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A devotee sees all as God’s dear children and wants to relieve their misery.

As eternal parts of Krishna, we naturally possess some of His quality of being concerned for the welfare of all living beings.

Krishna, the seed-giving father of all living beings (Gita 14.4), is also the well-wisher of all living beings (Gita 5.29). As a father wants the best for his children, Krishna wants the best for every one of us. And as a father provides for his children, so Krishna provides for all of us – eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman (Katha Upanishad 2.2.13): “The One fulfills the desires of the many.” Through His different expansions, the almighty Supreme Lord, Krishna, maintains all living beings, in their conditioned and liberated states.

As part of Him, we living entities have Krishna’s qualities to a minute degree, just as a drop of ocean water has the qualities of the ocean to a minute degree. By our nature we want to help others and we want the best for them. Even in lower species, parents care for their offspring, groups of the same species assist each other, and sometimes, in symbiotic inter-species relationships, different species help each other.

We humans naturally care not only for ourselves and our own family, but also for our community, our society, our nation, our kindred spirits, humankind, and other living entities. Many people are trying to save endangered species, rain forests, and coral reefs, trying to reduce pollution and eliminate exploitation, and so on.

The great moralist Canakya Pandita said that one of the characteristics of learned persons is that they see the suffering of others as their own. In other words, a learned person is not callous, but caring. Srila Prabhupada concurs: “A pure devotee is always aggrieved to see others suffering.” (Bhagavatam 7.9, Summary) A number of the twenty-six qualities of a devotee listed in the Chaitanya-charitamrita relate to caring, such as being kind to everyone, being equal to everyone, and being charitable, benevolent, friendly, and compassionate. A devotee, knowing that all beings are God’s children and dear to Him, sees them equally and wants to relieve their misery.

Krishna is pleased with those who care about others and try to help them, and evidence of His pleasure may be in the measurable growth and happiness such kind-hearted people experience. A recent Time magazine article declares: “Scientific research provides compelling data to support the anecdotal evidence that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness.” (https://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4070299/secret-to-happiness/) Philanthropists and others who live more selfless lives are more fulfilled and happier than those who confine their focus to self-centered concerns.

In former ages, leaders felt responsible for the well-being of all the citizens: “King Gaya gave full protection and security to the citizens so that their personal property would not be disturbed by undesirable elements. He also saw that there was sufficient food to feed all the citizens.” (Bhagavatam 5.15.7)

“Citizens” included all beings under the leaders’ jurisdiction: “The king is meant to protect all living beings, namely the aquatics, plants, trees, reptiles, birds, animals and man. Every one of them is a part and parcel of the Supreme Lord (Bg. 14.4), and the king, being the representative of the Supreme Lord, is duty-bound to give proper protection to every one of them.” (Bhagavatam 1.12.4, Purport)

Spiritual Care

Protection and care are not limited to bodily protection and fulfilling bodily needs. Each one of us is an individual soul – an atma – incarcerated in a material body and mind. Spiritual care is to help free the atma from its awkward circumstance. Because of our spiritual identity as atma and our material predicament – our body and mind are mortal and subject to all sorts of suffering – we are kindred spirits with all beings. Krishna says, “One is a perfect yogi who, by comparison to one’s own self, sees the true equality of all beings, in both their happiness and their distress.” (Gita 6.32) Care and protection that ignore the atma and concern themselves only with the body and mind are incomplete and not approved by Krishna.

In a world full of “self-help” and “self-improvement” concerns, we can easily become self-engrossed and squelch our innate inclination to extend ourselves for others’ good – to desire that they benefit physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If I suffer from a lack of caring, a callousness toward the spiritual and material suffering of others, that fault is my responsibility alone. I cannot command this unnatural, hard-hearted attitude to change, but I can control how I act and what I say. Even if I don’t feel like it, I can choose to act and speak as if I cared. This isn’t artificial or forced, but a reflection of who I really am – an atma, an integral part of God, who cares for and about all beings. It’s a lack of caring that’s artificial. Rather than act according to the dictates of callousness, I can try to care for and about others even when my emotions disagree. By tolerating whatever happens and by depending on my innate desire to care, which comes from the care Krishna has for all beings, I unfold a new dimension in myself.

Care isn’t stereotyped; it can even extend to negative relationships. Care directed toward someone who exploits or abuses others can include anger expressed without grudge or bias, and it can include punishment meted out to rectify the offense. Srila Prabhupada writes, “The Battle of Kurukshetra was fought according to the plan of God. Arjuna was refusing to fight, but he was told that he should fight in accordance with the desire of the Supreme Lord.” (Gita 11.33, Purport) Arjuna showed his care not by nonviolence, but by fighting aggressors.

How to best show care is not always easy or clear but is always necessary. Care can encompass sternness and softness, gravity and lightheartedness, chastisement and clemency. It can mean graciously accepting unpleasant, unlikely-to-change aspects of someone, or it can mean disassociating from someone. Care based on love and girded by spiritual knowledge and detachment withstands the onslaught of our fluctuating moods, phases, and vulnerabilities.

With the dignity worthy of spiritual beings, devotees remember their goal – to please Krishna with their service and love – and relate to others on the basis of achieving it. They do not allow heartlessness to strangle their mood of caring and constrict their vision, but they figure out how to extend themselves for others’ good.

In Sanskrit, care and protection is called poshana, which includes nourishing, cherishing, fostering, keeping, supporting, and maintaining. Poshana also refers to the Lord’s special care and protection of His devotees.

Krishna Takes Special Care of His Devotees

Krishna declares (Gita 9.29), “I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all,”  which may cause one to question how He can take special care and protection of His devotees. Yet He does. He continues, “Whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” Isn’t that partiality? Is God playing favorites? Srila Prabhupada explains,

This is not discrimination; it is natural. Any man in this material world may be very charitably disposed, yet he has a special interest in his own children. The Lord claims that every living entity – in whatever form – is His son, and so He provides everyone with a generous supply of the necessities of life. He is just like a cloud which pours rain all over, regardless of whether it falls on rock or land or water. But for His devotees, He gives specific attention. (Gita 9.29, Purport)

Prabhupada further explains, “As a king maintains his kingdom and subjects but nevertheless gives special attention to the members of his family, so the Personality of Godhead gives special care to His devotees who are souls completely surrendered to Him.” (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi 2.91–92, Purport)

This so-called favoritism is actually impartiality and makes complete sense when we consider Krishna’s famous statement “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.” (Gita 4.11) Since Krishna’s devotees are souls surrendered to Him, they are eligible to receive His special reward in the form of poshana: they are especially cared for by Him. How God reciprocates with each one of us is determined by what we give to our relationship with Him.

“Those who worship Me, giving up all their activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, having fixed their minds upon Me, O son of Pritha – for them I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.” (Gita 12.6–7) Srila Prabhupada explains: “It is explicitly stated here that the devotees are very fortunate to be delivered very soon from material existence by the Lord. . . . The Supreme Lord herein promises that without delay He will deliver a pure devotee thus engaged from the ocean of material existence.”

Even in the face of life’s inevitable reverses, a devotee feels the Lord’s care.

[A devotee] regards any reverses in life as blessings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, instead of being agitated by such reverses, he continues his activities of devotional service, and Krishna takes care of him and enables him to be promoted to the spiritual world, back to Godhead. If a devotee has to suffer the reactions of his past misdeeds, the Supreme Lord arranges for him to be given only a token of these reactions, and very soon he is freed from all the reactions of material contamination. One should therefore adhere to devotional service, and the Lord Himself will very soon see to one’s promotion to the spiritual world. A devotee should not be disturbed by unfortunate circumstances, but must continue his regular program, depending on the Lord for everything. (Bhagavatam 8.4.11–12, Purport)

As Krishna takes special care of His devotees, so devotees, naturally, want to do the same – to take special care of Krishna’s devotees.

Devotees Care for Devotees

In our relationships, we usually get back what we give out. Generally, when we express our concern for others, they are also concerned about us; when we’re attentive to them, they reciprocate similarly. These exchanges are due to love, and what is love but to want what’s best for the other, to care about and care for the other?

Devotee care encompasses helping devotees who are in any way in need, and it is much more. Care is part of devotees’ lifestyle, for devotees are aware of the spiritual identity and value of every living being, as well as the goal of selfless love they and each living entity are meant to achieve. This dimension of care can create realizations as multifaceted as the atma is beautiful. Through Krishna’s unparalleled ingenuity, care between devotees can initiate ecstatic insights that reveal harmony amidst diversity, unity within differences.

Because devotees care about other devotees, they respect their personalities and are therefore gentle and polite and allow each other to be perfectly themselves. Caring for and about another devotee evokes that devotee’s innate acceptance, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and friendliness, and that can solve seemingly insoluble relationship problems.

Care expressed by both persons can help resolve relationship problems with freshness and vigor because it lets each person grasp the other’s feelings and opinions and, based on merit and mutual gain, find mutually agreeable resolutions to disagreements. And care allows us to be happy even if we don’t solve all our problems or overcome all adversity.

Care is vulnerable to pain and yet continues. It lessens the expectations we have of others, enlarges what we expect from ourselves, and nurtures affinity. It lets us appreciate our companions’ qualities and know the satisfaction of using ourselves well to benefit another. An uncaring person criticizes the fault within the person; a caring one speaks to the person behind the fault. An attitude of deeply caring about others, an attitude that originates in the atma, allows me to laugh at and become detached from my whimsical mind and its foibles. Besides humor, a remarkable sense of equality accompanies caring, for it can shrink our own conceit and make us aware that we are simply a friend among friends. We move closer to the importance, the uniqueness, and the sameness of all life.

A devotee’s care for other devotees is not ordinary, for it offers the supreme benediction. Srila Prabhupada writes, “Living entities under a devotee’s care get the opportunity for God realization by the management of a devotee-master.” (Bhagavatam 2.4.2, Purport) Why is this? Because Krishna cares for and reciprocates with those who do likewise. In his Krishna-lila-stava (112), Sanatana Goswami, a great Vaishnava disciple of Sri Chaitanya, writes, “You [Krishna] take special care for Your devotee’s devotee.”

To care is an expression of our free will; it radiates from the atma and wants to expand to encompass each atma we contact. Genuine care for others, Krishna’s gift to the grateful atma, is a powerful victory over the force of illusion that prevents us from coming closer to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Source: https://btg.krishna.com/caring-krishna-and-his-caring-devotees/

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Misers hold on to whatever wealth they have and do not want to share, and the result is they are being deprived. So here we are in Europe, we brought wealth from all over the world. We got it by hook or Captain Cook, somehow or other, we brought it in. Here it is and now we are sitting on it. But gradually, it is running out. London is still going strong but if you go a bit North, people are poor! It is like, England is sinking in poverty. I am sorry to bring it up so early in the morning but it is happening. Why is it so? Because of this miserliness, because of just bringing it all in for us, instead of giving it out. The more we give out, the more everything will happen. That is our movement. Our movement is based on the principle of namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah (CC Madhya 19.53).

It is a movement of extraordinary generosity. We see that when Srila Prabhupada was present, it was like that. Even when I joined, at that time, the Sunday feast was still fifteen incredible preparations. I mean absolutely incredible. Every single one of them was like, “Whew!” You know, I mean the rice was loaded up with cashews and paneer balls and what not. Oh! What to speak of the other preparations. Everything was ecstasy. There was abundance and nobody paid. It was all for free. The guests would just come and would eat to the max. Then they would get packages to take home. That is how it was. No wonder people were joining like anything! (laughter) It was just inconceivable – such generosity!

That purchases people. This movement will only spread through generosity. It is generosity that makes people feel indebted, “It is amazing, they give you all these things! What kind of people are these? I cannot believe it.” That is what it will do it. That is what will actually bring people. Incredible generosity!

Say, “Yeah, but then how will we live?”

Do not worry, because generosity breeds generosity. That is the principle of this movement. When we are just generous then people will say, “Wow, that is amazing. You are giving all these things away. I want to help.” Then they start to give money and just give… This whole spirit of giving, that is the spirit of this Hare Krsna movement. Then people will join and everyone is welcome.

In this way, this movement is a wonderful movement based on this maha-vadanyaya. This principle of just being incredibly generous. Vaisnava generosity is something amazing. It is about giving, not only what you have, more than that, it is about giving yourself.

Please watch the (last part of) below recent video by Niranjana Swami about similar experience mentioned in the article: Click here

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=15995

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When hungry a child not only cries but tries to put anything and everything in his tiny little mouth. Once fed, he becomes quiet and either peacefully plays or simply sleeps. Our hungry heart also always creates tantrum like a child. A mother is aware of her child’s wants but we are unaware about our heart’s needs. Being constantly starved our heart soon makes our life miserable. And we anxiously search for the elixir to calm the angry heart. But none of our attempts completely succeeds. Our solutions are mostly old fashioned. We try to stuff it up with lots of money, loads of worldly things and tonnes of pride and prestige. The carnal pleasure in this world is celebrated and so many go for it thinking it to be the mother of all happiness. These attempts instead of satisfying the heart makes it more agitated. It’s like drinking salty sea water upon being thirsty. Not just the taste is disgusting but it increases our thirst.

Satisfaction and material opulence is not synonymous. Duryodhana is the best case study. He had succeeded in driving out Pandavas, though cunningly, out of the kingdom. And Pandavas lived frugally in the jungle in huts made of wood and mud but they were peaceful and non- complaining. But Duryodhana in spite of having all the comforts and luxury in his palace was in abject misery and in constant anxiety. Why? Because his heart was filled with envy, hatred and arrogance. Whilst the Pandavas were happy as love and piety dominated their heart. Love satisfies our heart and not lust. Satisfaction calms our heart and not material hankering.

Rupa Goswami and Sananta Goswami voluntarily gave up their high profile job, luxurious house and all the money. Instead they donned tattered clothes, lived under the trees in Vrindavan and begged for living. But still they were million times happier and content then the wealthiest person of this world. Why? Because they remained completely absorbed in chanting the holy names of the Lord and sharing the beautiful message of Krishna through words and actions. Rupa Goswami wished to have millions of tongues and ears so that he can chant unlimitedly and continuously taste the nectarine name of Krishna through his ears. The purpose of our life is to cleanse our hearts and mind of all the impurities and develop deep affection for Krishna. We can at least learn from these venerable sages that to be happy one just need to become a lover of Krishna. It gives lots of joy and tonnes of happiness.

Material attachment weakens our heart whilst spiritual affection strengthens it. Most of our material desires remain unfulfilled. And if somehow some gets fulfilled then soon we find that it does not give us same pleasure as we had expected and soon we get bored. This is why great minds in the past and holy scriptures have always spoken about the futility of material cravings. Then why to waste our invaluable life running after worldly things? Instead let us take a bold decision, step out from the material mindset and look towards Krishna. Our hungry and angry heart would soon be over flooded with love and the gate leading to perennial pleasure would wide open.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=12765

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Last week, Gurukula – The Hare Krishna Primary School in Watford, UK hosted the Rt. Hon. Oliver Dowden, UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, for a visit to their creative campus. During the visit, school leaders shared their unique approach to education and personalized learning within a dynamic spiritual atmosphere. 

To learn more about the visit, see the Bhaktivedanta Manor’s blog and visit the Gurukula’s inspiring Facebook page or website to learn more about their events and initiatives and how you may support their vital service.

Source: https://iskconnews.org/gurukula-the-hare-krishna-primary-school-welcomes-uks-deputy-prime-minister/

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From Morality to Spirituality

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Until people gain the spiritual inspiration that underlies truly good behavior, attempts to legislate morality will inevitably fail.

Daily news reports of things like corruption, nepotism, favoritism, and infidelity have us fed up. Politicians say, “Education in ethics and values is the solution. ” But don’t most people already know right from wrong? I think so. They just feel they’ll fare better in life without following moral codes. And exhortation by moralists or legislation by politicians doesn’t inspire them to think differently.

Follow Rules for What?

Living by moral principles is like following traffic laws for smooth and safe travel. The purpose of travel, however, is not to follow the laws but to reach the destination. If a traveler feels that the traffic laws delay him or obstruct his reaching the destination, he may break them if he thinks he can get away with it.

Like traffic laws, moral principles promote order, specifically orderly social interactions. But modern education doesn’t teach us about the goal of social transactions or of life itself. Consequently people may stay moral out of deference to culture or tradition but give up morality when circumstances threaten or tempt them. Worse still, the incessantly glorified goals of modern consumer society—fame, wealth, luxuries, power, pleasure, prestige—encourage and even necessitate immoral behavior. The Bhagavad-gita (16.8–15) explains that a materialistic worldview leads to insatiable lust and greed, which impel corrupt actions. When people are surrounded and bombarded by materialistic allurements, they may feel that by being moral they stand to lose a lot and gain nothing tangible. Moreover, our godless education gives us no knowledge about any higher-order natural laws of cosmic accountability. And the fallibility of our penal systems is all too well known. The result? Morality appears entirely dispensable, especially for the shrewd or powerful. In such an environment, how can we expect mere platitudes to inspire people to be moral?

