In Honor of the Appearance Day of
Srila Bhakti-vijnana Bharati Maharaja – July 19th
Reconciling Apparent Differences
SUBMITTED BY SRIMATI SYAMARANI DASI [Ever since I received the order from Srila Gurudeva to publish an art book consisting of the paintings I did for Prabhupada and the paintings I did for him, I have been experiencing a great dilemma that no one I spoke to could help me solve. Although for the most part the instructions of Prabhupada, my diksa-guru, and Srila Gurudeva, my siksa-guru matched up perfectly, on a couple of art occasions there seemed to have been a difference. This apparent difference would make it impossible for me to know how to publish the art book properly. I finally went to beg the help of Srila Bhakti-vijnana Bharati Gosvami Maharaja, who is a close friend of Srila Gurudeva and who had also rendered services to Srila Prabhupada. I figured that he would know how to reconcile and harmonize their statements. After all, guru is one. I was so satisfied with that darsana.
The following is a transcription of that discussion between Srila Bhakti-vijnana Bharati Gosvami Maharaja and me, held on October 6, 2012. Srila Maharaja sometimes spoke in Hindi and sometimes in English. When he spoke in Hindi, his disciple translated his words into English.]
Syamarani dasi: As an artist for both Srila Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja and Srila Gurudeva Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, I am wondering why, on rare occasions, I received apparently contradictory instructions from them.
Srila Prabhupada never corrected me about the peacock feathers on Lord Nrsimhadeva, Lord Narayana, and other incarnations, whereas Srila Gurudeva was very specific – that only Vrajendra-nandana Sri Krsna wears peacock feathers. Also, Prabhupada said to paint Mother Yasoda with a golden complexion, and Gurudeva said to make her bluish like Krsna. [*See Endnote 1] How do I reconcile this?
Srila Bharati Gosvami Maharaja: When your Srila Prabhupada did not ask you to remove the peacock feather, that is not incorrect, and when Narayana Maharaja requested you to take it out, that is also not incorrect. When we accept that all these avataras are non-different from Krsna, whether we place the peacock feather or not, it is not a problem. When we place it, it is justified.
Syamarani dasi: Kesava dhrta nana-vidha rupa – All incarnations are none other than Krsna, who has assumed those forms. Like that?
Srila Bharati Maharaja: Yes, there is no difference, so what is the problem that he didn’t say to remove it?
Later, when we grow up in bhakti, we consider, “Krsna did not manifest His pastime as Nrsimhadeva wearing a peacock feather, so better not to keep it.” So, both are correct. With his (Srila Prabhupada’s) vision there is no difference at all. When Srila Narayana Maharaja is asking to remove it, there is also no problem, because he was specifically focusing on rasa-vicara. [*See Endnote 2]
When somebody is a small child, the teacher says, “The sun rises in the East and sets in the West.” Then, when the student grows up, the teacher says, “The sun is always present – twenty-four hours daily. It never sets and never rises.” Both are true. It depends on one’s qualification for hearing and understanding.
Some qualification was there with you when you were with Srila Svami Maharaja. There were also things that he mentioned to you to help your gradual understanding, and there were things that you were not ready to understand at that time. So later, when you became more ready, Srila Narayana Maharaja could make you understand.
Here is another way to see it. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in Jagannatha Puri, He saw Jagannatha-deva, but He saw Him as Vrajendra-nandana Krsna. He saw Him with a flute and peacock feather, but Jagannatha has no flute or peacock feather. In the same way, if Srila Svami Maharaja saw in that vision, it didn’t matter whether he was seeing Nrsimhadeva or anyone else. He saw Vrajndra-nandana, so there is no problem at all.
Syamarani dasi: And what about Mother Yasoda?
Srila Bharati Maharaja: When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was on the bank of Godavari with Sri Raya Ramananda, Raya Ramananda saw Mahaprabhu as a sannyasi first, and then saw that He was Krsna. He saw that His complexion was Syama, bluish-black, and then he saw that He was covered with the complexion of Srimati Radhika. So, even though he saw Mahaprabhu, he also saw all these things as well.
In the same way, this applies to Mother Yasoda. The pure devotees seem to be seeing and describing in a different way because different pastimes are manifesting in front of them. If a particular pastimes manifests, they speak according to that.
For example, my siksa-guru Srila Bhakti-Prajnana Kesava Maharaja always installed white Krsna Deities in his temples. This is because of his mood, since Krsna is generally always Syama-complexioned. When it is expressed clearly why he chose to show Krsna with a white complexion, then we can understand. [*See Endnote 3]
Syamarani dasi: When is Mother Yasoda golden? What pastime could that possibly be?
Srila Bharati Maharaja: There is a pastime. Mother Yasoda sometimes becomes absorbed in thinking, “I cook so many preparations for Krsna, but my preparations are not up to the standard of Radharani’s. When She will come, She will cook for Krsna. By that He will have so many good dishes, and He will be much healthier.” Then, if for some reason Srimati Radhika is delayed in coming to Yasoda’s palace to cook, Yasoda becomes absorbed in thinking, “When is She coming? When is She coming?” Thus, by such deep contemplation, she adopts Radhika’s golden complexion.
[Endnote 1 – regarding Mother Yasoda’s complexion:
“There is another description of mother Yaśodā in a devotee's prayer: ‘Let me be given protection by mother Yaśodā, whose curly hairs are bound with thread, whose hair is very brightly beautified by the vermilion placed in the part, and whose bodily frame derides all her ornaments. Her eyes are always engaged in seeing the face of Kṛṣṇa, and thus they are always filled with tears. Her complexion, which resembles the bluish lotus flower, is enhanced in beauty by her dressing herself with many colorful garments. Let her merciful glance fall on all of us, so that we may be protected from the clutches of māyā and smoothly progress in our devotional service!” (Srila Prabhupada’s NOD. Ch. 47)
mātā gopa-yaśo-dātrī yaśodā śyāmala-dyutiḥ
mūrttā vatsalatevāsau śakra-cāpa-nibhāmbarā (28)
Because she gives (dā) fame (yaśa) to the society of the cowherds, Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s mother is called Yaśodā. Her bodily complexion is blackish blue (śyāmala). She is the very personification of parental love and her attire is colorful like the rainbow. (Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Radha-Krsna ganodesadipika)
“The silk cloth on Mother Yaśodā’s somewhat full, bluish limbs fluttered as she swiftly ran, and the beautiful fragrant flowers that were woven into her braid began to fall as if to say, ‘Mother, you are not alone; we also are with you. Catch Him, quickly!’ Mother Yaśodā’s pace exceeded Kṛṣṇa’s, and thus she caught Him from behind.” (Srila Sanatan Gosvami’s commentary (called Dig-darsini tika) to the Damodarastakam prayers)]
[Endnote 2: There are two considerations: rasa-vicara (the extent and completeness of loving relationships and pastimes) and tattva-vicara (philosophical truth). In relation to rasa-vicara, the peacock has specific reference and relevance in the pastimes of Vraja, and not so anywhere else.
Also, for the sake of separation pastimes (as in the Ratha-yatra pastimes when Krsna and the gopis meet) Gurudeva was stressing that there is a difference between Vrajendra-nandana Krsna and Dvarakadisa Krsna. The gopis didn’t want Krsna to remain in Dvaraka, and they didn’t want Him to think that He is the son of Devaki and Vasudeva. The gopis told Him with their heart’s emotions that if He wants to come back to Vrndavana, He had better not think of Himself as the son of Devaki. He had to dawn His peacock feather and flute.
Also, there is a difference between Krsna and His incarnations in the sense that He is the whole and they are His plenary parts and portions of the plenary parts. Although they are one with Him in tattva, fundamental established truth, they are different by rasa, or the mellows of relationships in the pastimes.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja is teaching us that Srila Prabhupada really wants us to be particularly one-pointed, to make our goal Vraja, the highest and most complete abode of the Lord, and to take advantage o the gift offered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to become the direct servants of Radha and Krsna, with a leaning towards Srimati Radhika. (An editorial note)]
[*Endnote 3 – (from Acarya Kesarai Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami, His Life and Teachings, by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja)
“In the second prakoṣṭha (section) of śrī mandira, Śrī Gaura Rādhā-Vinodabihārījī are installed. Here the supremely wonderful and mysterious white luster of Śrī Vinodabihārījī, who is absorbed in thinking of Śrī Rādhā, defeats even the bhajanānandis’ bhajana secrets. Even the bhajanānandis cannot understand this highest secret, but Śrīla Ācāryadeva has personally explained it.
“Śrīman Mahāprabhu is Himself Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Yugala and Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are worshiped by Śrī Gaura mantra. People may ask why the three Deities in this temple (Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Śrīmatī Rādharani and Śrī Gaurasundara) are all white in color. The answer is that They are not white, but rather have the golden luster of Śrīmati Rādhājī. By accepting Śrīmati Rādhikā’s bodily luster, Śrī Kṛṣṇa has taken on a golden (gaura) complexion. The bodily luster of Śrī Gaurasundara is as fair as pure gold, which is why these three have the same complexion. Here we must understand that the apparently white complexion is actually gaura (golden).
“Why did Śrī Kṛṣṇa take on Śrī Rādhā’s gaura complexion? Śrīmati Rādhikā has a natural contrary mood (vāmya-bhāva) towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but only for increasing the ever-fresh variety of kṛṣṇa-sevā. Once Śrīmatījī became angry with Kṛṣṇa and exhibited māna, and at that time Kṛṣṇa became so absorbed in thinking of Śrīmatījī that His śyāma-complexion changed and became like Hers.
rādhā-cintā-niveśena yasya kāntir-vilopitā
śrī kṛṣṇa-caraṇaṁ vande rādhāliṅgita-vigraham
“We refer to this deep mystery in the first verse of Śrī Rādhā-Vinodabihārī-tattvāṣṭakam. The word rādhā-liṅgita has two meanings; 1) rādhayā liṅgita, and 2) rādhayā āliṅgita.
“In the first of these meanings (rādhayā liṅgita), the word liṅgita means ‘having the appearance of.’ Śrī Kṛṣṇa lost His own complexion and assumed Śrīmati Rādhikā’s due to being very absorbed in thinking of Her in separation. This is the deep meaning of rādhā liṅgita vigraha. It is this śrī vigraha that has been brought to light here. The meaning of this deep tattva has been illuminated by the crest-jewel of rasika Vaiṣṇavas, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura in his Śrī Svapna-vilāsāmṛta. This tattva has been manifested to the world by my Śrīla Guru-pādapadma from the core of his heart.
“The second meaning of rādhā-liṅgita is rādhayā āliṅgita or ‘embraced by Rādhā.’ The confidential meaning of this has been spoken by Śrī Rāyā Rāmānandajī to Śrīman Mahāprabhu on the banks of Godāvarī.
pahile dekhiluṅ tomāra sannyāsī-svarūpa
eve tomā dekhi muñi śyāma-goparūpa
tomāra sammukhe dekhi kāñcana-pañcālikā
tāṅra gaurakāntye tomāra sarva aṅga ḍhākā
tabe hāsi’ tāṅre prabhu dekhāila svarūpa
‘rasarāja’, ‘mahābhāva’—dui eka rūpa
(Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 8.268, 269, 282)
“Rāyā Rāmānandajī asked Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, ‘I first saw You as a sannyāsī, and now I am seeing You as the gopa Śyāmasundara. At the same time I am seeing a golden-complexioned Deity in front of You, whose golden luster fully covers Your Kṛṣṇa-luster.’ Upon hearing this, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu laughed and gave darśana of Kṛṣṇa in His distinctive gaura complexion as ‘Rasarāja-Mahābhāva’ combined. Śrī Rāyā Rāmānanda fainted in bliss when he saw this unprecedented sweet form.
“So this is another explanation of the deep mystery of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s golden complexion. The śyāma complexion of Kṛṣṇa has been completely covered by Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s embrace, and He is manifesting Her bodily luster.