śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 11, Special Online Edition
Posted: 22 February 2019
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Vinoda and Vinoda-bihārī
The following article was published in Śrī Gauḍīya-patrikā, under the auspices of Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja.
The meaning of avadhūta
A discussion of this sort ought to start from the beginning, from the root of the matter, and in discussing roots and beginnings, the subject of guru is bound to arise. In this case, however, the discussion does not start with Kṛṣṇa, who first imparted divine knowledge unto Brahmā, but rather with the root of the Gauḍīya community [avadhūta-śiromaṇī Śrīman Nityānanda Prabhu], the crowning jewel of the lineage descending from Brahmā:
pāṣaṇda-dalana āra prema-pracāraṇa
dui kārye avadhūta karena bhramaṇa
Śrī Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya-līlā 3.149)
The aloof saint sets about two tasks in his wanderings: to tame the wicked and preach the gospel of love.
The avadhūta, the unconventional saint, who has shaken off worldly notions and obligations, is as inexplicable as he is extraordinary. There is nothing extraordinary about actual insanity, however, or someone acting like a crazy person to gain attention. That is just abnormal and decidedly mundane.
evaṁ vrataḥ sva-priya-nāma-kīrttyā
jātānurāgo druta-citta uccaiḥ
hasaty atho roditi rauti gayaty
unmāda-van nṛtyati loka-bāhyaḥ
One who is constantly preoccupied with performing kīrtana of his beloved names of the Lord experiences the awakening of divine love, which melts his heart. He then displays spiritual ecstasy, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes singing and sometimes dancing like a madman not caring about the opinion of the general masses.
As stated above, when the avadhūta sings Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s names, overwhelmed by intense longing (anurāga), he loses his social inhibition. In that state, like a mad person, sometimes he laughs, and at other times he cries. Sometimes he yells, and sometimes he is silent. From a materialistic perspective, this external manifestation of his longing is perceived as a platform for deception.
The original avadhūta of the Gauḍīya lineage, Śrīman Nityānanda Prabhu, refrained from any such expressions of overwhelming ecstasies and occupied himself with curbing others’ wicked tendencies (pāṣaṇda-dalana, as in the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta verse quoted above) and propagating prema (prema-pracāraṇa). He may not tout a plow or club in this recent pastime, but the functions of those instruments never ceased. Śrīman Nityānanda Prabhu is perpetually situated in His role of subduing evil, as He once did with His club, and drawing people to Him, as He did with His plow. It can also be said that His plow readies the field of the heart so that He may sow the seed of the vine of devotion. Either way, these are instruments in His role of spreading love (prema-pracāra).
Our Gauḍīya guru-varga are this type of avadhūta. They do not only relish their rapture; they preach too. They do not simply throw pearls into the brush; they prepare the field and sow the seed. They do not just quash evil; they propagate prema. Chastisement does not work on its own; there has to be affection too.
Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Maharāja is an avadhūta
The real name of the avadhūta we are discussing is “Vinoda”. Though “Vinoda”* is beyond all trifling designations, in this world of appellations, he is tridaṇḍi-svāmī Śrī Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. It is he who decorates the designation of the esteemed sannyāsa order and blesses it. Someone who is naturally beyond all social constructs (varṇāśrama), a paramahaṁsa beyond ordinary prohibitions, adopts varṇāśrama and submits to the constraint of rules and regulations, not for his own welfare, but because he wants to benefit the masses who are averse to their own good. And if we can grasp this fact, it puts our own wellbeing in our hands.
* This refers to Śrī Vinoda Mañjarī, Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes.
