Gaura Purnima 2023

[Nimai-Nitai]“The word ‘bhavani’ means ‘the wife of Lord Shiva.’ But when we mention her husband, one might conclude that she has another husband.” (Lord Chaitanya speaking to Keshava Kashmiri, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 16.63)

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भवानी-शब्दे कहे महादेवेर गृहिणी
ताङ्र भर्ता कहिले द्वितीय भर्ता जानि

bhavānī-śabde kahe mahādevera gṛhiṇī
tāṅra bhartā kahile dvitīya bhartā jāni

How was He able to do it? No, we are not referring to the speaker. His presentation was amazing, in its own way. Keshava Kashmiri composed one hundred verses of praise of Ganga Devi, without much prior notice. But that was his occupation, after all. He was touring the area based on the strength of that skill. He was learned enough to be able to defeat the greatest scholars local to a particular area.

On the occasion of Gaura Purnima, we remember how in a split second the Supreme Personality of Godhead can show but a glimpse of His amazing abilities in the category of knowledge, in such ways that are remembered fondly into the infinite future.

Keshava Kashmiri was learned in the Sanskrit language. To simply read the script, Devanagari, is difficult. To understand what is already written, published works, requires years of study. Upon gaining a deeper understanding, a person is able to manipulate the multiple meanings to the component words and transform single verses into different translations, which do not necessarily all reach the same conclusion or focus on the same topic.

Keshava Kashmiri happened to be meeting with Nimai Pandita, who was a teacher of Sanskrit. Nimai Pandita listened to the beautiful, spontaneous composition. To the astonishment of the scholar, Nimai was then prepared to discuss the merits and faults of the composition.

Just which verse, exactly? Pick any from the one hundred. If Keshava Kashmiri could not remember the words, no big deal. Nimai Pandita kept everything within memory. He did not require a tape recorder. There was not a transcriber sitting nearby, jotting everything down in shorthand. Speech-to-text technology was not available at the time.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that this is the concept of shruti-dhara. One who has captured the content by hearing. Simply by hearing, one could become perfect. It is not required to become an expert scholar or to go out into the field and document the results to repeated experiments.

If hearing from the proper source, from a trusted authority, then there is full potency in the transfer of knowledge. If I accept the right information, from the right person, then I have the chance to keep that information within memory. If I possess the information, I could be counted as intelligent. This is especially true if I know what to do with that information, in the aftermath. The practical application on top of the theoretical understanding.

Mahaprabhu was prepared to discuss the good and bad related to only one verse, but Keshava Kashmiri was offended. How could there be any flaws? It is okay to discuss the glories of the composition. After all, that would help to further encourage the scholar, to make him feel secure in his connection to the goddess of learning, Sarasvati Devi.

If a scholar is true to their occupation, however, they will be willing to accept criticism honestly presented. That is the way to proceed forward. That is the approach for correcting errors so that they will not be repeated in the future. Practice makes perfect, and even better is to practice without intentionally repeating known flaws.

Mahaprabhu picked up on the fact that the words bhavani and bharta were used in conjunction. To the casual person, this is not that big a deal. Bhavani is a familiar name to those living within Vedic culture. The name immediately brings to mind the respected Parvati Devi, who is the daughter of the mountain king.

[Shiva-Parvati]But Bhavani has a specific meaning. It refers to that goddess in her role as the wife of Lord Shiva. The union of Mahadeva and Parvati has an amazing backstory, is filled with valuable lessons and glorification of those great personalities, and is also pleasing to the soul. In this way, we could consider the name Bhavani to be sacred.

Bhavani-bharta directly translates to “the husband of the wife of Shiva.” This creates a possible contradiction. It implies that perhaps Parvati has more than one husband. To think this way is a great offense, as Parvati’s tapasya is legendary. She heard that Mahadeva was in her destiny, and so she made sure that potential became a reality. No one could persuade her out of the voluntarily accepted austerity.

[Nimai-Nitai]In this way, Mahaprabhu simultaneously glorified the wife of Mahadeva and humbled the overly proud pandit from Kashmir. Being the golden avatara, appearing in this world to specifically deliver the fallen souls from the treacherous conditions of the dark age known as Kali, Mahaprabhu has such potency within hearing and more. He has kindly passed along the secret to success and lasting happiness, to extend through the infinite future, in the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Words combining saw,
Mahaprabhu revealing flaw.

That in poetry a mistake,
Insult to Parvati to make.

Amazing that heard only a single time,
But as greatest scholar to shine.

With higher purpose to fulfill,
That devotion in hearts to fill.



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