śrutvā guṇān bhuvana-sundara śṛṇvatāḿ te
nirviśya karṇa-vivarair harato ‘ńga-tāpam
rūpaḿ dṛśāḿ dṛśimatām akhilārtha-lābhaḿ
tvayy acyutāviśati cittam apatrapaḿ me
Śrī Rukmini said [in her letter, as read by the brāhmaṇa]: O beauty of the worlds, having heard of Your qualities, which enter the ears of those who hear and remove their bodily distress, and having also heard of Your beauty, which fulfills all the visual desires of those who see, I have fixed my shameless mind upon You, O Kṛṣṇa.
Rukmini was a king’s daughter, courageous and bold, and furthermore she would rather die than lose Kṛṣṇa. Considering all this, she wrote a frank, explicit letter, begging Kṛṣṇa to come and take her away.
Being Chaste and Faithful to Kṛṣṇa
This beautiful chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam we are reading of Rukmini’s desperate appeal to Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa to come and to steal her away from the terrible fate worse than death- that she was facing in the form of her imminent marriage to Sisupal. Sisupal is envious of Kṛṣṇa. Although he was a great king, with great opulences and so many material, wonderful facilities to provide for Rukmini, she was not interested because she had already given her heart to Kṛṣṇa.
In a similar way, although Ravana was offering Sita-the consort of Sri Rama- the most heavenly opulences of an entire kingdom, which was made of gold, she preferred to live in the forest with Rama.
Maya, the material energy, is constantly, in this material existence, endeavouring to somehow infatuate the jivatma to leave Kṛṣṇa with so many promises of material prosperity and various forms of subtle and gross sense gratification. Sometimes mayadevi, she will offer so many opportunities for great wealth, for big name, power, position. If we only give our hearts to that and put aside our Kṛṣṇa consciousness – in fact, as a devotee progresses in spiritual life, the material energy offers greater and more difficult tests to pass… so many allurements. If we are willing to accept any of those for our own sense enjoyment and divert from the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then we are most unfortunate. Sisupal represents the material energy which is symptomised by envy of Kṛṣṇa.
But we find here that Rukmini – her mind and her heart was fixed on Kṛṣṇa alone. She didn’t care whether she lived in the forest with Kṛṣṇa or whether she lived in His beautiful palace in Dwarka. She was willing to accept any situation if she could remain only with Kṛṣṇa. She was chaste and faithful to Kṛṣṇa alone. And in the same way the jiva soul must be faithful and chaste to Kṛṣṇa alone.
Do not Flirt with the Material Energy
We should not flirt with anything of this material energy. But we are all in a similar predicament being in this material existence. Sometimes our own family members, the society around us, they are all trying to connect us to the Sisupal of material enjoyment and rebellion against Kṛṣṇa. And what to do in such a situation? Rukmini with complete desperate feelings, she was just crying out for Kṛṣṇa to save her. She sent this beautiful letter through a brahmana begging Kṛṣṇa to come, to save her. In the same way, through the spiritual master and the vaisnavas, we must approach Kṛṣṇa and we must express to Kṛṣṇa through their mercy, through their grace, how we will not be satisfied with anything other than His loving service. And it is with this same desperate longing for Kṛṣṇa and simultaneous utter fear of maya or Sisupal, we should actually be crying out Kṛṣṇa’s holy name.
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Crying out for Kṛṣṇa following in the Footsteps of Rukmini
If we cry out with such love and devotion, with such intense longing, with such distaste for maya, then our Gurudev, he will take that message to Kṛṣṇa, and He will be so pleased that He will personally come and steal our hearts away from this assembly of maya’s representatives of material existence. Rukmini was surrounded by all sorts of Sisupal’s friends and colleagues. There were entire armies of demoniac kings. She was like a lamb in a whole den of jackals. What was the hope of her escape? She was just a gentle and very young girl. Not even a lady, she was a young girl. All the odds were against her. But she had faith that Kṛṣṇa will save me. And yes, Kṛṣṇa came and all of the armies of maya’s representatives were trying to defeat her, but because her mind was fixed in praying to Kṛṣṇa to save her, Kṛṣṇa miraculously defeated all of maya’s representatives, all of Sisupal’s friends and stole her away.
Therefore He is known as Hari. For one who cries out for Kṛṣṇa’s mercy following in the footsteps of Rukmini, Kṛṣṇa will steal our lives, steal our hearts from this assembly of material desires and bring us to His transcendental abode. And the wedding of Kṛṣṇa and Rukmini which took place in Dwarka was so beautiful, so wonderful.
The Glories of Visnupriya Devi
Today is a very special day. There are many great personalities who are celebrated today. One is Sri Visnupriya devi. Visnupriya was the expansion of the Bhu energy of the SPOG. The supreme Lord has three energies within His pleasure potency- Sri, Bhu and Nila. It is described that Visnupriya devi, she was born of the great brahmana Sanatana Misra and she was an ocean of beauty and divine qualities. She was so chaste and faithful.
Every day, she would go to bathe in the river Ganges three times. She would very carefully worship mother Ganges, she would worship the brahmanas, she would worship Tulsi devi and Sacimata- the mother of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahraprabhu – each day when she would be at the river Ganges, Visnupriya devi with great respect and love would touch Sacimata’s feet and offer her much devoted respects because she was so illustrious and so elder. And Sacimata, whenever Visnupriya would daily offer her such respects, he heart would be filled with appreciation and affection for this young girl. She would give her the blessings that may Kṛṣṇa give you a very good and suitable husband.
