Ramchandra Kaviraja


     Srila Narottama dasa Thakura has sung: “daya koro sri acarya prabhu srinivasa, ramacandra sanga mage narottama dasa—O Srinivasa acarya Prabhu, kindly have mercy upon me; Narottama dasa always prays for the association of  Ramacandra Kaviraja.”

     Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja was one of the internal associates of Narottama Thakura. The two of them were practically inseparable. Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja had obtained the full mercy and blessings of Srinivasa acarya. Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja's father's name was Ciranjiva Sena—his mother's name was Sri Sunanda.  At first Sri Ciranjiva Sen lived in Kumara Nagara. After he married the daughter of the poet Sri Damodara Kavi, he moved to the village of Sri Khanda. Ciranjiva Sen was a Mahabhagavata, a topmost devotee of the Lord. The devotees of Sri Khanda, headed by Narahari Sarakara Thakura all had great affection and respect for Ciranjiva.

     Ciranjiva is mentioned in Caitanya-Caritamrta by Krsna dasa Kaviraja Goswami as follows (CC Madhya 11.92): “Gopinatha acarya continued to point out the devotees [to Prataparudra Maharaja]. ‘Here is Suklambara. See, there is Sridhara. Here is Vijaya, and there is Vallabha Sena. Here is Purusottama, and there is Sanjaya. And here are all the residents of Kulina-grama, such as Satyaraja Khan and Ramananda. Indeed, all of them are present here. Please see. Here are Mukunda dasa, Narahari, Sri Raghunandana, Ciranjiva and Sulocana, all residends of Khanda. How many names shall I speak to you? All the devotees you see here are associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is their life and soul.’ The King said, ‘Upon seeing all these devotees, I am much astonished, for I have never seen such an effulgence. Indeed their effulgence is like the brilliance of a million suns. Nor have I ever heard the Lord's names chanted so melodiously.’”

     Mukunda dasa, Narahari, Sri Raghunandana, and Ciranjiva all lived in  Khanda.

    They were as one, for their aim in life was the same, and every year at the time of the Ratha-yatra festival they used to go to Jagannatha Puri dhama to take darsan of the holy feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to take part in the kirtana and behold his wonderful dancing and chanting.

     Ciranjiva Sen took birth in a vaidya family, that is, within the doctor caste.  His two sons were Sri Ramacandra and Sri Govinda. These two sons were great jewels.  Both of them attained the mercy of Srinivasa acaraya Prabhu, after which they went to live in Teliya-budhari-grama. Budhari-grama is in the Mursidabad district.

     Ramacandra Kaviraja was especially enthusiastic, earnest, persevering, energetic, intelligent, and beautiful. His maternal grandfather was Sri Damodara Kaviraja, who was famous as a great poet. He used to instruct people in the philosophy of the saktas. He was also initiated into the path of dharma followed by the saktas.

      After the passing away of their father, Ciranjiva, Sri Ramacandra and Sri Govinda went to live at the place of their grandfather Damodara Kaviraja. As they were living with their scholarly grandfather, who was a follower of sakta-ism, they too gradually became infected with this anti-devotional philosophy, even though their father had been a great mahabhagavata devotee and personal associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Ramacandra Sen became a doctor and gradually he became famous as a highly learned poet as well.

     One day, Ramacandra Kaviraja was on the road to Yajigrama, on his way home from his wedding. At that time, Srinivasa acarya was passing on the road, accompanied by his followers.

     One day Shrinivasa Acharaya was in Yajigrama at his own house, where many devotees had gathered to hear him lecture on Shrimad-Bhagavatam. At that time, passing by the house of Shrinivasa Acharya was Ramachandra Kaviraja the son of Chiranjiva Sen (one of Mahaprabhu's eternal associates).  He had just been married, and he and his new bride were on their way back from the wedding.

