You are here

Chapter 17: How the Master favoured Rup

Rup and Sanatan, after meeting the Master at the village of Ramkeli, went back to their own quarters. The two brothers devised how to get rid of their worldly ties. They secured two priests with costly gifts, and performed two ceremonies preparatory to a journey (purashcharan) in the mantra of Krishna, hoping thereby to attain speedily to Chaitanya's feet. Then Rup came to his own house by boat with much wealth, of which he distributed one half to Brahmans and Vaishnavs, one quarter to his kinsmen for their support, and laid by the other quarter for paying the fine. The money was lodged with good Brahmans, and ten thousand Rupees were deposited with a grocer at Gaur, subject to expenditure by Sanatan. When Rup heard of the Master's journey to Puri and of His intention to go to Brindaban by the forest route, he sent two agents to Puri to bring quickly word about the date of the Master's starting for Brindaban, as he wanted to shape his own course accordingly.

At Gaur Sanatan thought within himself, "The Sultan's love for me is a tie (keeping me here). If he were only to turn angry, it will be my deliverance." On the plea of illness he stayed at home, gave up his official work, and discontinued his visits to the Court. The greedy writers (Kayastha) transacted the business of state (in his absence), while he at home discussed the Shastras. With twenty or thirty Bhattacharya pandits he discussed the Bhagabat in assembly. One day the Sultan with only one attendant suddenly entered Sanatan's meeting. At the sight of the king, all hurriedly stood up, and seated him with due honour. The Sultan said, "I sent a physician to you, who reported that you were in perfect health. All my affairs depend on you, and yet you are staying at home neglecting them! You have ruined all my business. Tell me what you really mean by it?" Sanatan replied, "I am unable to do the work. Get some one else for the purpose." The Sultan in anger cried out again and again, "Your elder brother is acting like a robber. He has desolated the districts (chakla) under him by killing men and cattle. And here you are ruining all my affairs!" Sanatan pleaded, "You are the free king of Bengal; punish all offenders."

At this the Sultan returned to his palace and imprisoned Sanatan lest he should escape. When the king set out to invade Orissa, he asked Sanatan to accompany him. The minister replied, "I cannot bear you company, as you are going to molest my gods." Then the Sultan set out, leaving Sanatan in prison.

When the Master set out for Brindaban, the two messengers brought news of it to Rup. At this Rup wrote to Sanatan, "Chaitanya has started for Brindaban. We two brothers are going to join him. Do you run away from Gaur by hook or crook. I have left ten thousand Rupees with a grocer there. Spend it to secure your release soon, and fly to Brindaban by any way that you can find." Then Rup went to Prayag with his youngest brother, Anupam Mallik (surnamed?) Shri-Vallabh, devout Vaishnav.

The Master delighted at the news. As He was going to visit Bindu Madhav, lakhs of men came to meet Him, some weeping, some laughing, some singing and dancing, others rolling on the ground while shouting Krishna! Krishna! The Master drowned Prayag in the flood of Krishna's love, while the Ganges and the Jamuna between them had failed to submerge the land! Seeing the crowd, Rup and his brother stood apart. The Master was thrown into ecstasy when beholding Madhav, and danced with uplifted arms shouting 'Say Hari! Hari!' Men marvelled at His greatness. His feats at Prayag baffle description. A Deccani Brahman who knew Him, took Him to his house, where the Master was sitting down in seclusion when Rup and Vallakh came to Him. With two blades of grass between their teeth, they fell down prone on seeing Him from afar. Again and again they rose up and fell down, reciting many verses, overcome with love at the sight of Him. Graciously did the Master speak, "Rise, rise! Rup, come to me! Krishna's grace passes all speech: He has plucked you from the well of worldliness in which you were sunk. Witness the Hari-bhakti-vilas, x. 91; the words of God:

'It is not by studying the four Vedas that one can become my bhakta. Even low-caste Chandals can win my love by their faith. To such bhaktas I grant my love and accept their love, and they are worthy of adoration like myself'."

