Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu offered Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī to Svarūpa Dāmodara. Under the shelter and guidance of Svarūpa Dāmodara, Dāsa Gosvāmī followed the process of service in Vraja.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed Dāsa Gosvāmī:
amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 6.237
Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana.
By sincerely chanting the holy names, while respecting all according to their position, and not being eager for respect from others, the tendency to serve Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja shall arise. As a result of pure chanting, the Lord’s form shall appear in the heart, followed by His qualities and pastimes.
At that stage, absorption of the mind in Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes will be natural, not artificial. Kṛṣṇa and His names are non-different. When one purely chants these, He will come in the heart and perform His loving pastimes with all His associates. His līlā-śakti, pastime potency, is always with Him. She gives the tendency and qualification to serve Kṛṣṇa.
When greed comes to serve Kṛṣṇa in one’s eternal spiritual form, in time, that greed shall reveal one’s eternal loving mood towards Kṛṣṇa. Then one begins to serve Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of His associates. This love matures sequentially through higher and higher degrees up to mahābhāva.
Nourished by transcendental nectar, or rasa, the soul develops its spiritual form and nature and becomes related to God.
Bhakti with a feeling of loving intimacy is dear to Kṛṣṇa. That is the only kind of worship present in Vraja. Caitanya Mahāprabhu manifested this process in the heart of Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, and through him, distributed it to the world. Dāsa Gosvāmī showed by his own example how to pray for the attainment of that intimate loving mood.
This Vilāpa-kusumāñjali is a collection of the prayers of Dāsa Gosvāmī offered like flowers to the lotus feet of the Divine Potency of Kṛṣṇa, Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. By offering the heart to any mundane person, one becomes devoid of all potency and goodness. However, surrendering to Her, one attains all knowledge of Kṛṣṇa’s service and becomes related to Him and His associates without any extraneous effort.
The masses emphasize more on Dāsa Gosvāmī’s intense renunciation than his intimate loving mood. Indeed, evidence of the validity of Mahāprabhu’s highest conception was shown in the life of Dāsa Gosvāmī as he engaged in mānasī-sevā in Vraja. To take Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī’s guidance, taking shelter of his writings is essential. Then one can experience the transcendental nectar that flows through our line. If one takes shelter of this book, he will become firmly fixed in the conception and line of Mahāprabhu. This is our Guru–varga’s instruction and conception.
There are two types of anurāga—dakṣiṇa–bhāva and vāmya-bhāva, right-sided and left-sided. On the left side are our Guru–varga, the followers of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
But how can we collect this anurāga and continuously be present with it? Therefore very strong sādhana is necessary. If there is no strong sādhana, then it will not be possible to keep and preserve in your heart anything you try to catch. It will come and go; nothing will be sweet and present near you for long.
chapānna daṇḍa rātri dine
jāne nā rādhā-govinda bine
tāra para cāri daṇḍa suti thāke
svapne radhe govinda dekhe
He knows nothing but Rādhā-Govinda throughout the day and night (56 daṇḍas: 1 daṇḍa is 24 minutes). He takes rest for only 4 daṇḍas (1 hr. 36 min.). At that time in his dreams he receives darśana of Rādhā-Govinda.
The Guru–varga are serving all day long. Within the day they only take rest for one or two hours, and even as they rest they are serving in kṛṣṇa-līlā.
To attain such a state of spiritual rapture, we must follow the Gosvāmīs’ example. This is described in the prayer:
nidrāhāra-vihārakādi-vijitau cātyanta-dīnau ca yau
rādhā-kṛṣṇa-guṇa-smṛter madhurimānandena sammohitau
vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau
I worship the Six Gosvāmīs, who passed all their time in chanting the holy names, singing songs, and offering daṇḍavat-praṇāma, thereby humbly fulfilling their vow to complete a fixed number daily. In this way they utilized their valuable lives and conquered over eating and sleeping. Always seeing themselves as completely worthless, they became enchanted in divine rapture by remembering Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s sweet qualities.
They don’t have taste or relation with the body and senses. One by one they follow the process for attaining that anurāga. Also, if they are late for one minute in any service, then they suffer so much and repent, “Why have I lost one minute?’’
They are always ready to help us attain Kṛṣṇa’s mercy and the Vraja-devīs’ association.
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī resided in Jagannātha Purī under the guidance of Svarūpa Dāmodara, by the order of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. What did he take from Svarūpa Dāmodara? He daily collected the process of unnata–ujjvala-rasa. To practice this, he followed Svarūpa Dāmodara’s footsteps at every moment.
He memorized and practiced what he collected from Mahāprabhu, and chanted harināma with intense anurāga.
After Mahāprabhu and Svarūpa Dāmodara disappeared, Dāsa Gosvāmī went to Vraja.
He stayed in Vṛndāvana and moved about there for sometime, but later he permanently resided at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. From morning to evening he was engaged in chanting harināma, while internally praying for the mercy of the Vraja-devīs and Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. This book is his offerings of puṣpāñjali to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Puṣpāñjali is an offering of flowers, but this book is kusumāñjalī, meaning, offering one’s desires like heartfelt flowers. He offered his desires like this every day and at every moment. He was never disturbed, nor did he think like many others, “Is this line true?” or “Will Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa accept my prayers or not?”
His dīkṣā-guru is Yadunandana Ācārya, Balarāma Ācārya is his priest, and his śikṣā–guru is Svarūpa Dāmodara Prabhu.
Yadunandana Ācārya loved Raghunātha more than his own heart. He gave him dīkṣā-mantra. Haridāsa Ṭhākura, Advaita Ācārya, Nityānanda Prabhu—everyone was pleased with Raghunātha. By everyone’s great mercy he followed the rules and regulations of strong vairāgya. His mind was never disturbed. He never followed his senses and did not give them even a little bit of time, always being busy for service of Hari, Guru and Vaiṣṇavas.
In Jagannātha Purī, Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī was bestowed with a special gift by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī said, “I am a very fallen soul devoid of goodness. Nevertheless, Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu were very kind and merciful upon me. They offered me at the lotus feet of Svarūpa Dāmodara. And Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself gave me a Govardhana-śilā and guñjā-mālā.” Guñjā-mālā is Rādhārānī’s svarūpa, and Śrī Govardhana is Kṛṣṇa’s svarūpa.
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī is vairāgya-mūrti, a personification of renunciation. It was told about him, “Raghunāthera niyama yena pāṣāṇera rekhā —Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī’s vairāgya is as firm and resolute as lines etched in stone.” It was not like one day following bhakti’s rules, forsaking any enjoyment, and the next day thinking, “I am a great ācārya; taking everything is not bad for me.” Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī did not think like this. Until his last day in this world, he followed bhakti strongly.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said:
vairāgī hañā kare jihvāra lālasa
paramārtha yāya, āra haya rasera vaśa
vairāgīra kṛtya—sadā nāma-saṅkīrtana
jihvāra lālase yei iti-uti dhāya
śiśnodara-parāyaṇa kṛṣṇa nāhi pāya
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 6.225–227
If a renunciate is eager for his tongue to taste different
foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient
to the tastes of his tongue. The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits and roots are available. One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Kṛṣṇa.
One should fill his belly with whatever is easily available. By offering Kṛṣṇa foods in the mode of goodness and honoring them as prasāda, the tongue is satisfied and service to Kṛṣṇa is cultivated. If palatable prasāda is easily available, then the tongue’s greed will gradually be controlled rather than increased. Vairāgīs continuously chant harināma and maintain their body with anything simple.
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī never went here and there, wasting his time. He never thought, “How does salt, lemon, pickle, and chili taste?” He had deep faith and attachment. Therefore other things could never come and disturb him.
His teachings and his practice were very strong. He had bhajana–niṣṭhā and vairāgya. Therefore he was always very close to the Guru-varga.
People think, “I have no fault, but the Guru-varga don’t give me mercy or shelter.” But they don’t look at their own faults. How was Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī? He stayed with Svarūpa Dāmodara for sixteen years continuously, and never thought, “I will go away.” Why? Vairāgya and bhajana–niṣṭhā were always alive in him. Then how could he be any distance from bhajana and the Guru-varga? Other desires will call me and throw me out if they come, but Dāsa Gosvāmī was not like that.
He could not stay in Jagannātha Purī after Gaurahari and others disappeared—it was dry there. While there, he prayed, worshiped his Govardhana-śilā and guñjā-mālā. He thought, “I shall climb on top of Govardhana and jump down, giving up my body. My separation will be finished and my heart will cool.’’ He was crying and weeping to Jagannātha. Jagannātha gave His prasādī–mālā and ordered him, “Raghunātha, you are My nearest and dearest. Go to Vṛndāvana. Go to Rūpa and Sanātana and stay there.”
