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All glories to Shri Chaitanya! All glories to Sitanatha! All glories to Nityananda, along with all the devotees!
Now listen to the story of Brahma Haridasa, which I will describe in brief. Lord Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead performed His pastimes in the mood of a cowherd boy in Shri Vrindavana-dhama. While tending the cows one day, Shri Nanda-nandana ate the remnants of one of the other cowherd boys. When four-headed Brahma saw this, he thought, “This boy cannot be the source of creation! His behavior is just like that of an ordinary boy. If He were the Lord, how could He engage in such degraded activities?”
Thinking in this way, Lord Brahma meditated and with divine vision saw Krishnacandra in His abode of Vrindavana. When he saw that Krishna was again eating some remnants, he thought, “This is not Krishna, it is someone else.” Lord Brahma was thus bewildered by Krishna's illusory energy, and he stole away the cowherd boys and calves. Understanding what Brahma had done, Krishna, the original Narayana, performed a wonderful pastime that astonished even Balarama.
Expanding His internal potency, Krishna took the exact form of the cowherd boys and calves. He then continued His pastimes as before. Those pastimes, which are inconceivable to the yogis, continued for the next one year. After one year, Lord Brahma returned and was astonished to see Krishna engaged in tending the cows as before. Brahma thought, “Where did He get these calves and boys? They are still there where I kept them.”
With eyes of knowledge Brahma then saw that Krishna had taken the form of the calves and cowherd boys. Brahma thought to himself, “I am a fool for not recognizing Krishna. By stealing the calves and cowherd boys I have committed a great sin. I will pray to be forgiven.”
Thinking in this way, Lord Brahma approached Krishna. In order to teach Brahma the truth about Himself, Krishna manifested a spiritual city there. He sat on a divine throne and mentally called innumerable Brahmas, Vishnus, and Shivas there. Ananta Shesha, the associate of Maha-Vishnu, also came, and they all took shelter at Krishna's lotus feet.
When the four-headed Brahma arrived at the door, he saw it was guarded by an eight-headed Brahma. Seeing the four-headed Brahma, the eight-headed Brahma smiled and inquired, “Please tell me who you are and where you want to go.”
The four-headed Brahma replied, “I am known as Brahma, and I want to see Krishna in His form as a cowherd boy.”
The eight-headed Brahma laughed loudly and said, “I have never heard that there was a four-headed Brahma. Till now I thought I was the smallest Brahma in Narayana's creation.”
On hearing this, the four-headed Brahma was astonished and thought, “I never imagined there was an eight-headed Brahma.” His face dried up, he folded his hands and requested, “Please be merciful and let me see Krishna.”
The eight-headed Brahma replied, “I am an insignificant Brahma. There are other more powerful Brahmas guarding the many other doors. You are requesting me to let you in, but without Krishna's permission, who can allow you in? Since brahmanas are not prohibited entry into Krishna's inner palace, you may wait here while I get permission.”
While the eight-headed Brahma was speaking, Ananta Shesha, who always glorifies Krishna, arrived there. Seeing Ananta's transcendental form, the lotus-born Lord Brahma offered his obeisances and took the dust from His feet.
Shri Anantadeva inquired, “Who are you?”
Brahma replied, “I am the four-headed Brahma. I am here to see Lord Krishna. Please cast Your merciful glance on me and take me to Krishna.”
Shri Anantadeva inquired, “Please tell Me exactly who you are. There are so many four-headed Brahmas.”
Brahma then thought, “How amazing it is that there are innumerable Brahmas! How can an insignificant being like me know the glories of Krishna? Now what kind of introduction can I give to save myself from this embarrassment?” Thinking in this way, Brahma fainted.
By the mercy of Krishna, Brahma regained consciousness and said, “The four Kumaras, headed by Sanat, are my sons.”
Shri Anantadeva said, “Now I understand who you are. I have seen your sons in Goloka dressed as perfect yogis.”
