SRI CAITANYA BHAGAVATA
Madhya Lila Chapter 18
All glory to Lord Gauracandra, the benefactor of the world. Kindly offer Your lotus feet to be cushioned deep within my heart. You are the life and soul of Lord Nityananda and Svarupa Damodara Goswami. You are the abode of all excellences, and the protector of Your devotees. All glory to You and Your devotees!
One attains the highest perfection, love of Godhead by hearing the pastimes of Lord Caitanya as He gradually unfolded the transcendental mystery of the congregational chanting of Lord Krsna's holy name. Kindly hear those narrations of Madhya Khanda attentively as they reveal the pastime of Lord Visvambhara dancing dressed as Laksmi-devi, the Goddess of Fortune and eternal consort of Lord Narayana.
One day, Lord Visvambhara told His devotees that He wanted a dance drama arranged. He called for Buddhimanta Khan and instructed him, "Prepare a stage for a dance drama and get costumes, conch shells, bangles, brassieres, silk saris, ornaments and other items for everyone. Gadadhara Pandita will play the role of Rukmini-devi, and Brahmananda will be her old lady companion, Suprabhat. Nityananda will play My old grandmother, and Haridasa will play the guard responsible for waking everyone up. Srivasa will be Narada Muni, while Srirama will be the brahmana who is returning from his bath. Sriman insists on being the torch bearer. So Buddhimanta, go quickly and arrange everything. I want to dance."
Sadasiva Buddhimanta became very enlivened and happily went off to prepare the necessary arrangements. He retrieved the canopy made in Kathiar just for such occasions, and then built a nice enclosure and stage. He also brought different costumes and placed them before the Lord. Lord Visvambhara was pleased with the costumes and He said, "Today I will dance as the potency and consort of the Supreme Lord. Only those who are in control of their senses can enter the house to see the performance; others are not to enter." At first when they heard that Lord Visvambhara will dance as Laksmidevi they were excited and happy. But later when the Lord again repeated these conditions He had set, the Vaisnavas became depressed in spirit.
The first person to react was Advaita Acarya. He drew a line on the floor and said, "I cannot see the dance today. I fall into the category of persons with uncontrolled senses, so I have no business seeing the dance." Srivasa Pandita joined in saying, "Yes, I feel the same way too." Lord Caitanya gave a short laugh and said, "If you do not come, then for whom am I to dance?" Lord Caitanya, the Supremely scintillating actor reviewed His instructions and said, "None of you should worry; today you will be like the most perfected and self-controlled yogis. You will not be attacked by delusion watching My dance."
Advaita Acarya and Srivasa Pandita became merry once again among the other Vaisnavas, and all followed the Lord to Candra Sekhara Acarya's house. Mother Sacidevi accompanied Laksmipriya; the relatives of all the Vaisnavas also went to attend Lord Caitanya's dance performance which they heard would be unique, with Lord Caitanya acting the part of Laksmi-devi. Candra Sekhara Acarya was indeed a very fortunate soul to have Lord Caitanya reveal such an unprecedented pastime in his house.
Lord Caitanya sat down with all the devotees and allocated different roles to them. Advaita Acarya with folded hands enquired repeatedly, "Which role do You want me to play?" The Lord replied, "All the roles are at your disposal, choose any one you like." Advaita Acarya was at a loss about which role to play, he made the usual grimaces and danced about, floating on clouds of ecstasy. The other Vaisnavas began a jubilant melodious Krsna kirtana led by Mukunda who sang with a clear charming voice, "Sing Rama, Krsna, Hari, Gopala, Govinda."
The first to enter the drama arena was Haridasa Thakura, dressed as a guard brandishing a fully grown flowing mustache, a turban tied around his head, and a piece of cloth tied tightly around his waist. With an ominous looking stick he warned everyone, "Hear now! Hear now! My brothers, look sharp and sit up. The Lord and soul of the universe, Sri Caitanya will now dance as Laksmi-devi." He wriggled his stick and paced about, his body horripilating in loving sentiments for Krsna which stirred in others the same spiritual emotions. With a loud and arrogant voice he declared, "Worship Lord Krsna, render service unto Him, and chant His holy names."
