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Discussions on the doctrines of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Please place practical questions under the Miscellaneous forum and set this aside for the more theoretical side of it.

Identities of Manjaris - How do we understand them?

Gaurasundara - Thu, 02 Jan 2003 05:07:19 +0530
Dear devotees,

I would like to discuss a topic about manjari identities. This is born out of a discussion that is taking place on Achintya forum, and I asked Madhava to explain some of his statements.

I will post my mail below. Madhava has suggested that I open a discussion thread here so that we may discuss in depth, so I thought it would be a good idea.

Here are relevant extracts from the mail that I wrote to Madhava on Achintya forum:

Madhavaji, you have several times mentioned that Srimati Jahnava-Thakurani is actually Ananga-manjari in her siddha-deha, and you have quoted scriptures from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura to this effect.

I would like to know what sources you use to make this pronouncement?

Because just today, I skimmed over the biography of Srinivas Acharya and thus found some mention of Gopala Bhatta Goswami. This biography mentions that after revealing to Srinivas Acharya his siddha-deha as Mani-manjari, the Goswami “told him that in this eternal spiritual identity, upon which he should now constantly meditate, he will always assist Guna-manjari (Gopal Bhatta himself, who is also known as Ananga-manjari) in her service to Shri Shri Radha and Krishna.” [Steven Rosen, Lives of the Vaishnava Saints, 2002)

I wondered why Gopal Bhatta Goswami would be Guna-manjari in his eternal identity, and yet also known as Ananga-majari. Therefore I consulted my copy of Gaura-gannodesa-dipika and found the following verses:

66. Some say that Srimati Vasudha-devi is the incarnation of Srimati Ananga-manjari, and others say that Srimati Jahnavi-devi is the incarnation of Srimati Ananga-manjari. In truth, both opinions are correct. They are both incarnations of Srimati Ananga-manjari.

184. Ananga-manjari appeared as Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Some say that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was actually the incarnation of Sri Guna-manjari.

So how do we resolve this dichotomy? How do we properly understand that Srimati Vasudha-devi and Srimati Jahnava-devi AND Srila Gopala Bhatta Goswami were incarnations of Ananga-manjari? And if this is correct, then why say that the Goswami is actually Guna-manjari?

Also, you have quoted Bhaktivinoda Thakura to the effect of stating that Vipina-vihari Goswami was none other than Vilasa-manjari. What evidence is there to state that Vilasa-manjari was Vipin-vihari Goswami? In other words, Srila Bhaktivinoda could simply have been addressing Vilas-manjari, but where is it explicitly stated that Vipin-vihari Goswami was Vilas-manjari?

Those are the relevant extracts. Madhava also very kindly enabled me to look at an old posting that he had written on this forum, that could be used to further discuss this topic. Here's the URL:

OK, well that's it. Let's get discussing! laugh.gif

P.S. Please go easy on me. I am new to this forum, and also very new to the teachings of raganuga-bhakti, so kindly give simple and easy-to-understand answers as far as possible. blush.gif
Madhava - Thu, 02 Jan 2003 12:57:04 +0530
I'll first duplicate the bit I wrote in a letter to Vaishnava-das.

Aside Bhaktivinod, the information on Jahnava being Ananga Manjari comes at least from Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika of Kavi Karnapura (as you quoted), Ananga Manjari Samputika of Ramacandra Gosvami (the adopted son of Nitai and Jahnava, initiated disciple of Jahnava's) and Gaura-Govinda Lilamrita Gutika of Siddha Krishna Das Baba of Govardhan. There are certainly other sources as well, but this is what I can identify for now.


You also asked about Bhaktivinoda's addressing Vilasa Manjari. Vipina Vihari Gosvami is identified as Vilasa Manjari in the siddha-pranali description in which Bhaktivinoda initiated his diksita-disciples. You will find Bhaktivinoda's siddha-pranali presented in Shukavak Dasa's "Hindu Encounters with Modernity".

Could someone who has Shukavak's book scan it in and post it here?
Madhava - Fri, 03 Jan 2003 14:26:35 +0530
In the early days of the Caitanya-movement, there was much ongoing discussion and contemplation to reveal the former identities of Mahaprabhu's associates.

Each of the principle eight sakhis appeared in three different forms in Mahaprabhu's pastimes. By the arrangement of the svarupa-shakti, a parshada of the Lord can be present in many forms at once. Outside the Gaura/Vraja-lila, an example is Arjuna, who is present in the pastimes of Sri Krishna as himself, Arjuna, and he is simultaneously present with the Lord as Nara and Narayana Rishis in Badarikashram (Bhagavata 4.1.59), and additionally he resides at Satyaloka with Duryodhana as Svetaja and Raktaja, engaged in a battle to entertain the gods (Mahabharata).

The pastimes of the Lord take place under the auspices of His inconceivable svarupa-shakti, and His associates consist of nothing else but this very same internal energy. Hence one parshada can be present in many places at once, just as the Lord Himself can.

The question remains: How can an individual devotee be said to have multiple identities?

Sometimes many parshadas are said to take shelter of one devotee. For instance, Sanatana Gosvami serves in Vraja as Lavanga-manjari, but Sanatana Kumara is also present within him. Sometimes the qualities of a particular perfected individual are perceived in a devotee, and it is said that this individual "manifests" in the devotee. This is understood.

However, it appears that on some instances, there was disagreement over the identities of Mahaprabhu's associates. I am quoting verse 172 of Kavi Karnapura's Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika as an example:

vraje nAndImukhI yAsIt sAdya sAraGga-ThakkuraH |
prahlAdo manyate kaizcin mat-pitrA na sa manyate ||172||

"She who was Nandimukhi in Vraja appeared as Saranga Thakura. Some were of the opinion that he was Prahlada, but my father did not agree."

It is thus evident that aside the aforementioned explanations, there are clearly differing opinions in the Gaudiya samaja. One thing we need to understand is that the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition has never been a unified school of thought where everyone would have agreed with each other. Mahaprabhu displayed His varying pastimes in Navadvipa and in Puri, and in accordance with what His devotees experienced of Him, they broadcast the conception.

The famous meeting at Kheturi, presided over by Jahnava Mata, aside being a blissful meeting of the broad Vaishnava samaja, was an attempt to unify the tradition. However, many of the prominent associates of Mahaprabhu, such as Nityananda, Advaita and Gadadhara, had initiated their own parivars (lineages) some decades back, and by this time, they had already evolved to a somewhat established traditions. Consequently there are, and there will always be varying conceptions among the samaja.

What will the Lord do? As people approach Him, so He is bound to reciprocate. In accordance with your longing at the time of sadhana, you will attain a particular kind of siddhi. How astonishing it is that there is no one Absolute Truth for everyone, but rather the Absolute Truth alone knows His own nature, while reciprocating with His manifestations in infinite ways.

Now, having read what I just wrote, I'll not call it an "answer". Let us rather say "preliminary reflections", waiting for others to contribute.