Seer Atri was one of such Seers who had ‘seen’ and experienced the Brahman, the eternal Wisdom. To him was born a son, the product of the Grace or the Divine Will, which was the manifestation of all three Primal Energies ofBrahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He was ordained with the three energies; He came to have the concentrated wisdom of the three God-heads or symbolically three heads. The three heads signified as Brahma:‘Tejas’ personified, Vishnu:‘Ojas' personified, Shiva: ‘Tapas’ personified. Under these heads, illumination of knowledge, vigorosity of action and stringency of penance were represented as three aspects or state of being of the same.
Birth: Dattatreya had descended into the realm of world as progeny of Atri and Anusuya, a sage couple of the Vedic age.
Anusuya became very famous for her devotion to her husband. She was the embodiment of chastity. Such was her spiritual power that hard, uneven earth turned soft and smooth for her as she walked about. This pious woman induced jealousy and envy in others, however, and the three Gods decided to prove these doubting elements how wrong they were.
They transformed themselves into mendicants, approached the hermitage of sage Atri and begged for alms. At that time sage Atri was away at the river offering his daily oblations. Anusuya came out and offered food to them. They made a strange request; the food be prepared and served to them by Anusuya, in the nude. In the Indian tradition any 'athithi' (guest) cannot be turned away, as they are considered to be an aspect of God. Hence she was placed in a dilemma. She smiled to herself and reflected thus: ‘I am totally purified by the long association with the holy sage Atri. What harm can the god of lust ever do to me? So I do fear nothing. As they have sought food from my hands, I look upon them as my own children and not as strangers and grown up men!’ Her thoughts – the thoughts of a pious and chaste person – instantly became reality; the elderly guests became babies!
Sage Atri on his return to the hermitage saw his wife Anusuya fondling three babies. Anusuya said "These children are the gift of God to us who have been childless so far". Sage Atri was overjoyed and named them Datta, which means 'given'. At this the three Gods reverted to their real forms and disclosed the truth. They extolled the power of chastity and purity of Anusuya which vanquished the combined and colossal powers of all three of them. Sage Atri and Anusuya prayed that they should remain as their sons. They consented and the three Gods merged into one body.
All the aspects of Godhead are fully manifest in Him. His faces and form are ever radiant with peace and divine charm.
• The Cow, which is always with Him, represents the Mother Earth and Dharma. She is the wish fulfilling cow 'Kamadhenu'.
• The four dogs symbolise the four Vedas – the external repositories of Spiritual Wisdom.
• The trident indicates that He has transcended the three gunas, which constitute the illusory world:
Sattva-illumination, Rajas-activity and Tamas-inertia.
• The 'Sudharshana chakra' , disc indicates that He is beyond the cycles of time i.e. the past, present and future and
His holding of 'chakra' means He is the controller of time.
• The conch represents the eternal sound ‘AUM’ – which is the manifestation of the Spirit.
It is also the life principle in us and the cosmos.
• The 'bhasma' ashes indicated His 'Vairaagya' dispassion as well as His purity.
Ashes indicate the evanescent nature of all created nature of all created objects and the ultimate state of all matter.
• He always carries a begging bowl so as to teach us the lesson that we will have to share our wealth and food with others.
• The japa-mala, rosary He wears reminds us that our primary duty is chanting the sacred name of the Lord and meditating on the feet of the Lord, and our redemption depends on this discipline alone.
Principle tenets of the Dattatreya tradition
The principle tenets of the Dattatreya tradition are:
1. Everyone should know oneself first and should know one's own reality, which is but God.
2. One should realize the relationship between God, man and creation – the underlying kinship, unity and oneness of these three entities. Brahman is the immanent and all pervading reality in all matter – it is the origin, the support and sustenance of all.
3. To obtain this vision and discern this truth, one should conquer one's ego through Yoga and renunciation.
4. Guru's grace is indispensable. One has to surrender oneself totally and unreservedly at the feet of the Guru.
His grace awakens 'Jnana' (illumination) by which we can recognize the Reality of Brahman, which is the real self of all.
