The Last Six Daṇḍas of the Night
(approximately 3:30 a.m. — 6:00 a.m.)
I worship Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva, who delivers the living entities of Kali-yuga (kali-pāvana) through the congregational chanting of the Lord’s holy names (śrī-nāma-saṅkīrtana-yajña). He describes the name, form, qualities and pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa; He performs kīrtana of the two syllables kṛ and ṣṇa; His complexion is fair; He is surrounded by His aṅgas (associates, meaning Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrī Advaita Prabhu), upāṅgas (servitors, meaning Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita and other pure devotees) and pārṣadas (confidential companions like Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara, Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda, Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita and the Six Gosvāmīs); and He is endowed with His weapon (astra) of harināma, which destroys ignorance.
A verse similar in meaning to Text 1 is found in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.5.32):
yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ
In the age of Kali, Kṛṣṇa appears with a golden complexion (akṛṣṇa). He is constantly singing the two syllables kṛ and ṣṇa, and He is accompanied by His associates, servitors, weapons and confidential companions. Intelligent people worship Him by performing saṅkīrtana-yajña.
kali-jīva uddhārite para-tattva hari
navadvīpe āilā gaura-rūpa āviṣkari
yuga-dharma kṛṣṇa-nāma-smaraṇa kīrtana
sāṅgopāṅge vitarila diyā prema dhana
jīvera sunitya dharma nāma-saṅkīrtana
anya saba dharma nāma-siddhira kāraṇa
“Śrī Hari, who is the Absolute Truth Himself, descended in Navadvīpa as Gaurasundara to deliver the living entities (jīvas) of Kali-yuga. Together with His associates, He distributed the treasure of kṛṣṇa-prema through śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana, the religion of the current age (yuga-dharma). Nāma-saṅkīrtana is the living entities’ only eternal religion; all other dharmas are simply secondary means to attain perfection in chanting.”
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura begins this book by praying to Śrīman Mahāprabhu. The jīva’s only duty is to worship Śrī Gaurasundara, who is resplendent with the lustre and sentiment of Śrī Rādhā. Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, the central figure (mūla-tattva) in navadvīpa-līlā, comprises five features (pañca-tattva-ātmaka). He and His four other forms – Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrī Advaita Ācārya, Śrī Gadādhara and the associates headed by Śrīvāsa – are all supremely worshipful.
The worship and service of Śrī Gaurasundara are performed only through nāma-saṅkīrtana. By this process, which is the most powerful of the nine kinds of bhakti, all the limbs of bhakti are practised. Even if the other types of sādhana are not performed during kīrtana, kīrtana is sufficient in itself; arcana, smaraṇa and so forth are nourished solely through kīrtana. Actual service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa is carried out through saṅkīrtana, a process prescribed by pañca-tattva-ātmaka Śrī Gaurasundara. Śrīman Mahāprabhu and His associates assembled and showed through śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana how to perform service to and worship of the Lord.
In this first Text the author establishes that Śrī Gaurasundara is Kṛṣṇa Himself. In the word kṛṣṇa-varṇam we find the two syllables kṛ and ṣṇa. Hence the quality of being Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇatva), which is itself the quality of being Bhagavān (bhagavattā), is displayed in the name Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. Kṛṣṇa-varṇam also refers to that person who, by remembering His previous supremely blissful pastimes of keli-vilāsa, becomes absorbed in transcendental sentiments due to intense jubilation and always describes (varṇam) – here meaning “performs kīrtana of” – the name of Kṛṣṇa. He has assumed a fair complexion, and out of supreme compassion has instructed all living entities to chant Kṛṣṇa’s name, which will naturally manifest in their hearts simply by receiving Śrī Gaurasundara’s darśana. Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who possesses the potency to make the impossible possible (aghaṭana-ghaṭana-paṭīyasī-śaktimān), accepted the form of a devotee and appeared as Gaurasundara. In other words Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself directly manifested as Gaurasundara.
