Sree Raghunath Das Goswami Part III

February 1930

Avoiding the paths that led through the villages Raghunath proceeded along the forest tracks meditating on the feet of Chaitanya with body, mind and speech. He journeyed thirty miles in course of a single day and stopped in the cattle-shed of a cow-herd in the evening. Finding him fasting the milkman offered him milk. Raghunath after drinking the milk lay there for that night.

Here, at his parental home, the guards detecting his absence went to his Guru and enquired about his where-abouts, who told them that Raghunath after taking his permission had returned home. There was now a great clamour, 'Raghunath has fled.' His father said that Raghunath must be fleeing in the company of the devotees of Gauda who were on their way to Nilachal to meet the Lord, and directed ten men to pursue and bring him back. He wrote a letter to Sivananda couched in supplicating terms to send back his son. Those ten men went as far as Jhakra where they overtook the party of the Vaishnavas. Presenting the letter to Sivananda they asked him about Raghunath. Sivananda told them that Raghunath had not come to him. Those ten men there-upon returned to the parents of Raghunath who were filled with fear and anxiety for their child on receiving the tidings.

Meanwhile Raghunath Das getting up at early dawn after the night's rest in the cattle-shed turning aside from the easterly direction in which he had been moving, faced southwards and after crossing Chhatrabhoga left the main road and journeyed by way of small, out-of-the-way hamlets. He trudged on all day without food. He did not feel the inconvenience of hunger, his mind being fixed on the attainment of the feet of Chaitanya. Sometimes by mastication, sometimes by cooking, at times by drinking milk he maintained life by what-ever method of feeding himself was available at any time.

Raghunath reached Sri Purushottam after a journey of twelve days. He took food on three days on the way. When Raghunath gained the company of the Vaishnavas the Lord was seated with Swarup and the other devotees. He made his prostrated obeisance from a distance, remaining in the yard. Mukunda Das said, ‘Here is Raghunath just arrived’. The Lord said, 'Come'. Raghunath clasped His feet. The Lord rose and out of mercy embraced him. Raghunath greeted the feet of Swarup and other devotees. All embraced him on noticing the Lord favouring him.

The Lord said, 'The mercy of Krishna is the most powerful of all. It has snatched you from the abyss of the filth of worldliness’. Raghunath said to himself in his mind, ‘I do not know Krishna. Your mercy has snatched me; this, indeed, I do admit.’ The Lord said, ‘I regard both your father and uncle as My grand-fathers on the maternal side by reason of their relation with my maternal grand-father. Both of them are as servants in the form of brothers of Nilambar Chakrabarti. I avail of this to cut jokes with them. Your father and uncle are maggots wallowing in the sink of the filth of worldliness. In their infatua¬tion they dream as happiness the intense agony of the poison of worldli¬ness. Although they perform the rituals enjoined by Brahmanas and help the latter in every way, they are still not pure Vaishnavas but have merely the appearance of such. Yet worldliness is by its nature stark blind. It makes one do that which produces the bondage of birth. Krishna has delivered you from the clutches of worldliness which is so fatal. The greatness of the mercy of Krishna is beyond all expression'.

Noticing the emaciation and uncleanliness of Raghunath the Lord said to Swarup with a mind softened by pity, 'This Raghunath I give to your keeping. Be pleased to accept him as son and servant. There are with me three of them each of whom bears the name of Raghunath. Swarup's Raghu is his name from this day'. Saying this Lord took hold of the hand of Raghunath and made him over to Swarup. Swarup said, 'As is the command of the Supreme Lord'. So saying he again embraced Raghunath.

The affection of Chaitanya for His devotees is the wonder of His biographers. The Lord pitying Raghunath spoke thus to Govinda, 'He has suffered much hardship on the journey. Make him very comfortable for some time'. Going up to Raghunath the Lord said, "Bathe in the sea. On your return after seing Jagannath, take your meal". Saying this Lord rose for His meal. Raghunath Das then paid his respects to all the devotees who were struck with wonder on beholding the mercy of the Lord to Raghunath, and they all greatly praised his good fortune.

Raghnnath went to the sea, bathed there and came back to Govinda after seeing Jagannath. Govinda gave him the dish containing the remains of the Lord's meal. He accepted the great favour with joy. In this manner Raghunath stayed at the feet of Swarup. Govinda gave him the prasad for, five days. From the next day after seeing the flower-offering ceremony of Jagannath Raghunath used to remain standing at the Lion Gate for food. The servitors of Jagannath are all worldly people. They retire at night to their families after finishing their respective services at the Temple. If they chance to meet any Vaishnava standing in expectation of food at the Lion Gate they kindly give cooked food to some shop-keeper for feeding such persons. The custom has prevailed at all time for devotees who ask for nothing, to remain thus standing at the Lion Gate. The Vaishnava performs the Samkirtan of the Name all day and sees Jagannath undisturbed by any selfish anxieties. Some repair to Ghhatras where they accept any food that is available. Others wait at the Lion Gate at night for alms. Renunciation of worldliness is the predominant characteristic of the devotees of the Supreme Lord, which is pleasing in the sight of Lord Gaur.

Govinda informed the Lord, 'Raghunath does not accept the prasad but obtains his food by standing at the Lion Gate for alms'. On hearing this the Lord was pleased and said, 'He has done well. He has adopted the course worthy of one who has renounced the world. The Vairagi (one who has renounced the world) should always chant the Name. He must live on food obtained by begging. If a Vairagi depend on another, his object is frustrated. Krishna disowns such renunciation. If a Vairagi entertains the desire of gratifying his palate, he misses the great object of renunciation and comes under the bondage of worldly hankering into the bargain. The duty of a Vairagi consists in the performance of the Samkirtan of the Name at all time and filling his stomach with grass, leaves of trees, fruits and roots. He who runs hither and thither for the gratification of his palate, being addicted to good eating and sexuality, never attains Krishna.'

Another day Raghunath laid his request at the feet of Swarup to enlighten him about the mode of life that it was proper for him to lead, 'I have not even the remotest idea why I have been made to renounce home. May the Lord instruct me as to what I am to do'. Raghunath never spoke even a single word to the Lord directly. He submitted what he had to say for him¬self through Swarup and Govinda. One day Swarup laid at the feet of the Lord the request of Raghunath, 'He has not the remotest idea of his duty. He wishes to learn from the holy lips of the Lord Himself as to what he is to do.'

The Supreme Lord with a smile said to Raghunath, 'I have made Swarup your preceptor. Learn from him the true principles of the method and object of spiritual endeavour. He knows more of them than even Myself. Yet if you cherish any trust for My command you may feel assured by what I am telling you. Do not listen to worldly talk, nor use your lips for such talk. Do not eat nor dress well. Take the Name of Krishna at all times, desiring no honour for yourself and rendering honour to all. Serve in the mind Radha and Krishna in Braja. This is My instruction in brief. You will get the details of it from Swarup.'

After hearing this Raghunath greeted the feet of the Lord. The Supreme Lord bestowed on him the mercy of His embrace and once again commended him to the charge of Swarup. In the company of Swarup, Raghunath engaged in the inner service of the Lord.

(To be continued)