“This is Nidhuvan”
We missed this posting from Vishakha Devi, which hearkens back to the second Ekadashi in Karttik, when the disciples and grand-disciples of Ramdas Babaji Maharaj come to Vrindavan to do the kirtan commemorating Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s arrival in Vrindavan nearly 500 years ago. This is so nice I had to cross post it in the hope of giving it a wider audience. Original is on Uddharan Blog
priye svapne dṛṣṭā saridina-sutevātra pulinaṁ
yathā vṛndāraṇye naṭana-paṭavas tatra bahavaḥ |
mṛdaṇgādyaṁ vādyaṁ vividham iha kaścid dvija-maṇiḥ
sa vidyud-gaurāṇgaḥ kṣipati jagatīṁ prema-jaladhau ||
O Beloved! I dreamt I saw a place surrounded by a river. On its wide banks many people danced, just as we do here in Vrindavan on the bank of the Yamuna. They were playing musical instruments like the mridanga, like we do. And I saw a youth, the best of brahmins, with a golden body bright as lightning, drowning the world in a deluge of prema. (Srila Vishwanath Chakravartipad’s Svapna-vilāsāmṛtam, 1, Stavāmṛta-laharī )
Where the trees grow with curving branches, making natural archways and alcoves to hide the Divine Couple’s late-night love games; where the Divine Couple come to take shelter after the Ras; where even now nobody goes after dark for fear of death or madness, because the Divine Couple are still here, still performing their lila, and the Forest will not permit any obstacle to their happiness; where Radha and Krishna come together in heart and mind and every limb. This is Nidhuvan.
Here Sri Banke Bihari appeared to Swami Haridas, first as two swarups. But when the brilliance of Radharani’s complexion and her Love blinded him to Krishna’s presence, they merged to become a single murti. Here a special murti of Srimatiji testifies to a certain secret lila, wherein She took on Krishna’s persona and dress, played his flute, and made him dance like a gopi in the Ras, along with her sakhis like Lalita and Visakha. This is Nidhuvan.
Babaji Maharaj says, Brajer nibhrta kunjer nibhrta kunja, Nabadwip vekata. This is Nidhuvan, This is Nadiya. Radha and Krishna are always separated and never apart – only in this secret of secret Kunjas is this statement made true.
Perhaps it was for that very reason that every year on the last ekadashi of Kartik, Babaji Maharaj would come to Nidhuvan to perform kirtan. Based on four songs by the ancient rasik padakartas of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, the Svapnavilas Kirtan tells the story of Radharani’s unusual dream of one night. The kirtan begins as follows. (Click here to listen to a clip of Sri Ramdas Babaji Maharaj’s Svapnavilas Kirtan in Nidhuvan).
In Babaji Maharaj’s time, too, something happened here which I think is worth mentioning, and which is worth recalling when we sit to relish this kirtan. This story is related in Sri Brajagopal Das Agrawal’s Hindi book on Babaji Maharaj’s life, Mere Dadu – Sri Ramdas Babaji Maharaj. It is also mentioned very briefly in The Life of Love, but Brajagopal Ji’s account is much more elaborate:
“It was around noontime, during a solar eclipse in the year 1922. Babaji Maharaj had just returned from celebrating a Namayajna at the home of Munsif Ramchandra Babu in Raghunathpur. This time he came to bless the city of Bankura with Nam Kirtan. People danced with their arms in the air; the shopkeepers showered candy over the crowd; the women ululated and blew conchells. The kirtan passed through Bara Bazaar, Kiraniganj, Poddarparha… soon they were near the red light district. When they heard the sound of the kirtan, the prostitutes came out to have a look.
“All of a sudden, a gorgeous young woman fell to the ground, grabbed onto Babaji Maharaj’s feet and started wailing. She said, ‘You are my Nitaichand! You have to save this fallen woman, or I will never let you go!’ Far from touching women or wealth, Babaji Maharaj was totally unacquainted with the faintest scent of these. Such a mahatyagi renunciant was he… yet now this voluptuous young prostitute had latched onto his feet. With much difficulty his companions were able to pull her away.