Brahma thought, “I am most fortunate! By unlimited pious activities I have such wonderful sons. Actually these sages were born from me like the moon is born from the ocean. Now by the inconceivable potency of Krishna's devotees I have now become free from shame, which is equal to death.”
Then Brahma folded his hands and said, “Please be merciful and show me the rare moonlike face of the Lord.”
Shri Anantadeva said, “Without the Lord's permission, who is able to go to the site of Krishna's pastimes?”
After saying this, Shri Anantadeva went to Govinda and said, “The father of Sanat-kumara is at the door waiting to see You.”
Shri Govinda replied, “Bring him here. He is the engineer of this small universe.”
Shri Anantadeva thought, “The father of Krishna's devotee is certainly fortunate. That is why Brahma is respected.”
Shri Anantadeva rushed back and took Brahma to the second door. On seeing the four-headed Brahma, the sixteen-headed Brahma there inquired, “Who is this?”
Sankarshana replied, “He is a Brahma.”
In this way the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, had many hundreds of Brahmas guarding the many hundreds of doors. As they proceeded on, the Brahmas had progressively more and more heads.
“There is no end to Narayana's creation. He has so many assistants who are superior to me.” Conversing in this way, they passed through many doors until they arrived at Govinda's transcendental assembly hall. In that hall Brahma saw countless Brahmas, Shivas, Ganeshas, and Vishnus. He saw thousands of devarshis, Gandharvas, Indras, Karttikeyas, and associates of Ananta. Who could count the millions of Candras and Suryas? The personified Vedas were engaged there in offering prayers.
The superexcellent effulgence of Krishna's body derided the radiance of millions of suns. As the lotus is not seen in the sunshine, His body, colored like a fresh black cloud, was invisible, being covered by His effulgence. That effulgence could not be compared with the shining of millions of mountains of emeralds.
Krishna's supreme pleasure potency was standing on His left side. Her transcendental effulgence pervades the three worlds. Radharani's bodily effulgence defeated the effulgence of the moon, which shines like hundreds of millions of golden lotuses. Indeed, Radha's effulgence intoxicates the mind of Krishna. The brilliance of Radha's body derides that of hundreds of mountains of gorocana.
Relishing loving exchanges as they engaged in Radha-Krisna's service, Lalita and the other sakhis were standing on all sides. Seeing that assembly, the four-headed Brahma trembled. Still, he could not see Radha-Krishna; he could see only Their effulgence.
The grandfather of the universe prayed to Shri Anantadeva, “Where is Govinda? Please show Him to me.”
Shri Anantadeva replied, “You are unable to see Him due to your serious offense of stealing the calves.”
Hearing Shri Ananta's statement, Brahma admitted his guilt and then prayed to Krishna with tears in his eyes. Lord Madhava is very kind to His devotees. He is an ocean of mercy. He was pleased to hear Brahma's prayers, so He revealed His eternal form to Brahma and said, “You are excused of the offense of stealing the cows. You will be born in Kali-yuga in a family of Yavanas, and by seeing Shri Krishna Chaitanya you will be delivered.”
Brahma was astonished to see Krishna's form and overwhelmed with an ocean of ecstatic love on hearing His order. After Brahma offered repeated obeisances to Radha-Shyama, he received Krishna's permission and returned to his abode.
On seeing the advent of Kali-yuga, Brahma took birth on earth in the year 1450 in the village of Budana. Some people say that Prahlada Maharaja descended as Haridasa, but Advaita Prabhu said that they both combined together. The main purpose of his appearance was to deliver the living entities. Although he was famous for being born a Yavana, he was not tinged with even a trace of impurity from that birth. While being brought up in the house of a Yavana, he lived on milk alone. Thus he grew day by day as the moon waxes.
