Notes from Sri Advait Das' Diary
The following anthology of quotes from and about Babaji are from my Indian diaries from 1982 onwards. I regard it as a great honor to have translated nearly all of his – originally Bengali – books into English, his books and pāṭhs are perfect.
In the 1990s Shri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj wrote me many letters to help me translate and answer other questions on rāgānugā bhakti and rādhā-dāsya as well.
Shri Ananta Das Babaji’s relationship with his Guru Kunja Bihari dasji was intense. Kunjabihari dasji need not be informed of his disciple’s arrival in Radhakund in advance – he got such a strong intuitive feeling that he walked to the bus stop of Radha Kund to wait for him. Ananta dasji indeed stepped out of the bus and Kunja Bihari dasji embraced him.
Shri Ananta Dās Panditji had begun to give pāṭha (devotional lectures) in Radhakund’s Govindajī Mandir, and the Vaishnavas wanted to hear Vilāpa-kusumāñjali from him. Krishna Dās Madrasi Bābā told Panditji that a Goswami in Vrindavan had the notes of my Gurudeva’s father, Shrila Ānanda Gopāl Gosvāmī’s lectures on Vilāpa-kusumāñjali.
A śrutidhara (Nivāran Bābu) had noted it down, but he passed away and now it was in the hands of the Gosvāmī. Panditji went to Vṛndāvana and told the Gosvāmī that he was serving the Vaishnavas at Radhakund (with pāṭh) and hence he wanted to have the notes. Gosvāmījī declined, afraid it would be broadcast, but since he came from Radhakund and was a Vaishnava he could look at it and read it.
Panditji said: “I don’t have the memory of the ṛṣi yuga (previous age when all could be learned from a single hearing or reading)”, so he read it but could not remember all of it. When he returned to Radhakund, Krishna Dās Madrasi Bābā asked him what happened and Panditji said: “He will not give it.” Krishna Dās Bābā laughed and said: “You see, it is with me—if you like I can read it to you, but it is written in Malayalam script.” The script is Malayalam, but the language is Bengali, so there was no problem for Panditji to understand it when Krishna Dās Bābā read it to him.
Ananta Dās Panditji used to give pāṭha at that time in Govindajī Mandira from 2.30 to 3.30 p.m. Then he would take a little rest and at 4 he would come to Krishna Dās Bābā and write down what he dictated. The final page was torn out by a monkey but was somehow rewritten.
Krishna Dās Madrasi Baba himself said of it (in a letter to me dated May 18, 1997): “Our Mahant (Ananta Das Babaji) Maharaj heard these notes at Shri Vrindavan, but could not get them, so with a broken heart he returned here (to Shri Radhakund), where this humble self informed him that the same notes are here. When they were given to him there was a complete change in his hari kathā. Then he wrote commentaries first on Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi and then on Shri Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, Shri Stavāvalī and Stavamālā.”
Some anecdotes from my diary –
October, 1982, first meeting
Jagadananda takes me to Jai Singh Ghera for lectures of Ananta Dās Pandit—”In this way you can both learn Bengali and hear the great pāṭhas of this great Vaishnava.” Ananta Das Panditji has clearly the status of a leading Vaishnava, although he lectures in a simple hall on a simple Vyasasan. He is corpulent and wears glasses, and has clear leadership charisma. When we walk from Jai Singh Ghera to Keshi Ghat, he happens to walk in front of us. I see that he is also a Babaji. He wears a bahirvāsa. He has an elegant step like a swan, a real sādhu. I am impressed by him.
Ananta Dasji gives pāṭha in Jaisingh Ghera. He lectures on Vilāpa-kusumāñjali, the dressing-sevā, verses 18-44. Panditji depicts the Rāsa līlā: ek dike kalāvati o ār dike kalānidhi. “On one side the artistic Rādhikā and on the other the ocean (or jewel) of arts Shri Krishna.”
October 18, 1983
When I arrive in Radha Kund for my first extensive stay for Karttik, Ananta Das Panditji is just giving pāṭha about Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi in the kirtan hall east of the Kund [this was much smaller in 1983 than it is now]. It is so beautiful and real! With great difficulty I find a place near the entry. I see Jagadananda sitting in the back. After pāṭha Jagadananda blissfully exclaims: “He (Ananta Das Panditji) is an avatāra!” I totally agree with him.
Ananta Dasji also gave Dāma-bandhana (chapter 9 of the 10th Canto of the Bhāgavata, the story of Dāmodara Krishna bound by the love of His mother Yaśodā) pāṭha in the Radha Raman Mandir that Karttik month, which I also attended.
August 24, 1984
After Ekadashi I go again to Radha Kund and yes, this time Krishna Das Baba says I can start translating and living with him! Now the time is ripe to live at Radha Kund. After my arrival there is no time for idle chatter, though. Ananta Das Panditji gives pāṭha in the Gopinath Mandir, right opposite Krishna Das Baba’s place. Krishna Das Baba drags me over there just as I arrive, without asking me anything. A great beginning. Krishna Das Baba sits in front, between the senior Vaishnavas of Radha Kund, and places his cassette recorder before Panditji to record the lecture. Afterwards he says: “Even if you don’t know Bengali you must still come and listen, just to get purified by the sound of the class and the presence of the Vaishnavas.”
Ananta Dāsji asks me to translate his book “Rasa Darśana (the philosophy of taste)” into English. I give it up after a few pages, it’s too complicated for me.
October 6, 1984
Niyama Sevā begins. One month non-stop at Radha Kund. Ananta Das Panditji gives pāṭha three times a day. At midday in the Gopinath Mandir [no longer in the small building on the east bank of Radha Kund, which had became too small], in the evening dāma bandhana līlā in Krishna Das Baba’s Radha Raman mandir and late in the evening Shrila Narottam Das Ṭhakur Mahashay’s ‘Prema-bhakti-candrikā’ in the Dharmshala.
One day, Madrasi Baba and I go to Ananta Das Panditji in Vrajananda Ghera, as we do more often, to consult him on Caitanya Bhāgavata. I make some remark about certain devotees being so offensive towards Babajis and Goswamis, but Ananta Das Panditji says nothing. He does not join in such critique and I feel embarrassed by the short and painful silence that follows.
In the afternoon I go with Dharmavīr and Rohiṇi Bābu to Ananta Das Panditji’s pāṭha on the Bhramar Gīta – song of the bee – in honour of the first anniversary of the expiry of Nṛsiṁha Ballabh Gosvāmi in his house in Taṭīya Sthāna. During the pāṭha a prominent mahātmā enters, offering flowers to Nṛsiṁha Ballabh Gosvāmī’s samādhi and talking through the pāṭha, not realising because of his old age that he disturbs. Panditji continues undisturbed.
August 27, 1986
Shri Krishna Janmashtami. Ananta Das Panditji now really closes off his lecture series with a special Janmashtami pāṭha. Though Janmashtami is not the most rasika festival, Panditji still makes it rasika by reading the first verses of the birth story from the Bhāgavata (Canto 10, chapter 3), how the lotus flowers blossomed, the bees buzzed and the birds sang, and how the breeze over the Yamuna carried a sweet scent. He can get rasa out of anything.
September, 1986, Barsana
Gopiballabh tells me that the Rādhā Ramaṇa Banyātrā has arrived, headed by Ananta Das Panditji and Purushottama Goswami. We check them out just outside of Barsana, near the College. They have a big encampment and tent where Panditji sits on a Vyasasan. He speaks in Hindi about the meaning of the different līlā-sthalis. He names the eight līlā-sthalis of Dauji Mahārāja as Dauji, Rāla, Chaṭīkarā, Bhadravan, Āḍiṅ, and Narī Semarī. Deha Kund is a small lake where Panditji holds a short speech. I am spacing out somewhat and when I turn around I face Panditji close up; smilingly he tells me in Hindi: “If you bathe here you get a gopī-deha!”
February 10, 1991
I go to see Panditjī Ananta Das in Gokulānanda Gherā. Panditji sits writing behind his desk as we bow down to him. I hand him a copy of my English translation of Vilāpa-kusumāñjali. He leafs through it attentively (although to my knowledge he doesn’t know English) and then returns it to me with a smile, saying: “এই কাজ আপনারই উপকার হইবে !” You will be the one who has most benefit from this!” You can interpret that in two ways: “The translation work is so intense that no one but the translator can go so deep into the text”, or: “Nobody in your countries will be interested in this topic except you.”
