This book describing devotional service to Lord Hari’s lotus feet is a splendid, pure diamond that illuminates the darkness in the hearts of all living entities. O intelligent reader, please accept this diamond as your earring.
O thoughtful reader, please continually hear the instructions that I, Raghava Gosvami, present in this book.
In the Bhakti-ratnakara of Narahari Cakravarti it is said that Sri Raghava Pandita belonged to a Kulina brahmana family of South India, and he always very merciful to the poor. He wrote several books, including Hari-bhakti-ratna-prakasa. Raghava Gosvami was an authority in all sastras. He resided at Govardhana, and when Srinivasa Acarya and Narottama dasa Thakura came to Vrndavana, he guided them on a tour of all the holy places, beginning with Mathura.
It is stated in Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika: "That person who was Sakhl Campakalata, the life of SrimatiRadharani in Vraja, has appeared as Sri Raghava Gosvami, the resident of Govardhana, in Gaura-lila. He has written a book called Hari-bhakti-ratna-prakasa."
In the tenth chapter of the Adi-Illa of Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, it is said: Raghava Pandita, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's original follower, is understood to have been the seventh branch. The foods Damayanti cooked for Lord Caitanya when He was at Puri were carried in bags by her brother Raghava without the knowledge of others. The Lord accepted these foods throughout the entire year. Those bags are still celebrated as raghavera jhali (the bags of Raghava Pandita).
In the Madhya-liIa of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, it is described how Lord Caitanya had bid farewell to the devotees who had come to Jagannatha Puri from Bengal. There it is said: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu next spoke some relishable words to Raghava Pandita: "I am obliged to you due to your pure love for Me."
Then addressing all the assembled devotees, the Lord said: "Just hear about the pure devotional service rendered to Krsna by Raghava Pandita. Indeed, Raghava Pandita's service is supremely pure and highly accomplished. Apart from other commodities, just hear about his offering of coconuts. A coconut is sold at the rate of five ga~4iis each. Although he already has hundreds of trees and millions of fruits, he is still very eager to hear about the place where sweet coconuts are available. He collects coconuts with great endeavor from a place twenty miles away, and he pays four panas each for them."
"Every day five to seven coconuts are clipped and put into water to keep cool. At the time of offering bhoga, the coconuts are again clipped and cleansed. After holes are made in them at the top, they are offered to Lord Krsna. Lord Krsna drinks the juice from these coconuts, and sometimes the coconuts are left drained of juice. At other times the coconuts remain filled with juice."
"When Raghava Pandita sees that the juice has been drunk from the coconuts, he is very pleased. He then breaks the coconuts, takes out the pulp and puts it on another plate. After offering the pulp, he meditates outside the temple door. In the meantime, Lord Krsna, having eaten the pulp, leaves the plate empty. Sometimes, after eating the pulp, Krsna fills the plate again with new pulp. In this way, the faith of Raghava Pandita increases, and he floats in an ocean of love."
"One day it so happened that about ten coconuts were properly clipped and brought by a servant to offer to the Deity. When the coconuts were brought, there was little time to offer them because it was already late. The servant, holding the container of coconuts, remained standing at the door. Raghava Pandita then saw that the servant touched the ceiling above the door and then touched the coconuts with the same hand. Raghava Pandita then said, 'People are always coming and going through that door. The dust from their feet blows up and touches the ceiling. After touching the ceiling above the door, you have touched the coconuts. Now they are no longer fit to be offered to Krsna because they are contaminated.' Such is the service of Raghava Pandita. He did not accept the coconuts but threw them over the wall. His service is purely based on unalloyed love, and it conquers the whole world."
"Thereafter, Raghava Pandita had other coconuts gathered, cleansed and clipped, and with great attention he offered them to the Deity to eat. In this way, from distant villages he collects excellent bananas, mangoes, oranges, jackfruits and whatever other first-class fruits he has heard about. All these fruits are collected from distant places and bought at a high price. After trimming them with great care and purity, Raghava Pandita offers themto the Deity. Thus with great care and attention Raghava Pandita prepares spinach, other vegetables, radishes, fruits, chipped rice, powdered rice and sweetmeats. He prepares cakes, sweet rice, condensed milk and everything else with great attention, and the cooking conditions are purified so that the food is first class and delicious."
"Raghava Pandita also offers all kinds of pickles, such as ksamdi. He offers various scents, garments, ornaments and the best of everything. Thus Raghava Pandita serves the Lord in an incomparable way. Everyone is very much satisfied just to see him."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then mercifully embraced Raghava Pandita.
As expected, it was a great transcendental pleasure to go through this wonderful translation by Kusakratha Prabhu. Everything he touches is permeated with a wonderful pure devotion that is devoid of pride and filled with great affection for Radha and Krsna.
This book, Hari-bhakti-ratna-prakasa, contains some gems of wisdom, and some information not to be easily acquired elsewhere. Here are three verses that fascinated me:
"In the Varaha-samhitii Lord Varaha says: The individual jiva souls are billion-billionth parts of the blissful nectarean rays of light shining from the dark- complexioned form of the Supreme Lord."
"The flowers' great variety of fragrances come from the touch of a millionth part of a fragment of the Divine Couple's charming transcendental forms. Lord Krsna's original potency is His beloved Radhika. From a trillionth part of a fraction of Her effulgehce are manifested Durga- devi and other demigoddesses in this world of three modes."
"If one sells or gives in charity a cow, he does not give or sell himself. In the same way one may give his body, possessions, or many other things to lord Krsna, but refrain from giving himself."
Here is certainly a highly-appreciated addition to anyone's collection of Vaisnava literature.
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