More than five hundred years ago, the Supreme Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu sat with His intimate devotee Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya on the banks of the river Godāvarī. For the benefit of all living beings, the Lord inquired from him about the ultimate goal of life, as if ignorant.
Śrī Rāmānanda’s initial response did not satisfy Lord Caitanya, who probed for a deeper answer. Again and again He rejected the goal Śrī Rāmānanda put forth, calling it external. Finally, when Śrī Rāmānanda touched upon the natural, eternal religion of the soul, the Lord was somewhat satisfied. His subsequent inquiries continued to depths that astounded and delighted His devotee, who replied wonderfully to each of them.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the spotless Purāṇa, the prema of Vraja permeating its every śloka. It is therefore natural to conclude that by hearing the Bhāgavatam from a person whose heart is similarly spotless, being suffused with that same prema, one will receive its true message and one’s own heart will effectively be transformed. It is with this purpose that we humbly present the series of classes given in Badger, 1999, on the secret truths of the Bhāgavatam – from the First Canto to the Tenth – culminating in the significance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vṛndāvana.
Issuing from the divine mouth of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the eight verses comprising this Śrī Śikṣāṣṭaka shine as the supremely radiant jewel of transcendental literature. They are the very essence of all the Vedas and a necklace for all Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. This definitive edition, with the translation and commentary of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja, features the soul-stirring commentaries of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.
"For the benefit of all living beings, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī churned the ocean of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s instructions and extracted the essence in the form of this Śrī Upadeśāmṛta. Śrī Upadeśāmṛta gives indispensable instructions for practitioners of bhakti, the devotional path. Without following these instructions, entering the realm of pure devotion and especially following the intricate and elevated path of spontaneous devotion (rāgānug-bhakti) is not only difficult but impossible.” [Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja]
This book captures the wonderful interactive nature of a series of eleven classes given in Badger, California, 1997. The reader thus feels present in that assembly and thrilled to receive the combined instructions of Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja (Śrīla Prabhupāda) on Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī's Śrī Upadeśāmṛta. Anyone who wants to remember and practice these teachings will find an abundance of inspiration in the pages of this book.
This volume contains Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s appeal, inspiration, guidance and blessings in regard to the most essential practices that nourish our bhakti, namely śravaṇa (hearing, or reading) and kīrtana (chanting, or preaching).
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, the very dear eternal associate of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, established Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s innermost desires in this world. He has compiled a scripture named Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, which is replete with realization of the ultimate, most effulgent mellow of amorous love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the king of Vraja and the emporium of all rasa. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has taken the very essence of what was compiled by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi and presented it in very simple and easily understandable Sanskrit language, just like putting the entire ocean in a pot.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the fully ripened, nectarean fruit of the desire tree of all Vedic literature, and within this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, gopī-prema has been ascertained to be the ultimate objective of the living being. In the chapter called Veṇu-gīta, some of the towering waves of this gopī-prema can be seen, and yearning to be immersed in this nectarean ocean sprouts even in the hearts of the faithful devotees who are situated on its shore. In his beautiful commentary on the verses of Veṇu-gīta, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja reveals the depth of the commentaries his spiritual predecessors, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura.
For over fifty years, Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala parikramā, inaugurated by Śrīman Mahāprabhu Himself, has been conducted under the supervision and guidance of Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja. This beautifully presented book, replete with pictures, is an exposition of the well known and also confidential places of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s sweet Vṛndāvana pastimes. The ambrosial nectar flowing through these pages fills the heart with transcendental happiness.
The scriptures tell us of the incalculable value of even a moment’s association with a true saint, and Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja is exalted even among saints. With great sincerity, his disciples and followers thus availed themselves of any opportunity to accompany him on his morning walks and attend his morning darśanas. In those informal settings, they freely asked a variety of questions, his illuminating responses revealing a mere glimpse of the devotion radiating brilliantly within his heart. Sometimes personal, sometimes disciplinary, sometimes humorous and always loving, he would impart the deepest understandings of the scriptures for the benefit of all. It was on his repeated order that these walks and darśanas be transcribed and published. In this way, he has invited you, also, to walk with him and hear the jewel-like teachings he wants to share with you.
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