Which Transcendental Plane Is Higher?

by Jadurani dasi

This presentation is submitted as a response to Sripad Madhavananda prabhu's article entitled, "Srila Gour Govinda Swami and Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja”, wherein he expresses his sincere thoughts: "We have found that in most areas Sripad Narayana Maharaja speaks in a similar way to our Gurudeva. Yet we have also found some differences we consider significant. To site one of several differences: In the Rays of the Harmonist magazine Vol. III 1999, in an article entitled "Vrsabanu-Nandini, Sripad Narayana Maharaja describes Puri Dhama as being equivalent to Dwaraka and on a spiritual platform less than Vrindavan and Nabadwip. He describes the pastimes of Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Puri as being full of opulence and on a lower level than His pastimes in Nabadwip. Our Guru Maharaja's conception is quite different. Quoting from Vaisnava-tantra and Srila Sanatana Goswami's Brhad-bhagavatamrta, he repeatedly established that Puri is non-different from Vrindavan. He also taught that Mahaprabhu's pastimes in Puri were the topmost part of gaura-lila.”

Interestingly enough, disciples and followers of my siksa guru, Om Visnupada Sri Sri Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja ask the same question of Srila Maharaja about his own statements: "Gurudeva, sometimes it seems that you are saying that Jagannatha Puri is the supreme lila-sthana of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes, and sometimes it seems you say that Navadvipa is the highest. Sri Caitanya Caritamrta states that the Gambhira in Puri is compared to Vrindavan, and you have also said that. On many occasions you have said that the very thing which Krishna came to this world to taste in the form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu-the ecstatic love of Srimati Radhika-He experienced, after learning from Sri Raya Ramananda, in the Gambhira. You have described that there in the Gambhira, Mahaprabhu experienced Radhika's separation for Krishna when He went to Mathura and Dwaraka, and She remained in Vrindavana. Yet, you have also said, as confirmed in Caitanya Caritamrta, that the Jagannatha Puri temple is compared to Dwaraka. On your Navadvipa parikramas each year, you explain that all other holy places, including Dwaraka and Jagannatha Puri, are included in Navadvipa. And we also read this fact in Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Srila Bhaktivenoda Thakura also writes there that Navadvipa Dhama is the highest. How do we reconcile all this?”

There is actually no contradiction between one bonafide acarya and another. There is no contradiction between Srila Prabhupada, Srila Narayana Maharaja and Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja. There is no contadiction between one bonafide scripture and another. And there is no contradiction in the same scripture. Yet, there seems to be when we use our material intelligence to understand. We need the association of pure Vaisnavas in order to understand sastra, and this is confirmed in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta: `Yaha bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane-If you want to read Srimad Bhagavatam, be under the guidance of a pure Vaisnava.' (C.c. Antya-lila 5.131)

For example, we read in sastra that Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Truth. However, if you will tell this to mother Yasoda, she will laugh and tell you that her son is just the opposite. If He is the greatest, it is only because He is the greatest liar and thief. She will say, "If there is a thievery of butter or yogurt in Vrindavan, you can be sure my son was the leader.” Besides this, we have all heard Srila Prabhupada give this example: sastra says that if you touch stool, even that of a brahmana, you must immediately take bath. Yet, it also states that cow dung is completely pure. So this is only an apparent contradiction. In both the above examples, we can see that both `sides' are true.

More specifically, there is no contradiction between Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja and Srila Narayana Maharaja on the subject of the Holy Dhamas. If we did not read or hear the details about how Krishna is the Supreme Personality, the creator of both the spiritual and material worlds, then how would we understand the glory of Srimati Radhika by hearing that She controls Krishna? Similarly, if we have not heard about the supremacy of Puri, then when we read or hear that Puri is included within Navadvipa, the glory of Navadvipa could not be understood.