Dattatreya responded to the entire world around him, the spirit of discipleship that learns from all of existence, with all the innocence of a child.
1. Earth: All creatures, in accordance with their previous store of karma (action) assume different physical forms and live on earth. People plough, dig and tread the earth. They light fires on it. Still, the earth does not swerve from its course even by a hair’s breadth. On the other hand, it feeds and houses all creatures. Seeing this, I learned that the wise one should never swerve from his vow of patience, love and righteousness under any circumstances and one should dedicate his life for the welfare of living beings. The earth along with its mountains and rivers is my first guru.
2. Air: I observed that air is pure and odorless in itself. And it blows on both sweet and foul-smelling things without any discrimination or preference. Though it momentarily seems to take on the smell of its surroundings, in a short while, it reveals its pristine quality. From this I learned that a spiritual aspirant should live in the world, unaffected by the dualities of life like joy and sorrow and by the objects of the senses. He should keep his heart’s feeling and his speech unpolluted by vain objects. As I have learned all this by observing it, air is my second guru.
3. Sky: The soul is also like the sky, which is omnipresent. I have noticed that sometimes the sky (or space) gets thickly overcast, or filled with dust or smoke. At sunrise and during night, it apparently takes on different colors. But in fact, it ever retains its colorless self, and it is never touched or stained by any thing. From this I learned that a true sage should remain ever pure like the sky or space, untouched or unaffected by anything in the phenomenal universe in time, including his own physical processes. His inner being is totally free from emotional reaction to things and events even like the space. Thus I accepted the sky or space as my third guru.
4. Fire: My fourth teacher is the element of fire. Sometimes, it manifests itself as blazing flames; sometimes as smoldering embers, covered by ash. But it is always present in all objects as latent heat. The god of fire accepts the offering of everyone, irrespective of his moral worth and burns down his sins; and it still remains the ever-pure divinity as the fire-god; he is untainted by the sins of such devotees. So too, a sage of perfect realization should accept food of everyone, burn down his sins and bless the giver. Though fire has no specific form of its own, when it is associated with fuel that burns, it assumes such apparent forms. So too, the true Self, though formless in itself, appears in the forms of deities, human beings, animals and trees when it is associated with the respective physical structures. The source of all forms in the universe, as also their end, remains ever mysterious. All the things are manifest only in between their origin and their end. Their source and end is the true Self, which is eternal, unchanging, unmanifest and omnipresent. The nature of the element of fire is such. The manifest fire transforms the various things it consumes into the same ash. So too, the wisdom of self-realization rejects the manifest forms and properties of things as illusion and realizes their one original essence as itself. Thus the element of fire is my fourth guru.
5. Sun: My fifth guru is sun. Though the sun we see in our daily life is one, it appears as many when reflected by water in different vessels. Similarly, the one real Self manifests itself as many selves of living creatures when reflected by their physical structures. As Sun illuminates the many forms in nature to our visions, the sage too illuminates the true nature of all things to his devotees.
6. Pigeon: I have gained wisdom from a pigeon too. Once a pair of pigeons lived together on a tree. They bred their young and were bringing them up with deep affection and love. One day, a hunter caught the young fledglings in a snare. The ladybird, which returned from the forest with food for its young ones, saw their plight and, unable to leave them, she leapt in the snare to share their fate. Shortly after, the male pigeon turned up and, unable to bear the separation from its sweetheart, it too jumped in the snare and met its end. Reflecting on this, I realized how, even after being born as an intelligent human being, man is caught in the coils of possessiveness and brings about his own spiritual destruction. The self, which is originally free, when associated with the body sense, gets identified with it, and thus gets caught in the endless cycle of birth, death and misery. Thus the pigeon was my sixth guru.
7. Python: The python is a sluggard, unwilling to move out briskly for its prey. It lies in its lurch and devours whatever creature it comes across, be it sufficient to appease its hunger. From this I learnt that the man in search of wisdom should refrain from running after pleasures, and accept whatever he gets spontaneously with contentment. Like the python, he should shake off sleep and wakefulness and abide in a state of incessant meditation on the Self. Thus the python was my seventh teacher of wisdom.
8. Sea: Contemplating the marvelous nature of the ocean, I have gained much wisdom. Any number of overflowing rivers may join it, yet the sea maintains its level. Nor does its level fall even by a hair’s breadth in summer, when all the rivers dry up. So too, the joys of life do not elate the sage of wisdom, nor do its sorrows depress him. Just as the sea never crosses its threshold on the beach, the wise one never transgresses the highest standards of morality under the pull of passions. Like the sea, he is unconquerable and cannot be troubled by anything. Like the unfathomable ocean, his true nature and the depths of his wisdom cannot be easily comprehended by anyone. The ocean, which has taught me thus, is my eighth guru.
9. Moth: I often observed that the moth (or, more precisely, a grasshopper) is tempted by fire to jump in it and get burnt down. So too, the unthinking man is enticed by the illusory pleasures of the senses and thus gets caught in the ceaseless cycles of birth and death. On the other hand, the wise one, when he catches even a glimpse of the fire of wisdom, leaves everything aside, leaps in it and burns down the illusion of being a limited self. Thus the moth was my ninth guru.
10. Elephant: The elephant was my tenth guru. The human beings raise a stuffed cow-elephant in the forest. The wild tusker mistakes it for a mate, approaches it and then skillfully bound in fetters by the cunning human beings. So too, the unregenerate man is tempted by the opposite sex and gets bound by the fetters of infatuation. The seekers after liberation should learn to be free from lust. The elephant was thus one of my teachers.
11. Ant: The ant stores up lots of food materials which it neither eats nor gives away in charity to any other creature. In consequence, other more powerful creatures are tempted to plunder the ants. So too, the man who lays by treasures of merely material things becomes a victim of robbery and murder. But the ant has something positive to teach us, too. It is a tireless worker and is never discouraged by any number of obstacles and setbacks in its efforts to gather its treasure. So too, a seeker after wisdom should be tireless in his efforts for Self-Realization. This noble truth has the little ant taught me and became my eleventh guru.
12. Fish: The fish greedily swallows bait and is at once caught by the angle-hook. From this, I realized how man meets his destruction by his craving for delicious food. When the palate is conquered, all else is conquered. Besides, there is a positive feature in the fish. It never leaves its home, i.e. water. So too, man should never loose sight of his true Self, but should ever have his being in it. Thus the fish became my twelfth guru.
13. Pingala: The thirteenth guru that has awakened my spirit is a prostitute named Pingala. One day, she eagerly awaited a particular client in the hope that he would pay her amply. She waited and waited till late in the night. When he did not turn up, she was at last disillusioned and reflected thus: "Alas! How stupid I am! Neglecting the divine spirit within, who is of the nature of bliss eternal, I foolishly awaited a debauchee (sensualist) who inspires my lust and greed. Henceforth, I shall expend myself on the Self, unite with Him and win eternal joy. Through such repentance, she attained blessedness. Besides, reflecting on its obvious purport, I also realized that a spiritual aspirant should likewise reject the lure of lesser spiritual powers, which are mere by-products of sadhana (spiritual practice). I learned that the temptation to secure things from other’s hands are the seeds of misery; that renunciation of these is the sole means of realizing infinite joy.
14. Arrow-maker: Once I observed an arrow-maker who was totally absorbed in molding a sharp arrow. He grew so oblivious of all else that he did not even notice a royal pageant that passed by. This sight awakened me to the truth that such single-minded, all-absorbing contemplation of the Self spontaneously eliminates all temptation for the trivial interests of the world. It is the sole secret of success in spiritual discipline. Thus the arrow-maker is my fourteenth guru.
