Prema Dhama Deva Stotram – Verses 9-12
His Divine Grace
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Narasiṅgha Sevaka Vivṛtti
by Tridaṇḍi Swami Bhakti Vijñāna Giri
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
śrī nimāi–paṇḍita – Nimāi Paṇḍita; iti – thus; nāma – the name; deśa – the land; vandita – respected; navya–tarka – the system of navya-tarka; dakṣa – expert; dambhi – proud scholars; dambha – pride; khaṇḍita – destroyed; sthāpita – establish; artha – theory; khaṇḍa–khaṇḍa–khaṇḍa – again and again He defeated; sambhara – support; 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. Thus, the name of Śrī Nimāi Paṇḍita was respected throughout the land. He destroyed the pride of thousands of conceited scholars who were expert in navya-tarka. Having established a theory, He would then defeat it with another, and then defeat that conclusion also.
There is an apocryphal story in Navadvīpa that once, the famous logician Raghunātha Śiromaṇi was on a boat in the Gaṅgā with Nimāi Paṇḍita who had just finished composing a treatise on Nyāya. He showed it to Raghunātha, who upon seeing it began to weep. When asked by Mahāprabhu why he was crying, the logician replied, “Seeing this, I feel that my own commentary on Nyāya is useless! Once people read this, nobody will read mine!” Mahāprabhu smiled and replied, “Then do not worry!” and taking His manuscript, He simply threw it into the waters of the Gaṅgā.
Whether or not this story is true, it gives us an insight into Nimāi Paṇḍita’s reputation at that time as an unconquerable scholar of Nyāya as well as His detachment to mundane knowledge. It is said that Mahāprabhu would create a logical hypothesis (pakṣa) and then defeat His own theory with a counter-theory (pratipakṣa). Then he would argue against the counter-theory with another concept – in this way, to the astonishment of all, the Lord played with logic and reasoning just as a child plays with clay. Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura writes:
hena se sādhvasa janme prabhure dekhiyā
sabei yāyena eka-dike namra haiyā
(Upon seeing the Lord coming, the students and teachers would panic and becoming timid, they would all try to avoid Him. – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 13.10)
When the Vaiṣṇavas would come to the Gaṅgā to take their daily bath, they watch Nimāi teaching Nyāya and defeating other teachers and students. The Vaiṣṇavas would lament, “If someone who possesses such beauty and erudition is not a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, then what is the point?”
In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, we find the great brahmavādī, Śukadeva was deputed to hear the Bhāgavata from his father, Veda Vyāsa and narrate that to Parīkṣit in front of so many ṛṣis and munis, many of whom were themselves brahmavādīs. In this way, many sages who respected Śukadeva heard his explanations on kṛṣṇa–bhakti and abandoned their impersonalism. Similarly, the Lord’s display of unparalleled learning in Nyāya was only to capture the attention of the dry logicians of that time.
Commenting on this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja says:
“He was an exceptional scholar. All the scholars that came to Navadvīpa were defeated by Nimāi Paṇḍita. He was a genius from His young age, so the fame of Nimāi Paṇḍita was all around the country. Nimāi Paṇḍita was a very strong personality. Many scholars from different corners of India came to talk with Him, but they were defeated. They could not go further. Śrī-nimāi-paṇḍiteti-nāma-deśa-vanditaṁ – His name was honoured throughout the country. What others produced, He cut asunder, and again He corrected them and explained Himself very perfectly. But when others put it to Him, He smashed it. Then again, He corrected and gave the meaning. Khaṇḍa-khaṇḍa-khaṇḍitārtha-sambharaṁ. He was preaching very profusely, and He was such a great logician that He could cut all asunder. They could not do anything. In this way, this capacity was there. Sthāpitārtha-khaṇḍa-khaṇḍa-khaṇḍitārtha-sambharaṁ. In His young age, He was a dreadful figure to the scholars.” (lecture, August 5th, 1982)
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
śloka – verses; gāṅga – to the River Gaṅgā; vandana – glorify; artha – in order to; dig–jigīṣu – the scholar who had conquered all directions; bhāṣita – composed; vyatya – pointed out; alaṅkṛta – poetical ornamentation; ādi – etc; doṣa – flaws; tarka – arguments; artha – meanings; dūṣita – defeated; dhvasta – destroy; yukti – arguments; ruddha – curb; buddhi – intellect; datta – gave; dhīmat – scholar; adara – respect; 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. When the digvijayī-paṇḍita composed verses to glorify the Gaṅgā, the Lord immediately pointed out all the grammatical flaws in the poetry as regards alaṅkāra etc. and defeated all the arguments of that scholar. Even though He had curbed and destroyed the scholars intellect, the Lord still gave him respect as a scholar.
