Prema Dhama Deva Stotram – Verses 13-16
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
prema – prema; raṅga – pastimes; pāṭha – class; bhaṅga – stopped; chātra – students; kāku – lamentation; kātara – despair; chātra – students; saṅga – assembly; hasta – hands; tāla – rhythm; kīrtana – kīrtana; adya – immediately; sañcaram – impel; kṛṣṇa-nāma – the Name of Kṛṣṇa; sīdhu – intoxicated; sindhu – ocean; magna – immersed; dik – directions; carācara – all animate and inanimate beings; 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. Due to His absorption in pastimes of prema, His classes ceased and His students lamented and were overcome with despair. He immediately encouraged them all to clap their hands and perform kīrtana, and by so doing, all living entities, both animate and inanimate, became immersed in an ocean of bliss at the sound of kṛṣṇa-nāma.
In this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahāraja has perfectly captured the mood of the relationship between Mahāprabhu and His students. After Mahāprabhu returned from Gayā, where he had taken initiation from Śrī Īśvara Purī, He became fully absorbed in prema. He could speak of nothing but Kṛṣṇa and could not concentrate on teaching grammar. Finally, the Lord humbly apologised to His students and informed them that He could no longer teach them, and that they should learn from another teacher. With tears in their eyes, the students replied that they too would end their studies since whatever He had taught them was the ultimate truth. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahāraja uses the words kāku and kātara denoting the intense pain and lamentation the students felt at the imminent separation from their beloved Teacher.
At this point in Mahāprabhu’s līlā, His vidyā-vilāsa (scholastic pastimes) ended, and His saṅkīrtana-vilāsa (pastimes of chanting the Holy Name) began. In this way, Mahāprabhu progressively taught His students that the true necessity of all knowledge culminates in the chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s Names.
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)
Vidyā Devī is the maidservant of Kṛṣṇa, thus all knowledge must ultimately be utilised in His service. Mahāprabhu showed this by His own example in this particular pastime. After teaching His students grammar for many years, He finally encouraged them all to perform saṅkīrtana and personally showed them how to do that.
śiṣya-gaṇa balena kemana saṅkīrtana
āpane śikhāyena prabhu śrī-śacīnandana
haraye namaḥ kṛṣṉa yādavāya namaḥ
gopāla govinda rāma śrī-madhusūdana
diśā dekhāiyā prabhu hāte tāli
diyā āpane kīrtana kare śiṣya-gaṇa laiyā
(The students asked, “How should we perform saṅkīrtana?” Then, the Son of Śacī personally taught them to chant, “O Hari! O Kṛṣṇa! My obeisances to You, who are known as Hari, Yādava, Gopāla, Govinda, Rāma and Śrī Madhusūdana.” The Lord then personally showed His students how to perform kīrtana by clapping His hands. – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 1.406-408)
From this pastime, we can also understand that the process of chanting kṛṣṇa-nāma or kṛṣṇa-mantra (those mantras received at the time of initiation) is the same – it must be received via avaroha-panthā, the descending process coming through a proper channel that is firmly connected with Divinity. One cannot chant the Holy Name by following the āroha-panthā, or ascending process, thinking that one can attain the Supreme Destination by one’s own physical or mental endeavours. The real Name only descends upon the tongue of one who is free from pride and has nāma-ruci, an insatiable taste for kṛṣṇa-nāma. Due to their affection for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, many of His students, attained such a taste for the Holy Name, and became perfect Vaiṣṇavas. This pastime can be found in Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa, Chapter one.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
ārya – the Āryans; dharma – religious principles; pāla – protect; labdha – attained; dīkṣa – initiation; kṛṣṇa–kīrtana – kīrtana of Kṛṣṇa’s Names; lakṣa-lakṣa – millions and millions; bhakta – devotees; gīta – singing; vādya – musical instruments; divya – divine; nartana – dancing; dharma – religious principles; karma – activities; nāśa – destroy; dasyu – rogues; duṣṭa – wicked; duṣkrṭa – evil activities; uddhara – deliverer; 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. He protects the dharma of the Āryans and performs kīrtana of the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa according to the instructions he received from His dīkṣā-guru, Śrī Īśvara Purī Gosvāmī. He would dance in a divine way, accompanied by millions upon millions of devotees who sang and played various musical instruments. He is the deliverer of those wicked miscreants that engage in wicked acts that erode dharma.
