Another side of Bhaktivinoda 12: Guru Puja continues in Golok Nabadwip

The ghat where Jahnava bathed and had this vision is today known as Shri Jahnava Ghat.
Photo: Iskcon Desire Tree..

I hope that everyone has been enjoying this series as much as I have. This is now the last post for this set of installments. I have no idea when the book will be completed, but I hope that our readers will have had the opportunity to study these 12 chapters thoroughly, as they will find a great deal there that is little known about the nature of rāgānugā bhajana, the āmnāya-siddha-paramparā, and the unique character of this disciplic succession in particular. 

Gadadhar Pran promises many exciting new things in the upcoming chapters, where we will learn about the four nitya-siddha founding members of this paramparā -- Ramai Thakur, Vamsivadanananda Thakur, Jahnava Thakurani and Vishnupriya Devi and their mood and teachings, Bhaktivinoda Thakur's worship of Gaura Gadadhar, the worship of Vishnupriya and Lakshmipriya with Gauranga at the Yogapeeth and its higher representation in Golok Nabadwip and much, much more!. 

The meaning of disciplic succession is the connection one gets to the avatar generation, i.e., the eternal associates of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who joined with him in his display of the intimate character of divine love in the transcendental realm, This is the sambandha-viśeṣa that is at the very essence of initiation, the divya-jñāna that comes through the guru and the mantra.

This is what is being taught here by Gadadhar Pran Das, and we hope that there are some readers who will recognize the unique value of his instructions. The research and application in sādhana he has undertaken are without compare.

Jai Gaur, Jai Gadadhar!

Previous posts in this series.

1: Guru Nishtha
10: Entering Sri Nityananda’s abode and Bipin Bihari Goswami’s puja
11: Guru-pūjā to Yajneshwar Goswami and his Guru Mata Srimati Ramamani Goswamini

When the palanquin nears the palace of Guna Manjari and her mother Maheshwari Goswamini, we can see that a large crowd of people has gathered there to receive us. Upon our arrival Ramamani quickly gets down from the palanquin and runs to fall at her mother’s lotus feet. Her grandmother is also standing there to offer her a blessing. The crowd emits a joyful sound of cheering, blowing conchshells and stirring ulu vibrations.

Without wasting a moment, however, Guna Manjari leads her daughter inside the nāṭa mandira to where a luxurious vyasasan is waiting. It has been decorated with the most fragrant of all flowers. Upon nearing the vyasasan, Ramamani hesitates and starts to turn back. But then her mother and grandmother catch both of her hands, lead her to the vyasasan, and lovingly seat her down there. Again, loud cries of Haribol, cheering and echoing ulu vibrations commence as Guna Manjari starts to perform her daughter’s ārati. Just see! Here the mother wants to worship her own śiṣya santāna [disciple daughter].

This is when Yajneshwar Prabhu leads a guru-vandanā kirtan as everyone joins in. After a brief puja, Ramamani’s mother and grandmother escort the bhaktas into a special dining room that is filled with colourful asanas and request them to be seated. Then many dāsas and dāsīs appear to serve numerous kinds of wonderful sweets, sliced fruits and chilled fruit juices. The bhaktas relish the prasad and none can refrain from praising its divine taste.

While appreciating the special attention that her two Guru-devis made to arrange her puja and welcome the bhaktas, Ramamani starts to wonder how she will be able repay her debt to them. “After all,” she considers, “they may wish to glorify and serve me, but it is really I who should be glorifying and serving them. What should I do?”

Feeling helpless at how to arrange a puja as nice as theirs, Ramamani’s eyes fill with tears and she loses herself in despair. But suddenly someone places their soft hand upon her head, which relieves her tension. Looking over her shoulder she is amazed to see Jahnava Ishwari and immediately falls at her tender lotus feet.

“I was just coming to bathe in the Ganga,” Jahnava says, “but I sensed that you were in difficulty so I came to help you. Now tell me, what is causing your melancholy?”

“I wish to wonderfully perform my Gurudevi and Parama Gurudevi’s puja today, but I feel at a loss as to how to do it,” Ramamani exclaims.

“Well, since your desire is pure, why not take a boon from me?” Jahnava answers. “All you have to do is remember me and your desire will be fulfilled. But you must promise not to tell anyone about this.”

