Lessons From Churning of Milk Ocean (Kumbhmela Nasik) by HH Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami at Nashik

I am very grateful for this rare opportunity to be with all of you at Kumbha mela in Nasik. Special gratitude to each and every one of you for making the efforts to be here for the first time. Special gratitude to His Grace Pankajanghri Prabhu for blessing the occasion. Special honors to His Holiness Lokanath Goswami Maharaj who has given a beautiful description of the histories according to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and our great Acharyas of the meaning of Kumbha Mela. The Absolute truth is the source of all pleasure. It is said in Brahma Sutra

ānanda-mayo ’bhyāsāt
- Vedānta-sūtra (1.1.12)

Everyone Is Looking For Nectar Or Pleasure:

That the absolute truth is the source of all pleasure and every living being, who is part and parcel of that absolute truth is seeking pleasure. Whatever species of life one may be in whatever planet in the universe, everyone is seeking happiness. According to how we have made choices in the past and the influences of the three modes of material nature that we have bound our self to. We have different conceptions of what is happiness. But everyone is looking for nectar or pleasure. Some see money as nectar, for others it’s fame or the pleasures of sex or music or power or even the prestige, one may get from renunciation. Everyone is looking for the nectar of happiness according to their state of consciousness. His Holiness Lokanath Maharaj described from the pages of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the story of the Suras and the Asuras, the worst of enemies’ two classes of living beings who have very opposite ways of the looking at lives. One are servants of God and others are enemies of God. Both sides extremely powerful and always competing over who has control over the universe. When the Asuras gained tremendous power by pleasing their guru and the Brahmans Sukracarya, they were able to defeat the devas because Indra had committed an aparadha to Brihaspati their guru, and a great Brahman. The devas were homeless and left with nothing and with all of their powers and all of their yogic siddhis and all of their influence, they were helpless.

Lord Vishnu’s instructions to Devas:

Queen Kuntī in her prayers to Krishna, she explained that the greatest disqualification for getting Krishna’s grace is attachment and the arrogance that comes from the attachments through wealth, beauty, high education and prestige. Krishna is ‘Akinchana Gocharam’ He is the property of those who really in their hearts believe that nothing is mine. The devas, each one is individual in his particular state of consciousness, but they wanted to enjoy, they wanted to serve, but everything was taken away. So they cried out to the Supreme Personality Of Godhead. Now lord Vishnu, he could have taken everything from the Asuras and gave it to the demigods but instead He gave them a plan. He gave them some tapasya to perform. He said now ‘you should not fight the demons make an alliance with them because you all want to enjoy nectar and neither one of you have the power to get it yourselves but together you can get’. You see Krishna can give us things but He gives us instructions and austerities because through that process we not only get the thing but our hearts, we have the opportunity to be transformed and surrender.

So it was told to the demons by the demigods ‘if we together churn the ocean of milk, nectar will arise. That nectar will give us the power to enjoy. It will give us such incredible strength and health and long, long life’. Everyone wanted it so for a higher principle they were willing to put aside their differences and serve together by churning the ocean of milk. Unfortunately that higher principle for many of them was to fulfill a higher selfish desire. And as His Holiness Lokanath Maharaj explained through the churning so many wonderful lilas of the Lord took place.

Lord Appeared In different Avataras During Churning Of Milk Ocean:

Kūrma, the great avatar of Lord Vishnu appeared to be the support for the churning of the ocean of milk. Ajita, incarnated to hold the mountain from the top. Sankara, Lord Siva, manifested the highest expression of service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead through his making personal sacrifice to show compassion to those who are suffering. And everyone was getting so many of their desires fulfilled. Airāvata, a great elephant was given to Indra. A beautiful horse was given to Bali. Lakshmi appeared. But lord Vishnu told them don’t be distracted by any of those things. Liquor was given to the demigods. Surabhi was given to the Brahmanas for their yagnas but you have to keep churning if you want the nectar. So many difficulties, so many challenges, setbacks and at each time they all had to helplessly call out to Vishnu to help. And finally Lord Narayana himself in the form of Dhanvantari emerged from the ocean of milk holding the pot, the kumbha of nectar. As long as they could exploit each other they were united. But as soon as the nectar came the demons stole it. The demigods had nothing after all that work. But the Asuras they were fighting among each other over who would have the honor of drinking it first. They were so arrogant and so envious that no asura would allow any other asura to drink it, so no one could drink it, as soon as somebody had it and said ‘I am the most learned among all of us someone would rip it away , I am the most powerful, I am the most wealthy, I am the most beautiful’. They all wanted it for themselves.

Appearence Of Mohinī-mūrti:

And the devas,they just surrendered again to Lord Vishnu save us and the Lord appeared as Mohinī-mūrti. Her beautiful form was more nectar than the nectar. Even the demons were so attracted. And she glanced upon each and every one of them. And by the potency of her attractive glance each asura was thinking ‘she loves me’. She loves only me, she deeply appreciates who I truly am more than anyone else. And each one has such total faith that she fell in love with them.That they all agreed let us give the pot to this beautiful lady and let her decide who to give it to. And everyone knew for sure ‘she will give it to me’. And Mohinī, when they made this proposal she said ‘you don’t even know who I am, who my parents are what I have done in the past or where I am coming from .Why are you putting so much trust in me? This is not very intelligent’ but they were so infatuated by her glance that they started laughing and said ‘oh you are so funny we have complete faith in you’. So Lokanath Maharaj described in such beautiful, devotional detail how she took the pot of nectar and then went over to demigod’s side and started pouring it in their mouths. She is just a beautiful, young lady and the Asuras are the most powerful warriors with weapons and mystical powers but they just let her do it because they didn’t want to displease her. And after she gave the nectar away in that way and she became Lord Vishnu and disappeared. And then there was another fight. Lokanath Maharaj described it so nicely. So when people come to the Kumbha mela we come to get nectar. Krishna tells in Gita

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
mama vartmānuvartante
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśah

As you approach me I will reciprocate accordingly. Some people when they come for this nectar, their conception of nectar is long life, or health or liberation or mystic powers, but devotees pray for pure devotional service.

na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isha kamaye
mama janmani janmanishvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki twayi
(Śikṣāṣṭakam Verse 4)

Premamrita, The True Nectar Is Love For Krishna:

This is Lord Chaitanya’s teaching of what is true nectar. I do not want any amount of wealth, not even elevation to heavenly planets. I do not want the pleasure of opposite sex even the most beautiful and most highest physicals material experience. I do not want fame or prestige, or great scholarship, I do not even want liberation from suffering. My Lord if you desire me to take birth again and again and again then let me do it in such a way that I only wish to serve you, to please you, unconditionally. Premamrita, the true nectar is love for Krishna.

Śukadeva Gosvāmī describes the story of churning of the ocean of milk in the Eighth canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

But then he describes another type of churning of milk in the Tenth canto.

Krishna,Mākhana-cora Pastime:

Yaśodā maiya, a gopi, Krishna’s mother, she rose early in the morning on the day of Diwali to churn dahi, milk into butter. As she was churning the milk, she was singing beautiful songs of Krishna. She was absorbed in remembering Krishna with such motherly love but she was churning that milk for Krishna’s pleasure. We read in the churning of the ocean of milk, how much labour, trouble and struggle the demigods and the demons were enduring during the churning to get nectar. Yaśodā maiya was perspiring, she was working very hard to churn this milk but for Krishna’s pleasure. She didn’t want nectar for herself. She wanted to give nectar to Krishna. She wasn’t churning to get nectar, she was putting the nectar of her love into that milk. The nectar of her love, her devotion she was putting in the milk. And Krishna, who is the source of Dhanvantari, who gave the nectar, who came out of the ocean of milk, He was so hungry to taste this nectar that Yaśodā was putting in milk that he became Mākhana-cora. He became a butter thief. Can you imagine Dhanvantari became a butter thief? Kūrma, whose shell was Eight Hundred Thousand miles width became a butter thief. Narasiṁha Dev, Varāha Dev, Paraśurāma, Rāmacandra, those powerful great personalities, they took the form of their original form, Mākhana-cora. You see when Dhanvantari brought this nectar to devas it meant nothing to Him, give it. It’s not going to make them happy anyway. Demigods and demons were fighting over it, they were fighting among each other for it, Dhanvantari just gave it and Mohinī-mūrti she came to kind of mediate the situation, but she didn’t take anything for herself she had no desire for it she just gave it, ‘take it’. But the milk Yaśodā maiya was churning, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was yearning and longing to taste it so much so He was willing to steal it. So the churning of mother Yaśodā, a simple living gopi living in Gokula is millions of times more valuable nectar than what all the demigods and demons of the heavenly world were churning.

premā pum-artho mahān
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, explained the greatest crest jewel of all treasures is the Puruṣārtha Siromani.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Krishna Himself:

Unconditional, unmotivated love for Krishna. Yaśodā maiya is churning and Krishna is longing to taste it. And after stealing and tasting the nectar He wants to distribute it to His little friends and to the monkeys. Demigods, demons, they didn’t want to share it they wanted it for themselves but Krishna is tasting and sharing. And Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and other younger gopis they would also churn through their love they would churn Krishna’s heart and create such nectar. And when they were feeling separation from Krishna their hearts were churning and churning and churning in remembrance of Krishna, and Krishna is tasting that nectar. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Krishna Himself in the mood of Sri Rādhā who has come to this world in the mood of Rādhārāṇī.

namo maha-vadanyaya krishna-prema-pradaya te
krishnaya krishna-chaitanya-namne gaura-tvishe namah

He has come to distribute that nectar the true nectar of prem.

Lokanath Maharaj was describing this naam amrita, the nectar of holy name awakens that prema from our hearts.

Brihad-bhagavatamrita, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam awakens that nectar of prema from our hearts:

When Śrīla Prabhupāda, fifty years ago from this month, he crossed over oceans, several oceans, several continents to distribute this nectar.

Śrīla Prabhupāda came to America To Give Krishna Prema:

Fifty years ago today Śrīla Prabhupāda was on the Jaladuta passing the Atlantic ocean. And when he came to America, he explained to us he didn’t come to take something, he came to give. He had three things.  He had no money, he didn’t know anyone, he didn’t not have much physical strength, he was very old, he had heart attacks. But he had that nectar mother Yaśodā was putting when she was churning the milk. He had that nectar that Lord Caitanya in the mood of Sri Radha was giving to the world. He had the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the nectar of Śukadeva Gosvāmī’s contribution to the world. He had faith in the absolute nectar of the holy names. And he had complete faith in the nectar of seva to his guru maharaj. This is where true nectar is, in hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in chanting the holy names and in serving the Vaishnavas. And what was the service? To be an instrument of compassion for the fallen souls. To spread the holy names, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Vaishnava culture to others is true nectar. So we come to Kumbha mela not just seeking some material nectar for some temporary material happiness. We come for that true nectar that is revealed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by the great Acharyas, and Śrīla Prabhupāda to taste that to pray for that and to help Śrīla Prabhupāda and our Acharyas distribute that nectar, especially through the chanting of the holy names.

Lord Caitanya described,

ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha--davagni-nirvapanam
shreyah-kairava-chandrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritaswadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam
(Śikṣāṣṭakam Verse 1)

This kirtan is the prime benediction for all humanity. Because through sincere chanting in a humble state of mind as the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord’s devotees we will be given the nectar, the only true nectar that the soul longs for, the nectar that even Krishna longs for, Krishna prema. Thank you very much.

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