Mahanidhi Swami

You could say he was “the father of Vraja Yatras and Rasa-lila performances”. Narayana Bhatta Goswami was Brahmin born in South India. Later he came to Vraja and took initiation from Krishna das brahmacari, a disciple of Shri Gopal Bhatta Goswami. He assisted Rupa and Sanatana Goswami in unearthing lost deities and in revealing lila places of Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana.

He wrote over 50 bhakti-granthas and lived several years in Radha Kunda. His famous Vraja Mandala parikrama guide titled Vraja Bhakti Vilasa (completed 1552 A.D.) says he discovered 333 forests and holy places of Sri Krishna. He gave a distinctive name to every kunja, kunda and village in Vraja according to the particular Krishna lila occurring there.

On his own, Bhattaji disovered all the tirthas and lila-sthalis mentioned in the Varaha Purana. Important Deities revealed by him are Sri Ladali Ji of Barasana, Baladau Ji of Uncagrama, Sanketa Devi Ji, Sesasayi Visnu, Badrinatha, Kamesvara Mahadeva, Mahavidya, Dirgha Visnu, Mahavisnu and Varaha in Mathura.

Holy places discovered by him are Manasi Ganga, Kusuma-sarovara, Govinda kunda and Chandra-sarovara in Govardhana; Rasa sthali in Vrindavana; Bhanukhora, Pili-pokhara, Danagarha, Managarha, Vilasagarha, Gahavaravana, and Sankarikhora in Barasana; Dehakunda and Triveni in Uncagrama; Gayakunda, Kasikunda, Vimala-sarovara, Kuruksetra, Panca-tirtha, Dharmakunda and Caurasi- khamba in Kamyavana, Ciraghata, Nandaghata, Viharavana, and Carana-pahadi.

After determining the exact boundary of Vraja, Bhattaji established the practice of circumambulating Vrindavana, which is known today as Vraja Yatra or Caurasi Kosh Parikrama. He discovered places connected with Krishna’s rasa, and constructed rasa-mandalas in those places i.e. Radha Kunda, Unchagrama, Kokilavana, Prema-sarovara, Gahavaravana, Prema-sarovara, Vrindavana, Karahela, Pisai and Parasauli. He also started rasa-lila drama performances around Vraja, which are still popular today with visitors and Vrajavasis.

After living many years in Radha Kunda, he moved to Uncagrama, where he married and later entered samadhi on Vamana Jayanti 1643.

Shri Narayana Bhatta Goswami ki jai! Vraja Mandala Parikrama ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

Srila Ananda Gopala Gosvami Prabhupada, the 12th generation direct descendant from Sri Advaita Acharya, appeared in Vrindavana Dhama on Padmanabha Ekadasi October, 1897. At the age of fourteen he and his parents moved to Navadvipa Dhama, where he passed his life.

The bhajana life of Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami was very exemplary and fruitful. Every day he got up at 3 am, took a bath and sat down for bhajana. Tears would stream from his eyes while he was immersed in meditation. By performing purashcarana he attained mantra darshana. Purashcarana is a nonstop marathon recital of a large number of diksha mantras in order to attain darshana of the mantra Devata.

Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami would not eat until he finished his daily quota of japa. No family member or disciple could disturb him until 8 a.m. At 10 a.m. he would take some of Sri Madangopalji’s prasadi fruits and sweets. Afterwards, he would meet with his family and disciples.

Ananda Gopala Goswami was totally averse to the principle of a professional Guru. In fact, he never asked his disciples for donations even though many were wealthy. He and his wife were completely renounced and full of devotion.

Even though they had no bank account, no land and no house, they continually served their family deities, Sri Sri Radha Madana Gopala. Whenever donations did come, he would immediately spend them to serve Sri Krishna and the Vaisnavas. When he heard someone singing Radha’s name, he would embrace him and say, “This person has purchased me!”

In Vrindavana 1954, he gave wonderful lectures for one fortnight on Vilapa Kusumanjali and Radharasa Sudhanidhi in Radha Damodara Mandira. Everyone was astonished to hear his sweet and essential explanations of each verse. Where the rasa-stream of other lectures stopped, Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami began. In each verse, he led the listeners through the course of the Radha-Krishna’s eight-fold daily pastimes.

Whatever problems or questions that the manjari bhava sadhakas had in their sadhana, he would clearly answer by drawing live pictures of manjari bhava with every discourse. By his mercy, sadhakas forevermore can easily depict the sequence of beautifully sweet and intimate sevas to perform in Priya-Priyatama’s Vraja nikunja-lilas. In the 1970’s, Sri Ananta das Panditji gave lectures on Vilapa Kusumanjali based on a transcript of these lectures.

