Another side of Bhaktivinoda 10 : Entering Sri Nityananda’s abode and Bipin Bihari Goswami’s puja

Nitai Chand murti in the Sutika Griha, Ekachakra, Birbhum.

Previous posts in this series.

1: Guru Nishtha

Seeing their Gurudeva and Parama Gurudeva seated together and heading towards Nitai Chand’s abode stirs overwhelming ecstasy in the bhaktas. Thus while singing with great feeling, they come dancing down the road with leaps and bounds. Then while following along one of the high golden walls that surround Nitai’s estate, the procession arrives at the southern gate and stops. Bhaktivinoda quickly gets down and starts rolling in the dust! But his amazing bhakti arouses the same feeling in the bhaktas who now roll over the ground after performing a sāṣṭāṅga praṇāma.

“Just look! Just look!” the Thakur exclaims, pointing to Ma Jahnava Thakurani and Nitai Sundar’s spectacular suryakanta-manimaya palace. “Today we shall worship the Jagad Guru from whom all other gurus originate. Oh please take me to a sarovar, for I want to first bathe to purify myself!” The palanquin is then sent ahead to Bipin Bihari Goswami’s ashram.

As the bhaktas enter Nityananda’s abode and walk along the jewelled pathway, the Dham’s splendour starts to manifest in greater proportion. Everything is an expansion of his cit shakti. Hence the trees, the golden colored earth, the animals, the birds, the sky, the sarovars along with every mandap, vedi and mandir appear to be dazzling in their own effulgence.

Some of the trees are simply amazing as they are made from jewels. For example, some trees have coral trunks, emerald branches, sapphire leaves and diamond flowers. Other trees are made from a combination of many other gems or precious stones.

Seeing a sarovar ahead, Bhaktivinoda wants to bathe there. “Oh, what a wonderful place this is,” he exclaims. From the sarovar’s four sides there are four sets of crystal steps that lead into the crystal clear water. And above each ghat are jewelled pavilions. Around each tree there are jewelled vedis which provide a shady place to sit. Surrounding the sarovar are numerous flower gardens and kunjas., and in the water there are patches of red, yellow, blue and white lotus.

Seeing a large banyan tree with an immense vedi under it on the opposite shore, Bhaktivinoda points to this spot and says, “Let us all go there to prepare for our snana.” Upon arriving under the tree’s cooling shade, everyone changes into their bathing attire. It is remarkable that in Golok Nabadwip all of the clothing that one requires can be gotten from the desire trees. For example, it is this banyan tree that provides everyone’s cloth for bathing.

After enjoying jala-keli with the bhaktas and having a bath, Bhaktivinoda returns to the vedi where he will be dressed. Desiring a dina vesh, the kalpa-vriksha supplies it. In this case a dina-vesa means two humble pieces of white cloth that will be sufficient to cover his body. Because he is going to beg for guru-kripa, this attire befits the occasion. One talented sevaka then adorns his divine body in twelve places with the tilak of Nityananda’s parivara.

Bhaktivinoda’s advice concerning Guru-tattva

While sitting under the banyan tree, our Thakur will now speak about how Krishna’s kripa can descend through the guru. Although we have entered Golok Nabadwip in this svArasikI adventure and are performing mAnasI guru pUjA there, his instructions can be helpful for fallen people in our world too.

Bhaktivinoda says, “Krishna tattva, his lila-tattva, his rasa-tattva, his dhama-tattva and his nAma-tattva, etc., are all important to understand, but the first step, Guru-tattva, can often be the most confusing of all. It is essential therefore that one belong to an unbroken disciplic succession that begins from an eternal lila association of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. When the Supreme Lord’s mercy descends to reach us through an unbroken succession of gurus, this is called AmnAya-kRpA. Now how can this work for us?

“In our sampradaya, Nityananda’s better half, Jahnava Thakurani, accepted Ramai Thakur as her adopted son and gave him dIkSA. Therefore his descendants, who are our guru-varga, can lead us to Nityananda Prabhu. But we need to worship each member in the proper order, without omitting any one of them. Because each member is a direct representative of Lord Nityananda, we shall arrive at his lotus feet in a short time.”

While preparing to leave for his gurudeva’s abode, Bhaktivinoda is giving instructions to the kirtaniyas – when an enchanting sound of celestial singing sweeps everyone off their feet! Then a bhakta says, “O Thakur! That amazing singing is coming from the ashram of your Sri Gurudeva, Bipin Bihari Goswami.”

