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Shri Shyamananda Prabhu;
Those who know the associates of Shri Gauranga to be eternally liberated souls will attain their place by the side of the Son of the King of Braja. Shri Shyamananda Prabhu, Shrinibas Acarja Prabhu and Shri Narottam das Thakur were the internal associates of Shri Gaursundor. They incarnated in this world in order to spread the teachings of Shri GauraKrishna after His departure from it.
Shri Shyamananda made his appearance at Utkal (Orissa) in the village of Dharenda Bahadurpur. His father's name was Shri Krishna Mandal and his mother's name was Shri Durika. Shri Krishna Mandal descended in the line of sad gopas (cultivators). They had many sons and daughters who unfortunately passed away before the birth of this son. For this reason this son was named Dukhiya.
Everyone said that this child would be a very high-souled saintly person. "On the full moon day of the month of Caitra he has taken his birth at a very auspicious moment, by the mercy of Lord Jagannath. It is as though Lord Jagannath has personally brought him here in order to propagate His teachings, and therefore He is personally maintaining him. He looks just like a new Cupid. One's eyes and mind are soothed just to look upon him."
As time passed, the purificatory rites, his first taking of grains, tonsure (the hair cutting ceremony) and the rites for beginning his education were performed, one after the other. The scholars were astounded to see his profound intellect. Within a short period he completed his studies of grammar, poetry and rhetoric.
When he heard of the glories of Shri GauraNityananda from the Baisnabs of his village, a very deep attachment to Their lotus feet developed in him. Shri Krishna Mandal was himself a very advanced devotee. Seeing that his son was always absorbed in thinking of GauraNityananda, he told him that he should be initiated with the divine mantra.
The boy replied, "Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya is my guru. He is at Ambika Kalna. His guru is Shri Gauri das Pandit. The two brothers, Shri NitaiGaurachandra, are eternally present in his house. If you give your permission, I will proceed there to become his disciple."
His father asked, "But Duhkhiya, how will you get there?"
"Father, there are many people from here who go there to bath in the Ganges. I will go with them."
His father deliberated for a great while on this matter and after doing so he finally gave his permission. Duhkhiya took the dust of his mother's and father's feet and then set out for Gaurdesh. Gradually he came to Nabadwip, then Santipur and finally Ambika Kalna, where he inquired from the local people where he might find the house of Gauri das Pandit.
Outside the gate of the mandir, he fell down and offered his dandabats. Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya happened to be going out just at that moment. He looked at him for a few moments and then asked, "Who are you?"
Dukhiya replied, "I have come to serve Your lotus feet. My home is at Dharenda Bahadurpur. I was born in the caste of sadgopas. My father's name is Shri Krishna Mandal. My name is Duhkhiya."
Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya was very pleased by his sweet speech. He told the boy, "From now your name is Krishna das. Since early this morning I was feeling that someone would come today."
Shri Krishna das began his service with great devotion, and on an auspicious day his guru initiated him into the divine mantra. Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya could see that his new disciple was extremely intelligent and at the same time very devoted, so he ordered him to go to Brindaban to study the literatures of the Gosvamis under the tutelage of Shrila Jiva Gosvami.
Shri Krishna das bowed his head in assent, and on an auspicious day he set out for the holy dham. At the time of his departure, his guru gave him many instructions and conveyed through his disciple his obeisances to the lotus feet of the Gosvamis of Brindaban.
Duhkhi Krishna das first came to Nabadwip. After inquiring from someone as to the whereabouts of Shri Jagannath Misra Bhavan, he came there and went inside. Seeing Shri Isan Thakur, he fell down and offered his obeisances. Isan Thakur asked him who he was so he introduced himself. Isan Thakur blessed him and he remained there that day.
The next day he set out for Mathura with a party of pilgrims.
Upon coming to Gaya Dham he took darshan of the lotus feet of Shri Bisnu. He remembered Mahaprabhu's lila of accepting initiation from Shri Isvar Puri here and became overwhelmed in ecstatic love. From Gaya he came to Kasi Dham where he met with Tapan Misra, Candrasekhar and the other devotees. He offered his salutations at their feet and they in turn blessed him.
