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Shri Sarvabhauma Bhattacarja;
Shri Basudeb Sarbabhauma Bhattacarja was the very dear associate of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His birthplace, Biddanagar, is a few miles from Campahati, which is just near the present town of Nabadwip. His father's name was Maheswar Bisarad, and his brother's name was BiddaBacaspati.
Sarbabhauma Bhattacarja was at that time the foremost logician in all of India. He had travelled to Mithila where he studied logic under Shri Pakkadhar Misra, his guru. His guru would not allow anyone to copy any of the manuscripts from which he taught logic, therefore it was necessary for Sarbabhauma to memorize all of the verses in entirety before he could return to Nabadwip. After his return, Nabadwip very quickly became the foremost centre for the study of logic (the Oxford of India).
At that time the foremost student of the Bhattacarja was Raghunath Siromani, who wrote a commentary on logic entitled Didhiti. In order not to damage the pride of this Raghunath Siromani, Mahaprabhu (Nimai Pandit) threw his own commentary into the river Ganges.
Sarbabhauma Bhattacarja was also a renowned scholar of the Bedanta of Sankaracarja, which he taught to thousands of his students. Due to the earnest desire of Shri Prataparudra Deb, the king of Orissa, he came to Jagannath Puri to teach the Bedanta.
There, as we all know, he was blessed with the mercy of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. All of these pastimes have been nicely described in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita. Here follows an excerpt from Chaitanya Bhagavat
wherein the deliverance of Sarbabhauma Bhattacarja has also been described.
One day Prabhu took Sarbabhauma with Him and sat down in a secluded place. He told him, "Listen Sarbabhauma Mahasoy, I need to have a heart-to-heart talk with you. I came here to see Lord Jagannath but other than that the main reason I came here was to see you. Will Lord Jagannath speak to me? Rather you are the one to break the shackles of my material bondage. Shri Krishna's full potencies are within you and thus you have the power to give one Krishnaprema bhakti (loving devotion to Shri Krishna). Now I have taken shelter of you; please do whatever is best for me.
Which of the scriptural prescriptions should I specifically follow and how should I conduct myself so that I might not fall into the well of material life. Since you are affectionate to me, I hope that you will sincerely instruct me in such a straightforward manner that I will be able to understand and follow. Now I am completely yours to do with as you see fit."
In this way, by the veil of yogmaya, Shri Gaur Hari affectionately enticed Sarbabhauma into the illusion of thinking himself the benefactor and instructor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Sarbabhauma wasn't sensitive enough to detect the outcome of the Lord's opening move and he proceeded to describe religious principles meant for conditioned living entities. He first of all told him, "After hearing everything you have told me I have come to love you very much. There has been a truly remarkable appearance of devotion in you which is really beyond description. Krishna's mercy upon you is evident by your equipoised dealings with everyone. You are naturally very intelligent but why have you taken sannyas? You should carefully consider what it means to take sannyas. First point is that there is every likelihood of becoming infatuated with one's own vanity and self-conceit. Simply by holding a staff does one automatically attain knowledge? And while holding that staff you cannot greet anyone with folded palms. That means you are not to show respect to anyone. Rather others can freely come to take the dust of your lotus feet. These are the injunctions of the scriptures. This religion of pride is never beneficial. Do you understand what the Bhagavat has to say about this?
"Knowing that the Supreme Lord Himself is present within the hearts of all living entities one should fall down on the ground to offer his dandabats even to dogs, cows, asses and candalas."
[Bhag.11.29.16 & 3.29.34]
This is the meaning of Baisnab Dharma. But it is not the religion of he who likes to falsely advertise himself as a great, spiritually advanced sadhu. This is the advantage of renouncing one's sikha and brahman thread; that all classes of men will come to offer their respects to you. So this is the first loss.
