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Srila B S Govinda Maharaja Appearance Day Celebrations 2014/12/08

My coming to the Math — Sri Nrsimha Chaturdasi 1947

 

His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj reflects on the events that surrounded his first days at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math at the lotus feet of His Divine Master, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj. This talk was given 50 years after the event, here at the Math.

 

My birth place was Bamunpara, known in former times as Brahmanpara, as you have seen when you visited there recently. I studied at the village school, and later went to school at Putsuri. Presently my father sold the property at Bamunpara and bought a new house in Rangpur, so we left this district to move there. My maternal uncle and his family lived in Rangpur. They were very wealthy and they invited my mother and father to settle there. At the time the political tension was building up to the inevitable division between India and Pakistan which eventually came in 1947. Then my father died in Rangpur and my family and I returned to my native Bamunpara.

 

The responsibility then came to me to support my family. In order to do so it was necessary for me to receive training and learn some kind of profession. So I went to train in a small charitable dispensary cum hospital. If it still exists I do not know. Doctors and nurses were in very short supply there – there was only one doctor and one nurse in attendance and then myself. At that time it was unwritten law that if you took training from a doctor for between five and ten years you would be accepted as a doctor in your own right. So, to this purpose I would go daily to two separate dispensaries, two kilometres apart from each other. In each place I would open the dispensary, whereupon someone would come and clean and prepare everything for the days work.

After the doctor came and was attending the patients I would take that opportunity for recreation and go to play football. This was my regular daily routine. Afterwards, sometimes I would go back to the hospital and sometimes back to the village of Nadanghat where I would stay at a big zamindar’s house. He was a big landlord and consequently also very rich. He and his family liked me. It is my good fortune that everywhere people liked me. Nadanghat is situated 12 km from Nabadwip and about 15 km from Bamunpara.

After playing football in the evenings I would relax with my friends and eat some supper, which often included channa (fried curd) and sak (spinach). Then together we would go back to that big zamindar’s house to read. In those days I would read novels, and at night I would often sleep in the reading room.

 

One day a group of sadhus came from this Math, four or five of them. I first saw them at about 7.30 in the evening. They sang kirttans and then gave a discourse on Srimad-Bhagavatam. I was drawn to them. One of the sadhus appeared to be especially exalted. He had a very saintly body.

As he was giving a lecture about Srimad-Bhagavatam he reminded me of Srinivas Acharyya lecturing in the assembly of King Birhambir. Previously I had read much Vaisnava literature, and was familiar with the story of Raja Birhambir. He was a dacoit chief prior to becoming a disciple of Srinivas Acharyya. Have you heard of these events? Anyhow, that exalted sadhu appeared to be exactly like Srinivas Acharyya giving his discourse.

There were so many people there, maybe a hundred listening to his lecture. Sitting amongst them were three or four zamindars who were known to me, all of them dacoits. Although they were dacoits, nonetheless they were like grandfathers to me. I would constantly joke with them and tease them, and sometimes even chastise them very much, and they liked me for it. Somehow they relished my chastisement.

After hearing the very revolutionary lecture delivered beautifully by this brahmachari I was very impressed. It was not like the usual lectures given by roaming ‘goswamis’ and after hearing it, I was so attracted. So the next day I returned.

I had played mrdanga drums from a very early age, and I was well able to sing songs, so I had some capacity in this way. When I arrived they were singing “Vande guroh sri charanaravindam” and I asked if I could join them and play the mrdanga. They were surprised at my request as I was just a village boy, but they gave the mrdanga and I played. They were very impressed.

At that time I held the position of a professional singer, but that’s another story. My father was a very famous professional singer of Vaisnava songs, kirttans, etc. He was very famous in that district and other districts also, and through him I inherited many songs. He died when I was fourteen years old. Not everybody knew that my father, being a professional singer leading a large sankirttan group, had to be paid in order to maintain it. He would ask 200-250 Rs, which was quite a lot at that time.

 

One day I saw my uncle sitting on the veranda crying. He was very strong and a stick fighter. Indeed he was a famous stick fighter, so it was very unusual for him to be in such a state. After seeing this I asked my uncle why he was crying. He then told me a call had just come for my father to sing at a particular function, but the caller did not know that my father had already passed away. That had touched my uncle’s heart and caused his sadness.

My Uncle said that the person would call back but he had no one to sing in my father’s place. I told my uncle that there was a solution and he could take the call. He seemed surprised. “Who will sing these songs?” he asked me. I told him, “I can sing them.” My uncle had never heard me sing before and he asked me how I had come to know these songs, because at that time I was too young to hear the songs about the Madhura-Rasa pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. My father would not permit me to sing such kirttans because my father thought me, at such a young age, to be unqualified. I was not even allowed to listen to songs of such a high type. Nonetheless, I was very much attracted. So, whenever my father would go to sing, I would follow him and hide in a nearby rice paddy field where I was able to hear him sing these songs. Sometimes it would take him a whole month to fulfil all the invitations in a particular village.

I was very much addicted to the songs of Radha-Krishna, and at that time my memory was very fresh and I was able to memorise every song he sang. Also, every day my father would give lessons to some students, while I pretended to read a little distance away. Instead of reading I would listen to him teaching. In this way I became qualified.

I explained this to my uncle. Although he was very surprised he called me to his house to sing a ‘heavy’ song. I sang it fully, and he cried again and embraced me. He now knew that he would be able to take the phone call and tell them, “Yes, my brother is not here, but my brother’s son will fulfil your appointment.”

It was so far away from here – about 30 km. In this way my first assignment as a professional singer began. After that I travelled to so many villages and sang so many songs. In this way also I was able to gain more experience and knowledge.

 

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Srila Locana Das Thakur's Appearance Day Celebrations 2014/12/20

Srila Lochana Das Thakura appeared in this world in 1520 A.D., thirty-four years after the appearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Lochana Das wrote a biography on Lord Chaitanya, entitled Sri Chaitanya Mangala, and he wrote many devotional songs.

 

Srila Lochana das Thakura took birth in a family of Rarhiya physicians who resided in the village of Kogram, within the Mahakumar (Katna) district of Barddhaman. His guru was Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura.

 

His father’s name was Sri Kamalakara Dasa and his mother’s name, Sri Sadananda. He was the only son of his parents. He was raised in his maternal grandfather’s home and his education was completed there. He was married at a very young age. From his youth he was much attached to Sri Gaurasundara and consequently very disinterested in material life, though he was surrounded by family, friends and society. In his youth he spent the major part of his time at his guru’s Sripat, Srikhanda, where he learned how to do kirtana.

 

Lochana Das was married at a very early age, according to the customs of that time. Since he had been married so young, his wife first remained with her parents in the village of Amedpur Kakuta. As he grew older, Lochana showed a highly renounced attitude to life and spent all his time discussing Krishna katha with other devotees of Gauranga. As the time approached when his wife was to join him, her family began to worry because of Lochana Das's indifference to material life. They approached his guru Narahari Sarkar and told him of their disquiet. As a result, Narahari ordered Lochana Das to go to his in-laws' home. When Lochana arrived in Amedpur, he was unable to remember where their house was, since it had been so long since he had visited. He asked a young girl in the street for directions, addressing her as "ma", or "mother". When he arrived at his in-laws' house, he found out that the girl whom he had addressed as "mother" was in fact his wife. From that day on, he always looked upon his wife as a mother, worshiping Guru and Gauranga in an attitude of renunciation. 

 

He composed Sri Chaitanya Mangala from the diary of Sri Murari Gupta. Murari Gupta, who resided at Nadia, composed many beautiful verses about the life of Sri Gauranga. These include the youthful pastimes of Nimai, which Murari Gupta personally took part in, and His later pastimes in Nilachala, after He accepted sannyasa, which were narrated by Sri Damodara Pandita. Having heard these verses of Murari Gupta, composed in Sanskrit, Lochana das says... "I have become very attracted and so I have composed them in the village folk poetry meter of Bengali.” In East Bengal there are many village poets, who sing in various meters known as Laksmir Panchali, Sanir Panchali and Manasa Bhasan. Lochana Das Thakura has composed Sri Chaitanya Mangala in the meter of these folk poems. Panchali contains five various kinds of meters.

 

Sri Vrindavana Dasa Thakura’s composition on the pastimes of Sri Gaurasundara was originally entitled Chaitanya Mangala, but later on the name was changed to Chaitanya-bhagavata. Those pastimes which were not described in full by Srila Vrindavana Dasa Thakura, Lochana Dasa has described in his Chaitanya Mangala. In the invocation of this work, he has first offered his obeisances to Srila Vrindavana Dasa Thakura, “Whose Chaitanya-bhagavata has enamored the entire world.”

