Sunday, December 31, 2023

Syamananda-satakam Release

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Preface by Bhakti Vikasa Swami

We who are privileged to identify ourselves as members of the Madhva-Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya can take pride in being heirs to the legacy of several mighty ācāryas, beginning with Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rūpa Gosvāmī, all of whom were unique and inimitable and who have made lasting contributions to the sampradāya. In terms of his mass preaching exploits, Śrī Rasikānanda Deva remained unparalleled for several centuries until the advent of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda.

It was my great good fortune to bring the glories of Śrī Rasikānanda to the attention of the worldwide Vaiṣṇava community when in 1997 I first published The Story of Rasikānanda, based on Rasika Maṅgala, an extensive Bengali biography by Śrī Gopījanavallabha Dāsa, who, as a direct disciple of Śrī Rasikānanda, was witness to many of the superhuman feats of his Gurudeva. Now, more than a quarter century later, Dr. Baladeva Dāsa has further significantly enriched the Vaiṣṇava world by this publication.

Herein we learn of the calibre of Śrī Rasikānanda’s intimate associates and disciples, and of his unstinting appreciation of them. We gain insights into the exalted level of Kṛṣṇa consciousness that Śrī Rasikānanda constantly experienced and that he communicated to others, and become privy to Śrī Rasikānanda’s deep love for his Gurudeva, Śrī Śyāmānanda Prabhu. A major section of this book consists of Śyāmānanda-śatakam, wherein we learn much about the transcendental characteristics of Śrī Śyāmānanda Prabhu also.

Overall, this is another splendid contribution by Baladeva Dāsa, undertaken with his usual thoroughness and scholarly exactness. Our Gauḍīya ācāryas are inherently glorious, and Baladeva Dāsa is performing important service by revealing their glories to the world, in the form of their writings. May his service, which is particularly but not exclusively focussed on the works of Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, continue to be fruitful for many more years to come.



Introduction by the translator

    Over its five centuries of history, the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition is yet to see preaching accomplishments that surpass the extent of those achieved by Śyāmānanda Prabhu and Rasikānanda Murāri. Together, they are said to have established more than 3,000 temples spread throughout various states in India and propagated a spiritual lineage— the Śyāmānanda-parivāra— that comprised lakhs of disciples, all this in just a few decades during their lifetime. It is difficult to fathom how influential they were in those days, being revered by kings and hooligans alike. Their exploits have been extensively narrated in various hagiographies in Bengali, the most famous ones being Kṛṣṇacaraṇa Dāsa’s Śyāmānanda-prakāśa and Gopījanavallabha Dāsa’s Rasika-maṅgala, which carry the readers through an intense, engaging, and often superhuman series of events from beginning to end. By all accounts, the duo Śyāmānanda and Rasikānanda were adorned with a myriad of virtues and divine charisma that would entice whomever they happened to come across, on occasions, even animals and witches. In corroboration to this, their lives have been a strong and constant source of inspiration for many generations ever since, not only among those who belong to the Śyāmānanda-parivāra, but also among Vaiṣṇavas of all denominations and the public at large. To date, major festivals held in Gopiballabhpur in celebration of their pastimes attract many thousands of visitors. About a century ago, Haridāsa Gosvāmī wrote,[1] “For almost four hundred years, the mahantas of Gopiballabhpur have been worshipped like Vaiṣṇava kings of the kingdom of devotion in Utkala. (…) Their disciples, comprising eighteen royal dynasties, over a hundred zamindar families, and a hundred thousand families of brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, and others, expanded the beauty and prosperity of that kingdom. In the present day Vaiṣṇava world, the Śyāmānandī group is exceedingly powerful.”

Added to Śyāmānanda’s and Rasikānanda’s many qualities is their distinguished scholarship, and it is a great fortune that both of them left at least a few literary compositions, some of which are featured in this edition.

