A Humble Offering to the Vaisnavas

Srila Bodhayan Maharaj

 

All glories to Sri Guru & Sri Gauranga

yahara prasade bhāi e bhaba tariyā yāi
krishna prāpti hai yāhā haite

Srila Narattom Das Thakur Mahashaya, in one of his famous songs entitled “sri guru charana padma,” writes the above verse in his first stanza. The meanings of his words are integral to the followers of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Nowadays, due to misunderstanding of Guru-Tattva, most Gaudiya-Vaisnava followers are not adequately informed about the knowledge of Guru-Tattva and therefore an element of confusion exists. As a result of this lack of knowledge, they can feel cheated on their chosen path. The same can be said of pious people in various parts of the world following their respective religious faith. The above-referenced song was written in Bengali language and the quoted lines hold a deep meaning, which I will try to explain word by word and provide a detailed account of their inner meaning:

Yahara (whose); prasade (mercy); bhai (brother); e bhaba (this material world) tariyā yāi (able to deliver); krishna (Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is embodiment of bliss and all attractive); prāpti (get); hai (is); yāhā (that) haite (from).

According to the direct instruction of Lord Krishna, we understand that without the mercy of Krishna’s eternal consort, Srimati Radharani, no one is eligible to receive His mercy.

Srimad Bhagvatam informs us that Lord Krishna gives instructions to one of His most intimate devotees named Uddhava. Uddhava worshipped Lord Krishna since childhood with the mood of friendship (Sakhya-Rasa). Lord Krishna declares “achāryam mām vijāniyāt”. The meaning of the Sanskrit words is as follows:

Achāyam (whoever is teaching us to serve Sri Krishna by example); mām vijāniyāt (who is representing Me only).

My spiritual master, His Divine Grace, often cited Lord Krishna’s words to Uddhava to explain to us the value of the Acharya. He would explain that since an Acharya is the Lord’s agent, He is to be understood as non-different from the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Himself, and therefore we should hold the utmost respect for the Acharya. In actual fact, the real Acharya is Srimati Radharani and She is non-different from Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna is potent (Shaktimān) and Srimati Radharani is His pleasure potency (Ānanda-dāyini Shakti). Srimati Radharani is serving Sri Krishna non-stop, 24-hours a day, in various ways. It is known to us that She cooks various items for Krishna and will arrange for the cooked items to be sent to Krishna through Her associates (Sakhis). Not only that, for Krishna’s happiness She is maintaining extreme tolerance by accepting all false blame and accusations thrown at Her by both Her mother-in-law, Jatilā and sister-in-law, Kutilā. However, we ourselves are not ready to tolerate any blame or criticism at all. Our present opinion is that since we are following a renounced order of life, we should therefore stay away from our parents, relatives, educational practices, business etc.. For the sake of following a “renounced” life, we are even ready to abandon our Spiritual Master and his services too.  Srimati Radharani’s renunciation is of a different quality than our present understanding of a renounced life.  Whatever criticism of Her chastity and purity Jatilā and Kutilā complained about, would spread around the neighbourhood. These accusations, however, did nothing to deter Srimati Radharani nor would She even entertain the thought of stopping Her service to Krishna. Thus, She is showing the example of tolerance in rendering Krishna’s service. Presently, where is our tolerance for serving the Acharya?

In our lineage, the word, Acharya is synonymous to the word “Guru” or “Gurudeva,” the universal teacher. Here, teacher refers to the individual who is teaching us spirituality by example. Srimati Radharani is the original Acharya and the source of all Acharyas. Also, we know that without Radharani’s mercy, no one can receive Krishna’s mercy. In the same way, we can say that without Gurudeva’s mercy one cannot be delivered from this miserable world. Furthermore, it can also be said that one can only get the opportunity to engage in Krishna’s service by the grace of Gurudeva.

The ultimate goal of human life is to become the eternal servant of Sri Krishna, which is reflected in the last line of the first stanza “krishna prāpti hay yāhā haite.” To shed further light on the subject matter of Guru-Tattva, I would like to discuss a verse from Chaitanya Charitamrita:

guru krishna rupa han shastrer pramaney
guru-rupe krishna kripa karen bhakta-gane

According to scriptural information, the condensed mercy of Lord Krishna is appearing before us in the form of Guru—Lord Krishna is bestowing His mercy through the form of a Guru. In conclusion, it can be stated that Guru is the most important aspect of our spiritual practice; eternally keeping in mind that Guru is non-different from Lord Krishna. It should also be well noted in our mind that Guru is an important Tattva (absolute truth) and not necessarily only an individual. As soon as we think that Guru is an individual, then we will start to discriminate amongst different Gurus in order to promote our own Guru. This tendency of promoting one’s individual Guru is consequently trapping us in committing offenses. The offense will take us away from developing realization of spiritual practice, leaving only chaos in our life. Our goal of spiritual practice is to first realize and then relish the taste of eternal bliss, peace, happiness, and love.