Regarding the disputed authorship of Radha Sudhanidhi (Hit Harivamsa or Prabhodhananda Sarasvati), Ananda Gopala Goswami told the audience in Radha Damodara Mandira: “Some person may come to a mango grove and inquire: ‘How many fruits are in these trees? Who constructed this grove? How are the fruits sold and who is the owner?’ Yet another person will just come, purchase the mangoes, offer them, sit under a tree and say: ‘Aha, how sweet are these mangoes!’

“So similarly, Radharasa Sudhanidhi is a wonderful book, born by the grace of Sri Radharani, whoever may have composed it. What matters is the relish of its contents. We need to become qualified to extract the rasa from this book. Radha dasya is the goal of our lives. And Madan Gopala becomes subdued by us if we can meditate on the foot soles of Radharani. Radha dasya is our only shelter.”

What follows are some the direct words of Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami revealing his nistha in manjari bhava as Radharani’s loyal maisdservant:

“Prabhupada Ananda Gopala Goswami, cherishing Srimati Radharani’s lotus-feet within his heart, used to proudly say, ‘If necessary for Radha’s seva, I will go to hell. I don’t want anything else but Radha. I will not accept Krishna alone. If Krishna comes to me alone, I will send Him back.

‘If such an attitude would ruin me, then let it be. I will accept Krishna neglectfully, and only then if He comes along with Radha! Because I am Radha’s maidservant, I will wander around being proud of Radha. If, however, the Divine Pair comes then I will offer myself to Them. I always sing Radha’s name with tears in my eyes and thrill bumps on my body.’” (Suchaka Kirtana (v.16-18) of Radha-Govinda das)

When Ananda Gopala Goswami passed away, his son Srila Nikunja Gopala Goswami said, “There was no question of any inheritance talks. My father was only saying: ‘Ha Radhe! Ha Radhe!’’ Remembering that moment, his disciple Giriraja Baba said, “He would just cry out two names of Radha: ‘Ha Svamini! Ha Karunamayi!’” (adapted from hagiography of Sri Advaita dasji)

Sri Advaita Prabhu Parivara ki jai! Thakuraji Sri Sri Madana Gopala ki jai!

Sri Ananda Gopala Goswami ki jai! Radhe Radhe! Radhe Radhe! Radhe Radhe! Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

From 1989-1992, we lived in the Radha-Damodara Mandira, and had close association with Acharya Sri Nirmal Chand Goswamiji. Sometimes, I would sit with Goswamiji, and he would tell me about his plans and ideas for developing the mandira and improving Thakuraji’s seva. At that time, Goswamijis sons were small and Goswamiji had no money. So I really wondered how Goswamiji would ever realize his dreams for improvement.

I will cite an anecdote to show how scarce the money was at that time. Just before Kartik in 1989, Goswami met me in the courtyard and greeted me with his usual full-hearted, deep sounding, “Joi Damodar!”

Up until this time, kheer bhoga was not being offered to Thakuraji. Goswamij said, “Listen, maharaja. I have no money, but for this Kartik I really want to offer daily kheer to Damodara. Can you help,” he humbly asked. He said the cost was about Rp. 1100 for the month. I agreed and for three consecutive Kartiks, Damodara got His kheer bhoga. Joi Damodara!

In the mornings, I used to see Goswamij taking darshana at mangala aratika. When Kartik came, however, everything changed and I was pleasantly surprised. Goswami himself was personally offering the mangal aratika to Damodarji.

Up until this time, I never saw anyone sitting inside the bhajana kutir of Srila Rupa Goswamipada. One day around 5 a.m., I saw someone inside the kutir, sitting very straight with his back toward the door. Every day during Kartik that person sat there without moving from 5 am until 10 am chanting, meditating, and reciting stotrams and other prayers. I asked Kanika who that was, and as a loving son proud of his father he replied, “That’s my father inside the kutir observing his niyam seva vrata for Kartik!”

During our three years together, Goswami would often sit with me revealing his plans. He told me that if he ever gets any money, he would like to: widen the darshana doors of Damodar’s altar; offer a new granite altar with nice chatris above Thakurji; widen the doorway from the samadhi courtyard to the mandir; remove the broken old stones and make a smooth safe parikrama marga; erect a new samadhi for Srila Rupa Goswamipada; install murtis of Sri Jiva and Sri Rupa in their kutir and samadhi; establish murtis of all six Goswamis in a small temple; repair and make new temple entrance gate; cover the darshan mandap with monkey cage; protect entire parikrama marga with monkey cage; build a hari-katha hall before the samadhi; establish goseva; start distribution of kitri bhog to the poor neighbors; start a monthly spiritual magazine glorifying Damodarji; improve Thakurjis bhoga standard, dresses, decorations, lighting and decorations; and build nice guest rooms in the temple for yatris and devotees.

After these meetings, I used to sit in Srila Prabhupada’s kitchen and think, “Here is one devotee who lives and breathes, dreams, thinks and talks only about the seva of his most beloved Thakurji, Sri Damodarlal. I was very, very impressed with the depth of Goswami’s attachment to Damodarji, and his burning desire to please the Lord of his life in every possible way.

Even though Goswami had no money and a family of some playful boys, still he always talked about his plans. Nirmal Chandji or “Panchu” as he was affectionately addressed, always spoke with great enthusiasm about his plans. Goswamiji overflowed with confidence and hope, knowing in his heart that surely in time, Damodar would do everything.

And now twenty-seven years later in 2016, we can all clearly see how Lord Damodar has fulfilled every single plan of Shri Nirmal Chand Goswamiji for Thakurji’s seva. This is a miracle of devotion! The grand success of the magnificent Radha-Damodar Mandir clearly shows the amazing bond of love between Lord Damodar and His dearest eternal sevait, Shri Nirmal Chand Goswamiji.

The full moon is cooling, soothing and very beautiful, but flawed by the presence of spots. The full moon of devotion for the Lord, however, the Damodar Bhakti Chandra, is both beautiful and also spotlessly pure. And that Damodar Bhakti Chandra is none other than Shri Nirmal Chand Goswamiji. Joi Damodara! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

Sri Sri108 Siddha Manohara Dasa Babaji Maharaja of Govinda Kunda was a paragon of intense vairagya, japa and lila-smarana absorption. In 1847, he took birth in Madhavapura in Nadia Dt. He lost both his parents by the time he was thirteen, and thus became completely detached from material life. Leaving home, he went to Simuliya and took diksha from Advaita vamshacharya, Sripad Nandakishore Gosvami. While in Navadvipa, Siddha Baba studied Sanskrit grammar, alankara, and nyaya. After sometime, he accepted virakta-vesha [babaji initiation] from Sri Rupa dasa babaji, who was his siksha guru.

In 1881, at the age of 34, Manohara Dasa moved to Vrindavana and spent five years learning bhakti-shastras from Sripada Gopilala Gosvami Prabhu, a sevait of Thakuraji Radharamana. Afterwards, he did bhajana in Kamyavana, Nandagrama and Kusuma Sarovara before coming to Govinda-kunda in 1915, where he stayed in a cave.

All day long, Siddha Baba did nama-japa and asta-kaliya smarana in his cave, and only came at night to beg some flour for making a few rotis. While doing lila-smarana, Siddha Baba often had sphurtis [deep visions] of Radha-Krishna’s pastimes which he recorded in his diary.

Many stalwart Vaisnavas studied Srimad Bhagavatam under Manohara dasa. He also taught smarana-anga bhajana to the famous siddha saint Sri Sri 108 Kishorikishorananda Das Babaji (Tin Kudi Goswami). With their thoughts, words, and actions, these two powerful siddha mahatmas showed the way of pure raganugiya bhajana.

Despite Siddha Baba’a elevated birth, erudition and detachment, he considered himself to be very fallen and destitute. In this mood, he always criticized himself, offered dandavats to everyone, and never allowed anyone to touch his feet. He lived alone oblivious to his surroundings. He slept and spoke very little so he could spend all his time in bhajana.

Siddha Manohara Dasa Babaji defined bhajana as: “A state of being mentally absorbed in meditating on Radha-Krishna, while rejecting any other thought as poison.”

Once a Vaisnava asked him, “How can we conquer the obstacles in performing bhajana?” He replied, “If one tries to do bhajana with all his heart and strength, Bhagavan Sri Krishna will become pleased with his earnest endeavor, and then open the gates of bhajana. Strong bhajana will gradually cleanse the mind and remove all hindrances. One must practice bhajana with eagerness, intensity, patience and determination.

“To purify the wayward mind one must give up all attachments to the material world. Pure bhakti will not appear in an impure mind. And without pure devotion, one will never attain realization of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.”

In 1917 a.d., Siddha Manohara dasa opened a temple of Sri Madana Mohana on the southern bank of Govinda-kunda near Madhavendra Puri’s Baithaka. He wrote two books titled Vaidagdhi-vilasa and Namaratna-mala. In 1947, after 66 years of doing ekanta-bhajana in Vraja, in Sravana month (July-August) on Sukla Trayodashi, Siddha Baba entered the eternal pastimes of Radha Madana Mohana. In nitya-Vrindavana, Siddha Baba is called Mani-manjari.

Siddha Manohara Dasji Maharaja ki jai! Ekanta-bhajana ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!