Binod Mandir in Radha Kund)

Throwing yourself in the fire

8 10 2008


Baya Baba

Baya Baba

An Orissan bhakta named Kshetravasi had searched earnestly for a guru for over twelve years.  In that time he sought out many sadhus, but none was his true guru.  He was feeling completely hopeless and distraught and felt that he had no power to go on.  He remembered something that Sri Aurobindo had said, “throw yourself in the fire and God will be there.”  He had heard that if one commits suicide at Puri by throwing oneself under the wheels of Jagannath’s cart, that the person’s desire is fulfilled in the next life.  So, he resolved to end his life on Ratha Yatra day with Jagannathdev as a witness.  On that day he went to the temple road to wait for the cart.  First Baladev’s cart sped by, and then Subhadra Devi’s.  Last came Jagannath’s cart.  As the cart approached, Kshetravasi ran towards the cart and flung himself on the ground.  At that moment Jagannath’s cart stopped.  Kshetravasi fainted senseless on the ground.  When he regained consciousness that evening he found that some sadhus had brought him to an ashram near Narendra Sarovar.  They told him stories about their Guru, Sri Baya Baba. He was impressed by their mood and their talks and desired to have his darshan.  He was told that Baya Baba was now in Cuttack and that perhaps he could meet him there.

Kshetravasi now felt some hope and prayed, “If you are really my Guru, I will be able to see you there in Cuttack.”  When Kshetravasi arrived, there was kirtan going on outside of Baya Baba’s room, and a crowd waiting to bid him farewell.  A car was packed and waiting for over half an hour to take Baba to Kendrapara, but Baba just continued to wait in his room and no one knew why.  Kshetravasi arrived and went in to make his obeisance to Baba, but before he could speak, Baba rose up and said, “So you’ve come!  Then, Baya is going.  You come along with me to Kendrapara.”  

Kshetravasi had never met Baba before, but without anyone informing him, Baba waited over half an hour for his arrival.  How did he know?  Perhaps Jagannath Dev had informed him in meditation?  Or, as Kshetravasi (now our dear gurubhai known as Karunakar Das Babaji) puts it, “Such a siddha baba is all-knowing.  In both the prakat and aprakat (manifest and unmanifest) time, he performs such lilas with his disciples.”

Kshetravasi’s long time desire was now fulfilled.  He received diksha a couple of days later and he recounts some of the details…”I was asked to sit cross-legged on the floor and face to face directly in front of Baya Baba who was seated in the same fashion.  He held my hands and closed his eyes for a while, then he placed my hands on his thighs and tilted my head towards him and breathed the mantras in my ears.  Baya Baba’s body trembled and I could feel his tears dripping on my thighs as he infused me with his bhava-sakti.”

Repentant Krishna

8 10 2008

atha katham api yAminIM vinIya
smara-zara-jarjaritApi sA prabhAte 
anunaya-vacanaM vadantam agre
praNatam api priyam Aha sAbhyasUyam 

rajani-janita-guru-jAgara-rAga-kaSAyitam alasa-mineSam
vahati nayanam anurAgam ive sphuTam udita rasAbhinivezam

hari! hari! yAhi mAdhava yAhi kezava mA vada kaitava-vAdaM
tAm anusara sarasIruha-locana yA tava harati viSAdam (refrain 1)



Thereafter, Radha somehow or other managed to pass the night. When morning came, Krishna fell at her feet and tried to pacify her wrath with humble words. Although Radha was severely injured by the arrows of Cupid, on seeing her dear lover present before her in a submissive mood and expressing his feelings of separation, she began to speak to him in a jealous temper.

“Madhava, go! Kesava, go away! Do not speak deceptive words! Go to the woman who can take away your sorrow! Your tired eyes are slowly closing because you were fully alert throughout the night. They are reddish from your absorption in the mellows of lovemaking and even now they express a powerful and increasing attachment for that beautiful vraja-gopi.”

(Gita Govinda–Act Eight, verse 1&2)


Brooding Love

4 10 2008


Your moon-faced love
Had never guessed
That parting hurts.
Radha is tortured,
Dreading you will leave.
Love has robbed her of all power,
She sinks clasping the ground.

Kokilas call,
Startled, she wakes
Only to brood again.
Tears wash the make-up
From her breasts.
Her arms grow thin,
Her bracelets slide to the ground.
Radha’s head droops in grief.
Her fingers scar the earth
Bleeding your name.

Siddha Krishna Das Babaji of Govardhan

3 10 2008

Today we observe the tirobhav tithi of Siddha Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj of Govardhan and pray for his kripa that our bhajan will be successful.  I attached a .pdf of the chapter on Siddha Baba from The Saints of Vraja by O.B.L. Kapoor for those who haven’t read it.