evaṁ sa vipro bhagavat-suhṛt tadā
dṛṣṭvā sva-bhṛtyair ajitaṁ parājitam
tad-dhāma lebhe ’cirataḥ satāṁ gatim
Word for word:
evam — thus; saḥ — he; vipraḥ — the brāhmaṇa; bhagavat — of the Supreme Lord; suhṛt — the friend; tadā — then; dṛṣṭvā — seeing; sva — His own; bhṛtyaiḥ — by the servants; ajitam — unconquerable; parājitam — conquered; tat — upon Him; dhyāna — of his meditation; vega — by the momentum; udgrathita — untied; ātma — of the self; bandhanaḥ — his bondage; tat — His; dhāma — abode; lebhe — he attained; acirataḥ — in a short time; satām — of great saints; gatim — the destination.
Thus seeing how the unconquerable Supreme Lord is nonetheless conquered by His own servants, the Lord’s dear brāhmaṇa friend felt the remaining knots of material attachment within his heart being cut by the force of his constant meditation on the Lord. In a short time he attained Lord Kṛṣṇa’s supreme abode, the destination of great saints.
Sudāmā’s earthly fortune has been described, and now Śukadeva Gosvāmī describes the treasure the brāhmaṇa enjoyed in the next world. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī mentions that Sudāmā’s last trace of illusion lay in the subtle pride of being a renounced brāhmaṇa. This trace was also destroyed by his contemplating the Supreme Lord’s submission to His devotees.
Radhanath Swami explains how Lord is conquered by love
Welcome to Sri Sri Radhagopinath temple. Today we are celebrating Pushya-abhishek, our flower festival. Why should there be a flower festival? That is one question. The next question is why should there not be a flower festival? On the path of bhakti, we will devise our creative imagination to figure out any excuse for a festival. But, the principal, the very essence of all the philosophy, of spirituality, is discussed in this particular chapter of the Srimad Bhagavatam. In this chapter we find an identical verse that Krishna speaks in Bhagavad-Gita –
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
“Even if one offers me a simple leaf, a little water, or fruit, or a flower, if it is offered with love and devotion,” the Supreme Lord says, “I will accept!” And beyond that the Srimad Bhagavatam tells that how not only does the Lord accept, but the unconquerable becomes conquered by that love. Anyone, in whatever particular status of society we are in, one can offer a leaf, leaves are more or less for free, a little water or fruit or a flower. He doesn’t specify what type of flower, doesn’t say a gardenia or a marigold or lotus flower, any flower. Because Krishna does not accept the thing that is offered but accepts the love and devotion in which it is offered.
Sarva loka maheshwaram, everything is already God’s property; he does not need anything from us. He doesn’t need our wisdom; he doesn’t need our strength. He doesn’t need our donations, because Krishna tells in the Gita, “I am the strength of the strong. I am the intelligence of the intelligent. I am the abilities in everyone.” There is a beautiful example of how to worship the Ganges River. We take water from Mother Ganga in our palms and with the loving prayer we offer that water back into the river. Does Mother Ganga need that palm-full of water? There are limitless, trillion of palms-full of water in the current of Ganga, which begins from Gangotri in the peaks of the Himalayas and comes down to Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal, traveling 1000 miles. In some places Mother Ganga is several miles wide. What is a palm full of water? Whether we are little tiny children with small little palms away or whether we are big rustlers with gigantic palms does it make any difference to the river Ganga? It is all insignificant. Not only that, we are taking it from her and say, “By my greatness, I’m offering you water.” But, if we offer with humility and devotion, Mother Ganga considers that handful of water more precious more full than all the rest of the water she has in the river. That is the power of love and in the same way although whatever we have is coming from Krishna, when we offer at with humility, with gratitude, and with devotion, Krishna accepts it. It is a simple thing we can all understand.
