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All glories to Bhaktavatsala Gaurachandra Prabhu. All glories to Nityananda the resort of the helpless. All glories to Shri Advaita Candra who is loved by everyone. All glories to Gadadhara, Shrivasa Pandita, and Rupa-Sanatana. All glories to Lokenatha, Gopala, Shrinivasa, Narottama and Ramacandra. All glories to the companions of Shri Gaurachandra and to the listeners of Bhaktiratnakara.
Now I will begin a new narration. Before long the grand festival of Kheturi was glorified throughout the universe. Whoever attended the festival returned to his own home. The people of Kheturi felt fortunate becasue they had the association of the graet mahantas. Daily they enjoyed the beauty of the deities Gauranga, Vallabhi Kanta and the others and regularly brought offering for their worship. Narottama carefully explained the glory of the courtyard of the Gauranga mandir to everyone who visited the place regularly. The courtyard was always dusty becasue of the hundreds of pilgrims who passed through there daily.
Narottama passed his time composing songs, singing, dancing and accompanying his own songs with various musical instruments.
Shri Radha and Krishna hear the kirtana of Shri Narottama
Narottama remained always absorbed in sankirtana with his favorite associates Ramacandra, Gokula and others. On the day of the full moon Narottama began the kirtana by playing various musical instruments and then broke into song glorifying the rasa lila of Radha and Krishna. Even the demigods were enchanted by this beautiful kirtana.
Suddenly the entire enviroment became effulgent like a cloud struck by lightning. A sweet scent gently filled the air and the sound of Nipura could be heard. When the sound of those nipura's faded away, Narottama, Ramacandra, Devidasa, Gokula and others fell on the ground unconscious. They rose up crying out of disappointment and grief and then fainted again on the ground. They all realised that Shri Radha Krishna had appeared there simply to hear their sweet kirtana. By the wish of Krishna they gradually controlled their emotions.
Shri Jahnava travels to Vrndavana
As an ingorant person I am unable to perfectly describe the devotional qualities of Shri Jahnava Devi, yet I will describe what I have heard from others.
While travelling to Vrndavana Shri Jahnava passed through a large village and wanted to stop there for sometime, but she heard that the village was the residence of many heretics who continually harassed the Vaishnavas. That evening the Bhagavatas of the village came forward to meet Shri Iswari and bowed at her feet while the hertics gathered around criticising that the Vaishnavas had no knowledge and therefore they bowed to a human being instead of worshipping demigods.
One villager thought that perhaps the Vaishnavas bowed to her thinking she was the personification of Goddess Candi. "What do these Vaishnavas know of the grace of Shri Candi!" said another villager in rebuttle. The simple villagers felt they might have offended Shri Candi by comparing her to Shri Isvari so they went immediately to the temple of Shri Candi and prayed that she might kill the foolish Vaishnavas. Then they all returned to their houses and went to sleep.
Goddess candi, however, became angry not with the Vaishnavas but with the foolish heretics and her eyes grew red while her lips quivered in anger. Carrying a sharp falchilm, she appeared in the dream of each of those villagers and addressed them angrily, "you are wicked, heretical, and proud and you have deliberately insulted the Parama Bhagavatas," said the Goddess. She raised her falchilm to kill each heretic, simultaneously chastising him for considering Shri Isvari an ordinary brahmin woman. Shri Isvari was the wife of Nityananda who was himslef the incarnation of Balarama and was to be worshipped by the whole universe and even by Shri Candi herself. Jahnava Isvari was competent to carry the living entities over their miseries and fears of this world. She was the personification of love and kindness and had no interest but showing mercy onthe living entities. She warned them that if they did not try to get the mercy of Shri Jahnava Isvari, then her mighty falchulm would send them to eternal damnation. In a roaring fury Goddess Candi spoke to the village people and then disappeared.
They awoke at once from their sleep and they shivered in fear as they realised their dangerous situation. When morning arrived they went straight to meet the mahantas carrying deep remorse within their hearts. Soaked by their own tears of self-condemination, the villagers fell at the feet of the mahantas and prayed for forgivness. They wanted the mercy of the mahantas, knowing that if the mahantas forgave them surely Shri Isvari would also forgive them. They admitted their guilt and prayed for an oppotunity to take shelter of her feet. Observing their humble and repentant mood, the mahanta Prabhus fogave them and Shri Isvari also accepted them.
She remained two to four days in that village after the blessing of the heretics and then resumed her journey. The heretics had been transformed into devotees.
A similar incident occured when she decided to stay in another village. She was camped on the bank of the river near that village when she was sighted by two indomitable bandits who felt that she must be carrying various valuable jewels and other possessions. Deciding to rob her they prepared many weapons and sent one of their men to find out everything about her camp. The spy reported that after finishing namakirtana she and her followers had all fallen asleep.
During the second half of the night the leader of the gang of
bandits took many men and weapons and ran towards the camp. Somehow the short distance he had to cover could not be crossed as it continually grew further and further to the camp where they were sleeping. Because of their wicked desires they could not understand what was happening. The distance to the camp became so far that the bandits spent the whole night running and when dawn was breaking they became frightened. The leader of the gang was quite confused as they had run the entire night but were in their original place in the morning. He thought he had reached the spot and seen the woman but it was only imaginary. They had run the entire night but accomplished nothing.
The leader of the bandits had the dire premonition that a serious misfortune awaited them because of the wrath of that Gauriya Gosvami. Out of fear he decided that he would give up dacoity from that very day and he advised his men to do the same he knew that he had comitted sinful activities throughout his life and he would have to suffer substansial punsihment in hell. He adivsed his men to approach that Vaisnav woman and request her mercy.
They took off their bandit's clothing and humbly approached Shri Isvari. As they came before the mahantas their minds became completely transformed. They prostrated themselves on her feet and cried for mercy. Shri Isvari immediately forgave them and blessed them and the news of her mercy towards the dacoits spread far and wide.
