Lecture by His Holiness Radhanatha Swami (download mp3), at the 2007 Gaura Purnima Festival, Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir, Mayapur, India.
Text 10: When Vidura was invited by his elder brother [Dhrtarastra] for consultation, he entered the house and gave instructions which were exactly to the point. His advice is well known, and instructions by Vidura are approved by expert ministers of state.
PURPORT: Political suggestions by Vidura are known as expert, just as, in modern times, Pandita Canakya is considered the authority in good counsel in both political and moral instructions.
Text 11: [Vidura said:] You must now return the legitimate share to Yudhisthira, who has no enemies and who has been forbearing through untold sufferings due to your offenses. He is waiting with his younger brothers, among whom is the revengeful Bhima, breathing heavily like a snake. Surely you are afraid of him.
parthams tu devo bhagavan mukundo grhitavan saksiti-deva-devah aste sva-puryam yadu-deva-devo vinirjitasesa-nrdeva-devah
TRANSLATION: Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, has accepted the sons of Prtha as His kinsmen, and all the kings of the world are with Lord Sri Krsna. He is present in His home with all His family members, the kings and princes of the Yadu dynasty, who have conquered an unlimited number of rulers, and He is their Lord.
PURPORT: Vidura gave Dhrtarastra very good counsel regarding political alliance with the sons of Prtha, the Pandavas. The first thing he said was that Lord Krsna was intimately related with them as their cousin. Because Lord Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He is worshipable by all brahmanas and demigods, who are the controllers of the universal affairs. Besides that, Lord Krsna and His family members, the royal order of the Yadu dynasty, were the conquerors of all kings of the world.
The ksatriyas used to fight the kings of various dominions and kidnap their beautiful princess-daughters, after conquering their relatives. This system was laudable because the ksatriyas and the princesses would be married only on the basis of the chivalry of the conquering ksatriya. All the young princes of the Yadu dynasty married the daughters of other kings in this way, by chivalrous force, and thus they were conquerors of all the kings of the world. Vidura wanted to impress upon his elder brother that fighting with the Pandavas was fraught with many dangers because they were supported by Lord Krsna, who had conquered, even in His childhood, demons like Kamsa and Jarasandha and demigods like Brahma and Indra. Therefore all universal power was behind the Pandavas. [end of purport]
HH Radhanath Swami: We are reading today from Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 3, Chapter 1, entitled Questions by Vidura, Text 10 through 12. in this chapter, we find the essential Vaisnava qualities of Vidura, what made him so very dear to Krsna that the Lord was in preference of taking a simple banana from Vidura than an elegant feast and royal reception from Duryodhana. In this chapter, we find what a well-wishing friend and servant Vidura was to everyone, even those who hated him.
In the Krsna book there is story of Brghu Muni kicking the chest of Visnu and Visnu getting off his throne to massage the feet of Brghu, apologizing, "My chest is so hard and your foot is so soft, please let me massage your feet." Therein Srila Prabhupada writes:
"One's greatness has to be estimated by one's ability to tolerate provoking situations."
I'll repeat: "One's greatness has to be estimated by one's ability to tolerate provoking situations."
Krsna tells us in Gita, dukhalaya, this material world is a place of misery. He has created it, he maintains it, and ultimately, only he can destroy it. He knows supremely how this material world works and why. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur said, "This world is no place for a gentleman." Whoever we are, we have to suffer.
In one lecture on the first verse of Sri Bhagavad-gita, Srila Prabhupada explains why this material world is so miserable: because everyone who comes to this world is envious, potentially envious of anyone else. Srila Prabhupada defines why people are envious: because we want to be the Lord, we want to be the proprietor, the controller, and the enjoyer. Therefore, we are potentially in conflict with anybody or anyone in our pursuit.
He gives the example of Duryodhana. He had everything--massive wealth, tremendous influence and power, he was young, he was handsome, he was intelligent. Yudhisthira and his brothers were utterly faultless. They loved him, but he was envious because he wanted what they had. He was envious of the strength of Bhima, he was envious of the morality of Yudhisthira, and he was envious of their rightful heir to the throne. In his envy, he influenced others, including his father, to try through so many ways to destroy the Pandavas, he tried to murder them again and again.
