The progress of an uncommon life is often slow but steady; its influence works silently and behind the gaze of the ordinary eye up to the height of the heavenly and superhuman in the long run. It always begins in a humble and modest way through most common things. So it has been with Jagadbandhu, the story of whose mysterious and wonderful but most uncommon life of devotion and piety we shall here try to tell out readers.
The small village of Govindapur near Faridpur in Bengal was the native place of the father of Jagadbandhu. His father's name was Dinanath Chakravarty who early shifted his residence to Dahapara Bhamancharpara village on the Bhagirathi in the District of Murshidabad. Dinanath was a Pandit and was famed for his scholarship in Nyaya Philosophy and for his stainless and forceful character.
In the early dawn of the 17th of Vaisakha in 1278 B.S. (April 28, 1871 A.D.) on the Sitanavami day which is regarded as auspicious by the Hindus was born Jagadbandhu at Dahapara. He was the youngest son of Dinanath, the elder children having died in infancy. The birth of a child in the exquisitely handsome person of Jagadbandhu gave joy to the sad hearts of his parents. Jagadbandhu lost his mother before he was one year old. Bhairav Babu, his uncle, came and took charge of him. His aunt died when he was three years old. He lost his father at seven years of age when he was put in charge of his elder sister.
Jagadbandhu was religiously bent and of a reverential frame of mind from his early boyhood, and loved sacred music and holy songs. He was restless but not haughty in his childhood. He never liked quarrelling with his playmates. His mild and smiling look cheered every one. He was loved by all.
On the death of his uncle, Jagadbandhu was placed under the care of his cousins, Tarini Babu and Gopal Babu. He read for sometime in a vernacular school and then in a high school at Faridpur up to the third class. He loved seclusion and was of a retiring disposition, and never mixed with his schoolfellows much. He talked but little. Owing to an incident due to a misunderstanding on the part of the authorities he left school. Then he was admitted into the Ranchi High School and resided with Tarini Babu. Here while Tarini Babu was away at his office his cook poisoned Jagadbandhu before removing some of his property, lest the boy should live and disclose the misdeed. Jagadbandhu recovered with timely medical aid. Tarini Babu then thought it unsafe to keep Jagadbandhu any longer and sent him to one of his own relations at Pabna, who got him admitted into the Zilla school there.
After the Upanayana ceremony, the wearing of the sacred thread, at the age of thirteen, Jagadbandhu used to pass much of his time in meditation and talked less than before. His guardian became anxious about his future for this.
He left school while he was in the Entrance class. He paid respects to pious and holy men and could not withhold himself from Keertan parties. He fell into trance on hearing holy songs for a short time even. Sometimes his trance would continue for a whole day and night. His relations tried their best to keep him off from Keertan and sacred songs but in vain. He liked jatra performances, particularly the plays about Dhruva and Prahlada who were truly devoted to God Sri Hari. He maintained that pure love not mixed up with passion and attained through devotion, piety and pure living are the only way to reach Him. At Pabna, he very often loved to sit or lie down under a Keli Kadam tree closely associated with Sri Krishna. His indifference to material prosperity and his mysterious power that was felt by others from time to time combined with his forceful personality to attract to him many admirers.
Whoever approached him driven by untoward circumstances or out of spiritual hankering got consolation and religious instruction, which emphasized the need of pure and pious living. Schoolboys flocked to Jagadbandhu to the grave concern of their guardians, who, fearing they might be led astray or might turn so many ascetics put all sorts of obstacles in their way. They even tried to bring Jagadbandhu into contempt in several ways. Jealousy went further and some one of them belabored him almost to death and left him at a distance. His admirers and relatives came to know of this at once, and with tender care got him round. They wanted him to disclose the name of the rascal who maltreated him in that way, but he only smiled and said, "You need not be sorry for this petty thing. They are not to blame. More misery and torments are in store for me, but no one will be able to take my life." Such was the spirit of resignation and forgiveness that raised him in the estimation of men who came in touch with him. In the Pubna town, a Darvis lived of the name of Haran Khapa, the eccentric Haran, who was a sadhu in disguise. His nickname was Buda Siva, the name given to Advaita, an associate of Chaitanya. Some would even identify him with Advaita, who, according to them, had survived Chaitanya Lila. He has of late departed from this world. He was on intimate terms with Jagadbandhu who never mixed with or came in touch with others but liked the company of the gray-haired ascetic and talked to him freely to his heart's content. (see "Jagadbandhu", by Mahendraji.)
HIS TRAVELS AND SECLUSION
The tyranny of unscrupulous men cannot keep back a genius from having his own way; rather it adds to his glory in the long run. So it happened in the case of Jagadbandhu, who rose in the estimation of the sober and the judicially-minded public gradually. Rajarshi Vanamali Ray Bahadur, a big landholder and a devoted Vaisnava of Taras in East Bengal became much attracted to Jagadbandhu and took him to his place. In company with him the Rajarshi visited many places at Vrindavan, associated with the blessed memory of Sri Krishna. After this Jagadbandhu came down to Calcutta and then went to a Faridpur village of the name of Brahmankanda.