Love: The Basis of Morality

“Morality means lack of opportunity.” This saying catches the tottering utilitarian approach to morality. The Vedic texts of ancient India assert that morality without spirituality is baseless and therefore short-lived. If we seriously want morality in society, we need to introduce systematic spiritual education centered on a positive goal of life. The Vedic texts inform us of a nonsectarian universal spiritual goal of life: to develop pure love for God. We are all spiritual beings and are meant to rejoice in our eternal loving relationship with the supreme all-attractive spiritual being, God. Being intrinsically spiritual, we find real happiness not in material acquisition but in spiritual awakening our innate love for God. The more we love God, the happier we become.

Love for God results in love for all living beings as our brothers and sisters in the one universal family of God. When we love all living beings, we will no longer desire to exploit or manipulate others for our selfish interests. Instead, our love for God will inspire us to love and serve each other. This will create a culture of warmth and trust, which engenders moral behavior. This contrasts sharply with the modern culture of alienation and suspicion, which fosters immorality.

Genuine spiritual practices, even in their preliminary stages, trigger our innate value system. We intuitively realize that God is our greatest well-wisher. Subsequently we voluntarily and lovingly choose to lead a morally and spiritually principled life, as ordained by God, knowing it to be in our ultimate interest. And as we find inner happiness by loving God, we become freed from selfish, lusty, greedy, and egoistic drives. No longer do we feel we are missing anything because of our morality. Morality ceases to be the “difficult but right” choice. Rather it becomes the easy and natural course of action for our spiritual growth.

Not Utopia, But Reality

Some may feel, “All this sounds good, but it’s unscientific and utopian.” In other words, we live in an age where only the scientific, practical worldview is considered reasonable and acceptable. But is the Vedic worldview really unreasonable or impractical?

We need to remind ourselves that science has never proven the non-existence of God or the soul. Rather the reductionistic approach chosen by most scientists for studying the universe just presumes the non-existence of any spiritual reality. Strikingly enough, even within this reductionistic framework some scientists conclude that the evidence strongly suggests a super-intelligent designer of the cosmos (God) and a non-material source of consciousness within the body (soul).

Love of God will appear utopian only as long as we do not know the coherent philosophy and the clear-cut path to its attainment. Through genuine spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, and chanting the names of God, anyone can experience spiritual enrichment. Once we taste immortal love, we realize that it is the defining and unifying goal of life.

Higher Morality

Someone familiar with episodes in the lives of Krishna and his devotees might object: “But Krishna Himself sometimes acts immorally. And so do his devotees. How can worshiping an immoral God help us become moral?”

To understand this, we need to first consider the ultimate purpose of all morality. We are lost in the darkness of ignorance in the material world, not knowing what to do and what to avoid. Like a torch, moral codes light the way for us. They protect us from being waylaid by selfish desires and keep us on the way toward our ultimate objective—achieving love for Krishna and returning to him. But Krishna is the source of all morality, just as the sun is the source of all light. Because he is fully satisfied in himself, he acts only out of selfless love for us, either to reciprocate with our love or to help us rectify our errant ways. He does not need moral codes because he has not the slightest trace of selfish desires. It is we who need moral codes because we are filled with selfish desires. But if we become proud of our morality and try to examine Krishna with our moral standards, that’s like searching for the sun with a torch. It’s foolish and futile.

When the sun rises by its own accord, its effulgence reveals its full glory. Similarly when Krishna decides to reveal himself by his own sweet will, we can understand his pure morality and glory. Until then it is best for us to scrupulously follow moral codes to please him so that he may eventually reveal himself. And we should be careful not to become proud of our righteousness.

If we accept Krishna’s position as the Supreme Lord, we can gain some understanding about how all his acts are moral. For example, Krishna steals butter from the houses of the cowherd women of Vrindavana. But how can he be considered a thief when he creates and owns everything? He takes the role of a child to reciprocate the maternal affection of his devotees. His stealing, a naughty childhood prank, enhances the sweetness of their loving exchanges. How can that be compared to our stealing, which leads to pain and punishment?

Similarly Krishna takes the role of a handsome youth to reciprocate with the devotees who desire a conjugal relationship with him. His love for the gopis (cowherd maidens) is based not on the beauty of their bodies but on the devotion of their hearts. Some people allege that Krishna’s pastimes with the gopis are like the lusty dealings of ordinary boys and girls. But then why would highly renounced saints who give up the sexual love of this world, seeing it as disdainful and distasteful, worship the pastimes of Krishna with the gopis? Even today thousands of people all over the world are becoming free from the control of lusty desires by chanting Krishna’s names and worshiping him. If Krishna himself were controlled by lust, how could he free his devotees from lust?

In the battle with the Kauravas, Krishna urges the Pandavas to act immorally. But that is like an authority’s urging policemen to break the speed limit to catch thieves who are speeding away. The policemen are (apparently) breaking the law to serve the purpose of the law. Similarly the Pandavas break moral codes to serve a higher purpose that Krishna wants to see fulfilled: to establish the rule of morality by removing the immoral Kauravas from power.

In exceptional circumstances, Krishna’s devotees may act seemingly immorally to do his will, which is meant for the ultimate good of all living beings. But generally devotees follow moral codes as an expression of their devotion to Krishna. In fact, without devotion, we will not have the inner strength to sustain lifelong adherence to moral principles.

We need to exercise caution in understanding Krishna’s actions, which are above morality. Otherwise, we may misunderstand him and reject his love, condemning ourselves to staying below morality and suffering the karmic reactions for our misdeeds.

If we want lasting morality, empty exhortation and ineffectual legislation won’t do. As long as people are taught to pursue material goals, they will feel morality to be impractical or even undesirable. Only when they know and pursue love for God as the goal of life will morality become desirable and practical for them. Therefore at a social level we need to introduce genuine spiritual education and practices leading to love for God and inner fulfillment. And at an individual level, recognizing the spiritual basis of morality is highly empowering. It opens for us a course of action far superior to apathy, tacit approval, helpless lamentation, or indignant self-righteousness. In a cancerous tissue, one healthy cell can activate the healing process. Similarly when the cancer of immorality afflicts modern society, each one of us can, by leading a life of spiritual and moral integrity, activate the process of social recovery.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=16679

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By Atma Tattva Das

Situated near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating South Korea from the North, the Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Temple serves as a center of spiritual enlightenment and community in the cosmopolitan city of Seoul, steadily growing, offering spiritual guidance, and cultural enrichment to the people of this dynamic nation.

Patanjali Muni Das, a devoted disciple of Bhakti Tirtha Swami, serves as the regional secretary of ISKCON in South Korea and as the temple president of Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Temple. His journey into Krishna consciousness began in London and led him to this country, where he is committed to serving the Krishna-conscious community there.

The history of ISKCON in the region is marked by significant milestones, one of which was the arrival of Srila Prabhupada’s murti. Patanjali Muni Das reminisced about this event with enthusiasm. “In 2005, one of our congregation members, Shyam Kishor, felt inspired to invite Srila Prabhupada in a life-sized murti from the Ujjain temple in India.” The arrival of Srila Prabhupada’s form marked a new chapter in the community’s journey, bringing immense joy and inspiration to the devotees.

The Sri Sri Radha Krishnachandra Temple in Seoul is active in offering traditional programs and adapted initiatives to reach the indigenous people of Korea. Patanjali Muni Das explained, “We have daily worship services, including Mangala Aarti and Gaura Aarti. Every Sunday, we have an active program with book distribution, Nrsingadev arati, bhoga aarti, kirtan, and a spiritual discourse followed by sumptuous prasadam distribution.” Additionally, the temple organizes monthly choreographed harinams in different cities and has formed a musical group, Nama Ruchi Korea, to enhance outreach efforts.

Read more: https://iskconnews.org/iskcons-creative-community-in-seoul-south-korea/

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Haripada took me to Montclair, situated on the cliffs of the Watchung Mountains. There is a university and is a cultural hub for the area. There is this posh neighbourhood on Bloomfield Avenue and at Church Street Plaza, a unique juncture, with shade, where devotes sometimes go for Kirtan.

I first got the impression that people here are snooty and bigheaded, but on the contrary, we found folks are fairly fine  and thoughtful. At first, I had to remind that with just the two of us, not to come across too aggressive. "We don't need to pounce on people like some lion. Let's sound good and be peaceful and they should come to us."

Haripada is a successful business person, and is not shy to approach people. While I thumped on the mrdunga, and sang, he would catch the ear of the pedestrian. One after the other people stopped to hear him after the slight toning down. One fellow, middle – aged, by the name of Andrew, particularly came to me. “I’m Jewish. I like good music." He was actually enjoying ours. He pulled out his device and had me listen to instrumentalists, band called, "Oregon. "

“Listen to that tabla in there,” he remarked.

We made friends. Then Prem came, and I had a backup singer. Haripada was not shy to talk to the young guys, high school students, each who took a book. I'm sorry our allotted time for Kirtan and getting the books out, came to an end. 

From Montclair we moved on to to the Iskcon CNG, Central New Jersey for Kirtan, and class led by yours truly. I read some of my poetry about Rama and the Lion Avatar. Then, the longer section was spent in the Krishna Book, chapter “The Daily Activities of Krishna." I love it when listeners smile. At the end, we successfully sold, Jayadvaita Swami's book “Srila Prabhupada’s Kirtan Standards.”

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Source: https://www.thewalkingmonk.net/post/happy-in-new-jersey

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The Vedas recommend that women must always be protected. In her youth, a young woman is protected by responsible parents; in her adult life by the husband and in her old age by elderly children. The protection offered is not in the current sense of exploitation and control , but rather in the provision of an encouraging and suitable environment for the proper material and spiritual well being of the woman . Thus, without being worried about the difficulties that could come from the external environment and being valued for her role in the family a woman would easily give herself to the performance of her dharma(duties) and make spiritual progress.

Often times, women practicing Bhakti who are without the protection of a male family member owing to various reasons beyond their control, do find themselves wondering about how they can adapt to this recommendation from the Vedas. Just like there are numerous examples in our scriptures about women being nicely protected by male family members there are also examples of women who had to live without that. Now what did those women do? How did they live their lives? Where did they find their shelter? Reading about their example can be very pacifying for a heart seeking proper direction.

The Rules And Regulations Of Bhakti and the Holy Names

In the Ramayana, Sita had to be without the protection of a husband , or a father or a son atleast twice in Her pastimes. When She was kidnapped by Ravana and taken to Lanka, Ravana took Her around his opulent palace, tried to attract Her to his riches and also told Her that all his queens would become Her slaves. However Sita was not attracted to any of those things for She was completely chaste to her husband, Lord Rama. As the Ramayana progresses we also find that no matter what Ravana did, Sita remained unshaken in her love and chastity for Lord Rama and thus she was always protected even while being in a very hostile environment in Lanka.

From Sita’s example we can see how she remained true to her values and that protected her from the various allurements offered by Ravana. Her constant meditation on Lord Rama and His qualities gave Her tremendous strength through Her ordeal. This can be a starting point for many single “unprotected” women, i.e. to find their protection in sticking to values based on the rules and regulations of Bhakti and constantly meditating upon the Lord through His Holy Names. In the face of temptation, this is the one thing that can help everyone in remaining protected from succumbing to their own lower nature. Also, if one follows the rules and regulations of Bhakti sincerely, Krishna offers complete protection to them. While some primarily depend upon pepper sprays, self defense techniques and protection dogs many primarily depend upon the Lord and consider the others as secondary sources of protection.

The Guru and The Association of Vaishnavas

Later in the Ramayana , we find Sita was abandoned near the hermitage of the great sage Valmiki. She had to not only deal with the emotions of being cast off by her husband but also deal with the embarrasment of facing questions about her situation from the sages and their wives residing at the hermitage. Along with this, She was also in an extremely vulnerable state being pregnant. Valmiki Rsi arranged for Sita to live with the ascetic women near his ashrama. They took care of her just like they would care for their own daughter. Not only did Sita live there Herself as a single woman, but she also gave birth and raised her two sons Luv and Kush in that hermitage. By following dharma properly, living in the association of Guru and Vaishnavas and Her own purity , Sita did not harbor any bitterness in her heart and neither did she let her children develop a negative mindset towards their father Lord Rama. On the other hand Luv and Kush were raised as spiritually minded boys by Her with the support of the lady ascetics and Valmiki Rsi.

While the starting point is to take shelter in the rules and regulations of Bhakti, one can follow further in the footsteps of Sita by also taking shelter of a Guru and living in the association of Vaishnavas or like minded spiritualists. A woman maybe alone and not have a father, a husband or a son, but by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy she and everyone else have access to the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness or dharmā. She has the possibility of having the shelter of a bona fide guru who is the representative of Kṛṣṇa. And she has Kṛṣṇa Himself just like Sita had Rama. As said by Narottama Das Thakur in his Nama Sankirtana bhajan,

sri-caitanya-nityananda sri-advaita-sita

hari guru vaishnava bhagavata gita

“All glories to Sri Caitanya and Nityananda! All glories to Sri Advaita Acarya and His consort, Sri Sita Thakurani. All glories to Lord Hari, to the spiritual master, the Vaishnavas, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Srimad Bhagavad-Gita. “

Those four things will keep everyone’s sanity, and safety intact so that one can continue in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. At www.BhaktiWomen.org we wish the very best strength and protection to all women in their Bhakti.

– With excerpts from a lecture by HG Harivilas Prabhu[ACBSP] on ” Powerful Feminine Qualities”

This article first appeared at the link: http://bhaktiwomen.org/?q=content/protection-single-woman

For more resources for women go to www.bhaktiwomen.org

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=19094

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Shrimati Sita Devi is the daughter of the Earth goddess, Bhumi Devi, and central figure of the Ramayana. InMaharishi Valmiki’s own words, Ramayana is known as the noble story of Sita “Sita-ayah Charitam Mahat”.

Her glories are sun by the poet-saint Thyagaraja in his “Shri Janakatayane”

Oh daughter of Janaka, the blessed refuge of souls! Oh Consort of Shri Raghu Rama, bedecked with shining gem-ornaments! Pray, protect me always! You are the wind that destroys the clouds of demons like the hundres-headed Ravana; You are the indweller in the hearts of the devotees; Your Feet shine with the lustre of gems set in the crown of Indra.

King Janaka was the wise and benevolent King of Janakpuri and although a great saintly king he was childless. ‘Rajarshi – a king who lives like a sage: that was how king Janaka of Videha dynasty was renowned. He ruled over the kingdom of Mithila. He looked upon his people with love and affection.

The Finding of Sita Devi in a casket in the Earth:

Janaka maharaj was ploughing a piece of land and then to prepare it for conducting a Yajna (spiritual sacrifice). He unearthed a golden casket in which he found a beautiful girl and was overjoyed. A land ploughed by the yoke is called ‘Sita’, and so he named the baby as Sita. With the arrival of the baby, the king’s good luck appeared to soar up. His queen also gave birth to a daughter who was named Urmila. The royal couple brought up the children with great affection. They gave them a good education. The twobeautiful girls, by their noble qualities, good behavior and intelligence, endeared themselves to one and all and grew to become ideal princesses.

Sita grew up and played in the palace of Janakaraj. She became well known for her beauty as well as her devotion. She could often be seen absorbed in the Deity of the Lord of the Surya-vamsa. She would when on her own, sometimes lovingly enact the pastimes of the various forms of the Lord and relish His pastimes. In this way she revealed to those close to her that she was no ordinary young girl.

Her fame like her beauty became well known, and soon it was time for her to be betrothed and then married. As with kshatriya kings of those days Janakaraj organised that all the worthy kings and princes would come, there would be a challenge for her hand, and the victor would become her husband.

The story goes that one day, revered sage Parashurama came to visit king Janaka. He carried a bow with him. He left it at the doorstep of the royal hall and went inside. Sita saw the bow, ran to it and began playing with it as if it was a play-horse. Only those with great physical strength and daring could lift and handle the ‘Vaishnava’ bow. When Parashurama came out, the bow was missing. Ordinary persons could not lift it with ease and he, curiously looking around, spotted Sita playing with it as if it was a play-horse. The sage and the king were astonished.

The great Sage Parashurama, who is a partial incarnation (shaktyavesha avatara) of Vishnu then blessed Sita and said to king Janaka: “My dear king, only a great, and strong person can wed this girl of such capacity. Arrange a ‘Swayamvara’ (where the brides choose their spouses for their prowess) for her and let the most suitable person in the three worlds the marry her.”

In course of time, Sita and Urmila attained maturity.

King Janaka possessed a bow said to have been blessed by Lord Shiva. It was a great bow and the king decided to marry off his daughter to one who could lift it and charge its arrow. He prepared for a Swayamvara.

The challenge is sent out, “The Man Who Conquers the ‘Shiva, Bow’ Weds Sita”, and so all manner of qualified princes and “wannabe’s” came from all over the world. But how to find such a heroic young man to wed such a girl?

Many noble princes from several kingdoms came aspiring for the hand of the beautiful damsel Sita. But they were awed by the mighty bow and, saluting it turned away.

Sage Vishwamitra, accompanied by his disciples Rama and Lakshmana, arrived at Mithila. The princes, sons of renowned king Dasharatha, had conquered many demons (‘rakshasas’). King Janaka felt glad at their arrival.

