Disinfection by Deity Darshan - Part 5

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble pranams! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev! 

This is the concluding part of the previous offerings transcribing the class by HG Devakinandan prabhuji in Abu Dhabi on 16th Oct 2011 on Srimad Bhagavatam verse 6.1.6.31. In this offering, we shall see the pastime of Sakshi Gopal. 

7. Sakshi Gopal is in everyone's heart, in everyone's house: Maharaj very much liked the pastime of Sakshi Gopal. One elderly brahmana and a young brahmana went on a pilgrimage to Vrindavana. Throughout the yatra, the young brahmana served the elderly brahmana. At the end of the yatra, when they stood before the beautiful deity of Gopala, the elderly brahmana was thinking, "How nicely this boy has served me! I should do something to repay him by way of gratitude." So he told the young brahmana in front of the deity, "Today I am going to promise you that when I go back, I will give the hand of my daughter in marriage to you." Now the young brahmana said, "My dear sir, it is a very big thing to say. Please do not say it because then you have to honour it. It is not that I am madly running after your daughter. Frankly speaking, I do not even know your daughter or know that you have a daughter. But if you are promising before the deity that you will give her to me, then it is your duty to honour it." The old brahmana said in front of the deity as a witness, "I promise you that when we go back, you will marry my daughter." So the old brahmana went back and he called his sons and told them about the promise he had made. The son said, "Why are you so foolish that you could just send off your daughter to a poor brahmana. We can look for a better proposal for our sister." The father said that he may not have the wealth but he had the opulence of a devotee and that he must honour what he had promised. At that point, the other son said, "Let him come and ask for the hand. At that time you just say that you are not very sure and leave it to me. I will take care of the matter." So the young brahmana comes and asks for the hand of the girl to get married so that the promise can be fulfilled. The old brahmana said, "Actually I am not very sure. Did I tell you that? I don't remember saying that because I was a bit sick. Maybe I might have said it but not meant it." Now the young brahmana started becoming anxious not for himself but he said, "My dear sir, we spoke before the deity. Krishna sees everything. Please do not go back on your word and it is not good for your bhakti." At that time, the son of the brahmana took a stick and said, "We know why you have come. You nicely served our father thinking that you could get the hand of our sister and very smartly with sense gratification in your mind you pretended to be a devotee. Now get out of the house." Then they asked him for a witness for whatever his father had told. The young Brahmana said, "Gopala Himself heard his father promising and hence He is the witness." The atheistic sons laughed and said why don't the brahmana bring Gopala there as a witness. Then the young brahmana told the old Brahmana that, "I know you have been harassed. But you do not worry. I will bring the Lord here to bear witness." 

So he travelled all the way to Vrindavana and he took wonderful darshana of Gopala. He became silent and grave and he offered prayers to Gopala and with earnestness and innocence born of a devotee, he said, "Gopala, I am in trouble. The elderly brahmana is in trouble. You have to help us. You are the only witness. Only you can come and settle the matter." At that point in time, Gopala spoke. He said, "My dear son, it is very nice that you are asking Me to come. But I have never heard of a deity walking and never heard of a deity bearing witness for anything. I do not think it is possible." The young brahmana said, "My dear Lord, You are speaking to me. If it is possible that You can speak to me, it is definitely possible that You can come with me." Maharaj said that never in his mind, not even for an instant did the young brahmana ever think that the deity of Krishna was different from Krishna and therein lies the behaviour of a devotee. That simple-minded innocent faith in Krishna is what made the Lord talk. So Gopala agreed to come with the condition that He should be served a bhoga of 10 kg of cooked rice with ghee every day. The Brahmana agreed. Finally, at the end of the long walk back, the deity stopped right on the outskirts of the village. The brahmana turns and finds that Gopala has come and is fulfilling His vow. There the deity became silent and grave. The young Brahmana called everyone to come and they saw that the Lord had walked all the way just to bear witness and their hearts became cleansed because they took darshan and the old brahmana's sons who were atheists their hearts were disinfected such that they became devotees. Because the deity came to bear witness, today the deity is known as Sakshi Gopala. 

Maharaj said this pastime is so significant because in everyone's heart, in everyone's house Sakshi Gopala is there. We may call every deity by a different name but every time He is Sakshi. He is always witnessing. We are not seeing Him but He is seeing us. We do not see Him because we are not interested in devotional service but if we become interested to take darshan of Him and to follow the orders of our spiritual master in worshiping Him if we absorb the mood of the devotees and become very submissive to Krishna and the devotees, then we become silent, we become grave despite all reversals in our life and because in that silence and gravity the material desires vanish and there is disinfection. Therefore the disease of material life will not touch us anymore. 

8. Attitude of approaching the deities: There are two words in the verse 6.16.31 which Maharaj emphasized. One is the word pravṛddha-bhaktyā- "with an attitude of increased devotional service". The attitude we must have when we approach Krishna is always to pray, "Krishna please somehow or the other increase the quality of my devotional service." That is the attitude by which we must approach the deities. 

When we become silent, the word muniḥ is very nice. Srila Prabhupada writes in the word to word equivalent that muniḥ means, "the king who became silent due to full mental satisfaction." Maharaj said when we have darshan of deities with an increased attitude of devotional service our mind (which is normally mental and which makes us mad) becomes satisfied. The secret to mental satisfaction is found in tad tad-darśanaat and this tad darshanam is what will really save us in this terrible world of Kali

9. Deity worship should not be degraded into a ritual: This devotional service is a treasure. Everything else will die. Only devotional service will go with us. From today we will make a solemn promise to Krishna that whenever we see Him, we should always be remembering that our main business in devotional service is to glorify Him and not ourselves and to be loving in our relationship with each other and serve each other. The moment the slightest contamination comes on account of our ego, pride, and immaturity, then Jagannath is no longer here. He will take a walk and Maharaj says, "when He walks, He really walks. What you will have is only wood and brass but deity has taken a walk. So do not come to that position. Deity worship should never be degraded into a ritual." It should never become a performance. We must always remember, just like Bhagavatam should not be a ritual, just like Bhagavatam should not become a big performance, so too our worship of deity must always be on the platform of loving devotional service. 

Our heartfelt thanks to HG Devakinandan prabhuji for this enlightening lecture and we pray that every time we come before the deities we remember these valuable instructions and get disinfected by the deity darshan.

Thank you very much. 
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev, 
Vaijayantimala devi dasi,
Abu Dhabi.