April 21, 1999 VNN3661
More Notes From The Dhama
BY SWAMI B.V. TRIPURARI
EDITORIAL, Apr 21 (VNN) (from Sanga email@example.com)
Vrindavan, April, 1999
I have started cooking breakfast here beginning at 7:30 AM. Sometimes after thinking too much about philosophy one has to give way to practical service in order to keep one's sanity and purity of heart. After meditating on the 26th verse of the Gita's 9th chapter for some time, I concluded that cooking and offering breakfast to Giriraja was a good way to round off my day.
I can assure you from my own personal experience that anyone who puts their full faith in Krishna's promise, and makes devotional offerings unto him with no desire other than to please him, will feel his blissful presence in their life. Try it today.
"Whoever offers me with devotion and purity a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I accept that offering of devotion from him."
Here we are reminded of the eulogy of the knowledge found in this chapter in the second of the three introductory verses. Krsna described the knowledge of pure devotion as easy to perform, yet bearing imperishable fruit, 'susukam kartum avyayam.' The mention of items in the singular emphasizes just how little is necessary to satisfy Krsna in terms of ingredients offered: one leaf, one flower, one fruit, or just water, which is available to everyone, is sufficient. All four items are not necessary, nor more than one of any of them. The spirit of Krsna's statement is not limited to these four items.
They merely represent that which is easily available to anyone. By use of the word "whoever" (yo) Krsna says that he will accept the offering of anyone from any background, if they take to devotional life. Implied is the idea that while the offering itself in terms of its material ingredients is important to the gods, this is not the case for Krsna. It is the devotion with which one offers that he accepts, and thus devotion is mentioned twice in this verse, which, as in verses 13, 14, and 22, speaks of the pure devotion that is the heart of this chapter. While devotion is the essential ingredient, 'prayatatmanah' indicates that the offering should be done with a pure heart, or in accordance with standards of purity such as cleanliness, etc. In the optimum Krsna refers here to offerings that are an act of devotion from start to finish, in which, for example, the devotee plants, grows, picks, prepares, and offers the fruit to him. Such preoccupation with Krishna's service assures purity of heart and gives Krsna an appetite.
I have had a desire to cook breakfast for some time. In the nitya lila this is Sri Radha's service. Even after her so called marriage to Abhimanyu, Jatila, Radha's mother in-law, continued to allow her to go to Yasodamayi's house every morning with Kundalata to cook for Krsna. She did so on the advice of wise Paurnamasi, who cautioned her not to cross Vraja's cowherd queen, Yasoda, in any way. It was Yasoda who insisted that only Radha cook for Krsna, and she was convinced that because of Radha's blessed cooking Krsna was triumphant in his forest encounters with various demons (if such encounters happened at all), as reported by Baladeva and others.
Thakura Bhaktivinoda's Raja Bhoga arotika song appears to apply more to Radha's breakfast offering than it does to Krishna's picnic lunch.
Govindalilamrita and Krsnabhavanamrita of Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura respectively describe this breakfast in considerable detail, and it is a feast much like that described by Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his song.
So with the help of Yamuna devi's cooking sastra, I have been enthusiastically cooking for over one month now. Yamuna's cookbook is a wonderful experience, an intimate glimpse into Prabhupada's personality. He is very different from what some people seem to think, warm and lovable, flexible, for whom things are seldom set in stone, other than 'kabli chana adrak kachamber' (chickpea ginger salad) every morning.
Vrindavan's natural devotional environment adds a favorable wind to the cooking service, as all desirable exotic ingredients are readily available.
We also brought flower and vegetable seeds from the US and planted them here for Giriraja. Now we need some land to transplant them into, as they are begining to flower and bear fruit. Otherwise, fresh vegetables and spices are available in the market every day, and fresh milk from the neighborhood goshala adds considerably to the experience.
Milk is indeed a miracle. Gathering and working with this divine substance is enough to convince one of the existence of God. Knowing that he himself loves it in all of its various stages of transformation and preparation transforms 'laukika sraddha' to 'aluakika sraddha', form general faith in God, one develops faith in Krsna, Govinda the cowherder, and his aprakrita lila.
Here there are cows everywhere, white, black, red, yellow, spotted, etc. On the Parikrama Marg around Vrindavana there are so many signs, 'Go seva Hari seva,' 'Serving cows is serving God.' When people say 'Jan seva, Hari seva,' 'Serving people is serving God' we object, because people themselves are supposed to worship God. Furthermore, those who say this imply that serving humanity is the sum and substance of service to Godhead. This we object to because it has little to do with Krishna's nitya lila. Otherwise, serving people is good and need not be divorced from serving Godhead. Serving cows is service to God because they personify the innocence that is at the heart of spirituality, as well as provide milk for the direct service of Govinda. Here they remind us of the aprakrita lila, as does all of Vrindavana.
We have also adopted a sick calf, Govinda dasi. Now she is well and practically living with us. When we first met her she could hardly walk, and was the butt of abuse from other cows and sometimes humans as well. We took her in and nursed her until she could walk on her own. Now she is quite healthy and demonstrates her affection and gratitude in various ways.
If we call her from fifty yards away she comes running. When she arrives, she licks us affectionately. She will never forget us throughout her life under any circumstance. Animals befriended when in duress are never ungrateful, and we should learn from them in this regard. Whoever helps us in life in anyway, directly or indirectly, and especially in regards to spiritual life, we are indebted to.
In this we are reminded of the affection and gratitude of Nityananda Prabhu. Any service rendered to Gauranga Mahaprabhu will never be forgotten by him. He marks such servitors as his own claim, and if they show tears in their eyes while chanting Gauranga's name, Nitai is purchased by such devotees.
Gratitude, Prabhupada has said, is the beginning of Krsna consciousness. I am grateful to be able to cook for Krsna in Vrindavana, and it is enthusing me in my spiritual life.
Swami B.V. Tripurari
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