Prema Dhama Deva Stotram – Verses 41-45
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; mugdha – immersed; nṛtya – dancing; kīrtana – kirtana; ākula – anxious; āriṭ – the village of Āriṭ; āntika – nearby; snāna – bath; dhanya – paddy field; vāri – waters; dhānya – sacred; bhūmi – land; kuṇḍa – Rādhā-kuṇḍa; deśaka – reveal; prema-kuṇḍa – lake of prema; rādhikā – Śrī Rādhikā; akhya – named; śāstra – the śāstra; vandana – prayers; ādara – honour; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. Absorbed in prema as He danced in the kīrtana, the Lord became anxious as He approached the village of Āriṭ. Upon bathing in the waters of a paddy field, He revealed that sacred land to be Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa. He then honoured that lake, which is named after Śrī Rādhikā and full of ambrosial prema, by reciting prayers from the śāstra.
This līlā of Mahāprabhu is recounted in Madhya-līlā, Chapter 18 of Caitanya-caritāmṛta. As Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja writes here, ākulāriṭāntika (‘the Lord became anxious as He approached the village of Āriṭ’). Similarly, Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes:
ei-mata mahāprabhu nācite nācite
āriṭ-grāme āsi bāhya haila ācambite
(In this way, Mahāprabhu continued to dance, but when He came to the village of Āriṭ, He regained His external consciousness. – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 18.3)
The word āriṭ is a corruption of the word ariṣṭa, because this is the place where Śrī Kṛṣṇa killed the bull-demon Āriṣṭāsura. Kaṁsa had sent Āriṣṭāsura to kill Kṛṣṇa, and when this gigantic demon arrived in Vraja-bhūmi, his roars were so great all the residents begged Kṛṣṇa to help them. When Āriṣṭāsura charged at the Lord, He simply caught him by the horns, threw him to the ground and kicked him to death. In jest, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and the gopīs told Kṛṣṇa that since he had killed a bull (which represents dharma), He would have to atone by visiting all the holy places and bathe all in the sacred rivers. Kṛṣṇa replied, “Why should I go to all the holy places? I will just bring them here,” and saying this, He dug His heel into the ground and called all the sacred rivers to enter into it. Thus, they appeared in the form of Śyāma-kuṇḍa. Kṛṣṇa took bath there, but then told Rādhikā and the gopīs, “Now I am purified, but you are all impure because you defended a demon, claiming that it was a sin for Me to have killed him.” Out of transcendental pride, the gopīs refused to bathe in Śyāma-kuṇḍa, and began digging their own kuṇḍa with the bangles. All the holy rivers then requested Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī to allow them to enter Her new kuṇḍa. In this way, Rādhā-kuṇḍa was manifest.
After a long time however, Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa were lost. When Mahāprabhu arrived in Vraja, He asked the local residents of their whereabouts, but they had no idea of the location of these two kuṇḍas. As Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja points out, snāna-dhanya-vāri-dhānya-bhūmi-kuṇḍa-deśaka (‘Upon bathing in the waters of a paddy field, He revealed that sacred land to be Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa’). Thus, Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes:
tīrtha lupta jāni prabhu sarvajña bhagavān
dui dhānya-kṣetre alpa-jale kailā snāna
dekhi saba grāmya-lokera vismaya haila mana
preme prabhu kare rādhā-kuṇḍera stavana
(Being the all-knowing Supreme Person, the Lord knew that this holy place was lost. He then took bath in the shallow waters of two paddy fields. The local village people were surprised to see Him doing this. The Lord then offered prayers to Rādhā-kuṇḍa. – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 18. 5-6)
Mahāprabhu then chanted the following śloka from Padma Purāṇa, declaring the glories of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa:
yathā rādhā priyā viṣṇos tasyāḥ kuṇḍaṁ priyaṁ tathā
sarva-gopīṣu saivaikā viṣṇor atyanta-vallabhā
(Just as Rādhā is the beloved of Viṣṇu, so also Her kuṇḍa is loved by Him. Amongst all the gopīs, She is the most dear to Him.)
For Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, Rādhā-kuṇḍa is considered to be the most sacred place in the entire universe because it is here that Govinda sports with Rādhikā and Her confidential associates. In other areas of Vraja-maṇḍala, Kṛṣṇa performs rāsa-līlā along with all the various groups of gopīs, but Rādhā-kuṇḍa is exclusively meant for His pastimes with His dearmost lover, Śrī Rādhikā.
