Chapter Twenty-six
Bhattacarya is Converted
For the impersonalist and voidist philosophers, the next world is a world of senseless eternity and bliss. The voidist philosophers want to establish that ultimately everything is senseless, and the impersonalists want to establish that in the next world there is simply knowledge devoid of activity. Thus less intelligent salvationists try to carry imperfect knowledge into the sphere of perfect spiritual activity. Because the impersonalist experiences material activity as miserable, he wants to establish spiritual life without activity. He has no understanding of the activities of devotional service. Indeed, spiritual activity in devotional service is unintelligible to the voidist philosophers and impersonalists. The Vaisnava philosophers know perfectly well that the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, can never be impersonal or void because He possesses innumerable potencies. Through His innumerable energies, He can present Himself in multiple forms and still remain the Absolute Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus despite expanding Himself in multiple forms and diffusing His innumerable energies, He can maintain His transcendental position.
Thus Lord Caitanya exposed many defects in the Mayavadi philosophy, and although Bhattacarya tried to establish himself by logic and word jugglery, Lord Caitanya was able to maintain Himself from his attacks. The Lord established that Vedic literature is meant for three things: understanding our relationship with the Absolute Supreme Personality of Godhead, acting according to that understanding, and achieving the highest perfection of life, love of Godhead. Anyone who tries to prove that the Vedic literatures aim at anything else is of necessity a victim of his own imagination.
The Lord then quoted some verses from the Puranas by which He established that Sankaracarya was deputed to teach by the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He quoted a verse from the Padma Purana (62.31) in which it is stated that the Lord ordered Mahadeva, Lord Siva, to present some imaginary interpretations of Vedic literatures in order to divert people from the actual purpose of the Vedas. "By doing so you will attempt to make them atheists," the Lord said. "After that, they can produce more population." It is also stated in Padma Purana (25.9) that Lord Siva explained to his wife, Parvati, that in the age of Kali he would come in the form of a brahmana to preach an imperfect interpretation of the Vedas, known as Mayavadism, which in actuality is but a second edition of atheistic Buddhist philosophy.
Bhattacarya was overwhelmed by these explanations of Lord Caitanya. After hearing Mayavada philosophy explained by Lord Caitanya, he could not speak. After he remained silent for some time, Lord Caitanya asked him, "My dear Bhattacarya, don't be confused by this explanation. Please take it from Me that the devotional service of the Supreme Lord is the highest perfectional stage of human understanding. Indeed, it is so attractive that even those who are already liberated become devotees by the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead." There are many such conversions in Vedic literature. For instance, in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.7.10) the famous Atmarama verse is especially meant for those who are attracted to self-realization and liberated from all material attachments. Such liberated impersonalists become attracted to devotional service by the various activities of Lord Krsna. Such are the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Actually, in pure consciousness the living entity understands himself as the eternal servant of the Supreme Lord. Under the spell of illusion, a person accepts the gross and subtle bodies as his self; such a conception is the basis of the doctrine of transference. Actually the part and parcel of the Supreme is not eternally subjected to gross and subtle bodily life. The gross and subtle coverings do not comprise the living entity's eternal form; they can be changed. In other words, the living entity, who is originally pure spirit, can be conditioned by the gross and subtle bodies and, by freeing himself from these gross and subtle conditionings, again attain his situation as pure spirit. Mayavadi philosophers take advantage of this doctrine of transference by saying that the living entity is under the wrong impression when he thinks himself to be part and parcel of the Supreme. They maintain that the living entity is the Supreme Himself. This doctrine cannot be tenable.
Bhattacarya then asked Lord Caitanya to explain the famous Atmarama verse, for he desired to hear it from the Lord Himself. Lord Caitanya replied that first of all Bhattacarya should explain the verse according to his own understanding, and then Lord Caitanya would explain it. Bhattacarya then began to explain the Atmarama sloka, using his methods of logic and grammar. Thus he explained the Atmarama sloka in nine different ways. The Lord appreciated his erudite scholarship in explaining the verse and said: "My dear Bhattacarya, I know that you are a representative of the learned scholar Brhaspati and can explain any portion of the sastras nicely. Yet your explanation is more or less based on academic education only. Aside from this academic scholarly approach, there is another explanation."