This pastime is narrated in Chapter 13 of the Ādi-khaṇḍa of Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, and Chapter 16 of the Ādi-līlā of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. The background to this līlā has been explained in the commentary to verse 6.
Keśava Bhaṭṭa was a worshipper of Sarasvatī, the goddess of knowledge. He had received a Sarasvatī mantra, and after chanting it constantly for a long period of time, had achieved mantra-siddhi (perfection of the mantra). Goddess Sarasvatī herself had manifest to him and blessed him that he would defeat all his opponents. When Keśava Bhaṭṭa came to Navadvīpa in 1502 CE, he demanded that the scholars there should either defeat him or submit a jaya-pātra (a certificate of victory) to him. Despite their great erudition, the paṇḍitas of Navadvīpa knew that Keśava Bhaṭṭa was favoured by Sarasvatī, and due to his reputation, they were afraid to face him. When the news came to Mahāprabhu, He smiled and said:
bujha dekhi, kā’ra garva cūrṇa nāhi haya
sarvathā īśvara ahaṅkāra nāhi saya
(“Try to understand – whose pride has not been destroyed? The Lord never tolerates anyone’s false ego.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 13.47)
When Keśava Bhaṭṭa heard about the glories of Nimāī Paṇḍita, he came to the banks of the Gaṅga in the evening where Mahāprabhu was surrounded by His students. After Keśava Bhaṭṭa had introduced himself, Mahāprabhu requested him to compose some verses glorifying Gaṅgā Devī. Immediately, Keśava Bhaṭṭa began to recite one-hundred ślokas in praise of Gaṅgā for three hours. After he had concluded, Mahāprabhu pointed out one particular verse:
mahattvaṁ gaṅgāyāḥ satatam idam ābhāti nitarāṁ
yad eṣā śrī-viṣṇoś caraṇa-kamalotpatti-subhagā
dvitīya-śrī-lakṣmīr iva sura-narair arcya-caraṇā
bhavānī-bhartur yā śirasi vibhavaty adbhuta-guṇā
(The glories of Gaṅgā eternally shine and are without comparison. This is because she is most fortunate, having emanated from the lotus feet of Śrī Viṣṇu. She is a second Lakṣmī, and thus her feet are always worshiped by Devas and humans alike. Possessing wonderful qualities, she appears upon the head of Śiva, the husband of Bhavānī.)
Keśava Bhaṭṭa was surprised how Mahāprabhu could remember one particular verse out of a hundred that were flowing from his mouth like a stream of water. Mahāprabhu then asked the scholar to explain what were the faults in the verse. At this, Keśava Bhaṭṭa became indignant and claimed that the verse was faultless. The Lord then pointed out all the grammatical flaws in the composition. Details of this can be found in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 16.53-86.
With his pride crushed, Keśava Bhaṭṭa went away and prayed to Sarasvatī. The goddess came to him in a dream that night and informed him of the true position of Nimāi Paṇḍita. Divya Sarasvatī is the eternal consort of Mahā-Viṣṇu, thus she is the eternal consort of Śrī Caitanya. She is His samvit-śakti (knowledge potency). This Divya Sarasvatī expands into Goddess Sarasvatī, the consort of Brahmā, and it was this goddess who blessed Keśava Bhaṭṭa with material knowledge. In this regard, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura writes:
“Parā-vidyā (transcendental knowledge), or Sarasvatī, hides her true identity away from those jīvas who are full of false-ego, stupidity, that are subject to sense-enjoyment, and absorbed in considering themselves as the doer. In her shadow form as Duṣṭā Sarasvatī, she deceives them by giving them blessings. Although such proud persons that attain her blessings are capable of conquering the three worlds, they are also capable of being completely defeated by Bhagavān, the Lord of all blessings. Sarasvatī Devī does not wish for her own Supreme Lord to be defeated, thus she deceives the bound jīvas who are bewildered by māyā from engaging in kīrtana of the glories of Bhagavān’s Holy Names. When Śuddhā Sarasvatī Devī observes that her sādhaka devotee is averse to bhagavat-sevā, she bewilders him with her shadow-form of aparā-vidyā (mundane knowledge).” (Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa, 13.22 commentary)
Erudition in grammar, logic etc. is not the criterion to comprehend the highest truth. In fact, scholarship may become a burden and an obstacle in advancement in self-realisation. Our Gurudeva, Śrīla Bhakti Gaurava Narasiṅgha Mahārāja has written:
“Scholarship, in and of itself, is no qualification for understanding divinity or revelation. Those who go by the name ‘scholar’ are simply licking the jar of nectar from the outside. Thus they have no capacity to understand divine revelation. All too often scholars want to study some books and through the acquisition of knowledge they want to be recognised as an authority of a particular spiritual tradition. However, without actually following spiritual principles they cannot do so. In particular, the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition mandates that one take shelter of the spiritual master and remain under his instruction. This is an indispensable instruction for those who want to become successful in spiritual life.”
