BY: SUN STAFF
Mar 10, 2017 CANADA (SUN) Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's English introduction to "Srimad-Gaurangalila-Smaranamangal Stotram", in eight parts.
In 1896, HDG Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur published the Sri Gauranga-lila-smarana-mangala-stotram, a Sanskrit work comprised of 104 verses describing all the pastimes and teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as found in Sri Caitanya-bhagavata and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. The Thakur opened the book with an English introduction on the life and precepts of Lord Caitanya, which we present for our Sun readers in serial format, beginning today, in honour of Sri Gaura Purnima.
A FEW WORDS IN ENGLISH
The object of this little book is to bring the holy life of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his precepts to the notice of the educated and the religious people. Most of the books treating on these subjects have hitherto been printed in Bengali character. Hence the life and precepts of Chaitanya have scarcely passed beyond the boundaries of Bengal. This book has therefore been printed in Sanskrit types for circulation all over India. Our educated brethren of Europe and America have taken, of late, to the study of the Sanskrit language, and it is our belief that this brochure will go to their hands in a very short time. This book contains 104 slokas with copious commentaries. It makes a succint mention of all the anecdotes of the life of Mahaprabhu as related in the famous book, the Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krishnadas Kaviraj. The slokas from 75 to 86 inclusive will give an outline of the precepts of that great personage. With a view to help our English-knowing readers in going through the book, we have here summarized in English the contents of the work.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Mayapur in the town of Nadia, just after sunset on the evening of the 23rd Falgoon 1407 Sakabda answering to the 18th February 1485 of the Christian Era. The moon was eclipsed at the time of his birth and the people of Nadia were then engaged, as usual on such occasions, in bathing in the Bhagirathi with loud cheers of Haribol. His father Jagannath Misra was a poor Brahmin of the Vaidic order and his mother Sachi Devi was a model good woman, both descended from Brahmin stocks originally residing in Sylhet. Mahaprabhu was a beautiful child and the ladies of the town came to see him with presents. His mother's father Pandit Nilambar Chakravarti, a renowned astrologer, foretold that the child would be a great personage in time; and he, therefore, gave him the name Vishwambhar. The ladies of the neighbourhood styled him Gour Hari on account of his golden complexion and his mother called him Nimai on account of the Nim tree near which he was born. Beautiful as the lad was, every one heartily loved to see him every day. As he grew up he became a whimsical and frolicsome lad. After his fifth year, he was admitted into a pathshala where he picked up Bengali in a very short time.
Most of his contemporary biographers have mentioned certain anecdotes regarding Chaitanya which are simple records of his early miracles. It is said that when he was an infant in his mother's arms, he wept continually and when the neighbouring ladies and his mother cried Haribol, he used to stop! Thus there was a continuation of the utterance of Haribol in the house, foreshewing the future mission of the hero. It has also been stated that when his mother once gave him sweetmeats to eat, he ate clay instead of the food. His mother asking for the reason, he stated that as every sweetmeat was nothing but clay transformed, he could eat clay as well. His mother, who was also the consort of a pandit, explained that every article in a special state was adapted to a special use. Earth, while in the state of a jug, could be used as a water pot, but in the state of a brick such a use was not possible. Clay, therefore, in the form of sweetmeats was usable as food and not clay in its other states. The lad was convinced and admitted his stupidity in eating clay and agreed to avoid the mistake in future. Another miraculous act has been related. It is said that a Brahmin on pilgrimage became a guest in his house, cooked his food and read his grace with meditation of Krishna. In the meantime the lad came and ate up the cooked rice. The Brahmin astonished at the lad's act cooked again at the request of Jagannath Misra. The lad again ate up the cooked rice while the Brahmin was offering the rice to Krishna with meditation. The Brahmin was persuaded to cook for the third time. This time all the inmates of the house had fallen asleep and the lad shewed himself as Krishna to the traveller and blessed him. The Brahmin was then lost in ecstacy at the appearance of the object of his worship ! It has also been stated that two thieves stole away the lad from his father's door with a view to purloin his jewels and gave him sweetmeats on the way. The lad exercised his illussory energy and deceived the thieves back towards his own house. The thieves for fear of detection, left the boy there and fled. Another miraculous act has been described of the lad's demanding and getting from Hiranya and Jagadisha all the offerings they had collected for worshipping Krishna on the day of Eka¬dashi. When only four years of age he sat on rejected cooking pots which were considered unholy by his mother. He explained to his mother that there was no question of holiness and unholiness as regards earthen pots thrown away after the cooking was over. These anecdotes relate to the tender age up to the fifth year.
In his eighth year, he was admitted into the tol of Gangadas Pandit in Ganganagar close by the village of Mayapur. In two years he became well read in Sanskrit grammar and rhetoric. His readings after that were of the nature of self-study in his own house where he had found all important books belonging to his father who was a pandit himself. It appears that he read the Smriti in his own study and the Naya also jn competition with his friends who were then studying under the celebrated Pandit Raghunath Shiromani.
Now after the tenth year of his age, Chaitanya became a passable scholar in grammar, rhetoric, the Smriti and the Naya. It was after this that his elder brother Vishwarup left his house and accepted the asram ( status ) of a sanyashi ( ascetic ). Chaitanya though a very young boy consoled his parents saying that he would serve them with a view to please God. Just after that, his father left this world. His mother was exceedingly sorry and Mahaprabhu with his usually contented appearance consoled his widowed mother.
(To be continued…)