Prema Swarupa das

A Dazzling Biography of the Golden Avatar, Lord Gouranga from the original manuscripts of Sushin Kumar Gosh. Rewritten and augmented by Prema Swarupa das

This biographical novel is the - dazzling - crowning jewel of all literary gems. It is the true, beautiful, and compelling account of when our creator entered this mundane world as a shining God among us mere mortals. It´s a brilliant, fascinating and life changing story...How He looked. What He did. Why He visited.

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All Glory to our Creator

Omnisweet

(Dedicated to Humanity)

There was a moment, a moment not so very long ago, a moment that was to change everything, for everyone, forever. The year was 1486. Spring was showing her fresh and fragrant face. It was night; the moon was full, silvery, and sublime.

Upon that holy, perfect night, the moon eclipsed, and—in India—a child was born, within the illustrious city of Nadia.

Astrologers, gifted at their craft, knew this moment, of all moments, to be the quintessence of auspiciousness. For that night all sins seemed suddenly and mysteriously lifted from this dark, imperfect, world.

That night the citizens of Nadia, intoxicated with ecstasy, danced upon their rooftops and sang out God’s name in the streets. Yet, they knew not what compelled them to such nocturnal, unadulterated abandonment!

A child was born whose skin shone like molten gold, and nothing would ever be the same again; for he was not only an embodiment of the Great Soul—the light of Brahman and our Universe—but also an emissary to the Black Prince—the Supreme Deities—and the dark veil of Nirvana. Like the full and brilliant moon he was born under, still he shines his light into this dark age of Kali, harmonizing and synergizing these two seemingly opposing elements into a fantastic fusion of unconditional love.

Upon that infinitely purifying moment of his birth, the whole earth was immediately enveloped with the golden corona of his Love’s Vibration. Humanity was rapidly lifted from a dark, demonic, and feudal age. Reason and illumination quickly usurped doom and darkness, and what came to be known as the Renaissance was with him born, is nourished and sustained by him still, and his wonderful wave of Divine-dynamic-love.

Ancient Sanskrit scriptures (Brahma-vivarta Purana) tell us this window, of Golden Opportunity, will last for 10,000 years, and then the golden corona, from the Golden One, GAURANGA, will be withdrawn—the supreme gift to humanity will be lost—and the dark forces will again prevail.

Ch. 1

No sign of life was seen within the newborn, at the moment the Golden One chose to enter this corporeal paradigm. Various means were anxiously adopted to revive him, but for a considerable time without success. He, at last, began to breathe, and there was joy in the hearts of his father, mother, and her attendants.

The child, being born in the thirteenth month of pregnancy, was unusually large. A hut had been built for his birth, beneath a large nimba tree, beside the home of Sri Jagannath Misra, his father, who named him Vishwambhar. His mother affectionately called him Nimai.

The form, and disposition, of Nimai were unlike those of other children. He was exceedingly tall for his age. He was perfectly healthy, and so strong and restless that women could hardly keep him in their arms. Yet, the mere utterance of the name “Hari” pacified him when he cried. His parents had lost eight daughters successively, and then born unto them was a son, named Visvarup; he was ten years old when Nimai was born. Being the youngest, Nimai was naturally the pet of the family, displaying all the willfulness and waywardness of the spoiled child. When he wept, it was difficult to soothe him, and his crying oftentimes ended in a swoon, which caused his parents much anxiety, until they chanted the name of “Hari” which acted like a charm.

When he learned to crawl, it became necessary to keep a constant watch over him, for he would steal away into the street, or onto the banks of the Ganges (the Bhagrathi). If he saw anyone following him, he scampered off as fast as he could muster. Mother Saci would often set him down in the garden and, with her friends, delight in his antics.

As soon as he had learned to walk, Jagannath, Saci, and Visvarup, together with their relatives and neighbours, feared that he might wander off. One day he actually seized a serpent (a cobra) after which he was guarded with still greater vigilance. Upon another day, a thief named Mekh Mallee, finding the child alone, wearing golden ornaments, carried him away with the intention of robbing and murdering him. Search was made for Nimai, but he was nowhere to be found. Just as they were about to give up, he suddenly appeared, and scurried into his father’s arms.

This crime formed a turning point in the life of the fortunate thief. Upon placing the boy upon his shoulders, the idea of killing such a lovely child made him shudder. He rapidly came to perceive what a wicked, heartless, wretch he had been all the days of his life, and therefore returned Nimai to his home. He then resolved to atone for his sins by a life of rigid penance and austerity. He relinquished this world to lead the life of a religious recluse. His earthly desires waned, and he was later regarded with all the veneration of a saint.

A complexion resembling molten gold is a poet’s fantasy, yet for little Nimai it was a glaring reality. The palms of his hands and feet seemed painted with fresh vermilion. The contours of his body were exquisite. The movement of every limb, his glance, his voice, and his smile were all captivatingly beautiful. His fascinating face—free from the slightest blemish—surpassed the finest sculpture. His lips were ruby red; yet, it was his eyes that were most lovely, no one could believe that a mere mortal could possess such eyes—divinely beautiful eyes, wide and elongated like the petals of a flower, as if “moistened with lotus dew.” Everyone who looked at Nimai was enchanted and sincerely wondered: “Is he human, or a child of the gods?”

There was another charm possessed by Nimai, which made anybody that caressed him feel a thrill of joy ripple through their being. Those allowed to place him upon their laps were reluctant to set him down, and return him to his mother.

While Nimai slept, a light resembling the moon sometimes glowed upon his chest. Sometimes he was seen enveloped with light, which flickered like lightning or electricity. Sometimes Saci would see the room filled with luminous figures, and fearing they were evil spirits, call to her husband. So that no harm might come to her child, she would tie a knot in his hair with a thread, as a charm, or utter mantras invoking divine protection.

One night, as the boy slept, Saci again beheld luminous figures surrounding and caressing him. Now accustomed to such sights, she was becoming less alarmed; still she roused young Nimai and called her husband to take him. As he proceeded to his father’s room, the jingle of children’s musical anklets was heard. Both parents eagerly ran to see from whence the delightful music came, and learned that the jingling, jangling sounds were coming from the bare feet of Nimai! When he was lulled to sleep, Jagannath told Saci the sound of musical anklets indicated that God, in the form of a child (Gopal—who always wears musical anklets) was present within their son.

During the day Nimai would play rather than learn the alphabet. Saci was pained, and her motherly pride was wounded. No sooner had she neatly dressed her restless child than he would besmear his whole body with dust. Again she would wash him and adorn him, and again, in an instant, he would do as before.

One morning Nimai disappeared from the house. Eventually Saci found him, his face pale from hunger and thirst, and covered with drops of perspiration from the midday sun. “You silly rascal!” she exclaimed. “When will you learn to take care of yourself?” Saci tried to drag him home, but he escaped and ran away. She pursued him, but it was not in her power to catch the swift-footed Nimai. Giving up the chase, she began to sob, causing Nimai to run back and throw his arms around her—for he could not bear to see his mother weep.

In the evening, before Nimai fell asleep, Saci enjoyed a few moments of supreme satisfaction, for only then did she have sole possession of her baby boy.

When Nimai danced, he glowed with a countenance as bright as the moon, and moved with transcendent grace. Nimai would undulate and swirl in the garden, while his mother and father and friends kept time with clapping hands. Presently, tears of wonder would fill their smiling eyes. Then, the whole universe was dancing with their golden child, and there was only joy. And God was joy, and dancing Nimai was the embodiment of that joy.

When Nimai danced, even elderly people wished to dance with him—but would forbear; children, however, did not! They allowed themselves to be led by it. They danced as he did, with uplifted arms, exclaiming “Hari!” “Hari!” “Hari!” Sometimes he would roll upon the ground in ecstasy, and his playmates would follow. Those who resisted the impulse to join in, if Nimai so much as touched them, they too rolled in the dirt with abandon!

Whenever Saci heard shouts of “Haribol” she knew precisely where to find her elusive child, and would run to him, take him in her arms, brush the dust from his body, and bring him home. Then, blinded by motherly affection, she believed her son to be a naturally quiet boy, and that it was his turbulent playmates that made him wild.

One day young Nimai and his friends adorned themselves with garlands of fragrant flowers. Then they danced, keeping time with their hands and singing “Haribol!” “Haribol!” “Haribol!” Soon a definite pattern marked their movements. Nimai stood in the middle, and his companions danced around him, holding each other’s hands. A grave, old, sage stopped to watch the fun, and became filled with the inclination to join in; throwing caution to the wind, with uplifted arms, he sang, “Haribol!” “Haribol!” “Haribol!” Saci hearing the commotion immediately came to carry her child home; upon grabbing him, the spell was broken, and the learned, old man fled, knowing not how to account for the madness that had seized him!

One night Saci failed to lull her child to sleep. He stood upon her tummy, and taking hold of her hands began to swing his body like a pendulum.

“Crazy boy,” Saci whispered, “to behave the way you do!”

“No, mommy,” replied Nimai, “everyone is crazy except for me!”

Saci was struck with his reply. . .coming from a toddler of four. She called to her husband, “Hear what our mad son says, that everyone is crazy except him!”

When Nimai was nearly five years old, every child of his age in Nadia—aside from him—was at school. This did not please his father. One day Jagannath, with stick in hand, rushed angrily to the riverside, where the boy was playing. Saci ran to protect her son. At the sight of his angry father, Nimai hid behind his mother.

Scowling at the child, Jagannath said to Saci: “Let him go, you’re spoiling him!”

Saci snatched the stick from the not unwilling hand of her husband. Nimai continued to sob. Jagannath’s heart was touched. He opened his arms, and taking his son, hugged him, kissed his face again and again, and said, “I must be a very cruel father to make my little Nimai cry.” Thus indulged, Nimai continued to neglect his studies.

Nimai cherished some fear for his father and elder brother, but none for his mother, whom he treated more as a playmate rather than a dignified lady. While still an infant, he sometimes displayed the wisdom of a guru. Saci then felt that she was only a witless woman, and her son her wise guide. On such occasions she would suspect that he was someone else, and not really her baby boy at all; that his childish demeanour was assumed to deceive her; that his tricks were knowingly played upon her…yet, the persistent pranks of Nimai made her forget such foolishness.

When Saci gazed upon her adorable child, he would turn his face from her. Wishing to hear the tuneful sweetness of his voice, she would encourage him to talk. Then Nimai would tighten his lips, and utter not a word.

“Now what’s the matter Nimai?” Saci once asked. “Why don’t you speak?”

He replied with a provoking smile.

“Nimai, if you don’t say anything now, I’m sure you’ll not take care of me when I’m old.”

Nimai remained silent.

Saci continued, “I’ll die from neglect; you’ll be an orphan, and walk the streets starving and alone!”

Sometimes when Nimai sorely taxed her patience, Saci would pursue him, rod in hand. The naughty child would dart upon a pile of dirty, clay cooking pots in the yard, where, of course, Saci could not follow. This show of piety did not meet with Nimai’s approval—child though he was.

A chamar is a person of low caste, whose touch is considered an abomination; Nimai would touch such people. After thus polluting himself, he would chase his mother. One who has touched a chamar, and not bathed, remains contaminated and is not permitted to touch one of a higher caste. Saci would, under these circumstances, fly before the pursuit of Nimai, and entering the house, slam the door in his face.

One day he brought a puppy home. A dog is an unclean animal, according to Hindu traditions, and Saci was appalled.

She wanted Nimai to deport himself as quietly, and decently, as the child of a devout brahmana (Brahmin), and learned savant, should. Nimai was unruly and rambunctious. He liked to shock his mother’s sense of propriety. Saci gradually came to believe that her son was either, a little wrong in the head, or possessed of some evil spirit.

Nimai, one day began to weep uncontrollably; his father and mother tried to placate him by uttering the name “Hari,” which, on this occasion, had no effect. His parents feared he would soon fall into a swoon. Saci, in an agonizing tone, uttered, “Why do you break our hearts? What do you want?”

Nimai, in the midst of sobs, replied, “I want all the offerings that Jagadish and Hiranya have prepared for God.”

Jagadish and Hiranya were their neighbours, who had on the eleventh day of the moon—as was the custom—prepared some offerings for Lord Krsna. Nimai wanted them!

How could a child of five know that it was the eleventh day of the moon, and that upon that specific day Brahmanas (Brahmins) made offerings to the Supreme Deity? And, how could he know that these two particular Brahmanas had prepared such offerings? For all brahmanas did not observe this ceremony. Also, it would be sacrilege to give a child offerings intended for Lord Krsna. Saci and Jagannath, therefore, suggested fetching him more delectable treats. Yet Nimai would have only the Lord’s offerings, or nothing at all!

These affairs came to the attention of the two brahmanas, who saw that this delicately beautiful child had become still more exquisite under the excitement of his feelings. This was not the behavior of an ordinary, young boy. They surmised that the infant Krsna (Gopal) was attracted to the adorable child, and was thus claiming the offerings through him! The notion enthralled them. They returned, and placing the offerings before Nimai, said, “Take them, beautiful Nimai! Let Gopal partake of them through you.”

Of the offerings, he ate a portion, threw some away, and distributed the rest. (The two brahmanas subsequently became two of Nimai’s most ardent followers.)

Saci watched the progress of her boy with concern. She continued to suspect that he was either partially insane, or under the influence of a wayward spirit. Finally, she unburdened her heart to her sister, “Sister, I don’t understand why a child so good in every way, and so fair, should act so whimsically. What should I do?” Her sister suggested that she take the guidance of the wise, neighbourhood, matrons.

The matrons, accepting Saci’s invitation, assembled at her home. These venerable ladies had savants for husbands, and had passed their days amidst constant intellectual chatter. They, therefore, fancied themselves qualified to settle such matters, and so without any misgivings, sat in adjudication upon ‘Nimai the Enfant Terrible.’

Saci related her sorrowful tale with an abundance of tears. She said that her son was very affectionate, and that he also appeared to be very bright. “Nor do I resent him for smashing domestic utensils now and then, for every child does,” she added. “Yet, sadly, he has no reverence for the deities—he partakes of offerings intended for them. He will not accept that cooked food is unclean. Indeed, ridiculous as it may sound, the child would seem to have an opinion of his own on this matter. He has an utter contempt for the notion that it pollutes a person to touch impure people, or things. If I scold him for the outrages he commits, he stops me by declaring that he is the Lord, and that anything impure becomes holy by his touch!”

The elderly ladies perceived that it pained the good lady very much to defer to outsiders upon such serious charges against her beloved child. They inquired how this change had come over the boy.

“At night, I’ve seen luminous figures surrounding him while he sleeps.” Saci confided.

The matrons, after some consultation, unanimously concluded that it was all the work of malevolent spirits.

Just then Nimai appeared before them, and with a mocking smile, said, “I revere no one, everyone should revere me!”

Saci was shocked, especially as the blasphemy was committed before so many witnesses. “Listen to what he says!”

Then casting her eyes upward, and joining her hands, she prayed: “Dear dwellers in heaven: Forgive my offensive child. He knows not what he says.” She then burst into tears, for she suspected that her child—though so young—knew well what he did.

After prolonged deliberation, the elder mavens recommended that a ceremony be duly performed for the reformation, and future welfare of the child, and that the goddess Sasti (protector of children) should be propitiated—by offerings—to pay special regard to his wellbeing.

Saci agreed. But what if Nimai should commit a further sacrilege by partaking of the offerings prepared for the goddess? And, if he did, would not Sasti, instead of doing him any good, do him all the mischief she was capable of? Saci, therefore, undertook to prepare for the ceremony with the utmost secrecy. Then, with the offerings tucked in the folds of her sari, took a private path towards a place of worship. Some distance from home, she began to think she had succeeded in eluding him. Yet, no sooner had the thought crossed her mind, than Nimai brazenly appeared before her, and asked her to reveal what she was hiding.

“My dear Nimai,” she stammered, “go home!”

“What are you carrying?” he insisted. “Sweetmeats, no doubt. I’m very hungry, mother. Give me some.”

“You ought not to say that,” Saci winced. “The sweetmeats are for the goddess Sasti. When I have offered them to her, I promise, I shall give you sweetmeats and fruits a plenty.”

“But I’m hungry, mother. I can’t wait,” taunted Nimai. “I must have them now.” He then snatched away a portion of the offering and ran off!

Saci cried out in exasperation, “Are you not a brahmana’s son? I shall throw myself into the Ganges, and thus put an end to my misery?”

“Console yourself mother, I assure you, Sasti will be highly pleased if I eat them.”

“Your conduct—little rogue that you are—will bring ruin upon us.” Then weeping bitterly, she knelt before the goddess Sasti, and beseeched her to forgiven her son for his sacrilegious ways.

Whether the irreverent conduct of Nimai really offended Sasti cannot be determined, what’s certain is that the offerings for the goddess did the boy no evident good. Neither the grace of Sasti, nor the matrons’ pontifications, changed his wayward disposition in the least.

Murari Gupta, who hailed from Sylhet, was both a physician and a scholar. He had obtained a footing in the great city of Nadia at the early age of twenty. He was a kind, self-contained youth, of great worth and physical strength.

One day, while Murari was speaking with fervour upon the Sanskrit doctrine of Yogavavista, he became animated and began gesturing with his hands. He then heard a peal of laughter from behind, and saw Nimai impersonating him, while his companions squawked with amusement. Murari said nothing, and resumed his discussion, while Nimai became more audacious in his mimicry—renewing the merriment of his playmates!

“How rude and disrespectful of Jagannath’s son!” said a ruffled Murari. “Ungovernable child!”

“I will teach you a lesson at dinnertime.” Nimai firmly replied.

Murari, of course, did not heed his threat. Indeed, he forgot all about it, until that evening when he sat down to eat. He heard a child’s angelic voice from outside, calling, “Murari!” Suddenly, the mischievous little figure of Nimai stood before him. Murari glanced up at the intruder and unconcernedly resumed his meal. The young boy then executed his morning’s threat by performing a certain natural emanation, which splashed wantonly upon the contents of the philosopher’s plate!

Murari was momentarily stunned with surprise and indignation.

“Murari, give up teaching your false and dangerous philosophy,” commanded Nimai, arousing him from his stupor. “Learn to worship Sri Hari with your whole heart and soul. That’s how I treat the dinner of a miscreant who believes he’s One with Almighty God—that he and I are One!” Then, quick as a flash, Nimai vanished!

At first Murari, he was outraged. Yet, a little reflection enabled him to recognize that it was simply impossible for an ordinary child of five to administer so weighty a lesson! A thrill passed through him. He felt a joy such as he had never known before. The idea filled his mind, that it was the infant Krsna (Gopal) who had acted through his little visitor.

Impelled by this conviction he hastened to the home of Jagannath Misra, and prostrated himself at the boy’s feet! Nimai retreated behind the folds his of mother sari. Jagannath was no less astonished to see a full-grown man, and one so widely respected, giving reverence to his difficult child!

“What are you doing, my good physician? Jagannath protested. “Do you mean to bring evil upon my boy by prostrating yourself before him? Surely you know, when a superior bows down before an inferior, he brings misfortune upon the latter.”

“Misra!” cried Murari, “you will soon learn who your son is.”

Ch 2

When Nimai was six, his elder brother, Visvarup, turned sixteen; his fine figure, acute intelligence, and profound learning, made him the observed of all observers in Nadia. He attached himself to the illustrious Advaita Acarya (Teacher). Feeling compassion for the fallen state of humanity, he often prayed with Advaita for the advent of Sri Krsna. Visvarup was austere; he ate and slept but little, and passed all his days and nights engaged in bhajan (spiritual practices). From Advaita, he imbibed the notion that the All-merciful Sri Krsna, seeing the pitiful condition of his children, was to appear, or was already, upon this earth!

When Nimai was born, the joy of Visvarup—having no brother or sister—knew no bounds. He quickly grew very fond of his affectionate, younger brother.

Once Visvarup had finished his schooling, he became a member of Advaita’s circle, and oftentimes neglected to return home for his midday meal. Nimai was frequently sent to Advaita’s house to fetch him. The child was so engaging, and attractive, that Advaita and his companions would often gaze at him with admiration.

“This boy draws my heart towards him—I wonder why?” mused Advaita.

As Visvarup was then becoming a young man, Jagannath began contemplating his marriage. Yet, worldly life had already lost all attraction for him. “Why should I chain myself to this mundane existence?” he reasoned. “Life is short. I have no inclination to marry and perhaps forget God.”

Finally, he decided upon relinquishing society altogether. His quitting home would certainly be a great blow to his affectionate parents; yet, he felt, though this might make them unhappy for a time, it would eventually lead to their real welfare. As the sastras (scriptures) teach, if one individual in a family becomes a sannyasi (joins the renounced order of spiritual life), the whole family is saved. Nevertheless, the thought of leaving young Nimai weighed heavily upon Visvarup’s heart. In his absence, the education and spiritual cultivation of his brother would be diminished, and he would be without a guardian. Yet, leave the world he must, being convinced that to remain in it would lead only to his spiritual ruination.

Having made up his mind thus, he called his mother aside and said, “When Nimai grows up kindly give him this book.”

“What do you mean?” asked Saci startled. “You can give him the book yourself.”

“I would prefer that you keep it for him mother,” pleaded Visvarup. ”If I live, and the opportunity affords, I shall ask for it at the proper time and give it to him, but mother, life is so uncertain.”

Simple-hearted Saci was thus prevailed upon to accept the book, which she kept in a safe place.

Visvarup told his dearest cousin, Lokenath, his intention to renounce the world. Lokenath, having the greatest affection for his elder cousin, was determined to accompany him….Visvarup reluctantly acquiesced.

Still only sixteen, Visvarup, and his younger cousin Lokenath occupied the same room, in the house of Jagannath, upon their chosen night of departure. At midnight they quietly arose and crept through the garden. From there Visvarup bowed to his sleeping parents, and prayed to Sri Krsna that he might protect his younger brother. Then, they started off in the cold, star-lit night, and soon arrived at the river.

The only property Visvarup carried was a copy of the Bhagavad-gita, which he held above water with his left hand, while swimming across the Ganges with his right. Upon reaching the other side, in wet clothes, they walked rapidly in a westerly direction in order to elude pursuit.

The following morning, Saci and Jagannath came to learn that Visvarup had left home and society. The news stunned them. They, however, admired their son’s sacrifice, and loved him all the more for it. A tender youth, raised in comfort, now an ascetic in the wilderness—without food or shelter—formed a picture that moved the entire town of Nadia. They reflected upon his surpassing loveliness, his uncommon learning, his unblemished and noble character, and wept at the loss of their beloved son.

Day after day Visvarup and Lokenath journeyed westerly. Sometimes through jungles, sometimes through inhabited areas, relying for their subsistence upon the charity of villagers, and suffering untold hardships and privations—until, finally, they became acquainted with an ascetic, of the Puri sect, who soon initiated Visvarup. As a sannyasi, with the title of Sankaranya Puri, his initiation entitled him to initiate others, and he, in due course, initiated Lokenath. Lokenath thus became the bearer of—his guru’s—Visvarup’s staff and water pot. These two young lads, who had never before known what misery was, now suddenly found themselves cast upon the world, without a home, without parents, and without any means of support!

The family friends who consoled his mother and father reminded them that one ascetic in a family ensured the salvation of all; though this recognition could not entirely quell their grief, their hearts were touched by this display of neighbourly concern.

Visvarup, having taken the vow of renunciation, had sworn never to possess property, or fraternize with women, or worldly men. He was prohibited from residing in his hometown, and from indulging his palate. To this hard life Visvarup had consecrated himself. If, after taking the vow of renunciation, one returns to society, he becomes an apostate—forsaken both of man and God.

If Jagannath had listened to his paternal inclinations, he would have directed his son to return; yet Jagannath sacrificed his feelings, and prayed to God thus: “Oh merciful Lord, my heart yearns for my boy. I am but a frail father who cannot overcome the bonds of nature. However, please do not heed this wish. Let not my son destroy his prospect of salvation by breaking his vow and returning home.”

Saci had, at one time, uttered a similarly disinterested prayer. The saintly chroniclers of the lila (pastimes) of Lord Gauranga describe in raptures the character of both Saci and Jagannath; both were graced mentally and physically; yet, both were as simple as children, with hearts as soft as the shreesh flower. However, they never shirked duties that required uncommon firmness of mind; thus, they were held in esteem throughout the great city of Nadia for their impeccable lives.

Nimai, still six, hearing his mother wailing from the yard, went to her. When he learned that his brother had left, never to return, he fainted! After much tending the child recovered. Jagannath and Saci were deeply moved by the brotherly love displayed by Nimai. Yet, his delicate condition gave them concern, so they suppressed their sorrow in order to nurse their little boy. They consoled him with endearing words, and imprinted a thousand kisses upon his cheeks.

Nimai, seated upon the lap of his father, after much effort, said, “Dear father and mother, grieve no more. I will take my brother’s place, and do my duty towards you.”

So Visvarup became an ascetic at sixteen. He departed this life—only two years after his initiation—in a spectacular way, at Pandarpur, near Puna. Sivananda (more of whom later) was present at the time. His son, Karnapur, states:

Visvarup, surrounded by his disciples, disappeared from their midst wondrously. His ascending soul became a brilliant light like a thousand suns. My father witnessed it.

Sivananda came to Nabadwip with the news of Visvarup’s ascension, though—for obvious reasons—it was not described to Saci and Jagannath.

(Nineteen years later, Nimai visited the place where his elder brother had disappeared.)

Chapter 3

Nimai, seeing the sadness that weighed upon his parents, gave up his childish pranks. He was now rarely out of their sight, and believing that if he minded his studies, it would please them, he began to bestow attention upon his books. His father taught him as he sat upon his lap, while Saci watched with tender interest. They were very much consoled by this change in their wild boy, and by the ardent solicitude that he displayed in soothing their sorrows.

Yet, a mystical incident spoiled this happy arrangement. One day Nimai while chewing a betel nut (which was a part of an offering to the household deity) fainted! His parents, however, accustomed to such things were not greatly alarmed, though it did take a while to revive him.

Upon coming to, Nimai said, “Visvarup took me away, and asked me to relinquish the world with him. I told him, ‘Being a mere boy, I do not understand what it is to become a sannyasi. I shall remain and serve my father, mother, and above all, God.’ Thereupon he said, ‘Very well, return and tender my salutation to our parents.’”

Saci and Jagannath heard this with joy, not unmixed with trepidation. They were glad, because it was news from their lost son, and they were glad that he continued to love them. They were, however, alarmed at the attempt made by Visvarup to take Nimai from them. Saci soon forgot, but Jagannath Misra brooded over it night and day.

“Education opened the eyes of Visvarup to the vanity of this world, and drove him from home to devote himself exclusively to the culture of his spiritual nature.” Jagannath reasoned. “Education will similarly affect Nimai, and he may, like his brother, leave this world only a boy.”

One morning, shortly thereafter, Jagannath instructed his son: “Child, put an end to your studies. If you have the least affection for me, do not disregard my authority.”

Nimai did not disobey his father’s command. He stopped his studies, and returned to his wild ways. Previously, he played at, or near, home; now he extended his range to the whole town. Formerly, his behaviour was like that of a child, now he was a rambunctious boy. When he went out to bathe in the river, he did not quickly return. He would dive under the water and pull the legs, of even elderly people, from under them. He would appropriate flowers meant for religious ceremonies and worship himself with them, and eat offerings meant for the gods.

Saci tried to bare his tricks patiently, the neighbours, however, did not. Complaint after complaint was levied against him. Sometimes Saci chided Nimai. Sometimes she threatened him with punishment.

Nimai would say, “If you are determined that I should be a dunce, then I must act like one.”

Saci told her husband that the child was wild simply because he was not permitted to read; yet, Jagannath remained stolid in his conviction.

However, Nimai’s mischief was never serious; on the contrary, his tomfoolery caused more amusement than pain. His jokes made his victims laugh along with him. Still, grievances continued to be constantly hurled at Saci. The proud mother did not like it. . .she had no faith in the anti-education policy of her husband.

One day Saci was so angry, she grabbed a cane to punish her boy. Nimai fled before her to seek refuge in the garden, amidst the soiled and broken earthenware. Impregnable. Nimai sat defiantly!

“Come here you naughty boy,” said she, half threateningly, and half coaxingly.

Nimai began to sing a silly song.

Saci wept.

“Why do you weep, mother? You wish that I should not misbehave? Is it not so? But how am I to distinguish right from wrong without education? Now you see what a happy life the parents of a fool may expect.”

A neighbour, hearing this, told Saci, “Most children are made to go to school, while your child is rebellious because you don’t allow him an education. You will best serve your own interests, and his, by letting him have his way.”

Pressured by the wishes of his neighbours, and wife, Jagannath allowed his son to resume his education. Nimai at once gave up all his outrageous antics, and devoted himself to his studies.

When Nimai was nine, his father invested him with the sacred thread of a brahmana. In preparation for the ceremony his head was shaved, his body was scrupulously cleaned, and he was dressed in the plain garments of a servant of the Lord; he then looked the personification of bhakti (devotion to God). Those present gazed upon him with reverence and admiration. Many wondered if he was the infant Krsna (Gopal). Others thought he was a god who had taken a human form for some mysterious purpose. As soon as his father initiated him, by breathing the sacred Gayatri-mantra into his ear, Nimai screamed and fainted! Every hair upon his body stood on end, and supernatural effulgence emanated from him. Tears began to stream from his eyes so profusely they dampened the ground. Everyone was thrown into confusion, then hushed into silence, and gradually moved to tears.

The learned brahmanas present believed that Sri Krsna, seeing the boy so divinely beautiful, had taken possession of his body in order to manifest himself. All available means were adopted to revive Nimai. When, eventually, he regained consciousness, many guests wanted to question him; yet, he appeared so awe-inspiring they were compelled to keep a respectful distance.

He was then taken to a solitary place, and kept there for some time—as was the tradition. When the period of seclusion was over, friends, according to custom, came to present him with alms, or gifts.

A poor brahmana, having nothing else, gave him a nut. Nimai accepted the nut, and while chewing it called for his mother. As Saci approached him she became bewildered. She had no doubt that it was her Nimai; yet, she could hardly venture to perceive him as her child, for he was cloaked in an aura of powerful light. Thus, she stood awe-struck, and trembled before him!

“I am leaving now. I shall return.” said Gauranga gravely to Saci. “This body is your son, whom you should care for with great affection when I’m gone.” He then made an effort to bow, but collapsed. The light, which enveloped him, disappeared. He seemed dead. Saci being alarmed, sprinkled water upon his face, and called to him—finally restoring him to consciousness. She was then relieved to find her son returned to his natural boyish disposition.

(This wonderful incident is recorded, at some length, in Murari Gupta’s discourses.)

Later, when Jagannath asked Nimai to explain what had transpired, he seemed to have no recollection of the words, or actions, attributed to him. And Jagannath was convinced that Nimai knew absolutely nothing.

It was now a happy time for Jagannath. Nimai thought of only of his studies, and had become a very well behaved boy. He was taught by two learned pandits, Sudarsana and Visnu, in whose opinion, there was not a student in the world as intelligent, or as eager.

Nimai was then almost twelve years old, and Saci fifty-two. Jagannath, who was now quite old, had an attack of fever, which proved fatal. When Jagannath’s soul was about to quit his body, Nimai caught hold of his father’s feet, and said weeping, “Father is a sweet word which I shall never more utter. To whose care do you leave your orphan? Who will take charge of my education?”

Jagannath, reviving for a moment, held Nimai closely, and said, “I’m leaving with my desire unfulfilled. I hand you to God, my child. Pray, do not grieve at my departure.” As the last word slipped from his lips, Jagannath departed from this world, resigned to the will of the Supreme Deity.

Ch. 4

Saci, with her twelve-year old child, had been left utterly unprovided for, which so engrossed her, she had little leisure to mourn for her dearly departed husband. Also, knowing the sensitive nature of her son, she endeavoured to suppress her feelings, lest by giving vent to them, she should remind him of his bereavement. Though she was destitute, she determined to devote all her energies to furthering the welfare of her boy. The household expenses were small, she would manage, one way or another, to provide for herself and Nimai. Yet, she felt especially anxious about his education. After much deliberation she, with the advice of relatives, placed her son under the tuition of Pandit Gangadas.

Gangadas Bhattacarya was not only absolutely irreproachable in character, but also unrivalled in his knowledge of Sanskrit Grammar. Saci, presenting her boy to him, said in all earnestness, “I make over this fatherless youth to you. Please educate him. You will earn more fame and religious merit by teaching young Nimai than others—for he an orphan.”

“I shall think myself fortunate in having young Nimai as a pupil.” Gangadas replied. “You need not be anxious about his education. I shall teach him all that I can. Rest assured, fatherless as he is, this circumstance will not in any way interfere with his studies.” Nimai bowed to his new teacher, who thereupon pronounced this benediction upon him: “May you be blessed with knowledge!”

Nimai then became a regular student at the tol (school) of Gangadas. His mental powers were astonishing. He understood his lessons as soon as they were explained, and—though he was not yet fourteen—quickly became the most outstanding student in the school. Now it must be borne in mind, that the pupils renowned for their abilities, were generally young men of 25 to 30 years of age. Kamalakanta, a classmate of Nimai, had an extraordinary knowledge of rhetoric. Krsnananda, another classmate, was the author of Tantrasor. Murari Gupta was also an outstanding student. Yet, none would condescend to debate with a boy of fourteen. Nimai was not, however, to be thwarted. He began to tease Murari—at every opportunity—in order to provoke him into an intellectual exchange. Murari was, at length, goaded into a discussion with him…the grown-up pandit was summarily defeated by the young teenager!

Murari glared inanely at his antagonist. Nimai met his gaze with a smile, and putting forth his hand, touched him. The young physician felt a thrill of ecstasy passing though his whole being. He suddenly recollected the many wonderful incidents in connection with the boy, which he and others had witnessed. He looked at Nimai’s face, and found that his lustrous, lotus eyes beamed with love. “Who might this young person be? Is he really more than human?” wondered Murari who was, by nature, a skeptic.

Being a dedicated student, Nimai attended school every morning. He devoted his afternoons to the preparation of his lessons for the following day. He incited intellectual repartee whenever he chanced upon a scholar outside of school hours. When he went to bathe, he had discussions with the students there. After having proven himself at one ghat, he would go to another for fresh encounters. Sometimes he would even swim across the broad river in search of new opponents.

Vaisnavas (Krsna devotees) were his primary targets. He never spared a Vaisnava, even if one were as old as his father. (It is, however, remarkable that those with whom he vied in his youth, became his most faithful adherents later, and the greater the feud the greater became the devotion of his victims.) Kamalakanta, Krsnananda, and Murari, were his companions at school—yet it was Murari, alone, with whom he liked to constantly banter.

It was at this early age that he wrote his commentaries upon Sanskrit Grammar, which gradually became popular throughout Nadia—where it was no easy task to make a new book acceptable to the intelligentsia.

After completing the study of Grammar, he devoted himself to the study of Logic, at the school of the celebrated professor of Nyaya, Vasudev Sarvabhauma.

Nimai, being only a young teenager, did not initially attract the notice of Vasudev, who was surrounded by thousands of the brightest intellects of the day. Yet, soon the students knew him, especially Raghunath, the author of a celebrated book on logic called Didheeti.

Anything uncommon naturally attracts the curiosity of others, and it was the sparkling genius of Nimai that initially attracted Raghunath’s attention. He was amazed to find in Nimai—though much younger than himself—a worthy rival! He had believed himself to be the most intelligent youth of his day, even more intelligent than his teacher, Sarvabhauma. The goal of Raghu’s ambition was to be the first man of learning in the whole world, and he thought that the road was clear before him. Young Nimai now threatened to dash his hopes, and the closer their acquaintance became, the more he deepened in this fear. It was solely owing to the amiable disposition of Nimai that they, nevertheless, continued to be dear friends.

One day Vasudev asked Raghunath to explain a most abstruse and subtle logical fallacy.

“Why are you cooking so late?” asked Nimai, visiting Raghunath that very evening.

“The professor gave me a very difficult problem to solve,” replied Raghu. “I was determined to crack it before breaking my fast. The solution took me the whole day.”

Nimai, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, said, “The problem must be a very difficult one, to require a whole day for its solution, from an intellectual giant like yourself. What is it?”

Raghu explained the conundrum; Nimai immediately gave the solution! Raghu gazed at him flabbergasted. “This boy must be a god!” thought he, like so many others.

Raghu, while engaged in his composition of the great Didheeti, learned that Nimai was working upon a similar project. This made him nervous. He wanted to see Nimai’s rending; yet, he doubted whether Nimai would show him, knowing that he, if broached, would not be so forthcoming. He, however, ventured to ask Nimai, who, to his surprise, promised to read it to him the following day, upon the ferryboat while crossing the river to their tol.

The next morning, as they traversed the river, Nimai read his commentary to Raghunath, who listened with undivided attention. Poor Raghu found, to his dismay, that Nimai’s exposition was masterly, concise, clear, and original. The more he heard, the more despondent he became. All hopes of being the world’s greatest professor of Nyaya faded before him, till at last, he burst into tears! Nimai placed his hand upon his shoulder, and asked sweetly, “My dear brother, what is it? What ails you?”

“Nimai, don’t you know? I was ambitious of obtaining the first place as a professor of Nyaya, and have put forth all my powers in an attempt to give the world a work upon that philosophy, which would surpass all others. That hope is now completely dashed, for my best attempt must give way to yours.”

Nimai, feeling Raghu’s frustration, smiled and clasped his neck. “Is that all? Then weep no more, my friend! This Nyaya is, after all, a fruitless philosophy, and as such can be neither entirely good nor bad—here it goes,” he concluded, flinging his manuscript into the Ganges! And, from that moment, he gave up the study of Nyaya. Thus, Nimai’s Nyaya was lost to the world, and the Didheeti of Raghunath came to be regarded as the leading authority upon the subject!

Nimai now found himself qualified enough to start his own tol (school), and a rich brahmana, Mukunda Sanjya, provided him with a temple hall for that very purpose. He was then only sixteen years old, and was the youngest professor in Nadia. Nimai’s tol, however, flourished. His fame, as a successful and learned teacher, spread far and wide, and students flocked to him from all parts of the country. Nimai made Grammar and Philology the subjects of study in his institution.

In maintaining a tol, a professor had to provide both food and accommodations for his students; their tuition was also free of charge. Society assisted the professors with gifts and donations.

At this time Nimai was married, young though he was, to Laksmi, the daughter of Vallabh Acarya. The arrangements made for the wedding were on a modest scale; only relatives and intimate friends of the family were invited. The wedding day arrived, and Saci felt happy for the first time since the death of her husband. She welcomed the guests with becoming humility; explaining that as her fatherless son, was, as yet, too young to amass a fortune, they were not in a position to receive them in a manner befitting the occasion.

The sight of her son shedding a profusion of tears suddenly distracted her. “Why these tears, Nimai?” she asked in amazement. “Do you want to break my heart by crying upon such a special day?”

Nimai, recovering himself, replied, “I’m weeping for my father, whose memory you have just recalled, and for my lost brother. If they were with us today, how happy we all would be.”

Nimai continued playing his pranks at the bathing ghats, where thousands of students congregated. As a professor, he was now expected to be of a more serious note; yet, he remained as lively as ever. He swam in the river without a care. He sported with his students, and he was sometimes seen racing up and down the streets. Some of his fellow professors spoke ill of him for his lack of gravity. However, his personality was such, that any undue familiarity was not possible. Indeed, the most eminent pandits quaked in his presence. And, although he played with his students, they always regarded him with a certain reverence and awe.

Dressed with exquisite taste, in silken dhotis, the savant of seventeen was accustomed to emerge from his house, only to be followed by his pupils and friends. Men and women could not help admiring his fresh beauty and charming figure. He attracted notice wherever he went. An impression prevailed—mystics had predicted—the installation of a Hindu Raja on the throne of Gaur, then occupied by Houssein Shah, a Muslim. The people of Nadia were almost unanimously agreed that the man destined to regain Gaur for the Hindus was none other than Nimai, the youthful pandit, who looked very inch a prince.

Those jealous of his genius and extraordinary beauty, though always respectful in his presence, were in the habit of saying unkind things about him behind his back: “He comports himself with royal airs, yet his late father was as poor as a church mouse.” said one. “He is arrogant and proud, qualities which are intolerable to God, and must some day bring him to a reckoning,” said another. “To be glibly smart is incompatible with truly profound learning. He’s just a big fish in a small pond!” said yet another.

Nimai appeared quite unaware of the gossip spouted by friends and foes. He roamed about like a monarch, conscious only of his intellectual prowess, of his integrity, and of his goodness. He was only ever shy in the society of ladies. Naturally, as modest as a girl of fifteen, the presence of ladies brought a blush to his cheeks, and made him hang his head!

His conversations were always intellectual, and he interspersed his more serious talks with lively wit, which made his listeners chuckle. He was always in high spirits, carefree—as if he had found the secret of life. His jokes, always innocent, never offended his victims; on the contrary, endeared him to them. His principal objects of ridicule, as mentioned, were those who professed to the Vaisnava faith.

Mukunda Datta of Chittagong (a young Vaisnava, a sweet singer, and follower of Advaita) spotted Nimai, his tormentor, and quickly crossed a crowded street to flee from his clutches. Nimai loudly gestured to his followers, “Isn’t that Mukunda? Why does the fellow avoid me?”

“Perhaps he has urgent business,” replied one.

“No,” rejoined Nimai, “it’s not that. He is a pious Vaisnava. He thinks man is born to pass his days in devotion. My conversations are ungodly, and it is, therefore, only natural that he should eschew me.”

“Why do you avoid me, Mukunda?” shouted Nimai. “Is it because you believe that I’m an infidel? You’ll never escape me. In time, Mukunda, I shall be a Vaisnava too—not a humbug like you. I’ll be such a Vaisnava that the gods themselves shall come to my door. I shall then enslave you, compel you to follow me like a shadow, and make your escape impossible.” Those who were with Nimai laughed—some suspecting that he really was an infidel!

Gadadhar, another Nyaya student, younger than Nimai, and almost as beautiful (much given to prayer and devotion) followed him everywhere—despite Nimai’s interminable delight in roping him into literary contests. Gadadhar tried to excuse himself, but Nimai, not to be cheated out of his sport, used all his cunning wiles to incite him. Gadadhar was good nature itself, and bore the taunts, sneers, and challenges with inexorable patience. Yet, Nimai, by his persistence, always succeeded in intellectually entangling poor Gadadhar, and he refused to release him until he had made him cry!

Next on his ‘hit-list’ was Srivas. This devout Vaisnava was second in importance only to Advaita. He had been a friend of Nimai’s father, Jagannath; he and his wife Malinee had tended him in his infancy. Srivas loved Nimai as a son, and the latter was bound to honour him as a parent. Upon meeting Srivas, he, therefore, stood before him in an attitude of supplication.

Srivas, not at all deceived by the submissive attitude of Nimai, asked, “Well, where are you going to now, restless and unruly youth? On no pious errand, I’m sure. Pray, what is the use of all your learning and debate? They merely nourish your pride and vanity. Wise are they who acquire only that knowledge which secures salvation. What are you doing, day and night? The intellectual exercises you indulge in will do you no good. Learn to be a righteous man, and a servant of Sri Krsna, and thereby fulfill our cherished wishes.”

Srivas belonged to the same Vaisnava sect as Nimai’s late father—who hoped his son would follow suit. Yet, this sect was not in power—rather in disgrace—in Nadia. Srivas fancied that if Nimai joined the Vaisnavas, so influential was the young pandit that the sect would flourish under his auspices. Nimai’s intellectual triumphs seemed to him only a dissipation of his energies, and he therefore addressed him in all earnestness.

Nimai listened to him patiently, maintaining a deferential attitude, and appearing as if he were taking Srivas’s every word to heart. When Srivas had finished, Nimai said, “As you see, pandit, I have become a professor at an early age. Let me enjoy my triumphs for a while. When I’m tired of them, I shall associate with qualified Vaisnavas, and from them learn how to worship Sri Krsna. Rest assured that when I have once made up my mind to be a Vaisnava I shall….” but Nimai could not finish the sentence, being obliged to give vent to the hoot of laughter, which up until then he had, with the utmost difficulty, suppressed. Srivas laughed too, he was nevertheless disappointed, and not a little pained.

At this time, Nimai met Iswar Puri, a sannyasi. Originally an inhabitant of Kumarhatta (not far from Calcutta), he was a disciple of the celebrated sannyasi, Madhavendra Puri, the most devout man of his age. Iswar was known throughout India for his piety, and, therefore, found a warm welcome in the city of Nadia. If love for Sri Krsna could be likened to an ocean, Iswar Puri, day and night, swam therein.

Nimai, one day passing Iswar on the street, respectfully saluted him. Iswar had heard of Nimai and was pleased to meet him. Nimai invited him to dinner, and Iswar—being captivated at the sight of him—immediately accepted the invitation.

“Who can this exalted person be?” he wondered. “Everything about him bespeaks of divine influence. Is he more than human—a higher being in disguise?”

“Swami, why do you scrutinize me?” inquired Nimai. “Do you find anything worthy of inspection? When you come to my home, you will have ample opportunity to satisfy your curiosity.”

The dinner was a success, and the old swami and the youthful pandit quickly became close friends. The swami, who was then writing a book upon the Divine Romance of Radha and Krsna, requested Nimai to help him with editing. Nimai agreed, and together they spent their nights pouring over Iswar Puri’s manuscripts.

Nimai was then barely eighteen. Iswar, shortly thereafter, quitted Nadia. (Six years later, he and Nimai were destined to meet again, and the swami was to play a significant part in this lila of Gauranga.)

Nimai’s tol prospered. He was becoming more and more famous. Yet, suddenly he was affected by the same mysterious malady, which had manifested while being invested with the sacred thread. He began to have fainting spells, and showed all the signs of some supernatural influence. Some said that he was possessed by a demon, others by a good spirit. Rival professors declared it was a case of madness, brought on by an obsessive intellectual tendency, and recommended, to his mother, that he should be treated harshly and kept in chains.

Weeks passed and Nimai slowly recovered, none the worse for his illness, or the abuse to which he had been subjected. In fact, it was found that he had gained in every way from the infirmity! For now he appeared more sober and mature.

Nimai then wished to visit eastern Bengal. After much persuading, his mother’s permission was obtained. He left with a large number of followers. His fame preceded him. The news quickly spread, that the great boy-pandit Nimai, who looked more like a golden god than a man of flesh and blood, would soon be among them.

Nimai crossed the broad river Padma, and settled temporarily in a village, on the opposite bank. Thousands came to him for instruction.

One day, as he sat surrounded by students, a highly respected, elderly brahmana, named Tapan Misra, made his way through the crowd, and fell at his feet. Tapan’s submissive attitude not only surprised all the students, but also Nimai, who hurriedly helped him to his feet, and begged that he would not again prostrate himself before one who was young enough to be his son.

“First listen to me, and then reprove me if you must.” replied Tapan. “Death is approaching, and I have not made proper provision for my afterlife. I have sought guidance, yet found every sage with an opinion of his own, and, instead of illuminating me, has only served to muddle me more. I have constantly prayed to God to show me the way, and finally, last night, a divine guide came to me in a dream, and said, ‘Fall at the feet of Nimai Pandit. Seek his protection, for he is the Lord who has descended to earth to save his children.’ Now, dear father, I throw myself at thy lotus feet!”

Nimai appeared unaware of his divinity, and abashed by the speech of the old brahmana. When he had overcome his embarrassment, he said, “It was only a dream, pandit. Pray, do not act in this manner again. However, I shall do my best to assist you. Our preceptors have clearly laid for us a path of righteousness, which we have only to follow.” He then discreetly gave Tapan spiritual instruction. Nimai finally bid him journey to Benares, with his wife, and abide there until he should come to him.

Tapan, after his interview with Nimai, believed him to be an incarnation of God; he was known for being the first who formally accepted him as such. Therefore, Tapan, an elderly man, of good position in society, uprooted himself, and his wife, from his property and his kin, and then sojourned a thousand long miles to Benares, where he patiently waited for his young master! (Eleven years elapsed before Nimai visited that famous city, and there reunited with his faithful disciple.)

Nimai, a teenager of nineteen, returned to Nabadwip, having been away for almost a year. Upon arrival, his mother told him the melancholy news that his beloved and exquisitely beautiful wife, Laksmi, had passed away.

The manner by which Nimai inspired people in the eastern districts is still a mystery, for he did not then preach the love of Krsna. He did not even allow it to be known that he had a spiritual orientation. He was simply there as a professor of language and grammar. Yet, he left behind him numerous bhaktas, whose descendants still thrive to this day.

Upon his return to Nabadwip, Nimai’s tol rapidly grew in strength. With numerous new pupils, including those who accompanied him to Nadia from eastern Bengal, his school was becoming one of the most important in the city. As a teacher Nimai was unrivaled. He loved his pupils, and his pupils loved him. They also revered him as a unique being; yet, he treated them as if they were his own children, and though he would allow no undue familiarity during class, he was still as sprightly as the youngest of them after school. He now found himself in comfortable circumstances, donations, in various shapes and sizes, being showered upon him; these, however, he never touched. His mother was absolute mistress of the household.

At this time the “world-conquering” Kesava of Kashmir (a savant who had defeated every rival professor, in every city of learning, in India) entered Nadia: the last city in the course of his triumphant march, and the first in importance, remained to be conquered. He paraded through this illustrious metropolis with great flair, accompanied by numerous attendants, tents, elephants, and horses. Upon his arrival Kesava proclaimed his proud challenge: “If there be any learned men in Nadia, please come forward and debate with me. If I should be defeated, all my property will be forfeited to this city. However, if I should win, Nadia will be at my disposal!”

The learned men of Nadia were not to be cowed by a spouting knave, who hailed from a far-off province—considered outside the pale of civilization. They had seen many a pandit with equal pomp and panache defeated within their domain. But, unfortunately, a rumor was circulated—that the goddess of learning (Saraswati) had blessed Kesava, and promised to inspire his speeches during intellectual combat. Although the local pandits never quailed before any man, however learned, they hesitated to cross Saraswati, to whose favor they all owed their learning. The rumor had thus a very daunting affect upon the community, and so, Kesava began to move confidently throughout the city.

One moonlit night, Nimai and numerous pupils were sitting upon the riverbank, engaged in a literary discussion, when Kesava—who happened to be passing—stopped to listen to their conversation, and then introduced himself through his followers. Nimai rose, bowed respectfully, and welcomed him. The visitor then sat down with the young professor and his pupils.

“You are Nimai Pandit, I believe.” said the Great Bard. “I’m glad to make your acquaintance. I am told, in that junior branch of knowledge, grammar and philology, you have attained great proficiency. You have also the credit of becoming a professor while, yet, quite a young man.”

“I’m only a student, while you are a conqueror—compared to you, I’m nothing.” Nimai replied. “I may teach grammar, but I assure you, I neither understand what I teach, nor do my pupils understand me.”

To this Kesava replied that such modesty became him; yet, he must repeat that he had heard him spoken well of, everywhere within the city.

“You’re a poet of worldwide repute.” said Nimai. “Pray, recite to us a description of the sacred Ganges, so that our sins may be washed away.” Kesava was pleased at the request, and instantly began to compose and narrate a poem. He uttered one couplet, immediately followed by another, and then another. In this manner he composed and recited a hundred couplets in only a few minutes. His ability amazed the students, who cried “Hari! Hari!” in a chorus of admiration. Yet, they trembled at the fate of their beloved professor!

“May we now examine one of your couplets, to fully appreciate its beauties,” requested Nimai.

Kesava asked him which couplet he wished to scrutinize. Nimai, thereupon, recited one from the middle. Kesava was amazed. The belief, at that time, was that a srutidhar (one with the ability to memorize something once heard) was thus gifted, only by propitiating the goddess Saraswati, by sincere devotion and prayer.

“How is it, pandit, that you have been able to repeat this couplet from the middle of a hundred, recited by me as quickly as my tongue would allow?” inquired the savant.

Nimai, with a mischievous smile, replied, “You see, pandit, some people become poets through the favour of Saraswati, and can compose impromptu, while there may be others who can retain in their memory anything they have heard.”

This reply confirmed the great bard’s suspicions that Nimai was a srutidhar. He now, naturally, entertained a more respectful opinion of the boy-pandit, and, therefore, took some pains to elaborate upon the couplet. Nimai then praised him for his poetic powers, and thanked him for the trouble he had taken to enlighten and instruct them. “Nevertheless,” said he, “may we now examine the couplet for blemishes—if it has any?”

“Pandit, you teach grammar, which is only the a, b, c, of knowledge, you have not studied rhetoric. Therefore, you cannot possibly discern the couplets beauties, or blemishes.”

“Yet, my lack of culture will not conceal the defects in your poetry. To me the couplet seems to have five flaws, which somewhat mar its perfection.” Nimai then began to critique it very minutely.

Kesava was then obliged to defend his sloka (couplet). But the defects were now so glaring—having been pointed out by Nimai in so forcible a manner—that the author was utterly confounded.

The scene had attracted a crowd. The confusion of the great bard naturally gave rise to some hilarity among the by-standers. Nimai, however, did not encourage this; on the contrary, he tried to suppress it.

“Why, pandit, should you take the matter so seriously?” said Nimai gently. “Isn’t it enough that you possess the divinely inspired gift of poetry? As for limitations, one must have them. Had not Kalidas and Bhababhuti (India’s greatest poets) theirs? You are an intellectual champion, a man highly favored by the goddess Saraswati. Pray, let us go home, for night is advancing, and tomorrow, with your consent, we shall discuss more meaningful subjects.”

Though mollified by these words, Kesava still left greatly diminished. He could neither eat, nor sleep, and spent the night in prayer. Early upon the following morning, he found the house of Nimai, and as the latter issued from it, humbly prostrated himself at his feet.

“What’s the matter?” uttered Nimai, sounding most surprised. “Why this deference to a youth who would be proud to be your pupil? You pain me by your attitude. Please get up.”

Kesava, with folded hands, replied, “Last night, after leaving you, humbled by my defeat, I spent many hours in prayer and meditation. At length, the goddess Saraswati was moved to open my eyes. She showed me that the true purpose of knowledge is salvation, and not the satisfaction of vanity. ‘You have served me faithfully,’ said she, ‘and you have been rewarded. What you consider a humiliation is in reality the highest blessing. For the being, by whom you were defeated, is none other than Sri Krsna, my Lord. Go to him, fall at his feet, and give yourself up to him.’ Thus in obedience to her command, I now come to thee, and ask thee, in thy infinite mercy, to accept me.”

What Nimai did, or said, to him is not known. Yet, Kesava went away a radically changed person. He distributed his vast wealth to the poor, assumed the garb of an ascetic, and disappeared from the gaze of men forever!

The discomfiture of Kesava created a profound sensation in Nadia. Now, relieved of the chilling presence of one recognized as a favorite of Saraswati, people began to realize the intellectual pre-eminence of Nimai. Saci was in raptures over her son’s position in the city. His friends congratulated her upon being the mother of such a brilliant savant. There was, yet, one chink in her happiness; her son was now without a wife—and she knew not where to find a suitable bride; who must not only be a beautiful and well-disposed girl, but must also come from a high family, and above all, she must belong to the same religious sect as Nimai (Brahmanas known as Vedics). Their number had always been small, especially in Nadia. She could expect no help in this matter from Nimai, who seemed oblivious to his remaining duty, namely, to remarry.

Shortly thereafter, Saci, at the bathing ghat where she performed her daily ablutions, encountered a girl—very beautiful and modest—who always appeared as if she were waiting for her! At the sight of Saci she would advance, and respectfully greet her; this won the approval of Saci, who in return, always blessed her with these words: “May you find a worthy husband.” The girl never failed to blush profusely. One day Saci, feeling a strong curiosity about the young woman, asked her name. She replied that her name was Visnupriya. Upon further enquiry, Saci learned that she was the daughter of Sanatan Misra, a wealthy and highly respected pandit.

According to caste rules, Saci might make Sanatan’s daughter her daughter-in-law. In fact, Sanatan belonged to a higher rank than she, and would be honoring her if he should agree to the alliance. Yet, would Sanatan agree to marry his daughter to her son—who was the child of poor parents, of lower rank than himself, and of a somewhat peculiar disposition? This reflection caused Saci much uncertainty and uneasiness.

It just so happened that Sanatan, who loved his daughter ardently, had already set his heart upon marrying her to Nimai, whom he regarded as the first pandit in Nadia, and the comeliest being in the whole world. Knowing the unusual nature of Nimai, he had not ventured to make such a proposal to him, either directly, or through his mother. Yet, Visnupriya—though only a young teenager—was already besotted by him. She had probably overheard the proposal of her marriage to Nimai discussed by her parents, and glimpsed him at the bathing ghat—where fate assisted her in selecting Saci for her amiable regard. Saci felt such affection for the modest girl, who greeted her everyday, that she was, at length, induced to send a matchmaker to Sanatan, who was, of course, agreeable, and the marriage was at once arranged.

Nimai, however, appeared to have no knowledge of these proceedings. His mother organized everything, and then informed him that he was soon to marry the daughter of Sanatan Misra.

The news of his pending marriage, created joy in the hearts of numerous friends and pupils. Buddhimanta Khan, a rich kayastha landholder, declared: “I shall bear all the expenses.”

“I’ll share them with you.” said Puruswatam (the wealthy brahmana, in whose temple-hall Nimai held his tol).

Buddhimanta, declining to have any partner in the undertaking, added, “We’re not going to have the ceremony performed in the austere style of a brahmana, but in that of a prince.”

Nimai’s friends, family, and pupils also took the matter earnestly in hand, and everything was orchestrated on a grand scale.

Nimai was stunningly attired for the occasion. He shone as brightly as the “full moon in the autumn season.” His guileless beauty eclipsed Cupid. The ladies especially admired him; yet, so pure were the feelings with which he inspired them, that none felt in the least bit jealous of Visnupriya, or envious of her good fortune.

Nimai strolled to the house of his bride, accompanied by music, fireworks, and a lively crowd. Sanatan had made lavish preparations to receive them. When Visnupriya was presented to the guests, dressed in a silken sari and sparkling jewelry, she appeared to be an ethereal being.

They were, according to custom, expected to exchange the first glance! Visnupriya, having lifted her veil, was so overwhelmed by her natural modesty, that she was unable to open her eyes and gaze publicly upon her lord. Yet, according to the rules of the ceremony, this was a duty to be performed. A screen was, therefore, erected around the bride and groom that they might gaze upon each other in private. Their eyes met, and the first tender glance thus exchanged—united them forever, and ever!

Saci was now the happiest mother in the universe. In her beautiful, good natured, and affectionate daughter-in-law, she found a fresh object of affection, which gave her a new lease of life.

Nimai, though much sobered in his manner, and conduct, still retained the light-heartedness, which had always characterized him. “Let us go a-marketing.” he said one day to his friends who—always delighted by his company—of course, agreed. He was seldom alone, for wherever he walked, an admiring crowd soon followed. His antagonists, on such occasions, would exclaim, “There goes the Prince!”

On the way to the shops someone reminded Nimai that he hadn’t brought any money.

“That is correct,” said Nimai, “but in truth, I have none. Let me see if I can entice the shop-keepers to part with their wares by persuasion, friendly banter, and Brahminical blessings.” He chuckled, and just then they arrived at the marketplace.

They entered the shop of a weaver, who politely welcomed them. Nimai asked, in his most amiable manner, to be shown a fine sari. The shopkeeper complied. Nimai expressed his approval, and asked the price. Then added, “What a pointless thing it is to ask the price, when I haven’t any money!”

The weaver said, “You may purchase on credit.”

“Thank you,” said Nimai, “but I am, on principle, opposed to buying on credit.”

The good-humored weaver replied: “Sir, you are more like a god than a man. Take the sari as a humble token of my appreciation, and in return, I ask only for your blessing.”

From this shop Nimai went to others, and eventually returned home with numerous items, all of which were purchased by his charm alone. (Yet, were, of course, subsequently paid for).

Sridhar, a poor brahmana, kept a stall in the marketplace, where he sold plantain leaves, barks, and piths. He made a scant living, and, being a pious Vaisnava, was a regular target of attack by Nimai.

Sridhar, seeing Nimai approaching his stall, immediately assumed an attitude of defense. “Pandit, there are other stalls.” he said. “I’m a poor man; you shouldn’t provoke me.”

“Is this the way you receive a customer? quipped Nimai. “I’ll pay for the things I take. But you ask such exorbitant prices for your shoddy wares.”

Sridhar, who neither charged exorbitantly, nor sold inferior goods, replied, “Pandit, most men as they grow older learn to be polite, but you are growing more and more audacious with each passing year.”

In this manner, almost daily, Nimai tussled with poor Sridhar. “Do you think it proper, Sridhar,” said Nimai on another occasion, “that you should make an offering to Ganga (the sacred river Ganges) everyday while offering nothing to me? Don’t you know that I’m the father of Ganga?”

Sridhar was horrified at this blasphemy. He plugged his ears with his fingers. “Pandit,” he replied reprovingly, “have you no reverence even for Gangadevi?” (Sridhar was destined to become one of Nimai’s most faithful followers in later years.)

Ch. 5

Nimai, at twenty-three, had gained great popularity. His joyous demeanor, his perfect simplicity, his dazzling charisma, his generosity, his loving nature, his glowing aura, his innocent beauty, and his unrivalled intelligence—which had always fascinated his friends by the dozen—now won-over many of his enemies.

At this time he asked permission of his mother to visit the holy city of Gaya, for a particularly sacred ceremony, which every good Hindu is bound to perform for the salvation of the souls of his departed dear ones.

As Nimai’s purpose was the discharge of a pious duty, Saci could not offer any opposition, although it almost broke her heart, to even think of parting with her son. Gaya was three to four weeks journey from Nadia, and the path difficult and dangerous. Many people, however, chose to accompany him, including his mother’s sister’s husband, Candrasekhar.

So Nimai, with his friends, set out for Gaya in the month of Vadra (September). They journeyed slowly, and passed the time engaged in intellectual and religious discussion. He spiritually inspired all those who mixed with him. Yet, his companions noticed that he was much affected by the nature of the pilgrimage, for his disposition became, daily, more serious and grave.

Upon reaching Mandar he had an attack of fever (the first and the last illness that ever assailed his divine body). His attendants were anxious, for the fever proved obstinate. At length, however, the sickness abated, and they resumed their sojourn. He became still more somber. His gait became slower. He engaged less and less in conversation, and eventually refrained altogether from speaking, and gave himself up to profound introspection.

As he entered the holy city of Gaya, he was visibly awed, and saluted it with folded hands and deep veneration. Yet, he then performed all the customary ceremonies in a somewhat perfunctory manner. However, as he approached, the Temple of Gadadhar (one of Krsna’s names) his pace perceptibly quickened.

The temple was inundated with inquisitive devotees—inside and out—many with offerings of flowers, or gifts; he entered, without delay, to the sweet sound of singing voices, and quickly made his way through the happy throng to a single, perfectly formed, imprint of a foot, embedded in the ground.

Everyone’s attention was quickly upon this young man of Herculean proportions, with skin as fair as molten gold; eyes as sensitive and soft as the petals of the lotus flower—with which he steadfastly gazed upon the footprint, unconscious of those who were watching him with such marked interest.

“This is the actual footprint of Sri Krsna,” mused Nimai. He tried to restrain his tears. First one drop fell upon each cheek, then another, and as his emotions deepened, others followed, until they coursed down his face in a continuous flow. These streams flowed from the inner edges of his eyes. Yet, as the agitation of his soul waxed still greater, two other streams were formed, which began from the outer edges of his eyes; before long, yet another stream from each eye started, and flowed midway between the other two. These streams trickled onto his chest, dampening his clothes, and eventually splashed upon the floor. Those who witnessed this strange event, were hushed into silence, and held spellbound by the god-like figure of Gauranga—his majestic bearing, his pathos, and his absorption in the Supreme Deity.

The tears, which poured from his eyes, were supernatural. Yet, there was no sobbing sound, no contortion of his features, and no effort in discharging them. Only his ruddy lips quivered. His perfectly chiseled face beamed in sublime happiness. It was now quite evident, to those watching, that Nimai was only partially conscious, and that his quaking limbs were about to give way under him. Yet, such was the reverential awe, which he inspired, that no one ventured to come to his assistance. Just as he was about to collapse, a person witnessing this lila rushed forward and supported him. That person was none other than the devout sadhu, Iswar Puri!

