Prema Dhama Deva Stotram – Verses 17-20
His Divine Grace
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Narasiṅgha Sevaka Vivṛtti
by Tridaṇḍi Swami Bhakti Vijñāna Giri
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
śrī – beautiful; yati – sannyāsīs; īśa– Lord of; bhakta – devotee: veśa – form; rāḍha-deśa – the place known as Rāḍha; cārana – wandered on foot; kṛṣṇa-caitanya – Kṛṣṇa Caitanya; ākhya – name; kṛṣṇa-nāma – the Name of Kṛṣna; jīva – the jīvas; tārana – deliver; bhāva – in ecstasy; vibhrama – bewildered; ātma – within; matta – intoxicated; dhāvamāna – running; bhūdhara – a mountain; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva –indeed; naumi – I offer respects; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my respects unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. Accepting the form of a devotee, that beautiful Lord of sannyāsīs wandered on foot through Rāḍha-deśa. He was known as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and, taking the Name of Kṛṣṇa, He delivered the jīvas. As He ran, intoxicated and bewildered by divine ecstasy, He resembled a great mountain.
As mentioned in the commentary to the first verse, the Lord appeared as guptāvatāra, a hidden avatāra, in order to teach kṛṣṇa–bhakti to one and all. Thus, in this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja describes Him as bhakta-veśa (in the guise of a devotee). As yatīśa, the best of sannyāsīs, Mahāprabhu was able to fully manifest His ācārya-līlā in order to teach everyone proper Vaiṣṇava sadācāra (conduct), the correct siddhānta, and the standards for bhakti–sādhana.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja mentions How the Lord wandered through Rāḍha-deśa. Rāḍha-deśa refers to the tract of land in Bengal that lies between the Nagpur Plateau in the West and the Ganges Delta in the East. It was considered a barren area since the Gaṅgā did not flow there. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes that Mahāprabhu wandered through Rāḍha-deśa, desiring to travel to Vṛndāvana:
sannyāsa kari calilā prabhu śrī-vṛndāvana
premete vihvala bāhya nāhika smaraṇa
rāḍha-deśe tina dina karilā bhramaṇa
(After accepting sannyāsa, The Lord desired to go to Śrī Vṛndāvana. Overwhelmed with prema, He had no external remembrance, and for three days He wandered through Rāḍha-deśa. – Caitanya-Caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 1.91-92)
The second line of this verse is most significant. During His sannyāsa ceremony, Mahāprabhu was given the name ‘Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya.’ Rather than inheriting the Bhāratī title of his sannyāsa-guru, Mahāprabhu was given this name by Keśava Bhāratī. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata, Keśava Bhāratī tells the Lord:
yata jagatera tumi kṛṣṇa bolai
yā karāilā caitanya kīrtana prakāśiyā
eteke tomāra nāma śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya
sarva-loka tomā haite yāte haila dhanya
(You have made the world chant the name of Kṛṣṇa, and revealed the understanding of kīrtana to them. Thus, Your name will be Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. Because of You, all persons will be blessed. – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-līlā 28.175-176)
The word caitanya means ‘consciousness’ and ‘kṛṣṇa-caitanya’ means Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Mahāprabhu came to make the jīvas aware of Kṛṣṇa, and propagate the primary means of attaining Him, namely the yuga-dharma of nāma-saṅkīrtana. Thus, He was given the name Śrī Kṛṣna Caitanya.
However, there is another important consideration to be understood concerning the Lord’s sannyāsa name. Keśava Bhāratī specifies that His name would be Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya – not simply Kṛṣna Caitanya. The word śrī indicates Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Thus, the name ‘Śrī Kṛṣna Caitanya’ denotes four things – firstly, that Kṛṣna cannot be worshipped alone, but must be invoked along with His svarūpa-śakti. Secondly, since śrī is a prefix before the word kṛṣṇa, this suggests that one can only approach Him through that svarūpa-śakti. Thirdly, that Lord Caitanya is the combined form of Śrī and Kṛṣṇa (rādhā-kṛṣṇa milita tanu). And lastly, the name ‘Śrī Kṛṣna Caitanya’ indicates both the aspect of the yugāvatāra (making the jīvas conscious of Rādhā-Kṛṣna), as well as the Svayaṁ Bhagavān aspect of the Lord as Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa combined. This is the significance of Mahāprabhu’s sannyāsa title.
In the third line, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is compared to a mountain (bhūdhara). We find similar descriptions by the previous ācāryas:
āchāḍa khāñā paḍe bhūme gaḍi’ yāya
suvarṇa-parvata yaiche bhūmete loṭāya
(When the Lord would fall and roll on the ground, it was as if a golden mountain was rolling on the earth. – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 13.85)
pekhalu gaura-candra naṭarāja
jaṅgama hema, dharādhara uyala
(I have seen Gauracandra, the king of dancers! How has He become like a golden mountain walking in the middle of Navadvīpa? – Govinda Dāsa Kavirāja)
gatiṁ dṛṣṭvā yasya pramada-gaja-varye ‘khila-janā
mukhaṁ ca śrī-candropari dadhati thūtkāra-nivaham
sva-kāntyā yaḥ svarṇācalam adharayac chīdhu ca vacas-
taraṅgair gaurāṅgo hṛdaya udayan mām madayati
(Whoever sees His graceful movements will condemn the movements of an elephant in rut, and upon seeing His beautiful face, they will show disdain at the moon. He is as beautiful as a golden mountain, and the words emanating from His lips are like waves of nectar. Such thoughts of Śrī Gaurāṅga arise within my heart and madden me. – Śrīla Dāsa Gosvāmī’s Śrī Gaurāṅga Stava Kalpa-vṛkṣa)
In connection to this, elsewhere Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahāraja has compared Mahāprabhu to a ‘golden volcano.’ Not only is He like a mountain, but He is also emitting the fire of viraha – intense separation from Kṛṣna. This will be explored further in Verse 54.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
śrī-gadādhara – Gadādhara Paṇḍita; ādi – and others; nityānanda – Nityānanda Prabhu; saṅga – association; vardhana – increase; advaya – Advaita; akhya – known as; bhakta – devotee; mukhya – best; vāñchita – desire; artha – purpose; sādhana – fulfill; kṣetra – Jagannātha Puri; vāsa – remain; sa – He; abhilāṣa – wish; mātṛ – Śacī Mātā; toṣa – please; tatpara – intention; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer respects; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my respects unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. In the association of Gadādhara, Nityānanda and others, the Lord increased the good fortune of the jīvas. He had appeared in order to fulfill the desire of Advaita, the best of devotees and He also fulfilled His mother’s wish that He remain in Jagannātha Purī.
Some devotees have translated the first line of this verse to mean that “The Lord’s company led by Gadādhara, Nityānanda and others increased.” Although there is nothing essentially wrong with this translation, it provides no context to the following two lines referring to His fulfilment of Advaita and Śacī Mātā’s desires. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja has used the word vardhana (to increase), indicating that Mahāprabhu and His associates increased the good fortune of all and fulfilled the spiritual desires of the devotees.
The name of Gadādhara Paṇḍita is mentioned first since Gadādhara is the topmost devotee of Mahāprabhu. Śrī Gadādhara represents the aspects of mādhurya and audārya in gaura-līlā. The next name mentioned is Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu who denotes sakhya and audārya. The third line mentions Śrī Advaita Ācārya who represents dāsya-rasa. Finally, in the last line, Śrīla Śridhara Mahārāja mentions Śacī Mātā who represents vātsalya–rasa in gaura-līlā. In this way, we find all the five primary rasas found in kṛṣṇa-līlā are accommodated within Mahāprabhu’s pastimes.
