We have gathered at the lotus feet of the Pancha-tattva on this most auspicious occasion of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s cida-dadhi festival, the background to which can be found in his early life. Raghunatha dasa’s uncle and father, Hiranya and Govardhana Majumadara, were wealthy landlords in Bengal—almost like kings—and had a huge, opulent riverside palace, with boats that plied the river. Hiranya and Govardhana were generous and devoted to brahminical culture, and they practically maintained the entire brahman community of Nadia with their charity. Raghunatha was their only son, so naturally they put all their hopes in him to carry on the family dynasty. But from a young age, Raghunatha was attracted to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The Majumadaras’ spiritual master was Yadunandana Acharya, a disciple of Advaita Acharya (of the Pancha-tattva) and an intimate student of Vasudeva Datta, and their family’s priest was Balarama Acharya, a dear associate of Haridasa Thakura and close friend of Yadunandana Acharya. Balarama Acharya and Yadunandana Acharya used to host Haridasa Thakura, and when Haridasa stayed in their village, Raghunatha visited him daily and received his mercy. Balarama Acharya also invited Haridasa Thakura to speak in the Majumadaras’ assembly about the glories of the holy name. Thus Raghunatha dasa had the association of these great souls, followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who would tell him about Mahaprabhu and encourage him to chant.

Once, when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, after taking sannyasa, visited Shantipur, Raghunatha dasa went to meet Him. In pure love, he fell at Lord Chaitanya’s lotus feet, and the Lord, out of His mercy, blessed him with the touch of His feet. Raghunatha served the Lord for a week, and after he returned home he was mad with ecstatic love. He wanted to join Mahaprabhu in Puri, but his family would not allow him. Time and again he would run away from home to go to Puri, and every time, his father would catch him and bring him back. His father even kept five watchmen to guard him day and night, four servants to see to his comforts, and two brahmans to cook for him, so eleven people were engaged to make sure he did not go to Puri. Later, when Mahaprabhu again visited Shantipur, Raghunatha begged his father, “Please allow me to see the lotus feet of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Otherwise, my life will not remain in my body.” So, his father allowed him to go to Shantipur, sending many servants to accompany him. For seven days Raghunatha stayed in the Lord’s association, constantly thinking, “How will I get free from the watchmen? How will I be able to go with Mahaprabhu to Puri?” The Lord, being omniscient, could understand Raghunatha’s mind, and He reassured him with some important statements. These instructions form the background of the Panihati festival, and we shall read them as they are recorded in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Sixteen: “The Lord’s Attempt to go to Vrndavana.”

TEXT 237

“sthira hana ghare yao, na hao vatula
krame krame paya loka bhava-sindhu-kula


[Lord Chaitanya told Raghunatha dasa:] “Be patient and return home. Don’t be a crazy fellow. By and by you will be able to cross the ocean of material existence.

TEXT 238

“markata-vairagya na kara loka dekhana
yatha-yogya visaya bhunja’ anasakta hana


“You should not make yourself a showbottle devotee and become a false renunciant. For the time being, enjoy the material world in a befitting way and do not become attached to it.”

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The word markata-vairagya, indicating false renunciation, is very important in this verse. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in commenting on this word, points out that monkeys make an external show of renunciation by not accepting clothing and by living naked in the forest. In this way they consider themselves renunciants, but actually they are very busy enjoying sense gratification with dozens of female monkeys. Such renunciation is called markata-vairagya—the renunciation of a monkey. One cannot become really renounced until one actually becomes disgusted with material activity and sees it as a stumbling block to spiritual advancement. Renunciation should not be phalgu, temporary, but should exist throughout one’s life. Temporary renunciation, or monkey renunciation, is like the renunciation one feels at a cremation ground. When a man takes a dead body to the crematorium, he sometimes thinks, “This is the final end of the body. Why am I working so hard day and night?” Such sentiments naturally arise in the mind of any man who goes to a crematorial ghata. However, as soon as he returns from the cremation grounds, he again engages in material activity for sense enjoyment. This is called smasana-vairagya, or markata-vairagya.

In order to render service to the Lord, one may accept necessary things. If one lives in this way, he may actually become renounced. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.108), it is said:

yavata syat sva-nirvahah
  svi-kuryat tavad artha-vit
adhikye nyunatayam ca
  cyavate paramarthatah

“The bare necessities of life must be accepted, but one should not superfluously increase his necessities. Nor should they be unnecessarily decreased. One should simply accept what is necessary to help one advance spiritually.”

In his Durgama-sangamani, Sri Jiva Gosvami comments that the word sva-nirvahah actually means sva-sva-bhakti-nirvahah. The experienced devotee will accept only those material things that will help him render service to the Lord. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.256), markata-vairagya, or phalgu-vairagya, is explained as follows:

prapancikataya buddhya
mumuksubhih parityago
  vairagyam phalgu kathyate

“When persons eager to achieve liberation renounce things related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, thinking them to be material, their renunciation is called incomplete.” Whatever is favorable for the rendering of service to the Lord should be accepted and should not be rejected as a material thing. Yukta-vairagya, or befitting renunciation, is thus explained:

anasaktasya visayan
  yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe
  yuktam vairagyam ucyate

“Things should be accepted for the Lord’s service and not for one’s personal sense gratification. If one accepts something without attachment and accepts it because it is related to Krsna, one’s renunciation is called yukta-vairagya.” Since Krsna is the Absolute Truth, whatever is accepted for His service is also the Absolute Truth. . . .

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami enumerates sixty-four items of devotional service, beginning with guru-padasraya, taking shelter of a spiritual master; krsna-diksadi-siksanam, taking initiation and instruction from him; visrambhena guroh seva, serving him with respect; and sad-dharma-prccha, inquiring about one’s eternal duties. And at the end of the list he discusses certain items that he has not included but which one might think could or should have been included. One such item is the cultivation of vairagya (detachment), and Rupa Gosvami explains why he has not included it. He says that bhakti by nature makes the heart soft. The primary activities of bhakti, hearing and chanting about Krishna and remembering Him, make the heart soft, whereas the cultivation of speculative knowledge and performance of artificial austerities tend to make the heart hard—the exact opposite of bhakti.

The question then arises, “If we do not cultivate detachment from material things, are we meant to be attached to them?” The answer, of course, is no. Shastra says that a person absorbed in material enjoyment is far from being absorbed in Krishna. Then how do we resolve this dilemma—that we do not want to be attached to material things yet do not want to cultivate detachment from them? In reply, Rupa Gosvami says that a taste for devotional service itself will destroy one’s material attachments, without the hardness of heart caused by the practice of vairagya. And in this important verse he explains what kind of vairagya is suitable for bhakti:

anasaktasya visayan
  yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe
  yuktam vairagyam ucyate

Anasaktasya means “without being attached,” and visayan means “material sense objects.” Without being attached, when one engages (upayunjatah) material sense objects in appropriate ways (yatharham) in relation to Krishna (krsna-sambandhe)—in devotional service—that is called proper renunciation (yuktam vairagyam ucyate).

Srila Prabhupada used to cite the example of a famous monk in India who was supposed to be so renounced that if anyone offered him money, his hand would curl and turn away. Srila Prabhupada said, “But if anyone offers us money, we will immediately take it and use it in Krishna’s service.”

The impersonalists, who have no idea of Krishna—the beauty of Krishna—or of the actual identity of the living entity as the eternal servant of Krishna, may pose as being renounced, but actually they are not. So in contrast to yukta-vairagya, Rupa Gosvami has composed a verse that describes phalgu-vairagya. The Phalgu is a river in Bihar that has the peculiar quality of appearing like dry land. On the surface is sand, but underneath is water—a real river, with a strong current. The renunciation of impersonalists who reject the world—who reject material things as maya (illusion) even when related to the Lord—is called phalgu. On the surface they appear to be renounced, but underneath is a strong current of material desire.

In the beginning of his discussion of bhakti, Rupa Gosvami poses the question of what makes one eligible—what is the adhikara—for bhakti, and he quotes a verse from the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam:

yadrcchaya mat-kathadau
  jata-sraddhas tu yah puman
na nirvinno nati-sakto
  bhakti-yogo ’sya siddhi-dah

First, one should have faith (adau sraddha)—faith in and attraction to the messages of Krishna (mat-kathadau). And na nirvinno nati-sakto: one should not be too attached or too detached. This might also seem odd, but the Bhagavatam explains that if someone is too attached to material life, they will be unable to take to bhakti but will be inclined to fruitive activities (karma), and if they are too averse, too negative, they will take to jnana, impersonal speculation. For bhakti, one should be neither too attached nor too detached, too disgusted with material life.

yadrcchaya mat-kathadau
  jata-sraddhas tu yah puman
na nirvinno nati-sakto
  bhakti-yogo ’sya siddhi-dah

“If somehow or other by good fortune one develops faith in hearing and chanting My glories, such a person, being neither very disgusted with nor attached to material life, should achieve perfection through the path of loving devotion to Me.” (SB 11.20.8) In other words, one should be in the middle. Then the heart will be open to bhakti. Both sense gratification and artificial renunciation make the heart hard.

So, what did Lord Chaitanya tell Raghunatha dasa? First He said, “Don’t be a crazy fellow. Don’t be a monkey renunciant.” That is what Raghunatha should not do. Now, what should he do?

TEXT 239

“antare nistha kara, bahye loka-vyavahara
acirat krsna tomaya karibe uddhara


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, “Within your heart you should keep yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary man. Thus Krsna will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the clutches of maya.

TEXT 240

“vrndavana dekhi’ yabe asiba nilacale
tabe tumi ama-pasa asiha kona chale

“You may see Me at Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri, when I return after visiting Vrndavana. By that time you can think of some trick to escape.

TEXT 241

“se chala se-kale krsna sphurabe tomare
krsna-krpa yanre, tare ke rakhite pare”

“What kind of means you will have to use at that time will be revealed by Krsna. If one has Krsna’s mercy, no one can check him.”

TEXTS 242–243

In this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to Raghunatha dasa, who returned home and did exactly what the Lord told him.

After returning home, Raghunatha dasa gave up all craziness and external pseudo renunciation and engaged in his household duties without attachment.


For one year Raghunatha dasa remained at home, acting exactly as advised by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

bhitare vairagya, bahire kare sarva-karma
dekhiya ta’ mata-pitara anandita mana

“Raghunatha dasa was inwardly completely renounced, even in family life, but he did not express his renunciation externally. Instead, he acted just like an ordinary businessman. Seeing this, his father and mother were satisfied.” (Cc Antya 6.15)

Raghunatha dasa expertly handled a serious legal implication that could have led to his uncle’s arrest, thus saving his family from a difficult situation with the Muslim government. And because he was acting like a proper materialist, his family members were happy and relaxed their guard.

As a relatively new devotee, I really liked the image of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami in Vrindavan, although I did not know what his internal consciousness actually was. And I wanted to be like him—a gosvami in Vrindavan, staying one night under one tree and another night under another tree. I never said anything to Srila Prabhupada, but because he was empowered by the Lord, he could understand my mind—just as Lord Chaitanya could understand Raghunatha’s mind. One day I was sitting before Prabhupada in his room in Juhu—I hadn’t said anything—and he just looked at me and said, “First you manage your father’s property like Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, then you go to Vrindavan and be a gosvami.” At the time, Srila Prabhupada was very concerned about the Juhu project.

Finally, although Raghunatha dasa was still being watched by guards, he got the idea to meet Nityananda Prabhu in nearby Panihati. He thought, “Let me see Nityananda Prabhu, even if the guards come with me. At least let me see Lord Nityananda.”

Now we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Six: “Lord Caitanya Meets Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.”

Read more: https://girirajswami.com/blog/?p=17269

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