Monday, September 29, 2008

A niggling question answered

There has been a niggling question about Krishna's different prakāśa forms, which was left over from debates a long time ago on Gaudiya Discussions. If Krishna is one, does each of his different forms have a separate sense of identity?

Radha and Krishna are One. There are countless quotations that support this siddhanta. But how should we understand this? If Radha is just another form of Krishna, then how can they be considered different, having truly different identities, for the sake of lila?

My instinctual argument all along was that the imperative of madhurya means that such fragmentation of God's personality is factual and necessary. This is an aspect of Krishna's acintya-śakti. How many different ways can Krishna be simultaneously one and different from Himself?

So, here is confirmation from Bhagavat-sandarbha 35:

यत एवं सत्योरपि तत्तदाकारप्रकाशगतयोस्तदारम्भसमाप्त्योरेकत्रैव ते ते जन्मकर्मणोरंशा यावत् समाप्यन्ते न समाप्यन्ते वा तावदेवान्यत्राप्यारब्धा भवतीत्येवं श्रीभगवति विच्छेदाभावान् नित्ये एव तत्र ते जन्मकर्मणी वर्तेते। तत्र ते क्वचित् किञ्चिद्विलक्षणत्वेनारभ्येते ते क्वचिदैकरूप्येण चेति ज्ञेयम्। विशेषणभेदाद्विशेषणैक्याच् च। एक एवाकारः प्रकाशभेदेन पृथक् क्रियास्पदं भवतीति चित्रं बतैतदेकेन वपुषा (भा.पु. १०.६९.२) इत्यादौ प्रतिपादितम्। ततः क्रियाभेदात् तत्तत्क्रियात्मकेषु प्रकाशभेदेष्वभिमानभेदश्च गम्यते। तथा सति एकत्रैकत्र लीलाक्रमजनितरसोद्बोधश्च जायते।

Here it should be noted that sometimes [such pastimes] may begin a little differently, sometimes in the same way, due to either having the same qualifiers or not. One form can perform different actions in different prakāśa manifestations. This has already been established in the explanation of the verse, “It is amazing that Krishna has alone, in a single body, been able to simultaneously marry 16,000 wives, each in their own separate home” (10.69.2).

Because of differences in their activities, there can also be a difference in the sense of identity (abhimāna-bheda) of the different prakāśa manifestations that perform them. This being the case, a different sense of relish (rasa) is awakened in each prakāśa as a result of the particular sequence of pastimes in the different places. (līlā-krama-janita-rasa-bodhaś ca jāyate)

This discussion goes on from there, but I will leave it there as the essential has been stated.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hindi blog started

I started my Hindi blog today. It will be difficult to manage two blogs, but I figure if I am going to speak in Hindi, I may as well write in Hindi, too.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Yugala Upasana

The meaning of seeing God in the direction of love means that the presence of love confirms the presence of God. What is interesting here is that physical love is not excluded, but is accepted as being at the very basis of love itself, since the expression of romantic love in Radha and Krishna is seen as the ultimate truth.

Just as Ashley Montague discovered in the 60's how important the skin and the sense of touch were to the healthy psychological development of the infant, and to the further spiritual sense of well-being in the adult, the sense of touch is also an integral part of love and bhakti.

Therefore it is said, tviṣaḥ phalaṁ tvādṛśa-gātra-sparśaḥ, sudurlabho bhāgavato hi loke. "The fruit of the skin is to touch your body, for great devotees like you are so rare in this world."

Radha and Krishna are Love; they are the core of love. Love is formless, anaṅga, but it takes form. The form it takes must be dual, because the very basis of love is interaction, the attraction of opposites.

In one of the dualistic concepts of the Deity, where the jiva and God are set in a juxtaposition as opposites and love is primarily seen as being the relationship of the jiva with God, i.e., in the concept where God is the puruṣa and the jiva is prakṛti -- valid concepts all -- we must recognize that certain elements of understanding are still incomplete. You could call this the old paradigm of bhakti, which leads to the idea of sambhoga and all the other kinds of bridal mysticism that dot the religious landscape, east and west.

Though historically it grows out of the above, the Radha and Krishna concept is different because it comes out of an understanding of the idea of universal love. In this concept, God is not Krishna alone, but Radha and Krishna together. The Shakti and the Shaktiman are God together, not independently of one another: pṛthak, apṛthak. They are love manifest, and the jiva stands in relationship to them as the devotee of Love Incarnate.

Sakhī bistāriyā āra sakhī āsvādaya. The position of the jiva is that she serves Love. She expands the pastimes of love and she relishes the results. Not through attempting to split the Divine Syzygy by some misplaced idea that they can bring pleasure to one or the other Moieties (as Siddhanta Saraswati called them) of the Divine Unity, but by serving that Divine Unity in all instances. Basically, that means in the widest sense of the concept, unifying the unified. Starting with oneself, of course: harmonizing the disharmony of the psyche. And then expanding outward.

The jiva, as Jiva Goswami so nicely explains in Prīti-sandarbha, does not give God joy, because God is vibhu, and the bliss of the jiva is infinitesmal. Therefore, in order for the jiva to give God pleasure, she must become joined with the Internal Potency. That is where bhakti comes from. This is why the siddhanta about bhakti coming from outside the jiva is so significant. Those who think that by purification one finds the inherent bhakti within have not understood properly.

Anyway, in Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi class today, there was one compound word in the commentary that I spent the whole class talking about, basically repeating the above. The context in the commentary is that Krishna, being Radharani's servant, and being dependent on her, is not in control of when and where he will get this famous fortunate fragrant breeze that emanates from her cloth (the word kadāpi in the verse limits the occasions). In other words, being under the influence of Yogamaya, Krishna is dependent on circumstances.

However, the commentator says sahṛdayaika-bhāvanīyāvasare, the occasion that Krishna receives this good fortune is dependent on the meditation of the sahṛdaya or sympathetic audience alone.

In order to explain this, I had to talk about rasa theory and what it means to be a sahṛdaya-sāmājika or properly prepared recipient of the rasa. This I developed up to the point of one's practicing identification with the siddha gopi-deha and hearing, chanting and doing sādhanā in consciousness of this identity. This is what makes you a sahṛdaya, or an audience qualified to relish the rasa.

दुकूलं बिभ्राणम् अथ कुचतटे कञ्चुकपटं
प्रसादं स्वामिन्याः स्वकरतलदत्तं प्रणयतः।
स्थितां नित्यं पार्श्वे विविधपरिचर्यैकचतुरां
किशोरीम् आत्मानं किम् इह सुकुमारीं नु कलये॥

dukūlaṁ bibhrāṇam atha kuca-taṭe kañcuka-paṭaṁ
prasādaṁ svāminyāḥ sva-kara-tala-dattaṁ praṇayataḥ 
sthitāṁ nityaṁ pārśve vividha-paricaryaika-caturāṁ
kiśorīm ātmānaṁ kim iha sukumārīṁ nu kalaye
I meditate on myself as a beautiful young girl, wearing a cloth and a blouse that were the remnants of my Swamini’s clothing and given to me by her own hand. I am standing next to her always, expert in various kinds of service. (RRSN 53)
From there I went on to explain that the sakhis are the real sahṛdayas. Then I talked again about the verse,

sakhī binu ei līlāra puṣṭi nāhi haya
sakhī vistāriyā āra sakhī āsvādaya

"The sakhis develop the līlā and the sakhis are the ones to relish it."

As stated above, the sakhis are actually worshiping Love Itself. What was good is that I explained in Hindi about masculine and feminine qualities inside everyone and balance, etc. I quoted the same imau gaurī-nīle verse that inspires the first part of this blog. How it is the sakhis' job to bring Radha and Krishna together and then they relish the delight of seeing, as here, Krishna feeling the sense of fulfillment that comes from Radha's breezes.

In all this, the intelligent or rational person has to keep the symbol and its meaning simultaneously one and different. A living symbol is precisely a symbol that has life. In other words, a living symbol is one that emanates meaning. Since Radha and Krishna are a living symbol of love, they are reflected (to the devotee) in all manifestations love; at the same time, meditation on them produces love in the heart. If one learns through sādhanā to develop a synergy between the two, i.e., the experience of love and the worship of the symbol, then they mutually feed each other upwards to infinity.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Those four things again

I mentioned Harivamsa in a post a day or two ago. The same idea is found in the following verse of Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta--

जयति जयति राधा प्रेमसारैरगाधा
जयति जयति कृष्णस्तद्रसापारतृष्णः।
जयति जयति वृन्दं सत्सखीनां द्वयैक्यं
जयति जयति वृन्दाकाननं तत्स्वधाम॥९।४५॥

jayati jayati rādhā prema-sārair agādhā
jayati jayati kṛṣṇas tad-rasāpāra-tṛṣṇḥ
jayati jayati vṛndaṁ sat-sakhīnāṁ dvayaikyaṁ
jayati jayati vṛndā-kānanaṁ tat-sva-dhāma 9.45

Glories, all glories to Radha,
fathomless with the essences of love;
Glories, all glories to Krishna,
unlimitedly thirsty to taste those flavors;
Glories, all glories to the sakhis,
who are one with that Divine Couple;
Glories, all glories to Vrinda's forest,
the personal abode of this one truth.

About the Gauri-Shyama verse from Gopala Champu I quoted yesterday. The idea here is that we find Radha and Krishna in the direction of prema. This is the basic position. When we discover Radha and Krishna, they become the limitless fountainhead of prema. This is why it is said that prema takes the form of Radha and Krishna.

In other words, the karmi sees God in the direction of duty, the jnani in the direction of truth, and the bhakta in the direction of love.

Radha and Krishna Yugala Upasana

The Gopāla-campū has a very nice verse, which appears at the beginning of the descriptions of madhura-rasa, when Snigdhakantha and Madhukantha start their recitations in the assembly of Radha and the gopis along with the select priya-narma-sakhas. This is actually part of the maṅgalācaraṇa, but as is often the case with Jiva Goswami, there is a big siddhānta involved.

imau gaurī-śyāmau manasi viparītau bahir api
sphurat tat-tad-vastrāv iti budha-janair niścitam idam
sa ko’py accha-premā vilasad-ubhaya-sphūrtikatayā
dadhan mūrti-bhāvaṁ pṛthag apṛthag apy āvirudabhūt

Wise persons have determined that
[though] these two are of a black and golden hue [respectively],
in their minds they are of the opposite colors,
so externally, also, are their clothes.
This is some pure unblemished love that has become incarnate,
taking on this form with a dual manifestation,
which is both divided and a unity.

