Parishad: Swarupa Damodar Goswami and Shivananda Sen

July 16, 2007 at 10:19 am Leave a comment

Jul 16, KUALA LUMPUR (MON) — Disappearance Day of Srila Swarupa Damodar Goswami and Srila Shivananda Sen.

Swarupa Damodar Goswami

Mahaprabhu’s alter ego

The Lord accepted Shikhi Mahiti’s sister as one of Radha’s friends. In the entire world, there were only three and a half devotees who were so worthy. They were Svarupa Damodar Goswami, Ramananda Raya and Shikhi Mahiti. His sister was the half person.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.2.105-6)

Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami was one of Mahaprabhu’s three and a half most intimate associates. Elsewhere Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has called him the most important of the Lord’s companions. Two persons knew the Lord best: Paramananda Puri and Svarupa Damodar.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.124-5)

I have already shown that preaching the sankirtan movement was the external cause for the Lord’s descent. There is another, primary purpose for the Lord’s incarnation. This is the personal work of Krishna, the foremost enjoyer of loving exchanges. This very confidential cause is three-fold, as has been revealed by Svarupa Damodar Goswami. Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami was extremely close to the Lord and thus was able to know all these matters.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.4.103-5)

In his lila as the golden avatar, Mahaprabhu is Krishna himself enveloped by the desire and bodily luster of Srimati Radharani. Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami was his alter ego. Because of his intimate connection to the Lord, he was able to know all the most confidential reasons for his incarnation as well as the most secret aspects of his lila. He later divulged these understandings to a larger audience of devotees. In Vraja-lila, he was also Radharani’s alter-ego, Lalita Sakhi. In the Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, Kavi Karnapura identifies Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami as Radha’s other companion, Vishakha Devi.

kalam ashikshayad radham ya vishakha vraje pura
sadya Svarupa-gosvami tat-tad-bhava-vilasavan

That same Vishakha who previously taught Radha the arts in Vraja is today Svarupa Goswami, who rejoices in the moods of Radha and Krishna.

In the last twelve years of the his pastimes in Puri, the Lord remained constantly absorbed in the mood of Radharani. During this time, only Svarupa Damodar and Ramananda Raya were able to experience the depths of his emotion through relishing topics known only to them.

candidasa vidyapati rayera nataka giti
karnamrita shri gita-govinda
svarupa ramananda sane mahaprabhu ratri-dine
gaya, shune parama ananda

Day and night, Mahaprabhu ecstatically relished the songs of Chandi Das, Vidyapati and Ramananda Raya’s plays, as well as Krishna-Karnamrita and Gita-Govinda in the company of Svarupa and Ramananda.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.2.77)

Paramananda Puri had parental affection for Mahaprabhu; Ramananda Raya had love for him in pure friendship; Govinda Das’s love for him was as a servant. Gadadhara, Jagadananda and Svarupa Damodar worshiped him in the ecstasy of the chief rasa. Mahaprabhu heart was won by these four different loving attitudes.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.2.78)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has explained these verses in his Anubhashya as follows: Sri Paramananda Puri, who was Uddhava in Krishna-lila, loved Mahaprabhu with parental affection; Ramananda, who was either Vishakha or Arjuna, had the pure sentiment of a close friend; Govinda and others were devoted to their service to the Lord, and possessed a pure mood of service (shuddha-dasya). Gadadhara, Jagadananda and Svarupa Damodar served the Lord in the primary sentiment, i.e., that of erotic love (madhura-rasa). The Lord became obliged to these devotees, accepting their worship, their association, their service and their joy.

Svarupa Damodar’s kariaca

Murari Gupta explained all of the Lord’s early pastimes in the form of an outline. Svarupa Damodar did the same for the Lord’s later pastimes. The devotees describe the Lord’s activities by following the order given in these two outlines.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.13.15-17)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has written his commentary on these verses: Murari Gupta’s outline of the Lord’s early pastimes are still extant, so devotees were able to expand on the Lord’s pastimes after looking at his written text. The Vaishnavas only heard Svarupa Damodar’s kariaca through Raghunath Das Goswami.

Chaitanya-lila is like the finest of jewels which were held in Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami’s storehouse and then placed by him around Raghunath Das’s neck. I have written down here whatever I heard from him as extensively as I was able, making a gift of it to the devotees.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.2.85)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur comments on this verse in his Amrita-pravaha-bhashya as follows: Svarupa Damodar described the Lord’s latter pastimes in summary Sanskrit verses known as a kariaca. He made Raghunath Das memorize these verses, and later Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami spread these accounts of the Lord’s activities throughout the world. As a result, Svarupa Damodar’s kariaca was never published in book form. The Chaitanya Charitamrita is itself the essence of Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami’s kariaca.

Svarupa Damodar’s kirtan

Sri Svarupa Damodar used to used to make Mahaprabhu very happy by singing the songs of Vidyapati, Chandi Das and Gita?govinda. He was as expert a musician as the Gandharvas, and in knowledge of the scripure he was just like Brihaspati. No personality was his equal. Sri Svarupa Damodar was also very dear to Advaita acharya and Nityananda Prabhu, and he was the life and soul of all the devotees, headed by Srivasa Thakur.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.10.115-7)

Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has described the extent to which Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami and Ramananda Raya were dear to Mahaprabhu in the 15th chapter of the Antya-lila:

After saying these things, the Lord took Svarupa Damodar and Ramananda Raya by the shoulders and said, “Listen, Svarupa and Rama Raya! Tell me what I should do, where should I go in order to find Krishna. You can tell me the best thing to do.” In this way, Gauranga would tell his tale of woe to Svarupa and Ramananda and they would console him in his grief. Svarupa would sing and Ramananda would recite Sanskrit verses, giving joy to the Lord with Karnamrita, Vidyapati and Gita-Govinda.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.15.24-7)

A similar passage is found in the 20th chapter of the Antya-lila.

Mahaprabhu remained in Nilachala in this way, passing the days and nights absorbed in the anxiety of separation from Krishna. Svarupa and Ramananda were always with him, bringing him ecstasy with their recitation of songs and verses appropriate to his mood.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.20.3-4)

Vrindavan Das Thakur has also named Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami as one of Mahaprabhu’s principal associates in his Chaitanya Bhagavat. He describes there how the Lord would lose external consciousness when hearing Svarupa’s kirtan:

Whenever Svarupa Damodar would sing aloud, the Lord would lose all awareness of his surroundings and fall to the ground. Of all the sannyasis who were members of the Lord’s entourage, none was the equal of Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami. The Lord had a great deal of affection for Paramananda Puri, and an equal amount for Svarupa Damodar. Svarupa Damodar was full of the nectar of devotional songs, which would make the Lord dance as soon as he heard them.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.10.40-3)

When Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami was living at Tota Gopinath’s temple, he would give discourses on the Bhagavat while in an ecstatic trance. He primarily spoke on the sections dealing with the lives of Prahlad and Dhruva. Mahaprabhu was overcome by the eight ecstatic symptoms upon hearing Gadadhara’s Bhagavat readings and Svarupa Damodar’s kirtan.