This is also stated in Kaṭha Upaniṣad:
nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo
na medhayā na bahunā śrutena
yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyas
tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanūṁ svām
(The Supreme cannot be realised simply by lecturing, or by applying one’s mundane intelligence or by studying many scriptures. Only he that the Supreme favours is able to realise Him. To that person the Supreme reveals His own personal form. – Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.23)
One may be adept at mental speculation and offer imaginative, scholarly explanations about spiritual topics. One may even be skilled in the study of all branches of Vedic literature, hear many devotional discourses, or be expert in composing Sanskrit ślokas. However, none of these worldly qualifications are sufficient in order to realise the Absolute Truth. Such processes of acquiring knowledge through our own intellectual, empirical endeavours is called āroha-panthā, or the ascending process. The Lord only reveals His divine form and nature to one whom He favours, who is sincerely eager to engage in His service and prays for His mercy. Kṛṣṇa bestows real knowledge to such a devotee through the guru-disciple succession. Such descending knowledge is known as avaroha-panthā. In this way, by His own will, the Infinite can make Himself known to the finite.
At the end of this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja points out, dhvasta-yukti-ruddha-buddhi-datta-dhīmadādaraṁ – despite defeating Keśava Bhaṭṭa and smashing his scholastic pride, Mahāprabhu also treated him with respect. Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura explains that Mahāprabhu was thinking that if the scholar was defeated in a public assembly, he would feel great pain at heart. All his wealth would be plundered by others and Keśava Bhaṭṭa would sink into depression. Thus, the Lord subjugated him in a secluded place on the banks of the Gaṅgā. In this way, Mahāprabhu taught His followers the example of jīvera-dayā (compassion for all jīvas).
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
sūtra – the aphorisms of Sanskrit grammar; vṛtti – explanations; ṭippanī – commentary; iṣṭa – general meaning; sūkṣma – subtle; vācana – speak; adbhutaṁ – amazing; dhātu – root verbs; mātra – only; kṛṣṇa – Kṛṣṇa; śakti – potency; sarva – everything; viśva – universes; sambhṛtam – maintains; ruddha – abundant; buddhi – intelligence; paṇḍita – scholars; augha – many; na – not; anya – other; yukti – logical conclusions; nirdharaṁ – support; 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. His wonderful explanations would draw out the general and subtle meanings of Pāṇini’s sūtras, and He would show how the root verbs only refer to the potencies of Kṛṣṇa that sustain everything in the universe. Hearing this, scholars of great intelligence could not maintain any other logical conclusion.