Radhanath Swami explains by his personal example ‘how love behind the thing counts’
In my own life, I remember an incident when I was a little boy and it was my mother’s birthday. Now, because I am a boy, we always forget the details that girls usually are quite attentive to. And for my mother, remembering her on her birthday was very much an expression that we cared about her. But, as a boy she should already know that we cared about her; it doesn’t really matter. So I forgot it was her birthday. I came home after a long day and I remembered it was her birthday and I didn’t get her anything. So I ran back in our little backyard; it was a tiny backyard where my mother grew roses. Because it was a small yard, she only had about five or six rose plants and there was only one rose on it. She grew it, it was hers. I didn’t have time to run to a store because I was too lazy. So I just broke a rose off her bush with all the thorns on it. And I ran and I said, “Happy birthday mother,” and I gave it. She started to cry in happiness and she put the rose on her forehand and she smelled the rose. She pressed the rose to her heart and she said, “It’s not the thing that counts, it is the thought, the love that counts because you remember me with love.” To her that rose was more valuable than if I would have given her a pearl or a diamond necklace. So that’s the nature. For any gift, it’s value to the heart is the sincerity of the devotion and gratitude with which we offer it; its monetary value is meaningless in terms of the heart. So Krishna, who is unconquerable, proclaims that he is conquered by such love. Now, how could the unconquerable be conquerable? By the will of the unconquerable!
Radhanath Swami extols the glories of King Parikshit
So this particular story we are reading is a wonderful narration which brings to light this truth. I would like to relate it to you today. It is from Srimad Bhagvatam Canto 10 chapter 81 text 40. In this chapter, we find Parikshit Maharaj was a great king with a magnificent palace and a wonderful family. He had huge kingdom, and everyone loved him. Can you imagine a political leader that everyone loves? Why did everyone love him? Because he was a genuinely saintly person, he loved God, and therefore he saw every living being as the children of God. He didn’t see it as this is my kingdom, this is my palace, this is my power, this is all Krishna’s and I am being entrusted with this as a caretaker. How I treat even the least among my citizens is how I am actually showing my love for Krishna, for God. Therefore he treated everyone with respect, he protected and he gave the real rights not only of the body, of the mind, but of the soul. He provided for the physical needs through his encouragement, through his equal mindedness. He totally inspired the minds and through his own example of complete devotion sharanagati, surrender to the Supreme Lord. He nourished everyone spiritually and therefore everyone loved him. It’s a common principle. Sometimes people think, ‘Why nobody loves me?’ But a higher question is, ‘How could I love others?’ Unless we give love, we really can’t recognize love even when it comes to us in the true sense. So, he was simply giving and therefore everyone was reciprocating. But it’s a long story.
He got a message that he was going to die in seven days. He was still young, at the peak of his career. Now what would you do if you were to receive this news, where with absolute certainty you would die in seven days? Some people would go on a vacation and really enjoy like never before. There was a television show in the 1960s, it was a very popular show about doctor who was extremely wealthy and he got the message that he was going to die in one year; he had a disease or something. So he decided, ‘I want to make this year the most enjoyable year of my life!’ And it was a weekly show. One week he was skiing in the Swiss Alps, another week he was scuba diving in the Caribbean, another week he was skydiving in Colorado, he was just always doing everything. He had some very beautiful Hollywood actress with him. So the people were thinking, ‘This person is so intelligent. He really knows how to enjoy!’ The show was so popular and ads and commercials were selling so many products because so many people were watching that they had to extend his life another year so that the show could play another season, and then they extended his life another year. Until the ratings went down they didn’t let them die. So if our standard is just material enjoyment then the television show makes a lot of sense. But if we have a spiritual perspective, it doesn’t.
Real happiness is not what is perishable. Real happiness is what is eternally within us. – Radhanath Swami
So when Parikshit could’ve enjoyed like nobody could imagine with his wealth and power, he just put on a little loincloth and decided that he would fast until his death; and he went to the banks of the river Ganges. That place is still there today, it is called Sukataal, there is a Banyan tree, and there on the bank of the Ganges he wanted: to associate with sadhus, with saintly persons, and to just hear about Krishna, to hear about the Supreme Lord in his various incarnations, and to surrender his heart. This was such big news, “The king is coming just to hear from the sages,” and he wasn’t angry but he was grateful. He wasn’t thinking, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ He was thinking, ‘How fortunate I am because we all have to die sometime and I know when. So I can really prepare myself, and I’m so much involved with so many distractive activities. Now I can totally focus myself on my bhakti, on my yoga, and completely absorb myself in the highest perfection by hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord.’
