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Summary of Lord Gauranga's Pastimes
By His Holiness Bhakti Vikasa Swami
Lord Chaitanya has many names. His father called Him Visvambhara, but in His youth He was known as Nimai Pandita. Later, although His sannyasa name was Shri Krishna Chaitanya, He became widely known as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And throughout His pastimes He is called Gauranga—or Gaurahari—because of His fair, golden complexion.
The first twenty-four years of Lord Gauranga’s pastimes took place in Navadvipa, West Bengal. Then, at age twenty-four, He renounced family life and took the order of sannyasa. Making Jagannatha Puri His headquarters, Lord Gauranga spent the first six years of His sannyasa life traveling between South India, Bengal and Vrndavana. For the remaining eighteen years of His manifest presence on earth, He stayed in Puri, where He drifted into ever deeper ecstasies of love for Krishna.
The ecstasies exhibited by Lord Gauranga are unparalleled in the history of Eastern or Western religious mysticism. Lord Gauranga’s biographers have recorded that sometimes, in the ecstasy of separation from Krishna, Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s head, arms and legs would merge into His body like a tortoise. At other times, His limbs would become disjointed from the rest of His body and remain connected by skin only. Often, when Gauranga Mahaprabhu was chanting Hare Krishna and dancing, His body would become covered with goose pimples, water would squirt from His eyes as if from a syringe, and foam would come from His mouth . He would jump high in the air like a golden mountain , and crashed down so heavily that the earth would shake. But in His ecstasy He felt no pain and continued to chant Hare Krishna. While acknowledging such symptoms to be those of a person on the level of Krishna prema, Gaudiya Vaishnava scriptures state that they cannot be experienced in an ordinary human body.
As Lord Gauranga is wonderful, so are His devotees. Actually, they are all eternally liberated associates of Krishna, who accompanied Him in His golden incarnation to perform pastimes with Him. Biographers of Lord Gauranga have recorded that His father, Jagannatha Misra, is a combined incarnation of Vasudeva and Nanda Maharaja (the father and foster father of Krishna in His Dvapara-yuga lila); His mother, Sacimata, is a combined incarnation of Devaki and Yasoda (Krishna’s mother and foster mother); Nityananda Prabhu is Balarama; Advaita Acarya is Mahavisnu; Gadadhara is Radharani; Shrivasa Thakura is Narada Muni; Paramananda Puri is Uddhava; Svarupa Damodara is Vishakha; and Ramananda Raya is Lalita.(not the other way around?) After Lord Gauranga left Navadvipa, all His grhastha devotees from Bengal, headed by Sivananda Sena, would go to Puri almost every year to see the Ratha-yatra of Lord Jagannatha, and they would stay with Lord Gauranga throughout the four months of the rainy season.
Lord Gauranga appeared in this world at a time of great changes, both in the West and in the East. In Europe the Renaissance was flourishing, inspiring navigators to find new territories, astronomers to explore the heavens, and scholars to discover facts about the universe—an overall challenge to ’traditional ways of thinking.
Simultaneously in India, a different kind of Renaissance was taking place. Various social factors—evangelistic pressure from the Muslim invaders, and oppression from ill-motivated members of the higher castes within the Hindu community—led to a revival of the bhakti movement on the subcontinent.
At that time the city of Navadvipa in Bengal was famous as a great center of learning and scholarship. Located on the bank of the river Ganga, it was a suitable place for brahmanas to live, and many came to reside there, from other parts of Bengal and from the rest of India. One such brahmana, Shri Jagannatha Misra, migrated from Shrihatta (Sylhet in today’s Bangladesh) and settled on the bank of the Ganga in Mayapura, which is part of Navadvipa . Jagannatha Misra was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. His wife, Saci devi, also came from a respectable brahmana family.
Navadvipa’s reputation as a place of learning and scholarship was actually undeserved, because the people of Navadvipa had no real knowledge of the purpose of life. Materialistic to the extreme, they engaged in all kinds of superfluous religious activities, including such foolish rituals as marriage ceremonies for cats and dogs.
The Vaishnava community of Navadvipa deplored this situation. Their leader, Shri Advaita Acarya, longed for the Supreme Personality of Godhead to appear and rectify all this nonsense. To this end, he worshiped And Lord Krishna did appear—as the son of Saci devi and Jagannatha Misra. Sacimata’s pregnancy went on for thirteen months. During that time, Jagannatha Misra would sometimes see divine beings in his house, but couldn’t understand that they were demigods coming to pray to Lord Gauranga within the womb.Lord Vishnu with Tulasi leaves and Ganga water and called out for Lord Krishna to appear.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, appeared on the full moon night of the month of Phalguna in the year 1407 Shakabda (February 1486 AD), as the youngest of Jagannatha Misra’s children. The Lord’s sisters had already passed away; only Visvarupa, his elder brother, remained.
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu was born during an eclipse of the full moon. As per tradition, the Hindu residents of Navadvipa stood in the River Ganga during the lunar eclipse and chanted the divine names of Hari. Hearing them chant “Hari! Hari!” many Muslims—at that time Bengal was under Muslim rule and many Muslims lived in Navadvipa -- were mocking the Hindus by imitating their chanting. In this way, with the whole of Navadvipa vibrating the name of Shri Hari, Lord Gauranga, Gaurahari, advented Himself.
When Shrimati Sitadevi, the wife of Advaita Acarya, came to see the baby, she could appreciate that this beautiful, golden-complexioned boy had exactly the same features as Lord Shri Krishna and that He must be Krishna Himself, but with a different complexion. She gave Him the name Nimai, because He was born under a Nim tree, and also because the Nim tree is supposed to be effective against evil spirits. Since most of Sacimata’s other children had died, Sitadevi wanted to protect the new child from evil spirits.
Lord Gauranga’s maternal grandfather, Shri Nilambara Cakravarti, was a learned astrologer. When he made his grandson’s chart he found that the child was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But he did not disclose this fact to anyone.
At the opportune time for the name-giving ceremony,Nilambara Cakravati, the other relatives, and local scholars met to choose a name for the boy. “As soon as this boy was born,” they said, “famine ended in the land, the farmers were blessed with rain and the earth again became happy and prosperous, as if Lord Narayana Himself were protecting the earth. Therefore this boy should be given the name ‘Shri Visvambhara’ (“the maintainer of the worlds”). After all, it is written in His horoscope that He will be a brilliant lamp shining in His family. The name ‘Nimai’ may remain as a secondary name.”
At the most auspicious moment of the name-giving ceremony, the brahmanas chanted verses from the Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad-Bhagavatam and the Vedas, while demigods and humans chanted the holy names of Lord Hari, sounded conchshells and rang bells. Rice, a book, puffed rice, coins, gold, silver and other objects were placed before the infant boy. Jagannatha Misra said, “O Visvambhara my son, please listen. At once grasp whatever touches Your heart.” Ignoring everything else, the infant picked up Shrimad-Bhagavatam and embraced it. The ladies filled the four walls with sounds of “Jaya!” Everyone said, “He will be a great pandita.”
. . .
As a a beautiful child with a golden complexion, Lord Gauranga was popular with the neighboring brahmana ladies. When they came to see Him He used to play a game with them. He would start crying, and would only stop when the ladies chanted “Hari! Hari!” In this way He made them chant all day, and the house of Jagannatha Misra was always resounding with the name of the Lord, Shri Hari.
. . .
One evening Nimai saw the full moon in the sky. “Mother, mother,” He called out, “give Me the moon. I want it. Give it to Me.” He started crying. Mother Sacidevi did not know what to do. So she went inside the house, took a nice picture of Krishna and gave it to her little baby Gauranga. When Gaurachandra, the golden moon of Lord Gauranga, saw Krishnacandra, the blackish moonlike form of Lord Krishna, He was completely pacified.
. . .
One day Sacimata and Jagannatha Misra found Nimai playing in the courtyard of their house with a big snake. They didn’t know what to do. Actually the snake was Anantadeva, the resting place of Lord Vishnu. After some time the snake crawled all around the body of the Lord and simply went away.
. . .
Once, two thieves wandered in the neighborhood. Their specialty was kidnapping children and stealing their jewelry. Having spotted baby Nimai, they picked Him up and ran away with Him. Unable to find her child, Sacidevi became very upset. She called all the people to look for their beloved Nimai. Meanwhile, under the influence of yogamaya (the internal potency of the Lord), the bewildered thieves ran back full circle to the house of Jagannatha Misra. Seeing so many people looking for the child, they quickly put Nimai down and ran away, lest they be caught.
. . .
Once, when Lord Gauranga was a little older, His mother found Him eating dirt. “Why are you eating dirt?” His mother asked. “I can give you so many nice sweets.”
Nimai replied “What’s the difference? It’s all one. These sweets are produced from the earth, so whether I eat the sweet or the dirt, it’s all the same.”
Being the wife of a learned Vaishnava brahmana, Sacimata could understand that Nimai was speaking Advaita-vada, the erroneous philosophy of absolute monism.. Sacimata explained that a clay pot is also a transformation of earth, but it is not possible to store water by pouring it on a lump of clay. In the same way, she concluded, the earth doesn’t serve the same purpose as a sweet. Accepting the impracticality of monism, Lord Gauranga agreed with His mother and said “All right, from now on give Me sweets, and I’ll no longer eat dirt.”
. . .
One time, a brahmana on pilgrimage arrived in Navadvipa. Jagannatha Misra gave him shelter and supplied him with rice and other ingredients to cook for his Salagrama sila . After the brahmana cooked, he offered everything to Lord Vishnu in the form of Salagrama sila; but just as he was offering it, baby Nimai came, took some of the rice, and ate it.
“Oh, now the offering is spoilt,” the brahmana thought.
When he told Jagannatha Misra that his naughty son had spoilt the offering, Jagannatha Misra said “Never mind, you please cook again.” And he gave the brahmana more items for cooking. But as the brahmana was offering the newly prepared food, Nimai again came and tasted the offering. Again the brahmana complained to Jagannatha Misra. Becoming a little angry at his son, Jagannatha Misra locked Him in a room. After apologizing to the brahmana, he asked him to please prepare another offering. By the time he made the offering it was midnight and everyone was asleep. Yet, baby Nimai again came and spoilt the brahmana’ s offering.
The brahmana was in tears. “Lord Vishnu doesn’t want me to eat today,” he thought. “I must have caused some offense.”
Nimai then spoke to him: “Don’t you know that I am the same Lord Vishnu you are making offerings to every day?” He then revealed His Vishnu form to the brahmana and forbade him to tell anyone about it. In this way He blessed the traveling brahmana.
. . .
Two brahmana devotees, Hiranya and Jagadisa, lived in a different part of Navadvipa. Once on the Ekadashi day, they offered special puja to Lord Vishnu. Although they were observing the festival privately, they cooked many nice items for the pleasure of Lord Vishnu. Somehow little Nimai walked a long distance from His home, and demanded the special offerings they had made. The devotees wondered how the child got to know about this special puja, but they gave Him the food anyway.
. . .
As Nimai grew up He became very naughty, just like Krishna in His childhood. One name of Krishna is Dusta Mohana—very naughty young boy. He is dusta, naughty, but at the same time His charming behavior enchants the mind (mohan). Nimai was like that.
Every day at midday the brahmanas would stand in the River Ganga to offer their prayers and say their Gayatri mantra. Naughty Nimai would often come at that time and splash water on them. Sometimes He would even dive under the water, catch the brahmanas by the legs and make them lose their balance.
Naturally the brahmanas were very disturbed, and they would go to Jagannatha Misra to complain. But crafty Nimai would quickly jump out of the water, get dressed and put ink on His fingers, as if He had just come from school and had never taken bath at all. When the brahmanas complained, He would wave His fingers and say, “Look father, I have just come from school. I haven’t been to the Ganga at all. They are making false complaints about Me.”
Nimai also used to play with the little girls of the area. The girls would go to the Ganga and offer puja to Lord Siva with the idea of getting a good husband. Nimai would go there and demand that the girls give Him all the nice articles and foodstuffs meant for Lord Siva. He promised that in return He would bless them with very nice husbands; but, He said, if they didn’t give Him the offerings, he would curse them to get old husbands who already had several wives’. The girls would chastise Nimai, “What are You doing? You are spoiling our puja.” Actually, they just pretended to be angry. They were quite happy to play the game with Nimai.
. . .
One time, Nimai playfully struck His mother. Pretending to faint, Sacimata fell down. The nearby ladies told Nimai, “You must bring her some coconut water. That will bring her back to consciousness.” Nimai rushed out and came back with some coconuts. Nobody knew where He could have got them so quickly. In this way, Nimai’s activities used to bewilder and enchant the residents of Navadvipa.
. . .
One day, when Lord Gauranga was walking along the bank of the Ganga, He saw a young girl named Laksmi devi. She was actually an incarnation of Laksmi, and since Lord Gauranga is Krishna, She is His eternal consort. Upon seeing each other, Their affection for each other awakened. Laksmi devi had brought paraphernalia, garlands and sweets to offer to Lord Vishnu, but upon seeing Nimai, She immediately offered them to Him.
. . .
One night a divine being appeared to Jagannatha Misra in a dream and reprimanded him for always chastising Nimai. Jagannatha Misra explained that the boy was very naughty.
“If your child is already a great elevated personality,” the divine being replied, “what will be the benefit in chastising Him? You should stop.”
Jagannatha Misra replied “Even if my son is Lord Narayana Himself, I am His father. It is my duty to correct Him and I will continue to do so.” The divine being was happy to hear that, and he disappeared.
. . .
Jagannatha Misra and Saci devi were trying to arrange a marriage for Lord Gauranga’s older brother, Visvarupa. Upon hearing of it,Visvarupa immediately took sannyasa and disappeared forever. Jagannatha Misra and Sacimata became very sorry, so much so that Nimai made them a promise. “My dear parents,” He said, “don’t worry. It is very auspicious for our family that Visvarupa has taken sannyasa. But I will look after you and serve you in your old age.”
. . .
One day Sacidevi saw Nimai sitting on a heap of used pots. (FOOTNOTE In those days people used earthen pots for cooking. They would use them once and then throw them away, considering them unclean.) “Why are you sitting in this dirty place?” Sacidevi asked. At this, Nimai inaugurated a complex discussion on the nature of purity and impurity, and Sacidevi was surprised to see such a strong philosophical bent of mind in her young child.
. . .
Once, when a beggar came around, banging on his drum, chanting the glories of Lord Siva. young Lord Gauranga assumed the form of Lord Siva and danced on the Saivite’s shoulders.
. . .
Later, Jagannatha Misra performed the sacred thread ceremony for Nimai, and sent Him to the school of Gangadas Pandita. Within a short time Nimai learned everything about logic, grammar and philosophy, and He quickly became known as a great scholar in Navadvipa. At that time Jagannatha Misra suddenly passed away. Sacimata, who was already so attached to her Nimai—her only son living at home—became even more attached to Him.
After the passing of Jagannatha Misra, Nimai’s naughty behavior subsided. Nimai became very serious in following the prescribed duties of the brahminical order, carefully avoided the association of persons who were not serious about spiritual life, and regularly performed the Sandhya vandanam. And in the Sanskrit school He was running, He insisted on the same standard. If any pupil came to school without tilaka, He would send him home and tell him to come back only after having putting it on. Nimai was assiduos in study and never wasted time in idle gossip. He never looked lustfully at or dallied with women.
Having become expert in Sanskrit grammar and argument, Nimai took pleasure in arguing with the many scholars of Navadvipa. He was so forceful in debate that everyone was afraid to meet Him. He would make a statement and ask the panditas to refute it. After they did, He would defeat their argument with a new one and then say, “Now defeat my argument.” But nobody could defeat Him, so He would defeat His own argument. In this way He became known as a great scholar and looked like a proud young pandita.
Shrivasa Pandita, one of the Vaishnavas in Navadvipa, once met Nimai on the path to the Ganga and told Him “My dear Nimai, You belong to a well-respected brahmana family, You are attentive to Your studies and spiritual duties—everything about You is nice. If You would only become a Vaishnava, then all Your studies, Your good family background—everything would become perfect. Don’t You know that unless You worship Krishna, all Your study is useless? The goal of study is Krishna. If You simply study without dedicating Your life to Krishna, You will become arrogant.”
Nimai replied, “My dear Shrivasa, if I could get the blessings and association of great devotees like yourself, then surely I could develop Krishna-bhakti.”
Nimai had a policy of always inviting sannyasis and learned men to His home for lunch prasada. One such guest was Isvara Puri, a great Vaishnava sannyasi disciple of Madhavendra Puri . He had written a book called Shri Krishna Lilamrta, which he showed to Nimai. “Nimai you are famous as an expert in Sanskrit grammar. I am not very expert in Sanskrit, but I have written this book. Please go through it and correct any mistakes.”
Nimai replied, “My dear sir, you are such a great devotee. There can be no mistake in your book. Even if superficially there may be some mistake, your writing is perfect because it is inspired by Krishna.”
