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Chapter 4 Gauranga's Pastimes of Youth
The Marriage of Visvambhara and Laksmipriya
With a smiling face, Sacimata said sweetly, "O my dear son Visvambhara, the daughter of Vallabhacarya is a wonderful girl-- just suitable for You. I will be fortunate to have her as my daughter-in-law. If You accept this proposal, then make the necessary arrangements for the marriage ceremony."
Following His niother's order, Visvambhara collected the paraphernalia, called a qualified' astrologer, and fixed a proper date. On that auspicious day, brahmanas, friends, and relatives attended Nimai's marriage. The whole town of Nadia flooded in an ocean of love, immersing everyone in bliss. Sacimata and other ladies made preparations.
The acaryas performed the Adhi-vasa ceremony while brahmanas filled the four directions with Vedic mantras. Mrdangas and conchshells surcharged the air with auspicious sounds. The entire house was beautified with lamps, flags, flower garlands and fragrant sandalwood. Gauranga's body shone like the beauty of a million Cupids. The brahmanas became astounded to behold Visvambhara's dazzling effulgence. Visvambhara worshiped the brahmanas with gifts, betel nuts, garlands and sandalwood.
Engaging the best brahmanas, Vallabhacarya performed the Adhivasa ceremony on behalf of his daughter Laksmipriya. He sent beautiful garlands and sandalwood to Visvambhara. When the Adhi-vasa ended in the evening, the women brought pots full of Ganges water. The young unmarried girls of Nadia became covered by the nectarean Waves from the ocean of rasa churned by Gauranga's marriage.
Collecting Ganges Water
Decorating themselves with various attractive ornaments, the virgin girls and the wives of the brahmanas went to Sacimata's house. With their wide doe-like eyes and walking which resembled the gait of elephants, those girls could have easily charmed Cupid himself. With their bangles chiming sweetly and their dresses swaying this way and that, they could have stolen the minds of even the staunchest of sages. Their chit-chat showered nectar and the earth shook from their laughter.
They joked with one another while singing the glories of Gaurasundara. A beautiful pearl mounted in gold swung from the tip of their noses. Cupid became agitated by heating their sweet delicate voices.
When the girls and ladies arrived, Sacidevi welcomed them with scents, betel nuts and sandalwood paste. Placing Sacimata in front, they walked in procession to the Ganges while singing some sweet songs. They wore new cotton or silk saris, and they rocked their heads gently from side to side as they walked.
Sometimes they followed behind Sacimata and other times they walked near Gaurachandra. They took betel, camphor, garlands, and sandalwood paste and carefully offered it to Gaura, just to get His touch. Performing the water-carrying ceremony, the ladies of Nadia became mad with joyous bliss.
Thus Locana Dasa narrates the marriage custom of collecting Ganges water.
In this way, the night passed blissfully. The next day Visvambhara conducted the customary marriage rituals. He bathed, gave charity, and worshiped the demigods and His relatives. Following the Vedic injunctions, He observed the Nandimukha and Sraddha ceremonies [worshiping the ancestors to get their blessings for a marriage]. The brahmanas, singers, and dancers were all satisfied with gifts and food. However, Lord Gauranga's sweet words of appreciation pleased them more than the charity. After Visvambhara bathed, the barbers cut His hair. At this time, as per tradition, the housewives cleansed the Lord's body.
Varieties of musical instruments filled the atmosphere with sweet auspicious music. Sacidevi treated the guests with great love and affection. Revealing her heart to them, Sacidevi said, "I'm without my husband and my son has lost His father. I am poor, so how can I properly serve you?" Her voice faltering, Sacidevi broke down, crying profusely.
Hearing these piteous words of His mother, Visvambhara lowered His head. His heart burned in separation as He remembered His father. With loving words, Saci pacified her son. Then she followed His order to satisfy the brahmanas with charity.
The Ecstatic Marriage Procession
Meanwhile, in Vallabhacarya's house, the brahmanas were worshiping the demigods and Vallabha's forefathers. Vallabhacarya gave numerous golden ornaments to his daughter Laksmipriya. He decorated her with perfumes, flower garlands and sandalwood paste. At just the right time, that greatest of the brahmanas, Vallabhacarya, sent a brahmana to bring the bridegroom.
Lord Visvambhara's friends helped Him dress in attractive clothes. They smeared His body with sandalwood paste. They hung makara kundala [shark-shaped earrings] on His nicely shaped ears, and a pearl necklace around His smooth and powerful neck. Gaura's dark and gently curving eyebrows looked like the strung bow of Cupid.
Visvambhara's omaments, jeweled rings, and golden bangles created such a shimmering effulgence that no one could look at Him. He was wearing a celestial flower garland and an expertly folded dhoti with a red border. The sweet fragrance of His body saturated the air. Gauracandara took a golden mirror in His hand; He looked like the full moon.
Visvambhara paid obeisances to His mother and then left the house at an auspicious moment. He rode in a celestial chariot along with His friends. Brahmanas, singers, and dancers surrounded the Lord's procession. They made a festive atmosphere of music and mantras.
Horns, whompers, mrdangas, and kettle-drums heightened the ecstasy. With great enthusiasm, everyone chanted "Hari bol! Hari bol! Jai ! Jai !" The people of Nadia felt so much euphoria that they appeared to be going crazy in transcendental bliss. Huge crowds came to see the Lord. Although people were pushing, no one could move forward. Everyone was amazed by the scene.
Some women couldn't arrange their hair or dresses properly due to the excitement. They were breathing heavily from running to catch a glimpse of Visvambhara. Throwing away their shyness, the women went quickly to see the beautiful form of Gaurasundara. They shouted and called one another to come. Evenproud ladies dropped their arrogance and ran swiftly to' see the Lord. In fact, everyone in Navadvipa was running down the road.
The demigods stopped their celestial airplanes to relish Gauranga's all-attractive form. Their wives couldn't take their eyes off Gaura's beautiful face. Gandharvas, Kinnaras, and other heavenly ladies filled all directions with auspicious songs.
On the auspicious occassion of Gaurachandra's marriage, the village ladies of Nadia were singing: "Now comb your hair, put on a colorful new sari and decorate your eyes with kajjala. Let's dress up nicely and go see the marriage of Shri Visvambhara. Quickly put on your golden bangles, waist-bells, anklebells, and other glittering ornaments.
"Brush sindhur on your hairpart and put a dot of sandalwood paste on your forehead. Chew betel nuts to color your lips attractively, and take a betel-leaf in your left hand. The sight of Visvambhara pierces our hearts with the five arrows of Cupid; we can't control ourselves."
Flutes, vinas, conchshells, kettle-drums, karatalas, mrdangas, big wooden drums and small x-shaped drums blended together to produce a wonderful sweet rasa of sound. The residents of Navadvipa were intoxicated with joy.
Without shame they continually admired the face of Gaurasundara which defeats the pride of Cupid. In order to see the beauty of Gaurachandra, the housewives completely ignored the cries of their families. Howers falling from their scattered hair and their clothes disarrayed, they neglected their husbands and children and raced madly out of their houses. The residents of Nadia ran to see the Lord.
Locana Dasa says that all directions resounded with jubilation.
In this way the marriage procession of Shri Visvambhara went to the home of Vallabhacarya. Sounds of "Jail Jai F' vibrated in the sky. Gaura'S natural golden bodily effulgence combined with hundreds of lamps to illumine the whole house. After washing the Lord's feet, Vallabhacarya escorted the bridegroom into the house. Then Mahaprabhu stood on a wooden seat under a canopy bordered by four banana trees.
As Gauranga stands there with a nectarean smile on His lips, He looks like the full moon. The shimmering ornaments on His body seem like molten gold. His towering golden form challenges Mt. Sumeru. A divinely fragrant garland, appearing like the waves of the Ganges rolling down the Himalayas, swings from Gaura's body.
Seeing His beautiful forehead under the wedding crown, millions of Cupids feel dejected and hang their heads in shame. The fascinating movements of His ear-rings remove the pride of women. Wearing their best saris and their hearts full of joy, the ladies of Nadia greet the groom with bright lamps. A procession of ladies beginning with the elders and ending with Laksmi's mother circumambulate the bridegroom seven times. Then they joyfully pour yogurt on the Lord's feet.
After finishing this part of the marriage ceremony, Vallabhacarya told the women to bring the bride. Sitting upon a throne, the bride illuminated the earth with her radiant beauty. Laksmidevi was covered with resplendent ornaments and surrounded by many luminous lamps. Shining like the full moon, she removed the darkness of the night.
Laksmidevi circumambulated her Lord seven times and bowed down to His feet in submission. Following tradition, a curtain was drawn around the bride and groom, so that they could privately exchange their first loving glances. They looked long and deeply at each other, just like Candra and Rohini or Hara and Parvati. The guests threw flower petals on the newly- married couple and at each other. Everyone danced madly and happily chanted, "Hari ! Hari !"
Visvambhara, the husband of Kamala [Laksmidevi], sat His bride on His left side. Laksmi, her face blushing in shyness, sat beside the Lord. Then Vallabhacarya worshiped his son-in-law. Lord Brahma worshiped those same feet to get the power to create the world. From those feet, the Ganges descended to purify the people of the earth. Bali Maharaja donated three steps of land to those feet. Later he got their divine touch upon his head. A yogi got the post of Lord Siva by meditating on those feet. Laksmi joyfully worships them.
The eighteen Puranas describe Lord Visvambhara's partial incarnations including Vishnu, Varaha, Matsya, Kurma, Nrsimha, Vamana, Parasurama, Brgugama, Buddha, and Vyasa. That same Lord has become the son of Vallabhacarya, who has now become the most fortunate person in the world.
Gauranga's glories are so nectarean that even a stone-hearted man drops his atheistic attitude after hearing them. Darkness is dispelled by worshiping those feet which Vallabha bathed in water. That Lord to whom Indra, the master of heaven, had given a royal throne, Vallabhacarya offered a simple seat. That Lord, who was adorned in opulent divine raiment, was given ordinary cloth by Vallabhacarya.
Thinking over these things, Vallabhacarya systematically did the activities of the sacrifice. Nobody's fortune could surpass that of Vallabhacarya, whose daughter was accepted by the Supreme Lord of Vaikuntha. The Lord and His lady sat in a private room to takeprasada after completing the marriage rituals.
Hundreds of housewives and young girls sat around Laksmidevi and Visvambhara and joked with Them. The Lord' s sweet smile charmed everyone. One chaste girl said, "Visvambhara, listen to me. Take these betel-nuts and give them to Laksmi before she falls asleep. Personally put them in her mouth so we can all enjoy the sight."
One lady said, "Whose fortune can match Laksmi's, for she has become the wife of Lord Visvambhara." Another woman said, "What charity, austerities, and meditations did she do to get Visvambhara as her husband? Is there any chaste lady whose mind doesn't become restless upon seeing the splendid face of Gaurasundara?"
One young lady said, "His beauty steals the heart of even the proudest lady. Gaurachandra's face is so wonderfully attractive that everyone desires Him. Every beautiful woman longs to be embraced by His long, powerful arms. Laksmidevi will enjoy these features of Gaurachandra. But alas, when will we get the chance? Our only desire is to be His maidservants and serve Shri Gauranga-sasi."
In this way, the ladies of Nadia expressed their love for Visvambhara and His desrest Laksmidevi during Their joyous marriage ceremony.
The whole night passed in laughing and joking. At dawn Visvambhara did His morning duties, including the traditional Kusandika ceremony [fire yajna performed by newly married]. He performed the appropriate brahminical duties and distributed prasada to the assembled brahmanas. The next day, while the ladies stood around the Divine Couple, the older relatives worshiped Laksmidevi and Visvambhara.
Feeling simultaneously happy and sad, Vallabhacarya offered gifts of perfumes, durva grass, rice paddy, betel-nuts, and sandalwood to the bride and groom. He said, "I'm a poor, worthless man. How can I give You proper charity? I am extremely grateful to You for accepting my daughter as Your wife. I will become free from the miseries of material existence by taking shelter of Your lotus feet. I fully pleased the demigods and my ancestors by' offering my daughter to You. Your lotus feet are continuously worshiped by Lord Brahma, Siva and other demigods.
"My Lord, I have another request. Visvambhara, please listen." Suddenly, Vallabhacarya's voice choked up and tears flooded his eyes. Placing Laksmi's hand into Visvambhara's, Vallabha said, "From today on, I'm giving my daughter to You. Now she belongs to You. Please protect and maintain her.
"In my house Laksmi was like a queen. Now she will become Your maidservant and Your mother's daughter-in-law. Behaving like the reigning queen of my house, Laksmi enjoyed a lot of freedom. She would sometimes act capriciously while eating with her mother. She used to sit on our laps..She's our only child, our darling daughter.
"What more can I say? Now she's Yours. Being overcome by illusion, I've just said these things. Actually, it's my strong affection for Laksmidevi, who is the most fortunate girl in the universe, that makes me speak like this." After saying this, Vallabhacarya checked his emotions. Still, he shed tears of love and his eyes turned red like the rising sun.
Taking His dear Laksmi on His left side, Visvambhara left the house on a palanquin. A huge procession of musicians, dancers, and singers accompanied the Lord. The atmosphere was alive with waves of joy. Demigods in the heavens followed Them in flower airplanes.
Meanwhile at Visvambhara's house, Sacimata and other ladies happily prepared to welcome Laksmidevi and the Lord. Water pots covered with mango twigs and coconuts were placed beside the front door. The ladies offered incense, ghee lamps, and other auspicious articles to the Lord as He entered the house. Everyone was in a festive mood. Musicians, dancers, and singers performed spontaneously. Many ladies ululated and chanted "Jai! Jai !"
Sacidevi felt unlimited delighi' as she sat her son and daughter-inlaw on her lap. Taking the Divine Couple to her room, she gave them durva grass and rice paddy. Then she blessed them that they would live forever. Sacimata affectionately kissed Visvambhara's cheeks, glanced at, and then kissed Laksmidevi too. Abundant bliss permeated every room in Sacidevi's house.
Locana Dasa finds tremendous happiness in singing the glories of Gauranga.