Sunday, February 25, 2018

Chapter 6: Initiation, Interest in Rasa Lila & Wandering in Braj

Shri Vrindavan

Shri Maharajji resided in Shri Vrindavan Dham for a long period this time. Initially he used to sing bhajans [1]and roam about here and there. However, he wished to study the 'Shrimad Bhagwat' in due course of time. So he started searching for  a learned bhakta who knew the essential nature of the text's flavour and could make him gain entry into the spirit of the scripture. He came to know that Mahant Shri Ramanujacharya of Shri Haridev Mandir was an unparalleled scholar and exponent of the 'Shrimad Bhagwat' in Vrindavan. The Acharya was initiated into the 'Shri Sect' of the Adi Shri Ramanujacharya tradition. Moreover, he was held in high esteem in the ashram of Udiya Baba, a siddh[2] saint who was profound in the knowledge of Brahma and highly learned. That is where he would keep narrating the Bhagawat Katha frequently.

The Shrimad Bhagwat

Therefore Shri Maharajji went to Acharya Shri Ramanujacharya for studying the 'Shrimad Bhagwat.' However, Acharyaji refused to teach him the scripture without initiating him first.

Shri Ramanujacharya

We have already mentioned that Shri Maharajji had taken birth in the lineage and shishya tradition of Adyacharya Shri Ramanujacharya who was the initiator of the 'Shri Sect' and revivor of the 'Vishist Adwait' theory, and an incarnation of Shesha. He was related to the Venkatadri Doctrine but did not disclose the lineage of his family to Tridandi Swami Shri Ramanujacharya, the Mahant of Shri Haridev Mandir. However, on seeing his sharp intellect, proficiency in English and qualities of sacrifice and asceticism, Acharyaji happily initiated Maharajji and kept him in his own ashram. After staying there for some time, Maharajji began studying the 'Shrimad Bhagwat'.  

The Laghu Siddhanta-Kaumudi

Simultaneously he read the 'Laghu Siddhanta-Kaumudi[3]'.

Shri Haridev Mandir

Mahant Shri Ramanujacharya had a disciple named Kamal Nayan who lived in the ashram situated in Shri Haridev Mandir. He was simple-hearted, sentimental and of the same age as Shri Maharajji. Though he was initiated into the 'Sri Sampradaya' his love was centred on Vrindavan Vihari Lord Krishna. Mentally, he devoted most of his time in Ashtyam Seva[4]. He never went out of Braj as long as he lived. Usually he would stay in Sri Dham and sometimes roamed in Braj  whenever he wished to. He got acquainted with Shri Maharajji and gradually they became the best of friends.  

 The Rasa Lila Shocases the Romantic Dalliance of Radha-Krishna

So far Maharjji had been a devotee of Balaji, the majestic omnipotent form of Lord Krishna. But now his heart was naturally attracted and drawn by the playful dalliance of the sweet sportive form of Lord Krishna. Sometimes Kamal Nayan would insistently take him to see the 'Rasa Lila[5]' though Maharajji had no interest in the Rasa. He presumed that young boys and girls would jointly take part in enactment of the Rasa.

Why do they make young girls dance in front of society? Making them do so will have a wrong impact on society,” Maharaj ji ended up asking this question one fine day.

Shri Kamal Nayanji burst out laughing and revealed that there were no girls playing the svarupas or roles in the Rasa Lila and they were all sons of Brahmans residing in Braj. The enactment of the Rasa Lila had been going on for hundreds of years. By seeing it rasikas[6] invariably have divine experiences. On enacting these roles, the boys would sometimes have bhava avesha or go into a trance like state of religious rapture. Many such miracles have taken place.

Enactment of The Rasa Lila

When Kamal Nayanji explained things in this manner Maharajji's interest in the Rasa Lila was keenly aroused and he started going with him to the Rasa every day. Gradually his interest in the Rasa increased so much that he would become ecstatic on viewing it. Now he just could not stay away from seeing enactment of the Rasa Lila. He would go with Kamal Nayanji wherever it was being performed. The Rasa Lila stimulated prema[7] and aroused sattvik bhavas[8] after some time. At times he would see the Rasa Lila three times a day and because of being steeped in its infinite joy would not be conscious of even hunger or thirst.

The Vamshi Vata

In those days the Rasa Lila would be performed by the mandali of Swami Shri Damodar Dasji at Vamshi Vata, daily in the morning  and the troupe of Swami Shri Priya Sharanji at the Gwalior temple famed as Brahmachari Mandir, at night. Maharajji would go with Kamal Nayanji to both the places and see the Lila. 

