The festival of Sree Radha-Madanamohana

The festival of Sree Radha-Madanamohana

The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
August 1930

The question has been asked why it is necessary to have a shrine made of brick and mortar for the worship of God. The shrine has been supposed to be at best only a kind of temporary aid for a primitive form of worship to a person of undeveloped mentality. As such a person is supposed to understand nothing as true but gross matter he is considered to be naturally inclined to the worship of enshrined idols. To most people with ‘ordinary’ culture such ‘foreign’ help has often seemed to be not only not necessary but positively and rightly repugnant. The formal entry into a shrine containing the holy Forms of the Divine Pair would appear to such thinkers to be an unjustifiable concession to people with a particularly dense judgement who should be an extinct race in the quondam Metropolis of British India in this twentieth century after Christ. The function may thus be opined to be lacking even in the excuse of being a foolish, unavoidable surrender to the thoughtless demos.

It is the contention of the organisers that the ceremony of entry into the spiritual Abode of the Divine Pair worshipped by the Gaudiyas is absolutely necessary for the reason that it alone can remove the spiritual ignorance of all the people of this world by imparting to them the knowledge of their relationship with the Divinity.

It is not possible to have any duty towards Godhead without any knowledge of the nature of one’s relationship to Him. It is possible for every one of us to have this knowledge which a mortal does not ordinarily possess. The knowledge of man is confined to this phenomenal world. If a human being wants to define Godhead by means of his present knowledge such definition will necessarily make God a commodity of this phenomenal world in his estimation. Such a person is bound to suppose further that God is both impersonal and inanimate. Because if God really exists like any other object of this world and also possesses animation and rationality it should be possible to find Him out and to hold communion with Him on our own terms, which has not yet been possible for at least the vast majority of the cultured people.

There is of course a small number of persons who suppose that it is possible to find God as an animate person and to have actual dealings with Him. These persons also declare that it is possible for all to know and have such dealings with Godhead. Various elaborate methods have been put forward by these ‘sects’ for helping one to attain the vision and relationship of Godhead. But inspite of these definite ‘assurance’ and ‘realisations’ no particular ‘Prophet’ or ‘Doctrine’ has yet received unanimous or even general recognition either of the masses or of the intelligensia of the world.

But it has been possible to arrive at a consensus of opinions in other departments of knowledge. In the sphere of ‘religion’ alone extreme differences of ‘opinion’ have hitherto proved to be ineradicable. In other words knowledge of spiritual matters has not progressed to the stage that has been actually attained in the case of knowledge regarding all other subjects. How are we to account for this?

The very first thing that has to be done if the real truth is to be discovered and propagated, is to try first of all to understand the nature of the issue itself. This should be the only starting point in the journey towards the Truth.

What is Godhead? Why should we concern ourselves about Godhead? These are the questions that naturally confront one on the threshold of theistic life. We should not enter the shrine unless and until we are convinced of the necessity of worshipping the God within.

The ordinary answer that you will see the idol and be enabled to worship it after you enter the temple should be rejected at once as unsatisfactory. One is clamorously pressed to enter a variety of temples with different idols and worships. How is he to select from among them the one object of his worship without the requisite preliminary knowledge?

The contention that knowledge follows practice is not also any solution of the difficulty. The questions disturbing a person who seeks entry into the temple are, ‘What is Godhead? Why am I to worship Him at all? Why should it be impossible for any person who knows these matters to convey a correct idea of them to an honest enquirer? The idea of a thing is not, of course, identical with the thing itself. But the idea should be of help in inducing a person to decide about the necessity of worshipping at a particular shrine.’

Knowledge of some sort regarding the nature of Godhead, the nature of His worship, and the nature of His worshipper, viz. the enquirer himself, must precede the rational acceptance of any form of worship. The worship of a rational being can only be an intelligible attempt to ‘realise’ some kind of antecedent symbolic or ideal knowledge. This preliminary knowledge of practicable relationship with God is the proper motive behind all actual rational attempt to realise such relationship. But the preliminary knowledge is not the relationship itself. There must also be an ‘object’ for cultivating such relationship. This ‘object’ again is different from both the symbolic knowledge as well as the process of relationship.

Therefore this precedent ‘knowledge’ of the nature of Godhead need not be supposed to be identical with the ‘object’ attainable by ‘worship’. On the contrary the ‘object’ of ‘worship’ can only be realisable by means of ‘worship’ based upon a correct symbolical knowledge of the nature of the Worshipped as possessing the power and inclination to bestow on His worshipper the grace of His service which should be naturally desirable to the latter for its own sake.

