Sri Purusottama Vrata in Sri Jagannatha Puri
With Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
By Madhava Priya Brahmacari
The last fifteen days of Sri Purusottama-vrata (vrata means “vow”) were observed in Sri Purusottama-dhama, Sri Jagannatha Puri. During these days, more than six hundred devotees assembled from different parts of India and from all over the world, despite worldwide terrorism problems. They were blessed with the fortune to hear profuse hari-katha, and to perform parikrama of Sri Jagannatha Puri and neighboring areas under the guidance of Srila Gurudeva, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja.
In his opening speech on the first day, Srila Gurudeva said, “This year we are very fortunate due to the observance of Purusottama-vrata as part of Caturmasya. We have got the fortune to partake in the most auspicious activities, the nine limbs of bhakti, in this most rare human life, under the guidance of exalted Vaisnavas in Sri Jagannatha Puri Dhama.”
Srila Gurudeva then requested Sripad Bhaktivedanta Madhusudana Maharaja to explain from the astrological point of view how Purusottama month appears after every 2 years and 8 months. Maharaja then explained that, according to Surya Siddhanta, one solar month is thirty days whereas one lunar month is of twenty-nine and a half days. This means that in one month there is a difference of half a day between the lunar month and solar month, and in twelve months, the difference is six days. Also, according to the solar calendar, twelve solar months is equal to 360 days. However, the earth completes its rotation around the sun in 365 days and 6 hours; thus there are five extra days. 6+5 days + 6 hrs=11 days + 6 hrs. extra in 1 solar year22 days + 12 hrs. extra in 2 solar years 30 days extra in 2 years 8 months 16 days and 4 hours of the solar calendar. Thus there is an extra month, a gap between the calculation by lunar month and solar month. In order to bring both months into equilibrium, one month would have to be subtracted in every two years, eight months, sixteen days and four hours.
Srila Gurudeva explained that the word Purusottama does not refer to Maha-Visnu or Vaikuntha-natha Narayana, or even to Krsna of Dvaraka or Mathura. Purusottama, the name of the presiding Deity of this month, refers to none other than Brajendranandana Syamasundara Himself, the istadeva of the Gaudiyas; He is Golokapati-Krsna. How did this extra month get the name Purusottama? Being belittled by twelve other months, the presiding deity of this extra month approached Brahmaji, who took him to Vaikunthanatha Narayana. Hearing the plight of the extra month, Narayana then took him to Golokapati Krsna, who bestowed all His qualities upon the extra month and became its presiding Deity.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given a vivid description of this month in his article 'The glories of Sri Purusottama Month' published in the previous issue (No.8, Summer 2001) of the Rays of the Harmonist.
During our fifteen days' stay in Sri Jagannatha Puri, Srila Gurudeva spoke elaborately in his morning and evening classes on Sri Raya Ramananda samvada from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. Unveiling its many esoteric points and instructions, he said that if we really want to enter this sublime conversation, then we have to first of all know what is bhakti. He quoted Srila Rupa Gosvami: anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam anukulyena krsnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama (Brs. 1.1.11)"Uttama-bhakti, or pure devotional service, is the cultivation of activities that are meant exclusively for the pleasure of Sri Krsna, or in other words the uninterrupted flow of service to Sri Krsna, performed through all endeavours of the body, mind, and speech, and through the expression of various spiritual sentiments (bhavas), which is not covered by jnana (knowledge aimed at impersonal liberation) and karma(reward-seeking activity), and which is devoid of all desires other than the aspiration to bring happiness to Sri Krsna."
Srila Gurudeva’s beautiful explanation of each and every word of this verse clarified the subject of the entire conversation between Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Raya Ramananda. He said that this verse is the barometer for uttama-bhakti, enabling us to measure the different types of sadhya and sadhana of the conversation, and easily determine whether they are real bhakti or not.
Srila Gurudeva also mentioned that foreign devotees are not allowed to enter certain temples. It is a matter of great regret that those who are following the smarta path do not admit those who have taken to the path of Vaisnavism by accepting sad-guru and krsna-mantra, and by wearing kanthi-mala, tilaka, dhoti, etc. Still our devotees should not feel distress. Rather, they should be humble and tolerant, following in the footsteps of Srila Haridasa Thakura, Srila Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis, who never entered these temples, and considered themselves unqualified.
Srila Gurudeva lead the parikrama party to Srila Haridasa Thakura’s samadhi, Sri Radha-kanta Matha(Gambhira), Siddha-bakula, Sveta-Ganga, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya’s house, Sri Jagannatha Mandira, Srila Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s appearance place, Jagannatha Vallabha garden, Indradyumna Sarovara, Gundica Mandira and Sri Nrsimhadeva Mandira. The parikrama party also went by bus to visit Sri Alalanatha temple, Bentapura (the appearance place of Sri Raya Ramananda), and Saksi Gopala. The party also visited Lingaraja temple, Ananta Vasudeva, and Gauri-kunda in Bhubanesvara, as well as Konarka Sun Temple, Dhavalagiri and Udaygiri.
Then, again in Puri, Srila Gurudeva took the parikrama party to Cataka Parvata, Sri Tota-Gopinatha and Yamesvara-Tota, and to the Mathas of Sri Srimad Bhakti Kumuda Santa Maharaja, Sri Srimad Bhakti Saranga Gosvami Maharaja, and Sri Srimad Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, and to Bankim Mohana (the place where the logs of wood were found, from which the original Jagannatha Deities were made), and Bedi Hanuman (shackled Hanuman). At every place Srila Gurudeva narrated the sweet pastimes that occurred there.
Some devotees also went for the darsana of Sri Nila-Madhava.
On 7th October Srila Gurudeva took the parikrama pilgrims to Tota-Gopinatha Mandira. Tota-Gopinatha is the Deity manifested by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who placed Sri Gadadhara Pandita in charge of His seva. He is the Deity that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu entered at the time of His disappearance from this world. The enchanting garden where Mahaprabhu heard Srimad-Bhagavatam from Gadadhara Pandita is outside and to the left of the Mandira, as one approaches it. The following are excerpts from Srila Maharaja's lecture there.
"Anyone who thinks that Srimati Radhika became zero when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took Her bhava has not understood correctly. Someone may play the part of someone else in a drama, and that second person may still be present; he has not become zero. Someone may play Radha and Krsna, and Radha and Krsna may also be present, watching. Similarly, when Krsna 'took' the bhava of Radhika and became Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, She was also present as Sri Gadadhara Pandita, watching.
"Radhika came in the form of Sri Gadadhara. You should try to know gadadhara-tattva. There is no difference between Sri Gadadhara Pandita and Srimati Radhika, but the activities in Krsna's pastimes and Gaura's pastimes are different. Although they are one in tattva, there is some distinct speciality in Their respective services in the two lilas.
"No gopi, including Candravali, Lalita and Visakha, can experience Srimati Radhika's madanakhya-mahabhava. Krsna has rudha and adirudha-bhava, but not madana-bhava. Sri Gadadhara Pandita, on the other hand, has madanakhya-mahabhava. In Gaura-lila, however, it is covered so that he can help Krsna to play the part of Srimati Radhika. In the form of Sri Gadadhara Pandita, Srimati Radhika is looking and examining, and if there is some-thing wrong in Krsna (as Mahaprabhu), She corrects it.
"In gaura-lila Gauranga is not nagara. No one can serve Gauranga in madhura-rasa by thinking himself a nagari (heroine) gopi and thinking of Gauranga as the nagara (hero), Krsna. Everyone has to serve Him in dasya-bhava. No one should think, ‘I am Lalita, Visakha, or some other gopi.’ This is called gauranga-nagari-vada.
“It is possible for Krsna to be the enjoyer of conjugal mellows, but not Mahaprabhu. He is always in the role of a gopi, Srimati Radhika. Anyone can serve Mahaprabhu in dasya-rasa, but not in madhura-rasa. That would be absurd in this pastime. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta says that gauranga-nagari-vada is sahajiya. Caitanya-Bhagavata and our guru-parampara also reject this idea, and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has defeated the arguments of the gauranga-nagaris.
"Sri Gadadhara Pandita is Srimati Radhika, and he experiences prema up to madanakhya-mahabhava, but he is still serving Mahaprabhu in dasya-bhava. He wants to do what Krsna wants, and thus he covers this madhura-bhava. Sri Gadadhara Pandita knows what Mahaprabhu wants; He wants to play the part of Srimati Radhika. Right from the beginning, He is in Srimati Radha's mood. In order to play Her role, He needed detailed information, which no one other than Srimati Radhika Herself could have supplied. He therefore came here to Tota-Gopinatha to learn how to play Her part by hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam from Sri Gadadhara Pandita, who is none other than Srimati Radhika. In its deepest understanding, Srimad-Bhagavatam is really the glories of Srimati Radhika's moods.
