Sri Bhakti Ratnakara, Part 111

BY: SUN STAFF

Sri Krsna Caitanya Sankirtana
Hand-colored Lithograph, Calcutta, c. 1876


Mar 12, 2017 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of Sri Bhakti Ratnakara by Srila Narahari Cakravarti Thakur.

Chapter Ten


Installation of the deities by Srinivasa Prabhu

Early in the morning everyone went to the temple to see the beautiful deities. They mahantas assembled in the courtyard of Sri Gauranga wearing new clothes and decorated with tilaka on eight parts of their body. They took their respective seats and Sri Jahnava took her seat in a separate place.

Srinivasa Acarya and Narottama were pleased with the well decorated area and Mahaprabhu's companions gave permission for Srinivasa to start the ceremonial bathing of the deities. Srinivasa bowed to the Mahantas and other Vaisnavas before he began the rituals and carefully installed each of the six deities on his own throne. According to the wish of the Lord he announced the names of the deities as Sri Gauranga, Sri Vallabhi Kanta, Sri Braja Mohana, Sri Krsna, Sri Radha Kanta and Sri Radha Ramana. The mahantas shed tears as they observed the beauty of the six deities, and even the demigods in heaven showered flowers down. The name of Sri Hari resounded and the musicians began to play the different instruments. The brahmins uttered hymns from the Vedas while Srinivasa carefully dressed the deities in gorgeous clothes. He offered scented sandal paste and flower garlands to Mahaprabhu. After performing the ceremony of worship for the deities, Srinivasa arranged for an offering of lamps before the deities. The mahantas called out the name of Hari and prostrated themselves on the ground before the Lords. Narottama composed a verse by which he paid his respects to the deities by singing the names of Gauranga, Vallabhi Kanta, Sri Krsna, Vraja Mohan, Radha Raman, and Radha Kanta.

Although the courtyard had insufficient space, many hundreds of people assembled in the temple to watch the offering of lamps. After that offering Srinivasa Acarya offered many tasteful food preparations to the deities, placing each in a different utensil. He then offered water for washing and betel leaves for chewing. He offered the deities flower garlands and sandal paste and then fanned them with a chamara. When he opened the door of the temple, the sweet scent from the body of the Lord filled the entire courtyard. Everyone was overwhelmed by the shining glow from the bodies of the Lords. Even Srinivasa lost control of his emotions seeing the beauty of the deities and fell on the ground to pay obeisances. He bowed humbly at the feet of the companions of Mahaprabhu and embraced them all with tears of joy. He lay prostrate at the feet of Sri Iswari who affectionately ordered to distribute the offered garlands and sandal paste to the assembled devotees. Srinivasa carried each garland in a different vessel and offered them all to the companions of Mahaprabhu. Sri Isvari ordered Nrsimha Caitanya to offer the garlands to Srinivasa, Narottama and their followers. Sri Isvari was so overwhelmed by the touch of the garland and sandal paste that she lost control of her emotions.

San Kirtana of Thakura Narottama and his followers

Sri Jahnava Isvari stared continuously at Narottama, infusing him with spiritual power beyond the comprehension of common men. The son of Advaita Acarya, Sri Acyuta nanda, blessed Thakura Narottama and the mahantas gave him their permission to begin the san kirtana. The companions of Narottama were all expert in singing, dancing and musical instruments.

Devidasa, who sat on the left side of Narottama, started by stroking the sweet mardala. The other musical instruments joined in, each one seeming to speak in sweet words. Narottama led the kirtana and Sri Vallabha dasa and others repeated each line in turn. Sri Gauranga dasa and others played other instruments and sang in a pitch. There are two methods of kirtana, namely unbinding and binding. Sri Gokula sang the first method and his sweet voice impressed everyone. The audience was mesmerized by the dramatic performance and the musicians.

Surrounded by his musicians, Narottama looked like the moon surrounded by stars. During the kirtana Narottama and the other singers absorbed themselves in thoughts of Caitanya, Nityananda and Advaita, dedicating themselves to the mercy of those Lords. By their tuning, volume, scale and modulation, the ragas and raginis they sang seemed to take life. The depth of their songs increased the tempo of the intrumentalists and as the volume of the song increased so also the pleasure of the Vaisnavas increased. Khandavasi Sri Raghunandana offered sandal paste and flower garlands to the Srikhola and Karatala, the personal instruments of Mahaprabhu, and then embraced Narottama and the other singers in a wave of emotion. He garlanded Narottama and each singer and they in turn bowed to him.

Thereafter Narottama changed to the binding style of kirtana which explained the mental condition of Nadia Candra observed in the mood of Sri Radhika. The singers themselves became emotional during their performance and this heightened the ecstasy of the audience. Sri Jahnava Iswari cried when she listened to the song describing the spiritual and devotional qualities of Sri Gaura. Sri Acyuta nanda, Sripati, Srinidhi and others lost control of their emotions and shivered in ecstasy.

People discussed the kirtana recital of Narottama in various ways. One person appreciated most the way Narottama expressed the inner meaning of each song. Another person appreciated the overall masterful presentation. One person said that Narottama had attempted to duplicate the method of kirtana enjoyed by Mahaprabhu at the house of Svarupa Damodara in order to attract Mahaprabhu himself to the kirtana. Another man agreed that Mahaprabhu must be enjoying the kirtana with his beloved companions. One devotee expressed his inner desire to see the Lord and his companions manifest within the sankirtana. They all appreciated the quality of the kirtana with its fine tuning, meaning and rhythm, saying that the Gandharvas and Kannaras should be ashamed of their songs.

During the kirtana recital, demigods from heaven poured flowers on the singers. Narada and other famous saints and ascetics came in disguise from heaven to attend the kirtana. Even the animals, birds, snakes and other creatures were mesmerised by the songs. As the ocean of sankirtana little by little overflowed its banks, the people in the sankirtana pavilion forgot their own existence and bathed in the tears from their eyes.

The manifestation of Mahaprabhu in the sankirtana pavilion While listening to the sankirtana Lord Gaura Rai decided to reveal himself clearly in that place. Within that pavilion Caitanya Nityananda Sri Advaita and other companions were suddenly manifest like lightning within a cloud. Charming the universe with their appearance, they became the precious jewels of the sankirtana. This pastime of Mahaprabhu enjoying and participating in sankirtana was beyond the comprehension of even Lord Brahma and other demigods. The audience was enchanted by the beautiful dresses and graceful gestures of those divine beings. In the midst of the sankirtana they danced gracefully in time with the increasing beat of the musical instruments. Mahaprabhu's indescribable dance in that kirtana seemed to shower love throughout the world. Sri Nityananda's dance caused the world to tremble while Sri Advaita Candra danced like a mad lion and roared in joy. Pandita Gadadhara danced jovially with Srinivasa. The joyful dancing of Srivasa Pandita, Murari Gupta, Vakresvara, Haridasa Thakura, Svarupa Gosvami, Dasa Gadadhara, Rai Ramananda, Vasudeva Sarvabhauma and Vidya Vachaspati lifted the people out of their sorrows and miseries. Acyuta Nanda danced with tears of joy flowing from his eyes while the dance of Mukunda, Sri Narahari, Sri Raghunandana, Gauridasa Pandita, Sripati, Sri Nidhi, Govinda, Madhava and Vasu Ghosh enchanted the world. Hundreds and thousand of people participated in that dance including Mukunda, Sri Acarya Pundara, Vasudeva Dutta, Brahmacari Suklambara, Sriman Pandita, Yadu, Sri Mukunda Dutta, Sri Madhusudana, Sri Natha, Mahesa, Sridhara, Sankara, Jagadish, Sri Yadunandana, Kasiwara, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta, Rupa, Sanatana, Sri Nakula Brahmacari, Dhanajaya, Vipra Vaninatha, Sikhi, Kanai, Vijaya, Suryadasa, Sri Nrsimha, Hrdaya Caitanya, Syamananda, Srinivasa, Sri Narottama and others. Even the demigods and Gandharvas danced with them.

Gauracandra loves his disciples and thus he fulfilled the desires of Srinivasa and Narottama by appearing before them during the sankirtana. When he embraced Srinivasa and Narottama he softly told them something confidential which others could not hear. Then Mahaprabhu and his companions disappeared, leaving his disciples in utter despair. Their pitiful lamentation broke the hearts of all who witnessed the scene.

The sudden appearance and disappearance of Mahaprabhu within that sankirtana created a sense of despair amongst the entire audience. Upon the disappearance of the Lord, people were struck by the reality of their miserable lives and in disappointment they lamented piteously. One person cried out for Mahaprabhu while another looked everywhere, trying to find Sri Advaita or Nityananda. Someone else longed for another sight of Sri Pandita Gadadhara while still another asked for Haridasa and Vakresvara. One person called out for Srivasa and Murari while another asked about Sri Mukunda and Narahari. One devotee wanted to see Gauridasa and Gadadhara while another looked for Sri Svarupa Damodara. At last they all abandoned hope, rolling on the ground and crying loudly because they would never see Mahaprabhu and his companions again. Tears flowed so profusely that the ground became muddy. Even heretics who had come to the sankirtana only for fun also began to cry. Lifting their hands high in the air, they prayed to Mahaprabhu to protect them from sin and misery.