Repeating the above verse He embraced both and placed His feet on their heads as a favour. At this they praised Him humbly with folded palms. [Verses].

Then the Master seated them by Himself and asked for the news of Sanatan. Rup answered, "He is in the king's prison. If you save him then only can he be released. The Master said, "Sanatan has been set free and will soon join us all. The Brahman invited the Master to dinner. Rup passed the day there. Balabhadra Bhattacharya bade both the brothers to dinner, and the two ate the leavings of the Master's plate. The Master lodged in a house on the junction of the rivers; Rup and Vallabh took a house near it.

There was then one Vallabh Bhatta[1] at the village of Ambuli. He came on hearing of the Master's arrival, bowed to Him, received His embrace, and the two discoursed long on Krishna, at which the Master's devotion surged up, but He checked Himself in the presence of the Bhatta, who detected the uncontrollable fervour within Him and marvelled exceedingly. Then the Bhatta invited the Master, who introduced to him the two brothers. They very humbly bowed to the Bhatta from a distance, and as he ran to meet them they receded further crying, "Touch not untouchable sinners like us!" The Bhatta marvelled; the Master was delighted and told their story to the Bhatta, adding, "Touch not these; they are of a low caste, while you are a Vaidic sacrificial Brahman, old and a kulin." Hearing Krishna's name incessantly on their lips, the Bhatta, taking hint from the Master's winking, remarked, "Krishna's name is dancing on their tongue. They cannot be low; they are the best of men. Witness the Bhagabat III. xxxiii. 7."

The Master, pleased to hear it, praised him much and in rapture recited these verses:

"Wise men will honour even a Chandal who has been purified in consequence of the sins of his low birth having been burnt away by the blazing fire of pure faith; while an atheist is not to be honoured even though learned in the Vedas. Vain are high pedigree, scholarship, repetition of the holy name, and austerities, in a man who lacks faith in God. As a lifeless doll is dressed up only for show to people, so are the virtues of a faithless man futile. (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya, iii. 12 and 11.)"

The Bhatta wondered as he gazed at the Master's passion of devotion, power, true faith, and beauty. He took Him with His followers in a boat to his own house for dinner. Beholding the sparkling blue waters of the Jamuna, the Master was overcome by love, and leaped into the river with a roar. They were all seized with concern at it and hurriedly pulled Him out of the water. He began to dance on the boat, which rolled right and left under His weight and shipped a good deal of water, being ready to sink. His love was uncontrollable; still in the presence of the Bhatta the Master checked Himself, as His transport was inopportune, and disembarked at the Ambuli ghat. The anxious Bhatta, after keeping His company at bath, brought Him to his own house, gave Him a fine garment, washed His feet and poured the water on the heads of himself and his family. He clothed the Master in a new waist-band and dhuti, and adored Him with scents, flowers, incense and lights. Bhattacharya cooked and the Master dined; so did Rup and his brother; Rup and Krishna-das were given the leavings of His dinner. After chewing spices the Master lay down to repose, the Bhatta rubbing His feet. Sent away by the Master, the Bhatta despatched his own dinner and came back to His feet.

Now came there Raghupati Upadhyaya, a great scholar and Vaishnav of north Bihar (Tirhut). As he bowed, the Master greeted him with "Be thy mind fixed on Krishna,"--to the great delight of the Upadhyaya. At the Master's request he recited verses of his own composition describing Krishna's deeds. [Verses.]

The Master had a transport of love as He listened and urged the poet to proceed further. The Upadhyaya marvelled at such fervour, and knew Him to be Krishna himself and not a mortal. The Master asked, "Upadhyaya! what do you consider most excellent?" The poet replied, "Black is the best of colours." "Where is the best abode of the black complexion?" The poet answered, "Mathura is the best of cities." "Which is the best age--boyhood, maturity, or adolescence?" The Upadhyaya replied, "Adolescence is the only age fit for our meditation." "Which do you think is the best among emotions?" "Love is the highest of all emotions (ras)." The Master remarked, "Thou hast taught me the true lore", and then in a tremulous voice recited Madhavendra Puri's verses (embodying the above answers). In rapture He embraced the Upadhyaya, who began to dance in a frenzy of love.

Vallabh Bhatta marvelled at the sight. With his two sons he fell down at the Master's feet. The villagers flocked thither to see Him, and at His sight became worshippers of Krishna. Vallabh Bhatta stopped the Brahmans who were inviting the Master, saying, "This holy man jumped into mid-Jamuna in ecstasy. I must not detain Him here, but convey Him back to Prayag. Invite Him there, if you list." So saying he carried the Master across in the boat.

Avoiding the press of the people, the Master went to the Dashashwamedh ghat and there taught Rup about Krishna's essence, the path of bhakti, the lore of emotions, the conclusions of the Bhagabat. He imparted to Rup all the doctrines He had learnt from Ramananda, and infused (His own) force into Rup's heart, in order to make him a perfect doctor of Vaishnav theology. (Verses quoted from the Chaitanya-chandrodaya.)

Thanks to the Master's grace on them, Rup and Sanatan became objects of favour and pride to all His leading devotees and associates. Chaitanya's attendants used to ask every one who returned to Bengal from Brindaban, "Tell us how Rup and Sanatan are living there. Tell us of their asceticism, their meals, their adoration of Krishna all day." Then praising the two, the returned pilgrims would answer, "The two are living homeless, sleeping every night under a different tree. In the Brahman houses they get coarse food, in contrast with the sweetmeats they formerly fed upon. They chew dry bread or gram, leaving all enjoyments. In their hands is the beggar's gourd, they are wrapped in tattered quilts; they speak of Krishna, chant his name, dance, and exult. Throughout the day and night they recite Krishna's praise, and sleep for two hours, and sometimes, absorbed in the passion of chanting the name, they deny themselves even that short sleep. At times they compose works on bhakti, hear discourses about Chaitanya, and meditate on Him." These words greatly pleased the Fathers of the Church. What wonder [that such should be their life], when Chaitanya's grace was on them?

Thus passing ten days at Prayag, the Master taught Rup and inspired him with strength, adding, "Listen, Rup! to the signs of a bhakta, which I shall describe in brief sentences, without going into detail. I speak to you only of one drop of the shoreless profound ocean of bhakti, in order to give you a smack of it. Behold in the universe countless beings that pass through 84 lakhs of births. The nature of a creature is as minute as a hundredth part of a hundredth part of the point of a hair. [Verses from the Shruti-byakhya, and the Panchadashi, 83.]

'O, immutable God! if we admit that bodied beings are limitless, eternal and omnipresent, then we cannot maintain the law that they are subject to you. Then the creatures, though subject to birth, will be law-givers unto themselves, even though they have not risen above their mortal nature. Those who say that God and beings are equal, know not thy true nature and their doctrines are false. (Bhagabat, X. lxxxvii. 26.)'

"Among creatures we must distinguish between the animate and the inanimate. Among the animate are many classes, such as sky-dwellers, land animals, water animals &c., men being only a minority of them. [Eliminate from] men the Mlechchhas, Pulindas, Bauddhas, and Shabars; and from the followers of the Vedas one-half who follow the Vedas in lips only, doing sins condemned by the Vedas and disregarding piety. Among religious people many are devoted to work [as the means of salvation]. For ten million men devoted to work we have one devoted to knowledge, and therefore superior to the former. Among ten million men devoted to knowledge we have only one liberated soul. And among ten million liberated souls hardly one devotee of Krishna is found. The bhakta of Krishna is passionless and tranquil, while those who covet enjoyment, salvation or siddhi are perturbed. Witness the Bhagabat, VI. xiv 4.