Gadadhar Pandit was the main expert in the Bhagavat and Svarupa Damodar in kirtan. Svarupa Damodar would sing alone and Mahaprabhu would lose himself in dance. Mahaprabhu would reveal all the symptoms of ecstatic love such as tears, trembling, laughing, fainting, horripilation and roaring. They all manifested on his body as he danced with the devotees. When he heard Svarupa Damodar singing the kirtan aloud, the Lord would lose external consciousness and would fall down on the spot. There was no equal to Svarupa amongst all of the Lord’s sannyasi associates. Svarupa was as dear to him as Paramananda Puri. Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami was the incarnation of the delight of song, which would make Mahaprabhu dance.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.10.36-43)

Early life and sannyas

We have the following information about Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami in terms of his bodily identity. Before taking sannyas, he was known as Purushottam Acharya or Purushottam Bhattacharya. Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana gives the following account of his antecedents: His father’s name was Padmagarbhacharya, the son of Jayarama Chakravarti. His residence was in the village of Bhitadiya on the banks of the Brahmaputra River in Bangla Desh. Jayarama Chakravarti made his home in Nabadwip. After his marriage to Jayarama’s daughter, Padmagarbha also came to live there. At the birth of Purushottam, Padmagarbha left his wife and child at his father-in-law’s house and left for Mithila and Kashi in order to study the scriptures. Thus Purushottam Acharya was raised in his maternal grandparents’ home in Nabadwip.

Later, when Mahaprabhu took sannyas, he was unable to remain in Nabadwip due to the feelings of separation from the Lord and he departed for Benares where he also took the renounced order of life. This is described as follows in the Prema-vilasa:

Purushottam became a resident of Nabadwip, staying with his mother’s parents. Filled with all virtues, he became Mahaprabhu’s dear devotee. When the Lord took sannyas, he went mad with separation and left for Benares where he also took sannyas. Svarupa Damodar was given to him as his sannyas name. He was an intimate devotee of the Lord, an ocean of rasa.

Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has also pointed out some of the special characteristics of Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami’s sannyas:

On another day, Svarupa Damodar arrived; he was a very intimate friend of the Lord and an ocean of transcendental mellows. Before taking sannyas, he had resided at Nabadwip in Mahaprabhu’s association and was known as Purushottam Acharya. When he saw Mahaprabhu accept the renounced order, he became like a madman and immediately went to Varanasi to take sannyas. His sannyas guru, Caitanyananda Bharati, ordered him to study the Vedanta?sutra and to teach it to others. Svarupa Damodar was a great renunciate as well as a great learned scholar. With heart and soul he took shelter of Krishna’s pastimes.

Due to his enthusiasm to worship Sri Krishna without any disturbance, he accepted the sannyas order almost in madness. When taking sannyas, Purushottam Acharya followed the regulative principles by giving up his tuft of hair and sacred thread, but he did not accept the saffron?colored dress. Nor did he take a sannyasi title but rather kept the brahmachari name Svarupa.

Svarupa Damodar then took permission from his sannyas?guru and went to Nilachala where day and night he enjoyed the ecstacies of love for Krishna. Though he had attained the peak of learning, he spoke to no one but remained incognito and in seclusion.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.10.102-114)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has made the following comments on this section of the Chaitanya Charitamrita: In the Dashanami sect founded by Sankaracharya, the lines which take the sannyas names of Tirtha and Ashrama follow the custom of giving the title Brahmachari to anyone who desires to be initiated in the renounced order. The aspirant is then required to vow to remain celibate for the rest of his life. He is also given a brahmachari title, which in Purushottam Acharya’s case was Svarupa Da modara. Upon taking the saffron cloth known as yoga-patta, any brahmachari who has the title Svarupa takes the sannyas name of Tirtha.
(Anubhashya, 2.10.102)

In the Dashanami sect, certain regulative principles must be followed before taking sannyas: one must perform eight kinds of shraddha, offering oblations to one’s forefathers, the Viraja sacrifice. Then one cuts off the tuft of hair called a shikha and gives up the sacred thread. Svarupa Damodar accepted these preliminary processes in the acceptance of sannyas, but not accept the gurvahvana, or “I”call of the guru”/I”, saffron cloth, a sannyas title or a danda, and for this reason he retained his brahmachari name.

It may be pointed out here that for those who follow the formalities of tridandi sannyas, the keeping of the shikha, the sacred thread and saffron cloth are approved by the Skanda Purana, which states:

shikhi yajïopaviti syat tridandi sa-kamandaluh
sa pavitrash ca kashayi gayatrim ca japet sada

Wearing the shikha, sacred thread and saffron cloth and carrying the kamandalu water pot, a tridandi sannyasi should constantly chant the gayatri mantra while remaining pure in his habits. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has also commented in his Amrita-pravaha-bhashya: Purushottam Acharya took Mahaprabhu’s example and took sannyas simply by renouncing his shikha and sutra. His sannyas name was Svarupa Damodar. He did not accept the formality of the yoga-patta because he wished to avoid any danger of becoming falsely proud of his status which would come with taking sannyas. He only wished to worship Krishna without any worries. (to 2.10.108)

In the Anubhashya commentary to Adi-lila (4.105) of Chaitanya Charitamrita, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur writes, Purushottam Bhattacharya was a resident of Nabadwip. Even prior to Mahaprabhu’s taking sannyas, he desired to renounce the world. He left home and went to Benares, where he accepted the position of brahmacarya in a group of Dashanami sannyasis. When he became a brahmachari, he was given the name Damodar Svarupa. He did not bother completing the sannyas rituals and came to Nilachala, Jagannath Puri, where spent the rest of his life at the Lord’s lotus feet. He became Mahaprabhu’s constant companion, enhancing the Lord’s pleasure by singing the songs requested by the Lord. Svarupa Damodar could understand Mahaprabhu’s secret mission and it was by his grace alone that all the Lord’s devotees could know his deepest purpose.

Svarupa arrives in Puri

Mahaprabhu took sannyas on the full moon day of the month of Magh and left for Nilachala in the following month of Phalguna. After delivering Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, he left for his pilgrimage to South India in the month of Vaishakh. Nityananda Prabhu gave him a Brahmin named Kala Krishna Das as his servant to accompany him on this trip. When Mahaprabhu returned from this journey, after having brought good fortune to the inhabitants of the South by bringing them Krishna-prema, Nityananda sent Krishna Das back to Nabadwip to inform the devotees that the Lord had arrived in Puri. The news brought great joy to Sachi Mata, Advaita Acharya, Srivasa Pandit and the other devotees. They immediately started making preparations to visit the Lord in Puri. Paramananda Puri had been staying at Sachi Mata’s house and he decided to leave ahead of the others with a Brahmin named Kamala Kanta. They were thus the first to come from Bengal to meet the Lord. Not long afterward, Purushottam Acharya, who had already been to Benares and taken sannyas from Caitanyananda Bharati and received the name Svarupa Damodar, arrived and joyously entered the Lord’s entourage. When he first saw the Lord, Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami recited the following prayer:

heloddhulita-khedaya vishadaya pronmilad-amodaya
shamyac-chastra-vivadaya rasa-daya cittarpitonmadaya
shashvad-bhakti-vinodaya sa-madaya madhurya-maryadaya
shri-caitanya daya-nidhe tava daya bhuyad amandodaya
O ocean of mercy, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu!
May your auspicious mercy arise like the dawn
driving away all kinds of material lamentation,
making everything pure and awakening transcendental bliss,
ending all quarrels and disagreements among different scriptures,
giving the taste of spiritual life
and maddening the minds of those surrendered to you,
constantly giving the intoxicating joy of devotional service,
and revealing the extent of the conjugal mood’s sweetness.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.10.119, Chaitanya-candrodaya nataka 10.8)

Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami first received the mercy of the Lord in the form of a heartfelt embrace. Then he paid his obeisances to Nityananda Prabhu and Paramananda Puri and then was introduced to Jagadananda and the other devotees. He first met Raya Ramananda when the latter came to Puri with King Prataparudra and met Mahaprabhu there for the first time with the intention of persuading the Lord to meet with the king.

Friendship with Pundarika Vidyanidhi

In Puri, Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami parcipated in the water sports in Narendra Sarovara at the time of the Candana yatra and in the Indradyumna Sarovara after the cleaning of the Gundicha temple. He and Pundarika Vidyanidhi enjoyed splashing each other.

The two friends, Vidyanidhi and Svarupa Damodar, joyously splashed each other and laughed.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.8.124)

Jagannath has an an annual festival in Puri named Oriana Ñashthi. On this occasion, Jagannath’s pujaris dress the deity in cloth which still has the tapioca-based starch (mari) in it. Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi did not like this behavior of the pujaris, as he considered such cloth to be unclean. He went to Svarupa Damodar and asked him for his opinion on the matter. Svarupa Damodar said to him, The Lord is completely independent. He is not dependent on the rules regulating deity worship found in the smritis.

Vidyanidhi immediately answered him, “I accept that Jagannath is completely independent. That does not mean that the pujaris are completely independent of the rules and regulations of scripture. They are not brahma, that they dress the Lord in unwashed cloth. Didn’t you know that if you even touch cloth that has mari in it, you are supposed to wash your hands?”

That night Jagannath and Balaram appeared to Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi in a dream and slapped him on his cheeks for having criticized their sevayatas. By so doing, Jagannath showed that one is not to criticize his servants for apparent lapses in behavior. The smartas are especially subject to criticizing Vaishnava behavior for failing to adhere to the obscure standards of the smriti. Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, though his cheeks were swollen from the slaps, was overjoyed to have been touched by their Lordships. Svarupa Damodar also congratulated Vidyanidhi for his good fortune:

As he looked Pundarika Vidyanidhi over, Svarupa Damodar felt an affection arising in him. Indeed he started to float in an ocean of ecstasy. A friend always feels joy at the good fortune of a friend. The two of them began to laugh spiritedly and Svarupa Damodar said, “Listen, brother. I have never seen or heard of a punishment like this one. The Lord came personally to chastise you in a dream. I never heard of such a thing, but now I see that it has happened to you!” The two friends floated in a feeling of satisfaction. They spent day and night talking of nothing but Krishna conscious topics.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.10.173-177)

Gundicha and Rathayatra pastimes

Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami was one of the chief participants in the cleaning of the Gundicha temple on the eve of the Rathayatra. “Other than Nityananda, Advaita, Svarupa, Brahmananda Bharati and Paramananda Puri, everyone carried buckets of water.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.12.109)

During the washing of the Gundicha temple, a simple but intelligent Brahmin who was not aware of the nature of the Vaishnavas’ devotional etiquette, took some water, suddenly poured it over the Lord’s feet and drank it. In view of Mahaprabhu’s identity as the incarnation of Krishna, it was certainly no offense to drink the water which had washed Mahaprabhu’s feet even though it was done inside the temple of the Lord, but here Mahaprabhu acted as an exemplar for the world and showed dissatisfaction at the Brahmin’s behavior in order that no other person imitate him and become an offender to the feet of the Supreme Lord. He let his anger be known to Svarupa Damodar who caught the Bengali Brahmin and pushed him out of the temple. The next instant, however, he returned to the Lord’s side and asked him to forgive the Brahmin. Though a Vaishnava may externally appear to be hard-hearted, internally he or she is always filled with compassion and thinks of the welfare of every living being.

Every year during Balaram, Jagannath and Subhadra’s ratha festival, the Lord would make four kirtan groups with his devotees. Svarupa Damodar would sing in the first of these, with Advaita participating as the principal dancer. With other kirtan groups from Shantipur, Sri Khanda and Kulina Grama, there were seven sampradayas altogether. In each group, there were two drummers, meaning that there were 14 altogether. When the kirtan started in each of the seven groups, Mahaprabhu demonstrated his divine powers by appearing simultaneously in the midst of each one of them. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes, “Just as the Lord expands into numerous forms during the rasa dance and to marry the queens in Dvaraka, Lord Chaitanya expanded in order to be present in the midst of each sampradayas’ kirtan. The members of each group were convinced that the Lord was in his group alone and in none of the others.”

When Mahaprabhu wished to dance madly, he would have the seven groups come together and would dance in their midst, appointing nine singers and making Svarupa Damodar the principal singer. As the devotees became progressively intoxicated by the kirtan, Mahaprabhu danced frenziedly for many moments. After this, Mahaprabhu’s mood changed. Svarupa Damodar was able to understand the Lord’s intention and began to sing,

sei to parananatha painu
jaha lagi madana-dahane jhuri genu

”I have finally found my life’s lord, for whom I had so long burned in the flames of desire.”

Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes, “As the Lord’s frenzied dancing came to an end, he became absorbed in the mood of Radharani at Kurukshetra. This song about meeting the beloved after a long separation came naturally to Svarupa Damodar’s lips.” As he felt the mood of union strengthening, the Lord began to loudly recite the following verse:

yah kaumaraharah sa eva hi varas ta eva caitra-kshapas
te conmilita-malati-surabhayah praudhah kadambanilah
sa caivasmi tathapi tatra surata-vyapara-lila-vidhau
reva-rodhasi vetasi-taru-tale cetah samutkanthate
(Kavya-prakasha 1)
My husband (vara) is the same who took my maidenhead
and these the moondrenched nights we knew;
the very breeze is blowing from the Vindhya hills,
heavy with the scent of newly blossomed jasmine.
I too am still the same;
and yet with all my heart I yearn for the reedbeds by the stream
which knew our happy, graceful,
unending bouts of love.

This verse was written about a mundane lover and his mistress, but Mahaprabhu recited it with great respectful feeling. No one could understand what was his hidden intention other than Svarupa Damodar.

The Lord repeated this verse again and again. No one but Svarupa Damodar could understand his intention.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.13.122)

When Rupa Goswami heard the Lord recite this verse, he himself composed a verse which revealed the deeper meaning which the Lord had envisioned. He wrote it down on a palm leaf and hid it in the roof of his cottage. The Lord somehow or other found this palm leaf and when he read it was overcome by prema.