Radhanath Swami narrates the entry of Sukadev Goswami in the assembly
So thousands of yogis and sages and rishis came together just to be there, to help the king in his last days to remember God. They were wondering who was most qualified to speak, because King Parikshit asked some simple questions which are very relevant to everyone. “There are many religions, many scriptures, many philosophies, and I don’t have time to study them all. I only have seven days. What is the essence of all of them? What is the prime duty for all human beings? What is the most important duty for a person who was about to die?”
So they came together to discuss who is most suitable to speak. There were people like Vyasdev, the author of Vedic literatures, the compiler, Narada Muni was there, Bharadraj Muni was there, Gautam Rishi was there, Vishvamitra Muni, Vashistha Muni, the greatest sages of history were all there, and then a 16-year-old boy named Sukadev came. Sukadev was just wandering through the forest. He was so oblivious to materialistic life that people thought he was kind of crazy. He didn’t care because he was in another world although his body was in this world. He was compassionate and respectful and kind to all. But he wasn’t concerned so much with material conventions.
People were harassing him and he was just smiling. Then these people were following him, saying things against him, and throwing things at him, and he was a smiling pranams, and then he walks into this clearing on the bank of the Ganges, and they see all the greatest sages and rishis and the king of the world all stand up to receive him. So, all these people went away. Everyone unanimously accepted that Sukadev should speak because although he was so young, he had a pure heart and he had heard from his Guru with such attention. So in this particular chapter Parikshit Maharaj is already at the end of the 10th Canto and so he has probably only about one day to live when this is being spoken, maybe 1 and 1/2 days.
And he is asking Sukadev Goswami, “I’m fasting for about six days. I’m not even drinking water but I’m feeling so complete strength, spiritually and emotionally strong, because I’m drinking the sweetness of hearing this divine lilas, the teachings of the Lord, and the pastimes of the Lord. It is food for the soul.”
Radhanath Swami describes the talk between Sudama brahman and his wife
And he was asking about this principle of devotion and Sukadev Goswami wanted to tell a special story, about a brahman named Sudama. If you go to the Gujarat province of India, there is a town called Porbandar, it is still there today, and there is a temple where Sudama lived. It is still there, very historical! I’m going to tell the history of that place. In fact, you know who was born in that same town that Sudama was living? Mahatma Gandhi! Sudama was so materially in poverty, but he just didn’t care because he was just satisfied in his devotion, in his seva. His body was so emaciated that all over you could see his veins bulging out. Even though he washed his clothes in muddy little pond, they always look kind of dirty even though they were freshly washed. His clothes were all torn up and tattered. The walls of his house were crumbling. The roof was caved in and it was like just a thatched hut, which was in terrible condition. He lived there with his wife. His wife, who was a completely pure hearted lady, didn’t mind the poverty herself, but it broke her heart to see her husband in such poverty.
So one day she approached him, and said, “When you were young, you went to the gurukul, the school of the guru along with Krishna. You see Krishna lived in the forest of Vrindavan as a cowherd boy for the first approximately 12 years of his life. And then to fulfill his purpose of his incarnation in this world, he later moved to Mathura and then to Dwarka. And in Dwarka, it was a kingdom with the most magnificent palaces.” She said, “Krishna is your friend and he is the husband of the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi. Why don’t you go there because Krishna is the friend of the poor, and is the friend of the brahmins and you are a brahmin. Just ask him for our basic needs. I hate to see you suffer in this way.” But she understood that he didn’t really care about his own suffering, and she didn’t actually care about her suffering, she cared about him. So, she said, “Do to it for me.” She knew that if he was going to do it for her he would do it, but he wouldn’t do it for himself. But she wasn’t doing it for herself, she was doing it for him, so she said, “Do it for me,” only so that he could do it for himself. Does that make sense? I don’t think it makes sense. She said, “I know you’re a devotee, and you want nothing for yourself. But why should we be living in such extreme poverty. Krishna will be happy to give us. So please go. You haven’t seen them in a long time. It’s been so many years. Go to Dwarka!”