Vishwamitra told Rama:“Dear Ramachandra, pray to Lord Shiva and take to the bow.” Shri Rama bowed to Vishwamitra and offered his respects. He then prayed for the grace of Lord Shiva, went and raised the bow with ease and thrust an arrow. As he bent the bow, it broke. Sitadevi came and garlanded him and accepted him as her husband. The news reached king Dasharatha who rushed to Mithila with his entourage. The marriage of Rama and Sita Devi was solemnized in a grand manner.

After this event, Dasharatha spent many happy years ruling the kingdom. Old age gradually crept on, and he decided to retire. He naturally thought of handing over the reigns of the kingdom to his eldest son Rama. He wanted to spend the rest of his life in meditation, away from the worries of physical life. He consulted his elderly priests and decided on the day of Shri Rama’s installation on the royal throne.

The king was very joyful on the auspicious day. His senior consort Kausalya Devi was engaged in worship and serving the elders and priests. People in the kingdom were rejoicing and eagerly looked forward to the coming coronation.

King Dasharatha’s third consort was Kaikeyi. She too was very affectionate towards Rama. But carried away by the advice of her maid Manthara, she claimed that her son Bharata should Succeed as the next king, and that Rama should go to forest for fourteen years. Dasharatha was shocked to hear this. All his pleadings with Kaikeyi to change her mind proved in vain.

A long time ago, the King had promised her that he would fulfil two wishes of hers. Now, as a fulfillment, she demanded that the king install Bharata as the Crown Prince and that Rama should go to forest for fourteen years.

Rama came to know about this, consoled his father and said he would go to the forest to fulfil his pledge. Rama immediately discarded his royal robes and ornaments and wearing sack-clothes, prepared to leave for the woods. Kausalya was grief-stricken. Rama pacified her and obtained her permission to leave.

After meeting his mother, Rama went to his wife Sita. She was then bubbling with joy at the impending coronation of her husband and was performing worship for his good; she was giving away doles and offerings.

Looking at Sita’s joy and celebration, Rama felt it painful to inform her that he would not be crowned and that he would be leaving for the jungle. He knows she would be shocked. Looking at his worried face, Sita asked: “You appear to be worried at such a joyous moment. What is the matter? Did anything untoward happen?” She gently wiped the sweat on his face with the edge of her saree.

Rama said: “Dear Janaki, do not feel grieved at what I am going to tell you. I have to leave the capital for a distant place. You should see me off without tears.” He told her about the king’s dilemma and said: I will go to the forest for fourteen years and return. You should remain without anger or sorrow. Be calm. The parents are old. Look after them. Be good and courteous towards Bharata also. Permit me to leave.“

Sita was saddened. She was not sorry either at the canceling of her husband’s coronation or at the demanded crowning of Bharata. But she felt angry that Rama should leave her behind and go to the forest alone. She declared: “My Lord, I can’t stay for a moment in a place without you. In your absence, this Ayodhya will be a jungle to me. The forest wherein you stay will be my kingdom. My life runs under your shadow. It is not becoming of you to leave me behind.”

Rama explained to her the rigours of life in the woods. “Sita, you do not know about jungle-life. It is not a cosy, royal garden; cruel wild animals and evil demons (rakshasas) infest it. You hear ferocious voices. You have to live on roots and wild fruits. A tender lady like you cannot withstand these hazards.You have to pass every day in fear of some impending danger. After all, fourteen years is not a long period.”

Sita would not listen to his pleadings. She insisted: “Whether it is jungle or town, it is my. duty to be with you. I do not care for comforts here. I am not afraid of the difficulties we may encounter in the forest. You are such a lion of a man. Can’t you protect me there?” Tears rolled down her eyes.

Rama eventually had to agree with her: “Sita if you are with me, any jungle is heaven. Let it be, as you desire. Prepare to leave.” Sita happily made preparations for the sojourn.

Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana also insisted that he would accompany them. Rama had to acquiesce.

Deciding to stay at Chitrakoota Mountain, the three-some left and reached their destination.

It was a picturesque area. Many sages had built their ashrams (hermitages) there. They warmly welcomed Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. Rama and Lakshmana built a hermitage for themselves.

After a time, Bharata, with his entourage, came to visit them. He wanted to plead with Rama to return to Ayodhya and assume kingship. He mournfully informed them about king Dasharatha’s passing away. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were overcome with grief.

All the pleadings of Bharata to Rama were in vain. Rama did not change his mind. At last, Bharata requested Rama to give him his sandals so that he could place them on the throne and rule in the name of Rama. He also decided to reside in the village Nandi as a hermit.

From Chitrakoota, the three went Dandakaranya forest.

The sages of Dandakaranya received them with regard and affection. They told Rama that evil rakshasas and wild animals had been harassing them and sought his help to relieve them of these troubles and protect them. Rama, by nature, was compassionate; he promised them he would free them from the menace of rakshasas.

Sitadevi was worried. At an appropriate time she told Rama: “Aryaputra, let me submit to you a few of my thoughts. Please do not think I am more learned than you. The sages narrated their problems and you promised them you would annihilate the rakshasas and wild animals. You have now forsaken all the royal paraphernalia and have come to the forest. Now you have to live like an ascetic and should not carry weapons. You have a bow and arrows for self-protection. By your promise to the sages, the rakshasas will become your enemies. I am worded about this. We cannot say what danger might hit us at any time. And also, is it just to kill wild animals and rakshasas who have not harmed us in any way? Hatred without reason may result in danger. Please think it over.”

Rama patiently listened to Sita’s words and said: “Devi, listen. We are Kshatriyas by birth and no time is objectionable for us to punish the evil doers. Can the rakshasas attack innocent sages and devour them? Punishing them and protecting theinnocent is our dharma (sacred duty). Your thoughts deserve consideration. You have thought about this matter seriously. I will go about this very carefully.” Sita was relieved at his explanation.

As Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were approaching a spot called Panchavati, they came across a huge banyan tree. Atop it sat a large-sized eagle. They thought it might also be a rakshasas in disguise. But it said: “Raghurama, I am a friend of your father Dasharatha. My name is Jatayu. When you and Lakshmana go out, I will be here with Sita and keep guard. I will try to be of some help to you. “They felt happy that they met a friendly soul in the jungle.

They built a hermitage and lived comfortably for sometime. Close by was the Godavari river. The area was dotted with hills. The jungle trees and plants provided fruits and flowers in abundance. With majestic trees, various plants, chirping birds and attractive animals like the deer, the spot was a feast to the eye.

A demoness, Shurpanakha,was wandering about in that area in search of food. She scented some human beings staying there and came to Rama’s hermitage and peeped in.

She was instantly struck by the graceful personalities of Rama and Lakshmana and wished to marry one of them. She assumed the appearance of a beautiful damsel and asked Rama to marry her.

Rama said: “I am married and my wife is with me here. I cannot bring in” another wife. My younger brother Lakshmana is alone and he is also good-looking. Go to him.“

Shurpanakha then approached Lakshmana and asked him to marry her. He said: “I am Rama’s devout attendant. If you marry me, you will also become a servant and have to be subserviant to Sita. Go back and ask Rama.”

It was a sport between the brothers. She was made to go from one to the other several times and became fed up with this game. She angrily said: “it is because Rama’s wife is here that things are happening this way. I am going to finish her off.” So saying, she came to pounce upon Sita.

Rama told Lakshmana: “No point in being too light-hearted with evil people. Punish her and drive her away.” Thereupon, Lakshmana went and cut off her ears, nose and breasts and thus drove her away.

Shurpanakha, apart from the physical pain, felt humiliated and ran away growling loudly. She was the sister of Ravana, the king of Lanka, a man endowed with immense prowess. Another demon, Khara, who ruled over Janasthana, where Rama’s hermitage was located, was Ravana’s younger brother. Shurpanakha went to Khara and told him of her humiliation. He became wild with anger and, accompanied by a large army, came to attack Rama and Lakshmana. But Rama’s powerful arrows annihilated the enemy force. The sages of the forest extolled Rama. Sita also felt happy, but a nagging worry continued to haunt her.

Shurpanakha then went to Lanka and wailed before Ravana. She narrated her humiliation and the defeat of Khara and his army. She also told him about Sita’s beauty.

Ravana felt sad; anger welled up in him. Should a sister of such a hero as himself suffer such humiliation? Hearing her description of Sita’s beauty, an evil thought entered his mind – that he should abduct Sita!

Ravana thought of many ways and finally decided to seek the assistance of Mareecha, who was his relative. Mareecha shivered at the mention of Rama. He explained to Ravana about the fury of Rama’s arrows. He advised Ravana: “To abduct Sita is a bad idea. Forget it.”

But Ravana was insistent. “If you do not listen to me, your life is finished,” he threatened Mareecha, who then realized that any amount of advice to Ravana would be futile.

Ravana’s plan was to see that Rama and Lakshmana would be lured away from the hermitage; he could then go there and kidnap Sita. He conceived a plan and Mareecha was asked to execute it.

Mareecha assumed the guise of a lovely golden deer and moved about in the presence of Sita. Sighting it, Sita told Rama: “Look at this beautiful deer. If we can catch it, will it not be an ornament to Ayodhya?”

Lakshmana said: “It is not a real deer. It looks artificial. Let us not be fooled by some tricks of the rakshasas.”

But Rama wished to fulfil Sita’s desire and proceeded to follow the golden deer.

However, Rama could not easily catch the deer. In pursuit, it took him far away from their residence. Finally, tired and angry Rama struck it with an arrow. As he lay dying, Mareecha cried out: “Ha, Lakshmana! Ha Sita!” was imitating Rama’s voice.

Sita was worried at Rama’s not returning early when heard this cry. She entreated Lakshmana to go and find out whether Rama was in danger and needed protection.

Lakshmana tried to console her and said: “My brother is the protector of the world. What danger can affect him*? There is no need for anyone to go to his aid. These are all the rakshasas’ tricks.”

But Sita did not think so. She became angry and denounced Lakshmana thus: “You have come with us with some object of personal benefit. When your elder brother is facing danger you are wasting time here. I do not approve of your designs.”

Lakshmana could not tolerate this insinuation. He was worried about the welfare of Sita if he went away leaving her alone. He invoked the demigods (devas) of the forest, and protracted the ashram by placign the Rekha line around it. Then offering respects before Sita he reluctantly left the place.

Meanwhile, taking advantage of Lakshaman and Rama’s absence a ‘Sannyasi’ (monk) arrived at Rama’s hut. He wore saffron robes, had tied his hair into a top-knot and chanted Vedic hymns like any other ascetic.
Sita looked at him and he asked her: “Why are you, such a beautiful damsel staying in this jungle suffering misery?”

Thinking that a respectable sage had come, Sita treated him with reverence and told him about her life-story. She did not comprehend that Ravana ‘had come in disguise.

The Sannyasi said: “I am Ravaneshwara. All the three worlds shudder at the mention of my name.

I have never seen a more beautiful woman like you. Come and be my queen and lead a happy life.”

Sitadevi, hearing these words, was see thing with anger and said: “You wretched man! I am the wife of lionhearted Rama. If you touch me, you will be touching fire!”

In spite of her entreaties, Ravana would not relent. He carried her to his chariot even as she was denouncing him and praying for her protection.

Jatayu, who was sleeping atop a tree, was awakened by Sita’s cries. He immediately jumped forward and attacked Ravana’s chariot, killed the driver and damaged it considerably.

Enraged, Ravana lashed at Jatayu and cut off his wings. Sita was saddened to see Jatayu fall to the ground mortally wounded. Carrying Sita, Ravana flew away in the skies towards Lanka.

As soon as Rama heard Mareecha’s cries, he felt that something was wrong. He hurriedly retreated and met Lakshmana on the way back. Rama’s suspicions grew and sensing something bad, asked Lakshmana: “Brother, What is this? Why did you come?

What about Sita’s welfare? What could happen to her by the time we get back to our place? May we see her again alive?”

They rushed to the hermitage and Rama cried out: “Devi, Janaki, where are you?” There was no answer. The ashram was empty. Rama searched around to no avail. He wandered uttering Sita’s name all over the place. “0 trees, birds, animals, can’t you tell me about Sita’s whereabouts?” At one spot Rama found a bunch of flowers Sita had worn. Nearby lay Jatayu, injured and in agony. It seemed as if the bird was struggling to keep alive only to inform Shri Rama about the abduction of Sita. It said: “Raghurama, Ravana, the king of Lanka, has abducted Sitadevi. I fought him to protect her but he beat me.” With these words, the bird died.

Rama and Lakshmana, full of grief, conducted the last rites of Jatayu in accordance with the tradition.

Ravana brought Sita to Lanka. He showed her his palace and riches. He showed her his rakshasas army. He told her: “Look here, Rama cannot come here. Forget him. There is no one more heroic and rich than I am. Become my queen and lead a happy life.”

Sita did not want even to talk to him. She held a blade of grass before her and looking at it said: “Ravana, you have carried me to this place stealthily when Rama was not present. If he was there at that time, you would have been destroyed. It looks as if your life is now ended.”

Ravana was enraged. He kept her in the Ashokavana garden and engaged demonizes to guard her.
Rama and Lakshmana proceeded in search of Sita. Wandering all around, they arrived at Rishyamooka hill. Sighting them from atop the hill, Sugriva, a king of the monkeys, sent his minister Anjaneya (Hanuman) to meet them and bring them to him.

His elder brother Vali, who also kept Sugriva’s wife for himself, had deported Sugriva from his land. Sugriva narrated his woes to Rama and sought his help. In turn, Rama told him about his own sorrow. Both pledged to help each other. They declare their friendship in front of the Fire God Agni (sacred fire).

Rama killed Vali and installed Sugriva on the throne.

Sugriva sent his soldiers to all corners of the country to search for Sita. Rama called Anjaneya (Hanuman) and told him: “Dear son of Vayu wind, I feel that you will succeed in your mission. You are the only one able to reach Lanka. Go forth and meet Sita. Tell her about our welfare. As a sign of recognition, give her this ring.” He blessed and sent him away.

The armies of ‘vanaras’ (monkeys and bears) reached the seashore. They thought to themselves, How to cross the vast sea? One has only to fly. Who is capable of it. They all agreed that only Hanuman possessed the prowess to undertake the task. Thus, Anjaneya embarked on his voyage of a distance of 100 yojanas with the speed of wind and reached Lanka he went to Ravana’s palace, searched around and found Sita at Ashokavana.

Sita sat under a Shimshupa tree. Pale and weary-looking, and wearing a worn-out saree, she was sitting there on the floor crying. She was pining: “0 Ramachandra! Can’t you see my plight? Can I be so lucky as to see you again?” Ugly looking demonesses around pressed on: “Forget Rama. Marry the heroic, wealthy Ravana. If you please him, you can lead a life of luxury. If you refuse, you will be finished.” But Sita sternly told them: I will never think of another man even in my dreams. “Rich or Poor, My Life is Only with Rama”

I would not touch another being even with my left foot.“

Sitting on the branches of a nearby tree, Anjaneya saw all and heard these words.

In the morning, Ravana accompanied by his harem came there. Ravana said: “Sita, why you are suffering like this without good food and clothing? I am the king of the three worlds. My palace, riches, opulence – everything will be yours. Come to the palace. One does not know whether Rama, living in the jungle like a hermit, is alive or dead. Forget him.”

Addressing the blade of grass before her, Sita said: “I am Rama’s wife. Whether he is rich or poor, my place is with Rama and nowhere else. I do not even want to look at you. By bringing me here, you are ruining yourself and your family.”

Though Ravana continued to persuade Sita, he was insulted by her as a coward and evil man. He was angered and dashed forward with fury saying he would kill her. He was held back by one of his wives Dhanyamalini. He told Sita: “I will give you two months time. If you do not change your mind, I will kill you!” So saying, he went away.

After he left, the demonesses began to harass Sita who was now thinking of almost ending her life, before these devils devoured her. An old demoness Trijata checked her associates and told them about a bad dream she had: “Do not harass Sita. She is the purest wife. Lanka is now faced with great danger. Ask her pardon.” Then, they left off harassing her.

Hanuman came down from the treetop and stood before Sita singing the praise of Rama.

Sita, surprised, feared that this too might be a ruse of Ravana. But Hanuman assured her and revealed his real self. He gave her the ring given by Rama as a sign of recognition and told her about the welfare of the brothers. Sita felt relieved. She reverently touched her eyes with the ring. She explained her experiences to him and said: “If Rama does not come within two months, my life will be finished. Tell Rama to come soon and save me.”

Hanuman said: “0 Mother, why should we wait that long? I can carry you on my shoulders and fly to Rama now itself.” But Sita did not agree and said: “Anjaneya, it is Rama’s duty. That duty should not be interfered with. I will suffer all the hardships here till he comes. Give this to him as a sign of recognition.” So saying, she gave Hanuman a Chudamani (crest-jewel) she was wearing and blessed him. Anjaneya returned.

Then, Rama, accompanied by the army the monkeys, immediately proceeded towards Lanka. A bridge was built across the sea.

