English issues

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2018 evening, Sofia)

First of all, I have to express my gratitude to my masters, to all the predecessor devotees, who had maintained the flame of devotion, and to all of you, because you give me a chance to remember what I have learned from my masters.

This year will be very prosperous. But it depends on us as well. All the external conditions are favourable; now we need to add our inner commitment. And in order to accomplish this very beautiful and enlivening job, we shall take the advice of Shrila Rupa Goswami on how to perfect our life.

These days we have been discussing the different relationships to the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Some of the people are connected to God in a neutral way, just believing that He exists and trusting His care and protection. This is very good, but shall we stop here? Let’s go one step further. What was the essence of this neutral connection – that we can maintain our spiritual consciousness. That’s good. But if we want to take one step further, we need to come to the servitude of the Supreme Lord – to be connected in a positive, loving, serving attitude. There is some active feedback after this conviction that God is there.

And after this servitude, this willingness to fulfil the desire of the Supreme – I think it’s something very high, you act according to the divine will, it’s great – there is one step further and this is our discussion now. The friendship mood – to establish a friendly relationship with God. But this is something very intimate; to have a good friend is very good feeling. So, if you can consider the Supreme as your friend, you feel well. Please act and purify yourself in such a way that if He has to consider you as His friend, He also feels good.

“As far as the friend in Vrindavana are concerned, they become greatly distressed when they cannot see Krishna even for a moment.”[1]

This is real friendship – you cannot tolerate not being connected, you cannot tolerate that your friend is missing from your vision. I think we all have people whom we cannot tolerate around us. But we hardly have any friend without whom we cannot survive a moment. This means that friendship, this mood of fraternity, is a very intense connection.

There are some special friends of Krishna, usually emotionally surcharged ones, of the opposite gender. Because Krishna is the male in Vrindavana and some of His friends are girls with some emotional surplus. And they can also hardly tolerate not being able to see Krishna permanently. Although they are village girls, nevertheless they are very well educated in anatomy and also in the details of creation – so, theology. They know that the body, with all its pros and cons, was designed by Brahma. And they curse Brahma for a mistake. “Brahma, you made a mistake designing this human body. Because we have eyelids and our eyelids sometimes need to blink. And when we close the eyelids, for that blink of an eye we don’t see Krishna. So, we curse you, you did wrong. Your job is half-perfect.”

You see, half-perfect. That means not perfect. There is no half-perfection; either perfect, or not. So, that means ‘Your job is totally wrong. What kind of design is that – that you made the human beings to blink. For that time we don’t see Krishna.’

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of devotion, Ch. 41



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2018 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Question of Krishna Priya: You mentioned а few things that were really impressive to me. One was self-realization, the second was turning the mind into a friend, and the third was the shadow. All this transformation is connected to the chanting. Could you please say more about this? Because earlier you mentioned the neglecting our spiritual practise, which happens sometimes.

Swami Tirtha: Yes, this was a miserable service. Miserable service is aparadha. Aradhanam is ‘worship’; apa-radha, a-radha is ‘against the worship’. Chanting or japa meditation is just like connecting to a current.

Have you seen, in some stupid action movies, when some electric current is just running around the guy? So this is when you are really connected to your chanting. That high voltage energy is coming over you. You are connected to that very strong current. That means you are surcharged with special spiritual energies. How can we miss that chance?

This is also like a talk to the Supreme. This is our conviction, this is our hope. I’d better say: this is our hope that by the blessings of the Lord, who comes in the world of words as the holy name, He will convert us. And as we like to call our friend by their name, chanting is also calling God in this friendly mood by His name.

They say that by the grace and by the blessings of the holy name the impossible becomes possible. And this is something special that other groups of religious people usually don’t do, don’t practice. So, it’s better that we provide this practice to the Supreme. There are many different flowers that are offered to the Supreme, but the holy name is a special and very favourite flower in His garden.

Actually, the holy name is very special, there is a description in the Krishna Book. There is a question of Parikshit Maharaja: “How is it possible to approach, or to understand, or to establish a connection with the absolutely transcendental God? Because we are limited by the material energy. We are limited by the mind, the senses, the body and this and that. Matter overpowers us; how can we reach God? Impossible! How can material words describe transcendence? Impossible!” But then it is said that the holy name is totally, fully, completely divine. It can penetrate the layers of matter – first form above and then maybe from our lips as well. Somebody brings the holy name to this world – therefore we have to vibrate that, we have to reflect that. Like an echo. So, be a good friend of the holy name. Then it will automatically share its qualities.

Otherwise, the holy name is called the touchstone which is able to convert any material condition into spiritual. So, if it touches our heart and mind once – it is enough. One touch is enough to convert, to turn everything into gold. But this one chance should be real. Therefore we have to repeat it many times – so that at least one is real. Don’t say: ‘Yes, yes, I don’t chant, because one is enough. One holy name will accomplish everything’. How many millions of times do you have to chant half-perfectly in order to, by chance, have one perfect. Better I say, by mistake to have it properly. When you are negligent, when you don’t pay attention – then it will happen.

And you think that it’s a joke, but it’s not. Because as long as we chant from the mind, from controlled yoga, focus, power, self-control, or whatever – it’s not real. When it comes from your mouth automatically – just like as I mentioned, if you wake up from a nightmare and immediately you call it – that’s real, that’s real. Because it’s not coming from the mental plane, it’s coming directly from the soul. This is the quality that we need.

 



May

31

(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2018 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

So, we can be attracted to Krishna in so many ways with a friendly mood.

“How the sons of Pandu, the Pandavas, enjoy Krishna’s association is described as follows: “When Shri Krishna’s arrived in Indraprastha, the capital of the Kurus, Maharaja Yudhishthira immediately came out to smell the flavor of Krishna’s head. It is the Vedic custom that a superior smells the heads of his subordinates when the subordinates offer respect to the superior by touching his feet.”[1]

Have you observed this? Fathers are always doing that; when they have their sons in their lap they immediately, naturally, subconsciously smell their head. And they are not interested in the shampoo, that’s not the case. But there is a very special smell, a very special vibration coming from the top of the scull. Smell is a very basic information. The molecules of the smell directly reach the brain through the olfactory systems.

Do you remember your first day entering the ashram? You were charmed by the smell. ‘Ah, such an incense! Such a prasadam.’ Because smell is a very basic information. And then it is connected to this feeling of returning home.

In the old times people were writing love letters to each other. I know that this is very much outdated, something from the previous century. But, you know, love letters were always with some scent. Why? Because if you open them, immediately you feel the smell of your lover. But just see how degraded our age is! Can you have a 5D SMS? All is very technical these days. Even love is very technical, courting is very technical. No romantic affairs anymore. So, please, don’t come to me with any romantic stories.

So, smelling the head is an exchange of information. Just observe this next time when you see a father with a baby in his lap. Immediately he will do this. When I first read about this I didn’t believe it and I said: “Maybe it’s some strange unknown for me Indian habit.” But then I started to check and it’s always like this, it happens automatically. This is a very subtle loving exchange. Because smell is such a deep-rooted information. And actually on the top of the scull you don’t smell the head, but you smell the crown chakra. So, this is a spiritual connection. So beautiful!

So, Yudhishthira as a superior was smelling Krishna’s head. The other Pandavas similarly “Arjuna and Bhīma embraced Krishna with great jubilation”. This is their exchange on the equal platform.

“The two younger brothers, namely, Nakula and Sahadeva, touched the lotus feet of Krishna with tears in their eyes and offered their respects. In this way all the five Pandava brothers enjoyed the fraternal friendship of Krishna in transcendental mellow.

