Thursday, August 30, 2007


                                                      Nityananda and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Lord GOURANGA (4th Feb.1486---14th June 1533)

Lord Gauranga (Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu)

BySri Swami Sivananda

Hare Krishna Hare KrishnaKrishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare RamaRama Rama Hare Hare

Birth and Parentage

Pundit Jagannath Misra, alias Purandar Misra, a pious Brahmin of the Vaidik sub-caste, had migrated from Sylhet and settled at Nadia or Nabadwip, a city of learned men in the Nabadwip district of West Bengal, situated on the river Ganges, seventy-five miles north of Calcutta. Jagannath Misra's wife was Sachi Devi, daughter of the scholar Nilamber Chakravarti. She also was a pious lady. A son was born to Jagannath Misra and Sachi on the night of the full moon, on 4th February, 1486 A.D., at Nabadwip.
The newborn child was named Viswambar. He was the tenth child of Jagannath Misra and Sachi Devi. The first eight--all daughters--died soon after their birth. The ninth was Viswarup, a son. He abandoned the world at sixteen when he was being forced to marry and entered a monastery in South India. The women, thinking that Sachi had lost many children, gave the tenth child, Viswambar, the bitter name of Nimai (derived from the name of the Neem tree) as a protection against all evil influences. The neighbours called him Gaur or Gaur-Hari or Gauranga (fair-complexioned) on account of his marvellous beauty. Gaur means fair and Anga means body; and they called him Gaur-Hari, because he was so fond of the name 'Hari' that nothing could soothe him, when he cried during childhood, save Hari's name.

Boyhood and Studies

Gouranga studied logic at the school of Vasudev Sarvabhauma, a reputed professor of Nyaya. The extraordinary intellect of Gauranga attracted the attention of Raghunath, author of the famous book on logic called Didheeti. Raghunath thought within himself that he was the most intelligent youth in the world. He thought that he was more intelligent than his teacher Sarvabhauma. Raghunath's one great ambition was that he should be the foremost man of learning in the whole world. But, when he found that Gauranga, though much younger than himself, was more intelligent and learned, he began to lose hope. His heart was filled with fear. Gauranga was at that time writing a commentary on Nyaya. This made Raghunath more nervous. Raghunath wanted to see the commentary of Gauranga. But he doubted whether Gauranga would consent to show it to him. 

Anyhow Raghunath requested Gauranga to show him his commentary on Nyaya. Gauranga readily consented to read it to Raghunath. When they were crossing the river by boat, Gauranga read out his commentary to Raghunath. Raghunath found that Gauranga's commentary was a masterly original exposition. Raghunath's hopes of occupying the first place in the world as professor of Nyaya were blasted. He wept bitterly. Gauranga asked, "Brother Raghunath, what is the matter with you? Why do you weep? I shall console you". Raghunath spoke out the truth: "Brother Gauranga, I have a strong ambition that I should attain the first place in the whole world as a professor of Nyaya. With this hope I have written a book on Nyaya thinking that it will beat out all the existing books. But my hope is entirely gone now, because your book really excels my book. It is concise, clear and original. It is indeed a scholarly production. This is the reason why I wept".
Gauranga also burst into tears. He said to Raghunath: "Is that all? Then do not weep, my dear brother. Nyaya is after all a dry philosophy. I will not be benefited much". He threw the manuscript into the river. From that moment he gave up the study of Nyaya. Look at the magnanimous heart of Gauranga! Gauranga's Nyaya was lost to the world. Didheeti of Raghunath became the first authority on Nyaya.

Gauranga mastered all branches of Sanskrit learning such as grammar, logic, literature, rhetoric, philosophy and theology. He developed marvellous talents. He was a genius. He himself started a Tol or place of learning. He was then sixteen years old and he was the youngest professor to be in charge of a Tol.

Gauranga was kind and compassionate. He was pure and gentle. He was sweet and loving. He was humane and sympathetic. He was a friend of the poor. He lived with them, served them and cheered them. He was very simple in his life.

Death of Gauranga's Father

While Gauranga was still a student, his father died. Gauranga then married Lakshmi, the daughter of Vallabhacharya. He excelled all the Pundits and defeated even a reputed scholar of another province. He made a tour of the eastern region of Bengal and received many valuable gifts from pious and generous-hearted householders. On his return he heard that his wife had died of snake-bite during his absence. He then married Vishnupriya. He entertained pupils and taught them. He became proud of his vast erudition.

A Turning Point in Gauranga's Life

In 1509, Gauranga went on a pilgrimage to Gaya with his companions. Here he met Isvar Puri, a Sannyasin of the order of Madhvacharya, and took him as his Guru. A marvellous change of life now came over Gauranga. He became a devotee of Lord Krishna. His pride of learning entirely vanished. He shouted, "Krishna, Krishna! Hari Bol, Hari Bol!". He laughed, wept, jumped, danced in ecstasy, fell on the ground and rolled in the dust. When he was in an ecstatic mood, he never ate or drank.

Gauranga proceeded to witness the footprints of Lord Krishna in the Gadadhar temple. He stood before the footprints motionless as a statue. He became absorbed in meditation. Tears gushed out of his eyes in continuous stream. His cloth was drenched with tears. He was about to fall down. Isvar Puri rushed forward and supported him. Gradually Gauranga came back to consciousness. He spoke to Isvar Puri: "Oh venerable Guru, have mercy on me. Extricate me from the quagmire of Samsara. Initiate me into the mysteries of Radha's love for Krishna. Let me develop pure Prem for Lord Krishna. Let me drink the nectar of Krishna-prema-rasa".

Isvar Puri then gave Gauranga the ten-lettered Mantra of Lord Krishna. Purva Raga (love springing from a previous cause) dawned in the heart of Gauranga. He always remained in a meditative mood. He forgot to take his food. Tears trickled down his eyes. He swooned sometimes. He muttered again and again, "Lord Krishna, my Father! Where art Thou? I cannot live without Thee. Thou art my sole refuge, my solace. Thou art my real father, mother, friend, relative and Guru. Reveal Thy form to me always". Sometimes Gauranga would gaze with vacant eyes. Sometimes he would sit in the position of meditation. He tried to conceal his silent tears from his companions. Sometimes he was unconscious of his surroundings. Gauranga wanted to go to Brindavan, but his companions forcibly took him back to Nabadwip.


Nitai alias Nityananda was a Brahmin by birth. He took to the ascetic life at the age of twelve. He wandered about in quest of Krishna. He resided at Brindavan for sometime, but could not find out his Krishna. Gauranga took Nityananda to his own house and introduced him to his mother: "Mother, here is another son of yours. He is my elder brother. The lost Viswarup has come back to you now. Take him as your Viswarup". Sachi said to Nitai: "Child, come. Take care of your younger brother. Protect him. He is careless and thoughtless. Now I need not be anxious about him. Sit down, my child. Take your food and be happy".

Nityananda conducted Sankirtan in various places. Nabadwip resounded with Hari Nama. Nitai spent whole nights in singing the praises of Radha and Krishna. Religious processions were frequently arranged in which the devotees, headed by Gauranga and Nityananda, went dancing and singing through the streets or gathered in the courtyards of houses.

Gauranga was an embodiment of love. He lived, moved and had his being in love. His speech was full of love. He radiated love to all. His touch was a magnetism of love. He sang in love. He breathed in love. He walked in love. He showed by practice how God should be loved. He taught little by precept, but more by example. If he simply uttered one word, "You will be blessed with Bhakti", it was quite sufficient to throw a man into Samadhi and fill his heart with Prem (love). Such was Gauranga's power.

When Gauranga passed along the streets and roads, his powerful Prem current influenced and overpowered thousands. They uttered irresistibly "Hari Bol! Hari Bol!" and danced in ecstasy.

Gauranga Becomes a Sannyasin

The learned and the orthodox began to hate and oppose Gauranga. But Gauranga stood adamant. He converted only a few persons. He resolved to become a Sannyasin for their salvation. He thought within himself: "As I must get salvation for all these proud scholars and orthodox householders, I must become a Sannyasin. They will undoubtedly bow to me when they see me as a Sannyasin, and thus they will be purified, and their hearts will be filled with devotion. There is no other way of securing emancipation for them".

So, at the age of twenty-four, Gauranga got himself initiated by Swami Keshava Bharati under the name of 'Krishna Chaitanya', usually shortened into 'Chaitanya'. His mother, the tender-hearted Sachi, was heartbroken. But Chaitanya consoled her in every possible way and carried out her wishes. He bore deep love and reverence for his mother till the end of his life.

Chaitanya was extremely dispassionate. He abandoned all sorts of sensual pleasures as poison. He was very strict in observing the rules of Sannyasa. He declined to grant an interview to Raja Pratap Rudra of Orissa, because it is a great sin for a Sannyasin to see a king. It is as sinful as looking at a woman. If a Sannyasin sees a Raja or a king, gradually he will be attached to the Raja. As the mind has the habit of imitating, the Sannyasin also will begin to lead a life of luxury and have a downfall eventually. That is the reason why a Sannyasin is prohibited from seeing a Raja. Gauranga never saw a woman in the face. He did not allow any woman to approach him. He slept on the ground with bare body.

Gauranga was a great Vaishnavite preacher. He disseminated the doctrines and principles of Vaishnavism far and wide. Nityananda, Sanatan, Rupa, Swarup Damodar, Advaitacharya, Sribas, Haridas, Murari, Gadadhar and others helped Chaitanya in his mission.

Conversion of Jagai and Madhai

Jagai and Madhai of Nabadwip were the most abandoned of sinners and the worst of criminals ever known to history. They were brothers. They were the Kotwals of Nabadwip. They plundered the rich, outraged the modesty of women and committed murders on the slightest provocation. There was no heinous crime on earth which those brothers had not committed. Though Brahmins by caste, they were inveterate drunkards.

Chaitanya and Nitai undertook the serious task of reclaiming the two brothers. Chaitanya proposed to his devotees that they should go to the tent of Jagai and Madhai, doing Kirtan all the way, and then give Hari Nam to them.

Chaitanya and his devotees appeared in the streets and started the Sankirtan. Nitai was at the head of the party. He led the party to the camp of Jagai and Madhai. He then came face to face with the two brothers. Nitai said, "Pray, dear brothers, take Krishna's name and serve Krishna, for He is the Supreme Lord". This exhortation inflamed Madhai, the stronger of the two. Madhai pelted Nitai with the broken neck of an earthen jar and inflicted a gaping wound in his forehead. Blood gushed from the wound. Nitai pressed the wound with both hands to stop the gush. Madhai picked another piece of the same jar and wanted to throw it on the head of Nitai. Jagai caught hold of Madhai's arms and remonstrated with him: "Hold Madhai. You are very cruel. What is the merit of killing a Sannyasin? It will do you no good".

News was conveyed to Gauranga, who was behind in the Kirtan party, that Jagai and Madhai were killing Nitai. Gauranga immediately ran to the spot where Nitai stood wounded. He took his own cloth and wrapped it round the forehead of Nitai to stop the bleeding. He then embraced Jagai for the good he had rendered to Nitai by checking Madhai from attacking Nitai again. Jagai fell down in a state of trance. Madhai was in a state of despair. He lost all power of speech. He prostrated at the feet of Gauranga: "O Lord, I am a great sinner. Have mercy on me". Gauranga asked Madhai to go to Nitai and seek his pardon. Madhai apologized to Nitai. Nitai pardoned Madhai and embraced him. Madhai also, like his brother, fell down in a state of trance.

Afterwards those brothers became holy saints, and as beloved of the world as they were hated and dreaded in their earlier days for their brutality. They atoned for their past misdeeds by going over on their knees in utter humility before everybody who went to the river for bathing and by doing for them all sorts of menial services. They prepared, spade in hand, a bathing Ghat which is still known by the name of "Madhai's Ghat" at Nabadwip.

Talks to Washerman

Gauranga with his companions came to a washerman who was beating the clothes upon a piece of plank. He asked the washerman to say 'Hari Bol!'. The washerman thought that the mendicants had come to beg alms from him. He said to Gauranga, "Oh mendicant, I am very poor. I have nothing to give you. Gauranga said, "I do not want anything from you. Say 'Hari Bol!' at least once". The washerman refused. He thought he would be required to pay something to the mendicant. He said, "I am very poor. I cannot give up beating the cloth in order to utter the Name you have given to me". Gauranga said, "I shall do the beating of the cloth. Please say, 'Hari Bol!'". The washerman said, 'Hari Bol!'. Then Gauranga asked him to repeat the same twice. The washerman repeated twice. Then the fire of devotion started. The washerman repeated the name unasked. He began to dance in ecstasy raising both his hands high.

The wife of the washerman brought some food to the washerman. She saw her husband dancing with uplifted hands uttering: "Hari Bol! Hari Bol!". She also noticed that her husband had no consciousness of his surroundings. She tried to rouse him by calling him loudly but in vain. She was frightened. She ran to the village and said to the relatives and neighbours, "A ghost has taken possession of my husband. Please help me. Drive away the ghost from him". They all proceeded immediately to see the washerman. He was still dancing in ecstasy. They were afraid to go near him. At last a bold man caught hold of the washerman and tried to stop his dancing. He too caught the contagion and began to dance with the washerman uttering, "Hari Bol! Hari Bol!". He embraced the onlookers. They too caught the contagion and danced in ecstasy. The people of the whole village were affected. Gauranga enjoyed the scene for some time and left the place.


Chaitanya, along with his friend Nityananda, proceeded towards Orissa. He preached Vaishnavism wherever he went and held Sankirtan. He attracted thousands of people wherever he went. He stayed for some time at Puri and then proceeded to the South. Gauranga visited the Tirupathi hills, Kancheepuram and the famous Srirangam on the banks of the Cauvery. From Srirangam he proceeded to Madurai, Rameswaram and Kanyakumari. He visited also Udipi, Pandharpur and Nasik. He visited Brindavan. He bathed in the Yamuna and in several sacred pools and visited the various shrines for worship. He prayed and danced in ecstasy to his heart's content. He also visited Nabadwip, his birthplace. At last Gauranga returned to Puri and settled there. He spent his remaining days at Puri only. Disciples and admirers from Bengal, Brindavan and various other places came to Puri to pay their respects to Gauranga. Gauranga held Kirtan and religious discourses daily.

Miracle at Puri

At Puri a miracle happened. During the car festival, the car of Jagannath did not move. All the pilgrims tried their combined strength. It proved futile. The gigantic elephants of the Raja of Puri also failed to move the car. All were in a stage of suspense and dilemma. Gauranga came just then. He pushed the car by his head and the car moved at once. All the pilgrims and devotees rent the air with the sound 'Hari Bol!'.

Conversion of Sarvabhauma

Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya was a great Vedantic scholar. Once Chaitanya went in an ecstatic mood to the temple of Jagannath. He rushed to embrace the image, but fell down on the ground in a deep swoon. The guard was about to beat Gauranga. The learned scholar Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, the minister of King Pratap Rudra of Orissa, removed Chaitanya to his house. His students carried Gauranga on their shoulders and put him down on a clean spot in the house. The devotees uttered loudly the name of 'Hari' in the ears of Gauranga. Gauranga came back to consciousness.

Sarvabhauma thought that Gauranga was a young man without any control of passion and knowledge of Vedanta. He did not like Kirtan and Nritya (dancing). He desired to re-initiate Gauranga. Gauranga humbly listened to Sarvabhauma for many days. Sarvabhauma expounded the following verse in nine different ways. Chaitanya showed his skill in Sanskrit and expounded the same verse in sixty-one different ways. Sarvabhauma was struck with wonder. The verse runs: 

"Atmaramascha Munayo Nigranthapi Urukrame,Kurvanty Ahaitukim Bhaktim Ithambhuta Guno Hari"

"Hari's qualities are so charming that the Atmarama Yogis--though they are Nigranthas (i.e., outside the influence of illusion or Shastraic injunctions)--become contemplative and are attracted by the same into adoring the Urukrama Hari with selfless love and devotion." Sarvabhauma had neither devotion nor realisation. He was only a dry learned Pundit. Gauranga was a great scholar and yet he was humble. He would never indulge in such talks as were calculated to wound the feelings of others. He would never feel a sense of elation if he got victory in his debates. Gauranga eventually converted Sarvabhauma to his faith and criticised his arguments one by one. Gauranga embraced Sarvabhauma. Sarvabhauma fainted in an ecstasy of divine joy. He then rose and danced. He prostrated at the feet of Gauranga and said, "Oh venerable Master! Logic had made my heart as hard as iron. I had no devotion. Thou hast melted me. Salutations unto thee, O powerful Lord!".

Lord Gauranga converted all the leaders of Advaita and the heads of the Vaishnavas who came under his fold. Prakasananda, the Advaitacharya of Varanasi, was also converted. The ministers of the King of Gour were subjugated. Kazi, the Governor, was conquered. The King of Orissa became Gauranga's ardent and devoted disciple. He recognised Gauranga as an Avatara of Lord Krishna.