Then, at the request of Bhattacarya, Lord Caitanya explained the Atmarama sloka. The words of the verse were analyzed thus: (1) atmaramah, (2) ca, (3) munayah, (4) nirgranthah, (5) api, (6) urukrame, (7) kurvanti, (8) ahaitukim, (9) bhaktim, (10) itthambhuta-gunah, (11) harih. This verse has already been explained in the Lord's teachings to Sanatana Gosvami. Lord Caitanya did not mention the nine different explanations of Bhattacarya, but He did explain the verse by analyzing these eleven words. In this way, He expounded sixty-one different explanations of the verse. In summary He said that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is full of innumerable potencies; no one can estimate how many transcendental qualities He possesses. His qualities are always inconceivable, and all processes of self-realization inquire into the potencies, energies and qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. However, the devotees of the Lord immediately accept the inconceivable position of the Lord. Lord Caitanya explained that even great liberated souls like the Kumaras and Sukadeva Gosvami were also attracted to the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord. Bhattacarya appreciated Lord Caitanya's explanation, and he concluded that Lord Caitanya was none other than Krsna Himself. Bhattacarya then began to deprecate his own position, relating that he had at first considered Lord Caitanya to be an ordinary human being and therefore committed an offense. He then fell down at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya, deprecating himself, and requested the Lord to show His causeless mercy upon him. Lord Caitanya appreciated the humility of this great scholar and therefore exhibited His own form, first with four hands, and then with six hands (sadbhuja). Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya then repeatedly fell down at the Lord's lotus feet and composed various prayers to Him. He was undoubtedly a great scholar, and after receiving the causeless mercy of the Lord, he was empowered to explain the Lord's activities in different ways. Indeed, he was able to express the method of chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
It is said that Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya composed a hundred verses in appreciation of the Lord's activities, and that those verses were so great that they could not even be surpassed by Brhaspati, the greatest learned scholar in the heavenly planets. The Lord was very pleased to hear these hundred verses, and He embraced Bhattacarya. Bhattacarya became overwhelmed with ecstasy by the Lord's touch, and he practically fell unconscious. He cried, trembled, shivered and perspired, and sometimes he danced and sang and fell at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya. Bhattacarya's brother-in-law, Gopinatha Acarya, and the devotees of the Lord were surprised to see the Bhattacarya transformed into a great devotee.
Gopinatha Acarya then began to thank the Lord: "It is by Your grace only that Bhattacarya has been transformed from his stonelike position into such a devotee." Lord Caitanya then replied to Gopinatha Acarya that it was due to a devotee's favor that a stonelike man could be transformed into a mild, flowerlike devotee. Actually Gopinatha Acarya had sincerely wished that his brother-in-law, Bhattacarya, would become a devotee of the Lord. He had sincerely desired that the Lord favor Bhattacarya, and he was glad to see that his desire was fulfilled by Lord Caitanya. In other words, a devotee of the Lord is more merciful than the Lord Himself. When a devotee desires to show his mercy to a person, the Lord acts, and by His grace one becomes a devotee.
Lord Caitanya pacified Bhattacarya and asked him to go home. Bhattacarya again began to praise the Lord and said, "You have descended Yourself to deliver all the fallen souls of this material world. Such an undertaking is not very difficult for You, but You have turned a stonehearted man like me into a devotee, and that is very wonderful indeed. Although I was very expert at logical arguments and grammatical explanations of the Vedas, I was as hard as a lump of iron. But Your influence and temperature were so great that You could melt away a piece of iron like me."
