In this last part of the Harivaṁśī / Haridāsī-trilogy we will discuss the issue of the authorship of Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi. As with the previous blogs, I want to open with a conciliatory introduction, quoting the late great Gopāl Ghosh of the Vṛndāvana Research Institute:
“(In the 1950s) Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī (12th generation direct descendant from Śrī Advaita Ācārya and pitṛdeva of my Gurudeva) gave wonderful lectures on Vilāpa Kusumāñjali and Rādhārasa Sudhānidhi in the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple for one fortnight. All the Gosvāmīs of the Rādhā-Vallabha temple (who believe that Rādhārasa Sudhānidhi was composed by Hita Harivaṁśa Gosvāmī instead of Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, as is claimed by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas) attended. They all offered their obeisances to Prabhu. About the disputed authorship of Rādhārasa Sudhānidhi Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī told them: “Some person may come to a mango grove and inquire: “How many trees are there, how many fruits are there in them? Who constructed this grove? How are the fruits sold and who is the owner?” while another, who is very tired, will just come and purchase the mangoes, offer them, sit under a tree and say: “Aha, how sweet are these mangoes!” So similarly, Rādhārasa Sudhānidhi is a wonderful book, born by the grace of ‘Śrī Rādhārānī, whoever may have composed it. What matters is the relish of its contents – it is necessary to relish it. We need to become qualified to extract the rasa from this book. Rādhā-dāsya is the goal of our lives and Madangopāl becomes subdued by us if we can meditate on the footsoles of Rādhārānī. Rādhā-dāsya is our only shelter.” Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī said that again and again. His lectures were so amazing that all the Vrajavāsīs exclaimed “Jay Rādhe! Jay Rādhe!” Everyone was stunned and speechless with admiration because of his lectures and they would anoint him with sandalwood-pulp and flower garlands.”
For the analysis of the issue of the authorship of Śrī Rādhā-rasa-sudhānidhi I translated the Bengali introduction to his edition of Rādhā-rasa-sudhānidhi by the late great Śrīmat Anantadās Bābājī –
Apart from the version of Śrī-Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi that has 272 verses, including a beginning and final verse about Śrīman Mahāprabhu, there is a version without these two verses, named ‘Rādhā-Sudhānidhi’ said to be written by Śrī Hita Harivaṁśa Gosvāmī Mahodaya. But from innumerable evidences from Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi and historical tradition it is excellently proven that it was written by Śrī Prabodhānanda Saraswatīpāda. Śrī Prabodhānanda Saraswatīpāda was a great Sanskrit poet while there is no example of any Sanskrit poetry by Śrī Harivaṁśajī. We can only find he wrote two Brajabhāṣā works – ‘Sphuṭa-vāṇī’ (26 or 27 verses) and ‘Chaurāśījī’ (84 verses). One Sanskrit work named Śrī Yamunāṣṭakam is ascribed to him but its authenticity is not established. On the other hand, the vast Sanskrit literature, poetry and commentaries written by Śrī Prabodhānanda Saraswatīpāda are celebrated within the scholarly community and are unanimously accepted by the disciples and followers of Śrī Harivaṁśa. Śrī Harivaṁśa’s follower Śrī Harirāma Vyāsa, who was a contemporary of Śrī Rūpa, Sanātana etc., wrote in one of his poems –
Prabodhānanda se kavi thore
Jina rādhā-ballabh-ki līlā-rasa meṁ sab rasa thore
Keval prem-vilās ās kari, bhava-bandhan dṛḍha bhore
Sahaja mādhurī vacanani ananyani ke cita core
Pāvan rūp nām guṇa ura dhari viṣay vikāra ju more
(Bhakta-kavi Vyāsajī, Hindi p.195, published by Prabhudayāl Mittal, Agarwala Press 2009 Samvat – 1952)
“Prabodhānanda was a great poet who was absorbed in Rādhā-Vallabha’s līlā-rasa. I only hope for prem vilāsa, being firmly bound by saṁsāra. His naturally sweet words steal my mind and heart. The sacred forms, names and qualities (he narrates) (extinguish) my materialistic feelings.”
Writers in Śrī Harivaṁśa’s sampradāya say that Śrī Harivaṁśajī was singing ‘Rādhā Sudhānidhi’ in the cradle as a 6-month old baby in Bād grām village.
(keval chaḥ mās kī hī avasthā ye āpane palane par hae ‘śrī rādhā sudhānidhi’ kā gān kiyā, jise āpke tāṭa śrī nṛsiṁhaśramajī ne lipibaddha kiyā – this can be found on p.30 of the biography which is part of Śrī Hita dāsa’s Hindi introduction to Śrī Rādhā Sudhānidhi (first Edition, Vilāsapura, 1950)
But the author of Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi has described Śrī Vṛndāvana’s beauty in many places in the book, saying that he had darśana of the residents of Vṛndāvana while he was writing the book. He developed a worshipful attitude towards them and he also described in the book that he received encouragement from them to compose the book. This clearly proves that Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi was not a song of a 6-month old baby in the cradle at Bād grām village. This is a stotra kāvya written by a greatly expert poet and scholar of Sanskrit kāvya, darśana and alaṅkāra who lived in Śrī Vṛndāvana and wrote scriptures like Śrī Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta and so. For instance –
sad yogīndra sudṛśya sāndra rasadānandaika san mūrtayaḥ
sarve'py adbhuta sanmahimni madhure vṛndāvane saṅgatāḥ
ye krūrā api pāpino na ca satāṁ sambhāṣya dṛśyāś ca ye
sarvān vastutayā nirīkṣya parama svārādhya buddhir mama
“When I look at even the cruel and sinful persons that meet in Vṛndāvana, the abode full of wonderful glorious sweetness, I consider even them to be most worshipable, although they are normally not fit to be seen or touched by saints. They are actually all good-looking like the true kings of mystics and they have sweet rasika and very blissful forms.” (Verse 264 of Rādha Sudhānidhi). It goes without saying that a 6-month old baby lying in a cradle in Bād-grāma can never say such things.
