Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana – Disappearance Day

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The only hope for those aspiring to attain the lotus feet of Vrajendranandan Shyamsundar and Shrimati Radhika is to follow in the footsteps and take inspiration from the various exalted devotees appearing in the line of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Prem Purushottam and who appeared to distribute the highest and most sublime process to attain the goal of this human form of life, which is Krishna prem, through the chanting of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. These great personalities appear in this material world due to the sweet will of the Lord, in order to encourage, inspire and set examples for the sadhakas. The appearance and disappearance days of these great personalities is therefore an excellent opportunity to remember and discuss about them and be enthused with determination and eagerness to imbibe in ourselves their teachings. The auspicious Shukla Dashami tithi in the month of Jyeshta gives us an opportunity to be enlivened by remembering two great personlaities, namely Ganga Mata Goswamini, who made hear holly appearance on this day, and Shri Baladev Vidyabhushan, who brought his pastimes in this material world to an end on this day.

Ganga Mata Goswamini, who was the only daughter of King Naresanarayan of Puntiya in the district of Rajsahi was named Saci at the time of her birth and was endowed with all good qualities.  Due to her exceptional intelligence she was able to master the various scriptures on grammar and poetry at a young age and charmed all the people in the kingdom with her personality. Due to her single pointed devotion and attachment to her Lord Madangopal, she refused to get married, which put her parents into great anxiety, leading them both to leave their bodies, thus putting all the responsibility of the administration on Saci. Having performed her royal duties for a while she decided to go for pilgrimage and leaving the administration in charge of her relatives, she went to Puri in search of a Spiritual master. There she felt inspired to go to Shridham Vrindavan, where she had the good fortune to meet Haridas Pandit, a great devotee of Gaur Nitai and a disciple of Ananta Acarya and requested him to give shelter to her at his lotus feet. Knowing her to be a princess and to test her conviction, he told her to go back and practice bhakti in her house, as it would not be possible for a princess to practice devotion in Vrindavan without relinquishing all worldly possessions. She, however, did not go back and continued to stay in Vrindavan with great renunciation. Soon enough she relinquished all her costly clothing and ornaments and dressed herself in tattered clothes. Seeing this Haridas Pandit instructed her to further give up all sense of pride and dignity and go on Madhukari, begging alms, which she did, placing her guru´s order upon her head. She very dedicatedly followed all the instruction of Haridas pandit, cleansed the temple, attended all religious discourses and Aratis and in this way carried out her bhajan with great devotion and determination. Seeing her dedication, Haridas Pandit mercifully initiated her on Shukla trayodashi in the month of Chaitra and thereafter she completely dedicated her life to the lotus feet of her Guru and Shri Krishna. Hearing the discourses of her Guru and following the path of bhakti under his guidance, she soon became well versed and fully acquainted with all spiritual truths.

After performing her bhajan in this way, also in the association of another disciple of Haridas Pandit, Shrimati Lakshmipriya, for some time, she was instructed to go to Jagannath Puri and preach the teachings of Shri Gaurahari. In Shrikshetra, where most of the associates of Shri Sachinandan had already left this earth, she resided in the dilapidated house of Sarvabhauma bhattacharya and worshiped his Damodar Shaligram. There she would recite the Bhagwatam in the presence of the respectable residents of Puri and soon became well known for her discourses. One day Mukunda dev, the king of Puri, came to hear her discourses and was inspired to offer some service to her. That night he was instructed in a dream by Jagannath himself to donate her a site close to Sveta Ganga. Although she first refused the King´s offering, she later excepted it as the order of Jagannath and thus she was given a site close to Sveta Ganga. It happened to be so, that the people of Puri knew her to be a princess, but soon she gained the respect of the people as a great Vaishnavi.

Once Saci devi desired to bath in the most purifying Ganges on the auspicious occasion of Varuni. However, she gave up the idea because it was her Spiritual master´s instruction that she should remain in Puri dham. Nevertheless, the Lord always fulfils the desires of his pure devotees and therefore Lord Jagannath dev appeared in Saci´s dream and instructed her to take bath in Sveta Ganga on the day of Varuni and at that time Ganga devi herself will appear there at her bathing place. Following the instructions of the Lord she went at midnight to take a dip in Sveta Ganga on the auspicious day and as soon as she entered the waters, she was swept away by the swelling waves of the Ganges and was carried inside the temple of Lord Jagannath. The Security gaurds of the Jagannath temple heard sounds emanating from the restricted area of the temple and immediately informed the King and the temple doors were opened to check who was inside. To everyone´s utter surprise, they all saw Saci devi there and the pandas suspected that she had come to steal the Lords ornaments. Although the idea of Saci devi being a thief was inconceivable for many, yet she was locked up in a prison, as they were not able to understand the mysterious situation. Being oblivious and unconcerned about the external circumstances, she merely continued her bhajan as usual in the prison and chanted Harinaam with great bliss. That night Jagannath again appeared in the dream of the King and angrily ordered him to immediately release her from the prison, as it was he who had brought her inside the temple. He also instructed the King that he and all his priests should beg for forgiveness and take shelter at her lotus feet, accepting her as their Spiritual master.  Early the next morning, the King along with his priests released her from prison and took shelter of her lotus feet and explaining the dream, requested her to initiate them. In accordance with the Lords instructions, she initiated the King and the priests, and hence forth she came to be known as Ganga Mata Goswamini. On this auspicious occasion of her appearance day, we pray at her lotus feet to please be affectionate towards us all and bestow her mercy upon us.

