Another Side of Bhaktivinoda 8: The Author’s svārasikī sthiti
Svārasikī sthiti = *One’s eternal place in the līlā.
Previous posts in this series.
1: Guru Nishtha
Before we start to worship Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s guru paramparā in Golok Nabadwip, I would like to say a few words about how I desire to live there. Chapter 6 has described Golok Nabadwip Dham to some extent. In this chapter we will include more details.
In the system of siddha-praṇāli and ekādaśa-bhāva that we have observed in a number of bonafide guru paramparās, hardly does anyone have much to say about our svārasikī sthiti in Golok Nabadwip. Though when I was learning the Guṭikā from Madan Mohan Baba, he told me, “Think of yourself as a sādhaka dās who carries out menial sevā, and who lives in his gurudeva’s ashram.” This is how it was described in Chapter 6, for this is also the base-line model that is prescribed for beginning rāgānugā sādhakas in the Guṭikā.
To be frank, I wasn’t so keen on this role from the start. Nevertheless, I tried to surrender to my śikṣā-guru’s instructions, since he was rather insistent that I be like this. But after trying real hard to adjust for a long time, I just put had to put this meditation aside because I wanted to be someone else. Now readers may remember an instruction we quoted from Hari-nāma-cintāmaṇi that relates specifically to this topic.
āpanera yogya-smṛti kara nirantara ||80||
āpanera ayogya smaraṇa yadi haya |
bahu yuga sādhile-o siddhi kabhu naya ||81||
There is a beautiful rule is smaraṇa sādhanā: you should contemplate only the scenes that you enjoy meditating upon. Because if you try to focus on the līlās or the types of sevā that you don’t prefer, siddhi can never be attained. (HNC 15.80-81)This is a wonderful guideline in Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s teachings. Though in some schools of rāgānugā sādhana, whatever the guru deems fit for the disciple’s siddha-rupa sevā must be accepted without change. Now this may be alright, of course, if the disciple likes very much what his guru has given him. But what if he doesn’t? Then won’t it be likely that such aspiring students lose interest in līlā-smaraṇa and go on to something else? We have seen this happen.
Therefore Narottam Das Thakur’s simple advice in Prema-bhakti-candrikā can give great solace
rāga mārge ei se upāya
"On the rāga-mārga whatever we desire during sādhanā we will attain upon receiving our siddha-deha." (Prema-bhakti-candrikā 55)This is a wonderful discovery: To learn that we can be the architect of our destiny in the spiritual world. Because as Narottam Das assures us, everything that we wish to be can come about by our own personal desires. Following one’s ruci is the essence of the rāgānugā path.
So when this is the case, I would often ponder: How can I be a celibate brahmachari who resides on the veranda in his guru’s ashram when I would much rather live like a raja in a palatial palace along with a devoted wife and a family of three sons and three daughters.
Then, like Shrivas Angan, our home can be an ideal setting for Mahaprabhu and the bhaktas to come and perform their pastimes.
Desires such as these will indeed fructify to become a reality in the spiritual world if we regularly nurture them in our daily practice of smaraṇa. Because by such continuous meditation more and more details of our svārasikī sthiti will be discovered – just as one finds one after another all the missing pieces in the picture of a jigsaw puzzle.
I must admit, though, that I belong to two parivaras in Golok Nabadwip, a matter which I shall now explain about here: Although our guru-paramparā leads up to Vishnupriya through Ma Jahnava-Nityananda and Vamsivadana, my father is a close relative of Gadadhar Pandit. In other words, as Gadadhar’s father is Madhava Mishra, my father is Madhusudan Mishra, his elder brother. Such a birth will take place by our constant deep hankering to attain such a close relationship with Gadadhar. Therefore the beautiful mansion that our family lives in will be located in the southwest section of the Dham, the place where Gadadhar’s relatives and followers all reside. As Gadadhar’s mother’s name is Ratnavati, my mother’s name is Premavati and my wife’s name is Premamayi. The names of our three sons are Gopinath, Govinda and Madan Mohan. And our three daughters are named Madhavi, Malati and Mallika. Because the setting in which we live is so ideal, we can all work together like a team.