In the first line of the verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja describes Śrī Caitanyadeva as ārya-dharma-pāla, the protector of the dharma of the Āryans. It may be said that broadly speaking, ārya-dharma also includes those dharmas that originated within the borders of Ārya-varṣa such as Buddhism, Jainism, Lokāyata, Advaitavāda etc., but we should understand that since all these other dharmas are opposed to theism and the process of prema-bhakti, the phrase ārya-dharma exclusively refers to the original dharma of the Āryans, namely the worship of Viṣṇu/Kṛṣṇa according to the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Purāṇas, Pañcarātra etc. All other dharmas that do not promote this are actually kaitava-dharma, or false doctrines that are meant to deceive the jīva and place him in a bewildered state.
The phrase, labdha-dīkṣa-kṛṣṇa-kīrtana implies that Mahāprabhu engaged in kṛṣṇa-kīrtana in accordance with the instructions He received upon accepting dīkṣā. When the Lord met Śrī Īśvara Purī in Gayā and accepted dīkṣā from him, Īśvara Purī told Him:
mūrkha tumi tomāra nāhika vedāntādhikāra
kṛṣṇa-mantra japa sadā ei mantra-sāra
(You are a fool. You are not eligible to study Vedānta. You should always chant kṛṣṇa-nāma. That is the essence of all mantras. – Caitanya Caritamrta, Ādi-līlā 7.72)
Of course, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was certainly most qualified in all respects. He Himself is the compiler of the Vedānta and the knower of the Vedas (vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham), and He had already proven His scholastic prowess in Navadvīpa. However, playing the role of a perfect disciple and devotee, He considered Himself to be a fool in front of His guru, and He taught how one should have guru-niṣṭhā, carefully following the instructions of the guru without deviation.
Through this līlā, the Lord also taught how simply studying Vedānta philosophy is not the criterion for self-realisation, as exhibited by the māyāvādīs. The ultimate conclusion of the Vedānta is kṛṣṇa–kīrtana:
oṁ anāvṛttiḥ śabdāt anāvṛttiḥ śabdāt
(Due to sound, there is no return, due to sound there is no return. – Vedānta-sūtra 4.4.22)
In other words, by śabda, the divine sound of Kṛṣṇa’s Name, one does not return to this material world. This sūtra repeats this statement twice to add emphasis that this is the only process to achieve liberation. This is also the concluding statement of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, the natural commentary on the Vedānta:
nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ yasya sarva-pāpa praṇāśanam
praṇāmo duḥkha-śamanas taṁ namāmi hariṁ param
(I offer my obeisance unto the Supreme Lord, Hari. By engaging in saṅkīrtana of His Names, all impiety is destroyed. By offering of obeisances unto him, all suffering is removed. – Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.13.23)
Some persons gather from the instruction of Īśvara Purī Gosvāmī to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu stating that this proves that nāma-kīrtana is by nature inferior to the study of Vedānta – in other words, that jñāna is higher than the process of bhakti. However, this conclusion is erroneous.
ṛg-vedo’tha yajur-vedaḥ sāma-vedo’py atharvaṇaḥ
adhītās tena yenoktaṁ harir ity akṣara-dvayam
(One who chants the two syllables ha-ri has already studied the Ṛg, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva Veda. – Bhagavān-nāma-māhātmya-saṁgraha)
viṣṇor ekaika-nāmāpi sarva-vedādhikaṁ matam
(One Name of Viṣṇu is superior to all the Vedas. – Padma Purāṇa 6.257.27)
mā ṛco mā yajus tāta mā sāma paṭha kiñcana
govindeti harer nāma geyaṁ gāyasva nityaśaḥ
(There is no necessity to study the Ṛg, Yajur or Sāma Veda. Always chant the Names of Hari such as Govinda. – Skanda Purāṇa)
Since the Vedānta is the conclusion of the Vedas (veda+anta), then the chanting of kṛṣṇa-nāma must naturally surpass the study of Vedānta. However, it is not that the Vaiṣṇavas are averse to Vedānta. When the Vaiṣṇavas study Vedānta philosophy, they do so in order to glorify Hari. Therefore, great Vaiṣṇava ācāryas such as Śrī Rāmānuja and Madhva have written commentaries on the Vedānta–sūtras. Similarly, the Gauḍīya sampradāya has the Govinda Bhāṣya commentary on Vedānta, which was mercifully presented by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhuṣaṇa Prabhu.
In the second line of this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja writes, lakṣa-lakṣa-bhakta-gīta-vādya-divya-nartana – ‘The Lord would dance in a divine way, accompanied by millions upon millions of devotees who sang and played various musical instruments.’ One may conclude from this that the words lakṣa lakṣa (millions upon millions) may simply be ornamental exaggeration used by the author. However, this is not the case. Besides the many associates that sang and danced surrounding Mahāprabhu, in the celestial realm, the various Devas were also watching and engaged in kīrtana. Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī confirms this:
devā dundubhi-vādanaṁ vidadhire gandharva-mukhyā jaguḥ
siddhāḥ santata-puṣpa-vṛṣṭibhir imāṁ pṛthvīṁ samācchādayan
divya-stotra-parā maharṣi-nivahāḥ prītyopatasthur nija-
premonmādini tāṇḍavaṁ racayati śrī-gauracandre bhuvi
(The Devas played dundubhi drums, the Gandharvas sang, the Siddhas covered this earth with a continual shower of flower petals, and the great sages recited divine prayers with love as Śrī Gauracandra danced in this world, intoxicated with prema. – Caitanya-candrāmṛta 133)
Finally, the Lord is invoked as the Deliverer of those wicked persons who destroy dharma. Śrī Caitanya is mahā-vadānya, the most magnanimous, and has appeared in order to rescue the fallen jīvas of Kali-yuga. All jīvas that are shackled to this world of birth and death, by their good or bad karma, are fundamentally impious. Their inherent dharma is nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsatva – an eternal servant of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Anything that obstructs this is inherently evil. Therefore, due to their forgetfulness of their constitutional position, the jīvas are forced to experience the constant pain of birth, death, old age and disease in every species of life that they take birth in. They may be born as an insect, and animal, a Mleccha, a brāhmaṇa or a Deva – all of them must suffer at the hands of material nature. However, Mahāprabhu has come to smash the wheel of the cycle of birth and death by distributing the Holy Name, which is the key to the jīva’s freedom from bondage. Therefore Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhu prays to Him thus:
namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ
(I offer obeisances unto He who is the most munificent and who distributes kṛṣṇa-prema. My obeisance unto Kṛṣṇa who has appeared with a golden complexion, with the name ‘Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya.’)
Similarly, Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī writes:
rakṣo-daitya-kulaṁ hataṁ kiyad idaṁ yogādi-vartma-kriyā-
mārgo vā prakaṭī-kṛtaḥ kiyad idaṁ sṛṣṭy-ādikaṁ vā kiyat
mediny-uddharaṇādikaṁ kiyad idaṁ premojjvalāyā mahā-
bhakter vartma-karīṁ parāṁ bhagavataś caitanya-mūrtiṁ stumaḥ
(How significant is it for us that He eliminated the Rakṣāsa and Daitya dynasties? How important is it that He revealed the various paths of yoga, rituals etc? How relevant is it that He creates, maintains and destroys the universe, or that He rescues the world? We only wish to glorify the Supreme Lord’s form as Śrī Caitanya, who has revealed the path of supreme bhakti which is resplendent with prema. – Caitanya-candrāmṛta 7)
Thus, by the mercy of the yugāvatāra, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, all jīvas have the opportunity to take to nāma-saṅkīrtana and attain the wealth of kṛṣṇa-prema that He has come to distribute to one and all.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
mleccha – the Mlecchas; rāja – ruler; nāma – the Holy Name; vādha – banned; bhakta – devotees; bhīti – fear; bhañjana – removed; lakṣa-lakṣa – thousands; dīpa – torches; naiśa – at night; koṭi – a million; kaṇṭha – voices; kīrtana – in kīrtana; śrī-mṛdaṅga – the mṛdaṅgas; tāla – karatālas; vādya – musical instruments; nṛtya – dancing; kāji – the Kāzi; nistara – delivered; 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. He removed the devotee’s fear when the ruler of the Mlecchas (Cāṅda Kāzī) banned the chanting of the Holy Name. Coming to the Kāzī’s residence at night, with thousands of torches and a million voices raised in kīrtana, the devotees danced to the accompaniment of mṛdaṅgas, karatālas and other musical instruments. In this way, the Lord delivered the Kāzī.
The deliverance of Cāṅda Kāzī is narrated in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, Chapter 17, and Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa, Chapter 23.
In medieval Bengal, a Kāzī (or kājī) was a Muslim magistrate (phaujadarā) who kept law and order in a particular province. The name of the Kāzī of Navadvīpa at the time of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was Maulana Sirajauddin (or Habibara Rahman according to some sources). It is said that he was the spiritual teacher of Nawab Hussein Shah, the ruler of Bengal.
In this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja refers to the Kāzī as mleccha-rāja (the ruler of the Mlecchas). In ancient India, the word mleccha refers to foreigners who do not follow Vedic culture. The roots of this word are unknown and it does not seem to be of Sanskrit origin. There are many theories as to the origins of the word mleccha, one of which is that it stems from the worship of Moloch, the god of the Carthaginians. Those who worshipped Moloch became known as melek and as trade between India and the Middle East was common at that time, the Indians referred to these outsiders as Mleccha, a corruption of the word Moloch. Eventually, any foreigner who did not follow the Vedas became known as a Mleccha.
At this time, Mahāprabhu and His associates were propagating the Holy Name throughout Navadvīpa. In almost every house, the Names of Kṛṣna, Hari and Govinda could be heard. This disturbed the smārtas and tāntrikas. Navadvīpa was home to famous logicians as well as renowned tāntrikas such as Kṛṣṇānanda Āgamavāgīśa. They became fearful that Nimāi Paṇḍita’s preaching of kṛṣṇa-bhakti would become so popular that nyāya, the jñāna-mārga (the path of mundane knowledge), smārtavāda (the philosophy of the Smārtas), and the worship of Dakṣiṇā Kālī would all become obsolete. Along with the local Muslims, these various groups of brāhmaṇas lodged a complaint with the Kāzī. The enraged Kāzī came into the town and upon hearing the sound of mṛdaṅgas and karatālas coming from a house, he burst into the home and broke the mṛdaṅga, threatening that whoever performed kīrtana in Navadvīpa would be forcibly converted to Islam. In this way, the Kāzī tried to ban nāma-saṅkīrtana.
However, after this incident, Mahāprabhu led a huge procession to the residence of the Kāzī at night, with torches, mṛdaṅgas, karatālas etc. The sound of kṛṣṇa-nāma was tumultuous and the Kāzī became afraid. As the devotees entered his garden, they began uprooting trees and plants, and calling for the death of the Kāzī. Mahāprabhu finally pacified them and called for the Kāzī to come out and speak with Him.
They spoke at length about the nature of bhakti, and Mahāprabhu pointed out that bhakti is even found within the Koran. However, that is not to say that He validated the entire Koran. Mahāprabhu’s point was that the inherent nature of all religions is ultimately bhakti, although in such man-made religions as Islam, Christianity and Judaism, it is difficult to clearly perceive. All these religions accept a superior power whom they refer to as Allah, God, Jehovah, Yahweh etc. and the followers of these doctrines regard themselves as servants of that superior power. However, because these religious systems do not originate with the Lord Himself, they have attracted many local superstitions and are devoid of any true philosophy. They cannot give any cohesive explanation concerning the identity of the soul (ātmā), its eternal relationship with the Supreme, nor an interpretation on the nature of consciousness. Thus, whatever they present is extremely rudimentary and hazy.
After their discussion the Kāzī fell at the Lord’s feet and vowed never to inhibit the saṅkīrtana movement again. In this way, Mahāprabhu delivered the Kāzī from his offence.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
lakṣa – thousands; locana – eyes; aśru – eyes; varṣa – shower; harṣa – happily; keśa – hair; kartana – cut; koṭi – millions; kaṇṭha – voices; kṛṣṇa-kīrtana – chanting the Names of Kṛṣṇa; āḍhya – remembered with regret; daṇḍa – sannyāsa daṇḍa; dhāranam – held; nyāsi – sannyāsī; veśa – robes; sarva – all; deśa – lands; hā – cried out in anguish; hutāśa – sorrow; kātara – desperately; 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. He happily cut His hair as thousands of eyes created a shower of tears, and as He held His sannyāsa-daṇḍa, millions of voices chanted kṛṣṇa-kīrtana remembering Him with extreme sadness. Seeing Him in the robes of a sannyāsī, all the lands desperately cried out with anguish and sorrow.
In Chapter 28 of Caitanya-bhāgavata, Śrīla Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura describes the details of Mahāprabhu’s sannyāsa-līlā. All the associates of the Lord, and the residents of Navadvīpa were thrown into an ocean of despair when He decided to accept the sannyāsa order of life at the age of twenty-four. His acceptance of sannyāsa meant that He would leave Navadvīpa, never to return and they would never see Him there again. Therefore, as Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja used to say, this episode was a ‘tragedy of separation.’
