|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Nityananda dasa > Prema Vilasa > CHAPTER 4|
In the morning on the way to the river for a bath, Shrinivasa met Narahari Sarkara Thakura who had come from Gajipura. Seeing the beautiful complexion of the boy, Sarkara Thakura was reminded of the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He felt as if he were seeing the Lord personally before him. After bowing at his feet, the boy stood before him humbly and Sarkara Thakura asked him his name and whereabouts. Shrinivasa politely replied, "I am Shrinivasa of Cakandi and the servant of your lotus feet." Upon hearing the name of Shrinivasa, Sarkara Thakura at once understood that he was the embodiment of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. With tears in his eyes, Thakura warmly embraced him saying, "Nityananda Prabhu is eagerly waiting for you. I have also been anxiously waiting to meet you. Now my dream has been fulfilled. In the presence of Jahnava, Viracandra personally told me to send you to Vrndavana. He also told me about your birth in a village on the bank of the Ganges. By the grace of Mahaprabhu we have finally met. Now you must come with me to Khanda and we will live happily there." However, Shrinivasa apologetically explained that his parents were waiting for him at home and thus he returned to his residence, but after this encounter Shrinivasa became mad with ecstatic love. He began to behave like a madman, sometimes he laughed, while other times he cried loudly and would fall on the ground. His parents could not understand what was happening to their beloved son. Acarya asked him, "Why are you crying my son after coming back from you bath. What happened to you there?" One by one all the inhabitants of the village assembled in the house but no one could understand what had overcome Shrinivasa.
Eventually one old brahmana came forward and pacified everyone saying, "Listen to me. Be patient, everything will be alright. On his way to the river this morning Shrinivasa met Narahari Sarkara Thakura of Khanda. After that meeting the boy became filled with ecstatic emotions and thus he is behaving strangely. Do not worry, in due course of time he will tell us everything."
Hearing the name of Narahari, Shrinivasa suddenly laughed and controlled himself. But from that day intense feelings of separation began to manifest in Shrinivasa. He lamented loudly saying, "O how unfortunate I am. I was not able to see Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Alas, I cannot see the lotus feet of Nityananda Prabhu, nor am I able to see the wonderful form of Advaita Acarya. I cannot have the association of Svarupa Damodara, Ramananda Raya, Rupa, or Sanatana. I cannot take part in sankirtana along with the devotees. O how miserable my life is."
When Shrinivasa was lamenting in this way he suddenly heard a voice from the sky. "Why are you thinking in this way? By the divine arrangement of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu you are destined to flood the universe with love of Godhead. Rupa and Sanatana are still engaged in writing books in Vrndavana. The two brothers are eagerly waiting to see you. If you want to meet them you must go to Vrndavana as soon as possible, otherwise you will miss them. Though your parents will be overcome with sorrow, you should try to go to Vrndavana as soon as possible."
When the people saw that Shrinivasa had regained his composure and was calm and quiet, everyone returned to their homes and his parents were greatly relieved. Shrinivasa requested some food and Laksmipriya happily served him lunch.
Shrinivasa began to consider how he could possibly leave home as long as his parents were alive. Above all, he was still a little boy, how could he go alone to Vrndavana? Shrinivasa began to pray fervently for the mercy of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Very soon thereafter Chaitanya dasa suddenly got a fever and within seven days he departed from this world. Shrinivasa and his mother were both shocked and grief stricken. Laksmipriya lamented pitifully, "O Lord why have you given a son to a childless* family like us......Why do you torment this little boy in such an unbearable way. How can I manage him? I have no one to whom I can turn. O my Shrinivasa, where has your father gone?"
Shrinivasa was greatly aggrieved to see his mother lamenting in this way and he also began to cry loudly for his father. Eventually he performed the funeral rites for his father on the banks of the Ganges. Meanwhile the ladies consoled Laksmipriya saying, "Why are becoming overwhelmed in this way. You are most fortunate to have a son like Shrinivasa, simply take shelter in him and be patient." At that time a voice was suddenly heard from the sky saying, "Why are you lamenting Thakurani? Do you not know the real identity of your son? Go to Yajigrama and eventually you will understand everything. Shrinivasa is blessed by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu. Rupa Gosvami has been eagerly writing books, waiting to hand them over to your boy. Listen Laksmipriya try to take good care of your wonderful son. Do not become overwhelmed with useless lamentation." Hearing these soothing words, Laksmipriya was pacified and performed the funeral ceremony for her husband.
Afterwards she and her son left their home and went to Yajigrama. Shrinivasa, however, was depressed and decided to leave his mother in Yajigrama and go to Cakandi. That night he had a dream in which Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ordered him to go to Vrndavana. Waking up from his sleep Shrinivasa began to wonder, "How can I leave my mother alone here, and how can I go to Vrndavana as I am unable to practice austerity fully. Yet Thakura Narahari has advised me not to waste time." In this way Shrinivasa began to ponder his journey to Vraja.
After spending a few days in Cakandi, Shrinivasa returned to Yajigrama and settled there. When the Zamindar of the village met Shrinivasa he was greatly impressed by the boy's spirit and requested him to settle in the village. Thus Shrinivasa remained for a considerable period of time until he desired to go to Khanda. Shrinivasa constructed a beautiful cottage in the western part of the village and leaving his mother there, he went to Khanda.
When Shrinivasa arrived at the house of Narahari Thakura, he saw Shri Raghunandana sitting under a tree. Noting the spirited young boy, Shri Raghunandana asked, "What is your name and where are you from?" Raghunandana was overjoyed upon hearing Shrinivasa's identity. He joyfully welcomed the boy with outstretched arms and embraced him warmly. "I have heard all about you from Shri Thakura," he said. "Now it is my good fortune to meet you face to face. Let us go see Shri Thakura. Together we can spend our days here in worship and meditation. Taking Shrinivasa by the hand, they went inside to meet Shri Thakura.
Upon seeing the boy, Shri Thakura welcomed him heartily. "Come in, come in, my son Shrinivasa, take a seat. Viracandra Prabhu has ordered me to send you to Vrndavana as soon as possible." Shri Thakura then embraced Shrinivasa and immediately fell into a trance. Nayana Sena Mahasaya, who was standing nearby, quickly took Shrinivasa to his house.
In the afternoon Thakura asked Raghunandana where Shrinivasa was and requested that he be brought before him again so that he could speak to Shrinivasa about going to Vrndavana. At that very moment Shrinivasa entered the room, his face beaming with delight. Thakura asked, "Shrinivasa, when and how will you start for Vrndavana?" Shrinivasa replied, "I am homeless, what can I do." Thakura said, "It is Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's desire that you learn the methods of devotional service from Gopala Bhatta Gosvami." Shrinivasa cried out, "Why are trying to deceive me on the pretext of sending me to Vrndavana? I came from Cakandi to have your darsana and dedicate myself at your feet." Thakura said, "Yes it is true, but it is Gopala Bhatta who will be your guru, not I. I dare not disobey the order of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Stay here for a few days, but remember that the chanting of the holy name of the Lord is the very spirit of Mahaprabhu.
Shrinivasa then took his leave. He went to a quiet spot and thought about from whom he should take initiation. He passed most of the night deep in thought, yet towards the end of the night, due to the desire of the Lord, Shrinivasa fell asleep. In a dream Shri Gaurachandra appeared before him and said, "Listen Shrinivasa, you are the embodiment of love, why are you waiting for shelter? Without wasting time, go to Vrndavana and take refuge at the feet of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. He is from Tailanga Desa (South India) and is extremely dear to Me. Rupa and Sanatana are also there and they will hand over all the books they have written to you. They are very anxiously awaiting your arrival there." Filled with ecstacy, Shrinivasa bowed to the Lord and his dream came to an end.
The following morning Shrinivasa immediately went to Sarkara Thakura and told him about his dream. Understanding that Shrinivasa had received the blessings of the Mahaprabhu, Narahari also blessed the boy, placing his hand of Shrinivasa's head he said, "May all your desires be fulfilled in Shri Vrndavana Dhama. I have sent a letter to Viracandra prabhu telling him about you. You should stay here until a reply comes from him." Thus Shrinivasa remained in Khanda for some time.