This is the beauty of their love for each other, their respect. He was willing to go only for her sake, and she was asking him to go only for his sake. So Sudama was thinking, ‘It’s not my position to ask God for anything, except how can I serve you!” Srila Prabhupada would tell us the highest prayer is, “How can I serve you with love? How can I please you?”
na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ
kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye
mama janmani janmanīśvare
bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu offered this prayer which is really the essence of bhakti. He is praying to Krishna, “I do not want wealth, I do not want fame, I do not want great scholarship, I do not want the most pleasurable experiences of the senses, I don’t even want liberation mukti. My only prayer is that I want to serve you unconditionally, for your pleasure in any situation you put me, even if it’s birth after birth after birth.” That was the mood of Sudama. So he was thinking, ‘On the pretext of going on my wife’s purpose, I will get to see Krishna after so long.’ He told his wife, “How can I go without offering him a gift. Can you give me a gift that I can present it?”
She looked around and there was literally nothing in the house. So, she went out door to door to beg. How many of you have been beggars in India any time in your life? I used to be one sadhu and the way I was taught, it is a very honorable activity if you are doing it in the spirit of renunciation for our spiritual upliftment. But when you beg, especially in the villages near the Himalayas, people usually don’t give you anything. Usually they just say “Get out of here. We have enough beggars around. Out from here,” and then they abuse you and it’s really nice thing because it helps our ego to understand that not everyone recognizes me as a great sadhu coming to bestow blessings upon them. And when somebody does give you something, they always give you the cheapest, most worthless thing they have and what is that, flat rice. Flat rice is the cheapest food. It’s basically flat, it’s dry and it doesn’t cost anything and they won’t usually give you from the top of the barrel, they go to the bottom and they give you this kind of dirty flat rice. So that’s what she got, and it was stale. She got four palmfuls of stale dry flat rice and she didn’t have a bag, she just took it in a torn up little cloth and wrapped it around the rice and gave it to her husband. He didn’t have any pockets. So, he just kind of tied it around his waist and walked to Dwarka, the most beautiful kingdom of the world.
Radhanath Swami narrates the loving exchanges between Krishna and Sudama in Dwarka
As he came to Dwarka he saw these magnificent palaces and being a humble brahman who was used to being abused, he was thinking, ‘Are they going let me in?’ But as soon as the guards and every one saw a simple brahmana, they escorted him through these beautiful gardens to Krishna’s principle palace, and they brought him right into the inner sanctum of the palace where Krishna was sitting on the bed of Rukmini, the goddess of fortune. As soon as Krishna saw him from a distance, he jumped up from the bed, he ran across the room into the courtyard, and embraced Sudama with tears of love. He said, “I’m so grateful that you came to bless my house!” that was Krishna speaking. Then he brought Sudama on his own bed and then Krishna got on the floor and washed Sudama’s feet, offered him a very nice seat. Rukmini, the Hladini sakti, the feminine divine energy of the supreme was lovingly fanning Sudama with the little chamara fan. As Rukmini and Krishna were offering him wonderful food and gifts, they were speaking to him.
Krishna told Sudama, “Do you remember long ago, many years ago, when we were children, we were living at our guru’s ashram together, Sandipani Muni’s ashram. And one time our guru Mata, our mother, the wife of our guru, she told us “Go get some firewood from the forest.” So we went into the forest to collect wood. While we were there, unseasonable storm came about. Everything became dark, there were high winds, torrential rains and we were trembling and shivering, and we couldn’t really even walk and then the night came. But very carefully we protected the wood that we were going to bring for our guru Mata and we were lost.”
How is it that God becomes lost? By his own will! These are past times. Krishna appears within this world to perform these past times to reveal to us, the deepest philosophical social lessons through his own example. And the highest of all lessons is how he reciprocates with the love of his devotee. So the next morning Sandipani muni came to the forest looking for Sudama and Krishna and they found him. And in this way Krishna was showing the world how to be humble before one’s teacher or guru, and Krishna presented him the wood and Sandipani muni was so very deeply moved by this, even though he knew he was God. He was playing the past time and he knew that it would please Krishna by being his guru, to teach the world. Sandipani Muni blessed them, “All the knowledge in the scriptures that I have taught you, I bless, it will forever be fresh in your mind. All your desires will be fulfilled.”
So Krishna and Sudama were remembering the good old days in that sense and they spent the whole night just talking together, laughing together, and relishing each other’s company.
Krishna knows everything, he is within everyone’s heart, and he knows our intentions. Then the next morning, he asked Sudama, “Did you bring a gift for me?” Krishna just fed Sudama the most luxurious food, and he was sitting on a beautiful throne in a beautiful palace. Sudama thought, ‘How can I give Krishna four palmful of stale dry dirty chipped rice wrapped up in an old cloth?’ He felt so ashamed that he didn’t answer Krishna’s question, which kind of meant, “No, I didn’t bring you anything.” But Krishna knew and Krishna reached over exactly to where that cloth of chipped rice was around his waist, and Krishna grabbed it. He opened it and there he saw this dirty stale dry rice. With tears of gratitude Krishna took a handful of it and ate it. He went to take another handful and Rukmini stopped him and said, “That’s enough. Don’t take anymore.” She said, “By accepting this one handful of rice, you’ve already made him the wealthiest man in the entire creation.”
What is real wealth? When Krishna is pleased with our offerings, that’s our real wealth! That’s what gives satisfaction to the heart. So that’s what she was thinking in terms of Sudama and Krishna. She was also indicating to all of the others around who were really surprised, ‘How is this that this person who’s completely ragged and completely disheveled and skinny and emaciated and wearing the most worthless clothes, Krishna is embracing him and talking to him all night. He’s eating his rice.’ So Rukmini stopped him. Her real intention was that she knew Krishna was about to eat all of it and she wanted some of it, also she wanted to distribute it to all the other very opulently living people of Dwarka, because they should also taste the sweetness of the love of this devotee.
As Sudama was leaving, Krishna walked with him quite a long distance along the roadside outside of the kingdom before he bade him farewell. And Sudama is walking home now and he was very happy. He was thinking in his heart, ‘Who am I? I am just a very lowly friend, a Brahman, so unqualified with nothing. And who is Krishna? The absolute truth, the source of everything that exists, the God of all Gods, the husband of the Goddess of Fortune and yet with his own arms he embraced me with love.’ Sudama was emotional with tears of ecstasy as he was remembering the every word that he spoke with Krishna. The ecstasy in his heart is the real wealth. ‘Krishna accepted that flat rice from me and he loved it.’ And then it was Sudama who cited this verse,
patram pushpam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya pranaschati
Sukadev Goswami was saying the same verse that Krishna was to speak. Krishna is bhava grahi janardhana, he doesn’t see the thing that is offered to us, he sees the devotion in which it is offered, the intention. And even if one offers a little water, a leaf, a flower or a twig, if it is offered with love and devotion to Krishna, it is more valuable than all the wealth of creation. So he was thinking like that. Krishna was pleased with my little offering, but then he was thinking, ‘But my wife wanted me to ask him for something for us, but how can I ask him for anything?’ Prahlad Maharaj was in this mood too. He told, “Narsimha dev, oh Lord, my life is devoted to you. If I ask you for anything material in return, then I’m not devotee, I’m just doing business with you, giving and taking.”
Radhanath Swami explains what happens when Sudama returns to his home
So Sudama was thinking like this, ‘I’m coming home and I actually am bringing nothing back with me. But I’m sure my wife will understand.’ He was just too embarrassed to ask something. So he came to where his home was and he was extremely confused, because he saw beautiful palaces more magnificent than the palaces in Dwarka were Krishna lived. He saw wonderful lakes with lotus flowers and swans and beautiful parks with gardens and auspicious trees, peacocks and nightingales and cuckoos, all singing beautiful songs. He saw all smiling the most wonderful people and effulgent wearing nice clothes and they were all looking at him and he was thinking, ‘Where am I? This is where my little thatched hut used to be.’ He thought that, ‘Am I going the wrong direction? I’ve been here. What’s happening?’
Then the people came up to him and they welcomed him home. At that moment his wife got the news that he returned, and she came out of the palace. Now she wasn’t skinny and poverty-stricken anymore, she was effulgent and she was wearing nice garments and she approached her husband. And he didn’t recognize her, he never saw her like this before, and one of the people close by said, “Sudama, this is your wife.” And the wife was just looking down at the ground weeping tears thinking, ‘Just see how kind Krishna is!’
Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur Acharya tells that what happened is, in that really simple home with crumbling walls and dilapidated roof caving in, which was just a tiny one room little hut with no doors or windows, just holes, simple place, no beds, just a clay floor, she went to sleep at night and when she woke up, she was living in the most beautiful palace in the whole universe. When she went outside she saw these gardens, where there were just dry fields. She understood immediately that this is the grace of Krishna. So as soon as Sudama saw the happiness of his wife, immediately his body transformed into a very healthy body. Now all of a sudden it was nice clothes on him and they couldn’t even speak a word together, they were just so much immersed in emotion, because ultimately he only went for her and she only wanted him to go for him; they wanted nothing for themselves. Servant of the servant of the servant and it is described, and this is the most important part of the whole story, they lived in that environment for the rest of their lives, but they had the exact same spirit as they did, when they were living in total poverty, ‘Nothing is mine, everything is for Krishna, everything for others.’ Whether they had nothing, except some flat rice and a little hut or whether they had more wealth than Indra, their mood was simply to serve, ‘Nothing is mine.’ This is bhakti.
Whether we are living in a cave or whether we are multibillionaires, if our happiness comes through pleasing God, in serving others in the spirit of devotion. That’s our true wealth. – Radhanath Swami
So Krishna wanted to show through this devotee, that true bhakti is unconditional by circumstances. The real wealth is the love of our heart, because it’s the only thing Krishna will accept. It described that Sudama and his wife lived together simply giving and giving and giving and serving with no anxiety. And at the end of their lives they attained spiritual perfection. Sudama appeared again in this world. I’d like to tell you this story.
Radhanath Swami on story of Sukhlambar Brahmachari and Lord Chaitanya
Krishna appeared in the Dvapara yuga, which is about 5000 years ago and according to the scriptures which are written over 5000 years ago, that same supreme Godhead Krishna would appear as Lord Chaitanya in the role of his own devotee. And he is the one who really established this Hari-Naam Kirtan movement. So Lord Chaitanya was living in Navadwipa. One day he was having Kirtan with his most loving, intimate devotees at the house of Shrivas. Now, these kirtans were very special because these with the topmost yogis of prema, ecstatic love, and when they would chant it wasn’t just singing, it was an expression of the ecstasies of the love of their heart. They were chanting together and Lord Chaitanya, on very rare occasions, would actually reveal himself as Krishna to his devotees. So on one day, he sat in the altar and all the devotees were chanting, dancing and offering their love. And Lord Chaitanya saw a very simple brahman whose name was Sukhlambar. He had a little torn up cloth bag around his shoulder.
It describes the background of Suklambar: he had such love of God, he had such deep profound compassion, he was the happiest person because of that inner wealth, but externally he appeared really poor. He had a little straw hut that he lived in near the banks of the Ganges River. ASuklambar was a beggar, he would go to at least 10 houses every day and some people don’t give you anything, and other people just give you a handful of flat rice. That’s what beggars get to this day. So he had this dirty’s stale dry flat rice in his bag that he would beg. After he would go to all these houses in the morning, it describes, he was constantly chanting Krishna’s names. He was always in ananda, ecstasy, remembering Krishna. He would take that rice and he would clean it, he would make an offering to Krishna with love and devotion and he would eat some. That was Suklambar brahmachari.
So on this one day, he just finished his begging and the little bit of rice was in his bag, he was dancing in front of Lord Chaitanya with jubilation. Lord Chaitanya called him, “Suklambar come here, come here!” And Suklambar came. He was so totally liberated and free in the way he was dancing, so sweet, everybody was looking at him and Lord Chaitanya said, “Come closer!” As he was dancing and dancing and smiling, his bag was swinging to and fro. Lord Chaitanya thrust his hand in his bag and took a handful of rice and ate it and with tears of happiness. Lord Chaitanya thrust his hand in the bag again and again and kept eating handful after handful of that rice, and Suklambar fell to the ground, he said, “Its stale, it’s unclean, there are stones in it, how are you eating this my lord?” and Lord Chaitanya said to Suklumbar, “You may not remember but I remember. You are my poverty-stricken beggar birth after birth. In your last life you were Sudama. In your last life you wouldn’t offer me rice. I had to grab it. I had to steal it from you and similarly I am doing so today, tasting the sweetness of the love that is within this rice and it is my greatest happiness.” You see, usually when we offer food to the Lord, there are certain rituals performed. We offer yantras, tantras, mantras, we do puja, mudras. Suklumbar didn’t offer any of these but because of the love, the devotion of his heart, the Supreme Lord himself was so hungry for that love that he stole it. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told Suklambar brahmachari, “Because I have accepted your rice which was infused with your devotion I am so grateful, I am conquered by you. I have no power to repay you.”
