“At a higher level of bhakti, we don’t commit offences because it is worse then suffering, it’s worse than death itself to displease Krishna by offending those he loves.” – Radhanath Swami
For Lord Chaitanya it was the only time of his life he went… So he was so close, he was right at Govardhan, and he yearned to see Gopal. But still in this mood of being the servant of the servant of the servant, he would not risk going by committing an offence.
Now, there are different ways of looking at committing offence. One is – if I commit an offence then I will have to suffer. That’s a very low level; but there are many much more lower levels, so at least we should go to that low level.
“But on a higher level, it is not about whether we suffer or not. It displeases Krishna when we make an offence; it is not properly expressing our love for Krishna when we make an offence.” – Radhanath Swami
There is that story of Govinda. When Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was dancing and dancing and dancing in Jagannath’s temple for so many hours and hours and hours with his devotees… and he wouldn’t stop dancing. The kirtan went on from early morning till afternoon. And finally, Nityanand Prabhu got the kirtan leaders to stop. “Everybody is tired; everyone is hungry. Please stop.”
So on this day, Lord Chaitanya was laying on the doorway, and his feet were inside. So Govinda couldn’t get in. He said, “My Lord, please! If you can slightly move, so I can get in, so that I can massage your legs.” Lord Chaitanya in the role of a devotee, said, “I am too tired. I cannot move.” Govinda didn’t know what to do. He said, “Please, please just move slightly so that I can get in to massage your legs. I want to massage your legs.”
“I cannot move.”
Few minutes passed.
“My Lord! Please move your legs… please slightly… just a little, so that I can get in.”
The Lord became abrupt. “Do it or don’t do it. Do whatever is in your mind. I just cannot move.” Then he went to sleep.
What did Govinda do? He put Lord Chaitnya’s outer cloth on his (Lord Chaitanya’s) body, and then he stepped over his body to go in the room, and massaged his legs. How many of you are willing to step over Lord Chaitanya’s body? Hare Krishna!
About a half hour later, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu awoke. And Govinda was still there, massaging his legs. And Lord Chaitanya said, “What are you doing?”
“I am massaging your legs.”
“But it is the custom that after you massage my legs, you go and take Prasad. Have you taken Prasad yet? You couldn’t have taken Prasad if you are still here. Why dint you go to take Prasad yet?”
Govinda didn’t say anything. But Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami tells us what was in his mind. He didn’t say a word; he was silent when Lord Chaitanya asked him that question. What was he thinking? “To please you and serve you my Lord, I am willing to endure the reactions of unlimited offences. But for my own purpose, I am deeply fearful of even committing the slightest tinge of an offense to anyone.”
So in this sense, for the service of Krishna, one doesn’t mind suffering. Srila Prabhuapad went on the Jaladuta when he was seventy years old – sixty nine… then he turned seventy near Cochin in the Arabian Sea. All that heart attacks and sea sickness! But he was willing to suffer anything to serve and please his Guru and Krishna. So you see, at a higher level of bhakti, we don’t commit offences because it is worse then suffering, it’s worse than death itself to displease Krishna by offending those he loves. Krishna told Durvasa muni after he offended Ambarish maharaj, “Because I am in the heart of my devotee, if you offend my devotee, you are offending me. That I take even more seriously.”
Narottama Das Thakur prays in one wonderful song, “If one offends Krishna, one can rectify it by chanting his holy names. But if one offends Krishna’s devotees, it is very difficult, because of how Krishna loves his devotee!”