84 Vaishnavon ki Varta: Varta 1
SRI DAMODARDASJI HARASANI
When Sri Acharyaji entered the Land of Vraja he had Damodardasji by his side. Sri Acharyji always called him Damala and told him that he had created the Path of Grace for him alone!
In Gokul there was a Śamī tree on the Govinda Ghata [a ghata is a bathing place by the side of a holy river where the faithful might bathe/meditate etc] and Sri Mahaprabhuji lay down to take rest there under the tree. Next to that place there was a temple dedicated to Sri Dvarakanathjji. In this very place Sri Mahaprabhuji began to worry about how he would be able to fulfill the Lord’s wish for him to reunite the fallen divine souls to Him.
Sri Mahaprabhuji thought “the embodied souls are full of impurities while the Beloved is an Ocean of the best pure qualities and, therefore, to forge a relationship between them may be problematic.” He became very anxious. At that very moment the Lord appeared personally to Sri Acharyaji and asked him why he was so worried. He replied “O,my Beloved Lord. You are very aware that the nature of the embodied souls is most impure. How then can a relationship between them and Yourself be established?”
To this Sri Thakurji Himself replied, “If you bless these souls with even just the sound of My Name they will be relieved of their faults. Therefore, please accept them.”
Mahaprabhuji was anxious because in the Path of Grace the principle is to please the Lord by offering Him the very best of everything; how then to offer these mediocre souls full of impurities to Him or expect Him to accept them? Furthermore, the nature of embodied souls in this world is that if He Himself were to command the process then only the rare soul would have full faith. That is why the command came from the Lord’s own voice and the Jivas faith was certain, for the Lord stated and promised Sri Acharyaji that He would never ever abandon whomsoever entered the Brahma Sambandha relationship with Him. Thus the Lord Himself made this declaration.
All of these occurrences took place on the 11th day of the bright half of the month of Sravan at midnight. The next day was thereafter known as the “Twelth Day of the Pavitra” because Sri Mahaprabhuji made a garland of cotton strands and adorned Sri Thakurji with it. Then Sri Acharyaji wrote the letter-by-letter account of all these happenings and called it the “Siddhanta Rahasya” treatise or “The Secret Doctrine”.[translators note;-please refer to the Vraja Kishori Publications booklet “Brahma Sambandha” for the full text and explanation of this treatise]
Whilst all of this was going on, Damodarsdasji had been sleeping nearby. When he woke, Sri Acaryaji asked him whether he had heard anything in the night. Damodardasji replied that he had heard Sri Thakurji’s voice but had not understood a word. Sri Acharyaji then explained to him that Sri Thakurji had appeared to him and told him to unite the Jivas to Him through the Brahma Sambandha Process and that He would then most definitely accept those souls into His fold. Also, when Sri Mahaprabhuji gives people the Grace of letting them hear the Lord’s Name, all their innate impurities are cleansed and so the whole initiation process was very necessary.
Damodardas stated that he had heard the Lord’s words but had not understood them. In the 11th chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, it is stated that certain teachings cannot be readily understood without the Grace of the Guru.
When Damodardasji grasped this concept he became the Lords true servant; he was in the service of Sri Acharyaji and so only when Sri Acharyaji explained it was he able to understand.
From this we learn the importance of the Guru-to-disciple and Lord-to-servant relationships and gain full knowledge of this in our hearts. If Damodardasji had claimed to have understood the Lord’s words, he would have been claiming to have knowledge equal to Sri Acharyaji’s. Therefore, he said he did not understand. And then it was up to Sri Acharyaji, as his Guru, to explain it all to him, otherwise it was not even necessary for him to know.
Then Sri Acharyaji said to Damodardasji “Oh, Damala, it’s been such a long time since we talked about Sri Thakurji.”
Sri Acharyaji is here regarded as the Form of Sri Svaminji Who did not tell Her Companion Lalita Sakhi [Damalaji] every last detail about Her trysts with Her Beloved. That degree of secrecy remained unveiled, which is only appropriate. Damala understood the implication.
******PART 2 ******
Sri Acharyji thrice requested not to let Damodardasji leave his body before him. He was contemplating renouncing the world and he wanted Damodardasji to be present to teach his two young sons, Gopinathji and Sri Gusainji, and so Damodardasji had to understand the Path in its purity and entirety.
Sri Acharyaji constantly taught the Srimad Bhagavatam to Damodardasji. He made sure that all the principles of the Path and all of the secret doctrines therein were securely placed inside his heart.
Sometime after Damodardasji’s understanding had become complete, Sri Acharyaji renounced the world. Again, after some time Sri Gusainji, Sri Vitthalnathji asked Sri Acharyajis wife Sri Akkaji about the festivals within the Path. She told him to go and ask Damodardasji for, as she reassured him, he knew every detail about Sri Acharyaji’s Path.
Sri Gusainji then proceeded to Damodardasji’s home. Damodardasji received him with great respect and devotion. Sri Gusainji asked Damodardasji about the manner of service for the festivals according to Sri Acharyaji’s Path and Damodardaji explained everything to him.
Doubt may arise here as to why, when he is capable of doing, not doing and doing otherwise, Sri Acharyaji needed to ask for Sri Thakurji’s intervention.
The explanation offered here is that Damodardasji’s loving devotional mood was perfected. And Damodardasji is Sri Lalitaji’s form and thus most dear to Him.
Lalitaji is Beloved of both Sri Svaminiji and also Sri Thakurji and totally immersed in Their service. In this way, Damodardasji is attached to the sight of both Sri Acharyaji and also Sri Thakurji. This is why Sri Acharyaji said to the Beloved Lord that he would like Him to continue granting His vision to Damodardasji after he had left. Hereby it is known that Sri Acharyaji is very very loving towards Damodardasji and did not want him to suffer any grief after his departure, so he requested this kindness from Sri Thakurji.
Where it is written that Sri Acharyaji established his Path in Damodardasji’s heart for the sake of Sri Gusainji the question might arise as to why this was necessary since Sri Gusainji was also a Divine Form though a child.
This is why Sri Acharyaji stated that he founded the Path actually for Damodardasji’s own sake. The Path spread from there; so, while the Vaishnavas knew very well that Sri Gusainji, being Bindu Srishti [a direct descendent] was therefore the manifestation of Dharma itself in Gokul. They themselves are connected through the Divine word in the sound of the teachings. Therefore the Path had to be imparted to Damodardasji and then to the Vaishnavas who, as Sri Acharyaji taught, should always remember their dedication in the company of other Vaishnavas.Therefore he gave the instructions to Damodardasji first of all.
He put the Path of Devotion into the Devotees’ hearts and the Path of Love which followed attracted the Lord to always be present; the Lord within the heart and manifesting personally and where the devoted Vaishnavas are independent and full of uplifting excitations.
Once Damodardasji and Sri Gusainji were sitting together alone in a quiet place. Sri Gusainji asked Damodardasji what he felt about his father.
Damodardasji replied that he was even greater than the Lord, the ruler of the world! Sri Gusainji quizzed him as to why he thought like this. Again he replied, this time with a question, “O, Maharaj, is the gift greater or the giver of the gift?”
A person might possess much wealth but it is only ever known when it is given away. Sri Acharyaji’s greatest wealth is Sri Nathaji and he has granted this wealth to such a lowly Jiva as myself. That is why I consider him to be superior.
******PART 4 ******
Once Sri Gusainji was sitting in his Baituk [sitting place where visitors could be received].With him were a few Vaishnavas including Sri Kumbhandasji and Sri Govindadasji, and they were all playing and laughing together while Sri Gusainji was telling them jokes. Damodardasji arrived there and Sri Gusainji received him respectfully. Damodardasji bowed low before Sri Gusainji and said, “This Path is not to be taken lightly. It is very serious and the adherent must be able to tolerate the pains and sadness which may ensue.”
Sri Gusanji thanked him for reminding him of such a fact but added that a Pushtimargi Jiva would only be able to experience such Divine agony when they had been blessed by Sri Acharyaji, otherwise it was impossible. This Path, he stated, can only be known by those Blessed by Sri Acharyaji.
Damodardasji then humbly apologized for his words saying that although he knew that Sri Gusainji is the Lord, they still had to be said for that is the nature of the Path. Sri Gusainji was most pleased and told Damodardasji that he recognized that these teachings had come to him from his father through Damodardasji and that no one else could teach such matters.
Sri Gusainji told Damodardasji how happy he felt even just by seeing him and that he should please continue to speak in such a manner whenever necessary because he knew him to be his father’s servant. After this he behaved according to what Damodardasji had said because he realized the simple superiority of those words.