Mathura visit of Shri Isvari
After some days they entered Mathura and were delighted to see the beauty of the city. After offering obeisances to the brahmanas of Mathura, Shri Isvari and her associates went to Vishrama ghata to bathe in the Jamuna. When the devotees of Mathura learned that Shri Isvari had arrived they came forward to meet her. They mahantas and Isvari were happy to meet them, and the devotees of Mathura cried in joy. Whoever saw the meeting of the devotees felt very fortunate to witness such a sweet relationship. The Mathura brahmanas immediately sent a message to Vrndavana announcing the arrival of Shri Isvari and then they escorted her to a beautiful house where whe rested for the duration of the day.
Shri Isvari visits Vrndavana
Shri Jahnava visited the Mathura temples of Varaha and Kesava deva and left the next morning for Vrndavana. The Vaishnavas of Mathura accompanied Shri Jahnava on her journey to Vrndavana, while the Gosvamis of Vrndavana came forward to meet her. It was near the holy place of Akara that they finally met. When Shri Jahnava saw the Vrndavana Vaishnavas approaching she asked Shri Paramesvara dasa their names. Shri Paramesvara dasa pointed out Shri Gopala Bhatta, Shri Bhugarva, Lokenatha, Krishnadasa Brahmacari, Krishna Pandita, Madhu Pandita and Shri Jiva. He told not only names but the desigination of each of the Vaishnavas. The Gosvamis bowed at he feet of Jahnava and a very transcendental of the Vaishnavas of Mathura insued. Shri Paramesvari introduced the disciples of Shri Acarya to the Gosvamis. He introduced Shri Govinda, the devout Vaishnava son of Ciranjiva Sena of Khanda and brother of Ramacandra Kaviraja, to the Vrndavana Gosvamis. Shri Gopala Bhatta and other gladly embraced him, and they were also pleased to meet Bhagavan Kaviraja and other devotees.
Then they took Shri Isvari and her followers to the place of Akrura and the temple of Shri Gopinatha. Shri Jiva told Jahnava Isvari that the place of Akrura was very lonely and therefore Mahaprabhu had often come here to avoid the crowd and peacefully beg alms. Shri Isvari sighed deeply and wept as she knelt before the holy place and payed her respects. From there she entered Vrndavana.
Shri Jiva had already selected a beautiful house for her and he took her there with her follwers. After their worship fo Shri Govinda, Gopinatha and Madan Mohana, the Vaishnavas came to visit Shri Isvari at her house. The residents of Vrndavana also came in ahuge crowd to meet her. While she spoke privately with Gopala Bhatta, Lokenatha and others, Shri Jiva waited patiently to meet her. When she expressed the desired to visit the temples of Vrndavana they gladly took her to Shri Govinda, Gopinatha, Madan Mohana, Shri Radha Vinoda, Shri Radha raman and Shri Radha Damodara.
She was enchanted by the beauty of the deities and offered them many ornaments and new dresses which she had brought with her from Gauda.
Shri Govinda recieves the title Kaviraja
When Shri Isvari and her followers returned to her house, she rquested them to take rest. They all began to discuss the many incidents which had occurred during their travels and they described the grand festival of Kheturi to Shri Madhva Acarya, Lokenatha and others who were all happy to hear it. Then Shri Paramesvari Dasa requested the Gosvamis to listen to the verses composed by Shri Govinda. They all gladly accepted the proposal but were overwhelmed with the sweet and wonderful music composed and sung by Shri Govinda. Their appreciation of his music was so great that they unamiously offered him the title Kaviraja because of his creative ability. They predicted that he would be famous throughout the world as Govinda Kaviraja. Shri Isvari was most satisfied by this.
Shri Isvari visits Radha kunda
Shridasa Gosvami lived at Radhakunda when Shri Isvari arrived in Vrndavana and although he wanted to meet her he did not have the strength to walk to Vrndavana. Since the disappearance of Shri Rupa, Dasa Gosvami had given up eating and drinking water and was thus emaciated and weak. He passed his days miserably, hoping only to leave this world. Krishnadasa Kaviraja wanted the Vrndavana Gosvamis to meet Dasa Gosvami and therefore Gopala and Raghava Pandita went from Nandeswara and Govardhana to meet Shri Isvari about he condition of Dasa Gosvami. Shri Jahnava Isvari was sorry to hear his condition and told Gopala Bhatta and others that the next morning she would visit Radha Kunda. The Gosvamis advised her to return early after ther visit to Radha Kunda. She should also rest and visit the various forests of Vrndavana. The next morning Shri Isvari and the Gosvamis started for Radha Kunda through the Bahula forests. She was enchanted by the beauty of Radha Kunda but in her mind, the deisre to meet Shridasa Gosvami was foremost.
Shridasa Gosvami lived in a lonely place and engaged himself in continuosuly chanting the holy name. Krishnadasa Gosvami went in advance to meet Dasa Gosvami and interrupted his kirtana to tell him that Shri Isvari was on her way. With an emotional surge he jumped up and went to receive Shri Jahnava. Jahnava saw that although his body was emaciated, Dasa Gosvami was as effulgent as the sun, and she began to cry spontaneously. Dasa Gosvami bowed at her feet and then met Shri Madhava Acarya and Jahnava's other associates. They all wept uncontrablly. The Vrajabasis of Arit village were happy to meet Shri Isvari. She stayed at Radha Kunda for three or four days and every day she cooked various items and offered them to Lord Krishna then she happily distributed the food to all the Vrajabasis of the area.
The miracle seen by Shri Isvari at Radha Kunda
One day at noon Shri Isvari heard the sound of a flute on the bank of the kunda and she restlessly looked in all directions. Suddenly she saw Shyamala Shyama standing beneath a kadamba tree in a pose so beautiful that kandarpa himself would be attracted. Shyama was smiling and playing his flute while Shri Radha, Sr Lalita and there other confidants stood around. Unfortunately Shri Isvari got only a brief vision of Radha and Shyamasundar because she fainted on the ground in emotional ecstasy. She regained her senses but she did not discuss this incident with anyone.