Healing a Leper

Vasudeva was a humble, pious and good-natured Brahmin. He suffered from leprosy--a loathsome disease. He was forced to live apart from his friends and relatives on account of the abominable stench emitted by his body. He used to pick up the maggots that dropped from his sores and put them back in their place. Vasudeva had extreme compassion and equal vision. He believed that all living creatures had an equal right to live and that he had no right to deprive them (the worms) of their natural food. What a magnanimous soul with a wonderful soft heart!

Vasudeva lived in the vicinity of the temple of Kurma at Jagannath. At night he heard of Chaitanya's arrival in the temple of Kurma. Next morning he proceeded to the temple to see him. He learnt that the Master had left the place half an hour earlier. On hearing this he fell down in a faint from disappointment and sorrow, exclaiming as he fell, "O Lord Krishna, hast Thou forsaken me?".

Chaitanya, who was then passing along the road, heard the cry of Vasudeva and ran towards the temple. He lifted the leper in his arms and embraced him, and lo! the leprosy disappeared and the body became sound and beautiful. Vasudeva said, "Oh Lord! Thou hast embraced me! All people fled from me due to the stench of my body. I came here to pay my respects to Thee and see Thy lotus feet. Certainly I did not come here with any idea of being healed. The loathsome malady taught me to be humble and compassionate and to remember the Lord at all times. But a healthy body will again generate pride and vanity and I will forget the Lord".

Chaitanya consoled him and said, "O Vasudeva! My child! You have the grace of Lord Krishna. You will never again be puffed up with vanity and pride. Lord Krishna has already accepted you on account of your extreme humility and compassion towards all living creatures and even to those worms which fed on your body. Repeat Lord Krishna's Name and save men by making them also repeat Krishna's Name".

Kirtan at the Residence of Sreebas

Pundit Sreebas was a sincere devotee of Gauranga. The first Kirtan party was formed in the courtyard of Sreebas's house. It was there that the Kirtan was usually held. Chaitanya Bhagavata was written by Sreebas's grandson in his house.

There was a grand Kirtan in the house of Sreebas one night. Gauranga and the Bhaktas were dancing in great joy. Now a maid-servant entered the courtyard and made a sign to Sreebas to follow her. Sreebas left the Kirtan and went inside the house. Sreebas's only son was seriously ailing from cholera. Sreebas saw now that his son was in a dying condition. His wife was weeping. Sreebas told her, "Do not weep. This will disturb the joy of our Lord. It is a great fortune that our son is dying when Hari's Kirtan is being done in the house". In a few minutes the soul of the boy left the body. Sreebas joined in the Kirtan and danced in joy. He was not a bit affected. The matter could not be kept secret for a long time. Anyhow it reached the ears of a Kirtanist. He stopped the Kirtan. Another heard the news. He also stopped the Kirtan and wanted to see the condition of Sreebas. Gradually the Kirtanists stopped one by one. Gauranga also stopped the Kirtan and said: "How is it that I do not experience much joy today? Has anything serious happened today?". He looked at Sreebas with a pained heart.

Sreebas replied, "Can I have any danger when the Lord is doing Kirtan in my house?". Another devotee said, "It is true, my Lord, a great calamity has occurred. Pundit Sreebas's son is dead". Chaitanya said, "His son dead! When?". The devotee replied, "He died some six or seven hours ago". Chaitanya burst into tears. He said, "Sreebas, bring the child before me". The body of the child was brought before Gauranga in the courtyard. Gauranga addressed the dead child and commanded him to speak. The boy spoke: "I am leaving this body for a better existence. O Lord, may my soul cling to Thy lotus feet!". The soul again left the body of the child. Gauranga then said to Sreebas and his wife Malinee: "I and Nityananda will take the place of your departed child. Be not troubled. Be not anxious". What a large and sympathetic heart Gauranga had!

Six-Handed Divinity

The followers of Chaitanya regard Chaitanya as a six-handed Divinity. It is said that he showed his form with six hands to Sarvabhauma, Ramananda Ray and Nitai, the first two hands provided with bow and arrow, the second two with a flute in the act of playing upon it and the last two with Danda and Kamandalu (staff and pot). By this manifestation Chaitanya made Nitai understand that he was Rama as well as Krishna.

Jumping Into the Sea

When Gauranga was in a fit of devotional ecstasy, he jumped into the blue sea at Puri. He imagined that the blue sea was the Yamuna. He wanted to join in the frolics of the Gopis of Brindavan. As his body was in an emaciated condition, owing to constant fasts and vigils, it floated on the water and fell into the net of a fisherman. It was night. The fisherman was extremely glad as he felt that the net was very heavy. He thought that he had caught a big Brobdingnagian fish. He dragged the net to the shore with difficulty. He found in the net a human corpse instead of a big fish. He was disappointed. The corpse made a faint sound. The fisherman took it for a ghost or hobgoblin. He was greatly frightened. He slowly walked along the shore with trembling feet. 

Swaroopa and Ramananda, who were searching for their master from sunset, met the fisherman. Swaroopa asked him if he had seen Gauranga Deva anywhere. The fisherman narrated his story. Then Swaroopa and Ramananda hurried to the place where the net was lying. They removed their Master from the net and placed him on the ground. They sang the name of Hari loudly. Gauranga came back to consciousness.

His Last Words

Lord Gauranga said, "Listen Swaroopa and Ramananda Raj! The chanting of Krishna's Name is the chief means of attaining Krishna's feet in the Kali Yuga. Sankirtan of the Name is the supreme healer in the Iron Age. Sankirtan tantamounts to Vedic sacrifice. Sankirtan destroys sins and purifies the heart and creates Bhakti. Chant the name while sitting, standing, walking, eating, in bed and everywhere. The Name is omnipotent. You can repeat the Name at any place, at any time.
"Listen, Swaroopa and Ramananda! I tell you about the mental attitude with which the Name should be recited.

"Hari's Name should always be chanted by him who must be humbler than a blade of grass (which is trodden upon); who is more patient, forbearing and charitable than a tree (which does not cry out even when it is cut down, and which does not beg for water even when scorched to death, but on the contrary, offers its treasure to whosoever seeks it, bears the sun and rain itself but protects those who take shelter under it from rain and sunshine); who, however worthy of esteem should, instead of claiming respect for himself, give respect to all (from a sense of God's immanency in all beings). He who thus takes Krishna's Name gets Krishna-prem".

Lord Gauranga became more humble in spirit and recited the following Sloka:-
"Oh Lord, I ask not for wealth or followers, or for poetic genius. May my motiveless devotion to Thee continue in me whenever I take birth."

Gauranga passed away on the 14th June, 1533.

Chetodarpana Marjanain Bhava Mahadavagni Nirvapanam Sreyah Kairava Chandrikaa Vitaranam Vidhyavadhoo Jivanam; Anandambudhi Vardhanam Pratipadam Purnamrita Swadanam Sarvatmasnapanam Param Vijayate Sri Krishna Sankirtanam.
"Glorified above all is the chanting of the various names of Krishna which cleanses the mirror of Chitta (sub-conscious), which extinguishes the great forest fire of the succession of births and rebirths, which operates like the moonbeam upon the white lily of spiritual well-being, which is the elixir of life of the bride Vidya, which makes the ocean of bliss swell, which gives the chanter the fullest enjoyment of that divine love at the utterance of each word, and which bathes the mind and the senses in divine bliss."--Gauranga


The following translation is copyright of Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, 2004. Used with permission.

Although Lord Chaitanya was widely renowned as a scholar in his youth, he left only eight verses, called Sikshashtaka. These eight verses clearly reveal his mission and precepts. These supremely valuable prayers are translated herein.

1.Glory to the Sri Krishna Sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This Sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.

2.O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.

3.One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.

4.O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth.

5.O son of Maharaja Nanda (Krishna), I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.

6.O my Lord, when will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, and when will the hairs of my body stand on end at the recitation of Your name?

7.O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.

8.I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.


The Festival of Jagannath Mishra

Sampradaya Sun
The Festival of Jagannath Mishra is an observance of the Jata karma samskara for baby Nimai (Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu). Following the fast for Gaura Purnima, which is broken upon the rising of the moon, the next day is held for feasting. On Jagannath Mishra festival day, the devotees meditate upon the Jata karman ceremony. The festival is also known as Anandotsava amongst the Gaudiya Matha devotees.

