The following article is based on a lecture given by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja on the Disappearance Day of Srila Sanatan Goswami in Vrindavan, 1991. The lecture was based on the sixth verse of Vilāpa-kusumāñjali.
apāyayan mām anabhīpsum andham
kṛpāmbudhir yaḥ para-duḥkha-duḥkhī
sanātanas taṁ prabhum āśrayāmi
Srila Raghunath Das Goswami has prayed to his diksha-guru, Yadunandana Acarya, in a general way, and to his rāgānugā siksha-guru, Srila Rupa Goswami, in a more special way. From this we may infer that there are different types of gurus.
If one’s guru has not given one any instruction in rāgānugā, one may also have another guru, as did Raghunath Das Goswami. However, if the guru has given both vaidhi and rāgānugā siksha, there is no question of accepting another guru.
As far as I know, Raghunath Das Goswami did not receive any siksha of rāgānugā from Yadunandana Acarya, because at that time Raghunath Das had no idea of rāgānugā bhajan. He learned from Srila Haridasa Thakura to chant “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,” and from his diksha-guru, he understood, “I am Krishna Das” and “We should chant Harinam. We should do bhakti.” He had no opportunity to receive greed for rāgānugā from Yadunandana Acarya.
Still, it is a very, very important task to bring someone from the worldly side to Krishna’s side. If the guru cannot do that, then the endeavor to approach rāgānugā, rupanuga, and everything else will be useless. The vaidhi-bhakti guru is certainly guru. Even if someone, without giving mantra or diksha, has endeavored to put us in contact with guru or Krishna, and has given some inspiration to worship Radha and Krishna in vaidhi-bhakti, we should be so grateful to that person. It is for this reason that Raghunath Das Goswami has prayed to Sri Yadunandana Acharya.
For rāgānugā bhajan, Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is especially indebted to Srila Rupa Goswami, and also to Srila Sanatan Goswami. He was primarily associating with Rupa Goswami, however, and he has taken all his ideas and ideals for rāgānugā bhajan from him. He prayed only to Rupa Manjari in his siddha-deha. He never prayed to him in the same, apparently external, way that he prayed to Sri Sanatan Goswami: sanātanaṁ taṁ prabhum āśrayāmi. Rupa Goswami gave him all the conceptions needed in rāgānugā and rupānugā for developing manjari-bhava, and Sri Sanatan Goswami gave him all necessary instruction in vaidhi-bhakti and sadhana-bhajan aiming for rāgānugā.
When Raghunath Das Goswami had first come from Jagannath Puri, due to the intense pain of his separation for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu he was of a mind to give up his life. He wanted to go to Govardhan, climb upon the hill, and, by jumping from there, end his life. If he had simply wanted to commit suicide, Raghunath Das Goswami could have easily done so in Puri. Why did he not do so? While passing through the Jharikhanda forest, full of tigers and other wild beasts, dense forests, and high mountains, he could have easily died without anyone interfering. Why was he intent upon leaving his body at Govardhan?
He had been thinking in the following way: “I will have to serve Radha and Krishna, if not in this life, then in another. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given me the shelter of Govardhan, so I will go to Govardhan, and, if Govardhan allows, I will give up my life there. As Gita has said, ‘Whatever a person thinks of at his last moment, he will attain in his next birth.’ So I will die at Govardhan with this ambition: ‘O Giriraja Govardhan, please grant me a birth near you. Have mercy upon me so that I may serve Radha and Krishna, and especially Srimati Radhika’.”
In his Manaḥ-śikṣā, Raghunath Das Goswami has written:
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-pracura-paricaryām iha tanu
saci-sūnum nandīśvara-pati-sutatve guru-varaṁ
mukunda-preṣṭhatve smara padam ajasram nanu manaḥ
Now he was thinking, “To carry out the order of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is service to him. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is actually Radha and Krishna. Therefore, if he is telling me to serve Radha and Krishna, that is also service to him.”
He was considering that if he died in this consciousness, he would at least take birth as a blade of grass at Govardhan, just as Uddhava prayed. He determined, “Then, at the time of abhisara, when the gopis go to meet with Krishna at night, their holy foot-dust will fall on my head. In this way I will be satisfied.” He therefore wanted to die at Govardhan, especially near Radha Kund and Shyam Kund.
As soon as he arrived in Vrindavan, Raghunath Das Goswami went to Sri Rupa Goswami and Sri Sanatan Goswami and offered his obeisances. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had previously told him, “Always consider Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami as your elder brothers,” and therefore he came and offered them his obeisances.
Somehow or other Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami divined that Raghunath had a wish to die at Govardhan. Sanatan Prabhu was especially wise in understanding a person’s heart. In this respect, he was even wiser than Sri Rupa Goswami. He was rāja-nīti-jña, in knowledge of politics, whereas Rupa Goswami was very simple. Sri Sanatan Goswami and other Goswamis used tarka, logic, in their writings. To make common persons understand anything, especially in vaidhi-bhakti and the methods of Krishna-bhajan, some logic is very necessary. Vedanta itself is based on sound logical principles.
Rupa Goswami on the other hand wrote for those who are eager for rāgānugā-bhakti, “Don’t take shelter of any logic. What I am explaining for entrance into the transcendental pastimes of Krishna does not depend upon logic. Such logic cannot help you in this realm. Only śraddhā can give you entrance here.” He has not used logical arguments anywhere in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, Vidagdha-mādhava, or Lalita-mādhava. For preaching, of course, it is very essential to have logic, and for management rāja-nīti is essential.
If we examine Rupa Goswami’s books, we will see that he is simply telling lilā-kathā (topics regarding Krishna’s pastimes), without touching upon logic or scriptural arguments at all. From the beginning of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu and Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi, he has cited references from various scriptures regarding līlā-kathā, rasa (the taste of relationship with Krishna), and vilāsa (playful pastimes). These books contrast Jiva Goswami’s Tattva Sandarbha, which has used all logic and shastric evidences to establish his points. Srila Rupa Goswami has written all his books, such as Lalita-mādhava, Vidagdha-mādhava, and Hamsaduta, only on the basis of the pastimes of Krishna.
vana-vipina-nikuñje divya-divyair vilāsaiḥ
niravadhi rasamānau rādhikā-kṛṣṇacandrau
bhaja sakalam upekṣya tāvakāḥ śāstra-yuktīḥ
In this verse, Srila Rupa Goswami recommends that one should do bhajan of Radha and Krishna, always chanting and remembering their nikuñja-līlā. He says here, “There is no need to adhere to śāstra-yukti, scriptural logic. Whatever logic has been given in Vedanta or other shastra, leave that aside; don’t depend upon that. Logic is required in vaidhī-bhakti, and also for managing and preaching. For entering deeply into bhajan, however, only śraddhā is of necessity.”
This poem Nikuñja-rahasya-stava contains thirty-two slokas of nikuñja līlā, from Radha-Krishna’s līlā at the beginning of the night all the way to niśānta līlā. “Leaving all logic and scriptural regulations aside, meditate on these confidential pastimes and do bhajan.” This is the specialty of Rupa Goswami’s teachings regarding rāgānugā-bhakti.
By the expert employment of shastric and general logic, by politics, and by following carefully the example of our acaryas and especially Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Sanatan Goswami convinced Raghunath Das Goswami to not give up his life. He then related his personal experience. He told Raghunath Das, “At first, in Jagannath Puri, I was of the same opinion as you.”
After traveling through the Jharikhanda forest, Sanatan Goswami had developed itching, oozing sores all over his body. Whenever Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw him, he would run towards him and embrace him. Sanatan Goswami considered, “It is offensive on my part that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, being Krishna himself, is embracing me to his chest and the moisture from these sores is touching his body. Rather than allow my offense to continue, I have made up my mind to give up my life at the time of the Ratha festival, under the wheels of the chariot.”
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu could understand Sanatan Goswami’s heart and said, “O Sanatan, if a person gives something to another person, does he have any right to take that property back?”
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not order him directly, but cleverly and tactfully indicated his desire. Then he told him, “The first point is that if you have surrendered your body to me, you no longer have the right to do what you like with it. Only I have that right. By taking what is rightfully mine, you are committing an offense to me. Secondly, if I had thought that by giving up my life I could attain the service of Radha and Krishna, I would have given up my body millions of times. By giving up one’s life, one cannot attain Radha and Krishna’s service. Only by bhakti-yoga can a person have their service. Try to understand this. Give up your idea of ending your life. Increase your sadhan-bhajan, and you will very soon achieve perfection.”
Sri Sanatan Goswami continued, “By hearing the words of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu I understood his desire, and I have thus tried to follow his order and serve Radha and Krishna. You should do the same. You have no right to give up your life, because you have already surrendered your soul to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Svarupa Damodara, Raya Ramananda, and also to us brothers. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told you to come to Vrindavan and stay in our company, and therefore we will try to protect, support, and nourish you. Don’t worry. Just stay at Radha Kund, at Govardhan, and always chant harinama and perform bhajan.”
In this verse of Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, Raghunath Das Goswami is now remembering, “If I had left my body at that time, I would have never received instruction in rāgānugā-bhakti and manjari-bhava. I would have never read Vidagdha Mādhava, Lalita Mādhava, or Dāna Keli Kumudi, nor would I myself have written any books. I am therefore so much indebted to Sri Sanatan Goswami.”
Anabhipsum andham. “I was unaware of rāgānugā-bhakti.” Raghunath Das Goswami is speaking in a mood of humility. Actually, he had received instructions in rāgānugā-bhajan from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Svarupa Damodara, and he had learned so much more from Rupa Goswami. Still, he is saying, “I was andha, blind. I did not know anything about rasamayi-bhakti, Krishna, Radha, the gopis, or Vraja-bhava. I did not even have the desire for these things.”
We also would be quite blind in these matters if we had not come to our Gurudeva. At first we had nothing, and now we reflect on how obliged and indebted we are to him. Should we advance further, we will feel even more indebted.
Anabhipsum. “I did not want that bhakti, but Sanatan Goswami gave it by force.” If a boy requires medicine and is not willing to take it, his mother will give it to him by force. She will forcibly open his mouth. Similarly, Raghunath Das Goswami says, “I was not in the mood to take up this rāgānugā-bhakti, so he forced me.”
Prayatnair means ‘carefully.’ When Raghunath Das Goswami lived at Radha Kund, Sanatan Goswami used to go there from Vrindavan to do Govardhan parikrama. Sri Sanatan Goswami is Lavanga Manjari. Why did he do parikrama? Did he have anything to gain for himself? yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ (Bhagavad-gita 3.21). People in general benefited by his example, but that was also not his real motive. Raghunath Das Goswami is saying, “He used to go only for me.” This is the meaning of the word prayatnair. He did it to give his association to Raghunath Das Goswami.
Raghunath Das continues, “You come here now and then, only to see how this orphan boy is doing. You come to tell me the pastimes of Krishna and to teach me how to serve him.”
I personally prefer to live in Vrindavan. Why, then, do I stay in Mathura? Is there some specific benefit for me to remain in Mathura? Is it for rupees, delicious food, or the affection of the residents of Mathura? Could it be that I will advance more in rāgānugā-bhakti and achieve the mercy of Srimati Radhika and the manjaris by being here? No, there is another reason. In Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is a sloka:
tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthāni svāntaḥ-sthena gadābhrtā
This is a very important verse, told by Yudhisthira Maharaja to Vidura. Yudhisthira Maharaja was so glad to see Vidura, who had just returned to his palace after the great Battle of Kuruksetra.
Another shloka is also related to this point:
niḥśreyasāya bhagavan kalpate nānyathā kvacit
This sloka was spoken by Nanda Baba to Garga Rishi at Krishna’s name-giving ceremony. Nanda Baba said, “I know you have not come here for a donation.” Babajis and priests come to their patron only for his donations, and they remain at his home only until the donation is paid. It is certain that as soon as it is paid they return to their own residences. Here Nanda Baba is expressing, “Actually, Gargacharya, you have no personal reason to come here. You have no self-interest. You have come to my house only because I am a very wretched grihastha. You go to the homes of grihasthas only to give them Krishna-bhakti. You are a bhāgavata.”
Who is a bhāgavata? One who has bhakti for Svayam Bhagavan Krishna is a bhāgavata. The symptom of a bhāgavata has been recorded in various shlokas. One symptom is that the wealth of the entire universe cannot influence the heart of a bhāgavata, or change his ideas, what to speak of some donation.
Nanda Baba continued, “You have not come with any self-interest, but only for the benefit of a wretched grihasta such as myself who has fallen into the dry well of householder life. You have come to give mercy.”
Sri Sanatan Goswami’s concern for Sri Raghunath Das Goswami was displayed in the following pastime: Once, Raghunath Das Goswami was sitting under the open sky and performing bhajan on the banks of Shyam Kund. Two tigers approached the kund, drank water, and then went away. Sanatan Goswami was watching this from a distance and became concerned.
He approached Raghunath Das Goswami and instructed him, “O Raghunath, you should not sit here like this. I will build a hut for you. By my special order you will have to live there and perform your bhajan there.”
Raghunath Das Goswami could not refuse his order. Sanatan Goswami made a hut, and from that time onward Raghunath Das Goswami lived there, chanted Harinam, and performed all other devotional activities.
