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Sri Abhirama Thakura Disappearance




Today is incredibly auspicious as it marks the disappearance day of Abhirama dasа Thakura. He was one of the closest associates of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His parikara, and in krishna-lila, he is known as Sridama. Abhirama dasa Thakura was an uttama-uttama-mahabhagavata, and he carried a whip called Jaya Mangala. If he whipped someone with it, krishna-prema would manifest in their heart. Gurudeva would often compare him to Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja, who would beat his disciples with a small stick during his classes.


Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave the title of Gopala Guru Gosvami to one of His disciples, who is highly regarded in our guru-parampara. Gopala Guru Gosvami's disciple, Dhyanachandra Gosvami, was also an important figure.


Once, when Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was heading towards the toilet, He held His tongue. The young boy Gopala asked Mahaprabhu, "Prabhu, why are You holding Your tongue?" to which Mahaprabhu replied, "Gopala, do you know why? My tongue is very restless because it is always chanting the holy names. But now I am going to the toilet, and my body might get contaminated. How can I chant the holy names with a contaminated body?"


Then, Gopala recited a verse, a shloka from Srimad-Bhagavatam, which says, "O Prabhu, Srimad-Bhagavatam gives evidence that even if a person is on their deathbed, they can still chant the holy names, regardless of whether their body is contaminated or not. The holy names can be chanted anytime, irrespective of the purity or impurity of the body."


etan nirvidyamānānām

icchatām akuto-bhayam

yogināṁ nṛpa nirṇītaṁ

harer nāmānukīrtanam


Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.1.11)


[“O King, constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord after the ways of the great authorities is the doubtless and fearless way of success for all, including those who are free from all material desires, those who are desirous of all material enjoyment, and also those who are self-satisfied by dint of transcendental knowledge.”]


Shukadeva Gosvamipada also recited this shloka when Pariksit Maharaja had asked the question, "What can someone do if they are on their deathbed and about to die?"


etan nirvidyamānānām

icchatām akuto-bhayam

yogināṁ nṛpa nirṇītaṁ

harer nāmānukīrtanam


Harinama does not depend on any rules and regulations, as mentioned in this verse,


khāite śuite yathā tathā nāma laya kāla-deśa-niyama nāhi, sarva siddhi haya


Chaitanya-charitamrita (Antya-lila, 20.18)


[Regardless of time or place, one who chants the holy name, even while eating or sleeping, attains all perfection.]


You can chant the holy names anytime, whether you are eating or sleeping. Do you understand? Other mantras, such as guru-mantras or gayatri-mantras, require you to first purify your body by bathing and then purify your mind with mantra-snana, put on tilaka, sit on an asana, concentrate your mind, and then chant. You must chant your gayatri-mantras or guru-mantras during the proper times (morning, afternoon, and evening), facing the proper directions (facing east in the morning and afternoon, and north in the evening). These are certain rules and regulations that one must follow.


apavitraḥ pavitro vā

sarvāvasthāṁ gato ’pi vā

yaḥ smaret puṇḍarīkākṣaṁ

sa bāhyābhyantara-śuciḥ


Garuda Purana


[Whether one is contaminated, pure or in any condition or stage of life, if one remembers the lotus-eyed Lord, Pundarikaksha, Sri Krishna, one becomes pure both externally and internally.]


After reciting the mantra above, you should say, "Om Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu, Sri Vishnu," and sprinkle some water over your head to purify your body. However, there are no rules or regulations for chanting harinama. You can chant the holy names anytime, whether it's midday, midnight, or when you're lying in bed. Just chant, ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare’. Khāite śuite yathā tathā nāma laya’ – you can chant the holy names anytime, whether you're eating, sleeping, or walking. There are no rules or regulations. Have you read Shikshashtaka? The second verse states:


nāmnām akāri bahudhā nija-sarva-śaktis

tatrārpitā niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ

etādṛśī tava kṛpā bhagavan mamāpi

durdaivam īdṛśam ihājani nānurāgaḥ

Shikshashtaka (2)

[“My Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name there is all good fortune for the living entity, and therefore You have many names, such as “Krishna” and “Govinda,” by which You expand Yourself. You have invested all Your potencies in those names, and there are no hard and fast rules for remembering them. My dear Lord, although You bestow such mercy upon the fallen, conditioned souls by liberally teaching Your holy names, I am so unfortunate that I commit offenses while chanting the holy name, and therefore I do not achieve attachment for chanting.”]


In this Kali-yuga, there are no rules and regulations for chanting the holy names. You can chant at any time. 'Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare.' So, that small boy, Gopala, said, "Prabhu, Srimad-Bhagavatam gives us evidence - Ajamila was lying on his deathbed and passing stool. Still, he chanted the holy name, Narayana, and he was delivered from this ocean of maya." Whose name did Ajamila chant? Actually, it was his son’s name Narayana. But, the original Narayana is Lord Vishnu. ‘Putropacāritam nāma’. Srila Shukadeva Gosvamipada told Pariksit Maharaja, “Ajamila chanted his son’s name, Narayana. But the Lord was thinking, ‘Oh, this is My name.’ So Ajamila attained Vaikuntha-dhama, and the Lord protected Ajamila from the Yamadutas."


Sometimes, we tell the story of nama-mahatmya. Once, a couple, a wife and husband arrived in Vrindavana. They were staying very close to Seva-kunja. They had arrived from Bengal and were thinking, "We will stay in Vrindavana for a couple of months." So the wife and husband stayed very close to Seva-kunja. They did Vrindavana-parikrama every day, visiting different places like Radha-Damodara and others. This is a true story. After one month, his wife left her body. Then, the husband became completely mad thinking, "Oh, my wife left her body." In his maddened state, what did the husband do every day? Every day, he ran around Vrindavana, here and there, shouting the name of his wife, "Kishori! Kishori! Kishori!" Day and night, he shouted his wife’s name, "Kishori! Kishori! Kishori! Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?"


One midnight, after the rasa dance, Srimati Radhika was coming out of Seva-kunja when She saw the mad person chanting her name and asking, "Kishori, Kishori, Kishori! Where are you? Where are you?!" Upon seeing this, Srimati Radhika told Lalita, "I have to give darshana to him." Lalita-devi replied, "No, he is not calling You. He is calling his wife, Kishori." "In Vrindavana, only I am Kishori. Only My name is Kishori. So I have to give darshana to him," said Srimati Radhika. Then she gave darshana to that person. This is a true story that actually happened. Although the mad and lusty person was chanting the name of his wife, Srimati Radhika said, "This name is Mine. The origin of this name belongs to Me."


As mentioned, Srimad-Bhagavatam tells of Ajamila chanting his son's name Narayana, 'putropacāritam', and Lord Vishnu sending his four Vishnudutas to protect him from the Yamadutas, showing how powerful the holy names actually are. If your name is Radha, Lalita, Vishakha, Rama, Krishna, Shyamasundara, or Rasa-bihari, what kinds of benefits will you get from speaking those names? But if your name is Chaku, Daku, or Baku, do you understand? Chaku means 'knife'. I always speak on this. If you give your son the name Chaku, Haku, or Baku, what benefits are you receiving when you call their name?


Returning to the story, Gopala told Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Prabhu, Srimad-Bhagavatam gives us evidence. At any time, under any circumstance, you can chant the holy names, even if your body is contaminated.” Upon hearing this, Mahaprabhu became very happy and awarded him the title Gopala Guru. “O, you are My guru because you have given such a nice teaching to Me,” said Mahaprabhu. So, the Lord gave him the name Gopala Guru, and all the devotees began to call him Gopala Guru as well.


Today, in our guru-parampara, Gopala Guru Gosvami is there. Do you understand? And also his disciple Dhyanachandra Gosvami. If you visit the Radha-kanta temple in Jagannatha Puri, you will see two deities there, one of which was Gopala Guru Gosvami’s, and the other, Dhyanachandra Gosvami’s. In our Gaudiya matha, in the Radha-kanta temple in Gambhira, when you enter, you will see on the left side the Radha-kanta vigraha. Who has visited Jagannatha Puri? All of you should come to Jagannatha Puri because Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s vipralambha-sthana is there. I go there every year; it is very sweet there. Do not lose this opportunity. Please come every year to Navadvipa-dhama, Jagannatha Puri, and Vrindavana-dhama; the three favoured places of Gaudiya Vaishnavas.


So, when Abhirama Thakura heard that everyone was calling Gopala a guru, he was surprised and thought, "How is it possible that such a small boy can be a guru?" Abhirama Thakura was a great Vaishnava, and if he offers pranama to an imperfect shalagrama, it will be crushed. This is because a shalagrama-shila represents Bhagavan. Lord Vishnu, Himself manifested in the form of a shalagrama-vigraha. Unfortunately, some people cheat others by taking any ordinary stone that appears blackish and selling it as a shalagrama. In this way, if the shalagrama is not perfect and Abhirama Thakura offers pranama to it, that stone will be crushed. Also, if one is not a shuddha-vaishnava and Abhirama Thakura offers him pranama, such a person will die.


So, when Abhirama Thakura heard that everybody called him [Gopala Gosvami] guru, he thought, “Ok, I will test whether he is a pure devotee, uttama-bhagavata or not.” When he heard this, Gopala Guru became very afraid. “My God. What will I do? If he offers pranama to me, then I will die. I am not an uttama-uttama-bhagavata,” thought Gopala Guru. Then he told Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Prabhu, You have given me this title. But now I will die, a big problem has now come.” Mahaprabhu replied, “Gopala, do not worry, I gave you this title, I will protect you.” Then Mahaprabhu put a tilaka mark on his forehead, Mahaprabhu put His foot-dust on the forehead of Gopala Guru. When Abhirama Thakura arrived, Gopala was hiding behind Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.


Abhirama Thakura said, “Hey Gopala, come here.” Gopala then came and Abhirama Thakura offered his pranamas. But nothing happened. Mahaprabhu has told, “My foot-dust is non different from Me.” Do you understand this concept? In this way, there are also many lilas.


Once, Minaketana Ramadasa was in the house of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, and Gunarnava Mishra (Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami’s brother) was engaged as a pujari there. At that time, being absorbed, this pujari did not offer proper respect to Minaketana Ramadasa. For this regard, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami rebuked his brother and asked him to leave his house. This actually leads us to another subject, but still relates to the story of Abhirama Thakura, who was very much an uttama-uttama mahabhagavata and also Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s very nearest and dearest.


Jaya Sri Abhirama Thakura ki jaya!



Date: 11 April 2015 Location: Russia

 

Transcriber: Sanatana dasa (USA) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA)

Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreading: Chandrika dasi (UK)

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