A Holy Day: Part Two

By Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Goswami

Part two of Srila Sridhara Maharaja explaining the significance of Vasanta-pancami.

The Appearance of Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami

Then, the fourth personality is Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami. He was born nearly five hundred years ago in Krishnapur village, Hooghly District. He came in the Kayastha caste. His father, Hiranya Majumdar, was a very rich man. His father had one brother, Govardhana, but Raghunatha was the only child. His father and uncle were state landowners. At that time, they collected 20 lakhs (2,000,000) rupees in taxes. Twelve lakhs was to be paid to the king, and their net income was 8 lakhs.

Raghunatha heard about Mahaprabhu after his sannyasa. Hiranya and Govardhana had association with Advaita Acarya, and they used to make an annual contribution to all the superior Sanskrit scholars and their schools, in Bengal, of the time.

When Mahaprabhu went back to Sri Advaita Acarya’s house after his sannyasa, Raghunatha Dasa came and saw him, and became mad with love of Krishna. His heart was completely melted by Mahaprabhu’s beauty and charming personality, his devotion and his teachings of devotion for Krishna. Mahaprabhu himself was also aware of this. Raghunatha would not leave Mahaprabhu, but the Lord told him, “Go home. Don’t be over-enthusiastic; control yourself. Keep your divine love for Krishna within your heart, and don’t express it outwardly. Don’t advertise it. Very soon the time will come when Krishna will guide you. He will make a way for you. Don’t allow any external show but keep it within your heart.”

sthira hanya ghare yao, na hao batula
krame krame paya loka bhava-sindhu-kula

“Compose yourself and go home – don’t be a madman. One reaches the shore of the material ocean gradually.”

Then, he later came into the association of Nityananda Prabhu in Panihati. Nityananda Prabhu said to him, “Give a feast here for my followers. You are the son of a rich man, so manage to give a feast here for my followers.”

Raghunatha did so, and Nityananda Prabhu was very satisfied. He also blessed him, saying, “Very soon your bright day will come.” And he addressed his devotees, “See this young boy—he has immense wealth; in abundance he has everything required for a young man’s enjoyment, but he does not care for it. Krishna’s grace has come down into his heart, so he does not care for anything of this world; but he’s mad to leave his home of material grandeur and become a street beggar. He has become mad for Krishna. Just see this high ideal—devotion, attraction. Love of Krishna has made him mad. He is very, very fortunate. This royal dignity and prosperity cannot please him.”

Anyway, he returned home. But one day Hiranya and the others noticed that he no longer entered the inner section of the house. He began to stay in the outer section only. His father and other guardians thought that his condition had become very grave, so ten men were engaged to keep guard that he may not leave.

One day in the early morning before sunrise, the family guru, Yadunandana Acarya, suddenly entered the house. Finding Raghunatha in the outer section of the house, he met him and requested him, “I am going out for some important business, but there is no one to worship my deity. So please ask one brahmana disciple in my name to serve the deity for a day or two during my absence.” As Yadunandana Acarya left, Raghunatha went with him. The guards saw him going with the family guru, so they did not interfere. On the way, Raghunatha requested the guru, “You may go ahead with your business, and I shall request the gentleman to do the worship in your absence.”

The guru left. Raghunatha took advantage of the situation. Perhaps he requested that man to do the service, but he started off in the direction away from Puri. He knew that as soon as they realized at home that he wasn’t returning, they would send men to search for him on the way to Puri. So for the whole day he walked in the opposite direction. In the evening he stopped at a cowherdsman’s house, took a little milk from him and passed the night in the cowshed. Then in the morning he started for Puri.

When his guardians found that Raghunatha had not returned home, they heard from the guards that he had gone with the family guru. They went to the guru’s house, but Raghunatha was not to be found. Then they thought that he must have left for Puri, and they sent ten men to that side. They returned without finding him. In this way, Raghunatha cleverly managed to escape. For twelve days he walked to Puri, taking food here and there for only three of those days. On the other days no food was necessary. He was helped by divine love, surcharged.

He had already heard that Mahaprabhu was at the Gambhira, the Kasi Misra Bhavan. He went there, and in the courtyard fell flat in obeisance unto Mahaprabhu. Mukunda Datta announced to the Lord, “Raghunatha has come.” Mahaprabhu said, “Yes, look after him. He has come with great difficulty, walking and walking without food. Take care of him for a few days. Then, he will manage for himself.”

That was the direction of Mahaprabhu. For a few days Raghunatha took prasadam there. After that he began to beg at the gate of the Jagannatha Temple. The parents now thought it was impossible to bring him back, and they did not make any further attempt. But they sent some money with one brahmana and two servants, instructing them to hire a house and offer Raghunatha a place to stay, and see that their son may not die without food. They tried their best, but Raghunatha continued to subsist on alms. Over a period of two years, Raghunatha invited Mahaprabhu to take prasadam at that house, and the Lord did so for his satisfaction. After that, Raghunatha left that idea, thinking, “This is only to produce some name and fame for me. Mahaprabhu is not pleased with such prasadam.”

Svarupa Damodara was the dearmost attendant of Mahaprabhu, and a very good scholar as well. Raghunatha was also a scholar; we find that later he left the world beautiful poetry in Sanskrit. Mahaprabhu gave Raghunatha over to the charge of Svarupa Damodara, saying, “I request Svarupa Damodara to take your charge, and he will advise you what will be necessary for your devotional life.”

But suddenly one day, Raghunatha approached Mahaprabhu: “Why have you managed to take me out of my house, and what is my best benefit? If you please tell me in your own words, my heart will be satisfied.”

Mahaprabhu said, “I have given you over to the charge of Svarupa Damodara. He is more qualified than even myself. Still, if you want to hear something directly from me, then I say in brief:

gramya-katha na sunibe, gramya-varta na kahibe
bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe
amani manada hanya krsna-nama sada la’be
vraje radha-krsna seva manase karibe

“Don’t indulge in worldly talk, don’t hear worldly talk. Try your best to avoid mundane matters. Don’t eat delicious dishes, but take whatever ordinary food may come of its own accord; and don’t dress luxuriously. Always try to take the name of Krishna with the attitude of giving respect to others, without expecting respect from anyone. Be humble, but never aspire after respectful dealings from others. In this way, try to take the name of Krishna constantly. And within, try to serve Sri Sri Radha-Krishna in Vrindavana. Mentally, be in Vrindavana rendering service to Sri Sri Radha-Krishna lila.”

Mahaprabhu told Raghunatha that this was the essence of His advice to him. Then, He again took Raghunatha’s hand and offered it to the hand of Svarupa Damodara. He said, “I am giving you to the charge of Svarupa Damodara. He is the best spiritual teacher. He will take care of you.”

After Raghunatha’s arrival in Puri, Mahaprabhu stayed there continuously for sixteen years. After that, Mahaprabhu departed from the world. Raghunatha left Puri and went to Vrindavana, thinking, “I have what is to be had; now I only want to see Vrindavana dhama once, and then I shall leave this body by jumping from the highest peak of Govardhana.” With this idea he went to Vrindavana, but there he came into contact with Sanatana Goswami and Rupa Goswami; he found the beginning of a new life. He thought, “What is this? Mahaprabhu has not departed. He is living in them.”

Mahaprabhu delegated Rupa and Sanatana with the power to preserve the devotional current they had received from him, and to present it in a new light. They were asked to prove by drawing upon different scriptures that Mahaprabhu’s teachings are the very gist and purpose of all the scriptures. As is stated in Bhagavad-gita, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: “The attempt of every revealed scripture is to show me as the highest center. I am the Absolute.” So Mahaprabhu said, “Krishna is the Absolute. With the help of the different Scriptures and historical reference—by all means possible—try to prove that Krishna is svayam-bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that Vraja lila, Vrindavana lila, is the highest achievement.”

The two brothers had already begun that work when Raghunatha came into their association, and he found, “Oh! Mahaprabhu is here.” He abandoned the idea of leaving this world, and joined Rupa and Sanatana as their disciple. Mahaprabhu had already ordered Sanatana Goswami, “My followers are very poor and helpless. You’ll have to look after them whenever they come to Vrindavana. You’ll have to be the caretaker of all my disciples that come to Vrindavana.” So Raghunatha came to Sanatana Goswami, and Sanatana took care of him. Raghunatha was so self-forgetful that one day as he was sitting on the banks of Radha kunda and taking the name, a tiger came just beside him to drink water, but Raghunatha paid no attention. Suddenly, Sanatana Goswami came upon the scene. He was astonished. Up until then Raghunatha had lived under the shade of a tree, but Sanatana said, “Please construct a hut to live in. Don’t disregard my request; I entreat you to do this.” Then from that time he managed to construct a small dwelling and stay there. His abnegation, vairagya, was incomparable. Sanatana, Rupa, and all the Goswamis’ indifference to worldly enjoyment was extreme, but Raghunatha’s abnegation surpassed all.

When he was in Puri, sometimes he would beg prasadam at the gate of the Jagannatha Temple, and sometimes he would take prasadam at a chatram or free kitchen where rich men distribute prasadam for beggars. But then he thought, “I am taking what is due to others’ karma.”

The unsold Jagannatha prasadam is given to the cows of Jagannatha Puri. But when it becomes so stale that it emits a bad odor, even the cows cannot eat it. So now Raghunatha would wash that Prasadam with sufficient water, and adding a little salt he would eat that. Mahaprabhu heard about this, and one day when Raghunatha was taking that prasadam Mahaprabhu approached and suddenly took some and ate it. He said, “Oh! I have tasted many times the prasadam of Jagannatha, but such sweet prasadam I have never taken anywhere!”

So, what is the taste in prasadam? It is not mundane. Raghunatha had such intense faith in Prasadam that he lived on apparently rotten things with a little salt, and he was the son of a family of kingly opulence. So much indifference was in him. And in his last days in Vrindavana, he would pass each day taking only a pot of ghol , buttermilk. This is not possible for a man of flesh and blood. Great souls like the Goswamis are really personalities come down from the other world, and so it was possible for them to show the ideal of abnegation. It is not possible for ordinary humans of flesh and blood to observe such a degree of abnegation without dying. But the Goswamis created the standard and ideal by such vairagya. At the same time, Raghunatha studied Rupa Goswami’s presentation of the highest type of rasa or devotional Sentiment: madhura-rasa. By our association with this day and by our humble attempt to discuss all these matters, we may be benefited in the achievement of our goal. This is the day of the advent of such great personalities.

Departure of Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura

Today is also the day that Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura departed from this world. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura appeared about 180 years after the Advent of Sri Gaurangadeva. He composed a commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam and many other books to help the devotees coming later in the sampradaya . He was such a great acarya. In his own special way, he has dealt elaborately with many spiritual matters, giving the proper approach. He was the scriptural dispensation of Sri Rupa-Sanatana, etc. By his grace, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana composed the Gaudiya Vaishnava commentary on Vedanta-sutra, Sri Govinda-bhasya . From such great masters there is much to be read.

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti was born in a brahmana family in Devagram of Murshidabad district. He was a great scholar of Sanskrit. He came in the line of Sri Narottama Thakura and gave us extensive scriptural writings to help us very precisely and elaborately to know about the pastimes of Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krishna, Vrindavana, Navadvipa, and the guru-parampara . The Gurvastakam we chant daily was written by him, as well as many other important works. Srila Rupa Goswami wrote Sri-Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, or The Nectarean Ocean of Devotional Joy, and Srila Visvanatha wrote Sri-Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindu, or a drop of that ocean. And from Sri Rupa’s Sri-Ujjvala-nilamani, The Brilliant Jewel of the Supernatural World, or Krishna in madhura-rasa, he gave Ujjvala-nilamani-kirana, or a ray of that jewel. In this way, he has given volumes of books and poems. As Sri Rupa Goswami gave the astakaliya-lila of Krishna, or twenty-four hour service engagement with Sri Sri Radha-Govinda, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti has similarly given in Caitanya-lila twenty-four hour engagement in the service of Sriman Mahaprabhu. So he has done great service to the sampradaya and profusely bestowed his mercy upon us.


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