This incarnation (avatāra) of Śrī Caitanyadeva is extremely difficult for ordinary sādhakas to understand. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.9.38) Prahlāda Mahārāja says: “channaḥ kalau yad abhavas triyugo ’tha sa tvam- – O Puruṣottama, in Kali-yuga You are concealed. Your name, therefore, is Tri-yuga, the Lord who appears only in three yugas, because this covered incarnation is not clearly evident in any scripture.”
When the great scholar Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya saw the brightly shining ecstatic transformations (sūddīpta-aṣṭa-sāttvika-bhāvas) in Śrīman Mahāprabhu, he was amazed; he knew that these extremely rare transcendental sentiments are not seen in any human being. Nevertheless, he doubted that Śrīman Mahāprabhu was Kṛṣṇa Himself and expressed this to Śrī Gopīnātha Ācārya:
ataeva ‘triyuga’ kari’ kahi viṣṇunāma
kaliyuge avatāra nāhi – śāstra-jñāna
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 6.95)
[Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya said:] The verdict of the scriptures is that there is no incarnation of Śrī Viṣṇu in Kali-yuga; hence, one name of Śrī Viṣṇu is Tri-yuga.
Hearing this, Gopīnātha Ācārya said:
kali-yuge līlāvatāra nā kare bhagavān
ataeva ‘triyuga’ kari’ kahi tāra nāma
pratiyuge karena kṛṣṇa yuga-avatāra
tarka-niṣṭha hṛdaya tomāra nāhika vicāra
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 6.99–100)
In Kali-yuga there is no līlā-avatāra of Śrī Bhagavān; therefore His name is Tri-yuga. But certainly there is an incarnation in each yuga, and such an incarnation is called a yuga-avatāra. Your heart has become hardened by logic and arguments and thus you cannot consider these facts.
On the other hand, when Śrī Rāya Rāmānanda, who is Viśākhā Sakhī in vraja-līlā, received darśana of Mahāprabhu, he clearly realised His identity. He said:
pahile dekhiluṅ tomāra sannyāsī-svarūpa
ebe tomā dekhi muñi śyāma-gopa-rūpa
tomāra sammukhe dekhi kāñcana-pañcālikā
tāṅra gaura-kāntye tomāra sarva aṅga ḍhākā
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 8.268–9)
At first I saw You in the form of a sannyāsī, but then I saw You as a dark-complexioned cowherd boy. Now I see a shining figure in front of You, whose golden lustre appears to cover Your entire body.
Statements in various Purāṇas prove that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the source of all incarnations. At the time of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s name-giving ceremony, Śrī Gargācārya said:
āsan varṇās trayo hy asya
gṛhṇato ’nuyugaṁ tanuḥ
śuklo raktas tathā pita
idānīṁ kṛṣṇatāṁ gataḥ
Your son Kṛṣṇa appears in every yuga as an avatāra. Previously He assumed three different colours – white, red and yellow – and now He has appeared in a blackish colour.
The Mahābhārata (Dāna-dharma 149.92, 75) states:
sannyāsa-kṛc chamaḥ śānto
[Bhīṣma said to Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja:] Kṛṣṇa first appears as a gṛhastha with a golden complexion. His limbs are the colour of molten gold, His body is extremely beautiful, He is decorated with sandalwood pulp and He continuously chants “Kṛṣṇa”. Then He accepts sannyāsa and is always equipoised. He is firmly fixed in His mission of propagating harināma-saṅkīrtana and He defeats the impersonalist philosophers, who are opposed to bhakti. He is thus the highest abode of peace and devotion.
Furthermore it is said in Bhagavad-gītā (4.8): “dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge – to re-establish the principles of religion, I appear in every yuga.” The āgama-śāstras state: “māyāpure bhaviṣyāmi śacī-sutaḥ – in the future, the son of Śacī will appear in Māyāpura.” Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī writes in Tattva-sandarbha (Anuccheda 2):
antaḥ kṛṣṇaṁ bahir-gauraṁ
kalau saṅkīrtanādyaiḥ smaḥ
I take shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, who is outwardly gaura, of fair complexion, but is inwardly Kṛṣṇa Himself. In Kali-yuga He displays His associates, servitors and confidential companions while performing saṅkīrtana.
And in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 8.279) it is said:
rādhikāra bhāva-kānti kari’ aṅgīkāra
nija-rasa āsvādite kariyācha avatāra
To taste Your own transcendental mellow You appeared as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, accepting the sentiment and lustre of Śrīmatī Rādhikā.
The rays of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya’s yellow lustre, which resemble molten gold, destroy the darkness of ignorance. To destroy the darkness of the activities that are opposed to bhakti performed by the living entities in Kali-yuga, Śrī Mahāprabhu wanders the Earth together with His aṅgas (associates), upāṅgas (servitors) and pārṣadas (confidential companions), and with the weapon of the saṅkīrtana of Hare Kṛṣṇa and other names of Bhagavān. Other incarnations destroyed demons with armies and weapons, but Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s aṅgas and upāṅgas are His army. According to the scriptures, the word aṅga means aṁśa, or part, and the aṅga of an aṅga (part of a part) is called an upāṅga. Śrī Nityānanda and Śrī Advaita Ācārya are both Śrī Caitanya’s aṅgas, and their parts, the upāṅgas, are Śrīvāsa and the other devotees who always accompany Mahāprabhu. They preach Bhagavān’s name, Hare Kṛṣṇa, which is itself the “sharp weapon” capable of destroying atheism.
In this Text the adjective saṅkīrtana-prāyaiḥ, which means “consisting chiefly of congregational chanting”, defines harināma-saṅkīrtana-yajña as abhidheya-tattva, the means to attain the goal. In the incarnation of Śrīman Mahāprabhu the main weapon is harināma-saṅkīrtana, by which He destroys the atheism of the atheists and the sins of the sinful. He who worships Śrī Caitanyadeva through nāma-saṅkīrtana-yajña is intelligent and attains all perfection; he who does not worship Him is unfortunate, unintelligent and devoid of pious merit (sukṛti).
To conclude, in this age of Kali the only objects worthy of meditation are Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s lotus feet, which fulfil all treasured desires. Apart from Śrī Caitanyadeva’s mercy, nothing is eternal or permanent; rather, everything is perishable and incapable of fulfilling these desires.
Stavāvalī (Śrī Śacīsūnv-aṣṭaka (5)) says:
nijatve gauḍīyān jagati parigṛhya prabhur imān
hare kṛṣṇety evaṁ gaṇana-vidhinā kīrtayata bhoḥ
iti prāyāṁ śikṣāṁ caraṇa-madhupebhyaḥ paridiśan
śacī-sūnuḥ kiṁ me nayana-saraṇīṁ yāsyati padam
When will Śacīnandana Gaurahari appear on the path of my eyes? He accepted the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas in this world, who are like bees at His lotus feet, as His own, and He instructed them to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra by counting a fixed number of rounds.
Here Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī expresses the natural, affectionate mercy of Śrīman Mahāprabhu for the inhabitants of Gauḍa (Bengal). Their relationship with each other is likened to the affectionate relationship of near and dear ones in this mundane world (laukika-sad-bandhuvat). This means they have a natural feeling of possessiveness (madīya-bhāva, or mamatā) towards Śrīman Mahāprabhu, by which they think, “Gaurasundara is ours”. In Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, in the section describing rāgānuga-bhajana, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī explains that a mood of laukika-sad-bandhuvat, which is characterised by intense possessiveness (mamatā) in relation to Bhagavān, is indeed the symptom of deep prema for Him.
Although Rasarāja Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared as Gaurasundara and gave the process of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra to the entire world, He displayed special compassion towards the inhabitants of Gauḍa. There, in Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, is the place renowned as the aparādha-bhañjana, where every kind of offence is vanquished.
Being entirely overwhelmed by bhāva, Śrī Gaurasundara, the originator of saṅkīrtana, would perform kīrtana and dance in the company of the Gauḍīya bhaktas in an unprecedented way. As the sentiments in Śrī Gaurasundara’s heart swelled more and more upon seeing His affectionate devotees, like bees they would become intoxicated by drinking the honey-like bliss of prema at His lotus feet.
