Monday, February 12, 2018

Another side of Thakur Bhaktivinoda 1 :: Guru Nishtha

Another side of Thakur Bhaktivinoda

An in-depth research study of Thakur Bhaktivinoda's authentic guru parampara (with siddha-pranali and ekadasa bhava) which descends from Sri Jahnava Ishvari, who is Ananga Manjari in Vraja Lila, and from Srimati Vishnupriya Devi in Sri Gaurasundara's madhura Nabadwip Lila.
by the fallen sadhaka.

Gadadhara Pran Das

Chapter One : Guru Nishtha

It is surprising that although Thakur Bhaktivinoda had a large family of 13 children, only two of them became exemplary Vaishnavas. The first was Bimala Prasad, who later became famous as Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati. Born in 1874, he was Thakur Bhaktivinoda's sixth child. Then in 1880, the Thakur had another devoted son whom he named Lalita Prasad. As the bhakti in these two sons began to mature, their father encouraged them in two different ways:

1) to Bimala Prasad, Thakur Bhaktivinoda requested that he widely preach, make disciples, construct maths and mandirs and work to establish varnashram dharma;

2) but to Lalita Prasad, the Thakur said, "I want you to remain at my Janma Sthan (at Ula Birnagar) and daily chant three lakhs of Harinam japa in gopi bhava."

As time went on, both of these sons took to heart the mission their father blessed them with and succeeded. Now that Bhaktisiddhanta's influence, precepts and teachings have spread far and wide throughout the world, this essay will introduce the bhakti path that Thakur Bhaktivinoda desired to preserve through Lalita Prasad.

Now this brings to mind the two main reasons for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's advent, because the Lord had both an external and an internal mission to fulfill.

More commonly known in the external mission, because it can be easily grasped and understood by a much larger audience: that Caitanya Mahaprabhu came as the yuga avatar to promote his Harinam sankirtan yuga dharma and uplift the people -- a task that requires lots of preaching. Caitanya-caritāmṛta however, goes on to tell about the main (internal) reason as follows:
ye lāgi’ avatāra, kahi se mūla kāraṇa
prema-rasa-niryāsa karite āsvādana
rāga-mārga bhakti loke karite pracāraṇa
rasika-śekhara kṛṣṇa parama-karuṇa
ei dui hetu haite icchāra udgama
Gauranga's main reason for adventing was: (1) to relish the essence of prema rasa, and by so doing (2) awaken raganuga bhakti in the people. Because Sri Krishna is the greatest rasika and very merciful he comes as Sri Gauranga to fulfill these two desires. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta 1.4.14-16)

Now what type of prema did our Gaursundar specifically come to relish? Wouldn't it be Vraja prema? After all, aren't the gopis Krishna's greatest bhaktas in Vraja? And amongst the gopis, it is Srimati Radharani's mādanākhya-mahā-bhāva which is the topmost prema of all. Hence, Gauranga's main reason for coming was to relish Radha's superlative prema in the context of her madhura lila with Krishna.

Then, as Prabhu relishes such bhavas, the path of raganuga bhakti is automatically revealed by his transcendental emotions! In other words, anyone who sees or hears about Prabhu's activities can easily be lured into adopting the gopis' mood of bhajan. And when this is the case, Caitanya-caritāmṛta clearly tells us what we are supposed to do:
ataeva gopī-bhāva kari aṅgīkāra
rātri-dina cinte rādhā-kṛṣṇera vihāra
siddha-dehe cinti’ kare tāhāi sevana
sakhī-bhāve pāya rādhā-kṛṣṇera caraṇa
Just accept gopi-bhava, and contemplate Radha-Krishna's pastimes, day and night. Meditate on your siddha deha always while performing manasi seva within the mentally conceived form. Thus you will attain Radha Krishna's carana-seva as a sakhi. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.8.227-228)
Here is the essence of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's teachings in a nutshell. When Thakur Bhaktivinoda requested Lalita Prasad to daily chant three lakhs of nama japa in gopi bhava, he desired this path for him. But to ideally take up such sadhana, a special form of initiation is required. Thus, Thakur Bhaktivinoda gave Lalita Prasad mantra diksha with siddha pranali and ekadasa bhava so that he could properly perform gopi anugata bhajana.

From this day, Lalita Prasad entered an internal world where his father resi des as a Vraja kishori named Kamal Manjari, his guru rupa sakhi. Kamala Manjari is 12 1/2 years old. She wears a star-clustered dress. Her bodily color is like lightning and she serves under Lalita Sakhi.

But so that Lalita Prasad could assist Kamal, Thakur Bhaktivinoda awarded him a gopi-svarupa named Lata Manjari. Lata's bodily color is like molten gold, she also wears a star-clustered dress and serves under Lalita, just as Kamal Manjari does.

In Hari-nāma-cintāmaṇi's last chapter, footnote 29, Thakur Bhaktivinoda tells how he gave this special mercy to Lalita Prasad.

gurudeva śiṣyera svabhāvikī pravṛtti parīkṣā kariyā yakhana dekhibena ye tini śṛṅgāra rasera adhikārī baṭe, takhana tāhāke śrī rādhāra yūthe, śrī lalitāra gaṇe, sādhakera siddha mañjarī svarūpa avagata karāiyā dibena. sādhakera ekādaśa bhāva o sādhyagata aṣṭakāla līlā dekhāiẏā dibena. sādhakera ye ghare janma grahaṇa kariyā, ye patira saṅge tāhāra vivāha haya, tāhā baliẏā dibena. veda dharma parityāga karataḥ śrī yūtheśvarī pālyadāsī bhāva o tāhāra aṣṭakāla nityasevā dekhāiyā dibena. sādhaka se bhāve varaṇa kariyā smaraṇa daśāya praveśe karibena. ihāi sādhakera gopl janma.

The guru will test the disciple to see if he or she is eligible for shringar rasa sadhana. If so, he will assign the sadhaka's siddha manjari svarupa within Radha's yutha in the group of Lalita. The guru will then award ekadasa bhava (the eleven items that make up the sadhaka's siddha manjari svarupa, such as name, form, quality, and seva, etc.) and explain what her nitya-seva will be in Radha Krishna's ashtakala lila. The guru will even tell which gopa and gopi's home the sadhaka dasi will take birth, and to which gopa she will be married. But after transgressing Vedic dharma, the sadhika manjari will become the palya dasi (fostered maidservant) of her yutheshvari Radha to carry out her ashtakala nitya seva.

When the sadhaka accepts these items from the guru, he may begin the stage of smarana daśā, for she will take birth as a Vraja gopi in this way.

Now how did Lalita Prasad attain such mercy? We shall say that it was his guru nishtha, deep faith in his father (in the form of her guru rupa sakhi), for he believed firmly that she could award him Radha Krishna's nitya-seva. But there is something equally important that we cannot overlook: that Lalita Prasad also had strong faith in his father's guru, Vipin Vihari Goswami, whose name is Vilasa Manjari. Because he knew very well that only by the mercy of her manjari parampara that descends from Ananga Manjari--will Kamal Manjari, Lata Manjari and their followers receive the privilege to perform Radha Krishna's nikunja seva.

What we are talking about is the authorized system called siddha pranali. To explain how this works, just suppose that someone such as you or I deeply crave to attain Radha Krishna's yugala seva. But since we are in this material world, how could we possibly reach Radha Krishna who eternally reside in the highest abode in the spiritual world? This is when siddha pranali works just like a ladder that will lead us into the spiritual world.

Now because Vipin Vihari Goswami's manjari parampara begins with Ananga Manjari she is at the top of the ladder. And because she resides eternally with Radha Krishna, the parampara's ladder is fixed in the nitya lila. Then the manjaris belonging to Ananga Manjari's parampara each form a step on the ladder as it leads down to Thakur Bhaktivinoda's guru rupa sakhi Sri Vilasa Manjari in the following order:

(1) Ananga Manjari, (2) Sri Ratna Manjari, (3) Sri Raasa Manjari, (4) Sri Kanak Manjari, (5) Sri Rati Manjari, (6) Sri Dana Manjari, (7) Sri Madhu Manjari, (8) Sri Guna Manjari, (9) Sri Ras Manjari, (10) Sri Juthi Manjari, (11) Sri Vilasa Manjari.

Coming next are Sri Kamal Manjari and Sri Lata Manjari who are the 12th and 13th members of this manjari parampara.

Now we can understand how people today can reach Radha Krishna's yugal seva in the nitya lila. By taking shelter of an amnaya siddha manjari parampara such as this one and receiving the mercy of its members, we can reach the nitya lila and upon arriving there, each manjari member will be our eternal friend and guide to help us.

The word amnaya means the descending mercy which comes from a nitya siddha parshad of the Lord, and it descends through each member of the parampara to reach its initiated members today. Though if the parampara is broken anywhere in the line from its first member up to the present day, the amnaya kripa it transmits cannot reach us -- just as the lights in our home won't light up if our electric line from the powerhouse is broken.

Now let us ask, in this parampara can we say that our recent acharyas such as Lata and Kamal or Vilas Manjari are supreme authorities? Here the answer is no, because as a nitya-siddha parshad, Ananga Manjari is the sampradaya acharya. And hence, every other member of her parampara is here anugata or dasi follower. And here we can understand the importance of gopi-anugata bhajan, the necessity to follow in the leading gopi's footsteps.

Caitanya-caritāmṛta advises,
gopī-ānugatya vinā aiśvarya-jñāne
bhajileha nāhi pāya vrajendra-nandane
By worshiping in reverence on the vidhi-marg and neglecting to follow in the gopis' footsteps, we can never attain Krishna in Vrindavan. (Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.8.229)We conclude this first chapter entitle "Guru Nishtha" with Thakur Bhaktivinoda's reverential prayer to Vipin Vihari Goswami. He wrote this at the end of his Caitanya-caritāmṛta commentary entitle Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya:

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

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

Here it is noteworthy that Thakur Bhaktivinoda follows the same method that Rupa Goswami adopts to honor his gurudeva Sanatan Goswami. In Sri Rupa's guru-vandana at the beginning of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi and Vidagdha-mādhava, etc. He refers to Krishna and Sanatan Goswami as the same person. He says that Krishna, who is sanātana (eternal) came in the form of Sanatan Goswami to deliver him. Similarly, Bhaktivinoda refers to Vipin Vihari Krishna and Vipin Vihari Goswami as being non-different since Krishna came in that form to deliver him. In this way, Thakur Bhaktivinoda demonstrates the kind of faith that a sincere disciple should maintain for his guru in the Rupanuga Vaishnava tradition.

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