Category Archives: Vaishnava acharyas

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – Biography, Teachings & Hare Krishna Movement

Chaitanya mahaprabhu

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, had mercifully appeared at Yogpeeth (in Mayapur, West Bengal, India) about 500 years ago (in the year 1486 AD), to bless us with the most amazing, profound, and ecstatic pastimes of Gaura Lila. Lord Chaitanya is also called upon by His innumerable names like Gaura, Gauranga, Gaurahari, Nimai, Gaurasundara, etc. In this article, we shall summarize the life, teachings, and biography of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in a nutshell. Eminent brahmana, Sri Jagannatha Misra and Saci devi were the proud parents of Lord Chaitanya. The identity of Lord Chaitanya as the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be verified in a number of Vedic scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, Garuda Purana, Nrsimha Purana, Padma purana, Bhavishya Purana, Narada Purana etc. We are quoting just two of such references below, for the pleasure of the devotees.

aham purno bhavisyami yuga sandhyau visesatah
mayapure navadvipe bhavisyami saci sutah
(Garuda Purana)

Translation – In the future, in first part of Kali yuga, I shall appear in my complete spiritual form at Mayapura, Navadvipa and become the son of Saci.

The mission of the Lord,along with a description of His golden complexion and how He descends along with His confidential associates in this age of Kali ,to inaugurate the Sankirtana Yajna is revealed in Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata purana) –

Krishna varnam tvishakrishnam sangopangastra-parsadam
yajnaih sankirtana prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32)

Lord Chaitanya’s life and teachings have been instrumental in uniting people across different nationalities, across different backgrounds – be it social, economic, linguistic, cultural. His teachings have been an example of such unity that the United Nations would be very proud of. Sri Chaitanya’s teachings have inspired men and women all across the world, to be united in this common cause, to forget their external differences and help each other out in their journey of life – a journey which is as important to the rich as it is to the poor, which is as important to an American as it is to an Indian; a journey which is as important to a Chinese as it is to a Australian. It is not too uncommon these days to hear the chants of ‘Hare Krishna’ ‘Hare Krishna’ in the streets of London, Paris, Tokyo or New Delhi. Congregational chanting of ‘Hare Krishna’, finds its roots in the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Eminent personalities have concluded that Sri Chaitanya’s life & teachings have no parallel in human history. Sri Chaitanya’s pastimes defy the investigative and the descriptive abilities of phenomenologists and psychologists of religious experience. 

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Rasikananda Murari – Life and enchanting pastimes of Gopiballavpur

rasikananda gopiballavpur

Sri Rasikananda Murari was born in the city of Rohini, which was then part of the kingdom of Mallabhum. He was born on a Sunday, the first day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, in the year 1590 AD. It was the time of Dipavali and lamps had illuminated the entire city. All the auspicious planets had converged at the time of his birth. Sri Acyuta Mahasaya, the King of Mallabhum, and Bhavani Devi became the fortunate parents of Sri Rasikananda Murari, who was an eternal associate of the Lord Caitanya. In this article we are going to discuss about Rasikananda’s childhood, devotional life, widespread preaching and the enchanting pastimes of Gopiballavpur. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of Sri Rasikananda Murari, the mere contemplation upon whose life and pastimes, evokes within one, the pure ecstatic love of God.

Rasikendra pada dvandvam , vande parama mangalam
Sarva madhurya sharanam , asharam paramotsava

I worship the lotus feet of Rasikendra (Sri Rasikananda) , who is the reservoir of all sweetness and the highest joy

The Kingdom of Utkala, which then stretched from modern-day Orissa and included the provinces of Bankura, Purulia, and Medinipur in Bengal, was largely inhabited by impious people in those days. These people used to attack anyone who sang the holy names of Lord Hari. They used to attack and rob sages who meditated within the forests. Whenever they would see Vaishnavas, they would immediately attack them, and push them out of their villages. The devotees of Utkala would always pray to Lord Krishna, to bestow His causeless mercy upon these sinners and bless them with the understanding of absolute truth. Lord Krishna, who is bhakta-vatsala, listened to these prayers, and sent His dear servant, Rasikananda, to widely preach and deliver the land of Utkala.

