Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj’s definitive article on Śrīla Gadādhar Paṇḍit’s paramount sacrifice.
Paṇḍit Śrī Gadādhar Goswāmī
Om Viṣṇupād Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj
Translated from a Bengali article
originally published in Śrī Gauḍīya Darśan,
Volume 2, Issue 1, 12 August 1956
Śrī Gadādhar Goswāmī is the highest amongst Śrī Gauraṅga’s intimate associates. As Śrī Rādhikā’s position is, in comparison to all, undisputedly the highest in Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s madhura-līlā, so the special audārya-madhura-rasa in Śrī Paṇḍit Goswāmī’s character is the object of the greatest attraction for Śrī Gaurāṅga in comparison to all present within Śrī Gaura-Kṛṣṇa’s audārya-līlā and His service in audārya-madhura-rasa. The great souls see Śrī Rādhā within Paṇḍit Gadādhar.
Paṇḍit Gadādhar’s appearance is during the summer on Amāvasyā (the new moon) in Jyaiṣṭha, and his disappearance is one month later on Amāvasyā in Āṣāḍh. Paṇḍit Goswāmī’s life is a special offering of silent and complete self-sacrifice to his beloved. Only those who can taste unprecedented joy by appreciating the wonder within the ornament of contradiction in seeing the bag of a beggar on Lakṣmī Devī’s shoulder are fit to appreciate the extraordinary glory of Śrīmat Paṇḍit Goswāmī’s unprecedented personality. From his childhood, he was very simple, quiet, modest, courteous, devoted to the Lord and the brāhmaṇs, and affectionate to friends. Although he is gentle, he is timid; although he is a surrendered soul, he feels offensive; although he is fully realised, he feels inexperienced; and although he is a leader, he is a submissive servant. His attachment to his Lord Śrī Gaurāṅga is such that even the glances of Gaurasundar’s ordinary followers make him hesitant and timid. His mad absorption in his Guru, Śrī Gaura, made him forget his mantra for worship. Even a little faith in Śrī Gaurāṅga attracts his heart from afar, so much so that, as an expression of affection, he accepts insults as praise from anyone who has such attraction. Śrī Paṇḍit Goswāmī’s character is, in gist, like the neglected figure of one who has given away all his wealth and willingly accepted the garb of a beggar.
Śrī Gadādhar’s wealth is not external wealth like the kingdom Hariśchandra sacrificed or the bodies Śibi and Dadhīchi sacrificed. It is not like the nurse Pānnā’s sacrifice of her dear son or the sacrifice of queens like Padminī, who gave up their bodies for the sake of their chastity. It is unlike even Socrates’ sacrifice of his body for the sake of propagating realisation of the soul or Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of his body for the deliverance of the world. For a knower of the soul who is situated in the higher plane, sacrificing the body is a very insignificant notion. Abandoning the wealth of one’s inner body, one’s inherent spiritual wealth, is much more difficult to do. If we can appreciate a liberated soul’s wealth of devotion, and beyond that, the wealth of prema, then only will we appreciate the heartfelt mood within Śrī Paṇḍit Goswāmī’s incomparable gift of the wealth of his heart, and that becomes understandable only by his grace and the grace of his associates. It is not possible for all these esoteric matters to become matters of quick, ordinary understanding. Still, appreciating their importance, we are overviewing them.
Moreover, as the value of a gift is to be ascertained by assessing a gradation between gifts, so the gradation in the worthiness of the recipient of a gift is to be understood. The greatness and result of a giver’s gift will be as great as the gift’s recipient is. According to this conception, there is no comparison to the greatness of both the substance and the recipient of Śrī Paṇḍit Goswāmī’s gift of his heart. This is because the wealth of Śrī Rādhā’s prema is the highest substance, and Śrī Kṛṣṇachandra as the son of a brāhmaṇ (Śrī Gaurasundar) is the greatest recipient of gifts. While discussing this matter, we are remembering the story of Śrī Yājñavalkya. As higher and higher conceptions of the soul were being discussed, and even after the highest conception was introduced, to answer an enquirer’s enquiry about an even higher conception, Yājñavalkya Ṛṣi heavily established the limit of curiosity’s utility.
Although we are unable to realise Śrī Paṇḍit Goswāmī’s greatness, the great souls have preserved their divine understanding of Gadādhar’s identity for us. We, however, as a result of our misfortune, are unable to have faith in that and immerse ourselves in the offence of irreverence. Furthermore, some attribute Śrī Rādhā’s inherent wealth to Nityānanda-Baladev or Dās Gadādhar, fly the flag of their own speculations, become offenders to the Truth, and bar the door to their own perfection (svarūp-siddhi). Some, being unable to understand the nature of Gadādhar’s worship of Gaura-Kṛṣṇa, dress Nārāyaṇ as an enjoyer and invite Him to enjoy, considering that Viṣṇu Priyā’s husband Gaura Nārāyaṇ has an enjoying mentality. When Śrī Kṛṣṇa is adorned with Rādhā’s heart, He is Śrī Gaura, and when Gaura is apart from Rādhā, He is Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Only Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the object of worship for madhura and all other rasas. Forms of the Lord such as Śrī Rāma do not have this qualification. Śrī Gaurasundar, the son of a brāhmaṇ, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Chaitanyadev, the leader of the sannyāsīs, has never and does never talk or otherwise interact with others’ wives in the mood of a debauchee. Seeing, according to that conception, that He enjoys what belongs to others (parakīya-sambhoga) is distasteful (rasābhās); it is an offence; it is contrary to the teachings of the great souls; and it is a wicked misconception. In Śrī Chaitanya-bhāgavat, Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, and the other authoritative works of the great souls, there are no occurrences or allusions to this conception of Gaura the enjoyer (Gaura-nāgara-vād) whatsoever, nor can there be. As a chaste wife, when her husband worships the Deity, serves him by helping with his worship, and at that time does not obstruct his worship by conversing with him amorously according to the customs of matrimony, so in the Pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇachandra when He is meditative and dedicated to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s worship in Śrī Rādhā’s mood—in His Pastimes of worshipping Śrī Kṛṣṇa (Himself) in His form befitting for doing so, Śrī Gaurāṅga—Śrī Gadādhar, Śrī Rādhikā Herself, lives a life of assistance to Her Master, who is dedicated to worship—this form alone is always manifest in Gadādhar. Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are always in the playful mood of Vraja, and Śrī Gadāi and Gaurāṅga are always in the benevolent mood of Nabadwīp. Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa of Vraja’s mādhurya are Śrī Gadādhar and Gaurāṅga of Nabadwīp’s audārya. Their unity is obstructed by thinking otherwise. The common conceptions of practitioners should be abandoned, and the great souls’ path should be strictly followed.
Śrī Gaurāṅga is the Deity of prema. Although Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Deity of prema, because enjoyment is predominant within Him, He does not manifest as the Deity of prema in all respects. Śrī Gaurāṅga, however, situated in the rasas of separation (vipralambha) and benevolence (audārya), is the Deity of prema for even the common conditioned souls. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, as the Deity form of Śrī Guru, eagerly roams from one soul’s door to another to give that Deity of prema to the sinners. Śrī Advaita Prabhu, the Deity of the highest auspiciousness, called the Premāvatār Śrī Chaitanyachandra, brought Him to the earth, and showed everyone the proper path. Śrīvās Pāṇḍit and the other devotees are the assistants and wealth in the God of prema Śrī Gaurāṅga’s saṅkīrtan Pastimes. Śrī Svarūp, Rūpa, Sanātan, Raghunāth, Jīva, and so on, the nectarean streams from the fountain of prema, are enlivening the entire world. (This sinner, cherishing faint hope, is a beggar desirous of one drop of that nectar. The mercy of Śrī Guru and Vaiṣṇava is his only hope.)
Śrī Kṛṣṇa assumed the form of the Deity of prema, Śrī Gaurāṅga, to chant the glory of prema. Understanding that this was possible only by accepting the mood of His beloved, Śrī Rādhā, who is the highest repository of the wealth of prema, He took Her mood. Śrī Kṛṣṇa will, and did, earnestly worship Śrī Rādhā. But in His Gaura-līlā with the devotees, His nature as Śrī Kṛṣṇa, that is, His nature of loving the gopīs and becoming subdued by Śrī Rādhā, manifest fully. Gaura’s love for Gadādhar is extraordinary. But His love’s form was reversed. Kṛṣṇa wore the dress of Rādhā’s mood, and Śrī Rādhā stood destitute. This is Śrī Gadādhar’s form.
During Gaura’s worship of Kṛṣṇa in Rādhā’s mood, after Śrī Gadādhar offered everything to his beloved, Gadādhar’s bare, glorious form reflected into the vision of the eyes that hankered to see it—into the thirsty vision of the Lord’s intimate associates who hanker for intense prema. The object of worship dressed as the worshipper. The worshipper offered to the object of worship even the fountain of his offerings of worship (his heart) and stood in the glorious posture of sarva-ātmā-arpaṇa: offering the entire self. Therein, with the desire of attaining the invaluable wealth of the object of worship’s attraction and love for the worshipper, the followers of Śrī Gaura, under Gadādhar’s guidance, discovered the unprecedented path and result of service to Śrī Gaurāṅga. Gadādhar’s followers tasted Śrī Rādhā’s ecstasy in separation (vipralambha-rasa) in a deeper way.
gadāi-gaurāṅga jaya jāhnavā jīvana
sītāpati jaya śrīvāsādi-bhakta-gaṇa
“All glory to Gadādhar, Gaurāṅga, Nityānanda, Advaita, Śrīvās, and all the Lord’s devotees!”
Hariśchandra: A member of the solar dynasty and king of Ayodhyā mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and other scriptures. To keep his promise to Viśvāmitra of giving the sage whatever he desired, Hariśchandra gave up his kingdom, sold himself, his wife, and his son into slavery, and underwent extreme hardships. Ultimately he served as a slave operating a cremation ground and was forced to demand payment for the cremation of his own son from his wife, who had become the slave of a wicked brahman. When his virtue had been tested to the extreme, the gods appeared with Viśvāmitra and blessed Hariśchandra, his wife, son, and all of Hariśchandra’s former subjects in Ayodhyā with a kingdom in heaven.
