3. Mahaprabhu turns back from Kanai Nat Shala
The third attempt Mahaprabhu made to go to Vrindavan was more serious, but here again there is a difference in the tone of the stories, with only CCN and CC giving primordial importance to Vrindavan, and CC making the meeting with Rupa and Sanatan the principal, though hidden, purpose of the trip. As we have noted elsewhere, the dates of the MGK are in some dispute and the unity of the composition has been challenged. The date on the manuscripts is given as 1513 AD, but this first trip to Vrindavan also took place in 1515, the successful trip accomplished later in the same year. So this fateful year marked not only the trip to Vrindavan but also the liberation of Rupa and Sanatan from their employ in Hussein Shah's court.
Murari Gupta may himself have been the one who filled out the later portions of Mahaprabhu's biography as he heard it from other sources. The style of the later (post-1513) portions does not differ from the previous portions.
CBh, however, entirely skips the trip to South India, which MGK describes it in 3.3.14-15, though the section on Paramananda Puri (3.3.15) does fit in sequence with Vrindavan Das's account. More analysis will have to be given to MGK's version; it is quite possible that 3.18 was the last part of an earlier redaction of the work and the entire fourth book a later addition, containing material that is not touched by Vrindavan Das. Some of these things can be found in CCMK, which invites the question of whether Vrindavan Das and Kavi Karnapur both had access to the same edition, or to one more complete than the other. For the purpose of this article, however, we will continue to analyse following the most probable chronological sequence of their composition: (1) MGK, (2) CCMK, (3) CBh, (4) CCN and (5) CC.
MGK clearly states that Mahaprabhu wanted to go to Mathura (3.17.1) and that was the purpose of his trip to Bengal, though that motive is less prominent in the account of Vrindavan Das. MGK devotes two chapters to this trip, one dominated by the story of Devananda Pandit and his transformation into a devotee by the grace of Vakreshwar, the second the visit to Ramkeli village. The passage is of some interest, since it differs considerably from the CBh version:
vṛndāvana-nivāsī tvaṁ satyaṁ satyaṁ na saṁśayaḥ ||4||
mathurāṁ gantum icchāmi tvayā sārdhaṁ yathā-sukham |
lupta-tīrthasya prākaṭyaṁ tathā vṛndāvanasya ca ||5||
kartum arhasi tat sarvaṁ mat-kṛpāto bhaviṣyati |
bhakti-svarūpiṇī sākṣāt prema-bhakti-pradāyinī ||
Janardana [MGK uses all epithets of Vishnu/Krishna to designate Mahaprabhu] placed his feet on Rupa head and said, "You are truly a resident of Vrindavan. Of this there is no doubt. I want to go to Mathura with you, which would be most agreeable. You should reveal the forgotten holy places and Vrindavan itself. All this shall be done in the future by my grace. My mercy is bhakti itself, which bestows devotional love.
ārāmaḥ kṛṣṇa-candrasya ramyaṁ vṛndāvanaṁ śubham ||7||
śrī-rādhayā saha kṛṣṇo yatra krīḍati sarvadā | |
agamyam yogibhir nityaṁ deva-siddhair naretaraiḥ ||8||
nirjanaṁ taj-janādyaiś ca gatvā kiṁ syāt sukhāya ca
tvat-kṛpā-śastra-rūpeṇa chittvā me dṛḍha-śṛṅkhalām ||9||
rāja-pātrādi-rūpāṁ ca prāpayya nija-sannidhim |
śakti-sañcāraṇaṁ krṭvā kuru kṛṣṇa yathā-sukham ||10||
Hearing this, the greatly intelligent Sanatan along with his brother said, "The auspicious land of Vrindavan is Krishna's pleasure garden, for that is where he sports with Radha eternally. It is inaccessible to yogis or gods or the perfected siddhas or other humans. It is a secluded place, so how will going there with all these people be pleasurable? But if you cut our bonds in the shape of our position in the court with the sword of your mercy and give us your association, empowering us, then you can do with us as you like."
bhavan-manorathaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ sadā pūrṇaṁ kariṣyati ||11||
evaṁ taṁ parisantoṣya kṛṣṇo nāṭya-sthalaṁ gataḥ |
rajanyāṁ cintayām āsa satyam uktaṁ na saṁśayaḥ ||12||
sanātanena kṛtinā tan-mukhena ca mādhavaḥ |
mām āha nirjanaṁ satyaṁ vṛndāraṇyaṁ sudurlabham ||13||
loka-saṅghair gate nityaṁ duḥkham eva na saṁśayaḥ |
saṅgaṁ tyaktā gamiṣyāmi dakṣiṇaṁ cādhunā vraje ||14||
After hearing this necateran speech, Mahaprabhu laughed and said, "Krishna will always fulfill your desires." Having pleased them, the Lord continued as far as the Natya Shala. That night, however, he reflected, "It is true what the very competent Sanatan said. Without a doubt. Krishna himself has spoken through his mouth. He told me that it is very difficult to know the real, secluded Vrindavan. Going there with a big crowd of people will certainly lead to distress. I will go there without any company, but for now I shall head back south."
This concludes the MGK section. CCMK 19.1 starts by saying that Mahaprabhu's intention was to go to Mathura by following the Ganges as far as Prayag, where he would follow the Yamuna to Braj. Ramananda Raya persuades him to wait until Vijaya Dashami. But after describing the walk as far as Nabadwip, Karnapura pretty much abandons the story except to add information that we have never seen elsewhere, namely that Mahaprabhu returned to Puri and then went to Vrindavan and while he was there Ramananda Raya left his body (20.35-36). CCMK ends very shortly thereafter, enhancing our suspicions that MGK originally ended at around the same place in the lila. CCN deals with the subject in Act 9, but does not elaborate more than to tell that Keshava (Bosu) told the king that Mahaprabhu would not be going to Vrindavan, but would return to Puri and go some other time. Karnapura's description then merges into one of the final trip to Vrindavan.
Caitanya-bhägavata has a fuller description of the visit to Ramkeli:
When Lord Chaitanya came to Nilacala, King Prataparudra was away waging war against the southern kingdom of Vijayanagara. So he did not meet with him. Meanwhile, Lord Chaitanya, after a long sojourn in Nilacala eagerly went back to Bengal. The Lord felt especially loving towards the Ganga and so he went quickly to Bengal. (CBh 3.3.269-272)
But a few verses later, Mahaprabhu tells Sarvabhauma's brother Vachaspati that he desired to go to Mathura, after spending a few days bathing in the Ganga. (3.3.278) In the CBh version, while staying at Kuliya, crowds of people started coming. After some time there, he began proceeding to Mathura (3.4.3) along the Ganges until he arrived at Ramkeli. Here it is clear that the disquiet that arose from is arrival came from the king himself. Although Vrindavan Das places places words of praise in Hussein Shah's mouth, when Keshav (Khan) and others discuss the situation and agree that his mood could change at any moment; he cannot be trusted (3.4.77-82). When they advise him in this way, however, Mahaprabhu diminishes the importance of worldly powers or their ability to control him and here makes the prediction that his name will be sung in every town and village (3.4.126), and even Muslimams will shed tears chanting it (3.4.121). Then he suddenly changes his mind:
nā gelen mathurā phirilā āra bāra
bhakta saba sthāne kohilen ei kathā
āmi calibāṅ nīlācala candra yathā
Who can understand the Lord's mind? He went back to instead of proceeding to Mathura. To all the devotees he said, "I am going to see the Lord of Nilachala."
The next work to look at is CCN, almost all of which has been incorporated into the CC account. In the 9th Act there are many incidents described that are taken directly from Shivananda Sen's memories of Mahaprabhu's failed attempt to go to Vrindavan via Bengal. Here Karnapura seems to have followed Vrindavan Das, condensing his account of the conversation between the Shah and Keshava Basu, presumably the same as Vrindavan Das's Keshava Khan, also known as Keshava Khattri. Keshava tells the king, "But he has gone back. He won't take this road to go to Mathura. He is intending to go back to Puri and take the forest path." (ataḥ paraṁ ca śrutam | tataḥ kiyad dūraṁ gatvā punaḥ pratyāvṛtto na tena pathā mathurāṁ gamiṣyati api tu puruṣottamam āgatya vana-pathenaiveti na jānīmaḥ satyam asatyaṁ vadati |). The reason given for his turning back is that he fears people and wished to travel alone (satyam eva loka-bhiyā tato'pi nivṛttaḥ | tato'pi kenāpy avidita eva calitavān |). Then from here he enters directly into his description of the fourth and final, successful attempt to go to Vrindavan.
āgataś ca sahasā sa ekako
nīlaśaila-tilakaṁ vilokya ca |
nihnutaḥ sa mathurāṁ jagāma ca ||
nīlaśaila-tilakaṁ vilokya ca |
nihnutaḥ sa mathurāṁ jagāma ca ||
Having returned to Puri and taken darshan of Jagannath, Mahaprabhu suddenly left for Mathura in secret, taking the forest path in fear of being followed by many people. (CCN 9.18)
CC has the final version, and since Rupa and Sanatan's input is undoubtedly the source of this account, it is the most revealing about Mahaprabhu's purpose in going to Vrindavan. In fact, Rupa and Sanatan are so interconnected with Mahaprabhu and Vrindavan that Kaviraj Goswami makes the entire incident seem like one seamless story, with the movements of each interwoven with those of the others. Ultimately it must be said that Mahaprabhu's visit to Vrindavan is as much about his relation to Rupa and Sanatan as it is about him. Mahaprabhu made his will for Vrindavan manifest through them. This was less widely unknown until much later, probably the time when goings back and forth to Vrindavan became more frequent, so that the supplementary portions of the MGK could reflect these elements as shown above.
Kaviraj Goswami starts the story of Rupa and Sanatan in the first chapter of the Madhya-līlā, where he gives the Madhya and Antya līlās in sutra form. After describing the difference between his biography and that of Vrindavan Das, whom he glorifies as the "Vyasa" of Mahaprabhu's līlā, and Nityananda's preaching activities, he goes into a glorification of the two brothers (2.1.31-45). It is clear from the entire Madhya-līlā, in Krishnadas Kaviraj's eyes, centers around Rupa and Sanatan's interactions with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and the latter's trip to Vrindavan weaves in and out of his meetings with them and his instructions to them to go to Vrindavan to rediscover the lost sacred places as well as to write books and to set the idea example for the life of a renounced Vaishnava.
Kaviraj immediately sets the scene by placing Mahaprabhu's ecstasies firmly in the context of the gopis' separation from Krishna. That Mahaprabhu chanted the yaḥ kaumāra-haraḥ in front of the ratha in Puri is mentioned here for the first time. But this story has the purpose not only of revealing of Chaitanya's inner mood and understanding of Vrindavan, but of legitimizing Rupa Goswami as the ultimate authority on it. Two of Rupa's own verses and the commentaries of the Goswamis on BhP 10.82.47 are repeated here as they are again on two other occasions in the CC (yaḥ kaumāra-haraḥ appears at 2.1.58, 2.13.121 and 3.1.78), and these tellings are at the beginning, middle and end of the Madhya-līlā. Rupa and Sanatan play a smaller role in the Antya līlā, but there Krishnadas is indebted to Raghunath Das more than anyone else. And although in CC Chaitanya's teachings arise primarily in the company of Sarvabhauma, Ramananda, Rupa, Sanatana and Prakashananda Saraswati, the greater portion of the Madhya-līlā is devoted to the teachings given the two brothers (chapter 19 for Rupa and chapters 20-24 for Sanatan). At any rate, the triple repetition of the yaḥ kaumāra-haraḥ verse and Rupa's insight into its meaning may justifiably be called the essence of Krishnadas Kaviraj's message in Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
In this context, Kaviraj Goswami specifically makes it clear that Mahaprabhu really had no other purpose in coming to Ramkeli other than to see the two brothers.
tomā duṁhā dekhite mora iṁha āgamana
ei mora monera kathā keho nāhi jāne
sabe bale kene āilā rāmakeli grāme
I had no reason to come here near the capital city. I came here just to see the two of you. Nobody knows that I was thinking this and so they wonder why I came to Ramkeli village. (2.1.212-213)In this context, it should be noted that a major part of Rupa and Sanatan's significance arises not only out of their innate good qualities, their literary abilities and their insights into the devotional spirit of Mahaprabhu, but also their very experience with the higher echelons of Muslim power. No doubt they were familiar with Persian, the court language of the Muslim rulers, as well as with their habits and beliefs. In their expressions of humility, they repeatedly condemned themselves for their fallen state as a result of this association, and it is most probable that they were, in their daily lives as courtiers, externally Muslim in all respects, while internally maintaining their Hindu beliefs. Kaviraj reveals for the first time that they had corresponded with Mahaprabhu and he had indeed told them to maintain such an attitude. But at the time of this meeting in Ramkeli, they were already quite unable to carry on this schizophrenic existence and were looking for a way out.
We two are millions of times more degraded, fallen and sinful than Jagai and Madhai. We are of wicked birth because we are the servants of Muslims and our activities are exactly like those of the Muslims. We constantly associate with people who are inimical toward the cows and Brahmins. Due to our abominable activities we are now bound by the neck and hands and have been thrown into the ditch filled with the excrement of evil sense enjoyment. (CC 2.1.196-199)Moreover, in Kaviraj Goswami's version it is Sanatan who warns Mahaprabhu of the Muslim ruler's untrustworthiness:
tathāpi javana-jāti nā kori pratīti
Even though the king has expressed devotion for you, he is a Muslim and I don’t trust him. (2.1.222-223)He goes on to explain that going to Vrindavan in a large group is not appropriate but that one's devotional attitude is best served by going there alone. Kaviraj takes pains to explain that Mahaprabhu is God himself and therefore not afraid of a Muslim king or anyone else, as indeed is shown by his march through the jungles of Jharikhand. Nevertheless, as a subtext throughout all the accounts of Chaitanya's life is the Muslim presence, and it would seem that Rupa and Sanatan's familiarity with the governing milieu was a great asset in his sending them to Vrindavan to rediscover the holy places there.
So, having accomplished his purpose, Mahaprabhu returned to