References to the Hare Krsna Maha-mantra Predating the Advent of Lord Caitanya
BY: SUN STAFF
Sep 27, 2012 CANADA (SUN) Lord Caitanya's influence on the establishment of Durga Puja in Cuttack, Orissa.
Various accounts exist of the
origination of Durga Puja in the state of Orissa, and all historical
accounts agree that important influences came from many regions outside
of Orissa state. Durga Puja is a festival that is observed for 10 days,
and in two different ways in Orissa. In Shakti peethas (temples of the
goddess) the Durga Puja is observed with proper rituals for 10 to 16
days, known as Shodasa Upachara. Goddess Durga is also worshiped across
the state by devotees who erect beautifully decorated pandals bearing
Durga Ma in her various Deity forms.
According to Markandeya Purana,
the King of Chedi dynasty, Suratha, started rituals of Durga Puja
during 300 B.C. The Chedi dynasty belongs to Kalinga (modern Orissa).
Durga Puja has different names in different Puranas and Sastras. In Devi Purana and the Kalika Purana it is called Vijaya Dashami. In the Devi Mahatmya it is called Mahaparbana, and in Markandeya Purana it's called Duseehera.
The present form of Durga
worship in Orissa is that of earthen idols, which began during the reign
of Ganga King Chodaganga Dev in the 11th century at Puri. The earthen
idol of Mahishamardini Durga is known as Gosani, and the Dussehra
fesival is also called the Gosani Yatra. It is noteworthy that the
co-worship of Mahisamardini Durga with Madhava (Lord Jagannath) was
prevalent from the 11th century, Ganga period in Puri.
More recently, in the period
1512 to 1517, Caitanya Mahaprabhu paid a visit to Cuttack, the capital
of the Gajapati empire of Orissa. The then emperor of Orissa, Gajapati
Pratap Rudra Dev, known as King Prataprudra, received him at Gadagadia
Ghata, situated near the river bank of Mahanadi. Gadagadia Ghata is
very close to the king's Palace, which is popularly known as Barabati
Fort. At that time, it is said that Sri Caitanya Deva started Durga Puja
at the Binod Bihari temple, which is presently known as Balu Bazar. 
In his paper, Life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur described Lord Caitanya's travels to Cuttack:
"He traveled along the side
of the Bhagirathi as far as Chhatrabhog situated now in Thana
Mathurapur Diamond Harbour, 24 Parganas. There He took a boat and went
as far as Prayag Ghat in the Midnapore District. Thence He walked
through Balasore and Cuttack to Puri, seeing the temple of Bhubaneswar
on His way. Upon His arrival at Puri He saw Lord Jagannath in the temple
and put up with Sarvabhauma at the request of the latter."
Gajapati Pratap Rudra Dev was very strongly influenced by Sri Caitanya's uddanda kirtan
during his visit to Puri. King Prataprudra surrendered to Caitanya
Mahaprabhu as his Spiritual Master, and took diksa initiation from him.
From this point onward, Lord Jagannath became more widely known as Sri
Krishna. By the mercy of Mahaprabhu's visit to Puri Dhama, the
traditional observance of Chandana Yatra, Janmastami, and Radhastami,
were popularly celebrated at Sri Mandir from the 16th Century AD onward.
It is also said that when
Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Orissa, an ancestor of Shri Akshya Kumar
Banarjee, who is presently engaged as a priest in the puja performed at
Balu Bazar pandal, was personally in the retinue of Lord Caitanya. 
That ancestor established worship of Binod Bihari and Banka Bihari in
the temple at Balu Bazar, or Binod Bihari temple. He is also credited
with starting Saradiya Puja of Devi Durga, in the form of Ghata Puja.
We find very few instances in Gaudiya Vaisnava literature where references are made to Lord Caitanya and Durga worship. In Bhagavad-gita As It Is,
and throughout Srila Prabhupada's teachings, we are instructed not to
engage in demigod worship, but to simply worship Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.
Durga-puja and Dussehra are not observed in ISKCON temples (or should
not be, according to Srila Prabhupada's standards). Srila
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur once said that ‘Durga Puja is not
dancing for Hindi songs, taking intoxication and having fun’, as we
typically find in puja pandals.  Srila Prabhupada said that such
worship of Durga is done by fools.
In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta,
Adi-lila 17.37-38 we find an interesting passage regarding the mood
around Durga worship amongst Gaudiya Vaisnavas:
"One night while kirtana was going on inside Srivasa Thakura's house, a
brahmana named Gopala Capala, the chief of the nonbelievers, who was
talkative and very rough in his speech, placed all the paraphernalia for
worshiping the goddess Durga outside Srivasa Thakura's door.
This brahmana, Gopala Capala, wanted to defame Srivasa Thakura by
proving that he was actually a sakta, or a worshiper of Bhavani, the
goddess Durga, but was externally posing as a Vaisnava. In Bengal there
is perpetual competition between the devotees of Goddess Kali and the
devotees of Lord Krsna. Generally Bengalis, especially those who are
meat-eaters and drunkards, are very much attached to worshiping the
goddesses Durga, Kali, Sitala and Candi. Such devotees, who are known as
saktas, or worshipers of the sakti-tattva, are always envious of
Vaisnavas. Since Srivasa Thakura was a well-known and respected Vaisnava
in Navadvipa, Gopala Capala wanted to reduce his prestige by bringing
him down to the platform of the saktas. Therefore outside Srivasa
Thakura's door he placed various paraphernalia for worshiping Bhavani,
the wife of Lord Siva, such as a red flower, a plantain leaf, a pot of
wine, and reddish sandalwood paste. In the morning, when Srivasa Thakura
saw all this paraphernalia in front of his door, he called for the
respectable gentlemen of the neighborhood and showed them that at night
he was worshiping Bhavani. Very much sorry, these gentlemen called for a
sweeper to cleanse the place and purify it by sprinkling water and cow
dung there. This incident concerning Gopala Capala is not mentioned in
While Durga worship is not
recommended by our Sampradaya Acaryas, we understand that Durga Ma is
the Lord's devoted servant, and she will serve Him diligently as she
takes charge of the material body of each one of us, at the time of our
death. In Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya lila 9, we read about the many
holy places Mahaprabhu visited during His manifest lila. During His
travels in South India, at Sri Saila-parvata, Sri Caitanya personally
met Lord Siva and his wife Durga, who were in the dress of a brahmana
In another of Lord Caitanya's
pastimes at the home of Candrasekhara Prabhu, in what is now known as
Vrajapattana (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 10.13), all the devotees put
on a drama. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came onstage, but no one recognized
Him. Through the Yogamaya potency, the Lord revealed His female forms - all the saktis, Rukmini, Durga, Laksmi devi, and so many others, one
Considering Durga Ma's
transcendental relationship as the Lord's servitor, we can better
understand Lord Caitanya's pastimes in Cuttack, establishing Durga Puja
at the Balu Bazar.
 Shri Pravat Kumar Tripathy, General Secretary, Cuttack Mahanagar Puja Committee; Cuttack Dussehra
 Life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, sent to McGill University, Toronto 1896
 Balu Bazar, Cuttack
 Durga Puja - A Deep Insight by Shyamagopika devi dasi
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