Shri Isvari returns to Vrndavana
Shri Jahnava informed Shri Dasa Gosvami that she wanted to visit Govardhana and other holy places, and the old Vaishnava bowed at her feet and gave his humble permission for his to begin her journey. First Jahnava and her followers went to Govardhana from Radha Kunda. They saw Shri Govardhana, Mana Saganga, Nandagrama and other holy places. Jahnava, Madhava Acarya, and the other Vaishnavas became so overwhelmed by visiting the holy places that they lost their compousre. Shri Jiva pacified them all and after sometime they returned to Vrndavana.
In Vrndavana they first visited the temples of Shri Govinda, Radha Vinod and Shri Radha Raman and then returned to their houses. From time to time Shri Isvari cooked for Shri Govinda or sometimes for Shri Gopinatha. Sometimes she cooked for Madan Mohana and other times for Radha Damodara. Shri Radha raman or Shri Radha Vinod. She always distribute prasad to the Vaishnavas of Vrndavana.
Shri Isvari roams in the forest of Vrndavana
Shri Isvari wanted to hear Shri Jiva read his book Shri Vrihad Bhagavatamrita, and for her pleasure she read it. After a few days she began to visit the forests of Vrndavana. She visited Madhutala, Kumuda, Bahula, Kamyavana, Khadara, Bhadra, Bandara, Sree, Lauha kanana, Mahavana and other parts of Vrndavana. Cherishing a secret hope Shri Isvari went to the side of Govardhana and as she wandered through the lonely places she remembered Krishna and Balarama and their spring time pastimes with the Gopis. When she reached Vasana vihara she lost control of her emotions. Suddenly she saw the Vanasta rasa and the pastimes of the two brothers with the gopis. Both Rohini Nandana and Yasoda Nandana were playing with faga with the Gopis but as soon as Shri Isvari saw them she fainted out of ecstasy. When she regained her senses she did not tell anyone about her vision. It was her own private joy to observe her dearest husband in his pastime at Ramaghata. When she absorbed her mind in thoughts of the rasa lila of Balarama she suddenly visualised that rasa vilasa and actually saw Shri Rama sporting with the Gopis. When she saw their sweet singing and dancing Shri Isvari emotions took control and she again fainted on the ground. When she regained her senses she searched everywhere for her Lord but she did not speak to anyone about this incident.
From Ramaghata she and he followers entered a village on the bank of the Jamuna within that village lived a simple minded brahmin who had obtained a son in his very old son. Unfortunately the boy had died in early childhood and his parents lamented bitterly. Jahnava Isvari could not tolerate theri continuous crying and her heart softened in kindness towards them. She wanted to touch the dead child but the brahmin's wife forbid her. Jahnava told the mother that since they were Vjajbasis sh would be purified by touching the child even though it was dead. When Jahnava caressed the head of the dead child with her hand, he at once regained his life and looked around him. The child bowed at the feet of Shri Isvari and then stood up. The parents of the child and other villagers were all astonsihed by the miracle and they bowed at the feet of Jahnava Isvari thanking her in various ways. Jahnava assured them that she had nothing to do with the miracle but that Krishna himself had restored the boy's life because of the grief of the parents. Shri Jahnava displayed this same kindness at various times and places and ultimately she and her followers returned to Vrndavana.
Shri Isvari receives an order from Radha Gopinatha.
Remembering the order of Prabhu in Khardaha Shri Jahnava decided to return to Gauda without delay. In preparation for her departure she went to the temple of Shri Gopinatha but during her darshana she thought that Shri Radha would be more beautiful if she were a little taller. The thought passed her mind but she did not speak it. She observed the sayana arati and then returned to her house and fell asleep. In her dream that night Gopinatha appeared and told Shri Jahnava that because Shri Radhika was not the same size as himself, he felt it certainly looked odd. He ordered her to arrange for a new deity of Shri Radha when she returned to Gauda. The new deity will be placed on his left side. In the dream Shri Radhika appeared with Gopinatha and assured Jahnava that it was also her wish that the new deity be made and that Jahnava should feel no hesitation in carrying the Lord's order. Then Radha and Gopinatha disappeared and Shri Isvari awoke. She was very happy when she remebered her dream and in the morning she called for Nayana, a sculptor, to build a new deity of Radhika. Nayana at once understood the order of Isvari and began to design the new deity. Shri Isvari kept these activities and did not discuss them with anyone.
Shri Isvari plans her return to Gauda
The Gosvamis fixed a date for Shri Isvari's return to Gauda mandir and Vaishnavas from all areas gathered to bid her farewell. Shri Jahnava wept contiunously during her final darshan of Shri Govinda, Gopinatha, Madan Mohan, Radha Vinod, Radha Damodara and Radha Raman. She also visited the temples of Gopiswara, Vindadevi and others in different parts of Vrndavana. She visited the tombs of Raghunatha Bhatta, Pandita Kasivara, Shri Sanatana and Rupa where she cried sadly. She also visited the tomb of Gauridasa Pandita. No one knew what vision she had there but suddenly she spoke something confidential to Baru Gangadasa and thereafter she was able to control her emotions.
Some information on Baru Gangadasa
Shri Jahnava's mother was Bhadravati who was the wife of Surya dasa. Gangadasa was the son of her elder sister. He was a devout disciple of Gauridasa Pandita. The worldly disappearance of Gauridasa was followed by the disapperance of his foremost disciple. At that time Gangadasa got an order from Gangadasa Pandita in a dream that he should go at once to Vrndavana. Gangadasa went immediately an took shelter at Shri Dhira Samara where his guru had lived. Gangadasa engaged sincerely in the worship of Gauridasa in that holy place. Gangadasa had eagerly come forward to meet Jahnava devi when she arrived in Vrndavana, and when Jahnava was leaving she received deities of Radha and Krishna as a gift and she left them in the care of Baru Gangadasa. She showed much favor towrd Gangadasa and assured him that he could go with her.
