Srila Prabhupada on Srimad Bhagavatam, Part 8

BY: SUN STAFF

Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya's Deity of Sadbhuja Krsna Chaitanya


Jan 26, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of Srila Prabhupada's preaching on Srimad Bhagavatam.

Continuing on 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 describes Mahaprabhu's pastimes of growing the mango tree in Srinivas Thakur's yard, the circumstances leading up to His taking sannyasa, His fainting episode in Jagannatha Puri temple and convalescence at Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya's home, and the audience He gave the Bhattacarya, listening to his interpretation of the Vedanta-sutras.


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

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

During his householder life the Lord did not display much of the miracles as are generally expected from such personalities. But once He showed an wonderful miracle in the house of Shrinibas Thakur while Samkirtan was going on in full swing. He asked the devotees what do they want to eat and when he was informed by the devotees that they wanted to eat mangoes, although the time was out of season, the Lord asked for a seed of mangoe. When it was brought before Him he sowed the seed in the yard of Shrinibas Thakur and at once the creeper began to grow. Within no time the creeper gradually became a full grown mangoe tree and there was ripen fruits more than necessary. The tree remained there thence forward and the devotees used to take mangoes from the tree daily and as many as they wanted.

As referred to above the Lord had very high estimation for the affection of the damsels of Brajabhumi for Krishna and in appreciation of their unalloyed service to the Lord, once Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was chanting the holy names of the Gopis instead of chanting the name of the Lord. Some of His student disciples accidently came to see Him and when they saw that the Lord was chanting the names of the Gopis they were astonished and out of sheer foolishness they advised the Lord to chant the Name of Krishna and asked Him why He would chant the Name of the Gopis. The Lord was in ecstacy and He was disturbed by the students in this foolish way. He therefore wanted to chastise the students and chased them while they were flying away. The students were almost of the same age like the Lord and thus very wrongly they thought of the Lord as equal in position. As such they held a meeting and wanted to retaliate the attitude of the Lord and resolved that they would also attack Him if Nemai Pandit dared again to punish them in that manner. This incidence gave an impetus to the general public by the agitation of the discontent student and thus here and there were malicious talks about the Lord.

When the lord was aware of this fact he began to think within Himself that there are different varieties of men in the society. Specially the students, the professors, the fruitive workers, yogis, enemies of the devotional cult, and different types of atheists all are against the cult of devotional service of the Lord. He thought within Himself as follows:-My mission is to deliver all the fallen souls of this age but if they commit offence on Me thinking Me as an ordinary man, it will go against their interest. Some way or other they must offer obeisances unto Me and that will be the beginning of their spiritual realisation" So the Lord decided to accept the renounced order of life (Sanyas) so that people in general may be inclined to offer respect to a Sanyasi.

Five hundred years before the condition of the Society was not so much degraded. At that time people would show respects to a Sanyasi and the Sanyasi was also rigid in the matter of regulations of the renounced order of life. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was not very much in favour of the renonnced order of life in this age of Kali but that was only for the reason that very few of the Sanyasins would be able to observe the rules and regulations of Sanyas life. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, therefore, decided that He would accept the order of an ideal Sanyasi so that people in general would show Him respect as one is duty bound to show to a Sanyasi. A Sanyasi is considered to he the master of all the Varnas and Ashramas.

While He was contemplating of accepting the Sannyas order of life, it so happened that Keshav Bharati a Sannyasi of the Mayavada school and resident of Katowa (Dist Burdwan in Bengal) visited Nabadwipa and he was invited by the Lord to dine with Him. When Keshav Bharati came at His house, the Lord requested him to award Him the Sannyas order of life. The formality of accepting the Sannyas order is to accept it from another Sannyasi. Although the Lord was independent in all respects still to keep up the formalities of the Sastras, He desired to accept the Sannyas order from Keshav Bharati though not in the Vaishnava Sampradaya (Sect).

After this consultation, the Lord left Nabadwipa for Katowa to accept the Sannyas order of life and He was accompanied by Srila Nityananda Prabhu, Chandra Shekhar Acharya and Mukunda Dutt all who assisted Him in the details of the ceremony. As mentioned above this incidence of accepting the Sannyas order by the Lord, is very elaborately described in the Chaitanya Bhagwat by Srila Vrindabandas Thakur.

