Sri Sri Kalyan Kalpa-taru: The Desire-tree of Auspiciousness


Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur in Mayapur

May 18, CANADA (SUN) — A Songbook of 62 Bengali Songs by Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Published in 1880. Translation by Dasaratha-suta dasa. Published to commemorate the 500th Appearance Anniversary of Lord Caitanya.

Dedicated to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, our Spiritual Master who has spread the light of Thakura Bhaktivinoda's pure Krsna Consciousness all over the worlds in fulfillment of the Thakura's most ardent desire.



Fathomless eternal mercy of Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga has descended to enable the present publication of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's famous Bengali songbook, Kalyan Kalpa-taru, for the first time in the English language.

Feeling great concern for the sufferings of the conditioned souls, Lord Caitanya's own close associate Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has brought Sri Kalyan Kalpa-taru from the forest of ultimate welfare in Vaikuntha down to this miserable desert-like material worlds, which is scorched by kali-yuga. From this special desire-tree, he has distributed the fruits of maha-kalyan (topmost spiritual welfare) to the fallen souls, a benefit which cannot possibly be described in the languages of this worlds. Even the hearts of the atheists, the sinners, the distracted sense-gratifiers and the puffed-up egoists can become soothed by the cooling shade offered by this merciful Kalyan Kalpa-taru, or Desire-tree of Auspiciousness.

Thakura Bhaktivinoda states his purpose for bringing the tree in his original Bengali introduction, ". . . Those whose lives have been carried away by numerous problems such as useless arguments, idle gossip, sense-gratification, laziness and sleep will sometime get illumination in their lives by the rays offered by the glance of Bhaktidevi (the Goddess of Devotion), due to getting the systematic mercy of the sadhus and Lord Krsna. This illumination will flash in their lives exactly like a brilliant bolt of lightning darts across the cloud-darkened midnight sky, bathing the ground with its dazzling effulgence. Similarly, all the instructions and prayers to the lotus feet of the Lord which are meant for purifying the polluted mind have been compiled and published in this book, Kalyan Kalpa-taru. . ."

In his original preface, the Thakura has revealed his own humble mood while presenting all these instructions, which are meant to educate the mass public, ". . . The real reason for publishing this book is as follows; If those Vaisnavas who are very fond of the lotus feet of Sri Hari will read this book and then cast their merciful glance in my direction, then without a doubt I will become,by their grace, a suitable recipient of the mercy of Nanda-nandana, Sri Krsna. And this most insignificant soul has no sustenance in life other than the said mercy of these Vaisnavas. . ."

First published on June 14th, 1880 from Calcutta Hari-bhakti Pradayini Sabha, Kalyan Kalpa-taru was revised by Bhaktivedanta and saw its second edition published 17 years later in 1897. After Bhaktivinoda passed on in 1914, the book has been reprinted under the supervision of his son Sri Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura up to the eight edition. He also published it in the Oriya script for distribution in Orissa. Afterwards, the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati have continued further publications up to the 15th edition, adding an explanatory commentary for difficult words and phrases in 1941.

Several songs originating in this book have already been presented in the ISKCON songbook, "The Songs of the Vaisnava Acharyas". They are 1) Vijnapti, popularly known as "Gopinatha" (3 III. 1-3) and 2) Nama-kirtana, popularly known as "Vibhavari-sesa" (3. IV. A. 2). Srila Prabhupada's own explanation of the latter song is also included herein. Also the well-known song "Durlabha manava janma" can be found originating from the 2nd chapter of Kalyan Kalpa-taru (2. II. 4).

The book Kalyan Kalpa-taru is a description of one special desire-tree which has been brought from Vaikuntha. It has three branches called Upadesa (instructions), Upalabdhi (attainment), and Ucchvasa (overgushing). It bears fruits of special supreme auspiciousness. The three divisions present a systematic path of self-realization in the form of a tree for easy understanding.

We pray that all the devotees, who are also like wish-fulfilling desire trees, will be pleased by our attempt at presenting Kalyan Kalpa-taru. If the honest readers will show their favor, then the grace of all the previous acaryas may descend again to allow future publications of their books.

Gratitude is herein extended to all the well-wishing devotees who helped me to complete this book. This includes several who helped look after the English editing, and especially certain Bengali devotees, whose intimate familiarity with the ecstatic moods of Thakura Bhaktivinoda, coupled with utmost patience in conveying the same to me, is solely responsible for enabling my struggling attempt at translation to be completed. Hari-bol!

Dasaratha-suta dasa

September 19, 1988
Appearance day of Sri Radha



The first branch, Upadesa, contains the most basic,primary lessons of spiritual advice. Addressing his own mind, Thakura Bhaktivinoda gives the foundation of spiritual insight towards various problems which can deviate one in this world from the path of pure devotional service. Treating one specific problem in each of 19 songs, the Thakura expands the first branch of the Kalyan Kalpa-taru in various directions to cover most of the anarthas (or unnecessary distractions) which can hinder one who is on the path back to Godhead. Beginning with the first reason why the jiva soul has come into this world ---namely lust --- he branches out through numerous other materialistic topics until he finally ends up chastising those who have apparently taken to the devotional path but have fallen short of the mark --- due to the same lust all over again. With his sharp sword of pure transcendental knowledge, Bhaktivinoda cuts bare these final devotional impediments to prepare the reader for the next stage, presented in the following chapter --- assimilation and living realization of the advice.

SECOND BRANCH (Attainment)

Next, the second branch of the Kalyan Kalpa-taru, called Upalabdhi, spreads a purview of the platform of attainment, assimilation, realization and application of all the advice received from the first branch, Upadesa. This stage of Upalabdhi is further divided into three categories: 1) anutapa - repenting due to genuine realization; 2) nirveda - thorough detachment from material temptations due to genuine spiritual realization; 3) sambandha-abhidya-prayojana-vijnana - realization of practical action in accordance with that relationship, and realization of the final goal of life. All the preliminary realizations presented in this chapter prelude the outburst of gushing spiritual emotions which are to be revealed in the next chapter.

THIRD BRANCH (Overgushing)

The third and final branch presents various types of ecstatic Ucchvasa or outbursts of spiritual emotions which overflow and gush out of one's heart after he attains self-realization. This chapter is divided into four sections as 1) prarthana dainyamayi - prayers offered by a pure soul in genuine transcendental humility; 2) prarthana lalasamayi - prayers which express specific transcendental hankerings or longings for devotional service; 3) vijnapti - confessions of one's own mind accompanied by repeated pleading in order to petition the Lord; and 4) ucchvasa kirtana - those songs of worship and praise which express overflowing emotions saturated with pure progressive realization of the Lord's nama (name), rupa (beauty), guna (qualities), lila (pastimes), and finally rasa (mellows). All these features of the Lord's absolute existence are inseparable and identical, but they are progressively realized in these graduating levels as increasing manifestations of sweetness.

In his book named Harinama-cintamani, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura presents a clear interrelation of these different aspects,which may be paraphrased here briefly:

    The Lord's nama or holy name, is just like the freshly sprouted bud of a flower.
    When the bud opens up slightly, then His rupa or beautiful form manifests.
    The fragrance of this slightly opened bud is His guna, or qualities.
    When the bud finally blooms fully and open wide, then His lila, or eternal daily pastimes are manifested.

Thus, the internal spiritual advancement similarly develops for a fortunate soul who properly chants this third branch of Kalyan Kalpa-taru.

Then, the final song entitled rasa-kirtana reveals the culmination of the spiritual life of the aspiring devotee --- in the perfect spiritual body of a gopi, one hears Krsna's flute calling and becomes stricken with anxiously frantic insanity. Then, due to the overwhelming transcendental desire to please Krsna with the whole of her existence, she madly rushes to the forest to meet Him for the rasa dance. Coming into the clearing and beholding Krsna in her mood of total self-surrender, the gopi. . . Just then Thakura Bhaktivinoda, fearing that the reading may not have the adhikara (qualification) to hear about what happens next, trows his pen down violently on the table and cries out in exasperation, "why in my pen so feeble? It cannot possibly express all these ecstatic pastimes with Krsna which are causing my heart to throb incessantly! Curses on this weak, useless pen! But maybe it's trying to tell me something. The persons who read this book may not be fit to hear the confidential pastimes that are enjoyed by meeting with Krsna and sporting in the forest with Him in thousands of different ecstatic lilas. So therefore, I better take heed of this message hinted to me by my crippled, impotent pen, thus end my kirtana here." Thus Thakura Bhaktivinoda ends Kalyan Kalpa-taru, leaving those readers who do have the adhikara on the edge of their seats. . .


The Sun News Editorials Features Sun Blogs Classifieds Events Recipes PodCasts

About Submit an Article Contact Us Advertise

Copyright 2005, All rights reserved.