Due to the present activities of so-called Gurus, it has become difficult to define the qualification of a Guru. Actually, a Guru should be appointed by previous teachers, but nowadays almost all of the Gurus are appointed by either their followers or are self-appointed. Most preachers are taking the role of “Guru” as per the request of the audience for and the masses are feeling attracted by the preacher’s ability to orate their ideas coherently, perform sweet melodious singing, and by displaying a holy nature. As a result of such a show of charisma, the general public are approaching preachers to give them initiation. Consequently, most of the initiating Gurus who are appointed by the public are expanding the loving mission of Mahaprabhu without permission of the previous teachers.

If we look at the ancient history, we can see the procedure to appoint a Guru. We know that Lakshmi Devi appointed Srila Ramanuja Acharya. In brief, Lakshmi Devi can also be referred to as “Sri.”  Therefore, whoever gets initiation from Ramanuja Acharya’s spiritual descendent, they are known to belong to the “Sri-Sampradya.” Similarly, Lord Brahma appointed Srila Madhva Acharya and whoever receives initiation from Madhva Acharya’s spiritual descendents are known to belong to the “Brahma-Sampradaya.” Furthermore, Lord Shiva appointed Vishnuswami and whoever follows Vishnuswami Acharya’s spiritual descendent belongs to the “Rudra-Sampradaya.” Conceived from Brahma’s mind, Brahma’s four sons Sanak, Sanatan, Sanandan, and Sanat Kumar (abbreviated to “Sanak”) also appointed Nimbaditya Brahmin (Nimbarka-Acharya). Those following the Nimbarka-Acharya’s spiritual descendent belong to the “Nimbarka-Sampradaya.”

Thus, my Grand Spiritual Master (Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Prabhupada) appointed all of his disciples to be Guru. Often he used to say that “I am not accepting any disciples. They are all my friends who are there to protect me from different types of dangers (Vipad-Uddharan-Bandhav) in this material world. Therefore, I appoint all of them as Guru to protect people from their material attachment and engage them in spiritual services.” After the physical departure of Srila B.S. Prabhupada’s disciples—with the exception of a few appointed acharyas—a selection of devotees were appointed by either a voting system amongst society members or selected by people because of their observation of how nicely they are giving discourses, singing with a melodious tune, and the display of holy behavior.

Hence, we can see all over the world the many so-called ‘Gurus’ who are accepting unqualified disciples.  During the time of initiation, Guru is eligible to plant the loving seeds of the creeper of devotion in the heart of the disciple. Unfortunately, unqualified Gurus out of greed for name and fame, accept large numbers of disciples without preparing the heart of those followers to sow the loving seeds of devotion. We know seeds need to be planted on prepared land having properly dug and cleared all weeds from the land; only then can seeds be planted, otherwise the seeds will be unable to sprout and grow step by step. After sprouting, the creeper will give flowers and eventually bear fruits. For healthy growth, the seeds should undergo irrigation from time to time. Here, irrigation refers to the hearing of discourses by the individuals who are practicing the path of devotion. One should chant attentively in order to reach the ultimate spiritual abode and not because of any other mundane motivation. As a result of any secondary tendency of the preacher, the followers are unable to get any benefit. At the end they are feeling cheated and instead of accepting the process of chanting in a loving manner, most followers are rejecting chanting as well as switching from one Guru to another.

Usually we see on the day of the Guru or Vaisnava’s birthday ceremony that disciples and followers prepare a beautiful throne for their Guru to perform his worship with their best ability. But during Prabhupada’s (HDG Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur) time the GuruVaisnava’s birthday ceremony was known by the term ‘Vyasa-Puja’ day. During that period of time, along with preparing a beautiful throne, disciples and followers used to perform Vyasa-Puja as per the direction of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, which is described as follows:

There is a minimum of six panchakas, known as 1. Krishna-Panchaka, 2. Vyasa-Panchaka, 3. Acharya-Panchaka, 4. Sanakadi-Panchaka, 5. Gaura-Panchaka 6. Guru-Panchaka.

Here, Panchaka means five personifications in each group. The six Panchakas are laid out as Krishna-Panchaka in the middle position. On the right side of Krishna-Panchaka we should keep Vyasa-Panchaka and Gaura-Panchaka side by side. On the left side of Krishna-Panchaka we are to keep Acharya-Panchaka. On the west side of Krishna-Panchaka is kept Sanakadi-Panchak and on the east side of Krishna-Panchaka is Guru-Panchaka.

1.     The five personification in Krishna-Panchaka: Krishna in the middle surrounded by His four expansion—at the east side, Vasudeva, at the south side, Sankarshan, at the west side, Pradyumna, and at the north side, Aniruddha.

2.   The five personification in Vyasa-Panchaka: The energy incarnation of Lord Krishna, Vyasadeva, is in the middle and surrounded are his four main disciples. At the east side, Paila Muni, at the south side, Vaishampāyana Muni, at the west side, Jaimini Muni, and at the north side, Sumanta Muni.

3.     The five personifications of Gaura-Panchak: In the middle is Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. During every day of Brahma’s entire life, Vrindavan Krishna appears during the seventh Manu’s period, the 28th number Chatur-Yuga’s in Dwapar-Yuga, and following this is the appearance of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu in the Kali -Yuga.1 On east side there is Advaita Prabhu (combination form of Mahavishnu and Lord Shiva), on the south side is Nityananda Prabhu (Balaram in Krishna’s pastime), on the west side, Srivas Thakur (Narada), and on the north side, Gadadhara Pandit (incarnation of Srimati Radharani).

