Srila Raghunath Das Goswami's Exemplary Pastimes
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Jay Om Vishnupad Jagad-Guru Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami
Maharaj ki jay
I am very happy to see you all today by the mercy of Gurudev. I have been very busy today from the morning. I have been to many places for my service, have visited four-five devotees' houses today, I had some job there. I have done much official work. I was at Park Street (downtown Kolkata) at three o'clock, and I thought, "No, I will not go back to Dum Dum Park now. I will go to Panihati." I go there every year to distribute prasadam, to distribute many books, so many devotees come there and make a big festival. This year, there is no festival there, it is not crowded at all—the police does not allow any programmes. So, I thought I would go there only to pay my obeisance to Gaura-Nitai Deities. I went there, to the bank of the Ganges, paid my obeisance to Gaura-Nitai, went to the house of Raghav Pandit, the Deities of Raghav Pandit are also there. In that house, Damayanti Devi would prepare so many things for Mahaprabhu and send it with devotees for Mahaprabhu at the time of Ratha-yatra. I also paid my obeisance at the samadhi of Raghav Pandit, then I came back here. I returned about an hour ago.
Although I have been busy all day today, I told in the morning that I would give a programme today and see all the devotees because today is an important day. Nityananda Prabhu's mercy, that is non-different from Gurudev's mercy, is very important, it is necessary for devotees. But for Nityananda Prabhu's mercy, Das Goswami Prabhu would not have got the service of Mahaprabhu, he would not have reached Mahaprabhu. This is an example for all of us in our lives. That is why we remember this day very much, it is a very important day. Every year on this day, all devotees must make some festival—big or small, but they must offer to the Deities some flat rice with mango, bananas, and other fruits, and take a little of that prasadam.
This festival is called "danda-mahotsav." "Danda" means punishment, which means that on this day Srila Raghunath Das Goswami got punishment from Nityananda Prabhu. Actually, it was not punishment—it was Nityananda Prabhu's mercy. When Raghunath Das Goswami Prabhu came to Nityananda Prabhu, Nityananda Prabhu told him, "Ai, chora, ai (come here, thief, come)!" "Chora" means a "thief"—it means he had stolen something or had been hiding something. What did he do that Nityananda Prabhu called him a thief?
Actually, at first, Raghunath Das Goswami wanted to go directly to Mahaprabhu. He tried again and again, he went to Mahaprabhu, but he could never stay with Mahaprabhu because there were so many problems, so much bondage would come to him. His family did not allow him to stay and become a sannyasi or a sadhu. Raghunath Das Goswami comes from a very big and rich landlord (zamindar) family, and he was the only son in the family, which means that after his father and uncle died he would be the landlord, the king in that area. That is why his parents did not want their son to become a sadhu, to go to Vrindavan or something like that. They did not agree with it. Raghunath Das Goswami met with Mahaprabhu from time to time. In his childhood, when Sriman Mahaprabhu had just taken sannyas, He came to the house of Advaita Acharya in Santipur, and Raghunath Das Goswami's father took him at that time to Mahaprabhu. From that time when he saw Mahaprabhu, he has become very much attached, very much eager to come to Mahaprabhu and stay with Him, but his parents did not permit him. They arranged many security guards for their son to make sure he would not run away. Mahaprabhu also told Raghunath Das Goswami, "Do not become crazy. Go back to your home. It is not necessary to show to others your false monkey renunciation."
স্থির হঞা ঘরে যাও, না হও বাতুল
sthira haya ghare yao, na hao batula
"Be sensible, go back to your home. Do not be crazy. One reaches the shore of material existence gradually. Do not show your false renunciation to people. Serve accepting material things, but without attachment. Be fixed internally, and behave like everyone else externally. Krishna will rescue you soon."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, 2.16.237-239)
Mahaprabhu told him, "You can serve while living in the family—live in your family but do not show so much interest in family life. You can just stay there, then your parents will calm down, they will be peaceful, and they will not disturb you. One day you will come back to Me."
সে ছল সেকালে কৃষ্ণ স্ফুরাবে তোমারে ।
se chhala se-kale krsna sphurabe tomare
"Krishna will reveal to you how you can come. Who can stop the one who has got mercy of Krishna?"
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila, 16.241)
"When the Lord wants to give His mercy to somebody, then no one can bind them, no one can tie or stop them. One way or another, you will get His mercy."
So, Raghunath Das Goswami stayed in his house, got married, but he was not interested in his wife—he did not even see her properly. He did not take care of anything. His nature was extremely disinterested.
One day, Nityananda Prabhu came to Panihati. Raghav Pandit's house is Panihati, and Raghav Pandit invited Nityananda Prabhu to visit him. So, one day Nityananda Prabhu, together with some devotees, crossed the Ganges, came straight to Panihati and sat there under a banyan tree. (That ancient banyan tree is still there.) He was sitting under the tree, talking with the devotees. At that time, Raghunath Das Goswami got the news that Nityananda Prabhu was in Panihati. He asked his father for permission, "Father, can I go to Panihati? I want to meet with Nityananda Prabhu." His father gave him permission because Raghunath Das Goswami had been staying in the house for many years and had not been showing too much renunciation, etc., so his father did not doubt him—only he told him not to go alone, he told him to take some people with him.
So, Raghunath Das Goswami took some people and came to Panihati by horse. When some devotees saw him coming, they told Nityananda Prabhu, "Prabhu, can You see? That Raghunath is coming!" In that area, there were not so many buildings or houses, and everybody knew Raghunath because both his father and his uncle (Govardhan and Hiranya Majumadar) did a lot of charity—they were very pious people and helped sadhus, poor people, they donated a lot, etc.; that is why they were famous in their area of Adisaptagram and the neighbourhood. So, when Raghunath Das Goswami came closer, Nityananda Prabhu said, "Ai, chora, ai! Come here, thief, come! Today I will give you punishment!" Raghunath Das Goswami paid a full dandavat pranam to Nityananda Prabhu and asked, "Yes, Prabhu, what is my punishment? Please tell me." What was the punishment? Nityananda Prabhu said, "Many sadhus have come here with Me. Give them prasadam. Arrange for some flat rice, yoghurt, sugar, fruit, etc. and feed them." (Now is the season of fruit—there are many kinds of fruit available now, mango, litchi, jackfruit, etc. Nityananda Prabhu told him to arrange for this kind of prasadam for everyone.) Raghunath Das Goswami was very happy—he said, "Prabhu, this is not punishment for me, it is mercy! Yes, I will do everything." Then he started arranging prasadam—there were some shops in the area that sold sugar, sweets, flat rice, yoghurt, etc. Raghunath Das Goswami bought so many things and, together with devotees, he prepared bhog from that. First, they offered two pots of bhog to Nityananda Prabhu and Gauranga Mahaprabhu—Nityananda Prabhu called Gauranga and He came to this festival (only the fortunate souls could see Him there, other than that nobody saw Him). When Nityananda Prabhu took that bhog, then it was distributed to everyone. Thousands and thousands of people came there at that time, and everybody took prasadam and was very happy.
Srila Raghunath Das Goswami made a very big festival—so many people came there that some of them even stood in the Ganges up to their chest and asked for some prasadam. You can see the photographs of the festivals nowadays also—so many people come there, lakhs and lakhs of people, perhaps one-three hundred thousand people. The place there is very small, but so many people come to this festival. At that time also, many, many people came and took prasadam.
When the festival finished, Raghunath Das Goswami again paid his obeisance to Nityananda Prabhu, and Nityananda Prabhu put His foot on his head and said, "Now you can go. Now your bondage is gone, you must go now." After that, at the time of Durga-puja, some one-two months later, he got a chance to leave his family house and then he met with Mahaprabhu. This time, Mahaprabhu told him, "Yes, now Krishna has given you His mercy. Now you can stay here and serve Svarup Damodar. Your name will be 'Svaruper Raghu' (Svarup's Raghu)." (There are many Raghunaths—there is Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, another Raghunath, et. al. so Mahaprabhu told him his name would be 'Svaruper Raghu.') In this way, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu engaged Raghunath Das Goswami in the service of Svarup Damodar.
This is how Srila Raghunath Das Goswami left everything. Srila Prabodhananda Saraswati gives one very nice example. Sometimes, you are going somewhere by train, and suddenly you feel you need to go to the bathroom to pass stool—there is suddenly so much pressure in your stomach; but there is no bathroom, no toilet on the train. As soon as the train stops at some station, you run to the bathroom, and when you finally pass stool or urine, you feel so happy. In the same way, when Srila Raghunath Das Goswami left everything—his family, his land, his landlordship, all his opulence, his kingdom, etc.—he left it all like stool and urine, and he felt much relief after that.
Srila Raghunath Das Goswami left his house in Adisaptagram (Bengal, it is not far from Panihati) and walked all the way to Puri. He walked for twelve days, and all this time he only thought about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and he only took some milk three times during those twelve days. On the way, he would walk all day long, and at night he sometimes would stay in some goshala (cows' house) in some forest or jungle. This is how he passed twelve days until he finally reached Mahaprabhu in Puri. This is how strong was his desire to serve Mahaprabhu.
After that, he stayed in Puri, and when Mahaprabhu and Svarup Damodar left, he was very sad and wanted to commit suicide. He went to Vrindavan to commit suicide, but when he met with Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatan Goswami, he became very happy, he said, "What I have got from Rupa-Sanatan is more than I have got even from Mahaprabhu and Svarup Damodar!" Sivji Maharaj says, "Aham vetti, Suka vetti, Vyasa vetti na vetti va. I know it, Sukadev Goswami knows it, but Vyasadev may or may not know it." Even Vyasadev, who composed Srimad Bhagavatam, who gave his mercy to Sukadev, may not know it, but Sukadev knows it. So, here too we see that Mahaprabhu gave His mercy to Rupa and Sanatan, and Raghunath Das Goswami says that what he had got from Rupa and Sanatan was even more than what he had got from Mahaprabhu and Svarup Damodar. In this way, he stayed with Rupa Goswami and Sanatan Goswami in Govardhan, Vrindavan. You all know that when we go for Vrindavan parikrama every year, we first do Govardhan parikrama, and we visit his bhajan-kutir and samadhi-mandir on the bank of Radha Kunda, at Govardhan. Srila Raghunath Das Goswami Prabhu always prayed, "Nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana tvam (নিজনিকট-নিবাসং দেহি গোবর্দ্ধন ত্বম্): please, give me some place to stay near Govardhan..." and finally he got that place in Govardhan—he stayed on the bank of Radha Kunda and did much service to Vaishnavs, composed so many slokas, etc.
These pastimes clearly illustrate the importance of mercy—without Nityananda Prabhu's mercy, without Gurudev's mercy, we cannot reach our proper destination, we cannot reach the Lord. We cannot come to the Lord without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. This is the main lesson of this pastime.
We can also remember Srila Raghunath Das Goswami's character when he was in Puri. At some point, he would stand at the simha-dvara gate (the main gate) of the Jagannath Temple and wait for somebody to give him some prasadam. After some time, he thought, "No, simha-dvare bhiksa-vrtti—vesyara achara (Cc, 3.6.284). I stand here and wait for somebody to come to give me prasadam, it is not good—I behave like a prostitute!" He left that. Then, he started eating what even Tailanga cows could not eat,
সিংহদ্বারে গাভী-আগে সেই ভাত ডারে ।
simha-dvare gabhi-age sei bhata dare
"All the decomposed food is thrown before the cows from Tailanga at the Simha-dvara gate. Because of its rotten odor, even the cows cannot eat it."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, 3.6.316)
Jagannath prasadam is sold at Ananda Bazaar, and when that prasadam is not sold, after two-three days it becomes rotten and even cows could not eat it. Srila Raghunath Das Goswami would collect that rice, wash it and take it with some salt. Once, Mahaprabhu wanted to taste it—He came to Raghunath Das Goswami and said, "You are eating alone and not sharing with Me!" Svarup Damodar tried to stop Mahaprabhu, "Prabhu, do not take it! This is very rotten rice! It is not suitable food for You!" But Mahaprabhu did not listen, "No, I want to taste it! He is eating alone and not sharing with anyone, but it tastes so nice!" Mahaprabhu showed in this way His affection to Raghunath Das Goswami.
Also, Srila Raghunath Das Goswami's character was such that whenever he saw a Vaishnav he would pay obeisance to them—even if he saw the same Vaishnav ten times a day, he would pay him obeisance ten times. Such was his humility (dainyata). Before he started standing at Simha-dvara, he would also take prasadam at an almshouse where prasadam was distributed to all poor people. At that time, when his father had heard that his son had become a beggar, he could not tolerate it and started sending him much money. He sent him four hundred mudras, it was a lot of money at that time, something like forty lakhs rupees now. What did Raghunath Das Goswami do with that money? He started distributing it—he would give Vaishnav seva and give pranami (donation) to Vaishnavs. When this news reached Mahaprabhu's ears, Mahaprabhu did not like it. He thought that all the sadhus had become excited and were waiting for Raghunath to give Vaishnav seva because they thought they would get prasadam and pranami there, but in this way pratistha (name and fame) would come to Raghunath Das Goswami. Mahaprabhu thought it was not good for him—He also said,
বিষয়ীর অন্ন খাইলে মলিন হয় মন ।
visayira anna khaile malina haya mana
"If you take food that comes from materialistic people, your mind becomes contaminated. When your mind is contaminated, you cannot chant the Name of Krishna."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Antya-lila, 6.278)
"This money comes from a visayi, from a materialist, and if you take prasadam arranged with that money, then your mind, you heart will become dirty—proper Krishna Nam can never exist in a dirty heart."
When Srila Raghunath Das Goswami understood that Mahaprabhu did not like that Vaishnav seva, he stopped it. He told his father not to send him any more money. He understood, "Because of this Vaishnav seva, pratistha is coming to me; I am using this money for my own purpose or for Vaishnav seva, it is not good because this money comes from my father, a visayi (materialist)."
Gurudev also told me once: if a brahmachari who lives in the temple takes money from his father or parents and uses it to buy what he wants, if he buys some food that he likes and does not take prasadam properly at the temple (instead, he goes outside and takes some food here and there), then it is very bad. Bringing money from the family, doing what you like, not taking prasadam—this is not devotional activities. If somebody does this, they will lose their devotion. That is because then some ego comes to the person that, "Oh, I am not taking, not using Gurudev's money—I am using my father's money!" This is what Gurudev told me once, and I understood a very nice thing at that time.
In this way, we can understand that without the mercy of Gurudev, without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, we cannot reach our proper destination—we cannot reach Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or Lord Krishna. This is the main meaning of this festival.
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