The Glories of Raghava's Bag, Part 16


Jan 31, 2013 — CANADA (SUN) — A journey through the nectarian contents of Raghava's Bag.


Today we conclude our serial exploration of the contents of Raghava's Bag. In these closing passages, we find a detailed description of Raghava's Bag. What began as a singular description of raghavera-jhali, Lord Caitanya's paraphernalia known as 'Raghava's Bag', is here described in more exact detail. Raghavera-jhali is, in fact, a collection of bags, earthen pots, and bags within bags.

    Antya 10.35-41

    ganga-mrttika ani' vastrete chaniya
    panpadi kariya dila gandha-dravya diya

    patala mrt-patre sandhanadi bhari'
    ara saba vastu bhare vastrera kuthali

    samanya jhali haite dviguna jhali kaila
    paripati kari' saba jhali bharaila

    jhali bandhi' mohara dila agraha kariya
    tina bojhari jhali vahe krama kariya

    sanksepe kahilun ei jhalira vicara
    'raghavera jhali' bali' vikhyati yahara

    jhalira upara 'munsiba' makaradhvaja-kara
    prana-rupe jhali rakhe hana tatpara

    ei-mate vaisnava saba nilacale aila
    daive jagannathera se dina jala-lila


    "Damayanti took earth from the Ganges, dried it, powdered it, strained it through a fine cloth, mixed in aromatic ingredients and rolled it into small balls.

    The condiments and similar items were put into thin earthen pots, and everything else was put into small cloth bags.

    From small bags Damayanti made bags that were twice as large. Then with great attention she filled all the large ones with the small ones.

    She then wrapped and sealed each and every bag with great attention. The bags were carried by three bearers, one after another.

    Thus I have briefly described the bags that have become famous as raghavera jhali.

    The superintendent for all those bags was Makaradhvaja Kara, who kept them with great attention like his very life.

    Thus all the Vaisnavas from Bengal went to Jagannatha Puri. By chance, they arrived on the day when Lord Jagannatha performs pastimes in the water."

In verse 10.35, we read that Damayanti made a preparation out of earth from the Ganga - ganga-mrttika. Generally, this term refers to a whitish clay found along the banks of Ganga. Mrttika refers to the clay, or earth. The same stuff from another river (not the Ganga), might be called nadi-mrttika, nadi meaning 'river'.

There is also a worshipable form of Mrttika. In West Bengal and elsewhere on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, which falls the beginning of September during the New Moon, clay images of Ganash are made and worshipped, then thrown into the water. These earthen images of Ganesh are one of three forms in which the earth deity Mrttika is said to be embodied and is therefore worshipped.

Over three days, three different earthen forms are made and worshipped: first is a naga on Naga-panchami, then baby Krsna on Gokulastami, and then Ganesh. It is the third day that Mrttika is worshipped.

In verse 10.35, Srila Krsnadas Kaviraj does not mention whether or not this earthen preparation is meant to be eaten, but it may be. Given the due care and attention Damayanti gives to preparing it -- drying, powdering, straining, then blending the earth with aromatics -- the small balls may well have been prepared for the Lord to eat.

It is also possible, however, that they were not edible, and were simply prepared and placed into the bags in order to give the vessels a fresh scent, or even to act as a deterrent to pests. For example, if an aromatic like camphor was added to these ganga-mrttika balls, they would become something like what we know today as 'mothballs'.

Whatever the purpose, it is certain that all the items found in Raghava's Bag -- in all the many bags, pots and containers that comprised raghavera-jhali -- were glorious beyond measure.


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