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Narottam das Thakur – Biography & Pastimes | Sripat Kheturi, Rajshahi (Bangladesh)

narottam das kheturiKheturi (Rajshahi), the birthplace of Sri Narottam das Thakur, is decorated with the lotus footprints of the great Gaudiya Vaishnava saints, who had arrived over here to attend the grand Gaura Purnima festival 500 years ago. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself the most fortunate and blessed to have been able to visit and relish this exalted dham of Kheturi (situated in Rajshahi, Bangladesh). This festival, renowned as the grand festival of Kheturi, saw the largest congregation of Gaudiya Vaishnavas in those days. During this historic festival, Lord Gaurahari, who had manifested His disappearance pastime by then, reappeared once more, along with His associates, to bestow His all-merciful darsana and causeless mercy upon all. Sri Krishna Caitanya was not able to hold Himself back, hearing the stone melting bhajans of Narottam das in the festival of Kheturi. As Narottam’s bhajana reached its emotional peak, the Pancha-tattva (Gauranga, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa), reappeared all of a sudden, amidst the devotees and engaged themselves in an ecstatic dancing sankirtana, flooding the devotees with waves of pure love of God. The grandeur of the Kheturi festival resounds till this day in the pages of Gaudiya history. King Santosh Datta, a devout Vaishnava and the brother of Narottam das, made pompous arrangements to receive and serve all of his guests. Great Gaudiya Vaishnavas from all across India attended this festival. Sri Srinivasa Acharya was appointed the head priest and Jahnava Mata, Lord Nityananda’s wife, who graced Kheturi with Her towering presence, was the chief guest. We shall surely delve into the ecstatic details of the Kheturi festival, but before that, let us taste and relish the heart-melting pastimes of our beloved Narottam das Thakur (Thakur Mahasaya), one of the eternal dearmost associates of Lord Gaurahari.

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The Twenty-six Qualities of a Vaishnava

vaishnava 26 qualities

Now that we understand the very basics of Bhakti yoga,from our previous article (‘The A B C D of Bhakti’), it is worthwhile for us to invest our time, and realize the magnanimity of an elevated Vaishnava, a pure devotee of the Lord. Reading Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, we come to understand that out of the innumerable godly qualities, there are twenty-six ,which are very prominent within a Vaishnava. Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja, out of his causeless mercy, has listed them down (Madhya Lila 22.78-80) for our meditation and contemplation.

sei saba guna haya vaishnava lakshana
saba kaha na yaya, kari dig darashana
(cc, Madhya, 22.77)

A pure devotee is magnanimous and an inspiration to one and all. It is only by great fortune, that one gets to associate with him. In Fact even a moment’s association with a pure devotee of the Lord is all purifying and it is only by his causeless mercy that one becomes eligible to engage in the service of the Supreme Lord. In this article, ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ shall try to relish and discuss about these glorious super excellent qualities that ornament the devotees of the Lord.

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Ula Birnagar – The Birthplace of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

birnagar

Sri Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who is sometimes also referred to as the seventh Goswami, is an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord. His contribution to the Brahma-Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya is invaluable.At a time when the science of pure devotional service (Bhakti)  had almost become lost due to the cultural and religious chauvinism of the ruling British, and the essence of Vaishnavism largely discredited due to the perverted actions and lifestyles of a few non bonafide Vaishnava sects, Srila Bhaktivinoda was largely responsible for rescuing and unearthing the timeless teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In Fact it was he who ,after conducting a painstaking research, had rediscovered the long lost birthsite of Sri Gaurasundara (refer – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’). Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, was not only a magistrate, but also a renowned and recognised scholar in his days, with vast knowledge in english,bengali,hindi,oriya and sanskrit.He was also a member of the royal asiatic society of London. Such was the degraded state of affairs during those days, that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura could not find a bonafide copy of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, the most important literature for understanding Lord Caitanya’s life and teachings, anywhere. It was only after several enquiries and a long wait, that he received a copy of this book. He subsequently published it along with his commentaries (Amrta-pravaha-bhasya). Likewise, he was instrumental in unearthing several ancient manuscripts like Caitanyopanishad ( portion of Atharva Veda) ,Sri Krishna Vijaya, etc. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself an insignificant servant of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whose causeless mercy has enabled us fools to get a glimpse of his elevated stature and pen a few lines in his glorification. We have dedicated a separate article covering the details of the Thakura’s later life (Remembering Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura at Svananda Sukhada Kunja & Surabhi Kunja, Navadvipa (Godrumadvipa)). In this article however, we shall mainly focus upon the birth and the early childhood of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

