Friday, October 24, 2014

Rasikānanda's 'Bhāgavatāṣṭakam' verse 1



Ancient manuscript of 'Bhāgavatāṣṭakam' preserved in Gopivallabhpur





Today we celebrate the appearance of Śrīla Rasikānanda Murāri, one of the greatest preachers the world has ever seen and one of the most amazing personalities in the Gauḍīya samprādaya. Together with his guru, Śrī Śyāmānanda Prabhu, Rasika opened around 3, 500 temples during his constant preaching tours in Odisha, West Bengal and North India. He not only initiated thousands of common people, but also converted Muslims, robbers, murderers, piśācīs (witches), and even wild animals like the elephant Gopāla dāsa. Besides Śyāmānanda-śatakam, which became well known by the commentary Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaa wrote on it, the only Sanskrit work of Śrī Rasikānanda known to us is the Bhāgavatāṣṭakam’, in which he sings the glories of the Lord’s devotees. Śrī Bhajanānandadeva Gosvāmī belonged to the fourth generation of Rasikānandas descendants and was one of the mahantas in Gopivallabhpur in the 18th century during Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaa’s life time. His only known composition is a scholarly commentary of the ‘Bhāgavatāṣṭakam’, which is here presented in English.
 
 
TEXT 1
 
śrī-govinda-padāravinda-madhu-pānasyābhilāṣojjhitān
 

pūrṇa-prema-rasotsavojjvala-mano-vṛtti-prasannānanān |
 

śaśvat kṛṣṇa-kathā-mahāmṛta-payo-rāśau mudā khelato
 

vande bhāgavatān imān anulavaṁ mūrdhnā nipatya kṣitau  ||
 


Forsaking all desires other than drinking the honey from the lotus feet of Śrī Govinda, in great bliss they constantly amuse themselves in the vast ocean of the nectarean topics of Kṛṣṇa with satisfaction in their faces due to the blazing thoughts produced by the happiness of relishing full love for Him. Bowing my head on the ground, I respectfully glorify these great devotees of the Lord at every moment.


 Bhajanānanda-deva-gosvāmi-kṛta-ṭīkā
 
numaḥ kṛṣṇa-bhaktān mudā tatra raktān
sad-ānanda-yuktān ato nitya-muktān |
prabhoḥ pāda-bhaktiṁ gṛhāder viraktiṁ
labhante hy aśeṣāt prasādena yeṣām ||