The touch of Iswar Puri partially restored Nimai. He looked at his aide, and found him to be his old and revered friend. Upon recovering his consciousness, Nimai said, “I consider myself most fortunate to have met you again, and more especially in this place, for the holiest shrines are rendered still more holy by the presence of saintly bhaktas (those who worships deities) like you. My eyes have this day been opened and anointed by the unguent of divine love, and I now find that I have been wading through the primal morass of ungodliness. I look to you, and to the other bhaktas, to extricate me, knowing that God through you expresses his compassion for sinners like me. To you, I yield myself, absolutely and entirely. Have pity upon me, I pray, and grant me the supreme goal of human existence—a glimpse, just one glimpse, of Radha’s love for Krsna!”

Iswar Puri replied, “The moment I first set eyes upon you, at Nadia, you entered my heart, and have been its chief occupant ever since. I worship Radha and Krsna; yet, of late whenever I try to evoke the divine couple, it’s not them I see, but only you. I’m now convinced that you are my beloved Lord; who, having taken pity upon your creatures, has come down upon this earth to grace us. If it pleases you to make me an instrument of your work—so be it. Whatever you bid, I will gladly do.”

Later, while still at Gaya, upon a most auspicious day, Iswar Puri, in the role of guru, breathed a mantra of initiation into the ear of Nimai. This mantra consisted of ten letters meaning, “Salutations to the beloved of the gopis.” When the ceremony was over, they embraced each other, and wept for joy.

Nimai had left, not only his levity, but also his likes and dislikes behind in Nadia. The idea that he was going to a holy shrine had elevated him. The fever had purged his soul. He entered Gaya in an attitude of devotion. The sight of Krsna’s footprint completed the revolution. It caused a flow of tears, which softened and enlarged his heart, and prepared it to receive the divine influence instilled by Iswar Puri. Nimai then became transformed—born again.

It became quite evident that a mighty wave of emotion, pent up in Nimai’s heart, was convulsing within him, and that he was passing through a crisis. His attendants did not understand. If they asked a question, he seemed not to hear, or gave some nonsensical reply. He seldom spoke, and passed most of his time in a state of withdrawal. There was an inexpressible sadness to his countenance, which showed that some great sorrow weighed upon him.

Sometimes he would be in the serene and beatific attitude of deep devotion. Sometimes he would gaze with vacant eyes, apparently unconscious of his surroundings. Sometimes he would meditate with his eyes shut. Sometimes he would look upwards as though he were expecting someone from above; sometimes he seemed to have found the one he was expecting, and his face would brighten with delight. He would then mutter something to this invisible being, yet what he said nobody knew. Sometimes tears trickled down his cheeks, and his expression would reveal the very anguish that was gnawing at his soul, the nature of which he could communicate to no one; indeed, he endeavored to conceal his feelings. If one of his companions interrupted him, he would blush profusely. His constant distraction, and disregard of every worldly concern and comfort; the indelible pathos of his countenance; the silent tears—which he always tried to conceal—created the profoundest feelings of compassion in all those who watched over him.

One day his attendants heard him exclaim, “Wherefore art thou my Krsna, my Lord?” They then discovered that he had passed out and fallen onto the floor. Being greatly concerned about their master, they made every effort to rouse him. At length, regaining consciousness, he endeavored to get up, but his limbs refused, whereupon he began to weep and lament, muttering, “My Krsna, my Lord, I cannot live without thee. Hide thyself from me no more.” He then again fainted. After a time, he regained his consciousness, and uttered, “My Lord, without you my world is barren!”

His companions tried to console him, but Nimai was not to be placated. His sorrowful voice, his pathetic countenance, and his tears, grieved all those who were present, and melted the hearts of even the sternest amongst them.

Becoming, at length, somewhat composed he addressed his followers: “I must ask your permission to go at once to Vrndavan, for I cannot endure the thought of returning to Nabadwip until I have seen my Krsna, and I shall surely find him in his land. There is a void in my heart, which none but Krsna can fill. Tell my mother to forgive me for not returning. I’m no longer independent. Krsna takes me away from her. I cannot live without him, and if you love me, my friends, do not restrain me.” He then rose to depart! His companions took hold of him, and it was only by sheer physical force that they succeeded in detaining him.

Candrasekhar, and the others, found themselves in an exceedingly difficult position. Saci had entrusted her beloved son to their care. But Nimai was not a man to be controlled by ordinary persuasion.

Yet, shortly thereafter—to the great relief of his companions—Nimai decided to return to Nadia. They traveled homeward faster than they had gone. Nimai remained, all the way, in a state of almost complete withdrawal.

Ch. 6

Upon the morning of Nimai’s homecoming, his mother joyfully came out into the street to greet him. Young Visnupriya bashfully hid behind the front door, where she could sneak a peak at her lord. Mother and son met, and Nimai reverentially prostrated himself before her. The news soon spread all over Nadia that Nimai had returned safe and sound.

Neighbours, friends, relatives, and pupils, gathered to welcome him back. They were, however, startled to see that he was no longer the same Nimai. His former mirthful countenance was overcast with melancholy—a sadness that seemed to have its source in some sort of ecstasy. His competitive spirit had dissipated and left him the meekest of men.

He bowed to his elders with great reverence; to his friends he was deferential; to his inferiors, amiable, and to his pupils, affectionate. His quiet charm enchanted all those who then came in contact with him. There was one, however, who was not pleased at the change.

Saci recognized her son to be under the influence of something, which made him distant from everything around him. She wanted her son, like other men, to interest himself in the affairs of this world, and partake of all its legitimate pleasures. As a young man he ought to have enjoyed delicious food, fine clothes, and the company of his wife and friends. She even suspected that the real Nimai had fled, and that somebody else had taken possession of her son’s body. Yet, there was nothing offensive in his attitude, indeed, her son had become still more tender towards her; nevertheless, she was alarmed to find that she could not treat him with the same familiarity as before.

That afternoon, the young physician Murari, Sadasiva, and Shriman, visited Nimai to hear a secret, which he promised to divulge. They had missed his melodic voice, and his colourful, poetic language. All three now sat upon his verandah, where Nimai was asked to relate the highlights of his pilgrimage to Gaya. When he began his description of the Temple of Gadadhar, he said, “The priests directed me to the footprint of Sri Krsna. I gazed at it….” Nimai suddenly stopped.

He stared with motionless eyes. They wanted to rouse him from what they considered to be mere reverie. He then collapsed—as if he had just dropped dead!

The recollection of Krsna’s footprint caused a tremor in his heart, which quickly overwhelmed him. Murari, the physician, used every method he knew to rouse him, and eventually succeeded. Nimai then sat up and struggled to say something, but could not, and fell down again, managing to utter only the name of Krsna in the midst of sobs. Nimai’s heart was then relieved by an extraordinary gush of tears, which drenched his body, and the clothes of his friends, and “wetted the flower garden.”

At last, he managed to say that the bane of his existence remained stuck in his heart like an arrow, and this he emphasized by placing his hand upon his chest. “My dear friends, to whom shall I pour out my sorrows? he stammered. “Tomorrow morning, I will tell you everything, if you will kindly meet me at the house of Suklambar.”

That night, when Nimai retired to bed, Visnupriya followed with sweet flowers and fragrances. He had that evening, by mighty efforts, restrained his emotions. But when his beloved wife came to him, he could hold back the tears no longer, and they began to flow silently down his cheeks.

She had come to welcome her husband, who had been absent for three months, and he was receiving her with a flood of tears! Visnupriya ran to Saci, crying, “Mother, mother…here quickly!” Saci made haste to Nimai’s room, where Nimai was still quietly sobbing.

Her presence was unnoticed by him. She placed her hand upon his forehead and asked, “What ails thee, my child?” Saci’s voice had no effect upon him. She again asked, and this time more loudly. “You’re breaking my heart, Nimai. What’s the matter with you?”

The floodgates of his soul were laid open by the sound of his mother’s voice. Finally, after great effort, Nimai succeeded, amidst sobs, to say, “Mother, don’t be distressed. I was dreaming. A most beautiful being appeared to me, and since then I feel myself unable to stop weeping.”

It was evident to Saci, and her daughter-in-law, that the ‘beautiful being’ was Sri Krsna. Then he began to describe his beauty—as if to himself; both Saci and Visnupriya soon found themselves enthralled. Thus, the first night of Nimai’s return passed!

Early next morning, Sriman and others gathered flowers for worship, from a kunda bush that grew in Srivas’s garden. Sriman had spent the night in utter bliss. The spectacle that he had witnessed, of Nimai in a fit of devotion, had elevated him. He felt that God must be very loving to be able to inspire people with such a deep affection for him. He then felt that much of the misery of humanity was rooted in an erroneous idea of God’s nature; that God, and humanity, were very nearly, and dearly, related. He had thus been able to transcend all his petty preoccupations, and pass a completely contented night—the first in his life. He now appeared, before his friends and neighbours, beaming with serenity.

“You seem very happy.” Srivas remarked.

“Yes, I have good reason to be.” Sriman replied.

“Why is that?” asked Srivas.

Sriman was anxious to give everybody his impression of the previous afternoon. So he told those plucking flowers all that he had witnessed. “From what I saw of Nimai Pandit, it appears that he is something more than human. It’s not possible to describe…seeing is believing!”

Everyone was glad to hear this, especially friends of Nimai’s father. Pious Srivas had always prayed that Sri Krsna would lead Nimai to His fold. With his great wish now fulfilled, he said, “May Lord Krsna multiply our family.”

Sriman continued, “We three, that is, Murari, Sadasiva, and I, have been asked, by Nimai, to go this morning to the house of Suklambar, the ascetic, where he has promised to tell us of the sorrows that are paining his heart.”

Gadadhar, who had not been invited, also wanted to go. Thus, he hastened to Suklambar’s house, and hid. Shortly thereafter, Murari and Sadasiva arrived, and with Sriman waited upon the verandah.

They saw Nimai, in the distance, coming to meet them. A tall, young, healthy man, of immense physical strength; yet, he faltered at every step. It appeared that he was feeling his way towards them with the unsteady gait of a drunkard. Eventually, he attempted to negotiate the verandah steps, and seeing his friends there, stopped as if to speak. But the sight of them gave further fuel to his feelings, and while muttering, “My Krsna!” he lost his balance. He instinctively grabbed one of the wooden posts, which broke from his weight, and with it he crashed onto the verandah floor!

His three friends hastily rushed to his aid. They saw that his eyes were half-shut; that his pupils had almost disappeared behind the upper lids; that his jaws were locked, and that froth was oozing from between his lips. Murari, the physician, was shocked because Nimai seemed to have stopped breathing. They loudly called his name, sprinkled water upon his face, and shook him vigorously.

After a time Nimai was revived. He tearfully looked at his attendants with unutterable sorrow, and endeavored to speak, but could not. He touched his breast, and informed them by signs that Krsna had fled from his heart.

When the power of speech returned to him, he began to lament, “I found my Krsna, but he has escaped me. My heart is empty, and the whole world cannot fill it. It’s all emptiness. Where is he? Can no friend bring him back to me?” And in agony, he began to roll in the dirt like “one stung by a thousand scorpions.”

After a while Nimai sat up, his golden-hued body and disheveled hair covered with dust, and his eyes red from incessant weeping. With intense misery etched upon his face, he endeavoured once more to speak, but his voice constricted in his throat, and he fell down again.

He continued to rise and fall. When he wanted to utter his secret, his consciousness again failed him. When again he recovered from his trance, he made a further attempt to speak. Thus, hours glided away. If Nimai wept, so did his attendants. He, at last, saw that it would be impossible to tell his secret in his present state, and desisted.

As the sun began to set, Nimai became calm. He heard sobs coming from inside the house, “Who is it?” he asked. They told him it was Gadadhar. “Gadadhar? It’s Gadadhar?” said Nimai. “Yes, Gadadhar, thou art a lucky man, thou hast spent thy days in devotion, while I have frittered them away in vain pursuits.”

Hearing this, Gadadhar emerged from his hiding place and fell at Nimai’s feet. Gadadhar then said in faltering tones, “You know that I’m your slave forever.”

A little before nightfall they all escorted Nimai home. Saci washed him, and induced him to break his fast. Thus, the second attempt by Nimai to tell his secret failed.

After returning from Gaya, he was duty bound to visit his elders and honor them. Gangadas, his educator (the famous grammarian) greeted him with open arms, and spoke to him as a father. “It is well that you have come back from Gaya. Your pupils are forlorn without you. They wish to be taught by you, and only you. They are neglecting their studies in your absence. Open your tol at once. It is necessary for the sake of your students, and for your own sake, Nimai. If you disregard your studious ways, you will quickly forget most of what you have learned.”

Early the following morning Nimai failed to remember where he was going, and managed to arrive at his tol purely from habit. His pupils appeared one by one. He sat before them, absorbed and pensive. The, boys—as was the custom—opened their books saying, “Hari! Hari!” As this sound entered Nimai’s ears he immediately lapsed into a further state of distraction—becoming almost entirely oblivious of everyone and everything about him.

“How sweet is the word Hari,” Nimai began, and continued discoursing upon its merits for several hours. He explained that the object of human existence was the attainment of Sri Krsna’s lotus feet.

At noon, he suddenly regained his senses. He then recollected that he was Nimai pandit, who had come to teach, and not to preach, and hung his head!

“It’s late, let us now go home,” he concluded. “As we have re-opened the tol today, it is well that we have passed it in discoursing upon divine matters.”

This explanation seemed very natural to the students, as it was customary for Hindus to begin all ventures by offering thanks to the Lord.

Upon the following morning, Nimai again opened the tol. He came with the intention to teach, and to suppress the tendencies that might arise from his heart. Yet, his feelings got the better of him, and he began, again, to talk of Hari. However, the sermons of Nimai did not give rise to any ridicule. For, when he spoke, his voice sounded sweeter than celestial music, his ideas came alive with sparkling imagery, and his words carried a conviction that soothed his pupils’ souls. Those who had never given much thought to spiritual matters, were suddenly inspired, and began to glimpse life’s true purpose.

Nimai was startled to find that he had, again, preached instead of imparting academic knowledge. He appeared mortified, and determined to give more attention to his duties the following day.

The next morning arrived, and precisely the same thing happened. The students did not know what to make of their master. They saw that he was more powerful, competent, and kinder than ever; yet, they could make no progress with their studies—which had already been stifled during the months he had spent on his pilgrimage. They had resolved to make up for the lost time by extra efforts upon his return. Yet, their instructor was now before them, and still they made no headway.

The older pupils consulted Pandit Gangadas—their master’s master. They told him that Nimai, since his return from Gaya, had taught them nothing, having devoted all the hours, set apart for education, to discourses about Sri Krsna and his goodness.

Gangadas was disturbed to hear such an account of his greatest student. He smiled, however, at the picture presented to him of young Nimai—the brash, competitive scholar—suddenly converted into a saint and religious zealot! So, he suggested to the students that they bring Nimai to him the following day.

The following afternoon, Nimai, accompanied by his pupils, came to pay his respects to Gangadas, who blessed him with the words, “Be a learned man,” and began to admonish him. He reminded him that he was the son of a pandit, and he himself a pandit of renown, whose great learning, and success as a teacher, had more than repaid him (Gangadas) for the pains he had taken to educate him.

“But,” he continued, “I am told, Nimai, that you now devote all your energy, and abilities, to the cause of religion, that you have become a saint, and are neglectful of your own studies, and of the intellectual progress of those committed to your charge. No one could be more pleased than I, to learn that you have bowed your haughty head to the mild yoke of religion. Yet, your uncommon abilities mark you out for a great future as a professor. While I would on no account ask you to become less fervent in your religious faith; I implore you, for the sake of the young men who attend your tol—for secular instruction—and who are ardently attached to you, to focus your energies upon their advancement. Your faithful pupils, who are determined never to go elsewhere, are not getting their education!”

Nimai blushed, stammered an apology, and promised to pay more attention in future to his academic duties. By coming in contact with his intellectual preceptor, Nimai was temporarily extricated from the influence, which had almost consumed him. Now, in complete possession of his faculties, he returned with his pupils, like the Nimai of old, entertaining them along the way with brilliant discourses.

That evening they all assembled at the house of Ratnagarbha, a brahmana from Sylhet, who hailed from the very village where Nimai’s father, Jagannath, was born.

Nimai sat, surrounded by his pupils, whom he engrossed with his intellectual repartee. His students, seeing that their master was, at last, teaching them in his old style, were delighted, and listened with rapt attention.

Close by Ratnagarbha was performing his puja (worship). He recited loudly and sweetly, a sloka from Srimad-Bhagavat, describing Sri Krsna. As soon as the sound and mood of this sloka entered Nimai’s ears, all his intellectual banter ceased. Within moments his head was spinning, his legs buckled, and he collapsed, gasping, “My Krsna!”

“You advised me to never go to the Jamuna to bathe,” said Radha to her maids, “lest I fall victim to the enchanting beauty of Sri Krsna; who waits, under a kadamba tree, to steal the hearts of simple-minded maidens. Believing I could resist him, I ignored your advice. But alas! Alas! He has taken possession of me, and everything that belongs to me, even my identity. Now, wherever I cast my glance, I see only Krsna!”

Nimai had left his master, that very afternoon, apparently determined to resume his former studious ways; yet, with one whiff of the Divine Romance his mighty, intellectual prowess folded.

This was the first time Nimai had swooned in public, and his pupils knew not what to do. Luckily, however, Gadadhar was present. He had witnessed Nimai in a similar state, and was able to revive him.

The moment Nimai regained consciousness, he asked Ratnagarbha to repeat the sloka. Ratnagarbha complied, and Nimai again fell down in a trance. His condition touched the heart of everyone present. They were irresistibly drawn towards the Supreme Deity, and tears of divine love rolled down their cheeks.

Nimai recovered, and again exclaimed, “Repeat the sloka! Repeat the sloka!” Ratnagarbha again repeated it, and again Nimai found himself under its spell!

Gadadhar adored Nimai more dearly than life itself, and was extremely pained to see his friend rolling in the dirt; his golden-hued body besmeared with dust, and tears squirting from his eyes like water from syringes. So, when Nimai again asked to hear the sloka, Gadadhar beseeched him to stop, and Nimai desisted.

Nimai embraced Ratnagarbha—his heart awakened, and he was immediately infused with bhakti (devotion) for Krsna. From that moment, he became Nimai’s forever. Those present managed to guide Nimai to the Ganges to bathe, and then brought him safely home to his mother.

Upon the following morning Nimai found himself at his tol, again surrounded by his pupils. He seemed divine to them in every way. From every part of his body glowed the effulgence of holiness. His large eyes emanated unutterable love, his calm and chastened face conveyed unfathomable wisdom. Yet, Nimai was again absorbed in his own world. They gazed at him with awe and extreme tenderness. What they had seen, the previous evening, had initiated a radical transformation within each of them. They were now fully convinced that their teacher was not an ordinary man of flesh and blood.

Nimai was about to speak under the influence that had overwhelmed him on previous days; subduing it, he beckoned to his pupils to come near. He then addressed them slowly, and deliberately: “Tell me, my friends, honestly, is it not a fact that you are now getting no help with your studies?”

They remained silent with bent heads.

“Yes,” continued Nimai, “I feel that you’re getting no assistance from me. Tell me, please, what I do?” He was perfectly self-controlled. He continued, “Tell me friends, how I behave when I come here?”

One student deferentially replied, “Pandit, it is correct that you do not give us any instruction. You speak only of Sri Krsna. What you say is all true and good, and none of us doubts that the attainment of God is the final goal of life. Yet, to listen to such discourses, however valuable, is not the purpose for which we students attend your tol.”

Nimai paused, “Yes. I speak to you of Krsna, and not of your lessons.”

Another student remarked: “Since your return from Gaya, you have spoken not one word about our studies. Last night you fainted upon hearing a sloka. You probably can’t recall much about it; yet, all those who were present, were deeply moved by your behaviour, which clearly showed—of all human beings—you are surely the most devoted and favoured disciple of Sri Krsna.”

Nimai gazed at the student with tears in his eyes, and said, “Yes. You are not getting assistance from me. I have tried my utmost to direct my attention to your studies, but I have failed. Is it possible that my old malady—insanity—has again taken possession of me?” Nimai muttered as if to himself.

“No, that cannot be!” they replied with one voice.

Then a student, speaking for them all, said, “When you talk, dazzling jewels fall from your lips. Your mastery over the subtlest of ideas is marvelous. Your discourses enthrall us and fill us with delight. Your bhakti for God is beyond conception. This can never be insanity.”

Nimai resumed, “Thank you so much. There is something I’ve kept secret—when I’m about to teach, at that moment, a child of dark complexion, and of exquisite beauty, appears before me, playing the sweetest music upon his flute. He fills my senses.” As he spoke, the image of the beautiful boy appeared to him. He was about to fall into a trance. He, somehow, pulled himself together.

“Krsna has taken entire possession of me—my whole being. Therefore, my dear friends, teaching you is now completely out of the question. Please, allow me to take leave of you. I freely give you permission to go wherever you choose to further your education, and may the blessings of Sri Krsna always be with you! Forget me not, for I shall never forget you.” The professor of twenty-three then looked tenderly upon his students, and burst into tears!

The emotion in his voice, his sentiments, and his sorrowful countenance, moved them to tears also. They all sobbed like children. Someone, at length, speaking for his fellows, said: “Here then our education ends—our dearly-loved education. Think not, pandit, that we can transfer ourselves to another professor, even if we wished to do so, where would we find one so tender, and so affectionate as you? We bid farewell then to education! Bless us master, that we may not forget what we have now learned at your feet.”

Nimai could not speak. He beckoned his pupils to come nearer. He caught hold of the nearest, placed him upon his lap, smelled his head and kissed him. This done, he took another, and so on. They all wept.

Nimai tried to console them, though he too was inconsolable. Yet, he restrained his feelings as best he could, and said quietly, “Friends, if we are to part, soothe my heart by singing Krsna-kirtan (congregational chanting). Oblige me thus, and if I have been of any service to you, let this be its adequate reward.”

The students welcomed the chance to give vent to their surcharged hearts. One eagerly exclaimed, “We will willingly do so, but what is Krsna-kirtan?”

Nimai said, “Let us sing in praise of the Supreme Deity, who is so good, so merciful, and so loving.” Keeping time with his hands, he began, in his sonorous voice to sing, “Salutations to Krsna, salutations to Hari.” Tears of joy trickled down his cheeks. His tone, his look, every movement of his limbs, imparted bhakti (devotion) to them. The sweet sorrow of parting opened their hearts, and bhakti now flowed in. They all sang kirtan, and soon found themselves swept away by its current. Gradually the external world began to grow dimmer and dimmer to their gaze; beatific joy flooded their hearts. Some just wept. Some laughed, some trembled, some rolled upon the ground, and some danced in ecstasy. The commotion attracted an audience; they too found themselves caught in the current; they all prostrated themselves before the Lord, who was then “swimming in the river of bhakti.”

Singing kirtan opened the floodgates of his pupils’ softened hearts. Indescribable joy awakened them to the pleasure of spiritual devotion. It then appeared to them that they had been fools to forget their creator, and live the life of animals; that the Lord was good and loving; that he was the fountainhead of bliss, and that the whole universe was an expression of the love that emanated from him.

This was the first Krsna-kirtan sung by Lord Gauranga for the salvation of humanity. Many of Nimai’s pupils, from that day forth gave up their education and society, and dedicated themselves to the lotus feet of the Supreme Deity.

Thus ends the early lila (pastime) of Nimai: The Period of Intellectual Endeavour.

Ch. 7

Saci knew not what to make of her son. He would not bathe unless directed to do so; he would not eat unless prevailed upon. He remained always distant. Tears never ceased rolling down his cheeks. If he spoke, he spoke only of Krsna. If he regained his mundane state, he talked of other matters, but not for long. Gadadhar and his friends always watched over him, protecting him from outsiders, and from his precarious, overwrought, self!

His rival professors, again, circulated the rumour that Nimai Pandit had been overtaken by his infirmity. They did more; they forced themselves into Saci’s presence, and began to frighten that simple-minded lady. They told her that she should take prompt action for the recovery of her son, who had become a raving maniac, and that he should be tied to a post, put on a cold liquid diet, and kept immersed in icy water day and night.

Of course, Saci was concerned; yet, what could she do? She could not consult her son. Indeed, she had ventured once, or twice, to sound him out, and his only reply was, that he knew his attitude pained her, and for her sake, he would do his best to stop crying and shake off the influence that now dominated him.

In despair, Saci sent for Srivas. When he entered their home, Nimai’s cheeks were wet with tears, and his eyes red from weeping. Nimai rose to greet him. In the past he had treated his Vaisnava friends as objects of ridicule. Now the sight of Srivas gave him such an emotional surge that he suddenly collapsed and passed out!

Srivas, from the moment he arrived, had been studying Nimai with inordinate attention and curiosity. He noted the symptoms that attended the ecstasy of a true bhakta—as described in the scriptures—present in him. He saw additional symptoms, which had not been transcribed by any saintly writer. Indeed, the bhakti that he saw displayed by Nimai appeared to him something supernatural.

Nimai knew that some people thought him mad, and that his mother had been advised to treat him like a lunatic. Indeed, he knew why his mother had gone to Srivas, and why Srivas had come to him. Thus, when he awakened from his swoon, he composed himself before Srivas, and said frankly, “It is well, pandit, that you have come. You were a friend of my father, and are a servant of Krsna. People tell my mother that I have been overtaken by my old malady…all I can say is, I cannot restrain my tears.”

Srivas looked at Saci, and said, “Why do you listen to those ignorant people? Your son has attained to Krsna-prem, the highest transcendental blessing of God to man. How is it possible for the irreligious to understand these matters? Banish all anxiety from your heart. I assure you, your son will do wonders. Such marvelous bhakti means that God is on his way, or already here!”

Nimai gratefully looked at Srivas, and said, “People have called my condition madness, and if you were of the same opinion, I would have immediately drowned myself in the Ganges. As you have given me hope, allow me to embrace you.”

As Nimai hugged Srivas a ripple of heart felt pleasure surged through him. “People call it madness do they? I wish you could oblige me by sharing more of your so-called insanity, even an infinitesimal drop of it, for I should then consider myself the most fortunate man in the universe. We have nothing to do with what narrow-minded academics say. Come to my house every night, and we shall pass our time in worshipping Krsna.”

Nimai gladly agreed.

Saci felt reassured by Srivas’s prognosis. Yet, she had not healed from the wound that Visvarup, her eldest son, had left in her heart, and she trembled to think that this love for Krsna might take her only remaining son, Nimai, away and convert him into an ascetic like his brother.

Ch. 8

Srivas had three brothers. All four brothers dined together, though each had a separate home and family in the same compound, enclosed within strong and high walls. Aside from the four houses, Srivas had a small temple, where he performed his puja (worship). Nimai’s companions learned that he had arranged to attend Srivas’s devotional gatherings, where Murari, Gadadhar, Mukunda, and others, met.

Early each morning Nimai went to the Ganges to perform his ablutions, Gadadhar and others always accompanied him. If upon these occasions he saw anyone with whom he was not acquainted, he avoided them, unless it was a faithful Vaisnava, in which case he would bow to him, and sometimes prostrate himself at his feet, trying all the while to suppress any outburst of emotion. “What is it you are doing, pandit?” was the general exclamation of those to whom he thus bowed. For in this city of learning, Nimai was deemed its literary king. A momentary surprise, mixed with confusion, usually gave way to compassion at the sight of Nimai’s extraordinary humility. Sometimes they were even moved to tears. Nimai comported himself as being “lower than a blade of grass,” and therefore fell at the feet of any devout bhakta. Sometimes he would take a bhakta’s basket of flowers (brought to perform puja at the river) and carry it for him, or his clothes (to be worn after bathing), or he would wring out his wet garments after he had finished his ablutions.

The people thus honoured were abashed by the humble attention given to them by such a worthy man, and invariably entreated Nimai not to give himself such trouble. Nimai would reply, “I have heard that Krsna gives his grace to those who serve his devotees. Why then would you deprive me of winning his favour?” His unassuming nature had a mighty effect upon those whom he thus served, and those who witnessed such service. Soon every aspiring bhakta, who chanced to meet Nimai, greeted him with the blessing, “May Krsna grant you his grace!”

Nimai on such occasions would reply: “Since you, his devotee are so kind to me, Krsna no doubt will bless me.”

His unparalleled humility moved not only the bhaktas, but also worldly men. He soon became the topic of conversation in many circles. Among those learned men whose fame he had eclipsed, were some who spoke of him unkindly. Yet, no one who had once seen him, and observed his sincerity, and the benign expression of his countenance, could bear ill will towards him. His disposition was utterly without guile. Nimai had become the Avatar (saviour) of simplicity, honesty, and sweetness. All glamour, piety, pretension, and scholarship left him as the uncontrived beauty of his soul gained ascendancy over his former personality; he became meek and mild, natural and ordinary—extraordinarily ordinary!

Because Advaita was head of the Vaisnava community in Nadia, devotees were accustomed to meeting at his house, where Vaisnava books were read, conversations about Krsna held, and devotional activities performed. It was at one of these meetings, that a devotee announced that Nimai Pandit, who had proven himself matchless in the academic world, and scoffed at religion, was now the humblest of beings.

“I have always noticed something remarkable in Nimai,” observed Advaita. “As a child of four or five he often came here, at the behest of his mother, to fetch his elder brother, Visvarup. Even then he attracted my attention. As a servant of Sri Krsna, I was not prone to be captivated by the mere physical beauty that the boy clearly possessed; yet, there was a spiritual light in his eyes, and a heavenly sweetness to his expression, such as I had never seen in any child before, which caused me to wonder, ‘Who is he?’ I have often repeated this question, but not until last night was I afforded an explanation.

“Being disturbed by the way I understood a passage in the Bhagavat-gita, I fasted and prayed to Sri Krsna to enlighten me, and remove my doubts. Well, last night I dreamt that someone was calling me by name. The being said: ‘Get up Acarya and listen to the meaning of the passage you have failed to grasp.’ Then the true purport of the sloka was given unto me. The being added, ‘Grieve no more. Your prayers have been answered. I have come to teach the ways of saving humanity.’ I opened my eyes and saw Nimai standing before me! Then he vanished. From that moment my soul has been filled with joy. It may, of course, have been merely a figment of my imagination. There is no doubt, however, that if Nimai, the grandson and son of two notable pandits, and himself a pandit of unrivalled powers, becomes a bhakta, he will be of great service to humanity. Yet, if he really is the one, whom we are expecting, he is bound to come to us and prove that he is none other than my beloved Lord.”

Advaita had prayed for God to appear among his suffering creatures, and relieve them of their sorrows. He was convinced that God had listened to his prayers. What then could be more natural than He seeking Advaita, and revealing Himself?

At precisely that time Nimai was planning to visit Advaita, to ask if he would kindly intercede, for him, with God. Advaita, after all, was not only recognized as the head of the Vaisnava community, but also as a saint. Nimai’s father, Jagannath, respected him as an inspired bhakta. How then was Nimai, who felt lower than a blade of grass, to approach him? At length, he resolved to go with the precaution of taking Gadadhar. The idea that he was going to see a Vaisnava saint filled his heart with fervid emotion. As he neared Advaita’s house, he appeared gripped with anxiety; upon entering, he saw the old saint happily performing his puja (worship), and wished only to fall at his feet. He succeeded in advancing a step or two towards him, when suddenly, with a piercing cry, he fainted and fell flat on the floor!

Advaita gaped at the golden figure that lay unconscious before him with wonder. “He is so magnificent,” he thought, “and impressed with such transcendent grace!”

The more Advaita gazed, the more captivated he became! He recalled his dream. He found himself unable to overcome an irresistible realization, which now so affected his heart—he could no longer contain his feelings.

“Thou art come, my beloved! They call thee merciful. This act of coming amongst us fallen souls is proof of thy infinite mercy. I am overjoyed to see thee in our midst in such a perfect form.” Advaita, a rigid observer of formality, suddenly realized that he had not worshipped his great guest correctly. He then hastened to bring flowers, Ganges water, and other necessary materials, with which he worshipped the feet of Nimai, while chanting the well-known sloka, “Salutations to Sri Krsna.”

Gadadhar was pained to see the senior saint of seventy-five worshipping the feet of one so much younger! In a tone of protest, he remarked to Advaita, that as Nimai had done him no harm, it was unkind of a learned bhakta to bring misfortune upon an innocent youth, by showing him the reverence due only to God.

Advaita stared at Gadadhar, noticing his presence for the first time. He smiled knowingly, and said, “You will soon appreciate, Gadadhar, what sort of being your dear friend really is.”

Nimai began to awaken; seeing Advaita kneeling at his feet, he hastily arose and bowed to him with great reverence: “Goswami, great bhakta, rescue me from the sea of worldliness, where I am drowning. Please lead me to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna.”

Advaita withdrew. Nimai and Gadadhar hastily exited. Advaita was now alone and confused. Nimai had spoken to him as a novice asking for spiritual favours! “Why should Krsna, if Nimai were he, speak to me in such a way?” he mused. “Was I then mistaken in supposing him to be the Lord?” Nimai’s presence had enthralled his soul; Advaita, now freed from its hold, wondered at his own folly, in so quickly paying homage to Jagannath’s youngest son—a lad he had seen, just the other day, almost naked in the street. What was this strange influence that had beguiled him? And he censured his saintly self for being duped by two young lads. He was humiliated, and to avoid a scandal, he fled to his home at Santipur, muttering, “If Nimai really is an incarnation of the Lord, he will, no doubt, seek me out.”

Ch. 9

Nimai visited Srivas’s house at nightfall. Some friends of Nimai were also present, such as Gadadhar, Murari, Mukunda, and Sriman. Nimai attempted to reveal his secret, but again fainted, having uttered not a word!

As Nimai began to recover he wailed, “I found my Krsna, but now he’s gone!” His voice was so sad that it “would melt a stone.”

Everyone wept with him, though they knew not why. They did, however, know that they were not acting like sound and sober adults. Some tremendous change had been wrought within them. “What does all this mean?” they wondered. “Are we men, or ethereal beings? Are we still here on earth, or have we been wafted to a spiritual realm? Has Nimai, as a celestial being, or even Krsna, elevated us to his abode?” Thus they spoke to one another, between spells of ecstasy, which held them in raptures beyond the utmost bounds of human thought. Throughout that wintry night, they only knew that they had entered, and remained for hours, in a state of transcendental, spiritual, bliss, surpassing the power of words to convey, or reason to wonder why.

The following night Nimai revisited the house of Srivas. Again, his attempts to disclose his secret failed. The most that he could muster, during moments of lucidity, was the excruciating utterance of a word or two. Sometimes he would clasp the neck of his nearest companion, and say, “Brother, bring back my Krsna, that will save my life.” To another he would urge, “Give yourself to Krsna, for there are none like him.”

“Brothers! Listen.” he finally confided. “Having found my Krsna, I lost him. At the city of Kanai-natashala, one morning I beheld a boy, of dark complexion, strolling towards me. His beauty surpassed imagination. His tender and enchanting gaze enthralled my heart. He approached me smiling with infinite love, and such was the light of his countenance, that he seemed the very incarnation of joy. He danced with delight as he came closer, and the jingling of his anklets sounded like transcendental music to my ears. And then, he held me in his tender arms!”

Nimai could say no more. Finally, he had divulged the sweet sorrow that pressed upon his heart. Then he again fainted.

His bewildered friends observed no signs of life within him; he had ceased to breathe, and his heart had ceased to beat. They had never seen Nimai in so deep a trance. They feared that he was lost to them forever; that Sri Krsna had allowed him to survive only to unveil the story. Yet, just before the light of dawn, Nimai did awaken.

Nimai became a bhakta to demonstrate to humanity how one should act in order to attain bhakti and prem (devotion and love) for the Supreme Deity.

In Krsna’s lila (pastimes), Radha bathed in the Jamuna River to purify herself, and upon returning home, she saw Krsna smiling at her sweetly. Thus began her attraction for him.

Nimai was initiated by Iswar Puri at Gaya, and was thus purified, as if he had bathed like Radha in the Jamuna. Subsequently, he met Krsna at Kanai-natashala and Nimai was mesmerized. Thus the purvarag (first attraction) of Nimai for Sri Krsna commenced.

Yet, Nimai was many times more demonstrative, in his love, than even Radha. For Nimai manifested purvarag (first attraction) for Sri Krsna in a way never before imagined. Srimad-Bhagavat states that love for Krsna becomes evident by eight external signs, primarily: weeping, laughter, shivering, perspiring, bodily hair standing erect, fainting, etc. Yet, more than eight symptoms developed in Nimai. Overtaken by purvarag, Nimai became wholly and entirely subjected to its influence. He lost all control over his emotions, and could not restrain his tears. His bhakti transcended all human experience and he became the meekest of men. His sorrowful countenance, and melancholy air, evoked compassionate feelings in all who beheld him. He became distracted, careless of everything worldly, and engaged only in devotion to Sri Krsna. There was hardly a moment when he was not communing with, or pining for, the Lord of his heart. Karnapura, the author of Caitanya-carit Mahakavya, thus describes the state of purvarag as observed in Lord Nimai:

He weeps incessantly from dawn to dark. When evening comes he asks if it is morn, and reasons out the matter in his mind. ‘Anon,’ he says, ‘’tis morn, for there is light.’ As soon as he hears the name of God pronounced, prostrate he falls, and rolls in dust, and quakes from head to toe, and heaves forth a sigh, while showering ceaseless tears of love.

His tears were always eager to flow; only in the presence of strangers did he exercise restraint. Upon rising, tears of joy gushed from his eyes. While washing his face tears rolled down his cheeks. At breakfast, he sat absorbed. It was only at the earnest behest of his mother, Saci, that he ate at all. At noon, when at rest, he dampened his pillow with his never-ending tears.

So engrossed was he with Krsna, that he could think, or speak, of nothing more. Yet, the presence of a stranger would break his trance. When friends came to call, his happy malady was increased, and he would ask, “Has Sri Krsna been your way?” Or, “Have you met Sri Krsna today?” Or, “Can you tell me where Sri Krsna has gone?” These inquiries he made with such simplicity, and earnestness, that his companions would immediately begin to sob. Then with surprise Nimai would say, “Why do you weep? Is it because Sri Krsna will not come today?” He would then burst into tears for raving all the while!

One day Nimai eagerly asked his friend, “Gadadhar, where is my Krsna?”

Gadadhar, who knew him well, replied, “He is within your heart—where else would he be found?”

“He is in here, you say?” And Nimai tore at his chest with fervent hands.

Gadadhar and Saci restrained him, and calmed him.

“Gadadhar,” said Saci, “you’re a sensible boy, you have saved my Nimai’s life. Were you not near, he might have killed himself. Still, he’s gauged his flesh, and blood is trickling from the wounds.”

Nimai began to see Krsna when awake, asleep, and in the air, upon the river, and in the woods. In everything, and everywhere, Krsna filled his world. Sometimes he would speak to him in ecstasy; then with tears of joy, describe his beauty to his friends. Sometimes he would weep for missing him—as though his friends weren’t even there. He knew only Krsna, and nothing more. He did not know what others said, or did, he appeared not to understand. When he regained consciousness what little he remembered had the vagueness of a dream. He sometimes wished to know what had transpired, or beseeched his friends, or mother, to pardon him for things he might have said, or done.

Srivas, and his companions, now infused with transcendental joy, made Nimai the ‘medium’ at their gatherings. With each passing night a mystical presence increased in power, and began to take control of Nimai. When he wanted to talk, the spirit would paralyze his larynx. Yet, when the spirit then tried to make him speak, Nimai would resist, and his body would contort. At this battle of wills the spirit won, when finally he compelled Nimai to declare he was Akroor (the guide who led Krsna from Vrndavan to Mathura).

Whenever those in spirit converse with those on earth, by taking possession of a suitable corporeal body, the higher spirits have to avail themselves of highly evolved humans to give expression to their elevated consciousness. Exalted beings need well nigh perfect mediums. Yet, Nimai’s body had been spawned within this world of imperfections and impurities; thus, some lower elements attached themselves to him. His mundane form, therefore, had to be purged, chastened, and gradually perfected to serve the purpose for which it was destined. Consequently, the body first had fits; then a fever further purified it, enabling it to receive the divine influence at Gaya. A divine spirit next subjected his body to an even higher and more rarified level of receptivity. His whole psyche was thus exponentially expanded, and his ability to channel other entities, eventually, became more coherent and graceful.

He rapidly gained mastery as a medium for numerous beings, especially characters in Krsna-lila, and sometimes he would talk as baby Krsna himself.

Sometimes, his devotion would cause him to perspire so profusely “the River Ganges seemed to flow from him.” (Caitanya-bhagavat). Then, his body would become so dry and hot that buckets of water were splashed upon him, which his pores absorbed instantly! There was thus an ebb and flow of water though his skin. Occasionally, there was violent shivering and a chattering of teeth. Sometimes his limbs became so rigid, he seemed to be made of an inflexible block, and at other times he became so soft and pliable that his body seemed altogether boneless.

There were moments when his breath was suspended; yet, at other times it issued from him like a tornado.

Sometimes his enormous body became so light he momentarily floated in the air, and at other times, he became so immensely heavy, he could not be lifted from the ground.

Occasionally, he formed his body into a wheel, with his feet upon his head, and like a cartoon character he rolled round-n-round Srivas’s yard! Sometimes he moved about on all fours, and at other times he danced like an out of control marionette!

Often, when in deep devotion, the hair all over his body stood on end with plum like pimples at their roots, which oozed blood! He also demonstrated that he could make his bright countenance become pale, or colourless, red, and sometimes dark. The colour of his eyes also changed; indeed, they could exhibit two distinctly different tints!

An extreme duality resulting from Nimai’s Krsna-prem and bhakti (love and devotion) became evident. When in ‘the mood of separation’—feeling that Sri Krsna had abandoned him—he displayed unutterable grief. Later, in ‘the mood of union’—when he felt that Krsna was with him—he was delirious with joy. Hours of weeping were followed by hours of laughter. As with sorrow, so with joy, he would fall down in a swoon from the very excess of these emotions. When those in contact with him received a drop of this divine nectar it was enough, literally, to make them quake with ecstasy.

During the first few nights at Srivas’s, they followed no definite program. The companionship of Nimai imparted to his attendants an irresistible flow of bhakti; they drank it, and became intoxicated. They passed their nights in rapture. When dawn broke, they reproved the sun for disturbing them from their transcendental revelry.

One night, in a delirium of delight, Nimai, with uplifted arms, began dancing and singing “Haribol!” (Say Hari). His companions were also irresistibly led to dance. Soon they too chanted the many names of Krsna. By and by, kholes (long drums) and kartals (cymbals) were introduced to accompany the kirtan (congregational chanting). The heart of the kirtan was, of course, Nimai. He and his elated companions would, with one booming voice, make the room resound with the cries of “Haribol!” “Hari!” They laughed, and they sobbed. They embraced one another, and sometimes rolled on the ground. Until, finally, they were immersed ‘in a sea of divine bhakti;’ then swept away by purifying waves of ecstasy to the rarified realms of Krsna consciousness. This amazing scene was repeated night after night.

Ch. 10

Nimai’s companions learned, from his life, one grand truth, namely, that bhakti was a potent reality, and that he could bestow it, with pleasure, upon whomsoever he wished. They also knew that he could impart it with such intensity, that those who received it became renewed, born again—better and happier in every way. For all those who had tasted the nectar of bhakti, it became the most coveted of influences. His companions, therefore, literally begged to be favoured with Krsna-bhakti. Even Saci one day asked: “I hear you have brought bhakti for Krsna from Gaya, my child—may I have a drop of it?”

“Mother,” he replied, “you shall be blessed with it through the favour of devout bhaktas; for God acts through them.”

Gadadhar, his constant companion, wished to make a similar request, yet was reluctant to ask. One night, as they rested, Gadadhar clasped Nimai’s feet and began to weep.

“Why do you weep, Gadadhar?” asked Nimai, sitting up.

Gadadhar replied with sobs, “You have saved so many—is your slave, Gadadhar, the only one never to taste bhakti?”

Nimai smiled, and graciously answered, “Tomorrow, when you bathe in the Ganges, you’ll be blessed with it.”

Gadadhar took the promise to heart. As day dawned he entered the river:

He bathed himself and great was his joy, For his heart over flowed with adoration for Krsna. (Caitanya-mangal)

Later that morning, Gadadhar approached the Lord reeling with intoxication. Tears trickled down his cheeks. Draping his cloth around his neck, as a sign of devotion, Gadadhar prostrated himself at Nimai’s feet.

The Heart-master smilingly said, “Gadadhar, do you have it?”

Gadadhar responded by silently bathing the Lord’s feet with tears.

Thus was Gadadhar blessed with the nectar of devotion. Henceforth, when Nimai danced, Gadadhar danced at his side, and the touch of him melted Gadadhar with love.

The great ascetic, Suklambar, was Nimai’s neighbour, who had always regarded him as a son. He would wipe the tears from his eyes, and brush the dust from his body. Eventually, Suklambar believed that Krsna-bhakti was the highest state attainable to humanity; that his asceticism had done him very little good, for he had no bhakti, and that Nimai was its bestower. So, one day he addressed Gauranga thus:

As a weary pilgrim I sojourned from shrine to shrine, Heedless of suffering I traveled far and wide, To Madhu Puri and Dwarivati. Therefore grant me, O Lord, the bhakti of Krsna. (Caitanya-bhagavat)

The Lord, wishing to purge him of his piety, replied: “Are not jackals and dogs to be found at Madhu Puri and Dwarivati?”

Suklambar then fell at his feet and wept tears of repentance. “Forgive me, my Lord,” he pleaded. “I deserve nothing because I have not been able to conquer my arrogance.”

The Lord felt compassion for the humbled ascetic. So, taking his hand, he said, “Be blessed.”

A thrill passed through Suklambar’s frame, his hair stood on end, and tears rolled down his cheeks. He felt himself surcharged with divine ecstasy, and rid of all the impurities that had bound his soul. Then, with his mendicant’s bag thrown across his shoulder, he danced with delight.

Nimai had the potency, not only to purify sinners, but also to transform them into bhaktas—ardent devotees. A passive sadhu, who is pure but devoid of bhakti, does not attract Krsna; thus, he remains upon the mundane platform, disconnected from the transcendental relativity. This power, possessed by Nimai, of granting bhakti, showed that he was infinitely higher than humanity. Krsna serves those who are devoted to him; he is therefore a serving friend to his bhaktas. So when Lord Gauranga gave bhakti to a sinner, he essentially compelled the Supreme Deity to serve that person, despite his dubious past. “Who is this Nimai, ” wondered his companions, “that he can thus issue a mandate upon Lord Krsna?”

The possibility of a god then incarnating in human form, never occurred to most Hindus. Though Sri Krsna appeared to their forefathers thousands of years ago, many over time believed him to be a mythical character. Others believed that one such as Lord Krsna could only have appeared in those distant, magical ages when deities walked amongst men. The idea that an exalted being would condescend to mingle with the sinful people of this Iron Age (Kali-yuga) was not even considered by most learned Hindus. All the Avatars (saviours from a spiritual realm) for this era, according to the scriptures, had come and gone—except for one, Kalki, who was to appear as a demon slayer, upon a white horse, with sword in hand, Sri Gauranga definitely did not answer to that description. So, even Nimai’s well-wishers, though they knew he was special, could not entertain the idea that he was an Avatar.

Yet, Advaita predicted that the Lord was to appear; indeed, he emphatically asserted that he would appear. Initially, few people took him seriously; even those who did, could not bring themselves to entertain the notion that he who was to appear, might already have arrived in the form of Nimai Pandit—the son of poor Jagannath Misra—who was subject to all the same mutable laws of nature as themselves, and who had comported himself as a glib, dandified prankster.

When Advaita and his followers predicted the advent of the Lord, they had no definite idea of how he would materialize. They naturally thought that he would reveal himself with a majesty befitting his exalted position. Nimai was merely a man—a man who had all the blemishes of humanity. He ate and slept like others; he had not shown himself to be omniscient, omnipotent or even omnipresent. To think that the Avatar, which Advaita had predicted, was Nimai would have been a great disappointment to everyone, as it now was to Advaita.

However, many people wondered what had happened to Nimai and his companions, who seemed to have become transformed into beings that led mystical and dreamy lives.

Every night, at the house of Srivas, kirtan was sung by an ever-increasing number of invited guests. The doors were shut at a fixed hour and no one—not even a friend—was then admitted.

Hundreds of people, drawn by the music and exuberant singing, clamoured for admission, sometimes with entreaties, and sometimes threats—but all in vain. The doors remained closed.

A rumour was spread throughout the town that Nimai and his companions were indulging in unnatural pleasures!

The sankirtan began in the month of January, and was carried on, most enthusiastically, throughout February; by March it came to be known throughout all Bengal. Nimai’s party rapidly increased in strength, and eminent people soon flocked to surrender at his feet.

The tumult in Nadia grew. The followers of Nimai were easily marked out from the common herd. They seemed to be self-absorbed, otherworldly, and in a state of bliss. This naturally created envy, so the bhaktas avoided mundane company, and became discreet in all their dealings. When asked what they did at their meetings, they declined to reveal anything to worldly ears. Many of those who were disappointed at not gaining admittance continued to circulate ugly rumours. “Wherever there’s secrecy there’s crime,” one insinuated. It mattered not to the followers of Nimai, for they were constantly “swimming in an ocean of ecstasy.”

However, when their antagonists asserted, that Hussein Shah, the Muslim King of Bengal, had been urged to put a stop to their malpractices, and was sending several boatfuls of soldiers to arrest and execute not only Nimai, but also his associates, a sense of impending doom finally began to dampen the bhaktas’ spirits.

One morning, in the hot month of May, Srivas, having bathed and entered his temple, bowed to a statue of Sri Krsna upon an ornate, cushioned seat; then began to silently meditate. Suddenly, there was a loud knock at the door.

“Open the door!”

Srivas, startled, asked who was there.

The voice said, “He with whom you are trying to communicate!”

Srivas, though cross at this blasphemy, opened the door. An illuminated being glided into the temple!

The glowing figure and Srivas stared at one another. Srivas was stunned. He saw a human form enveloped in a dense aura of dazzling light, or rather, a light that should have dazzled, yet did not. He clearly recognized the person before him as Nimai, the son of Saci.

Lord Gauranga smiled and said, “Srivas, you see I am here,” and he sat upon the cushioned seat—the dais of the Supreme Deity.

Srivas stood speechless. For he had no doubt, whatsoever, that the illuminated being before him was God Almighty. It was not only the effulgence emanating from Nimai that convinced him, but also his own soul, which had been enlivened by this wondrous revelation. He was overwhelmed—fully blessed. His highest desire had now been realized. He had nothing left to wish for…cared not if he lived or died. Revelation after revelation flashed through his mind with lightening speed.

He then went absolutely blank—forgot everything. When he partially recovered, the first idea that struck him was to ascertain whether he was dreaming, or awake? “No doubt this is all a dream,” thought he. “Yet, how can that be? For I seem quite conscious of being wide awake. Yes, I’m awake, but who am I? Am I Srivas? And who is Srivas? Am I, then, most fortunate Srivas, at length face to face with my maker. . .God? But is there really a God?”

Srivas found his reason tossed about like a rudderless boat upon the Ganges during a hurricane. He was totally lost. His comfortable, mundane rug was pulled out from under him.

“Is there a God?” thought he befuddled. “Yes, there is a God; there cannot be any doubt about that, ” he assured himself. “But is it possible that he, the creator of our universe, should come among us—the crawling creatures of this earth? Why should he bother? What does he care whether we suffer or not? What are we—worthless wretches—to him?

When the light and high vibration of the Lord were upon Srivas, the doubting shadow-self, from behind the subliminal veil of delusion, manifested.

Nimai was before Srivas, gazing at him tenderly. There was no mistaking that Nimai was an exalted being, and that he was seated before Srivas, ready to be of service!

Finally, a flood of adoration gushed through Srivas’s heart, he felt that he was about to faint; he heaved a breath and succeeded in keeping himself from falling. It would not do to fall in a fainting fit when the Almighty was sitting before him. Moreover, the compassionate mood of Nimai helped Srivas resist his light-headedness.

“I’m the luckiest man in the world, the goal of my life is at last accomplished,” thought he. The serpent of pride, lurking in the valley of worldly desire suddenly got the better of him, as he wondered what blessing to extort from the Almighty. In that dark moment, he tried to think of the particular favour, which would suit him; yet failed, despite his utmost efforts to select one. Every boon—even the sovereignty of the world—in the clarifying light of the Lord, was found to be a mixed blessing…no blessing at all!

Srivas, who was a saint, and who had trained himself, all the days of his life, to conquer mundane self-interest, felt ashamed, and therefore brought these temptations under control. Next he tried to welcome the Lord, but language failed him.

Of course, the Lord knew, very well, Srivas’s mind; that it would be impossible for him to speak, or even bear his awesome presence much longer. So he diverted his attention, “Srivas! Fetch water and bathe me.”

Srivas was relieved. He left the temple and shouted for help. His voice quavered with urgency, causing all three brothers, the ladies of the house, and all the servants to hurry to his aid. He told them that God Almighty had come, and water must be brought from the river to bathe him!

His brothers unquestioningly did as he bid, for they knew from his voice, and appearance, that he had never been more serious in his life. They all firmly believed that God was destined to appear, and were fully expecting a wonderful manifestation. They therefore obediently hastened to the Ganges, and purchased new earthen jars along the way to fetch the water.

Hundreds of bhaktas quickly amassed outside the temple, not venturing to enter. Yet, despite the intense mid-day sun, they could see powerful rays of light shining through every nook and cranny in the building. When everything was ready, Gauranga issued from the temple to bathe.

When the Lord appeared, he was seen to be enveloped In an aura woven of lightning, a million times condensed, So astonishingly bright, it dimmed the sun. (Caitanya-caritamrta)

The Lord seated himself upon a large wooden chair in the open air, and water was poured upon his head; as it trickled to the ground it shimmered and glistened with a magical, golden luminosity. The body of the Lord was then rubbed with white muslin; the damp cloth took on a golden glow and sparkled with tiny glittering specks of light!

The Lord re-entered the temple, where he again sat upon the Supreme Deity’s cushioned seat. Suddenly the bhaktas heard the enchanting sound of a flute from within. The music seemed to fill the whole universe. The hair on their heads and bodies stood on end, and tears rolled down their cheeks. The jubilant sound of the flute, like its beautiful, blue musician, was a symphony of joy!

The Lord then commanded Srivas to escort him to his chamber. Thereupon Srivas had the cushioned chair moved to his bedroom. A canopy was hastily erected above the chair, and a sheet, soft and white as “the froth of milk,” placed upon it. Screens were hung over the doors and windows as shades from sun and heat.

As the Lord proceeded from the temple to the bedroom, flashes of lightning seemed to play around him. When he entered Srivas’s room it was instantly illuminated. He then sat upon the cushioned chair. His human body was gone. He was then only a being of intense light. That light, though brighter than the mid-day sun, was quite serene and agreeable to behold.

Gadadhar adorned him with delicate, flower garlands. Ornaments of flowers were placed on and around him. His hair was tied into a fanciful knot (chura), which was encircled with another wreath of colourful flowers. His glowing body was then anointed with chandon (sandal paste), camphor and flower dust. Then he was fanned by Narihari, to repel the insects attracted by the sweet scent.

His favoured mortals tried to give him a welcome befitting his exalted position. Not having any gold, or diamonds, they presented him with flowers. Those who wanted to speak found speech impossible, and burst into tears. The Lord accepted everything that was done to serve him, and graciously expressed his gratitude with gestures and smiles.

At length, the Golden Avatar, Gauranga spoke in a voice full, sweet, and more melodious than music. “You, of course, know who I am. I am he who sits in the heart of each one and every of you. I have revealed myself to assure you that there is nothing to fear from the King of Gaur. I am inaugurating this Golden Age not to punish sinners, but to reclaim them. I wish to teach my children—by example—how to attain me through devotional love. I will personally pass through all the stages of devotion along the spiritual path. I come to begin an age where my children can learn, by my words, actions, and deeds how to reach me.

“If the Muslim sovereign should be persuaded to mistreat you, I shall simply soften his heart. Punishment is not my work in this New Golden Age. Let me show you how I shall touch the heart of the Muslim King.” The Lord then beckoned to Narayani, a little girl of four years, and a niece of Srivas. She stepped forward. “Narayani,” he said, “be inspired with bhakti for Krsna.”

Narayani burst into tears, “Oh my Krsna! Oh my Krsna!” and begun to express her devotion as only an ardent devotee can.

The Lord smiled and said, “That’s how I will handle the king if he should resort to force against my bhaktas.”

Srivas stammered, “Fear of the king is not a concern now thou hast appeared.”

In the light of such a high vibration everyone present was utterly befuddled. They had no idea where they were, or what they were doing. From time to time they thought it was all a fantastic dream.

While the Lord addressed Srivas, Gadadhar quietly remembered Advaita’s words, “You will soon appreciate what sort of being your dear friend is.”

Srivas’s wife, Malinee, and his three brothers’ wives, appeared at the door. The Lord was seated upon the sacred dais, illuminating the room with his beatific light. A screen hung before the doorway. Three of the four ladies, who wanted to enter, were quite young and had never appeared before Nimai with unveiled faces. Addressing Srivas’s youngest brother, Sri Kanta, they implored, “Can we please go in and meet him? It’s not fair that we should be excluded simply because we’re women?”

The Lord, hearing their appeal replied, “Certainly they may come in and see me.”

The ladies, fluttering with enthusiasm, entered the room, and saw through half-lifted veils the glowing, serene countenance of the Lord. Their hearts became saturated with love as they knelt before him. The Lord gently touched their heads with his lotus feet, and blessed them: “May your hearts abide in me.”

Shortly thereafter, the Lord concluded, “I am going now. I shall soon return.” Then uttering a loud cry, he fainted, and his glowing aura vanished. Everyone was alarmed, and carefully assisted him. He exhibited no signs of life. His condition frightened them. He was not breathing. He seemed to be dead! Presently, their apprehension gave way to relief, as he began to stir.

“Is not this your house, pandit?” asked Nimai addressing Srivas. “Yes, of course, it is your house, but how did I come to be here?” After a little reflection he continued. “I feel as if I’ve been dreaming. Did I rave?”

They explained that he had fainted, yet had not raved at all.

He slowly and unassumingly rose.

When Nimai was nine years old, at his sacred thread ceremony, Gauranga had addressed his mother, “I’m going now. I shall return.” He did return, and addressed Srivas similarly.

All those who beheld these manifestations felt discombobulated. They had never witnessed anything like it—not even in their most fanciful dreams.

Next morning Nimai was his usual self—a reticent and amiable bhakta. That very Nimai who, the day before, had touched the heads of the young ladies with his feet, saying, “May your hearts abide in me,” was now praying, most humbly, with tear filled eyes, “Oh merciful Krsna! Deliver me from all worldly desires, and draw me towards your lotus feet.” Yet, the conviction of Srivas, and his group, was unshakable. Believing that the Lord had appeared, they saw only joy in the world.

Murari, one of the chroniclers of the Lord’s early life, was next to be blessed. Gauranga revealed himself to him in the privacy of his own home. And, in this manner, he appeared to a good many of his bhaktas.

Thus the Lord taught humanity. During his infancy he was a restless child fond of play. In his youth he was a student, and developed his physical and intellectual prowess. In this third stage, we see him cultivating bhakti to show humanity how a relationship with the Lord can be developed. Next, he exemplified how the fruit of transcendental devotion was the attainment of Krsna-prem: A loving personal relationship with a loving personal God.

When Nimai manifested himself as Sri Gauranga, he always spoke in the first person, and naturally comported himself as one who had no equal in the universe. At all other times he was the meekest of the meek, the humblest of the humble. He would with tears in his eyes, and with a sorrowful countenance, which greatly moved the hearts of all those who beheld him, beseech every aspiring devotee he met, to give him a drop—just one drop—of bhakti for Krsna.

In his mundane persona he was mild-mannered and good-natured—a gentle companion. If anyone then showed him excessive regard, it appeared to trouble him. Soon none ventured to treat him as anything other than an ordinary man. In this mortal state, he seemed to retain little of what he had said or done as Sri Gauranga. Indeed, Nimai the Golden Avatar, and Nimai the bhakta were two very distinct personalities. He recognized that he had fainting fits, yet appeared to remember very little of what he said, or did, in his altered state. After every awesome manifestation as Lord Gauranga he would fall down, apparently dead, and upon recovering became again a humble man. He would then address his companions thus: “My friends, did I rave? I know you all love me dearly, so I ask you always to care for me. See that I do not speak presumptuously or disrespectfully of my Lord, Sri Krsna.”

Ch. 11

Nityananda came to Nabadwip in June, one month after Nimai had revealed himself as Lord Gauranga. Born in the village of Ekchaka, in the district of Beerbhoom, Nitai relinquished the world when only twelve years old. An ascetic stayed as a guest in his home, and begged to take him from his parents. His wish was granted, and Nitai became the companion of that mendicant.

Nityananda traveled for twenty years, visiting numerous places of pilgrimage, and eventually sojourned to Vrndavan, which was then covered with jungle. There he went in search of Sri Krsna, and instead found Iswar Puri (who initiated Nimai at Gaya). “Sri Krsna is not here,” Iswar told him. “He has been born of mother Saci, at Nabadwip, under the name of Nimai Pandit. If you are seeking Sri Krsna, go to Nadia.”

Nityananda thereupon hastened to Nadia, where he became the honoured guest of Sri Nandan Acarya.

A few days before his arrival, Nimai told his followers that a great being was approaching. Upon the very morning Nitai reached Nadia, Nimai said to his companions, “Go and find him. I believe him to be the incarnation of Balaram (Krsna’s Brother).”

Nimai had hardly finished speaking when he passed out. “Fetch me liquor,” he suddenly blurted, in the voice of Nityananda, with bloodshot eyes.

Srivas insightfully replied, “The intoxicant you want is already within you.”

Nimai quickly recovered and said, “I’m eager to meet him.”

Whereupon Murari, Srivas, Mukunda, and Narain, scoured the four quarters of Nadia to find Nitai, but to no avail. In the afternoon they despondently returned to Nabadwip.

The Lord smiled reassuringly and said, “Let us all go in search of him.”

He then proceeded directly to the house of Nandan Acarya. There they were all introduced to a holy man of dark complexion, lotus-eyed, of about thirty-two years of age.

Nimai and Nitai gazed at one another with the familiarity of old friends. They spoke not a word, yet Nitai was fading before them. Gauranga was captivating and totally possessing him. Nitai immediately and willingly became his creature. He was then taken to the house of Srivas. There Nimai sat upon the sacred dais in the temple, and revealed himself to Nitai.

Nitai, who had been in search of Sri Krsna for twenty years, was then satisfied in a wondrous and spectacular way; for Gauranga transformed himself into a six-armed being (Sad-Bhuja), two hands were carrying a bow and arrows, another pair of hands were engaged in playing a flute, and two were holding the danda (staff) and kamandalu (wooden cup) of a mendicant. By this manifestation, the Lord made it known to Nitai that he was Ram (the Avatar who incarnated as a warrior king), that he was Krsna, and that he was the one for whom he had been searching. As soon as Nitai saw the six-armed manifestation, he fainted, and he remained in an altered state of consciousness for several days.

Having adopted an ascetic’s life at the age of twelve, Nitai wandered in search of Krsna. For a time he resided in Vrndavan; yet, could not discover that being whose essence is love. At Nabadwip he met with him who was the wealth of his soul, and the end of his search.

His ananda (joy) was nitya (constant) and so he was called Nityananda. He is Balaram the Avatar—whose description (from Srimad-Bhagavat) he embodied in every way. His strong feelings of bhakti (devotion) and prem (love) for Krsna not only affected him, but also all those who came in contact with him. (Nimai-carit)

As Nitai fainted at seeing Sad-bhuja, the six-armed Deity, the Lord touched him and said: “Rise! All your wishes have been fulfilled. You shall be a fountain of prem and bhakti; distribute them to your heart’s content. If any refuse to accept your blessings, implore them.”

Nitai’s only desire was the salvation of humanity! And thus, young Nimai and Nitai, like two brothers, stood hand in hand, as do Krsna and Balaram.

The next day Nimai took Nityananda to his home. “Mother, here is your other son.” said Nimai affectionately to Saci. “He is my elder brother—know him, henceforth, as Visvarup.”

