Published on May 18th, 2023 | by Harmonist staff0
Śrī Navadvīpāṣṭakam 6
ṣaḍbhir guṇair yatra janaḥ prapannaḥ
taṁ śrī-navadvīpam ahaṁ smarāmi
In meditation I recall Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, where the surrendered residents are endowed (janaḥ prapannaḥ) with knowledge, kindness, tolerance, and sacrifice along with the six virtues (ṣaḍ guṇair) and are thus praised by the devas, sages, and siddhas.
The residents of Navadvīpa are śaraṇāgatas—surrendered souls—and more. On top of their śaraṇāgati the crown jewel of prema is mounted. Thus the devas, sages, and siddhas glorify them their knowledge, their kindness, their tolerance, their sacrifice, and more.
Here the word makhaiḥ refers to Vedic sacrifice and the result accrued from such rituals. However, the yajña that bears the fruit of Navadvīpa’s prema is saṅkīrtana-yajña—yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ.1
This yajña is not part of the karma-kāṇḍa, in which one sacrifices one’s material possessions. Nor is it part of the self-sacrifce of the jñāna-kāṇḍa. Nor is it part of the upāsanā-kāṇḍa—sacrifice in the dutiful love of Viṣṇu bhakti. As the blessed Narottama Ṭhākura sings, golokera prema-dhana harināma-saṅkīrtana. It is from Goloka Vṛndāvana. There we find the ānanda-kāṇḍa, above and beyond or off the scriptural map, even as śastra properly understood is pointing only in its direction. And Śrī Locana dāsa Ṭhākura has proclaimed, from Navadvīpa this yajña has been given to the world at large by they who are the essence of all avatāras, the avatāri, and crown jewel of divinity Gaura-Nityānanda—saba avatāra sāra śiromani kevala ānanda-kāṇḍa.2 In this sacrifice, the distance between the worshiper and the object of worship is bridged as the two become one in love. In love there is no other. Two are one in love—nondualism beautified.
Devas like Brahmā praise those who possess the prema arising out of this yajña. In Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.14.35, Brahmā, his mind reeling at the staggering measure of the Vraja vāsīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa, reaches the four-headed conclusion that as a result of their selflessness, in which everything they do and everything they are connected with is for his pleasure alone, Kṛṣṇa remains eternally in their debt. Yes, he has given himself—which is everything—in return, but he also gave that to Pūtanā, who merely dressed like a Vraja vāsī. What then does he have left to give to his Vraja līlā bhaktas? Thus, Brahmā accurately depicts Kṛṣṇa as an eternal debtor. Such is the wealth of Vraja bhakti that is one with that of Navadvīpa-dhāma.
Then, because Vraja bhakti is difficult to understand, Brahmā offers the following comparison and explanation: “These Vraja vāsīs are not like sannyāsīs of the jñāna-mārga, who give everything up and at best come to you empty-handed, looking for peace. These cowherd people come to you with houses, families, friends, and so on, all of which are extensions of their own identity as your devotees and as such all of which are placed at your disposal. Love is a thief, a house is a prison, and infatuation is a ball and chain if they are not extensions of those who consider themselves to be yours. But these cowherd people go beyond that. Indeed, they think that you also belong to them, and they are correct.”3 Again, this holds true for these devotees who also participate in Gaura Kṛṣṇa’s rāga-mārga Navadvīpa līlā.
Siddhas and sages like Śukadeva have also praised—kṛta-puṇya-puñjāḥ—and passed out at the thought of such praṇaya.4 Thoughts concerning the intimate cowherd friends of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa, who follow Rāma into the Navadvīpa līlā, sent Śukadeva into the ecstatic, externally unconscious state of pralaya, from which he was revived by nāma-saṅkīrtana.
Here six virtues/qualities are also mentioned. Others take this to be a reference to the ṣaḍ aiśvarya of Bhagavān—wealth, strength, beauty, fame, knowledge, and renunciation. Not even all of Bhagavān’s avatāras possess all six of these. Hence to attribute them all to his Navadvīpa dhāma-vāsīs is startling! Then again, they are intimately intertwined with he who possesses all six to the fullest extent—svayaṁ Bhagavān.
That said, the six virtues/qualities may also refer to the six qualities of uttama-bhakti, two of which accrue in sādhana-bhakti, these and two more in bhāva-bhakti, and these four and two more in prema-bhakti: Uttama-bhakti (1) does away with the suffering arising from material attachment (kleśa-ghnī), (2) bestows auspiciousness (śubhādā), (3) belittles mukti (mokṣa-laghutā-kṛt), (4) is rare (sudurlabhā), (5) gives concentrated bliss (sāndrānanda-viśeṣātmā), and (6) controls Krsna (śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī).
But what to speak of six qualities, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī lists twenty-six qualities of Gaura bhaktas, the wellspring of which is their surrender—kṛṣṇa-eka-śaraṇa. Similar qualities found in non-devotees who lack this surrender are akin to the honesty among thieves. Such qualities are not transcendental but rather result from material piety or good karma. However, good or bad karma are but licensed exploitation and outright thievery, respectively, because they do not sufficiently acknowledge the actual proprietor.
- Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.5.32. [↩]
- Locana dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrī Śrī Gaura Nityānandera Dayā [↩]
- Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.14.36. See my bhāvānuvāda on this prayer in Circle of Friends chapter 29. [↩]
- Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.12.11 and 10.12.43. [↩]