Chaitanya's Life and Teachings

by Krishna-das Kaviraj | 1922 | 90,709 words

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is revered by devotees as an incarnation of Krishna and Radharani as avatars of the Parmatma, or Supreme Godhead. He was born in an Oriya Hindu family. According to beliefs of orthodox followers Caitanya Mahaprabhu united in himself two aspects: ecstatic devotee of Krishna and Krishna himself in inseparable union with Radha....

Chapter III - The Legend of Gopal the Witness

Glory to Chaitanya! Glory to Nityánanda! Glory to Adwaita! and Glory to the followers of Chaitanya!

On His way the Master came to the village of Jajpur, where He bowed to the image of Varáha. He danced and sang in love and prayed long, passing the night in that village. To Katak[1] He went to see the Sakshi-Gopal, whose beauty threw Him into a rapture. After dance and song He prayed to the Gopal with abstraction. That night during His halt there with His disciples He heard the legend of Gopal. Nityánanda in his former pilgrimage had come to Katak, seen the Sakshi-Gopal, and heard the legends of the god, which he now narrated to the Master. Once on a time two Brahmans of Vidya-nagar [Rajmahendri] set out on a pilgrimage, and after visiting Gaya, Benares, Allahabad, &c., reached Mathura. They made a tour of the [Mahá-] ban, and beheld Govardhan and the Twelve Woods, known as Dwádash ban, finally going to Brindában. In the great temple Gopal was worshipped with great pomp. They bathed at the Keshi ghát, the pool of Káliya, and other places, and rested in the temple of Gopal, whose beauty ravished their hearts. There they blissfully passed a few days. One of the Brahmans being old had been tended carefully by the younger one. The old man, pleased with his attendance, said, "Long have you served me, and through your help have I performed my pilgrimage. Even a son does not serve his father so lovingly. Through your kindness I have been saved every trouble. It will be rank ingratitude if I do not honour you. So I shall wed my daughter to you." The youth replied, "Listen, sir! Why talk of that which cannot be? You are a high kulin, great in learning and Wealth, while I am a non-kulin lacking in scholarship and riches. I am no worthy match for your daughter. Through love of Krishna have I served you, as he is pleased with attention to Brahmans. What pleases the Lord increases the store of faith." The elder answered, "Doubt not. What wonder is there in it that I should give you my daughter?" The younger Brahman rejoined, "You have a large circle of kindred, friends and sons, without whose consent you cannot possibly wed your daughter to me. Witness the case of Bhishmak, the father of Rukmini, who was opposed by his son in giving his daughter, as he wished, to Krishna." The old man answered, "My daughter is my property. Who can oppose me in giving away what is mine? I shall give you my daughter in despite of all. Don't doubt it, but derive your consent." The youth said, "If you have really decided to give me your daughter, make a vow before Gopal." The old Brahman addressed Gopal and said, "Know that I shall give my daughter to this man." The youth added, "Lord, be thou my witness, and I shall summon thee to give thy testimony if he breaks his promise."

So saying the two returned to their homes, the young man serving the other like an elder. The old man now reflected, "I pledged my word to this Brahman in a holy place, but how can I keep it? I must consult my wife, sons, kindred and friends." So, one day he gathered his own folk and told them the whole story, at which they lamented and cried "Never utter such words again! You will lose your kul if you wed your daughter to a low-born man. You will be a laughing stock to all!" The Brahman urged, "How can I retract a promise made in a holy place? Come what may, I will give him my daughter." His kinsfolk threatened to boycott him, and his wife and children to take poison. The Brahman pleaded, "He will make a case of it by calling his witness. When he wins my daughter by a decree, my faith will be proved worthless!" His son answered, "Oh! the witness is an idol in a far-off land. Who will bear testimony against you? Do not be alarmed. You need not tell the lie that you had never made him such a promise; you will only have to pretend forgetfulness. If you do that I shall beat the Brahman in court." At this the Brahman, full of anxiety, prayed intently to Gopal, "Gopal, to thee I appeal: save my faith and save my kindred, save both sides!"