From this time forth Jagadbandhu began the life of a strict Brahmacharin. He used to cover with a white robe his body from head to foot excepting the eyes, and wear rubber shoes while walking. Ordinarily his dress consisted of a simple "dhuti" and "chudder"; there was nothing of the iron prong, plaited hair, ashes or sackcloth about him, that make up the usual complement of an ascetic's dress, nor did he take hemp or drugs. He used to wear a chain of rudraksha bead round his neck, his hair was rather yellow with a darkish tinge on it; his gaze was peaceful and loving; a perfect look of renunciation and love. Young Jagadbandhu became a cause of anxiety to his guardians and a fountain of peace to his admirers. At this time, about the age of seventeen, he was photographed at the wish of his friends.
Jagadbandhu gradually cut himself off from his relatives and felt inclined irresistibly to the life of a sannyasin. His sole guardians at this stage became practically the boys that were always to be seen in his company, and it was mainly they that supplied the needs of the ascetic whom they loved so well and deeply. He in his turn was their friend, philosopher and guide, a source of moral inspiration. His instructions did them immense good in their youth and after life as well. They were meant to suit the individual needs and so were of different natures. Nor were they few and they were all embodied in his own life and they may be acted upon according to his individual need, by every seeker of truth who aspires to the life of a good citizen. It was never the way with Jagadbandhu to dissuade boys from following a householder's life. They profited by their friend's advice in their life to the extent they followed it.
Several boys that gathered round him confessed to him all their past misdeeds. He would give them consolation and often tell them that "Sin is to be condemned but not the sinner." He wrote to some of them: - "Pray for frail humanity; forgiveness, pity, religious instruction and purification are primary virtues." The boys got all this from their friend Jagadbandhu. He wrote to another emphasizing the value of the discipline of character, pure and simple living, holy thoughts and good deeds bringing about physical well-being and preventing physical decay.
He said, "All well-arranged routine for a strict life will purify the mind and body and prepare them for renunciation, free the mind from desire and pleasure-seeking pursuits and give the higher objects of life. A well-regulated life alone can enable a man to withstand the temptations that surround him always and everywhere. Absence of this weakens the body and mind and breeds idleness and gloom or hankering without satisfaction and distress without limit."
He used to impress upon the students that studious habits were necessary for them and that Brahmacharya would only help their studies and not hinder them in any way. He forbade them to sit or lie together in contact with one another or to take food tasted by another and also advised them to talk as little as possible and not to look at the face of another lustfully. He enjoined on all to become graduates first and then think of a life of meditation. He did not like illiteracy, which he thought to be an obstacle in the way of spiritual realization even. He was never for show or over-enthusiasm in work and was always for slow and steady application. Once he advised some of his young friend thus "Don't discard worldly concerns merely because the world seems too hot for you. He who does not get happiness and peace in his house cannot expect to get them outside by leaving it when their time has yet to mature."
Jagadbandhu taught Brahmacharya not merely in words but by actually leading a strict life of purity and devotion himself. His admirers and associates got inestimably benefited by coming in touch with him; it was not that they turned ascetics but that they became good householders. As was natural, there were some who got astray in their life and forgot the valuable model he set before them, and came to rue it.
The inoffensive, steadfast and silent course of Jagadbandhu's life of uncommon devotion soon smoothed down feelings against him and turned the opinion of the guardians of the boys, his ever faithful companions, in his favour and the mists of prejudice and ignorance lifted.
Jagadbandhu encouraged his student-friends in singing pious songs in a band; this he would do sometimes by beating the drum (mridanga), himself from inside his cottage and in various other ways such as presents of holy books, cymbals, drums used in Keertana, and clothes to particular persons. For some he would compose holy songs.
In several places in the Faridpur district keertan parties were organized at the instance of Jagadbandhu to sing regularly holy songs in bands. He used to compose songs, which became exceedingly popular in no time and are still so, in most parts of Bengal. Among his books of pious songs may be mentioned "Harikatha", "Chandrapata" and "Srimati Keertan". His songs are charmingly sung by the Bagdis, a depressed class at Faridpur, who are not inconsiderable in number and have been reclaimed by Jagadbandhu from a life given to drinking and frivolous pleasure. They are a band of people who are steadfastly devoted to their master and friend Jagadbandhu, all along. Their Keertan songs are appreciated throughout the locality. Their improvement struck the public very much.
His followers soon got him a thatched cottage at Bakchar village which he named "Bakchar angan" where he used to spend his time in religious discussion, singing sacred songs with his admirers who always loved his holy company. He never initiated anybody like other religious men or spiritual guides who are known as "gurus" generally.
Let us try to recollect here some of the things Jagadbandhu told his young friends about the time he retired into seclusion. They are no doubt interesting in the light of later happenings: - "People come to me taking me to be a sadhu and ask for the various objects of their desire, some for the clearance of debts, winning of lawsuits, earthly comforts, and so forth, but nobody wants at heart, deliverance and the sweet name of the Lord. Take heed not to fall into the yawning caves of sin. Forget not to remember me once at least in the whole day." At this the boys said, "Why don't you come out and give joy to all?" To this his answer was "O my friends, nobody seeks me now. People deliberately avoid me or go astray. They do not understand what I say."