Bhisma, when he was on his deathbed, he was wondering, "How is it that Yudhisthira had to suffer so much? He is religion personified. And how is it that Kunti, their noble and pious mother, had to go through such terrible trauma throughout her life? It is due to the imperceptible, inevitable power of time, which is controlled by the Personality of Godhead, that all of these things have taken place." But ultimately, everything is always perfect for his devotees.
Vidura, who we are reading about today, he had to witness all of these tragedies. A pure devotee in every respect, Vidura was everyone's well-wisher. He was equally the uncle of the Pnadavas and the Kurus. And he was the only surviving brother of Dhrtarastra. His compassion was not sentimental. He saw how his brother was not only blind in sight, but he was blind spiritually and socially as well due to his association with the envious Duryodhana.
Seeing tragedy after tragedy, plot after plot to take the life of the Pandavas, he tried in every way to resolve the issues. It was actually Vidura who sent the message to Yudhisthira Maharaja, "You are living in a house of lac. On this particular day, they are planning to murder you by burning it down." Through that message, the Pandavas were rescued. Then he saw the Pandavas exiled for thirteen years to the forest after being cheated, and all the blasphemy and horrible rumors and various plots to destroy them.
Here we find in this chapter, Vidura is approaching Dhrtarastra, "Because of your attachment to this envious son, who is offense personified, Duryodhana, you will not only be destroyed, they will be destroyed, your entire dynasty will be destroyed. Don't you see? Yudhisthira is faultless, Bhima is angry as a snake, heavily breathing for revenge, and their best well-wishing friend is Krsna, the controller of all controllers, the Lord of the demigods. Don't you see your insanity? Give the Pandavas what they deserve."
He said all this in the presence of Duryodhana, who was absolutely outraged. But Vidura was fearless. Duryodhana screamed out, "Who asked him to come here?" He was so swollen with anger, his lips were trembling. "Who asked him to come here, this son of a kept mistress? He is so crooked that he spies in the interest of the enemy against those on whose support he has grown up. Toss him out of this palace immediately and leave him only with his breath."
This is coming from the words of someone that Vidura loved dearly, his own nephew. These words, it describes, pierced Vidura's heart like arrows through his ears, afflicted the very core of his heart. And Dhrtarastra took the side of his son.
Vidura was not only horribly blasphemed but he was kicked out of his own home. He had to leave his family, his wife, his children, his home, everything, and go to the forest. But Vidura saw it all as the divine arrangement of Krsna to free him from all of the horrible politics of the palace and allow him to go on a pilgrimage to all the holy places alone and seek out the association of holy people. For years and years he traveled all over India to the sacred places. During that time the battle of Kuruksetra took place, the Pandavas were victorious, Duryodhana, all of his ninety-nine brothers were killed by Bhima, Yudhisthira Maharaja was enthroned as king.
Vidura came out of his wonderful pilgrimage to Hastinapura for one reason only--to deliver Dhrtarastra, who was so cruel to him, who banished him from his own home, who offended the greatest devotees and the Lord himself. Vidura understood Dhrtarastra is going to suffer the worst hell unless he is delivered. He came back from the forest only to preach to Dhrtarastra.
Amazing. . . Dhrtarastra was so covered over by illusion, it took that much for him to hear Vidura's words. Vidura was speaking the same thing to him year after year after year, but he couldn't hear because of his attachment to his sons. But now that everything was lost Vidura understood he may be receptive--and he was. "You are being kept by Yudhisthira Maharaja, who you tried to destroy in every way. How shameful! How offensive. Come with me to the forest and atone for your sins and take shelter of the Supreme Lord."
After preaching to Dhrtarastra, Vidura went to the forest with him to show him the path of self-realization and never came back. Srila Prabhupada explains: this is the nature of Vaisnava. Even abused in so many ways, he is always the well-wisher, forgiving, and humble.
This is the recurring theme of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Pandavas, Prahlada Maharaja, abused by his father in every way, atrocities, death threats, blasphemy, but still, when asked for a benediction from Lord Nrsimhadeva, he only wanted his father to be liberated. And he repeatedly went to his father and preached to him the truth. Ambarisa Maharaja, he made no mistake, but Durvasa Muni tried to murder him. He called him such nasty words. He said, "You're not a devotee, you're cruel, you're offensive, you're attached to your senses, and you think you're God." That's a heavy offense to say against a devotee: "You think you're God." After creating that fiery demon, Ambarisa Maharaja spent a whole year only praying for the deliverance of Durvasa Muni, and ultimately, delivered him.
