|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Other Scriptures by Acharyas > Navadvipa Krishna Chaitanya Holy Land > Parikrama Places > Shridhara Angan|
Here, at the boundary of Shridham Mayapur in the north-eastern corner of Antardwip, situated on the south-eastern side of the samad-hi of Chand Kazi, is Shridhar Angan. Here amidst a forest of banana trees, a most dear devotee of Gaura-Nitai, who possessed no wealth, lived in a broken down hut. His name was Shridhar. One could always hear him chanting the names of Krishna loudly all night long. In Krishna lila he was Kusmasav Gopal sakha.
Lord Chaitanya used to meet him each day at the bank of the Ganges. On the footpath Shridhar used to sell mooch and kola, banana flowers and banana stalks, along with ripe and unripe banana fruits, pumpkins, gourds and banana roots. The Lord loved banana flowers, and when living in Navadwip, He ate them whenever they were in season.
Every day He would approach Shridhar after taking bath in the Ganges, and, whenever He would see a ripe banana flower with tender stalks, He would immediately take them after offering half the price that Shridhar quoted. Shridhar would say, "O brahmana, you want to destroy my bhajan. I am a very poor man."
Mahaprabhu would then say, "You are a renounced person. I want to possess your wealth." Shridhar in exasperation would answer, "What wealth? I have nothing." But Mahaprabhu would reply, "You are very cunning and clever. You make a good profit from selling your goods." Shridhar would say, "O brahmana, if you do not find my prices reasonable then please purchase your banana flowers from someone else." The Lord would counter by saying, "I do not wish to abandon a steady supplier who has such excellent banana flowers." Shridhar would retort, "Then do not abandon me, but pay me for my goods!"Mahaprabhu would not pay any money, but He would begin walking away with the banana flowers. Shridhar would then snatch them back. A sweet love quarrel would then ensue each day between old Shridhar and young Nimai. Shridhar would become angry, saying, "Nimai Pandit, I am just an old brahmana who uses my small profit to worship Ganga devi." Whatever money Shridhar made in a day, he would take half and use it to buy flowers for offerings to Mother Ganga. He would use the other half to maintain his simple standard of living. Shri Rupa and Shri Sanatana also followed this procedure when they entered into Mahaprabhu's service. They gave half of their great wealth to the devotees of the Lord, used one-fourth for the maintenance of their family members, and saved one-fourth for emergencies. Mahaprabhu would reply to Shridhar, "But I am the origin of the Ganges! If you render service to Me, Mother Ganges will become very happy!" When Shridhar heard this, he was shocked! He covered his ears and again and again repeated "Vishnu! Vishnu! Vishnu! Vishnu!" The Lord said, "You do not believe Me now, but one day you will!" Finally one day Shridhar said, "All right! Have Your way. I will give You a little moocha and kola every day free of cost."
The Lord was pleased and replied, "A little moocha and kola from you gives Me full satisfaction." The Lord loves to receive offerings from His devotees; even if the offerings are small or simple. But the Lord will never accept anything from a non-devotee even if the offering is rich and opulent.
When Lord Chaitanya was manifesting His Sat Praharia Bhava or twenty-one hour long ecstatic devotional mellows at the house of Shrivas Pandit, the Lord ordered His associates to bring Shridhar to Him. He then awarded Shridhar Krishna prema. At that time Saras-wati, the goddess of learning, appeared on Shridhar's tongue and Shridhar glorified the Lord with excellent prayers. He became overwhelmed with emotions and fell down unconscious.
After defeating Chand Kazi, Lord Chaitanya came to Shridhar's house with a huge sankirtan party. He then drank some water from Shridhar's broken iron pot and felt satisfied. On the evening before the Lord left His home to take sannyasa, Shridhar came and gave Him one pumpkin. The Lord gave it to Sacimata who cooked it with milk and sugar and made delicious khir which the Lord ate for His evening prasada. Now that you know of Lord Chaitanya's immense fondness for moocha, you can, if they are available, prepare banana flowers to include in your offerings to Nitai and Gauranga. First choose a freshly picked banana flower, which is shaped like an unopened tulip and is the size of a small coconut. The color of the banana flower should be reddish purple, but not too dark, or else the flower may be bitter. If you peel the petals off, one by one, you will inside find clusters of delicate stalks around two inches long. Inside each stalk is one hard sliver like a piece of plastic. Hold that from the top and pull it down and remove it. Now place the stalks in water, add a pinch of salt and boil them for 30 minutes. During this time you will notice that the water will turn from clear to dark purple. Then drain the moocha and prepare a chaunce using mustard oil or ghee, ginger paste, hing, cumin paste and a green chili pepper. When you can smell each individual ingredient's fragrant aroma, and all is simmering nicely, stir the banana flowers into the chaunce adding some fresh coriander leaves. After a short time you will have prepared a delicious preparation that will certainly endear you to the Lord.
Lord Chaitanya ate two preparations each day when He lived in Navadwip. One was sak, different varieties of spinach. The other is moocha, banana flowers, which He received each day from His dear devotee Shridhar, and which He brought home to Mother Saci to prepare and offer to Krishna. Let us fall in the dust of Shridhar Angan and consider ourselves immensely fortunate to even hear about these illustrious pastimes of the Lord's eternal associates. Let us pray that we may one day possess the understanding to appreciate them properly. Gaura Premanandi!