Another side of Thakur Bhaktivinoda 1 :: Guru Nishtha


Another side of Thakur Bhaktivinoda

This is an in-depth research study of Thakur Bhaktivinoda's authentic Guru-paramparā (with siddha-praṇāli and ekādaśa bhāva) 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 sādhaka.


Gadadhara Pran Das
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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 gopī-bhāva."

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 rāgānugā 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-līlā with Krishna.

Then, as Prabhu relishes such bhāvas, the path of rāgānugā 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 sevāna
sakhī-bhāve pāya rādhā-kṛṣṇera caraṇa

Just accept gopī-bhāva, and contemplate Radha-Krishna's pastimes, day and night. Meditate on your siddha-deha always while performing mānasī sevā within the mentally conceived form. Thus you will attain Radha Krishna's carana-sevā 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 nāma japa in gopī bhāva, he desired this path for him. But to ideally take up such sādhanā, a special form of initiation is required. Thus, Thakur Bhaktivinoda gave Lalita Prasad mantra dīkṣā with siddha-praṇāli and ekādaśa bhāva so that he could properly perform gopi anugata-bhajana.

From this day, Lalita Prasad entered an internal world where his father resides as a Vraja kiśorī named Kamal Manjari, his guru-rūpā sakhī. 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-svarūpa 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 śṛṅgāra-rasa sādhanā. If so, he will assign the sādhaka's siddha mañjarī svarūpa within Radha's yūtha in the group of Lalita. The guru will then award ekādaśa-bhāva (the eleven items that make up the sādhaka's siddha mañjarī svarūpa, such as name, form, quality, and sevā, etc.) and explain what her nitya-sevā will be in Radha Krishna's aṣṭa-kāla līlā. The guru will even tell which gopa and gopi's home the sādhaka dāsī will take birth, and to which gopa she will be married. But after transgressing Vedic dharma, the sādhikā mañjarī will become the pālya-dāsī (fostered maidservant) of her yūtheśvarī Radha to carry out her aṣṭa-kāla nitya sevā.

When the sādhaka accepts these items from the guru, he may begin the stage of smaraṇa 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 niṣṭhā, 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-sevā. But there is something equally important that we cannot overlook: that Lalita Prasad also had strong faith in his father's guru, Bipin Bihari Goswami, whose name is Vilasa Manjari. Because he knew very well that only by the mercy of her mañjarī paramparā that descends from Ananga Manjari--will Kamal Manjari, Lata Manjari and their followers receive the privilege to perform Radha Krishna's nikunja sevā.

What we are talking about is the authorized system called siddha-praṇāli. To explain how this works, just suppose that someone such as you or I deeply crave to attain Radha Krishna's yugala sevā. 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-praṇāli works just like a ladder that will lead us into the spiritual world.

Now because Bipin Bihari Goswami's mañjarī-paramparā begins with Ananga Manjari she is at the top of the ladder. And because she resides eternally with Radha Krishna, the paramparā's ladder is fixed in the nitya-līlā. Then the mañjarīs belonging to Ananga Manjari's paramparā 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 mañjarī-paramparā.

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

The word āmnāya means the descending mercy which comes from a nitya-siddha pārṣada of the Lord, and it descends through each member of the paramparā to reach its initiated members today. Though if the paramparā is broken anywhere in the line from its first member up to the present day, the āmnāya-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 paramparā 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 pārṣada, Ananga Manjari is the sampradaya acharya. And hence, every other member of her paramparā 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 Bipin Bihari 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 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 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 Bipin Bihari Krishna and Bipin Bihari 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.

We continue with Gadadhar Pran Das's new book, the 20 chapters of which will be published here in installments.

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