Srila Narottama dasa Thakura Mahasaya has sung: “O Acarya Prabhu (Srinivasa), please bestow your mercy upon me. I pray that I might also have the association of Ramacandra.”
Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja was the disciple of Srinivasa Acarya Prabhu and the very intimate friend of Narottama dasa Thakura. His father was Ciranjiva Sena and mother Sri Sunanda. Ciranjiva was originally an inhabitant of Kumaranagar but after marrying the daughter of Sri Damodara Kavi he moved to Sri Khanda.
“Ciranjiva Sena was a pure devotee very much loved by Narahari Sarkar and the other residents of Sri Khanda. He was extremely learned in all matters and his wife was very chaste and gentle. Her activities were completely transcendental.” [C.C Mad. 11/92]
Sri Mukunda, Narahari, Raghunandana and Ciranjiva, who were all residents of Sri Khanda, were of one mind and one purpose. Every year they would come to Nilacala to have darshan of Mahaprabhu and to chant and dance in front of Lord Jagannatha during Ratha Yatra. Ciranjiva was from a family of physicians. His two jewel-like sons were Ramacandra and Govinda. Later they both became disciples of Acarya Prabhu and came to reside at Teliya Bhudari-gram in Murshidabad.
Ramacandra was very handsome, intelligent and perseverent. His maternal grandfather, Sri Damodara Kaviraja, was a well-known poet who was a worshiper of Krsna’s energy (shakti) and was initiated in this cult. After their father passed away, the two brothers Ramacandra and Govinda came to live with their grandfather, who practiced the Shakta religion. Being influenced by him, both became inclined to worship the various personified forms of maya, Krsna’s external deluding potency.
At this time Ramacandra practiced medicine and was also quite well known as an accomplished poet.
After his marriage, Ramcandra was carried in a palanquin with his new bride to his home at Kumaranagara. As the procession passed Srinivasa Acarya Prabhu’s house at Jajigram, he saw the Acarya seated on the verandah of his house, discussing Krsna-katha with some of his disciples. Simply upon seeing the Acarya he felt a strange new emotion dawn in his heart. It was as though he was seeing a very dear friend after long time of separation. Similarly, Acarya Prabhu, upon seeing Ramacandra seated in the palanquin, immediately inquired from those who were present with him, “Who is that? What is his name? Which varna (caste) he belong to? And where does he reside?” [B.R. 8/530] His associates replied, “He is great scholar of the name Ramacandra. He is very excellent poet as well as a physician and resides at Kumaranagara.”
Hearing this, Acarya Prabhu simply smiled.
Ramacandra Sena, still seated within the palanquin, after seeing Srinivasa Acarya and hearing his sweet voice, became extremely anxious to meet him. After a short time the procession reached the house where much pomp and celebration took place. Everyone was overjoyed to see the new bride, Ratna Mala, and a great din and bustle ensued in welcoming her and her bridegroom into their new home. Ramacandra’s mind however was still back at Jagigram where he had seen that divine personage. With great difficulty he somehow or other passed the day there, but with the fall of night he returned to Gajigram, where he passed the night in the house of one brahman.
With the approach of morning he came to Srinivasa Acarya’s house and fell down at the Acarya’s and fell down at he Acarya’s feet to offer his prostrated obeisances. Srinivasa Acarya Prabhu had similarly been continuously thinking of Ramacandra ever since he’d seen him the day before. Upon seeing Ramacandra again, prostrated before him, he picked him up and embraced him in deep ecstasy. Then he told him, “Birth after birth, you are my most dear friend. In the same way that the Lord caused my meeting with Sri Narottama dasa Thakura at Vrindavana, He has also re-united me with another dear friend.”
Ramacandra stayed with Acarya Prabhu and studied the literature’s of the six Gosvamis under his tutorship. Acarya Prabhu was extremely pleased to see his gentle and polite behavior and his deeply spiritual nature. On the next auspicious day he initiated Ramacandra with Radha-Krsna mantra.
After some time, Ramacandra returned to his house. When the Shaktas saw he had been initiated into Vaishnava religion they became very upset. Ramacandra, however, was undaunted. With tilaka on his body in twelve places and a japa mala in his hand, he sat down in front of them and began to chant the holy names. One day, as Ramacandra was proceeding to his house after having taken his bath, his Shakta neighbours called him.
“Kaviraja, without worshipping Lord Shiva, how is it that you are going home? Your grandfather was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Have you given up Lord Shiva’s worship?”
Ramacandra replied, “Lord Shiva and Brahma are incarnations of two of the material modes created by Sri Krsna. Sri Krsna Himself is the source of all incarnations. Therefore, by worshipping Lord Krsna everyone’s worship is performed, just as by watering the roots of a tree all the leaves and branches become nourished. Prahlad, Dhruva, Vibhisana and others were dear devotees of Sri Krsna. Therefore Lord Shiva and Brahma were naturally favorably disposed to them, whereas Ravana, Kumbakarna, Banasura and other demons were only devotees of Lord Shiva and not devotees of Lord Krsna. Thus their ultimate end was to simply be destroyed.