The Gosvamis were all disappointed when they learnt that Shri Isvari would leave for Gauda the following morning. Shri Govinda Kaviraja and his friends met Gopala Bhatta who embraced them affectionately. Lokenatha Gosvami affectionately Shri Govinda Kaviraja in different ways and also sent a message to Narottama encouraging him to worship and serve Shri Vigraha very carefully while employing all hs strength, thought and speech in the service of the Vaishnavas. Lokenatha advised Narottama to observe the auspicious days associated with Vishnu and the Vaishnavas and to remain contiunously absorbed in devotion and prayer with Ramacandra Kaviraja. He also requested Govinda to report to Shrinivasa all the incidents which had occurred during Jahnava's visit. Shri Jiva also affectionately met Govinda Kaviraja and requested to take news to Shrinivasa. Shri Jiva ordered to send his book Gitamrita and other new books which he might write and in return Shri Jiva would send letters. Gopala Bhatta gave Govinda the book Vrindavali which he had written in a dream according to the order of Shri Rupa.
Krishnadasa Kaviraja, Bhagavan Kaviraja and others all affectionately embraced Govinda and they passed that day rather sadly. In the morning they all met Shri Jahnava Isvari and lamented duely at the time of separation. Shri Isvari started for Gauda surrounded by many great Bhagavatas. When they reached the place of Akrura she forbid them to come any further and asked them all to return to Vrndavana. With tears in their eyes Shri Bhatta Gosvami and others bid her farewell. Shri Jiva Gosvami and some of his associates refused to leave her and accompanied her as far as Mathura where they rested for the duration of that day.
Shri Jahnava visits Kheturi
At last Shri Isvari bid farewell to Shri Jiva in Mathura and started for Gaurmandala. Somedays later she reached Gauda and went straight to Kheturi. Ramacandra, Narottama and others happily came forward to receive her. Theyr prostrated themselves on the ground before Shri Isvari and also bowed to the other Mahantas. Shri Santosh Dutta and others bowed at he feet of Ramacandra and Narottama as did Shri Govinda Kaviraja. Surrounded by the Bhagavatas Shri Isvari entered Kheturi.
They first vistied the courtyard of th Gauranga mandir and by observing the beautiful deity of Mahaprabhu their hearts were pacified. Then each devotees went to the particular house which had been arranged for him by Narottama. Shri Santosh Rai had arranged for all necessary items and had appointed numerous servants to care for the visiting Vaishnavas. Shri Thakura Mahasaya and Ramacandra requested the guests to complete their baths and personal duties because Santosh had a plan for them. Shri Isvari and the mahantas completed their baths and felt refreshed. Then Santosh offered new clothes which had been freshly washed and dried to each mahanta. Each devotee gladly accepted the new clothes and thereafter decorated their bodied with tilaka in eight places. Shri Jahnava Isvari took her bath in a private place and the brahmin maidservant of Shri Isvari brought her a new dress from Santosh. Santosh Durra felt very fortunate because Shri Isvari had accepted the new cloth from him. Narottama and Ramacandra then came to Isvari's place to accompany her to the temple of Syama Rai. Balu Gangadasa completed his service to Syama rai and went forward to meet Shri Isvari. Shri Isvari observed the beauty of Syama Rai for a long time and then returned to her house with Narottama and Ramacandra. The priest of the temple of Mahaprabhu brought many types of mahaprasad for them and Shri Isvari first fed the mahantas and then ate something herself.
Shri Isvari's conversation with Narottama
Shri Isvari narrated all the incidents which occured in Vrndavana to Narottama and Ramacandra. She also inquired from them about the well being of the devotees of Gauda. Unfortunately Narottama could not reply to her question; he could only cry. Ramacandra then explained that over a very short period some of the beloved disciples of Mahaprabhu had disappared from the world. Those who remained alive kept themselves in complete seclusion from other people. Shri Isvari commetned anxiously that if this was the condition in Kheturi things must be worse throughout Gauda. Did the Lord want to fill the world with darkness? Then she wept sadly.
In the evening the Vaishnavas all assembled in the courtyard of Gauranga Mandir to observe the Sandhya Aratika. When the nama sankirtana their sorrows were somewhat mitigated. They passed one sixth of the night in sankirtana and thn returne to their houses. Ramacandra brought them Maha prasad and although they had no appetite they ate it gladly. Shri Isvari drank a glass of milk. Because they were tired from their long journey, they all went to bed.
Narottama and Ramacandra returned to theri houses and Shri Govinda Kaviraja took that opportunity to report the various messages the Gosvamis of Vrndavana had given him for Narottama. He had carefully carried the book Gopala Virulavali from Vrndavana and he dutifully handed it over to Narottama who in turn gave it to Ramacandra. Narottama thereafter sent letters to Khardaha and Jajigrama relating all the incidents associated with Shri Isvari's trip to Vrndavana.
Shri Jahnava Devi stayed in Kheturi for three to four days. Shri Govinda Kaviraja and some of his associates went to Budhari in advance, for Shri Isvari planned to leave the next morning with Narottama and Ramacandra.
After finishing her routine morning duties Shri Isvari went to the courtyard of the Gauranga temple and observed Shri Gauranga, Vallabhi Kanta and the other deities and offered her respectful obeisances. The mahantas also took leave of the deities. Narottama and Ramacandra gave instructions about who would care for the deities in their absence. Shri Santosh brought many gifts for Jahnava devi and she thereafter left Kheturi and the bank of Padmavati. Shri Isvari crossed the river and was met by a huge crowd that had come from Budhari to receive her. She blessed the people affectionately and then went to her house. Vansidasa and others busied themselves in household duties. Shri Isvari smilingly told Syama dasa Cakravarti, the brother of Shri Vamsi, that he would have to fulfil a desire of hers. Syamadasa did not reply but left immediately and went to his house. He was an ordinary man and he brooded over her statement; what did he possess to fulfil her request. He fell asleep thinking about his predicment and in his dream he got the instruction to give his daughter in marriage to Baru Gangadasa. Within his dream he gladly gave her and the Vaishnavas appreciated her for that. When he woke up he was so perturbed that although it was early morning he went immediately to Shri Isvari and told her everything that had occured in the dream. Shri Jahnava was very happy and at one took reponsibility for the marriage.
Shri Isvari called Gangadasa and told him that he should marry the daughter of Syamadasa. All the arrangements had been completed and today he should marry her without any hesitation. Gangadasa had no desire to marry yet he could not disobey the order of Shri Isvari and he felt quite disturbed.