One day the younger Brahman visited him, bowed reverently, and said with folded hands, "You promised me your daughter, but are now silent on the point! Is this your sense of justice?" The old man remained silent; but his son ran with a stick to beat the visitor, crying, "Wretch! you want to wed my sister! Dwarf, you wish to catch the moon!" The youth fled, but another day he called all the villagers together, who summoned the old man. Then the younger Brahman spoke, "This man promised his daughter to me. Ask him why he does not give her up now." On being questioned by the people, the elder Brahman replied, "Listen, friends, I do not remember what I said so long ago." At this his son got the chance to put in his words boldly, "My father had much money with him during his pilgrimage. This villain, his only companion, coveted the money, intoxicated him with dhuturá, robbed him and said that thieves had taken away his money, and then spread the tale that he had promised his daughter to him. Judge ye all, whether he is a worthy match for my sister." The assembled people were filled with suspicion, as greed often makes men commit sin. The younger Brahman pleaded, "Hear, my masters, he is lying to win the case. His father, pleased with my attendance, promised me his daughter voluntarily, and when I declined alleging my unworthiness and our disparity in wealth, learning and kul, he repeatedly pressed me to accept her, and at my suggestion called Gopal to witness his promise. I conjured the god to bear testimony for me, should this Brahman break his word. He is my witness, whose word is held true in the three worlds." The old man replied, "This is good. If Gopal appears here and bears testimony, I shall certainly give you my daughter." His son agreed to it. The old man only thought, "Kind is Krishna. Surely he will bear my word out." His son was confident that the image would not come to act as a witness. So thinking diversely they agreed. At the younger Brahman's request both parties signed a written deed of agreement to abide by this test, to prevent future disputes. It was left with an umpire. The young man continued, "Listen, all ye here! This Brahman is pious and true of speech, never wishing to retract his word. It is only his fear of the suicide of his kinsfolk that has made him tell a lie. Thanks to his piety, I will bring Krishna as a witness and enable Hm to keep his word." At this the sceptics laughed; some said, "God is good, He may come."

Then the younger Brahman went to Brindában, prostrated himself and prayed to the image, "God of the Brahmans! thou art ever kind. Have pity and save the honour of two Brahmans. I mind not whether I get the girl or not, but it would be a great pity if a Brahman's promise is broken. For this reason, do thou bear witness, for he who will not bear testimony to the truth that he knows, commits a sin." Krishna replied, "Brahman! return home, assemble the public, and meditate on me. I shall appear and give my evidence. But my image can not be taken there." The Brahman protested, "Even if you appear in your four-armed form, none will believe you. But if this very image goes there and speaks out of its mouth, then all will deem it true." Krishna said, "Nobody ever heard of an idol travelling!" The Brahman replied "Why do you speak of being an idol? You are not a mere image but the Darling of Brindában. Do an unprecedented act for the sake of a Brahman." Laughingly Gopal said, "Hear, Brahman, I shall travel after you; but do not look behind, or else I shall stop there. You will hear (on the way) only the jingling of my nupur, and thus know that I am going on. Give me one seer of rice [daily], which I shall eat when accompanying you." Next day, after taking the Lord's leave, the Brahman set out on his return, delighted to hear the jingle of the nupur behind him, and offering excellent rice to the image. So he arrived near his village and then thought, "Now have I come to my village and shall go home and tell the people of the arrival of my witness. But I cannot believe if I do not see him with my own eyes. It will be no harm if he stays here. So he looked behind him; and Gopal stopped there, saying with a smile, "Go home; here will I stay without going any further."