Nimai used to stroll around the city and meet all kinds of people without considering their caste or background. He used to visit the homes of lepers, milkmen, merchants, garland makers, and deal with everyone very sweetly. In this way He became very dear to the people of Navadvipa, and wherever He went people presented Him with gifts.
One time Nimai met an astrologer. “Could you please tell me about My past life?” He asked. The astrologer calculated, and in his meditation he saw this beautiful young brahmana boy as the Supreme Truth, the source of all the universes.
He was astonished. In great awe and reverence he said, “My dear sir, I see that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master and controller of all the universes.”
Nimai said, “You are not a very good astrologer. I happen to know that in My past life I was a cowherd boy.” The astrologer became very confused.
In Navadvipa lived a great devotee called Shridhara. His income came from selling bananas, banana stalks, radishes and banana leaf cups. In Bengal bananas grow all over, so it’s not possible to make a good income by selling banana leaves. Still, Shridhara used half of whatever income he made to worship Mother Ganga. Every night he would loudly call out the names “Hari! Narayana!” His neighbors were annoyed because his chanting was disturbing their sleep. “This wretched Shridhara,” they would say, “his stomach is empty, so he cannot sleep; and therefore he is calling out in distress.”
Nimai was fond of Shridhara, and He used to joke with him and tease him. He would snatch vegetables from him, offer him a price far too low, and pressure him into giving Him the vegetables for free. And He would ask, “Why are you worshiping Laksmi-Narayana? What is the use of such worship? They don’t give you anything. You are such a poor man. You live in such a run-down old house. Why don’t you worship the demigods? They can help you.”
Shridhara would reply, “My dear Nimai Pandita, time respects nobody. Whether one is rich or poor, an animal or a bird, time keeps him engaged in getting the results of his previous activities. Both men and animals enjoy life by eating, drinking, sleeping and other sensual enjoyments, but worship of Lord Shri Hari can only be done by human beings. So if the human beings do not worship God, they are no better than the animals. That is why I do not care about my home. I pray to my worshipable Lord without any desire for anything material.”
Hearing his speech Nimai would joke, “I think you are a cheater. You have plenty of hidden treasure and are just pretending to be a poor man. If you don’t give Me a share of your treasure I will expose you to others.”
“I am a poor man,” Shridhara would reply. “How can I give You anything? You are a respectable brahmana. Why are You behaving with me in this way? “
But Nimai would persist in His demands, and in the end Shridhara would have to give in. “All right, take any vegetable You want.”Nimai used to take freely from him every day.
“Who do you think I am?” Nimai would ask Shridhara.
“You’re a young brahmana boy, part and parcel of Krishna.”
“No, you are wrong. I am the maintainer of the Ganga whom you worship.”
Unable to recognize the truth of such words, Shridhara would cover his ears with his hands and shout, “Vishnu! Vishnu! What are You speaking? How can You claim Yourself to be God? Generally, as people get older they become more wise, but in You I find the opposite to be true.” Shridhara failed to recognize that the Lord of his heart had come to joke with him.
. . .
Nimai married Shrimati Laksmi Priya devi. An ideal wife, Laksmi Priya performed all household duties nicely and was alwaysrespectful towards Mother Saci . She was always cheerful and happy to serve Her Lord’s guests.
Nimai used to generously give food and clothing to the poor. Saci devi was worried. “How can we maintain such a lifestyle? We are always feeding so many people. We have no land, no fixed income. How can we do it?”
Nimai would reply, “Mother, please don’t cry. Lord Krishna is the maintainer of the whole universe. If we depend on Him, surely He will manage everything for us.” And it so happened that many gifts and things kept coming to Nimai’s house without Him or His family members asking for anything.
In order to bring income to His household, Nimai decided to go to East Bengal to teach. He also wanted to visit the home of His paternal ancestors in Shrihatta. His secret motive, however, was to spread the chanting of the holy name among the people of East Bengal. During His travels in East Bengal many people came to hear Him. They were very happy to hear from Him, and they gave Him many gifts.
In Shrihatta lived one brahmana called Tapana Misra. Eager to know the meaning of life and how to attain it, Tapana Misra used to study many books, but the more books he read, the more confused he became. In a dream one night, he got some direction. “Misra, why are you reading so many books? The one who can solve all your problems and answer all your questions is very near by. He is Nimai Pandita. Go visit him.” The next morning Tapana Misra visited Nimai and told Him of his situation.
Nimai explained that one cannot understand the meaning of life by becoming a bookworm. In Kali-yuga one should simply chant the holy names of the Lord. Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha.”In this age of Kali one should simply chant the holy names, chant the holy names, chant the holy names of Lord Shri Hari. There is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way.”
Nimai advised Tapana Misra to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, and assured him that he could achieve all success by constant chanting. Tapana Misra wanted to renounce the world and follow Nimai, but Nimai told him to settle in Varanasi, where He would meet him later.
While Nimai was in East Bengal His wife was bitten by the serpent of separation and died. When Nimai came back to Navadvipa—with much accumulated wealth—He consoled His mother, and at her request He married again. Since Nimai was now such a reputed scholar, His wedding festival was one of the greatest ever seen in Bengal. His new wife’s name was Vishnu Priya.
. . .
Once a great scholar from Kashmir, Kesava Kashmiri, visited Navadvipa. He was a digvijaya pandita. (The word digvijaya is a title given to one who has successfully defeated all other scholars in debate.) Kesava Kashmiri would go from place to place, challenging in argument and defeating whomever he met. When news of his arrival in Navadvipa got around, all the panditas discreetly vanished. The only scholar left in the whole town was young Nimai.
One night, while wandering with His students on the bank of the Ganga, Nimai met Kesava Kashmiri. Offering him all respects, Nimai asked him to demonstrate his scholarship by reciting some verses in praise of Mother Ganga. Within half an hour, Kesava Kashmiri composed one hundred verses in praise of mother Ganga. Nimai then asked him to further demonstrate his skills by analyzing the qualities and faults of a particular verse. Kesava Kashmiri protested that the verses were flawless. But when Nimai begain to recite one of the verses Kesava Kashmiri had just recited, the digvijaya pandita was astonished.
“How could you repeat that verse?” he asked. “I recited those verses like the blowing wind; how can you remember even one of them?“
Nimai replied, “As you are blessed by Mother Sarasvati, so am I. I am a sruti dhara. Anything I hear I remember exactly.” Kesava Kashmiri proceeded to analyze the verse, pointing out the merits of the Sanskrit composition. “There is not even a trace of a flaw in this verse,” he concluded.
“If you don’t mind,” Nimai said, “I could also say something about this verse.” The digvijaya pandita was reluctant to let Nimai speak, thinking that such a young boy didn’t have the right to speak on a verse composed by such a great scholar as he. But Nimai pointed out some more qualities that Kesava Kashmiri had not found. Then He began to point out some serious faults He had found in the composition. “Actually,” He said, “there are unlimited faults in this composition. I am just pointing out the main ones.”
Kesava Kashmiri was speechless. He went back to his residence and worshiped Mother Sarasvati. “My dear Mother Sarasvati,” he prayed, “up until now you have blessed me with the ability to conquer all other panditas, but tonight you have insulted me through the mouth of a young boy. Why? What offense have I committed against you?”
Then Kesava Kashmiri took rest and Mother Sarasvati appeared in his dream.” “Kesava,” she said, “He who has defeated you is my worshipable Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You should go and surrender to Him.” The next morning Kesava Kashmiri went to Nimai, and Nimai graciously accepted the submission of the great Kesava Kashmiri. Nimai’s reputation as a scholar reached its peak.
Nimai went to Gaya with some of His disciples to perform the sraddha ceremony for his departed father. Upon taking darsana of Vishnupada, the imprint of the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, He became overwhelmed with ecstasy. Isvara Puri, whom Nimai had once entertained as a guest in Navadvipa, happened to be in Gaya. He and Nimai greeted and embraced each other with tears of joy.Nimai said, “My pilgrimage to Gaya has now become successful, because I have had the darsana of a great personality like yourself. Actually, your lotus feet are themselves the abode of all the holy places. Therefore, I would like to dedicate Myself to them.
Nimai Pandita asked Isvara Puri to give Him initiation, and Isvara Puri told Him to chant the names of Krishna. At the same time, Isvara Puri chastised Him. “Nimai,” he said, “You think You are a great pandita, but actually You are not able to study Vedanta.”
Why did Lord Gauranga accept a guru when He is God Himself, and how could Isvara Puri chastise Him as having no knowledge, and as being unfit to study? These are pertinent questions, because Lord Gauranga is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the object of all knowledge, the source of all knowledge, and even from the external point of view a great scholar. The answer is that even though Lord Gauranga is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He accepts a guru just to stress the necessity for everyone to accept a guru. For the same reason, Lord Krishna Himself accepted Sandipani Muni as His guru.
By chastising Lord Gauranga, Isvara Puri showed that everybody should be ready to accept chastisement from the guru. Isvara Puri’s words to the Lord—“You are a fool; You are not qualified to study”—set the example for this age . One cannot understand the Absolute Truth by scholarship alone. Chanting the holy names is essential. Therefore, Isvara Puri told Lord Gauranga to chant the holy names incessantly.
Lord Gauranga followed this instruction, and after some time He came back to Isvara Puri. “My dear Lord,” He said, “what kind of mantra have you given Me? By chanting this mantra I have become a madman. While chanting Hare Krishna, sometimes I dance, sometimes I cry, sometimes I fall on the ground.”
Isvara Puri laughed. “My dear boy, it is very good that You have achieved the perfection of life by chanting Hare Krishna. It is the very nature of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra that anyone who chants it becomes attached to Krishna. So go on chanting and induce others to chant, and in this way save the whole world by spreading the sankirtana movement.”
After this, Lord Gauranga gave up His pride of scholarship and became completely intoxicated with love of Krishna. On the way back to Navadvipa He was chanting Hare Krishna in ecstasy.His students had to assist Him on the journey because He kept losing consciousness in His ecstasy of love of Krishna.
Back in Navadvipa, Lord Gauranga started His sankirtana movement. He would take parties all around town every day to chant Hare Krishna with mrdangas and karatalas. At His school He would explain every word and every syllable to mean Krishna. His pupils started complaining: “Your system of education has changed. What You are teaching is not accepted by other scholars. How shall we learn anything?”
Nimai said, “I am very sorry but nowadays it is beyond My ability to explain anything except Krishna. So, if you like you can stay; otherwise I shall have to close the school.” The pupils left, and Nimai closed the school. In the day He would meet with Vaishnavas and discuss about Krishna, and at night He would chant Hare Krishna with the Vaishnavas of Navadvipa. Shrivasa Pandita and Haridasa Thakura were very pleased to see the change in Nimai. Others were surprised and not very pleased. Saci devi thought Her son had become mad, and indeed He was acting as if mad.
One day Nimai asked Gadadhara Pandita, His intimate friend from childhood, “Gadadhara, where is Krishna? Please tell Me where is Krishna?” Gadadhara replied, “Krishna is with You; He is in Your heart.” On hearing this, Nimai started to rip His skin with His fingers to try to extract Krishna from His heart. “Don’t worry. Don’t worry,” Gadadhara consoled Him, “Krishna is coming soon.” In this way Nimai became pacified.
Seeing all this, Saci devi said to Gadadhara, “You are a very intelligent boy, you should stay with Nimai all the time and protect Him.”
Saci devi asked Nimai, “Why are You always chanting the name of Krishna now?”
Nimai explained, “All the scriptures point toward Krishna. The Holy names, qualities, and pastimes of Krishna are the only eternal truths of the scriptures. Other writings have no absolute value. Only those scriptures that describe Krishna are to be relied upon and regarded as sacred.” Nimai asked Saci devi to take up Krishna consciousness in full sincerity and enthusiasm. Saci devi agreed, and she also became merged in the ecstasy of Krishna consciousness.
To set an example for people in general, Lord Gauranga started serving the devotees. When Shrivasa Pandita and others would go to the Ganga for their bath, Nimai would walk behind them and carry their clothes, puja items, candana paste, and flower baskets and wait for them to take their bath. In this way, He showed how devotees should be served—even though He is the ultimate object of service for all devotees.
Gauranga was becoming more and more intoxicated with love of Krishna. Without caring for others, sometimes He laughed, sometimes He wept, and sometimes He danced and sang like a madman. Unable to understand His behavior, Saci devi asked the neighbors for advice. The neighbors thought Nimai was an epileptic, and they advised her to apply medical ointment to His head.
Dismissing their advice, Saci devi prayed to Govinda, the family Deity, for help. And she called Shrivasa Pandita, whom she very much respected, to help her find a cure. When Gauranga saw the great devotee Shrivasa Pandita in His house He became more ecstatic. Shrivasa informed Saci devi, “There is no cause for worry. Your son is exhibiting the symptoms of a maha bhagavata devotee of Krishna. To see Him in this condition should be a cause of great joy for you.” Although Saci devi was somewhat consoled, she still worried that, out of religious ecstasy, her son would leave home and become a mendicant, as His older brother had done.
One day, seeing the cows grazing on the bank of the Ganga, Gauranga remembered His lila in Vraja and called out, “I am He! I am He!” He ran to the house of Shrivasa Pandita, who was worshiping his Deity of Lord Nrsimhadeva. “O Shrivasa,” He exclaimed, “Behold He whom you worship. He is now present before you.” Shrivasa opened his eyes and beheld Gauranga in a four-armed form, holding a conch, disc, club and lotus flower. Overwhelmed, Shrivasa Pandita began shedding tears of ecstatic love. Gauranga then asked Shrivasa Pandita to worship Him with all the paraphernalia that he had prepared for worshiping Nrsimhadeva. Having done this, all the family members bowed down before Gauranga, who was pleased to put His lotus feet upon their heads.
Lord Gauranga showed His form as Krishna, to Shrivasa Pandita. He told him,“Do not to be afraid of those who are opposed to the sankirtana movement. Because I am in everybody’s hearts, no one can do anything against My will. I can make even the wild animals in the jungle full of Krishna-prema.” To prove His point the Lord called Narayani, Shrivasa’s four-year old niece, and told her “Narayani, chant Hare Krishna and cry in ecstasy.” Immediately, Narayani began dancing and weeping, intoxicated with the ecstasy of divine love. From that time, Shrivasa Pandita and his family became staunch followers of Lord Gauranga, and every night they would have sankirtana all night long in his house.
Sometimes, just before sunrise, Lord Gauranga would take His devotees in a sankirtana procession to the neighboring towns and villages. To the sound of mrdangas and karatalas, Lord Gauranga would dance along the path, His body shimmering in ecstasy, the ankle bells on His feet sweetly chiming. Loudly the devotees would call out Krishna’s names: “Mukunda! Madhava! Yadava! Hari!” and request people to do the same. “Why are you uselessly wasting your lives simply caring for the body?” they would ask the townsfolk. “Can’t you see what a rare gift this human form of life is? You should worship Lord Krishna, the darling of Mother Yasoda. If you don’t, then you will fall into the darkest ignorance. Now that the sun has risen you are getting ready for a busy day, but you do not consider that with each rising and setting of the sun, the duration of your life is being reduced. Why do you not care to worship the Lord of your heart, Shri Krishna? This life is temporary and full of various dangers and miseries. Therefore, while going on with your daily activities, you should take shelter of the holy name of Krishna. The all-attractive name of Krishna has arisen to give benediction to the living entities. Take shelter of that holy name, the essence of all nectar! There is nothing but the name to be had in the fourteen worlds.” In this way, Lord Gauranga and His followers would go from town to town, village to village, chant Hare Krishna and preach the message of Krishna consciousness.
At that time Nityananda Prabhu, the incarnation of Lord Balarama, came to Navadvipa. He had appeared in another part of Bengal, but from the time, at an early age, when a wandering sannyasi had come to His home and taken Him away with him, He had been traveling all over Bharata-varsa. While in Mathura He came to know that Gauranga lived in Navadvipa, so He went there and hid Himself in the house of Nandana Acarya. Gauranga knew that Nityananda had come to Navadvipa, so He sent out followers to find Him. They searched every place all over the town--even the cowsheds--but could not find Him.
When they came back to the Lord, Gauranga said “Don’t you know that Nityananda is the Supreme Personality of Godhead? You cannot find Him simply by looking for Him. Only when He is pleased with your service will He reveal Himself to you.” Then Lord Gauranga proceeded to the house of Nandana Acarya to meet Lord Nityananda. As the two Lords embraced and rolled on the ground in the ecstasy of meeting each other, all the devotees were overwhelmed with ecstatic Krishna-prema, and held a tremendous sankirtana festival.
. . .
Now completely estranged from the society of wrangling scholars, Lord Gauranga had become the center of the Vaishnava revival in Navadvipa. And Shrivasa Pandita’s house, which is known as Shrivasa Angan, became the center of His activities.
On Vyasa Puja day, Guru Purnima , Nityananda prabhu wanted to worship Gauranga Mahaprabhu in the house of Shrivasa Pandita. The devotees performed the Vyasa Puja ceremony there, and Lord Gauranga showed His Satbhuja murti (six-armed form) to Advaita Acarya.
Another day, while sankirtana was going on at Shrivasa Angan, Lord Gauranga sat on the throne of Vishnu and revealed to the devotees His magnificent glory, power, beauty and opulence. Then He had them worship Him with flowers, tulasi, Ganges water and all kinds of sweets and offerings. The great Vaishnava acarya Bhaktivinoda Thakura has envisioned this Vyasa Puja scene, and he has sung a song describing it: “All glories, all glories to the beautiful arati ceremony of Lord Shri Krishna Gauranga Mahaprabhu, who is like a golden moon. That arati ceremony takes place on the banks of the Jahnavi, the river Ganga, in Navadvipa and attracts the minds of all the people of the universe. Lord Gauranga sits on a jeweled throne. To His right stands Nityananda, and to His left Advaita Acarya. Shrivasa Pandita stands close by, holding a royal umbrella over the Lord’s head. Lord Brahma, assisted by all the demigods, is performing the arati. Narahari (one of Lord Gauranga’s intimate associates) and others wave the yak tail whisk, while the brothers Sanjaya, Mukunda and Basu Ghosh sing very sweetly. Conches blow; bells ring; karatalas and hand cymbals chime and clash; mrdangas play sweetly and pleasingly. Lord Gauranga’s face shines more effulgently than millions of moons. Around His neck is an effulgent garland of forest flowers. Lord Siva, Narada Muni, Sukadeva Gosvami and others have come from all over the universe. With voices choked up in the ecstasy of love of God, they call out the glories of Gauranga.”
One of Shrivasa’s housemaids, Dukhi, was a faithful servant of Lord Gauranga. She brought water from the Ganga for the abhisheka, and at that time Lord Gauranga changed her name to Sukhi . The devotees began to sing hymns in praise of Lord Gauranga, beginning with the Purusa Sukta . They also sang of His different manifestations in different ages.
Then the Lord called the devotees one by one and told each one of them secrets about their lives—how they came to worship the Lord, how He had saved them, and so on. In this way He showed He knew the heart of every devotee and that He was protecting them all.
Lord Gauranga’s display of ecstasy and opulence lasted for twenty one hours. During that period He also called Shridhara. Although Shridhara had previously chastised Him for calling Himself Vishnu, this time he was very pleased to see that Gauranga actually was Lord Vishnu. But when Gauranga offered him whatever riches he wanted, Shridhara said “My dear Lord I don’t want any material benediction from You. I only want that wherever and whenever I may be born, Your lotus feet may be manifested in my heart.” Lord Gauranga was pleased to give him that benediction.
In this way He called all the devotees and revealed their inner hearts. But He didn’t call His childhood friend Mukunda.
“Why?” the devotees asked.
“I don’t want to see Mukunda,” Lord Gauranga replied.
“What is his fault?”
“He always mixes with Mayavadis [those persons who say that the Lord has no form, no name, no attributes and no qualities]. Don’t let him come.” Upon hearing this, Mukunda, who was waiting outside the door, became very unhappy. Through the devotees, he asked Lord Gauranga when he would again be able to see Him.
“After one million births,” the Lord replied.
Mukunda started to dance in ecstasy. “I may have to wait one million births,” he thought, “but I will see my Lord again.” When Lord Caitanaya heard that Mukunda was happy to wait so patiently for His darsana, He immediately sent for him. Warning him not to mix with persons who are envious of Krishna ever again, the Lord forgave him his offenses.
Gauranga was holding shri-nama-yajna every night at the house of Shrivasa Pandit, but no outsiders were allowed to enter the compound while sankirtana was going on. Even Shrivasa’s mother-in-law couldn’t enter because of her anti-devotional attitude. Finding the door shut against them, malicious men cast aspersions on the spotless character of the Lord’s devotees; but they couldn’t care less.
Upon being refused admittance into the compound, Gopal Capala retaliated by depositing wine and flesh outside the gate of Shrivasa Pandit . Due to this offense, Gopal Capala was attacked with leprosy and suffered for a long time.
Forbidden to enter the courtyard of Shrivasa Pandit, a foul-mouthed brahmana snapped his sacred thread in a fit of rage and cursed Gauranga: “Let your worldly happiness be at an end!” Gauranga accepted the curse with great pleasure, thus showing that complete destruction of worldly desires and prosperity is the sign of God’s grace.
One brahmacari, who subsisted on milk only, earnestly requested Shrivasa Pandit to give him entrance into the fold. But Gauranga turned him out as a foreign element and mere sightseer. “No amount of severe austerities or renunciation is enough to please Me,” He remarked. “I am pleased only by unadulterated devotion. The brahmacari accepted the chastisement with good grace and surrendered himself to the Lord’s lotus feet.
One night, when Gauranga and His devotees were lost in ecstatic dancing and in chanting the holy name, Shrivasa Pandit’sonly son breathed his last. Although the members of his family were overwhelmed with grief, Shrivasa Pandit stopped them from weeping, lest they disturb Gauranga’s ecstasy. Late that night, Gauranga got to know of the mishap. Immediately He went with His associates to the place where the dead body lay.
The departed soul appeared in that place, and explained to Him the mystery of his sudden departure: “I am a jiva [soul]. By the will of the Lord I came here and got Shrivasa Pandit and Malini Devi as my parents. My lifespan came to an end by the will of the Lord. I am now departing to another world. Please bless me, O Lord, that I may be Your eternal servitor wherever I shall be born. I offer my humble obeisances at Youand Your associates’ lotus feet. Please be merciful unto me.” The soul left his body amidst loud cheers of “Haribol,” and the members of Shrivasa’s family were relieved of their grief.
. . .
Suklambhara Brahmacari lived an exemplary life of service to the Supreme Lord in Navadvipa. One day, while returning to his hermitage after begging, he met Gauranga, who forcibly thrust His hand into his begging bag and ate some grains of rice out of it. The Lord did this to confirm the sastric truth that He accepts with great relish the humblest offering made with loving devotion, but does not care for the rich dishes of affluent atheists.
. . .
Once, when Gauranga was narrating the glories of the holy name to His devotees, a student tauntingly remarked “To say that salvation is possible only by the Lord’s name, to the exclusion of other religious practices, is an exaggeration. Such dogmatism should find no favor among learned pandits.”
Lord Gauranga exclaimed, “To consider the glories of the holy name to be eulogistic or merely exaggeration is a great offense against the holy name!” .
Gauranga instructed His disciples: “HARER NAMA HARER NAMA HARER NAMA EVA KEVALAM KALAU NASTY EVA NASTY EVA NASTY EVA GATIR ANYATHA. In Kali- yuga, Krishna, the Supreme Lord, has revealed Himself in the form of ‘nama’. The chanting of the holy name is the only panacea for all miseries. In this verse, the name of Hari has been repeated thrice to convince people that Hari’s name alone can dispel the gloom of their ignorance and liberate them from the bondage of maya. The word ‘nasty’ repeated thrice leaves no room for doubt that those who resort to processes other than devotional serviceare doomed to destruction.
“A devotee willing to chant the holy name must be humbler than a blade of grass and more forbearing than a tree. He must not give way to lust and anger, despite provocation. He should give due respect to others and not covet any respect for himself.”
. . .
While preaching the tenets of Gauranga, Nityananda and Haridas encountered the two brothers Jagai and Madhai. A storehouse of sins, vices and crimes, the brothers assaulted the missionaries. Madhai struck Nityananda with a piece of earthen pot, causing his’ forehead to bleed profusely. Instantly, Gauranga Prabhu came to the spot to punish the miscreants. In great anger He called for His Sudarsana cakra to kill Jagai and Madhai.
One might ask why the Lord wanted to do such a thing, when He taught that a devotee should be humble and tolerant. The answer is that on his own behalf, a devotee should tolerate any offense; but if anyone offends Krishna or a devotee of Krishna, he should not tolerate it. Rather, he should become very angry.
Seeing the Lord’s anger, Jagai repented and begged for forgiveness. But Madhai did not, and Nityananda had to restrain Lord Gauranga. “My dear Lord,” He said, “Don’t kill him. If You kill him, then You’ll have to kill everybody, because in Kali Yuga everybody is bad. Please, let Your mercy save him.”
Jagai then convinced Madhai to repent, and Lord Gauranga forgave them on the condition that they would give up their sinful activitiesand chant the holy names of the Lord. From that day on, Jagai and Madhai, who had been terrorizing Navadvipa, became famous as great devotees, and the glories of Lord Gauranga spread more and more.
. . .
One time, in the midday heat, Gauranga went to rest in a devotee’s house. Many devotees went with Him. “What would you like to eat?” Lord Gauranga asked them.
Although it wasn’t the season for mangos, Lord Gauranga said, “Bring Me a mango seed.” When the mango seed was brought to Him, the Lord planted it in the courtyard of the house. Immediately a mango tree grew up, laden with fruit. Every day for one year the devotees enjoyed the fruit from that magical mango tree. (The place where this pastime took place is still known as Amraghata.)
Another time, the devotees were just about to start sankirtana on the bank of the Ganga when thunder, lightning and heavy clouds signalled the onset of a big storm. But Lord Gauranga simply looked up and ordered the clouds to go away.
. . .
Sacidevi used to worship Krishna and Balarama in her house. One night she dreamed that Nimai and Nitai—Lord Gauranga and Nityananda—had come to take away the offeringshe had cooked for Krishna and Balarama. Krishna and Balarama were protesting: “What are You doing? This is Our offering.”
“No, no.” Nimai and Nitai replied, “In Kali-yuga We are Krishna and Balarama, so We are taking the food.” The next day, while Nimai and Nitai were taking Their meal together, Sacidevi told Them about her dream, and as she was serving Them prasada, she saw Krishna and Balarama eating it.
. . .
day Gauranga started calling out, “Pundarika! Pundarika!”
The devotees were wondering, “Why is He saying this?”
Gauranga told them, “My wonderful devotee Pundarika Vidyanidhi will soon be visiting Navadvipa.”
Mukunda, who was Gauranga’s friend since childhood, knew about Pundarika Vidyanidhi because they were both originally from the same place in East Bengal. Some time after Pundarika Vidyanidhi had arrived in Navadvipa, Mukunda asked Gadadhara Pandita, “Gadadhara, would you like to see a Vaishnava?”
Gadadhara said, “Yes, I’m always very eager to meet with Vaishnavas.”
So Mukunda brought Gadadhara to the house of Pundarika Vidyanidhi, where they saw him dressed in silk clothes, his long curly hair scented with costly oil. Seated on a white bedstead with beautiful white sheets, he was chewing pan, now and then spitting in a silver box, while servants fanned him.
From childhood, Gadadhara was a strict brahmacari. “This person doesn’t look like a Vaishnava to me,” he thought. “He seems to be a worldly enjoyer.” Understanding Gadadhara’s mind, Mukunda sang one verse from the Bhagavatam about the glories of Shri Krishna. Hearing this, Pundarika Vidyanidhi went into a trance of ecstasy. He ran here and there, calling out the names of Krishna. This went on for a few hours and no one could restrain him.
Then Gadadhara understood, “I couldn’t recognize him, but he is actually a great devotee. I made a great mistake, thinking he was an ordinary, materialistic person. How can I overcome this great offense? Up till now I have not taken initiation from anybody, although it is essential to do so. I will offer my life to Pundarika Vidyanidhi and request him to give me initiation.”
. . .
Devananda Pandita, a learned brahmana living in Navadvipa, used to give lectures from Shrimad-Bhagavatam to a large audience daily. But being a Mayavadi, he did not understand the essence of Bhagavatam. He failed to understand there was no difference between the devoteeBhagavata and the book Bhagavata .
One time Shrivasa Pandita went to hear Devananda’s discourse on Bhagavatam. Upon hearing the verses, Shrivasa became intoxicated with Krishna-prema and began to weep. “Get him out of here,” Devananda Pandita told his students.
Later on, Gauranga walked past Devananda Pandita’s place with some of His followers, and when He saw that Devananda was reading Bhagavatam He became extremely angry. “What right has this wretched person to speak on the Bhagavatam and give all these bogus interpretations?” He said. “He’s simply puffed up, thinking himself to be a high-class brahmana and a qualified scholar. But his pride blocks him from understanding the actual message of the Bhagavatam. Bhagavatam can only be understood by devotees who render sincere service and submissively hear the bona fide devotee-guru speak from Bhagavatam. Not only does Devananda not understand Bhagavatam, but he has committed a great offense at the feet of Shrivasa Pandita.”
Hearing this chastisement, Devananda fell down at the lotus feet of Gauranga and asked, “Please forgive me for my offense.”
“I cannot forgive you for your offense,” Lord Gauranga replied. “You have offended Shrivasa Pandita. You must go to him and beg for forgiveness.” Devananda Pandita complied, and from that day he became a follower of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
. . .
The sankirtana movement was going on daily, and especially at night. Envious smarta brahmanas became upset. According to them, Nimai was previously a good young man, but since he had returned from Gaya He had become crazy and was damaging the Hindu religion. “How could anyone go into the streets and chant the names of God with all different castes of people? Surely this will spoil all religious customs.”
The smartas complained to the Kazi , the Muslim magistrate in charge of the town of Navadvipa. The Kazi ordered that the sankirtana movement be stopped, and he personally went to one house where sankirtana was going on and broke a mrdanga. The followers of Nimai became afraid, but Nimai told them, “Don’t be afraid. Tonight we will bring out a huge sankirtana party. Let’s see what kind of Kazi will try to stop us.”
That night, Gauranga led a huge sankirtana party through the streets and alleyways of Navadvipa, along the banks of the Ganga, to the Kazi’s house. At the Kazi’s home, some of Nimai’s followers started to wreck the house and garden, but Nimai restrained them and sent someone to call the Kazi.
After pacifying the Kazi and assuring him that He had no mean intentions, Nimai spoke with him at length. Nimai spoke on the basis of the Vedic scriptures, and the Kazi spoke on the basis of the Koran. The Kazi admitted that cow slaughter was wrong, and he became a follower of Lord Gauranga’s sankirtana movement. “Neither I nor any of my descendants will ever hinder your sankirtana movement,” he promised. And he also joined the sankirtana party through the streets of Navadvipa.
At the zenith of his popularity and influence Nimai decided to visit Shridhara, and while there He drank some water from his broken iron pot.
. . .
Jagadananda was a great devotee and childhood friend of Lord Gauranga. In his book entitled Prema Vivarta, he describes how one time, while roaming around the countryside, Lord Gauranga visited the house of some cowherd people and ate some milk sweets there. Then, as He walked toward a nearby pond, the cowherd men told Him, “Don’t go. There’s a dangerous crocodile there.”
But Gauranga went anyway. He saw the crocodile and touched it with His foot. Immediately the crocodile took on a beautiful, divine form and said, “In my previous life I was a young boy, and I always used to play naughty games. One time a sage was standing in the water chanting his gayatri mantra, and I pulled his legs out from underneath him. At that time he cursed me to become a crocodile. When I prayed for him to deliver me from this dangerous situation, he said, ‘Don’t worry about this curse. Very soon Lord Krishna will appear here as Gauranga, and He will deliver you by the touch of His lotus feet.’”
. . .
Near Shrivasa’s house was a Muslim tailor who used to stitch the clothes of Shrivasa Pandita and his family. When he was lucky enough to see Lord Gauranga dancing, his mind became so much captivated that he also started dancing and shouting, “Ah! I have seen. Now I have seen.” Lord Gauranga gave him His mercy.
. . .
One time in His home, Lord Gauranga was chanting “Gopi, gopi , gopi, gopi” in ecstasy. An atheistic student came and told Him, “My dear Nimai Pandita, what are You doing? Why are You chanting the name gopi? Why don’t You chant the name of Krishna?”
In their quarrels of love with Krishna the gopis sometimes feel angry towards Him, and Lord Gauranga had been thinking of the gopis in that mood. Overwhelmed with this kind of ecstasy, Lord Gauranga grabbed a stick and chased the student, shouting “Don’t you say the name of Krishna! We don’t want to have anything to do with Krishna!”
The student felt very much offended, and he went to tell his friends, “This Nimai Pandita, He has become too proud. I’m from a respectable brahmana family. I was giving Him good advice, and He wanted to beat me.”
The students then decided that if Nimai ever did anything like that again, they would all come together and beat Him to teach Him a lesson.” When Nimai came to external consciousness, He became very sorry and considered that apart from His own intimate devotees, most people did not understand what He was doing. “My mission in this world is to deliver everybody by spreading the chanting of Hare Krishna,” He thought, “but they take Me as an ordinary person. I should take sannyasa, because if I do, people will take my teachings seriously. At least they will bow down before Me. [The etiquette is that one should bow down before a sannyasi.] Since I’m the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they will be benefited by bowing down. And by taking sannyasa, I will be able to travel everywhere and preach.” In this way, the Lord decided to save all the people of the world by taking sannyasa. But His associates did not like the idea.