Śyāmānanda Prabhu

    In 1535 AD, just months after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, a boy was born to a couple named Kṛṣṇa Maṇḍala and Dūrikā Devī in a village then called Dhārendā Bāhādurpur, located in the present day Medinipur district. Because the parents were bemoaning the untimely demise of the children they previously had, the boy was named “Duḥkhī” (sad). During childhood, he was very diligent in his studies and was very fond of associating with Vaiṣṇavas. In his youth, he travelled to various places of Mahāprabhu’s pastimes, among which he also visited Ambika Kalna, where he met Gaurīdāsa Paṇḍita’s foremost disciple, Hṛdayacaitanya, who gave him initiation, naming him “Duḥkhī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa,” and engaged him in the service of the renowned Deities of Gaura and Nitāi under his care. In the course of time, with the consent of his guru, he left for an extensive pilgrimage, thus spending several years visiting holy places around India. Once back in his village, with the hope that he would settle down, his father arranged his marriage to Gaurāṅgī Dāsī. It was not long before Duḥkhī decided to return to Kalna, where he would again spend time serving his guru and the Deities. Being very pleased by his service and understanding his mind, Hṛdayacaitanya eventually sent him to Vṛndāvana to study Vaiṣṇava scriptures under the guidance of Jīva Gosvāmī. After spending twelve years in Vṛndāvana engaged in devoted service and deep meditation on the pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, one day while sweeping Sevā-kuñja, Duḥkhī found an anklet that belonged to Śrī Rādhā. Lalitā-sakhī appeared before him and requested him to return the anklet, but he insisted that he would only give it in the hand of the actual owner. Śrī Rādhā subsequently allowed him to come to Her presence and touched his forehead with Her anklet, leaving a peculiar mark known as śyāma-mohana. She also declared that he would be henceforth called “Śyāmānanda.” Along with Narottama Dāsa and Śrīnivāsācārya, Śyāmānanda was entrusted by Jīva Gosvāmī to bring copies of manuscripts of all the works of the Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana to Bengal. After decades of vigorous preaching work, Śyāmānanda left this world in 1630. It is doubtful whether he ever wrote anything in Sanskrit, but Bengali and Brajbuli poems attributed to him have been published in a compilation named Pada-kalpa-taru. Manuscripts of a text named Vṛndāvana-parikramā are seen in a few libraries.

Rasikānanda Gosvāmī

    Also known as Rasika Murāri, Rasikānanda was born in 1590 AD in Rohiṇī, a village by the bank of the River Subarnarekha in the southern side of the present-day Medinipur district. His mother was Bhavānī Devī and his father was Acyutānanda, a rich landlord and ruler of that region. In his early youth, Rasika was married to Icchā Devī. Both would be later initiated by Śyāmānanda, who on that occasion named her “Śyāma Dāsī.” From then on, Rasikānanda would become his leading disciple and travel multiple times in his company during long preaching expeditions and pilgrimages to various places. He was first entrusted with the Deity worship at the Rādhā-Govinda Temple in Gopiballabhpur and later would also be appointed by his guru as the first mahanta of the Śyāmānandi-parivāra, which implied control over all the temples and properties they had acquired. Becoming the chief spiritual master of that line, he had scores of disciples wherever he went. He mysteriously disappeared in 1652 after having darśana in the Kṣīracora Gopīnātha Temple in Remuṇā, without leaving behind mortal remains. A puṣpa-samādhi in his honour is located within the temple complex. He had three sons and two daughters, and their descendants are still managing some of the temples that remain existing. Rasikānanda was celebrated as an accomplished scholar and authored at least a few works in Sanskrit, some of which seem to remain unknown and unpublished. Some vernacular compositions are credited to him.


Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa

    Known as the Gauḍīya Vedānta Ācārya, he was born either at the end of the 17th century or at the beginning of the 18th century in Odisha. At the end of his Śabda-sudhā, he identifies himself as the son of Gaṅgādhara Māṇikya. Nothing definitive is known about his early life before he accepted mantra-dīkṣā from Rādhā-Dāmodara Gosvāmī in Puri. At the end of the Siddhānta-ratnam, Vidyābhūṣaṇa states that his mind was fixed on the philosophy of Madhvācārya, and he acknowledges Pītāmbara Dāsa as his vidyā-guru, from whom he learnt several scriptures. It is not clear whether Vidyābhūṣaṇa ever had any formal connection with the Mādhvas and in which capacity. Although well-known as a celibate renunciant, he is not known to have ever used a sannyāsī title or having ever been referred to by any such title. He played a major role in the religious and philosophical debates that took place in the court of King Sawai Jai Singh II (1699-1743 AD) in Jaipur and was commissioned by him to write at least two works— a Vedānta commentary named Brahma-sūtra-kārikā-bhāṣya, and a text on comparative philosophy named Tattva-dīpikā. Vidyābhūṣaṇa was a polymath and became one of the most prolific Gauḍīya authors, writing at least two dozen texts, some of which seem to be lost. A document dated the fourteenth day of the Bhadra month of Saṁvat 1850 (nineteenth of September, 1793 AD) describes his ceremony of condolence presided by King Pratap Singh (ruled 1778-1803 AD).

It was in those debates in Jaipur that Vidyābhūṣaṇa definitively substantiated the affiliation of the Gauḍīyas with the Mādhva-sampradāya, something that he asserts over and over in his books, including his commentary on the second verse of the Śyāmānanda-śatakam, where he says: śrī-kṛṣṇo nanda-sūnuḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanyākhyayā gauḍe’vatatāra madhva-siddhāntaṁ svīkṛtya hari-bhaktiṁ tatra pracārayāṁ cakāra, “Lord Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nanda, descended in Bengal and became known as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. Accepting the philosophical conclusions of Madhvācārya, He preached devotion to Lord Hari in that land.” It is a matter of concern that individuals who are supposed to represent the Śyāmānandi-parivāra are actively engaged in desecrating Vidyābhūṣaṇa’s works and have deliberately removed the above sentence from their editions of the mentioned book, although it appears in all manuscripts and in the edition published by Haridāsa Dāsa.


    In these four (catuḥ) verses (ślokī) on the essence (sāra) of worship (sādhanā), Rasikānanda briefly summarises the particular mode of spiritual practice to be followed by those in the Śyāmānanda-parivāra. It is doubtful whether these verses have ever been published.


    In spite of his large number of followers, Rasika Murāri’s literary works were scarcely copied and circulated, and some might be lost or still unpublished, as seems to be the case with this poetic composition consisting of twelve verses (dvādaśakam) that depict Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s amorous pastimes (keli) in a grove (kuñja) of Vraja. The theme, the vocabulary, the presentation, the metaphors, the style, and even the chosen metre (śārdūlavikrīḍita) are so consistent with the two works described below that there is simply no scope to doubt that this was certainly written by Rasikānanda, and it indeed befits his name. In a delightful choice of sweet words and expressions, he graphically portrays his personal mode of worship and meditation on the pastimes of the Divine Couple. His descriptions are so vivid that they give the impression that he is merely narrating what he sees before his own eyes.



     In this poem in eight verses (aṣṭakam) in the śārdūlavikrīḍita metre, Rasikānanda glorifies the exalted devotees (bhāgavata) of Lord Kṛṣṇa, particularly those who belong to his extensive group of associates. With heartfelt words, he elaborates on their manifold virtues, which culminate in their unflinching devotion to Kṛṣṇa. By illustrating their enthusiasm and deep absorption in devotional service, Rasika gives a glimpse of the joy and inspiration derived from their association, and at the end, he wishes that the reader may also have the same feelings towards such exalted devotees. 

Fortunately, these verses have been further clarified by a scholarly commentary written by Bhajanānanda Gosvāmī, who belonged to the fourth generation of Rasikānanda’s descendants. His father, Vrajajanānanda Gosvāmī (1657-1721 AD) was one the fourth mahanta in Gopiballabhpur, and the latter’s father, Nayanānanda Gosvāmī, was the guru of Rādhā-Dāmodara Gosvāmī, whose most renowned disciple was Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa. This commentary on the Bhāgavatāṣṭakam seems to be Bhajanānanda’s only known composition and it is here translated for the first time.


    In this poem consisting of a hundred verses (śatakam), Rasikānanda pours out his heart while extolling Śyāmānanda, his beloved spiritual master. Being his closest disciple and a skilled poet, no one else would have been as capable as Rasika to bring out a work of this nature, which primarily focuses on Śyāmānanda’s mind rather than his external dealings in the world. His descriptions of Śyāmānanda’s svarūpa as Kanaka-mañjarī are detailed and convincing, suggesting that he would indeed directly see him in that form. Clearly inspired by Jayadeva’s Gīta-Govinda and Rūpa Gosvāmī’s poetry, Rasika outlines similar narratives having Kṛṣṇa as the nāyaka (hero) and Kanaka-mañjarī as the nāyikā (heroine), thus transposing the very mode of meditation practised by Śyāmānanda. Further adorned with depictions of Vṛndāvana, the Yamunā, and the exchanges between Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the text overflows with mādhurya-rasa from beginning to end. 

    Honouring the revered preceptors of his parivāra, Vidyābhūṣaṇa authored an erudite commentary on these verses, shedding light on their most technical and esoteric features, thus leading the readers through various intricacies that would be otherwise easily overlooked or misconstrued. A translation of the complete commentary is being presented here for the first time.

[1] Vaiṣṇava Digdarśanī, Navadvīpa, Bengali year 1332 (1925 AD), pages 172-173.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Vrajaisvarya-kadambini Release


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I am glad to announce the release of the Vrajaisvarya-kadambini, “A Bank of Rain Clouds Pouring Vraja’s Opulence,” yet another publication of the Baladeva Vidyabhusana Project.

In this remarkably sweet and simple work, composed at the request of Sri Krsnadeva Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Sri Vidyabhusana presents an epitome of the tenth canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is here recounted in the author’s words with many vivid descriptions not found there. It includes accounts based on other Puranas, tantras, and Gaudiya texts.

The text is further enriched by an extensive and thus far unpublished commentary by Vrndavana Tarkalankara Bhattacarya, one of Sarvabhauma’s leading disciples. Named Sudha-sara, “The Essence of the Nectar,” the commentary is true to its name, bringing out many aspects of each verse that would be often overlooked by the average reader, and the explanations are backed up by quotes from the sruti, smrti, lexica, treatises on philosophy, poetics, music, and so on.


This edition includes the original Sanskrit text critically edited based on multiple manuscripts, its Roman transliteration, the original Sanskrit commentary, a Sanskrit gloss, an English translation of all of these, and ample footnotes clarifying technical terminology. 


               From its very inception, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism has given bountiful and lofty contributions in the field of devotional poetry. Many of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s followers were not only highly accomplished poets, but they also left behind volumes of works that occupy a distinct place in the history of Sanskrit literature. Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī, Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī, Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, and Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja were some of the luminaries in the literary circle of Vṛndāvana in the 16th century, at the height of what was known as the bhakti-kāla, the devotional period.[1] In the same phase, those who remained in Bengal and Odisha, such as Kavi Karṇapūra and Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, also became renowned for their Sanskrit poetry. There were many other Gauḍīyas who engaged in writing in vernacular, prominently in Bengali, Odia, and Vraj-b­hāṣā. Their works were not at all meant to flaunt mundane erudition, although they lack none of it. Rather, these compositions were internally a deep and intense mode of meditation on the pastimes, qualities, and names of Śrī Rādhā and Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and externally an open glorification to be sung and heard, as emphasised by Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself as the utmost process of spiritual realisation based on the following words of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.3):

jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva

jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām |

sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir

ye prāyaśo’jita jito’py asi tais tri-lokyām ||

               “Even though You are usually unconquerable anywhere within the three worlds, You come under the control of those who, without endeavouring for mere knowledge, remain living amongst devotees while honouring— through body, words, and mind— topics narrated by them, either related to You or related to Your devotees.”[2]

Besides being a prime offering unto Their Lordships, those treatises are also an everlasting legacy to future Vaiṣṇava generations, who can thus closely associate with the authors through their words, in which they share so much of their realisations and ample scriptural knowledge. Indeed, Lord Kṛṣṇa is known as Uttama-śloka, “He Who is praised by choice poetry.” Not to speak of hearing and repeating the words of the scriptures and of the previous ācāryas, Viśvanātha Cakravartī directly endorses the composition of poetry as a process of devotional service: atha varṇayet kīrtayet, sva-kavitayā kāvya-rūpatvena nibadhnīteti vā,[3] “One should also narrate (Lord Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes). Or else, one should write (about His pastimes) in the form of poetry according to one’s poetical skills.” Thus, it is nothing but appalling that some individuals who fancy themselves as Gauḍīyas have been running a campaign to avert others from reading anything written by the previous ācāryas. Such derision is an affront to all of them, particularly to Jīva Gosvāmī, Śyāmānanda Prabhu, Śrīnivāsācārya, and Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura, who so painstakingly strove to distribute the Gauḍīya works far and wide. Their intentions could not have been clearer.

In Gauḍīya texts, readers conversant with Sanskrit will derive a surplus stratum of intricacies and subtleties that are peculiar to the finest poetry, in this case, in the form of bhakti-rasa, a distinct characteristic of the works of Rūpa Gosvāmī and Jīva Gosvāmī, who put their best efforts to establish bhakti as one of the rasas in Sanskrit dramaturgy, which until then were generally considered only eight according to Bharata Muni’s tradition:

śṛṅgāra-hāsya-karuṇā raudra-vīra-bhayānakāḥ |

bībhatsādbhūta-saṁjnau cety aṣṭau nāṭye rasāḥ smṛtāḥ||

               “Conjugal love, humour, sorrow, anger, heroism, terror, disgust, and wonder— these are said to be the eight rasas in dramaturgy.” (Nāṭya-śāstra, 6.15)

Remarkably, such refinement makes Gauḍīya poetry enticing even to scholars who may not be particularly inclined to the devotional genre.

The Text

               Aiśvarya-kādambinī, or Vrajaiśvarya-kādambinī, is the only known work of Gauḍīya Vedāntācārya Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa (c.1700-1793 AD) that is primarily poetical in nature, although he used versification in other of his original compositions, such as the Siddhānta-darpaṇa and the Prameya-ratnāvalī. While he is best known for his commentaries on philosophical works such as the Brahma-sūtra and the Bhagavad-gītā, it is conspicuous that he was thoroughly learned in poetics, as observed in the Sāhitya-kaumudī and Kāvya-kaustubha. Thus, it is quite natural that he would bring forth his own poetry. His command of prosody is also noticeable by the great variety of metres he used here, as seen below. The whole text is an epitome of the tenth canto of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is here recounted in the author’s words with many vivid descriptions not found there. It includes accounts based on other Purāṇas, tantras, and Gauḍīya texts. In some instances, the author may also have been inspired by the Vraja folklore, which is extremely rich and extensive, comprising countless anecdotes and songs whose motifs are centred around the pastimes of Śrī Rādhā, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and the inhabitants of Vraja.

               The word aiśvarya is a derivative noun from the word īśvara, God, the Supreme Lord, and it refers to attributes that exclusively pertain to Him, such as omnipotence and supreme opulence. Here, the focus is His madhuraiśvarya, His sweet omnipotence. In various religious traditions, God is usually portrayed as omnipotent, but this is often illustrated by His ability to create and destroy the universe, to punish the sinful, etc. Although such qualities are certainly encompassed within Kṛṣṇa, while in Vraja, they are mostly withdrawn to give way to an even higher dimension of His omnipotence: His beauty, His sweetness, His attractiveness, His love, His ability to give unlimited happiness to His associates, and so on. All these constitute His sweet omnipotence, which is fully manifest only in His interactions with the inhabitants of Vraja. The word kādambinī means “a bank of rainy clouds.” Through a poetical simile given at the end of the text (7.15), the author explains that the lotus-like hearts of the devotees are drying up due to the feeling of separation from Kṛṣṇa, a distress compared to the scorching heat of the summer sun, which is aggravated by the paucity of narrations about Him. Each chapter of this book is thus compared to a shower (vṛṣṭi) of topics about Kṛṣṇa in the hope that those afflicted devotees will recover their bodily lustre, just like lotus flowers during the monsoon.

               This is one of Vidyābhūṣaṇa’s shortest works, and he concludes the text specifying its extension in the following words:

aiśvarya-pūrveyam apūrva-parvā

kādambinī nanda-sutāvalambā|

bhūyād viyat-sindhu-śaśāṅka-saṁkhyā

satāṁ priyā tac-caraṇāśritānām||

               “This Aiśvarya-kādambinī, whose number of verses is 140, has for its basis Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nanda Mahārāja, and it brings about an unprecedented festival. May it be pleasing to the devotees who have taken shelter at His feet.”[4]

Curiously, the verses in all the manuscripts are numbered, and their aggregate amounts to 137 verses, which is also consistent with the way the commentator analysed, interpreted the text, and numbered his comments. There are two possible solutions for this puzzle: The first guess is that the author used the round number 140 just to give an approximate idea of the extension of the text rather than a precise number. The second possibility is that Vidyābhūṣaṇa deliberately left a riddle to be deciphered by scholarly readers. The problem with the first theory is that it sounds somewhat superfluous to use a round number for a denomination relatively so small, and it would not be an arduous task to find a vocabulary to express the intended exact number and at the same time fit the metre of the verse. The problem with this second theory is that the commentator simply corroborates the number 140 and leaves it there, while it is more than expected that he would have given at least a hint to a possible brainteaser, unless he is with the author in testing the readers. In any case, this puzzle can indeed be solved by dividing the verses in a different way according to the rules of prosody. The following varieties of metres have been used throughout the book:

Even Metres (sama-vṛtta)

Jatu (5 syllables) 7.2, 7.3

Saṁhatikā (10 syllables) 6.3, 6.42, 6.43, 6.44

Bhujagahāriṇī (11 syllables) 4.11

Īhāmṛgī (11 syllables) 2.7, 3.8

Indravajrā (11 syllables) 3.10, 7.5

Kanakamañjarī (11 syllables) 4.5

Rathoddhatā (11 syllables) 4.2, 4.8, 6.50, 7.1

Śālinī (11 syllables) 1.4, 2.3, 2.5, 3.1, 3.6, 3.9, 5.1, 5.6, 5.9, 5.10, 5.17, 5.18, 6.2, 6.5, 6.11, 6.12, 6.16, 6.19, 6.47, 6.48, 6.53, 7.13

Saṁśrayaśrī (11 syllables) 5.2, 6.45

Sīdhu (11 syllables) 6.25

Svāgatā (11 syllables) 3.7, 4.12, 4.13, 6.8, 6.15, 6.18, 6.26, 6.46

Upendravajrā (11 syllables) 4.1, 4.14, 5.22

Vātormī (11 syllables) 1.5, 1.9, 2.8, 3.2, 3.3, 5.3, 5.5

Badhirā (12 syllables) 1.10, 6.33

Bhujāṅgaprayāta (12 syllables) 6.13, 6.22, 6.35, 6.36, 6.38, 6.39, 6.40, 6.41

Drutavilambita (12 syllables) 5.15

Pramitākṣarā (12 syllables) 7.9

Mañjubhāṣiṇī (13 syllables) 6.32

Praharṣiṇī (13 syllables) 6.20, 6.21

Rucirā (13 syllables) 5.7, 6.24

Vasantatilaka (14 syllables) 1.8, 2.1, 4.6, 6.1, 6.14

Pañcacāmara (16 syllables) 5.4

Kokilaka (17 syllables) 6.7, 6.9, 6.29

Śārdūlavikrīḍita (19 syllables) 6.23, 6.49, 7.15

Sarasī (21 syllables) 6.31, 6.51, 6.52

Sragdharā (21 syllables) 3.5

Half Even Metres (ardha-sama-vṛtta)

Ākhyānikī 3.11, 4.3, 4.10, 5.19, 5.23, 7.8

Puṣpitāgrā 5.11, 5.12, 5.13, 5.14, 5.16, 6.54, 6.55

Śiśirā 3.4

Viyoginī 6.30, 7.4, 7.10, 7.11, 7.12

Uneven Metres (viṣama-vṛtta)

Bālā 1.1, 5.20, 5.21, 7.16

Jāyā 7.7

Ṛddhi 2.4, 4.7

Śālā 2.2, 5.8, 7.6

Varāsikā 1.2

Moraic Metres (mātrā-chandaḥ)

Āryā 7.14

Aupacchandasika 4.9, 6.27, 6.28, 6.34, 6.37

Gīti 1.3, 1.6, 6.10

Pathyā 1.6

Moraic Even Metres (mātrā-samaka)

               Pādākula 6.17

In addition to these, verse 1.7 has a half even metre in which the first and third quarters conform to Vātormī, and the second and fourth conform to Śālinī; verse 4.4 has a half even metre in which the first and second quarters conform to Vāsantikā, and the third and fourth conform to Upendravajrā; and verses 6.4 and 6.6 have an unidentified variety of the Triṣṭup metre.[5] After analysing the metre in all these verses, it can be observed that each half of verse 5.4 can be a single verse in the Pramāṇikā metre, as both halves are grammatically independent and make different individual statements. The same applies to verses 6.40-41, which can be similarly divided into four verses in the Somarājī metre. In this way, there are three extra verses, and the total amounts to 140.


               There are scores of important books that are widely read but whose background history is totally unknown. It is therefore a matter of joy that both the author and the commentator of the Aiśvarya-kādambinī have shed light on what motivated its composition. Verse 7.15 states:

teṣāṁ tāpa-vimardanāya vimadā śrī-sārvabhauma-prabhoḥ

kāruṇyād uditeyam āśu bhavatād aiśvarya-kādambinī

               “By the kindness of Śrī Sārvabhauma Prabhu, this bank of rain clouds (kādambinī) has now appeared, pouring forth topics of Kṛṣṇa’s omnipotence (aiśvarya) and crushing the pride of opponent philosophers. May it quickly eradicate the grief of those devotees.”

The commentary further elucidates: “This book was brought into existence by the kindness of Śrī Sārvabhauma. Thus, he is its cause. This also indicates that this book is furnished with evidence that was revealed by his kindness. His designations as ‘Sārvabhauma’ and ‘Prabhu’ are due to his being known and influential (prabhu) in all (sarva) places (bhūmi) by dint of his outstanding proficiency in all scriptures and his being an exalted devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa. This is what should be understood here: Vāsudeva Sārvabhauma, the best amongst logicians, who was very eloquent and was revered by Gajapati Pratāparudra, and whom Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu persuaded to accept devotional service, once again appeared in the holy abode of Navadvīpa, desiring to propagate devotion and to smash all misleading philosophies. Being known as Kṛṣṇadeva Tarkālaṅkāra, he defeated all logicians, retired, and went to Vṛndāvana, where he became submissive at the feet of Viśvanātha Cakravartī. At the palace of King Sawai Jai Singh II, he defeated hundreds of dissident scholars and made the king become exclusively devoted to Govinda. In his assembly hall full of many kings and hosts of scholars, King Jai Singh named him ‘Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya’ and presented him with two pieces of cloth to honour him. This magnificent soul and foremost learned scholar taught the esoteric meanings of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to Vidyābhūṣaṇa and requested him to narrate Lord Hari’s sweet omnipotence. Being thus requested by him, Vidyābhūṣaṇa in due time described the topic in detail.”