The third line (kṣetra-vāsa-sābhilāṣa-mātṛ-toṣa-tatpara) refers to Mahāprabhu’s promise to Śacī Mātā that He would remain in Purī-kṣetra. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā Chapter 3, Mahāprabhu tells the grieving devotees that even after taking sannyāsa, He cannot remain indifferent to them, yet it is improper for a sannyāsī to remain at his birthplace. He requested the devotees to find a solution, and headed by Advaita Prabhu, they approached Śacī Mātā to ask her advice. Naturally, Śacī Mātā didn’t want her dear son to leave Navadvīpa, but simultaneously neither did she want society to censure Him as a sannyāsi remaining in His place of birth. Therefore, Śacī Devī said:
tāte ei yukti bhāla mora mane laya
nīlācale rahe yadi dui kārya haya
nīlācale navadvīpe yena dui ghara
loka-gatāgati-vārtā pāba nirantara
(Thus I think there is a solution. If He remains in Nīlācala both purposes will be achieved. Nīlācala and Navadvīpa are like two rooms – people come and go between them, and I will always get some news of Him. – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 1.183)
Thus, when the devotees returned to Mahāprabhu and informed Him, He was extremely happy and He made arrangements to travel to Purī.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
nyāsi-rāja – king of sannyāsīs; nīla-śaila – Jagannātha Purī; vāsa – residence; sārvabhauma – Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya; pa – great; dākṣinātya – South India; tīrtha – holy places; jāta – various; bhakta – devotees; kalpa – desires; pādapa – tree; rāma – Rāmānanda Rāya; megha – cloud; rāga-bhakti – spontaneous devotion; vṛṣti – rain; śakti – power; sañcara – transmit; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer respects; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my respects unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. That king of sannyāsīs travelled to Jagannātha Purī where He resided with the great Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. In South India, at the various holy places, He was like a desire-tree for all the devotees. There He met with Rāmānanda Rāya, who was like a raincloud, and He empowered him to produce a shower of spontaneous bhakti.
This verse is a synopsis of the next ten verses narrating Mahāprabhu’s discussions with Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, His travels in South India and His meeting with Rāmānanda Rāya.
In this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja refers to Jagannātha Purī as nīla-śaila (blue mountain). Purī is known as Nīlācala, Nīlagiri or Nīlādri – however, there are no mountains in the vicinity of Purī, thus there are many theories as to why Purī is known by this title. One hypothesis is that thousands of years ago, Purī was built on a hill, but as time went on, drifting sands and sediment changed the shape of the area considerably. Another theory is that when the Bhauma Dynasty of Assam invaded Orissa in the 8th Century CE, they named it after the area in Assam where the Kāmākhyā temple is located. However, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gives his own theory:
“Rāja Anaṅga-bhīma erected the temple about 800 years ago in place of the old temple, which was in a state of dilapidation. In old accounts, we find the former temple was called Nīlādri, the blue hill. It appears that the former temple, which was probably built by the eminent Rāja Indradyumna was blue or a dark colour. Otherwise, we cannot account for the name Nīlācala, unless the name was taken from the Nīlāgiri Hills, which is a small range running through the province from one end to the other.” (The Temple of Jagannātha at Purī)
Upon arriving in Purī, Mahāprabhu stayed at the residence of the great scholar Vāsudeva Bhaṭṭācārya. The Bhaṭṭācārya was known as Sārvabhauma – an academic title meaning ‘emperor of the world’ since his knowledge was so vast that nobody could defeat him. He was originally born in Vidyānagara, close to Navadvīpa, and his father was a classmate of Mahāprabhu’s grandfather. When he was young, Vāsudeva Bhaṭṭācārya travelled to Mithila, which was, at that time, the centre of the Navya–Nyāya philosophy. There, under the logician Pakṣadhara Miśra, he studied the famous composition Tattva–cintāmaṇi by Gaṅgeśa Upadhyāya. Miśra was very protective of Mithila’s academic fame and its monopoly on Nyāya. His students had to take a solemn vow never to make a copy of the Tattva–cintāmaṇi. In fact, the only version of the work was jealously guarded by Pakṣadhara Miśra who kept it under lock and key. It is said that eventually, Miśra tested the young Bhaṭṭācārya by picking pages of the Tattva-cintāmaṇi at random and asked him to expound on them. However, Vāsudeva Bhaṭṭācārya had completely memorised the entire work. Pakṣadhara Miśra tested him a hundred times, and each time Bhaṭṭācārya was successful. Thus, he was awarded the title ‘sārvabhauma.’ He returned to Navadvīpa where he wrote a commentary on the Tattva-cintāmaṇi and taught the system of Navya-Nyāya as well as Śaṅkara’s Advaita Vedānta. Hearing of his vast knowledge, Mahāraja Pratāparudra invited him to Purī to become the main scholar of his court. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya’s erudition was so great that, he even though he was a householder, he taught Nyāya and Vedānta to sannyāsīs. In Gaura-gaṇoddeśa Dīpikā, Śrīla Kavi Karṇapūra writes:
bhaṭṭācāryaḥ sārvabhaumaḥ purāsīd gīṣpatir divi
(Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was previously Bṛhaspati, the guru of the Devas. – Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā 119)
More will be said of Vāsudeva Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya in the next verse.
