Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 12


Pratāparudra-santrātā, the deliverer of Mahārāja Pratāparudra
Illustration from "Chaitanya's Life and Teachings" ( Jadunath Sarkar, Calcutta, 1922)

Oct 13, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes with rivers.

There is one more pastime that must be mentioned involving not only Sri Caitanya in association with a holy river, but also the Lord being tricked by His intimate associates. The parisad personalities are none other than Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya and Sri Ramananda Raya, and the river is the Citrotpala.

Having spent considerable time in Jagannatha Puri, Lord Caitanya on more than one occasion tried to make plans to leave for Vrindavana. The following pastime, narrated in Caitanya-caritamrta chapter 16, describes how the Lord wanted to go to Vṛndāvana, but could not leave Jagannātha Purī because of Rāmānanda Rāya's tricks.

    "During the fifth year, the devotees from Bengal came to see the Ratha-yātrā festival. After seeing it, they did not stay but returned to Bengal. Then Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu placed a proposal before Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya and Rāmānanda Rāya. He embraced them and spoke sweet words.

    Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, "My desire to go to Vṛndāvana has very much increased. Because of your tricks, I have not been able to go there for the past two years. "This time I must go. Will you please give Me permission? Save for you two, I have no other resort.

    "In Bengal I have two shelters — My mother and the river Ganges. Both of them are very merciful. I shall go to Vṛndāvana through Bengal and see both My mother and the river Ganges. Now would you two be pleased to give Me permission?"

    When Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya and Rāmānanda Rāya heard these words, they began to consider that it was not at all good that they had played so many tricks on the Lord"

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 16.86-92)

Respecting Mahaprabhu's wishes, suitable arrangements were made, and the Lord departed on His travels.

    "After Lord Caitanya reached Bhavānīpura, Rāmānanda Rāya arrived on his palanquin, and Vāṇīnātha Rāya had a large quantity of prasādam sent to the Lord. After taking prasādam, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu remained there for the night. Early in the morning He began walking, and finally He reached Bhuvaneśvara. After reaching the city of Kaṭaka, He saw the temple of Gopāla, and a brāhmaṇa there named Svapneśvara invited the Lord to eat.

    Rāmānanda Rāya invited all the others for their meals, and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu made His resting place in a garden outside the temple. While Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was taking rest beneath a bakula tree, Rāmānanda Rāya immediately went to Mahārāja Pratāparudra. The King was very happy to hear the news, and he hastily went there. Upon seeing the Lord, he fell flat to offer Him obeisances.

    Being overwhelmed with love, the King again and again got up and fell down. When he offered prayers, his whole body shivered, and tears fell from his eyes. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was very pleased to see the devotion of the King, and He therefore stood up and embraced him. When the Lord embraced the King, the King again and again offered prayers and obeisances. In this way, the Lord's mercy brought tears from the King, and the Lord's body was bathed with these tears.

    Finally Rāmānanda Rāya pacified the King and made him sit down. The Lord bestowed mercy upon him through His body, mind and words. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu showed such mercy to the King that from that day on the Lord became known as Pratāparudra-santrātā, the deliverer of Mahārāja Pratāparudra."

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 16.98-108)

After offering obeisances and demonstrating his great love for Sri Chaitanya, King Prataparudra began to make arrangements, making sure that Mahaprabhu had the benefit of all facility. The King had his servants write down his orders:

    "The King then went outside and had orders written down and sent to the government servants within his kingdom. His orders read: "In every village you should construct new residences, and in five or seven new houses you should store all kinds of food.

    "You should personally take the Lord to these newly constructed houses. Day and night you should engage in His service with a stick in your hands." The King ordered two respectable officers named Haricandana and Mardarāja to do whatever was necessary to carry out these orders.

    The King also ordered them to maintain a new boat on the banks of the river, and wherever Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu took His bath or crossed to the other side of the river, they should establish a memorial column and make that place a great place of pilgrimage. "Indeed," said the King, "I will take my bath there. And let me also die there."

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 16.110-115)

After river being referred to by King Prataparudra is, of course, the Citrotpala.

    "When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu went to the bank of the river Citrotpalā to take His bath, all the queens and ladies of the palace offered their obeisances to Him. Upon seeing the Lord, they all felt themselves overwhelmed with love of Godhead, and, tears pouring from their eyes, they began to chant the holy name, "Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!" There is no one as merciful as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu within all three worlds. Simply by seeing Him from a distance, one is overwhelmed with love of Godhead.

    The Lord then got into a new boat and crossed the river. Walking in the full moonlight, He finally reached the town known as Caturdvāra. The Lord spent the night there and in the morning took His bath."

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 16.119-123)

    Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

The Citrotpala River originates from Mahanadi, near Guali in Cuttack district. During the time Lord Caitanya's pastimes, the rivers crossed from Orissan into Madhya Pradesh, which bordered it.

    Begler points out that the Asiatic Researches, on the authority of a copy of the Kalikasamvitta containing the Citrotpala-mahatmya, in the possession of a Brahmana, identifies the Citrotpala with the Mahanadi below its junction with the Pyri (ancient Pretoddharini), [1] the portion of the Mahanadi before its junction with Pyri being known as Utpalesvara. Sircar and Ali accept the above identification.

    The river is also mentioned in the Bhisma Parvan of the Mahabharata, and is referred to in an inscription.[2]"

    (Historical Geography of Madhyapradesh from Early Records by P. K. Bhattacharyya)


    [1] As to the origin of the name of Citrotpala, Cunningham makes the following observation: The father of Citrangada, the mother of Babhruvahana, was Citravahana, king of Cedi (Manipura?). Now, one of the known names of the Mahanadi river is Citrotpala; and at Kharod, Beglar was told that the Mahanadi river was anciently called the Citrotpalavati river. The southern limit of Sirpur is also said to have included the Ciraka Tal. Now all these were possibly derived from Citra or Citrangada, and it is also likely, the Citravahana was the king of Citrangadapura on the Citrotpala river. (See A.S.R., vol. XVII, pp. 68 ff).

    [2] The Mahada Plates of Somesvaravarmadeva, Ip. Ind., XXVIII, pp. 283 ff.

(To be continued…)


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