Today is the appearance day of Vrndavandas Thakur. He was the grandnephew of Srivas Thakur, that means his mother was the daughter of Srivas Thakur’s brother and therefore he heard about Lord Caitanya’s childhood from his mother. Krishnadas Kaviraj describes Vrndavandas Thakur as the Vyasadev of Lord Caitanya. The pastimes of Lord Caitanya in Navadvip are described by Vrndavandas Thakur. Some of the pastimes outside of Navadvip are also told, but there are so many. So he revealed how Lord Caitanya passed His childhood, how He was married, how He started the sankirtan movement and how He would preach in Navadvip. From the time he left Navadvip, information is not so great. But Vrndavandas Thakur we owe him so much for writing down the pastimes of Lord Caitanya. His birthplace is the beginning of Modadrumadvip. At the border of Jahanudvip was also the great Saranga Thakur. Lord Caitanya told him many times that he should have at least one disciple. So he decided that he would go the Ganges and the first person he sees, he would initiate him. So it happened that Murari was bitten by a snake and he was set to float on some banana trees. In India they did this if your child is bitten by a snake. They put the child on a bamboo raft and put them in a sacred river. Because they think that and hope that some sadhu who may know to extract the venom may bring the child back to life. So Murari was such a dead body. Saranga Thakur felt that he was touching him. So he said this is the first person and he gave the mantra in the ear and Murari came back to life. His parents came to get him. He said, you gave me life but I left, my guru has given me the new life, so now I belong to him. He had already died but he was a great devotee, he was unique. He used to ride on a tiger. Sometimes he would chant japa under wanted for two three days. He was already dead and resurrected. So he is at the edge of Jahanudvip and the next stop on the parikrama is the birthplace of Vrndavandas Thakur in Modadrumadvip. Usually we stop at Vrndavandas Thakur’s and there we would discuss Lord Caitanya’s pastimes. Vrndavandas Thakur was a very special devotee. He appeared today. Vrndavandas Thakur ki jai! He wrote the books in Bengali and Prabhupad translated them into English, especially the Caitanya Caritamrita, which has the latter life of Lord Caitanya. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur wrote a commentary on Vrndavandas Thakur’s Caitanya Bhagavat.

Now Mayapur is more developed. When I came to Mayapur first I saw a tiger and there were some crocodiles in the Ganges. These crocodiles were 12 to 18 feet long and their jaws are long and narrow as compared to the African ones whose heads are a bit wider. Now no more tigers or crocodiles although during the flash floods there were some crocodiles but I have never seen them.

When we started there was just a grass hut. No shops, no houses. In the morning some people would cycle to Navadvip and in the evening they would cycle back. That is all that happened. No rickshaws. Now Mayapur is completely different. So many rickshaws, shops, so many people. Now they have a Round Dome theatre in Mayapur. When you go to Mayapur you should also go to the Round Dome. We used to have 5 devotees, now we have 7500 devotees. So like this Prabhupad predicted that there would be 25 to 50 thousand in Mayapur. So it is gradually taking shape. When I was there it was in its first embryonic state. Now it is a little baby, gradually growing up! Ha! And the Chief Minister said that they could develop a touristic place.

So all these great souls like Vrndavandas Thakur gave the vision of Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya although the Supreme Personality of Godhead acted as an ordinary person. It is said that He went to Bangladesh – at that time it was East Bengal. And He visited His parental place Srihatta. So when He came back the Sylhetis spoke a different dialect, so He started making fun. Ay, ay, ay. So He would irritate some people from Sylhet and they would say, don’t you come from Sylhet – ay, ay, ay! When He was in East Bengal He had taught Sanskrit and he became famous as Nimai Pandit. Lord Caitanya’s appearance, the situation in Navadvip, His childhood pastimes, His youthful pastimes, His studying, His father’s orders to not study, His father’s agreeing that He study, then His father passed away and then He was married to Lakshmi Priya and he started to teach at his own Sanskrit school. The Digvijay Keshav Kashmiri came to Navadvip to challenge all the pandits. Then he had a paper which they had to sign that they knew less than he did. But Lord Caitanya defeated him. He did so in such a way that He saved his honor, otherwise he would have been driven out and his horses and elephants would have been confiscated. Instead he found out who Lord Caitanya was by the mercy of Saraswati devi. Then he became an acharya in the Nimbarka line. The Lord does not like people to be proud. Lord Caitanya then came back to Navadvip and went to Gaya to perform shraadha. Where in South India do they do shraadha? In North India they do in Gaya. (Devotees said: Rameshwaram, Kaveri and in Chennai in Mylapore). Check it out. He got initiated by Ishwara Puri maharaj. Came back after visiting Kanainaathshaala and started the sankirtan movement and then faced the Chand Kazi with hundreds of thousands of followers. Then the Chand Kazi said You can chant the Holy Names and carry this emblem, on one will bother You! He had various pastimes in Srivas Thakur’s garden. All these were described by Vrndavandas Thakur, and compiling the books about Lord Caitanya. I am thinking during Purushottam month we can do that. The Archives and book publishing departments are pushing me. This is my special service.

Are there any questions?

Question: Last two weeks I had a lot of pain and I could not focus on anything other than the pain. So is it possible to focus on anything other than the pain? Can you help me focus on Krishna during the pain?

Guru maharaj: The more you develop devotion for Krishna, it will be easier to focus on Him. Of course if the body is going through some extreme pain that distracts us. So like when I was a child, we used to say bedtime prayers. They would lay me down to sleep, pray Lord my soul to keep. In the west people think I am the body and I have a soul. But actually we are the soul and we have a body. Sometimes the bodily pain and pleasure is so great that it distracts us. But everybody likes bodily pleasures, sometimes we get pain. So it helps us to remember that we are not the body and that the bodily pleasures or pain, they are kind of like distractions, as long as we have the body, it is natural that we are going to enjoy and suffer. That’s how when you are hungry and eat you feel satisfied. You feel satisfied? But the spiritual happiness is not depending on the body. So gradually we learn to relate more with the soul.

In Mayapur I was having high fever and I was listening to Prabhupad’s lecture on the Nectar of Devotion. Although the body was in pain, I was feeling bliss listening to the class. And then I realized that in spiritual life you are not dependent on your body for happiness. So while we are in the material world naturally there is a material side and that causes pain and pleasure. And then there is another track, that is spiritual and that is only happiness. So suffering is a distraction, that’s why we hope that you have good health. But side by side we want that you have spiritual bliss. I don’t know what percentage is given but one can experience bliss even when your body is suffering. So it is normal to experience enjoying and suffering as long as you are embodied. But eventually one gets more spiritual bliss.

Question: During Lord Caitanya’s stay in Puri, He accepted lunch cooked by some devotees while others brought Jagannath prasadam and offered to Him. Can you help us understand this act which appears like discrimination to a neophyte?

Guru maharaj: I know what Jagannath Puri’s schedule is now but I don’t know what it was 500 years ago. Now the lunch comes out at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. There were probably some devotees who wanted to cook for Lord Caitanya. They would cook and offer the bhoga and give it to Lord Caitanya. Sometimes He would take Jagannath Prasad. Like when they fed people on Haridas Thakur’s disappearance, they brought prasad from Ananda Bazar and they gave out to all the people. So Lord Caitanya was very magnanimous. He took prasadam from His devotees, Saarvabhauma Bhattacharya, and many other devotees. They got an opportunity to cook for Lord Caitanya. That was His special mercy on them. It was not that they were complaining. They were hoping to get some service.

Question: Why do devotees encourage us to go to Jagannath Puri during Purushottam month?

Gur maharaj: Generally, I think it is to go to a holy place. But for those who are in eastern India, the holiest place is Jagannath Puri. For those in western India they go to Dwaraka. For those in Northern India, they go to Vrndavan.

Question: What is your suggestion to devotees in what measures we should take to be healthy without putting too much energy and focus on it?

Guru maharaj: I have to think about that one. Why don’t you ask a healthy person? Ha!

Question: In Mayapur salila vihar is going on. Please narrate about this festival.

Guru maharaj: Some temples worship the Lord in the water. In Vrndavan and Mayapur they do this water puja and in Jagannath Puri. The Lord likes to go in the boat and be worshipped and fanned by His devotees. So wherever possible we do for Krishna. In Mayapur we do Jhoolan, swing festival. They also do the water festival, Ratha Yatra. In Jagannath Puri they have some daily festivals. In Tirupati they have different festivals. So it is up to each temple what festival they would like to establish. Hare Krishna!

12 May 2018