The armies of Rama and Ravana fought a fierce battle. Ravana was also a man of extraordinary prowess. His sons Indrajit, younger brother Kumbhakarna, commander Prahasta, were all great warriors and fought determinedly. However, Ravana’s army was at last defeated, after the fall of Indrajit, Kumbhakarna and many others who died in the battle. Still, Ravana would not relent. Finally, he faced Rama directly. It was a long fight, ending in the death of Ravana. Rama installed Vibhishana, a younger brother of Ravana, as the king of Lanka. After that, at Rama’s asking, Vibhishana brought Sita to Rama.

Mother Sita had spent all her days in worshipping Rama in her mind. She had patiently withstood Ravana’s insults and threats, the how lings of the demonesses and other humiliations. She waited long for Rama to come, conquer Ravana and free her.

Rama won the battle and Ravana died but happiness eluded Sita.

Vibhishana brought Sita in a palanquin.Armies of Sugriva and Vibhishana stood in attendance. Sitadevi stepped down and going to Rama, exclaimed: “Aryaputra!” She was so overcome with emotion that words failed her.

Rama told Sita: “Good woman, you are now freed. As a matter of my duty I came to rescue you. It is not because of my passion towards you. You have been with the rakshasas for a year. I cannot accept you as my wife as before. You are now free. Go anywhere you like and live.”

Rama’s forest sojourn ended by then. He and others reached Ayodhya flying in ‘Pushpaka-vimana’. Bharata and the citizens accorded a grand welcome to Rama. Everybody was filled with happiness. All were talking about Sita. Already, preparations for Rama’s coronation were complete. He was ceremonially crowned the king.

The Fire Ordeal.

Can such a kind-hearted soul as Rama speak so cruelly? Sita could not believe her ears. “This is a great test for me. All right. If my husband rejects me, why should I live? I will sacrifice this body- to Agni” -she decided and asked Lakshmana to prepare a fire.

Lakshmana became furious and stared at Rama. Sugriva and others stood shocked. Rama stood like a rock. With tears in his eyes, Lakshmana prepared the fire.

Sita bowed to her husband and prayed: “0 Fire God Agni, if I am pure, unsullied and faithful to my husband, protect me.” So saying, she walked into the flames. All were shocked and the women present wailed.

But the fire subsided. God Agni stepped out carrying Sita. He told Rama: “She is absolutely pure. How can you suspect her?

Here, accept this pure and fine woman.”

Bugles blew, flowers were showered on them. Rama then said, “I know Sita is pure. Still, I had to do this so that people should not say something bad later.” He gladly welcomed Sita.

On occassion Lord Rama dressed himself like an ordinary person and began wandering within Ayodhya to understand what impression the citizens had of Him. By chance one night Rama heard a man talking to his wife who had gone to another man’s house. In the course of rebuking his wife, the man spoke detrimentally about the character of Sita devi, saying that he (the husband) is not like Rama who allows his wife to come back after staying at another’s house. Rama immediately returned home, and fearing such rumours, he externally decided to give up the company of Sita devi. He sent her away to the ‘ashrama’ of Valmiki Muni. Sita, who was pregnant at the time, later gave birth to twin sons named Lava and Kusa.

Lord Rama continued to perform many sacrifices during his ruling Ayodhya. At one such sacrifice, some fifteen years later, two boys came into the arena of the sacrifice while Rama was sitting on his ‘asana’. Valmiki had taught the boys the whole poem of the Ramayana and had put the story to a very beautiful and melodious ‘swara’, tune. Valmiki, accompanying the two boys, asked Rama’s permission so the boys could recite his poem. Rama gave permission, and the boys commenced in perfect unison.

Shri Ramachandra Bhagavan was deeply stirred by the depth of the knowledge of him and his pastime. Night after night the recital continued until it came to Sita’s abandonment to Valmiki’s ‘ashrama’. Rama was then convinced they were his very own sons born to Mother Sita. He sent word to Valmiki that he should come with Sita and vouch for her purity and faithfulness. If Sita was willing to come before the assembly and give proof of her innocence, she could resume her rightful place at her Lord’s side.

Everyone agreed and the next day Shrimati Sitadevi came. Everyone was touched at the sight of her, her head and eyes downcast, tears running down her beautiful face, her long hair chastely adorning her back.

iyam dasarathe sita suvrata dharmacarini
apapa te oparityakta mamasramasamipatah

lakopavadabhitasya tava rama mahavarata
pratyayam dasyate sita tamanujnatumarhasi

Valmiki Muni respectfully approached Shri Rama saying, “O son of Dasaratha, here is your wife Sita. She has been staying in my ‘ashrama’ since you abandoned her, performing austerities. She is completely without blame and is pure and innocent. Due to your position as King you played the part that you feared public opinion may be detrimental for you, and so you have also performed severe austerities. However, it is now proper that your impeccable wife be allowed to prove her own innocence.” (Valmiki Ramayana Uttara Khanda 7:87:14-15.)

Sita stood in silence, her eyes transfixed on the ground without blinking. With folded hands she said, “If Rama has always been foremost in my heart, then may my Mother Earth (Bhumi) herself deliver me. If I have been only true to him, wholly, mind, body and soul, then may my Mother Earth deliver me. If I have loved none but him, then let my Mother Earth deliver me.”

As she spoke, the earth rumbled, shook and cracked open where Sita stood. Shrimati Bhumi devi (Mother Earth personified) then appeared, seated on a throne of incredible natural earthly opulence, surrounded by ‘nagas’ (snakes), and she invited Sita to take her seat along side her.

Sita, entrusting her children to Valmiki, ascended the throne supported by ‘nagas’ adorned with fiery eyes and jewels on their heads. There, seated besides her mother, Bhumi and Sita disappeared from sight. The earth closed up leaving not even so much as a furrow on the surface as thought nothing had happened.

Sripad Madhwacharya’s Mahabharata Tatparaynirnaya 9:40., he relates,

pravisya bhumau sa devi loke drstyanusaratah

reme ramenavi yukta bhaskarena prabha yatha

“That beautiful Sita devi seemingly entered into the earth though actually she always remains with Lord Rama, just as the sun’s rays are always with the sun.”

Remembering Shri Rama, true to his vow of ‘ekapatni’, never accepted another woman other than Sita. Next to him on his ‘asana’ he kept a golden deity of Sitadevi for some time, performing sacrifices for thirteen thousand years. At the end of this period, Agastya Muni and many demigods and sages approached the Lord and reminded him that his pastimes on earth had now been fulfilled and he should now return to Vaikuntha. Lord Rama performed ‘acaman’, sipping water and reciting ‘mantras’, once, twice, thrice, then he resumed his form of Visnu, for it is from that seat of Visnu that his pastimes became manifest. “Lord Ramachandra returned to his abode, to which ‘bhakti yogis’ are promoted. This is the place to which all the inhabitants of Ayodhya went after they served the Lord in his manifest pastimes by offering him obeisance’s, touching his lotus feet, fully observing him as a father like king, sitting or lying down with him like equals, or even just accompanying him.”(Shrimad Bhagavatam 9:11:22.)

Let us offer our humble prayers to Rama and Sitadevi, path breakers of the world.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85517

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One of the Saptadevalyas (seven ancient temples) of Vrindavan, Shri Gopinath Mandir was founded by Madhu Pandit whose glories are sung in the Bhakti Ratnakar. His Samadhi is found near the temple courtyard.

Madhu Pandit was the disciple of Shri Gadadhar Goswami who came from Nabadwip to Vrindavan in search of Krishna. Here he started living under the tutelage of Shri Paramananda Bhattacharya.

Vrajanabha, Lord Krishna’s great-grandson, installed the original Gopinatha Deity in Vrindavana over five-thousand years ago.

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There are two different accounts of the appearance of Shri Gopinath who was first worshipped at Vamsi Vat. According to one of them, He manifested to Paramananda Bhattacharya while the other talks of His appearance to Madhu Pandit who served the deity for 40 years in his hut.

Later Raja Raesaal Shekhawat (Rae shilji) of Jaipur arranged for the construction of the present red sandstone temple for Him, sometime after Emperor Akbar’s Braj visit in 1573 AD. During Aurangzeb’s wrathful reign, the original Deity was moved to Jaipur and a Prati-bhuh murti was installed in its place.

Madhu Pandit Goswami blessed Shrinivasa Acharya with Gopinatha’s garland before Shrinivasa, Narottama, and Shyamananda took the bullock cart of Goswami granthas from Vrindavana. In Goloka Vrindavana, Madhu Pandit Goswami serves as Mandali-sakhi in the group of Champakalata-sakhi. 

11037408660?profile=RESIZE_400xSource: http://www.ramaiswami.com/madhu-pandit-disappearance-2/

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From Back to Godhead

In the face of extreme hardship, Lord Ramachandra’s queen reveals her extraordinary character, founded on her pure devotion to the Lord.
The epic Ramayana, written by the sage Valmiki, tells the story of Lord Ramachandra, Krishna’s incarnation as the perfect king. Lord Rama’s wife, queen, and eternal consort is Sita Devi. She is also the ideal devotee.

Sita Devi’s example shows that one who acts according to God’s desire is peaceful and has harmonious relationships, regardless of circumstances. Sita Devi exhibits her inner harmony throughout her ordeal, whether she’s hearing of her husband’s fourteen-year banishment to the forest, being abducted and imprisoned by Ravana, or being reunited with Lord Rama.

Sita Follows Her Conscience

In the Ramayana, Sita Devi first clearly expresses her own will by disobeying Lord Rama, who wants her to stay behind when He leaves for His exile to the forest. She decides that to be with Rama in all circumstances is her sacred duty. The unequivocal voice of her conscience will not allow her to do otherwise. By insisting on going with her husband to the forest, Sita defines for herself what a devoted wife is.

To convince Rama to allow her to go with Him, Sita says, “Every day I will serve You and practice self-discipline. I too will live on fruits and nuts and will not interfere with Your austerities. Taking shelter in Your arms, O Rama, I will become fearless.”

Rama replies, “O frail lady, in the forest wild beasts will lurk on all sides, waiting to attack, and we will have to sleep on the bare ground with scorpions, worms, mosquitoes, and gnats as constant nuisances. Abandon this idea of coming with Me. If you are truly devoted to Me, you will follow My instructions.”

“O Rama,” Sita says, “all these hardships will seem like blessings to me. If You protect me, I can tolerate anything.”

Seeing her determination, Rama finally agrees with her decision. On His request, Sita gives all her valuable possessions to the brahmanas and Vaisnavas, and she and Rama go to the forest with Laksmana.

Despite the uncomfortable circumstances, Sita is peaceful. She has followed her pure interior directive, choosing wilderness over civilization, simplicity over opulence, austerity over luxury, and the satisfaction of following her conscience over the distress of being separated from Sri Rama.

Sita’s Harmony with The Earth and Living Beings

“I shall remain happy by gazing at the hills, lakes, and rivers,” Sita says when convincing Rama to allow her to accompany Him.

The natural beauty of forest life delights Sita, and she feels so cheerful and at home there that she seems to prefer it to the complexities of the city. Her silks and gold are gone. She has given up her palace bed “as soft and white as milk foam” to sleep on fallen leaves. And she no longer dines on a variety of delicious foods but on forest fruits and nuts and greens. Still, she has no regrets.

Forest life reveals that Sita has a special connection with the earth, the rivers, and the animals. When the transcendental couple is first crossing the Ganges, at midstream Sita joins her hands in prayer:

“O Mother Ganga, please protect Sri Rama on all sides. May He pass these fourteen years without harm.”

When Ravana abducts Sita, she is spirited and clever, although desperate. She calls out to her allies in the natural world the trees, the river, the birds, and the animals begging them to help her and to inform Rama of her abduction. Unable to help, the trees shed tears in the form of sap, and the lions, deer, and elephants are heartbroken. Sita wakes the old sleeping bird Jatayu and drops her jewels to the monkeys who will later assist Lord Rama.

In Lanka, Ravana thinks that by speaking of his love for Sita, she will soon be won over.

Ever fearless, however, Sita tells him, “My heart is devoted to Rama without deviation, and to Rama alone. Why should I, a swan sporting with her mate within a lotus-filled lake, prefer a duck meandering on the shore? You can do whatever you like to me, but rest assured that because of your vile and sinful lust, you will soon meet with death at Rama’s hands.”

Raging with fury, Ravana gives her twelve months to surrender to him and sends her to a grove of ashoka trees, where cruel, hideous women torture her.

Over the twelve months of Sita’s captivity, Ravana grows increasingly desperate and irrational in his frustrated lust. But even though an ordinary person in Sita’s unkempt condition would be weak and miserable, she grows stronger and more thoughtful. The flexibility with which she adjusted to changing situations in the forest has given way to an inflexible resistance to the terror of Ravana and his guards.

When Ravana again entreats Sita, she places a straw between herself and him as a symbol of her unwillingness to contact him directly.

“You should withdraw your mind from me,” she says, “and remain content with the numerous consorts you already possess. You will never be able to have me. I shall never do anything contrary to righteousness, and so there is no hope of your ever gaining my favor.”

She then turns her back to Ravana.

“Give up your futile hope,” she tells him. “You no more deserve me than a sinful man deserves perfection. . . . Because you are acting perversely, directing yourself away from the path of virtue, you will soon become the cause of the destruction of your entire kingdom. I will never be tempted by your offers of insignificant opulence and royal comforts because I am undivided in my devotion to Rama. . . . I am as inseparable from Rama as sunlight is from the sun.”

Although apparently helpless and grief stricken, Sita wins the sympathy of some of the other women Ravana has abducted. In Ravana’s absence, they comfort Sita. Also, several of the guards, most notably Trijata, respect and befriend Sita. They instruct the other guards to beg Sita’s forgiveness. Sarama, the wife of Vibhisana, Ravana’s virtuous brother, also becomes sympathetic to Sita, won over by her virtue.

When Hanuman arrives and offers to carry Sita on his back across the ocean, Sita, ever conscious of proper behavior, says, “I have vowed never to touch the body of any man other than Rama. I am already mortified due to being grasped by the sinful Ravana. I could not voluntarily touch another man. Nor could I allow anyone other than Rama to rescue me, thereby diminishing Rama’s fame. I therefore prefer to wait for my lord, confident that He will soon arrive.”

Hanuman assents to Sita’s request, respecting the incomparable chastity for which she is famous.

The Source of Sita’s Harmony

Always thinking of Rama within her heart, Sita constantly seeks to reunite with Him. Her commitment to Him and her constant meditation on Him protect her and give her the strength to resist Ravana’s many advances and allurements. Although Ravana delivers more offers and more threats, Sita’s fixed faith and conviction transform her: She grows in strength and calls upon powers she has never used before.

“I would burn you to ashes myself by the power of my asceticism and chastity,” Sita tells Ravana, “but I do not have my lord’s order. Nor do I wish to waste my ascetic merits on such a wretch as you.”

Sita resistance to Ravana’s obsession drains him of the powers he won through asceticism. “Thus the soldiers of Lord Ramachandra killed Ravana’s soldiers, who had lost all good fortune because Ravana had been condemned by the anger of mother Sita.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.10.20)

After Ravana’s death, his wife Mandodari says to his stricken body, “O greatly fortunate one, you came under the influence of lusty desires, and therefore you could not understand the influence of mother Sita. Now, because of her curse, you have been reduced to this state, having been killed by Lord Ramachandra.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.10.27)

Three Qualities of Sita Devi Reveal Her Inner Harmony

Sita’s forgiveness: After Ravana’s death, Hanuman comes to Sita in the ashoka grove and, before taking her to Rama, offers to kill the female guards who have tormented her for so many months.

In accord with Her noble character, Sita is ever kind to the downtrodden.

“These guards,” she says, “were simply carrying out Ravana’s order. No blame should be attached to them. Any suffering I felt was surely the result of my own past misdeeds, for such is the universal law. Indeed, there is an ancient maxim that is always the code of the virtuous: ‘A righteous person does not consider the offenses of others. At all costs that person always observes the vow of not returning evil for evil, for the virtuous consider good conduct their ornament.’”

Sita Devi also says that compassion should always be shown toward sinners, for no one was ever found to be free of sin.

Sita’s openheartedness: As Sita, Rama, and their soldiers are returning to Ayodhya, they reach Kishkindha, the home of the monkey warriors who assisted Rama in defeating Ravana.

Sita says, “I would be pleased if I could return to Ayodhya in the company of all the wives of the monkey chiefs.”

Rama stops the chariot, the monkeys quickly get their wives, and when everyone has returned and is seated, they continue on their way.

Sita’s gratitude: After the coronation of Sita-Rama, Sita wants to give Hanuman something as a token of her appreciation for all that he did for her. She unclasps the necklace that Rama has given her and then looks at Him. Understanding her intention, Rama asks her to give the necklace to Hanuman, and she happily places it around his neck.

Evidence of Sita’s Unconditional Love

In the pastimes of Sita Devi we see the beauty of her character in contrast to the ugliness of the palace politics that drives her and Rama into exile; we witness how her love for Rama supersedes His duty to her; we see her graceful flexibility in accepting the austerities of the wilderness; we feel her fear of Ravana and admire her intelligence in opposing him; we find her steadfast and patient as Ravana’s captive; we see her virtue winning even her vicious guards to her side; we see her ferocious anger toward Ravana soothed by her constant meditation on Rama; we discover that her austerities under the ashoka tree make her not hardhearted but compassionate. All these experiences are harmonized by her unadulterated, unconditional love for Sri Ramachandra.

“I know of her undivided love for Me,” said Lord Rama. “Indeed, guarded as she is by her own moral power, Ravana could not have violated Sita.”

Maharaja Dasaratha, Sita’s father-in-law, once told her, “Your remarkable behavior will earn you a place in history as the most glorious woman the world has ever seen.”

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85503

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Jahnava Mata by Sri Nandanandana dasa

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Today we celebrate the appearance of Sri Jahnava devi, the wife of Lord Nityananda.
Shri Suryadasa Sarakhela lived in Shaligrama. He had five brothers: Damodara, Jagannatha, Gauridasa, Krishna dasa, and Nrishinga Chaitanya. His fathers name was Shri Kamsari Mishra and his mother’s name was Shri Kamala Devi. Surya dasa used to be the King’s treasurer, and it was in this connection that he was given the title “Sarakhela.”

Shri Suryadasa Sarakhela had two daughters. The older of the two was named Shri Vasudha and the younger was named Shri Jahnava. The Gaura-Ganodesha-dipika says: shri varuni revatyoramshasambhave, tasya priye shrivasudha cha jahnava, shri suryadasakhya-mahatmanah sute, kakudmirupasya cha suryatejasah, kecit shri vasudha-devim, kalav api vivrinute, ananga-manjarim kecij, jahnavim ca pracakshate, ubhayam tu smichinam, purva-nyayat satam matam. Kavi Karnapura says, “Shri Nityananda Prabhu’s dear consorts, Shri Vasudha and Jahnava Devi are expansions of Varuni and Revati, respectively. Shri Suryadasa Pandit had formerly been Maharaja Kukudmi. His bodily effulgence was as brilliant as the sun. Some say that Shrimati Vasudha-devi is the incarnation of Shrimati Ananga-manjari, and others say that Shrimati Jahnavi-devi is the incarnation of Shrimati Ananga-manjari. In truth, both opinions are correct. They are both incarnations of Shrimati Ananga-manjari.

Suryadas Sarakhela was a dear devotee of Nityananda and Gauranga. Seeing his daughters maturing into the full bloom of their youth, he began to think about the subject of their marriage. This is recorded in Bhakti-Ratnakara: “Suryadasa Pandit began to think about this very deeply. Once, thinking in this way late at night, he fell asleep. At that time, a dream came to him. With this, his mind was filled with bliss. In his dream, he saw himself giving his two daughters in marriage to Shri Nityananda Prabhu.

Seeing this wonderful dream, the pandit swam in the ocean of ecstasy. A little while later, his dream broke. The next morning, he told a brahmana friend of his about his dream. He said, “I saw that Nityananda Prabhu is Balaram Himself. His unprecedented bodily effulgence filled the ten directions with its radiance. His arms and legs were decorated with all manner of wondrous and beautiful ornaments. My two daughters accompanied him on either side of him, and, having assumed the forms of Revati and Varuni, they were exceedingly beautiful. Certainly I must offer the hands of my daughters to Shri Nityananda Prabhu in marriage. Until he accepts them, I shall never find peace.”

In this way, having informed his brahmana friend of his intentions, Sarakhela Pandit dispatched him to Nabadwipa, to Shrivasa Pandita. With great haste the brahmana left, and soon he arrived at the house of Shrivasa. At that time, Nityananda Prabhu was staying at the house of Shrivasa Pandita. The brahmana explained to Shrivasa how Suryadas Sarakhela wanted to offer his two daughters in marriage to Nityananda Prabhu. Upon hearing all this, Shrivasa became happy, and submitted the entire matter to Shri Nityananda Prabhu. The merciful Nityanandna Prabhu told the brahmana to return to Suryadas Sarakhela with the assurance that he would certainly fulfill his heart’s desire. When the news came to Advaita Acharya, he became extremely happy. He said, “May all this take place very soon.” Meanwhile, the brahmana returned to Shaligrama and gave the auspicious news to Suryadas Sarakhela. Upon hearing this, Suryadas’s ecstasy knew no bounds.

In Borogacchi grama lived the son of King Harihora, Shri Krishnadasa. He was a great and dear devotee of Shri Nityananda Prabhu. He was prepared to bear and make all the necessary arrangements for a lavish wedding, putting his own home at the disposal of the entire celebration. Wanting Lord Nityananda to accept this as his offering, Krishna dasa went quickly to Nityananda Prabhu, and prayed that he might be allowed to bring the Lord to Borogacchi gram and commence with the wedding there.

Shrivasa, Shri Advaita Acharya, Shri Chandrashekhara, Murari Gupta as well as all the other devotees of Shri Gaurasundara gathered there and began performing sankirtana. Shri Surya Dasa Sarakhela’s brother, Krishnadasa, quickly returned to Borogacchi Gram. Nityananda Prabhu also arrived there shortly, as did all the devotees from Shaligrama. Seeing Nityananda Prabhu and all the different devotees who had arrived, Suryadas Sarakhela ran out on the road before them in great ecstasy and, welcoming them, invited them to his own home, after falling before the lotus feet of Shri Nityananda Prabhu in humble submission. The Bhakti-Ratnakara records this as follows: “Falling at the lotus feet of Shri Nityananda Prabhu Suryadasa flooded the ground with his tears. With his two hands he tightly held the lotus feet of Nityananda Prabhu. His voice trembling, he wanted to speak, but could find no words. Nityananda Prabhu slowly began to smile, and gradually was unable to contain his ecstatic laughter. Bestowing his full mercy upon Suryadasa, he embraced him. Suryadasa became absorbed in bliss. Who could have understood the limits of his ecstasy? Seeing his brother, Gauridasa also became ecstatic; not being able to contain his patience, was overwhelmed with internal delight.

A little while later, Shri Suryadasa Pandita worship the lotus feet of Nityananda Prabhu and offered his two daughters—Shri Vasudha and Shri Jahnava Mata—into the hands of Nityananda. The Bhakti Ratnakara says, “In the opinion of both the scriptures and the people in general Suryadasa was most fortunate, having given his daughters in charity to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Nityananda Prabhu.

Thereafter, following the beautiful and auspicious wedding, Shri Nityananda Prabhu remained in Shaligrama Pura for some time. In time, he went to Nabadwipa dhama, and arrived at the house of Sachidevi with his two wives. He offered his obeisances to the lotus feet of Shri Sachidevi. Sachimata was delighted to see Vasudha and Jahnava. She embraced them again and again, sat them on her lap and affectionately pinched them on the cheek.

All the Vaishnava housewives in Nabadwipa showed great affection toward the two brides of Nityananda. On the order of Sachidevi, Nityananda went to the house of Advaita Acharya in Shantipura. When Sita Thakurani saw Vasudha and Shri Jahnava, she floated inthe waves of ecstasy. She also embraced them as affectionately as Sachidevi had. Shri Nityananda stayed there at the house of Advaita for some time, until Uddharana Datta Thakura requested him to come to stay at his place in Saptagrama. There he stayed for a few days, and, after taking part in a great sankirtan festival, went on to Boro Grama. Nityananda Prabhu performed endless kirtan pastimes and wandered from one place to the next for this purpose.

After some time, Shri Vasudhadevi gave birth to a daughter named Ganga and a son named Virachandra. Shri Jahnavadevi, on the other hand, had no children.

After Shri Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Shrivasa Pandita, and many other members of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s personal entourage had gone back to Godhead, Shri Jahnava Mata wanted to further inundate the world with a flood of sankirtan nectar. At that time, in Kheturi Gram, on the Phalguna Purnima day, the day of Mahaprabhu’s advent, a great festival was to be held. The three acharyas Narottama, Shyamananda, and Shrinivasa (the three-fold mercy-potency of the Lord) heard that a great festival was to be held in Kheturi Gram at the house of Raja Santosha Datta. They too arrived to take part.

The festival had been arranged by King Santosh Dutta. He was the son of Narottam’s brother as well as Narottam’s disciple. For this festival, Jahanava Devi herself, the wife of Lord Nityananda, had come. Along with her came her uncle, Shri Krishna Mishra, as well as Shirpati, Shrinidhi, Minaketana Ramadasa, Murari Chaitanya, Jnana dasa, Parameshvari dasa, Balarama Dasa, Vrindavan Das Thakura, and all the other dearmost followers of Shri Nityananda Prabhu. Jahanava Mata first went to the house of Gauridasa Pandit in Ambika Kalna along with all her followers. The disciple of Gauri das Pandita, Hridaya Chaitanya with great cordiality welcomed Shri Jahnava Mata and all the devotees. Shri Jahnava Mata with her own hand cooked the offering for the Gaura-Nityananda deities there. Having had a festival there for one night, they went on to Nabadwipa. Arriving at the house of Mahaprabhu, and not seeing Sachimata there, Shri Jahanva Mata was very unhappy to have missed her, and felt the pangs of separation. Shripati and Shrinidhi then took Shri Jahnava Mata to their own Nabadwip home. Not seeing Shrivasa Pandita and Malinidevi there, she was heartbroken and began to cry. They stayed the night there, and on the following day went to Shantipura. Finding that Shri Advaita Acharya and Shri Sita Thakurani had passed away, Jahnava Mata was filled with grief. Their sons, Achyutananda and Gopala cordially greeted Jahnava Mata and all her Vaishnava associates and welcomed them with a proper ceremonial reception.

At length, Shri Jahnava Mata, along with her devotee associates went on to a place in Kanthak Nagara known as Teliyabudhir Gram, where the brother of Ramchandra Kaviraja, whose name was Govinda Kaviraja, greeted Her with all respect and offered puja to her. After staying there one night, they all set out for Kheturi Grama.

Arriving on the other side of the river from Kheturi Grama, they found that Raja Santosha Datta had made arrangements for boats to ferry the devotees across the river Padma as well as other conveyances to bring the devotees into Kheturi Gram. He also made many other arrangements for the well-being of the devotees, including suitable housing and ample prasada. Everything was decorated very beautifully. Raja Santosha Datta personally came a long way down the road just to welcome Jahanava Mata and her company by offering them flowers and garlands, as well as many other gifts.

In this way, all the devotees headed by Jahnava Mata entered Kheturi Gram while performing Sankirtana. At this time, with Shrinivasa, Narottama, and Shyamananda in front welcomed the delegation of devotees headed by Jahnava Mata by offering their full obeisances with great humility in the dust of the road. The devotees embraced each other in great ecstasy, and gradually they filled the four directions with the ecstatic and tumultuous sound of their kirtan.

Raja Santosha Datta had caused beautiful houses to be constructed to house the devotees headed by Jahnava Mata. He also made arrangements for servants to care for their every need. Gradually the different devotees headed by Jahanva retired to their respective quarters, and after having honored prasada, they rested. Seeing that the service of the Vaishnavas had been properly taken care of, Raja Santosha Datta was very happy.

The following day was the appearance day of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Within the newly constructed mandir, six deities were to be installed. In the evening, the devotees began performing sankirtana. Shri Raghunandana, from Shri Khanda, began the preliminary kirtan. All the people of Kheturi gram turned out for the occasion. Within the midst of that great assembly, Nityananda’s shakti, Shri Jahanva Mata looked very beautiful. Upon seeing her, upon seeing the devotees gathered there, and upon hearing the divine kirtan of those great souls, all the atheists and sinners were supremely purified. Everyone had left their homes and hurried out to see the devotees and to drown themselves in the nectar of the kirtan. Everyone dived and surfaced in the ocean of ecstasy, and in this way were drowned in the bliss of Vaikuntha. In this way, the kirtan continued until midnight.

The following day, with great pomp, and before a huge crowd, Shrinivas Acharya himself performed the abhishek ceremony for the installation of the six deities. On the order of Jahnava Mata and the devotees, Narottama Thakura began to perform kirtan. In the midst of that kirtan, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu Himself, accompanied Nityananda Prabhu and all his eternal associates, made his divine appearance. Who can describe the overflowing of ecstasy felt by the assembled devotees there in Kheturi Grama on that day? Those who could remember that festival all attained eternal fame.

On the third day of the festival, Jahanva Mata herself cooked the bhoga for the deities. “Shri Jahnava Devi was extremely delighted by the Sankirtan festival. After purifying herself by bathing in the Ganges at midday, with great enthusiasm, she cooked wonderful preparations of rice, vegetables and other things. Her cooking was unprecedented.” (BR 10th Taranga).

Shri Jahnava Mata herself distributed prasada by her own hand to the great souls present there at that grand festival. After the festival was over, Jahnava Mata left Kheturi Gram accompanied by her entourage of devotees, and set out for Vrindvana. On the way there, they passed through Prayaga and Kashi and arrived in Mathura. There they visited Krishna’s holy birthplace, and, after bathing at Vishrama Ghata, they entered Vrindavana. In order to welcome Shri Jahanva Mata, some of the Vrindvana devotees met her in Mathura. Shri Parameshvari Das describes this meeting, and mentions the names of the different devotees who turned out to meet her, as follows:

“There was Gopal Bhatta Goswami, a reservoir of gaur-prema, and Bhugarbha Goswami, as well as the highly qualified Lokanatha. Krishna dasa brahmachari and Shri Krishna Pandita, Shri Madhu Pandit and the celebrated Shri Jiva were also present there. All of them were introduced to Jahnava Mata, who was informed of their names by Jiva Goswami. Hearing all this, Jahnava Mata’s great ecstasy was increased.” (Bhakti Ratnakara)

Having approached Shri Jahnava Mata, all the goswamis present there fell before her lotus feet and offered their pranams, and she allso offered her pranams to them. Shri Jahnava Mata, seeing the ecstatic efforts of the Goswamis was very happy. At last she toured the holy places in Vrindavana and saw the different deities of Vrindavana, headed by Shri Govinda, Shri Gopinatha, and Shri Madana Mohana. The Goswamis had made an extensive effort to see to it that the arrangements for Jahnava Mata’s stay were topmost. After some days in Vrindavana, she went to see Govardhan hill, Radha-kunda and Shyamakunda. When she visited the different places of the Lord’s pastimes, different divine moods amd emotions connected with those pastimes awakened within her. In this way, after wandering about in Vrindavana for some time, she returned to Gaudadesha, Bengal.

Having reached Gaudamandala, the greater circle of Mahaprabhu’s pastimes in Bengal, She first went to Kheturi Gram. There, the devotees came out to greet and welcome her, led by Narottama and Ramchandra Kaviraja. After staying there a few days, she went on to Budhari Gram. In Budhari Grama lived ther brother of Vamshidasa, Shri Shyamadasa Chakravarti. She proposed that his daughter Shri Hemalata should be married to Boro Gangadasa. On her order, Shyamadasa gave his daughter to Boro Gangadasa. After the wedding, Jahnava Mata gave Gangadasa the responsibilty of worshiping the deity of Shyamasundara. After staying in Badhuri Gram for some time, Jahnava Mata went to see the birthplace of Shri Nityananda Prabhu in the village of Ekachakra. As she took darshan there, she heard about the father and mother of Shri Nityananda, Harai Pandit and Padmavati. Hearing about her father-in-law and mother-in-law, and meditating upon them, She was overwhelmed with separation and began to weep. In the company of a local brahman, she saw the different places of Nityananda Prabhu’s childhood pastimes. No one can describe the bliss she felt upon seeing those places. That day she stayed at the empty house which had once been occupied by Nityananda’s parents, which had once been Nityananda’s home. She passed the night chanting the names of the Lord in kirtan.

Having stayed for one night in Ekachakra, she went to Kanthak Nagara, near Katwa. She say the place of the Lord’s sannyasa, and wept. From there, she went to Yajigram, to the house of Shrinivasa Thakura. The devotees there, headed by Shrinivasa Acharya, welcomed her with great devotion. Shrinivasa invited her into his home and performed a puja in honor of Jahnava Mata, worshiping her. In this way, that best of Acharyas, Shrinivasa, absorbed himself in the service of Jahnava Mata. After staying in Yajigram for some days, she again returned to Nabadwipa, to the birthplace of Shriman Mahaprabhu. At that time, Ishan, the family servant of Mahaprabhu was in his ripe old age. Upon entering the house of Mahaprabhu, Jahanva Mata fainted in ecstasy. Seeing her absorbed in a divine trance of ecstasy, the devotees also became ecstatic and began to weep tears of prem. Fromt he house of Mahaprabhu, She went to the courtyard of Shrivasa, where she spent the night. And all night, in the coutryard of Shrivasa, the devotees engaged in mahasankirtana, dancing and chanting with great enthusiasm, for the courtyard of Shrivasa is where Mahaprabhu began his sankirtan pastimes. That night, Jahanva Mata had a dream in which she saw Shri Gaurasundara and his devotees performing different pastimes.

