SRI CAITANYA BHAGAVATA
Madhya Lila Chapter 9
Lord Sri Gauracandra is the controller of the universe, and He accepted the garb of a sannyasi not for His own sake, but for everyone's benefit.
All glory to the son of Jagannatha Misra and Mother Saci, and all glory to His sankirtana movement.
All glory to Lord Caitanya, the very life of Lord Nityananda and Gadadhara Pandita. He is the most beloved of Advaita and Srivasa Pandita, Jagadananda Pandita, Haridasa Thakura, Vakreswara Pandita, Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Vasudeva and Srigarbha.
Be merciful, O Lord, and look upon every living entity graciously. May the Lord and all His associates be glorified, for when hearing about the pastimes of Lord Caitanya one immediately attains the supreme goal of bhakti, love of God.
Please listen intently to the narration of Madhya Khanda because it depicts pastimes of Lord Caitanya. Now hear the descriptions of Lord Caitanya's "Mahaprakasa" lila or great revelation, for this fulfills the desire of all Vaisnavas.
The Lord manifested the glorious "Sat Praharia bhava" or twenty-one hour long devotional emotions. In this pastime, He wonderfully revealed His different incarnations, extraordinary feats of feasting, and freely gave away pure love of Godhead to the devotees. All the Vaisnavas honored the Lord in a grand bathing ceremony known as "Raja Rajeswar", fit only for the most powerful kings of the universe.
One day, Lord Gaurasundara came to Srivasa Pandita's house accompanied by Lord Nityananda who was beside Himself with joy. Gradually all the Vaisnavas assembled there. Lord Gaurasundara, who was then fully engrossed within Himself, looked about Him as a regal personality surveys their surroundings with intensely powerful glances. The devotees could perceive the Lord's mood, and immediately they started a loud kirtana.
On other days the Lord would dance in the ecstasy of a devotee servant of the Supreme Lord. Then, changing that mood momentarily, He revealed His identity as the omnipotent Supreme Lord. That mood also would quickly change, and He would again revert back to the mood of a devotee. But today, to the good fortune of the assembled devotees, the Lord stood up as if to dance as usual, but instead He sat on the throne of Lord Visnu.
On previous occasions the Lord would sit on Lord Visnu's throne, immersed in devotional ecstasy as though unaware of His own conduct. Not so today. Today He did not cover His real identity with the cloak of His internal energy; but instead, He sat on the throne continuously for twenty-one hours. The devotees stood in front of Him with folded hands, their hearts effervescent with joy. It was a wonderful sight - the devotees were fully content. They spontaneously expressed that they felt like they were in Vaikuntha.
And so it was: the Lord sat amidst them all, like the Lord of Vaikuntha. Everyone present became totally free from the influence of the illusory material potency.
Lord Caitanya instructed, "Sing that bathing song". The devotees were very pleased and they began to sing. The Lord gently swayed His head sideways in time with the song, and showered the devotees with His merciful glances. The devotees now could serve the Lord's mood, and they desired to perform His 'abhiseka' or bathing ceremony.
The devotees brought water from the Ganga. First they strained the Ganga water. Then they added musk, sandal paste, saffron and camphor into it proportionately, preparing everything with increasing love for the Lord. They began the ceremony with jubilant shouts and started chanting appropriate mantras.
Lord Nityananda was the first to pour water on the Lord's head. He kept repeating "Jaya, jaya!" as He poured with great pleasure. Other leading devotees like Advaita Acarya and Srivasa Pandita bathed the Lord, chanting the famous "Purusa Sukta" prayers. The devotees of Lord Gauranga are very well-versed in the science of the scriptures and the chanting of Vedic hymns, so they poured water accompanying it with mantras.