The devotees broke out in roaring laughter seeing this new appearance of Haridasa and asked, "Who are You; what are You doing here?" Haridasa Thakura replied, "I am a guard in Vaikuntha. I travel everywhere continuously to awaken Krsna consciousness in everyone. The Supreme Lord has left His eternal abode, Vaikuntha to come here to indiscriminately and profusely distribute love of Godhead. Today He will dance in the role of Laksmi-devi, so you should diligently greedily collect love of Godhead." Saying this he twirled his handlebar mustache, and moved about the arena stomping and loudly exclaiming with his partner Murari Gupta. Both these devotees are pure loving servants of Krsna, and indeed Lord Gauracandra is always residing within them.
Soon Srivasa Pandita entered the arena dressed as Narada Muni, looking very joyful. He had a long white beard and his body was decorated with little dots of sandalwood paste. Hung over his shoulders he carried his vina and he held kusa grass in his hands while looking all around standing in the middle of the arena. Ramai Pandita followed him in with a folded sitting mat under his arm carrying a renunciate's water pot. Ramai spread the mat for Narada to sit on. It seemed as though Narada himself had appeared in person.
The devotees were impressed with Narada's makeup, and laughed in appreciation, but Advaita spoke up in a loud grave voice, "Who are you and what brings you here?" Srivasa replied, "Listen carefully to my narration. Narada is my name; I am a singer. I sing about Krsna, and I travel the length and breath of this unlimited cosmos. I went to Vaikuntha in search of Krsna, but there I was advised that Krsna had gone to Navadvipa. There I noticed that the houses were empty, and practically no one was to be seen. I could not remain in a deserted place, even if that place was Vaikuntha. Therefore I remembered my Lord, and came here. Today, my Lord is here dancing, dressed as Laksmi-devi. And that is why you find me here." When Srivasa finished speaking the Vaisnavas had no doubt that in speech, looks, action and character Srivasa was truly the same person as Narada. The devotees greeted him with loud applause.
Mother Saci was sitting with the other pure and pious ladies, drinking the nectar of the Krsna consciousness that flowed freely in the play. She asked Malini devi, "Is that there the Pandita, your good husband?" Malini replied, "Indeed it is." Saci devi is the mother of the universe, she marveled at Srivasa Pandita's present appearance, and feeling uncontrollable joy she fell down unconscious. Everyone was amazed at this wonderful sight. The ladies around her chanted Krsna's name into her ears and slowly she regained consciousness. Then remembering Krsna, Govinda, she again became spiritually restless making it difficult for the ladies to hold her still. Inside and outside the house, people were moved by wonderful spiritual emotions and they wept oblivious to everything.
Inside the dressing room, Lord Visvambhara had finished dressing, but suddenly He was overcome and captured by the emotions and moods of Rukmini devi. The Lord forgot Himself, thinking and feeling like the princess of Vidarbha, Rukmini devi. He wanted to write a letter to Krsna for help. The tears that rolled down His cheek became His ink. mother earth the paper, and His finger the pen. He wrote down the seventh verse of Rukmini devi's letter to Krsna from the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Those who were present read the words with moistened eyes. So now hear the explanation of this verse by which the Supreme Lord becomes one's husband, their only beloved and protector.
They read: "Srutva gunan bhuvana-sundara srnvatamte nirvisya karnavivaraharato ngatapam rupam drsam drsilmatan akhilartha tabham tvayyaeyutavisati cittamapatrapam me." as in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [verse 10.52.37].
Lord Caitanya started speaking with the emotion and mood of Rukmini devi. He said, "O My matchless beauty, when I heard of Your qualities all the material miseries that set me on fire were extinguished. The sight of Your charming face is the rarest treasure in the world; only those who are given the eyes to see this wonderful sight by Your mercy are able to see.