After remaining in Purī for some time, Mahāprabhu decided to travel to South India. This episode is narrated in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, Chapters 7-9. Śrī Caitanyadeva visited all the major holy places and blessed all the devotees of various sampradāyas there.
When He arrived at Rajamahendravaram on the banks of the Godāvarī in Andhra Pradeśa, He met the great devotee, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya. Rāmānanda was a kāyastha from Orissa, whose family name was Paṭṭanāyaka – Rāya was an honorary title given to the members of his family by Mahārāja Pratāparudra. Rāmānanda Rāya served Pratāparudra as the governor of Rajamahendravaram. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya had recommended that Mahāprabhu should meet Rāmānanda when He came to South India. Their meeting will be elaborated upon in verses 24-26.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
dhvasta – destroy; sārvabhauma – Sārvabhauma; vāda – philosophy; navya-tarka – the Navya-Nyāya philosophy; śāńkara – Śaṅkarācārya; dhvasta – destroy; tad – that; vivarta-vāda – the philosophy of Vivartavāda; dānavīya – demonic; ḍambara – proud; darśita – seen; artha – meaning; sarva – all; śāstra – the śāstra; kṛṣṇa-bhakti – devotion to Kṛṣṇa; mandira – temple; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer respects; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my respects unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. While arguing with Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, He demolished the Navya-Nyāya philosophy and destroyed the evil verbosity of the Vivartavāda doctrine of Śaṅkara. He then explained to the Bhaṭṭācārya that the entire śāstra must be seen as a temple of kṛṣṇa-bhakti.
When Mahāprabhu arrived in Purī, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya saw Him as a young sannyāsī who was bereft of any knowledge of Vedānta, thus he felt it was his duty to teach Him. Sārvabhauma advocated the Vivartavāda philosophy of Ādi Śaṅkarārcārya, and this was what he tried to teach the Lord.
For seven days, he spoke on Vedānta and Mahāprabhu was silent. Eventually, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya became curious as to why the Lord did not speak or ask any questions. Upon being asked if He had understood so far, Mahāprabhu replied:
prabhu kahe sūtrera artha bujhiye nirmala
tomāra vyākhyā śuni mana haya ta vikala
sūtrera artha bhāṣya kahe prakāśiyā
tumi bhāṣya kaha sūtrera artha ācchādiyā
sūtrera mukhya artha nā karaha vyākhyāna
kalpanārthe tumi tāhā kara ācchādana
(The Lord said, “I understand the sūtras clearly. However, hearing your explanation depresses Me. Upon speaking the sūtras, the true meaning manifests. Your commentary however covers the meaning of the sūtras. You are not explaining the direct meaning of the sūtras. You cover them with your imaginative explanations.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 6.130-132)
During the course of their conversation, Mahāprabhu mentioned a famous śloka from the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (ātmārāmaś ca munayo) and asked Sārvabhauma to explain it. The Bhaṭṭācārya then gave nine different explanations based upon the Navya Nyāya philosophy. Mahāprabhu then gave eighteen explanations according to the school of bhakti, thoroughly defeating Sārvabhauma. Mahāprabhu’s explanation on the ātmārāma śloka will be discussed in verse 50.