Saci looked at Nitai, the spirit of her eldest son, Visvarup, seemed present in him. “Is this my Visvarup, my lost wealth?” she wondered. Then addressed Nityananda, “Child! Nimai says you are my Visvarup. Is it so? Come, child, come.” She smelled his head, and wept with joy. She then whispered to Nitai, “Hitherto my thoughtless Nimai has been alone, now he has you. Protect him child—take care of your younger brother. I shall no longer worry about him.”

A mother’s love for Nitai did she feel, Her voice was choked, she melted into tears, Affection warmed her heart, as she beheld Her sons before her, and sorrow she had none. (Caitanya-mangal)

Ch. 12

One morning Lord Gauranga instructed Sri Ram, the youngest brother of Srivas, thus: “Ramai, go to Santipur and tell Advaita that I am He for whom he has been weeping, fasting, and depriving himself of life’s comforts; whom he has ever hoped to draw to this earth by his ardent devotion. Tell him that I am here in response to his prayers, and that he, with his wife, should now appear before me.”

Advaita had left Nadia in a huff. He had foolishly paid homage to the young son of Jagannath Misra, before a witness, and he had fled to Santipur to avoid the shame. He was therefore not in the least disposed to accept Nimai as an incarnation of God. Besides, he was a laborious student, a deep thinker, a dutiful devotee, and was not one to be easily influenced by a so-called miracle. His austerities, and his piety, had created for him a great name throughout Bengal. Upon his recommendation, a sovereign prince had renounced society, and was at his beck and call. Many looked to him for guidance, for he—as head of the Vaisnavas—was regarded as a divinity, or, at least a saint of the highest order. Thus he had a reputation to maintain.

Ramai, having already seen the glowing revelation of Gauranga a number of times, was now constantly under the influence of an unearthly joy. He was carrying a divine message. He had no thought, whatsoever, of the possible failure of his mission, much less that there was a chance of Advaita deeming him a mad man. Upon his arrival, he stood before Advaita speechless, and every movement of his limbs displayed the delight that filled and thrilled his heart.

The knowledge that Nimai Pandit had revealed himself as the Golden Avatar, had spread throughout Bengal with the velocity of wild fire. Of course, Advaita had heard it—with marked incredulity. He had also heard that Nimai Pandit was manifesting these wonders, principally at the house of Srivas. Ramai was the brother of Srivas. Advaita saw that the person before him, Ramai, was not in his right mind, and actually suspected that he had come with a message from their so-called god to fetch him.

Seeing that Ramai could not utter a word, Advaita broke the silence, “What is it? Have you come to take me to your god? And do you dare to insinuate that I, Advaita Acarya, should join in your antics?

“So, the youngster whom I saw, just the other day, almost naked in the streets, has finally become God Almighty Himself! God does not come upon this earth often. And pray, in what sacred book is it predicted, Ramai, that God would appear in human form, before us mortals, in this dark Iron Age of Kali?”

The rude address of Advaita had no affect upon Ramai. He was “immersed in an ocean of happiness,” for was he not bearing a message from Lord Gauranga? So, Advaita’s barbs could not reach his heart. He said, “I have nothing to do with your remarks, nor do I know much of your sastras (scriptures). Just listen to his message. He says that he has come, in response to your prayers, to alleviate the miseries of humanity, by teaching them how to attain him by bhakti and prem, and he invites you, and your wife, to appear before him with all convenient rapidity.”

Advaita would have interrupted Ramai, yet found that he had suddenly become powerless to do so. Lord Gauranga had conveyed something through that message, which Advaita, despite his lofty position, could not resist. He struggled to dispel this influence but could not, and burst into tears!

Those tears washed away all his disbelief, and life-long opinions founded upon worldly knowledge and reason. He muttered to himself, “Has he come? Has he really come? So he has listened to my prayers at last! Why shouldn’t he? Is he not merciful? As for the sastras, is he not above them? The Lord says that it is I who has drawn him down. Here he pays me a compliment. I, an insignificant insect, to bring Almighty God down? It was his wish to come down, and now he throws the whole responsibility upon my shoulders! Is it not so, Ramai?” And he chuckled in fits of laughter.

He loudly called out to his wife, Sita, telling her in a very matter of fact way, that the Lord had arrived, and added, “He has commanded us to appear before him, at once, my dear. So let us make haste.” Saying this Advaita began to clap his hands with delight, exclaiming repeatedly, “I have brought him!” “I have brought him!” Shortly thereafter, Advaita, his wife, and Ramai, boarded a boat and were rowed towards Srivas’s place.

The influence, which had held Advaita spellbound, began slowly relaxing its grip upon him; in fact, he found himself almost free from it as they disembarked at Nabadwip. That being the case, he suddenly felt foolish. “Can it be true that Nimai is God Almighty?” doubted Advaita. “Please do one thing for me, Ramai. Promise that you will not mention that I am coming to him, rather, go ahead and tell him that I refused the invitation.”

Before going on ahead, Ramai guilelessly assured Advaita as to the identity of Nimai. Advaita concluded that he would believe Jagannath’s son to be God Almighty, when he ventured to put his foot upon his head.

At that moment a bhakta approached Advaita and said that the Lord was expecting him! Advaita saw that Nimai already knew of his pending visit, which he could not possibly have done in an ordinary way, for Ramai had only just left. This fact, insignificant though it was, revived his faith a little, “Where was he going? To the Almighty Lord!” This thought overwhelmed him. He tried to think if it were possible. “Could it really be, that my Lord God has called me unto him?” He tried to realize what that meant. The closer he got to Srivas’s house, the firmer his faith became; yet, he knew not why. Today, possibly, he was to attain the highest goal of his life. Today, perhaps, his prayers were to be answered; for today he was going to behold the Great Lord of the Universe! His heart began to flutter. He tried to deliberate upon what he would say and do in the Lord’s presence, but failed.

At last, he entered Srivas’s yard, and with some difficulty stepped up to the verandah—for he trembled so acutely that his wife and others had to assist him. Finally, he and Sita entered the room where the Lord was seated and bowed to him. Advaita tried to assimilate the scene before him; yet, he saw neither the room of Srivas, nor Nimai. What he did see was:

A form brighter than a thousand moons, And fairer far than a thousand cupids; The Lord, and his worshippers,

 And everything, wrapped in light.
 (Caitanya-bhagavat)

Light emanated not only from the body of the Lord, but also from his attendants, and from all the inanimate objects in the room—beds, chairs, utensils, and so forth.

Advaita then beheld innumerable celestial beings in different attitudes of devotion, offering prayers unto Gauranga.

The great angels knelt around the Lord, Filling all space on earth and in the air. (Caitanya-bhagavat)

He saw countless beings, incomparably higher than mere mortals, devoutly worshipping the Father of the Universe, each in his or her own way. He beheld the whole universe engaged in glorifying that mighty and wondrous being who had created everything out of himself!

Advaita and Sita were transported beyond their wildest imaginings. At first they bowed and stood before him. Advaita saw that God was an even greater being than anything he could ever have expected. “What was the good,” thought he, “of bowing before him?” He would take no notice of his salutation—the salutation of an insignificant speck. Millions of gods were bowing to him through all eternity. His existence was unimportant, and could not possibly attract the Lord’s attention. To bow, or not to bow, it was all the same. Realization after realization passed through him in quantum leaps.

Advaita perceived the greatness of God to be manifested before him, for he had wished to see it. He had doubted how Nimai, whom he had seen running down the street almost naked—‘just the other day’—could be the Almighty Lord, and had decided to only accept him as such, if he could display infinite power; he was, therefore, given a partial manifestation of that Omnipotence.

Advaita then understood that the Lord, in his greatness, was beyond human conception, and was quite unattainable. He therefore ceased to bow. Despair seized him, and the fear and awe that he experienced in the presence of an Omnipotent Being made him tremble from head to toe, like a plantain leaf under the influence of a hurricane.

The Lord, seeing the pitiable condition in which his invited guest, Advaita, was placed, withdrew his infinite greatness in a flash, and assumed the soothing form of a beautiful young man with beatific rays of light beaming from him. As Lord Gauranga he serenely smiled and beckoned Advaita to approach. Advaita greeted him while still trembling. Then the Lord said unto him: “Advaita Acarya, pained to see the misery of humanity, you practiced austerities for their salvation. By the depth of your appeal, I am here on earth. Henceforth distribute prem and bhakti to your heart’s content.”

When the Lord thus reassumed the form of a man, and sweetly addressed Advaita, devotional feelings rushed to warm his heart.

“Who will listen to, or believe, me,” Advaita boldly stammered, “if I proclaim the Lord has come to earth to save humanity attracted by my devotion? Who can bring thee down to this earth, unless it is thy will? All humanity are thy children. Who can feel for their misery as thou dost? Thou hast come of thine own accord. I am meaner than the meanest. How could I bring thee here? Yet, thy advent for the salvation of humanity has enabled us to see thee. If thou wilt permit us, we shall worship thee to attain the goal of life.”

Advaita seated himself at the Lord’s feet and washed them with holy Ganges water, scented them, and laid fresh flowers upon them. As a lover of formalities, he could not resist the desire of worshipping the Lord as prescribed in the sastras.

“Advaita,” Gauranga said, “I’m willing to give thee a bar (boon). Ask whatever thou wilt.”

At that moment, Advaita believed that God Almighty was before him, and had not the slightest doubt that he would get whatever he desired—even the sovereignty of the demi-gods. Yet, he had been taught, all his life, to recognize that there was no happiness in sovereignty, that it was beset with sorrows and responsibilities. The presence of Sri Gauranga had elevated his soul; he felt kindly towards every living creature. His heart then yearned, not for sovereignty, but for service; not to enjoy, but to make others happy; not to keep the Lord all to himself, but to enable his less favoured brethren to share in him.

“If thou wouldst give me a bar, let prem and bhakti (love and devotion) be distributed to all, irrespective of creed, position, or merit. My sweet Lord, let the meanest of thy creatures be thus blessed.”

When Advaita asked for this bar, all the bhaktas shouted, “Joy!” “Joy to the child of Saci!” “Joy to Advaita, the friend of the humble, the sinner, and the ignorant.”

The Lord was pleased. “The bar that thou hast asked of me is worthy of thee, my Advaita. It is such unconditional love that wins my heart completely. Your wish is granted. The greatest of sinners shall, by your favour, be filled with prem and bhakti and purged of all iniquities.”

Sri Advaita returned to Santipur a thorough believer. Yet doubts soon began to assail his rational mind. That Nimai was possessed of supernatural powers he freely admitted. But such powers were, he believed, sometimes acquired by men who were thereby enabled to enthrall their fellows. Was Nimai only a man possessed of supernatural powers, or was he what he professed to be? He must, decided Advaita, be subjected to another crucial test—he must be taken unawares.

He set out early one morning—without warning—for Nabadwip, determined to remove all doubts, once and for all.

Sri Krsna has a dark complexion, while Nimai is the fairest of the fair. Advaita had learned that Nityananda had seen the Lord take the form of Sri Krsna; he believed that if the Lord could only show himself in that form, his doubts would be completely allayed. For he was certain, that no being, except Sri Krsna, would be able to assume his own youthful form. Even if any miracle-worker had the power of assuming the appearance of Sri Krsna, that act would be a sacrilege, which he believed the Supreme Deity would never permit.

Advaita, not finding the Lord at his own home, went to Srivas’s, and there found him engaged in conversation with his bhaktas. Seeing Advaita everyone, including Nimai, stood up to greet him. Nimai then said, “Now that Sitapati is here, we shall no longer be haunted by the fear of death.”

(Sitapati means ‘the husband of Sita,’ who, in the scriptures, is Siva—a previous incarnation of Advaita.)

Advaita took the remark as a compliment, and made a suitable reply, whereupon Nimai said, “I was very much aggrieved at your sudden departure for Santipur.”

In the course of the amiable conversation that followed, Advaita whispered something to Srivas. Thereupon Nimai asked, “May I know what you said?”

Srivas replied, “Advaita regrets that you did not appear before him in the form of Sri Krsna, as revealed to Nityananda.”

“This is my real form, and the only one that is agreeable to Advaita,” jested Nimai.

Advaita was confounded, for if he admitted that the present form of Nimai was dear to him, he could not press him to assume another form, namely, that of Sri Krsna. He therefore remained silent. Srivas, however, came to his aid and said, “Lord, your form as Gauranga is lovelier than any other, but Advaita is sorry because you promised to show yourself to him in the form of Sri Krsna, which you have not, as yet, done!”

Nimai, blushed and hung his head. He then said, “It appears I must have made that extravagant statement, as it is attributed to me. This much I know, I suffer from fainting spells, and then sometimes enter into an altered state. It is quite possible that on such occasions I rave like a mad man. In one of those fits, dear Advaita, it seems I promised the impossible. But is it just and generous to take advantage of what I may have promised in a state of frenzy, and press me for its fulfillment?”

“But you did show yourself in the form of Sri Krsna to Nityananda,” persisted Srivas.

“Did I? If that be the case, I cannot tell you how it came about. I’m utterly helpless at such times, and if anything wonderful happens, I have no knowledge of how it comes to pass. I assure you, I have no control over these extraordinary events. If they happen at all, they come and go of their own accord.”

“You say that you have your normal state, and your state of frenzy. Yet, at the risk of sounding immodest, the state that you call frenzied, is your natural state, and that which you call your natural state is only an act.” claimed Srivas.

“A glimpse of God can only be seen by the earnest bhakta in meditation,” said Nimai. “If the Acarya is desirous of seeing that form, let him sit in meditation with closed eyes, and perhaps Sri Krsna, who is merciful, may appear within him.”

Advaita, partly out of curiosity, and partly inspired by hope, closed his eyes in meditation. In an instant, he was thrown into a trance—even his breath was suspended. He seemed lifeless. The bhaktas became alarmed. Presently his hair stood on end.

Srivas asked Nimai why Advaita was so drastically changed.

Nimai replied, “Perhaps he has been blessed with the sight of Krsna, within his heart, and these external manifestations are due to that fact.”

Srivas said, “Lord, you would not appear before us as Sri Krsna, although you’ve now covertly revealed yourself in that form to Advaita. Yet, we are not envious, for it is enough that we see you as you are.” He then asked the Lord to bring Advaita to his senses.

“How can I, a humble individual,” replied Nimai, “interfere with the work of Sri Krsna, and restore him to consciousness? Wait, and he will, no doubt, come to his senses without any assistance from me.”

Shortly thereafter, Advaita awoke from his trance. Then, like one roused from a sleep, he looked vacantly around him—it appeared as if he had just lost something. He then said, “Where is the beautiful, dark hued figure that regaled my sight? His eyes twinkled with love, and his whole body glowed. Where is the delight of my heart?”

 “Tell us more.” Srivas urged.”

Advaita, having now fully recovered, replied, “It’s all his doing,” pointing to Nimai. “As soon as I closed my eyes, he entered into my heart, and showed himself to me in the form of Sri Krsna, and afterwards issued from there as you see him now.”

Nimai said, “You fell asleep and dreamt, and now you blame the whole thing onto me!”

Advaita said, “Was it a dream? I plainly saw you enter my heart. Cast not a veil of delusion upon me please—you are He whom I worship.”

Again Nimai blushed and endeavoured to treat the whole matter as a joke.

Though Advaita thus beheld Sri Krsna, whom he loved, he was soon to be pestered by fresh doubts as to the divinity of Gauranga. Faith does not depend upon our will. Ocular proof is not enough. To the scientific, reductionist mind one successful test merely suggests another. Advaita’s tests were met, yet they had no lasting affect upon him. For miracles never produce a permanent impression upon a closed mind. Faith is the result of a particular state of receptivity, which some attain to with ease, and others only after repeated failures. Ultimately, the doubts felt by Advaita were all part of the great plan. The Lord showed that he was not always accepted lightly, and that the most skeptical, intellectual and analytical of people, would, after repeated tests—if he so wished—believe in him.

Ch.13

As a rule, worldliness is like a beautifully iced cake, which has become rotten inside. There are of course always exceptions, as Pundarik, the great saint of Chittagong, exemplifies. He was a wealthy man with a large following, who lived comfortably, yet his heart was always with Krsna, and worldliness had not the slightest influence over him. He and Ramananda (more of whom later) prove that a man can live in the lap of luxury and keep his bhakti intact, for he visited Nadia and unconditionally surrendered to Lord Gauranga. It was in this manner that the Heart-master attracted, one by one, the greatest bhaktas that flourished at that time.

The saintly chroniclers, who have for the sake of humanity, left an account of Lord Gauranga’s lila, boldly declare that an entourage of bhaktas came down to earth to help accomplish his mission. It is evident, that the bhaktas who followed the Lord, were men such as the world had never known. Each of them could be likened to a sun, illuminating the environment in which he lived. Each of them has a wonderful lila of his and her own.

One such luminary was Haridas. He came to the Lord when he was, like Advaita, his spiritual preceptor, an elderly man, and already one of the foremost saints of his time. He was an inhabitant of Buran, a place now included in the Bongong subdivision of Jessore. He was a Muslim; yet he became a follower of Sri Krsna, and won fame by his unwavering devotion.

His principal religious practice consisted of chanting aloud the name of “Hari,” day and night. Firm as a rock was his faith, and he believed that anyone who took, or even heard, the name of “Hari” would be saved. Even animals, he believed, would be delivered, if the sound of “Hari” entered their ears. For this reason he always chanted the name aloud. He built his hut in the Benapole jungles, near the present railway station of Bongong. His austere devotion became well known in that vicinity. The rich Zeminder of that province, doubting his sincerity, employed a prostitute to see if he could be seduced. She approached him, and was so touched by his purity, she became his disciple. Shortly thereafter, Haridas left her to occupy his hut, where she led a life of asceticism and chastity.

The Muslim Kazi brought to the attention of the Mohammedan ruler, that Haridas, though a Muslim, had forsaken his religion and was thus an “infidel.” The Governor had Haridas arrested and brought before him. Yet the firm faith displayed by Haridas softened the Governor’s heart, but his chief officer, Gorai—a bigoted Muslim—pressed him to punish the saint. He argued that if such disloyalty were not dealt with harshly, the spectacle of a Muslim adopting the Hindu religion, with impunity, would set a bad precedent, and not only humiliate the whole Muslim community, but also be an insult to Mohammed. The Governor, therefore, found himself compelled to pass the sentence of death upon poor Haridas.

The object of the punishment was not to kill Haridas, but to make him recant. It was presumed that the apprehension of death would be sufficient for this purpose. It was therefore decided that he should be threatened with some form of cruel and slow torture.

Thus his captors arranged for him to be taken to a marketplace, and there mercilessly flogged. Then he was to be taken to another marketplace and scourged again. From there he was to be taken to another, and so on. In this manner he was to be punished in each of the town’s twenty-two marketplaces, until he finally died.

Gorai triumphantly addressed Haridas: “You see what’s in store for you if you persist in defying our authority. If you don’t repudiate this Hindu faith after the first lashing, or the second, you will surely do so after the third, or at most the fourth. Either you agree to read the Kalma (Confession of Faith) or you reap the consequences. Would it not be better for you to yield here and now? If you return to the fold, you shall be provided with a good appointment under the Government.”

Hairdas was the gentlest creature on earth; however, when he was both coerced and threatened, he lost all patience and resolutely declared:

Were I hacked to pieces, body and soul, I would not give up the sacred name of Hari. (Caitanya-bhagavat)

The firm resolve of Haridas highly offended the authorities. According to them, a renegade was an enemy of Mohammed. And, perhaps, more importantly, he challenged their despotic power. Thus, Haridas was taken to a marketplace to be flogged.

Haridas did not flinch at the threat of such a harsh punishment; he saw it as a test of faith. . .an opportunity to serve humanity. Like Advaita, gentle Haridas had also prayed for the fallen souls within this dark age of Kali. He had prayed for the cruelest of God’s creatures, even insects! He would not even swat a mosquito—while it sucked his blood. He felt compassion for all those involved in his punishment, for he knew the divine retribution of their karma would be great.

Upon arriving at the first marketplace Haridas continued chanting the name of “Hari” loudly, as was his wont. His adjudicators were there to make sure that he was flogged with severity.

“Recant or the scourge falls upon your back.” said his judges. Haridas continued repeating the name of Hari. The merciless whip slapped across his back. Haridas did not cry out, or even cringe; he simply persisted in chanting the holy name (Harinam). Again, another lash cracked across his back! Haridas continued chanting with no visible sign of pain!

Men have oftentimes sacrifice themselves for God. Yet, the suffering of martyrdom is absolutely impossible. God protects a man who is truly willing to die in his name. If suffering martyrs are found, it is because these so-called advocates of God have sacrificed themselves not for the Lord, but in order to indulge in their own delusion, vanity or pride. God sees men’s hearts, and when he sees a sincere devotee sacrificing himself for his sake, he assists him in his own inscrutable way.

“Hari!” said Haridas loudly, as another lash cracked across his back. A large crowd had gathered; they shuddered, Hindus and Muslim alike. Before them a sadhu, a servant of God, was being mercilessly whipped like a wild dog for holding to his faith. “God will not stand for this.” winced one; “There will be an earthquake,” proclaimed another, “Allah’s vengeance will be upon us.”

Haridas was suffering for his Hari, and this realization imparted a celestial joy to his being. He was absolutely transcendent of his own pain. Everyone saw it, felt it, and therefore burst into tears.

Haridas knew that his persecutors would be punished infinitely more severely than they were punishing him; so, in his simplicity, he tried to convince them of their recklessness. “Refrain gentlemen—why do you treat me so cruelly? Whether Hindu or Muslim, it is foolish to harm any living being, and much worse to inflict pain upon a person who has done you no wrong. Hari be my witness, I do not urge this because your lashes pain me, but because I know, by your mindless brutality, you bring untold misery upon yourselves.”

His torturers—though some were moved—had little choice; they had to carry out the order, or undergo the same punishment themselves. Thus Haridas opened his heart to God, “My Lord! My Lord! O fountain of mercy, take pity upon these poor men! They are ignorant and know not the enormity of their karma.” The depth of his faith evoked the Lord within his heart, and he entered into an ecstatic trance. This spoken prayer astonished the crowd. Was Haridas serious? Had he gone mad? When they heard the holy man, being flogged to death, fervently praying for his persecutors, they all began to behave outlandishly. Some danced. Some wept. Some offered to be whipped instead of the saint, and some cursed his tormentors. His henchmen, taking advantage of his trance, declared him dead, and threw him into the Ganges. The plunge revived Haridas. Upon emerging onto the riverbank, the crowd surrounded him, craving his blessing. The Kazi, then understanding that Haridas was, indeed, a saint, came and fell at his feet begging to be forgiven.

Haridas, one of the greatest bhaktas of his time, found himself floating in an “ocean of love,” which had issued from the Golden brahmana of twenty-three. As mighty streams feed the mightier Ganges, and this river, with its innumerable tributaries, at last joins the sea; so Haridas, found himself irresistibly drawn to the young pandit of Nadia—who, five months earlier, was a schoolteacher who had not yet begun his spiritual crusade. Ch. 14 The moods of the multi-faceted, mild-mannered, Nimai Gaura-Hari, swung like a pendulum. Sometimes he was in union with the Supreme Deity. Sometimes he was separated from him. Sometimes he was God Himself. And, sometimes he was just Nimai—a quiet man, simple as a child, affectionate as a mother, obliging as a devoted servant; the most considerate fellow one could ever hope to meet, with a very high opinion of others, and a very low one of himself. He loved pleasantries, and his smiles were likened to the rays of the full moon. And, sometimes there was yet another state, in which he channeled personalities like Akroor from the Krsna-lila. He was now almost continuously, day and night, transcendentally situated. When Sri Krsna was not with him, he was like one who had suffered a severe bereavement. Heartbroken, until Krsna reappeared with his life-giving presence. The agony of his heart is shown by frequent fits, one often succeeding the other. When he fell down he lost all vital signs, his breath and the beating of his heart were suspended, and his jaw locked. Here is a description of Nimai talking in ‘the mood of separation’ from one of his bhaktas: “My friend, I fear I am dying. You counsel me to be patient. I try my utmost, but my heart does not obey! Will you be able to save my life? Let me go to my Krsna. Why do you detain me? Let me go, or I shall die!” Nimai then attempted to go to his dear one, and fell down in a deathlike swoon! Here is a description of Nimai in ‘the mood of union’ from one of his bhaktas: My beautiful Nimai had dressed himself in exquisite taste to meet his darling Krsna. Tears of joy roll from his lotus eyes, making the earth muddy. Joy overflows his heart and he dances, making the whole universe dance with him. He declares: “My beloved is here,” and falls down in an ecstatic trance. In the midst of such ecstatic states Lord Gauranga occasionally manifested himself. Sometimes he remained as the Lord for hours, sometimes for only minutes, and sometimes he would appear fleetingly in the midst of a conversation, utter a few words, and disappear. One day Murari was having a talk with Nimai, when suddenly his presence became grave, his tone commanding, and his body emitted the light that preceded the Lord revealing himself. He then said: “The sannyasi of Benares, Prakasananda, is teaching dangerous doctrines. I shall teach him a necessary lesson.” Prakasananda, the foremost sannyasi of his time, was a resident of Benares, and taught the (impersonal) Advaitabadi doctrine of “He and I are One” (a dogma fatal to the life of bhakti). The Lord interjected this serious warning against Prakasananda in the midst of an ordinary conversation; then reverted back to being meek Nimai, seemingly unaware of momentarily channeling Lord Gauranga!

Ch. 15

One morning, after he had bathed, Sri Gauranga remained visible to the bhaktas for a period of twenty-one hours! (This came to be known as his Maha-Prokas, or Great Revelation.) He seated himself upon Srivas’s sacred dais, within the temple, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He ordered the bhaktas to sing kirtan. Then the golden effulgence from the Lord’s body lit up the room brighter than the noonday sun. Gadadhar again decorated him with lovely flower garlands and flower ornaments. Nityananda held an umbrella over his head, and Narahari waved a chamar (fan). The Lord, seated upon the fine silken cushion, which had been placed with care on the dais, not only dispelled his own awesome presence with a warm smile, but also completely delighted everyone with his amiable and charming disposition. He, upon whom the Lord cast a glance, felt him within his heart. He was both in their hearts and before them. What poets imagine, what artists paint, what saints dream, the most blessed of Nadia actually witnessed; they found themselves face to face with an Omnipotent Being! The bhaktas who were immersed “in a sea of happiness,” engaged themselves in worshipping him with tulsi leaves, and presented him with the finest clothes of various colors, and other beautiful flower adornments. They also worshipped him with another precious flower—plucked from their hearts. They could have died “one hundred thousand deaths” to satisfy his slightest whim. From him they learned what the word ‘love’ actually meant. For pure, unadulterated love is a privilege enjoyed by so very few people upon this earth. Yet, the divine being who sat with his followers, at the house of Srivas, seemed so very worthy of the irresistibly sweet attraction they felt towards him. Upon that particular day, the door to the temple was kept open; everyone was allowed to partake of his glory. Hundreds of men and women showered exquisite flowers upon his feet, threw beautiful garlands around his neck, recited mantras, and uttered prayers. Though hundreds were addressing the Lord, perfect harmony prevailed. Just as many musicians may be absorbed in the composition of one perfect symphony, yet still remain as separate beings—distinct from their music; similarly, the many, though separate, were harmoniously absorbed in the One! (Acintya-bedabheda.) Those present addressed him as Lord, Master, Krsna, and so forth, each in their own individual way. When offered a gift of a garland, the Lord would remove the garland that was upon his neck, place it around the neck of a bhakta and then, bending his head forward, allow the next devotee to similarly decorate him. Someone ran to the market to buy a delicate, silken dhoti; upon his return he offered it to the Lord. The Lord, putting it on, graciously took off his own dhoti, and presented it to the worshipper. The bhakta then wound the cloth around his head and danced with joy. In this way the bhaktas made offerings to the Lord and received presents from him. The Lord remained indebted to no one. They all felt an intense longing to serve him; yet, they were only human, and could do so merely in a limited way. Many ran to the bazaar to purchase sweets and numerous other delectable treats. A wide array of delicacies were soon placed before him such as: cakes, pastries, ripe mangoes, jackfruits, bananas, and several different preparations of milk. The devotees then pressed the Lord to partake of them! He wished to honour each and every one of them, and so he ate all they had brought. “In a short time he consumed sufficient food to have fed thousands.” (Caitanya-bhagavat)

It was then widely known that miracles were quite humanly possible, particularly for those who had studied the secret arts. Savants also knew that there were people who naturally possessed occult powers. Yet, Gauranga did perform miracles when it was imperative for the success of his mission. In order to qualify himself, it was necessary to appear as an omnipotent being. Nevertheless, when outsiders—per chance—witnessed his miracles, they often attributed them to his knowledge of occult science, as did some of his own bhaktas in the beginning, including Mukunda, his life-long companion. It is, after all, considered sagacious to be somewhat skeptical. Those who believe, without the depth and clarity to analyze and reason, are considered ignorant and easily beguiled. When educated people see a miracle they will usually question whether it is a miracle at all. It was utterly impossible for a man versed in the secret arts to extort the devotion due to the Lord, by the help of mere miracles. Therefore, the recognition of Sri Gauranga’s divinity was based upon considerations other than miracles. True belief comes very slowly. Many who accepted Gauranga as the Lord while with him at night, doubted him, alone, in the cold light of day. The path of Advaita shows how the mind of a discerning bhakta was alternately affected by faith and disbelief. Nevertheless, miracles followed his steps everywhere. They were unavoidable. When he appeared as omnipotent, he could not say, the food you have offered is enough to feed an army, and too much for a single person. He had to consume everything!

Those present were utterly flabbergasted by this act of copious consumption. Gradually they came to realize that the material world had almost disappeared from view. The Lord’s body seemed to be made up of ethereal yellowish-white light, which though more radiant than the rays of the mid-day sun, did not hurt their eyes, rather, soothed them, and filled their hearts with serenity. They further saw that light was emitted not only from the person of the Lord, but also from everyone present. Indeed, light was being emitted from every substance and object: the stools, the books, the food—everything was covered, saturated and suffused with luminosity, even the atmosphere itself. The Lord sat silently. Everyone believed that his attention was upon him or her. And, from his gaze they felt the gentle sweetness of his love. They found that the being before them was exceedingly good, that he was beyond the influence of any evil, that he was without guile—absolutely innocent—and devoid of misery. The worshippers of Lord Gauranga, having tasted a particle of this joyous nectar, called him “Omnisweet”—a thing the mind alone cannot grasp! The Lord was sitting quietly immersed in the sweet ecstasy, which always accompanied him. As upon the broad ocean, wave follows wave in endless succession, so the Lord was emanating endless waves of bliss. It seemed to the bhaktas that his joy was more boundless than the sea. (Caitanya-candrodaya) Those present found in him their long, lost companion. People are always in search of something. Inside they know that they are lost, ill at ease, and discontented. A maiden thinks that a good marriage will bring her fulfillment and happiness; yet, it does not entirely remove her restlessness. A poor man thinks that riches will soothe his soul. A tyrant believes that absolute power will make him secure. Yet, the soul hankers after something other than riches or power. When, however, the bhaktas found the Lord, they came to realize that it was his absence that had been the cause of their restlessness and disenchantment—a state endemic of all humanity. They felt that they had found the friend that made them feel complete, the want of whom always kept them a mystery even to themselves. In the Lord they found the eternal partner to their souls. And what a delightful being to know! His tender beauty brought tears to their eyes. The fragrance emitted from his body maddened their senses. His grace, his elegance, his brilliance, his goodness, benevolence, and love beamed from every atom and cell—attracting the hearts of all those present. The compelling sweetness of the Omnisweet is too intense for human beings to constantly absorb, and the bhaktas were given more of it than they could assimilate. The Lord, wishing to give them relief, began to speak. His tone was commanding. He seemed quite conscious that there was nothing in the universe to dispute his authority. Yet, his voice was more melodious than music, his sentiments considerate, generous, and compassionate. Indeed, it seemed that he was incapable of faultfinding, and that everyone before him was as guileless, as good, and as unconditionally loving as himself. He addressed Srivas, and divulged some past events, which were known only by him. Srivas became convinced that the being before him saw all of the secrets of his heart. He then addressed Advaita, and disclosed some of the past events of his life. Advaita was also convinced that the being upon the dais knew everything about him. He then similarly addressed another and another. Thus demonstrating his Omniscience. The day passed into night. The bhaktas one and all were saturated with joy. The effulgence of Lord Gauranga’s body, which seemed gentle in the sunlight, became brilliant at night. Indeed, the light emanated from everything, and everyone, in his presence received additional luster at the approach of darkness. The time arrived to perform Arati (a ceremony of worship) to the Golden Heart-master. Srivas addressed Advaita, “Goswami, is it not meet that the Arati should be performed by the mother of the Lord? After all, that modest lady has always entertained a notion that we elderly men have spoiled her youthful son. Let her now come and see that it is not we that spoil him, but rather he who spoils us.” Advaita smiled with total approval. Upon entering the temple, Saci, seeing her radiant son, became daunted and trembled. She had lost all exclusivity upon the dearest object of her love—her precious child who was so considerate, so gracious, and so affectionate to her—was no longer her familial property, but a being to whom everyone had equal rights! In the midst of these disturbing thoughts, she came to remember how she had chastised him, and treated him as an inferior. Would she be forgiven for having chased that omnipotent being around the yard with a cane? So, she stood shaking and speechless, prey to diverse and contradictory feelings, and not at all gratified by seeing her boy raised to such a towering position. “Why do you hesitate?” Srivas asked. “Go to him, he is not your son, but the father of all. Go to him and prostrate yourself before him.” So Saci fell prostrate before he whom she had, hitherto, regarded as her son. And, the being that had acquiesced to Saci as his mother, now planted his foot upon her silvery hair. Saci, as soon as she came in contact with his sacred foot, found herself profoundly affected. A thrill of joy rippled through her, and she could not resist the compulsion to dance! (A dance by a Hindu lady, advanced in years, in a temple before spectators, was not permitted. Srivas thus restrained her.) Here another miracle occurred. Saci knew no Sanskrit, yet she uttered the prayer of Devaki to the newborn Krsna—a couplet transcribed in the Srimad-Bhagavat. Saci, Malinee, and other elderly ladies, then worshipped the Lord by participating in the ceremony of Arati. Then Saci returned home. That evening no one ventured to appear before the Lord without permission. The bhaktas waited upon the verandah to be summoned. Mukunda, the dearest of his disciples, thus remained outside awaiting direction. Suddenly, the Lord ordered the bhaktas to bring Sridhar. The poor vendor who supplied plantain leaves to Nimai. Sridhar, a former recipient of Nimai’s pranks, had come to know that his tormentor, the Pandit, had turned into a saintly man, and that he was regarded by many as Sri Krsna. Yet he had not ventured to approach him. Now Saci’s son wanted to see him! Sridhar would have readily complied, but upon hearing the message he fainted; the respected bhaktas, therefore, gingerly carried his unconscious body back to Srivas’s place. Once before the Lord, Sridhar awoke from his trance. He immediately saw the tall brahmana boy—his tormentor—sitting upon a dais. He then realized that the youth had transformed himself into Sri Krsna. The spectacle startled him. “Do you now see who pilfered your wares?” said the Lord. “It is in this manner that I deal with those I love! I show them—what’s theirs is mine and what’s mine is theirs. Hitherto, I have treated yours as mine, now it’s time for me to show what’s mine is also yours.” “Lord, you revealed yourself to me more than once,” sobbed Sridhar. “Didn’t you tell me that you were the father of the Ganges? But I, fool that I am, didn’t understand.” “Now, Sridhar,” soothed the Lord, “it’s time for me to repay you for all the things I procured. Ask a bar (boon). Mind, you shall have whatever you want, for I have to pay fully for your plantain leaves.” Sridhar gravely declined remuneration. Then the Lord said, “You have spent your days in poverty. You have served me faithfully. Retire in luxury and power. Let me, Sridhar, make you then the lord of an empire.” Sridhar smiled, “My Lord, please do not tempt me. A poor, lowly man like myself has, no doubt, a hankering for wealth and status—but I will not take it.” The Lord again offered him an empire, and again he declined. When Sridhar, a poor peasant rejected an empire, the bhaktas naturally raised a shout of admiration. Majestic rank and comfort were placed at his disposal, and simple Sridhar had flung it away as a thing of no worth! The Lord was quietly moved, “But, Sridhar, I want you to ask a bar. You must ask one.” “Then grant me this: Let that young and beautiful brahmana who stole my plantain leaves, also take entire possession of my heart, and let him make his permanent abode there!” The Lord, who could scarcely restrain his tears, said, “I knew, Sridhar, that you would disdain even the offer of an empire. For sovereignty people risk everything, even their afterlife; I wanted to show that the poorest of my bhaktas would not accept it—even when offered by me!” The Lord then looked upon Murari, one of the chroniclers of his early lila (pastimes). Murari was a worshipper of Ram and Sita. Unassuming, philanthropic, devoted Murari had no superior on earth. “Murari, look at me.” said the Lord. Murari looked up and saw that Gauranga was gone, in his place Ram and his consort Sita were sitting upon the throne. The beautiful spectacle was too much for Murari and he fainted. The Lord, rousing him to consciousness, said, “Murari, I implore you to give up the study of fruitless, occult doctrines.” “Are they not good?” murmured Murari. “Do they not teach spiritual truth?” “Good or bad is beside the point,” replied the Lord. “Research into the realms of occultism will not lead to me.” Murari ventured to suggest that the caution was unnecessary, as there was no one to teach him occult philosophy. “Yes, you have a teacher in Kamalakshya.” Gauranga retorted. (Which was the original name of Advaita Acarya.) The Lord was not only rebuking poor Murari, but also Advaita Acarya, who had yet some pride left in him, because of his knowledge of the secrets of occult science. He then explained that to love God, and to know God’s love, was an objective quite distinct from the knowledge of the soul, in its other capacities. Occult practices do not save the soul by directing it to the lotus feet of the Great Soul—towards which all progressive beings are ascending. Mere cultivation of occult sciences will not save a soul from its downfall, for it does not create an attraction upwards. Advaita felt himself duly humbled. Haridas was next called. His mission on earth was to teach tolerance and humility to humanity. He stood before the Lord, a very unassuming creature, with folded hands.

“Haridas, you have suffered much for me. It is now my turn to show you that I appreciate your devotion. Ask a bar, anything you will—the sovereignty of the whole universe is placed before you.”

“Great Lord, you know the secret of my heart,” replied Haridas. “The more you reveal yourself to me, the more I come to realize my own insignificance. Thou art purity. I am a worthless peace of filth. Thou art good. I am wicked. My Lord when thou speaketh kindly to me, I am consumed by shame. Let me have only this: That I may never forget my unworthiness—make me the abject servant of all thy servants.” He then rolled on the ground in self-deprecation.

“Rise, Haridas, rise, I implore you.” said the Lord. “Your humility rends my heart. The most pleasant of beings are those who though great, are yet unconscious of it. Yes, it is from you that men must learn to be meek and forbearing. There’s not one servant of mine in the whole universe for whom I have a greater regard. The purpose of your existence is, after all, the salvation of the human race. Though a frail man, you have done a deed that has no parallel. You not only forgave those who were intent upon scourging you to death, but also beseeched me take pity upon them! I could have easily protected you from the whip. Yet, if I had done so, humanity would have lost a great lesson. However, when they began to flog you, I knew I had a duty to perform. So, I took your subtle body into my bosom, where the lash could gave you no pain.”

The bhaktas knew not how to express their appreciation. They felt that they had led very ungrateful lives, forgetful of their just and affectionate provider.

The Lord offered a bar to everyone present. They all disdained anything transient, mundane, or material. The presence of the Lord had dissolved all traces of worldliness. Most chose bhakti, either for themselves, or their dear ones. One, having a father who was an atheist, asked that his heart might be drawn towards the Lord. One prayed that his son, who was a gambler, might be cured of his nefarious habit. When Advaita was asked to take a bar, he prayed that the nectar of bhakti and prem might be distributed to all, irrespective of creed, colour, or caste!

Mukunda was weeping outside. He was not only an angel by nature, but also sang like one. He was an ascetic from infancy, and a bhakta even before Lord Gauranga had revealed himself. Nimai loved him, and he, for his part, followed his great friend like a shadow. Yet, why was Mukunda sitting upon the verandah, a picture of utter despair? The Lord was within the temple, and Mukunda was able to hear every word that was being spoken. He was cognizant of all that had transpired inside, but he was not permitted to take part because the Lord had not invited him.

Srivas, venturing to put in a word on his behalf, said, “My Lord, forgive my impertinence, but everyone has been blessed by thee, except thy Mukunda.”

“My Mukunda?” the Lord instantly replied. “Who told you that he was my Mukunda?”

“Not thine?” queried Srivas. “Whose is he then? The world knows he is thine, and thine alone. He is the singer of thy glories. What person is there who has not been moved by his songs about thee?”

“Yes, he is a bhakta when in our midst,” asserted the Lord. “I know that, but I also know that he is a philosopher when in the midst of savants who teach anti-bhakti doctrines. He has no firm faith in anything, certainly not in me.”

The Heart-master was blessing everyone with a generosity, which knew no bounds. Mukunda heard everything; he heard what Srivas urged on his behalf, and what the Lord said in response. This caused him to think deeply about his fallen condition. At last, he broke the cold silence by addressing Srivas. “Do not intercede for me, pandit. The Lord is just, and my punishment is much lighter than my offences.”

Mukunda was quite sincere; indeed, he appeared in a remarkably happy mood. For he felt that the Lord loved him, or he would not have bothered to speak critically about him at all. “Yes,” thought he, “that is his way. His punishment means only love. I must chastise this unworthy body of mine, which has become polluted by imbibing dubious doctrines. I must die to this world. Yet, when will that time come, when the Lord will again accept me as his servant?”

He again addressed Srivas, “Only ask the Lord whether he will ever allow me to see him again?”

The Lord, with tears in his eyes, said: “Mukunda, you shall certainly see me, but only after ten million births.”

Mukunda heard the sentence passed upon him and began calmly to analyze his position. So engrossed was he that he utterly forgot his surroundings and freely unburdened his heart, “Yes, he is so good, so merciful!”

The damning reply of the Lord struck like a thunderbolt upon all who heard it, for Mukunda was the most beloved of them all. They felt that the Lord was dealing harshly with Mukunda, but the idea was blasphemous, and they did not dare voice it. Yet, they could not help deeply sympathizing with their unfortunate friend. When, therefore, he talked of the “mercy” of the Lord, after his severe sentence, they could not see, in his dealings with Mukunda, where the mercy lay!

Still, Mukunda was never more accepting in his life. Indeed, if the others felt the sentence as a thunderbolt, to Mukunda it appeared like a choice blessing, worthy of the fountain of all goodness. “Yes, he is merciful,” he muttered to himself. “Here I have a clear and distinct promise from him, that he will allow me again to look upon him. I must now pronounce myself to be the happiest man in the universe. He says I shall see him—that is quite certain. He says that I cannot see him now; yet, what of it? See him I shall, for he has promised. Ten million births may seem to be a long time, but are as nothing when compared to eternity. So, Mukunda, take heart, you shall see him again!” Saying this, he actually stood up and began to dance upon the verandah with uplifted arms, a picture of supreme happiness, exclaiming, “I shall see him—he has promised!”

The scene was too much for the bhaktas, and many began to weep. Mukunda appeared surprised to see them so cheerless, and asked, “Why do you cry upon this special day?”

The Lord, with tears rolling down his cheeks, said, “Mukunda, come in.”

Yet, Mukunda was not then in a condition to hear this cordial invitation, even from the Lord. His rapture had closed his ears. The bhaktas caught hold of the dancing figure and sought to restrain him. “Why do you stop me?” protested Mukunda. “Have you not heard the promise of the Lord? He will allow me to see him after ten million births!” They all then dragged him before Gauranga.

The Lord said, in a voice broken with emotion, “Mukunda, forgive me for the game I played. You have conquered me, though I must tell you, I was only testing your faith—well not exactly. I wanted to show the world the mettle my devotees are made of. I also wanted to show that though I am master of all, I am also mastered by my bhaktas. Did I not tell you, that I wouldn’t be visible to you until you had passed through ten million births? However, where is my resolve? Your devotion has driven that resolution from my heart. Mukunda, it is neither my custom to find fault with my people, nor to exact vengeance upon them. Forgiveness rather than revenge is my nature. Now Mukunda, you expected my judgment to be final, yet your faith in me was not shaken; on the contrary, the prospect of seeing me after millions of years threw you into ecstasy! I have scarcely a bhakta like you. Now raise your head, look at me, and let us resume our friendship.”

Through the whole of that day Gauranga remained revealed. Midnight approached and he was still upon the dais. Yet, now he withdrew his Almighty Presence and appeared to the bhaktas in his loveliness, pure and simple. The Omnipotent Lord disappeared, and the Omnisweet Lord remained.

The senses open to us the doors of pleasure, yet the pleasure does not remain. The smell of perfume may give a momentary delight, but soon its potency diminishes. In the Lord, at last, the bhaktas found a being that sustained the gratification of their senses. Here the mundane law of diminishing returns held no sway. They gazed at him, and tears of joy began to trickle down their cheeks. He was sarbanga-sundara (a perfectly proportioned being). Every aspect of his appearance aesthetically pleased their eyes. They felt that it was unfortunate that they had only one pair of eyes, for they had not the capacity to take in all his beauty. When they saw that the magnificence of the Lord “overflowed” their eyes, they had to momentarily shut them for relief. Upon opening their eyes again—still thirsty to see him—the Lord then assumed a quite different and superior form of loveliness. After every blink the bhaktas found, to their wonder, that the Lord appeared in another more beautiful form!

One bhakta found himself enchanted by the fine fragrance that he emitted, and could only exclaim: “Yes, I now see why he gave me a nose. The nose has its uses. The nose is an essential source of happiness.” Thus, they worshipped the Lord with all five senses, and were served in return; for, he has said, “I serve as I am served.”

They all felt irresistibly drawn to the precious person before them. Slowly, they came within reach of him, and some tentatively touched his fingers, some his hands, some his feet. He was delicious to touch!

The Lord affectionately embraced and kissed each and every one of them!

It was then that they understood the true meaning of the Vedantic doctrine, “He and I are One.” Impersonalists believe that separation from the One is illusion, and therefore seek to deny their separate identity and merge into undifferentiated oneness with the Creator. The bhaktas experienced both, the oneness of their love for Gauranga, and the uniqueness of his individuality. They saw that individuality and oneness happily coexist together. To negate their singular existence would be like the Creator wishing to negate Creation. They realized the eternal macrocosmic duality that exists between Creator and Creation, and saw the same microcosmic duality within themselves. They realized the oneness of their twoness! (Acintya-bedabheda.) And, without any difficulty, reconciled the Eternal Paradox of all that Is!

A poor girl may come as a bride to her wealthy husband’s house, and feel that he, and everything his, is hers. In the same manner the bhaktas felt that not only was the Lord theirs, but also everything about him—the world, the universe, the whole of his creation. They then vividly understood the mutual love that exists between Sri Krsna and Radha. Said Radha to Krsna:

“I am thine, and thou art mine.”

“Thou art the life of my life.”

“Thou art the ultimate goal of my existence.”

(Srimad-Bhagavat)

Said Krsna to Radha:

“Thou art the joy of my heart.”

“Thou hast taught me how to love.”

“Without thee existence is dreary.”

(Srimad-Bhagavat)

The above declarations from the Divine Couple are often considered more fanciful than real. The bhaktas now found that they were not exaggerations, but, actually, fell far short of the full emotional experience. In the Lord the bhaktas, at last, found their soul mate.

Advaita had realized that the mightiness of Gauranga was beyond the conception of man, and therefore daunting and irreconcilable to him. Eventually, the bhaktas felt that the sweetness displayed by him was also too much to bear. They were only human, of limited capacity, and his perfection could not be fully encompassed. Thus, they eventually found themselves exhausted, and drowning in the sweetness of the Omnisweet!

“Is it not time that he should go?” whispered Advaita to Srivas. “I can’t bear his powerful presence any longer.”

“Neither can I,” replied Srivas.

“We are puny creatures.” Advaita told Gauranga. “We cannot bear thy sweetness any longer. Appear to us as a human and relieve us of the intensity of thy divine state of being.”

An iconoclast would consider it both blasphemous and primitive to speak so familiarly to an Omnipotent God while perceiving him in the form of a human being. Yet, because the Lord is omnipotent, he must be capable of presenting himself as a being; for that is the common ground upon which the infinite Creator relates to his finite creatures! “God made man in his own image!”

His revelation began at eight o’clock on the previous morning; twenty-one hours had now passed and it was about five a.m. The pure and saintly bhaktas could take no more! They could no longer bear the intense sweetness of the Omnisweet!

The Lord then said: “Very well, I shall go.” This was followed by a slight shriek as he fainted and fell down. Thus ended the Maha-Prokas, or the Great Revelation, of Sri Gauranga.

Every revelation ended in a loss of consciousness. First the Lord announced that he was going. Then he collapsed. His powerful aura disappeared, and with it every sign of life. His companions were constantly afraid of losing him; they all dreaded that he would, perhaps, take that opportunity of leaving them for Krsna’s abode—Goloka.

His chroniclers describe his condition on this particular occasion: His eyes were fixed and lifeless showing only the lower curve of the pupils. There was no motion of any kind—even his heart had ceased to beat. Cotton held before his nostrils did not move to the slightest degree. Though his limbs remained limp, the only indication of possible life was the warmth of his body, which had the luster of the living, and not the paleness of the dead.

All known methods were adopted to revive him, but to no avail.

The suspicion that the Lord had left them began gradually to prevail. They wondered—what did that last embrace mean? What did that last kiss mean? Surely, all this meant that he was taking his leave! And, if so, they resolved to follow him! They had passed twenty-one hours without eating or sleeping—in a state of constant excitement—beyond all limits of mundane experience. They needed rest; absolute and prolonged rest. Yet how could they even think of leaving when their Lord was lying lifelessly before them?

They sat around his body talking in whispers. Two hours passed and still he appeared to be dead. They had found their beloved Lord; now he had left them. Why should they remain upon this earth and endure his absence? Everyone wanted to go with him. (Though suicide is very bad karma, they were not rational.)

On previous occasions, when they had given him up for lost, their apprehension had proven false. This time, however, hope refused to cheer them. The trance began at about five a.m. Three hours passed, and still the Lord remained apparently dead before them. The sun rose—as they waited and waited with increasing apprehension. At noon, when seven hours had passed, there was still no sign of life. The bhaktas had forgotten their need for food and rest—they were going to follow their Lord. His lifeless body lay for nine hours before them…yet, still he was not pale, he looked alive, and that was their one shard of hope.

“Let us sing the songs of Kunjabhanga,” (Radha-Krsna love ballads) suggested a bhakta. “Let this be our last song on earth.” Their hearts were heavy and they needed an outlet for their accumulated angst. So, with the lifeless body of the Lord before them, they began to sing in the mood of a mournful dirge. The transcendental song soothed their hearts—they seemed to be receiving a flow of ecstasy from Him!

Suddenly, pulak (goose bumps) the size of large peas appeared upon his body. He was enjoying their singing! The bhaktas carefully examined him, “He is back!” exclaimed one, whereupon they all expressed their relief with shouts of “Haribol!” and “Jai!” Peal after peal of “Haribol!” followed, while the women gave vent to their feelings with the joyful sound of “ulu ulu ulu.”

During this uproar the Lord opened his eyes and yawned. Then examined the faces of his attendants to ascertain who they were, and why they were fussing over him. Seeing that it was broad daylight, he got up and endeavoured to recollect where he was. “Well, what is the matter today?” he asked somewhat perplexed.

Whenever he awoke from a trance he always asked his friends to tell him what had transpired. They, of course, concealed from him everything that he had said and done as Gauranga. They told him that he had fainted, and had remained unconscious since early morning. Nimai seemed upset and blushed. He hung his head and said slowly, “Every moment of ours is consecrated to the service of Sri Krsna. I’m sorry that I wasted so much of your valuable time.”

“These apologies should be postponed,” Nitai replied. “We’re hungry and thirsty, and the best thing for us to do now is go to the river and take a plunge.” So they all scurried to the river, with Nimai in their midst, now once more a man like themselves.

Ch. 16

“Why do we pass our days in vain my friends?” asked Nimai. If there are kirtans at night, it was settled that kirtans should be held during the day also—sometimes within the privacy of the Lord’s home, sometimes at the homes of others. In between singing about Krsna they talked about him. And sometimes Nimai, in the commanding personality of Lord Gauranga, instructed them. In short, the Lord and his bhaktas now did nothing other than worship Sri Krsna.

The news spread far and wide, that the Lord had come down to earth as the son of Saci. Many among the higher classes, the Brahmanas, refused to accept him as an Avatar. The lower classes embraced him with avidity and were therefore deemed, by the Lord, to be in a higher position than Brahmanas who had no reverence for Sri Krsna.

 Whether he be a brahmana, sannyasi, or sudra,

He who knows the reality of Krsna is the true guru. (Caitanya-caritamrta M.8.127)

This teaching was threatening to the intellectual Brahmanas of India, who had held dictatorial sway in that country from time immemorial. Thus they denigrated this new form of worship, and its founder. So, while the lower classes flocked to his standard, most leading brahmanas did everything in their power to stamp out his glory; yet, they saw with dismay that the Lord was daily winning over men even from their own ranks. In just a matter of months his followers from the higher classes could be numbered in thousands, and from the lower classes by hundreds of thousands. Thus, his movement quickly grew in popularity, bloomed, and flourished.

In Nadia, now that his bhaktas were engaged in worshipping Krsna day and night, the town assumed quite a novel appearance. There was kirtan every morning in almost every home of the lower classes, and also in many brahmana households. His bhaktas did not behave like other people, for they were imbued with the joy of Krsna-prem. They ate little and slept less, and kept themselves detached from the general throng. Much of the external world disappeared from their lives. They were oblivious to everything that did not pertain to the Lord. If two of them met in public, they gazed at one another and laughed excessively, or held each other’s hands and danced!

Those who came to believe that the Lord was, indeed, present among them, had no sorrow; they roamed about confident in his mission, and convinced that they had been chosen as instruments to serve a higher purpose. They felt a sincere brotherly love for everyone, and compassion for everything sinful, mean or improper. Their attitude exerted a powerful influence upon all those they encountered. Even skeptics, seeing the change that had been wrought upon these men—some of whom were previously dreadful—began to yearn for similar good fortune. They wanted to associate with the bhaktas, and began to congregate around them hoping to be introduced to the Lord. Indeed, the bhaktas became so appealing, and so attractive in every way, that most men wished to be like them. Non-believers were thus induced to petition the Lord. To see him was to believe in him. His fresh, friendly face, which seemed to be the epitome of intelligence, innocence, simplicity, devotion, and love, carried with it a charisma, which those who met him could scarcely resist.

In Nadia incredible incidents began to frequently occur. Chapal Gopal, a savant who got the nickname of ‘Chapal’ because he was a chatterbox, insulted saintly and inoffensive Srivas. Three days later he was infected by leprosy. Gopal remained defiant. Five years later he fell at the feet of the Lord. The Lord told him it was Srivas alone who could save him. He sought the forgiveness of Srivas and was cured. He and all his cohorts then became followers of Sri Gauranga.

A Muslim tailor, during a business visit to Srivas’s house, happened to see the Lord. The sight maddened him, and for seven days he roamed the city a complete lunatic, exclaiming, “I have seen Him!” “I have seen Him!” “I have seen Him!” He became a follower of the Lord, and eventually a great saint. Similarly, Madhava Acarya (a cousin of Visnupriya) who was a skeptic, one day laid eyes upon the Lord, at Srivas’s, and was saved; he too subsequently became a saint of great repute. His work, Krsna-mangal, is still a source of supreme happiness to millions of devotees.

People began to be possessed by the divine influence in other ways. The Lord could, of course, impart it at will. He only had to say, “Be blessed with bhakti,” and that was enough to throw a person into a trance, and then become forever changed—filled with devotion for Krsna. This power his bhaktas also began to acquire in order to fulfill his mission.

Supernatural incidents occurred, not only in many parts of the city, but also in the rest of the country. A man fainted and collapsed in the street. When he rose he started uttering “Hari! Hari! Hari!” From that moment he was devoted to Krsna. People became possessed of extraordinary gifts—some began speaking in tongues. .

Thus the mission of the Lord was mysteriously propagated; yet, along with it the spirit of resistance was slowly gaining strength. The Lord was becoming daring in his spiritual quest. The leaders of society, the Brahmanas, apprehending the complete loss of their prestige and power, remained in opposition to the humbling light of this spiritual Renaissance.

The Heart-master was sensitive; any sign of distress in others affected him. When Raganuth wept because Nimai’s thesis upon Nyaya surpassed his, Nimai flung his own manuscript into the river. He loved sacrifice, and loved those who had a sacrificing spirit. His guidance to people who wanted to serve the Lord is encapsulated in this sloka:

Only one who is lower than a blade of grass, And more tolerant than a tree, Who gives due honour to others, yet seeks none for oneself, Is fit to chant the Holy names of Krsna. (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi. 20.21)

These unassuming traits, though very praiseworthy, are yet human. Gauranga, of course, was more than mortal. Radha, the consort of Lord Krsna, stands to the left of her Lord with one eye fixed upon him, and the other towards her attendant maids—who include humanity. She is the medium through whom human beings attain to Sri Krsna. Radha keeps an eye upon her beloved maids. Therefore, if Radha’s love for Sri Krsna is boundless, her love for humanity is boundless also. Clearly, Lord Gauranga had not only Radha’s love for Sri Krsna, but also Radika’s love for humanity.

Removing the miseries of humanity has always challenged our divine preceptors. Buddhists, Vedantists, Nayaists, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have all tried to solve this enigma. One commonly held belief is that ‘all desire is pain.’ Consequently, the idea of a holy being and renunciation is synonymous. However, there is a subtle misunderstanding here: because we have not been able to entirely spiritualize our intrinsic desires, we have deemed them undesirable and therefore, must seek to repress and deny them. “Death of all Desire” is the maxim for the whole impersonal movement! In the Bhagavad-gita (2. 37) Krsna lays bare the very root of the problem:

It is Lust only, Arjuna, born from the contact with material modes of passion, Which results in torment—the all-devouring, sinful enemy of the world.

So, the problem is not the conjugal sentiment. The problem is how and where this intrinsic need for intimacy is expressed. (We are throwing out the baby with the bath water!) Once this is realized another subtle misunderstanding often takes place: Tantra, in teaching the art of conscious lovemaking, can uplift conjugal intimacy. Also, in assisting the male to retain his semen (oja-shakti) a loss of both subtle and gross energy is prevented. Yet, as tantric sexual activity is still an externalization of the desire nature, one still runs the risk of becoming sexually entangled, and subjected to all the foolish idealizations and disappointment of this material mode of passion; thus, our greatest, creative renderings of mundane, romantic love are tragedies (i.e. Romeo & Juliet). In short:

The Haladini (sexual pleasure-giving potency) In Mahamaya (this mundane paradigm) Is Prakriti (of the lower animal nature). (And that’s the hell of it!)

Thus, spiritual progress then depends entirely upon the de-emphasis of this sexual attachment, that one might internalize the desire nature in favour of The Divine Romance:

As long as the two ghosts of exploitation and renunciation haunt the heart, The ecstasy of devotion to Krsna will never awaken there. (Brahma-rasamrta-sindu. 1.2.22)

The challenge here is twofold: We are from a primal seed, our corporeal manifestation is the karma of that primal sentiment, therefore it is not intimacy that we need to renounce, but ‘the sins of the flesh.’ To graduate The Earth School, our intrinsic wish for intimacy must be—mercifully—elevated from the world of nature to the world of spirit.

The favoured Deity of the Vaisnavas is not Siva who looked at Cupid in anger and reduced him to ashes, but Sri Krsna who brought the “god of love” under control, and who, for that reason, is called Madan-Mohan, “the subjugator of Cupid.” Probodhananda Saraswati, a follower of Sri Gauranga states: “Let the senses be kept intact. Of course they carry poison, but extract the fangs, as the snake charmers do to deadly serpents, and make them dance to your tune. Don’t kill the serpents, for they have their uses in the scheme of creation.” What the Vaisnavas advise, therefore, is to both keep the senses intact, and keep them under proper control. If our desires seem to cease, that is only a temporary solution; this must be eventually realized by all spiritual aspirants—it is deluded to believe that our souls can get snuffed out like the flame of a candle when entering Nirvana, or that they permanently merge into the dazzling light of Brahman. We do not choose ‘to be or not to be.’ Our souls are immutable and our desires eternal. Ascension seeks eventually to situate the soul above the primal straitjacket of the mundane flesh and its astral, or subtle body, encounters. Ascension seeks to situate the soul above the primal straitjacket of the mundane flesh. Ascension is the ever more subtle, purified, and rarified expression of those desires. So, our desire nature is not to be thwarted, but rather internalized upon the heart, and there placed upon higher, more beautiful, and more intimate levels of expression. The Vaisnavas believe that our deepest need, our quintessential desire, our raison d’etre, is for a loving, personal relationship with a loving, personal God.

For meditators, the next step is mantra-meditation, namely upon the Maha-mantra (The Great-mantra) which is:

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

The name Krsna is distinguished by the full resonant beauty of its uniqueness. Krsna means, The All Attractive One. Hare is the revered title of exulted beings. While Rama here refers to Radha Ramana (pleasure), which means Krsna gives pleasure to Radha—who is the embodiment of pleasure—by receiving pleasure from her. Lord Gauranga tells us these names are impregnated with immense mantric power, and that this is the rhythmic key to the highest form of yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, the yoga of devotional service to the Divine Couple. This cultivates a relationship with Radha and Krsna—eventually allowing one to taste the nectar of their Divine Romance—which initiates the process of attracting ones consciousness within their Transcendental Realm, where a higher and more satisfying manifestation of one’s individuality (swarup) is revealed; deep attraction to this relativity draws the soul there at the time of human death. The highest transcendental destination is Radha Kunda where the sweetest and most personal relationship with the Divine Couple is realized. Lord Gauranga stated:

I give you this Mahamantra to be repeated constantly, By doing this you will ascend towards perfection. To chant this mantra, at every moment, is my only rule. (Caitanya-bhagavat Madhya 23.77-78)

In short, the Lord demonstrated both Radha’s love for Sri Krsna, and Radha’s love for humanity. He felt that he was, like Radha, responsible for encouraging the next evolutionary step in humanity’s approach to Lord Krsna.

Lord Gauranga, who was rarely ever visible, and always absorbed in Krsna-prem, was not a preacher, and nor were his bhaktas. The Lord imparted bhakti in his own inimitable ways, by a touch, a look, or a few words. Some of his followers also obtained this power, though to a lesser degree. Devotees inspire others by the beautiful lilas (pastimes) of their Lord, and by their own disarming nature. Mere association with a true Vaisnava is oftentimes enough to reform a hard-hearted sinner. The Vaisnava has a fire, which cannot be displayed by eloquence and fine thoughts. This fire in the heart of a Vaisnava melts him and those who come in contact with him.

One day while in the midst of his bhaktas, the Lord gave Nitai and Haridas a most unusual directive: “Go to every household in the town. Tell everyone to worship Sri Krsna. Don’t make a distinction between sinner or saint, ignorant or learned, believer or atheist, high or low, brahmana or chamar. Save them all.”

Haridas and Nitai were two of the Lord’s highest bhaktas. They were ascetics and loners, they were impeccable, and they had acquired the power of imparting the Holy Spirit. They started out early one morning, going from house to house, and then returned home at noon.

They both started again early the following day. Their figures were commanding and attractive—though, as ascetics, they wore only rags wrapped around their loins. Their opening gambit before most homes was: “Hari Krsna!” The householder, hearing mendicants at the door, usually hastened to give them alms—often just a handful of rice. Nitai and Haridas would then look at the alms-giver imploringly: “We do not beg for rice, we beg only that you worship beloved Krsna, who loves you so well.” People belonging to the higher Brahminical classes would sometimes address Nitai and Haridas thus: “It is unwise to conceive of God as a being. We have spent years seeking knowledge. Better go elsewhere—amongst the foolish and the ignorant.”

Usually the simple message proclaimed by Nitai and Haridas produced wonderful effects; most people did accept it, because their empowerment came from an authentic source. However, some received the bearers of this divine message with ridicule and insults.

“What an outlandish command this is from our Lord, to proclaim Sri Krsna door to door!” said Nitai to Haridas. “The Lord must know that we are not accepted everywhere, and are subjected to jeers, sneers and leers.” The experience was as bizarre to everyone in Nadia as it was to Nitai and Haridas. After Buddha, and his disciples, no spiritual emissary in India disseminated religion in this grass-roots manner.

“Let us go and proclaim Sri Krsna to Jagai and Madhai,” said Nitai to Haridas.

“Why, of all people, them?” asked Haridas.

“They are the most infamous men in this city,” said Nitai. “They are among the greatest sinners in this world. If the Lord miraculously inspires them to accept Sri Krsna, that would influence a lot of people to recognize his mission. Nimai does everything behind closed doors, causing uninformed people to jump to the wrong conclusions.”

Jagai and Madhai were, nominally, the kotwals (police) of Nadia, but in reality they were unscrupulous villains, dominating the very citizens they were supposed to protect. Their master was Chand Kazi, the Muslim Governor, who represented the King of Gaur. These two fallen brahmana youths thus became the reigning gang lords of the city, backed by a band of ruffians to do their bidding. They were also alcoholics, who while drunk raped women, robbed, bullied, and murdered anyone who stood in there way.

“There’s just one snag,” ventured Haridas, “Jagai and Madhai may assault us.”

“But you’re used to it,” smiled Nitai.

Haridas then suspected that Nitai was almost counting upon a fracas.

So, they both proceeded to the tents of “the greatest sinners then in existence.”

Nitai stood before the brothers, with Haridas tentatively holding up the rear. “May Sri Krsna bless you,” said Nitai. “Dear brothers, worship Sri Krsna. Serve him, for he is the best of Lords.”

Jagai and Madhai had their own shady path, which was based upon the Tantras. Their particular Tantra advocated the eating of meat and the drinking of alcohol. Those who followed this teaching called themselves Viras (heroes). They held orgies, and had dealings with “dark spirits.” It was understood that this Tantric philosophy was contrived to denigrate its Hindu practioners, bringing them down to the barbarous level of their Muslim invaders. The meek Hindus finding it impossible to cope with the brutalities of the Afghans and Moguls—who came from the West—concocted this Tantra to create a body of men equally vicious, who would be able to oppose their oppressors. Men were attracted to join by the intriguing mysteries that permeated all their ceremonies, and the license that it permitted in eating, drinking, and other sense pleasures. They were further promised gifts from the spirits and gods. Those who allied themselves under this banner naturally became stronger and more brutal than their sober and submissive Hindu brothers. The development of their primal instincts was built upon the ruination of their spiritual nature. Jagai and Madhai were, therefore, definitely not pre-disposed to accept Sri Krsna—the Deity of love. In fact, they entertained a particular hatred for all Vaisnavas. Indeed, Tantrics, in general, have a very low opinion of Vaisnavism, which they contend was calculated to make men effeminate.

When Nitai recommended that the brothers accept Sri Krsna, they rather predictably snarled like ravening beasts, ordered them off, and forbade the saints to ever trouble them again.

The order to leave was not obeyed with customary alacrity, which further enraged the brothers, who thereupon forcibly expelled their visitors. Thus, Nitai and Haridas had to endure further abuse and insult.

The love of Nitai for his fellow beings knew no bounds; for those who were fallen, he felt a most profound pity. He saw that Jagai and Madhai, in spite of their worldly indulgences and power, were the most miserable of men. They were callous, and dreaded throughout the all of Bengal. Nitai knew they would suffer terribly in the afterlife for their iniquities. Therefore, delivering the brothers would not only assist them, but also be terrific publicity for Gauranga’s mission.

While returning home, Haridas said to Nitai, “Isn’t it enough that the Lord has asked us to propagate Krsna consciousness in this outlandish manner—without needlessly courting the association of violent drunkards?”

“Dear Haridas, shouldn’t we sometimes be a little daring like our master, and consider the condition of those poor wretches. What will become of them?” said Nitai with tears in his eyes.

“Yes, I now see,” Haridas reflected. “You who can purify the whole universe by your slightest wish, want their salvation, and that means that they are already saved.”

It just so happened that the two brothers next pitched their tents in Gauranga’s neighbourhood. People became alarmed; they would not go out alone, and refrained from going out altogether after dark.

One night the sound of music from the Lord’s kirtan attracted the brothers. Early next morning, when the bhaktas exited Srivas’s courtyard, they found Jagai and Madhai loitering at the gate. The music had drawn them, and not finding an entrance, they had passed the night outside drinking and dancing.

The brothers, in a garrulous mood, approached the Lord wanting to know what type of music his troupe performed—having taken the kirtan party to be a commercial band. The Lord made no reply and hurriedly eschewed their association.

Nitai’s wish to bring the brothers face to face with the Lord, had now been unwittingly accomplished, but the meeting produced no result. So, he persuaded Haridas to again confront the brothers with him to extol the glory of Sri Krsna.

When they revisited the brothers, Nitai delivered this message: “Love Krsna, worship Krsna, serve Krsna. Life is short, and the object of life is the attainment of the lotus feet of the Lord.”

The brothers were sober enough to see that the same Vaisnavas were again foisting their distasteful, namby-pamby doctrines upon them. They had previously gone easy on these meddlesome mendicants—they would do so no longer. Madhai said, “You idiots are asking for correctional therapy!” They then quickly rose to assault Nitai and Haridas.

The two bhaktas departed with all haste. And, the two brothers pursued them with shaking fists.

Nitai, a good runner, had to assist poor Haridas. Thus two of the meanest villains on earth chased two of greatest bhaktas—the nimbler one dragging the other along with him. One bystander jeered, “Finally the dancing boys are getting their comeuppance!” Fortunately, the brothers were too hung-over to keep up the chase.

Since Jagai and Madhai had pitched their tents in the Lord’s neighbourhood, the bhaktas who resided near him were under constant duress. Yet, they did not trouble the Lord with their fears. However, they felt the attack upon Nitai, who was considered the Lord’s elder brother, and Haridas, one of his foremost bhaktas, ought not to be kept quiet. So, one afternoon the leading bhaktas surrounded Nimai and described how these dastardly brothers had troubled his dearest companions.

The Lord sadly remarked, “They do not know that they will have to render an account of themselves.”

The bhaktas conveyed that the brothers were now camping in his neighbourhood, and that their presence had created a reign of terror; then appealed to the Lord, if he had any pity for the fallen, to make the brothers’ salvation his main concern.

“Personally,” interjected Nitai, “I shall never again go canvassing to proclaim Sri Krsna. It does not bring out the best in everyone. Jagai and Madhai would have murdered us had we not escaped by your mercy. You reveal yourself to us in private; yet, what are you doing for the outside world, which urgently needs salvation? Shouldn’t we first deliver the greatest sinners?”

“Most fortunate are these two brothers,” smiled the Lord. “Since you, the servants of Sri Krsna, wish them well. Sri Krsna will surely fulfill your desire.”

When the Lord said this, the bhaktas immediately raised the joyous shout of “Hari! Hari!”

“Their sins are great,” the Lord continued, “and it is Harinam (the Lord’s holy names) alone that can annul them. Let us deliver them by giving them Harinam, and let the world see the potency, which the names of the Supreme Deities possess. Send for all the bhaktas, and let us go in procession to the two brothers performing sankirtan (congregational singing), and then breathe the name of the Lord Hari into their ears.”

No sooner had the Lord uttered this command, than the bhaktas ran to fetch their fellow devotees. Large numbers quickly amassed. This was the first time that the citizens of Nadia were to publicly witness a kirtan; many knew of them; some even decried them as masquerades of drunkenness; however, though many had tried, no unqualified outsider had succeeded in seeing one. For only those who deserved the blessing, gained entrance to the places where they were held.

When the Lord proposed that they go to the tents of Jagai and Madhai performing sankirtan, and then give them Harinam, he very severely tested the fidelity of his bhaktas. Just appearing in the streets of that sedate city, with uplifted arms, dancing and chanting the name of Hari, was enough to court ridicule, jeers, and a possible pelting with stones. Yet, they were expected to bear much, much more. For, to openly confront Jagai and Madhai in their haunts, was to step into the rogue tiger’s cage!

In those days of anarchy, after the Muslims had invaded and uprooted the established government, leaders with a strong band of mercenaries, were a law unto themselves, and could wield whatever violence they liked. If the brothers had actually carried out their threats of exterminating the Vaisnavas, they may well have done so with impunity; there was no one to prevent them, for although there was a Kazi, or Governor, he maintained only nominal law over the town. Yet, the bhaktas faith in the Lord was unshakable—they felt secure under his leadership and protection.

The Heart-master, surrounded by hundreds of bhaktas, began to dance. Every flowing movement showed the love that was shining in his heart. “His joyous radiation was without measure, and without end.” (Caitanya-mangal)

Those who came to laugh at the spectacle of respectable men, including learned savants, dancing with musical bells on their legs, were soon touched by their sweet devotional mood. The Lord brought so much pleasure to his bhaktas’ hearts—their faces beamed with happiness. There was a sublime serenity in their soft, surrendered eyes, in the resonance of their voices, and in the gentle rhythm of their step.

Nitai was at the head of the party. He took no part in the kirtan. He was the vanguard—leading the way. He had set his heart upon saving the two brothers, and now that the Lord was with him, he was in ecstasy.

As the kirtan, with its booming drums, clanging, jingling cymbals, and loud shouts of “Hari! Hari!” neared the brothers’ tents, their slumber was disturbed.

They had passed the night at a drunken orgy in one of their dens of iniquity. They were spent and hung-over; their restless snooze had dragged on into the afternoon. Being irritated by the commotion, without getting up, they directed their cronies to stop the noise. The bhaktas were promptly ordered to cease, but to no avail; a momentum of transcendental joy filled their hearts, and the Lord himself was with them—the message only increased their fervor.

One of the messengers returned to the brothers and said, “It is Nimai Pandit and a large procession of men playing musical instruments, singing Vaisnava songs and dancing like idiots. When we asked them not to disturb your rest, instead of obeying, they continued with even greater zeal!”

“They’re Vaisnavas?” enquired Madhai, the more militant brother. “Well, today we shall exterminate the effeminate vermin once and for all!” The two brothers rose. Odious Vaisnavas had now agitated them one time too many! Their slumber had been disturbed, and more importantly their authority had been stomped on! Heads were going to roll! So as not to lose time, they did not dress—just wrapped their dhotis around their loins. Their cutthroat cronies followed, as the brothers sped ahead—determined to do all the bloody work themselves.

Nitai, leading the kirtan party, fully expected them to be pacified by the Lord’s music, and fall at his feet. He was shocked and deeply dismayed; two fellow beings—God’s children—were hurtling towards him, blinded by baser animal instincts, quite unconscious of their own miserable state, and the awful suffering that awaited them in the afterlife. Nitai tenderly gazed at them, and sought, somehow, to reach them.

The sight of Nitai before the brothers, inflamed them still more; for it was the very ascetic who had already harassed them twice! They paused to decide what sort of permanent damage they should inflict upon the persistent pest!

That was Nitai’s opportunity. He burst into tears, and sobbed, “We come as your loving friends. We come not to hurt or be hurt. We must tell you that Sri Krsna is a loving master, and that our first duty is to worship his lotus feet. Good brothers, do not be offended. Why should you attack one”—here Nitai sensed Madhai’s unquenchable rage—“who is only a poor ascetic?”

Now, from the brothers’ point of view, they were the injured party. If they drank liquor, or committed murder, that had nothing to do with the Vaisnavas. It was the patronizing, proselytizing bhaktas that were interfering with them! And, had they not on more than one occasion, shown, in no uncertain terms, that they did not want their services? What did this show of force mean? Hundreds of men coming to their den with loud shouts of “Haribol!”—showing the world that they were rascals. They hated Vaisnavas and everything about them. Nitai’s address acted like a spark applied to dry gunpowder. The bullish Madhai did not allow Nitai to finish his sermon. He grunted some inaudible profanity, then grabbed a broken earthen jar from the ground and flung it violently—with unerring precision—at Nitai’s head!

It struck poor Nitai’s forehead with tremendous force. The blow partially stunned him, and blood spurted from the wound. Nitai, however, immediately recovered his senses; the trickling blood was blinding him, so he pressed the wound to staunch the flow.

Madhai was not appeased. He grabbed one more piece of the broken jar for another assault, but this time Jagai prevented his arm from throwing the missile. Jagai was less bullish, and slightly more sensitive than Madhai; the earnest expression, the tearful eyes, and the passionate appeal of Nitai had, somehow, touched him. “I do not see anything heroic, or glorious, in killing an ascetic who means nothing to you. Nor do I think that your action will bring you any blessing or advantage.”

The Lord, surrounded by bhaktas, was rudely disturbed, in the midst of his lovely dance, by a message that the brothers were slaughtering Nitai. “They are killing my Nitai!” exclaimed the Lord, hastening to the scene of the crime. He saw the face of Nitai besmeared with blood—yet he was joyously dancing, and repeating the name of the Lord (Gaura).

Both Caitanya-mangal and Caitanya-bhagavat state that Sripad Nityananda, upon being injured, realized that Madhai was saved, for it would be impossible for the Lord to ignore his assault. In this era Gauranga had denounced corporal punishment—he would only teach by giving salvation. Nitai’s heart was jubilant, for he quickly recognized that the wound upon his forehead meant, not only the salvation of the brothers, but also hope for all humanity. If the brothers were saved, would not the whole world be delivered by that miracle? Therefore, he danced, bleeding, in ecstasy!

The Lord immediately wrapped his own chadar (cloth) around Nitai’s forehead, and healed the wound with his divine touch.

Madhai, being restrained by his brother, was foaming at the mouth and struggling to extricate himself. Jagai still had his wits about him, and seeing that many prominent people were assembled around the bhaktas, some of whom were their acquaintances, and some their relatives, he was no longer in favour of “exterminating the Vaisnavas.”

Gauranga, after nursing Nitai, surrounded by hundreds of bhaktas, stood face to face with the brothers; who on their side, were supported by hundreds of fiendish followers armed with sabers and knives—awaiting orders. The Lord addressed the brothers: “Are you not ashamed of the cowardly act of committing an assault upon an unarmed and harmless ascetic?” Everyone was hushed into silence. “How could you bring yourselves to hurt him? Did he ever attack you? Had he not, at least, meant to serve you?”

The brothers, being angry alcoholics, with the biggest and baddest gang of cutthroats in town, were not accustomed to being crossed—much less publicly reprimanded—might have been expected to interrupt the Pandit. Yet, they did not. They allowed him to proceed, like paralyzed prisoners before a judge.

“You are accumulating sin,” continued Gauranga, “incessantly upon your heads, and you seem not to be growing weary of it. Did it ever occur to you that a day of reckoning would eventually come? That day, that moment, is now! You began in sin, and your assault upon Nityananda, a humble servant of the Lord, and the compassionate friend of the poor and fallen, is your fitting end. Now, Jagai and Madhai, receive your due punishment.”

This threat of retribution was levied against two men for whom the murder of a woman meant nothing. Who, as Nadia kotwals (police) held absolute sway over the lives and property of all the citizens, and who, with their armed, fierce and frightful faction, could easily massacre the Vaisnavas. Their will was law in this city, and they were always obeyed and never opposed, much less punished.

The brothers had no logical reason to be threatened. As city kotwals they could throw them in jail. As gang leaders they could have slain all those who stood before them. As unruly men of passion, it would have been the most natural thing for them to cut their opponents to pieces; yet, they did no such thing. They stood fixed to the spot, immobile and speechless—trembling from head to toe…before a young, unarmed man of twenty-three, followed by peaceful men like himself!

Gauranga, after delivering his judgment, loudly summoned his sudarsana-cakra—the favoured weapon of the gods—a swirling disc of fire encircled his right index finger!

The terrible being, before the brothers, revealed himself as the Great Executioner. They, and all those who witnessed the glare of fire that surrounded them, believed that their last moment was at hand. Most people present felt gratified, for the brothers deserved this fate.

Nitai was there for their deliverance, not their destruction. When he was struck, he danced with delight, feeling he then had a claim upon the brothers’ souls. Yet, Gauranga, assuming his own inherent independence, decided to take the matter into his own hands! This, Nitai wanted to prevent, so he cried loudly, “Mercy!” and fell at the Lord’s feet.

Nitai knew that Gaura was the sweetest being in the entire universe. Yet, sometimes he had to assume a righteous demeanour to maintain superiority over sin. If he prayed to the Lord for the souls of the brothers, he would surely grant the appeal, and thereby be facilitated in his mission. Yet, though Nitai, whom he called his elder brother, knelt before him and begged for mercy, he remained unmoved.

Nitai was at a loss. Madhai had drawn blood from his forehead—the Lord had just cause. He again addressed Gauranga, “My Lord, I see it is the slight wound upon my forehead that makes you unrelenting. I assure you, it is little more than a minor misunderstanding…the wound is nothing; believe me, my Lord, I didn’t feel it in the least. Please be merciful.”

Gauranga remained an immovable figure of imminent doom. His face, which was usually a paragon of perfect peace, did not show the least sign of being swayed by Nitai’s passionate appeal.

“My Lord, even if they deserve punishment,” persisted Nitai, “please remember your pledge. In this era, didn’t you promise that you wouldn’t wield any weapon, and that you would save the wicked by forgiveness rather than punishment, by your causeless mercy, and by washing away their sins with your tears of compassion? You have nothing to do with your cakra in this era. You have come to soften the hearts of the wicked; if you now kill them you will save no one!

The Lord remained firm! The vast crowd stood gripped in utter silence.

“What’s the matter with him?” thought Nitai. “This isn’t the Lord who is thrown into a convulsion of grief over the misery of others! It’s clearly the wound on my forehead.” Nitai then said, “My Lord, you know best what to do. Yet, you cannot kill them both, for Jagai saved my life!”

The Lord fastened his gaze upon Nitai, “Explain! What do you mean—Jagai saved your life?”

When the assault was committed, the Lord was in the midst of the bhaktas. He had witnessed nothing. Nitai then told him, how Jagai had not only restrained Madhai from assaulting him a second time, but also rebuked him for his cowardly conduct.

Immediately, an approving smile lit up the divine countenance of the Lord “from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.” Again he looked his All-merciful, Omnisweet self. He turned to Jagai, “So Jagai, you saved the life of my Nitai? Yes, you have conferred an enormous obligation upon me. You deserve a reward. Let me hug you.” Saying this the Lord, the embodiment of purity, enfolded the sinful, fallen Jagai in his long, golden arms, and gave him a warm embrace!

Jagai flopped down upon the street, as if he had been knocked out; his limbs limp, and his vacant eyes staring inanely into space. A joyous shout instantly rang out, not only from the bhaktas, but also from their enthralled opponents!

Madhai was desperate, his head was on the chopping block, and the axe was about to fall. He had lost all resistance, all volition, and all power of speech. However, the mercy shown to his brother was like a single ray of light, which suddenly entered his beleaguered heart. This glimmer of hope not only gave him life, but also initiated a fundamental transformation within his whole being. He had keenly felt that he was doomed. Yet, the sympathy shown to Jagai made him, somehow, feel that his offence was not insurmountable. Thus, he fell at the feet of the Lord, exclaiming, “Mercy, mercy, dear Lord.”

The Lord stepped back: “Madhai! Your position is not as simple as you would like to think.”

“My Lord, we are all your children,” insisted Madhai. He had then not the least doubt that the being before him was the Lord of the Universe. “Please do not cast me off.”

“Yes, you are a creature of God!” said Gauranga. “Did you ever recognize it? Why then did you maltreat those who were your brothers? Fie! Madhai, you King of all you surveyed; you before whom men trembled, to pose before me and this crowd as a supplicant and a beggar; you the best dressed dandy in town, to now kneel in the dust, to weep as helplessly as those you all too often made weep before you—are you not ashamed?

“Blinded by avarice, you destroyed all your finer sentiments. You ran roughshod over the weak, the poor, the innocent, the noble, and now you claim your right as a child of the same father of creation? Madhai, have you no shame?”

Madhai was again seized by despair. He insisted that the Lord was surely impartial, and therefore hoped that he like his brother—his partner in crime—might be exonerated.

“Madhai,” said the Lord, “when Sripad Nityananda came to bless you he saw past your iniquities. Your misdeeds would then have been washed away, and you would have been redeemed like Jagai. But you added injury to insult; you have drawn blood, not only from a bhakta who is an innocent, but also from one who was your well-wisher. No, Madhai, you can expect no service from me.”

Madhai, though momentarily silenced, could not remain quiet. “Then it is all over for me. I don’t know why all hope has not deserted me. Am I then to be abandoned forever? My Lord, I don’t ask forgiveness of you, nor am I afraid of punishment. Let it come and I shall welcome it. Only tell me, is there any way, any penance, by which I can, at any future date attain to your lotus feet? Just show me the way, if there be any, and then cast me off.”

The severity of Gauranga’s tone disappeared, and he addressed Madhai affectionately, “Yes, I can help you. You offended Sripad Nityananda. If you can, by any means, secure his forgiveness, for his sake, your case might be taken into favourable consideration. You are absolutely at the disposal of Sripad, the friend of the fallen; no one else, not even I, can help you.”

“Mercy! Mercy!” begged Madhai, falling at the feet of Nityananda. Simple Nitai was overjoyed, and stepped towards Madhai, when the Lord took his hand and said, “Don’t permit that unfortunate creature—by too readily forgiving him—to think lightly of his crimes. Let me, therefore, implore your forgiveness, Sripad, on behalf of this miserable wretch. Dear Sripad, forgive him for my sake, and show to the world the difference between a servant of the Lord, and a sinner. Let Madhai know that his offences are so great that even I cannot excuse them, and thus I have to implore you for his forgiveness.”

Nitai submissively replied, “As a puppeteer with puppets, you pull the strings and make us do your bidding. It is you who felt pity for your fallen child Madhai, and it is you who intend to save him through me; yet, you transfer all of the credit to your servants, therefore, you place Madhai at my feet. Let thy will be done. Let me be the means of your salvation. You say that, for his deliverance, it is necessary that I should forgive him. I do forgive him from the bottom of my heart. Let all the dwellers in heaven, and upon this earth, bear witness. I not only forgive Madhai unconditionally, but also make over to him any merit that I may have earned, during the whole course of my existence.”

From Nityananda’s defining moment we receive his definitive declaration; as its vital significance quickly filtered through the large crowd, they erupted into loud, uproarious and repeated shouts of “Haribol!” Indeed, this was the first time that the stillness of the scene was broken.

“Now my dear Madhai,” Nitai continued, “come to me, and let the world see, that there is no longer any differences between us.” Nitai then stood face to face with the great city kotwal, and embraced him warmly. Thus, concluding this awesome demonstration of causeless mercy.

Madhai fell down in a trance, his eyes glazed, and foaming at the mouth. The crowd was very dense. Everyone pushed for a view. The Lord, whose work was done, hastily withdrew his bhaktas, leaving the brothers laid out, side by side, in the dust.

Ch. 17

The Lord returned home with his companions, and they all sat in the courtyard to recuperate. It was late afternoon, in the hot season; the exertion and excitement left them wet with perspiration. They were still processing the momentous experience they had just witnessed. The sun began to set, and they were about to go for a plunge in the river, when they heard shouts of “Thakur! Thakur!” at the outer gate.

The word “Thakur” is an epithet sometimes applied to God, sometimes to holy men, and sometimes to large people. Of course, they all knew someone was seeking Gauranga. A servant hastened to see who called, then announced to the Lord that it was Jagai and Madhai!

They had come to be saved. It was most appropriate that they now come before their guru to be blessed. It is unorthodox for the guru to save his disciple by going to him or her, as the Lord did with Jagai and Madhai. For the purpose of salvation, they should come to him. For the Chela (disciple) must be in an exceedingly receptive state, to germinate the seed of bhakti, sown in his heart by the Guru. His heart must long for the seed, he must knock and, at last, compel the seemingly unwilling, but, in reality, cautious Guru, to satisfy his cravings. When the process is reversed, and the guru seeks to save a chela, he usually fails. Lesser mortals should not apply the exception here adopted by the Lord. To go in force to an obstinate man’s abode, and attempt to save him, is to create a spirit of resistance. Jagai and Madhai perfectly exemplified this mood; yet, because their guru was not an ordinary person, they quickly acquiesced.

When it was announced that the brothers had arrived, Murari, with the Lord’s permission, greeted them. Because the two brothers prided themselves upon their brute strength, Murari wanted to show them, even in that, they had their masters. For Murari was a particularly strong man, and became irresistibly powerful in his ecstatic state—a condition he had entered into upon leaving Srivas’s house, to visit the brothers, earlier that day. Thus, he virtually carried the brothers—one in each arm!

They were dropped before the Lord, crying for mercy, still dazed and amazed.

The Lord was still in his Divine State; indeed, he had ceased to be human from the moment they had opened the doors that day, and proceeded towards Jagai and Madhai’s den. “Sripad!” he addressed Nityananda, “take the two penitents to the Ganges, and there breathe Harinam into their ears. You wanted them for me—then you alone have claim upon them. I therefore hand them over to you.”

The courtyard gates were again opened, and the semi-conscious bodies of the brothers were carried to the Ganges to the music of kholes, kartals, and kirtan. This time there were no jeers from the public, the procession passed through crowded streets, and numerous people followed with great reverence and awe. Upon being dipped in the river, Jagai and Madhai were instantly revived.

Contrary to the socially acceptable norms of the day, the bhaktas, once in the Ganges, became very playful. The Hindus are a sedate race, and the savants, in particular, decry levity in all its forms: they walk with a steady and slow gait; they speak in calm and measured tones, and thus present a serene surface in all situations; they bathe only to wash themselves; they eat only for sustenance. Yet, Nimai had been a restless infant, a restless boy, and continued to be a restless young man—despite his position as a savant! This gregariousness did not forsake him, even though he was worshipped by his bhaktas as an Avatar. When he was divinely revealed, he had to act in extraordinary ways. Yet, when he was in his mundane persona, he could not entirely still the vibration of ecstasy, which constantly played through his nerves and limbs.

The cultivation of bhakti fills the heart with joy. This joy is carried by the chastened nerves to all parts of the body. The result upon the skin is pulak (goose bumps), and upon the eyes and nose, a trickling of liquid. When the flow of joy becomes overwhelming, the bhakta falls down in a swoon. Even when a bhakta is not externally manifesting bhakti, small currents of joy are constantly passing through his frame. This makes him jolly, mirthful, and frolicsome. Thus, in public, the Lord walked, and sometimes ran, in a manner that had very much astounded his brother-professors. The Lord sported in the river. He engaged in all sorts of games with his bhaktas. For his bhaktas did as he did! Advaita was an old man of seventy-six, yet when he came to take the Lord’s shelter, he too became as lighthearted as a child.

The blossoming of bhakti makes children of adults. A bhakta can never grow old. He feels even in his eightieth year, as a child of five. One of the complaints brought against the spirituality of Sri Gauranga by learned Brahmanas, was that it made people behave riotously. It is, indeed, “as little children that we come unto God!” (And, sometimes, it is as a little child that God comes unto us!)

In the river, after having splashed one another with handfuls of water, in the midst of frequent and loud shouts of “Haribol!” the bhaktas were hushed into silence by a gesture from the Lord. The evening was clear for the moon had risen. A large crowd had gathered upon the banks of the Ganges—to witness the day’s final episode in the deliverance of Jagai and Madhai.

“I give unto you these two repenting souls, Sripad,” said Lord Gauranga, in a loud voice, to Nityananda. “Purify them by giving them the name of Hari, and show to the world that his name is more potent than any accumulation of sin.”

The bhaktas stood, waist-deep in water, encircling the Lord; Nitai, on his left, and the two brothers, with folded hands, before him. The Lord solemnly addressed the brothers: “Jagannath and Madhab, you have been accumulating sins since before your birth. Deliver them unto me, with copper, tulsi (a sacred herb), and Ganges water, and thereby relieve yourselves of this burden!”

It took some time for both the brothers, and the bhaktas, to understand what the Heart-master was proposing; when they realized, they were aghast.

To the people of Nadia, the two brothers were considered the greatest sinners in the world. To their understanding, Nimai was opening himself to eternal misery. Every deed within the sacred waters of the Ganges is irrevocable. If a man utters a lie while in touch with Ganges water, he is damned. Witnesses, therefore, were required in former days to touch that holy water while giving evidence.

Similarly, a promise made while standing within the river, is to be religiously kept, and is inescapably binding. Hindus authorize deeds with Ganges water, tulsi leaves, and copper. When a deed is endorsed in this way it becomes final. Here then the Lord demanded to take the “mountains” of sin from the brothers. This horrendous deed of transfer, which the Lord wanted to permanently seal in the most sacred manner, gave a shudder, not only to the crowd, who were witnessing the ceremony from the bank, but also to the bhaktas.

The brothers were now fully aware of their wretched condition. The Lord thus offered them a way out of their wretchedness; yet, they refused to avail themselves of it. Madhai declared: “My Lord, let us suffer for our misdeeds. Though we are mean and selfish, we do not wish our damnation upon you.”

Everyone present expressed resounding approval with loud shouts of “Haribol!”

The Lord remained resolute. He, again, demanded of the brothers, in a firmer tone, to deliver all sins unto him.

“My Lord, please excuse us,” said Jagai. “We should be offering you the most fragrant of flowers rather than our rank and odious karma.”

The Lord was inexorable. He again insisted. Here Nitai intervened, and addressed the brothers thus: “Don’t worry, nothing can contaminate fire—fire purifies everything. As human beings you cannot help fearing that the enormity of your sins will prove a burden to the Lord. Remember who he is that demands your iniquities; that will relieve you of your apprehension. If God is merciful, he must also be the avenger of sin. Let it be witnessed that the Lord wishes to prove this through you. Don’t hesitate, do the Lord’s bidding, that is the safest and correct choice for us poor creatures.”

The brothers, though oppressed by diverse feelings, complied. The deed of transfer was to be effected according to Hindu custom. The giver must declare while in contact with the sacred water, copper, and tulsi, that he makes a gift to a recipient (and to their son, and grandson) who has to sincerely reply, “I accept!” No deed, or gift, is final until both the giver, and the receiver, express their complete agreement. So, the Lord extended his cupped hands for the purpose of receiving the gift. The brothers then loudly enunciated the prescribed words for everyone to hear…that they, the sons of Raghunath and Janardan, and grandsons of Rajah Sibhananda Roy, were transferring all their bad karma to the Lord.

The Lord, judiciously, under the indelible seal of the sacred ritual said:

“I ACCEPT YOUR GIFT!”

It is impossible to describe the affect these few words had upon the bhaktas and all those present. The transaction was as real to them as the acquisition of a piece of land, or a cow. To Hindus, the transference of sin was the worst curse that could befall a person. They all believed there were no sinners on earth lower than these two brothers. They had no doubt that the brothers, by this deed of transfer, had been able to rid their souls of a colossal karmic debt by dumping it upon the Lord.

The crowd was stupefied at the magnitude of the Lord’s mercy. Of course, Nitai tried to assure the brothers that it was of no detriment to the omnipotent Lord, who could not be impacted by their sins; yet, no one present was thoroughly satisfied by this assurance. Though many believed that Nimai was the Lord, they could not always grasp fully what that meant. At best they could only temporarily realize it. They could not completely forget that he was also human.

Everyone present looked at Nimai with the profoundest pity, admiration, and love.

No sooner had Gauranga said, “I accept your gift,” than his golden hue disappeared, and his complexion became dark. Being night, this was seen only by the bhaktas who surrounded him. This change of colour showed that the sins of the brothers had, indeed, entered his body.

Nitai breathed the name of Hari into the ears of the brothers. From that moment the Lord accepted them.

They all then returned to the house of the Lord, where a kirtan party immediately commenced. There Nitai danced with such exuberance, he was seen hopping, jumping, and doing somersaults. When Madhai danced, the bhaktas thought it extraordinary. Jagai had proved himself redeemable, so it could be understood how he was moved to dance. Yet, how was it that Madhai was able to dance, who only a few hours earlier showed himself to be a violent and inveterate sinner?”

It was not, actually, prem and bhakti that inspired the brothers to dance—but hope—they had lost all hope, and finding one glimmer of it, they danced! Yet their dance soon ceased, and they both began to weep.

Madhai refused to go home, and stayed at Srivas’s. His only desire was to be deserving of the Lord’s forgiveness. He wouldn’t eat or sleep. Nitai, Srivas, and others tried to calm him. They told him that he was purged of sin; that the Lord had blessed him by taking on all his karma. Yet, this did not console him. The idea that the Lord had eaten all his karma made Madhai very glum. Indeed, his greatest sorrow was that the Lord had relieved him of the punishment he so justly deserved. Finally, Nitai who failed to placate him, appealed to Nimai, “My Lord, we might not save Madhai, for he has given up both food and the will to live.”

The Lord went to Madhai, who was weeping over a plate of untouched rice. He sat with him and said, “Dear Madhai, don’t starve yourself—please eat.”

Madhai looked up and saw the Lord sitting before him. He was touched, but also reminded of the very sorrow he wished to forget. He bowed to the Lord with great humility and tried to receive him cheerfully.

“Madhai,” continued the Lord, “I must say this is a little self indulgent. You have made Nityananda, whose name denotes constant ecstasy, miserable. You have made others miserable also. What ails you? Are not all your sins forgiven?”

Madhai shuddered.

“I’m willing to grant whatever you wish,” said the Lord. “How can I help?”

“My Lord,” Madhai said, “I have already received the highest blessing. I’m no longer burdened with sin. Yet, I can’t hold back my tears, or put a stop to the guilt, which engulfs me like the waves of the Ganges, and floods my heart. I am devastated by thy kindness. Thou art purity, and I am a guttersnipe. Yet, thou hast treated me like a favoured child. If I had been punished for my bad karma, I would be less miserable. It is wisdom that visits sin with punishment. My Lord, the more you shower your mercies upon me, the more miserable I become!”

The presence of the Lord soothed Madhai. He wiped away his tears and began to eat. He spoke with reverence before Gauranga. He was more himself with Nitai his spiritual guru, his trusted friend, and his confidante. So, Madhai went to him and unburdened himself: “Your mercy and the annulment of my sins have given new life to a heart that was bound and tied by fierce passions. The Lord’s blessing has awakened me from the blind stupor of denial, and my past life now stands revealed. I see nothing to flatter, to please, or to console me. It is one endless record of crimes and cruelties, committed out of anger, lust, and greed. I was too drunk to remember all the evil I perpetrated, or all the innocent people I injured. Yet, now my atrocities loom before me all too vividly—and are having their revenge. The ghost of every heartless act has now come back to haunt me. I see before me faces of outraged women, of orphaned children, and of men in agony—all reduced to that sad and desperate condition by me. I am visited by long forgotten dreams, which torment me. My dear guru, Nityananda, when the Lord accepted me, he give me the power to weep. Yes, that is his blessing. This weeping relieves me; indeed, were it not for this weeping I should have been burnt to ashes by the fire now awakened within my heart and soul.”

A miracle is a departure from natural law. Yet, the Lord is not like an inconstant king who decrees one thing one day, and another the next. In the case of Madhai, Gauranga did not waive nature’s laws, rather, upheld them, strictly, for the purpose of saving him. Madhai was a sinner; to suddenly make him pure, because he had assaulted his dearest friend, the saintly, sannyasi, servant Nitai—would be a little unfair to the rest of his devotees. Divine retribution is corrective, necessary, and just; therefore, Madhai still had to suffer for his transgressions.

“You are what you eat.” Poison and nutritious food have different effects upon the body. Baneful and meritorious acts affect the soul differently. The body when it receives good food is nourished; when poisoned it is infected. If the poison is virulent the body needs an antidote. Similarly, an evil act produces guilt, which—when owned—is the catalyst for the antidote. From that guilt one should feel shame; from that shame one should feel humility; from that humility one should own their fallen condition, and in that knowledge one might sincerely seek forgiveness and repent. From that repentance—if deeply felt and sincere, we shall know the error of our ways, and most importantly, we shall wish to go there no more. Then, and only then, will the grip of that particular karma, be loosened from our souls. So, with sufficient repentance, our souls become chastened and able to free themselves, by degrees, from the clutches of evil karma.

The Lord had thrown light into the dark subconscious recesses of Madhai’s being; lifted the lid from his subliminal sewer. Now, he could see the horror and degradation of all he had held in denial. Bhakti was the purifying antidote, which Gauranga administered to his karma-poisoned soul, and Madhai was appalled to see the dross that was being drawn from him.

Thus, the laws of God are immutable, and everyone must pay the price to partake in their own salvation. Yet, within every evil deed is the seed of a blessing; the adversity that discovers virtue; the grit, in the oyster shell, that produces the pearl. Christ taught his disciples to turn the other cheek in order to receive the blessing of evil! High spirituality requires a form of masochism—well, it appears, superficially, to be masochism; yet, actually, it is to our greatest benefit, for it cleanses the heart and purifies the soul. It is imperative to thank those that harm us, for only then are we burning our own dark karma. If we lash back, even to the slightest degree, we nullify the gift that evil truly is. It can sometimes take the spiritual aspirant lifetimes to realize this most salient of spiritual laws. It is something we must all know, and be constantly mindful of in order to progress. To fully realize that we should truly thank those who try to harm us, torment us, or elicit any negativity from us, is the genuine hallmark of a spiritual being.

All misbehaviour is an innate cry for help. On the one hand, we must protect ourselves with non-attachment, and on the other, we must respond to that cry with tolerance and compassion. The balance between non-attachment and compassion is unconditional love. Spirituality is totally, completely, and utterly about the alchemical transmutation of evil into love. To forgive that we might also be forgiven. Easier said than done. Yet, this is the gift, the challenge, and the blessing of evil, and the only way that love can prevail.

Madhai continued to give a description of his torment to Nitai. “All day and night I hear the cries of those I injured, and see the agonizing faces of those I tortured.” Madhai wept, calmed himself, and continued, “There is only one way that I can relieve myself of this agony. If I could only find the people I have harmed, and beg to be pardoned, I could bring some solace to my soul. But, where are they, and who are they?” sobbed Madhai. “Yet, I have a plan. I shall wait at the bathing ghats, where I shall meet all the men, women and children of the town. And there I can beg forgiveness of them all.”

Nitai agreed.

Madhai left the house of Srivas, where he had passed some days and nights. He was the most miserable of men, utterly unconscious of the crowd that his presence had drawn. Among them were men whom he had injured, who hated him and wanted their revenge. Yet, they did not approach; for when a tiger has just been killed, people do not dare rush to the spot. They had seen the tiger of Nadia in his powerful prime. How could they totally trust that he was, so suddenly, a changed man? They gingerly followed him from a respectful distance. One man pelted him with a stone. Madhai was, suddenly, snapped out of his reverie.

In the past, if anyone had ventured to assault him, that person would have been slain, or seriously debilitated. Yet, now Madhai—though struck—did not feel his equanimity disturbed in the slightest. He smiled…satisfied with himself because the assault had not sparked his temper. He now welcomed a portion of that punishment which was his due. Indeed, if the man who had thrown the stone had glimpsed his chastened face, or felt his deep anguish, he would never have cast it.

Madhai sat upon the banks of the Ganges, while the crowd gathered around him; he gazed at them, and they stared back. Madhai suppressed his tears, then sullenly rose: “Behold, Madhai, the Raja of Nadia. In my dumb, puffed up pride, I trampled everything sacred under foot. Will you now do me the favour of trampling me under foot?” He suddenly burst into tears.

The crowd was moved. Hatred of Madhai instantly vanished. They found sympathy for the man whom they had come to coldly observe.

“Kind sir,” said Madhai, falling at the feet of a bather, “I know not if I have ever harmed you. I know only that I am the world’s greatest sinner. I need your forgiveness. Please, at least, put your foot upon my head.”

The man at first could hardly recognize that it was the terrible city kotwal of Nadia. He hesitated—can he be serious? Is this really Madhai?

“Do you not recognize me?” continued Madhai. “Yes, it is a miracle, which has brought me here. The Lord wants the greatest sinner on earth to bear witness to his infinite mercy, and the choice has very naturally fallen upon me.”

The man was still wary. People like Madhai, who have never known self-control, who are willful and passionate, cannot suddenly be trusted. Possibly he is sincere, but how long will he remain repentant? Yet, Madhai had been saved; every fiber of his being bespoke of a man who had been graced—born again—the livery of God was upon him! A servant of God has distinctive features, which mark him out from others; he is gentle, he emits sweet fragrance, his voice is like music, and his company is soothing, ennobling and fascinating.

Madhai, shortly thereafter, became a potent bhakta, able to transmit the beauty of bhakti to others. “The greatest sinner on earth” was soon to be regarded as a saint. With spade in hand, he created a bathing ghat, which is still known, to this day, as ‘Madhai Ghat.’ Madhai lives on in his descendants, who remain devotees of the Lord, and are now proud of their ancestor—“the greatest sinner on earth”—who bore testimony to the infinite mercy and love of the Golden Heart-master, Sri Gauranga!

Chapter 18

Jagai and Madhai then clung to the lotus feet of Sri Gauranga with tenacity; yet, a foe still more powerful rose to oppose him and maltreat his bhaktas.

As predicted by Nitai, the Lord, in delivering the brothers, sent a powerful message of love and hope to humanity. People then flocked to him in hundreds and thousands, not just locally, but from the most distant parts of the country. Here is an ancient song, describing Gauranga’s magnetism:

The spotless moon of Nadia has risen to dispel all darkness. Now the whole universe is swimming in happiness. The sinner, the blind, the leper, and the lame, are flocking to him.

The genesis of the Renaissance is a spiritual revolution. The genesis of this spiritual revolution is, and can only be, the Lord, Gauranga! Yet, most of those dressed in the grand and stately robes of inauspicious karma, resisted the newfound joy of their neighbours, and remained outside of this spiritual vortex. As the numerical and spiritual strength of the bhaktas increased, the opposition to Vaisnavism very naturally increased also.

All castes, other than Brahmanas, continued to flock to the standard of the Lord, almost as one body. Some of the learned Brahmanas did also, but not the majority. His teachings remained contrary to their material interests. The brahmanas had enveloped all religious practices with mysteries known only unto them; other castes were led to believe that they had no other way of reaching the ear of God. The brahmanas lived by the profession of priesthood, and the other castes maintained them. The spiritual and intellectual progress of all other castes was thereby retarded, and the brahmanas were thus able to reign supreme.

The Lord taught that everyone, as a child of God, had equal claims upon him; that those who served him secured the greatest advantages, irrespective of gender, color, caste or creed; these sentiments, laid an axe at the very root of Brahminical superiority.

Yet, the Lord and his followers were not proselytizers, they attracted others mainly by example. Sri Gauranga lived as a humble devotee, and from him his companions learned the path of devotion to the Supreme Deities. He was a teacher to his closest bhaktas, especially when he revealed himself as Sri Krsna. Yet, he was not verbose, he taught in brief, simple words. Everyday he was visited at his house by vast crowds. Many just came to see him and pay their respects. This alone was often sufficient to give them a spiritual re-birth. Nevertheless, sometimes they would ask how to attain salvation?”

He would advise them to chant the Maha-mantra (the Great Mantra) constantly, day and night, in every time, place and circumstance; to assemble (men, women, and children) to perform kirtan. “If you only do this,” he would say, “our merciful maker will fulfill all your desires.”

Consequently his people were seen chanting the Maha-mantra constantly, even when engaged in the performance of household duties, and many began to perform kirtan in their own homes. Thus it came to pass, when the sunset upon Nadia, hardly anything was heard, throughout that great city, other than the sweet, musical sounds of sankirtan.

Bengal’s great mecca of learning, Nadia, was almost entirely transformed into a holy city of spirituality and kirtan. The leaders under the old regime found that they were rapidly losing influence. An ordinary man, hitherto, would have stood speechless and befuddled before a savant, now their presence was marginalized by the influx of bhaktas, whose hearts were entirely occupied by a sweetness, which the dry pages of academic learning could not afford. So the stagnant, oppressive order of the old school, determined to put a stop to the spread of Vaisnavism; when Jagai and Madhai reigned, they had expected to find in them champions, who were both willing, and able, to act against Nimai Pandit. Now that they had been appropriated, his opponents sought the help of the Mohammedan Governor, or Kazi, of this fair city!

Feelings between the oppressed Hindus, and occupying Muslims, were understandably bitter. The Governor was not, therefore, the best party to be invited to take sides in a purely Hindu matter. The opponents of the Lord took a shameful step—but, then, their vital interests were at stake. They approached the Governor (Nawab Hussain Shah), known as Chand Kazi, grandson of the then King of Gaur (Bengal). This young man was highly connected. In Nadia he had absolute power, and thousands of Pathan soldiers to enforce it.

The opponents of the Lord told him that the young pandit Nimai was destroying Hinduism, by his unorthodox behaviour, and that it was in the Governor’s interests to put a stop to it. “You are the Master of this town, and represent the sovereign,” they said. “It is therefore your duty to protect the Hindus.”

They argued that, according to the scriptures, God abides in the heart and must be addressed silently. The followers of Nimai Pandit, however, dance and make a good deal of noise when worshipping him. Such riotous behaviour not only disturbs the peace, but also alienates God, and could cause mayhem within the city. The opponents of the Lord hoped that if the Kazi, who ruled with an iron fist, could be induced to show his disapproval of the Vaisnava community, they would be intimidated into giving up their peculiar activities.

This was an odd proposal for an occupying Muslim Governor. According to the Muslims, the Hindus worshipped devils, and it was irrelevant to them whether they agreed, or not, in their mode of puja (worship). Yet, here was an opportunity of exercising authority in an area, which his predecessors had never broached. He further saw that many of the leading Hindus were for the suppression of Nimai, and he readily promised to take the matter seriously in hand.

The Kazi thus sent his troops to stop the kirtan. The city was huge, and his men found this a hopeless task. While kirtan was being suppressed in one quarter, the Vaisnavas in other parts of the town continued, and the quarter in which it had been suppressed, resumed as soon as they were left alone.

Yet, these harsh interruptions by the Kazi’s men caused great anxiety among the bhaktas. They knew not what to do. However, they didn’t like to disturb the Lord. They would be tolerant, and see whether the Lord would naturally respond to their suffering.

The continuing kirtan mocked the Kazi’s authority. So, one evening he invaded the city with “thousands” of his Pathan soldiers!

Bhaktas were beaten, kholes destroyed, houses broken into, and even looted. The Kazi marched triumphantly from one part of the city to another, promising dire penalties to those who would again sing kirtan! Yet, the Kazi avoided the higher bhaktas, and punished only those belonging to the lower orders!

The bhaktas were in utter despair. They were meeker than lambs. Their only offence was that they sang hymns, in the privacy of their own homes, with family and friends. So, they were finally compelled to beseech the Lord. To him they poured out their sorrows, how they had suffered at the hands of the Kazi, how he had prohibited kirtan by proclamation, and how he had threatened dire punishment to those who ventured to disobey his orders.

The Lord was not, however, the least ruffled by the bullyboy tactics of the Kazi. “Worship Sri Krsna with faith,” he assured, “and he is bound to protect you.”

Word flew from mouth to mouth, that the Lord had ordered them to continue worshipping Krsna as usual. Thus, they again flouted the authority of the Kazi and recommenced kirtan.

The Kazi returned to the city, accompanied by “thousands” of soldiers, and again enforced his will. Yet, he did not treat the offenders with as much severity as might have been expected. Indeed, the efforts he made to stop the kirtan were feeble; it seemed his heart was not in it. If the bhaktas had patiently held out, they might eventually have won, but the Afghans carried with them a reputation for cruelty, and their presence created abject fear. Plus, the social customs of the Hindus made it easy for the Muslims to intimidate them. (If a Muslim entered the house of a Hindu, the latter would, normally, lose his caste and became something of an outcaste.) The followers of the Lord were pacifists. They endured their suffering with great patience, but at length the continued threat of brute force succeeded in overcoming their spiritual unity. In short, the kirtan, day by day, grew weaker and weaker, and finally ceased!

Many distraught bhaktas again appeared before the Lord. They wanted permission to leave the city, as they could not live without kirtan, and the Kazi was too strong to make it expedient for them to ignore his prohibition.

The face of the Lord was likened to a full moon; it imparted joy to all those who beheld it. Indeed, it seemed to have been fashioned by a genius of consummate skill. It gave evidence that its owner was an intelligent, guileless being of infinite love. It was the most perfect face that ever was seen upon this earth. Yet, when the bhaktas recounted their sorrows and burst into tears, all his tenderness of expression disappeared. He then looked terrible—so terrible that the bhaktas feared to look at him!

“Does the Kazi mean to stop the kirtan of God?” said the Lord in omnipotent tones. “Let him then first stop me! Citizens, I mean tonight to do kirtan in every corner of this city. Let’s see how the Kazi will stop that! Gather here every one of you late this afternoon, and bringing with you a torch. Go proclaim my orders to all the devotees. Sripad Nityananda, please issue this proclamation of mine, against that of the Kazi, all over Nadia. Today, I shall annihilate the authority of the Kazi. Today, I shall inundate this city with a shower of prem, and wash away all opposition to the kirtan of the Lord.”

It came to be rumoured, among Nimai’s foes, that he would personally lead the kirtan, that very evening, throughout the city. Yet, they knew Nimai Pandit was accustomed to doing things in private. Apart for those present at the time the two brothers were saved, the general public had not witnessed a kirtan. “Would the reticent Nimai Pandit really throw all caution to the wind, and prance around in public?” wondered his antagonists.

They felt sure an intelligent man would see the folly of defying the Kazi’s authority—backed by thousands of brutal soldiers. Was it a ruse on the part of the Pandit? They took counsel of one another. “Mark my words, ” said one, “there’ll be no kirtan in this town tonight; ‘Saci’s darling’ will excuse himself on one plea or another.” If his opponents, for a moment, believed that he would really besiege the city with a massive kirtan, they would, no doubt, have hastened to the Kazi with that intelligence.

The followers of the Lord, however, trusting his word, were all willing to do his bidding, and to undergo any sacrifice that might be required. They passed the day in holy thought, with the expectation of passing a holier and more delightful evening following their master. They cleansed themselves, anointed their bodies with sandalwood paste, and wore bright garlands of flowers. The women put on their finest saris. The joy of the bhaktas exceeded all bounds. Would they not, on that day, possibly see the Lord pass by their humble abodes dancing? So they cleaned, beautified, and illuminated their homes. As they toiled they vied with one another in their holy zeal. In front of every devotee’s home jars were filled with sacred water and covered with mango leaves; some planted plantain trees in their front gardens; some decorated their outer walls with green branches, while others gathered cowries (small shells) and flowers to be showered before him—should he pass by their gate.

By late afternoon people began to flock, from all parts of the city, to the house of the Lord. His close companions filled the courtyard, and others, finding no place inside, assembled outside in the streets. They wore garlands of flowers and carried lamps. “If the father brought a lamp, so did his son.” Others, wishing to make more of a presence, brought their servants with lamps also. Some “wealthy bhaktas brought a thousand men carrying lamps.”

Though he had only revealed himself a few months earlier, the followers of the Lord already formed the largest group in town. Those who were indifferent, seeing their neighbours making preparations for the city kirtan, allowed themselves to be caught in the current of excitement, and they also began illuminating and decorating their homes. Eventually, even many of his opponents were obliged to comply. Family loyalties were oftentimes divided; a father might regard the Lord with skepticism, while the son adored him. Sometimes the husband was an adversary, while the wife remained a dedicated devotee. The result was that almost every household in that vast city made, at least, some gesture towards celebrating the grand event.

The followers of the Lord continued to zealously flock to him before dark, each wearing flowers, and carrying one or more torches. The festive crowd was immense. Gradually, others, who were not devotees, were magnetically drawn to the assembly. Indeed, the whole populous of the city was moved to swell the gathering, which had first filled the streets adjoining the house of the Lord, and then spilled beyond the entire neighbourhood. Inestimable numbers amassed. People found it hard to believe that the city of Nadia had such a large population.

As the sun began to set, the vast crowd whiled away the time in loud and joyous peals of “Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!”

The Lord was in his chamber. Gadadhar, Narahari and others were dressing him. He sat as a beautiful bride before a looking glass, submissive and patient—surrounded by fussing maids. They would not let him leave until they had dressed and adorned him to their complete satisfaction. They began to decorate his face with aloka (white paint) the Lord smiled wishing to be excused—yet they insisted. So, his dark and shining hair was combed and made into a chura (knot) like that of Sri Krsna. They wrapped him in an exquisitely beautiful silk dhoti, and a chadar (shawl) to cover his shoulders. Around the chura they arranged a wreath of delicate flowers. They made a large garland of bakul (fragrant flowers) for his neck, which reached almost to his feet. Thus arrayed, he was declared to have eclipsed Cupid himself, and was allowed, finally, to depart.

As the Lord entered the courtyard, the crowd parted, and gazed with wonder, admiration and joy. Gauranga in his new dhoti looked more beautiful than ever. Many began to shed tears of silent veneration, for as delicious delicacies draw water from the tongue, exceedingly beautiful sights draw water from the eyes. Others, in their excitement, announced the presence of the Lord with a flurry of “Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!” The people outside then knew the Lord had issued from his house and there was a sudden, euphoric, wave of enthusiasm.

The Lord surveyed his immediate followers, and smiled at their loyalty and glee. They were neatly dressed and anointed with sandal. They had all decorated themselves with garlands of flowers, and put on their musical anklets. Many were also equipped with drums, cymbals, bugles, horns, flags and streamers.

The Lord blew his hunkar (conch shell); its deep, resonant sound was heard far and wide, reassuring his followers that they had nothing to fear from any person, place, or thing, for he was with them. Thus they were instantly inspired with bhakti, new life, and courage. The Lord then sounded his hunkar again and again—further enthusing his followers. They were now eager to begin before nightfall.

The Lord then formed four kirtan parties. The first was put under the charge of Advaita, the second under Srivas, and the third under Haridas. The fourth, and last, remained under his direction. Nitai and Gadadhar were in his party. This was only the beginning, for subsequently hundreds of kirtan parties were formed. In each party were two kholes (drums) and about a dozen leading singers. Advaita and his bhaktas began singing and paraded onto the streets. The crowd opened a passage for them. No sooner had Advaita left, than Srivas’s party followed suit. After Haridas and his party left, the charming youth of twenty-four, dressed in a silken dhoti, and covered with flower garlands, issued from his courtyard to counter the ferocious Afghan leader—a commander of thousands of brutal soldiers, armed with swords and guns!

As evening approached, the torches were lit, and the whole town was illuminated. The concourse was so packed, that the residents of Nadia were amazed to find that many people within the town. Many mystics believed that the dwellers of heaven had taken human form to enjoy the inestimable privilege of dancing with the Lord. “The demi-gods must have come down, or else from whence did all these people come?” they wondered. “It is impossible for this city to support so large a population.” The torches carried by the Lord’s followers, along with the total illumination of the town, was a dazzling display of lights, which made the night appear like day.

In the midst of this vast assembly, the figure of the Lord was prominent; “everybody could see him, for he was the tallest and fairest of them all.” (Caitanya-bhagavat)

They passed alongside the Ganges, singing jubilantly, and following the Golden Heart-master. The dancing figure of Gauranga was like the full moon, beaming comfort and joy, indiscriminately, to all. He was no longer of this world. The vast crowd could clearly see a divine aura shining from his body, and a bright, crowning halo around his head. The Lord was swaying with uplifted arms, gazing upward, and singing: “Oh my Krsna, let my heart cling to thy feet!”

Presently, the Lord fell down in a swoon, and those who surrounded him were hushed into silence. When he arose, his gold-hued body was besmeared with dust, and his liquid, lotus eyes squirted tears of joy, which not only washed him thoroughly, but also drenched all those around him! Then for a few moments he bowed his head and shut his eyes, like one in prayer. He then gazed at those near him, and his look was so tender a thrill of pleasure rippled through their bodies.

When his enemies learned, that “Saci’s darling,” was publicly celebrating kirtan, they elected to inform the governor. First, they decided to witness the scene for themselves. What they spied held them speechless and spellbound; for they saw that the crowd was immense beyond calculation. They felt that their opponent, Nimai Pandit, carried with him a physical presence, which surpassed even that of the governor himself. Next, they saw that almost everyone was in raptures, and appeared devoted enough to do anything, however bold, for the sake of their Lord. Finally, their credulity was stretched to new levels, when they saw His gentle, flowing, illuminated being before them!

“This is the Pandit, the consummate scholar!” thought they, with utter amazement. They knew the Lord when he was an academic, and very little of him, after he revealed himself and returned from Gaya. They had no notion, whatsoever, that the object of their contempt, Nimai, had suddenly grown so inaccessibly high as to be beyond their reach. It was clear that if the Kazi was the nominal master of the town, the real master was the Pandit. Yet, what astounded them most was the unadulterated beauty of the graceful being before them, if he was a man, he was certainly higher and more magnificent than anything they had ever laid eyes upon.

They stood over-awed, penitent, and even afraid. “Lucky is Saci to have given birth to such an exalted being,” said one, changing his tune. “Lucky is Nadia, that Nimai is one of its citizens,” agreed another. “Is this Nimai Pandit, or a god in disguise?” asked yet another. They recognized that if he were not a god, he was, certainly, a servant of Sri Krsna. They quickly came to feel that God Almighty would not tolerate the harassment of one such as Nimai. Being so completely humbled, they fell prostrate before the entire procession.

The parade passed along the strand, by the river. Every house there was illuminated; every door was decorated with unique emblems of welcome. A stream of human beings flowed through the streets; yet, the ladies on the terraces, only had eyes for the Lord. As his dancing figure passed before their expectant gaze, they raised the joyful sound of “ulu ulu ulu,” and threw flowers before him with tearful eyes.

The innumerable men, who formed the procession, became increasingly intoxicated with joy, and under its influence behaved outlandishly. Strangers embraced strangers as if they were old and dear friends. Some besmeared themselves with dirt as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Others sat and wept inconsolably. Some sprinkled themselves with dust taken from the feet of anyone they met. Some twirled, with uplifted arms, in abandonment. Some prostrated themselves before anyone and everyone.

Others climbed trees and jumped from great heights to the ground, indifferent to the risks. A small group enacted the arrest of Yama (the demi-god who judges people after death, and hurls the unrepentant to hell). Since the Lord had come to redeem all humanity, they felt it time to dispense with the services of the lesser divinity, Yama.

Some, who happened to remember the objective of the massive sankirtan, broke branches from trees and made them into weapons. Some pictured the Kazi before them and began to beat him. Others, in the same imaginative manner, proceeded to bind the antagonists of the Lord, and bring them as prisoners before him.

The majority of the processionists, however, had totally forgotten about the Kazi. A beatific feeling of joy had taken possession of them, and they simply felt they were in the secure lap of the Almighty Father.

The crowd was immense and numerous kirtan parties naturally formed:

Some danced, some rolled upon the ground, some trumpeted their mouths with their hands, and some sang. Some jumped on the shoulders of others, some wept while holding the feet of others, some could only weep, and some embraced whomever they met. (Caitanya-bhagavat)

Someone who fancied that he was Gauranga, seeing that no one acknowledged him, said: “Where are you going? Are you in search of Nimai Pandit? Here I am Sri Krsna Himself, come to save humanity, all—all—all.” And then he danced, imitating the Lord.

Supernatural incidents occurred; angels were seen dancing, and beautiful, transcendental scenes manifested. Some sang perfectly who had never sung before; some spoke in tongues.

The Lord was dancing as only he could, a flowing incarnation of ecstasy. Suddenly, he took the road leading to the house of the Governor! Who, as a Muslim, lived outside the town. Everyone was quickly awakened to the prime objective of visiting the Kazi.

Most of the Brahminical opponents of Nimai now repented! The gorgeous figure of the Lord, dancing under the influence of devotion for Sri Krsna, softened their hearts towards him; indeed, it was impossible for any person, however jaded, to resist such a tender sight. The chroniclers of the Lord’s lila attest, that the only cynics of Gauranga were those who did not witness these divine happenings. Even the bitterest opponents of the Lord that took the opportunity—during this great city kirtan—of seeing him, had not only their hostility removed, but many were also inspired to become ardent bhaktas.

These opponents, having forgotten their rivalry towards Nimai, and suddenly imbibing a deep regard for him, did not like the turn events had taken. To the Kazi, as a follower of the Prophet Mohammed, Hari-kirtan was an abomination. Moreover, to confront him with such a large and spirited crowd, after the dissension that had already occurred, was tantamount to an attack upon his house. An encounter, between hundreds of thousands of unarmed Hindus, and thousands of ferocious Pathan soldiers, would be a bloody massacre. In the procession were their neighbours, friends, and, in many cases, dear relatives. They were now convinced that in Nimai they beheld a man of extraordinary merit, and an unparalleled bhakta. They could see that their former adversary was intoxicated with ecstasy—was it this feeling, and not common sense, that was leading him to the house of the mighty Kazi? They feared that this gifted and holy, young man, under the influence of bhakti, was dancing towards his own certain doom, and that they were the cause! Remorse seized them, and their greatest desire now was to prevent it.

Gauranga, with a crowd of elated followers, armed only with garlands of flowers, were courting hand-to-hand combat with regiments of brutal soldiers, who believed the destruction of infidels to be their sure passport to paradise. Yet none faltered, none deserted him, they clung to him, unarmed as they were, and risked everything!

They raised the shout of “To the Kazi.” Bhakti had softened their hearts and made them malleable. They were easily moved from one extreme feeling to another. Quickly they became filled with indignation at the conduct of the Governor. The cry of “mar Kazi” (beat the Kazi) was raised, and chanted by thousands of devotees.

The Muslim Governor knew nothing; those who had led him to oppose the kirtan never believed, until the last moment, that Nimai Pandit would actually venture to defy him. The massive kirtan had been organized that very afternoon. There was no previous arrangement. In the morning a few bhaktas had simply complained about the Kazi, and the Lord said that he would that evening lead a public kirtan, and asked the bhaktas to issue a proclamation to that effect. That was all he did. How was it that hundreds of thousands of people were immediately amassed under his banner? And how was it that these unarmed civilians were willing to risk their lives, and everything they held dear, for him? Is it possible, for a mere human being to attract a vast population, to one spot, with little more than a moment’s notice? None tarried; no one excused himself. The Caitanya-bhagavat triumphantly exclaims, that this city kirtan stands testimony to the super human power of the Lord. His will alone galvanized everyone into action.

It was about 9 o’clock in the evening, when the procession neared the home of the Governor. He came out to see what the commotion was; the whole town was illuminated, and somebody was leading a very big parade. Curious to know what was happening, and presuming that it was an elaborate and expensive wedding, he directed his men to bring him information. Three men went forth confidently, yet none returned.

As the procession continued its progress towards the Governor’s house, it struck him that it might be a kirtan party, for he could now hear the sound of drums, cymbals and clarions, mingled with faintly audible singing. This caused him to fly into a rage: “Do not these sounds indicate that this is the devil’s kirtan, and that the party belongs to Nimai Pandit? This is disobedience of authority! If my conjecture be not at fault, I must, this very night, eliminate these new Vaisnavas. What impudence! It seems they are coming to me! Go forth well-armed, arrest all those you can get hold of, and bring them here, even Nimai Pandit.”

Large numbers of soldiers hastened to carry out the orders of the Governor. He expected, at any moment, for the music to cease, it did not. It continued to grow louder, as the procession neared his house. The Governor now knew that it was a kirtan party coming to confront him!

This recognition not only further inflamed his rage, but also made him a little anxious. How was it that instead of avoiding him, they were coming to face him? How was it that his soldiers had not been able to arrest the progress of the procession? He suspected that his men had been overpowered. He hastily sent forward reinforcements; he sent everyone at his disposal to disperse the enormous crowd. Again, he expected the kirtan to cease; he expected to hear the clash of two opposing forces; he expected to hear the hymns of the processionists abruptly terminated. He was disappointed—the noise increased. They were now so close he heard them baying for his blood. Within moments he found his house surrounded by thousands of people.

The first few soldiers sent out, intercepted the procession at some distance from the house, and found themselves quickly swallowed up by the crowd. The clean-shaven Hindus were easily distinguished from the Muslims, who were almost always bearded. The Kazi’s men had no way of disguising themselves, for the blazing light of the torches had converted night into day. They were, however, not assaulted; indeed, their presence was scarcely noticed.

The armed reinforcements, expecting no resistance, were not fully equipped for battle. They were also swallowed up by the multitude, separated from one another, and rendered incapable of acting as one unit. Each soldier being engulfed and swept asunder, in a state of panic, threw down his arms. Yet, the assembly could do nothing without the Lord’s order, thus, no one was harmed in any way.

When the Kazi found his house surrounded on all sides, and heard the cries of “mar!” “mar!” (maim! maim!) he went upstairs to protect the women. The crowd entered his gates, and the most aggressive amongst them dragged down and demolished everything in their path. “A few plucked flowers from the garden, stuck them behind their ears, and began to dance.” (Caitanya-bhagavat)

When the Lord witnessed what the inflamed forerunners had done, he reproved them for their unruly conduct, and everyone was hushed into silence. He commanded forbearance, and the multitude obeyed without a murmur.

It was soon ascertained that the Kazi had retreated inside the house. The Lord then deputed some eminent men, well known to the Kazi, to find him and assure him that he had nothing to fear, and should come out at once.

The Kazi trusted the men who had come to summon him. He saw that the crowd had ceased their destructive behaviour. He knew that if Nimai Pandit had any hostile intentions, there was nothing to prevent him from exercising them. Besides, the Governor, alone with his family unguarded and unattended, had little choice. So, he sheepishly came out and stood before the Lord with his head submissively bowed.

The Lord, who was seated, rose as he approached, and received him with due respect. He then invited the Kazi to sit before him. Saci’s father, Nilambar, and the Kazi had been acquaintances; they had formed an artificial relationship, as is the custom in India. Indeed, the Kazi called Nimlambar his uncle, or chacha. This entitled Nimai to call him mamu (maternal uncle). So, the Lord addressed the Kazi thus: “How is it mamu, that when visiting your house, you, instead of giving me a welcome, try to hide yourself?”

The Kazi saw that he was not in danger; thus assured, replied in the same familiar manner: “You see nephew, I had given you offence. Your people were bent upon revenge. So, what could I do but endeavour to avoid their presence? Now, as it appears you have forgiven me, I have come without hesitation to welcome you.”

“Why did you stop my kirtan, which is only a way of worshipping the Deities? There’s nothing objectionable, or immoral, to it. You may not approve; yet, you permit others to worship God their own way.”

“I fully agree with you,” replied the Kazi diplomatically. “Let me tell you the whole story. But I am reluctant to call you nephew, for it seems that you can scarcely be a creature of this world, and must have come from on high.”

The Kazi had never seen Nimai in his shining glory. Though he had heard that he was regarded as, not only a prophet, but also as the incarnation of Almighty God. Yet, being a Muslim, he previously had no faith in the claim, and, therefore, had no problem in oppressing the Lord’s followers. It, however, came to his attention that the Pandit had manifested some miracles. He had even converted a few Muslims, though this was nothing extraordinary. Some Muslims, however, contracted a curious psychological phenomenon. They had gone to some followers of the Lord as enemies, and had returned bewitched, for they could not help uttering the name of Krsna. These men, in every instance, eventually became his followers. The Kazi—a somewhat intuitive man—was awed, and subsequently came to regard Nimai with apprehension, for he had the power of doing him mischief.

It was due to this, that he had treated the bhaktas with restraint. He had come to feel that there was something in Nimai which deserved respect, and that his most prudent course would be to leave him alone, but was compromised by his position, and the complaints of others.

The Kazi, who governed with the threat of brute force, now also found the Pandit to be a man of authority; a man of greater authority than himself! A man who had the devotion of hundreds of thousands—ready to sacrifice themselves at his bidding. He confessed himself defeated, and grudgingly admired him. Indeed, there was no longer any doubt in his mind, that the Pandit was really a Prophet of great powers.

While speaking he raised his head, and looked fully into his face; the compelling sight fascinated him. The being before him was irrevocably taking possession of his heart, and there was nothing he could do about it!

“I cannot address you as my nephew, let me call you Gaur-Hari (Fair-Krsna) the name you are called by your people. Well, Gaur-Hari, it was not all my fault that the kirtan was opposed. The leading Hindus of your town complained to me about you, and your method of worship. Also, my own people threatened me with the displeasure of the King of Gaur, if I allowed you to continue drawing such vast crowds. They actually conspired to report me to His Majesty. Then I was obliged to take action. Yet because I suspected you had the sanction of Allah, I did not use full force.”

The Kazi stopped, for while he was speaking, there was a commotion within his heart, which made him forgetful, incoherent, and restless. “There is only one God, and the Hindus call him Narayana. People say that you are he. Is it so? Please don’t deceive me.”

The Lord smiled the sweetest of smiles, and those who saw it were thrilled. To the question of the Kazi, he said nothing. Gauranga then caught one of his fingers, and finally whispered, “You have uttered the holy names of Hari, Krsna, and Narayana, so your sins have been forgiven.”

The effect of this pronouncement was instantaneous. The Kazi cried like a baby, tears gushed from his eyes and dampened his beard. “Yes, you are the Lord,” he sobbed, and fell at the feet of the Heart-master. “Forgive me and accept me. I am a great sinner, and rely upon your mercy alone for my salvation.”

The Lord implored him to desist, “The holy names of Hari have saved you. Now, I have a request to make of you. ” His voice became stern, “Cease meddling with the Krsna-kirtan.”

The Kazi replied with warmth, “Stop kirtan again? No, I shall never do so. But I will do this: I will leave a legacy to my heirs for the protection of kirtan. My curse will be upon their heads if they interfere with it.”

No sooner had the Kazi spoken, than the Lord rose, and gave a sign for the kirtan to commence. The Kazi attempted to follow the retreating procession, but the Lord restrained him.

The following morning the whole town was in disarray. The streets were strewn with streamers, shells and flowers.

Thus, the enemies of the Lord were thoroughly charmed. His bitterest rivals came to acknowledge him as the greatest bhakta that had ever appeared upon the face of the earth, others unreservedly accepted him as the Almighty Lord.

The Kazi was brought under subjugation in a miraculous way. The flower garland vanquished the sword! The Lord went to his house unarmed, humbled him before the world, and yet, completely won his heart!

The Kazi’s grave exists, to this day, in Nadia. It is held in great veneration by the Vaisnavas. Whosoever goes to Nadia on pilgrimage takes care to visit, and honour, this sacred site.

Ch. 19

It was at Srivas’s that Sri Gauranga first revealed his omnipotence. It was there that his first kirtan party was formed. It was there that his kirtan was usually held, and it was there that the Lord spent most of his time—when away from his own home. It was, also, at Srivas’s house that the Caitanya-bhagavat, this celebrated lila of the Lord, was written by Srivas’s grandson, Vrndavan Das.

One evening, the bhaktas, one by one, hurried to join kirtan at Srivas’s. For they knew that Gangadas would lock the gate, as soon as the lamps were lit.

The ladies usually sat upon the verandah, while the bhaktas sang and danced in the courtyard. On this particular evening, the verandah was ominously empty, for the ladies of the neighbourhood, who entered Srivas’s house through the back door, had come into possession of certain information, which caused them to boycott that evening’s gathering. The sky was a montage of pinks and oranges, the sun was setting, and the bhaktas were dancing in ecstasy. Shortly thereafter, a maid silently entered into their midst, and urged Srivas to follow her.

Srivas’s only son was ill with cholera, and it had taken a serious turn. But the Lord and the bhaktas were present, and Srivas was host. Srivas, therefore, left his boy to the care of his mother and aunts, assuring them that his son was in God’s loving hands. In fact, he firmly believed that same God was then with them in the person of Sri Gauranga. He had, therefore, deemed many things to be illusory, which ordinary people considered most real and important. Secure in the companionship of the Lord, he felt that there was scarcely anything in this world, which could give him pain or anxiety. Yet, Srivas sensed that his son was getting worse—but what could he do?

He entered the boy’s chamber just as his soul was leaving his body! His wife and others greeted Srivas with a suppressed outburst of agony. Yet, seeing his only son dying, while the Lord was visiting, strangely inspired him, “Why do you weep? Why do you weep for our son being about to pay the debt, which every one of us must pay? Let us be glad of his good fortune. Where is there a mortal so blessed as he? That being, whose name saves the worst of sinners, is dancing in our courtyard just at the moment that our boy’s soul is quitting the flesh. The greatest of saints would envy his good luck. Don’t be fools, crying when you ought to rejoice.”

Srivas paused, he then continued, “You are sentimental women—it is natural that you should shed some tears over our departing dear one. However, forbear a few hours, please. If you start wailing, it will interrupt the devotional mood. The kirtan will soon be over, and then you can give vent to your feelings. If you now disturb my Lord, I tell you, I shall throw myself into the Ganges, and put an end to my life also.”

The ladies, and his brothers, did their best to acquiesce, and all sat silently around the lifeless boy, while Srivas hastened back to the kirtan party, and, as if nothing had happened, with uplifted arms, joined the dance, singing “Haribol!”

Eventually, the sad news was discretely leaked to one of the bhaktas. The current of his joy received a check, as he paused to discover what Srivas was feeling. He saw Srivas before him merrily dancing! He learned that Srivas had enjoined his family to keep the matter a secret, lest the information should taint the pure flow of ecstasy, which the Lord was then enjoying. With this information in his possession, he again studied Srivas to read, if possible, his heart. He failed to find any trace of sorrow! It seemed that Srivas was enjoying the kirtan just like the others, and that his bereavement had not touched him in the least.

Another heard the news, and he too stopped to see how the blow had affected Srivas. Then another. They gazed at the Lord and saw that he was dancing with his usual vigour, his golden form dispersing glory and gladness to all. The bhaktas, however, stopped one by one, and the sound of the kirtan quickly ceased.

The Lord then returned to his normal state, as if he had just awakened from a dream, and gazed curiously at his bhaktas. “How is it that I do not feel any joy today? How is it that I feel so ill at ease?” The bhaktas gave no reply. The Lord again asked, “How is it that my heart is weeping? Can it be possible that something tragic has occurred?” And he looked at Srivas.

Srivas replied, “You, my Lord, the life of my life, are here, transforming into gold the dust of my courtyard by the touch of your lotus feet. Any personal tragedy is of no consequence.”

“Alas! It is true, my Lord,” divulged Advaita. “A great misfortune has befallen the pandit. His son has died.”

“His son died!” exclaimed Gauranga. “When?”

“Seven or eight hours ago,” Advaita replied. “About nine this evening.”

The Lord then looked deeply into Srivas’s eyes and said, “Srivas! Thou hast today won over Sri Krsna; it is such devotion alone, which can reach the Supreme Deity.” And then he sobbed, “It breaks my heart to think of parting company with such noble souls—such devoted bhaktas.”

It was then Srivas wept, “My Lord, I could suffer ten thousand such bereavements rather than see tears in your eyes. I kept it secret lest it should pain you. Be consoled my Lord, the matter does not grieve me. Why should it? Are you not before me? It is most auspicious that my son died while you were dancing in our courtyard. I can hardly express my gratitude.”

“Yes,” said the Lord. “A servant of Sri Krsna has no sorrow, he cannot possibly have any sorrow. However, neither you, nor I, are here to enjoy. We live to remove the misery of others as much as is possible. We have no time to dwell upon our own malady. Srivas, you have set an example by which people will profit in future ages. You have been challenged by the greatest of misfortunes, the death of an only son. Yet, it has brought you nearer to Sri Krsna, and made you happier than before. Does not this show that a servant of the Supreme Deities has no misery? Your example will reveal to humanity the spirit of a sincere bhakta. Alas, I must, however, speak some words of consolation to the mother of the child.”

The boy’s body was carried out to the courtyard, as the ladies and other relatives followed, quietly weeping; it was then placed before the Lord, and everyone surrounded him.

The Lord then commanded the dead child to speak. The soul of the boy than re-entered his body, and he said: “I am quitting this body for a better existence.” The boy, addressing the Lord, said, “May my soul cling to thy lotus feet.” Then, the soul again relinquished the body.

Everyone was astonished. The father and mother of the boy wept with joy.

The Lord then addressed Malinee and Srivas: “Rest assured that I, and Sripad Nityananda, will take the place of your departed son.”

Then Srivas said, on behalf of his brothers, and all members of the family: “We are eternally thine, in sorrow and in happiness.”

This devotional lila of the Lord, which was now drawing to a close, had one profoundly saddening effect upon the bhaktas. What did he mean when he said, that it broke his heart to part with such noble company?

Only months after returning from Gaya, the first phase of Gauranga’s master plan had been successfully inaugurated and implemented. The insurmountable and irresistible power of Krsna-bhakti (devotion to the Supreme Deity) had been clearly demonstrated. He had transcended brute force with “flower power.” Huge numbers of people showed themselves willing to lay down their lives for him. He had dismantled the Brahmin controlled caste system. Indeed, he recognized people only by their spiritual qualification, and not their creed, class, colour, or gender. Female education was virtually non-existent before Gauranga’s advent. Hindu women, for the first time ever, became Gossains (empowered to initiate others). His presence was magnetic, magical, and visually stunning. He had begun a revolution in the land: ethically, morally, intellectually, and spiritually. He had healed the sick, and raised the dead. He had revealed his omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotency, and an omnisweetness that was too intense for mere mortals to bear.

Humanity was at a turning point. It was the beginning of the 16th century. The Renaissance had only just been initiated. It was the time of Piero de la Francesca, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and, of course, many, many, more. A juggernaut had lifted humanity from the morass of the Dark Ages. Behind this massive physical metamorphosis we can now see the quintessential cause, the underlying metaphysical catalyst.

Upon his birth the vibration of the planet was changed. There is no explanation for the Renaissance other than this. Upon that auspicious day, the golden corona from the Golden Heart-master, Gauranga, enveloped the earth, and initiated the mighty force of planetary transformation, which came to be known as the Renaissance, and it is he that still nurtures and sustains this greatest of gifts to all humanity.

Now that he had demonstrated the potency of bhakti-yoga, he was on the verge of making an unprecedented sacrifice. His life, at this time, was well nigh perfect. He resided with a mother that doted upon him, and a beautiful wife—who lived only to adore him. The charity from his mission, and the service of his bhaktas, amply met all of his needs. He played, and sung, and danced, and all the while remained ecstatically preoccupied, hopelessly devoted to his Lord. And now he was choosing to abruptly terminate this idyllic life, and to walk a much rougher road, in order to begin the second phase of his mission: Krsna-prem (pure love for the Supreme Deity—Krsna).

While today, the second wave of Gauranga’s Renaissance is almost upon us.

A disease must first run its course, then, with the proper measures, the patient’s malady might ease. Only now is much of humanity beginning to recognize from whence the disease, or torment, is coming. And, ultimately, it is coming from ourselves. As we awaken from the slumber of denial, we see that the heartless regime we have bought into does not serve us, does not serve our beautiful planet, and does not serve our Loving Creator. We cannot blame. We must take responsibility. Ultimately, our environment, and our reality, is corrective and just!

These are the elementary lessons of the Earth School.

The fundamental rule which governs all existence, the inescapable law of karma, has been woefully neglected—for every action there is, indeed, an equal and opposite reaction. To take, without wishing to put back to the soil from which we have taken, serves only to bind our hearts with torment. If we persist we will devolve into tormented souls; finally, torment is all we will know, and all we will emanate! Yet, the scriptures, and our divine preceptors, assure us that Gauranga’s window of Golden Opportunity will last for ten thousand years. In short, things had to get worse before they could get better. Love seeks to put back to the soil from which it has taken; to pay its dues; to free hearts from the torment of negative karma; to help souls shine; to love and be loved in return. And, the good news is, the industrial revolution has unwittingly laid the infrastructure for this Golden Age. Information travels from one side of the planet to the other at the touch of a button. This particular information will be readily available, enlightened people are going to realize that it all makes perfect sense, and is urgently necessary.

Ch. 20

One day, out of the blue, the Lord addressed his bhaktas with these words: “Let us have a dramatic representation of Krsna’s pastimes.” His companions did not understand. Though drama had always been a part of Hindu culture, the only dramatic works then in existence, were the creations of poets, who thrived in ancient times, but dared not tamper with Sri Krsna.

The Lord assured them that a dramatic performance of Krsna’s lila might assist in the soul’s purification, by evoking the All-attractive Couple and their realm, Vrndavan—the heart’s coveted setting.

It was settled that the performance should be held at the house of Nimai’s maternal uncle, Candrasekhar. The bhaktas were curious to know all the details, and requested the Lord to give each of them a part.

“That will not be necessary, “ replied the Lord. “When the time comes everyone will know the part they are meant to play.”

“Surely,” insisted a bhakta, “the actors will need a script, and rehearsals—and some kind of direction?”

The Lord affirmed that when the time arrived, everyone would not only know what part to play, but also what to say, and how to act. “You will be like puppets in the hands of a magician,” he said smiling. “Someone else will make you, effortlessly, do whatever is necessary.”

The bhaktas still pressed for more information.

“Well, I shall be Radha,” the Lord revealed. “Gadadhar will play the part of Lalita. The respected Nityananda will represent Radha’s other lady attendant, Barai. Haridas will come on stage as the Kotwal (Constable) of Goloka, and Srivas will act the part of Narada, the saint.”

Lalita is Radha’s first maid. Barai is a relative and the eldest of all her attendants. Narada is a great saint, devoted to Sri Krsna, a jovial man of impeccable character, the most ardent friend of the weak, the sinner, and humanity in general.

Sri Advaita wondered if he also would be required to act.

“You?” the Lord paused. “It will be your duty to play the lead. You shall be Sri Krsna!”

Seeing that the bhaktas were still exceedingly curious to know more, and that they were not at all satisfied with the scant explanations given, the Lord, with playful intrigue, divulged that he—as Radharani—would appear in full female attire!

“I intend to appear as the most captivating damsel the world has ever known, therefore, dear Advaita, beware!” He smiled provocatively. “I assure you, only those who have been able to bring their passions under absolute control can gaze upon me and not go completely mad.”

“I have never prided myself upon mastering the senses,” confessed the old saint mournfully, “for I know that I have not been able to bring my passions under complete subjugation. It seems, therefore, I had better not witness this play.”

“I too must decline to be present,” admitted Srivas. “I, like Advaita, have not succeeded in quelling my passions.”

“Never mind,” the Lord replied jocularly. “I shall give you the requisite strength to resist my charms.”

All necessary paraphernalia was procured, including false moustaches, wigs, artificial trees, bushes, flowers, creepers, and costumes. The big courtyard of Candrasekhar was converted into a stage. A greenroom was prepared for dressing. The yard was covered with a huge canopy, and rugs were laid for the audience to sit upon. Saci and Visnupriya were invited, along with Malinee (the wife of Srivas) and her three sisters-in-law, and the wife of Murari.

At the front gate stood Gangadas, who, after the guests arrived, was enjoined to allow no one to enter. Vasudeva Acarya was entrusted with the duty of dressing the actors. Pandarik Vidyanidhi, Candrasekhar Acarya, Srivas and his three brothers were the chorus. All actors, including the Lord, entered the greenroom to be dressed. The singers, the musicians, and the audience remained in the theatre.

The performance began with music from a small orchestra. Everyone prayed for Radha and Krsna to bless all humanity, to grace the performance by their presence, and the presence of all their friends in Goloka. The chorus evoked sweet feelings of bhakti, heightened by joyous peals of “Haribol!”

Haridas appeared for the prologue as the Kotwal (Constable) of Goloka. He carried a big club and sported a full military moustache. First, he knelt and worshiped the stage with flowers. Then he beseeched Sri Krsna to transform the stage into the real Vrndavan to heighten the devotional mood. (Indeed, in India, the custom is never to begin any ceremony, or work, without first consecrating it.) While Haridas offered up his prayers, tears of joy bathed his cheeks.

Haridas then announced himself to be the Kotwal of Goloka.

Haridas. I have come here to do my duty. Wake up my friends! The Lord is good. The demands that he makes of us are few. Wake up! Life is short. No worldly possessions will accompany you after death, neither riches, nor honour. Think of Krsna, talk of Krsna, worship Krsna, and live in Krsna.

Everyone responded with inspired shouts of “Haribol!”

After the official opening, Haridas reappeared as a narrator, and addressed the audience thus: I went this day to visit Lord Brahma, and there met the respected saint Narada, who asked to see a dramatized lila of Sri Krsna. The saint said that he has desired to see this for a long time. I am now wondering how best to fulfill his wish.

Haridas (to Mukunda). You have heard what Narada has requested. Please make the necessary arrangements.

Mukunda. Narada’s desire surprises me, for he is the greatest of munis (saints). The munis, by austerity and yoga, merge their souls in the light the Great Soul who is formless and One with everything. Inferior people cannot worship the Great Soul of souls. They can only contemplate the Supreme Deity in human form. How is it that Narada, the greatest of saints, desires to see a lila with Sri Krsna set in pastoral Vrndavan?

Haridas. Don’t you know what our holy book, the Srimad-Bhagavat, says? Even great munis, who have, by yoga and austerities, succeeded in effecting a blissful union with their souls and the fountain of All-good, still hanker to see the human form of Sri Krsna. They attain to his lotus feet by contemplating his lilas—for they know that form identification is an eternal function of the soul.

In India the worshippers of God are divided into two classes, viz., the Advaitabadis and Dvaitabadis. The former take their stand on the affirmation, “He and I are One.” The latter, that the soul has also a separate existence from that of God. The former, by austerities, purify their souls and at last affect the illusion of merging themselves formlessly with the original Soul of the universe, Brahman, and thus enjoying Brahmananda (the bliss of merging with the Great Soul of our universe).

The Dvaitabadis, believe that soul has form, and therefore see God as a beautiful being in order to personally relate to him. They approach him through his lilas, songs, and mantras. By this method, they create ardent feelings in their hearts, and, eventually, are able to truly realize, “thou art mine, and I am thine,” and to love him accordingly. They experience Premananda (a loving personal relationship with a loving personal God) rather than Brahmananda (the blissful illusion of undifferentiated oneness). The Dvaitabadis know that the ecstasy of Krsna-prem (personal love for Krsna) is infinitely superior to the ananda (bliss) from Brahmananda. For they realize, if the Creator desired only oneness, Creation along with individuality would be a pointless exercise!

Haridas. My daughters have gone to Vrndavan. They’re so young, and Vrndavan is replete with danger. I’m anxious about their safety.

Mukunda. Why? They’re under the protection of Barai. (Radha’s senior attendant.)

Haridas. Barai? She’s too old to be of any use.

(Narada appears with his vina—a perfect musical instrument)

Srivas represents Narada, accompanied by a servant, Suklambar.

The Lord said that it would not be necessary to rehearse the actors, for all the divine beings that perform the lila in Vrndavan would come to their assistance. Narada, the greatest of yogis, is also a bhakta who, by his heart’s devotion, acquired Krsna-prem (personal love for the Supreme Deity), as described in the scriptures. Srivas being alike in nature, and character, to Narada was taken entire possession of by him. Saci suspecting that it was not really Narada, but Srivas, asked Malinee if her husband was acting. She replied, “He must be, but it is simply impossible for anyone to recognize him as my husband!”

Narada (to his attendant Suklambar). I came merely to see Krsna’s pastimes performed; yet by some mystical magic we have entered his transcendental abode!

(Enter Gopis—milkmaids)

Narada. Who are you maidens?

A Gopi. We are the gopis of Vraja, and are going to worship Siva. Which holy saint are you?

Narada. I am Narada, humble servant of Sri Krsna.

(The damsels bow to the saint)

The leading maid, Lalita (Gadadhar), who looked more beautiful than the full moon when rising, bursts into tears.

Lalita (sobbing). If you’re that great Saint Narada, you can surely win for me the lotus feet of Sri Krsna, who’s now flourishing in Nadia as the son of Saci.

Narada. Thy desire shall be fulfilled. Thou shalt obtain him. Beautiful ladies, if you belong to Vraja—the home of my dear Sri Krsna—you must know how to dance. Will you favour me with one of your dances?

Lalita (a gopi) brimming with delight, began to dance to the music of drums and cymbals; while the constable, with cudgel in hand, leapt around and around the courtyard, wildly crying: Worship Krsna, talk of Krsna, think of Krsna. Time flies. Krsna is all love.

An attendant of the gopis reminded Lalita not to tarry. She continued upon her way, dancing in a state of ecstasy, like one who had, indeed, secured the bhakti of Lord Krsna.

Suklambar (to Narada). Let’s follow them to Vrndavan and see the pastimes of Krsna.

Narada. Why, is not this Vrndavan?

Suklambar. Thakur! Have you lost your mind? What mad notion leads you to believe that this is Vrndavan?

Narada (blinded by sublime tears). You’re right. My Lord Krsna makes his people mad—mad with joy. Let us go to Vrndavan. Help me please, for I cannot see my way.

Suklambar (annoyed). At this rate we’ll never reach Vrndavan.

Narada. Why? What’s the matter?

Suklambar. If you dance for an hour, every step of the way, it will be a long time before we reach that sacred land.

Narada. We’re going to Vrndavan where Sri Krsna dwells. How can I resist the enchantment that fills me? In Vrndavan he’s known to the gopis who attract him by their love alone. While ascetics after hundreds of years of austere yoga, can’t have even a glimpse of his lotus feet. Such is Vrndavan, and we’re going there. How can I then resist dancing?

(From a distance Sri Krsna plays upon his spellbinding flute)

Narada. There! The flute of my Lord pours forth its delightful melody. Sri Krsna is no doubt on his way, for the fragrance of his body has preceded him, and is enlivening my heart. If I meet him, I will not be able to watch his lila. Already I am fading. Let us view everything from a hiding place.

(As Narada exits, Sri Krsna enters accompanied by cowherd boys)

He is dressed in a silken dhoti, beautifully bejeweled, and carrying his flute. Krsna, the eternally youthful lover of the gopis, possessed Advaita’s old body. The austere saint of seventy-six was gone, and the charismatic Krsna had manifested in his place, which caused successive peals of “Haribol!” from the male spectators, and “ulu ulu ulu” from the ladies. They all began to observe critically the infinite grace of his features, his limbs, and his gestures.

Sri Krsna (to Sridam cowherd boy). Of all the places in the universe, Vrndavan enthralls me most. Just see how all things combine to make one elated. The flowers delight the eye by their beauty, and madden the nose with their fragrance. The birds please the ears with their sweet singing. The light breeze soothes the body. All is peace and harmony. It is the very abode of love!

Sridam. Yes, Vrndavan is sweet; yet, me thinks, thou and thy sports are sweeter.

Sri Krsna. Thank you. But where is Madhu Mangal? I don’t see him here?

(Madhu Mangal, a young brahmana enters)

Madhu Mangal (gasping for breath). Friend congratulate me! This brahmana (meaning himself) would have been murdered; only by virtue of past meritorious acts did I escape this terrible calamity. I saw an old hag leading a number of exquisitely beautiful milkmaids to Vrndavan. I thought her a witch, and feared she would sacrifice me at the shrine of Siva. So, I ran and ran, and here I am!

Sri Krsna (to Shubal, another cowherd boy). What, and whom, does the fool mean?

Shubal. Perhaps, Sri Radha, accompanied by her maids, is coming this way!

Madhu. Is that so? If Srimati Radharani comes here, she will surely fall into the hands of Krsna.

(Enter Sri Radha and her maids)

Lord Nimai was in the greenroom, utterly oblivious to the drama on stage. Vasudev Acarya was dressing him in the attire of a female, when suddenly the Lord transformed into the beautiful princess—Rukmini! Immediately, she wrote with her fingernails upon the ground, the very same seven couplets that Rukmini, according to the Srimad-Bhagavat, had addressed to Krsna.

Rukmini writes: It is improper for a maiden to address you so boldly. Forgive my immodesty, yet where is a girl in this universe who can resist your charms? Please grant me this prayer, that I may lay my head at thy lotus feet, and thus realize the goal of my life.

Rukmini’s tears washed away the writing, causing her to inscribe the lines again and again; while doing so she was addressing an imaginary brahmana messenger.

Rukmini. Go brahmana; tell him I’m dying. I cannot divulge everything in such a short note. It’s so difficult for a maiden to reveal her heart. Yet, if our sacred books be true, he rescues those who seek his lotus feet.

While the Lord was thus “raving” as Rukmini, Krsna’s flute music reached her ears, and transformed her into Radha—a thorough, complete, entire Radha.

Sri Krsna played his flute from a secret bower in Vrndavan, which summoned Radika musically by name. None heard this sound except Radha; she with her maids then hastens to meet him.

Radha (to her maids). There! There! Listen to his enchanting flute. He is beckoning me. Those who care for the lotus feet of my Lord may follow me. I have no choice. I must go. I cannot wait. Leave your household duties, please, for it is the Lord who calls us. Let nobody follow me who is afraid of scandal. We must sacrifice everything for our Lord if we want him to be ours!

Radha began her Abishhar (advance) towards Sri Krsna in Vrndavan. Lalita, her closest maid, stood to her left, Barai stood to her right, and other maids followed.

Radha’s entrance into this Dan-Lila (Toll Pastime) dazzled the audience. The whole cast seemed to be made up of transcendental beings. All her maidens looked stunningly beautiful, Lalita surpassing them all—but one: The Mohini (The Enchantress) who was fully actualized. Her breathtaking beauty enthralled the entire audience and cast.

Radharani was imbued with all the noble virtues of womanhood to a supreme degree: coy, loving, guileless, and as the predominated moiety she is equal to Krsna, the predominating moiety. She is the purest and fairest of all women, and personifies nature’s splendor.

(Sri Krsna with friends hides behind some flower bushes)

Radha. Dearest Lalita, we have everything for worshipping Siva, except fresh flowers.

Lalita. Well, in Vrndavan there is certainly no dearth of flowers.

Radha. Yes, but I’m afraid of the roaming, wild asses.

Madhu Managal (aside to Sri Krsna). Friend, do you hear how impertinent these damsels are?

Sri Krsna. I don’t follow?

Madhu Mangal. You don’t understand? Obviously, you are the supreme dullard of the universe! Otherwise, why, being the Lord of the Universe, would you come here to attend upon cows? Can you not grasp that these uncivil lasses call us, your followers, wild asses?

Radha (to Lalita). Let’s go pluck flowers from the lavanga creepers.

Barai (to Radha). Granddaughter, if you do, you risk falling into the clutches of Sri Krsna. That fickle fop favors fragrant flowers from that creeper?

Lalita. Well, if our dear Radha should fall into the silky hands of Krsna, you surely shall secure her release.

While they were plucking flowers a honeybee began to hover round the lovely face of Radha.

Radha. Lalita, help me, this bee is a nuisance!

Lalita. If you are troubled, call Sri Krsna for he affords protection to damsels in distress.

(Radha blushes)

Madhu Mangal (to Krsna). Friend, opportunity knocks, for you are summoned, though indirectly. Yet, who dare summon you directly?

Sri Krsna. From this secluded place, I can drink in Radika’s grace. Why rob myself of this delight? Mark how the bothersome bumblebee has increased her vivacious verve. Yet, methinks, my sudden entrance might give her face another rosy flush.

(Krsna comes out from hiding)

Sri Krsna (to Lalita). There is a want of maidenly meekness in your mood! Your guileless face belies your brazen boldness. Your wanton ways are void of all respect. What right have you to pluck your posies here, to trample tender bushes under foot? Who gives you leave to trespass upon my land?

Barai. Krsna, thy sense of justice was always warped. Vrndavan is as much ours as thine.

Madhu Mangal. Hush you old and senile crone, you have lost the wisdom to prevent your maidens from going astray.

Barai. Yes, I am a mature matron, and you are nothing but a babbling brahmana babe.

Lalita (to Madhu). You silly ass, who called you here? What right have you to interfere?

Madhu Mangal. As true as Krsna is Lord of all Vrndavan, I am truly his preacher and his priest.

Barai. Krsna, if you care for these blooming blossoms, you will gain nothing by your strife. Be gracious to the finest flower Radha, and offer her your life.

(Barai compels Radha throw her flowers at Krsna)

Radha (amused). My good lady, look what you’ve made me do in haste? I plucked these perfectly pink posies; now they’ve all been laid to waste!!!

Barai. Let us leave, and end this prattle, there’s no chance here of a fair battle.

Radha. We can’t now turn and take flight; to worship Siva is our sacred rite.

Madhu Mangal. Don’t expect to stay for free. You entered Vrndavan—you must pay the fee.

Barai. A toll? What toll, that’s rather grand? Who dares ask money for this hallowed land?

Cowherd Boy. The Lord of Vrndavan, Sri Krsna, it’s his decree, that whosoever comes here must pay the fee.

(Krsna stands face to face with the blushingly, beautiful Radha)

Sri Krsna. Pay the fee, for you owe it to me.

Radha. But I am poor, sir, and late is the hour.

Sri Krsna. Then give thyself, for thou art the fairest flower!

(Barai steps between Krsna and Radha—Krsna pushes her aside and tries to touch Radika)

Finally, Sri Krsna and Radha confront each other, their desire piqued; yet, none but the holiest of holy can witness it, and the audience, who had assembled at Candrasekhar’s, alas, were not all qualified. Also, the actors portraying them are both male! So, all those who had descended from Goloka, Sri Krsna, Radha, and others instantly vanished!

Sri Krsna left and only Advaita remained. Barai left, and there remained Nityananda, etc., etc. Hitherto, all the actors were irresistibly led to do and say things of which they had no previous knowledge. When they were free from possession, by the dwellers of Goloka, they stood as if dazed and stupefied!

However, the multi-faceted Lord alone remained in the role of an exalted female; but now, she was in the mood of the Matriarch of the Universe. To worship God as a lover, as the Gopis did, is not immediately within the capacity of most people. To worship God as a mother is far easier.

The face of the Lord then assumed a maternal air; she mysteriously impressed upon the yearning hearts of all those present, that she was their dear mother. Somehow, they felt themselves as children. This natural love, which all of them had forgotten, now returned with overwhelming force. “Mother, mother, it’s you!” they cried, and surrounded the Great Soul in the mood of the Divine Mother.

This grand lady, entered the temple of Candrasekhar, and sat upon a cushioned seat as the Mother of the Universe. She affectionately studied the faces of all those who surrounded her, as a doting parent would her children. She then placed Haridas, who was nearest, upon her lap as easily and as naturally as a mother and child.

Haridas sat supremely contented as her baby boy, safe and secure within his world.

All those who surrounded the Divine Mother, feeling as children, began to plead: “Mother, take me onto your lap.” Some caught hold of her sari, and some tried to willfully climb upon her.

The female figure appeared to be suckling Haridas. Presently, she put him down, and took up another. Haridas danced in ecstasy. She then took up another and another, and in this manner she satisfied them all. As children they all began to dance, with joined hands, round-n-round the Divine Mother. While the beautiful lady, who sat upon the dais, looked upon her children with eyes that beamed and glistened with love.

The light of dawn broke the spell. They gazed at one another as if roused from an indescribably pleasant dream. They felt wrenched from the warmth of a mother’s embrace and abruptly returned to the stark twilight of a harsher world—thus, as children, they wept.

Advaita, lost and confused, retreated to Santipur resolving to preach jnan (the knowledge that leads only to the impersonal liberation of Brahman).

The Lord then departed from his uncle’s home, leaving behind him a wondrous, transcendental, performance replete with amazing insights into the duality of the soul (acintya-bedabheda) plus astonishing evidence as to his/her own dual and exalted identity. Murari Gupta states: When the Lord exited the house of Candrasekhar, there remained a cool luminosity that resembled the rays of the moon. This light stayed in the house for seven days and nights, and then gradually faded.

Nityananda and Srivas state in the Caitanya-bhagavat: The light seemed to be composed of the mingled rays of the sun and moon, combined with electricity.

Narahari (the Lord’s constant companion) writes in the Caitanya-mangal, that the Divine Light “imparted gladness to the heart.”

Ch. 21

One morning, shortly thereafter, the Lord bade Nitai to accompany him to Santipur, to pay a necessary visit to Advaita; who had with Haridas retreated there, to his native town. With Mother Saci’s consent, the two friends sallied forth upon their journey. Santipur is upon the banks of the river Bhagrathi, just ten miles from Nadia. When halfway, approaching the village of Lalitpur, they passed an isolated hut.

“Who lives here?” inquired the Lord.

Nitai having frequently traveled this road knew the inhabitants: “A sannyasi and his wife.”

A sannyasi with a wife—strange creature!” muttered the Lord with incredulity. (A sannyasi is one who has given up all worldly aspirations and forsaken society.) “Let us call upon this pious man,” said the Lord.

The occupant of the hut greeted Nitai (who was also a sannyasi) as a brother; then invited them both to accept what hospitality he could afford. Nitai, who rarely rejected a meal, accepted the invitation.

The Lord bowed to the sannyasi in the customary manner, and the sannyasi graced him with these words: “May you be blessed with education, wealth, a dutiful wife, and obedient children.”

“As a sannyasi you should offer more substantial blessings,” said the Lord.

The sannyasi, highly offended, peered into the Nimai’s face, and seeing only a young man, handsome, guileless, and peaceful, he replied more gently than intended, “Why do you object to my blessing? Have I not offered you all the things for which men most hanker?”

“As we are here on earth but a short while, worldly blessing can do no lasting good. From a pious man, I would expect the blessing of bhakti (devotion) to God,”

“I have sojourned all over India, paid homage at the most sacred of shrines. Is it not impertinent for a young fledgling to come and tell me my duties?” rebuked the sannyasi.

Nitai, who appeared to sympathize, said, “Why brother, do you care what this brash young man says? Know your worth!”

The host was mollified, and suspected the sannyasi before him (Nitai) of leading his impolite friend astray for his own purposes. So, without pursuing the matter further, he left to fetch refreshments. Returning, he placed a selection of fruits before his guests. The sannyasi then asked Nitai whether he should also fetch some ananda (bliss). Just then his wife called him outside, and the Lord inquired what he meant by ananda. Nitai smiled and said, “He meant liquor!”

A sannyasi, as one who has forsaken society, is prohibited from even gazing upon a female’s face. Yet, here was a man posing as a sannyasi, cohabiting with a woman, in a cozy hut, who was addicted to alcohol! In truth, he was only a Tantric sannyasi (one adhering to Tantric doctrines of the Vira class).

When the Lord heard that ananda meant alcohol, he hastily departed, leaving his food unfinished, and beckoned Nityananda to follow.

To avoid the pursuit of a Tantric sannyasi, with ananda in his hand, the Lord dived into the Ganges, followed by Nityananda, and with a few strokes of their powerful arms they quickly reached the middle of this broad and formidable river. Both were possessed of great physical strength, were excellent swimmers, and the current was in their favor; thus, they continued swimming the remaining five miles of their journey. However, being the rainy season, dangerous alligators lurked within these waters; yet, Nitai and Nimai had no fear of them.

As they swam Nityananda heard the Lord muttering: “So, Advaita has resolved to forsake bhakti (the heart’s devotion) and teach jnan (mental speculation). I will today cure him of his stupidity.” Hitherto, Nitai had no idea why the Lord was eager to go to Santipur. He accompanied him merely because he had been directed to do so. Upon hearing the Lord speak so boldly, he saw to his amazement that he was in his Divine State. Indeed, though only his head was above water, Nitai could see the light of “a million suns” playing around his body. Until then, Nitai had been his usual happy self, yet the words of his master, uttered in the wrathful mood of God Almighty, caused him to wonder about the fate in store for poor Advaita.

Upon reaching Advaita’s bathing ghat, Gauranga, a strident figure of gold, enveloped in subdued light, briskly walked the short distance to his home. The Lord audaciously entered, and at once confronted Advaita, who was surrounded by his disciples: “Tell me, which is better as a means of salvation BHAKTI or JNAN?”(the heart or the head)

Upon the morning after the play (Dan-Lila) Advaita had pondered: “We have heard of men being possessed, that is what appears to have happened to me last night. A dramatic performance took place; yet, I remember nothing I said, or did, but gather, from those who were present, that I acted in an extraordinary manner! The cause was Vishwambhar (Nimai) who is endowed with supernatural abilities…it appears I became a puppet in his hands, for he made me do whatsoever he wished.”

Advaita was seventy-six years of age, and had, hitherto, pursued a pedantic spiritual life. He had worshipped God with tulsi leaves and flowers, and chanted well-established, orthodox hymns and mantras. After playing the role of Krsna he decided it would not be prudent for him—towards the end of his days—to discard all his former theistic ways and methods, and adopt others. Bhakti is good, he mused, jnan is good also, in fact most respectable Brahmanas say it is better. The bhakti that Vishwambhar is teaching has made us act like mad men—dancing wildly with uplifted arms, while musical anklets jingle upon our feet!

Nimai clearly possesses occult powers. Nevertheless, Advaita believed it foolhardy to accept him as the incarnation of God upon such slender evidence. Reasoning thus, he had determined to disassociate himself from Gaura’s doctrines and practices altogether; for Advaita found, to his dismay, that he was forgetting all he had learned, that he was being made to do what he would willingly have never done; for, ultimately, he was being made to lose his identity! So, he had resolved to make a final struggle to release himself from the spell, which the young son of Jagannath had cast upon him. He observed Nimai was always humble before him, so he decided to defy him, boldly, even to his face. With this resolution he began preaching impersonal doctrines to his followers—asserting that all the sastras (scriptures) had given preference to jnan.

There was a difficulty. In the absence of the Lord, he had made these resolutions before; yet, in his presence he had always failed to stick to them! He was afraid that Vishwambhar would again try to ensnare him. But was he not a man who had devoted fifty years of his life to spiritual cultivation? If Vishwambhar again comes to convolute with his belief, he would oppose him!

Some of Advaita’s disciples then arrayed themselves against Nimai; yet, Haridas, greatly perplexed at his old master’s sudden change of allegiance, had remained staunch in his adherence to the doctrines preached by his new young master.

Lord Nimai was aware of these things, and, accompanied by Nitai, had journeyed to Santipur in order to draw Advaita back into his fold. When he abruptly accosted Advaita and asked, in the midst of his disciples, which was the better as a means of salvation BHAKTI or JNAN? (the heart or the head). Nimai was in his Divine State, a light surrounded him, his countenance, and the authoritative tone of his voice, showed superhuman will and power. Advaita being determined to resist this influence, said, “Of course jnan is superior to bhakti.”

The Lord replied, “Yes, I know your present position. I have come here to cure you of your folly.” Then raising his hand to Advaita began to strike him!

Nimai was a young man of twenty-three, of immense physical size and strength. Advaita was a small man of seventy-six. Those present, namely, Advaita’s disciples, might have been expected to protect their old master from the unprovoked assault of the younger upon the weaker. Yet, they did not—could not! Advaita’s wife, however, hastened to her husband’s aid. (The Lord had blessed her as scarcely any woman was ever blessed. He usually addressed Sita as “mother” and she had come to regard him not only as the Lord God, but also as her dear one.) But while her husband was being assaulted, all previous regard vanished—her bhakti for the Lord, her love for him, even her belief that he was Lord Krsna, left her! She rushed forward wildly shouting: “Why do you beat him? What’s he done to you? Aren’t you ashamed—attacking a brahmana, and an old man? Forbear in the name of everything sacred! You will slay him, and you’ll have to answer for his death!”

Seeing that her words were making no impression upon Nimai, she turned to Advaita’s followers. “He is killing him! What cowards you are, not moving a finger to save your old master. Shame on you!”

The Lord had felled Advaita and was striking him blow after blow. Those present did absolutely nothing to protect him. This appalled Sita. Yet, the old man’s followers saw something that kept them from interceding.

They saw that Advaita was not moving a finger to defend himself, or even uttering a groan of pain, or protest. He was passively submitting to the assault as if he were in urgent need of it. His face beamed, and after each blow he uttered these words: “Ah, delightful!” “These are blessings indeed!” “Ah, my Lord, now I feel how good and merciful you are!” Almost every blow delivered by Gauranga was followed by some such utterance. It was quite obvious to the onlookers that the attack upon the saint was infusing him with ecstasy! Indeed, this ecstasy, at length, so overpowered Advaita that he could no longer remain in a passive state. When he showed that he had had enough chastisement the Lord desisted.

Then the saint rose, and began to dance with uplifted hands, exclaiming, “This is mercy indeed! Come ye dwellers of heaven and of earth, and witness the grace of my Lord. I had forsaken him, yet he has come, even to my house, only to win me back again.”

The Lord went out onto the verandah. Everyone could see he was in his Divine State. He sat down, and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “If you must resort to jnan for your salvation, you have no business praying for an Avatar.”

Advaita went out to the Heart-master, and kneeling before him, caught hold of his feet and touched them with his head.

At that moment Nimai returned to his mundane state, and saw the old saint before him. He never permitted Advaita to bow to him when he was in his human persona—he then revered Advaita as a father, or spiritual guru. Yet, Advaita was kneeling before him like the lowest of servants. The Lord’s aura had disappeared, and his countenance—which had worn a commanding expression—now assumed a benign simplicity. He saluted Advaita abashed, and implored him never again to pain him by showing such exceptional honour!

Advaita hastily let go of his feet. Nimai, as if awakened from a deep trance, looked upon the face of the saint to enquire what had happened? Everyone remained silent. Nimai, however, faintly recollecting what he had said and done, cast an imploring look upon the saint, and muttered, “Tell me Acarya, I beseech you, have I in any way offended you?”

Advaita and Nitai exchanged glances and smiled. Advaita assured Nimai that he had done nothing improper.

Nimai, however, appeared not quite satisfied; he again addressed the latter with folded hands and humbly requested, “My lord Acarya, do not differentiate between me and your son, Achyoot. If I in any way offend you, you must reprove me, as a parent would a delinquent child.”

Advaita assumed the tone of an elder, “Of course, of course…but, you seem to have soiled yourself with mud. Perhaps we should all go to the Ganges and bathe.”

As Nimai rose, he spied Sita watching him, and said, “Mother, I must confess, I am very hungry. Be quick in making your offerings to Krsna. Upon our return I must have prasad (food offered to the Deities).”

The lady, eager to serve, quickly began to prepare the meal. Forgotten was the day’s altercation and misgivings towards her son, the Lord. She had used harsh words, but now she was again filled with affection. As for Nimai, he, seemingly, had no knowledge, whatsoever, of his recent assault upon her husband!

Had it been an ordinary assault, Advaita would have felt the blows, and would have resented the humiliation—in the presence of his most important disciples, his children, and his wife. Advaita suffered no pain; on the contrary, the beating only infused ecstasy into his heart! Sita was initially outraged; yet, clearly, she came to feel ashamed. For when the Lord bade her to prepare the meal, she scurried off to cook the choicest dishes for her dear guest.

In short, Advaita, before the assault, doubted the existence of a Personal God. When he rose to his feet, after the assault, he was a complete and utter believer! Internally, Advaita felt his chastisement established not only that Nimai was the Lord, but also, that his deference towards him, as the elder, was mere formality.

Nimai, along with Nitai, Advaita, and Haridas plunged into the Ganges. They spent some time playfully splashing one another within the sacred river. Upon their return Nimai entered a temple, where a statue of Radha and Krsna was enshrined, and prostrated himself before them. Advaita also prostrated himself, and in such a manner that his head almost touched Nimai’s feet. Haridas then fell prostrate immediately behind Advaita. When Nitai entered the temple, seeing his friends laying one behind the other, remarked, “Here is a bridge by which to reach Vrndavan.” The comment caused Nimai to rise; he was shocked to see Advaita at his feet, and protested. (This temple and its Deities then became objects of especial reverence to all Vaisnavas.)

In one of the Hindus’ oldest adages, death is likened to a mysterious river, and the maddened state of humanity is likened to a marketplace. The Transcendental Worlds are on the other side of the river. Leaving the mundane marketplace, an enlightened soul crosses over the river of death, and becomes ‘Transcendentally Situated’ within the Realm of the Deities.

At this time Pandit Gauridas, a learned and venerable saint, who after leaving society, was living on the opposite bank of the river Ganges from Santipur, in the town of Kalna. Gauridas had heard of the advent of the Golden Avatar, yet had never visited him, or tested his credentials.

One day he was approached by a beautiful youth of noble countenance. The sight staggered him; the young man looked like a celestial being—carrying an oar!

“I’ve crossed the river from Santipur, and have brought you this oar,” said the Heart-master.

“What for?” asked Gauridas.

“So that you may row men across to the other bank,” replied the Lord, and handed the oar to Gauridas.

“To take the oar is to accept serious responsibility.” He gazed at the figure before him hesitantly. “I must have the means to do the work entrusted to me.”

“But of course,” said the Lord.

“Who is he that is so bold as to speak thus?” Gauridas enquired slowly.

The Lord replied that he was Nimai Pandit of Nadia.

Gauridas bowed, took the oar, and accepted Gauranga as the Lord of his life. Gauridas became one of the Lord’s most celebrated worshippers. (The figures of Lord Gauranga and Lord Nityananda, erected by Gauridas at Kalna, exist to this day, and pilgrims visit from all parts of the world to pay homage.) The oar still exists in the temple at Kalna. Gauridas performed the task given unto him with credit; many were deeply touched by him and his followers.

This young man of twenty-three never forgot his quest for humanity; a quest he had the power to perform with as much ease as drinking water. An enlightened person who has the gift of leading a skeptic, or a sinner, to redemption is a touchstone—makes gold out of iron, a bhakta of a fallen soul. Lord Gauranga not only redeemed sinners, but also created touchstones out of them; he caused them to repent, inspired them, and empowered them to serve.

If the act of devotion is usually beyond the ken of an ordinary person, the deliverance of learned dogmatists is still more difficult. Yet, the Lord delivered many of them simply by a touch, or a look, and transformed them not into prim and pious people, but into touchstones able to inspire others!

Chapter 22

When the Lord inaugurated kirtan, he chose to do it privately, because it was an altogether novel way of worshipping, and there was a risk to the bhaktas of being interfered with by an unsympathetic public. “There can be no Realization without Concentration,” and concentration in the presence of a critical element, would be difficult. It is concentration that affects communion of the human soul with the Supreme Deities (bhakti-yoga). In a kirtan, this focusing of the mind can be easily affected, even in the midst of others—if they are agreeable companions. Music rouses the soul; the unruly mind is then soothed and settled; the devotee, with little effort, then succeeds in tasting the mellows of the devotional mood.

Thus, the Lord was strict, from the beginning, in not allowing outsiders to scrutinize his devotional activities. Yet, it occasionally happened that an outsider succeeded in infiltrating. A devout man once persuaded Srivas to allow him to witness one. Srivas knew him, and thought the Lord would not mind the presence of such a pious person. Yet, the Lord, as soon as he began to dance, stopped, and said: “How is it I don’t feel the requisite ecstasy for this dance?” He then addressed Srivas, “Pandit, is it possible you have admitted a stranger?” Srivas immediately knelt before the Lord and confessed to having brought someone without permission. In justification, he explained that the stranger was known to be very pure and religious, and that he subsisted entirely upon milk. (Ascetics in India not only eschew meat and alcohol, but also, sometimes, bread and rice.) The Lord smiled and said, “Let your good man go elsewhere. This is no place for one who wants to attain to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna by living upon a liquid diet!” And the man was thus expelled.

Yet, the ascetic left beaming with delight; briefly witnessing the kirtan, and coming in contact with Gauranga, was sufficient to give him a re-birth. He entered only as an austere man, and left as a full believer. Having taken only a few steps, after exiting, he returned, fell at the feet of the Lord, begged forgiveness, and sought his blessing. The Lord said he knew that he was a sincere seeker, and he had been expelled only to teach a lesson; namely, that the Supreme Deity is not to be acquired by any external austerity (such as existing only upon milk).

When Nimai returned from Gaya, his adversaries daubed him a mad man, for he was then incomprehensible and unapproachable. Step by step he gained ascendancy over his former (savant) personality, and succeeded, at last, in bringing it under complete subjugation. Eventually, mild-mannered Nimai became a worthy companion. Yet, it was impossible to get overly familiar with him when in the mood of Lord Gauranga. Upon resuming his gentle, unassuming, human state, the bhaktas could again fraternize with him, and then almost forget that he was the Lord.

Only when he had fully transcended his worldly persona, could a marked change be perceived in his new and humble attitude. Thus Nimai taught his companions, by personal example, how to attain God by bhakti. The bhaktas by imitating him eventually came face-to-face with Sri Krsna. Finally, the time arrived for him to teach prem, and this initiated another transformation within him. He became again more meditative, more introspective, and more distant. He began missing kirtan. He avoided the company of his friends, and showed an extreme desire to be alone. Ordinary fevers last for seven days, in a serious case the fever instead of being relieved after the seventh day, may worsen on the eighth. Similarly, when Nimai was gradually attaining to yet another state of being, he was overtaken by an entirely different and more powerful influence.

He refused to speak, even about Krsna, and finally ceased to attend kirtan parties altogether. He ate, slept, and walked around in a state of complete oblivion. His bhaktas had to resume their guard over him. When he went to bathe in the river, his bhaktas began again to accompany him. At dinner, a bhakta would encourage him to eat. They did not venture to ask him questions, and he did not volunteer information. His moods often changed. Sometimes a celestial joy brightened his innocent face, which then showered gladness upon all those who had the good fortune of being near him.

Sobs and a profusion of tears sometimes interrupted his silence, and if Saci asked what the matter was, she would get no reply. It was evident that he was utterly overwrought—his heart had been “stolen” by another! Gradually, the flow of his tears began and then increased until eventually: “Whether in the town, or out of it, tears ceaselessly began to course down his cheeks.” (Caitanya-bhagavat)

The earnest inquiries of friends did not rouse him from his malady; yet, the name of Hari, or Krsna, still had a powerful effect upon him. If the names of Sri Krsna were uttered, he would either give vent to his grief with loud cries, or fall down in a deathlike swoon. While he was returning from the bathing ghat, a boy, just for fun, yelled the name of “Hari.” The Lord collapsed as if dead, and had to be carried home by his bhaktas.

One day, believing that Nimai was in his normal state, Saci asked, “What has possessed you?” She received no reply; whenever there was one, it was short and not always to the point. Thus, even in his apparently normal state, it was difficult to wean him from his malady.

The performance of daily kirtan was not, however, stopped, despite the Lord’s now regular absence. Advaita, at his request, was now leading the kirtan. One morning, the kirtan at Srivas’s did not end at dawn, as usual. The sun rose, yet Advaita was unwilling to stop. Indeed, he had almost gone mad. He was rolling upon the ground in anguish and fervently repenting: “Forgive me, my Lord, forgive my doubts. How happy are they who can believe! Wilt thou, my Lord, never grant me faith?”

It was almost noon before Advaita managed, with some effort, to calm himself. From Srivas’s verandah he then bid his companions to go to the bathing ghat, and promised to follow them after a short rest. There he sat, a picture of utter despair, covered with dust—his eyes red from crying. Sadness overwhelmed him, and while gesticulating, “My Lord save me,” he fell down from the verandah to the yard.

The Lord was sitting alone upon his own verandah close by, his personal bhaktas having also gone to bathe. He was utterly unconscious of his surroundings. Yet, in a mysterious way, he became aware of Advaita’s distress. He regained consciousness, and ran with lightning speed to his friend’s aid.

Upon reaching Srivas’s house, he saw Advaita rolling in the dirt. The Lord touched his head to announce his presence. Their eyes met; Advaita’s bespoke of unutterable agony and despair; those of the Lord infused hope and courage. “What ails thee? I am here in response to thy call. Ask what thou wilt,” said the Lord. Advaita arose but remained silent, not knowing how to answer. “Tell me what it is you want?” continued Gauranga. “I thought you had received all that you wanted.”

Advaita mustered sufficient candor to say: “Give me faith. I cannot yet prevail upon myself to cling to thee. My faith in thee comes and goes of its own accord. Much as I wish to cling to thee, my mind does not obey me, and that is the cause of my misery. Your other bhaktas are sporting joyously in the ocean of faith, I am being tossed about and pestered by doubts, which engulf my heart.”

“Can you suggest any means by which you think you would be satisfied?”

“Yes, I have thought of something, reveal yourself to me in the form of Visvarup.”

In the Bhagavad-gita, Sri Krsna showed the Visvarup form to Arjuna; his form as the Universal God—the God who created the universe out of himself—the God who pervades all space. The Vaisnavas, who worship Radha and Krsna, are well aware that Visvarup is as large as the universe; yet, if one is proud of such academic knowledge the false ego shuts out the higher realization.

To strengthen Arjuna’s faith, Sri Krsna assumed the form of the Universal God. Arjuna saw before him a being whose eyes were innumerable, whose heads were innumerable, whose hands were innumerable, and whose feet were innumerable. He saw that the being had no beginning and no end. Arjuna began to tremble, and he felt a faintness coming over him. Though he knew he had nothing to fear from this awful figure, for it was his dearest friend—still, he could not bear the sight. He shut his eyes and prayed to Sri Krsna to again assume his pleasant human form.

In this revelation an insight into Vaisnavism is given: To cultivate a personal relationship with a personal God, God must approach humanity in a loving human form to elicit human affection.

Advaita asked to see the vast Visvarup form of God, because he believed that only God could manifest it!

“Very well, let us go into the temple,” directed Nimai in his Divine State. They both entered the temple, where Gauranga first revealed himself, and shut the door. The Lord’s body began to exponentially increase in dimensions. Advaita started to lose consciousness. “Look! Look! Don’t be frightened,” shouted the Lord.

Nitai, having just returned to Srivas’s, heard the Lord shouting, “Look! Look!” from within the temple—but the door was shut. He knocked. The Lord permitted him to enter. Nitai then also saw the form of Visvarup! He also felt faint, so the Lord at once withdrew his mightiness and appeared before them in his usual lovely form.

Advaita’s despair was supplanted by indescribable ecstasy; he took the hand of Nitai and they both began to dance!

The Lord returned home, and back to his former state of introspection. Gadadhar, Narahari, and his other companions, continued guarding him day and night. This new mood of the Lord meant that he was metamorphosing! The pleasant persona of Nimai was succumbing to an influence, which was day-by-day gaining ascendancy over him. Once he was completely under its power, he again began to stabilize.

Nimai’s first change began when, returning from Gaya, he was embraced by Krsna, at the city of Kanai-natshala, and was thus instantly smitten by him, and thereafter taught bhakti (devotion to Krsna).

The greater work of teaching Krsna-prem (love for Krsna) was initiated when, one day, he went to the river to bathe, and again saw a youth of dazzling beauty, Krsna, leaning against a kadamba tree. Nimai was besotted like Radha! He then began to regard himself as Radha; internally he became Radha. He started to forget that he was Nimai, the son of Saci—that mundane personality began to dissipate within him. He then perceived himself as Radha, who had gone to bathe in the Jamuna and had seen Sri Krsna. The Ganges was perceived as the Jamuna; there were splendid flowers blooming upon the banks, and it all appeared to be Vrndavan to him. Thus he, as Radha, saw Krsna, flute in hand, in Vrndavan upon the banks of the Jamuna!

Radha, as Nimai’s new perception of himself, was the root cause of his malady. The Lord’s companions expected him to speak, act, and think as Nimai. He was withdrawn and did not recognize his companions, for he was becoming Radha in Vrndavan, in love with Krsna—he therefore sought to find the handmaidens who attended her.

It took many weeks for him to stabilize. Even when he had completely transformed into Radha, his companions still did not understand. They watched closely, and, at last, made the discovery that Nimai had gone, and Radha had arrived!

It seems the Lord betrays all the symptoms of Radha’s love for Krsna. (A song by Narahari)

Narahari’s only service was to attend upon the Lord, he was whole-heartedly absorbed in him; the Lord was, therefore, subjected to his constant scrutiny. What he saw, he describes in his songs:

My Lord Gauranga is utterly unconscious of the external world. Indeed, he cannot distinguish night from day. Sometimes he laughs, why nobody can say. Sometimes he asks, “Where is my beloved Krsna?” Sometimes he shivers. Sometimes he tries to fly to his beloved. Sometimes he asks, “Will you lead me to the Lord of my life?” Sometimes he dances in delight. Then his mood changes, and he sobs, “Oh, my beloved!” Thinks Narahari: My Lord betrays all the symptoms of the love that Radha bears for Krsna.

This lila is highly significant, for bhakti and prem are the only means of attaining a personal relationship with the Supreme Deity. Radha is the supreme example of this mood; she not only loves Krsna, but also adores him in a way that transcends all human experience, for Radha is both equal to him, and a part of him.

Ultimately, the Lord became Radha to show humanity the nature, and expression, of her love for Sri Krsna, that we might also learn to love him. However, the intense love and hankering that Nimai, as Radha, showed for Krsna, is that of a Supreme Deity—the female moiety.

Lord Nimai is not a myth; therefore, Radha and Krsna are not myths either. Clearly, it is safe to assume that Radha does exist, for she was actualized fully through the Lord. When he (in the mood of Radha) felt that Krsna was not with him, he expressed an anguish that had never been portrayed even by the fondest of mothers at the death of an only son, or the fondest of wives at the death of their beloved husband. For the sake of Krsna, both in joy, when in union with him, and, in sorrow, when in separation from him, he died “a hundred deaths” everyday. He fell into death-like swoons repeatedly—one following another—resulting from both an excess of joy, and of sorrow. Occasionally, these swoons carried him to the gate of death. He would lay unconscious for hours, sometimes days, without any sign of life.

In short, he did as Radha is alleged to have done, as described in the Srimad-Bhagavat. Thus, he felt the purvarag (total attraction) of Radha for Krsna; he made his basak-saja (sojourn) as Radha; he performed the Dan-lila as Radha, and, at last, as Radha he entered the Rass-lila (ecstatic adventure). As the female expression of the divine couple he passed through all the moods of ardent, romantic love—many never before conceived of within the confines of mundane experience.

At one point Sri Krsna, after making love with Radha in Vrndavan, goes to Mathura, leaving Radha disconsolate, passing her days and nights in grief. Here the pangs of separation carried her almost to the brink of death. The Lord, after performing all the lilas enumerated above, from purvarag to rass, finally arrived at the stage of Radha’s separation from Krsna. As Radha he remained in this condition of bereavement for a considerable time; indeed, the Lord passed most of his life upon this earth in that distracted state.

“Where is my Krsna?” “Who has stolen my Krsna from me?” “Where is the friend who will bring back my Krsna?” “The world is dreary without him.” “How can I live when he is gone?” With these, and similar moods, he passed his turbulent days and sleepless nights. He wept frequently, and when overwhelmed he fainted. One night he railed at the moon, “Why do you torment me? My Krsna is not with me.” Once he looked upon a blooming flower and said, “Thy beauty is only torment, for Krsna has forsaken me. Go to one who has Krsna, and the inclination to appreciate your delicacy.” He sat upon the banks of the Ganges—which he fancied to be the Jamuna—and thus believed that Krsna was on the other side, in Mathura. He gazed intently upon the opposite bank, hoping that Krsna would appear. Then he clasped the neck of a companion and sobbed, “My Krsna is good; he cannot bear to see the misery of others. I know him well. If he knew that I was slowly dying for want of him, he would surely run to me.”

Sometimes he would take offence at Krsna’s indifference, “Thou hast stolen my heart, and now that I am helpless, thou hast forsaken me; is this worthy of thee? People call thee merciful; yet, thou hast no heart, and I was a fool to deliver myself unto thee.” Then he would remember that he had spoken disrespectfully of the Supreme Deity and he would fall upon his knees and exclaim, “Please forgive me, my Krsna. Thy absence has made me lose my senses.”

Saci, Visnupriya, and his friends, were, of course, bewildered and perplexed; they knew not what to do. They tried in every way to rouse him. Visnupriya would sit by him and utter words of comfort. Saci wept and begged her son to take pity upon her. What everybody failed to do was, at last, partially accomplished by a trifling, and rather ludicrous, incident!

Krsnananda was a fellow-student of Nimai’s in the grammar tol of Gangadas. He, after completing his education, became the leader of the Tantrics, and acquired the title of Agamvagees. Most Tantra is a mixture of occultism and religion, which functions—externally—within this primal prison (Durga). Vaisnavism seeks to fulfill one’s desires—internally—upon the supramundane platform. Nevertheless, Krsnananda was India’s leading authority upon Tantra.

Krsnananda had never known Nimai in the mood of the Golden Avatar; he had, of course, heard rumour of it, and thus looked upon Nimai, his followers, and his doctrines, with utter incredulity.

One day he decided to pay him a visit—to dispute the peculiar activities that he was now advocating. He boldly entered Nimai’s courtyard. The Lord was sitting upon the verandah, surrounded by his bhaktas. This was an opportune moment for Krsnananda to smite the Pandit in the presence of his dim-witted followers. Yet, the Lord would not fight, and could not be made to fight. For he was then Radha, forgetful even of the presence of his bhaktas and surroundings.

When Krsnananda looked upon Nimai, he was puzzled. He had known the strident savant of former days; now his guileless face, and gentle expression, quickly quelled his pugnacious pride. Indeed, Nimai’s face seemed so innocent, and looked so pathetic, he was moved to give up the idea of a debate altogether, and instead, wanted to give the distracted youngster some sobering advice.

Of course, it was not expected that the Lord would listen, or give any reply, but wonder of wonders, on this particular occasion he did. Yet, there was some confusion, for Krsnananda addressed the Lord as Nimai Pandit, of Nadia, whilst the Lord replied as Radha, of Vrndavan! The Lord fancied that Krsnananda was a servant of Krsna, from Mathura; he, as Radha, was disinclined to favour everybody, and everything, in connection with that place—which had stolen and detained her Krsna.

“Return thou to thy master!” the Lord said harshly. “I am resolved never to follow in the wake of Krsna. Has he sent you to collect me? I will not go. He is heartless and cruel.”

Krsnananda found his words outlandish: “Pandit! Fie!” he barked. “It is blasphemy that you are speaking. Don’t talk of Krsna in that disrespectful manner!”

Krishnananda was perceived as one that couldn’t possibly have visited with a good motive. The Lord snatched a stick and shouted, “Get thee away, or I shall make thee.”

When Krsnananda saw that Nimai, a young man of twenty-four, of Herculean proportions, was threatening to assault him; he, an intellectual, who had probably never—in all his days—handled a weapon, thought that his last moment had arrived, with a shriek, and a loud cry for help, he ran for his life. Upon scurrying all the way home, he found himself breathless, and in the midst of his followers. After recovering some composure, he told them his plight, and ended by declaring that he owed his life solely to having fled!

Neither Krsnananda, nor his associates, had any high opinion of, or good feelings towards, the Pandit. This altercation roused their spirits. “So the fellow who has become crazed, and starved for want of food, is a god!” quipped one. “Let us put an end to his frolics, and give him a sound thrashing,” suggested another.

The Lord was well nigh perfect. He looked a prince. He was worshipped as God! His home was full of the finest things his bhaktas could provide, and thus he was an object of envy; therefore some people distained him. So, if Krsnananda had actually succeeded in harming him, there were many who would have been glad.

When the Lord rose to chase Krsnananda, stick in hand, the bhaktas sought to restrain him. When the Tantric pandit screamed and fled, the shriek jarred upon the Lord’s ears—jolting him back to his normal state. He threw down the stick, and, looking around in confusion, said, “What is this mad act I’ve committed?” Upon realizing all that had transpired, an unutterable anguish darkened his lovely face.

He sat as Nimai Pandit, penitent. He said nothing, nor did the bhaktas venture to console him. This was a new experience for the Lord; for he had never felt such shame. Now, he knew he had erred; guilt was gnawing at his heart. Thus, he remained stunned for some time.

When he arose, he silently walked to the banks of the Ganges. The bhaktas quietly followed, and sat with him. The Lord was pensive. Suddenly he burst into loud, tormented, laughter!

“The remedy has proved worse than the disease,” he lamented. Shortly thereafter, he rose and quietly returned home. Utterly silent, and in a state of deep remorse, he passed several days.

“What did the Lord mean by, ‘The remedy has proved worse than the disease?’” asked one bhakta.

Mukunda woefully explained, “It means that the Lord will forsake us.”

“That cannot be,” said another. “We won’t survive his separation, and it is not possible that he, who loves us so well, will kill us.”

“Don’t be so sure,” rejoined Mukunda. “Remember what he said upon the day he made Srivas’s dead son speak—that his heart was rent at the prospect of parting with such noble company. There is no doubt that he will leave us to serve a greater purpose.”

The Lord, ending days of silence, said to Nityananda, “Sripad, have you heard what they are contemplating in town? To give me a thrashing! Have you not heard?”

Nitai bent his head in sorrow, for he had heard, but gave no reply.

“Yes, I know what they’re planning,” continued the Lord, “I also know the party. Advise me, what should I do?”

Nitai could give no reply.

The Lord continued, “If I renounce society, and becoming a sannyasi, and beg alms at the doors of those who now bear ill-will towards me—that will surely disarm them. Then they will not only forget their ill-feelings towards me, but will also accept Harinam (the holy name).”

Nitai could see that the Lord was not fielding a suggestion, but giving expression to a clear course of action. His face became pale. He stammered, “Lord, don’t leave us. Those who think of violence towards you are brutes. Think of us, and think of your mother. If you forsake us, everyone of your followers will surely die of a broken heart.”

“Do not blame those who do not like my ways. I live in the lap of luxury. I have fine garments, delicious food—everything that appears to make worldly life enjoyable. Many people will never accept salvation from a pampered person. Yet, I have lived as a householder for two reasons. Firstly, I had to show that such a life is not incompatible with the culture of prem and bhakti. Secondly, that as no one is so well served as I by my friends, it would be ungrateful to abruptly leave. So, I was looking for an opportunity, like the one that has auspiciously presented itself, in order to show that, to accomplish my mission, I must leave society. I live as a householder to please you, my mother, wife, and friends—as a result some people have not accepted Harinam (the holy name). Now, dear Sripad, counsel me; what am I to do? Shall I, to please you, remain in society, or give you the great pain of renouncing it, and save those who would not otherwise accept Harinam?”

Nitai remained silent, he could not reply. He understood what the Lord was proposing—he himself would do whatever it takes to save humanity. Though he knew that he would follow the Lord wherever he went, the thought of him becoming a homeless wanderer, a mendicant, with only a piece of rag around his loins, broke his heart. He felt still more for Saci and Visnupriya. Nitai, however, kept the secret to himself, but wept alone at night.

Ch. 23

Early one morning, shortly thereafter, the Lord, in the mood of Radha, began to lament for Krsna. His voice was pathetic, his face wrenched in unutterable misery; short murmurs escaped his lips, “I have endured this enough. No more, no more shall I bear the absence of Krsna. I must go to him. I must have him. He is merciful, why would he not grant my heart’s desire? I want only a sight, a sight of him…shall I never again see him?” He also addressed Krsna directly: “Thou art good. Oh my beloved, thou art sweet. My heart hankers for thee. Reveal thyself to me, or I shall die. Have pity, have pity my beloved.” He then rolled in the dust. Gadadhar sought to raise him. He rose, saying, “Do not detain me, I must go to my Krsna,” and tried to run, but fell down in a swoon.

The bhaktas knew that such pangs were due to Krsna-biraha (separation); they knew, also, that it was a feeling, which now scarcely ever left the Lord. On that particular day, however, they suspected that he had some special cause for sorrow, and that his heart would break. They tried in every way to soothe him. Swoon followed swoon, and he was roused only with increasing difficulty. Each one of these black outs carried him to death’s door, and on each occasion the bhaktas feared that it would be his last!

As noon approached, the Lord, seeing that his bhaktas had become mournful, tried to appear nonchalant. He leaned on Gadadhar and stretched his legs. His golden-hued body, hair and clothes were covered with dust, his eyes were red from incessant flow of tears, and he was shivering. He beckoned his bhaktas to come near. He wanted to say something, but the words stuck in his throat.

Eventually, with effort he found speech, and said in an attitude of submission, “Dear friends: This body of mine belongs to every one of you, sell it—dispose of it in any way. You have unconditionally served me, followed me, and loved me. Please forgive me if I now leave you. I must go. I must find my Krsna.” It was not the Lord who felt distressed because of his possible hardships as a mendicant, it was his bhaktas; so, he addressed them in a tone of penitence, imploring them to forgive him.

Only with great effort did he succeed in marshalling his thoughts. The bhaktas remained silent. The Lord continued, “The supreme object of life is the attainment of the lotus feet of the Deities. It is of no moment to us whether we live together or apart, in a palace, or in the wilderness. My dear friends, worship Krsna in my absence. As for myself, I go for our real need. As merchants go abroad to make their fortune, then return home and maintain their dear ones—I shall go out to earn Krsna-prem, and when I return we shall divide it.”

The bhaktas were devastated. They could see that he was making a serious declaration: To leave society in search of Krsna. Some even felt that the Lord was being cruel. Srivas sharply retorted, “Let those who can survive your separation wait for Krsna-prem. I shall never survive it; to me, your words of consolation are meaningless.”

Obedient Gadadhar, at this time of peril, became bold, “My Lord, we don’t understand! You mean to leave us—wish to leave your mother Saci. I have no faith in bhakti for Krsna if it leads one to forsake their aging mother, a mother who has no one except you to comfort her.”

Gadadhar astonished all the bhaktas, and also pleased them. The Lord looked at Gadadhar reproachfully, “If you love me, unconditionally, you will soothe my mother when I am gone. By your words you aim a poisoned arrow at my heart. My greatest dilemma is my mother. As a friend, help me to overcome it. You know very well that I must leave—I cannot help it. You talk of me remaining; what will you do with me, pray? My body is like an empty shell; my soul has fled to Krsna. The burning fire of Krsna-biraha (separation) has, like a severe fever, reduced all the mundane desires of my heart to ashes. There is nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing in this world which can give me any pleasure except Krsna. Would you like to see me, whom you love so well, slowly consumed by fire?”

Murari, who knew that any proposal based upon mundane considerations would not work, said, “My Lord, you taught us worldly men how to cultivate bhakti. You planted the seed of bhakti in our hearts. Would you now destroy it by leaving us to our own devices?” Then Haridas found speech. Indeed, the bhaktas, one-by-one, addressed the Lord, and tried to dissuade him from the momentous act of leaving society, and them, forever. They wept, they reasoned, they implored; they did all they could to make him stay.

Mukunda eschewed debate, and falling at Nimai’s feet sobbed, “My Lord, please do not forsake us. Just the thought of it breaks our hearts. How can we live without you, our life, the life of our life?” All those present then gave vent to their feelings with loud lamentations.

The Lord was very much moved, and, for a moment, confounded. Finally, he implored them to listen calmly. He said that they were taking things far too seriously. If he left society he would not leave them for good. He could not live without them anymore than they could live without him. He was not leaving them, then and there, and forever. They would speak more of this. In this manner he tried to appease his inconsolable companions. Indeed, the Lord smiled, and embraced every one of them, to show that the matter was not so serious.

The bhaktas tenacious attachment to the Lord is described in one of Narahari’s songs:

I began not only to see him in my heart, but also wherever I looked. The entire universe seemed to be filled with his lovely face. What is this malady that has overtaken me?

Lord Gauranga’s bhaktas had come to love him almost as Radha loved Krsna. They had forgotten everything they held dear, wife, children, wealth, worldly prospects, even their own existence, in their love for their Lord. They could not live without him even for a moment. The Lord had taken entire possession of their hearts. Everything in him appeared sweet to them. The pleasure of being with him was worth any sacrifice. They adored his smile, his limbs, and his flowing movements. They loved him from “the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.” This tyrant of their hearts was now going to forsake them, and they could not bear it.

If they all loved him fully, he, too, dearly loved them; in truth, the Lord’s love was infinitely greater.

The Lord, to console his bhaktas, began to visit each of them, privately, at his home; they felt gratified and honored. He would sit, talk, and embrace them affectionately. He opened his heart to each of them: “I must go, the suffering of humanity rends my soul. You must help me.” To another he said: “The absence of Krsna has made my life empty. I cannot live without him. I must find him. Forgive me, if I give you pain by leaving.” The bhaktas were placated; they knew they should bow to his wishes, and that their suffering would also be a blessing for the salvation of humanity.

Nimai’s new mood saddened mother Saci. She still felt the wound her eldest son had left in her heart. The thought that he might follow suit was a constant worry. She had regained her natural cheerfulness when she saw that her son had stabilized the influence brought back from Gaya. She saw that thousands loved her son, and her son loved them in return. He had also loved kirtan passionately. So, she assured herself that he would never leave such devoted friends, and such fine kirtan. Yet, this new disposition, which had taken possession of him, again, threw her into despair.

She sent for her younger sister, the wife of Candrasekhar. “Sister,” said she, “the condition of my Nimai gives me uneasiness. Will he also leave me as his elder brother did? Whenever he sees a holy man, he talks to him with great earnestness. Indeed, the other day a well known sannyasi of Katwa, Kesava Bharati, came to Nadia, and Nimai brought him here, and spoke privately with him, which, somehow, filled me with foreboding.”

“Why that should upset you, I do not see?” said her sister. “It is good that Nimai associates with holy men.”

“Viswarup’s departure taught me a great lesson. Now whenever I see a sannyasi, I fear that he has come to take my Nimai away. How do I know that Nimai won’t forsake me?”

Her sister suggested simply asking him, for she was sure he would conceal nothing from her. Saci would have done so, but she had not the courage. Nimai just then appeared, and seeing his mother and aunt, with great reverence, prostrated himself before them.

Saci bravely said, “Nimai, I have a question, please be frank.”

“Of course, mother.”

Saci hesitated, framing her words, “You know I cannot bear your absence even for a moment…will you leave me?”

Nimai paused and reflected. He then looked at his mother tenderly, “Well, I was hoping to soon go to a holy place. But don’t worry, I will go nowhere without your permission. And, if I am permitted to go, I shall come back to honour you.”

“You promise this, Nimai?” pressed Saci.

“Yes, I promise.”

Saci suddenly felt extremely happy. She knew that her son would keep his word, and she resolved never to give him permission to go.

Such candor, between mother Saci and Nimai had not taken place since his return from Gaya. It gave Saci intense satisfaction; yet, somehow, reminded her of a secret she had kept from him. She said, “Nimai, please forgive me? I have wronged you.”

“Mother, surely you have done me no wrong,” he said incredulously. “What it is?”

“Your brother, Visvarup, left a book with me to give to you—”

“Oh, wonderful! Please, may I have it,” Nimai eagerly interjected.

Saci continued with some effort. “A few days after handing me the book, he left home and society. I thought that education had opened his eyes, and caused him to realize the worthlessness of everything worldly. Also, he tempted you to follow him. I was upset, and thought it best not to permit you to read it, and threw it into the fire.”

A shade of disappointment passed over Nimai’s face; instantly he recovered his good humour. “Mother, you were led by your maternal feeling for me—never mind,” he concluded.

The consolation of Nimai’s sixty-seven year old mother did not last for long. The regretful faces of the bhaktas kept her in a constant state of anxiety. Some of them urged her to strive in all ways to keep her son at home! Thus Saci, despite having her son’s word, was becoming more and more unhappy.

“Nimai, you told me that you intended to go to a holy place. When do you want to go, and where is this holy place?” Saci inquired, only a few days after their last conversation.

“The goal of my life is to go to Vrndavan….” No sooner had Nimai pronounced the word than he had to stop, for he was choked with emotion!

“Mother,” he continued excruciatingly, “I promised that I would never leave without your consent. Will you please allow me to go?”

“Nimai, what is it that people say in whispers about you? Please do not deceive me.”

Nimai cringed, then looked at her sweetly, and his eyes filled with tears. “Mother, listen! You nourished me in your womb. You suckled me as a baby. You fed me as a boy, and saw to my education as a father would. Every cell of my body belongs to you. It is now my duty to devote myself to making the rest of your life happy. Is that not so mother?”

Saci could say nothing. She knew the thunderbolt was coming.

Nimai continued, “Yes, my duty is to serve you, and not Sri Krsna. But he is proving irresistible. Mother, I cannot help it. People have unworthy and ungrateful children, or children who are useless to them. Mother, I am like one of them. My duty towards you remains unfulfilled. My huge debt to you remains unpaid. I can no longer stay in society. I must go out in search of Krsna. I cannot pay the debt I owe you. Release me from it, and show to the world what a mother’s unconditional love is capable of.”

“You want to be a sannyasi like your brother? Deal openly with me.”

“Yes mother.”

“And you want my permission?”

“Yes mother.”

“Gladly given, of course?”

“Certainly mother.”

“My dear son, that is impossible. If you want permission for the sake of appearances, I will accord it, to oblige you, for I have never denied you anything. But heartfelt permission is impossible—nature will not permit it. I am a mother—I have only you. I am old, and I love you, my child.”

Mother Saci remained steady as a rock. For once in her life she ventured to speak her truth to her invincible son.

The Lord looked with both admiration and tenderness upon his dear mother. He held back the tears, and suppressed the tender feelings that now sought to engulf him. Mother and son gazed at one another for some time. Saci broke the silence with a barbed arrow in the shape of a question, “And Visnupriya?”

The shaft did its work. He hung his head. “Mother, if I go I shall go with her permission also. What’s more, I shall leave her spiritually uplifted. Of course, she will pine; yet she will have the consolation of knowing that I leave only to discharge a sacred duty. Yes, hers will be a life of sufferance, from a worldly point of view, but mine will be worse—”

“You will leave that poor forsaken girl like ‘a garland of misery’ round my neck to torment me for the rest of my days?” interrupted Saci. “Nimai, you have become a saint. But is it the duty of a holy man to forsake his mother and wife? Your love for humanity knows no bounds. Their misery literally breaks your heart. That isn’t only what the world says, I have seen it all too often myself. But why are you so cruel to your mother and wife? We are human beings too!”

Saci’s leave given easily would have cast a shadow upon her parental affection. Nimai was pleased to find that he had no chance with his mother. He would have to assume an attitude above the reach of familial considerations. “Mother, only those who love me unconditionally will forgive my offences. My sympathy for humanity is, no doubt, one of the things that take me away from you.

“I speak plainly, because you are mine, and I am yours. Mother, I am going to perform a sacred duty. You, who love me the most, ought to be the most ardent in offering me help. Bear in mind, that the attainment of Sri Krsna is the sole object of human existence. To win him is ultimate bliss, while to eschew him is misery. Mother, worship him, and he will not only console you, but also make you wonderfully happy. It is he who brings loving hearts together, and it is he who parts them. Knowing that he is good, merciful, and sweet, let us acquiesce not resignedly, but cheerfully to his dictates. Trust that I go from a sense of duty and help me. Dear mother, think of Krsna and transcend the petty considerations of this world. Please give me leave to depart. For you know I cannot go without your leave freely given.”

It was an opulence, possessed by the Lord, to give eloquent and compelling shape to his sentiments. Indeed, Saci realized, vividly, that the ground Nimai had taken was unassailable. She found that she was becoming, as usual, helpless before him. Upon first learning that her dear son wanted to leave her, Saci was stunned. As she gradually grasped the situation, tears filled her eyes. “Nimai, I have been expecting this. Visvarup prepared me for this final blow. This was all too perfect to last. Though a widow, I found myself the proud mother of a son whom the world adored. The true cause of my happiness is your love. Had ever any mother such a son? I have no fear of salvation…I’m your mother, I must be sure of it! I understand, but I am unworthy. Yes, yes, yes, you must go. A fallen woman like myself must not enjoy continual happiness, when those around me are so miserable. But, Nimai, I live in you. I cannot bear your separation, even for a moment—how can I live without you? No, no, I’m just thinking of myself. I must suffer.

“Yet, I had an ambition. It was that you would live as a householder, that your children would surround me, and that I would fuss over them. All that is a foolish fancy, never to be fulfilled! But Nimai, you have been tenderly nursed, you are now always under the influence of Krsna-prem, others have fed you and tended to your every need. How will you manage alone in the wilderness? The soles of your feet are as soft as the sirish flower. How will you be able to walk barefooted? And Nimai, you will soon, with a piece of rag round your loins, and a mendicant’s bag upon your shoulder, beg from door to door for a handful of rice, and when exhausted sleep on the ground, under the shade of a tree—in searing heat, and cold stormy nights! See, Nimai, I have thought all this through—you leading the life of a sannyasi. You ask me to let you go freely. Could any mother do so?”

Saci continued, and the Lord did not interrupt. Eventually, she began to babble incoherently. Nimai then caught her in his arms, held her, and said with deep empathy, “Mother! What is this? If you take it so ill, I will not go. You know I cannot go without your best wishes.”

“Oh no, I give you my consent, since you say it is the will of Krsna; yet, it would be speaking a lie to tell you that I was capable of giving it whole heartedly.”

“Mother, do you think it possible that I have any choice in this matter? Who does not naturally wish to remain at home with his friends? Yet, the moment I attempt to think of it, I feel my heart bursting with an irresistible feeling, which urges me to leave. No mother, it is not in my power to stay—to stay is to die. I can’t stay and live, that is, believe me mother, my precise condition. I must find Krsna. I must search for him in every corner of the earth. I’m sure to find him in Vrndavan….” The idea of finding Sri Krsna in Vrndavan so affected Nimai that he could not continue, so he sat down and wept.

Saci sprinkled water upon his face, gently called to him, and restored him. Nimai then recollected the task at hand, and continued with unutterable pathos, “Mother, the world is full of misery because people have forgotten God. The will of Krsna is that I should proclaim him and his goodness to humanity. For this I must become a mendicant. Many will never accept Krsna from a man coddled and comfortable. Well, my dear, shall I do it, or remain here?”

It is stated in the Caitanya-mangal that, at this point, the Lord imparted wisdom to his mother, which momentarily lifted the veil of familial feelings. She then knew that she had been acting like a silly woman. Was not the Lord anxious to save humanity? Could it be proper that she should try to possess him, and obstruct such a stupendous act of divine mercy? And, would she be able to succeed? She then felt there was only one loving father, and that he was only trying to draw his children to him. She at that moment not only felt an irresistible bhakti for the Lord, but also sympathy for his creatures. She was filled with a sublime joy, and tears began to roll down her cheeks.

“Nimai, yes, I see it. It’s all right,” her voice was saturated with happiness. “You must go. I was selfish to stand in your way. Go, my son, spread bhakti and save the fallen souls. I remember now, what I had forgotten, that you are the same Krsna who is the life of all created beings. Fortunate am I that it pleased you to call me mother for sometime, it now pleases you to be a redeemer—to save all your children. Secure is the destiny of humanity! Go my son, I rejoice in your holy mission, and whole heartedly give you my consent.”

A divine smile brightened the countenance of the Lord. He looked at Saci with tender approval, “Yes, mother, today you have made Sri Krsna your debtor.”

After she had spoken, she realized what she had done, fell down in agony, and began to roll upon the floor, “Oh Nimai, my darling Nimai, your cruel mother is driving you away from home.”

According to the Caitanya-mangal, Saci without being enlightened would not have gladly given her son leave to go. When this permission was obtained, the Lord withdrew the wisdom from her, and allowed her maternal feelings to flood her heart.

Nimai gently stroked his mother’s head, and said, “Mother, this expression of sorrow goes against Krsna, for you suffer in his merciful service. Is it proper that you should weep in my name? Weep in the name of Krsna, for then you will not lose him, you will not lose me, you will lose nothing.”

“Was there ever a mother like me,” she lamented, “to drive a dutiful and loving son into the wilderness?”

“Mother,” soothed Nimai, “I assure you it was Krsna who made you give me permission. Dear mother, console yourself. I am not presently running away. I am aware that I have given you very little happiness as your son. I promise, henceforth, as long as I live in this house, to be the quintessential householder.”

The Lord then took her hand and said faithfully, “Mother, whenever you feel an ardent desire to be with me, I will come to comfort you—you will see me in your heart. I will take charge of you, body and soul. Please help me with Visnupriya whom I have to forsake, teach her to worship Krsna—he will soothe her. This is my request to you, for she is very young and needs your help.”

Ch. 24

From that moment on Nimai became a householder. He bade all extraneous maladies to leave him, and they left like obedient servants. He ate, slept, and behaved like other people, though he could never suppress the beguiling sweetness, the fresh innocence, and the irresistible charm, which distinguished him from others. The Lord had attained full permission from his mother to leave society, but what of Visnupriya, his dearly beloved and beautiful consort of fifteen? He could simply disappear. That he would never do. Nimai resolved that if he should go, he must also get the consent of his wife, and all those who loved him.

Young Visnupriya was visiting her father and mother for a few days. While away, she heard whispers, to the effect, that her lord was contemplating leaving her and society. The rumour filled her with anxiety. Yet, she was not hopeless, for her husband was love’s own self. She did not know whom he did not love—the high, the low, men, women, children, animals, even shrubs and creepers. She could never believe that her Nimai would take the cruel step of leaving his mother, herself, and the bhaktas for the rest of his days. Though it was late, and mid-December, she did not tarry at her father’s, but immediately made haste homeward. She found that her husband had retired early to bed. He used to spend sleepless nights with Krsna. She did not know that he had promised his mother to live, for a time, as an ordinary householder. She quickly ate supper, and hastily entered their bedroom with a tray, which contained betel nut, chandan paste, and a garland of flowers.

His face eclipsed the full moon in lustre and beauty—but he was sleeping. Still, she felt blessed. She was rarely alone with her husband. His bhaktas were almost always with him. Visnupriya felt that Nimai had little opportunity of enjoying a good night’s rest. “I can wait,” she thought. “Besides, I rarely have the opportunity of just appreciating the full sight of his lovely face.” So, she sat on the bed, took his soft feet upon her lap, and began to rub them with her tender hands; she admired them, smelled them, and handled them with great reverence, whilst tears of joy trickled down her cheeks. “I’m the luckiest woman in the world,” she thought. Immediately a foreboding pang shot through her heart. “Do I deserve this joy?” she wondered. “Did I not hear from trusted sources that he was leaving me? Yes, the most likely thing is, that he will leave, for this cannot be right—when there is so much misery in the world, that I alone should enjoy complete happiness.” Teardrops fell from her eyes onto the feet of her lord.

Nimai suddenly awakened, and saw his lovely wife weeping. He hastily arose, and affectionately embracing her, said, “What’s wrong my beloved? Why these tears?” His love only made her cry more. She couldn’t speak. He patiently soothed her.

“Tell me what is it that I hear?” She looked at her husband reproachfully.

He wanted to evade the question, and, therefore, in a playful manner, replied that she had no business listening to gossip. Visnupriya saw that her husband was in an unusually good mood, which gave her hope and pleasure. She thought it impossible for her loving husband to abandon her. So she asked, now with less anxiety, why people were circulating the rumour that he would leave—his mother?

Nimai laughed, “And is this the way we meet after so many days apart? Let us talk of happier things.” Visnupriya had never seen him so lighthearted. She forgot all about the rumour, and they passed a few intimate hours as husband and wife. He had promised Saci that he would live an ordinary life. That night he disregarded his bhaktas, and sought the satisfaction of his wife.

For a time she forgot all about her anxiety, and was “swimming in an ocean of pleasure.” “Why are you weeping?” she said suddenly with alarm.

Nimai was not weeping, but smiling. Yet, Visnupriya’s loving eyes had penetrated through his veneer.

He was touched by her simplicity, her trust in him, her love for him. The thought that he would have to leave such a sweet and confiding girl, when he was the very person who should console and protect her, caused his heart to silently weep.

“Weep?” Nimai replied. “You see I’m smiling.”

Visnupriya saw that her question had almost moved her husband to tears. “I clearly see that you are weeping. You are not enjoying yourself. Your smiles are hollow. I’m convinced that you’re contemplating something dreadful…the rumour is true!”

The time had come to unburden his heart. He looked sadly into her face, and said trembling with emotion, “You have divined correctly. I mean to become a sannyasi.”

She looked at her husband, stunned.

He continued, “You and I are united forever, nothing can separate us, except our own folly. Let us worship Krsna, which is the sole object of human existence. Listen to my advice, because I am your best friend. You are Visnupriya, which means ‘beloved of Visnu.’ Prove it by your actions; make Krsna love you by your devotion to him. Forget this world, it is only a temporary abode.”

Visnupriya ought to have fainted at the dreadful news. She attempted to speak, but could not. Finally, she said, “Don’t be cruel to your mother. People will speak ill of you. As for me, I know I don’t deserve you.” She was confused.

“I see I’m hampering your spiritual progress. Very well, I’ll not come to you. I’ll live with my parents, but don’t leave your mother, I beseech you.”

“My dear one, give up all these games. I love you. It is not possible for me to make you miserable for a mere whim. I know you will suffer in my absence; I will suffer too. Why do I cause you, my beloved, this pain of separation, and also take it upon myself, because there is no other way. I do all this to worship Krsna, and the result will be beneficial for us both. So, my dear wife, give me leave with a cheerful heart—that I may go happy in the thought that I have your consent.”

“Why do you ask leave of me? You are free to do whatever you wish?”

“No, I have no right to go without your permission—you’re my wife.”

“You cannot be serious. Is it possible that you can leave? How can that be? Your mother will die as soon as she hears this. Don’t talk, or even think, of leaving her. Everyone in Nadia will either die, or follow you. Tell me you’re joking. Let me go to mother and tell her that you’re talking nonsense.” She rose to depart.

The Lord caught hold of her hand and assured her that his mother already knew, and had given her consent.

Visnupriya gazed at him in disbelief. She felt dizzy and confused; then fell with a cry onto Nimai’s lap.

The Lord was confounded. He sought to rouse her. She awoke only to weep.

Finally, she said, “I’m the luckiest woman in the world; yet, I can’t say that I was leading a rosy life. I tossed about in my lonely bed while you were singing kirtan at Srivas’s. When you came home, you were distant. I rarely see your face. Now, you leave your young wife to her fate! Is that spiritual? You say your mother has given you permission—she is noble! I have not her strength. She is old; sweet death is sure to happen sooner to her. I shall have to lead a dreary existence, for how long, God only knows. Don’t leave me my dear. I never offended you. It isn’t your duty to leave me. I can’t live without you. Don’t forsake your faithful wife.” And she, with folded hands, and on her knees, earnestly, and with tearful eyes, beseeched her lord.

Nimai felt himself cornered by this girl of fifteen. He had elevated his mother’s love, to obtain her permission, by imparting divine wisdom. In the same manner he sought to affect the love of Visnupriya. With his mother he succeeded partially, but with his wife he had utterly failed.

Visnupriya next saw that Nimai had transformed into Visnu! (the four armed form of Sri Krsna). The young girl thus found herself face to face with a Deity! Yet, she was not mystified, nor even confused. When she saw the living Visnu before her, she immediately assumed a posture of reverence, and showing him the deepest humility, said, “Great Lord of the Universe, please give me this boon: Return to me my husband!”

“But you have me,” said Visnu. “What more could you want?”

“My Lord, I cannot live without my husband. I worship you, but I love my husband—please give him back to me.”

Such was the love of Visnupriya for Nimai. And the Lord had to cut this tender tie to renounce society!

The form of Visnu suddenly disappeared and Nimai wondrously reappeared before her.

He immediately took her into his arms, “Bravo my dear! The truest of women, the best of wives! So you prefer me to Visnu!” And thus, husband and wife wept for some time.

“As you are the worthier half of me, you must help me in my service of giving Harinam (the holy names) to humanity; for this I must become a sannyasi.”

“If you must leave society, take me with you!”

“Unfortunately, that cannot be,” he cringed. “I must leave you. I must make you, my mother, and all my dear ones weep, and by their tears wipe out the sins of this world. Do you understand me? If I leave you, people’s hearts will be softened towards me—they will accept and nurture the seed of bhakti sown in their hearts. And your sacrifice will be a beautiful thing…we can bring salvation back.”

“Yes, I see, I would be doing wrong by stopping you. But how can I survive your absence?”

“Do not think upon it. Survive my absence bravely, as I must survive yours. Separation for spiritual purposes is not separation at all. You will still possess everything of me, except this flesh, and we shall still have the privilege of loving one another. You will get news of me constantly. As for seeing me that you will be able to do in your heart. Enthrone me in your heart and enjoy my company. We never obtain the gross body of Krsna, our sublime love is found in the soul’s higher expression through spirit. Now my dear, I promise you this, as I promised my mother—whenever you feel an ardent desire to be with me, I will come to soothe you, and you will see me in your heart. Just call my name and I’ll be there!”

The Lord gazed into her eyes, then said slowly, “One last thing: Worship Krsna, day and night, that is the final request of your husband.”

He paused, “Let me tell you a secret. As a human being you are subject to the laws that govern humanity. You will now and then pine for me, and I you. But God pays them fully who perform great deeds from selfless motives. He gives them bliss. Also, humanity will always bless you for your sacrifice on their account.”

“Are you going now?” Visnupriya got alarmed. “Let me have your company for a few more days.”

The Lord took her back upon his lap, “I’m not leaving you just yet. I’ll go when you are almost tired of me.” As Nimai he held her and wept bitterly. “Forgive me for leaving you. The absence of Krsna makes me restless. The world is a desert without him. I am like a body without a soul. All my passions, all my desires, have been dried up. It is Krsna, and Krsna alone, who can fill this void in me.”

They both wept.

Thus they tasted the bittersweet tragedy of mundane, romantic love. Yet, the most poignant of these tragic moments echo through eternity, and this echo, known as the Akashic records, is tapped into by artists, musicians, mystics and writers, and then returned to humanity.

You and I can make a pact, We can bring salvation back. Just call my name, and I’ll be there!

Visnupriya agreed to perform her part of the pact, and resolved to accept the inevitable. The idea that her suffering meant the salvation of humanity did give her consolation. She was in the exceptional position of knowing Lord Gauranga intimately. She felt inspired beyond the bounds of flesh and blood—the most blessed of God’s creatures.

Ch. 25

The Lord was now always with his family and friends; although he could never think, or speak, of anything other than Krsna; however, he still desisted from manifesting his malady. For a month he slept well, ate well, and lived like other men. In this manner he fulfilled his promise to his mother—that he would spend his last days, in Nadia, as a householder. It was a great joy for Saci was to cook fine vegetarian dishes for her son, and this she was now able to do to her heart’s content.

Indeed, his good humour, his constant presence in the midst of those who loved him, and the gladness that he imparted to everyone, led them to almost forget that he was soon to leave. Some started believing that if the Lord did leave, it would be after a lapse of many years.

However, the Lord had firmly fixed the day of his departure. He had taken permission of his mother in late December. The end of January was approaching. Finally, his only remaining day in society arrived; yet, no one had an inkling that he was then about to leave Nadia, and his householder life forever!

That morning he bathed and ate his breakfast as usual. He talked to his friends only of his Krsna. Afternoon came, and he set out in fine attire for a leisurely stroll. He passed familiar places—places where he had played as a boy, and taught as a professor. He was wearing a precious silken dhoti, and the bhaktas had, as usual, decorated him with garlands of flowers. Friends surrounded him, and crowds followed him. Ladies stood on their terraces to admire him, and showered flowers upon him. People fell prostrate before him—though this gave him pain. The Lord talked of Krsna along the way, and whenever a friend gave an agreeable reply, he encouraged them with a smile—a smile like the rays of the moon. Shopkeepers left their stores to salute him. Everyone gave way to him. Thus he passed through some of the main streets of this fair city for the last time.

Promenading along the strand, he took in all its beauty. He came to his bathing ghat; the place where he had passed some of the happiest hours of his life; where he had played so many mischievous pranks as a youth; where he had defeated Kesava of Kashmir; where he had enjoyed the company of his friends, and spent many a day discoursing about Krsna. He sat there, and his companions sat with him. He looked at the Ganges, and took leave of all that surrounded him. Never more would he play there as a citizen of Nadia, or a son of Saci! He visited the trees, shrubs, flowers, and gardens, which he loved; he took leave of them, one by one, for he would greet them no more.

Returning home late afternoon he sat with his friends upon the verandah—where he would never sit again. He had asked his mother to cook a fine dinner for him, for he knew this was her favorite pastime.

That evening many citizens of Nadia felt an irresistible urge to visit him. Soon his house and courtyard were festooned with people. They all came with garlands of flowers and presents—vegetables, butter, milk, various fruits and sweets. They fell prostrate before him, and prayed for salvation, “Save us, dear Lord! Friend of the sinner.”

 “Worship Sri Krsna, and he will save you,” the Lord answered. 

Then they dispersed, and another crowd gathered. He received them compassionately, and said, “If you love me show it by worshipping Krsna.” And the crowd left filled with bhakti, and with the determination to lead a spiritual life. Thus the Lord was occupied, till midnight, in taking leave of his followers. He then hugged his dearest friends ardently, and bid them leave. They saw that he was in the happiest of moods, and left to pass a restful night at their respective abodes. He then sat down to dine. His faithful mother placed fifty dishes before him, and sat with him to watch him eat everything that she had prepared. He ate and talked to her in hushed, exclusive tones, as if she and he were the only two beings in existence.

When he finished eating, he took leave of her, and entering his bedroom, waited there for his wife. Visnupriya had almost forgotten that her Lord had asked, and obtained, her permission to be a sannyasi. She was now making efforts to dress beautifully—her husband’s attentive mood having moved her to do so. That night she appeared before him as a fairy queen, the most gorgeous girl in the world.

Now he wanted only to be with her. Visnupriya began to adorn her husband’s face with aloka (white paint) and comb his gleaming, dark hair—she used flowers and garlands to enhance his unblemished beauty.

Nimai then claimed the privilege of dressing her. Visnupriya was impressed to see the exquisite taste of her beloved. She was intoxicated by the playful, yet tender, care he bestowed upon her. Thus they spent many intimate hours together in connubial bliss. It was winter, and finally young Visnupriya slept contentedly in her husband’s warm arms. He kindled to its brightest the love that she bore for him. It was not his wish to forget, or be forgotten.

When she was sound asleep, he gently extricated himself from her embrace, gently kissed her cheek, placed his pillow between her arms, and silently left their bed. Neglecting his beautiful clothes, his golden chains and ornaments; nothing would he take to protect himself from the winter’s chill, except the coarsest cloth, which now he wore. The front door was opened with not a sound. As he crept into the courtyard, he saluted his sleeping mother with folded hands. He then passed through the outer gate, and from there hastily proceeded towards the river. Though it was dark, and the cold air was like smoke upon his lips, he would not wake the ferryman, for like Visvarup, his brother, he wished to leave without a trace, so he plunged into the freezing river. From the luxury of the finest bedding, and from the warm embrace of his beautiful and loving wife, to the cold, dark waters of the Bhagirathi. With his powerful arms he quickly reached the other side, and fearing he might be found by morning, and his flight betrayed, he ran in wet, coarse cloth towards his destination.

When misty dawn arrived, far behind was left the world from whence he came.

Visnupriya had slept snugly in her beloved’s arms—secure, safe, and sound. The pillow proved no substitute, and soon she awoke with a start. Reaching for him in the dark, she discovered he was gone. “Where are you?” she murmured. Thereupon she rose, and going to the bedroom door, found it unlatched. Alarmed, she stepped out onto the verandah. “Where can he have gone so late?” thought she…though deep inside she knew. She remembered his loving caresses, his look, his attitude; she saw now they all said, “I am leaving. I am leaving. I am leaving.” She dragged herself to Saci’s room, “Mother,” said she, knocking at her door. “Mother, get up.”

“Who is it?” asked the old lady. “Is that you Visnupriya? What’s the matter? Is Nimai all right?”

“Get up mother. He’s gone!”

Then Saci hurriedly rose and lit a lamp. She opened the door, and saw her daughter propped against the wall.

With Saci carrying the lamp, and Visnupriya following like a shadow, clasping her sari, they stepped outside. The outer gate was still open. They entered the street, and Saci wailed into the cold night air, “Nimai! Is my Nimai there?” They could not continue, they felt sick, and could scarcely stand.

Upon returning home, Saci sank onto the living room floor. Ishan, the servant, being disturbed from his slumber, and seeing the old lady weak with grief, went to her and comforted her.

Visnupriya entered the dining room and sat alone. Just a few short hours ago she was in her loving husband’s arms. She flung herself upon the floor. She tried to weep, yet tears refused to flow.

Soon Srivas arrived, and the house was quickly filled with the Lord’s companions. Nimai’s flight stupefied them all. None could grasp whither, or why, he had so mysteriously left. Though everyone suspected that he had gone for good, no one had the heart to breathe a word. But Saci knew.

Finally, she said, “My house is full of valuable things. They belong to you bhaktas. Take them all. I must go in search of my son. You, his friends, take care of my daughter.”

Srivas suggested that she not assume the worst. “Let us have,” he suggested, “a private talk amongst ourselves.” The bhaktas thereupon went outside.

“What do you think?” asked Nitai of Srivas.

“I think he’s taken flight,” said Srivas.

“So do I,” said Nitai.

They decided to organize search parties. There are hundreds of well-known places in India where sannyasis congregate, which the bhaktas elected to visit. However, many of them were thousands of miles from Nadia, and some almost inaccessible! The bhaktas were undaunted. They resolved to visit them all, bring the Lord back, or at least tidings of him. As the bhaktas could not live without him, they would either find him, or die in the attempt.

Suddenly, Nitai remembered having heard him mention, that Kesava Bharati would initiate him at Katwa. Thus, the wisest course would be to seek him there—a town just sixteen miles up river from Nadia. So it was agreed that Nitai, Candrasekhar, Mukunda, and a few others should immediately go to Katwa. Nitai went back inside the house and said with as much optimism as he could muster: “Our Lord has left us temporarily, we hope. Pandit Srivas, and friends, will take care of you mother and Visnupriya. I and others are going to Katwa to see if the Lord is there.” Then addressing Saci directly, he said, “Rest assured, I shall bring Nimai back to you—I promise this.”

Ch. 26

The Lord found Kesava Bharati sitting in his hut, beside the river Ganges, under a bar tree, and fell at his feet. The ascetic Bharati was startled. He thought a celestial being had dropped from the heavens, for the Lord was enveloped with the glowing aura that radiated from him, when in a beatific state.

“Why are you honouring me?” asked Kesava. “You seem to be so much higher than I.”

“I once looked upon your lotus feet in Nadia,” Nimai humbly replied. “You then promised to initiate me into the renounced order of sannyas. I have come to be thus blessed. I offer myself at your feet. Accept me merciful one, and rescue me from the ocean of worldliness.”

Bharati then remembered. He also remembered noting, that the young applicant appeared to be a god; yet, over the course of time his faith in such things had weakened. One thing he did know, however, was, the most beautiful youth in the world, was intent on making him fulfill a promise, which he had made as a matter of formality. He did not wish to perform the ceremony, but how could he evade it? He suggested that Nimai rest there for the present, and that he would receive an answer anon.

The harsh rigours of a sannyasi’s life would kill this tender creature, thought Kesava. His large and lustrous eyes showed that he was made of pure love. How would he bear complete renunciation, which requires the eradication of all fond sentiments? There was another difficulty; Kesava now felt his heart powerfully moved by him. Indeed, he felt like a doting father for an only and worthy son. He, therefore, resolved that he would never comply with his request.

Eventually, he said, “Nimai, it is true I made you a promise, and I’m willing to keep it. However, it’s not orthodox to permit a young man to enter our order. A man must have passed the age of fifty before he can hope to be initiated. The passions are always very strong, and to subdue them is difficult; yet, a sannyasi must do so, or he is irrevocably lost. A householder may fall victim to his lust and be excused, but for a sannyasi, there is no forgiveness. We therefore offer no one the privilege of entering our order until he has mastered his senses, and reached the age of fifty.”

Nimai, roused from his revelry, replied, “Master, I know you only test me by your refusal. I’m just a youth and know not what to say, yet do not the young also die? Pray do not disappoint me; for I’m dying a long, slow, death for want of Krsna, whom I must seek in Vrndavan. Merciful master, you alone can release me from the bonds which keep me from going there.”

“Your bondage is your wife and mother,” said the Bharati. “You cannot now leave home because you have a duty towards them. Should I release you from your sacred duty, so you can forsake them with an easy conscience, leaving them to their fate, and proceed on your pilgrimage? If I assist you, I shall offend God; your wife and mother will curse me, and I shall deserve it.”

Back in Nadia, Visnupriya and Saci were in a state of bewildered bereavement. The bhaktas already felt lost and empty.

Nitai and his companions sped towards Katwa as fast as their legs would carry them. Approaching the monastery they spotted a senior sannyasi, and the Lord sitting before him, with his head between his knees. They raised a shout, “There!” “There!” “There’s the Lord!” and accelerated their pace. The Lord raised his head. He was weeping for Krsna. The sight of his friends lightened his divine face with a smile. Presently, the breathless and beleaguered bhaktas stood before him. The Lord received them affectionately—instantly melting them with eyes of adoration.

People began to tarry and gathered from the (then) big city of Katwa close by. The Lord was never alone; as light irresistibly draws insects, his presence always attracted ever-increasing crowds. His story flew from mouth to mouth…a young man, who was perhaps a god, had left his young, beautiful wife and devoted mother, to enter the order of Bharati.

As the news spread from street to street, from town to village, the crowd steadily grow. Men, women and children gathered around him. His innocent face, loving eyes, and humble attitude, fascinated them. They had never seen him before; yet, they were drawn to him in a way they had never known. Mothers felt more attracted to him than to their very own children! So they lingered, hoping to dissuade the youth from leaving his family.

“I’m glad you are here,” said Nimai to the bhaktas. “Tomorrow I shall let fall the shackles that chain me to society, and then run to the lotus feet of my Krsna.” This thought made him gleam with delight. “Mukunda,” he continued, “sing of Krsna. My heart is thirsting for him.”

Mukunda, who was there to bring Nimai home—and not to facilitate him—dared not refuse. Thus he sang in praise of Krsna. The singing invigorated the Lord, and he rose to dance.

He was in high spirits. He had now almost gained his end; he was at the point of leaving society, for a pilgrimage to Vrndavan, in search of Krsna. He danced with such conviction that tears sprayed from his eyes and showered upon the crowd, who began to sing and dance along with him.

A sweet sorrow permeated the crowd, and was carried to the nearby villages. Many ran to their homes to fetch their dear ones, and soon the monastery of Kesava was inundated with people.

“Nimai,” Kesava resisted, “if Krsna-prem is the highest object of human existence, I see you have it to the fullest degree. What then is the use of entering our order? We became sannyasis only to save our souls, but it seems to me that you’re competent to save the souls of all humanity. You have no need to be a sannyasi.”

“Release me, master,” he said. “Have mercy upon me—my heart is aching, for I am without Krsna.”

“Nimai, do you think I’ve not found you out?” the old sadhu replied. “You are the very Krsna whom you’re seeking, for everything about you bespeaks of it.”

Nimai, upon hearing this, fell with a cry at the feet of the holy man. “I’m already almost dead, please don’t kick me. I’m only a worm in God’s creation, and you call me Krsna! Even to listen to such flattery is perdition. Pray, master, do not be so cruel as to pay me compliments.” He then wept with such anguish, that Kesava felt sorry for hurting the lad’s tender heart by his thoughtlessness.

“Forgive me Nimai if I pained you. Still, I cannot initiate you. You must first take leave of your mother, and beget a child before you can hope to be initiated.”

Nimai looked at Kesava imploringly. “Listen master! Both my mother and wife have already given me their full consent. And, as for my age, death is not a respecter of age. If the old die, so do the young. We must always be prepared for death. Save me. Your refusal is killing me by inches.”

“Nimai, honestly, I’ve never seen a being like you,” the Bharati replied, “nor has anyone else. You look more delicate than a flower. You’ve been tenderly nursed. You have no idea of the rigours that a man of my order has to go through. You’ll never survive. You will quickly perish, and then the sin of having killed you will descend upon my head. Your mother and wife will curse me, and that curse I shall deserve—and it will take effect. Besides, you’re not in need of entering into this, or any other order for the salvation of your soul. You are already higher than all men. You have attained to a higher position than anyone has ever succeeded in reaching before. Yet, I have not told you the greatest of my difficulties. You say that you have already obtained consent from your mother and wife. That can never be what they really want. I fancy they gave it because they couldn’t resist you—as I myself feel it challenging to do so. All my life as a sannyasi, I have had to conquer all tender sentiments; yet, the sight of you has spoiled all that. You have won my heart, I want to sob like a silly man, but I am suppressing my feelings for fear of creating a scandal. Look Nimai, see how this huge congregation of people are weeping for you!”

Nimai raised his head to look at those who surrounded him, whose presence he had scarcely noticed. This acknowledgement caused loud lamentations from the thousands who had already amassed. They all wept in a chorus. They all implored him to go home and restore the life of his mother and wife.

A sage approached him and said: “Pandit, your personal charms, your grace, your bhakti and prem are beyond comprehension. Are you going now to cover yourself with a piece of rag, live under trees and in caves? The hardest of men will die of grief at the spectacle you intend to present to this world.”

Nimai rose, and with tearful eyes addressed the vast crowd: “Fathers and mothers, bless me! Bless me that I may get my Krsna. You don’t know my misery. It is of no moment whether I live in a palace, or a cave. My heart is empty without Krsna. His presence alone can give me happiness; his absence is misery. Yes, I am young, and my colour is fair; if there is anything good in me, let it be consecrated by the one who is most worthy—Krsna.”

The earnestness of his voice, and devotion of his tearful eyes, moved the assembly to another outburst of grief. They had no reply to his heartfelt appeal.

His companions had traveled there to take him home. His uncle, Candrasekhar, who was in the place of his father, was there only to persuade him to return. Yet, this spectacle quelled them all. They could not utter a word. They sat, as statues, dumbfounded. When Mukunda sang and the Lord danced, Nitai rose to catch him should he fall. Candrasekhar sang with Mukunda, and then sat with his head between his knees, weeping.

The multitude that gathered deepened in their attraction towards Nimai. This compelling and lovely being was going to be a sannyasi; was going to sacrifice himself. His mother’s loss made the elderly ladies weep. The younger women empathized with his wife, and they lamented too. Yet, this was worldly misery that sought to overtake them.

The Lord’s presence induced a higher response. The being, for whom they were weeping, was not at all mindful of the sacrifice that he was wishing to make. He was in the highest state of ecstasy. They saw that the mere name of Krsna threw him into a paroxysm of joy. They saw that he would have danced, and danced, in his superabundant joy, utterly forgetful of the fact that he was leaving his home, mother, wife, and society, and going to live in the wilderness. They saw his tears of ecstasy, which gushed out in torrents, and the graceful expression of his face, which filled them with rapture, the likes of which they had never known.

Thus the crowd began to feel udas (indifference to worldly things). They were then acutely aware that they were temporary tenants in a world of rapidly diminishing returns. That it was maya (delusion) that was keeping them earthbound. What is power worth, or money, or honour? What is the good of gold, when it can neither secure happiness here, nor hereafter? What folly to cleave to this mundane world, as if there were something in it to give real and lasting happiness!

Next, a feeling of repentance engulfed the crowd. Clearly, we have forgotten God, they realized. Forgotten that his attainment is the sole purpose of human existence. Are we not living the lives of animals? We have no right to stop him. We should all forsake society. What is a wife? What is a mother? Every soul suffers its own karma. A wife must bear her own burdens, and the husband his. We have forgotten the one from whom we came, and to whom we must return.

Imbibing the joy of the Lord had elevated them. That joy stemmed from the realization that Krsna is good, loving, merciful, and charitable; that he is constantly drawing humanity towards himself; that misery is a delusion. Is not Krsna ceaselessly dancing with Radha in Vrndavan, and drawing all people towards him with his enchanting flute?

Along with this enlivening influx of divine rapture, the massive crowd was occasionally infected by the dark shadow of worldly sentimentality. Then, again, some felt that Nimai ought to go home, and wept in familial sympathy.

“Nimai, I cannot initiate you without the express permission of your mother and wife,” said Kesava. “You say you obtained it. That does not satisfy me. You had better go home, take their permission again, and return, then I will initiate you.”

“Very well, since you insist,” said Nimai mournfully. And he rose to leave.

The intention of Bharati was to direct Nimai home, and then fly from Katwa. Nimai appeared ready to journey the sixteen miles back to Nadia; yet, his mood, when leaving, shot through the heart of Bharati. “I’m deceiving this guileless, young man, who is either Lord Krsna himself, or his most favoured bhakta,” he thought. “This won’t do for one who aspires after a holy life.” He then said, “Come back pandit, I will initiate you.”

The vast crowd released a loud cry of grief. Kesava hung his head in sorrow—sorrow for having yielded to the wishes of the young man against his own resolution. Only the Lord, amongst the multitude, felt happy; he fell at the feet of Kesava to express his gratitude.

“Why do you weep?” said the Lord to his bhaktas. “This is not showing me love. Tomorrow I will be released from worldliness, and free to go to my Krsna. If you love me, be glad for me.”

Then he addressed the vast crowd: “Tomorrow, the fetters that bind me to this temporal world of appearances, will be cut asunder. Tomorrow, I shall be released from bondage. Bless me, fathers and mothers.”

Ch. 27

Assured of his initiation, the Lord became elated, and imparted his sublime feelings to the crowd. He danced all through the long, wintry, night without fatigue. His bhaktas danced with him, and soon forgot they were there to take him home. The vast crowd was also moved to dance. Many brought kholes (drums) and kartals (cymbals). Numerous kirtan parties formed. Thousands surrounded him and danced in the name of “Hari,” and in this holy occupation they passed the night.

In the cold light of dawn, they all became a little sober. The Lord settled down with the bhaktas. Addressing Candrasekhar he said, “Uncle, today I expect to be released from my mundane shackles; kindly make all the necessary arrangements for the ceremony.”

Candrasekhar—as Nimai’s only relative—was there to fetch him home, and not to help him in quitting it. Saci had sent him, in the role of a father, to persuade her son to return. However, if Saci had been there, Nimai would have chosen her!

Walking away from an opulent life, a loving mother and a beautiful wife, was an unparalled sacrifice; yet Nimai believed that he was doing the only thing that would make him happy. He had no thought of sacrifice. He appeared to not fathom why others were taking his initiation to heart. He was obtuse to everything except the highest good. Therefore, his mother, or uncle, was the proper party to help him in making the arrangements. He knew that he was serving humanity, and felt the more one loved him, the more that person was bound to help him in the performance of his sacred duty.

Candrasekhar reflected: “If his mother asks me, I will have to confess, that instead of persuading him to return, I helped him to leave.” Yet, he could not protest. To the Lord’s request he only uttered, “Yes, as you command.” His task was, however, very much lightened by the help of others. Soon the monastery of Bharati was filled with huge quantities of food and clothing, procured by inspired well-wishers, all contributing their humble mite to the sacred event.

The Lord’s face “shone with delight.” His bhaktas sat around him, perplexed. The vast crowd surrounding him was in a state of frenzy. They had spent the whole night singing kirtan. Word disseminated that Kesava had agreed to initiate Nimai, and those who had gone home now returned. Thousands of people were drawn to the monastery. “The crowd was immense.” “There was a sea of human faces.”

Was it Nimai’s wish to save them all, by presenting to them the spectacle of his renunciation? For even the contemplation of his sannyas has a chastening and purifying affect.

That morning, everything was settled, the ceremony was, indeed, to take place! Again, the crowd cried bitter tears of worldly anguish. “Why do we weep?” said a burly youth. “Let us abduct Kesava Bharati, take him to the opposite bank of the river, and incapacitate him. It is he who is at the bottom of all this mischief.” The suggestion was approved by other ruffians, who assailed the holy man with violent threats. Kesava said nothing; this irritated them still more, and they threatened to kill him!

Kesava then rose, and addressed the crowd: “Kill me, and thereby extricate me from this difficulty.”

“What difficulty?” asked one of his assailants. “Refuse the initiation and end the matter,”

“You all love this young man,” entreated Kesava. “You persuade him to give up the notion.”

Again, respected, elderly sages approached Nimai. Again, they reminded him of his old mother, his young wife, and of the hardships of a sannyasi’s life. Again, the Lord elevated them with divine wisdom, and the elders returned to the crowd saying: “Friends, we are all wrong, and he is right. He is doing what every one of us should do. Indeed, we are thinking of following him!”

The feelings that the renunciation of Nimai evoked are too extraordinary, too magnificent, and too divine to be fully enunciated. The incident occurred five hundred years ago; yet, a residue of these feelings—created upon that day—remain, and are still accessible. The renunciation of the Lord has subsequently been dramatized, the play is called, “Nimai’s Sannyas.” When properly enacted, it assails the audience with a succession of contradictory moods.

The town barber arrived to shave the head of the aspiring sannyasi for the ceremony. He saluted Nimai and immediately refused to perform the duty!

The word was out—“The barber refuses.” The crowd was delighted.

Nimai plaintively addressed Haridas the barber, “Please, do me the service of releasing me from this world. I’m impatient to go to Vrndavan.”

Haridas flatly refused, for he had never seen such a beautiful head of hair in all his life, and felt that it would be desecration to shave him. His heart was weeping, and his hands were trembling; he would cut him and thus jeopardize his own salvation…yet, the barber, like all others, soon acquiesced to the influential being before him.

Hair is the tie that binds a man to society. Before a man is initiated, this tie must be rent asunder. Once shaved, he becomes eligible for initiation, and there is no turning back. Thus, when Nimai, and the barber, sat face to face, there was another outburst of grief from thousands of mouths. “The bhaktas covered their faces with their clothes.” (Caitanya-mangal)

Yet, Nimai looked the perfect picture of happiness. Indeed, as soon as the barber began the operation, he interrupted him, “Stop a moment, please—let me dance.” He danced in a state of boundless joy; with such grace and exhilaration that everyone present felt new life breathed into their hearts. Then recollecting his purpose, he sat back down.

The shaving was resumed. Within a trice, the procedure was again suspended. Again he implored the barber to give him a few moments for another dance!

Nimai—partially shaved—again danced; giving vent to the pure, unmitigated joy welling inside him. The spectators were then crushed by an indescribable anguish. “You rend our hearts,” someone shouted. “Weep—that will give us relief!”

Warned by Kesava to cease from further delays, he again sat down. The barber, now elated, also rose for a dance! He gyrated backwards and forwards before Nimai to the wonder and amusement all of those present. Nimai, inspired by his barber, rose again, and they both danced, together, clasping each other’s hands. They were, however, soon persuaded to desist. The barber’s hands, indeed, his whole body, was now quivering with emotion; yet, the task was, somehow, completed.

The stark, bald headed Lord then walked to the river to perform his ablutions, and the whole crowd, except Bharati, followed. He bathed as the multitude sang, “Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!” The Lord then returned to his Guru in wet clothes.

The Bharati offered the Lord two red rags, which he accepted with both hands, and placed them with great reverence upon his head. He then addressed the crowd: “Fathers and mothers, I am now putting on the dress of a mendicant. Bless me, that I may not disgrace it, and that I may get my Krsna.”

The encircling crowd groaned.

The Lord then sat on the left side of the holy man, who whispered mystical words into his ear. The crowd became quiet—absorbed in the ceremony.

Finally, the new sannyasi was to be named. To die to his former life, to be born again, he must forfeit his original name.

Kesava, in a moment of inspiration, saw the name. He then touched the chest of Nimai with the palm of his right hand, and declared: “You were Nimai Pandit, henceforth you are KRSNA CAITANYA.” (One who awakens Sri Krsna in the hearts of others. He also became known as Mahaprabhu—the Great Friend of Humanity.)

Upon receiving the name, the Lord became a complete sannyasi in all respects.

His bhaktas then rose, and fell at his feet, saying: “Master, Teacher, Swami, save us!”

The vast crowed followed saying: “Oh saviour of sinners, save us!”

The Lord rose, and, in gratitude, attempted to fall at the feet of his guru. Kesava held him up, and asked only for his embrace. Thus, the disciple gave the guru a wondrous hug, which infused him with prem, and, being thus freed of all inhibition, he began to dance!

The goal of the Lord was now accomplished, and he ran towards Vrndavan, exclaiming, “My Krsna, here I come!” However, his progress was arrested by the dense mass of human beings. Though they made way for him, they could not do so quickly. This was an opportunity for Kesava to call after him, and remind him that he had forgotten his mendicant’s staff and cup!

The words momentarily snapped him out of his revelry. He returned and paused for a moment—taking in the vast sea of faces surrounding him. He stood, towering over their heads, leaning upon his staff and tenderly gazing at them for a moment: “Fathers and mothers, bless me, that I may find my Krsna in Vrndavan.”

The crowd burst into tears.

The Lord then uttered: “Fathers and mothers, bless me, that I do not disgrace my order.”

The crowd could hardly contain themselves!

“I am now a mendicant,” announced Lord Caitanya, “I, therefore, have claims upon your charity. Fathers and mothers, let me humbly beg this of you—Never Forget Krsna!”

The crowd loudly replied: “No, never, never shall we forget Krsna!”

The Lord noticed that his bhaktas were weeping. For a moment, he remembered Nadia, his mother, and, no doubt, his wife. “Father,” he addressed Candrasekhar, “ask my mother to forgive me, and bid them all, every one of them, to worship Krsna.”

His service among the people being now accomplished, he again headed for Vrndavan, exclaiming, “Krsna, beloved Lord, here I come!”

The crowd followed him, some shouting, “Wait master, that we might follow you.” And they followed—men, women and children—because, at that moment, all their worldly ties had been cut also! They were filled with udas, and attracted only to Krsna Caitanya. Even Kesava followed in his wake. The crowd loudly called after him to walk slowly, that they might accompany him. The Lord stopped and implored them to return home, and there worship Krsna. But the crowd had gone wild with excitement and still followed. They again begged him to wait for them, however, the Lord was then slowly entering into a state of samadhi; he was severing his connection with the outer world completely!

Ch. 28

The state of “samadhi” is acquired by the practice of yoga. Yoga means “communion” of the human soul with the Soul of souls, the Great Soul. The soul expresses itself through the body. Yet, its primary partner is the Great Soul.

There is a Hindu adage where the soul is likened to a woman, whose lover is her corporeal body, but whose husband is the Great Soul.

She, the soul, forsakes her wedded husband to cleave unto her gallant, the flesh. The object of yoga is to detach the woman (the human soul) from her lover (the human body) and re-unite her with her lawful husband (the Great Soul).

Those who practice impersonal yoga, meditate, and perform austerities to detach the soul (the faithless woman) from the human body (her lover) in the hope of merging into oneness with the Great Soul (her lawful husband).

Those who practice personal yoga, attain to the Supreme Deity through prem and bhakti (love & devotion) by enabling the soul to obtain a view of her Great Partner, Lord Krsna, and taste his sweetness! The woman (the soul) seeing that her lawful husband (the Supreme Deity) is infinitely more compelling than her gallant (the perishable body) is then led to forsake the latter, and cleave unto the former.

Impersonal yoga helps to detach the soul from the mundane body, but does not assist in removing the immutable soul from the mundane prison (Durga); for Nirvana, or Brahma-sayujya liberation (the promise of non-existence, or the promise of eternally merging into oneness with the Great Soul) is the last trick of Mayadevi (the goddess of mundane illusion) for it denies our intrinsic individuality and desire nature; therefore, the victims of this illusion are Mayavadis. While personal yoga enables one not only to detach the soul from the mundane body and realm, but also develops a personal relationship with the Supreme Deity, Krsna, which gains entrance into his higher transcendental abode. (However, this can only happen through the service and mercy of the Vaisnava.)

The impersonal school negates the obvious duality of all creation. Newton’s Law of Motion (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) is not only the fundamental law of karma, but also the primary, balancing, law of all that is. Therefore, the Creator is dual. The One is actually Two! Creator/Creation. The idea of merging with the One is a denial of this dualistic principle, which is the basis of everything—even our God. Newton states: “To have a single force is impossible. There must be, and always is, a pair of forces equal and opposite.” Yin/Yang. To aspire only for unmitigated oneness with the light of the Creator, denies Creation along with our singular uniqueness as beings. Just as we are a part of our mother, yet cannot entirely be our mother, we are microcosms of the macrocosm. We can relate to the macrocosm, yet, we cannot merge with it—this idea of oneness is Mayadevi’s delusion. The synthesis is: We are both related to our Creator, and yet also distinct from our Creator. We are a dualistic reflection of the dualistic reality that is God. One school wants to develop a personal relationship with the Supreme Being, the other wants to annihilate their singular expression as beings altogether. The Impersonal Sankarite school ultimately rejects Creation in their attempt to fuse with the Creator, and although there is a sensation of bliss (Brahmananda) to this consciousness, it repudiates Creation on both the macrocosmic level, and on a microcosmic level, for the being, attempting to escape form identification. Similarly, the aspiration for Nirvana is like an ostrich burying its head in the sands of oblivion in the hope that its existence will, somehow, go away! We are beings with essentially the same desire nature as the one who created us…a wish to relate to something other than oneself. If oneness were all the Creator desired, there would be no Creation—just the dark void of Nirvana, or the dazzling light of Brahma-sayujya. Clearly, God desires ‘to be’ both separate from, and part of, Creation. Ultimately, what the Supreme Being desires is to love, and be loved in return.

According to the divine principle of acintya-bedabheda, both oneness and plurality can, and do, exist happily together in Simultaneous Oneness and Distinction…ultimately, our souls are both one with, and yet, distinct from, our Creator like the two parts of a single pea.

Creation is the instrument through which the Great Soul clothes and expresses itself as the Supreme Being; it is also the instrument through which our souls express themselves as beings. We are beings in training; our ascension is the development of that expression towards greater love and harmony with each other, and ultimately our soul mate, our better half, our Creator. On the one hand, our false egos are being humbled, we are not the One, we are not in full control, we are just part of the mundane biology, tainted by the lower vibration of this primal and predatory realm; on the other, the human condition is specifically designed to encourage spiritual development.

This is a world of colourful, fragrant flowers, humming, buzzing bees, radiant rainbows, beauteous butterflies, and singing birds—its splendor emulates many transcendental aspects. When we walk in nature, we do sometimes glimpse a greater glory. Our beautiful planet is teeming with clues of a higher reality—it is a portal to the transcendental worlds—a place where this rare, deeply esoteric understanding is accessible. Blessed is the human form, and realm, for it is designed to offer the sincere seeker the incentive to graduate from the gross material universe.

We are loved greater than our capacity to understand; with this realized, one is like an enlightened caterpillar, happy to let the primal, human chrysalis fall away, to liberate the full magnificence of their inner being (swarup) through an intimate, serving relationship with the Divine Moieties (Radha and Krsna).

In attempting to merge with the light of the Great Soul, we seek to deny, rather than to develop, our own intrinsic expression of uniqueness. Of course, the Creator does not take back His/Her gifts, we remain beings, and our needs as beings—loving relationships, consciousness, beauty, existence, and individuality—will not be denied. The Buddhist and Sankarite try to repress, reject, or renounce these intrinsic desires, while the Vaisnavas internalize them, upon the heart, and there they cultivate relationships with Deities. We are the immortals we have been seeking! We are eternally, transmigrating souls.

Eventually, our souls awaken from the temporary hibernation of impersonal liberation. Our intrinsic need for intimacy, and personal relationships, eventually stirs the dormant soul within the brahmajoti (dazzling light of Brahman), or the dense, dark void of Nirvana; these jiva-souls, knowing only the mundane platform of expression, find themselves drawn back upon the wheel of Samsara (the mundane cycle of death and rebirth) moving back into phenomenality—form identification within the mundane, primal prison; back into old age, disease, death; back into the rot of this cathonic, mutable, temporary, realm, where anger, lust, and greed all too often prey upon our highest interests; for these souls have not yet begun to cultivate relationships with higher eternally youthful beings (Deities), experiencing an infinitely higher, and more satisfying reality, in a higher, and more exquisitely beautiful paradigm.

Thus, finally we come to see—in our heart of hearts—what we really, really, really want, more than anything else, is, a most personal and intimate relationship with a personal and intimate God. (That’s the Divine Romance.)

However, in both schools, when the process of detachment from the human body has begun, the person thus affected attains to the state of samadhi. In this state all external senses, one by one, refuse to perform their functions, and a whole new world opens up!

The eyes of the Lord could still see, but his ears were now closed to the din and clamour of the outside world. The Lord, impatient to get to Vrndavan, and being a worthy athlete, ran. So the crowd, including the bhaktas, were eventually left behind.

Nitai, Candrasekhar, Mukunda, and Govinda followed in his path. They had all fasted for two days, and passed the following night tracking him—even through jungles. Morning broke. The Lord was instinctively heading due west, toward Vrndavan. He would have left the bhaktas far behind, had he not met with frequent obstructions. In the beginning the crowd and people along the way hindered his progress, then the dense forests, brooks, and marshes. These delays enabled the bhaktas to occasionally glimpse his distant figure; yet, they had not his inspiration to sustain them, and were finding it increasingly difficult to keep up.

Then a four or five day fast was not unusual. The Lord had fasted for three days, but he was buoyed by Krsna-prem, which nourished every fiber of his being. The bhaktas, who had shared his fast, hour-by-hour grew more and more exhausted. Before dark, the Lord had disappeared from view altogether.

That night, the beleaguered bhaktas entered a village, where the Lord seemed to have vanished. “Have you seen a young sannyasi of immense beauty?” Nitai enquired. No one had. Hitherto, the distant sight of him had given them hope, now his disappearance made them lose heart. They were thoroughly depleted. “Oh Lord!” Nitai cried. “Do not forsake us! Thou art life, and we cannot live without thee. Did thou not tell us that thou would never forsake thy devotees?” Though urged by the villagers to replenish, they refused. They would not take even a drop of water until they had seen their master.

They passed the night in prayer. Just before daybreak, they heard the distant sounds of a woman weeping in distress. There is no one besides our Lord who can infuse such sorrow into his voice, they reasoned; then ran towards the heart-rending sound. Presently the dawn twilight revealed the figure of Lord Caitanya sitting beneath a banyan tree.

On the previous day, the Lord had discarded his staff and cup, which the bhaktas had found. His body was now naked and exposed to the bitter cold. He was sitting with only a piece of rag wrapped around his loins, his head resting on the palm of his left hand, and his back leaning against the trunk of the tree. He was weeping like a bereaved wife, who had just lost her dearly beloved husband. Indeed, neither man, nor beast, could bear it.

“My Krsna, don’t forsake me!” he cried in an eruption of grief. “I can no longer live without thee. If I have offended thee, considering that thou art merciful and that I am thy child, forgive me.” (Caitanya-bhagavat)

The tree under which the Lord sat exists to this day. A shrine to Gauranga has been erected there, where pilgrims still go to purify themselves.

The bhaktas were pleased to find him; yet greatly distressed at his desolate condition. “Do you want to save mankind, or kill them with grief?” asked Nitai.

The Lord had lost the service of his ears. Yet, he was, somehow, disturbed and instinctively rose to continue along his way. Step by step, he was now losing the service of his eyes, and soon ceased to see altogether!

He was in the state of complete samadhi. Though the external world was lost to him, His soul was alive with the idea that he was going to Vrndavan to worship Krsna, His pupils had disappeared behind his eyelids, he had to feel his way, and fell frequently. (Caitanya-candrodaya)

Nitai followed the Lord trying to catch him when he stumbled. His gold-hued body was besmeared with dirt. The bhaktas groaned at every accident they failed to prevent.

They had never seen him in such a state. His ears, eyes, and other senses had become paralyzed; yet, he was still walking and thinking! Their master was absolutely willful.

They had then no definite plan; yet, they were with their Lord, which gave them great hope.

He began reciting a sloka from the Srimad-Bhagavat, about a brahmana, who after leading a worldly life, resolved to spend his last days in Vrndavan to worship Krsna.

“The brahmana’s resolve was commendable,” he muttered. “Everyone should follow him.” He repeated the sloka, and again commented upon it.

Though the Lord was in peril, he was only ten miles from Nadia. Being blind he was now utterly helpless, had no sense of direction, and was failing to make progress. In fact, he was now veering towards home!

The author of Caitanya-mangal, Locanadas, states that while he was blindly roaming in the district of Burdwan, on his way to Vrndavan, Visnupriya was calling to him—the bitter anguish of her soul, her tears, her prayers, her misery, drew him towards her. For, says Locan, is not love more compelling than any other thing; only love will make Lord Krsna a serving friend. Is not the love of Visnupriya as pure as a gem? The Lord, therefore, could not progress, being beguiled by the attraction of his wife.

In Nadia his companions all fasted. Visnupriya refused even a drop of water. She lay upon the bare floor, under the bed in which she had passed her happiest nights—and the last pleasurable night of her life. Traces of the makeup, with which Nimai had decorated her, remained upon her body. She and mother Saci were weeping for him, while the Lord was weeping for Krsna. They had no thought of anyone besides him. So, while he was struggling towards Vrndavan, they were drawing him, with all their might, back towards Nadia.

Another day and night passed, and his senses remained impaired; yet, he still affirmed the tale of the brahmana, who had resolved to forsake society for Vrndavan and Krsna.

Upon the fifth day away from home, he passed through open pastures. There some boys, tending cows, raised a shout of “Haribol! Haribol!” These sweet words penetrated the Lord’s deaf ears. He suddenly stopped and looked about him; seeing this the boys again sang, “Haribol! Haribol!”

The Lord, for the first time since his complete samadhi, opened his eyes. The bhaktas were behind him—hiding. Indeed, they had no intention of revealing themselves, lest he object to their presence, and bid them return.

His vision was blurred. He vaguely saw that a few cowherd boys were singing, “Haribol! Haribol!” and, in their childish joy, dancing! The sight delighted him, so he ambled towards them, and beckoned them to come near. He touched the forehead of the leader, and said, “Pray, where did you learn the sweet name of Hari? Who taught you? Do you belong to Vrndavan?”

The boys did not understand.

“These cowherd boys must belong to Vrndavan,” he reasoned. “For all the cowherd boys in Vrndavan know the sweet names of Hari.” Lord Caitanya suddenly believed he was nearing Vrndavan…which was yet a sixty-day journey!

“You are nice boys, and no doubt beloved of Krsna. You know not my obligation to you. My ears were fasting. I have not heard the sweet name of Lord Hari for many days, and you know not what service you have done me by repeating it. Dear boys, to tell you the truth, I was dying—your sweet song has brought me back to life. Please sing it again.”

When the cowherd boys finished chanting, Caitanya—now semi-conscious—blessed them, and then asked them the way to Vrndavan. Nitai, from behind the Lord, gave them a signal to point to the Santipur road. The boys understood, and directed him to Santipur. He took that road, and followed it with open eyes and bent head.

It was decided that Candrasekhar should immediately proceed to Santipur, and have Advaita wait with a boat on the western bank of the Bhagirathi. Nitai would, somehow, maneuver the Lord to that spot.

Along the way Caitanya again repeated, and commented upon, the sloka about the brahmana. Nitai knew he was gradually recovering. So, as he followed, he began to make his presence known to him by coughing.

Finally, without turning his head, the Lord asked, “Can you tell me how far Vrndavan is from here?”

Nitai, from behind, as a stranger, answered, “Vrndavan is not very far. We are getting near.”

Lord Caitanya continued on alone—“swimming in an ocean of joy”—following in the wake of the brahmana, who chose to pass his days worshipping Krsna in Vrndavan.

Nitai believing that he might now be able to recognize him, caught up, and revealed himself.

The Lord raised his head, and fixed his lovely and lustrous eyes upon Nitai’s face.

This was the first time that the Lord had looked at him since his renunciation. Nitai wanted to cry. The Lord peered curiously at him and stammered, “It seems—it seems, I—I have seen you somewhere—your face seems somehow familiar.”

Nitai forcing a smile uttered, “Do you not know your slave, the sinful and fallen Nitai?”

“Can it be possible that you are Sripad? But how can that be? I left you in Bengal, now I’m nearing Vrndavan. How came you to be here?”

“Knowing that you were going to Vrndavan, I followed you, my Lord.”

“Can that be possible? You have done well. Would it not be supreme happiness for us to worship Sri Krsna together in Vrndavan? You know the way, for you have been there before. Please accompany me.”

Nitai led the Lord towards the western bank of the river, opposite Santipur, where he expected Advaita to be waiting. He hoped to take him across the river to Advaita’s house, that they might break fast.

“Will it not be supreme happiness for both of us to spend our days in the jungles of Vrndavan, worshipping Krsna?” said Sri Caitanya.

“Absolutely!”

“We shall walk upon land sanctified by the feet of Radha and Krsna. And when hungry we shall live upon madhukaree (alms from only five households). And, as beggars, with a piece of rag around our loins, we shall ask all the denizens of Vrndavan—men, women, animals, trees, shrubs and creepers—to tell us where Radha and Krsna once sported. Will not that be supreme happiness?”

Nitai nodded in agreement, reluctant to talk lest his transcendental fancies lead him back into samadhi—unmanageable, as he was before.

He could not remain quiet. “Dear Sripad, do you think that Sri Krsna will show himself to me?”

Nitai said frankly, “My Lord, you live upon Krsna-prem; you have no physical needs. But we lesser mortals have to satisfy our hunger and thirst. Let me first take care of my bodily needs, and then we shall apprehend Krsna.”

Seeing Nitai a little cross, the Lord paused, and tentatively asked, “How far is Vrndavan from here?”

“We are nearing it.”

Just then the broad glistening Bhagirathi came into view. At every step, Nitai was gaining heart. He felt sure of finding Advaita, and was confident that he and Advaita, together, would be able to direct him.

“You say we are nearing Vrndavan,” said Caitanya. “How far it is?”

Nitai, sure of success, pointed to the river and said, “Do you not see it?”

The Lord seeing the river asked Nitai its name. He said that it was the Jamuna. (The Jamuna that flows through Vrndavan.)

“That is the Jamuna! Are you sure? Is that the Jamuna?”

“Yes, that is the Jamuna, as sure as I’m Nitai.”

He ran with abandon towards the river. “Thou Jamuna! Thou bhakti-giving Jamuna, bless me.”

The five-day fast, toil, and sleeplessness had slowed his pace. Yet, upon hearing that the Jamuna was before him, he ran like a champion till he reached the river—into which he threw himself. Presently, he climbed back upon the bank, and with shut eyes, danced and wept with joy.

From a distance Advaita first wondered who the crazy mendicant might be. Then Nitai appeared. Approaching them slowly, Advaita saw his dear master, bald, scuffed, bruised, and clad only in a loincloth! He burst into loud sobs!

“Is this our Lord,” thought he, “the beautiful youth who soothes the eyes of all who look upon him? Is this the being who was more tenderly nurtured than a prince?”

Tears of joy were trickling down the Lord’s cheeks, for he had, at last, reached Vrndavan. Suddenly, a cry of distress disturbed him from his revelry.

He opened his eyes, and saw Advaita’s teary face before him, “Is it you, Acarya?”

“Yes,” sobbed Advaita.

“How exceedingly fortunate! Now we three shall pass our days in Vrndavan worshipping Krsna,” smiled Caitanya to his dear companions.

Advaita knew nothing of Nitai’s ploy.

“How did you come here? How did you come to Vrndavan before us?”

Advaita was puzzled. He hesitated, and looked to Nitai…the jig was up! “This is not the Jamuna, it’s the Bhagirathi,” said Lord Caitanya, “and the town that I see on the other bank is Santipur. So Sripad, my dear brother, you have tricked me! How sad. I became a sannyasi to obtain my Krsna, only to find that you, brother, have led me astray!”

Nitai hung his head.

Advaita, who now clearly understood everything, said, “There was no trick, my Lord. No human being can trick you. It is written in our scriptures that the Jamuna passes by the western bank of the Bhagirathi. So, if the sastras are to be believed, you have, indeed, bathed in the Jamuna.

“But I was led to believe, also, that this was Vrndavan,” said Caitanya somewhat agitated. “That, at least, was deception.”

“And is it not Vrndavan?” Advaita quizzically replied. “Wherever you are is Vrndavan. Who can deny that?” And he uttered two quotations from the scriptures, showing that the Jamuna flows by the western bank of the river Bhagirathi, and that wherever Sri Krsna happens to be is Vrndavan. “My dear Lord,” continued Advaita, “everything is ordained by your will. No man can do anything without your sanction. You have come back to save our lives. All your people are dying, and you have been fasting these five days.” (This he had learned from Candrasekhar.) Advaita then gently clasped the right hand of the Lord, to lead him to the boat.

Caitanya resisted, “You have all made a fool of me. I can’t do anything I wish. I see the joke! I was going to Vrndavan, and now I’m at Santipur.” The Lord glared at Nitai.

“My Lord,” Nitai boldly replied, “for five days we have not slept a wink, ate a morsel of food, or drank a drop of water. You can survive on Krsna-prem; we lesser men need to be fed. Let us go and have a good meal at Advaita’s. More importantly, your followers are all dying; please, please see them….Yes, I misled you, and I’ll gladly take my punishment from Krsna.”

Caitanya reluctantly took Advaita’s hand.

When the boat had left the bank, Nitai sighed with great relief. He looked at Advaita and playfully said, “Of course, the Lord doesn’t care, but I’m starving, and can’t wait to sample your generous hospitality.”

“The service you have done us is more valuable than anything I can offer,” replied Advaita.

Finally, they all arrived at Advaita’s house, where the Lord, Nitai, and others, were treated to prasad (blessed food). The Lord, having become a sannyasi, was now an object of veneration to Advaita, who was merely a householder. Advaita, therefore, expressed a desire to tend to his feet.

“I’ve become a play thing in your hands. Pray excuse me from this service, and remember—I don’t wish to be treated as if I were an imbecile,” said Caitanya still peeved.

As dusk approached the followers of Advaita gathered at his house with instruments for the evening ceremony of Arati. Advaita wanted to show the Lord how he had taught kirtan to the devotees. The Lord and Nitai sat upon his verandah watching, while Advaita began with a famous song (of union and separation) by the illustrious Bidyapati, in which Radha is addressing her maid thus:

My beloved Krsna has come at last, My joy knows no bounds. I will never more allow my beloved to leave. Now is the time for the moon to rise, Now is the time for the nightingale to sing.

Mukunda continued singing:

The pangs of separation from Krsna Are acting like a poison that has entered My body and is killing me. Where shall I go to find my lord? Who will give me wings to fly to him?

The Lord suddenly fell down in a swoon. Everybody flocked to restore him. Shortly thereafter, he got up and danced.

The Lord had eaten after five days of fasting. Advaita now wished him to rest. So he stopped the kirtan and bid the Lord and Nitai retire to bed.

Before falling asleep, Nitai said to the Lord, “Forgive me, but I have a request to make.”

“What is it?”

“They are all slowly dying in Nadia. I would like to bring your mother and the bhaktas here to meet with you.”

“Yes, my sudden departure gave them pain. Bring them, that I might take proper leave of them. Do you know why I haven’t been able to go to Vrndavan? It’s because I gave them such grief by leaving without notice.”

“Who can I bring?” Nitai was overjoyed.

“Whoever wishes to come.”

 “You’re sure?”

“Of course.”

“Whoever wishes to come?”

“Bring all those who wish to come, except one.”

Ch. 29

Candrasekhar had left the Lord with Nitai, delivered the message to Advaita, and then proceeded to Nadia. He had neither the courage, nor the heart, to call upon Saci and Visnupriya; who now feared that Nimai had left them for good. The elderly matrons watched over Saci and tended to her needs. In one thing she was firm, she would not break her fast—not even a drop of water—until she heard from her son.

Similarly, the younger ladies gave their support to Visnupriya. She also refrained from food and drink. She lay at night upon the bare floor, beside the bed where she had passed the happiest, and what was destined to be the last, pleasurable night of her life. She tossed, and moaned, and muttered, “Heaven has willed it!”

Early the following morning Nitai reached the Lord’s house. He knocked at the door, and called out to Saci, “Mother, it’s me.”

Saci, recognizing the voice, immediately went out to inquire if Nimai was found.

“Yes, mother, but he’s not with me.”

Saci stood upon the verandah. Visnupriya hid behind the door.

“It’s true the Lord has become a sannyasi. He’s waiting at Advaita’s hermitage in Santipur to see your good self and the bhaktas.”

Saci certainly heard the first part of the message, but it’s doubtful whether she heard the second, for upon uttering the name of her son, she fell down and passed out. While Visnupriya sank into a chair, dazed and dejected.

Nimai’s monumental mission swiftly spread throughout Nadia, and left the population reeling; robbed them of a portion of their own worldliness, and removed any animosity towards him. Was there ever such a sacrifice? Was he not more than a prince? What prince would forgo his comforts and pleasures without hope of recompense? Was he not more beautiful than Kandarpa (Cupid), more learned than (the goddess of wisdom) Saraswati?

He has gladly relinquished everything, and for what? A mendicant’s cup and rags, and the society of wild beasts! He has left behind him a bed as soft as swan’s down, and as white as the froth of milk, to rest upon the ground!

Former enemies now wept. Foes and friends alike repaired to the house of Saci to get the scoop, and to soothe his bereaved family. And, in no time, her home, and the whole neighbourhood, became packed with all manner of people.

Saci, awaking from her swoon, was startled to find that almost all the inhabitants of Nadia had come to console her! “Glory to the mother of Nimai Pandit,” said a former opponent of his. And added, “A sannyasi in a family saves all his relatives, even to the fourteenth generation, and Nimai Pandit is a sannyasi and then some. For, is he not the greatest bhakta the world has ever known?”

“Glory to the mother of Gaura-Hari—the friend of the aggrieved and fallen,” cried a bhakta. “Glory to his wife, who will be blessed for the salvation of millions,” said another.

In the midst of this tumult, Saci was preparing to journey, with all convenient haste, to Santipur. “Mother,” said Nitai, “you must first break your fast—you and the lady within.”

Saci would fain have refused; then thinking that unless she broke her fast, her daughter would not do so, she agreed. Some rice was quickly cooked, which Saci persuaded Visnupriya to share. Thus, after a complete fast of five successive days, they partook of food—though only a few mouthfuls.

A litter arrived to transport Saci. It was placed in the courtyard, in the midst of the vast crowd, who were venting their jubilation with peal after peal of “Haribol!” Saci, escorted by some elderly ladies, walked towards the litter along a path of parting people. Upon reaching the conveyance, she paused and rested upon it for a moment.

She was unaware of being followed by another, a lady, covered with a veil, who seemed to be quite young—judging by the jingling sound of the musical anklets she wore. Everyone quickly surmised who she might be. Their suppositions were soon confirmed when the veiled lady caught hold of Saci’s sari—of course, it was Visnupriya!

The well dressed, and veiled, young lady was the wife of the Lord. The crowd was hushed.

Saci, in her haste, had momentarily forgotten her daughter. Even Srivas and the others waiting in the courtyard, were then oblivious to the existence of Nimai’s young wife. Suddenly, Saci’s daughter in law appeared by her side, anxious to accompany her. She, too, claimed her right to go to Santipur to see her husband.

Saci broke the chilling silence, “I forgot you daughter. If I go, you must go also.”

“Mother, Visnupriya has not the Lord’s permission to go,” said Nitai sadly.

The announcement caused another silent sensation to ripple through the throng.

“Then I won’t go either,” said Saci.

The young lady, upon hearing the wishes of her husband, pondered for a moment, then let go of Saci’s sari, and taking the arm of her maid, amidst the most poignant silence, turned towards her home; at every step, only the sweet jingling sound from the musical panjar, that she wore upon her ankles, could be heard—lacerating the hearts of all those present.

The announcement first gave Visnupriya a shock. No one had suffered more than she by his renunciation. Could it therefore be just that she should be refused permission, whilst almost the whole population of Nadia was running to him?

Yet, Visnupriya could not have seen her lord without jeopardizing his true purpose. To see him may have caused Caitanya, as a sannyasi, to fall from his high state. Her husband was an Avatar—humanity’s saviour; she would suffer in the knowledge that her loving husband refuses her, not from any want of affection, but because he must!

A little reflection showed that he had only honoured her by making her the exception. She knew that he was a great being. She then naturally understood that she must be an important factor in his mission. When this realization flashed into her mind, she not only felt consoled, but also gratified—filled by a joy, which surpasseth all understanding. A joy that protected her from the dark misery that sought to drag her down. A joy that knew how deeply the Lord loved her.

Visnupriya conveyed to Saci that she should go alone. Saci agreed, for she too recognized that it would not be seemly to take her. So, she entered the litter, and was finally on her way. The excruciating silence was then broken by continuous peals of “Haribol!” which imparted instant relief to all those present.

Bashu Ghose, of Nadia, in one of his songs, declares: “I followed Saci to Santipur, weeping all the way.”

Thousands accompanied the litter. The Lord’s self-sacrifice had created a wave of sweetness, which saturated the whole country, and washed away all ill feelings towards him. The citizens of Nadia had seen him, as a bridegroom, a prince, a brilliant personality sauntering through the city, and they now knew that he had forsaken everything to serve God. His enemies were ashamed; some of them resolved to go to Santipur, to beg his forgiveness.

With peal after peal of “Haribol!” uttered by thousands of voices, the citizens of Nadia, with Saci in their midst, entered Santipur. The town had become—“a sea of souls”—thronged with tens of thousands of human beings.

The Lord had arrived only the previous afternoon; yet, his presence had already turned the town upside down. The news spread like wild fire that Pandit Nimai, after entering the order of sannyas, was staying at Santipur, and people journeyed to see him from all parts of the country.

Early that morning Advaita saw, to his dismay, that the walls surrounding his retreat might collapse under the pressure of an ever-increasing crowd, and hastily engaged a number of stalwart men to protect the property!

Thousands of awe-inspired people, drawn to the newly initiated sannyasi, could be heard crying, “Save us, saviour of humanity!” The arrival of Krsna Caitanya awakened them to the knowledge that they had, hitherto, been living very superficial, purposeless, and sinful lives—paving paths to perdition. Fortunately, they had not yet died with all their evil karma on their heads. They wished only to run to him, and fall at his feet; they amassed, hundreds of thousands, with the cry of “Save us, saviour of humanity!” upon their lips.

A song of that period addressed to the Lord, describes the feeling that pervaded the populous:

I have heard from saints that thou art merciful, I am helplessly drowning in the ocean of worldliness, Please catch me by the hair, And lift me onto the lifeboat of thy feet, For I rely upon thee alone. Once more, to save the fallen, thou hast appeared, Where wilt thou find a greater sinner than I? I am a loathsome and hateful creature. Yet, since thou art an ocean of mercy, Please rescue me Lord, or I am doomed.

They saw that they had led worthless lives; that death was imminent; that the means of salvation was now at hand. So, they ran to the Lord, as one bitten by a deadly snake would run to a serpent doctor.

The Lord was escorted out upon the terrace of Advaita’s ashram where the assembled masses could view him. His tall stature, his finely wrought limbs, his golden completion, his chiseled features, his innocent eyes, and his mild yet majestic grace—dressed in the crude garb of a sannyasi—he was the epitome of bhakti.

Everyone keenly felt that the Lord was looking directly at him, or her. Everyone believed that their prayers had been heard, and that they had been saved. They stood transfixed, gazing at Gauranga with tender, teary and supplicating eyes.

Lord Caitanya, raising his right arm, broke the silence: “Say Hari!”

The skies were rent with peal after peal of “Haribol!” “Haribol!” “Haribol!” from hundreds of thousands of mouths.

Just then the citizens of Nadia appeared with Saci in their midst. If they, at Santipur, were celebrating the occasion with peal after peal of “Haribol,” those of Nadia were also approaching with the same sacred words issuing from their lips, and thus the “Haribol” of Santipur was greeted by the “Haribol” of Nadia.

The crowd parted, and a passageway was made for Saci. The Lord saw from the terrace the conveyance that contained his mother, and came down hurriedly to welcome her. The guards at the outer gate of the courtyard made way for her and the leading bhaktas.

Saci peeped out of the litter, and there stood the tall form of Nimai, with folded hands and penitent expression.

As his mother stepped out, Nimai fell prostrate before her, and caught her feet and touched them with his head (a gesture forbidden to a sannyasi—who has vowed not to bow down to anyone).

Saci, witnessing the Lord’s astonishing magnetism, momentarily robbed her of the idea that he was her child. So she said, “Nimai, is it proper that you should humble yourself to me? You’re now a holy man, while I remain a worldly woman. If you honour me you do me injury. But I’m a fool to speak thus. You know best what is good for me. If it would injure me, you would never have done so.”

In the midst of her rambling, she was gradually overtaken by her maternal feelings, which had been only temporarily displaced. “Nimai, get up please, you pain me. Let me see you.” Saci pulled her son towards her, and smelled his head. She lovingly looked upon his face, touched his shaven pate, and uttered, “How could that cruel barber cut your hair, the pride of Nadia? And how could that cruel man, Kesava Bharati, permit a youth like you to enter his order?”

The Lord remained silent, his head submissively bowed, as if he were the naughtiest son in the world.

Saci quickly found herself overwhelmed by the flood of familial feelings. “Was it for this, Nimai,” she continued, “that I, a widow, strained my resources to give you a first class education? How can I, your mother, bear the sight that you now present to me, wearing a rag around your loins? You’re the life of my life; you whose absence I could never bear even for a moment. You who were nursed so tenderly, to think that you’re now a sannyasi, destined to seek shelter in caves and under trees, a mendicant dependent upon charity for your daily bread!” Here mother Saci paused choked by her emotions. After having recovered herself, she again looked reproachfully at her son, and continued, “Have you reflected upon the legacy you leave me—that of the young girl—your wife? Tell me how am I to console her? Can a mother bear all this and live? If your intention was to quit society, why did you not take leave of me, or wait until I was dead?”

“Mother, I ran off it in a state of frenzy. I’ll do nothing in future without your permission. My body is yours—it’s absolutely at your disposal. I have no right to go anywhere without your consent. It matters not that I’ve entered into the order of sannyas. If you wish it, I’ll return to society, even to Nadia.” And with tearful eyes he implored his mother to forgive him. He said that he now understood how much he had distressed her by his sudden departure, and would do so no more, but would henceforth abide absolutely by her rule.

The bhaktas knew they should give them privacy, yet, they could not. They saw the meeting of a mother and son, under such extraordinary circumstances, that the spectacle enthralled them.

Advaita’s wife, Sita, who was patiently waiting to escort Saci to the ladies’ quarters, earnestly entreated her to conclude matters. So, taking Sita’s arm, the mother of Lord Caitanya, in the midst of repeated peels of “Haribol” then entered the house.

Saci saw that Sita had already made preparations for cooking the Lord’s dinner, and being eager to busy herself, said: “Please let me do this service, probably the last, for my son.”

The Lord then found himself face to face with his Nadia bhaktas. Their haggard and dejected appearance moved him to affectionately embrace each and every one of them.

“My Lord, we were dead,” claimed Srivas, “now we have life again.”

Advaita was busy catering to his numerous guests. He was a wealthy man, that is to say he had many disciples who were wealthy. He was, therefore, able to provide adequate shelter, and food, for all the bhaktas who had accompanied Saci from Nadia.

That evening, Advaita wanted to make kirtan a grand affair. Saci sat with Sita upon the verandah to participate in the festivities; yet, she sat with a heavy heart, for Visnupriya was not by her side!

The Lord, as a mendicant, looked “a million times more beautiful” than he had as the well-groomed householder. The crude garb of a holy man heightened his celestial aura. To look at him was to revere him, and thus be filled with devotion, or bhakti, for God. This sublime being was in their presence—a being they had lost, but now again found. A wave of emotion transported everyone present; many fancied that they were in close communion with Krsna himself.

The Lord was, hitherto, sitting alone—passively watching the proceedings. He suddenly felt inspired to join in. His six days of delirium were over. Joining the kirtan, in the simple garb of a holy man, caused an enormous outburst of joy. Yet, no sooner had he begun to dance, than he fainted and fell down!

Though it was Nitai’s duty to catch him, he was not always successful. The Lord hit the floor with a solid thud. Saci shuddered, fearing he had broken something. She closed her eyes and began to pray: “Krsna, my Lord, when my Nimai falls down, please keep him in one piece—and, please, let me not have to witness it.”

Murari, a chronicler of the early life of the Lord, was standing beside mother Saci. He had not the heart to join the kirtan; the renunciation of Nimai had been a terrible blow to him. He had suffered, both in mind and body. In a song he thus describes the condition of Saci on this occasion:

The Lord’s mother could bear it no longer; it was late—her son should be allowed to retire. Yet, she saw there was no chance of the kirtan stopping, so she rose and began to shout, “Nitai! Do watch my Nimai carefully.” But Nitai, in the middle of the kirtan, couldn’t hear a word. Then she began loudly to call upon Advaita, and then upon the crowd: “Stop your kirtan, please, it’s getting late. Have mercy upon my child, he’s too weary for all this. Do you not see that he’s likely to break his bones by these falls?” No one listened, for they were all intoxicated with ecstasy.

In this celebratory manner two or three days passed, with Saci personally cooking her son’s meals.

“I did wrong by suddenly disappearing from you,” Caitanya confessed to his companions. “It was for that reason I couldn’t go straight to Vrndavan. Also, the grief of my mother weighed heavily upon my heart. When I promised to strictly abide by her instructions, I was never more serious about anything in my life. Indeed, if she now advises me to give up my vow, return home, and re-enter society, I will do so. Yet, I cannot receive my orders from her lips; she’s so fond of me, in my presence, she loses her independence. I therefore ask you to learn from her my fate. Tell her that my body is absolutely hers. I repeat, if she wishes, I will go back with her to Nadia and re-enter society.”

This strange request very much surprised the bhaktas. Only a week had passed since Nimai’s sannyas, and now he was absolutely surrendered to his mother! And who was this mother? A simple, senior citizen of sixty-seven, who adores no one in the world like her universally worshipped son. If she is given carte blanche to decide his fate, surely she will bid him to accompany her to Nadia.

To return to society, after taking the vows of sannyas, is not only to court ridicule, contempt, and social death in this world, but almost everlasting perdition in the next! However, the bhaktas felt the Lord was above all scriptural injunctions. They had been dying in his absence, and could not live without him. They had absolutely sold themselves to him. They certainly would not object to him re-entering society; in fact they would consider such an arrangement most agreeable.

The bhaktas believed their master to be Sri Krsna in disguise. They recognized that he had become a beggar simply to soften the hearts of his creatures, and therein sow the seed of bhakti. The garb of a mendicant upon the person of the Lord was, therefore, a liability to humanity; it was their fallen condition that compelled him to appear before them in the role of a poor mendicant, that they might love him. Our duty, they deemed, is to place our Lord on a throne of gold and worship him, instead of compelling him to beg from door to door—where his creatures may cast him off as a thing of no worth. The proposal of the Lord, therefore, delighted them. They reasoned that if Saci were to decide the destiny of her son, she would surely take him back with her to Nadia.

In high spirits, the leading bhaktas then surrounded good mother Saci. They all bowed to her, and Nitai, anxious to deliver the message, said: “Mother, we bring good news. It was not a mere compliment paid to you by the Lord, when he promised that he would, henceforth, abide by your wishes. He was perfectly serious. Now, he has sent us to find out what your wishes are. What can your wishes be, other than he should return home with you to his wife? Please give us your decision so that—having come weeping to Santipur—we may return dancing to Nadia.”

Advaita looked disapprovingly at Nitai and said, “We have no right to sway his mother by any remark of our own. He sent us lest his presence should influence her against her own inclination. Let us, therefore, deliver the message honestly, and allow the good lady to form her own opinion.”

“It is quite true,” said Advaita addressing Saci, “the Lord is prepared to abide by your word. He said that he disappeared without your knowledge, and therefore Sri Krsna punished him by bringing him back. He feels his body belongs to you absolutely, and he now wants to know your wishes. He will only follow your instructions. If you wish it, he will cease to be a sannyasi, go back to Nadia, and live as a householder. He wants your unbiased opinion, so he has sent us as his representatives, so that you might decide without his distracting presence.”

The message caused Saci to hang her head and deliberate. Everyone expected to see signs of happiness upon her face; they saw none, rather, deep anxiety. This attitude of his mother surprised them; even upset them! One said, “Why do you hesitate, mother? Surely you’re not going to permit him to leave Nadia?”

Saci smiled sadly, “Do you mean to say that I should now take my son home? That is simply impossible. I would only be thinking of what is comfortable for him, and convenient for me.”

The bhaktas were frustrated. “And so, mother,” said another, “you’ll cast him off although he is willing to return?”

Saci paused, “If I now order back my son, it will, no doubt, please you and thousands of others, but he will become a laughing stock. Yet, even that is a small matter. My son took a solemn and sacred vow only a week ago. He will fall down spiritually by breaking it. Now, it’s quite true, the absence of my son may eventually kill me, but I’d rather die a hundred deaths everyday, than stand in the way of his spiritual progress. Of course, if I had been at the monastery of Kesava Bharati, when he was initiated, I would have tried to dissuade him; now, that’s too late. Tell him not to mourn for me, or feel any regret for having left so suddenly. My dutiful son would never have left me without my consent.” She looked reproachfully at the bhaktas, “Tell my son, that since he has entered the order, he must keep his vow at all costs!”

Saci looked so grand and beautiful, when she delivered her message, that the bhaktas raised a chorus of admiration. Their feelings had blinded them; the words of Saci swiftly removed the film from their eyes. They realized that she was right.

The bhaktas saw that no sincere mother could, for the sake of her familial attachment, sacrifice a worthy son. Clearly, the Lord knew his mother. He knew the mettle she was made of, or he would never have selected her as a parent. Only a worthy mother could have such a worthy son.

Yet, Saci did not pay any attention to what the bhaktas muttered amongst themselves. “What would you say if Nimai were to go and live at the Temple of Jagannath, in Puri?” she asked them. “It’s not as far as Vrndavan. It’s a place where sannyasis live and congregate. People go there on pilgrimage. If my Nimai settles there, I’ll be able to get news from him, and his vow of renunciation will remain intact.”

This Temple of Jagannath, which exists to this day, is about three weeks journey, on foot, from Santipur. Saci continued: “Yes, he could abide nearer home, but then you and others will be tempted to pester him. If he were nearer home, I too must rise above the temptation to bother him. He must be irreproachable, he has a mission—a mission to save humanity—let us not, for our own happiness and ease, stand in the way of such great work.”

“Go tell my son my wishes,” said she sobbing, and fell down in anguish. “So it is I that send my son away! Oh how unlucky!” she cried while rolling upon the ground. The bhaktas reminded Saci that such demonstrations were unworthy of the mother of Sri Krsna. Sita consoled her as best she could. The bhaktas left to deliver her message with heavy hearts, softened with admiration for the old lady.

Caitanya heard the message with a knowing smile. “Her will is my law, and you should take a leaf from her book. May Krsna bless you.” To Advaita he said, “I’m now going to Jagannath.”

“Going!” said Advaita. “What’s that you say?”

The word was quickly out—the Lord was “Going!”

Suddenly he was standing with his staff in one hand, and his cup in the other. Indeed, the Lord would have taken leave of his mother and fled, then and there, were it not for the ardent solicitude of the bhaktas surrounding him. Seeing Saci moving towards him, he advanced to meet her, and fell at her feet. Then son and mother sat and quietly convened.

The bhaktas were concerned; the Hindu King of Orissa, and the Muslim King of Bengal were at odds; no one was allowed to go from there to Puri.

Caitanya said that Krsna would protect him, and that he must go to see Nilacal Candra (an icon in the Temple of Jagannath). It was of no moment to him whether he departed then, or later. Saci said nothing, for she already had given her decree. Advaita, however, intervened and with folded hands, implored the Lord to stay just few days longer.

“Very well,” replied the Lord, and there was again joy in Santipur.

Thus, the Lord was prevailed upon to remain another five days. The devotees decided who should go with him. He did not wish to take any of them; yet, in his volatile state he could not be allowed to go alone. From among thousands five were selected, vis., Nityananda, Mukunda, Jagadananda, Govinda, and Damodar. It was decided that Gadadhar and Narahari were much too young to go. Householders, also, could not accompany him; thus Murari, Srivas, and others were refused the privilege. Haridas could have gone, were it not for the fact that he was, originally, a Muslim, and as such was not then permitted to enter Orissa. Haridas fell at the feet of Gauranga and wept, “My Lord, you forsake none except this poor worm—for I have no authorization to go to that country.” The Lord promised that he would soon be able to take him there, which he did.

The five days all too quickly passed, and the Lord prepared to depart. He fell at the feet of mother Saci, “In a moment of haste I renounced society. Mother, forgive the follies of your wayward child. I am yours, forever. I shall see you again, and you shall get news of me often. I know you and others will pine for me; yet, such feelings should be trampled under foot. Let us serve Krsna, and we shall get whatever we desire. What I told you, I repeat now—whether it be yourself, or Visnupriya, or anyone that loves me, and wants to see me ardently—I shall be visible in your heart.”

Then he departed with a “Haribol” and made haste southward.

Saci, sitting silently as a statue, gazed at the receding figure of her son. The litter was soon made ready for her to journey home; the Nadia bhaktas waited to accompany her. Once the Lord disappeared from view, the lady fainted. The litter returned her to Nadia, accompanied by thousands of weeping souls.

From the approaching sound of the wailing crowd, Visnupriya knew her lord had, indeed, left society, and herself, for good.

Ch. 30

The Krsna of Vrndavan disappeared from the heart of the golden Avatar; it was now Nilacal-Candra (Lord Jagannath) who ruled that organ. To him, however, there was no distinction between Krsna and the latter. He was not conflicted. His whole being was perfectly balanced, a pivotal point between all opposites. He knew how energy followed thought. His focused consciousness—enthused with compassion—tangibly purified and elevated everything he contacted. With him nothing was ethereal not even prem. When his attention was upon someone, he absorbed their whole soul, and loved them more dearly than any being on earth.

At Santipur he had replenished. There, in the midst of his bhaktas, and in the society of his mother, he was unable to abide by the rigid rules of a sannyasi; there he eat well, and sleep on a soft bed. Yet, as soon as he left Santipur, he began to follow all the rigorous regulations of his order; which were, hitherto, thought to be impossible for any man to uphold.

As a boy follows a truant paper kite, the Lord ran with uplifted head, towards the south, in pursuit of the Lord of his heart. He divested himself of worldly comforts, for it was now the divine nectar that absorbed and sustained him. How can the necessities of the body affect a being that is running with the declaration: “Jagannath! Thou doth call unto me.” His path meandered beside the banks of the Ganges, and he ran along it with the same alacrity as he had ran to Katwa to renounce society.

He passed Calcutta, which was then a jungle, and at last reached Chhatrabhoge, where the Ganges, with innumerable tidal mouths, enters the ocean. It is a place where human dwellings do not exist, and the Bengal country ends. The Lord now needed a way to traverse the wide estuary.

Just at this time the Governor of this vicinity, Ramcandra Khan, arrived at a near by town. He ruled that part of Bengal under the Muslim sovereign of Gaur. He had to defend the border from the people of Orissa—then ruled by the Hindu sovereign, Pratap-rudra. So, Ramcandra, while residing in a frontier town, heard that a wonderful mendicant was close by, who was thought to be a god.

Intrigued by these reports, Ramcandra sought to find Gauranga. In no time, he and his men spied five ascetics, keeping guard over a beautiful young man, who was weeping with his head between his knees. “My Lord Krsna,” he sobbed, “my beloved! Wilt thou not reveal thyself to me? Dost thou not know my heart is thirsting for thee? My sweet Lord, Oh my Jagannath, give me wings that I might fly to thee.”

Ramcandra revealed himself, bowed to the Lord, and stood astonished before him. He had never seen such a being. The heart-rending tones, in which Caitanya sobbed, melted him. “Swami, why do you weep?” asked Ramcandra. “Can I be of any assistance?” The Lord was too self absorbed to hear. Nitai told him that their leader was weeping for Jagannath.

“Can I be of service? Can I help him?” asked Ramcandra.

“Yes, if you could ferry us across the estuary to Orissa?”

Ramcandra pondered. He was not authorized to allow anyone either to go from Bengal to Orissa, or from Orissa to Bengal. “Will you please let the young goswami know that, come what may, this very night I shall send him over the border into Orissa. Will he now stop weeping?”

Nitai was overjoyed—for he saw in this the mysterious ways of the Lord.

A boat arrived that evening, as promised, and the Lord found himself, with his followers, deposited in the Province of Orissa.

In the morning they saw a washer-man, beating clothes upon a plank; engaged in his work he had no eye for the holy men that were passing. Yet, Caitanya, though usually oblivious to the outer world, stopped, approached him, and said, “Washer-man, say Haribol.”

The man thought that the mendicants had come to beg alms; so, without looking up, he replied that he was poor and had nothing to give.

“We want nothing from you, except that you say Haribol.” repeated Sri Caitanya.

The washer-man, still suspecting that the bothersome bhaktas wanted him make a donation, refused. “I am a poor man,” he said, “and have to work to provide for my family. I can’t afford to stop beating this cloth and play games.”

“Is that why?” smiled Caitanya. “Then let me take the cloth, and do the beating, while you say Haribol.”

The washer-man reluctantly complied, though he declined to hand over the cloth. “You are very persistent,” he said a little peeved. “Well, tell me, what am I to say?”

“Say, Haribol.”

“Haribol,” said the washer-man.

“Say it again,” said Caitanya.

 “Haribol.” 

“Once more, please,” insisted Caitanya.

“Haribol, Haribol, Haribol,” he then continued to repeat the name involuntarily. Indeed, the name “stuck to his tongue”—he could not stop chanting. He rapidly entered into a state of elation, and then raising both his hands, began to dance!

The spectacle, though wondrous, was also very funny, and the bhaktas, including the Lord, burst out laughing.

The wife of this bhakti-stricken washer-man appeared with a plate of rice for her husband. She saw him dancing with up-lifted arms and vigorously singing, “Haribol! Haribol! Haribol!”

She laughed and said, “I didn’t know that you were a dancing man.” Her husband made no reply. She then noticed there was no luster in his eyes.

She sought to rouse him by calling him loudly, but to no avail. She ran to her village, “Help! Help!” she cried to her neighbours. “My husband has been possessed by a ghost!”

Some villagers accompanied the washer-man’s wife, and saw her husband still dancing. At first they chuckled also, then seeing his plight, they sought to awaken him. Yet, though it was day, they were reluctant to approach one thought to be possessed by a ghost. A bold neighbour finally clasped the washer-man’s arm. Instantly, the name of Hari danced upon his tongue, while he in turn, danced with the washer-man. However, he did not completely lose his senses. He beckoned the others to come nearer. They came, and he embraced them. They too were immediately under the spell!

Eventually, the entire village was chanting and dancing under the holy influence.

The above, incredible incident, is described in the “Notes of Govinda.” The Lord could throw a man into a trance by a touch, or look; sometimes people were affected simply by brushing against his garments. Even more extraordinary, the people thus affected, imbibed the divine influence for life. Having fallen under the divine charm of Lord Gauranga, no one ever returned to his, or her, previous state!

In those days the Hindus had more temples than houses; every village was replete with sacred shrines, and everywhere there was provision for holy men, pilgrims, and wayfarers. Even today, such hospitality is not unusual. However, when the Muslims invaded, they zealously destroyed all holy structures. Yet, they were not able to invade Orissa, and everything there remained intact. The Lord, and his followers, thus had no difficulty in procuring a place of rest, or a handful of rice. Gauranga, now in an elevated state, spoke very little; the only conversation he broached with Nitai was upon whether Jagannath would allow him to see his face!

One day Nitai told him the story of Madhavendra Puri, the guru of Iswar Puri, who, in his turn, was the guru of Gauranga. It was from Iswar Puri, at Gaya, that the Lord first received his initiation. Madhavendra was so pleased with the service of his disciple, Iswar, that he imbued him with all the Krsna-prem that he had acquired from a long life of ardent devotion to the Supreme Deities. To such men prem and bhakti were potent realities. Nitai related how Madhavendra Puri was lying beneath a tree, with Iswar tending him, when his last moment arrived; he then folded his hands with the deepest veneration, and uttered the following prayer, in the form of a sloka:

Oh my Lord Krsna, whose heart melteth at the misery of the lowly, I have been seeking thee; when wilt thou appear before me?

Madhavendra Puri’s soul quit his body, while uttering this sloka. The Lord upon hearing his dying words, fell down in a swoon. He rose, shortly thereafter, and danced, while uttering the first few words of the sloka.

Later that day, the bhaktas pointed out to the Lord, the distant temple of Jagannath; there, his mother had directed him to remain for the rest of his days; there, he was to find Jagannath, his Krsna, the thought of whom now solely occupied his being. The distant sight exhilarated him!

He wanted to run; yet, running was too slow. He really wanted to fly. So he ran with all his might towards the temple, and quickly became overwhelmed and fell down. He rose to run again, only to fall down as before. When the bhaktas caught up, he pointed to the top of the temple, and told them in a sloka (only half of which he was able to utter, for he was delirious with joy!) “Behold, upon the summit of the temple, Sri Krsna, with a smiling face, is beckoning me towards him.”

The bhaktas saw nothing. The Lord, however, could wait no longer. Sri Krsna was calling him. He ran towards the temple yelling, “Here I am!”

Earlier, the Lord had told his companions that he wished to see Jagannath alone. So, when he ran, they lagged behind. Yet, they were seized with one apprehension. The “Bizarre material figure” of Lord Jagannath was seated upon a throne, in an inner chamber of the temple. He was the absolute King of Puri, and was treated as such. He was bathed, fed, and at night put to bed. He was fanned in the summer, and wrapped with a quilt in the winter. He had, of course, innumerable servants; the king, Pratap-rudra, being one of them—whose duty it was to sweep the street before the temple with a broom made of gold!

The prodigious statue of Lord Jagannath, being protected by numerous guards, was as inaccessible and unapproachable as a monarch. To be able to secure an audience, pilgrims had to apply to those who attended upon him.

The above arrangement was, in many respects, perfect. Our Creator, by means of an image, is brought face to face with his creatures. Of course, everyone has the privilege of seeking him in their hearts, and those who can do so have no need of going to a temple. Yet, as few people are so fortunate, a temple with a divine image serves a necessary purpose. An aspirant seeks God in the heart and does not find him there; then one might visit a temple, and reveal the treasure of ones innermost thoughts to the divine image. This is the first stage. Eventually, the same image seen in the temple is revealed within ones heart. This is the second stage. And, the third stage is, when this divine image, within ones heart, becomes a living being!

Jagannath (the Lord of the Universe) is holding court within the temple. The pilgrim comes to see him after days and months of travel, only to find his passage barred by guards. This increases the pilgrim’s thirst for, and estimation of, the Lord. If Jagannath were easily accessible, his awe-inspiring presence would lose much of its mystique. Hence, guards keep watch over him, and pilgrims, after an arduous sojourn, at last, find an opportunity of gazing upon his divine face.

The “bizarre figure” is then transformed into a captivating being! The pilgrim feels that he has, finally, seen God, and been graciously received by him. He feels that this presence has drawn him away from the material world, and lifted him up to a higher sphere; that it has erased the dark shadow of his sins; that it has made sin odious to him. Sincere penitents journey to these shrines, and return changed people, with a celestial beauty about them, and a sweetness of temper, which affirms that their pilgrimage was not in vain.

Ch. 31

When Gauranga sprinted to see Lord Jagannath his bhaktas felt anxious. They knew the Lord would not wait for permission, and would run, in his present state of elation, straight to the image within the temple. How would the guards, who could never forgive such an offence, deal with him?

Once within the temple, the Lord flew like lightning through different guarded rooms, and quickly approached the inner sanctum of Lord Jagannath, who was seated upon a throne, which was set upon a high platform. The Lord jumped to embrace Jagannath, but in the attempt fell flat on the floor, and fainted.

The guards seeing a man fly by—disregarding their presence—felt both affronted and disgraced. Hundreds of them ran in pursuit of the unruly pilgrim, intending to do him grievous bodily harm! Though Sri Caitanya was clearly an initiated sannyasi, the protectors of Lord Jagannath perceived themselves to be direct servants of God, and therefore felt that they were superior to all.

As the guards closed in upon the Lord, a tall and elderly brahmana, of regal appearance, stepped forward. He had been moved by something about the intruder, which drew him to his aid. He saw the guards had, in their fury, lost all control over themselves, and he feared they would not be placated. So, to protect the Lord from the raving mob, he covered his body with his own, proclaiming, “Forbear, you fools! Do you not see that he is a holy man, if not the Great God Himself?”

The guards, in their anger, would have disregarded these injunctions, but the brahmana was not a person to be slighted, for in the kingdom of Orissa he was second only to the king.

He was the renowned Vasudeva Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, the illustrious savant of Nadia; the celebrated founder of the Nyaya philosophy—the subtleties of which made “the European head dizzy.” Though his great pupil Raghunath Siromani, momentarily eclipsed his fame, it is doubtful whether the latter was really a greater philosopher, even though he did perform the incredible feat of memorizing the whole text of the Nyaya philosophy. If Mithila was the seat of Nyaya, Benares was the seat of Vedic learning. People went there to study the Vedas. Vasudeva, having mastered Nyaya, had gone there for that purpose, and also mastered the Vedas. He was so successful that he and Prakasananda Saraswati (the foremost sannyasi of Benares) were considered the two top Vedic scholars of the period. The fame of Vasudeva having spread far and wide, Pratap-rudra, King of Orissa, and the only remaining Hindu king on that side of India, had induced him to settle, and open a tol (school) in the holy city of Puri. The tol was established, and tens of thousands of students, both of the Vedas and Nyaya (plus other branches of study, for the great pandit was well versed in almost everything) flocked to it. Such was his reputation that thousands of learned ascetics took lessons at his feet. It was he who gave the law to those who managed the temple, and even the king revered him.

Yet, Vasudeva Sarvabhauma was not a spiritual man. He did not care to dissipate his energies by cogitating upon an afterlife. Yet, a logical fallacy would occupy days and nights of his earnest endeavour. However, despite having no firm, theistic faith, he meticulously upheld all the spiritual formalities of the day.

His chief pleasure consisted of what he gleaned from the cultivation of a keen intellect, and the satisfaction of his vanity. He lived to earn respect and could brook no rival. To secure his patronage, the first thing necessary, was to humble oneself before him. In all other respects he was a good-natured man, kind and courteous to all.

While he was at Nadia, Nimai had, as a young student, read Nyaya for some time in his tol; that was a long time ago, and for mystical reasons, the savant did not recognize, his unforgettable pupil. Sarvabhauma had, therefore, no knowledge as to whom it was that he had been moved to protect.

He did not know what to do with the unconscious young mendicant. Yet, he could not leave him to the guards. His first impression was, that the being before him was not an ordinary person, and deserved all his protection. His students soon rallied to his aid, and he directed some of them to carry the lifeless figure to his home.

No sooner had they touched Mahaprabhu’s sacred body, than they were inspired to utter the name of “Hari.” Thus, in the midst of loud peals of “Haribol!” Gauranga entered the house of Sarvabhauma!

Sarvabhauma had him laid in his puja-room, and gratefully dismissed his pupils. The young mendicant’s body exhibited no signs of life. He held cotton beneath his nostrils. To his relief he saw that the boy was faintly breathing. He now observed his perfectly formed body, his golden hue, his chiseled features, and his beautiful, half shut, eyes. Gazing at his face he could see that the owner was an innocent, that he had a large heart, and that his capacity for love knew no bounds. The fragrance of his body next attracted him by its pleasant sweetness. However, what impressed him most was the condition in which he found the boy. He knew about love of God, or Krsna-prem, from the scriptures, and that this love was manifested by certain symptoms. Now, for the first time, he realized that the sastras were correct. Indeed, when the youth entered the temple, the holy aura of his ecstatic state, visibly enveloped his body; Sarvabhauma had then taken him for a celestial being in disguise, perhaps Jagannath himself. Although upon closer inspection he dispelled this idea. Still, he felt that the person before him was much higher than himself, that he was, as the sastras say, “a man who had Radha’s love for Krsna in him.”

So, Krsna-prem is a fact, observed Sarvabhauma. It is possible for a human to feel such an ardent love for God, as to fall down in an ecstatic swoon at the sight of his image. He had heard of such holy men, yet had never met one. “It proves,” recognized the Nyayic master, “that there is a God, that he is good, and that he wants love. For nature does not make mistakes. If there had been no good God who wanted the love of his creatures, nature would never have given so much love to the fortunate being before me. God must be an ardent friend to those who love him so well. And, since he has acquired this love, it must be possible for others to acquire it too. Fortunate, indeed, is this young man. I’m a fool to fritter away my time in worthless pursuits. Therefore, I will utilize this auspicious circumstance to acquire some small portion of the faith, which this contented sannyasi carries in his heart.”

Sarvabhauma’s sister and husband, Pandit Gopenath, were then both guests at the savant’s home. This distinguished pandit had the inestimable good fortune of being an ardent follower of Gauranga. He, however, did not know that Gauranga had come to Puri, much less, that he had been carried, unconscious, into the house of his brother-in-law, though he happened to be, at that very moment, in the neighbourhood of the temple.

When Nitai and his companions arrived at the temple, they learned that a young sannyasi, of Herculean proportions, fainted at the sight of Jagannath, and had been carried to the house of Sarvabauma. Nitai knew not how to gain access to that illustrious man’s residence. Though he and his friends were all dressed as ascetics, thousands of their kind daily learned at the feet of the great savant. Whilst they were considering how they might retrieve the Lord, they met Gopenath!

Gopenath immediately recognized them, and learned that the Lord, now a sannyasi, had arrived at Puri that very day, and been carried to Sarvabhauma’s abode. So, he conducted them to the house of his host, and brother-in-law. (The presence of Sarvabhauma at the time the Lord entered the temple, and the presence of Gopenath, when Nitai and his companions required someone to give them entrance to the savant’s house, are wonderful, synchronistic, happenings.)

At Sarvabhauma’s home the bhaktas saw the Lord lying in an unconscious state, and sought to rouse him by singing kirtan and shouting the name of “Hari.” The Lord eventually awoke after a hunkar (conch shell) had been sounded, followed by further shouts of “Hari!” “Hari!”

Sarvabhauma then fell at his feet. This he did because he was a householder, and the Lord a Sannyasi. Caitanya blessed him with the words: “May thy soul abide in Krsna.”

“It is getting late, swami,” said Sarvabhauma. “Will you please go to the beach for your bath, and return to honour your slave by breaking your fast?”

Caitanya agreed. He and his followers all left to bathe in the sea, and along the way he learned how Sarvabhauma, having protected him from the fury of the guards, had him carried upon the shoulders of his pupils to his home.

Though Gopenath tried to conceal the fact, Sarvabhauma could see that he not only knew the tall youth personally, but also bore tender feelings towards him. “Who is this young swami, brother?” asked Sarvabauma of Gopenath. The latter had then to describe Gauranga’s family background.

The Lord and his companions returned after bathing. Sarvabhauma again prostrated himself before Caitanya, who again blessed him as before.

“Swami, I have learned all about you,” said Sarvabhauma. Your grandfather Nilambar and my father Maheswar Bisharad were fellow students. Your father, Jagannath, was a fellow student of mine. So you see, you are dear to me in every respect. You are also an ascetic and worthy of my veneration, I am therefore your servant.”

Caitanya replied, “My obligations to you are endless. But for your kind protection, I don’t know what would have become of me today. In a fit of frenzy I left society; yet, I hope I have not, thereby, lost your association. Kindly deal with me as you would an errant child. I place myself absolutely at your disposal.”

Minute-by-minute, the famous savant was recovering from the awe, which had held him spellbound from the moment he had first set eyes upon the Lord. He then thought that the being before him was Jagannath himself, or, at least, a celestial being. When he was lying unconscious in his house, the savant beheld a perfect specimen of humanity; at the same time, he began to feel the reality of Krsna-prem, and that one-drop of that prem was superior to all libraries of learning.

Now, having discovered that the lad was neither Jagannath, nor even a celestial entity of a lesser order, but merely the mortal son of a mediocre pandit, his respect quickly evaporated. When therefore, he had to salute Caitanya a second time, he felt embarrassed to bow his head to so young a man, who was, in spite of his being a sannyasi, inferior to him in every way.

Sarvabhauma, as host, waited upon Sri Caitanya and his followers, while they ate, and when this pious duty of hospitality had been performed, he provided them with a hut. He, and his brother-in-law, Gopenath, then sat down to their meal. When they had finished, they went to the savant’s tol where the students were assembled.

“I don’t like this arrangement,” Sarvabhauma said to Gopenath. “Whoever enters the order of sannyas is entitled to be saluted by others, however high; consequently, they are encouraged to indulge their pride—a thing imperative for an ascetic to subdue. However, this young man, Sri Krsna Caitanya, is an amiable and lovable being—he enthralls me by his sweetness. I’m glad he has not, as yet, learned to be haughty. He’s too young to be an ascetic. I fear his youth may cause him to fall victim to his passions. Yet, since he has come to me, it will be my duty to see that he is not tempted. I will teach him the Vedas. For an ascetic, learning the scriptures is his first duty. I regret that he took his initiation from Bharati. He must change all that. He must be made to go through the ceremony again, and receive higher credentials from a sannyasi of a superior class.” He was rambling on to his brother-in-law, unaware that every word was painful to his listener.

Gopenath casually suggested, that Swami Krsna Caitanya probably did not care much at whose hands he received his initiation. He never cared for formalities. His goal was simply to renounce society, and he was, therefore, probably utterly indifferent to the status of his order.

“What did you say, pandit?” barked Sarvabhauma. “Is it a mere matter of form to choose the better?”

“It is pure vanity that leads one to give importance to such trifling matters.” insisted Gopenath.

“Like it, or not, it behooves one to present themselves to this world as best they can.”

“Why should he care what people think, he’s his own person?”

“And is not the opinion of one’s fellows of any value? Is it not for the good opinion of our fellows that we do most things? Why am I a scholar? Is it not mainly for the good opinion of my fellow beings? I must say, Krsna Caitanya has acted foolishly in taking his vows from Bharati.”

Gopenath could tolerate the savant’s arrogance no longer. He had resolved to keep the Lord’s identity a secret; yet, goaded by these remarks, he blurted indignantly, “Pandit, great teacher though you are, I would respectfully recommend that you spare the young ascetic your patronage. He does not need your help. This you will soon learn, for he is none other than an incarnation of the Almighty Himself.”

Sarvabhauma saw, as did his pupils—with great surprise—that Gopenath was serious. These pupils were not young boys, indeed, many of them were discerning adults; trained under an intellectually aggressive man—they had all learned to be assertive, and fond of debate. When it was perceived that Pandit Gopenath had, earnestly, stated that the young ascetic was an incarnation of the Lord God Himself, they all gazed at him with a skeptical and defiant air!” One of the leaders demanded: “Proof? Where is your proof? What is your premise? How can you possibly substantiate such an outlandish claim? This is an extraordinary proposition indeed!” And, hundreds of them volunteered to verbally annihilate Gopenath there and then.

Gopenath saw that he had committed a spiritual blunder. He ought then to have apologized, and said nothing further. Yet, he could not; the patronizing tone of Sarvabhauma, and the contemptuous manner in which the savant had spoken of the Lord, had destroyed his equanimity. So, he replied, in spite of himself, not to the students, whose words he thought impertinent, but to Sarvabhauma. “Pandit, I simply bade you beware of how you treated that so-called ascetic. He is neither young, nor a man; for he is older than the universe, and as old as the father of creation. I know it, but you, as yet, know it not, though you will learn it soon. If you want proof, I can only tell you this—I know him to have credentials, which it would be utterly impossible for a human being to possess.”

Sarvabhauma found himself in a most delicate position. He had only a faint faith in God; in a Personal God still less, and in the possibility of meeting his Divine Incarnation, none whatsoever. As to the scholarship and intelligence of Gopenath, his opinion of that, was not as high as the opinion he had of his own. When Gopenath seriously asserted the supreme divinity of the young mendicant, Sarvabhauma felt an impulse to laugh, but checked himself, for he was the politest man on earth. Such conduct, he felt, would not become a savant; besides, Gopenath was both his brother-in-law, and his guest. Indeed, when his students assailed him, he sternly rebuked them, and took up the gauntlet with his own hand.

“You see, brother,” soothed the sage, “we followers of Nyaya cannot accept anything on trust. We need concrete evidence, thus, you must forgive us for not accepting the young man as God Almighty until we have verification to that effect. Of course, if you had been able to point out any sastric text, promising the advent of an Avatar in this dark age of Kali, I might have mustered the necessary patience to examine the antecedents of your God. Unfortunately, there is no such authority.”

Gopenath sought to argue the matter with the savant, but he saw that he had no chance of winning. He further saw that Sarvabhauma was dealing gently with him, because he was a relative, and his guest; yet, this his proud spirit could not tolerate. He ought to have stopped and apologized, he could not. “In this type of discussion I have no chance against you. Yet, let me remind you of the sloka which says, that it is not possible to know God by the mere exercise of reason, and that he is known only by those upon whom he showers his grace. This much I do know, which you, though a savant, are unable to grasp, namely, that the young ascetic is the incarnation of Sri Krsna!”

“I see that you have begun to battle with me,” said Sarvabhauma. “Of course, you perceive that there is a fallacy in your argument. I quite admit that the grace of God is not with me. You have, however, to prove that it is with you, Gopenath.”

“I was foolish, “ he said non-plussed, “to disclose such subtle matters to you, the greatest master of logic. Yet, to be filled to the brim with the pride of learning, and the supremacy of the cold intellect, is surely folly. You will have to bow your haughty head, and follow the young Krsna Caitanya even as I do now, and accept him as an incarnation of the Lord of the Universe.”

