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All glories to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaitacandra, and all the devotees of Gaura. All glories to Shri Jahnava and Viracandra whose lotus feet are my only resort. Glories to the listeners, please hear attentively as I describe the wonderful pastimes of the Lord and His devotees. Mahaprabhu has explained that hearing the pastimes of the incarnations of the Lord and His associates is the formula for achieving peace of mind.
In the previous yuga Krishna appeared in the land of Vrndavana. This has been described throughout the scriptures. Vrajamandala has a circumference of 84 miles and is the residence of Shri Krishna and His companions. That same Shri Krishna, along with His parents, friends, sakhas, and sakhis appeared in Kali-yuga in the land of Navadvipa. Maha Vishnu appeared as Advaita Acarya in Santipura. He was the crest-jewel of all the devotees and the executor of the Lord's mission. There were 24 ascetic devotees of Mahaprabhu, including Madhavendra Puri, which were divided into eight separate groups. All of them were members of Shri Krishna's family.
Saci Thakurani was the wife of Jagannatha Misra. Saci and her husband were very proud of their attractive elder son, Visvarupa, who was a great scholar. Saci's father lived at Belpukhuria. His elder son was Yogesvara Pandita, next was Ratnagarva Pandita, and then Saci devi. The son of Yogesvara Pandita was Lokanatha Pandita, a highly qualified man. He Visvarupa's schoolmate and constant companion. After some time Visvarupa also became great friends with Advaita Acarya. They all used to spend their time together discussing various scriptures. Within a short time they both became accomplished scholars. However, Visvarupa had no interest in material life and very soon decided to renounce the world and become an ascetic. Despite the pleading of his bereaved parents, Visvambhara accepted the danda, kaupina, and saffron colored dress of a sannyasi and was renamed Sankaranya Puri. Pandita Lokanatha became his disciple and traveled with Visvarupa as his assistant. After two years Visvarupa departed from this world, but was reborn in the womb of Padmavati, the wife of Hadai Pandita of Ekacakra village in Radha. She first conceived on the day of Ramanavami. Ten months later, on the thirteenth day of the solar eclipse in the month of Magha, Nityananda took his birth, giving tremendous joy to his fortunate parents. For fourteen years Nityananda played happily along with his boyhood friends.
One day a sannyasi came to the house of Hadai Pandita to beg alms. The pious Hadai Pandita happily agreed, requesting what the sannyasi would like. "Give me your son," the sannyasi said, "he will assist me as I travel on pilgrimage." Although Hadai was heart-broken, he kept his promise and turned over his son to the care of the sannyasi. Thereafter, Nityananda Prabhu became an avadhuta. He traveled on pilgrimage for many years, absorbed in remembrance of Shri Nandanandana. Once he met Isvara Puri who said to him smilingly, "You have finished your pilgrimage, now you must begin your mission. Krishna has manifested Himself in Navadvipa, go and search for Him." Nityananda Prabhu and Visvarupa (alias Sankararaya) were the same personality, both were manifestations of Sankarsana, Balarama.
Meanwhile, the associates of the Lord took there birth, scattered throughout various countries, thereafter the Mahaprabhu, Himself, appeared in Navadvipa where He relished transcendental pastimes. Just as all rivers eventually meet with the ocean, similarly, the associates of Mahaprabhu were gradually drawn towards the ocean of love, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Now I shall narrate the glories of one of the dear-most associates of the Lord. In the village of Talagadi in the district of Jessore, east of Navadvipa, Lokanatha took his birth in the family of a Kulina brahmana named Padmanava Cakravarti. His mother, Sita devi, was the abode of all good qualities. They arranged for their son's education with the utmost care, and within a short time Lokanatha was renowned as a great scholar. Yet, to their dismay, day by day Lokanatha became increasingly disinterested in the affairs of the material world. In desperation his parents tried to arrange for his marriage. Thus Lokanatha, absorbed in thoughts of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, made plans to leave his family. One winter night in the month of Agrahayana, he left home at midnight and travelled eight miles until the sun rose in the East.
Not finding their son in the morning, his parents were overwhelmed with misery. Meanwhile, Lokanatha arrived at Navadvipa and eagerly began to ask the people were the house of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was located. In great anticipation he approached the house, wondering what he would say to the Lord and whether Mahaprabhu would accept him or not.
