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 XIII - The Dinner at Sárvabhauma's House

Thus did the Master live at the Niláchal with His followers, engaged in dancing, singing, and delight. In the first year (of His stay) He used to visit Jagannáth to whom He bowed, hymned, danced and sang. When the god's Upala-bhog was offered, He issued from the temple and took Haridas home with Himself, and there chanted Hari's name.

Adwaita arriving there adored the Master, washed His feet with perfumed water, rubbed Him all over with fragrant sandal-paste, placed a garland round His neck and the tufted Tulsi flower on His head, prostrated himself at the Master's feet, and adored Him with folded palms. The Master adored the Acharya with the flowers and Tulsi leaves left over on the ritual tray, and recited the verse "I bow to thee, that art what thou art!" Then He made a playful sound with His lips and had a laugh at the Acharya. Thus did the two honour each other. The Acharya repeatedly asked the Master to dinner. . . The Master with His party dined at the houses of the different bhaktas on successive days. Thus did they spend four months in His company, witnessing all the festivals of Jagannáth.

On Krishna's Nativity Day took place the ceremony of Nanda's grand festival, at which the Master with His bhaktas personated the cowherds [of Mathura]. On His own shoulders did He carry the loads of milk and curds to the place of the ceremony, shouting Hari's name. Kánái Khuntiá played the róle of Nanda and Jagannáth Mahanti that of the queen of Braja. With Pratap Rudra himself, Kashi Mishra, Sarvabhaunia, and the Parichhá (minister) Tulsi, the Master danced and sported, spattering all their bodies with milk, curds and yellow liquid. Adwaita said, "Bear with me when I tell the truth. I shall know you for a cowherd only if you can brandish a staff!" At this the Master began to play with the staff. He tossed it in the air and caught it repeatedly as it fell. He swung it round His head, behind, before, on the two sides, and between the legs, spectators laughing. The stick circled round and round like a lathe, all men wondering at the sight. Similarly Nityánanda too played with his staff. Who can fathom the deep cowherd mood of these two? At the king's command, Tulsi Parichha brought out a costly cloth, once worn by Jagannáth, and tied it round the Master's head. [Other clothes] were presented to the Acharya and other followers of the Master. Kanai Khuntia and Jagannáth Mahanti, in their enthusiasm, gave away all the wealth of their houses. At this the Master was greatly delighted, and bowed to them as his parents (i.e., as Nanda and his wife, the foster-parents of Krishna). In deep spiritual exaltation did He return to His quarters. Thus did Chaitanya play.

On the Bijaya-dashami, the day of the storming of Lanka, the Master with His followers played the part of the monkey army [of Ram]. Transported by the spirit of Hanuman, He seized a branch and broke it off as if it were the citadel of Lanka, shouting in a rage, "Where art thou, Ravan! Thou hast kidnapped the Mother of the World. Wretch! I shall destroy thee with thy kith and kin." The people marvelled at His passion and exclaimed "Glory! glory!" So, too, did He witness the celebration of Rása-yátrá, Dipávali and Utthán-dwádashi. One day He and Nityánanda formed a plan in secret, the nature of which His followers afterwards guessed only from the result. Calling all His bhaktas together, He said, "Return ye all to Bengal. Come here every year and visit the Gundichá garden with me." On Adwaita Acharya he honourably laid His command, "Teach the lesson of faith in Krishna to all men, down to the Chandals." Nityánanda was bidden, "Go to Bengal. Freely proclaim the gospel of devotion and love. Ramdas, Gadadhar and some others will assist you. Now and then I shall be with you, and standing unseen shall witness your dancing." Embracing Shribas Pandit, He clung to his neck and said tenderly, "In the kirtan at your house I shall always dance. You alone of all men will be able to see me. Give my mother this cloth and all this prasád bow to her and beg her pardon for all my faults. I have turned a monk leaving her service; this has been an act of irreligion and not of religion on my part. I am bound by her love; service to her is my religion. It has been madness on my part to quit it. Tell her to have pity on me, as No mother finds fault with a crazy child. What need have I of monachism? Love is wealth to me; I must have gone out of my mind when I turned sannyasi. At her command I am staying at the Niláchal. I shall occasionally go home to see her. Daily do I go and behold her feet; she feels a delighted sensation but does not admit it as true. One day [for instance] she cooked rice, five or six vegetable soups, sák, mochághanta, fried patal, nim leaves, lemon, bits of ginger, curds, milk, and sugar and cream, and offered these many dishes to Saligrám. Taking up the prasád she lamented, All these were Nimái's favourite dishes. He is not here. So I went there quickly and ate up every thing. On seeing the empty dish she wiped her tears and asked, Who has eaten the rice and soups? Why is the dish empty? Has the young Gopal (idol) eaten them up? Or has an illusion seized my mind? Has some animal came in and devoured them? Or did I by mistake serve no food on the plate at all? So thinking she looked again at the cooking-pots and found them full, to her wonder and suspicion [of defilement by some beast or demon]. She then called Ishan, had the place cleaned, and offered rice to the god Gopal afresh. Thus, whenever she cooks nice dishes, she weeps in eager desire to feed me on them. Her affection compels me to eat (the food there); and she is pleased at heart, though outwardly she is disconsolate. This happened on the last Bijayá-dashami day. Say unto her and make her believe." Though overcome in making this speech, the Master composed Himself in order to bid farewell to the bhaktas.

To Raghav Pandit He spoke feelingly, "Your pure devotion has made me your servant. Hear, all ye, the story of his serving Krishna in the most pious and excellent manner. Let me speak of one thing only, namely his offering of cocoanut as bhog. In his place cocoanut sells at five gandás [i.e., quarter anna each]. Though his orchards have hundreds of cocoanut palms yielding lakhs of fruits, yet wherever he hears of very sweet cocoanuts, he procures them at the price of four annas for one, even from 20 miles distance. Every day he strips the fibre off five or six fruits and cools them in water. Then at bhog he smoothes them and making small holes at the top offers the fruits to Krishna, who drinks the milk within, and leaves the fruits empty or full of liquid at different times. When the fruit is empty of milk, the Pandit rejoices, cracks the nut and spreading the kernel on a hundred dishes, offers them to Krishna, while he meditates outside (the god's dining room). Krishna eats the offering, and leaves the dishes bare, or fills them again with the kernel. At this the Pandit's devotion grows and he swims in the ocean of love.

"One day his servant brought ten cleaned cocoanuts to be offered to the god; but while waiting outside the door he happened to touch the wall above with his hand and then placed the same hand on the fruits. On seeing this the Pandit threw away the fruits as defiled and unworthy of offering to the god, because the dust raised by the feet of people entering at the door sticks to the wall above. By such pure loving service he has surpassed the world . . . Similarly whenever he hears of any good fruit like plantain, mango, or jack, in far off villages, he carefully buys them dear, washes, cleans, and offers them to the god. So, too, vegetables, roots, fruits, chirá, hurum, confects, cakes, sweet drinks, condensed milk, káshandi, pickles, scents, cloth, ornaments, and the pick of all things he offers cleanly to the god. His loving service is unmatched and soothes the eyes of all who behold it."

So saying the Master embraced Raghav, and showed due respect to the other bhaktas. To Shivananda Sen he spoke in terms of honour, "Do you look after Vasudev Datta, who is so charitable that every day he spends all his day's earnings, saving nothing. But he is a householder and ought to save, for without saving a man cannot support his kinsmen. You have the charge of the income and expenditure of his house. In your capacity as head man arrange (his affairs properly). Come every year with all the bhaktas to the Gundichá garden, taking care of them."

To the pilgrims from the Kulin village He said, "Come here every year with striped silk cloth (for Jagannáth). Gunaraj Khan wrote the Shri Krishna Vijay, one devotional sentence of which, 'Nanda's darling Krishna is the lord of my life', has made me the bondsman of his line. Not to speak of you, even a dog of your village is dear to me, above all others."

