A Canal of Mercy
Dina Bandhu Prabhu spoke about a wonderful meeting, the first meeting, the so-called first meeting between Nityananda Prabhu and Caitanya Mahaprabhu. “So-called first meeting” because if Nityananda Prabhu is none other than Lord Balaram and if Caitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than Lord Krishna, then of course they have already met before. And they are meeting again, after a long time.
It is an intense meeting. A very significant one. It is said that to understand Caitanya Mahaprabhu one needs the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, and to understand Nityananda Prabhu one needs the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It sounds like a vicious circle. My skeptical mind asks, “Where do we start?”
There is a simple enough answer. We start by getting the mercy of our guru, who represents Nityananda Prabhu, who is his form, his manifestation. Srila Prabhupada, who has brought the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu to all of us, sometimes would explain one song about Nityananda Prabhu, that describes how he spread the sankirtan movement. There is an interesting analogy made. In the song it is said that Nityananda Prabhu digs a canal to every door and it reminds us of him being Balaram.
Balaram once took the fancy of having pastimes with Yamuna. He called upon her, but Yamuna could detect that Balaram was intoxicated. Of course, Balaram is always intoxicated with Krishna prema as the adi-guru—it is his rightful position to be intoxicated in this way—but this particular time he was apparently especially intoxicated, having taken a certain intoxicating drink known as Varuni.
In this condition, with his reddish eyes rolling and so on, Yamuna-devi refused to come. And what did Balaram do in response to her refusal? He took his plow. And with his plow he did something somewhat violent. He dragged Yamuna to where he was. That dragging Yamuna was also cutting a canal. Sometimes you see farmers preparing their fields for planting rice. And they really know what they are doing, how to control the water flow. They shuttle water from one field to another. This is not making canals exactly, but it is related, it is directing water.
And what is water? Water is nourishment and Nityananda Prabhu is cutting a canal of mercy, he is arranging for the flow of mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to each and every door. He is making a lot of canals by going door to door together with Haridas Thakur on the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
—From a lecture by Krishna Kshetra Swami on Nityananda Trayodashi, February 2019, Vrindavan.
The Healing Balm
The departure of a Vaisnava, especially a sudden departure, creates a sense of disbelief and a kind of disorientation. We hear from our sastra and from our acaryas about the reality of spirituality, that we are eternal beings who are here only for a short time, that we are just passing through.
When someone who is close to us—who is a part of us—suddenly leaves, this is a big shock and it leaves a sense of emptiness, a big gap, a hole in the heart. Having this feeling of an empty place in the heart we ask ourselves what to do. And we wonder where is there any solace. Is time going to heal? Or is there something else to help in the process of healing, which is at the same time not erasing the memory but deepening it?
The essential healing balm or medicine is gratitude—our gratitude for having known the one who has left, our gratitude for the soul having shared their life with us in various ways that he or she did. That gratitude is the recognition that we have received an undeserved gift. And while we may feel some resentfulness that the gift that we have received has been taken away and this is not fair—that feeling can be there—but we want to purify that feeling in the knowledge that indeed life continues, that life has been going on, and will continue in whatever way Lord Krishna desires.
When dear ones leave we might appreciate the prayers of Devaki on the birth of Lord Krishna. This is Canto Ten, chapter 3, text 26: “O inaugurator of the material energy, this wonderful creation works under the control of powerful time, which is divided into seconds, minutes, hours and years. This element of time which extends for many millions of years is but another form of Lord Vishnu. For Your pastimes You act as the controller of time but You are the reservoir of all good fortune. Let me offer full surrender unto Your Lordship.”
Remembering the Lord as the reservoir of all good fortune we have the challenge to recognize the good fortune that we have had of the association of our dearest ones and the good fortune for them to move on in their own lives to wherever the Lord has determined for them to go in continuing their missions.
—From an address by Krishna Kshetra Swami on an online God-family gathering in honour and memory of H. G. Venkata Bhatta Das, January 30, 2021.