At that time, one sannyasi named Kesava Bharati visited Navadvipa, and Lord Gauranga asked him about taking sannyasa. Shortly after Kesava Bharati’s visit, Lord Gauranga left home in the middle of night without saying anything to His wife. Swimming across the Ganga He proceeded towards Katwa, about 35 kilometers north of Navadvipa on the other bank of the Ganga. There He accepted the sannyasa order from Kesava Bharati. Seeing beautiful Nimai about to lose His long, wavy, glossy black hair, the people of Navadvipa tried to persuade Kesava Bharati not to give Him sannyasa. Even the barber could not bring himself to shave the Lord’s head. This went on all day. Everyone was absorbed in the pain of imminent separation. But Gauranga was determined.
Kesava Bharati gave Him the name Shri Krishna Gauranga, which means “one who infuses Krishna consciousness into others.” Immediately after taking sannyasa, Gauranga Mahaprabhu left for Vrndavana, reciting the famous verse from Shrimad-Bhagavatam that explains how one who has taken full shelter of Mukunda is no longer indebted to the demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, family members, humankind or forefathers: devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam-pitrnam/na kinkaro nayam rni ca rajan/sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam/gato mukundam parihrtya kartam. “Adhyasitan purvatamair maharsibhi,” the Lord exclaimed. “Aham tarisyami duranta param,”—“F—ollowing in the footsteps of the great acaryas, I shall worship the Lord in the heart and thus cross over the insurmountable ocean of material life.”
For three days and three nights Lord Gauranga walked along the bank of the Ganga, chanting Hare Krishna. Absorbed in ecstasy, thinking He was going to Vrndavana, He did not know where He was, or whether it was day or night. Nor was He aware that Nityananda Prabhu, Mukunda and Candrasekhara were following Him. He reached Kalna, which is opposite Santipur on the bank of the Ganga. Since Santipur was the residence of Advaita Acarya, Lord Nityananda told Mukunda, “Go ahead to Advaita Acarya’s house and tell Him to prepare for Lord Gauranga’s visit.”
Then Nityananda went up to Lord Gauranga. “Oh, Nitai, how have You come here?” Lord Gauranga asked.
“ I’ve been following You all the time,” Nityananda replied.
“Please show Me where is Vrndavana,” Lord Gauranga asked.
“This is Vrndavana,” Nityananda replied.
“Where is the river Yamuna?”
“Right there. There is the Yamuna,” said Nityananda, although actually, it was the Ganga. As the two Lords walked toward the river, They saw Advaita Acarya coming over on a boat.
Lord Gauranga became suspicious. “How is Advaita Acarya here? He lives in Santipur. I think You have cheated Me. This is not the Yamuna and this is not Vrndavana.”
Advaita Acarya said, “My dear Lord Gauranga, wherever You are, that is Vrndavana, because wherever You go You carry Vrndavana in Your heart.”
Lord Gauranga was brought to the house of Advaita Acarya, where all the devotees from Navadvipa had gathered. They knew they wouldn’t be seeing Him regularly anymore, so they wanted at least one more darsana of Lord Gauranga. For Sacimata to see her Nimai with His head shaved was a horrible experience. Now that He had taken a vow of renunciation—in those days sannyasis used to lead a very austere life—she could no longer look after His comforts. Becoming very upset, she cried and cried. “All right,” Lord Gauranga said, “let Me stay here for a few days, and while I’m here you may cook for Me everyday.”
For ten days there was a sankirtana festival in the house of Advaita Acarya. During the day the devotees would speak about Krishna, and at night they would chant Hare Krishna and take the prasada cooked by Sacimata. After ten days Lord Gauranga said, “I have to go. As a sannyasi I cannot stay surrounded by friends and relatives. I must go.”
“Then You please stay in Puri,” Sacimata requested. “People from Bengal regularly go to Puri, so if You stay there at least I will get news of You regularly.”
Lord Gauranga agreed to her request. He proceeded toward Puri with Nityananda, Jagadananda, Mukunda, and Gadadhara. He went via Remuna, Jajpur, Cuttack, and Bhuvanesvara. Along the path to Puri Lord Gauranga went to take bath in the river. He gave Nityananda His sannyasa danda [(staff) to look after while He was taking bath. Considering that Lord Gauranga, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, did not need a danda—He had taken sannyasa as a matter of formality and was above the institution of varnasrama dharma—Nityananda broke the staff into three pieces and threw it in the river.
When Lord Gauranga finished taking bath He asked Nityananda for his danda.
“Actually,” Nityananda replied, You fell on it while dancing in ecstasy, and it broke . So I threw it away.”
Lord Gauranga knew that Nityananda was cheating Him. He became very angry and said, “All right, I’m leaving all of you. I’m going to Puri by Myself.”
Lord Gauranga entered Puri alone and immediately went to the Jagannatha temple. On the way from Bengal to Puri, His constant meditation had been on Lord Jagannatha—Krishna. “When will I have darsana of Jagannatha? When will I see Krishna, the Lord of My life?” Upon entering the temple Lord Gauranga ran toward Jagannatha and fainted in ecstasy. Seeing Him lying unconscious on the ground, the pandas [the priests of the temple] became very upset.
“Who is this person causing a disturbance?” they asked. Thinking Him to be a madman, they wanted to have Him carried out of the temple.
Fortunately, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the advisor to Maharaja Prataparudra (the king of Orissa) and the most famous pandita in Puri, happened to be present. “Don’t mistreat this sannyasi,” he told the people. Gauranga Mahaprabhu appeared to be dead. Sarvabhauma had Him carefully removed to his own house and held a cotton swab under His nose. The cotton moved slighty, indicating that Lord Gauranga was still alive.
A few hours later, Nityananda and the other devotees arrived in Puri and went straight to the temple. “Has any beautiful, golden-complexioned sannyasi come here?” they inquired.
Gopinatha Acarya, a great devotee, replied, “That sannyasi has been removed to my brother-in-law’s house.” And together they all went there.
Sarvabhauma was very disturbed. “This sannyasi has been lying unconscious in my house for six hours,” he said.
But the devotees knew exactly what to do. They all chanted Hare Krishna very loudly in Lord Gauranga’s ear and the Lord came to external consciousness. Sarvabhauma was astonished. He detected all the symptoms of the highest ecstasy of prema in the body of this sannyasi.. “Who were You in Your previous asrama?” he asked. When Lord Gauranga told him His father’s name, Sarvabhauma became very pleased, because he was originally from the Navadvipa area and knew Jagannatha Misra.
“Actually,” Gopinatha Acarya said, “the Supreme Personality of Godhead is in your home, but you cannot recognize Him.”
Sarvabhauma was highly learned in Vedanta philosophy, and even though he was a householder he used to teach sannyasis. “You are very young and beautiful,” he told Lord Gauranga, “It will be difficult for You to maintain sannyasa unless You are firmly fixed in Vedanta philosophy. Let me teach that to You.”
For seven days Lord Gauranga heard Vedanta philosophy from Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya.
Sarvabhauma taught Him the Advaita philosophy of Sankaracarya. After seven days he told Lord Gauranga, “My dear sir, You are listening to everything I say but You never ask any question; so I cannot ascertain whether You understand what I’m saying or not.”
“I can understand the Vedanta-sutra,” Lord Gauranga replied, “but I cannot understand your explanations. They don’t make any sense.” Sarvabhauma was astonished.. Lord Gauranga explained, “The commentary should bring out the meaning of the text, not cover it with another meaning, as yours does. The Vedanta-sutra clearly establishes that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but you are covering over the real meaning of the text with your imaginary explanations.”
A discussion ensued, in which Sarvabhauma, the greatest Vedantist of his day, presented different arguments. He tried to establish that the Supreme Absolute Truth is nirakara—that He has no form, no qualities, no name. Gauranga Mahaprabhu defeated his arguments one by one, and in the end Sarvabhauma admitted defeat and bowed down to Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
Then the Lord showed him His six-armed form—with the two arms of Ramacandra, one holding a bow and the other holding arrows; the two arms of Krishna holding a flute; and His own two arms holding a danda and waterpot. Seeing this, Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya abandoned his dry logic. He became one of the greatest devotees of Lord Gauranga, always absorbed in bhakti-bhavana.
After some time Lord Gauranga wanted to travel to South India to spread Krishna consciousness. All the devotees wanted to go with Him, but He wanted to go alone. The devotees entreated Him to take at least one servant, Kala Krishna dasa, to carry His waterpot and assist Him. And Sarvabhauma asked Him to meet the great devotee Ramananda Raya. “You will enjoy meeting him,” he said. “He is the governor of Madras.””
In one of the villages along Lord Gauranga’s route lived a devotee named Vasudeva. His body was rotting from leprosy and worms were eating into it, but being a great devotee, he considered that his situation was due to his karma and that the best thing to do was to chant Hare Krishna.” Vasudeva was so self-realized that if a worm would fall out of his body, he would put it back, thinking that the worm had to get his meal.
Vasudeva heard that Lord Gauranga had passed through his village only after the Lord had gone, and thus he started to lament. “I missed seeing the great Vaishnava sannyasi,” he cried. Hearing Vasudeva’s lamentation, the omniscient Lord came back to the village and cured Vasudeva of his leprosy by touching him. Vasudeva’s body became beautiful. He said, “My dear Lord, now that I have this beautiful body, I pray to You that I may not become proud and forget that the purpose of life is to satisfy Krishna.” Lord Gauranga blessed him that he would never become proud, and that he would always remember Krishna.
. . .
Walking along the road Lord Gauranga would chant,
“Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna he! Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna he! Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna raksha mam. Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna pahi mam. Rama Raghava Rama Raghava Rama Raghava raksha mam. Krishna Keshava Krishna Keshava Krishna Keshava pahi mam.” (Gauranga-caritamrita Madhya 7.96)
Seeing Lord Gauranga’s attractive features and His beautiful body radiating ecstasy, everybody who saw the Lord became attracted. In Kurma ksetra especially, one brahmana became so attracted that he wanted to give up everything and follow Lord Gauranga. “My dear Lord,” he prayed, “I am simply absorbed in materialistic family life. Please deliver me from this family life and let me go with You.”
But Lord Gauranga replied, “No. You stay here, chant Hare Krishna and preach to others. Make other people devotees. Wherever you go, whoever you meet, just instruct them about Krishna. In this way, on My order, you become a guru and deliver this land.”
And because the brahmana had told Him that he was afflicted by the miseries of material life, Lord Gauranga added, “If you follow My instruction, you will never be afflicted by the miseries of material life and you will meet Me here at this place. In other words, if you follow My instruction you will never be separated from Me.”
Wherever Lord Gauranga went He would ask the people to chant Hare Krishna. Infused with Krishna consciousness, those people would then go to another village and infuse other people with Krishna consciousness; and those persons would in turn infuse others with Krishna consciousness. In this way the chanting of Hare Krishna spread all over South India.
After crossing the Godavari River, the Lord met Ramananda Raya. Soon after they met, they sat on the bank of the Godavari and had what constitutes the most important theological discussion in history. Although Lord Gauranga knew everything, He chose to ask questions, and He inspired Ramananda Raya to give the answers.
To the first question,”What is the goal of life and what is the means to attain it?” Ramananda Raya replied, “By following his duties within the varnasrama system, everybody can attain success.”
Lord Gauranga rejected his answer, “eho bahya, age kaha ara”-- “This is external. Please say something more.”
Ramananda Raya described progressively superior stages of development. He suggested working without attachment to the results—Lord Gauranga rejected that. Ramananda Raya advocated giving up one’s duties in the varnasrama system—Lord Gauranga rejected that. Ramananda Raya described cultivating knowledge—Lord Gauranga rejected that. Then Ramananda Raya said that by pure devotion to Krishna, free from the endeavor for sense gratification or empirical knowledge, one can attain success.
Lord Gauranga accepted that as the proper answer. “But please tell Me more,” He said. “There must be more than this.”
In the course of several nights,—Ramananda described progressive stages of Krishna consciousness, up to the point of the intimate lilas and emotions of Radha and Krishna. At this point, Lord Gauranga revealed His original form as Radha and Krishna to Ramananda Raya.
Lord Gauranga and Ramananda were very happy with each other. “You please stay here longer so we can discuss some more,” Ramananda pleaded.
Mahaprabhu replied, “I don’t want to discuss with you for a few days. I want to spend my whole life with you so that we can go on discussing these things throughout our lives. But I have some preaching business in South India.”
Lord Gauranga had undertaken a tour of South India on the plea of finding His elder brother, Visvarupa, who had previously taken sannyasa. But His real reason was to convert everyone in South India—Jains, smartas, Madhvas, Buddhists, Saivites, logicians, and Shri Vaishnavas—to the path of unalloyed devotion to the Supreme Lord Krishna, by chanting the holy names and understanding Radha-Krishna .
He told Ramananda Raya, “I have to continue My mission of traveling in South India, but after some time I shall return to Puri. In the meantime you please get free from your responsibilities and proceed to Puri, where we shall live together for the rest of our lives.”
Lord Gauranga then visited many holy places: Ahovalam, Tirupati, Shri Sailam, Kanchipuram, Shri Rangam, Madurai, Kumbakonam, Tanjor, Ramesvaram, Kanyakumari and others. He would bathe in all the holy rivers and preach Krishna consciousness in every village, because in those days there were learned panditas and nice temples in every village. So He would stay in a temple every night and present Krishna conscious philosophy to the panditas. As for the general people, He would ask them to chant Hare Krishna .
When Lord Gauranga reached Shri Rangam, the most important place for the Shri Vaishnava sampradaya, the time of caturmasya had come. Caturmasya is the four-month period of the rainy season. At that time, because mud and rain make traveling difficult, mendicants usually stop in one holy place and observe strict vows for four months. Accordingly, Lord Gauranga stayed at Shri Rangam in the house of Vyenkata Bhatta, a great devotee of Laksmi-Narayana. All the devotees of Shri Ranganatha were very happy that Lord Gauranga was staying with them, and they were very pleased to see Him dance and chant in ecstasy in the temple in front of the Deity. Different brahmanas would invite Him every day for lunch.
One time Lord Gauranga had some joking words with Vyenkata Bhatta. “My dear Bhatta,” He said, “you are a great devotee of Laksmi-Narayana. Please explain something to Me. It is stated in the Padma Purana that your worshipable goddess Laksmi performed austerities to try to enter into the rasa-lila of My Lord Krishna in Vrndavana, and that she could not succeed. How could Laksmidevi, the wife of Narayana, give up her devotion to her husband and try to dance with Krishna? And why was she not successful? Can you please explain this to Me?”
Vyenkata Bhatta replied, “Actually, these are very deep things which I cannot understand. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You can understand. You can explain to me.”
Then Lord Gauranga explained that since Krishna is not different from Narayana, Laksmidevi’s endeavor to join in Krishna’s rasa-lila did not break her vow of attachment to her husband. But because she could not give up her mood of opulence, she was not allowed to enter the rasa-lila. In Vaikuntha, a mood of great opulence prevails, whereas Vrndavana is the place of simple, natural love for Krishna. Vrndavana is full of fruits, flowers, cows and the river Yamuna. The mood there is intimate, not reverential. Laksmi could not give up her Vaikuntha mood. Nor was she prepared to follow the standard process for entering Krishna’s rasa-lila: to give up her Vaikuntha form, accept the form of a cowherd girl and follow in the footsteps of the residents of Vrndavana.
In a joking way, Lord Gauranga was showing that the worship of Krishna is higher than that of Laksmi-Narayana, and that the mood of intimacy is superior to the mood of awe and reverence. But then He said, “Don’t feel bad. We are simply joking. I’m not chastising you.”
Vyenkata Bhatta’s son, Gopal, was very much attached to Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Later on he became Gopal Bhatta Gosvami, one of the famous Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana..
In the temple compound of Shri Rangam, Lord Gauranga once saw a brahmana sitting, holding the Bhagavad-gita in his hands and crying. Other brahmanas were laughing at him. Seeing this, Lord Gauranga asked, “My dear sir, what are you doing and why are you crying?”
“The brahmana replied, “I’m reading Bhagavad-gita because my guru told me to read it every day, but actually I’m uneducated. Even though I was born as a brahmana, I don’t know how to read. But my guru told me to read, so I’m trying. I’m holding the Gita.”
“Because when I think that Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the universes, has agreed to drive the chariot of His devotee Arjuna out of love for him, when I think of how merciful Krishna is to His devotees, then my heart becomes overwhelmed and I start weeping.”
Lord Gauranga embraced the brahmana and said, “You are the true student of Bhagavad-gita. Even though you cannot read, you have understood the message of Bhagavad-gita.”
When he was traveling near Madurai, Lord Gauranga came to the home of a great devotee of Lord Rama. This devotee was very sad, because he was constantly absorbed in thinking how Ravana had taken away Sita.. But Lord Gauranga consoled him. “Actually,” He said, “I don’t think it was possible for Ravana to take Sita away.”
Some days later, in a nearby monastery, Lord Gauranga found the original manuscript of the Kurma Purana, in which it is described that the form of Sita taken by Ravana was not her original form but her maya (illusory) form. The original form of Sita was protected by Agni while she was separated from Rama. After making a copy of the Kurma Purana, Lord Gauranga took away the original manuscript and brought it to the grieving devotee. “My dear Sir,” the devotee said, “You are appearing as a sannyasi, but actually You are my worshipable Lord Rama.”
Gradually Lord Gauranga reached the west coast of South India, where He visited holy places such as Thiruvanantapuram, Udupi, and Srngeri. During that time, a gang of gypsies and magicians called the Bhattaharis captured the mind of Kala Krishna dasa and brought him into their fold. “We have so many women,” they said. “Join us. You can enjoy.”
Kala Krishna dasa became attracted and left Lord Gauranga’s service, but Lord Gauranga went to the Bhattaharis’ camp to rescue him. The Bhattaharis attacked Lord Gauranga, but all the weapons they threw came back and struck their own bodies. In this way they were destroyed and Lord Gauranga saved Kala Krishna dasa. This incident shows that even though one may have the personal association of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, if one is not serious about Krishna consciousness he may be attracted by maya.
After two years of preaching in South India, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu returned to Puri. His devotees felt as if they had gotten their life back again. Lord Gauranga first met Nityananda, Jagadananda, Mukunda and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. “I visited many holy places and met many saintly people,” He told Sarvabauma Bhattacarya, “but I could not meet anyone of Ramananda Raya’s caliber. By discussing with him I achieved such enlightenment and ecstasy.”
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya introduced Lord Gauranga to all the prominent devotees of Krishna residing in Puri—Kasi Misra, the King’s guru; Bhavananda Raya, the father of Ramananda Raya; Brahmananda Puri, a senior Vaishnava whom Lord Gauranga respected very much...
Sarvabhauma arranged a room for Lord Gauranga in the house of Kasi Misra, who was very happy about the arrangement. Lord Gauranga’s room in that house can still be visited. It is a nice, secluded place, close to the Jagannathatemple.
Upon hearing that Lord Gauranga had returned to Puri, many devotees arrived from different places. One of them, Govinda, requested, “My dear Lord, please let me serve You. I will spend my life in Your service.”
Lord Gauranga was hesitant at first, because Govinda was his Godbrother, and the rule is that one should not accept service from Godbrothers. But Govinda said that Isvara Puri had told him to serve Lord Gauranga. Since the most important rule is to follow the guru’s instructions’, Lord Gauranga accepted Govinda’s service. For the rest of his life Govinda stayed with Lord Gauranga and served Him intimately. He also kept a diary of the activities of Lord Gauranga, and much of the Gauranga-charitamrita is based on that diary.
Although Lord Gauranga had rescued Kala Krishna dasa from the Bhattaharis, He didn’t want him around anymore. “This man came with Me,” He told the devotees, “but he hasn’t been any company. ““Let him go. I don’t want to see him anymore.”
Upon hearing Lord Gauranga’s decision, Kala Krishna dasa was most upset. The other devotees, headed by Lord Nityananda, found a way to keep Kala Krishna dasa engaged in devotional service. With Lord Gauranga’s permission they sent him to Bengal to inform the devotees that the Lord had arrived in Puri and that they could make arrangements to travel to Puri to visit Him.
One devotee from Navadvipa arrived in Puri. In his household life he had been known as Purusottama Acarya. When Lord Gauranga took sannyasa he also decided to take sannyasa, traveled to Varanasi and took sannyasa there. After some time he came to Puri. Now known as Svarupa, he submitted himself to Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Lord Gauranga was very happy to meet him, and added the name Damodara to his sannyasa name. Svarupa Damodara became the most intimate associate of Lord Gauranga. Although Ramananda Raya was also very close to Lord Gauranga, he sometimes had household duties to perform, but Svarupa Damodara was able to stay with Lord Gauranga without cessation.
Svarup Damodara had many brilliant qualities. Not only was he a very learned scholar, but he was expert in understanding the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. Whereas other devotees sometimes had difficulty in understanding things exactly to the point, Svarupa Damodara was always one hundred percent philosophically correct, and he could detect other devotees’ mistakes.
He intimately understood the moods of Lord Gauranga, and he could sing beautifully. Lord Gauranga particularly enjoyed hearing Jayadeva Goswami’s Gita Govinda and the songs of Candidas and Vidyapati, and Svarupa Damodara would always sing exactly the right songs to enhance the Lord’s particular mood. Svarupa Damodara was so close to Lord Gauranga that he was known as mahaprabhura dvitiya svarupa, the second expansion of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
. . .
Having heard about the wonderful activities and intense prema of Lord Gauranga, the King of Orissa wanted to meet the Lord. But Gauranga Mahaprabhu refused. His response was later quoted in the Gauranga-candrodaya-nataka: “Alas, for a person who is seriously desiring to cross the material ocean and engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord without material motives, seeing a materialist engaged in sense gratification and seeing a woman who is similarly interested is more abominable than drinking poison willingly.”
The King was most upset. Again and again, through Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and Ramananda Raya, he petitioned Lord Gauranga to give him darsana. Lord Gauranga became upset. “Bhattacarya,” He said, “if you continue to speak like this, you will never see Me here again.”
When Sarvabhauma told Maharaja Prataparudra about the Lord’s decision, the King began to lament: “When Lord Gauranga was in South India He embraced seven palm trees and sent them back to Godhead. He gave His mercy even to the trees. Alas, has Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu incarnated to deliver all kinds of sinners with the exception of Maharaja Prataparudra? If Gaurahari is not merciful to me, I shall give up my kingdom, become a mendicant and beg from door to door.”
About two hundred devotees arrived from Bengal to take part in the Ratha-yatra procession, and they were very happy to see Sarvabhauma Bhattacaraya, the famous Mayavadi, now dancing and chanting in their midst. Maharaja Prataparudra asked Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya to show him the devotees, and Sarvabhauma asked Gopinath Acarya to take the King onto the roof of the palace, from where they could see the devotees doing sankirtana in the streets of Puri. Gopinath Acarya pointed out all the important devotees to the King. Seeing their bodily luster and the way they chanted Hare Krishna, the King was astonished. He had heard many people perform kirtana, but this chanting made the hairs of his body stand on end. He became more and more eager to meet Lord Gauranga.
Haridasa Thakura arrived from Bengal. Even though he was such a great devotee, he was not allowed to enter the temple because he was born in a Muslim family. But Lord Gauranga arranged a room for him, wherefrom he could see the cakra of the Jagannatha temple and offer his obeisances to it. Lord Gauranga also arranged that Jagannatha maha prasada be brought to him every day. And because Haridasa Thakura was not allowed to see Jagannatha in the temple, Jagannatha would personally come to see him everyday in His form as Lord Gauranga. This proves that if one has enough bhakti, even though he may not go to see the Lord, the Lord will come to see him.
At Nityananda’s request, Lord Gauranga gave Maharaja Prataparudra His mercy in the form of an old cloth He had worn. Maharaja Prataparudra began to worship the Lord’s garment exactly as he would worship the Lord personally. Still, unable to endure not seeing the Lord, He requested Ramananda Raya to arrange a meeting. Gradually Ramananda Raya managed to soften Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s mind. “According to revealed scriptures,” the Lord said, “the son represents the father; therefore the son’s meeting with Me will be just as good as the King’s meeting with Me.”
The devotees then brought the King’s young son to Lord Gauranga. He was beautiful, blackish in complexion, and he had large lotus eyes. He wore yellow cloth and his body was decorated with jeweled ornaments. Upon seeing him Lord Gauranga remembered Krishna, and He embraced the young boy. Although the King was somewhat satisfied, still he wanted to see Lord Gauranga directly.
The Ratha-yatra festival began with Gundica marjana, the cleaning of the Gundica temple. Every year Lord Gauranga used to perform this service with His associates to prepare for Lord Jagannatha’s visit to Gundica on Ratha-yatra day. Using hundreds of brooms and water pots, they would thoroughly sweep the temple and its surrounding area twice, throw water everywhere and wash the temple inside and out. This complete cleaning of the Gundica temple before Lord Jagannatha’s visit symbolizes the cleansing of the heart—every dirty thing in the heart has to go before a devotee can invite the Lord to sit there.
On Ratha yatra day Jagannatha was seated on His cart. Just before the cart started to move, Prataparudra Maharaja stepped forward and swept the road with a golden broom to show that even though he was the king, he considered himself to be the humble servant of Lord Jagannatha. His behavior greatly pleased Lord Gauranga.
The sankirtana party accompanying the procession was divided into seven groups, each performing a separate kirtana. When Lord Gauranga beheld Lord Jagannatha’s smiling face, He began to jump and dance in ecstasy in all seven groups simultaneously. Everyone thought that Lord Gauranga was present in his group only, but the most confidential devotees could understand that Lord Gauranga had expanded Himself into seven forms. Because Maharaja Prataparudra’s display of humility had pleased the Lord, the King received special mercy, by which he was able to perceive Lord Gauranga’s simultaneous dancing in all kirtana groups. Lord Gauranga’s jumping was like the jumping of a golden mountain, and the whole earth, with its hills and seas, appeared to tilt.
Jagannatha’s cart had been proceeding for some time when all of a sudden it stopped. The devotees pulled on the ropes with all their might, but they couldn’t move the cart. They brought in big, strong men to pull—in vain. They brought elephants, and although the elephant drivers were prodding so hard that the elephants were screaming in pain, pulling as hard as they could, they also couldn’t pull the cart. Nobody knew what to do. Actually, although Jagannatha’s cart is pulled by ropes, the pulling of the devotees is only a chance for them to do service. Jagannatha moves by His own desire, and if He want to stop He stops. Lord Gauranga told everyone to go away. Then He went to the back of the cart and pushed His head against the cart. The cart moved and Jagannatha resumed His stroll. The kirtana was tumultuous.
Standing in front of Jagannatha, Lord Gauranga was calling out “Manima, Manima” [an Oriyan term for addressing a great personality]. He then chanted a sloka of His own composition, “You are the same Krishna, and I am the same Radharani. We are meeting again in the same way that We met in the beginning of Our lives. Although We are both the same, My mind is still attracted to Vrndavana-dhama. I therefore request You to come to Vrndavana and enjoy pastimes with Me. If You do so, My ambition will be fulfilled.”
No one could understand the meaning of that sloka except Svarupa Damodara. But later on, Shrila Rupa Goswami explained its purport: .Lord Gauranga was experiencing the mood of Shrimati Radharani when She and the residents of Vrndavana met Krishna at Kuruksetra many years after He left Vrndavana. Krishna was now the King of Dvaraka. Dressed like a king, He was surrounded by soldiers and opulence. Seeing Him like this after so many years, Radharani thought that although She had again achieved His association, She could not relate with Him intimately in such a regal and crowded atmosphere. She yearned to take Him back to Vrndavana. Lord Gauranga was feeling that mood of separation from Krishna, and He experienced the Ratha yatra festival as the emotional process of taking Krishna (Jagannatha) from Dvaraka (Jagannatha Temple) back to Vrndavana (Gundica).
When the Lord was dancing before Jagannatha’s cart, He sometimes moved quickly. Jagannatha would then quickly follow behind Him. And when Lord Gauranga moved slowly, Jagannatha moved slowly. In this way Lord Gauranga, in the mood of Radharani, was controlling Krishna and leading Him to Vrndavana.
Halfway along the Ratha-yatra route, Lord Jagannatha stopped to rest for a while. Being very tired from dancing, Lord Gauranga went to a garden to take rest under a tree. At that time Maharaja Prataparudra entered the garden. Dressed as a humble Vaishnava, in simple cloth and without ornaments, he began to expertly massage Lord Gauranga’s legs and feet. As previously advised by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the King began to recite the beautiful “Song of the gopis”from Shrimad Bhagavatam. When he recited the ninth verse, Lord Gauranga arose in ecstasy, embraced him and said, “You have given Me priceless gems, but I have nothing to give you in return. Therefore I am simply embracing you.” Then He began reciting the same verse again and again in great ecstatic love:
My Lord, the nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those who are always aggrieved in this material world. Transmitted by exalted personalities, these narrations eradicate all sinful reactions, and whoever hears them attains all good fortune. These narrations are boradcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Those who spread the message of Godhead are certainly the most munificent welfare workers.
“You are the most munificent, you are the most munificent,” Lord Gauranga exclaimed. And again He embraced the King.
In this way Lord Gauranga bestowed His mercy upon the King. But although He knew everything within His heart, He did not disclose that He knew He was talking with Maharaja Prataparudra.
The fifth day after the Ratha-yatra festival is Hera-pancami, the day when the goddess of fortune comes to Gundica in an angry mood to try to bring back her husband to Jagannatha Puri. On that day Shrivasa Pandita extolled the glories of Vaikuntha and the goddess of fortune, but Svarupa Damodara retorted, “My dear Shrivasa, you have forgotten the transcendental opulence of Vrndavana. The opulence of Dvaraka and Vaikuntha combined are nothing in comparison.”
To support his speech, Svarupa Damodara quoted a verse from Brahma-samhita (5.56): “The damsels of Vrndavana, the gopis, are super goddesses of fortune. The enjoyer in Vrndavana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. The trees there are all wish-fulfilling trees, and the land is made of transcendental touchstone. The water is nectar, the talking is singing, the walking is dancing, and the constant companion of Krishna is His flute. The effulgence of transcendental bliss is experienced everywhere. Therefore Vrndavana-dhama is the only relishable abode.”
Lord Gauranga went on to explain that the gopis are so exalted in devotion to Krishna that simply by chanting their holy names, all the worlds can be purified. Among all the gopis the topmost is Shrimati Radhika, Krishna’s most beloved consort. She stands above all others by dint of Her unalloyed love for and service to Him. So in this way Lord Gauranga discussed with Shrivasa Pandita and showed the super excellent nature of worship of Lord Krishna in Vrndavana.
The devotees remained in Jagannatha Puri throughout the four months of the rainy season. Immersed in the ecstasy of Lord Gauranga’ s sweet company, they celebrated all the festivals of Lord Jagannatha, including Janmastami, with great pleasure. Then Lord Gauranga requested the devotees to return to Bengal, and He specifically asked Nityananda and Advaita to bestow Krishna-prema upon everyone there, without consideration of caste or creed. But the devotees did not want to leave. They wanted to stay in Puri forever. This made it very difficult for Lord Gauranga to bid them goodbye. Every day the devotees would prepare to go, and every day they delayed more and more.
Finally Lord Gauranga insisted they all return to attend to their duties—especially Nityananda and Advaita, whom He wanted to preach in Bengal. But He reassured them: “I will be here, but I will also be in Bengal with you all. Whenever Shrivasa Pandita holds kirtana in his home I shall be present there. Whenever Nityananda performs His ecstatic dancing I will be present. Whenever Mother Saci offers food to Krishna and then to Me I will personally go and eat it. And whenever Raghava Pandita offers his Deity many nice varieties of bhoga I will personally come to eat that prasada. Please return to Bengal. I will be there with you.”
The residents of Kulina-grama were very dear to Lord Gauranga. As they were preparing to go, the Lord asked them to bring strong silk ropes from Bengal every year for pulling the ratha cart. One resident of Kulina-grama, Satyaraja Khan, asked Lord Gauranga, “My dear Lord, being a materialistic householder I do not know how to advance in spiritual life. Kindly instruct me.”
Lord Gauranga replied, “Just chant the holy name of Krishna without cessation and try to serve the Lord and His devotees whenever you can.”
Satyaraja Khan inquired, “How can I recognize a Vaishnava? What are his symptoms?” Lord Gauranga explained that the first symptom of a devotee is that he gives up the association of nondevotees. When Satyaraja Khan asked for more explanation about the characteristics of a Vaishnava, Lord Gauranga explained that anyone who chants the holy name of Lord Krishna even once is a Vaishnava.
The next year, in the same circumstances, Satyaraja Khan again asked about the characteristics of a Vaishnava, and Lord Gauranga replied that anyone who chants the name of Krishna constantly is a Vaishnava. The following year Satyaraja Khan again asked the same question and Lord Gauranga replied, “A person whose very presence makes others chant the names of Krishna is a Vaishnava.” In this way Lord Gauranga gradually explained the three kinds of Vaishnavas: kanistha adhikari, madhyama adhikari and uttama adhikari, and declared that anyone who chants the holy name of Krishna even once is better than any karmi, jnani or yogi.
. . .
Vasudeva Datta approached Lord Gauranga with the following prayer: “My Lord, I cannot bear to see the conditioned souls suffer. Please the karma of their sinful lives upon my head. Let me suffer perpetually in a hellish condition for their sinful reactions, but kindly deliver them from their diseased material life.”
Very pleased with Vasudeva Datta, Lord Gauranga embraced Him.. “Whatever a pure devotee wants from his master,” He said, “Lord Krishna surely grants. His only duty is to fulfill the desire of His devotee. So, if you desire the deliverance of all living entities within the universe, this can be done without your undergoing the tribulations of sinful activity. Krishna has all potencies. Why would He let you suffer the sinful reactions of other living entities?”
Among altruists and humanists, Vasudeva Datta stands supreme because his desire to do good to all living beings was not limited to a small number of beings. It extended to every living being in the universe, and the good he wanted to do them was the ultimate good.
. . .
Lord Gauranga was always expressing the desire to go to Vrndavana, but on one pretense or another His followers were always keeping Him back.. After some time, however, Lord Gauranga got permission from them, and He started off for Vrndavana via Bengal. When He arrived in the Navadvipa area He did not go to His home town but to the other side of the river.
The people of Navadvipa had been shocked when Nimai had left home to take sannyasa. But after hearing how Lord Gauranga had traveled all over South India, converted so many people to Vaisnavism, and how the King of Orissa and Sarvabhauma Bhattacaraya had become His followers, the people of Navadvipa were most impressed.
When they came to know that the Lord had come back on the other side of the river, they all jumped into boats to to go see Him, and the boats were so full that some of them sank in the middle of the river. Other persons, not even waiting for the boats, simply swam across the river. Many people, who in the past had offended the Lord, came to beg forgiveness. Wherever Lord Gauranga went, great crowds of people would form, and wherever He put His foot on the ground, hundreds of people would scoop up the dust from His lotus feet. In this way, they created many holes in the road.
From Navadvipa Lord Gauranga proceeded north toward Ramakeli, the capital of the King of Bengal. When the Muslim King heard that a sannyasi followed by thousands of Hindus was proceeding toward his capital he was astonished. “He must be a prophet,” the King thought. “Otherwise, why would they follow a mendicant?” The King ordered his magistrate not to disturb the Hindu prophet.
The King then asked his assistant, Kesava Chatri, about the influence of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Kesava Chatri tried to avoid the conversation by telling the King that the Lord was a mendicant touring different places of pilgrimage, and that only a few people came to see Him. The King was not satisfied with the answer, and he privately asked his Finance Minister what he thought of the Hindu mendicant.
“Why are you questioning me?” the Minister replied. “Better you question your own mind. You are the King, the representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore you can understand this better than I.”
“Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead,” the King replied. “I am sure of it.”
After this exchange the Finance Minister returned to the residence he shared with his brother, the Prime Minister. Born in a first-class brahmana family, the brothers had been forced to accept employment in the Muslim government. Considering themselves fallen, they had adopted Muslim names and Muslim customs. But they were always hankering for the association of Lord Gauranga.
Secretly, in the dead of night, the two brothers left their house and traveled to the Lord’s residence. With bunches of straw in their mouths—a sign of humility--they fell flat at the Lord’s feet and offered many prayers describing their fallen condition and begging for the Lord’s causeless mercy. “You have incarnated to deliver the fallen souls,” they pleaded. “We are the most fallen; therefore, by showing us Your mercy, You will fulfill the purpose of Your mission. If You are not merciful upon us it will be difficult to find more suitable candidates for Your mercy.”
“My dear Dabir Khas and Sakara Mallik,” the Lord replied, “you two brothers are My eternal servants. From this day you will be known as Shri Rupa and Sanatana. Please abandon your humility, for it is breaking My heart. I had no business coming to Bengal, but I came just to see the two of you. Now you can go home. Do not fear anything. Krishna will deliver you very soon.”
Before leaving, Rupa and Sanatana respectfully advised the Lord not to travel to Vrndavana with a huge number of followers. It would not be appreciated in Vrndavana, nor was it proper for a sannyasi to travel in this way. Accepting the advice, Lord Gauranga changed His mind about going to Vrndavana and returned to Puri.
Rupa and Sanatana decided to give up their government service and engage fully in the service of Lord Gauranga. Rupa Goswami simply left. First he went home and settled his family affairs. He gave fifty percent of his wealth to brahmanas and Vaishnavas, twenty-five percent to his relatives, and he kept twenty-five percent for personal emergencies. Foreseeing Sanatana’s needs, he also deposited ten thousand gold coins in the custody of a local Bengali grocer before setting out to meet Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu in Vrndavana.
Sanatana Goswami could not leave so easily. Completely dependent on Sanatana for administrating the kingdom, the King of Bengal refused to let him go. When Sanatana insisted he wanted to go, the King put him in jail. Sanatana managed to bribe the jailkeeper with seven thousand of Rupa’s gold coins and escaped. Crossing over the mountains, he went to meet Lord Gauranga in Varanasi.
Meanwhile, Lord Gauranga had gone back to Puri. But after some time He again decided to go Vrndavana, this time secretly. At His associates’ request, He agreed to accept one gentle and learned brahmana, Balabhadra Bhattacarya, as a travel assistant. Another brahmana followed with the Lord’s paraphernalia .
The Lord and His assistants set off very early one morning, unseen by others, and proceeded toward Vrndavana. Abandoning the well-known public road, they walked along the forest paths and through the jungles of Jarikhanda. The forest of Jarikhanda still exists today, but at that time it was much larger and more dangerous, full of tigers, elephants and other wild animals. But Lord Gauranga happily walked along the path, chanting the names of Krishna without any cares or worries.
From time to time He would come across little villages. Sometimes there would be brahmanas there, and Balabhadra would arrange for the Lord’s meals with them. Otherwise he would just feed the Lord whatever fruits, roots and leaves were available in the forest. Lord Gauranga often came across aborigines, and He was happy to induce them to chant Hare Krishna.
One day, while the Lord was walking in an ecstatic trance, He unknowingly stepped on a tiger that was sleeping on the path. The tiger woke up. “Now we are finished” Balabhadra thought.
Addressing the tiger, Lord Gauranga said, “Get up! Why are you sleeping? Chant Hare Krishna!” The tiger got up and started chanting “Hare Krishna!” in ecstasy. Balabhadra was astonished.
Another day, while Lord Gauranga was bathing in a river, a herd of maddened elephants came charging through. The Lord splashed the elephants with water and asked them to chant Hare Krishna. When the water touched their bodies the elephants began chanting “Krishna! Krishna!” Some of them danced, some fell to the ground and others screamed in ecstasy. Balabhadra was completely astonished.
Sometimes, Lord Gauranga’s sweet singing would attract the deer and does, and they would follow the Lord. One day some tigers joined the party, and when Lord Gauranga ordered all of them to chant Hare Krishna, the tigers and deer began to dance and chant, “Krishna!” and embraced and kissed one another. Balabhadra was struck with wonder.
Wherever the Lord went, the birds, trees and creepers became jubilant; in all the villages through which He passed and in all the places He rested on His journey, everyone was awakened to ecstatic love of Krishna.
Eventually Lord Gauranga arrived in Varanasi. There He met Tapana Misra, the brahmana whom He had met in East Bengal, and whom He had instructed about the chanting of the holy name.. On Lord Gauranga’s order, Tapana Misra had moved to Varanasi, but because the place was full of Mayavadis and he could not find devotees to associate with, he was unhappy. Lord Gauranga accepted Tapana Misra’s invitation to have lunch at his place for ten days.
The Lord then proceeded toward Mathura, and when He saw the city, He immediately fell to the ground and offered obeisances in great ecstatic love. After entering the city He took His bath at Visrama-ghata, visited the birthplace of Krishna and saw the Deity of Kesavaji.
Although Lord Gauranga was always merged in ecstatic thoughts of Vrndavana, His ecstasy increased a thousand times when He reached Mathura and a hundred thousand times when He actually entered Vrndavana. His mind saturated with the ecstasy of love in separation from Krishna, Lord Gauranga walked through the twelve forests of Vrndavana. As He walked, herds of grazing cows came to Him, mooing very loudly, and licked His body in great affection. The does and bucks also came to lick the Lord’s body and accompanied Him along the forest path. The parrots, cuckoos and bumblebees sang loudly, and the peacocks danced in front of Him. Even the trees and creepers became jubilant and, shedding tears of ecstasy in the form of honey, they offered their fruits and flowers at the Lord’s lotus feet.
While in Mathura, Lord Gauranga had met a disciple of Madhavendra Puri who belonged to the inferior Sanodiya brahmana caste. That brahmana accompanied Lord Gauranga on his Vrndavana pilgrimage and gave Him accommodation at his house. From there, Lord Gauranga daily went to Vrndavana. One day, as Lord Gauranga sat at Akrura-ghata—the very place where Akrura had stopped to take bath before bringing Krishna and Balarama to Mathura—He suddenly jumped into the water and remained there for a very long time. Thinking He was drowning, Balabhadra pulled Him out, but he was very concerned that the incident not repeat itself in Vrndavana, where the Lord used to wander alone in ecstatic trance. In consultation with the Sanodiya brahmana, Balabhadra decided to take the Lord to Prayag. Not wanting to put His servant in anxiety, Lord Gauranga agreed to go.
Lord Gauranga, Balabhadra, Balabhadra’s assistant, the Sanodiya brahmana and Krishnadas (a Rajput devotee the Lord had met in Vrndavana) headed toward Prayag on the footpath along the Yamuna. Suddenly, a cowherd boy blew on his flute. Thinking it was Krishna’s flute , Lord Gauranga fainted in ecstasy. Just at that time, ten cavalry soldiers of the Mohammedan Pathana military order rode up. Seing the Lord unconscious and the four men around Him, the soldiers got off their horses and arrested the four men. “You must have poisoned this sannyasi to take His money,” they said. “Now we have caught you.”
Balabhadra and his assistant were trembling in fear, but Krishnadas, being from the princely caste, challenged the soldiers. “I have my home here,” he said, “and I also have about two hundred Turkish soldiers and one hundred cannons. If I call loudly they will come immediately to kill you and plunder your horses and saddles.” Hearing this, the Pathan soldiers became somewhat afraid.
Just then, Lord Gauranga came to external consciousness and began chanting “Hari! Hari!” Coming before the Lord, the Pathan soldiers said, “My dear Sir, these rogues have poisoned You to take away all Your money.”
“I’m a sannyasi,” Lord Gauranga replied, “I don’t have any money. These are not rogues. They are My associates.”
Among the soldiers was a person wearing a black dress. He looked very grave and people called him a saintly person. He wanted to talk to Lord Gauranga and establish impersonal Brahman on the basis of the Koran, but whatever arguments he put forward, Lord Gauranga refuted until the person was defeated. Lord Gauranga then gave evidence that although the Koran had established impersonalism, it had also refuted it and established the personal God as the ultimate truth. The saintly Mohammedan, along with all the soldiers, then surrendered to the Lord. Thereafter, they became famous as the Pathan Vaishnavas, and preached Krishna consciousness all over the country.
Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, the author of Shri Gauranga-charitamrita , says that although Prayag is situated at the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, the city was never flooded unto Lord Gauranga came and flooded it with Krishnaprema. The Lord stayed there during the month of Magha (December-January). At that time of the year, saintly persons from all over Bharata-varsa gather at Triveni (the area where the Ganga and Yamuna converge) to take bath at a particular auspicious moment.
Lord Gauranga remained in Prayag for the whole month, and every day He would visit the Bindu Madhava temple, a famous temple of Lord Vishnu near the spot where the Ganga and Yamuna meet. Thousands of people came to join the Lord’s sankirtana movement. One day, Rupa Gosvami arrived in Prayag with his younger brother Anupama (also known as Vallabha), a great devotee of Lord Rama. From a distance, Rupa and Anupama saw Lord Gauranga on His way to the Bindu Madhava temple. Immediately the two brothers put clumps of straw between their teeth and fell flat on the ground, offering obeisances. The Lord saw them, called them to Him and embraced them. With folded hands, Rupa Gosvami offered Lord Gauranga his famous prayer:
Krishna-prema pradaya te
namne gaura-tvise namah
“O most munificent incarnation! You are Krishna Himself, appearing as Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Shrimati Radharani and You are widely distributing pure love of Krishna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.”
Vallabha Bhatta, the founder of the Pusti marga sect of Vaishnavas, lived about one mile away from Prayag on the other side of the Yamuna. Having heard that Lord Gauranga was in town, he went to invite Him for lunch at his place. Lord Gauranga introduced Rupa and Anupama to Vallabha Bhatta. Being aware of Vallabha Bhatta’s pride in his aristocratic lineage, the Lord warned Vallabha not to touch Rupa and Anupama, saying that they came from a very low caste. Vallabha Bhatta understood that the Lord was teaching him a lesson. “Since these two are constantly chanting the holy name of Krishna,” he said, “how can they be untouchable? On the contrary, they are most exalted.” Vallabha Bhatta then quoted a verse from the Shrimad-Bhagavatam stating that a person who always chants the holy name of Krishna is greater than the most exalted brahmana, even if he is born in a family of dog-eaters.
At the house of Vallabha Bhatta, Gauranga Mahaprabhu met a great Vaishnava scholar named Raghupati Upadhyaya, and the two of them discussed topics of Krishna. Raghupati Upadhyaya recited a verse he had personally composed in glorification of Krishna, and Lord Gauranga became overwhelmed with ecstatic love. The verse went like this: “Those who are afraid of material existence worship Vedic literature. Some worship smrti, the corollaries of Vedic literature, and others worship the Mahabharata. As far as I am concerned, I worship Maharaja Nanda, the father of Krishna, in whose courtyard the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, is playing.”
Being questioned by Lord Gauranga, Raghupati Upadhyaya gave the instruction that of all the forms of the Personality of Godhead, Syamasundara is best; of all the abodes of Syamasundara, Mathura is best; of all the ages of Syamasundara, the kisora age, blooming youth, is best; and of all the moods in which Syamasundara can be worshiped, the mood of madhurya-rasa, the sweet conjugal relationship, is best.
Back in Prayag, Lord Gauranga sat with Rupa Gosvami in a quiet spot at the Dasasvamedha-ghata, and for ten days He continuously instructed him in the science of Krishna consciousness. The Lord described everything in great detail so that in the future Rupa could write many books about devotional service, including such confidential topics as the relationship between Krishna and Shrimati Radharani.
After empowering Rupa Goswami to write, Gauranga Mahaprabhu prepared to go to Varanasi. Unable to bear the Lord’s separation, Rupa Gosvami asked for permission follow Him to Varanasi, but Lord Gauranga did not allow him to. “Your duty is to carry out My order,” He said. “You have come near Vrndavana. Now you should go there. Later you can go from Vrndavana to Jagannatha Puri through Bengal. There you will meet Me again.” After embracing Rupa Goswami, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu got into a boat. Rupa Goswami fainted and fell down on the spot. Thereafter, he and his brother Vallabha left for Vrndavana.
. . .
When Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu arrived at Varanasi He met His devotee Candrasekhara at the city gate. The night before, Candrasekhara had dreamed that Lord Gauranga had come to his house. Accordingly, he had come out of the city early the next morning to wait for Lord Gauranga. Although Candrasekhara was a secretary in government service and belonged to the sudra caste, Lord Gauranga agreed to stay at his house.
Normally, in a holy city like Varanasi, a sannyasi would stay in an asrama with other sannyasis, or at least in the house of a brahmana. But Lord Gauranga wanted to show that in the worship of Krishna it doesn’t matter what caste one belongs to. Lord Gauranga’s greatest followers, Rupa and Sanatana, were considered to have become Muslims, but Lord Gauranga, going against the rigid traditions of those days, accepted everybody who worshiped Krishna as glorious, regardless of caste or creed.
Lord Gauranga ‘s street dancing and His public chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra shocked the many sannyasis residing in Varanasi. One prominent sannyasi, Prakasananda Sarasvati, had 60,000 disciples. He taught Mayavada philosophy—that God, the Supreme Absolute Truth, has no form, no eyes, no legs, no ears, no personality, and that whoever takes sannyasa is as good as God. With such philosophy, Mayavadi sannyasis become very proud. So when they saw Lord Gauranga dancing here and there they were most displeased with His behavior. Lord Gauranga, however, didn’t care for them. Avoiding their company, He simply went on with His sankirtana movement.
One day, Lord Gauranga was sitting in the house of Candrasekhara. Suddenly He said, “There is one Vaishnava outside the house. Please bring him in.” Candrasekhara went outside, but he didn’t see any Vaishnava. All he saw was one bearded, dirty-looking Muslim mendicant.
“There’s no Vaishnava at the door,” Candrasekhara reported.
“Yes, one Muslim fakir.” Hearing this, Lord Gauranga ran out of the house, and upon seeing the mendicant, embraced him. Both the Lord and the mendicant cried tears of ecstasy, while Candrasekhara watched them with astonishment.
“My dear Lord, please do not touch me,” the mendicant said. “I am very fallen and lowly and unworthy of Your embrace.”
“My dear Sanatana,” the Lord replied, “saints of your caliber can purify even the places of pilgrimage. I am touching you just to purify Myself. Krishna has saved you from the deepest hell,” the Lord continued. “He is an ocean of mercy, and His activities are unfathomable.”
Sanatana replied, “I do not know who Krishna is. As far as I am concerned, it is Your mercy that released me from prison.”
Lord Gauranga spent one month in Varanasi, instructing Sanatana Gosvami in the science of the Absolute. He explained the constitutional position of the living entity; the three features of the Absolute Truth (Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan); the many expansions and forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; His incarnations within the material world; and the process of devotional service.. Lord Gauranga also told Sanatana that to understand Lord Shri Krishna in Vrndavana is the highest platform of spiritual understanding. Lord Gauranga described the divisions of Krishna’s different ages, the different pastimes of the different ages, and how Krishna attained His permanent form when He reached youth.
Lord Gauranga Himself did not write any books, but He especially instructed the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana to write. Among the Six Goswamis, Rupa, Sanatana and——their nephew Jiva, the son of Anupama, are famous in the Vaishnava and academic communities for the many valuable books they have written. Rupa Goswami’s major literary contributions are Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Ujjvala-nilamani, Upadesamrta, Dana-keli- kaumudi, Hansadutta, Padyavali and Laghu Bhagavatamrta. He also wrote the two dramas Lalita Madhava and Vidagda Madhava about the pastimes of Krishna in Dvaraka and Vrndavana. Sanatana Gosvami wrote Brhad Bhagavatamrta and, together with Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the Hari-bhakti-vilasa. He also wrote a commentary on the Tenth Canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam called Dasama Tippani. Jiva Gosvami wrote the Sat-sandarbhas, six treatises of philosophical exegesis on all the points of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy, and Gopala-campu,an overview of Krishna’s pastimes.
The devotees of Lord Gauranga in Varanasi—Tapana Misra, Candrasekhara and one Maharashtrian brahmana—were greatly unhappy to hear the Mayavadi sannyasis’ endless criticisms of Lord Gauranga. One day, the Maharashtrian brahmana decided to invite all the sannyasis of Varanasi to lunch at his place with Lord Gauranga. His idea was that when the Mayavadis actually saw the divine characteristics of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, they would accept Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Understanding the brahmana’s intention and the distress of His devotees, Lord Gauranga accepted the invitation.
The next day, when Lord Gauranga entered the house of that brahmana, the Mayavadi sannyasis were already sitting there in an elevated place. As is the custom, Lord Gauranga washed His feet upon entering the house. Then He sat down in the same spot where the people washed their feet. “Why are you sitting in a dirty place?” Prakasananda Sarasvati inquired.
Lord Gauranga replied, “My dear sir, I am not from such an advanced order of sannyasa as you are. I’m not fit to sit with you.” Prakasananda, appreciating Lord Gauranga’s humility, personally came to take the Lord by the hand and brought Him to sit with the other sannyasis.
Lord Gauranga’s bodily effulgence clearly revealed Him to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus the Mayavadi sannyasis—who falsely considered themselves to be Narayana—understood that Lord Gauranga was actually Narayana. But Prakasananda Sarasvati, although moved by Lord Gauranga’s humility and display of opulence, still wanted to challenge Him on philosophical grounds.
“I understand Your name is Shri Krishna Gauranga,” he said, “and that you belong to our Sankara-sampradaya. Why are You avoiding our association? You are a sannyasi. Why do You indulge in chanting and dancing in the company of fanatics? This is not the business of a sannyasi. A sannyasi is supposed to perform austerities, meditate and study the Vedanta-sutra. You look as brilliant as Narayana Himself. Will You kindly explain why You have adopted the behavior of lower-class people?”
Lord Gauranga replied, “Considering Me to be a fool, My spiritual master forbade me to study Vedanta philosophy. He said I should chant the holy name of Krishna incessantly, perform sankirtana in the association of devotees and preach the value of Krishna-nama to the people at large. The holy name of Krishna is the essence of all Vedic hymns. Simply by chanting Krishna’s name one becomes free from material existence and attains the lotus feet of the Lord. In this age of Kali the chanting of the holy name of Krishna is the only way to make spiritual progress.
“But anyway,” the Lord continued, “I can say something about Vedanta philosophy. Vedanta philosophy consists of words spoken by Lord Narayana in the form of Vyasadeva. These words must be understood as they are, but Shripad Sankaracarya has given indirect meanings to them. Whoever hears his explanations is spiritually ruined. Yet Sankaracarya, who is an incarnation of Lord Siva, is not at fault. He acted under the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to cover the real purpose of the Vedas and bewilder the atheists of the age of Kali.”
Lord Gauranga explained at length the real meaning of Vedanta to the Mayavadi sannyasis, who then surrendered at His lotus feet. “Dear Sir,” they said, “You are Vedic knowledge personified and are directly Narayana Himself. Please forgive the offenses we previously committed by criticizing You.” The Lord forgave them and instructed them to chant Hare Krishna. Then they all sat down to take prasada together.
The conversion of Prakasananda Sarasvati and his followers was a great victory for Lord Gauranga. Upon leaving Varanasi, He joked “I came here to sell some goods, but finding no customers, I gave them away for free.” In other words He came to offer Krishna consciousness to the people, but when He found that they were not very willing to take it, He somehow or other managed to spread His message.
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu was eager to go back to Jagannatha Puri. Just before leaving, He instructed Sanatana Gosvami to join Rupa and Anupama in Vrndavana. His duties in Vrindavana would be to write a book on the rules of conduct for Vaishnavas, to rediscover and renovate the lost places of Krishna’s pastimes in Vraja Mandala, to install Deities of Krishna in different places in Vrndavana and to dedicate his life to spreading Krishna consciousness. The Lord gave Sanatana another, special instruction: “My devotees who go to Vrndavana are generally very poor. You must give them shelter and maintain them.”
When Lord Gauranga reached Puri He met His devotee Raghunatha dasa. Raghunatha dasa had been born in an extraordinarily wealthy family of landowners. In his childhood he got a chance to serve Haridasa Thakura. Thus he developed a taste for chanting the holy names of Krishna and an overwhelming desire to join Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. His parents, however, although pious and dedicated to Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, did not want Raghunatha to go. They got him married to a beautiful young girl, hoping this would tie him down to materialistic life. But it didn’t.
After Lord Gauranga took sannyasa, Raghunatha dasa went to meet Him in Santipur and expressed his desire to give up family life. “Don’t be a crazy fellow,” the Lord replied. “For now, you should return home and behave like an ordinary materially attached householder. Within yourself, however, you must always think of Krishna. In due course of time, you will get the chance to serve Krishna fully.” Raghunatha dasa went home, and for one year he behaved like a first-class business manager. The next year, however, he again decided to leave home and go to Jagannatha Puri. But his father caught him in a distant place and brought him back. This became a pattern. Again and again Raghunatha would run away from home, and again and again his father would send men to bring him back.
One day, at Panihati, Raghunatha dasa met Nityananda Prabhu, who ordered him to arranged a huge festival. Raghunatha dasa fed everybody chipped rice and yogurt and many other nice foods.
Afterward, Raghunatha dasa prayed for the blessings of Lord Nityananda. “No one can attain the shelter of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu without Your mercy,” he said, “but if You are merciful, even the lowest of men can attain shelter at His lotus feet.”
“My dear Raghunatha,” Lord Nityananda replied, “Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu will soon accept you and place you under the charge of His secretary, Svarupa Damodara. You will thus become one of the most confidential servants of the Lord.” The meeting of Raghunatha dasa with Lord Nityananda illustrates the point that one cannot get Lord Gauranga’s mercy without first getting the mercy of Lord Nityananda.
Soon after returning home, Raghunatha dasa got a chance to escape. Walking thirty miles a day along an unused path, he reached Jagannatha Puri in twelve days. As foretold by Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Gauranga entrusted Raghunatha to Svarupa Damodara after giving him the following instructions: “Do not talk like the common people or hear what they say. Do not eat very palatable food or dress very nicely. Do not expect honor, but offer all respects to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Krishna. And within your mind, serve Radha and Krishna in Vrndavana.”
Although Raghunatha dasa had come from a most affluent background, his life in Puri was a model of extreme renunciation. For the first five days Lord Gauranga sent him prasada through His servant Govinda, but from the sixth day, following the custom of poverty-stricken Vaishnavas, Raghunatha started begging alms every evening at the temple gate.
After some time he considered that begging was similar to prostitution—depending on the charity of others—and that he should instead fill his belly with whatever was provided once a day at the charity booth. Later on, he even stopped going to the charity booth and simply collected the rotten rice prasada that even the cows wouldn’t eat. He would wash the rotten rice with lots of water and eat the hard inner portion with salt. Being pleased with his behavior, Lord Gauranga came to see Raghunatha. “What nice things are you eating? Why don’t you give Me some?” Saying this, the Lord snatched a handful of rice and ate it. Then He said, “I have never tasted such nice prasada.” In this way, the Lord appreciated the renunciation of Raghunatha dasa.
Throughout his life, Raghunatha dasa never succumbed to sense gratification. He only wore a torn loincloth and a patchwork wrapper. It is said that his regulative principles were as fixed as the lines on a stone. Being very much pleased with his devotion, Lord Gauranga gave Raghunatha dasa a Govardhana sila (stone) from Govardhana Hill and a small garland of gunja (a small red and black seed that grows in Vrndavana). The Lord told Raghunatha dasa to worship both the stone and the garland. Because Govardhana Hill is non-different from Krishna, Raghunatha dasa would sometimes see Krishna in the sila, and sometimes he would see Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
For two years the devotees from Bengal could not come to Jagannatha Puri. Thereafter, they again prepared for the long journey to Orissa to meet Lord Gauranga, the Lord of their lives.
Whenever the devotees from Bengal traveled to Orissa, Sivananda Sena would organize the party. He would arrange everyone’s prasada and lodgings along the route, make arrangements to cross the rivers by boat and pay the tax men at the toll booths along the way.
One time the devotees were walking to Puri, continuously chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare, when one dog began to follow their party. Sivananda Sena considered that since the dog had joined a party of Vaishnavas, he must also be a Vaishnava. So he arranged for the dog’s food everyday.
Once, at a toll booth, one tax collector was giving Sivananda Sena a lot of trouble. “The members of my party are tired and hungry,” Sivananda told him. “Let them go through and I will sort things out with you.” The tax collector agreed and everyone went ahead, except Sivananda. When Sivananda finally came in the evening, he asked if everyone had got prasada and the devotees replied that they had. Sivananda then asked about the dog. He hadn’t been given prasada and nobody could find him. Sivananda became very sorry. Considering that he had made an offense—because it was his duty to look after everybody but he had failed to look after the dog—he decided to fast that night.
When the party reached Puri and Sivananda came to see Gauranga Mahaprabhu, he saw Gauranga Mahaprabhu was sitting and throwing prasada to that same dog, who was catching the prasada in its mouth. “Chant Hare Krishna!” Gauranga Mahaprabhu told the dog. By Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s blessings the dog started to chant. Upon seeing this, Sivananda offered his obeisances to the dog. The next day, the dog disappeared. By the blessings of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, he had gone back to Godhead. Because that living entity in the condemned form of a dog had somehow or other gotten the kind attention of a great Vaishnava, Gauranga Mahaprabhu had delivered him.
One devotee of Lord Gauranga in Puri, Bhagavan Acarya, was very liberal-minded--so much so that Svarupa Damodara Goswami sometimes questioned his sense of discrimination.. Svarupa Damodara Goswami, a very strict Vaishnava, could not tolerate anything that went against the principles of pure devotional service.
Once, Bhagavan Acharaya’s younger brother, Gopal, came to visit him. Gopal had been studying in Varanasi and had become expert in describing the Vedanta-sutra according to thecommentary of Sankaracarya, which attempts to equate the jiva with Bhagavan .
Bhagavan Acarya, thinking that his brother had become expert in the study of sastra, invited Svarupa Damodara to come and listen to Gopal’s explanations. Svarupa Damodara reacted with great anger and said that Bhagavan Acarya had lost his sense of propriety. How could he have anything to do with a Mayavadi? He said that even if he happens to be his own brother, one should not associate with a Mayavadi, because even great devotees may fall down from the spiritual path by hearing the Mayavada commentary on sastra. Bhagavan Acarya gave up his family connection with Gopal and asked him to leave his house.
Another time, Bhagavan Acarya invited Gauranga Mahaprabhu for lunch at his home. Bhagavan Acarya wanted to give the Lord the best rice available, so he sent Chota Haridasa to beg at the house of Madhavi Devi, an elderly renounced lady devotee of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, who always kept first-class rice. [Chota Haridasa, an intimate devotee of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and a very sweet singer, should not be confused with Haridasa Thakura.]
While taking His lunch, Gauranga Mahaprabhu praised the quality of the rice and asked where it had come from. Bhagavan Acarya replied that Madhavi Devi had supplied it. Gauranga Mahaprabhu then asked who had begged the rice from Madhavi Devi and Bhagavan Acarya replied that Chota Haridasa had. After finishing prasada, Gauranga Mahaprabhu told His servant that from now on Chota Haridasa should not be allowed to see Him. On hearing this, all the devotees were very surprised, and they asked Mahaprabhu what was Chota Haridasa’s offense. Gauranga Mahaprabhu replied that He could not tolerate the lustful desire of a person in the renounced order of life. Gauranga Mahaprabhu could understand that when Chota Haridasa had approached Madhavi Devi, a young woman had been present at her place, and that seeing her had awakened some lustful desire in the heart of Chota Haridasa. Consequently, Gauranga Mahaprabhu rejected him.
After Haridasa had fasted for three days, the devotees petitioned Gauranga Mahaprabhu to forgive him for his minor offense and allow him back into His company. But Gauranga Mahaprabhu became upset, and warned the devotees that if they again asked Him about this matter He would not only disregard Haridasa, but would leave Puri as well, and they would not see Him again. The devotees became afraid and no longer spoke to Gauranga Mahaprabhu about Haridasa.
On the advice of the devotees, Haridasa broke his fast and simply waited for the day Mahaprabhu would call him. But Mahaprabhu did not call him. For a whole year Haridasa simply waited on the road whenever Mahaprabhu walked to the temple of Lord Jagannatha, and at a long distance, he would take darsana of Mahaprabhu and offer Him obeisances. After one whole year had passed in this way, Haridasa left Puri. He went to Prayag and drowned himself at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.
Shortly after, while walking along the beach at Puri one night, Svarupa Damodara and the other devotees heard a beautiful voice singing from the sky. It sounded just like Haridasa, so the devotees speculated that Haridasa, out of frustration of not getting Mahaprabhu’s association, had committed suicide and become a ghost. But Svarupa Damodara told them that because Haridasa was a great devotee of Lord Gauranga he could not become a ghost. Rather, he would certainly obtain a spiritual body. Factually, Haridasa had obtained the body of a gandharva, and he used to come, unseen by others, to sing for Gauranga Mahaprabhu. And Gauranga Mahaprabhu accepted him and his singing again. The Lord’s severe dealings with Haridasa are meant to teach everyone that a devotee in the renounced order of life should practice Krishna consciousness without a tinge of material desire.
Upon Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s request, Sanatana Goswami came from Vrndavana to visit Lord Gauranga in Puri. Along the way, in the Jarikhanda forest, Sanatana drank contaminated water and contracted a disease that made his body itch with pus-oozing sores.
In Puri, Sanatana stayed with Haridasa Thakura, whom Gauranga Mahaprabhu used to visit daily. And every day the Lord would embrace Sanatana by force. Sanatana didn’t want Gauranga Mahaprabhu to embrace him because he considered himself lowly and fallen. Also, he did not want the pus from his body to touch Gauranga Mahaprabhu. So he was very unhappy. “I took birth in this sacred land of Bharata-varsa,” he thought, “and still I couldn’t render any service with this sick and useless body. Therefore I will give it up under the wheel of Jagannatha’s cart in the upcoming Ratha-yatra .”
Being the Supersoul in everyone’s heart, Lord Gauranga could understand Sanatana’s intention, and He informed Sanatana that He knew it. “What kind of a gentleman are you?” the Lord asked Sanatana. “You have already surrendered your life to Me. Your body is My property. You have no right to destroy it.”
Sanatana replied that he was very unhappy because the Lord was embracing him every day and in this way Sanatana was committing offenses. Mahaprabhu said that He was embracing Sanatana for His own purification, because Sanatana was such a great devotee. Saying this, Gauranga Mahaprabhu again embraced Sanatana, and this time all the sickness and sores left Sanatana’s body.
“I have much important work to do in Vrndavana and Mathura,” the Lord told Sanatana, “but because I promised My mother that I would stay in Puri, I have to do this work through your body. Please, do not destroy it.”