When Mahaprabhu went to the residence of Srila Rupa Goswami, He accidentally saw the palm leaf on the roof, and thus He read the verse composed by him. After reading the verse, he went into a ecstatic mood. While he was in that state, Srila Rupa Goswami came and immediately fell down on the floor like a stick.

The Lord got up and gave him a slap. Then, he embraced him and began to speak as follows: “No one knows the purport of my verse. How could you understand my intention?” Saying this, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bestowed various blessings upon Rupa Goswami, and taking the verse, he later showed it to Svarupa Goswami. With great wonder, the Lord asked him how Rupa Goswami could have understood the intentions of his mind. Srila Svarupa Damodar Goswami replied, “If Rupa Goswami can understand your mind, I believe it must be the result of your special benediction.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.13.66-72)

Rupa Goswami’s verse was the following:

priyah so’yam krishnah sahacari kurukshetra-militas
tathaham sa radha tad idam ubhayoh sangama-sukham
tathapy antah-khelan-madhura-murali-païcama-jushe
mano me kalindi-pulina-vipinaya sprihayati
O companion! This is my beloved Krishna
meeting me here in Kurukshetra;
and I am the same Radha,
and both of us are feeling the joy of union.
Even so, my mind wishes for the forest
by the banks of the Yamuna
where the fifth note of his flute
plays sweetly within my heart.

Mahaprabhu’s vision was that the Jagannath temple was Kurukshetra and the Gundicha temple Vrindavan. In the mood of a gopi, he began to pull on Jagannath’s chariot, pulling him back to Vrindavan. Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami was able to understand all of these various moods that Mahaprabhu experienced during the Rathayatra.

The Lord had relished these topics in his room with Svarupa Damodar for days and nights. When he was overcome with this mood while dancing before the Lord’s chariot, he would repeat this verse while gazing upon Jagannath’s face. No one can describe Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami’s good fortune, for he was completely absorbed, body, mind and soul, in the Lord. His senses are the Lord’s senses, and he would sing so that the Lord could more deeply relish the sentiments of love.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.13.161-4)

Jagannath Deva lives in Dvaraka and desires to go once a year to Vrindavan. This is symbolized by the Rathayatra festival when he travels from the Jagannath temple (Dvaraka) to Gundicha (Vrind_vana). When he goes to Vrindavan, Jagannath does not take Lakshmi with him, because Lakshmi is not qualified to participate in the Vrindavan lila. Only the gopis have such qualifications, and Radha is the best of the gopis.

Shvarupa said, “Listen, my Lord, to the reason for this. Lakshmi does not have the right to participate in the games of Vrindavan. Krishna’s companions in the Vrindavan lila are the gopis, and there are none but they who can enchant his mind.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.14.122-3)

Amongst the gopis, Radha is the best. She is a treasure chest of jewels of love in the bright and spotless sentiment of conjugal love.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.14.160)

Jagannath mounted his chariot after telling Lakshmi that he would be back on the very next day. When Lakshmi saw that the Lord was late in returning, she became angry and gathering up her forces, sallied forth to attack her beloved. Her servants captured the servants of Lord Jagannath and brought them to her. Such lovers’ quarrels are not heard of anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, the mana (loving jealousy) of the gopis is superior to that of Lakshmi, and of all the gopis, that of Radha is the purest. When Mahaprabhu wished to hear about the gopis’ mana from Svarupa Damodar, Svarupa gave him great satisfaction by answering extensively. He was always able to please the Lord because he knew his wishes so intimately.

Bhagavan Acharya and his brother

Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami had a close friendship with the lame Bhagavan Acharya of Halisahar.

Bhagavan Acharya was a great devotee, a scholar and and a man of refined habits. He came to Purushottam to be with the Lord. He was an incarnation of a cowherd who served Krishna in the mood of friendship. His dealings with Svarupa Damodar were also those of a close friend. He was completely surrendered to the Lord’s lotus feet, and he occasionally invited him to eat at his residence.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.2.84-6)

Bhagavan Acharya was a generous and unpretentious Vaishnava. Even so, his father Shatananda Khan was a very materialistic person and his younger brother Gopal Bhattacharya was a mayavadi. When Gopal Bhattacharya came to Puri, the simple, straightforward Bhagavan Acharya asked Svarupa Damodar to listen to his brother speak on Shankara’s Vedanta-bhashya: “Gopal, my younger brother, has come here after finishing his study of Vedanta philosophy. Come everyone and hear the commentary upon Vedanta from him.”

Svarupa Damodar Goswami, however, somewhat angry out of love for Bhagavan Acharya, answered as follows: “You have lost your intelligence in the association of Gopal, and now you are eager to hear the Mayavada philosophy. When a Vaishnava listens to the Shariraka?bhashya, the Mayavada commentary upon Vedanta?sutra, he gives up the attitude that the Lord is the master and the living entity is his servant. Instead, he considers himself to be the Supreme Lord. The Mayavada philosophy is so dangerous that even a highly elevated devotee who has accepted Krishna as his life and soul changes his attitude when he reads the Mayavada philosophy.”

Bhagavan Acharya continued, “We are all fixed at the lotus feet of Krishna with our hearts and souls. Therefore the Shariraka?bhashya cannot change our minds.”

Svarupa Damodar replied, “Nevertheless, when we hear the Mayavada philosophy, we hear that Brahman is the only spiritual reality and that the universe of maya is false, but we gain no spiritual understanding. When a devotee hears the Mayavadi say that the living entity is only imaginary and that the Supreme Lord is a manifestation of ignorance, it breaks his heart and life.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.2.92-99)

Svarupa watches for rasabhasa

Shvarupa Damodar was the personification of ecstatic love, fully cognizant of the transcendental mellows in relationship with Krishna. He was like a second manifestation of Mahaprabhu. If someone wrote a book or composed verses and songs and wanted to recite them before Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Svarupa Damodar would have to first examine them before the Lord would agree to listen. Mahaprabhu was never pleased to hear books or verses opposed to siddhanta, nor did he like hearing rasabhasa, an improper mixture of devotional sentiments. It was the practice of Svarupa Damodar Goswami to examine all works of literature to find out whether their conclusions were correct. Only then would he allow them to be heard by the Lord.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.10.110-114)

One day a poet came from eastern Bengal who wrote according to his own whim. He had written a play and had read it to Bhagavan Acharya who then asked Svarupa Damodar to give an opinion on it. If Svarupa Damodar approved then it could be presented to Mahaprabhu for his enjoyment. Many of the Vaishnavas had praised the literary qualities of the play, and Svarupa Damodar finally agreed to read it after repeated requests from his friend. But after hearing only the invocation verse, Svarupa Damodar pointed out numerous faults in it, demonstrating how it contradicted Vaishnava dogma. When he saw the poet’s distress at being criticized, Svarupa Damodar became compassionate and said,

jaho bhagavata pario vaishnavera sthane
ekanta ashraya karo caitanya-carane
caitanyera bhakta-ganera nitya karo sanga
tabe to janiba siddhanta-samudra-taranga

(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.5.131-2)

Go and study the Bhagavat from a Vaishnava. Take exclusive shelter of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet. Associate constantly with the devotees of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Only then will you be able to understand all the waves of the ocean of Vaishnava philosophy.

It was in Bhagavan Acharya’s house that Chota Hari Das came to beg for fine rice from Madhavi Devi and engaged in conversation with her. As a result of his conversing with a woman, Mahaprabhu ostracized Chota Hari Das. The Lord was as hard as a thunderbolt towards Hari Das, and Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami made an attempt to intercede, persuading Hari Das to eat after he had undertaken a fast. However, Mahaprabhu remained untouched by Svarupa Damodar’s efforts and a year later, Hari Das went to Prayag and gave up his life.

Svarupa and the Goswamis

When Sanatan Goswami came alone to Puri from Mathura, he caught scabies in the Jharikhanda jungle. In Puri, he stayed in Hari Das Thakur’s cottage where Mahaprabhu came to seem him daily, embracing him despite the pus-filled sores which covered his body. Ashamed at his condition, Sanatan decided to commit suicide, but was prevented from doing so by the all-knowing Lord. During his stay in Puri, Sanatan was introduced to all the devotees of the Lord including Svarupa Damodar.

Govardhana Majumdar’s son, Raghunath Das tricked his guru and family priest Yadunandana Acharya into giving him permission to leave his home. He walked to Puri in only twelve days where he met Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu was extremely merciful to Raghunath and turned him over to Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami for tutelage. From that day on he was known as Svarupa’s Raghu.

When he saw Raghunath’s thin and dirty body, the Lord felt sympathy for him. He turned to Svarupa Damodar and said, “I am turning this Raghunath over to you. I want you to take care of him as though he were your own son and personal servant. I have three Raghunaths in my entourage. From now on, we will call this one Svarupa’s Raghu.” After he had said these words, the Lord took Raghunath’s hand and placed it in that of Svarupa Damodar.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.3.201-4)

Raghunath Das never spoke directly to Mahaprabhu. If he wished to make a submission to the Lord, he made it through either Svarupa Damodar or Govinda. He told Svarupa Damodar repeatedly that he wished to hear Mahaprabhu’s personal instructions on how to practice the spiritual life. After Svarupa passed this request on to the Lord,

Mahaprabhu smiled and told Raghunath Das, “I have appointed Svarupa Damodar to be your instructor. You may learn from him about the spiritual practices and their goal. I myself do not know as much as he. Nevertheless, if you have faith in my orders, you you may fix your direction from the following words: Do not listen to gossip. Don’t engage in gossip. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely. Always chant the holy name of Lord Krishna without any expectation of honor, and offering all respect to others. Mentally render service to Radha and Krishna in Vrindavan. I have briefly given you my instructions, you will learn about them in detail from Svarupa Damodar.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.6.233-8)

On the occasion of Hari Das Thakur’s disappearance, the Lord initiated the performance of sankirtan. The devotees surrounded Hari Das Thakur’s body and Svarupa Damodar sang the Holy Names with the devotees while Vakresvara Pandit danced. Svarupa Damodar then went to the Jagannath temple to seek prasad for the feast which followed the burial of Hari Das and he joined Jagadananda Pandit and others to serve the devotees.

Raghunath Bhatta, the son of Tapana Mishra, left his home in Benares to come to Puri via Bengal. When he met Mahaprabhu, the Lord embraced him and introduced him to Svarupa Damodar and the other devotees.

Mahaprabhu’s intense austerities

At a certain time, Mahaprabhu went through a period of intense austerity. Constantly crying the names of Krishna, he lost a great deal of weight due to his feelings of separation. He slept on a bed of plantain bark, taking no notice of the pain which resulted when his bones rubbed against the bark. The devotees, however, were greatly distressed to see his suffering. Jagadananda Pandit in particular was affected and he decided to do something about it. He obtained some fine cloth and dyed it saffron, and then filled it with cotton from the silk cotton tree. In this way he made both a mattress and a pillow for the Lord’s comfort. Jagadananda then asked Govinda Das to give the mattress and pillow to the Lord and Svarupa Damodar to convince him to use them. When it was time for the Lord to go to bed, he saw the nice bed and asked angrily, “Who has made this bed?” When he heard from Govinda that Jagadananda Pandit had given it, he hesitated because Jagadananda was Satyabhama’s incarnation and given to fits of jealous anger. Even so, he had Govinda remove Jagadananda’s bedding and went to sleep on the plantain bark bed. When Svarupa Damodar reminded the Lord that Jagadananda would be distressed if he did not use his bedding, he answered,”A mattress and pillow? Why don’t you just go and get me a bed? A sannyasi is supposed to sleep on the ground. Jagadananda wants me to become a sense enjoyer. This is shameful.”

Jagadananda was indeed upset when he heard from Svarupa Damodar that Mahaprabhu had refused the bedding. Svarupa Damodar cleverly made a mattress and pillow out of dried banana leaves torn into small pieces and stuffed into pieces of the Lord’s used clothes. Despite his reluctance, the Lord accepted this new bedding. This satisfied all the devotees with the exception of Jagadananda, who asked the Lord permission to leave for Vrindavan. Mahaprabhu said, “Jagadananda is angry with me, that is why he wants to go to Vrindavan.” This story gives a brilliant example of Svarupa Damodar’s expertise in serving the Lord.

Mahaprabhu’s ecstasies

As Mahaprabhu’s feelings of separation intensified to the point of seeming insanity, he was kept at night in the Gambhira, behind three locked doors. One day, Svarupa and Govinda noticed that even though the doors were still bolted, Mahaprabhu was missing. In great anxiety, the two of them started to look for the Lord everywhere. Finally they found him near the Lion’s Gate of the Jagannath temple, lying unconscious on the ground with all his joints loosened, his entire form lengthened. Svarupa Damodar started to sing the names of Krishna into the Lord’s ear until suddenly he jumped up, his body returning to its normal condition, and shouted, “Haribol!” When the Lord returned to normal consciousness, Svarupa Damodar led him back to the Gambhira.

One day, the Lord saw the sand dunes and took them to be Govardhana. He ran towards them, while Svarupa Damodar and Jagadananda ran behind him. His body was overwhelmed by the ecstatic transformations and he fell to the ground in a faint. When the devotee’s saw the Lord in this state, they began to cry. He partially regained consciousness when the devotees started to chant the Holy Name aloud. In this state, he started to prattle, “I was at Govardhana. I saw Krishna herding the cows and playing the flute. When they heard the flute, the gopis came running toward him. Srimati Radharani was there and Krishna took here into a grotto. Then suddenly you all started to call me back here. Why did you do that? Just to bring me pain?” The Lord began to cry and the devotees, affected by his great distress at losing his vision, and they joined him in shedding tears.

A few days later, Mahaprabhu was in the Gambhira in the divyonmada state, the madness of separation. Svarupa Damodar and Ramananda Raya stayed up until the middle of the night with the Lord enjoying discussions of Krishna’s pastimes. Finally, after a great deal of effort, they managed to persuade the Lord to lie down and take some rest, after which they each returned to their own quarters. Govinda also slept in the Gambhira. As he chanted the names of Krishna, Mahaprabhu suddenly heard the sound of Krishna’s flute and in the ecstasy which overcame him, he ran out of the Gambhira, even though there were three doors bolted from the outside. This time he fell down amongst a herd of Tailangi cows to the south of the Lion’s Gate. When Govinda heard no answer from the Lord, despite calling for him, he informed Svarupa Damodar of the situation.

