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Naren Babu questions the Brahmo preceptor by letter
In the morning, Naren Babu posted a long letter he had written the previous night. The letter was addressed to the head Brahmo preceptor. In it he glorified devotional service and condemned dry speculation. He wrote in detail specifically about the condition of his mind, and he asked the Acarya some questions.
Prema-kunja and the festival therewhich everyone joined
Just after sending the letter, one Vaishnava came and invited everyone for a festival at Prema-kunja. Anand Babu, Babaji, Mallik Mahashaya, and Naren Babu all promised to attend.
At ten o'clock in the morning after finishing puja, prayers, and the reading of shastra, they all went to Prema-kunja. Prema-kunja is a most sanctified place, surrounded by a wall and beautified by many madhavi creepers. The Deities of Lord Gauranga and Nityananda Prabhu were situated in front of a broad courtyard. Many Vaishnavas were performing kirtana there.
Visiting Vaishnavas were gradually coming. They all sat in the courtyard and discussed various topics.
Within the kunja there was one room for the Vaishnavis. One Vaishnavi named Prema-bhavini was reciting Chaitanya-caritamrita there.
Even though the Vaishnavi's room was separate, still male Vaishnavas were not forbidden to visit.
The woman's room at Prema-kunja and Prema-bhavini's recitation of Chaitanya-caritamrita
Naren Babu said to Anand Babu, “You see, I don't find any difference between the ashramas of the Brahmos and the Vaishnavas. As the woman Brahmos read and sing, the woman Vaishnavas do the same here. This arrangement is not new for the Vaishnavas. So there is no doubt that the Brahmos have seen this system and followed it.”
After gradually moving forward, Naren Babu and Anand Babu arrived at the woman's room. They saw all the female servants of Krishna sitting in the dust. Prema-bhavini was sitting on a small asana and reciting shastra. She was wearing plain white cloth. Her forehead was marked with long tilaka, and her neck was decorated with tulasi beads. Her limbs were marked with the holy name of Hari. Near her was an acamana cup. The Vaishnavis sitting around her were wearing the same dress and holding japa-mala in their hands. They were all looking at Prema-bhavini's face like cataka birds. She was sweetly reciting from Chaitanya-caritamrita (2.23.9-13):
kona bhagye kona jivera `shraddha' yadi hayatabe sei jiva `sadhu-sanga' ye karaya.sadhu-sanga haite haya `shravana-kirtana'sadhana-bhaktye haya `sarvanartha-nivartana.'anartha-nivritti haile bhaktye `nishtha' hayanishtha haite shravanadye `ruci' upajaya.ruci haite bhaktye haya `asakti' pracuraasakti haite citte janme krishne prity-ankurasei `bhava' gadha haile dhare `prema'-namasei prema—`prayojana' sarvananda-dhama
“If, by good fortune, a living entity develops faith in Krishna, he begins to associate with devotees. When one is encouraged in devotional service by the association of devotees, one becomes free from all unwanted contamination by following the regulative principles and chanting and hearing. When one is freed from all unwanted contamination, he advances with firm faith. When firm faith in devotional service awakens, a taste for hearing and chanting also awakens. After taste is awakened, a deep attachment arises, and from that attachment the seed of love for Krishna grows in the heart. When that ecstatic emotional stage intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. Such love is life's ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure.”
One of the listeners, a young lady named Rasa-bhavini, asked, “Sakhi, what is rati?”
Hearing that question, Prema-bhavini replied, “Rati is the seedling of prema.”
Rasa-bhavini slightly smiled and again inquired, “Where does rati reside, and unto whom should it be reposed?”
Prema-bhavini was an experienced Vaishnavi. She had many times already discussed all these topics and understood the conclusions. Hearing Rasa-bhavini's question, Prema-bhavini's heart melted in ecstatic love and incessant tears began to flow from her eyes. She began to speak.
“Sakhi, don't harbor worldly consciousness in spiritual subject matters. This is not the rati that you hear about in the debauchee's perverted sensual activities. The rati in the material body is burnt in the crematorium along with the body. It doesn't permanently remain with you. The rati experienced in the dealings between men and women in this world—that is very insignificant, because the pleasure of the body is finished with the body. The living entity is spirit soul, he has an eternal body. In that eternal body every living entity is stri, or enjoyed, and Shri Krishnacandra is the only purusha, or enjoyer. The demands of the material body should be reduced and those of the eternal body should be increased. As a woman's rati, or affection, rushes severely towards a man, the transcendental rati of the eternal stri's body rushes towards Shri Krishna. The heart's lust for sense objects is called rati. But the spiritual body's natural lust for Krishna is the living entity's eternal rati. Sakhi, if that rati is not manifest, then why you'll give up everything—honor and respect—to live in Vraja. Rati is a natural propensity. It is causeless. On seeing the sense objects it becomes agitated. As I said previously, rati is the seed of prema. This seed should be sprouted by the watering process of hearing and chanting.”
