Saturday, December 15, 2018

Is sense control relevant in the path of bhakti?

Some so-called Vaiṣṇavas advocate that one can indulge in unrestricted sense enjoyment or even in sinful activities and at the same time advance in devotional service, as if there were no relation between both things. Pathetically, they even try to justify their claims by giving the pastimes of the Supreme Lord as examples of how sense indulgence is all right. Centuries ago, some followers of Mīmāṁsā propounded quite similar ideas to corroborate their view that sense enjoyment is the highest goal, since even Lord Hari is attached to women and so on. In this regard, in the Siddhānta-ratna (our upcoming publication), Gauḍīya-vedāntācārya Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa states the following:

ucyate — pāmaraṁ bravīṣi viṣaya-rasiko viśuddhānandānabhijñaḥ | asti hi vaiṣayikātirikta-sukha-sampat | sukham aham asvāpsaṁ na kiñcid avediṣam iti śruteḥ | iha hi suṣupti-sukhaṁ nirviṣayaṁ pratīyate sārva-laukikaṁ caitat | evaṁ ca jīvasyāṇu-bhūtasyājanya-sukha-rūpatve siddhe vibhor bhagavatas tu tādṛśa-vipula-sukha-rūpatvaṁ sidhyati | yo vai bhūmā tat-sukham iti, ānando brahmeti vyajānād iti ca śrutis tathāha | kiṁ ca vaiṣayikaṁ nāma sukham indriyair viṣaya-grahe’bhiniṣpadyate tad-agrahe vinaśyatīti sarvānubhūtam | bhagavad-rūpaṁ sukhaṁ tu viṣaya-tyāge’bhivyajyate tat-parigrahe tirobhavatīti | nāvirato duścaritān nāśānto nāsamāhitaḥ | nāśānta-mānaso vāpi prajñānenainam āpnuyād ity-ādi-śruteḥ | viṣayāviṣṭa-cittānāṁ viṣṇv-āveśaḥ sudūrataḥ | vāruṇī-dig-gataṁ vastu vrajann aindrīṁ kim āpnuyād ity-ādi-smṛteś ca || 1.56 ||
          If someone says so, we reply that being ignorant of pure transcendental bliss and addicted to sense enjoyment, you are speaking foolishly. There is certainly higher happiness beyond sense enjoyment. As it is heard from the scriptures: sukham aham asvāpsaṁ na kiñcid avediṣam, [1] “I slept happily and was not aware of anything.” Here it is acknowledged that during deep sleep there is indeed happiness without any sense object, and this is commonly known to everyone. Being proved in this way that the atomic living entity has causeless happiness, it is proved that the all-pervasive Supreme Lord has abundant causeless happiness. This is stated by the śruti: yo vai bhūmā tat sukham (Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 7.23.1), “Bhūmā, the Supreme Lord, is happiness itself;” ānando brahmeti vyajānāt (Taittirīya Upaniṣad, 3.6.1), “Bhṛgu realized that the Supreme Lord is bliss.” Moreover, everyone has experience that sensual pleasure appears when the senses perceive the sense objects and disappears when there is no perception. However, the happiness in the form of the Supreme Lord becomes manifest when sense enjoyment is given up and disappears when sense enjoyment is taken up. As corroborated by the Kaṭha Upaniṣad (1.2.24): nāvirato duścaritān nāśānto nāsamāhitaḥ, nāśānta-mānaso vāpi prajñānenainam āpnuyāt, “One who does not refrain from forbidden activities, whose external senses are not controlled, who is not concentrated, or whose internal senses are not controlled, cannot attain the Supreme Soul by knowledge.” The smṛti also confirms: viṣayāviṣṭa-cittānāṁ viṣṇv-āveśaḥ sudūrataḥ, vāruṇī-dig-gataṁ vastu vrajann aindrīṁ kim āpnuyāt,[2] “Absorption in Lord Viṣṇu is far away for those whose minds are absorbed in sense enjoyment. Can someone going towards the eastern side find something that was lost in the western side?”

[1] This sentence is often seen in works on Vedānta, but its original source is unknown.
[2] Quoted by Jīva Gosvāmī in the Bhakti-sandarbha (147) and attributed to the Viṣṇu Purāṇa.

Monday, September 17, 2018

An Account on Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī

The book was published by the Bhakti Vikas Trust and can be ordered HERE

An Account on Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī —His Identity and Background

Introduction to the Viveka-śatakam

According to several accounts, Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī was a dear associate of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and was also one of the pioneers in praising His glories in Sanskrit poetry in his book named Caitanya-candrāmṛta. At the same time, his figure is one of the most controversials among the Gauḍīyas. The utter silence of Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja and Śrīla Vṛndāvanadāsa Ṭhākura about Prabodhānanda led to different conjectures, and the conflicting narrations of later Gauḍīya hagiographers overshadowed him in a cloud of mystery and confusion.  We find no date of his birth, demise, travels or any incident of his life, about which there is hardly anything known, apart from whatever is mentioned in his own writings and the terse verses of a few other authors. Furthermore, none of the works attributed to Prabodhānanda seem to have ever been quoted by his contemporaries or other Gauḍīyas until the 18th century. Most of his writings were unknown until they started to be published in late 19th century. In particular, two controversies have been prevalent for over a century – his alleged past as a māyāvādī sannyāsī in Vārāṇasī under the name ‘Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī,’ and his supposed relation with Śrī Hita Harivaṁśa, founder of the Rādhā-vallabha sampradāya. In order to establish a plausible conclusion, it is commendable to first go through an overview of the available data and assess its integrity. What follows comprises most of the statements about Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī made by notable authors between the 16th and the 18th centuries.

From his own statement, we know that Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī was a disciple of Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, the only one we hear of, although it is not clear whether he was his śikṣā-guru, dīkṣā-guru or both. From other sources we also hear that they had a blood connection as uncle and nephew. Yet in the works attributed to Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, Prabodhānanda’s name is mentioned only once. At the beginning of the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (1.2) it is written:

bhakter vilāsāṁś cinute prabodhānandasya śiṣyo bhagavat-priyasya
gopāla-bhaṭṭo raghunātha-dāsaṁ santoṣayan rūpa-sanātanau ca

“Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, disciple of Śrīla Prabodhānanda, a dear associate of Lord Caitanya, is compiling this Hari-bhakti-vilāsa to please Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī and Śrīla Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī.”

In the commentary attributed to Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī it is stated:
bhagavat-priyasyeti bahuvrīhiṇā tatpuruṣeṇa vā samāsena tasya māhātmya-jātaṁ pratipāditam | evaṁ tac-chiṣyasya śrī-gopāla-bhaṭṭasyāpi tādṛktvaṁ boddhavyam |

“By the words bhagavat-priyasya, which can be interpreted either as a bahuvrīhi compound (to whom Lord Caitanya is very dear) or as a tatpuruṣa compound (who is very dear to Lord Caitanya), Śrī Prabodhānanda’s glories are expressed. In the same way, the glories of his disciple, Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, are understood to be similar to his.”