Evidences found in the books -
The phrase ‘śrī rādhā pada-nakha jyotiḥ’ is very dear to Śrī Saraswatīpāda. Just as he used the phrase ‘śrī rādhā pada-nakha-jyotir udgāt’ in Śrī Caitanya Candrāmṛta (68), similarly in many places in Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi he used words like ‘yasyāḥ sphurjjat pada-nakha maṇi jyotiḥ’ (137) tad padāmbhoja rājan nakha-maṇi vilasaj jyotiḥ (148) and ‘vṛṣabhānujā pada-nakha jyotiḥ’ (269).
In 2 ślokas of Śrī Saraswatīpāda’s ‘Saṅgīta Mādhava’ – ‘gatā dūre gāvo………prāṇi niṣavaḥ’ (4.8) and ‘aho mukhara nūpura……….surata saṅgaro jṛmbhate’ (2.6) the words are identical with the words and moods of the verses ‘gatā dūre gāvo……prāṇi niṣava’ (229) and ‘anaṅga jaya maṅgala ……rati raṇotsavo jṛmbhate’ (225) in Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi. In the same way there is full similarity in mood, words, meter and embellishments between the verses ‘caitanyeti kṛpāmayeti paramodareti’ in Śrī Caitanya Candrāmṛta (67) and the verse ‘śyāmeti sundara vareti manohareti’ (68) of Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi (38) and the verses ‘kṣaṇaṁ hasati roditi kṣaṇam atha kṣaṇaṁ mūrchati’ of Śrī Caitanya Candrāmṛta (134) and ‘kṣaṇaṁ madhura gānataḥ kṣaṇam amanda hindolataḥ’ in Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi (167).
Just as Śrī Saraswatīpāda said ‘dhyāyanto girikandareṣu bahavo brahmānubhūyāsate….ko vā gaura-kṛpāṁ vinādya jagati premonmado nṛtyati’ in Śrī Caitanya Candrāmṛta (98), he revealed a similar matter in the verse brahmanandaika vādāḥ katicana bhagavad-vandanānanda mattāḥ in Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi (148). Just as this proves the two books are written by the same person, similarly the words ‘brahmānubhava’ and ‘brahmānandaika vādī’ also show us what Śrī Saraswatīpāda’s life was like before. Just as Śrī Saraswatīpāda described examples of Śrī Kṛṣṇa doing japa of Śrī Rādhā-nāma in Śrī Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta (15.75) in the verse ‘rādhetyevaṁ japa tad aniśaṁ sārtha saṁsmṛtyananyaḥ’ and in Śrī Rāsa-prabandha (97) with the verse ‘rādhā-rādhety avirata jāpa prāṭati’, and how he also prays for love of that rādhā-nāma, similarly he prays in Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi for a vision of Śrī Kṛṣṇa chanting the holy name of Śrī Rādhā in the verse yaj jāpaḥ sakṛd eva gokula pateḥ…..yan nāmāṅkita mantra jāpana paraḥ prītyā svayaṁ mādhavaḥ śrī kṛṣṇo’pi tad adbhutaṁ sphuratu me rādheti varṇa dvayam. (95)
Authors of the Śrī Rādhā-Vallabhī-sampradāya like Śrī Bhagavat Mudita and Śrī Candralāl Goswāmījī both agree that the verse hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇeti kṛṣṇeti mukhyān…….kadā’bhyasya vṛndāvane syāṁ kṛtārthaḥ from Śrī Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta (17.89) is written by Śrī Prabodhānanda Saraswatīpāda. We can find a completely similar verse in Śrī Rādhā-Rasa-Sudhānidhi (55) ati snehād uccair api ca harināmāni gṛṇataḥ……parānandaṁ vṛndāvanam anucarantaṁ ca dadhato mano me rādhāyāḥ pada mṛdula padme nivasatu. This type of siddhānta is seen among the followers of Śrī Caitanya’s lotus-feet. Śrīmad Rūpa Goswāmīpāda has written in Śrī Ujjvala Nīlamaṇi (Śṛṅgāra-bheda prakaraṇa 46):
mūrcchām āpnuvatī praviśya madhupair gītāṁ kadambāṭavīm
nāma vyāharatā hareḥ priyasakhī vṛndena sandhukṣitā
Here is a description of Śrī Rādhā’s activities just before Her ultimate condition during pūrva-rāga: “After entering the Kadamba-forest She fainted, so Her priya-sakhīs revived Her with (Hare-kṛṣṇa) nāma-kīrtan, which is like an elixir for revival.” In the Śrī Harivaṁśa-sampradāya the separation of the gopīs headed by Śrī Rādhā is not recognized and the hare kṛṣṇa mantra is not accepted as a siddha mantra. Hence it is easily understood that the author of Śrī Vṛndāvana Mahimāmṛta and Śrī Rādhā-rasa Sudhānidhi are the same person, and that he was a follower of Śrī Caitanya’s lotus-feet.