khaNDavAsI mukunda-dAsa, zrI-raghunandana
narahari-dAsa, ciraJjIva, sulocana |
ei saba mahAzAkhA——caitanya-kRpAdhAma
prema-phala-phula kare yAhAG tAhAG dAna ||CC 1.10.78-79||
The Sri Khandavasis were Mukunda, Raghunandan, Narahari, Ciranjiva and Sulochana. They formed a major branch of the tree of Sri Caitanya’s reservoir of mercy. They gave away the fruits and flowers of that prema anywhere and everywhere.
The photo is a painting on a courtyard wall at Narahari Gaura Kunja in Baradanga. It shows the main Sri Khandavasis as listed in Caitanya Caritamrta. As you look at the picture, on the far left is Mukunda Das/Sarakar. He was the son of Narayan Das and the eldest brother of Narahari. Mukunda’s son is Raghunandan Thakur. His second brothers name was Madhava Das. The Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika (175) states that Mukunda was the presiding deity of Braja, Vrinda Devi.
The next person in the photo (right side of Mukunda) is Raghunandan. One day Mahaprabhu gave Mukunda a half-chewed piece of His pan prasad and told him to give it to his wife to eat. The next day Raghunandan was born. In Caitanya Caritamtra (Madhya 15.114) Mahaprabhu asks Mukunda who is the father, you or your son Raghunandan. Mahaprabhu was pointing out that the one from whom Krishna bhakti is obtained is the father, or guru. This was spoken in relation to the famous story about Raghunandan serving bhoga to his father’s Gopinath which goes as follows:
One day Mukunda had to go out for some work. He prepared a plate of bhoga to be offered to Gopinath and asked that Raghunandan keep watch on the offering until he returned. Raghunandan kept looking at Gopinath waiting to see Him eat, but He did not eat. In anger Raghunandan said, “Gopinath! Will you not eat? Will you only eat when my father feeds you? Are you not mine?” He said this and burst into tears. Seeing this, Gopinath got teary-eyed to see him weep and said with a smile, “I am yours Raghu,” and began to eat. He ate ever particle and Raghunandan was unlimitedly happy. When Mukunda returned he asked Raghunandan to bring prasad, and he said, “Papa! Gopinath ate it all.” Mukunda was stupified. Out of curiosity the next day he pretended to go again for some work and asked Raghunandan to feed Gopinath again. Instead of going anywhere he hid behind the door. Raghunandan picked up a laddu from the plate and put it in the hand of Gopinath and said, “Eat Thakur, eat.” At that time Mukunda peeked around the door and to his surprise he saw that Gopinath was eating with great pleasure. Gopinath then noticed Mukunda watching from the door. Mukunda was a great devotee, but he did not have the simple heart and faith of his son, Raghu. Gopinath had eaten half the laddu and the remainder was still in his hand. Mukunda was overwhelmed and embraced his son and kissed him again and again as tears of joy flowed from his eyes. In Gopinath’s temple in Sri Khanda you can see that Gopinath is holding half a laddu in His hand.
When Raghunandan was eight years old his father took him to Nilachal for darshan of Mahaprabhu. As soon as Raghunandan made obeisance he sang the following verse which came into his heart spontaneously:
“O Golden Gaura! How sweet is your body, from which hundreds of streams of lustre flow. Even Cupid feels jealous of Your beauty, on account of which You easily steal the heart of anyone who sees You even once. O Gaura! How I wish that the image of You in Your dancing pose always remains in my mind.”
Mahaprabhu’s companions were all struck with wonder to hear such a sloka coming from the mouth of an eight year old boy. Mahaprabhu entrusted him with the service of their family deity Gopinath who he served lifelong with his heart and soul. On the account of his bhakti two flowers bloomed everyday on a Kadamba tree on the bank of a pond near his house for the service of Gopinath. (CC Madhya 15.128-129)
There was a great Vaisnava named Abhiram Goswami who heard of Mahaprabhu’s special affection for Raghunandan and came for his darshan. He made a full prostration before Raghunandan who picked him up and embraced him. They began kirtan and started to dance. While dancing one of the nupurs worn by Raghunandan flew off his foot and fell near the house of his disciple Krishna Das in Akaihat some two miles away. A kunda appeared on the spot where it landed. This Nupur Kunda of Akaihat can be see even today. I was unaware of this lila and didn’t go to Akaihat to see the kunda unfortunately…next time I go to Sri Khanda I will certainly make a point of visiting this kunda.
Raghunandan wanted to have darshan of Srinivas Acharya before leaving his body. At the same time a desire arose in the mind of Srinivas Acharya to come and see Raghunanadan. Happily they met and confidentially Raghunandan said, “All of Mahaprabhu’s companions have gone one by one. Having been deprived of their company I don’t want to live any longer. Let’s see if Mahaprabhu fulfils my desire.” After a couple of days Raghunandan arranged for Nam-yajna in which he performed kirtan. On the third day, while doing kirtan he was so overwhelmed in bhava that he began to invoke Mahaprabhu by loudly chanting His name, “Sri Krishna Caitanya.” Mahaprabhu heard his call and appeared before him internally and took him to His Dham.
The next person in the painting is Narahari and I have written something about him in Pt.1 of this series. On the right side of Mahaprabhu is Ciranjiva and the last person is Sulochana. Ciranjiva had two famous sons. The oldest son was the dearest associate of Narottam Das and was named Ramachandra Kaviraj and the other was the famous poet Govinda Das/Kaviraj. The Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika (197-297) states that Ciranjiva was the sakhi named Candrika in Braja-lila and Sulochana was the sakhi named, Chandrashekara.
All these Sri Khandavasis would come to Nilachal each year to have darshan of Mahaprabhu and to perform kirtan and dance before Jagannath Dev at Ratha Yatra.