Another side of Bhaktivinoda Thakur 6: The Gutika's Contents
After a hiatus of several months, we are continuing with Gadadhar Pran Das's Another side of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. In the very interesting previous chapter about Siddha Krishnadas Baba's Guṭikā can be found here. In Chapter 5 Gadadhar recounts how he came into the association of Madan Mohan Das Babaji Maharaj, Gopal Das Babaji Maharaj and Ananta Das Pandit Baba (now Radha Kund Mahant), who each published their own versions of the Guṭikā. Gadadhar studied especially under Madan Mohan Baba, spending extended periods of time with him in Radha Kund and then Govinda Kund between 1980 and 1990.
The Guṭikā's contents
For rāga mārga sādhakas and sādhikās the Guṭikā is indispensable. Here are a few reasons:
- To help lay a good foundation for our smaraṇa sādhanā, it elaborately describes all of the important līlā sites and provides lots of maps and diagrams. This orients the sādhaka in such a way that greatly facilitates smaraṇa.
- It presents the matching Gaura-līlā counterpart for every aṣṭa-kāla-līlā that Govinda-līlāmṛta narrates.
- It offers us a guideline for performing mānasī sevā as a sādhaka dās in Gaura-līlā and as a sādhikā mañjarī dāsi in Radha Krishna's līlā.
These pastimes take place between 6.00 and 8.24 a.m. Siddha Baba first explains how Sri Ganga Devi completely surrounds Golok Nabadwip Dham: She comes from the north and becomes two streams that flow along Nabadwip's eastern and western perimeters and then merge again into one stream on the south.
Sri Gauranga's residence, known as Sri Jagannath Mishrapura, rests above a gradually sloping hill in the Dhama's center. The bhaktas' palaces surround this wonderful abode in every direction. In the Dham's north side the sādhaka dās arises from bed in his guru's ashram chanting aloud "Gora! Gora!" [This is Madan Mohan Das's method, to rise in the north since his guru-varga coming from Narottam Das Thakur all reside there. Those belonging to other guru paramparas may rise elsewhere.] After brushing his teeth and other morning activities he cleans his gurudeva's bathroom and then heads for the Ganga. Arriving at the ghat and offering Ganga Devi his pranams, he bathes and comes out of the water to put on a white cloth. Returning to the ashram, the sādhaka dās puts on tilak, offers Ganga jal to Tulasi Devi and begins reciting stavas and stutis. Then taking up a broom and a lota of purified water, he cleans his gurudeva's bedroom and veranda.
To awaken gurudeva, the sādhaka massages his lotus feet and after he completes his early morning activities, the sādhaka dās rubs oil into his gurudeva's hair and onto his bodily limbs. As they both head for the Ganga, the sādhaka trails behind carrying his gurudeva's change of dress. Upon arriving at the ghat and offering Ganga Devi a pranam, Gurudeva bathes and afterwards the sādhaka dās dries his body with a towel and dresses him in white garments. When they arrive back, the sādhaka washes his Guru's lotus feet, seats him upon the śṛṅgāra vedi attractively dresses him in a white silken cloth, and puts on his tilak.
When their guru-varga arrive, everyone is eager to head for Sri Gaurasundar's abode. The sādhaka takes this opportunity to offer each one of them a pranam and follows behind. Along the way he may pick flowers as everyone quickly proceeds along. Upon spotting Sri Gauranga's breathtaking abode, the sādhaka dās horripilates! Jagannath Mishra's palace is surrounded by high golden walls with a large gate in each direction, just like Jagannath Deva's mandir in Puri. The Singha Dwar faces east. It is superbly crafted with various gems and gold, and topped by golden jugs, a chakra and a red flag.
The palace's thirty rooms are divided into four sections:
- In the northeast, Sachi and Jagannath Mishra have six rooms.
- In the southeast, Mahaprabhu has 12 rooms, which include the Yoga Pith mandir, Sri Narayan's mandir, and some beautiful gardens.
- In the southwest, Vishnupriya has eight rooms. Just outsider her bedroom and Lakshmipriya's bedroom is wonderful sarovar surrounded by countless Nava-Vrindavan kunjas. [In chapter 9 of this book, Vishnupriya's quarters, which are outside the bounds of most sādhakas, will be described in detail.]
- In the northwest, Lakshmipriya has four rooms.
In the north, on the west side, are the six Goswamis' abodes. That includes the palaces of Lokanath Goswami and Krishnadas Kaviraj. In the north's south side the 12 Gopalas and Haridas Thakur reside.
In the Dham's northeast section is Srivas Angan with its six seasonal flower nikunjas resting beside the Ganga. After Rasa līlā sankirtan Mahaprabhu and the bhaktas take late night rest here.
In the east, on the north side, is Chandrashekhar Acharya's mansion, and on the south are the abodes of Vanamali Acharya, Jagadananda Pandit, and Raghava Pandit.
In the Dham's southeastern side is Sri Advaita Acharya's amazing abode where Sri Madan Gopal's mandir and nat mandir are in the center. Surrounding this area are beautiful gardens, sarovars and pavilions lining the Ganga's shore. The palaces belonging to Advaita's descendants and dsiciplea are nestled among these gardens.
Just south of Advaita's estate is Nityanananda Prabhu's expansive abode with his sevita Sri Shyamasundar vigraha centrally located in a stunning suryakanta manimay mandir. His followers and relatives live in palatial mansions which are surrounded by numerous flower gardens and kunjas. We may note that Bhaktvinoda Thakur's Svananda Sukhada Kunj, with his sevita Radha Madhava deities, is located just south of Nityananda's abode.