Even though Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami – especially Sanatan Goswami – used to see Raghunath Das Goswami as their younger brother, he always saw them as his gurus. Being the direct disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sanatan Goswami, Rupa Goswami, and Raghunath Das Goswami were all god-brothers Therefore Sanatan Goswami and Rupa Goswami saw Raghunath Das as their god-brother, never as their disciple. On the other hand, he never saw them as god-brothers. He always saw them as his own gurus.
Gurur kinkara haya manya se amar. “The servant of the guru is always respectable for us.” (Chaitanya-caritamrta Madhya-līlā, 10.142) This is a statement by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When Govinda came and met Mahaprabhu in Puri, he told him, “Our Gurudeva, Isvara Puripad, has sent me to serve you.”
Mahaprabhu was thinking, “How can this be? He is my god-brother, and therefore I should respect him. But he wants to serve me.” His guru had ordered that Govinda serve him, and therefore he accepted his service.
The servant of the guru should be deeply respected. Understanding this, Raghunath Das Goswami always saw Sanatan Goswami and Rupa Goswami as his gurus. We should also have this behavior amongst ourselves, for that will create love between us. We may think, “I am guru. He knows nothing. He is not as good a servant of our Gurudeva as I am. He doesn’t even know any siddhanta.” If we think in this way, there will be quarrels among us, and now this is going on: “I am the only acharya and no one else is qualified.” Where there is hating and similar mentalities, that place is Kali-rajya, the kingdom of Kali.
Vairāgya-yug-bhakti. There are two types of bhakti. One is general and the other is bhakti with vairāgya. Vairāgya has two meanings. Viśeṣa-rūpeṇa rāga. This means ‘special rāga,’ or in other words, anurāga (great absorption and affection for Krishna). The distinguishing feature of vairāgya is rāga or anurāga. This is a most important point. When anurāga is present, attachment for sense objects cannot remain. This is the definition of vairāgya.
One truly fixed in vairāgya will have attachment only for bhakti and for the service of Radha and Krishna. One who has this special anurāga for Radhika’s service will automatically leave all worldly attachments. Those who have not developed real vairāgya may leave their worldly attachments, but after some time they will again become immersed in those things. Srila Raghunath Das Goswami has this special attachment to the service of Radha and Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and he glorifies Sri Sanatan Goswami as the one who blessed him with this vairāgya-yug bhakti, or renunciation-enriched bhakti.
In Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s own life we see this vairāgya-yug-bhakti, and when he sees his followers performing bhakti with vairāgya he is so pleased. He desires that every one of his devotees should be akiñcana, niṣkiñcana, thinking that their only possession is Krishna. We are not like this, and therefore we have so many problems. If we maintain any attachment for anything other than Krishna – to name and fame, wealth, women, or food – then bhakti will become very remote for us. It will be very, very remote.
It is stated in Sri Chaitanya-caritamrita, Antya-līlā 6.310:
sade sata prahara yaya kirtana-smarane
ahara-nidra cari danda seha nahe kona dine
A complete day and night is eight prahara, and one prahara, three hours, consists of six or seven danda. Our Goswamis spent four dandas; that is, about one and a half to two hours, on eating, drinking, and sleeping. They spent the rest of the day and night, over seven and half prahara, doing asta-kaliya-līlā smarana. Moreover, there were some days when they neglected to eat or sleep at all.
We sleep from eight to nine hours daily. Then, so much time is spent in oil massage, bathing, roaming here and there, general laziness, sitting and sitting, and thinking. The rest of the day passes as we talk about things other than hari-katha. Then, sometimes we feel sick, and at that time doctors must be brought and medicine administered. Our whole time goes in vain. Certainly, this is a situation of great hopelessness!
Krpambudhir yah. Sanatan Goswami is a great ocean of mercy, the highest extent of mercy. He can also give Radha’s mercy. He can pray, “O Srimati Radhika, please give your mercy to this devotee.”
Lalita Devi can also give this, and we can pray to her:
prekṣya sva-pakṣa-padavīm anurudhyamānām
sadyas tad iṣṭa-ghaṭanena kṛtarthayantīṁ
devīṁ guṇaiḥ sulalitāṁ lalitāṁ namāmi
If Lalita hears that any teenage gopi in Vraja wants to be a pālya-dāsī (“unpaid maidservant”) of Srimati Radhika, she at once fulfills the desires of that gopi. If anyone, anywhere, has in his form as a sadhaka the desire that, “I only want to be a pālya-dāsī of Radhika,” and if he prays to Lalita-Devi, “I want to be a pālya-dāsī of Radhika; this is so high, but I want it. O Lalita Devi, please be merciful to me so that I may have that service,” then Lalita will manage to do this at once.
