Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī
[October 26, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī in Vṛndāvana, India. In honour of his tithi, we are posting an excerpt from a bhāva anuvāda of the kathā given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on June 11, 2014 about the glorious Ciḍā-dadhi-mahotsava hosted by Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī to serve Nityānanda Prabhu and His associates. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
MEETING ŚRĪ CAITANYA MAHĀPRABHU AT ŚĀNTIPURA
When Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī met with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in Śāntipura, [he thought, ‘How shall I be able to get free from the hands of the watchmen? How shall I be able to go with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to Nīlācala?’] Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu [being omniscient, knew his mind and] instructed him:
sthira hañā ghare yāo, nā hao vātula
krame krame pāya loka bhava-sindhu-kūla
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 16.237)
[Be patient and return home. Do not be foolish. One can cross over the material ocean only gradually.]
markaṭa-vairāgya nā kara loka dekhāñā
yathā-yogya viṣaya bhuñja’ anāsakta hañā
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 16.238)
[“You should not make yourself a show-bottle devotee and become a false renunciant. For the time being, enjoy the material world in a befitting way and do not become attached to it.”]
Do not make a show of renunciation like a monkey. In other words, it is the nature of a monkey to exhibit renunciation externally and to enjoy inwardly. Therefore, Mahāprabhu is instructing Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī to act just like an ordinary person externally, but without any attachment within.
[antare niṣṭhā kara, bāhye loka-vyavahāra
acirāt kṛṣṇa tomāya karibe uddhāra
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 16.239)
Internally develop staunch faith in Śrī Kṛṣṇa and externally carry out your worldly responsibilities in such a way that no one can detect your inner mood. If you act like this, Śrī Kṛṣṇa will very quickly deliver you from material existence.]
Thereafter, Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī returned home and [externally] gave much attention to household activities [as per the Lord’s instructions]. Eventually his father and uncle became satisfied by his behavior, suspecting his mind had become steady; they assumed he was no longer inclined to run away from home.
NITYĀNANDA PRABHU ARRIVES AT PĀṆIHĀṬI
Following the instructions of Mahāprabhu to travel and preach, Nityānanda Prabhu came along with His associates from Purī to reside at Rāghava Paṇḍita’s house in Pāṇihāṭi. The news reached Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī as his residence was not far from this place; one was on the eastern side and the other on the western side of the Ganges. Immediately Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī came for Nityānanda Prabhu’s darśana.
When Rāghava Paṇḍita introduced him to Nityānanda Prabhu saying – “This is Raghunātha offering praṇāms”, Nityānanda Prabhu responded, “O Corā(thief)! You always try to stay away at a distant place but today I have caught you. When a householder catches a thief, what does he do? Becoming very angry, he punishes that thief. So now I will punish you - You have to feed all My associates with chipped rice and yogurt.”
Raghunātha Dāsa was very happy to hear Lord Nityānanda's command. [He sent his own men to purchase and collect all varieties of eatables.] He came with huge sums of money to celebrate the festival. His father and uncle were not miserly when it came to serving in this way. There was no bar on spending as long as Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī remained at home. The news spread all over that Govardhana Majumadāra’s son is celebrating ciḍā-dadhi-mahotsava. So Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī brought milk, yogurt, bananas, dates, oranges, sugar-cane and other eatables as well as pots; he had one rule, he would pay whatever the quoted price was [without trying to bargain].
Nityānanda Prabhu saw that a great quantity of products had arrived. Yogurt and milk cannot go together, but both had to be well-utilized, so in each of the earthen pots first the milk was boiled and [some milk was] condensed. [Then half of the soaked chipped rice was mixed with yogurt, sugar and bananas and the other half was mixed with condensed milk and a special type of banana called cāṅpā-kalā, then sugar, clarified butter and camphor were added] as well as dates, other fruits and sweets. This is called 'mālsā-bhoga' and everyone was given two pots, one of each variety. [One with chipped rice mixed with condensed milk, and the other containing chipped rice with yogurt.]
The festival witnessed such a huge gathering of people that there was practically no place to stand on the banks of the river so some stood inside the river and ate with the pots in their hands.
Then Rāghava Paṇḍita arrived there. [Seeing the situation, he began to laugh in great surprise] and said to Nityānanda Prabhu, “O! I have prepared Your offerings at home but You are having an utsava here?” Nityānanda Prabhu replied, “We are cowherds, and we love to do pulina-bhojana [picnic by the banks of the river]. So you should sit here and honour some prasāda as well! I will take the offering at your home in the evening, not now.”
Then, the presence of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was invoked there [in meditation by Nityānanda Prabhu]; He came from Purī, but the people in general, couldn’t see or notice Him. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu took food little by little from both the pots and then He wandered [among the devotees and observed everything.] In this way a grand festival was organized.
As any sacrifice is considered worthless without mantras being chanted and dakṣiṇā being offered ('mantra hīnam adakṣiṇam'), after feeding all the devotees, Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī asked Rāghava Paṇḍita for guidance [to ascertain how much dakṣiṇā to give each person] because if he were to give everyone equally then it would constitute a violation of etiquette. There is a kīrtana of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura which says, 'sakale sammāna korite śakati deho’ nātha! jathā jatha', meaning, ‘O! Gurudeva give me the power to honor all the living entities according to their due’. [Thus, Rāghava Paṇḍita made the list showing how much was to be donated to each and every devotee]. Accordingly Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī offered two tolās of gold and one hundred gold coins in the hands of Nityānanda Prabhu’s sevaka as dakṣiṇā to be distributed among all the assembled devotees [as per the list].
