Sri Bhakti Ratnakar

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Sri Krsna Caitanya Sankirtana
Hand-colored Lithograph, Calcutta, c. 1876

 

 A serial presentation of Sri Bhakti Ratnakara by Srila Narahari Cakravarti Thakur.

 

Today the Sampradaya Sun is pleased to reprise a serial presentation of Sri Bhakti Ratnakara, the nectarian manuscript by Srila Narahari Cakravarti Thakur which chronicles the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His parishad associates.

 

It is easy to become confused about the personality, Srila Narahari Cakravarti dasa, who is very often mistaken for Srila Narahari Sarkar Thakur. Not only are their names similar, they were contemporaries and both wrote extensively on Lord Caitanya’s lila.

 

Srila Narahari Cakravarti is also known as Ghanashyama das. He was born in the district of Murshidabad and his father’s name was Jagannath Chakravarti. He was a disciple of Vishvanath Chakravarti. On Govindaji’s order, he was engaged as the cook for the Govinda temple and was affectionately known as the “cooking pujari” (rasuiya pujari) in Braj.

 

In the section on Vaisnava saints at Stephen-Knapp.com, we find the following biographical information on the author of Sri Bhakti Ratnakar:

 

“Sri Narahari Cakravarti Thakura appeared in the late 1600’s in West Bengal in a brahmana family. Jagannatha Vipra, his father, was a famous disciple of Sripad Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. Narahari (Ghanasyama Dasa) was a disciple of Nrsimha Cak¬ravarti in the line of Srinvasa Acarya.

 

From youth Narahari observed a vow of celibacy. All his ac¬tivities were pure and saintly. He was always meek and humble, thinking himself a mischievous rascal. He used to say, “I am unfit for serving the Lord. I have no qualifications at all.” Yet he was extremely learned in the arts of dancing, singing, playing musical instruments. He knew the intricate science of using the musical arts to praise the Lord and His associates.

 

He was well-versed in the bhakti-sastras and in performing various kinds of devotional service. Being personally chosen by the Lord, Narahari became Radha-Govindaji’s favorite cook in Vrndavana. He was known as rasuya pujari (the expert cook-priest) for mastering the art of making palatable dishes for the Lord. Wherever he traveled he established real religious principles. The Vaisnavas always received him with great respect.

 

Fulfilling the desire of his father and the Supreme Lord, Narahari spent most of his life in the humble service of Govindaji. He ground sandalwood pulp, collected fire wood, cleaned the temple courtyard, picked tulasi leaves and manjaris, fanned Lord Govindaji from outside by pulling a rope.

 

Out of genuine humility he always kept himself at a distance. He did the service of ten men. The temple pujaris would plead with him not to do such lowly service. Insisting, Narahari said, “I am most fallen. I have no right. It is really merciful of you all to let me render whatever service I can.” Narahari passed his days deep¬ly absorbed in devotional service. He would always show respect to everyone he met. Seeing Narahari’s behavior, the Vrajavasis always spoke about his good qualities.

 

Narahari Cakravarti Thakura was always satisfied to remain in the humble service of Govindaji. He cooked for the Lord well into his seventies. He simultaneously wrote many books about the Gosvamis and the lives of the Gaudiya Acaryas such as Narottama-vilasa, Namamrta-samudra, Srinivasa-carita, Sanghita-sara-sangraha, Bhakti-ratnakar, Gaura-caritra-samudra.”

 

And in the book, Lives of the Vaisnava Saints by Satyaraja dasa (Steven J. Rosen), we read the following:

 

“About four miles west of Katwa, within the Barddhaman district is Shri Khanda, the birthplace of Narahari Sarakara Thakura. Shri Mukunda Dasa, shri Madhava Dasa and Shri Narahari Dasa were brothers. Shri Mukunda’s son was Shri Raghunandana Thakura.

 

Shri Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami mentions the devotees of Shri Khanda as a major branch of the Chaitanya tree of Krishna-prema (CC Adi 10:78-79): “The residents of Shri Khanda include Mukunda Dasa, Shri Raghunandana, Narahari Dasa, Chiranjiva, and Sulochana. All of them together form a major branch of the Shri Chaitanya tree. As such they were an abode of the Lord’s mercy. This branch produced the fruits and flowers of bhakti in profusion.”

