Soon after Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, soon after I said Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa at the age of 24, He was just 24 years old. Of course could Lord be just 24 years Lord? I was also 24 years old at some time. So that is age of my body, Lord’s body is eternal. This is how; we end up saying, yes! He was 24 years old! He took sannyasa for the benefit of the whole world. That sannyasa initiation arouse additional devotion within heart of the Lord while He is playing role a devotee.
Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna himself, not only just Krishna, but He is also Radharani. “Sri Krishna Chaitanya – radha krishna nahi anya” – He is non different from Radha and Krishna. But as He is playing the role of devotee “bhaktavatar”, He is experiencing intense love for the Lord which was resulted, additional love which was resulted by His sannyasa diksha. Then the first thought that Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu had was I would like to go to Vrindavan, where is Vrindavan?? Where is Vrindavan??I want to go to Vrindavan. Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu He kept wondering, in fact going round and round in Raaddesh.
Srila Prabhupada explains this as Raaddesh as that part of Bengal where Ganga does not flow. And He was going round and round because He had no sense of direction. He was just totally absorbed in Krishna – OH! Where is Krishna? Where is Vrindavan? And He kept just going round and round. There were few devotees Nityananda Prabhu and two more devotees were accompanying the Lord. Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he comes across some cowherd men of that area, He inspires them to chant, He says bolo Krishna, bolo Krishna Hare Krishna (audience – Hare Krishna……..) and they chant. It may be difficult for me to get you chant Hare Krishna but for Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He is the Lord, He is Lord of their hearts. So yes they were all chanting and Mahaprabhu was going closer to them and blessing them, touching their heads and Mahaprabhu asked them, which way is to Vrindavan could you please tell me? Which way is to Vrindavan? Nityananda Prabhu he had already kind of prompted this cowherd men, if this sannyasi inquires from you which way is to Vrindavan, just tell him just go along the banks of Ganga.
That was not the way but this is Nityananda Prabhu’s trick. So cowherd men, boys they are just, you want to go to Vrindavan that’s the way just go on the “banks of this river” and as Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was going that way, chanting and dancing. Caitanya Mahaprabhu as you know He never walked, did He fly by air Mauritius (laughter) He only danced or He walked ok He walked but His walking is so artistic, like a actor. When He walks we could watch his steps it’s pleasing. So Mahaprabhu would walk, only dance and sing He was doing that and Nityanand prabhu was following Him. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu was totally absorbed in his mood of Krishna and at one point he notices Nityananda prabhu is also following He says aye! “Where are you going”? I am also going to Vrindavan. So they are walking after some distance, Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is inquiring oh! How far is Vrindavan from here? To this inquire Nityananda prabhu said “oh, we have reached Vrindavan” Here is Jamuna and as Mahaprabhu heard that He was in Vrindavan and there was Jamuna. Immediately His ecstasies where now thousand folds and He jumped into river. Jai Yamuna maiya ki…………… Jai Yamuna maiya ki…………… Vrindavan dham ki………………….
At some point, when He was in kind of finish with his Holy dip of Jamuna, but He had no additional garments, He had wet cloths. There He sees Advaita acarya, oh! here are some clothes for you my dear Lord. Seeing Advaitacharya Caitanya Mahaprabhu said “oh! How come how did you know that I was in Vrindavan”? Soon Shri Mahaprabhu realized and He was thinking “Advaita acarya! he has come to Vrindavan or am I in Shantipur in his hometown?”. And there is what had happened this was trick of Nityananda prabhu and this was all planned between Nityanand prabhu and Advaita acarya to bring the Lord to Shantipur so that resident of Navdweep, Mayapur and specially Sacimata would have another opportunity of having audience with the Lord. And thus Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ends up Caitanya Mahaprabhu he was in Shantipur and devotees in great number turned up for darshan and Sacimata was invited to come. She comes running, takes her Nimai in her lap and profusely shedding tears as if she was doing abhishek with her tears of her Nimai.
Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu spent several days in Shantipur specially doing kirtans big kirtans, long many hours of kirtan that was life of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, chanting and dancing. “Kirtaniya sada hari” always chanting “satatam kirtayanto mam”. Always chanting the glories of the Lord, always chanting the holy names. Sacimata knew Nimai has taken sannyasa. Of course you cannot come back home, I know that, but could you stay in nearby Holy place. Of course you could go anywhere the whole world is open for you. You could go to Durban also, Durban that ban which is at long long distance, doordarshan, Durban this is one of the bans, one of the ban like Vrindavan, Durban so another ban another forest. So He could have stayed in Vrindavan or Haridwar or Banaras, Pandharpur or so many places. No no you please stay in Jagannath puri which is not far from Navadvip Mayapur and we will get news from time to time. Devotees from Navadvip and Mayapur could visit you conveniently. So, no problem Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu gladly accepted the proposal of Sacimata and then He proceeded for Jagannath puri chanting and dancing again accompanied by a small group of devotees. And now as they are very close to Jagannath puri, Jagannath puri dhama ki jai…………………………………………….
They could see Jagannath puri and at this place Nityananda prabhu had broken danda, Caitanya Mahaprabhu had taken sannyasa but Nityananda prabhu took away danda of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu broke into pieces, throw it away. You have nothing to do with varnasram, you do not have to accept sannyasa, have all these symbols. Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a bit annoyed with avadhut, Nityananda prabhu is avadhut above rules and regulations and he did not want Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also to follow such rules. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu as He was bit disturbed with this act of Nityanand prabhu, Caitanya Mahaprabhu said “I will go by myself to Puri” and from that point onwards, Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu kind of ran towards Puri leaving the main party behind, as if he was getting pulled by Jagannath the powerful magnet. And as Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu entered Jagannath puri temple and he saw Lord in front of him, he could not even utter the full name, Jagannath. We could say nothing happens much to us, but for him he could only say Jag…. Jag….. and his voice was choked up and he fell unconscious, losing all external consciousness he fell on the temple floor. In the temple hall there was great personality Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and he has seen others in the past coming and exhibiting these ecstasies but just a show they were show bottles the fake ones.
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya was very curious to understand ecstasies, the symptoms of this personality, Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He lifted Mahaprabhu and brought Mahaprabhu to his own residence and examined all the symptoms and he realized this was not even ordinary bhava, but this was mahabhava genuine symptoms of ecstasy. Soon the main party arrived they had darshan they were expecting Mahaprabhu to be there in the temple waiting for them. But that wasn’t the case there was no Mahaprabhu in the temple. As they inquired after which they were informed, “yes you go to Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya home probably you will find him there”. Then all the devotes ran to Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya home they found Lord totally unconscious they all started chanting Hare Krishna (Bhajan).
And the result was so it’s a good reason for us to sing also or by singing this way we try to become part of that party Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s party. Try to experience we are also there or we are witnessing this pastime, we are hearing that party singing and then we also sing along. So Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to external consciousness Haribol…… Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu ki jai………….. So this is how Mahaprabhu entered Jagannath puri. He was thinking of Lord Jagannath all the time, on the way to Jagannath Puri as Akrura was thinking of Krishna when he went from Mathura to Vrindavan. And Srila Prabhupad reminds this is the way when you go to Vrindavan go to Vrindavan way Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Jagannath puri or way the Akrura went to Vrindavan. You cannot purchase a ticket, train does not take you to, plane does not take you Vrindavan and Puri. The mood will on the way to Vrindavan or Puri will bring us there, otherwise our body there and mind back in Durban and always in touch with mobile phones. Keeping in touch with family as a result disconnected from the Lord. If family is Jagannath conscious, they may be talking to you on phone about Jagannath and that will help you to go closer to Puri.
So Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu was there in Jagannath puri for total 18 years of which 6 years He was travelling all over, South India, another time He goes to Bengal and Bangladesh and back to Jagannath puri. So this is second time He comes back to Jagganath puri. Third time he goes to Vrindavan through Jharkhand forest. You heard Jharkhand forest pastime there also one state now in India newly formed state like Maharashtra, Gujarat like that Jharkhand is one new state. Caitanya Mahaprabhu travelled through there, danced and made the animals also to dance in ecstasy. Mahaprabhu goes to Vrindavan He does his Brajmandal parikrama and comes back. Like that three times he went on travels, “Hare krishna naam gaur karila prachar”. He was singing that “Hare krishna naam gaur karila prachar”.
Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had appeared to establish the yuga dharma. “dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge” (B.G 4.8) — I appear in every age to establish the principles of dharma, the prime principle of dharma in this age of kali chanting the holy names of the Lord. So Lord travelled all over establishing, chanting dharma, sankirtan dharma. So finally He was also back from Vrindavan. Now He would be spending 12 more years in Jagannath Puri dham which has very similar mood like that of Vrindavan soon after He took sannyasa as we mentioned He wanted to go to Vrindavan but He ended up in Jagannath puri which abode of Lord Jagannath who is Krishna himself.
“Sri gaur sri Krishna sri jaganath” Well Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu himself is also Krishna, Jagannath swami is also Krishna. So in Puri, Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu experiences of being in Vrindavan. In Jagannath Puri He would go for darshan of Jagannath everyday and the two Lords would be taking darshan of each other. Caitanya Mahaprabhu very anxious to see Jagannath. One time Mahaprabhu He was inquiring could someone show me the Lord? Could someone show me the Lord? He was stopping people could someone show me the Lord? could you bring me to the Lord. That person he did not know what to do how to response. Then he turned to another one what about you please bring me to my Lord that also did not work then another one and then another one and another one. He was going shop to shop stopping people. He was so anxious so curious to meet his Lord, to have darshan of his Lord.
Finally He came across one smart Jagannath Puri wasi, resident of Puri. Oh! You want to see the lord, yes yes then please come along and he took Caitanya Mahaprabhu, where did he take Caitanya Mahaprabhu? To the temple, please come along and brought inside Jaganath’s temple. Oh! You wanted to see the Lord there you see. And as Mahaprabhu saw there was no Jagannath there at that time, he saw Muralidhar, Shaymsundar playing flute in the place of Jagannath swami. “Jayati jayati devo devakinandano”
So Jayati jayati devo Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also at the time of rathyatra, He would offer this player. Oh! Lord all glories unto you, all glories unto you “Jayati jayati devo devakinandano”
So you are Devaki Nandan, son of Devaki, you are Krishna, you are Vrisni vanshi, Krishna you are. In Jagannath puri, Jagannath swami is very special Krishna. What is the specialty? What is the special feature of Jagannath? Jagannath is that Krishna who is feeling very very intense separation from his devotes. Specially Vrindavan wasi specially Gopis and Radharani. That is the mood, where are they? Where are they? That’s why Lord’s eyes are that’s why they are bigger. So that is Jaganath swami Krishna feeling separation from his devotees. And here is Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu he has mood of devotee, he has mood of Radharani and he is feeling separation from Krishna, the Lord. So this is the match Jagannath swami is feeling separation from his devotees he is looking for his devotees where are my devotees? Where are my devotees? How are my devotees? And here is Caitanya Mahaprabhu where is my Lord? Where is my Krishna?
So this is perfect, Jagannath swami and Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In Jagannath puri temple, there is a Garuda stambha, Garuda is on a pillar, Garuda is the carrier of Jagannath, Vishnu he is like a vehicle, like your vehicle is parked in front as soon as you are out of your home your vehicle is there ever ready. So Garuda also parks himself whenever Lord wants to go he is ready to go. Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would be allowed only to go up to that pillar and not forward; if he would go forward then he would be finished. Like He would be in a stronger magnetic field. So better to keep him at safer distance so devotes would not allow him to step forward. He had to stand next to Garuda stambha and take darshan, watch see Jagannath swami and as Mahaprabhu would hold Garuda stambh by the touch of the fingers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, there are finger prints of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in that Garuda stambha, I was just there, again in the past also I have seen this time also I not only see, but I also placed my fingers in the same place and I was trying to feel something trying to go into the past and imagine Mahaprabhu standing there and holding that pillar. Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu goongatha, his qualities, his pastimes are the birds would go in Trans “pasan vidare” the rock would melt by his touch or by hearing his pastimes.
Such is the power of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his pastimes, his qualities. “gaurangera madhura-lila jar karne pravesila, hrdoya nirmala bhelo tar”. “gaurangera madhura-lila jar karne pravesila, hrdoya nirmala bhelo tar” . As the pastimes of Gaurang Mahaprabhu enter the ears and it’s not sufficient to enter the ears, his pastimes should finally reach the heart. Because our soul is not in the ears, our soul is not in the ears. What is the sitting place of soul? Heart. I think that is the purpose of what we are doing here “ekdun tikdun jai vare” it’s a saying in Marathi. So it has to go all the way to heart. Not again entering one ear and coming out from another. So we take this pastime in and arrange the meeting, meeting of Lord’s pastime with the soul. Thats the goal, soul has to be brought in contact with the pastimes of the Lord. That is also one feature of the Lord, Lord is non different from His pastimes, Lila, as He is not different from His holy dhama, His holy name, His holy form. Some of this are Lord’s personal features. Narottam das thakur sings as pastimes of Gauranga Mahaprabhu are heard, hrdoya nirmala, that person’s heart will become nirmal. Free from dirt, free from contamination, free from modes of material nature. This is the purpose of what we are doing here.
By hearing this pastimes of Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Puri we would like to purify ourselves, yes is that the purpose? The pastimes of Gaurang in puri are unlimited. It’s the ocean of pastimes, we just need a drop. Because we are very tiny, tiny souls. The drop is like a ocean for us. If we get few drops, we would be drowned in that drop of the pastimes of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Jaganath Puri as he was returning from his travells,Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya he approached King Prataprudra, where could Lord stay? Please make some arrangement. King Prataprudra was devotee of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, although king of Orissa, king of puri, but very very humble, pure soul, pure devotee, he was always very anxious to serve Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He said oh! That Kashi misra’s home would be very appropriate place for Mahaprabhu to stay. There is where Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed when he returned. Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed at Kasi Mishra’s place; I don’t know whether you have heard the name called Gambhira. There is a place called Gambhira, Gambhira also means serious.
Gambhira serious place that place is very very serious place. That place was chosen because it is not very far from Jagannath puri temple and it is secluded and is very quiet, for this reason, Kashi Misra home was chosen as residence for Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And the place where is stayed is very tiny, very tiny place, I was just there very small place. Sanyasi, as He was, renounced, he was happily residing in that small place. Although Kashi Misra had big palace, many quarters. But Mahaprabhu chose a small corner, small quarter where next 12 years, he would be spending there. Jaganath puri is going to be his base, no travels. From there He would go everyday for darshan of Jagannath and after having darshan of Jagannath, next place Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would visit everyday this was daily practice visiting Siddha bakula , where Namacharya Haridas Thakur was residing.
Namacharya Haridas thakur was born in Muslim family as a result; he was banned from darshan of Jagannath. Do not think that it is a new policy of modern time, even 500 years ago, Haridas thakur because he was from non-Hindu family, he was not allowed. I was also not allowed darshan of Jagannath one time that was my first time in Jagannath puri must be, 1977, I as we were going group of ISKCON devotees. The Pandas stopped pandit is called panda and as we went no no you are Christians and these ISKCON people they have converted you. I do not know where they got this secret (laughs). I tried to convince but did not work pandas were strongly built and I was small. They literally picked me up and put me outside. But while as we were battling with the panda, one of my American god brothers, born in Christian family but he had Indian kind of complexion and he took advantage of that when pandas were busy with me. So he was there in front of Jagannath swami, praying for me (laughter). He soon returned outside the gate, Maharaj tulsi for you tulsi for you. By his mercy I had tulsi at least of Lord Jaganath.
