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First Address in the West: Swamiji Made a Platform for Bhakti

Boven-Leeuwen, Netherlands
Srila Gurudeva 90%

This audio is included in the following series of lectures:


  • Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja made a platform for preaching prema bhakti.
  • Before the arrival of Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja in the West, no one knew about bhakti.
  • Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja's instructions to Srila Gurudeva.
  • Bhakti is like a current. We should know the reason for Sriman Mahaprabhu's advent.
  • We should have greed for bhajana and try to enter into the realm of bhakti.
  • Anyone who reads Sri Caitanya-caritamrta will surely have greed.
  • Krsna is Sarvesvara.


[This is the first darśana Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja gave on his first Western Tour, on May 5, 1996 in Holland. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.

This file was previously almost inaudible and was restored by the Audio Seva Team. Hear the restoration sample here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zduacuGO7g. If you are inspired to participate in the transcription sevā, please register at https://www.audioseva.com/register.]

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: [I am offering obeisances to my gurudeva Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja and] also to touch the lotus feet dust [of Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja]. I think they will give me so many blessings. By their blessings, I may be able to tell something about the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the teachings of Rūpa-Sanātana-Raghunātha and our entire guru-paramparā.

Our whole philosophy is based on the Gītā. On [the basis of the] Gītā, a loving tree like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has grown and produced very sweet smelling fruits. I think Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda has made the platform. When he came, no one was here to welcome him; he was a penniless person. No one knew him in [the] Western countries. But wherever I go, I see that there are big crowds dancing and singing. All are there welcoming me. This is certainly the mercy of Śrīla Svāmī Mahārājajī.

Devotee: Śrīla Gurudeva, just this year is the centennial year for Svāmī Mahārāja. So he is inviting you this year.

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: I am in the line of Svāmījī; not in any other line. But some have been misguided and they don't [think that I am in Svāmījī’s line]. Now what Svāmījī has given, in his line, he has told me to give something more, [additional to what he gave] because at that time, in India also and Western countries [as well] were full of jungles, thorns, and everything – māyāvādīs, karmīs, jñānīs, ‘eat, drink and be merry-wāllāhs’ (sense-enjoyers). [Because at that time no one was qualified], he could not give his message [fully], the same message that Caitanya Mahāprabhu has given:

anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau

samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam

hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ

sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ

Vidagdha Mādhava (1.2) and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 1.4)

[May the son of Śrīmatī Śacī-devī, Śrī Gaurahari, forever manifest spontaneously within the innermost core of your heart. Adorned with the radiant splendour of molten gold, He has descended (avatirṇaḥ) in the Age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow upon the world that which has not been given for a long time – the beauty of His own brilliantly radiant ujjvala-prema-rasa bhakti, service in the highest mellow of amorous love.]

Actually, he came to give vraja-prema, especially. But if anyone does not know the Gītā, does not know “who am I”, and especially all are thinking that they are this physical body, so it [this misconception] should be removed. Now, here in the Western countries, there are so many devotees who like to have an idea [a deeper understanding] of ‘anarpita-carīṁ cirāt’ and that should be given to them and for others, for general persons, Gītā should be taught, as Svāmījī has given. In India also, there are so many persons who are hankering and wanting to understand the gist [essence] of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is gopī-prema.

A man cannot live at the same stage forever. They want to go up and up. And bhakti is like a current. First, [stage] is sādhana-bhakti, then bhāva-bhakti, then, like a current going upwards to prema-bhakti, then to vraja-bhakti and going towards gopī-bhakti and then Śrīmatī Rādhikā [the bhakti She has for Kṛṣṇa]. So, we should know what this is, why Caitanya Mahāprabhu has come. He has not come to only preach the [holy] name, not only this but much more than this. The fruit of Name is Kṛṣṇa Himself. Kṛṣṇa is the ocean of rasa.

In Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.1.1) it is stated:

akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrtiḥ prasṛmara-ruci-ruddha-tārakā-pāliḥ

kalita-śyāmā-lalito rādhā-preyān vidhur jayati

[“All glories to Him, all glories to Him, the complete embodiment of all nectarean loving mellows (rasas), who by the diffusion of His bodily effulgence, kept both the gopīs named Tārakā and Pālī most subjugated, who also controlled Lalitā and Śyāmā Sakhī, and who is the most beloved of Śrī Rādhā.”]

Kṛṣṇa is ‘akhila-rasāmṛta-mūrtiḥ’- the complete embodiment of all nectarean loving mellows. We have brought Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu-bindu with us - a very little book. Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja has done marvelous work [in publishing] so many books also. I offer my Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu[-bindu]. There are so many books. If you read, you will come to know that Caitanya Mahāprabhu has come to give this special thing. Pray to Kṛṣṇa that He should give a very pure, very thick [mercy]; that you should have greed towards chanting Śrī Nāma, hearing harikathā like Prahlāda Mahārāja [carita], and trying to enter the realm of Vraja. Then our life will be successful.

[Discussion with devotees about prasādam arrangements for the devotees including local devotees who went to the airport.]

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: So many thanks [for making all the arrangements]. Śrīmati Rādhikā has been so merciful. The thing is that my language is so poor that I cannot [express myself]. But Navadvīpa [Prabhu] will help me.

Are you all from Holland?

I am from Vṛndāvana. (Laughter followed by small talk with the devotees)

At the time of Kṛṣṇa, there were so many cows in Vṛndāvana that the name of that forest became known as Goloka. Goloka means ‘the country of cows.’ Now there are very few cows, but Govardhana is there and Yamunā is there.

Those devotees who have not taken prasādam can come and take.

[Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja distributed prasādam and asked about the well-being of different devotees.]

Still in Vṛndāvana, Govardhana is there – whom Kṛṣṇa lifted on His little finger, and where Śrīmati Rādhikā and the gopas and gopīs used to play. Even Yamunā is there. Also, in Vṛndāvana, there are places like Vaṁśi-vaṭa where Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs danced, as well as Nidhuvana and Sevā-kuñja. Do you know what Sevā-kuñja means? Kṛṣṇa is worshipped everywhere; but in Sevā-kuñja, Kṛṣṇa Himself worships the lotus feet of Śrīmati Rādhikā. This is the speciality of Sevā-kuñja.

You may have heard of Bhāṇḍīravana, where Kṛṣṇa took fire in His mouth like this and it became [cool] like snow. It is also the place where Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa were married in a gāndharvā style wedding performed by Brahmā, and where they offered garlands to each other. It was not a traditional Indian Vedic marriage. There is also another Vaṁśi-vaṭa in Bhāṇḍīravana.

All the [pastime] places are still there. The foot-dust of Kṛṣṇa and Śrīmati Rādhikā, and the gopīs is there at all these places. Uddhava has become grass there [in Govardhana], to have the mercy of all the gopīs.

He prayed in Śrīmad Bhagavatam:

āsām aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syāṁ

vṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām

yā dustyajaṁ sva-janam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā

bhejur mukunda-padavīṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām

Śrīmad Bhagavatam (10.47.61)

[Śrī Uddhava jī prayed: Aho! The vraja-devīs have given up everything that is difficult to renounce, such as children, family and the path of chastity, and they have taken shelter of the path of prema-bhakti to Śrī Kṛṣṇa that is searched for, but rarely attained by the Śrutis. My prayer is that I may appear as a bush, a creeper or a blade of grass in Śrī Vṛndāvana and thus receive the foot-dust of these gopīs’ lotus feet.]

Uddhava prayed, “I want to be a small piece of grass, not a big tree, because a big tree has no chance to get the foot-dust of the gopīs. Particles of dust can go up and settle on the leaves of the tree, but they will not come directly from the gopīs’ lotus feet or Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet. I want to become a [blade of] grass [so that the dust from their lotus feet will directly come upon me].”

Why did he want to become a blade of grass? “The gopīs will come to meet Kṛṣṇa, and step on me, a blade of grass, and by that touch, I will have gopī-prema. But I am insignificant. I am not qualified to take their foot-dust.”

If Uddhava is not qualified to take the foot-dust of the gopīs, then what to speak of all others? But yet, by the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Rūpa Gosvāmī, we will very soon be qualified for this.

I think Śrīla Gour-Govinda Mahārāja, the disciple of Svāmījī, may have given something about these topics. So much has especially been given in Caitanya-caritāmṛta and Śrīmad-Bhagavatam that if any person will read Caitanya-caritāmṛta, he will surely have greed for this. We also pray to [Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and] all our guru-paramparā for their mercy. We should be in the line of Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja, that is the line of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu [and Rūpa Gosvāmī].

I will have to take some rest. I will come tomorrow. I have not slept since 2am and I was not able to sleep on the plane.

Do you want to say something? Very little?

Brajanāth dāsa: We are very happy. The whole Western world has become joyful because Śrīla Mahārāja has come to bless the Western world.

We had one program in Delhi yesterday. Śrīla Mahārāja was mentioning, “I am going to the Western world. I will go to give something there. We are not interested in taking anything from the Western world, but we are interested to give something which they don’t have.” He gave an example of the blind man and the lame man. It is a well-known example.

“The Western countries have a great deal of developed technology, but they don’t have [spiritual] vision. They have so many qualified people such as engineers and doctors, but still have the highest rate of suicide. There are so many thieves and so much money.” Śrīla Mahārāja was explaining why there were so many thieves with so much money and so many prisons full of persons who have committed some theft. So, what are we doing to help these people? He said, “In the Western world, there is no program to develop our character. I will go to the Western countries and I will help them to understand how to develop their character and how to understand the real meaning of life, which is to develop pure kṛṣṇa-bhakti.”