The following day, She offered her prayers again and again to the holy dham of Nabadwipa, and then turned towards Ambika Kalna and set out in that direction. At again being visited by Shri Jahnava Mata, the residents of Ambika Kalna were overjoyed. Remembering Gauridasa Pandita, who had since passed away, Shri Jahnava Mata wept again and again. She offered her prayers there, at the lotus feet of the Shri Gaura and Nityananda deities. There the devotees began a kirtan, and in the midst of that great and tumultuous kirtan, Gaura and Nityananda personally appeared. That night, Jahnava Mata, as she had done previously, cooked many preparations for the pleasure of Gaura-Nityananda and offered it them upon the altar. Later, she herself distributed that prasada to the devotees there. That night, as she slept, in her dreams she saw Gauridasa Pandita with Gaura and Nityananda. They all offered Jahnava Mata their blessings.

The following day, bidding farewell to the devotees, Jahanva Mata went to the home of Uddharana Datta Thakura. There, after staying for a one-night sankirtan festival, she got in a boat and returned to her own home in Khorodoha Gram. In Khoradoha Gram, upon seeing her once again, the devotees felt boundless joy. With great eagerness everyone tried to push in front of the crowd to catch a glimpse of her. The devotees greeted her with sankirtan. Nityananda’s son, Birchandra and his daughter Shri Ganga offered their prayers at the lotus feet of Shri Jahnava Mata, and in turn were affectionately embraced by her. She smelled their heads in affection. After this, Jahnava Mata and Shri Vasudha devi, offered their respects to each other. After this, Shri Jahnava Mata spoke of her visit to the different holy places in Gaura Mandala and Vraja Mandala with all the devotees. Shri Jahnava Mata retained Parameshvari Thakura as a servant. The two of them were unlimitedly happy to see one another once again. The other devotees bid their farewells.

The story of Shri Jahnava Mata’s pilgrimage throughout the holy places of Gaura Mandala and Vraja Mandala has become quite famous throughout the society of Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Shri Jahnava Mata is a reservoir of prema-bhakti and is known as Nityananda-svarupini—the other self of Nityananda Prabhu. She delivered many sinners and atheists by her mercy. Her divine opulence (aishavarya) and sweetness (madhurya) are both astounding.

The birthday of Shri Jahnava Mata, the shakti of Nityananda, is celebrated on the 8th day of the full moon in the month of Vaishakha.

Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in his Kalyana Kalpataru has prayed as follows at the lotus feet of Shri Jahnava Mata:

“Having fallen into this ocean of misery, my life is a bewilderment, and I do not know how to reach its shore, nor even where to search for it. All my efforts (karma) are useless, all my knowledge (jnana) is useless, as are mysticism (yoga), austerity, religious penance, and mundane piety. None of these processes have any power to rescue me. I am weak, helpless. I don’t know how to swim across this ocean of ignorance. Who will deliver me from this dangerous predicament? Within this dangerous ocean of material existence I see the crocodiles of sense gratification—what a terrible sight! Within this ocean, I am tossed about by the turbulent waves which constantly boil and churn like a ship without a rudder. The impulses and urges that I have acquired from my previous births are like a wind that blows the ship in all directions. My mind is unsteady. This ship has no captain, no direction. I weep in despair, seeing that I cannot cross this ocean of misery. O Jahnava Devi! Today, by the power of your divine qualities, be merciful to this servant of yours. Dispell this illusion which torments me, and relieve me of the anguish of material existence. Let me take shelter at your lotus feet, for in this way I shall certainly cross over the ocean of birth and death. You are Nityananda-shakti—the divine energy of Nityananda Himself. You are the guru of Krishna-bhakti. Be merciful to me and grant me the shade of your holy lotus feet, which are like a wish-fulfilling tree. You have delivered countless abominable sinners. Please deliver me in the same way. Today, this lowly sinner falls at your holy feet, praying for your mercy.”

[This article and more information at www.stephen-knapp.com]

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85515

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Janaka Maharaja did not have any children, so the Brahmins suggested to him to do a hola-yajna.  “You take a plough and draw a line around the palace.  When you move the plough, it will get stuck in the mud, and every time it gets stuck you have to donate gold to the priests. In this way you are giving a lot of charity and you are getting a lot of blessings so you will get children.”

In one place it got stuck, and after giving all the gold, still the plough would not move on.  “There must be some big rock there,” everybody said, so they dug and found a box.  And inside the box was a baby, a female baby, and she looked just like Laksmi.  She was known as Janaki, the daughter of Janaka, and she grew up in the palace. When Siradhvaja (Janaka) was plowing a field, from the front of his plow [sira] appeared a daughter named Sitadevi. Thus he was known as Siradhvaja.

MARRIAGE

Janaka made an arrangement for the marriage of Sita. He wrote a message that read, “If anyone wants to try and string this bow and get my daughter, then please come.” Many princes came, Ravana came, and he put his hands on each side, and he lifted the bow. So then Siva went inside the bow and pressed down.  Ravana got stuck, finally Lord Siva let go. And then Rama came, but he didn’t use two hands, only one.  He put his foot on the other end of the bow and he took the string.  As he pulled it, the bow broke into two pieces.  Everyone clapped their hands, and flowers fell from heaven.  Then Lord Ramacandra got married to Sita.

10476893696?profile=RESIZE_192X10476894266?profile=RESIZE_400xSource: http://www.ramaiswami.com/appearance-of-sita-devi-2/

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There is no mention of Sri Madhu Pandit in Caitanya Caritamrta. Only it is mentioned in Bhakti Ratnakar that Sri Gopinathji manifested Himself before Him. [B. R. 2.473]

Oh Srinivas! What more can I say? The Lord reveals Himself to his pure devotee, who then preaches his glories to the world. Who can describe their incomprehensible activities by which the Lord becomes subservient to their love. Thus did Sri Brajendra Kumar reveal himself to Paramananda Bhattacarya and Sri Madhu Pandit, who is the abode of many wonderful qualities.

“Thus has Sri Gopinathji, who is an ocean of mercy, and who sports on the enchantingly beautiful banks of Bansibat, become manifested by the grace of Sri Madhu Pandit.” [Sadhan Dipikayam]

Thus Sri Madhu Pandit became the servant of Sri Gopinath, whose bodily luster steals away the minds of everyone. Hundreds and thousands of people came running to see Him, famed as He is as sweetness personified. When the soothing sweetness and coolness of his charming form entered their hearts through their eyes, they found that the burning fire of material existence which had previously been burning there, was now extinguished.

The Deity of Sri Nanda Dulal which was fashioned from the same sila as Sri Shyamsundar (Khardaha) and Sri Ballabajiv (Ballabhapur), and which was brought from the Nawab’s palace, is considered by some, to have been worshipped previously by Sri Madhu Pandit.

Sri Nanda Dulal is still residing in the village of Saibona, which can bereached by bus from Khardaha. One has to get down at Matarangi Mor, and then proceed by rikshaw to the temple of Sri Nandadulal. The seva-puja is at present being conducted by disciples of Srila Omkarnath.

When Srinivas and his companions were preparing to depart from Sri Brindavan Dham with the bullock cart of books, Madhu Pandit presented him the flower garland of Sri Gopinathji as his blessing.

Madhu Pandit was the disciple of Sri Gadadhar Pandit.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=95501

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Appearance Day of Srimati Sita Devi

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Today marks the auspicious appearance day of a very great female personality, namely Sita Devi, the consort of Lord Ram. Sita Devi, one of the most prominent personalities in the great epic Ramayan, is an epitome of pure love and devotion and an exemplary chaste wife. Her character and her pastimes set a great example and high standards for all women in today’s world, whether in the role of a daughter, wife, mother or in fact in any role at all. It also shows the strength pure hearted women can have, and is a good warning to everyone to never disrespect a respectable woman.

The appearance of Devi Sita on this planet was truly extraordinary and was an indicator of her divinity. Once, when there was a drought in the kingdom of Mithila, the janak at that time, maharaj Seeradhwaja, with the instructions of the Brahmanas, performed a Yajna to invoke the blessings of the Lord so that his kingdom may be freed from the disturbances created by the draught. After the Yajna was performed the Brahmanas instructed Maharaj Janak to plough the earth himself so that the sacrifice would bear the desried result. When Janak, who was a very saintly and learned king, was thus ploughing the land, the tip of the plough got stuck to something in the ground, which when dug, revealed a beautiful golden box. In that box, lay an exquisitely beautiful and divine baby girl. The king, who was childless till then, was extremely happy at heart to receive this girl and excepted her as his daughter, who was then named by the assembled saints as Sita, due her having appeared during the ploughing of the earth, as the tip of a plough is called Sita in Sanskrit. After this incident the king was blessed with a daughter, who was named Urmila and the two sisters grew up under the loving care of their parents. When Devi Sita was a small girl, she attracted everyone’s heart with her noble and beautiful qualities, and she was very devoted to the worship of the Lord.

The ancestors of Maharaj Janak were blessed with the bow that Lord Shiva used to kill the demon tripurasur, and therefore it was kept in the palace and worshiped by everyone. There are two versions of a pastime of Devi Sita with this bow. Some devotees say, that once when the Sita was playing ball with her friends, the ball rolled under the table on which the celestial bow was place. With a desire to retrieve the ball to continue with the play, Devi Sita with great ease lifted the bow, which was otherwise very difficult to lift even for the most powerful fighters on the earth. Another version of the story suggests that Sita would worship the bow and in order to clean the surface on which the bow was placed she lifted it up. In either case, when Maharaj Janak heard of this incident, he was truly amazed, and at that time he took a vow to marry his daughter to the person who was qualified and strong enough to lift the bow of Lord Shiva and string it. After that, in due course of time, Lord Ram came there with Rishi Vishwamitra and he won the hand of Devi Sita in the Swayamvar.

After having peacefully lived in Ayodhya for many years giving pleasure and serving her in-laws, when Maharaj Dasharath wanted to enthrone Ram as the king of Ayodhya but was forced to send him to the forest due to the two boons that he had promised to his wife Kaikeyi, Sita Devi insisted on accompanying Lord Ram to the forest. This shows how she was completely dedicated to her husband and made no considerations about the discomforts that she may have to face in the rough terrain of the forests. Her decision was praised by all respectable personalities in the society and she was considered as the personification of devotion to her husband. When she was thus traversing through the forests with her husband and brother- in-law, never did she complain about any inconveniences, rather she was faithfully serving Ram and keeping a happy demeanor for his pleasure. Once while living in the forest, before the kidnapping of Sita, Lord Ram invoked Agni dev and entrusted Devi Sita in his care, in order to carry out the lila for which he had descended on this earth. Thereafter, in Panchavati after the episode of Shurpanakha and the killing of Khar and Dushan, on Ravan’s instruction Marich disguised as a golden dear to captivate Sita, and Ram went to catch the dear on Sita’s insistence. After hearing the calls for help, that were actually made by marich in the voice of Ram, Sita instructed Laxman to go help Ram, but understanding that there was some demoniac game at play Laxman refused to go. However, he had to eventually submit to the orders of his sister-in-law and for her protection drew a line around the cottage, which he requested her not to cross. In the absence of the two brothers, the deceitful demon Ravan came disguised as a Brahman and begged for alms. When Sita asked for forgiveness for not being able to cross the line and come to serve him and instead humbly asked him to come forward, he threatened to curse her and thus making her fearful forced her out of the line. At that time revealing his true identity and his lusty intentions, he dared to kidnap Devi Sita, who is the mother of the entire universe and thus ensured his destruction in the near future. In truth he had actually only taken Chaya Sita, for if the actuall Sita would be there, due to her fierce purity and sanctity, he would have been burned immediately. But the pastimes of the Lord are inconceivable and Sita wanted to give the credit of saving her to her husband and also the Lord wanted to kill all the demons on the planet which would have been possible only by having a war.

‘Vinash kale vipreet budhi’ is a famous saying which means that at the time of one’s destruction one is not able to think properly and that was the situation with Ravan. Despite the constant requests and suggestions from his wife and brother, to hand over Devi Sita to Lord Ram, Ravan, stubborn and proud as he was, did not heed their wise council, which led to his destruction and the destruction of the entire demon society at the hands of Lord Ram and his army. After the war, however, instead of accepting Sita back, Lord Ram instructed Devi Sita to prove her chastity by entering fire. This was done not because Lord Ram had any doubts about her pristine character, on the contrary he was well aware that the real Sita was under the protection of Agni dev and therefore in order to curtail the possibility of others questioning her chastity and to get back the real Sita, this pastime was performed by the Lord, which is truly inconceivable for the ordinary human brain.

Thereafter, upon their return to Ayodhya and the coronation of Lord Ram, they lived happily in their kingdom till yet another painful pastime came to take place. In Ayodhya, there occurred an incident that one day the wife of one of the citizens returned home after having spent a night elsewhere due to various reasons and the husband refused to accept her in his house, and said that he was not Ram that he could except a woman back in his house who had stayed with another man. This although highly inappropriately said by the person, but Lord Ram, being the king, had to ensure that his subjects had faith in him and therefore he instructed Laxman to take Sita, who was at that time pregnant, to the forest under the pretext of visiting the saints, which Devi Sita was always very eager for, and to leave her in the forest and tell her that Lord Ram had given her up due to the unrest amongst the subjects in the kingdom. With a heavy heart Laxman carried out Lord Ram’s order and took Sita to the forest and left her there. When Devi Sita found out the true reason for their coming to the forest, she was heartbroken, but due to her unflinching faith and love in her Lord, she accepted his order and took up an austere life for his pleasure in the hermitage of Rishi Valmiki. In due course of time she gave birth to two boys, namely Luv and Kush, and they grew up under the care and instructions of Rishi Valmiki.

When Devi Sita was in the forest, Lord Ram decided to perform a horse sacrifice and requested the royal preist Rishi Vashisht to conduct it. Thereupon, the Rishi told Ram that he could only perform the sacrifice with his wife, or if that was not feasible then he should get married again. This however was not exceptable to Ram as whatever he had done was due to the public and he personally had no doubts whatsoever about her purity and he had taken a vow not to marry anyone else. In order to solve this dilemma, the sage instructed Ram to make a golden statue of Sita to sit in the yajna with him, after which every year a new deity of Sita Devi was made. In one such sacrifice, Luv and Kush happened to sing the Ramayan, which they had learned from their guru Valmiki, the author of Ramayan, which stole the hearts of all those who were assembled there. When eventually everyone got to know that they were Lord Ram’s sons, Devi Sita was called to the court to come and once again prove her chastity so that Lord Ram may except her and the boys. When Sita came to the court, she was accompanied by Valmiki Rishi who proclaimed in front of everyone that she was pure and that they should except her on his word as he had never spoken a lie, but despite this, she was asked to prove herself. Then as the ultimate proof, she invoked Mother Earth and requested her to take her back in her lap from where she had originally appeared. Answering her prayers, Mother Earth appeared and to everyone’s dismay Devi Sita entered the earth and in this way brought her pastimes on this earth to an end. Lord Ram was very much aggrieved by Sita Devi’s entering the earth but he then excepted his sons and ruled on the earth for many more years before ending his pastimes.

In this way, the life of Devi Sita is truly inspirational, in the way that despite all the troubles that came her way even though she is the eternal consort of Lord Ram, her mood was always to serve him and she was always most merciful to all those around her. On her auspicious appearance day, we pray to her for her causeless mercy that we may be able to attain unflinching devotion for Radha Shyamsundar.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=85516

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Srimati Jahnava Devi

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Sri Surjadas Sarekhela was a resident of Shaligram. He had five brothers – Damodar, Jagannath, Gauri das, Krsna das and Nrsimha Caitanya. His father’s name was Sri Kamsari Misra. His mother’s name, Sri Kamala devi. He received the title “Sarakhela” as he used to keep the accounts for the king of Gaur desh. His two daughters were named Sri Vasudha and Sri Jahnava, who was the youngest.

In Gaur-ganoddesh-dipika it is stated that they are the expansions of Baruni and Revati in Brindaban and Surjadas Sarakhela, whose body effulgence is like the sun, is an expansion of Kakudmir, the king of Raivat. The two Lords Gauranga and Nityananda were very affectionate to him. Seeing that his two daughters had reached the full bloom of their youth, he began to contemplate their marriage. Thinking in this way, he fell asleep and in his dream he saw that in a very happy mood he was presenting his two daughters to Nityananda Prabhu. Having seen such a wonderful dream, he began to float in an ocean of bliss.

In the morning when he awoke, he told his dream to one brahmana friend of his, “I saw in my dream that Nityananda Prabhu is none other than Baladeva. His bodily effulgence was shining in all directions and his body was decorated with various shining ornaments. On either side of him my two daughters appeared as Baruni and Revati. Now if I cannot give my daughters in marriage to Nityananda Prabhu then there will be no peace for me.” Having confided in his friend in this way, he sent him to the house of Srivas Pandit in Navadwip. That brahmana came to Navadwip very quickly and found that Nityananda Prabhu was living at Srivas Pandit’s house. The brahmana explained everything in detail to Srivas Pandit who later at the proper time divulged all of this news to Nityananda Prabhu. Lord Nityananda having assured the brahmana that he would fulfill the desire of Surja das, sent him back to Shaligram. Advaita Acarya as well as Srivas Pandit were very happy to have heard this news and urged that the marriage take place as soon as possible. The brahmana, in the meantime having returned to Shaligram, delivered this auspicious news to Surja das who was overjoyed that his dream would now come true.

In the village of Borgachi lived the son of Raja Hari Hora, Sri Krsna das, who was a very dear devotee of Nityanan¼da Prabhu. He offered to bear all of the expenses for the wedding and to have it conducted at his house. With this in mind he requested Nityananda Prabhu to kindly come to his house, and after bringing him there he began to make the necessary arrangements for the wedding. Srivas Pandit, Sri Advaita Acarya, Sri Candrasekhar, Sri Murari Gupta and many other devotees all arrived and began Harinam Sankirtan. Surja das Pandit’s brother, Sri Krsna das soon arrived at Bordachi and then Nityananda Prabhu and the other devotees accompanied Him to Shaligrama. When Surjadas saw that the devotees along with Nityananda Prabhu had arrived, in great happiness he came out to greet them and then ushered them into his house where he offered his dandavats to Lord Nityananda.

Surja das fell down at the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda, his eyes brimming with tears of ecstatic love. He caught hold of His two lotus feet and wanted to offer some prayers but he could not express anything due to being overcome by ecstatic emotions. Lord Nityananda smiled sweetly and embraced him in great love. Surjadas was always absorbed in intense happiness. Who can understand his inner self.

Seeing these loving pastimes of his brother, Gauri das lost his patience and felt great bliss within himself. Then, after worshipping the two lotus feet of Lord Nityananda, he offered his two daughters in marriage to him.

Thus the marriage ceremony was very auspiciously performed and Nityananda Prabhu remained at Shalagram with his two newly wedded wives for a few days. Thereafter he came to Sri Krsna das’s house at Borgachi, where he remained for a couple of days. Next He came to Navadwip. Along with his two wives He offered His obeisances at the feet of Saci Mata. Saci Ma was extremely pleased to see them and she showed a great deal of affection to the new brides.

The other Vaishnavas also began to show them great affection. Then taking leave of Sacimata, Nityananda came to Advaita Acarya’s house in Santipur. Sri Sita Thakurani began to float in the ocean of bliss after seeing Vasudha and Jahnava devi. Taking them in her lap she was very affectionate to the new brides. After remaining there for a few days Nityananda Prabhu came to Uddharon Datta Thakur’s house at Saptagram at his insistent invitation. There they all engaged in a festival of sankirtan for a few days after which Nityananda Prabhu came to Khardaha. [Bhakti-Ratnakar 12th Taranga]

After the disappearance of Sri Advaita Acarya, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Srivas Pandit and various other associates of Sri Goursundar, three especially empowered manifestations of the compassion of the Lord, Mahaprabhu, namely Srinivas Acarya, Narottama Thakur Mahasay and Shyamananda Prabhu continued to flood the land with Hari Nam Sankirtan. Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s sakti Sri Jahnava Mata, was especially requested by these three Acaryas to be present at the celebrated festival which was conducted by them at Kheturigram, under the patronage of Narottama Thakur Mahasoy’s cousin, Raja Santosh Datta. Present with her were Sri Krsna das Misra (her uncle), Mineketan Ramdas, Murari Caitanya, Jnana das, Sri Paramesvari das, Balarama das, Sri Brindavan das Thakur, and other dear devotees of Lord Nityananda Prabhu.

First she came to her uncle Gauri das Pandit’s temple at Kalna where she was nicely received by Hrdoy Caitanya Prabhu. Here she cooked for the two Lords, Nitai-Gauranga, and in the evening they had a festival of sankirtan. When she came to Navadvip and realized that she wouldn’t be able to see Sri Saci Mata any more, she was very sad and cried. Then Sripati and Srinidhi came and took her to their house. But again she was plunged into grief due to the pangs of separation at not being able to see Srivas Pandit and Malini devi. At Santipur Sri Acyutananda and Gopal tried to
console her in the absence of Advaita Acarya and Sita Thakurani. Then she came by way of Kantak Nagar to Teliya Bhudari gram where Sri Govinda Kaviraj received her with all respect. The next day the party set out for Kheturi. When they reached the banks of the Padma river they found that Raja Santosh Datta had already made arrangements for crossing the river. From the opposite bank palanquins were waiting to take them to Kheturi.

After presiding over the festival of Kheturi, Ma Jahnava decided to go to Brindavan. One day when she was bathing in the Jamuna, a small black hand grabbed the end of her cloth as she was getting out of the water. When she looked, however, there was no one there. Then Gopinath spoke to her, “I want to come and stay with you. When you’re taking bath in the Ganga one day I’ll come and join you.”

After passing some days in great happiness in Sri Brindaban Dham, Sri Jahnava Mata set out on the path back to Gaurdesh. First she came to Kheturi, and then to Bhudari gram where she arranged the marriage of Bor Ganga das with Sri Hemalata, the daughter of Sri Shyamdas Cakravarti (brother of Bansi das). After the marriage, Sri Iswari entrusted the worship of Shyamsunderji to Borgangadas. Then she came to Ekcakra, the birthplace of her worshippable Lord. From there she passed through Kantak Nagar, Jajigram, Navadwip, Ambika kalna, Saptagram, before finally arriving back at Khardaha.

As she was bathing in the Ganges one day, something touched her body in the water. Then she lifted that object out of the water and beheld the enchanting form of Sri Gopinathji, while tears of love streamed from her eyes. This Deity is at present being worshipped by the descendant of Ganga devi, the daughter of Nityananda Prabhu, at Jirat, Hugli. There is a rail station at Jirat between Bandel and Kalna station. From the Jirat station one should proceed by rickshaw to “Gopinath Tala”.

“Having fallen into the ocean of material existence I am completely distraught and filled with anxiety. Floating in this ocean, without any refuge, I am trying to find a shore; but without any success, I am losing all hope of ever finding it. What activity will bring me there? or what knowledge will bring me there? Conducting some fruitive sacrifices, engaging in some mystic yoga process or conducting austerities – none of these have any power or effect. I am getting very weak and I cannot swim much longer. Now in this extremely dangerous situation, will no one come to save me? Alas! To make matters worse, having caught sight of the crocodile of worldly affairs, I am petrified with fear and the current of lust is always churning the water. I can barely keep my head above the water, the winds carrying the results of activities performed in previous lives, is blowing and making the water so choppy. I am losing my mind and now I am simply crying frantically. I can’t see anyone who can get me out of this ocean of woes. O my dear Sri Jahnava devi, please have compassion on your servant and bless me with some of your divine qualities. Please extend me the rope of your mercy and alleviate this intense pain that I am experiencing.

“I have taken shelter of the boat of your lotus feet and I have full faith that you can carry me across this ocean.

You are the divine energy of Lord Nityananda and the bestower of Krsna bhakti. Please bless me at your feet, which can bestow all one’s desires. You have already delivered so many despicable creatures, now today here is one more destitute and hateful wretch, come to your lotus feet.” [Kalyan Kalpataru]

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=95503

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Sri Sita Navami by Giriraj Swami

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Today is Sita-navami, the appearance day of Srimati Sita devi, the eternal consort of Lord Ramachandra. To begin, we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Nine: “Lord Caitanya’s Travels to the Holy Places.”

TEXT 2

jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda

TRANSLATION

All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda Prabhu! All glories to Sri Advaita Prabhu! And all glories to all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu!

TEXT 178

daksina-mathura aila kamakosthi haite
tahan dekha haila eka brahmana-sahite

TRANSLATION

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu arrived at southern Mathura from Kamakosthi, He met a brahmana.

TEXTS 179–193

The brahmana who met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu invited the Lord to his home. This brahmana was a great devotee and an authority on Lord Sri Ramacandra. He was always detached from material activities.

After bathing in the river Krtamala, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to the brahmana’s house to take lunch, but He saw that the food was unprepared because the brahmana had not cooked it.

Seeing this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “My dear sir, please tell Me why you have not cooked. It is already noon.”

The brahmana replied, “My dear Lord, we are living in the forest. For the time being we cannot get all the ingredients for cooking.

“When Laksmana brings all the vegetables, fruits, and roots from the forest, Sita will do the necessary cooking.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very satisfied to hear about the brahmana’s method of worship. Finally the brahmana hastily made arrangements for cooking.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took His lunch at about three o’clock, but the brahmana, being very sorrowful, fasted.

While the brahmana was fasting, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked him, “Why are you fasting? Why are you so unhappy? Why are you so worried?”

The brahmana replied, “I have no reason to live. I shall give up my life by entering either fire or water.

“My dear Sir, Mother Sita is the mother of the universe and the supreme goddess of fortune. She has been touched by the demon Ravana, and I am troubled upon hearing this news.

“Sir, due to my unhappiness I cannot continue living. Although my body is burning, my life is not leaving.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “Please do not think this way any longer. You are a learned pandita. Why don’t you consider the case?”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “Sitadevi, the dearmost wife of the Supreme Lord Ramacandra, certainly has a spiritual form full of bliss. No one can see her with material eyes, for no materialist has such power.

“To say nothing of touching Mother Sita, a person with material senses cannot even see her. When Ravana kidnapped her, he kidnapped only her material, illusory form.

“As soon as Ravana arrived before Sita, she disappeared. Then just to cheat Ravana she sent an illusory, material form.”

TEXT 194

aprakrta vastu nahe prakrta-gocara
veda-puranete ei kahe nirantara

TRANSLATION

“Spiritual substance is never within the jurisdiction of the material conception. This is always the verdict of the Vedas and Puranas.”

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

As stated in the Katha Upanisad (2.3.9, 12):

na sandrse tisthati rupam asya
na caksusa pasyati kascanainam
hrda manisa manasabhikÿpto
ya etad vidur amrtas te bhavanti
naiva vaca na manasa
praptum sakyo na caksusa

“Spirit is not within the jurisdiction of material eyes, words, or mind.”

Similarly, Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.84.13) states:

yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke
sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih
yat-tirtha-buddhih salile na karhicij
janesv abhijnesu sa eva go-kharah

“A human being who identifies his body made of three elements with his self, who considers the by-products of his body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of his birth worshipable, and who goes to a place of pilgrimage simply to take a bath rather than to meet men of transcendental knowledge there is to be considered like an ass or a cow.”

These are some Vedic statements about spiritual substance. Spiritual substance cannot be seen by the unintelligent, because they do not have the eyes or the mentality to see the spirit soul. Consequently they think that there is no such thing as spirit. But the followers of the Vedic injunctions take their information from Vedic statements, such as the verses from the Katha Upanisad and Srimad-Bhagavatam quoted above.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

We know from Srila Prabhupada, from the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu:

nama cintamanih krsnas
caitanya-rasa-vigrahah
purnah suddho nitya-mukto
’bhinnatvan nama-naminoh

Namah cintamanih krsnah: the holy name of Krishna is Krishna Himself. Caitanya-rasa-vigrahah: it is the form of rasa, the reservoir of pleasure. It is purna, complete; suddha, pure; and nitya-mukta, always free from material contamination. Why? Because there is no difference between the holy name of Krishna and the possessor of the name, Krishna Himself (abhinnatvan nama-naminoh).

Now the question arises, “When the Lord is spiritual and beyond the jurisdiction of material senses, how can one with materially covered senses touch, or chant and hear, the holy name of Krishna?” In the next verse of the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami explains:

atah sri-krsna-namadi
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah

Atah means “therefore,” as in athatho brahma-jijnasa. Atah: therefore (that is, because the holy name of Krishna is completely spiritual like Krishna) one cannot chant or hear the holy name—touch the holy name—with materially contaminated senses. However, if we engage our senses in the service of the Lord and the Lord becomes pleased with our service, the Lord will reveal Himself to us.

In other words, although we cannot perceive the Lord with materially contaminated senses, the Lord can reveal Himself to us when He is pleased by our service: He can purify our senses and make Himself visible to us.

When even a sadhaka, a devotee who is practicing devotional service, cannot touch even the holy name of the Lord, how could a demon like Ravana see or touch Mother Sita, who is directly the spiritual energy of the Lord? It is not possible. What Ravana saw and touched was not the original Sita but maya Sita, an illusory representation of the original Sita. Thus Lord Chaitanya was consoling the brahman, “Don’t lament that Mother Sita has been touched by the demon Ravana. The demon Ravana could not even see her, what to speak of touch her. There is no need to lament.”

TEXT 195

visvasa karaha tumi amara vacane
punarapi ku-bhavana na kariha mane

TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then assured the brahmana, “Have faith in My words and do not burden your mind any longer with this misconception.”

PURPORT

This is the process of spiritual understanding. Acintya khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet: “We should not try to understand things beyond our material conception by argument and counterargument.” Maha-jano yena gatah sa panthah: “We have to follow in the footsteps of great authorities coming down in the parampara system.” If we approach a bona fide acarya and keep faith in his words, spiritual realization will be easy.

COMMENT

In the material world everyone is acting independently. Actually, people are not independent, but they imagine themselves to be independent. They want to think for themselves, see for themselves, make their own decisions, make their own plans. Even when they come to the subject of God, they keep the same attitude: “I don’t need anyone to tell me about God. I can think for myself; I can decide for myself.” Or they may accept some authority according to their liking. Many people go to various authorities and pick and choose what they like from each, and in the end they find confirmation for whatever they thought or wanted to begin with. That is not the way to understand God. Rather, one must approach a bona fide spiritual master and surrender. Surrender means “no wavering to this side or that side.” One must remain fixed in submission and obedience to the spiritual master and accept the spiritual master’s instructions without argument.

Of course, the whole process is based on faith, and therefore Lord Chaitanya’s first words are visvasa karaha tumi amara vacane: “Have faith in My words.” If you do, He says, you will be relieved. But if you don’t have faith in His words, you’ll go on suffering and nobody will be able to help you.

visvasa karaha tumi amara vacane
punarapi ku-bhavana na kariha mane

“Have faith in My words and do not burden your mind any longer with this misconception.”

TEXT 196

prabhura vacane viprera ha-ila visvasa
bhojana karila, haila jivanera asa

 TRANSLATION

Although the brahmana was fasting, he had faith in the words of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and accepted food. In this way his life was saved.

COMMENT

The brahman was fasting because he thought Ravana had touched Sita and kidnapped her. He was ready to give up his life, but because he had faith in the words of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he gave up his misconception, took prasada, and saved his life.

TEXT 197

tanre asvasiya prabhu karila gamana
krtamalaya snana kari aila durvasana

TRANSLATION

After thus assuring the brahmana, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu proceeded further into southern India and finally arrived at Durvasana, where He bathed in the river Krtamala.

TEXT 199

setubandhe asi’ kaila dhanus-tirthe snana
ramesvara dekhi’ tahan karila visrama

 TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then went to Setubandha [Ramesvara], where He took His bath at the place called Dhanus-tirtha. From there He visited the Ramesvara temple and then took rest.

PURPORT

The path from Mandapam through the ocean to the island known as Pambam consists partly of sand and partly of water. The island of Pambam is about seventeen miles long and six miles wide. On this island, four miles north of Pambam Harbor, is Setubandha, where the temple of Ramesvara is located. This is a temple of Lord Siva, and the name Ramesvara indicates that he is a great personality whose worshipable Deity is Lord Rama. Thus the Lord Siva found in the temple of Ramesvara is a great devotee of Lord Ramacandra. It is said, devi-pattanam arabhya gaccheyuh setu-bandhanam: “After visiting the temple of the goddess Durga, one should go to the temple of Ramesvara.”

In this area there are twenty-four different holy places, one of which is Dhanus-tirtha, located about twelve miles southeast of Ramesvara. It is near the last station of the South Indian Railway, a station called Ramnad. It is said that here, on the request of Ravana’s younger brother Vibhisana, Lord Ramacandra destroyed the bridge to Lanka with His bow while returning to His capital. It is also said that one who visits Dhanus-tirtha is liberated from the cycle of birth and death, and that one who bathes there gets all the fruitive results of performing the yajna known as Agnistoma.

COMMENT

It is said that when Lord Rama was on the way to Lanka, He worshiped a deity of Lord Shiva. Some ignorant people say, “Because Lord Rama worshiped Lord Shiva, Shiva is the Supreme and Rama is subordinate to him.” But actually, the opposite is true: Lord Shiva himself is a great devotee of Lord Rama. Sometimes, however, the Lord likes to serve His devotees, as in the case of Krishna and Yasoda. Krishna used to obey the dictations of Yasoda, but that doesn’t mean that Yasoda is God. Krishna used to carry the shoes of Nanda Maharaja, but that doesn’t mean that Nanda Maharaja is God. Krishna drove the chariot of Arjuna, but that doesn’t mean that Arjuna is greater than Krishna. Krishna washed the feet of Sudama Vipra, but that doesn’t mean that Sudama is superior to Krishna. The Lord takes pleasure in worshiping His devotees. Lord Ramachandra wanted to glorify His devotee Shiva, and therefore He may have worshiped him.

Other ignorant people say that because Ravana was a devotee of Lord Shiva, Rama approached Lord Shiva to ask his permission before killing Ravana. Once, at Juhu Beach, a disciple mentioned this idea to Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada replied that people who say that Lord Rama had Lord Shiva’s permission to kill Ravana want to say that Lord Shiva is a rascal, that he would give permission for someone to kill his devotee: “Oh, yes. He is my devotee, but it’s all right—you can kill him.” So Prabhupada said they want to prove that Lord Shiva is a rascal. Rather, Srila Prabhupada said (and quoted shastra) that when Rama was in the process of killing Ravana, Mother Parvati said to Lord Shiva, “Ravana is your great devotee, and now he is in trouble. Why don’t you do something to help him?” And Lord Shiva replied, “Lord Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead; when He wants to kill Ravana, what can I do?”

TEXT 200

vipra-sabhaya sune tanha kurma-purana
tara madhye aila pativrata-upakhyana

TRANSLATION

There, among the brahmanas, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu listened to the Kurma Purana, wherein is mentioned the chaste woman’s narration.

PURPORT

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura remarks that only two khandas of the Kurma Purana are now available, namely the Purva-khanda and Uttara-khanda. Sometimes it is said that the Kurma Puranacontains six thousand verses, but according to Srimad-Bhagavatam the original Kurma Purana contains seventeen thousand verses. It is considered the fifteenth of the eighteen Maha-puranas.

TEXT 201

pativrata-siromani janaka-nandini
jagatera mata sita—ramera grhini

TRANSLATION

Srimati Sitadevi is the mother of the three worlds and the wife of Lord Ramacandra. Among chaste women she is supreme, and she is the daughter of King Janaka.

TEXT 202

ravana dekhiya sita laila agnira sarana
ravana haite agni kaila sitake avarana

TRANSLATION

When Ravana came to kidnap Mother Sita and she saw him, she took shelter of the fire-god, Agni. The fire-god covered the body of Mother Sita, and in this way she was protected from the hands of Ravana.

TEXT 203

‘maya-sita’ ravana nila, sunila akhyane
suni’ mahaprabhu haila anandita mane

TRANSLATION

Upon hearing from the Kurma Purana how Ravana had kidnapped a false form of Mother Sita, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu became very satisfied.

TEXT 204

sita lana rakhilena parvatira sthane
‘maya-sita’ diya agni vancila ravane

TRANSLATION

The fire-god, Agni, took away the real Sita and brought her to the place of Parvati, goddess Durga. An illusory form of Mother Sita was then delivered to Ravana, and in this way Ravana was cheated.

TEXT 205

raghunatha asi’ yabe ravane marila
agni-pariksa dite yabe sitare anila

After Ravana was killed by Lord Ramacandra, Sitadevi was brought before the fire and tested.

TEXT 206

tabe maya-sita agni kari antardhana
satya-sita ani’ dila rama-vidyamana

TRANSLATION

When the illusory Sita was brought before the fire by Lord Ramacandra, the fire-god made the illusory form disappear and delivered the real Sita to Lord Ramacandra.

TEXT 207

sunina prabhura anandita haila mana
ramadasa-viprera katha ha-ila smarana

TRANSLATION

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard this story, He was very pleased, and He remembered the words of Ramadasa Vipra.

TEXT 208

e-saba siddhanta suni’ prabhura ananda haila
brahmanera sthane magi’ sei patra nila

TRANSLATION

Indeed, when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard these conclusive statements from the Kurma Purana, He felt great happiness. After asking the brahmanas’ permission, He took possession of the manuscript leaves of the Kurma Purana.

TEXT 209

nutana patra lekhana pustake deoyaila
pratiti lagi’ puratana patra magi’ nila

TRANSLATION

Since the Kurma Purana was very old, the manuscript was also very old. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took possession of the original leaves in order to have direct evidence. The text was copied onto new leaves in order that the Purana be replaced.

TEXT 210

patra lana punah daksina-mathura aila
ramadasa vipre sei patra ani dila

TRANSLATION

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu returned to southern Mathura [Madurai] and delivered the original manuscript of the Kurma Purana to Ramadasa Vipra.

TEXTS 211–212

sitayaradhito vahnis
chaya-sitam ajijanat
tam jahara dasa-grivah
sita vahni-puram gata

pariksa-samaye vahnim
chaya-sita vivesa sa
vahnih sitam samaniya
tat-purastad aninayat

TRANSLATION

“When he was petitioned by Mother Sita, the fire-god, Agni, brought forth an illusory form of Sita, and Ravana, who had ten heads, kidnapped the false Sita. The original Sita then went to the abode of the fire-god. When Lord Ramacandra tested the body of Sita, it was the false, illusory Sita that entered the fire. At that time the fire-god brought the original Sita from his abode and delivered her to Lord Ramacandra.”

PURPORT

These two verses are taken from the Kurma Purana.

TEXT 213

patra pana viprera haila anandita mana
prabhura carane dhari’ karaye krandana

TRANSLATION

Ramadasa Vipra was very pleased to receive the original leaf manuscript of the Kurma Purana, and he immediately fell down before the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and began to cry.

TEXTS 214–218

After receiving the manuscript, the brahmana, being very pleased, said, “Sir, You are Lord Ramacandra Himself and have come in the dress of a sannyasi to give me audience.

“My dear Sir, You have delivered me from a very unhappy condition. I request that You take Your lunch at my place. Please accept this invitation.

“Due to my mental distress I could not give You a very nice lunch the other day. Now, by good fortune, You have come again to my home.”

Saying this, the brahmana very happily cooked food, and a first-class dinner was offered to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu passed that night in the house of the brahmana. Then, after showing him mercy, the Lord started toward the Tamraparni River in Pandya-desa.

COMMENT

The chastity of Mother Sita is glorified in similar terms in the summary of the pastimes of Lord Ramachandra in the Ninth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Because Ravana had been cursed by the anger of Mother Sita, his armies were vanquished and ultimately he was killed.

te ’nikapa raghupater abhipatya sarve
dvandvam varutham ibha-patti-rathasva-yodhaih
jaghnur drumair giri-gadesubhir angadadyah
sitabhimarsa-hata-mangala-ravanesan

 “Angada and the other commanders of the soldiers of Ramacandra faced the elephants, infantry, horses, and chariots of the enemy and hurled against them big trees, mountain peaks, clubs, and arrows. Thus the soldiers of Lord Ramacandra killed Ravana’s soldiers, who had lost all good fortune because Ravana had been condemned by the anger of Mother Sita.” (SB 9.10.20)

After Ravana had been killed, his wife, Mandodari, praised the power of Mother Sita’s chastity, addressing her husband:

na vai veda maha-bhaga
bhavan kama-vasam gatah
tejo ’nubhavam sitaya
yena nito dasam imam

“O greatly fortunate one, you came under the influence of lusty desires, and therefore you could not understand the influence of Mother Sita. Now, because of her curse, you have been reduced to this state, having been killed by Lord Ramacandra.” (SB 9.10.27) In his purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada explains that any woman who follows the example of Mother Sita’s chastity and service can attain similar power—and that in fact women should follow her ideal example: “Not only was Mother Sita powerful, but any woman who follows in the footsteps of Mother Sita can also become similarly powerful. There are many instances of this in the history of Vedic literature. Whenever we find a description of ideal chaste women, Mother Sita is among them. Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, was also very chaste. Similarly, Draupadi was one of five exalted chaste women. As a man must follow great personalities like Brahma and Narada, a woman must follow the path of such ideal women as Sita, Mandodari, and Draupadi. By staying chaste and faithful to her husband, a woman enriches herself with supernatural power.”

Although Mother Sita was completely pure and chaste, some ignorant citizens criticized Lord Rama for accepting her back after she had been abducted by Ravana, and to preserve His authority as king—for the benefit of the citizens—He was obliged to consign her to the care of the great sage Valmiki Muni.

By her transcendental qualities and devotional service, Sitadevi attracted her husband, Lord Ramachandra, the Personality of Godhead. And after she completed her pastimes on earth, He remained absorbed in thought of her—while perfectly executing His royal duties—until He followed her, to continue their eternal lila in the spiritual world.

munau niksipya tanayau
sita bhartra vivasita
dhyayanti rama-caranau
vivaram pravivesa ha

“Being forsaken by her husband, Sitadevi entrusted her two sons to the care of Valmiki Muni. Then, meditating upon the lotus feet of Lord Ramacandra, she entered into the earth.” (SB 9.11.15)

tac chrutva bhagavan ramo
rundhann api dhiya sucah
smarams tasya gunams tams tan
nasaknod roddhum isvarah

 “After hearing the news of Mother Sita’s entering the earth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was certainly aggrieved. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, upon remembering the exalted qualities of Mother Sita, He could not check His grief in transcendental love.” (SB 9.11.16) Of course, the Lord’s grief upon hearing the news of Sitadevi’s entering the earth was not material. In the spiritual world there are also feelings of separation, but such feelings are a manifestation of the Lord’s internal pleasure potency (hladini-sakti) and give rise to transcendental bliss—although they resemble the miserable feelings experienced by ordinary men and women who are materially attached to each other.

tata urdhvam brahmacaryam
dharyann ajuhot prabhuh
trayodasabda-sahasram
agnihotram akhanditam

“After Mother Sita entered the earth, Lord Ramacandra observed complete celibacy and performed an uninterrupted Agnihotra-yajna for thirteen thousand years.” (SB 9.11.18)

smaratam hrdi vinyasya
viddham dandaka-kantakaih
sva-pada-pallavam rama
atma-jyotir agat tatah

“After completing the sacrifice, Lord Ramacandra, whose lotus feet were sometimes pierced by thorns when He lived in Dandakaranya, placed those lotus feet in the hearts of those who always think of Him. Then He entered His own abode, the Vaikuntha planet beyond the brahmajyoti.” (SB 9.11.19)

Sri Sri Sita-Rama ki jaya!

There is an important lesson for all of us here, whether we are in the bodies of men or women: Sitadevi is the energy of Lord Rama, the property of Lord Rama, and to take the property of the Lord for one’s sense gratification is demonic. Ravana was a scholar, a devotee of Lord Shiva, and he had many, many good qualities. But he had one fault that put him in the category of demons: he wanted to take the Lord’s property and enjoy it for himself. As we have been discussing—and maybe realizing—people in Kali-yuga have two sides: the devotee side and the demon side. The demon side wants to take the property of the Lord and enjoy it, like Ravana. So we must be careful that the demonic side does not become predominant. Otherwise, just as Ravana and his whole dynasty were destroyed, our spiritual life will be destroyed.

What is the difference between material and spiritual? When people challenge us, “You are living in a marble palace, you are using telephones, computers, and automobiles, so you are involved in materialism,” how do we reply? We reply, “We are using everything in the service of the Lord. What is used in the service of the Lord is no longer material but becomes spiritual.” And it is true. The temple is spiritual because it is dedicated to the service of the Lord, and all the paraphernalia used in the Lord’s service is spiritual. So there is no contamination. However, if we use the paraphernalia meant for the service of the Lord for our own sense gratification, then it is no longer spiritual. It becomes maya. Ravana wanted to take Rama’s Sita, but he couldn’t touch the original Sita. He could get only the maya Sita. Similarly, the Lord’s paraphernalia is spiritual when engaged in the Lord’s service, but if we try to use the same things for our sense gratification, they become maya.

We should not be complacent and assume, “I am a devotee and everything I do is spiritual. Even if I handle money, it is spiritual because it’s for Krishna.” If it is for Krishna, it is spiritual, lakshmi, but if it is used for our sense gratification, it becomes material, maya. So, we must be careful in every situation—in every activity, every transaction—to consider: Am I doing this for Krishna or for sense gratification? If an activity is done for Krishna, it becomes spiritual, but if that same activity is done for sense gratification, it becomes material. All the things we have, all the paraphernalia, which are meant for Krishna’s service, become maya if we use them for sense gratification. So we should be very careful, especially if we take donations from the public. In the temple we take donations from the public—directly or indirectly. Even if we don’t directly take donations, we are using donations for our service, so we should take care that the donations we take from the public are used exclusively in transcendental devotional service and not one cent is used for sense gratification. If we use any of it for sense gratification, we are implicated in a cheating process, because the public think they are giving the money for Krishna’s service but in fact we are using it for ourselves.

Srila Prabhupada said that if we take money in the name of Krishna’s service and then use it for sense gratification, we become debtors to the people who gave us the money. In other words, we are supposed to be only peons, carrying the money from the donor to the Lord—like Hanuman. He went to liberate Sita from Ravana, not to keep her for himself but to deliver her to Lord Rama. So, we should be like Hanuman. We should liberate Sita from the hands of whomever and deliver her to Rama. We are not meant to touch her. If we do, we’ll have to come back in another life and pay our debt to the people from whom we took the money. So, these are subtle laws, and Srila Prabhupada was concerned that we should not become victims of our desires for sense gratification. Therefore he explained everything very clearly, so that we can be conscientious and use the Lord’s property only for the Lord’s service. Then we will be like Hanuman, the great devotee who got the mercy of Lord Rama. But if we try to use the Lord’s property for our sense gratification, we become like Ravana and will be destroyed.

On this occasion, we pray to Mother Sita to bless us to become pure-hearted servants like Hanuman, Laksmana, and Mother Sita herself—and to save us. Whatever Ravana-like demonic tendencies we have, let them be vanquished by her mercy, by her will, so we may continue in our devotional service without any impediment and ultimately attain pure love (prema), our ultimate goal.

Sri Sri Sita-Rama-Laksmana-Hanuman ki jaya!
Sri Sita-navami ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Nitai-gaura-premanande hari-haribol!

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Sita-navami, May 9, 1995, Bombay]

Source: https://girirajswami.com/blog/?p=19980

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“May the Fourth, be with us!”

A hundred-plus devotees answered this call for the first annual Krishna House Retreat in New Vrindavan, May 3-5, 2024. Krishna House leaders, students and friends from around North America gathered for memorable kirtans, uplifting classes, wonderful prasadam and insightful seminars during the event.

Krishna House is an outreach program primarily for young people from all backgrounds based on Srila Prabhupada’s example in his first ISKCON centers in New York and San Francisco. During the Krishna House Retreat, leading Krishna conscious teachers from Toronto, Dallas, New York, Amherst (Massachusetts), Gainesville (Florida), Grand Rapids (Michigan) and elsewhere checked in, compared notes and enjoyed blissful association with one another.

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The seminar line up included:

– Team-building Through Improv, by Yadunath Prabhu;

– Strategies for Studying Srila Prabhupada’s Books by, Prabhupada Priya Devi;

– Finding and Becoming a Mentor, by Radhika Raman Prabhu;

– Conscious Kirtan, by Bhaktimarga Swami;

– Leading a Balanced Devotional Life, by Braja Bihari Prabhu;

– Improving Japa, by Janaki Devi; and

– Pastoral Counseling, by Kalakantha Prabhu.

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“Everyone who came with us had a great time,” said Janaki Devi, a leader in New York City outreach.

“Very inspiring weekend. Lots of valuable knowledge shared in the workshops and loads of uplifting sanga with such sincere devotees from all over North America.” – Nandanandana Prabhu Krishna House Amherst Director

“New Vrindavan was amazing, a lot of fun, I enjoyed the kirtans and likeminded association!” Bhakta Dusten- a newcomer to the Krishna House

The Retreat organizer, Bhakta Chris Norris, especially thanks Jaya Krishna, Anuradha, and Yamunacharya Prabhus of New Vrindavan for facilitating and supporting this landmark event.

— Pictures by Bhakta Chris Norris

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=112571

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We were in the hospital for some minor procedure when we were told that another disciple of Srila Prabhupada was admitted there. Jananivasa Prabhu suddenly arrived to meet him. Rajasekhar Prabhu was very happy to meet his godbrother. Jananivas prabhu described the Chandan Yatra and Radha Madhava boat festivals occurringin Mayapur.Rajasekhar prabhu was on oxygensupport but was smiling and nodding. He spoke a few words occasionally through his mask.

How much happiness he feels in the company of his godbrothers! Both were smiling while talking about Krishna and Prabhupada. Jananivasa Prabhu said "The boat festival is continuing tonight. Radha Madhava are waiting for you!" Rajasekhar prabhu smiled!

Riddha Prabhu, arrived and joined the conversation. He has been taking care of Rajasekhar Prabhu in the hospital. Rajasekhar prabhuwas sitting and looking at us. They began talking about relocating him to a better hospital. Therehasbeen fundraising to cover his medical expenses. They requested Jananivasa prabhu'shelp. He agreed immediately to give whatever is required. He told me to make arrangements.
 
While this conversation was going on, we were ready to go. Suddenly, Rajasekhar prabhu fell unconscious. The doctor who was present immediately did his best to revive him. But, the machines indicated that he was dying. In Sri Mayapur Dham, in the divine association of his godbrothers, Rajasekhar Prabhu was leaving this world. How auspicious!
 
Seeing this right in front of my eyes was shocking. All of us were chanting loudly the Hare Krishna maha mantra. Knowing that Rajasekhar prabhu was leaving his body, Dr. Sukhi Achyuta prabhu, an initiated devotee,brought Ganga water and put some in the mouth of Rajasekhar prabhu.

It doesn't get any better than that! Such an auspicious departure of a sadh!. Another great disciple of Srila Prabhupada has left this world. "A decade of tears", as Kadamba Kanana
Maharaj has said, as most of our senior devotees are leaving. May we take their association more strongly, and learn more from them the art of dedicating our lives to Lord Krishna.
 
Saranagatidasi (GRS)
 
 
your servant,
Sikhi Mahiti das
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