When Krishna ate that rice of Sudama he was thinking, ‘With all that I possess of all existence, I have nothing valuable enough to pay back Sudama for this rice, because his love is beyond the limits of wealth.’ So as a token of Krishna’s gratitude, he gave him the most beautiful home of anyone in the universe. But Krishna felt himself, ‘This is insufficient. This is the best I could do on a material level.’
But what he did give them is the happiness of that love and on that day Lord Chaitanya told Suklumbar, “Because I have accepted this rice from you, I bestow upon you the highest spiritual perfection of prema bhakti. All the rules, all the philosophies, all the regulations, all the rituals of all religions are all servants of one principle – pure love and devotion. It is the root of all spiritual processes, the unmotivated love, beyond all the physical perishing wealth of this world, beyond the eight mystical powers of the yogis.” The Vedas described even Mukti, liberation from all suffering in the supreme peace of Brahman, even Mukti stands with folded palms to worship prema, ecstatic love. It is the only true experience that could give the highest ananda to the soul, to the atma, which is to feel the limitless love of Krishna and to express our love for Krishna. The highest truth of all scriptures, of all knowledge, of all yoga, the Srimad Bhagavatam explains is that, the devotee is completely conquered by the infinite sweetness of Krishna’s love, and Krishna is forever conquered by the sweetness of the devotee’s love.
We see in this material world that everyone wants to be the conqueror, but when we actually conquer our restless polluted mind and senses, then our ultimate aspiration is to be conquered by Krishna’s love, and Krishna’s ultimate aspiration is to be conquered by his devotee’s love. Sri Radha is conquered by Krishna and Krishna is conquered by Sri Radha. – Radhanath Swami
And that lila is what we are all meant to participate in. So Lord Chaitanya gave Suklumbar brahmachari prema forever, because Krishna tasted his simple dry flat stale rice, patram pushpam phalam toyam. Should I tell one more story? Because we have nothing else to do while you are busy. There is another connection to this.
Radhanath Swami narrates the pastime of Lord Chaitanya with Kurma Brahman and Vasudev the leper
When Lord Chaitanya was going on the South Indian tour, he came to the house of Kurma. Actually there is a temple of Kurma Dev, one of the avatars of Vishnu and Lord Chaitanya was dancing and inspiring all the villagers and towns-people in the area to take this name of Krishna Kirtan and dance and chant together. And as they were doing so he was bestowing such intimate love upon them that soon there were thousands and thousands of people, and everyone wanted to see the beautiful form of the Lord dancing and chanting and they were all being filled with devotion. After hours and hours of this kirtan, Kurma invited him to his home. After receiving the Lord, Kurma said to him, “I have a family and I have an occupation and the waves from the ocean of material existence are causing me so much frustration, I can’t tolerate them anymore. I want to go with you wherever you.” Now most people would think, ‘Lord Chaitanya would be very happy, he wanted to renounce everything and just go with the Lord and serve the Lord.’
Lord Chaitanya was a sanyassi and he was just a traveling swami at the time. Lord Chaitanya said, “Never speak like that again. You remain with your family, you remain with your occupation, but if you always chanting Krishna’s name and live in the spirit of seva, of service, and hear from the devotees, and speak, share this message, share this wealth of devotion with others, I will always be with you. There’s no need for you to go anywhere.” And this was his message wherever he went, “Whatever position we may be in society, whatever our status, the real change is a change of heart that is required.” Actually Kurma Brahma was a wealthy man. So, Lord Chaitanya left.