Thus at the end of twenty four years of His age the Lord accepted the Sannyas order of life in the month of Magh. After accepting the Sanyas order of life He became a full fledged preacher of the cult of Bhagwat Dharma. Although He was doing the same preaching work in His householder life yet when He experienced some obstacles in His way of preaching, He sacrifised even the the comforts of His homely life for the sake of the fallen souls. In His householder life, His chief lieutenants were Srila Adwita Prabhu and Srila Shribas Thakur. But after accepting the Sannyas order of life His chief assistants were Srila Nityananda Prabhu who was deputed to preach in Bengal specially and the six Goswamis headed by Srila Rupa and Sanatan who were deputed to go to Vrindaban and excavate the present places of pilgrimage by His order. The present city of Virndaban and the importance of Brajabhumi were thus practically disclosed by the will of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

The Lord, after accepting the Sannyas order of life, at once wanted to start for Vrindaban. For three days continually He travelled in the Radh Desha (places where the Ganges does not flow) in full ecstacy with the idea that He was going to Vrindaban. Srila Nitaynada Prabhu waylaid him and brought Him at the house of Adwita Prabhu at Shantipur. The Lord stayed at the house of Sri Adwita Prabhu for a few days after Sannyas and knowing it well that the Lord was leaving His hearth and home for good Sri Adwaita Prabhu sent his men to Nabadwipa to bring in Sachi Mata to have the last meeting with her son. Some unscrupulous people say that Lord Chaitanya met His wife also after Sannyas and offered her His wooden slipper for worship, but so far we get informations from authentic sources, we do not see any such meeting with His wife after Sannyas. His mother met Him at the house of Adwita Prabhu and it was practically a tragic scene when the mother saw the son in Sanyas dress. The mother desired that Lord Chaitanya may make His head quarter at Puri so that she may get informations of the son often and as such the Lord accepted the last desire of His beloved mother. And after this incidence the Lord started for Puri leaving all the residents of Nabadwipa in the ocean of lamentation on account of the Lord's separation from the place.

The Lord then started for Puri visiting many important places on the way. He visited the temple of Gopinath Ji Who had stolen condensed milk for His devotee Srila Madhvendra Puri. Since then Deity Gopinathji is well known as 'KHIRCHORA GOPINATH'. The Lord relished the story of stealing by Gopinathji, with great pleasure. The propensity of stealing is there even in the Absolute consciousness but because such propensity is exhibited by the Absolute, it loses its perverted nature and thus becomes worthshipable even by Lord Chaitanya on the absolute consideration of the Lord and His stealing propensity as one and identical. The interesting story is vividly explained in the Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami.

After visiting the temple of KHIRCHORA GOPINATH of Remuna at Balasore in Orissa, the Lord proceeded towards Puri and on the way He visited the temple of Sakshi Gopal who appeared as the witness in the matter of two Brahmin devotees' family dissension. The Lord heard the story of Sakshi Gopal with great pleasure because He wanted to impress upon the atheistic class of men that the worshipable deities, in the temples approved by the great Acharyas, are not idols as it is alleged by a class of men with poor fund of knowledge. The deity in the temple is the Archa incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, and as such the deity is identical with the Lord in all respects. He responds to the proportion of the devotee's affection for Him. In this instance there was seemingly a family misunderstanding by two devotees of the Lord and inroder to mitigate the turmoil as well as to show specific favour to His servitors, the Lord in His Archa incarnation was pleased to come down from Vrindaban to Vidyanagar a village in Orissa. From there the deity was brought to Cuttack and the temple of Sakahi (wittness) Gopal is still visited by thousands of pilgrims on the way to Jagannath Puri. The Lord passed over night there and began to proceed towards Puri. On the way His Sannyas rod was broken by the conspiracy of Lord Nityananda Prabhu on which the Lord became apparently angry with Him and went alone to Puri leaving behind His reputed companions.

At Puri when He entered the temple of Jagannath He became at once saturated with transcendental ecstacy and fell down on the floor of the temple, unconscious. The care takers of the temple could not understand the transcendental feats of the Lord but there was a great learned Pandit of the name Sarbabhouma Bhatacharya who was the chief appointed Pandit in the court of the king of Orissa Maharaj Prataprudra. Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya was attracted by the youthful lustre of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and he could understand that the feats, of unconsciousness just after meeting Lord Jaggannath in the temple, was not a thing of ordinary affair. Such transcendental feats are rarely exhibited by the topmost advanced devotees who are already on the transcendental plane in complete foregetfulness of material existence. Except a liberated soul nobody could show such transcendental feats and as the Bhattacharya was vastly learned, he could understand that with reference to the context of transcendental literature on which he had considerable authority.

He asked, therefore, the caretakers of the temple not to disturb the unknown Sannyasi; better he advised them to take Him at his home for further observation on the unconscious state. The Lord was at once carried to the house of Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya who was at that time the most influential learned scholar with sufficient power of authority on account of his becoming the Sabha-Pandit or the State Dean of Faculty in Sanskrit literatures. The learned Pandit wanted to test scrutinisingly the transcendental feats of Lord Chaitanya because it so happens that unscrupulous pseudo-devotees sometimes immitate such feats of body to make false show of transcendental achievements just to attract the innocent people within the influence. A learned scholar like Bhattacharya, therefore, can detect such foolish show of spiritual advancement and when he finds out the artificial caricature, at once he rejects such pseudo-transcendentalists.

In this case of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Bhattacharya tested all the symptoms in terms of the Shastras just like a scientific man and not as a foolish sentimentalist. He tested the movement of the stomach, beating of the heart and breathing in the nostrils. He felt also the pulse of the Lord and he saw that all such actions were completely in suspension; but when he put a small cotton swab before the nostrils, he found out that there is slight breathing only and the fine fibres of cotton swab was slightly in movement. And thus he came to know about the genuineness of the Lord's trance in unconsciousness and he began to treat Him in terms of prescribed formula. But in the case of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He would be treated in a specific way of resounding the Holy Name of the Lord by His devotees. This specific treatment was unknown to Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya because the Lord was still unkown to him. He saw Him for the first time in the temple and took Him as one of the influx of pilgrims.

In the meantime the companions of Lord Chaitanya who reached the temple a little after, could not see the Lord there but they heard about the incidence of the Lord's transcendental feats and His being carried away by the Bhattacharya, from the men who were still gossiping on the incidence. One of them by chance met Gopinath Acharya known to Gadhadhar Pandit and both of them greeted each other. From him it was learnt that the Lord was lying in unconscious state at the residence of Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya who happened to be the brother-in-law of Gopinath Acharya. All the members of the party were introduced by Gadadhar Pandit to Gopinath Acharya and the latter took them all to the house of Bhattacharya where the Lord was lying unconscious in spiritual trance. All the members then chanted loudly the holy Name of the Lord Hari as usual and the Lord regained His consciousness. After this Bhattacharya received all the members of the party including Lord Nityananda Prabhu and asked them to become his guest of honour. The party including the Lord went for a bath in the sea and the Bhattacharya arranged for their residence and meals properly at the house of Kashi Misra with attention of Gopinath Acharya his brother-in-law. There was some friendly talks about the Lord's divinity between the two brother-in-laws and in this argument Gopinath Acharya who knew the Lord before, also, wanted to establish that the Lord was the Personality of Godhead but the Bhattacharya wanted to establish Him as one of the great devotees. Both of them argued from the angle of vision of authentic Shastras and not on the strength of sentimental vox-populi. The incarnations of God are known in terms of the authentic Shastras and not on the popular votes as it is the practice amongst the foolish fanatics. Because Lord Chaitanya was incarnation of God in fact, foolish fanatics have pushed forward so many so called incarnations of God in this age or after Lord Chaitanya and that also without any reference of the authentic scriptures. But Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya or Gopinath Acharya did not indulge in such foolish sentimentalism; on the contrary both of them wanted to establish Him (the Lord) on the strength of authentic Shastras.

Later it was disclosed that Bhattacharya was also hailing from the Nabadwipa area and it was understood from him that Nilambar Chakarabarty the maternal grand-father of Lord Chaitanya happened to be a class-fellow of the father of Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya. In that sense the young Sannyasi Lord Chaitanya attracted a filial affection from the side of Bhattacharya. Bhattacharya was the professor of many Sanyasins in the order of the Shankaracharya Sampradaya and he himself also belonged to that cult. As such the Bhattacharya desired that the young Sannyasi Lord Chaitanya may also hear from him about the teachings of Vedanta.

Thosc who are followers of the Shankara cult are generally known as the Vedantist. It does not, however, mean that Vedanta is a monopoly study of Shankara Sampradaya. Vedanta is studied by all the bonafide Sampradayas but they have their own interpretations. But the Shankar Sampradaya is generally known as the Vedantist without any knowledge of the Vedantist Vaishnavas. For this reason Bhaktivedanta title was first offered to the author by the Vaishnavas.

The Lord agreed to take lessons from Bhattacharya on the Vedanta and they sat together in the temple of Lord Jaggannath. The Bhattacharya went on speaking continually for seven days and the Lord heard him with all attention without any interruption. This dumb like hearing of the Lord before the Bhattacharya raised some doubts in his heart and he asked the Lord how it was that He did not ask anything good or bad in the matter of hearing the explanations of Vedanta.

The Lord posed Himself before the Bhattacharya as a foolish student and pretended that He heard the Vedanta from him because he wanted Him to do so as the duty of a Sanyasi; otherwise hardly He could follow or understand the lectures delivered by him.

By this the Lord indicated that the so called Vedantist amongst the Shankara Sampradya or any other Sampradaya who do not follow the instructions of Srila Vyasadev, are mechanical student of the Vedanta without any introspection within the great knowledge. The explanation of the Vedanta Sutras is given by the author himself in the text of the Srimad Bhagwatam. Any one who has no study or knowledge in the Bhagwatam will hardly be able to know what the Vedanta says.

The Bhattacharya as a vastly learned man could follow the sarcastic remarks on the popular vedantist by the Lord. He therefore asked Him why He did not question on any point which He could not follow. The Bhattacharya could understand the purpose of His dead-silence for the days He heard him. This shows clearly that the Lord had something else in His mind and he requested Him to disclose his mind.

Upon this the Lord spoke as follows-"My dear sir, I can understand the meaning of the Sutras like 'JANMADYASYA YATAH' 'SHASTRAYO NITWAT' 'ATHATO BRAHMAJIJNANASA' of the Vedanta Sutras but when you explain them in your own way it becomes difficult for me to follow them. The purpose of the Sutras is already explained in them but your explanations are just like covering them with something else. You do not purposely take the direct meaning of the Sutras but indirectly you give your own interpretations."

The Lord thus attacked all Vedantists who interpret the vedanta Sutras fashionably according to their limited power of thinking and also to serve their own purpose. Such indirect interpretations of the authentic literatures like the Vedanta is hereby condemned by the Lord.

[End of this section of Srimad Bhagwatam]


Our comments on the above excerpt:

While it may seem insignificant to consider slight alterations in the spelling of words when comparing Srila Prabhupada's original Bhagwatam editions to the first BBT editions, even these small revisions can be of great value for the reader. For example, those who followed the Sampradaya Sun's lengthy series on the Worship of Lord Brahma will recall the difficulty we often had in confirming the location of certain tirthas, because some references used antiquated spelling and there were sometimes numerous iterations of place name spellings.

In Srila Prabhupada's original Bhagwatam, we often find person and place name spellings that were later changed. Sometimes the names were originally given in Bengali or as transliterated from the Sanskrit. In some cases, Srila Prabhupada uses multiple spellings within close context, e.g. in the same paragraph. We find this same phenomenon in Caitanya-caritamrta where he often included differing spellings, perhaps simply to acknowledge the fact that there were differences, and the variations were bona fide.

In the section above from 'A short life sketch', we see various spellings of the names Srinivas/Shrinibas/Shribas; Adwita/Adwaita; and Sarbabhouma Bhatacharya/Bhattacharya in close proximity to one another.

Likewise we find original and revised spellings for Mukunda Dutt/Datta; Nilambar Chakarabarty/Nilambara Cakravarti; Shantipur/Santipura; and Katowa (Dist Burdwan in Bengal)/Katwa (in Bengal). So from a research standpoint, we can see how helpful it is to have access to Srila Prabhupada's original spellings.

We have a few more examples where Srila Prabhupada had added emphasis in the Bhagwatam editions, using all capital letters or initial caps. For example, 'Varnas and Ashramas' later became 'varnas and asramas'. There are two such revisions of Deity names (blue from Bhagwatam, red from Bhagavatam):

    Deity Gopinathji is well known as 'KHIRCHORA GOPINATH'
    Deity Gopinathaji is well kown as Ksira-cora-gopinatha

    "KHIRCHORA GOPINATH of Remuna at Balasore in Orissa
    Ksira-cora-gopinatha of Remuna at Balasore in Orissa

Also there's a change in Deity names from "Sakahi (wittness) Gopal" to "Saksi-gopala".

And, a change in capitalization of this sloka:

    Upon this the Lord spoke as follows-"My dear sir, I can undelstand the meaning of the Sutras like 'JANMADYASYA YATAH' 'SHASTRAYO NITWAT' 'ATHATO BRAHMAJIJNANASA' of the Vedanta Sutras

    Upon this, the Lord spoke as follows: "My dear sir, I can understand the meaning of the sutras like janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1], sastra-yonitvat, and athato brahma jijnasa of the Vedanta-sutra

In the category of revisions for which some degree of change in meaning might be ascribed, there are a number of examples in today's segment. Among the most notable are the following:

Regarding Mahaprabhu chanting the holy names of the Gopis:

    The Lord was in ecstacy and He was disturbed by the students in this foolish way. He therefore wanted to chastise the students and chased them while they were flying away.

    The Lord, who was in ecstasy, was thus disturbed by these foolish students. He chastised them and chased them away.

The following passage is from the pastime leading up to the Lord's taking sannaysa. There are several instances where the phrase He "began to think within Himself" is changed to He "began to consider" or "He thought".

    When the lord was aware of this fact he began to think within Himself that there are different varieties of men in the society. Specially the students, the professors, the fruitive workers, yogis, enemies of the devotional cult, and different types of atheists all are against the cult of devotional service of the Lord. He thought within Himself as follows:

    When the Lord became aware of this, He began to consider the various types of men found in society. He noted that especially the students, professors, fruitive workers, yogis, nondevotees, and different types of atheists were all opposed to the devotional service of the Lord. "My mission is to deliver all the fallen souls of this age," He thought,

Again we see the term "cult" replaced with different terminology, although interestingly enough, the term cult was not changed where it referred to the "Shankara cult". Elsewhere in the Bhagwatam what is called the "Vaishnava Sampradaya (Sect)" was later changed to " Vaisnava-sampradaya (school)".

We find this example, from the story of Lord Caitanya's taking sannyasa:

    His mother met Him at the house of Adwita Prabhu and it was practically a tragic scene when the mother saw the son in Sanyas dress.

    His mother met Him at the house of Advaita Prabhu, and when she saw her son in sannyasa, she lamented.

Regarding the Lord's travels in Orissa, we read:

    On the way His Sannyas rod was broken by the conspiracy of Lord Nityananda Prabhu on which the Lord became apparently angry with Him and went alone to Puri leaving behind His reputed companions.

    On the way, His sannyasa rod was broken by Nityananda Prabhu. The Lord became apparently angry with Him about this and went alone to Puri, leaving His companions behind.

In the pastime of Lord Caitanya going into an ecstatic swoon in Jagannath Puri temple, we find a number of interesting changes to the text:

    Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya was attracted by the youthful lustre of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and he could understand that the feats, of unconsciousness just after meeting Lord Jaggannath in the temple, was not a thing of ordinary affair. Such transcendental feats are rarely exhibited by the topmost advanced devotees who are already on the transcendental plane in complete foregetfulness of material existence. Except a liberated soul nobody could show such transcendental feats and as the Bhattacharya was vastly learned, he could understand that with reference to the context of transcendental literature on which he had considerable authority.

    Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, who was the chief appointed pandita in the court of the King of Orissa, Maharaja Prataparudra, was attracted by the youthful luster of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and could understand that such a transcendental trance was only rarely exhibited and only then by the topmost devotees who are already on the transcendental plane in complete forgetfulness of material existence. Only a liberated soul could show such a transcendental feat, and the Bhattacarya, who was vastly learned, could understand this in the light of the transcendental literature with which he was familiar.

And this:

    A learned scholar like Bhattacharya, therefore, can detect such foolish show of spiritual advancement and when he finds out the artificial caricature, at once he rejects such pseudo-transcendentalists.

    A learned scholar like the Bhattacarya can detect such imposters, and when he finds them out he at once rejects them.

Also very interesting:

    But Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya or Gopinath Acharya did not indulge in such foolish sentimentalism; on the contrary both of them wanted to establish Him (the Lord) on the strength of authentic Shastras.

    But Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya or Gopinatha Acarya did not indulge in such foolish sentimentalism; on the contrary, both of them tried to establish or reject His divinity on the strength of authentic sastras.

Finally, in a description of the Shankarites we find this pair:

    But the Shankar Sampradaya is generally known as the Vedantist without any knowledge of the Vedantist Vaishnavas.

    But those in the Sankara-sampradaya are generally known to be ignorant of the knowledge of the Vedantist Vaisnavas.



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