Sri Visvarupa Mahotsava

By Jaya Vijaya das, 12.5 2015

Sri Visvarupa Mahotsava is observed on September 8th. On this day, Lord Caitanya's older brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, and on the same date 450 years later, Srila Prabhupada also accepted the renounced order of life.

There are different opinions regarding Sri Visvarupa Mahotsava. It's the day when Sri Visvarupa (elder brother of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu) accepted sannyasa at the age of 16 from Sripada Krsna Bharati in Kasi (Varanasi) in 1491 and accepted the name Sri Sankararanya (Sri Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidana & Acarya Folio), OR, it's the day he departed from this world in Pandharpur on the banks of the Bhima River by entering the Deity of Sri Viththalanatha (CB 7.73 – commentary by Bhaktisiddanta Maharaja) in the year 1509/1510 (there are two opinions: either 1431 Sakabda Era-A.D. 1509, or, 1432 Sakabda-A.D. 1510), OR, both pastimes occurred on the same day, different years. Afterwards, while Mahaprabhu was traveling in South India in 1511, He heard from Sri Ranga-puri about Sri Visvarupa's disappearance.

It is also "believed" that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also took sannyasa on this day and began to search for his brother, Sri Visvarupa, but we cannot find any sastric references confirming He took sannyasa on this day. According to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 3.3): "At the end of His twenty-fourth year, in the month of Magha, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the sannyasa order during the waxing period of the moon." And in the Sri Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 28.9) "On the coming Makara-sankranti day, I will certainly leave home and take sannyasa." The year was 1510. Makara-sankranti is in the month of Magha (January/Febuary) when the sun enters into the direction of the North (the 6th/7th day of the Magha month). Sri Visvarupa-mahotsava falls on the Purnima (full moon) in the month of Bhadrapada (August/September).

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja states in his commentary (CB Adi 7.96) regarding who Sri Visvarupa is: "Sri Visvarupa Prabhu is Sankarsana and is therefore nondifferent from Sri Nityananda Svarupa. The prakasa expansion of Mula-Sankarsana Sri Baladeva- Nityananda Prabhu in Maha-Vaikuntha has appeared as Visvarupa in Gaura-lila. If one hears the pastime of Visvarupa's accepting sannyasa, he will attain freedom from the bondage of fruitive activities. Sri Visvarupa has three expansions—the first purusa incarnation, Karanodakasayi Visnu, the second purusa incarnation, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, and the third purusa incarnation, Ksirodakasayi Visnu. If a living entity understands these three Visnu forms in truth, he can attain freedom from the material concept of life."

As cited by Srila Prabhupada in his purport (CC Adi 13.74) regarding Sri Visvarupa: "As an incarnation of Sankarsana, He is both the ingredient and immediate cause of the creation of this material world. He is nondifferent from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for the amsa and the amsi, or the part and the whole, are not different. As an incarnation of Sankarsana, Visvarupa belongs to the quadruple manifestation of catur-vyuha. In the Gaura-candrodaya it is said that Visvarupa, after His so-called demise, remained mixed within Sri Nityananda Prabhu."

According to Srila Narayana Goswami Maharaja, there is another explanation who Sri Visvarupa was: "Who, then, was Visvarupa? He was one of the manifestations of Baladeva Prabhu. He was not Nityananda. He was a manifestation of Nityananda. He was like Maha-Sankarsana. He left Navadvipa and went to Pandarapura. When He disappeared from this world he merged in Nityananda Prabhu, just as Baladeva Prabhu who was the son of Devaki merged in Rohininandan Rama (after being in Devaki's womb for six months). It was in this way. Visvarupa was not fortunate enough to be with Mahaprabhu in performing all His lilas, and He was therefore not Nityananda Prabhu-he was like Maha-Sankarsana. So we can reconcile it like this."

And of course Sri Visvarupa Mahotsava is also the day when our dear Srila Prabhupada accepted sannyasa from Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja at the Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha, Mathura, India, on the morning of 17 September 1959.

Also, this day is the sannyasa anniversary of Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja himself, who accepted sannyasa from Srila Bhaktiraksaka Sridhara Gosvami in Katwa (Katoya), where Lord Caitanya accepted sannyasa.

Hoping/praying everyone is well and happily engaged in the service of Srila Prabhupada. Hari Haribol!

Ys, Jaya Vijaya das