4.     The five personification of Acharya-Panchak: In the middle is Srila Sukadeva Goswami (Bhagawata-Ācharya) surrounded by the four Acharyas. On the east side, Srila Ramanuja-Ācharya, on the south side, Srila Madhva-Ācharya, on the west side, Vishnu Swami-Ācharya, and on the north side, Nimbaditya (Nimbarka-Ācharya).

5.     The five personification of Sanakadi Panchak: In the middle is Vishaksen, surrounded by the four personalities; East side, Sanak, south side, Sanatan, west side, Sanandan and north side, Sanatkumar.

6.     The five personification of Guru-Panchak: in the middle is our Diksha-Guru and surrounding on the east side are, Param-Guru, on the south side, Paramesthi-Guru, on the west side, Paratpara-Guru, and on the north side, Lord Brahma.

The above procedure is the actual method to conduct a Vyasa-Puja, which was established by Satchidānanda Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur. This method of Vyasa-Puja allows us to give due respect to all members of the different Vaisnava-Parampara (lineage).

The Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition was established by Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. He highlighted the qualities of being humble like a blade of grass, being tolerant like a tree, being completely free from name, fame, distinction, and desires, and giving due respect to all living beings and chanting of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. These qualities will gradually appear in us through our relentless chanting of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, at least 64-rounds a day.

The Vaisnava tradition is not a new tradition. When looking back at the history of this tradition, we can see that the first living entity in the universe, Lord Brahma, was a Vaisnava. His four sons, known as the four Kumaras, Narada and Lord Shiva are Vaisnavas too. Our lineage (sampradaya) started from Brahma. Since Brahma is the first authority in this sampradaya, we belong to the Brahma sampradaya. We know that Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna (Vrindavan Krishna), who is the source of all incarnation (Avatāri not Avatār) appeared in the form of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. After accepting the renounced order of life for spreading the devotional practice of chanting the Hare Krishna Mahamantra, His name became Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu showed us by example that without accepting an authentic lineage, our spiritual practice will not bear any fruit. Sampradaya, or parampara literally means “one after another.” The purpose of the parampara system is to preserve spiritual knowledge through successive links, or disciplic succession, that carries down over the years. The knowledge comes down from the Supreme Lord Himself and the bona fide Guru will preserve this knowledge by keeping it intact and complete. Not that new ideas and conclusions are manufactured: one cannot add to it or improve it, rather it is preserved and passed down as it is. For further understanding, let’s deliberate on this fact, that, although Gauranga Mahaprabhu is Avatāri He nonetheless accepted the Brahma sampradaya lineage and established the worship of the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha Krishna in Goloka Vrindavan. Goloka Vrindavan is topmost abode of Supreme Lord where the sweetness mellow (Madhurya Rasa, the condensed form of all types of mellows) is relished. We are trying to follow in the footsteps of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and His associates.

I heard from my Spiritual Master that my Grand Spiritual Master, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur Prabhupad (Srila B.S. Prabhupad), is a spiritual descendent of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu in that he came directly from the spiritual abode. In that spiritual abode his eternal form is Vimala Nayanamani Manjari.  I also heard from our Guru-Varga that all the disciples of Srila B.S. Prabhupad are associates of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu as well.  My previous teachers, His Divine Grace (HDG) Srila Bhakti Vinode Thakur, HDG Srila B.S. Prabhupad, HDG Srila Bhakti Pramode Puri Goswami Thakur, and all my Guru-Varga’s, the essence of all their teachings is that one should nourish the soul through devotional practice and chanting of the Holy Name, which will gradually free one from all material attachment. Material attachment is constantly pulling us to remain in the cycle of bondage where endless suffering exists. Suffering comes to living entities in many forms, from taking the body of an aquatic, reptile, tree, plant, birds, animal, and human.

Although I am unworthy to be the servant of our previous teachers, my spiritual master, out of his causeless mercy has allowed me to be his servant and taught me how to follow in the footsteps of all members in this lineage. Today, my humble request to all the Vaisnavas is to please excuse all my previous offensive attitude and bestow your mercy on me so that I can qualify to be a real servant of the servants of our Guru-Varga and that I may gradually be allowed to enter the spiritual abode in order to become a servant of Ananga Manjari, Rupa Manjari, and Lalita Shakhi.

An insignificant aspiring servant of our Guru-Varga.

B.B.Bodhayan

1 One day of Lord Brahma: Golden Age (Satya-Yuga),  Silver Age (Treta-Yuga), Copper Age (Dwapara Yuga) and Iron Age (Kali-Yuga). These four Ages together is called one Chatur-Yuga. 71 Chatur-Yuga are called one Manmantar (Manu’s duration of life); 14 Manmantar are considered only one day of Brahma. In one day of Brahma, on the 28th number of Chatur-Yuga’s and the 7th Manmantar in copper Age, Sri Vrindavan Krishna appears and then in the Iron Age (Kali-Yuga) that same Vrindavan Krishna appears in the form of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. All other times of the cyclic appearance of the Lord, Vasudev Krishna (avatar) appears in each Dwapara Yuga with Kaliki Avatar incarnation taking place in every Kali Yuga following on from Vasudev Krishna’s descent. It is to be noted that Vrindavan Krishna and Gauranga Maharprabhu are avatari (source of all incarnations) whereas all other forms are avatars (incarnations) of the Supreme Lord.

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For Srila Sanatana Goswami’s Disappearance day

sanatana-vrndavan

Srila Sanatana Goswami worshipping Sri Madana-Gopal in Vrndaban

Sanatana’s Glorious Pastimes in Vraja

Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has described in his Chaitanya Charitamrita how Rupa and Sanatana Goswami worshiped Krishna in the land of Vraja:

These brothers have no fixed residence. They spend each night beneath a different tree in the forest, one night under one tree and the next under another. Sometimes, they begged dry food from a Brahmin’s house and sometimes cooked food like dry bread and fried chick-peas. This is how they have given up all kinds of material enjoyments. They wrap themselves in a quilt and wear noting but a piece of torn cloth, claiming nothing but a waterpot as a possession. They engage almost twenty-four hours daily in rendering service to the Lord by chanting the holy names of Krishna and discussing his pastimes or dancing in great jubilation. They spend only an hour and a half in sleep, and some days, when overcome by the love of chanting the Lord’s holy name, they do not sleep at all. Sometimes they write transcendental works about divine aesthetics, and sometimes they listen to talks about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or spend their time thinking about the Lord.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.19.127-31)

While staying at Cakratirtha near Govardhana, Sanatana would regularly circumambulate the mountain. As he grew older, he became too weak to walk these 14 miles on a daily basis without becoming excessively fatigued. One day, Gopinath himself came in the form of a cowherd boy to fan him when he became too tired from walking. After refreshing Sanatana in this way, the boy climbed onto the hill and brought down a stone marked with Krishna’s footprint. He gave the stone to Sanatana and said, You have grown old. There is no need for you to trouble yourself to this extent any longer. I am giving you this stone from Govardhana. If you circumambulate this stone, you can consider yourself to have circumambulated Govardhana itself. Then he disappeared. No longer able to see the charming form of the cowherd boy, Sanatana was overwhelmed with pain and began to cry. This story has also been told in the (Bhakti-ratnakara 5.728-741).

Cakratirtha is on the northern shore of Manasi Ganga. There is a temple dedicated to Cakreshvara Shiva, or as he is popularly known, Cakleshvara Mahadeva. Sanatana’s bhajana-kutira was under a neem tree which stood in front of this temple. Just north of this place is a temple which houses Gaura-Nityananda. Sanatana Prabhu’s Govardhana-shila is currently kept in the Radha-Damodar temple at Radha Kund.

There are more stories about the glories of Cakratirtha. When Sanatana first came to this place, there were so many mosquitos that he was unable to concentrate while meditating on the Holy Name or writing transcendental literature, so much so that he decided to move. That night, Cakreshvara appeared to Sanatana in a dream and told him not to worry about the problem. He would be able to engage in his worship without disturbance. From that night on, there were no more mosquitos at Cakratirtha.

Srila Sanatana Goswami also spent some time living in a cottage on the banks of Pavana Sarovara near Nandagrama. Here also he was granted a vision of Krishna as a cowherd boy, who gave him milk and told him to build a hut and engage in his worship there. One day, Rupa invited Sanatana to come and eat with him. For this occasion, he wished to prepare sweet rice, but he did not have the necessary ingredients. Srimati Radharani took the form of a young cowherd girl and came to Rupa with milk, sugar, rice and ghee, in short, giving him everything he needed to make the preparation for Sanatana’s pleasure. Rupa Goswami cooked the sweet rice and after offering it to the deity, gave the prasad to Sanatana. Sanatana found that after relishing the delicious sweet rice, he was overcome by uncontrollable waves of ecstasy. Suspecting that something unusual had taken place, he asked Rupa where the ingredients had come from. When Rupa told him about the little cowherd girl, Sanatana immediately realized that it had been Radha. Because Radha was their goddess and they were her servants, the proper relation of served and servant had been reversed. He therefore strictly forbad Rupa from accepting such gifts in the future.
(Bhakti-ratnakara 5.1311-30)

Another legend told about Sanatana is the following. Once there was a very poor devotee of Shiva, whose name, according to the Bhaktamala and Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana, was Sri Jivana Chakravarti. Originally from the village of Manakara in Burdwan district in Bengal, he had spent many years worshiping Shiva in Benares, praying to him for wealth. Finally, one night Shiva appeared to him in a dream and told him to go to Sanatana in Vrindavan, for he was in possession of a great wealth which he would share with him.

The poor Brahmin immediately set off for Vrindavan where he found Sanatana deep in meditation. However, when he saw the Goswami, thin and dressed in a dirty loincloth, he began to doubt that he could give him the desired riches. Even so, he told Sanatana about the dream. Sanatana heard the Brahmin and came back to external consciousness. He answered saying that he lived by begging a few crumbs from a number of different houses, how could he possibly give him the riches he desired?

The poor Brahmin was disappointed and turned away, thinking that perhaps the message Shiva had given him in the dream had just been an illusion. Meanwhile, Sanatana pondered why Shiva had sent the Brahmin to him. As he ruminated, he remembered a philosopher’s stone that was lying in a pile of rubbish and had long since been covered in dust. As soon as he remembered the existence of this valuable jewel, he sent someone to fetch the Brahmin and told him to take the jewel from the rubbish heap.

When the Brahmin saw the touchstone, he was overjoyed and thought, now there will be no one as rich as I in the entire world! After walking some distance away, however, he began to wonder why Sanatana had completely forgotten about such a valuable possession. Indeed, if he cared so little for the philosopher’s stone, he must have something even more valuable. Perhaps he had been cheated! He wanted to know what riches Sanatana possessed that he cared so little for the touchstone.

The Brahmin quickly ran back to Sanatana and expressed his doubts, asking him if he had anything more valuable in his possession. Then Sanatana told him that there was no greater wealth than love for Krishna and that material goods were insignificant and simply a cause of greater distress. The Brahmin then bowed his head and prayed to Sanatana to please give him the wealth which made him consider even a touchstone insignificant. Sanatana was moved by his prayer and mercifully bestowed upon him the riches of Krishna-prema.

Sanatana Goswami’s samadhi tomb is found next to the old Radha-Madana Mohana temple in Vrindavan. He left this world on the full moon day of Asharh in the Shaka year 1480 (1558 AD).

[Excerpted from “Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]

For Guru-Puja (Purnima)

Today is the appearance day of Srila Vyasadeva, or VedaVyasa, who composed the major portion of Vedic literature.

Today we are celebrating Guru-puja, because we are very indebted to our Gurudeva, the guru-parampara and Srila Vyasadeva. In India, all the various sampradayas –Vaisnava and Mayavadi as well – accept Sri Vyasadeva as Guru, and all worship him on the day of Guru-puja without hesitation.

“This Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of God, and it is compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, the incarnation of God. It is meant for the ultimate good of all people, and it is all-successful, all-blissful and all-perfect.” (Bhag.1.3.40)

This is a day of remembrance of all gurus, through whom God grants the Divine grace of Spiritual knowledge to His disciples.

Guru Purnima is an opportunity for disciples to recommit themselves to following their Guru’s guidance and teachings.

May we all accept the teachings and blessings of Srila Gurudeva and apply them in our daily lives.

For Sri Vakresvara Pandit’s Disappearance Day

vyuhas turyo’niruddho yah sa vakresvara-paditah /
kadavesaja-natyena prabhoh sukham ajijanat //
sahasra-gayakan mahyam dehi tvam karuda-maya /
iti caitanya-pade sa uvaca madhuram vacah /
sva-prakasa-vibhedena sasirekha tam avisat //

Vakresvara Pandit is the fourth member of the catur-vyuha, Aniruddha.He brought happiness to the lord by dancing in the mood of Krishna. He would sweetly say to Mahaprabhu, “O merciful lord! Give me a thousand singers so that I can dance.” Radha’s dear sakhi Sasirekha also entered into him. (Gaura-gadoddesa-dipika 71)

Sri Vakresvara Pandit revealed such great potency that he danced non-stop for three days. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami wrote the following about Vakresvara Pandit:

Vakresvara Pandit is the Lord’s dear servant, who danced without rest for seventy-two hours. Mahaprabhu himself sang as he danced when Vakresvara fell down at his feet and said, “O moon-faced lord! Give me ten thousand Gandharvas. I will be happy if I can dance while they sing. The Lord answered, “You are like a wing. If I had another like you, I would be able to fly in the sky!” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.17-20)

Vakresvara and Devananda Pandit

He was also present at the houses of Srivasa and Chandrasekhara, where he would also dance during kirtan. Vakresvara was so dear to Mahaprabhu that when Devananda Pandit was able to receive Mahaprabhu’s mercy by serving him. In this way he was able to become free of the offenses he had made to Srivasa Pandit. Mahaprabhu explained how to atone for offenses to the Vaishnavas in answer to a Brahmin’s question.

Listen, Brahmin, if someone eats poison then he must take ambrosia through the very same mouth. Then the poison will be digested and the body will become immortal by the power of the divine ambrosia. Now let me answer your question. Whatever blasphemies you have unknowingly made are exactly like poison which you have eaten. Now you must use the same mouth to constantly glorify Krishna’s name and qualities, which are like ambrosia. You have used this mouth to insult the devotees, now use it to glorify them. Glorify the devotees as the best of humanity, glorify them in songs and poetry. I will destroy all the poison of blasphemy through the ambrosia of the ecstasies of Krishna’s glories. You have all unknowingly committed offenses; this is the truth. If you should stop all kinds of offensive activity and simply engage in praising Krishna and his devotees, then you will be free from all the sins you have committed, however numerous they may be. You will not be able to achieve the same results by millions of atonements. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.3.449-458)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur comments: “An offensive person will only attain auspiciousness if he uses the mouth through which he made his blasphemous comments to acknowledge his offense and then to glorify Krishna and his devotees. If you take poison it will disrupt the body’s functioning, but you can remedy the situation by taking a medicine that destroys its effects. Similarly, the way to become free from the poisonous effects of Vaishnava-ninda is to first of all stop; then, rather than performing thousands of other ineffective atonement rituals, one should glorify the Vaishnava.