               In other words, it appears that Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma was morose because of the scarcity of fresh literature centred around the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa in those days, and thus he requested Vidyābhūṣaṇa to fill this gap, knowing well how capable he was. Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya was a prominent śikṣā disciple of Viśvanātha Cakravartī and a descendant of Jagannātha Cakravartī (Māmu Ṭhākura). Documentary evidence suggests that Bhaṭṭācārya had been initiated in the Advaita-parivāra.[6] According to Gopāla Kavi’s (19th century AD) Vṛndāvana-dhāmānurāgāvalī (chap.62), Sārvabhauma had vowed to take dīkṣā only from someone who could defeat him in a debate, which happened when he met Viśvanātha. Sārvabhauma’s name is mentioned amongst five of Cakravartī’s disciples in a document dated Saṁvat 1769 (1712 AD) in connection with the Gokulānandajī Kuñja at Rādhā-kuṇḍa.[7] Soon after, he settled in Amber (present Jaipur) and was the mahanta of the Rādhā-Vinodī Lāl Temple for over three decades.[8] A document dated Saṁvat 1773 (1716 AD) records a grant he received from King Sawai Jai Singh II (1688-1743 AD) to be used in the service of the deity.[9] He also played an important role in the Jaipur debates, and ample documentation corroborates his relationship with the King, who commissioned him to compose several treatises, such as Bhakti-vivṛti, Karma-vivṛti, Jñāna-vivaraṇa, Bhakti-phala-viveka, and Siddhāntaikya-prakāśikā, all of which are part of the Khasmohor Collection, preserved at the Mahārāja Sawai Mān Singh II Museum in the City Palace in Jaipur. Most of these works seem to have been written between 1719 and 1723 AD. His best known book is the Padāṅka-dūtam, whose earliest known manuscript is dated Śakābda 1645 (1723 AD).[10] Commentaries on various works of Viśvanātha Cakravartī, such as Alaṅkāra-kaustubha, Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanāmṛta, and Saṅkalpa-kalpa-druma also have the name “Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma” at the end.[11] Bhaṭṭācārya was a householder, and by 1735 AD, his son Rāmanātha Deva Śarmā was already sharing some of his duties. Kṛṣṇadeva Bhaṭṭācārya passed away either in the mid or late 1740s, as a document[12] dated Saṁvat 1802 (1749 AD) describes that after his demise, his grandson, Vṛndāvana Bhaṭṭācārya, claimed the same grant that had been previously given to his grandfather.

               Based on the above dates, as well as the available manuscripts, the Aiśvarya-kādambinī may have been written in the 1740s. There is no indication that the text was completed in Kṛṣṇadeva’s lifetime, despite his acknowledgement. If it was, it should have been in the early 1740s. Yet in this case, it is very likely that Sawai Jai Singh II would have been given a copy. A manuscript of the text without a commentary is found in the collection of the City Palace Library in Jaipur, but it does not belong to the Khasmohor Collection, Jai Singh’s personal library. This is a hint that the text might have been written after his demise in 1743. Kṛṣṇadeva too passed away shortly, so there is a possibility that the book was a posthumous tribute.

It is worth noting how over a century later, in the Navadvīpa-māhātmya (1.4.63-64), Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura would directly corroborate the previous identity of Vidyābhūṣaṇa, and indirectly, that of Kṛṣṇadeva too: “Being related to Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, Gopīnāthācārya heard Mahāprabhu’s explanation of the Brahma-sūtra along with him. By the Lord’ will, in due course of time, he will take birth as Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa and will then be victorious in Jaipur.”

The Commentator

               Vidyābhūṣaṇa commissioned commentaries on several of his works, and this one is yet another instance. This is substantiated by the fact that Dayānidhi, his personal scribe, wrote notes on manuscript ‘jha’ listed below. At the colophon, the commentator identifies himself as Vṛndāvana Tarkālaṅkāra Bhaṭṭācārya. He ends his commentary by acknowledging Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma as his guru, and Rādhā-Vinodī Lāl as his worshipable Deities:



kādambinīṁ vyavṛṇuta prathitaiśya-vṛṣṭiṁ

vṛndāvanaḥ sakala-sajjana-sammadāya||

               “For the delight of all devotees, Vṛndāvana Tarkālaṅkāra, who has the fortune of serving the lotus feet of Rādhā-Vinoda and of having attained shelter at the feet of Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma, has commented on this cloud-like book that pours out the omnipotence displayed by Kṛṣṇa.”

These Deities belonged to Lokanātha Gosvāmī, and to evade Aurangzeb’s onslaught, They were taken from Vṛndāvana to Rajasthan, where They eventually reached Amber in early 18th century. While Sārvabhauma served as the mahanta of the Rādhā-Vinodī Lāl Temple, he engaged several of his disciples in the service of the Deities, among whom was Tarkālaṅkāra.

