Sanctifying The Heart

by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja

[The following is an excerpt from the chapter "Sanctifying the Heart" in the book "A Taste of Transcendence" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj. In this chapter, Maharaj discusses the inner meaning of Krishna's divine pastimes during both Ratha Yatra festival and Janmastami.]

Tomorrow, Krsna will appear. He will appear in the shrine of our hearts. He is there within us and He will appear there. So, today, on this adhivasa tithi, we have to clear the heart and mind so that Krsna will come and sit there. Krsna does not take His seat in an impure, dirty place. Krsna is the Holiest. We have to prepare our hearts, purify our hearts. There should be no desire other than the service of Sri Krsna. If there should be any other desire, then that heart is impure. As long as impure thoughts are there, Krsna will not appear.

In Purusottama-dhama (Puri), during the time of the car festival (Ratha-yatra), Lord Jagannatha travels from His temple in Puri to the Gundica Temple, a distance of about two miles. Caitanya Mahaprabhu explains that the Gundica Temple is Vrndavana and the Jagannatha Temple is Kuruksetra. During a solar eclipse, people go to Kuruksetra to bathe and perform other rituals. In the scriptures, you will find descriptions of the immense glories of this practice. During the time of Krsna's pastimes on Earth, there was a solar eclipse where Krsna came from Dvaraka to Kuruksetra with all His personal associates. At that time, Krsna was the King, Emperor and Sole Proprietor of Dvaraka. All His subjects, consorts and personal associates were very eager to go to Kuruksetra during the solar eclipse so they could bathe, perform sandhya and other rituals. If they could perform these sacrifices with the brahmanas, they could get immense fruits. To fulfill this desire of His subjects, Krsna said, "All right, we shall go." So, all the numerous subjects, consorts and personal associates came to Kuruksetra. Krsna intentionally invited everyone except the Vrajavasis-the devotees of Vraja.

Narada Gosvami was very shocked by this. He approached Krsna, saying, "The Vrajavasis love You so much. They are experiencing extreme separation grief by not seeing You. You are inviting everyone in the whole world but You are not inviting the Vrajavasis? What offense are they guilty of? Have they committed an offense by loving You? I cannot tolerate this!" Then Krsna said, "They are our own people. No one has to send invitations to one's own. Parents do not invite their children, and vice versa. They are our own. Outside people are invited. How can I invite the Vrajavasis? You are right, I intentionally did not invite them because they are saturated with love for Me. They have no interest in performing sacrifices to obtain mundane benefits. If they come, the results of all these ritual practices will be destroyed. For this reason, I have not invited them."

Although not invited, the Vrajavasis came to learn that Krsna was coming to Kuruksetra. The Vrajavasis thought, "Kuruksetra is much closer to Vraja-mandala than Dvaraka is. We should avail ourselves of this rare opportunity to see Krsna! We can have darsana of Krsna! We should not miss this chance!"

But they could not venture to go there. Why? They thought, "Krsna has become the Emperor. His standard is very high, and we are merely cowherd men and women. We are poor people. Perhaps Krsna has forgotten us. If we go there, He will not recognize us. Someone of such a high position will not come to see ordinary people like us. Previously He was a cowherd boy in our Vraja-dhama, but now He has become King. But we are extremely grief-stricken. We cannot tolerate this separation."

Thinking like this, the Vrajavasis reasoned, "A man might forget everything else, but he will never forget his parents, even if they live far away. If Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda go there, then Krsna will bow down to them and make obeisances." So they went to Nanda Maharaja, saying, "Krsna is coming to Kuruksetra! We are too grief-stricken with separation grief. We have not seen Him for such a long time, but we do not have the courage to go there. We do not know if Krsna will give us the opportunity to see Him, as His present standard of living is so high. But, if His parents go there, then Krsna will come to them as their son and offer obeisances."

Then Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda said, "No, no. This is not correct. He has not come here for such a long time! He has so many consorts and servants serving Him there. He is so wealthy now. His wives are also wealthy. We are only cowherd men and women. We have nothing. After so long, how can we go? If we go there, will He come to see us? If we go to Kuruksetra and are deprived of seeing Krsna, we shall die!"

When Krsna, the Emperor of Dvaraka, entered Kuruksetra, so many cavalry units, elephants, horses, etc. accompanied Him. Only those who had permission were allowed to go to speak with Him. He was surrounded by servants. There were four gatekeepers, one in each direction. The King's parents, Vasudeva and Devaki were also there. The brahmanas had gone to start the sacrifices. So, no one was permitted to disturb the King.

Nanda Maharaja, Yasoda Devi and all the cowherd boys and other friends of Krsna approached where He was. Nobody acknowledged them. Armed forces, cavalry and elephants surrounded Krsna.

Nanda Maharaja approached one of the guards. "I have come to see my beloved son," he said.

"Who is your beloved son?" a guard asked him.


"How is that? You are a poor person. He is the King! His parents are already here-Vasudeva and Devaki. We do not believe you! From where have you come? Why are you claiming that He is your son? We do not believe you!"

Nanda Maharaja cried, "I shall die!"

The guard said, "I am doing my work as per the order of the King. If I do anything against His orders, I shall be dismissed. Do you have a permit?"


"Then I cannot let you in," the guard replied.

Then all the cowherd boys, carrying their small cow prods, cried, "My friend! My bosom friend! Kanhaiya!"

"What? He is the King! His friends are like this? You are paupers! I do not believe you!"

Then the gopis cried, "We are the consorts of Krsna!"

"What? The consorts are already here. Satyabhama, Rukmini and all the other queens are here! From where have you come? Show me some permit from the King or His Prime Minister!"

Then, Yasoda Devi said, "I told you that, if I go to Kuruksetra and I am deprived of seeing Krsna, I shall die! I have nothing left. My life is finished!" She cried loudly, "Gopala!" and fell unconscious.

At that time, Krsna was with the brahmanas, who requested Him to start the sacrifice. Krsna removed all His royal garments and became a small, naked boy, crying, "Mother! O Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" He cried and cried and cried and ran to sit on the lap of Yasoda Devi. Now, without Krsna's presence, all the ritual sacrifices were destroyed. By hearing one single call from Yasoda Devi, Krsna could not remain there.

Then Krsna met the gopis and the others. The gopis attracted Krsna. They said, "We are not very happy seeing You here. There are so many cavalrymen, elephants and chariots-we should go to Vrndavana. There, it is sweet. All this is Your majestic aspect. So, please allow us the opportunity to see You in better circumstances by coming with us to Vrndavana. Please do not remain here! "He Gopinatha! He Gopinatha! Vrndavane calo! He Gopinatha!"

In that mood of the gopis, saturated with gopi-bhava, Caitanya Mahaprabhu pulled the chariot from the Jagannatha Temple (Kuruksetra) toward Gundica (Vrndavana). During the chariot festival, Krsna, Baladeva and Subhadra make the trip in three chariots.

The day before the festival, Caitanya Mahaprabhu told the devotees, "You see, Krsna will come to the Gundica Temple tomorrow. You must come with Me and cleanse the temple." "Cleansing the temple" means that you must remove all the thorns and rubbish outside and trim the grass. You must clear the path of any stones and sweep away all the dust with a broom. But it also means that you are to engage your sense organs for the service of Krsna. If you do not engage your sense organs for Him, you will not get Him. For this reason, you have to clear your heart of all desire for the attainment of material benefits, both here and in the hereafter, in heaven. If such desire is there, Krsna will not come.

The desire for non-eternal benefits and emancipation, the desire to merge yourself in formless Brahman, the desire to merge yourself in Paramatma, these sorts of desires will deter you from going to Krsna. Krsna will not come to you. For this reason, you have to clear all of this away-these desires are like hard stones. Outside, you clear them away with brooms, and all the devotees bring earthen pots full of water to wash everything. After this, there should be no desire for name and fame and other such things. All of this should be totally removed. For this reason, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, with the help of His own uttri (the cloth that a sannyasi wears around his neck), scrubbed the inside of the temple. There should not be any kind of material desires within the heart, not even those hidden secretly. Then Krsna will come tomorrow.

Krsna is coming here from the Jagannatha Temple, and you have to clear these unwanted things away. This means that you have to clear your mind. There should be no other desire except desire for Krsna. Krsna is coming to Vrndavana. Krsna is the only Autocrat there. No other ideas, forces or persons should dominate your heart, except Krsna. So, you have to make your heart the same as Vrndavana, where Krsna is solely dominant. He is the Sole Proprietor. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, "I have made this mind Vrndavana, so that Krsna will be free-free to perform all His pastimes and sporting activities." You have to make your mind Vrndavana. No one else should be allowed to enter, and no other thoughts should be allowed.

(This lecture was originally delivered at the Calcutta branch of Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, the day before Janmastami in the year 2000).

[BVML Home Page] Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja Page

Srila Bhakti Ballabh
Tirtha Maharaja Page