Vaisnava Saints

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SRI JAYADEVA GOSWAMI

 Sri Jayadeva Goswami made his appearance at Kendubilvagram within the district of Birhum, during the 11th century.    His father's name was Bhojadeva and his mothers name was Bama devi.  Little is known about his early life, but it is said that he was a Sanskrit scholar at an early age and was inclined towards spiritual life.  Some of his contemporaries have described him as "the incarnation of melody."  Jayadeva is also famous as the great poet of Gita-govinda.  Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to especially relish hearing the Gita-Govinda as well as the works of Candidas, Vidyapati, Ramananda Raya and the Krsna-karnamrta by Bilvamangala Thakura.  Sri Gita-Govinda is full of intimate pasimes of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda and is therefore meant for those who have acquired sufficient spiritual piety. 

         "For those who relish the remembrance of the pastimes of Sri Hari and are always anxious to hear those transcendental divine narrations, these verses, sweet as honey, have been composed by Jayadeva with the blessings of Mother Saraswati." 

As a young man, Jayadeva went to Jagannatha Puri after visiting many holy places.  There he married a girl named Padmavati, who was devoted to the Deity of Lord Jagannatha.  Jayadeva also developed deep love for the Lord.  Inspired by the beauty of Puri and Lord Jagannatha, he composed Gita-Govinda, and it quickly became the joy of the Vaisnava community.  At the time, Gajapati Purusottamadeva was the provincial king.  He was openly envious of Jayadeva and soon posed an ill-fated challenge.  The king considered himself a master poet, on a par with Jayadeva, and composed a work called Abhinava Gita-Govinda.  One day, he summoned his advisors and asked them to widely circulate his work, in an attempt to make it more popular than Jayadeva's.  The king's own men, however, ridiculed his attempt, telling him that it was impossible to compare a lamp to the sun.  Still, the king was relentless.  A controversy soon arose, and the brahmanas (the king's priests) decided that the matter would be settled by placing both manuscripts before the Deity of Lord Jagannatha for the night.  By morning, they said, the Lord Himself would decide.  When the devotees went to greet the Deity the next day, they found Jayadeva's Gita-Govinda clasped against the Deity's chest, and the king's manuscript scattered about the floor.  The decision was clear.  

During the time that he became engaged as the chief pandita of Raja Laksman Sena, he resided at Navadvipa on the banks of the Ganga.  Also present were three other panditas whose names he has mentioned in Sri Gita-Govinda.  Sri Umapatidhar, Acarya Sri Govardhan and Kavi Ksamapati, who were his close friends.  At that time, Laksmana Sena, aware of Jayadeva's position as a great Vaisnava, went to see Jayadeva to request him to become his minister, to become the royal pandita for the whole kingdom.  However, when the king arrived with his ministers in full regalia, Jayadeva became very angry, as he was a brahmana and his residence was being intruded by a king.  Jayadeva began to rebuke the king.   "I'm leaving Navadvipa, I refuse to reside here any longer. Because kings are always involved in so much worldly activity, my residence has now become polluted.  Therefore, I'm leaving.  I'm very offended."  Then Laksmana Sena, he paid his obeisances to Jayadeva and he pleaded, "Please don't leave my kingdom.  I meant no offense.  It's true, this royal order is such a despicable occupation.  We have to be involved in so many undesirable activities to protect the country, but if you leave our kingdom then it will be a great loss.  You've given your word, I know you can't break it, so please just take your residence across the Ganga."  At that time Jayadeva was living just near the place where the Mayapur Chandradaya Mandir is now located.  This is proof that the original Navadvipa was on the Chandradaya Mandir side, because the king told Jayadeva to take his residence across the river.  "At least then you'll still be in our kingdom.  Otherwise, if we lose the association of such a great Vaisnava this will be very inauspicious for everyone.  We want the blessings of the Vaisnavas, and only for this reason have I come to you, to request you to use your knowledge for the upliftment of the entire kingdom."  So Jayadeva, seeing that after criticising the king he did not become puffed up but instead took a humble position, realised that he was a devotee and not just a materialistic king who wanted to exploit him for his own name and fame.  So then Jayadeva said, "Allright, I'll live across the river.  You can also come and visit me, but don't come as a king, come in ordinary dress like a Vaisnava brahmana.  You can come and see me in secret and we can discuss Krsna-katha." 

In the Gita-Govinda, while writing about the pastimes of Radharani as She repented after Krsna had gone away, he became lost in thought.  Not being able to decide whether or not he should write a particular verse regarding Krsna becoming the servant of his devotee, he decided to first take his bath and return to his writing later.  While taking his bath, Krsna himself personally appeared in the form of Jayadeva, took his meal and then wrote down that very verse with his own hand.  Then, while Padmavati was accepting her meal Jayadeva returned from taking his bath in the Ganga.  Padmavati was completely startled to see her husband, and Jayadeva aswell was very surprised to see that his wife was accepting her meal before him (which is never done by Hindu wives).  Finally she explained that he had already taken his bath once, taken his meal and then gone to his room.  Jayadeva went to his room and saw the verse that he had been considering whether to write or not, now composed in golden letters.  With tears in his eyes and voice choked up he called out to his wife, "Padmavati!  You are so fotunate!  You had darsana of the Supreme Lord!"  Lokasvana Sena, devotee-king, built a hut made of leaves at Campahati for Jayadeva.  Lord Krsna appeared there to Jayadeva and his wife.  Changing the colour to that of the golden campa tree which grew in the area, He revealed His form of Lord Caitanya.  He told them He would soon appear in Navadvipa to perform congregational chanting before taking sannyasa and going to Puri, where He would relish Jayadeva's Gita-govinda.  Lord Caitanya asked them also to go to Puri.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura has commented that even though Sri Gauranga Deva hadn't revealed his internal pastimes at that time, within the heart of Sri Jayadeva, Sri Bilvamangala, Sri Candidas, and Sri Vidyapati, the transcendental mood of Mahaprabhu was awakened even before He Himself actually made His appearance.  Jayadeva Goswami also composed a book named Candraloka.  His disappearance is on Pausa Sankranti.  His worshippable Deities, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, are being worshipped in the former temple of Radha-Govinda just outside the present city of Jaipur.

 


Sri Rasikananda as a boy

 Rasika did not spend time in games like other children. Instead he would meditate on the maha-mantra refusing to accept any of his mothers foodstuffs until he could complete one lac of names. This became his daily practice. The people of the town told Acyuta, "Surely your boy has received the favour of Krsna, otherwise how could a mere boy show such intelligence. He is always meditating on the name of Krsna and he doesn't care for eating or sleeping." In the company of his friends Rasika would re-enact the pastimes of Lord Krsna. They would dress themselves in different garments so that someone would be Brahma and someone Lord Narayana lying on the Ksirodakasayi ocean. Sometimes one would dress as Devaki, another as Vasudeva and another as Kamsa who would put them in prison. Sometimes one would dress as Nanda Maharaja and another as Yasoda while others would be cowherd boys or calves and some would be Putana or Trnavarta or Sakatasura. Rasika enjoyed playing in this way and he would meditate on Bhagavata. Those who observed his behaviour could see this child was not ordinary. Sometimes he would enact the pastimes of Krsna eating dirt or His being tied up with the mortar and then breaking the Yamalarjuna trees. On other occasions they would perform the killing of Vatsasura. Rasika liked to watch his friends perform all these pastimes just as though they were Krsna with His friends. He would see them pretend to be Aghasura while another would be Krsna and kill the demon. One boy would then be Brahma and kidnap the other boys or else he would be Brahma praying to Lord Krsna. Then one would be Dhenukasura and another as Krsna would kill him. They loved to enact the pastimes of Kaliyadamana where some of the boys would be the wives of the Naga and offer Krsna nice prayers. They were able to describe the glory of Krsna's flute and they could describe the Autumn season. There were other plays such as installing a deity of Katyayani and then one of the boys would play Krsna and steal the dresses of the others who were the gopis. Sometimes they became the yajnic patnis and the cowherd boys would beg rice from them on behalf of Krsna. When they played the sport of lifting Govardhana Hill and the attempt of Indra to kidnap Suravi it caused Rasika to faint in ecstasy and he rolled on the ground in a trance. Seeing the behaviour of the boy the local panditas thought to themselves, "He must be a favourite devotee. Whatever we know of the theories of Bhagavata are nothing in comparison to this child who has absorbed himself in the pastimes of Krsna." Other pastimes they enjoyed included the kidnapping of Nanda Maharaja by Varuna and Krsna's going to rescue him. When they arranged a Rasamandala for Radha and Krsna to dance with all the gopis they enacted Krsna's disappearance from their midst and the gopi's search for Him. Seeing the disappearance of Krsna, Rasika Murari fell under the eight types of ecstatic emotions. Sometimes they would sing from Gopi-gita or they would kill the Arista demon or the Kesi demon or else it would be the subduing of Sankhacudha (Sudarsana). They played Krsna brought by Akrura on the order of Kamsa and His killing of the washerman and distributing his clothes. Then Krsna meeting Kubja and Sudama the florist and the killing the elephant Kuvalayapida, the wrestling match against such giants as Canura and Mustika and the killing of Kamsa. In this way Rasika Sekara saw the embodiment of Bhagavata and continuously absorbed himself in the Lord's pastimes.

