Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Tirtha-yatra - Part 20


South Kanara, Cochin

Feb 15, CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of the holy sites visited by Lord Caitanya.


In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Lila, the summary of Lord Caitanya's travels includes a number of stops in the region of Karnataka and Kerala:

    Madhya Lila 9 Summary

    "The Lord next visited the places known as Pandya-desa, Tamraparni, Naya-tripadi, Ciyadatala, Tila-kanci, Gajendra-moksana, Panagadi, Camtapura, Sri Vaikuntha, Malaya-parvata and Kanya-kumari. The Lord then met the Bhattatharis at Mallara-desa and saved Kala Krsnadasa from their clutches."

Later in Madhya Lila we find a detailed story of the Lord's pastimes at Mallara-desa, well known to the devotees as the story of the fall of Kala Krsnadasa.

    Madhya 9.224

    amlitalaya dekhi' sri-rama gaurahari
    mallara-desete aila yatha bhattathari

    "After visiting Kanya-kumari, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to Amlitala, where He saw the Deity of Sri Ramacandra. Thereafter He went to a place known as Mallara-desa, where a community of Bhattatharis lived.

    North of Mallara-desa is South Kanara. To the east are Coorg and Mysore, to the south is Cochin, and to the west is the Arabian Sea. As far as the Bhattatharis are concerned, they are a nomadic community. They camp wherever they like and have no fixed place of residence. Outwardly they take up the dress of sannyasis, but their real business is stealing and cheating. They allure others to supply women for their camp, and they cheat many women and keep them within their community. In this way they increase their population. In Bengal also there is a similar community. Actually, all over the world there are nomadic communities whose business is simply to allure, cheat and steal innocent women."

In his purport above, although Srila Prabhupada states that the Bhattatharis are nomadic and camp wherever they like, he does give quite specific parameters for the location of Mallara-desa. Viewed on modern maps, the location of South Kanara is identified as being 5 kilometers north of Kochi (Cochin), and 1 kilometer inland from the Arabian Sea. Mysore, on the other hand, is a considerable distance northeast from there.

South Kanara (Canara) was a district under the British Empire. In 1859, it was bifurcated from the Canara district, and was the undivided Dakshina Kannada district, renamed as such in 1947. The region of South Kanara wherein Mallara-desa was located, therefore, can be understood to span a large area around north-central Kerala and southern Karnataka. This seems to agree with a reference found in Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 10.145, which puts the Bhattatharis' attack on Kala Krsnadasa as happening in Malabar. The general region of the Kerala/Karnataka border was referred to as Malabar at that time, being a broad area that ran from the Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea.

Lord Caitanya's Mercy

    Adi 10.145

    krishnadasa nama suddha kulina brahmana
    yare sange laiya kaila dakshina gamana

    "The twenty-second devotee, Krishnadasa, was born of a pure and respectable brahmana family. While touring southern India, Lord Caitanya took Krishnadasa with Him.

    Krishnadasa is described in the Madhya-lila, chapters Seven and Nine. He went with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to carry His waterpot. In the Malabar state, members of the Bhattathari cult tried to captivate Krishnadasa by supplying a woman to seduce him, but although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saved him from being harmed, when they returned to Jagannatha Puri He ordered that Krishnadasa remain separate from Him, for the Lord was never favorably disposed toward an associate who was attracted by a woman. Thus Krishnadasa lost the personal association of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu."

In Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Lila 1, Srila Prabhupada again states that the Bhattatharis were from the Malabar district:

    Madhya 1.112

    tabe bhattathari haite krishna-dasera uddhara
    rama-japi vipra-mukhe krishna-nama pracara

    "After this, Krishnadasa, the servant of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, was delivered from the clutches of a Bhattathari. Caitanya Mahaprabhu then preached that Lord Krishna's name should also be chanted by brahmanas who were accustomed to chanting Lord Rama's name.

    In the Malabar district, a section of the brahmanas are known as Nambudari brahmanas, and the Bhattatharis are their priests. Bhattatharis know many tantric black arts, such as the art of killing a person, of bringing him under submission, and of destroying or devastating him. They are very expert in these black arts, and one such Bhattathari bewildered the personal servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu while the servant accompanied the Lord in His travels through South India. Somehow or other Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu delivered this Krishnadasa from the clutches of the Bhattathari. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is well known as Patita-pavana, the savior of all fallen souls, and He proved this in His behavior toward His personal servant, Krishnadasa, whom He saved. Sometimes the word Bhattathari is misspelled in Bengal as Bhattamari."

Coastline at Cochin

In Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Lila 9.226-233, Lord Caitanya's pastime with Krishnadasa and the Bhattatharis is further narrated:

    Madhya Lila 9.226-233

    "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was accompanied by His servant, Krishnadasa. He was a brahmana, but he met with the Bhattatharis there. (226)

    With women the Bhattatharis allured the brahmana Krishnadasa, who was simple and gentle. By virtue of their bad association, they polluted his intelligence. (227)

    Allured by the Bhattatharis, Krishnadasa went to their place early in the morning. The Lord also went there very quickly just to find him. (228)

    Upon reaching their community, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked the Bhattatharis, "Why are you keeping My brahmana assistant? (229)

    "I am in the renounced order of life, and so are you. Yet you are purposefully giving Me pain, and I do not see any good logic in this." (230)

    Upon hearing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, all the Bhattatharis came running from all sides with weapons in their hands, desiring to hurt the Lord. (231)

    However, their weapons fell from their hands and struck their own bodies. When some of the Bhattatharis were thus cut to pieces, the others ran away in the four directions. (232)

    While there was much roaring and crying at the Bhattathari community, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu grabbed Krishnadasa by the hair and took him away." (233)

On his website, H.H. B.G. Narasingha Swami provides an excellent summary of the pastime of Kala Krsnadasa. This commentary addresses what Narasingha Maharaja sees as a philosophical misconception in the paper Our Original Position, presenting the official ISKCON GBC position on the jiva fall issue. We take the liberty of presenting H.H. B.G. Narasingha Maharaja's comments below:

Misconception: Fall of Kala Krsnadasa

by H.H. B.G. Narasingha Swami

"In Our Original Position, the deviation of Kala Krsnadasa is stated in chapter twelve as factual and inescapable evidence that the jiva soul falls down from the eternal lila of the Supreme Lord.


Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rejected Kala Krsnadasa from His personal service due to Kala Krsnadasa having been allured by gypsies in the region of Mallara-desa (the area around northern Kerala and southern Karnataka). Kala Krsnadasa was a simple and gentle brahmana yet his intelligence became polluted in the association of the gypsies and he became attracted to women. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu being the ideal sannyasi cannot keep the company of persons who are attracted by women and thus when He returned to Jaganatha Puri He lodged a complaint about the character of Kala Krsnadasa before Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and rejected him.

The first lesson that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is teaching us in this incident is that as long as one is in this material world one should never deviate from the strict principles of pure devotional service. Maya is very strong and the only safety for a devotee in this world is to constantly stick to the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Kala Krsnadasa was a brahmin who was being given the chance to associate personally with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. We do not find mention anywhere such as in the Gaur-ganodesh-dipika by Kavi Karnapur, that Kala Krsnadasa was an eternal associate of the Lord who had descended from Krsnaloka to assist the Lord in His pastimes. Thus it can be understood that Kala Krsnadasa was not an eternally liberated soul who fell down from the Lords association but rather he was a candidate from this material world and thus he was still susceptible to maya's influence. Had he been an eternal associate of the Lord his "fall down" could only have taken place due to yogamaya not mahamaya.

Even if one has the personal association of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, or has become a liberated soul, as long as one still has a material body and is in this material world one should not consider oneself liberated and thus independent of the regulative principles of devotional service. Otherwise one will be captured by maya. This is the first lesson.

However, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu went immediately to the camp of the gypsies to reclaim His servant, Kala Krsnadasa. When this happened the gypsies tried to hurt Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with various weapons. But the weapons which the gypsies tried to use against the Lord turned against them and began to cut them to pieces. Their arms, legs and heads were severed from their bodies. There were loud cries of pain and agony amidst which Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu grabbed His servant, Kala Krsnadasa, by the hair and saved him.

The second lesson which is to be learned in this incident is that once having taken shelter of the Lords lotus feet the Lord always protects his devotees. Even if there is some accidental fall down on the part of a sincere devotee the Lord rectifies that immediately.

api cet su-duracaro, bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah, samyag vyavasito hi sah
ksipram bhavati dharmatma, sasvac-chantim nigacchati
kaunteya pratijanihi, na me bhaktah pranasyati

    "Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes."

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu went there immediately to save Kala Krsnadasa from maya. In effect Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not allow Kala Krsnadasa to give up His association even though he had been bewildered by maya. After that it was almost one year before the Lord and Kala Krsnadasa returned to Jaganatha Puri. During that time Kala Krsnadasa continued to serve Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu both day and night. After returning to Puri, then the Lord rejected Kala Krsnadasa from His personal association. The Lord did this in keeping with His high standards as a sannyasi.

The third lesson to learn in this incident is that the Lord's devotees are even more merciful than the Lord Himself. When Kala Krsnadasa was rejected by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu he thus received the mercy of four devotees namely; Nityananda Prabhu, Jagadananda Pandit, Mukunda, and Damodara.

The devotees of the Lord are more merciful than the Lord Himself. Sometimes the Lord is very hard or strict whereas the devotees are more inclined to show mercy. It is said,

vajrad api kathorani, mrduni kusumad api
lokottaranam cetamsi, ko nu vijnatum isvarah

    "The hearts of those above common behavior are sometimes harder than a thunder bolt and sometimes softer than a flower. How can one accommodate such contradictions in great personalities?"

In many incidents Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showed His "harder than a thunderbolt" heart in sometimes neglecting His devotees like Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya when he fainted on the road or in preparing to punish the rascals like Jagai and Madhai for their offence. However, in many of these cases Sri Nityananda Prabhu was there to show Supreme Mercy. Thus was the case with Kala Krsnadasa who not only got the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu but of many other eternal associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also.

At that time Nityananda Prabhu, Jagadananda Pandit, Mukunda, and Damodara devised a plan and after taking Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's permission Kala Krsnadasa was sent to Bengal to inform all the devotees that the Lord had returned from South India. First Kala Krsnadasa went to the home of Mother Saci and then to the house of Sri Adwaita Acharya. Kala Krsnadasa informed all the devotees about the Lord's return from South India as well as in great detail all about the Lord's travels. Kala Krsnadasa brought great pleasure to all the Vaishnavas and a great festival was held at Sri Adwaita's house.

In this way by the mercy of the devotees Kala Krsnadasa continued to engage in the service of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It should be remembered also that due to the continued services of Kala Krsnadasa the narrations about the Lords tour of South India were available for recording in the Sri Chaitanya-caritamrta. Even the narration of how the Lord delivered Kala Krsnadasa from the gypsies. Those narrations continue to enliven the devotees even up to the present day. Thus the service of Kala Krsnadasa continues. I have mentioned three beneficial lessons for all devotees of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to follow in regard to the Lord rejecting Kala Krsnadasa. However, the idea that the incident of Kala Krsnadasa supports the Iskcon misconception that the jiva falls from Vaikuntha or Goloka Vrindavana is not acceptable.

We should not think that the Lord has a hatred toward His devotee. On the contrary even if there is some defect in the devotee the Lord does not take that into consideration. All that exists between the Lord and His pure devotees are mutual feelings of love. It is not possible for the pure devotee to envy the Lord nor is it possible for Krsna to reject His pure devotee. Whenever such dealings do appear to take place it should be understood to be the workings of yogamaya not mahamaya.

Nothing is more dear to a devotee than Krsna and nothing is more dear to Krsna than His devotee (na me bhakta priya janah). What more can we say than this."


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