Shree Raghunath Das Goswami IV

(Continued from P.21 June 1930.)

February 1931

From this time onwards Raghunath continued to worship the Govardhan Shila and the garland of gunja. Having received this extraordinary Favour Raghunath forgot everything else in his great joy. He attached himself with body, mind and speech to the service of the Feet of Shree Gauranga. ‘Raghunath’, says Kaviraj Goswami, possessed good qualities that knew no end. It is never possible for any one to describe them all. Raghunath acted up to the rules enjoined by the Shastras for the life of perfect renunciation with the most scrupulous fidelity. The course of Raghunath’s life is comparable only to the line that is cut into the slab of hard stone in the quality of its enduring firmness.

The life of Raghunath at Puri has been recorded by Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami in a few telling words. Seven and a half praharas of his day were spent in kirtan and recollection. There was left scarce four dandas, during night and day, for meal and also, on certain days, for sleep. The story of his renunciation is a most wonderful narrative. During the whole of his life he never allowed his tongue to taste any enjoyable food. He never wore any other clothing than patched and tattered old kantha and rags. He carried out with the utmost care the command of the Lord. He ate what was barely sufficient for maintaining life. He reproved himself for eating too much. ‘A person whose chitta is cleansed by true knowledge is enabled to know the nature of the soul and thereby gains everything. Then why do sinners, neglecting such course for what purpose or for what reason, care for nourishing their bodies?’

Acting on the above maxim of the Bhagabat Raghunath was extremely careful not to indulge in the taste of good eating. ‘The remains of the cooked rice offered to Shree Jagannathdeva, which was left unsold on the hands of their vendors become rotten in course of two or three days. They cast the rotten rice to the Tailangi cows at the Lion Gate of the Temple. Those cows would not touch the rice by reason of the rotten smell. Raghunath brought the rice home during night. He washed it in a great quantity of water. He could then find a quantity of rice which still had a solid core. Raghunath are that portion of it mixing with salt.’ On a certain day Swarup found him eating the rice. He was moved to a smile and begged to have a small quantity of the same which he tasted with relish. Swarup, as he ate the rice, made the remark ‘that Raghunath ate such nectarine food daily all by himself without giving any of them a share. He was, indeed, unpardonably selfish’. The Lord heard of this from Govinda. One day the Lord appeared before Raghunath. He found him at his meal and said, ‘All of you eat excellent food. Why don’t you give it to Me?’ Saying this the Lord ate a mouthful. As He was going to take more Swarup caught Him by the Hand. Swarup snatched the rice from the Hands of the Lord remarking that it was not fit for Him. The Lord said, ‘I eat daily a great variety of Prasad. I do not find such taste in any other Prasad.’ The Lord performed Pastimes like these in His Dealings with Raghunath. He was at heart pleased at the spirit of renunciation of Raghunath.

Raghunath passed sixteen years in the confidential service of the Person on the Supreme Lord. After the disappearance of Swarup, Raghunath came to Brindaban. He made up his mind not to survive Swarup. But he wished to meet Sri Rupa and Sanatana at Brindaban. It was his purpose thereafter to effect his departure by throwing himself from the mount Govardhana. When Das Goswami greeted the feet of Sri Rupa and Sanatana at Brindaban the brothers became aware of Das Goswami’s resolve. They dissuaded him from his resolve to leave the world. They made him live with them as their third brother.

Sri Rupa and Sanatana listened constantly from the lips of Raghunath about all the Pastimes, His inner as well as outer Activities, of the Supreme Lord. Raghunath lived for a long period at Brindaban. He survived Sri Rupa Goswami for a short time. During his residence at Brindaban, Das Goswami continued the same kind of life that he had been leading at Puri in the company of Sri Swarup Damodar.

Raghunath now gave up cooked rice and water on which he had been living. He gave up speaking about any other subject. He ate matha (sour milk) in measure of two to three palas. He performed daily a thousand prostrated obeisances, took the holy Name a lakh of times and made obeisances to two thousand Vaishnavas. He served Radha-Krishna night and day in his mind. He recited the Deeds of Mahaprabhu for the space of one prahara every day. Raghunath bathed in Radha-kunda, without omission, three times during the day, in the morning, at noon and at evening. He offered his embrace to all Vaishnavas living in Braja. He passed seven and a half praharas in the performance of devotional activities. He slept for four dandas but that also was omitted on certain days. Anyone who is fortunate enough to have an opportunity of listening to an account of Raghunath’s method of serving the Supreme Lord is bound to experience a feeling of the most exquisite astonishment.

Three famous works are attributed to Shree Raghunath Das Goswami. They are (1) Stavamala, (2) Sri Danacharita and (3) Muktacharita. They are mentioned in a very old shloka of an anonymous writer. They are also found in Bhakti-Ratnakar by Sri Ghanashyam Das. In Gaura—Gannoddesha Dwipika Sri Kavikarnapur has identified Shree Das Goswami Prabhu with Sri Rasamanjari of Braja-lila, with the remark ‘that he is also held by certain devotees to be identical with Sreemati Ratimanjari or Bhanumati.’ Sri Krishnadas Kaviraj, author of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, was the recipient of the mercy of Shree Das Goswami from whose lips he heard about the Activities of Sri Chaitanya which he has recorded in his biography of Mahaprabhu.

The spirit of renunciation which is so prominent throughout the life of Das Goswami has a positive aspect which is likely to be missed by those who are votaries of a life of austerity as a result of so-called realisation of the miseries of the life of enjoyment. Externally there is no doubt about a great similarity between the life of Das Goswami and that of the practisers of renunciation of the type inculcated by Sri Sankaracharyya in the Mohamudgara. Asceticism of this latter type is satisfied by the act of renunciation. If it is asked why it renounces the normal activities of the world in favour of an abnormal mode of life it can only meet the charge by the assertion that detachment from the world is the only efficient way of securing the fuller and more vigorous exercise of one’s physical and mental powers and aptitudes. If asceticism do not take up some such position it becomes a form of cynicism. In either case it should be impossible for such an ascetic to understand the value or nature of the positive activity of Shree Das Goswami prabhu.

The ideal of the service of Shree Raghunath Das Goswami is that of the self-less hand maids of Sri Radhika whose service of Sri Krishna is the only sufficient service of the Supreme Lord. Shree Das Goswami accordingly does not covet the direct service of the Lord. He wants to be serviceable to Sri Radhika. This is the real nature and the positive significance of the spirit of Shree Raghunath Das Goswami’s renunciation of activities that are not acceptable to Sri Radhika.