In the Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā, Kavi Karṇapūra enumerated the main associates of Lord Caitanya and their respective identities in Kṛṣṇa-līlā. In verse 163 he says:

tuṅgavidyā vraje yāsīt sarva-śāstra-viśāradā
sā prabodhānanda-yatir gaurodgāna-sarasvatī

“She who was previously known in the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa in Vraja as Tuṅgavidyā, who is fully conversant with all scriptures, has now become Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī and is engaged in singing the glories of Lord Gaurāṅga.”

As Prabodhānanda is identified as one of the main eight gopīs of Vraja, it is understood that such an intimate associate must have played an essential role in Caitanya-līlā. From the statements of Sanātana Gosvāmī and Karṇapūra it is implied that Prabodhānanda had the association of Lord Caitanya at some point of life. Since we find no descriptions of their meeting in Navadvīpa or Purī, the most obvious conclusion is that they spent four months together in Śrīraṅgam during the Lord’s South Indian tour, as pointed out by the texts quoted below. There are no other instances of the Lord spending so much time in a family’s house, which means the Bhaṭṭa family was very special and dear to Him. By the name ‘Tuṅgavidyā’ (she who has exalted knowledge) we can also understand that Prabodhānanda was conversant with spiritual knowledge, which he imparted to his disciple Gopāla, who subsequently became the main initiator spiritual master in Vṛndāvana. From these two perspectives, Prabodhānanda holds indeed a very distinguished position in the pastimes of Lord Caitanya.

At the end of his commentary on the Gopāla-tāpany-upaniṣad, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī states:

viśveśvaraka-janārdana-bhaṭṭābhyāṁ vaidikācāryābhyām |
tadvat prabodha-yatinā likhitaṁ citram atra tāratamyena ||
śrī-sanātana-rūpasya caraṇābja-sudhepsunā |
pūritā ṭippaṇī ceyaṁ jīvena sukha-bodhinī ||

“Previously, the Vedic preceptors named Viśveśvara and Janārdana Bhaṭṭa, as well as the sannyāsī Prabodha have written commentaries on this text, each more interesting than the previous one. Now this commentary called Sukha-bodhinī has been completed by Jīva, desiring to obtain the nectarean water from the feet of Śrīla Rūpa and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmīs.”

There is a work attributed to Jīva Gosvāmī named Vaiṣṇava-vandanā, where we find the following verse (71) : 

prabodhānanda-sarasvatīṁ vande vimalāṁ yayā mudā |
candrāmṛtaṁ racitaṁ yac-chiṣyo gopāla-bhaṭṭakaḥ ||

“I offer my humble obeisances unto the spotless Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, who joyfully compiled the Caitanya-candrāmṛta, and whose disciple is Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī.”

In the compilation Vyāsajī kī Vāṇī, we find the following verses by Harirāma Vyāsa (16th century):

prabodhānanda se kavi thore
jina rādhā-vallabha kī līlā-rasa me saba rasa ghore |
kevala prema-vilāsa āsa kari, bhava-bandhana dṛḍha tore ||
sahaja mādhurī vacanani, rasika ananyani ke cita core |
pāvana rūpa-nāma-guṇa ura dhari, viṣai-vikāra ju more ||
cāru caraṇa-nakha-canda-bimba meṁ rākhe naina cakore |
jāyā, māyā, gṛha, dehī soṁ, ravi-suta bandhana chore ||

“Poets like Prabodhānanda are very rare. He sang about all mellows in the divine pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Having broken the strong bounds of material life, his only hope was to relish those loving pastimes. His natural, sweet words stole the minds of other exclusively devoted rasikas. Inside his heart, he always held the Lord’s pure qualities, names and forms and thus turned away from all sensual agitation. Like a cakora bird, he kept his eyes on the moon-like reflection of the beautiful nails of the Lord’s feet and in this way gave up illusory happiness, wife, home, the bodily conception and the grip of Yamarāja.”
In his Vaiṣṇava-vandanā, Devakīnandana[1] writes:

prabodhānanda gosāñi vandoṁ kariyā yatana
ye karilā mahāprabhura guṇera varṇana

“I eagerly offer obeisances unto Śrīla Prabodhānanda Gosvāmī, who described the transcendental qualities of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu.”
In his Vaiṣṇava-vandanā, Vṛndāvanadāsa[2] writes:

vandoṁ kariyā bhakti, prabodhānanda sarasvatī, parama mahattva guṇa-dhāma | śrī-caitanya-candrāmṛta pustaka yāṁhāra kṛta, ei pūnthi  bhakta-dhana-prāṇa ||
      “With great devotion I offer obeisances to Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, who is an abode of transcendental qualities and greatness. He composed the book Śrī-Caitanya-candrāmṛta, which is the devotees’ treasure and life.”
In the Sādhana-dīpikā (Aṣṭama-kakṣā), Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī[3] states:

śrīmat-prabodhānandasya bhrātuḥ putraṁ kṛpālayam |
śrīmad-gopāla-bhaṭṭaṁ taṁ naumi śrī-vraja-vāsinam ||

                “I offer my humble obeisances unto Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, who was the son of Śrīla Prabodhānanda’s brother, a resident of Vraja and a reservoir of mercy.”
In the first chapter of the Anurāgavallī (dated 1696 AD), Manohara Dāsa[4] writes:

sei tīrthe vaise tailaṅga-viprarāja |
śrī-trimalla-bhaṭṭa nāma brāhmaṇa-samāja ||
tāṁhāra kaniṣṭha jyeṣṭha haye dui bhāi |
veṅkaṭa prabodhānanda bhaṭṭa bali gāi ||
veṅkaṭera kaniṣṭha prabodhānanda nāma |
gopāla-bhaṭṭera pūrve guru se pramāṇa ||
adhyayana upanayana yogya ācaraṇe |
pūrvate sakala śikṣā pitṛvyera sthāne ||

                “In that holy place, Śrīraṅgam, lived Trimalla Bhaṭṭa, the best in the Tailaṅga brāhmaṇa community. He had an older and a younger brother named Veṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa and Prabodhānanda Bhaṭṭa. Veṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa’s younger brother was named Prabodhānanda, who was the first guru of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa according to his own testimony.            By his good conduct, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa was qualified for studying the scriptures and receiving the sacred thread. He formerly received his whole education in the house of his uncle.”

In the Bhakta-māla (paragraph 182), Nābhājī (16th- 17th century AD) refers to Prabodhānanda in the following words:

prabodhānanda, rāmabhadra, jagadānanda kali-jugga dhani
parama-dharma prati poṣakauṁ, sannyāsī e mukuṭamani

“Prabodhānanda, Rāmabhadra and Jagadānanda made Kali-yuga blessed. They were the crest jewels among sannyāsīs and maintained the highest religious principles.”

