Today is the auspicious disappearance day of three great acharyas in the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradaya: Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, and Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami. We shall read about Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami from Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja’s Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Thirteen: “Pastimes with Jagadananda Pandita and Raghunatha Bhatta.”
etha tapana-misra-putra raghunatha-bhattacarya
prabhure dekhite calila chadi’ sarva karya
During this time, Raghunatha Bhattacarya, the son of Tapana Misra, gave up all his duties and left home, intending to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
kasi haite calila tenho gauda-patha diya
sange sevaka cale tanra jhali vahiya
Accompanied by a servant carrying his baggage, Raghunatha Bhatta started from Varanasi and traveled along the path leading through Bengal.
pathe tare milila visvasa-ramadasa
visvasa-khanara kayastha tenho rajara visvasa
In Bengal he met Ramadasa Visvasa, who belonged to the kayastha caste. He was one of the king’s secretaries.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
The words visvasa-khanara kayastha indicate a secretary or clerk belonging to the kayastha caste. Kayasthas were usually secretaries to kings, governors, or other important persons. It is said that anyone working in the government secretariat at this time was a kayastha.
sarva-sastre pravina, kavya-prakasa-adhyapaka
Ramadasa Visvasa was very learned in all the revealed scriptures. He was a teacher of the famous book Kavya-prakasa and was known as an advanced devotee and worshiper of Raghunatha [Lord Ramacandra].
Commenting on the word parama-vaisnava, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that anyone who desires to merge into the existence of the Lord cannot be a pure Vaisnava, but because Ramadasa Visvasa was a great devotee of Lord Ramacandra, he was almost a Vaisnava. In those days, no one could distinguish between a pure Vaisnava and a pseudo Vaisnava. Therefore Ramadasa Visvasa was known as a Vaisnava because he worshiped Lord Ramacandra.
asta-prahara rama-namajapena ratri-dine
sarva tyaji’ calila jagannatha-darasane
Ramadasa had renounced everything and was going to see Lord Jagannatha. While traveling, he chanted the holy name of Lord Rama twenty-four hours a day.
When he met Raghunatha Bhatta on the way, he took Raghunatha’s baggage on his head and carried it.
Ramadasa served Raghunatha Bhatta in various ways, even massaging his legs. Raghunatha Bhatta felt some hesitation in accepting all this service.
“You are a respectable gentleman, a learned scholar, and a great devotee,” Raghunatha Bhatta said. “Please do not try to serve me. Just come with me in a happy mood.”
Ramadasa replied, “I am a sudra, a fallen soul. To serve a brahmana is my duty and religious principle.
“Therefore please do not be hesitant. I am your servant, and when I serve you my heart becomes jubilant.”
Thus Ramadasa carried the baggage of Raghunatha Bhatta and served him sincerely. He constantly chanted the holy name of Lord Ramacandra day and night.
Traveling in this way, Raghunatha Bhatta soon arrived at Jagannatha Puri. There he met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with great delight and fell at His lotus feet.
Raghunatha Bhatta fell straight as a rod at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then the Lord embraced him, knowing well who he was.
Raghunatha offered respectful obeisances to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on behalf of Tapana Misra and Candrasekhara, and the Lord also inquired about them.
“bhala ha-ila aila, dekha ‘kamala-locana’
aji amara etha kariba prasada bhojana”
“It is very good that you have come here,” the Lord said. “Now go see the lotus-eyed Lord Jagannatha. Today you will accept prasada here at My place.”
The Lord asked Govinda to arrange for Raghunatha Bhatta’s accommodations and then introduced him to all the devotees, headed by Svarupa Damodara Gosvami.
Thus Raghunatha Bhatta lived with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continuously for eight months, and by the Lord’s mercy he felt increased transcendental happiness every day.
He would periodically cook rice with various vegetables and invite Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to his home.
Raghunatha Bhatta was an expert cook. Whatever he prepared tasted just like nectar.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would accept with great satisfaction all the food he prepared. After the Lord was satisfied, Raghunatha Bhatta would eat His remnants.
When Ramadasa Visvasa met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord did not show him any special mercy, although this was their first meeting.
Within his heart, Ramadasa Visvasa was an impersonalist who desired to merge into the existence of the Lord, and he was very proud of his learning. Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the omniscient Supreme Personality of Godhead, He can understand the heart of everyone, and thus He knew all these things.
Ramadasa Visvasa then took up residence in Jagannatha Puri and taught the Kavya-prakasa to the Pattanayaka family [the descendants of Bhavananda Raya].
asta-masa rahi’ prabhu bhatte vidaya dila
“vivaha na kariha” bali’ nisedha karila
After eight months, when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to Raghunatha Bhatta, the Lord flatly forbade him to marry. “Do not marry,” the Lord said.
Raghunatha Bhattacarya had become a greatly advanced devotee while still unmarried. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu could see this, and therefore He advised him not to begin the process of material sense gratification. Marriage is a concession for people who are unable to control their senses. Raghunatha, however, being an advanced devotee of Krsna, naturally had no desire for sense gratification. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised him not to enter the bondage of marriage. Generally a person cannot make much advancement in spiritual consciousness if he is married. He becomes attached to his family and is prone to sense gratification. Thus his spiritual advancement is very slow or almost nil.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
I once had the good fortune to receive a similar instruction from Srila Prabhupada. We were in Gorakhpur, and Prabhupada had received the latest issue of Back to Godhead, with an article I had written in Boston before I went to India—“The Genuine Spiritual Master.” He was pleased with the article and asked to see me. I was still quite young in Krishna consciousness, and Srila Prabhupada didn’t generally call for me. He said, “I have read your article, and it was very nice. You should write.” And he invited me to travel with him so he could train me how to write. Then he asked, “Do you ever think of getting married?” I said no. “Better to remain brahmachari,” he said, “and after some time I will give you sannyasa.” He said that the demands of the senses are like itches and that if you scratch the itches, the itching will get worse. It is better to tolerate the itches, and if you tolerate, gradually the itching will subside. The demands for eating and sleeping too—all of them—if we indulge them, they become aggravated. But if we tolerate them, they gradually subside.
Today is Sripada Madhvacharya’s appearance day. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter 9, describes him:
madhvacarya-sthane aila yanha ‘tattvavadi’
udupite ‘krsna’ dekhi, tahan haila premonmadi
Caitanya Mahaprabhu next arrived at Udupi, the place of Madhvacarya, where the philosophers known as Tattvavadis resided. There He saw the Deity of Lord Krsna and became mad with ecstasy.
Sripada Madhvacarya took his birth near Udupi, which is situated in the South Kanara district of South India, just west of Sahyadri. This is the chief city of the South Kanara province and is near the city of Mangalore, which is situated to the south of Udupi. Near the city of Udupi is a place called Pajaka-ksetra, where Madhvacarya took his birth in a Sivalli-brahmana dynasty as the son of Madhyageha Bhatta, in the year 1040 Sakabda (A.D. 1118). According to some, he was born in the year 1160 Sakabda (A.D. 1238).
In his childhood Madhvacarya was known as Vasudeva, and there are some wonderful stories surrounding him. It is said that once when his father had piled up many debts, Madhvacarya converted tamarind seeds into actual coins to pay them off. When he was five years old, he was offered the sacred thread. A demon named Maniman lived near his abode in the form of a snake, and at the age of five Madhvacarya killed that snake with the toe of his left foot. When his mother was very much disturbed, he would appear before her in one jump. He was a great scholar even in childhood, and although his father did not agree, he accepted sannyasa at the age of twelve. Upon receiving sannyasa from Acyuta Preksa, he received the name Purnaprajna Tirtha. After traveling all over India, he finally discussed scriptures with Vidyasankara, the exalted leader of Srngeri-matha. Vidyasankara was actually diminished in the presence of Madhvacarya. Accompanied by Satya Tirtha, Madhvacarya went to Badarikasrama. It was there that he met Vyasadeva and explained his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita before him. Thus he became a great scholar by studying before Vyasadeva.
By the time he came to the Ananda-matha from Badarikasrama, Madhvacarya had finished his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita. His companion Satya Tirtha wrote down the entire commentary. When Madhvacarya returned from Badarikasrama, he went to Ganjama, which is on the bank of the river Godavari. There he met with two learned scholars named Sobhana Bhatta and Svami Sastri. Later these scholars became known in the disciplic succession of Madhvacarya as Padmanabha Tirtha and Narahari Tirtha. When he returned to Udupi, he would sometimes bathe in the ocean. On such an occasion he composed a prayer in five chapters. Once, while sitting beside the sea engrossed in meditation upon Lord Sri Krsna, he saw that a large boat containing goods for Dvaraka was in danger. He gave some signs by which the boat could approach the shore, and it was saved. The owners of the boat wanted to give him a present, and at the time Madhvacarya agreed to take some gopi-candana. He received a big lump of gopi-candana, and as it was being brought to him, it broke apart and revealed a large Deity of Lord Krsna. The Deity had a stick in one hand and a lump of food in the other. As soon as Madhvacarya received the Deity of Krsna in this way, he composed a prayer. The Deity was so heavy that not even thirty people could lift it. Yet Madhvacarya personally brought this Deity to Udupi. Eight of Madhvacarya’s sannyasa disciples became directors of his eight monasteries. Worship of the Lord Krsna Deity is still going on at Udupi according to the plans Madhvacarya established.
We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Nine, Chapter Ten: “The Pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Ramacandra.”
te ’nikapa raghupater abhipatya sarve
dvandvam varutham ibha-patti-rathasva-yodhaih
jaghnur drumair giri-gadesubhir angadadyah
Angada and the other commanders of the soldiers of Ramacandra faced the elephants, infantry, horses, and chariots of the enemy and hurled against them big trees, mountain peaks, clubs, and arrows. Thus the soldiers of Lord Ramacandra killed Ravana’s soldiers, who had lost all good fortune because Ravana had been condemned by the anger of Mother Sita.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
The soldiers Lord Ramacandra recruited in the jungle were all monkeys and did not have proper equipment with which to fight the soldiers of Ravana, for Ravana’s soldiers were equipped with weapons of modern warfare whereas the monkeys could only throw stones, mountain peaks, and trees. It was only Lord Ramacandra and Laksmana who shot some arrows. But because the soldiers of Ravana were condemned by the curse of Mother Sita, the monkeys were able to kill them simply by throwing stones and trees. There are two kinds of strength—daiva and purusakara. Daiva refers to the strength achieved from the Transcendence, and purusakara refers to the strength organized by one’s own intelligence and power. Transcendental power is always superior to the power of the materialist. Depending on the mercy of the Supreme Lord, one must fight one’s enemies even though one may not be equipped with modern weapons. Therefore Krsna instructed Arjuna, mam anusmara yudhya ca: “Think of Me and fight.” We should fight our enemy to the best of our ability, but for victory we must depend on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
Coming to Bhaktivedanta Manor, I was reminded of the struggle we faced here to keep the temple open to the public and to preach Krishna consciousness. Although in such battles the enemies sometimes appear to have the upper hand, in the end, as long as we remain faithful to and dependent on the Lord and at the same time make our best effort with all sincerity and intelligence, we will be successful, according to His will.
We had a similar struggle in Juhu, Bombay. In fact, in Juhu we were even less equipped than were the devotees here, who had already established the mission quite solidly and had many friends—a large congregation and friends in influential positions. Still, it was a great struggle here.
In Juhu we were comparable to the band of monkeys that joined Lord Ramachandra. Srila Prabhupada himself drew parallels between himself and Lord Ramachandra, and between us and the monkeys. He compared the Western countries to Ravana, because they had so much wealth, just like Ravana in his opulent kingdom of Lanka. And wealth is Lakshmi—a manifestation of Lakshmi, or Sita. So, Srila Prabhupada said that just as Ravana had kidnapped Sita, the Western countries had kidnapped, or taken possession of, so much wealth. And just as Lord Ramachandra had crossed the ocean to redeem Sita, so Srila Prabhupada had also crossed the ocean. And just as Lord Ramachandra was assisted by so many monkeys, Srila Prabhupada was assisted by us.
Bhagavat das: Prabhupada said, “Can you quote this verse?” The two of us looked at each other, and I thought, “Tamal Krishna Goswami will quote the verse,” but Tamal Krishna Goswami thought I was going to do it. Neither of us knew the verse. Prabhupada said, “Just see. You are not reading my books. Every day you have to read, study, and learn my books just like a lawyer learns the law books. You must know everything, chapter and verse. If you do not know, how will you preach? Unless you know my books, how will you teach these men? Do you know that every day even I read my own books? Do you know why I read my books?” We didn’t want to venture any answer. Prabhupada said, “I read my books every day because even I learn something new when I read my books. These are not my books. I do not write these books.” It seemed as if something mystical came over him at this point. He said, “Every morning, when I sit here to write my books, Krishna comes personally and dictates to me what to write. I simply take dictation from Krishna to write these books. Therefore, when I read them, even I learn something.” The way he said it was so dramatic that we felt the weight of his words. I was thinking, “I’m speaking with a person who’s speaking with God, who’s right next to God. I’m only one person removed from God. He’s so close.” Yet I knew how far away I actually was, because of the state of my own consciousness. But by some grace, I was being placed right next to God by being with Prabhupada. It was amazing.
I will begin by reading a couple of exchanges with Srila Prabhupada about his coming to America. Once, Srila Prabhupada was asked, “Your godbrothers who came to the West went to England and Germany. Why did you choose to come to America?” And he replied, “They went and came back to India without accomplishing anything. So I thought, ‘If I am going to fail, at least let me fail in a different place.’ ”
And on a morning walk in Los Angeles, a disciple said to Prabhupada, “When you came to the Western world, no one anywhere believed it would be successful. But actually it has become very successful, by preaching.”
“I myself did not believe, ‘I shall be successful,’ ” Prabhupada replied, “what to speak of others. But because I did in the proper line, so it has become successful.”
Of course, it was a difficult voyage for Srila Prabhupada on the ship Jaladuta, and on the way he had two heart attacks, and he thought that if he had a third, he might not survive. He kept a diary, and that has been published—The Jaladuta Diary.
I will read a little from Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta to give the background leading up to Srila Prabhupada’s arrival: “On the night of the second day, Prabhupada had a dream. Lord Krishna, in His many forms, was rowing a boat, and He told Prabhupada that he should not fear, but should come along. Prabhupada felt assured of Lord Krishna’s protection, and the violent attacks did not recur.”
On Thursday, September 9, Srila Prabhupada wrote in his diary, “This afternoon, we have crossed over the Atlantic Ocean for twenty-four hours. The whole day was clear and almost smooth. I am taking my food regularly and have got some strength to struggle. There is also a slight tacking of the ship and I am feeling a slight headache also. But I am struggling and the nectarine of life is Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, the source of all my vitality.”
Then the next day, Friday, September 10, just a week before he arrived in America, he wrote, “Today the ship is plying very smoothly. I feel today better. But I am feeling separation from Sri Vrindaban and my Lords Sri Govinda, Gopinath, Radha Damodar. The only solace is Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita in which I am tasting the nectarine of Lord Chaitanya’s lila [pastimes]. I have left Bharatabhumi just to execute the order of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati in pursuance of Lord Chaitanya’s order. I have no qualification, but I have taken up the risk just to carry out the order of His Divine Grace. I depend fully on Their mercy, so far away from Vrindaban.”
And when Srila Prabhupada arrived at Boston Harbor on September 18, 1965, he wrote a wonderful poem with rhyming stanzas, Markine Bhagavata-dharma, in which he expressed the same mood of dependence on the mercy of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
baro-krpa kaile krsna adhamer prati
ki lagiyanile hetha koro ebe gati
“My dear Lord Krishna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. You can do whatever You like with me.”
In his humility, Srila Prabhupada refers to himself as a “useless soul.” And he submits himself, as he says later, as a puppet in the hands of Krishna and the parampara to do with him whatever they like. That should also be our mood in our devotional service, that we just want to be puppets in the hands of our spiritual master and act as he wants us to act or do as he wants us to do. And Srila Prabhupada’s poem gives us an insight not only into his mood of surrender and dependence on the mercy of the Lord and his spiritual master, but also into what our mood should be in our execution of devotional service.
Visvarupa-mahotsava marks the occasion on which Lord Chaitanya’s older brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. And on the same date some four hundred and fifty years later, our own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, also accepted sannyasa.
According to Vedic literatures, Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, come in the present age in the role of a devotee. In the previous age, Lord Krishna came in His original feature and spoke the Bhagavad-gita, and at the conclusion He instructed, sarva-dharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja: give up all other duties and surrender unto Me. But people could not understand or appreciate Lord Krishna’s instruction. So, later, about five hundred years ago, Krishna came again, not in His original form but in His devotional form as Lord Chaitanya. And Lord Chaitanya taught us how to serve Krishna, how to worship God in the present age.
Lord Chaitanya taught various methods of worship, but He especially emphasized the chanting of the holy names of God, or Krishna. In particular, He quoted a verse from the Brhan-Naradiya Purana (38.126):
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“One should chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of Hari, Krishna. In this age of Kali, there is no other way, no other way, no other way for spiritual realization.”
He acted like a teacher who shows students how to write the alphabet. The teacher stands in front of the class and writes on the board, “A, B, C, D.” The teacher has no need to practice writing, but he shows by his own example how to form the letters properly. In the same way, God, Krishna, had no need to worship, but to set the example for us, so that we could learn how to worship Him in the best way in the present age, He came as Lord Chaitanya and taught and demonstrated the chanting of the holy names of Krishna.