|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Swami > Associates of Shri Chaitanya > Introduction|
Shrimad Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaj
The contents of this book first appeared as a series of articles in Shri Chaitanya Vani (“Lord Chaitanya’s Gospel”), a monthly magazine exclusively devoted to spiritual subject matters. Those articles have here been brought together to form a single volume, the first of two which will eventually be published. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Bhakti Varidhi Parivrajaka Maharaj, I hope that this will facilitate the devotees’ relishing the activities of the Lord’s associates. Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu is the supreme truth and his associates are also transcendental, beyond matter. They are thus not accessible to the material senses, mind and intelligence. Since the transcendental is by nature self-manifest, one can only understand their glories through their causeless mercy. Just as the glories of the Lord are unlimited, so too are the glories of His devotees without end. Those who are not surrendered have no right of entry into these mysteries. Amongst those who are surrendered, too, there are varying degrees of surrender that produce varying degrees of ability to perceive their glories. The jiva who is covered by an assortment of anarthas cannot approach an understanding of the glories of Vishnu and the Vaishnavas. Even when such persons attempt to glorify them, the inevitable result is an insult. Nevertheless, if one recognizes one’s own unworthiness and humbly glorifies them in a prayerful attitude, the Vaishnavas will forgive them any flaws in their presentation. The satisfied glance of the Vaishnavas frees the jiva from his anarthas and brings him all auspiciousness. Even though the neophyte devotee is inadequate in so many ways and is thus unable to glorify Krishna and His devotees in a satisfactory way, if he does not do so his inadequacies will remain. The only hope for the fallen souls is that the Vaishnavas are merciful and that they will not find fault. Anyone who engages honestly in their service will find that by their mercy, all obstacles are eliminated and that he attains all desired goals.
The pure devotee is very rare in this world; it is only due to great fortune that one can meet and associate with such a devotee. In the Chaitanya Charitamrita (1.1.20-1), it is said, “By meditating on the guru, the Vaishnava and the Lord, all obstacles are destroyed and all desires are fulfilled.” “All perfections come from the mercy of the Vaishnavas.” “The jiva who glorifies the qualities of the devotees is liberated. This have I heard from my guru and from the saintly persons.”
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s direct associates, the Six Goswamis, daily paid thousands of obeisances to the Vaishnavas. Indeed, one should spend some time meditating on the Vaishnavas every single day. An important element of devotional service is the regular observance of Vaishnavas’ appearance and disappearance days. On these occasions, one should remember them, pray to them for their mercy and glorify their qualities in kirtan. We at the Chaitanya Gaudiya Math annually publish a Vaishnava calendar in which all the different fasting days and feasts are indicated; all the known appearance and disappearance days which have been noted therein. The purpose of this book is to assist the devotees who wish to remember the Vaishnavas, to pray to them, and especially to glorify them in kirtan.
One chants the glories of the merciful devotees of Shri Chaitanya because he wishes to rid himself of all tendencies that lead away from devotional service and to develop attachment for Krishna. Sometimes, however, he finds that there is absolutely no change in his nature. He does not attain the desired result because he is not able to glorify them adequately due to his incapacities. Nevertheless, one cannot give it the effort because the lotus feet of the Vaishnavas are the only recourse for the fallen.
In researching the holy activities of Chaitanya’s associates, I became aware that many details of their lives are unavailable. Many of their appearance and disappearance tithis (lunar dates) and years are unknown, as are their places of birth, the names of their parents and their ancestors. This information could thus not be given in all cases. Some readers may find that the language used to describe the devotees’ lives is not sufficiently poetic and thus not find the joy in reading these accounts as they had hoped.
The chief editor and president of Chaitanya Vani magazine, the most venerable Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaj has rained down countless blessings on us to enthuse us in the performance of this service. He is our siksha guru. He himself has contributed to this edition by making corrections wherever possible, and in some instances added new information about certain of the associates’ lives.
We thank everyone who contributed for the publication of this book. I pray that the blessings of the guru, the Vaishnavas and the Supreme Lord fall upon them.
I pay thousands of prostrated obeisances to the lotus feet of my guru, the purifier of the sinful, to the lotus feet of my parama gurudeva, Shrila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, to the feet of my siksha guru, Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaj, and to all the other disciples of Shrila Prabhupada, who are all siksha gurus, and I pray for their causeless mercy and their blessings.
Servant of the servant of the Vaishnavas,
Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha.