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Srila Svarup Damodar Goswami: Master Acharya

(Spoken by His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj on 23 September 1981)



Srila Svarup Damodar's previous name was Purushottama Bhattacharya. When he was in Nabadwip, he had much appreciation for Nimai Pandit, Mahaprabhu. Although in the early pastimes of Mahaprabhu, we do not find much mention about him, we are told that Purushottama Bhattacharya was closely watching Mahaprabhu Nimai Pandit's balya-lila (childhood pastimes) but, perhaps, from a distance, with some awe and respect. Later on, when Nimai Pandit took sannyas, he could not tolerate it anymore – he ran to Benaras and took sannyas, too. Because he was half-mad, he ran away before the whole ceremony of sannyas was finished, so his name remained as Svarup, which is a title of a brahmachari.

Prakash, Chaitanya, Svarup and Ananda are four suffixes usually added to brahmachari names: for example, Prakashananda, Nitya-svarup, Krishna Chaitanya, Prakash Chaitanya, Ananda Svarup. Sometimes, Nityananda Prabhu is also called Nityananda Svarup, so some say that He was not a sannyasi, but a brahmachari. At the same time, He was also given a Vyasa-puja in Srivas Angan, so some say that He was a sannyasi, but He did not wear any special garment of either a sannyasi or a brahmachari. He was of a very independent spirit.

Question: It is said that before Svarup Damodar met Lord Chaitanya, he desired to take what is called yoga-patta.

Yoga-patta (kaupina, or bahirvasa) is a formal sign of a sannyasi, but Svarup Damodar did not accept it. He fled away half-mad in the middle of the sannyas function because his heart was burning in separation from Mahaprabhu, he did not think straight. His guru was, perhaps, some Chaitanya-ananda. He was taking sannyas in Benaras, but he could not stand the whole function, so he ran away.

He met Sri Chaitanyadev two years later in Puri. Mahaprabhu welcomed him with the words, 'You have come, Svarup! I feel that I have now regained My two lost eyes!'

তুমি যে আসিবে, আজি স্বপ্নেতে দেখিল ।
ভাল হৈল, অন্ধ যেন দুই নেত্র পাইল ॥

tumi ye asibe, aji svapnete dekhila
bhala haila, andha yena dui netra paila

[Mahaprabhu said to Svarup Damodar upon his arrival] I dreamt today that you had come, and it is so good that you have actually come! I feel as if I was blind and now I have got two eyes.'

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, 2.10.122)

Svarup Damodar is 'saksat Mahaprabhu, dvitiya svarupa' (a double, or a facsimile, of Mahaprabhu). 'Sangite gandharva-sama, sastre brhaspati (সঙ্গীতে—গন্ধর্ব্ব-সম, শাস্ত্রে—বৃহস্পতি). His scholarship can be compared to that of Brihaspati, who is the greatest scholar in heaven; and in terms of singing, he can be compared to Gandharvas, heavenly denizens who are very expert and notable for their singing ability' (Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, 2.10.116). So, both in terms of singing and scholarship, Svarup Damodar holds a unique position in Mahaprabhu's sampradaya.

The fourteen slokas of Mahaprabhu's parichaya (identity), which are the basis from which we know who Mahaprabhu and others were, come from Svarup Damodar. The whole structure, the steel-frame of the Chaitanya-lila is supplied by Svarup Damodar. Kaviraja Goswami quoted it in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, explaining Nityananda-tattva, explaining who Gadadhar is, who Chaitanyadev is, who Srivas Pandit is, who Advaita Prabhu is. The whole structure was given by Svarup Damodar, and it was followed by everyone (Sanatan, Rupa, Kaviraj Goswami, Raghunath, and others) – they all accepted that Advaita Prabhu was Maha-Vishnu, Nityananda was Baladev, Chaitanyadev was a combined form of Radha-Govinda (Radharani, emptied from the whole thing), and so on. So, the basic acquaintance of Chaitanya-lila comes from Svarup Damodar; the whole structure was formed on the foundation supplied by Svarup Damodar.

Svarup Damodar is Lalita Devi in Krishna-lila. She is Radharani's guardian, and she considers herself the only guardian of Radharani. Her affection towards Radharani is so blind that she does not care even for Krishna. She sometimes even gives stricture to Krishna, 'You do not know how to treat my Mistress! Do You have any idea how great She is and what great affection She has got for You? You come to compete with Her – who are You?!' She sometimes chastises Krishna. Such is her position, and such is her great affection for Radharani as Her guardian.

বিশ্বম্ভর প্রিয়ঙ্কর, শ্রীস্বরূপ-দামোদর,
শ্রীগোস্বামী রূপ-সনাতন ॥

visvambhara priyankara, sri-svarupa-damodara,
sri-gosvami rupa-sanatana

Vishvambhar's dearest associates are Sri Svarup Damodar, Sri Rupa Goswami and Sri Sanatan Goswami.

(Sri Guru Parampara)

First comes Svarup Damodar, the dearmost associate of Mahaprabhu, and then, in retinue, come Rupa, Sanatana, and others.

চৈতন্যলীলা-রত্ন-সার, স্বরূপের ভাণ্ডার,
তেঁহো থুইলা রঘুনাথের কণ্ঠে ।
তাঁহা কিছু যে শুনিলুঁ, তাঁহা ইঁহা বিস্তারিলুঁ,
ভক্তগণে দিলুঁ এই ভেটে ॥

chaitanya-lila-ratna-sara, svarupera bhandara,
tenho thuila raghunathera kanthe
tahan kichhu ye sunilun, taha ihan vistarilun,
bhakta-gane dilun ei bhete

(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, 2.2.84)

Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami says here, 'Sri Gauranga-lila is kept in the storehouse of Svarup Damodar, and from there, he extended something to the throat of Raghunath. I have got a few drops of that from my guru, Raghunath, and now, my beloved listeners and readers, I am going to contribute a part of that to you. I am going to describe and elaborate on that here.'

So, Svarup Goswami knows everything about Gauranga. He is the master acharya.







Read more:

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Service to Gaura-Gadadhar

Soul's Svakiya and Parakiya

Overthrowing Anarthas


Srila Svarup Damodar Goswami: Master Acharya