Radhastami in Dubai
17 September 2010

September 15 was Radha’s appearance

which I spent in the good company of the devotees of  Damodara-desh. Also that of my Mayapur-vasi compatriot, Sriman Atul Krsna prabhu, who arrived late in the night on the 14th.

Atul is in charge of the Mayapur Institute (for higher education and training) and is here to teach the Bhakti-sastri course for the next three weeks.

After a half day fast and an easy afternoon, we de-camped to a local hall at about 8.00PM that the devotees hire for their larger programs.

Its 3 stories and we were on the top floor. The hall soon filled up with about 250 devotees.

The program was simple but ecstatic. A beautiful mural was constructed depicting Radha and Krsna on a boat using the utsava murtis from our flat.

Small brass Deities were prepared for an abhisek

and Srivallabha prabhu lead everyone in singing several songs about the glories of Srimati Radharani.

After that Atul Krsna prabhu spoke very sweetly and succinctly about the transcendental nature of Srimati Radharani, and then finally I was asked to speak.

I chose to introduce my talk with one of my favorite verses:

radha-sammukha-samsaktim sakhi-sanga-nivasinim

tvam aham satatam vande madhavasraya-vigraham

“O spiritual master (Srila Prabhupada), I continually offer my obeisances unto you, who are always in the presence of Srimati Radharani and very much devoted to Her. You always reside in the association of Her confidantes, the gopis, and you are the loving abode of loving devotion to Krsna.”

It was a perfect lead into my narration of Srila Prabhupada’s pastimes on Radhastami day when I was travelling with him in 1976, and other things Srila Prabhupada said at different times during my tenure as his servant, particularly about Srimati Radharani’s culinary artistic expertise:

September 1st, 1976  New Delhi

Today is Radhastami. Srila Prabhupada observed the half-day fast along with the rest of us.

* * *

During the walk we noticed some men gathered around a roadside food stall eating bhel puris. Srila Prabhupada explained that the small, golf ball-sized snacks are filled with dal and are especially offered to Radha-Vallabha.

A new English devotee, Bhakta Robin, expressed his appreciation of Srila Prabhupada’s knowledge of cooking.

Prabhupada replied that right from his childhood, if somebody was preparing food, he would want to see how it was done.

Bhakta Robin observed that in India, it seems that most people can cook something, but in the West people are now practically helpless. “They buy everything it seems in packets, and you would not know how to prepare any food as much as just to cut the packet and pour it out, and even then they don’t even know how to put water into the pan.”

Prabhupada agreed with him. “They do not know how to eat on the whole. India knows how to eat. I have traveled all over the world, and this is my experience. Nobody knows how to eat. Only India. In every province they have got different dishes. Because the woman, they are trained up how to cook very nice. Woman is meant for that purpose, how to make nice palatable dishes. In Bengal there is a ceremony after marriage, bahu-bhata. The newly-married girl, she shall cook, and all the relatives, friends, are invited and they appreciate, ‘Yes, nice cook.’ Then she is accepted as member of the whole family.”

“And if not, Prabhupada?” Robin asked. “If her cooking is not…”

“Therefore she is trained up.”

“And if she’s not trained up?”

“She must be trained up,” Prabhupada replied, his tone indicating that there was no possibility of it being otherwise. “Just like Radharani, She was trained up in sixty-four arts. Do you think to captivate Krsna is easy thing? How much qualified She must have been so that Krsna was attracted.”

———————————————-

July 31 1976 New Mayapur France

(a meeting about the Gurukula)

Having found the verses, Harikesa read out 7.12.1 describing the principles of brahmacari life. Prabhupada then said that the boys and girls should therefore be separated, in order to learn how to control their senses. With a laugh he repeated Sarasvati, Syamasundara and Malati’s daughter, who once said, ‘We have no sex with women.’ “So, innocent, she does not know. That is, if they are kept separate, they remain innocent.”

He said girls should learn how to be faithful to their husbands and like Radharani they should learn the sixty-four arts, such as cooking and painting. “Then She could control Krsna.”

Bhagavan asked if the boys should learn to cook.

“Huh? I never said that,” Prabhupada said. “Why you are bringing that question? I said the girls should be. Cooking is not boy’s business. But cooking is not a very difficult art. If they want, the boys can do. There are so many, in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu it is stated, how Radharani was qualified. So these things should be taught to the girls. If the girls are taught to give service to the husband to the greatest satisfaction, there will be no disagreement.”

Another nice story that Prabhupada once told us but I didn’t get a chance to tell on the night is worth repeating here:
September 13 1976 – Vrndavana

“Perhaps you know that once upon a time Rupa Gosvami desired that ‘If I would get some nice foodstuff, I would have invited Sanatana Gosvami and cook some nice food.’ He desired like that. They were living in Vrndavana, here and there, under the shade of a tree. They had no stock, nothing. So one very beautiful girl came and offered rice, dal, ghee. She said, ‘Baba, we have got some festival.’ In this country they address saintly person as Baba. So she offered so many things, and he immediately invited Sanatana Gosvami — they were living separately. And Rupa Gosvami was very good cook also, so he prepared very nice preparation and offered to Sanatana Gosvami prasadam. So Sanatana Gosvami astonishingly inquired that ‘Where you got all these nice things in this forest?’ So he told the whole story, that ‘In the morning I desired, and in just a few hours time, little time, one very beautiful girl came and offered this ingredients.’

So after hearing the description of the beautiful girl, Sanatana Gosvami could understand that she was Radharani. So immediately he chastised Rupa Gosvami, that ‘You have taken service from Radharani. This is not good. We are trying to give service to Radharani, and you have taken service from Radharani.’
“So this is Vaisnava consideration. They are firmly determined not to bother Krsna with anything. Simply to serve Him. Anukulyena krsnanusilanam. Similarly, Krsna also finds opportunity when to serve His devotee. This is the reciprocation. The devotee wants to serve Krsna without any return, and Krsna also wants to serve devotee whenever there is opportunity. This is the transaction of love: not to take anything return.”
Yet although the Pandavas were such brilliant examples of surrender to Krsna, Prabhupada went on to tell us that here in Vrndavana there were devotees whose devotion went even beyond theirs. “The topmost surrendered devotees are the gopis. There is no more higher exalted devotees than the gopis. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommended that the gopis, ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena ya kalpita. There is no better type of worshiping Krsna than the method by which gopis worship Krsna. Their love was so intense that they did not care for any family, any honor, or any prestige — nothing. That is the highest, topmost loving stage of Krsna. And Krsna also loved the gopis, so much so that Krsna asked them that ‘You cannot expect any return from Me for your ecstatic love. I cannot give you. It is beyond My power.’ So they purchased Krsna. And the topmost gopi is Radharani. So we should not consider these gopis’ dealings with Krsna as ordinary material dealings.”

Our meeting culminated in a very lively kirtana and arati, followed by a simple feast in honor of Srimati Radharani.




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