In the end, he prayed to Nityānanda Prabhu, “Prabhu, I don’t like saṁsāra and I want freedom from material bondage.” Nityānanda Prabhu placed His divine feet upon the head of Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī being very pleased with his service mood and his attitude towards the Vaiṣṇavas, saying “‘Ghucila bandhana’ - You shall no longer be bound in this material world. Your connection with saṁsāra has been severed. You have no material entanglements now”. But Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī responded, “I am being guarded day and night, how can I escape?” Nityānanda Prabhu reassured him, “Very soon, without impediments, you will attain shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu”
ANUPĀNA OF VAIṢṆAVA-SEVA
Within a few days, an opportunity arose of its own accord for Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī to be able to escape to Jagannātha Purī. This is because Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī had taken the appropriate anupāna [of vaiṣṇava-sevā] to go. [Anupāna is a liquid that is advised either, before, along with, or after the intake of an Āyurvedic medicine.] Medicine works best only when it is complimented with the recommended anupāna. Āyurvedic practitioners (kavirājas) insist on one’s taking anupāna.
Once, the Nawāb of Ḍhākā was suffering with an extreme condition in which his whole body was burning like fire. He tried all allopathic medicines to no avail. So he came to consult Śyāmadāsa Kavirāja in Kolkata. The kavirāja felt his pulse and said, “I cannot treat you because it is difficult to find the specific anupāna.” He was very disappointed and was returning by the boat in which he had traveled there when he noticed a poisonous snake drinking rain water that had collected in a skull. As his companions were asleep, he stepped out to drink the water from the skull [thinking, ‘Even if I die by drinking this, it doesn't matter. It is better to die than suffer like this.’]. But soon, he felt some relief from the burning sensation in his body. So he returned to the kavirāja, who told him, “Now I can treat you and you can be cured because you have taken the appropriate anupāna. If any poisonous snake drinks rainwater accumulated in the skull of a man who has recently passed away, and if such left over water is consumed, only then my medicine will work [for your specific health condition].” That Nawāb of Ḍhākā was eventually cured and he built a two storied house for Śyāmadāsa Kavirāja and cited how effective his treatment was. He also instituted a hospital by the name - Aṣṭāṅga Āyurvedic Hospital.
Mahāprabhu's sevakas from Śrīkhaṇḍa used to administer such treatments. There is a mention of these vaidyas in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 10.51) –
cikitsā karena yāre ha-iyā sadaya
deha-roga bhāva-roga, dui tāra kṣaya.
[As Murāri Gupta treated his patients, by his mercy both their bodily and spiritual diseases subsided.]
These vaidyas are devotees of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu; they do not take money for the treatment of sādhus, mahātmās and brāhmaṇas. I have taken many patients to them. Their consultation and medicines are both free.
When our Guru Mahārāja was a brahmacārī, he once visited one such vaidya for consultation and medicine for Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Deva Gosvāmī Mahārāja. During that visit, he told the doctor that he himself was to undergo an operation for a hernia. The vaidya checked his pulse and said, “[You don't have to undergo an operation right now.] There is time, so first try taking my medicine.” He wrote the prescription and the medicinal herbs and roots were bought from the market, boiled in four liters of water until the water was reduced to 1 liter, then the concoction was strained and milk and sugar (miśrī) were added. The bhāṇḍārī had prepared it and as Guru Mahārāja drank it, little by little, he enjoyed the taste and consumed the whole thing. Then he went to the latrine and everything was cleared. When Guru Mahārāja returned to the doctor, the doctor reported, “You have no hernia. Your stools had merely hardened and dried and formed into knots.”
Likewise in the world of hari-bhakti, treatment is needed. And what is the treatment? It is sādhu-sevā. So it is said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.5.2:
mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimuktes
tamo-dvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam
mahāntas te sama-cittāḥ praśāntā
vimanyavaḥ suhṛdaḥ sādhavo ye
[One can attain the path of liberation from material bondage only by rendering service to highly advanced spiritual personalities. These personalities are impersonalists and devotees alike. Whether one wants to merge into the Lord’s existence or desires to associate with the Personality of Godhead Himself, one should render service to the mahātmās. For those who are not interested in such activities, who associate with people fond of women and sex, the path to hell is wide open. The mahātmās are equipoised. They do not see any difference between one living entity and another. They are very peaceful and are fully engaged in devotional service. They are devoid of anger, and they work for the benefit of everyone. They do not behave in any abominable way. Such people are known as mahātmās.]
The door to liberation from material bondage can be opened by rendering service to highly advanced spiritual personalities. And what is the door to hell?
Yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam- association with woman or with those who are too attached to women, is the door to hell. So, it is necessary to not associate with such people.
na tathāsya bhaven moho
yoṣit-saṅgād yathā puṁso
[The infatuation and bondage which accrue to a man from attachment to any other object is not as complete as that resulting from attachment to a woman or to the fellowship of men who are fond of women.]
Yoṣita sevā and yoṣita saṅgi sevā – sense enjoyment with the opposite sex and association with those who are attached to sense enjoyment with the opposite sex – both should be avoided.