Let us explain: The first floor of our home forms a temple and a kirtan hall that are beautifully constructed from moonstone, crystal and other precious gems. The vigrahas we worship are Radha and Krishna Kelichand – along with Ananga Manjari who stands on Krishna’s right side. To Ananga’s right, there are Lalita, Chitra, Champakalata and Rangadevi. Then on Radha’s left are Vishakha, Indulekha, Tungavidya and Sudevi. Since the murtis are molded exactly as we would find them in Krishna līlā it is hard to tell that they are murtis, for they really appear like Krishna, Radha, Ananga Manjari and those other gopis in person.
Madhavi, Malati and Mallika are ideal pujaris since they themselves look just like Vraja gopis. Hence it is by their incredible prema-sevā that the murtis become jāgrata (alive) and start to move around. It is amazing to watch the sevā because even Gauranga became enchanted the first time that he witnessed how these vigrahas are served. So now he comes for darshan on a regular basis.
Here is an example: On one side of the temple there is a small latticed window. Gauranga loves to come here and peek inside. During the bhoga offerings Madhavi, Malati and Mallika come right up to each murti and escort them by the hand to the bhojan mandir, an elegantly decorated room which is just behind the main altar. Then when the girls request the murtis to sit down on flower asanas to begin eating, they obey! Oh my! The murtis are really eating! And as they do so with so much laughter and frolic, the three girls fan them with big white fluffy chamaras. Seeing all this, Gauranga cannot remain sober, his body erupts with sūddīpta-sāttvika-bhāvas!
After the bhojana, the girls pour camphorized water from a crystal pitcher to wash the murtis’ hands and mouths. Then they supply fresh pan. When the murtis are led to the śayana-mandira, sometimes Krishna tries to pull them to his side! The śayana-mandira is very cooling since it is always profusely decorated with fresh scented flowers. But when Gauranga sees Krishna expand into many murtis to rest beside each gopi, newer and newer transcendental emotions continue to awaken in his body!
Now let me tell about the cooking arrangement. When my better half, Premamayi, enters the kitchen with her team of helpers, they can prepare the most exotic and sumptuous bhoga offerings – for not only the different times in the day, but for every season of the year. On some days, however, when Gauranga brings Nitai Chand and the bhaktas to enjoy madhura pastimes in our keli-nikuñjas resting over the Ganga, Vishnupriya and Jahnava also like to come. Then Premamayi joins them in the kitchen to help prepare a wonderful feast. After the bhoga is offered, my three sons join with me to help serve the prasad. When viewing everyone’s bhojanānanda my body erupts with goose bumps.
Gopinath, Govinda and Madan Mohan are exceptionally talented singers and mridanga players. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that their skills outmatch those of the Gandharvas. Though when we join them with a few other talented musicians our kirtan can stir an amazing potency. Sometimes upon hearing it from afar, Gaurasundar comes running and while steeped in the kirtan rasa he will even embrace us.
Now someone might question: How can you write about your confidential svarupa sevā in the spiritual world? Shouldn’t such matters be kept secret?
To answer, I would say that what we have written about our svārasikī sthiti isn’t so confidential. Gauranga’s pastimes in Golok Nabadwip are both external and internal. Here we have only told something about our external family roles.
Then someone might comment: How can you think about being a close relative of Gadadhar Pandit? How is that possible?
Well, since everything in Golok Nabadwip is a manifestation of the Lord’s cit-śakti, what could be impossible? If our desire to perform devotional service is pure, Yogamaya can easily arrange a suitable siddha-deha for whatever we wish to be. What is dangerous, however, is
ahaṅgrahopāsanā, or to assume that we have become Nityananda, Advaita, Srivas or any other nitya-parsada of the Lord, as this mentality will ruin us. On the other hand, to think of oneself as a new, up-and-coming bhakta in a leading role (separate from the others) is perfectly alright and covetable.
So why did we write about our svārasikī sthiti? Here are a few reasons:
- When performing līlā-smaraṇa, it can be helpful to write down what we wish to meditate upon. Then our smaraṇa can become more concentrated, easier to remember and deeper.
- In our group of Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s followers, it isn’t improper for one to write about their siddha-bhāva. Bhaktivinoda Thakur has himself shown the example in his Siddhi-lalasā. These ten poems are instructive because they give us an idea about how we can follow in Kamal Manjari’s footsteps.
- Most devotees haven’t a clue about their siddha-deha and the path for attaining their nitya-sevā in the spiritual world. So wouldn’t it be helpful to begin discussing these topics? Then more of us can become inspired to think in this direction.
Readers interested in the subject matter of this book can contact the author at email@example.com.