Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 16

BY: SUN STAFF

Sunrise on the Godavari at Gautami-ganga


Oct 21, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes with rivers.

Today we will talk about a river made famous by the lila pastimes of Lord Caitanya: the Gautami-ganga in Andhra Pradesh. This holy river is a main branch of the Godavari, which is perhaps even more famously known, being the place where Mahaprabhu had His conversations with Sri Ramananda Raya. We talk more about that theertham later in the series.

In the Summary of Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Lila 9 Summary we read:

    Madhya lila 9

    "A summary of the Ninth Chapter is given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. After leaving Vidyanagara, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited such places of pilgrimage as Gautami-ganga, Mallikarjuna, Ahovala-nrsimha, Siddhavata, Skanda-ksetra, Trimatha, Vrddhakasi, Bauddha-sthana, Tirupati, Tirumala, Pana-nrsimha, Siva-kanci, Visnu-kanci, Trikala-hasti, Vrddhakola, Siyali-bhairavi, Kaveri-tira and Kumbhakarna-kapala."

And later, in Madhya Lila 9.14 we find some very interesting details on the Gautami-ganga:

    Madhya 9.14

    ei sloka pathe padi' karila prayana
    gautami-gangaya yai' kaila ganga-snana

    "While walking on the road, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to chant this Rama Raghava mantra. Chanting in this way, He arrived at the banks of the Gautami-ganga and took His bath there.

    PURPORT
    The Gautami-ganga is a branch of the river Godavari. Formerly a great sage named Gautama Rsi used to live on the bank of this river opposite the city of Rajamahendri, and consequently this branch was called the Gautami-ganga.

    Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that Srila Kaviraja Gosvami has recorded the names of the holy places visited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu but that there is no chronological order of the places visited. However, there is a notebook of Govinda dasa's containing a chronological order and references to geographical positions. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura requests the readers to refer to that book. According to Govinda dasa, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Trimanda from the Gautami-ganga. From there He went to Dhundirama-tirtha, another place of pilgrimage. According to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, after visiting the Gautami-ganga, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Mallikarjuna-tirtha."

The Rama Raghava mantra Lord Caitanya chanted on the way to Gautami-ganga is described in the previous verse:

    Madhya 9.13

    rama! raghava! rama! raghava! rama! raghava! pahi mam
    krsna! kesava! krsna! kesava! krsna! kesava! raksa mam

    "'O Lord Ramacandra, descendant of Maharaja Raghu, kindly protect me! O Lord Krsna, killer of the Kesi demon, kindly protect me!'"


Gautami-ganga on the Godavari River

Sastra and the Sampradaya Acaryas have provided ample information about the location and particulars of Gautami-ganga tirtha. The city of Rajamahendri -- now called Rajahmundry – is present on contemporary maps. Rajahmundry is located about 155 kilometers northeast of Vijayawada, 206 km southwest of Visakhapatnam, and about 59 kilometers inland from the coast of Andhra Pradesh (portions of which are now known as Telengana). The city sits on the northern branch of the Godavari, just north of where the great river splits into two branches.


Rajahmundry and Kovvur on the Godavari River


Just across the Godavari River from Rajahmundry is the place where the sage Gautama Rsi lived on the bank of the river. The place has long been known as Kovvur (Kovur or Kovvuru). There, Lord Caitanya bathed at the Gospada Ghat, a holy theertham still very popular today.


On the Kovvur side of the river is the ancient Gospada Ghat where Mahaprabhu took His bath. Known today as the Vidya Gospada Kshetramu, Gostanadi Teeramu at Kovvuru, the ghat is one km from the center of modern Kovvuru. This is the place where the sage Gautama lived and performed austerities.


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