Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 24
BY: SUN STAFF
Ghats along Gaya's Phalgu River
Nov 08, 2015 CANADA (SUN) Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes with rivers.
The Pastimes of Sri Chaitanya in Gaya
The holy rivers of northeast India are mentioned not only in Vaisnava literature, including the narrations of Lord Caitanya's pastimes, but also in Buddhist texts. This we pointed out in our last segment with the reference to the Uposathasuttam sutras. And there are a few rivers that particularly fall into both of these categories -- famous not only with the Vaisnavas, but with Buddhists as well.
Northeastern India is blessed by the waters of the mighty Brahmaputra, part of the expansive Brahmaputra-Barak river system, one of three great systems described by Kalidas, along with the Sindhu and Ganga. The great network of Brahmaputra-Barak and its many tributaries flow across a geographic region from the Brahmaputra, Barak and Imphal valleys, along with the hills of Meghalaya and Tripura.
For the most part, however, we find that the Brahmaputra's waters range to the east of where Lord Chaitanya's recorded pastimes occurred. But we do find a cross-over example in the Lord's pastimes at Gaya. The city of Gaya in Bihar is perhaps the most prominent of all seats of Buddhism, being the location of the renowned Bodhi tree under which Gautama Buddha manifested His enlightenment.
While Lord Caitanya's great philosophical defeat of the Buddhists took place in South India, not in the north, there are other wonderful pastimes of the Lord's to relish at Gaya. Famous among them is Gauranga's acceptance of initiation from Ishvara Puri and His performance of sraddha at Gaya. This pastime is narrated in the Adi Khanda of Caitanya Bhagavat.
Caitanya Bhagavat, Adi Khanda, Chapter 17
All glories to Sri Gaura Sundara, the Supreme Lord of all Lords, he possesses an eternal transcendental form and is very dear to Sri Nityananda Prabhu.
All glories to the Lord for he is the life and soul and the most precious object of love of all the Vaishnavas, kindly bestow your merciful glance on all the living entities so that they may become liberated from material entanglement.
Now listen carefully to the narrations of Lord Gaura Sundara going to Gayadham. The Lord of the Vaikuntha planets now resided in Nabadwip as the crest jewel teacher and scholar. The condition of human society had deteriorated to such an extent that there was an increase of atheistic people, and the process of devotional service had become very rare. People in general were attracted by the temporary and illusory pleasures of the senses and this greatly saddened the devotees. Another reason why the Vaishnava devotees were despairing was because Lord Gaura Sundara was so engrossed in scholastic pursuits. The mischievous and sinful population continued to hurl abuses at the Vaishnava devotees, and they simply bore the insults quietly. Supreme Lord Gaura Sundara desired within his heart that now the time was ripe to reveal his true identity and manifest His transcendental pastimes but first he decided to visit Gayadham, such was the desire of the fully independent Supreme Personality Gaura Sundara.
He performed the last rites, Sraddha ceremony of his father according to the scriptural injunctions and then accompanied by His disciples proceeded to Gayadham. The Lord was in a very blissful mood at the thought of being able to see Gayadham so taking leave of Mother Saci he left for Gaya. He passed through many towns and villages and by the touch of his transcendental lotus feet they have become places of pilgrimage. On the way he discussed many spiritual topics and explained difficult conclusions to his disciples sometimes joking with them, sometimes in a serious mood, finally he arrived in Mondata. In the Mandar hill there is a very famous place, the Lord visited the temples on the hill, the temple of Lord Madhu Sudan. One day while travelling the Lord pretended to have fever. The Lord of Vaikuntha, the Supreme Personality in order to teach the living entities pretended to have fever just like an ordinary mortal.