 

In his Chaitanya Mangala, Srila Lochana Das Thakura has written: "My hope of hopes is to be near the lotus feet of Sri Narahari Thakura, to serve and worship him with my very life. The cherished desire of the fallen Lochana Dasa is to be allowed by the grace of Narahari to sing the glories of Sri Gauranga. My Lord is Sri Narahari Thakura and I am his servant. Bowing and praying before him I beg him to allow me his service. This is my only aspiration."

 

Lochana Dasa Thakura wrote Chaitanya Mangala which tells many pastimes of Lord Chaitanya not revealed by Vrindavana Dasa Thakura or Krishna Dasa Kaviraja. He mentions an especially touching conversation Sri Gaurasundara had with Vishnupriya Devi the night before He took sannyasa. Being a talented musician, Lochana Dasa told Mahaprabhu's pastimes in beautiful poetry filled with fire and rhythm. Common people could easily understand the divine character of Sri Chaitanya and awaken their religious feelings. As devotees regularly chant the Vedic epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, Gaudiya Vaishnavas still wander through Bengal reciting the Chaitanya Mangala.

Srila Jagadish Pandit Appearance Day Celebrations 2015/01/08

"Jagadish Pandit was the savior of the world. He was a monsoon cloud of Krishna prema, pouring showers of mercy upon everyone." (Chaitanya-charitamrta)
 
   Jagadish Pandit and his brother, Mahesh, lived near Jagannatha Mishra in Shridhama Mayapur. One Ekadashi day baby Nimai was crying constantly. He stopped after taking Maha-prasadam rice in Jagadish Pandit's home. Then Nimai performed a miracle. Jagadish Pandit swooned in ecstasy upon seeing baby Gauranga manifest a beautiful form with a monsoon cloud blue complexion, shining like lightning, and adorned with a shimmering peacock feather.
 
   After moving to Shri Kshetra Dhama (Jagannatha Puri) , Lord Gaurachandra asked Jagadish to come help spread the Hari Nama sankirtana movement. Taking Lord Jagannatha's permission, Jagadish Pandit took a Deity of Jagannatha back to Nadia to worship in his village of Yashora.
 
   In Krishna's nitya-lila Jagadish Pandit serves as the dancer Chandrahasa, or a naga-patni (wife of Kaliya). 

Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami Appearance Day Celebrations 2015/12/08

Shri Gopala Bhatta Goswami (the son of a Vyenkata Bhatta, a Shri Vaishnava brahmana) appeared in Shri Rangam, South India. Lord Chaitanya once stayed four months in his home, and converted the family to Gaudiya Vaishnavism. A mere boy at this time, Gopala personally served the Lord. Shri Chaitanya treated him affectionately giving His remnants and blessings to' become an acharya.

 

   During His four month stay, Lord Chaitanya developed a close friendship with Vyenkata Bhatta, which Krishna Dasa Kaviraja describes as "sakhya rasa." Freely conversing with each other, they would often laugh and joke together. One day in a humorous mood Lord Chaitanya asked Vyenkata:

 

   "Why does your worshipable goddess of fortune, Shri Lakshmidevi, abandon the happiness of Vaikuntha and her service to Her Lord Narayana? Why does she go to Vrindavana and perform severe austerities to attain the association of My Lord Gopala, the cowherd boy of Vraja?"

 

On pilgrimage he obtained twelve Shalagrama shilas. Later the Damodara shila manifested Himself as the beautiful Radha Ramana Deity. Since 1542, Radha Ramanaji has been worshiped with pure devotion following precise sastric rituals.

 

  Lord Chaitanya ordered Gopala Bhatta to write a book to check the spread of pseudo-loving rasas and negligence to vaidhi bhakti. In corroboration with Shri Sanatana Goswami he compiled the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, the authorized book explaining the ritual and devotional practices of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. He also wrote Sat-kriya-dipika and the outline for Shri Jiva Goswami's Sat Sandarbhas.

 

He eternally serves Shrimati Radharani as one of Her asta manjaris, Guna-manjari. His samadhi is within Radha Ramanaji's Temple compound behind the appearance place of the Deity. Shri Gopala Bhatta Goswami initiated Gopinatha (Pujari Goswami), a lifelong brahmachari who served Radha Ramanaji for his whole life. Gopala Bhatta Goswami initiated Shrinivasa Acharya and many other stalwart Vaishnavas.