seeing through the eyes of scriptures
my dear Vaisnava friends
Today is eight waxing moon circle day of ‘Bhadra’, the name of a Vedic month we, members of the Gaudiya Vaisnava community should feel fortunate to have this opportunity to observe the appearance day of the pleasure potency of Sri Krishna, Sri Vrishavanu Nandini, Srimati Radha Thakurani (Daughter of Vrishavanu Maharaj). Radharani is our main Acharya; who is teaching us how to please Krishna. She is non-different from Krishna and appeared here with us from the left side of Sri Krishna. We can see from scripture that after long prayers, towards Kattyayani Devi (Gouri Mata, consort of Lord Shiva) Vrishavanu Maharaj and Kirtida Devi (mother of Radharani) were given Radharani.
Also we know from scripture that Radha appeared with her eyes closed and would not accept any food from any one; even mother Kirtida devi could not feed her breast milk. Therefore, Kirtida devi was lamenting in the name of Kattyayani devi that after our long prayers you gave me the child but my child has become blind and not able to eat anything. How is my child to survive. There is some history behind this, it follows:
In Golden age there was a Brahmin, named Sutapa. Sutapa once started to do meditation with the purpose of getting Lord’s consort as his consort. Naturally, the Lord was not agreeable with the prayer of Sutapa. But the Supreme Lord’s nature is to bestow affection to all His devotees. Out of the nature of affection once the Lord accepted the prayers of the Sutapa. After the incident, the Lord explained His promise to Sutapa to His consort. Although His consort was not feeling happy inside, in order to honor the Lord’s promise, she accepted with two conditions – one was that after her appearance the first food she will take is the Lord’s remnants and another one was that the first vision she would have is of the Lord’s beautiful face. Therefore, Radharani appeared with closed eyes and not eating anything from anyone. Gradually the message came to Gokul, the place of Nanda Maharaj (father of Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna). Nanda Maharaj and Vrishavanu Maharaj were friends. Therefore, out of curiosity to see such a child Nanda Maharaj came with Yasoda Devi and little Krishna at Ravel (a place, where Radharani appeared). While Vrishavanu Maharaj and Kirtida Devi was describing their child’s present condition at the same time Mother Yasoda Devi was holding Krishna in her arms very tightly. But Krishna wanted to fulfill the conditions that Radha wanted . So little Krishna saw a nice garland made of pearls on the neck of His mother, Yosoda Devi. In order to meet with little Radharani, Krishna ripped the garlands and Yasoda took Krishna out of her arms and started to collect all the pearls on the floor with the help of everyone. At that time, Krishna went to meet with Radharani; as soon as Krishna came He kissed Radharani then immediately Radharani open her eyes. When everyone saw that Kirshna was with the little girl Radharani; they were thinking that Krishna’s naughty nature could create lots of harm for Radharani. In order to protect Radharani, Yasoda ran towards Krishna then she became surprised and started to say, Kirtida! you said your daughter was blind with closed eyes but now I see that your daughter has very nice and attractive eyes. Then everyone came to see the same and all present persons became very happy. After the incident Krishna wanted to fulfill her second condition to give his remnants to Radharani.
Therefore Krishna was showing all of them He is hungry and started to nag mother Yasoda for giving Him some butter. Mother Yasoda gave little butter to Krishna and jokingly said that your little sister, Radha not eating since she appeared here on the earth. She is feeling hungry too. Please share the butter with her. Immediately Krishna replied ‘no’ with His body language. On this issue all the surrounding members started to joke with Krishna. Then Krishna kept a little piece of butter on top of His tongue and said if you want me to share with Radha then please collect the butter from my tongue and give it to her. Then they did so and immediately Radha started to chew the butter and everyone become ecstatically happy.
Comment : However many Gaudiya maths do not fast on Radhastami , and it is bewildering because I have been clearly informed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada did Nirjala fasting for Srimati Radharani untill the next day .Srila Prabhupada introduced half day fasting , I recall in ISKCON having cooked a feast on bookdistribution in Sweden for 10 devotees in early 1980th sometimes and devotees where distributing Srila Prabhupadas books and then came at 1 pm and I had cooked and offered a huge feast for Radha Krsna and Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada .Other times I recall in ISKCON we fasted half day and then took ekadasi prasadam , Srila Prabhuapda for sure established that it is a half day fast . Padma Purana fills my eyes with tears: Veda sastra anurakta ye tulasi vana palakah ,Radhastami vrata rata, vijneyas ce ta vaisnavah,Sri Krsna purato ye ca dipam ,Yacchanti Sraddhaya para nindam na kurvanti vijneyas te ca vaisnavah this sloka is from Padma Purana ,Brahma Khanda 1.31.32 The translation is: Those who are attached to studying Vedic litteratures ,those who protect Tulsi forests .those who fast on Radhastami day ,those who offer a lamp to Krsna with good faith and those who do not critizise others are understood to be vaisnavas.