If the same Vṛndāvana Tarkālaṅkāra Bhaṭṭācārya was also known as Vṛndāvanacandra and Vṛndāvana Cakravartī, then he is credited with the authorship of several works. A commentary on Kavi Karṇapūra’s Alaṅkāra-kaustubha, named Dīdhiti-prakāśikā and dated Śāka 1662 (1740 AD),[13] is signed by Vṛndāvanacandra Tarkālaṅkāra, who identifies himself as the son of Rādhācaraṇa Cakravartī. A commentary on Kavi Karṇapūra’s Ānanda-vṛndāvana-campū, named Sukha-vartinī and dated Śāka 1709, is also attributed to him, and so is a Sanskrit commentary on Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja’s Caitanya-caritāmṛta, dated Śāka 1667.[14] Under his name, there is also a commentary on Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Stava-mālā and Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta, as well as a commentary on Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja’s Govinda-līlāmṛta, named Sadānanda-vidhāyinī. A cross-examination of these commentaries may be required to definitely ascertain whether all of them were factually written by the same person, but in principle, there are indications that this might be the case. As by the end of the Sudhā-sāra (7.13) there is a reference to the Siddhānta-ratnam, which was not composed earlier than mid or late 1750s, it is inferred that this commentary was written after the demise of Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma, and possibly years after the Vrajaiśvarya-kādambinī was written.

Needless to say, Vṛndāvana Tarkālaṅkāra was a learned scholar proficient in multiple disciplines, something that is evident from his commentary on the Aiśvarya-kādambinī, named Sudhā-sāra, “The Essence of the Nectar.” True to its name, it brings out many aspects of each verse that would be often overlooked by the average reader, and the explanations are backed up by quotes from the śruti, smṛti, lexica, treatises on philosophy, poetics, music, and so on. It is not clear whether the author intended this to be the full name of the book or it was so named by the commentator, but at the end of the commentary, we find the name Vrajaiśvarya-kādambinī, which was therefore adopted in this edition.

An important highlight in the commentary is yet another corroboration of the link between the Gauḍīya-paramparā and the Mādhva-sampradāya. While glossing the second verse of the author’s invocation, Tarkālaṅkāra says: ānandaḥ śrī-madhvācāryaḥ. sa evātigāmbhīryāt siddhānta-ratna-pūrṇatvāc ca sindhus taṁ paritaḥ pravardhayan. tad-anvaye svayaṁ dīkṣāṁ gṛhītvā gauḍādi-deśeṣu taṁ pracārayann iti bhāvaḥ, “The word ‘ānanda’ refers to Śrī Madhvācārya, who is himself and ocean on account of his great profoundness and his being replete with jewel-like philosophical conclusions. Lord Caitanya spread such an ocean in all directions, which means that after accepting initiation (dīkṣā) in the disciplic line of Madhvācārya, Lord Caitanya propagated the ocean of knowledge of Madhvācārya in many lands starting with Gauḍadeśa.”


[1] Usually considered to have transpired from 1350 to 1650 AD, but some propound earlier and later dates.

[2] The translation here follows the interpretation of Viśvanātha Cakravartī.

[3] Sārārtha-darśinī on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.39).

[4] For reasons better known to them, the editors of previous editions changed the reading of this verse and interpreted it in a way that is not even remotely close to what the original says.

[5] As the author used these metres, they must have been featured in some treatise on prosody with their specific names. There are multiple works on the topic, and they substantially differ from one another in the number of metres and their definitions. The author himself used several metres here that are not found in the Chandaḥ-kaustubha, on which he wrote a commentary.

[6] Vide Prof. Monika Horstmann’s Der Zusammenhalt der Welt, 3.3.3.

[7] Vrindavan Research Institute, microfilm T1:25.

[8] Nusukha Puṇya, vol. 19 (Tālukā Havelī) p. 249, Rajasthan State Archives.

[9] Nusukha Puṇya, vol. 17, pg. 811, Rajasthan State Archives.

[10] Dhaka University, call number 200(A).

[11] In the introduction of my edition of the Prameya-ratnāvalī, I have debunked the idea that he was also known as Vedāntavāgīśa, the author of the Kānti-mālā commentary.

[12] Nusukha Puṇya, vol. 19 (Tālukā Havelī) p. 248, and vol.17 p. 813-814, Rajasthan State Archives.

[13] University of Tübingen, accession number Ma I 240.

[14] Sanskrit College of Calcutta, Catalogue of Descriptive Manuscripts, X, 41.