When Sripati, Srinivasa and others regained their external senses they could not believe that they had actually enjoyed the association of the Lord. The people in the audience were also amazed by the vision they had seen. Srinivasa and Narottama explained to them that they had been witness to another lila of Mahaprabhu and that the Lord's pastimes are always beyond the comprehension of the laymen. Sri Jahnava Iswari confirmed this by saying that Mahaprabhu had fulfilled the great desires of his beloved devotees and Narottama by appearing in living form during their sankirtana. By this appearance Mahaprabhu had delivered many heretics from sin and damnation and lifted mankind out of its ocean of sorrow.

Jahnava Iswari ordered Srinivasa Acarya to inaugurate the Fagukhela program. Srinivasa at once brought different kinds of faga, put them into different containers and mixed them with perfumes. On the request of Sri Iswari Srinivasa and Narottama first approached the mahantas for permission to begin the Fagukhela program. Having received their permission Srinivasa first put fagu in different utensils keeping the faga made of the pollen of flowers in a separate container, and offered both of the kinds of faga to Sri Isvari. She took the containers and offered them at the feet of Mahaprabhu. Thereafter all the devotees enthusiastically played with the faga. Some of them smeared faga on the body of Mahaprabhu and could not look away from his beauty. They offered faga to Sri Vallabhi Kanta, Sri Vraja Mohan, Sri Radha Krsna, Sri Radha Kanta and Sri Radha Raman and then were overwhelmed by the deity of the deities. The Vaisnavas themselves became beautiful as they smeared faga on one another until their bodies were bright and colorful. As they played someone sang songs of the fagukhela of Radha and Krsna. By the wish of Mahaprabhu the Fagukhela was an enjoyable festival in which the demigods mingled with the devotees in order to take part.

In the evening the Fagukhela ended and the devotees offered lamps to the deities and then held sankirtana. Thereafter the great Vaisnavas took their seats in the courtyard of Mahaprabhu's temple and requested Sri Acarya to perform the rituals of the birthday ceremony of Mahaprabhu. Srinivasa bowed to them and gladly entered the temple where the priests enthusiastically arranged for the necessary ingredients for the function.

In individual utensils they placed many medicinal things and gave them to Sri Acarya. Acarya Thakura carefully removed the dress of Sri Gauranga, covered the Lord's body with a white cloth and placed him on another throne. Certain scriptural injunctions exist in observing the birthday ceremony of Sri Krsna and those same injunctions were observed in honoring Gauranga for Gauranga and Krsna are the same Supreme Personality but in separate forms.

As the ceremony commenced the brahmins recited hymns from the Vedas and the chronicles sang about the character of Mahaprabhu. Singers from different countries sang songs describing the Nadia Vihara of Mahaprabhu. Instrumentalists played their respective instruments and dancers accompanied the songs. Whoever observed the ceremony was very fortunate.

Some people said that the day of Phalgun Punima was so auspicious that whoever observed the holy day would certainly get the mercy of Gaura candra. Other people acknowledged with astonishment that Kheturi was lit brilliantly by the rays of the moon. Still others said that the moon personified had come to enjoy the special function. Still others felt that the companions of Mahaprabhu were themselves as brilliant as the moon. Although the official rituals came to an end, the great Vaisnavas continued their kirtana and thus passed the entire night.

At last their kirtana ended and they observed the mangala aratika of Mahaprabhu. Then, in their own houses, they performed their routine morning duties such as personal bathing and religious prayers. Sri Jahnava Isvari also finished her bathing and her morning prayers and feeling fully satisfied she enthusiastically cooked many foodstuffs and offered each to Gauranga, Vallabhi Kanta and the other deities. Srinvasa invited the mahantas to observe the arati for the deities, and all of the deities assembled in the courtyard of the Sri Gauranga Mandir. They were enchanted by the beauty of the Lord, his attractive posture, the tilaka on his forehead, arms and chest and his beautiful new clothes. Their eyes were soothed by darshan of the Lord. After the aratika the priest offered tulasi garlands from Mahaprabhu to each of the mahantas. They priests then took Mahaprabhu to his bed to rest and fanned him with a camara. When the Lord was resting, The priests came out of the temple and closed the door behind him. The Mahantas paid their respects to Mahaprabhu, while Srinivasa and Narottama paid their respects to the great mahantas.



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