At the time of saṅkīrtana, Śrī Gaurasundara would dance and sing and become absorbed in ecstatic bliss as He tasted the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa’s rāsa dance with Śrī Rādhā and the other vraja-gopīs. The wonderful expressions of the spiritual sentiments of this sweet and enchanting dance, which is possessed of transcendental śṛṅgāra-rasa, thus embellished Him with prema, and He became decorated with the ornaments of extraordinary ecstatic symptoms (aṣṭa-sāttvika-bhāvas) such as the shedding of tears and the standing of bodily hairs on end.
During the Ratha-yātrā Festival in Jagannātha Purī, Mahāprabhu’s ecstatic dancing and kīrtana reached their topmost limit. To support Mahāprabhu’s sentiments Śrī Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāya Rāmānanda sang poetry endowed with samṛddhimān sambhoga-rasa, the mellows experienced by Śri Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa when They meet after having been far away from each other. Svarūpa Dāmodara sang, “sei ta parāṇa-nātha pāinu, yāhā lāgī’ madana-dahane jhuri’ genu – now I have attained the master of My life. In His absence I was being burned by Cupid and was withering away.” Hearing this, Mahāprabhu would gaze upon Jagannātha’s lotus face. When Their eyes met, Mahāprabhu’s heart would be agitated by waves of ecstatic mellows of prema, and He would proceed to dance according to the mood of the song. At such times Śrī Gaurasundara would exhibit extraordinary expressions. He would bite His lips, which were pinkish like the bandhūka flower, artistically place His left hand on His hip, and move His right hand to demonstrate wonderful dance postures that were extremely attractive. This sight would overwhelm Śrī Jagannātha Himself with astonishment and supreme bliss. Tasting the sweetness of the unprecedented beauty of Mahāprabhu’s dance, Śrī Jagannātha would slowly and gently proceed towards Sundarācala (which represents Vṛndāvana).
The brightly shining golden lustre of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s large body defeated the splendour of a golden mountain. Absorbed in ecstatic bliss, Śrī Gaurasundara loudly chanted His own names, hare kṛṣṇety uccaiḥ sphurita-rasanaḥ.1 Surrounded by His devotees, Mahāprabhu performed kīrtana, and His restless lotus feet danced. Tears flowed from His eyes like streams of Gaṅgā and Yamunā water, and His bodily hairs stood erect in a way that was astonishing, thus resembling the filaments of a kadamba flower.
Remembering the unprecedented sweetness of Mahāprabhu’s prema, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī said, “When will Śacīnandana Śrī Gaurahari appear on the path of my eyes?” As Śrī Dāsa Gosvāmī remembered the great compassion of Mahāprabhu, he became overwhelmed by feelings of separation from Him. He offered this prayer, while continuously shedding tears, waiting for the darśana of his beloved Lord with the utmost longing and hope. Then Śrī Gaurasundara’s own compassion, abundant steadfastness, unsurpassed renunciation and fully transcendental prema-bhakti arose in the heart of Dāsa Gosvāmī, who became overwhelmed with ecstatic emotions. He had lived close to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu for a long time and had received unlimited affection, mercy and blessings from Him. The compassion of Śrī Gaurasundara is just like that of a mother. For this reason Dāsa Gosvāmī addresses Him as Śacīnandana, the son of Mother Śacī. Śacīnandana Śrī Gaurahari bestowed His mercy even upon all kinds of unqualified jīvas, thus making them fortunate.
The Viṣṇu-rahasya states:
yad abhyarcya hariṁ bhaktyā
kṛte kratu-śatair api
phalaṁ prāpnoty avikalaṁ
Whatever fruit can be obtained in Satya-yuga by devoutly performing austerities and so on for hundreds of years, can be obtained in the age of Kali simply by chanting the names of Śrī Govinda.
satya-yuge śata śata yajñe haryarcana
kalite govinda-nāme se phala-arjana
“The result received in Satya-yuga by meditation on Bhagavān, in Tretā-yuga by worshipping Bhagavān through great sacrifices, and in Dvāpara-yuga by performing arcana of Bhagavān according to proper rules, is obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting nāma-ābhāsa, a semblance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s names.”
In Kali-yuga, Śrīman Mahāprabhu Himself, the saviour of the fallen, accepted the mood and conduct of a devotee and taught the path of devotion to the entire world. The Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa states:
harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
In Kali-yuga there is no other way for the jīva than chanting harināma. There is no other way, there is no other way.
The mention of pure harināma three times in this verse demonstrates the need for fixed determination in performing bhakti and the need for one to understand the futility of other practices like karma, jñāna and yoga.
The Bṛhad-viṣṇu Purāṇa states that other kinds of atonement (prāyaścitta) are not necessary for one who chants the holy name:
nāmno ’sya yāvatī śaktiḥ
tāvat kartuṁ na śaknoti
pātakaṁ pātakī janaḥ
Śrī Hari’s name possesses such potency to destroy sins that it can counteract more sins than even the most sinful person is able to commit.
kona prāyaścitta nahe nāmera samāna
ataeva karma-tyāga kare buddhimān
The scriptures describe methods of atonement for many kinds of sins. By chanting śrī harināma, however, all kinds of sins are destroyed. Therefore no other kind of atonement is required for one who is chanting the holy name. Nāma Prabhu has the capacity to destroy more sins than a sinful man is able to commit: eka hari-nāme jata pāpa hare, pāpī haya tata pāpa karibāre nare.
The superiority of kīrtana is described in Vaiṣṇava-cintāmaṇi (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (11.236)):
kīrtanaṁ tu tato varam
Sins are destroyed with great effort by remembering Viṣṇu, but by chanting His name, they are very easily destroyed. Kīrtana is performed simply by using the lips to vibrate the names of Bhagavān and is far superior to smaraṇa (remembrance).
tapasyāya dhyāna yoga kaṣṭa sādhya haya
oṣṭhera spandana-mātre kīrtana āśraya
oṣṭhera spandanābhāve nāmera smaraṇa
smaraṇa kīrtane sarva siddhi-saṅghaṭana
arcana apekṣā nāmera smaraṇa-kīrtana
ati śreṣṭha bali śāstre karila sthāpana
“Austerities, meditation, yoga and other practices are very difficult to perform in Kali-yuga, but kīrtana is easy; one need only vibrate one’s lips. Nāma chanted without moving the lips is called nāma-smaraṇa. The jīva can attain all perfection by nāma-kīrtana and nāma-smaraṇa. The scriptures have therefore concluded that kīrtana and smaraṇa of the holy name are superior to arcana.”
The practices of karma, jñāna and yoga are difficult and trouble-some, but the path of bhakti is easy and simple. In Bhagavad-gītā (2.40) Śrī Kṛṣṇa says:
pratyavāyo na vidyate
svalpam apy asya dharmasya
trāyate mahato bhayāt
Endeavours on the path of bhakti-yoga are neither fruitless nor subject to faults. Even a little performance of bhakti-yoga frees one from the great fear of material existence.
Even though mistakes made in the practices of meditation, yoga and so forth may be insignificant, as a consequence of those mistakes the desired result is unattainable. Actually, only bhakti-yoga is completely nirguṇa, free from the influence of the material qualities of goodness, passion and ignorance. Even if a person begins to practise bhakti-yoga but for some reason his practice remains incomplete, there is no defect or fault in his endeavour. Neither destruction nor misfortune in this world or the next awaits a person who has fallen from the path of bhakti-yoga.
The main limb of bhakti-yoga is nāma-kīrtana, which is performed merely by vibrating the lips. The holy name is not of this material world. Nāma Prabhu dances on the tongue of the sādhaka and, destroying his prārabdha-karma and other impedi-ments, bestows everything up to prema. In previous yugas, a practitioner who was unable to fix his mind in the practice of yoga was unable to attain the goal. Yet in Kali-yuga perfection can be attained simply by uttering the holy name. In Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, Sanātana Gosvāmipāda states that kīrtana is more powerful than smaraṇa. By the process of kīrtana both the mind and the tongue attain a special pleasure.