This is the mood of this shloka. Lalita will ask any kishori (teenage gopi) moving within Vraja, “O kishori, where are you going?”
The young girl may reply, “I’m going to Barsana (or Javat or Radha Kund).
“Why are you going there, kishori?”
“I know it is very difficult to achieve, but I am going there with the hope that Srimati Radhika may keep me as her pālya-dāsī.”
When Lalita knows this she at once tries to give that bhava. She will order – not pray – to Srimati Radhika, “Keep this girl as Your pālya-dāsī. I’m writing her name in the register of Your pālya-dāsīs.”
Srimati Radhika cannot disobey. She is bound to obey the order of Lalita. If Lalita sees any sign at all that one wants to become a pālya-dāsī, she certainly arranges for it. At once she tells Radhika, and Radhika obeys her order.
This is the meaning of kṛpāmbudhi (an ocean of mercy) in this prayer by Srjila Raghunath Das Goswami to Srila Sanatan Goswami, and there is no kṛpā (mercy) beyond this. Sri Sanatan Goswami, as Lavanga Manjari, is an ocean of mercy because he can distribute the mercy of Srimati Radhika.
Para duḥkha-duḥkhi. Sanatan Goswami is always unhappy to see the unhappiness of any jiva. No jiva is saying to him, “Please have mercy upon me.” Rather, he sees that they are pots or vessels for mercy though they don’t want it. He will go to a person and request, “Can you give me water to drink?” Why is he asking for water? This is because he wants to give his mercy; he is creating their sukriti. He therefore travels to every village and contacts the sense enjoyers.
In the grihastha’s home he questions, “I have heard that your daughter is soon to be married.”
The grihastha may reply, “Her marriage has already been performed.”
“Oh, how is she?”
Although he has no self-interest, Sanatan Goswami will listen to all the news of the villagers. What is the need? He wants to give them bhakti by his association – somehow or other. He will instruct someone, “Your father is very ill. Try to chant ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna’ and he will improve.”
In any way he can, Sanatan Goswami gives his mercy. This is the symptom of para-duḥkha-duḥkhi. He has nothing to be gained for himself. Rather, he is simply unhappy to see the unhappiness of others.
sanātanas taṁ prabhum āśrayāmi . Raghunath Das Goswami is addressing Sanatan Goswami as Prabhu. Who is Prabhu? Mahaprabhu is Mahaprabhu, and Nityananda and Advaita Acarya are both Prabhus. A Prabhu is one who can give anything to any person. He should be master of all things. I may ask you, “I want a son. Please give me a son.” Can you fulfill my request? No, you cannot. But if I request you, “Give me five rupees,” you can give that. What you have, you can give. You cannot give what you don’t have. Because Sanatan Goswami can give anything we may desire, Raghunath Das Goswami has addressed him as Prabhu: “O Prabhu, you have something in your treasury which you can supply to me. Please give me rādhā-pada dāsya. You are the master of that. Prabhum āśrayāmi. I am taking shelter of your lotus feet.”
The question is raised: “We hear that Raghunath Das Goswami prays to Sri Rupa Manjari, but does he not pray to Lavanga Manjari in the same way? The answer is that he has not prayed here, but he knows that Sanatan Goswami is Lavanga Manjari. He can pray, but not everything can be written. In his mind he always prays. He has prayed to all the sakhis, and he has prayed even to Saibya, Padma and Candravali who are Radhika’s rivals – and what to speak of Lavanga Manjari.
Raghunath Das Goswami has prayed to Sakhi Sthali (the abode of Chandravali, Radhika’s chief rival), though in one way he should not do so. A man once brought buttermilk from there, and he became very furious; yet he prayed to Sakhi Sthali. He has also offered pranama to Jatila and Kotila (the mother-in-law and sister-in-law of Radhika, who ae always trying to prevent Radhika from meeting with Krishna). If Jatila and Kotila were not there, there would be no rasa.
So it must be that he also prays to Lavanga Manjari, Sanatan Goswami in his form as a manjari, but not everything can be given in writing. In Srimad-Bhagavatam we see the same thing. Only one day’s rasa has been described, and only eight days’ association of Uddhava has been given. It is stated that Uddhava stayed in Vrindavan for six or ten months, but what took place and what conversations transpired have not been written.
We should always remember all these topics, as well as the pastimes of Krishna – not only for others, but with a wish to have a relationship with Him.
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