“Through serving the devotee, Kuliya’s Devananda Pandit became a believer in Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet. This good fortune visited him when Vakresvara came to stay in his house. Devananda was a follower of the smarta path, but was nevertheless a great scholar and very renounced. He read no scripture other than the Bhagavatam. He was devoted to the Supreme Lord and was free from the domination of his senses. Nevertheless, he was not a believer in Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. By Vakresvara’s mercy, this foolish misunderstanding was dispelled and he developed faith in the lord.”(Gauiya-bhaya to Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.3.453, 481)

Vakresvara Pandit was very dear to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Anyone who remembers him will purify the entire creation. He is the embodiment of Krishna prema and the gods and the demons would all become enchanted by his dancing. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.3.469-70)

Mahaprabhu himself described Vakresvara’s glories to Devananda Pandit:

The Lord said, “You have served Vakresvara, therefore I have come to know you. Vakresvara Pandit is the Lord’s complete energy and whoever pays homage to him attains Krishna. Krishna has made his home in Vakresvara’s heart. Krishna dances in order to make Vakresvara dance. If any place becomes associated with Vakresvara, it immediately becomes the equivalent of Vaikuntha and equal to all the holy places. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.3.493-6)

When Mahaprabhu had absolved Devananda of his offenses, then he instructed him with great affection. Those vain egoists who are proud of their scholarship cannot understand the meaning of the Bhagavatam; that is the prerogative of those who are surrendered, the saradagata. The only object of the Bhagavatam is to elucidate pure devotion; it is not different from the pure devotee. One is the book Bhagavatam, the other is the person Bhagavatam. One who speaks from the Bhagavatam with this knowledge will attain the supreme auspiciousness.

One who thinks, “I understand the Bhagavatam” does not really know the Bhagavatam’s central meaning. On the other hand, an ignorant person who takes shelter of the Bhagavatam will directly perceive its meaning. The Bhagavatam is pure love, it is the incarnation of Krishna himself. It recounts Krishna’s most intimate activities. After recounting the Vedas and the Puranas, Vedavyasa felt unsatisfied, but as soon as the Bhagavatam manifested on his tongue, his mind was immediately satisfied. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.3.514-8)

Gopal Guru Goswami When Vakresvara came to live at Puri, he would accompany Mahaprabhu, Advaita Acharya and other devotees to Tota Gopinath to hear Gadadhara Pandit give discourses on the Bhagavatam. One should hear the book Bhagavatam from the devotee Bhagavatam.

Gopal Guru Goswami was Vakresvara Pandit’s disciple. Gopal Guru’s previous name was Makaradhvaja Pandit; his father’s name was Murari Pandit. It is said that Gopal Guru also displayed extraordinary powers. In his childhood, Gopal Guru personally served Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When Abhirama Thakur came to pay him obeisances, Mahaprabhu took him on his lap to protect him. Mahaprabhu gave Gopal the name Guru because he instructed people to chant Krishna’s names in all circumstances, whether pure or impure.

Before leaving his body, Gopal Guru turned over the service of his Krishnakanta deity to his disciple, Dhyanachandra Goswami. After his death, when Gopal Guru’s body was taken to the Svarga-dvara to be cremated, some representatives of the king came and closed the Radhakanta Math. Dhyanachandra was so distressed that he began to cry aloud. Gopal Guru arose from the funeral pyre, returned to Radhakanta’s temple and resolved the problem before going back to the crematorium. Even after that, however, Gopal Guru appeared in Vrindavan, where devotees were amazed to witness him engaged in his devotions. A murti of Gopal Guru is still worshiped at Radhakanta Math. Most of Vakresvara Pandit’s disciples’ descendants in Orissa consider themselves to be Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

During Rathayatra at Puri, Vakresvara was the chief dancer in the fourth kirtan sampradaya whose lead singer was Govinda Ghosh. He is sometimes described as a branch of Chaitanya, or as a branch of Gadadhara Pandit.

Vakresvara’s disappearance day is the sixth day of the waxing moon in the month of Asharh.

An excerpt from the book “Sri Chaitanya: His Life and Associates” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj.

This entry was posted on July 17, 2018, in Uncategorized. Leave a comment

Srila Shivananda Sena’s Disappearance Day

Excerpted from Chaitanya: His Life and Associates

By Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaj

Nityananda Prabhu’s Punishment of Shivananda

Shivananda Sena also received much mercy from Nityananda Prabhu. One day Nityananda kicked Shivananda who thus received the touch of his lotus feet, a rare attainment for even Brahma and the demigods. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has described this incident in the 12th chapter of the Chaitanya Charitamrita’s Antya-lila. After the disappearance of Hari Das Thakur, Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic transformations increased day by day. That year, the devotees gathered in Nabadwip as usual in preparation for the journey to Puri. Nityananda also joined the party, even though Mahaprabhu had expressly forbidden him to come. Shivananda was accompanied by his wife and three sons. Since he knew the roads of Orissa, he was in charge of the party and would take care of the customs agents, toll collectors, etc., along the way.