 taken from -  Rasika-mangala.

 


SRI BILVAMANGALA THAKUR

    The famous sannyasi named Bilvamangala Thakura is also known as Lilasuka.  Suka means "parrot".  This name is said to have been given by his guru Somagiri on account of his merit in describing the loving lila or sports of Sri Krsna.  There seems to have been more than one person of the name of Bilvamangala but we are concerned with the author of Krsnakarnamrta. The history of Bilvamangala Thakura is given in a book called Sri Vallabha Digvijaya.  He appeared in the eighth century Saka era in the province of Dravida and was the chief disciple of Visnusvami.  It is evident that Bilvamangala belonged to the Visnusvami sect, because neither the Ramanuja sect nor the Madhva sect had yet come into being.  In a list of temples and monasteries kept in Sankaracarya's monastery in Dvaraka, Bilvamangala Thakura is mentioned as the founder of the Dvarakadhisa Temple there.  He entrusted the service of his deity to Hari Brahmacari, a disciple of Vallabha Bhatta.  The worship of Padmanabha at Trivandrum was offered the first worship by Bilvamangala.  The fact that Bilvamangala was at first a Sankarite follower before his conversion into Vaisnavism may be gathered from his own writing.  During this period from before Sankara, Vaisnavism was making headway in the south under the active patronage of King Kulasekhara of Kerala, who was the author of the immortal Vaisnava poem Mukunda-mala-stotra.  Bilvamangala's conversion to Vaisnavism was quite possible in an age of religious revival, when the disciples of Sankara founded the maths at Trichur dedicated to Lord Visnu in His manifestation of Parthasarathi and Narasimha.  The memory of Bilvamangala is still fresh at Trichur and other parts of the Kerala state. 

   Krsnadasa Kaviraja (16th century) by way of explaining ther first sloka of the Karnamrta, records the traditional account of the life of our poet in his commentary Sarangarangada.  According to Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami the composer of Karnamrta was first given worldly attachments; then he cultivated kevala-jnana or contemplation of impersonality of Brahman; and thereafter he turned out to be a very close devotee of Lord Krsna.  Born in a brahmin family in South India, he is said to have been a renowned scholar and lived on the eastern bank of the holy river Krsna-Venna in South India.  He had an illicit love affair with a dancing girl who was a musician and harlot named Cintamani, who used to live on the opposite bank of the river Krsna-Venna, and whom he used to visit every night.  One stormy night, finding no boat, he risked his life to cross the terrible river by floating on a corpse that lay on the surface of the stream.  But, to his disappointment, he found the gate of the prostitute's house was bolted from within.  He shouted her name with all his might, but it was of no avail.  His cries were deadened in the deafening thunder, boisterous winds and torrential rains which were beating on the windows and walls.  What was to be done?  Nothing could daunt his morbid passion which should be satisfied even at the cost of his life.  He was then as a devil incarnate.  The walls were too high and steep to scale.  The weather-beaten but passionate Bilvamangala made a last desperate attempt to climb the steep wall.  Having nothing else to hold on to, he seized the tail of a snake, which clung to the wall, and succeeded in leaping over but fell heavily to the ground on the other side of the wall bringing Cintamani to the spot.  In what was practically a dying condition, he was discovered by his love for whom, for the sake of a frantic infatuation, he had risked his life.  Had she not found and nursed him, it is certain he would have died.  She carried him into the room and there nursed him tenderly as he hung between life and death.  She, seeing his mad love for her, felt a pinch in her conscience and reminded him that such an intense love, if offered to God, might lead them to their highest good.  When he recovered consciousness, she pitied and abused him for his fool hardy venture, saying, "What a great fool you are!  Shame on your learning!  I know and I am always conscious of my own wicked life and profession.  Had you been attached to God in the way you love me, you would have been an angel."  It sounded like a call of God to Bilvamangala, who had existed in a circle of hell.  The whole face of things was instantly changed, so inspiring were her words at that great moment.  To him, those words of hers were not merely a reprieve, but a total deliverance from his hateful life, a restoration that suffused his whole being.  Her grim censure proved wholesome to the remorseful Bilvamangala; changed the whole course of his life, giving it a swift turn into spiritual channels.  With this she too renounced the world, giving up all her fortunes, and as such she became Bilvamangala's vartma-pradarsaka guru or his guru showing him the way to the highest well being.  The very next day he renounced the world and began the most severe asceticism, being initiated by his guru Somagiri.  From this sannyasi guru, Somagiri, Bilvamangala learnt practices for self-control and concentration of the mind and also got Gopal-mantra. Later however, Bilvamangala once desired to enjoy the beautiful wife of a brahmana.  But while in her company he became disgusted with himself for his lusty desire.  Blaming his eyes for diverting him from his spiritual quest, Bilvamangala took the beautiful woman's hairpins and pierced his eyes.  

continued later....


Sri Jiva Gosvami

When Sri Jiva was only a boy, he avoided playing with his friends or other activities which had no connection with Krsna.

He would make images of Krsna and Balarama, worship them with flowers and sandal paste and dress them with fine clothes and ornaments.

When he would bow on the ground before them he would weep.

He offered them various kinds of sweetmeats and then enjoyed eating the prasad of the deities with his friends.

He loved the deities of  Krsna and Balarama so much that even when he was alone he would play with them.  At bed time he would clasp the deities tightly to his chest and sleep.  His parents could not separate their son from his deities although they thought he was merely playing.

To continue the rest of the story- Jiva


Sriman Jayananda Thakur

      Just like there was this one story, the culmination of the Ratha-yatra in New York. We worked for three months, and we were finally raising the dome on Lord Balarama's cart. The dome was 60 feet high, and we were right on the wind-swept Hudson River. And right at this time, me and Jayananda were on the winch and the canopy was all the way up when this gust of wind started and the canopy started going back and forth. And all the devotees backed off the cart, they're all down on the ground. Everybody was down there and Jayananda finally said, "I think we ought to let it down." And I said, "Yeah, let's let it down." So we were just going to let it down and the whole thing just snapped right in half, it blew right off the cart, the fences were all smashed, the hoops, the mast was right in half. Me and Jayananda were these two sticks out in this canvas, it was on our heads and Jayananda was trying to get his way out of it. Finally he gets his way out and he goes, "Wouldn't you know it? 4:00, we've got 12 hours before Ratha-yatra, let's get going!" So we worked all night and we put the whole cart back together.

 More of this-  surf onto The Jayananda Website


Gunga Express     Jayananda Prabhu    Intelligencer

more pastime sites-Lord Caitanya's march on the Kazi, and Caitanya Leela, and Sri Nityananda Rama.  

 

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