Svarupa Damodar organized a search party of devotees with torches until finally they found him lying unconscious in the midst of the cows. This time, his limbs were retracted into his body giving it the appearance of a tortoise; his mouth was covered with foam, there were eruptions on his body and his eyes were filled with tears. He looked like a pumpkin, without any limbs. Externally suffering as though poisoned, internally he was experiencing divine ecstasies. The cows had surrounded the Lord and were sniffing his body, and even when the devotees shooed them away, they would come back, attracted by the Lord. After many attempts to arouse the Lord, when the devotees failed to bring him back to consciousness, they picked him up and carried him to the Gambhira. There they started singing the Holy Names aloud in kirtan. This continued for some time until finally the Lord returned to an external state of consciousness and his body also took on its normal appearance.

Still in a trance-like state, Mahaprabhu asked Svarupa Damodar, “Where have you brought me? I had heard the sound of Krishna’s flute and I went to Vrindavan. I saw Krishna with the cattle, playing his flute. Radha and the gopis understood his signal and came to the bower cottage trysting place. I followed them there and felt ecstasy when hearing the sound of their tinkling ornaments and their voices and laughter. You forced me to come back here and I can no longer hear their humorous conversations, nor the sound of their ornaments and musical instruments.”

Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami recognized the Lord’s state and sang a verse from the Bhagavat in his sweet voice:

ka stry-anga te kala-padayata-venu-gita-
sammohitarya-caritan na calet trilokyam
trailokya-saubhagam idam ca nirikshya rupam
yad go-dvija-druma-mrigah pulakany abibhrat
O dear one!
What woman within these three worlds
would not be captivated by the sweet rhythms
of your wonderful flute-song?
What woman would not abandon
her vows of chastity as a result?
For upon beholding your beauty,
the most sublime in this universe
even cows, birds, trees and animals
horripilate in jubilation.
(BhP 10.29.40)

As soon as the Lord heard this verse, he once again merged into the mood of the gopis and began to sing all the statements which the gopis made in separation from Krishna, known as citra-jalpa.

The Lord jumps into the sea

Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has described another extraordinary event of this type. Once, during a full-moon evening in autumn, the Lord was inspired to remember Krishna’s rasa-lila. Accompanied by his devotees, he wandered through the Ai Tota garden next to the Gundicha temple, relishing songs about the rasa dance. As they approached the seashore, Mahaprabhu took the sea to be the Yamuna River and jumped into it. His body floated south toward Konarka until a fisherman caught him in his nets, thinking him to be a large fish. When he dragged the Lord on board his boat, he saw that all his limbs were distended, transformed into a giant human form. Upon touching him, the fisherman was immediately infused with prema and started crying and calling the name of Krishna.

Meanwhile, Svarupa Damodar and the other devotees were desperately seeking the Lord. Finally they saw the fisherman standing on the shore with the Lord on his shoulders. When Svarupa saw the fisherman in a state of ecstatic transformation, he came and explained who Mahaprabhu was, but still had to slap him several times before he calmed down. Then the devotees began to sing the Holy Names aloud until the Lord jumped up with a roar. Once again, while in a state of half-absorption in trance, Mahaprabhu recounted everything that he had experienced. Mahaprabhu had been in the world of Krishna’s rasa-lila and water sports. When they heard all his ecstatic utterances, the devotees trembled in awareness of the Lord’s divine loving madness. Then they led him back to the Gambhira.

The Lord’s final days

When Advaita Acharya sent the riddle message back from Bengal with Jagadananda Pandit, indicating that the Lord’s pastimes would soon come to an end, Svarupa Damodar became distracted, while the Lord’s divine madness became more and more intense. In his final instructions to Svarupa Damodar and Ramananda Raya, the Lord made it very clear that Harinama sankirtan is the supreme method for attaining love for Krishna.

The Lord, in a wave of jubilation say, “Listen Svarupa Damodar and Ramananda Raya! In the age of Kali, Harinama sankirtan is the supreme means of deliverance. In the age of Kali, Krishna is to be worshiped by the congregational chanting of his Holy Names. This is the way that an intelligent person attains the lotus feet of Krishna. Through the chanting of the Holy Name, all of one’s sinful reactions are extinguished and all auspiciousness arises until finally one experiences the joys of love for Krishna.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.20.8-11)

After saying this, the Lord recited his own eight verses known as the Shikshashtaka. As he relished them, he felt more and more humble in feelings of separation from Krishna. Taking on the mood of Srimati Radharani, he became totally absorbed in love for Krishna.

Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami and Ramananda Raya remained constantly by the Lord’s side throughout his ecstasies in divyonmada, calming him and enriching his feelings of love. Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami left the world on the day of Lord Jagannath’s Rathayatra, not long after the Lord’s disappearance.

Sri Shivananda Sena pura vrindavane vira duti sarvash ca gopikah
ninaya krishna-nikatam sedanim janako mama
(Gaura?ganoddesha?dipika 176)

The go-between Vira, who previously brought all the gopis to Krishna, is my father.

Shivananda’s home and family

Shivananda Sena’s son, Paramananda Sena, also known as Kavi Karnapura, wrote this verse in his Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika. Just as Vira Duti acted to enrich the pastimes of Krishna and the gopis, Shivananda Sena appeared to enrich Gaura Hari’s lila. Shivananda Sena’s home was in the present day city of Halisahar, in Kumarahatta near Kancariaparia. This is the same town in which Isvara Puri, Mahaprabhu’s guru, was born. Mahaprabhu took the earth from Isvara Puri’s birthplace. Ever since, devotees have been taking earth from that spot, leaving a hole in the ground big enough to form a pool that has taken the name of Sri Chaitanya Toba.

After Mahaprabhu took sannyas, Srivasa Pandit and his family found it impossible painful to remain in Nabadwip and so moved to Kumarahatta. Other notable residents of the town were Vasudeva Datta Thakur, Khanja Bhagavan Das and others. The Gaura Gopal deity installed by Shivananda Sena is still being worshiped in the Krishnaraya temple in Kanchra Para.

Shivananda Sena was present when Mahaprabhu came to visit Srivasa Pandit’s house in Kumaahatta:

Vasudeva Datta came immediately, as did Shivananda Sena and his family members.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.5.18)

A Vaishnava may take birth in any family. Shivananda Sena manifested his lila of being born in the Vaidya or physician caste for its glory.

Sri Shivananda Sena had three sons: Sri Chaitanya Das, Sri Rama Das and Sri Paramananda Kavi Karnapur.

All the devotees went to Puri at the time of the Rathayatra in order to see Mahaprabhu. Shivananda Sena managed these trip, taking responsibility for the route the devotees took, the costs of both coming and going, their lodgings, etc.