Srila Jagannath Mishra

Jagannath Mishra was born in the village of South Dhaka in Sylhet (Sylhet). His grandfather, Madhu Mishra, had four sons: Upendra, Rangada, Kirtida, and Kirtivasa. His father and mother, Upendra Mishra and Kalavati, had seven sons: Kamsari, Paramananda, Padmanabha, Sarveshvara, Jagannath Mishra, Janardana and Trailokyanath. (Prema-vilasa, 24). According to the Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, Upendra was Krishna’s grandfather, the cowherd Parjanya, while Jagannath was Nanda Maharaj in Krishna’s Vraja pastimes (Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika 37). Nanda or Jagannath were, in Krishna’s various appearances, Kashyapa, Dasharath, Sutapa and Vasudeva.

pura yashoda-vrajarajanandau
vrindavane premarasakarau yau
babhuvatus tau na ca samshayo’tra
amu avishatam eva devavaditikashyapau
shrikaushalya-dasharathau tatha shriprishni-tatpati

The king of Vraja has become Chaitanya’s father, Jagannath; the queen of Vraja is his mother Sachi. The son of Nanda is Chaitanya Gosai, and Baladeva is his brother Nityananda.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.17.294-295).

The birth of Mahaprabhu

In the Chaitanya Charitamrita, it is also stated that Jagannath Mishra was also known by his title Purandara, which is an epithet of Indra. His wife’s name was Sachidevi. Sachi’s father was Nilambara Cakravarti.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi, 13.59-60)

At first, eight baby girls were born to Jagannath and Sachi, but each of them died at birth. Jagannath then performed a special ceremony to have a son, and not long afterward a boy, Vishvarupa, was born. Vishvarupa is a manifestation of Baladeva and belongs to the same ontological category that is named Sankarshan in the spiritual world. At the age of 12, Vishvarupa took sannyasa, adopting the name Shankararanya. He died in the year 1509 in Pandharpur, in the Solapur district of Maharashtra.

Jagannath Mishra and Sachidevi are eternally liberated companions of Krishna; thus, it is clear that their heart and body are made of pure goodness or the shuddha-sattva. Another name for pure goodness is vasudeva. Krishna is named Vasudeva because he takes pleasure in the spiritual nature and makes his appearance through pure goodness or vasudeva.

In 1486, at sundown on the full moon day of the month of Phalguna, at the auspicious moment of a lunar eclipse, in the midst of an ecstatic hubbub made by the townspeople filling the sky with the joyful sound of Hari! and Krishna!, the women making their uludhvani, and the gods playing on their divine instruments, Gauranga Mahaprabhu accepted Jagannath Mishra and Sachidevi as his father and mother and appeared in the holy dham of Sri Mayapur. It is said that witches, evil female spirits and other powerful demonic specters cannot go near a neem tree. Out of their feelings of maternal love, Sachi and the other women named him Nimai in order that he be protected from any inauspiciousness. Later, when Nimai took the renounced order of life, he was given the name Sri Krishna Chaitanya. Some of the other names by which he is known are Vishvambhara, Nabadwipa-chandra, Gaurahari, Gauranga and Mahaprabhu.

When Sachi and Jagannath saw their child’s face, they forgot themselves in their excitement. Nilambara Chakravarti was a great astrologer and when he examined the constellations at the baby’s birth, he divined that he was to be a king among kings, that he was to possess all virtues, indeed that he was Narayan himself. Jagannath and his entire household were immersed in the ocean of ecstasy upon hearing these predictions. This ocean only increased in fullness as the baby Nimai began to display his childhood pastimes. Whenever Nimai cried, the adults would sing the Holy Names in order to pacify him. When he was only four months old, he started throwing various household articles about, but would only do this until he saw his mother when would lie down and start to cry. Sachi would sing the Holy Names to stop Nimai from crying, and only when he had stopped would she notice the disorder into which the child had put the room. Never suspecting him, she though that it must be some evil spirit whose efforts to harm the baby had failed due to the protective incantations she was always making over him.

When the time came for Nimai’s name-giving ceremony, Nilambara Chakravarti and other learned men in the community called him Vishvambhara, which is thus his principal name, while the women gave him the name Nimai. This latter name was given because neem leaves have a bitter taste and are said to keep death away, and they wished to bless Nimai with a long life. The name-giving ceremony is also the occasion when a child’s tastes and tendencies are tested. Jagannath placed rice, puffed rice, gold, silver and a manuscript of the Srimad Bhagavatam before the child, who ignored everything to reach out for the Bhagavatam. All were delighted by Nimai’s choice. The philosophers amongst them began to say, “Nimai will be a great scholar.” In fact, Nimai wished to show, even at this young age, that the Bhagavatam is the supreme authority in spiritual matters. This is the teaching hidden within this lila.

Nimai’s childhood

As Nimai grew, he began to crawl, giving pleasure to his mother and father and all their neighbors. One day, the child saw the god Sesha in the form of a cobra in the garden. He played with him for a while in the mood of a golden Narayan, and then, like Narayan, he curled up on the coiled snake and fell asleep. When Jagannath Mishra came upon the scene, he feared the worst for the child and started to shout and cry, frightening the beast that slithered away. Nevertheless, Sachi and Jagannath had seen the wondrous form that the child had displayed and became convinced that he was a divine personality.

The neighborhood women found that whenever they loudly chanted the names of the Lord, Nimai would stop crying and start dancing in ecstasy, even rolling about in the dust. So every morning they would surround him and sing the Holy Names. Whether they knew him or not, people would be attracted by his beautiful appearance and would affectionately give him sandesha sweets or bananas. Nimai would take all these sweets and fruits and give them as prasad to the women who sang for him.

When Nimai was able to walk, he would go into the neighbors’ houses and take milk and rice, and if he found nothing to eat, he would break various household items. This naughty behavior is a source of delight for his devotees. On one occasion, as Nimai was playing in front of Jagannath Mishra’s house, two thieves saw that he was wearing valuable ornaments and became greedy. They charmed the child by offering him a ride on their shoulders and then started to carry him away. However, they were bewildered by Vishnu’s illusory power and shortly they found themselves back in front of Nimai’s own home. Frightened by this unexpected turn of events, the two rascals ran away. Meanwhile, Jagannath had been searching anxiously for Nimai. When he saw that his child had returned, he held him tightly to his heart and felt as though his life had also been returned to him.

One day, Jagannath Mishra asked Nimai to bring him a book from inside the house. When Nimai ran to fetch it, Sachi was surprised to hear the wondrous jingling of ankle bells. After Nimai had given his father the book and gone off to play, Sachi was amazed to see that his footprints held the auspicious signs of the flag, the lightning bolt, the elephant rod and the banner. Under the influence of their parental love, Jagannath and Sachi were not able to accept that these were Nimai’s footprints, but took them rather to be the traces of Damodar, their household Shalagrama-shila deity and so they did a special ceremony for him, bathing him, peforming the puja and offering food.

On another day, a Brahmin pilgrim passed through Nabadwip with his deity of the baby Krishna. Jagannath offered him a place to his puja as well as food to cook for an offering. When the pilgrim had finished cooking, he sat down to offer the bhoga to his deity. But as soon as he started meditation on his mantra, Nimai came and began eating the offering. The Brahmin saw this and started to shout in distress. Jagannath Mishra was extremely disturbed by the incident and the Brahmin had to intercede to stop him from giving the child a spanking.

Although the Brahmin did not want to cook again, Jagannath begged him to do so. Before he recommenced preparing the offering. Jagannath took Nimai to a neighbor’s house so that he would not do any more mischief. Once again, however, when the Brahmin sat down to meditate on his Bala Gopal mantra to make his offering, Gaura Gopal appeared out of nowhere and started to enjoy the foodstuffs. The Brahmin again began to shout in frustration, “It’s been ruined. It’s been ruined!” Jagannath was devastated a second time and again wished to punish the child, only to be stopped by his guest. The Brahmin said, “He’s only a child and doesn’t understand anything. It’s not his fault. It seems that it is not my destiny to eat today.”

This time, Nimai’s older brother Vishvarupa begged the Brahmin to try a third time, and so finally, on his insistence, he began to cook again. This time it was quite late at night and Nimai was fast asleep in his room so no one suspected any trouble. The Brahmin waited until the entire household had gone to bed before making his offering, but once again, contrary to all expectation, Gaura Gopal came to consume it. This time, however, he gave the Brahmin a vision of an astonishing eight-armed form, holding not only the conch, discus, mace and lotus in four of his hands, but a lump of butter from which he was taking pieces and a flute which he was playing with the others. When he saw this wonderful vision, the Brahmin fainted.

