Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)
By Published On: November 25, 2022Tags: 27 min read

In verses 33 to 36 of Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Swami B.V. Giri expounds upon Mahāprabhu's return to Bengal and the effect it had on His mother, Śacī Devī and the residents of Gauḍa-deśa. The Lord's meeting with Rūpa-Sanātana and His travels through the forest of Jhāḍakhaṇḍa are also explained.

Prema Dhama Deva Stotram – Verses 33-36

by
His Divine Grace
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja

with the
Narasiṅgha Sevaka Vivṛtti
by Tridaṇḍi Swami Bhakti Vijñāna Giri

Verse 33

gaura-garvi-sarva-gauḍa-gauravārtha-sajjitaṁ
śāstra-śāstra-dakṣa-duṣṭa-nāstikādi-lajjitam
muhyamāna-mātṛkādi-deha-jīva-sañcaraṁ
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram

Word for Word

gaura – Gaurāṅga; garvi – proud; sarva – all; gauḍa – the land of Gauḍa; gaurava – respect; artha – for; sajjita – prepared; śāstra-śāstra – various śāstra; dakṣa – expert; duṣṭa – wicked; nāstika – atheists ādi – etc; lajjita – embarrassed; muhyamāna – becoming senseless; mātṛka – mother; ādi – and others; deha – bodies; jīva – life; sañcara – transferred; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaurasundara – Gaurasundara.

TRANSLATION

I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. Being proud of Śrī Gaura, the entire land of Bengal made preparations to glorify Him, and the various atheists, who were so expert in śāstra, became ashamed. He gave life back to the bodies of His mother and the other devotees who had become practically unconscious.

Commentary

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s return to Gauḍa-deśa is narrated in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā Chapter 16, Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya-khaṇḍa Chapter 4, Caitanya-maṅgala, Śeṣa-khaṇḍa Chapter 3, and the fourth Prakrama, 14th Sarga of Kṛṣna Caitanya-carita Mahā-Kavya by Śrī Murāri Gupta.

On His way to Vṛndāvana, Mahāprabhu arrived in Navadvīpa, and all the residents there who had endured great separation from the Lord, again felt as if their life had returned to them, especially His mother, Śacī Devī (muhyamāna-mātṛkādi-deha-jīva-sañcara). However, seeing Him as a sannyāsī caused her great pain. Śrīla Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura describes the pitiful state of Śacī when she saw her Son again at the house of Advaita Ācārya in Śāntipura:

vihvala haiyā śacī dhāya urddhva-mukhe
āulāila keśa vastra nāhi deya buke
kothā mora viśvambhara dekha mo nayāne
puna cumba diba mui se cānda vayane
nadīyā nagare āila āmāra nimāi
dhariyā rākhaha loka kichu doṣa nāi
sabākāra prāṇa sei sei mātra jiu
prāṇa vinā dharma rakṣā e kemane hau
ei-mate kahite kahite gelā tathā
dekhila ta gaura-candra basiyache yathā
prabhura dekhiyā bale śuna-re nimāī
ghare āya bāpa mora sannyāse kāja nāī
sannyāsa kariyā dharma rākhibe to pācchu
mora vadha āge lāge āra saba pācchu
vihvala cetana śacī kānde ubharāya
sakala śarīra-khāni eka-dṛṣṭe cāya
śacīra kāndanā śuni pṛthivī vidare
āchuka mānuṣera kāma e pāṣāṇā jhure

(In distress, Śacī ran towards Him, with disheveled hair and dress. She said, “Where is my Visvambhara? I want to see Him with my own eyes and once more kiss His beautiful moon-like face. My Nimai has returned to the town of Nadīyā! Please hold Him down, people! There is no fault if you do so. He is the very life of everyone. Without that life, how can we maintain our dharma?” Saying this, Śacī then went and saw Gauracandra who was sitting down. Seeing the Lord, she said, “O Nimāi, listen! Come home, son. Don’t be a sannyāsī any more. By taking sannyāsa You have neglected Your dharma. After I die You can do all these things.” Śacī, disturbed and weeping, simply gazed at His body. Hearing Śacī’s crying, the earth split open. Not only humans, but even stones melted.)