And here in Navadvipa, we find the same theme again and again. Nearby in Phuliagram, Thakura Haridasa, as he was being blasphemed and beaten with the intention of killing him by the executioners, Haridasa was only praying to the Lord for one benediction: "Give them love of God. Don't think that what they are doing against me is an offense. Forgive them and give them your love."
Nityananda Prabhu was attacked with the intention to kill him by Jagai and Madhai, who were raping brahmana's daughters and wives, they were murderers, they were slaughtering cows, they were drunkards, they were burning people's houses together. Nityananda Prabhu prayed to Lord Caitanya, "If I have done any good pious activities, if I have done any good service to you, let all those credits go to forgiving them and giving them love of God."
And Lord Caitanya himself, at one time, he ordered his devotees, "We should give us this sleeping at night, it's a waste of time. We should perform nama-sankirtana in Srivasa Angam all night, every night for the next one year." And they did it. They locked the doors so that materialistic people would not disturb them.
But those materialistic people, how they hated Lord Caitanya and the devotees. They would bang on the doors, "Let us in! Let us in!" But they were not permitted, so they would call out in loud voices amongst themselves and for everyone to hear, "We know what they are doing in there. They are so useless and poverty-stricken that they go out begging for food, but because they aren't getting enough food, in their starvation, they are screaming out all night long."
"They are doing tantric rites to goddess Durga in there. Otherwise, why will they not allow noble, learned brahmanas to come in? Because we will expose them. They are drinking liquor. They are seducing the five types of young girls, bringing them into their house, dressing with ornaments and costly garments, drinking intoxicating beverages, and enjoying illicit affairs all night, every night. That is what they are doing. Because of them, the whole city of Navadvipa is going to be destroyed."
One said, "Nimai used to be a nice boy, but due to his past impious deeds and his association with these devotees and due to his not being trained properly by a father, he has become mad, crazy, and sinful. We should take this Srivasa, capture him, and punish him. We should take his house, tear it apart and throw it in the Ganges."
This is what they were saying. Not only that, they would grab innocent people and bring them to the kirtan, "You hear that screaming, you see what they are doing, do you know why they are not letting us in?" And they would repeat these horrible words.
Lord Caitanya and the devotees just carried on with their nama-sankirtana. This type of blasphemy was going on continuously through Lord Caitanya's nama-sankirtana movement. Those same brahmanas even complained to Chand Kazi, who tried to destroy Lord Caitanya and his movement, made laws against them. It was due to that difficult situation Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered the first public harinama-sankirtana procession through the streets of Navadvipa. And even though Chand Kazi was so blasphemous and so violent towards the Vaisnavas, Mahaprabhu went right to his house and delivered him. But it didn't stop.
In our biographies of Lord Caitanya, we read how Lord Caitanya really took a mood very similar to Vidura. He had to leave Navadvipa, and ultimately, come back to deliver those who were trying to destroy him.
Once in the mood of the gopis, he was chanting the names of the gopis, and one arrogant student challenged him, "Why are you saying 'gopi, gopi'? What scripture tells you that? This is bogus. You should chant the name of Krsna."
Lord Caitanya, in his ecstasy, picked up a stick and chased him away. "Why should I chant Krsna's name? He is a cheater. Vali was a good monkey and he killed him for no reason. And Bali Maharaja was a very nice man, and yet, he took everything from him and sent him down to Patala-loka."
He was in his ecstasy, but the student went to the other students and reported it. Due to their arrogance, they were inflamed with anger. They were spreading throughout the town of Navadvipa, "Who is this Nimai Pandit? Who does he think he is? Not long ago, we were students sitting right next to him, and now, he has the right to punish us? All his mad chanting all night long? He is going to bring ruination. He is offending the demigods by not chanting their names. They are going to withdraw rain, there will be a drought, and we are all going to die because of him. He should be destroyed. We should punish him. We should beat him."
At that time, Lord Caitanya sat with Nityananda Prabhu and his devotees and he said, "I have come with a medicine to reduce the congestion of mucus, but I find that the medicine is increasing the disease of excess mucus."
He said to Nityananda Prabhu, "We have to come to deliver the world, but now we see that due to our presence, it is being destroyed. Therefore, because they are seeing me to be an ordinary man like them as a grhastha, I will shave my head, and live my life as a beggar, as a sannyasi. Then they will offer obeisances to me and be delivered."
