In the year 1433 Śakābda (A.D. 1511) during the period of Cāturmāsya, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu resided at the abode of Śrī Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī and his brothers Veṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa and Tirumalaya Bhaṭṭa in Śrī Raṅgam. Our revered Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī was the son of Veṅkaṭa Bhaṭṭa. During His time there, Mahāprabhu daily spoke hari-kathā with His associates. For the first three months of His four-month stay, Mahāprabhu spoke on the rules and regulations of śāstra and the glories of Bhagavān’s incarnations. Then, during the month of Kārtika, Mahāprabhu spoke on Dāmodara-vrata and the glories of Rādhā-Dāmodara.

Before leaving, Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed Gopāla Bhaṭṭa to stay with his parents until they passed on. Gopāla Bhaṭṭa was then a boy and wanted to immediately follow Mahāprabhu to Vṛndāvana. Some years later, after completing the last rites for his parents, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa came to Vṛndāvana with Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda.

Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda took up residence at Kāliya-hrada near the Yamunā and would regularly meet with the Six Gosvāmīs. He began composing numerous works in which he described how the Śrutis, Smṛtis, and Upaniṣads are devoted to the moods of the Vraja-devīs and aspire to have their service and company. These personified bodies of knowledge performed sādhana for eons and finally achieved their desired goal.

Thereafter, Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī wrote Sri Radha-Rasa-Sudha-Nidhi and Sri Vrndavana-mahimāmṛta. He did this for the pleasure of his iṣṭadeva, Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu.

One who stays in Vṛndāvana engaged in bhajana under the guidance of sad-guru and Vaiṣṇavas will in time, upon becoming fully immersed in rasamayī-bhakti, have realization of this storehouse of divine nectar. When this nectar enters the heart, one can achieve svarūpa-siddhi and become qualified for direct kṛṣṇa-sevā. Kṛṣṇa will not accept us into His service until we have realization of vraja-rasa and vraja-bhakti and follow the footsteps of the Vraja-devīs. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda drank the nectar of vraja-rasa that was given to him by Mahāprabhu, and then reserved it for us in this book.

Śrīla Gurudeva came to distribute the same unnata-ujjvala-rasa-sva-bhakti-śrīyam. He therefore called everyone to Vṛndāvana. He took his followers on Vraja-maṇḍala Parikramā and instructed them how to enter vraja-bhakti.

We now begin our study of Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi to please Śrīla Gurudeva and to understand how to meet him in transcendental Vraja. This book teaches us how to become qualified for eternal vraja-sevā in our perfected spiritual forms. It is necessary for us to strive to understand and follow this. If we can do so, then we can realize all spiritual truths and achieve the supreme perfection of existence—direct service of the Divine Couple— Sri Sri Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. This is the best way to please Śrīla Gurudeva.

Guru-pāda-padma is the distributor of rasamayī-bhakti.
If we follow this rasamayī-bhakti and the path and teachings of the Gosvāmīs, Śrīla Gurudeva will be extremely pleased with us.

The book starts with the author’s invocative utterance: Sri Sri Radha-raman Jayati. Sri Sri Radha-raman is the worshipful Deity Sri Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmi. Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda would daily go from his bhajana-kuṭīra at Kāliya-hrada for darśana of Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa. He would meet with Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī and also instruct Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī’s disciples from Vṛndāvana and Mathurā on the subject of Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi.

Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvati  taught us how to follow the footsteps of Srimati Radharani and always remember Her. One who remembers Srimati Radharani and follows Her footsteps will always be in Vraja-bhūmi, and related to Kṛṣṇa and the Vrajavāsīs.

Uddhava shared a profound friendship with Kṛṣṇa and on account of their relationship, Kṛṣṇa sent him from Mathurā to meet with the Vrajavāsīs. Uddhava traveled to Vṛndāvana and met with Nanda Bābā, Yaśodā Mātā, and others. He tried to inspire Nanda Bābā and make him banish his sadness, but Nanda Bābā said, “Truly, Uddhava, you still have the intelligence of a child. I thought you were a wise scholar. You say that we should be happy because we have the fortune of loving Kṛṣṇa who is, in your opinion, God Himself. If you are correct and Kṛṣṇa is God, then not only have we lost a son, but we have lost God Himself. In what way are we fortunate?”

Uddhava was greatly humbled in his meeting with Nanda Bābā and Yaśodā Mātā. “I am truly very foolish,” he thought.

Uddhava then thought about the Vraja-devīs and considered how to meet with them. When he came nearby Uddhava-kyārī, he meditated on Kṛṣṇa and prayed to Him for darśana of His beloveds. He then met with Paurṇamāsī-devī. She approached him and asked, “What do you want?”

“I want to meet with the Vraja-devīs,” he replied.

“You have not yet touched the dust of Vraja. You appear to be in Vraja, but are not here in truth. You are still connected to the opulence of Dvārakā, by wearing so much fine clothing, gold, and various ornaments. Dressed like this, you are riding about on your shining chariot. This is not the proper etiquette that will grant you audience with the Vraja-devīs who are deeply absorbed in separation from Kṛṣṇa.”

