Russia, 11 April 2015
Listen class here
So today is a super, excellent auspicious day, the appearance day of Abhirama Thakura. Abhirama Thakura was the very nearest and dearest of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His parikar. Who is he in krishna-lila? He is Shridama, Shridama-tattva. He was an uttama-uttama-mahabhagavata. Abhirama Thakura used to have one whip called Jaya Mangala. If he whipped you with it, krishna-prema would manifest in your heart. Gurudev would tell us it was as like Gour Govinda Maharaja. When he would give class, he also had one small stick and would hit his disciples. So I just want to briefly tell you some of the pastimes. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave [Gopala] a very nice title. What was his name? Gopala Guru Gosvami. In our guru-parampara, Gopala Guru Gosvami is very important and his disciple, Dhyanachandra Gosvami was also important. Once, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was going to the restroom, at the time, Mahaprabhu held His tongue. Then, the small boy Gopala, asked Mahaprabhu, “Prabhu why are You holding Your tongue?” Mahaprabhu answered, “Gopala, do you know? My tongue is very restless. Because it is always chanting the holy names. Now I am going to the bathroom and maybe My body will be contaminated. How can I chant the holy names with My contaminated body?”
Then, Gopala recited one verse, a shloka from the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. He said, “Hey Prabhu, the Shrimad-Bhagavatam gives evidence, if anyone is laying on their death bed, at that time, he can chant the holy names, whether his body is contaminated or not. You can chant the holy names anytime. The holy names do not depend on your body being contaminated, pure or impure. You can chant the holy names anytime,
yogināṁ nṛpa nirṇītaṁ
[“O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and also those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge”.]
Shukadeva Gosvamipada also recited this shloka. Because Parikshit Maharaja had also asked the question, “If anyone is laying on their death bed, about to die – What can he do?”
yogināṁ nṛpa nirṇītaṁ
Harinama does not depend on any rules and regulations, as mentioned in this shloka,
khāite śuite yathā tathā nāma laya
kāla-deśa-niyama nāhi, sarva siddhi haya
(Chaitanya-charitamrita Antya 20.18)
[“Regardless of time or place, one who chants the holy name, even while eating or sleeping, attains all perfection”.]
Whether you are eating or sleeping, you can chant the holy names anytime. Do you understand? Other mantras, such as gayatri-mantras, require you to first, purify your body with mantras or by bathing, sit on an asana, concentrate your mind and then chant. These are certain rules and regulations one must follow. If you are chanting your guru–mantra or gayatri–mantra, you have to follow some rules. Your gayatri–mantras or guru–mantras have to be chanted during the proper times (morning, afternoon & evening), facing the proper directions (facing east in morning and afternoons & north in evening) and while wearing tilaka. You must also bathe prior to purify your body, which can be done by mantra, manasa-snana.
apavitraḥ pavitro vā
sarvāvasthāṁ gato ’pi vā
yaḥ smaret puṇḍarīkākṣaṁ
[“Whether one is contaminated, pure or in any condition or stage of life, if one remembers the lotus-eyed Lord, Puṇḍarīkākṣha, Śrī Kṛishṇa, one becomes pure both externally and internally.”]
After speaking the mantra above you say, “Om, Shri Vishnu, Shri Vishnu Shri Vishnu,” and sprinkle some water over your head, then your body becomes purified. But there are no rules and regulations for chanting harinama, you can chant the holy names anytime, midday, midnight or even when you lay down on your bed. Just chant, ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare’. ‘Khāite śuite yathā tathā nāma laya’ – while eating, sleeping or walking, you can chant the holy names anytime, there are not rules and regulations. Have you read the Shikshashtaka? The second verse states,
nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis
tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ
etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi
durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgaḥ
[“My Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as “Krishna” and “Govinda,” by which You expand Yourself. You have invested all Your potencies in those names, and there are no hard and fast rules for remembering them. My dear Lord, although You bestow such mercy upon the fallen, conditioned souls by liberally teaching Your holy names, I am so unfortunate that I commit offenses while chanting the holy name, and therefore I do not achieve attachment for chanting.”]
In this Kali-yuga, there are no rules and regulations for chanting the holy names. You can chant at any time. ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare’. So that small boy, Gopala, said, “Prabhu, the Shrimad-Bhagavatam gives us evidence – Ajamila was lying on his death bed and passing stool. Still, he chanted the holy name, Narayana, and he was delivered from this ocean of the maya.” Whose name did Ajamila chant? Actually it was his son’s name Narayana. But, the original Narayana, is Lord Vishnu. ‘Putropacāritam nāma’. Shrila Shukadeva Gosvamipada told Parikshit Maharaja, “Ajamila chanted his son’s name, Narayana. But the Lord was thinking, ‘Oh this is My name.’ So Ajamila attained Vaikuntha-dhama and the Lord protected Ajamila from the Yamadutas.” Sometimes we tell the story of nama–mahatmya. Once, one couple, a wife and husband arrived in Vrindavan. They were staying very close to Seva-kunja. They had arrived from Bengal and were thinking, “We will stay in Vrindavan for a couple of months.” So the wife and husband stayed very close to Seva-kunja. They did Vrindavana-parikrama everyday, visiting different places like Radha-Damodara and others. This is a true story. After one month, his wife left her body. Then, the husband became completely mad thinking, “Oh, my wife left her body.” In his maddened state – What did the husband do everyday? Everyday, he ran around Vrindavan, here and there, shouting the name of his wife, “Kishori, Kishori, Kishori!” Day and night he shouted his wife’s name, “Kishori, Kishori, Kishori! Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?!”
One midnight, after the rasa dance, Shrimati Radhika was coming out from Seva-kunja. Then Shrimati Radhika saw that mad person chanting Her name and asking, “Kishori, Kishori, Kishori! Where are you? Where are you?!” After seeing this, Shrimati Radhika told Lalita, “I have to give darshan to him.” Lalita Devi replied, “No, he is not calling You. He is calling his wife, Kishori.” “In Vrindavan, only I am Kishori, Only My name is Kishori. So I have to give darshan to him,” said Shrimati Radhika. Then She gave darshan to that person. Do you understand? This is a true story, this actually happened. Although that mad and lusty person was chanting the name of his wife, Shrimati Radhika said, “This name is Mine. The origin of this name belongs to Me.” As mentioned, the Shrimad-Bhagavatam tells of Ajamila chanting his son’s name Narayana, ‘putropacāritam’, and Lord Vishnu sending his four Vishnudutas to protect to him from the Yamadutas; showing how powerful the holy names actually are. If your name is Radha, Lalita, Vishakha or Rama, Krishna Shyamasundara or Rasa Bihari – What kinds of benefits you will get from speaking those names? But if your name is Chaku, Daku or Baku. Chaku, do you understand? Chaku means ‘knife’. I am always speaking on this. If you give your son’s name Chaku, Haku or Baku – What benefits are you receiving when you call their name?
Returning to the story, Gopala told Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Prabhu, the Shrimad-Bhagavatam gives us evidence. At anytime, under any circumstance, you can chant the holy names. Even if your body is contaminated.” Upon hearing this, Mahaprabhu became very happy and awarded him the title, Gopala Guru. “Oh you are My guru, because you have given such a nice teaching to Me,” said Mahaprabhu. So, the Lord gave him the name Gopala Guru, and all the devotees began to also call him Gopala Guru. Today, in our guru–parampara, Gopala Guru Gosvami is there. Do you understand? And also his disciple Dhyanachandra Gosvami. If you visit the Radha Kanta temple in Jagannatha Puri, you will see there are two deities there, one was Gopala Guru Gosvami’s and one was Dhyanachandra Gosvami’s. In our Gaudiya math, in the Radha Kanta temple in Gambhira, when you enter, you will see on left side you have the Radha Kantha vigraha. Who has visited Jagannatha Puri? All of you should come to Jagannatha Puri because Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s vipralambha–sthana is there. I am going there every year; it is very sweet there. Do not lose this opportunity. Please come every year, come to Navadvipa-dhama, Jagannatha Puri and Vrindavan-dhama; the three favored places of Gaudiya Vaishnavas.
So now, everyone was calling him Gopala Guru. When Abhirama Thakura heard this, he thought, “Oh he is a guru? How is it possible that a small boy is a guru?” Abhirama Thakura was a great Vaishnava. If he offers pranama to an imperfect shalagrama, what will happen to it? It will be crushed. Do you know this? Many people cheat others by bringing a random stone that only looks like a shalagrama and sell it to them. They will tell you, “This is a real shalagrama-shila.” So people believe some of these are actually shalagrama. What does shalagrama-shila mean? It means Lord Bhagavan, Lord Vishnu, Himself manifests as shalagrama-vigraha, Shachinandana vigraha. But some people cheat others, they take any ordinary stone that appears blackish and sell it as a shalagrama. Then people are thinking this is a shalagrama. In this way, if the shalagrama is not perfect and Abhirama Thakura offers pranama to it, that stone will be crushed. Also, if one is not a shuddha-vaishnava and offers pranama to him, he will die.
So when Abhirama Thakura heard everybody called him [Gopala Gosvami] guru, he thought, “Ok, I will test whether he is a pure devotee, uttama–bhagavata or not.” When he heard this, Gopala Guru became very afraid. “My God. What will I do? If he offers pranama to me, then I will die. I am not an uttama–uttama–bhagavata,” thought Gopala Guru. Then he told Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Prabhu, You have given me this title. But now I will die, a big problem has now come.” Mahaprabhu replied, “Gopala, do not worry, I gave you this title, I will protect you.” Then Mahaprabhu put a tilaka mark on his forehead, Mahaprabhu put His footdust on the forehead of Gopala Guru. When Abhirama Thakura arrived, Gopala was hiding behind Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Abhirama Thakura said, “Hey Gopala, come here.” Gopala then came and Abhirama Thakura offered his pranamas. But nothing happened. Mahaprabhu has told, “My footdust is nondifferent from Me.” Do you understand this concept? In this way, there are also many lilas.
Once, Minaketana Ramadasa was in the house of Krishnadasa Gosvami and Gunarnava Mishra (Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami’s brother) was engaged as a pujari there. At that time, being absorbed, this pujari did not offer proper respect to Minaketana Ramadasa. For this regard,
Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami rebuked his brother and asked him to leave his house. This actually leads us to another subject, but still relates to the story of Abhirama Thakura, who was very much an uttama–uttama mahabhagavata and also Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s very nearest and dearest.
Jai Shri Abhirama Thakura ki Jai!
Transcriber: Sanatan das (USA)
Editors: Sanatan das (USA), Divya Premamayi dasi (Slovakia)