Rādhā-kuṇḍa is so sacred, that generally, devotees do not bathe in Her waters which are considered to be non-different from Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī Herself. Rather, they will take a few drops of water upon their heads. For this reason, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja refers to Rādhā-kuṇḍa in this verse as prema-kuṇḍa (a lake of pure prema) because Rādhā-kuṇḍa is non-different from Śrī Rādhikā, the premamayi hlādinī-śakti (that blissful potency that is fully replete with prema). In 1932, during the month of Kārttika, while lecturing at Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura made the following comment:
“Those who are still attached to this body and mind can never attain the qualification to bathe in the kuṇḍa of our Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī; I say this at all times! But those who are not attached to this body and mind – they are eternally qualified. This body has been produced by our mother and father. One who still deliberates upon this body or deliberates upon the mind cannot bathe in Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa! Only one who is knowledgeable of his aprākṛta form and intrinsic internal nature can bathe there. We are fallen souls! These words should always remain in our ears. They will be most beneficial for us life after life. By hearing such words we will be protected from offences.”
Ācāryas, such as Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, have urged us to reside at Rādhā-kuṇḍa, but such statements need to be seen with proper context. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja has explained:
“Once our Guru Mahārāja ordered that a cottage should be built at Govardhana and I heard him say, ‘We must serve our guru-varga and so we shall have to go to the highest position of Rādhā-kuṇḍa. But we won’t stay there. We are not fit to live at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. We must stay nearby at a lower place – Govardhana. We shall go to Rādhā-kuṇḍa only to serve our gurus, and then we shall come back to Govardhana and there we shall stay. Our superior gurus, Gaura-kiśora Dāsa Bābājī, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and others – they will live and serve at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. We are not of such a high position.’ This should be our position – giving honour to the highest position of our guru. We should always maintain this difference between the disciple and the master. The master holds the highest position. In the highest place of līlā he will be there, performing the highest form of service. But we will be a little lower. We shall live very near, but away. We shall come and serve them and then go back again because we have to attend their command, so we must be at an amiable distance. We shall take our stand in Govardhana and always be eager for the call that may come at any moment from Rādhā-kuṇḍa, that we may help in any type of service. All our masters are playing there and from a little lower position we are to look at that, then it may be permanent.”
On a side note, many devotees celebrate the manifestation of Rādhā-kuṇḍa during the month of Kārttika on the eighth lunar day known as Bahulāṣṭamī. However, according to Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu’s Laghu Vaiṣṇava Toṣaṇī (his commentary to the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam), Rādhā-kuṇḍa appeared in the month of Caitra (March/April):
ekādaśāsya caitra-paurṇamāsyaṁ āriṣṭa-vadhaḥ
(Āriṣṭāsura was slain on the full moon of the month of Caitra when the Lord was eleven years old. – Laghu Vaiṣṇava Toṣaṇī)
Śrī Jīva explains in his Gopāla Campu that Rādhā-kuṇḍa and Śyāma-kuṇḍa appeared on the same day as the killing of Āriṣṭāsura, and on the evening of that day, Śrī Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs began their vasanta-rasa (rasa-līlā during the Spring season). The spring season occurs between mid-February till the end of April. Thus, the month of Kārttika could not be the appearance of Rādhā-kuṇḍa.
Quoting the Padma Purāṇa, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī’s Hari-bhakti-vilāsa states:
govardhana-girau ramye rādhā-kuṇḍaṁ priyaṁ hareḥ
kārttike bahulāṣṭamyāṁ tatra snātvā hareḥ priyaḥ
(Near to the beautiful hill of Govardhana is Rādhā-kuṇḍa which is dear to Hari. If one bathes there on Bahulāṣṭamī in the month of Kārttika, one will become dear to Hari.)
tat-kuṇḍe kārttikāṣṭamyāṁ snātvā pūjyo janārdanaḥ
(By taken bath in that kuṇḍa on the eight lunar day of Kārttika [Bahulāṣṭamī] one should offer worship to Janārdana.)
