Śrī Gaura Pūrṇimā
[March 7, 2023 is Śrī Gaura Pūrṇimā in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of a bhāva anuvāda of a discourse by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on March 17, 2010. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
JUBILATION OVER LORD’S BIRTH
People have arrived here to perform Navadvīpa-dhāma parikramā and today is the last day of the parikramā. Today is the ādi-vāsa tithi of the appearance day of Gaura; it is observed that the demigods recite hymns and prayers (stavas and stutis) glorifying the Lord.
Śrīla Advaita Ācārya was greatly pained by the pitiful state of this world where no one engaged in performing hari-bhakti, except a few pious souls who would chant the names of 'Govinda’ or ‘Puṇḍarīkākśa' while taking bath. [All the Vaiṣṇavas] were despondent. Śrīla Advaita Ācārya considered, ‘Unless my Prabhu [Bhagavān] descends, there is no means of deliverance’, thus he roared loudly, calling out to Bhagavān to descend.
When Gaura appeared, Śrīla Advaita Ācārya felt great ecstasy. Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura also experienced great jubilation and began to dance with Śrīla Advaita Ācārya. They attempted to postulate the apparent cause behind their jubilation that day but failed to ascertain it. Why? This, in itself, is Bhagavān’s bhagavatatā [Godhood]. Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura has repeatedly cautioned, 'ke tāne jānite pāre, yadi nā jānāya' – who can know Bhagavān unless He reveals Himself? (Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi 4.23)
Śrīmatī Sītā-devī, the wife of Śrīla Advaita Ācārya, arrived in Māyāpura from Śāntipura [because they had received the news that a child had been born to Mother Śacī]. [Previously] Mother Śacī had given birth to many daughters who died prematurely and later Viśvarūpa was born to her. So all those who gathered recited prayers and glories (stava/stuti) of the child, and in order to protect Him from all evil influences He was named Nimāi after Neem, which is bitter and by nature defends against any kind of harm [and also because he was born under a Neem tree]. In this way, He was protected from fear and danger. But does the Lord have any fear?
THE LORD REVEALS HIMSELF
Śrīla Advaita Ācārya had a school in Māyāpura [which Nimāi’s elder brother Viśvarūpa would attend]. On the order of His mother, Nimāi would go there to fetch His brother. Although Nimāi used to visit every day, still Śrīla Advaita Ācārya failed to recognize Him [as his worshipable Lord].
Yet whenever young Nimāi would call for his brother, Viśvarūpa, saying, 'Mother is calling you, please come', Śrīla Advaita Ācārya would become enchanted by the sight of Nimāi’s beautiful face.
The point I want to make here is, in spite of witnessing all these pastimes, could Śrīla Advaita Ācārya understand the Lord? No, not until the Lord exhibited ‘sāta-prahariyā bhāva’ and revealed His divine form for twenty-one hours sitting on the altar of Viṣṇu having the deities on His lap while manifesting His four-handed form in full opulence (aiśvarya mūrti). At that time the Lord instructed Śrīrāma Paṇḍita, the younger brother of Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita, to call Śrīla Advaita Ācārya along with his wife, Śrīmatī Sītā-devī, to perform His worship. Śrīla Advaita Ācārya came but instructed Śrīrāma Paṇḍita to tell Śrīman Mahāprabhu that he had not come. While returning, Śrīrāma Paṇḍita was in anxiety, thinking, ‘The Lord is the protector of the surrendered souls (praṇata-pālaka), He protects and takes away the impediments. Prabhu is omniscient, therefore, how can I say to Him that Śrīla Advaita Ācārya has not arrived? And at the same time, how can I not follow the instructions of Śrīla Advaita Ācārya?’ He was in a great dilemma but then Śrīman Mahāprabhu said, ‘I know Śrīla Advaita Ācārya has come and hid himself in Nandanācārya Bhavana and you have been instructed to say that he has not come. The Lord is ‘Bhaktārthi-haraṇa, the remover of the distresses of the devotees; He heard the prayers of Śrīrāma Paṇḍita and relieved him of his distress.
They all saw Him day in and day out, meeting Him often during His student pastimes, but no one could recognize Him as the Supreme Lord amongst them. This is Bhagavān’s bhagavatatā. In Caitanya-bhāgavata, Śrīla Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura repeatedly chants, ‘ke tāne jānite pāre yadi nā jānāya’ - who can know the Lord unless He reveals Himself?
No one can know tad-vastu (the Lord) by knowledge, mind or intelligence.
nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā na bhunā śrutena
yam evaiṣa vṛṇute tena labhyas tasyaiṣa ātmā viviṛṇute tanuṁ svām
(Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.23)
The Supreme Lord is not known by expert explanations, by vast intelligence, nor even by much study of scriptures (by hearing). So who can know Him? Only one who is surrendered unto Him can know Him. The Supreme Lord will manifest His own form, Śyāmasundara-rūpa, before such a person. This is a fact.
He had to self-manifest and reveal Himself. He will not manifest by any other process, except His own will; ‘satyaṁ vidhātuṁ nija-bhṛtya bhāṣitaṁ’, (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.8.17) - in order to prove the words of His devotees, He appeared from the pillar taking the form of Narasiṁha-deva.
NIMĀI SENT TO SCHOOL
Viśvarūpa later left home and accepted sannyāsa. [Crest-fallen, Nimāi’s parents feared that] Nimāi would also leave home if he continued studies and understood the world to be temporary. For this reason, Nimāi’s education was stopped. Nimāi never transgressed any instructions of His parents, so His studies were stopped.