As mentioned above, Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya championed Śaṅkārācārya’s doctrine of Vivartavāda. In Sanskrit, the word vivarta means misapprehension or illusion. Vivartavāda is the theory that everything is an illusion created by māyā, or as Śaṅkara states, brahma-satyaṁ jagan-mithyā jīvo-brahmaiva nāparaḥ (‘only Brahman is real, the world as we perceive it is false, and there is no difference between the jīva and Brahman’). The general example given by followers of Śaṅkara is the rajju-sarpa-nyāya, the analogy of a rope being mistaken for a snake in the dark. Similarly, when the jīva is covered by the darkness of avidyā, he is under the impression that everything around him (including his body and mind) is reality, when in fact the totality of everything is māyā. This is called adhyāsa, or a superimposition. Vivartavāda thus postulates that all the elements that comprise the universe are in fact unreal, but by cultivating brahma–jñāna, the jīva breaks through this adhyāsa superimposed by māyā and eventually realises that he is ultimately Brahman. Vaiṣṇavas do not accept this theory. Firstly, the rope-snake example is a weak analogy. In the dark, a rope may be mistaken for a snake, but this obviously implies that the perceiver has had prior experience of a snake. In other words, a snake must exist. Similarly, the world, and all its attributes, also exists. Furthermore, in this analogy there are three elements – a rope, an illusory snake and a perceiver. If the world is meant to be the illusory snake and Brahman is the rope, then who is the perceiver? Whoever is the perceiver has the discriminatory intelligence in order to understand his mistake. Is the discriminatory intelligence of the perceiver real or is it false?
Also, if the jīvātmā is factually Brahman, what caused him to become covered by avidyā? How is the all-knowing, all-powerful Brahman overcome by māyā? How is māyā intrinsically greater than Brahman, and at what point in time did this māyā–śakti bewilder Brahman? Can such a bewilderment occur again once one realises his original position as Brahman? Vivartavāda simply gives rise to more and more questions because it is inherently flawed. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja describes Vivartavāda as dānavīya-ḍamvara. A Dānava is a demon, thus dānavīya means ‘demonic’. Ḍamvara means pride, or boastful. In the Gītā, Śrī Kṛṣna says:
dambho darpo’bhimānaś ca krodhaḥ pāruṣyam eva ca
ajñānaṁ cābhijātasya pārtha sampadam āsurīm
(“Pride, arrogance, conceit, anger, cruelty and ignorance – these are the qualities manifest in one born of a demonic nature.” Bhagavad-gītā 16.4)
Thus, those who accept the philosophy of Śaṅkara ultimately have an innate demonic nature because of their desire to be Supreme. Śaṅkarācārya is an avatāra of Śiva, who is known by the name Bhūtanātha (the Lord of ghosts and demons). Thus, those that flock around the doctrine of Vivartavāda are true followers of Bhūtanātha.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja uses the word dhvasta twice in this verse. Dhvasta means to devastate, and Mahāprabhu completely devastated the arguments of Sārvabhauma related to Nyāya and Vivartavāda. However, a preacher should not simply desire to conquer an opponent – such a mentality can lead to pride which, as we have already explained above, is a demonic trait. One must counteract a negative philosophy by presenting a positive alternative. Thus, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja concludes the verse by saying, darśitārtha-sarva-śāstra-kṛṣṇa-bhakti-mandiraṁ – “He explained to the Bhaṭṭācārya that the entire śāstra must be seen as a temple of kṛṣṇa-bhakti.”As the Padma Purāṇa states:
smartavyaḥ satatam viṣṇor vismartavyo na jātucit
sarve vidhi-niṣedhāḥ syur etayor eva kiṅkaraḥ
(“Viṣṇu should always be remembered and never forgotten at anytime. All rules and regulations mentioned in the Vedic literature should be subservient to these two principles.” – Padma Purāṇa 6.71.100)
The entire śāstra deals with three topics, namely sambandha (one’s relationship with Kṛṣna), abhidheya (the method of reviving that relationship) and prayojana (the achievement of that relationship). Comprehending sambandha-jñāna is the first necessity of a conditioned jīva. Without this, one becomes bewildered by various unauthorised doctrines such as Vivartavāda, Buddhism etc. Once the foundation of sambandha-jñāna is strong, the jīva can proceed to build a wonderful temple for Kṛṣṇa within his heart with the bricks of abhidheya-tattva, and finally reach the prayojana.
In this way, Śrīman Mahāprabhu has given the perfect example of a preacher of bhakti by dismantling the false temple of Vivartavāda and Nyāya, and presenting the true śāstrika foundation of bhakti–sambandha.