Radha and Krishna are absorbed in thoughts of each other, so their minds have taken on the shape of the beloved and become entirely identified with the beloved. At the same time, Krishna wears a golden cloth, Radha a dark blue dress. Cf. UN 4.9, CC ii.8.39. These are said to symbolize their absorption in thought of one another.

But what I like is the hint at this little play of ideas: Love is some kind of impersonal force, Jiva seems to be saying, that has taken the form of Radha and Krishna. But of course, the formless is ultimately dependent on the formed, and what impersonal love force exists originates with Radha and Krishna, and is also dependent on form to become manifest.

There are many verses that illustrate the niṣṭhā for the Divine Couple. Anyone who says that either Krishna or Radha is the iṣṭa of Gaudiya Vaishnavas certainly hasn't been reading his Bhaktivinoda Thakur--

rādhā virahita kṛṣṇa nāhi māni
kṛṣṇa eka bhaje so abhimānī
I do not accept Krishna without Radha. One who worships Krishna alone without Radha is puffed up.

And actually that comes from Raghunath Das--

anādṛtyodgītām api muni-gaṇair vaiṇika-mukhaiḥ
pravīṇāṁ gāndharvām api ca nigamais tat-priyatamām
ya ekaṁ govindaṁ bhajati kapaṭī dāmbhikatayā
tad-abhyarṇe śīrṇe k
aṇam api na yāmi vratam idam
It is my vow to never go for even a moment into the arid vicinity of the hypocrite who worships Govinda alone out of pure obstinacy, diminishing the glories of Gandharvika Radha, whose virtues are extolled by the great sages headed by Narada, who is celebrated in the scriptures as Krishna's dearmost beloved.
Tough words, Raghunath Dasji. I wonder what you would say to someone who worships Radha alone without Krishna.

Jiva also ends the first four Sandarbhas with the statement: tasminn api sambandhe śri-rādhā-mādhava-rūpeṇaiva prādurbhavasya sambandhinaḥ paramaḥ prakarṣaḥ: "It has been demonstrated that the supreme form in this discourse on the nature of the ultimate reality (sambandha) is that of Sri Sri Radha and Madhava."

There are a number of nice verses using the vinokti alaṅkāra, in which the word "without" (vinā) is used several times to nice rhetorical effect. The Ujjvala-nilamaṇi appears to have the first example, and the others were probably calqued on it, variants on the same theme. Each has its respective merits, but what they have in common is that they not only mention Radha and Krishna as being inextricably connected, but also places the sakhis and manjaris in the picture with them.

vinā kṛṣṇaṁ rādhā vyathayati samantān mama mano
vinā rādhāṁ kṛṣṇo‘py ahaha sakhi māṁ viklavayati
janiḥ sā me mā bhūt kṣaṇam api na yatra kṣaṇa-duhau
yugenākṣṇor lihyāṁ yugapad anayor vaktra-śaśinau

This is the translation from Mañjarī-svarūpa-nirūpaṇa, with input from Vishwanath Chakravarti:
One day, when Srimati Radharani and Krishna were separated as a result of some misdeed of his, Shyama’s friend Bakulamali came and revealed her mind to Champakalata, “Dear friend, when Radha is separated from Krishna, then to see her gives me a pain in the heart. And when I see Krishna without Radha, I truly feel great suffering. What misery! O beautiful one, I pray therefore that I shall never take any birth in which I shall not be able to drink with my eyes the beauty of Radha and Krishna’s moon-like faces, creating a joyful festival, together.” (8.129)
From Alaṅkāra-kaustubha--

vinā rādhāṁ kṛṣṇo na sakhi sukhadaḥ sā na sukhadā
vinā kṛṣṇaṁ rādhā tābhyām api sakhi vinālyā na rasadāḥ
vinā rātriṁ nendus tam api na vinā sā ca rucibhāk
vinā tābhyāṁ jṛmbhāṁ dadhati kumudinyo’pi nitarām
O sakhi! Without Radha Krishna does not give any pleasure. Without Krishna, Radha does not give any pleasure either. And without the two of them together, their girlfriends do not give any rasa. Without the night, the moon does not shine bright, and the night has no loveliness without the moon. And in the absence of that combination of night and moon, the night-lilies yawn in constant boredom (8.89).
And Govinda-līlāmṛta--

vināpy ākalpaiḥ śrī-vṛṣaravi-sutā kṛṣṇa-savidhe
mudotphullā bhāvābharaṇa-valitālīḥ sukhayati
vinā kṛṣṇaṁ tṛṣṇākulita-hṛdayālaṇkṛti-cayair
yutāpy eṣā mlānā malinayati tāsāṁ tanu-manaḥ

I made a stab at a poetic translation in MSN (30 years ago now), that I copy and paste for the sake of saving time rather than any pretensions that it is anything more than doggerel:
Without her jewels, King Bhanu’s girl
If put by Krishna’s side,
Her eyes blossom in happiness,
Love’s beauty shines inside;
To see her full in joy with him
Her friends all swell with pride.

Without her Lord, King Bhanu’s girl
Trembles in lonely fright,
Though decked in jewels and finery
She is not a happy sight.
She wilts and so do all her friends
Like lotuses at night. (11.134)

OK, I am going to finish here with a verse from Narahari's Radhikashtaka--

kṛṣṇaṁ vinā jagad idaṁ na hi vetti rādhā
rādhāṁ vinā jagad idaṁ na hi vetti kṛṣṇaḥ
etena sarvam anugacchati sarva eva
kṛṣṇa-prakāśa-vasatiḥ khalu rādhikaiva

Radha knows nothing other than Krishna in this world. Krishna knows nothing other than Radha. Everything follows from this. Everything indeed. Radha alone is the abode of Krishna's light and revelation. (8)
Can't resist ONE more. Saṅgīta-mādhava -- a little different this time, taking a Rādhā-snehādhikā position, but fits into the general theme:

vinā prāṇair dehaḥ katham iha bhavet ko nu salilaṁ 
vinā mīnaś candro vilasati vinā ko nu rajanīm |
vinānnaṁ kā prāṇa-sthitir ahaha! kṛṣṇo'pi nitarāṁ
vinā rādhāṁ premonmāda-madana-līlā-rasa-nidhim ||

How could the body exist without life? And how a fish without water? And does the moon manifest its full beauty without the night? How can one maintain one's body without food? It is the same for Krishna when he is without Radha, the ocean of the rasa of his maddening, intoxicating loving dalliances. (Saṅgīta-mādhava 7.9)
So, there you have it. I like the Divine Couple, together. And this seems to be what our acharyas liked also. Pure coincidence, or pure mercy. Coincidentia oppositorum, maybe.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Krishna's Prema Vaichittya

I think that my entire day could go in Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi. I start the day with meditation, thinking about what I am going to say, preparing, preparing, preparing. Then the time for class comes and who knows what I am going to say? Probably not what I prepared. And then afterward, I want to write about it. Like now. And that would take a couple more hours.

I am stretching myself to my limits really. My Hindi is not so adequate that I feel that I am expressing myself with the poetic force that I should be able to have at my command. I want to sing songs I don't yet know. Half verses come to my mind. I scratch the surface of lilas that I know are much deeper. I point vaguely to the significances for sadhana, for real life.

But somehow or other I am muddling through. And today they put up a mike in the ashram so that my voice is joining in the sound pollution of an Indian holy town. There is already some patha-kirtana going on down the road. I guess the mike helps drown out the ambient noise for my listeners and other people in the ashram--keeps them from making noise and shouting to each other while I am talking...

Today, the tika-kara brought up the idea of prema-vaicittya, refering to verse 46.

अङ्कस्थितेऽपि दयिते किमपि प्रलापं
हा मोहनेति मधुरं विदधत्यकस्मात्।
श्यामामणिर्जयति कापि निकुञ्जसीम्नि॥

aṅka-sthite'pi dayite kim api pralāpaṁ
hā mohaneti madhuraṁ vidadhaty akasmāt |
śyāmā-maṇir jayati kāpi nikuñja-sīmni ||

Though Krishna was embracing her, sitting on her lap [even], Radha suddenly called out, "Oh Mohana! Oh Bewilderer! [Where are you?]" Creating this sweet mood Radha herself took on a bewildering form of madness in anuraga. May that Shyama Mani be ever victorious on the borders of the kunja.
So I explained the four kinds of vipralambha, and which ones are relished in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya and why, and which ones are acceptable in the Nitya-vihari or Sakhi sampradayas and why. But that everyone accepts the concept of viraha to a greater or lesser degree. Then I explained about dūra-pravāsa in the Bhagavata and what it was all about.

There was the example of the elephant being bound, the needle with a hole so small only a single thread can pass through it. I tell you, I am only reading in Hindi, but my reproductions seem pedestrian in comparison.

The actual text of the commentary, still explaining the words dhanyātidhanya that have been used to describe the breeze from Radha's cloth, is as follows:

यद्वा कदापीत्युक्तेः सर्वदा तु सन्निकृष्ट एवेति परं तु कदाचित् प्रेमवैचित्त्यमपि सङ्गमं स्यात् यथा-अङ्कस्थितेऽपि दयिते किमपि प्रलापं ४६ इति वक्ष्यमाणवत् प्रियस्य तस्या विप्रकृष्टव्यवहितत्वमनने ध्यानाविष्टस्य समीपस्थायास्तदानीं पवनेन वसनाञ्चलपरिशीलितचरपरिमलप्राप्त्या घ्राणज्ञानेन-अहो दूरस्थाया वसनवातो मद्भाग्येनैवायं प्राप्तो धन्योऽस्ति मां विरहिणं कृतार्थयति इति तदनन्तरं प्रियया सप्रसादद्रवं तत्सावधानीकरणार्थं स्ववसनाञ्चलचालनं कृतं तेन समागतां ज्ञात्वा वातेऽतिधन्यत्वमननम्।

Alternatively, the word "sometimes" refers to the fact that though Radha is always right next to Krishna (sannikṛṣṭa = Harilal Vyasa is obviously familiar with Ujjvala-nilamani--he quotes it as well as Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Here the language is directly taken from UN 15.147.), she is sometimes overwhelmed by the mood of separation known as prema-vaicittya, as will be shown later on in verse 46.