       From a long way off, Shrinivasa Acharya saw Ramachandra Kaviraja, and Ramachandra Kaviraja also saw Shrinvasa Acharya from a distance. Upon seeing each other from a distance a deep mood of friendship arose within the hearts of those two eternally perfect devotees of Shri Gauranga. After seeing each other they were eager to meet one another.  Shrinivasa Acharya inquired about Ramachandra Kaviraja from the local people.  They told him that he was a great pandita named Ramacandra—a learned poet and expert doctor from a family of doctors and scholars. Hear all this, Srinivasa acarya smiled, for he was greatly pleased.

      Ramachandra Kaviraja had heard about Shrinivasa Acharya and was eager to have his darsana.  In this way, he finally went to the house of  Srinivasa acarya along with his new bride and were introduced by some of the local people.  The day passed quickly in discussion of Hari-katha. They spent the night where they had been staying since coming to Yajigrama, at a brahmana's house near the home of Shrinvasa Acharaya, and the following morning went to Shrinivasa Acharya and fell before his feet offering prostrated obeisances.

    The Acharya bade Ramachandra Kaviraja to get up from the ground, and heartily embraced him saying, "Life after life you have been my friend.  Providence has brought us together again today by arranging our meeting." Both of them felt great happiness as a result of their having met.  Seeing that Ramchandra had an acute and  deeply learned transcendental intelligence, Shrinivasa was very happy.  He began to make him hear the Goswami scriptures. Ramacandra's pure behavior  which was always in accordance with the scriptures very much pleased Srinivasa acarya, and after a few days the Acharya initiated him in the divine Radha-Krishna mantra.

     After a few days, Ramacandra Kaviraja left Yajigrama and returned to his own village. At that time, the local saktas became envious of him, seeing that he had been initiated into the Vaisnava faith. Ramacandra Kaviraja always marked his body with the twelve tilaka marks of a devotee and always chanted the holy name of Hari.

     One day, after having taken his bath in the Ganges, Ramacandra Kaviraja was on his way home when the saktas confronted him saying, “Kaviraja! Why don't you worship Siva? Your grandfather Damodara Kaviraja was a great devotee of Siva, so why have you given up his worship?”

     Ramacandra said, “Both Siva and Brahma are guna-avataras, qualitative incarnations of the Lord, but Krsna is the root of all avataras, all incarnations. Simply by worshiping Krsna all worship is performed, just as by watering the root of a tree, all the leaves and branches are automatically nourished. Prahlada, Dhruva, Vibhisana and others who were dear devotees of Krsna are always glorified by Brahma and Siva. On the other hand Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Vanasura, and others were envious of Krsna and were solely devoted to Siva.  But because they were envious of Krsna,  Siva himself saw to their destruction.

     “When Brahma creates the universe, He prays to Visnu for success in the matter of creation.  And Siva also submits himself to Lord Visnu by carrying upon his head the Ganges, the water that has washed the lotus feet of Visnu and that sanctifies the three worlds.”

     Hearing all this, the smarta brahmanas, the materialistic worshipers of Siva known as the saktas were speechless.

     Gradually, Ramacandra Kaviraja became eager to go to Vrndavana and take darssana of the holy feet of the Goswamis there. After receiving permission and blessings from various Vaisnavas in Bengal, including Sri Raghunandana Thakura, he set out for Vrndavana on an auspicious day. On the way to Vrndaavana, he vistied Gaya, Kasi, Prayaga, and many other holy places. At long last he arrived in Mathura. There bathed in the Yamuna at Visrama ghata, and after bathing, he rested for some time. He took darsana of the adi Kesava deity at the birthplace of Sri Krsna and then continued on his way to Vrndavana.