Pāṣaṇḍa-dalana: subduing the hypocrisy of Māyāvāda
Of all the hypocrisy and wickedness in the world, the worst is impersonalism, or Māyāvāda, which was widely preached by Śrī Śaṅkarācārya, though it was not what he treasured in his heart. Māyāvāda attacks prema itself. Māyāvāda is an evil-mindedness that wants to merge with and become what is left of the personification of divine love (Śrī Bhagavān) after it cuts off His lotus-like hands and feet with the swords of nihilistic assertions. If the personified form of eternity, consciousness and bliss is so loathsome, then why the ambition to merge with that form? Evidently, this is the reaction of a severe evil-mindedness. The form of fire draws insects to immolate themselves in it. If one does not accept that divinity has form, why become one with it?
From the very beginning of his surrendered life to his divine master, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Prabhu determined Māyāvāda to be the main impediment to propagating the gospel of prema. Māyāvāder Jīvanī (A History of Māyāvāda), his book of research into the modern and unsophisticated origins of Māyāvāda will surely endure as an illuminating perspective for those seeking eternal welfare.
At present, almost everyone understands advaitavāda, brahmavāda, or other similar philosophies to be the same as Śrī Śaṅkarācārya’s kevalādvaita-vāda. Māyāvāder Jīvanī delivers an escape from this whirlpool of illusion. The ancient Advaita philosophy of the Brahmavādīs has never been the same as Śrī Śaṅkara’s Māyāvāda. For Brahmavādīs, the ultimate destination is the effulgent Brahma-loka. Māyāvādīs, on the other hand, are downright offenders, fit to be punished by Yama, death personified, as stated in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 6.167):
“śrī-vigraha je nā māne, sei to’ pāṣaṇḍī
adṛśya, aspṛśya—sei haya yama-daṇḍī”
He is wicked who denies the form of Divinity; he is not to be seen or touched; he will be punished by Yama.
Māyāvāda is but a version of Buddhism, that is, of Buddhadeva’s śunyavāda, which literally translates as “the zero theory” or “voidism”, with the Vedic word brahma in place of śunyā. At their roots, they have the same objective: nihilism. Padma Purāṇa therefore refers to Māyāvāda as prachanna bauddha-vāda or “veiled Buddhism”, while Śrīman Mahāprabhu declared it to be atheism that seeks Vedic corroboration.
The limitations of aparokṣa-jñāna (monism)
Śrīla Prabhupāda informs us in his Śrīmad-Bhāgavata sermons that the cultivation of Vedic teachings that gives precedence to karma constitutes aparā-vidyā, inferior or limited knowledge, or perception that cannot transcend these temporal realms. But cultivation of aparokña* (impersonalism), which is knowledge driven by indifference to the mundane as a result of seeing action (karma) as the source of suffering, cannot be called parā-vidyā (absolute spiritual knowledge) either, as it does not awaken the inherent nature of the soul.
* There are five types of knowledge, namely that which pertains to direct sense perception of gross phenomena (pratyakṣa or aksaja), to Svarga (parokṣa), to the unmanifest, formless Brahman (aparokṣa), to Vaikuṇṭha (adhokṣaja) and to Goloka Vṛndāvana (aprākṛta). (Śrī Brahma-saṁhitā, Verse 33, ṭīkā translation).
Those who subscribe to this aparokṣa (monistic) perspective can conceive only of oneness, as in the Vedantic axiom “ekam evādvitīyam – there is only one, second to none.” But they cannot reconcile plurality. Those who rely on this aparokṣa perspective are intellectually blocked when it comes to the plurality of that one indivisible and absolute whole, i.e. the variety of Śrī Bhagavān’s names, forms, qualities, pastimes and companions. For them, prema, the supreme goal of human existence, becomes the setting sun disappearing beyond the furthest horizon.
Cultivation of transcendence begins from the point of adhokṣaja
Exploration of the variegatedness of spiritual existence begins with scrutiny of adhokṣaja-tattva, or that which is definitively beyond the perception of material senses. He who is absorbed from moment to moment in divine pastimes, defying every strained attempt the conditioned souls make to know Him through their senses is Adhokṣaja. Once the conditioned souls disengage their senses from that painful enterprise of monism and engage them in the service of the Lord of the senses, Śrī Hṛṣīkeśa, then by His own sweet will that Entity who is beyond the grasp of the senses allows Himself to be perceived by the souls’ senses. If He did not forever keep Himself separate from the indulgent purview of the conditioned souls’ senses, then He would become but another inert object to be enjoyed by them, and it would be impossible for the living entity’s tendency to serve wholeheartedly to manifest.