Then he went to Vṛndāvana and wrote many prayers and instructions to the mind. In the third verse of Manah-śikṣā, he prays:
yadīccher āvāsaṁ vraja-bhuvi sa-rāgaṁprati-janur
yuva-dvandvaṁ tac cet paricaritum ārād abhilaṣe
svarūpaṁ śrī-rūpaṁ sa-gaṇam iha tasyāgrajam api
sphuṭaṁ premṇā nityaṁ smara nama tadā tvaṁ śṛṇu manaḥ
O Mind, just listen to me! If you desire to reside in Vraja birth after birth, and if you desire to directly serve the eternally youthful Divine Couple there with great attraction, then with intense love always remember and bow down to Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara; to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and his elder brother, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī; and to all their associates and followers.
He instructed, “If you desire residence in Vraja and the service of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, then continuously remember and stay under the guidance of Svarūpa Dāmodara, Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī. They have this anurāga. Follow the footsteps of their anurāga and stay in Vraja-dhāma. Then Govardhana, Rādhā-kuṇḍa—everyone will accept you because you followed the footsteps of the anurāgī devotees. Vṛndāvana-dhāma will give you all facility and chance.”
He wrote Sva-niyama Daśakam, and there he also wrote:
gurau mantre nāmni prabhuvara-śacīgarbhaja-pade
svarūpe śrī-rūpe gaṇa-yuji tadīya-prathamaje
girīndre gāndharvā-sarasi madhu-puryāṁvraja-vane
vraje bhakte goṣthālayiṣu param āstāṁ mama ratiḥ
May my anurāga be always with my spiritual master, the gāyatrī–mantra, the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s feet, Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, his associates, his elder brother (Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī), Govardhana Hill, Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Mathurā City, Vṛndāvana Forest, the land of Vraja, the devotees of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and the residents of Vraja.
We come for bhajana, but gradually many other persons come nearby and we make a relationship with them, talk sweetly, give something and take something. They steal my heart and take me away from Vraja-maṇḍala and the Vrajavāsīs. Therefore Dāsa Gosvāmī made a strong promise, “I will not meet, talk, accept, look, pray, or watch anything or anyone other than devotees.’’ This was his strong vairāgya,
naturally springing forth from his anurāga. He was the personification of vairāgya and anurāga. First control your own senses, your mind, and then your soul. Carefully use everything for your Gurudeva; otherwise, if you give a little share to others, they will steal you away. First they want you to be their friend, and then their slave. Then you will go very far away from transcendental līlā; mundane līlā and nature will come, and you will run for mundane tastes.
Therefore Dāsa Gosvāmī continuously followed the footsteps of Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī. He did not go any distance from them for one minute. Earlier, he knew nothing but Svarūpa Dāmodara and Mahāprabhu. He respected everyone, and did not talk, walk, look, watch or go to anyone. Then in Vraja-maṇḍala, on the bank of Rādhā-kuṇḍa, he followed Rūpa and Sanātana Gosvāmī. He paid obeisance to other Vaiṣṇavas and begged them, “How can I make a sweet and strong faithful relationship with my śikṣā–gurus, Sanātana Gosvāmī, and Rūpa Gosvāmī.”
May no doubt come. Deep faith and respect for the Vaiṣṇavas is the backbone of bhakti. If there is no faith in Vaiṣṇavas, then after sometime faith in guru and God will go away and everything will be lost.
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī practiced this in his life.
His heart melted and tears fell, always showering his body. Why? He was not near mundane persons; otherwise the heart will become dry like a rock. If other people steal the heart, then everything will be lost. Then no flow of love will come.
Dāsa Gosvāmī always chanted harināma and cried, “Hā Gauranga, hā Nityānanda, hā Svarūpa Damodara.’’
He composed prayers like Śacinandana Aṣṭakam, Gaurāṅga Stotra, Svanīyama Daśakam, Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, Girirāja Govardhana Aṣṭakam, Rādhā–kuṇḍa Aṣṭakam, Śyāma-kuṇḍa Aṣṭakam, and other prayers that spontaneously appeared in his heart. He would only sleep for four daṇḍas, around one and a half hours. And he used everything he possessed for service.
He would chant harināma while remembering gaura–līlā. He would remember Navadvīpa-dhāma, and from there he started his mānasī-sevā.