Lord Caitanya then returned to His place, and Bhattacarya sent Gopinatha Acarya to Him with various kinds of prasada from Jagannatha temple. The next day the Lord went to the temple of Jagannatha early in the morning to attend mangala arati. The priests in the temple brought Him a garland from the Deity and also offered Him various kinds of prasada. The Lord was very much pleased to receive them, and He at once went to the house of Bhattacarya, taking the prasada and the flowers to present to him. Although it was early in the morning, Bhattacarya understood that the Lord had come and was knocking on his door. He at once rose from his bed and began to say, "Krsna! Krsna!" This was heard by Lord Caitanya. When Bhattacarya opened the door, he saw the Lord standing there, and he was so pleased to see Him early in the morning that he tried to receive Him with all care. He offered Him a nice seat, and both of them sat there. Lord Caitanya then offered him the prasada which He had received in the temple of Jagannatha, and Bhattacarya was very glad to receive this prasada from the hands of Lord Caitanya Himself. Indeed, without taking his bath and without performing his daily duties or even washing his teeth, he began immediately to eat the prasada. In this way, he was freed from all material contamination and attachment, and as he began to eat the prasada, he cited a verse from Padma Purana. In Padma Purana it is stated that when prasada is brought or received, it must be eaten immediately, even if it has become very dry or old, or even if it is brought from a distant place, or even if one has not completed executing his daily duties. Since it is enjoined in the sastras that prasada should immediately be taken, there is no restriction of time and space; the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead must be followed. There are restrictions one must follow before accepting food from various people, but there are no restrictions on accepting prasada from all kinds of people. prasada is always transcendental and can be taken under any condition. Lord Caitanya was very pleased to see that Bhattacarya, who had always obeyed the rules and regulations strictly, accepted prasada without following any rules and regulations. Being so pleased, Lord Caitanya embraced Bhattacarya, and they both began to dance in transcendental ecstasy. In that ecstasy, Lord Caitanya exclaimed: "My mission in Jagannatha Puri is now fulfilled! I have converted a person like Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. I shall now be able to attain Vaikuntha without fail."
The missionary goal of a devotee is to convert simply one person into a pure devotee. In this way his admission to the spiritual kingdom is guaranteed. The Lord was so pleased with Bhattacarya that He began to bless him repeatedly: "Dear Bhattacarya, now you are a completely pure devotee of Lord Krsna, and Krsna is now very much pleased with you. From today you are freed from the contamination of this material body and the entanglement of material energy. You are now fit to go back to Godhead, back home." The Lord then cited a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.7.42)
"Whoever takes complete shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord is favored by the Supreme Lord, who is known to be unlimited. Such a person also receives permission to cross the ocean of nescience. However, one who thinks this material body to be himself cannot receive the causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
After this incident, Lord Caitanya returned to His place, and Bhattacarya became a pure and faultless devotee. Since he was formerly a great academic scholar, Bhattacarya could only have been converted by the causeless mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. From that day forward Bhattacarya never explained any Vedic literature without explaining devotional service. Gopinatha Acarya, his brother-in-law, was so pleased to see Bhattacarya's condition that he began to dance in ecstasy and vibrate the transcendental sound Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The next day, after visiting Jagannatha temple early in the morning, Bhattacarya went to visit Lord Caitanya, and he offered his respects by falling down before the Lord. He then began to explain his past undesirable behavior. When he asked the Lord to speak something of devotional service, the Lord began to explicitly explain the verses of Brhan-naradiya Purana, in which it is stated: harer nama harer nama [Cc. Adi 17.21]. Upon hearing this explanation, Bhattacarya became more and more ecstatic. Seeing the condition of his brother-in-law, Gopinatha Acarya said, "My dear Bhattacarya, previously I had said that when one is favored by the Supreme Lord, he will understand the techniques of devotional service. Today I am seeing this fulfilled."
Bhattacarya offered him his due respect and replied, "My dear Gopinatha Acarya, it is through your mercy that I have received the mercy of the Supreme Lord." The mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be obtained by the mercy of a pure devotee. Lord Caitanya's mercy was bestowed upon Bhattacarya because of Gopinatha Acarya's endeavor. "You are a great devotee of the Lord," Bhattacarya continued, "and I was simply blinded by my academic education. Yes, I have obtained the mercy of the Lord through your agency only." Lord Caitanya Himself was greatly pleased to hear Bhattacarya say that a man can obtain the mercy of the Lord through the agency of a devotee. He appreciated his words and embraced Bhattacarya, confirming his statement.
The Lord then requested Bhattacarya to go to Jagannatha temple again, and Bhattacarya started out for the temple accompanied by Jagadananda and Damodara, two principal associates of Lord Caitanya. After seeing Jagannatha temple, Bhattacarya returned home and brought with him much prasada purchased from the temple. He sent all this prasada to Lord Caitanya through his brahmana servant.
