Today is Srila Vrindavan dasa Thakura’s appearance day. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 11.55) states, “Srila Vyasadeva described the pastimes of Krsna in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Vyasa of the pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was Vrndavana dasa.” In his purport Srila Prabhupada elaborates: “Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura was an incarnation of Vedavyasa and also a friendly cowherd boy named Kusumapida in krsna-lila. In other words, the author of Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura, the son of Srivasa Thakura’s niece Narayani, was a combined incarnation of Vedavyasa and the cowherd boy Kusumapida.” Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura was the last initiated disciple of Sri Nityananda Prabhu.
In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 8.33–40, 42, 44) Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami glorifies Srila Vrindavan dasa Thakura and his book Sri Caitanya-bhagavata (then called Sri Caitanya-mangala): “O fools, just read Sri Caitanya-mangala! By reading this book you can understand all the glories of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Thakura Vrndavana dasa has composed Sri Caitanya-mangala. Hearing this book annihilates all misfortune. By reading Sri Caitanya-mangala one can understand all the glories and truths of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda and come to the ultimate conclusion of devotional service to Lord Krsna. In Sri Caitanya-mangala [later known as Sri Caitanya-bhagavata] Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura has given the conclusion and essence of devotional service by quoting the authoritative statements of Srimad-Bhagavatam. If even a great atheist hears Sri Caitanya-mangala, he immediately becomes a great devotee. The subject matter of this book is so sublime that it appears that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has personally spoken through the writings of Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura. I offer millions of obeisances unto the lotus feet of Vrndavana dasa Thakura. No one else could write such a wonderful book for the deliverance of all fallen souls. What a wonderful description he has given of the pastimes of Lord Caitanya! Anyone in the three worlds who hears it is purified. Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura has written Sri Caitanya-mangala and therein described in all respects the pastimes of Lord Caitanya.”
In his purport to text 45 Srila Prabhupada writes, “Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura’s Sri Caitanya-bhagavata was originally entitled Sri Caitanya-mangala, but when Srila Locana dasa Thakura later wrote another book named Sri Caitanya-mangala, Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura changed the name of his own book, which is now therefore known as Sri Caitanya-bhagavata. The life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is very elaborately described in the Caitanya-bhagavata, and Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has already informed us that in his Sri Caitanya-caritamrta he has described whatever Vrndavana dasa Thakura has not mentioned. This acceptance of Sri Caitanya-bhagavata by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami indicates his acceptance of the disciplic succession. A writer of transcendental literature never tries to surpass the previous acaryas.”
And he writes in his purport to text 48, “The subject matter of this book is so sublime that it appears that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has personally spoken through the writings of Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura.” He explains, “The secret in a devotee’s writing is that when he writes about the pastimes of the Lord, the Lord helps him; he does not write himself. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (10.10), dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te. Since a devotee writes in service to the Lord, the Lord from within gives him so much intelligence that he sits down near the Lord and goes on writing books. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami confirms that what Vrndavana dasa Thakura wrote was actually spoken by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and that Vrndavana dasa simply repeated it.”
How blessed we are to receive knowledge of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu through our glorious parampara—and to be engaged in their service.
Yours in service,
“There are very exalted spiritual understandings in Krishna consciousness. They are not fictional, imaginary, or concocted. They are facts, and every devotee can have the privilege to understand and indeed take part in Krishna’s pastimes if he is actually advanced. We should not think that the privilege given to Mother Yasoda is not available to us. Everyone can have a similar privilege. If one loves Krishna as one’s child, then one will have such a privilege, because the mother has the most love for the child. Even in this material world, there is no comparison to a mother’s love, for a mother loves her child without any expectation of return. Of course, although that is generally true, this material world is so polluted that a mother sometimes thinks, ‘My child will grow up and become a man, and when he earns money, I shall get it.’ Thus there may still be some desire to get something in exchange. But while loving Krishna there are no selfish feelings, for that love is unalloyed, free from all desires for material gain.
“You should not expect anything in return. That is real love. Just like a mother is loving her child, not expecting any return. But she still she gives service. So, that is as a little sample of pure love.”
—Srila Prabhupada, talk on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.31, April 23, 1973, Los Angeles, and room conversation, July 13, 1976, New York
Happy Mother’s Day!
Your grateful servant,
Energy Class, “Bounce Back,” Hosted by Bhaktivedanta Academy, ISKCON Noida, India
We shall discuss the conversation between Sri Ramananda Raya and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, ramananda-samvada, recorded in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Eight: “Talks Between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramananda Raya.”
gaurabdhir etair amuna vitirnais
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is known as Gauranga, is the ocean of all conclusive knowledge in devotional service. He empowered Sri Ramananda Raya, who may be likened to a cloud of devotional service. This cloud was filled with the water of all the conclusive purports of devotional service and was empowered by the ocean to spread this water over the sea of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Thus the ocean of Caitanya Mahaprabhu became filled with the jewels of the knowledge of pure devotional service.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
According to revealed scriptures, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, the origin of all knowledge—perfect knowledge. Here, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the ocean of knowledge of the conclusive purports of devotional service, is taking the part of a student and asking questions, and He has empowered Sri Ramananda Raya to give perfect answers. Thus, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is compared to an ocean and Ramananda Raya to a cloud that draws water from the ocean and then showers the water upon the ocean as rain.
anyonye mili’ dunhe nibhrte vasiya
prasnottara-gosthi kahe anandita hana
Thus they met time and time again, sitting in a secluded place and jubilantly discussing devotional service by the question-and-answer process.
prabhu puche, ramananda karena uttara
ei mata sei ratre katha paraspara
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked the questions, and Sri Ramananda Raya gave the answers. In this way they were engaged in discussion throughout the night.
prabhu kahe,—“kon vidya vidya-madhye sara?”
raya kahe,—“krsna-bhakti vina vidya nahi ara”
On one occasion the Lord inquired, “Of all types of education, which is the most important?”
Ramananda Raya replied, “No education is important other than the transcendental devotional service of Krsna.”
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Texts 245 to 257 are all questions and answers between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramananda Raya. In these exchanges there is an attempt to show the difference between material and spiritual existence. Education in Krsna consciousness is always transcendental and is the best of all forms of education. Material education aims at increasing the activities of material sense gratification. Beyond material sense gratification is another negative form of knowledge called brahma-vidya, or impersonal transcendental knowledge. But beyond that brahma-vidya, or knowledge of the impersonal Brahman, is knowledge of devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Visnu. This knowledge is higher. And still higher is devotional service to Lord Krsna, which is the topmost form of education. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.29.49), tat karma hari-tosam yat sa vidya tan-matir yaya: “Work meant for pleasing the Supreme Lord is the best, and education that enhances one’s Krsna consciousness is the best.”
Also, according to Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.23–24):
sravanam kirtanam visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
iti pumsarpita visnau
bhaktis cen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha
tan manye ’dhitam uttamam
This is a statement given by Prahlada Maharaja in answer to a question raised by his father. Prahlada Maharaja said, “To hear or chant about Lord Visnu, to remember Him, to serve His lotus feet, to worship Him, to offer prayers to Him, to become His servant and His friend, to sacrifice everything for His service—all these are varieties of devotional service. One who is engaged in such activities is understood to be educated to the topmost perfection.”
This is the first in the series of questions and answers, and it seems appropriate in this environment of education, but as Srila Prabhupada says at the beginning of the purport, these questions and answers are meant to highlight the difference between the material and the spiritual. Material existence begins from the basic misconception that “I am the body and everything in relation to the body is mine.” More or less everyone is in this bodily concept of life. They identify with the body and are deeply attached to things related to the body. And because they identify with the body, they think the goal of life is to give pleasure to the senses of the body. Whatever they do is more or less for the sake of the body.
Srila Prabhupada gives the example that if you are performing a mathematical calculation and you make a mistake in the first step, then even if you perform all the other steps perfectly, you will likely stray further and further away from the actual answer or solution. If we begin from the mistaken premise that “I am the body,” even if everything else we do is perfect in terms of the body, because we made the most fundamental error in the very first step, we will end up further and further away from the actual goal. Continue reading »