Prabodhananda Saraswati: From Benares to Braj (Part II)

Prabodhananda Saraswati: From Benares to Braj (Part I)
Prabodhananda Saraswati: From Benares to Braj (Part II)
Prabodhananda, Hit Harivansh and the Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi (Part I)
Prabodhananda, Hit Harivansh and the Radha-rasa-sudha-nidhi (Part II)



Prabodhananda in the works of the Radha-vallabhi school

Rather unexpectedly for those who only know Prabodhananda in the light of the Gaudiya school and CCA, much light is shed on his identity in the primarily Brajabhasha works of authors of the Radha-vallabhi sect. Hariram Vyas of Orcha, a contemporary of Harivams who had connections to the Gaudiya school through Madhavendra Puri, but whose devotion to Harivams far outstripped that which he felt for Rupa, Sanatan or Chaitanya,(52) poem in praise of Prabodhananda. There he is described as he is best known to the Radha-vallabhi school -- the author of a number of rasika works on devotion to Radha and Krishna in Vrindavan. Vyas indicates that the particular name of the deity to whom Prabodhananda was devoted was Radha-vallabha, the iSTa of Harivams. (53) He is described as giving up his wife and family to become the slave of ravi-sutA Radha. (54)
The next reference to Prabodhananda found in Radha-vallabhi sources is in a commentary written by Harivams's son Krishna Chandra on his own work, KarNAnanda, which was completed in 1578. He writes that the work he had undertaken was finished by Prabodhananda. (55)
Bhagavat Mudita is another author who, like Hariram Vyas, lived on a hazy, ill-defined line between the Gaudiya and Radha-vallabhi schools. He was the son of Madhava Mudita, divan of Agra's subedar, Shuja al-Mulk. The commentator on Nabha Das’ Bhakta-mala states that he was the disciple of Haridas, the head priest of the Govinda temple in Vrindavan and that his father was a disciple of Nityananda (which is rather unlikely). (56) His relation to the Gaudiya school is confirmed in his own Rasika Ananya Mala (dated between 1650-1665), (57) which starts with obeisances to Chaitanya and Nityananda. In spite of this, it is clear that Bhagavat Mudita's affections lie with Harivams and the Radha-vallabhi holy men, whom he chose to glorify in this work, the first real history of the Radha-vallabhi school.
Bhagavat Mudita also rendered a portion of Prabodhananda's work VMA into Brajabhasha as Vrindavan sataka (AD 1651). This version faithfully translates the four verses in which Chaitanya's name is to be found (1-3, 89), indicating beyond any doubt that the Prabodhananda who was devoted to Chaitanya and this Prabodhananda are one and the same person. (58)
We give here a full translation of Bhagavat Mudita's biography of Prabodhananda as given in the Rasika Ananya Mala(59) :

(dohä) Hearing Harivams's songs, Prabodhananda went to him. From him he learned the pleasure of the nitya-vihAra and he gave up the joys of Brahman.
Prabodhananda was a sannyasin who was initiated in the impersonal philosophy. Though a second Saraswati who conquered all directions with his learning, he was a scholar who lacked humility. He came to Vrindavan from Kashi and stayed there for one month in great happiness. He visited all its temples and spiritual leaders, and though he heard them speak, he was not convinced by any of them.
Then one day he met Paramananda, a rasika devotee, [a wealthy disciple of Harivams who lived in Mathura] and in their discussions both felt their minds to blossom. When they discussed the concept of nitya-vihAra, however, Prabodhananda could not accept it. Paramananda cited evidence from the Sruti, Smriti and itihasas. Then, citing the Sanaka-samhita and Brihad-Vamana-Purana, he told him that Man Sarovar was a fitting place to go if one wished to experience the nitya-vihAra.
When Prabodhananda heard these things, he started to develop some faith and affection for the concept. Thus, on the full moon day of Vaishakh, he went to Man Sarovar and started to meditate with concentration. On seeing the cows there he was very pleased, but soon afterwards he became depressed [at not getting any visions of Krishna lila]. In middle of the night the deserted area became a frightening place, with lions and lionesses roaming all about, and Prabodhananda started to become anxious on hearing them roar. He also saw male and female cobras, but was not afraid though they tried to frighten him off. The wind started to blow and then it began to rain. Then a cool, gentle and sweet-scented breeze came, bringing pleasure to his entire body. Finally Prabodhananda fell asleep, and in his deep slumber he forgot his body entirely.
Kunja Bihari Krishna thought, “This man has no right to be here; he still has a great deal to accomplish, for without the association of rasikas, one's erroneous ideas do not go away. Though he has come as far as this cottage in Mathura, he is not worthy of staying at Man Sarovar."
When Prabodhananda awoke in the morning, it came to him that the nitya-vihAra is truly joy-bestowing. He knew Paramananda's words to have been true and his own stubbornness to have been falsely based. So he went to see Paramananda and told him of his experience at Man Sarovar. “Everything that you said was true; please bestow the joy of the nitya-vihAra on me'. Paramananda then thought that he should tell Prabodhananda who really could bestow such rasa on him. “If you serve the feet of Harivams, you will learn the secrets of this rasa.”
Upon hearing this, Prabodhananda went to Vrindavan and was introduced to Harivams, which gave him great pleasure. Though Paramananda spoke well of Prabodhananda, Harivams thought to himself, “This man is a renunciate and I am a householder; nevertheless his affection attracts my mind.”
Prabodhananda served Harivams and thus he became even stronger in his faith, and soon he took instruction from him about the nitya-vihAra. He wrote a song of praise in eight verses about Harivams and always fixed his mind in meditation on his feet. When he heard these verses, Harivams became kind to him and told him the ways of the eternal love (riti) and decided to fulfill his desires. He recounted to him all about the joys of nitya-vihAra and revealed that ocean of happiness to his eyes just as one candle lights another. Prabodhananda no longer had any doubts about this principle.
He began to meditate seriously and wrote Vrindavan sataka. His mind was ever fixed on the wealth of joy of the conjugal duo of Radha-Krishna (dampati) and his pleasure was in the spiritual master, his chosen deity and the saintly persons. Learning the ways of exclusive devotion he took to the path as set forth by Harivams.
In his desire to attain to Radha-vallabha, he took a vow to remain in Vrindavan. He described the rasa of the nitya-vihAra in a way that drenches the hearts of the devotees. He constantly sang of the intimate dalliances of Radha and Krishna and kept a firm faith in the land of Vrindavan. He wrote many books on the mysteries of the groves (kunja) [of Braj] the essence of which only experienced rasika devotees can understand.
(dohä) Bhagavat Mudita says that the teaching of Prabodhananda is as authoritative as the Veda, giving joy to the exclusive rasika devotees.








