Jammu, September 13, 2003
By Sripad Bhaktivedanta Sajjan Maharaja

Approaching Jammu, Kashmir, by train, we saw the build-up of Indian Army forces. In the countryside and villages were many military posts with sandbag barricades for protection from bombings and gunfire. This area, riddled with much violent engagement by rebel terrorist activity, provoked such security. Arriving at Jammu station we passed many soldiers, and finally we walked through the lobby to the street where our ride was waiting.

Soon after arriving at the place of our host, where Sripad BV Tirtha Maharaja and the brahmacaris accompanying him had already been preaching and performing nagara-sankirtana for a couple of days, we all went to the airport to greet Srila Gurudeva Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja.

The street entrance to the airport was heavily guarded and barricaded due to terrorist threats, and only those with special passes, or ticketed passengers, were allowed entrance. Local Jammu devotees, as well as devotees from England, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Russia, and America, were eagerly waiting to see Srila Gurudeva with garlands and flowers. The kirtana enlivened all those around the entrance as Gurudeva went to his car decorated with many flowers, and 50-60 devotees with garlands and showers of flowers greeted him. All took turns coming close to the car window, offering greetings and receiving his blessings. Then, the whole entourage drove to the home where he was to be hosted, where more devotees were awaiting his arrival.

After lovingly greeting many Jammu devotees and receiving their offerings of garlands and presents, Srila Gurudeva sat for foot-bathing and guru-puja. He spoke briefly to everyone of the need to become sincere on the path of pure bhakti. Then he distributed sweets to the devotees present before retiring for rest.

The following day, after a morning walk at the University of Jammu, Srila Gurudeva visited the main accommodation for the devotees, where he was greeted with kirtana, dandavat pranamas, and flower garlands. On many of the following days he was hosted at homes of his affectionate followers of Jammu.

The evening programs were all well attended to a packed hall at a local Sri Hari Mandira. Guests and devotees numbered up to 1,000, many in standing room only, and some listening outside as well. All were flooded with nectarine harikatha.

Srila Gurudeva’s harikatha was centered on the progressions of the bhakti of various devotees depicted in the Srimad Bhagavatam. He spoke on the definition of pure bhakti, “anyabhilasita sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam anukulyena krnanu silanam bhaktir uttama”. He began with sakama-bhakta Dhruva Maharaja and spoke briefly on his qualifications and level in relation to uttama-bhakti as defined in this verse. He explained that Dhruva had great determination to follow his guru Srila Narada Muni, but when Lord Sri Narayana gave him his darsana, he lamented that he had wanted a material benediction.

Sri Prahlada Maharaja, who is a jnani-bhakta, was discussed next. Srila Gurudeva explained that we take many teachings from Prahlada, and he discussed his teachings to his classmates in gurukula. Prahlada Maharaja’s understanding of the unlimited opulences of the Supreme Lord kept him from offering his Lord any personal service.

Srila Gurudeva then proceeded to explain the suddha-bhakta, Ambarisa Maharaja, who exemplifies the pure following of all the processes of bhakti; sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, pada-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, sakhyam, atma-nivedenam. Ambarisa Maharaja, offered his body, mind, words, and devotional sentiments to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna in Vraja Dhama, and he also strictly and perfectly followed all Ekadasis. Although so wealthy and prestigious, he personally performed the puja and offerings to his deities, he cleansed the temple with his own hands, and he also regularly did parikrama of Vraja Dhama. Srila Gurudeva narrated the history with Durvasa Muni and how the Lord protected his devotee. Ambarisa Maharaja never feared the fire demon created by Durvasa to kill him. He always depended on his Lord’s mercy, whereas Durvasa ran from the Sudarsana Cakra all over the universe.

Srila Gurudeva then glorified Hanumanji as the premi-bhakta of Lord Sri Ramacandra. He told wonderful lilas of Hanuman, Sita, and Rama, melting the hearts of all. Interspersed with Srila Gurudeva’s harikatha was Krsna dasa prabhu’s beautiful kirtanas, and that created a wonderful atmosphere and mood. Also, Sripad Tirtha Maharaja and Sripad Aranya Maharaja were sometimes asked to explain certain siddhantas or lilas.

Prema-para bhakti was exhibited by the Pandavas and Draupadi; and their relationship and family ties to Lord Sri Krsna as well as their loving pastimes with Him, were extensively narrated.

Prema-atura bhakti was exemplified in the character of Sri Uddhavaji. In Dvaraka, Uddhava was Sri Krsna’s intimate friend, minister and advisor. In great separation, without anyone in Dvaraka to consol Him, Krsna asked him to go to Vraja and consol the Vrajabasis. He thought that Uddhava could take lessons in Vraja-prema in the school of the gopis, and then he would be qualified to hear and understand His moods of separation. Uddhavaji was astonished to see the conditions of Vraja and the Vrajavasis’ levels of intense love and separation of their beloved Lord.

Gurudeva explained the separation moods of Nanda and Yasoda, the gopis, and especially the highest levels of the vipralambha-bhava of Srimati Radharani. He explained that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to taste these moods and to distribute the process of following under the guidance of Sri Krsna’s ragatmika associates. This process is called Raganuga-bhakti. We must strive for the association of pure Vaisnavas. We must hear from them the nectarean discourses from Srimad Bhagavatam, and especially Sri Krsna’s lilas in Vrndavana with His most intimate associates. We must also chant the holy names of the Lord in that association; the human form of life is meant only for this. Without this we miss this rare opportunity afforded in the human form of life. Uddhavaji prayed to become a blade of grass in Vraja, to be brushed by the dust of the lotus feet of that dearmost gopi, the beloved of his Lord Krsna, Srimati Radha Thakurani.

Srila Maharaja beautifully explained Sri Radhaji’s love, the different moods of that love, and the separation she exhibited to the highest extent. He spoke with much emotion on the lila of Brahmara-gita, the conversation with the bumble-bee, black Krsna. The Gaudiya-Sampradaya’s ultimate Istadevi is Srimati Radharani. As Sri Krsna is

always hankering for Her good favor and glance, worshiping Her as His aradhya-devi and one-pointed in devotion to Her, we are attempting for this attainment in our bhajan.

Concluding his five-day program, Srila Gurudeva stressed the importance of remembering all
these topics, following and chanting, and refraining from activities and association that take away from our bhakti. He gave initiations of Harinama and Diksha to many devotees of Jammu, and more plan to come to Kartika and receive their initiation there.

During his stay, Srila Gurudeva conducted many interviews with reporters and television crews. He had a press conference where he stressed how peace could come, to the world and locally, only by following true spirituality under the guidance of a genuine self-realized soul and by practicing pure loving devotion to the Supreme Lord of all.

is visit to Jammu touched the hearts of so many fortunate souls. He was like a rain cloud raining mercy to a desert-like area, so much affected by violence and aggravation. He gave much love and nourishment to his disciples and followers and all others there. Special mention should be given to thank all those who hosted Srila Gurudeva, and all the devotees accompanying him on his tour!

 Edited by Vrndavana Chandra dasa