And hours after he left, there was a simple man named Vasudev, who somehow or other understood that Lord Chaitanya is Krishna himself, even though he never saw him he could feel it within his heart, and he wanted so much to see him and to serve him. But, Vasudev was totally rejected by the whole of society because he had, what was in those days in curable, leprosy. It was an advanced stage of leprosy that there was constantly puss and blood and infections osing from his sours and he smelled abominable, his flesh was decaying and there were so many worms eating his body away. If a single worm fell from his body, Vasudev would respectfully, gently pick up that worm and place it back in his body, thinking, ‘I’m living in this body and the worm is living in the body, so we are neighbors.’ He was feeling such respect and love and compassion that he didn’t want the worm to be homeless, so he would place the word back in his own body. Now we cannot imitate him but the principle is important, para-dukha-dukhi, that as love of Krishna, love of God awakens we become deeply compassionate for all other living beings, we see the soul the atma as our true brothers and sisters, and we feel for them. That is bhakti.
So somehow or other with great effort Vasudev came all the way to this house, and when he arrived he found out that almost a day ago Lord Chaitanya had already left. He felt so sad, ‘The opportunity of my life I missed.’ But Sri Chaitanya who is within the heart of everyone, who is Krishna, understood the feelings. He turned around and came all the way, walked so many hours and hours, back to that house, and there he saw Vasudev. He reached as long beautiful golden arms to embrace Vasudev and Vasudev was saying, “No! No! You can’t embrace me. On my body there is puss and there is blood and it smells terrible and it’s infectious.”
He tried to run away, but he couldn’t escape. Sri Chaitanya embraced him and squeezed into his body. Vasudev repeated the same words of Saddam Vipra from this chapter that we are reading today. He said, “Who am I? Just a simple fallen friend, a Brahman, who has no qualifications whatsoever. Who are you? You are the all merciful, all beautiful Supreme Lord, and yet you embrace me with your arms despite all my diseases.” And as soon as the Lord embraced Vasudev he was totally cured, his body became beautiful, effulgent, full of health. And he was thinking, Vasudev was thinking in his mind, he didn’t say anything that, ‘Previously I had nothing to be proud about because everyone rejected me and condemned me. But now when people see me, they will understand that I am the object of God’s miracle, so I may become arrogant, I may become proud that I more spiritually fortunate than all of you, and if that pride that arrogance enters the heart then one cannot really serve you with feeling.’ He thought he was better off as a leper than with the possibility of becoming arrogant. These were his thoughts. And Lord Chaitanya spoke to him, he said, “Vasudev, if you always chant Krishna’s names that will keep you up pure. Always be in the mood of the servant of the servant and share this gift with others, and then arrogance, pride, will never enter your heart.”
Radhanath Swami brings out the principle of unity in diversity
So today we have people from Ukraine. There are 40 devotees from Ukraine, and they are all very much affected by what’s going on there, there is almost a civil war. Some devotee’s houses have been bombed, set on fire, hundreds and hundreds of these devotees are refugees, bringing nothing with them to Western Ukraine, to Russia, to other places. They are all trying to help each other.
We have people of the Ukraine, we have people from all the various sectors of society of India, we have people from America, we have PhD’s here, probably about 20 or 30 PhD’s are sitting here. But the little people like me who only had one semester of junior college, and I didn’t even get good grades and I’m speaking. We have great yoga masters like Raghunath, Hari Kirtan, Gopi Manjari, we have babies like Tarun, we have grandparents like Mahaprabhu who are almost in their 80s, men and women, people with brown complexion and white complexion and black complexion, all kinds. But it’s this is a special feature of this festival, everyone’s just doing the same thing, plucking the same flowers, yes? The unity, Jules is here, exalted world-famous yogis, and we are all just together, one family, with a common purpose, the simple as possible thing. Who cannot pluck a flower and yet the unity of all these flower petals together is our united offering of love. Tonight all these flowers will be offered to Lord Krishna and Sri Radha. There will be over 1 ton of flowers. People stand in line to donate the flowers because it’s so special. In bhakti, there is no high or low on the basis of material qualification or disqualification. One little flower petal offer with devotion is more valuable than jewels, diamonds, and rubies, offered without such humility, love, and devotion. This is the principle of our flowers festival. May I thank you very much for participating. Hare Krishna! And now with your permission I will get off the seat and pluck flowers.
Srila Prabhupada ki Jai!!!
Sri Radhagopinath ki Jai!!!