Rasikananda Dev


     In the Christian year 1590, on the 18th day of the month of Karttika, on the night of the Diwali festival, Shri Rasikananda dev took birth within this world. His father, Raja Shri Achyutadev was the zamindara of a place which was known as Rayani or Rohini.  He had been sonless for a long time, and felt that by the grace of the Lord of the Universe, he had finally got a jewel of a son.  Shri Rasikananda's other name was Murari. When his son Murari was a young man, Raja Achyutananda arranged for his wedding.  Shri Rasikananda's wife's name was Shri Shyamadasi.  He was as beautiful as he was learned, and in scholarship he was accomplished in all his subjects. After some time he became anxious to take shelter of the lotus feet of a bonafide guru.  One day, he heard a voice in the sky say, "Don't worry. You will go to the place of Shyamananda Prabhu and take initiation, becoming his disciple." The voice in the sky told him not to worry, and advised him to go quickly to the great devotee named Shyamananda and take shelter of his lotus feet. Right after this, Shri Rasikananda started out on the road to Shyamananda's place.

     Soon after this,  from Dharenda-Bahadur-pura, Shyamanda Prabhu was on his way to the village of Rohini, accompanied by many devotees.  Rasikananda could see that his dreams were coming true; he could see a great devotee coming down the road and immediately understood that it was Shyamananda. The acharya had an unparalleled bodily effulgence, and Rasikananda could see that he was always overwhelmed with gaura-krishna-rasa, tasting the mellows of devotion to Shri Krishna and Shri Chaitanya. Shyamananda Prabhu's eyes were filled with tears of divine love.  In his hand, he held a beautiful japa-mala, upon which he counted the names of Krishna that he was constantly chanting.  Shri Rasikananda fell down before him, offering eightfold prostrated obeisances.  At that time, he cordinally invited Rasikananda to come to the King's own compound.  There he washed the lotus feet of  Shayamanda Prabhu, and worshiped the acharya with fragrant incesnes and flowers. At that time, Rasikananda offered his family, his children, and himself to the lotus feet of Shri Shyamananda Prabhu.  On an auspicious day, Shri Shyamanda Prabhu gave initiation in the Radha-Krishna mantra to Rasikananda Prabhu and his wife.

     After receiving initiation from Shri Shyamananda Prabhu, Rasikananda traveled for some time with his gurudeva, always remaining close to his lotus feet.  He was the most intimate disciple of Shyamanda Prabhu. As a consequence, when the deities in Gopijana-vallabha-pura were installed, Shyamananda Prabhu entrusted Rasikananda Prabhu with the responsibility of taking care of the deities.  From that time on, Rasikananda Prabhu accepted that responsibility with great care and became complete absorbed in the service of the deities there.  The devotees were enchanted and captivated by his unprecedented service to the deities, which increased their divine beauty and pleasure. After establishing the worship on a sound footing, he preached the message of Gaura and Nityananda far and wide.  By his influence many agnostics and atheists became gaura-nityananda-bhaktas. 

     Bhakti Ratnakara says, "Rasikananda's preaching was greatly influential; by his mercy many dacoits, blasphemers, demons, and nonbelievers were delivered. By his mercy, the jewel of bhakti was bestowed even upon Yavanas, Muslims, and untouchable outcastes of all description.  He went from town to town with his followers, making many disciples and engaging them in Krishna's service. He even made the wild elephants his disciples, and engaged them in the service of Krishna and the Vaishnavas. Shri Rasikananda delivered many yavanas and mlechhas. One cannot count how many houses he visited on his preaching tour, or how many souls were delivered. Rasikanananda was almost like a madman, always absorbed in the holy name of Krishna, in nam-sankirtan. Everyone was astonished even to hear his wonderful qualities sung."

    In summary, Rasikananda Prabhu, by his mercy, delivered many untouchables, outcastes, meateaters, muslims, atheists, and agnostics.  The King of Mayur-bhanj, Raja Vaidyanatha Bhanj, as well as the king of Patashapur, Raja Gajapati, as well as the King of Mayana, Chandrabhanu and many other pious royal personages also took shelter at the lotus feet of Rasikananda Prabhu.  The especially wicked Zamindara, Bhima, the yavana Suva Ahmed, and the atheist Shrikara, as well as many other persons gave up their evil ways and took shelter at the lotus feet of Shri Rasikananda Prabhu. He made wild elephants in the jungle chant the holy name of Gopal Krishna. He made tigers give up their mentality of being cruel beasts of prey, and converted them to Krishna-bhakti.

    One time some mad elephants attacked Rasikananda. Calmly, he chanted "Gauranga, Gauranga, Krishna, Krishna" while sprin­kling water on the rampaging beasts. The elephants immediately stopped charging, humbly bowed their heads, raised their trunks, and bellowed "Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!"

    Shri Rasikananda Dev, on the order of his guru Shyamananda Prabhu preached for nearly fourty-six years the message of Shri Gaurachandra. After this, at Remuna, he entered into the eternal lila of the Lord at the lotus feet of Gopinatha. In the year 1578 of the Shaka era, corresponding to the year 1652 of the Christian era, Shri Rasikananda Dev, from Sarata Grama, went to Remuna and in the association of the devotees there, after speaking some Krishna-katha, in which he instructed everyone to always worship Krishna, he entered the Gopinath temple, and touching the lotus feet of Shri Gopinath, he passed away.

    At the time of leaving his body, Rasikananda began a powerful kirtana. Then he left this world by entering into the Ksira-cora Gopinatha Deity in Remuna, Orissa. Devastated in separation, his disciples dropped their mrdangas, karatals and their bodies. The pushpa samadhis of all these pure devotees stand near the temple. Rasikananda Prabhu's pushpa samadhi stands next to Syamananda Prabhu's near the temple of Radha-Syamasundara.

     Shri Rasikananda had three sons: Shri Radhananda, Shri Krishna Govinda, and Shri Radha Krishna. Some of his descendants of currently reside in present day Gopijana-vallabha-pura. Shri Rasikananda Prabhu has written a few books, notably a biography of Shyamananda Prabhu called the Shri Shyamananda Shataka. His other works include the Shrimad-bhagavat-ashtaka as well as different collections of verses, prayers and songs.

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