Why did Mahāprabhu accept sannyāsa? Śrī Caitanyadeva and His associates inundated the whole of Bengal with the sound of hari-nāma saṅkīrtana, and all who heard that transcendental sound were filled with supreme bliss. There were, however, exceptions. As mentioned previously in Verse 15, certain sections of society such as the smārta brāhmaṇas, tāntrikas, nyāyikas, māyāvādīs etc. saw Śrī Caitanya’s saṅkīrtana movement as an obstacle and refused to accept Nimāi Paṇḍita’s ‘novel concept.’ The old English adage, ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ is most applicable in this regard. They regarded Nimāi Paṇḍita, simply as the son of Jagannātha Miśra and Śacī Devī. They had seen Him grow up as a mischievous child in their village, and as a youth He was seen as an intelligent student and teacher, who liked to debate with others. Thus, some of the residents of Navadvīpa did not take Him very seriously.
In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī describes Mahāprabhu’s purpose for accepting sannyāsa:
yata adhyāpaka āra tāṅra śiṣya-gaṇa
dharmī karmī tapo-niṣṭha nindaka durjana
ei saba mora nindā-aparādha haite
āmi nā laoyāile bhakti nā pāre laite
nistārite āilāma āmi haila viparīta
e saba durjanera kaiche haibeka hita
āmāke praṇati kare haya pāpa-kṣaya
tabe se ihāre bhakti laoyāile laya
more nindā kare ye nā kare namaskāra
e-saba jīvere avaśya kariba uddhāra
ataeva avaśya āmi sannyāsa kariba
sannyāsi-buddhye more praṇata haiba
praṇatite ha’be ihāra aparādha kṣaya
nirmala hṛdaye bhakti karāiba udaya
(The Lord said – “The professors and their students are followers of mundane religious principles, ritualistic activities and austerities, yet they are all wicked offenders. If I do not make them take to bhakti, then none of them will every accept it because of their offences to Me. I came to deliver them, yet the exact opposite is happening. How can all these wicked people be benefited? If they offer respects unto Me, their impiety will be destroyed. This may then cause them to take to bhakti. I must certainly save all these jīvas who make offences and refuse to offer respects unto Me. Therefore, I must accept sannyāsa, then considering Me to be a sannyāsī, they will show respect. By offering respects, their offences will cease, and I will cause bhakti to manifest within their purified hearts.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 17.261-267)
Thus, in order to deliver all those jīvas who were averse to bhakti, Mahāprabhu decided to accept the sannyāsa order. Of course, being the Supreme Absolute Truth, Śrī Caitanya can make anyone and everyone a devotee immediately. However, because the jīvātmā is marginal by nature, he is inherently endowed with free will. True love must manifest freely and wilfully, without any external compulsion. If the Lord forces the jīva to love Him, that love would not be genuine and would go against the natural free will of the jīva. Forced love is no love at all. All jīvas are pure by nature, but due to their bewilderment by māyā, they have forgotten their original position as kṛṣṇa-dāsa. Therefore, the Lord and His agents come here in order to awaken the dormant spiritual consciousness of the conditioned jīvas.
In this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja has encapsulated the mood of utter despair felt by the devotees and people of Navadvīpa upon seeing their beloved Nimāi shaving His head and accepting the saffron cloth and daṇḍa of a sannyāsī. Remembering the beautiful pastimes of their Nimāi in Navadvīpa, they all cried torrents of tears (lakṣa-locanāśru-varṣa) and seeing this spectacle, they all chanted the Names of Kṛṣṇa.
This sannyāsa–līlā concludes the first section of Mahāprabhu’s pastimes in Navadvīpa. For about six years after accepting sannyāsa, the Lord travelled around India distributing the nectar of kṛṣṇa-bhakti. In the last period of His pastimes, for twelve years, Mahāprabhu remained in Jagannātha Purī relishing kṛṣṇa-rasa with His close associates. Thus, in the first thirty years of His līlā, Mahāprabhu primarily displayed His aspect as the yugāvatāra, delivering the fallen jīvas and propagating kṛṣṇa-bhakti. In His final eighteen years, He manifested the true purpose of His advent – relishing the inner mood of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.