As Prema-bhavini spoke feelings of ecstasy arose in her. She became restless and fell, while exclaiming, “O Lord of my heart, where are You?” Everyone became anxious and chanted hari-nama to her.
Naren Babu said to Anand Babu, “See, here's an example of pure love. Those fools who call Vaishnavas debauchees are most unfortunate. They cannot understand what Vaishnava prema is.”
Honoring prasada at the Prema-kunja festival
Meanwhile, a conch shell was blown and all the Vaishnavas assembled in the courtyard. All the visiting Vaishnavas sat down to honor the festival prasada. In order to show respect to the renounced Vaishnavas, the grihastha Vaishnavas waited. There arose loud chanting of the names Shri Gauranga and Nityananda. Everyone began taking prasada saying, “Prema sukhe.” While taking sak, or spinach, one Vaishnava took a few strands in his mouth and cried out, “Oh! How much happiness Krishnacandra had eating this sak!” Taking krishna-prasada, they were all overwhelmed thinking how Krishna was pleased. After honoring prasada, everyone got up while chanting “Hari bol!” with love and devotion.
Hearing the glories of the Vaishnava's remnants, the two Babus and Mallik Mahashaya honor some
The festival organizers gathered together some of the Vaishnava's remnants. When Anand Babu asked Yogi Babaji about this, Babaji replied, “That prasada is called adharamrita, or nectar of the lip's. Whoever is averse to honoring this adharamrita due to caste consciousness is a pretender and devoid of equanimity. He cannot be considered a Vaishnava. The festival's adharamrita is the testing ground for those who are proud of their caste. Particularly, the visiting Vaishnavas have purified all types of people; for by taking their remnants with love, one's pride of birth is vanquished. When one's pride of birth is vanquished, one can get krishna-bhakti.” Anand Babu, Mallik Mahashaya, and Naren Babu then honored those remnants with great love and devotion.
Only Vaishnavas can bring unity among humans
Naren Babu said, “I see that only Vaishnavism has the purity to bring unity amongst humans. The Brahmos are falsely proud of their equanimity, but in practice they're not magnanimous. Now I understand that in cultivating religiosity one must know that all living entities are equal. It is the opinion of the Aryans that one should maintain some discrimination in matters of worldly dealings and birth. When it is seen that caste is simply based on worldly discrimination, then the defects that the Brahmos point out in judging caste is simply extraneous.” Anand Babu and Mallik Mahashaya both supported Naren's conclusion.
Everyone thus finished taking prasada. All the Vaishnavas chanted “Hari bol!” as they returned to their own places. One old Vaishnavi was the manager of Prema-kunja. She affectionately took Anand Babu, Naren Babu, and Mallik Mahashaya to the woman's room and had them sit down. They were all pleased, being enchanted by her motherly affection. The old Vaishnavi inquired, “Where is your residence? By your speech it appears you are from Calcutta.”
Mallik Mahashaya, Anand Babu, and Naren Babu then gave their introductions.
Prema-bhavini introduces herself as Naren Babu's pisima and discussions of their pastincrease their affection
Listening to Naren Babu's introduction, Prema-bhavini moved forward and asked, “Can you recognize me?”
Naren Babu said, “No.”
Prema-bhavini said, “Can you say where your aunt is now?”
Naren Babu said, “When I was just a child my aunt went to Kashi. She never returned home. I can somewhat remember her features. She used to put me to sleep with stories about dacoits.”
Prema-bhavini said, “I'm that aunt of yours! When I left you and went to Kashi, I found that very painful. I stayed in Kashi for some time but found the association to be not good so I came to Vrindavana. I've been living in this kunja for the last twenty years. Since coming here, I've become attached to Vaishnavism. I've read all the Vaishnava literatures, listened to the sadhu's instructions, and gradually taken complete shelter of Hari's lotus feet. Since coming here I haven't tried to get news about you or written any letter to you. I remained silent fearing that if I inquired about you I may fall into the material whirlpool again. After seeing you today I'm feeling a kind of jubilation. Seeing you with tilaka and japa beads, I couldn't think of you as a family member. In my father's side everyone was a shakta, or worshiper of Devi. Please tell me how you've become a Vaishnava.”
Naren Babu told everything about himself. Hearing this Prema-bhavini became overwhelmed with joy and couldn't speak. “Hey Nanda-tanaya! Hey Gopi-jana-vallabha! Who can understand on what pretext You accept someone and bestow mercy on him.” Saying this, Prema-bhavini fell to the ground. Her hairs stood on end, and her body began perspiring and shivering.
Naren Babu picked his father's sister up with affection as if she were his mother. On seeing this, Anand Babu and Mallik Mahashaya were somewhat bewildered. Rasa-bhavini, Krishna-kangalini, Hari-rangini, and other Vaishnavis smeared their bodies with the dust from Prema-bhavini's feet while sweetly chanting. One old Vaishnavi said, “Prema-bhavini's life has become successful. She is illumined with that love of God which is difficult for even Lord Brahma to attain.”
