Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Tirtha-yatra, Part 20


South Kanara, Cochin

May 25, 2013 — 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)

Caitanya-caritamrta - Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


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