More specifically, shortly before his divine disappearance, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja visited Srila Narayana Maharaja in Puri. Many devotees contest this fact, and they all have one thing in common-they were not there. Conversely, all the devotees who were present confirm the truth of this extraordinary meeting of two mahabhagavata Vaisnavas. Apart from Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja and Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja themselves, Pujyapada Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja, Pujyapada Bhaktividanta Vana Maharaja, and also Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja's servant, Sripad Virabhadra dasa brahamacari, were also present. At that time Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was inquiring about this topic-the relative supremacy of the Holy Dhamas-and upon hearing Srila Narayana Maharaja's explanations, Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja began to shed tears and experience ecstatic symptoms in his body-hardly the signs of a difference in opinion.  

What follows is the translation of a lecture given in Hindi by Srila Narayana Maharaja in Navadvipa Dhama itself, during the Navadvipa Dhama parikrama festival this year. We had previously sent it out to our own mailing list, but in light of this article by Sripad Madhavananda prabhu, we felt that it again became newsworthy. We pray that it will clarify the typically inconceivable nature of that absolute realm, and give light and reconciliation for our respected readers.


I Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha in Navadwipa:

March 13, 2000

The subject matter of Sri Raya Ramananada samvada is the backbone, the most vital part of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. This is where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed his Rasaraja-mahabhava swarupa, His form as Radha-Krishna combined, to Sri Ramananda Raya. Raya Ramananda stated there that one can only achieve gopi-prema under the guidance of the gopis: "Unless one follows in the footsteps of the gopis, he cannot attain the service of the lotus feet of Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja. If one is overcome by knowledge of the Lord's opulence, he cannot attain the Lord's lotus feet, even though he is engaged in devotional service” (Caitanya Caritamrta. Madhya-lila 8.230). And, in order to be under the gopis, one must be under the guidance of Srila Rupa Goswami. There is a verse by Kavi Karnapura in glorification of Srila Rupa Goswami:

priya-svarupe dayita-svarupe prema-svarupe sahajabhirupe nijanurupe prabhur eka-rupe tatana rupe svavilasa-rupe (Madhya-lila 19.121)
"Indeed, Srila Rupa Gosvami, whose dear friend was Svarupa Damodara, was the exact replica of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and he was very, very dear to the Lord. Being the embodiment of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's ecstatic love, Srila Rupa Gosvami was naturally very beautiful. He very carefully followed the principles enunciated by the Lord, and he was a competent person to explain properly the pastimes of Lord Krishna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu expanded His mercy to Srila Rupa Goswami just so he could render service by writing transcendental literatures.”

Krishna came to this world to taste three things. These are the three internal reasons for His appearance as Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and He tasted them in the Gambhira of Jagannatha Puri.

sri-radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva- svadyo yenadbhuta-madhurima kidrso va madiyah saukhyam casya mad-anubhavataù kidrsam veti lobhat tad-bhavadhyah samajani saci-garbha-sindhau harinduh (Adi-lila 4.230)
"In order to understand and taste the glories of Radharani's love, in order to understand and taste the sweetness of His lila, venu, rupa and prema as only She can relish, and in order to taste the happiness She experiences in Her relishment of these four sweetnesses, Krishna took birth from the womb of Sacimata as Sri Sacinandana Gaura-hari.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in Navadvipa and performed His pastimes there. It is said that after these pastimes were completed, He took sannyasa and went to Puri. Later He went to South India and met Srila Ramananda Raya, and revealed to him His form as Sri Sri Radha and Krishna combined. This Rasaraja-mahabhava, Rasaraja and Mahabhava, are also described in the Srimad Bhagavatam-as the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Krishna is Rasaraja (the king of all tasters of transcendental mellows) and Radhika is Mahabhava swarupa (the quintessence of loving emotions towards Krishna).

In Navadvipa Sri Gauranga performed sakhya-bhava pastimes with his friends in his naravat, human-like lila. It is said that after taking sannyasa in Navadvipa, He left and performed higher pastimes in Puri. After that, on the bank of Godavari, He met Ramananda Raya and learned how to taste Krishna in a still more intense mood of separation. It is not actually true, however, that Puri and Godavari are higher than Navadvipa, nor is it true that Sri Sacinandan Gaura-hari ever leaves Navadvipa.