Similarly Krishna also undergoes this experience and sometimes gets absorbed in meditation and thinks that he is separated from her, even though she is right next to him. At that time, she waves her cloth and when he smells the breeze that is perfumed by her bodily fragrance, he thinks, "Oh how glorious (dhanya) is this breeze that has come from the cloth of my beloved, who is so far away. It has come here to bless me, who am suffering so from her separation."

Then afterwards, when Radha becomes even more merciful to him, in order to make him aware of her presence, she flutters her cloth again with more force until he realizes that she is right there. Then at that time, Krishna considers the breeze to be even more glorious (atidhanya).
Jay Sri Radhe!

Manjari-bhava and sambhoga

The RRSN class yesterday was wide-ranging, but one thing I spoke on was the following verse (Govinda-līlāmṛta 10.16, CC 2.8.209) in glorification of Radha’s dasis. Here it is with Gadadhar Pran’s (orthodox) translation and commentary:

sakhyaḥ śrī-rādhikāyā vraja-kumuda-vidhor hlādinī-nāma-śakteḥ
sārāṁśa-prema-vallyāḥ kiśalaya-dala-puṣpādi-tulyāḥ sva-tulyāḥ
siktāyāṁ kṛṣṇa-līlāmṛta-rasa-nicayair ullasantyām amuṣyāṁ
jātollāsāḥ sva-sekāc chata-guṇam adhikaṁ santi yat tan na citram
Nandimukhi goes on: “And look! As Radha and the sakhis’ pleasure is synonymous, the sakhis are one with Radha. Krishna is like the moon for the ‘lilies of Vraja’ (the gopis), and Srimati Radhika is the essence of his pleasure potency. She is likened to a desire creeper of prema (prema-kalpa-lata) and the sakhis are the leaves, flowers and new buds on this creeper, and as such are non-different from her. So it isn’t surprising that when the Radha creeper is nourished by the shower of Krishna’s lilamrita rasa, the leaves, flowers and buds naturally experience bliss a hundred times more than if they were splashed with this rasa themselves!”

Rasa-tarangini Tika:
Although Krishna is Ananda-maya, or pleasure personified, Radha, being the main shelter of his pleasure, is in the best position to relish his infinite madhurya—even more than Krishna himself. Morever, Srimati Radhika is Prema-mayi, or prema personified, and hence, as the counter-whole of the Supreme Divinity, she has her own limitless madhurya. But the sakhis are the topmost relishers of all because their focus is not on Sri Krishna or on Sri Radha alone, but on Sri Sri Radha Krishna combined. Hence the supreme source of Prema and Ananda is at their very fingertips, and this forms the highest relish of all.

GP’s commentary is succinct, but touches all the important bases. It is rather odd, then, that he seems to have abandoned this siddhanta, due to incomprehension of how this oneness with Radharani works. There are many others who are confused about this point as well, and who think that sambhoga with Krishna (or Radharani) is superior to this mystic participation in the sambhoga of the Divine Couple.

This comes from a multiple confusion about the nature of transcendental reality and its essentially advaita nature. The non-duality is the basic characteristic of the spiritual world. Harivamsa’s followers (and other sakhi-sampradayas) say that there are four elements in the Nitya-vihara, which are indispensible: Krishna, Radha, Vrindavan and the sakhis. But they all form one single tattva. True liberation means becoming ONE with that reality.

The idea of being a sambhogi in competition with Radha (or heaven forfend! with Krishna) is giving in (in my humble opinion) to elements of ahankara. It is a shift from the pure samartha rati to samanjasa and sadharani. Samartha rati only really exists in Radha, whose prema is parama mahAn.

The manjaris are part and parcel of Radha. Radha’s lila is their lila. They don’t see themselves as different from Radha. And yet, they are distinct. Therefore Kaviraj Goswami says:

sakhī binu ei līlāra puṣṭi nāhi hoy
sakhī līlā vistāriyā sakhī āsvādoy
Without the sakhis, this lila does not find nourishment. The sakhis are the ones who expand this lila, and they are the ones who relish it. (CC 2.8.201)
The verse that is often pointed to is Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi 8.88:

cāturyottaram eva sevanam ahaṁ govinda samprārthaye
notsukyaṁ bhavad-aṅga-saṅgama-rase'py ālambate man-manaḥ
Govinda, I have only one desire:
to have the ever expanding intelligence
to be able to serve you and Radha
on the field of your ever-expanding, ecstatic romance,
so that you can experience newer and newer bliss;
for by such service, unlimited gopis have attained
the very limits of the fulfillment of their desires.
Therefore, O Lord of Gokula, my mind
never becomes eager for your direct embrace;
it does not crave for such enjoyments,
please just engage me in that service.
The point being that it is simply inconceivable for the manjaris to imagine sambhoga with Krishna. It is entirely beside the point. It is not even a real source of joy to them. It is superfluous, extraneous, contrary to nature.

In my class, I briefly pointed out, and this will develop as we go along, is that this is a direct result of an understanding of rasa-tattva. If you understand the mechanics of experiencing rasa as described by Rupa Goswami, then this becomes rather simplified. Rasa exists in Radha and Krishna, but it exists in the sahṛdaya-sāmājika--the cultivated audience, also. The cultivated audience, in this case, is the pure devotee in mañjarī-bhāva (tad-bhāvecchātmikā).

Monday, September 22, 2008

On gifts and their bearers

You see, my friends, at some point one has to make a decision in life. Does one want to push through with the gifts one has been given, or is one going to be hampered by doubts to the very end? saṁśayātmā vinaśyati.

I figure if you are, like me, a vicāra-pradhāna personality, you can allow yourself until the age of say, 57, to come to some state of equilibrium with the intellect and reason. But when you get to the age of, say 57, then you have to surrender to the limitations of reason. These limitations are hard-wired into the nature of our world and existence.

Like Krishna who is lying down and being fanned by Radha, forgetting everything other than the sweetness of her movements, that is a point where one simply surrenders to the mercies one has been given. Call it "a return to ruchi."

People were asking me about my attitude to Bhaktivinoda Thakur, etc., after I published those articles. Like I said, most of those questions were answered in the followup articles, but my basic answer is: If someone dumps a treasure on your front lawn, it is not altogether important to ask "Who was that masked man?" The important thing is that there is a treasure on your front lawn. That is why the guru is Krishna, or Radha, because they are the ultimate dumpers.

All these personal foibles are distractions, but they are instructive in this: they remind us of who the Supreme Guru is. The Supreme Guru acts through the individual guru and that is the glory of both. The important thing is that you have to recognize it as a treasure. If you think I am not going to touch this wealth because the person driving the dump truck is a woman, a black guy, a gay or a drunkard or whatever, or if for those reasons you is unable to recognize its value, then you are the fool.

And if the wealth is stolen, or counterfeit? Well, that is a matter for analysis of the wealth itself, not the deliverer. In this case, the wealth is found in joy. Ananda. The full taste of nectar for which we have all been hankering.

Similarly, those who say that I am a guru tyagi, etc., don't understand where I am coming from. A guru tyagi is one who rejects the guru's causeless gift. I don't intend to do that, ever.


I was actually a little sick for most of the day and took a couple of naps. But I went to my Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi class after making the previous post and feel much the better for it.

We are, as I said, discussing the first verse still, which is--

yasyāḥ kadāpi vasanāñcala-khelanottha
dhanyātidhanya-pavanena kṛtārtha-mānī
yogīndra-durgama-gatir madhusūdano'pi
tasyā namo'stu vṛṣabhānu-bhuvo diśe'pi 
I bow down to even the direction which leads to the daughter of Vrishabhanu. The breeze that sometimes arises from the play of the movement of her clothes is so exceedingly fortunate that even Madhusudana himself, who is the unattainable goal of the great yogis, considers himself perfected by being touched by it. (RRSN 2)

The portion of the commentary we covered today was this, which I give in the Sanskrit for the afficionados, because I find it rather elegant--

अपीत्यसम्भावनाभासमुद्दीपयन् विशिनष्टि-योगीन्द्राणां शिवसनकनारदशुकादीनां दुर्गमा गतिर्यस्येति। उपायखिन्नत्वेऽपि तद्दौर्लभ्यद्योतनेन मृग्यानुग्रहत्वं स्वसाहसालभ्यत्वं च भावमात्रैकप्राप्तिकृतार्थीकरणं च व्यनक्ति। अत्र कृतार्थपदेन च प्रसिद्धैश्वर्योऽपि तल् लघूकृत्य स्वसंवेद्यसुखप्राप्त्या माधुर्यमग्न इति रसिकशेखरत्वं ज्ञापयति। तेन श्रीमत्याः परमसौभाग्योत्कऋसोऽनुज्ञाप्यते।

उक्तार्थं विशदयति-कदापीति। अनियतत्वकथनेन साधारणसमयेऽप्येवं तदा स्वोद्देश्यसमये तु किं वाच्यं तादात्विकानन्दस्य मद्धृदयमेव साक्षीति।

नियतसमयमाह-वनविहारे सौगन्ध्यलुब्धागतभ्रमरनिवारणार्थं वसनाञ्चलखेलनं क्वचिन् निलयनादिक्रीडावशेन सखीसन्निधानाभावात् स्वयमेव श्रमापोहार्थं वा पुष्पावचयादिप्रसादवशेन श्रान्तप्रियसुखार्थमिति वा तस्य च तादात्विकशोभैकमग्नतया सेवाविस्मरणं ज्ञेयम्। तदानीं तत्कृतवातेन वाञ्छिताधिकसिद्धिप्राप्त्या धन्यातिधन्यमननं प्रभुकृतप्रसादस्य दासैकजीवातुत्वात्।

Rapid translation: The word api (“even”) in relation to the word madhusūdano is used to create a feeling of the semblance of impossibility in attaining Radha. This is done by saying that he is an unattainable goal for the great masters of yoga like Shiva, Sanaka, Narada and Shukadeva. Though these yogis are frustrated about finding a way to attain Krishna, in order to further illustrate the unattainability of the [breeze from Radha’s fluttering cloth] it is revealed that [for Krishna] Radha’s mercy is to be sought out, that it is unattainable by his own stalwart efforts and that he can be successful only by attaining the bhava, or appropriate mood.