15. Playful Boy: Little boys and girls know neither honor nor dishonor. They do not nurse a grudge or a prejudice against anyone. They do not know what is their own, or what belongs to others. Their happiness springs from their own selves, their innate creativity and they do not need any external objects or conditions to be happy. I realized that the sage of perfect enlightenment is also such. A playful boy thus happened to be my fifteenth guru.
16. Moon: Of all things in nature, the moon is unique. It appears to wax and wane during the bright and dark fortnights. In fact, the lunar globe ever remains the same. In this, it is like the self of the man. While a man appears to pass through the stages of infancy, boyhood, youth, maturity and old age, his real self remains unchanged. All changes pertain only to body and not to the self. Again, the moon only reflects the light of the sun, but has no such of its own. So too, the soul or mind of man is only a reflection of the light of awareness of the real Self. Having taught this truth, the moon became my sixteenth guru.
17. Honeybee: Honeybee wanders from flower to flower and, without hurting them in the least, draws honey. So too, a spiritual seeker should study all the Holy Scriptures but retain in his heart, only that which is essential for his spiritual practice. Such is the teaching I imbibed from my seventeenth guru, the honeybee.
18. Deer: It is said that deers are very fond of music and that poachers employ it to lure them before hunting them. From this, I learned that passions and sensual desires will soon bog down a spiritual aspirant who has a weakness for merely secular music, till he ultimately loses whatever spiritual progress he has achieved earlier. The deer that taught me this truth is my eighteenth guru.
19. Bird of prey: A bird of prey is my nineteenth guru. One day, I saw one such carrying away a dead rat. Many other birds like crows and eagles attacked it, now kicking on its head and again pecking on its sides in their endeavor to knock off the prey. The poor bird was thus very much pestered. At last, it wisely let its prey fall and all the other birds rushed after it. Thus freeing itself from so much botheration, it sighed in relief. From this, I learned that a man who runs after worldly pleasures will soon come into clash with his fellow-beings who too run for the same, and has to face much strife and antagonism. If he learns to conquer his craving for worldly things, he can spare himself much unhappiness. I realized that this is the only way to the peace in the world.
20. Maiden: Once, I observed a family visit a maiden’s house, seeking her hand in marriage for their son. At that time, her mother was away from home. So the maiden herself had to entertain the guests with refreshments. She at once started pounding food-grains with a pestle. The bangles on her hand started knocking against each other, pounding sound. She was afraid that the guests might hear the sound and be unhappy for having caused her so much of trouble. As a Hindu maiden, she is not expected to remove all the bangles on her hand at any time. So she kept two on each hand and removed all the rest. Even then, they were knocking against each other and were making noise. So she kept only one bangle on each hand this time and she could finish her task in quiet. Reflecting on this, I realized that when a number of spiritual seekers live together, a lot of unwanted gossip ensues and no spiritual practice can be pursued with a single-minded effort. Only in solitude, a spiritual aspirant can carry his task. Knowing this truth, I henceforth resorted to solitude. Thus, a maiden happened to be my twentieth guru.
21. Serpent: I observed that a serpent never builds a dwelling for itself. When white ants have raised an anthill for themselves, the serpent eventually come to inhabit it. Similarly, worldly people have to endure many hardships in raising houses for themselves, while a recluse monk does no such thing. Worldly men raise the monasteries and the monk lives in them; or, he leaves in old dilapidated temples, or underneath shady trees. The serpent moults, leaving off its old skin. So too at the end of his life Yogi leaves his body deliberately and in full awareness of his own true self and is not frightened by the phenomenon of death. On the other hand, he casts off his old body as happily as he does his worn out clothes and dons new ones. Thus has my twenty first guru taught me.