Here we see the reversal of the usual worldly protocol where the servant would never give instructions to the master.
And Damodardasji’s body might appear as his but he was always filled with Sri Acharyajis spirit. His every word came from Sri Acharyaji and this is why Sri Gusainji felt as if it were his father who was speaking directly to him.
On a certain day, it was time for Damodardasji to honour his father’s passing with a shraddha ceremony. Sri Gusainji attended and performed the necessary rites. When Damodardasji went to have the early afternoon sight of Sri Thakurji, Sri Gusainji then asked him for the traditional payment given to an officiating priest. Damodardasji replied that he would offer him the explanation of one and a half verses from Sri Acharyaji’s ‘Siddhanta Rahasya’ treatise.
Sri Gusainji asked him to continue, but Damodardasji said that was all, however, when Sri Gusainji kept quiet, Damodardasji elaborated on all the Path’s principles and teachings given by Sri Acharyaji in Sri Subodhinji, which is his commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam, his other works [eg.Shodush Grantha] and other private teachings.
After this, Sri Gusainji refused to let Damodardasji touch his feet because he reasoned that his father was always present in Damodardasji’s heart so how could he let him bow down to his own son? He also refused to give him the water in which his feet had been washed.
Sri Acharyaji appeared to Damodardasji and told him to continue drinking that water. Damodardasji went to Sri Gusainji the next morning and asked for some. Sri Gusainji refused, but Damodardasji told him that his father had ordered it. Then Sri Gusainji relented and granted his wish.
There is a reason and explanation for why Damodardasji was performing the shraddha ceremony for his father. By his being a devotee, his father had already been uplifted – in the Srimad Bhagavatam in the story of Prahladji and Lord Narasimha it is stated that 21 generations both past and future are saved through one member becoming a true devotee.
This is normal within the Path of Lawful Limitations. But, Damodardasji is a devotee in the Path of Grace, therefore there is absolutely no question about his father’s liberation. On the other hand, it may be said that without his father having a proper established relationship within the Path of Grace then how could he gain acceptance?
By Damodardasji’s performance of the shraddha and his relating this to Sri Gusainji, the connection was established and the father accepted therein. The Guru must cement the acceptance, and this was the process that Damodardasji initiated.
Another doubt is that he had indeed brought the acceptance from the Guru for his father, but not for all the other Vaishnavas. Here it is sure that Damodardasji is the divine foundation of all Vaishnavas and thus the shraddha that he did for his father spread to all the Pushti Vaishnava, because this Path was, as stated by Sri Acharyaji, established for Damodardasji’s sake, and, from him proceeded all the Vaishnavas.
The founding principle of the Path of Grace sprouted from here most certainly. Devotion within Grace grew from Damodardasji. Otherwise, the Devotional life within the Path of Grace cannot be grasped so quickly or easily.
Damodardasji gave the explanation of one and a half lines of Sri Acharyaji’s “Siddhanta Rahasya” treatise in payment for Sri Gusainji’s performing the rites. Sri Gusainji asked him to continue but Damodardasji refused, saying that he had vowed to just do this much. For even this small token delivers the purport of the entire Path.
The Sri Gusainji would not let Damodardasji touch the water from his feet nor bow down to him. For, he said, Damodardasji is Sri Svaminiji’s dear lady companion and that affection was best given to Her. Damodardasji did not argue with this but then Sri Acharyaji intervened and told Damodardasji that he lives in Sri Gusainji’s heart, that Sri Gusainji was his very own, manifested from himself. With this bhava [heartfelt belief] Sri Gusainji let Damodardasji drink the water from his feet, for it was really from his father and not from himself.
Till now, if a Vaishnava partakes of that water it is with the bhava that it comes from Sri Acharyaji alone.
Sri Acharyaji would grant his sight to Damodardasji every three days and explain some secrets of the Path to him. If, for some reason, Sri Acharyaji did not appear to him he would get a really bad stomach ache which could only get better when he did appear. This went on for many years, such was the Great Grace.
Damodardasji would then go and tell Sri Gusainji everything that his father had taught and thus they spoke of nothing except the Path. Sri Gusainji was very pleased with Damodardasji and always said that Sri Acharyaji was present in his heart at all times.
