[March 6, 2020 is the disappearance day of Śrīla Mādhavendra Purīpāda, in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of a series of lectures on Śrī Mādhavendra Purī, given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja in Gurgaon in March, 2016. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
UNDERTAKING VOWS TO PLEASE THE LORD
Śrīla Mādhavendra Purīpāda took a vow to never ask anything from anyone, be it food, shelter, clothing or anything else. In addition, he vowed only to accept some milk, and that too only between sunrise and sunset; he was not inclined to accept anything more. This is known as ayācaka-vṛtti, in other words, accepting only that which comes of its own accord, without asking anyone.
He did not take these vows to impress others or to obtain name, fame or material benefit but solely for the purpose of engaging all his time in chanting the names of the Lord and remembering His pastimes. Vows like this are appropriate only for advanced devotees like Mādhavendra Purīpāda because they have already established a deep relationship with the Lord.
Once we went to Haridvāra for preaching. At that time, we heard of one sādhu who was famous for never asking for anything, only surviving on whatever came by itself. But upon approaching him, we noticed that he had a board in front of him saying, “If any devotees of the Lord wish to donate rice, dāl and so on, I will accept”.
Mādhavendra Purīpāda was not like this - he completely depended on the Lord and never advertised his vows to anyone.
WITH WHOM DOES THE LORD RECIPROCATE?
Śrī Kṛṣṇa promises in Bhagavad-gītā (9.22):
ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
ye janāḥ paryupāsate
yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
[For those who are devoid of other desires, who are always absorbed in contemplation of Me and who always worship Me, I personally carry their necessities and preserve what they presently have.]
Śrī Kṛṣṇa promises that He will take full responsibility for the maintenance of one who meditates exclusively on Him, constantly dovetailing his energy in serving Him alone. And just like a mother is always concerned about the welfare of her dependent children, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is always concerned for His surrendered devotees.
Once Mādhavendra Purīpāda was sitting near Govinda-kuṇḍa at Govardhana, deeply absorbed in chanting. It was nearing sunset and he had not received any milk that day, so he was fasting.
At that time, the Lord appeared in front of Mādhavendra Purīpāda disguised as an ordinary cowherd boy and asked, “Dusk is approaching and you have still not asked for food. Why haven’t you eaten anything?” Mādhavendra Purīpāda replied, “How do you know that I have not eaten anything or gone begging anywhere?”
The Lord said, “The women in My village informed Me that you have been sitting from morning to evening and have not requested a single thing to eat or drink". The Lord, disguised as a cowherd boy, said, "In My village no one fasts. That’s why I brought milk for you”.
Kṛṣṇa noticed Mādhavendra Purīpāda intently focused upon Him and paying close attention to His words. He understood Mādhavendra Purīpāda was wondering who He was. Worried that Mādhavendra Purīpāda might recognize Him, Kṛṣṇa abruptly excused Himself saying, “I am in a rush. Please keep the pot. I will come back for it”.
As soon as Mādhavendra Purī drank the milk, he felt astonished for he had never tasted milk like this before; the taste was not of this world. Furthermore, he was unable to forget that boy. He waited eagerly for the boy to return because the boy had given His word that He would. While waiting for the Him, Mādhavendra Purī fell asleep.
The boy appeared in his dream and said, “My name is Gopāla. I was installed by Vajranābha. Fearing the mlecchas and yavanas, My sevakas took Me from the top of Govardhana, hid Me in this kuñja and then escaped. I have been suffering from cold, heat and hunger since that time. I have been waiting for you since a long time, thinking, ‘kabe āsi’ mādhava āmā karibe sevana– When will Mādhavendra Purī come here to serve Me?’ I am requesting you to please remove Me from this place and serve Me”.
NĀMA IS NON-DIFFERENT FROM THE DEITY
The question may be raised: Why did the Lord appear to Mādhavendra Purīpāda as Gopāla? Up to that point, Mādhavendra Purīpāda had never engaged in serving the Deity form. This is because:
‘nāma’, ‘vigraha’, ‘svarūpa’—tinaeka-rūpa
tine ‘bheda’ nāhi,—tina ‘cid-ānanda-rūpa’
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya-līlā 17.131)
[The Lord’s holy name, His form and His personality are all one and the same. There is no difference between them. Since all of them are absolute, they are all transcendentally blissful.]
There is no difference between Bhagavān’s name and form.
BREAKING HIS VOW FOR THE LORD’S SERVICE, NOT FOR HIMSELF
Early the next morning Mādhavendra Purīpāda approached the villagers and explained that the Lord of their village was hidden in the jungle, buried beneath the groves, thus He was in need of their assistance to be removed. With their help, the Lord was recovered from the kuñja and placed on the top of Girirāja Govardhana. However, it was observed that the Lord was unable to stand without any support. Mādhavendra Purīpāda arranged for three big stones to support the Lord.
How is it possible? The same Lord, who walked to give milk to Mādhavendra Purīpāda and spoke directly with him, is now requesting assistance, demonstrating complete helplessness. The Lord who knows everyone’s heart, the cause of all causes, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is suddenly unable to stand without support in His Deity form! For the pleasure of His devotees, the Lord performs His pastimes as a Deity – devoid of independence and requiring assistance.
Mādhavendra Purīpāda performed annakūṭa for Gopāla daily for two years with the help of the nearby villagers but he did not accept any prasādam besides milk, and that too, only if someone offered it to him (without asking). He did not break his vow of taking only milk.
We see here that Mādhavendra Purīpāda disregarded his vow of not asking anything from anyone and requested the help of the villagers for the service of the Lord. But for himself, Mādhavendra Purīpāda retained his vow of not taking anything besides milk. [He broke his vow for the service of the Lord, but not for his own gratification.]
[I pray at the lotus feet of Mādhavendra Purīpāda today, remembering him and begging for a particle of his mercy.]