At this Satyaraj Khan and Rámánanda too entreated the Master, "I am a worldly man; how can I practise devotion? I beg thee to lay commands on me." The Master replied, "Ever serve Krishna, ever serve Vaishnavs, ever sing Krishna's name." Satyaraj asked, "How shall I know a Vaishnav? Tell me of his general characteristics." The Master answered, "Whosoever utters Krishna's name even once is to be honoured above all other men. Krishna's name alone washes away all sins and kindles many forms of faith. It does not make a man wait for religious initiation or priestly ministration, but as soon as the word is formed on the tongue, it redeems all men down to the Chandál caste. Along with that, Krishna's name destroys our bondage to the world and draws the heart to the love of Krishna. Vide Shridhar Swami's stanza in the Padávali, xviii. Therefore, he who utters Krishna's name alone is truly a Vaishnav. Honour him as such."

Of the pilgrims from Khanda the leaders were Mukunda-das, Raghunandan, and Narahari. To the first, Shachi's son spoke thus, "Tell me truly whether you are the father and Raghunandan your son, or the converse? Dispel my doubt." Mukunda replied, "I verily believe that Raghunandan is my father and I his son, because our devotion to Krishna has been imbibed from him." The delighted Master broke out, "True are thy words. He who gives us faith in Krishna is our guru." Bliss it is to the Master to unfold the greatness of bhaktas, and He holds forth on the subject through five mouths as it were. Turning to His followers He said, "Hark ye about Mukunda's faith. It is a pure and deep love, like unalloyed gold. Outwardly he is a physician royal and serves his master. But who can fathom his heart's devotion? One day the Musalman king was talking with him about medicine, on a high dais, when a servant held a peacock-feather fan over the Nawab's head. At the sight (of Krishna's crest), Mukunda in a rapture of devotion tumbled down from the height. The Nawab, thinking that he was overcome by death, dismounted, restored him to his senses, and asked where he had been hurt. Mukunda replied that he did not feel much pain. Then to the Nawab's query about the cause of his fall, he replied that he was subject to epilepsy. The Nawab was very wise, he discerned the real reason and thenceforth regarded Mukunda as a great devotee."

Raghunandan served at Krishna's temple, in front of which there was a tank with a Kadamba tree blooming all the year round on its ghát. Daily two flowers blossomed there (as if) derived from Krishna. The Master continued, turning to Mukunda, "Your business is to earn money, Raghunandan's to serve Krishna. His heart has no other desire. Let Narahari remain with my bhaktas. Do you three ever perform these duties respectively."

Graciously He addressed the two brothers, Sárvabhauma and Vidyá-váchaspati, "Krishna is at present manifest in the form of wood and water, the sight and ablution of which saves mankind. As the wooden god he lives at Puri, while the deity as water is the river Bhagirathi. Let Sárvabhauma worship the wooden god and Vachaspati the water-deity".

Embracing Murari Gupta, the Master extolled his sincere devotion thus, "Listen, O ye bhaktas! I had formerly often tempted him saying, 'Passing sweet is the lad of Braja's lord, O Gupta! Krishna is God himself, in all His fulness, the refuge of all. Love is pure, clean, the source of all passions (ras), the ocean in which all virtues are stored like gems. He is wise, expert, sedate, the chief of the masters of emotions. Sweet is his character, sweet is his fascination; his sports are marked by cleverness and skill. Worship that Krishna, seek refuge in him. The heart cannot accept any other object of adoration'. His respect for me somewhat influenced him and he replied that he was my servant, ready to do my bidding, without free will. Going home, he was restless at the thought of giving up his idol Raghunath, and cried, 'How can I quit the feet of Raghunath? Kill me to-night, O Lord! So he spent the whole night watching and weeping, sore at heart. In the morning he returned, clasped my feet and cried, I have sold my head at Raghunath's feet, and cannot draw it away now, so great would be the pain of it. I cannot leave Raghunath's feet, and on the other hand thy command will be disobeyed. I have no help for it. Take pity, therefore, on me, O Kind One; and let me die before thee, so that the conflict within me may be ended'. At these words I rejoiced exceedingly, raised and embraced him, saying, 'Excellent! Excellent! firm is your devotion, O Gupta, as my words have not shaken your purpose. It is the devotion of servants of this kind that ought to be offered at the Lord's feet,—when the Lord draws away His feet the devotee does not let go his grasp. That I urged you repeatedly was only to test this your earnest faith. You are Hanuman himself, the servant of Ram. Why then should you leave his lotus feet? This is that Murari Gupta [addressing the other bhaktas], the very life of me. My heart breaks to see his meekness of spirit."