 

Shri Narahari Thakura was connected with many of Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. Narahari Chakravarti Thakura writes in Bhakti Ratnakara: “Shri Narahari Thakura’s glories are wonderful. In Vrindavana he was Madhumati, and his excellences are boundless.” Shri Lochan Dasa Thakura was a dear disciple of Narahari Sarakara Thakura. In his Chaitanya Mangala he describes his gurudeva as follows: “Shri Narahari Dasa is my Lord. He has taught me transcendental knowledge, and I am under his influence in many other ways. His abundant Krishna-prema saturates his very being; its symptoms are clearly evident in his body. No one can understand the extent of his devotion and Krishna-prema. In his former existence in Vrindavana he was known as Madhumati, a dear gopi friend of Shri Radha who was a storehouse of sweetness. That very sakhi friend of Shri Radha appeared in the pastimes of Shri Gauranga during the age of Kali as Narahari. He was a stores house of Radha-Krishna prema.”

 

Shri Bhaktivinoda Thakura has mentioned Narahari Sarakara in his Gaura-Aroti song: “narahari adi kori chamara dulaya, sanjaya mukunda vasughosh adi gaya.” Shri Narahari Sarakara Thakura was as great a singer as he was a poet. He wrote many poems and songs in connection with the pastimes of Shri Gauranga and Shri Nityananda. He has written a Sanskrit book of songs called Shri Bhajanamrita. A book of songs called Padakalpataru, describing intense separation from Shri Gauranga has been attributed to Narahari Sarakara Thakura, as have some other books.

 

Almost all of the songs of Shri Narahari Sarakara Thakura have been included in Bhakti Ratnakara by Narahari Chakravarti Thakura. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to tell just which parts of Bhakti Ratnakara are the songs of Narahari Sarakara being quoted by Narahari Chakravarti, and which parts have been written by Narahari Chakravarti Thakura. By the same token it is hard to say exactly which songs of Gaura-lila included in Bhakti Ratnakara are written by Narahari Sarakara Thakura. What complicates this is that both authors bear the same name and often end a song simply by saying “This song was sung by Narahari.” This has led to a degree of confusion about the specific authorship of certain parts of the work, although both Naraharis are great devotees and Bhakti Ratnakara is revered as an authorized Vaishnava scripture describing the lives of the great Vaishnava saints.

 

Shrila Lochan Dasa Thakura has written “Before the birth of Shri Gauranga many different ragas were written by Narahari which sang of Vraja-rasa.” Before he wrote songs of Gauranga, Narahari Sarakara Thakura composed many songs glorifying Krishna. Shrila Narahari Thakura passed away on the Krishna ekadashi (the eleventh day of the dark moon) in the month of Agrahayana.”

 

It is not known who did the English translation of the manuscript we have for Sri Bhakti Ratnakara. We can only say that it appears to be the predominant, if not the only English translation in circulation. This transcendental biographical manuscript is quite extensive, being approximately 350 pages in Word document format. It is comprised of fifteen chapters, which will be presented in parts over the course of this series.

Sri Bhakti Ratnakara

By Srila Narahari Cakravarti Thakur

Chapter 1

Glorification of the Vaisnava Prabhus

 

O my Lord Gaurahari, You are the abode of auspiciousness which is as beautiful as the kirtana of Krsna. You are the ocean of elegance, bestower of constant flow of devotion and mountain of love which is as bright as gold. Your beautiful features give soothing relief to the eyes of every living being and you are mankind’s salvation from all kinds of misfortune. You are the center of the Lila Vilasa, and the life of the devotees. Be kind to me.1

 

O my Prabhu, Sri Gopala Bhatta, the bee at the lotus like feet of Sri Gaura. You are the sun which destroys the darkness of illusion, the ocean of kindness and the greatest of all the brahmanas. You are the son of Sri Venkata Bhatta and a valuable ornament of divine love and devotion. You are the destroyer of worldly miseries and a resort of happiness to the misery stricken people. O Lord save me.2

 

O my Prabhu, Srila Gopala Bhatta, a bee at the lotus like feet of Mahaprabhu. You are the most skillful devotee of the Lord. O my Prabhu Srinivasa, whose complexion is as golden as Sri Sacinandana, you are the king amongst all the brahmanas. Please bless me.3

 

I constantly worship the companions of Srinivasa Prabhu who is like the wishing tree of devotional love of Sri Krsna Caitanya Candra. 4

 

My dear listeners, please repeatedly and joyfully hear the Bhaktiratnakara which is the life of all Vaisnavas and the destroyer of all miseries and misfortunes.5

Glorification of Sri Gaura Sundara and his companions

 

All glories to Sri Krsna Caitanya, the God of Gods who was a lover of devotion and whose beautiful features fascinated the whole world.6

 

He was the husband of Laksmi and son of mother Saci and Jagannatha. He was the life and soul of Nityananda, Advaita and Gadadhara. 7

 

O my Lord, even the Vedas have glorified you and there is no one who is not attracted by Your lila.8

 

You are the guru, the power of devotion and an incarnation of Lord Visnu. You have manifested your Vilasa through these features. 9

 

The experts in Vaisnava religion always try to glorify your vilasa which in their opinion is the source of well being and good fortune.10

 

I worship these Vaisnava gurus without considering their education and culture; Srivasa and his devotional companions, Advaita Prabhu and his devotional followers, Prabhu Sri Nityananda and his associates, Sri Gadadhara and his followers and Sri Krsna Caitanya the Lord Himself.11

 

Krsna used to show his vilasa through six channels: Guru, Krsna, devotee (bhakta) power (sakti) incarnation (avatara) and revealment (Prakash).12

 

Except by His favor no one had the ability to understand the mysterious ways of the Lord’s divine lila.13

 

You are the Lord Himself, the only resort of all living beings. I dare not speak a word against Your will. 14

 

All glories to Sri Guru Krsna Caitanya, the mine of valuable gems like kindness and the giver of devotional love.15

 

All glories to Nityananda Rama who was the Ocean of kindness and mercy, the rescuer of the universe and friend of the poor and unfortunate.16

 

You are the original embodiment of Mahaprabhu Krsna Caitanya and the only person who can fulfil the desires of mankind.17

 

All glories to Sri Advaita Deva the kind hearted savior of all mankind.18

 

You are a part (amsa avatar) of Krsna Caitanya. I have not the audacity to attempt to describe your glory.19

 

All glories to Sri Gadadhara Pandita Gosvami who was the greatest inheritor of the Power of Mahaprabhu and whose devotional qualities overflowed their boundaries.20

 

All glories to Srivasa Pandita who was the greatest of all the devotees and whose devotional character was unobtainable even by the Gods.21

 

All glories to Sri Svarupa, Vakreswara, Sri Murari and Haridasa.

 

All glories to Narahari, Gauradasa, Suklambara, Sri Mukunda, Vasu, Madhava and Sankara.23

 

All glories to Vidyanidhi Pundarika and Vasudeva Sarvabhauma Battacarya.24

 

All glories to Gadadhara Dasa Pandita, Jagadisa and Kashishwara.25

 

All glories to Sri Paramananda Bhattacarya and Krsnadasa Brahmacari. 26

 

All glories to the son of the Acarya, Dvija Haridasa and lotus eyed Rai Ramananda.27

 

All glories to Lokanatha, Sri Bhugarbha, Sanatana and Rupa.28

 

All glories to Kashi Misra, Gopinatha, Sastidhara, Abhirama, Vamsi and Saranga. 29

 

All glories to Sri Prabodhananda Saraswati, Sri Gopala Bhatta and the other sons of Sri Venkata.30

 

All glories to Raghunatha Bhatta, Raghunatha Dasa and Sri Raghava, the inhabitants of Govardhana.31

 

All glories to Sri Hrdayananda, son of Acarya, Ciranjiva Sena and Sri Raghunandana.32

 

All glories to Kanu, Dhananjaya, Vijaya, Ramai, Sri Subuddhi Misra and Sri Jiva Gosvami.33

 

All glories to Bhagavata Acarya, Madhava, Sridhara and Dasa Vrndavana.34

 

All glories to Krsna dasa Kaviraja Mahasaya and Srinivasa Acarya.