After sometime, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was then Nimai Pandit, His consort Laxmidevi, being bitten by the serpent of separation during Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s extended trip to East Bengal, she left this world to return to the spiritual world. And this created so much pain in the heart of Sacidevi. So she was thinking that my Nimai, He should accept another wife, continue His household life. In this way He will be happy and also it will ensure that He remains home with me.
So one day upon seeing the beauty and divine qualities of Visnupriya on the bank of the Ganges, she began to think that who in all of the creation could be a more suitable bride for my beloved Nimai. So she sent a servant to one brahmana whose name was Kashinath Pandit, who was as a service helping to make matches between young boys and young girls for marriage. And Sacidevi told him that, ‘I think that Visnupriya, the daughter of Sanatana Misra, who is such a learned and exalted brahmana would be a suitable bride for my beloved Nimai.’
Sanatana Misra’s Acceptance of the Proposal
When Kashinath Misra heard this, he became very much ecstatic. He said, ‘I will go to Sanatana Misra’s house to bring this message.’ So Kashinath Pandit, when he arrived at Sanatana Misra’s house, the raj-pandit Sanatana was so happy that the learned brahmana had come to his house. He offered him a nice seat, he gave him scented water, he gave him all sorts of nice hospitality and then he asked, ‘how can I serve you?’ And Kashinath replied that, ‘I have come with a message from Sacidevi that she would like your daughter to marry her Nimai Pandit.’ And Kashinath Pandit said that, ‘As far as I am concerned, there is no one in all of the world with more exalted qualities than Nimai Pandit and there is no woman that can compare to Visnupriya.’ He said that, ‘I think that this marriage will be equal to Kṛṣṇa and Rukmini- Their marriage in Dwarka.’
So, when Sanatana Misra, the raj-pandit heard this, he became so happy. He went and discussed it with his wife and other family members and he said immediately, ‘This marriage should take place. You send this message back to Sacidevi that with all my heart, all of us – we agree to this proposal.’
Buddhimanta Khan’s Arrangement of the Marriage
When Kashinath returned, Sacimata was very happy. And when they informed Nimai, He was also very happy. So they were beginning the arrangements for the marriage. At that time, Buddhimanta Khan, who was a very very wealthy man, he came forward and he said that, ‘Nimai Pandit, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead; he is the Lord of all of creation. And I want to make all the arrangements and I want to meet all the costs of having the most wonderful marriage that this land has ever seen.’ At that time one devotee, I believe his name was Mukunda Sanjay, he was the person in whose home Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was teaching His classes. He said to Buddhimanta Khan that please allow me the pleasure of also helping to make arrangements for this marriage. And Buddhimanta Khan replied that I don’t want this to be another poor brahmana’s marriage. I will make this the most wonderful marriage with all opulences. So Buddhimanta Khan made so many so many so many wonderful arrangements that everyone in the entire Navadvipa came for this marriage. Caitanya Bhagavat explains in great detail that all the traditions were performed very perfectly. All the mantras were chanted by great devotee brahmanas and so many wonderful flower canopies, beautiful chariots and palanquins were arranged.
Purpose of a Marriage
In a marriage the very purpose of the ceremony is not only to make the sacred vows before the Supreme personality of Godhead, but to get the blessings of everyone present, especially the brahmanas and the vaisnavas. And how do we get their blessings? By pleasing them. Today in India, the marriages are such a gross perverted reflection that sometimes people drink alcohol, they eat meat and they have all sorts of mundane ways of entertainment- this is not marriage, this is simply maya. Things that get off to a perverted start will be perverted forever without the intervention of some great devotee to change their lives. But things that get off to a good start have all auspicious hope for a divine purpose throughout their lives.
Nimai Pandit’s Charity
So there was wonderful kirtan and there were wonderful brahmanas chanting auspicious slokas and Lord Caitanya was given by Buddhimanta Khan a practically unlimited amount of auspicious articles to give away in charity. There was incredibly nice mahaprasad served out to everyone. And there were lines of thousands of people coming to give their blessings to Nimai and Visnupriya as He was giving so many gifts. And the gifts were so nice that he was giving them to the brahmanas especially that many of them they wanted seconds and thirds. So after going in line and coming to get the gift, they would go again to the back of the line and come back and back and back and some people were thinking this is not fair. They are taking so many gifts. And Nimai said, ‘No, no. They should be satisfied let them have as much as they want, let them come as much as they want.’ In this way he completely satisfied everyone. And everyone was simply praising Nimai for His charitable nature and for His goodness of heart and Visnupriya for her beauty and her excellent characteristics. In this way the wedding took place.
Visnupriya Devi Exhibited the Qualities of a Perfect Wife
Of course, we know that in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there are two types of ecstacies: sambhog and vipralamba. One is meeting and one is separation. And although Visnupriya was the supreme-most of all wives – so caring, so loving, so willing to do anything for her beloved husband Lord Gaursundar that throughout the day she was working so hard just to serve him. She would take care of the deities. She would worship Tulsi on His behalf. Whenever guests would come, whether they were expected or unexpected, with her own hands – no servants – she would cook. Whether it was one guest or twenty guests – didn’t matter. Within a very short time she would arrange wonderful prasad for them. She would assist her husband. She would always greet them so cheerfully. She would clean everything. She would make new arrangements. In this way practically day and night she was personally working with great enthusiasm to assist her husband in His various services to the vaisnavas and the brahmanas. And she never complained. She never expected anything, except the opportunity to serve Him. Plus she would take care of Sacimata who was the Lord’s elder mother. She was so fully engaged constantly.
She never argued with the Lord. She never criticised, she never complained. No matter how hard she had to work, when Gaursundar returned home, she would greet Him like a fresh lotus flower with a beautiful smile and sweet words. In this way she was showing how every wife is supposed to be in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And of course Lord Gaursundar was also showing how every husband should be in Kṛṣṇa consciousness – never engaged in maya but always engaged in proper activities in devotional service.
No one can separate the love between the devotee and the Lord
Who could possibly leave a wife such as this? But when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw that there were so many atheistic mayavadis and other classes of puffed-up humanity that was not willing to accept the teachings of Kṛṣṇa and the sankirtan movement, He decided that the nice people they are accepting my teachings now. But the crooked people, they will not. And Lord Caitanya was patita-pavana avatar that means he incarnated to reclaim everybody and give them a chance to be Kṛṣṇa conscious. So he decided, ‘If I take sanyas, they will respect me and hear what I say. As long as I am a grihasta, they will think that I am ordinary like them.’ So with this in mind, he secretly explained to just a few intimate associates his plan to take sanyas. And the night he was to leave, makara sankranti – Visnupriya revealed her mind, her heart to Him – that I cannot live without you. Please do not go. I have heard that you will take sanyas. But certainly if you leave me, I should give up my life because you are my only wealth, my only treasure. My only purpose of living is to be with you and to serve to and to love you. And Visvambhar explained to His beloved that, ‘I will always be in your heart and you will always be in My heart. No one can separate the love between the devotee and the Lord. But on a material level, husbands, wives, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters and all these other relationships, they are all maya. They are all temporary. You cannot be attached to them. So I will always be with you and you will always be with Me on the spiritual platform.’
The Lord Leaves to take Sanyas
And Visnupriya, with her heart over laden with imminent separation, she told Lord Gaursundar that, ‘Whatever pleases you my Lord, you must do.’
aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam
adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah
Caitanya Mahaprabhu prayed in the mood of Sri Radhika that, ‘You can do anything you want my Lord, I am Your servant unconditionally. You can embrace me, or you can trample upon me by putting me in distress, or you may even make me broken-hearted by not being present before me by leaving me. You have any right to do anything. Whatever pleases You, that is all that matters.’ The gopis were willing to go to hell for eternity to please Kṛṣṇa and relive His headache. So Visnupriya expressed this mood of divine love and utter surrender. And that night she massaged her Lord’s feet and after that she fell asleep. Toward the latter part of the night, Lord Gaursundar left her to chase after the fallen souls of this age of kali. And she was never allowed to see Him again.
Visnupriya Devi’s Life after the Departure of the Lord
Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked one of His devotees named Vamsivadana to take care of Sacidevi and Visnupriya by being their servant after he left. On the request of Visnupriya, it was Vamsivadana who carved that beautiful murti of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that we all saw in Navadvipa. In fact, we learned that under one of His feet, the name Vamsivadana is carved in that deity. And Visnupriya devi worshipped that deity.
She would chant one round of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahamantra and she would count by putting one grain of rice aside. After chanting throughout the day, whatever grains of rice were there, she would cook that and she would offer it to her beloved murti of Gauranga and then she would take that prasad. And because of her intense separation, there were constantly tears flowing from her eyes, her lustre disappeared. She became very thin and emaciated. And when devotees saw her condition, due to her ecstatic love, their hearts would weep piteously.
Complete Chastity and Faithfulness under any Condition
In fact it is described that Srinivas Acarya and other great devotees, they went went to Navadvipa-Mayapur dham and upon seeing Visnupriya’s condition, it brought such ecstacy of spiritual sorrow to their hearts. Visnupriya had so many dreams of Lord Gaursundar. He would appear and reassure her that he was always with her. At one time she had a dream that Srinivas Acarya was coming and he was one of the great associates of Lord Gaursundar. And when she saw him actually, because he was such as great devotee of the Lord, it brought life to her. Also Jiva Goswami in the Navadvipa Mahatmya, we read how when he came to meet with Lord Nityanand prabhu, Nityanand prabhu started taking him all around Navadvipa. And one of the first places they went from Srivas Thakur’s house where they met was the Yogapitha where Jiva Goswami was given the blessings of mother Sacidevi and Visnupriya devi. In this way, she has given to the world her own example of complete chastity and faithfulness of loving service of the Lord under any condition.
Glories of Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur
It is also the disappearance day of Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur, one of the great, most illustrious of all of our vaisnavas acaryas. Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur was born in a village in Bengal of the name Devagram to very pious and exalted brahmana family. He had two brothers as well. And from his very earliest years, he just had absolutely no interest in material life or sense enjoyment – completely detached. So his parents were very worried about him. So at a very very early age as was the custom in India in those days, they arranged for his marriage.
Chasing After the Ways of the West
These days of course India has been plagued by western influences that our daughter – she should go through college, she should go through universities, she should become a big big doctor or business B.Com or whatever, because only then when she is in her twenties and she is highly educated, then we will get a nice husband for her. Such a condemned civilisation – chasing after the ways of the west. But in the vedic culture, if a girl wasn’t married by the time she was twelve, the parents were considered failures.
In fact Srila Prabhupada explains that when his sister was twelve years old and she wasn’t married, her mother decided to commit suicide because she failed as a mother. But somehow or other just in time they found a suitable husband. This is a culture based on Kṛṣṇa Consciousness – not based on material considerations.
Taking Initiation in the Disciplic Succession
So anyways, Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur was married when he was a small boy, which was perfectly normal in those days. But he just had no interest in his wife that he was living with. So when he was very young, he just decided, ‘Forget this.’ And he left his wife and his parents, and he went to Vrindavan. Before that he was living in a place called Saiyadabad. In Saiyadabad, he was studying Srimad Bhagavatam, Caitanya Caritamrta and other Vedic literatures. He would study under a very great devotee of Lord Caitanya whose name was Sri Kṛṣṇacharan Chakravarti. And his son was Sri Radharaman Chakravarti. So Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur took initiation or diksha from Sri Radharaman Chakravarti and he was also learning from his guru and father Sri Kṛṣṇacharan Chakravarti. The line of disciplic succession was that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally instructed Lokanath Goswami. The disciple of Lokanath Goswami was Narottam Das Thakur. One of the chief disciples of Narottam Das Thakur was Ganganarayan Chakravarti. Sri Kṛṣṇacharan Chakravarti was the disciple of Ganganarayan and Sri Radharaman, his son, was his disciple. So Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur was initiated and received shiksha also from the line of Lord Caitanya through Narottam Das Thakur. And he lived in Saiyadabad for many years studying under them.
Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur Left for Vrindavan
He left home and he left his wife and he went to Vrindavan. And then when he was in Vrindavan, his mother and father-in-law, they became very disturbed. ‘What will become of our daughter?’ So they actually sent messages to him that you haven’t even fulfilled your samskaras with your wife. They actually approached Sri Radharaman Chakravarti, Sri Kṛṣṇacharan Chakravarti that look at what your disciple has done. So they sent for Visvanatha that he should come. So it is explained that of course they wanted him to have children with his wife. So he came home and he spent one full night with his wife and the whole time, he was just speaking the nectarine message of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu into her ears. He considered that this is the best samskara. And then the next morning after he enlightened her, he left and went to Vrindavan.
Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur’s Writings
When he was in Vrindavan, he went to the bhajan kutir of Srila Kṛṣṇadas Kaviraj Goswami, where he wrote the Caitanya Caritamrta and he decided to reside in Srila Kṛṣṇadas Kaviraj Goswami’s bhajan kutir, on the banks of Radha Kund, which is at the foot of Govardhan hill. There was one disciple of Srila Kṛṣṇadas Kaviraj Goswami, whose name was Mukunda Das Goswami and Visvanatha carefully studied under him. And in this way he dedicated his life in the loving service of Sri Sri Radha and Kṛṣṇa, always immersed in meditation on the mercy of the six goswamis. And it was there on the banks of Sri Radha Kund that he composed some ofthe most important literatures in vaisnavas history. He made commentaries on Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam. He wrote so many commentaries on the various writings of the six goswamis he wrote wonderful beautiful songs one of which to this very day all gaudiya vaisnavas sing every morning to greet the deities – the Gurvastakam prayers:
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
The Meaning of ‘Visvanatha Charavarti’
Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur explains in one of his own writings explains in one of his own writings the meaning of the name he was given – Visvanatha Charavarti. Visvanatha means one who is always anxious to deliver to all fallen jivas the message of Visvanatha – the Supreme Personality of Godhead and therefore he is Chakravarti. Chakra means circle. It means he is always living within the association of devotees and by his preaching he is always expanding that circle. This is the meaning of the name Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur. When Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur was living he was considered to be the guardian and protector of the pure siddhanta of gaudiya vaisnavism.
And he had a disciple of the name Baladeva Vidyabhushana and under Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur’s instruction – because at that time he was very old – Baladeva Vidyabhushana wrote the Govinda Bhashya – the gaudiya vaisnavas commentary on the Vedanta sutra. In this way established the very very supreme position of gaudiya vaisnavas among all vaisnavas sampradayas.
Disappearance of Srila Visvanatha Charavarti Thakur
So it was on the banks of Sri Radha Kund on this very auspicious day of Vasant Panchami that Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur left this world to enter into the eternal lila of Sri Sri Radha and Kṛṣṇa.
Appearance of Raghunandana Thakur
Today is also the appearance day of Raghunandana Thakur. Raghunandana Thakur was a resident of Srikhand. Srikhand is just a few miles away from Katwa, where Caitanya Mahaprabhu took Sanyas from Keshav Bharati maharaj. In that village, many great devotees were living. There were three brothers – Mukunda Das, Madhav Das and Narahari Sarkar.
The Glories of Mukunda Das Thakur
I believe the eldest was Mukunda Das. Mukunda Das was the personal physician for the king- the muslim ruler at the time and one time the king was feeling a little ill and he called for his physician. And Mukunda Das came and as he was making his diagnosis to the king, who was sitting on a raised platform, Mukunda das Thakur – he was sitting also on a raised platform and he was questioning the king. ‘What about this? What about this?’ At that time one of the servants of the king came with a peacock fan and began to fan the king. And when Mukunda Das saw these peacock feathers, it reminded him of Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa and he just began to swoon in ecstasy. And he fell unconscious and he fell off the platform unto the ground, very startling to everyone. And the king was very much concerned. Everyone tried to bring him back to consciousness. And when he came back to consciousness, the king asked him, ‘What is it that caused this? Are you suffering some sort of difficulty?’ He did not want to admit that it was his ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa that forced him to faint because devotees are humble. They never like to show people their advanced condition of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So he told the king that, ‘I suffer epilepsy and sometimes I faint like this.’ But the king was very wise and intelligent. He could understand that actually this person is a very very exalted, advanced devotee of the Lord. And the king offered him very high and deep respects. And after some time, Mukunda Das asked the king for leave of service for he could dedicate more of his energy to assisting Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s lila.
Making an Offering to Gopinath
Mukunda had a son and his name was Raghunandana Thakur. Mukunda das, when he was living at home, he was so much devoted. He had one murti of the name Gopinath. And he would worship Gopinath with great care and attention, each and every day. And one day, Mukunda Das was called to go out of town to do some work. So he told Raghunandana, who was then just a boy. He said, ‘You please, you take care of Gopinathji when I am away. And what you can do is make sure he doesn’t go hungry. Your mother will prepare some nice bhoga and you bring that bhoga and you bring it on the altar and with these prayers, you ask the Lord to eat the bhoga.’ Then Mukunda Das left. So Raghunandanaji, he took the offering and he brought it on the altar and he said, ‘Gopinath please eat this bhoga. Please eat it all because my father said you will be hungry if I do not give this to you to eat.’
Raghunandana Thakur Pleading to the Lord
So he offered it very nicely. And the Lord as usual with His glance, He accepted all the bhakti. But Raghunandana didn’t understand this glance technique because he was never told the intricacies of how to make offerings. So he was begging, ‘Gopinath please you must eat, you’ll be hungry. My father will be very disappointed if you don’t eat this food.’ So Gopinath, He ate with His glance. But Raghunandana could not recognize this. So again and again he was pleading. For a long time he was on the altar. He was saying, ‘I cannot leave, I cannot do anything else, until you accept this offering. And then he began to cry, he began to cry with such sincere feeling and devotion that, ‘My Lord please! Please accept this.’
And he cried so much that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Gopinath right in front of his eyes ate everything on the plate. And little Raghunandana considered that this is what must always happen. This is very nice. So he took the empty plate off.
When his mother saw the empty plate she said, ‘Where is all the food?’
He said, ‘Gopinath ate it.’ When the father came home, Mukunda Das Thakur he was told that there is nothing on the plate and they were thinking that maybe Raghunandana ate it. He said, ‘where is all the bhoga?’ He said, ‘No, no, I offered it but He wouldn’t eat for a long time. And finally I cried and I cried and I cried and then He came down and ate everything.’
Raghunandana Thakur’s Pure, Unalloyed Love
So Mukunda Das was thinking, ‘What! I don’t think my child would lie.’ He said, ‘You make another offering’, and he gave him a laddu. He said, ‘You offer this laddu.’ And Raghunandana went on the altar and he offered the laddu. And Mukunda Das was outside looking through the window, secretly hiding. Hari bol!
And he saw little Raghunandana begging, ‘Please accept this laddu, my father wants you to have this laddu.’ And again he began to cry, and Gopinath came down and he ate half the laddu. And Mukunda das saw this. He was very happy. He could understand the pure unalloyed love that his son had for Lord Kṛṣṇa.
It is said that there is a temple near Srikhand where the other half of that laddu still exists. Mukunda Das realized the reason why He only ate half is because just shortly before He ate the whole offering. So He wasn’t so hungry to eat the whole laddu. So just to show His love for His devotee, He ate half.
Who is the Real Father?
It describes in Caitanya Caritamrta how one day Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was associating with the residents of Srikhanda and he asked Mukunda Das, ‘Are you the father of Raghunandana or are you his son?’ And Mukunda Das said that, ‘Raghunandana is my father and I am his son, because he is the one who has taught me the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and brought me to your lotus feet.’ And Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very happy to hear this. That the real father of our life is the one who brings us to the feet of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the one who reveals to us Kṛṣṇa bhakti.
Narahari Sarkar was one of the very very great and intimate associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And Raghunandana was trained in the principles of bhakti under his uncle, Narahari. And it is described also that one day in a village just outside of Srikhanda, Raghunandana engaged in a wonderful, beautiful kirtan with one other devotee. And one of his ankle bracelets broke and it fell into a lake. And that lake to this day is still called Nupur Sarovar- the place where the ankle bells of Raghunandana broke during the beautiful kirtan.
Disappearance Pastime of Raghunandana Thakur
Every year during the rath yatra in Jagannath Puri, Raghunandana Thakur would come to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and he would sing beautiful kirtans and dance in the wonderful kirtans of the Lord. And he became one of the very intimate eternal associates of the Lord and it is described also in the Bhakti Ratnakar by Narahari Chakravarti that when Raghunandana Thakur was very old, at that time Srinivas Acarya was living in Jajigram. You remember we all went to Jajigram? He was living in that place and Raghunandana called for him to come to Srikhanda.
So when Srinivas came, Raghunandana Thakur – he went before the deity of Gopinath and Raghunandana Thakur had a son named Kanhai and he said to the deity, ‘Please accept this son of mine as Your property and as Your eternal servant and take care of him. And I am giving my body and my life to You.’ And then he went before the deities of Narahari Sarkar Thakur, his guru, Gaur and Madan Gopal. And he also dedicated his son to Madan Gopal and dedicated his own life. And then he told Srinivas Acarya, ‘Please begin kirtan.’ And there was three days of kirtan and just during that kirtan, Raghunandana left his body. When Kanhai and Srinivas and other devotees saw the disappearance of Raghunandana Thakur, they began to weep. They began to cry but then as it was the custom, his son arranged a nice festival in the honour of the disappearance of his father and they had beautiful kirtan and during the kirtan, before their own eyes Raghunandana Thakur appeared before them dancing in transcendental ecstasy. Nitai Gaur premanadi Hari Hari bol!!!