It is said that Mahaprabhu was able to taste what He came to this world to taste-only after He met Raya Ramananda, who is Vishaka in Krishna-lila. He learned from him how to taste Radha-bhava. Do you know why He learned from Ramananda Raya instead of Srila Swarupa Damodar, who is Lalita devi in Krishna-lila? Lalita devi is the first expansion of Radharani, and Vishaka devi is the second expansion. But Visakha's birthday is the same as that of Srimati Radharani, so her nature is the same. She has practically the same qualities and the same form. Krishna could not be taught by Lalita devi because her mood is pragalba, impudent and bold. (There is no actual equivalent word in English for pragalba.) Srimati Radhika and Srimati Visakha, although also left-wing gopis, are the same as each other-madhya-nayika (heroines who are a mixture of pragalbha and mugdha [enchanted]). Therefore Mahaprabhu had to learn from Ramananda Raya how to taste Radha-bhava. And, because it was at Godavari where Mahaprabhu learned to taste that Radha-bhava, some may say that Godavari is higher than Navadwipa.

 But this is not so. Navadvipa itself is the highest abode, and it includes Godavari and Puri. We can understand this by a comparative study of aisvaryamayi-lila and madhuryamayi-lila. (`Mayi' means `consisting of '). What is the difference between aisvarya and madhurya? Aisvarya-lila are displays of opulence that cannot be performed by any human being. Madhurya-lila are those pastimes that appear human-like, even if there is a great display of opulence. If there is no opulence, then the activities are simply mundane. So there may be opulence, but the lila still appears sweet and human-like, and so it is called madhurya. Whether opulence is clearly present or not, in madhurya-lila there does not seem to be opulence.

As we see from Krishna's lila, there is more aisvarya in Vrindavan than there is in Vaikuntha, Dwaraka, or Mathura. However, it is covered by so much sweetness that the opulence cannot be tasted. [For clarification an example is given of salt and sugar: There are four cups. The first has 1 ounce of salt and no sugar. The second has 2 ounces of salt and 1½ ounces of sugar. The third has 3 ounces of salt and 3 ounces of sugar. And the fourth has 4 ounces of salt and 100 ounces of sugar. Although the fourth cup has more salt, one cannot taste it because of all the sugar.] In Goloka Vrindavana the opulence is covered.

Krishna's madhurya-lila includes aisvarya. When Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill the cowherd boys thought that He must be tired. They considered, `We should also help to hold up Govardhana with our sticks.' Others thought, `Because of Nanda Maharaja's austerities, Lord Narayana had entered Krishna's body. It is actually Lord Narayana who is holding Govardhana.' The gopis were glaring with crooked eyes upon Govardhana. They said to him, `If you fall down on Krishna, we will curse you.' So these are human-like pastimes. When Krishna was a baby He showed His mother His universal form. Everything was there within His mouth-all incarnations, all universes, all elements, all senses, and so forth. Despite this, Yasodamayi could not conceive that her son was God.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, and His Dhama, Sri Navadvipa, is Vrindavan itself. In Navadvipa He is known as Saci-putra and Sacinandan, the son of Saci-Mata and Jagannatha Misra. He was also called Visnupriya-pati, the husband of Srimati Visnupriya devi. Practically no one knew He was the Supreme Lord. Two of His friends at that time were Jagadanananda Pandit and Svarupa Damodara. They were his fellow students when He attended the school of Gangadas Pandit, and they all performed their madhurya-lila there. As there are so many `human' learned scholars or pandits, so the residents of Navadvipa considered Saci-putra to be Nimai Pandit, a very good human pandit. There is no aisvarya in this name Nimai Pandit. It is naravat. When Kesava Kasmiri, the Digvijaya challenging scholar, came to defeat the pandits of Navadvipa, they decided to make Nimai Pandit their representative. They considered Him just a boy. If he would lose, they could then say, `He is just a boy'. And if he would win, they could consider it a great victory for Navadvipa that their boy-scholar was successful.