Snataka suggests the date of 1539 for Prabodhananda's arrival in Braj, but does not state the basis for this conjecture. (60)
Two things stand out in Bhagavat Mudita's account in view of what we already know about Prabodhananda: The first is his identification as an impersonalist sannyasi coming from Kashi. The second is that it does not tell us anything about Prabodhananda's previous relation with Chaitanya! In view of Bhagavat Mudita's translation of Vrindavan sataka, where four verses are dedicated to Chaitanya, this seems most astonishing and certainly requires an attempt at at least a hypothetical explanation.
It would appear that this book, written for the benefit of the Radha-vallabhis, deliberately suppressed any mention of Chaitanya’s influence on Prabodhananda in order to place Harivams in a more glorious light.
Prabodhananda's aSTaka glorifying Harivams(61) is the first external evidence attesting Harivams's existence. (62) It shows that Prabodhananda was primarily impressed by Harivams's songs, particularly those concerning Krishna's lila, and by his voice (verses 1, 2, 3), even describing him as the incarnation of Krishna's flute, which is of course an interpretation of the name Harivams itself.
According to Prabodhananda, devotion to Radha and Krishna could be had from Harivams (5); the moons of Radha's toenails (nakhara-pada-candrAM) illuminate the sky of his heart and, in the form of a girlfriend “attained by feeling” (bhAva-labdhAlI-mUrtiH), he is present in Radha's pleasure grove (6) where he serves Radha and Krishna by their direct order (8).
Though Prabodhananda does indicate that Harivams was “like a thunderbolt that easily beheads the mountain of pride” (7), indicating perhaps an element of truth in Bhagavat Mudita’s biography, the overall mood of this aSTaka is rather more reserved in its glorification of Harivams than that of Chaitanya found in Chaitanya Chandramrita. There is no evidence within these verses that Prabodhananda considered Harivams to be his own spiritual master.
In later works of the Radha-vallabhi school, Prabodhananda is given considerable importance, particularly as one who demonstrated dedication to residing in the holy abode of Vrindavan. In terms of biographical information, however, they add nothing at all to Bhagavat Mudita's account. (63)


NOTES52. Hariram Vyas was initiated by his own father Shukla, a disciple of Madhava Das, a disciple of Madhavendra Puri. Thus he was already a follower of the principles of madhura-rasa or sakhi bhajan before coming to Vrindavan where he met Harivams, which he probably did shortly after arriving there, i.e., circa 1540. He makes no reference to Prabodhananda's connection to Chaitanya, but he also wrote verses in praise of Rupa and Sanatan without mentioning their sectarian affiliation. He also wrote praises of Swami Haridas, another Vaishnava luminary of the same period, but appears to have had the greatest respect for Harivams, whom he refers to as his guru on more than one occasion. Cf. Vasudeva Gosvami, Bhakta kavi Vyasji(Mathura: Agrawal Press, 1953).
53. jin rAdhA-vallabh kI lIlA-ras men sab ras ghore etc, (ibid, 195).
54. (ibid.) jAyA mAyA gRha dehI soM, ravi-sutA bandhan chore. This should not be taken to mean that he did so after encountering Harivams.
55. karNAnandAbhidho granthaH kRSNa-dAsena nirmitaH/
taT-TIkA ca tad-ArabdhA zrI-prabodhena pUritA//;

Lalita Charan Goswami, op. cit., 558.
56. chappay 198. He may have been the disciple of a descendant of Nityananda's.
57. Rasika ananya mAla, (ed.) Lalita Prasad Purohit (Vrindavan, 1961), 7.
58. (ed.) Vamshi Das Baba (Vrindavan, no date), 1-3, 63. Bhagavat Mudita confirms. that he was the disciple of a HaridAsa, servant of Govinda (ibid., 90-1).
59. (ed.) Lalita Prasad Purohit (Vrindavan, 1951), 25-27.
60. Vijayendra Snataka, RAdhA-vallabha-sampradAy: siddhAnta aur sAhitya, 2nd ed. (Delhi, National Publishing House, 1968), 118.
61. Published in Rasika ananya mala, 99-100.
62. Cf. Snell, op.cit., 5.
63. Hita DhruvadAsa's Bhakta-nAmAvali, 29:
yugala-prema rasa-avadhi meM paryau mana jAi/
vRndAvana rasa-mAdhurI gAI adhika laRAi//;

Chacha Hit Vrindavan Das's Rasika-ananya-paracAvali, 125:
zrI harivaMza udAra gopya rasa-rIti bakhAnI/
tAhI mata ArUDha gUDha guna keli ju gAnI//
sarva dharma saba dhAmaziromaNi yaha vana-rasa hai/
binA bAsa rasa parasi bhaye binu manu nara pasu hai//
jauM kInhau kathana kRpAlu hvai vRndAvana mama hohu gati/
mahA madhura rasa meM rasika bhaye prabodhAnanda ati//;

Cf.also Govinda Aliji's Ananya-rasika-gAthA, 69. etc.

















Prabodhananda in the Vrindavana-mahimamrita, etc.

Since Prabodhananda is principally known to the Radha-vallabhis as the writer of a work glorifying Vrindavan, it may be worthwhile to continue our investigation by looking at VMA. Containing 1767 verses in 17 satakas, VMA glorifies Vrindavan in the style of the stotra-kAvya. Its emphasis is on renunciation and remembering Radha and Krishna while residing in Vrindavan. Recurring themes are descriptions of the glories of the flora and fauna of Vrindavan, statements of the author's determination to live in Vrindavan despite any difficulties including those presented by 'woman', descriptions of Radha and Krishna following their erotic desires in the kuñjas on the banks of the Kalindi (dhyAyAmi smara-keli-narma-nirataM zrI-rAdhikA-mAdhavam).
Another important element of the work is the extended descriptions of Radha and her kinkarIs or “hand maidens.” There are also occasional verses of the "miniature" type found in the anthologies, giving a description of a particular lIlA.
As with CCA, there is little overall continuity to the work. On occasion, sequences of verses might show some thematic unity, such as the development of ideas leading to the description of Vrindavan, Radha's beauty and qualities and then those of her dAsIs from 7.59 - 8.43; but equally, verses of quite different emphasis might be found juxtaposed.
In mood and theology, Prabodhananda shows a certain degree of independence from both the Gaudiya school as well as that of the Radha-vallabhIs. The use of the word tattva in reference to the spiritual body (3.90 and elsewhere), for instance, seems to be unique to this work of Prabodhananda's and is not found elsewhere in his corpus, in which, for the sake of this discussion, we include RRSN. The frequent use of the epithets GAndharvA for Radha and MuralIdhara for Krishna in VMA is unusual in Prabodhananda's writings, but can be found in Gaudiya works. Other preferred epithets used are MAdhava and Madhubhit, etc., for Krishna, IzvarI, svAminI, etc. for Radha.
Another feature of the work not found elsewhere in Prabodhananda's writings is the recurring misogynous verse. Despite these idiosyncratic characteristics, VMA is recognizable as a work of the same author who wrote the CCA and, as will be demonstrated in a later portion of this article, RRSN.





Prabodhananda as a Brahmavadin

Prabodhananda's background as a Brahmavadin is indicated in VMA as it was in CCA. At the very beginning of the work he says,

Oh forest of Vrindavan,
make your own real form blossom in my heart,
[that form, which is] the secret knowledge of supreme bliss
coming from your extremely wonderful nature;
for if even the UpaniSads
shy from describing the ambrosia of the Supreme Brahman,
saying only it is not this, and not that,
then how can one describe this place
[which is beyond even Brahman]? (64)
He shows a great affection for the conceit used by Bilvamangala in his Krishna-karNAmNta in which words such as jyotis, mahas, dhAman, tejas (meaning 'light, effulgence', etc.), generally used to indicate the Brahman of the brahma-vAdins, as a reference to Krishna (See KKA 4, 5, 11). That this is more than just the adoption of a conceit is clear from 7.56-60(65) where he describes the jyotis in a language familiar to the brahma-vAdin, but then goes on to talk of further jyotis beyond this one, finally coming to Vrindavan, where everything is tejo-maya (as stated in the Padma-purANa). This concept, where Vrindavan is described as an island in the ocean of the spiritual light, is repeated frequently.(66)
Key advaita philosophical terms such as adhyAsa (2.8), svapna-kalpaM vihAtum (1.72), bheda-traya-rahitam (2.97),(67) etc. are found sprinkled through the work, further indicating Prabodhananda's familiarity with those doctrines. The inaccessibility of Vrindavan to the Vedanta and Upanishads is another recurring theme.
Prabodhananda's statements urging that one should stay away from "the madding crowd" (1.31-33, 1.58, 1.64-74, 2.18, etc.) indicate the lifestyle which he chose for himself while living in Vrindavan. He advises his reader not to seek to please people. One verse at least may be said to contain a reference to Rupa, SanAtana and RaghunAtha, all of whom reputedly gave up great material wealth and power to dedicate themselves to life in Vrindavan (1.76). His frequent admonishings of those who would criticize the residents of the holy abode (1.13, etc.) might be taken as an indication of frustration with sectarian backbiting. He also speaks of his determination to remain in Vrindavan despite the criticisms to which he might personally be subjected (4.24)
In spite of this, there is little to indicate that Prabodhananda is a sannyAsin other than his recurring calls to renunciation; he does not curse his ashram as he did in CCA. There is rather more about giving up wife and children which reminds one of Hariram Vyasa's statement that he gave these up to reside in Vrindavan. In the knowledge from numerous other sources that Prabodhananda was in fact a sannyasin, it would appear that Vyasa was not fully conversant with Prabodhananda's life history, but rather knew him from the VMA.


NOTES64. zrImad-vRndATavI mama hRdi sphorayAtma-svarUpam
atyAzcarya-prakRti-paramAnanda-vidyA-rahasyam/
pUrNa-brahmAmRtam api hriyA vAbhidhAtuM na neti
brUte yatropaniSada ihAtratyA vArtA kutastyA //
VMA, 1.3.
65. uccAvacAvagaNitabrahmANDAvalimaNDitAm/
tri-guNAM prakRtiM tIrtvA jaDa duHkhAnRtAtmikAm//
apArAvAravistAram ekam Ananda-sAgaram/
svaprakAzamahA-svaccha-jyotIrUpaM paraM padam//
caitanya-mAtra nirbhAsaM nistarangaM nirAkulam/
nirastA-jñAnatatkAryaM paraM brahmeti yad viduH//
tad-antaH param AzcaryaM jyotir aizaM vicintaya/
carvaNIyamahAnandA-sAndrAbdhim ati nirmalam//
mahA-suvistIrNatamaM mahojjvalatamaM param/
lokAdibhir ghanI-bhAvair mahitaM mahad adbhutam//
tadantare tato 'py atyAzcaryaM jyotir anusmara/
kArSNyaM mahAsvacchatamaM pArAvAravivarjitam//
etc.
66. Bilvamangala is usually portrayed as having been a Brahmavadi at one time before becoming a Vaishnava.
67. bheda-traya-rahitam asti
brahma mahAnanda-sAndraM yat/
tat-savizeSa-camatkRti-tatir
iha VRndAvane gatA kASThAm//

"That Brahman which is the essence of great joy, devoid of the three differentiations (svajAtIya, vijAtIya and sva-gata), has attained its supreme form in Vrindavan, where it is at its most wonderful."







Chaitanya and Harivams in VMA

Prabodhananda names Chaitanya several times in VMA (1.1, 2.95, 4.29, 5.100, 17.1-3, 17.89). Of particular interest is one verse that has been repeated (4.29, 5.100): "Chaitanya is far away, the great age of Kali has manifested itself. How can one attain prema without love for Vrindavan?"(68)
It is a well-known conceit of the Bhagavatapurana that the age of Kali could not exercise dominion on the earth as long as Krishna was present. Once he had ascended into his heaven, Kali took hold. This verse would thus appear to confirm that Prabodhananda wrote VMA after the disappearance of Chaitanya.
Other verses state that without the mercy of Chaitanya, no one could hope to know this site of Radha and Krishna's sports (17.2), or pray for devotion to the holy names preached by Chaitanya while in Braj.
Besides these verses dedicated to Chaitanya, another appears to contain a reference to Harivams, as Snataka has pointed out: (69)

To those who are fixed at the feet of Radha-vallabha,
whose lives have been spent in pious acts,
who have constantly served the dust of the feet of the Vaishnavas,
and have reached the limits of renunciation,
ah, to those whose minds have entered
into the spirit of single-minded devotion,
but for whom they yet remain distant,
may the merciful glance of Radha
be soon encountered in Vrindavan.(70)
The name of Radha-vallabha, appearing in this verse for only the second time in the VMA, appears to be a direct reference to Harivams who established the service to the deity of this name. The tenor of the verse would, through the use of the honorific plural as well as the nature of the adjectives, show the respect Prabodhananda evidently had for Harivams. It would seem, however, that Harivams was not in a position of authority over Prabodhananda, but rather a junior to whom blessings could be given.
The word dUrataH is somewhat obscure, though the obvious sense would be that though these various good qualities were possessed by the respected individual or individuals in question, nevertheless, he (or they) was (were) still some distance from achieving the spiritual goal he (they) sought.


NOTES68. dUre caitanya-caraNAH kalir AvirabhUn mahAn/ kRSNa-prema kathaM prApyo vinA vRndAvane ratim?//
69. op. cit., 111.
70. rAdhA-vallabha-pAda-pallava-juSAM sad-dharmanItAyuSAM
nitya-sevita-vaiSNavA+nghri-rajasAM vairAgya-sImAspRzAm/
hantaikAnta-rasa-praviSTa-manasAm apy asti yad dUratas
tad RAdhA-karuNAvalokam acirAd vindatu VRndAvane//
VMA, 17.11
Bhagavat Mudita does not draw a connection between this verse and Harivams in his translation, even though accolades to Harivams are found in his preface to VrndAvana-zataka.








Radha-vallabhI doctrines in VMA

The independence of Prabodhananda's ideas has already been alluded to. However, Lalita Charan Goswami's reading of VMA has led him to conclude that either the book was written by a follower of Harivams and that verses dedicated to Chaitanya were later interpolated by some other person, or that Prabodhananda was a convert to Harivams's doctrine as stated by Bhagavat Mudita. (71) His reasoning is based on the four following principal points, the supporting evidence is given in brackets:

  1. Radha and Krishna are seen as eternally united in Vrindavan, enjoying their erotic pastimes in the nitya-vihAra (VMA, 6.9, 9.38).
  2. Radha has a natural pre-eminence and is worshipped distinctly from Krishna (12.11).
  3. Lalita and the other sakhis are pictured as purely devotees of Radha and have no role as nayikas in their own right (9.45). To this, Goswami also adds that Harivams held that there is no competition amongst the various gopis for Krishna's affections, but that they are all followers of Radha, unlike Rupa, who considered those who held this point of view to be a-pUrva-rasika [UN, 9.41].
  4. Prabodhananda's view is that there are three Vrindavans: the cowherd settlement and pastures, the Vrindavan where Krishna enjoys with the gopis, and the kuñja where Krishna relishes erotic sports with Radha alone and where her superiority is uncontested. This last realm is the supreme goal of the rasika devotee.
The point of reference from which these doctrines can be identified as those of the Radha-vallabhI sect is, of course, RAdhA-rasa-sudhA-nidhi; if one considers RRSN to be the work of Prabodhananda, the argument becomes circular as Prabodhananda naturally agrees with himself. Indeed, this similarity of mood goes to support our contention that Prabodhananda is the author of that work, but we will deal with this question more fully at a later time. Whether or not the first two of Lalita Charan Goswami’s points can be considered the position of the Gaudiya school at all is one that will also be faced later in this article, when we examine Harivams's life and teachings. The following may be said about the two latter points:
(3) First of all, Goswami has quoted a verse that reveals little of the doctrine that he claims it illustrates: jayati jayati vRndaM sat-sakhinAM dvayaikyam. Indeed the last word of this sentence would indicate an equality of the sakhis' feelings towards both Radha and Krishna, that which Rupa Goswami has defined as sama-snehatvam (UN 8.135). VMA and RRSN define zuddha-sakhya ('pure friendship') in terms not dissimilar to the Gaudiyas' mañjarI-bhAva, which is called rAdhA-snehAdhikatvam by Rupa (UN 8.131). Lalita and Vishakha are listed amongst the nAyikAs by some of the PurANas, thus the Gaudiyas give them a special position, even as they do the other sakhis. It is precisely their position as equals to Radha that makes it possible for them to share friendship with her. Radha's friendship with these other gopis is expressed in Azcarya-rAsaprabandha 182-9, where Radha requests Krishna to take numerous forms in order to fulfill the desires of the other gopis to be made love to by him. The dAsIs or kinkarIs (or rAdhA-snehAdhikA sakhis) are distinct from the sama-snehA sakhis and it is they who have taken the firm vow never to engage in any erotic activity with Krishna, even if he should make advances, and even if those advances should be engaged in at Radha's personal request. Examples of this strict vow are given in UN 8.132-3.
This determination of the kinkaris is illustrated in VMA where Prabodhananda advises that one should remember the kinkarIs, whose beauty, service and glory he describes repeatedly: “in past, present and future, they know no other desire but to serve Radha.” (rAdhA-pAdAbja-sevAnya-spRhA-kAla-trayojjhitAm, VMA 8.34). A verse describing Radha's incitement of a sexual incident between Krishna and the kinkari is also found in VMA, 16.94:

A certain dasi, whose mind was fixed on service
to Radha's lotus feet alone,
who never thought of bathing herself
in the joy of Hari's touch;
burst into tears, saying, 'don't do that!'
when Krishna forced himself upon her,
tearing her cloth
and doing whatever it was...
Meanwhile, my soul [Radha] stood by and laughed.(72)
The Radha-snehAdhikatva spirit is even more apparent in RRSN, where the author clearly prays that whatever service he performs for Krishna is ultimately turned into service to Radha and her favor (257-9). In RRSN 118, one finds a scene in which Krishna rewards the dasi for worshipping Radha with even more affection than he rewards his own devotees, by embracing her, kissing her, giving her the pan from his mouth and the garland from around his neck. But in RRSN 56, the author writes, "Radhe, even if Krishna should kiss me, embrace me, madden me with the sweetness of love, and show me a marvelous increase in affection, all because I am the object of his mistress's mercy, nevertheless, my own pleasure remains fixed in the pleasure of service to your feet."
Something similar is also stated in RRSN 88.
The author of RRSN further makes it clear that dAsya is superior to sakhya (129, 148).
The reward for the pure attitude of the dasis is that they are allowed to serve in the kuñja itself (RRSN, 129). The great reward of the dasis, that they have access to the intimate pastimes of Radha and Krishna in a way that is not accessible to the sakhis is stated as follows:

What more can be said [about their good
fortune]?
Even while Radha is frolicking with her lover
in the vine-covered bower,
she sits the dasi on her bed
and covers her with a cloth.(73)
This last verse clearly shows that the Radha known to the dAsIs is not known even to the sakhis. This is stated most pithily by the Gaudiya Raghunath Das in his VilApa-kusumAñjali (16):

Other than this service to your lotus feet,
I pray for nothing, ever, oh goddess;
I bow my head to your friendship, I bow my head.
My desire is for your service only,
that alone is my pleasure.(74)
In VMA 3.107-9, the dasis are pictured wearing prasadi clothes, as they are in RRSN, 53. Another vision, that of Radha's transferring the betel she has herself received from Krishna to her dasi, is found both in VMA, 16.93 and RRSN, 156. Other rewards of the post are that Krishna is obliged to the kinkaris as go-betweens who can change Radha's mind. In VMA he is described as dAsInAm anunetari, 'appealing to the dasis for the favors of Radha,' as he is in RRSN 8, 94, 219. In VMA 16.63, the kinkarIs are seen as subordinate to the commands of the sakhis like Lalita. Despite this primordial distinction, Prabodhananda occasionally uses the term sakhi somewhat indiscriminate manner, as is the case in RRSN.
Indeed, Prabodhananda does not write much about the competitiveness amongst the various gopis as does Rupa Goswami, who takes particular pleasure in showing the trickery used by them in their attempts to win Krishna for their yUthezvarI, Radha or Chandravali. There are some exceptions to this: Prabodhananda does describe Chandravali as an adversary of Radha in two verses of VMA (15.10-1). Even there, Radha's reaction to Krishna's infidelities is pictured as rather less ferocious than Rupa would have described it; for the Gaudiyas, Radha is vAmA, i.e. not easily appeased once wronged. All in all, despite the numerous similarities of his ideas of sakhI-bhAva with the Gaudiyas, this particular difference does seem to correspond to an affinity of Prabodhananda with Harivams's school of thought.
Considering the commitment that Prabodhananda shows for the
kinkari mood, it becomes somewhat difficult to understand Karnapur's identification of him as a sakhi. Haridas Das suggests that Prabodhananda's writings show the dakSiNA prakharA character, which according to the Gaudiya authorities matches that of Tungavidya. The dakSiNA prakharA girl friends were unable to tolerate Radha's pouts, etc., and intervene on behalf of Krishna.(75)
(4) Lalita Charan Goswami contrasts the Gaudiya concept of Vrindavan to that vaunted by Prabodhananda whom he sees as a spokesman for the RadhavallabhI school.(76) To this end he has used Karnapur's Ananda-vRndAvana-campU, a work describing Krishna's career in Vrindavan based on the BhAgavata-purANa. The Radha-vallabhI concept of the kuñja, the site of Radha and Krishna's erotic activities (and thus supreme over all other divine lieux) is matched amongst the Gaudiyas by that of Radha Kund in Rupa Goswami's work UpadezAmRta (9-11).
Prabodhananda has also written a few verses about Radha Kund (VMA, 5.3-12), though he does not dilate on its supreme status. He seems, like the author of RRSN, to take the kuñja on the shores of the Kalindi as the preferred spot for Radha and Krishna's meeting. For the Gaudiyas, the meeting at Radha Kund takes place at midday, while that by the Yamuna takes place at night. Prabodhananda does show a preference for Radha-Krishna as never separated, nityAviyukta (VMA 15.23).
Another area in which the author of VMA shows characteristics true to Harivams's school has not been taken up by Goswami, but is mentioned by SnAtaka. (77) In a work by a RasikottaMsa, Prema-pattana (VS 1695 = AD 1639), both Harivams, as the author of RRSN, and Prabodhananda, as the author of VMA are quoted under the rubric "where irreligion is established as religion." The verses quoted are RRSN, 81 and 82, and VMA, 17.49.(78)
This confirms, as Rasikottamsa was evidently aware, that both Prabodhananda and Harivams shared a common attitude towards the external rules, regulations and rituals of religion. Those Gaudiyas who use the RRSN as a religious book interpret the word mahAbuddhayaH (most intelligent) in RRSN 82 as mahA-abuddhayaH (most foolish), even though Prabodhananda uses the term in its clear sense in VMA. The specific rituals rejected there are the painting of the VaiSNava symbols of the conch and wheel, etc., and of marking the forehead with tilaka, and of wearing the tulasI neck beads. The first of these three, though heartily approved by the Hari-bhakti-vilAsa, is not in currency amongst the Gaudiyas; the other two are considered absolutely indispensable. There are no specific statements in VMA about which rituals Prabodhananda considered useless, though he does appear to approve the rejection of the guru if he should interfere with one's determination to live in Vrindavan.



