Lord Caitanya's Prasadam Pastimes
BY: SUN STAFF
Dec 17, CANADA (SUN) The Sankirtan travels and prasadam pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
We have been inspired over the last few weeks by the ecstatic glorifications of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, written by the Lord's parishad associates and translated for the devotees by Sriman Kusakratha dasa. In keeping with this mood, today we begin a series on Lord Caitanya's pastimes associated with prasadam. Each day's segment will be accompanied by one (or several) of our favourite prasadam recipes. We will emphasize recipes for authentic regional dishes that are as closely associated as possible with the areas of Sri Caitanya's travels, in Bengal, Puri, Vrindavan, and elsewhere.
Due to the mercy of the Sampradaya Acaryas, we have the good fortune of being able to comprehend, in some small way, the transcendental lila of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Yuga Avatara who introduced the topmost means for attaining Krsna Consciousness in this age. Along with the chanting of the Hare Krsna mahamantra, Lord Caitanya introduced the preparation, offering and taking of Krsna Prasadam as part of the process of Krsna Consciousness.
During His manifest lila, Lord Caitanya personally demonstrated the ecstasies of chanting the Holy Names of the Lord. He also displayed many pastimes in regards to prasada from His early youth to His sankirtana era, when He played the role of a Sannyassi. The Lord's confidential devotees understood the intricacies of this incarnation, and realized how Lord Caitanya was simultaneously playing the role of an advanced devotee, a sanyassi, and at the same time was a direct incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna.
During many of His lila prasada pastimes, Mahaprabhu was acting in His capacity as a sannyassi. His associates would attempt to offer Him great quantities of wonderful preparations so that His mercy remnants could be freely distributed. Mahaprabhu would instead beg to be given austere foodstuffs fit for a sannyassi, but would always surrender and accept the devotees' offerings. At other times, Lord Caitanya was in His ecstatic state, relishing great quantities of sumptuous Krsna prasada, just as one would offer to the Deities in the temple.
By the mercy of the purports that accompany the following verses and descriptions of Lord Caitanya's prasada pastimes, we are given some very confidential insight not only into the role Sri Caitanya was playing at that time, but also into the pastimes that the Lord's devotees will be displaying in the future, as they engage in this process of Krsna Consciousness.
"Most of his contemporary biographers have mentioned certain anecdotes regarding Caitanya which are simple records of his early miracles. It is said that when he was an infant in his mother's arms he wept continually, and when the neighboring ladies cried Haribol he used to stop. Thus there was a continuation of the utterance of Haribol in the house, foreshewing the future mission of the hero. It has also been stated that when his mother once gave him sweetmeats to eat, he ate clay instead of the food. His mother asking for the reason, he stated that as every sweetmeat was nothing but clay transformed, he could eat clay as well. His mother, who was also the consort of a pandita, explained that every article in a special state was adapted to a special use. Earth, while in the state of a jug, could be used as a water pot, but in the state of a brick such a use was not possible. Clay, therefore, in the form of sweetmeats was usable as food, but clay in its other states was not. The lad was convinced and admitted his stupidity in eating clay and agreed to avoid the mistake in the future. Another miraculous act has been related. It is said that a brahmana on pilgrimage became a guest in his house, cooked food and read grace with meditation upon Krsna. In the meantime the lad came and ate up the cooked rice. The brahmana, astonished at the lad's act, cooked again at the request of Jagannatha Misra. The lad again ate up the cooked rice while the brahmana was offering the rice to Krsna with meditation. The brahmana was persuaded to cook for the third time. This time all the inmates of the house had fallen asleep, and the lad shewed himself as Krsna to the traveller and blessed him. The brahmana was then lost in ecstasy at the appearance of the object of his worship. It has also been stated that two thieves stole away the lad from his father's door with a view to purloin his jewels and gave him sweetmeats on the way. The lad exercised his illusory energy and deceived the thieves back towards his own house. The thieves, for fear of detection, left the boy there and fled. Another miraculous act that has been described is the lad's demanding and getting from Hiranya and Jagadisa all the offerings they had collected for worshiping Krsna on the day of Ekadasi. When only four years of age he sat on rejected cooking pots which were considered unholy by his mother. He explained to his mother that there was no question of holiness and unholiness as regards earthen pots thrown away after the cooking was over. These anecdotes relate to his tender age up to the fifth year."
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Prologue
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
The Story of Raghava's Bag
"The foods Damayanti cooked for Lord Caitanya when He was at Puri were carried in bags by her brother Raghava without the knowledge of others. The Lord accepted these foods throughout the entire year. Those bags are still celebrated as raghavera jhali ["the bags of Raghava Pandita"]. I shall describe the contents of the bags of Raghava Pandita later in this book. Hearing this narration, devotees generally cry, and tears glide down from their eyes."
Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 10:26-28
"The following summary of Chapter Ten is given by Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya. Before the Ratha-yatra ceremony, all the devotees from Bengal started for Jagannatha Puri as usual. Raghava Pandita brought with him various kinds of food for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The food had been cooked by his sister, whose name was Damayanti, and the stock was generally known as raghavera jhali. Makaradhvaja Kara, an inhabitant of Panihati who accompanied Raghava Pandita, was the secretary in charge of accounting for the raghavera jhali, the bags of food carried by Raghava Pandita.
The day when all the devotees arrived at Jagannatha Puri, Lord Govinda was enjoying sporting pastimes in the water of Narendra-sarovara. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also enjoyed the ceremony in the water with His devotees. As previously, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed the cleansing ceremony at Gundica and chanted the famous verse jagamohana-pari-munda yau. After kirtana ended, He distributed prasada to all the devotees and also took some Himself. Then He lay down at the door of the Gambhira to take rest. Somehow or other Govinda came by and massaged His feet. Govinda could not go out that day, however, and therefore he was unable to accept prasada. From the character of Govinda it is to be learned that we may sometimes commit offenses for the service of the Lord, but not for sense gratification.
Govinda, the personal servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, induced the Lord to eat all the food delivered by the devotees of Bengal for His service. All the Vaisnavas used to invite Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to their homes. The Lord accepted the invitation of Caitanya dasa, the son of Sivananda Sena, and ate rice and yogurt there."
Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya lila 10, Summary
"All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda Prabhu! All glories to Advaitacandra! All glories to all the devotees of Lord Caitanya!
The next year, all the devotees were very pleased to go to Jagannatha Puri [Nilacala] to see Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Advaita Acarya Gosani led the party from Bengal. He was followed by Acaryaratna, Acaryanidhi, Srivasa Thakura and other glorious devotees.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had ordered Lord Nityananda to stay in Bengal, but nevertheless, because of ecstatic love, Lord Nityananda also went to see Him.
Indeed, it is a symptom of real affection that one breaks the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, not caring for the regulative principles, to associate with Him.
During the rasa dance, Krsna asked all the gopis to return home, but the gopis neglected His order and stayed there for His association.
If one carries out Krsna's order, Krsna is certainly pleased, but if one sometimes breaks His order due to ecstatic love, that gives Him millions of times greater happiness.
Vasudeva Datta, Murari Gupta, Gangadasa, Sriman Sena, Sriman Pandita, Akincana Krsnadasa, Murari Gupta, Garuda Pandita, Buddhimanta Khan, Sanjaya Purusottama, Bhagavan Pandita, Suklambara Brahmacari, Nrsimhananda Brahmacari and many others joined together to go to Jagannatha Puri. It would be impossible to mention the names of them all.
The inhabitants of Kulina-grama and Khanda also came and joined. Sivananda Sena took the leadership and thus started taking care of them all.
Raghava Pandita came with bags full of food prepared very nicely by his sister, Damayanti.
Damayanti made varieties of unparalleled food just suitable for Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to eat. The Lord ate it continually for one year.
These are the names of some of the pickles and condiments in the bags of Raghava Pandita: amra-kasandi, ada-kasandi, jhala-kasandi, nembu-ada, amra-koli, amsi, ama-khanda, tailamra and ama-satta. With great attention, Damayanti also made dried bitter vegetables into a powder.
Do not neglect sukuta because it is a bitter preparation. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu derived more happiness from eating this sukuta than from drinking pancamrta [a preparation of milk, sugar, ghee, honey and curd].
Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He extracts the purpose from everything. He accepted Damayanti's affection for Him, and therefore He derived great pleasure even from the dried bitter leaves of sukuta and from kasandi [a sour condiment].
Because of her natural love for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Damayanti considered the Lord an ordinary human being. Therefore she thought that He would become sick by overeating and there would be mucus within His abdomen.
PURPORT: Because of pure love, the devotees of Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana, Vrajabhumi, loved Krsna as an ordinary human being like them. Yet although they considered Krsna one of them, their love for Krsna knew no bounds. Similarly, because of extreme love, devotees like Raghava Pandita and his sister, Damayanti, thought of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as a human being, but their love for Him was boundless. By overeating, an ordinary human being becomes prone to a disease called amla-pitta, which is a product of indigestion characterized by acidity of the stomach. Damayanti thought that such a condition would afflict Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Because of sincere affection, she thought that eating this sukuta would cure the Lord's disease. Considering these affectionate thoughts of Damayanti, the Lord was very pleased.
"A dear lover strung a garland and placed it on the shoulder of his beloved in the presence of her co-wives. She had raised breasts and was very beautiful, yet although the garland was tainted with mud, she did not reject it, for its value lay not in material things but in love."
Damayanti powdered coriander and anise seeds, cooked them with sugar and made them into small sweetmeats that were shaped like small balls.
She made balls of sweetmeats with dried ginger to remove mucus caused by too much bile. She put all these preparations separately into small cloth bags.
She made a hundred varieties of condiments and pickles. She also made koli-sunthi, koli-curna, koli-khanda and many other preparations. How many should I name?
She made many sweetmeats shaped like balls. Some were made with powdered coconut, and others looked as white as the water of the Ganges. In this way she made many varieties of long-lasting sugar confections.
She made long-lasting cheese, many varieties of sweetmeats with milk and cream, and many other varied preparations, such as amrta-karpura.
She made flat rice from fine, unboiled, sali paddy and filled a large bag made of new cloth.
She made some of the flat rice into puffed rice, fried it in ghee, cooked it in sugar juice, mixed in some camphor and rolled it into balls.
She powdered fried grains of fine rice, moistened the powder with ghee and cooked it in a solution of sugar. Then she added camphor, black pepper, cloves, cardamom and other spices and rolled it into balls that were very palatable and aromatic.
She took parched rice from fine paddy, fried it in ghee, cooked it in a sugar solution, mixed in some camphor and thus made a preparation called ukhda or mudki.
Another variety of sweet was made with fused peas that were powdered, fried in ghee and then cooked in sugar juice. Camphor was mixed in, and then the sweet was rolled into a ball.
I could not mention the names of all these wonderful eatables, even in a lifetime. Damayanti made hundreds and thousands of varieties.
Damayanti made all these preparations following the order of her brother, Raghava Pandita. Both of them had unlimited affection for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and were advanced in devotional service.
Damayanti took earth from the Ganges, dried it, powdered it, strained it through a fine cloth, mixed in aromatic ingredients and rolled it into small balls.
The condiments and similar items were put into thin earthen pots, and everything else was put into small cloth bags.
From small bags Damayanti made bags that were twice as large. Then with great attention she filled all the large ones with the small ones.
She then wrapped and sealed each and every bag with great attention. The bags were carried by three bearers, one after another.
Thus I have briefly described the bags that have become famous as raghavera jhali.
The superintendent for all those bags was Makaradhvaja Kara, who kept them with great attention like his very life.
Thus all the Vaisnavas from Bengal went to Jagannatha Puri. By chance, they arrived on the day when Lord Jagannatha performs pastimes in the water."
Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya lila 10:2-41
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
Bengali Kanchkolar Dom|
(Green Banana Curry)
4 green bananas
2 chopped green chilli
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 Tsp soyabean oil
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Salt to taste
Peel banana and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces. In a sauce pan add two cups of water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric. Add banana, boil for tree minutes. Drain water. In a little ghee, fry banana slices until both sides are brown. Peel and cube potatoes. Boil in salt water and drain. In a frying pan, heat a little ghee and fry the cumin seeds, then add green chilli, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom and 1/2 cup of water. Stir and fry until oil separates from spices. Add potatoes and fry 2 minutes. Add banana, salt, sugar, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of water. Cover cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Offer hot.