“Then let us go quickly and listen,” Bhaktivinoda exclaims. “We can perform our kirtan some other time.”

As we arrive at the gate and observe the austere surroundings inside, it reminds everyone of Dronacharya’s hermitage. But this is surely not a place for kshatriyas to receive martial training. It is a center for pure Vaishnavas who wish to learn the devotional arts of Bhagavata-prema-seva. The wonderful singing is coming from a large assembly hall just ahead. But before we go in, Bhaktivinoda inquires from one of the students, “What is going on in there?”

The student explains, “Prabhupada has written a drama which we will perform at Nityananda’s palace tonight. Just now everyone is rehearsing.”

“What is the drama about?” Bhaktivinoda curiously inquires.

“The play is entitled Madhura-milana because in each one of its four acts our Rasikendra Krishna puts on a different disguise for the chance to have a madhura-milana with his Rasavinodini Radha. Do you want to see the play? Come, let me escort all of you inside.”

As we enter the auditorium, the fourth act is just beginning. Although our guide wants to usher us right in front, Bhaktivinoda requests that our group remain behind the last row of spectators. Looking to the stage, there is Prabhupada sitting on a vyāsāsana, and his father Dinanath Goswami is seated beside him. The drama’s narrator happens to be Prabhupada’s eldest son, Bhagavata Kumar Goswami. Then we see that his wife Krishna Kamini Devi is busy directing the actors and the dancers. And from behind the stage his younger sons, Gaur Govinda Goswami and Lalit Ranjan Goswami are there to guide the singers and musicians. Because each one of them is expert, the spectators have forgotten that they are watching a play – because after becoming transported in relishing the rasa, it really appears that Vraja lila is directly unfolding before their eyes!

In the first three acts, Krishna has appeared as a vaidya [doctor], as a sarvajna [fortune-teller] and as a devi from heaven. Now he will assume the role of a videshini, a young girl who is coming from a far distant place. Here is how the first scene opens:

Krishna is coming to enter Radha’s kunja at the night’s end – which instantly makes her turn fiery angry! Because right in front of her eyes she very clearly sees the kunkum from Chandravali’s breasts smeared all over her priya-nagara’s chest. Thus Radha rebukes Krishna and finally chases him away. Then Lalita reinforces Radha’s maan by sternly pledging, “Madhava, today you will not be allowed to have Srimati’s darshan again.”

Now what can he do? Feeling downtrodden, Krishna laments for his aparadha and lowers his head to return home. But Krishna soon returns with a plan. At first he hides behind the foliage to overhear what Lalita is saying. “Oh Radhe! Congratulations. You certainly did well to maintain your gravity and prestige. For isn’t Krishna simply a philanderer and a debauchee? But on the other hand, you are a raja-kishori coming from high parentage. So why should you allow this dark-complexioned cowherder to destroy your religious principles and family dignity? By chastising Krishna and chasing him away, you have demonstrated the ideal behaviour for a chaste kula-vadhu like yourself. Because next time Krishna will surely twice before he tries to cheat on you again.”

Although Radha was siding with Lalita in the beginning, now her lecture is becoming painful. Thus seeing Radha’s sudden change of heart, Tungavidya and Sudevi step in. They request Lalita to go and help prepare for Radha’s quick departure home. Then they take Radha aside to speak with her in privacy and seeing her painstruck for want of Shyam, they begin to console her, “O priya-sakhi Radhe, perhaps you did behave a little too harshly with your priya nagara. After all, just consider, if you had forgiven him then, both of you could be enjoying together in this kunja right now. Aren’t we speaking the truth?”

Radha then opens her heart to confess, “O sakhis! You are certainly right. The fault lies with me. Krishna is naturally attractive for all women, as every young girl is simply mad after him. So how can I blame him for acting according to his nature? Rather, when he took so much trouble to visit me, I should have immediately forgiven him and let him fulfil all of his desires. Alas! By chasing him away I have become Krishna’s aparadhini! So will he ever offer me his darshan again? Oh Providence! By my own misbehaviour I have been cursed.”

Meanwhile, Vishakha spots Krishna hiding in the bushes and goes to consult with him. Then they both arrive before Radha. “Oh Radhe, look here,” Vishakha exclaims, “I just met this young girl along the roadside. As she was crying pathetically, I listened to her sad story. Now I have brought her here to see if you can do something to help her.”

