Writings

Day 5 – 9th November, Vrindavan Town – by Syamarani devi dasi

We had some rest in the morning, recovering from yesterday’s 11 hours of walking.  We met at the Samadhi of Srila Prabhupada at about 4pm and we set of on rickshas to the Radha Gokulananda temple.  The samadhi of Lokanatha Goswami is in the samadhi garden and Guru Maharaj said that this was a very important samadhi in Vrindavana. Lokanatha Goswami was sent by Lord Caitanya many years before the 6 Goswamis.  Lokanatha Goswami and Bhugarbha Goswami were the first followers of Lord Caitanya to come to  Vrindavana. They were responsible for researching and locating the pastime places. Lokanatha Goswami was very close to Lord Caitanya.  Sometimes he was called the 7th Goswami.  His main and only disciple was Srila Narotama Das Thakur (big white pushpa samadhi).  When Narotama Das Thakur came to Vrindavana, he
was impressed by Lokanatha Goswami and he felt this is the person I want to accept as my spiritual master.  Before he approached him he spoke to other devotees who told him that Lokanatha Goswami vowed never to accept any disciples.  Even when Lord Caitanya spoke to him he told Lord Caitanya that he was not accepting disciples and Lord Caitanya accepted that.  The devotees told Narotama Das Thakur to choose someone else.  Narotama Das Thakur was completely determined that even if I am not accepted officially, I will live as his disciple and I will serve him as a disciple.  Lokanatha Goswami was living right here!  He used to get up early, go to the Yamuna to bathe.  When he left, Narotama Das Thakur used to come and tidy everything.
When Lokanatha Goswami used to return, he used to know someone was here. When he used to go back to the river later in the day – everything there was cleaned up as well – even the place where he passed stool.  This was going on for weeks and then months and Lokanatha Goswami could not catch this person.  One day he waited and he saw it was Narotama Das Thakur.  Narotama approached him and asked him for shelter and Lokanatha Goswami agreed. Lokanatha Goswami worshipped a particular deity, Radha Vinodh.  This is a
prathibu deity (replacement deity) and it is non-different from the original deity.  Guru Maharaj said we will get darshan of the original deity in Jaipur when we go there on 22 November.  He also mentioned the original
deities of Madan Mohan, Radha Govinda and Radha Gopinatha were also in Jaipur and if we took darshan of all 3 deities between sunrise and sunset on 1 day – we get Krishna prema.  We were thrilled at this  statement.  The deity of just Krishna was found at that time.  He was a small deity and he was kept in his bead bag.  He used to chant japa massaging this deity.  Guru Maharaj said this was not recommended unless you get permission from the spiritual master and provided we finish our 16 rounds first.  Narotama Das
Thakur joined with Srinivas Acarya and Syamananda Pandit to be the next generation of gaudiya vaishnavas after the 6 Goswamis.  Narotama Das was famous for many things.  He wrote many wonderful songs like Guru Vandana, Sri Rupa Manjari Pada, Je Anilo.  He organised the first Gaura Purnima festival about 20-30 years after Lord Caitanya left this world.  They were celebrating the festivals but not in a very big way.

Once Narotama went from here to his home town in Ketauri in Bengal.  He invited devotees from all over – thousands of devotees.  They all arrived in Ketauri.  On Gaura Purnima day Narotama started a kirtan at around the same time that we were listening to this or earlier (about 5pm).  He introduced the style of kirtan that we are used to – begins slow, builds up until going fast, then slow again.  Narotama Das was an amazing musician and his disciples were also top musicians.  They had amazing kirtans and bhajans in
“binding” style.   Lord Caitanya used to have bhajans in Navadwip before he left home and it used to start at 9pm.  He changed the style of kirtan to “unbinding” style.  In the kirtan and bhajan sessions in separation from Lord Caitanya after he left Navadvip, the devotees were out of control in ecstacy, rolling in the sand, crying so much tears the ground became mud. There were many atheists and materialists who wanted to have a good laugh “oh look at these Hare Krishna’s – hari hari bol!” but even they became overwhelmed and this kirtan built up to such an extent, Lord Caitanya, Lord Nityananda, Advaita Acarya, the 6 Goswamis, Ramananda Roy and Sarva Bhauma Bhattacarya appeared before the devotees at midnight and then suddenly
disappeared.  There was a big change in the festival.  Narotama Das Thakur’s main disciple was Ganga Narayana Chakravati (his samadhi is the one with the green cage).  Narotama Das Thakur was from a ksatriya family.  People took the caste system very seriously.  In India today, some people still take the caste system very seriously.  Guru Maharaj joked that most want to change the caste system to American.  Ganga Narayana Chakravati was a big Brahmin, a category of Brahmin who knows all the rules and regulations.  When he became the disciple of Narotama Das Thakur, many other important Brahmins, the strict class Brahmins, did not like that at all.  The questioned “who is this Ganga Narayana?”  He is just a ksatriya, a low caste and they often did things to embarrass and discredit him.  One time a big pundit scholar (deegvijay pundit – one who is victorious in all the different directions) defeated all the other scholars in all directions.  This was what people did in those days – debated and argued about sastra.  Guru Maharaj said “what do people do at night these days?…watch TV!  We question “how did they live?…was there life before TV?”  Do we read sastra on a Saturday?  They used to have debates.  During their big events, scholars came and cheered – we want out scholar to win!  These days, it is Man United – those days it was Vijay Pundit.  This deegvijay was engaged to find Narotama Das Thakur, debate with him and defeat him.  Ganga Narayana Chakravati arranged a special strategy to bewilder these people.  He gathered all the big Brahmins who were disciples of Narotama Das Thakur.  They all spoke Sanskrit.  They went to the place where this party would enter Ketauri.  They asked all the shopkeepers if they could take over their shops for a little while.  These
shopkeepers are illiterate, simple folk.  These scholarly Brahmins were sitting in their kiosks.  In came deegvijay and his team of scholars.  One of the scholars approached Ganga Narayana Chakravati and thinking he is simple, spoke to him in village Bengali asking where can we find Narotama Das Thakur?  Ganga Narayana Chakravati replied in perfect Sanskrit – why do you want to meet with him?  The scholar was bewildered but replied “our leader wants to meet with him”.  Ganga Naryana asked “what about?” in
perfect Sanskrit.  Now the other shopkeepers came out to speak with the other scholars asking what points their leader wanted to discuss, etc.  They started debating and they destroyed these other scholars.  The scholars of deegvijay asked “where did you learn this?”  They said “from Narotama Das Thakur”.  They reported back to the deegvijay saying that if the little shopkeepers were big scholars, what would Narotama Das Thakur be like?  We better get out of here.  The deegvijay looked at his watch and said “I just remembered that I have an important appointment to go to immediately.  He never came back.  Ganga Narayan Chakravati was a very special devotee.  In the corner there is the samadhi of Srila Visvanatha Chakravati Thakur.  He wrote many amazing things – Srimad Bhagvatam and Bhagavat Gita commentaries,
some very important songs – Guruvastakam.  Guru Maharaj stressed that this is a rich place as many great souls are present here and we should offer our humble obeisances.  We then had darshan of the temple.  The deities are Lord Caitanya (worshipped by Narotama Das Thakur), Radha Vinodh, Radha Vijay Govinda (worshipped by Baladev Vidyabhushana), Krishna deity on his own is Gokulananda (worshipped by Srila Visvanatha Chakravati Thakur) and Lord Caitanya’s original Govardhan sila.  The top of the sila has Lord Caitanya’s thumb print.  He worshipped the sila everyday.  He used to massage the sila so hard that there was an indent on the sila.