February 16, 1991
Keshi Ghat, Vrindavan. Ananta Das Panditji gives pāṭha on Vilāpa-kusumāñjali verse 12. He explains that Radharani is the icchā-śakti and hence the origin of creation, and thus the hlādinī-śakti is the foundation of the world.
February 20, 2000
I returned to India after a 9-year absence. In the evening we go for darśana of Ananta Das Panditji. He sits on a chair in front of a small corona of Western disciples and greets me very heartily. We speak in Bengali; a wonderful exchange of praises starts. Panditji is surprised to hear me speaking Bengali so fluently (much better actually than in the ’80s), and asks me আপনার দেশে কত বাঙ্গালী লোক আছে? (“How many Bengali people are living in your country?”) কেহ নাই (“Nobody”), I reply. I then return the compliment by saying that Jagadananda told me that I should learn Bengali by going to the lectures of one Ananta Das Panditji. To this Ananta Das Panditji says: “There are two foreigners who know Bengali — Jagadananda and Advaita. Jagadananda used to attend my pāṭhas with a khātā (notebook).”
Ananta Das Panditji asks me what changes I noticed in these nine years. I say this and that and then I say: আগে থেকে অনেক বেশি বিদেশী লোক আছে , দ্বিগুণ বা ত্রিগুণ (“There are twice or thrice as many foreigners here than before”) He then says: “That is because of you.” He then compares rāgānugā bhakti with the stream of the Ganges, and I say that he has brought this stream down to earth — I am only carrying it. He then replies by saying: “Bhagirathi told Shiva that only he was able to carry the Ganga stream on his head. That is why you wear the jaṭās.”
He then requests me to translate Mādhurya-kādambinī. I object: ভাষা ত কঠিন The language is difficult. He assures me: “Radharani will help you.”
February 22, 2000
Ananta Das Panditji starts 7 days of pāṭha about the single verse 26 of Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi. The first item of the verse deals with the phenomenon of lāvaṇya. Everything that is touched by black also becomes black; there is only one exception and that is the complexion of Rādhā, which remains golden, even if Krishna, with His black complexion, assumes it. During Rādhā-Krishna’s kuṇḍa milana (at midday, as is described in Govinda Līlāmṛta, chapter 8), They do not recognize Each other, out of extreme navatā, the feeling of novelty which arises from anurāga. It is the limit of anurāga.
February 23, 2000
We are invited for prasad by Ananta Das Panditji. He tells us we should stay at Radha Kund, because my guru vaṁśa was totally dedicated to Radharani. আনন্দ গোপাল গোস্বামী রাধারাণী ছাড়া কিছু জানিতেন না তাহার পুত্রও তেমনই (“Ānanda Gopāla Gosvāmī did not know anyone else but Radharani. The same goes for his sons.”)
In his pāṭha he says “The word kudeha (in Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi 60) means ‘bodily consciousness’, and nirmalaḥ means manjarī svarūpāveśa. He also tells that Krishna bathes in the Yamuna further (downstream) than Radharani, so that he can be touched by the waves that she makes.
February 25, 2000
Ananta Das Panditji says that Anaṅga Manjarī is a sakhī, not a manjarī. She is only a manjarī by name, due to her tender age. She is after all situated in the middle of Radha Kund.
March 4, 2000
I ask Ananta Das Panditji if it is not an aparādha that my books are being copied, since they are so intimate, and he says: “No, that is not your fault”, but he reminds me that he told me (in 1996) that I should not translate such intimate books. He finds it better if I translate Mādhurya-kādambinī.
Panditji says that his Gurudeva said that everyone must pay for the books, otherwise they will throw them away or disrespect them. If I suggest that unqualified people will read these books he says: “Why should they be unqualified? They come from so far, spend so much money to come here and tolerate all these hardships here, fasting and so on.”
November 5, 2000
I consult Anantadas Panditji on Mādhurya-kādambinī. Anurādhā tells me that Anantadas Panditji also humbly offered his obeisances when I bowed down to him. Anantadas Panditji says that the three kinds of faith, sattva-raja-tama, are all laukika śraddhā. smaraṇa, dhyāna and dhāraṇā take place in sādhana bhakti stara, dhruvānusmṛtiin bhāva bhakti stara and samādhi in prema bhakti stara.
When bhāva stara is attained, ruci also increases. rati bhajana means those who worship in nāyikā bhāva, embraced and kissed by the Lord. Mahāprabhu gave due regards to Nṛsiṁha, as He did to all deities in Their temples when He wandered in South India. All Viṣṇu-mūrtis are respectable for us, but They are not our dhyāna dhāraṇā upāsyas.
February 22, 2001
Ananta Das Panditji had a bad accident; one of his eyes is stitched after he fell onto his own spectacles. I tell him I wonder who will read Mādhurya-kādambinī, but he says it will be read by those who are seriously investigating.
March 1, 2001
Dinahari tells me he asked his Guru Ananta Das Panditji if the exiled deities in Rājasthān are the originals and the ones in Vraja pratibhūs. Ananta Das Panditji replied: “No, the ones here are the originals.’
March 12, 2001
I ask Ananta Das Panditji about Shrila Ānanda Gopāla Gosvāmī’s statement in Vilāpa-kusumāñjali purport of verse 75 “আমি রাধাদাসী” ইহা চিন্তা করিয়া আনিতে হয় না | আমাদের চিন্তা করিয়া “রাধাদাসী” এইভাবে আনিতে হয় | Panditji explains that the awareness of ‘I am Radha’s maidservant’ is natural to the jāta-rati bhaktas; they need not deliberately think like that. But the ajāta-rati sādhakas must train their minds in thinking like this.
November 4, 2001
Like Mathura Prasad last year, Ananta Das Panditji says, according to Acyutānanda, that a midnight bath is not necessary on Bahulāṣṭamī. One who is born at 1 a.m. does not celebrate his birthday at that time but in the daytime. The śloka also does not mention midnight. kārtike bahulāṣṭamyāṁ tatra snatvā hareḥ priyaḥ.
November 14, 2001
Dīpāvalī. Ananta Das Panditji lights dīpas for a boat to be floated on the kuṇḍa and lights some fireworks like the ālāt cakra (firebrand).
November 28, 2001
I ask Ananta Das Panditjiji whether the three adhikārīs described in C.C. Madhya 22.64-67 are vaidhi or rāgānugā bhakti adhikārīs, since Rūpa Gosvāmī says that rāgānuga bhakti is not prompted by śāstra and yukti. He says they are both, because although rāgānugā bhakti is not prompted by śāstra, it is also based on it.
The madhyama adhikārī understands the philosophy himself but cannot explain it, the uttama adhikārī can explain it. When I ask him about the following 4 verses, 68-71, what is the difference between them and the other three adhikārīs, since now the division is considered according to rati and prema, Panditji says that the first three are classified according to faith and the other three (Ś.B. 11.2.45-47) according to advancement in bhakti – rati and prema.
Even the madhyama adhikārī has rati, but not the prākṛta bhakta. mati for Kṛsṇa is also called ratyaṅkura. The uttama bhakta has prema.” Then I ask him about the difference between mātsarya and vidveṣa in the guru (Bhakti Sandarbha 238). He says: ‘mātsarya means being unable to tolerate another bhakta’s superiority. nirmatsarānāṁ satāṁ. He commits aparādha but also has bhakti. There will be a delay in prema.”
February 25, 2002
Nityānanda Trayodaśī. Ananta dāsji tells me that these short trips and all the trouble are just there to increase my eagerness and save me from aparādha.
February 26, 2002
On Kunja Bihārī Dasji’s maps is written that Radharani takes 24 minutes to walk between Nandīśvara, Vṛṣabhānupura, Radha Kund and Vrindavan. Ananta Das Panditji says it takes Candrāvalī longer – in this way she never reaches Krishna in time.
October 31, 2002
Ananta Das Panditji’s classes are still increasing in popularity – in 1984 the Bhagavat Bhavan on the shore of the Kunda became too small, so he moved to the Gopīnātha Mandir, then in 1995 this was again too small, so he had his own pāṭha-bāṛi built, and now, in 2002, this is again too small! If you come too late there is simply no more space to sit. More than 1,000 persons attend. People sit on the staircases!
October 31, 2004
Ananta Das Panditji says in his Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi pāṭha that sa no dharmī (Govinda Līlāmṛta 8.112) means that śṛngāra rasa is a dharma, but Krishna Himself is the dharmī or source or embodiment of that rasa, and he quotes Gīta Govinda’s śṛṅgāra-rasa-mūrtimān as evidence.
Note: The original blog post is available here