Thursday, February 1, 2018

Chapter 1: Where Bhakti Dances Joyfully

'utpanna dravide saham vridhi karnatake gata  |'

'Born in the Dravidian region, bhakti (religious devotion) evolved particularly in Karnataka. 'This is precisely what Bhakti Devi [1]confirms in her above-mentioned statement.

 Vrindavan Dham

'vrindavanam  punah   prapya   naveenev   surupinee  |
jataham yuvatee samyak presthroopa tu sampratam  | '

'Only on coming to the sacred dham of Vrindavan, bhakti evolved to perfection. Here alone it performed its ecstatic and blissful dance of yore and became resplendent in the form of a beautiful beloved, blossoming in the prime of her youth.'

 'dhanyam vrindavanam tain bhaktirnrityati yatra ch  | '

'Blessed is the land of Vrindavan where bhakti is in full bloom. '

 Shri Balkrishna Das ji Maharaj

The life story of our protagonist Shri Balkrishna Dasji Maharaj seems to be a shading of this history of religious devotion. He was born in Karnataka but his bhakti sadhana reached its acme in the holy dham of Vrindavan. It is here alone that he saw the full manifestation of his beloved Lord Krishna and intoxicated by love, his heart constantly danced in ecstasy.
'shuchinam shrimatam gehe ' 

'In the home of illustrious, pious personages' (Bhagavad Gita, chapter 6, shloka 41) the story of piety-centric life is spun out further.'

 Kulasekhara Alwar

Sampat Kumar (Shri Balkrishna Das ji Maharaj) was born as a descendant of the well-known saintly ruler [2]Kulasekhara Alwar of the Kerala region. Kulasekhara is considered to be an incarnation of Kaustabh Mani, the Lord's breast gem. He was so deeply engrossed in religious devotion that he was unable to perform his princely duties. Hence Kulasekhara relinquished his kingdom and spent his entire life in devotional practices. Living in Shrirangam he composed the 'Mukunda Mala Stotra' which is the garland of Vaishnavas, even today. 

 His entreaty was:

Mukunda Mala Stotra

'mukunda murdhna pranipatya yache
bhavantame kantmiyantamartham  |
bhave bhave maestu bhavatprasadat  || 3||'

' O Lord Mukunda! I bow down my head to Your Lordship and respectfully ask You to fulfill this one desire of mine that in each of my future births I will, by Your Lordship's mercy, always remember and never forget Your lotus feet. '

Shri Ramanujacharya

Sampat Kumar's family settled down in Srirangam itself. When Shri Ramanujacharya re-established the 'Pancharatra Sampradaya' and Vishishtadvaita philosophy in the latter half of the eleventh century and first half of the twelfth this family was also initiated by him. However, pained over the persecution of Vaishnavas by Kulothunga, the then Chola Emperor, Shri Ramanujacharya left Shrirangam and took abode at a site near Mysore in Karnataka. 

Melkote-Thiru Narayanpuram

There, he built the grand temple of Shrirangam which later on became famous as Melkote and he named the site 'Thiru Narayanpuram.' The Kulashekhara family also left Shrirangam along with Shri Ramanujacharya and accompanied him to ThiruNarayanpuram-Melkote. Shri Maharajji was born in this very ThiruNarayanpuram-Melkote. His family was related to Vyanktadri Amanaya initiated by Shri Ramanujacharya, and Tirupati Balaji was their isht dev or family deity.

Shriman Mahaprabhu Chaitanya Dev

Sampat Kumar's maternal ancestry was adorned by Shri Gopal Bhatt Rangacharya, a famed Acharya in the Gaudiya Sampradya. He was a contemporary of Shriman Mahaprabhu Chitanaya Dev. In his sojourn of the south, Mahaprabhu had spent the catur-masya at his father Shri Venkat Bhatt's[3] house. An account of this episode is given in 'Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita.'

Shri Gopal Bhatt

During this period Shri Venkat Bhatt surrendered his son Shri Gopal Bhatt, at the
feet of Shri Mahaprabhu:

aaj  diwas  kee  bhiksha  main  yeh  sadar arpit  ||

Shriman Mahaprabhu showered incomparable grace on that eight-year old child and initiated him as his disciple.

The Gopal Mantra 

By giving him the Gopal Mantra, Mahaprabhu bestowed great blessings on him:

yeh vidhan mahan kare jag ka kalyan  ||13||


tumse honge prakat sarva vaishnav sidhhant  |
na ras nirupann pratipadan mein hongein bhraant  ||23||

Thakur Radha Raman ji

Ultimately Shri Gopal Bhatt came to Shridham Vrindavan where the idol of Lord Krishna emerged from the Shaligram shila he worshipped. Ever since it is being adoringly propitiated in the well-known Shri Radha Raman Mandir. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sent the gifts of his asana and the cord of his kopeen for Shri Gopal Bhatt.

Gopis in Seva Kunj

Shri Jatavallabh Aprameya Annacharya who had sakshat darshan and actually beheld the gopikas in Seva Kunj of Vrindavan was born into this very family. Thus the sacred river of religious devotion gushed forth joyously in both Maharajji's paternal and maternal ancestries.

[1]    Bhakti Devi: goddess of religious devotion
[2]    Kulusekhara Alwar: Kulasekhara is one of the twelve Tamil azhwar saints of South India, who are known for their affiliation to the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism.
[3]    Shri Venkat Bhatt: A very pure hearted Brahman named Venkata Bhatt humbly begged Mahaprabhu to come to his home. Lord Chaitanya accepted his invitation. When he came to Venkata Bhatts house, Venkata Bhatt washed his lotus feet and then he drank the caranamrita and distributed it to all of his family members. With sincere love he invited Lord Chaitanya to remain in his house for the four months of catur-masya.


Anonymous said...

It's glorious and awesome....I read all the material. You have nicely described.. Keep it up.
Congratulations and blessings.of Maharaj ji.....Many many thanks.
Anand, Vrindavan.

Megha Kumar Nevile said...

Really insightful read!