22. Spider: The spider is my twenty second guru. It weaves its web from the thread in the form of a fluid. After sometime, it gathers up the web into itself. The supreme projects the whole creation out of itself and after sometime, withdraws it into itself at the time of dissolution. The individual soul too, bears the senses and the mind within itself and, at its birth as a human being or any other living creature, it projects them out as the sense organs, organs of action and the whole body. In accordance with its latent tendencies, the creature thus born, gathers up all the means and objects needed for its living. At the end of its life’s duration, the soul again withdraws the senses, mind and acquired tendencies at the hour of death. Thus have I learned from the spider.
23. Caterpillar: The caterpillar is also one of my teachers of wisdom. The wasp carries its caterpillar to a safe corner and closes it up in its nest and goes on buzzing about it. The young caterpillar is so frightened by the incessant buzzing, that it cannot think of anything else than the buzzing wasp. Through such unintermittent contemplation of its mother, the caterpillar too, soon grows up into a wasp! In a like fashion, a true disciple is so charmed and over-awed by the spiritual eminence of his own guru that he cannot think of any one other than him. Through such contemplation, he soon blossoms into a great spiritual master himself. The caterpillar is thus my twenty third Guru.
24. Water: Water is my twenty fourth Guru. It quenches the thirst of every creature, sustains innumerable trees and all creatures. While it thus serves all living beings, it is never proud of itself. On the other hand, it humbly seeks the lowliest of places. The sage too should likewise bestow health, peace and joy to every creature that resorts to him. Yet he should ever live as the humblest of God’s creation.
With such humility and devotion, I looked upon the whole of God’s creation as my teacher, gathered up wisdom and, through patient effort I realized my goal of spiritual enlightenment.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
There lived a great ascetic named Aruna Muni in Vaiduryapattnam, on the banks of the Godavari, in Andhra Pradesh in Southern India. He had a pious wife by name Jayanti Devi. Sri Nimbarka was born of Aruna Muni and Jayanti Devi. He flourished in the eleventh century A.D.
At the time of the Namakarana Samskara, the learned Brahmins gave the boy the name Niyamanandacharya. Nimbarka was also known by the names Aruna Rishi and Haripriyacharya.
Aruna Muni and Jayanti Devi performed their son’s sacred thread ceremony and sent him to Rishikul for learning the Vedas, Vedangas, Darshanas, etc. Niyamanandacharya mastered the scriptures in a short time. He was a mighty genius. People from all parts of India came to see this wonderful boy.
When Niyamanandacharya was in his teens, Brahma, the Creator, came to the Ashram of Aruna Muni in the disguise of a Sannyasin. The sun was about to set. The Muni had been out. The Sannyasin asked the wife of the Muni for something to eat. The food had been exhausted. The Muni’s wife remained silent. The Sannyasin was about to leave the Ashram.
Niyamanandacharya said to his mother, "Dear mother! A Sannyasin should not be sent away without food. We will have to suffer for violating Atithi Dharma". The mother said, "Dear son! Your father has gone out. I have neither fruits nor roots. Moreover, there is no time for me to prepare any food. It is sunset. Sannyasins do not take their meals after sunset".
Niyamanandacharya said to the Sannyasin, "I shall bring quickly roots and fruits from the forest. I guarantee that the sun will not set till you finish your meals". Niyamanandacharya placed his Sudarshana Chakra on a Nim tree in the Ashram where it shone like the sun. Brahma, who was in the guise of the Sannyasin, was struck with amazement. In a few minutes Nimbarka returned with roots and fruits and gave them to his mother, who served them to the Sannyasin with intense devotion. As soon as the Sannyasin finished his meals, Nimbarka removed the Sudarshana Chakra from the Nim tree. It was at once pitch dark. One quarter of the night had passed. The Sannyasin, who was Brahma, conferred on the boy the name ‘Nimbarka’ (Nim—Neem tree; Arka—Surya or the sun). Since then he has been called Sri Nimbarkacharya.