"O lion-hearted Yadu king, Your fame has fanned my heart's desire to reach out to You. What chaste maiden in this universe could resist the attraction of Your lotus feet if she but once had the opportunity to worship You. In Your absence, erudition, aristocracy, character, wealth, beauty, behavior and household all seem empty and futile.
"O Supreme Lord, forgive me for my shamelessness, but I cannot restrain my yearning heart from rushing out to meet You. Thus I have earned Your lotus feet, and I offer my mind, intelligence, my very life to You. Now kindly make me Your maid servant by accepting me as Your wife. Let it not be my fate to become the object of Sisupala's pleasure.
"O Lord, let me become Your property so that what is meant for the lion may not be usurped by the jackal. If I have truly worshiped the gods, performed austerities, honored the brahmanas and guru, and served the lotus feet of Acyuta, Visnu, then let the Lord who holds the mace become my eternal master and drive Sisupal out of my life forever. This is the only favor I ask of You. Tomorrow I am supposed to wed this Sisupal, so come immediately without delay. At first remain secretly near the palace in hiding, then with Your army enter the palace assembly. You must take me with valor and might from the midst of such kings as Chedi, Salva, Jarasandha.
"This is the opportunity to show off Your ksatriya pride and strength because Your wife is not meant to be desecrated by Sisupal. You have to kidnap me from amongst my friends and relatives, so You must be careful not to harm them. I have a plan how this can be accomplished, and I place it for Your approval at Your lotus feet. It is customary in our family that the bride-to-be visits the temple of Durga devi on the day prior to her marriage. This is the best chance for You to kidnap me without hurting my friends. Forgive me, my Lord, if I sound offensive. The dust of Your lotus feet is covered by all the demigods and goddesses, even Lord Siva desires to cover his body with this dust, and if You do not offer me the same as a token of Your mercy then I will surely take an oath to quit this body. O my lotus-eyed Lord, please listen. I am willing to go through as many life-times as required, but I must receive the dust of Your lotus feet. You have heard carefully, O brahmana? Now run swiftly to Krsna with this message, and beg Him on my behalf."
Thus the Lord manifested Rukmini's mood and emotions making the devotees sometimes weep and at other times laugh. All this was happening under the influence of love of Godhead. Candra Sekhara's house reverberated with jubilant sounds of Lord Hari's name. Haridasa continued his duty as the guard who wakes everyone up, and Srivasa Pandita playing Narada Muni continued dancing.
The first scene ended on this merry note. The second scene commenced with Gadadhara Pandita entering the arena with an old lady companion, acted by Brahmananda. Brahmananda was so well-costumed that he was unrecognizable in his role as the old lady with a stick in one hand, a basket clamped under the other arm, and a net-like cloth draped over her shoulders. Haridasa inquired, "Who are you?"
Brahmananda replied, "Mathura is our destination."
Srivasa Pandita probed further, "Who are your husbands?"
Brahmananda rallied, "Why must you know that?"
Srivasa said, "Is it not proper to ask?"
Brahmananda simply said, "Yes, yes," and shook his head.
Gangadasa said, "Where will you stay today".
Brahmananda replied, "Why, will you give us a place?"
Gangadasa said, "That is a big request. No need for further discussions. You should move along."
Advaita Acarya said, "What is the necessity for such interrogations? Others' wives are to be respected as one's mother, so why then behave in this manner? My Lord is extremely fond of singing and dancing. So dance here, and you will receive handsome rewards."
Advaita Acarya's words were soothing to Gadadhara Pandita, and being encouraged and pleased he began to dance. He was dressed as Rama (Laksmi-devi), and his dancing was enrapturing, as the devotees sang appropriate songs in accompaniment. The devotees were unable to remain still, moved to tears by Gadadhara's ecstatic dancing. Gadadhara's tears of love of Godhead cascaded down to be gratefully received by the more than fortunate mother earth. It was as if Ganga devi in person had appeared. Indeed she is the transcendental internal potency of Lord Krsna. Lord Caitanya so often said, "Gadadhara is My wife from Vaikuntha."
