Śrīla Rasikānanda Deva Gosvāmī
[February 21, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrīla Rasikānanda Deva Gosvāmī, in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of the kathā given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on February 27, 2017. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is the disappearance day of Śrīla Rasikānanda Deva Gosvāmī, the foremost disciple of Śrī Śyāmānanda Gosvāmī. It is our duty to glorify the Vaiṣṇavas, especially on their appearance and disappearance days. By remembering the Vaiṣṇavas, we reflect on their pure teachings and conduct, and such remembrance eventually inspires and leads us to understanding very clearly, how to follow the path of pure Vaiṣṇavism.
A VAIṢṆAVA IS ON THE TOPMOST PLATFORM
Rasikānanda Deva Gosvāmī accepted dīkṣā from Śrī Śyāmānanda, who was born in a lower caste. As per Mahāprabhu’s instructions:
yei bhaje sei baḍa, abhakta—hīna, chāra kṛṣṇa-bhajane nāhi jāti-kulādi-vicāra
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.67)
[Anyone who takes to devotional service is exalted, whereas a non-devotee is always condemned and abominable. Therefore in the discharge of devotional service to the Lord, there is no consideration of the status of one’s family.]
To establish this truth, Śrī Rasikānanda Prabhu accepted shelter at the lotus feet of Śrī Śyāmānanda Prabhu.
VAIṢṆAVAS TRY TO HIDE THEIR OPULENCE
Rasikānanda Prabhu faced great opposition and was accused of not being bona fide because of having taken shelter of a non-brāhmaṇa. Generally it was considered that only brāhmaṇas had the privilege to study the Vedas and thus only they could deliver the true import contained in them to their disciples. Rasikānanda Prabhu swiftly counteracted all these baseless allegations by taking an astute philosophical stance.
Śrīla Prabhupāda would always assert that as soon as one begins to propagate the truth, oppositions and obstacles will inevitably arise.
To counter the powerful influence of Śrī Rasikānanda, his opponents hatched a plot to eliminate him by sending a mad elephant to attack him. Although the unalloyed devotees of the Lord possess all great qualities and mystic powers, out of their natural humility and modesty, they do not exhibit them. However, the Lord sometimes creates situations just to manifest the glories of His dear devotees. Thus when the mad elephant charged at him, Rasikānanda Prabhu had no choice but to exhibit his prowess. By merely chanting a mantra, he immediately subdued that wild elephant and transformed him into his surrendered disciple. Such was his power.
JAGANNĀTHA’S LOVING RECIPROCATION WITH RASIKĀNANDA
One time, Śrī Rasikānanda had an intense desire to attend Jagannātha’s Ratha-yātrā, but for some reason he was unable to arrive on time. In those days, six chariots were deployed for the Ratha-yātrā because a river used to flow, dividing the route (now known as the Grand Road) into two halves. Three chariots were required for one half of the route, then the Deities would be carried onto a boat across the river and another set of three chariots would take them to Guṇḍicā.
Rasikānanda-deva Gosvāmī was delayed on the way and became very unhappy thinking, “I may not get darśana of Jagannātha on His Ratha”. To reciprocate with Rasikānanda Prabhu, Lord Jagannātha forcibly stopped the chariot, not only for one day but for many days, allowing Rasikānanda time to arrive. Despite the intense efforts by thousands of devotees, the chariot wouldn’t move. Only when, Rasikānanda Prabhu arrived in Jagannātha Purī and touched the rope of Jagannātha’s chariot, did it begin to move. Such was the affection Lord Jagannātha possessed for his unalloyed devotee Rasikānanda Prabhu. In this way, Lord Jagannātha revealed the glory of Sri Rasikānanda.
I had darśana of Rasikānanda Prabhu’s birth place by the grace and mercy of Śrīla Bhakti Kumuda Santa Gosvāmī Maharaja. The samādhi of Rasikānanda Prabhu and his disciples is located in Remunā, just behind Kṣīracorā Gopīnātha Mandira. [Today I remember him and pray for his mercy upon all of us.]