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Shri Gangamata Goswamini
Shriyuta Naresh Narayan was the king of Putiya, which was located in the district of Rajshahi, part of the present country of Bangladesh. His only daughter was named Saci, and she was extremely devoted to God from her very childhood. In a very short time she became quite proficient in her studies, especially in grammar and poetry. As she grew up everyone became stunned by her blossoming youthful beauty. However, Saci was not attracted by any good-looking or well-to-do young men. She was only interested in Shri Madan Gopal.
The king, Naresh Narayan, began to think about his daughter's marriage. When she came to know of this she told her father that she wouldn't marry anyone who was subject to death. The king and queen put their hands to their heads and sat down. Their only daughter refused to marry?! They passed on from this world, having no further work to do here.
The responsibility for governing the people now fell on Saci. For some days she attended to her duties and then, after appointing her representatives she set out to visit the holy places of pilgrimage. But she didn't feel satisfied within herself anywhere.
She began to search out a guru and eventually came to Jagannath Puri. After having darshan of Lord Jagannath there for a few days, she set out for Shri Braja Dham. It was here that the benediction moon of her good fortune rose. Seeing the spiritual prowess and renunciation of Shri Haridas Pandit Gosvami, who was a staunch follower of Lord Chaitanya and Prabhu Nityananda, she became very happy within herself and thought, "After so many days I have finally found shelter." After falling at his lotus feet and offering her obeisances, with folded hands she prayed for his mercy.
"Ananta Acarja was the disciple of (Shri Gadadhar) Pandit Gosvami. His body was saturated with intense love for Krishna and he was extremely munificent in distributing love of Krishna. Who can describe his unlimited qualities? His very dear disciple was Pandit Haridas. His qualities and fame are known all over the world. The fifty qualities of Lord Krishna were all present in his body." [C.C.Adi 8]
In order to test Shri Saci debi, Shri Haridas Pandit Gosvami told her that it wouldn't be possible for the daughter of a king to practice the renunciation that is required in order to serve the Lord in Braja. Saci however, could understand that this was simply a pretence. Thus she began her service in total indifference to the material world. Gradually she completely gave up wearing any ornaments or fine cloth.
One day Shri Haridas told her, "If you can give up shyness, pride and fear, and beg from door to door, then you'll be qualified to receive my mercy."
Hearing this Saci became very happy. Covering her body with one old cloth she went from door to door of the residents of Braja, to beg something to eat. Her body became very thin and pale. But the Brajabasis could understand that she was not an ordinary woman because of her bodily effulgence. The Baisnabs were astonished by her great austerities. Though she became quite thin, she took no notice of this and continued to regularly bathe in the Yamuna, clean the temple of the Lord, go on parikram, attend the arati ceremonies and hear discussions about Krishna.
Seeing her intense renunciation, Haridas became eager to reward her. He called her and told her, "Though you are the daughter of a king, the exertion with which you have worshipped Shri Krishna and the degree of renunciation you have shown have pleased me very much. Now be pleased to accept the divine mantra."
Thereafter, on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Caitra, Shri Saci was initiated with RadhaKrishna mantra by Shri Haridas Pandit Gosvami. Having received the eighteen syllable mantra, Saci became completely imbued with love of Krishna. Though she was very destitute, she began to serve Shri Guru and Govinda with intense devotion. Every day she would listen to her guru explain the sastras, so that within a short time she herself became quite conversant in the literatures of the Gosvamis, which was very pleasing to everyone.
The maternal aunt of Saci, Lakkipriya by name, was also present in Brindaban at this time. She had a very pleasant demeanour and used to chant three lakhs of Holy Names every day. Haridas instructed her to take Saci with her to Radha Kunda and worship the Lord there. Thus the two of them came there and began to circumambulate Govardhana hill every day.
Then one day Shri Haridas Pandit suddenly called Saci back and instructed her to go to Puri to preach the message of Lord Gaursundor to the pious people there. At this time almost all of the associates of Mahaprabhu had given up their earthly pastimes in Puri.
In accordance with the order of her guru, Saci came there and took up residence in the house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarja. As no one had lived there for so many days, the covered condition of its former sanctity was keenly felt. Only the Damodarasila that Sarvabhauma Bhattacarja used to worship was remaining there. Saci resumed the regular worship of the Lord and daily recitation of the Shrimad Bhagavatam. Many people were very impressed to hear her conclusive explanations of the sastras and thus they used to congregate there. Saci's fame as an accomplished lecturer on the sastras began to spread far and wide.
One day, the king Mukunda Deb came to hear her speak. He was very impressed to hear such authoritative conclusions coming from the mouth of Saci debi, so in his mind he wished to present something to her. That very night he had a dream in which Lord Jagannath told him, "You should offer to Saci the place known as Sweta Ganga." [Sweta Ganga is a large tank of water by the side of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarja's house].
Early the next morning the king came to see her and Saci very meekly offered him a seat and inquired as to the purpose of the visit. The king thus related to her the order of Lord Jagannath and requested her to accept the piece of land adjacent to Sweta Ganga. Saci, however, was not interested in acquiring property. She declined the offer. The king however insisted that she accept this royal grant of land and so finally she agreed after considering that it was, after all, the order of Lord Jagannath. Most pleased that he could render her some service, the king presented her with the deed to the parcel of land. After this, people began to discuss the fact that Saci was previously the daughter of a king.
Once, shortly before the Mahabaruni (a day very auspicious for bathing in the Ganga), Saci thought to herself how very much she would like to leave Puri and make a pilgrimage to the Ganga for this occasion. But after considering that it was her guru's order to remain in Shri Ksetra, she decided to abandon the idea.
That night however Lord Jagannath spoke to her in a dream, "Saci! Don't worry! On the day of Mahabaruni you should bathe in the Sweta Ganga. Ganga Debi herself will personally come to join you there." Having seen this dream, Saci was very jubilant.
When the day of the Baruni bath arrived, Saci went to the Sweta Ganga alone, in the middle of the night. As she entered into the water, a strong current suddenly gripped her and carried her inside the Jagannath Mandir, which was now flooded, much to her amazement, by the sacred waters of the Ganges. There she saw thousands and thousands of the residents of Shri Ksetra taking their baths. A great uproar resounded in all directions from their recitation of prayers and hymns.
In the midst of these festivities, Saci very religiously performed the Baruni bath in the waters of the Ganges. Hearing this great uproar the sleep of the doorkeepers outside was broken and they began to search out the source of the tumult. It seemed that the noise was coming from inside the temple. They immediately brought this news to the temple superintendent who in turn informed the king. The king then ordered them to open the temple to see what was going on. To the astonishment of everyone, they found Shri Saci Debi, the reciter of the Bhagavatam, standing there alone.
The priests of the temple surmised that she must have smuggled herself into the building in order to steal the ornaments of Lord Jagannath. But others present felt it was impossible for her to have done this. "There must be some mystery behind it all," they said. Ultimately it was decided to confine her until some judgement was passed. Sacidebi didn't mind and very blissfully continued to chant the Holy Name.
Meanwhile, towards the end of the night the King had a dream in which Lord Jagannath very angrily told him, "You should immediately release Saci. I personally caused the Ganga to flow from My own foot; it was this that brought her into the temple so that she could take bath on this auspicious day. This is all a part of My pastimes! If you are concerned for the welfare of your subjects and your own good fortune, then along with the temple priests you had better go and beg forgiveness at her feet and request to become her disciples."
After seeing this dream, the king awoke in a very worried state. He quickly completed his morning bath and immediately called for the priests in whose company he went to the place of Saci's confinement. The king opened the door and fell down at her lotus feet to offer his obeisances. He very humbly begged her forgiveness and submitted Lord Jagannath's instruction, that he become her disciple. Seeing the wonderful behaviour of the king, she placed her hand on his head that he might receive her benediction.
On the next auspicious day she initiated the king with RadhaKrishna mantra. Many of the priests also accepted the shelter of her lotus feet at this time. From that day she became known as Shri Ganga Mata Gosvamini. The king wanted to donate some land to Shri Ganga Mata as gurudakshin, but she declined, saying that she only wanted that the king should attain loving devotion to Lord Krishna's lotus feet. "I am not qualified to accept anything more then this," she told him. But the king repeatedly entreated her to accept something from him as gurudakshin. Finally she agreed that for the purpose of serving the Baisnabs, two pots of Mahaprasad, one pot of vegetables, one remnant of Lord Jagannatha's cloth and one hundred sixty kauris (small conchshells), could be sent to the ashram each day. Some portion of that service is still observed to this day; the articles being first offered to her samadhi.
One time it happened that a pandit of the name Mahidhar Sharma, came to the banks of the Sweta Ganga to offer oblations to his forefathers. He happened to hear of the wonderful qualities of Shri Ganga Mata and thus was inspired to have darshan of her lotus feet. He approached her and in turn Ganga Mata very respectfully received him, offered him a seat and inquired as to the purpose of his visit. This brahmana, though a pandit, was a very simple and straight-forward man, so he honestly stated that he'd simply come to have her darshan. She was very pleased with his simplicity and mercifully began to speak the philosophy of the Shrimad Bhagavatam to him. The panditji listened very intently to her wonderful elucidation and thereafter accepted shelter at her lotus feet.
On an auspicious day she initiated him with RadhaKrishna mantra.
Mahidhara Sharma's birthplace was Dhananjoypur. On the order of Shri Ganga Mata he preached the glories of Shri Shri Nitai Gaura at various localities in the district of Ganjam.
-Shri Shri Rasik Rayjiu-
In the town of Jaipur, within Rajasthan, lived one devoted and religious- minded brahmana of the name Shri Candra Sharma. In his house was a Deity of Krishna called Shri Rasik Ray. The brahmana however, was very poor and therefore could not offer foodstuffs properly to the Deity. One night Lord Jagannath appeared to the brahmana in a dream and told him, "The service of Shri Rasik Ray, Who is present in your house, is not being conducted properly. You should straightaway bring Him here to Shri Ksetra and deliver Him to Shri Ganga Mata, who resides on the banks of Sweta Ganga. Otherwise some misfortune will befall you."
Having received this order from Lord Jagannath, the brahmana didn't delay but immediately set out for Shri Ksetra. Arriving there, he inquired as to the whereabouts of Shri Ganga Mata and thus presented himself before her. Seeing the Deity of Shri Krishna, Ganga Mata became very happy. However, when the brahmana explained to her the reason why he had come she replied, "I am simply a beggar. I eat by begging at a few houses each day. How will I be able to serve this Deity? You had better take your Deity with you. Please don't make me an offender."
The brahmana didn't know what to do. He thought deeply about it and after concluding that the order of Lord Jagannath was insurmountable, he saw no other recourse but to place the Deity of Shri Rasik Ray in the tulasi garden of Shri Ganga Mata and flee away.
Shri Rasik Ray appeared that night in a dream to Ganga Mata and informed her, "I have come here to accept your service. That brahmana put Me in your tulasi garden and then left this place. I haven't eaten anything all day. Please give me something to eat."
Shri Ganga Mata was struck with wonder. "The Supreme Lord Hari Himself is asking me to feed Him." Meditating on this, she became filled with ecstatic love. The hairs on her body stood on end.
She quickly took bath and entered the tulasi garden. There she saw Shri Rasik Ray, shining in His own effulgence. With her eyes full of tears, she fell down and offered her prostrated obeisances.
"Here He is," she thought joyfully, "still hungry." She picked Him up and carried Him into her room, feeling very anxious as to what she should do. Finally she bathed him and made a simple offering of foodstuffs. Shri Rasik Ray immediately ate everything. Ganga Mata was floating in an ocean of happiness. She spread out a new piece of cloth and laid Him down to rest. In the morning, when the devotees came to Ganga Mata's house, they were astonished to see Shri Rasik Ray. When they heard the details of what had happened they all cheered and chanted, "Hari! Hari!"
Every day, Shri Ganga Mata would lovingly prepare many varieties of vegetables and cakes to offer to Shri Rasik Ray. She would spend at least twelve hours every day serving her Deity. For some days she served Shri Rasik Ray by begging at peoples' houses but as she got on in years this became somewhat difficult for her. Noting this, Shri Rasik Ray, by some trick or other would collect the necessary ingredients and paraphernalia from some rich merchants and have them sent there.
In this way things continued for some more time but when Ganga Mata saw that there were many deficiencies in the worship due to her advanced age, she went before Shri Rasik Ray to pray for His forgiveness and to inform Him that she was unable to serve Him nicely now. For this reason she didn't want to remain alive any longer. Shri Rasik Ray told her in a dream: "I am very pleased with your service. You shouldn't lament. For a few more days you should continue to serve Me."
Some days passed, but again she told Him that she didn't want to remain any longer. Her only request was that she might leave this world while chanting His Holy Name. Shri Rasik Ray replied: "All right, don't worry any more. After handing over My service to one of your qualified disciples, you should come join Me in My eternal abode."
Thereafter, she entrusted the worship of Shri Rasik Ray to one very peaceful and self controlled disciple of hers called Banamali Das. At the age of one hundred and twenty years, in the Christian year 1721, on the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Aswin, Shri Ganga Mata Gosvamini, while seeing the graceful three-fold bending form of Shri Rasik Ray and meditating upon His lotus feet, entered into His eternal pastimes.
This Deity of Shri Rasik Ray is still present in the house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarja, next to the Sweta Ganga.