Brahma Haridasa was born with memory of his previous life, so due to his previous habits he would constantly chant the holy names. He left home as a five-year-old boy and visited many places before finally arriving in Shantipura. Haridasa had long arms and an effulgent body, so Advaita, the reservoir of all knowledge, recognized him as the incarnation of Lord Brahma. Following social traditions, however, Advaita inquired from Haridasa, “Which caste have you taken birth in? What brought you here?”
Haridasa replied, “I am a lowborn mleccha. I have come to see Your lotus feet.”
Advaita Prabhu said, “Stay here. Study the scriptures and all your desires will be fulfilled.”
Haridasa said, “I am fortunate to obtain the association of an ocean of mercy. By Your loving dealings, my mind and heart feel relieved.”
Thus Haridasa stayed with Advaita Prabhu and carefully studied grammar and literature. He gradually became knowledgeable by studying subjects like philosophy, and he attained pure devotional service after studying the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Haridasa's glories are unlimited. He could remember anything by hearing it only once. His explanation on verses was like a jeweled necklace.
One day while sitting in a lonely place, Haridasa submissively inquired from Advaita Prabhu, “I have realized that You are an incarnation of the Lord. Other than You, who can deliver the fallen living entities?”
Hearing his humble words, Advaita replied, “Listen, My dear Haridasa. By the authoritative opinion of the scriptures I cannot say who is inferior or who is superior. But I consider one with saintly behavior to be the best person. If a mleccha is engaged in the eight kinds of bhakti, he is no longer considered a mleccha. Rather, he is accepted as a brahmana. Whoever worships Krishna is the best of mankind, and whoever is averse to Krishna is the lowest. Without attaining the mood of the gopis, one cannot attain the lotus feet of Krishna. Therefore by attaining that mood one achieves the greatest treasure.”
Haridasa said, “The inconceivable mood of the gopis is not attained by millions of lives of pious activities. Therefore, O Lord, please tell me a simple process for conquering maya and attaining Krishna.”
In reply, Advaita Prabhu said, “Nothing is unknown to you, yet still you accept Me as your instructor. You constantly chant the holy names in order to establish religious principles and deliver the living entities. All of the Supreme Lord's unlimited spiritual energies are invested in His holy names. One becomes free from the threefold miseries simply by a reflection of chanting of the holy names. Indeed, by chanting the holy names one is freed from the bondage of maya. The holy names of the Lord are like touchstone, as they are nondifferent from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. When one is fixed in chanting the holy names, pure love begins to awaken. And by continually chanting, one achieves the treasure of love of God. Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead, is the fruit of the desire tree of transcendental love. When the tree deeply rooted, the fruit becomes attainable. Even Krishna says that His name is superior to Himself. One is relieved of all offenses by chanting the holy names. Therefore it is best to chant the holy names, for all one's desires are fulfilled if he has a taste for chanting.
“One who does not accept instructions from a guru or Vaishnava will not achieve perfection in Krishna consciousness for millions of yugas. Vaishnavism is the perfection of all religious systems. Among such followers, one who does not identify with any ashrama is unlimitedly glorious. The sannyasi is symptomized by complete renunciation. He possesses the qualities of a brahmana, and he wears a kaupina and outer cloth. If someone develops such detachment for material life and attachment for Krishna's devotional service, then he is counted amongst those who are indifferent to external formalities. A person with such pure symptoms will certainly attain the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna.”
After instructing Haridasa in this way, Advaita had him shave his head and decorate his body with tilaka and tulasi beads. Advaita had Haridasa dress in kaupina and outer cloth, and then He initiated him in chanting the holy names. Haridasa then began chanting the holy names in a cave on the bank of the Ganges. As he became intoxicated with love of God, he became known as the crest jewel amongst the Vaishnavas.
Coming to his external consciousness, Haridasa offered his obeisances to Advaita, who blessed him by saying, “May you attain Krishna. Your name is Brahma Haridasa.”
Haridasa replied, “I am Your servant.”
Haridasa then accepted simple cloth and vowed to chant three hundred thousand names in a day. After finishing his vow of chanting, he would engage in preaching. People were amazed to see his transcendental activities.
Listen to the astonishing incident that took place one day as Haridasa was engaged in sankirtana. At that time the crest jewel of logicians came there and remarked, “This fellow must be a Baula.”
On hearing this, the great Pandita Krishnadasa said, “He is intoxicated with love of God and does not have the slightest feeling of material miseries. The transcendental goddess of learning, Sarasvati, resides on his tongue, therefore he incessantly chants the holy names. All the scriptures reside within his heart. By the order of his spiritual master, his name is Brahma Haridasa.”
Then the meaning of his name “Brahma Haridasa” was fulfilled as the logician proudly asked him a question. “It is said both that the Supreme Brahman has form and has no form. Who can say which is factually the beginningless cause of everything? Why does that Supreme Brahman create something that has such variety? Why are there different gradations in the living entities' happiness and distress? From this, it appears that there is some fault in the Supreme Lord's management.
Hearing this, Haridasa humbly replied in the following sweet words, “Though I am an insignificant living entity, I would like to say something in reply. Let Krishnadasa Pandita be the mediator. Kindly listen, O brahmana. The scriptures state that the Supreme Lord has a beginningless form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. His bodily effulgence is formless and all-pervading like the sun rays. The eternal form of the Supreme Brahman is unknown to the jnanis, therefore they accept the Lord's effulgence as the Supreme Brahman. But the fortunate devotees of the Lord are able to see His eternally perfect form, for the Lord is known by pure devotion, which is inaccessible to others. The scriptures state that just as the omnipotent Lord is eternal, His material creation is also. The eternally existing creation is sometimes manifest and sometimes unmanifest according to the direction of the Supreme Lord. I will briefly describe how the creation is wound up after the final devastation.
“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu relishes eternal bliss. He is the cause of all causes and the original being. The Vedas confirm that Maya creates the material world after being empowered by the Lord. Because Maya appears to act independently, the Vedas say that the Supreme Brahman is impersonal. The conditioned souls enjoy happiness and distress while wandering through various types of bodies according to their fruitive activities. There is, however, no fault of partiality in the Supreme Brahman because of this. Don't get angry, but consider the truth in this matter.”
Hearing Haridasa's conclusive statements, the brahmana was astonished. At that time, Advaita Prabhu arrived there and manifested an effulgence as brilliant as millions of suns. Seeing His effulgent body, the brahmana offered respects with folded hands. Advaita said, “O Mahashaya, why are you so humble before Me?”
The brahmana said, “O Lord, I have understood who You are.”
Advaita Prabhu said, “I am fallen and powerless.”
The brahmana said, “You are the Supreme Lord. You can deliver one from his sinful reactions.”
Out of compassion, the all-merciful Lord empowered him to chant the Krishna mantra. Then Shri Yadunandana offered his obeisances to the Lord, who blessed him to obtain the treasure of love of Godhead. Shri Yadunandana is one branch of Shri Advaita Prabhu's disciplic line. He became known everywhere as the crest jewel of logicians. He was equal to the Gandharvas in the musical science. By the mercy of Advaita Prabhu he attained the essence of Krishna consciousness.
Brahma Haridasa possesses transcendental potency. He obtained pure love of God by daily chanting three hundred thousand holy names of the Lord. He chanted sometimes in his mind, sometimes softly with his tongue, and sometimes loudly. After finishing his chanting, he would accept maha-prasada and relish hearing topics of Krishna from Advaita Prabhu.
One who always remembers Haridasa Thakura's transcendental activities certainly becomes fixed in Krishna consciousness. Brahma Haridasa is a reservoir of compassion. I offer millions of obeisances at his lotus feet.
Praying at the the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya and Shri Advaita, always desiring Their mercy, I, Ishana Nagara, narrate Shri Advaita Prakasha.