When the Brahman reported the tale, the people marvelled at it, and came to see the witness. They bowed to Gopal, delighted with his beauty and amazed to hear that the image had travelled thither. Then the old Brahman in joy prostrated himself before Gopal, who gave his evidence before the people, and the younger Brahman got his betrothed bride. The Lord spoke to the two Brahmans, "You will be my servants birth after birth. I am pleased with you; beg a boon." They prayed together, "Grant us this that you remain here, so that all may know your favour to your servants." Gopal remained there, and the two served him. The people of the country flocked to see him. The king of the land heard the wonderful legend and beheld the Gopal with supreme delight. He built a temple and endowed the service of the god, who became famous under the name of GOPAL THE WITNESS. Thus has Sakshi-Gopal accepted, worship and stayed at Vidya-nagar for long. Purushottam, the Rajah of Orissa, conquered the country in battle and seized the many-jewelled throne named mánik-sinhásan. Purushottam Dev was a great devotee and entreated Gopal to go to his capital. Gopal, pleased with his piety, consented and was taken to Katak, where his worship was installed. The Rajah gave the mánik-sinhásan to Jagannáth. His queen, when visiting Gopal, gave him many ornaments in devotion. A costly pearl hung from her nose, and wishing to give it too she reflected, "Ah, if there had been a hole in the Lord's nose, I, his hand maid, could have made him put this pearl on!" With this thought she bowed and returned home. At the end of the night Gopal appeared to her in a dream and said, "In my infancy my mother had bored my nose and very tenderly hung there a pearl. The hole is there still. Make me wear the pearl you wished to give." The queen spoke to her husband, and the two went to the temple with the pearl, hung it from the hole in the nose which was found out, and a great festival of joy was held. From that day on has Gopal stayed at Katak and been known as Sakshi-Gopal.

The master with all His disciples heard the legend of Gopal from Nityánanda and was delighted. While He stood before Gopal, the faithful seemed to see them both as of one body, of one complexion, large-limbed, red-robed, grave of mien, beaming with glory, lotus-eyed, moon-faced, both of them in rapture for each other.

At the sight of both, Nityánanda in great joy winked at the faithful and they all smiled. So the night was passed in great entertainment, and next morning, after witnessing the matin service, they set off. Brindában-das has described fully how He visited Bhubaneshwar on the way (to the Blue Mountain). At Kamalpur He bathed in the Bhagi[2] river, and gave His mendicant's stick to Nityánanda to carry. With his disciples He went to see Kapoteshwar [Shiva]. Here Nityánanda broke the Master's stick into three and threw it (into the river). From that Shiva shrine the Master returned, and was thrown into ecstasy by the sight of the spire[3] of the temple of Jagannáth. He prostrated Himself and danced in love; the disciples too, in love, danced and sang, following the Master on the highway. He laughed, wept, danced, roared and shouted, and made a thousand leagues of those six miles. On reaching Athára-nála (Eighteen Water courses) the Master came to His senses a little and asked Nityánanda for His stick. But Nityánanda answered, "It was broken into three bits. You fell down in a swoon of devotion, and as I caught you, we two tumbled on the stick which was broken by our weight. I know not where it was dropped. Through my fault was your stick broken. Punish me as you think fit." The Master was sad and spoke a little bitterly, "You have all done me great good, forsooth, by coming to the Blue Mountain! You could not even preserve the stick, my only property. You go before me to see Jagannáth or let me go there before you. But we will not go together." Mukunda Datta said, "Master, go thou before us; we shall arrive after and not in thy company". The Master hastened there. None could understand the cause why one Master broke the other's stick and why the latter suffered it to be done, or was angry at the result. The deep mystery of the breaking of the stick can be understood only by him who has constant faith in the two Masters. [Text, canto 5.]

Footnotes and references:


The image of Sakshi-Gopal is now installed at a village of the same name 48 miles south of Katak town.


Indian Atlas (sheet 116) names the river here as Bargovee.


The place meant is evidently Jagannáth Vallabh, six miles north of Puri; from this place the spire of the temple of Jagannáth can be seen. Athára-nála is two miles north of Puri.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: