Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 14
BY: SUN STAFF
Sri Chaitanya in Jharakhanda Forest with elephants, dancing animals
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Oct 17, 2015 CANADA (SUN) Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes with rivers.
Finally departing for Vrindavan with his servant, Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya, Sri Chaitanya passed through the forest of Jhārikhaṇḍa, causing all the wild animals to dance, chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and exchange loving affections.
Srila Prabhupada explains the wondrous pastimes in Jharikhanda forest in his Bhaktivedanta Purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 17.31. He explains how the Supreme Personality of Godhead, playing the part of a greatly advanced devotee, makes no distinction between friends and enemies (e.g., men or beasts), but rather sees everyone as a servant of Krsna.
"The mahā-bhāgavata knows that Kṛṣṇa is in everyone's heart. Kṛṣṇa is dictating, and the living entity is following His dictations. Kṛṣṇa is within the heart of the tiger, elephant and boar. Therefore Kṛṣṇa tells them, "Here is a mahā-bhāgavata. Please do not disturb him." Why, then, should the animals be envious of such a great personality? Those who are neophytes or even a little progressed in devotional service should not try to imitate the mahā-bhāgavata. Rather, they should only follow in his footsteps. The word anukara means "imitating," and anusara means "trying to follow in the footsteps." We should not try to imitate the activities of a mahā-bhāgavata or Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Our best efforts should be exerted in trying to follow them according to our ability. The mahā-bhāgavata's heart is completely freed from material contamination, and he can become very dear even to fierce animals like tigers and elephants. Indeed, the mahā-bhāgavata treats them as his very intimate friends. On this platform there is no question of envy. When the Lord was passing through the forest, He was in ecstasy, thinking the forest to be Vṛndāvana. He was simply searching for Kṛṣṇa."
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 17.31 Purport)
Of course, the Lord's pastime in Jharikhanda forest also feature a river. While the exact location and name of this river are not specified in sastra, we do have some indications of where it resides:
"The Lord abandoned walking on the well-known public road and went instead along a bypass. He thus kept the city of Kaṭaka on His right as He entered the forest. When the Lord passed through the solitary forest chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, the tigers and elephants, seeing Him, gave way.
When the Lord passed through the jungle in great ecstasy, packs of tigers, elephants, rhinoceros and boars came, and the Lord passed right through them. Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya was very much afraid to see them, but by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's influence, all the animals stood to one side.
One day a tiger was lying on the path, and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, walking along the path in ecstatic love, touched the tiger with His feet. The Lord said, "Chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa!" The tiger immediately got up and began to dance and to chant "Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!"
Another day, while Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was bathing in a river, a herd of maddened elephants came there to drink water. While the Lord was bathing and murmuring the Gāyatrī mantra, the elephants came before Him. The Lord immediately splashed some water on the elephants and asked them to chant the name of Kṛṣṇa.
The elephants whose bodies were touched by the water splashed by the Lord began to chant "Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!" and dance and sing in ecstasy. Some of the elephants fell to the ground, and some screamed in ecstasy. Seeing this, Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya was completely astonished."
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 17.24-33 Purport)
According to the web travelogues kept by devotees at Padayatra.com, there are biographies which mention the Lord performing sankirtana at a placed named Kunja Nagari on the banks of the Chautama River, and that "all the wild animals took part by chanting and dancing. The Earth became so ecstatic upon hearing the sweet kirtan of the Lord that she melted in some places, which resulted in imprints of the footprints of Mahaprabhu and the animals around Him."
While we don't find mention of the Chautama on this list of Jharkhand's local rivers, the Padayatra team tells a story about a sage who envisioned it to be the place. Local people have built a shrine there.
The riverbank thought to be the place where Lord Chaitanya bathed
with the elephants and made the wild animals dance in ecstasy
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