If you were to examine the list of personalities in the Chaitanya Sarasvata Parampara, our parampara, who would you find? Who is in the sankirtana movement? Who is Mahaprabhu? Who is Gadadhara; who are all these personalities? Then you would come to the Six Goswamis; who are they? Rupa, Sanatana, they are gopis (manjaris) who came down here in the form of Rupa and Sanatana. All the way from them to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and all the acharyas in our line, it is known who they are in the eternal lila of Krishna. This is true for all those up to the time of Bhaktisiddhanta. After that, it is not known who any of them are. You will find mentioned throughout books and various letters who is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. For instance, one devotee wrote to Srila Prabhupada, “Srila Bhaktisiddhanta is an ashta-sakhi.” Prabhupada wrote back, “These are very high topics, and they are not for general discussion, but as far as I know, my Guru Maharaja is not one of the ashta-sakhis. He is a manjari named Nayana-mani Manjari.” So up to that point, who they are in that eternal world, that has been revealed, but after that point it has not been revealed.
What is clear is that the line of service that they bring down goes to a particular place. It does not go to Vaikuntha. If someone offered you the chance to go to Vaikuntha today, would you take it? Better say no, because Prabhupada is not there to greet you, he is not in Vaikuntha. Mahaprabhu is not there to greet you; Nityananda Prabhu and Achyutananda the sankirtana leader are not there to greet you in Vaikuntha. Maybe Advaita Acharya will be there, but He will look at you and say, “What are you doing here? Move on, move on!”
There was recently a discussion, part of which pertained to whether Advaita Acharya can give vraja-bhava. There was a controversy among some devotees regarding this point. Someone was saying that Advaita Acharya could not give vraja-bhava because he is Sada-Shiva/Maha-Vishnu; he is Maha-Vishnu and Sada-Siva. Advaita Acharya not only brings Mahaprabhu down to this world, but he also delivers us to Nityananda Prabhu. Yes, he does not give a direct admittance to Vrindavana, but he gives introduction to Mahaprabhu by bringing Him to this world and delivering us to Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu takes us to Mahaprabhu.
According to a devotee’s service mentality, he will be turned over to a particular leader of servitors. Raghunatha Dasa Goswami made it all the way to the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu, and Mahaprabhu said, “You will be with Svarupa Damodara; you will be under his care.” In the eternal world we will be under the care of different devotees of the Supreme Lord, according to our devotional aptitude, or devotional achievement. That achievement is just a feeling. It is just a feeling.
In the end, Krishna consciousness is just about cultivating a feeling. All that you know in this world will vanish at the time of death; everything goes, and a feeling overwhelms us. Darkness comes, sound goes away, and there is a feeling. For those who are not God-conscious, that feeling is all about matter, all about anxiety. That feeling is fear, attachment, and all these mundane things. But for a devotee, that feeling is love, bhava, prema — feelings of love towards Krishna. Those feelings are similar to the feelings we have in this world. There are different types of love: love among friends, love of family, love of a lover; that is the worldly love, kama. The pure love of Krishna also has such flavor as friend, as a son, as a lover; different types of feelings are there, different types of love are there, according to one’s qualification. In that way, a particular devotee will enter into a particular group of servitors.
So if you are offered liberation, even to Vaikuntha, do not take it. If you were offered brahma-jyoti, certainly you would not take that; you would reject that right away. Or mystic powers? No, we do not want mystic powers, we do not want impersonal liberation, and we do not want Vaikuntha liberation. We do not want that place; we must bow our heads and say, “No, we don’t want Vaikuntha.” We say, “I’ll wait for the time when the opportunity comes down that I will serve my Lord in Goloka or in Navadvipa.”
Sometimes we forget Navadvipa; generally we think Goloka is everything, saying, “Oh, yes, also Navadvipa, this is nice; Navadvipa is also there.” But actually, Navadvipa is more wonderful than Goloka. Goloka Vrindavana is called madhu. It is sweet, but Navadvipa is sweetness with magnanimity. In Vrindavana the magnanimity is very less; one must be highly qualified there. It is very restricted; it is not open to just anyone and everyone. But in chaitanya-lila, in the eternal Navadvipa, there is madhurya, sweetness, and audarya, magnanimity. It is actually greater.
Imagine that you have a cup full of nectar, and you have another cup overflowing with nectar. One cup full of nectar, that is krishna-lila. One cup full of nectar which is overflowing, that is caitanya-lila. We should give more importance to caitanya-lila in our meditation, in our contemplation, in our thought. We should give more importance to caitanya-lila than we give to krishna-lila. It is not that we should neglect Krishna or Vrindavana, but we must understand that there is no entrance into Vrindavana without Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
In the renaissance period many kings built temples. Even the king of Burma built a Radha-Krishna temple near Gopeshvara Mahadeva, right next to Vrinda0kunja, near Bhutgali. But what does such a man know about krishna-bhakti? He does not know very much, but it was part of a cultural renaissance. It came to a point that even the Sri Vaisnavas of South India had to build a big temple in Vrindavana, because if you were not represented in Vrindavana, you were nowhere, you were nobody. It is like if you are a film producer, then you will be represented at the Cannes Film Festival and you will be at the Sundance Film Festival, or you are nobody in the film world. Vrindavana became such a place. If you were not represented in Vrindavana, many people would consider what you were in spiritual life to be nothing. Representation in Vrindavana almost became a thing of prestige. But what does prestige have to do with spiritual life? Nothing.
Only by the grace of the foot dust of Mahaprabhu and his followers can we enter into Vrindavana. Not just by buying land, not by getting a big throne, not by getting prestige and honor for ourselves. Mother Shachi used to wonder from time to time, she would wonder deeply what is the position of her Son. Advaita Acharya used to come to her house and offer obeisances to that Boy. Advaita Acharya was the most dignified Vaishnava scholar in all of Navadvipa-mandala, and he used to come and bow down in front of Mahaprabhu when he was a baby. In her mind this caused some trouble: “This is very bad for my son, this is not good. Such a high person bowing down to my Son -- this is very bad.” So throughout Mahaprabhu’s life she used to wonder in many ways why certain things were happening, why people were acting in certain ways, and she would sometimes wonder who He was. But Yogamaya would always cover her eventually, and then the beauty of her child or the youthful movements of her Son would just charm her.
If we think about something often, then we may have dreams about it. Once Mother Shachi had a dream about Lord Nityananda and Mahaprabhu. The background of her dream was that after coming to Navadvipa and meeting with Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu announced, “I have just come from Vrindavana, but the thrones are empty; the Lord is not to be found in Vrindavana -- He has taken His birth in Navadvipa.” This assurance he gave to the devotees: that the Krishna from Vraja had become our Lord in Navadvipa, posing as a devotee. But He is non-different from the Krishna of Vraja, and therefore the Krishna of Vraja was gone from Vrindavana. Until Mahaprabhu went there, Krishna was almost gone; that Krishna of Vraja was hidden. After Mahaprabhu’s visit there, Krishna went back to Vrindavana. Then the temples and the Deities came back, and They manifested. There were only a few still visible, but when Mahaprabhu went there, so many more manifested.
First Nityananda Prabhu announced that Vrindavana was empty, “The Lord has come to Navadvipa.” Later, Mother Shachi had the dream: she saw Krishna and Balarama on a throne in Vrindavana, then Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu came there. Nityananda Prabhu said, “You get off the throne; your time is over! Come down, my Lord Gauranga is here; your time is over, come down!” And then Balarama said, “What do you say? He is My Brother, Krishna, Lord of Vrindavana; He will always be on this throne!” Nityananda replied, “No, your time is over, come!” Then Nityananda Prabhu began to fight with Balarama and He pulled Them off the throne, saying, “This throne is meant for Gauranga in Kali-yuga; Gauranga is on the throne!”
It is like a circle; once it gets going, where is the starting point? Like a circle, it just keeps going, and going, and going. But we should move with the flow, and we should understand the importance of Navadvipa, caitanya-lila, and how that will take us in a deeper connection with krishna-lila. And in a deeper connection with krishna-lila we will find a deeper appreciation for caitanya-lila. It goes in a circle and in time, you become a madman.
You have read it in The Teachings of Lord Chaitanya. Prabhupada has said, “The purpose, the goal is to become madly in love with Krishna.” Become mad -- are you ready to become a madman? Are you ready to become a slave? Because there are no servants of God, there are only slaves of God. Even service is not profound enough. Why? Because from service you can withdraw, saying, “I don’t like it; I will go back.” But if I own something, where can it go? Nowhere, it is mine. I own it; it is my property. Similarly, Krishna owns the devotees; they are His energy, they are His property.
Service is not quite strong enough; the word servant is not strong enough to express the highest ideal. When people hear the word slave, they generally think, “Oh my God, what is this gentleman saying? This is such a bad thing!” Yes, in this world, slavery is the worst of things, but everything is just the opposite there. A slave of love -- nothing could be finer, nothing could be sweeter, nothing is more rewarding than to be a slave in love of the Supreme Lord.