Mahaprabhu told him not to reveal this lila to anyone. But from then on, the Brahmin remained in Nabadwip and though he engaged in his daily activities as was his wont, would return each evening to Nimai’s house to behold his worshipable lord. Nimai told him, “You have been my servant for many, many births. This very same lila also took place at Nanda’s house in Gokula.”

Nimai’s education

Jagannath Mishra completed the three rituals (samskaras) in which the child’s ears are pierced, his hair is shorn and his education is begun. It took Nimai only three days to learn the entire alphabet and he started to read and write all of Krishna’s names.

The little Gaura Gopal would often ask his parents to bring him birds, even the stars or the moon, and would cry if they could not do so. When they chanted the Holy Names, he would stop crying, otherwise there was no way to quiet him. One day, however, though they repeatedly sang the names of Hari, the child’s tears did not stop flowing. When pressed to tell why he was crying so insistently, Nimai said that though it was Ekadasi, he wanted to eat the offerings which the Brahmins Jagadisa and Hiranya had made to their Vishnu deity. Jagannath was astonished to hear this unusual request, but went to the house of his two friends. He told them the whole story, and they were delighted to give him the offering. When Jagannath brought the prasad home and gave it to Nimai, he finally stopped crying.

Nimai continued his naughty behavior and the males in the community reported it to his father while the girls and women would complain to Sachi. Though Jagannath would be angry and want to punish his child, he would be quite astonished to see him completely calm and free from any guilty demeanor. Both his parents wondered, “Who is this child? Has Krishna secretly appeared here as our son?”

Vishvambhara’s older brother Vishvarupa had been indifferent to material life since his childhood. After studying at Advaita acharya’s school, or tol, he came to understand that the ultimate conclusion of the scriptures was devotion to Krishna. When he was twelve years old, his parents started making arrangements for his marriage, he left home and took sannyasa, taking the name Shankararanya. This event traumatized Sachi and Jagannath, who were greatly pained by their separation from their oldest son. Jagannath was afraid that Nimai too would become indifferent to family life through studying the scriptures, so he stopped his education. Rather that the boy should remain a fool at home than become a scholar only to leave the household! But after this, Nimai started to misbehave again. One day, he went to a place where used and contaminated pottery was thrown and sat down. When Sachi saw this she became angry and told him several times to leave the dirty spot. Nimai answered her in the spirit of the divine philosopher Dattatreya, “How can a fool tell the difference between that which is pure and that which is not? How can the pots that have been used to cook for Vishnu possibly be contaminated? What is more, how can any place be impure if I am there? Ideas of purity and impurity from the karma-kanda have no place in devotion to the Lord. It is just the imagination of people who know nothing but the material world.”

Seeing that the boy would in no way heed her order to leave the unclean spot, Sachi finally dragged him away and made him bathe and herself took a bath. After this she and other members of the community approached Jagannath and entreated him to allow Nimai to resume his studies, which he did.

Some time after this, Nimai’s sacred thread ceremony was held, after which Nimai went out to beg, just as Vamana did. Afterward, Jagannath entrusted him to Ganga Das Pandit, who is none other than the same Sandipani Muni who taught Krishna. Ganga Das Pandit was overjoyed to accept the handsome and virtuous boy Nimai as his student. Nimai would ask him and his fellow students trick questions based on Nyaya and the ensuing arguments would be a source of amazement to everyone.

Jagannath was pleased to see his son take up a disciplined life in which he would bathe daily in the Ganges, perform puja to Vishnu strictly according to the regulations, and offer water to the sacred tulasi plant before finally taking prasad. Nimai would then go to a place where he could be undisturbed and would study alone. Jagannath prayed to Krishna for Nimai’s continued welfare, but at the same time was always afraid that he would come to understand the emptiness of the cycle of samsara and eventually leave home. One day, he had a dream in which he saw Mahaprabhu’s beautiful form as a sannyasi, performing sankirtan while surrounded by his devotees, dancing, singing, laughing, crying. After this he came to believe that it was inevitable that Nimai would one day leave home. Sachi Devi tried to convince him that because he had become so attached to his studies, he would never leave home, but she could not convince him. Jagannath disappeared before Nimai became a sannyasi. On the death of his father, Gaurasundara lamented just like Ramachandra did upon hearing of the death of Dasharath, but at the same time consoled his heartbroken mother.

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Swami Vallabhacharya

Born: 1479 AD - 1531 AD

BySri Swami Sivananda

Vallabhacharya, the founder of the Vaishnavite cult of Rajasthan and Gujarat, was born of Lakshmana Bhatta and Illamma in 1479 A.D. at Champaranya, Raipur, in Madhya Pradesh. He was a Telugu Brahmin and a contemporary of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is regarded as an Avatara of Agni.

Vallabha lost his father when he was eleven years of age. He completed, in his twelfth year, his study of the Vedas, the six Darshanas and the eighteen Puranas at Varanasi. From Varanasi he went to Brindavan. Then he visited all the sacred places in India.

Vallabha attended the court of Raja Krishna Deva at Vijayanagar and defeated all the famous Pundits of the court. The Raja was very much pleased with Vallabha for his genius and learning, showered on him gifts of gold and other wealth, and invested him with the title of ‘Vaishnavacharya’. Vallabha’s fame and influence quickly increased. From Vijayanagar Vallabha went to Ujjain and other places.

Vallabha was married at Varanasi and his wife’s name was Mahalakshmi. He had two sons.
The important works of Vallabha are Vyasa Sutra Bhashya, Jaimini Sutra Bhasya, Bhagavata Tika Subodhini, Pushti Pravala Maryada and Siddhanta Rahasya. All these books are in Sanskrit. Vallabha has written many books in Brij Bhasha also.

Vallabha’s followers have built a temple on the spot of his birth at Champaranya. This temple is very popular and is much visited by them as a place of pilgrimage.

Vallabha spent his last days at Varanasi. He thought that his life’s mission had been accomplished. He went one day to bathe in the Ganges at Hanuman Ghat. There the people saw a brilliant light ascending the sky from the earth. In the presence of a host of spectators he ascended the sky and disappeared. This took place in 1531 A.D. in Vallabha’s fifty-second year.

Vallabhacharya was the exponent of pure Monism or the Shuddhadvaita school of philosophy. Sri Krishna is the highest Brahman. His body consists of Satchidananda. He is called Purushottama. Vallabha’s followers worship Bala Krishna (Vatsalya Bhava). Vallabha laid great stress on Pushti (grace) and Bhakti (devotion). Maha Pushti is the highest grace or Anugraha which helps the aspirant to attain Godhead. Things come out of the Akshara (Satchidananda) like sparks from fire. These are his salient teachings.