Now the other detriment is that one's intelligence becomes decayed. The natural religion for living entities is to worship the Supreme Lord. But if someone gives that up to call himself Narayan then what has he gained? While in the womb it was that Supreme Lord Who protected us. By His mercy one is blessed with intelligence, knowledge and learning. The rulers of this universe and beyond, Ananta Sesh, Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and the Goddess of Fortune, Rama debi though they are already His servants nevertheless continually pray that they can become His servants. His servants are the agents of creation, maintenance and dissolution. Who is that shameless god who calls himself Prabhu; who tries to equate himself with the Supreme Lord? When he goes to sleep he doesn't even know who he is, yet still he calls himself Narayan. The Bedas state that Krishna is the Supreme Father of everyone. Therefore those who are devoted to their Father are called good sons. Please hear what Narayan has explained about sannyas to Arjuna in the Gita sastra.
"Those who work without attachment to the results of their activities but who simply strive to please the Supreme Lord by execution of their religious duties are actually sannyasis and yogis. Those who have simply renounced the performances of (fire) sacrifices are not real sannyasis nor are those who have given up bodily activities real yogis." [B.G.6.1]
Within the category of those who render unmotivated service to Krishna can be seen the symptoms of yogis and sannyasis. If one does nothing to serve the Supreme Lord but simply eats the sweet rice offered him by others out of respect, then what has he accomplished? What do the scriptures say?
"Whatever is pleasing to Shri Hari is the only duty of living entities and whatever subject matter is in relation to Shri Hari is called wisdom. Because He is the indwelling Cause and Controller." [Bhag.4.29.49-50]
That which gives rise to affection for the Supreme Lord within living beings can be called dharma (religion), karma (proper activities) and sadacar (right conduct). That which fixes one's mind at the lotus feet of Shri Krishna can be called knowledge, study and mantra. Krishna is the Life of all that lives, the Father of all created beings. Whoever neglects His worship renders everything else useless. If you say that this is not the verdict of Sankaracarja, I can only reply with his own words that his only aim and object is to become a servant (of Krishna).
"Though in this world the Supreme Lord is manifest everywhere by His undifferentiated potency, still we have our existence in Him. Not that He has His existence in us . Just as there is no difference between the waves of the ocean and the ocean itself. Still the waves have their existence in the ocean and not vice-versa. Neither can the wave ever become the ocean."
Therefore the world belongs to Him, Who is the Supreme Father. In this world and the after world He is our only protector. From Him we take our birth and it is He Who maintains us. Whoever neglects His worship should be rejected.
This is the actual intention of Sankaracarja and these are his words. Without knowing this what is the value of simply shaving the head? Having accepted sannyas one should always chant the name of Narayan with loving devotion. However, without understanding the purpose of Sankaracarja if one simply shaves his head then he will only get into trouble. Therefore I am curious as to why you have accepted such a path? If, by the cultivation of devotion to Krishna I can be delivered, then what do I have to gain by renouncing my sikha and brahman thread? Now you might mention for example, the name of Madhabendra Puri, but at your age how have you so easily attained that level, which qualifies you to take sannyas? Rather it is seen that the previous stalwart sages before you, have accepted sannyas towards the end of their life after first enjoying the grosser pleasures of this world. You have only just entered your youth! How is it you will become qualified to be a sannyasi? In terms of transcendental realization I don't know what sannyas is supposed to accomplish? Already the devotion that is manifest in your body is very rarely attained by great sages like the Nava Jogendras. I just don't know why you have put yourself in this unfortunate and dangerous position!?"
Shri Gaurachandra Narayan was very pleased to hear from Sarbabhauma this exposition on the super-excellency of devotional service.
Prabhu replied, "Listen Sarbabhauma Mahasoy! You don't know for certain that I am a sannyasi. Rather, I became very perplexed due to feeling separation from Krishna and in that state of mind I shaved off my sikha, discarded my brahman thread and came out from my house. Don't consider me to be a sannyasi. Instead, bless my with your mercy that my intentions, inclination and intelligence all take refuge in Krishna."
When the Lord Himself becomes absorbed in the illusion of thinking Himself a servant, then how can His servant, being influenced by this appearance, possibly recognize Him? If He doesn't reveal Himself then who has the power to know Him? When His servant says so many things while in this illusioned condition that is also a great source of pleasure to the Lord. The Lord enjoys His sportive pastimes with His devotees and on account of them He descends into this material world.