After a pause, he continued, "People do not accept me now, but the time will come when they will flock to me in numbers to listen to me. There will be bands of holy men singing the glory of the Lord all about the earth which will dance as it were in spiritual glee. I shall go out into the world of men when there will be a universal hankering after and thirst for spirituality. I am complete in myself; I am the friend of the creation and will sing aloud the glory of the Lord by myself; I do not look up to others for help. The sannyasins are selfishly engaged in their own salvation; they won't help me in my mission. Those alone who have prophetic vision or are steadfastly devoted to me can help me in my work."
In some other occasion he said, " In course of time a new race of men will spring up and will flock to me, whose faith in the Lord is deep-rooted and who will sacrifice their all for the divine purpose and will at the same time be busy in working for Him. Live a life of purity then while there is time yet, so that you may be able to share in the spiritual good that awaits the whole world more or less."
He told them that those who would come to help him in his work would have to suffer many privations and undergo discipline of the tyranny of the unbelievers.
He told his young friends while asking leave of them, "I will remember you, whether you remember me or not. Nobody will be able to escape me." He advised them to read daily his book Hari Katha, which throws light on the past Lilas of Chaitanya and Krishna. The book is a perennial fountain of the Vaishnava philosophy embodied in songs. It is difficult to understand in most places, but while sung seldom fail to strike the right note in the heart. The sound of the words when sung have peculiar powers to stir peculiar emotions of an ethical nature. The book has interest only for the followers of the Prabhu for the present.
He always liked that his occasional message to his admirers and others should be reported verbatim, otherwise he feared they would lose their force and effect altogether. Every peculiar sound, he maintained, had peculiar powers about it. He did not like for the same reason that any one should distort his composition while singing also.
Once, some thirty years ago, he said, "You go on doing Brahmacharya and I shall set right one continent after another with my mysterious blow. Drinking and cow-slaughter will disappear from the earth." We gather this from Sj-Rameschandra Chakravarty, B.A, "At first men will not be able to understand my deeds. As people cannot ordinarily detect the daily growth of a blade of grass, but after six months it looks large, my deeds, also will be accomplished silently behind the gaze of the ordinary eye, and after some time will attract men's notice and fill them with wonder." (see "Shuva Sambad," by Jogendra Kaviraj)
One moon-lit night Jagadbandhu was lying in an open field near a tree. His boy companions who frequented the place did not know this; they were sporting merrily and freely near about the tree. All of a sudden they noticed a mysterious display of cheerful light moving to and from under the tree; they at first took it to be burning marsh gas. Subsequently they came to discover the whole thing to their great surprise and wonder. After this incident Jagadbandhu disclosed to them the following: - "All the world of being, not even atoms excepted, longs to be steeped in the sweet balm of the Lord. This time I will make all feel the potency of His sweet name and taste the joys of Heaven."
HIS CHANGE OF BEHAVIOR
Before sinking into his deep and mysterious silence unbroken for years, Jagadbandhu visited many places, among which were Vrindaban, Navadwipa, Calcutta, Pubna, Mymensingh, Dacca and some stations in the Punjab and the Deccan. In Calcutta at Rambagan, he improved the despised class known as Domas and taught them holy songs and organized from among them a keertan party at his cost. These people are still devoted to their Prabhu who is far away from them in his retirement at Goyalchamat.
In the Bengali year 1308, in the month of Chaitra, Jagadbandhu's ways underwent a change. He would not talk as before, his genial smile would not pour blissfulness into other's hearts any longer. Even he wrote fewer letters at the time. This gave his admirers a grave cause of anxiety.
Some time after this he arrived all of a sudden at the village of Brahman Kanda in a half-frenzied state brought about by his despair of the fate of men, who, he complained, were in no mood to follow the path of devotion. The doctor came but he could do little to cure him, he would not take medicine. At that time he gave in writing something that indicated that he would be the long-looked-for One at this critical hour of man. His implored all to sing the glory of the Lord so that his mission might be fulfilled and he might have got himself absolved thereby.
His malady was cured at length by Harinama, sacred songs and devout prayers. His sole guardians at the time were is constant boy-friends who tended him with the utmost care and took immense delight in serving him. While lying in this state, the boys attending on him, there was Sankeertan at a neighboring house. Jagadbandhu enjoyed it but he once heaved a sigh and remarked, "What a pity, that sinful thought arises in a particular person even in the midst of Keertan." He would thus lament when occasions arose over the fate of frail creatures. In this state he gave some valuable advice to the boys, "You should be loyal to the Lord, and think and sing of His glory, should move about carefully taking heed of environment. Don't be in the company of others in your walks, for companions are deceptive, even if they are the disciples of the same spiritual guide; the spiritual teacher there is, but not spiritual brother for the latter cannot be trusted, being untrained in the same spirit of resignation as the former. The Lord more than whom there is no higher spiritual teacher is the only and eternal friend. Don't indulge in sensual pleasures, don't be lustful and don't devitalize your blood by falling prey to unholy acts; this precaution will protect your body and pour in inestimable bliss in the long run."
Some day in the Bengali year 1307 (1900 A.D.), he suddenly stopped while dictating pious songs to his friends seated outside his hut. They were then asked from inside to go home. This marks the end of his musical composition.
He shut himself up for over seventeen years in a hut at Goyalchamat that did not let in light or wind sufficiently. It was built at a fine site selected by the Prabhu himself at about a mile to the west of Faridpur by one Beharilal Saha of Pubna who bore the cost. It is a thatched cottage with high floor. Another house has recently been built near it with a cluster of small huts. There is an old tank or bil at one corner, and groves of tall trees here and there. The whole angina instills peacefulness and purity into the heart of the visitor. While at Rambagan, Calcutta, he never disdained to accept food from his most lovely Doma followers even when offered devoutly.
At the angina there is no caste distinction. He accepts food and other offerings from all without regard to caste, creed or rank. He grants all people their pious and humble wishes. The despised and the lowly have always a friend in him. He is not partial to any particular person, sect or race.
HIS BIRTHDAY ANNIVERSARY
The birthday anniversary of Jagadbandhu is a unique institution of its kind. It was started in 1314 B.S. (1907 A.D.) and attracts even now visitors from nearly all parts of Bengal particularly East Bengal. People of all sorts, from the proudest Brahmin to the despised Buna, flock to the celebration, to take part in Sankeertan which lasts for over a week. Parties of Sankeertan come to and stay at the angan at their own cost. Presents of rice, dal and other eatables pour in from all quarters without asking. The younger generation figures prominently in the army of visitors. Women also arrive in large numbers. Some of them organize themselves into groups singing pious songs. It is altogether a godly company on earth for those devoted to the Prabhu, who can happily pass their time during the days of the function in devotional talks, pure and simple, pious songs and Keertan in his proximity. The Keertan songs of the Bagdi followers, called Mahantas of the Prabhu, are worth hearing.
At the time of one of the annual celebrations observed for the last seventeen years, Jagadbandhu was within his cottage. He came out and stayed outside for about five minutes to satisfy those who wanted to catch a glimpse of him. People then rushed to him in madness, calling aloud the names of the Lord. On another occasion some people in their impatience to see him broke open the door of his hut and rushed inside. The Bagdis came in and saved him from the mob run mad to touch his feet.
HIS SEVA OR SERVICE
Once Jagadbandhu passed twelve days together without taking food or drink and became half-dead. His pulse was not beating, and no breath was to be felt. But he got round from this state and cheered the despairing hearts of the friends.
At this incident, some gentleman of the town felt much aggrieved and suspected that something wrong might have happened in the seva, (service) of Jagadbandhu that had made him abstain from taking any food and lie in that condition. Accordingly they organized a committee to look to his comforts. The funds were supplied by contributions from various quarters, and were utilized for the purpose of the service or seva alone. Recently, the committee has been done away with and angan people, called sevaits, have taken responsibility of management entirely upon themselves.
He had been attended to all along since coming to the angan by a band of devoted workers who took delight in his service. They served him inside his hut from time to time with food and drink which he partook of or not, as he pleased. He usually took very little food, which consisted of cooked rice, dal, curry, milk, fruit and the like, and sometimes he did not eat anything at all for long. Among the sevaits of this period were Jaynitai (Devendra Nath Chakravarty B.A. formerly Headmaster of a high school), Krishnadas, the late Badal Biswas, and Atul Champati B.A., a brilliant scholar of the Presidency College, Calcutta.
While he kept inside all the time, Jagadbandhu was a picture of love and joy, his complexion was rosy with a tinge of yellow in it and unusually bright; his physique was tall and well built but soft and lovable. He was shaved from time to time, had no plaited hair, no long beard, no tilak paint on his body, nor did he count beads. His smiling look was cheering to everyone. He has now practically come out of his seclusion for he remains outside for six or seven hours in the day trotting about in the sun or rain in his rickshaw presented by some of his admirers. It is nearly two years since he came out before the public gaze after a few months of illness which he had long before predicted. His appearance then underwent a remarkable change, and it is even now undergoing change from a sedate and motionless look with steadfast gaze cast aloft vacantly, into a human and condescending appearance well suited to mix with common men in the dust of the mortal world. He has now nothing left of the former unusual brightness of his complexion, which has now turned milky with a tinge of rose and yellow.
HIS MYSTERIOUS POWERS
Jagadbandhu had an aversion to showing miracles, which he termed magic and witchcraft. Indeed spiritual masters are not to be judged by these powers particularly in this age; His boy friends were so much steeped in the sweetness of his personality that they too, with all their youthful curiosity did not want miracles from him. Yet some mysterious things they noticed in their dealings with Jagadbandhu. Even if we cite here some of these instances, it is not that we attach importance to miracles but that we wish them to be taken at what they are worth.
Once at dead of night he roused his companions and bade them sing aloud in chorus the glory of the Lord under a tamarind tree. They did as they were told. The divine melody of the holy band rolled up into the sky and vibrated through space. The tree began to wave its branches. A few drops of rain fell. The boys got frightened at this unusual phenomenon and fled to their friend seated at a distance, who told them that they had missed the sight of the spirit of a holy man whom their sankeertan from a certain state of existence to which he was decreed. They were told that had they waited a while longer on the spot they would have met him.
He could know from a distance what his young friends were doing. Instances are not wanting of this. We may quote some from "Bandhu Katha" by Sj. Sureshchandra Chakravarty. Once a bot looked eagerly at a prostitute on his way to the angan. When he arrived, Jagadbandhu smiled and gave him a mild rebuke hinting at the matter.
Once someone resolved to commit suicide. Jagadbandhu somehow came to know of this without being reported to. He forthwith sent a message to the particular person with a letter of consolation, which prevented him from committing the dark deed.
One of the boys that frequented the angan was of a contemplative mood. Jagadbandhu liked him much and called him affectionately and fancifully "three cubits and a quarter". Once the boy looked very sullen while at the angan. Jagadbandhu said - "Three cubits and a quarter has something stinging in his mind which nobody on earth save myself knows." He said, "Don't think of your past, however dark it may have been. This makes the mind darker still. So saying he handed over a slip to him with these words written on it: "Companionship is dreaded for it may degrade one into vice. Friendship should be sought for by everyone guarding against this. The painful recollection of that dark night is nothing more than a dream. The words of your guide are alone substantial." This struck the boy very much as to how Jagadbandhu could come to know all this. He shed tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Then his heart burnt for repentance. He resolved to die. Jagadbandhu could know all this and wrote to him again. This saved him from his dire resolve. He then realized how kind a friend he had in Jagadbandhu, and determined to follow his instructions from this time forth. Jagadbandhu's words carried peculiar force for the individuals for whom they were intended and saved many from dangers and maladies of all sorts.
He could read the past life of whomsoever approached him; he would disclose this or not as he deemed fit. Once he had told a boy all his past deeds; the boy said, as he knew all about him and nothing could remain hidden from his eye, what was the good of calling in his intervention, remembering him, in critical hours? Unasked, he might himself do the needful for he knew all. To this Jagadbandhu replied, "You must invoke his assistance or aid, else he will remain indifferent. He sees all and delights in them, good or bad, whatever you may call them, but does not like to intervene generally unless called in."
HIS MORAL INSTRUCTIONS
Jagadbandhu leads the life of an ideal Brahmachari himself, a perfect model of pure and plain living for all. He is tender and at the same time strict. He is sincere and straightforward in thought and deed and strictly follows what he says and preaches.
Purity of teaching was the thing he emphasized whenever opportunity offered itself before he cut himself off from the outside world. Impurity of any kind, he held, was death and disease. A pure life, according to him, can catch within itself glimpses of the Divine light. He wants everyone to lead a life of Brahmacharya marked by purity in thought and body and regularity of conduct after the Will of the Lord. The routine of work he prescribes includes early rising, bathing, tahal (keertan at dawn) and prayers; there are other similar duties for the rest of the day and night among which keertan, service, meditation and arati keertan at twilight are the chief items. Night is the opportune hour for the sinner. Jagadbandhu prescribes pious songs and meditation specifically for the last quarters of the night. He instructs us to meditate upon God, seated in a lonely place and to always remember Him and invoke Him, to think of Him as a near and dear one, and ask Him to instill into our actions the spirit of His love. Thy name of the Lord has a peculiar charm of its own, which will be felt after we have uttered and sung it for a while in self-forgetful devotion. And said the Prabhu some thirty years back, it is the only way out of the chaos that is to ensue shortly (Harikatha). He told his boy companions on one occasion "You need not observe any vow or penance and need not be anxious for initiation into mantra, the name of the Lord sung in devotion is the sole weapon to combat the forces of Satan with. This royal road runs for all and there is no bar to any one taking to it. The real spiritual guide has to be known by particular signs and marks; the time for the kulaguru (family preceptor) is gone."