We then set of for Radha Gopinatha temple.  After Lord Krishna had left the world, his great grandson Vajranabha wanted to instal deities in the world and establish pastime places.  But the problem was that very few people who were still living saw Krishna.  Uttara was the only one living who had seen Krishna.  Uttara came to see the first deity that he carved and he asked “does this look like Krishna?”  She said yes, it looks just like Krishna up to the waist (Madan Mohana).  She came to see the second deity that he carved and he asked “does this look like Krishna?”  She said yes, it looks just like Krishna up to the neck (Govindaji).  Then she same to see the third deity that he carved and he asked “does this look like Krishna?”  She said yes, it is perfect.  It looks just like Krishna from head to toe (Gopinatha).  In the time of Lord Caitanya one associate was particularly close to Gopinatha.  She was Mother Jahnava, the wife of Lord Nityananda. She was always absorbed in remembering and worshipping Gopinatha and finally at the end when Mother Jahnava was doing service for Gopinatha at the old temple she went behind the curtains and never came out.  The curtains were
opened later on but she was not there.  She is with Gopinatha.  On the alter in the new temple where we were, on Krishna’s right is Srimati Radharani and on Krishna’s left is mother Jahnava.  In Krishna lila, Mother Jahnava is Ananga Mohini, the younger sister of Srimati Radharani.  Lalita and Lord Nityananda are also on the alter.  Guru Maharaj took us to the old temple where Mother Jahnava disappeared – it is very nearby.  She went onto the altar and then back to Lord Gopinatha in Goloka Vrindavana.  On the alter we see Lord Caitanya carrying a flute exactly like in the engraving right above the alter door.

We went to Sri Gopalji temple.  Here Lord Caitanya is in his saath bhuja form – two hands holding the flute (Lord Krishna), two hands holding the bow (Lord Rama) and two hands holding the water pot and sannyasi staf (Lord Caitanya).  We went on to the Shaji temple.  This temple is not visited often despite its magnificence.  It is owned by the relatives of those who had built the Radha Raman temple.  They wanted to move Radha Raman here. This temple is very beautiful and it was purpose built but Radharani did not want to come therefore they installed other deities – Radha Raman Vasant Panchami.  Each pillar in this temple is built of a single piece of marble. Once in a year the deities are placed in a room with many, many lights and
chandeliers all over and they have a light show – which is European palace style.  That room is only opened for 1 or 2 days in a year.  Guru Maharaj attempted to get us to see the room but we were asked to pay Rs100 per person so we decided to skip that darshan.

Our last stop for the evening was Sri Sri Radha Shyamsunder mandir.  This is one of the 7 main temples in Vrindavana, like the Radha Gopinatha and Radha Gokulananda temples.  These deities were worshipped by Shyamananda Pandit. There was a wedding ceremony taking place, the wedding ceremony of  Tulasi Devi and Saligram Sila.  Guru Maharaj asked us to circumambulate the wedding pandal and give a wedding present.  The mood was really sweet.  That brought and end to our day’s parikrama and we returned to the Krishna Balarama Mandir.  Tomorrow we set of for our first japa retreat in Badrinatha. Sounds like it will be a little more relaxed with not much walking (we hope).

Your servant
Syamarani devi dasi

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