Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja Gosvāmī
[January 10, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja Gosvāmī in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of a discourse by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on January 17, 2015. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content. A few portions have been taken from the following article for the purpose of detailed elaboration - https://www.visuddhacaitanyavani.com/single-post/2018/10/28/Srila-Narottama-Dasa-Thakura]
VAIṢṆAVAS ARE PARA-DUKHA-DUKHI
Today is the tirobhāva of Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja - a disciple of Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya. Just after his marriage, Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja was following in a grand procession wherein people praised the couple for appearing as beautiful as Indra-Indrāṇi or Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa. However, when Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya saw [the procession], instead of praising the couple he became highly afflicted, thinking of the bridegroom becoming entangled in the material world. Realizing this, Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja [the bridegroom] turned around and fell at the feet of Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya and said, "Gurujī, I have come!". There and then he surrendered and never returned. Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja was an [intimate] associate of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura. In Kheturī he used to perform kīrtana and other [devotional activities] with Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura.
ONLY BY VAIṢṆAVA’S MERCY
The brother of Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja was Govinda Dāsa. He was a śākta (worshiper of śakti). When Govinda Dāsa fell ill and his final moments were approaching, Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja began to pray for his brother, ‘ante nārāyaṇa smṛtiḥ’ - that in his final moments, he should leave his body having remembrance of [Bhagavān] Nārāyaṇa.
etāvān sāṅkhya-yogābhyāṁ sva-dharma-pariniṣṭhayā janma-lābhaḥ paraḥ puṁsām ante nārāyaṇa-smṛtiḥ
[The highest perfection of human life, achieved either by complete knowledge of matter and spirit, by practice of mystic powers, or by perfect discharge of occupational duty, is to remember the Personality of Godhead at the end of one’s life.]
As a result, Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja prayed to Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, “You are parama-vaiṣṇava. By your desire my brother will attain the mercy of Bhagavān. For his auspiciousness, kindly recite the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for him”. Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, however, not considering himself a Vaiṣṇava, summoned Śrīnivāsa Ācārya by a handwritten letter requesting him to recite the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to Govinda Kavirāja. By hearing the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Govinda Kavirāja was transformed, and in the process, this kīrtana sprang forth from his lips as he became a Vaiṣṇava: ‘bhajahū re mana śrī-nanda-nandana abhaya-caraṇāravinda re – [O mind just worship the lotus feet of the son of Nanda, which make one fearless].
Once, following the dictates of a dream, Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura visited an abandoned granary belonging to a brāhmaṇa and asked for permission to access it. Despite being forewarned that nobody dared to venture there, as the place was infested with many poisonous serpents, Narottama affirmed that he didn’t mind and was not harmed by any snakes as he entered. Rather, there he discovered six Deities which were actually being guarded by those poisonous serpents [The six Deities discovered were: Śrī Gaurāṅga-deva, Śrī Vallabhī-kānta, Śrī Vraja-mohana, Śrī Rādhā-kānta, Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa and Śrī Kṛṣṇa].
At that time, Śrī Jāhnavā-mātā was the chief amongst the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. So when Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura turned to her for guidance, she instructed, “These deities are self-manifest and hence no formal installation [prāṇa-pratiṣṭhā] is necessary. Only mahā-abhiṣeka need be performed. Invite Śrīnivāsa Ācārya to perform the mahā-abhiṣeka, while Śyāmānanda, Rāmacandra Kavirāja and you do the service of performing kīrtana. Invite all the Vaiṣṇavas in and around Gauḍa-maṇḍala, Kṣetra-maṇḍala and Vraja-maṇḍala, and befittingly arrange everything.”
A festival of that stature has never been held anywhere to date. Even to this day the Kheturī Mahotsava [the great festival of Kheturī] is very famous and unprecedented.
After the festival of Kheturī, Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya returned to Vṛndāvana with Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja. Following this, Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja never again left Vṛndāvana. Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya’s samādhi is there at Dhīra-samīra and just next to him is the samādhi of Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja, his intimate servitor.
PRĀRTHANĀ AND PREMA-BHAKTI-CANDRIKĀ
In the mood of great separation on the disappearance day of Rāmacandra Kavirāja, two great works sprang from the lotus mouth of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura. One is Prema-bhakti-candrikā and other one is Prārthanā.
In those prayers, Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura has prayed, ‘dayā karo śrī ācārya prabhu śrīnivāsa rāmacandra sanga māge narottama dāsa’ - Be merciful, O Prabhu Śrīnivāsa Ācārya! Narottama Dāsa begs for the association of Rāmacandra Kavirāja. (Prārthanā)
In this regard, Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura said, ‘If I get a human birth, I must get an associate like Śrīla Rāmacandra Kavirāja’. Later he resided in Vṛndāvana and at the end of his life he established himself in Jagannātha Purī, where devotees in his disciplic succession still serve in his maṭha.
VAIṢṆAVA SEVA GRANTS THE ULTIMATE
So the āvirbhāva and tirobhāva of Vaiṣṇavas - are both auspicious. Je vaiṣṇava sevile acintya kṛṣṇa pāya tāhā hoite baḍo āra kichu nāi… Who said this? Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura. Just as glorifying the activities and qualities of Bhagavān is auspicious, so is the glorification of the activities and qualities of Vaiṣṇavas. Actually, the glorification of the activities and qualities of the Vaiṣṇavas has been given more importance. Je vaiṣṇava sevile acintya kṛṣṇa pāya - That personality whom we cannot perceive or conceive of with our [materially contaminated] senses becomes conceivable by serving the Vaiṣṇavas.
That is why Vaiṣṇava Sārvabhauma Śrīla Jagannātha Dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja instructed my parama-gurudeva, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura, to prepare the Navadvīpa Pañjikā (Vaiṣṇava Pañjikā) – to include all the auspicious occasions like Janmāṣṭamī, Ekādaśī, and other important tithis such as the appearance and disappearance days of various Vaiṣṇavas. Under his guidance we also publish a pañjikā and by seeing the descriptions [of the respective tithis] therein, we speak [glorify] about the Vaiṣṇavas.