Srila Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam, Part 6

BY: SUN STAFF


Jan 18, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of Srila Prabhupada's preaching on Srimad Bhagavatam.

Today we continue with the Introduction to Srimad Bhagwatam -- 'A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya, the Preacher of Srimad Bhagwatam.' In this section, Srila Prabhupada is introducing Sri Krsna Chaitanya, and describing various lila pastimes in which the Lord demonstrated His identity as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

It's interesting to consider which pastimes Srila Prabhupada chose to present in this brief sketch of Lord Chaitanya's life for his Bhagwatam Introduction. Included in this section are the Appearance of the Lord and the Holy Name; pastimes of crying in His mother's lap and stopping when the Holy Name was sounded; His Annaprashan ceremony; meeting the snake, and being stolen by the thief; repeatedly spoiling a visiting brahman's bhoga offerings; teasing the girls as they worshipped Shiva for a good husband; opening His own school and teaching grammar; defeating the Kashmiri Pandit; and quelling the Kazi's resistance to sankirtan.


A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya,
the Preacher of Srimad Bhagwatam

From Srimad Bhagwatam, Vol. I, First Part
(Continued)

So the Lord advented Himself on the Phalgooni Purnima evening of 1407 Shakabda and it was by the will of the Lord there was Lunar eclipse on that evening. It is the custom of the Hindu public to take bath in the Ganges or any other sacred river during the hours of eclipse and chant the Vedic mantras for purification. When Lord Chaitanya was born during the Lunar eclipse, the whole of India was roarning with holy sound of HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE. These sixteen Names of the Lord are mentioned in many Puranas and Upanishads and they are described as the Tarak Brahman Name of this age. It is recommended in the Shastras that offenseless chanting of these holy names of the Lord can deliver a fallen soul from the material bondage. There are innumerable Names of the Lord both in India and outside and all of them are equally good because all of them indicate to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But because these sixteen Names are specially recommended for this age, it is better that people may take advantage of the great Acharyas and their path who attained success by their practice of the rules in the Shastras (revealed scriptures).

This co-incidence of the Lord's appearance and occurrence of the Lunar eclipse make it clear about the mission of the Lord. The mission of the Lord was to preach the importance of chanting the holy names of the Lord in this age of kali (quarrel). The present age is meant for quarrel even on trifle things and therefore the Shastras have recommended for this age a common platform of chanting the holy name of the Lord. Accompanied by melodious music people can hold meetings for glorifying the Lord in their respective languages and if such performances are executed in an offenseless manner, it is sure and certain that such persons will gradually attain spiritual perfection without any effort to undergo any other rigid methods In such meeting every one, the learned and the fool, the rich and the poor, the Hindus and Muslim, the Englishman and the Indian or the Chandala and the Brahmin, all can give an aural reception to the transcendental sound and thus purify the dust accumulated on the mirror of one's heart by unwanted association of material surroundings. And to confirm the Lord's mission all the people of the world will accept the holy name of the Lord as the common platform for Universal religion of the mankind. In other words the Advent of the Holy name took place along with the Advent of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

When the Lord was on the lap of His mother, the child would at once stop crying as soon as the ladies surrounding Him chanted the holy name with clap of hands. The peculiar incidence was observed by the neighbors of the Lord with awe and veneration. Sometimes the younger ladies took pleasure in making the Lord crying and then stop him by chanting the holy name. So from the very childhood the Lord began to preach the importance of the holy name. Lord Sri Chaitanya was known as Nimai in His early age. This name was given by His beloved mother because the Lord took his birth underneath a Neem Tree in the courtyard of His paternal house.

When the Lord was offered solid foodstuff at the age of six months in the Annaprashan ceremony, the Lord indicated His future activities. It is a rule to offer the child at the time both coins and books to see the future taste of the child. The Lord was offered both sides coins and the Bhagwat. But the Lord accepted Srimad Bhagwatam instead of the coins.

When He was five years old He was initiated for learning and He showed Himself a naughty boy. And When He was a mere baby crawling on the yard, one day it so happened that a snake appeared before the baby and the Lord began to play with it. All the members of the house were struck with fear and awe but after a little while the snake went away and the baby was taken away by His mother. Sometime He was stolen by a thief in order to take away His ornaments but the Lord took a pleasure trip on the shoulder of the bewildered thief. The thief was searching for a solitary place in order to rob the baby and it so happened that the thief wondering hither and thither, arrived at last just before the house of Jagganath Misra and he was afraid of being caught hold of. He, therefore, dropped the baby at once and the anxious parents and relatives were glad to see the lost child.

Once upon a time a pilgrim Brahmin was received at the house of Jagannath Misra and when the Brahmin was offering the food stuff to Godhead, the Lord appeared before him and partook of the prepared foodstuff. The eatables were rejected on being touched by a child and the Brahmin again prepared the foodstuff. The next time the same incidence happened. For the third time the same attempt was made and the baby was forcibly made to go asleep at night within the room. At about 12 in the night when all the members of the house were fast asleep within the closed room, the pilgrim Brahmin offered his prepared food stuff to his Deity and in the same way, the baby Lord appeared before the pilgrim and spoiled his offerings. The Brahmin again began to cry but as every one was fast asleep nobody could reply. At that time child Lord appeared before the fortunate pilgrim Brahmin and disclosed His identity as Krishna Himself. The Brahmin was forbidden to disclose the incidence and the baby went back to the lap of his mother as fast asleep.

There are many such incidences in His childhood life. As a naughty boy sometimes He used to tease the orthodox Brahmins who used to take bath in the Ganges. When they complained to His father the boy appeared before the father as if just coming from the School. And at the bathing Ghat he used to play jokes with the neighboring girls who were engaged in the worship of Shiva with hope of getting good husband. That is a practice amongst the unmarried girls in the Hindu family. While engaged in such worship the Lord as a naughty boy appeared before them and said "My dear sisters, please give me all the offerings you have just brought for Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is my devotee and Parvati is my maid servant. If you worship Me the Lord Shiva and all other demigods will be more satisfied." Some of them refused to obey the naughty Lord and He would curse them that on refusal she would be married with an old man with seven children by his previous wife. The girls out of fear and sometimes out of love also would offer Him all materials and then the Lord would bless them with assurance that they would have very good young husband and that they would be mother of dozens of children. These blessings would enliven the girls but they used to complain the incidence to their respective mothers.

In this way the Lord passed His early childhood and when He was just sixteen years old He started His own Chatuspathi (village school conducted by a learned Brahmin) And in the school teachings, He would simply explain Krishna even in the readings of grammar. Srila Jiva Goswami in order to please the Lord had later on composed a grammer in Sanskrit in which all the rules of the grammar are examplified with the holy names of the Lord. This grammar is still current and is known as "Harinamamrita Vyakaran" and is prescribed by the syllabus of Sanskrit Schools in Bengal till now.

During this time a great Kashmere scholar of the name Keshav Kashmere came to Nabadwipa to hold meetings on the discourse of Shastras. The Kashmere Pandit was a champion scholar and he had travelled all the places of learning in India. At last he came to Nabadwipa to contest the learned Pandits there. The Pandits of Nabadwipa decided to put forward Nemai Pandit (Lord Chaitanya) before the Kashmere Pandit thinking it wise if Nemai Pandit was defeated they would have another chance with a plea that Nemai Pandit was a boy only. And if the Kashmere Pandit was defeated then they would be more glorified because people will know that a boy of Nabadwipa defeated such a champion scholar of all India repute. And it so happened that Nemai Pandit met the Kashmere Pandit while strolling on the bank of the Ganges. The Lord requested the Kashmere Pandit to compose a Sanskrit verse in praise of the Ganges and the Pandit within a short time composed a verse of 100 slokas in praise of the mother Ganges. He recited the verses like storm and showed sufficient strength of his vast learning. Nemai Pandit also at once took by heart all the slokas without deviation of a line. He quoted the 64th sloka and pointed out some deficiencies in the calculation of retorhical and literary irregularities. He particularly pointed out one word BHAVANI BHARTA and pointed out that this word coveys opposite meaning. Bharani means the wife of Shiva and who else can be Her Bharta or husband. In this way he pointed out several discrepancies in one sloka and the Kashmere Pandit was struck with wonder. He was astonished as to how a student of grammar could point out such literary mistakes of an erudite scholar. The matter was ended prior any public meeting and the news was spread all over Nabadwipa like wild fire. At last Keshav Kashmere was ordered in dream by the goddess of learning to submit before the Lord and the Kahmere Pandit became a follower of the Lord.