In the commentary (dated 1712 AD) to the above paragraph, Priyādāsa[5] says:
śrī-prabodhānanda baḍe rasika ānanda-kanda śrī-caitanya-canda jū ke pārakhada pyāre haiṁ | rādhā-kṛṣṇa-kuñja-keli, nipaṭa naveli kahī, jheli rasa-rūpa, doū kie dṛg tāre haiṁ || vṛndāvana vāsa kau hulāsa lai prakāśa kiyau, diyau sukha-sindhu, karma dharma saba ṭāre haiṁ | tāhī suni suni koṭi koṭi jana raṅga pāyo, vipina suhāyau vase tana mana cāre haiṁ ||

“Śrīla Prabodhānanda was a great rasika and a beloved associate of Lord Caitanya, bliss personified. He gave fresh descriptions of the amorous pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in the groves of Vraja. He relished Their forms and rasas and made Them his dearmost. In his poems, he revealed the splendour of residing in Śrī Vṛndāvana and thus merged the devotees in an ocean of happiness. He became aloof from all materially motivated activities and religiosity. Listening to his poems, millions of people fell in love. While residing himself in the beautiful Vṛndāvana, he sacrificed his body and mind in Their service.”

In the first chapter of the Bhakti-ratnākara, Narahari Cakravartī[6] says:

saṁkṣepe kahile ethā bhaṭṭa-vivaraṇa |
śrī-gopāla-bhaṭṭa hana vyeṅkaṭa-nandana || 81 ||
trimalla, vyeṅkaṭa āra śrī-prabodhānanda |
e tina bhrātāra prāṇa-dhana gauracandra || 83 ||
gaura-guṇa-mahimā ye sarvatra prakāśe |
māyāvāda-khaṇḍana karaye anāyāse || 145 ||
gopāla-bhaṭṭera ślāghā kare śiṣṭa-gaṇa |
kirūpe karila aiche vidyā-upārjana || 146 ||
keha kahe śrī-prabodhānanda yatna kaila |
alpa-kāla haite adhyayana karāila || 147 ||
pitṛvya-kṛpāya sarva-śāstre haila jñāna |
gopālera sama ethā nāi vidyāvān || 148 ||
keha kahe prabodhānandera guṇa ati |
sarvatra haila yāṁra khyāti sarasvatī|| 149 ||
pūrṇa-brahma śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya bhagavān |
tāṁra priya, tāṁra vinā svapane nāhi āna || 150 ||
parama-vairāgya-sneha mūrti manorama |
mahā-kavi, gīta-vādya-nṛtya anupama || 152 ||
yāṁhāra vākya śuni’ sukha bāḍaye sabāra |
prabodhānandera mahā-mahimā apāra || 153 ||
prabodhānandera bhrātuṣputra śrī-gopāla |
sarva-mate suśikṣita parama dayāla || 155 ||

“I will now briefly describe the Bhaṭṭa family. Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa was the son of Śrī Veṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa. Lord Gauracandra was the life and treasure of the three brothers, Trimalla, Veṅkaṭa and Prabodhānanda. Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa revealed the glories and transcendental qualities of Lord Gaurāṅga everywhere and would easily defeat māyāvāda arguments. Even learned scholars praised Gopāla Bhaṭṭa. How had he acquired such knowledge? Some say that this was all due to the efforts of Śrī Prabodhānanda, who taught him in a very short time. By his uncle’s mercy, he obtained knowledge of all scriptures. There is no learned man like Gopāla Bhaṭṭa in this world. Some say that Prabodhānanda had many virtues. He became famous everywhere as ‘Sarasvatī.’ Even in dreams he did not know anyone else besides Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, the Supreme Brahman, Who was so dear to him. He was fascinating, supremely detached, affection personified, a great poet and incomparable in dance and music, both vocal and instrumental. He would increase the happiness of those who heard him speak. Prabodhānanda’s glories are immense. In the opinion of everyone, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, the son of Prabodhānanda’s brother, was very well educated and very kind.”

                Up to this point there is no controversy, except for one issue mentioned by Manohara Dāsa that in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 1.108 it is stated that Mahāprabhu stayed at the house of Trimalla Bhaṭṭa, while in the Madhya-līlā 9.82 and subsequent verses it is stated that He was taken to Veṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa’s house. This is a minor issue that can be easily solved by assuming that the brothers lived in the same house. Yet it seems that for this reason some authors described either Trimalla or Veṅkaṭa as the eldest and the father of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa. In this regard, it is also interesting to note that the present descendants of this family in Śrīraṅgam, headed by Śrī Muralī Bhaṭṭar, do not have any information or records of a third brother called Prabodha or Prabodhānanda. This could be due to several factors, such as the extinction of his lineage or the migration of his descendants to a distant region, which within the time frame of five centuries could not be easily traced. It is also possible that Prabodhānanda was a cousin-brother or a distant relative of the same generation and was therefore affectionately considered a brother in the family.

                From the above verses it is crystal clear that none of these respectable authors ever gave the slightest hint that Prabodhānanda might have been anyone else but a South Indian Vaiṣṇava and the instructor of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa. It is thus also understood that the idea that he was a māyāvādī sannyāsī in Vārāṇasī was a much later misunderstanding perpetrated by texts written by doubtful authors. If there were any apprehension in this regard in the days of Narahari Cakravartī and Manohara Dāsa, they would surely have addressed it in their works, where they did not hesitate to deal with several other controversies. This means that this only became an issue subsequently. One of the earliest authors responsible for this misconception is Ānandī, who wrote the first known Sanskrit commentary (dated 1723 AD) on the Caitanya-candrāmṛta, which starts with the following words:

śrī-śrīpāda-parivrāja-rājo vedānta-sāṅkhya-vaiśeṣika-pātañjala-mīmāṁsāgama-nigama-mahā-purāṇa-purāṇa-setihāsa-pañcarātrālaṅkāra-kāvya-nāṭakādi-rahasya-siddhāntānargala-vaktṛtvojjvalī-kṛtāsaṅkhya-kāśī-vāsy-antevāsika-janānām antaḥ-karaṇakaḥ |

“Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī was the king of the itinerant mendicants in the renounced order and was very dear to innumerable students who lived in Kāśī and shined by their fluent eloquence in the secret conclusions of many subject matters such as Vedānta, Sāṅkhya, Vaiśeṣika, Pātañjala yoga, Mīmāṁsā, Āgama, Nigama, Purāṇas, Mahāpurāṇas, itihāsas, Pañcarātra, rhetorics, poetry, dramaturgy, etc.”

Nothing definite is known about Ānandī’s lineage and background, so against the weight of all the previous authors, there is no reason to accept him as an authority regarding Prabodhānanda’s life. Yet this single mistaken statement has misled future generations. He might have assumed that Prabodhānanda was a resident of Kāśī on the basis of verse 99 in the Caitanya-candrāmṛta:

kāśī-vāsīn api na gaṇaye kiṁ gayāṁ mārgayāmo
muktiḥ śuktībhavati yadi me kaḥ parārtha-prasaṅgaḥ |
trāsābhāsaḥ sphurati na mahā-raurave’pi kva bhītiḥ
strī-putrādau yadi kṛpayate deva-devaḥ sa gauraḥ ||

“If Lord Gaurāṅga, the Supreme God of all demigods, is merciful upon me, then I do not take into consideration even the residents of Kāśī. Why then should we visit Gayā to offer oblations to our ancestors? If Lord Gaurāṅga is merciful upon me, I consider mukti itself a trifle, so what to speak of dharma, artha and kāma? If Lord Gaurāṅga is merciful upon me, I do not have the slightest fear of even going to hell, so where is the question of fearing for my wife, sons and other relatives?”

