Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Tirtha-yatra, Part 44


Devotees bathe in Tungabhadra near Hampi

Mar 12, CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of the holy sites visited by Lord Caitanya.


Today we are following the path of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's tirth-yatra through South India, to a place that is little mentioned in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. Dhundirama-tirtha is not included in the Madhya Lila 9 Summary list of places Lord Caitanya visited. We do find mention of it at Madhya 9.14:

    Madhya 9.14

    ei sloka pathe padi' karila prayana
    gautami-gangaya yai' kaila ganga-snana

    "While walking on the road, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to chant this Rama Raghava mantra. Chanting in this way, He arrived at the banks of the Gautami-ganga and took His bath there.

    The Gautami-ganga is a branch of the river Godavari. Formerly a great sage named Gautama Rsi used to live on the bank of this river opposite the city of Rajamahendri, and consequently this branch was called the Gautami-ganga. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that Srila Kaviraja Gosvami has recorded the names of the holy places visited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu but that there is no chronological order of the places visited. However, there is a notebook of Govinda dasa's containing a chronological order and references to geographical positions. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura requests the readers to refer to that book. According to Govinda dasa, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Trimanda from the Gautami-ganga. From there He went to Dhundirama-tirtha, another place of pilgrimage. According to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, after visiting the Gautami-ganga, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Mallikarjuna-tirtha."

We began our search for Dhundirama-tirtha assuming it was an ancient place name, but found no mention of it. We did, however, find several references which, taken together, corroborate the fact that Dhundirama-tirtha is the place name used to refer to the spot where Caitanya Mahaprabhu defeated a well known scholar, just after his famous defeat of the Buddhists. The name of this defeated scholar was Dhundi Rama Tirtha.

In a manuscript entitled History of Bengali Language and Literature, part of a lecture series delivered at the University of Calcutta by Rai Sahib Dinesh Candra Sen (c. 1911), we read the following narrative about Lord Caitanya's South India preaching tour:

    "In April [ ] 1510, he started again with his one follower Govinda for southern India. He came to the Godavari and met Rama Ray; thence he proceeded to Trimanda (modern Trimalgada in Hydrabad) and converted Dhundi Rama Tirtha to his faith; from Trimanda he came to Sidhavatesvara (modern Sidhavatesvaram; between Cadappa and the river Punna) where a rich young man named Tirtharam came to tempt him in a vulgar manner, and himself became a convert to his faith."

In his purport to Madhya Lila 9.14, Srila Prabhupada states, "According to Govinda dasa, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Trimanda from the Gautami-ganga. From there He went to Dhundirama-tirtha, another place of pilgrimage." Dinesh Candra Sen's statement above appears to indicate that Trimanda is the same place where Dhundi Rama Tirtha was converted. But in another passage from Dinesh Candra Sen, we find that his statements agree with Srila Prabhupada's purport. In a lecture from the same series entitled Chaitanya and His Companions (c. 1913), Dinesh Candra Sen made this statement:

    "Leaving Puri he came to Alalanatha, and met Ramananda Raya, the Prime Minister of Raja Pratapa Rudra, on the banks of the Godavari. From the latter place in Southern India, Chaitanya came to Trimanda, where he had a public discussion with the Buddhist monks, the Raja of Trimanda serving as the mediator. Ramagiri, the leader of the monks, acknowledged his defeat and conversion of the Trimanda leader, and a large number of the Buddhists became converts to Vaisnavism.

    The next place he visited was Tungabhadra, where Dhundi Rama Tirtha, a proud scholar of extensive learning, came to hold a discussion with Chaitanya. Chaitanya said he would not indulge in controversy of any sort. But the [?] of his ecstasies charmed Dhundi and humiliated his pride, and he became a staunch admirer of Chaitanya. After his conversion, Dhundi Rama took the Vaisnava name of Haridasa."

In the first lecture quoted above, Dinesh Candra Sen states that Trimanda (Trimalgada) is in Hydrabad. Hydrabad, now known as Hyderabad, is in Andhra Pradesh. Assuming Dinesh Candra Sen is correct that the place Dhundi Rama Tirtha was converted is at Tungabhadra, it's interesting to note the great distance between Trimanda and Dhundirama-tirtha.

Dhundirama-tirtha at Tungabhadra, Karnataka

Tungabhadra is a village on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, in central Karnataka. The Tungabhadra runs through Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, flowing into the Bay of Bengal. At the area known as Tungabhadra there is a very large dam in the river, known as the Tungabhadra Dam. This spot is approximately 450 km southwest of Trimanda, Hydrabad a significant walking distance away.

Although no other mention of Dhundirama-tirtha is found in Caitanya-caritamrta, we do find further reference to the Tungabhadra River. In his purport to Madhya 9.244, Srila Prabhupada is describing the location of Sankaracarya's various tirthas, one of which is at the spot where Lord Caitanya took His bath near the confluence of the Tunga and Bhadra Rivers, which combine to form the Tungabhadra.

    Madhya 9.244

    sringeri-mathe aila sankaracarya-sthane
    matsya-tirtha dekhi' kaila tungabhadraya snane

    "Then He saw the monastery known as Sringeri-matha, the abode of Acarya Sankara. He then visited Matsya-tirtha, a place of pilgrimage, and took a bath in the river Tungabhadra.

    The monastery known as Sringeri-matha is situated in the state of Karnataka, in the district of Chikmagalur. This monastery is located at the confluence of the rivers Tunga and Bhadra, seven miles south of Harihara-pura. The real name of this place is Sringa-giri or Sringavera-puri, and it is the headquarters of Sankaracarya.

    Sankaracarya had four principal disciples, and he established four centers under their management. In North India at Badarikasrama, the monastery named Jyotir-matha was established. At Purushottama, the Bhogavardhana or Govardhana monastery was established. In Dvaraka, the Sarada monastery was established. And the fourth monastery, established in South India, is known as Sringeri-matha. In the Sringeri-matha, the sannyasis assume the designations Sarasvati, Bharati and Puri. They are all ekadandi-sannyasis, distinguished from the Vaishnava sannyasis, who are known as tridandi-sannyasis. The Sringeri-matha is situated in South India in a portion of the country known as Andhra, Dravida, Karnata and Kerala. The community is called Bhurivara, and the dynasty is called Bhur-bhuvah. The place is called Ramesvara, and the slogan is aham brahmasmi. The Deity is Lord Varaha, and the energetic power is Kamakshi. The acarya is Hastamalaka, and the brahmacari assistants of the sannyasis are known as Caitanya. The place of pilgrimage is called Tungabhadra, and the subject for Vedic study is the Yajur Veda."

Later, in his purport to Madhya 9.316, Srila Prabhupada notes that the Tungabhadra River was once known as the Pamba.

The Tungabhadra River


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