Jagadguru Nityananda’s adbhut prakash Srila Babaji Maharaj’s compassion overflowed. Trembling, with hair standing on end and tears of ecstasy pouring from his eyes, Babaji Maharaj gave mantra to the prostitute, whose name was Nayanatara. Then, saying, ‘Nitai, Nitai!’ he sent her on her way.
But Nayanatara’s story does not end there. Come, let’s hear the rest of her tale. After getting the kripa of a samartha guru, Srila Babaji Maharaj, the very next day she left for Vraja. Whatever she had, she gave away to the other women of her neighborhood. Upon arriving in Vraja, she took bhek (vaisnava sannyas) from Tota Madhavadas Babaji Maharaj of Kusum Sarovar. He arranged for her to stay with an elderly Vaishnavi in Abhiram Kunj, and told his bhek disciple Bhavananda Baba to make arrangements for her Prasad.
Bhavananda had tempered his body and mind through intense discipline and bhajan-sadhan, but somehow Nayanatara made him restless. He kept going to her to bring Prasad by order of his bhek guru Sri Madhavadas Ji – but internally he kept on praying to his diksha guru Srila Babaji Maharaj, ‘Prabhu, please save me from this danger!’
Babaji Maharaj in the form of antaryami heard his plea. It was Kartik. One night as Bhavananda was doing his japa, his heart became restless, and disturbing thoughts overwhelmed his mind. He decided at that moment, that if any impropriety were to occur that night, that he would go to Yamuna before sunrise and give up his life in her waters. As soon as he made that decision, a Vaishnava came and said, ‘Babaji Maharaj has just arrived in Vrindavan. He is sitting in the old mandir of Govindaji and doing kirtan. He’s calling for you. He wants you to come right now.’ Paying obeisance to Babaji Maharaj in his heart, Bhavananda followed that Vaishnava. Seeing Babaji Maharaj’s weeping in kirtan, body trembling and thrilling in bliss, and hearing his voice overflowing with nectar, Bhavananda’s mind became peaceful.
As the sun rose, Babaji Maharaj finished the kirtan and got up. Bhavananda went to him and fell at his feet. Babaji Maharaj said, ‘Go to Nabadwip now. Haridas Das* is waiting for you.’ Upon reaching Nabadwip, Bhavananda lived and performed bhajan in a hut at Prachin Mayapur ghat.
Ten or eleven years passed. It was 1933. Babaji Maharaj was in Vrindavan for the Ras Purnima festival. He performed Svapnavilas kirtan in Nidhuvan. In the course of the kirtan, he described how Shyamsundar told Radharani that he would appear in Nabadwip. [In the words of Radharani], he sang, ‘You are going to leave Vraja? We gopis will die without you.’ Babaji Maharaj spontaneously elaborated,
morA kemone bA~cbo
tomAre virahe ba~dhu kemone bA~cbo
Oh beloved! How can I survive, separated from you?
Nayanatara was in the audience. Hearing Radharani’s sorrowful words, she suddenly fell at Babaji Maharaj’s feet and entered nityalila. Bhavananda heard the news, but nobody heard from him after that. Babaji Maharaj told my Gurudev Sri Gauranga Das Babaji, ‘When Bhavananda comes to Vrindavan, keep him with you.’ Bhavananda came to Vrindavan in his siddha deha, there is no doubt about that. Jaya jaya sri guru, prema kalapataru, adbhuta yahako prakash.
Babaji Maharaj was the very form of sweetness and compassion. He lived the example of ‘Hari in the form of Sri Guru’ by always keeping his eye on those who took refuge in him, protecting them and taking them across the ocean of material existence. Chota Haridas gave up his life and sang kirtan for Mahaprabhu in a divine form. It may be that Bhavananda, too, performed seva for Babaji Maharaj’s abhinnapran Sri Gauranga Das Ji in his manjari svarup – who knows?”
*The famous saint and servant of Gaudiya Vaishnava literature (Haribol Kutir, Nabadwip)
Cross posted from Visakha’s Uddharan Blog
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This is Nidhuvan - Jagadananda Das
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