As seen from the pastime of Mahāprabhu’s defeating Keśava Bhaṭṭa, Mahāprabhu was not only expert in Nyāya, but also in Sanskrit vyākaraṇa (grammar). Here Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja explains how the Lord would give very intricate explanations on the sūtras of Pāṇini. The famous grammarian Pāṇini lived in the 4th Century BCE and is famous for his text, Aṣṭādhyāyī which is a sūtra style treatise deliniating the rules of Sanskrit grammar. This is the most famous work on grammar in India and is used by all teachers and students of Sanskrit. Despite the Aṣṭādhyāyī being a mundane textbook on grammar, Mahāprabhu was able to extract subtle explanations from it’s sūtras, and in particular the dhātus (root verbs), that indicate Kṛṣṇa and His various potencies. In Caitanya-bhāgavata, Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura writes:
prabhura nā sphure kṛṣṇa-vyatireke āna
śabda-mātre kṛṣṇa-bhakti karaye vyākhyāna
paḍuyā sakale bale dhātu-saṁjñā kāra
prabhu bale śrī-kṛṣṇera śakti nāma yāra
dhātu-sūtra vākhāni śunaha bhāi-gaṇa
dekhi kāra śakti āche karuka khaṇḍana
(The Lord would not have anything to do with those things not connected to Kṛṣṇa. He explained how every word is connected to kṛṣṇa-bhakti. All the students inquired, “What is dhātu-saṁjñā [the definition of the root verb]?” The Lord replied, “That which is known as Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s potency. Listen as I explain the sūtras concerning dhātu, O brothers. I want to see who has the power to refute it.” – Caitanya-bhāgavat, Madhya-khaṇḍa Chapter 1.324-326)
Mahāprabhu then translated the word dhātu as refering to the active principle within the body of a jīva, which is a manifestation of Kṛṣṇa’s potency that sustains all things within the universe (sarva-viśva-sambhṛtam). The Lord went on to say:
sarva-dehe dhātu-rūpe vaise kṛṣṇa-śakti
tāhā-sane kare sneha tāhāne se bhakti
bhrama-vaśe adhyāpaka nā bujhaye ihā
haya naya bhāi-saba bujha mana diyā
ebe yāṅre namaskāri kari mānya-jñāna
dhātu gele, tāṅre paraśile kari snāna
ye bāpera kole putra thāke mahā-sukhe
dhātu gele sei putra agni deya mukhe
dhātu-saṁjñā kṛṣṇa-śakti vallabha sabāra
dekhi ihā dūṣuka āchaye śakti kāra
(Kṛṣṇa’s potency resides within all material bodies in the form of the dhātu. All affection and bhakti is only meant for Him. Due to bewilderment, many teachers cannot understand this. But brothers! Think about this carefully – am I right or wrong? There are those to whom we now offer our respects, yet when the dhātu leaves them, we have to take bath after touching them! That son who was extremely happy on the lap of his father must place fire in the mouth of his father after the dhātu leaves him. This dhātu-saṁjñā is Kṛṣṇa’s potency, who is loved by all. So let Me see! Is there anyone with the power to defeat this point? – Caitanya-bhāgavat, Madhya-khaṇḍa Chapter 1.330-334)
Based on explanations such as these by Mahāprabhu, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu wrote his Hari-nāmāmṛta Vyākaraṇa, in which all the rules of Sanskrit grammar are exemplified with the Holy Names of Kṛṣṇa and His avatāras. Thus, due to the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Śrī Jīva Gosvāmīpada, the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas are the only sampradāya to have their own system of grammar based upon the Holy Names of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Word for Word
kṛṣṇa – Kṛṣṇa; dṛṣṭi – glance; pāta – falls; hetu – cause; śabdaka – words; artha – meaning; yojanaṁ – connected; sphoṭavāda – the philosophy of Sphoṭavāda; śṛṅkhala – bound; eka – alone; bhitti – separate; kṛṣṇa – Kṛṣṇa; vīkṣaṇam – glance; sthūla – gross; sūkṣma – subtle; mūla – main; lakṣya – objective; kṛṣṇa – Kṛṣṇa; saukhya – pleasure; sambhara – provide; 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 explained that the meaning of all words is revealed simply by Kṛṣṇa’s glance falling upon them, and that only those bound to the Sphoṭa philosophy have separated Kṛṣṇa from that. The main objective of all things subtle and gross is to provide pleasure to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
As described in the previous verse, because Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was fully absorbed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, He explained all grammatical rules in relation to Him. Here, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahāraja states that not only did Mahāprabhu relate all the rules of Sanskrit grammar to Kṛṣṇa, but all word meanings as well. He uses the phrase, kṛṣṇa-dṛṣṭi (‘the glance of Kṛṣṇa’) to imply that ultimately, it is Kṛṣṇa’s sanction which is the deciding factor connecting a sound with its intrinsic meaning. Ṭhākura Vṛndāvana Dāsa has written:
śiṣya bale varṇa siddha haila kemane
prabhu bale kṛṣṇa-dṛṣṭi-pātera kāraṇe
(The students asked, “How were the letters of the alphabet perfected?” The Lord replied, “Due to the glance of Kṛṣṇa falling upon them.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 1.253)
Each letter of the Sanskrit alphabet is perfect because ultimately they all represent the Names of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, the syllables and words found in the Vedic literature have not been asigned meanings by mundane grammarians such as Pāṇini. The Vedas are śabda-brahma, eternal sound vibrations that are non-different from the Absolute Truth. As such, they are beyond the intellectual dictates of human beings.
Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has explained that all words can be understood from three perspectives, namely by vidvad-rūḍhi (it’s original esoteric meaning) sādhāraṇa-rūḍhi (it’s exoteric meaning) or ajña-rūḍhi (an erroneous meaning). Due to their indulgence in sense-enjoyment and desires for liberation, mundane grammarians generally explain the words of the Vedas according to ajña-rūḍhi and reject vidvad-rūḍhi which demonstrates how every syllable is connected to kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Mahāprabhu taught His students to study grammar using the process of vidvad-rūḍhi. Similarly, it is to be understood that anyone who sees Kṛṣṇa Himself and śrī–kṛṣṇa-nāma as intrinsically different from one other, is affected by ajña-rūḍhi.
In the second line of this verse, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja mentions the Sphoṭavāda philosophy. This theory is associated with grammarians such as Pāṇini, Bhartṛhari and Yakṣa. Etymologically, the word sphoṭa is derived from the root-verb sphuṭ (to blossom, or open), which refers to the meaning of a word becoming manifest within the mind. The concept of Sphoṭavāda is that sound, in it’s unmanifest state, is eternal, whereas sound in its manifest form is temporary. For example, first, an external sound reaches one’s mind through the ears. Then the mind absorbs and understands the external sound it has received. Therefore, the external words, which have travelled through the ether, perish. However, the meaning conveyed by them resides permanently within the mind of the listener. Thus, the philosophy of Sphoṭavāda postulates that word meanings are independent from their individual syllables, and a word meaning is only understood due to a completed thought in sentence form within the mind. As regards mantras, the Sphoṭavādī claims that the power of a mantra fully depends upon how the mind understands its word and sentence meanings. The potency is not inherent within the individual syllables of the mantra. In other words, the Sphoṭavādī lays emphasis upon the individual’s intellectual capacity of comprehending the meaning of a mantra and not on the transcendental potency of the mantra itself. Thus, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahāraja uses the phrase, bhitti-kṛṣṇa-vīkṣaṇam – the Sphoṭavādī negates the potency and will of Kṛṣna.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has explained the concept of Sphōtavāda from the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava perspective:
“By considering meaningful words or the sphoṭa to be different from the syllables, grammarians or lexicographers have created disgareements amongst different sampradāyas. However, all the sectarian disputes arising from ordinary Sphoṭavāda are resolved in the Gauḍīya philosophy of Śrī Nāma. In ordinary Sphoṭavāda there is a difference between the syllables of a word and the subject to which they refer because this deliberation on the nature of sound takes place within the ether of prakṛti or this material universe. However, the vidvad-rūḍhi perspective on Sphoṭavāda precludes any type of intervention or obstruction of māyā, the material energy. In this Sphoṭavāda there is no difference at all between the syllables and their referent, the sound and its meaning, the signifier and the signified. There is no impossibility of all syllables bearing meaning because the syllables and their referent, the sound and its meaning, the signifier and the signified, are all subjects of the spiritual space (Paravyoma). In regard to the vidvad-rūḍhi Sphoṭavāda it has been stated in Śrīmad Bhāgavata:
śṛṇoti ya imaṁ sphoṭaṁ supta-śrotre ca śūnya-dṛk
yena vāg vyajyate yasya vyaktir ākāśa ātmanaḥ
sva-dhāmno brahmaṇaḥ sākṣād vācakaḥ paramātmanaḥ
sa sarva-mantropaniṣad veda-bījaṁ sanātanam
(When the sense of hearing does not function in its covered state, the Puruṣa, who by nature is full of knowledge, hears the sphoṭa, that is, the unmanifest sound of the prāṇava, oṁkāra, without the assistance of material senses. He is the Paramātma. The statements of the Vedas, which illuminate all meanings, are expanded only by this sphoṭa. The sphoṭa personally manifests from the Paramātma in the ether of the heart. The sphoṭa directly denotes Brahman, which is its own shelter, and Paramātma. This is the mystery of all mantras and the eternal seed of all the Vedas. – Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 12.6.41)
Teachers of Gauḍīya philosophy such as Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu have presented their deliberation on Sphoṭavāda in terms of acintya-bhedābheda-siddhānta. Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s Śikṣāṣṭaka presents the fully developed realisation of the nature of sphoṭa. He has summarised Sphoṭavāda in very few words – kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ – Śrī Hari’s name, form, qualities, and pastimes are to be glorified at all times. Śrīman Mahāprabhu has not given instruction to cover the whole world with words that will impede advaya-jñāna, non-dual awareness. In vidvad-rūḍhi-vṛtti every word indicates Viṣṇu, the Para-brahma. In every word the vidvad-rūḍhi is revealed through the sphoṭa-dharma.”