When Kavirāja Gosvāmī wrote, he always offered respect to Dāsa Gosvāmī as his śikṣā–guru. He also stayed at Rādhā-kuṇḍa and there he saw that Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī would think of Mahāprabhu’s līlā and be engaged in mānasī-sevā there. Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī remembered Mahāprabhu’s followers and how they all performed kīrtana together.
He remembered their glories and respectfully offered them obeisances. Then he remembered how the devotees performed bhajana. He prayed to them and offered praṇāma.
He wrote books like Stavāvali and Muktā-carita. In Dāna-keli-cintāmaṇi, he wrote how Kṛṣṇa takes tax from the Vraja-devīs, and what is the meaning of that tax. He wrote in Muktā-carita how the Vraja-devīs made Kṛṣṇa’s dress with pearls and the pastimes that followed.
Out of his many books, this Vilāpa-kusumāñjali is especially important. Everyday he prayed with these verses, offering flowers to Rādhārānī’s lotus feet. He wrote:
devi duḥkha kula-sāgarodare
dūyamāna mati durgataṁ janaṁ
tvat kṛpā pravala naukayādbhutaṁ
O Goddess, please rescue this unfortunate person drowning in the ocean of unhappiness. Place me in the strong boat of Your mercy and carry me to the shore of Your lotus feet.
He wrote these verses, internally feeling as if he was burning in a heat fiercer than millions of fires combined. Why does he cry and weep so? This is prema–vilāpa. When love is very deep, the separation also becomes very deep. What is this language and mood? No one can understand.
In his perfected condition, Dāsa Gosvāmī is a pālya-dāsī, following the footsteps of Lalitā-devī and serving Vṛndāvana-vilāsinī Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.
He wrote Vraja-vilāsa–stava when he was advanced in age. He prayed, “Oh! Now I am old and my body is not helpful for Your service. The snake of time has bitten me, sapping all my energy. Now he is trying to steal me and keep me away from You. But no, no, no, I am not old; I am young; I am the follower of Your beloved. He Svāminī, without Your darśana and service I can’t feel well for even a moment. Therefore continuously give me Your service—this is my only desire. May I continuously serve You in my kiśorī age in this Vṛndāvana-dhāma. He Rūpa Mañjarī, your service tendency and mood runs on incessantly.
I will learn that process and will continuously follow it. Therefore give me eyes. May I not watch other things.
I will learn only the rules and regulations of this line.’’
Dāsa Gosvāmī forgot his own external body and prayed only for Rādhārānī’s dāsyam:
tavaivāsmi tavaivāsmi na jīvāmi tvayā vinā
iti vijñāya devi tvaṁ naya māṁ caraṇāntike
I am Yours! I am Yours! I cannot live without You. O Śrī Rādhe, knowing this, please give me a place at Your lotus feet.
While instructing his own mind, He also prayed:
yathā duṣṭatvaṁ me davayati śaṭhasyāpi kṛpayā
yathā mahyaṁ premāmṛtam api dadāty ujjvalam asau
yathā śrī gāndharvā-bhajana-vidhaye prerayati māṁ
tathā goṣṭhe kākvā giridharam iha tvaṁ bhaja manaḥ
O mind, with utter humility and grief-stricken words, just worship Śrī Giridhārī-Kṛṣṇa in Vraja in such a way that He will become pleased with me. By His causeless mercy He will remove my wickedness, bestow the nectar of His supremely radiant love, and confer upon me the inspiration to worship Śrīmatī Rādhikā.
He prayed, “O my dear mind. You are very naughty and stupid. You take me far away from Girirāja Govardhana.
O Girirāja Govardhana, I pray to you. Defeat my mind, kick away anyone who comes near me, and protect me. I will not try to go one second from Rādhārānī’s service. I do not want to go away from the guidance of Rūpa Mañjarī. I will serve under the guidance of Rūpa Mañjarī and Guṇa Mañjarī. When will that rati, love, come to me?”
He prayed to the lotus feet of Rādhārānī for Her service:
pādābjayos tava vinā vara dāsyam eva
nānyat kadāpi samaye kila devi yāce
sākhyāya te mama namo ‘stu namo ‘stu nityaṁ
dāsyāya te mama raso ‘stu raso ‘stu satyam
O Devī Rādhike! I never desire anything but the best loving service unto Your lotus feet. If You want to give me the position of a sakhī, then I offer my obeisances again and again to that position from a distance, but I do not actually want it. Taking a vow, I am begging only to have steadfast anurāga in Your service.