Exactly 100 years ago, the first English publication by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, a small English booklet “Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: His life and precepts” was first sent to the Western world; to McGill University in Montreal, Canada [and the Royal Asiatic Society in London]. Now, exactly 100 years later, Śrīla Mahārāja has come to give us the jewels of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and our whole guru-paramparā. And also, Śrīla Svāmī Prabhupāda appeared in this world 100 years ago, and came to the West in 1965, about 31 years ago. And before he came to the West, he was actually staying in Mathurā. In Mathurā, he was very well related to Śrīla Mahārāja. They were such good friends. Śrīla Mahārāja inspired him to quickly take sannyāsa and go to the Western countries. As we have heard him saying previously, many times Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda requested Śrīla Mahārāja to go to the Western countries and also to assist him. At that time, he was not able to do that, but he was sending karatālas, mṛdangas, granthas (scriptures)...

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: And also peḍā (a famous sweet of Mathurā), Deities.

Brajanāth dāsa: At that time he was not able to come personally, but now, after the 100th year celebrations of Śrīla Svāmī Prabhupāda’s appearance, Śrīla Mahārāja is coming as his best friend to give so much help to all those who are seeking pure bhakti. We are so happy that he is here now and we hope that all of you can benefit from staying here. [Speaking about staying arrangements]

[Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja was now meeting with devotees who had previously met him in Mathurā]

Brajanāth dāsa: You know Taruṇa-kṛṣṇa?

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: I remember him.

Brajanāth dāsa: He has come many times to Vṛndāvana and Mathurā.

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: He is a disciple of?

Brajanāth dāsa: Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja.

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: I am so happy to see you all.

Devotees: We are happy to see you.

Devotee: What is the meaning of vaibhava?

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: Goloka is vaibhava [prakāśa] of Vṛndāvana.

Devotee: Manifestation

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: I am seeing that all the devotees as [the vaibhava] the manifestation of Svāmījī. Svāmījī has created such a beautiful family [few inaudible words]. I think it was the prediction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu that in every village, every town, every street and everywhere His name will be chanted.

I wish that you should develop your bhakti more and more. I feel that married life is not a wall [a well, an obstacle to bhakti]. All the gopīs [are married]. Also, most of the devotees of Caitanya Mahāprabhu [were married]. Also, at the time of Kṛṣṇa – the Yadu vamśīs (members of the Yadu dynasty) and the Pāṇḍavas were all gṛhasthas, married, but they served more [than renunciants] like Nārada. Yuddhiṣṭira Mahārāja took the foot-dust of Nārada. He said, “I am so fortunate to have [the dust] of your lotus feet.” Nārada replied, “You don’t know your opulence. You don’t know your prabhāva, influence, or greatness. I see that Kṛṣṇa Himself, with all His queens, lives with you and serves you. He took the reins of Arjuna’s horses, holding a stick [became his charioteer], and served him. He has given His very dear sister to Arjuna and He was the tutor of Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna. You are so much fortunate that even Kṛṣṇa, sarveśvareśvara, the Lord of Lords, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa is serving you. By this, Kṛṣṇa thinks that He is served by you.”

What was the relation of Draupadī with Kṛṣṇa? Do you know? She is Kṛṣṇa’s sakhī (female friend). Sakhās are male friends like Śrīdāma, Subala and Madhumaṅgala. Śrīdāma is the brother of Śrīmati Rādhikā and he is the sakhā of Kṛṣṇa, meaning same level, but slightly lower but Draupadī is sakhī. So the Pāṇḍavas are so much superior to Nārada and Nārada admits that [the Pāṇḍavas are superior to him]. Yet, Nārada gives his lotus feet-dust to them because the Pāṇḍavas are so humble: ‘tṛṇād api sunīcena’. Nārada feels that I may not be ‘tṛṇād api sunīcena’ because I will have to give my foot-dust. But the Pāṇḍavas will not give their foot-dust because they will think that they are so lower than Nārada.

Gaura Premānande!

Now I should take a rest, otherwise I will be so tired. I think that we should meet again and give me pleasure by your good association, lovely association.

Devotee: Gurudeva, are you cold here? It’s so cold here, isn’t it? I am worried you might get so sick.

Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja: Persons of Vṛndāvana and Mathurā told me that I should be very careful. After eight hours of journey in the plane, I would be so tired and it would be so cold there. But I am thinking that I am in Phālguna month, spring season, in Vṛndāvana. And especially because there are so many good devotees. Not worshippers of Durgā. No brahmavādīs or māyāvādīs; none are māyāvādīs, all are special kṛṣṇa-bhaktas (devotees of Kṛṣṇa).

The devotees of Mathurā, especially ladies, were weeping so much. They were telling me, “When you go to the West, you will forget us.” I told them, “I will not forget you.” But now I am seeing that I may forget them! [Laughter]. All are understanding my poor English?

Verse translations: Courtesy Gaudiya Vedanta Publications