|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Narahari Chakravarti Thakura > Bhaktiratnakara > CHAPTER 10|
Glory to Navadvipa Natha, Shri Gaurasundara.
Glory to Nityananda, the Lord of Ekacakra.
Glory to Advaita, the jewel of Santipura.
Glory to the disciples of Mahaprabhu and glory to the listeners of my narration. Now I will begin a new narration.
Observance of the death ceremony of Dvija Haridasa Acarya
When Shrinivasa Acarya Thakura returned to Jajigrama from Shri Khanda with all of his followers he began once again to teach his pupils from the books of the Gosvamis. He silenced the heretics by boldly preaching that devotion was the best path. Shri Acarya was pleased with his disciples because they could quickly grasp the philosophy of the Gosvami books, and the pupils were happy to have been trained by their Guru. He decided to give diksha to Shri Gokula Nanda, Shridasa and other followers.
As Gokula sat amongst the other students, Shrinivasa told him how his heart burned because of the disappearance of Sarkara Thakura and Shridasa Gadadhara. Because of his unhappy state of mind he had left Jajigrama and gone to Vrndavana only to find that on the Krishna ekadashi day in the month of Magha Haridasa Acarya had also disappeared. Thus he had sunk deeper in the ocean of misery. The Gosvamis of Vrndavana were equally depressed, but they had requested Shrinivasa to Gaudadesh.
Shrinivasa advised the two brothers to patiently take responsibility for the proper observance of the death anniversary of the Acarya. He ordered them to go to Kanchanagaria and make arrangements for various necessities, assuring them that he would also go there within two to four days. He advised them not to worry about anything because everything would be done easily by the mercy of the Acarya.
Shri Gokula Nanda and his brother left immediately for Kanchanagaria where the inhabitants greeted him warmly. The brothers approached wealthy persons and requested them to help arrange the festival. Those wealthy people gave various useful items, built houses for the invited guests and informed the two brothers when their arrangements were completed. Shri Gokula Nanda and Shridasa were pleased with the arrangements.
The people of the village speculated in various ways about the reason for the festival arrangements. One person clarified it by telling others that Haridasa Acarya was a great disciple of Shri Mahaprabhu. After Mahaprabhu's disappearance n Nilacala it became difficult for Haridasa to pass his days. He gradually dwindled to half life and then decided to leave this world forever. But according to the wish of Mahaprabhu, he checked himself for sometime and called his own two sons Shri Gokula Nanda and Shridasa to his side. He told them about the character of Shrinivasa Acarya and advised to take initiation from him. The next morning Haridasa left alone for Vrndavana.
In Vrndavana Haridasa chose a very lonely place to live and Shrinivasa once went there to meet him. At that time Haridasa repeatedly requested Shrinivasa to give diksha mantra to his two sons. Shrinivasa returned to Gauda but as he was travelling to Vrndavana for his second visit he learned of the disappearance of Haridasa during the month of Magha. Shrinivasa was grief-stricken but Haridasa consoled him in a dream. When Shrinivasa reached Vrndavana everyone came to welcome him. At that time he met Shri Gokula Nanda and Shridasa and talked with them affectionately. He ordered them to go to Kanchanagaria and assured them that he would also go there after sometime. He also assured them that on the day of Krishna Ekadashi in the month of Magha he would give them diksha mantra. All these festival arrangements were made for observing the auspicious day of the disappearance of Haridasa Acarya.
The man continued to claim that many great Bhagavatas would come for the festival and the entire village would float in the ocean of sweet san kirtana. He told them that although he had come to the village for some interaction with his relatives, he had heard about this festival and had decided to stay for the entire period.
At that time some commotion was noticed and the loud shouting of Lord Hari's name was heard. People began to move in the direction of the commotion asking one another what was happening. One man explained that Acarya Thakura had arrived from Jajigrama, so they all decided to go and meet him. They found that the house of Shri Gokula Nanda was already overcrowded with people who wanted to meet the Acarya.
Shridasa and Shri Gokula Nanda were very glad to get the association of Shri Acarya Thakura and they cordially welcomed Ramacandra Kaviraja and others. Vaishnavas from many different places came and all the invited guests were taken to their respective houses. Gokula and Shridasa were happy to receive them all and the village devotees engaged themselves willingly in the service of the respected guests. Other villagers brought many useful item for the guests.
The people of the village had never seen such an attractive group of Vaishnava devotees. They were charmed by the appearance of Shrinivasa, the perfect Vaishnava mahanta. They were disappointed only because the guests would leave Kanchanagaria the next day. One man reassured them that they need not worry about the immediate departure of the mahantas because the next day would be Krishna ekadashi in the month of magha and on that day the Vaishnavas would behave in a way which was beyond the comprehension of the heretics. The Vaishnavas knew how to observe the days of Ekadashi and Dwadashi. They would take food only once today (i.e the day before Ekadashi) and they would observe the day of ekadashi with full fast. They would not even drink water. On Dwadashi they would again take food only once after making a variety of preparations and offering them to Lord Krishna. That offered food would be kept in different containers and then offered again before the feet of Shri Haridasa Acarya.
One of the villager asked this educated man how he, an ignorant person could learn these various Vaishnava customs. THe educated felt pity for the humble villager and encouraged him to remain there for another five days and observe the grand festival to be held at the house of Shri Gokula. He knew that the mahantas would stay there for five days so he advised the man to enjoy the nama sankirtana of the Bhagavatas.
Everyone appreciated the sincere behavior of Shri Gokula Nanda and Shridasa. On the day of dasami they and there followers engaged themselves in san kirtana. They were joyful because they knew they would receive mantra diksha on the month of ekadashi. As he promised Shrinivasa Acarya did grant them diksha in Radha Krishna mantra and then dedicated his two new disciples to the feet of Radha Krishna and Shri Chaitanya. As they cried joyfully, Shrinivasa Acarya embraced then affectionately and those who observed the ceremony praised the occasion by calling out the name of Lord Hari.
On Dwadashi Shridasa and Gokula Nanda cooked many delicious food preparations and Shri Acarya offered the food to Lord Krishna. When sufficient time had passed, Shrinivasa offered betel leafs and water for the Lord to wash his mouth and then transferred the food to other containers and offered them again to Shri Haridasa Acarya in a solitary place. Again, when sufficient time had passed, he offered water for Haridasa to wash his mouth. Shridasa then reported to Shri Acarya that he had arranged seats for the guests and eat. Shri Acarya requested the Vaishnavas to take their seats and ordered the serving men to serve the fine food on banana leaves. The aroma of the fine food filled the air, and having invoked the name of Lord Hari, the mahantas relished the offered foodstuffs. After washing their mouths, they all took rest.
Thereafter, many people from Kanchanagaria crowded around that place, eager to get maha prasada. When all the other mahantas had eaten, Shrinivasa Acarya took a portion of the maha prasada but Shri Gokula Nanda and Shridasa ate only scrapes of foods left by Shri Acarya. Then they all assembled in the courtyard to take part in san kirtana.
Before beginning the san kirtana, they loudly invoked the name of Lord Hari. In the ecstasy of their chanting and dancing accompanied by various musical instruments, the Bhagavatas did not notice the passing of days and nights. In this way they joyfully spent five days and nights.
At last the time for Shri Acarya's departure arrived and not only the two brothers but all the people of that village lamented. The mahantas who participated in the festival all praised the behavior of the two brothers and then returned to their own homes. But on the request of his two new disciples Shrinivasa Acarya decided to stay there for another four days. He greatly appreciated their dedication and devotion to their guru.
Shrinivasa Acarya goes to Kheturi
Shri Acarya was eager to see his favorite associate Narottama, and he travelled quickly from Kanchanagaria to Kheturi with his disciples. I will mention the names of some of the favorite devotees of Shrinivasa: Ramacandra Kaviraja, a man of extra ordinary qualities; Shridasa; Gokula Nanda Acarya, a most kind-hearted Vaishnava; Shri Krishna Vallabha of Deuligiama; Cakravarti Vyasa Acarya, a famous devotee; Shri Vallabhi Kanta Kaviraja, an image of devotion, who caused panic in the hearts of the heretics; Shri Nrsimha Kaviraja, a great poet; his brother Narayana, the best of all poets; Kanapura Kaviraja, a perfect gentlemen; Bhagavana Kaviraja, a highly qualified person whose brother was Rupa Nimuvira Bhoumalaya; Shri Gokula of Seragah in Panchakuta; Kavindra Bhaktatul of Kadai; Rama Krishna and Kumuda, two great brahmin; Cakravarti Syamadasa; Shri Ramacharana, the brothers-in-law of Shri Acarya; Shri Rupa Ghataka of Jajigrama and Shri Gopala Dasa of Kanchanagaria.
All these disciples travelled from Kanchanagaria to Kheturi with Shri Acarya. On their way Shri Acarya told Ramacandra that they were travelling to Kheturi via Budari where the younger brother of Ramacandra lived. Shrinivasa wanted t know who would travel ahead to inform Ramacandra's brother that they were coming, but ramacandra informed him that there was no need to send news of their arrival for everyone knew. As they were speaking a person from Bhudari, offered obeisances at the feet of Shri Acarya and gave him news of the well being of their village. He told him that Shri Govinda and others were eagerly awaiting his arrival.
When Shrinivasa had gone to Vrndavana for the second time, Ramacandra had accompanied him and at that time Govinda had moved to Telia Budarigram. At that time Shri Govinda had dedicated himself to the grace of Shrinivasa Prabhu and cherished the hope of one day meeting him. From Vrndavana Shrinivasa Prabhu had gone to Vana Vishnupura with Ramacandra, stopping at Jajigrama, Kantaka nagara and Khanda. In Kanchanagaria Shrinivasa and his followers had performed a great san kirtana festival. The residents of Bhudari felt fortunate that Shrinivasa had also come to visit them. The messenger thus spoke sweetly to Shri Acarya, bowed again to Shrinivasa, Ramacandra and others and then took his leave from them, hastily returning to Bhudari to report the eminent arrival of Shri Acarya Prabhu in their village.
Crowds of people gathered to greet Shri Acarya when they heard he would soon arrive in Bhudari. Without a moment wasted, Shri Govinda and others made all types of arrangements for Shrinivasa Prabhu. They prepared some houses nicely and then went to receive Acarya and his companions. The People of Telaia Bhurari were happy to receive such perfect Vaishnavas and they brought many useful things for their respected guests. Shri Govinda requested his elder brother Ramacandra to dedicate him to the feet of Shri Acarya. Ramacandra was moved by Shri Govinda sincerity and he spoke to Shrinivasa on behalf of his brother. Shrinivasa was glad to take Shri Govinda as a disciple and gave him diksha in Radha Krishna mantra. Both brothers then dedicated themselves to the service of Shrinivasa acarya.
Shri Acarya then wondered when Ramacandra would get the opportunity to meet Narottama. Shri Acarya felt that Narottama would arrive soon. They had not met for a long time, and although Shri Acarya had written a letter to Narottama earlier, he was afraid that Narottama did not know about his arrival in Bhudari. Just as he had decided to send a person to Narottama, a brahmin came to meet him. The brahmin was enchanted by the attractiveness of Shri Acarya surrounded by his disciples and fell at the feet of the mahanta. Shri Acarya asked his name and other particulars and the brahmin replied that he was Durga Dasa of Kheturi, a worthless fellow who had rescued from the refuse of worldly material life by Shri Narottama Thakura. When he heard that Acarya Prabhu was in Bhudari he had come to meet him without informing anyone else.
Shri Acarya asked Durga Dasa about Shri Narottama and the brahmin informed him that after coming to Kheturi from Nilacala, Shri Narottama had boldly established the doctrine of devotion by defeating the heretics. By the mercy of Shri Krishna Chaitanya, Nityananda and Advaita he was able to silence the wicked and atheistic people. He had installed five deities of Radha and Krishna and had also discovered a deity of Shri Gaura with his consort.
Then the brahmin Durga described the discovery of the deity. There was a fortunate person named Vipra dasa who lived in a small village called Gopalapura. He had a granary in his house but no one would enter there for fear of snakes. Snake-charmers had come but even their mantras would not bring the snakes out. Strangely, the mantra made the snakes hiss angrily.
Early one morning Thakura Narottama went there and Vipra dasa fell at his feet. He humbly inquired why Narottama Prabhu had come to his house and Narottama informed him that he had urgent work in the granary. Vipra dasa emphatically forbid Narottama to enter the granary as it was full of snakes but Narottama assured that the snakes would all run away and he opened the door by force. To the amazement of everyone the snakes did leave the granary and Narottama Prabhu also came out carrying the deity of Gaurasundara with his consort. Shri Thakura Mahasaya carried the deity back to his house. Shri Santosh Dutta, a disciple of Shri Mahasaya, took the initiative to build a temple and a throne for the deity.
Durga dasa also informed Shrinivasa that Narottama Prabhu always waited eagerly for Shri Acarya's arrival. When Shri Narottama learned that Shrinivasa was near by he decided to cross the river Padmavati today. Tomorrow morning he would come to Bhudari. That news brought news to the heart of Shri Acarya and his companions.
He blessed Durga Dasa and spoke to his companions about the good qualities of Shri Narottama. The village people were quite happy to know that Shri Narottama would also come there the next day. They passed the night without sleep, eager to go to the house of Ramacandra early the next morning. Ramacandra Kaviraja was an ocean of devotional qualities, and when he heard of the eminent arrival of Narottama, his emotions grew turbulent although he did not reveal it to anyone. He finished his duties properly but while Shri Acarya and his companions, Ramacandra sat awake thinking about Shri Narottama.
Shri Mahaprabhu appears in the dream of Shri Ramacandra
By the wish of the Lord, Ramacandra fell asleep for sometime during which Shri Gaurasundara appeared in his dream. Ramacandra saw the Kandapa like beauty of Mahaprabhu, whose golden skin radiated like lightning and whose head was covered with curly, silky black hair. A flower garland hung from his beautiful neck and his attractive could only be compared to the autumn moon. His ague eyes were reservoirs of mercy, while his long arms and hands reached down to his knees. With a majestic gait resembling that of an elephant, he stood before Ramacandra.
Ramacandra was enchanted by his vision of Shri Gaura Candra and at once he lay prostrate at the feet of the Lord. Mahaprabhu took Ramacandra in his lap and drenched his body with tears of love. With a compassionate smile Mahaprabhu said, "By my desire you do not know your real identity, but you are as dear to me as Narottama." He further ordered Ramacandra to inculcate the doctrine of devotion and join Narottama in rescuing mankind from sin and suffering.
Thereafter Mahaprabhu disappeared and having lost that vision of the Lord Ramacandra cried until tears rolled down his face like rivers. Mahaprabhu could not bear the lamentation of his favorite disciple and he appeared again to console him. Mahaprabhu also appeared in the dream of Shrinivasa that night and told hi everything about Ramacandra. No one could understand the motives of Mahaprabhu for he was always bound by love for his devotees.
The arrival of Narottama Thakura
When Ramacandra woke the next morning he completed his routine duties such as evacuation, bathing and religious prayers. But throughout these duties he thought only about his meeting with Narottama. Meanwhile a messenger arrived and bowed at the feet of Shri Acarya. He reported that Shri Thakura Mahasaya had crossed the river Padmavati and was on the outskirts of the village. Shri Acarya and his disciples went forward to receive him. When they met outside the house, Narottama bowed at the feet of Shri Acarya but Shrinivasa immediately embraced him tightly and held him for a long time. Then Shrinivasa Thakura introduced Shri Narottama to Shridasa Acarya and others. Although Ramacandra observed Narottama and his heart was moved by emotion he did not speak at all.
Sitting alone in a quiet place Shri Acarya asked Narottama about the well being of Kheturi. Narottama humbly reported that he had gone to Gaudadesha according to the order of Shri Prabhu and had engaged himself in the worship of the deity, the service of the Vaishnavas and the performance of San kirtana. He had received the mercy of the deity and thus he had built a temple for the Lord. He had hoped that on the day of the full moon in the month of Phalguna Shri Acarya would install the deities in the temple. Shrinivasa's arrival was much later that he expected and he feared that it was too late to arrange for the festival. Shrinivasa assured him that the delay had been the wish of the Lord. He then told Narottama about his marriage, his visit to Vrndavana and other incidents. They passed a long time talking together and then Thakura Mahasaya and the others went to sleep in their respective houses.
Shri Acarya Thakura felt so anxious about the task of organizing the great installation festival that he could not sleep at night. He wandered to himself whether the associates of Mahaprabhu would come to Kheturi or whether Gaurarai would fulfil his desires. Shrinivasa cried miserably in anxiety and moved by affection for his devotees, Mahaprabhu appeared to Shrinivasa in a dream. He consoled Shrinivasa and told him not to be anxious. He advised Shrinivasa to send invitations cards everywhere; those devotees who were suffering in separation from the Lord would surely come and participate in the festival. Mahaprabhu also assured Shrinivasa that the desires of Shrinivasa would be fulfilled by the mercy of the Lord and that the festival would be successful. Thereafter Mahaprabhu disappeared.
Shrinivasa felt restless after the disappearance but he controlled his emotions.
The next morning the devotees assembled and Shri Acarya took pleasure in sending invitation cards everywhere. He wrote the invitation cards in verse form and selected fifteen persons to carry the cards to Navadvipa and other places. He sent one card to Syamananda Prabhu in Utkala. Soon everyone knew that on the Phalguna Pournima there would be a grand festival in Kheturi. The residents of Telai Bhudari Bahadurapura and many other places were happy to hear the announcement of the festival.
Shri Acarya and the devotees engaged themselves in san kirtana throughout the day and night. Shri Gokula, Shri Devidasa and other favorite disciples of Shri Mahasaya sang beautiful kirtanas accompanied by musical instruments. One day the wife of Shrinivasa Acarya spoke to him privately and after that conversation Shri Acarya entrusted Ramacandra Kaviraja to the care of Narottama dasa. Shri Narottama was very pleased and on the order of Acarya he left with Ramacandra for Kheturi. With the intention of returning quickly, Narottama and his group crossed the river Padmavati. Shri Govinda, the younger brother of Ramacandra, satisfied his guru Shrinivasa by his sincere service. When Shrinivasa asked him to describe the lila of Shri Krishna Chaitanya, Shri Govinda wrote many works in prose, poetry and music. For his writing, Shri Acarya bestowed on him the title Kaviraja. Later Shridasa sang the songs which had been composed by Shri Govinda.
A respectable brahmin named Shyamadasa lived in Bahadurapura village near Budhari. His younger brother, Vamsidasa Cakravarti had an affectionate nature. From his childhood he yearned for knowledge and he had a strong devotional leaning toward Shri Krishna Chaitanya and always read books on the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. He had not taken his diksha from anyone although he was eager to. When he heard that Shri Acarya had arrived in Bhudari, he went immediately to meet him. He found Shri Acarya sitting amidst his disciples in Shri Govinda's house discussing the pastimes of Lord Krishna. Vamsidasa prostrated himself at the feet of Shri Acarya, looked at the Acarya for a long time and then returned to his home with tears in his eyes. The companions of Shri Acarya noticed the sincerity of Vamsidasa and thought that he must be a favorite devotee of the Acarya. But they did not know that simply by glancing at Vamsidasa, Shri Acarya he empowered him.
Sitting alone in a solitary place, Vamsidasa anxiously wondered whether he would get the mercy of Shri Acarya Prabhu. He remained sleepless late into the night but at last fell asleep and dreamed of Shrinivasa Prabhu. He was enchanted by the compassionate beauty of Shrinivasa who stood smiling at him. Vamsidasa immediately accepted Shri Acarya as his guru and fell at his feet. Shrinivasa embraced him and told him that although Shri Narottama had come to take Shrinivasa to Kheturi for the great festival, Shrinivasa had not gone with him because he was waiting to give initiation to Vamsidasa the next morning. After the initiation they would all go together to Kheturi. He touched his foot to the head of Vamsidasa and blessed him. Then he disappeared.
When Vamsidasa awoke from his sleep the next morning he bathed and went to the feet of Shrinivasa Prabhu. He requested the Acarya and his companions to come to his house. Shri Acarya Prabhu gladly gave him diksha in Radha Krishna mantra.
Shrinivasa Acarya goes to Kheturi.
Thereafter Shrinivasa Acarya and his associates left for Kheturi. Shri Thakura Narottama was glad to receive news of their arrival in Kheturi, and together with Ramacandra and other devotees he went to receive Shrinivasa. Shri Santosh Dutta also went forward to introduce himself to Shri Acarya. Shri Thakura and Shri Acarya were happy to meet again and they went to Narottama's house. Narottama arranged individual houses for the companions of Shri Acarya and Santosh Dutta appointed different people to do household duties.
Shrinivasa first went to visit the deity of Mahaprabhu and the five deities of Lord Krishna. He was enchanted by them.
Shri Narottama was growing anxious because time was short and Shyamananda had not arrived from Utkala. At last he received news of Syamananda's arrival and he hurriedly went to tell Shrinivasa, only to find that Syamananda had already reached there. They were all overjoyed to meet once again.
The arrival of Jahnava devi from Khardaha
Shri Jahnava devi, who lived in Khardaha, decided to attend the festival in Kheturi. She simultaneously received a divine message from Mahaprabhu in which he ordered her to go to Kheturi as soon as possible for Shrinivasa, Narottama and others were waiting for her. He also told her that because of the desire of his disciples Shrinivasa and Narottama, he himself and his intimate associates would appear in that festival to sing and dance in the san kirtana. Shri Jahnava Isvari was overjoyed by the appearance and the instructions of her Lord. She left at once for Kheturi.
The people of Khardaha heard about her journey and came out to meet her. She entrusted responsibilities to the correct persons and then gave some important information to Shri Vasudha devi. She had to console Ganga and Vira Bhadra affectionately when she left Khardaha with her disciples who were all great Bhagavatas. Her disciples included Krishnadasa Sarakhel, Madhava Acarya, Raghupati Vaidya Upaddhaya, Shri Minaketana Ramadasa, Manohara, Murari Chaitanya, Guyanadasa, Mahidhara, Shri Sankara, Shri Kamala Karappalai, Nrsimha, Chaitanya, Jiva, Pandita Kanai, Gauranga, Nakari, Krishnadasa, Damodara, Shri Parameswari, Balarama, Shri Mukunda, Dasa Vrndavana and others. She also took many maidservants with her.
Shri Jahnava walked for some distance but later accepted a man carried palanquin. As she passed through different villages, people came forward to meet her. Nayana Vaskara of Halisahara joined her party as did Raghunatha Acarya, the lame brother of Bhagavan. Many devotional people joined their party including Vanika, a servant of Nityananda. When she reached Ambina, a great crowd of people came out to meet her. Shri Chaitanya dasa, the son of Vamsidasa, also joined their group along with Shri Hrdaya Chaitanya and Shri Hrdaya Nanda.
Shri Jahnava visits the house of Shrivasa during her journey
As they approached Navadvipa, each member of the travelling party hoped to visit the holy place although the memory of Mahaprabhu saddened them. As they entered the holy dhama, some cried loudly and others fainted on the ground. Shripati and Shrinidhi, the two brothers of Shrivasa, welcomed them to Navadvipa where they first bathed in the river Ganga and later went to the house of Shrivasa. As Shri Jahnava was wondering why no one had come from Santipura to meet her, Shri Acyuta nanda and Shri Gopala, the two sons of Advaita Acarya came with a large party of vaishnavas to meet Shri Isvari. In that party were Shri Kanu Pandita, Dasa Narayana, Vishnudasa Acarya, Kamadeva, Janardana, Banamali, Purusottama and others. All of them were happy with the meeting with Shri Jahnava Isvari and she was so satisfied by their hospitality that she decided to stay another two or three days in Navadvipa. Shripati, Shrinidhi and others decided to accompany her to Kheturi.
Shri Jahnava devi visits Kantaka nagara
In the morning the travelling party started for Kantaka Nagara and on their way Krishnadasa of Akaihata joined them. Yadunandana and others warmly welcomed them to the house of Gauranga. Meanwhile Shri Raghunandana and his companions from Shri Khanda arrived there on their way to Kheturi. The numerous mahantas in their party which was travelling to Kheturi included Sivananda, Baninath Varja, Vallabha, Chaitanyadasa, Shri Hari Acarya, Bhagavata Acarya, Nartaka Gopala, Jita Misra, Kasinath Misra, Nayana Misra, Kastakata Jagannatha, Uddhava, Shri Puspha Gopala, Raghunatha, Laksminath Pandita and others. People of the village took great pleasure in the meeting of the Vaishnavas. When the mahantas visited the place from where Mahaprabhu had started his ascetic life they shed tears in grief. By the wish of Mahaprabhu they controlled their emotions after sometime. They were glad to hear that Dasa Gadadhara had seen Shri Gauranga in his dream.
Shri Jahnava cooked various types of delicious food which she first offered to Gaura Candra and then fed affectionately to the different mahantas. Shri Yadunandana and his followers did not take their meal until after Shri Isvari had eaten. After the meal, they all engaged in nama san kirtana in the courtyard of Gauranga. Thereafter Shri Yadunandana and his followers prepared for the trip to Kheturi. Within each village, people were satisfied to see the mahantas on their way to the great festival. Because of the presence of the great Vaishnavas, each village they entered became a holy place and the people of the village became fortunate. That day they rested in the village of Telia Budhari and the happiness of the villagers was boundless.
When they left Budhari for Kheturi, the villagers accompanied them to the bank of the river Padmavati. Shri Santosh Dutta had hired a large boat which took them to the opposite bank of the river. Upon the arrival of the Vaishnavas and Mahantas, Kheturi village became the center point of divine happiness.
Shrinivasa and Shri Narottama led the party which came forward to receive the honored guests and the village people fell at the feet of the great Bhagavatas. Seeing the reception one man commented that formerly the villagers had been heretics but by the association of Narottama they had all become religious.
Shrinivasa and Narottama arranged individual living places for each guest. The vaishnavas were astonished to see so many living places, such a vast stock of food and so many attendants taking responsibility for the festival.
The people of Kheturi forgot their individual miseries upon getting the association of the great Bhagavatas, and they all looked forward to the beginning of the grand festival. They considered themselves very fortunate because the village was blessed by the dust of the feet of the great devotees. They were impressed with the decorations on the houses of the mahantas and on the throne of Mahaprabhu although the Lord had not yet sat upon it. The next day was Phalguna Punima and the six deities of Krishna would be placed on the thrones. Tomorrow the great devotees would assemble and even the demigods would observe the grand festival. They eagerly awaited the performance of san kirtana.
Someone spoke appreciatively of the fortunate king Santosh Dutta who had taken great care to arrange everything for the festival and decorate the compound which would be used for san kirtana by erecting a beautiful canopy and placing banana trees all around. Another person commented that never in his life had he seen so many persons making flower garlands and sandal paste. Another person said that he had never seen so many types of musical instruments nor so many singers and dancers assemble in his life. Another man wished that the night would pass quickly for the next day he would see the Bhagavatas and pass the entire day with them, feeling no need to return home. Then he chastised himself for returning home simply to eat. Enthusiasm for the festival was heightened by the sound of musical instruments, indicating that morning was not far off.
Installation of the deities by Shrinivasa Prabhu
Early in the morning everyone went to the temple to see the beautiful deities. They mahantas assembled in the courtyard of Shri Gauranga wearing new clothes and decorated with tilaka on eight parts of their body. They took their respective seats and Shri Jahnava took her seat in a separate place. Shrinivasa Acarya and Narottama were pleased with the well decorated area and Mahaprabhu's companions gave permission for Shrinivasa to start the ceremonial bathing of the deities. Shrinivasa bowed to the Mahantas and other Vaishnavas before he began the rituals and carefully installed each of the six deities on his own throne. According to the wish of the Lord he announced the names of the deities as Shri Gauranga, Shri Vallabhi Kanta, Shri Braja Mohana, Shri Krishna, Shri Radha Kanta and Shri Radha Ramana. The mahantas shed tears as they observed the beauty of the six deities, and even the demigods in heaven showered flowers down. The name of Shri Hari resounded and the musicians began to play the different instruments. The brahmins uttered hymns from the Vedas while Shrinivasa carefully dressed the deities in gorgeous clothes. He offered scented sandal paste and flower garlands to Mahaprabhu. After performing the ceremony of worship for the deities, Shrinivasa arranged for an offering of lamps before the deities. The mahantas called out the name of Hari and prostrated themselves on the ground before the Lords. Narottama composed a verse by which he paid his respects to the deities by singing the names of Gauranga, Vallabhi Kanta, Shri Krishna, Vraja Mohan, Radha Raman, and Radha Kanta.
Although the courtyard had insufficient space, many hundreds of people assembled in the temple to watch the offering of lamps. After that offering Shrinivasa Acarya offered many tasteful food preparations to the deities, placing each in a different utensil. He then offered water for washing and betel leaves for chewing. He offered the deities flower garlands and sandal paste and then fanned them with a chamara. When he opened the door of the temple, the sweet scent from the body of the Lord filled the entire courtyard. Everyone was overwhelmed by the shining glow from the bodies of the Lords. Even Shrinivasa lost control of his emotions seeing the beauty of the deities and fell on the ground to pay obeisances. He bowed humbly at the feet of the companions of Mahaprabhu and embraced them all with tears of joy. He lay prostrate at the feet of Shri Iswari who affectionately ordered to distribute the offered garlands and sandal paste to the assembled devotees. Shrinivasa carried each garland in a different vessel and offered them all to the companions of Mahaprabhu. Shri Isvari ordered Nrsimha Chaitanya to offer the garlands to Shrinivasa, Narottama and their followers. Shri Isvari was so overwhelmed by the touch of the garland and sandal paste that she lost control of her emotions.
San Kirtana of Thakura Narottama and his followers
Shri Jahnava Isvari stared continuously at Narottama, infusing him with spiritual power beyond the comprehension of common men. The son of Advaita Acarya, Shri Acyuta nanda, blessed Thakura Narottama and the mahantas gave him their permission to begin the san kirtana. The companions of Narottama were all expert in singing, dancing and musical instruments.
Devidasa, who sat on the left side of Narottama, started by stroking the sweet mardala. The other musical instruments joined in, each one seeming to speak in sweet words. Narottama led the kirtana and Shri Vallabha dasa and others repeated each line in turn. Shri Gauranga dasa and others played other instruments and sang in a pitch. There are two methods of kirtana, namely unbinding and binding. Shri Gokula sang the first method and his sweet voice impressed everyone. The audience was mesmerized by the dramatic performance and the musicians.
Surrounded by his musicians, Narottama looked like the moon surrounded by stars. During the kirtana Naorttama and the other singers absorbed themselves in thoughts of Chaitanya, Nityananda and Advaita, dedicating themselves to the mercy of those Lords. By their tuning, volume, scale and modulation, the ragas and raginis they sang seemed to take life. The depth of their songs increased the tempo of the intrumentalists and as the volume of the song increased so alos the pleasure of the Vaishnavas increased. Khandavasi Shri Raghunandana offered sandal paste and flower garlands to the Shrikhola and Karatala, the personal instruments of Mahaprabhu, and then embraced Narottama and the other singers in a wave of emotion. He garlanded Narottama and each singer and they in turn bowed to him.
Thereafter Narottama changed to the binding style of kirtana which explainedthe mental condition of Nadia Candra observed in the mood of Shri Radhika. The singers themselves became emotional during their performance and this heightened the ecstasy of the audience. Shri Jahnava Iswari cried when she listened to the song describing the spiritual and devotional qualities of Shri Gaura. Shri Acyuta nanda, Shripati, Shrinidhi and others lost control of their emotions and shivered in ecstasy.
People discussed the kirtana recital of Narottama in various ways. One person appreciated most the way Narottama expressed the inner menaing of each song. Another person appreciated the overall masterful prestentation. One person said that Narottama had attempted to duplicate the method of kirtana enjoyed by Mahaprabhu at the house of Svarupa Damodara in order to attract Mahaprabhu himself to the kirtana. Another man agreed that Mahaprabhu must be enjoying the kirtana with his beloved companions. One devotee expessed his inner desire to see the Lord and his companions manifest within the sankirtana. They all appreciated the quality of the kirtana with its fine tuning, meaning and rhythm, saying that the Gandharvas and Kannaras shouls be ashamed of their songs.
During the kirtana recital, demigods from heaven poured flowers on the singers. Narada and other famous saints and ascetics came in disguise from heaven to attend the kirtana. Even the animals, birds, snakes and other creatures were mesmerised by the songs. As the ocean of sankirtana little by little overflowed its banks, the people in the sankirtana pavilion forgot their own existence and bathed in the tears from their eyes.
The manifestation of Mahaprabhu in the sankirtana pavilion While listening to the sankirtana Lord Gaura Rai decided to reveal himself clearly in that place. Within that pavilion Chaitanya Nityananda Shri Advaita and other companions were suddenly manifest like lightning within a cloud. Charming the universe with by their appearance, they became the precious jewels of the sankirtana. This pastime of Mahaprabhu enjoying and participating in sankirtana was beyond the comprehension of even Lord Brahma and other demigods. The audience was enchanted by the beautiful dresses and graceful gestrues of those divine beings. In the midst of the sankirtana they danced gracefully in time with the increasing beat of the musical instruments. Mahaprabhu's indescribable dance in that kirtana seemed to shower love throughout the world. Shri Nityananda's dance caused the world to tremble while Shri Advaita Candra danced like a mad lion and roared in joy. Pandita Gadadhara danced jovially with Shrinivasa. The joyful dancing of Shrivasa Pandita, Murari Gupta, Vakresvara, Haridasa Thkaura, Svarupa Gosvami, Dasa Gadadhara, Rai Ramananda, Vasudeva Sarvabhauma and Vidya Vachaspati lifted the people out of their sorrows and miseries. Acyuta Nanda danced with tears of joy flowing from his eyes while the dance of Mukunda, Shri Narahari, Shri Raghunandana, Gauridasa Pandita, Shripati, Shri NIdhi, Govinda, Madhava and Vasu Ghosh enchanted the world. Hundreds and thousand of people participated in that dance including Mukunda, Shri Acarya Pundara, Vasudeva Dutta, Brahmacari Suklambara, Shriman Pandita, Yadu, Shri Mukunda Dutta, Shri Madhusudana, Shri Natha, Mahesa, Shridhara, Sankara, Jagadish, Shri Yadunandana, Kasiwara, Shri Raghunatha Bhatta, Rupa, Sanatana, Shri Nakula Brahmacari, Dhanajaya, Vipra Vaninatha, Sikhi, Kanai, Vijaya, Suryadasa, Shri Nrsimha, Hrdaya Chaitanya, Syamananda, Shrinivasa, Shri Narottama and others. Even the demigods and Gandharvas danced with them.
Gaurachandra loves his disciples and thus he fulfilled the desires of Shrinivasa and Narottama by appearing before them during the sankirtana. When he embraced Shrinivasa and Narottama he softly told them something confidential which others could not hear. Then Mahaprabhu and his companions disappeared, leaving his disciples in utter despair. Their pitiful lamentation broke the hearts of all who witness the scene.
The sudden appearance and disappearance of Mahaprabhu within that sankirtana created a sense of despair amongst the entire audience. Upon the disappearnce of the Lord, people were struck by the reality of their miserable lives and in disappointment they lamented piteously. One person cried out for mahaprabhu while another looked everywhere, trying to find Shri Advaita or Nityananda. Someone else longed for another sight of Shri Pandita Gadadhara while still another asked for Haridasa and Vakresvara. One person called out for Shrivasa and Murari while another asked about Shri Mukunda and Narahari. One devotee wanted to see Gauridasa and Gadadhara while another looked for Shri Svarupa Damodara. At last they all abandoned hope, rolling on the ground and crying loudly because they would never see Mahaprabhu and his companions again. Tears flowed so profusely that the ground became muddy. Even heretics who had come to the sankirtana only for fun also began to cry. Lifting their hands high in the air, they prayed to Mahaprabhu to protect them from sin and misery.
When Shripati, Shrinivasa and others regained their external senses they could not believe that they had actually enjoyed the association of the Lord. The people in the audience were also amazed by the vision they had seen. Shrinivasa and Narottama explained to them that they had been witness to another lila of Mahaprabhu and that the Lord's pastimes are always beyond the comprehension of the laymen. Shri Jahnava Iswari confirmed this by saying that Mahaprabhu had fulfilled the great desires of his beloved devotees and Narottama by appearing in living form during their sankirtana. By this appearance Mahaprabhu had delivered many heretics from sin and damnation and lifted mankind out of its ocean of sorrow.
Jahnava Iswari ordered Shrinivasa Acarya to inaugurate the Fagukhela program. Shrinivasa at once brought different kinds of faga, put them into different containers and mixed them with perfumes. On the request of Shri Iswari Shrinivasa and Narottama first approached the mahantas for prmission to begin the Fagukhela program. Having received their permission Shrinivasa first put fagu in different utensils keeping the faga made of the pollen of flowers in a separate container, and offered both of the kinds of faga to Shri Isvari. She took the containers and offered them at the feet of Mahaprabhu. Thereafter all the devotees enthusastically played with the faga. Some of them smeared faga on the body of Mahaprabhu and could not look away from his beauty. They offered faga to Shri Vallabhi Kanta, Shri Vraja Mohan, Shri Radha Krishna, Shri Radha Kanta and Shri Radha raman and then were overwhelmed by the deity of the deities. The Vaishnavas themselves became beautiful as they smeared faga on one another until their bodies were bright and colorful. As they played someone sang songs of the fagukhela of Radha and Krishna. By the wish of Mahaprabhu the Fagukhela was an enjoyable festival in which the demigods mignled with the devotees in order to take part.
In the evening the Fagukhela ended and the devotees offered lamps to the deities and then held sankirtana. Thereafter the great Vaishnavas took their seats in the courtyard of Mahaprabhu's temple and requested Shri Acarya to perform the rituals of the birthday ceremony of Mahaprabhu. Shrinivasa bowed to them and gladly entered the temple where the preists enthustically arranged for the necessary ingredients for the function.
In individual utensils they placed many medicinal things and gave them to Shri Acarya. Acarya Thakura carefully removed the dress of Shri Gauranga, covered the Lord's body with a white cloth and placed him on another throne. Certain scriptuaral injunctions exist in observing the birthday ceremony of Shri Krishna and those same injunctions were observed in honoring Gauranga for Gauranga and Krishna are the same Supreme Personality but in separate forms.
As the ceremony commenced the brahmins recited hymns from the Vedas and the chronicles sang about the character of Mahaprabhu. Singers from different countries sang songs describing the Nadia Vihara of Mahaprabhu. Instrumentalists played their respective instruments and dancers accompanied the songs. Whoever observed the ceremony was very fortunate.
Some people said that the day of Phalgun Punima was so auspicious that whoever observed the holy day would certainly get the mercy of Gaura candra. Other people acknowledged with astonishment that Kheturi was lit brillantly by the rays of the moon. Still others said that the moon personified had come to enjoy the speicial function. Still others felt that the companions of Mahaprabhu were themselves as briallant as the moon. Although the official rituals came to an end, the great Vaishnavas continued their kirtana and thus passed the entire night.
At last their kirtana ended and they observed the mangala aratika of Mahaprabhu. Then, in their own houses, they performed their routine morning duties such as personal bathing and religious prayers. Shri Jahnava Isvari also finished her bathing and her morning prayers and feeling fully satisfied she enthusiastically cooked many foodstuffs and offered each to Gauranga, Vallabhi Kanta and the other deities. Shrinvasa invited the mahantas to observe the arati for the deities, and all of the deities assembled in the courtyard of the Shri Gauranga Mandir. They were enchanted by the beauty of the Lord, his attractive posture, the tilaka on his forehead, arms and chest and his beautiful new clothes. Their eyes were soothed by darshan of the Lord. After the aratika the priest offered tulasi garlands from Mahaprabhu to each of the mahantas. They priests then took Mahaprabhu to his bed to rest and fanned him with a camara. When the Lord was resting, The priests came out of the temple and closed the door behind him. The Mahantas paid their respects to Mahaprabhu, while Shrinivasa and Narottama paid their respects to the great mahantas.
Shri Jahnava distributes Maha prasad
Shri Jahnava instructed Shri Madhava to invite the Mahantas to take their seats and enjoy mahaprasad. Shri Acyuta, Shripati and others happily agreed to Madhava's polite request and Shri Iswari distributed mahaprasad to them with her own hands. They all appreciated the excellent preparations made by Shri Isvari and ate them with great pleasure. After washing their hands and mouths the mahantas went to their personal resting places. Then Shri Isvari affectionately distributed prasad to Shrinivasa and others, and when they had finished she also ate some mahaprasad. In addition she fed many people of Kheturi. In this way the great Vaishnavas passed the night of Prapapida and decided to leave for their respective homes on the day of Dwaraka. On the eve of the day of Dwarka Shrinivasa requested the mahantas to cook in their places for it was the desire of Santosh Dutta to serve them. They gladly cooked various items of delicious food and offered them to Lord Krishna. Then they happily ate that food. Santosh Dutta was a fortunate person for everyone accepted his food and appreciated his food in many ways.
Thereafter the great mahantas decided to return to their own homes. Shri Jahnava Iswari said that she would first go to her home and then continue on to Vrndavana. At the time of departure, a very pathetic atmosphere enveloped Kheturi. Shri Isvari could not control her grief and wept miserably. The companions of the Lord took their last darshan of Vallabhi Kanta, Gauranga and the other deities and then parted with tears in their eyes. The unhappy people of Kheturi followed them for some distance, crying miserably. Shrinivasa, Narottama, Ramacandara, Symamananda and Santosh were very sorry to see the great Vaishnavas leave and they lost control of their emotions. A great crowd gathered at the bank of the Padmavati and the mahantas quickly boarded their boats. They crossed the river, spent that night at Budhari and then continued their journey in the morning.
Shri Jahnava goes to Vrndavana from Kheturi
Shrinivasa Acarya, Shri Jahnava Isvari and other devotees followed the mahantas to the bank of the Padmavati and them returned to the village of Kheturi. Shri Isvari announced that she would leave for Vrndavana and then consoled those who lamented. Shri Santosh Dutta provided whatever essential items Shri Isvari required for her tour to Vrndavana. The devotees who left with Shri Isvari were Krishnadasa Sarkhela, Madhava Acarya, Murari Chaitanya, Krishnadasa Vipravarja, Nrsimha Chaitanya, Balarama, Muridhar, Kanai, Nakari Dasa, Gauranga Sundara, Shri Paramesvarai dasa, Dasa Damodara, Raghupati Vidya, Uppadhai Manohara, Gyanadasa, Mukunda dasa and others. Govinda dasa and others also accompanied her on the order of Shri Acarya. She assured Shrinivasa that she would return to Kheturi and only by the wish of Mahaprabhu could the devotees check themselves at the time of her departure. They returned patiently to their houses. as soon as they saw the courtyard of Shri Gauranga Mandir and remembered that Mahaprabhu and his favorite associates had appeared there in living form to take part in the sankirtana, Shrinivasa and Narottama were suddenly transformed and in their happiness they forgot their grief over the separation of the devotees. They glorified the name of that courtyard and they glorified the Kheturi village which had become the center of devotion because of the presence of Mahaprabhu and his followers, the presence of the mahantas and Vaishnavas and the presence of the devoted people of the village. They enthusiastically absorbed themselves in kirtana, filling the atmosphere with divine joy.
The departure of Shrinivasa Acarya Prabhu
One day Shrinivasa gently informed Narottama that he had decided to go to Budhari the next morning with Syamananda. They would cross the river Padmavati and he would accompany Syamananda to Jajigrama. From Jajigrama he would go on to Vishnupura and later return again to Jajigrama. From Vishnupura he would send a letter to Narottama who in reply would send him a reply with news of Shri Isvari. Shrinivasa advised Narottama to accompany Shri Isvari on her journey to Vrndavana.
After observing the Mangala aratika the next morning, Shrinivasa prepared for this journey. He crossed the river Padmavati and went to Budhari where he met Ramacandra Thakura. Ramacandra lived there in an unhappy state of mind but he absrbed in name sankirtana to minimize his unhappiness and in so doing he converted many heretics. By his association there character improved and they obtained devotion at the feet of Shri Gauranga. Dasa takes pleasure in completing the tenth chapter of his book Bhaktiratnakara by glorifying the name of Shrinivasa Acarya.