Mahāprabhu then pacified His mother, who forgot all social etiquette and finally embraced and kissed her darling son.

sā cumbatī kṛṣṇa-mukhāravinda
siñca ta vatsala-bhakti-nīraiḥ
catur-vidhenāpi rasena cānna
sambhojayitvā mudam āpa vatsalā

(“She then kissed the lotus face of Kṛṣṇa [Caitanya] and sprinkled Him with tears of maternal bhakti. Then she made Him eat four types of food and derived great joy from that.” – Kṛṣna Caitanya-carita Mahā-Kavya, 4.14.5)

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja writes in the second line of this verse, śāstra-śāstra-dakṣa-duṣṭa-nāstikādi-lajjita – ‘the various atheists, who were so expert in śāstra, became ashamed.’ In the Caitanya-bhāgavata, Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura narrates how when the residents of Gauḍa-deśa were rushing to see the Lord, some of them exclaimed:

keha bale muñi tāna nā jānoṅ mahimāyata
nindā kariyāchoṅ tāra nāhi sīmā

ebe tāna pāda-padma dhariyā hṛdaye
māgimu ki-rūpe mora se pāpa ghucaye

(Some said, “I did not know His glories, therefore I offended Him without limit. Now I will hold His lotus feet to my heart and beg Him to deliver me from those offences.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya-khaṇḍa 3.299)

This line (śāstra-śāstra-dakṣa-duṣṭa-nāstikādi-lajjita) also alludes to Mahāprabhu’s līlā in Kuliyā where he forgave Devānanda Paṇḍita and Cāpāla Gopāla, who had made offences to the Vaiṣṇavas.

Devānanda Paṇḍita was a brāhmaṇa possessing many good qualities and was a professional reciter of the Bhāgavatam. However, despite his erudition in the Bhāgavatam, he was not a Vaiṣṇava, and considered the goal of human life to be mukti, not kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Before the advent of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura came the home of Devānanda to hear him recite the Bhāgavatam. As he listened, Śrīvāsa became absorbed in a mood of kṛṣṇa-prema and began to cry. Seeing this, the disciples of Devānanda considered him to be creating a disturbance, thus they picked him up and threw him out of the assembly. Although Devānanda observed these proceedings, he did not object and continued with his recitation. Therefore, Devānanda was responsible for this offense to Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura. Thus it is said in the Nīti-darpaṇa:

rājā rāṣṭra-kṛtaṁ pāpaṁ rājñaḥ pāpaṁ purohitaḥ
bhartā ca strī-kṛtaṁ pāpaṁ śiṣya-pāpaṁ gurus tathā

(The sins of the subjects are suffered by the king; the king’s sins by the rāja-guru; the wife’s sins by the husband and the disciple’s sins by the guru. – Nīti-darpaṇa 6.10)

Despite his constant study of the Bhāgavatam, Devānanda was devoid of any proper understanding of bhakti, thus his disciples were also ignorant. The disciples made an offence to the exalted Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, and their guru said nothing to counteract their unacceptable act. Thus, Devānanda and his students were all guilty of Vaiṣṇava aparādha. From this, one can understand that mere learning, even of bhakti-śāstra, is not enough. One also has to behave like a proper Vaiṣṇava and imbibe the words of the Bhāgavatam.

A short time later, Mahāprabhu was passing by the house of Devānanda Paṇḍita and noticed that he was giving a discourse on the Bhāgavatam. Mahāprabhu remembered what had happened to Śrīvāsa and became enraged. Shouting at Devānanda, He said:

aye aye devānanda! bali ye tomāre
tumi ebe bhāgavata paḍāo sabāre
ye śrīvāse dekhite gaṅgāra manoratha
hena-jana gelā śunibāre bhāgavata
kon aparādhe tāne śiṣya hāthāiyā
bāḍīra bāhire lañā eḍilāṭāniyā?
bhāgavata śunite ye kānde kṛṣṇa-rase
ṭāniyā phelite ki tāhāra yogya āise
bujhilāma tumi se paḍāo bhāgavata
kona janme nā jānaha grantha-abhimata

(“O Devānanda! I will tell you something – now you are reciting the Bhāgavata to everyone. But Śrīvāsa, whom even the Gaṅgā desires to see, once went to hear the Bhāgavata from you. What offence did he make that your disciples threw him out of your house? Is it proper to throw someone out who hears the Bhāgavata and is crying with kṛṣṇa-rasa? I understand now that even though you recite the Bhāgavata, you have not understood the meaning of that book in any lifetime.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 21.67-72)