This is the statement by Srila Vyasadeva in the Padma Purana ,In Vrindavana some vaisnavas fast on Radhastami as well .Fully.Padma Purana also states : ekadasyam sahasrena yat phalam labhate narah Radha janma astami punyam tasmat satagu nadhikam :whatever result one can attain by fasting on 1000 ekadasis one hundred times greater results can be attained by fasting on Radhastami and Janmastami days Brahma Khanda of Padma Purana 7.8
I was reading Satsvarupa Maharaja memories of Srila Prabhupada :I can remember Srila Prabhupada speaking about Srimati Radharani in the summer of 1966 at 26 Second Ave. in New York City.
I always remember Prabhupada on Radhastami because I received first initiation from Prabhupada on this day, September 23rd, 1966. Prabhupada’s qualifications for initiation were very easy in those days and so I could have been initiated at the first initiation in ISKCON which was on Janmastami day 1966. But I didn’t feel ready for the surrender of my so-called free activities. It seemed too much to give up and so I passed up the initiation.
But a few days after that I began to regret that I didn’t get initiated. Then I heard from one of the devotees that Prabhupada was planning to hold another initiation in two weeks on the occasion of the appearance day of Srimati Radharani. So then Prabhupada began to explain to us something about Srimati Radharani.
He said that on Janmastami we had to fast all day until midnight because Krishna is very strong and hard. But on Radhastami we would only have to fast until noon because Radharani is soft and kind.
I therefore decided that I would ask Prabhupada if I could get initiated on Radharani’s appearance day. What had seemed too hard two weeks previously on Krishna’s birthday now seemed easier under the protection of Srimati Radharani.
So for most devotees in ISKCON they will want to follow Srila Prabhupadas standard of half day fasting . However I want to say because it is the statement of Sastra to fast on Radhastami therefore I will fast and I am teaching it to my son also ,fasting on till evening time and just taking some water and maybe some pure fruit juices in his case as he is going to school and I do not want him to suffer ,then we will take ekadasi prasadam in the evening .Srimati Radharani is not eating ,then how can I eat ? She was fasting and not opening Her lotuseyes untill Krsna kissed Her. Krsna was only 8 days older in this pastime ,so wether Krsna went there on His own or with the help of His parents Nanda and Yasoda is a detail .But Sri Radha fasted for Krsna so I will fast along with Srimati Radharani .When Padma Purana states : kadasyam sahasrena yat phalam labhate narah Radha janma astami punyam tasmat satagu nadhikam :whatever result one can attain by fasting on 1000 ekadasis one hundred times greater results can be attained by fasting on Radhastami and Janmastami days Brahma Khanda of Padma Purana 7.8 It means fasting has to be done ,but the neophytes will find some excuses to satisfie the tongue .That is not bhakti.
"One who can control the forces of speech, mind, anger, belly, tongue and genitals is known as a gosvāmī and is competent to accept disciples all over the world."
My Gurudeva used to say I have not come to create disciples but to create Gurus , we must set the proper standard .Srila Narayana Maharajas standard was Srimati Radharani is merciful so no fasting . However Srila Prabhupada said half day fasting , so minimum that is followed by Prabhupadanugas .My mood is Srimati Radharani is fasting and so I will fast because She is doing so and sastra says so .At least I will observe Radhastami as an ekadasi fasting ,braking with Anukalpa prasadam ,ekadasi style prasadam.I will chant 128 rounds and I will absorbe myself in the worship of Srimati Radharani and chant Her 1000 holy names and I will read many prayers offered to Her by our Acaryas like in Stavavali and Stavamala I will read Radha Rasa Suddha Nidhi and sing bhajans for Sri Radha .
In Vrindavan a beautiful Bhajan is often song to glorify the holy name of Sri Radha you can find it sung by Sudarshana Prabhu http://bvml.org/bhajans/index.htmlSong Name: Radha Nama Parama Sukhadai