"In whatever way Krishna's servants worship His lotus feet, He in turn adores His devotees in the same reciprocal way." [B.G.4.11]
This is the natural characteristic of Shri Bhakta Batsal. Who is there who is sufficiently powerful to prevent Him from behaving in this fashion?
Prabhu smiled at Sarbabhauma but Sarbabhauma couldn't understand anything, absorbed as he was in the Lord's deception.
Sarbabhauma continued, "According to your ashram you are superior to me and in the opinion of the sastra you are to be praised and I am your worshipper. It is not at all fitting that you should eulogize me. This constitutes an offence on my part."
Prabhu, "Please! Give up this deception with me. I have completely accepted shelter at your feet." In this way the Lord plays with His servants. Who can understand His inconceivable pastimes?
Prabhu continued, "I have one desire. I wish to hear the Bhagavat from your mouth. There is no one else but you to remove whatever doubts are within my heart."
Sarbabhauma, "I am quite aware that you are well versed in all branches of knowledge. What meanings can there possibly be in the Bhagavat with which you are not already fully conversant? In what way can I possibly help you to understand anything? Nevertheless, since it is the natural characteristic and behaviour of enlightened persons that they mutually and reciprocally discuss the mellows of devotion, in that case I suppose we can proceed. Just exactly where lie your doubts? I will try to explain whatever I can as far as I am able."
Then the Lord of Baikuntha smiled slightly as He recited one verse:
atmaramasca munayo nirgrantha apyurukrame |
kurvvantyahaitukim bhakti mitthambhuta guno harih ||
Through the mercy of the husband of Sarasvati debi, Sarbabhauma now began to explain that verse before Shri Gaurachandra, "The true meaning of this verse is that devotion to Krishna's lotus feet is the first principle for all living beings. Those who are materially unentangled, both internally and externally, are always full in themselves and not in need of anything. However it should be understood that devotion to Krishna is the cause of such liberation. Such are the natural characteristics and great effectiveness of His wonderful qualities. Those who sing of His name and qualities are fully liberated. Those who are inattentive in this matter are destroyed. In this and various other ways Sarbabhauma explained that verse while totally rapt in its manifold meanings. After he had explained it in thirteen different ways he concluded, saying, "I cannot go any further."
Prabhu Gaurachandra smiled slightly as He said to him, "Everything that you have explained is correct. Now let me see if I can explain anything about this verse. You please decide if what I am saying is correct or not, based on the scriptural proofs."
Sarbabhauma Mahasoy was surprised to hear Prabhu's proposition and exclaimed, "It is not within the ability of a human being to delineate any further meanings of this verse.
Prabhu now proceeded to explain His own meanings, which are beyond the capacity of anyone else to trace out, even with the farthest reaches of their imagination.
Sarbabhauma was completely astonished to hear those explanations and thus thought to himself, "Is this the Supreme Lord?"
As He concluded His explanation of that verse the Lord began to roar very loudly. Now He manifested His true self, standing before Sarbabhauma in His six armed form. "Sarbabhauma! So what is your decision? Am I fit to take sannyas or not? Do you see Me in your heart as a sannyasi? I have appeared here just for you. For many lifetimes you sacrificed your life, due to your love for Me. Therefore I have come to show Myself to you. With the appearance of sankirtan I have advented Myself. Other than Me nothing else exists within the unlimited universes. Birth after birth you have been My servant, attached to Me in unalloyed love. Therefore I have now revealed Myself to you. To deliver the pious and annihilate the miscreants I have come. You have nothing to fear. Now just recite My praises."
Sarbabhauma Mahasoy had fainted to see such an unprecedented six armed form, effulgent with the light of ten million suns. The six armed Gaurachandra Narayan continued His roaring which shook the earth and everything on it. Prabhu, Who was enjoying Himself very much, spoke to Sarbabhauma from within his heart, telling him to get up. Placing His hand on Sarbabhauma's head, the brahmana got back his consciousness but he remained inert. Due to excessive ecstatic excitement no words came into his mouth. Now the ocean of mercy, Shri Gaursundor placed His lotus feet above Sarbabhauma's heart, which caused him to be thoroughly saturated with ecstatic love.