The Lord was then married with great pomp and gay and began to preach the Congregational chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord at Nabadwipa. Some of the Brahmins became envious of His popularity and they put many hindrances on His path. At last such Brahmins complained the matter before Muslim Magistrate at Nabadwipa. Bengal was then governed by Pathans and the Governor of the Province was Nawab Hussain Shah. The Muslim Magistrate of Nabadwipa took up the complaints, of the Brahmins, seriously and at first he warned the followers of Nemai Pandit not to chant loudly the Name of Hari. But Lord Chaitanya asked His followers to disobey the orders of the Kazi and they went on with their Samkirtan Party as usual. The Magistrate then sent constables and broke some of the Mridangas where Samkirtan was taking place. When Nemai Pandit heard this incidence he organised a civil disobedience movement at Nabadwipa. He is the pioneer of civil disobedience movement in India for the right cause. He organised a procession of one lac of men with thousands of Mridangas and Karatal and the procession passed over the roads of Nabadwipa without any fear of the Kazi who issued the order. At last the party reached the house of the Kazi who went upstairs out of fear of the mass movement. The men, assembled there at the house of Kazi, showed haughty temper but the Lord asked them to be peaceful. At this the Kazi came down and pacified the Lord by addressing Him as his nephew. He said that Nilambar Chakrabarty was called by him as Chacha or the uncle and as such Srimati Sachidevi the mother of Nemai Pandit became his sister. He asked Nemai Pandit whether a sister's son can be angry upon his maternal uncle? The Lord replied that rightly the Kazi was his maternal uncle but when the nephew is a guest at the house of his maternal uncle why he shall not be well received. In this way the whole thing was mitigated and there was a long discussion on Koran and Hindu Shastras between the two learned scholars. The question of cow killing was also raised by the Lord and they were properly replied with reference to the order of the Koran. The kazi also questioned the Lord about cow sacrifice in the Vedas and the Lord replied that sacrifice of cow mentioned in the Vedas is not cowkilling. In that sacrifice an old bull or cow is sacrificed to give it fresh younger life by the power of Vedic Mantras. In the Kali-yuga such cow sacrifice is forbidden on account of absence of such learned Brahmin able to conduct such sacrifice. In the Kaliyuga, therefore, all Yajnas are forbidden because they are useless attempt by the foolish men. In the Kaliyuga only the Samkirtan yajna is recommended for all practical purposes. The Kazi was convinced and he became a follower of the Lord. He declared thence forward no body will put hinderances in the Samkirtan Movement started by the Lord. The Kazi of Nabadwipa has left his will for his future descendants that no body would hinder the Samkirtan Movement started by the Lord The Kazi's crematorium is still existent within the area of Nabadwipa and all Hindu pilgrims go there to show their respects to the Kazi's Graveyard. The Kazi's descendants are residents of that place but they never objected Samkirtan even during the Hindu Moslem riot days.

This incidence of Lord chaitanya's life shows clearly that the Lord was not a timid so called Vaishnava. A Vaishnava means a fear less devotee of the Lord. For the right cause they can take any step suitable for the purpose. Arjuna was also a Vaishnava devotee of Lord Krishna and he fought valiantly for the satisfaction of the Lord. Similarly Bajrangaji or Hanuman was also a devotee of Lord Rama and He gave lessons to the party of Ravana the nondevotee camp. Therefore, the principles of Vaishnavism is to satisfy the Lord by all means. A Vaishnava is by nature a non-violent peaceful living being and he has all the good qualities of God. But when there is the question of blaspheming the Lord or His devotee, the Vaishanva never tolerates such impudency on the part of the non-devotee.

[End of this section of Srimad Bhagwatam]


Our comments on the above excerpt:

Essentially all of the editorial particulars that we pointed out in yesterday's segment are also found in the text above. Among the notable phrases that Srila Prabhupada had emphasized with all capital letters in his original Bhagwatam, which were changed to sentence case in his edited BBT edition, are the Mahamantra and the phrase 'Bhavani Bharta'. In the case of the latter, referring to the Lord's discussion with the Kashmiri pandit, we also find the phrase changed to 'bhavani-bhartuh'.

There are a few other small, but nonetheless interesting word changes. For example, the Holy Name being described as 'Tarak Brahman Name' is changed to 'Taraka-brahma nama'; the 'Neem tree' changed to the 'nimba tree'; the sankirtana procession of 'one lac of men' is changed to 'one hundred thousand men'; and the Kazi's 'crematorium' and 'graveyard' changed to the Kazi's 'tomb'.

We find numerous instances in this section where Srila Prabhupada uses the word 'Hindu', and these can serve as a linguistic guideline to proper usage in our current ongoing debate about Vaisnavas not being Hindus.

In line with our comments yesterday about the phenomenon of Srila Prabhupada getting editorial assistance from his western devotees, we find a few more interesting examples in today's text. Depending on exactly what Srila Prabhupada meant in making or accepting editorial revisions, a degree of difference might be ascribed to the meaning as a result of the change in language. While we can now only speculate on Srila Prabhupada's intended meaning in the revised copy, we find each instance interesting to consider. Following are a few examples (blue line from Bhagwatam, red line from Bhagavatam):

    Chandala and the Brahmin, all can give an aural reception to the transcendental sound and thus purify the dust accumulated on the mirror of one's heart by unwanted association of material surroundings.

    candalas and the brahmanas, can all hear the transcendental sounds and thus cleanse the dust of material association from the mirror of the heart.

    In this way he pointed out several discrepancies in one sloka and the Kashmere Pandit was struck with wonder.

    He also pointed out several other discrepancies, and the Kashmir pandita was struck with wonder.

There are a few other revisions of note. One line from the Bhagwatam has been deleted entirely in the BBT Bhagavatam:

    "When He was five years old He was initiated for learning and He showed Himself a naughty boy."

In another instance, text has been added to a descriptive passage:

    When they complained to His father the boy appeared before the father as if just coming from the School

    When the brahmanas complained to His father that He was splashing them with water instead of attending school, the Lord suddenly appeared before His father as though just coming from school with all His school clothes and books.

There is one paragraph in this section of the text that serves as a very nice example of the change of 'voice', between Srila Prabhupada's use of English in the original Bhagwatam, and the later edited version. The reader will particularly appreciate the shading of Srila Prabhupada's 'Indian English', compared to the 'Western English'. The Bhagwatam version follows on the left, with the BBT Bhagavatam version to the right:


"Once upon a time a pilgrim Brahmin was received at the house of Jagannath Misra and when the Brahmin was offering the food stuff to Godhead, the Lord appeared before him and partook of the prepared foodstuff. The eatables were rejected on being touched by a child and the Brahmin again prepared the foodstuff. The next time the same incidence happened. For the third time the same attempt was made and the baby was forcibly made to go asleep at night within the room. At about 12 in the night when all the members of the house were fast asleep within the closed room, the pilgrim Brahmin offered his prepared food stuff to his Deity and in the same way, the baby Lord appeared before the pilgrim and spoiled his offerings. The Brahmin again began to cry but as every one was fast asleep nobody could reply. At that time child Lord appeared before the fortunate pilgrim Brahmin and disclosed His identity as Krishna Himself. The Brahmin was forbidden to disclose the incidence and the baby went back to the lap of his mother as fast asleep."

"Once a pilgrim brahmana was received at the house of Jagannatha Misra, and when he was offering food to the Godhead, the Lord appeared before him and partook of the prepared food. The eatables had to be rejected because the child touched them, and so the brahmana had to make another preparation. The next time the same thing happened, and when this happened repeatedly for the third time, the baby was finally put to bed. At about twelve at night when all the members of the house were fast asleep within their closed rooms, the pilgrim brahmana offered his specially prepared foods to the Deity, and, in the same way, the baby Lord appeared before the pilgrim and spoiled his offerings. The brahmana then began to cry, but since everyone was fast asleep, no one could hear him. At that time the baby Lord appeared before the fortunate brahmana and disclosed His identity as Krsna Himself. The brahmana was forbidden to disclose this incident, and the baby returned to the lap of His mother."


In making comparisons like the ones above between Srila Prabhupada's language in the original Delhi Bhagwatams and the revised BBT edition he later authorized, we should be careful not to speculate unnecessarily. And of course, neither version can be found wanting in any way. Both must be taken as the perfect, Absolute, transcendental sound vibration of the pure devotee, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Our only purpose in making any comparison at all is to get a deeper appreciation for Srila Prabhupada's writings, and a greater understanding of the message embodied in the sastra he presents.

When this series resume next week, we will complete the 'short life sketch' of Lord Caitanya, and move on to the study of Srila Prabhupada's preaching on the slokas of Srimad Bhagavatam.


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