Thus, it would seem that at some point in time, due to these ślokas, some confusion arose in the Vaiṣṇava community and Bahulāṣṭamī during the month of Kārttika was mistakenly considered to be the appearance day of Rādhā-kuṇḍa.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
tintiḍī – tamarind; tala – tree; stha – situated; yāmuna – the Yamunā; urmi – waves; bhāvana – remembrance; āpluta – bathing; nirjana – secluded; aika – alone; rādhikā – Śrī Rādhikā; ātma – within Himself; bhāva – mood; vaibhava – greatness; avṛta – pervaded; śyāma – Śyāmasundara; rādhikā – Śrī Rādhikā; apta – taken; gaura-tattva – the principle of Gaura; bhittika – separate; ākara – origin; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. While sitting under a tamarind tree, the waves of the Yamunā reminded the Lord of Kṛṣṇa’s water pastimes with the gōpīs. Alone in that secluded place, Mahāprabhu’s entire being was pervaded with thoughts of Rādhikā’s glories. It was here that Śyāmasundara took the mood of Rādhikā and the separate gaura-tattva became manifest.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja now describes the glories of another holy tīrtha of Vraja, namely the sacred tamarind tree known as Imlitalā (also known as Teṅtulī-talā). In the Madhya-līlā of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī describes Mahāprabhu’s relationship with this place:
prāte vṛndāvane kailā cīra-ghāṭe snāna
teṅtulī-talāte āsi karilā viśrāma
kṛṣṇa-līlā-kālera sei vṛkṣa purātana
tāra tale piṇḍi-bāndhā parama-cikkaṇa
nikaṭe yamunā vahe śītala samīra
vṛndāvana-śobhā dekhe yamunāra nīra
teṅtula-tale vasi kare nāma-saṅkīrtana
madhyāhna kari āsi kare akrūre bhojana
akrūrera loka āise prabhure dekhite
loka-bhiṭe svacchande nāre kīrtana karite
vṛndāvane āsi prabhu vasiyā ekānta
nāma-saṅkīrtana kare madhyāhna-paryanta
(In the morning at Vṛndāvana, He took bath at Cīra Ghāṭa, then went to Teṅtulī-talā, where He rested. This tree was old, having been there since the time of Kṛṣṇa’s līlā. Around that tree was a shiny platform. The Yamunā flowed nearby, and a cool breeze blew there. There, He saw the beauty of Vṛndāvana and the waters of the Yamunā. He would sit at Teṅtulī-talā and engage in nāma-saṅkīrtana, then in the afternoon He would go and take His meal at Akrura Tīrtha. At Akrura Tīrtha people would come to see the Lord, and because of the crowd He was not able to perform kīrtana without disturbance. Thus the Lord would come to Vṛndāvana and sit here alone and perform nāma-saṅkīrtana till noon. – Caitanya-carirāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 18.75-80)
Why did Mahāprabhu decide to sit under this particular tree? It is said that previously, when Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu was on pilgrimage and came to Vraja-maṇḍala, when He saw Imlitalā, He understood that this was a place of gupta-līlā (confidential pastimes) during Dvāpara-yuga. Knowing that Mahāprabhu would eventually come there in future, He renovated the old platform around the tree. This is where Mahāprabhu sat and chanted when He came to Vṛndāvana.
In the Varāha Saṁhitā there is a conversation between Varāhadeva and Bhūmi Devī wherein Varāha narrates the glories of Imlitalā. He explains how once, Śrī Kṛṣṇa was sporting on the banks of the Yamunā with Rādhārāṇī and thousands of gopīs. Rādhā noticed that Kṛṣṇa was embracing and kissing the gōpīs, just as He did to Her and feeling transcendental anger, She left that place. Immediately Kṛṣṇa noticed Her absence and leaving the company of those thousands of cowherd damsels, He went in search of Śrī Rādhikā. Going from kuñja to kuñja, He called out Her Name. Eventually, He became tired and sat in a forest bower, under the shade of a tamarind tree. Feeling great separation and anxiety, Kṛṣṇa chanted the Name of Rādhā continuously. He cried out:
hā hā prāṇeśvarī āmā chāḍi kāṅhā gelā
saundaryā-sundarī rādhā mādhuryera sāra
mahatve rādhikā guru haya sabākāra
vrajāṅgaṅā-gaṇe mukhyā haya se rādhikā
sei āmāra priyattamā sarvādhikā
(“O Goddess of My very life! You have abandoned Me! Where did You go? Rādhā is the beauty of all beauties. She is the essence of sweetness. Rādhikā is the greatest and the guru of all. Of all the charming women of Vraja, Rādhikā is the topmost. Indeed, She is My most beloved amongst them all.”)