After Gauranga Mahaprabhu left, Haridasa Thakura embraced Sanatana Goswami. “You are the most fortunate person!” he exclaimed. “Gauranga Mahaprabhu has accepted your body as His own personal property and deputed you to perform important services on His behalf in the holy dhama of Mathura.”
Pradyumna Misra, a resident of Shrihatta, once came to hear Krishna-lila from Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. But Gauranga Mahaprabhu sent him to Ramananda Raya instead. Pradyumna Misra went, but he had to wait a long time before Ramananda could see him. Ramananda finally came and apologized for the delay. He explained that nobody had informed him of Pradyumna Misra’s arrival, and that he had been dressing the deva-dasis and teaching them how to dance for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha. (Deva-dasis are young girls, professional dancers and singers, employed by the temple to enact dramas for the pleasure of the Lord.)
Because it was already late, Pradyumna Misra returned to his residence without disclosing the purpose of his visit, and when Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu inquired from him about his visit to Ramananda Raya, Pradyumna Misra expressed his surprise that a respectable gentleman should be dressing deva-dasis with his own hands. It didn’t seem the proper behavior of a devotee.
Gauranga Mahaprabhu replied that what was possible for Ramananda Raya was not possible for anybody else. “Ramananda Raya is dressing the deva-dasis,” the Lord explained, “but he has not even the slightest lustful desire in his heart. He is simply thinking how to dress them nicely so that Jagannatha will be pleased with their performance.” So the next day Pradyumna Misra went back to meet Ramananda Raya, and he heard such wonderful Krishna-katha from him that his heart was completely satisfied.
One Bengali poet had composed a drama comparing Lord Jagannatha and Lord Gauranga, which all the devotees appreciated. They wanted Gauranga Mahaprabhu to hear it. But there was a rule that no literary composition could be given to Mahaprabhu unless Svarupa Damodara had first seen it, because Mahaprabhu couldn’t hear anything that went even slightly against the principles of pure devotional service.
As soon as the Bengali poet read the introductory verses of his poem, Svarupa Damodara understood that he had philosophical misconceptions. Consequently, he advised the poet to hear the Shrimad Bhagavatam from a pure devotee of Krishna and to take full shelter of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. In this way he would be able to get Mahaprabhu’s mercy and actually understand the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. Only then would he be qualified to write Krishna conscious literature.
Every night in Puri, Mahaprabhu performed sankirtana with His associates. Thousands of people would join that sankirtana, including living entities from all over the universe—heavenly planets, the planets of the snakes, gandharva loka, and so on. Disguised as pilgrims, they would come to take darsana of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Then, imbued with the ecstasy of sankirtana, they would go back to their own planets and spread Krishna consciousness there.
The King of Puri had an open order that Mahaprabhu’s men should get as much Jagannatha prasada as they wanted. . The devotees used to chant Hare Krishna with thousands of men for at least four hours every night and then, when everyone was tired, they would distribute prasada profusely to everyone. In this way everyone was tasting the bliss of Mahaprabhu’s sankirtana movement--simply chanting, dancing and taking prasada.
Once, Gauranga Mahaprabhu went to the temple of Jagannatha early in the morning for darsana, and when He came out, He asked the devotees to start kirtana. As soon as they did, Mahaprabhu started jumping high in the sky. As the ecstasy of kirtana built up, the devotees’ absorption in the holy name of Krishna became complete. Forgetting their minds, bodies, homes and everything else, the devotees could think of nothing except the name of Krishna. Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s teeth became loose and His body trembled and became covered with eruptions.
By mid- afternoon the kirtana was still going on. Seeing that the devotees were exhausted from more than ten hours of chanting and dancing, Nityananda Prabhu devised a way to stop the kirtana without shocking Gauranga Mahaprabhu, who was still completely absorbed in the ecstasy of chanting. One by one, Nityananda had the devotees stop chanting until Svarupa Damodara alone was chanting. Mahaprabhu then came to external consciousness and asked what had happened to the kirtana. Nityananda replied that it was mid-afternoon and that Mahaprabhu had not yet done his midday duties and taken prasada.
Daily, after Mahaprabhu had taken prasada, His servant Govinda would come and massage Him for a few minutes; Mahaprabhu would then take rest and Govinda would go and take Mahaprabhu’s remnants as his prasada. On that particular day, Mahaprabhu felt very tired after prasada; so He came back to His room and fell down just inside the doorway. When Govinda saw Mahaprabhu within the doorway, he wondered how he could massage the Lord without stepping over Him. Seeing no other way, he asked Him to move slightly to the side so that he could come in.
“I am too tired to move,” Mahaprabhu replied. “Do whatever you like.” Govinda put his top cloth over Mahaprabhu’s body, offered obeisances, crossed over Mahaprabhu’s body and massaged Him. Mahaprabhu fell asleep. After some time the Lord awoke. Seeing Govinda He became a little angry and asked him why he had not yet gone to take prasada. Govinda replied that he couldn’t cross over the Lord’s body to go outside. “Well, how did you come inside?” Mahaprabhu asked.
Govinda didn’t reply, but in his mind he thought, “For the sake of serving Mahaprabhu I may make some offense and go to hell, but for my own sense gratification I don’t want to even dream of making the slightest shadow of an offense.”
One day, when Govinda went to bring Haridasa Thakura Jagannatha prasada, he found Haridasa lying down, looking ill and chanting his japa very slowly. “What is wrong,?” Govinda asked.
“I cannot finish my rounds properly,” Haridasa replied. Govinda left the prasada and reported back to Gauranga Mahaprabhu that Haridasa was not well. The next day, Lord Gauranga came to ask Haridasa about his health and Haridasa again said, “My disease is that I cannot finish my rounds properly.
“You are very old now,” Mahaprabhu replied, “and you are already a perfect devotee. There is no need for you to chant so many rounds.”
“My dear Lord,” Haridasa replied, “kindly hear my real desire. I know that You will not stay much longer in this world and I cannot bear to live in this world without You. Please allow me to leave before You.”
Mahaprabhu said, “Haridasa, you are such a great devotee. It would be a great loss to the world if you departed.”
“I am very insignificant,” Haridasa replied. “If an ant dies, what is the loss for the world? Similarly, if I were to leave, what would be the loss to the world? I want to leave this world while seeing Your moon-like face.”
The next day, Mahaprabhu came with all His devotees and started to describe the qualities and character of Haridasa. Hearing of the extraordinary activities Haridasa had performed throughout his life—with great difficulty and always in the most humble mood—the devotees were astonished. Not only had Haridasa chanted the holy name incessantly, but he had also preached the glories of the holy name far and wide. And therefore he was fit to be the namacarya .
Mahaprabhu started kirtana, and Haridasa knelt before Him. As the kirtana went on, Haridasa gazed at the lotus face of his beloved Lord and chanted the names “Shri Krishna Gauranga” again and again, and thus departed from this world. All the devotees were astonished at Haridasa’s departure. It reminded them of the departure of Bhismadeva, who left this world at will, while taking darsana of Shri Krishna.
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu took the body of Haridasa in His arms and started dancing in ecstasy. Then the Lord and His devotees bathed the body of Haridasa in the sea and made a samadhi for him on the seashore. “By the touch of Haridasa’s glorious body, this sea has now become a maha tirtha (a great holy place),” Mahaprabhu declared. Then the Lord personally went to beg Jagannatha prasada from all the shopkeepers for a great festival in honor of Haridasa Thakura’s departure, and He blessed everyone present at that festival to get love of God.
By displaying such great love for Haridasa, Mahaprabhu showed that He did not consider anyone in terms of caste or creed. Mahaprabhu appeared in a brahmana family, whereas Haridasa appeared in a Muslim family, but among all His devotees, Gauranga Mahaprabhu gave Haridasa Thakura the most important position .
. . .
Every year the devotees from Bengal had a difficult time leaving Puri, and Mahaprabhu also didn’t want them to go. Every year the devotees would postpone their departure for a few days, and then again for a few days, and eventually, with great grief, they would separate from Gauranga Mahaprabhu.
One year, at the time of their leaving, Lord Gauranga said, “Just for My sake You are all undergoing such great hardships to come here. Advaita Acaraya is old now, yet still He comes; and Nityananda, unable to bear separation from Me, keeps breaking My order to stay in Bengal and preach. You are all so affectionate to Me, but I have nothing to give you in return. I am a poor sannyasi with no possession other than this body. Therefore I simply give Myself to you in repayment for your love for Me.” Hearing this love-laden speech, the devotees’ hearts melted and torrents of tears flowed from their eyes. Gauranga Mahaprabhu embraced all His devotees, and eventually they departed.
There is no difference between Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Shri Krishna. When the Lord descends to perform His pastimes on earth—as Shri Krishna in Dvapara-yuga and as Lord Gauranga in Kali-yuga--He brings along His eternal intimate associates. Jagadananda Pandita was one such associate. He had been with Lord Gauranga since childhood, and after the Lord had taken sannyasa, he was one of the first devotees to follow Him to Puri. In Krishna-lila Jagadananda is Satyabhama, one of Krishna’s principal Queens. Just as Satyabhama was famous for her endless quarrels of love with Krishna, Jagadananda was known to always get angry with Gauranga Mahaprabhu, and the Lord accepted his sentiment.
One time, Mahaprabhu sent Jagadananda to Bengal with some news of His activities for His mother. While in Bengal, Jagadananda collected much sandalwood and, with great labor and difficulty, extracted the oil from it, intending to use it for massaging Mahaprabhu’s head. Taking great care not to spill even one drop of it, Jagadananda brought the valuable oil back to Jagannatha Puri in a big pot and, with great happiness, presented it to Gauranga Mahaprabhu. But Mahaprabhu refused. “I am a sannyasi,” He said. “If I use sweet-scented oil, people will think I am keeping women. But you can use this oil for the lamps of the Jagannatha temple. In this way your endeavor will be fruitful.”
Jagadananda became so angry that he grabbed the pot of sandalwood oil, smashed it in the courtyard and ran back to his residence. He bolted the door, and simply lay on his bed for three days, fasting. On the fourth day Gauranga Mahaprabhu came to his hut and asked, “Jagadananda, will you please cook for Me today?”
Forgetting his anger Jagadananda got up, bathed and cooked a great prasada feast for Gauranga Mahaprabhu. He also served the prasada, constantly refilling Mahaprabhu’s plate, insisting that Mahaprabhu eat more and more. The Lord kept on eating, afraid that if He stopped, Jagadananda would again beome angry and continue to fast. Finally, the Lord told Jagadananda that He had eaten ten times more than usual and begged him to also take prasada. In this way, Jagadananda Pandit broke his fast.
. . .
During the last eighteen years of His manifest presence on earth, Lord Gauranga remained in Jagannatha Puri, increasingly absorbed in the ecstasy of separation from Krishna. During the day Lord Gauranga engaged in activities that took His mind somewhat off the deep feelings of separation burning within His heart, but at night He felt intense separation from Krishna—just like Radha felt after Krishna left Vrndavana for Mathura. Lord Gauranga is the combined form of Radha and Krishna, but with the mood and complexion of Shrimati Radharani.
One night Gauranga saw Krishna in the rasa dance. Dressed in beautiful yellow garments and adorned with a garland of forest flowers, Krishna played His flute and danced with Radhika in a mind-captivating way. And the gopis, their hands joined together, danced around the couple. Seeing this, Gauranga Mahaprabhu was overcome with ecstasy.
In this way the Lord spent His time, sometimes in external consciousness—when He could talk to people and relate to them—and at other times completely absorbed in His own ecstasy—when He wasn’t aware of the world around Him and did not even know if it was day or night. At other times He was in marginal consciousness, somewhere in between the two. Govinda, Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya were His constant companions . Especially at night, Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya would enhance His mood of devotion by singing songs about Krishna.
One day, while going toward the sea for His noontime bath, Mahaprabhu saw a big sand dune. Mistaking it to be Govardhana Hill, He ran toward it in ecstasy, reciting a verse the gopis had sung in glorification of Govardhana: “Of all the devotees this Govardhana Hill is the best! O My friends, this hill suppplies Krishna and Balarama, Their calves, cows and cowherd friends with all kinds of necessities—drinking water, soft grass, caves, fruits, flowers and vegetables. In this way the hill offers respect to the Lord. Being touched by the lotus feet of Krishna and Balarama, Govardhana Hill appears very jubilant.”
His voice choked up, tears incessantly running down His cheeks, Gauranga Mahaprabhu ran as swiftly as the wind, and the devotees ran after Him. Blood came from His pores like sweat, and His body turned white. Trembling like the ocean waves, the Lord crashed to the ground, unconscious. The devotees were devastated.
Govinda sprinkled Mahaprabhu’s body with water from His water pot, while Svarupa Damodara and the other devotees chanted the name of Krishna in His ears. Eventually Mahaprabhu jumped up, chanting “Hari! Hari!” and the devotees were delighted to see Him return to external consciousness. But Gauranga Mahaprabhu, still only half conscious, said to Svarupa Damodara: “Why have you brought Me back here? I was seeing the lila of Krishna and Radharani and the gopis on Govardhana Hill. Why have you taken Me away from there?” He wept bitterly in separation from Krishna.
One night, Gauranga Mahaprabhu saw the moonlight glittering on the sea. Mistaking the sea for the Yamuna, He ran and jumped in. Lost in ecstasy, He floated several kilometers north to Konarka. When the devotees found out that Lord Gauranga was no longer with them, they walked up and down the beach all night, looking for Him. Unable to find Him, they began to fear that Mahaprabhu had left the world.
Early in the morning they reached the area of Konarka, where they met a frightened-looking fisherman who was chanting the name of Nrsimhadeva. Sensing that the fisherman might have some clue about Mahaprabhu’s whereabouts, Svarupa Damodara asked him why he was looking so afraid.
“Last night I caught a very strange ghost in my net” the fisherman replied. “Its limbs were separated from its body. When I go fishing at night I always chant the name of Nrsimhadeva to protect me from ghosts, but the ghost I caught in my net was a very strange ghost, because the more I chanted the name of Nrsimhadeva, the more present this ghost seemed to be.”
“Don’t worry,” Svarupa Damodara said, “I know how to get rid of ghosts.” He gave the fisherman some slaps and said some mantras. When the fisherman came to his senses Svarupa Damodara told him: “That was not a ghost you caught, that was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Shri Krishna Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Please show us where He is.”
The fisherman led the devotees to the place where he had spread his nets, and there they found Mahaprabhu’, covered with sand and completely unconscious. Removing His wet loincloth, the devotees cleaned and dried His body, put Him on a sheet and chanted Hare Krishna in His ears for a long time. All of a sudden the Lord leapt up with a great roar and all His limbs went back into place.
Still unaware of what was going on around Him, Mahaprabhu said, “I saw Lord Shri Krishna sporting with Radha and the gopis in the water of the Yamuna. My heart was filled with ecstasy at this pleasant sight, but then you caught Me and brought Me here. Where is the Yamuna? Where is Vrndavana? Where is Krishna? Where are Radha and the gopis?” Gently, Svarupa Damodara led Mahaprabhu back to His residence in Puri and made Him take rest. All the devotees were very afraid, because there was no guessing what Lord Gauranga would do in His ecstasy.
One day, Mahaprabhu received an enigmatic message from Advaita Acarya: “Inform the madman that everyone has become mad like him. Rice is no longer in demand in the marketplace.” Only Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Svarupa Damodara could understand its meaning—that very soon Lord Gauranga’s pastimes in this world would come to an end.
Svarupa Damodara became very grave, and Lord Gauranga’s ecstasies doubled and tripled at every second. Overwhelmed with the madness of separation from Krishna, Mahaprabhu could hardly live. At night He would clasp the neck of Ramananda Raya and Svarupa Damodara, and in the mood of Radharani He would say, “Alas, alas My dear friend, Shri Krishna has left for Mathura, plunging Me into the ocean of grief, how can I live without Him? Where shall I go to find My beloved Shri Krishna?”
In this way Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s ecstasy of love for Krishna increased unlimitedly. Then, suddenly, He departed from this world at the temple of Tota Gopinatha, near the beach at Puri. The devoteees were performing sankirtana when Mahaprabhu, maddened by ecstasy, rushed into the temple and merged into the Deity of Lord Gopinatha.
The devotees were shocked; they felt they had no more reason to live. Unable to bear Mahaprabhu’s separation, most of them simply departed from the world. But the six goswamis of Vrndavana remained behind to continue Mahaprabhu’s work of establishing Krishna consciousness in this world.
Lord Gauranga predicted that His movement would spread to every town and village in this world, and His prediction was fulfilled by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who went to America in 1965 for this sole purpose. Through his “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” (ISKCON), Shrila Prabhupada spread the teachings of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and the chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare all over the world. To this day, thanks to Shrila Prabhupada, the movement started by Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu is continuing to benedict humanity by freely giving everyone the means to perfect himself within one lifetime.