In the south's western side are the 64 Mahantas' palaces along with the mansions of Mukunda, Vasu Datta and Murari Gupta.
In the Dham's southwest section is the amazing palace of Madhava Mishra and Ratnavati, Gadadhar Pandit's parents, where Gadadhar's sevita Gopinath vigraha resides in a beautiful moonstone mandir. Surrounding Gopinath's mandir are the palatial mansions of Gadadhar's relatives and followers amidst numerous flower gardens.
In the West is Narahari Sarkar Thakur's marvelous estate, along with the mansions of his descendants and disciples.
In the northwest are the palaces of Gadadhar Das and Saranga Thakur.
While following behind his Guru-varga, the sādhaka dās enters Jagannath Mishrapura and begins to perform sevā according to his guru's instructions. Taking up a broom and a golden pitcher filled with scented rose water, he begins cleaning the floors, verandas and vedis. Then he goes to prepare for the Three Prabhus (Gaura, Nityananda, Advaita) to brush their teeth, for their oil massage at the Ganga shore, and for the puja they will perform there.
When Nitai and Advaita arrive with the bhaktas, everyone assembles in Mahaprabhu's guest room near the Singha Dwar to patiently wait for Mother Sachi to go and awaken her son. After she comes out to perform her morning duties, they eagerly enter Gauranga's luxurious bedroom. When the bhaktas offer a sāṣṭāṅga-praṇāma, Prabhu cordially greets everyone. Then in a faltering voice he begins to relate his previous night's activities, as if Radha herself is speaking. Knowing Mahaprabhu's bhāva, the bhaktas perform a Vraja līlā kirtan, which describes Radha's awakening, her conversation with Mukhara, and the arrival of her yūtheśvarī friends Shyamala, Bimala and others who eagerly wish to hear about her previous night's affairs (rasodgāra). In this way Mahaprabhu and the bhaktas relish the Vraja līlā-rasa through the medium of līlā kirtan.
At this point, the Guṭikā switches over to Govinda-līlāmṛta's narration of Radha's early morning pastimes. But before illustrating the opening scene, it provides an excellent map of Jatila's house and the surrounding area of Javat village. Jatila's estate has 25 rooms, 15 of which form the separate palace that Vrishabhanu Raja built for Radha and Ananga Manjari after their marriages to Abhimanyu and Durmada. The map also shows the locations in Javat of the homes of Radha's aṣṭa-sakhis and her aṣṭa mañjarīs' husbands. Thus the sādhikā mañjarī can know where her own husband's home will be also.
After describing Radha's awakening, her conversation with Mukhara and her rasodgāra, the Guṭikā tells how the sādhikā can perform sevā to Radha at this time.
When this is complete, the narration switches back to Goloka Nabadwip, where we find Mahaprabhu and the bhaktas heading for the Ganga to take their morning snāna. It prescribes wonderful sevās appropriate to the situation that the sādhaka dās can perform.
When Mahaprabhu enters a jeweled pavilion beside the Ganga the sādhaka goes to put on his thin white snāna-vastra . And when Gaurasundara sits down he unloosens the pearl-string that binds his top-knot, releasing his long and glamorous locks. Then as Mahaprabhu closes his lotus eyes to meditate on Vraja līlā, the sādhaka expertly massages his head with scented amalaki oil, making ever strand of his lovely curling hair glisten. But in no time, Prabhu is overtaken by sāttvika bhāvas, which makes the sādhaka dās also reel in ecstasy. Thus he prays, "O Providence! Please don't let these ecstatic emotions upset my sevā." Remarkably, the Lord's bhāva subsides so that he can go on to massage every limb of his immaculate body with Narayan oil. Then to complete his sevā, the sādhaka dās rubs scented udvartana powder over every one of the Lord's limbs to remove the oil.
Fathoming the bhaktas' eagerness to begin jala-keli, Mahaprabhu offers a pranam to Ganga Devi and enters her holy stream. And while following behind the bhaktas surround the Three Prabhus and the splashing frolic begins. Sometimes the competition goes on between the Lord and a bhakta, and sometimes the bhaktas splash each other. In either case, the jala-keli's pleasure simply goes on increasing.
This brief summary of the Guṭikā's prātaḥ līlā narration has only given a hint of what is there. We had to omit lots of the details which anurāgī bhaktas really appreciate. Therefore I would recommend that readers take the time to carefully study the Guṭikā, because then all of the wonderful scenes it portrays can be imprinted in the mind and our smaraṇa will thereby progress by leaps and bounds.
Coming next will be Radharani's morning snāna at Javat, her dressing and śṛṅgāra and a long description of the many kinds of sevā that her sakhis and manjaris perform at this time. But before describing each Vraja līlā, the Guṭikā always tells how Mahaprabhu and the bhaktas relish these same mellows in Goloka Nabadwip. This process of serving in both līlā realms is more beneficial than simply focusing on the mañjarī-bhāva sevā alone. Let us remember that without Gaurasundara's kripa how will it be possible to attain Vraja gopi prema? Moreoever, the Lord has taken up Radha bhāva to teach this method of bhajan. Hence the Guṭikā first demonstrates how Mahaprabhu and the bhaktas relish Vraja rasa. Then after following Mahaprabhu's bhāva into Vrindavan, we can focus on our mañjarī-svarūpa to perform Radha and Krishna's yugala sevā.