So the word “fully successful, one whose objectives have been attained” ( kṛtārtha), it is intended to show that though it is well known that Madhusudana is full of aiśvarya, he diminishes that aspect of his being in order to attain a happiness that can only be experienced by him personally, and becomes absorbed in his mādhurya. Thus he demonstrates that he is the rasika-sekhara, the topmost rasika. This furthermore reveals how Srimati Radharani enjoys supreme good fortune.

To make these conclusions clearer, it is said “sometimes” (kadāpi). This means that even in the ordinary course of events, [this breeze arising from the movement of her cloth has such an effect on Krishna], so what to speak of the times when she actually consciously [creates such a breeze]? “Only my heart is a witness to the joy that comes at that time.” [says the author]

Certain specific times when this breeze is produced: When Radharani is walking in the woods and a bumblee is attracted by her bodily fragrance and starts to bother her. Then Radha waves her orani in order to chase it away. Sometimes she is playing hide-and-seek in the forest and becomes separated from her sakhis, so she has to fan herself with her cloth in order to cool down. Sometimes after Krishna has picked flowers on her behalf and is fatigued, she wants to give him pleasure by fanning him; then he becomes so absorbed in her beauty at that moment that he forgets that he is her servant. Then he feels that he has received rewards far beyond what he expected or deserved and so considers that he is fortunate, most exceedingly fortunate (dhanyātidhanya). For receiving the mercy of one’s master is the only livelihood of the servant.

And what delightful directions the vyākhyā took!

Current Events

Sorry about the lack of content here over the past little while. I have a half-dozen posts in the works, but haven't been able to bring them to the publishable stage. For whatever standard this blog aspires to.

Currently I have taken on a further task which may be the proverbial drop that makes the vase overflow. That is a Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi class at the local Radha-vallabhi temple, which is within cycling distance on the road to Rishikesh. The idea to do this came to me when I first came to Rishikesh and discovered that this ashram was started by the same sadhu who published the edition of RRSN I had just purchased, and who coincidentally also comes from Satya Narayan's home village. Too many coincidences.

But recently I decided I had to do this, or I would be forever mired in Yoga-sūtra and Bhagavad-Gītā. Even now, my Saturday and Sunday classes at Madhuban are pretty loosely connected to the Gita--since the words kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta appear so often in Prabhupada's commentaries, it tends to give me an excuse to improvise. I think this is the theme of one of the unpublished posts. Let's just say that my interest in the Gita is ongoing, but it needs to be supplemented with a healthy dose of the ultimate goal of our sampradaya's bhakti practice.

I have mentioned Harilal Vyas's commentary on RRSN. It is pretty interesting, as he gives lots and lots of interpretations on each verse. In that sense it is quite complementary to Ananta Dasji's commentary--except where they disagree. But there is little doubt that in most of the cases of disagreement, Ananta Das tends to side with Gaudiya orthodoxy, which I don't believe that Prabodhananda (what to speak of Harivams) did.

It would be nice if I could post the classes, somehow. I was even thinking of starting a Hindi language blog, but I can't even find the time to write superficial posts like this one, what to speak of such ambitious ideas. I don't even really have time to prepare for these classes, which is a drag. At a certain point, it gets harder to wing it. I have let my handful of shrotas on to the fact that I am there to read the commentary and would only add something if it was worthwhile. Still end up talking way too much. The average commentary is about six pages, and after a week, I am still only on page 3 of the first verse.

Anyway, bless me, dear readers, that I will one day be able to glorify Srimati Radharani. That is currently my only desire, and I hope that I never pray for anything else. I promise you that you will be the beneficiaries.

jāgrat-svapna-suṣuptiṣu sphuratu me rādhā-padābja-cchaṭā
vaikuṇṭhe narake’thavā mama gatir nānyāstu rādhāṁ vinā |
rādhā-keli-kathā-sudhāmbudhi-mahā-vīcibhir āndolitaṁ
kālindī-taṭa-kuñja-mandira-varālinde mano vindatu ||

May the lustrous rays of Radha's lotus feet appear to me whether I am awake, dreaming or in deep sleep. Whether I am in Vaikuntha or in hell, may I know no other destiny than Radha. And may my mind always be agitated by the great waves rising and falling in the nectar ocean of the stories of Radha's pastimes, and search out always the grounds surrounding her bower temple by the Yamuna's banks. (164)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Truth and Bhaktivinoda

Yesterday I posted the article about Bhaktivinoda Thakur, but was having a few misgivings, so I took it down. Why stir up this infernal can of worms again? Perhaps it is something about the American election, to which I am paying far too much attention, and the brazen, cynical, perpetual telling of lies that has been characterizing it, which has made me think, “Dammit, does the truth not count for anything?”

(See this post for a discussion of Truth.)

I put the post back up later, after Satya Devi told me that she had received it. Clearly there was a lot of sadness in that article, even when I wrote it. There was a disappointment in our Vaishnava history that extended into the next article about the three books, all of which was followed by a reflection on what to do with this kind of information and the challenges that it presents. I have now also uploaded these two articles, which may be useful for those who had objections, etc., most of which I have countered therein. Just follow the link at the very end of the article. There are still dead links in all these articles, I am afraid.

I went to Madhuban to give my class after having taken the post down. The Gita verse I was to speak on, by coincidence was—

prakṛter guṇa-sammūḍhāḥ sajjante guṇa-karmasu
tān akṛtsna-vido mandān kṛtsna-vin na vicālayet
Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers’ lack of knowledge. (Gita 3.29)
The context of this verse itself is interesting in that one may ask, does it apply to the kind of situation that we are talking about here? It is preceded, a couple of verses earlier by this one.

na buddhi-bhedaṁ janayed ajñānāṁ karma-saṅginām
joṣayet sarva-karmāṇi vidvān yuktaḥ samācaran
The wise should not disturb the intelligence of the ignorant who are attached to fruitive work. Rather, he should encourage them to perform their prescribed duties, while himself setting the example. (3.26)
Both of these verses come in the context of Krishna making a distinction between jñāna and karma. Their original intent, as most acharyas agree, is that those who have an adhikāra for karma should not be persuaded to follow the jñāna path, which calls for renunciation.

Those who are familiar with Prabhupada’s commentaries will know that he puts everything in the context of devotion, which is a unique approach that not even our acharyas followed. In the Hindi translation “Krishna consciousness” is always rendered as kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta, which is a felicitous choice of words in my opinion. In my classes I have defended Prabhupada’s decision to treat karma-yoga as though it were an extension of bhakti, even though in my first few classes I took pains to explain the first part of Rāmānanda-saṁvāda, where karma and jñāna are treated as external to it. There, Ramananda follows the hierarchy of practices leading from (1) just doing your duty, (2) giving up the results to Krishna, (3) renouncing duty, (4) devotion mixed with knowledge, (5) devotion unmixed with knowledge. This is where Mahaprabhu says eho hoy.

But let us just examine this issue a little further for a second. In verse 3, Krishna said, “I have previously told you, O sinless one, that spiritual determination (niṣṭhā) in this world is of two kinds: for those who are intellectually inclined, it is attained by the discipline of knowledge, for the yogis, by the discipline of action.” (Gita 3.3)

Niṣṭhā is singular, indicating that there is only one goal, situation in Brahman. This one niṣṭhā is approached in two ways. Now Shankara, and following him nearly everyone, says that the niṣṭhā itself is represented by a type of consciousness, and that karma is in itself not a direct sādhana of brahma-jñāna, but an indirect one, leading to mental purity, which in turn makes jñāna possible. Actual liberation only takes place through a particular type of consciousness or knowledge.

Put another way, for the jnanis, direct cultivation of this consciousness is the path, accompanied by renunciation, etc., while karma (execution of prescribed duties) is a process of purification that ultimately leads to the same jñāna, or state of consciousness.

But the Gita, at this point, does not talk about bhakti. There is not a third kind of niṣṭhā called bhakti. If not, then where does bhakti fit in this scheme? Is it nivṛtti or pravṛtti? This is an interesting question, and Prabhupada's choice of the word kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta emphasizes the consciousness aspect of bhakti rather than its external aspect.

In other words, bhakti also has jñāna and karma dimensions, jñāna being the internal bhava and prema, while the karma aspect is that of the engagement of the senses in Krishna's service. This analogy can be further extended to the rāgānugā/vaidhī division. Rāgānugā is about direct cultivation of the svarūpa (as is jñāna-yoga, though the concepts of svarūpa are different), bhava and prema, whereas vaidhī bhakti is primarily concerned with the externals of devotional ritual in the sādhaka-deha.

Anyway, the point here is that the interpretation of the "don't disturb" remarks is that they are for different adhikārīs--Don't tell someone with karma (or vaidhī) niṣṭhā to follow the path of jñāna (or rāgānugā). That is just a disturbance and a source of confusion.

Prabhupada here makes some famous comments,
Men who are ignorant cannot appreciate activities in Krishna consciousness, and therefore Lord Krishna advises us not to disturb them and simply waste valuable time. But the devotees of the Lord are more kind than the Lord because they understand the purpose of the Lord. Consequently, they undertake all kinds oof risks, even to the point of approaching ignorant men to try to engage them in the acts of Krishna consciousness, which are absolutely necessary for the human being. (3.29)
Elsewhere he writes an oft-quoted passage,
Truthfulness demands that the facts be presented as they are for the benefit of others. Facts should not be misrepresented. According to social conventions, it is said tha ton e can speak the truth only when it is palatable to others. But that is not truthfulness. The truth should be spoken in a straightforward way, so that others will understand what the facts actually are. If a man is a thief and if people are warned that he is a thief, that is truth. Although sometimes the truth is unpalatable, one should not refrain from speaking it. (Comment to Gita 10.4-5)
Osho interestingly enough makes some good comments here which seemed relevant. He points out that several philosophers and thinkers--Darwin, Freud, Krishnamurti--all spoke the truth, but spiritually they were not particularly helpful. Even he recognizes that some truths are necessary, but not always relevant.

There is a great deal to be learned from all this. One is the old hackneyed dictum that people only believe what they want to. I don't know about being on such an elevated stage of advancement that I can say what is kind to the ignorant or what is not. I cannot even say with full certainty what is "Truth." That is a process of objective and subjective self-discovery, an ever moving goalpost that takes on increasing shades of validity and importance as we progress in our search. I am indeed agnostic about ever knowing an immutable Absolute Truth. This is why I prefer translating jñāna as consciousness rather than knowledge, as knowledge indicates something purely discursive rather than immediate. Knowledge in the service of love makes more meaningful sense to me, which is perhaps what Prabhupada meant.

