SRI CAITANYA BHAGAVATA
Madhya Lila Chapter 16
All glory to Lord Gauracandra, the Supreme Lord of Lords, and all glory to the beloved devotees of Lord Visvambhara.
Lord Visvambhara was now in the midst of fully manifesting His Sankirtana movement with His associates in Navadvipa. Whole nights were passed dancing and performing kirtana behind closed doors, for such pastimes are not meant for the common materialistic men.
One day the Lord was engrossed in dancing in Srivasa Pandita's house. Unknown to anyone, Srivasa's mother-in-law had hidden herself behind baskets in a corner of the room. But what is the use of such hide-and-seek games? When there is a lack of devotional feeling, one is not fortunate enough to see the Lord's ecstatic dancing.
While dancing, the Lord repeatedly questioned, "Why do I not feel the usual exhilaration today?" The Lord is the Supersoul residing within everyone's heart. Yet knowing everything, He did not reveal anything, pretending ignorance.
He said in between His dancing, "I am not deriving any pleasure today. Is someone hiding inside this room somewhere?"
Srivasa Pandita went through the whole house looking for strangers but did not find anyone and reported that to the Lord. The devotees continued the kirtana but the Lord felt the same as before. He again stopped and said, "I am still not feeling the usual ecstasy. Maybe this is Krsna's wish."
The devotees were thrown into a whirlpool of mental agony. They said to each other, "There is none other than ourselves here, so probably due to some offense on our part, the Lord is not relishing His dancing today."
Srivasa Pandita went searching again but this time discovered his mother-in-law hiding behind the baskets. Srivasa Pandita is a sober person always submerged in loving devotion; he is never proud or cantankerous. But now he began to shake remembering Lord Visvambhara's displeasure. He ordered his mother-in-law to be taken away, pulled by her hair. This was done without the knowledge of anyone. Lord Visvambhara almost immediately began to feel the usual ecstasy while dancing. He said, "Now I can feel the ecstasy!" Srivasa Pandita was very happy to hear this, and laughing, he rejoined the kirtana.
The kirtana picked up momentum indicating the devotees' jubilant response; everyone was laughing and dancing. Lord Caitanya danced in divine pleasure, and Lord Nityananda danced around Him.
Lord Caitanya's pastimes are not visible to everyone - only to those fortunate souls who receive the Lord's special mercy.
On another occasion, Lord Caitanya while dancing suddenly stopped and looked about discontented. He said, "I am not feeling any joy from dancing today. I do not know what offenses I have committed against a Vaisnava." Everyone stopped and wondered what had gone wrong.
This incident is actually a sequel to something that happened earlier. Advaita Acarya is naturally a devotee of Lord Caitanya in the mood of servitorship. When Lord Caitanya would sit on the throne of Lord Visnu, Advaita Acarya would place the Lord's lotus feet on His head. And when the Lord began exhibiting His power and grandeur, Advaita Acarya was carried away on waves of bliss.
When the Lord says, "O Nada, you are My servant" Advaita Acarya becomes submerged in oceanic bliss.
Lord Caitanya's nature and position are inconceivable and cannot be understood; one moment He is the Supreme Autocrat, and the next moment He reaches out to embrace the feet of the Vaisnavas. Crying out in great humility, the Lord said, "O Krsna, My dearest Lord, You are My very life."
The Lord wept in such a pathetic manner that even the people with hearts of stone melted in pity; the Lord continuously manifested these devotional moods of servitorship. In front of everyone He discarded the omnipotent demeanor of the Supreme Lord, and acting contrary to the nature of His omniscient self, He inquired, "Have I done something due to lack of self-restraint or restlessness of mind? If so, then why was I not immediately put to death? Krsna is My life and soul, Krsna is My goal, and you are My brothers and friends birth after birth. Devotional service to Krsna is the ultimate destination. All of you kindly instill in Me this faith, otherwise I will become wayward."
All the devotees became perplexed with anxiety and no one could defy the Lord's words. At other times when the Lord was in His omnipotent mood, He Himself ordered the devotees to touch His lotus feet. But now acting out the pastime of a devotee of Krsna, the Lord upon seeing the Vaisnavas, took the dust from their feet offering them respect. This hurt the devotees intensely within, thus in order to mitigate their misery the Lord embraced them.
The Lord in such moods respected Advaita Acarya as a "guru"; this caused pain to the Acarya. Advaita Acarya found it difficult to serve the Lord since the Lord would not allow it. And on top of all this, the Lord considered Him as a "guru", and was begging for dust of His feet. So Advaita Acarya was always contemplating how to serve the Lord and become specially blessed by having the dust from the Lord's lotus feet on His head. Since this was impossible to have while the Lord was aware and conscious, He waited for the Lord to go into an ecstatic state of coma. Then, prostrating Himself He smeared the dust from the Lord's lotus feet on His head. Embracing His lotus feet He wept, bathing Them with His tears of love. Sometimes He wiped and cleaned His lotus feet on His head; on other occasions He offered the Lord full worship. All this was possible for Advaita to do only by the Lord's grace.
Thus one must understand that Advaita Acarya is foremost amongst the Lord's associates for He has received the Lord's blessings. The envious and anguished cannot appreciate such wonderful qualities in Advaita Acarya.
One day when Lord Visvambhara was dancing, Advaita Acarya was happily dancing while circumambulating Him. Suddenly Lord Caitanya fell down unconscious in the highest state of spiritual ecstasy. Advaita Acarya, seeing this as an opportunity, took the dust from the Lord's lotus feet and stealthily smeared it all over His body.
Lord Caitanya got up and again started dancing. But He did not feel the usual exultation. The Lord then said, "Why is My heart not revealing the reason for My dissatisfaction? Whom have I offended that I must be without joy? Which thief has stolen from Me, leaving me unable to dance in carefree ecstasy? Has anyone taken the dust from My feet? Kindly speak up, the truth. Do not worry; you have My assurance that nothing will happen."
When the devotees heard Lord Caitanya who was the Omniscient Supersoul within everyone's heart, they remained silent in fear. On one side they were afraid for Advaita Acarya, yet on the other hand if they did not speak the truth, it would be doomsday for them. Advaita Acarya understanding their dilemma, spoke up.
With folded hands Advaita Acarya said, "My dear Lord Caitanya, if a thief cannot have the treasure he seeks while the master is awake but unwilling, then the thief must steal it while the master is unable to know or see. I have stolen the dust from Your lotus feet; kindly forgive Me for this offense. I will not do it again if it dissatisfies You, My Lord."
Lord Caitanya became infuriated by Advaita's words, and under the pretext of angry words, the Lord revealed the transcendental qualities of Advaita Acarya. He said, "Even after You have annihilated the entire cosmos you feel not a touch of remorse. After that total devastation, only I remain. Now it seems that You will only be appeased after You have devastated Me as well! You do not destroy the sages, hermits, yogis or philosophers with Your trident? But those who approach You, humbly seeking Your grace - You catch Their feet and finish Them off!
"I am just a Vaisnava from Mathura, Vrndavana, (referring to Himself as Krsna), and I have come to pay My respects at Your lotus feet. Such a person should develop more attachment to Lord Visnu by seeing Your lotus feet, but instead You devastate whatever devotion He possesses. You have reduced His devotional wealth by taking from Him the dust of His feet. You are really heartless when it comes to destroying someone's devotion.
"Lord Krsna has gifted you with all the devotion available in this unlimited creation. Yet You steal from one with meager holdings. You have no compassion; You are really heartless when it comes to destroying someone's devotion."
The Lord spoke real facts about Advaita Acarya's transcendental character under the pretext of being angry, and all the devotees were enjoying the fun. The Lord continued, "You have been stealing, but do You think I am not able to do the same? Just wait, and learn how to steal from a thief!"
Then the Lord embraced Advaita Acarya, and catching His feet, He smeared the dust from His feet on His own body, laughing and laughing. Advaita Acarya's strength was no match for the lion-like Lord Gaurasundara as the Lord took His feet and rubbed Them on His head. He then placed His feet on His chest and said, "Now see how I have bound the thief on My lap. You tried to steal from Me, many many times, a little at a time, but I have now relieved You of everything with but one plunder."
Advaita Acarya said, "Whatever You say, My Lord, is true. You are the real proprietor of everything and I am an ignorant person. Everything belongs to You: My life, intelligence, mind and body. Who can protect Me once You decide to punish and destroy Me? You are the giver of happiness but You also mete out punishment. When Narada Muni travels to Dvaraka to pray at Your lotus feet, You in turn take the dust of his feet. When You want to finish off Your own devotees, then what can the devotee do? You are supposed to allow the devotees to take the dust from Your lotus feet, but that never happens! Who can defy Your instructions? Acting in this way does not prove Your Omnipotence. You might desire pleasure out of this, but it will surely destroy Me. Ultimately this body is Yours; You may do as You desire, You can keep it or destroy it."
Lord Visvambhara replied, "I serve Your feet because You are the keeper of the storehouse of devotional service. By smearing the dust of Your feet all over one's body, one attains love of Godhead, only if You distribute it. Know for certain that I am Your property in every respect. To tell the truth: You can sell Me anywhere."
The devotees marveled at seeing Lord Caitanya's extraordinary munificence towards Advaita Acarya. They were saying, "Truly the Lord has served Him, he is a very exalted personality. The mercy He received is far better than a million liberations. The mercy Advaita Acarya received from Lord Caitanya is scarcely attainable by even Lord Siva. We are also very fortunate to be able to associate with such an elevated devotee; let us also smear the dust from His lotus feet all over our bodies."
Only those who are suffering the reactions of their most degraded sinful activities cannot appreciate Advaita Acarya's position. All the activities of such personalities are absolute; cynics and doubters fall away from the righteous path.
Lord Visvambhara stood up chanting "Haribol" and all the devotees gathered around Him and started singing. Advaita Acarya was overwhelmed with a surge of ecstasy and He began to dance, running His fingers through His flowing beard, raising His voice as loud as thunder as His eyebrows were drawn together in a frown.
The devotees sang happily, "Jaya Krsna, Gopala, Govinda, Banamali." Lord Nityananda and Lord Caitanya danced in rapture, yet Lord Nityananda was always watchful of Lord Caitanya's movements. Anytime Lord Caitanya lost consciousness and started to fall, Lord Nityananda would stretch out His hands and prevent the Lord from falling.
Lord Caitanya's unlimited dancing is indescribable, and when He sang, both Saraswati devi and Lord Balarama united and manifested in His melodious singing, thus fully satisfying Him. The different ecstatic symptoms manifested one after another in His body: shivering, weeping, laughing, long and heavy breathing, feelings of total humility, feeling of immense arrogance, loss of consciousness, etc.
After awhile They sat upon the throne and laughed out loud with a booming sound. The Lord showered His grace over the different devotees according to their degree of spiritual realization, thereby carrying them away on waves of great bliss.
Now hear how Lord Gauranga showed His special mercy upon Suklambara Brahmacari, a native of Navadvipa who was then standing in front of the Lord. He was very righteous and peaceful, always performing his duties; no one knew what an exalted devotee he was. He went around Navadvipa town with a cloth bag over his shoulder, begging from house to house. He was constantly chanting Krsna's name. Tears streamed from his eyes while he recited the Lord's name.
People treated him with the usual disdain reserved for beggars, but the brahmana begged from everyone, even from impoverished dwellings. At the end of the day he collected everything, and after offering it to Krsna, he ate the remnants. By the grace of the holy name of Krsna, he never experienced the sad chills of poverty. Love of Krsna made him ever-blissful as he went to each door and chanted "Krsna". Who can recognize a devotee of Lord Caitanya other than a person who has received Lord Caitanya's mercy?
Suklambara, the poor and devoted brahmana was just like Sridama, Krsna's friend. He was always inside the house seeing Lord Caitanya dance; this was certainly the Lord's special mercy.
The Lord was seated on the throne in the mood of the Supreme Controller Godhead. He saw Suklambara Brahmacari join the dancing with a cloth bag hanging down from his shoulder. He was dancing with carefree glee; the Lord and the devotees enjoyed the sight and laughed. The munificent Lord addressed Suklambara endearingly, asking him to come nearer.
The Lord said, "Birth after birth you have been My impoverished devotee, offering Me everything and remaining a beggar yourself. I desire for your offerings all the time. And if you do not give it to Me, then I must take it by force. In Dvaraka I had snatched away the sack of chipped rice you kept concealed, and when I started eating from it, Rukmuni-devi took hold of My hand to stop Me."
The Lord then plunged His hand inside Suklambara's bag and pulled out handfulls of husked rice, putting them inside His mouth and chewing. Suklambara hastily said, "O Lord, what have You done? This rice is full of broken rice chips." The Lord replied, "I eat with delight your chipped rice pieces, but I will never accept or ask for even nectar from a non-devotee."
The Lord who is the life and soul of the devotees is fully independent and always submerged in the highest state of transcendental bliss. Who could forbid Him to eat the chipped rice? The devotees marveled at the Lord's unlimited compassion. Holding their heads in their hands, they wept profusely in joy, rolling about oblivious to everything, for they had never seen such kindness before.
The devotees started a jubilant kirtana chanting Krsna's holy name. Everyone, old and young joined with tears in their eyes. The devotees wanted to express their humility and joy. Some offered obeisances to the Lord, while others spoke saying, "O Lord, kindly never leave me."
Suklambara was feeling the highest ecstasy seeing the Lord of Vaikuntha merrily chewing on his chipped rice.
The Lord said, "O Suklambara Brahmacari, I eternally reside in your heart. I eat when you are eating, and when you go out begging, it is like I am going out for a walk. I have descended to distribute love of Godhead, and you are My eternal servitor birth after birth. I gift you now with loving devotional service, which is most dear to Me."
The Vaisnava assembly greeted these benedictory words with clamorous and joyous appreciation. Only the very righteous souls know the real essence of the begging activities of the Supreme Lord Narayana's servants. It is a real wonder that the Lord of the Goddess of Fortune is snatching and eating the chipped rice that has been gathered from many different houses by a poor begging brahmana.
The Lord Himself has instructed in the Vedas how to present Him with offerings of food using different mudras and mantras, without which the Lord refuses to accept anything. But the Lord Himself has transgressed these rules and regulations for the sake of His pure devotees. The living proof of this is the eating of Suklambara's chipped rice. Therefore, the conclusion is that loving devotion is the foremost of all rules, regulations and rituals. Rules and speculations are meant to be subservient and secondary to devotional service; those who are dissatisfied with this arrangement, fall down from the path of self-realization.
Srila Vedavyasa formulated in the Vedic literatures that devotional service is the source and root of all rules and regulations. Lord Gauranga now has directly substantiated this. The brahmana Suklambara did not voluntarily offer the rice using the required regulations of mudras, yet the Lord ate it with painstaking care.
Those materialists who have been blinded by the glitter of gold, position and family cannot recognize a Vaisnava devotee. Lord Krsna never accepts the offerings of those who ridicule a Vaisnava - seeing him only as a poor simpleton.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it says, "na bhajah kumani sinam sa jyam harir adhanatma-dhana-priyo rasa-jnah sruta-dhana-kula-karmanam madairye vidadhati param akincanesu satsu" [SB 4.31.21]
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead became very dear to those devotees who have no material possessions but are fully happy in possessing the devotional service of the Lord. Indeed the Lord relishes the devotional activities of such devotees. Those who are puffed-up with material education, wealth, aristocracy and fruitive activity are very proud of possessing many material things and they often deride the devotees. Even if such people offer the Lord worship, the Lord never accepts it."
The Vedas glorify Krsna as being the life of the materially impoverished and surrendered souls, and Lord Gauranga is personally demonstrating this by example. One who hears this narration of how Lord Caitanya ate Suklambara's rice will indeed attain loving devotion to Lord Caitanya's lotus feet.
Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu are my life and soul.
I, Vrndavana dasa, humbly offer this song at Their lotus feet.