So Haridas thakur, at least I was fighting to go in there Haridas Thakur did not fight. He considered himself not qualified for darshan of Jagannath, he would only take darshan of chakra at the top of temple and that was good enough. That is considered good enough and even offerings of the food could be made to chakra. Lot of people to this day also offer the food to chakra. Haridas Thakur just took darshan of chakra at the temple door. But then Mahaprabhu would come to meet Haridas thakur. So he was not allowed to go in for darshan of Jagannath but Jagannath would be walking he could walk who is Caitanya Mahaprabhu? “sei gaur sei Krishna sei jagannath” . So Jagannath swami is Gauranga Mahaprabhu He would come to Haridas thakur and give him darshan and embrace him and this was every day. Haridas thakur he would just chant and chant and chant and that’s all what he did. Haridas thakur would chant and chant and chant and that’s all what he did.
And if we are asked, can’t chant, can’t, can’t, chant chant chant, no can’t can’t can’t Prabhupad said this also. So he would always chant, very little rest, very little food. Always chanting Thats why Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave him title Namacharya Haridas thakur. Namacarya he has another name, he is also known as Brahma Haridas, non different from Brahma. Brahma appeared to take break from his management affairs. He decided to do little mantra meditation and Srila Prabhupad comes in that parampara. First acarya in Srila Prabhupad parampara is Brahma and so he is setting examples, teaching in this age of kali, chanting is the way, he did not deliver discourses on this topic, but simple chanted and set the glorious examples.
So at this place where Haridas thakur there was not much shelter lot of times he would be chanting in hard sun and so one day Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to see Haridas thakur, he brought a toothbrush, it was not made up of plastic, it was a babool tree, So everyday Jagannath swami woken up, they offer him the brush. That days brush mahaprabhu carried with him, planted that. Soon that grew into shady tree and became known as siddhabakul tree. Tree that was planted 500 years ago, that tree is still there, then Haridas thakur was sitting in the shadow of that tree and chanting ‘Hare Krishna…….”. Siddhabakul another is very important spot in Jagannath puri. In puri, you feel strong presence of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu whereever you go, whole atmosphere of Puri is surcharged with memories of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and pastimes and so many places. You could go visit Puri places reminding of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Haridas thakur samadhi is there.
Gundhicha temple is there, before day of rathyatra Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would go there and personally clean the temple, not order others aye! Or call up some coolie’s aye! 10 rupees ok, bring some more sweepers with you, no he did not he would personally go take his devotees take brooms and take many pots it’s a wonderful pastime.
There are series of festivals which took place 500 years ago and for thousands of years in fact this festivals one after the other, one leading to others, leading to Jagannath rathyatra, and Gundicha marjan prior to rathayatra so series of festivities. We could briefly talk about snanyatra of the Lord and then netroustav, feast for the eyes. Then rathyatra utsav and Jagannath swami staying in Gundicha temple then ultta rath. And Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visit of Alalnath while no darshan available. For two weeks puri temple is closed, we should know this from the snanyatra time to rathyatra time for two weeks. If you want to have darshan, you have to go to another temple. That is where you take darshan of Jagannath. Taking darshan of that deities is as good as taking darshan of Jagannath. Caitanya Mahaprabhu would do this so Caitanya Mahaprabhu made these festivals memorable, unforgettable experience.
Rathyatra that we are celebrating here is all because of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he made these rathyatras, he was there for 12 years attending rathyatras, rathyatra after rathyatra. Not just witnessing or taking photographs, or standing on roof top and making some observations, but he was integral part of rathyatra festival. Jagannath up there Krishna and Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the mood of Radharani in front of him on the streets of puri, in front of rathyatra.