Calling of the Lord
It is also the appearance day of Pundarika Vidyanidhi. The class is becoming very late. And it is also the appearance day of Raghunath Das Goswami. Pundarika Vidyanidhi, in short, he was the incarnation of Vrsabhanu Maharaj, the father of Srimati Radharani. And for this reason Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would call Pundarika Vidyanidhi His father. And there’s beautiful stories of how Caitanya Mahaprabhu one day was longing, crying out, ‘Pundarika, Pundarika, Pundarika Vidyanidhi! My father!’ And the devotees could not understand how he was feeling such separation from someone they did not know. And then Pundarika Vidyanidhi came from East Bengal, Jatigram and he came to Navadvipa dham because he could feel the calling of his Lord within his heart. He was a very rich man. He was living in great opulence.
The Meeting of Pundarika Vidyanidhi and Gadadhar Pandit
Mukunda Dutta, the brother of Vasudeva Dutta, they were from the same village and he understood what an exalted devotee Pundarika Vidyanidhi was.
At that time Mukunda Dutta took his dear most friend Gadadhar Pandit and told him there is a very great vaisnavas saint who has come to Navadvipa. I will take you to him. So Gadadhar Pandit went and they came into the palatial residence of Pundarika Vidyanidhi. And Mukunda Dutta introduced Sri Gadadhar Pandit and Pundarika Vidyanidhi was very kind upon him and welcomed him.
Gadadhar Pandit’s Confusion
But Gadadhar Pandit was very confused. What type of vaisnavas is this? He is dressed with fine silks and he has people with fine chamaras fanning him. And he has all sorts of beautiful perfumes in his hair and he is chewing on paan, and he all sorts of gold and silver and brass paraphernalia around him. And sometimes he is looking in the mirror to see the beauty of his own face. He was thinking, ‘Vaisanavas are supposed to be very simple. This is… I don’t understand why Mukunda Dutta has brought me to this man.’ In this way he was finding fault.
Mukunda Dutta’s Glorification of the Lord
Mukunda Dutta, who was a very deeply realised and intimate associate of the Lord, could understand the doubt in Gadadhar Pandit’s mind. So he began to sing a beautiful song. Mukunda Dutta, his singing was so sweet, that no one – no devotee – could resist from melting upon hearing his beautiful kirtans and bhajans. He began to sing a beautiful song, ‘How wonderful Kṛṣṇa was. How Putana came, she was a rakshashi, who had already killed so many thousands of innocent babies, she came with poison on her breast with only one purpose – to kill Kṛṣṇa. She was sent by Kamsa. And yet Kṛṣṇa upon sucking the milk from her breast, He elevated her to the most exalted position of being one of the mothers of the Lord in the spiritual world of Goloka Vrindavan. Who, who is more merciful and loving then Kṛṣṇa? And he was just singing this beautiful song that you will not find anywhere, anyone so merciful and loving as Kṛṣṇa who has made Putana His own mother.’
Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s Ecstasy
When Pundarika Vidyanidhi heard this, he just began to cry out, ‘Who is more merciful? Who is more loving than Kṛṣṇa? Where can we find anyone like Kṛṣṇa?’ And he went into ecstatic trance. So much ecstasy that tears like river began to flow from his eyes. Within second all of his body was drenched with tears. The beautiful silken bed he was laying on became drenched with tears. Soon his body began to vibrate like an earthquake and he fell and he began to move around in such a way, kicking his arms and kicking his legs and rolling here and there, crying out, ‘Who is more merciful then Kṛṣṇa?’ And as he was doing like this soon his beautiful combed perfumed hair became scattered everywhere and all of his clothes, he just ripped them all to pieces. And all the beautiful silk canopies and drapes, they were all ripped to pieces. And everything in the room that could possibly be broken was broken to pieces. And everything else was just scattered everywhere. And ten men came to try to hold him down but they could not contain his ecstatic love as he was just rolling and moving and crying and weeping and palpitating and vibrating in ecstasy. And then finally his ecstasy came to such heights that it couldn’t possibly go any higher and he fell unconscious. I believe it was for about six hours he just laid completely unconscious with no sign of life.
Gadadhar Pandit’s Realisation of the Exalted Position of Pundarika Vidyanidhi
At that time, Gadadhar Pandit who was actually a great scholar of bhakti, he could understand that this was not fake show. This was genuine actual ecstatic symptoms of the highest level. So he was thinking I have committed an offense to this great soul by thinking him an ordinary human being, by thinking him a worldy sense-enjoyer. So he turned to Mukunda Dutta and said, ‘I am so much grateful to you, I am so much grateful that by your kindness. You have given me an awareness and an understanding of the greatness of this divine personality. But I have offended him by thinking him to be a materialistic person. So I think to atone for this offense I should accept initiation from him.’
Initiation of Gadadhar Pandit
When Pundarika Vidyanidhi came back to consciousness, Mukunda Dutta explained that, ‘This Gadadhar Pandit from his very youth, from his earliest ages, he has been completely detached from material enjoyment and he is completely attached to the loving service of the Lord. He is an intimate associate of Sri Gaursundar from the earliest ages and he wants to take initiation from you.’ And Pundarika Vidyanidhi with great humility, he said, ‘What type of piety must I have performed and what type of supreme mercy the Lord is bestowing upon me by giving me a disciple like Gadadhar Pandit.’ And they set a particular date when the initiation would take place. And when Gadadhar Pandit approached Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and told him he wanted to take initiation, Mahaprabhu was very happy and gave His complete blessings.
The Meeting of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Pundarika Vidyanidhi
That night Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He was in His room and they were having kirtan and Pundarika Vidyanidhi was outside. And when he saw Mahaprabhu, they were both in such ecstatic love. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was in the mood of Sri Radharani, was reunited with her beloved father and devotee. Caitanya Bhagavata describes the beautiful story of the meeting of Mahaprabhu and Pundarika Vidyanidhi. And from that time Pundarika Vidyanidhi remained in Navadvipa as one of the most intimate loving servants of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In fact Caitanya Mahaprabhu would sometimes say that I have appeared in this world only to reciprocate love with Pundarika Vidyanidhi.
The Appearance of Raghunath Das Goswami
It is also the appearance day of Raghunath Das Goswami. As you know Raghunath Das Goswami was the son of Govardhan Majumdar who was the younger brother of Hiranya, who were big big zamindars, land-owners. They lived in a place called Saptagram. And Govardhan and Hiranya, they were very charitable to the vaisnavas because they were actually very sincere great devotees of the Lord themselves. And they always offered all respect to Sri Advaita Acarya. They funded most of the activities of the vaisnavas. Their family priest was Balaram Acarya and family guru was Yadunandana Acarya.
Association of Haridas Thakur
Balaram Acarya and Yadunandana Acarya were very intimate associates of Sri Haridas Thakur. So when Raghunath was very young, they would bring him for the darshan of Haridas Thakur who was at that time living near Phulia. And when Raghunath Das saw his detachment and saw his attachment to the chanting of the holy names, Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, he became maddened with ecstatic love and the desire to just give up everything.
Raghunath Das Goswami’s Material Opulences
He was also married at a very young age to a beautiful bride who had the qualities of a heavenly angel in all respects and he was given the wealth and prestige of his family and his fathers who were literally what is equal to multi-billionaires by today’s standards. Srila Prabhupada explained that when he was young, one paisa, (this is when Srila Prabhupada was young) would feed a whole family a whole day. So you could understand and they were getting so many lakhs and lakhs of rupees equal to billions of dollars. That was all meant for him. He was the only son. He was the only descendant of the whole family.
Don’t be a Markat-Vairagi
Anyways, when Caitanya Mahaprabhu was returning from his first attempted trip to Vrindavan, where in Ramkeli, Sanatana Goswami said you should not go to Vrindavan with so many hundreds and thousands of people, you should go with yourself and one or two others. So Mahaprabhu returned from Ramkeli and was on His way back to Jagannath Puri. He stopped in Shantipur. There He met again His mother Sacidevi and all the devotees came and it was there that Raghunath Das Goswami first met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He met Him twice in Shantipur and he was trying through so many means to run away from home, to leave everything, to go to Jagannath Puri to meet the Lord. But the Lord told him, ‘Don’t be a markat-vairagi. Don’t practice the renunciation of monkeys. Monkeys live in trees naked and eat only roots but they have so many female monkeys all around them having sex.’ He said, ‘You should go home and you should pretend to be completely attached to material life but in your heart you should be completely detached and always thinking of Kṛṣṇa like a wife who is attached to another man she does her duties very carefully so the husband does not suspect it. But in her heart she is always thinking of that other man.’ Mahaprabhu said, ‘You be like this. And in the near future, when Kṛṣṇa is merciful to you, He will show you the way to escape from family life and take to the life of renunciation in Jagannath Puri.’
Pretending to be Expert in Worldly Affairs
So Raghunath pretended to be a nice husband, son and businessman. And there is wonderful story of how the father and uncle, they were not giving the full taxes to the Muslim governor. So they came to arrest, but they had fled and Raghunath was home. So they actually put Raghunath in prison and he was being (by this senior person who was competitor of father) he was being persecuted and threatened and mistreated. But every time they wanted to come and beat him, when they saw the beautiful face of Raghunath, they just couldn’t do it. He was too gentle, too beautiful. So Raghunath was such an expert diplomat for Kṛṣṇa that he began to say, ‘You are like my uncle, you are such dear friends with my father. And you are like a living saint, you are so pure and so religious and so gentle and so wonderful. And amongst brothers, there is always fighting but you should not take it so seriously.’ And when he heard this, tears began to flow from his eyes. He said, ‘Yes Raghunath!’, with such love, ‘I love you like my own son. So you go home and you tell your father and uncle that they should give me something.’ Raghunath said, ‘Yes, yes.’ In this way, he was pretending to be very very expert in his worldly affairs.
He had so many guards and brahmanas because previous to this whenever he would run away from home which was practically a daily affair, they had to forcibly drag him back. But now because he was acting like he was happy in grihastha life, the guards were not so strict.
Nityanand Prabhu’s Mercy
One day, under the security of these guards he went to visit Nityanand prabhu in Panihatti and Nityanand prabhu requested him to make a wonderful feast of cida and dahi, chipped rice and yogurt for all the devotees and he made wonderful feast and Nityanand prabhu invited Gauranga Mahaprabhu and They both took prasad together and they both danced in ecstasy and fed all the other devotees. And because Raghunath pleased the devotees so much, he pleased Gaur Nitai so much that Nityanand prabhu not only gave him personally his own remnants and Lord Caitanya’s remnants but he placed his feet on Raghunath’s head and told him that, ‘I grant you the benediction that very soon you will be relived from the deep dark well of material life and you will enter into the renounced order in Jagannath Puri and there Lord Caitanya will put you under the direct care of Svarupa Damodar Goswami, his personal secretary. And all your desires will be fulfilled.’
Raghunath understood that without the mercy of Nityanand prabhu, no one can get the mercy of Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
Raghunath Das Goswami’s Escape to Jagannath Puri
So soon after that, one night Yadunandana Acarya came and told Raghunath that, ‘The pujari has left his duties. You are expert at convincing anybody of anything. So please convince him to resume his duties.’ So it was the middle of the night, toward the end of the night actually. And Raghunath told Yadunandana Acarya, ‘I will take care of this business, you go home.’ And then he went into the forest and he began to go to Jagannath Puri. I believe it took him about twelve days to reach Jagannath Puri and he didn’t go the main route, he went indirectly, very long way because he knew his father would be sending guards to search for him. And he only ate just a few days a little milk or some fried chickpeas – that’s all he had the whole trip. He was fasting but he didn’t mind because he was completely absorbed in the meditation of seeing his beloved Lord Sri Gaursundar.
The next morning they were looking for Raghunath Das. They asked Yadunandana Acarya, ‘What happened?’, and when he told them the story they realized that he’s gone. So they sent their servants and their guards and the police everywhere after. At that time, Sivananda Sen was taking a group of vaisnavas from Bengal for the chaturmasya to Puri and they found him. ‘Have you seen our Raghunath?’ He said, ‘I have not seen Raghunath.’ So his parents had great broken hearts.
Raghunath Das Goswami’s Arrival in Jagannath Puri
When Raghunath das arrived at Jagannath Puri, he went to Gambhira where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was residing and he fell at His feet and Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu with great love he picked him up and embraced him. He said, ‘It is only by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa that one can be delivered from this deep dark well of material life. You have attained the mercy of Kṛṣṇa.’ And Raghunath das replied, ‘My Lord! I do not know what is the mercy of Kṛṣṇa. I only know that it is Your causeless mercy that is saving my life.’ And then Mahaprabhu gave him under the care of Svarupa Damodar. And for many many years Raghunath Das was intimately serving both Svarupa Damodar Goswami and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And by his own eyewitness experience of Lord Caitanya’s final pastimes in Jagannath Puri and by hearing and reading the diary of Svarupa Damodar, Raghunath Das Goswami became the supreme most authority of the antya lila of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the final pastimes.
Mahaprabhu’s Love for Raghunath Das Goswami
Mahaprabhu was so loving towards Raghunath that His most precious possession was a Govardhan shila, that was given to Him from Govardhan hill that He would wear around His neck, that was always absorbed with tears from His eyes, Mahaprabhu gave that shila to Raghunath Das. And told him, ‘By giving you this shila I am giving you my heart – Kṛṣṇa.’ And He taught Raghunath how to worship Govardhan – Giriraj.
Meeting with Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis
After Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Svarupa Damodar Goswami left the world, Raghunath Das Goswami went to Vrindavan and decided to take his life by jumping from Govardhan hill. But first he wanted to get the blessings of Rupa and Sanatana. And Rupa and Sanatana told him, ‘No! You cannot take your life. You may be suffering terrible separation from Mahaprabhu and Svarupa Damodar but you must know what is your service. You are the only one who knows the antya lila of the Lord. You must narrate this each and every day for the pleasure of all the vaisnavas.’ So Raghunath Das Goswami was given by Rupa and Sanatana a beautiful place to stay on the banks of Sri Radha Kund. There every day he was absorbed in his sadhana.
Raghunath Das Goswami’s Sadhana and Renunciation
He would chant at least two lakhs of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa – mahamantra – everyday. So many thousands of times he would offer obeisances to the deity. Thousands of times a day, he would offer obeisances to the vaisnavas. He was so much absorbed in devotional service that he gave up all sleeping. He would only eat, sleep a few hours in a week. And as far as eating, he came to such a level of absorption in Kṛṣṇa that every few days he would take just a few drops of buttermilk. And while he was taking it, he would weep in guilt feeling, ‘I am so fallen. See how I am wasting my time absorbed in sense gratification.’ This was the standard of Raghunath Das’s renunciation. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu was so pleased to see this renunciation. It is explained that renunciation is the sustenance of the devotees of Mahaprabhu. And Gaurhari is very pleased to see such renunciation. Raghunath Das Goswami lived in this way on the banks of Sri Radha Kund.
The Writing of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta
He wrote many beautiful vaisnavas literatures and he is to be considered the prayojana acarya of the gaudiya vaisnavas, the acarya who by his life and teachings exhibited the highest level of self-realisation, which is the mood of the gopis – unmotivated, uninterrupted, sweet love for Radha and Kṛṣṇa and loving service. So Raghunath Das Goswami while he was narrating the pastimes of Lord Caitanya, Kṛṣṇadas Kaviraj Goswami, would come and hear every day. And on the basis of those teachings, Kṛṣṇadas Kaviraj Goswami wrote Sri Caitanya Caritamrta- which all gaudiya vaisnava acaryas declare to be the supreme and highest theistic literature in the history of creation. Caitanya Caritamrta is to be considered the most perfect, pure of all literatures. It is the post-graduate study of Srimad Bhagavatam. And therefore at the end of each chapter, Kaviraj Goswami prays:
sri-rupa-raghunatha-pade yara asa
caitanya-caritamrta kahe Kṛṣṇadasa
That bowing at the lotus feet of my two gurus, Rupa and Raghunath Das Goswami, I write this Caitanya Caritamrta.
It is also the day of Vasant Panchmi – the beginning day of the spring season in which Lord Kṛṣṇa performs His rasa-lila with Sri Radharani and the gopis at Govardhan hill. And we will discuss that tonight. We will have a wonderful festival tonight for Vasant Panchmi where the deities will be put in a beautiful altar of flowers and the devotees will be singing beautiful songs and offering nice bhoga for their pleasure. So please come tonight at 6:30 to celebrate Sri Sri Radha Gopinath’s Vasant Panchmi.
Thank you very much!