Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 7

BY: SUN STAFF

Terracotta of Caitanya-lila - Pratapeshwar Temple, Kalna


Oct 03, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes with rivers.

Today we are discussing one of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's very famous river pastimes -- His travels by boat across the Ganges River from Santipura to Ambika-Kalna to visit Sri Gauridas Pandita. In the Bhaktivedanta Purport to Adi lila 11.26 we find this detailed description of the locale of Ambika-Kalna:

    "It is said that Gauridasa Pandita was always patronized by King Krsnadasa, the son of Harihoda. Gauridasa Pandita lived in the village of Saligrama, which is situated a few miles from the railway station Mudagacha, and later he came to reside in Ambika-kalana. It is stated in the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, verse 128, that formerly he was Subala, one of the cowherd boyfriends of Krsna and Balarama in Vrndavana. Gauridasa Pandita was the younger brother of Suryadasa Sarakhela, and with the permission of his elder brother he shifted his residence to the bank of the Ganges, living there in the town known as Ambika-kalana. [ ]

    The village Ambika-kalana, which is situated just across the river Ganges from Santipura, is two miles east of the Kalana-korta railway station, on the eastern railway. In Ambika-kalana there is a temple constructed by the Zamindar of Burdwan. In front of the temple there is a big tamarind tree, and it is said that Gauridasa Pandita and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu met underneath this tree. The place where the temple is situated is known as Ambika, and because it is in the area of Kalana, the village is known as Ambika-kalana. It is said that a copy of the Bhagavad-gita written by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu still exists in this temple."

In Jaiva Dharma, Srila Bhaktivinoda also describes this tirtha:

    "Ambika-Kalna - a place about 30 km south of the present city of Navadvipa. This is where Sri Gauridasa Pandita, Sri Hrdaya Caitanya, Sri Paramananda Gupta, and Sri Suryadasa Pandita lived. It is situated on the west bank of the Ganga directly across from Santipura, where Sri Advaita Acarya lived. Sriman Mahaprabhu used to visit the house of Gauridasa Pandita in Kalna."


Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Footprints at Kalna (left), and the shrine houseing the Footprints (right)


Ambika-Kalna (or kalana) and the city of Ambika in Vardhamana district were known as Ambuya-muluka during the Mughal occupation (Cc Antya 2.15-16 Purport). This place is mentioned several times in Caitanya-caritamrta, in the Adi and Antya lilas. Pradyumna Brahmacari lived in Kalna at one time, as described in the antya-lilas of Caitanya-caritamrta and Caitanya-bhagavata (Cc Adi 10.59 Purport).

The story is told in Caitanya-caritamrta about Mahaprabhu and Gauridas Pandita in Ambika Kalna. On the day that Mahaprabhu paddled across the Ganges to come to visit Gauridas, he sat under the tamarind tree. Gauridas asked for Mahaprabhu to stay permanently there in Ambika. In order to fulfill his devotee's desire, Mahaprabhu revealed that His form and that of Nityananda Prabhu were in a nearby neem tree. It is also said that when these Deities were being carved, Nityananda was physically present. Conquered by Gauridas's love for them, the Deities would physically eat everything that he offered to them.

When Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu were about to leave, Gauridas did everything in his power to hold them back. Mahaprabhu calmed him by saying, "Nityananda and I are directly present in these Forms. You can tell either the Deities to go, or we can leave. You choose." Naturally, Gauri Das chose the real Gaura-Nitai to stay and said that the Deities could leave. So this is what happened, demonstrating the truth of the Caitanya-caritamrita's statement:

    nama vigraha Svarupa, ei tina eka-rupa
    tine bheda nahi tina cidananda-rupa

    "These three, the name, the deity form and the original form of the Lord, are all one. No distinction should be made between them, for all three are of transcendental, spiritual substance."
    ( Caitanya-caritamrita 17.131)

The tree that Lord Caitanya took rest beneath is still residing in Kalna. Known as Tentultala, or Amlitala, it is located at the Mahaprabhu Para, where the Lotus Footprints of Sri Caitanya are also found.


The place of Lord Caitanya's boat crossing of the Ganges River, to Kalna


There are some differences of opinion amongst the Vaisnavas as to whether Mahaprabhu came alone in the rowboat across the Ganges, or if He was accompanied by another person. While some say it was Nityananda Prabhu who accompanied Him, others say it was Basudev Ghosh. But according to the authentic text, Sri Bhakti-ratnakar, Mahaprabhu traveled alone in the boat.

After enacting His Ganges river-crossing lila, Lord Chaitanya gave an oar He had used to row his small boat to Gauridasa Sarkel, along with a manuscript of the Gita He had written Himself. This he did about the year 1510, leaving the village of Harinadi, near Santipura, and arriving on the other shore at Ambika-Kalna to meet Gauridasa.

A deity of Sri Chaitanya made immediately after this event of Neem wood, by the order of Gauridasa, said to be an exact likeness of its model, is still worshipped in the temple founded by Gauridasa at Ambika. There, the Gita and the oar are also preserved, as recorded in Bhakti-ratnakara, c. 1700:

    "The oar and the copy of the Gita given by the Lord are still seen by the fortunate pilgrims near the Lord's image (at Ambika)".

Along with these transcendental items at Chaitanya Temple at Kalna is also the neem deity of Nityananda Prabhu, also worshipped by Sri Gauridasa.


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