All glories to Śrī Guru and Śrī Gaurāṅga

Protected Journey

by Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj in the book 'Dignity of the Divine Servitor'

Yesterday someone asked, "How do we see that Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa is in the line of Viśvanāth Chakravartī and Rūpa Goswāmī?" Actually they are protectors of our sampradāya from the illusory environment created by the paṇḍit section.

When Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa began writing the Govinda-bhāṣya, he first gave his obeisances to Kṛṣṇa, then to Jīva Goswāmī. He considered Jīva Goswāmī to be our Guru by giving protection from the paṇḍits.  Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa wrote the following praṇām mantram:

yaḥ sāṁkya paṅkena kutarka pāṁśunā
vivartta-garttena ca lupta dīdhītiṁ
śuddhaṁ vyadhāt vāk sudhayā maheśvaraṁ
kṛṣṇaṁ sa jīvaḥ prabhu rastta me gatiḥ

This is a very difficult śloka and hard for me to explain in English. What I am explaining is not a literal translation but it gives the mood, the bhāva. He says, "I offer my full dandavats unto the lotus feet of Śrīla Jīva Goswāmī who is the protector of our spiritual life. He rescues us from the whole illusory environment."

He protects us from saṅkhya philosophy which he compares to quick-sand. When the jīvas want to cross over the ocean of material existence, they first come across muddy quick-sand. In the nyāya śāstra, the endless dry arguments are likened to ashes, soot, and smoke blowing in the wind and covering the eyes, sky, and everything around so we cannot see what is really in our front. Through the wind of bad arguments, everything is covered and we cannot see Krṣṇa.

Next he mentions vivartta-garttena. Vivartta-vāda is Śaṅkarācāryya's philosophy of nirvviśeṣa-vāda which is compared to a hole in the road.

You want to go to Kṛṣṇa but cannot. Why? Because in the road there are these kinds of disturbances. The first disturbance comes from saṅkhya philosophy; compared to mud. Not only can you not cross it, but it is the kind of mud, like quicksand, from which you cannot extract yourself. The next disturbance is kutarka, which means nyāya-śāstra, argument, which is compared to the blowing of soot and smoke. Still you try to progress on your journey, but suddenly many large blind holes appear in the road. These holes are like Śaṅkarācāryya's vivartta-vāda. This is, māyāvāda: vivartta-garttena ca lupta dīdhītiṁ. The māyāvāda philosophy is waiting for you in the road like a hole; if you fall into that hole you may be lost forever. In that hole you lose your body, nobody gives you any food or nourishment, nothing is there and you die there. But, Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa says, "Śuddhaṁ vyadhāt vāk sudhayā maheśvaraṁ—Jīva Goswāmī is the rescuer from that environment, and he has shown Śrī Kṛṣṇa in His exalted position—jyotira bhyantare rūpaṁ atulaṁ śyāmasundaram. I offer my everything to him." It is difficult for me to explain in English, but this is the line of thought.

So Jīva Goswāmī is our protector, and Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa is a paṇḍit of similar standing to him. He was initiated into the Mādhva-sampradāya and later, after reading the literature of Jiva Goswāmī Prabhu and Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭhākur he became a devotee of the Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava-sampradāya—Mahāprabhu's sampradāya.

Both Rādhā-Govinda and Nārāyaṇa are worshipped in the king's palace in Jaipur. The tradition was always that the devotees and the King of Jaipur would first worship Rādhā-Govinda and then Nārāyaṇa. But there was another sampradāya who objected and they created a conflict. They said, "First Nārāyaṇa should be worshipped then Rādhā-Govinda." They challenged the Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇavas: "This Deity is a Deity of the Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇavas so whoever is a qualified Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava within your sampradāya, bring him; we shall debate with him and certainly we will defeat him!" Then all the Vaiṣṇavas went to Viśvanāth Chakravartī who was at that time in Vṛndāvana. He was very old and he was disinclined to go there or to engage in the debate. He thought, "Those opposing in Jaipur have a very bad argument but they do not know it." But who was to go?

At that time Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa was with Viśvanāth Chakravartī Ṭhākur. Viśvanāth Chakravartī examined him to see if he could establish our conception of the worship of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa before the worship of Nārāyaṇa. Viśvanāth Chakravarti became very satisfied and thought him to be the best person to establish this Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava principle. He therefore requested Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, "Please, you go to Jaipur."

Taking his blessings he went alone to the king's assembly in Jaipur. His body was very thin, and he had all the appearance of a Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava. He was not old but at that time his age was perhaps only thirty to forty. On first seeing his age the devotee king was not satisfied, but when seeing his bright face, he considered, "Yes, the better representatives may all be elderly and unable to come, but they have sent this bright younger devotee. Now we eagerly wait to see what he will be able to do."

Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa then faced the Rāmānuja-sampradāya's challenge. The Rāmānuja paṇḍits asked their first question: "Whose bhāṣya are you following?"

 Bhāṣya means interpretation. At that time a sampradāya would be recognised only if they had a bhāṣya of Vedānta, a bhāṣya of Upaniṣad, a bhāṣya of Viṣṇu-sahasra-nāma stotra, and a bhāṣya of Gītā. In many places this criterion is mentioned that a sampradāya can be recognised when these are present. Such bhāṣya did not exist in the Gauḍīya-sampradāya, so the paṇḍits said, "We shall not talk with you because you are not following any sampradāya."

Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa responded, "If it is necessary to have such bhāṣya for me to talk with you, give me seven days. After seven days I shall talk with you, and at that time I shall inform you whose bhāṣya I am following."

They replied, "Yes, take seven or ten days." So he went to Govindadeva, the Deity of Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī, and taking the blessings of the Vaiṣṇavas of our sampradāya, he bowed down to Govindadeva and took permission from Him to make the bhāṣya.

After seven days he again met with the opposing paṇḍits and presented to them: "I am following this Govinda-bhāṣya of Vedānta-darśan, it is in our sampradāya.''

"Who made it?"

"I myself."

Like Śaṅkarāchāryya and Rāmānujācāryya, he composed his own bhāṣya. Looking at his face and talking with him, the paṇḍits were surprised: "Within only seven days he composed it. He is a very great paṇḍit."

Very easily Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa then defeated them by clearly showing them that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Nārāyaṇa is coming from Kṛṣṇa, not that Kṛṣṇa is coming from Nārāyaṇa. He established this principle in that meeting and he proved that Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are both to be worshipped by everybody, and They are the Supreme Personality. The paṇḍits became very happy, and until the present day this process of worshipping Rādhā-Govinda followed by the worship of Nārāyaṇa is still being practised in Jaipur.

When writing the bhāṣya, he made his praṇāms to Kṛṣṇa and then to Jīva Goswāmī. Included there is this śloka:

yaḥ sāṁkya paṅkena kutarka pāṁśunā
vivartta-garttena ca lupta dīdhītiṁ
śuddhaṁ vyadhāt vāk sudhayā maheśvaraṁ
kṛṣṇaṁ sa jīvaḥ prabhu rastta me gatiḥ

When Guru Mahārāj would explain this śloka, his mood and expression would change in such a way that, seeing his face, we would think him to be just like Jīva Goswāmī. It was as if Jīva Goswāmī was actually sitting there in front of us!

So this is the history of the Govinda bhāṣya, and this is how Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa made his commentaries. Since that time Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa, though he was a young man, has been worshipped by the Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇava-sampradāya. His contribution is our wealth.

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip.
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