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Shri Vallabhacharya was not only a Saint but a great philosopher. Both philosophy and religion are the steps to Reality i.e. God. Actually he was the founder of Pushti Marg. Shri Vallabhacharya’s parents were Brahmin, natives of the Andhra, Region of Southern India.
Shri Vallabhacharya’s father was Lakshman Bhatt and Illamargaru was the mother. Lakshman’s parents had performed ninty-five “Yagnas” and it was informed to him by his “Guru” that the birth of an “Avtar” would take place in his family after having completed hundred Yagnas. With a view to visit the sacred places of North India, Lakshman Bhatt had started from his village with his family members to reach Varansi. He found the place with peace and during his stay in Varanasi, he had performed all five Somayagnas. Here he lived for some time but later, fearing disturbance and violence owing to Muslim ruler called Bahulul Lodi he fled with his family by a certain route which took him back to his native place. On his way to the South, he halted at Champaranya, a forest area in Raipur District i.e. in Madhya Pradesh. The terror and physical strain suffered by her resulted in the birth of the child at Champaranya, two months prematurely. Taking the child to be still-born for it showed no signs of life at first, the parents sadly placed it under a tree wrapped in a piece of cloth and proceeded to the village for rest, and at night they had a dream in which God himself appeared and informed that he had been born as their child which they had thought as dead. Hence they went to the spot and to their surprise they found the divine baby enveloped by fire as its protecting spirit.The blessed mother extended her arms into the fire and recieved the divine baby from the fire. The child was named Vallabh. Later he was known as Vallabhacharya.
Great persons are believed to have been born under extraordinary circumstances and so was the birth of Shri Vallabhacharya. The parents stayed at Champaranya for some days before they returned to Varanasi, when normal condition had once more prevailed.The face of the image of Shrinathji, whose upraised hand had appeared years back, came to light on Mount Goverdhan on the very day when Vallabhacharya was born, and later Shrinathji inspired Vallabhacharya to introduce Seva into Pushti Marg. Thus the birth of Shri Vallabacharya coincided with the Manifestation of the Mukharvind of Shrinathji. Lakshman Bhatt and his family had returned to Varanasi.Lakshman Bhatt himself was a learned man and so he took keen interest in his child’s education. He engaged the best tutors who were well versed in their subjects. His education commenced at the age of six with the study of vedas. Soon at the age of eleven he had surpassed his teachers with his intensive thinking and sharp reasoning.Shree Vallabhacharya used to meditate and talk to his followers in a peacefull surrounding area. There are total eighty four “Baithaks” all over India and they are still regarded with great reverence by the Vaishnavs.
He undertook various pilgrimage tours to various places expanding his teachings and perfecting his doctrines. Unfortunately, his father passed away before long, leaving him, at the age of eleven to the care of his mother. He spent more than fifteen years of his life in pilgrimages. During his trip to Gokarna he was invited by the king of Vijaynagar and he was recieved with warm welcome. Here he started to introduce his views on Vedas, Gita, the Brahma-Sutras and the Bhagvat. The King requested him to settle down but he wished them and proceeded giving them the following message:-“You should all be good and religious person – Not a God fearing man but a God loving man. Speak the truth. Be just and honest to all. Treat all persons equally. Have faith in Lord Krishna and surrender yourself to him. Be charitable and never harm the hungry and the weak. Realize that service to men and animals is service to God”.When he was in Pandharpur, Shri Vitobha told him to adopt (Gruhastha Dharma) i.e. to get married so that the Pushti Marg could be propagated for generation after generation.Shree Vallabhacharya settled down in Varanasi and accepted Mahalakshmi the daughter of a Brahmin called Madhu Mangalam, in marriage after consulting his mother in S.Y.1560.He had two sons. The elder was named Shri Gopinathji born in the S.Y.1568 and the second son born in the S.Y.1572 whose name was Shri Vithalnathji in reverence to Shri Vitobha of Pandharpur, whose incarnation he was believed to be. Shri Vallabhacharya being a great scholar had written innumerable books and his commentaries on Srimad Bhagvata Purana are considered the best.At the age of fifty two he detached himself from the world and started meditating and singing the songs of praise of Shri Krishna. On week prior to his departure from this material world, he took a vow of silence on the Hanuman Ghat in Varanasi at the bank of river Ganges. His two sons requested him to guide them and give his last message. As he had taken a vow of silence, he wrote a few words on sand; which were as follows:- “Listen to my last words. I forsee a time when you will forget God and become engrossed in worldly matters. It is likely that you will become slaves of your passions which will turn you away from the path of Devotion. Instead of rendering service to God which is your primary duty, you will fritter away your time and energy in idle pursuits. But if you follow my advice, God will not forget you. You should believe that Krishna is our God and never slacken your faith in him and then he will surely protect you. You should regard him as the be-all and end-all of your life. Your ultimate good lies in serving him, which should be done with all your heart, mind and soul. Trust in his protection. Remember him always in all thoughts, words and deeds”.
As soon as he ended, Lord Krishna manifested himself visually on the spot and wrote in the form of a verse completing Shri Vallabhacharya’s message and counsel thus:-“If you have faith in me, you will be under my care and protection and will not suffer failure of any sort. Be free from sorrows and anxieties concerning your future, for you are safe in my hands. Only you should love me with the love of Gopis. If you do so then you will surely secure liberation. That is the only mean of union with Me, by which you will regain your original divine nature. Do not give your thoughts to worldly matters. Be devoted to me and render service to “ME” by all the Means at your disposal”.Soon after this Shree Vallabhacharya rose from his seat and entered into the waters of the Ganges singing to himself the song of the Gopis and the Yugala Gita from the Bhagvata, Concentrating his mind on God’s form. And to a brilliant flame in the form of God arose from the water and whisked him away in the sight of thousands of men, women and children who had congregated there to have his last Darshan. This aspect gives him transcendental character to prove that he was not “Prakrutic” (natural) person like us but divine. We also call him as Mahaprabhuji. Hence Vaishnav’s consider Shri Krishna, Shree Yamunaji and Shree Vallabhacharya on equal footings, for this simple reason that all the three are inherently capable of emancipating the souls from the bondage of life and death.

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                  SWAMI   MADHVACHARYA
Swami Madhavacharya

Swami Madhavacharya

                                                               Swami Madhvacharya

Born: 1199 AD at Velali, Karnataka (VijayaDasami Day)
Passed away : 1317 AD
Father : Madhya Geha
Mother : Vedavati  

Sri Swami Sivananda

Madhvacharya was a great religious reformer and an orthodox commentator on the Brahma Sutras and the ten Upanishads. He was born in 1199 A.D. at Velali, a few miles from Udipi in the district of South Kanara in South India. He was a Tulu Brahmin by birth. He was born of Madhya Geha and Vedavati. Vedavati was a virtuous woman. Madhva is regarded as an incarnation of Vayu, the Wind-God. The father gave him the name Vasudeva.

Madhva distinguished himself in physical exercises and field games. He had a wonderful physique. He could wrestle, run, jump and swim. So people gave him the nickname Bhima. Madhva took to the study of the Vedas and the Vedangas and became well-versed in them. He took Sannyasa in his twenty-fifth year. Achyutaprakashacharya initiated him. Madhva was now known by the name Purna Prajna. Achyutaprakashacharya found that Madhva was a brilliant Sannyasin with efficient knowledge in Vedanta and other scriptures. He put Madhva as head of the Mutt in his place. 

Madhva received the name of Ananda Tirtha now. He went on an extensive tour in Southern and Northern India to preach his gospel of Bhakti. He made several converts. He went to Badrinarayan, and soon after his return, he wrote his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedanta Sutras. He built several temples at Udipi, the principal centre of the Madhva sect. Most of the orthodox Madhvas try to go to Udipi at least once in their life.
Madhva had superhuman powers. He performed many miracles. He saved a boat which was caught in a storm. A boat which contained an image of Lord Krishna capsized. Madhva brought back the image from the ocean. During his tour, king Ishvara Deva in Maharashtra asked Madhva to work in building a dam. Madhva noticed that he had been unconsciously working for the king the whole day. Once he stilled the waves of the ocean when he went to take bath.
Madhvacharya is the great exponent of the Dvaita school of philosophy. His Vaishnavism is called Sad-Vaishnavism in order to distinguish it from the Sri-Vaishnavism of Ramanujacharya. 

According to his philosophy, the Supreme Being is Vishnu or Narayana. Every follower of the Madhva school should have a firm belief in the Pancha-bheda—five real and eternal distinctions—viz., the distinction between the Supreme Being and the individual soul, between spirit and matter, between one Jiva and another Jiva, between the Jiva and matter, between one piece of matter and another. The phenomenal world is real and eternal. The worship of Vishnu consists in (i) Ankana, marking the body with His symbols, (ii) Namakarana, giving the names of the Lord to children and (iii) Bhajana, singing His glories. Madhva laid much stress on constant practice of the remembrance of God (Smarana). He says, "Form a strong habit of remembering God. Then only it will be easy for you to remember Him at the moment of death". Madhva pointed out that when the Lord incarnated, no Prakrita Deha or material body was put on by Him. He prescribed a rigorous kind of fasting to his followers.

Renunciation, devotion and direct cognition of the Lord through meditation lead to the attainment of salvation. The aspirant should equip himself with the study of the Vedas, control of the senses, dispassion and perfect self-surrender, if he wants to have the vision of the Lord. These are some of the important teachings of Madhvacharya, the renowned exponent of the dualistic school of philosophy.


Madhvacharya or Anandatirtha (also Poornaprajna) is one of the three great acharyas of Hinduism who interpreted Hindu philosophy as revealed in ancient texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and the Bhagavata Purana.

Shankaracharya (7th century A.D.) preached Advaita or Monism -- "God only is true, this world is an illusion". Ramanujacharya (12th century) preached a blend of monism and dualism. "Since God is the soul of universe, He is real. Hence his creation, i.e., human soul is also real." he propounded. Whereas Madhvacharya believed that the universe is a playfield of God. "Man is only a tool in his hands". For him, world was not an illusion. It was a school, meant to study God's greatness.

Madhva was born on the Vijayadashami day of 1238 A.D. to a pious couple Nadillaya Narayan Bhatta and Vedavati, in a village Pajaka near Udupi ( in present day Karnataka). His earlier name was Vasudeva.

© K. L. KamatGuru Madhvacharya

He was a brilliant child endowed with prodigious memory and could grasp lessons at one sitting. Most of the time he used to spend in sports and games of the period like trekking, wrestling, weight lifting and swimming. hH out beat his contemporaries in all and was known to be fearless. He had a resonant, pleasant voice and people flocked to listen to his chanting shlokas and discourses in the temple.

He had spiritual leaning from a young age and sought his father's permission to become a monk (sanyasin). The parents were very sad because Vasudeva was their only surviving child and they had nobody to look after them in their old age. Hence Vasudeva waited till a brother was born. This brother, Vishnuchitta, performed the duty of a son, and became an ascetic late in life, being initiated by his elder brother. Vishnuchitta is considered a great exponent of Madhva philosophy.

Vasudeva underwent rigorous training under a great guru named Achyutapreksha. But he had doubts about interpretation of earlier scholars on the nature of God. He evolved his own theory of dualism (dwaita) which is also known today as "tattvavada." He undertook country-wide tour of India, from Kanyakumari in the South to Badari in the Himalayas to propagate his teachings. As was the tradition, every new exponent had to give new interpretation to the sacred texts and establish its superiority in the assemblies of the learned.

Vasudeva who by now had assumed the name Madhvacharya succeeded wherever he went due to his clear thinking, oratory, debating skills and earned not only fame, but distinguished disciples as well. Of them Padmanabhateertha from Godavari region, and Narahariteertha from Kalinga region are more famous.
India was having troubled times, not only politically, but on religious front as well. Islam was spreading and Muslim rulers in Delhi were getting firmly rooted. There were squabbles among various religious sects to establish superiority. Madhva's appearance on the scene provided a healing touch to many harassed and confused devotees and his simple and effective way of preaching, helped the real devotees to realize the path of devotion and finally liberation.

"There is one God, the embodiment of positive Divinity. He is "Narayana." He is also Ishwara Brahma, Vishnu, and has many other names. You can address Him by any name." -- he preached.

"This world is God's reflection. Through this reflection only one has to try hard to realize God." -- he exclaimed.

"The entire nature extols God. His existence is evident in the sounds of sea, in the wind in singing of birds and howls of beasts. These all pay homage to God. his existence should be recognized which is possible after self-training." he advised. He gave new interpretation to caste system prevailing during his times. (Actually he was nearer to Vedic seers in this aspect.) The caste was related more to one's nature than his/her birth. Birth was not important to determine caste. It signified one's behavior or nature. A spiritually enlightened chandala (outcaste) was better than an ignorant brahmin." People were drawn to his teachings.

By the time Madhva returned to Udupi he had good number of followers. The installation of Lord Krishna's image in the Udupi temple and establishment of eight mathas (known as the ashamathas) marked his great achievement of this period.

Legend exists that there was a ship-wreck near the town of Malpe when a storm broke. Madhva had a dream that there was an idol of Lord Krishna in the ship and he had to salvage it from the seabed. He got the fisher-folk into the waters and could get the ancient image which he got installed at the temple, which is a great shrine today. As was the practice, establishment of mathas near the temple came up. Not one, but eight in consecutive order! These are Palimar, Admar, Sirur, Kaniyur, Pejawar, Krishnapur, Puttige and Sode, each headed by versatile disciples of the great acharya. The peculiarity of the Ashtamathas is that, the management of these mathas is by turn (paryaya) and each swami or Pontiff has to manage administration for two years. Perhaps the great preceptor evolved his own democratic way of managing complete hegemony over a religious establishment.

Philosopher Madhvacharya

Dwaita philosophy became very popular in the south, west as well as east. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of Gouda (present day Bengal) was highly influenced by dualism, so were many saints of west India. Karnataka has great saints and preachers like Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa who had faith in Madhva tenets. Madhvacharya wrote about forty books including commentaries on Upanishads, Gita, analysis of Mahabharata and Purnanas, and Rigveda. Curiously enough Tantrasara Sangraha, a book on iconography is ascribed to him, as also one on mathematics, proving his versatility. His musical composition Dwadasa stotra is quite popular among Vaishnava devotees.

Madhvacharya had to face a lot of opposition due to his preaching which were quite opposite to established norms of worship and belief. Tradition exists that his commentaries (on palm leaf books) were stolen and destroyed. There is a story depicting his fearlessness in crossing a flooded river, facing armed robbers in a forest and a Muslim king who had no sympathy towards Hindu monks. He spoke to the sultan in Persian, convincing him that his Allah and his own Narayana are one and the same. " We are all citizens of His Kingdom."

At the age of 79, the acharya left for his final pilgrimage from Udupi to Badari--never to be seen again. Madhva Navami is observed in his memory. The temple town of Udupi bears Madhva's memory at every step with eight mathas and innumerable followers, who throng everyday throughout the year.



                SWAMI   RAMANUJACHARYA


Born:( 1017AD - 1137 AD )

Sri Swami Sivananda

In the year 1017 A.D., Ramanuja was born in the village of Perumbudur, about twenty-five miles west of Madras. His father was Kesava Somayaji and his mother was Kantimathi, a very pious and virtuous lady. Ramanuja's Tamil name was Ilaya Perumal. Quite early in life, Ramanuja lost his father. Then he came to Kancheepuram to prosecute his study of the Vedas under one Yadavaprakasha, a teacher of Advaita philosophy.

Ramanuja was a very brilliant student. Yadavaprakasha's interpretations of Vedic texts were not quite up to his satisfaction. Ramanuja pointed out many mistakes in the exposition of his master. Sometimes he gave his own interpretations which were much liked by all the co-students. This made Yadavaprakasha very jealous of Ramanuja.

Yadavaprakasha made a plan to take away the life of Ramanuja. He arranged for Ramanuja and his cousin Govinda Bhatta--a fellow student--a pilgrimage to Varanasi. Govinda Bhatta, being a favourite student of Yadavaprakasha, came to know of the latter's plan while they were travelling. He at once apprised Ramanuja of the danger and helped him to escape. By the grace of God, Ramanuja escaped with the help of a hunter and his wife whom he accidentally met on the way.
About the end of the tenth century, the Visishtadvaita system of philosophy was well established in Southern India and the followers of this creed were in charge of important Vaishnavite temples at Kancheepuram, Srirangam, Tirupathi and other important places. The head of the important Vaishnavite institution was Yamunacharya, a great sage and profound scholar; and he was also the head of the Mutt at Srirangam. One of his disciples, by name Kanchipurna, was serving in the temple at Kancheepuram. Although a Sudra, Kanchipurna was so very pious and good that the people of the place had great respect and reverence for him. At present, there is a temple at Kancheepuram where Kanchipurna's image has been installed and where he is worshipped as a saint.

Young Ramanuja came under Kanchipurna's influence and had such reverence for him that he invited him to dinner in his house. Ramanuja's intention was to attend on Kanchipurna and personally serve him at dinner and himself take meals afterwards. Unfortunately, Kanchipurna came to dinner when Ramanuja was not at home, and took his meals being served by Ramanuja's wife. When Ramanuja returned home, he found the house washed and his wife bathing for having served meals to a Sudra. This irritated Ramanuja very much and turned him against his wife who was an orthodox lady of a different social ideal. After a few incidents of this nature, Ramanuja abandoned the life of a householder and became a Sannyasin.

About this time, Yamunacharya being very old was on the look-out for a young person of good ability and character to take his place as head of the Mutt at Srirangam. He had already heard of Ramanuja through his disciples and made up his mind to instal Ramanuja in his place. He now sent for Ramanuja. By the time Ramanuja reached Srirangam, Yamunacharya was dead; and Ramanuja saw his body being taken by his followers to the cremation ground outside the village. Ramanuja followed them to the cremation ground. There he was informed that Yamunacharya, before his death, had left instructions that he had three wishes which Ramanuja was to be requested to fulfil, viz., that a Visishtadvaita Bhashya should be written for the Brahma Sutras of Vyasa which hitherto had been taught orally to the disciples of the Visishtadvaita philosophy and that the names of Parasara, the author of Vishnu Purana, and saint Sadagopa should be perpetuated. Ramanuja was deeply touched, and in the cremation ground itself, before the dead body of Yamunacharya, he made a solemn promise that, God willing, he would fulfil all the three wishes of Yamunacharya. Ramanuja lived for 120 years, and in the course of his long life, fully redeemed his promise by fulfilling all the three wishes of Yamunacharya.

After the death of Yamuna, his disciples at Srirangam and other places wanted Ramanuja to take Yamuna's place as the head of the Mutt at Srirangam. This was also the expressed wish of Yamuna. Accordingly, Ramanuja took his place and was duly installed with all the attendant ceremonies and celebrations as the head of the Visishtadvaita Mutt at Srirangam.

Ramanuja then proceeded to Thirukottiyur to take initiation from Nambi for Japa of the sacred Mantra of eight letters Om Namo Narayanaya. Somehow, Nambi was not willing to initiate Ramanuja easily. He made Ramanuja travel all the way from Srirangam to Madurai nearly eighteen times before he made up his mind to initiate him, and that too, only after exacting solemn promises of secrecy. Then Nambi duly initiated Ramanuja and said: "Ramanuja! Keep this Mantra a secret. This Mantra is a powerful one. Those who repeat this Mantra will attain salvation. Give it only to a worthy disciple previously tried". But Ramanuja had a very large heart. He was extremely compassionate and his love for humanity was unbounded. He wanted that every man should enjoy the eternal bliss of Lord Narayana. He realised that the Mantra was very powerful. He immediately called all people, irrespective of caste and creed, to assemble before the temple. He stood on top of the tower above the front gate of the temple, and shouted out the sacred Mantra to all of them at the top of his voice. Nambi, his Guru, came to know of this. He became furious. Ramanuja said: "O my beloved Guru! Please prescribe a suitable punishment for my wrong action". Ramanuja said: "I will gladly suffer the tortures of hell myself if millions of people could get salvation by hearing the Mantra through me". Nambi was very much pleased with Ramanuja and found out that he had a very large heart full of compassion. He embraced Ramanuja and blessed him. Having thus equipped himself with the necessary qualifications, Ramanuja succeeded Yamuna.

By this time, Ramanuja's fame had spread far and wide. He became a good controversialist. Then he wrote his commentary on the Brahma Sutras known as the Sri Bhashya. The Visishtadvaita system is an ancient one. It was expounded by Bodhayana in his Vritti, written about 400 B.C. It is the same as that expounded by Ramanuja; and Ramanuja followed Bodhayana in his interpretations of the Brahma Sutras. Ramanuja's sect of Vaishnavas is called by the name Sri Sampradaya. Ramanuja wrote also three other books--Vedanta Sara (essence of Vedanta), Vedanta Sangraha (a resume of Vedanta) and Vedanta Deepa (the light of Vedanta).
Ramanuja travelled throughout the length and breadth of India to disseminate the path of devotion. He visited all the sacred places throughout India including Kashi, Kashmir and Badrinath. On his way back he visited the Tirupathi hills. There he found the Saivites and the Vaishnavites quarrelling with one another, one party contending that the image of the Lord in the Tirupathi hills was a Saivite one and the other party saying that it was a Vaishnavite one. 

Ramanuja proposed that they should leave it to the Lord Himself to decide the dispute. So they left the emblems of both Siva and Vishnu at the feet of the Lord, and after locking the door of the temple, both parties stayed outside on guard. In the morning, when they opened the doors, it was found that the image of the Lord was wearing the emblems of Vishnu, while the emblems of Siva were lying at its feet as left there the evening before. This decided that the temple was a Vaishnavite one and it has remained so ever since.

Ramanuja then visited all the Vaishnavite shrines in South India and finally reached Srirangam. Here he settled himself permanently and continued his labours of preaching the Visishtadvaita philosophy and writing books. Thousands of people flocked to him everyday to hear his lectures. He cleansed the temples, settled the rituals to be observed in them, and rectified many social evils which had crept into the community. He had a congregation of 700 Sannyasins, 74 dignitaries who held special offices of ministry, and thousands of holy men and women, who revered him as God. He converted lakhs of people to the path of Bhakti. He gave initiation even to washermen. He was now seventy years old, but was destined to live many more years, establish more Mutts, construct more temples and convert many more thousands of people.

The Chola king about this time was Kulothunga I and he was a staunch Saivite. He ordered Ramanuja to subscribe to his faith in Siva and acknowledge Siva as the Supreme Lord.
Two of the disciples of Ramanuja, Kuresa and Mahapurna, donned the orange robes of Sannyasins and visited the court of Kulothunga I in place of Ramanuja. They argued there for the superiority of Vishnu. The monarch refused to hear them and had their eyes put out.

The two unfortunate people started for Srirangam--their native place. Mahapurna was a very old man, and unable to bear the pain, died on the way. Kuresa alone returned to Srirangam.

Meanwhile, Ramanuja, with a few followers, by rapid marches through day and night, reached the foot-hills of the Western Ghats, about forty miles west of Mysore. There, after great difficulties, he established himself and spent some years in preaching and converting people to the Visishtadvaita philosophy.

The king of the place was Bhatti Deva of the Hoysala dynasty. The Raja's daughter was possessed of some devil and nobody was able to cure her. Ramanuja succeeded in exorcizing the devil and the princess was restored to her former health. The king was very much pleased with Ramanuja and readily became his disciple and he was converted by Ramanuja into a Vaishnavite. 

Thereafter Ramanuja firmly established himself in the Mysore king's dominions, constructed a temple at Melkote, and created a strong Vaishnavite community there. The Pariahs or depressed classes (now called Harijans) of the place were of great service to Ramanuja; and Ramanuja gave them the right of entry inside the temple which he constructed at Melkote--on some fixed days and with some limited privileges--which they enjoy to this day.

Ramanuja constructed a few more Vishnu temples in and about Mysore, set up a strong Vaishnavite community and put them in charge of his disciples to continue his work and spread the Visishtadvaita philosophy and Vishnu worship throughout the king's dominions. Thus he continued his labours here for nearly twenty years and his followers numbered several thousands.

Meanwhile, Kulothunga Chola 1, who persecuted Ramanuja, died. The followers of Ramanuja immediately communicated the news to Ramanuja and requested him to come back to Srirangam. Ramanuja himself longed to go back to his followers in Srirangam and worship in the temple there. But his new disciples and followers at Melkote and other places in Mysore would not let him go. 

So he constructed a temple for himself, installed therein his own image for worship by his disciples and followers, and left the place for Srirangam. He was welcomed by his friends and disciples at Srirangam. The successor to Kulothunga Chola I was a pro-Vaishnavite and Ramanuja was left undisturbed. Ramanuja continued his labours for thirty years more and closed his long active career after attaining the remarkable age of 120 years.

Ramanuja was the exponent of the Visishtadvaita philosophy or qualified non-dualism. Ramanuja's Brahman is Sa-visesha Brahman, i.e., Brahman with attributes. According to Ramanuja's teachings, Lord Narayana or Bhagavan is the Supreme Being; the individual soul is Chit; matter is Achit. Ramanuja regards the attributes as real and permanent, but subject to the control of Brahman. The attributes are called Prakaras or modes. Lord Narayana is the Ruler and Lord of the universe. The Jiva is His servant and worshipper. The Jiva should completely surrender himself to the Lord. The oneness of God is quite consistent with the existence of attributes, as the attributes or Shaktis depend upon God for their existence.

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Sri Ramanuja (born in 1017 A.D. -- not to be confused with the great Indian mathematician with the same name) appeared on the spiritual scene of South India ignited by the devotional revolution started by the Alvars. He came from a pious Brahmin family and studied all holy scriptures as was the practice. But he could not reconcile to monistic system and interpreted Brahma-sutras and Bhagavadgita in his own volition of synthesizing devotion and knowledge. According to him, God, the soul, and the universe together formed one reality. God is all pervading supreme spirit. The universe comes out of Him and returns to Him in cycles. He said that God-realization was possible only through Bhakti, which was a spiritual discipline.

He was a good organizer and a great liberal. He accepted a low caste Shudra as one of his Gurus. Once he imparted the sacred mantra (supposed to be the most secret imparting of a Guru to a Sishya,) his guru had revealed him, openly to the public announcing to the whole community which had gathered at the temple. On being questioned on this propriety, Ramanuja declared that if by his going to hell so many souls could be saved, he would prefer it to his own salvation. (Breach of secrecy of mantra was a sin and hell was the punishment according to the traditional belief.)

He traveled far and wide and gave a big boost to the Bhakti Movement in India. His famous works include Vedartha-sangraha, and Sribashya -- commentaries on the Upandihads and Brahma Sutras, and form the core of the Sri Vaishnava cult in India.