Nityananda Prabhu was devastated. The Lord said, "I will not do it without your permission."
Nityananda Prabhu said, "Who am I to tell you what to do? You are the independent Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ultimately, you know what is best for everyone, but please ask the other devotees."
Lord Caitanya embraced him. Nityananda mediated on the lotus feet of the Lord Caitanya's mother, Sacidevi: "What will happen to her? Without her son Nimai, as a widow, she will die. She will cry day and night." Thinking of Mother Saci, he fell unconscious. Going to a secluded place, he wept continuously.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had all the innocent and pious people of Navadvipa joining his nama-sankirtana movement. His particular reason for taking sannyasa was to somehow or other deliver the envious people who were blaspheming him and blaspheming the Vaisnavas. It is described by Kaviraja Goswami, he went to South India, and there, he had such greater success than Navadvipa because they were innocent people. Navadvipa was filled with so many arrogant, venomous people.
But then Lord Caitanya, like Vidura, returned to the very place of those who had offended him. He came to Vidyanagar to the house of Vidya-vacaspati, the son of Visarada and the brother of Savrabhauma Bhattacarya. When the people of Navadvipa heard that Lord Caitanya, who was now a sannyasi, had returned, all these blasphemous sinful people, as well as the pious people, they all rushed to his association.
It is explained that so many people, millions and millions, were running, the roads were filled. They ran through the jungles where there were thorns and thickets, and didn't even care. They made all the jungles into like roadways of people just running and running and running. Nothing could stop them. They were embracing each other. "I have blasphemed the devotees unlimited times, I have blasphemed the Lord himself again and again, but I will fall at his feet and I will beg for his forgiveness and I will surrender to him." This was the mood.
They were all running. They came to the river--a single ferry. Thousands and thousands of people jumped on it. The ferryman didn't know what to do. He saw his ferry just fall to pieces and disintegrate. This happened to all the boats. The people, they were so eager to see Lord Caitanya, they just gave some clothes, "Here get a new ferry." Somehow or other, they had to cross the Ganges. Most of them did not know swimming. Some of them just grabbed a clay pot and used that to float. Others took the trunk of a banana tree and floated on that. Others who didn't know how to swim forgot they didn't know how to swim and swam across. [laughter] This was the intensity of their enthusiasm. There was no obstacle that could stop them.
When they gathered around Vidya-vacaspati's house, there were millions and millions of people. All of the agricultural fields were filled. According to Caitanya Bhagavata, thousands of people simultaneously tired to climb a single tree. They were standing by the thousands on a single rooftop and yet nobody died or got injured. Vidya-vacaspati said, "My Lord, they are all coming to see you, please come out."
When Lord Caitanya came out, everyone falling at his feet, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave a simple message, "Always remember Krsna, chant the Holy Names of Krsna, worship Krsna, and always share Krsna with each other. In this way, your lives will be perfect." He raised his arms and induced everyone to chant. Soon there were thousands of kirtan parties with their arms raised, loudly chanting the Holy Names.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu suddenly disappeared. He went to Kuliya-gram. The people couldn't find him. They fell at the feet of Vidya-vacaspati, "We know he is hiding in you house. I won't tell anyone else, just let me in to see the Lord."
Vidya-vacaspati couldn't find the Lord. He didn't know where he was. Soon people were criticizing him, "Why don't you let us in?" Thousands, millions of people were just blaspheming Vidya-vacaspati. "He is so cruel. He is supposed to be a brahmana, but he is only concerned with his own deliverance. He doesn't care if the rest of us go to hell. Even a common, decent person, if he has an abundance of sweets, he doesn't eat them all himself, he distributes them."
He was tormented. On one side he was feeling separation from the Lord, on the other side, he was the enemy of everyone. Someone whispered in his ear, "The Lord has gone to Kuliya-gram."
He called out, he said, "Kuliya-gram! Let's go!" So all of those millions of people had to cross the Ganges again. Now, according to Sri Caitanya Bhagavat, the crowd was even thousands of times bigger.
At the house of Madhava dasa, Vidya-vacaspati was searching frantically. If he didn't find him, he was in big trouble. Finally, he found him. He said, "My Lord, please save my life. They hate me. They are saying horrible things against me. Come out and give your darsana. Rescue my life."