General rules of conduct may be gathered roughly from what he said from time to time to this or that person; for his instructions were mostly given with an eye to the individual's requirements and were more or less meant for self-purification. He pointed out to his young friends that dharma was private conscience and nothing more. He would always encourage them to the straight, fearless and independent-minded and to remain satisfied with their own. He asked them to stand on their own legs and to learn how to revere truth, that would give them infinite strength of mind, and enable them to stand all opposition. He would have liked them to have a strong will and confidence in themselves. They should be bold and quick in their decisions and stubbornly try to give effect to what they would say. He would not tolerate idling away one's time for idleness breeds demoralization and sin. He asked them to have kindness for all creatures, to practice forgiveness and to have infinite patience like the grass beneath the foot under pressure of circumstances. They must not fear anyone else except the Lord in carrying out their honest determination. He instructed them on the other hand to be humble and lowly like the dust in the street in serving the will of the Lord and inducing others to follow the path of virtue. He advised them to give up the habits of fault-finding, to give up shows and sloth. He told them not to be cruel, but to be kind to all creatures, man or beast, and to harbor jealousy for none; he would also ask them to be tolerant of the religious views and opinions cherished by others. He would condemn beggary and the practice of cheats who pose as ascetics and try to impose upon credulous people. He told someone to avoid the company of his fellows and even his spiritual brothers. He warned several others of the possible evils of too much liking for others' company. He told one of the boys to give up the habits of wasting life-blood and to shun the female and not to look lustfully at them. He advised another to crop his hair short and to give up pleasurable pursuits. He instructed him to practice asanas (sitting postures) and to sit erect. He asked another not to drink much water, nor to take such food as is not required. His general instruction to the boys was that study was their prime duty for the particular period of their lives. They should not give up studies before graduating, for the ignorant and the foolish could not understand Him or His deeds; the gloom of illiteracy pervades the vision to a certain extent and hinders realization rather than helps it. He recommended study in the daytime or at night as the case might be in solitary places, he would not discourage a certain amount of cramming. For some he prescribed fish diet, for others vegetable food. He was altogether free from any bias or prejudice in this or in other matters. He would forbid this or recommend that only to suit individual needs in self-preparation. He watched always in detail the application and conduct of the boys at school that came in touch with him and would point their defects from time to time when necessary. He would recommend to most of them married life at the end of their student career, for all could not be expected to turn sannyasin.
Here we may note some of his principal instructions rather in desultory fashion; they may involve at places, repetitions of those already mentioned. They cannot be called translations of, but merely the substance of the moral sayings as given in "Bandhu Katha" in Bengali.
"You should fix your gaze on earth while walking."
"Hankering after name or fame would defile you."
"Initiation is now a superfluity."
"Stand on your own legs."
"Be bold in declaring your conviction and don't be half-hearted and hesitating. Diffidence, pride, arrogance and hatred should be shunned for ever."
"Do not be vacant or engaged in mind without remembering Him constantly."
"Prayers, service, contemplation, holy music are the only ways out of sin, and prolong life."
"Talk as little as possible; frivolous talks are to be discarded." "Beware the company which may lead you to vice."
"Do not use articles of dress or bedding used by others. Avoid coming in physical touch with anyone. Do not sit or lie together or eat in the same plate as, or take the food tasted by another."
"This mind is naturally fickle; never give it indulgence. Once let loose it will run amok. Shake off slothfulness then, and preserve your body by gathering vital force and not spending it recklessly."
These were all mostly meant for the youths who frequented Jagadbandhu's genial company sometimes.
Creation is an eternal process which is accompanied by sound and light. The co-called Brahmajyoti and effulgent light with its accompaniment of Pranava or eternal music marks the beginning of creation, an elementary state of this manifestation; of course it is a matter which has immense potentiality. But the effulgence obstructs the vision of the ordinary holy man in his elementary stage, who is led to think of this as the ultimate cause of creation attainable. His prejudiced vision cannot in this way fly high aloft over the plane of substances of light. Near this plane are heard eternal notes like the Pranava, musical sounds, the air of divine melody and harmony pouring in bliss in the heart of the blessed hearer. The aspect of the Eternal known as Paramatma who is taken to be a potential factor in bringing about this mundane existence is the spirit that pervaded the creation, the thing about which the world hangs. Apart from the creation, Paramatma or creator has no significance whatever. He is the particular aspect of the Ultimate Being that holds the creation and is fulfilled in that. He is within it but free from it. The world of being holds because He is in it. This Paramatma for practical purposes and roughly may be said to mark the extreme of this visible creation. He is, though free, regarded as part and parcel of this creation because He can have no significance outside of it. He is, as has been said, only an aspect of the Most High in relation to this material manifestation. There are different Paramatmas or Creative spirits for the different created worlds, Srista Jagats. At the Great Dissolution, Mahapralaya, the worlds go, and along with them the creating and pervading Paramatmas.
So the creation springs with the region of light, the jyoti-plane and is supported on Paramatma, the spirit that created and pervades all; on the other side of this region begins the potential plane which loses itself in the Mayatita, the Home of the Lord, Eternal and Ever-Blessed. In a word, the light-region is roughly the boundary line between creation and non-creation. At the interval between creation an non-creation was and is a formless state, potential we may call it, the state of the Nirakara, (formless) Iswara in which His great will was and also is about to be realized in creation. The Ultimate Being in His native fullness and glory at His eternal and ever-full abode, Nitya-Purna-Dhama, is free from any such tendency towards manifestation; above the creation with its eternal music and light at the bottom as marking its elementary stages together with the much coveted Nirakara or the potential state of the divine force that holds all creation in harmony is the home, of the Lord Sri Krishna, better Sri Hari, who is the embodiment as it were of Purity, Love and Beauty and is complete in Himself and fulfilled in the manifestation, and the manifestation is also fulfilled in Him. In Him we, in this creation, are fulfilled, find the embodiment of what is good triumphing over the evil in us, and we reflect in our virtues his divinity. In fact, He represents in Himself the best harmonized with the worst that is in man, the highest form of the creation, for the good of him. The unfathomable and Most High pleases to adopt this particular shape, a vision of perfection and sets this model form before the world, for man cannot benefit himself in knowing Him in any other shape not within him, in any other way, not his. Man, the highest form of this visible creation, wants his God to present Himself before Him as a near and dear one, in a form representing his virtues, nothing less nor more, materialized as it were, and perfected. Indeed, He wished man to know Him in this way, and His wish prevails. Man need not even try to know Him in any other way and pause to inquire whether anything behind this can exist or not. He may well be satisfied with this model which alone would serve his purpose.