Sarbabhauma firmly caught hold of those lotus feet and cried in the happiness of ecstatic love, "Today I finally caught that thief who steals my mind away." His crying was enough to rend one's heart as he tightly held on to the most prized possession of Rama debi.
"Oh the Lord of my life, Shri Krishna Chaitanya! Please bestow Your glance of mercy on this despicable wretch who is me. Such a sinful creature as me has proposed to teach You religion, ignorant as I was of Your inconceivable mysteries. Who is there, even amongst great masters of mystic yoga, who is unaffected by the illusion of Your mystic potency (maya). I don't know what surprises You have, which are next in store for me, but I hope that You will simply give me loving devotion to Your lotus feet."
"All glories, all glories to Shri Krishna Chaitanya, the Lord of my life. All glories, all glories to He Who was begotten from the womb of the chaste Sacidebi. All glories, all glories to Shri Krishna Chaitanya, the Life of all that lives. All glories, all glories to the protector of the Bedas, bipras, sadhus and dharma. All glories, all glories to the Supreme Controller of the Baikunthas and other planetary systems. All glories, all glories to the Personification of unalloyed goodness, the best of the sannyasis."
Sarbabhauma was supremely intelligent and in his present state of elevated consciousness he continued to recite verses, one after the other.
"To that Supreme Lord, Who has manifested Himself as Shri Krishna Chaitanya, in order to re-establish loving devotion to Himself, which, due to the force of time had practically disappeared from the world; to those lotus feet of His may the bumblebee of my mind become deeply attached."
"The Supreme Absolute Truth, that Supreme Person, has descended as the ocean of mercy, Shri Krishna Chaitanya, in order to disseminate amongst the fallen souls of this world, His own devotional service, knowledge of Himself and renunciation. No one in all the three worlds is greater than or equal to Him. May the name, form, qualities and lotus feet of that Ocean of Mercy continually shine within my heart."
In this way Sarbabhauma recited a hundred verses while holding on to the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya.
"You have descended to deliver the fallen. Well, I am one of those fallen souls my Lord, so I hope that You will rescue me. I have been bound tightly and for a long time with unlimited ropes, among them wealth, education and aristocratic birth. In this condition how was I to know You? Now please bestow Your mercy, Oh Lord of all that lives. May my consciousness be continually absorbed in You, day and night. Your Divine play is inconceivable and incomprehensible. Unless You cause one to understand, no one has the power on their own to understand anything. It is You only Who resides here in Nilacal in Your wooden form of Jagannath. With great eagerness and delight You are sitting here partaking of Your own prasadam. While seeing Yourself, tears flow from Your eyes, and You become madly intoxicated. Who can conceive of Your glories? Only You are capable of knowing Yourself. Those who are receptacles of Your mercy may also know You to some extent. What can such an abominable and hateful wretch as myself hope to understand when even the demigods headed by Lord Siva and Lord Brahma obey the dictates of Your illusory potency." Thus Sarbabhauma continued to recite many verses and hymns, supplicating himself to the Lord, Whose mercy he had received.
The six armed form of Narayan Gaurachandra smiled as He spoke to Sarbabhauma, "Listen Sarbabhauma, you are My eternal associate. You have worshipped Me much and therefore I have come here on your account, to show You some of My opulences. In hearing the glories of devotion from you I have become supremely satisfied. Everything you have spoken is the Absolute Truth; why should you speak otherwise? These hundred verses which you have recited will become famous as Sarbabhauma Satak. Whoever recites or hears these slokas will certainly attain devotion to Me.
Whatever you have seen you should however keep concealed, so that no one should come to know. As long as I am present in this world I forbid you to speak of this to anyone.
My second body is Nityananda Candra. You should worship His two lotus feet with devotion. He is a very profound and mysterious person. One can understand Him only if I make him understand.
After telling all of these Truths to Sarbabhauma the Lord again concealed His opulences and assumed His former appearance. In being able to recognize his Lord and Master Sarbabhauma was floating in an ocean of ecstasy, devoid of external consciousness. [C.B.Antya 3]
Sarbabhauma Bhattacarja was previously Brhaspati, the guru of the demigods.