Being fellow students in Gangadasa Pandit's school, Jagadanananda Pandit and Nimai Pandit used to have friendly arguments about logic. Sometimes they would argue about the definition of mukti. Jagadananda Pandit would quote the verse beginning `Atyantya dukha nivritti': `Liberation means to be delivered from the miseries of maya'. But Nimai Pandit would say, "No. The real definition of mukti is: `Mukti hitva anyata rupam, svarupena vyavastiti'. Mukti is that condition in which one realizes his own swarupa and the swarupa of Krishna, and he realizes his relationship with Krishna. Liberation from all false identifications is only possible when one knows his real identification. When one surrenders to the lotus-feet of Radha and Krishna and serves Them with one's transcendental body and senses, that is mukti. Otherwise mukti is only partial.” So this is nara-lila-`human-like' friends arguing together.

 In Jagannatha Puri, on the other hand, there were so many aisvarya, `opulent', pastimes, which everyone knew could not be performed by a human being. For example, when Mahaprabhu jumped in the ocean and was caught in the fisherman's net, His body became elongated and all His joints were separated by eight inches. This is an opulence, and this is very deep and very hard to understand. After Mahaprabhu completed his talks with Ramananda Raya, He tasted their fruits in Gambhira. Only three-and-one-half persons were allowed to enter there-Sri Ramananda Raya, Sri Svarupa Damodara, Sikhi Mahiti, and his sister Srimati Madhavi devi.

Dwaraka is full of opulence. There are so many palaces, elephants, horses, and chariots. Similarly, in Puri there was so much veneration by all Mahaprabhu's devotees, and all were fearful to make proposals to Him. In Navadvipa, on the other hand, Kolaveca Sridhar would have arguments with Nimai Pandit-and Nimai would even steal his vegetables.

In Vraja, Sri Krishna is considered an ordinary cowherd-boy. In Navadvipa, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is considered as an ordinary brahmana's son. No one could conceive of Him being called `Mahaprabhu' in Navadvipa. Only when He went to Puri did He begin to be called `Mahaprabhu'. In Navadvipa He sucked the breast of Sachidevi. He played with the girls who were worshipping Siva-linga to get a good husband. He also sometimes behaved as a mischievous student. His lila, therefore, is called madhuryamayi-lila. Someone may object to this statement, considering that He manifested as Lord Nrsinghadeva and Lord Varaha in Navadvipa. This is true, but hardly anyone saw this. Practically all the devotees always thought He was simply Saci-putra. Only those few who were in the mood of worship, like Murari Gupta (who is Hanuman) or Srivas Pandit (who is Sri Narada Muni), understood Him as the Supreme Lord.


There is a comparison between the three aspects of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the three aspects of Srimati Radharani. There is an original Radhika. The complete and original form of Srimati Radhika is called Vrsabhanu-nandini Radhika. She never leaves Vrindavana, and she only feels short-term separation from Krishna-as when He goes cowherding for a few hours each day. Vrsabhanu-nandini Radhika is always experiencing Her nitya-lila or astakaliya-lila pastimes with Krishna, which take place twenty-four hours a day-from one early morning to the next. She is actually never separated from Krishna. There is only an abhiman, or self-conception, that they are sometimes separated.

Vrsabhanu-nandini has two manifestations. One is viyogini Radhika: Radhika feeling separation from Krishna at Uddhava Kyari when Krishna was in Mathura and Dwaraka. Her other manifestation is in Kuruksetra, and that is Samyogini Radhika. It is Samyogini Radha who meets with Krishna in Kuruksetra. Just as Dvarkadish-Krishna and Mathuresh-Krishna are always within Purnatam Brajendranandana Sri Krishna, so these other two manifestations of Vrsabhanu-nandini Radhika are included within Her original form.

Radhika's full, original form also feels separation, but only at certain times. For example, She may wake up one morning and think, " Oh, what a terrible dream I had. Krishna went to Dwaraka and He married so many queens.” Also now and then some conception comes, "Oh, Krishna had left. No, Krishna is here after all.” That sentiment or conception takes a sthula-murti, tangible form, in prakat-lila.

The three aspects of Srimati Radhika: Vrsabhanunandini, Viyogini, and Samyogini are defined in the Sanat Kumar Samhita. Just as She has three aspects, Sri Sacinandana Gaura-hari has three aspects. Sri Krishna Caitanya Radha Krishna nahi anya. Mahaprabhu is no one but Radha and Krishna combined.

When Srimati Radhika is speaking to the bumblebee at Uddhava Kyari, She is Viyogini Radhika.

madhupa kitava-bandho ma sprsanghrim sapatnyah kuca-vilulita-mala-kunkuma-smasrubhir nah vahatu madhu-patis tan-manininam prasadam yadu-sadasi vidambyam yasya dutas tvam idrk (SB.10.47.12)
"O black bee, don't touch me. I know you are a representative of Krishna from Mathura and you are trying to make some compromise. But I will never compromise with that Krishna. I know that the red of your whiskers has come from the kumkum that came from the breasts of His beloveds. It was smeared on Krishna's garland when He embraced them, and then came on your mustaches.”

This mood of transcendental madness is of Viyogini Radhika, and this is compared to Caitanya Mahaprabhu at Puri. Sri Caitanya Caritamrta explains that the mood of Srimati Radhika which was seen by Uddhava was the constant mood of Caitanya Mahaprabhu at Gambhira.

 `Vrindavana parityaja na padam ekam gacchati'. Krishna never leaves Vrindavana. Nandanandana is always in Vrindavana.Vrsabhanu-nandini also never leaves Vrindavana, and similarly, Sacinandana never leaves Navadvipa.

In Godavari, Caitanya Mahaprabhu manifested his Rasaraja-mahabhava svarupa. There in Godavari He discussed all tattvas: rasa-tattva, prema-tattva, and Radha-tattva. But who saw this? Only Ramananda Raya. This manifestation of Rasaraja-mahabhava was not an ordinary activity. No one else could have shown Himself as Radha and Krishna. Therefore it is an opulence, aisvarya, and it is not the highest lila.

Srimati Radhika's partial moods and forms are included within her original form, and this is also true with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In Mahaprabhu's lila, Puri is like Dwaraka. When He is in Gambhira He is experiencing Radharani's separation from Krishna at Dwaraka, in the mood of Viyogini Radhika. When Mahaprabhu is in Godavari, He is like Samyogini Radhika. This aspect of Srimati Radhika meets Krishna at Kuruksetra in order to bring Him back to Vrindavana. These two aspects of Mahaprabhu are included in Navadvipa.

In Jagannatha Puri no one accepted the names Sacinandana, etc. Everyone there had a reverential mood towards Mahaprabhu. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya realized, "Here is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I've never seen such a person.” Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, Mad. 6, 9-13, states that while examining the body of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sarvabhauma saw that His abdomen was not moving and that He was not breathing. Seeing this condition, he became very anxious. He then took a fine cotton swab and put it before Mahaprabhu's nostrils. When he saw the cotton move very slightly, he became hopeful. Sitting beside Mahaprabhu, he thought: "This is a transcendental ecstatic transformation brought about by love of Krishna.” Upon seeing the sign of suddipta-sattvika bhava, the Bhattacarya could immediately understand the transcendental ecstatic transformation in Mahaprabhu's body. Such a sign could take place only in the bodies of Krishna's eternally liberated associates like the gopis, and especially in Srimati Radhika. The Bhattacarya considered, "The uncommon ecstatic symptoms of adhiruddha-bhava are appearing in the body of Mahaprabhu. This is very wonderful! How are they possible in the body of a human being?”