During his stay in Khanda, Shrinivasa decided to visit Jagannatha Deva. He also cherished the hope of having the opportunity to read the Shrimad Bhagavatam to Shri Gadadhara Pandita, and after he would go to Vrndavana. Shrinivasa expressed his desire to Narahari, who gave him permission and sent one vaishnava along with Shrinivasa. Narahari wrote a letter and gave it to Shrinivasa's travel companion. Both of them then began their journey to Nilacala.
In Nilacala they visited the temple of Jagannatha and went to the house of Shri Gopinatha where Pandita Gosvami was spending his days lost in the misery of separation from his beloved Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Shrinivasa humbly bowed at his feet, uttering the names of Chaitanya and Nityananda. Hearing the name of Chaitanya, Gosvami became agitated. Opening his eyes he asked, "Who are you? Come, come my son, I want to embrace you. What a sweet name you uttered in my ears. I had a dream that a boy named Shrinivasa would come from Gauda. He is the son of Chaitanya dasa and Laksmipriya of Cakandi. That Shrinivasa will spread the glories of Radha Krishna lila in this world. Could you be the boy of my dream. Please cool my heart and tell me your name." When Shrinivasa confirmed his identity, Gosvami said, "It is good that you are here. Towards the end of His pastimes in this world Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ordered me to tell you about Krishnalila and to teach you the Bhagavata. Mahaprabhu instructed me to remain here until you arrived here. He told me to send you to Vrndavana with a letter to Rupa and Sanatana. From Vrndavana you will carry the Gosvami's books to Gauda. I am now eager to teach you Shrimad Bhagavatam, but unfortunately the Bhagavata has become illegible due to the streams of tears which fell from my eyes on to the book when I was reading. I shall give you a letter for Narahari instructing him to give you a new book. Go there quickly and do not delay for the Lord directed ordered me to instruct you."
Shrinivasa said, I have heard that Shri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is Gunamanjari of Radha Krishna lila. I cherish the hope of becoming his disciple." Hearing the name of Gunamanjari, Pandita Gosvami became very joyful. He advised Shrinivasa to go quickly to Gauda, otherwise he would not see him again. Pandita Gosvami then began calling out the names of Chaitanya and Nityananda, lost in the lamentation of separation from the Lord. Shrinivasa understood that he should travel swiftly as Pandita Gosvami would not remain long within this world.
Shrinivasa quickly returned to the house of Narahari in Gauda. On the day of his arrival there was a great assembly of devotees in the house of Viracandra prabhu. Shrinivasa bowed to the feet of Narahari and stood humbly before him. Narahari said, "It is good that you have come today. Read this letter which has just come from Vrndavana. After completing your study of Bhagavatam you must go to Vrndavana. I have understood everything from the letter of Pandita Gosvami." He then read out the letter to Viracandra. All the devotees gave their permission for Shrinivasa to complete his studies of the Bhagavatam and urged him not to delay as they would miss his association. Narahari selected a Vaishnava to accompany Shrinivasa and together they started their journey chanting the names of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami.
On the outskirts of Yajipura Shrinivasa's mind became disturbed and before entering into the village they received the heart-rendering news that Shri Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami had departed from the world. Shrinivasa immediately fell unconscious on the ground. Shrinivasa's companion fearfully held his feet, trying to bring Shrinivasa back to his senses. When he finally regained consciousness the Vaishnava bowed at his feet. Shrinivasa, however, could not be consoled, his disappointment was beyond description. Shrinivasa fasted throughout the night and was very weak the next morning. His Vaishnava companion was very nervous and worried, how could he take Shrinivasa back to Gauda in this condition? With great difficult he managed to feed something to Shrinivasa. Together they began their journey back to Gauda, with Shrinivasa crying the entire way.
They entered into Shri Khanda in the afternoon and although everyone was happy to see Shrinivasa, their happiness was short lived when they heard that he would soon be leaving for Vrndavana. The following morning they left Shri Khanda and went to Navadvipa. There Shrinivasa stood pathetically before the house of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. For four days he fasted, crying constantly he loudly called out the name of Pandita Gosvami. Eventually he realised that he could not practice austerity on an empty stomach. Thus he collected a small quantity of rice and cooked it while sitting on the bank of the Ganges. On the eight day, he was extremely weak. At that time he met Vamsivadana dasa. Shrinivasa gave his identity and explained that Prabhu had ordered him to take lessons in Bhagavata from Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami, but he was the most unfortunate person because Pandita Gosvami had departed from this world without instructing him. Saying this Shrinivasa again began to cry.