Damodardasji would remain immersed in the bliss of Sri Acharyaji’s presence and teaching for the three days and then when he regained his body consciousness he would become most unsettled in separation from Sri Acharyaji, who then blessed Damodardasji with his sight and sent him back to that realm of Grace filled remembrance.
Damodardasji used to sit on one half of Sri Gusainji’s throne. When Sri Acharyji noticed this, he asked Damodardasji who he thought Sri Gusainji was. He replied, “Your son”, but, Sri Acharyaji refuted this and told Damodardasji that he should recognize Sri Gusainji as being equal to himself.
One day, when Sri Gusainji was sitting in his baituk, Damodardasji came there and said, “This Path is not all about impersonal realization but about the direct Realization of the Lord’s Form.
Once when Sri Acharyaji was asleep, Sri Govardhannathji came there and told him to uplift the fallen divinely oriented souls through a Path founded on the Divine Pastimes and the purifying awakening of an enlightened heart with Love towards the Divine Beloved. Sri Acharyaji then spoke these one and a half lines [from the Siddhanta Rahasya treatise] Much has been realized from just these one and a half lines.
[The sloka states “in the bright half of the month of Shravan, at midnight, the Lord Himself appeared and now I am recounting everything that he said, letter-by-letter, that the upliftment of all the divine souls is through the establishment of a relationship with the Lord”.]
The month of Sravan may be regarded to be the Beloved spouse of the Lord. The bright half of the month belongs to the Devotees. Within these, the 11th day is special to the Lord and the number 11 signifies the purification of all the souls’ 11 senses [ten senses plus the mind].
It occurred at midnight because this is the time, within the Great Circle Dance, the Rasalila, when the Lord becomes closest to His devotees and they share that Divine Love. So this was all very clearly explained to Sri Acharyaji. The Lord then instructed Sri Acharyaji very specifically to go and initiate the Jivas into a divine relationship, the Brahma Sambandha, with Him.
After this, Damodardasji told Sri Gusainji “See, the instruction is very clear to spread this Path of Devotion. Please do so. Jivas are basically ignorant. The Brahma Sambandha Relationship removes all their impurities so please accept them in this way.”
In the one verse, the pastime was recounted and in the half verse the essence of the Path was given. Everything was included in these one and a half verses and this is why Damodardasji recounted them to Sri Gusainji who then, with Damodardasji’s help, wrote his own treatise called the ‘Sringararasamandan’.
******PART 9 ******
In the beginning Sri Acharyaji told Damodardasji that he had founded the Path of Grace for his sake. Therefore Damodardasji’s presence is subtly established in Sri Acharyaji’s Path. When Damodardasji stated that he had heard the Lord’s words but had not been able to understand them, Sri Acharyaji told him that it would take ten lifetimes for the understanding to be complete.
Sri Acharyaji established the Lord’s pastimes in Damodardasji’s heart so that the whole of creation could be uplifted. Damodardasji is the column upon which rests this Path of Grace and therefore he should be reborn over and over again in subtle form in the Path in order to keep the Path firmly established. The Path is thus perpetuated by Vallabhakuli lineage and also that of Damodardsji in order that firm faith and devotion manifests in countless Vaishnavas.
Once, Sri Acharyaji, at the site of the ‘Sundara Śilā’ [beautiful rock] also known as the ‘PūjanīŚilā’ [worshipful rock],was sleeping with his head in Damodardasji’s lap. At that time, Sri Govardhannathaji came down from His temple up on the Sri Giriraji mountain to see Sri Acharyaji.
Out of pure love for his Guru, Damodardasji requested the Lord not to approach any closer for He might wake Sri Acharyaji up with His playful character. Sri Govardhannathaji stopped in His tracks and stood here. When Sri Acharyaji woke up and saw his Beloved Lord there, he exclaimed, “O,Baba, why are You standing there? Please come closer”. The Lord came close and told Sri Acharyaji that his Damodardasji had forbidden Him from coming close in case his Guru was disturbed, therefore He had remained standing there.
Sri Acharyaj berated Damodardasji for stopping Him in His tracks. The Lord intervened saying, “He was only doing his duty as he should have done.”
Sri Acharyaji took Sri Govardhannathaji in His lap and touched His cheeks whilst asking Him His wishes. The Beloved Lord told him that He really loves cows. So Sri Acharyaji asked Sadhu Pande to purify a cow through Vedic rites and then bring her there. He bought the cow from that Vrajavasi, and presented her to Sri Govardhannathaji.