Those who were present in that assembly, both the performing artists as well as the audience were enraptured in love of Godhead by the mercy of Lord Caitanya. Lord Hari's name was being chanted loudly all around accompanied by weeping in loving ecstasy. Gadadhara Pandita steeped in the mood of a gopi danced and danced.
Just then Lord Visvambhara entered the arena dressed as the original pleasure potency of the Lord, Radharani. In front, Lord Nityananda, as the old grandmother Paurnamasi walked slightly bent looking shrewdly about, her whole demeanor exuding ecstatic love for Krsna. They were greeted from the Vaisnava assembly with loud jubilant applause.
It was impossible to recognize Lord Caitanya because He had dressed Himself very well and looked most charming. The viewers just saw two ladies - the elderly lady played by Nityananda Prabhu and the young enchantress played by Lord Caitanya. Nothing indicated their actual identities, but the audience tried to guess that one must be Lord Caitanya. But which one?
They started wondering had She, Rama just now appeared out of the ocean, or was it Sita devi, the consort of Lord Ramacandra? Maybe She was Maha Laksmi the eternal consort of Lord Narayana, or was She the wife of Lord Siva, Parvati devi? Or is She the most precious gem of Vrndavana, Srimati Radharani; or Ganga devi or compassion or Mahamaya?
So each one imagined according to their belief without recognizing the Lord. Persons who have known the Lord since birth were also fully deceived, what to speak of others not knowing who it was. Even mother Sacidevi failed to recognize her own son. She said, "She must be Laksmi devi Herself, come here to dance." The consort and pleasure potency of the Lord, Srimati Radharani is inconceivable; Lord Hari, the Supreme Lord Himself is now playing Her part.
This bewitching form of the Lord's potency and consort had put Lord Siva and Parvati devi into this same delusion. However because of the Lord's special grace the assembled Vaisnavas did not experience the same delusion. He showered His unlimited compassion on the Vaisnavas like a mother tending her young ones. All the devotees felt that She was their mother on a visit from the Spiritual realm. Their exultations were unreserved, making them forget themselves. Advaita and all the devotees were swept away on waves of spiritual bliss in love of Godhead seeing their beloved Lord dressed in the role of Laksmi-devi.
Lord Visvambhara as Laksmi devi was the universal Mother, and as She danced, being overtaken by different emotions, singers sang appropriate songs complementing the Lord's moods. The devotees could never discern with certainty what and whose spiritual emotions were being manifest in the Lord's dancing. When the Lord suddenly asked, "O brahmana, has Krsna arrived?" then they understood that the Lord was Rukmini devi, the Princess of Vaikuntha. When cascading tears decorated the Lord's emotions, then the Vaisnavas seemed to think that the Lord was Ganga devi in person. And when the Lord roared with ear-splitting laughter they assumed that He was the ferocious form of Mahamaya, Durga devi.
At times when He danced, swaying and spinning like a drunken lady they thought that He was Revati, wife of Lord Balarama. Another time when the Lord said, "O grandmother! Come let us go to Vrndavana." The Vaisnavas guessed that He was none other than a gopi from Vrndavana. When the Lord sat on the Deities' throne, the Vaisnavas recognized Him as the powerful Goddess Controller of the material nature, Durga devi. One by one the Lord played the roles of His different eternal potencies.
In addition to performing these transcendental pastimes for everyone's pleasure, the Lord simultaneously gave spiritual instructions through them: no one should at any time criticize or diminish the position of His energies that are manifested in the various demigods and goddesses. By showing proper love and reverence to them one strengthens his devotion and love for Krsna. Lord Krsna is unhappy if His devotees, the demigods and goddesses are offended; Krsna becomes very content if He is offered worship along with His energies and associates. These instructions of the Supreme Lord are the Absolute Truth. Only the impious are unable to receive and implement them.
