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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Other Scriptures by Acharyas > Navadvipa Krishna Chaitanya Holy Land > Bengal Holy Places > Katwa



Katwa, also known as Kantaka Nagari, is situated in the Vardaman district. When Lord Chaitanya was 24 years old, He left His wife Vishnupriya devi and His mother Shrimati Sacidevi. From Nidaya Ghat, He crossed the Ganges and travelled the 32 miles here to Katwa and accepted the sannyasa ashram from Shri Keshava Bharati. At the place where Mahaprabhu took sannyasa are a wonderful temple of Mahaprabhu, the place where Mahaprabhu got His head shaved, the samadhi of His hair, the samadhi and residence place of Shri Gada-dhara das, and the place of Shri Keshava Bharati. In addition, the samadhi of the barber named Madhu, who shaved the Lord's head is also there. Madhu was afterwards so distraught that he had cut Lord Chaitanya's beautiful hair that he vowed never to shave another head. He subsequently became a sweet maker. Our spiritual master, Shrila Bhaktiprjanana Keshava Maharaj, also accepted the sannyasa ashram at this place.


The original founder of our Brahma sampradaya, Shri Madhvacarya, took sannyasa at the age of twelve. He was born in the town of Udipi in South India, and he received brahmana initiation at the age of five. He had actually wished to take sannyasa a few years after that, but because he was their only child and was so young, his mother and father would not give him permission. Unable to tolerate the thought of his separation, they were determined to keep him with them until he married and had chidlren. But Vasudev (which was Madhvacarya's name at birth) was not interested. Knowing what he had much to accomplish for the Lord in his life, he was eager to begin. Finally, somehow or another, he convinced his parents to allow him to enter the sannyasa ashram when they had another son. Thus, when his mother gave birth to a healthy son when he was 12, Madhvacarya immediately took sannyasa from Achyuta Preksa.Ballavacarya also had a difficult time accepting sannyasa. He took sannyasa at the ripe old age of 96. He had also wished to take sannyasa many decades earlier, but his wife would not give him permission to leave home. She argued that according to the scrip­tures, it is the wife's foremost duty to faithfully serve the husband in all respects. Reasoning further, she concluded that if a wife is without a husband she cannot do her service. When Ballavacarya said that now it was time for him to enter forest life, she would reply, "If Mother Sita could accompany Lord Rama to the forest, then I can also accompany you."


In this way she checked Ballavacarya. Finally realizing that his span of life was soon to end, Ballavacarya devised a plan to escape the loving but tenacious clutches of his wife. One evening, when his wife went to the well to fetch water, he set fire to their house and then went into his bed and feigned sleep. His wife, upon seeing all the smoke, rushed back to their house and frantically called for her husband. But he did not answer. Looking in the window through the burning flames she called her husband again and again. Finally in desperation she ordered him to leave his home at once. Hearing this order, Ballavacarya immediately left his house and wife, saying, "Now you have at last given me permission to leave home. I shall accept sann­yasa immediately." Thus leaving his wife and home behind him, he immediately departed. Seeing a sannyasi by the Ganges, he approached the renun-ciate and requested to become immediately initiated into the sann­yasa ashram. As soon as he received the sannyasa mantra, he left his body and went directly to Goloka Vrindavan.


Lord Shiva's incarnation, Sankaracarya, who incarnated following the order of Lord Vishnu, took sannyasa initiation at the age of eight. But to do so, he also had to devise an ingenious plan. Sankaracarya was actually Lord Shiva. He incarnated specifically to implement the direct order of Lord Krishna to present some imaginary impersonal intepretation of the Vedas for the purpose of diverting the population from the goal of Vedanta:


svagmaih kalpitaistvam cajanan

mad vimukhan kuru am ca gopaya


"Compile some imaginary speculative scriptures that will turn people away from Me and hide My personality." (Padma Purana, Uttar Khanda, Chapter 71, Verse 107)


Knowing that he would leave this world at the age of 33, Sankaracarya was impatient to leave his home, which was in the village of Kaladi in South India. His father, whose name was Shivaguru, had passed away while he was still an infant. So his mother was so affectionate to him that she would not leave him even for a moment. Seeing that his mother was so attached to him and realizing that she would never consent to his taking sannyasa in this life, he decided to execute a plan so he could begin Lord Krishna's work.Every day his mother would accompany him at noon to the Narmada River where he would take bath. On this day he swam playfully out to the center of the river and then suddenly began waving his arms frantically in despiration callout out, "Crocodile! Crocodile! A crocodile has taken hold of me! Help! Help!" His mother looked around for someone to help her son but no one came forward. Sankaracarya cried out, "Save me! Save me!" But his mother said," I want to save you, son, but I am helpless!"

Sankaracarya then requested his mother to let him take sannyasa before he perished so that his human life would not have been wasted. His mother still hesitated, for she greatly feared that her son would leave her. Sankaracarya called out again, "Please mother! Save me by allowing me to take sannyasa!" At last she consented saying, "Yes, my son, you may take sannyasa."


Sankaracarya immediately came out of the water. He offered his dandavats to his mother's feet and thanked her for saving him from the fierce crocodiles of material desires in the ocean of birth and death by allowing him to take sannyasa. Then without further ado, Sankaracarya immediately approached a respected sannyasi named Govinda and accepted the sannyasa ashram.


Lord Chaitanya Himself had difficulty securing permission due to His mother's strong maternal affection. Factually speaking, one does not need permission from one's wife to accept the order of sannyasa, and this is confirmed by Mahaprabhu Himself who left His beautiful wife Vishnupriya devi sleeping without revealing anything to Her. But if one's mother is alive, one must receive permission from her.When Gauranga arose just before the brahma muhurta hour, He took bath and put on clean, fresh cloth. He then sat on kusa grass and chanted His gayatri mantra. Afterwards He watered Tulasi devi. Then taking nothing with Him other than His deep devotion for Krishna, He prepared to leave His home forever. As He was about to depart, He saw His mother, Sacimata, silently guarding the door with tears streaming down her face. Mother Saci knew, as only a loving mother could know, her son's innermost desire.Nimai immediately fell at His mother's feet and begged her to grant Him permission to take sannyasa. Sacimata, the mother of the whole universe, felt at that time like her heart was going to break in two. Unable to speak due to the Lord's yogamaya potency, she began to shake her head, "No." At that time, Visvambhara, as Paramatma, directly asked her, and she heard herself from inside giving permis­sion.


Mahaprabhu circummabulated her three times and bowed down to her most reverently. He then left His mother, wife and home without looking back. He swam across the Ganges, walked the 36 kilometers to Katwa and took sannyasa initiation from Shripad Keshava Bharati Maharaj at the tender age of 24.Keshava Bharati, seeing the glorious and beautifully effulgent and golden transcendental form of the Supreme Lord, at first did not want to initiate Him into the sannyasa ashram. He felt that the Lord was too young and too beautiful to accept sannyasa. So he told the Lord he would meditate upon His request, and he would give his answer the following day. When Mahaprabhu came back the next day, He told Keshava Bharati that He dreamed the night before that He had received one mantra. Whispering that mantra into Keshava Bharati's ear Mahaprabhu asked whether or not it was the sannyasa mantra. Keshava Bharati was astounded and said, "Yes, this is the sannyasa mantra." He whispered it back into Lord Chaitanya's ear, and thus duly initiating Him into the sannyasa order. He then gave Him the transcendental name, Shri Krishna Chaitanya. Hare Krishna!