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VRNDAVANA DASA THAKURA

Page history last edited by Juan Castañeira 11 years, 3 months ago

VRNDAVANA DASA THAKURA

 

Vrndavana dasa Thakura was the son of the brahmana Vaikuntha dasa and his wife Narayani. Sri Narayani devi was the niece of Srivasa Pandita. Srivasa had three brothers who all came from Srihatta to live in Navadvipa. Srivasa's only son died at a very early age.

 

Vrndavana dasa lost his father before he was born. When poverty struck Narayani devi she had no other alternative but to accept work in the house of Sri Vasudeva Datta Thakura. Narayani was entrusted with the responsibility for offering service to the Deity installed by Vasudeva Datta at Mamagachi village. There Srila Vrndavana dasa took his birth and started his education. It seems that the childhood of Vrndavana dasa was spent only at Mamagachi.

 

At the time when Mahaprabhu began to manifest His divine nature in the courtyard of Srivasa, Narayani devi was four years old. Vrndavana dasa describes in the Caitanya-bhagavata that his mother was very dear to Lord Gauranga.

 

"Narayani-devi received the entire remnants of Mahaprabhu's meal. Though she was only an insensible child He bestowed His mercy on her in this way."

 

Also as a result of this mercy, Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura, whose life and soul was Gaura-Nityananda, took his birth from her womb. Gaura-gannodesa-dipika (109) describes he is the manifestation of Vyasa and Kusumapida.

 

narayani--caitanyera ucchista-bhajana

tanra garbhe janmila sri-dasa-vrndavana

 

"Narayani eternally eats the remnants of the foodstuffs of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura was born of her womb." (Cc Adi 8.41)

 

The Gaura-gannodesa-dipika describes that when Lord Krsna was a child, He was nursed by a woman named Ambika who had a younger sister named Kilimbika. During the time of Lord Caitanya's incarnation, the same Kilimbika used to eat the remnants of foodstuffs left by Sri Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That Kilimbika was Narayani.

 

bhagavate krsna-lila varnila vedavyasa

caitanya-lilate vyasa--vrndavana-dasa

 

"Srila Vyasadeva described the pastimes of Krsna in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Vyasa of the pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was Vrndavana dasa. (CC Adi 11.55)

 

Sri Gaura-Nityananda were his life. In his writings he never mentions the identity of his father but frequently speaks of his mother. A devotee of Lord Krsna is celebrated in terms of devotional service rendered to the Lord; thus we know Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura as the son of Narayani. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura notes in this connection that there is no reference to his paternal ancestry because there is no need to understand it. In the introduction of Caitanya-bhagavata, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada states that Vrndavana dasa was born in the house of Malini devi.

 

Just four years before the birth of Sri Vrndavana dasa, Sri Gaurasundara took sannyasa. When Mahaprabhu disappeared, Sri Vrndavana dasa was not more than twenty years old. He received initiation from Sri Nityananda and was His last disciple. Sri Vrndavana dasa visited Kheturi with Jahnava Mata. Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja specifically sings the glories of Sri Vrndavana dasa.

 

Vrndavana dasa acquired a profound command of several theological works which is born out by his own work Caitanya-bhagavata. He was the last disciple of Lord Nityananda at whose command he took up writing the divine sports of Lord Gauranga in Caitanya-Bhagavata. Some of the lyrical poems composed by Vrndavana dasa are found in Padakalpataru.

 

CCUP. 692-693 states as follows: (VV. of Jiva 83-84, Devaki 126, Vrnd. 120-121). Jayakrsna dasa writes that Vrndavana dasa was born at Kumarahatta and lived at Mamagachi. Like the Vaisnava poet Uddhava dasa, Jayakrsna writes that Vrndavana dasa's mother Narayani was a child widow. (Manuscripts no. 1691 in the collection of Bangiya Sahitya Parisat is a Sanskrit translation of Caitanya-Bhagavata)

 

Nrsimha, the seventh descendant from Vasudeva, a contemporary of Lord Caitanya, wrote the Sanskrit work `Caitanya-Mahabhagavata' based on Caitanya-Bhagavata of Vrndavana dasa. Cintaharana Cakravarti wrote about this work based on the mss. preserved in Sahitya Parisad. See Sahitya Parisat Patrika 1342: 2: P. 89. One more copy of this work was collected by Haridasa Gosvami of Navadvipa from the collection of the Thakura family of Daksinakhanda.

 

Caitanya-Bhagavata of Vrndavana dasa stands as a unique store of nectar of the divine pastimes of Lord Gauranga and Nityananda. Deeply immersed in the stream of this nectar, Vrndavana dasa seems to have delivered for other devotees what he himself enjoyed. Being thoroughly dedicated to the task of describing the lila of Lord Nityananda, the size of the book grew larger and Vrndavana was unable to describe the last days of Lord Gauranga. Devotees of Vrndavana were so fascinated by reading Caitanya-Bhagavata that they commanded Krsnadasa Kaviraja to complete what had not been finished by Vrndavana dasa.

 

There is no way of knowing for certain exactly when Vrndavana dasa wrote Caitanya-Bhagavata. One can at best make an attempt to guess the probable date based on the following information: In 1431 Sakabda Lord Caitanya accepted sannyasa at the age of 24 years. For a year preceding that date the Lord performed kirtana at the house of Srivasa and manifested his divine nature. Somewhere within this period of one year the Lord showered His mercy upon Narayani, possibly early in 1431 Sakabda or late 1430 Sakabda. Narayani was then only four years old. It seems that Vrndavana dasa was born when Narayani was about 14 or 15 years old which leads us to conclude that around 1440 Saka Vrndavana dasa was born. In Gaura-gannodesa-dipika 109 Vrndavana dasa is referred to as Vedavyasa. Gaura-gannodesa-dipika was written in 1498 Sakabda which is clearly stated by Kavikarnapura himself. Hence one can conclude that Vrndavana dasa's Caitanya-Bhagavata became fai rly well known before 14 98 Saka. Some think that Caitanya-Bhagavata was written in 1495 Sakabda and some say 1497 Sakabda. But it seems improbable that the book gained wide fame within the span of only one or two years, so much so that in 1498 Saka Vrndavana dasa was recognized as Vyasa himself.

 

According to Ramagati Nyayaratna Caitanya-Bhagavata was written in 1548 A.D. (1470 Sakabda). This seems acceptable. At that time Vrndavana dasa was about thirty years old and when Kavikarnapura described Vrndavana dasa as Vedavyasa, Vrndavana dasa was about 58 years old.

 

It is said that the title of Vrndavana dasa's book was originally Caitanyamangala and was later changed to Sri Caitanyabhagavata. In several places throughout Caitanya-caritamrta, even in the last chapter of Antya-lila, Vrndavana dasa's book is referred to as Caitanyamangala. This clearly shows that until the time of writing Caitanya-caritamrta (Sakabda 1537) the book still was known as Caitanyamangala. Thus the idea that the Vrndavana devotees were instrumental in changing the title does not hol d as it was only after studying and analyzing Vrndavana dasa's work that Caitanya-caritamrta was written at the command of the Vrndavana devotees. Had these devotees already changed the title of Vrndavana dasa's work then Krsnadasa Kaviraja would surely have mentioned that in Caitanya-caritamrta.

 

There is, however, some evidence to refute this idea. In Gauraganoddesadipika, which was written early in 1498 Saka, Kavikarnapura refers to Vrndavana dasa as Vedavyasa. This indicates that at the time Gaura-gannodesa-dipika was written Vrndavana dasa's book was quite well known as Caitanya-Bhagavata.

 

In Caitanyamangala Locana dasa also refers to Vrndavana dasa's work as Caitanya-Bhagavata. Caitanyamangala was written sometime between 1482 and 1488 Saka. It appears therefore that the book Caitanya-Bhagavta which attained fame by 1482/1488 Sakabda was mentioned by Krsnadasa Kaviraja repeatedly as Caitanyamangala, the reason for this is not clear.

 

According to some scholars the title of Vrndavana dasa's work was entitled Caitanya-Bhagavata right from the beginning, but since it is traditional to refer to books which are written in glorification of a particular deity by adding the suffix `mangala' (e.g. Candimangala, Manasamangala), it is natural to refer to a book describing the glories to Lord Caitanya as Caitanyamangala.

Hence Krsnadasa Kaviraja termed the Bengali book by Vrndavana dasa which was written for the glorification of Lord Caitanya as Caitanyamangala (See CCU by B.B. Majumdar)

 

The doubt which arises here is that had Caitanya-Bhagavata been the title of the work right from the beginning and was only popularly referred to as Caitanyamangala then the book of Krsnadasa Kaviraja would have surely contained some reference to this, direct or indirect.

 

It appears from statements of Locana dasa and Kavikarnapura that Vrndavana dasa's work was titled Caitanya-Bhagavata right from the beginning. Unlike Kaviraja Gosvami, who concludes every chapter of Caitanya-caritamrta with the statement "Thus Krsnadasa narrates Caitanya-caritamrta.", Vrndavana dasa did not refer to the title of his book. All the editions of Caitanya-Bhagavata consulted by R.G. Nath, except one, write the concluding lines as "sri krsna caitanya nityanandacand jana vrndavanadasa tac hu padayuge gana" (Vrndavana dasa sings following the footsteps of Lord Caitanya-Nityananda). In the Atulkrsna Gosvami edition of Caitanya-Bhagavata 3rd edition, the concluding verse of the first chapter is written as follows: "Contemplating the lotus-feet of Lord Caitanya, Vrndavanadasa sings Caitanyamangala." In the footnote Prabhupada A.K. Gosvami writes that at the end of each chapter the text varies (stated in other editions noted earlier) in some books. This shows that A.K. Gosvami found the bhanita with reference to Caitanyamangala in all the other chapters although he never repeated this bhanita at the end of any other chapter except the first one.

 

It therefore leads one to conclude that had the bhanita "vrndavana dasa kahe caitanyamangala" been there in the book of Vrndavana dasa right from the beginning at least in chapter one and since the author nowhere in the book specifies the title Caitanya-Bhagavata then it is natural for some to argue that the book was known as Caitanyamangala. The mss. copy of Caitanya-Bhagavata found in Vrndavana possibly had the bhanita of "vrndavana dasa gana caitanyamangala" hence Kaviraja Gosvami mentioned the book as Caitanyamangala throughout his own work. It is also not known whether any other biographer except Kaviraja Gosvami called Vrndavana dasa's work Caitanyamangala.

The lyrical poems composed by Vrndavana dasa show that he was an authority on music also. There are some poems circulated with the name and bhanita of Vrndavana dasa which are not found in any authentic compilations nor do they stand in harmony with the well known views of Vaisnava Acaryas and Gosvamis. These were perhaps compositions of some other Vrndavana dasa and to add literary weight to the work the bhanita of Vrndavana dasa was inserted.

 

Vrndavana dasa was a worshiper of Sakhyabhava.

 

Vrndavana dasa Thakura's Sripat, where his worshipable Deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai are still residing, is at Denur. Denur can be reached by bus from Navadvipa.

 

"O fools, just read Caitanya-mangala! By reading this book you can understand all the glories of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. As Vyasadeva has compiled the pastimes of Lord Krsna in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Thakura Vrndavana has depicted the pastimes of Lord Caitanya. Thakura Vrndavana has composed Caitanya-mangala. Hearing this book will annihilate all misfortune. By reading Caitanya-mangala one can understand the glories or truths of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda and come to the ultimate conclusion of devotional service to Lord Krsna. In the Caitanya-mangala [later known as Caitanya-bhagavata] Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura has given the conclusion and essence of devotional service by quoting from the authoritative statements of Srimad-Bhagavatam. If even a great atheist hears Caitanya-mangala, he immediately becomes a great devotee. The subject matter of this book is so sublime that it appears that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has personally spoken through the writings of Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura. I offer millions of obeisances unto the lotus feet of Vrndavana dasa Thakura. No one else could write such a wonderful book for the deliverance of the fallen souls. (CC Adi 8.33-40)

 

 

 

 

 

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