Ṭhākura Vṛndāvana Dāsa explains however, that Devānanda Paṇḍita was extremely fortunate. Firstly, he was personally reprimanded by the Lord Himself, thus his good fortune was awakened. Secondly, after Mahāprabhu accepted sannyāsa, Devānanda hosted the great devotee Vakreśvara Paṇḍita and served him in various ways. By the association of Vakreśvara, Devānanda was purified, understood his offence and attained devotion to Kṛṣna and Mahāprabhu. When Mahāprabhu returned to Bengal and came to Kuliyā, Devānanda came to see Him, but felt ashamed. The Lord however, was very happy to see Devānanda Paṇḍita and had him sit next to Him. Mahāprabhu told him that he was only able to see Him because of his service to Vakreśvara. Devānanda offered prayers to the Lord and was forgiven for his offence.

Another offender who was delivered by the Lord in Kuliyā was the brāhmaṇa Gopāla Bhaṭṭācārya, otherwise known as Gopāla Cāpāla. During Mahāprabhu’s saṅkīrtana-līlā at the home of Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, many non-devotees wished to see the dancing of the Lord, but were never given entry. One of these persons was Gopāla Cāpāla. Upon being refused admittance, he became very insulted and envious and decided to ruin the reputation of Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura. He gathered together some items used in the Tantrika worship of Goddess Kālī such as wine, meat, red hibiscus flowers etc. and placed them outside the home of Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura at night. When Śrīvāsa opened the door the next morning, he saw the paraphernalia and loudly declared to all his neighbours, “Look! Every night I worship Goddess Kālī. All you respectable brāhmaṇas can understand my glories now!” Naturally, knowing the position and personality of Śrīvāsa, nobody accepted this and were outraged that somebody could try to defame him. Three days later, Gopāla Cāpāla contracted leprosy. There were open sores all over his body, which were covered in flies and insects that constantly bit him. Gopāla felt great pain and anxiety. He was forced to leave the town and he lived under a tree on the banks of the Gaṅgā. One day, he saw Mahāprabhu passing by and begged Him for His mercy. However, Gopāla only desired deliverance from bodily misery, and had no understanding of the true cause of his real suffering. Mahāprabhu angrily told him:

āre pāpi bhakta-dveṣi tore na uddhārimu
koṭi-janma ei mate kīḍāya khāoyāimu
śrīvāse karāili tui bhavānī-pūjana
koṭi janma habe tora raurave patana

(“O vile wretch! Offender of devotees! I will never deliver you! I will make sure you are bitten by these insects for millions of births! You have made it look as if Śrīvāsa is worshipping Kālī. For this, you will fall into the darkest regions of the lower planets of Raurava for millions of births.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 17.51-52)

Years later, when the Lord came to Kuliyā, Gopāla again approached Him and the Mahāprabhu instructed him as follows:

śrīvāsa paṇḍitera sthāne āche aparādha
tathā yāha, teṅho yadi karena prasāda
tabe tora habe ei pāpa-vimocana
yadi punaḥ aiche nāhi kara ācaraṇa

(“You have made an offence to Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita. Go to him, and if he gives his mercy and you do not act in such a way again, then you will be delivered from your vice.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 17.57-58)

Gopāla Cāpāla immediately approached Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura and took shelter of his feet, and thus he was freed from his offence. Gopāla Cāpāla later took initiation from Puruṣottama Ṭhākura, an intimate associate of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, and received the name Devakīnandana Dāsa. He wrote two books, Vaiṣṇava-vandana and Vaiṣṇavābhidhāna, both of which glorify the Vaiṣṇavas.

From these two examples of Devānanda Paṇḍita and Gopāla Cāpāla, one can understand the severity of Vaiṣṇava aparādha. Of all offences, Vaiṣṇava aparādha is the most serious. It completely blocks one’s advancement in bhakti, not only in this birth, but for many lifetimes to come. No doubt, the external punishment of being stricken with leprosy or any other disease as a result of aparādha seems to be a terrible reaction, yet it pales in comparison to losing one’s connection to Kṛṣṇa and His devotees. Only by the special grace of the Vaiṣṇava, Mahāprabhu and the Holy Name can one overcome such a grievous offence.

One particular good quality that both Devānanda Paṇḍita and Gopāla Cāpāla shared was their simplicity. When they eventually understood that they had made an offence, they desired to rectify it. However, one who is full of pride, who refuses to admit his offence and thinks that he can make any spiritual advancement is doomed to fail.

In this regard, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura explains in the third chapter of his Mādhurya Kādambinī that in order to nullify one’s offence to a Vaiṣnava, one must go to that devotee and sincerely beg forgiveness. If however the aparādha is so heinous that the Vaiṣṇava remains angry and does not pardon one’s offence, one should repent, give up all other activities, and take full refuge in the Holy Name. Nevertheless, Śrīla Cakravartīpāda also gives the following warning:

kiṁ me muhur muhur eva pāda patanādibhiḥ svāpakarṣa svīkāreṇa ‘nāmāparādha yuktānāṁ nāmānyeva harantyagham’ ityasyaiva paramopāyaḥ sa eva samāśrayaṇīya iti bhāvanāyāṁ pūrvad eva punar api nāmāparādhaḥ.

(“Why should I try and purify myself by prostrating again and again at his feet? I should accept that the Holy Name destroys the vices of those who have committed offences to the Name [nāmāparādha yuktānāṁ nāmānyeva harantyagham]? Since it is the greatest means of deliverance, I will just take shelter of the Name!” – such thinking again makes one guilty of nāmāparādha!)

In other words, when one’s false ego is so great, he avoids begging forgiveness from a Vaiṣṇava and fools himself into thinking that the Holy Name will deliver him from his offence. Thus, not only does one commit Vaiṣṇava aparādha, but is also guilty of nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhir (performing impious acts on the strength of chanting the Holy Name).

Verse 34

nyāsa-pañca-varṣa-pūrṇa-janma-bhūmi-darśanaṁ
koṭi-koṭi-loka-lubdha-mugdha-dṛṣṭi-karṣaṇam
koṭi-kaṇṭha-kṛṣṇa-nāma-ghoṣa-bheditāmbaraṁ
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram

Word for Word

nyāsasannyāsa; pañca – five; varṣa – years; pūrṇa – complete; janma-bhūmi – birthplace; darśana – saw; koṭi-koṭi – thousands; loka – people; lubdha – eager; mugdha – enchanted; dṛṣṭi – vision; karṣaṇa – attracted; koṭi – thousands; kaṇṭha – voices; kṛṣṇa-nāma – the Name of Kṛṣna; ghoṣa – sound; bhedita – pierce; ambara – directions; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaurasundara – Gaurasundara.

TRANSLATION

I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. After completing five years of sannyāsa, the Lord saw His birthplace once more. The eyes of thousands upon thousands of people were enchanted with the eagerness of seeing the all-attractive Lord, and the sound of thousands of voices chanting the Names of Kṛṣṇa was so tumultuous that it pierced the skies.

Commentary

When Mahāprabhu returned to Gauḍa-deśa, thousands upon thousands of people rushed to see Him. Although the Lord had planned to go to Vṛndāvana in an unpretentious fashion, wherever He went in Bengal, He was followed by huge crowds. Śrīla Vāsudeva Ghoṣa, an associate of the Lord, has written a song describing the intensity of love shown by the devotees to the Lord:

dhāola nadīyā-loka gaurāṅga dekhite
ānanda ākula citta na pāre calite

(The people of Nadīyā ran to see Gaurāṅga with their hearts filled with joy.)

cira-dinera gora-cāṅda-vadana heriyā
tṛṣita-cātaka-āṅkhi rahala mātiyā

(After so long, they could not move upon seeing the moon-like face of Gora, and the parched cātaka birds of their eyes were overjoyed.)

ānande bhakata-gaṇa heriyā vibhora
jananī dhaiyā gara-cāṅde kare kora

(The devotees were absorbed in bliss, and Śacī ran and cradled Gora-cāṅda in her lap)

marana-śarīre yenā pāila parāṇa
gaurāṅga nadīyā-pure vāsu-ghoṣa gāna

(Dead bodies have again attained life! Thus Vāsu Ghoṣa sings about Gaurāṅga’s return to the town of Nadīyā.)

While the Lord was travelling in Bengal, He stayed at the homes of Advaita Ācārya, Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, Śivānanda Sena, Vāsudeva Datta, Vidyā-Vācaspati, and Mādhava Dāsa. Sometimes, so many people were following Him that there was no space to walk. When the Lord crossed the river, thousands simply jumped in and swam across on logs, upturned pots, banana trees etc. Others tried to jump into boats which eventually broke apart due to the weight of too many people. Jungles were cleared, roads were excavated, and people ran through thorny forests as more and more people arrived. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja writes, koṭi-kaṇṭha-kṛṣṇa-nāma-ghoṣa-bheditāmbara (‘the sound of thousands of voices chanting the Names of Kṛṣṇa was so tumultuous that it pierced the skies’). This is also confirmed by Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura:

catur-dike sarva-loka kare hari-dhvani
brahmāṇḍa bhedaye yena hena mata śuni

(All the people in the four directions chanted the Name of Hari, and the sound vibration penetrated the entire universe. – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya-khaṇḍa 3.310)

koṭi koṭi loke hena hari-dhvani kare
svarga-martya-pātālādi sarva-loka pūre

(Millions upon millions of people chanted the name of Hari, and it filled Svarga, Martya, and Pātāla and all the planetary systems. – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya-khaṇḍa 3.350)

This particular verse of Prema-dhāma Deva Stotram is especially significant because of the ecstatic mood of gaura-prema that Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja experienced while composing it. He himself explains:

“When I was composing this poem, I tried to picture when Mahāprabhu came here, and suddenly I felt that He is here, and I could not check my tears. Some presence of Him I felt in my heart at that time. That I saw. The sannyāsīns, sometimes after sannyāsa, they visit their home. So following that, He came to Navadvīpa after five years – nyāsa-pañca-varṣa-pūrṇa-janma-bhūmi-darśanaṁ. And, koṭi-loka-lubdha-mugdha-dṛṣṭi-karṣanam – millions of eyes gave their attention. Millions of eyes were attracted by Him. Lubdha means very greedy, and mugdha means enchanted. Earnest, and with a charmed heart, they came to see Him in their millions – loka-lubdha-mugdha-dṛṣṭi-karṣanam. He attracted such attention that with their earnest and enchanted look, they came to have His darśana. And, koṭi-kaṇṭha-kṛṣṇa-nāma-ghoṣa-bheditāmbaraṁ – whoever came towards Him began to chant, “Hari Haribol!” That loud chorus, that congregational Name, came.” (April 16th, 1982)


Verse 35

ārta-bhakta-śoka-śānti-tāpi-pāpi-pāvanaṁ
lakṣa-koṭi-loka-saṅga-kṛṣṇa-dhāma-dhāvanam
rāma-keli-sāgrajāta-rūpa-karṣaṇādaraṁ
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram

Word for Word

ārta – distressed; bhakta – devotees; śoka – grief; śānti – relief; tāpi – remorseful; pāpi – wicked; pāvana – deliver; lakṣa – thousands; koṭi – millions; loka – people; saṅga – accompanied; kṛṣṇadhāma – Vṛndāvana, the land of Kṛṣṇa; dhāvana – ran; rāma-keli – Rāmakeli; sa – with; agrajāta – older brother; rūpa – Rūpa Gosvāmi; karṣaṇa – attracted; adara – great; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaurasundara – Gaurasundara.

TRANSLATION

I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. The Lord relieved the anxiety of the distressed devotees, and delivered those wicked persons who felt remorse. As He ran towards Vṛndāvana, the abode of Kṛṣṇa, He was followed by millions of people. In Rāmakeli, He was greatly attracted to Rūpa and his elder brother.

Commentary

As mentioned in the previous two verses, when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu returned to the land of Gauḍa, He pacified the devotees who had felt great anxiety (arta-bhakta-śoka-śānti) due to intense separation from Him. The feelings of the people of Navadvīpa-dhāma can be compared to those felt by the Vraja-vāsīs when Kṛṣna left Vṛndāvana-dhāma.

dīvyatīha madhure mathurāyāṁ
prāpya rājyam adhunā madhu-nāthe
viśvam eva muditaṁ ruditāndhe
gokule tu muhur ākulatābhūt

(Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of sweetness, having now attained a kingdom in beautiful Mathurā, has satisfied the world. But the residents of Gokula constantly weep and faint and have thus become completely bewildered. – Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 3.3.126)

Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa returned to Vraja, the residents felt that His absence had simply been a bad dream:

vraje viharamāṇe’smin prādurbhūya harau tadā
bhavet tasya pure yātrā svapnavad vraja-vāsinām

(When Hari returned to Vraja, the inhabitants, who had felt separation from Him, considered His journey to Mathurā to be a dream. – Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta, pūrva-khaṇḍa 472)

The words tāpi-pāpi-pāvana (‘He delivered those wicked persons who felt remorse’) has been discussed in detail in the previous verse.

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja then writes, lakṣa-koṭi-loka-saṅga-kṛṣṇa-dhāma-dhāvana (‘As He ran towards Vṛndāvana, the abode of Kṛṣṇa, He was followed by millions of people’). Mahāprabhu desired to travel to Vṛndāvana through Bengal inconspicuously, but this was not possible due to the crowds of people following Him, thus, the Lord was forced to return to Purī. Later the Lord recollected His journey through Bengall:

vṛndāvana yāba āmi gauḍa-deśa diyā
nija-mātāra gaṅgāra caraṇa dekhiyā
eta mate kari kailuṅ gauḍere gamana
sahasreka saṅge haila nija-bhakta-gaṇa
lakṣa lakṣa loka āise kautuka dekhite
lokera saṅghaṭṭe patha nā pāri calite
yathā rahi, tathā ghara-prācīra haya cūrṇa
yathā netra paḍe tathā loka dekhi pūrṇa
kaṣṭe-sṛṣṭye kari gelāṅa rāmakeli-grāma
āmāra ṭhāñi āilā rūpa sanātana nāma

(“I wanted to go to Vṛndāvana through Gauḍa-deśa in order to see the feet of My mother and the Gaṅgā. I made this decision to go to Bengal, yet thousands of My devotees followed Me. Thousands upon thousands of people came to see Me out of curiosity, and due to so many people, I was not able to travel on the road. Wherever I stayed, the dense crowds broke the house and the boundary walls, and wherever My eyes fell, I only saw throngs of people. With great difficulty I travelled to the village of Rāmakeli, where I met two persons named Rūpa and Sanātana.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 16.256-260)

This brings us to the next line of the verse – rāma-keli-sāgrajāta-rūpa-karṣaṇādara (‘In Rāmakeli, He was greatly attracted to Rūpa and his elder brother’). The original names of Rūpa and his elder brother Sanātana were Amāra and Santoṣa, and although they were descended from a high class brāhmaṇa dynasty, in the eyes of the orthodox brāhmaṇa community, they had lost their caste. Due to pressure from the ruler of Bengal, Nawab Hussein Shah, the two brothers were forced to accept positions in his government. Amāra became known by the title Dabir-i Khās (‘private secretary to the Nawab’) and Santoṣa’s title was Sakara Malik (‘chief treasurer’). Thus, their close association with Muslims made them outcastes in brāhmaṇa society. Amāra and Santoṣa resided in the village of Rāmakeli in the town of Malda. Here they created a haven which was a small replica of Vṛndāvana – they planted kadamba and tamāla trees, excavated two small lakes and named them Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa, and built a temple where they worshipped Rādhā-Madana-mohana. When Mahāprabhu arrived in Rāmakeli in the middle of the night, Amāra and Santoṣa placed a piece of straw between their teeth as a sign of humility, and fell at the feet of Śrī Caitanyadeva. Petitioning the Lord, they stated that they were indeed worse than Jagāī and Mādhāi because Jagāī and Mādhāi were not nīcera kūpara (working for low-class men). Mahāprabhu was greatly moved by their humility and gave them the names Rūpa and Sanātana. The story of how Rūpa and Sanātana left the service of the Nawab and served Śri Caitanya Mahāprabhu for the remainder of their lives is well known and is narrated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta.

Since Mahāprabhu is the all-knowing Supreme Lord, we can understand that His ‘failed attempt’ in going to Vṛndāvana was a pretense. His true motive for travelling to Bengal was to shower the inhabitants there with His mercy, see His mother for the last time, deliver the non-believers and to see His eternal associates, Rūpa and Sanātana.


Verse 36

vyāghra-vāraṇaina-vanya-jantu-kṛṣṇa-gāyakaṁ
prema-nṛtya-bhāva-matta-jhāḍakhaṇḍa-nāyakam
durga-vanya-mārga-bhaṭṭa-mātra-saṅga-saukaraṁ
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram

Word for Word

vyāghra – tiger; vāraṇa – elephant; aina – deer; vanya – jungle; jantu – animals; kṛṣṇa – the Name of Kṛṣṇa; gāyaka – sing; prema – with prema; nṛtya – dance; bhāva – in bhāva; matta – intoxicated; jhāḍakhaṇḍa – the Jhāḍakhaṇḍa forest; nāyaka – leader; durga – impenetrable; vanya – jungle; mārga – path; bhaṭṭa – Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya; mātra – only; saṅga – company; saukara – easily; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaurasundara – Gaurasundara.