Anyway, in the case of this statement of a truth-discovery, I think it better for everyone that we raise the questions that such discoveries make, as it ultimately reveals some truths about love.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Bipin Bihari Goswami

No one can blame me for being a dishonest translator. Rocana has excerpted my translation of Bhaktivinoda Thakur's life from Chaitanya and His Associates by Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha. In that chapter, there is not one mention of Bipin Bihari Goswami!

Is there not something wrong there, my friends? By any standard of truth, but especially in a disciplic succession that promotes so avidly the concept of Guru, that a writer should so cavalierly glorify one's own spiritual hero without mentioning his guru's name, as though he never existed. Tell me if this is not a classical case of ardha-kukkuṭī nyāya? I have written on these matters several times, including this article Bhaktivinoda Thakur's meat eating and Lalita Prasad Thakur, which was also inspired by a similar type of distortion on Rocana's site.

So, for the occasion of Bhaktivinoda Thakur's appearance, and to thumb our nose at those who would deny Bipin Bihari Goswami's role in the Thakur's life, I include an article that was posted originally on-line on the now defunct Gaudiya Discussions. I must have started writing this at around the time I was translating the above-mentioned text.

I have just copied it here, unexpurgated. Some of the links don't work. Sorry about that. Perhaps in some respects the article is inappropriate for Bhaktivinoda Thakur's appearance day, because it is not unadulterated hagiography, which is apparently the path we have to follow if we want to attain spiritual perfection. I don't know, folks. It's a bee in my bonnet. It might not be as big a bee in my bonnet as it was in my guru's, but I have to carry this tiny banner for him, even if I do nothing else in my life.

Do I really care any more? This is such an old battle that I can barely relate to it emotionally any more. It sometimes seems that my position has shifted so far from the conventional Vaishnava sampradaya attitudes that gave rise to the controversy in the first place. I offer my respects to all these gurus because they passed something of value on to me, but it is my unfortunate task to look at the weaknesses they have left in the edifice of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. However flawed I am, I was just made this way. So forgive me for bringing this all up again.

A pox on everyone who pretends that Bipin Bihari Goswami played no role in the rise of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in the world. After reading the article again, I stand by my conclusions.


Bhaktivinoda Thakur and Bipin Bihari Goswami

Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s relationship with Bipin Bihari Goswami

A name remarkable for its absence in the parampara given by Siddhanta Saraswati is that of Bipin Bihari Goswami (1850-1919), the initiating spiritual master of Kedarnath Datta, Bhaktivinoda Thakur. (1)

Born 3 Sravan 1850, Bipin Bihari was twelve years Bhaktivinoda’s junior. He was born in the family of Goswamis whose seat is in Baghna Para, between Kalna and Nabadwip in the Burdwan district. This is the seat of Ramachandra Goswami, the grandson of Vamsivadanananda Thakur, an associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and the adopted son and disciple of Jahnava Thakurani, the wife of Nityananda Prabhu.

Married at 13, Bipin Bihari moved to Hooghly district. He became closely involved with the Brahmo Samaj, causing a reaction from other members of the Baghna Para family, who insisted that he move back to Kalna. There he began associating with the famous "siddha," Bhagavan Das Babaji, one of the most notable Vaishnavas of the time. He studied the Vaishnava scriptures with Bhagavan Das for nine years. He also studied with another prominent renounced Vaishnava, Nabadwip’s Chaitanya Das Babaji. He took initiation from Yajneshwar Goswami in 1872.

He began writing articles almost immediately after initiation and submitted articles on Gaudiya Vaishnavism to various magazines both in Bengali (Prema-pracāriṇī, Saṁvāda-pūrṇa-candrodaya) and English (The Education Gazette). He made his reputation in 1877-1880 by giving lectures on the Bhagavatam and attracted the attention of the king of Burdwan, Mahatap Chand. Aftab Chand, Mahatap Chand’s successor, also regularly invited Bipin Bihari to the Burdwan palace.

Bipin Bihari Goswami wrote a number of books. The first, written in Sanskrit, Harināmāmṛta-sindhu, was published in 1879. His major work, Daśa-mūla-rasa (1898), is over a thousand pages long and covers the gamut of Gaudiya Vaishnava doctrine and practice. Other works were Arcanāmṛta-sāgara (1883), Madhura-milana, Sāra-saṅgraha, Bhāva-saṅgraha, Hari-bhakti-taraṅginī (1902) and a number of Sanskrit and Bengali poems and songs.

Kedarnath Datta and his wife both took initiation from Bipin Bihari Goswami in 1879, after three years of exchanging letters.(2) Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself summarized his initiation from his guru in his autobiographical letter to his son Lalita Prasad in 1896.
I had been searching for a suitable guru for a long time, but had not found one, so I was feeling disturbed. Whenever I met someone in whom I could have a little faith, when I studied his teachings and character, I would lose whatever little faith I had. I was quite worried, but Prabhu eradicated these worries in a dream. In that dream, I had a hint of what would happen and when morning came, I felt joyful. A day or two later, Gurudeva wrote me a letter saying, "I will come soon and give you initiation." When he came and performed the initiation rituals, I became cheerful. From that day on the sin of meat eating vanished from my heart and I began to feel a little compassion toward all beings. (3)
In the period that followed, Bipin Bihari and Bhaktivinoda cooperated in the publication of the periodical Sajjana-toṣaṇī, which first appeared in 1882. Many articles by Bipin Bihari appeared there, as well as his translation of Viṣṇu-sahasra-nāma. In January 1886, he arranged for his disciple to be given the title Bhaktivinoda in Baghna Para itself in a ceremony at the Baladeva Krishna temple. (4)

Bhaktivinoda mentions his spiritual master’s name in several places in his own writings to offer him respects, as is appropriate Vaishnava etiquette for an author. These appear in works published in 1893 (Siddhi-lālasā of Gīta-mālā), at the end of his commentary on the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (1894) (5), in his introduction to an edition of Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta, (6) in 1898 and in Bhāgavatārka-marīci-mālā in 1901, one of the Thakur’s last works. (7)

The two texts from Giti-mala are particularly interesting, as they indicate the siddha name of Bipin Bihari, which is Vilasa Manjari.
When will Vilasa Manjari and Ananga Manjari [Jahnava Mata] see me and, being merciful, speak the follow essential words?

O Vilasa Manjari, Ananga Manjari and Rupa Manjari, please notice me and accept me at your feet, bestowing on me the essence of all perfection?
In both of these songs, Bhaktivinoda follows the classical tradition established by Narottam Das of praying to his spiritual master in his siddha form as a Manjari. It is thus clear that Bhaktivinoda had not only taken initiation, but had also received siddha-praṇāli from his guru. Shukavak Das has argued in his work on Bhaktivinoda that he followed the Rasa-rāja concept of worship that had been developed in the early days of the Baghna Para line. (8)

In Kalyāṇa-kalpa-taru, Bhaktivinoda Thakur also offers heartfelt prayers for the association of Srimati Ananga Manjari in the spiritual world, further showing a strong affinity for Jahnava Mata, the original preceptor in Bipin Bihari Goswami's line.

Cooperation between Bhaktivinoda Thakur and his spiritual master continued on other levels to the very end of the former’s active career as a writer and preacher, which may be said to have come about in around 1907, the date of his last published work and after which his health began to deteriorate considerably.

Most notably, Bipin Bihari participated in the meeting of dignitaries in Krishnagar in 1893, helping Bhaktivinoda Thakur to launch the great project of establishing Chaitanya’s birthplace in Mayapur. Bipin Bihari's magnum opus, Daśa-mūla-rasa, written in 1898, not only quotes a verse written by Bhaktivinoda in 1896, but seems to have been inspired by it. (9) In his autobiographical notes to that work, Bipin Bihari proudly mentions Kedarnath Datta as his disciple. All indications are that from 1880 up until at least 1901, the two worked harmoniously. Nowhere has anyone been able to demonstrate that Bhaktivinoda Thakur ever said anything negative or dismissive about Bipin Bihari Gosvami.

Some, like Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Maharaj(10), say that Bhaktivinoda "did not imbibe any of the conceptions of Bipin Bihari Goswami." He argues that Bhaktivinoda placed central importance on the chanting of the Holy Names "in contrast to the stress on siddha-praṇāli given by Bipin Bihari Goswami." This of course is nonsense, for on the one hand Bipin Bihari Goswami's first book was written in glorification of the Holy Name (Harināmāmṛta-sindhu), and on the other, Bhaktivinoda himself stressed the siddha-praṇāli method of bhajan in at least three of his books: Jaiva-dharma, Caitanya-śikṣāmṛta and Harināma-cintāmaṇi. Bhaktivinoda followed the siddha pranali system himself and passed it on to his son Lalita Prasad, to whom he gave initiation.

Did Bhaktivinoda Thakur ever reject Bipin Bihari Goswami?

This would then appear to be the very image of a perfectly harmonious guru-disciple relationship, were it not for a number of issues that were raised in the years following the deaths of both Bhaktivinoda and Bipin Bihari. The classical statement of this position is given by Rupa Vilasa Dasa in his biography of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, The Seventh Goswami:
Bipin Bihari Goswami initially enjoyed a very sweet relationship with the Thakur, but later he is said to have been neglected by the Thakur due to a disagreement about the position of Raghunath Das Goswami. He also assisted the Thakur in his preaching work, but his spiritual advancement was not on the same level as the "Commander-in-chief of the Vaishavas," as Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji came to be called... (11)
This proposition is riddled with misconceptions, but arises as a result of a need to explain why the initiating spiritual master of Bhaktivinoda Thakur is not a part of Siddhanta Saraswati's disciplic succession. Siddhanta Saraswati may have felt it necessary to reject Bipin Bihari Goswami, but how can this be explained if Bhaktivinoda Thakur himself did not do so?

Saraswati’s disciples have adopted his concept of prioritizing teaching (siksha) over formal ordination (diksha) as a sign of relationship and a marker of disciplic succession. They thus wish to establish that the renunciate bhajananandi Jagannath Das was more significant in Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s life than Bipin Bihari Goswami, who represents the Gaudiya Math's bête noire—the householder Vaishnava born in the traditional guru families.