Mukunda and others were sweetly singing the bathing ceremony song, and other devotees wept or danced with overwhelming happiness. The upright and chaste wives were ululating with joy. The entire assembly was immersed in an ocean of bliss. The Lord of Vaikuntha, Lord Gauranga remained seated as the devotees one by one poured water on His head, bathing the Lord. Usually on such religious occasions 108 pots of water were supposed to be required, but today it far exceeded that number.
Even the demigods came there, not wanting to miss the opportunity to make more spiritual progress. But they were disguised, so as not to be recognized.
Offering even a drop of water to the Lord's lotus feet, even in meditation, is sufficient to ward off punishments given out by the demigod of death - what to speak of the good fortune of the people who were able to bathe the Lord directly, who were present there in person.
All the servants and maid servants in Srivasa Pandita's house were also engaged in bringing water for the Lord. The wonderful result that one enjoys from serving the Lord was amply proved by this one incident. One of the maid servants, a pious woman named "Dukkhi" (sad), was one of the water carriers. The Lord saw her actively engaged and told her, "Bring, bring more." The Lord was so impressed with her devotional service attitude that He changed her name to 'Sukhi' or happy, indicating He had taken away her distress.
Having bathed the Lord, accompanied with the chanting of Vedic mantras, the devotees dried the Lord's body. They dressed Him in fresh new clothes, and smeared His transcendental and exquisite body with fragrant sandalwood paste. They cleaned Lord Visnu's throne and arranged everything properly, and the Lord sat on the throne which was truly His. Lord Nityananda held the umbrella over the Lord's head while one of the more fortunate devotees began to whisk the Lord with a 'camara'. The devotees collected the paraphernalia for offering worship to the Lord, and began to worship Him.
Their offering tray was packed with charanamrita, fruits, acamani, incense, fragrant oil, lamp, new clothes, brahmana's thread, etc. As customary, they worshiped Him with sixteen ingredients. Applying sandalwood paste on Tulasi manjaris, they offered it at His lotus feet. The Gopala mantra consisting of ten syllables was chanted while they offered worship, following strictly the rules of this particular ritual ceremony. All the devotees were offering their prayers to Him.
All the stalwart associates of the Lord, like Advaita Acarya Prabhu fell before the Lord's feet like rods and offered full obeisances to Him. All the devotees were experiencing spiritual love for the Supreme Lord, and tears cascaded down their cheeks, mingling and flowing like a river. They constantly chanted verses eulogizing the Lord. The Lord heard everything with great satisfaction.
They prayed "All glory to the Lord of the Universe. Kindly direct Your merciful glance on this world now ablaze with the three-fold sufferings. All glory to the original cause of everything, the maintainer of everyone. You have advented to inaugurate the congregational chanting of the Holy Name. You establish the Sanatana Dharma of the Vedas. You are the protector of the pious, and the Original Soul of all fourteen worlds.
"All glory to Lord Caitanya for He is the redeemer of the most-fallen souls, an ocean of transcendental qualities, and the Supreme shelter of the meek and poor. All glory to Lord Caitanya who is Vrajendra-Nandana-Krsna who expands to Lord Visnu, and lies on the ocean of milk as Ksirodakasayi Visnu. He appears as an incarnation for the pleasure of His devotees.
"All glory to Lord Gauranga who is the Original Absolute - inconceivable, imperceptible. He is always transcendentally situated, the compassionate Supreme Person. All glory to Lord Caitanya who was born in a family of brahmanas, as the crest-jewel of that class, to liberate the entire brahmana population. He is the origin of the Vedic religion - the life and soul of every living entity. All glory to Lord Caitanya who saved Arjuna from an inglorious death. He gave liberation to the demoness Putana. All glory to Lord Caitanya who never sees the faults of living entities. He is the husband of the Goddess of Fortune." With such chosen words the devotees praised the Lord.