“The shastras say that Lord Brahma was able to create this world due to having successfully worshipped Sri Visnu. Similarly, Lord Shiva has become qualified to invoke auspiciousness in this world due to having received the foot wash water of Lord Visnu (Ganges) on his head.” Having heard these various statements from the shastras, those scholars remained speechless.
Ramacandra became very anxious to have darsana of Sri Vrindavana and the Gosvamis there. He petitioned Sri Raghunandana and various other Vaishnavas for their permission which they readily gave. Thus on the next day he set out for Sri Vrindavana Dhama. After passing through Gaya, Kasi and Prayaga, he finally arrived at Mathura. There he took bath and some rest at Visramaghat. After taking darsana of the Adi Kesava Temple, he started for Vrindavana.
At this time his guru, Srinivasa Acarya, was present at Vrindavana. Ramacandra offered his prostrated obeisances at the lotus feet of his guru and Sri Jiva Gosvami and conveyed the good news of the devotees from Gaudadesa.
As ordered by Sri Jiva Gosvami, Ramacandra took darshana of Sri Govinda, Sri Gopinatha, Sri Madanamohana and Sri Sanatana Gosvami’s samadhi. Then he offered his respects to Sri Gopala Bhatta, Sri Lokanatha and Sri Bhugarbha Gosvami, who were very pleased with him and who offered him their benediction. Hearing some samples of his great poetic ability, everyone decided to present him with the title ‘Kaviraja.’ [B.R.9/214]
After remaining in the Gosvami’s association for some days, they finally instructed him to return to Gaudadesa. And so he returned, visiting Sri Khanda, Jajigram, Khandaha and Kalna on the way. Finally he came to Sri Mayapura, where he received the blessings of Sri Isana Thakur.
One time, some smarta brahmanas made a conspiracy to defame the name of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura Mahasaya. They were very upset that though he was only a kayastha by caste, he accepted those born in brahmana families as his disciples. They enlisted Raja Narasimha and the conquering pandita Sri Rupanarayana in a crusade to somehow expose Narottama dasa as a fraud. In a large party they made their way to Kheturi, where Srila Narottama had his headquarters.
Coming to know of this conspiracy, Sri Ramacandra and Sri Ganga Narayana Cakravarti came forward to meet their challenge. They journeyed to Kumarapura where they each set up two small shops in the market; one a pan and betel nut shop and the other a store selling clay pots.
When the party of smarta brahmanas arrived at Kumarapura and sent their disciples out to purchase wares for cooking their meals, the students came to those shops. The ‘shopkeepers’ (actually Ramacandra and Ganga Narayana in disguise) spoke to them in Sanskrit and began to raise a philosophical dispute with them. Seeing the profound learning of those two shopkeepers, the students were dumbfounded, but nevertheless took up the challenge. After a short time, however, it became obvious that they were no match for these ‘shopkeepers.’ They called for their gurus, who arrived on the scene with Raja Narasimha and Rupanarayana. Rupanarayana himself was drawn into the debate and was defeated by the Bhagavata-based arguments of Ramacandra and Ganga Narayana.
When the king requested their introduction, those two shop keepers informed him that they were two extremely insignificant disciples of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura Mahasaya. Having met defeat in this village marketplace, Rupanarayana and the smarta brahmanas were no longer interested in proceeding onward to Kheturi. Their crusade evaporated as they all decided to return immediately to their respective homes.
That night, after Raja Narasimha had returned to his house, he had a dream in which Durgadevi told him, “Narasimha! You have committed a great offense at the feet of Narottama dasa Thakura. As a result of this Vaishnav aparadha, I will have to cut you all to pieces with this chopper. If you want to save yourself, then you had better immediately go and take shelter at Narottama dasa Thakura’s lotus feet.”
When his sleep broke the king quickly took his bath and set out for Kheturi. Rupanarayana had a similar dream and was also proceeding towards Kheturi at the same time. They met upon their arrival there and approached the temple of Sri Gauranga in order to meet Narottama Thakura. Thakur Mahasaya was absorbed in his bhajana, but when a disciple informed him of the arrival of the two guests, he came out to meet them. Simply by seeing his transcendental form, imbued with Krsna-prema, the two offenders became purified and fell down to offer their obeisances at Thakura Mahasaya’s feet. Thakura Mahasaya very humbly presented himself as being a fallen soul. Finally he initiated them with Radha-Krsna mantra.
Many sinful atheists were delivered by Sri Ramacandra Kaviraja. He was present at the Kheturi festival. He came to Vrindavana a second time on the order of Srinivasa and Narottama, but this time he couldn’t have darsana of the Gosvamis as they had all departed this world for Goloka Vrindavana. Feeling separation from them, he was very distressed at heart. Unable to tolerate that pain, he joined them in their eternal pastimes there in Vrindavana. In Vraja-lila his name is Karuna-manjari. His disappearance is on the third day of the dark fortnight in the month of Pausa. His principal disciple was Harirama Acarya.
The Deities worshipped by Ramcandra and Govinda Kaviraja have been brought from Jeliya-Bhudargram to Bhagavan Gola where they are at present being worshipped by the followers of Rama dasa Babaji. There is a station at Bhagavan Gola on the Sealdah-Lal Gola rail line.
Note:: Special thanks to Jaya Tirtha Caran prabhu from NZ for allowing us to use some of the content from his site to compile these pages.