At the time Bhaktivinoda was living, however, the siksha and diksha gurus would have occupied complementary roles, not exclusive of one another. Even if Bhaktivinoda had considered Jagannath to be more advanced than his own initating spiritual master, a not at all unusual or offensive attitude, this would not have affected his disciplic relationship with Bipin Bihari Goswami. Scripture is clear: there can only be one initiating guru, who is not to be abandoned unless there is a sign of complete destitution from the spiritual path. There appears to be no evidence of this in the case of Bipin Bihari Goswami.

Some representatives of the Gaudiya Math such as Narasingha Maharaj try to discredit Bipin Bihari by saying that he was engaged in less than exemplary behavior such as smoking tobacco. On the one hand this is hearsay; on the other, this in itself would probably not been considered sufficient criterion for rejection. After all, would Bhaktivinoda Thakur not have been aware of this from the very beginning of his relationship?

Other oft-heard statements linking Jagannath Das Babaji to Bhaktivinoda Thakur as his real spiritual master are that he took vesh from him (another misconception, by the way, for this was a unilateral act performed years after the Babaji's death), or because Jagannath helped him to discover the place of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance, or that Bhaktivinoda called him "Vaishnava-sarvabhauma." None of these, however, indicate that Bhaktivinoda Thakur rejected his initiating spiritual master. It is evident from Bhaktivinoda’s relationship with own son and disciple, Lalita Prasad, that he held the diksha relationship to be paramount, at least when it came to the understanding of initiation and disciplic succession.

The Raghunath Das Goswami Issue

A more significant claim coming from the Gaudiya Math is that Bhaktivinoda Thakur rejected Bipin Bihari because he had taken an unsavory stance on the Raghunath Das Goswami issue. Little can truly be ascertained here, but we shall examine it briefly anyway. The setting of this incident is the famous Balighai meeting that took place on Bhadra 22, 1318 (i.e., September 1911). (12)

Here is the summary of this position as expressed by Narasingha Maharaj:
In 1911 there was an famous assembly of scholars held in Medinipur (Bengal) wherein the topic of debate was to be on "Brahmin and Vaishnavas." Bipin Bihari Goswami was present at that assembly and, as was already known, he would side with the brahmana community on the platform that brahmana Vaishnavas were automatically superior to non-Brahmin Vaishnavas, due to a brahmana being born in a higher caste. Bhaktivinode Thakura was also invited to attend that assembly. The conflict between he (sic) and Bipin Bihari was destined. Bhaktivinoda Thakur--not wanting to take a position of confronting and attempting to defeat his "diksha guru" in a public forum declined to attend the meeting on the plea of bad health. In his place he sent Saraswati Thakur (age 37) to represent the Gaudiya Vaishnava Siddhanta in the line of Sri Rupa and Raghunath Das Goswami, as per the teachings of Mahaprabhu. We all know what happened in the meeting."
In his book on the history of the Baghna Pada Vaishnavas, Kanan Bihari Goswami makes the following interesting statement: "He [Bipin Bihari Goswami] defeated the scriptural considerations of the Smarta pandits and demonstrated the superiority of Gaudiya Vaishnavism." Evidently, there seems to be some misunderstanding: both traditions hold that their man was defending the same position.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura did for sometime show formal respect to Bipin Bihari Goswami. But when the Goswami disrespected Srila Raghunath Das Goswami by thinking that he can give blessings to Raghunath Das, the prayojana-acarya, because Raghunath Das was from a "lower caste," the Thakur distanced himself more from Bipin Bihari Goswami.(13)
I have heard, though I have not been able to get it confirmed, that a statement of this type was made by one of Bipin Bihari Goswami's more zealous disciples, a young zamindar by the name of Choudhary Jadabendranandan. This then was attributed to Bipin Bihari, but once this attribution became tradition it has been established a a "fact" though no real evidence can be found to substantiate it. Since Bipin Bihari Goswami spoke strongly at the Midnapur debate that Vaishnavas were superior to Brahmins, this accusation becomes even more doubtful and seems likely to be the result of some misunderstanding.

All Vaishnavas are agreed that the Vaishnava is superior to a Brahmin in the karma kanda. There are, however, some subtleties that have arisen in the course of time that were objected to by reformers like Siddhanta Saraswati. These were principally the incursion of caste conventions into Gaudiya Vaishnavism. This will require something of a detour into other matters, but we will do so since they are not without relevance to the subject at hand.

The debate around Raghunath Das arises from the fact that of the six Goswamis, he was the only one who was not born in the Brahminical caste. He was also the first person known to have worshiped the Giridhari shila, which was given to him by Lord Chaitanya himself. The question asked by the Brahmin Vaishnavas is why Mahaprabhu confided the worship of Giridhari in him rather than Shalagram, as was worshiped by Rupa and Gopal Bhatta Goswamis? Some consider this to be exemplary behavior on Mahaprabhu’s part, setting the standard of behavior for non-Brahmin Vaishnavas, by putting Shalagram worship, like the Gayatri mantra and sacred thread, out of their purview. As with the wearing of saffron cloth, the standards of behavior of the associates of Mahaprabhu are considered law that stands above scripture. Thus, though scripture approves the worship of Shalagram by non-Brahmin Vaishnavas, the maryada followed by most Gaudiyas not born in the Brahmin caste is that they do not do so.

The usual reference is found in Jiva Goswami's commentary to Srimad Bhagavatam (3.33.6).(14) He there states that there is no need for a non-Brahmin Vaishnava to perform the savana-yajna, even though the verse clearly states there he is so so free from sin that he is "eligible" to do so. Jiva interprets this to mean that a low-caste Vaishnava is more revered than a Brahmin, but that this verse does not specifically permit him to act as a karma-kanda Brahmin. The primary reason for this is that is such sacrifices are outside the scope of a Vaishnava's duties or desires. Vishwanath Chakravarti (himself a Brahmin) has elaborated further on this point to some degree, stating that since such sacrificial activities are lower on the spiritual hierarchy than direct service to Krishna, they are not to be taken up even by Brahmin Vaishnavas.

In other words, Gaudiya Vaishnavism historically did not interfere with the social status quo. Siddhanta Saraswati’s daiva-varnashram ideas were radically opposed to this vision, as he tried to democratize the Brahminical function and open it, so to speak, to people from all castes and races.

Narasingha Maharaj also repeats the received Gaudiya Math tradition, no doubt heard from Saraswati himself, that Bipin Bihari arrogantly claimed that he, as a Brahmin, was in a position to bless Raghunath, a Shudra. This kind of statement is obviously inflammatory. All evidence indicates that Raghunath, as a humble Vaishnava, would have observed the social protocol of the time and would have offered due respects to any Brahmin.(15) There is external protocol and inner spiritual achievement. The external protocol is based on social position, not on inner worth. Hari Das Thakur observed the protocols of Jagannath Puri: despite being universally recognized as a man who was as holy if not more so than the Brahmins who served Jagannath, he never attempted to enter the temple there. Sanatan also respected the Puri Brahmins' ritual purity out of extreme humility and avoided coming in contact with them.

No doubt caste prestige and position are dangerous spiritually and also lead to social abuse. From a Marxist perspective, the only way that the lower caste or casteless Vaishnava could gain a modicum of social prestige was to become a renunciate, in other words, to take himself completely out of society and forfeit any worldly privileges. But such critiques are entirely separate and distinct from those found in the scriptures, where the issue is only whether a lower caste Hindu can enhance himself socially (and by extension his family) by becoming a Vaishnava. As the Vaishnava is supposed to be indifferent to Varnashram, elevation to Brahminical duties through his religious activities or spiritual achievements is clearly counterindicated.

We are, of course, dealing with a feudal mentality that functions within the static agrarian culture of the Indian middle ages. What transpired is to a great degree the result of a clash of civilizations--egalitarian Western concepts had started to be internalized in Bengali society through the reform or renaissance movements that began with Ram Mohun Roy. Though some kind of spiritual egalitarianism may have been inherent in Vaishnavism, I think it is not excessive to say that no external transformation of social hierarchies ever took place in Gaudiya Vaishnava, nor that it was ever intended. In the opinion of a Ramakanta Chakravarty, it never was, though Bengali Vaishnavism did at least stop the hemorrhaging of lower caste Hindus to the socially more egalitarian Muslims, winning them back into accepting Brahminical leadership. With very few exceptions, Mahaprabhu’s close associates were Brahmins and the non-Brahmins amongst them were perhaps nothing more than representative "tokens."

Scriptures like the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, which suggest that where possible one should take a guru who is a Brahmin, in the absence of which one should take a guru who is in a higher caste than oneself, are marginalized by the Gaudiya Math as a mere concession to the caste-conscious times. Nevertheless, their very sanction in Gaudiya Vaishnava rulebooks would indicate that maintaining existing Hindu caste conventions was not an aberration in Vaishnava society.

To summarize: It would appear that Bipin Bihari took the conventional position held by orthodox Gaudiya Vaishnavas prior to Saraswati Thakur in holding that though a Vaishnava was spiritually superior to a Brahmin, that did not accord a Vaishnava any specific social rights. Saraswati strongly contested this social conservatism and his Daiva Varnashram doctrine was a powerful element in his preaching movement.

To establish Bipin Bihari’s position, however, we are on shaky territory, for we are not in possession of any of his writings, nor do we have an objective account of the Balighai meeting that could shed further light on these controversies. With only a partisan account of these matters, we cannot make any conclusive pronouncements. But, on the whole, since Bipin Bihari's position at worst would have been conventional, it does not seem that in itself it would have been cause for Bhaktivinoda Thakur to reject him. And, of course, as stated, there is no evidence that he did so.

Did Bipin Bihari Goswami reject Bhaktivinoda Thakur?

More significant and troubling for disciples in the line of Bhaktivinoda is evidence that Bipin Bihari Goswami rejected Bhaktivinoda because of "preaching untruths" about the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

As mentioned above, Bipin Bihari was one of the first directors of the committee to oversee the worship of Sriman Mahaprabhu, newly established at the Yogapith in Mayapur by Bhaktivinoda Thakur in 1891. However, though many significant personalities in the Vaishnava world participated in these events, not everyone accepted this as the true birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Not long afterward, controversy arose when a certain Vraja Mohan Das Babaji, an engineer in his life before renunciation, declared that the so-called Yogapith in Mayapur was false and that the real one was in Ranichora, a suburb of Nabadwip that had recently been reclaimed from the receding Ganges. (16)

After the disappearance of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur in 1914 these controversies became quite shrill, and nasty exchanges went on between the followers of Saraswati Thakur and the Nabadwip adherents. This time, however, Bipin Bihari Goswami sided with the Nabadwip Goswamis and in 1919 rejected the claims of Bhaktivinoda and his son in a small newspaper of his own called Gauranga-sevaka Patrika.
Unhappy with the Miapur controversy. In order to show his commitment to the Nabadwip, [Bipin Bihari] held a festival in honor of Vamsivadanananda Thakur in Kuliya in 1919. He disappeared the same year. (K. B. Goswami, 542) (17)
Since this rejection took place after Bhaktivinoda’s disappearance, it may well be that Saraswati and his disciples’ heavy-handed approach to the debate contributed to Bipin Bihari’s making a break of this sort. However, it is not unlikely that he became convinced that Bhaktivinoda had wilfully fabricated evidence to promote the Mayapur birthsite.

Bhaktivinoda Thakur and the three books

Did Bhaktivinoda Thakur fabricate evidence to promote the Mayapur birthsite? I cannot answer the question where the historical and geographical evidence is concerned. However, I am seriously disturbed by the evidence that Bhaktivinoda Thakur manufactured literary evidence to support the validity of Chaitanya as avatar and the nine-islands theory of Nabadwip, which in turn is meant to promote the Mayapur birthplace.

In the 1890’s, the Thakur wrote a Bengali verse work, Nabadwip-dhama-mahatmya, which he published under his own name. This book is a pretty typical "Sthala Mahatmya" style of text. Most Sthala-puranas introduce many puranic or Vedic personalities and ascribe to them activities and words that glorify the place in question. The events described in Nabadwip-dhama-mahatmya are quite radical: Madhva and Ramanuja are not the only names that are dropped in this book – there are also demigods, Vedic rishis, and other historical figures like Jayadeva, all of whom spend time in Mahaprabhu’s Dham and have premonitions of His future appearance there.

Had Nabadwip-dhama-mahatmya been written in Puranic Sanskrit two or three hundred years earlier, it may have been insinuated into the Skanda Purana or Padma Purana and achieved canonical status. But as it is, the Thakur decided to publish it in Bengali and in his own name. This could only mean that he was either sufficiently confident of his own position as a "realized Vaishnava" who could claim to have mystic visions of this sort and be believed, or that he never intended for it to be taken literally as history, but as a fanciful work in glorification of Mahaprabhu. The Gaudiya Math and others who believe in the divine status of Bhaktivinoda take this work as literal "truth," but to those who do not share in the vision of a Nabadwip which has its center in Mayapur, it is a gratuitous fabrication.

The Vaishnavas no doubt believe that in some dimension or alternate reality these events were not only possible, but historically true, even if they were not necessarily so in our universe. In this sense, we can compare it to his other works like HarinAma-cintAmaNi, which Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote as a conversation between Haridas Thakur and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Jagannath Puri, or Jaiva Dharma, which includes characters like Gopal Guru Goswami and Dhyana Chandra – a kind of historical fiction, as it were. There is a certain literary license that has been taken here and is not problematic as long as we recognize the genre.

However, three books that the Thakur published as ancient works were almost certainly composed by him. These three -- CaitanyopaniSad (1887), Prema-vivarta (1906) and Navadvipa-satakam (n.d.) have certain common characteristics – they were all connected to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the glorification of his birthplace. The motives are fairly clear: the Thakur was trying to promote Mahaprabhu’s birthplace and he did it in a fashion time-honored in India. He simply wrote the material he needed and attributed it to someone who had historical credibility. Rather than attributing his works to Vyasa or Narottam Das Thakur as did the counterfeiters of the past, he used the names of Jagadananda Pandit and Prabodhananda Saraswati. (18)

Bhaktivinoda Thakur did in fact publish many rare manuscripts of genuine Vaishnava literature, such as Sri Krishna Vijaya, many padyAvalis, etc. He was not the only one in his time who yielded to the temptation of counterfeiting. Nevertheless, I personally find it problematic that someone who contributed so much to the Vaishnava religion, who worked so hard to instill a spirit of morality and honesty into Vaishnavism, whose life was in general a monument of commitment to service to Mahaprabhu and His principles, who in his worldly life was a justice and so presumably knew a thing or two about ethics and the law, saw fit to take such a chance.

Furthermore, in view of his familiarity with scholarly historical method, it is hard to understand how he thought that he could get away with it. Perhaps he thought his personal probity put him above suspicion. But did he really think that a single manuscript found by chance in mysterious circumstances only to disappear again after its publication would not cause people to examine the published text more carefully? And if that text contains elements of language and content that not only point to a modern origin, but to the very person who claims to have found the manuscript, will our suspicions not be confirmed?

I can only say that in his enthusiasm to see Mahaprabhu’s birthplace be glorified and become a center of pilgrimage – as it has indeed become – the Thakur took a chance with his personal reputation and that of his religion. He succeeded in making Mayapur a magnet for pilgrims from around the world. His disciples, grand-disciples and great-grand-disciples have succeeded in creating an environment that is quite extraordinary. Nevertheless, one cannot help but wonder at the masi-bindu that stains his otherwise sparkling white cloth. Can we not expect people to ask the question that naturally arises: How can a religion that needs lies to spread its message make any claims to be the truth?

It does not give me pleasure to remind us, who are accustomed to thinking negatively of Bipin Bihari Goswami as someone who was rejected for his caste consciousness and bad habits like tobacco smoking, that he publicly renounced Bhaktivinoda Thakur as his disciple shortly before dying in 1919. The reason he gave for this drastic act was precisely for "preaching falsehoods" connected to the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It is easy to condemn Bipin Bihari Prabhu for having some self-interest in this matter, but the doubts that have been brought up in this article tend to give justification to the Goswami.

I find it rather painful to bring the matter up, and I do so in the full expectation of being heartily condemned, but I would like to see those who love the Holy Name and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu face this problem head on, much in the way that Roman Catholics have decided to accept the terrible things in their history – things which are many times worse than those we have mentioned here – and still find a way to justify their faith.

Faith has to be honest to be genuine, and such honesty has to extend to our forefathers, even those to whom we have attributed the highest spiritual perfection. It is a shock to accept that our divinities may have had human failings, but I think this is a necessary step in facing our own failings.

Human psychology is such that we often compensate for our own human frailties by placing faith in someone else. We say, "I am not perfect, but my guru is. I have no personal qualifications, but this does not matter because the parampara is perfect." This is a psychological trick and results in ego-inflation. By identifying with the guru and the parampara, we appropriate their perfection and their authority for ourselves. Unfortunately, this expands into the kind of distorted personal psychology that is not only historically present in Iskcon, but in many of the interactions between devotees who are otherwise sincere.


(1)The biographical information is taken from Kanana Bihari Gosvami. Baghnapada Sampradaya o Vaishnava Sahitya. Calcutta: Rabindra Bharati Vishwa-vidyalaya, pp. 526-32, 541-3.

(2) Bipin Bihari wrote some autobiographical notes in his Dasamula-rasa, where he mentions his relationship with Bhaktivinoda Thakur. The complete text is given in note 4 below.

(3) Jivani, 155-6. Translation by Shukavak Das, Hindu Encounter with Modernity, p. 92.

(4) The following is taken from Daśamūla-rasa by Bipin Bihari Goswami (pp.1216-1219):
The best and dearest of my disciples is Sri Bhaktivinoda Kedarnath Datta, who is pleasing to everyone. He is the ornament of the Datta lineage and a true devotee of the Lord. He has received many honors from those who are loyal to the government. He wrote me from Jagannath Puri over a period of three years telling me of his desire for devotion (bhaktyālope ?). Then he and his wife took initiation from me at his home in Narail. At the time he first took shelter, he was Narail’s magistrate and was living there. His actual home was in Calcutta, the capital city, at 181 Ram Bagan [Lane]. As a government servant he was making a good living and he now has seven sons. Since taking mantra from me, he has liberally supported me and defrayed all my household expenses. From that day, I have had no further worries about my personal living costs, all thanks to the devotion of this disciple. Yet although he has performed such extensive service, he has never been satisfied and always expresses regret that he is not able to do more to serve his guru. He quotes the scriptures sac-chiṣyair guru-niṣkṛtiḥ—"Good disciples protect the spiritual master from all danger" and says that he has not been able to fulfill this command. I know it well that both he and his wife often sincerely express regrets like this.

Bhagavati Devi is devoted to her husband-guru and engaged in his service with an attitude of pure devotion, just like the goddess Sati is to Shiva. Just as Kedarnath is a great devotee, his wife Bhagavati is also. When they saw the extent of Kedarnath’s devotion and knowledge, the Goswamis of Sripat Baghnapara were very pleased and gave him the title "Bhaktivinoda" along with a certificate. Everyone is aware of this because it was published in the newspaper. Nevertheless, to bring satisfaction to everyone, I reproduce the text of that document here:

zrī-paṭṭa-baghnāpāḍā-nivāsibhir gosvāmibhiḥ śrī-kedāranātha-dattāya bhaktāya śiṣyāya kṛpayā bhaktivinodopādhiḥ pradattā |
śiṣyasya śrīmataḥ sādhor govinda-caraṇaiṣiṇaḥ |
kedāranātha-dattasya jayo bhavatu sarvadā ||1||
prabhoś caitanya-candrasya matasya cānuvartinaḥ |
pracārakasya śāstrāṇāṁ bhakti-mārga-pravartinām ||2||
śrī-rādhā-kṛṣṇa-viṣayāṁ tava bhaktim anuttamām |
dṛṣṭvā ko na vimuhyeta loke'smin vaiṣṇava-priya ||3||
yāṁ bhaktiṁ labhituṁ śaśvad vāñcanti bhagavat-priyāḥ |
tāṁ bhaktiṁ hṛdaye dhṛtvā dhanyo'si priya-sevaka ||4||
jīvasya jīvanopāya ekā bhaktir garīyasī |
ato bhaktivinodākhya upādhiḥ pratigṛhyatām ||5||

The Goswamis residing in the holy site of Baghna Para mercifully bestow the title of Bhaktivinoda on the devotee and disciple Kedarnath Datta.

1. May you, our pious disciple Kedarnath Datta, who desire nothing but the lotus feet of Govinda, be ever glorious.

2. You faithfully follows the doctrines taught by our Master, Chaitanya Chandra, and you actively preach the scriptures that establish the path of devotional service.