After some time Prema-bhavini came to her external senses. She opened her eyes and, while crying, began to say, “Naren! Stay for a few days and visit me daily. Let your devotion to your guru's feet be fixed. Without the mercy of the guru, no one can have Krishna's mercy. When you go home, take some Vraja dust for your mother.”
Naren Babu said, “Pisima! If you wish to go home, I will take you with special care.”
Prema-bhavini said, “Darling, I've become indifferent to everything. I no longer desire nice food, nice clothes, nice house, or loving relations. I strongly desire to serve Krishna with a fixed mind. Had you not taken shelter of Vaishnavism, I wouldn't have introduced myself to you. The devotees of Krishna are my mother and father—they are my friends and brothers. Only Krishna is my husband. Leaving life with Krishna, I won't go anywhere. You stay well and worship Krishna.”
They depart from Prema-kunja and see some cowherd boys' Vasanta festival on the way
At that time, Yogi Babaji called them. Mallik Mahashaya, Naren Babu, and Anand Babu offered obeisances to the old Vaishnavi and Prema-bhavini and went to the outer room.
Babaji said, “The day is over, let's go to our kunja.” Saying this the four started off.
After going some distance they saw a kadamba forest. There were a few Vraja boys dressed as cowherds dancing under a tree. As they danced, they softly chanted the following song in Vasanta raga:
abhinava kutala, guccha samujjala,
pranayi jane rata, candana sahakrita,
jaya jaya sundara nanda-kumara
saurabha sankata, vrindavana-tata,
adhara-virajita, mandatara ita,
locita nija parivara
catula drigancala, racita rasoccala,
bhuvana-vimohana, manjula narttana,
gati valgita mani-hara
“O beautiful son of Nanda! All glories to Your Vasanta pastimes in Vrindavana, which is filled with the fragrance of flowers. Your curling hair beautifies the fresh budding flowers in it, and Your body is decorated with powdered dyes thrown by Your beloveds. The sweet gentle smile on Your lips make the gopis jubilant, and Your fleeting glance overwhelms Shrimati Radharani with love. Your nectarean dancing pose, which captivates the world, causes Your jeweled necklace to move to and fro on Your chest. You are the eternal friend of the surrendered souls and have incarnated to sport in their hearts. (or: You are dwelling in the heart of Sanatana Gosvami as his best well-wisher.)”
Moving a little forward, Anand Babu inquired, “O boys! What are you doing?”
One of the boys stepped forward and said, “We are engrossed in our life's treasure—Krishna's Vasanta festival.”
Anand Babu asked, “Will you take some money?”
The boys replied, “Krishna's forest pastimes don't require money. Green leaves, flutes, horns, sticks, cows, and lovers—these are the ingredients of Krishna's pastimes. Sweetness is the only mood of Krishna's pastimes. We don't know what opulence is. I am Subala, he is Shridama, he is Balarama, this is a stick, that's a horn, this is a kadamba forest, and we are all lovers of Krishna. What need do we have? You may depart, the time for our service is running out.”
Relishing the mood of Vraja,they enter Yogi Babaji's kunja
Anand Babu and Naren Babu left that place and went ahead to Babaji, who replied to their inquiry, “Why do you ask about vraja-bhava? Everyone here has this sentiment, and everything is absorbed in this mood. All the boys are spiritually situated. See, even the trees are humbly bending down, being absorbed in Krishna's pastimes in the cave. Time to time the birds sing “Radha-Krishna.” Alas! Vrindavana is such a strange sight for those who are engaged in argument.”
As Babaji spoke, feelings of ecstasy arose in him. Exclaiming, “Hey Radhe! Hey Vrindavaneshvari!” he became stunned.
Seeing Babaji's condition, Anand Babu and Naren Babu ecstatically chanted, “Hari! Hari!” and began dancing.
Anand Babu said, “Isn't it strange! Brahmacarya Mahashaya wants to save all these boys from the pit of idol worship! I would have written him, `Vaidya-raja! Heal your own disease.'”
After a little while they all danced in ecstasy as they entered Yogi Babaji's kunja.
Giving up argument, the two Babus execute devotional practices with the Vaishnavas
Everyday the Babus read devotional literatures, discussed the Absolute Truth, chanted hari-kirtana, performed parikrama, honored maha-prasada, had Deity darshana, and performed various other devotional practice. The two Babus found nothing interesting outside the Vaishnava's association. If someone wanted to argue, they would say the time of argument has passed. “Let the Brahmo followers argue over whether the Absolute Truth has form or not and what is religion and irreligion. Let us remain enchanted by drinking the nectar of hari-bhakti. Where ignorance is bliss, it's folly to be wise.”
In this way a few weeks passed.