If we want to have relationship with the Vrajavāsīs, we must first be in the proper veśa, outer dress, and pariveśa, environment. Then we can have āveśa, full absorption in our desired goal and meditation. Hearing Paurnamāsī-devī’s instruction, Uddhava changed his opulent attire for simple cloth, and smeared the dust of Vraja on his body. He then prayed to the Vraja-devīs for their mercy and darśana. Now properly attired, he moved forward into the forest. He reached Uddhava-kyari on the bank of Govardhana. There, he saw once lush groves now dry and withered. Affected deeply by the feeling of lamentation in that place, he continued further inside the groves by Girirāja. From a distance he caught sight of the maidservants of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī serving their Svāminī as She lay on a bed of flower petals. His heart melted and his nature completely changed. He was now in a state of āveśa. He was absorbed in the Vraja-devīs’ love and exalted moods.

With his mood and heart now changed, he could understand some of the specialty and glory of the Vraja-devīs.
When Uddhava went back to Kṛṣṇa, after meeting with the Vraja-devīs, he said, “Now I realize that I have no pure love for You and that You are not really here with me and the mathurāvāsīs; You are with the Vraja-devīs in Vraja. I am so fortunate to have met the abodes of the highest form of bhakti to You.”

When Kṛṣṇa later returned to His eternal abode with all His associates, He had Uddhava remain behind, saying, “Stay in this world for some time. Go to Vraja-dhāma and perform sādhana there.”

Uddhava resided at Uddhava-kyari and practiced sādhana to follow the Vraja-devīs’ footsteps and thereby understand that by their mercy, association, and guidance, he could truly meet Kṛṣṇa and serve Him properly. This pastime teaches us how to enter Vraja and approach Kṛṣṇa.

Sri Prabhodananda Sarasvatīpāda similarly illustrated by his life’s example how to attain the mercy of the Vraja-devīs. Leaving the opulence of South India, he came to Vraja, where he lived as a penniless mendicant. He composed many beautiful prayers and verses in his books and wrote many commentaries to different scriptures. By reading his writings, we can see how he followed the footsteps of the Vraja-devīs and adorned himself with their foot dust. He instructed us how to accept and observe the desire of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Without our Gosvāmīs and Guru-varga’s books, we cannot understand and follow the desire of Mahāprabhu. Therefore, we pray to Śrīla Gurudeva and to the rūpānuga Guru-varga. Knowing ourselves to be unqualified and covered with mundane desires, we pray sincerely to Śrīla Gurudeva. By his miraculous power he has extracted us from the clutches of māyā and brought us to Vṛndāvana. Without any condition he has given us the highest chance available to living entities—to become the maidservants of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī.

Śrīla Gurudeva taught us to stay in Vṛndāvana with firm dedication, determination, and attachment to the dhāma. He told us to respect the dust of the dhāma and all the dhāmavāsis. If we follow this, the gopīs will then not consider whether we are qualified or not, and they will give us their grace and allow us entrance into transcendental Vṛndāvana. They will give us the spiritual greed to serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and bring us into their company. We are therefore so fortunate. By hearing the words of our Guru-varga and by studying their books we come into their company. Śrīla Gurudeva and his books are non-different. Our ācāryas teach us that vāṇī and vapu, the word of Śrī Guru and the transcendental form of Śrī Guru, are selfsame, just as Kṛṣṇa and His name—nāma and nāmī—are non-different.

Śrīla Rūpa Gosvami writes about nāma and nāmī as well as vapu and vāṇī. Nāmī and vapu, the Personified Lord and His Form, do not directly go everywhere, but nāma and vāṇī, the Name and Word, can indeed travel to the farthest corners of the creation, and can invoke nāmī and vapu to manifest in that place. The vapu of Guru-pāda-padma is now present in the form of the holy dhāma and in his deity form. His vāṇī, however, is in all corners of the world in the form of his books and his hari-kathā, and by this message, we can become connected to him.

The Gosvāmīs and their books are similarly selfsame. By touching those books, entering their topics, respecting them, striving to follow their instructions, and keeping them nearby us, we are directly present with the Gosvāmīs. This is the way to please Śrīla Gurudeva.

The title Rādha-rasa-sudhānidhi has many meanings. The basic implication is that Śrīmatī Rādhārānī distributes rasabhakti-rasa, vraja-rasa, prema-rasa, kṛṣṇa-rasa, ānanda-cinmaya-rasa, and so on. She comes to bestow this rasa, and therefore manifested the rāsa-līlā. Rasa is distributed during the rāsa-līlā through many processes such as singing, dancing, playing, speaking intimately, and through various loving exchanges. However, in Kali-yuga, Mahāprabhu gives this rasa through saṅkīrtana. Nāma-saṅkīrtana bestows all rasa in this age. We therefore take shelter of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the combined form of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.

Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati Thakura ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Sri Sri Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi”. Available from: [email protected] )


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