 Dwarkadheesh Temple, Mathura

The Rasa Lila would be simultaneously organised at the Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura on every Ekadashi[9]. He would go there on foot and relishing the delight of the Lila, would return to Shri Dham in the morning. Shri Maharajji was so deeply addicted to see the enactment that he would view the Rasa Lila in the famous Radhajiwan Mandir situated in the periphery of Shri Radha Vallabhji, from nine to twelve at night in the Margashirsha month. Only true lovers of the Rasa would come to see the performance because of the bitter cold, thus the beautiful Lila could be organised in a peaceful atmosphere. Shri Maharajji would be present along with Shri Kamal Nayanji for these performances of the Lila. After Shri Kamal Nayanji passed away, Shri Maharajji would follow this routine alone.

Kamal Nalyanji was well versed in the sadhana of Ashtyam Seva. Because of his company Shri Maharajji began to do the seva (service) and chintan (meditation) of Ashtyam Seva and lost interest in studies. The restriction of place also began to create disturbances in his sadhana. Therefore he left Shri Haridev Mandir and began living alone and independently in a small hut built beneath a dome in Rangji ka Bagicha[10]. He would beg for alms from some locality. Most of his time was spent in viewing the Rasa Lila, meditating on Ashtyam Seva and in reciting the Divine Name.

The Mahamantra

 It is not known when and how incantation of the Mahamantra began taking place instead of 'Om Krishnaya' which he had usually chanted. The sound of taking God's name began giving him immense joy. 

'Shri Chaitanya Charitra'

It is possible that association with Gaudiya saints or deeply studying the 'Chaitanya Charitra' was the root cause for this change. Chanting this mantra[11] would make his mind ardently long for the Divine, tears would start streaming down his cheeks and his body hair would stand on end due to ecstasy. Alongside, meditating on the lilas or playfull dalliances of the Divine would go on. With the passage of time, this meditation became continuous and various kinds of lilas or divine plays began to boldly flash forth on the screen of his mind, day and night. As a result he did not feel fully satisfied with time bound constraints, and the sportive background of the Ashtyam Seva which had a limited and specific bhava.

The Eight Manajris of Shri Radha Rani

Acharyas have determined particular methods of doing Ashtyam Seva in various samapradayas. Amongst them, appropriate seva of Manjari Svarupa [12] and meditating upon the eight lilas as per given instructive tradition has been prescribed every three hours. However, the amorous sports of Shri Radha-Krishna was gushing forth in the heart of Shri Maharajji now.

This meditation on dark-hued Krishna’s romantic dalliance further intensified Shri Maharajji's ardent longing. He became eagerly desirous to actually behold Lord Krishna's dalliance. His heart was constantly throbbing with this passionate wish that how would he have perceptible darshan of the Divine?

 Shri Krishna

“ Does one have pratyaksha darshan[13] or actually behold Lord Krishna in Kaliyuga?” Once he put up this question in front of the sect's scholars, in the presence of Shri Ramanujacharya, the Mahant of Shri Haridev Mandir,

The learned academicians gave their views on this topic. All of them affirmed that one can visualize God in a dream or one can see Him mentally by focusing one's thoughts on Him but actually seeing dark-hued Krishna is not possible in this age of spiritual darkness.

This revelation struck the heart of a sadhaka who was eagerly desirous to behold God, like a thunderbolt. The instant he heard this enunciation, his condition became strange. Astounded, he was totally nonplussed. Quietly he got up from the assemblage and came into his small hut. Closing the door, Maharajji burst out crying. Without eating or drinking a thing, he kept weeping for three days at a stretch. Shri Kamal Nayan went and reported this incident to Shri Ramanujacharyaji.

Bhakti Saint Meera Beholds Lord Krishna

Shri Ramanujacharya called for Shri Maharajji and made him sit next to him. Lovingly stroking his head and back, he said “If this kind of crying is constant  one can certainly have pratyaksha darshan of Krishna. Pained by the immense anguish of separation Shri Meera, the Rajrani of Mewar, actually beheld Lord Krishna. A person suffering from such pangs of separation can have pratyaksha darshan even now.”

Listening to this instance, Maharajji was supremely satisfied. Constantly recollecting God's name by chanting the Mahamantra, and ardently longing to  have darshan of Lord Krishna, he began to eagerly wait for that auspicious day.

He was blessed by the grace of a siddh saint at that time. Kamal Nayanji was once suffering from severe cold and fever. Three days had passed by but neither the cold nor fever had subsided. Both Kamal Nayan and Shri Maharajji were detached to worldly objects and had no money on them to arrange for the treatment. However, when the suffering increased Shri Maharajji thought that black pepper and sugar candy should be procured from somewhere 

 Basil Leaves

 so that a decoction of basil leaves could be made and given to Shri Kamal Nayanji. Thinking in this manner he stepped out of the bagicha (garden). He was feeling thirsty so he took a water pot and rope along so that he could draw water from the outer corner well and drink it. An old Mahatma had arrived in the meantime. He was wearing soiled clothes and his locks of hair were tied.
Drawing Water from the Well

I am thirsty. Make me drink water. Coming near the well, he began asking Maharajji for water

Seeing the old Mahatma's dirty clothes, Shri Maharajji's mind was bogged down by purificatory tendencies and he hesitated in giving drinking water from his small water pot. All of a sudden the Mahatma began speaking in pure refined Sanksrit. Hearing his brilliant Sanksrit speech, Maharajji was very impressed and a bit embarrassed by his own behaviour. He made the Mahatma have water from his dolchi (small water pot)and the Mahatma drank the full pot of water.

What do you want?” he asked thereafter

Shri Maharajiji was busy worrying about the treatment of Kamal Nayanji.

Sugar Candy & Black Pepper

Black pepper and sugar candy,” is what he instantly asked for.

Two Paise Coins

The Mahatmaji smiled on hearing this request. Scraping the ground a bit with his finger he took out a few big pepper corns and two paise coins and kept them in Shri Maharajji's hand. The coins were so new that it seemed that they had just been minted and were coming straight from the mint. Seeing this he was very astonished.

Anything else? the Mahatma asked once again

Nothing!” was Maharajji's immediate answer.

You did not ask anything for your own self,” remarked the Mahatma, looking at him with compassionate eyes.

Chaar Sampradaya Ashram

Maharajji was just concerned about Kamal Nayanji's health therefore he immediately left to buy sugar candy. Whereupon, he saw the Mahatma heading on the path which lead to Char Sampradaya Ashram.

Getting the black pepper and sugar candy, Shri Maharajji came back soon. On Kamal Nayan's asking that from where had he got the sugar candy, Shri Maharajji narrated the entire incident to him.

What have you done? You have committed a blunder. He was certainly some siddh[14] mahatma. You have lost the treasure which had come to hand. Shri Kamal Nayan got up at once on hearing this strange occurrence and exclaimed,

Having said this, Shri Kamal Nayan got up and forgetting his ailing condition asked,Hurry up! Tell me in which direction he has gone?

Running both of them came outside the garden and sped towards the path which the Mahatma had taken. They searched everywhere but could not trace him anywhere. Disappointed the two of them strode back to the garden.

A great opportunity has slipped out of our hands. You were sure to get whatever you would have asked from him today. Kamal Nayanji commented remorsefully.

Shri Balkrishna Das ji Maharaj

The two of them kept searching for the Mahatama for many days but could not find out anything about him. Shri Maharajji had later said that on attaining a high stage in the sequence of sadhana, he had come to know that the Mahatama had showered whatever grace he had to on him, even on his not asking for it.

[1] Bhajans: devotional songs
[2]     Siddh: one who is perfected and sanctified by penance
[3]     Lagu Siddhant Kaumudi: is a text in which Panini Sutras are so rearranged as to bring together the relevant sutras bearing on a particular topic.  The book is a valuable contribution to the study of Sanskrit Grammar.
[4]     Ashtyam Seva: A method of devotional remembrance and meditation introduced by Jagadguru Nimbarkacharya which means that a selfless devotee should remember the lilas of Radha Krishn;  Whatever they normally do since the early morning when They get up from  bed till night when They go off to sleep.Meditating upon their lilas, the devotee must feed and deck ShriRadha-Krishna accordingly. Ashtyam literally means eight times a day or every three hours.
[5]     Rasa Lila: an enactment of Lord Krishna's dalliance and round dance with the herdirls of Braj
[6]     Rasikas: persons moved by passionate religious devotion especially for Krishna  
[7]     Prema: selfless love of Shri Radha for Krishna
[8]     Sattvik bhavas: or ecstatic emotion. Sattvik bhavas are powerful ecstatic emotions which arise in the devotee without any conscious intention when he is overwhelmed with blissful love. Becoming stunned, fainting and faltering of voice are examples of sattvik bhavas.
[9]     Ekadashi: eleventh day of the lunar month
[10]    Bagicha: garden
[11]    Mantra: Hinduism. a word or formula, as from the Veda, chanted or sung as an incantation or prayer.
[12] Manjari Svarupa: The maidservants of Shri Radha who have a greater love for Radha Rani, are known as manjaris.
[13]    Pratyaksh darshan: an instance of seeing or beholding. It is most commonly used for visions of the divine in Hindu worsship. Pratyaksh means to see with reverence and devotion.

[14]    Siddh mahatma: a great Brahman sage who has attained spiritual perfection

1 comment:

Minakshi Aggarwal said...

Very nice!!Charit Vaibhav is really a great granth.Sh. Maharajji ki poori Chhavi jyon ki tyon dikhayi deti hain!!
Yahan sunder photographs se aur adhik lively lag rahi hain.