Finally he entered Mathura Dham. After taking bath at Bisram Ghat, he took darshan of Shri Adikeshab and rolled on the ground in the dust of the birthplace of Shri Krishna. From here he proceeded towards Brindaban.
After learning the whereabouts of Shrila Jiva Gosvami, he came there to offer his obeisances to the lotus feet of the acarja. Shri Jiva inquired after his welfare and Krishna das in turn introduced himself with full particulars.
"Gurudeb has committed me to your charge. His petition to Your Divine Grace is as follows, "I am entrusting Duhkhi Krishna das to your care. Please fulfil his mind's desire and send him back to me after some time."
Shrila Jiva Gosvami was extremely happy to receive Duhkhi Krishna das into his care.
Krishna das very carefully began to serve Jiva Gosvami. At the same time he began his study of the literatures of the Gosvamis. Shrinibas Acarja and Narottam das Thakur also came to study under Shri Jiva at this time. Thus Krishna das had the opportunity to meet them.
Krishna das requested Shrila Jiva Gosvami for some particular service to execute. Shri Jiva instructed him to sweep the forest grove of Sebkunj everyday. From that day he began to carry out this service with great pleasure. He felt that his life had become successful. As he swept, tears flowed from his eyes. Sometimes he would loudly chant the names of Shri Shri RadhaGobinda and sometimes he would become inert while remembering Their pastimes. Sometimes he would put the broom, which was full of dust, on his head. Even Lord Brahma and Lord Siva pray to receive a little of this dust of Brindaban on their heads.
The Queen of Brindaban was very pleased with the service of Krishna das, and desired to grant him Her darshan. One day while Krishna das was cleaning the kunj, his heart filled with love. Just then he happened to notice a very beautiful ankle bracelet lying in the dust. He picked it up and touched it to his head. Then he bound it in the corner of his upper cloth. "I'll give it to whomever it belongs when they come to look for it," he thought.
The next morning the sakhis were quite shocked when they noticed that Shrimati Radharani's left ankle bracelet was missing. Radharani explained, "Last night, when I was dancing in the kunj, it must have fallen off. Please look for it and bring it back to me, whoever finds it."
When the gopis came to search for the bracelet, Visakhadebi noticed Krishna das sweeping the grove. She asked him, "Have you found an ankle bracelet here?"
Duhkhi Krishna das was so mesmerized by her sweet words and radiant form, which were like that of a demigoddess descended from heaven, that he simply stared at her dumbfounded. Again she asked him, "Have you found an ankle bracelet here?"
Duhkhi Krishna made obeisances and humbly replied, "Yes, I found it. Who are you?"
"I am a cowherd girl."
"Where do you stay?"
"In this village."
"Is it your ankle bracelet?"
"No it isn't mine. It belongs to a new bride in our house."
"How did it get here?"
"She came here yesterday to pick flowers and it must have fallen off then."
"All right, then please tell her she can come and collect it from me."
"No, you can just give it to me."
"No, I want to give it to her personally."
After a few moments, Bisakhadebi returned with Shrimati Radha Thakurani, Who stood in the shade at the foot of a large tree. Bisakha called out to Krishna das, "Bhakta! The person Who lost Her ankle bracelet has come to receive it."
Duhkhi Krishna das completely forgot himself while gazing, even though it was from some distance, at the unparalleled, brilliant splendour of Shri Brishabhanunandini. In great joy he handed the ankle bracelet to Bisakha.
At this point, Duhkhi Krishna das could sense that something very profound was about to take place. His eyes filled with tears and he fell down on the ground to offer his obeisances. In great ecstasy he rolled in the dust. Bisakha then told him, "Oh best of the devotees! Our Sakhi wants to give you a benediction to express her gratitude."
Duhkhi Krishna das replied, "I don't want any other boon. I only pray for the dust of Her lotus feet."
Bisakha told him, "Take your bath in this kund and then come here."
Duhkhi Krishna walked towards the kund and after offering his obeisances, he immersed himself in her waters. Thus he attained a transcendentally beautiful, feminine form. Coming out of the sacred kund, he stood before Bisakhadebi and offered prayers. Taking this forest sakhi by the hand, Bisakha approached Shrimati Radha Thakurani and the new sakhi fell down at Her lotus feet. Then Shrimati Radharani decorated her forehead with tilok using the ankle bracelet and the kumkum of her lotus feet.
"This tilak will remain on your forehead. From today you will be known as Shyamananda. Now you can go."
After She said this, Shrimati Radha Thakurani and Her sakhis were no longer to be seen. Duhkhi Krishna das's trance broke and he found himself as before, alone and in his male body, yet with the tilok applied by Shrimati Radharani still on his forehead.
Being overwhelmed with emotion, he repeated over and over, "What have I seen?" "What have I seen?", while tears of ecstasy rolled down his cheeks. After reciting prayers hundreds and hundreds of times to Shri Radhika, he finally returned to Shrila Jiva Gosvami.
Shri Jiva Prabhu was struck with wonder when he saw the brilliant new design of tilok on his young student's forehead. After offering his prostrated obeisances, Dukhi Krishna das, his eyes brimming with tears, recounted at Jiva Goswami's request his experience in Sebkunj. Hearing of his great fortune, Shri Jiva was elated, but cautioned Dukhi, "Don't reveal this blessed event to anyone. From today, just carry on with the name Shyamananda."
Noticing that Dukhi Krishna das's name and style of tilok had for reasons unknown been changed, the Baisnabs naturally began to discuss this strange development amongst themselves. The news finally reached Ambika Kalna.
When he heard of the seemingly unauthorized behaviour of his disciple, Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu was unsettled and angered. He immediately set out for Brindaban.
Arriving there some months later, he let it be known that he wished to see the erstwhile Dukhi Krishna das. Shyamananda came and offered his prostrated obeisances at his gurudeb's lotus feet. Seeing his disciple's tilok, Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu was enraged and exclaimed, "Your conduct towards me is completely abominable."
He continued to chastise him and eventually even began beating him. The Baisnabs finally managed to restrain and pacify him by offering various explanations on Shyamananda's behalf.
Shyamananda simply tolerated it all with an unfaded countenance and continued to serve his gurudeb faithfully. That night, Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu had a dream in which Shri Radha Thakurani appeared in a very severe mood. She rebuked him by saying, "I am the One Who, being very satisfied by Dukhi Krishna das's service, changed his tilok and his name. What do you or anyone else have to say about it?"
Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu prayed for forgiveness at the lotus feet of Shri Brajesvari and considered what an offender he had become.
The next morning he called for Shyamananda. He embraced him again and again with great affection. With his eyes brimming with tears he repeated, "You are so fortunate."
Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu remained at Brajadham for a while and at this time it was decided amongst the Baisnabs that some form of punishment should be meted out to him for his behaviour towards his disciple, Shyamananada. It was decided that he should hold twelve festivals for the purpose of rendering Baisnab seba (feeding the Baisnabs). The responsibility for performing this service however was requested by Shyamananda. Then, after instructing Shyamananda to remain with Shri Jiva Gosvami for some more days, Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu returned to Gaurdesh.
Shri Shyamananda, Shrinibas and Shri Narottam began to pass their days in great bliss, studying the literatures of the Goswamis and begging a little to eat from door to door. The three of them resolved to continue in this way and thus devote the better part of their time to serving and worshipping Shri Krishna in Brindavan. Meanwhile, the Goswamis held a council together and decided that these three should be sent to Gauradesh to preach the teachings of Mahaprabhu as presented in the Gosvami literature.
One day Shrila Jiva Gosvami called the three of them together and informed them of this decision. They had no recourse but to accept that order on their bowed heads. Thereafter, on an auspicious day Shrila Jiva Gosvami sent them on their way with a large, nicely decorated chest filled with the Gosvami's writings (scriptures).
But the books were stolen by some dacoits in the kingdom of Bir Hambir, in Bisnupur. There Shrinibas Acarja prabhu remained behind to recover the books while Narottam continued on towards Kheturi and Shyamananda proceeded to Ambika Kalna.
Arriving there, Shyamananda paid his obeisances to his guru, Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu, who embraced him and inquired about the well being of the Gosvamis of Brindaban. When he heard that the books of the Gosvamis had been stolen in Bishnupur, he was very concerned. Shyamananda served the lotus feet of his guru in great happiness and in this way passed his days.
At this time most of the devotees of Lord Chaitanya in Orissa had all passed away. Thus the preaching of Mahaprabhu's teachings had all but come to a halt. Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu considered this a very serious problem and finally instructed Shyamananda Prabhu to go there to carry on the preaching of Mahaprabhu's mission. Shyamananda was at first very sad that he would have to be separated again so soon from his spiritual master, but Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu explained clearly that he had no other alternative but to accept this order on his head. So Shyamananda set out for Utkaldesh (Orissa). After entering Orissa he first went to his birthplace at Dharenda Bahadurpur.
The villagers were overjoyed to see him after so many years. He remained there for some days and preached Krishna consciousness, the result of which was that many people became attracted and took shelter at his lotus feet.
From there he came to Dandeshwar, where his father, Shri Krishna Mandal, had previously resided. The people there were similarly delighted to receive him and a festival of Harikatha was held there for a few days. Here also many people were attracted by his spiritual potency and became his disciples. Thus, by the auspicious arrival of Shyamananda Prabhu in Utkal the teachings of Mahaprabhu revived.
On the banks of the Subarna Rekha River lived one pious and devoted landholder by the name Shri Acyutadeb. His only son was called Rasik. From his very childhood Rasik was very devoted to Lord Krishna. As he gradually attained the appropriate age his father engaged some pandits to see to his education. He didn't have much regard for material knowledge however. He had already ascertained that the greatest goal in life is devotion to Lord Hari. Rasik became anxious to take shelter at the lotus feet of a bonafide spiritual master.
One day as he was sitting alone contemplating this subject, he heard a divine voice remark, "Rasik! Don't be in anxiety any more. Very soon a very great personality of the name Shyamananda will arrive here. Just take shelter of his lotus feet."
Hearing this, Rasik was encouraged and took to continuously waiting and watching for the arrival of Prabhu Shyamananda. After a few days Shyamananda prabhu, accompanied by his disciples, came to the village of Rohini, which was situated very beautifully on the banks of the Subarna Rekha River. Rasik's happiness knew no bounds.
After offering his prostrated obeisances, he very humbly led Shyamananda prabhu into his house and worshipped his lotus feet. Along with his family members, wife and sons, they all surrendered completely to Shyamananda.
On an auspicious day Shyamananda prabhu initiated Rasik with the RadhaKrishna mantra and Shri Rasik Deb began a festival of namsankirtan in his home. He invited all of his friends as well as the tenants of his estates and everyone was so attracted by the teachings of Shri GauraNityananda, as expounded by Shyamananda prabhu, that they immediately wanted to take shelter at his lotus feet. Thus many people of Rohini became disciples of Shyamananda prabhu.
There lived a very well known yogi in Rohini by the name Damodar. One day he became quite captivated to have darshan of Shyamananda Prabhu. Even from a distance he saw a brilliant effulgence emanating from his body. Coming closer he offered salutations at the Acarja's lotus feet. Shyamananda in turn offered his greetings.
With tears in his eyes, Shyamananda requested the yogi, "In your purified state you should always chant the holy names of Shri GauraNityananda. They are extremely merciful and will bestow upon you love of Krishna."
Hearing these statements of the Acarja, the yogi Damodar's mind became softened in love, and he replied, "I will worship the lotus feet of GauraNityananda. Please be merciful to me."
The Acarja blessed him and thus the yogi became a great devotee who continuously sang the glories of NitaiGaurachandra with tears in his eyes.
Many wealthy gentlemen lived in the village of Balarampur. When they heard of the glories of Shyamananda, they became very eager to see him, and a few came to beseech him to visit their village. Shyamananda very mercifully accepted their invitation along with Damodar and some of his other disciples. He very triumphantly entered Balarampur, where the noble and upright citizens very ecstatically received him by worshipping his lotus feet and making arrangements for his meal.