Sri Krishna, the Most High for this world of being, is not attainable through material things or by a material mind. He cannot be known, seen or felt, in a world, realized, so long as there is a touch of Moha or Kama, worldly attachment, liking for a particular person or thing. By this is not meant, however, Prema, affection or love of pure hearts free from selfish desires and motives. He rests above the created beings. He cannot be shown but he can be seen by reaching a certain stage within, acquirable by unmixed devotion, and most easily for mortal men through devoted and pious songs in His praise that are not meant to add to His glory but to uplift ourselves. His name exists in this material world or He exists here in this hallowed name. He can be attained with the help of this alone. The charm of His name serves to shake off this mortal shackle maya and leads us on to the blessed land. This name while sung in self-forgetful devotion and resignation quickens with life, and grants us glimpses of the object of our love and devotion and finally enables us to taste the joys of the home of the ever-sweet and glorious (Purna Madhuryya Dhama). Various planes of existence are allotted to the rishis (saints) after this life, according to their spiritual attainments, the higher ones attain the Mayatita Dhama (the eternal Abode); these higher beings are endowed with miraculous powers and some of them can even destroy or create at will; though as to creation, the general belief is that even avatars cannot create, but they can do anything else they like. However this may be, the higher beings, whether they bodily exist in this world or exist in this world in their shoulders and thus redeems the world from abnormal paths. That can only be done by Sri Krishna, the Lord Most High, coming down in the flesh and blood as Saviour from time to time. Even when He condescends to so some down accepting the sonhood of man, He remains in His native Home above this creation. He is present here bodily and at the same time in His full glory. His Lila on this earth is far from being sensual, however much the perverted and the ignorant alone may try to depict it so; besides Krishna and His playmates were all between eight and ten years old. He is the perfection of purity and love, though in this mortal coil, yet free from the interference of the material, which revolts against the divine purpose, and soils Love by standing in its way. The instinct of love and sympathy, and the sense of beauty are glimpses of the Divine which we cannot realize perfectly for the gross mingling with it is all that flows from the physical and the mental, which we would , roughly speaking, regard as material. The physique that He pleases to adopt, though material, is yet supermaterial and is not like the ordinary body a bar to the highest consciousness and fulfillment in His Lila. We require to forget all abut our bodies and their sensations before we can attain or understand Him; we realize Him in such happy moments alone as wait only for the opportunity to come.
The complexion of Sri Krishna when actually seen under certain conditions of
the mind and body is like that of the light green foliage of the chalita tree
freshly shooting forth, and that of Radha is yellow with a tinge of red like
the sovereign. This can be visualized, as said before, when the mind becomes
free from worldly pleasure and attraction for a person or a thing, and
sensual beauty ceases to have any charm for the eye.
The following may help us in understanding what we have been discussing: -
Sri Hari in the Mayatita Nityadhama (the Eternal Region).
Sri Krishna in the Mayatita Dhama as well as here during Prakat Lila times
(i.e. times of incarnation).
(Potential and Formless)
This in short is the philosophy of Jagadbandhu as understood by myself. Any possible mistakes or inaccuracies in this are entirely mine.
ON CHAITANYA LILA
Jagadbandhu throws a new light on Chaitanya Lila in his book Harikatha. His exposition marks a departure from the accepted theories about the Saktis, powers that played in Chaitanya and his associates in their lofty work. According to him, unlike the traditional way of thinking, the most prominent of Chaitanya's friends were gods and goddesses of heaven who adopted human forms like their Master to taste in themselves Lila-rasa, the sweet juice of the golden fruit of piety, unavailable in their own sphere but easy to enjoy during the Lila on the earth with aid of blessed spirits of Braja, the land of the Ever Sweet who would work in the particular minds at the bidding of the Lord for purposes of Lila. It may be noted here that those past spirits together with saints and workers, as the Prabhu says, have all descended along with Him this time also to help in perhaps the biggest and most mysterious Lila that awaits the world. It is not my present purpose to go into details of the philosophy of Chaitanya Lila interpreted by Jagadbandhu. So I should stop barely noticing the fact.
It may also be noted in this connection that the X.Ch (Tenth Skanda) of the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, according to Jagadbandhu, is alone devoted to Sri Krishna and the rest of it deals with Vasudeva who cannot be identified with Sri Krishna Himself Who combines in him the twofold aspects of the Deity viz, the Divine Sovereignty and the purest sublimity in sweetest perfection and is the most perfect manifestation of the Deity from which spring up all forms of Divine energies and power including even the Avatars - whereas Vasudeva is only a particular manifestation of the same, shining in the singular aspect of sovereignty only lacking in Madhuryya or Sweetness.