Then He embraced Vasudev, and dwelt on his merits with a thousand tongues. The Datta, blushing to hear his own praise, begged at the Master's feet, "Thou hast come down to deliver the world. Grant one prayer of mine. It can be easily granted, if thou willest, O Gracious One! My heart breaks to see the sorrows of mankind. Lay thou the sins of the rest of mankind on my head; let me suffer in hell under the load of their sins, so that, Master, thou mayest remove the earthly pangs [i.e., birth on earth] of all other beings." These words melted the Master's heart. Trembling and weeping He answered in broken accents, "This request is no surprise, coming from you who are a Prahlád. Full is Krishna's grace on you. Krishna brings to fruition whatever his servants ask for; he has no other work than to gratify his servants wishes. You have prayed for the salvation of all the creatures of the universe. (I say) they will all be delivered, without suffering for their sins. The task is not too much for Krishna, who is omnipotent. Why should he make you (alone) undergo the due chastisement for (their) sins? Those whose good you desire are Vaishnavs, all of whose sins are removed by Krishna. Witness the Brahma Samhitá, v. 60.

"At your mere wishing, the universe will be redeemed. It is no labour for Krishna to deliver all men. Ten million figs (dumbur) can grow on one tree; similarly ten million universes float in the water of the Pure. The tree knows not the loss, if a fruit drops and perishes. So, too, if one universe is set free [from re-birth], Krishna does not regard it even as a trifling loss. Endless are Krishna's possessions. Vaikuntha and other places belong to him. They are girt round by the ocean of the Cause of Creation. Countless illusive universes float in that ocean, just as a pot of oil-seeds may float in the ditch round a city. The loss of one seed-grain out of it matters nothing. So, too, Krishna does not feel the loss if one universe is gone. Even if illusion and all the universes subject to it perish, Krishna does not mind the loss. The illusion [-created world] is no more to Krishna than a she-goat is to the owner of ten millions of cows giving inexhaustible milk. Vide Bhágabat, X. lxxxvii, 10."

In such terms did the Master speak of the different merits of all His followers, embrace and give them leave. They wept at parting from Him, while His mind, too, was saddened. Gadadhar Pandit stayed with Him and was settled by Him at Jaleswar [in Jagannáth-Puri]. The Puri, Jagadánanda, Swarup Damodar, Damodar Pandit, Govinda, and Kashishwar,— these lived with the Master at Puri. He visited Jagannáth every morning.

One day Sárvabhauma solicited Him with folded palms thus, "Now that all the Vaishnavs have returned to Bengal, I have got an opportunity of entertaining you. Be pleased to be a guest at my house for a month." The Master replied, "It is opposed to my rules of duty. I can't do it." Sárvabhauma persisted, "Let it be for twenty days only." But the Master objected, No, that too is opposed to the rules of a sannyasi." Sárvabhauma came down to fifteen days, but the Master insisted on dining with him for one day only. Then Sárvabhauma, clasping His feet, begged for ten days out of which the Master gradually reduced five, and accepted the invitation for five days only. Then Sárvabhauma made another prayer, saying, "There are ten monks with you, out of whom the Puri will dine with me for five days, as I told you before. Damodar Swarup, my friend, will go to my house with you and at times alone. The other eight will be my guests dining singly for two days each. Thus a month is filled up with engagements. I fear lest I should fail to show due hospitality if so many monks come to me together. You, too, will visit my house with your shadow, and sometimes in the company of Swarup Damodar." Glad of the Master's nod [of assent] he invited Him that very day. The Bhattáchárya's wife was called Shathi's mother; she was greatly devoted to the Master and a very mother in tenderness. [The cooking, the courses, and the dinner described in great detail].