atha so’yaṁ śrīmad-dhari-guru-bhāgavataika-niṣṭhaḥ śrīmad-rasikānanda-deva-gosvāmī śatakenaiva śrīmad-guru-devaṁ varṇayitvādhunā satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ | taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati (śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 3.25.25) iti tṛtīye śrī-kapila-devokty-anusāreṇa śrī-bhāgavata-prasaṅge māhātmya-viśeṣam avalokayaṁs tal-labdhaye śrī-bhāgavatān abhivādayati – śrī-govindety ādinā | imān pratyakṣatayā sthitān bhāgavatān śrī-bhagavad-bhaktān | anulavaṁ pratikṣaṇaṁ vīpsāyām avyayī-bhāvaḥ | kṣitau pṛthivyāṁ nityaṁ nipatya patitvā daṇḍavad iti śeṣaḥ | mūrdhnā śirasā vande abhivādayāmy aham iti śeṣaḥ | mūrdhnety upalakṣaṇaṁ pādādy-aṣṭāṅgair ity arthaḥ | padbhyāṁ dorbhyāṁ ca jānūbhyām urasā śirasā dṛśā | manasā vacasā ceti praṇāmo’ṣṭāṅga īrita  iti tal-lakṣaṇāt | yad vā śiras tu tasyobhaya-liṅgam ānamet (śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 10.80.4) iti daśame śrī-śaunakokta-rītyā śirasā tad-vandanenaiva mama śirasaḥ praśasta-śirasatvaṁ syād iti bhāvaḥ | kīdṛśān ity āpekṣāyāṁ viśeṣaṇāny āha – śriyā śobhayā veṣa-racanayā vā upalakṣito yo govindaḥ śrī-vrajendrātmajas tasya pade aranvinde iveti luptopamā darśitā | upamitaṁ vyāghrādibhiḥ sāmānyāprayoge (aṣṭādhyāyī, 2.1.56) iti pāṇini-smṛteḥ  | tatra madhupa iva madhupās tān | śrīr veṣa-racanā śobhety-ādy-anekārtha-dhvani-mañjarī | śrī-govindasya vrajendrātmajatve kiṁ pramāṇam | nanda-patnyāṁ yaśodāyāṁ mithunaṁ samajāyata | govindākhyaḥ pumān kanyā sāmbikā mathurāṁ gatā || vasudeva-samānīto vāsudevo’khilātmani | lilye nanda-sute rājan ghane saudāminī yatheti śrī-yāmala-vacanam | nanda-gopa-gṛhe jātā yaśodā-garbha-sambhavā (mārkaṇḍeya-purāṇam, 91.39) ity-ādi-purāṇa-vacanam | nanda-patnī yaśodā ca jātaṁ param abudhyata (śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 10.3.53) iti daśame śrī-śuka-vacanam | paraṁ parameśvaram iti tad-arthaḥ | paraṁ dhīmahīty atra śrī-svāmi-vyākhyānāt | nandas tv ātmaja utpanne jātāhlādo mahā-manāḥ (śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 10.5.1) iti, adṛśyatānujā viṣṇoḥ (śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 10.4.9) ity ādikam api śrī-śuka-vacanam ity ādy api bahutaraṁ jñeyam | etenāsya gauṇa-putratvaṁ nirastam | punaḥ kīdṛśān | anye sad-dharma-vyatiriktā ye’bhilāṣās tair ujjhitās tyaktāḥ, tatraivojjhitā yair iti vā | uktaṁ ca śrī-bhāgavatārambhe śrī-bhagavad-vyāsa-pādaiḥ –  dharma-projjhita-kaitavo’tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satām (śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 1.1.2) ity ādi | pūrṇo yaḥ premā sa eva rasa āsvāda-janakatvāt | rasa āsvādane dhātuḥ | tena ya utsava ānandas tenojjvalā dedīpyamānā yā mano-vṛttis tayā prasannāni parituṣṭāny utphullānīti yāvat tathā bhṛtāni mukhāni yeṣāṁ tān | harṣaḥ pramodaḥ pramado mut toṣānanda utsava iti dhanañjayaḥ | ujjvalo dīpta-śṛṅgāra-viśadeṣu vikāśinīti, prasannā strī surāyāṁ syād accha-santuṣṭayos triṣv iti medinī | śaśvan nirantaraṁ yā kṛṣṇa-kathā saiva mahāmṛta-payo-rāśiḥ śreṣṭha-sudhā-sindhus tasmin | mudānandena khelanti viharantīti khelantas tān | khel-dhātoḥ śatari rūpam | muhuḥ punaḥ punaḥ śaśvad ity amaraḥ | vande ity-ādi-caturtha-pādaḥ saptasv evānuvartyaḥ | aṣṭaka-rītir iyam iti mahā-kavi-prayoga-siddheḥ | aṣṭake’smin śārdūlavikrīḍitaṁ chandaḥ, sūryaiśvair masajastatāḥ sa-guravaḥ śārdūlavikrīḍitam iti tal-lakṣaṇāt || 1 ||







Commentary by Bhajanānandadeva Gosvāmī


 numaḥ kṛṣṇa-bhaktān mudā tatra raktān
sad-ānanda-yuktān ato nitya-muktān
prabhoḥ pāda-bhaktiṁ gṛhāder viraktiṁ
labhante hy aśeṣāt prasādena yeṣām 



We gladly glorify Lord Kṛṣṇa’s devotees, who are very attached to Him and therefore always liberated and full of eternal bliss. By their mercy the entangled souls attain devotion to the Lord’s feet and complete detachment from all worldly things such as home, family, etc.
After describing the glories of his gurudeva in the book Śyāmānanda-śatakam, the very same Śrī Rasikānandadeva Gosvāmī, who has exclusive devotion for Lord Hari, guru and the Vaiṣṇavas, now glorifies the great devotees of the Lord in order to obtain their association. He does so reflecting upon the special glories of the association of great Vaiṣṇavas according to the words of Śrī Kapiladeva:
satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati
 
“In the association of pure devotees, discussion of My pastimes is very pleasing to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge of My heroic activities, one quickly attains faith, attachment and devotion for Me, the personified path to liberation.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 3.25.25)

By saying ‘these’ (imān) great devotees (bhāgavatān), the author means that he directly sees such devotees present before him. The word anulavam here is an indeclinable in the sense of repetition, moment after moment. “Having bowed (nipatya) my head (mūrdhnā) on the ground (kṣitau) like a rod, I always glorify these devotees” – this is the rest of the sentence. By the word ‘head’ it is implied eight limbs, as described:
 
dorbhyāṁ padbhyāṁ ca jānubhyāṁ urasā śirasā dṛśā
manasā vacasā ceti praṇāmo’ṣṭāṅga īritaḥ
 
     “One should bow down with arms, feet, knees, chest, head, eyes, mind and words. This is called bowing down with eight limbs of the body.” (1)


Or else, the author means that “by offering obeisances to the devotees, my head can be praised as a real head,” as in the manner spoken by the sage Śaunaka: śiras tu tasyobhaya-liṅgam ānamet, “A real head is one that bows down to the Supreme Lord in all His moving and non-moving manifestations.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 10.80.4)

If someone asks what these devotees are like, the author gives the following adjectives. Govinda, the son of Nanda Mahārāja, is characterized by His beauty (śrī) or dressing style. His feet are like lotus flowers – this demonstrates comparison here, which was omitted in accordance with Pāṇini’s sūtra 2.1.56: “A word denoting a subject of comparison is compounded with subsequent words like vyāghra (tiger), etc., these being the standard of comparison, but words expressing common characteristics should not be employed here.” Devotees drink the honey from His lotus feet just like bees (madhupa). According to the lexicon Anekārtha-dhvani-mañjarī, the word śrī is a synonym of the words veṣa-racanā (dressing style), śobhā (beauty), etc.

What is the evidence that Śrī-Govinda is the son of Nanda Mahārāja, the king of Vraja? The Śrī-Yāmala-tantra states:

nanda-patnyāṁ yaśodāyāṁ mithunaṁ samajāyata
govindākhyaḥ pumān kanyā sāmbikā mathurāṁ gatā
vasudeva-samānīto vāsudevo’khilātmani
lilye nanda-sute rājan ghane saudāminī yathā

“A couple was born from Yaśodā, the wife of Nanda Mahārāja. The boy is called Govinda, and the girl, Ambikā. O King, she was taken to Mathurā and Lord Vāsudeva (2) was brought to Gokula by Vasudeva, and merged with the son of Nanda Mahārāja, the soul of all, just like lightning in a cloud.”

This is confirmed in the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, 91.39:



nanda-gopa-gṛhe jātā yaśodā-garbha-sambhavā
 
Devī said: “I will appear in the womb of Yaśodā and be born in the house of Nanda, the king of the cowherds.”
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 10.3.53, it is said:
 
nanda-patnī yaśodā ca jātaṁ param abudhyata
 
“Yaśodā, the wife of Nanda Mahārāja, could not understand that the Supreme Lord had been born to her.”
Here the word param means the Supreme Lord, for this is how Śrīdhara Svāmī explains it in his commentary to the first verse of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There are several other verses which should be understood in this connection:
 
nandas tv ātmaja utpanne jātāhlādo mahā-manāḥ
 
“When Kṛṣṇa was born as his son, the magnanimous Nanda became very jubilant.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 10.5.1)
 
adṛśyatānujā viṣṇoḥ sāyudhāṣṭa-mahā-bhujā
 
“Kaṁsa then saw Devī, the younger sister of Lord Viṣṇu, with eight arms equipped with weapons.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 10.4.9)
These statements refute the idea that Lord Kṛṣṇa is only figuratively the son of Nanda Mahārāja.
Again, what are these devotees like? They have given up (ujjhitāḥ) all desires (abhilāṣa) besides the eternal religious principles, or in other words, all their desires are dedicated at the Lord’s lotus feet. As it is said by Śrīla Vyāsadeva in the beginning of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:
 
dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo’tra paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ
 
“Completely rejecting all religious activities which are materially motivated, this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those saintly persons who are free from envy.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 1.1.2)

When love is fully developed (pūrṇah), it becomes rasa itself because it produces taste. Rasa is the primary substance of taste. This taste creates happiness (utsava), which produces blazing (ujjvala) thoughts (mano-vṛtti). Such thoughts make the devotees’ faces (ānana) appear full of satisfaction (prasanna) as if bloosomed. According to Dhanañjaya’s lexicon, the words harṣa, pramoda, pramada, mut, toṣa, ānanda and utsava are all synonyms of happiness. According to the Medinī dictionary, the word ujjvala is used for intense love, bright objects and light. Therein it is also said that the feminine word prasannā means liquor, clearness and satisfaction. The topics (kathā) of Lord Kṛṣṇa are an excellent ocean (payo-rāśau) of nectar (āmṛta) in which devotees constantly (śaśvat) amuse (khelataḥ) themselves in great bliss (mudā). Here the verbal root khel (to sport/amuse oneself) is employed in a present participle. According to the Amara-kośa, the word śaśvat means constantly, again and again. The fourth line starting with the word vande is repeated in the next seven verses. This style of aṣṭaka (poem in eight verses) is demonstrated by the great poets, as we see its employment in their works. All these eight verses were written in the Śārdūlavikrīḍita metre (19 syllables), which has one magaṇa, one sagaṇa, one jagaṇa, one sagaṇa and two tagaṇas. (3) It ends with a heavy syllable and has pauses after the twelfth syllable and the seventh syllable after that.


Footnotes:
(1) This verse is quoted in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, 8.361.
(2) Four handed Nārāyaṇa had appeared as the son of Devakī at that moment.
(3) In Sanskrit prosody, these are different classes of combined light and heavy syllables.

          

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