Of the five Pandavas, Arjuna is the most intimately connected with Krishna. He has a nice bow called Gandiva in his hand. His thighs are compared to the trunks of elephants, and his eyes are always reddish. When Krishna and Arjuna are together on a chariot, they become celestial beauties, pleasing to the eyes of everyone. It is said that once Arjuna was lying on his bed with his head upon Krishna’s lap and was talking and joking with Krishna in great relaxation, enjoying Krishna’ company with smiling and great satisfaction.”[2]

So much for today. Just to get a little introduction, a little glimpse into devotional friendship. Devotional friendship also means – share the possessions and share the ideals.

(to be continued)

 

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Ch 41

[2] Nectar of Devotion, Ch 41



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2018 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

May I tell you one example of a deep, deep devotional friendship relationship?

In the old times in Nandafalva – many of you have been there – we had a small temple- room, and this was the only room that we could use for sleeping as well. So during the day it was a place of worship, during the night it was a place for slumber. Now I’ll tell you one more story. You know, we were sleeping so closely, like herrings: the first place was for Janardhan prabhu, the second for Krishnananda and all the rest came after. So, one night I awoke and what did I see? You know, the Tulasi plants were on a nice and strong little table and it was under the window. And I saw the youngest of us during the night stepping on this table and trying to open the window. He was in a lunatic trans. He was opening the window to go out during the night. I said: “Hey, Prabhu! Not that way, go back to your sleeping bag.” And then he went back to his sleeping bag. Just imagine, if the ashram was on the tenth floor!

But what I wanted to tell you about real friendship: one of our devotees had some bad dream, some nightmare. He suddenly awoke during the night, and somehow I was awake as well, so what did I see? That he is jumping and shouting and immediately catching the hand of his friend, his devotional brother, and calling his name. Then I understood that their relationship is real. For me this is the standard of devotional friendship. When you awaken from a nightmare, immediately you grab the hand of your brother and you call his name. Not God’s name, not your name, not the name of your nightmare, but the name of your friend. I think this we can accept as a real, truly real connection. It’s like a natural flow, the first thought.

(to be continued)



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2018 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

All right, we understand that there is friendship as a relationship between human beings. Sometimes with some pros, sometimes with some cons, but it’s there. But what about the divine relationships, what about the spiritual relationships as friendship? Now this is our topic. As it was mentioned, a real friend likes whatever you have, likes everything about you. And you also like everything about him. “A yellow garment, such a nice garment. I also want to have such a garment!” So, sharing: “Whatever you have, I also want to possess, and I definitely want to give you whatever I have.”

Once, one godbrother of Gurudev gave him a donation. He was also a sanyasi like Gurudev. And Gurudev said: “No, how can I accept a donation from a renounced person?! I cannot accept any donation from you.” And then his friend said: “No, no, you have to accept it, because I know it is in a very good place in your pocket. Even if you buy ice cream with that, it’s much better with you then with me.” You see, such a friendly exchange! Not official, but friendly. Whatever I have, you will also have. As long as I have a chapati, you will also have a chapati. Very beautiful!

“There are similar statements of fraternal love expressed outside the jurisdiction of Vrindavana. When the sons of Pandu, headed by Maharaja Yudhishthira, saw Krishna in His four-handed form on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, holding His conch shell, disc, club and lotus flower, they completely forgot themselves and became merged in the ocean of nectarean happiness. This shows how the sons of Pandu – King Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva – were all caught up in fraternal love for Krishna.”[1]

So, here we see when Krishna ignites the fire of devotional sentiments towards friendship.

“Sometimes the different names, forms, paraphernalia and transcendental qualities provoke fraternal love. For instance, Krishna’s nice dress, His strongly built body, the all-auspicious symptoms on His body, His knowledge of different languages, His learned teachings in Bhagavad Gita, His uncommon genius in all fields of endeavour, His exhibition of expert knowledge, His mercy, His chivalry, His behaviour as a conjugal lover, His intelligence, His forgiveness, His attraction for all kinds of men, His opulence and His happiness all provoke fraternal love.”

So there is a lot to invite us to be enchanted with this Krishna. And wherever you see the symptoms or the signs of a real spiritual friendship, we are ready to worship that, to admire that. Because that is something real.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Ch 41



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2018 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

You know, a good friend, a real friend is your second self. But how to find that in spiritual life? To have a second self, what it is called in psychology? Alter ego, schizophrenia? It’s got different names, but that‘s like a break, like a fisher in our consciousness, in our identity. Is this your friend!? Usually such а second identity is your enemy. And the big problem comes when your weaker ego and your false ego are fighting with each other. Where is your real identity then?

But anyway, how can you find this real friend? Who is your second self? First, you have to become yourself. And then if you know yourself, you will also be able to recognize the other on a spiritual basis.

And a bad friend is just like your shadow – always following you, as long as there is sunshine. If there is no sunshine, he will not follow you. Do you need such friends? Better we have real friends, who are our second self.

Friendship also means sharing of possessions and principles, ideals. Oh, what a quality understanding of friendship! It’s not that we drink together. We share the same principles and we share what we have. Such a high relationship!

So, friendship is like an attitude. It’s not a feeling, because feelings are coming and going; it’s a vision: I have a friendly disposition to life. What is the advice in the Gita: “Make your mind your friend, not your enemy.”[1] So, to establish friendship – it’s like a practice. And when your mind becomes your second self, that means he is your friend already. The key here is control; if your mind is controlled, he is a good friend; otherwise he might be an enemy.

And you know, proverbs concerning friendship also appear again and again. I heard a new German proverb concerning the Hungarians, which is not very favourable, but we have to give a second thought to that: “If you have a Hungarian friend, you don’t need enemies”. When I first heard it, I was a little offended. Do we need to have such a vision? Better turn it the other way round: if you have a Hungarian enemy, you don’t need friends. Because a good enemy is a treasure. You cannot really have a debate or a real elevated fight with a low character. Because if the other person is a knight, you are also forced to be and act as a knight. You cannot act as an assassin. So, a good enemy is very precious. Therefore we like our mind so much because it’s a good enemy. Coming always with some new ideas.

Baladev: There is another proverb: “From my enemies I will protect myself on my own, but God, please, save me from my friends!”

Swami Tirtha: Yes, correct – whether they are Hungarians or not.

(to be continued)

[1] Bhagavad Gita 6.5



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2018 morning, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Today we continue our studies about the different relationships to the Supreme. In one of the novels of Bhaktivinoda Thakura… you see, our acharyas are ready to write novels and literature; not only theoretical thesis, but also something to enjoy while you are reading. Why? Because this way the message reaches you more easily.

So, in that novel you find a place where devotees come together for discussion. And there is one question: “Can you deliberate on the different relationships concerning the Supreme?” And then the lecturer almost faints. He start to tremble and says: “Yes! This is the best of the best questions.” So, whether you are the audience or the lecturer, if the topic is about the relationships with the Supreme you are allowed to tremble a little bit. Therefore now we move to the next chapter, so to say, the next phase of dedicated services.

Now in the upcoming chapters Rupa Goswami discusses some details, some shades of devotion. For example, he talks about the different factors that will impulse and instigate the service to Krishna. And separation, he speaks about separation. And just to pick one pearl from him: “When a devotee is fully in love with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there may be the following symptoms due to his feelings of separation from the Lord: feverish condition of the body, withering of the body, lack of sleep, nonattachment, inertness, appearing diseased, madness, unconsciousness and sometimes death.“[1]

Appearing diseased, mad, etc. – these are the utmost symptoms of devotional ecstasy, when due to separation you feel like dying. First he talks about separation and then he talks about meeting. But now we won’t study these chapters, because then you would tremble too much. But rather we go to Fraternal Devotion, like friendship as a way of spiritual expression.