TRANSLATION

I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. Dancing with prema, and intoxicated with bhāva, the Lord led the animals in the Jhāḍakhaṇḍa forest, such as tigers, elephants and deer in chanting the Names of Kṛṣṇa. In this way, accompanied only by Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya, He easily traverses the path of this impenetrable jungle.

Commentary

On Mahāprabhu’s second attempt to go to Vṛndāvana, He went thru the forest of Jhāḍakhaṇḍa accompanied by His servant Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya. Jhāḍakhaṇḍa (which literally means ‘the land of forests’) is north of Orissa, thus, Mahāprabhu travelled from Purī to Vṛndāvana through this stretch of land.

Naturally, the dense jungle of Jhāḍakhaṇḍa was inhabited by wild animals, and in the Chapter 17 of the Madhya-līlā of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes how as Mahāprabhu walked through the forest, all the animals began to follow Him, due to His all-attractive personality. Then the Lord made all the animals dance and chant the Names of Kṛṣṇa to the amazement of Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya. Natural enemies such as the tigers and deer embraced and kissed each other. By the influence of Mahāprabhu, their animalistic consciousness was forgotten and they acted on the plane of the ātmā. This is the all-harmonising mood of Vraja. In this regard, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam describes the land of Vṛndāvana:

yatra naisarga-durvairāḥ sahāsan nṛ-mṛgādayaḥ
mitrāṇīvājitāvāsa druta-ruṭ-tarṣaṇādikam

(Here, those that are generally inimical to each other, such as animals and humans, live together as friends. This is the abode of Ajita [Kṛṣna who has no enemies] thus, anger, thirst etc. are absent. Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.13.60)

Vṛndāvana is the land of harmony and tranquility, whereas the material world is the land of disharmony and discord. Humans and animals in this world fight with each other for the sake of sense-gratification. In the spiritual world, this mentality is absent because all the inhabitants there are exclusively focussed upon serving the transcendental senses of Kṛṣṇa. Thus, there are no fierce creatures in the spiritual land of Vraja-dhāma because it is completely devoid of malice, fear, hunger etc.

When Mahāprabhu chanted and danced in ecstasy in Jhāḍakhaṇḍa, even the trees, shrubs and creepers felt bliss. One may ask how insentient beings could experience a state of bliss. The Padma Purāṇa explains that there are five levels of consciousness – āvṛta-cetana (covered consciousness), saṅkucita-cetana (shrunken consciousness), mukulita-cetana (budding consciousness), vikacita-cetana (developing consciousness) and pūrṇa-vikacita-cetana (fully developed consciousness). Āvṛta-cetana refers to trees, plants, creepers, stones etc. whose consciousness is fully covered. Consciousness within such things can only be traced due to the presence of the six material transformations found in all conscious beings (birth, existence, growth, by-products, decay and death). Saṅkucita-cetana includes animals, aquatics, birds and insects. Consciousness within these jīvas is more apparent. These jīvas all eat, sleep, mate and defend. They sometimes show signs of fear, anger, gratitude etc. However, their consciousness remains undeveloped. Mukulita-cetana denotes primitive humans who are almost animal-like, with a very basic conception of divinity. This category also extends to atheists who lack morality, atheists who possess morality and persons that are moral but worship an imaginary deity. Vikacita-cetana refers to those jīvas who are theistic by nature, that worship the Supreme according to the injunctions of the śāstra. When a jīva attains kṛṣṇa-prema through the process of bhakti, he is said to be in pūrṇa-vikacita-cetana, a fully developed state of consciousness.

By the causeless mercy of Śrī Caitanyadeva, it is possible for any type of conscious jīva to awaken their dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Thus, the saṅkīrtana movement of Mahāprabhu is not only there to deliver human beings, but through hearing the pure transcendental sound vibration of the mahā-mantra, any jīva can be delivered from the cycle of repeated birth and death. The inherent characteristic of divine sound is that it is independent of the physical plane of the mind and body. Because it is spiritual by nature, the pure sound of kṛṣṇa-nāma is capable of piercing the material covering and directly touching the ātmā.

Just as animals are endowed with particular natures, humans also maintain certain characteristics and prejudices due to their material conditioning. All conditioned living beings possess vasanas (desires in a subtle form) which manifest within the mind. Vasanas produce vṛttis (thought patterns that cause us to act) and vṛttis produce karma (action). Karma then produces reactions and saṁskāras (impressions) which follow us to the next life. The Holy Name however, when chanted purely, removes all these obstacles and propels one to the transcendental plane where one happily serves Kṛṣṇa eternally.

Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)

About the Author: Swami B.V. Giri

  • Prema Dhama Deva Stotram - verses 33-36 with the Narasingha Sevaka Commentary by Swami B.V. Giri

Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram with the Narasiṅgha Sevaka Commentary – Verses 33-36

By |November 25, 2022|Tags: |

In verses 33 to 36 of Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Swami B.V. Giri expounds upon Mahāprabhu's return to Bengal and the effect it had on His mother, Śacī Devī and the residents of Gauḍa-deśa. The Lord's meeting with Rūpa-Sanātana and His travels through the forest of Jhāḍakhaṇḍa are also explained.

  • Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)

Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)

By |November 18, 2022|Tags: |

In this article 'Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)' Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura delineates the foundational elements of bhakti (sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana) drawn from the vedic conclusions and establishes the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam as the ripened fruit of these literatures. This article was originally published in Bengali in Vol. 21, Issue 10 of Śrī Sajjana Toṣaṇī, January 1919 and translated by Sanātana Dāsa.

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Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram with the Narasiṅgha Sevaka Commentary – Verses 29-32

By |November 11, 2022|Tags: |

In this section of verses from Prema-dhāma Deva Stotram, Swami B.V. Giri elucidates upon Mahāprabhu’s discovery of the Brahma-saṁhitā and Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta, His ecstatic dancing at Rātha-Yātrā, Pratāparudra’s devotion to the Lord and Mahāprabhu’s leaving Puri to return to Bengal.

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Śrī Jagannātha Deva Shook the Heaven and the Earth

By |November 4, 2022|Tags: |

In honour of the upcoming disappearance day of Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī, we present a transcript of a talk, 'Śrī Jagannātha Deva Shook the Heaven and the Earth' by Śrīla B.G. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja given at the virāha-mahotsava of Śrīla Purī Mahārāja at Śrīdhāma Māyāpura on 24th November 1999.

  • Prema Dhama Deva Stotram - verses 33-36 with the Narasingha Sevaka Commentary by Swami B.V. Giri

Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram with the Narasiṅgha Sevaka Commentary – Verses 33-36

By |November 25, 2022|Tags: |

In verses 33 to 36 of Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Swami B.V. Giri expounds upon Mahāprabhu's return to Bengal and the effect it had on His mother, Śacī Devī and the residents of Gauḍa-deśa. The Lord's meeting with Rūpa-Sanātana and His travels through the forest of Jhāḍakhaṇḍa are also explained.

  • Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)

Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)

By |November 18, 2022|Tags: |

In this article 'Bhakti Siddhānta (Devotional Conclusions)' Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura delineates the foundational elements of bhakti (sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana) drawn from the vedic conclusions and establishes the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam as the ripened fruit of these literatures. This article was originally published in Bengali in Vol. 21, Issue 10 of Śrī Sajjana Toṣaṇī, January 1919 and translated by Sanātana Dāsa.

  • Prema Dhama Deva Stotram - verses 29-32 with the Narasingha Sevaka Commentary by Swami B.V. Giri

Prema Dhāma Deva Stotram with the Narasiṅgha Sevaka Commentary – Verses 29-32

By |November 11, 2022|Tags: |

In this section of verses from Prema-dhāma Deva Stotram, Swami B.V. Giri elucidates upon Mahāprabhu’s discovery of the Brahma-saṁhitā and Kṛṣṇa Karṇāmṛta, His ecstatic dancing at Rātha-Yātrā, Pratāparudra’s devotion to the Lord and Mahāprabhu’s leaving Puri to return to Bengal.

  • Sri Jagannatha Deva Shook the Heaven and the Earth

Śrī Jagannātha Deva Shook the Heaven and the Earth

By |November 4, 2022|Tags: |

In honour of the upcoming disappearance day of Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Gosvāmī, we present a transcript of a talk, 'Śrī Jagannātha Deva Shook the Heaven and the Earth' by Śrīla B.G. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja given at the virāha-mahotsava of Śrīla Purī Mahārāja at Śrīdhāma Māyāpura on 24th November 1999.