Lord Caitanya's Travels in Prayag
BY: SUN STAFF
Nov 30, 2012 CANADA (SUN) A brief series on the places in Prayag (Allahabad) visited by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Among the lila pastimes Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu engaged in at Prayag, known today as Allahabad, was his instruction of Rupa Goswami. The Lord gave initiation to Sri Rupa at the Dasavamedha Ghat, which is located on the bank of the Ganga at Daraganj, near the Vendi Madhav temple.
In Chapter One of Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Srila Prabhupada gives a detailed narrative of the pastime:
Teachings to Rupa Gosvami
Srila Rupa Gosvami, the younger brother of Sanatana Gosvami, went to Prayaga, the modern city of Allahabad, with his younger brother Vallabha. When the two brothers heard that Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was staying there, they both became very happy and went to see the Lord. At that time the Lord was on His way to visit the temple Bindumadhava. On the way to the temple, the Lord was chanting and dancing, and thousands of people were following Him. Some of these people were crying, and some were laughing. Some were dancing, and some were singing, and some were falling on the ground, offering obeisances to the Lord. In all cases, all of them were roaring the holy name of Krsna. It is said that in spite of being at the confluence of the rivers Ganges and Yamuna, Prayaga was never flooded until the appearance of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, at which time the city was overflooded by love of Krsna.
The two brothers, Rupa Gosvami and Vallabha, stayed aloof in an uncrowded place and witnessed the great crowd and wonderful scene. When the Lord danced, He raised His arms and shouted, "Haribol! Haribol!" The people all about Him were astonished to see His wonderful activities. After visiting the temple, the Lord accepted prasada (food offered to the Deity) at the house of a Deccanist (Southern) brahmana. While at the brahmana's home, the Lord was visited by Rupa Gosvami and Vallabha. From a distance the two brothers fell down on the ground to offer obeisances, and they chanted many Sanskrit verses from the scriptures. When the Lord saw Rupa Gosvami offering obeisances before Him, He became very pleased and asked him to get up. The Lord then informed Rupa Gosvami of the causeless mercy of Krsna upon him, for Krsna had just delivered him from a materialistic way of life based simply on pound-shilling-pence.
The Lord accepted the two brothers as His own devotees, and He cited one verse from the scriptures which stated that it is possible for a brahmana, who has studied the four Vedas, to not be accepted as a devotee of the Lord and that a pure devotee could come from a very low family and yet be accepted by Him. Then the Lord embraced the two brothers, and, out of His causeless mercy, touched their heads with His lotus feet. Being blessed in this way, the brothers offered prayers to the Lord in their own words. The prayers indicated that Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu was Krsna Himself, that He had assumed the form and fair complexion of Caitanya and was thus known as Gauranga (the golden one), and that He was the most munificent incarnation of Krsna because He was distributing love of Krsna. Srila Rupa Gosvami also quoted one verse which was later found in the book Govinda-lilamrta (1.2):
yo 'jnana-mattam bhuvanam dayalur
ullaghayann apy akarot pramattam
sri-krsna-caitanyam amum prapadye
"Let me surrender unto the lotus feet of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the most merciful Personality of Godhead. He delivers those souls who are merged in ignorance and offers them the highest gift, love of Krsna, and thus makes them mad for Krsna consciousness."
After this incident, Vallabha Bhatta invited the Lord to go to the other side of the Ganges, and the Lord went. From that moment on, wherever the Lord went, Rupa Gosvami would follow Him and stay with Him. Because the Lord felt inconvenienced in crowded places, He asked Rupa Gosvami to accompany Him to a place on the banks of the Ganges known as Dasasvamedha-ghata. For ten days He instructed Rupa Gosvami about the truth of Krsna, the principles of devotional service and the transcendental relationships with Krsna. All of this was described in full detail so that in the future Rupa Gosvami could distribute this science of Krsna in his book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. Indeed, Srila Rupa Gosvami described this incident in the first verse of Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, in which he speaks of the causeless mercy of the Lord upon him."
Rupa Goswami and His Younger Brother Annupam (Ballav),
at the first Meeting of Sri Rupa with Lord Chaitanya at Prayag (Allahabad)
Teachings of Lord Caitanya (1968)
Srila Prabhupada on many occasions described this famous first meeting of Lord Caitanya and Rupa Goswami and the prayer Rupa offered, which speaks to the essence of Krsna consciousness and which the devotees recite each day:
"So Lord Caitanya taught this love of Krsna. Therefore one of His first disciples, Rupa Gosvami, when he first met Lord Caitanya at Prayag, Allahabad, he offered his respects by composing one verse in Sanskrit:
He said, "My dear Lord Caitanya, You are the most magnanimous personality in this world, most munificent, charitable. You are giving the most nice thing. What is that? Krsna-prema, love of Krsna." There are many charitable institution and foundation, they are giving charities to many institution and many function. But here Lord Caitanya's charity, giving free the love of Krsna, that was very much appreciated by Rupa Gosvami, and therefore he said, namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te, krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne. And this love of Krsna cannot be bestowed by anyone else except Krsna Himself. Krsna once tried. When He was Himself in His Bhagavad-gita, He said, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "You just give up everything. Just try to love Me. Surrender unto Me, and I shall give you all protection.'"
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Caitanya-caritamrta, December 24, 1966,
In each recitation of the Prayag pastimes of Sri Rupa's instruction, Srila Prabhupada highlights different unique aspects of the philosophy:
"…Rupa Gosvami, when (he) first saw Lord Caitanya, he offered his respect to Lord Caitanya. This is the same attitude. He was dancing in the front of Bindu-madhava at Prayag--the Prayag description I have already given you--and at that time Rupa Gosvami went to meet Him, and he fell down before His lotus feet and prayed with these words. What is that?
"My dear Lord, You are the most magnificent, charitable incarnation. There are many incarnations of God, but You are the most magnificent..., munificent." Not magnificent; magnificent is also there. Why? "Because You are distributing love of God." Love of God: krsna-prema-pradaya te. Therefore this love of God cannot be distributed by anyone unless he is empowered by God. No ordinary man can. If he's not a lover of God, how he can distribute love of God? If one is poor man, how he can be a charitable man? Similarly, unless Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the ideal figure, how He loved Krsna? You see His picture, only... Not even twenty-four years, because at the age of twenty-four years He left home. His wife was only sixteen years old, His mother was seventy-five years old, very old lady, but He left home for distributing krsna-prema, love of Krsna.
So this is the best kind of religious principle, to understand how to become a lover of God and distribute this knowledge, how to love God. That is the best religion. So this description of Srimad-Bhagavatam, definition of religion, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje ahaituki, without any cause, apratihata, without being checked up, without being infected by any materialism. So Krsna consciousness is so beautiful thing that it does not require any material acquisition, neither it can be checked by any material (indistinct). Anywhere, any part of the world, at home or out of home, anywhere you can, with your ecstasy, you can chant Hare Krsna, and you attain love of God very quickly."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam, August 26, 1971,
The location of the Dasasvamedha-ghata at which Sri Rupa Goswami was initiated by Lord Caitanya can be easily confused with other places. In fact, there are many ghats in India known as Dasasvamedha (Dashashavmegh). In his purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 16.150, Srila Prabhupada describes another tirtha yatra site of Mahaprabhu's, at Yajapur, Orissa. In that tirtha, he says, there are many places along the Vaitarani River known as ' Dasasvamedha-ghata'.
Perhaps the best known Dasasvamedha-ghata today is the one at Varnasi, at which elaborate Agni-puja is conducted each evening, drawing crowds of devotees and onlookers. But for Gaudiya Vaisnavas, the most famous Dasasvamedha-ghata is the one at Prayag. The footsteps of the Lord are worshipped at the ghata, which is topmost among the countless pilgrimage sites in Prayag.
Lord Caitanya's Footprints at Dasasvamedha-ghata
Photo: HH Bhaktiratna Sadhu Swami
Sri Caitanya spent 10 days at the Prayag sangam, the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna's waters. He bathed here during the festival of Makara-sańkrānti, or Māgha-melā (Cc Madhya 18.222). Having given the science of Krsna consciousness to Sri Rupa, the place is also known as 'Rupa Shikshasthali.
In his purport to Madhya 18.145, Srila Prabhupada describes the auspiciousness of bathing at Prayag at this time of year:
"Bathing during the month of Māgha at the Māgha-melā still takes place. This is a very old melā (assembly), dating from time immemorial. It is said that ever since the Lord in the form of Mohinī took a bucket of nectar and kept it at Prayāga, holy men have gathered there every year and observed the Māgha-melā. Every twelfth year there is a Kumbha-melā, a great festival, and all the holy men from all over India assemble there. The brāhmaṇa wanted to take advantage of the Māgha-melā and bathe there.
Bathing at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamunā, near the fort at Allahabad (Prayāga), is mentioned in the revealed scriptures:
māghe māsi gamiṣyanti gańgā-yāmuna-sańgamam
gavāḿ śata-sahasrasya samyag dattaḿ ca yat-phalam
prayāge māgha-māse vai try-ahaḿ snātasya tat-phalam
"If one goes to Prayāga and bathes at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamunā in the month of Māgha, he attains the result of giving hundreds and thousands of cows in charity. Simply by bathing for three days there, he attains the results of such a pious activity." Because of this, the Sanoḍiyā brāhmaṇa was very eager to go to Prayāga and bathe. Generally karmīs (fruitive laborers) take advantage of bathing there during the month of Māgha, thinking that they will be rewarded in the future. Those who are situated in devotional service do not very strictly follow this karma-kāṇḍīya process."
Srila Prabhupada provided various other details about Dasavamedha-ghata in a lengthy conversation he had with Hayagriva in San Francisco on April 5th and 6th, 1976, as they discussed the script for a dramatic rendition of Lord Caitanya's life and pastimes:
Prabhupada: Second scene, fourth act, Caitanya Mahaprabhu after finishing His South Indian tour, He came back to Jagannatha Puri, His headquarter, and after some days He started for Vrndavana. While He was in Vrndavana He was embracing the tree as old friend, and the birds were sitting on His hand, as if receiving an old friend. Because He was Krsna. So after many years they have seen. And that scene, if you can describe how He's traveling in the Vrndavana forest. Then He took bath in the several vanas and ghatas. Ghatas means bathing place of Krsna's pastimes. And everywhere He felt the ecstasy of Radharani, separation. In this way He returned from Vrndavana, and when He came down to Prayag, modern Allahabad, at that time He met Rupa Gosvami. Rupa Gosvami.
Hayagriva: Now you say the trees were old friends because He could remember that He was Krsna. Krsna used to play in these forests. He used to play in the forest. Yes. Now He met Rupa Gosvami.
Prabhupada: At Prayag.
Hayagriva: At Prayag. Yes.
Prabhupada: Allahabad. And...
Hayagriva: What is His age? I just want to keep checking on this, His age now. Is He twenty, in His twenties still?
Prabhupada: No, no. He took sannyasa at twenty-four. Say twenty-five, twenty-six years.
Hayagriva: Couple years later. All right. Because time is an important factor. You have to keep track of the time in the play.
Prabhupada: Yes. He toured, after His sannyasa, He toured all over India for six years only. That means up to 30th year He toured all over India. And from 30th year to 48th year, 18 years, He constantly remained at Jagannatha Puri. He used to chant in the temple and meet His visitors. Especially during car festival ceremony of Jagannatha, from Bengal about 400, 500 devotees would go and meet Him, and they would remain there for four months continually. July, August, September, October. Four months. And then they would come back. In this way, for 18 years He passed in Jagannatha Puri. So Rupa Gosvami, He met Rupa Gosvami and He taught him about the science of devotion for ten days. That devotional service He instructed that the living entities they're roaming in the 8,400,000 species of life. Fortunately, if by the mercy of Krsna and if he gets one good spiritual master, then he learns about devotional service. So He taught him about the science of devotional service. That is the importance of meeting Rupa Gosvami. So here the scenery must be mentioned. It is on the bank of Ganges. There is a nice ghata, just like... You have been to Benares? No. You have been to Hardwar?
Prabhupada: You have seen many ghatas, bathing places.
Hayagriva: Oh yes, yes.
Prabhupada: Similarly, there are ghatas in Benares, Prayag, and all, I mean to say, Vrndavana. That is the specific significance of Indian places of pilgrimage.
Hayagriva: Yes. They bathe there every day I noticed.
Prabhupada: Yes. So similarly, there is a ghata which is called Dasasvamedha Ghata at Prayag. He instructed about the science of devotional service to Rupa Gosvami.
Hayagriva: Now how old is Rupa Goswami? Is he an old man?
Prabhupada: Oh, he was old enough. He was not less than fifty years at that time.
Hayagriva: I see. All right. Anything else in the second scene, fourth act?
Prabhupada: That is it... And then He came back to Benares.
Prabhupada: Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Hayagriva: I thought He stayed in Jagannatha... He's not now... He left...
Prabhupada: No, from Jagannatha Puri He went to Vrndavana. From Vrndavana while coming down again He first of all came to Prayag. There He taught Rupa Gosvami. Then when He still came down He came to Benares. At Benares He remained for two months. More than two months. And for two months continually He instructed Sanatana Gosvami about devotional service. That instruction you'll find in the Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
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