The Master said, "It is impossible to eat so much rice" [viz., three maunds]. The Bhatta replied, "I know what is a sufficient quantity for you. At Puri you [as Jagannáth] eat bhog 52 times a day, and the quantity for each time is hundreds of loads. At Dwaraka you [as King Krishna dine daily] at the houses of your 16,000 queens, 108 mothers, and the Yádav clan. At Brindában you dine twice daily at the houses of your kinsmen and cowherd comrades. At the Govardhan sacrifice heaps of rice were brought for you, in comparison with which my dishes form less than a mouthful. You are God indeed. I am a wretched little creature. Consent to take only a little mouthful of food at my house." Smiling, the Master sat down, the Bhatta serving Him with the prasád of Jagannath. Just then there came Amogh, the son-in-law of Bhattáchárya and the husband of Shathi. He was a Kulin and a fault-finder. He wished to see the feeding, but could not come, as Bhattáchárya kept watch at the door stick in hand! When Bhattáchárya was busy serving the prasád, Amogh came in and looking at the rice began to criticise, "What! a single monk is eating this rice, on which ten or twelve others can feed to their fill!" Hearing these words Bhattáchárya looked over his shoulders, and Amogh fled away. . . . His father-in-law cursed him and his mother-in-law prayed for her daughter's widowhood.

That night Amogh spent in hiding, and next morning he was seized with cholera. At the news that he was dying, Bhattáchárya exclaimed, "The gods are on my side, and are doing my work. A sin against God bears immediate fruit. Witness the Mahabharat, Bana-parva, ccxli. 17, and Bhágabat, X.iv.3i."

When Gopinath Acharya went to see the Master, in answer to a question about Bhattáchárya, he said, "The couple had fasted at night. Amogh is dying of cholera." At this the merciful Master hastened there, laid His hand on Amogh's breast and said, "Pure by nature is this Brahman's heart,—a fit place for Krishna to sit on. Why have you seated the Chandál Envy here, and thus defiled a very holy spot? Your sins are ended by the society of Sárvabhauma. When sin is gone, men recite Krishna's name. Rise, thou, Amogh! chant Krishna's name. Soon will God have mercy on you." At these words, Amogh rose up with the cry of Krishna! Krishna! and began to dance in an ecstasy, of devotion, weeping, trembling, standing stockstill, perspiring, lisping. The Master smiled at seeing the surging up of his love. But he begged the Master, holding His feet, "Gracious Master! forgive my fault." With this he slapped his own cheeks till they were swollen. Gopinath Acharya held his hand to stop him, and the Master stroked his body to console him saying, "You are an object of affection to me, being related to Sárvabhauma. Even the very servants and dogs of his house are dear to me above all others. Thou hast not offended. Chant Krishna's name."

So saying the Master came to Sárvabhauma's house, who clasped His feet, but the Master embraced him, took His seat and began, "Amogh is a child. He cannot offend. Why are you fasting, why are you angry with him? Up, bathe, visit Jagannáth, and break your fast soon, if you want to please me. I shall wait here so long as you do not return with the prasád (for your dinner)." Clasping His feet Sárvabhauma asked "Amogh was dying. Why did you revive him?" The Master replied, "Amogh is your child. The father, especially if he is the nourisher, does not take note of the offence of his boy. He has now turned Vaishnav; his sin is gone; do you then look kindly on him." The Bhatta said, "Go, Master, to see the god. I Shall quickly join you there after taking my bath." But He replied, "Gopinath! stay here. When the prasád comes to him, inform me of it." Then He went to see the god, while the Bhatta bathed, prayed, and dined.

This Amogh became extremely devoted to the Master. A very sedate man, he incessantly recited Krishna's name. [Text, canto 15.]

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