On the Lord’s orders, every single year all the devotees came to see the Rathayatra…. Amongst them were Krishna’s own singer, Mukunda Datta and Shivananda Sena and others who were accompanied by their family members.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.8.5, 15)

Shivananda’s service

Shivananda Sena took care of the paying the customs duties and ferry fees for the group. He took personal care of everyone in the pilgrimage. He care of all the devotees’ necessities, especially making lodging arrangements. He knew the roads through Orissa and would show the way.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.16.19-20)

In the third year, when Mahaprabhu’s associates took their wives with them, Shivananda Sena also took his wife and son, Sri Chaitanya Das. The Chaitanya Charitamrita’s description of that trip is as follows:

Malini accompanied Srivasa Pandit, Shivananda Sena’s wife travelled with him. Shivananda’s little boy named Chaitanya Das also jubilantly came along with them to see the Lord… Shivananda Sena dealt with customs officials and made eating and lodging arrangements, ecstatically going on the road to see Mahaprabhu.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.16.22-3, 26-7)

One of Mahaprabhu’s dear devotees was Vasudeva Datta from Chittagong. He was very generous and somewhat prodigal in his spending. Mahaprabhu told Shivananda Sena to take charge of his affairs to help him cut back on his expenses, giving practical instructions on the necessity of earning money to run a household.

He respectfully said to Shivananda Sena, “Please take Vasudeva Datta to hand. He is too generous. He spends whatever he earns on the very same day. He is a householder, he has to save some money; if he doesn’t do so, he will not be able to maintain his wife and family. I want you to supervise his income and expenditures; be his manager and resolve his difficulties.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.15.93-96)

Shivananda Sena and the dog

In the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has told an anecdote about the amazing relationship between Shivananda Sena and a dog.

One year, as the pilgrimage party was on its way to Puri, a dog began to tag along with it. When they had to cross a certain river, the ferryman refused to allow the dog to get on board the ferry. Shivananda Sena finally paid him 10 panas of cowry shells to get it across. One day, Shivananda’s servant forgot to feed the dog and it disappeared. He sent ten men to find the animal, but they had no success. Shivananda was so upset that he did not eat his meal that evening. In great anxiety, the devotees reached Puri and met Mahaprabhu and then went to the temple to see Jagannath. Mahaprabhu ate with the devotees and at the end of the meal sent them all to their lodgings. The next day, the devotees came to see Mahaprabhu and were amazed to see the dog there. Mahaprabhu was laughing and giving coconut prasad to the animal and was saying, “Chant Hare Krishna, Hare Rama!” The dog was clearly barking out the names and eating the prasad given him by the Lord. Everyone was completely astonished to see this extraordinary happening. Shivananda Sena prostrated himself on the ground in obeisances to the dog and begged him for forgiveness with all humility. After this, the dog disappeared and was never seen again. By Mahaprabhu’s mercy, the dog had received a spiritual body and gone to Vaikuntha.

The next day, no one saw the dog anywhere for it had obtained a spiritual body and gone to Vaikuntha. These are the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sachinandana: he made a dog say the names of Krishna and then he sent him to the spiritual world.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.1.32-3)

Shivananda Sena and Nakula Brahmachari

During the period of Muslim rule, the county courthouse in the town of Kalna in the district of Burdwan was in the neighborhood named Ambika. This neighborhood was known then as Ambua Muluk, today as Pyari Ganj. A great Vaishnava named Nakula Brahmachari lived there. Mahaprabhu entered into Nakula’s heart out of his desire to deliver the people of Bengal, The brahmachari began to behave just like someone who was possessed by the planets and would dance, sing and shout in a deep mood of divine love. Both his inner attitude and his physical appearance took on Mahaprabhu’s nature.

When people heard about the miraculous occurrences surrounding Nakula Brahmachari, they flocked to see him. In his presence everyone would be influenced by his absorption in Mahaprabhu’s mood; they would sing Krishna’s names and begin to experience the taste of Krishna-prema.

When he heard about all this, Shivananda Sena could not at first believe that it was true and he decided to test Nakula Brahmachari to eradicate his doubts. He came to Ambika, but kept himself at some distance from the brahmachari. His idea was that if Nakula were truly possessed by Mahaprabhu, he would call out to him and tell him what his own secret mantra was. In spite of the fact that Shivananda was invisible in the great crowd of countless devotees, Nakula called out his name and sent people to look for him. When he heard his name being called, Shivananda came forth and paid his obeisances to Nakula. The brahmachari said,

“You doubted me, so listen carefully and I will put an end to your doubts. Your worshipable mantra is the four-syllable Gaura-Gopal mantra. Give up the uncertainty which you kept in your heart.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.2.30-31)

When he heard this, Shivananda became convinced that Nakula Brahmachari was indeed filled with the presence of Mahaprabhu. He paid his prostrated obeisances to him and acknowledged his faith and devotion to him. This is just one example of Mahaprabhu’s inconceivable potencies.

Shivananda Sena and Nrisimhananda Brahmachari

Shivananda Sena had a nephew, Srikanta Sena, who was so eager to see the Lord that one year he went to Puri alone. Mahaprabhu treated him warmly and kept him for two months before instructing him to return to Bengal. He told him to convey the message to the Bengali devotees that there was no need for them to come to Puri that year, for he himself would be visiting Bengal in the month of Paush. He would then meet with them all and eat at Jagadananda’s house. When Srikanta returned with the news, everyone was jubilant in expectation of the Lord’s visit. But when the time of Mahaprabhu’s expected arrival approached, Shivananda, Jagadananda and the others who had been waiting anxiously were distressed to see that he did not come.

At that time, Pradyumna Brahmachari (who had been given the name Nrisinghananda by Mahaprabhu) happened by and asked them why everyone was so unhappy. When he heard about their disappointment over Mahaprabhu’s non-arrival, he assured them that he would bring Mahaprabhu there within three days. Everyone knew of Pradyumna’s spiritual powers and so they believed him.

Pradyumna sat down in meditation. After two days, he said, “Mahaprabhu has arrived in Panihati. By midday tomorrow he will be at Shivananda’s house.” Without showing the slightest doubt, he ordered Shivananda Sena to start making preparations for a feast in honor of Mahaprabhu’s arrival. Nrisinghananda personally started cooking early in the morning, and made a large variety of preparations, which he distributed onto three plates to make offerings to Jagannath, Nrisinghadeva and to Mahaprabhu. As soon as he sat down in meditation for the offerings, Mahaprabhu personally appeared and ate all three offerings, without leaving any remnants.

Pradyumna was overjoyed to see the Lord accept his offerings. Nevertheless, though he well knew that on a higher level there is no distinction between Mahaprabhu, Nrisingha and Jagannath, in order to demonstrate the principle of devotion to one’s own personal worshipable deity, he said, “Nrisinghadeva has not eaten anything today.” Shivananda asked why this was so and Pradyumna Brahmachari answered,

“Mahaprabhu ate the offerings intended for all three deities. Therefore Nrisingha and Jagannath have gone hungry.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.2.71)

When he heard this, Shivananda felt a twinge of doubt. Nevertheless, he furnished Pradyumna with more raw foodstuffs so that he could prepare another offering for Nrisinghadeva. The next year, when Shivananda came to Nilachala, Mahaprabhu one day started to glorify Nrisinghananda’s virtues to all the devotees.