The Lord's dancing completely captivated everyone's mind and heart. Whether someone was singing in accompaniment, or just listening and watching His dancing, they all experienced sublime joy. Spontaneous tears of love of Godhead rained from the eyes of all the assembled Vaisnavas. The Lord saw with great pleasure His devotees who are like the honeysuckle bees attracted by the nectar of His lotus feet, always happily buzzing around Him. The Lord displayed all the ecstatic devotional symptoms like shivering, perspiring profusely, horripilating, weeping etc. Simultaneously as He danced He held Lord Nityananda's hand.
Sriman Pandita stood in front holding a lamp, and Haridasa went around calling everyone's attention. Just then, Lord Nityananda fell to the ground unconscious, unconcerned about His grandmother costume and His role as Paurnamasi. He was overwhelmed by Krsna's love. The devotees looked on in amazement at this wonder and became restless with ecstatic feelings. They began to weep feeling the overpowering influence of Krsna's love. All this was being done unseen by Lord Gauranga as some devotees rolled on the ground, others embraced one another, and still others wept loudly in great joy.
Lord Caitanya at this juncture took hold of Gopinatha and sat down with him on Lord Visnu's throne manifesting once again the mood of Maha Laksmi. As the devotees stood around Him with folded hands He said, "Chant prayers to glorify Me." The devotees discerning the Lord's mood offered their eulogies: some recited prayers to Laksmi devi, others to Candi Durga, each according to his realization.
"All glory to the Universal Mother, Mahamaya devi. Kindly give the shelter of Your lotus feet to the miserable and suffering living entities. You are the controlling mistress of the entire material system and You appear in every millennium to uphold the principles of religion. Even Lord Brahma, the creator, Lord Visnu the maintainer, and Lord Siva the destroyer of this material cosmic structure are incompetent to fully describe Your unlimited potencies, what to speak of anyone else.
"You are the personification of this material nature and the possessor of all energies; You are faith, compassion, shame and the embodiment of pure devotion to Lord Visnu, Krsna - so all branches of learning are Your multifarious manifestations.
"The Vedas describe You as the Original energy. You appear to be within this material nature consisting of the three modes, because You are its cause; but in fact You are always situated in a transcendental position. Even Lord Brahma is unable to fathom You.
"You are the eternal, never-changing, original, supreme energy, the shelter and resting place of all living beings, the universal Mother who sustains everyone. You are matchless and unrivaled. You are the life-sustaining water, and one can sever the bonds of material existence by remembering You. You appear also as the blessed Mother, Laksmi, the eternal consort of Lord Narayana in the homes of the pious and righteous - but to the sinful, You manifest as all-devouring death.
"You are the creator and maintainer of this gigantic cosmos; and the living entities who ignore You, not offering You worship are punished by the three-fold miseries. You inspire pure faith in the devotee. Kindly shelter me in the shade of Your lotus feet. Your illusory potency has kept the entire creation in a trance, and if You do not protect me, then who will? You appear in the material world to deliver the living entities. Kindly accept the suffering millions as Your eternal servants. You are the object of Lord Brahma's prayers, and by remembering You one attains all perfection."
With these chosen phrases the Vaisnavas appeased Lord Caitanya now in the guise of Maha Laksmi. Then prostrating themselves repeatedly before the Lord they again began to pray to Him, "O Mother, we are all surrendered to You. Kindly look upon us graciously so that we may remain with our minds fixed on Your lotus feet." A wave of joy swept over the devotees and they raised their arms and began to weep. The ladies were also caught up in this joyous wave, and they joined in with tears of bliss drowning Candra Sekhara's house with unlimited happiness.
When everyone was thus engrossed in such spiritual merriment night had crept in stealthily and then left just as unnoticed by the Vaisnavas. Suddenly the brilliant sunrise greeted them; they realized that the night had passed in singing and dancing. But now the dancing had come to an abrupt stop. The devotees looked around perplexed and then began to bitterly regret the passing of the wonderful night. The grief-laden eyes of the Vaisnavas who looked upon the intruding morning sun would have turned it to ashes if not for the mercy of Lord Caitanya. The devotees and the ladies were weeping in great anguish and throwing themselves on the ground.
Vaisnava ladies are not to be considered in any way inferior. They are in fact partial expansions of Narayana's potency. These ladies could not be consoled - the night was gone, a night filled with such sublime ecstasy. They all fell at Sacidevi's feet. Pure devotees should be easily moved to tears because of their long association with pure devotional service.
The devotees lamented, "Oh, why did this night have to end? Why is Krsna depriving us of this sublime nectar?" When Lord Caitanya saw that the Vaisnavas were grief stricken He felt compassion for them. Just as a mother feels affection for her son, Lord Caitanya felt that same motherly affection for His devotees. The Lord called everyone one at a time, and as a mother breast feeds her infants, so He breast fed the devotees with milk through His mystic potency. The Supreme Personality of Godhead now accepted the role of His devoted energies, Laksmi devi, Parvati, and Narayani the universal Mother. The Lord proved His own words recorded in the Bhagavad-gita "pita ahaur asya jagato mata dhata pitamahah" [Verse 9.17]
"I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support, and the grandsire."
These devotees who could happily suck this extraordinary milk from the Lord are eternally liberated souls. Their good fortune is immeasurable. As they drank the milk their acute feeling of separation dissipated and once again they were intoxicated with sublime joy. The Lord's pastimes are eternal and are perpetually happening without interruption; they simply manifest at a certain time then disappear by the Lord's will just as it is explained in the Vedas.
The Supreme Lord of Lords, Visvambhara manifested such wonderful pastimes in Navadvipa.
The most precious knowledge of the Vedas was exposed in Lord Caitanya's dancing as the Gopika of Vrndavana. And Lord Nityananda accompanied the Lord as the elderly grandmother Paurnamasi. Sincerely hearing these narrations will result in immediate loving attachment for Lord Krsna.
Lord Nityananda supported in every respect the moods of Lord Caitanya as He danced as a gopi. One who is devoid of devotional feelings will never relish such spiritual exchanges. One must be graced by Lord Krsna, only then can one comprehend the real absolute identity of Lord Nityananda. One may consider Lord Nityananda as a mere yogi, an experienced philosopher, a devotee or whatever one might think according to their spiritual realization; and one may even doubt that Lord Nityananda is dear most to Lord Caitanya, yet still I pray that the lotus feet of my Lord be ever-situated on the throne of their heart.
But in spite of my Lord Nityananda being so merciful, if He is criticized, then I kick that wretched sinner in the head.
These topics as narrated in the Madhya Khanda were indeed streams of nectar for they describe the extraordinary pastimes of how the Supreme Lord Narayana danced with the emotions and sentiments of His eternal consort Sri Laksmi devi. Dressed as the Universal Mother He taught the process of pure devotional service and satisfied everyone's desire by suckling them with breast milk.
The Lord remained for seven days in Candra Sekhara's house. The Lord was always enveloped in an extremely brilliant halo much more powerful than the combined energies of the sun, moon and lightning. The fortunate and righteous men, the pure devotees could behold the Lord in His marvelous opulence.
People who came to visit Candra Sekhara's house were blinded by this brilliant illumination and could not keep their eyes open. People started commenting, "What can be the cause that we cannot open our eyes in Candra Sekhara's house?" The Vaisnavas heard their comments and smiled internally, not revealing anything.
Lord Caitanya's Supreme potency is such that no ordinary person can understand His transcendental activities with His devotees and associates.
Sri Krsna Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu are my life and soul.
I, Vrndavana dasa, humbly offer this song at Their lotus feet.