“When a devotee is permanently situated in devotional service, and by different symptoms of ecstasy he has developed and matured a fraternal mellow or flavour in relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his feeling is called fraternal love of Godhead. The impetus for such fraternal love of God is God Himself. When one is liberated and discovers his eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord, the Lord Himself becomes the impetus for increasing fraternal love. The eternal associates of the Lord in Vrindavana have described this as follows: “The Lord, Hari, whose bodily hue is like the indranila jewel, whose smiling is as beautiful as the kunda flower, whose silk dress is as yellow as golden autumn foliage, whose chest is beautified with garlands of flowers and who is always playing upon His flute – this enemy of the Agha demon is always attracting our hearts by wandering about Vrindavana.”[2]

If you have a friend, he becomes your ideal, right? If he turns to the right, you will always turn to your right. If he likes ice-cream, you will go with him to take ice-cream. And if he starts to become a devotee, you will also become a devotee. Because friends always walk together.

 

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of Devotion, Ch 38

[2] Nectar of Devotion, Ch 41



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 05.01.2018 morning, Sofia)

Belonging to a tradition means that you know something substantially. This is not a superficial affiliation, but some substantial conviction. The basic truths of our faith are very important, because these will provide the guidelines for our life. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says: “Crystal-clear devotion, the ability to harmonize the daily duties with the supreme ideals and compassionate goodwill to the other living beings – these are the three main factors, the cream of instructions for those who are really searching for the truth.” The cream – the best of the best.

Well, I feel so fortunate to visit your country. Because this way we can have a little, tiny understanding about rasa. Because the cream is not a simple butter. No, this is the top of the top, the best of the best. Condensed, and intense, and sweet, and sour, and heavenly – and beyond! And this is rasa – something that you cannot explain, but you have to taste in order to get an idea of what it is.

After this emotional surcharge, let’s return to the dry philosophy: the first of the three main points for those who are real seekers of the truth is crystal-clear devotion. So, it starts with your attitude. What is your attitude? The basic attitude towards anything in life is devotion, dedication. If you dedicate yourself, you can achieve much more than by any other method. I think we all know the difference if you perform some duty because it is obligatory, or you can do it with your heart and soul, right? One is a job, the other is a joy. Big difference! But not simple devotion, crystal-clear. ‘Crystal’ comes from ‘Krishna’. So, this will purify, the connection to Krishna will purify our devotion. And a crystal is transparent, but whenever one ray of sunlight touches it, it will reflect it in a very diverse way.

So, crystal-clear devotion to the Supreme – this is the first principle. If we have that bright light in our life, all the darkness will be removed. It’s like an eastern star on the horizon of our consciousness. The bright star of the East.

And the second principle is compassionate loving kindness towards other living beings. What kind of attention do we prefer form others? I think we can all appreciate if somebody is compassionately paying all attention in loving kindness towards us, right? So – give others what you expect for yourself. Or the other way round: don’t give others what you wouldn’t receive happily. It’s a very simple principle, it’s called the Golden Rule, present in practically all different cultures. Mahaprabhu also says: “Give respect to others and don’t expect respect to yourself.”[1]

So, this loving kindness, this compassionate approach to others – this is the second principle. This can bridge the gap between even opposing opinions.

And the third principle is to be able to harmonize your daily life, your practical activities, with the divine principles. This is very important here. Because if your practice is very miserable, then what kind of achievement do you expect?

And here we have to be very specific. ‘Miserable practice’ doesn’t mean that sometimes we suffer throughout our spiritual services – because it’s included. ‘Miserable practise’ means when you neglect your service. When you are negligent about your service. When you don’t forget to eat and sleep, but you forget to chant and meditate. This we can call a miserable practice. And with such a miserable practice what kind of result do you expect? You will have a miserable result. No fulfilment, or only half-perfection. But best practice – best results. Not because our practice is so strong that we force the powers of nature and God to provide us with the best results. But if it is a humble offering, it will invite the attention of the Supreme and some helpers from above. And they can offer our services further.

So, this is the cream, the essence of all instructions for those who are really searching for the supreme truth. Very simple and very practical; a very good advice on how to improve our standards. So you see, Bhaktivinoda Thakura is sometimes very specific and giving good advice; other times he is very poetic in writing his novels. But what is the point? To focus our attention more.

(to be continued)

[1] Shikshshtaka, 3



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.01.2018 pm, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

Question of Aradhana: What is the most important, concerning the puja?

Swami Tirtha: The servitors of Krishna are practically always engaged in some kind of activities. Bringing the water, preparing the betel nuts, washing the clothes, bringing some messages here and there, etc. etc. What about us? We are engaged in so many other activities. Checking out the YouTube channels; please, don’t put advertisement on this. You know, we are engaged with so much stupid stuffs. Therefore at least we have to be engaged in proper service. And there are practically two ways of formal services to Krishna, to God. One is the yagya and the other is the puja. Yagya is a social event, it’s a sacrificial ceremony; and puja is a personal, private intimate service to the deity. For a yagya the best is if many people come together, they offer prayers, they chant hymns, they throw grains – then all auspiciousness will come to the participants. But puja is a personal expression – when you treat Krishna as a guest, as if coming to your home. Or as if you are visiting His home. If you go to guests, you always bring something – this is our custom. If you go to Krishna as a guest, please follow the same principle – bring something.

And puja is this – I bring some water, I bring some incense, I bring some flowers to offer to You. I want to make you happy and satisfied. And usually I don’t bring second class things. If I go to a dear friend, I want to bring the first-class things. Therefore Bhaktivinoda Thakura instructs us: “Use the best type of water that is available for you. Use the best type of fire that is available for you.” Because usually these stuff – the basic elements – are offered back to the source, to Krishna. And what is the best fire that we have? These are the sparks in our eyes. And what is the best water that we have? These are the teardrops of our eyes. This is what we have to bring. This is the essence of puja. Give your best. Give your best.

When you offer like that, the wicks of the ghi lamp will help you to understand what is ecstasy, what is real spiritual happiness. You know, one name of Mahaprabhu is The Great Dancer. And although He is always dancing, sometimes you don’t see it. You think that He is standing there on the altar in this frozen pose. Have you ever thought how difficult it is to stand like this for eternity?

Comment: Tapasya.

Swami Tirtha: No, this is not tapasya – this is ecstasy, it’s prema. Some yogis also raise their hand and stay like this for, let’s say, 12 years. So much so, that their hands wither. And they keep their fingers bent in fists – so that their nails go through the flesh of their palms. That is tapas. But this is ecstasy.

Our Mahaprabhu is always dancing. And when you offer these best flames and you look at Mahaprabhu through the flames, and when the flames are burning, the air is like dancing. And whatever is behind the flames is dancing. In this way puja, offering the ghi lamp, is a way to see reality. To see that our Mahaprabhu is always dancing. This is something about puja.

Of course puja is so private, so personal that it takes a lifetime to experience that. Actually this kind of intimate worship is not only when I bow down at the altar and I do some ritual steps; we have to permanently live in puja. Therefore it is said: it’s not enough to do only those things that you like to do. But whatever you do, you have to do it with love. That is puja. Then it is not simple activity, but it is service. It’s a very mysterious transformation. A devotee and a non-devotee are digging in their gardens in a similar manner. But one is doing an ordinary job, while the other is doing devotional service. We all have that chance to improve our daily activities – to turn them into divine service, divine connection, divine expression of our life.

So, puja is individual, yagya is communal. And which yagya is mostly recommended? Sankirtan-yagya. Yes! Don’t forget, chanting the holy name together is also yagya. It’s also a sacrifice for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. In the secret teachings it is mentioned: there was a priest and he asked the congregation: “What kind of blessings do you want? I will sing out these blessings upon you by chanting my mantras.” So, sankirtan-yagya means you can achieve all blessings. Specify what kind of blessings you want. You want to achieve siddhis; or you want to improve your financial standards; or you want to achieve full domination over the planet Earth in one year? Or maybe you want to become a humble servant of the servants of the servants? So, please specify your desires.