When Lokanatha reached the house, he found the Lord sitting amongst His associates, Gadadhara, Shrivasa, Murari, and others. Observing the extraordinary beauty of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he immediately burst into tears of ecstasy. Seeing Lokanatha, the Lord got up and embraced him warmly and offered him a seat. Lokanatha and Gadadhara Pandita exchanged their blessings and embraced each other. Relishing each other's association, they began discussing topics related to Krishna, completely oblivious to the material world. Lokanatha also had the good fortune to meet Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Acarya. In this way Lokanatha joyfully passed five days in the company of the Lord and His associates.
One day Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked, "Lokanatha tell me how were you able to leave your home?"
"I know no nothing except your lotus feet," Lokanatha replied, "everything else is useless and illusory. I am an ignorant fool, yet I have been drawn here, as if forcibly pulled by the rope of your mercy."
In private Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed His innermost thoughts to Lokanatha. "I feel dissatisfied remaining silent about the nature of My appearance and mission, but who can I speak to about this confidential subject matter? I can influence some to respect Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita, but who will actually hear from Me and understand My mission? Some people criticize Me, and others even jeer at Me. I have come to Gauda manifesting the mood of Shri Radha. I want to experience Shri Radha's feeling of separation from her beloved Krishna. For My sake, Shrimati Radhika has given up her family and wealth, completely dedicating herself to My service. The memory of Me has caused her to become lean and thin. She is not even concerned about her appearance and she never looks at the face of another man. Eager for My company, she remains constantly absorbed in hearing and chanting about Me. Being angry with Me, she used to complain about My character to the flower groves and the Jamuna, but upon seeing Me, she would immediately forget her anger. To Shri Radha, one days separation from me is like a hundred years. She is My beloved, together we enjoyed transcendental pastimes in Vrndavana. It is because of her that I want to live in Vrndavana. She is My life and I am the same to her. Only the sakhis are able to comprehend the essence of our pastimes. And it is only to you, Lokanatha, that I am able to disclose these confidential topics."
"Now listen as I describe another unfortunate incident. There is one brahmana who has committed a great sin by criticising Me. He does not know that Krishna is the only guru of this universe. Forgetting this, he arrogantly travels about, worshiping other deities, not knowing that Krishna is the Supreme Lord and that all deities have emanated from His mouth. He does not understand that by rejecting Krishna he has become less than a vaisya or sudra.
"It is My plan that on the third day of the full moon in the month of Magha, I shall accept the accept the renounced order of life and leave home on pilgrimage. But who will understand My mind, or My desire? I am always absorbed in the mood of Shri Radha, who always wore blue colored garments--the colour of My complexion. However, when we were separated she would wear a saffron colored dress. Always regarding herself as My maidservant, she and her confidants gave up their lives. Now I shall also give up My life for her. Therefore my complexion is of the same colour as her's. Soon I shall wear the saffron colored dress of separation and gladly become her servant. I shall meditate on her and sing her glories constantly. I cannot repay My dept to her, even in a hundred years. I am telling you Lokanatha, to honour her properly I shall flood the universe by singing her praises. After attaining her love, I shall dance, cry, and roll on the ground in sankirtana." Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then began to cry helplessly, uttering the names of Radha and Vrndavana.
Lokanatha tried to pacify the Lord, taking Him on his lap. Trembling, Mahaprabhu said, "The groves of Vrndavana are the only witness to my misery. Oh Lokanatha, go to Vrndavana. I will also send Rupa Gosvami there shortly, after empowering him with My own spirit. Sanatana, Shri Gopala Bhatta, Raghunatha Bhatta, and at last, Raghunatha Dasa will also come to Vrndavana. Cooperatively you must write devotional books and engage in the worship of the Lord."
"Because you are My dear devotee, I want to tell you more about the process of devotional service. God can be attained through different ___, this is called lakshana. Devotional love is of two kinds; svakiya and parakiya. Now I shall explain the characteristics of these devotional sentiments. The people of Dvaraka possess svakiya love, and the gopis possess parakiya love. There are two leading ladies among the Vraja women-Radha and Candravali. They are of two different natures. Radha stands on the left side of Krishna and Candravali on the right side." While speaking in this way, the Lord's mood changed and He advised Lokanatha, "Listen carefully to My instructions. When an accomplished devotee is reborn, he forgets his previous pastimes. Therefore, I take it upon Myself to educate that devotee, so that by hearing the sastra his memory will be revived. Therefore, I want to Rupa and Sanatana to publish many devotional books. You must all accept them or I will be very disappointed."
Lokanatha said, Oh my Lord, please tell me more so that all doubts will be removed from my mind. Vyasadeva wrote many books in which he explained the methods for worship of Krishna, but perhaps he has not given the complete explanation."
Mahaprabhu continued, "Kala amisa and Vilasa are the features of Krishna. The sastras have described this, but the description of Vraja worship has been omitted. Vraja worship is based on dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhurya bhavas. Aisyarya bhava is missing in it. Madhurya bhava cannot be understood by many. The parakiya pastimes of the Lord are beyond the comprehension of ordinary persons. Vyasa has discussed aisyarya bhava in his Bhagavata and Puranas but he did not elaborate on the other mood of devotion. Shri Rupa, by dint of his own realization and being empowered by My spirit, will clearly define these confidential devotional sentiments in Krishna lila. Shri Rupa is now living with the king, but soon I shall send him to Vrndavana to write. In his books he will propagate the method of worship of Vraja, fully describing the process through which a devotee is able to attain the mercy of the lotus feet of Shri Radhika. Those feet, for which I am always thirsty, I shall help mankind to attain. Thus the entire world will become mad with ecstatic love. You must help Me to fulfill My mission. Write to me regularly and I shall direct you accordingly. Vrndavana is the proper place for you to reside. If I am fortunate enough, I shall again get your darsana. But I want to tell you that without following varnasrama no one can attain the favour of Krishna. I shall stay in Nilacala for some time, then I will go to Gauda. As an ascetic, I shall then travel to all the holy places of pilgrimage."
Lokanatha inquired further, "Please tell me more about varnasrama. How can a devotee attain the mercy of Krishna by following varnasrama. And after attaining the favour of Krishna where does the living entity go?"
The Lord replied, "A devotee who follows the four types of varnas and asramas can attain the favour of Krishna. Even one who properly executes the duties of family life as a means to reach Krishna, will achieve the association of the Lord. However, the Vrajabasis do not follow this method; they do not worship Krishna as God. Their worship is imbued with spontaneous love, devoid of any selfish interest. Those endowed with spontaneous love do not care for the strictures of the scriptures. Such devotees certainly attain the feet of Shri Krishna. My dear Lokanatha, you do not know you who you are. You are actually Manjulali, the constant companion of Shri Radha. Manjulali beautifully decorates the transcendental body of Shri Radha. Her happiness is the happiness of Radhika, and she becomes morose at the sorrow of Radha."
Hearing all of this from Mahaprabhu, Lokanatha began to cry. The Lord continued, "Please go to Vrndavana to satisfy me. Travel through Girikunda, Govardhana, Yavata, Varsana, and other private flower groves and be happy to live in those places. Start at once and do not worry think about Me. Go to your original home and worship the feet of Kisora Kisori. Build a cottage in Rasasthali which is surrounded by trees like Tamala, Vakula and Vata. Visit Vamsivata, Nidhuvana, and take rest in Dhira Samira. Bathe in the Jamuna and practice living on alms. As an accomplished devotee, you will get numerous disciples. Rupa and others will join you later."
The following morning Chaitanya Mahaprabhu again instructed Lokanatha to go to Vrndavana and embraced him lovingly. When Lokanatha fell at his feet, Mahaprabhu placed His foot on his head. Holding the hands of Lokanatha, the Lord began to cry. Forgetting his own identity, Lokanatha also shed tears like torrents of rain. Only a loving master and his faithful servant can realise the meaning of this crying.
Gadadhara Pandita, as well as his disciple Bhugarbha, were present at that time. Bhugarbha eagerly approached his guru and requested, "Please be kind and allow me to go to Vrndavana. This has been my long cherished desire." Hearing this Mahaprabhu said, "Gadai, permit him to go with Lokanatha." Gadadhara consented saying, "Go happily with Lokanatha and travel all the way discussing Krishna lila." Both of them bowed at the feet of Mahaprabhu and Gadadhara Pandita, as the devotees shouted out the names of Hari joyfully.
Although the Lord had given the order, when Lokanatha left for Vrndavana, Prabhu began to cry helplessly and Gadadhara Pandita cried for his Bhugarbha. Lokanatha and Bhugarbha traveled happily, sometimes singing the glories of Krishna, while other times singing the glories of Gauranga. In this way they reached Rajmahala. At this point they were uncertain as to which way to go. They inquired from some passersby, who advised that not to go to Vrndavana as the roads leading there were filled with notorious dacoits. Worried that they would never reach Vrndavana, they decided to go in the direction of Tajpura. Eventually they arrived at the village of Puraria, and shortly thereafter reached Ayodhya. Although the journey had gone well so far, they were frightened that they would not be able to fulfill the Lord's order to go to Vrndavana. Nevertheless, they continued. Eventually they arrived in Lucknow, and on the twenty-third day they reached Agra. There they took bath in the Yamuna, then accepted some prasadam. Two days later they entered Gokula and visited the birthplace of Krishna. Finally, the following day they reached Vrndavana, where they meet Vaishnava Gosvami and bowed at his feet.**
Now I shall explain something wonderful. Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami, the favorite disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was the incarnation of Shri Radha. In his previous life Bhugarbha Mahasaya was Nandimukhi. At that time Nandimukhi was good friends with Manjulali (Lokanatha). Chaitanyacandra, the only master of the universe and the wish-fulfilling tree of all His devotees, understood this very well.
Lokanatha and Bhugarbha traveled throughout the dhama, sometimes rolling on the ground in ecstasy. They observed the beauty of Govardhana and from there went to Yavata, the abode of Shri Radhika, and acknowledged all the places where the sakhis used to perform their pastimes. From there they went to the house of Nanda, then to Sanketa kunja. There Lokanatha took the hands of Bhugarbha and asked him to describe the pastimes which had formerly taken place there. Relishing the pastimes of the Lord, they both began to cry out the name of Radha, oblivious to everything else. Thus they decided to halt there for a day. The local residents received them warmly and brought them delicious foodstuffs.
The next day was spent absorbed in ecstatic love on the hill of Varsana. In the morning they took their baths in the lake and then circumambulated Varsana. They decided to stay there that day and were served with great care by the people of the area. Next they visited Kali ghat, Nidhuvana, and Rasasthali. When they arrived at Chira ghat, they were overwhelmed by the beauty of the forest. They began to search for a proper place to build their hut, and at last found an appropriate tree.
When settled in, Lokanatha told Bhugarbha, "I am certain that there is no hope of ever seeing Chaitanya Mahaprabhu again. Knowing this well, Prabhu has sent us here, depriving us of the opportunity to observe His pastimes with His devotees." In lamentation he called out, "Oh my Lord! when will I have the fortune of seeing the lotus feet of Rupa and Sanatana?" Both of them began to wait eagerly for the moment when they would meet the two brothers.
Word quickly spread throughout Vraja about the arrival of two brahmanas. Struck by the beauty and disposition of Lokanatha and Bhugarbha, the residents did not regard them as ordinary men. People commented that these two sannyasis were extremely polished and polite, noting that they were equal to all persons, advising everyone to worship Krishna with devotion. Thus their glories spread far and wide and people, even from distant places, brought different varieties of prasadam for the two friends. In this way they became the life of the people of Vraja. Completely indifferent to material life, Lokanatha and Bhugarbha lived a secluded life in Shri Vrndavana dhama.
I am incapable of completely describing the glories of Lokanatha and Bhugarbha. I am simply trying to execute the order of Shri Jahnava and Viracandra. When Shri Jahnava went to Vrndavana, I accompanied her, along with my brother Ramacandra Dasa and other Vaishnavas. Thus I had the opportunity to witness many pastimes with my own eyes. There Isvari met Shri Rupa and other Gosvamis. Keeping faith in the lotus feet of Shri Jahnava and Viracandra, I, Nityananda dasa write Prem Vilasa. (68-87)