The guardians of Radha Kunda and Mahaprabhu’s love for Shiva

27 05 2010

Radhakund is protected in all four directions by Mahadeva. The two most ancient mandirs are Kundesvara and Bankhandi. When coming to Radhakund it is best to first stop and offer your obeisances and prayers to Mahadeva and seek his permission the enter Radhakund. Kundesvara Mahadeva protects the south side of Radhakund. Bankhandi Mahadeva protects the east side. Ramesvara Mahadeva protects the west side and the Mahadeva shrine adjacent to the Radha Raman Mandir guards the north side. I have attached some photos I took of these four Mahadeva temples and told the story from Caitanya Mangal, by Locan Das Thakur about Mahaprabhu entering the village of Ekamraka, which is the place of Shiva and Parvati and is located in Bhubaneswar. Jai Bholenath!

Gaurahari walking like a ferocious lion eventually arrived at the village of Ekamraka. Shiva and Parvati stay in this village. Gaura’s heart went wild and He ran to see them. Soon Gaura Mahaprabhu found the temple. Great longings filled His heart. He became wild with ecstatic loving emotions. A beautiful flag fluttered on top of the mandir. Seeing the flag on the temple Gaurahari offered obeisances. He got up and continued walking until he was able to enter the temple of Shiva.

In the village of Ekamraka there are ten million Shiva-lingas. The main Shiva-linga is known as Visvesvara. It is said that the ground of that village looks like sandesa. The waters of all the holy rivers are present in the Maha-bindu sarovara which is there. Many different holy places are also present in that village.

Upon entering the temple, Gaurahari saw Shiva and Parvati. He bowed down before them, and was overcome with prema. Anyone who sees the linga of Shiva and Parvati finds that his troubles are soon broken into pieces. Seeing the linga of Lord Shiva, Gaurahari was overcome with ecstasy. His body trembled, and He was unable to remain peaceful. From His reddish eyes tears flowed nonstop, and the hairs of His body stood on end. Again and again He recited prayers.

Note: Sri Gaurahari then recites prayers that are said to have been composed by Himself to glorify Sri Shiva. The verses are known as Sri Shivastakam—eight verses along with a ninth verse known as the phala-shruti which states the benediction one receives by devotionally reciting these prayers.

Sri Shivastakam

namo namas te tri-daśeśvarāya
bhūtādi-nāthāyua mṛdāya nityam
cūḍāya gaurī-nayanotsavāya

I repeatedly offer my obesisances unto you, controller of the 30 primal devas…unto you, original father of created beings…unto you, whose character is gracious…unto you, whose head is crested by the sickle moon arisen from the waves of the Ganga and unto you, who are a festival for the eyes of the fair Goddess, Sri Gauri.

sa nṛtya-raṅgeṣta-vara-pradāya
kaivalya-nāthāya vṛṣa-dhwajāya

I offer my obeisances unto you, who are dressed in garments resembling molten gold, the moon, blue lotuses, coral, and dark rainclouds…unto you, who bestow the most desirable boons on your devotees by means of your delightful dancing…unto you, who are the master of the impersonalists, and unto you, whose flag bears the image of the bull.

tamo-bhide te jagataḥ śivāya
sahasra-sañjit-tvara-tejase ‘stu

I offer my obeisances unto you, who dispel darkness with your three eyes—the moon, the sun, and the fire…unto you, who causes auspiciousness for all the living entities of the universe and unto you, whose potency easily defeats that of thousands of moons and suns.

śārdūla-carmāṁśuka-divya tejase
sahasra-patropari saṁsthitāya
varāṅgadāmukta-bhuja dvayāya

I offer my obeisances unto you, whose form is brilliantly illuminated by the jewels of Ananta Deva, the king of snakes…unto you, who are clothed by a tiger skin and thus radiate divine effulgence…unto you, who sit upon a lotus of a thousand petals, and unto you, whose two arms are adorned by lustrous bangles.

premānam evādya harau videhi

I offer my obeisances unto you, who bring happiness to your servitors as you pour on them the liquid nectar of your reddish lotus-feet, which ring with charming ankle bells….Obeisances unto you, who are adorned with an abundance of gems—please endow me today with pure love for Hari!

śrī rāma govinda mukunda śaure
śri kṛṣṇa nārāyana vāsudeva
ity ādi-nāmāmrta-pāna-matta-

O Sri Rama! O Govinda! O Mukunda! O Sauri! O Sri Krishna! O Narayana! O Vasudeva! I offer my obesisances unto you, Sri Shiva, who are the monarch of intoxicated bee-like devotees, maddened by drinking the nectar of these and other Holy Names of the Lord. Obeisances unto you, who destroys all grief.

śrī-nāradādyaiḥ satataṁ sugopya-
jijñāsitāyāśu vara-pradaya
tebhyo harer bhakti-sukha-pradāya
śivāya sarva-gurave namo namaḥ

I  offer  my respectful obeisances again and again unto you, who are forever inquired of confidentially by Sri Narada and other sages…unto you, who also grant favors to them very quickly…unto you, who bestows the happiness of Hari bhakti…unto you, who create auspiciousness, and unto you, who are the guru of everyone.

tat-prāṇa-nāthāya rasa-pradāya
sadā samutkaṇṭha-govinda-līlā-
gāna-pravīṇāya namo ‘stu tubhyam

I offer my obeisances unto you, who are a festival of auspiciousness for the eyes of goddess Gauri…unto you, who are the monarch of her life-breath…unto you, who are capable of bestowing sacred rapture, and unto you, who are expert in forever singing songs of the lila of Govinda with great longing.

etat śivāsyāṣṭakam adbhutaṁ mahat
śṛṇvan hari-prema labheta śīghram
jñānaṁ ca vijñānam apūrva-vaibhavaṁ
yo bhāva-pūrnaḥ paramaṁ samādaram

A person, filled with loving sentiments, and who listens with rapt attention to this eight-fold prayer to Sri Shiva can quickly gain Sri Hari prema as well as transcendental knowledge, the complete realization of that knowledge and unprecedented powers.

Gaurahari recited these prayers to Shiva. His companions who surrounded Him also recited prayers to Shiva. Then one of the Lord Shiva’s pujaris offered Shiva’s prasada remnants of fragrances, sandal paste, and flower garlands. After offering His obeisances to Lord Shiva, Gaurahari left the temple.

Gaurahari went to the home of a devotee and rested. Later He ate, and slept happily. At dawn, He who is the master of the three worlds arose. Gaurahari then bathed, completed his morning duties, and after offering His obeisances to Shiva, He  departed. Mahaprabhu continued His journey accompanied by His companions. Now I will describe a conversation that took place between two of His associates, Murari Gupta and Damodar Pandit. Please listen carefully to the description of their conversation. Damodara Pandita asked Murari Gupta, why did Gaurahari who is the Supreme Lord accept the prasada of Lord Shiva? Because of a curse by Bhrgu Muni it is said that no one should accept remnants offered to Lord Shiva. Why then did Gaurahari accept them being fully aware of such a curse? Murari said, please hear me. Oh Damodara, how can I know what is in the heart and mind of Mahaprabhu? I can only speak as far as my intelligence allows. If your heart thinks I speak the truth you may accept my words.

A person who serves Lord Shiva but does not honor the prasadi remnants of Shiva does so only because he thinks that Shiva and Krishna are different. The brahmana Bhrgu Muni spoke his curse for people with an impure heart that don’t know Shiva’s true glories. However a person who is fully aware that Shiva and Krishna are non-different, and who serves Shiva should certainly honor the prasad of Lord Shiva. Such a person brings great pleasure both to Siva and to Krishna. Shiva is the king of the Vaisnavas. For this reason he should be worshiped. A person who eats Shiva’s prasad is released from the prison of the material world. In truth Gaura was a guest in Shiva’s house. With a joy filled heart Shiva offered Him all hospitality. Please know that Bhrgu Muni’s curse is meant for the non-Vaisnavas. A Vaisnava who honors Lord Shiva brings pleasure to Sri Krishna. Gaurahari descended to this world to instruct the jivas. Damodara Pandit then said, you have destroyed my foolish ideas. Hearing these words everyone’s heart became full of bliss.  In this way Locana dasa narrates Sri Caitanyadeva’s pastimes. This is coming from the madhya-lila of Locan Das Thakur’s book. Similar descriptions can be found in Murari Gupta’s book, Sri Caitanya Caritra Maha Kavya in the third prakrama of his writing.


Disappearance lila of Siddha Sri Ramhari Das Babaji

23 08 2009

Jai Nitai!

Today is the day of the disappearance lila of Siddha Sri Ramhari Das Babaji. He is one of the 12 great Mahatmas that are connected with our param-gurudeva Sripad Ramdas Babaji Maharaj. In any festival connected to Ramdas Babaji these 12 Mahatmas are served along with him.

Ramhari Das Babaji took birth in 1847 in Sripat Shantipur. Even as a child he exhibited strong spiritual tendencies and renunciation. As so often happens in these situations his parents thought to marry him to take his mind from his spiritual practices. But he just took complete shelter of Sri Nam and left home and went to Nabadwip hoping to get the kripa of the Vaisnavas there.

By good fortune he met Siddha Jagannath Das Babaji and took his shelter and guidance. Jagannath Das Babaji could understand that he was very serious and determined in his sadhana and arranged for him to receive diksha from Sri Radhikavilasa Thakura of Sri Khanda who was then staying in the kutir with Jagannath Baba.. Then Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj himself gave him veshashraya and named him Ramhari Das. Since his home and family were not far away his family members continued to give Ramhari trouble so he decided to go to Braja to do his bhajan. He stayed at Kesi Ghat, Radhakund, and Lala Babu’s kunja in Vamsivat for 12 years

He was a very loving and affection soul and treated all equally. He was especially fond of Gaura kirtan and instructed his sisyas to read Locana Das’s Dhamali as part of their daily sadhana. He was so attracted to Gaura Nam that if anyone said the name of Gaura he would embrace them with love. His favorite Vaisnavas to associate with were the sisyas of Jagannath Das Babaji and he also loved to do kirtan with our param-gurudev Sripad Ramdas Babaji which they did regularly.

It is so sweet to mention that when anyone would come to visit him from Nabadvip he would immediately welcome him with a garland of  fresh flowers and some cooling sandalwood paste.  He would then take that person on his lap and ask some philosophical questions about Gaurahari. If he didn’t get answers that pleased him he would ask the person to quickly go back to Nabadwip and have darshan of Nitai and Gaura and to get the association of the Gaura bhaktas there.

Rajarshi Banamali Bahadur, a close associate of Madhava Das Babaji came to stay at Lala Babu’s kutir. One day after honoring the prasad of Sri Radhavinod he became so overwhelmed in rapture that he began to dance and yell out, “Gaura, Gaura!” Sri Bijoy Krsna Gosvami’s disciple, Sri Brajabala Mahasaya, Sri Giridhari Das Babaji, Sri Madhava Das Babaji and many others came to join in the kirtana and they all danced in complete ecstacy!

On one day in 1907 at around noontime. he told his disciples, “Sri Gaurhari and His companions are performing kirtana and are dancing in ecstasy in Srivas Angan. I have to go there immediately.  Please bathe me and decorate me with tilak.”  After his sisyas carried out his orders, he sat in meditation with his eyes closed and entered nitya-lila.

Journey to Sri Khanda, Sri Pat of Narahari Sarkar–Baradanga Pt. 1

19 06 2009

Gora! Gora! Gora! Gora!

For a long time I had desired to go to the Sri Pat of Narahari Sarkar Thakur, Sri Khanda. By the grace of my Sri Gurudeva I was finally able to go this last March. I was accompanied by my dear gurubhai, Raghunath Da, the Head Mahant of all our ashrams, and some Vaisnavas from Samaj Bari. The place we first stopped is known as Baradanga which is just outside of town.

Narahari Sarkar was a very special and intimate companion of Mahaprabhu.  He took birth in 1480 in Sri Khanda, and was well educated, and in his youth he composed lovely Sanskrit verses on the lila of Radhey Shyam. When he finally met Mahaprabhu he was instantly sold out to him completely. Narahari and Gadadhar always lived with Mahaprabhu and served him with their heart and soul. Narahari is famous for his seva of waving a camara. It is said that Narahari was the only one with the adhikara to perform Gaura-kirtana in the presense of Gaura himself. Ordinarily, if someone praised Gaura in his presence, or chanted his name, he would cover his ears and cry out “Visnu! Visnu!” Narahari, however, enjoyed the special privilege of being able to do the kirtan of Gaurahari in a very special bhava and with ultra-sweet descriptions of his charming beauty without Gaura objecting. In Braja-lila Narahari was one of Radhika’s dearest sakhis named Madhumati Sakhi. His bhava towards Mahaprabhu is nagari bhava. Narahari is considered as the originator of Gaura nagari bhava. This Gaura-nagari-vada of Narahari spread far and wide through Bengal. In more recent times Siddha Caitanya Das Babaji and Siddha Vamsi Das Babaji were some of the famous upasakas of Gaura-nagari-bhava. Narahari left this world in 1540. All the prominent Vaisnavas of the time attended the disappearance festival of Narahari, including Virabhadra Prabhu, the son of Nitaichand. Srinivas Acharya was the chief organizer of the event.

Jagadbandhu Sundar Prabhu

7 06 2009

On a Vaisnava forum that I am a member of someone asked in a general way, who is Jagadbandhu Sundar Prabhu? I am reproducing my reply here.

Bandhusundar Prabhu

Bandhusundar Prabhu

The followers of Jagadbandhu Sundar Prabhu worship him as the combined form of Nitai and Gaurahari. Radha and Govinda combine as Gaurahari. Gaurahari then expands Himself as Nitaichand. Gaura and Nitai combine to form Bandhusundar Hari. His followers also consider his essence to be Hari Nam. He asks to be kept alive by constant recital of Hari Nam. Another way he is viewed is as the combination of Braja and Gaura lila.

brajalIlA gauralIlA mahAsanmilan haripuruSa jagadbandhu mahA uddhAraNa

He came to give Maha Uddharan, or universal emancipation. You can read some words about it from Mahanambrata Brahmachari:

¨To the query how can we realise that stage in the transcendental world of Love, Maha-uddharana is the reply. The word ´Maha´ means the Great, but I cannot translate the word ´Uddharana.´ You are familiar with terms like release, salvation, emancipation or ´Mukti´ as the Hindus call it, or ´Nirvana´ as the Buddhists call it. ´Uddharana´ is a term like them but it has a totally different connotation. All those terms – salvation and the like – are negative, while ´Uddharana´ is positive. ´Uddharana´ begins after salvation. We are said to have salvation when we free ourselves from bondage getting rid of limitations. ´Uddharana´ means something beyond that. ´Uddharana´ is positive realisation of ‘Hari’. This idea of positive and negative freedom can best be explained by showing the difference between work and play. Work is disciplined habit; play is free impulse. When we work in an office, which is like a big machine we do our parts mechanically. We are free of course, but negatively free. In work we are only partially personal, really impersonal. While we play and enjoy leisure in the association of friends we are fully personal.
Each member adapts himself to the thoughts and sentiments of the other. Each regards the other as a unique individual to whom he adjusts himself in a special way. The complete individuality of each is evolved. We are completely free – this is positive freedom the free play of the total personality. In an office or an impersonal group – for example, the Bell Telephone system, or a life insurance company, there is no such recognition of individuality, nor is individuality evoked. Each may respond to some act on the part of the other, just as one would respond to some physical object or mechanical signal. But in play, in the family circle or among friends, we spontaneously bring into operation the full personality of each. There exists an easy interplay of sentiments.
Salvation or Emancipation is to get a job in God’s office – to work in harmony with the world-order. But ´Uddharana´ is more than that. It is the enjoyment of God in His family Circle. Who constitute this family of God? Each unit of being – each unit of consciousness. Herein lies the significance of ´Maha.´ We need a circle, we need an association of friends. We depend upon playmates for the fullest realisation of one another’s individulity. So long as one friend is absent, the enjoyment is not complete. A single man remaining in bondage cannot be tolerated by a true lover of freedom. So long as there is one soul left outside, there will be no ´Maha-uddharana.´… Pray for all, take all home and make the family circle complete and truly enjoyable. Suns, moons and stars are workers in God’s office; we are players in God’s family.¨

If you wish to read the chapter about Jagadbandhu Sundar from The Saints of Bengal by OBL Kapoor, click here.

I am a follower of Dada Mosai (Radharaman Charan Das Dev) and we do not worship him in that way. He was the guru and dearmost associate of my param gurudeva, Sripad Ramdas Babaji in his youth. When Ramdas Babaji Maharaj left this world he called out the names of Bandhusundar and Radharaman Charan Dev. We consider Bandhusundar as our guru. Personally speaking, I do occasionally relish the bhav of worshipping him as Bandhu Hari, though as I said this is not the mood of our lineage.