The worship of the Divine Pair Sri Sri Radha-Madanamohana is the worship of the followers of Sri Chaitanyadeva or the Gaudiya Vaishnavas belonging to the Madhwa community. The worship of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda by the other communities is a derivative of the worship of the Gaudiyas and also essentially different from the latter in spite of much superficial resemblance.

In order to worship Sri Sri Radha Madanamohana it is first of all necessary to obtain the preliminary knowledge of the nature of such worship. This is the ‘knowledge of relationship’. The acquisition of this knowledge is the first step in spiritual endeavour (sadhana). Sri Sanatan Goswami Prabhu was authorised by Sri Chaitanyadeva to impart this preliminary ‘knowledge of relationship’ to His followers. Sri Sanatan Goswami Prabhu is the sole Acharyya of this process which is called initiation into the knowledge of the Divinity. By the attainment of this knowledge of relationship one is enabled to enter into the spiritual Abode of the Divine Pair or the Gaudiya Math.

The servitors, their service, the holy Forms of the Divine Pair installed in their spiritual Abode collectively form the category of ‘the Worshipped.’ There is an ‘inner’ and an ‘outer’ body of worshippers of Godhead. The ‘inner’ servitors are a part and parcel of the Divinity Himself. The ‘inner’ servitors ‘call’ the ‘outer’ servitors to participate in their eternal service of the Divine Pair in the transcendental Realm of Goloka. The Gaudiya Math is the holy Abode of Godhead and of His eternal servants made manifest to the vision of the people of this world by the grace of the Acharyya of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas who is the spiritual successor of Sri Rupa and Sanatan Goswami Prabhus, the eternal Divinely appointed teachers, by their conduct and precept, of the loving service of the Divine Pair Sri Sri Radha-Govinda in the eternal transcendental realm of Goloka. Sri Rupa Goswami is the original practising teacher (Acharyya) of the function of spiritual service constituting the ‘worship’ of the Divine Pair. The ‘object’ of spiritual service is the attainment of love to the Feet of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda for the sake of such love.

The Name of the Divine Couple worshipped by Sri Sanatan Goswami Prabhu is Sri Sri Radha-Madanamohana. Sri Radhika is the Divine Counter-whole of Sri Madanamohana. Sri Radhika reciprocates the love of Sri Madanamohana. She is the Mistress and Sweetheart of Her amorous and sole Divine Lover. The Name Madanamohana indicates that the Lover of Sri Radhika is different from, and yet symbolically similar to, the God of mundane amour. Sri Sri Madana-mohana is far more lovely than the supposed lovely God of mundane amour in as much as the latter is liable to be subdued and bewitched by the real and eternally enduring superior charm of the Divine Lover of Sri Radhika. There is only analogical resemblance, differing even in analogy both in degree and quality, between the highest conceivable mundane amour and the transcendental amour of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda. But there is also a categorical difference between the two. The preliminary knowledge of this cannot be available to the dissociable individual soul except by the grace of Sri Sanatan Goswami Prabhu manifested through the eternal chain of spiritual teachers represented to us at this moment by the present Acharyya of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas—His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj.

His Divine Grace has named the function of the entry into the new Temple and residential quarters of the Gaudiya Math, which is to take place on the 5th of October, as the Festival of Sri Sri Radha-Madanamohanaji.

The members of the Viswa-Vaishnava Raj Sabha have been commanded by His Divine Grace to invite all persons to receive the preliminary knowledge of spiritual service by joining the All-Vaishnava Conference which is to assemble in the Hall of the Gaudiya Math on the day of the Festival of Sri Sri Radha-Govindaji, in order to learn from the holy lips of His Divine Grace and other speakers enlightened by Him, in a symbolically intelligible form, the nature of the worship of the Divine Pair. Those fortunate persons who really seek the Absolute Truth should be enabled thereby to receive the preliminary knowledge of the Truth by the grace of the Acharyya. The members of the Viswa-Vaishnava-Raj-Sabha accordingly invite one and all to avail of this opportunity for obtaining the working knowledge of the Truth by the grace of the Acharyya and Sri Chaitanyadeva. It is only by Means of such knowledge that the Truth figured to our limited vision by the present, by us undecipherable, symbols of the Shrine of the Gaudiya Math, the holy Forms and their Worship by the pure Devotees of the Math, may be truly realised.