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Khardah Shyamsundar temple (Shyam Mandir) | Nityananda prabhu

We seek strength at the lotus feet of Lord Nityananada and Sri Birchandra so that we may recite the miraculous and wondrous history of the Khardah Shyamsundar temple !!!

khardah shyamsundar temple

History of Khardah Shyamsundar temple

Sri Birchandra Prabhu, or Birbhadra Goswami , as He was later referred to, was born on the ninth day of the dark fortnight, in the holy month of Kartika (october-november). Birchandra Prabhu was the son of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Vasudha devi. Srimati Jahnava mata was His initiating spiritual master. Sri Birchandra was an expansion of the Supreme Lord Himself, and appeared in this world to assist His father in furthering the mission of Lord Caitanya. Kavi karnapura reveals in his Gaura Ganoddesha Dipika that the expansion of sankarshan, who sleeps on the ocean of milk (Kshirodakashayi Vishnu) and manifests as the supersoul in our heart , had incarnated as Birchandra Prabhu in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. The holy dham of Khardah is located hardly at a distance of 20 kms from kolkata.The land of merciful Nityananda Prabhu is decorated all over with various wish fulfilling trees that readily bestow pure devotion upon all without any discrimination. Various demigods have been waiting and meditating for millions of years desiring to take birth in the transcendental abode of Khardah, where they shall be able to associate with the Lord’s pure devotees and obtain the dust from their lotus feet.The land of Khardah is a witness to Lord Nitai’s ecstatic pastimes, merely contemplating upon which ,one easily gains entry into the realm of transcendence.Srimati Jahnava Devi, Vasudha devi, Birchandra Prabhu have all manifested their sweet pastimes here and sanctified this holy tract of land. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ is exceedingly blessed to have been able to visit Khardah and take darsana of Radha Syamasundara jiu, who continues to shower His causeless mercy upon us suffering souls. Just a stone’s throw from the Syamasundara temple is the residence of Nityananda prabhu where Birchandra had appeared in this world.This house is renowned all over the three worlds as ‘Kunja Vatika’ and we have covered our visit to this place in a separate article entitled  – Kunja Vatika, Khardah’. Continue Reading…


Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s birthplace, Tollygunge, Kolkata

tollygunge

Sri Gour Mohan De and Srimati Rajani devi became the proud parents of Sri Abhaya Caranaravrinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada on the 1st of September, 1896. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada or Abhaya Carana ,as he was previously called, was born on the occasion of Nandotsava, at the home of his maternal grandparents, in the suburbs of Tollygunge. The fortunate jackfruit tree under which he was born stands tall this day. Calcutta back then was the capital of British India and the ‘second city’ of the British Empire. The British and the Indians lived in separate portions of the city although they intermingled in work and business. The Indians lived more towards the north of the city while the british lived amongst their theatres ,racetracks and cricket fields in central Calcutta. Sri Gour Mohan De used to reside along with his family in his rented house at 151 Harrison Road (refer –Srila Prabhupada’s pastime places in Central Kolkata). He was a cloth merchant with moderate income and belonged to the aristocratic suvarna banik (gold merchant) community. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ cannot help at this point but contemplate upon the exalted pastimes of another eternal associate of the Lord, Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura, who also belonged to this gold mercantile community (refer – Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura Sripat, Adisaptagram (Near bandel)’). Soon after Srila Prabhupada was born ,an astrologer prepared the horoscope for the child and made an accurate prediction. He predicted that when Srila Prabhupada would reach the age of seventy, he would cross over the oceans, become a great preacher of religion and open 108 temples. In this article ,however, we shall try to primarily focus on the pastimes that Srila Prabhupada had enacted here in India ,before he travelled abroad and established this worldwide movement.

