Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 11


Sri Chaitanya
Painting by Panchugopal Dutta

Oct 11, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes with rivers.

Perhaps the most famous of all pastimes in which Lord Caitanya comes to accept some other body of water as being the holy Yamuna River, where Krsna has His pastimes with Radha and the gopis, is that of Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Advaita tricking Him. This lila pastime is narrated in Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila. After accepting the sannyāsa order at Katwa, the Lord traveled around Rāḍha-deśa:

    "For the twenty-four years after Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted the renounced order, whatever pastimes He executed were unlimited and unfathomable. Who can understand the purport of such pastimes? … After accepting the sannyāsa order, Caitanya Mahāprabhu proceeded toward Vṛndāvana.

    When proceeding toward Vṛndāvana, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was overwhelmed with ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa, and He lost all remembrance of the external world. In this way He traveled continuously for three days in Rāḍha-deśa, the country where the Ganges River does not flow.

    First of all, Lord Nityānanda bewildered Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu by bringing Him along the banks of the Ganges, saying that it was the river Yamunā. After three days, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to the house of Advaita Ācārya at Śāntipura and accepted alms there. This was His first acceptance of alms. At night He performed congregational chanting there. At the house of Advaita Prabhu, He met His mother as well as all the devotees from Māyāpur. He adjusted everything and then went to Jagannātha Purī."

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 1.89-95)

This nectarean pastime is elaborated upon in Madhya lila 3, beginning with the chapter's introduction:

    "In his Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gives the following summary of the third chapter. After accepting the sannyāsa order at Katwa, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu traveled continuously for three days in Rāḍha-deśa and, by the trick of Nityānanda Prabhu, eventually came to the western side of Śāntipura. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was induced to believe that the river Ganges was the Yamunā. When He was worshiping the sacred river, Advaita Prabhu arrived in a boat. Advaita Prabhu asked Him to take His bath in the Ganges and took Him to His (Advaita's) house. There all the Navadvīpa devotees, along with mother Śacīdevī, came to see Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This house was located at Śāntipura. Mother Śacīdevī cooked for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu, and at that time there were many joking exchanges between Advaita Prabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu. In the evening there was a mass saṅkīrtana at the house of Advaita Prabhu, and mother Śacīdevī gave Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu permission to leave. She requested Him to make Jagannātha Purī, Nīlācala, His headquarters. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu granted His mother's request and, followed by Nityānanda, Mukunda, Jagadānanda and Dāmodara, left Śāntipura. Bidding farewell to mother Śacīdevī, they all proceeded toward Jagannātha Purī, following the path of Chatrabhoga."

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 3 Summary)

In Madhya 3 we learn how this pastime first began to unfold:

    "As Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was en route to Vṛndāvana, all the ecstatic symptoms became manifest, and He did not know in which direction He was going, nor did He know whether it was day or night. When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu went toward Vṛndāvana, Nityānanda Prabhu, Candraśekhara and Prabhu Mukunda followed Him."

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 3.10-11)

And as Madhya 3 continues, the narration explains in detail the role Sri Advaita Acarya also played in tricking Mahaprabhu about the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. While the Lord wandered ecstatically through Radha-desa, the cowherd boys came to see Him. Nityananda prabhu, called these boys aside and in confidence, instructed them: "If Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asks you about the path to Vṛndāvana, please show Him the path on the bank of the Ganges instead."

    "When the cowherd boys were questioned by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu about the path to Vṛndāvana, the boys showed Him the path on the bank of the Ganges, and the Lord went that way in ecstasy.

    As the Lord proceeded along the bank of the Ganges, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu requested Ācāryaratna [Candraśekhara Ācārya] to go immediately to the house of Advaita Ācārya. Śrī Nityānanda Gosvāmī told him, "I shall take Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to the bank of the Ganges at Śāntipura, and Advaita Ācārya should carefully stay there on shore with a boat. "After that," Nityānanda Prabhu continued, "I shall go to Advaita Ācārya's house, and you should go to Navadvīpa and return with mother Śacī and all the other devotees."

    After sending Ācāryaratna to the house of Advaita Ācārya, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu went before Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and gave notice of His coming. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was in ecstasy, and He asked where Nityānanda Prabhu was going. Nityānanda replied that He was going with Him toward Vṛndāvana. When the Lord asked Nityānanda Prabhu how far it was to Vṛndāvana, Nityānanda replied, "Just see! Here is the river Yamunā."

    Saying this, Nityānanda Prabhu took Caitanya Mahāprabhu near the Ganges, and the Lord, in His ecstasy, accepted the river Ganges as the river Yamunā. The Lord said, "Oh, what good fortune! Now I have seen the river Yamunā." Thus thinking the Ganges to be the river Yamunā, Caitanya Mahāprabhu began to offer prayers to it.

    "O river Yamunā, you are the blissful spiritual water that gives love to the son of Nanda Mahārāja. You are the same as the water of the spiritual world, for you can vanquish all our offenses and the sinful reactions incurred in life. You are the creator of all auspicious things for the world. O daughter of the sun-god, kindly purify us by your pious activities."

    After reciting this mantra, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu offered obeisances and took His bath in the Ganges. At that time He had on only one piece of underwear, for there was no second garment.

    While Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was standing there without a second garment, Śrī Advaita Ācārya arrived in a boat, bringing with Him new underwear and external garments. When Advaita Ācārya arrived, He stood before the Lord and offered His obeisances. After seeing Him, the Lord began to wonder about the entire situation. Still in His ecstasy, the Lord asked Advaita Ācārya, "Why did You come here? How did You know that I was in Vṛndāvana?"

    Advaita Ācārya disclosed the whole situation, telling Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, "Wherever You are, that is Vṛndāvana. Now it is My great fortune that You have come to the bank of the Ganges."

    Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then said, "Nityānanda has cheated Me. He has brought Me to the bank of the Ganges and told Me that it was the Yamunā." When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accused Nityānanda of cheating Him, Śrīla Advaita Ācārya said, "Whatever Nityānanda Prabhu has told You is not false. You have indeed just now taken Your bath in the river Yamunā."

    Advaita Ācārya then explained that at that spot the Ganges and Yamunā flow together. On the western side was the Yamunā, and on the eastern side was the Ganges."

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 3.18-36)

    Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


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