Thus, feeling intense separation from His beloved Rādhārāṇī, Śrī Kṛṣṇacandra continued to chant Rādhā’s Name and meditated upon Her. Due to His total immersion in remembering Rādhārāṇī, He was oblivious to the external world and began to experience rādhā-bhāva-dyuti-suvalita (the mood and bodily lustre of Rādhā). In this way, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the viṣaya-vigraha (the form of supreme enjoyment) took on the emotions and complexion of Śrī Rādhā, the āśraya-vigraha (the form of supreme shelter) to become Śrī Gaurāṅga. At that time, Śrī Rādhikā, came to Imlitalā along with Her companions and they were amazed to see this enchanting form. The sakhīs surrounding Rādhā exclaimed, “This must be Madana-mohana Śrī Kṛṣṇa!” They then requested Rādhārāṇī to touch Kṛṣṇa’s body and bring Him back to external consciousness. Upon being touched by Rādhā, Kṛṣṇa became startled and after composing Himself, He saw Rādhā standing in front of Him with Her sakhīs. Rādhārāṇī asked Kṛṣṇa why He had manifest such a form, to which Kṛṣṇa replied, “I was exhausted from looking all over Vṛndāvana for You. I sat here and chanted Your Name and mantra, meditating upon You. Then my dark complexion became eclipsed by Your golden lustre, and by assuming Your mood, I suddenly tasted a unique ujjvala-rasa that I have never experienced before. To relish that incomparable rasa, I will descend in this form of Gauraṅga in Navadvīpa during Kali-yuga.”
Thus, in this verse of Prema Dhāma Deva Strotram, Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī has aptly written, śyāma-rādhikāpta-gaura-tattva-bhittikākara – ‘It was here that Śyāmasundara took the mood of Rādhikā and the separate gaura-tattva became manifest.’ Thus it was here that the eternal conception of gaura-tattva, first became manifest.
An additional question may be raised as to why, after searching throughout Vṛndāvana for Rādhārāṇī, did Śrī Kṛṣṇa come and sit under this particular tamarind tree? It has been explained that after Kṛṣṇa’s mahā-abhiśeka at Govardhana, anointing Him as the king of Vṛndāvana, Kṛṣṇa arranged the mahā-abhiśeka of Rādhā at Imlitalā, crowning Her as Vṛndāvaneśvarī, the queen of Vṛndāvana.
Therefore, the sacred tīrtha of Imlitalā is synonymous with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the birthplace of gaura-tattva, and the vipralambha-bhajana-sthāli of both Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
śārikā – female parrot; śuka – male parrot; ukti – dialogue; kautuka – amusing; āḍhya – consider; lāsya – union of song; lāpita – words; rādhikā – Śrī Rādhikā; vyatīta – separation; kāmadeva – Kṛṣṇa, the God of love; kāma – desire; mohita – bewildered; prema – prema; vaśya – subdued; kṛṣṇa – Śrī Kṛṣṇa; bhāva – with bhāva; bhakta – devotees; hṛt – hearts; camatkara – astonishment; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. The Lord remembered an amusing and beautiful dialogue between a male parrot and a female parrot explaining how Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the God of divine love, becomes bewildered due to His feelings of separation from Śrī Rādhikā. Hearing how Kṛṣṇa is subdued by prema, the hearts of the bhāva-bhaktas are filled with astonishment.
This conversation between the parrots is described in the 17th Chapter of the Madhya-līlā of Caitanya-caritāmṛta. While wandering through Vṛndāvana, Śrī Caitanyadeva saw two parrots in a tree, which flew down and perched themselves upon the hand of the Lord. They then began to narrate the glories of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in a very beautiful and witty manner (śārikā-śukokti-kautukāḍhya-lāsya-lāpita). The male parrot (Śuka) began by glorifying Kṛṣna, then his female counterpart (Śāri) glorified the qualities of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. The male parrot then explained how Kṛṣṇa is Madana-mohana – the enchanter of Madana, or Kāmadeva, the god of love. This is also intimated by Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja in this verse wherein He describes Kṛṣṇa as Kāmadeva, the original God of divine prema. Kṛṣna is worshipped with the kāma-bīja-mantra (klīṁ). According to the Gautamīya Tantra, this kāma-bīja represents Śrī Kṛṣṇa:
“The Letter ka is the puruṣa known as Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme aggressive male, Who possesses the sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha, or the form embodying full eternity, knowledge and bliss. The letter ī is the prakṛtī known as Rādhā, the Supreme receptive female, Who is eternally the Vṛndāvaneśvarī, or the most majestic Princess of Śrī Vṛndāvana. The letter la is celebrated as constituting ānandātmaka-prema-sukha, or the happiness of Their mutual ecstatic love that is the form of pure blissful joy. By adding the nāda and bindu, this is the expression of cumban-ānanda-mādhurya, or the ecstatic sweetness of Their most blissful kiss.”
The male parrot explained how Kṛṣṇa is so charming that He is capable of enchanting the hearts of all women throughout the entire universe, especially the gopīs. Upon hearing the male parrot praising Kṛṣna as Madana-mohana, the female parrot began to joke with him. What she then said amazed Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
rādhā-saṅge yadā bhāti tadā madana-mohanaḥ
anyathā viśva-moho’pi svayaṁ madana-mohitaḥ
(“When He is in the company of Rādhā, He shines forth as the enchanter of Kāmadeva. Elsewhere however, even though He can enchant the entire universe, He Himself is overcome by desire.”)
Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja further expounds on this point by stating, rādhikā-vyatīta-kāmadeva-kāma-mohita – ‘Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the God of divine love, becomes bewildered due to His feelings of separation from Śrī Rādhikā.’ It is for this reason that Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is known as Madana-mohana Mohinī, the bewilderer of Madana-mohana. Her power over Kṛṣṇa is explained by Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī:
veṇuḥ karān nipatitaḥ skhalitaṁ śikhaṇḍaṁ
bhraṣṭaṁ ca pīta-vasanaṁ vraja-rāja-sūnoḥ
tāṁ rādhikāṁ paricarāmi kadā rasena
(“When, with divine rasa, will I serve Rādhikā, whose sidelong glances are like arrows which causes the son of the king of Vraja to faint, the flute to fall from His hand, His peacock feather crown to fall from His head, and His yellow cloth to fall from His waist?” – Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi 39)
nānā-śaktiḥ prakaṭayati yo ‘cintya-nānā-tanūbhir
dhatte tāś ca svayam api kadāpy aty-amaryāda-rūpāḥ
nānāvasthā dadhad uru-vidhān yo ‘bhivarṣed rasaughāṁs
taṁ śrī-rādhā-rasa-vaśam ahaṁ naumi vṛndāvanendum
(“I offer respects unto Kṛṣṇa, the moon of Vṛndāvana. Even though He manifests different potencies in many inconceivable forms in various places, and even though sometimes He exhibits infinite forms according to different conditions, and although He is able to create a flood of divine rasa – still, He is defeated by the rasa of Śrī Rādhā.” – Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta 6.27)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is subdued by prema alone, and in particular, by the prema of His hlādinī-śakti, mahā-bhāva-svarūpiṇī, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. In this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja states, prema-vaśya-kṛṣṇa-bhāva-bhakta-hṛc-camatkara (Hearing how Kṛṣṇa is subdued by prema, the hearts of the bhāva-bhaktas are filled with astonishment). Only bhāva-bhaktas, devotees who experience transcendental emotions, can fully appreciate such high topics concerning Rādhā-Govinda’s divine pastimes, and upon hearing these narrations, their hearts are filled with wonder (hṛc-camatkara). By engaging in constant sādhana and sevā, a fortunate and sincere jīva is awarded with bhāva and becomes a bhāva-bhakta. When that bhāva matures, it eventually becomes prema, the eternal opulence of the living entity.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
śrī-prayāga-dhāma – the holy dhāma of Prayāga; rūpa – Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī; rāga-bhakti – spontaneous devotion; sañcara – impart; śrī-sanātanādi – Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī and others; kāśi – in Kāśī; bhakti-śikṣaṇa – instructions on bhakti; ādara – with affection; vaiṣṇava – Vaiṣṇava; anurodha – accepted the opinion; bheda – in contrast; nirviśeṣa – impersonal philosophy; pañjara – confines; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. At Prayāga-dhāma, the Lord imparted instructions to Śrī Rūpa on rāga-bhakti, and in Kāśī He gave instructions on bhakti to Śrī Sanātana and others with great affection, making them accept the conclusion of the Vaiṣṇavas which is in contrast to the confines of impersonalism.
In Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, there are five conversations that are considered to be the most important – Mahāprabhu’s discussion with Rāya Rāmānanda, His talks with Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, His teachings to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, His instructions to Sanātana Gosvāmī and His dialogue with Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī. In this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja mentions three of those conversations.
Śrī-prayāga-dhāma-rūpa-rāga-bhakti-sañcara – when Śrī Rūpa heard that Mahāprabhu had gone to Vṛndāvana, he immediately left Bengal to join Him. At that time, his elder brother Sanātana had been imprisoned by Hussein Shah for neglecting his duties, so Rūpa sent a letter to him informing him of his plans. On the way, Rūpa heard that Mahāprabhu was in Prayāga and met the Lord there. Mahāprabhu remained in Prayāga for ten days, and during that time He gave instructions to Rūpa Gosvāmī on rāga-bhakti, the path of spontaneous bhakti to Kṛṣṇa. These teachings are known as Śrī Rūpa Śikṣā, and based upon what he had heard from Mahāprabhu, Śrī Rūpa wrote works such as Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala Nīlamaṇī and Laghu Bhāgavatāmṛta. Thus, at the beginning of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Rūpa Gosvāmī writes:
hṛdi yasya preraṇayā pravartito’haṁ varāka-rūpo’ pi
tasya hareḥ pada-kamalaṁ vande caitanya-devasya
(“I offer obeisance unto the lotus feet of Caitanyadeva, who is Hari. Although I am a wretched person, due to His inspiration within my heart, I have taken up this work.” – Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.2)
As mentioned previously in Verse 30, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī was made the head of the Gauḍīya sampradāya by Mahāprabhu, thus it is only appropriate that the Lord should instruct him on the most esoteric aspects of Gauḍīya siddhānta pertaining to vraja-rasa. Because Rūpa Gosvāmī has elaborated upon what was transmitted to him by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he is considered to be the abhidheyācārya of the sampradāya – the ācārya who explains the means of attaining service to Rādhā-Govinda. For this reason, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govindadeva, the Deities worshipped by Rūpa Gosvāmī, are meditated upon as the Deities who preside over abhidheya-tattva.
Śrī-sanātanādi-kāśi-bhakti-śikṣaṇādara – after leaving Prayāga, Mahāprabhu went to Kāśī again where He met Sanātana Gosvāmī, who had managed to escape from the Nawab’s prison. During that period in Kāśī, the Lord gave instructions to Sanātana concerning sambandha-jñāna, or the basis of existential reality concerning jīva-tattva, iśvara-tattva, sādhana-tattva and sādhya-tattva. These subjects comprise the very foundation of bhakti-yoga and understanding them is essential in order to progress steadily in spiritual life. Mahāprabhu’s teachings to Sanātana are called Śrī Sanātana Śikṣā, and based upon these instructions, Sanātana wrote his great epic, Śrī Bṛhat Bhāgavatāmṛta and other books describing bhakti-tattva. Due to the directions he had received from the Lord, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī is considered to be the sambandhācārya of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya.
In this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja has written the words, śrī-sanātanādi (Śrī Sanātana and others). The others (adi) refers to devotees such as Candraśekhara and Tapana Miśra, but also to the māyāvādīs of Kāśī led by Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja says, vaiṣṇavānurodha-bheda-nirviśeṣa-pañjara – ‘Mahāprabhu made them accept the Vaiṣṇava siddhānta which is in contrast to the confines of impersonalism.’ The use of the word pañjara is certainly relevant in connection to māyāvāda philosophy. Pañjara denotes a cage because one is trapped within the narrow-mindedness of nirviśēṣa-jñāna (the misconception that the Supreme is devoid of attributes). In the next six verses, Śrīla Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī discusses the Lord’s teachings to Prakāśānanda and the māyāvādīs of Kāśī.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
nyāsi – sannyāsīs; lakṣa – thousands; nāyaka – leader; prakāśānanda – Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī; tāraka – delivered; nyāsi – sannyāsīs; rāśi – multitude; kāśi-vāsi – residents of Kāśī; kṛṣṇa-nāma – the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa; pāraka – enabled to cross; vyāsa-nāradādi – Vyāsadeva, Nārada etc; datta – given; veda – the Vedas; adhī – wisdom; dhurandhara – bearing; prema – love of Kṛṣṇa; dhāma – abode; deva – divine; eva – indeed; naumi – I offer obeisance; gaura–sundara – Gaurasundara.
I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Gaurasundara, that Divine Personality who is the abode of pure prema. The Lord delivered Prakāśānanda, who was the leader of thousands of sannyāsīs, and through the chanting of kṛṣṇa–nāma, He helped many sannyāsīs and residents of Kāśī cross over the ocean of birth and death. Indeed, the Lord is the bearer of the Vedic wisdom as given by Vyāsa, Nārada etc.
Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī was the leader of the Advaitin sannyāsīs of Kāśī. Not much is known about him except for what we can gather from Kavirāja Gosvāmī’s Caitanya-caritāmṛta and a few passages from Caitanya-bhāgavata. The Caitanya-caritāmṛta gives an extensive narration of Prakāśānanda’s conversion by Mahāprabhu, and in the Caitanya-bhāgavata, we find the following conversation between Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Murāri Gupta:
kāśīte paḍāya beṭā prakāśānanda
sei beṭā kare mora aṅga khaṇḍa khaṇḍa
vākhānaye veda mora vigraha nā māne
sarva aṅge haila kuṣṭha, tabu nāhi jāne
(“There is one wretch in Kāśī called Prakāśānanda, who cuts My body into pieces while teaching the Vedas. He explains the Vedas but does not accept My form. His entire body is afflicted by leprosy, yet he still does not come to his senses.” – Caitanya-bhagavata, Madhya-khanda, 3.37-38)
Outside the canon of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava literature, there are very few references to Prakāśānanda – one is a number of texts written by a Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī such as Vedānta Siddhānta Muktāvali, Tāra-Bhakti-Taraṅginī, Manorama, Tantra-rāja-Ṭīka, and the Maha-Lakṣmī-Paddhati. Another is a reference by the famous Advaitin scholar Madhusūdana Sarasvatī who describes the concept of eka-jīva-vāda which was propounded by Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī. All these references date from the 16th Century which is contemporaneous with the era of Mahāprabhu, so it is very possible that they refer to the same Prakāśānanda. However, after his conversion to Vaiṣṇavism, the name of Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī disappears from history. Some persons claim that Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī and the great Vaiṣṇava Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī are one and the same person, but this speculation has been refuted by Vaiṣṇava ācāryas.
According to Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, prior to Mahāprabhu meeting Prakāśānanda in Kāśī, there was some correspondence between them. It seems that Prakāśānanda had already heard of Mahāprabhu’s reputation and could not comprehend why a sannyāsī of the Advaita school would reside in Purī rather than Kāśī. In his introduction to Śrī Caitanya Gītā, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura writes:
One day, a sannyāsī gave a letter to the Lord. The Lord gave the letter to Svarūpa who read the following śloka:
yatrāste maṇikarṇikā agha-sara sad-dīrghikā dirghikā
ratnaṁ tāraka-mokṣadaṁ tanubhṛte śambhuḥ svayaṁ yacchati
etasmin-khalu śambhunātha-nagarī nirvāṇa-mārge sthite
mūḍho’nyatra marīcikāsu paśuvat pratyāśayā dhāvati
iti prakāśānanda sarasvatī
(“There is a place where the Maṇikarṇika lake and the divine river stemming from the heavens [the Gaṅgā] frees one from all contamination, and Śambhu himself bestows the jewel-like mantra of liberation upon those who reside there. Yet despite the existence of this town of Lord Śambhu that awards the path of nirvāṇa, fools prefer to remain elsewhere to fulfil other desires, like a beast running towards a mirage!”- signed, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī)
Smiling slightly, the Lord then wrote a response to this śloka, and sent it back to Prakāśānanda in Vārāṇasī-dhāma. He wrote as follows:
gharmāmbho maṇikarṇikā bhagavataḥ pādambu-bhāgīrathī
ratnaṁ tāraka mokṣakaṁ tanubhṛte yat tārakaṁ tārakaṁ
kāśīnāṁ patir-aṁśamasya bhajate śrī-viśvanātha svayaṁ
tasmād asyad anudinaṁ bhaja sakhe śrīpāda-nirvāṇadaṁ
(“O friend, why are you not engaged in daily bhajana of that Personality whose divine feet award liberation? He whose perspiration created Maṇikarṇika-kuṇḍa, and from Whose feet the waters of Bhagirathī Gaṅgā was manifest. He who the lord of Kāśī, Viśvanātha himself, worships and is but a part. He who delivers that person [Śiva] who bestows the jewel-like mantra of liberation upon those who reside there.”)
Prakāśānanda again wrote back:
śālyannaṁ sa ghṛtaṁ payo-dadhi yutaṁ ye bhuñjate mānavās
teṣam indriyani-graho yadi bhaved vindhyas-taret-sāgaram
(“If humans that fatten themselves upon high class rice mixed with ghee, milk or yoghurt were able to control their senses, then the Vindhya Mountains would also be able to swim across the ocean!”)
Reading this śloka, the Lord was not happy, and His disciples wrote and sent the following response as follows:
siṁho balī dvirada-śūkara-māṁsa bhojī
saṁvatsareṇa kurute ratim eka-vāram
pārāvataḥ khalu śilākaṇ-mātra bhojī
kāmī bhaved-anudinaṁ vada ko’tra hetuḥ
(“The strong lion, which devours the flesh of elephants and boars, only makes love once a year. However, the pigeon, which only eats grains and small stones, is able to make love daily – what is the reason for this?”)
Prakāśānanda was criticizing the Lord for eating large quantities of prasādam. However, the followers of Mahāprabhu led by Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī replied that a lion regularly feasts on the flesh of other animals, but only engages in sex annually. The pigeon, however, subsists on tiny grains and dirt, but engages in sex many times a day. In other words, if sense-control depends upon the intake of food, then how do we explain such an anomaly?
When the Lord came to Kāśī on his way to Vṛndāvana, a brāhmaṇa came to see the Lord and told him how he had spoken about His qualities to Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, who simply derided Him as a bhāvuka (sentimentalist) and a pratāraka (pretender). Mahāprabhu simply smiled. On His way back from Vṛndāvana, the Lord returned to Kāśī. He stayed at the residence of Candraśekhara and took His meals at the home of Tapana Miśra. At that time, Candraśekhara and Tapana Miśra told the Lord that Prakāśānanda and his followers were criticizing Him and their offensive words were breaking their hearts. As they explained this to Him, a brāhmaṇa suddenly arrived with an invitation for all the sannyāsīs of Kāśī to take prasāda at his home. The Lord accepted the invitation in order that He could finally meet Prakāśānanda and his followers.
What followed was an extraordinary encounter between Śrī Caitanya and Prakāśānanda, which concluded with Prakāśānanda and his many followers being delivered from the mire of māyāvāda siddhāntā (nyāsi-lakṣa-nāyaka-prakāśānanda-tāraka). Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes:
sei haite sannyāsīra phiri gela mana
kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa nāma sadā karaye grahaṇa
ei-mate tāṅ-sabāra kśami aparādha
sabākāre kṛṣṇa-nāma karilā prasāda
(“From that time onwards, the sannyāsīs changed and constantly chanted ‘Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!’ in their minds. In this way, the Lord forgave all their offences and mercifully gave them kṛṣṇa-nāma.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 7.149-150)
nikaṭe hari-dhvani śuni parakāśānanda
dekhite kautuke āilā lañā śiṣya-vṛnda
dekhiyā prabhura nṛtya prema dehera mādhurī
śiṣya-gaṇa-saṅge sei bale hari hari
(“Hearing the chanting of “Hari!” nearby, Prakāśānanda was eager to see, and took his disciples with him. Seeing the Lord’s dancing, His prema and His sweet form, Prakāśānanda and his disciples all began to chant, ‘Hari! Hari!’” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 25.66-67)
Kavirāja Gosvāmī goes on to say that by the chanting of kṛṣṇa-nāma, Mahāprabhu delivered the residents of Kāśī (nyāsi-rāśi-kāśi-vāsi-kṛṣṇa-nāma-pāraka):
snāna karite yabe yā’na gaṅgā-tīre
tāhāñi sakala loka haya mahā-bhiḍe
bāhu tuli prabhu bale bala hari hari
hari-dhvani kare loka svarga-martya bhari
(“When He went to take bath on the banks of the Gaṅgā, large crowds of people would congregate. The Lord would raise His arms and cry, “Chant Hari Hari!” and the loud sound of ‘Hari!’ would fill the land and skies.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 7.158-159)
Finally, in this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja writes, vyāsa-nāradādi-datta-veda-dhī-dhurandhara (‘the Lord is the bearer of the Vedic wisdom as given by Vyāsa, Nārada etc’). Mahāprabhu defeated Prakāśānanda’s māyāvāda philosophy by presenting the Vaiṣṇava theology that is handed down through the paramparā. In particular, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja mentions Vyāsa because the māyāvādīs specifically studied the Vedānta-sūtras of Śrīla Vyāsadeva, and thus they respected him. However, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja then mentions the name of Nārada, the guru of Vyāsa. This is extremely significant because it was by the inspiration of Nārada Ṛṣi that Vyāsa wrote the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, which is the natural commentary on the Vedānta.
artho ‘yaṁ brahma-sūtrāṇāṁ bhāratārtha-vinirṇayaḥ
gāyatrī-bhāṣya-rūpo ‘sau vedārtha-paribṛṁhitaḥ
(“The Bhāgavatam is the explanation of the Brahma-sūtra [Vedānta], the purport of the Mahābhārata, the commentary on the gāyatrī-mantra and the expansion meaning of the Veda.” – Garuḍa Purāṇa)
This will be further explained in the next verse.