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Srila Prabhupada’s pastime places in Central Kolkata

HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder acharya of Iskcon, our dear spiritual grandfather, has been and continues to be the greatest proponent of Krishna consciousness in the entire world. A true visionary, Srila Prabhupada, has built a home in which the whole world can live in peacefully. The International society for Krishna consciousness (his brainchild) has expanded its footprints to all corners of this world today, and has been instrumental in distributing the causeless mercy of Lord Caitanya in every town and village. Srila Prabhupada is none other than the commander in chief of Lord Caitanya, and he was empowered by the Lord and His Gurudeva to deliver the fallen souls all over the world. From the time he landed in America (1965) till the time he left his body (1977), Srila Prabhupada had encircled the globe a full 12 times, overseeing the construction of over a hundred Iskcon temples.In addition he has left us with hundreds of his books that continue to provide guidance and inspiration to devotees all around the world.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the life and pastimes of Srila Prabhupada in more detail in the article entitled – ‘The birthplace of A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Tollygunge’. In this present article ,however, we intend to provide a brief sketch of his pastime places in central Kolkata ,where he had grown up and spent a significant portion of his life.

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Rupa Goswami & Sanatana Goswami | Sripat Ramkeli, Malda

ramkeli chaitanya mahaprabhuRamkeli, situated in the town of Malda, has been the erstwhile headquarters of Sri Rupa and Sanatana Goswami before they fully surrendered themselves unto the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (refer – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’). It was here at Ramkeli, that Lord Caitanya had rested while He was en route to Vrindavana. Mahaprabhu did not travel as far as Vrindavana, though, and returned back only from Kanai Natshala (a place hardly 100 Kms from Ramkeli). The only purpose of His coming to Ramkeli, however, was to bless and unite with His eternal servants Sri Rupa and Sanatana Goswami. The tamal tree under which Lord Caitanya is said to have meditated is still preserved here at Ramkeli. A small temple built under this tree enshrines Sri Gaurahari’s lotus footprints on stone. There are eight sacred ponds surrounding the temple. These ponds (Kunda), dedicated to the eight principal Gopis of Vrindavana, were dug by Sri Rupa and Sanatana themselves when they lived here. ‘the Gaudiya treasures of Bengal’ considers itself greatly fortunate to have been able to enter and serve this cintamani (wish-fulfilling) dham.

Gaura amara, je-saba sthane,
koralo bhramana range
Se saba sthana, heribo ami,
Pranayi-bhakata-sange

May I visit and constantly contemplate upon all those places where Lord Caitanya performed His sweet pastimes along with His intimate associates.

We seek blessings and compassion of the Vaishnavas, before attempting to write a few lines in glorification of Sri Rupa and Sanatana Goswami. The readers are requested to kindly excuse any of our unintentional mistakes, as we are mere fools, who, not knowing our limits, are trying to delve deep into this esoteric well, to excavate the mesmerizing jewels that adorn the devotees of Sri Gaurasundara.

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Bhakti Bhavan : Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house in Kolkata

Bhakti Bhavan

Sri Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who is sometimes also referred to as the seventh Goswami, is an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord. His contribution to the Brahma-Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya is invaluable.At a time when the science of pure devotional service (Bhakti) had almost become lost due to the cultural and religious chauvinism of the ruling British, and the essence of Vaishnavism largely discredited due to the perverted actions and lifestyles of a few non bonafide Vaishnava sects, Srila Bhaktivinoda was largely responsible for rescuing and unearthing the timeless teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In Fact it was he who ,after conducting a painstaking research, had rediscovered the long lost birthsite of Sri Gaurasundara (refer – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’). Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, was not only a magistrate, but also a renowned and recognised scholar in his days, with vast knowledge in english,bengali,hindi,oriya and sanskrit.He was also a member of the royal asiatic society of London. Such was the degraded state of affairs during those days, that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura could not find a bonafide copy of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, the most important literature for understanding Lord Caitanya’s life and teachings, anywhere. It was only after several enquiries and a long wait, that he received a copy of this book. He subsequently published it along with his commentaries (Amrta-pravaha-bhasya). Likewise, he was instrumental in unearthing several ancient manuscripts like Caitanyopanishad ( portion of Atharva Veda) ,Sri Krishna Vijaya, etc. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself an insignificant servant of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whose causeless mercy has enabled us fools to get a glimpse of his elevated stature and pen a few lines in his glorification.

Continue Reading…