One day, Nimāi went and sat on a pile of discarded used earthen pots. When His mother saw this, she said, “Now that you have sat on soiled pots, You have to purify Yourself by taking a bath in the Gaṅgā“. In turn, He said, “I am a foolish brāhmaṇa. I do not know what is pure and what is impure. You are not giving Me the opportunity to study the scriptures, so how can I know the difference between pure and impure?” At that time, with the black soot from the charred pots smeared on His golden limbs, Nimāi appeared very beautiful.
The neighbors began to question, “Which enemy ill-advised you not to educate your child?” Mother Śacī responded, “Viśvarūpa left home after his studies, so rather than Nimāi treading the same path, I prefer that He remains like a fool at home without acquiring any education. This is my only objective”. One neighbor replied, “My child does not wish to study; I have to forcibly send him to study and your child wants to study and yet, you stopped Him. This is unfair.”
It was then decided that Nimāi’s studies should resume, so Śrī Jagannātha Miśra admitted Nimāi into Śrī Gaṅgā dāsa Paṇḍita’s school. As He began to study, it was observed that He learned very quickly and could easily memorize His lessons.
PERSONIFICATION OF HUMILITY
In His later pastimes, He won a debate with a digvijayī-paṇḍita by finding a fault in his composition. No scholar dared to come before that digvijayī-paṇḍita. The digvijayī-paṇḍita said to Nimāi, “Your specialization seems to be different. You are a grammar teacher”. Nimāi replied, “I take pride in being a grammar teacher, yet when My students pose questions, I am unable to answer them correctly.” However, when the time came to assess the digvijayī-paṇḍita’s composition, He immediately found faults with it. The digvijayī-paṇḍita said, “What can You understand? You haven’t learnt figures of speech; you are merely a scholar of grammar.” Nimāi said, “Since I do not know, I am requesting you to enlighten Me”. When the Paṇḍita asked which verse he should explain, Nimāi promptly selected a verse from the middle of the Paṇḍita’s composition [which contained the term] 'bhavānī-bhartuḥ.
Nimāi pointed out, “'Bhavānī means Śivānī - Śiva's wife. Bhartuḥ means the husband of Śivā’s wife. Bhavānī itself indicates that she is the wife of Śiva and when she is addressed as bhavānī-bhartuḥ, it gives an impression as if she has another husband.” Hearing these words, the paṇḍita felt as if the earth [support] beneath his feet had disappeared. Nimāi then asked the paṇḍita to continue speaking the glories of the Ganges as he had begun but the paṇḍita could not say anything. He felt very ashamed and all the students of Nimāi that were present there began to mock him. Nimāi chastised them and stopped them from mocking him. Through this pastime He taught to not transgress etiquette with such a scholar.
Thus, the Lord is the personification of humility. He enlightened the paṇḍita about his mistakes such as ‘bhavānī-bhartuḥ’ in the verse. The paṇḍita felt intimidated, thinking, ‘I spoke the verses so fast and yet, Nimāi picked one verse among them and found faults with it.’ The Lord replied, “By the blessings of Devī one becomes a digvijayī and someone else becomes a Śrutidhara” (one who retains just by hearing once).
But, did Caitanya-deva become 'Śrutidhara' by Devī's blessings? This is why Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda, in his comments on the Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam śloka, gave the meaning of 'vidyā vadhū jīvanam' as para-tattva vidyā - because knowledge is of two kinds, parā and aparā: one is parā vidyā (transcendental knowledge) and the other is aparā vidyā (knowledge about material subject matters). Here it is referred to as parā vidyā. Specialists in Sanskrit grammar explain this as 'āśliṣya doṣa. So, in his translation, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura uses, 'Viśuddha Sarasvatī’. [Viśuddha-vidyā-vadhū jīvana rūpa... in his kīrtana].
Śrī Caitanya-deva advised the paṇḍita, “Now you may go and contemplate it tonight and meet Me tomorrow for further discussions”. But the paṇḍita could not sleep the whole night, thinking, ‘I’ve been all over India and defeated everyone in debate and now, before this young lad, I had to face defeat’. That paṇḍita had become a digvijayī by the blessings of Sarasvatī, so he again worshipped Sarasvatī nicely.
He prayed to his goddess, Vidyā Sarasvatī, and she replied, “You are very fortunate. He is my husband. I cannot open my mouth before Him. You are very blessed to have had His darśana”. Finally, the paṇḍita received love of God.
ONLY BY SATSAṄGA
Some western devotees once came with a list of questions during Rathayātrā. One of the questions that arose then was when Rohiṇī-mātā became pregnant with Baladeva, My answer was, ‘When Narasiṁha-deva appeared from the pillar, do we ask ourselves when the pillar got pregnant? What are the names of Narasiṁha-deva’s parents? Is it possible?’ Another question was: Milk is produced from blood, so what is the remedy? Is drinking milk the same as drinking blood? I replied, if a child drinks his mother’s milk, does he kill the mother to drink her blood? Does the question of sin arise in drinking milk? No, because there is the mother’s love in it; she feels happiness and bliss in feeding her child. The justification is that the act is done for the happiness of the other. The point I want to make here is such questions arise due to lack of satsaṅga. By satsaṅga such doubts will be destroyed and no such drawbacks and shortcomings will remain.