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Amrita-rasavali :: Mukundadasa

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This book purports to be the Bengali translation of a Sanskrit work, now lost, attributed to Mukunda Das Goswami. The translator's name is not given, but he claims to be a disciple of Mukunda Das.
(Jagat 2006-02-17)

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Original written in: Unknown
Entry added: February 17th 2006
Entry updated: May 22nd 2019
Views: 2529
Downloads: 470
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Added by: Jagat
Text version: 1.00 (legend)
Keywords: Mukundadasa, Mukunda, Amritarasavali, Bengali, Sahajiya
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Additional notes from the editors' research and selected discussion forum contributions.
...More · Posted by Jagat on February 20th 2006 - 14:50 +0100
Haridas Das in his Vaishnava Abhidhan says that there are two different Mukundas, one he calls Mukunda Goswami, the other Mukunda Das Goswami.
Mukunda Goswami: Born in Multan in Punjab. He was the disciple of a Punjabi devotee of Chaitanya named Krishna Das. He brought Krishnadas Kaviraja's Chaitanya Charitamrita to Bengal and had it copied and distributed there. So he was responsible for preaching this work in the East.

Krishnadas had five principle disciples: Gopal Kshatriya, Vishnudas, Radhakrishna Chakravarty, Govinda Adhikary and Mukundadev.

Mukundadeva's father was a rich merchant. One day, Mukunda was resting in the family mansion when he had a dream telling him to go to Vrindavan. On waking, he took his father's permission to go on a business trip. He filled a boat with perfumes and went down the Yamuna toward Vrindavan. In Vrindavan, he was enchanted by the scenic forests and the darshan of Govinda and Gopinath. Then he met Krishna Das Kaviraj who took him under his wing. All the great devotees living in Vraja at the time gave him their blessings, transforming him into a merchant of Krishna-prema. (This is basically the Vivarta Vilasa story.)

Mukunda Goswami:: He is mentioned in the Sadhana-dipika as a disciple of Krishna Das Kaviraj. He wrote the commentary on Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu called Artha-ratnalpa-dipika. Another book called Siddhanta-candrodaya is attributed to him. He has a line of disciples found in Assam. Haridas Das here publishes a letter dated 1717 (1773 Samvat), which among other things tells disciples of this line not to associate with the Surma devotees.

zrI zrI rAdhA govinda-devau jayatAM
Radhamohan Adhikari, devoted servant of Radha-Gadadhar and Gaura-Govinda embraces you warmly and gives you his blessings for all auspiciousness. Previously, the principal servant of Mukunda Das Goswami was Mathura Das Goswami. His disciple was Pran Bandhu Adhikar. You are his nephew and disciple, and so I am turning the service of these deities over to you, as well as the succession of the guru-gaddi. Raghunath Bhatta and Krishna Das Kaviraj served these deities. Follow in their footsteps and those of all the Vaishnavas and worship the Lord according to their methods. Do not associate with the Surama people. I am giving you Radha Krishna Chakravarti's Kunj to live in. Build something there and make it your residence.

Not quite sure whether I've got that letter quite right.

I don't know whether the distinction between the two Mukundas is justified. There seems to be no information that specifically prevents the one from being the other. The only thing that has probably led HDD to draw this conclusion is the reference to the Surama folk, who are identified with the followers of Rupa Kaviraj. So it appears that he wants to salvage the Mukunda Das commentary by taking it out of the hands of the Sahajiyas. Anyway, there are problems with HDD's assessment here.

As an aside, that letter from Radha Mohan Adhikari seems to indicate that Krishna Das Kaviraj may have been Raghunath Bhatta Goswami's disciple. There are many speculations about who actually initiated KKG, but one of the possibilities has always been Raghunath Bhatta. This would lend support to that thesis.