In the meantime Isana Thakura arrived there and was very moved by Shrinivasa's condition and weak health. He could understand that this boy was empowered by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Thus he went to the house of Isvari (Vishnupriya) and told her that he had met a beautiful boy on the bank of the Ganges who was lamenting piteously, calling the name of Shri Gadadhara. "Seeing him in such a weak condition causes me pain. Please allow me to give him some food. Later I shall being him to receive your blessings." Thus Isana took some rice to Shrinivasa and instructed him to cook it. Shrinivasa humbly obeyed his order. As soon as Shrinivasa finished cooking, ten ascetics arrived and told Shrinivasa that they were very hungry. Shrinivasa happily offered them the rice prasadam. By the grace of the Lord all eleven Vaishnavas (including Shrinivasa) were able to fill their stomachs from that small quantity of rice.
When Isvari heard about Shrinivasa, she became very eager to meet him. Her desire was fulfilled that evening when she and her maidservants went to the river for a bath. There she was pleased to see the charming boy. At first she was hesitant, thinking, "how can I speak to an unknown man?" But on second thought she considered, "By the mercy of Prabhu no dishonour shall befall me." Thus she ordered Isana to bring the boy to her. Isana rushed to Shrinivasa and told him, "Come with me to the house of Mahaprabhu for Shri Isvari is calling you." Overwhelmed with joy, Shrinivasa danced and cried simultaneously.
When they reached the house of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shrinivasa felt shy about entering the house. Nevertheless, trembling nervously he entered into the inner apartments and stood at a distance from Shri Isvari. Isana then introduced the two. When Isvari saw Shrinivasa she realised that he was the embodiment of her Prabhu. Putting aside her shyness she called Shrinivasa before her and asked him why he had been crying. Shrinivasa humbly reported the story of Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami and his desire to go to Vrndavana. Isvari, however, advised him to go back to his home for at such a young age it would be impossible for him to live as an ascetic. With folded hands Shrinivasa repeatedly begged for her blessings to enable him to go to Vrndavana. He explained that he had no family, other than his dear mother. Isvari replied, "Only the mercy of Mahaprabhu can help you. I think it is best if you stay here until you have grown up enough." Isana explained to Isvari that Shrinivasa had spent the entire night crying for Pandita Gosvami. Vishnupriya, who had been lost in deep sorrow due to separation from her beloved Lord Gauranga was overwhelmed with mixed emotions due to the presence of Shrinivasa.
Now I shall describe the glories of Shri Isvari and her dedication to the chanting of the holy name. Daily, Vishnupriya devi would sit with two new earthen bows before her--one was empty and the other was half full of rice. Each time she completed one round of japa, she would place one grain of rice in the empty bowl. She continued in this way until midnight and then she would cook the quantity of rice which had accumulated in the previously empty bowl. She offered that rice to Lord Gauranga along with her tears and then she would eat the prasadam. Who could describe the glories of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's favorite wife, who was constantly absorbed in associating with the Lord through the pure chanting of Harinama. In this age of Kali-yuga there is no other means of deliverance other than the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. After accepting prasadam, Vishnupriya would lie down on the ground to rest.
Towards the end of the night, the two brothers (Gaura-Nitai), after performing sankirtana, spoke to Sacimata in her dream. "O Mother, while your daughter-in-law is enjoying her sleep inside her room, Shrinivasa is laying outside. Shrinivasa is meant to execute My mission in this world. Please send him to Abhirama through Isana." When her dream broke Sacimata at once left her bed, unable to sleep any longer due to intense feelings of separation from her dear son.
Meanwhile Isana was deeply sleeping. After some time he awoke and came before Vishnupriya with folded hands. She ordered him to quickly bring Shrinivasa to her. Isana swiftly followed her order. Shri Isvari then instructed Shrinivasa to go to meet Abhirama. Saying this she covered herself with a cloth, came out of her room and placed her foot on the head of Shrinivasa. With the touch of her foot, Shrinivasa burst into tears. To pacify him, she said, "Shrinivasa, you are the most fortunate man as you are empowered to represent Prabhu. You should first go to Santipura and meet Advaita Acarya Gosvami. Then go to visit Nityananda Prabhu in Khardaha. Jahnava will be very pleased to see you. After meeting everyone, then start for Vrndavana. I wish you all success."
Shrinivasa bowed to her feet and immediately left for Santipura. He was at a loss, however, as to where to go. Although Isvari had advised him to go to meet Advaita Prabhu, he knew that Advaita Acarya had left this world thirteen years before. How could he possible get his darsana. As Shrinivasa was thinking in this way, suddenly a gigantic figure appeared before him. Shrinivasa could not stand before the figure, nor could he look at him. The extraordinary personality said to Shrinivasa, "My dear son, welcome to Santipura. I am Advaita standing in front of you." Shrinivasa at once fell at his feet. Advaita Acarya began to lament for Shri Chaitanya, Nityananda, Svarupa, Rama Raya and others. He then embraced Shrinivasa, placed his hand upon his head and said, "I am very pleased to see you. It was Mahaprabhu's desire the you become the servant of Gopala Bhatta. Being angry with me Prabhu has created you to carry out His mission. He sent Rupa and Sanatana to Vrndavana and ordered them to write devotional books and He expected you to distribute these books and spread the message of Mahaprabhu throughout the world. I have come here just to meet you. Do not tell anyone what you have seen. You will feel great happiness here in Khardaha. After meeting Jahnava Mata you should start for Vrndavana. There you will have darsana of Shri Rupa and then you should meet and worship the feet of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Do not think about Advaita Govinda alias Nagara, whom I have rejected as being my disciple." Saying this Advaita disappeared. Out of disappointment Shrinivasa began to cry.
Meanwhile, Sita devi (wife of Advaita Prabhu) passed by on her way to take bath in the Ganges. Seeing the charming boy crying at the side of the road, she immediately embraced him like a son. Pacifying him with sweet words, she asked him, "My dear boy who are you and why are you crying? I think you must have received the darsana of my Lord." Shrinivasa replied, "I am Shrinivasa of Cakandi, Isvari ordered me to meet you." Remembering the prophecy of Acyutananda, she became extremely pleased to meet Shrinivasa.
At that time Gopala Gosvami happened to pass by that place and fell at the feet of Sita devi who requested him to look after Shrinivasa until she came back from her bath. After taking a bath Sita devi took Shrinivasa and Gopala to her house. She then cooked, and after offering the food to Krishna, she served Gopala and Shrinivasa. They spent that night peacefully in Santipura.
In the morning Shrinivasa went to take his leave of Sita devi. At that time he inquired from her about Advaita Govinda. Sita devi replied, "What is the use of hearing about him, simply perform you own duty my son." However, knowing that the boy was adamant in his request, she relented and told the story of Advaita Govinda. "When Jagai and Madhai were delivered by Nityananda Prabhu, Gosvami angrily told Haridasa, `If Gaura Nitai do not deliver me I shall ......' He then wrote a tarja (satire). Nityananda sent Jagadananda prabhu to Nilacala with that tarja. Prabhu took it as true and to help Nityananda in his preaching mission sent Ramdasa and Sundaranandana and others to assist him. He sent Kamdeva, Nagara, Nandini and some others to Advaita. But Nagara became envious of Advaita and began to proclaim that it was he who had accompanied Prabhu from Gauda and that he was the main assistant of Mahaprabhu in his preaching program. Hearing these proud words, Sita devi, the wife of Advaita, rejected Nagara, Kamdeva, Nandini, etc. from the group of Advaita's disciples. Sita devi and Advaita were particularly fond of their elder son Acyutananda as he was a completed devoted and renounced soul. Their other sons also took initiation from their father, but they were family men. Sita devi used to say that she was the maidservant of Shri Chaitanya and those who would quarrel with the son of the maidservant of Chaitanya (i.e. Acyutananda), should have no association with Advaita and his group of disciples." Shrinivasa was grateful to hear this story and bowed to the feet of Sita devi again and again. He then took his leave.
Keeping faith in the feet of Shri Jahnava and Viracandra, I, Nityananda dasa write Prem Vilasa