Normally, Shivananda would cross the tollgate last, after first insuring that all members of the party had gone through. On one occasion, the procedure took longer than usual and since Shivananda had not arranged for lodgings for the company in the nearby village, the devotees were obliged to stand and sit about under a tree until quite late at night. While waiting for Shivananda to come through the tollgate, Nityananda Prabhu appeared to take on the mood of a cowherd boy from Vraja overcome by hunger. He made a pretense of being angry at Shivananda, complaining, “Shiva has still not come and arranged for a place for us to stay and I am dying of hunger. I curse his three sons to die.”

On hearing Nityananda make such a curse, Shivananda’s wife started to cry. When Shivananda finally returned from paying the toll collector, he had to calm his wife. He said, “Foolish woman! Why are you needlessly crying? Let our sons die for the inconvenience we have caused Nityananda Prabhu.”

He then went to speak to Nityananda, who kicked him in the head as he paid his obeisances. Shivananda was overjoyed to receive the merciful touch of the Lord’s foot and immediately went to arrange quarters for the night in the house of a milkman. When Shivananda had brought Nityananda Prabhu to his lodgings, he glorified him and prayed to receive the touch of his feet again and again. He said, “Today you have accepted me as your servant, for you have punished me appropriately as you would your own servant. You are so compassionate that even your punishments are a sign of your causeless mercy. Who in the three worlds can understand your personality? The dust of your feet is unattainable by even Brahma, yet it has fallen on my wretched body. My life, my family and my service have all become perfected today. Today I have attained devotion to Krishna, as well as all the other goals of human life.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.12.27-30)

Nityananda was so pleased by Shivananda’s prayers that he embraced him. However, Srikanta, Shivananda’s nephew, had been upset by Nityananda’s behavior. He thought, “Shivananda is Mahaprabhu’s dear associate and respected by all the devotees, and yet Nityananda has kicked him in the head.” He left the party and went ahead to Puri on his own. Upon his arrival, he went to Mahaprabhu and paid his prostrated obeisances. Mahaprabhu first told his servant Govinda to instruct Srikanta to take off his upper garments when paying obeisances. Then, knowing his thoughts, he said to his associates, “Srikanta has come on his own because of some great mental distress. Don’t say anything to him; let him do as he wishes.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.12.38)

From these words, Srikanta could understand that Mahaprabhu is all-knowing and so said nothing about the incident to anyone. The Lord is so affectionate to his devotees that even their friends and relations are also dear to him.

aham bhaktaparadhino hy asvatantra iva dvija
sadhubhir grasta-hridayo bhaktair bhakta-janapriyah

I am under the control of my devotees, O Brahmin, as though I were completely lacking any independence. The saintly devotees have taken possession of my heart, for I am dear to them and they to me.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 9.4.63)

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Sri Swarupa Damodar Goswami Disappearance Day

Gundicha and Rathayatra Pastimes

Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami was one of the chief participants in the cleaning of the Gundicha temple on the eve of the Rathayatra. “Other than Nityananda, Advaita, Svarupa, Brahmananda Bharati and Paramananda Puri, everyone carried buckets of water.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.12.109)

During the washing of the Gundicha temple, a simple but intelligent Brahmin who was not aware of the nature of the Vaishnavas’ devotional etiquette, took some water, suddenly poured it over the Lord’s feet and drank it. In view of Mahaprabhu’s identity as the incarnation of Krishna, it was certainly no offense to drink the water which had washed Mahaprabhu’s feet even though it was done inside the temple of the Lord, but here Mahaprabhu acted as an exemplar for the world and showed dissatisfaction at the Brahmin’s behavior in order that no other person imitate him and become an offender to the feet of the Supreme Lord. He let his anger be known to Svarupa Damodar who caught the Bengali Brahmin and pushed him out of the temple. The next instant, however, he returned to the Lord’s side and asked him to forgive the Brahmin. Though a Vaishnava may externally appear to be hard-hearted, internally he or she is always filled with compassion and thinks of the welfare of every living being.

Every year during Balaram, Jagannath and Subhadra’s ratha festival, the Lord would make four kirtan groups with his devotees. Svarupa Damodar would sing in the first of these, with Advaita participating as the principal dancer. With other kirtan groups from Shantipur, Sri Khanda and Kulina Grama, there were seven sampradayas altogether. In each group, there were two drummers, meaning that there were 14 altogether. When the kirtan started in each of the seven groups, Mahaprabhu demonstrated his divine powers by appearing simultaneously in the midst of each one of them. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes, “Just as the Lord expands into numerous forms during the rasa dance and to marry the queens in Dvaraka, Lord Chaitanya expanded in order to be present in the midst of each sampradayas’ kirtan. The members of each group were convinced that the Lord was in his group alone and in none of the others.”

When Mahaprabhu wished to dance madly, he would have the seven groups come together and would dance in their midst, appointing nine singers and making Svarupa Damodar the principal singer. As the devotees became progressively intoxicated by the kirtan, Mahaprabhu danced frenziedly for many moments. After this, Mahaprabhu’s mood changed. Svarupa Damodar was able to understand the Lord’s intention and began to sing,

sei to parananatha painu
jaha lagi madana-dahane jhuri genu

”I have finally found my life’s lord, for whom I had so long burned in the flames of desire.”

Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes, “As the Lord’s frenzied dancing came to an end, he became absorbed in the mood of Radharani at Kurukshetra. This song about meeting the beloved after a long separation came naturally to Svarupa Damodar’s lips.” As he felt the mood of union strengthening, the Lord began to loudly recite the following verse:

yah kaumaraharah sa eva hi varas ta eva caitra-kshapas
te conmilita-malati-surabhayah praudhah kadambanilah
sa caivasmi tathapi tatra surata-vyapara-lila-vidhau
reva-rodhasi vetasi-taru-tale cetah samutkanthate

(Kavya-prakasha 1)My husband (vara) is the same who took my maidenhead
and these the moondrenched nights we knew;
the very breeze is blowing from the Vindhya hills,
heavy with the scent of newly blossomed jasmine.
I too am still the same;
and yet with all my heart I yearn for the reedbeds by the stream
which knew our happy, graceful,
unending bouts of love.

This verse was written about a mundane lover and his mistress, but Mahaprabhu recited it with great respectful feeling. No one could understand what was his hidden intention other than Svarupa Damodar.

The Lord repeated this verse again and again. No one but Svarupa Damodar could understand his intention.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.13.122)

When Rupa Goswami heard the Lord recite this verse, he himself composed a verse which revealed the deeper meaning which the Lord had envisioned. He wrote it down on a palm leaf and hid it in the roof of his cottage. The Lord somehow or other found this palm leaf and when he read it was overcome by prema.

When Mahaprabhu went to the residence of Srila Rupa Goswami, He accidentally saw the palm leaf on the roof, and thus He read the verse composed by him. After reading the verse, he went into a ecstatic mood. While he was in that state, Srila Rupa Goswami came and immediately fell down on the floor like a stick.

The Lord got up and gave him a slap. Then, he embraced him and began to speak as follows: “No one knows the purport of my verse. How could you understand my intention?” Saying this, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bestowed various blessings upon Rupa Goswami, and taking the verse, he later showed it to Svarupa Goswami. With great wonder, the Lord asked him how Rupa Goswami could have understood the intentions of his mind. Srila Svarupa Damodar Goswami replied, “If Rupa Goswami can understand your mind, I believe it must be the result of your special benediction.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.13.66-72)

Rupa Goswami’s verse was the following:

priyah so’yam krishnah sahacari kurukshetra-militas
tathaham sa radha tad idam ubhayoh sangama-sukham
tathapy antah-khelan-madhura-murali-païcama-jushe
mano me kalindi-pulina-vipinaya sprihayati

(Padyavali, 383)O companion! This is my beloved Krishna
meeting me here in Kurukshetra;
and I am the same Radha,
and both of us are feeling the joy of union.
Even so, my mind wishes for the forest
by the banks of the Yamuna
where the fifth note of his flute
plays sweetly within my heart.

Mahaprabhu’s vision was that the Jagannath temple was Kurukshetra and the Gundicha temple Vrindavan. In the mood of a gopi, he began to pull on Jagannath’s chariot, pulling him back to Vrindavan. Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami was able to understand all of these various moods that Mahaprabhu experienced during the Rathayatra.

The Lord had relished these topics in his room with Svarupa Damodar for days and nights. When he was overcome with this mood while dancing before the Lord’s chariot, he would repeat this verse while gazing upon Jagannath’s face. No one can describe Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami’s good fortune, for he was completely absorbed, body, mind and soul, in the Lord. His senses are the Lord’s senses, and he would sing so that the Lord could more deeply relish the sentiments of love.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.13.161-4)

Jagannath Deva lives in Dvaraka and desires to go once a year to Vrindavan. This is symbolized by the Rathayatra festival when he travels from the Jagannath temple (Dvaraka) to Gundicha (Vrind_vana). When he goes to Vrindavan, Jagannath does not take Lakshmi with him, because Lakshmi is not qualified to participate in the Vrindavan lila. Only the gopis have such qualifications, and Radha is the best of the gopis.

Shvarupa said, “Listen, my Lord, to the reason for this. Lakshmi does not have the right to participate in the games of Vrindavan. Krishna’s companions in the Vrindavan lila are the gopis, and there are none but they who can enchant his mind.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.14.122-3)

Amongst the gopis, Radha is the best. She is a treasure chest of jewels of love in the bright and spotless sentiment of conjugal love.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.14.160)

Jagannath mounted his chariot after telling Lakshmi that he would be back on the very next day. When Lakshmi saw that the Lord was late in returning, she became angry and gathering up her forces, sallied forth to attack her beloved. Her servants captured the servants of Lord Jagannath and brought them to her. Such lovers’ quarrels are not heard of anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, the mana (loving jealousy) of the gopis is superior to that of Lakshmi, and of all the gopis, that of Radha is the purest. When Mahaprabhu wished to hear about the gopis’ mana from Svarupa Damodar, Svarupa gave him great satisfaction by answering extensively. He was always able to please the Lord because he knew his wishes so intimately.

Excerpted from Chaitanya: His Life and Associates By Srila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Goswami