There are actually three types of madmen in this Krishna consciousness movement. There are those who are very much favorable to krishna-lila, very much drawn to Krishna, to krishna-lila, to Radha-Krishna. There are those who are very attracted to gaura-lila, to Gaura-Nitai, to Gaura-Gadadhara, the Pancha-Tattva, chaitanya-lila. There are also those who are drawn to both. The destination of those souls is in accordance with their attraction. If one is drawn toward krishna-lila and can reach that perfection of love in this life, then he will rise to become an eternal resident of Goloka. If one is more given to chaitanya-lila, then he may become an eternal resident of the Navadvipa section of Goloka. But if he is equally mad for both, as is the case with many devotees, then the soul will live in two places at once; he will be in two worlds at once.
That place is nothing like this world; we say that this world is a reflection, but that is after we have stretched the imagination. There is practically nothing here like that; everything here is limited. Even when we say, “the infinite,” our concept of infinite is limited. Here, how many people can sit in a room? Twenty? Twenty-five? Thirty? Soon it will be full. If this room were in Goloka, then one hundred thousand cowherds could sit in this room together, with no pushing, no shoving, and no lack of space. Why? Because that space is infinite; it is infinite space. This is finite space, and therefore in a half-gallon jug you can only put sixty-four ounces; you cannot put one hundred ounces in a half-gallon jug, because that space is limited. But that much space in the spiritual world could hold all the oceans of the material world. Or by just pouring that jug you could fill up those oceans, many times over. Infinite is not just “very big,” it is infinite. It is more than “big.” We generally think of the infinite as just the biggest one, the biggest yet, and a little bigger than that, but big is not even a proper word. There are no limitations there.
Sometimes we find in chaitanya-lila that people are not just one person from that spiritual world; they are three persons. Ramananda Raya is considered to be Arjuna, the Pandava, he is considered to be Vishakha in Radha-Krishna lila, and also he is considered to be a cowherd boy named Arjuna. Even when we say, “I am not this body,” when we say, “I am spirit-soul,” these are quite intellectual statements for us; the experience is waiting. The experience is mostly found on the other side, entering that world where nothing is material. We say that we are not this body, but we begin every day by waking up, which is a function of the body, and we do everything throughout the day in relation to this body. We even stop chanting Hare Krishna when we are tired; we honor prasada when we are hungry. Why do we not take it when we are not hungry? Actually, we are working with the theory that Krishna is God. We say, “theory,” but unlike modern theory, ours is based on experience. It is just that the bulk of that experience is waiting there.
These days, many devotees are very given to krishna-lila, and they want always to talk about krishna-lila, and about the madhurya-lila within krishna-lila. Sometimes they criticize book distribution, sankirtana, even preaching. They criticize that in favor of doing only bhajana. But these persons have overlooked something very, very important: that this sankirtana movement is the lila of Mahaprabhu. It is not something else that we are doing; it is the activity of Mahaprabhu. In other words, like in a pond, if you throw a pebble, a wave starts across the pond; it is just a ripple. After some time that ripple inevitably stops, but this sankirtana movement has not stopped. Since the day when Mahaprabhu inaugurated the sankirtana movement, that wave has not stopped.
Sometimes Prabhupada would report, “He is dancing in that sankirtana, it is going on eternally also in Navadvipa.” I heard once from one of the oldest disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, “In the beginning, when nothing was here in Mayapura, we used to live with our guru. In the middle of the night, we would hear some kirtana, some sankirtana. We could hear the karatalas, the mridanga, the chanting. And Guru Maharaja used to say, ‘That is the eternal sankirtana of Mahaprabhu.’”
The eternal pastimes of Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement are going on, and this sankirtana movement that we have joined is not some lesser thing. It is actually that very same wave that was started by Mahaprabhu. And He said, “This wave will go to every town and village of the world, for many, many, many centuries.” For ten thousand years it may go on; it may even exceed that also. It is said that this wave will reach the higher planetary systems. “Sankirtana-lila,” Prabhupada wrote, “is rasa-lila. Sankirtana movement is rasa-lila - it is non-different.”
Sankirtana means service. Service: the pot washer is in the sankirtana movement, the bookkeeper is in the sankirtana movement, the book printer is in the sankirtana movement, and the Bhagavatam preacher is in the sankirtana movement. The college preacher, the mridanga player, the karatala player, those who take care of the children are also in the sankirtana movement. Prabhupada’s conception was, “There is no maya in the movement.” Everything is in the sankirtana movement.
The meaning is this: If you want Krishna, then give yourself fully in cooperation to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Enter through the sankirtana movement. Entering in the sankirtana, we are immediately engaged in the Lord’s eternal pastimes. Here in this world we have so little qualification, but caitanya-lila is magnanimous. We are not fit for that, but when asked, “Will you accept this gift?” we say, “Yes!” We can enter into the Lord’s pastimes through sankirtana.