“Say Krishna, think of Krishna, and chant Krishna-nama. Krishna is your father, mother, life and all. Krishna has come for your sake to deliver you all. Surrender to Him, do not anything that is wrong.” (Chant of Haridasa Thakura and Nityananda Prabhu, Chaitanya Bhagavata, Madhya, 3.83-84)
One cannot imagine how sinful Jagai and Madhai were. It is said that Yamaraja, the demigod in charge of delivering justice to the just departed souls, could not count the number of sins committed by these two men. There wasn’t enough paper available to write down all of their offenses. Since they were such a plague on society, their fate in the afterlife couldn’t even be determined right away. Though they were born to brahmanas, or men of the priestly class, they barely resembled human beings in their behavior. Yet two fearless preachers, on the order of a higher authority, came and delivered them, keeping the holy name around them the whole time by loudly chanting it. To those who take shelter of the holy name, even the wickedest attempts put forth by the strongest enemies of religion will feel no more of a nuisance than a cotton suave touching the body or a mink glove rubbing up and down against the back.
Who were Jagai and Madhai? More importantly, how and why were they saved? What does it mean to be “saved” anyway? Aren’t we all in the same boat of material existence, forced to endure temporary bouts of happiness and sadness? You get up every day, do what you have to do to ensure you have enough money, and then come home and relax. If you follow this pattern long enough, one day you won’t have to work anymore. Then you wait for inevitable death to come and take everything away. There are gradations of good and bad work, but since we start and end in the same places, can we really say that anyone lives a different life?
Though the spirit soul living in a dog’s body is equal to the spirit soul residing in a human being, the nature of activities is different. A dog has different tendencies than a human being. Also, the dog has more limitations. It cannot study quantum physics, speak eloquently, or even cook an elaborate meal. The human being, though equal in spiritual constitution to the dog, has these capabilities and many more. In this way we know that souls can end up in different places and thereby have different types of enjoyment.
“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)
The variety in residences for the spirit soul is due to karma, or fruitive work. Since work and its pile of reactions are rooted in desire, we can say that every living entity essentially gets what they want. The soul wanting limitless sex life, which requires minimal effort to secure, would have a difficult time in the human body. The opposite sex is not wooed so easily, and if it is, the enjoyment isn’t as great. “The chase is better than the catch”, as they say, which means that part of the thrill of conjugal relations in the human species is getting the corresponding party to let down their guard and take an interest in you romantically.
If you wish to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, the human body is again not the most suitable. A hog will eat anything placed in front of it, and other animals eat carcasses and flesh. In this way their diets aren’t difficult to maintain; they can ingest whatever they want. The human being, on the other hand, is so conscious of its food intake that it regularly goes on diets, trying to better its health and overall appearance. If we want to eat to our hearts’ content, why would we want to remain in a species that is so conscious of weight loss?
What is the human birth for then? What is that desire of the spirit soul that grants it residence in the most advanced form of body in terms of intelligence capacity? At its core the soul is a lover of God. If you would rather call Him something else, by all means do so, but this still doesn’t change the constitutional position of the soul. Even if there is outward denial of the existence of a higher authority figure, the penchant to love will remain the same. The difference will be that the love will be directed towards the wrong places. By “wrong” we mean that which doesn’t match up with the soul’s reservoir of love. As an example, parental affection is meant to be directed to our children. If the same potential affection were to be directed towards a car or piece of wood, obviously we wouldn’t be making the best use of our energy. The mother produces milk from her breast only when the child is there to want it; otherwise the love in the form of milk stays empty.
The spirit soul, when denying or ignoring the presence of God, doesn’t necessarily run dry in its potential for service. Rather, that same penchant brings the individual into other engagements, which are not properly suited for accepting the love meant for God. Drug addiction, overeating, indulgence in illicit sex, and excessive gambling give indications of a loving spirit gone awry. Though these are the most egregious examples, in fact any love that is not offered to God or not based on that inherent love for the Supreme Lord is misdirected. Not only is that affection meant for God, but the other objects and entities are also incapable of accepting an endless amount of service.
You can take pretty much any example of offered service to see that there are limitations. The exuberant worker can at best work overtime hours to show their boss that they are committed to the operation. Despite the most heartfelt enthusiasm, the number of available hours to work in a given week is capped. Moreover, the boss’ ability to compensate the loving employee is limited by the amount of profit produced by the venture. In romantic love, there is the possibility of smothering your significant other, making them feel uncomfortable due to too many affectionate gestures.
God, on the other hand, can never be smothered. As if to correspond with this property, the spirit soul has no limit to its ability to love the Supreme Lord. Only in the human species can the inquiry even be made into the Absolute Truth, the one person who is beyond the dualities of life and death, light and darkness, heat and cold, etc. When convinced of the need for worshiping God, the spirit soul in the human species can follow the proper methods of service, activities which gradually reduce the fever of material existence, which results from a constant struggle for acquiring gains, a battle rooted in competition against our fellow man.
Even in the human species there are gradations of birth, different circumstances that one can be born into. The brahmana, or priestly class, is considered the best birth because, by culture, the newborn is ingrained with the values and traditions geared for understanding God and voluntarily accepting service to Him. It isn’t that anyone can be forced into pouring their love in the proper channels. There may be cajoling in the beginning stages, but with aggressive persuasion eventually the reservoir will get capped; so strong is the desire of the living entity. Force does not constitute love, and neither does it give pleasure to the receiver.
Around five hundred years ago in India, a special person took birth, someone who would deliver the fallen souls of the time. Different from the previous incarnations of God, who slayed miscreants by using arrows and gave pleasure to the devotees with their fighting abilities, this manifestation of the Supreme Lord would take the guise of a humble preacher, one who seemingly had no fighting prowess. His mission would be the same, though He would go about it in a different way. Instead of killing the enemies, He would destroy their sinful desires causing their fall from grace. His mercy would extend to those eagerly looking for transcendental happiness, those not born into good circumstances, and also those who were considered the vilest creatures.
To show that His mission was real, Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the most merciful incarnation of Godhead, dispatched two of His most dear friends to deliver a pair of drunkards, veritable plagues on society, Jagai and Madhai. Though Mahaprabhu’s divine nature is hinted at in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, which is the crown jewel of Vedic literature, one needn’t immediately accept His position as Krishna to be benefitted. Just by regularly hearing about Him and His kind mercy, even the hardest heart will be softened.
Jagai and Madhai were brothers born in a brahmana family, but they exhibited the worst traits. This shows that one doesn’t automatically acquire a high status by their birth; a fact which is just common sense. Anyone who says otherwise is simply parroting words taught to them or trying to unfairly acquire fame when they don’t deserve it. We may respect someone for who their parents are, but unless they exhibit praiseworthy qualities, how can we look to them for guidance? The brahmanas are meant to be the brains of society. Not everyone will know how a government should run, what is sin and what isn’t, and what the meaning of life is; nor do they need to. If a few brahmanas are present and not afraid to teach, then everyone can learn the knowledge necessary for making advancement towards pure God consciousness.
Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura were Lord Chaitanya’s trusted associates, beloved by all. As part of their daily routine, they went around village to village, house to house, asking people to chant the names of Shri Hari, who is the Supreme Lord. God is bestowed thousands of names in the Vedic tradition because of His unlimited attributes and features. These names give pleasure to the devotees who chant them. “Haribol” is a call to chant the names of Hari, for in the present age of darkness, the holy name is the singular vehicle for deliverance.
Of the names for God found in the Vedas, Krishna is considered the topmost, as it best describes the Lord’s position. He is all-attractive, which means that every single person is naturally drawn to Him. The atheists are enamored by Krishna’s separated energy expansion of material nature, while the devotees are attracted to His original form holding a flute in the hands and wearing a peacock feather in the hair. Krishna’s smile is so beautiful that the sober person who looks at it will instantly lose their pride accumulated over many lifetimes. Just one pure recitation of Krishna’s name catches Hari’s attention. He will then make sure that such a person eventually becomes God conscious and gains release from a temporary realm full of miseries.
Nityananda and Haridasa wanted others to say Krishna’s name purely, for this was the mission they were carrying out for Mahaprabhu. Jagai and Madhai seemed like they would never agree to chanting, nor would they even remain peaceful while being preached to. Who likes to be told what to do anyway? If someone on the street comes up to us selling something, the natural reaction is to brush them aside, pretend like they’re not even there. “Stop bothering me man; just leave me alone.” Jagai and Madhai took unfriendliness to an extreme. They would attack innocent people for no reason.
While on the way to deliver the two brothers, Nityananda and Haridasa chanted out loud that Krishna had come to save everyone. They boldly asserted that everyone should chant the holy name of the Lord, taking it as the mother, father and life. In one sense they were asking for trouble, as they knew that if Jagai and Madhai heard this, they would not be happy. Sure enough, the brothers would be so incensed that Nityananda Prabhu would get injured, being cut on the head from an object hurled at him by Madhai. When Mahaprabhu heard about this, He immediately came on the scene and was ready to kill Madhai. Nityananda then stepped in and asked the Lord to be merciful and not harm him. Seeing this amazing affection, both brothers became devotees. They agreed to stop their sinful ways and always chant the names of Krishna.
If even the worst men can be delivered by the power of the holy name transmitted through an empowered human being, just imagine how many other people can. Lest we think we don’t need to be delivered, for as long as there is aversion to divine love, there is every chance of rebirth. Would you want to take birth and have to go to school again? Would you want another life of constant repetition, where nothing brings permanent happiness? Maybe some would, but the sober individual recognizes the pattern of material life and looks for a way out.
Chanting of the holy names is best done through recitation of Mahaprabhu’s favorite mantra, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. Recite this sacred formula as often as you want. To keep a routine going, it is best to chant this mantra daily on a set of japa beads, but the sequence of words can also be sung in countless melodies. Even while travelling through this world full of danger, one can keep the holy name with them, chanting it fearlessly as Nityananda and Haridasa did. The two saved countless individuals, including even the most fallen. There should be no doubting then that, if we approach the same saints and ask them to instill in us Krishna-prema, or love for God, they will kindly oblige. Mahaprabhu’s mercy continues to be bestowed upon humanity today through His extended family of associates and their branches of disciplic succession. Indeed, the popularity of the Hare Krishna mantra is due entirely to them. The best way to repay the kindness shown to us is to regularly say “Krishna” and say it with love.
Jagai and Madhai, their influence on society did steadily mount,
Yamaraja, god of death, their sinful reactions couldn’t count.
Yet salvation not available to only highest class,
Can even come for those who in behavior are crass.
Lord Chaitanya specifically came to deliver all,
With sounds of the holy name heard from devotee’s call.
His friends Nityananda and Haridasa bhakti did spread,
Not even the influence of the vilest men did they dread.
From sounding Krishna’s name sinners did they hope to save,
Facing Madhai and Jagai, Nityananda did remain brave.
Cut on the head from pot of Madhai, blood from Nityananda did spill,
Mahaprabhu then arrived on the scene, culprits wanting to kill.
Nityananda stepped in and Mahaprabhu did he mollify,
Brothers then agreed to give up sin, holy names would they glorify.
The mercy of Mahaprabhu has the greatest reach,
Through His friends how to purely love God does He teach.