"Because Sri Gadadhara Pandita is Srimati Radharani, he will be able to explain Her mood in Srimad-Bhagavatam. His explanations will be the highest explanation and glorification of Her mood. It will be greater than that of Vyasa, Sukadeva, and Krsna Himself. Mahaprabhu came here to know the glories of all the gopis, and especially of Srimati Radharani.
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came here to hear, and when He heard He fainted. Both He and Gadadhara Pandita fainted. Gadadhara Pandita knew that by hearing from him, Mahaprabhu would be more perfect in playing the part of Srimati Radhika, who is the principal in the school of Srimad-Bhagavatam, in the course of tasting its meanings. "There were three and a half confidential associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Gambhira. Why was Sri Gadadhara Pandita not one of them? He is superior to these other three and a half confidential associates. This is a hidden secret. If Sri Gadadhara Pandita had been there, Mahaprabhu's separation mood would not have come. In the association with Srimati Radhika, He would have thought Himself to be Krsna, and He would not have been able to relish Her moods.
“One day, after hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, Mahaprabhu was sitting on the sand here at Cataka-parvata, which He considered to be Govardhana. He told Gadadhara Pandita, 'Gadadhara, I want to give you my most valuable property. Will you accept it?' When Gadadhara Pandita agreed, Mahaprabhu said, 'This is the property of My heart.' He began removing the sand and said, 'My prana-dhana is here.' In the mood of Srimati Radhika, He exposed Gopinatha's head and crown, and others then began to help reveal His form. Mahaprabhu then requested Sri Gadadhara Pandita, 'You should take Him and serve Him throughout your life.'
"Gadadhara Pandita is always serving Krsna. In krsna-lila, Srimati Radhika always satisfies Krsna more than Candravali, Lalita, Visakha, and others. Her whole mood is to satisfy Krsna. In mahaprabhu-lila, because Krsna wants to taste Himself, He takes Radhika's mood, and She responds accordingly: 'He wants that, so I should not disturb Him. If I help Him in this, this will be my service.' Do you understand?
"When Mahaprabhu was calling, ‘Krsna! Krsna! O Prananatha!’ Radhika was there, but as an obedient servant. She was in a daksina (submissive) mood. The relationship of dasa is always in a daksina mood. Sri Gadadhara Pandita was even more daksina than Rukmini. Rukmini sometimes had some mana (transcendental loving anger), but Sri Gadadhara Pandita was not like that. If he had been in a vamya (left-wing or unsubmissive) mood, it would have been unfavourable to the mood of Krsna as Mahaprabhu. Gadadhara Pandita was always thinking, 'I am His servant.' If he had said, 'My dear Krsna, my dear beloved’, Mahaprabhu's mood would have been disturbed. "This was also true in Navadvipa. At that time Gauranga was also calling out, ‘Krsna, Krsna!’ not, ‘Radhe, Radhe!’ But at that time He was untrained; He had not yet been admitted into the school of Visakha, Sri Raya Ramananda. At that time also, Gadadhara Pandita always served as an obedient servant, covering all his moods as Srimati Radhika. And he is in the same mood in nitya Navadvipa-dhama. He is never nagari in mahaprabhu-lila."
Later, in his evening class the same day, Srila Gurudeva again gave an esoteric explanation on Sri Gadadhara’s tattva, dispelling the doubts and confusion regarding his position as non-different from Srimati Radharani. Srila Gurudeva explained:
“As a tree is known by its fruits, so we can understand Gadadhara Pandita’s glories by seeing the exemplary behavior of his disciples, such as Srila Lokanatha Gosvami, Srila Bhugarbha Gosvami, Srila Madhu Pandita, Sri Acyutananda (the son of Advaita Acarya prabhu) and the guru of Kavi-karnapura, Srinatha Cakravarti. Moreover, Sri Vallabhacarya, being inspired by Mahaprabhu, also took mantra-diksa from Gadadhara Pandita. A question may be raised, If Sri Gadadhara Pandita is Srimati Radhika Herself, didn't he ever manifest his leftist mood (vamya-bhava) in gaura-lila?
“Sri Gadadhara Pandita has madanakhya-bhava, but he never manifested it because he wanted to see whether Mahaprabhu was playing His role perfectly or not. If he had manifested his madanakhya-bhava, Mahaprabhu would have lost the mood of Sri Radha, and all His lilas would have been spoiled. If Sri Gadadhara Pandita had displayed vamya-bhava, gaura-lila would not have become possible. Therefore, in order to nourish gaura-lila, Gadadhara Pandita was always in a submissive mood.
“Another question can be raised, If Gadadhara Pandita is Sri Radha Herself, then why is He sometimes described in Caitanya-caritamrta as gaura-sakti, sometimes as laksmi-svarupa, and sometimes as having moods like Rukmini? In the treatises of Sri Murari Gupta and Sri Svarupa Damodara, in Kavi-karnapura's Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, and in the Sri Krsna-bhajanamrta of Narahari Sakara, Sri Gadadhara Pandita has been accepted as being non-different in tattva from Srimati Radharani. Although some external difference is seen in various contexts in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta regarding the position of Sri Gadadhara, the reality is still something else. There is no doubt about His position as non-different from Radharani; we only require proper reconciliation. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami cannot write anything against the siddhanta of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Svarupa Damodara.
“First, let us deliberate why a mood like that of Rukmini was imposed upon Him. Sri Gadadhara Pandita had all the moods of Srimati Radhika, beginning from sraddha to modana, madana,etc. However, as Sri Gadadhara Pandita, Srimati Radhika kept all Her moods concealed for the service and pleasure of Her beloved Sri Krsna in the form of Mahaprabhu. In other words, She accepted daksina-bhava (a submissive mood) like that of Rukmini. As the obedient servant of Krsna in the form of Mahaprabhu, Srimati Radhika, as Gadadhara, never maintained any independent desire. Rather, She subdued all Her desires to satisfy the desires of Her Prabhu.
“This is the type of daksina-bhava displayed by Sri Laksmanaji towards Sri Rama when, on His order, Laksmanaji took Sita-devi to the forest and left her there, although he himself never wanted to do so. A sat-sisya also has such daksina-bhava for his Gurudeva. Undergoing all types of pains and difficulties, he subdues all his personal desires, and tries to please his Gurudeva.
“The role and services of Gadadhara Pandita is the example of Srimati Radhika's wholesale dedication and self-giving for the pleasure of Her beloved Sri Krsna as Mahaprabhu. In krsna-lila, vamya-bhava (an unsubmissive mood) is also seen in Srimati Radhika at such times as in mana, but in gaura-lila, in the role of Gadadhara, She subdued all such moods and maintained daksina-bhava, only for the pleasure of Mahaprabhu. This type of service, which is opposite to one's own desires, is very difficult to perform. However, being the supreme abode of prema, Srimati Radhika as Gadadhara gives us the instruction to perform such difficult services.
“If, when Gadadhara Pandita saw Mahaprabhu, he had called out to Him in radha-bhava, ‘Alas Prananatha!’ Mahaprabhu would have come to embrace him, and all His moods would have been spoiled. Mahaprabhu could not be served by radha-bhava, the conjugal mood, at that time. Rather, dasya-bhava was required to nourish His moods. Srimati Radhika is sarva-laksmi-mayi, and therefore there should not be any objection to referring to Her as laksmi-svarupa. Moreover She is para-sakti, who is worshipped even by Krsna Himself.
“From the above statements we can easily reconcile apparent contradictions to the understanding that Gadadhara Pandita is none other than Srimati Radhika Herself. Mahaprabhu came to taste the moods of Srimati Radhika, not of Rukmini. If Gadadhara were the incarnation of Rukmini, he would not have been able to serve Mahaprabhu by helping Him to taste the moods of Srimati Radhika. Furthermore, why would Svarupa Damodara, who is accepted without controversy as the incarnation of Lalita-sakhi, and who has written Sri Gadhadara-astakam, glorify Rukmini-devi instead of her sakhi Srimati Radhika? When Sriman Mahaprabhu relished radha-bhava int he Gambhira, Sri Svarupa Damodara stayed very close to Him. He knew perfectly well that it was Sri Gadhadara Pandita who was supplying all the bhavas from a distance, to help Mahaprabhu relish radha-bhava.”
Hearing the beautiful classes by Srila Gurudeva and seeing the many pastime places, several devotees commented, “This is the best parikrama I have ever experienced.” Some remembered reading somewhere that the Purusottama month is even higher than Karttika. On his last day in Puri, however, Srila Gurudeva clarified this idea. Though he glorified Purusottama month with all sastric references and realizations, he concluded, “Karttika month is so much higher. Purusottama month is Krsna, and Karttika is Srimati Radhika. She is so much more glorious than Krsna. Only by the grace of Srimati Radhika is the true glory of Purusottama Krsna known. Her devotion is the light by which Krsna’s beauty shines, which in itself makes Radhika more resplendent. In the same way, Her month of Karttika illuminates the glories of this Purusottama month, which in return only stands to highlight the magnificence of Karttika even more.”