Half way to Gayadham the Lord got fever which brought anxiety to his disciples. They tried various medicines and means to bring the fever down but such was the desire of the Lord that his fever persisted. At last the Lord Himself suggested a remedy. "The remedy for all suffering is drinking the water that has washed the feet of a pure brahmana." To teach the world of the unique position of a pure brahmana the Lord drank the water that had washed the feet of the brahmana. Immediately upon drinking that water, the Lord became healthy and His fever was gone. Such activities of the Lord is His real nature, this has been described in all the Vedic scriptures. In the Srimad Bhagavatam Gita it is said, "All of them, as they surrender unto Me I reward accordingly. Everyone follows my path in all respects, O son of Pratha." When the devotee sincerely desires to become a servant of the Lord then the merciful Lord grants him eternal servitude. Therefore He is known as Sevakvatsal or one who is very affectionate to His servitors. the Lord readily accepts defeat if it increases the name and position of his surrendered devotee. How can devotees who have totally surrendered themselves to the lotus feet of the Lord even think of leaving the shelter of the Lord's lotus feet. The Lord continued his journey now cured of his fever, he came to the pilgrimage of Kukkum.
The Lord took his bath and offered worship to the departed soul of his father and then he entered Gaya Dham.
On entering Gaya Dham the Lord offered his obeisances with folded hands to the holy place of pilgrimage. He came to Brahma Kunda and took his bath and worshipped his father in the proper way the Lord then went to Cakartier, went inside to see the impressions of the lotus feet of Lord Visnu. All the brahmin priests sat surrounding the lotus feet of Lord Visnu, flower garlands offered to the lotus feet were piled around. One could never take account of all the incense flowers, perfumes, clothes and ornaments which were offered to the lotus feet and which now lay all around. The brahmins looked like divine beings and sat there describing the wonderful glories of the lotus feet of the Lord. They said, "Lord Vishveshnar, Siva, holds these lotus feet always close to his heart, and they are the life and soul of Srimati Laksmi Devi, the Goddess of fortune. The Supreme Lord blessed Bali Maharaja by placing these feet on his head, now all of you pious souls, see his very same lotus feet. Just a moment of sincere meditation on these lotus feet will immediately save you from hell. These lotus feet that are so rarely attained even by great mystic yogis. You have the good fortune to see them. Mother Ganga sprang forth from these lotus feet and surrendered souls of the Lord always hold these lotus feet deep in their hearts. All you fortunate souls please see these lotus feet that lies on the head of Ananta Sesha."
Hearing the wonderful glories of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, Lord Gauranga merged into an ocean of ecstatic bliss. Tears flowed profusely from his lotus eyes, and ecstatic symptoms like horripilation, shivering manifested on his transcendental body at the sight of the lotus feet. You the benefit of the entire human society, for the good fortune for all living entities, Supreme Lord Gaura Chandra now began to manifest the process of devotional service, love of Godhead. All the brahmana priests marvelled at the sight as unrestricted stream like mother Ganga poured from the Lord's lotus eyes. By divine arrangement Srila Isvara Puri was also present there at that time. When Lord Gaura Chandra saw Srila Isvara Chandra Puri, he offered his obeisances with great affection. Isvara Chandra Puri was also overjoyed to see Lord Gaura Chandra and he embraced him very lovingly. They could not control their intense joy of meeting each other and tears flowed profusely from their eyes drenching each other. Lord Gauranga said, "Now that I have seen your lotus feet My visit to Gaya has become successful and worthy. Oblations offered in a place of pilgrimage for the liberation of the departed souls of forefathers, effect only those who they are intended for, but just by your presence you have liberated so many innumerable souls of departed forefathers. Therefore no place of pilgrimage can be compared to you, in fact you are the purifier of even the places of pilgrimage. So kindly save me from drowning in the ocean of material existence, because I am surrendering my heart and soul and body to your feet. The only benediction that I desire from you is that you make me drink the nectar from Sri Krishna"s lotus feet."
Then Isvara Chandra Puri spoke, "Listen to me Pandita! I know very well that you are an expansion of the Supreme Lord. Otherwise how is it possible to possess vast learning like yourself or such a transcendental nature as you have? I had a dream last night of meeting the Supreme Lord and now meeting You that dream has been fulfilled. To tell You the truth, O Pandita, every moment I am feeling increasing ecstasy in Your presence. Ever since I saw You in Nabadwip, there has been nothing else on my mind except for You. Whatever I have spoken is certainly the truth. I have no other motivation for speaking this, the bliss one experiences in Lord Krishna's presence I am expressing that fully in Your presence." The Lord was very pleased to hear these sincere words from his beloved Isvara Puri. He said, "It is My good fortune that I have met you." They were very happy with each other's company talking confidential topics of Krishna consciousness, Srila Veda Vyasa in the future will describe in details these discussions between Lord Chaitanya and Isvara Chandra Puri.
The Lord then left Isvara Puri taking permission to go and take his bath and perform sacrifice in honor of His father, the Sraddha ceremony. After completing his necessary rituals of offering oblations to his father He left for Srinagar in Bedgaya. In Bedgaya Lord S....... again performed a Sraddha ceremony and He satisfied the attending priests with very humble and sweet words, this was His way of pleasing the priests. From there he proceeded to Dakshir Mamusa then to Rama Gaya. In Rama gaya the Lord offered the incarnation of Lord Rama Chandra Sraddha. he then proceeded to Yudhistar Gaya and offered oblations to Yudhister Maharaja. Each time the Lord performed a Sraddha ceremony, the brahmin priest would sit around him and chant mantras. After the sacrifice when the oblations were offered into the water the brahmana priests were almost swooping down upon him for fees and other gifts. The Lord simply smiled at such behavior and mercifully cut the knots of material entanglement in their hearts.
Then from ......... the Lord Sri Gauranga then went to Bhima gaya, then to Sva gaya and Brahma Gaya and various other holy places. When he arrived in Sourasa gaya he offered a special sacrifice with special ingredients and offered everyone oblations very respectfully. In Brahma Kunda the Lord took his bath then in Gayashir oblations. There the Lord offered beautiful flower garlands and sandal wood paste with His own hands and worshipped the lotus feet impressions of Lord Visnu. Completing his pilgrimage in all the places and satisfying all the brahmana priests he returned to his place of residence. He rested for a while, then feeling refreshed from rest He made preparations for cooking. As he completed the last preparation Srila Isvara Chandra Puri came to visit him. Intoxicated from chanting the holy name of Krishna and feeling ecstatic love for the Lord he walked into the room swaying as if drunk. The Lord immediately left his cooking and the kitchen and offered his respectful obeisances and sat him down comfortably. Laughing Srila Isvara Chandra Puri said, "O Pandita, I have come certainly at the right time."
The Lord replied, "When good fortune has smiled upon me today by sending you here, I pray that you will please accept some rice prasada." Srila Puripada smiled and said, "But then what will you have?" The Lord replied, "I will cook some rice for me now." Srila Puripada asked, "What is the use of cooking again? Whatever you have already cooked, let us share that amongst ourselves." Smiling the Lord replied, "Whatever is already prepared that is all for you, in no time I can prepare something afresh, please do not feel hesitant, you eat first." Offering to Isvara Puri what he had cooked for himself the Lord went back into the kitchen and began preparing food once again. Feeling great happiness the Lord exhibited so much mercy to Isvara Chandra Puri and Sripada Puri also had no other thought in mind other than Krishna. The Lord served Sripada Puri with his own hands and Sripada Puri relished the Lord's cooking with great delight. While this was going on Roma Devi, Laksmi Devi, the Goddess of fortune personally appeared and cooked for the Lord unseen by anyone in the kitchen. Seeing to that Sripada Puri was fully satisfied the Lord sat down to eat. These transcendental activities of the Lord and His devotees are so wonderful that anyone who hears them with faith and sincerity is immediately granted unalloyed devotional service at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna.
After the meal the Lord arranged for Sripada Puri to rest. As a disciple would serve a spiritual master, the Lord began massaging Sripada Puri with scented oil. Who can describe the elevated position of Sri Isvara Chandra Puri. Sri Chaitanya, the Supreme Personality of Godhead acting like an ideal disciple went to see the place of appearance of Sri Isvara Chandra Puri. The Lord said, "I offer my obeisances to the village Kumar..... where Sri Isvara Puri appeared." The Lord was so spiritually moved by this place that he shed profuse tears of love for Isvara Puri and continuously repeated his name. He picked up a handful of earth and tied it to the corner of his cloth. The Lord said, "This handful of earth from the place of Sri Isvara Chandra Puri's appearance is my most precious possession." Only the Supreme Personality of Godhead is capable of increasing the glories of his devotees, which was exemplified by Lord Chaitanya's intense love for Sri Isvara Chandra Puri. The Lord said, "By being able to associate with you I have fulfilled a reason for coming to Gaya."
The next day the Lord went to meet Isvara Puri and approached him for an invitation mantra with sweet and humble words. Srila Puripada said, "How is it that you ask for an invitation mantra from me? I can give you my very life and soul." The Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana, the Supreme instructing spiritual master of everyone, accepted an invitation from Sripada Puri, with an invitation mantra consisting of ten syllables. The Lord circumambulated Sirpada Puri, and said, "I have surrendered My life to you, please always look upon me with a merciful glance, so that I may always float in an ocean of love of Krishna." Sri Puripada was moved by the Lord's words and he embraced the Lord holding him close to his breast. The profuse tears of love flowed like torrents from their eyes drenching each other. The omniscient Supreme Lord remained in gaya for sometime distributing his mercy to Srila Puripada so profusely. The time was slowly approaching for the Lord to reveal to the world the reason for accepting this incarnation, his love for Krishna manifested increasingly day by day. One day the Lord sat in a solitary place chanting and meditating on his specific mantra. The lord was lost in the ecstatic world of meditation on the Supreme Lord, and when his consciousness returned he began lamenting and calling out to the Lord. His object of meditation. "O my Krishna, My dear Lord. O Lord Hari, you are my life and soul! You have stolen my heart, now which way have you run away" In which direction can I find My beloved Lord?" The Lord cried out in intense separation from his beloved Lord and wept bitterly.
The Lord was totally absorbed in relishing the nectar of love of Krishna and rolling on the ground, his body was covered with dust. He cried out as if greatly afflicted, "where is my beloved Krishna and where has he gone leaving me?" Lord Nimai so long was a grave and serious scholar teacher, now exhibited extreme restlessness becoming stunned by the arrow of love of God. He rolled about on the ground and cried out loudly and floated on the waves of ecstasy from intense separation from himself. Soon his students returned and treated the Lord with great care, they brought him back to normal condition. The Lord said, "all of you return to your homes, I do not want to go back to my family anymore. I am going to Mathura to find the beloved Lord of my heart. Sri Krishna Chandra." The students used all their intelligence and in various means they kept the Lord calm and still. The Lord of Vaikuntha was now in the mood of an unalloyed devotee, and He was constantly absorbed in love of God, His heart was all restless in separation from the Lord, he could not remain anywhere still. In the very early hours of one morning the Lord slipped out of the house without anyone's notice wanting to go to Mathura. He was in a state of ecstatic trance. He cried to Krishna as he walked on, "O Lord Krishna, My dear Lord, where can I find You?"
After some distance he heard the divine voice saying, "Do not proceed to Mathura now, the time will come then you will go to Mathura but for now return to Nabadwip, to your house. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the Vaikuntha planets. You have come into this material world with all your eternal associates to liberate the entire world, You will propagate the congregational chanting of the holy name of God all over the universe and distribute freely to everyone the most treasured object, love of Godhead. You are omniscient. You already know everything, we know the reason why you have descended to this material world. You have come to distribute the most desired object whose nectarine taste bewitches the mind of even Lord brahma, Lord Siva and Senatka and the other sages, and whose glories Lord Ananta Sesha continuously sings of. We are Your eternal servants it is our duty to remind you of Your incarnation, we place this request at your lotus feet. You are the maintainer of all living entities, the Supreme independent truth, no one can obstruct you from carrying out your own pure desires. So my Lord please return to your home and very shortly You shall go to Mathura."
The Lord Sri Gaura Sundara returned home feeling very happy after hearing the divine message. His pilgrimage over in Gaya the Lord returned back to Nabadwip with all his disciples for he was to begin the propagation of the holy name of God and distribute love of Godhead to everyone. After his return from gaya a definite change had come over the Lord. He felt ecstatic symptoms of Love of Godhead increasing in him day by day. Whoever hears this narration about the Lord going on a pilgrimage to Gaya with devotion and faith, Lord Gaura Chandra will appear in his heart.
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