THE FALL OF THE TWELVE HUNDRED
THERE is the story of twelve hundred nedas10 and thirteen hundred nedis11. Virabhadra, the son of Nityananda Goswami had thirteen hundred ‘shaven headed’ disciples. They attained great spiritual powers. That alarmed their teacher. “My disciples have acquired great spiritual powers,” thought Virabhadra. “Whatever they say to people will come to pass. Wherever they go they may create alarming situations; for people offending them unwittingly will come to grief.” Thinking thus, Virabhadra one day called them to him and said, “See me after performing your daily devotions on the banks of the Ganges.” These disciples had such high spiritual nature that, while meditating, they would go into Samadhi and be unaware of the river water flowing over their heads during the flood-tide. Then the ebb-tide would come and still they would remain absorbed in meditation.
10Literally ”Shaven headed”, indicative of absolute renunciation of ‘lust and gold’
Now, one hundred of these disciples had anticipated what their teacher would ask of them. Lest they should have to disobey his injunctions, they had quickly disappeared from the place before he summoned them. So, they did not go to Virabhadra with others. The remaining twelve hundred disciples went to the teacher after finishing their morning meditations. Virabhadra said to them: “These thirteen hundred nuns will serve you.
I ask you to marry them.” “As you please, revered sir,” they said. “But one hundred of us have gone ‘ away.” Thenceforth each of these twelve hundred disciples had a wife. Consequently they all lost their spiritual power. Their austerities did not have their original fire. The company of women robbed them of their spirituality because it destroyed their freedom. (23)