The daughter of Syamadasa Cakravarti was Hemalata, a girl with a sweet disposition and a fair complexion. Bala Gangadasa was also a nice looking man who was a great devotee with an effulgent presence. On that day he married Hemalata. After the marriage Shri Isvari gave custody of the deity Syama Rai to Gangadasa but Gangadasa was again anxious for he did not know how he would arrange the bhoga offerings for the deity. Syama Rai himself appeared in Gangadasa's dream and assured him that he would accept anything his devotee could arrange. Gangadasa told Isvari about his dream and happily arranged bhoga for the Lord. In this way Bara Gangadasa dedicted himself to the service of Syama Rai.
Shri Isvari visits Ekchakra
After the wedding Shri Isvari, Narottama, Ramacandra and Govinda left Budhari and headed for Ekchakra in Radhadesha. When Shri Isvari saw Ekchakra in the far distance she felt the surge of emotion. Even Krishnadasa Sarkhela, Gauranga Sundara, Madhava Acarya, Balarama, Mahidahara, Murari, Chaitanya, Krishnadasa, Nrsimha, Shri Kanai, Damodara, Raghupati Vaidya, Upaddhaya Manohara, Shri Paramesvari Dasa, Shri Nakari Dasa, Shri Mukunda and others began to cry with emotion. The road on which the pilgrims travelled was shaded by peepel trees and the deep cool shadows and the breeze through the trees mitigated the fatigue of the travellers. As they passed along that pleasant road Shri Isvari and the others suddenly felt very happy but they could not understand why. In their joyful state of mind they met a brahmin on the way to Ekchakra. He was very old and he walked with the aid of a stick. He approached them slowly and then waited under a tree looking here and there wondering where all the Vaishnavas had come from, although he did not ask them anything the Vaishnavas bowed to him and asked him to take his seat beneath the tree. They polietly inquired from him why Ekchakra seemed to be only ruins although they had heard it was a large town. What was the cause of the decay? The brahmin relpied that it was certainly true that Ekchakra had been famous place for a long time. It had originally been the home of the Pandavas where they had killed many wicked raksas and asuryas. It had also become a famous place of pilgrimage because of its many deities and temples. The temple of Ekchakra Siva with Paravati had been here and many other deities such as Ganesh had been worshipped here but due to the influence of Kali the deities had all gone to the bottom of the river. Previously the river had been very wide and was lined on both sides by trees, plants and flowering creepers. There had also beeb bees, butterflies and various kinds of singing birds as well as non violent animals in the forest. No one knew who originally established the village of Ekchakra but within its precients the four castes of Hindu society and lived peacefully.
Previously the village was inhabitated by wealthy people who had devotional and religious leanings. They were also scholars of different sastras who studied and taught here. Amongst these scholars was a great astrologer who had prophecied that Ekchakra village would be the residence of God himself for Lord Balarama would appear there. They astrologer lamented that his own life would be too short and he would not be able to see the appearance of the Lord. Many other astrologers examined his evidence and agreed with hs conclusion.
Shri Nityananda's family
In Ekchakra lived a pious brahmin who was famous because of his title `Ojha'. He was a wealthy man but had affection for his Yajamanas on whose behalf he performed his worship. His wife was a lady of sweet disposition but she was unhappy because she had no child although she was able to bear children. Each of her children died at the time of birth.
At last she got a son who was born at a very auspicious moment. The Ojha felt both happy and sad simultaneously and dedicated his only son to the mercy of Paravati Sankara. He and his wife analysed the fate of their son and out of dissatisfaction they named him Haro. But others in the village kept different sweet names for the child and would often visit the Ojha's house to see the nice child. Day by day the child grew into a beautiful boy.
Ojha performed the ceremony which celebrates the time that a Hindu child can take rice for the first time and other social ceremonies as the child grew and grew. When it was time for the boy to get married his father selected a girl for him from a nearby village. Padmavati was the name of the bride and she was equal to the bridegroom in every way. A few dasy after the marriage Ojha and his wife disappeared from the world. Haro was overwhelmed by the absence of his parents and he spent a deal of money performing the funeral rites for his parents. Haro Ojha gradually became a respected scholar in all Sastras and eventually got the title Harai Pandita. He was a devout Vaishnava and a scholar in Vishnu Bhakti tattva. His wife was also a devoted Vaisnavi and the villagers came to respect the couple for their sincere worship of Lord Vishnu.
The Birth of Nityananda Prabhu
Harai Pandita was very happy when he heard that his wife Parvati was pregnant. She gave birth to a beautiful child on a auspicious day and the religious minded ladies of the village came to see the child and bless him. Each gave a different opinion of the child. One woman questioned whether the child was actually a boy or a doll made of golden butter. Another woman commented that she had never seen a child who could cool both the eyes and the heart. Everyday a crowd gathered at the house of Harai Ojha and for the well being of his son Harai Ojha would distribute money to needy people and perform other types of charitable activities. Harai Ojha's son grew like the waxing moon and remained the center of pleasure for his parents. His mother loved him so much that she never put him down from her lap. At the time of his name giving ceremony someone suggested the name Rama and someone else suggested the name Nityananda for the child. When he was old enough to crawl on the ground people spontaneously called him Nitai and wanted to hold him on their laps. People were enchanted by his sweet smile and histiny teeth which looked like drops of milk. Nityananda became the centre of life for the people of Ekchakra.
The old man continued to tell his story to Jahnava Isvari and her associates. He said that one day he felt disturbed for some reason so he went to the house of Harai simply to see Nitai. When he took the child in his lap, all his miseries seemed to vanish. Harai Pandita's affection for his son was boundless and he would never go anywhere far from the child. Once he went to the house of a Yajamana but returned immediately to his home to check on Nityananda. His mother used to smear the dust of haridya on his body to brighten his complexion but the haridya seemed dull next to Nityananda's own golden color. She smeared scented oil on his head to cool it but his body was cooler and sweeter than the oil itself. After giving him a bath his mother would dry him with a soft piece of cloth. Then she would dress him in silk and advise him to play in the house. But Nityananda could smilingly ask her who he should play with, for he had no friends.
Nityananda Prabhu's Vraja lila and other Avatara lilas
From that time on many boys would come to Nityananda's house to play with him. Nityananda was a very gentle child. Gradually he grew to the age of ten and with his friends he would play only those sports which Lord Krishna had played with his friends. He would choose a particular type of sport and then teach his friends. Sometimes, for example, he would want to re-enact a pastime from the birth of Krishna. They would create the prision where Krishna was born and act out each of the events related to Krishna going to Gokula to live with Nanda. He also enacted other pastimes like birthday of Krishna in Nanda's house, various incidents which proved the love of mother Yosoda for Krishna, the killing of Putina, the breaking of the cradle, the killing of Trinavata etc. Sometimes he chose to act out the pastime where mother Yasoda tied Krishna to a mortar and later Krishna uprooted the Yamalarjuna trees. During each pastime Nityananda would dress in different types of clothes and play just like Krishna had played in Gokula. He would assign the roars of Baka and Aga to his different boyfriends and then as Krishna he would mockingly kill them. He would build a snake-shaped structure and put it in the water so that they could re-enact the pastime of Kaliya danana. Just like Krishna, Nityananda would sometimes kill Dhanuka or Pralambra while playing in the grazing grounds.
Just like Krishna he would play in the pasturing grounds, ocassionally killing a demon like risasura or rescuing Braja by lifting Govardhana. Sometimes they enacted the pastime of stealing the dresses of the Gopis and other times they pretended to kill kamsa. But when they staged the drama of Krishna leaving Vraja where the Gopis lamented pitifully, Nityananda also cried in hopless despair. He also enacted the various pastimes that Krishna had performed in Mathura.
Sometimes Nityananda taught his boyfriends the pastimes of Shri Ramacandra. For his drama he arranged everything as an exact replica of the places and incidents which had been desrcibed by Valmika in his book the Ramayana.
In th mood of Krishna Nityananda also played the role of Vamana, the incarnation of Vishnu who tricked King Vali. He also played the role of Nrsimha and mockingly killed Hiranyakasipur. Whatever pastimes Lord Krishna had performed to please his devotees were also performed by the son of Padmavati as he played with his village friends.
The boys of Ekchakra liked to be with Nityananda and could not leave him for a second. The parents of Ekchakra never forbid their children to associate with Nityananda; rather, they would decorate them with ornaments and encourage to take part in Nityananda's transcendenatl play.
At the time for taking the sacred thread, Nityananda was just stepping into his adolescent period and the village people were enchanted by his beauty. In his boyhood he became a scholar in all Sastras and Vyakanas and when he was twelve yers old he looked like a boy of fifteen. Because of this Harai Pandita anxiously sought out a wife for Nitai. The brahmin gentelmen of Ekchakra agreed to the idea and someone took the initiative to select a bride from a good brahmin family. Unfortunately, none of them could know the future.
Nityananda Prabhu leaves home
One day a travelling Gosvami came as a guest to the house of Harai Pandita. Harai Pandita offered him alms and they passed the night together discussing Lord Krishna. At the time of parting, the sannyasi requested Harai Pandtia to give him Nityananda and Harai Pandita was obliged to give him, thinking that there must be some divine plan behind the request.
When the sannyasi left with Nityananda Harari Pandita fell on the ground unconscious and his wife dropped just like a dead body. Even the villagers of Ekchakra became half-dead when they heard the news. The friends of Nityananda fell on the ground and the entire village was lifeless in grief. People assembled at the house of Harai Ojha and tried to revive the Pandita and his wife. But regaining their consciousness, the parents of Nityananda simply cried and called out the name of Nityananda. Their profuse tears could have melter the hard stones.
The younger brother of Nitai also lamented, wanting to know why the sannyasi had not also taken him. One brahmin anxiously asked the crowd which direction the sannyasi had taken. He would catch up with them and fall at the feet of the sannyasi, begging him to release Nimai. After all, the boy the did not know how to cook or other household duties. The brahmin would offer the sannyasi his own son who knew how to perform all types of service, and then he would bring Nityananda back. People searched in all directions for the sannyasi but he was not to be found. The astrolgers of Ekchakra met in a solitary place and discussd the prophecy of the astrologer who had predicted that Balarama would take his birth in Ekchakra. They realized too late that the prophecy had been fulfilled when Nityananda took birth in the house of Harai Pandita.
"At the time of Nityandad'a birth all misfortunes vanished," said one man. "There have been no famines, the people are happy and there is adequate rainfall."
"Now I understand why flowers were showered from heaven at the time of Nitai's birth," said another man.
"Only a God could posess such divine beauty," said another.
"I have never seen the type of sports which Nitai used to enact with his friends," said one gnetleman. "Once I saw Nitai in the role of a sannyasi. He wore a saffron colored dhoti and held a dhanda in one hand with a kamdalu in the other. The children were all wearing Vaishnava clothes and danced joyfully with Nitai in the center. Now Nityananda has made the play in reality."
"Oh, I am an ignorant perosn, lamented another villager. "How could I know that Rumini Kumara and Nityananda were the same person."
"We have no ability to understand the wish of the Lord," consoled another man. "The arrival of the sannyasi was only a pretext under which the Lord would leave home. Just as Balarama had visited all the holy places on foot, so also Nityananda would go on pilgrimage."
"But this is not proper behavior," criticised another person. "Nityananda should not have gone while his parents were still living." Then the poor man broke down and cried loudly while calling out the name of Nityananda.
The lamentation of Harai Pandita
The residents of Ekchakra regularly visited the house of Harai Pandita to console him and his wife. Three months had passed but Harai and Parvati had not taken a bit of food. They had grown mad by contiunous crying and calling out th name of Nityananda. Villagers would offer them food but the thought of sustaining their lives simply increased their misery.
In hs madness Harai would call out to Nitai requesting him to come and sit on his lap for he had not seen him in such a long time. Other times he would call Nitai to accompany him to the tank for a bath. Then he would call his son to walk in front as they walked in the field inspecting the ripeness of the rice plants. Then he would call Nitai to accompany him to the market to but new clothes and other play things. He would callhis son to come and eat the prasad of Vishnu, telling him that his mother was waiting. Or he would ask Nitai to take part in a debate on Sastra with other students of the Pandita. Ocassionally he would call his wife ingreat excitment to come and see that Nityananda was coming down the road. The sannyasi Thakura had kindly returned their son.
In this way the parents of Nityananda passed their day until the time of their death. After their disappearance the friends of Nityananda left Ekchakra and the villagers also moved to other places without telling anyone where they were going. Across the river a Yavana had built a village in his own name and a small population had deveolped there. In the passing of time, Ekchakra had become simply ruins.
The old brahmana continued to tell Jahnava Isvari and the Vaishnavas that only he a few other men remained in Ekchakra because of the memory of Nityananda. Although he was old and he could not walk properly, he would nevertheless leave his home each day and wander the streets and fields of Ekchakra to visit the places where Nityananda used to play. Just in the shadow of his peepal tree Nityananda and his friends would eat and play.
"Providence is cruel for I have lived this long life with only my memories of Nityandanda. I simply hoped that one day I would see him again but, alas, he has never returned to Ekchakra. I simply pray to be reborn in Ekchakra life after life on the hope of seeing my Nityananda. And at the end of each life let me simply call the name of Nitai Cand."
The old brahmin broke down in bitter sobbing and called out hte name of Nitai. Shri Jahnava and the other devotees left their emotions unchecked and tears rolled like rivers from their eyes. Krishnadasa Pandita bowed again and again at the feet of the brahmana.
The brahmana guides them through Ekchakra
The Vaishnava assembly to guide them through Ekchakra. He took them first to the house of Harai Pandita but he could not describe the house for he was choked with emotion. Without saying anything he left the assembly and returned to his own home crying bitterly. Shri Isvari did not stop him, but with heavy hearts the Vaishnavas entered the house of Harai Pandita although the house was simply ruins the devotees felt a strong attraction for it. They decided to pass the night in that house performing sankirtana.
The lamentation of Shri Jahnava devi
Jahnava devi could not sleep that night. Sitting in a lonely place she contemplated her misfortune that she could not see her father-in-law and mother-in-law. She could not enjoy the happiness of her husband's house. By the wish of the Lord she fell asleep and in her dream she envisioned the big town of Ekchakra. The beauty of the village was enchanting and the golden houses seemed to have been built by Visvakarma himself. The house of Harai Pandita was full of attendants, and in the midst of their riches and grandeur Harai Pandita and Padmavati showered their affection on Nityananda. They also showed great affection for Vasudeva, the two wives of Nityananda. Shri Jahnava the daughter of Surya dasa, was respected by the entire world, yet she was very happy to receive the affection of her father-in-law. Shri Jahnava was truly enjoying herself but then the dream faded away and she awoke.
Again she slept that night and in her dream she saw a garden on the bank of the river in Ekchakra. The trees in the garden were full of flowers, bees hummed, birds sang and the wind blew sweetly. Under one tree was a beautiful throne made of jewels. Many ladies dressed in gorgeous clothes and covered in jewels stood as attendants around the throne. They held Talabrinta and camara, thalis of sandal, chua, scented water and flower garlands. Looking like kandapa, Shri Nityananda was seated on that ornamental throne and with a sweet smile on his face he was more beautiful than the moon. Shri Vasudeva and Jahnava were sitting on his left and right sides and were each as beautiful as Rati the Goddess of beauty. They were happily chewing betel leaves and putting betel leaves in Nityananda's mouth. He would return his chewed betel leaves to his wives while the lady attendants continuously offered chua, sandal and flower garlands. From his own body Nityananda would give the sandal paste and chua to his wives and would embrace them lovingly. He gave them his garlands and held them close beside him.
Shri Isvari was dreaming so happily that when she awoke from her sleep she felt quite disappointed. She spoke briefly about the dream to some of her associates but she could not settle her mind in order to leave Ekchakra.
Shri Jahnava goes to Kharadaha
Suddenly Isvari heard an unknown voice instructing her to go to Khardaha without delay. She left Ekchakra at once but on their way they saw a drunken brahmana who was sometimes laughing and sometimes dancing under the effect of liquor. She inquired from her followers why the brahmana was behaving was that and when she learnt that he was a drunkard she felt great compassion and spontaneously blessed him, praying that Mahaprabhu would enable him to acquire a devotional mind and becoemmad in divine love. The Vaishnavas in her party all joyfully called out the name of Hari and congratulated the brahmin for his good fortune ingetting the mercy of Sr Isvari.
After blessing the brahmana who die become a greatly devotional man, Shri Isvari and the Vaishnavas started for Maureswara where she visted the temple of Lord Siva who had once been worshipped by Nityananda. They were happy to visit the place where Nityananda had subdued the snakes. Because of that pastime the area had been renamed Kundali damana. The people of that place showed them the way to Vakreswara where Nityananda had once travelled during his pilgrimage. Shri Isvari vistied Shri Radhadesh and from there went to Kantakanagara. Shri Yadunandana was glad to receive her and sent a message to Jajigrama asking Shrinivasa and his followers to come. Shrinivasa, Narottama and other devotees sat in a solitary place and recieved the news. ramacandra gave the book Gopala Virudavali to Shrinivasa Acarya who touched it reverently to his head.
Shri Isvari's reception at Jajigrama
In the morning Shri Isvari invited the Vaishnavas to her own house. So Shrinivasa and the others gladly accepted the invitation and left fot Jajigrama with Shri Isvari. The residents of Jajigrama joyfully came out to receive the assembly of Vaishnavas. Shrinivasa Acarya sent a message to Shri Khanda ordering Narottama, Ramacandra and others to arrange everything for their reception. Because of the sincerity with which they were served the mahantas felt that they were in their own homes. Each mahanta got a house in a beautiful place and Shri Isvari lived with Shrinivasa. Shri Isvari was graciously welcomed by the wife of Shrinivasa, a very beautiful woman with a sweet disposition. She bowed at the feet of Shri Isvari and ShriIsvari embraced her affectionately. Shri Acarya's wife took her to the temple and offered her an appropriate seat. She washed the feet of Shri Isvari in scented water and Jahnava was quite pleased by her behavior. They enjoyed their days together in Jajigrama by cooking various items, eating mahaprasad and sitting all together. The Mahantas passed their days discussing the pastimes of Lord Krishna as they sat in their beautiful houses.
Meanwhile Shri Raghunandana and other great Bhagavatas arrived from Shri Khanda. They discussed many incidents related to Gauda and Vraja. Shri Raghunandana wanted to hear the report of Shri Isvari's tour and Shri Paramesvari patiently descirbed everything. Raghunandana first requested Shri Isvari to visit Shri Khanda, then invited the mahants to come and then told Shrinivasa. Thereafter he left hurriedly for Shri Khanda. In the evening the Bhagavatas all performed nama sankirtana.
On the order of Shri Isvari Shrinivasa recited from Shrimad Bhagavatam. His recitation was so sweet that no one could check his own tears. After the recitation Jahnava told Shrinivasa the the next morning they should leave for Shri Khanda. From there she would continue on to Khardaha. Shrinivasa requested her to go quickly to Khardaha and to complete all necessary arrangements for the deity of Radhika which would be sent to Vrndavana for Shri Gopinatha. He assured her that by the wish of Shri Gopinatha the deity would be completed very quickly without any difficulty. Shri Isvari was glad to hear his assurances and asked him how long he would stay in Jajigrama and where he would go from there. He sais he would stay only four days and then go to Navadvipa. Moat of the associates of Mahaprabhu had already left the world but Mahaprabhu's favorite attendant Isana was living in Navadvipa. Those devotees living with Isana were on the verge of death and Isana had requested him to come to Navadvipa for sometime. After that he would go to Kheturi where he would pass only a few days before going to Vishnupura. From Vishnupura he would return to Jajigrama where he would remain for a longer time.
Shri Isvari goes to Sr Khanda
Absorbed in their discussions time passed deep into the night, they ate something and went to bed and in the morning Shri Isvari consoled the wife of Shri Acarya and left for Shri Khanda. Shri Raghunandana and a group of Vaishnavas came forward to receive her as she entered Shri Khanda. A village brahmin who saw the Vaishnavas commented that Mukunda, Madhava and Naahari the three sons of Narayana dasa were very fortunate, the son of Mukunda, Raghunanda Thakura was the personification of love and devotion and had always brought relief to the people of the village. That brahmin accompanied the Vaishnavas as they travelled.
Raghunandana had a beautiful young son named Shri Kanai who was always absorbed in memories of Shri Gaurachandra. When Kanai saw the Mahantas coming he asked his father their names. Shri Raghunandana introduced him to each of the mahantas, and with tears in his eyes Thakura Kanai bowed at their feet as each one in turn embraced him. Shri Isvari and her followers happily entered Shri Khanda and went directly to the courtyard of Shri Gauranga where they observed the beautiful face of the deity. They also saw a beautiful form of Shri Madana Gopala, to whom Shri Raghunandana fed Laddu. After resting for sometime in the courtyard they went to their selected houses near the temple. They bathed, ate mahaprasad and in the evening they enjoyed nama sankirtana.
Shri Isvari visits Khardaha
Shri Raghunandana was very sad when the devotees left for Khardaha. He offered various essential gifts to Shri Paramesvari dasa. Krishnadasa Sarkhel and others accompanied Shri Isvari to Khardaha.
The Vaishnavas visit Navadvipa dhama on their way to Khardaha
From Shri Khanda Shri Isvari went first to Nadia which she found vacant because of the disappearance of most of the associates of Mahaprabhu. Shri Isana and some of his friends, the only persons still living, came forward to receive Isvari and others. They all felt some relieve from meeting Shri Isvari and for the time being they could forget their misery. However they could could not control their grief when they entered the house of Shrivasa.
Throughout the night Shri Isvari sat awake and in the early mornig she slept for a few hours. At that time Mahaprabhu and his associates to her in a dream. She was quite happy to see Shri Gaurachandra with his beautiful clothes and his curling black hair. Gadadhara was on his left side and Nityananda on his right. Shri Advaita, Shrivasa and others were in front of him. They started san kirtana and Gaurachandra was the first to dance, followed by Nityananda, Shri Advaita, Gadadhara, Shrivasa, Murari, Vakreswara and Haridasa. Shri Isvari was enchanted by the vision. Govinda Vasu, Madhava and Mukunda danced madly as they sang to the tune of diffeirent musical instruments. Th whole of Navadvipa became absorbed in sankirtan and the demigods appeared in person to enjoy the festival. Residents of heaven showered flowers on the great Bhagavatas and as she watched the wonderful sankirtana, Shri Jahnava's miseries. Just as the dream had come providing her intense so also it faded away, driving her back into misery. By the wish of the Lord she controlled her emotions and spoke to no one about her dream. She consoled Shri Isana in many ways and pacified him in many ways saying that Shrinivasa would soon come.
The visit to Khardaha
After passing two days in Nadia Shri Isvari went to Ambika where she cried emotionally as she visited the various places frequented by Nityananda and Shri Chaitanya. She stayed there for one day according to the wish of Gaura and Nityananda and then sent a message to Khardaha. The Vaishnavas who lived near the bank of the Ganga came forward to receive Shri Isvari and she went directly to the house of Uddharana Dutta where she decided to stay.
A large crowd assembled there to meet Shri Isvari, but she passed her time remembering Uddharana Dutta who was a favorite disciple of Shri Nityananda. From his house Shri Isvari boarded a boat and sailed for Khardaha. The residents of Khardaha were happy to receive Shri Isvari and she happily entered her own house. Ganga and Viracandra affectionately fell at her feet and her eyes filled with tears out of affection for the children. Shri Jahnava then bowed to the feet of Shri Vasudeva and the crowd who assembled there enjoyed the loving reunion of the family members. Shri Vasudeva inquired about her travels and were satisfied with the report. Shri Isvari Jahnava then ordered Nayana, the sculptor to begin work on the deity of Radhika.
Whoever attentively hears this narration will certainly attain the spirit of pure devotion. In the memory of Shrinivasa Acarya, Dasa Narahari takes pleasure in writing the book Bhaktiratnakara.