71. op. cit., 563-70.72. ananya-zrI-rAdhA-pada-kamala-dAsyaika-rasa-dhIr
hareH sa+nge ra+nga-snapana-samayenApi dadhatI/
balAt kRSNe kUrpAsaka-bhidi kim apy Acarati
kApy udazrur meveti pralapati mamAtmA ca hasati//

73. bahunA kiM svakAntena krIDantyApi latAgRhe/
paryankAdhiSThApitAM vastrair vAcchAditAM kvacit//

74. padAbjayos tava vinA vara-dAsyam eva
nAnyat kadApi samaye kila devi yAce/
sakhyAya te mama namo'stu namo'stu nityaM
sakhyAya te mama raso'stu raso'stu satyam//

75. Introduction to _Azcarya-rAsa-prabandha, vi. See RAdhA KRSNa-gaNoddeza-dIpikA for the qualities of Tungavidya (88) and UN 8.38 for the dakSiNA qualities:
asahA mAna-nirbandhe, nAyake yukta-vAdinI/
sAmabhis tena bhedyA ca dakSiNA parikIrtitA//
.
76. op.cit., 285.
77. Prema-pattana, 35. yatrAdharma eva dharmaH sthApitaH. tathaivoktaM zrI-harivaMza-mahAnubhavaiH... tathoktaM tair eva:
likhanti bhuja-mUlato na khalu zankha-cakrAdikaM
vicitra-hari-mandiraM na racayanti bhAla-sthale/
lasat-tulasi-mAlikAM dadhati kaNTha-pIThe na vA
guror bhajana-vikramAt ka iha te mahA-buddhayaH//

tatraivoktaM zrI-prabodhAnanda-sarasvatI-pAdaiH:
kuru sakalam adharmaM muñca sarvaM ca dharmaM tyaja gurum api vRndAraNya-vAsAnurodhAt//


etc.










Preliminary conclusions about Prabodhananda

Now that we have looked exhaustively at all the evidence that is available to us, taking into account Prabodhananda Saraswati's own writings, information we get about him in outside sources, both Gaudiya and Radhavallabhi, are there any firm conclusions that can be drawn about this rasika poet so loved by both these sampradayas?
It seems certain that Prabodhananda was at one time a sannyasi of the Advaitins' Saraswati order. Attempts to turn him into a "tridandi sannyasi" are unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.
Several elements of the story of the conversion of Prakashananda written by Krishna Das Kaviraj have echoes in CCA. Furthermore, the confirmation by Bhagavat Mudita that Prabodhananda was a sannyasi from Kashi, indeed one who was filled with the pride of his own learning like the Prakashananda of CC, leads us to suspect that Prabodhananda was the source of inspiration of Krishna Das' account.
On the other hand, the sannyasi Prabodhananda who came to Vrindavan could not have been the same person who is described as a householder in the Prema-vilAsa and other works. These works appear to have been ignorant of Prabodhananda's life and their authors to have written about him only on the basis of a few scanty details from the written materials available to them. Of Prabodhananda’s writings, they seem to known only Chaitanya Chandramrita; they furthermore seem to have no knowledge of his life in Vrindavan, for he was considerably older than Gopal Bhatta. It does not seem tenable that there were two different Prabodhanandas, one a sannyasi in Vrindavan and one a householder in South India, nor that the two versions of his biography are somehow reconcilable.
Though it is thus quite possible that Krishna Das was indeed writing of Prabodhananda when he described the conversion of Prakashananda, his account cannot be accepted as entirely true. If Prabodhananda was alive (and functioning) in 1578, then it is not likely that in 1514 or thereabouts, when Mahaprabhu made his visit to Kashi, he could have become the powerful teacher and leader of Advaitin monks that the CC makes him out to be. With doubt cast on this element of the story, nothing much is left to us in the way of concrete information about this part of Prabodhananda's life other than that he was a sannyasi who lived in Kashi where at some time he was converted by Chaitanya Deva.
Though the correlations are undeniably strong, it cannot be stated with any certainty that he was ever known as Prakashananda, unless we accept the Gaudiya tradition represented by Anandi and Krishna Das (Lala Babu). Unfortunately, we are in a situation where none of the traditions appears to give us an entirely reliable account of Prabodhananda's life and so are forced to do the best with what we have been given.
Though Prabodhananda's home base appears to have been in Kashi at one time, he traveled, probably after his conversion, to Puri, also visiting Nabadwip while in the East. He stayed long enough in Gauda and Puri to come into close contact with Chaitanya's followers, of whom Narahari and Svarupa Damodar seem to have most influenced him. He was probably in Puri or Bengal at the time of Chaitanya's death. At this time he wrote his first known work, Chaitanya-chandramrita, which earned him the respect of many of Chaitanya's devotees who showed their appreciation of the panegyric by offering their respects to him in their lists of Mahaprabhu's devotees, specifically mentioning his glorification of the Lord. From the tone of their praises of him and his work, it can be deduced that Prabodhananda was at the forefront of Gaudiya writers on Chaitanya at this early date.
Like so many other Gaudiyas, Prabodhananda came to Vrindavan not very long after Chaitanya's death, where he sought the acquaintance of other devotees. It cannot be said, as Bhagavat Mudita does, that he gave up brahmAnanda at this point, for he had already been converted to the devotion of the Chaitanya school. In Vrindavan he may have been persuaded by a disciple of Harivams, Paramananda, to follow the path of nitya-vihAra, a type of devotion that worshipped Radha and Krishna exclusively in their amorous dalliances and ignored all other customary aspects of Krishna's lila. This led him to an association with Harivams, whose songs on the loving affairs of Radha and Krishna particularly impressed him.
It does appear, however, again in contradiction to the statements of the Radha-vallabhi sources, that he was senior to Harivams, both in age and in gravitas, and that much of his conception of the erotic devotional mood can be identified as coming from Gaudiya sources, though some differences in taste can also be discerned.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Prabodhananda shared with Harivams a strong belief in a path of devotion that did not consider the limits of scriptural injunctions, rAgAnugA bhakti according to the Gaudiyas, puSTi-mArga according to the Vallabhis and rasa-mArga according to the Radha-vallabhis. This idea he may have taken to a degree unacceptable to the Gaudiyas, as we shall see in the next sections of this article.
The remainder of Prabodhananda's life was spent writing books that defined a devotional attitude somewhat independent of the Gaudiya school. This was apparently done in close contact with the circle of devotees that included Hita Harivams, Swami Haridas, and Hariram Vyas. He continued to be respected by the descendants of Harivams, whom he outlived, even collaborating on a work in Sanskrit by Harivams's son, Krishna Chandra. He probably did not live much beyond 1578, which is when he assisted Krishna Chandra Goswami in writing KarNAnanda. His samadhi, however, is found in Kalidaha in Vrindavan where it is under the aegis of the Gaudiya sect, indicating that his association with Gaudiyas evidently continued to the end of his days.
How, when, and where Prabodhananda became spiritual master to Gopala Bhatta remains unanswered. There is, in fact, no reason to believe that Prabodhananda was not a south Indian Brahmin and uncle to Gopala Bhatta. The Radha Raman Mandir accepts this particular tradition, though they do not seem to be able to show any evidence apart from the abovementioned Gaudiya Vaishnava histories for this belief.
Another mystery is the silence about Prabodhananda in Krishna Das' CC and the absence of verses from the CCA therein. And why did Krishna Das not give the status of a branch of the Chaitanya tree to either Prabodhananda or Prakashananda, if they be two different persons? Even Lokanath and Gopala Bhatta, who are said to have asked their names not be included in Krishna Das' biography, are still named as branches, so this cannot be given as a valid reason.
B. B. Majumdar(79), while denying the Prakashananda = Prabodhananda equation, has also found this a matter to ponder. His conjecture is that perhaps the similarity of some of Prabodhananda's verses to the ideas put forth by Narahari put him in the Gauranga Nagar camp and that this would have made him anathema in the eyes of orthodox Chaitanya followers, for Vrindavan Das writes in the Chaitanya Bhagavata that such praises are not permitted for Chaitanya.(80) This conjecture does not seem possible in view of the many other verses in Chaitanya Chandramrita that show another mood. And why, when Narahari and other Khandavasi Vaishnavas are mentioned in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, would Prabodhananda have been specifically singled out for ostracization?
Whether for this reason or any other, it seems that Prabodhananda was independent in his opinions, making him a rather exceptional character who was not necessarily appreciated by those who considered Rupa Goswami to be the supreme authority of the Gaudiya school. Prabodhananda's close friendship with Harivams in particular may not have been looked upon with great favor by the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Let us now turn to an examination of Harivams' relationship to Gaudiya Vaishnavism.


79. op. cit., 174.
80. ataeva yata mahAmahima sakale/
gaurAnga-nAgara hena stava nAhi bole//


Caitanya Bhagavata. It appears that for this reason Vrindavan Das does not mention Narahari Sarkar anywhere in his biography of Caitanya's early life, although it is known that Narahari was an important associate of his in Nabadwip. This ban on Narahari was apparently lifted by Krishna Das, who mentions him with the other devotees from Sri Khanda dancing separately from Chaitanya's other devotees at the Rathayatra festival in Puri (CC, Madhya 13.46). Thus identification of Prabodhananda as a Gauranga Nagar may have caused him not to appear in Chaitanya Bhagavata, it cannot be a valid reason for his absence from Chaitanya Charitamrita.








































































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