"In roving through the universe, lucky is the man who gets the seed of the creeper of faith (bhakti) through the grace of his guru and Krishna. He sows the seed like a gardener, waters it with hearing and chanting [the holy name]. As the creeper grows it pierces through the universe, passes beyond the Biraja Brahma world to the Para-byom, and above that to the heavenly Brindaban, where it creeps up the wishing-tree of Krishna's feet, spreads and bears fruit in the form of love (prem). If any sin against Vaishnavism is done, it uproots or tears the creeper like a wild elephant, its leaves wither. Then the gardener on earth carefully covers it, to save it from the elephant of sin. But if parasites, like love of enjoyment or salvation and countless other things,--or forbidden practices like rubbish,--slaughter of living beings,--thirst of gain or fame, adhere to the creeper, then these parasites flourish from the watering, while the main creeper's growth is arrested. Cut off the parasites first; then will the main branch reach the heavenly Brindaban. When the mature fruit of love drops down, the gardener tastes it, and proceeding up the creeper he reaches the wishing-tree. There (in Vishnu's heaven) he tends the wishing-tree, and blissfully tastes the juice of the fruit of love. That is the highest fruit, the supreme human bliss, in comparison with which the four human attainments are as straw. From pure faith is born love. Therefore I tell you of the signs of pure faith: Leaving desire for others, worship of others, knowledge and work, devote all your senses to the cultivation of Krishna. This is pure faith, the source of love. Its signs are described in the Narada-pancha-ratra and the Bhagabat, III. xxix. 10--12 &c.

"If one desires enjoyment, salvation, &c., he cannot kindle love, even by means of devotion (sadhan). From the culture of bhakti ardour is born; when ardour deepens it is called love (prem). As love grows it is successively called sneha, man, pranaya, rag, anurag, bhab, maha-bhab, just as we have successively cane-seed, sugarcane juice, molasses, sugar, and fine sugarcandy. All these are the enduring forms of bhakti in Krishna, if they are joined by provocation and addiction of mind. When the spiritual (satwik) and extensive (byabhichari) emotions mingle together, bhakti in Krishna becomes a veritable nectar in taste, just as curd, when mixed with sugar, ghee, pepper, and camphor, becomes deliciously sweet. In different bhaktas the inclination (rati) assumes different forms, viz., the shanta, the dasya, the sakhya, the batsalya, and the madhur. From these differences in the nature of the passion, the mood (ras) of Krishna's love assumes five forms of the same name, which are called the chief rasas, while there are seven minor rasas, viz., the comic, the grotesque, the heroic, the pathetic, the rude, the horrible, and the timid. The five former moods permanently occupy the minds of bhaktas; while the seven minor moods rise fitfully when they get a favourable occasion. The nine sages [who instructed king Nimi] and Sanak and others are examples of bhaktas of the shanta mood. Countless are the bhaktas everywhere who illustrate the dasya mood. The sakhya mood is typified in Shridam and other [cow-boys] and in Bhim and Arjun of Hastinapur. The bhaktas of the batsalya mood are father, mother and other elders. Of the madhur mood of bhakti, the examples are chiefly the milkmaids of Brindaban, Krishna's queens, Lakshmi and countless others.

"Again, ardour (rati) for Krishna is of two kinds: (1) accompanied by a sense of his Godhead, and (2) pure and simple. At Gokul the latter was displayed, free from any consciousness of his Godhead, while at Mathura, Dwaraka, Vaikuntha and other places the former prevailed. Where the sense of his Godhead is predominant, love [for him] is contracted; whereas the way of pure ardour is to disregard his Godhead even when it is openly shown. In the shanta and dasya emotions this consciousness of His Godhead is a little kindled, but in the batsalya, sakhya and madhur it is shrunk up. When Krishna bowed at the feet of Vasudev and Devaki, they were frightened by the sense of his Godhead. Witness the Bhagabat, X. xliv. 35.

"Arjun was awe-struck at beholding the vision of Krishna as God, and begged his pardon for having treated him familiarly under the notion of a friend. Vide the Gita, xi. 41. When Krishna jested with Rukmini, she became mortally afraid lest he should quit her. Vide the Bhagabat, X. Ix. 23.

"The pure love called kebala (unmixed) ignores his divinity, and in case it does recognize him as God, it disavows its loving connection with him. Vide the Bhagabat, X. viii. 35, ix. 12, xviii. 14, xxx. 32, xxxi. 16.