This day also marks the disappearance day of a very great personality in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, namely Srila Baladev Vidyabhushan. Born in Orissa, near Puri, in a place called Chilka Lake, he was a brilliant learner from his very childhood and learned all vyakarana, vedas, Upanishads and the various other scriptures. He was particularly interested in studying the Vedanta, and being dissatisfied with Shankaracarya´s explanation, he went to Udupi, where he studied all the commentaries on the Vedanta written by the various acharyas. Having thus acquired vast knowledge and expertise on the Vedanta, he went to Puri with the intention to conquer and defeat everyone in debate. There he met Radha Damodar Das, a great scholar in the line of Shyamananda Prabhu and Rasikananda Prabhu, and started to discuss philosophy with him, intending to defeat him, however, he was convinced that the conclusive truths presented by Radha Damodar Das were the highest and therefore he immediately took shelter of his lotus feet and took initiation from him. Thereafter he went to Shri Vrindavan Dham, where he took shelter of his Shiksha guru Shri Visvanath Cakravarti Thakur, and studied Jiva Goswami´s Six Sandarbhas. While performing bhajan under the guidance of Vishwananth Chakravarti Thakur, a dispute broke out in Jaipur. The worship of Shrimati Radhika alongside Shri Krishna was opposed by the Ramanuja Sampradaya followers and therefore the worship of Radharani in the Temple was stopped. The Ramanuja Sampradaya, which propounds vaidi bhakti and varnashram dharma, challenged the Gaudiya Vaishnavas and put three challenging questions before them. Firstly, they objected to the worship of Shrimati Radharani alongside Krishna, as they were not married. Secondly, They stated that Shrimati Radhika´s name is not mentioned anywhere in the Shastras and Thirdly they claimed that the Gaudiya Vaishnavas were not in any Sampradaya, as there are only four Vaishnav Sampradayas and the Gaudiyas are not in any of them and they also do not have a commentary on the Vedanta sutra, and therefore they are not an authorised line of Devotees. In order to resolve this dispute, the King of Jaipur invited Shrila Vishyanath Chakravarti Thakur, who was the most prominent Gaudiya Vaishnava at that time, but due to his old age and the fact that he had taken Kshetra Sanyas and would not go out of Vrindavan, he sent his disciple Baladev Vidyabhushan and another devotee to Jaipur, to address the assembly and solve the dispute.

In Jaipur, Baladev Vidyabhushan quoted many Puranas, Vedas, Upanishads and Shrimad Bhagwatam, proving the position of Shrimati Radhika as Shyamsundar´s eternal consort and his Hladini Shakti. He also described the pastime when Lord Brahma stole all the cows and Cowherd boys and Krishna expanded himself, and at that time he married all the Vrajadevis in his expanded forms as the Cowherd boys. In this way he proved the exalted position of Shrimati Radhika.

However, the opposing party argued that the Gaudiya vaishnavas were not under any proper Sampradaya. Shri Baladev Vidyabhushan then proved that the Gaudiya Vaishnavas are in the line of Sri Madhavacharya. They then argued that the Gaudiya Vaishnavas did not have a commentary on the Vedanta Sutra, and therefore they did not accept anything that he said. He then said that he would present a commentary to prove the authenticity of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. He then prayed to Govinda dev and with his mercy he was able to write a commentary on the Vedanta Sutra. Since the commentary was spoken directly by Govinda dev, which Baladev Vidyabhushan wrote, therefore this commentary was named Sri Govinda Bhashya. After having thus defeated the opponents in the debate and proving the exalted position of Shrimati Radhika as Krishna´s eternal consort, he re-established the worship of Shrimati Radhika with Govinda dev, and proved the Gaudiya Vaishnava line to be a pure Vaishnava Sampradaya under Madhavacharya. If not for Shrila Baladev Vidyabhushan, the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya would never have been accepted as bona fide and therefore we are eternally indebted to him. On this day of his disappearance we pray to him that he bestows Krishna prema upon us all.