Such an assumption, however, is not well thought, for the point the author is making here is that he considers the mercy of Lord Caitanya much higher than residence in Vārāṇasī, which is praised as a place where the residents attain liberation upon giving up their present body. This is confirmed in the next line, when he further states that he actually considers Mahaprabhu’s mercy to be superior to even liberation itself.
The Advaita-prakāśa (17th chapter), attributed to Īśāna Nāgara, describes the supposed meeting of Lord Caitanya with Prabodhānanda in Vārāṇasī:

kāśī pūrṇa haila gorāra prabhāva-sambandhe |
aneka vaiṣṇava hailā sei anubandha ||
tathi śrī-prabodhānanda sarasvatī khyāti |
sannyāsīra madhye yiṁha buddhe bṛhaspati ||
bahu-śāstra-vettā paṇḍitera śikhāmaṇi |
gaurāṅga nindiye tiṁha hañā abhimānī ||
dayā-sindhu śrī-caitanya dayā prakāśilā |
bahu-śāstra-yuktyā tare svamate ānilā||
śrī-prabodhānandera saba khaṇḍila saṁśaya |
gaurāṅge īśvara bali karilā niścaya ||
śrī-prabodhānande horā baḍa dayā kailā |
śakti sañcāriyā tare prema-bhakti dilā ||
parama vaiṣṇava haila śrī-prabodhānanda |
khaṇḍila kutarka vāda pāila premānanda ||
sarasvatī hailā gaurera bhakata pravīṇa |
kṛta pīta rūpe prakaṭa kahe rātri dina ||

                “By Lord Caitanya’s transcendental power, Kāśī attained plenitude and many people became Vaiṣṇavas. Among the sannyāsīs, Prabodhānanda was famous like Sarasvatī and intelligent like Bṛhaspati. He knew so many scriptures and was the crest jewel among learned scholars. Thus becoming very proud, he indulged in criticizing Lord Gaurāṅga. Lord Caitanya is an ocean of mercy and therefore showed kindness to him. By debating with logic on the conclusion of the scriptures, He convinced him about His philosophy. Mahāprabhu removed all his doubts, and at last Prabodhānanda accepted Him as the Supreme Lord. Showing great mercy on Prabodhānanda, Lord Caitanya empowered him and gave him pure loving devotional service. Once his flawed arguments were defeated, Prabodhānanda became an exalted Vaiṣṇava and attained the bliss of love of God. He became a staunch devotee of Lord Caitanya and spent day and night saying that the Lord was Kṛṣṇa in a golden colour.”

Īśāna Nāgara is said to have been a servant in Advaita Prabhu’s house and supposedly wrote this book in 1568 AD. If it is true that such a person wrote Advaita-prakāśa in this year, then what has been passed down to our hands is an extensively interpolated version. While some accounts in Advaita-prakāśa seem to be legitimate and match with those found in other books, on the other hand there are several suspicious incidents which are not to be found anywhere else and others that clash with versions that are present within more reliable and widely accepted hagiographies. This undermines its credibility to a great extent, therefore some Gauḍīya scholars hold the opinion that Advaita-prakāśa is a much later compilation of someone else and was intentionally given a backdate. In fact, no ancient author has ever quoted it, and until the late 19th century its very name seemed to be unknown. The Catalogus Catalogorum of Bengali Manuscripts lists only two existent copies, which makes us wonder why those in Advaitācārya’s line never took an interest in circulating this book if it is an authentic hagiography.

                In the Bengali Bhakta-māla, Lāladāsa (18th century) declares:

prakāśānanda sarasvatī nāma chila |
prabhura prabodhānanda baliyā rākhila ||

                “Mahāprabhu then changed the name of Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī into Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī.”
This might be the first instance in which both are described as the same person. Originally meant to be a Bengali version of the Hindi Bhakta-māla with emphasis on the Gauḍīya devotees, the author could not refrain from adding many obscure episodes and descriptions without precedents. Despite Lāladāsa’s claims that he is presenting the facts as they are, in many respects his compilation is so flawed that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī referred to it as a sahajiyā book. Although very popular in West Bengal, this work has never earned the trust of historians and Gauḍīya scholars at large on account of several absurdities and anachronisms. It is apparent that many of the statements are rumours or mere concoctions – for example, the exchange of letters between Lord Caitanya and Prakāśānanda. Mahāprabhu did not usually change the names of His followers. Rūpa and Sanātana are the most well-known instances, and their change of name was well justified, since they were being addressed by Muslim names. However, in the case of Prakāśānanda (the bliss of light), there is hardly any improvement by changing his name into Prabodhānanda (the bliss of awakening). If the former name sounded too impersonal for a Vaiṣṇava, the new name did not sound any more devotional.

Shishir Kumar Ghosh (1840-1911), a famous Bengali journalist and founder of the Amrita Bazar Patrika, appreciated Lāladāsa’s divagations so much that he wrote a hundred-page novel entitled Śrī Prabodhānanda O Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, which culminates with the metamorphosis of Prakāśānanda into Prabodhānanda. This book played a definite role in propagating the myth among the Bengali public, although it includes fanciful imaginary descriptions and lacks historical evidence or authentic sources to support the author’s assumptions.

The advocates of the Prakāśānanda tale also owe us an explanation as to when and where he taught Gopāla Bhaṭṭa. Even the texts that support their claim totally omit this point. We hear from the Bhakti-ratnākara and other works that by the time Gopāla Bhaṭṭa left Śrīraṅgam and reached Vṛndāvana as a young man, he was already an accomplished scholar. Nowhere can we find descriptions of a māyāvādī sannyāsī coming from Kāśī to Śrīraṅgam to teach him. Furthermore, we hear from the Bhakti-ratnākara that Gopāla Bhaṭṭa could easily defeat māyāvāda, and this would not be possible if he had been educated by a māyāvādī. It is also unlikely that an exalted Vaiṣṇava like Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī would have been educated by a māyāvādī. The present descendants of the Bhaṭṭa family flatly deny such a possibility, for it is totally unprecedented that one of them would give up their spiritual lineage to join the Śaṅkara line. This would have demoralized the family, and by no means would they be able to still hold a prestigious position as leading priests in the Śrī Raṅganātha Temple as they do even today. No Śrī Vaiṣṇava would allow his children to be taught by a follower of Śaṅkara, what to speak of in Śrīraṅgam, the headquarters of the Śrī sampradāya. Also, sannyāsīs do not visit householders in order to teach their children. To visit one’s family’s house is also completely against the code of conduct for a sannyāsī. Additionally, we do not find any description of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa going to Kāśī to study. If it be said that Prabodhānanda took māyāvādī sannyāsa after teaching Gopāla in Śrīraṅgam, then we have to ask how an obscure resident of South India would have become so popular in Vārāṇasī to have already secured thousands of disciples by the time Lord Caitanya arrived there in 1514 AD, just three years after his visit to Śrīraṅgam. We also know from different sources that Lord Caitanya could not tolerate māyāvāda at all, so why would he accept to stay four months with the family of a māyāvādī? On the contrary, the Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya, 3.3,18-40) tells us how even before taking sannyāsa and visiting South India, Mahāprabhu was already indignant due to the offenses committed by Prakāśānanda in Kāśī.

Some argue that ‘Sarasvatī’ is one of the ten titles (daśanāma) adopted by the eka-daṇḍi-sannyāsīs who belong to Śaṅkara’s sampradāya, and that no Śrī Vaiṣṇava tri-daṇḍi-sannyāsī has ever adopted this name. Yet from the Bhakti-ratnākara it is clear that even before he became a renunciant, Prabodhānanda was already known as ‘Sarasvatī’ on account of his scholarship. Nowhere is it mentioned that this was his sannyāsa title.  

From the Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā we know that the prominent gopīs and mañjarīs appeared as companions of Mahāprabhu. We would also like to hear an explanation as to why Tuṅgavidyā, one of the aṣṭa-sakhīs in Vṛndāvana, would appear as a māyāvādī who became a leper for blaspheming the Lord, while all the other nitya-siddhas spent their lives serving and glorifying Him. Jagāi and Mādhāi were insignificant rogues in a village, yet their deliverance was sung far and wide by many contemporary Gauḍīya poets. How much greater an accomplishment would the conversion of the greatest māyāvādī scholar and guru of Vārāṇasī be and his turning into a rasika poet – yet everyone is silent about it! The simple explanation is that all contemporary authors knew very well that Prakāśānanda and Prabodhānanda were two completely distinct persons. The Madhya-līlā of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta ends with the description of how Prakāśānanda underwent a change of heart, regretted his offenses and surrendered at the feet of Lord Caitanya. Nowhere is it mentioned that he became a rasika mahā-bhāgavata and travelled to Vṛndāvana. Mahāprabhu returned to Purī, Tapana Miśra and Candraśekhara went to Vṛndāvana, and in the meantime we do not know of any Gauḍīya devotee that visited Vārāṇasī, thus there was no one to tell us what happened to Prakāśānanda. If he had left for Vṛndāvana, it would seem that a large contingent amongst his many thousands of disciples would have followed him there. The arrival of such a great scholar in Vṛndāvana accompanied by thousands of followers would certainly have been recorded in chronicles and poems. However, we hear nothing of the sort. As he was already an old man in poor health, most probably he spent the rest of his days in Vārāṇasī itself.

At this point, any sober reader will have already concluded that there is absolutely no possibility that Prabodhānanda and Prakāśānanda were one and the same, and that this confusion was propagated by misinformed later authors. On the other hand, the cause and the solution of their confusion may possibly be one and the same. For a long time, the Rādhā-Vallabha Vaiṣṇavas have been aware that there are two Prabodhānandas in this discussion. One of the earliest evidences is Priyādāsa’s Bhakta-sumiranī,[7] a list of devotees who lived in Vraja, where he mentions two persons with a similar name:

śrī-prabodha rasa-rāsa rasika vasa |
jyāye jiya de prema-sudhā-rasa || 69 ||
śrī-prabodha vimalānanda santa | 70 |

                “Śrī Prabodha was the master among the rasika devotees expert in relishing all transcendental mellows and was therefore given the nectarean rasa of love for Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Prabodha was a saint absorbed in pure bliss.”

śrī-prabodhānanda raṅgīna |
gāi kuñja-keli rasika pravīna || 118 ||

                “Śrī Prabodhānanda was a very learned rasika who sang the loving pastimes performed in the groves of Vṛndāvana.”

By the word play (Prabodha and vimalānanda) in verse 70, it may be implied that he could also be called Prabodhānanda, and to make it clear that there was a totally different person with the same name, the author mentioned the other one many verses later.

In the Rasik Ananya Māl (circa 1600 AD), a brief hagiography of thirty-four notable Vaiṣṇavas of the Rādhā-vallabha sampradāya, Bhagavat Mudita gives the most extensive known description about the Prabodhānanda of that line as follows:

aba suni śrī harivaṁśa pada, gahyau prabodhānanda | pāyau nitya-vihāra sukha, tajyau su brahmānanda || prabodhānanda hute sannyāsī | jāke guru mata śūnya udāsī || dvitiya sarasvatī saba disi jītī | paṇḍita baḍe baḍe avinītī || kāśī se vṛndāvana āye | eka māsa rahi ati sukha pāye || sabahī ṭhākura dvāre dekhe | aur sabai ācāraja pekhe || saba ke mata nīke kari jāne | pai prabodha ke mana nahiṁ māne || paramānanda rasika kahuṁ mile | caracā karata duhuni mana khile || nita-vihāra kī caracā ṭhānī | so prabodha ke mana nahiṁ ānī || śruti-smṛti itihāsa sunāye | sanaka-saṁhitā ke mata gāye || āgama bāvana bṛhad purāna | inahiṁ ādi kahe bahut pramāna || tāmeṁ mānasarovara kahyau | nitya-vihāra rasika jana lahyau || suni ke mānasarovara rīti | śraddhā bhaī karī kachu prīti || taba prabodha ke mana kachu āī | raina sarovara base ju jāī || vaisākhī pūnyau kauṁ gayau | mana ekatra kiyau sukha layau || godhana dekhi parama sukha pāyau | pāchaiṁ ṭhaura udāsa janāyau || gharī doya rāti jaba gaī | rītī bhūmi bhayānaka bhaī || pāchaiṁ siṁha-siṁhanī dhāye | tinakī garajana sunata saṁkāye || pāchaiṁ nāga-nāginī dekhe | ḍaryau na viṣadhara bhayada alekhe || pāchaiṁ pavana buhārī daī | bādara ulahyau baraṣā bhaī || śītala manda sugandha samīra | ānanda bāḍhyau sakala śarīra || prabodhānanda kauṁ nidrā āī | susupta magana tana-daśā   bhulāī || kuñjavihārī yahai vicārī | yaha hyāṁ kau nāhīṁ adhikārī || abahīṁ yāke bahut kacāī | rasika saṅga binu bharama na jāī || mathurā kuṭī māñjha pahuñcāyau | mānasarovara rahana na pāyau || prāta jagyau taba mana meṁ āī | nitya-vihāra sahī sukhadāī || paramānanda vacana sata jānyau | apanau haṭha saba jhūṭhau mānyau || taba paramānanda ke ghara āye | saravara ke viratānta sunāye || tumharau vacana bhayau paramāna | nita-vihāra rasa kau kari dāna || taba paramānanda ke mana bhāye | yā rasa ke dātā ju batāye || śrī harivaṁśa caraṇa jaba sevai | taba yā rasa ke jānai  bhevai || suni prabodha vṛndāvana āye | darasana kiyed parama sukha pāye || paramānanda prabodha hita kahī | so vinatī hitajū mana gahī || ye sannyāsī hama haiṁ gehī | mana kari bhāva dharau ju sanehī || sevana kari paratīti baḍhāī | nita-vihāra kī śikṣā pāī || stuti aṣṭaka kari suṭhi karī | citta-vṛtti hita-caranani dharī || suni karuṇā kari rīti    batāī | abhilāṣā pujaī mana bhāī || nita-vihāra ānanda sunāyau | sukha-sāgara nainani darasāyau || dīpaka sauṁ lagi dīpaka hoī | ekahi dharama na saṁsaya koī || sāvadhāna hvai dhyāna lagāyau | śrī vṛndāvana śata darasāyau || dampati sukha sampati cita lāyau | śrī guru-iṣṭa-sādhu mana bhāyau || rasika ananya dharma paripāṭī | jāni gahī hitajī kī ghāṭī || śrī rādhāvallabha kī kari āsa | sudṛḍha bhayau vṛndāvana vāsa || nita-vihāra rasa varṇana kiyau | rasika janani kau sīñcyau hiyau || nipaṭa rahasya keli kala gāī | vṛndāvana niṣṭhā sudṛḍhāī || kuñja-rahasya grantha bahu      kīne | arthani jānati rasika pravīne || śrī prabodhānanda kī, bānī veda pramāna | rasika ananyani kauṁ sukhada, ‘bhagavata mudita’ sujāna ||

