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Vyasa Avatara Shrila Vrindavana dasa Thakura
Chapter Seventeen: The Lord’s Travel to Gaya
CB Adi-khanda 17.51-52
tirthe pinda dile se nistare pitri-gana
seha,-yare pinda deya, tare’ sei jana
toma’ dekhilei matra koti-pitri-gana
sei-kshane sarva-bandha paya vimocana
“If one offers oblations to the forefathers in a holy place, then the forefathers are delivered. But one delivers only he to whom the oblation was offered. By seeing you, however, millions of forefathers are immediately freed from material bondage.
“Only those forefathers who are offered oblations at Gaya are delivered as a result of receiving those oblations, yet simply on the strength of piety accrued by seeing an eternally perfect associate of Krishna like yourself, millions of forefathers whose names are unknown are immediately delivered from the ocean of material existence. There is no need to separately offer them oblations for their deliverance. Those most fortunate living entities who receive the mercy of seeing a beloved associate of the Lord deliver millions of their forefathers from the bondage of repeated birth and death; in other words, they attain Vaikuntha through the worship of the Lord.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.53
ataeva tirtha nahe tomara samana
tirther o parama tumi mangala pradhana
“Therefore holy places are not equal to you, for you purify even the holy places.
“Only one who is offered oblations at Gaya is delivered, but for one who sees a Vaishnava, millions of his forefathers are liberated. Therefore the Vaishnavas are much more exalted than the holy places. You are the purifier of all holy places and a more beneficial Vaishnava guru.
This is confirmed in the following statement of Dharmaraja Yudhishthira to Bhaktaraja Vidura in Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.13.10):
bhavad-vidha bhagavatas tirtha-bhutah svayam vibho
tirthi-kurvanti tirthani svantah-sthena gadabhrita
‘My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.’”
CB Adi-khanda 17.54
samsara-samudra haite uddharaha more
ei ami deha samarpilana tomare
“Please deliver Me from the ocean of material existence. I surrender Myself unto you.
Taking shelter at the lotus feet of a spiritual master is the main entrance to the practice of devotional service to the Lord. That is why the spiritual master of all servants and the acarya of abhidheya, Shrila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, has in the course of describing the symptoms of devotional service in his Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu written as follows:
guru-padashrayas tasmat krishna-dikshadi-shikshanam
vishrambhena guroh seva sadhu-vartmanuvartanam
Those living entities who desire their eternal ultimate benefit and freedom from material bondage should first take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master who is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord. There is no way of being delivered from the ocean of anarthas without fully surrendering at the lotus feet of the spiritual master. Unless one takes shelter of a bona fide spiritual master who is fixed in the Absolute Truth and conversant in Vedic knowledge, a living entity cannot attain the goal of life through the process of argument. The argument-afflicted hearts of godless people who are ever-forgetful of the lotus feet of the spiritual master and who are averse to the Vedic way of life have taken shelter of the four defects-bhrama (the tendency to commit mistakes), pramada (the tendency to be illusioned), vipralipsa (the tendency to cheat) and karanapatava (imperfect senses)-in such a way that there is no scope for taking shelter of the lotus feet of the spiritual master, rather there is only guru-droha and bhagavad-droha, envy of the spiritual master and envy of the Supreme Lord. Those who are determined to merge into the ocean of material existence have no goal other than the unauthorized path of argument. They are unable to accept the shelter of the Vedic way of life or a bona fide spiritual master. If persons who are averse to the service of the Lord and who follow the path of argument proudly accept a so-called guru who is an attached householder covered by unauthorized seminal considerations as their spiritual master, and if, being induced by blind faith, they continue like this for millions of kalpas, they will never achieve eternal benefit. In order to propagate this great truth and educate people, jagad-guru Shri Gaurasundara considered Himself a surrendered soul at the lotus feet of the guru and thus instructed everyone about sharanagati, in the form of atma-nikshepa and karpanya, full self-surrender and humility. Those who follow the path of material argument in order to fulfil the deficiency and insubstantiality of a spiritual master who is fully surrendered to Krishna and whose all endeavors are meant for the pleasure of Krishna have no possibility of being delivered from the pangs of hell.
CB Adi-khanda 17.55
‘krishna-pada-padmera amrita-rasa pana
amare karao tumi’-ei cahi dana”
“I beg that you make Me drink the nectar of Krishna’s lotus feet.”
Persons in whose hearts the eternally beneficial realization, sajatiyashaye snigdhe sadhau sangah svato vare-“One should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord,” is prominent can alone fully surrender, or take shelter of the lotus feet of the spiritual master. Considering that the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord are the only object of service and to set example for practitioners who desire love of God, the Lord, who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, exhibited the pastime of accepting Shri Ishvara Puripada, the recipient of Madhavendra Puripada’s mercy, as His spiritual master and thus bestowed mercy on him. There was no contradiction in the begging at the lotus feet of the spiritual master for the alms of drinking the nectar of Krishna’s lotus feet by the Lord, who acted as the disciple, and the awarding of those alms by the donor Ishvara Puripada, who acted as the guru.
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isha kamaye
mama janmani janmanishvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
“O Almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor to enjoy beautiful women. Nor do I want any number of followers. What I want only is the causeless mercy of Your devotional service in my life, birth after birth.”
The purport of this verse offered by the Lord in prayer at the lotus feet of Shri Gadadhara manifested and constantly remained in the heart of Shri Ishvara Puripada on the strength of Shri Madhavendra Puri’s full nonduplicitous mercy.
CB Adi-khanda 17.56
balena ishvara-puri,-“shunaha, pandita!
tumi ye ishvara-amsha,-janinu nishcita
Ishvara Puri then said, “Listen, dear Pandita. I know without doubt that You are an expansion of the Supreme Lord.
Ishvara Puripada, the Lord’s associate and servant of the maha-bhagavata guru, constantly engaged in chanting the holy names of the Lord. Therefore, since the principle of offering respect to others without expecting any honor was brightly shining in him, he instructed Gaurasundara, who acted as his disciple, as follows: “You are the knower of all living entities’ bondage and liberation. You are an expansion of the Supreme Lord; in other words, You are directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all other controllers are Your expansions-I am confident about this.” In consideration of the Absolute Truth, the living entities are the fragmental parts and parcels of the Lord, who is full in six opulences. But in this case, since Gaurasundara was enacting the pastimes of a disciple, He exhibited the pastime of hearing in disciplic succession from the lotus mouth of His spiritual master the conclusion that the living entities are parts of Lord Vishnu, in other words, they are separated parts.
jivera ‘svarupa’ haya--krishnera ‘nitya-dasa’
krishnera ‘tatastha-shakti’ ‘bhedabheda-prakasha
“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krishna because he is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one and different from the Lord.”
Constitutionally, the separated parts of the Supreme Lord have no material designations; in other words, the living entities cannot remain in any occupation other than the service of the Lord. Living entities who are forgetful of their constitutional position and averse to the service of the Lord are subjected to the bondage of material existence. In that state the valor of body and mind is prominent in their activities. The Lord is the Supersoul, and the living entity is an infinitesimal soul and therefore His fragmental part. The Lord is the infinitely potent, fully cognizant personality, and the spirit soul is a minute, liberated spiritual spark.
CB Adi-khanda 17.57
ye tomara panditya, ye caritra tomara
seha ki ishvara-amsha bai haya ara?
“Can anyone other than an expansion of the Supreme Lord possess the extraordinary learning and characteristics that You have?
“Due to absorption in maya, materially conditioned souls are under the control of the illusory energy of the Lord, but for pure spirit souls there is no scope for absorption in maya. The characteristics of conditioned souls and the characteristics of liberated souls are not ‘one;’ therefore I do not consider You anyone other than an expansion of the Supreme Lord. It is understood from Your learning and characteristics that You are none other than an expansion of the Supreme Lord.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.58
yena aji ami shubha svapna dekhilana
sakshate tahara phala ei pailana
“I had an auspicious dream last night, and today I’ve obtained the fruits of that dream.
CB Adi-khanda 17.59
satya kahi, pandita! tomara darashane
parananda-sukha yena pai anukshane
“O Pandita, I’m telling You the truth! I’m feeling great ecstasy every moment since I’ve seen You.
CB Adi-khanda 17.60
yadavadhi toma’ dekhiyachi nadiyaya
tadavadhi citte ara kichu nahi bhaya
“From the time I saw You in Nadia, my heart has had no other attraction.
CB Adi-khanda 17.61
satya ei kahi,-ithe anya kichu nai
krishna-darashana-sukha toma’ dekhi pai”
“I’m speaking the truth, nothing else. When I see You, I feel the happiness of seeing Krishna.”
“Since I saw You in Navadvipa, no other subject matter has occupied my heart. This is indeed the truth. There is no doubt about it. As soon as I see You with my eyes smeared with the ointment of love, I experience the same indescribable happiness as when I see Krishna.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.62
shuni’ priya ishvara-purira satya vakya
hasiya balena prabhu,-“mora bada bhagya”
Hearing His beloved Ishvara Puri’s truthful words, the Lord smiled and said, “It is My great fortune.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.63
ei-mata kata ara kautuka-sambhasha
yata haila, taha varnibena veda-vyasa
In this way the two exchanged many other pleasing words which will be described in the future by Vedavyasa.
CB Adi-khanda 17.64
tabe prabhu tana sthane anumati laiya
tirtha-shraddha karibare vasila asiya
The Lord then took leave of Ishvara Puri and went to offer oblations to His forefathers.
It is the prescribed duty for one to offer oblations to his forefathers when visiting a holy place. Gaurahari enacted the pastime of taking permission from Ishvara Puripada and then offering oblations at Gaya according to prescribed duties. The path of pure devotional service and the path of fruitive activities based on the smritis are not similar. Only after rejecting fruitive activities can one enter into spiritual life. Since materially conditioned living entities are not self-realized or God-realized before hearing topics of the Lord, they take to fruitive activities such as offering oblations to their forefathers and the demigods according to external considerations.
CB Adi-khanda 17.65
phalgu-tirthe kari’ balakara pinda dana
tabe gela girishringe preta-gaya-sthana
The Lord went to the Phalgu River and offered oblations to the forefathers with sand. Then the Lord went to Preta-gaya on top of the hill.
The Phalgu River flows under a bed of sand at Gaya. There is a system for offering oblations with sand at this place. In order to bewilder and deceive fruitive workers, Gaurahari enacted the pastimes of offering oblations to His forefathers with sand. Thereafter He went to Preta-gaya on top of the hill. There are 395 steps leading to Preta-gaya that where built in 1775. The steps were built by Madana Mohana Datta Mahashaya, who was known among people as Kuvera, who was a renowned “black merchant,” and who was born in the famous Datta family of Hata-khola, Calcutta. On the wall of the temple there is an inscription reading: “Shri Shri Radha-Krishnaya namah. Shri Chaitanya-candraya namah. Shri Shiva-Durga sharanam. Jaya Ramah. O Lord Madana-mohana, I beg at Your lotus feet for the benediction of good fortune for me and my entire family. Seeing the difficulty people took to climb this high hill to reach Preta-gaya, a person named Madana Mohana has built a beautiful wide staircase for the benefit of the pilgrims and the pleasure of Lord Narayana, the husband of Lakshmi.” Construction on the 395 steps was begun and completed in the year 1775.
CB Adi-khanda 17.66
preta-gaya-shraddha kari’ shri-shacinandana
dakshinaye vakye tushilena vipra-gana
Shri Shacinandana offered shraddha at that place and then satisfied the brahmanas there with sweet words.
After enacting the pastime of offering oblations at Preta-gaya, the Lord satisfied the local brahmanas with dakshina in the form of various sweet words. It is seen that pilgrims offer excessive respect and donations to the priests at Gaya. What to speak of this, the foolish, most greedy pandas of Gaya have pilgrims worship their feet with flowers and tulasi leaves and thus accumulate grave offenses. That is why the Lord, rather than encouraging such offensive activities, satisfied the pandas simply with sweet words.
CB Adi-khanda 17.67
tabe uddhariya pitri-gana santarpiya
dakshina-manase calilena harsha haiya
After duly delivering the forefathers, the Lord happily went to Dakshina-manasa.
CB Adi-khanda 17.68
tabe calilena prabhu shri-rama-gayaya
rama-avatare shraddha karila yathaya
He next went to Shrirama-gaya, where He had previously performed shraddha in His incarnation as Ramacandra.
CB Adi-khanda 17.69
eho avatare sei-sthane shraddha kari’
tabe yudhishthira-gaya gela gaurahari
In this incarnation He again performed shraddha at that place. Thereafter Lord Gaurahari went to Yudhishthira-gaya.
CB Adi-khanda 17.70
purve yudhishthira pinda dilena tathaya
sei pritye tatha shraddha kaila gaura-raya
Yudhishthira Maharaja had previously performed shraddha there. Out of affection for Yudhishthira, Gaura also performed shraddha there.
CB Adi-khanda 17.71
catur-dike prabhure vediya vipra-gana
shraddha karayena sabe padana vacana
All the brahmanas there sat around the Lord and directed Him in the procedures of the shraddha ceremony.
CB Adi-khanda 17.72
shraddha kari’ prabhu pinda phele yei jale
gayali-brahmana saba dhari’ dhari’ gile
As the Lord performed shraddha and offered oblations in the water, all the resident brahmanas grabbed the offerings and ate them.
The word gayali (derived from the Hindi word gayaoyala) refers to the pandas of Gaya (the brahmana priests) or the residents of Gaya. In this verse the extremely greedy nature of the brahmana priests of Gaya is seen.
CB Adi-khanda 17.73
dekhiya hasena prabhu shri-shacinandana
se-saba viprera yata khandila bandhana
Shri Shacinandana smiled on seeing this, and thus the brahmanas were freed from all material bondage.
CB Adi-khanda 17.74
uttara-manase prabhu pinda dana kari’
bhima-gaya karilena gauranga shri-hari
The Lord next offered shraddha at Uttara-manasa. He then went to Bhima-gaya.
CB Adi-khanda 17.75
shiva-gaya brahma-gaya adi yata ache
saba kari’ shodasha-gayaya gela pache
Thereafter the Lord performed the prescribed rites at Shiva-gaya, Brahma-gaya, and finally at Shodasha-gaya.
CB Adi-khanda 17.76
shodasha-gayaya prabhu shodashi kariya
sabare dilena pinda shraddha-yukta haiya
While at Shodasha-gaya, the Lord faithfully offered shraddha with sixteen ingredients on behalf of all His forefathers.
The word shodashi refers to a particular type of shraddha in which the following sixteen ingredients are offered: land, asana, water, cloth, ghee lamp, rice, betel nuts, umbrella, sandalwood paste, flower garland, fruits, bedding, shoes, cows, gold, and silver; or it may refer to a kind of sacrificial pot. As stated: “In the Atiratra sacrificial performance, the acceptance or rejection of the shodashi pot depends on one’s prior vow.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.77
tabe mahaprabhu brahma-kunde kari’ snana
gaya-shire asi’ karilena pinda dana
Thereafter the Lord took bath at Brahma-kunda and offered oblations at Gaya-shira.
CB Adi-khanda 17.78
divya mala-candana shri-haste prabhu laiya
vishnu-pada-cihna pujilena harsha haiya
The Lord then personally worshiped Lord Vishnu’s footprints with flower garlands and sandalwood paste.
CB Adi-khanda 17.79
ei-mata sarva-sthane shraddhadi kariya
vasaya calila vipra-gane santoshiya
After completing His offerings of shraddha and satisfying the brahmanas at all the recommended places, the Lord returned to His room.
Regarding the karma-kanda system of performing shraddha at Gaya, in the Vishnu Purana (2.16.4) Aurva spoke to Sagara Maharaja the following words:
gayam upetya yah shraddham karoti prithivi pate
saphalam tasya taj janma jayate pitri tushtidam
“O King, a person who goes to Gaya and offers oblations makes his life successful by satisfying his forefathers.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.80
tabe mahaprabhu kata-kshane sustha haiya
randhana karite prabhu vasilena giya
After He took some rest, the Lord then sat down to cook.
CB Adi-khanda 17.81
randhana sampurna haila, henai samaya
ailena shri-ishvara-puri mahashaya
As soon as the Lord finished cooking, Shri Ishvara Puri arrived there.
CB Adi-khanda 17.82
prema-yoge krishna-nama balite balite
ailena prabhu-sthane dhulite dhulite
Ishvara Puri’s head was rolling back and forth in ecstatic love as he arrived there chanting the names of Krishna.
While chanting the holy names of Krishna, Ishvara Puripada was overwhelmed with love of God and unable to control his balance as he came before Shri Gaurasundara. At that time the Lord was engaged in cooking.
CB Adi-khanda 17.83
randhana ediya prabhu parama-sambhrame
namaskari’ tane vasailena asane
The Lord immediately left the kitchen and, after respectfully offered obeisances, He seated Ishvara Puri comfortably.
CB Adi-khanda 17.84
hasiya balena puri,-“shunaha, pandita!
bhalai samaye hailana upanita”
Ishvara Puri smiled and said, “Listen, O Pandita. I see I’ve come at the right time.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.85
prabhu bale,-“yabe haila bhagyera udaya
ei anna bhiksha aji kara mahashaya”
The Lord replied, “It will be My good fortune if you accept your meal here today.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.86
hasiya balena puri,-“tumi ki paibe?”
prabhu bale,-“ami anna randhibana ebe”
Ishvara Puri smiled and said, “Then what will You eat?” The Lord replied, “I will cook again.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.87
puri bale,-“ki-karye karibe ara paka?
ye anna achaye, taha kara’ dui-bhaga
Ishvara Puri then said, “What is the need for cooking again? Divide whatever You have in two portions.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.88
hasiya balena prabhu,-“yadi ama’ cao
ye anna haiyache, taha tumi saba khao
The Lord smiled and said, “If you really want to please Me, then eat whatever I’ve cooked.
CB Adi-khanda 17.89
tilarddheke ara anna randhibana ami
na kara’ sankoca kichu, bhiksha kara, tumi”
“I’ll cook again within a moment. You take your meal without hesitation.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.90
tabe prabhu apanara anna tanre diya
ara anna randhite se gela harsha haiya
The Lord then gave His meal to Ishvara Puri and happily went to cook for Himself.
CB Adi-khanda 17.91
hena kripa prabhura ishvara-puri-prati
purir o nahika krishna-chada anya-mati
Ishvara Puri’s mind never deviated from the lotus feet of Krishna, therefore the Lord bestowed such mercy on him.
CB Adi-khanda 17.92
shri-haste apane prabhu kare pariveshana
parananda-sukhe puri karena bhojana
The Lord served Ishvara Puri with His own hands, and Ishvara Puri thus ate in great ecstasy.
CB Adi-khanda 17.93
sei-kshane rama-devi ati-alakshite
prabhura nimitta anna randhila tvarite
At that time Ramadevi, the goddess of fortune, quickly cooked for the Lord while remaining unseen by all.
Remaining out of the sight of materially conditioned living entities, Shri Maha-Lakshmidevi, who is the dearmost maidservant of Gaura-Narayana, immediately cooked nectarean foodstuffs for her beloved husband.
CB Adi-khanda 17.94
tabe prabhu age tane bhiksha karaiya
apane o bhojana karila harsha haiya
Then, after the Lord first fed Ishvara Puri, He happily ate Himself.
CB Adi-khanda 17.95
ishvara-purira sange prabhura bhojana
ihara shravane mile krishna-prema-dhana
One who hears about the Lord taking His meal with Ishvara Puri will achieve the wealth of love of Krishna.
CB Adi-khanda 17.96
tabe prabhu ishvara-purira sarva-ange
apane shri-haste lepilena divya-gandhe
The Lord with His own hands then smeared sandalwood paste on the body of Ishvara Puri.
The jagad-guru Lord set the ideal example of serving the spiritual master by personally smearing the body of Ishvara Puripada with sandalwood pulp as a menial disciple. While serving the spiritual master, who is a manifestation of the Supreme Lord, Gaurahari taught everyone that the best ingredients of this world should never be used for one’s own sense gratification, rather they should be utilized only for the service of Hari, Guru, and Vaishnava.
CB Adi-khanda 17.97
yata prita ishvarera ishvara-purire
taha varnibare kon jana shakti dhare
Who has the ability to describe the Lord’s love for Shri Ishvara Puri?
The word ishvarera refers to the Supreme Lord, Shri Gaurasundara.
CB Adi-khanda 17.98
apane ishvara shri-chaitanya bhagavan
dekhilena ishvara-purira janma-sthana
The Supreme Lord, Shri Chaitanya, personally visited the birthplace of Ishvara Puri.
The birthplace of Ishvara Puri is situated in the village of Kumarahatta, which is 3 km. from the Halisahara Station on the E.B.R. line. Recently the sakhibhekis have introduced their unauthorized standard of worship at this birthsite.
Seeing, offering obeisances to, and circumambulating the Lord’s birthplace are some of the limbs of pure devotional service.
CB Adi-khanda 17.99
prabhu bale,-“kumarahatterer namaskara
shri-ishvara-purira ye-grame avatara”
The Lord said, “I offer My obeisances to the village of Kumarahatta, where Shri Ishvara Puri appeared.”
CB Adi-khanda 17.100
kandilena vistara chaitanya sei sthane
ara shabda kichu nahi ‘ishvara-puri’ vine
Lord Chaitanya cried profusely at that place and spoke nothing other than the name of Ishvara Puri.
Commentary and Chapter Summaries of His Divine Grace Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Shri Shrimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada.