Bilvamangala Thakura

 

        Although born in a South Indian brahmana family, Sri Bilvamangala Thakura fell down with a prostitute named Cintamani, who ultimately satisfied his deepest desire. He became attached and rabid with lust. Even immediately after performing the sraddha rituals for his deceased father he ran to enjoy her. A raging storm and tossing waves could not deter him. In lustful delusion, he held a corpse to cross a turbulent river. Finding the gate locked, he scaled the wall by grabbing a cobra, which he foolishly saw as a rope.

        Seeing Bilvamangala soaking wet, burning with desire, totally exhausted, Cintamani advised him, "You're so much attached to this lowly bag of flesh and bones. Better you become attached to serving the blissful Lord Govinda. Go to Vrndavana and there you will find complete satisfaction and eternal happiness."

        On the way to Vrndavana Bilvamangala's material desires seized him. He lusted after a brahmana's wife. Ashamed of his polluted desires, he gouged out his eyes with the lady's hairpin. Blind Bilvamangala was determined not to be distracted from the spiritual path by any material object.

        Receiving diksa from Somagiri, he got the name Lilasuka for his expertise in describing the madburya lila of Radha and Krish­na. He felt so much ecstasy from singing about Govinda's pastimes and playing his vina that millions of sense objects became insig­nificant.

        In Vrndavana, Sri Krishna would personally give Bilvamangala prasadam and lead him to a safe resting place. At first Lilasuka didn't know the identity of this sweet Vrajavasi boy. Then one day Bihari Lal played his captivating flute for the blind man. Suddenly, Bilvamangala became mad with desire to behold the beautiful sweet form of Syamasundara. Realizing that this "Vrajavasi boy" was actually the Lord of his life and the love of his heart, he reached out to touch Krishna. Playful Gopala touched Bilvamangala's hand, laughed lovingly, and ran away. Sighing, Bilvamangala said, "You can run away from my hand, but You can never leave my heart."

        Lilasuka wrote many verses and songs full of Krishna prema. Krishna-karnamrta, his most famous work, was one of the first authentic books to reveal the supreme position of Srimati Rad-harani in Sri Krishna's Vrndavana madhurya lila. The later writings of the six Gosvamis, Ramananda Raya, Prabodhananda Sarasvati, Krishna Dasa Kaviraja, Visvanatha Cakravarti, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura expanded this idea. They developed the concept of ex­clusively serving and worshiping Srimati Radharani—the Queen of Vrndavana and the supreme controller of even Krishna Himself.

        Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda writes in Saranagat'r. "By serving the lotus feet of Sri Radha, the daughter of Vrsabhanu, I will become a maidservant of one of the gopis in Vraja. I will always try to bring happiness to Sri Radha. Within my heart, I know that Radha's pleasure is Krishna's source of joy. Therefore, I never desire to abandon Radha's lotus feet for Krishna's solitary com­pany. The sakhis are my best friends and teachers about the love uniting Radha and Krishna. As one of their maidservants, I will serve Radha's lotus feet, which fulfill all desires. I myself am partial. I always support Radhika. There may be some who live apart from Her. Let them live as they prefer. But I will always remain fixed at the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani."

        Krishna-karnamrta is an extremely exalted scripture meant for the most advanced devotees. But the most merciful Krishna Dasa Kaviraja wrote Sarangarangada. This commentary helps devotees savor the sublime nectar of Krishna-karnamrta. Simply by reading it one will become attracted to Radha-Govinda's Vraja lila. His samadhi is in Gopinatha Bazaar.

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