VMA 1.1 : Mangalacharana -- Radha-Krishna, Gauranga and the devotees

Detail of painting of Gauranga by Gadadhar Pran Das.

śrī-rādhā-muralī-manohara-padāmbhojaṁ sadā bhāvayan
śrī-caitanya-mahāprabhoḥ pada-rajaḥsv ātmānam evārpayan |
śrīmad-bhāgavatottamān guṇa-nidhīn atyādarād ānaman
śrī-vṛndāvana-divya-vaibhavam ahaṁ stotuṁ mudā prārabhe ||1.1||
Thinking constantly of the lotus feet of Radha
and Krishna, who plays his enchanting flute,
offering my soul into the dust
of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet,
and most respectfully bowing down
to the great and virtuous devotees of the Lord,
I joyfully take up the composition of this hymn
in praise of the transcendental glories of Sri Vrindavan. (1.1)
[Sonehow I broke the order of posting verses from VMA and started with 1.70. Now that I have finished the first śataka, I decided it would be best to go back to the beginning. Once those first 69 verses have been revised and posted, I will decide again how to proceed.]

Commentary

Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta was written in the first half of the 16th century by Srila Prabodhananda Saraswatipada. This lengthy poem of more than 1700 verses is a celebration of Vrindavan like no other, and often describes it as almost paradise-like, even in the real world of his time. Certainly reading it creates a desire, an aspiration, to both see the underlying archetypal reality and to recreate it in the “real” world.

It is my belief that the 17th śataka is the original one and was probably written before 1540, after the Caitanya-candrāmṛta and perhaps before Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi, the rest of VMA definitely being written afterwards. One of the reasons I think this way is because four of the seven verses that make direct reference to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the VMA are found there: 17.1-3, 17.89. The others are in this verse (1.1), 2.95, and 4.29, which is repeated again at 5.100. Some other verses may be considered indirect references, but we will discuss those when we come to them.

Prabodhananda Saraswatipada’s later works mention Chaitanya less frequently or prominently, for reasons that we can only speculate on. The Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi circulated among the Radhavallabhis has no verses glorifying Chaitanya, whereas that known to the Gaudiyas has extra verses at the beginning and the end dedicating the work to him. The first of those is purely descriptive of his ecstatic form in kirtan and mostly evocative of the kinds of verses found in Caitanya-candrāmṛta. The last, however, credits Mahaprabhu's mercy for revealing Radha-tattva to him. In it, he also adnuts -- as he has done elsewhere in his works -- that he was formerly afflicted by the non-dual conception of the Supreme prior to meeting Chaitanya.

sa jayati gaura-payodhir
māyāvādārka-tāpa-santaptam|
hṛn-nabha udaśītalayad
yo rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhinā ||
May the Golden Lake be ever glorious, who has cooled the sky of my heart, which was burning from the summer heat of the Mayavada sun, with the ocean of nectar that is Rādhā-rasa [or, by revealing the verses of this book, Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi to me]. (RRSN 272)
Another prominent reason for believing that the last chapter of VMA is really the first, is that it was circulated as an independent treatise called the Vṛndāvana-śataka, which was translated and published several times, the earliest of which appears to be the Braj Bhasha version by Bhagavanta Mudita dated around 1650 CE.

There are numerous verses in Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi that glorify Vrindavan, most notably in the concluding portion (Verses 261-269), indicating that Prabodhananda’s attention was turning towards the Dham itself at that time. On the other hand, Prabodhananda does not show much niṣṭhā for Radha or Vrindavan in Caitanya-candrāmṛta, so it may be assumed that he had not yet come to visit or stay there when he wrote that work. Nevertheless, there is one important verse that highlights the relation of Chaitanya to his Vrindavan [and Radha] niṣṭhā.

premā nāmādbhutārthaḥ śravaṇa-patha-gataḥ kasya nāmnāṁ mahimnaḥ
ko vettā kasya vṛndāvana-vipina-mahā-mādhurīṣu praveśaḥ |
ko vā jānāti rādhāṁ parama-rasa-camatkāra-mādhurya-sīmām
ekaś caitanya-candraḥ parama-karuṇayā sarvam āviścakāra ||
Who'd have heard that the wonderful purpose of life is preman?
Who would have known the glories of the names (of Krishna)?
Who would have been able to enter
into the tremendous sweetness of the forests of Vrindavan?
And who would have known the extent of the amazing glories
of the supreme rasa that is Radha?
Chaitanya alone revealed all these things by his supreme mercy. (CCA 130)
The name of Radha only appears 8 times in CCA, mostly to stress that Mahaprabhu is either as being absorbed in Radha’s mood (128, 135), revealing Radha to the world (68, 88, 122, 123, 130), or being the combined form of Radha and Krishna (13, 109).

For the record, I am translating the other verses to Caitanya from the VMA and we may refer to them again later. Beginning with the verses from the 17th century:

namas tasmai kasmaicid api puruṣāyādbhuta-mahā-
mahimne vibhrājat-kanaka-ruci-dhāmne sva-kṛpayā |
asaṅkocenaivāśvapacam akhilebhyaḥ svayam aho
dadau yaḥ sad-bhaktiṁ vimalatara-nānā-rasa-mayīm ||
I bow down to some Person of miraculous great glories
whose effulgence is glowing with pleasing golden light,
who out of compassion himself gave pure devotion
in all its most flawless flavors of divine love
to all, even the outcastes, without any inhibition. (17.1)
yasmin na praviśen mano’pi mahatāṁ kā tatra vārtā punaḥ
śāstrāṇāṁ jñapitaṁ ca yad bhagavatā bhaṅgyaiva bhaktoddhave |
tad vṛndāvanam unmadena rasika-dvandvena kenāpy aho
nitya-krīḍatayā gṛhītam iha ke vidur na gaurāśrayāḥ ||17.2||
Who knew that Vrindavan
into which the minds of even the greatest souls could not enter,
news of which was never revealed in any of the scriptures,
which the Lord spoke of only indirectly to devotee Uddhava,
and which was accepted by a divine couple
of intoxicated Rasikas as their eternal playground,
other than those who have taken shelter of Gaura?
guṇaiḥ sarvair hīno’py aham akhila-jīvādhamatamo’py
aśeṣair doṣaiḥ svair api ca valito durmatir api |
prasādād yasyaivāvidam ahaha rādhāṁ vrajapateḥ
kumāraṁ śrī-vṛndāvanam api sa gauro mama gatiḥ ||17.3||
Though I am one without any virtues whatsoever,
though I am the lowest of living beings anywhere,
though I am adorned with unlimited flaws, all my own,
and though my intelligence is corrupt,.
I have still come to know
by the grace of Gauranga alone,
of Radha and the prince of Braja
and the holy Dham of Vrindavan.
That Gaura is my refuge.
Looking at these three verses closely – and particularly noting the similarity of 17.2 to CCA 130 quoted just above -- it would support, it seems, the idea that this Vṛndāvana-śataka followed after CCA. The much abbreviated maṅgalācaraṇa to VMA (1.1), however, seems to indicate that this was a new and separate treatise. This is why I suggest that RRSN fell between the two. When we look at VMA 17 (Vṛndāvana-śataka) more closely, we will be able to make a better assessment of this hunch.

hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇeti kṛṣṇeti mukhyān
mahāścarya-nāmāvalī-siddha-mantrān |
kṛpā-mūrti-caitanya-devopagītān
kadābhyasya vṛndāvane syāṁ kṛtārthaḥ ||17.89||
When will I perfect my life in Vrindavan
by practicing the chanting of Hare Krishna,
the most glorious and perfect mantra
consisting of Krishna’s most prominent names,
which was sung by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu,
the embodiment of compassion?
Here are the two verses from the other śatakas,

śrī-vṛndāvana-tattvaṁ
śrī-rādhā-kṛṣṇayos tattvam |
nija-tattvaṁ ca sadā smara
yat prakaṭitam asti gauracandreṇa ||2.95||
Always remember the tattva of Sri Vrindavan
the tattvas of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna
and the tattva of your own svarūpa --
all of which was revealed by Sri Gaurachandra.
dūre caitanya-caraṇāḥ kalir āvirabhūn mahān |
kṛṣṇa-premā kathaṁ prāpyo vinā vṛndāvane ratim ||4.29||
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has gone
and the powerful forces of Kali have manifested
How will anyone get Krishna prema now
without developing love for Vrindavan?
This last verse in particular indicates the transfer of Prabodhananda's attention from Mahaprabhu to Vrindavan Dham as indicated above. Jai Radhe!


I have made a video discussion of this verse on YouTube:


Comments

Prem Prakash said…
The painting of Mahaprabhu is magnificent. I think it also says a lot about Gadadhar Pran Das that he could bring such a vision to manifestation.

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