As Ramamani says, “I promise,” she feels an amazing śakti entering her body. Then Jahnava disappears.

With a sudden great burst of confidence, Ramamani calls the bhaktas to come and hear her submission, “I have a keen desire to perform my two Gurudevis’ puja alone today, will you grant my request and sit down to watch? As I have suggested, our worship will be abridged and will also contain only five upacāras.”

When the bhaktas bring Guna Manjari and Maheshwari Goswami into the nāṭa-mandira, Ramamani falls at their lotus feet and requests them to be seated. But in not seeing a place to sit, they inquire, “Where are the asanas?”

Clasping her hands to her head with bhakti, Ramamani remembers Ma Jahnava, and aho! two majestic simhasanas appear that are brighter than millions of suns yet more soothing than millions of moons!

“Oh, please be seated,” Ramamani requests.

Seeing the wonder makes everyone horripilate, but not knowing what to expect next, the bhaktas simply fix their attention on Ramamani.

“Let me offer some incense,” she says while remembering Ma Jahnava, and 108 stunningly beautiful apsaras suddenly appear and offer the two Gurudevis a pranam full of bhakti. Then, on Ramamani’s cue, they each light a handful of incense and start dancing. Oh my! Menaka, Tilottama, Rambha and a host of other universally famous apsaras all offer the incense in circular motions as they fantastically dance in unison. Then to conclude the drama, they come one by one to place the incense in a golden urn before the two Gurudevis and disappear.

“Now it’s time to offer a pradīpa,” Ramamani says. Then, as she meditates on Jahnava, the mandir fills with a bright aura as if the sun were rising. Stepping out from the bright effulgence appears Savitri, the wife of the Sun God, with a whole troop of other heavenly devis. Folding her hands submissively, she utters, “What is your command?” Ramamani looks to her two Gurudevis and answers, “Can you offer them a lamp?”

To follow the request, Savitri holds out her arms and a seven-tier golden lamp suddenly appears in her grasp. It has hundreds of dazzling wicks that radiate the śakti of Surya Narayan. Then, on Savitri’s request, her devi followers begin striking gongs, ringing bells and playing kettle drums as she offers the lamp in oscillating movements.

While all of this is going on, Ramamani remembers Jahnava again and countless heavenly damsels begin showering flower petals that cover her Gurudevis up to their necks in the wonderful fragrance from the divine flowers.

Pleased on seeing this miraculous occurrence, Ramamani meditates on Jahnava again and asks, “Now, how will I offer chandan?” But at the very same time, she looks overhead and sees a golden eagle carrying two sticks of the finest chandan from the Malayan mountains. The bird swoops down and drops that amazing chandan from its talons right into Ramamani’s hands. Twelve kumārī brāhmaṇa girls then appear to grind the chandan with nine other kinds of divine fragrance. They place the mixture in a golden bowl, but Ramamani surmises, “I don’t think the time to apply this fragrant paste has yet arrived.”

To offer the naivedya Ramamani sits down to meditate on Radha Krishna’s madhyāhna līlā, and there she sees Ananga Manjari, who has just offered to Krishna the amṛta-keli confection that Radha made. In her form as Rasa Manjari, Ramamani begs for a kaṇikā [morcel] of that mahā-prasāda that is mixed with Krishna’s adharāmṛta. When Ananga Manjari gives her some remnants, she carefully places them in a golden container. Then she returns as Ramamani to lovingly place a portion of that special prasāda into her two Gurudevis’ mouths, upon relishing which their bodies flush with a bouquet of divine emotions.

To put her Gurudevis to rest, Ramamani envisions a jewelled śayana-mandira within an enchanting forest kunj. Inside there are two comfortable flower beds upon which she lays them down. It is now that she will apply the chandan, first to their foreheads and then to their other bodily limbs. When her son and disciple Yajneshwar joins her, she requests that he tenderly massage her Gurudevis’ lotus feet. Then she herself gently holds her Parama Gurudevi’s śrī-caraṇa-kamala and places them to her head. Then she begins to massage them, doing it so expertly that Maheshwari Goswamini soon falls asleep with a contented looking smile adorning her face.

Rasa Analysis

Let us remember that this līlā-smaraṇa adventure is unfolding in Golok Nabadwip where what is impossible in our world can easily be done. Those līlā associates have two great advantages over the fallen bhaktas in our world:
  1. They are all siddhas, which means that the Lord’s śuddha-sattva śakti is manifest within them. This śakti enables them to perform miracles, almost to the extent that the Lord can.
  2. They eternally reside within Yogamaya’s domain where time, places and circumstances can immediately change to ideally fit ach individual’s desires to perform sevā.
Actually speaking, Goloka Nabadwip and Golok Vrindavan are like two adjoining rooms in one house, where one can easily go back and forth from moment to the next. Because Gauranga and Krishna are the same svayaṁ bhagavān, Gauranga’s nitya associates and Krishna’s nitya associates are also the same persons with slightly different identities. Moreover, just as Gauranga or Krishna can manifest different forms, to engage in different activities in different places, all at the same time, those nitya-siddha bhaktas can also do the same.

After awakening from a brief rest, Maheshwari Goswamini leads the bhaktas to the next place in our Guru Puja Yatra, the palace of her Guru-pitā, Sri Dayaram Goswami. And after performing his worship, he will lead everyone to the abode of his Guru-pitā, Sri Rudreshwar Goswami. Rudreshwar will then lead the bhaktas to worship his Gurudeva and father, Sri Keshav Chandra Goswami. Though Keshav received dīkṣā from his elder brother, Sri Rajavallabh Goswami, whose worship we will perform next.

In Rajavallabh Goswami’s acclaimed book, Śrī-Muralī-vilāsa, he tells the amazing story of how his Gurudeva and uncle, Sri Ramai Thakur, took birth. When Ramai’s grandfather, Vamsivadan Thakur, was passing away from our world, his daughter-in-law and disciple, began pitifully weeping. So to console her, Vamsi gave a wonderful blessing saying, “O baumā [daughter-in-law], you may be happy to know that I shall soon take birth as your beloved son.”

And thus it came to pass that Vamsivadan appeared in his second avatāra as Sri Ramai Thakur, who was exceptionally handsome, even more so than Cupid. When Ramai became a new youth, a nava-kiśora, Sri Jahnava Ishwari adopted him and gave him dīkṣā. At that time, Srimati Vishnupriya Devi was also present, perhaps because she is Vamsi’s Gurudevi.

Concerning dīkṣā, it is noteworthy that in this paramparā, as in the case of Sri Advaita Prabhu’s parivāra also, the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra is first given. Then comes the Gopāla-mantra [in either 10 or 18-syllables] and then comes the Kāma-gāyatrī with its Kāma-bīja. In this sampradāya, since Gauranga is worshiped as being non-different from Rasarāja Krishna, a separate Gaura-mantra isn’t required. In other words, as Rasarāja Krishna is a rasika-nāgara who performs the Rāsa-līlā, so is our Gauranga. For this is the meaning of his worship with Krishna’s gopī-jana-vallabhāya mantra and Kāma-gāyatrī.

As we knew them in our world, the four most important leaders of this Guru-paramparā who are nitya-siddha are: Vishnupriya, Vamsivadan, Jahnava Thakurani and Ramai Thakur. The others who follow them and their teachings are sādhana-siddha. Though as we narrate this svārasikī story in Golok Nabadwip, we may conclude that the sādhana-siddha bhaktas have attained an almost equal status as these original four samaṣṭi-gurus, as Bhaktivinoda Thakur states in Hari-nāma-cintāmaṇi:

āpane svarūpa-siddhi labhe bhāgyavān |
liṅga-bhaṅge vastu-siddhi sampatti vidhāna ||97||
ha-iyā sādhana-siddhā nitya-siddhā saha |
samatā labhiyā kṛṣṇa-seve aharahaḥ ||98||
When one attains svarūpa-siddhi in our world, they are fortunate indeed. Then they will lose their material identity and be transferred to Krishna’s [bhauma] līlā where they attain vastu-siddhi [their eternal svarūpa]. At that time, they achieve equal status with Krishna’s nitya-siddha bhaktas as they serve the Lord in their association. (HNC 15.97-98)
To be continued soon...

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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