Today we are very fortunate. By the causeless mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga we have passed fourteen or fifteen days. Our parikrama is going on well due only to their mercy; so, all glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga.
Today is Annakuta mahotsava (the festival of worshiping Sri Giriraja Govardhana), and just before this was Amavasya (the dark moon night, just before the new moon day), which we also call Dhanteras.
What is the meaning of dhanteras? Dhana means wealth, and it specifically refers to the wealth of the Vrajavasis. The Vrajavasis, the residents of Krsna's most intimate abode, love Krsna with all their hearts – that is their wealth. They have given Krsna their hearts and souls, their husbands, wives, children, and everything they possess. They especially do so on that day, and therefore that day is called Dhanteras.
Worldly people don't do this. Rather, they gamble to make money on this day. Maharaja Yudhisthira showed the example; by gambling, he lost his entire property, his kingdom, and also his wife. We devotees observe Dhanteras for krsna-bhakti, pure devotion to Sri Krsna, and worldly people gamble for enjoyment and thus destroy their lives. On this day in India, so many people gamble, take wine, and engage in other forbidden activities.
On the day of Amavasya we observe the festival of Dipavali. What is the meaning of Dipavali? "Tamaso ma, jyotir gamaya – Do not remain in darkness, come to the light." The meaning is that this world is of mahamaya, or illusion, and it is full of darkness. We conditioned souls are all in darkness. But now, by the causeless mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga, we are trying to come from that darkness into the light.
What is that light? Krsna-bhakti is light. Hladini-sakti (Krsna's pleasure potency, personified as Srimati Radhika) is light. Under the guidance of Vrajavasis, especially with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's idea of being under the guidance of the gopis, we will serve Srimati Radhika and Sri Krsna, with an inclination towards Radhika. This is the full light, and ultimately there is no light except this.
The day after Dipavali is called Pratipada, the first day of the lunar cycle. On this day Krsna warned His father Nanda Baba not to worship Indra (the god of the rains). He said, "Indra cannot do anything to help us. We should worship Giriraja Govardhana instead."
What is the meaning of Govardhana? "Go" means cows; "go" means gopas, or cowherders; "go" means gopis, or cowherd damsels; and "go" means veda, all kinds of transcendental knowledge.
Perhaps you know that Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave the name 'Bhakti Prajnana Kesava' to our gurudeva. He gave the name to Gurudeva first in a dream, and after that dream, he gave it through the mouth of parama-pujapada Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja at the time of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's performing his sannyasa ceremony. [Srila Prabhupada was no longer externally manifest in the world at that time.]
It is stated in one of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's kirtanas that 'bhakti' in this connection refers to prema-bhakti, or visuddha prema-bhakti (the most exalted love for Sri Krsna). 'Prajnana' refers to vijnana (realized knowledge)j, or prakistha rupena jnana, (every kind of knowledge), and therefore it ultimately refers to gopi-bhakti, or krsna-bhakti in the line of the gopis.
So, today is Pratipada, a very, very important day. On this day, on the advice of Krsna, all the Vrajavasis made a great variety of preparations. During the night they had made thousands of preparations that they would generally offer to Indra, and which they would now offer to Giriraja Govardhana. They brought millions of bullock carts from their houses to Giriraja Govardhana. Millions of carts and millions of gopas and gopis assembled all around Govardhana.
Just before this, they performed puja of Vaisnavas like Gargacarya, Sandilya Rsi, and especially Bhaguri Rsi. Bhaguri Rsi was the guru of Krsna. Do you know what mantra he gave to Krsna? The Radha mantra.
As all of the Vrajavasis worshiped the Vaisnavas, we should also worship them. You are very lucky that there are so many exalted Vaisnavas among you to worship.
Next they worshiped the brahmanas, and we have so many brahmanas here. All of you are brahmanas, and we especially have our brahmana Vrajavasi panda, whose name is Giridhari. This matha is also Giridhari – Giridhari Gaudiya Matha. Today we have brought so many 'carts' from all over the world – not only from Vraja – so we will also first worship guru, then Vaisnavas and Vaisnavis, then brahmanas, and then cows. We have a lot of very nice cows here, and after class we will worship a cow by giving flowers to his lotus feet. Why? Because cows are worshiped even by Krsna, who used to serve them daily.
You have all arranged a large variety of preparations, so let us now take them, along with 108 kalases (pots). The ladies will carry these, and we will all carry the many offerings that have been prepared by Premananda Prabhu and his party. We will all take these on our heads and perform kirtana as we go to the same place where we have gone in previous years. After that, we will serve all the Vaisnavas, all the brahmanas, and everyone else the maha-prasadam that has been offered to Krsna. We have also made some dry prasadam that will be given to you all for taking back to your homes to distribute.
We should take a vow that we will never give up all these things. What we are giving in our classes is everything you need to advance in bhakti. Always chant the holy name in the way shown by Srila Rupa Gosvami:
smrtyoh kramena rasana-manasi niyojya
tisthan vraje tad-anuragi-jananugami
kalam nayed akhilam ity upadesa-saram
["While living in Vraja as a follower of the eternal residents of Vraja, who possess inherent spontaneous love for Sri Krsna, one should utilize all his time by sequentially engaging the tongue and the mind in meticulous chanting and remembrance of Krsna's names, form, qualities and pastimes. This is the essence of all instruction." (Sri Upadesamrta 8)]
Whether you are here with me, or with other Vaisnavas, or you have returned to your countries, always think, "I am in Vraja" and remain under the guidance of pure Vaisnavas. Always chant and remember, and perform all the activities that we are doing here. Don't be weak. Always remember the words of Sri Jagadananda Pandita (in Prema-vivarta): "Yadi caha pranaya rakhite gaurangera sane, chota haridasera katha thake yena mane – If you wish to associate with Caitanya Mahaprabhu, you must always remember the incident of Chota Haridasa and how he was rejected by the Lord."
This festival is not a marriage party, where you have come to select your wives or husbands. Be very careful to avoid this. Otherwise there will be no place here for you. Leave here and remain very far away from us. I want only pure bhakti here.
Gaura premanande, Hari hari bol!
Now we will perform puja. We have already worshiped Sri Guru and Vaisnavas. And Giridhari Panda is a Vrajavasi, an actual Vrajavasi. He is chanting, "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna." His father was the panda of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who used to love him as a dear son. His father was very bold and brave, and he was a wrestler. He gave his son the name Giridhari. We are lucky to have a Vrajavasi panda. He also loves me as a father and guru. I am the representative of all of you and I am now worshiping him. [Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja offered him a shawl and a donation.]
I request that you all give him some pranami (a donation). Not now though. I think it will be better that you give your pranami to Madhava Maharaja, Vana Maharaja, Aranya Maharaja (now Prema-prayojana prabhu), Brajanatha prabhu, and Rasananda prabhu. They will collect this and give it to him.
If you come alone, all other pandas will take not less than 200, 300, 400, or at least 100 rupees from you; they will harass you in this way and that way. But our panda is very good. So try to give at least 5 rupees; and if you can give more, then kindly do so.
This is our puja, and after class we will go to the cowshed and worship a cow.
Anyone who will donate something, prepare something, or even give one grain of rice for this annakuta festival – for his whole life and millions of future lives he will never have to beg for anything. Laksmi may need to beg, but those who take part in Govardhana Annakuta, especially here, giving even a grain of rice, any paraphernalia, preparing some laddu or anything else, giving any donation to Premananda Prabhu (who is in charge of organizing the cooking), or to me, you will attain krsna-prema – no doubt.