“Oh what is your name and where do you live?” Radha asks.

Speaking in a young woman’s voice, Krishna meekly answers, “My name is Vindhyavasini, and I live in Vidarbha which is very far away.”

“Then why have you come to see me,” Radha questions.

“Hearing your glories from afar, I have come to take shelter of you,” Vindhyavasini says. “I think that your suffering and mine may be very similar.”

“What are you saying?” Radha asks. “Please explain.”

Vindhavasini replies, “From an early age, I fell in love with an exceptionally handsome boy to whom I gave my heart. But my parents got me married to someone else. Although I have tried to keep my deep love affair a secret, somehow or other, my relatives found out about it. Thus they torture me day and night. They have also disgraced my name so that people look on me with scorn. I have been able to tolerate all of this because I loved that handsome boy so much. But recently I discovered that he has many lovers and this is killing me. Oh Radhe, what shall I do?”

As Radha hears how Vindhyavasini’s plight matches hers, her eyes fill with tears and her heart overflows with compassion. Thus she steps forward to strongly embrace VV to her chest as they both shower each other with a downpour of premasru, tears of love.

That is when Radha discovers that VV is Krishna. So at this moment, many things happen simultaneously by the grace of Yogamaya: A vilasa kunja manifests before them, the sakhis disappear and the manjaris enter, and Radha-Krishna’s vilasa keli begins to reach the highest stage of samriddhiman sambhoga. Oh what a spectacular madhura-milan!

Looking to the stage, I can no longer see Prabhupada, though I distinctly notice that Vilasa Manjari has advented among the seva-para manjaris who now surround the keli-mandir. As I go to tell this amazing news to my Gurudeva, he is no longer there, he and Bhaktivinoda have also entered this amazing pastime as Lata and Kamal Manjari. But then I find myself there too in my manjari svarupa. Oh what is going on? By the shakti of Guru kripa, Krishna lila has directly manifested in Golok Nabadwip.

But this does not last for long, for the next moment, the lila disappears as I see my parama-gurudeva lying prostrate before BBG offering a sASTAGga praNAma. Upon getting up with tears flowing from his eyes and with folded hands, Bhaktivinoda starts praising his Sri Guru Padapadma, saying, “I came here to do Guru-pūjā, but before the puja could begin, I got a startling glimpse of your amazing shakti. I will certainly admit by you kripa I have become Kamal Manjari. And by the kripa of our manjari paramparā, I have received the privilege to perform Radha Krishna’s nikunja seva following in Ananga Manjari’s footsteps. So what more could I ask for?”

Prabhupada replies, “Thakur, the kripa for which your heart earnestly yearns has only begun to descend, because there is still so much left to receive. Therefore, I have become impatient to bring you before our parama karunamaya Sri Nitai Chand. Then you may see what he has in store for us.”

As in the case of any bonafide guru, BBG is far more eager to go and perform his Sri Gurudeva’s puja than to accept the puja of others for himself. So on his humble request, Bhaktivinoda Thakur and his followers only briefly get the chance to worship him today. Then when Prabhupada eagerly comes outside and gets into the palanquin with his sahadharmiṇī, Krishna Kamini Devi, a tumultuous kirtan begins. And as the palanquin starts to head for the palace of Sri Yajneshwar Goswami, everyone starts dancing behind them in jubilation.

Another side of Thakur Bhaktivinoda

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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Anonymous said…

"It is essential therefore that one belong to an unbroken disciplic succession that begins from an eternal lila association of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. When the Supreme Lord’s mercy descends to reach us through an unbroken succession of gurus, this is called AmnAya-kRpA. Now how can this work for us?"

Please will you kindly expound the meaning of the phrase "AmnAya-kRpA."

आम्नाय ā-mnāya [AmnAya]:

कृ kṛ [kR]:

प pa:
Jagadananda Das said…
I am not sure of the problem. It seems fairly straightforward from the MMW definitions. Why do you want to separate kR from pa. kRpA is commonly used guru-kRpA hi kevalam.

AmnAya is a word that Bhaktivinoda Thakur liked as roughly equivalent to paramparA. That which descends from the revealed source. So in the beliefs of our tradition, the root source is the avatar generation associated with Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya. His associates started disciplic successions and the flow of mercy comes through the channel (praNAli) of masters in that line.

Jai Sri Radhe.
Anonymous said…

Thank you; yes, now I see.

कृपा (kṛpā [kRpA]) "of a river":

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