The Lord's servitors were drowning in an ocean of bliss seeing Lord Caitanya manifest this extraordinary mood. The Lord mercifully removed the veil of maya from everyone's heart and offered His lotus feet to be worshiped by His devoted servitors. Some devotees brought sweetly perfumed oil and smeared it on the Lord's lotus feet; others worshiped Him with an offering of tender tulasi leaves. Again more came offering precious gems, gold and silver ornaments, paying obeisances at His feet. Many valuable gifts were offered to the Lord such as white, blue and bright yellow silken clothing. A variety of precious metal containers were placed in offering at the lotus feet of the Lord. The gifts were countless.
All the household servants in Srivasa Pandita's house, by dint of serving a pure Vaisnava, could now directly serve Lord Gauracandra's lotus feet which are desired by all. Even Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and Laksmi-devi aspire for that opportunity.
They offered many items of worship to the Lord without fear or hesitation, since the Lord had removed His reverential mood. They brought unhusked rice, tulasi, durba grass, musk, saffron, camphor and varieties of fruits, fragrant blossoms, sandalwood and placed them at His lotus feet. Each one worshiped according to his heart's inclination following different rules of worship.
Then Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord of Vaikuntha exhibited another of His extraordinary pastimes. He said to the devotees, "Get Me something - I want to eat," and held out His hand. Whatever the devotees offered, He ate.
The different Vaisnavas brought a variety of foodstuffs to eat: banana, mung dhal, yogurt, sweet condensed milk, butter, and milk. They placed it in the Lord's hands, and He undisturbedly ate everything. Some of the devotees hurried to the market and rushed back with the choicest articles. They offered the Lord coconuts, a variety of milk sweets in huge quantities, black berries, green melons, and sugar cane. Some even brought water from the Ganga. The Lord ate everything. Seeing that the Lord was happily eating everything they offered, they presented generous helpings of more delicacies, many times over. Hundreds of devotees gave gallons of Ganges water, and the Lord, who is the greatest of the mystics, drank it all.
Hundreds of barrels of yogurt, sweet condensed milk, milk, hundreds of bunches of bananas, huge amounts of mung dhal, mountains of milk sweet preparations, camphor, betel, fruits and nuts were instantly consumed by the Lord in front of the amazed and perplexed devotees.
The Lord contentedly ate everything offered to Him, and in turn He revealed all the details of the devotees' past lives. When the devotees heard their individual stories, they remembered their earlier days and fell to the ground in ecstasy.
The Lord addressed Srivasa Pandita, "Do you remember: you used to hear lectures on the Srimad-Bhagavatam at Devananda Pandita's house? Every line of the Bhagavatam is saturated with the nectar of divine love of Godhead, so your heart melted when hearing those recitations from the Bhagavatam. You had cried loudly and had fallen unconscious to the ground. The neophyte and ignorant students there, not knowledgeable in the matters of bhakti yoga, could not understand the reason for your extraordinary behavior.
"You were so engrossed within yourself in the ecstasy of love of Krsna, oblivious to the external world, that you did not even know that they had carried you outside. Devananda Pandita, their teacher witnessed the entire happening without dissuading his students. Since he himself was inexperienced in the science of Krsna consciousness, it is expected that his students would also be like him. On waking and finding yourself outside in the street, you picked yourself up and returned home feeling sad.
"Your sadness persisted and so you preferred to be alone; you desired to read the Bhagavatam again. Seeing your sorrowful state, I descended from Vaikuntha into your heart and made you weep with the ecstatic emotions of your love for Me. You experienced happiness again reading the Bhagavatam. Your tears submerged the place where you sat".
When Srivasa Pandita heard this he was overcome with emotions and he fell to the ground crying and drooling, breathing fast and heavily. In this way the Lord spoke to Advaita Acarya Prabhu and different devotees, and brought back to them a recollection of their earlier days. He submerged the devotees in an ocean of bliss while He sat on His throne chewing betel leaf. The devotees danced and performed kirtana singing, "Jaya Sacinananda!" - all glory to the son of Mother Saci.
If perchance a devotee was absent, immediately the Lord had him brought before Him. He put His hand out and would say to him, "Give Me something to eat." And whatever they offered to Him, He ate it all. Then the Lord would say, "Do you remember that night I came to you as a doctor? I sat next to your bed. I cured your fever." On hearing this from the Lord, the devotees would fall down overwhelmed by uncontrolled spiritual emotions.
Seeing Gangadas, the Lord said, "Can your mind recall that night you were escaping from the Muslim King, fearing capture? Your whole family was accompanying you, but when you arrived at the ferry stand there were no boats. You were in a great dilemma. The night was turning to dawn and still no boats were in sight. You began weeping in anxiety. You shuddered at the thought that the Muslims might molest your family in your presence, and so it would be better to drown in the Ganges, you thought.
"At that moment I appeared as a boatman rowing a boat towards you. Your spirits lifted seeing the approaching boat. You spoke to Me, the boatman, with affection saying, 'My dear brother, please take me across. I surrender my body, wealth, life, everything to You. I solely depend upon You. Here are a couple of rupees for Your endeavor. Take my family and me to safety.' Thus I ferried you and your family across, and then returned to My eternal Vaikuntha abode."
Gangadas was carried away on the waves of blissful ecstasy after hearing the Lord. Such are the wonderful pastimes of Lord Gaurasundara. The Lord continued, "Do you recall that incident? You were so worried; you were so worried. And I came to your rescue and brought you across". Gangadasa, unable to contain himself further fell to the ground rolling in ecstasy.
Lord Caitanya, the Lord of Vaikuntha is sitting on His throne, His body covered with sandalwood paste, nicely decorated with fragrant flower garlands. One of His dear servants was fanning Him. Another arranged His hair. Someone else was preparing betel and offering it to Him. Many of them were dancing in ecstasy around Him.
How the entire day passed and how the darkness of night stole in, both went unnoticed. Realizing that it was night, the devotees busied themselves lighting the lamps, and they offered the lamps in worship at the Lord's lotus feet. They began to perform kirtana, playing kartals, gongos, conch shells, mrdanga drums and string instruments. The Lord continued sitting in a benevolent mood but remained silent, in spite of the devotees' various activities.
Devotees offered different kinds of flowers at His lotus feet and prostrated themselves before Him saying, "O Lord, protect me." Some devotees prayed to the Lord with great humility; others were singing loudly in praise of the Lord. The sound of jubilant crying was the only thing one could hear.
Everyone present experienced such indescribable and wonderful elated feelings right at this moment that everyone joining the assembly felt as though they had been immediately transported to the Vaikunthas. In this way the Lord exhibited a mood of Supreme opulence, while all the devotees stood circling Him with hands folded in reverence.
Lord Gaurasundara behaved in a casual manner with His disciples, placing His lotus feet on them. In this manner, He performed His transcendental pastimes. Lord Gaurasundara was in His munificent mood ready to disburse boons to His devotees as they surrounded Him with folded hands. The Lord showered His causeless mercy on everyone as He performed the pastime of the twenty-one hour ecstasy.
The Lord then ordered, "Go and bring Sridhara immediately. Let him see My opulence. He is constantly thinking about Me in separation. I want him to come right away. Go to the outskirts of the town. Sit there and wait for anyone who calls for Me, then bring them here to Me." The Vaisnavas rushed to fulfill the Lord's order, going in the direction of Sridhara's residence.
Now hear some stories about Sridhara, and how he made a living from selling "khola" (the trunk of the banana tree). He buys the khola joint, cuts it into short pieces, and then sells them. Whatever he earns, half of it he spends in buying offerings for Mother Ganga. With the other half he maintains himself. This is the test of a true devotee of the Supreme Lord.
Sridhara is a very honest and truthful person, like Yudhisthira Maharaja. He always quotes the correct price for his wares, and never once vacillates from it. Those who know this fact buy from him at the price he quotes. In this humble way this great soul lives in Navadvipa. Known only to people as the 'khola seller', his real self was unknown to all. He would spend the entire night engrossed in chanting the holy name of Krsna, forgetting everything including sleep.
The atheistic neighbors protested saying, "We cannot sleep in the night - Sridhara's screaming shatters our eardrums. That poor vagabond cannot fill his body. So now in the night he is kept awake by pangs of hunger."
The atheistic neighbors invited sure doom for themselves in speaking in this manner, but Sridhara continued his spiritual activities unperturbed, and remained always joyful. He loudly chanted the holy name all night long with overflowing love for Krsna.
The devotees who had gone to find Sridhara had covered only half of the way to his house, and could already hear his loud chanting. Following the voice they came to Sridhara's house. They said to him, "Please come with us, O holy one, and meet Lord Caitanya. We are greatly blessed being in your august presence."
When Sridhara heard the mention of Lord Caitanya, he became overwhelmed with ecstatic feelings and fell unconscious to the ground. Quickly the devotees picked him up, and they very slowly and gently led him to the Lord.
Lord Caitanya was extremely happy to see Sridhara, and called out loud and warm invitations to him saying, "Come, come. You have amply worshiped Me. Many lifetimes you have spent in My devotional service. In this life you have also rendered abundant devotional service. I have tasted your 'khola' countless times. Many times I took different things from your hands. You have forgotten the verbal exchanges we had."
When Lord Caitanya was manifesting His pastimes as a scholar, He acted boldly and insolently. During this time, hiding His real identity, the Lord would daily enjoy Sridara's company under the pretext of bargaining with him. He would go to his shop and purchase banana, spathe, etc. Daily they would argue about the price for several hours, and finally the Lord returned with His purchases bought at half the actual price. The truthful Sridhara always quoted the correct price, but the Lord picked the goods Himself, and paid only half price. Then this would excite Sridhara; he would jump up and try to take the goods back from the Lord.
The Lord would then say, "Why my dear brother, Sridhara! You are a renounced person. I think you are very rich. Then why do you try to snatch these things away from My hand? I am also surprised that in all this time you do not know who I am."
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Caitanya saw that there was no trace of anger on Sridhara's face, so He snatched the articles away.
Lord Gaurasundara was looking so beautiful that He could captivate even Cupid's mind. His fine forehead was decorated with radiant urdhapurdra tilaka marks. He wore His dhoti in a most attractive manner, tucking it in three different places. His earrings were nicely designed and slightly slanting. The Lord's temperament and eyes were both extremely agile and restless. A shining white brahmin thread rested elegantly around His shoulder; Lord Ananta Sesa has accepted this very thin form of a brahmin thread to decorate the Lord. He smiled at Sridhara with cherry lips reddened from chewing betel. And again He picked up the articles.
Sridhara said to the Lord, "Listen O Brahmana, please forgive me this time. I am just Your dog". The Lord replied, "I know you - you are very cunning. You have saved much money selling these banana spathes". Then Sridhara spoke, "Are there not any other shops besides mine? Please, purchase from there at a cheaper price."
Lord Caitanya said, "I do not want to so easily abandon a steady supplier like you. Give me these spathes and take the money for it." Sridhara was helpless against Visvambhara's charm, so he smiled at Him, captivated by His extraordinary beauty. Visvambhara continued His harangue, being very pleased with His eternal associate and devotee, Sridhara.
Lord Caitanya said, "Every day you buy offerings for Mother Ganga, so why can't you sell Me your things at a discount? I am the Father of the Mother Ganga you worship daily. This truth I am revealing to you."
Sridhara shocked at hearing this, covered his ears with his palms and repeated Lord Visnu's name. Seeing that Visvambhara was in an insolent mood, he gave Him the banana spathes. In this way the Lord bargained and fought with Sridhara everyday. Sridhara thought of the boy as a very restless young brahmana boy.
Sridhara finally agreed, "I give in to You. I will give You something free of cost, but then please leave me alone. What will I lose if I give away a piece of banana spathe, a banana flower or a slice of banana root?"
Lord Caitanya replied, "Good, good! That is enough. Do not give any more." The Lord daily ate dishes prepared with Sridhara's gifts. The Lord loves to receive gifts from His devotees. He would never ask for anything from a non-devotee.
The Lord desired to perform this pastime, and so by His arrangement, He had Sridhara sell 'khola'. Who can understand these transcendental exchanges between the Supreme Lord and His devotee? No one can perceive these supramundane activities without the blessings of the Lord. This fact is being highlighted by the Lord.
Then Lord Caitanya said, "O Sridhara, behold My beauty. Today I will bestow upon you the eight mystic perfections". The great devotee, Sridhara lifted up his head and saw that Lord Visvambhara had changed His complexion, and had become as dark as the bark of the Tamal tree. He was holding a flute in His hands, and on His right stood Lord Balarama. The entire scene was engulfed in a glowing radiance. He saw Lord Brahma and Lord Siva approach Their Lordships offering lotus and betel, as they began reciting verses in praise of the Supreme Lord. Lord Ananta Sesa, standing behind the Lord with His hood above the Lord's head like an umbrella, and saintly personalities like Sanaka, Narada and Sukadeva Gosvami all offered prayers to the Lord. All around the beautiful heavenly damsels sang, glorifying the Lord with folded hands.
Sridhara, seeing this wonder of wonders was so astounded that in the next moment he slumped to the ground. The Lord called out Sridhara's name asking him to rise. Sridhara on hearing the Lord's command, awoke from his swoon and stood up.
Lord Caitanya instructed Sridhara, "Sridhara, say something glorifying Me". Sridhara replied, "Dear Lord, I am illiterate and foolish. What intelligence do I possess to glorify Your Lordship?" But the Lord said, "Anything you speak is always glorifying Me."
By the Lord's order, Mother Saraswati, the goddess of learning, now presided over Sridhara's power of speech. Sridhara began to glorify the Lord.
"All glory! All glory to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. All glory to Lord Visvambhara, the Lord of Navadvipa.
"All glory to the Lord of the entire cosmic manifestation. All glory to the son of Mother Saci, Visvambhara.
"All glory to Lord Caitanya whose incarnation and activities are a mystery, even in the Vedas. He has appeared as the best of the brahmanas. He appears in every millennium to uphold religious principles, taking different forms.
"Secretly You went about the town managing and maintaining everything, Your real identity unknown to all. It is impossible for anyone to know Your real self without Your mercy.
"O Lord, You are the religious principles, the prescribed duties, devotional service, knowledge, the scriptures, the Vedas and the object of all meditation.
"You are the mystic perfections, the ever-increasing opulence, the enjoying spirit, and the path of mystic yoga. You are the faith in man, benevolence, illusion, and greed. You are Indra, the king of heaven, the moon, fire, and water.
"You are the sun, the air, wealth, strength, devotion, and liberation. You are Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. O Lord, You are not in need of anything because everything belongs to You.
"You had told me earlier that the Mother Ganga I worship has emanated from Your lotus feet. Yet due to my sinful heart, I could not recognize You. I had no realization of Your Supreme position. You are the same Supreme Personality who had preciously blessed Gokula with Your appearance, and now You have again incarnated as the sweet Lord of Navadvipa.
"You are the embodiment of the highest esoteric process, that same devotional science You have propagated all over Navadvipa.
"Bhisma defeated You (making You break Your promise) in battle because of his devotional service, and for the same reason, Mother Yasoda bound You up.
"Satyabhama-devi could once sell You, Her husband Lord Krsna, because of Her desire and love for You. Captivated by the love of Your devotees, You carried the young cowherd boys on Your shoulders.
"The entire living creation carries and cherishes Your thoughts in their hearts, yet You carried Sridham on Your shoulders. It is a great secret and mystery how You are defeated by Your devotees."