Śibi: A benevolent and dutiful king mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and other scriptures whose virtue was tested by the demigods. Once, a pigeon fell into Mahārāj Śibi’s lap and prayed to the king for safety from an eagle who was chasing him. The eagle then came and demanded the pigeon. Mahārāj Śibi, having promised to protect the pigeon, eventually appeased the eagle by agreeing to give the eagle a quantity of his own flesh equal to the weight of the pigeon. As he repeatedly cut flesh from his body and placed it onto a scale, the pigeon again and again outweighed the flesh. Lastly the king put himself on the scale, in effect, sacrificing his life to keep his word and set a virtuous example for his subjects. Seeing this, the eagle and pigeon revealed themselves to be Indra and Agni and blessed Mahārāj Śibi with a place in heaven.
Dadhīchi: a sage mentioned in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and other scriptures who performed austerities, upheld vows, developed a body that was extremely strong, acquired Absolute knowledge, and mastered the chanting of a kavacha (protective mantra) which made him invincible. When Indra and the demigods were threatened by Traṣṭā and Vṛtāsura, they prayed to the Lord for help. The Lord instructed them to ask Dadhīchi Muni for his body and then have Viśvakarmā make a vajra (supernatural thunderbolt weapon) with the body’s bones. At the gods’ request, Dadhīchi discussed the virtue of dedicating oneself to the upliftment of others, began to meditate, offered himself to the Lord, and gave up his body on the spot. Indra later defeated Vṛtāsura with the vajra made from the bones of Dadhīchi’s body.
Pānnā: a nursemaid who served in the royal palace of the Mewar kingdom during the rule of the Rajput Maharana Sangram Singh in the 16th century. She was in charge of caring for the King’s two young sons, Vikramaditya and Udai, and her own son, Chandan, who was the same age as the second prince. After King Sangram Singh died during his battle with Babur, his distant cousin Banbir attempted to usurp his throne. Banbir killed Vikramaditya, and then came to kill the younger prince Udai. Panna heard news of this, hid Udai in a basket, sent a servant to hide the basket in the forest outside the palace, and placed her own son Chandan in Udai’s bed. Banbir soon entered with his sword drawn, and Panna watched as he killed her son, thinking him to be Udai. Panna cremated Chandan and then escaped in the middle of the night with Udai in the basket. She raised the boy in the Jain kingdom of Kumbhalgadh, and when he matured, Panna revealed his identity. He later returned to Mewar, defeated Banbir, and continued the kingdom’s dynasty.
Padminī: the queen of Chittor during the 13th century who was won by King Rawal Ratan Singh in a svayamvara ceremony. The Sultan Alauddin Khilji heard about Rani Padminī’s beauty and decided to acquire her by force for his harem. He came and laid siege upon Chittor. King Rawal Ratan Singh eventually compromised with Alauddin Khilji by allowing him to once see Padminī’s reflection in a mirror. Thereafter Alauddin Khilji kidnapped King Rawal Ratan Singh. Padminī sent a message to Alauddin Khilji that he could take her in exchange for the King. She came to meet Alauddin and the King with a troop of one hundred and fifty palanquins filled with soldiers hiding inside. When she arrived, the soldiers freed the King, and Padminī safely fled back to Chittor. Later, Alauddin returned with a stronger army, and, understanding that defeat was imminent, Padminī and all the women of Chittor committed jauhaur, self-immolation in a massive pyre.
Socrates: a Greek philosopher, who propounded, among other things, the conception that the soul is eternal and that the soul’s needs should take precedent over those of the body. Socrates lived under the regime of a materialistic government, which he openly and profoundly critiqued both in writing and in public. He was considered a social gadfly, and eventually he was arrested on the charges of corrupting the minds of the youths of Athens and introducing new ideas about the divine. During his trial, Socrates openly admitted ‘guilt’, and when he was asked what his punishment should be, he replied, “A lifetime pension and free dinner each day in exchange for the services I offer the city of Athens.” Eventually he was sentenced to death, and though his disciples bribed the guards holding him in captivity, he denied the chance to escape to another state and instead requested that the poison hemlock for his execution be brought to him at once. He chose to die to in this way to show he had no fear of death, compel others to have faith in the immortality of the soul, and demonstrate that spiritual values should take precedence over material ends.
Yājñavalkya: a disciple of Vaiśampāyan Ṛṣi, who was a disciple of Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyan Vedavyās. Yajñavalkya prayed to the Lord in the form of the sun and was enlightened with Vājasaneyī-saṁhitā of the Yajur-veda, which was new to human society. He later taught Janaka Rāja and served as a priest in the Rājasuya sacrifice performed by the Pāṇḍavas under Kṛṣṇa’s direction. His teachings are found in the Mahābhārata, the Upaniṣads, and the Purāṇas.