The speciality of aprākṛta over adhokṣaja
The senses of the Lord of the senses, however, cannot be gratified to the utmost degree by our cultivation of this transcendent awareness of Adhokṣaja. Though He is worshipped by all and though He sustains all, the sheer delight He experiences from being scolded and nurtured, He cannot derive from the illustrious hymns of the Vedas. Though the words adhokṣaja (transcendent) and aprākṛta (supra-mundane, or non-mundane) are synonymous, one cannot deny their respective specialities: the implications of reverence and formality (aiśvarya) of the former and the intimate sweetness (mādhurya) of the latter. When Adhokṣaja, that entity of pure transcendence, appears indistinguishable from the mundane, though He is beyond its reach, He achieves supreme definition as aprākrṭa-tattva, or that which resembles the mundane (prakṛta) but is in fact not.* In that moment, Bhagavān, God of gods, climbs into the lap of His mother and starts bawling. He becomes overjoyed when He gets to eat His friends’ remnants. And He is terrified when He sees the formidable indignation of His beloveds, the gopīs.
* See endnote by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja for an elaboration on this topic.
Prema-pracāraṇa: propagating divine love, the pinnacle of aprākṛta-tattva
Within that aprākṛta-tattva, two specialities shine forth: one characterized by sweet charm and intimacy (mādhurya) and the other by benevolence and magnanimity (audārya). By saying that Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are characterized by mādhurya and Śrī Gaura’s pastimes by audārya, however, it does not mean they are strictly either mādhurya or audārya. When intimacy and sweetness is profuse, it yields magnanimity, and when magnanimity prevails, it naturally produces charm and sweetness.
The Gauḍīya avadhūtas shun the monistic approach of aparokṣa and know realization of the Lord’s Adhokṣaja aspect to be insufficient. They declare the ultimate summit of cultivating a conception of aprākṛta to be their most cherished objective. Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Prabhu demonstrated his highly nuanced realization of the aprākṛta by manifesting the service of Śrī Rādhā Vinoda-bihārī, the treasure of his heart. This extraordinary and unique pastime of his, of propagating prema, is the main objective of our discussion.
How Śrī Kṛṣṇa lost His complexion while immersed in thought of Śrī Rādhā
In describing Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī’s specific ontology, or tattva, Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Prabhu first of all glorifies Them as follows:
rādhā-cintā-niveśena / yasya kāntir-vilopitā
śrī-kṛṣṇa-caraṇaṁ vande / rādhāliṅgita-vigraham
Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihāri-Tattvāṣṭakam (1)
I venerate the feet of that Śrī Kṛṣṇa who has become so immersed in the contemplation of Śrī Rādhā that His own bodily complexion has faded to the degree that His form now appears to be fully embraced and entwined with that of Śrī Rādhā.
In truth, this verse acquaints us with both Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī and Śrī Gauracandra simultaneously. Primarily, the phrase rādhāliṅgita-vigraha conveys a sense only of Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī, that is, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra with Śrī Rādhājī, His complexion eclipsed by Hers. A description of this event is found in the Śrī Varāha-saṁhitā.
Once, when a sulking Śrīmatī Rādhājī left the arena of the rāsa dance with Her girlfriends, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra became overwhelmed with longing for Her. In the torment of separation from Her, He searched for Her everywhere until He became immersed in longing for Her at the base of a tamarind tree on the bank of the Yamunā river. His rapture was so profound that His limbs became covered with Śrīmatī Rādhājī’s golden hue. Thus He came to bear Her mark; He became Śrī Rādhā’s Kṛṣṇa. Meanwhile, as Śrī Rādhājī was searching for Śrī Kṛṣṇa with Her friends, She arrived at that spot and was astonished to see Him with that golden complexion. Śrī Vinoda Mañjarī witnessed this supremely wondrous meeting of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and, in the form of Śrī Keśava Gosvāmī, revealed this unprecedented form on this earthly plane.
Other meanings of rādhāliṅgita-vigraha
Second, rādhāliṅgita-vigraha refers to Śrī Gauracandra as the united form of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Jayadeva Gosvāmī hinted at this when he wrote: “gāḍham-āśliṣṭau nirbhedamāptau – when embracing so intensely, it as if They become one”. When śakti, the sum of all energy, and śaktimān, the vessel of that energy, are wrapped in an intense embrace, They become mutually indistinguishable, and that is the form of Śrī Gaura. Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī described this as follows:
cil-līlā-mithunaṁ tattvaṁ / bhedābhedam-acintyakam
Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihāri-Tattvāṣṭakam (3)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Person who orchestrates the pastimes of divinity, manifests in the united form of śakti and śaktimān as Śrī Gauracandra, who thus personifies acintya-bhedābheda-tattva [or the principle of simultaneous oneness and difference that characterizes the true nature of reality].
Third, āṅ in the word āliṅgita (āṅ + liṅgita) means “complete, boundary, limit, diffusion, extensiveness,” etc. And so it follows that rādhāliṅgita-vigraha means that Śrī Rādhā’s golden complexion pervades Śrī Kṛṣṇa, from His head to His toes, and that Her bhāva (mood) reaches His heart. It is this Śrī Kṛṣṇa, marked by this unique speciality, who is Śrī Śacinandana Gaurahari.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is a brahmacārī
Shifting topics somewhat to illustrate the unique wonder of Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī’s form, we find a notable remark in Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad stating that Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra is a brahmacārī. In a worldly sense, brahmacaryā is the first of the four stations of life in Vedic society, a state in which the individual is very pure, innocent and free from gross lust. The fact that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is a brahmacārī reveals the glories of the gopīs of Vraja as supremely pure, faultless, and devoid of even the scent of lust.
sahaja gopīra prema, nahe prākṛta kāma
The pure love of gopis is spontaneous and is not mundane lust.
akaitava kṛṣṇa-prema, jeno jāmbu-nada hema
sei premā nṛloke nā haya
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 2.43)
Pure love for Kṛṣṇa is free from all hypocrisy, pure like the gold of the Jāmbu river. Such love does not exist in the realm of men.
It follows therefore that Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s position as a brahmacārī cannot be appreciated by the mundane perception of the human world.
Brahmacaryā does not only mean to be devoid of lust. One who forever revels in the names, forms, qualities and pastimes of Parabrahma, the Supreme Lord, is truly a brahmacārī to the core, a brahmacārī in the ultimate spiritual sense. [Brahma refers to Supreme Reality and cārī means “revels in”.] From this perspective, the brahmacaryā of the residents of Vraja is millions of times greater than that of the Four Kumāras who are celibate from birth and for eternity. And among the residents of Vraja, the most exalted are the Vraja-devīs, or goddesses of Vraja, who are forever immersed in serving Kṛṣṇa in amorous love. But this still begs the question that if Śrī Kṛṣṇa is Himself Parabrahma, how is He a brahmacārī? [How does He revel in Himself?] Śrī Nārada-pañcarātra provides an illuminating point to reconcile this query:
yathā brahma-svarūpa śrī kṛṣṇaḥ prakṛteḥ paraḥ
tathā brahma-svarūpā rādhikā prakṛteḥ parā
Just as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as the personification and fullest expression of brahma, is beyond the material energy, so Śrīmatī Rādhikā too is the utmost personification of brahma and beyond the material energy. [Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the viṣaya-tattva or objective principle of that divinity, while Śrī Rādhā is the āśraya-tattva, or subjective principle.]