 

All glories to Sri Thakura Mahasaya, Narottama and Hari

 

Syamananda. 36

 

All glories to the innumerable devotees of Sri Caitanya candra.37

 

Sri Krsna Caitanya was the life of all his devotees who were very fortunate, having received his favor. 38

 

Unlimited descriptions rush to mind in describing the characters of the devotees of Mahaprabhu Caitanya who was always inclined to fulfil the desires of those devotees.39

 

Gauracandra behaved lovingly with His devotees on whose supplication He had agreed to incarnate in this world.40

 

The lila that Gaurahari enacted in the Kaliyuga was beyond the comprehension of Brahma, Siva and other demigods.41

 

That beautiful lila of Sri Caitanya was divided into three segments beginning, middle and final.42

 

The first portion dealt with Sri Caitanya as a scholar , middle portion dealt with the revealment of the glory of kirtana.43

 

The last portion dealt with Gauracandra’s life in Nilacala as a sannyasi after he commanded Nityananda to take responsibility for Gaudadesh.44

 

The Kali Yuga was grateful for the presence of Sri Krsna Caitanya as a glorious sannyasi along with His associates Nityananda and Advaita.45

 

Prabhu Advaita and Nityananda, the incarnation of Haladhara Balarama, were the inseparable bodies of Sri Caitanya.46

 

Who could realize the devotional sincerity of Nityananda and Advaita, who always used to swim in the ocean of love of Sri Caitanya?47

 

Who does not wish to hear the nectarine conversations of Nityananda and Advaita?48

 

Long live these two great devotees of Sri Caitanya! I wish I had the power to sing their glories in countries near and far.49

 

In Navadvipa, Mahaprabhu Gauracandra, Nityananda and Advaita performed many delightful pastimes.50

 

The devotees of Mahaprabhu relished these nectarine pastimes continuously.51

 

The Universe was purified by these transcendental lilas of Gauranga, but the enemies of the Vaisnavas were ever deprived of the pleasure of those pastimes.52

 

Those who received the favorable touch of the Lord’s devotees sank deep in the ocean of devotional love.53

 

Mahaprabhu had done two types of sport namely appearance (prakat) and disappearance (aprakat). Sometimes Mahaprabhu appeared and sometime disappeared before his devotees.54

 

But while in appearance or in disappearance, Mahaprabhu behaved the same with his devotees. 55

 

All the Vaisnava scriptures have described the Nadia Vihara of Sacinandana.56

 

In Caitanya Bhagavata it is stated: Gaurarai is enacting His lila even today in Nadia, but only a fortunate person gets the opportunity to observe it.57

 

Mahaprabhu’s devotion to Nadia Dharma is a known fact. Whoever denies it is simply a sinner.58

 

Daily we worship that Caitanya, Advaita and Nityananda who revealed themselves wearing the Brahmasutra and existed with their external companions in the abode of religion.59

 

Sri Vrndavana Candra Gaura took the pleasure in strolling through Nadia followed by devotees of many different religious sects.60

 

Navadvipa and Vrndavana were non different. In one place Mahaprabhu exhibited his pastimes and in the other place Syama.

 

Navadvipa and Vrndavana seemed to be two different places only to those who had no knowledge of the real identity of Mahaprabhu as the incarnation of Shyama.62

 

Only those who regarded both Gaura and Krsna as their life and soul, could understand that Navadvipa was identical with Vrndavana.63

 

By getting the favor of Mahaprabhu one could realize that the vilasa of Navadvipa was non different from the vilasa of Vrndavana.64

 

Long live the devotees of Mahaprabhu. Now please listen to my narration. 65

Sri Bhakti Ratnakara

 

BY: SUN STAFF

Aug 03, 2016 — CANADA (SUN) —

 

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