Information about Mukundadasa · Posted by Jagat on February 20th 2006 - 14:48 +0100
From Paritosh Das: Sahajiya Cult of Bengal and Pancha Sakha Cult of Orissa. Calcutta: Firma KLM Pvt.Ltd., 1988. pp.76-80. The text was scanned, so there is a possibility that many errors remain. Otherwise, I have not made any editing changes, but have left the text in the state I found it. (Jagat)


Mukundadev Gosvami: Vivarta-Vilasa is an important Sahajiya work which is attributed to Akinchan Das. Tbe author of this book has compared Krishnadas Kaviraj with Vyasadev and Caitanya-Cantamrita with Bhagavata. From Vivarta-Vilasa we corne to know that Krishnadas Kaviraj had many disciples; of them five were his chief disciples who founded the five sehools of Vaishnava Sahajiya Doctrine. The names of these five chief disciples are Gopal Kshatriya, Vishnudas, Radhakrishna Chakravarty, Govinda Adhikary and Mukundadev. The school founded by Mukundadev got prominence and wide popularity.

Mukundadev was the youngest and the most favourite disciple of Krishnadas Kaviraj. It is said that Mukundadev came of a very rich zamindar family. But from very boyhood he was indifferent to all sorts of earthly pleasure and happiness. He became so keen to embrace the life of a sannyasi (rnonk) that one day he discarded the family life and took refuge to Krishnadas who was moved to pity him and take him into the fold of his intimate disciples.

Having reoeived grace from Krishnadas, Mukundadev wrote six books reflecting the mystic devotional ideas and describing the secret esoteric practices in relation to the my stic culture of the Sahajiyas. The names of these books are (1) Amrita-ratnavali, (2) Ranga-ratnavali. (3) Amrita-rasavali, (4) Prema-ratnavali, (5) Bhringa-ratnavali and (6) Lavanga-chartravali. These six books together are known by the name Mukunda-muktavali. All were written in Sanskrit. Premadas, one of the disciples of Mukundadev, translated the fifth-book, Bhringa-ratnavali into Bengali verse and that was also done by him at the bidding or Krishnadas Kaviraj.

The third book, Amrita-rasavali of Mukundadev is found in the form of Bengali verse This book deals with the higher aspect of the Sahajiya doctrine. It is written on the principle of awakening spiritual consciousness by the culture of one's own self. It also maintains that the success of the devotional love depends upon a man's adopting the nature of a woman. All these have been treated in this book in the form of interesting allegories. The significance of the allegories is that the individual Soul is a spark of the Supreme Soul. It is by nature free, but enters into bondage owing to its connection with Maya. Being of divine origin it naturally longs for nectar. But without culture of one's own self one cannot get rid of Maya and is thereby deprived of tasting nectar. The work, therefore, deals with pnnciples of regular culture. In the sphere of mystic culture the senses should be trained and kept under perfect controL Perfect control of senses is a necessary condition for spiritual advancement This done, the sight of divine beauty (rupa) enchants the soul. Then by adopting the nature of a woman if devotional sentiment towards God is cultivated, the object is attained and the final entry into the abode of spiritual blisa. is accomplished. This is the nature of Sahajiya culture as taught by the Amrita-rasavali.

Mohamahopadhaya Sri Gopinath Kaviraj in his book “Sri-krishna Prasanga", has mentioned the name, Mukudaram Das, another disciple of Mukundadev Goswami, as the translator of Amrita-rasavali in Bengali. It has also been mentioned in “Sri-krishna Prasanga" that Mukundaram Das also wrote another Sahajiya book named “Adya Sarasvati Karika" in Bengali and thus helped in spreading the Sahajiya doctrine among the masses.

