When we get the chance to hear harikatha about manjari bhava and Radha dasyam from a Gaudiya Vaisnava, an exalted raganuga devotee, it is certainly a festive occasion for everyone of us. But when the taste for Vraja raga in our hearts is tender, we tend to be absorbed in the festive mood and we may miss the fine points of such confidential harikatha. This book offers a reader with such a tender heart the possibility to once again "hear" some fine points of these talks, which took place in Kartik 2014 in Sri Radha Kunda, and relish them in solitude through this edited transcription.
Some of the points in the following nine lectures have been adjusted by the speaker himself, Prabhupad Srila Premgopal Goswami, during the editing phase. All nine talks are also available as audio or video recordings as a primary source for those who prefer to hear it directly from the speaker.
We are very happy that Premgopal Goswami speaks such confidential harikatha for us in the English language and shares his heart with us. Furthermore, he continues to speak on this elevated subject in English, for instance in November 2017 in Navadwip (already published in English and in Hindi under the title Sri Radha Dasyam) and in September 2018 in Europe (we are praying for an edited transcription). On these two occasions the subject was Radha dasyam, focusing particularly on manjari bhava and manjari seva, the loving service of the confidential maidservants to Sri Radha and Her beloved Krishna in the kunjas of Vraja. The last few lectures in the present book also discuss this most elevated devotional service, performed under the guidance of either Ananga manjari or Rupa manjari through the medium of one's Guru manjari. We will let the readers discover and relish for themselves the nectar of pure love which shines brilliantly through the words of Premgopal Goswami.
About forty devotees from various sangas attended this harikatha. Certainly Sriman Mahaprabhu is very pleased that devotees from different sangas come together on these sacred occasions to hear and relish such special harikatha.
Shortly after visiting different Babajis in Radha Kunda on 18th of November 1973, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wrote in the Preface to his own translation of The Nectar of Instruction by Srila Rupa Goswami, "Upadesarnrta constitutes the first instructions for neophyte devotees. One should follow these instructions very strictly." And in his purport to verse 11 he writes, "Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in this connection that Sri Radha-kunda is the most select place for those interested in advancing their devotional service in the wake of the lady friends (sakhis) and confidential serving maids (manjaris) of Sri mati Radharani. Living entities who are eager to return home to the transcendental kingdom of God, Goloka Vrindavan, by means of attaining their spiritual bodies (siddha-deha) should live at Radha-kunda, take shelter of the confidential serving maids of Sri Radha and under their direction engage constantly in Her service. This is the most exalted method for those engaged in devotional service under the protection of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The purpose of human life is to realize who we are and who our Eternal Beloved is. This is the basics of spiritual life, of our eternal dharma as spirit souls, without which we remain bound by ignorance and continue our spiritually unconscious existence as the 'living dead' of this world. Bhakti yoga basics means to realize that we are spirit souls and we have an eternal relationship with the Supreme Being. But raganuga bhakti (the bhakti of spontaneous attraction of the heart) takes us further. The goal of raganuga bhakti is to realize our eternal identity - our spiritual form (svarupa) - and our eternal loving devotional relationship with the Divine Couple, Sri Radha-Krishna. The purpose of this material creation, and the meaning of existence, is to love. We were born to love, we were created for love, we are expansions of love and the nectar of pure love is our natural inheritance. However, one may naturally ask, what and where is such real love? What is the ultimate, sweetest love possible for us in this life.?
The ultimate goal (sadhya vastu) of life for human beings, according to pure bhakti (raganuga bhakti) is manjari bhava - the mood of being a gopi maidservant of Sri mati Radhika, the Supreme Goddess of Love and the pleasure giving potency of Krishna. The only way to relish Krishna in His most attractive, most beautiful, sweetest form in Varaja is to lovingly serve Sri mati Radhika - Radha dasyam. She has the highest, sweetest love for Him - Krishna prema. To taste this prema, and to experience Srimati Radhika's love for Sri Krishna, we have to realize our manjari svarupa, our spiritual form and inherent nature as Her confidants, Her expansions as young gopis whose love and very existence is exclusively dedicated to Her.
This is the unprecedented treasure bestowed upon us by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as well as the confidential essence of His teachings. That is why we call ourselves 'Gaudiya Vaisnavas'. Gaudiya means followers of Gauranga Mahaprabhu (in Gaura fila) and followers of Srimati Radharani (in Krishna fila). Sri Gauranga is the combined form of Radha and Krishna but He is more Radha than Krishna because He has taken on Her bhava, Her mood of exclusive love for Krishna. This inconceivable form of divinity, combining the loving ecstasies of both Radha and Krishna, is also the most inconceivably merciful. His unprecedented compassion is His bestowing upon us, the most degraded and fallen people of Kali yuga, the highest benediction, the highest imaginable thing for a spirit soul - the confidential service of Sri mati Radhika as Her manjari maidservants.
Forgetting Sri Radha-Krishna's lotus feet we have fallen from bur own pure nature and become entangled in maya's trickery of successive happiness and distress. However, by practising bhakti yoga and by faithfully following the instructions of Sri Guru, of our spiritual predecessors, and of the scriptures, this illusion gradually vanishes and our pure nature can manifest. Knowledge of our svarupa (siddha pranali) is part of the diksa process according to our Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. Therefore as part of proper initiation Sri Gurudeva grants the disciple acquaintance with his or her svarupa. Thereafter when the pure nature of the sadhaka - his or her manjari svarupa - is awakened, the remembrance of Sri Radha-Krishna, the embodiments of sweetness, becomes strong and we remember our Eternal Companion. This is what real love is. This is the pinnacle of devotion and the ultimate goal of raganuga bhakti.
In July 1971 in New York, Srila AC. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explained the line 'gopi jana vallabha' from the devotional song he always sang before giving harikatha - 'Jaya Radha Madhava'. He said laconically, "So, the purpose of Krishna Consciousness is to become one gopi jana." Of course we couldn't quite understand what he meant. It was Srila Narayan Maharaja who explained to us three decades later what Srila Prabhupada meant. Gopi means Sri Radha andjana means Her followers, the manjaris. So in a hidden way Swamiji said that the purpose of pure bhakti is to cultivate the mood of a manjari (manjari bhava) and to realise our spiritual form of a manjari (manjari svarupa) - a loving maidservant of Sri mati Radhika (Radha dasyam).
Who is the topmost Krishna Conscious? Krishna prema mayi Sri Radha. Krishna Consciousness means raganuga bhakti. Srila Prabhupada derived the term 'Krishna Consciousness' from the line krishna bhakti rasa bhavita matih - 'Krishna bhakti is that consciousness which is absorbed in spontaneous loving devotion for Sri Krishna' (Cc Madhya-lila 8.70). Spontaneous means raganuga bhakti. This sloka delineates raganuga bhakti. Therefore it is clear that all our acaryas in the Gaudiya Vaisnava line since Mahaprabhu teach that manjari bhava is the essence of Krishna Consciousness. We are not just raganuga but even more specifically we are followers of Sri Radha in madhurya bhava. We are Radha sneha adhika which means that our primary love and loyalty is to our Swamini Srimati Radhika (and not to Krishna). Therefore, anyone who holds a different conception of what Krishna Consciousness is about, misses the essence of pure bhakti and the essence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's teaching (anarpita-carim cirat karunyavartinah ka/au samarpayium unnatojjva/a rasam sva bhakti sriyam - 'He has descended to give us the unprecedented treasure of manjari bhavo' - (Vidagdhamadhava, Srila Rupa Goswami, & Cc Adi 1.4).
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