Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Krishnananda Agamavagisha

Krishnananda Agamavagisha / कृष्णानन्द आगमवागीश /  কৃষ্ণানন্দ আগমবাগীশ was a noted Varendra Bengali Brahmin and renowned Pandita and Sadhaka of Veda and Tantra traditions who lived around 1575 CE. 

He is the author of the Brihat Tantrasara, the most exhaustive worship and sadhana text of Eastern India for Veda and Tantra sadhakas, and he is infact considered one of the greatest exponents of Tantra sadhana in Bengal region (secular West Bengal and Islamic Bangladesh) being himself a mantra-siddha. He started the Agameshvari Kali Puja of Nabadvipa, one of the oldest Puja tradition in Nabadvipa.

Personal Life and Family

Krishnananda Agamvagish was born in 1533 to a Vishanava family (in the year Chaitanya Mahaprabhu died). He lived in Navadvipa in Nadia district of West Bengal. He was also known as Agamavagisha Bhattacharya and in the colophone added to some of the chapters of the Tantrasara, he calls himself Mahamahopadhyay Krishnananda Vagisha Bhattacharya / महामहोपाध्याय कृष्णानन्द वागीश भट्टाचार्य / মহামহোপাধ্যায় কৃষ্ণানন্দ বাগীশ ভট্টাচার্য

Krsnananda Agamavagisa belonged to the Maitras family of Mandaljani of Kashyapa Gotra being Varendra Brahmins. His father was Mahesha Maitra.

Krsnananda had 4 sons:
  • Kashinatha Maitra
  • Mathuranatha Maitra
  • Harinatha Maitra
  • Vishvanath Maitra
Krishnananda had a brother Sahasraksha who was a staunch Vaishnava and a worshipper of Lord Krishna.

Krsnananda was 7th in ascent from Ramatoshana, the author of celebrated text Pranatoshani.

Scholarship of Krishnananada Agamavagisha

Many of the methods of worship were considered secret and generaly revealed only to one who had received diksha. Krishnananda Agamavagish wrote Brihat Tantrasara for such dikshita sadhakas.

Krishnananda was well-versed in Vedic and Tantric lore and cites 150+ texts in Tantrasara. Please note that the distinction between Tantra and Veda is a creation of the British and has been in vogue for the past 200 years or so. Prior to that and even today among traditionalists there is NO distinction between Veda and Tantra, and in the same vein Krishnanda viewed all these traditions as parts of a whole.

Krsnananda refer to the following works in Brihat Tantrasara:
  • Shritattvachintamani of Purnananda
  • Padarthadarsha commentary on Saradatilaka by Raghava Bhatta

Mystic Powers of Krishnananda

Being a mantra-siddha, Krishnanda Agamvagisha had powers which are today known as "superhuman" and may seem unbelievable, but are in fact true.

Episode 1 - Fruit which cannot be cut
Krishnananda once told his son of a mantra by reciting which any object such as a fruit would attain vajra-deha (diamond body) and would be indestructible. The son also overheard the mantra and immediately decided to put it into use. He gathered a few people, placed a fruit in front of him, declared that the fruit cannot be cut into two by anyone and recited the mantra over the fruit. When asked to cut the fruit, someone in the crowd could easily chop the fruit into two. Krishnananda, who had been quietly watching the game walked in, uttered the same mantra over another fruit and that particular fruit could not be cut into two by anyone. He later explained to his son that the mantra in the son’s case was mere shabda or sound whereas in his own case, it was energized through sadhana and hence was truly a mantra.
Source: Kamakotimandali

Episode 2 - Gopala-Kalika Vision
On a certain auspicious day, Krishnananda gathered bananas to offer to his Ishta Devata Agameshvari Kali and proceeded to take a bath. When he returned, he found the bananas missing as his brother had offered them to his own Ishta Devata Krishna. Both the brothers had an argument over this episode and both of them sat down reciting mantras for their own deities. By midnight, the brothers had a vision of Adya Kali with Bala Gopala on her lap and Mother was feeding the bananas to the child. Thereafter, the two brothers realized that there was no difference between Gopala and Kalika. The Goddess further revealed the secrets of the worship of the deity Gopala-Kalika to them which are recorded in Gopala-Kalika Kalpa.
Source: The Sakta Pitha (D.C. Sircar) quoting Banger Jaitya Itihas (Nagendranath Basu) / Kamakotimandali

Episode 3 - The Image of Kali
Krsnananda was ordered by Goddess Kali in a dream to popularize the form of her image. Prior to this Kali used to be worshipped as a Ghata. On being questioned as to how the form could be realized, the Goddess replied that it would be revealed to the devotee next morning. Early next day when Krishnananda came out of his house, he found a young cowherdess engaged in preparing cowdung cakes. She was standig in the alidha pose - with the right knee thrown to the front and the left leg firm behind in a slanting position. She had a lrage ball of cowdung in her left hand and a small one in her right, upraised to be set in the wall in the form of a cake. On the sudden consciousness of being noticed by Krsnananda the woman felt very much ashamed and pressed her tongue that lolled with her teeth. The appearence of the cowherdess as seen by Krsnananda Agamavagisa was popularized by him as the image of Dakshina Kali.
Source: The Sakta Pitha (D.C. Sircar) quoting Banger Jaitya Itihas (Nagendranath Basu)


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