Sri Nimbarkacharya is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Hari’s weapon Sudarshana Chakra or discus.
There are four kinds of Avataras: (i) Purna (full) e.g., Lord Krishna, Lord Rama. (ii) Kala (not all-full) e.g., Matsya, Varaha, Hamsa, etc. (iii) Amsa (part) e.g., Jada Bharata, Nara Narayana, etc. (iv) Amsamsa (part of the part) e.g., Sri Sankara, Sri Ramanuja, Sri Nimbarka, etc.
In Vishnu Yana, the spiritual lineage of Sri Nimbarkacharya is given as follows: "The sacred Gopala Mantra of eighteen letters sprang from the lotus mouth of Sri Narayana. It was given to Hamsa Bhagavan. Hamsa Bhagavan in turn initiated the Kumaras who revealed this Mantra to Rishi Narada. Narada taught this to his disciple Sri Nimbarka. Nimbarka gave this Mantra to his disciple Srinivasacharya".
Sri Nimbarkacharya was the embodiment of mercy, piety, love, kindness, liberality and other divine qualities. He did rigorous austerities at Neemgram and had Darshan of Lord Krishna in that place. In that village only Nimbarka had exhibited his miracle when Brahma came for Bhiksha as a Sannyasin. Another holy place of the Nimbarka sect is Salembabad in Rajasthan. A big Mahant lives here. There is a temple of Nimbarka here.
Brindavan, Nandgram, Barsana, Govardhan and Neemgram are the chief Kshetras or holy lands of the followers of Nimbarkacharya. Parikrama of the 168 miles of Brij Bhumi is their foremost duty. To pay visits on different occasions to Sri Nimbarka’s temple in Neemgram, two miles from Govardhan, is their Sampradayik duty.
The Nimbarka sect is found mostly in Brij Bhumi, viz., Brindavan, Nandigram, Barsana, Govardhan, etc. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bharatpur, Gwalior, Burdwan and Okara are its centres. The Nimbarka followers are also to be found in Central India, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal.
Sri Nimbarkacharya wrote the following books: Vedanta Parijat Saurabh, a commentary on the Brahma Sutras; a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita; Sadachar Prakash, a treatise on Karma Kanda; Rahasya Shodasi, an explanation of the Sri Gopala Mantra in verses; Prapanna Kalpa Valli, an explanation of the Sri Mukunda Mantra in verses; Prapatti Chintamani, a treatise pertaining to supreme refuge; Prata Smarana Stotram, a devotional hymn; Dasa Sloki or Kama Dhenu, the ten nectarine verses; and Savisesh Nirvisesh Sri Krishna Stavam.
Sri Nimbarkacharya was the exponent of the Dvaitadvaita school of philosophy. Followers of this cult worship Sri Radha and Krishna. Bhagavata is the most important scripture for them. Jiva and the world are both separate from, and identical with, Brahman. The followers of this school are even now found in Mathura and Brindavan.
Sankara was the exponent of the Kevala Advaita philosophy, Ramanuja of the Visishtadvaita philosophy, Madhvacharya of the Dvaita philosophy, Vallabhacharya of the Suddhadvaita philosophy and Nimbarkacharya of the Dvaitadvaita philosophy. All were great souls. We cannot say that Sankara was greater than Ramanuja or Vallabha was greater than Nimbarka. All were Avatara Purushas. Each one incarnated on this earth to complete a definite mission, to preach and propagate a certain doctrine, which was necessary to help the growth of a certain type of people who flourished at a certain period, who were in a certain stage of devotion. All schools of philosophy are necessary. Each philosophy is best suited to a certain type of people.
All cannot grasp the highest Kevala Advaita philosophy of Sankara all at once. The mind has to be disciplined properly before it is rendered a fit instrument to grasp the tenets of Sankara’s Advaita Vedanta.
Salutations and adorations to all Acharyas! Glory to the Acharyas! May their blessings be upon us all!
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.
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.