He prayed, “He Devī, there is no need for Your friendship, only for dāsya. I don’t want the position of a friend, I only desire to serve You.”
In Svanīyama-daśakam (Verse 6) he prayed:
anādṛtyodgītām api muni-gaṇair vaiṇika-mukhaiḥ
pravīṇāṁ gāndharvām api ca nigamais tat-priyatamām
ya ekaṁ govindaṁ bhajati kapaṭī dāmbhikatayā
tad-abhyarṇe śīrṇe kṣaṇam api na yāmi vratam idam
Not for a moment shall I go near a hypocrite who worships only Lord Govinda and does not worship exalted Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, who is glorified by the Vedas and the great sages headed by Nārada, and who is most dear to Ṣrī Kṛṣṇa. This is my vow.
Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura sings:
nārada muni, bājāya vīṇā, ‘rādhikā-ramana’
name, nāma amani udita hoya, bhakata-gīta-sāme
When the great soul Nārada Muni plays his stringed vīṇā, the holy name of Rādhikā-ramaṇa descends and immediately appears amidst the kīrtana of the Lord’s devotees.
śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāma rasane sphuri’ pūrā’lo āmāra āśa
śrī-rūpa-pade yācaye ihā bhakativinoda-dāsa
The holy name of Śrī Kṛṣṇa has fulfilled all my desires by thus manifesting on everyone’s tongue. Bhaktivinoda, the humble servant of the Lord, therefore prays at the feet of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī that the chanting of harināma may always continue in this way.
Nārada Ṛṣi sweetly sings the holy names of Govinda; by Rādhārānī’s mercy he cannot forget Kṛṣṇa’s names. Without the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī it is not possible for anyone to chant, sing, pray and be present in Vraja near the Vrajavāsīs. Otherwise he gets the mercy of māyā—he will explain and remember māyā’s qualities; he will serve her. The mercy of svarūpa-śakti is necessary.
Inside this Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, Dāsa Gosvāmī prays for rādhā-niṣṭhā. He taught everyone vairāgya and bhajana, and the process to achieve vraja-sevā and the blessings of svarūpa-śakti and the Vraja-devīs. Gurudeva brings a flow of rasa like a river. He arranges and keeps this. If anyone showers in it, then he is very lucky. This is a river, not a lake, meaning, this rasa is continuously flowing. In Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, Stavāvali and other books, Dāsa Gosvāmī brought this flow. If anyone bathes in or drinks this, he will be attracted to svarūpa-śakti and come close to Her. He will never wander away from Her.
This is the best process as told by Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. After learning this, we will attain some greed for sādhana.
tvaṁ rūpa-mañjari sakhi! prathitā pure ’smin
puṁsaḥ parasya vadanaṁ na hi paśyasīti
bimbādhare kṣatam anāgata-bhartṛkāyā
yat te vyadhāyi kim u tac chuka-puṅgavena
My dear sakhī Rūpa Mañjarī, you are well known in Vraja for not even looking at the face of any man other than your husband. Therefore it is surprising that your lips, red like bimba fruits, have been bitten, even though your husband is not at home. Has this been done by the best of parrots?
On October 21st, 1992, Śrīla Gurudeva spoke on this first verse of Vilāpa-kusumāñjali in a darśana with Tamal Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja and other ISKCON sannyāsīs. Śrīla Gurudeva said:
Was Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī weeping or laughing? It may seem that he wrote this verse in a laughing, pleasant mood. Actually, however, he was remembering a previous pastime and weeping at the feet of Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī, “You have been so merciful to me. I remember seeing your mood after Kṛṣṇa kissed you and left a mark on your lips. When will I see you in that condition again?” In the second śloka, sthala-kamalini yuktaṁ, he is again offering praṇāma and weeping, “Will I see this again?” These first two verses are very important.
Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī starts this book advising us to follow rāga-mārga. This prayer is helpful for everyone.
One who does not want to cross over this material ocean
should not read this book. On the other hand, one who desires to follow the process of rāgānuga-bhakti and achieve kṛṣṇa-prema and rādhā-dāsyam will regularly pray with these verses of Vilāpa-kusumāñjali and will keep this book close to his heart like a cherished friend and guardian.
Srila Raghunatha das Gosvami ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the introduction of the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Vilāpa-kusumāñjali”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )