Monday Morning Greetings 2019 #13 – In Every Town and Village and Other Thoughts

April 1st, 2019

In Every Town and Village

 

To my surprise, the living room was already packed. I counted forty. Not bad for a weekday afternoon. Satsvarūpa Mahārāja and Ravīndra Svarūpa Prabhu, my immediate neighbors here in Stuyvesant Falls, were already sitting for the festival and listening to the kīrtana. I was very impressed by the depth of how people were chanting.

 

The day was Gaura-pūrṇimā. I immediately thought of Śrī Caitanya’s prediction, pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma sarvatra pracāra hoibe mora nāma: “In every town and village, the chanting of My name will be heard.”[1] Just two hours outside of Manhattan, Stuyvesant Falls is a small agriculturally zoned hamlet that rests inside the town of Stuyvesant, which itself has a population of just about two thousand. Ravīndra Svarūpa, also noticing the substantial turnout, turned to me and whispered, “In this remote corner of the world.” That was Śrīla Prabhupāda’s famous comment when he first visited Gainesville, Florida in 1970. He was on an international tour to all the major cities of the world and was pleasantly surprised by the unexpectedly large, enthusiastic group of devotees that greeted him in an out of the way stop to a relatively obscure place.

 

I like living here. Krishna consciousness is not a cult; it is your neighbor next door. I’m not sure how it happened, but I remember even a Girl Scout troop from here visited Vṛndāvana during a trip to India years ago. My place, a reconverted barn behind the house of Saci-suta and Keli Lalita of Equal Vision Records, shares a driveway ­– actually adjacent driveways – with Jody and his girlfriend, both in their late fifties. You could not ask for friendlier, always willing to offer a helping hand neighbors. Not bad for red cap, Make America Great Again, beer in hand “deplorables”[2] who like prasādam, but literally only when offered mac and cheese.

 

I remember when Gauravani came and did a concert in the large barn behind mine. Jody didn’t attend, but he sat in a lounge chair in his backyard right on the border of our land, listening and guzzling a beer. At the end he even walked over the boundary line ­– he’d never done that before – and bought a CD.

 

“Every town and village!” It’s a nice meditation to have on a weekday afternoon while sitting in a remote place packed with local townsfolk chanting the holy name on Śrī Caitanya’s appearance day.

 

Sevā, Dayā, and Śrī Caitanya

 

Sevā is service to a superior. Dayā is service to one’s subordinate. I had never heard the distinction explained like that before. Dayā is usually translated as compassion, but this was the distinction Śrīla Prabhupāda made in a recorded lecture from the early seventies that I listened to this morning. When I heard him say this, I had a revelation about the difference between Krishna and Gaura-lila.[3] The focus on Krishna-lila is sevā, the intimate service of others towards God. The focus of Gaura-lila is dayā, the intimate service of God towards others.

 

The Accessibility of Gaura-lila

 

There is no difference between Radha-Krishna and Śrī Caitanya. Both are svayaṁ bhagavān, the original and fullest manifestation of the Absolute Truth. The only difference is in mood and form. When the mood of dayā, or magnanimity (audārya), becomes prominent in Radha and Krishna, They become Śrī Caitanya for the purpose of giving Their love to others. Maybe in another Monday Morning Greetings this fairly deep point can be explained in more depth. I just wanted to give some background to a point I want to stress. As Gaura-lila is imbued with dayā or compassion, spontaneous devotion is more accessible to us through Gaura-lila than through Krishna-lila. An example:

 

What I am about to say is a little more esoteric than the usual Monday Morning Greetings subjects. Please follow closely. I hope you’ll enjoy the point.

 

Śrīvāsa Aṅgana in Mayapur, the birth-place of Śrī Caitanya, is the place where the saṅkīrtana movement began. Daily, Śrī Caitanya and His intimate associates would meet for twelve-hour nocturnal kīrtanas. As there is no difference between Radha-Krishna and Śrī Caitanya, Śrīvāsa Aṅgana is rāsa-sthalī (the place of the rasa dance in Vṛndāvana) in Gaura-lila, but in a more accessible form. How? What is the rasa dance? It is the love of Radha and Krishna brought to its height by the combination of dance and music, and with the accompaniment of the vraja gopīs. What is Śrīvāsa Aṅgana? It is internally the exact same thing. Śrī Caitanya embodies the mood of Radha’s love for Krishna brought to its height by music (kīrtana) and dance accompanied by Śrī Caitanya’s associates, who internally imbibe the same mood. One can see how difficult it would be to emulate the mood of Radha and Krishna in the rasa dance without filtering that experience through our mundane conceptions, but how easily that same mood is more understandable and can be emulated in its contemporary form of kīrtana and ecstatic dance as inaugurated in Śrīvāsa Aṅgana.

 

Reflection: How wonderful is it that by the mercy of Śrīla Prabhupāda that same divine love, made accessible by saṅkīrtana, inaugurated by Śrī Caitanya, is happening just as he predicted in “Every town and village”!

 

 

 


[1] Caitanya-bhāgavata Antya-khaṇḍa 4.126

[2] “Deplorables” has become a derogatory expression for white, uneducated working people, usually from middle America, after its use in the last election to describe those types of people who voted for Donald Trump.

[3] Gaura-lila is the Bengali for Śrī Caitanya’s pastimes.

 

 

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