by Rukmini Walker
Behold! We are not an earthly, but a heavenly plant! -Plato
For those of you who were not able to join us at last month’s Urban Devi Nature Retreat in Upstate New York, I thought to share the workshop I presented there, but in a few installments.
Wisdom books of the Bhakti tradition explain that the rare heirloom seeds of Bhakti, or devotional service are handed down by the combined grace of God, Krsna, and the holy sadhus or gurus on the path.
The metaphor then grows – our tender beginning Bhakti is compared to a tiny new creeper, a vine that needs to lean in on something. It leans in on that original tree of life, Sri Krsna. The original vine that lovingly winds around it is Sri Radha, the sacred feminine. She is the origin of Bhakti Devi, the goddess of devotion. On that sacred vine that leans in and wraps herself around the tree of life, our tiny vine can also grow to assist her and one day bloom with fragrant flowers and delicious fruits of loving exchanges in relationships of service (rasa) to the all attractive Sri Krsna and Sri Radha.
But Who is the original gardener Who will grow and distribute the succulent fruits of this creeper of love and devotion?
This gardener is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined form of Sri Krsna and Sri Radha. God is one, but in order to enjoy pleasure pastimes, He has eternally separated Himself into two as Radha and Krsna. Then, in order to try to understand the love of Sri Radha for Krsna, He has again become one as Sri Caitanya – overwhelmed with the loving mood and golden complexion of Sri Radha for Krsna.
Caitanya Caritamrita explains:
“Lord Caitanya (the combined form of Radha and Krsna) brought the wish-fulfilling tree of Bhakti, devotional service, to the earth and became its gardener. He sowed the seed and sprinkled upon it the water of His will. The fruits ripened and became sweet and nectarean. The gardener, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, distributed them without asking any price. All the wealth in the three worlds (upper, middle and lower planets) cannot equal the value of one such nectarean fruit of devotional service. The transcendental gardener, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, distributed handful after handful of fruit in all directions, and when the poor hungry people ate the fruit, the gardener smiled with great pleasure, and said: ‘I am only one gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute? It would certainly be a laborious task to pick the fruits and distribute them alone, and still I suspect the some would receive them and others would not. I am merely a gardener. I have neither a kingdom nor very great riches. I simply have some fruits and flowers…’ The fruit of love of God is so tasteful that wherever a devotee distributes it, those who relish the fruit, anywhere in the world, immediately become intoxicated.”
(Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi Lila, Ch. 9)
(To be continued…)