Today the First House of the Path of Grace (the Pushtimarg Pratham Peeth) celebrates the auspicious birthday of Shyamdas’ guru, His Holiness Shri Prathameshji. Shyamdas spoke and wrote about the priceless teachings Prathameshji blessed him with and their close relationship. From giving Shyamdas a room to live in by the Govardhan Hill, gracing him with initiation and seva, guiding him in all matters personal and devotional, encouraging him to speak, write and teach about bhakti, and simply filling his life with laughter and joy, Prathameshji was clearly an enormous influence on Shyamdas’ life.
Shri Prathameshji performs his daily sandhya prayers with a painting of Shri Vallabhacharya in background
In honor of this blessed occasion we have uploaded a kirtan sung by Prathameshji, recorded by Shyamdas. Besides Shyamdas and the others present at that time, it has probably never been heard before. It is one of the longest and perhaps richest tracks available of Prathameshji’s captivating, bhava-filled singing.
Click to enjoy this audio-restored first-time release of Prathameshji singing “Banaṭhana kahā ju cale ho.” Experience more of the sacred guru-disciple relationship and teaching treasures of Prathameshji by listening to Shyamdas’ “Island Talk” in which he describes their meeting and lives together. You may also enjoy this photo album of Prathameshji and Shyamdas, as well as the following excerpt from the book Ocean of Grace: The Teachings of His Holiness Shri Prathameshji:
I had the extreme pleasure of living with His Holiness Goswami Prathameshji, a direct descendant of Shri Vallabhacharya and the head of the first seat of the Vallabh Sampradaya, for eighteen years. Although his physical form disappeared from this world in 1990, Prathameshji’s devotional teachings remain with us. His knowledge was vast. He was a pundit of Ayurveda, Vedanta, as well as the Shrimad Bhagavatam. He was a master of Sanskrit, Urdu, Gujarati, and Vrajbhasha languages and an accomplished classical musician.
Prathameshji masterfully played the tabla and pakhavaja drums, harmonium, sitar, flute, and even sarangi, but most of all, it is the way he sang Dhrupada-Dhamar devotional kirtan songs that still resonates throughout my being. He was a master of “Lila kirtan.” His life and songs emerged from the eternal realm and somehow manifested here in this world. His being was full of Lila-mood. He often sang, in total ecstasy, poems written by great bhaktas who had actually seen and experienced Shri Krishna’s Lila. As he once told me, “To sing of the Lilas of Hari is the fastest flight to God.”
On the evening of His Holiness’ birth in 1930, the outline of Shri Krishna’s lotus footprints appeared, in red powder, on the floor of his father’s temple courtyard in Jatipura. His father, Goswami Dwarkeshji Maharaja, commented at that time, “He will certainly be a very powerful lineage holder.” By the time His Holiness was fifteen, he was already an accomplished pundit, speaker, and musician. I had the fortune of meeting him in his home in Jatipura, near Vrindavan, when he was forty-three years old. I was nineteen.
His Holiness gave me many teachings and amazing explanations of his lineage, the blessed Path of Grace. Whenever he spoke, the meaning of the words filled my heart. My greatest pleasure was to be around him. Some years later, having noticed that His Holiness kept many accomplished scholars, musicians, Ayurvedic doctors, and artists around him, I asked him, “Why do you keep me around?”
He answered, “Your position here is to simply hang out and shoot the breeze with me.” I felt very blessed to be given that appointment. After living with Goswami Prathameshji for several years and reflecting upon his empowerments, I came to understand that the most important thing is not how much you know, but how to apply your wisdom to devotion. He showed me that it is not a matter of how well you sing, but of how much bhava you sing with. It is to always sing for the right reason: for the pleasure of God, and to serve Shri Krishna, for His pleasure. His Holiness pointed me towards the blessed path, wherein everything in life is an effortless offering to the Beloved.