“Prabodhānanda caught Hita Harivaṁśa’s feet, and after hearing from him, he gave up the bliss of the impersonal Brahman and attained the happiness of enjoying the eternal pastimes (nitya-vihāra)[8] of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Prabodhānanda was a mendicant sannyāsī belonging to a line that followed an impersonalist philosophy. He was just like a second Sarasvatī and conquered all directions with his knowledge. Because he was very learned, he became very arrogant. He came from Kāśī to Vṛndāvana, where he spent one month and obtained great happiness. He visited all temples and met all local ācāryas. He became well acquainted with everyone’s philosophy, but Prabodha’s mind did not accept any of them. Somewhere he met a rasika devotee called Paramānanda,[9] and while discussing with each other, both of them became very pleased at heart. They had a discussion about nitya-vihāra, but Prabodha was not convinced. Paramānanda presented many evidences from the śruti, smṛti, itihāsas, āgamas, Sanaka-saṁhitā and Vāmana Mahāpurāṇa. He also mentioned that rasika devotees realized nitya-vihāra in the Mānasarovara. Hearing about the Mānasarovasa method, Prabodha developed some faith and appreciation for that concept. Then something entered Prabodha’s heart. Going to the lake during the full moon of the month Vaiśākha (April-May), he spent the night there with a concentrated mind and felt joy. He became very happy after seeing Govardhana. However, later he felt dejected for not attaining his purpose. Around midnight, the place was desolate and became scary. Then lions started running around, and hearing their roars, he became frightened. He then saw poisonous snakes, but they failed to scare him. The wind began blowing and clouds showered.  A gentle, fresh and aromatic breeze filled his whole body with joy. Prabodhānanda then fell asleep, and while absorbed in deep sleep, he forgot all bodily discomfort. Lord Kṛṣṇa, Who enjoys pastimes in the groves of Vraja, thought, ‘He is not qualified to be in this place. He is still very much inept. Without the association of rasika devotees, his confusion cannot be dispelled. He may have reached a hut in Mathurā but has not attained a residence at the Mānasarovara.’ When Prabodha woke up in the morning, his mind was convinced that the concept of nitya-vihāra actually gives one transcendental bliss. He understood that Paramānanda’s words were true and therefore he accepted that his obstinacy was totally wrong. He then went to Paramānanda’s house and told him about the incidents at the Mānasarovara. ‘Your words proved correct. Kindly impart to me the taste of nitya-vihāra. Paramānanda became very pleased at heart and then told him who can give this taste, ‘When you serve the feet of Śrī Hita Harivaṁśa, then you will understand the mysteries of nitya-vihāra rasa.’ Hearing this, Prabodha went to Vṛndāvana and upon having Harivaṁśa’s darśana, he became very happy. Paramānanda had spoken well of Prabodha to Harivaṁśa, and the latter was captivated by his modesty. He thought, ‘He is a sannyāsī and I am a householder, yet he is so affectionate that my mind is captivated.’ Prabodha served him and their affection grew. He was then taught about nitya-vihāra. He composed eight beautiful verses glorifying Harivaṁśa and fixed his mind on his feet. When he heard those verses, Harivaṁśa showed his mercy to him and imparted to him knowledge about the mode of worship in nitya-vihāra, thus fulfilling his heart’s desire. He told him about the bliss of nitya-vihāra and showed that ocean of happiness before his eyes. It was just like a candle lighting another candle. In this way Prabodha had no more doubts about that mode of worship. He started to carefully practice meditation and wrote a collection of verses entitled ‘Vṛndāvana-śatakam.’ His heart was always absorbed in the treasure-like happiness of the Divine Couple, and his mind found pleasure in his guru, worshipable deities and saintly persons. He thus understood the exclusive mode of worship performed by rasika devotees as taught by Harivaṁśa. Aspiring for Śrī Rādhā-Vallabha, he decided to live in Vṛndāvana permanently. He described the nitya-vihāra rasa and thus showered mercy on the rasika devotees. He continuously sang the Lord’s secret amorous pastimes and was staunchly devoted to Vṛndāvana. He composed many books on the mysteries of the pastimes in the groves of Vṛndāvana, which are known only to the expert rasika devotees. The wise Bhagavat Mudita says that Prabodhānanda’s words are just like Vedic evidence and give great happiness to the surrendered rasika devotees.”
Kiśorīśaraṇa Ali gives Saṁvat 1594 (1538 AD)[10] as the year when Prabodha came to Vṛndāvana as an impersonalist sannyāsī and was converted by Harivaṁśa. This was four years after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya, so it is not possible that this could be the same person who wrote the Caitanya-candrāmṛta and who was the guru of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī.

In the Bhakta-nāmāvalī, verse 29, Dhruvadāsa (16th – 17th century AD), who is said to be a disciple of Hita Harivaṁśa, states:

jugala prema rasa abdhi meṁ paryau prabodha mana jāi |
vṛndāvana rasa mādhurī gāī adhika laḍāi || 

“Prabodha’s mind was always absorbed in the ocean of the transcendental loving mellows of the Divine Couple. With great affection, he sang the sweetness of the rasas of Vṛndāvana.”

On the basis of these and many more verses written by other authors coming down in the line of Hita Harivaṁśa in the 17th , 18th and 19th centuries, in the appendix of his edition of the Rādhā-sudhā-nidhi, Kiśorīśaraṇa Ali makes an extensive analysis of the available information on both Prabodhānandas and summarizes the distinctions of the Rādhā-vallabhī Prabodhānanda as follows:

1) He was a disciple of Śrī Hita Harivaṁśa and even before surrendering to him, without any doubt his name was Prabodhānanda;
2) Before meeting Śrī Hita, he was certainly a monist sannyāsī;
3) He definitely came from Kāśī to Vṛndāvana and was originally from Bengal;
4) On the basis of ancient evidences, he arrived in Vṛndāvana between 1538 and 1539 AD;
5) After surrendering to Śrī Hita, he spent the rest of his life within the boundaries of Śrī Vṛndāvana;
6) He definitely surrendered to Śrī Hita in Vṛndāvana;
7) He was exclusively devoted to Śrī Vṛndāvana, the personal abode of Śrī Vṛndāvaneśvarī;
8) He rejects one who leaves Vṛndāvana, one who incites to leave Vṛndāvana, and even a guru who creates hindrances to continuous residence there; not only this, he turns his face away even from Lord Hari Himself if He happens to be outside of Vṛndāvana;
9) He is the author of Vṛndāvana-śatakam, which propagates the glories of Śrī Vṛndāvana Dhāma;
10) Abiding by the order of his Gurudeva, he remained in the sannyāsī dress;
11) He was a rasika exclusively devoted to the rasa of Vṛndāvana;
12) He considered the earthly manifestation of Śrī Vṛndāvana as the ultimate goal, superior even to Goloka;
13) He was absorbed in the mood of the Sakhīs and exclusively chanted the mantra consisting in the name of Śrī Rādhā;
14) He meditated on his Gurudeva in the form of a Sakhī servant of Śrī Rādhā and followed in his footsteps.

The above evidence and analysis seem to confirm that there were indeed two Prabodhānandas: the Gauḍīya one, guru of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, and the Rādhā-vallabhī one, disciple of Hita Harivaṁśa. The latter is well-known as the author of the Hita-harivaṁśa-candrāṣṭakam, the eight verses in praise of Hita Harivaṁśa, which can be seen engraved on the inner walls of the Sevākuñja in Vṛndāvana. This also solves the controversy pertaining to the supposed relationship between Harivaṁśa and the Gauḍīya Prabodhānanda, which was probably no more than another confusion.

Another controversy spread by the Bengali Bhakta-māla (20.133) and the Prema-vilāsa (18th chapter) attributed to Nityānanda Dāsa, a disciple of Jāhnavā Devī, is the claim that Hita Harivaṁśa was a disciple of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa. Both texts narrate that once the latter saw Harivaṁśa chewing betel prasāda on an ekādaśī day, scolded him and requested him to abide by the scriptural injunctions.  When the same incident happened again, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa asked why he was violating the regulative principles, to which Harivaṁśa admitted to offending him for not following his order, but he could not refuse Śrī Rādhā’s prasāda. Prema-vilāsa goes so far as to say that Harivaṁśa was then deprived of the service to Śrī Rādhā-Ramaṇa and thus installed his own deity, Śrī Rādhā-Vallabha, Whom he worshipped until one day when some dacoits chopped off his head and threw it in the Yamunā. Gopāla Bhaṭṭa was bathing in the Yamunā at that time and was shocked to see the decapitated head shedding tears and crying “Rādhe, Rādhe!” Harivaṁśa’s head then floated close to Gopāla Bhaṭṭa and asked for forgiveness. He then took pity on him and put his foot on Harivaṁśa’s head, who then attained liberation. 

We have already seen above how the Bengali Bhakta-māla is not considered a reliable text. This fantastic and ludicrous narration almost precludes the need to pass any comment on the so-called Prema-vilāsa. B. B. Majumdar, in the Caitanya Cariter Upadān (14th chapter), makes a detailed assessment of the authenticity of the Prema-vilāsa, and on the basis of the oldest manuscripts and their contents, he concludes that the text written by Nityānanda Dāsa originally consisted of only sixteen chapters, each of which was largely interpolated in course of time, besides which there was an addition of another eight chapters or more at the end. Each manuscript seems to have a different number of verses in each chapter, and the beginning and end of the chapters also do not match. Many of the narrations are based on dreams and “voices in the sky,” supposedly seen and heard by different devotees and include many statements unheard of, such as Lord Nityānanda receiving dīkṣā from Īśvara Purī.[11] The book was first printed by Rāma Nārāyaṇa Vidyāratna in the early 1900s with only eighteen chapters. In 1911 AD, he published a second edition with twenty chapters. Yaśodānandana Tālukadāra printed another edition in 1913 AD with twenty-six “and a half” chapters. In the beginning of the text, the author declares that he received an order from Jāhnavā Devī to write down the exploits of Śrīnivāsācārya, Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura and Śyāmānanda Prabhu, which is the central theme of the entire book up to the sixteenth chapter, after which the topics stray quite far from the original narrative, as we may observe from the supposed incident mentioned above.

Hita Harivaṁśa was a prominent religious leader in Vṛndāvana in the 16th century. He had many disciples and established the Śrī Rādhā-Vallabha temple, one of the main temples of Vṛndāvana along with those of Govinda, Madana-mohana and Gopīnātha. It is one of the most visited temples up to the present day. If he had indeed been murdered, there would certainly be clear records documenting this. Particularly we would expect that at least the Gauḍīyas would be eager to show the world the destination of those who offend their gurus. It is more than suspicious that the first time this tale appeared was several centuries later within a text which the Gauḍīyas themselves repudiate as spurious.

In the Bhramocchedana,[12] while addressing this guru-disciple controversy, Gopāla Prasāda Śarmā describes an odd incident. According to him, Rādhā-caraṇa Gosvāmī Vidyāvāgīśa, a respectable scholar of the Rādhā-Ramaṇa parivāra and former mayor of Vṛndāvana, had mentioned in a book called Caitanya-carita-sāra that Hita Harivaṁśa was a disciple of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī. The indignant Rādhā-vallabhīs then strongly protested and the case was taken to the local police. On the 5th October, 1888, Vidyāvāgīśa supposedly admitted that he had no evidence to support his claim and thus had to pay a five-rupee fine and apologize publicly. It is said that a notice was then printed and distributed all over Vṛndāvana. Although the tone of the narration sounds legitimate, and although it was even quoted by scholars like Dr. Vijayendra Snātaka,[13] I could not find a single trace to corroborate it, despite enquiring far and wide in Vṛndāvana and despite Snātaka’s claim that the said printed notice is still preserved. I approached many of the senior and learned Rādhā-vallabhīs in Vṛndāvana, but they could not present a copy of that notice, nor did they seem to be aware of the incident. Furthermore, Vidyāvāgīśa’s descendants had never heard of it either. In a biographical thesis[14] on Vidyāvāgīśa written by Dr. Kedāradatta Tatrāḍī, there is not a single word about it. Moreover, there is no work entitled Caitanya-carita-sāra among the innumerable publications written by Vidyāvāgīśa, nor a single copy of this book in his personal library. In the absence of any corroborating evidence, we may suspect this to be yet another attempt to taint another’s reputation.

Some fertile brains speculate that after being rejected by Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Hita Harivaṁśa took shelter of Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, and for this reason the latter was repudiated by the Gauḍīya community, who shunned his name, which explains why it is not found in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. In the Bhakti-ratnākara, Narahari Cakravartī has been kind enough to demystify the silence of Kavirāja Gosvāmī:

śrī-gopāla-bhaṭṭa hṛṣṭa haiyā ājñā dila |
granthe nija-prasaṅga varṇite niṣedhila || 1.222 ||
kene niṣedhila, ihā ke bujhite pāre ||
nirantara atidīna māne āpanāre || 1.223 ||
kavirāja tāṁra ājñā nāre laṅghibāre |
nāma-mātra likhe anya na kare pracāre || 1.224 ||

                “Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa was also pleased to give Kṛṣṇadāsa an order to write the book but forbade Kṛṣṇadāsa to write about him (Gopāla Bhaṭṭa). Who can understand why he forbade him? He always considered himself very low. Śrīla Kavirāja Gosvāmī would not violate his order, therefore he only mentioned his name without describing his glories.”

Out of humility, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa and Prabodhānanda insisted that they should not be glorified in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. This explanation is quite plausible, and since Narahari was coming from the spiritual lineage of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, it is probable that this is the version he heard from his predecessors. If the above claim is true and Prabodhānanda was therefore not glorified by Kavirāja Gosvāmī, then for what reason was Gopāla Bhaṭṭa not glorified either? His name was merely mentioned six times in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta in unavoidable contexts, such as when naming the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, but he was not the subject of any narration in the whole book, despite the fact that each of the other five Gosvāmīs had their life stories outlined. Moreover, if Prakāśānanda and Prabodhānanda were the same person, Kavirāja Gosvāmī would have violated his request not to write about him, and the highlight on his life in Vārāṇasī would be totally inconsistent due to the omission about his previous and later life in Śrīraṅgam and Vṛndāvana. Otherwise we may wonder how it is possible that those in the line of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa were unaware of such an important fact about his guru Prabodhānanda. And also, why Narahari would speak such nonsense? By not informing the readers that Prakāśānanda later became Prabodhānanda, Kavirāja’s narration would be faulty and he would be accountable for hundreds of years of confusion.

Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī was an incarnation of Tuṅgavidyā, was born in a pure Śrī Vaiṣṇava family, became the guru of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa and attained the personal association of Lord Caitanya. Although he did not have the slightest blemish, the Gauḍīyas themselves mercilessly turned him into a māyāvādī leper called Prakāśānanda and continue to depict him as such without hesitation or embarrassment. If they can be so ruthless to Prabodhānanda, what would they not speak about Śrī Hita Harivaṁśa, given that the animosity between the Rādhā-Vallabhīs and the Gauḍīyas began from their very primordial days and continues up to the present? In the absence of strong and unambiguous evidence, the myth that Prabodhānanda was Prakāśānanda is no less a hoax than the myth that Harivaṁśa was a rejected disciple of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī. 

                There are yet two other controversies regarding Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī. A rumour says that he worshipped Lord Caitanya in the mood of the Gaurāṅga-nāgarīs,[15] which seems to have been originated from his use of the expression ‘gaura-nāgara’ in the Caitanya-candrāmṛta (132). Vṛndāvanadāsa Ṭhākura rebuked such expression in the Caitanya-bhāgavata, 1.15.30:

ataeva yata mahā-mahima sakale ‘gaurāṅga-nāgara’ hena stava nāhi bale

“Therefore, great personalities do not praise Lord Caitanya by calling him ‘Gaurāṅga-nāgara,’ the lover of damsels.”

For this reason, some assume that Prabodhānanda was excommunicated by the Gauḍīyas, who therefore avoided his name and works. This is another highly speculative slander that contradicts the respect offered to Prabodhānanda by stalwart ācāryas like Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, Jīva Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī. As mentioned above, the Bhakti-ratnākara explains the factual reason why his name was not often mentioned. First of all, there is no evidence that Vṛndāvana dāsa was speaking about Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī. Secondly, the meanings of the word ‘nāgara’ in Sanskrit and vernacular are different. While in Bengali this word is primarily used in the sense of ‘lover’ and ‘paramour,’ in Sanskrit it is not. In his Bengali translation to the said verse, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī explains that the word ‘nāgara’ means ‘parama-rasika,’ transcendental enjoyer of rasa. It particularly depicts Kṛṣṇa, Who has now appeared in a golden (gaura) form.[16]

There is also an old dispute over the authorship of the Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi, Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta and Saṅgīta-Mādhava, which the Rādhā-vallabhīs claim to have been written by their ācāryas. Recently they have filed a judicial case against the Gauḍīyas who claim that the Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi was authored by the Gauḍīya Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī instead of Hita Harivaṁśa, whom they believe to be the real author. This problem will be solved only when all extant ancient manuscripts are collected and properly analysed. 

[1] Also called Daivakīnandana. He was a disciple of Puruṣottama, a disciple of Nityānanda Prabhu.
[2] This is not the author of Caitanya-bhāgavata. In the Karṇānanda, Yadunandana dāsa mentions two devotees with this name – one was a son and the other was a disciple of Śrīnivāsācarya (17th century AD). 
[3] He was a pujārī in the Govindadeva Mandira in the 17th century. His guru was Haridāsa Paṇḍita, sevādhikārī of the temple and a disciple of Anantācārya, a disciple of Gadādhara Paṇḍita. Vide Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā, 8.54-65.
[4] He was a disciple of Śrī Rāmaśaraṇa Caṭṭarāja, who was the son of Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa Caṭṭarāja and a disciple of Śrī Rāmacaraṇa Cakravartī, both disciples of Śrīnivāsācārya, who was a disciple of Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī.
[5] He was a disciple of Manohara dāsa.
[6] He lived in the first half of the 18th century and belonged to the disciplic succession coming down from Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī and Śrīnivāsācārya.
[7] At the Janmasthāna Śodha Pīṭha, Mathurā, there is a manuscript copy dated 1775 Saṁvat (1718 AD).
[8] Nitya-vihāra is a prominent concept in the Rādhā-Vallabha sampradāya, according to which Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are continuously enjoying amorous pastimes in union, without any scope for separation (viraha).
[9] He was a disciple of Hita Harivaṁśa.
[10] Hindī Bhakti Kāvya meṁ Rasa-bhakti Dhārā aur uska Vāṇī Sāhitya, Vṛndāvana, 1998.
[11] Vide the 7th chapter.
[12] A Hindi book published by Mūlacanda Lāla Gosvāmī in Kolkata, 1920, pages 43-50.
[13] Rādhā-Vallabha Sampradāya: Siddhānta aur Sāhitya, New Delhi, 1958, third chapter, page 104.
[14] Śrī Gosvāmī Rādhā-caraṇa jī: Vyaktitva tathā kṛtitva, Vṛndāvana, 1995
[15] “The girlfriends of Gaurāṅga,” an apasampradāya in which the worshippers consider themselves gopīs and see Caitanya Mahāprabhu as Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana in the form of a paramour (nāgara) enjoyer of the gopīs.
[16] For more on this topic, vide Bhaktisidhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s commentaries on the Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 15.17-32, and the Bengali magazine Gauḍīya, second year, volume II, pages 6-9.