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is self-satisfied (ātmārāma), but He also delights in divine pastimes and is therefore also līlā-rāma. Both these states of being are eternal and exist simultaneously. As ātmārāma, He delights in the unmanifest state of His svarūpa-śakti, and as līlārāma, He delights in the manifest state of His svarūpa-śakti.
ei mata jagatera sukhe āmi hetu
rādhikāra rūpa-guṇa āmāra jīvātu
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.248)
Thus it is I who am the cause of happiness in this world. Yet Rādhikā’s form and qualities are My very life.
Thus, in both states of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, ātmārāma and līlārāma, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, who is brahma-svarūpā and the embodiment of svarūpa-śakti, is the object of His revelry. Thus Śrī Kṛṣṇa is eternally a brahmacārī. Without being acquainted with the nuances of śakti, one cannot fathom the nature of the ultimate wielder of śakti, śaktimān. Though Śrī Kṛṣṇa conducts śakti, He is forever covered by it. This is what defines His quality of brahmacaryā.
Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī is the greatest expression of Kṛṣṇa’s brahmacaryā
The most exalted of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are those He enacts as a paramour in the land of Vraja. Just as the word upapati (paramour) has the word pati in it (meaning “husband”), the love of paramours (parakīyatā) automatically encompasses the love experienced within matrimony (svakīyatā). Matrimonial love, however, lacks paramour love. The expression of parakīya is therefore considered whole and complete. This is why the utmost viṣaya, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and the utmost āśraya, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, embrace the utmost conception, parakīya-bhāva. In truth, however, this paramour affection is not the cause of the Vraja gopis’ eternal and unprecedented love but is an indicator of it. Becoming more and more immersed in that pārakīya-bhāva, Śrī Kṛṣṇa went from relishing the joys of being the object of love, the beloved, to experiencing how the delight experienced by the āśraya’s love was far greater.
viṣaya-jātīya sukha āmāra āsvāda
āmā haite koṭi-guṇa āśrayera āhlāda
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.133)
The pleasure of the viṣaya is what I personally relish, but the delight of the āśraya is millions of times greater than that.
It would not be exaggerating to say that Śrī Kṛṣṇa does not feel this way when experiencing the pastimes of matrimony (svakīyatā). Because of the extensiveness and immensity of the bliss of the abode of prema (āśraya-vinoda), He became overwhelmed with longing to taste it.
āśraya-jātīya sukha pāite mana dhāya
jatne āsvādite nāri ki kori upāya
vicāra koriye jadi āsvāda upāya
rādhikā-svarūpa haite tabe mana dhāya
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 4.134, 145)
[Śrī Kṛṣṇa thinks:] My mind is chasing the joy that the āśraya-jātīya (the lover, or active subject of prema) feels. Despite My efforts to do so, I cannot. What can I do? When I deliberate on how I might taste that joy, My mind races toward the idea of assuming Rādhikā’s nature.”
This sort of greed is in actuality the ultimate result of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s brahmacaryā. What is the deep pleasure that Rādhā feels? Driven by this greed Śrī Kṛṣṇa went to revel (vihāra) in that deep pleasure (vinoda) of Rādhā and lost His own mood and complexion. That is who Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī is and that is who Śrī Gauracandra is.
śrī rādhāyāḥ praṇaya-mahimā kīdṛśo vānayaivā-
svādayo yenādbhuta-madhurimā kīdṛśo vā madīyaḥ
saukhyaṁ cāsyā mad-anubhavataḥ kīdṛśaṁ veti lobhāt
tad-bhāvāḍhyaḥ samajani śacī-garbha-sindhau harīnduḥ
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 1.6)
“How great is the glory of the deeply intense love (praṇaya) of Śrī Rādhā? What is the nature of My astonishing sweetness, which She alone relishes? And what special kind of happiness does She experience upon tasting My sweetness?” Intense greed to taste these three things arose within the heart of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and to fulfil that intense desire, He took birth from the womb of Mother Śrī Śacī, like the full moon rising from the ocean.
Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Prabhu manifested service to Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī in this world, defeating the notion of impersonal, monistic brahmacaryā and inspiring all towards cultivation of aprākṛta-brahmacaryā. He thus discourages the people of the world from nurturing the worthless egotistical notions they interpret from statements like “ahaṁ brahmāsmi – I am brahma”. There is no need for the soul to long to become brahma and strive to merge with Parabrahma. Let all souls instead immerse themselves in the ecstasy of the āśraya, which is inherent in their true nature and identity, under the guidance of the root āśraya-vigraha figure, Śrī Rādhārāṇī, who experiences the ecstasy that Parabrahma Himself hankers to taste.
The exclusive speciality of Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī
Śrī Rādhā Madana-Mohana, Śrī Rādhā Govinda, Śrī Rādhā Gopīnātha – these three deities who represent the principles of sambandha, abhidheya, prayojana, along with Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa, who is famous as Their combined form, and also all the other deity forms of Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra, represent His absorption in relishing only viṣaya-vinoda, the pleasure enjoyed by the object of love. Even the “melted by love” form of Śrī Jagannātha, though assumed due to separation from Rādhā, does not arise from relishing the deep pleasure experienced by Rādhā (rādhā-vinoda). It is for this reason that the form of Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī represents a unique speciality in Gauḍīya society. Unfortunately, however, certain so-called Gauḍīyas, out of ignorance and insanity born of envy, say that Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s absorption in Rādhā’s mood and His acceptance of Her complexion was a one-time occurrence, and therefore, eternal service to such a manifestation is not possible.
This is a symptom of misfortune. This sort of knowledge is akṣaja, influenced by mundane sensory perception and can never appreciate the simultaneous ever-freshness and eternality of Bhagavān’s pastimes. By those standards, they would regard Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara’s dāma-bandhana-līlā as a one-time occurrence as well, and thus also deem Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī’s establishment of service to Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara as improper. The limited intelligence of such persons would dictate that if Śrī Rādhā Madana-mohana are to be served eternally, then the eternality of service to Śrī Rādhā-Govinda is not simultaneously possible. They cannot conceive of the fact that because there are so many different pastimes, there are so many different eternally worshipful deity forms. These people seem unable to see that in Śrī Puruṣottama-dhāma, to either side of the ancient deity of Śrī Ṭoṭā Gopīnātha, are dark-complexioned Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Śrīmatī Lalitā, and in Vraja-dhāma, in Nanda-grāma, the Baladeva who stands beside Śrī Kṛṣṇa has the same dark complexion. In truth, perceiving Bhagavān’s pastimes as illusory or temporary is due to the influence of Māyāvāda.
māyāvāda doṣa jāra hṛdaye paśilo
kutarke hṛdaya tā’ra bajra-sama bhelo
A heart in which the flaw of Māyāvāda has entered becomes embroiled in false logic and becomes as harsh as a thunderbolt.
Serving Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī leads to service in both realms of Goloka
There are two realms that exist within Goloka Vṛndāvana. One is called kṛṣṇa-pīṭha and the other gaura-pīṭha. The Lord of both of these realms is Śrī Kṛṣṇa. In relation to these two states that the Supreme Truth (para-tattva) exists in, Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Prabhu has said:
tattvam-ekaṁ paraṁ vidyāl- / līlayā tad-dvidhā-sthitam
gauraḥ kṛṣṇaḥ svayaṁ hy etad / ubhāv ubhayam āpnutaḥ
Śrī Rādhā-vinodabihāri-Tattvāṣṭakam (4)
The Supreme Truth is one; however, through different pastimes, that Truth manifests as and exists in two different and individual forms as Śrī Gaura and Śrī Kṛṣṇa. They are both the Supreme Truth and Entity. In principle, Gaura is Kṛṣṇa Himself. Both of these forms are inextricably linked. Śrī Gaurasundara becomes Śyāmasundara Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śyāmasundara Śrī Kṛṣṇa once again becomes Śrī Gaurasundara.
When absorbed in pastimes of union (sambhoga-līla), that para-tattva is Śrī Vrajendra-nandana in kṛṣṇa-pīṭha. And when He becomes absorbed in pastimes of separation (vipralambha-līlā), He is Śrī Śacīnandana in gaura-pīṭha. This union and separation nourish each other, and thus Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Gaura share this duality.
This wonder cannot be conjured up or appreciated by any taxing feat of the imagination. These pastimes are simultaneous and eternal, and the story of Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī is like a yoga-sūtra, an eloquent cipher that encapsulates both pastimes. Therefore, through serving Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda-bihārī, one attains a revelation of both pastimes and gains the opportunity to relish the joy of service in both kṛṣṇa-pīṭha and gaura-pīṭha. A person who worships only Gaura during his sādhana will, in the stage of perfection, attain service only in gaura-pīṭha. And someone who worships only Kṛṣṇa during his sādhana, likewise attains only kṛṣṇa-pīṭha. By engaging in the service of Śrī Rādhā Vinoda-bihārī, however, the sādhaka resides in both realms when he attains perfection and becomes submerged in the bliss of serving both Śrī Śyāmasundara and Śrī Gaurasundara. This is the special wonder of Śrī Śrīla Keśava Gosvāmī Prabhu’s role in the promulgation of prema. This is the most esoteric and exalted attainment in the process of bhajana performed by the followers of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Translated from Śrī Gauḍīya-patrikā
By the Rays of The Harmonist team
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura taught that there are five kinds of knowledge: pratyakṣa [akṣaja], parokṣa, aparokṣa, adhokṣaja, and aprākṛta. The knowledge of everything we see and realize by our direct experience is called pratyakṣa [or akṣaja]. But this is false [not complete, or true, knowledge].
Then, parokṣa. We don’t see Svarga, heaven, but we believe in it. There is also a history of Svarga. We will have to accept Svarga, although we don’t see it. We hear that if a man is a thief, a dacoit, a debauch, and so on, he will have to go to naraka, hell. On the other hand, if he is pious, he will go to Svarga and there he will be very happy. This knowledge is called parokṣa.
Then, aparokṣa. This is the knowledge taught by Śaṅkarācārya. One day we will have to die, and we will have to give up everything in this world. Our beauty will go, our body will go, whatever we are collecting will go, and everything else will go. We cannot take anything, neither our pennies nor our pens, from this world. So why are we collecting all these bogus things? Why? An intelligent person thinks about this and becomes detached, but a bogus, foolish person remains attached to sense gratification.
Then, adhokṣaja. What is adhokṣaja? Adhokṣaja is Vaikuṇṭha, that place where there is no kāla, time. There is only the eternal present. There is no birth and death, and no suffering and sorrow. Nothing bad is there. In that abode there is so much opulence, and everyone there prays to Nārāyaṇa.
There is something higher than this, however, and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has taught that this most superior truth is called aprākṛta. Aprākṛta is that realm where vraja-līlā is performed. Kṛṣṇa is sometimes like a baby there. There He is controlled by His father and mother, He is controlled by His beloved gopīs, and He is controlled by his friends. No one can ever imagine such very, very sweet pastimes. We should try to know this aprākṛta. We should try to serve this aprākṛta Kṛṣṇa who is with so many gopīs, with His father and mother, with His sakhās, and with all His cows and very sweet cowherding pastimes. This is the aim and object of our life: service to this Kṛṣṇa. This is aprākṛta-jñāna.
[Excerpt from a lecture by Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja entitled: “Giver of Mādhurya-bhakti, The Appearance Day of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda”, delivered in Singapore, 13 February, 2001. Transcribed and edited by the Harikatha team.]