He also dispatched two verses written on palm tree leaves and requested Jagadananda to render him a favor by delivering them. Thus Lord Caitanya was offered the prasada and the verses on the palm leaves. However, before reaching the Lord, Mukunda Datta, who had also undertaken the delivery of the verses, had copied the verses in his book. When Lord Caitanya read the verses on the palm leaf, he tore them to pieces, for He never liked to be praised by anyone. The verses only survive because they had been copied by Mukunda Datta. These verses praised the Lord, the Supreme Original Personality of Godhead who had descended as Lord Caitanya to preach detachment, transcendental knowledge and devotional service to the people in general. Lord Caitanya was praised as the original Personality of Godhead and was compared with an ocean of mercy. "Let me surrender unto that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu," the verses stated. "The Lord, seeing that devotional service was absent, descended Himself in the form of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to preach devotional service. Let us all surrender unto His lotus feet and learn from Him what devotional service actually is." These verses are considered to be most important jewels by the devotees of the Lord in disciplic succession, and by virtue of these famous verses Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya has become known as the highest of devotees.
Thus Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya was converted into one of the most important devotees of the Lord, and he had no other interest than to serve the Lord. He thought of Lord Caitanya constantly, and meditation and chanting became the main purpose of his life.
One day Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya came before the Lord, offered his respects and began to read a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.8). This verse dealt with Lord Brahma's prayer to the Lord. The verse read:
tat te 'nukampam susamiksamano
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak
"A person who devotes his mind, body and speech to the service of the Lord, even though in the midst of a miserable life fraught with past misdeeds, is assured of liberation." Bhattacarya changed the word mukti (liberation) to bhakti (devotional service).
"Why have you changed the original verse?" the Lord asked Bhattacarya. "The word is mukti, and you have changed it to bhakti." Bhattacarya then replied that mukti is not as valuable as bhakti and that mukti is actually a sort of punishment for the pure devotee. For this reason he changed the word mukti to bhakti. Bhattacarya then began to explain his realization of bhakti. "Anyone who does not accept the transcendental Personality of Godhead and His transcendental form cannot know the Absolute Truth," he said.
One who does not understand the transcendental nature of the body of Krsna becomes Krsna's enemy and defies or fights with Him. The enemies eventually merge into the Lord's Brahman effulgence. Such mukti or liberation into the Brahman effulgence is never desired by the Lord's devotees. There are five kinds of liberation: (1) attaining the planet where the Lord resides, (2) associating with the Lord, (3) attaining a transcendental body like the Lord's, (4) attaining opulence like the Lord, and (5) merging into the existence of the Lord. A devotee has no particular interest in any of these types of liberation. He is satisfied simply by being engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. A devotee is especially adverse to merging into the existence of the Lord and losing his individual identity. Indeed, a devotee considers oneness with the Lord to be hellish. He will, however, accept one of the four other kinds of liberation in consideration for being engaged in the service of the Lord. Out of the two possibilities of merging in transcendence-namely becoming one with the impersonal Brahman effulgence and becoming one with the Personality of Godhead-the latter is more abominable to the devotee. The devotee has no aspiration other than engaging in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
On hearing this, Lord Caitanya informed Bhattacarya that there is another purport to the word mukti. The word mukti-pade directly indicates the Personality of Godhead. The Personality of Godhead has innumerable liberated souls engaged in His transcendental loving service, and He is the ultimate resort of liberation. In any case, Krsna is the ultimate shelter.
"Despite this reading," Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya replied, "I prefer bhakti to mukti. Although according to You there are two meanings to the word mukti, still, because this word is equivocal, I prefer bhakti to mukti because when one hears the word mukti, he immediately thinks of becoming one with the Supreme. I therefore even hate to utter the word mukti. However, I am very enthusiastic to speak of bhakti."
Lord Caitanya laughed very loudly at this and embraced Bhattacarya with great love.
Thus Bhattacarya, who had taken pleasure in explaining Mayavadi philosophy, became such a staunch devotee that he even hated to utter the word mukti. This is only possible by the causeless mercy of the Lord Sri Caitanya. The Lord is like a touchstone, for by His grace He can turn iron into gold. After his conversion, everyone marked a great change in Bhattacarya, and they concluded that this change was made possible only by the inconceivable power of Lord Caitanya. Thus they took it for granted that Lord Caitanya was none other than Lord Krsna Himself.

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