     At that time, Srinivasa acarya was staying in Vrndavana. Arriving there, Ramacandra Kaviraja offered his obeisances at the lotus feet of Sri Jiva Goswami and Srinivasa acarya and gave the devotees there the auspicious news about all the devotees in Bengal. On the order of Jiva Goswami, Ramacandra Kaviraja went to visit the three principal deities of Vrndavana: Sri Madana-Mohan,  Sri Govinda, and Sri Gopinatha, as well as the memorial shrine or samadhi of Sanatana Goswami. He took darsana of the holy feet of the principle Goswamis residing in Vrndavana at the time, including Sri Lokanatha Goswami, Sri Gopala Bhatta Goswami, and Sri Bhugarbha Goswami. Seeing Ramacandra's wonderful expertise in composing beautiful verses glorifying Sri Krsna, they gave him the title “Kaviraja,” in recognition of his scholarship.

     After staying in Vrndavana for some time under the guidance of those great souls, and after visiting the important holy places, Ramacandra was ordered by the Goswamis to return to Bengal. Arriving in Bengal, he passed through Sri Khanda, Yajigrama, Khadadaha, Ambika Kalna, and other famous Vaisnava centers, before arriving in Nabadwipa, where he visited Mayapura. There he went to the ancient house of Jagannatha Misra, where he found Mahaprabhu's old family servant, ^sana Thakura. After introducing himself, he took the dust from the holy feet of ^sana and prayed for his blessings, which he received. Ramacandra Kaviraja was extremely dear to Srinivasa acarya, and for this reason, Narottama Thakura considered Ramacandra Kaviraja to be his life and soul. A discussion of their pastimes together is found in the chapter on Narottama dasa Thakura.

     Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja delivered many sinners and nonbelievers to a life of auspiciousness as a result of his mercy. At the festival in Kheturi-grama, he was one of the leaders. On the order of Narottama dasa Thakura and Srinivasa acarya he again went to Vrndavana. When he arrived there, he found that almost all the Goswamis had passed away. When he found that so many great souls had passed away, his heart was deeply pained.  After some days in Vrndavana, feeling the pain of separation in this way, while deeply meditating upon the lotus feet of Sri Radha and Govinda, he entered into their eternal Vrndavana pastimes.  His disappearance day is on the third day of the dark moon in the month of Pausa.

     Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja's disciple was Sri Harinama acarya. Ramacandra Kaviraja composed many beautiful verses in glorification of Sri Gauranga. The following song is an example of one of the many prayers composed by Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja. In this song he  glorifies the inconceivable transcendental mercy of Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu  who descended to save all souls in the dense darkenss of the age of Kali; here he also expresses his deep Vaisnava humility, by lamenting that he was unable to taste even a drop of the Lord's mercy.

 Song by Ramacandra Kaviraja


dekha dekha are bhai gauranga canda parakasa

purnimara canda yena udita akasa

simharasi paurnamasi gaura avatara

chadala yuger bhara dharani nistara

mahitale achaye yateka jivatapa

harala sakala pahun nijahi pratapa

kaliyuge tapa-japa nahi kona tantra

prakasila mahapratu hare-krsna mantra

premera vadara kari bharila samsara

pataki naraki saba paila nistara

andha avadhi yata kare parakasa

bindu na padila mukhe ramacandra dasa.

     “Just see! Just see, brothers how Sri Gauranga has arisen like a golden moon. Just as the full moon had arisen in the sky, another, fuller moon arose in the form of the Gaura avatara, just to deliver us all from this dark age of ignorance.

      His mercy takes away all the suffering of the jiva souls.  Japa, mantras, austerities and other rituals are all useless for purification in the age of Kali. The only means of deliverance is the hare krsna mantra. Mahaprabhu is so kind that he has manifest the nectar of the holy name, so that the souls in this dark age can be released from the cycle of repeated birth and death and a hellish life in the lower planetary systems and experience divine love.

      Whether one is blind or dumb does not matter; everyone one can drown in this inundation.  In this way Caitanya Mahaprabhu has drowned everyone in love of Godhead, but Ramacandra dasa is so unfortunate that he could not taste even a drop of that nectar.

[This article and more information at  www.stephen-knapp.com]

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