“Last year in the month of Paush, he gave me such a nice meal. I have never tasted such delicious rice and vegetables!”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.2.77)

All the devotees were struck with wonder at hearing this, and Shivananda himself became confident that the incident was true. This is another example of Mahaprabhu’s mercy to Shivananda.

Nityananda Prabhu’s punishment of Shivananda

Shivananda Sena also received much mercy from Nityananda Prabhu. One day Nityananda kicked Shivananda who thus received the touch of his lotus feet, a rare attainment for even Brahma and the demigods. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has described this incident in the 12th chapter of the Chaitanya Charitamrita’s Antya-lila. After the disappearance of Hari Das Thakur, Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic transformations increased day by day. That year, the devotees gathered in Nabadwip as usual in preparation for the journey to Puri. Nityananda also joined the party, even though Mahaprabhu had expressly forbidden him to come. Shivananda was accompanied by his wife and three sons. Since he knew the roads of Orissa, he was in charge of the party and would take care of the customs agents, toll collectors, etc., along the way.

Normally, Shivananda would cross the tollgate last, after first insuring that all members of the party had gone through. On one occasion, the procedure took longer than usual and since Shivananda had not arranged for lodgings for the company in the nearby village, the devotees were obliged to stand and sit about under a tree until quite late at night. While waiting for Shivananda to come through the tollgate, Nityananda Prabhu appeared to take on the mood of a cowherd boy from Vraja overcome by hunger. He made a pretense of being angry at Shivananda, complaining, “Shiva has still not come and arranged for a place for us to stay and I am dying of hunger. I curse his three sons to die.”

On hearing Nityananda make such a curse, Shivananda’s wife started to cry. When Shivananda finally returned from paying the toll collector, he had to calm his wife. He said, “Foolish woman! Why are you needlessly crying? Let our sons die for the inconvenience we have caused Nityananda Prabhu.”

He then went to speak to Nityananda, who kicked him in the head as he paid his obeisances. Shivananda was overjoyed to receive the merciful touch of the Lord’s foot and immediately went to arrange quarters for the night in the house of a milkman. When Shivananda had brought Nityananda Prabhu to his lodgings, he glorified him and prayed to receive the touch of his feet again and again. He said,

“Today you have accepted me as your servant, for you have punished me appropriately as you would your own servant. You are so compassionate that even your punishments are a sign of your causeless mercy. Who in the three worlds can understand your personality? The dust of your feet is unattainable by even Brahma, yet it has fallen on my wretched body. My life, my family and my service have all become perfected today. Today I have attained devotion to Krishna, as well as all the other goals of human life.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.12.27-30)

Nityananda was so pleased by Shivananda’s prayers that he embraced him. However, Srikanta, Shivananda’s nephew, had been upset by Nityananda’s behavior. He thought, “Shivananda is Mahaprabhu’s dear associate and respected by all the devotees, and yet Nityananda has kicked him in the head.” He left the party and went ahead to Puri on his own. Upon his arrival, he went to Mahaprabhu and paid his prostrated obeisances. Mahaprabhu first told his servant Govinda to instruct Srikanta to take off his upper garments when paying obeisances. Then, knowing his thoughts, he said to his associates,

“Srikanta has come on his own because of some great mental distress. Don’t say anything to him; let him do as he wishes.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.12.38)

From these words, Srikanta could understand that Mahaprabhu is all-knowing and so said nothing about the incident to anyone. The Lord is so affectionate to his devotees that even their friends and relations are also dear to him.

aham bhaktaparadhino hy asvatantra iva dvija
sadhubhir grasta-hridayo bhaktair bhakta-janapriyah

I am under the control of my devotees, O Brahmin, as though I were completely lacking any independence. The saintly devotees have taken possession of my heart, for I am dear to them and they to me. (Srimad Bhagavatam 9.4.63)

Mahaprabhu’s mercy on Shivananda’s family

Due to their relation to Shivananda, his wife and three sons also received the Lord’s unlimited mercy. He named his youngest son Paramananda Das in accordance with Mahaprabhu’s instruction. Mahaprabhu would jokingly call him Puri Das. When Shivananda presented the little child to him, the Lord affectionately allowed him to suck on his toe.

Who can find the limits of the ocean of Shivananda’s good fortune? The Lord accepted his entire family as his own. Then he sat down and ate with all the devotees. As he washed his mouth and hands after the meal, he said to Govinda: “As long as Shivananda Sena, his wife and child remain in Puri, you should give them my remnants.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.12.51-3)

Mahaprabhu’s unlimited mercy on Shivananda’s youngest son, Puri Das, is described in the sixteenth chapter of the Antya-lila. One year, when Shivananda and his wife were in Puri for the Rathayatra, Mahaprabhu said to the little boy, “Say Krishna, say Krishna!” Though the Lord asked him to chant repeatedly, the boy refused to utter the Holy Name. His embarrassed father also tried to get him to chant, but the child was steadfast in his refusal. Mahaprabhu said that he had induced everyone in the universe, even including the lower forms of life, to chant the names of Krishna, but was unable to make this little child do so. What could be the reason? Svarupa Damodar realized what it was: “You have instructed him in the mantra consisting of Krishna’s name. Now that he has received the mantra, he will not reveal it publicly but only chants it mentally. That is my guess.”

In his Anubhashya, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has written: “The mantra which one has received from the guru is not to be revealed to anyone else, otherwise it will lose its potency. We have seen this previously from the story about Gadadhara Pandit.”

Another day, Mahaprabhu asked Puri Das to recite a verse. Puri Das broke his silence and recited a verse of his own composition that astonished all those who heard it. Even Brahma and the gods cannot understand the glories of Mahaprabhu’s mercy. Puri Das, or Kavi Karnapura’s verse:

shravasoh kuvalayam akshnor
aïjanam uraso mahendramanidama
mandanam akhilam harir jayatiAll glories to Hari,
the ornament for all the beauties of Vrindavan,
who is a blue lotus for their ears,
black collyrium for their eyes,
and a necklace of blue sapphires
to decorate their breast.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.16.74)Shivananda and Raghunatha Das Goswami

When Raghunatha Das Goswami left home, using a service to his guru Yadunandana Acharya as a pretext, his father Govardhana Majumdar, sent ten men to Shivananda, who was already on his way to Puri, asking him to send Raghunatha Das back. They did not find Raghunatha Das, however, and so returned empty-handed. At the end of the rainy season, when Shivananda and the other devotees returned from Puri, Govardhana Majumdar heard from some of them that Raghunatha Das was engaged in strict austere practices and begging near the Singha Dvara of the Jagannath temple. His father and mother were greatly distressed by his departure and the next time that the devotees went to Puri, Govardhana gave 400 rupees to Shivananda for his son. Raghunatha refused to accept this money for himself. Shivananda Sena’s son Kavi Karnapura glorified Raghunatha Das extensively in his play, Chaitanya Candrodaya.

The dates of Shivananda Sena’s appearance and disappearance are not known, nor the names of his parents or wife.

Excerpted from “Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj
Mandala Publishing 2001.

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