AS HE IS NOW
The present state of Prabhu Jagadbandhu cannot be gauged like the silent music of the Himalayas, but it must be felt. He is, as it were, a veritable embodiment of golden piety, a perfect vision of loveliness, condescension, renunciation and ahimsa which has perhaps not its equal on earth. His eyes are not ordinary; they are steadfast, firm and bold, yet the beam with infinite kindness. The most peculiar thing about them is that they are never cast upon this or that person or object, the inner flame guises itself under a mild and lovable exterior. He passed full seventeen years, shut up from the human eye; nobody knows what he did during the time. It was not his way to practice undue penance. He lives on the barest necessaries of life supplies now and then by his admirers; we would not call themo initials or disciples for it was never, never his practice to initiate anybody. Offerings would pour in from unexpected quarters even without the asking. He has all along followed the middle path. He is not like an ordinary sannyasin; he has his bedding just as much as we have and other necessary utensils of wearing clothes; quite of late an apparel is thrown over his body while he is taken outside. Himself motionless, he stirs up all good emotions in the human heart. People serve him of their own accord whether he would ask them or not; there is holy song in his Angan or yard now and then. A band of workers attracted to him from distant places always serve him. They bathe him in the morning after sunrise, seated on a cushion outside the room with pots of water from the Ganges poured on his head amid cheers from the beholders. At this and other times Jagadbandhu behaves like a child, now reproving and then relenting, now grumbling and then smiling. He is served with food three or four times daily. His diet consists of cooked rice, fruits, milk, sweets, etc. He accepts very little of the food, solid or liquid, offered to him. Very often he does not take food at all. He is taken out for airing daily twice or thrice a little before and after midday in the sun or rain in his rickshaw drawn by the followers voluntarily for miles altogether. For sometimes before this the Prabhu was carried during the rains in a barge with keertan songs. As it glided up and down the river near and in the heart of Faridpur, innumerable people, mostly ladies and girls, thronged on both banks with their offerings of flowers, sandal paste, the holy tulasi leaves and sweets. The barge stopped here and there amidst deafening cheers in the name of the Lord, and the Prabhu touched or received the heartful joys of all. During the time he is taken out and at bathing he can be seen by visitors. In the evening as in early dawn there is Arati keertan in which the glory of the past Avatars of Sri Hari, Sri Krishna and Chaitanya Is sung in unison with musical instruments. While keeping inside, Jagadbandhu either lies down or sits up on his bed as he likes, and has not been seen to do anything in particular nor anything in a shape of yoga practices or counting beads like an ordinary monk. When he is taken out, people, male, female and children hailing from all quarters rush in madness to take the dust of his feet. He would of course not talk with or look at any individual person be he a Raja or a big mohanta. He may look, if he condescends at all, at the humble and the lowly. He does not speak as a rule except to indicate his personal wants, which also he does mostly with peculiar gestures, or motions of the hand; besides this, he makes occasional remarks bearing of human affairs at large. We may quote here one of such remarks. On one occasion, some two years ago, he broke silence and remarked, "The society will dissolve; its embankments will give way." In fact, his ways, when observed minutely, though most common and simple, would seem altogether extraordinary and far above those of the generality of sannyasins, not to speak of common men. A living dream in flesh and blood, a model of piety and pure living cannot but affect even the most restless mind through its very silentness, sweet and living glory. A glimpse of this vision on earth, now in its fiftieth year, nay even a touch of it would serve to make the whole world kin.
Every thing went on smoothly at the Prabhu's Angina up till the 17th of Bhadra 1328 B.S. (September 3rd, 1921) on which date while being carried outside he was suddenly let slip through carelessly, and sustained serious injuries with fractures in his thigh-bone. Medical help and quackery were given their chance but with no avail seemingly. "My golden body the tiger carries off", he muttered sometime softly but sweetly. In this condition he would ask everybody whoever approached him in a suppliant mood to be so kind as to lift him out for airing which nobody dared to do then. " I had something to say, which, alas, has to remain unsaid", said he in musical and long drawn accents. Thirteen long tedious days had passed off and Dawn peeped into the 1st of Aswin (the 17th September) under a somber hood and stole a glance eagerly at the retiring Lord of Night, the full-moon robed in saffron silk steeped in the serene and soft luster of Nirvan. A serenely cool figure reposed all the while composedly on the bed, refusing anything offered as bhoga, and as it struck ten minutes past twelve in the noon on the full-moon day about the autumnal equinox when the sun takes a southerly course (signifying reincarnation for the soul that departs at this part of the year) he drew up his fisted right hand to his chest and with his right leg upon his thigh, heaved a heavy sigh, giving out a little foamy bile-like substance rolling down his cheeks. In this way rolled the sacred and the divine body in the dust, like the full-moon rolling, as it were, in the dust, and he, as presaged in his early writings got himself mixed up with the five elements of this sordid dust to breathe purity and quicken life into it till his mission is fulfilled.