A discourse given on January 20, 1996, in Accra, Ghana, Africa

namo maha-vadanyaya
krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-caitanya-
namne gaura-tvise namah

"O most munificent incarnation! You are Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krsna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 19.53)

THIS IS THE pranama-mantra [mantra of obeisances] offered by Srila Rupa Gosvami. When we pay obeisances to Caitanya Mahaprabhu we must offer this pranama-mantra. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is maha-vadanyavatara, "the most munificent incarnation," because He gives Krsna-prema, pure love for Krsna. No other incarnation gives Krsna-prema. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is nondifferent from Krsna, and He gives Krsna-prema without discrimination. Patita pamara nahi bache: He never considers whether one is elevated or degraded.

Krsna-prema is difficult to attain even for Lord Brahma, the highest created being in the universe. So how can we get it? Only by the causeless mercy of Mahaprabhu. He never considers whether one deserves it or not. Generally, you get what you deserve. But Sriman Mahaprabhu is so wonderfully merciful that he offers Krsna-prema to one and all without discrimination. But does everyone get it? That is another question.

Liquid Mellow

Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj

*Following the practice of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada's spiritual master, Gour Govinda Maharaja is using the word "mellow" for the Sanskrit wordrasa, which refers to a concept for which no exact English word exists. The first meaning of rasa in a leading Sanskrit dictionary is given as "the sap or juice of plants, juice of fruit, any liquid or fluid, the best or finest or prime part of anything, essence, marrow." In the Vaisnava concept, rasa refers to a nectarean taste or relationship in love for God.

Have you gotten prema? No? Mahaprabhu is the giver, and we are the receivers. We should receive Krsna-prema, so why can't we receive it? When He gives, how can you receive? If I give you something "All right, take this" how will you take it? You will stretch out your hand and take it. So Mahaprabhu gives prema-rasa, the loving mellow.

tasmai maha-prema-rasa-pradaya
caitanya-candraya namo namas te

"O Lord Caitanyacandra, whose form is full of blissful pastimes, whose complexion is as splendid as gold, and who gives in charity the most glorious mellow of pure love for Lord Krsna, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You." (Caitanya Candramrta 11)

Maha-prema-rasa. Rasa means "mellow." It is a liquid thing. When we speak of mellow, rasa, it is not a solid thing; it is liquid. Prema-rasa is to be tasted, relished. So Mahaprabhu is the giver, and we are the receivers. But how can we receive it? You may stretch out your hand and say, "Yes. Give me, give me, give me." But this is mellow. If someone gives you some mellow, you should approach with a container, a receptacle in which to receive it. And if there are holes in your container, how can you receive it? Everything will pour out. So with what type of container will we approach Mahaprabhu to receive the prema-rasa He is giving?

If you go to the Ganges with a pot filled to the brim with filthy, nasty things, how can you get Ganges water? You must examine the pot to see whether it is suitable or not. If it is filled with filthy things, first remove them and wash it out. Empty it, and then you can get Ganges water. Similarly, Mahaprabhu is giving prema-rasa, the loving mellow. So how can we approach Him, and with what kind of container? Do you know?

Caitanya the Lion

Another question arises. You can put cow's milk in an earthen pot, but can you put a lioness's milk in an earthen pot? No, because a lioness's milk is very strong. If you put it in an earthen pot, which is porous, it will crack and everything will pour out. To get a lioness's milk you need a golden pot. Similarly, Mahaprabhu gives prema-rasa, the loving mellow, and you must approach Him with a proper nonporous container.

It is said that Caitanya is like a lion, Caitanya-simha. He roars like a lion. He has the shoulders and waist of a lion. And He was born on the full moon evening of the month of Phalguna, during the zodiac constellation of Leo, the lion. Therefore He is simha, Caitanya-simha. So when He gives prema-rasa, what type of container is required to receive it? The proper container is the heart. You cannot receive it with your hands or any other container. The container is your heart. With that container you can get the prema-rasa given by Mahaprabhu.

But you should examine your heart to check that there are no holes in it. Is it a pure heart? If there are holes or nasty things in it, how can you get prema-rasa? Lust, anger, greed, pride, arrogance, and envy these are the nasty things. These are the holes in the container. Though Mahaprabhu gives Krsna-prema indiscriminately to one and all, why is it that one and all are not getting it? How will our hearts be free from all these things? How can we take care of the container of the heart so that we may receive Mahaprabhu's mercy and make a success of our human birth?

Four Constituents

Mahaprabhu gives prema through the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. If your chanting is pure, offenseless, then you will definitely get Krsna-prema. Do not commit any offenses, namaparadha.Chant the pure name. Mahaprabhu gives prema through chanting, but He gives a condition.

trnad api sunicena
taror iva sahisnuna
amanina manadena
kirtaniyah sada hari
(Siksastaka 3)

The pot of the heart should be made of these four constituents: Trnad api sunicena we should think of ourselves as humbler than a blade of grass lying in the street; taror iva sahisnuna we should be as tolerant as a tree; amanina we should not demand respect for ourselves; and manadena rather, we should give respect to one and all. Mahaprabhu is the giver, and you are the receiver. If your pot is not made of these constituents, how can you receive? To explain this verse, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has written:

These are the symptoms of one who chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Although he is very exalted, he thinks himself lower than the grass on the ground, and like a tree, he tolerates everything in two ways. When a tree is cut down, it does not protest, and even when drying up it does not ask anyone for water. The tree delivers its fruits, flowers, and whatever it possesses to anyone and everyone. It tolerates scorching heat and torrents of rain, yet it still gives shelter to others. Although a Vaisnava is the most exalted person, he is prideless and gives all respect to everyone, knowing everyone to be the resting place of Krsna. (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 20.22-25)

A Vaisnava is a very elevated person, but his mood is, "I am the lowest of the low. Everyone is superior to me. No one is below me." That is trnad api sunicena no pride at all. In Bhagavad-gita(16.4) Lord Krsna says,

dambho darpo 'bhimanas ca
krodha parusyam eva ca
ajnanam cabhijatasya
partha sampadam asurim

"Pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness, and ignorance these qualities belong to those of demoniac nature, O son of Prtha." Pride is a demoniac quality. A Vaisnava is prideless, and he gives respect to one and all be-cause he sees Krsna in the heart of everyone. He does not disrespect even a tiny ant, because he sees the relationship with Krsna: "This is Krsna's jiva."*

* The infinitesmal individual soul, which is an eternal part of Krsna.

ei-mata hana yei krsna-nama laya
sri-krsna-carane tanra prema upajaya

"If one chants the holy name of Krsna in this manner, one will certainly awaken one's dormant love for Krsna's lotus feet." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 20.26)

Examine Your Pot

This is the condition given by Mahaprabhu. Though He gives Krsna-prema and though we may chant for many years, still we cannot get it if we do not follow His teachings. We have so much pride, arrogance, conceit, ignorance all demoniac qualities. We are not taking care of the pot. Our heart is the container in which we can receive the prema-rasa given by Mahaprabhu. We have not examined the pot. Our pot has so many holes that although He gives, everything just pours out. We must understand this. Krsna says that pride, arrogance, conceit, harshness, and ignorance are demoniac characteristics. Demons are generally proud, puffed-up persons. But one who has come to the path of devotional service should not be proud at all. One should be very humble, much humbler than a blade of grass. A Vaisnava is a very elevated person, but he always thinks, "I am the lowest of the low."

Celestial Being

Sometimes it happens that devotees develop pride. The demigods are also devotees, because they carry out the orders of the Supreme Lord, but they are proud.

There is always fighting between demigods and demons. Sometimes one side wins, and sometimes the other. Once upon a time when the demons were defeated, the demigods became proud. "Now we are victorious!" When the demigods think in this way, the Supreme Lord understands and crushes their pride. That is Krsna's mercy. In Srimad-Bhagavatam the gopis, Krsna's cowherd girlfriends, say, nija-jana-smaya-dhvamsana-smita: "O Lord, You crush the pride of Your own men. That is Your mercy." So when the demigods became puffed up, Krsna wanted to crush their pride. Therefore He appeared before them in the wonderful form of a yaksa, a celestial being.

When the Supreme Lord appeared in the sky in this wonderful form, the demigods were unable to recognize Him. Out of curiosity, Indra (the king of heaven) told Agni (the fire-god) and Vayu (the wind-god), "Go and test Him. Ask who He is and report it to me."

"Where is Your Sakti?"

Agnideva went there and asked, "Who are You?"

The Lord in His wonderful yaksa form replied, "Who are you?"

Agnideva, being very proud, said, "Don't You know who I am? I am Agni, the fire-god!"

"Oh, you are the fire-god? Are you very great?"

"Oh yes!"

"What can you do?"

"I can burn anything to ashes."

The Lord took a blade of grass and placed it before Agni.

"All right, burn this tiny piece of grass."

Agni applied all his power and energy but could not burn it.

"Where is your sakti [power]?" the Lord asked.

His pride crushed, Agni hung his head and left.

Then the wind-god went to see the yaksa and asked, "Who are You?"

The yaksa said, "Who are you?"

"I am the wind-god!" Vayu said proudly.

"Are you very great, wind-god?"

"Oh yes!"

"What can you do?"

"I can blow away anything."

The yaksa pointed to the tiny blade of grass. "All right, blow it away."

Vayu applied all his force, uprooting huge trees, but the tiny blade of grass was not shaken at all.

Vayudeva's pride was crushed. Hanging his head, he left.

At last, Indradeva came to investigate, but the wonderful yaksa had disappeared. There Indra saw Umadevi, the wife of Lord Siva.

"Who was He?" Indra asked.

Umadevi said, "Don't you know? He is the Supreme Brahman, Parabrahman. You are devoid of brahma-jnana, knowledge of the Absolute Truth. So how can you recognize Brahman? You should get brahma-jnana."

This is a story from the Upanisads.*

* This story comes from the Kena Upanisad, Part III. It is also told by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in Jaiva Dharma, Chapter 14, "Discussion on Sakti."

"I Am Great!"

So sometimes pride crops up even among devotees. It is so subtle. Especially in Kali-yuga, the present age, it is said, "Pride is the measuring rod." Everyone thinks himself to be very great. "Yes. I am great!" Then others say, "What? You are great? No. I am great!" Then they quarrel and fight. Therefore this is Kali-yuga, the age of quarreling and fighting. Two persons fight and quarrel, two groups fight and quarrel, two villages, two towns, two nations. Such quarreling is going on because everyone thinks, "I am great!" In such a horrible age, where pride is the measuring rod, Mahaprabhu's teaching is required.

trnad api sunicena
taror iva sahisnuna
amanina manadena
kirtaniyah sada hari

"One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly."

Sri Srimad Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja, ISKCON leader and spiritual master, was vastly learned in the scriptures, and he presented the philosophy of Krsna consciousness with great enthusiasm. On Srila Prabhupada's order, he worked to spread Krsna consciousness in the Indian state of Orissa, preaching, translating books into the local Oriya language, and building and developing ISKCON's center in Bhubaneswar, the capital. In his later years, he traveled extensively, both within India and outside. He passed away from this world in February 1996.