3. Seeing your unequalled devotion for Radha and Krishna, O you who are dear to the Vaishnavas, what person in this world would not be enchanted?

4. The kind of devotion that the Lord’s dearest associates ever desire to attain is held in your heart, so you are most fortunate, O beloved servant.

5. The supreme and only benefit for the living beings is devotion to Krishna. Therefore, please accept this title of Bhaktivinoda.
The Goswamis of Baghnapara joyfully gave this honor to him in the month of Magh in the 400th year after the birth of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

The many books that Kedar has written on the subject of bhakti are proof of his vast learning in the subject. After much research into the matter, he discovered the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Nabadwip Mayapur. Genuine devotees always sing his glories and only the false renouncers and cheaters criticize him. Because he is my disciple, I shall not go on and on, but have only told the essential so that everyone knows [of our relationship]. I bless him that he, his wife, children and grandchildren will all have long life and conduct their affairs for the pleasure of Krishna. May he and his wife always be engaged in the service of Krishan’s lotus feet.
The following is Bhaktivinoda’s note on the title from Sva-likhita-jīvanī (p. 176-177):
I forgot to write one thing. When the leaders of my spiritual master’s family saw the work I was doing publishing Vaishnava literature, they were pleased and gave me the title Bhaktivinoda. Here is a copy of the certificate they gave me on that occasion. (See above)
Signed: Sri Bipin Bihari Goswami, Sri Tinkori Goswami, Sri Gopal Chandra Goswami, Sri Gaurachandra Goswami, Sri Ramachandra Goswami, Sri Yajneshwar Goswami, Sri Binod Bihari Goswami, Sri Yadunath Goswami, Sri Binod Bihari Goswami, Sri Yogendra Chandra Goswami, Sri Gopal Chandra Goswami, Sri Hemachandra Goswami, Sri Chandra Bhushan Goswami, Sri Kanailal Goswami, Sri Haradhan Goswami.
I responded to this honor by dedicated the following verses to the Goswamis of my Guru Pat.

śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-candrāya namaḥ
jayataḥ śrī-rāmakṛṣṇau bāghnāpallī-vibhūṣaṇau |
jāhnavī-vallabhau rāmacandra-kīrti-svarūpakau ||1||
vyāghro'pi vaiṣṇavaḥ sākṣāt yat-prabhāvād babhūva tat |
bāghnāpāllyātmakaṁ vande śrīpāṭaṁ gauḍa-pāvanam ||2||
śrī-vaṁśīvadanānanda-prabhor vaṁśa-pradīpakān |
ācāryānumatān sarvān mad-deśika-varān prabhūn ||3||
teṣāṁ prasāda-leśena jaḍopādhau gate mama |
bhaktivinoda-prakhyātir dāsasya vidyate'dhunā ||4||
yeṣāṁ kṛpā-lavenāpi bhūṣito'ham upādhinā |
teṣāṁ pāda-saroje me sāṣṭāṅga-daṇḍavan-natiḥ ||5||
śrī-rāmapurataḥ | kṛtāñjalir nivedanam etat teṣāṁ cira-sevakasya sarva-vaiṣṇava-dāsānudāsasya bhaktivinodopādhikasya śrī-kedāranātha-dattasya

1. I offer salutations to Sri Krishna Chaitanya Chandra. May Balaram and Krishna, the jewels of Baghna Para, the beloved deities of Jahnavi Devi and the bringers of fame to Sri Ramachandra Goswami, be ever glorious.

2. I worship the village of Baghna Para, which purifies the land of Gauda. Its spiritual power is so great that it turned even a tiger into a devotee of Krishna.

3. I also worship all the descendants of Sri Vamsivadananda Thakur, my masters and instructors in the spiritual path.

4. Through just a small fragment of their blessings, the identification of this servant with his body has disappeared and henceforth he shall be known as Bhaktivinoda.

5. By their mercy, I have been graced with this title and so I prostrate myself at their lotus feet.
Signed at Sri Rampur by Kedarnath Datta, now entitled Bhaktivinoda, the eternal servant of the descendants of Ramchandra Goswami and all the Vaishnavas.

vipina-vihārī hari tāṁra śakti avatari
vipina-vihārī prabhu-vara
śrī-guru-gosvāmī-rūpe dekhi more bhava-kūpe
uddharila āpana kiṅkara

"Krishna, known as Bipin Bihari, made his energy descend into this world as Bipin Bihari Goswami, my lord. Seeing me, his humble servant, in the dark well of worldly existence, he took the form of my spiritual master me delivered him." (Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya, p. 1687)

śri-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-kṛpa-pātra-sri-bilvamaṅgalāya namaḥ
guror hareḥ padaṁ dhyātvā zrī-vipina-vihāriṇaḥ
kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛtasyeyaṁ bhāṣā-vyākhyā viracyate

I offer respectful obeisance to Sri Bilvamangala Thakur, the recipient of Lord Krishna Chaitanya’s mercy. Meditating on the holy feet of my guru Sri Bipina Bihari and Lord Hari, I am writing this Bengali translation and explanation of the Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛtam.

vipina-vihārī prabhu mama prabhu-vara

"My exalted spiritual master, Bipina Bihari Prabhu, is the brilliant moon in the family of Sri Vamsi Vadanananda."
(8) Page 93. This still has to be demonstrated, as the exact nature of the Rasaraja concept as distinct from the doctrines of Rupa and Jiva Goswamis has yet to be analyzed

(9) Gaurāṅga-smaraṇa-maṅgala-stotra, 75.

(10) All references to B. G. Narasingha Maharaj are to his book The Authorized Sri Chaitanya Saraswata Parampara. Bangalore: Gosai Publishers, 1998.

(11) The Seventh Goswami (Washington, MS: New Jaipur Press, 1989), 142-4.

(12) Goswami, 528. Sources of the information are not given.

(13) We do have the Siddhanta Saraswati version that came out of this meeting, Vaman Maharaj writes in the introduction that he made a statement (Nivedana, page 1) about Raghunath Das Goswami, but no mention is made that Raghunath was a Brāhmaṇa o vaiṣṇava tāratamya viṣayaka siddhānta. NavadvIpa: Śrī-Gauḍīya-vedānta-samiti, 1995. This is the third edition of this work. The first two were published in 1920 (by the three trustees of the Chaitanya Math) and 1934 (by the Viśva-vaiṣṇava-rāja-sabhā), both during Saraswati’s lifetime.

(14) Also in the Durgama-saṅgamanī commentary on Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.22 and Bhakti-sandarbha 128.

(15) He was a kāyastha, which according to the strict conventions of Bengal society made him a Shudra.

(16) With modern methods, it should be possible to trace the history of the Ganges bed, on which both sides of this argument hinge. It seems to my layman’s eyes that the Ganges has tended to move eastward over the past several centuries, making the more westerly birthplace more likely. See Shukavak Das, p. 107-108, particularly the note on page 108. See also Chakravarti, 396.

Here is some more information, based on Carita-sudhā, volume 4, pp. 65-71. The original temple on Mahaprabhu's birthplace was built by Bir Hambir of Vishnupur, who ruled from approximately 1586-1621. This small shrine was claimed by the Ganges. Gaur Govinda Singh, the diwan of the East India Company temple, was an important Vaishnava. He built a second temple on the site in 1780-5, a sixty foot high building with nine pinnacles in red sandstone. This building was submerged in floods in 1876. Clearly, then, Bhaktivinoda Thakur must have been exaggerating somewhat when he said that nobody had any idea where the birthplace had been.

As a result, a few years after Bhaktivinoda established the Mayapur site, in 1304 Bangabda (1897), Sashibhushan Bandyopadhyaya wrote in Pallivasi Patrika the first article claiming that the Janmasthan was somewhere in Ramchandrapur. This started the Janmasthan wars. The Mayapur faction started a court case, which ultimately refused to reject the Mayapur claim, but did conclude that Gaura Govidna Singh's temple had indeed been built on the site of Mahaprabhu's birthplace and if anyone could find the ruins of that temple, that would be the deciding factor in establishing the birthsite.

Premananda Bharati, well-known as the first preacher of Vaishnavism in the West, took up the cause in the early 20th century, enlisting the aid of the leaders of the various Vaishnava communities both in Vrindavan and Gauda Desh. Finally, these Vaishnavas decided to find a qualified person to establish the exact site. They engaged Braja Mohan Das Babaji, who in his householder life had been a government engineer and had recently taken responsibility for rebuilding the steps around Radha Kund and Shyam Kund.

Vraja Mohan Dasji started his research in 1916. He walked all over the Dham as well as investigating the available records, including the British survey maps that had been conducted from 1757 onwards. Apparently, he was on one occasion beaten up, his sikha cut off, his mala cut and thrown naked into the Ganges by the Mayapur faction. This probably when he entered the Mayapur compound. I have myself seen the vitriolic literature written by Paramananda Brahmachari at around this time, accusing Braja Mohan Dasji and his backers of all manner of licentiousness in an attempt to discredit his efforts. This evidently did not help Bhaktivinoda Thakur's cause with Bipin Bihari Goswami.

At any rate, through his research Braja Mohan pinpointed the Ramachandra Chora land as the likeliest site of Gaur Govinda Singh's temple. He proceeded to dig more than 700 holes in the ground there before finding a large piece of red sandstone which he claimed was a part of the original structure. He exhibited the piece of stone to an assembly of Vaishnavas and work was begun building a new temple there.

Even so, the effort had exhausted him and he died not long after, turning the temple service over to Charan Das's sakhibhekhi disciple Radhavinodini Dasi. The area was officially named Prachin Mayapur in 1928. The temple was turned over to Ramdas Babaji in 1953.

Clearly, the discovery of the Prachin Mayapur birthsite roughly coincides with Bipin Bihari's rejection of Bhaktivinoda, so it is not unlikely that the two are related
For more discussion of the Mayapur birthsite, see Sridham Mayapur, the birthplace of Sriman Mahaprabhu

(17) There is some question as to whether K. B. Goswami has given an accurate account of this rejection, since on page 542, he writes that Bhaktivinoda established the "Saraswata Gaudiya Mission," which is true of neither Bhaktivinoda or Saraswati, but nevertheless seems more true of the latter.

(18) I have attempted to demonstrate the unlikelihood that Prabodhananda was the author of Navadvipa-shatakam and the unlikelihood that anyone other than Bhaktivinoda wrote Prema Vivarta. See An analysis of three suspicious texts