Navadvipa is gupta (hidden) Vrindavana. Although the twelve forests of Vrindavana are hidden in Navadvipa, they are in a different sequence. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has described this as acintya, inconceivable. He has explained that it is the specialty of this Dhama. It is hidden and crooked, and so it cannot be exactly in the same sequence. This is the nature of hidden prema.  

Radha-kunda is not far from Devananda Gaudiya Matha. Because Govardhana is here, Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda must also be here. My Guru Maharaja, Nitya-lila Pravista om Visnupada Paramhamsa Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajana Kesava Goswami Maharaja has fulfilled the innermost heart's desire of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Maharaja and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura by establishing this temple in the valley or plain of Govardhana.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu sometimes stayed here and performed pastimes. One pastime, as explained in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, was when some young girls were making offerings to Siva-linga with fruits, flowers, and other worshipable paraphernalia. At that time Nimai Pandit forcibly stole the offerings and told the girls that they should not waste their time worshipping Lord Siva. He said, "I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You should worship Me. All the demigods and demigoddesses are my servants. If you do not worship Me I will curse you to all get ugly, old husbands who already have five wives.” They were all joking in this way, but they did not believe that He was the Supreme.

All the Vrindavana pastimes are there in Navadvipa. Govardhana and Rasa-stali are present where we are now sitting, in Koladwipa-at the Devananda Gaudiya Matha. . Krishna is dancing here with the gopis. One may say that the highest place in Navadwipa is Yogapitha at Mayapur because that is where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared. But actually, Koladwipa is superior. We must consider the siddhanta (the conclusive truth). Comparing Navadwipa to Vrindavana, Mathura-Gokula is the place where Krishna appeared. He appeared simultaneously, as Lord Vasudeva in Mathura, and as a baby in Gokula. But this place in Koladwipa is Govardhana, where Krishna appeared in His original and most complete form, His kisora form, His Radha-Krishna yugala form. This is also where rasa-lila, the highest pastime, took place. It can be concluded, therefore, that this place is so much higher.

Srila Rupa Goswami confirms in his Upadesamrta that, "The holy place known as Mathura is spiritually superior to Vaikuntha, the transcendental world, because the Lord appeared there. Superior to Mathura-puri is the transcendental forest of Vrindavana because of Krishna's rasa-lila pastimes. And superior to the forest of Vrindavana is Govardhana Hill, for it was raised by the divine hand of Sri Krishna and was the site of His various loving pastimes. And, above all, the super-excellent Sri Radha-kunda stands supreme, for it is over-flooded with the ambrosial nectarine prema of the Lord of Gokula, Sri Krishna. Where, then, is that intelligent person who is unwilling to serve this divine Radha-kunda, which is situated at the foot of Govardhana Hill?”


After the class, Srila Maharaja's senior disciples discussed how his deep presentation now allowed them to understand some of these points for the first time. That evening at an informal darsana just outside Srila Narayana Maharaja's room, a disciple questioned, "You said this morning that there was no opulence manifestation in Navadvipa.” But Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed His virat-rupa, His Universal form, there in Navadvipa. Srila Maharaja replied, "Yes, but only to a few, such as Srivasa Thakura as Narada Muni.”

Another devotee questioned, "You said in class that Jagannatha Puri represents Dwaraka and Godavari represents Kuruksetra. How is Godavari Kuruksetra?” Srila Maharaja replied, "It is not that Godavari is the same as Kuruksetra. This comparison is given because of its display of opulence. When Srimati Radhika first met Krishna at Kuruksetra, She saw so much opulence: horses, chariots and elephants, and Krishna was dressed as an opulent prince. Similarly, when Mahaprabhu manifested His transcendental form as Rasaraja-Mahabhava, this was a great display of opulence. Another thing was that the great happiness Srimati Radhika felt by meeting Krishna in Kuruksetra after such a long time was only momentary. When She realized that Their meeting and relationship could not be the same as it was in Vrindavana, it became a pathetic scene. Similarly, the opulent display of Mahaprabhu's Rasaraja Mahabhava form was only revealed for a moment.

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