A festival of Hari katha was held over the next few days and at this time many people accepted shelter at his lotus feet. From here Shri Shyamananda Prabhu went to Shri Nrsimhapur, where many atheists lived. But when Shyamananda stayed a few days, these atheists got the chance to hear his nectarean talks, which melted their hard hearts in love for Krishna. Thus, in this place also, he gained many disciples.
Day by day the glories of Shyamananda spread throughout Utkaldesh. From Nrsimhapur he came to Gopiballabhpur. Here again, many well-to-do people were attracted to his lotus feet and so took shelter there. The people here especially requested him to install the Shri Bigraha of RadhaKrishna. From their contributions a temple for the Deity, complete with a hall for sankirtana (nat mandir), a kitchen (bhoga mandir), quarters for the devotees (Baisnab khanda), a pond (bathing tank) and surrounding gardens were constructed.
Thereafter Acarja Shri Shyamananda performed the installation of Shri Shri RadhaGobinda and a great festival was held. It seemed the greater part of the population of Bengal and Orissa were present there.
Seeing the graceful, sweet loveliness of the transcendental forms of Shri RadhaGobinda, the peoples' hearts were fully satisfied. Shyamananda Prabhu entrusted Shri Rasikananda with Their worship.
After travelling throughout the length and breath of Orissa and preaching the message of Shri GauraNityananda, Shyamananda returned to the lotus feet of Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya Prabhu at Ambika Kalna. Offering his prostrated obeisances at the lotus feet of his guru, Shyamananda narrated how the victory banner of Shri GauraNitai was now flying throughout Utkaldesh. Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya very affectionately embraced him in gratitude.
Shyamananda was invited to the festival at Kheturi, which he attended with his disciples. Once again he was united with his old friends Shrinibas and Shri Narottam. These three floated in an ocean of happiness as they exchanged affections and embraces. Shri Jahnava Mata, Shri Raghunandan Thakur, Shri Acyutananda, Shri Brindaban das Thakur, as well as many other stalwart leaders of the preaching mission of Mahaprabhu were also present at this time. After the conclusion of the celebrations, Shyamananda took leave from the Baisnabs there and set out again for Utkaldesh.
When he came to Kantaknagar he again met with Shrinibas Acarja Prabhu and in Jajigram he saw Shri Raghunandan Thakur once more. He was informed that by this time many of the last remaining personal associates of Mahaprabhu had recently disappeared from this world. Gradually, Shyamananda Prabhu entered Utkaldesh. Along the way he stayed at the homes of different devotees and blessed them with his mercy. In this way he again came to Gopiballabhpur.
Here, when he received the news that his guru, Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya prabhu, had also departed from this world, he fainted dead away. After recovering his consciousness he wept for some time, feeling terribly distraught. Shri Hrdoy Chaitanya then appeared to him in a dream and comforted him.
The greatness of Shyamananda became known throughout all of Orissa and the worship of Shri NitaiGaurachandra was inaugurated in many, many places. Shri Rasik Murari, Shri Radhananda, Shri Purusottam, Shri Manohar, Cintamani, Balabhadra, Shri Jagadisvar, Shri Uddhab, Akrura Madhurana, Shri Gobinda, Shri Jagannath, Gadadhar, Anandanandan and Shri RadhaMohan were among the intimate and dear disciples of Shri Shyamananda prabhu.
After conquering in all directions Shyamananda returned to Gopiballabhpur where he observed a great festival for some days. Then he came to Uddanda Ray Bhui's house, at Nrsimhapur where he held a great festival.
On the first day of the dark fortnight in the month of Asar Shri Shyamananda Prabhu left this world at Nrsimhapur. Shyamananda Prabhu's puspasamadhi and the place where he found Shrimati Radharani's ankle bracelet is just across the street from Shri Shri RadhaShyamsundor's temple in Brindaban. Shri Shri RadhaShyamsundor are his worshipful Deities.