 



(from a lecture of Swami Tirtha, 04.01.2018 pm, Sofia)

(continues from the previous Friday)

And finally let’s see the followers of the Lord: “Those who are constantly engaged in the personal service of the Lord are called anugas, or followers. Examples of such followers are Sucandra, Mandana, Stamba and Sutamba. They are all inhabitants of the city of Dvaraka, and they are dressed and ornamented like the other associates. The specific services entrusted to the anugas are varied. Mandana always bears the umbrella over the head of Lord Krishna. Sucandra is engaged in fanning with the white camara (bunch of hair), and Sutamba is engaged in supplying betel nuts. All of them are great devotees, and they are always busy in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. There are so many anugas in Vrindavana as well: Raktaka, Patraka, Patri, Madhukantha, Madhuvrata, Rasala, Suvilasa, Premakanda, Marandaka, Ananda, Candrahasa, Payoda, Bakula, Rasada and Sharada are the names. Descriptions of the bodily features of the anugas in Vrindavana are given in the following statement: “Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto the constant associates of the son of Maharaja Nanda. They always stay in Vrindavana, and their bodies are decorated with garlands of pearls and with bangles and bracelets of gold. Their colours are like black bees and the golden moon, and they are dressed just to suit their particular special bodily features. Their specific duties can be understood from a statement by mother Yashoda, who said, ‘Bakula, please cleanse the yellowish dress of Krishna. Varika, you just flavour the bathing water with aguru scent. And Rasala, you just prepare the betel nuts. You can all see that Krishna is approaching. There is dust overhead, and the cows can be seen very distinctly.

Among all the anugas, Raktaka is the best. An example of the attachment felt by Raktaka toward Lord Krishna can be understood from his statement to Rasada: “Just hear me! Please place me so that I may always be engaged in the service of Lord Krishna, who has now become famous as the lifter of the Govardhana Hill.”[1]

It’s a very nice invitation – to become a personal servant of Krishna. Really, did you ever think of giving a special scent to Krishna’s bathing water? Or bringing something for His personal pleasure? It is not only an obligatory duty to worship Krishna in puja and in offerings. No, this is something very personal. Such a nice invitation!

“The devotees of Krishna engaged in His personal service are always very cautious because they know that becoming personal servitors of Lord Krishna is not an ordinary thing. A person who offers respect even to the ants engaged in the service of the Lord becomes eternally happy, so what is there to say of one who offers Krishna direct service? Raktaka once said within himself, “Not only is Krishna my worshipable and servable Lord, but also the girlfriends of Krishna, the gopis, are equally worshipable and servable by me. And not only the gopis, but anyone who is engaged in the service of the Lord is also worshipable and servable by me. I know that I must be very careful not to become overly proud that I am one of the servitors and devotees of the Lord.” From this statement one can understand that the pure devotees, those who are actually engaged in the service of the Lord, are always very cautious and are never overly proud of their service.”

Then Shrila Rupa Goswami further describes the subsections of these different devotional sentiments. And the last section finally:

“Devotees attached to the transcendental loving service of the Lord may be described either as surrendered souls, as souls advanced in devotional knowledge, or as souls completely engaged in transcendental loving service. Such devotees are called respectively neophyte, perfect and eternally perfect.”

So, we must have full and eternal confidence that first we can qualify as neophytes; then go on to the next stage – perfect, not half perfect. And then what was the last? Eternally perfect. Yesterday we were not perfect in service, but from now on for eternity we are committed to that – that means eternally. Because fortunately our past doesn’t exist anymore. Unfortunately, our future doesn’t exist either. Time is latent or let’s say possibly existent in the future. Time is non-existent concerning the past. There is only this present moment. The past is a history, the future is a mystery and the present moment is a gift.

(to be continued)

[1] Nectar of devotion, Ch. 36