"The shanta ras consists in recognizing the true nature of Krishna and fixing the mind on him only. Krishna has himself said, 'Devoting the mind exclusively to me is the virtue of shama'. Vide the Bhagabat, XI. xix. 33:

'Shama consists in fixing the mind on me; dama is control of the organs of the senses; titiksha is endurance of sorrow; and dhriti is checking what rises on the tongue.'

"It is the duty of a shanta votary to give up thirst for everything except Krishna; hence a shanta and a bhakta of Krishna are identical terms. Krishna's devotee regards heaven and even salvation as no better than hell. Vide the Bhagabat, VI. xvii. 23.

"Devotion to Krishna and conquest of desire are the two marks of a shanta bhakta. All the five kinds of bhaktas are necessarily marked by these qualities, just as sound, the attribute of the sky, is possessed by the other four elements also. A shanta votary's attachment to Krishna is like an odourless flower; he has only acquired a true sense of God's nature, as the supreme spirit and divinity. The dasya mood better develops the cognition of Krishna as the Lord of full powers. A das bhakta constantly gratifies Krishna by serving him with a sense of his divinity, honour, and great glorification; dasya ras has the merit of the shanta ras plus service, i.e., it has two merits. The sakhya ras possesses these two merits [plus absolute trust in Krishna]. In dasya Krishna's service is marked by honour and glorification; in sakhya by reliance.

"A sakha bhakta sits on Krishna's back, or carries him on his shoulders, or has a mock fight with him; he serves Krishna and at times makes Krishna serve him! The chief characteristic of the sakhya ras is free comradery, without any feeling of respect or awe. So this ras has three qualities; in it Krishna is loved more ardently, as he is held equal to the bhakta's self; hence this ras captivates the good. In the batsalya ras there are the above three qualities, plus tenderness, which in its excess leads to chiding and chastisement. Such a devotee regards himself as the patron and Krishna as the protege; his service takes the form of paternal care. This ras, therefore has four qualities, and is like nectar.

"In the madhur ras all the above four qualities are present in a heightened form, and in addition to them the votary serves Krishna as a lover offering him his or her own person. Here five qualities are present. All the [four] emotions find their synthesis in the madhur, just as in the case of the five elements (sky, air, light, water and earth) the attributes of the first four are all united in the fifth. Hence is the madhur ras of wondrous deliciousness. This emotion has been fully described. Reflect how to spread it. While meditating, Krishna will illuminate your heart. Through Krishna's grace, even an ignorant man reaches the farthest shore of the emotions."

So saying the Master embraced Rup and started for Benares next morning. Rup begged leave to accompany Him as he could not bear the pang of parting. But the Master objected, "Let me lay down your duty. You are now within easy reach of Brindaban; go there. Thence return to Bengal and join me at Puri." After giving him a (parting) embrace the Master embarked. Rup fell down there in a swoon. The Deccani Brahman took him to his house.

Then Rup and his brother went to Brindaban. When the Master reached Benares, Chandra Sekhar met Him outside the village, as he had dreamt the previous night that the Master had come to his house and so he had come out of the village to wait for Him. Delighted to see the Master, he bowed at His feet and took Him home with him. At the news, Tapan Mishra came to the Master; forming a select assembly he invited Him and made Him dine at his house. Chundra Shekhar invited Bhattacharya. After the feast Tapan Mishra begged Him, "Grant me kindly one favour that I beg of thee. So long as thou stayest at Kashi do not dine anywhere except in my house." The Master accepted his invitation as He knew that He would stay for a week only and would not dine with hermits. He lodged with Chandra Shekhar. The Maratha Brahman and many good men of the Brahman and Kshatriya castes visited the Master. [Text, canto 19.]

[1] The celebrated Vallabh-acharya (born in 1479), the founder of the Pushtimarga school of Vaishnavism. Ambuli is evidently Arail, a village on the Jamuna opposite Allahabad, which contains a temple of the Vallabh-acharya sect.