Lord Caitanya came out. When he came out, everyone was offering their lives and their souls to him. It is explained when he was on the roof of the house of Madhava Dasa, the devotees saw Lord Caitanya like the gopis saw Krsna in Kuruksetra. This is explained by Bhaktivinod Thakur. They were praying in their heart of hearts, "You have left Srivasa Angam to become a great sannyasi traveling all around, doing all great things. Now you are here again in Navadvipa. We do not like to see you with this shaved head. We want to see your beautiful flowing, black hair again. We cannot tolerate seeing you in the drab robes of a sannyasi. We want to see you again in your beautiful golden garments with ornaments. Please, we don't like to see you in this way. Return to Srivasa's house where like days before, we can once again be in your intimate association, chanting throughout the day and night the Holy Names of Lord Krsna."
It was at that time that all of the blasphemers and critics came to Lord Caitanya to beg forgiveness and he gave them all love of God. One brahmana fell at Lord Caitanya's feet. He said, "For years and years, I blasphemed you, I blasphemed your sankirtana, and I blasphemed your devotees. I used to say, 'What kind of Vaisnavas are they, screaming out these names all day. What's wrong with japa and meditation?' But now I realize my offense. Please instruct me how I can be delivered."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said to that brahmana, "Listen carefully, if one drinks poison, it will certainly kill him, but if one drinks nectar, that will counteract the effects of poison and deliver him. Criticizing a devotee is like poison. It kills our propensity for devotional service. There is only one remedy. No prayascita will work if you blaspheme Krsna or his devotees. There is no atonement in any of the scriptures that will counteract it. Only one: you must sincerely and humbly glorify the names of God and you must praise the glories of the Vaisnavas. Wiith the same mouth you blasphemed, you must praise the Vaisnavas. Then you will not only be forgiven, you will attain the perfection of life. Take this seriously always. Praise the glories of the devotees."
Devananda Pandit, who had offended Srivasa Thakur, and offended Lord Caitanya on so many occasions, due to somehow or other getting the blessings of Vakresvara Pandit, his heart changed. That is the power of the association of a devotee. He came and fell at the feet of Lord Caitanya and begged, "Please forgive me."
Lord Caitanya instructed him, "You were preaching Srima- Bhagavatam, but you were not respecting the persons Bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam only teaches one thing from its first verse to the last: pure, unalloyed devotion to Krsna. Speak only this and give up your offensive mentality."
Gopal Capala, who tried to destroy Srivasa Thakur by ruining his reputation, Gopal Capala put the tantric, ritualistic paraphernalia of durga-puja in front of his house, wine, and all kinds of other things just so the people would hate him and lose all respect for him. Due to that offense, he got leprosy. But at Kuliya-gram, he fell at the feet of Lord Caitanya and begged for forgiveness. Lord Caitanya said, "I cannot forgive you unless Srivasa Thakur forgives you. He is the one you offended."
He went to Srivasa. Sirvasa, the whole while, was only praying for his deliverance. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave Gopal Capala krsna-prema.
Vrindavan dasa Thakur explains that anyone who even hears of the Lord's mercy to the blasphemers and sinners in Kuliya-gram, all the bonds of their karma will be destroyed and they will attain the mercy of Lord Caitanya.
Like Vidura, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu left Navadvipa and then returned only for the purpose of giving his mercy to those who hated him and tried to destroy him.
Dhrtarastra went to the forest along with Vidura and atoned for all of his offenses. That is the mercy of a Vaisnava. Srila Prabhupada explains: "One's greatness has to be estimated by one's ability to tolerate provoking situations." Because this world has inevitable miseries, sufferings, and such provoking situations will come upon everyone, how we respond, that is how Krsna within our heart will see that we are sincere.
Srila Prabhupada, our beloved spiritual maser, how merciful, kind, and compassionate he was to all of us. Devotees asked Srila Prabhupada, "What was our qualification for getting such a glorious chance of perfecting our lives?"
Srila Prabhupada said, "You had no qualifications." And with all humility, he said, "I have made your qualifications." It is how much he tolerated, how much he forgave us, and factually, that was, and will always be, our only qualification to go back home, back to Godhead.
Srila Prabhupada ki jai!
Thank you very much. We must end now. Hare Krsna.