Book excerptsAcarya KesariŚrīla Prabhupāda āratī

Śrīla Prabhupāda āratī

Paramārādhyatama Śrīla Gurudeva composed an exquisite āratī in honour of his worshipful gurudeva, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda. When it was published in Śrī Gauḍīya-patrikā, all of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples and grand-disciples became delighted to read it. Everyone started giving thanks, either in person or indirectly. Some of the ācāryas of the Śrī Gauḍīya Maṭha could not curb their greed to publish it in their respective magazines, omitting Śrīla Gurudeva’s name. From then onwards, all the Gauḍīya Maṭha devotees began to sing Śrīla Gurudeva’s āratī-kīrtana at the time of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s āratī.

jaya jaya prabhupādera
ārati nehārī
yoga-māyāpura-nitya-
sevā-dānakārī (1)
All glories, all glories to the āratī ceremony of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda, which bestows eternal service at the Yogapīṭha in Māyāpura upon those who observe it.

sarvatra pracāra-dhūpa
saurabha manohara
baddha-mukta alikūla
mugdha carācara (2)
Like the enchanting fragrance of incense, his preaching has spread everywhere, astonishing all devotees, both liberated and conditioned, and all living entities, both moving and non-moving.

bhakati-siddhānta-dīpa
jāliyā jagate
pañca-rasa-sevā-śikhā
pradīpta tāhāte (3)
He lit up the entire world with the lamp of the perfect conclusions of pure devotion (bhakti-siddhānta). This lamp is composed of five brilliantly glowing flames, which represent service in the five primary rasas.

pañca mahādīpa yathā
pañca mahājyotiḥ
triloka-timira-nāśe
avidyā durmati (4)
The five flames of the āratī lamp are like five radiant lights that represent the five rasas and that destroy the darkness of ignorance and crooked intelligence throughout the three worlds.

bhakati-vinoda-dhārā
jala śaṅkha-dhāra
niravadhi bahe tāhā
rodha nāhi āra (5)
The water in the conch shell is the conception of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, which even today flows continually and which cannot be checked by anyone.

sarva-vādya-mayī ghanṭā
bāje sarva-kāla
bṛhat-mṛdaṅga-vādya
parama rasāla (6)
Kṛṣṇa-kīrtana, which is accompanied by karatālas, bells and other instruments, resounds for all time, but really it is the printing press, known as the bṛhad-mṛdaṅga, which distributes the supreme rasa in all directions.

viśāla lalāṭe śobhe
tilaka ujjvala
gala-deśe tulasī-mālā
kare jhalamala (7)
Resplendent tilaka adorns his broad forehead, and around his neck shines a necklace of tulasī beads.

ājānu-lambita bāhū
dīrgha kalevara
tapta kāñcana-baraṇa
parama sundara (8)
With his long arms extending to his knees, his towering figure, and his complexion like molten gold, he is supremely beautiful.

lalita-lāvaṇya mukhe
sneha-bharā hāsī
aṅga kānti śobhe jaiche
nitya pūrṇa śaśī (9)
His charming, lovely face displays a smile which is full of affection, and the beauty of his bodily complexion is like a perpetually full moon.

yati-dharme paridhāne
aruṇa-vasana
mukta kaila medhāvṛta
gauḍīya gagana (10)
Attired in daybreak-coloured cloth, which signifies the religious principles of sannyāsa, he nullified the misconceptions which were like clouds covering the clear Gauḍīya sky, and established the doctrine of pure bhakti.

bhakati-kusume kata
kuñja viracita
saundarye-saurabhe tāra
viśva āmodita (11)
His many temples are like splendid kuñjas filled with aromatic bhakti flowers (his bhaktas). The beauty and fragrance of these kuñjas delight the entire universe.

sevādarśe narahari
cāmara ḍhūlāya
keśava ati ānande
nirājana gāya (12)
As Narahari Prabhu, the ideal servant, fans Śrīla Prabhupāda with a cāmara, Keśava dāsa sings this āratī song with great delight.

Pūjyapāda tridaṇḍi-svāmī Śrīmad Bhakti Bhūdeva Śrautī Mahārāja was one of the prominent tridaṇḍī-sannyāsīs who took shelter of jagad-guru Śrīla Prabhupāda. He was expert in scriptures such as the Vedas, the Upaniṣads, the Purāṇas, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Gītā, and he was deeply respected in the Sārasvata Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya. When he read this āratī-kīrtana, he immediately came to Śrī Dhāma Navadvīpa from his maṭha in Jhāḍagrāma (in Medinīpura district) and congratulated Śrīla Gurudeva: “Mahārāja, it is very surprising that we could not recognize you until now, although we were living closely together in Śrīla Gurudeva’s āśrama for such a long time. Your heart is so full of pure bhakti and such guru-niṣṭhā (profound and unflinching faith for śrīla gurudeva), but we could not catch even the slightest scent of it.

“We thought that you were only expert in managing and other worldly tasks, but all our conceptions about you have been proved wrong. Today, by great fortune, it seems that Śrīla Prabhupāda is adoring your incomparable guru-niṣṭhā and the unmatched quality of your bhakti. I think that he is personally sitting in your heart and manifesting through you these wonderful moods of pure bhakti, which are full of beautiful siddhāntas. You are glorious. We hope that you will continue to bestow limitless benefit upon the world by composing more unprecedented poems, prayers, essays and articles in the future.”

We will now explain some of the deep moods contained in the stanzas of this āratī.

Verse 1.

Yoga-māyāpura-nitya-sevā-dānakārī. The topmost part of Goloka is called Vraja, Vṛndāvana or Gokula and next to it is Śvetadvīpa, or Navadvīpa. In the heart of this Navadvīpa-dhāma is Śrī Dhāma Māyāpura. Here, Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa, having accepted the bodily lustre and intrinsic moods of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, comes as Śrī Śacīnandana Gaurahari and relishes various types of bhāvas with His eternal associates. It is very rare for jīvas to attain the great fortune of entering the most munificent śrī gaura-līlā. Nayana Mañjarī of śrī kṛṣṇa-līlā is Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura in śrī gaura-līlā. His eternal form is described in his praṇāma-mantra.

śrī-vārṣabhānavi-devi-
dayitāya kṛpābdhaye
kṛṣṇa-sambandha-vijñāna-
dāyine prabhave namaḥ

Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura as Śrī Nayana Mañjarī is the most dear sakhī of Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī Śrīmatī Rādhikā, who is Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s beloved and the embodiment of unnatojjvala-madhura-rasa. To those who take shelter of him, he awards the rare gift of eternal service to the ocean of compassion, Śrī Śacīnandana Gaurahari. Śrīla Prabhupāda, who is the best among the followers of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, also mercifully bestows the rarely obtained service of Śrī Gaurahari upon those who perform or even witness this āratī. This āratī is extraordinary and transcendental, and has unique and distinctive features, not seen in other āratīs.

Verse 2.

rīla Prabhupāda propagated pure bhakti and established preaching centres all over the world by sending his brahmacārīs, sannyāsīs, disciples and grand-disciples to the nine islands of Navadvīpa, then to all the important cities, and even to mountains and forests, all over India and around the globe. By the aroma of his nectarean preaching, all kinds of conditioned and liberated jīvas were and are attracted to follow śuddha-bhakti. In ordinary arcana, incense is offered first to the deity. The fragrance of that incense is confined to the temple, whereas the aroma of the preaching of pure bhakti delights and attracts the whole world. This is the transcendental distinction of the incense of preaching śuddha-bhakti.

If Śrīla Sarasvatī Prabhupāda had not propagated pure bhakti everywhere, then the whole world would have remained completely deprived, and thus inauspicious. People from West Bengal and other parts of India, also, would have been completely deprived of śuddha-bhakti, that is, rāgānuga-bhakti and especially rūpānuga-bhakti. His means of preaching, which was to publish and distribute bhakti literature, is unprecedented; it was never heard of or seen before. In this way, he created a new wave of the bhakti revolution throughout the world. Far from India, in large and small countries in both the West and the East, small children, young boys and girls, men, women and old people can be seen completely immersed in the Vedic culture. One can see them everywhere in these countries, holding a japa-mala in their hands, and wearing tilaka and śikhās. Dancing to the beat of mṛdaṅga and karatālas, they perform nāma-saṅkīrtana in their homes, in their temples and on the streets. Huge temples of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Gaura-Nityānanda, Śrī Jagannātha-Baladeva-Subhadrā and other deities have been established around the world. All this is the contribution of the mahāpuruṣa, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda.

Verse 3.

In the worship of the deity, the ghee lamp (dīpa) is offered after the incense. In this unique worship, the wicks of the lamp are the philosophical conclusions of bhakti. The bhakti doctrines are ten in number (daśa-mūla-tattva):

  1. Scriptures such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam which have been accepted by the guru-paramparā are the best pramāṇa, or authentic evidence.
  2. Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Absolute Truth.
  3. He is sarva-śaktimān, the possessor and master of all potencies.
  4. He is the reservoir of all the rasas.
  5. Both the conditioned and liberated souls are His vibhinnāṁśa-tattva, His separated parts and parcels.
  6. Conditioned souls are controlled by māyā.
  7. Liberated souls are free from māyā.
  8. The spiritual and material worlds are manifestations of Śrī Hari, and are inconceivably and simultaneously one with Him and different from Him.
  9. Bhakti is the only means of sādhana.
  10. Love of Kṛṣṇa is the only goal.

These ten doctrines of bhakti are like roots and medicinal herbs, and the essential juice of these roots and herbs is the ghee that burns in the wicks of this ghee lamp. The five great wicks are the five types of sthāyībhāva, and the five types of rasa – śānta, dāsya, sakhya, vātsalya and madhura – are the five flames.

Verse 4.

he rays of these effulgent flames are vibhāva, anubhāva, sāttvika and vyabhicārī. The darkness of ignorance of the three worlds is destroyed forever by the powerful effulgence of this ghee lamp, characterized by the five transcendental tongues of flame. When the conditioned souls see this effulgence, the darkness of their corrupt intelligence and aversion to Kṛṣṇa is dispelled. Thus the effect of this extraordinary lamp completely destroys darkness, or ignorance. Who lit this lamp in the present age? The lamp of the siddhāntas of bhakti was ignited by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura.

Verse 5.

fter incense and the ghee lamp, water is offered in a conch shell. Here, the conch shell is bhakti-vinodana, the transcendental delight (vinodana) of devotion. (In other words, the conch shell is Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.) The water in the conch shell is the pure and fragrant flow of śrī rūpānuga-bhakti released by bhakti-bhagīratha Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. The current flows from this conch shell eternally and uninterruptedly, like an unbroken stream of oil, and will continue to flow in the future as well; this current of bhakti will never be interrupted. The stream of water from this conch shell will continue to shower fortunate souls in this world, so that they drown in bhagavat-rasa.

Verse 6.

The bell is very important in the worship of the deity. While offering incense, lamp and other items, it is essential to ring the bell, which is sarva-vādya-mayī, the sum total of all musical sounds. The role of the bell, which keeps ringing eternally in this extraordinary āratī, is also quite unique. This transcendental bell is powerful hari-kathā. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s whole life was permeated with hari-kathā ; indeed, he was the embodiment of hari-kathā. His hari-kathā would never stop, not even for a moment. It would automatically start to flow, even when he saw innocent children or trees and plants. His hari-kathā was so potent and effective that anyone who heard it would immediately become inspired with bhakti.

Kīrtana is also essential in the performance of arcana. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has written in his Krama-sandarbha commentary on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.5.23–24, “yadyapy anyā bhakti kalau karttavyā tadā tat (kīrtanākhyā bhakti) saṁyogenaiva – If a person executes other limbs of bhakti, he should perform harināma-saṅkīrtana at the same time. In Kali-yuga, performing any sādhana independent of saṅkīrtana will not bear any fruit.” Thus it is essential to perform kīrtana while doing arcana. Saṅkīrtana is divided into different types, such as nāma-kīrtana, rūpa-kīrtana, guṇa-kīrtana and līlā-kīrtana. Amongst these, nāma-kīrtana is the best of all: tāra madhye sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 4.71).

The mṛdaṅga is another essential part of saṅkīrtana. The contribution of the bṛhad-mṛdaṅga, that is, the printing press, is of utmost importance in the āratī propagated by Śrīla Prabhupāda. The sound of an ordinary mṛdaṅga is very limited, but the bhakti literature published by the bṛhad-mṛdaṅga reaches every corner of the world. It enters the heart of practising devotees and makes them dance in the ecstasy of harināma-saṅkīrtana. The sound of this bṛhad-mṛdaṅga never stops. It eternally arises in the heart of the devotees and keeps inspiring them. All glories and victory to the āratī of Śrīla Prabhupāda, who has established this bṛhad-mṛdaṅga !

Verses 7 and 8.

In this āratī-kīrtana, paramārādhyatama Śrīla Gurudeva has described the divine beauty of oṁ viṣṇupāda Śrī Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda’s transcendental body. “My most worshipful Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda is most dear to Śrīmatī Rādhikā as Śrī Nayana Mañjarī. However, out of humility, he has manifested his name in this world as Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī, covering his previous name, form and so on. Thus he has shown the ideal of tṛṇād api sunīcena, being more humble than a blade of grass.

“His broad forehead is beautified by urddhva puṇḍra tilaka. Three strands of tulasī beads shine brilliantly around his neck. His long arms reach down to his knees, his stature is tall, he has beautiful and well-built limbs, and his bodily complexion defeats the lustre of pure gold. All these symptoms of a mahāpuruṣa announce in unison that he is a great personality.

Verses 9–12.

“An affectionate smile is always playing on his charming and lustrous lips. He has adopted saffron-coloured garments such as doṛ-kaupīna, bahirvāsa and uttarīya according to sannyāsa-dharma. The illuminating light from these garments has destroyed the dense darkness of the clouds that covered the Gauḍīya sky after the disappearance of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa Prabhu. He has established śuddha-bhakti preaching centres all over India and abroad. These preaching centres are like the pleasure groves (vilāsa-kuñjas) of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa. Fashioned from the flowers of the bhakti-latā, their beauty and fragrance delights the whole world.

“This āratī of Śrīla Prabhupāda is eternally present in Śrī Māyāpura-dhāma. His dear-most Śrī Narahari Sevā-vigraha Prabhu is fanning Śrīla Prabhupāda with a cāmara. In this way, Śrī Keśava is blissfully performing the āratī-kīrtana.”

Today, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas everywhere affectionately sing this beautiful āratī-kīrtana composed by Śrīla Gurudeva.

[CC-by-ND GVP]

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