Mukundaram Das has rnentioned the followîng reason for the composition of Amrita-rasavali in Bengali. The mystic love of Chaitanya was first interpreted by Svarupa Damodar in his Kadaca. Svarupa Damodar imparted his teachings to Raghunath Das Goswami. Raghunath in turn imparted his knowledge to his disciple Krishnadas Kaviraj. Krishnadas Kaviraj who was brought up in the atmosphere of Vrindavan under the direct influence of the Goswamis, could not do the full justice to Sahaja-Doctrine in his masterpiece production Caitanya Caritamrita. So he felt an urge within in writing a book dealing with the practical side of mystic culture, as the Caitanya Caritimrita could not satisfy that need. He then took to writing a book named "Prema-ratnavali". But Krishnadas Kaviraj was already very old when he was writing the Caitanya Caritimrita. He was completely overtaken by the infirmities of old age at that tirne. Under these circurnstances it was not easy to tax further his energies to write another book when he had practkally come to the end of his life. So he fell in swoon and rernained unconscious for days together. But Nityananda who passed away towards the middle part of the sixteenth century A.D., ordered Krishnadas Kaviraj in a dream to write a book dealing with the practical side of the Vaishnava Sahajiya doctrine. When Krishnadas Kaviraj recovered from swoon, he handed over this arduous task to his favourite disciple Mukundadev Goswami. Being ordered by him Mukundadev wrote Amrita-rasavali in Sanskrit, who, in turn bade his disciple Mukundaram Das translate it into Bengali.

Like the Amrita-rasavali, Arnritaratnavali, the first book of Mukundadev is also found written in Bengali verses At the end of this Bengali book we find mention of the name of the author. The author is no other than Mukunda Das. The book begins with a discussion about the nature of Rasa, Rati, Rupa and Raga, and shows how they are interrelated These subjects are purely based on mystic devotional culture. It then describes how a Sahajiya devotoe should pass through the three different stages of spiritual culture, namely, (1) Pravartak, (2) Sadhak and (3) Sidda. At the first stage the devotee should be initiated by a Diksha Guru. After initiation he should recite Mantras and perform vanous pious acts under the guidance of the Guru. Then 'Asakti' (attraction) towards Krishna will grow up in his mind, which will gradually elevate the devotee to the next two higher stages of spiritualism.

At the second stage of Sadhak, the devotee gets the sight of Krishna. The sight of the all-pervading beauty of God captures the mmd of Sadhak. The Sadhak.then aproaches near to God by following the deep devotional love (Raganuga Bhakti). At the same time the author lays much emphasis on the practical side of yoga in order to spiritualize the body. The author asserts that secrets of human body the Sahajiya Sadhak cannot enter into the sphere of mystic culture of devotional love. It is regarded by the author that the culture of human body is an indispensable accessory for the realisation of the Sahaja-nature as supreme love. This is why the author has introduced the topics of vanous nerves (Nadi), lotuses (Padma) and ponds (Sarovar) within the human body. Here we get the mention of male and female elements in every body and of Paramatma living in the Aksaya-sarovar (eternal pond) over the head. Besides there are descriptions of Sahajapur, Sada-nandagram, Candrakirti-puragam, of eight Nayikas (damsels) and many other similar subjects. So we find that the Amrita-ratnavali is the first Sahajiya Bengali book dealing elaborately with the subject of the gradual development of emotional and sentimental devotional-love under the guidanoe of the Guru, and with the psychophysiological system of the hurnan body on Tantrik model. Thus the work deals with various matters of spiritual significance which are the important features of the post-Caitanya Sahajiya doctrine.

Thus we find that Mukundadev Goswami, one of the chief disciples of Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, was the most erudite Sahajiya scholar who wrote six valuable works on Sahajiya culture in Sanskrit. But those works are found to be lost except the three books namely, Amrita-ratnavali, Amrrita-rasavali and Bhringa-ratnavali that are available in Bengali verse translated from the original Sanskrit works by the two disciples of Mukundadev.

Mahamohapadhyay Gopinath Kaviraj in his book "Sri Krishna Prasanga" has stated that Mukundadev had many disciples. Of them, four are worth mentioning. The names of these four disciples are (1) Nrisimhananda, (2) Radharaman, (3). Gokul Baul and (4) Mathuranath. These four disciples established four branches of the Sahajiya religion in the line of Mukundadev.

From the above review we rnay derive that Mukundadev was practically the vanguard of the modern Sahajiya doctrine of Bengal. Mukundadev was the disciple of Krishnadas Kaviraj who died sometime during the closing years of the sixteenth century A. D. We can, therefore, conclude that the rnodern Sahajiya doctrine first issued forth as an independent cult from the fold of the post-Caitanya orthodox Vaishnava faith in Bengal towards the beginning of the seventeenth century A.D.