(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 27 June 2014, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Srimad Bhagavatam 5.13.17)
In my travels, I visited a devotee’s house and he had quite an amazing altar. On his altar, he had deities of Radha Krsna which were from Vrindavan and 250 years old. In those days, there were a lot of details in the deities – they were very beautiful, they were very ecstatic. They were like in some sort of dancing pose but that was not everything. This devotee he had gone to India, and he had done some service in some of the places where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had performed his pastimes and some families in India, they still have some things that were used by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu directly.
He helped those families to clean these things and to make arrangements to preserve them better. As a result, they gave him little pieces; a piece of a the chadhaar of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a piece of a kaupina of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and a little chip off the shoes from Lord Caitanya which are in the temple in Dhameswara. In Navadvip, there is a temple and we know that when Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyas, he left his shoes for Visnupriya, his wife. She worshiped those shoes and those shoes are still there. The shoes are made of wood and they are in a silver casing. In order to preserve the shoes, they took them out of the silver casing and there were a few tiny pieces of the wood and this devotee got some of those. So he has all kinds of things like that – paraphernalia that were directly used by Caitanya Mahaprabhu and a piece of a turban of Lord Nityananda, directly Nityananda’s turban.
In Jaipur, there is a jacket of Madhu Pandit which made up of tulasi beads, it is very famous. This devotee has a little piece of it. This devotee has some shakti (power) to collect all these things. What an amazing amount of mercy is there on his altar! In this way, coming closer to Krsna. When we are eager to collect mercy, then we are eager in spiritual life. Everyone has some ability, some shakti – something that they can do. Some people distribute books. Some may say, ‘Ah, what will my seven books do?’ But it is not just about the seven books. We go out every day and because the books are distributed through personal contact, a person gets touched by that book and that is meaningful!
In the beginning of spiritual life, we get a little taste and then when we build it up more and more with service; and then Krsna, who is otherwise invisible to us, becomes more visible. If you make such an altar and you have so many holy places, Krsna becomes more manifest. So this is our business, to somehow or other, make arrangements through service – by serving Krsna to make him more manifest in our life then everything becomes meaningful! Otherwise it is difficult you know. Otherwise people look at us and think, ‘Look at them, they give up everything.’ Then we ourselves feel, ‘Look at ourselves. We are giving up everything.’ And all our focus is about giving up, then it is very difficult, how could we give up everything, for how long? But, if we are actually getting absorbed in serving Krsna and we discover more and more about Krsna, then everything gets quite amazing!
Also on this altar, this devotee had a deity of Lord Jagannatha, just Jagannatha. In Jagannatha Puri, they worshiped Lord Jagannatha in quite a special way – very elaborately! Lord Jagannatha is made of wood and in India there are termites which eat the wood. So anything made of wood is difficult to keep over the years as it just gets destroyed. So, deities of wood are more temporary than deities of stone, obviously. Therefore, there is a practice that approximately almost every nineteen years, a new deity of Jagannatha is carved which replaces the old deity and the old deity is put to rest in the ground by performing a ceremony. And what they do, is that inside Lord Jagannatha, in the region of the heart, somewhere in the trunk, there is a space, a hole, and inside there is what they call a brahma padartha. The brahma padartha is actually a salagram sila which is inside the deity. When the new deity is re-carved, the brahma padartha from the old deity is put inside the new deity.
So then this devotee had Jagannatha and inside there, was this Govardhana sila. So it was quite an altar. Not just some pictures of Krsna and everything is fine to offer something! No, everything was quite filled with special mercy and with special arrangements. That kind of effort is what makes the difference. When we do that then we live with Krsna. It is said in the Upadesamrta or The Nectar of Instruction, that the devotee must always live in Vrindavan by hearing, chanting, remembering and being constantly engaged! In that way, we are entering deeper into the spiritual realm until that becomes our reality and only then can we be peaceful in devotional service, when we live in the spiritual world!
As long as we live in the material world and are practicing a spiritual life, then it will be a struggle. But, we should try to live in a spiritual world and try to serve Krsna nicely there. Like the altar is the spiritual world, so when we serve on the altar, we are serving in the spiritual world. The Bhagavatam is Krsna and when we are reading the Bhagavatam then we are in the spiritual world. The name of Krsna is non-different from Krsna so when we chant the name then we are with Krsna. So, all these things are giving us access to the spiritual world. Sri Vrindavan Dham is the spiritual world. The essence is that we must somehow or other live in the spiritual world and then this Krsna consciousness will be blissful. Then our renunciation, our so called renunciation, will be no renunciation at all it is simply a means of staying free from material entanglement so that the material energy does not take too much of our time!