Sarvabhauma smiled, and his students smirked. Gopenath felt that he was “casting pearls among weeds.” He ceased, deeply mortified, before such an intellectually proud and critical audience, he had betrayed the fact that he worshipped a young anchorite as the Supreme Lord!

Sarvabhauma had lost his patience, “Excuse me brother, we shall discuss this matter hereafter—if necessary. Will you please, in the meantime, do me the courtesy of inviting your Lord God, and his followers, to accept my hospitality for tomorrow?”

Gopenath kept quiet, though the words of his brother-in-law burnt like living fire in his heart.

“The young ascetic is an admirable man, and could be a great one,” revealed Sarvabhauma alone with his pupils. “His followers are doing their best to puff him up by deifying him. The youth, fortunately, knows better. They have not yet succeeded in thoroughly spoiling him, and now that he is here, and under my protection, he is safe. I will no longer permit his foolish companions to flatter him. I will not only have him initiated again, but will also teach him the Vedas, the study of which should be the chief concern of those who enter the order of sannyas.”

In short, Sarvabhauma, in the light of his first impression, and contact with the Lord, had his consciousness elevated, and tasted the nectar Krsna-prem. He then realized, vividly, that his many qualifications satisfied only his vanity, and bound him to a world of appearances. He, therefore, resolved to acquire prem from the young ascetic, whom God had auspiciously placed at his disposal. Yet, when the light is strong the shadow-self is all too often revealed. Consequently, his lofty, worldly persona rebelled; the gross, duplicitous ego of his own lower nature quickly reared up and asserted itself. He forgot all his wise resolutions, he checked all his higher aspirations, and struggled to maintain his spurious position. Then the finer vibration of Krsna-prem was lost to him. His life-long training, which had made his vanity the moving force of all his actions, banished this delicate realization from his heart.

Later that day, Sarvabhauma, talking with the Lord, before his pupils, said, “I see in you everything that is good, yet I fear you’re too young to be an ascetic. The sastras declare it to be improper to initiate a man who is below the age of fifty.”

“I am young, and was rash,” claimed Caitanya. “Yet, what I have done cannot be undone.”

“Why did you not select a man from a higher order than Bharati? The Saraswati class is better. You must be initiated again.”

“As you wish. It was not Jagannath alone who attracted me here. It’s a privilege to be taught by you.”

“Such humility suits you very well. I feel a father’s affection for you. You’re only a lad; the passions are dreadful things—how will you conquer them? To this end, I will read the Vedas to you everyday. Remember, as a sannyasi, to listen to them is your must sacred duty.”

Caitanya assured the savant that he was there only to honour his wishes!

“I have not seen it, but I have heard that though an ascetic, you indulge in the habit of singing and dancing. Give up these foolish theatrics,” admonished the savant. “They do not become one who has chosen your path.”

The followers of the Lord could endure this no longer. Gopenath had come to be with his wife, Sarvabhauma’s sister, and was staying at his home. He now made a vow that he would never again taste a morsel of food, until the Lord pledged to save his brother-in-law!

That evening while the Lord was resting in his hut, Gopenath came to him and said, “My Lord, I’m happy to inform you that Sarvabhauma has promised to take care of all your needs.”

“Yes, I must thank you, Gopenath,” replied Caitanya. “For I owe all regard from him, to his being your relative.”

Gopenath continued, “Sarvabhauma is afraid lest you should fail to keep your vow, you being so young. But, he has promised to take care of you. He will see that you don’t fall victim to your passions.”

“Yes, this is very considerate of him. He is a sincere well-wisher.”

“Also, he has promised to re-initiate you, and teach you the Vedas. But he does not like your kirtan or dances.”

Mahaprabhu smiled with guileless simplicity.

Here Mukunda intervened, “My Lord, Gopenath is fasting.”

“Gopenath, fasting, why?”

“He feels insults have been leveled at you by him, and this he cannot bear.” said Mukunda. “He has confided to me that the words of Sarvabhauma have penetrated deep into his heart, and are festering there like poisoned shafts.”

“I don’t’ see the need for all this,” Mahaprabhu reasoned. “We may not entirely agree with all that he says, but his motives are admirable. It is quite true that I’m young, so, he shows me paternal affection. My dear friends, you judge him harshly.”

“My Lord!” blurted Mukunda, “you are indifferent to both praise and recrimination. But to us, frail men, his patronizing, and even contemptuous attitude towards you is almost intolerable. We are glad that Gopenath has made a vow to fast until you take pity upon Sarvabhauma.”

“I must say,” said Mahaprabhu, “I think you are all over reacting, and that the savant’s conduct has been fine. He is the natural guru of us all. He holds the first position here and everywhere. He has no equal; yet, you would fain confront him with a rival, a superior, in me. Knowing this, he was justified in humbling you, by patronizing me.”

Gopenath burst into tears. “My Lord, do not try to deceive us by such words. My brother-in-law, in spite of his great learning, is devoid of God’s grace. He’s an atheist! He has spoken disrespectfully of you, and that has endangered his afterlife. Save him, or I promise you, I will never more partake of food!” Saying this, he fell at the feet of the Lord.

“You are a bhakta of Krsna,” Caitanya smiled. “He never forsakes a servant. You’re determined to have your brother-in-law saved. That being the case, he is saved—surely Krsna is bound to deliver him.”

When this was said, all the bhaktas, including Gopenath, raised a shout of “Haribol!”

This promise made matters much smoother; it would have, otherwise, been impossible for them all to live together in peace, as the guests of Sarvabhauma. Gopenath, being now assured that his brother-in-law would soon be saved, no longer permitted the latter’s lofty treatment of the Lord to vex him.

Upon next seeing Sri Caitanya, Sarvabhauma addressed him thus: “My dear boy you must now give up your antics; dancing and singing do not become an ascetic. Let us utilize our time profitably in the study the Vedas. I shall consider it a duty incumbent upon me, daily, to read to you a portion of that sacred book.”

Caitanya, with great respect acknowledged his obligations, and again placed himself under the jurisdiction of the savant.

“You are mild-mannered, and therefore God will confer upon you the choicest blessings,” said the savant thoroughly placated. “From tomorrow, we shall begin to read the Vedas. We shall read them every afternoon in the temple.”

The following day Mahaprabhu and the savant met in the temple. The latter, opened the Vedas, and began to read. Mahaprabhu listened. This continued for about an hour, then the savant closed the book. Sarvabhauma read, and Mahaprabhu seemed attentive—yet said not a word. In this manner passed the first day.

The second day arrived. The savant read, and Mahaprabhu listened. Again there was no comment, or remark, from him. The sage read a couplet and explained it. Then, he read another, and again elaborated upon it. In this way an hour passed. And, the second day’s lesson ended in much the same way as the first.

Thus six days passed!

The savant did not know what to make of his new pupil. Did he understand what was read to him? He probably did, for he looked so very attentive. Why then did he not make any comments?

“It must be that he doesn’t agree with my interpretations,” presumed Sarvabhauma. “Is it possible that the youngster has an opinion of his own? Yes, it must be so, and that is probably the reason for his reticence; for, I have noticed shades of disapproval passing across his face during my discourses. This cannot be allowed to continue. We must come to a definite understanding tomorrow.”

On the seventh day they again met. The savant opened his book; yet, before beginning, he said, “Krsna-Caitanya, I have been reading the Vedas to you these six days. How is it that you offer no comments?”

“Your request was that I should listen.”

“That is quite true. But how can one go on reading and reading without some sort of interaction? I expect to hear you offer some feedback. You should, while I explain, at least, let me know whether you understand.

“Any utterance from me is impossible; for I do not understand a syllable of your explanations.”

“What! You don’t understand a syllable? Yet you don’t ask me to explain? What am I to deduce from this? You are a strange creature indeed! When people do not understand, they ask for an explanation. I took you to be a bright young man, yet your actions belie that supposition.”

Mahaprabhu replied humbly, “The text is very clear. It is only your explanations that puzzle me.”

It must be borne in mind that the Vedas are the sacred writings of the Hindus. To be a Hindu, is to believe in the Vedas. To make any religious theory acceptable, it is first of all necessary to show that the Vedas support it. (Shankara Acarya had to show that the Vedas supported his impersonal creed of Advaitabadism. With that view he wrote a commentary upon the Vedas, which he succeeded in making acceptable to almost all the learned men of the country. Indeed, this commentary almost supplanted the text.)

The savant—a staunch advocate of Shankara’s doctrines—would read a couplet from the text, and then read Shankara’s commentary upon it. He would then deal no further with the text, but would elaborate upon the commentary of Shankara, which propounded the dogma of the impersonal Advaitabadis.

The doctrine, which Lord Caitanya upheld for the acceptance of humanity, was much more inclusive than that of Shankara’s. The Lord taught that He (God) and I are separate, and that one can hold communion with God, only by the cultivation of prem and bhakti. To be able to establish his teachings without committing any offence upon Hinduism, the Lord was compelled to demonstrate that the Vedas supported his view.

Mahaprabhu, in reply to the question of the savant, repeated, with deference, that the meaning of the text appeared very clear, but he could not understand the savant’s explanations!

This was a challenge thrown out to the savant—a move for which Sarvabhauma was totally unprepared. In the first place, he could not have believed it possible that there was any man in the universe who would dare throw down the gauntlet to him in regard to the interpretation of the Vedas; in the second place, he had formed the notion that a challenge, of any sort, was most unlikely from the meek, guileless, and placid youth of twenty-four, who was now sitting before him. So, for a moment, he could not comprehend what was actually happening!

“I do not understand you, Krsna-Caitanya; you understand the text, but you don’t understand my explanations. What do you mean?”

“The text is simple to comprehend. But, Shankara had certain one-sided theories of his own, and was obliged to twist the meaning of the text, in order to support them.”

The savant stared at the Lord with complete and utter astonishment. This was the first time that a human being had dared, in his presence, to find fault with the interpretation of the Vedas by Shankara—the principal and universally respected ascetic of all India. Also, this was the first time that a person had spoken in such a defiant manner to the savant, who believed that he had then no equal (except, perhaps, Prakasananda of Benares). And, from whom did this challenge come? From a young man of twenty-four, who had never been to Benares to study the Vedas, the son of an inconsequential pandit, and one whom he had fancied the most benign and helpless of men!

After gaping with incredulity, Sarvabhauma thus delivered himself: “Do I understand you right? Do you mean to assert that you comprehend the Vedas, but not the commentary of the great Shankara? Humph! There is a good deal of conceit within that submissive exterior. Let us then change places. Please, allow me to glimpse your knowledge of the Vedas. Let me listen, while you explain.”

Caitanya rose, not disconcerted in the least. “Pandit, it is not at all a matter of opinion. The Vedas are simple enough—any child can understand them. Shankara wanted the sanction of the sacred writings to establish his own secular doctrine; they actually support a much higher paradigm. Shankara had, therefore, to discard these transcendental truths—not suiting his purpose—and replace them with interpretations of his own. You are reiterating his bland renderings. Yet, why should we have to consult them at all, when the text is before us? It’s the simplest thing to understand. Bear with me.” And, the Lord began to recite the Vedas, starting at the beginning. He narrated the first couplet, and then explained it.

Sarvabhauma would have normally prevented a young ascetic from going any further by browbeating him into silence; yet, the cool, calm and confident style in which Caitanya began compelled him to keep listening. The lad quickly succeeded in arousing the savant’s sincere curiosity. He was a man of culture; the only pleasure he knew, was from the play of the intellect. When the Lord began his exposition, he heard something new and different, which got his attention.

As stated, the sanction of the Vedas is imperative for a Hindu to establish a religious principal. The impersonal Advaitabadis refer to the purports of Shankara to show that the Vedas support their creed. Now, the Dvaitabadis, who believe God is a Supreme Being, and in prem and bhakti as the means of affecting a personal relationship with him, were no less bound, as Hindus, to bring their doctrine into conformity with the same Vedic writings. Of course, the Lord might have rejected the Vedas altogether; that would have offended most educated Hindus, and he was averse to creating any sort of social disturbance. Jesus said, that he came to fulfill, and not to destroy, that was also the path that the Lord followed. He was thus the first to prove, in a logical manner, that the Vedas did not wholly sanction the doctrine of the Advaitabadis. How, it may be asked, could two contending parties claim to refer to the same sacred writings for vindication of their respective doctrines? Yet, is not the Bible cited to justify many denominations? The Sanskrit language is probably the richest in the world; its capacity is truly wonderful—almost unlimited—it has been called the language of the soul…one is limited only by how much they are willing and able to understand!

“You see, pandit, how easy it is if we will only accept the meaning which comes to us most naturally.” The Lord then repeated the rendering of Shankara, and showed that it could not be obtained within the full context of the piece. Sarvabhauma, of course, had objections, but found no opportunity of raising them, because the Lord anticipated him, and raised them himself to refute them.

In this manner the Lord proceeded, step-by-step, and clearly showed that the teachings of the Vedas were quite different from that attributed to them by Shankara, and that, among other truths, they supported the idea of a personal God, and the absolute necessity of prem and bhakti to attain him.

Thus, for the first time, in a methodical manner, Sri Caitanya demonstrated that the Vedas did, indeed, support the doctrine of prem and bhakti—in addition to the pantheism attributed to them. (His great follower Baladeva Vidyabhusana of Bengal elaborated upon these wonderful purports.)

The savant continued to listen somewhat peeved; yet, his feelings of resentment gradually dissipated, and were finally extinguished altogether. It thrilled him to listen to the highly academic expositions of the mendicant. “This young man is a nice, intellectual person of great culture,” thought Sarvabhauma. His wonder increased. He soon discovered that the young ascetic was not merely a learned man, but a savant! “No,” he thought, “he’s more than a savant, he’s a master…so the lad is undoubtedly greater than I!”

The savant’s tongue stuck to his palate; for, here was a youth of only twenty-four summers, who not only knew the Vedas more thoroughly than he, but also, more completely than anyone else!

As Caitanya continued, his natural bashfulness vanished; he began to eloquently deliver facts, ideas, and different points of view, as if they were mere playthings.

Wonder and fascination enthralled the savant. “Hari! Hari!” he gesticulated in praise of such rich and colourful oratorical brilliance.

The Lord paused.

“Go on, go on, I’m all ears,” urged the savant.

The Lord continued.

“What powers, what amazing powers,” thought Sarvabhauma. “No wonder Gopenath thinks he’s God. If he isn’t the Lord God, he is no doubt Birhaspati.” (The most learned sage of heaven.)

The savant’s opposition had quickly turned into admiration; for what can be more pleasing to a man of intellect than the mind-boggling display of seemingly impossible intellectual feats?

Caitanya quoted a couplet, analyzed it, and finally explained it beautifully. His second step was to show that the original text could not have the meaning given to it by Shankara. He showed this by putting the couplets in their proper context—by citing parallel passages; unless his rendering was accepted, the accompanying couplets would appear altogether purposeless, meaningless or contradictory.

The ideas set forth by him were crystal clear, and seemed to the savant in every respect faultless. Sarvabhauma thought that enough had been done, by the ascetic, to prove his point. Yet, Caitanya continued to shape and mold his interpretations, to dress them in gorgeous language, sparkling with imagery, similes and metaphors, rhyme, rhythm, assonance and alliteration—all sensitively expressed in perfect, poetic prose.

The savant was astounded. His head, which he had, hitherto, been able to hold so high, bowed slowly down. His hands met in supplication. “What wonderful learning!” “What genius!” “What absolute mastery!” He thought, despite himself.

“I was not aware that you are Vedamaya (a master of the Vedas). You have, today, performed a wonderful feat. You have, to my mind, revealed a whole new dimension of meaning and significance to the Vedas—”

“Pandit, do not be surprised to find that the Vedas teach prem and bhakti,” the Lord interrupted. “The great saints, through whom the Vedas were revealed, finally desired bhakti.” He then repeated a sloka from the Srimad-Bhagavat, supporting this statement: “Even those great saints who worship an impersonal God, at last, hanker after bhakti.”

The savant humbly asked Sri Caitanya to explain that particular sloka.

“Yes, I will do so, but let me first hear you explain it.”

This request rather pleased the savant. He had been, as it were, utterly routed, and here was an opportunity of regaining some of his lost position. So, he began to explain the sloka with great pleasure, and with all the eloquence he could muster.

Just one word of the Sanskrit language can contain an entire philosophy, which various other words can be embroidered onto. The language possesses great advantages—which cannot be fully enumerated—that enable one to give an entirely different spin to any given couplet. Indeed, interpretations of great literary works like the Ramayana and Mahabharata have been given that totally depart from the generally accepted understanding. So, Sarvabhauma took this opportunity of showing his profound intellect and learning, by explaining the couplet in different ways. Thus, he first gave one explanation of the couplet, and then observed that it could be made to express something totally different, and explained it in another way.

In this manner Sarvabhauma thought he had shown his superiority in at least one area, and therefore partially redeemed his position. For, he had been able to construe one couplet in nine different ways! And, who but the profoundest of pandits could do that?

“You have displayed powers worthy of the greatest pandit in the world.” complimented Mahaprabhu. “Yet, you have explained the couplet from a learned man’s point of view. The saint, who composed it, had, perhaps, other objectives in mind. Let us see if we can discover them.” Saying this, he began to explain the couplet in another way.

This caused the savant some uneasiness, as the expression upon his pale face, clearly revealed. He had, finally, lost all confidence in himself, and was thoroughly demoralized. He began to regard the young ascetic before him with dread—as a scholar capable of any feat. He, the greatest pandit in India, had explained a couplet in nine different ways, and this young man claimed, that the couplet in question had, yet, other possible meanings!

Mahaprabhu first showed the number of words in the first line of the couplet, and then the number of words in the second. He then analyzed every word, to show how many meanings each of them had. Thus, for instance, the first word in the sloka was “atma.” He showed that this word had seven meanings. The second word was “aram.” He showed that it had, also, several meanings. After he had shown that all the words in the couplet had numerous meanings, he began to explain the sloka in different ways.

When the first rendering was done, Sarvabhauma looked at Caitanya incredulously. He found that the mendicant had not touched any one of his nine interpretations. His wonder increased when he saw that Caitanya’s rendering further endorsed his view of prem and bhakti. The savant remarked: “Swami, you are not only well versed in the Vedas, but also, I perceive, you are a thorough master of language.”

The Lord, paying no heed to his flattery, began to explain the couplet in yet another way. The second understanding was quite different from the first. Yet, it supported the grand premise of the superiority of bhakti over all other means of deliverance!

When the second construal had been thoroughly explained, the Lord began a third!

It is, unfortunately, impossible for one not versed in Sanskrit, to fully comprehend the extraordinary feat accomplished by Gauranga. Of course, it is quite possible for a learned Sanskrit pandit to explain a couplet in different ways. The most learned man, of the period, had already explained it in nine different ways, and believed he had left no other opening to chalk out a new path. Yet, the most wonderful part of the feat was, each additional rendering, by the Lord, established the superiority of bhakti over all other means of salvation.

Thus, the Lord continued to furnish different interpretations of the same sloka to the savant, which quickly knocked the wind out of his—momentarily—inflated sails! After each rendering, the dumbfounded savant uttered his amazement, though this he did more for himself, than to the Lord, who was then utterly engrossed in his own exposition.

“Such powers are beyond human capacity. If he had been simply Brihaspati” Sarvabhauma thought, “I would have still ventured to challenge him, but he is something more…only the goddess of learning, Saraswati, is capable of such a feat. Is this young ascetic Saraswati in disguise? Or, perhaps, her husband—Krsna?”

Indeed, the savant being more qualified to appreciate the extraordinary intellectual capacity displayed by the Lord, than almost anyone else, soon came to recognize that he was no match for him. Finally, he came to suspect that he might be no less a being than Sri Krsna, who had come there to humble his sagacious pride—that pride by which he had squashed, in his day, the pride of innumerable other lofty savants. Each fresh rendering was another blow to his scholarship, and at length, he found it impossible to bear the humiliation any longer. So, when the Lord had expressed eighteen renderings, he fell at his feet, and totally surrendered. (The Lord subsequently found sixty interpretations of this one sloka!)

“Forgive me for having offended you. I treated you as an inferior, unaware that you had no equal among the sons of men.” He then showed his supplication by holding the Lord’s feet, and waited for some words of consolation; hearing none, he gazed up at the Lord, and beheld a fantastic sight.

The young ascetic had disappeared, and in his place was a six-armed divinity (Sad-Bhuja). With two of his hands he carried a bow and arrows; with two he played on a flute, and with the remaining two he carried a mendicant’s staff and cup!

Sarvabhauma fainted!

When he awoke, he found the young ascetic tending him. “Where has he gone?” wondered the savant, as he looked vacantly around.

“It is time to go home,” said Gauranga.

The savant rose, and left the temple in silence. The Lord returned to his hut, while Sarvabhauma entered his own home, still bewildered.

“What did I see?” thought the savant. “Was it a hallucination, or a vision revealed to me?” Yet, he understood the significance of the six-armed figure (Sad-Bhuja). Two hands carried a bow and arrows representing Ram. Two hands were holding Krsna’s flute, and two hands were carrying a mendicants staff and cup. In India two Avatars were worshipped (Ram & Krsna) before the advent of Lord Gauranga. Ram flourished as a warrior-king, with the purpose of destroying wicked tyrants who oppressed humanity. Sri Krsna came to show humanity that the Supreme Deity was charming, and is represented in the act of playing the flute. While Lord Gauranga, as a mendicant, appeared to endear himself to humanity, and thereby teach them Krsna-prem.

“So He has arrived!” thought the savant. “What the saints assert is true, and what we learned men considered to be cloud cuckoo land—is the next evolutionary step for humanity! Man is not just an aimless animal, and has a bright future! Oh happy Sarvabhauma! Happy humanity!” Sarvabhauma wept with joy.

“Lord God is a most considerate and kind-hearted being,” thought the savant. “He has created beings to pursue their own spiritual evolution. Where is misery then? Oh misery I defy thee; for I now know that I am in the lap of my loving father, who is strong enough to protect me, and good enough to provide me with all that is required to make me happy. What is it to us, if the universe disappears into a cataclysm? What does one gain if he earns the sovereignty of the whole world, since man is destined for things greater than the pleasures derived from the exercise of feelings nursed with baseness.

“Oh, the trouble I took to cultivate my intellect!” lamented Sarvabhauma. “And what is this verbiage worth? The one realization that I have acquired today is that there is a God—a loving personal God who does not forget his lesser creatures—who is worth infinitely more than all my grandiose pontifications put together!”

Later, that very evening, Sarvabhauma wondered, “Yet, may not all this be some kind of hallucination?” He shuddered, as the dungeons of doubt and despair threatened to slam the door upon the very ecstasy, which hope had only just visited upon his heart.

Then he wept in sorrow. However, another consideration soon relieved him. “The vision may be hallucination,” thought he. “Yet, I have something more substantial upon which to base my faith. Have I not found a greater savant than Shankara? The new rendering of the Vedas is not illusory, and this, in itself, is proof enough to establish the fact that the young ascetic is more than human. The way he explained the sloka—that certainly was not hallucination. That was a superhuman feat. There is no doubt—the young man is Sri Krsna! And I treated him as an inferior, and made him the object of ridicule before my pupils!” He shuddered again.

Thus he passed a restless night, oscillating between torment and ecstasy. When, finally, he fell asleep, a knock at the door, announced to him that the young swami wished an audience!

It transpired in this way. The Lord, having passed the night in his hut, went to the temple early next morning, as usual. Upon that particular morning, he entered into the innermost chamber where Jagannath was sitting. Two of Jagannath’s attendants appeared before him, one with a garland of flowers, which he placed around the neck of Mahaprabhu; the other offered him some prasad (food offered to Jagannath).

Caitanya graciously accepted both the garland, and the prasad—which he tied in a corner of his garment. The Lord then hastily exited the temple, and headed towards the house of Sarvabhauma. The guards in the courtyard recognized him, and did not dare accost him. He reached the sleeping chamber of the savant, and called to him.

A brahmana boy was sleeping upon the verandah. He rose, and seeing the Lord, knocked upon the door of Sarvabhauma’s room. The savant had just drifted off to sleep. He was awakened with a start. Upon learning that Krsna Caitanya was outside, he quickly opened the door and fell at his feet. Caitanya blessed him, as usual, saying, “May thy soul abide in Krsna!”

Caitanya took the handful of prasad (which was nothing more than cooked rice) and presented it to the savant with these words: “This is prasad from Jagannath, take it.”

For Sarvabhauma—who had just been roused, having not washed his face, bathed, or performed his puja—to take cooked rice, at that hour of the morning, simply because it was prasad (blessed), would be, socially, considered ignorant and uncouth. No Hindu would have done it; Sarvabhauma, as a meticulous upholder of Hindu law, would certainly not have done it under ordinary circumstances.

Yet, when the Lord offered him the prasad smiling, and requested him to “take it,” he could not resist. He took the cooked rice in both hands, with great reverence, and promptly consumed it; reciting a sloka in justification of this questionable act: “When the prasad of God comes to hand, let it be eaten at once, irrespective of time, place, or circumstance.”

Here Sarvabhauma, probably for the first time in his life, transgressed the usual rules of Hinduism. The Hindus are inundated with formal ceremonies and outward observances, which take the life out of spontaneous spirituality. These rules the brahmanas imposed upon their brethren, in order to maintain their superiority over all other castes. To accomplish this, they had themselves to strictly observe their own ordinances. The result was that the brahmanas became the number one victims of their own pious game, the slaves of customs—artificially established—for the purpose of maintaining their own superiority. Yet, the Lord taught the more natural ways of the heart; he had nothing to do with the slew of absurd ceremonies that enslaved and demoralized Indian society. Hindu culture, dominated by the brahmanas, however, was strong; he had, therefore, to demolish this ancient superstructure of meaningless ritual, by assailing it in a circuitous manner. Thus, he did not say that this, or that, system ought to be abolished, for, if he had done so, society would have risen against him. Thus, he didn’t say anything against caste. What he said was: “A candal (the lowest caste) who is a bhakta is superior to a brahmana who isn’t.” He preached this irrefutable doctrine, and eventually the caste system crumbled. Haridas was a Muslim, but the Lord made his bhaktas give him the same honour, as they would to the highest of brahmanas. A brahmana would never take cooked rice in the morning without performing his ablutions and doing his usual puja. If anyone were to do so, he would be ostracized from society. When the Lord, however, presented the savant with the prasad, he took it submissively, and gladly; for, he was now ready, for the sake of Krsna, to shun society.

The spiritual prerequisite of shunning the superficialities and hypocrisies of society, are here exemplified in Krsna-lila. Radha says to her attendant Gopis: “Listen! The flute of my beloved is beckoning. I must go. I cannot stay. If you can forsake your relatives, and brave society’s scandal, then follow me. For Krsna cannot be won without such sacrifice.”

The Lord is Radha and Sarvabhauma is a Gopi; this Gopi has a husband, his social face—the self-deluding duplicity of worldly appearances. The Lord tested his desire for Krsna by offering him prasad. The savant took the prasad, and thereby showed his willingness to cast off his social shackles in order to win the Supreme Deity.

He fell down as if seized by an epileptic fit. He foamed at the mouth, and his throat gurgled. From his vacant eyes tears trickled down his cheeks, And the hair all over his body stood on end. (Caitanya-candrodaya)

Shortly thereafter, having recovered the use of his limbs, he began to roll on the ground.

His family, including his wife, son, daughter, sister and others, beheld this strange spectacle with alarm, and anxiety; yet, did not dare interfere, indeed, there was no necessity for interference, for the Lord, after a short interval, restored him by gently shaking him.

The semi-conscious savant sat up and looked at the Heart-master. The Lord then catching hold of his hand, and standing up with him, addressed Sarvabhauma thus:

Today, I have transcended the universe. Today, I have entered the Promised Land. Today, all my desires have been fulfilled. For today you, the savant of savants, have cut the fetters that bind you to social formalities for the sake of Krsna. Today, you have become a sincere servant of the Lord. Today, the Lord has taken you into his embrace. Today, you are free to ascend higher and higher. Today, your soul has been purified, and rendered capable of communing with the most high. (Caitanya-caritamrta)

Having delivered his address, he embraced the sage with a love, which knew no bounds!

Divine inspiration filled Sarvabhauma. It pervaded his whole body, upon which pulak (goose bumps) appeared. His heart was inundated by wave after wave of ecstasy, until at length, in the excess of his joy he began to dance!

The ungainly gyrations of the venerated Sarvabhauma may have been more humourous than a dancing hippopotamus; yet, it accomplished its purpose, for it expressed the exuberance of his enlivened soul. Thus, in the presence of his family, his servants, and Gopenath, the Lord and the sage gazed at one another affectionately, held each other’s hands, and danced!

Tears of joy coursed down the cheeks of Gopenath, who looked at Mahaprabhu gratefully—and then his brother-in-law, the savant, approvingly. “What are you doing?” he jested. “Are you not ashamed, dancing with uplifted arms like a drunkard? Have you forgotten yourself? What would your pupils say? What would the world say? The revered Vasudeva Sarvabhauma dancing with abandonment!”

The savant looked tenderly at Gopenath, and answered him with this impromptu sloka:

Let evil-tongued people say what they will—it matters not. Let us, in the meantime, get intoxicated by drinking prem, And dance, and roll upon the ground, in the ecstasy of our hearts!

The followers of the Lord firmly believe that he chose the only method possible for saving Sarvabhauma. Blinded by conceit, he thought himself the most intelligent and learned of men, and, therefore, above instruction. The first thing necessary was to cure him of his overweening pride. When the Lord beat him at his own ponderous game, upon the humbling hubris of his defeat, he was given the privilege of witnessing a vision, in the form of a six-armed figure (Sad-Bhuja). This vision was replete with immense meaning, which the savant understood.

At that moment with a chastened heart, he had no difficulty in gleaning this fully developed concept of religion. Yet, that night he passed his time in alternate elation and doubt. For, when the higher-self becomes illuminated, the shadow-self appears from that very light! Being the most cultivated kingpin of the intelligentsia, with the well-manicured, paradoxical, persona of a pious atheist, he made a mockery of the Hindu system, and defeated almost everyone within it. Yet, Sarvabhauma’s heart and soul had become as dry as the pages of the books he so desperately cleaved unto. The sight of the six-armed figure (Sad-Bhuja), and the intellectual capacity displayed by Sri Caitanya, made Sarvabhauma a believer—that is all. In order to make him an active bhakta, the Lord had to not only humble him, but also to thoroughly negate and totally neutralize his lofty, worldly persona. In accepting the prasad, Sarvabhauma broke free from his social shackles, and thus allowed “the divine influence to be imparted,” which then filled his parched heart with the loving ecstasy of prem and bhakti and awakened his dormant soul.

The Lord left Sarvabhauma and returned to his hut. The savant, however, followed him shortly thereafter, accompanied by a servant. His first morning duty was, usually, to pay a visit to Jagannath; yet, on this particular day, he neglected the “wooden god” and headed towards the living one. The servant attending him had seen, earlier that morning, the outlandish behaviour of his master, and naturally thought that he was still disoriented, and, therefore, informed him that he had taken the wrong road for the temple. The savant said he was aware of that, and smiled upon recognizing the absurd picture he was presenting to his assistant.

Presently, he was humbly standing before the Lord. Both he and Caitanya were then in a sane and sober state. The Lord had recovered his equilibrium completely; indeed, he had put behind him Sarvabhauma’s initiation.

The savant prostrated himself before Caitanya—now with great willingness. Then spontaneously uttered two slokas: “The ways of the Lord are inscrutable. How is it possible for us mere mortals to grasp that he is now in our midst, acting as a man? A touchstone appears only as a stone, its worth cannot be recognized until it has been put to the test of converting iron into gold.”

He further elaborated: “My Lord, mine has been the misspent life of an insular academic. My mind had become set like a piece of rock—worthless, rigid, and unmeltable. Yet, by the mercy of your divine alchemy, you have melted away my false ego, and recast me in a mold of your own making. It is an easier task, by far, to reclaim the simple mind of an ignorant sinner, than a bibliophile like me. I tested you by my own craft—Logic. Outwardly, you are just a man. How could I have possibly known that you had put on the garb of a sannyasi, to humble the pride of the arrogant—to save sinners for the purpose of reclaiming them?” Sarvabhauma began to sob.

“My Lord forgive me for the discourtesy that I have shown you. The understanding that you are exceptional was confirmed, when you instantly gave eighteen different interpretations of that one sloka. Now, my Lord, please accept what little of myself I have; for, thou hast become the mightiest owner of everything I possess, including my heart.” He then wept like a baby.

Mahaprabhu gazed at the savant, as might a confused child; he appeared to have forgotten all that had recently transpired. The savant was addressing him as if he had come face to face with God Almighty! He blushed, shuddered, and closed his ears with his fingers. “Forbear, pandit, do not slay me in that manner. I am, as your son, absolutely at your disposal. I have already surrendered myself to you entirely. If you have found bhakti, thank Jagannath for it, who is the author of all good.” Mahaprabhu’s loving face became suffused with the luster of bhakti at the mention of Jagannath!

The savant did not like these protestations: “No longer am I a stranger to thee. Treat me as thou dost thy dear servant Gopenath! Please accept me as a member of thy family.”

Gopenath, who happened to be present, said mischievously, “Pandit! Is it not time that you should find a sannyasi belonging to a higher class of ascetics, to re-initiate this young man, your protégé? Who knows, he may fall victim to his passions? And, how far have you, pandit, proceeded in teaching him the Vedas?”

Sarvabhauma laughed, and all the bhaktas present joined in the merriment. He suddenly became earnest, and looked at Gopenath, his eyes glistening with tears, “I owe all this to your influence. The Lord took pity upon me for no merit of my own, but simply because I am a relative of yours, and you are a servant of his.”

The Lord then rose to embrace him, and they stood, again, enveloped in each other’s arms.

Sarvabhauma, from that day, became an ardent follower of the Lord. With the consent of the king, he had the six-armed figure (Sad-Bhuja) recreated in the Temple of Jagannath—which can be seen to this day. He composed one hundred, delightful slokas, describing Krsna Caitanya, and these are also still in existence. From them one can learn how the splendor of the Lord enthralled his eyes, mind, and heart. These slokas describe the Lord so vividly they bring him alive. Here are three of them:

I bow to the son of Saci, whose golden-hued body is constantly covered With all the signs of prem and bhakti, and is the merciful savior of all humanity.

I bow to the son of Saci, whose lotus eyes melt like clouds, And who is constantly uttering his own name (Krsna) in a state of ecstasy.

I bow to the son of Saci, who is none other than the son of Nanda (Sri Krsna), And has come down to this earth as an Avatar to establish true religion.

Ch. 32

The Lord wanted to remain concealed from the public, and the savant, Sarvabhauma, endeavoured to thus facilitate him.

To his followers he expressed another wish, namely that they would permit him to journey South!

The Lord assured his mother and friends that he would pass his life at the holy sanctuary of Puri. When he expressed a desire to travel south, Nitai reminded him of his pledge.

“I’ll go only for a short time—then return,” said Caitanya.

“May I inquire the object of your proposed visit?” asked Nityananda.

“To search for my elder brother, Visvarup.”

“But you know that he quit his body and ascended.”

“So I’ve heard, but I must find out for myself. It is a sacred duty, which I owe to my dear brother.”

“Okay. When do we leave?” asked Nitai.

“I must go alone. You have all contrived to make me your slave. Through the love you bear me, I have lost all my independence. You, Sripad Nityananda, appear to imagine that I have no need to attempt to save myself by acquiring prem, and that my sole duty consists in pleasing my friends; consequently, you will not allow me to fully worship Krsna to my heart’s content. You, Jagadananda, contrive, day and night, to seduce me from my duties, and would fain have me live like a householder, feasting on the finest fare, and sleeping on a bed of the softest cotton. You, Mukunda, by your mournful face—mournful because of my hard life—impose a heavier burden upon me than the hard life itself. Let me go alone. Allow me to enjoy a little independence for a few months, please.”

Nitai understood how dangerous it would be to concede to such a request. “My Lord! Do not even think of going alone; that we can never permit. Let us all consult Sarvabhauma.”

The savant laboured to dissuade the Lord from traveling unaccompanied.

“Pandit,” pleaded Caitanya, “do you wish to help or hinder? I must go in search of my brother.”

“Your real goal, my Lord,” claimed Sarvabhauma, “is to bring the light of salvation to the south, which is immersed in the darkness of atheism and impersonalism. Yet, you cannot be permitted to go unattended.”

“Who will carry your staff and cup?” asked Nitai. “You will lose them in your first fit of prem. Who will take care of you, while you remain unconscious for hours, or even days? Allow me to accompany you. I know South India.”

The Lord remained unwilling to take Nitai, or any other bhakta—for the devoted bhaktas keenly suffered when he experienced adversity. Eventually, however, he was persuaded to take young Govinda.

Seeing the dejection of his companions, the Lord said, “Why make a fuss about such a trifling matter? I will simply accomplish my objective, and then return. You can wait here for me. I will not needlessly tarry.”

His plan was to traverse a continent, which would take two full years.

Sarvabhauma, upon taking leave of Sri Caitanya, at Puri, sobbed, “I would bear the loss of a hundred sons, rather than that of your company.” And then fainted.

Nitai and the bhaktas accompanied him as far as the Alanath Temple—about a day’s journey from Puri. Upon their arrival at Alanath, they found themselves surrounded by thousands of people. The bhaktas realized the Lord must have drawn them! By gazing upon the divine figure of Gauranga, they were all filled with bhakti, and passed the day, and night, in dancing and singing the holy names of Hari.

“Do you now understand why the Lord is leaving?” Nitai asked his companions. “The plea of searching for Visvarup, who has long since left this world, is a charade. His real goal is the reformation of the south.”

When Mahaprabhu took his leave at Alanath, his moon-like face was overcast with compassion for his loyal companions, whose grief was painful to his tender heart. They had left everything to follow him. Yet, now, they must remain in Orissa until his return! He left reluctantly. The bhaktas passed the day in a delirium. The following day they returned to Puri.

When he had walked a short distance, Caitanya looked towards the heavens, and uttered, “Krsna, take care of me.” With these words constantly on his lips, he continued upon his way, southward, accompanied only by Govinda.

Lord Caitanya was then a youth of twenty-five, with perfect features, well-proportioned limbs, and a Herculean frame. With his long arms stretched upwards, he called upon Sri Krsna for protection. His innocent face was irresistibly attractive. His large, soft, eyes of liquid love, and the pathos of his sweet, sonorous voice, moved everyone to tears. When he walked he sometimes weaved, as if intoxicated; everything then to him was Krsna—his beloved.

This young man, who was surely cultivated and designed to shine in society, was wondering alone in the wilderness with the shell of a coconut for his cup, and a piece of rag around his loins! He journeyed on through rain and shine, enduring hunger and sleeplessness, to draw all humanity to the lotus feet of the Supreme Deity.

They passed through strange, sparsely inhabited places, rough country, and dense forests, feeding on wild fruits, sometimes begging a handful of rice, and at night content with the meanest shelter—a thatched shed, or merely a tree. One night passed while they were still in a jungle; the Lord leaned against a gigantic tree, chanting the names of Krsna until dawn. Govinda slept safely and soundly at his feet, though tigers, rhinoceroses, and elephants gathered all around.

For keeping diaries of this journey, Govinda deserves the gratitude of all humanity. With the exception of a few lost pages, these journals still exist.

When passing through villages or towns, they were graciously welcomed.

When their path took them through vast stretches of forests, they had to be content with whatever nature provided. Govinda remarks, that such was the enthusiasm, which he derived from the Lord’s company, hunger and thirst rarely troubled him. Nevertheless, the frequent fasts, and sleepless nights, not only took its toll upon him, but also, to a lesser degree, upon the large, athletic frame of Gauranga.

Govinda saw with astonishment, upon their arrival at a village, that the rumour of wandering Krsna, in the guise of a mendicant, had preceded them! Thus, it came to pass, that wherever Caitanya roamed, he found people assembled and ready to greet him.

He continued his sojourn repeating the phrase, “Krsna, take care of me.” To the fallen souls he passed along the way, he would say, “Chant Hari.” Whereupon, the person—immediately overwhelmed by bhakti—began repeating the names of Hari and Krsna, and followed the Lord. When thus pursued, the Lord would turn back and embrace the stranger. The man’s heart and soul was then further awakened—empowering him to “impart the divine influence” to others. The Lord would then bid him, return home and proclaim bhakti for Hari.

The man returns to his village, dancing, laughing, weeping and uttering the names of Krsna like a man possessed. He then asks everyone to chant Hari, and everyone obeys as if compelled by an irresistible force. Thus the entire village is saved. The rumour spreads that the village has gone mad, and neighbours come to see the spectacle! They, also, catch the divine inspiration, which they carry home! Thus the Holy Spirit was communicated from person to person, and village to village. The inhabitants of every district through which the Lord passed, were saved. He adopted this procedure in saving sinners throughout his travels, as far as Cape Comorin, and back again. (Caitanya-caritamrta)

Not all the people, saved by the Lord, were merely given a feeling of bhakti for Krsna; to the more capable he also imparted knowledge of the philosophy of Vaisnavism. (Caitanya-caritamrta)

The Lord, while in transit, was constrained to adopt quick, direct methods of transmission, because of the limited time at his disposal.

There was a leper named Vasudeva Vipra; his loathsome disease had chastened his heart. Still, he was obliged to live apart from his fellows. Hearing that an ascetic, who was assumed to be Sri Krsna, had appeared in the Temple of Kurma, near his home, he immediately took up his staff and journeyed thither. There, he learned that the Lord had left half an hour earlier. Hence, he fainted from disappointment and grief, exclaiming as he fell, “Krsna, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Caitanya, though miles away, innately heard the cry, and stopped in his tracks, as if listening. He turned, and hastened back towards the temple. Upon arrival, he lifted the unconscious leper into his arms, and embraced him in spite of the open sores that covered his body, and the foul stench that they emitted.

Locked in Gauranga’s arms, they both sank to the floor—from which Vasudeva rose, a perfectly healthy and aware man!

“What hast thou done, Lord?” exclaimed Vasudeva. “I came not to be healed—but only to see thy lotus feet. My loathsome disease made me meek and modest. A sound body, and perfect mind, will cause me to be proud and vain.”

“No, my child,” said Caitanya, “Sri Krsna has absolutely accepted you on account of your matchless humility, and your charity towards the meanest of insects—even the maggots, which fed upon your body.”

Vasudeva believed that all creatures had an equal right to live, when maggots that fed upon his festering body fell from his sores, he would pick them up and put them back! This incomparable charity entitled him to the exceptional grace of the Lord.

The most illustrious person Sri Gauranga met while in the south was Raja Ramananda Ray, who resided in the capital city of Vidyanagar, as the Governor of the Southern Provinces of Pratap-rudra’s kingdom. He was profoundly learned, in fact, he held frequent discussions with Sarvabhauma upon the nature of God, and other esoteric matters. Ramananda was a believer in the Deity of love, namely, Sri Krsna, while Sarvabhauma—having been an intellectual atheist—always chaffed the Governor for his superstition. Yet, Sarvabhauma, now redeemed by the Lord, saw the merits in his old verbal sparring partner, Ramananda. So, when the Lord was leaving for the south, the savant asked him to favour Ramananda with a visit.

Upon arriving at Vidyanagar, Gauranga crossed the Godavery River, bathed, and sat contentedly a short distance from a ghat—the ghat where Ramananda bathed; on this particular day, an irresistible impulse led Ramananda there for that purpose. He arrived in a grand procession, with a band playing and flags flying. After having bathed, his eyes suddenly fell upon the divine figure of the Lord.

Ramananda was a first class bhakta; he had, therefore, no great attraction to sannyasis, for they were usually impersonalists (mayavadis). Holy, pure, austere, and learned as these anchorites often were, he did not much care for the blank, void atmosphere that surrounded them. Yet, this sannyasi had a warm and fascinating appeal, which enthralled the Raja’s heart. His beauty and benevolence were beyond compare, everything about him bespoke of one permeated with prem. The Raja hastened to the Lord and reverentially prostrated himself. (It must be borne in mind, in India, kings occupy a subordinate position to a genuinely holy person.)

The Lord who was expecting the Raja, immediately rose, exclaiming, “Say Krsna!” Then asked, “Are you Ramananda?” The Raja replied that he was that mean sinner. Gauranga then approached him and gave him an ardent embrace! They both fainted and fell down, locked in each other’s arms! The Raja’s courtiers hastened to their assistance. Both the Lord and the Raja were unconscious. They were covered with pulak (goose bumps), their breathing seemed suspended, and tears trickled from their half-shut eyes.

After awhile Mahaprabhu and the Raja came to, and gazed at each other with wistful tenderness. Breaking the silence, Mahaprabhu said, “Before leaving Puri, a patron, Pandit Sarvabhauma, bade me visit the great saint Ramananda, and here I am. It appears I’ve been unwittingly successful in gaining access to you.”

“Today, no doubt, forms a turning point in my life,” the Raja replied, “for the powers that you possess are more than mortal. Look how the mere sight of you has moved my courtiers. See how they are weeping, dancing, and uttering the names of Krsna and Hari. Mere men do not possess such charm.”

Mahaprabhu wanted to interrupt the Raja, yet his gentle nature constrained him.

The Raja continued, “Your mercy to this sinner shows your divine character. I’m a worldly man, a lump of dirt, while you are perfectly pure. Yet, you held me in your sacred arms! You say Sarvabhauma requested that you visit me; in truth you have sought me out to save me, for the greater the sinner, the greater is your mercy upon him.”

Mahaprabhu smiled, “It’s little wonder that the followers of a profound bhakta, such as yourself, should be bhaktas too. A bhakta elevates everyone around him. Though I am a sannyasi, your contact has also given me a drop of that sacred feeling.”

A poor brahmana here intervened and implored the Lord to break his fast at his home. He made this request because sannyasis are not permitted to accept hospitality from worldly men, such as Raja Ramananda Ray.

Mahaprabhu said, addressing Ramananda, “I would fain hear from your lips discourses about Sri Krsna.”

“Since you cannot leave without saving me,” Ramananda replied, “I give you due warning that I am only a piece of filth, and that it will take you a good many days’ trouble to rescue me from the deep mire of worldly depravity.”

Through Ramananda, the Lord taught humanity that bhakti and prem are not necessarily incompatible with position and prosperity.

That evening, Ramananda visited the Lord, dressed as an ordinary man, accompanied by a single servant.

“Now tell me, Ramananda,” asked Lord Gauranga, “how are men to save themselves?”

“It is not meet that I should spout my opinions upon such a subject, in the presence of a saint who can speak with the greatest authority.”

“The sole purpose of my coming to you, is to hear your views upon the salvation of humanity, and discourses about Krsna. Please don’t disappoint me.”

Ramananda tried to discern the intentions of the enigmatic being before him; he then replied, “Our saints have left behind them definite directions upon the subject. Thus, the Visnu Purana says: ‘Let everybody sincerely follow the religion of their parents, and that will eventually lead them to God.’”

“Ramananda, please go deeper into the subject.”

“Another method of salvation,” ventured Ramananda, “is afforded to one who sincerely follows the principle, ‘Thy will be done.’ Absolute reliance upon God procures salvation.” Saying this, he quoted a sastric text to confirm this view.

“This is superficial, please go deeper,” insisted Gauranga.

Ramananda Ray pondered, and then said, “One who has the courage to forsake the religion of his fathers, attains to God.” And he quoted sastric texts to support this point also.

“Please go deeper—you refer only to a general principle.”

Ram Ray was in the role of a teacher, detailing to the young sannyasi, the various ways by which humanity could attain to God. Yet, he knew himself to be the student—being examined by an All-powerful and All-knowing martinet. The Lord summarily rejected whatever theory he proffered as shallow. He wondered how to satisfy his exacting adjudicator. At length he said, “The man who worships God with jnan and bhakti attains to him.” He again gave a sastric quotation to substantiate this principle.

“Ram Ray, can you quench my thirsty soul with a clearer and more satisfying drink, than hitherto proffered. Do please oblige me by going a little deeper.”

Ramananda Ray thereupon said, “I presume that, though the ordinary principle is to worship God with jnan and bhakti, the higher principle is to transcend the jnan (mental speculation) altogether, and worship God with pure bhakti, unadulterated by the former.” Again he quoted the scriptures, in support of this theory.

“This is good, but what is better,” prompted Gauranga.

“To know” is quite different from “to have.” By jnan, we seek to know God; by bhakti we seek to have him. To have him is better than to know him, for only those who have him truly know him, at least, as much as is humanly possible. By bhakti we create attraction for him. Ram Ray had said that God ought to be attained by both jnan and bhakti. Yet, an overly analytical jnani oftentimes destroys bhakti, while bhakti nourishes jnan. However, when he advocated, “blind faith” (bhakti minus jnan) the Lord only partially approved of this idea.

The blind bhakta has some advantages; to him are revealed visions, which the jnani can never acquire by his own cogitations. The bhakta feels in his heart that God is good, when he contemplates his beloved Lord he is filled with ecstasy, he thus feels God’s love, and is assured of a final resting place. While the jnani, is lost in an endless stream of verbiage, and may be led into mayavadi (illusory) doctrines.

Gauranga said: “Yes, blind bhakti is good, but can’t you give me something better?”

The religious beliefs of the people of India are contained in two books, the Bhagavat-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavat. The Gita is generally accepted as the primary guide. The Srimad-Bhagavat is only fully accepted by the bhaktas. The bhaktas also revere the Gita, for they consider it the seed from which the Srimad-Bhagavat has blossomed. Indeed, where the Gita ends, the Srimad-Bhagavat begins. The simple truths, which are contained in the Bible, are further developed, and put in a clearer, philosophical perspective in the Gita. The Bible was meant for general appeal, and the Gita for the more advanced public. Yet, Srimad-Bhagavat rests upon a still higher plateau—for it deals with prem, the love of God.

The Srimad-Bhagavat teaches total acquiescence, and absolute reliance upon God. When, therefore, Ramananda Ray, crossed the boundaries of the Gita, and entered the more rarified realms of the Srimad-Bhagavat, the Lord, for the first time, expressed some satisfaction. “Yes, unquestioning bhakti is good, but please, let me have something deeper, better and purer.”

The Srimad-Bhagavat purports that it is only through our emotional nature that we can discover the way to God. Ultimately, humanity is attracted to God by love. Humans form personal relationships, based upon the intrinsic needs and predilections natural to all beings. These are: conjugal love, fraternal love, paternal love and the love of a subordinate for a master. To cultivate a personal relationship with Sri Krsna—like the dwellers of Vraja—we must approach him with one, or more, of these emotional bonding agents. For example, by emotionally identifying with the Supreme Deity as one would a close family member. Yet, this is just the beginning!

When Mahaprabhu requested Ramananda Ray to go deeper, he said that the best means of attaining to God was by prem and bhakti (love & devotion) and thus one had to subordinate the intellect (jnan) in order to attain to him.

The Lord expressed his satisfaction. “Yet,” he said, “please withhold nothing from me. Is that the highest form of worship?”

Ram Ray felt the Lord was using him as a mouthpiece. “I am speaking, and you are listening; yet, in truth, you are compelling me to speak your sentiments. It would seem that bhakti alone is a feeling that is not ethereal enough to lead one to loving Krsna. Bhakti creates only a familial relationship between God and the bhakta. He is the Soul of our souls, nearer and dearer to us than any other thing, or being. He should be approached with prem—love alone.

Here Ramananda Ray entered into the heart of Vrndavan, the realm of love, where the central figure is Sri Krsna, the Deity of love, and the arbiter of all that is compelling, beautiful, and charming. “God ought to be attained by the love which a devoted servant bears for his master, or a dutiful child for his parents.”

“Yet, is that the highest kind of love?” prompted Gauranga.

Ram Ray pondered, “No, a higher kind of love is fraternal—the love that a brother has for a brother, or that of a friend for a friend. A higher form of worship is to approach God with fraternal love, and regard him as a friend, as Balaram (Krsna’s brother) regarded Sri Krsna.”

The Lord expressed his delight. “Tell me,” said he, “is there any feeling which influences the human heart more powerfully than fraternal love?”

“Yes,” Ram Ray said. “It’s the feeling which a parent bears for his children. God should be worshipped with all the love which Nanda and Yashoda bore for their son Krsna.”

Gauranga smiled, “You’re almost there; have you any deeper secrets to reveal?”

“I have no secrets to reveal. The secrets are all yours, which you are revealing through me for the benefit of humanity, whose saviour you, undoubtedly, are. I believe, however, conjugal love is the strongest impulse in the heart, and the Supreme Deity should be worshipped thus. The Lord God should be adored with a love like Rukmini, and Krsna’s other wives.”

“This is the highest form of worship mentioned thus far, but can you impart anything higher?”

“Yes, there is a higher level. Let Sri Krsna be approached with a love, which a woman infatuated with her lover feels.” He quoted a sloka from Srimad-Bhagavat to endorse this view. “The feeling a wife has for her husband is not love—for it is usually possessive; she loves her husband because he is her property. The sweet feelings of a maiden for her lover are much more intimate. For him she forsakes everything, risks anything, though she has no guarantees. She has no claim upon her lover; she does not care to see whether her lover is worthy, or not, she follows him because she cannot resist him. To worship Sri Krsna, with such tender and compelling sentiments, is the highest mood a devotee can express.”

Lord Gauranga was delighted, “Yet, Ram Ray—please excuse me—have you anything higher to divulge? You see your words are like nectar, they intoxicate me with delight.”

Ram Ray smiled. He said he was not aware that there was any being on earth that would ask for esoteric knowledge, deeper than that just revealed. The feeling of a man, or woman, for his, or her, lover is the strongest passion of the human condition. “Yet, I believe,” said Ramananda Ray, “there is a higher emotion, which is Radika’s love for Sri Krsna!”

“Explain then—what is it?” asked the Lord, his countenance beaming with delight.

“The transcendental love that Radha bears for Sri Krsna has no parallel in this world. Krsna is pure; yet, Radha is purity personified—there is no mundane dross in their love. It is a love which enables Radha to sacrifice everything, and brave even social scandal for the sake of her beloved. Her only happiness is Krsna’s happiness. Krsna is her life, her breath. She wants nothing from him! Her pleasure is derived solely from pleasing him. When dying, it is the name of Krsna that revives her. When her attendants propose to abduct Sri Krsna from Mathura, where he flourishes as a monarch, Radha shuddered. ‘There is no glory in making him obligated—anyone with bhakti and prem can compel him to become their serving friend. I must enthrall him! Is he not my beloved? He is in the midst of strangers, shallow friends, and selfish subjects; he cannot possibly be fully satisfied. I know his guileless heart, nothing but pure love pleases him. Therefore, I wish him back amongst his most faithful friends.’”

“Go on, go on,” encouraged the Lord. “Go on, your words fill me with ecstasy.”

Ramananda Ray had nothing further to impart. “The human intellect cannot go beyond this. I am only parroting what you, by taking possession of my mind, are making me say. You have today revealed to the world, through me, esoteric truths, unknown even to celestial beings. Yet, I was recently inspired to compose a song, describing the infatuation of Radha.” And Ram Ray then sang it.

It depicted Radha telling her principal attendant to go to Krsna and remind him how their love grew. “Remind him how we met, and that it was love at first sight. Remind him how this love began to blossom, and is blossoming still. Men and women fall in love. But my condition is different. It is so close I feel no male/female gender separation. I, therefore, cannot understand my own love for Krsna.”

Yet, is such a love possible for a person to feel towards God? That question occurred to the penetrating, atheistic mind of Sarvabhauma. He had read and heard of Radha’s love for Krsna. He had frequent discussions with Ram Ray about it—where he would quash his placid friend, by the assertion that Radha’s love for Krsna was a fiction, created by the fanciful minds of poets, and that it was altogether impossible for humanity to emulate any such love for God.

Finally, Sarvabhauma met Sri Caitanya and keenly felt his great love for Krsna. He recognized that Ramananda was correct; a person could cultivate Radha’s desire for Krsna. He concluded, that since it was possible for a person to feel so much love for the Supreme Deity, there was no doubt, that there was a God, and that he deserved to be loved!

Yet, the love that Lord Caitanya radiated for Sri Krsna has no parallel amongst human beings. No man, or woman, had ever adored his, or her, lover to the degree Lord Caitanya loved the Supreme Deity, Krsna. Messiahs have preached love of God; Lord Caitanya not only preached it, but also fully embodied and reveled in that ecstatic mood.

The highest example of worship is thus encapsulated in Radika’s love and adoration for Krsna. Yet, one cannot cultivate this feeling alone; the devotee has to follow in the wake of Radha. Let one contemplate the love that Radha felt for Krsna, and by that the aspiring bhakta will be able to acquire the sentiment step by step. To bear testimony to Radha’s love for Krsna was the external reason for Caitanya’s incarnation upon this mundane soil. Those who have no serving connection with Radha, will initially obtain a glimpse of this mood, by substituting Caitanya for Radha and contemplating his love for Krsna.

Ram Ray gazed at Lord Gauranga intently, until he felt that he had, at last, divined who he was. He then fell at his feet, and with great earnestness inquired whether he was the embodiment of both Krsna and Radha. Gauranga would have prevaricated, but Ramananda Ray pressed him: “My Lord, you came of your own accord to seek me out—is it meet that you should now conceal yourself from me?”

Ram Ray received no reply, but upon raising his head he discovered that Lord Gauranga had disappeared, and that Radha and Krsna were both standing in his place!

Ramananda fainted!

The Lord remained several days in the capital city of Vidyanagar. He assured Ramananda Ray he would rendezvous with him upon returning from his sojourn of the south, and that he should be prepared to accompany him to Puri, “What a pleasure it will be for us,” said the Heart-master, “to pass our days conversing about Krsna.”

Ram Ray was asked to give up his kingdom for the pleasure of talking, with Lord Gauranga, about the Supreme Deities! Was not this a strange request? Yet, Ramananda Ray did not think so, neither did the Lord when he proposed it!

Their mutual friend Sarvabhauma saw the six-armed figure (Sad-Bhuja) because he was in want of faith. Ramananda Ray saw Radha and Krsna because he had faith already!

Ch. 33

For two years the Lord traversed South India. The southern provinces in that part of India enjoyed peace and prosperity, for they had not been molested by Muslim conquerors. The inhabitants lived, as the Hindus have from time immemorial, in the cultivation of their intellects and religion. Ideally, the higher classes studied and developed their spiritual nature, the merchants were engaged in trade and commerce, and the lower class tilled the soil.

Caitanya was constantly on the move, stopping only at places where he had particular objectives. He met leading Buddhists, and Advaitabadis (impersonalists), and also leaders of innumerable other faiths. Whenever he encountered sincere seekers, he invariably appropriated them. He awakened tyrants and hoodlums to their fallen condition, made them useful members of society, and sometimes even transformed them into saints.

From Vidyanagar the Lord traveled to Trimand, where he delivered the learned Buddhistic leader Bhikhuram Giri. At Tungabhadra he saved the proud savant Dhundiram, upon whom he conferred the name of Haridas (servant of God). From there he proceeded to Akshaya-bat, where a wealthy merchant, Thirtharam, tested his credentials by tempting him with two seductive women. The Lord in return mercifully saved all three of them—which included the wife of the merchant, Kamal-Kumari!

The Lord then entered, and crossed, twenty miles of jungle, arriving at the town of Moona; there he danced in a fascinating manner, in the midst of thousands, and deluged the crowd with his devotional mood. Next he journeyed to Venkat, where he delivered the terrible, villainous gang leader of Boogla, along with all his cronies.

In Girishwar, at the sacred shrine of Siva, he met a sannyasi who had taken a vow of silence, and who was in a state of samadhi. Lord Caitanya awakened him from his trance, and conferred Krsna-prem upon him. Then, he visited the town of Tripadi; there a savant named Mathura approached him to provoke a debate, just the sight of the golden Avatar threw him into a convulsion and subsequently saved him.

From there he reached the sacred shrine of Pana-Narasinha, and then journeyed to Bishnu-Kanchi. After visiting several sacred shrines along the way, he arrived at the shrine of Sandi; there he delivered, the celebrated Advaitabadi sannyasi, Sadananda Puri.

The Lord next traveled to the town of Chaipalli, and then on to Tanjore. Upon the hills of Chandalu he found an ashrama of sannyasis, where he saved Sureshwar their leader. After that he arrived at the shrine of Puddacot, where he was showered with flowers as he danced with the children—whom he always attracted and loved. Here an old blind brahmana fell at his feet; Gauranga blessed him, whereupon his eyesight was immediately restored. The brahmana gazed upon the golden Heart-master with infinite wonder and tenderness, and then fell down—dead!

The Lord then arrived at the town of Tripatra, where he conferred prem upon the illustrious philosopher Bharga Deva, and there he remained for seven days in the company of this fortunate man.

Next, the Lord entered a vast jungle, which took fifteen days to cross. Finally, he reached Cape Comorin, after having conferred Krsna-prem upon several eminent sannyasis along the way.

Returning from the Cape, he entered the province of Travancore. His glory continued to precede him. Most people recognized that Gaura was divine; just the sight of him was enough to convince many that he was an incarnation of Sri Krsna.

The Raja of Travancore, hearing that a wonderful sannyasi had arrived, felt a great desire to meet him. He sent men to fetch him, but to no avail. The king, therefore, personally sought the Lord, and found him sitting beside a tree, with his eyes shut and tears gushing down his rosy cheeks. The Lord blessed the Raja, and continued upon his way—though the Raja wished him to abide within his dominion.

After Travancore, upon the hills of Ramgiri, Caitanya entered another community of pantheistic sannyasis, and conferred Krsna-prem upon them all—giving them a new beginning.

He then passed the shrine of Matsya Nag Panchapadi, in Chitol, and arrived at the banks of the river Toongabhadra. In the town of Chandapur, he saved another renowned sannyasi, named Iswar Bharati. Then Gauranga entered another jungle, full of ferocious beasts. Govinda, in his journal, confesses that abject fear sometimes gripped him, especially when tigers, lions, elephants, and rhinos sized him up at night. Govinda states: “The animals approached me, but I cleaved unto the Lord.” Possibly the animals saw a meal in Govinda; yet, they had no such inclination towards Gauranga, who loved all creatures—elephants and ants alike.

Eventually, the Lord reached the town of Gurjari, where he danced distributing prem to thousands. Next, he entered the celebrated town of Puna, a Brahminical oasis—undisturbed by Muslim invaders—that greatly resembled Nadia with its educational institutions.

Caitanya was sitting upon the banks of a lake called Tacchar, pining: “Where fore art thou, my Krsna? My heart yearns for thee.” Thousands gathered to watch him lament. One man thoughtlessly jested that Krsna was to be found in the lake; upon hearing this, Caitanya threw himself into the water, and fainted! Hundreds clamoured to rescue him.

From there he proceeded to the shrine of Bholeswar, and then on to Devaleswar. The Lord then journeyed to the shrine of Khandwa, where he met a group of girls—dedicated to a deity called Murari—who could not be wed. Ironically, these girls, though espoused to God, and maintained by the temple, lived extremely loose lives. In Gauranga, a young man of twenty-six, they found a fit object of adoration. Yet, he expressed such profound pity and concern for their degenerate state, that their hearts were quickly softened. They had been falsely assured that as brides of heaven, they were privileged to abandon mundane virtue. Externally, they lived frivolous lives, yet, at heart, they were the most miserable of women. At first, they had regretted their demise, but eventually became hardened, till at length, they devolved into vicious creatures, almost without souls. The Heart-master saw them and wept so sincerely for their fallen condition, that they were awakened to a sense of shame. They then recovered the faculty they had lost—of shedding tears! They fell at the feet of the Lord with the heartrending cry of, “Save us, father! Saviour of humanity!”

Mahaprabhu told them that they were fortunate in having the Lord God for their husband; yet, they ought to be faithful to him, more scrupulously faithful than to a mortal man. These “Murarees” soon became so saintly, they purified the very atmosphere in which they lived.

The Lord then entered the jungle of Choranandee, intending to visit the infamous mobster of Bhil, Naoroji. When he was seen wandering towards the villain’s haunt, people warned him that the chief was a cruel and heartless killer. He paid no heed to their counsel, and entered the stronghold of the chief, where he sat under a tree. The mobster sent some of his cronies to bring the stranger before him. They tried to coerce the Lord, but he was engrossed with his Krsna, he had no mind for either their threats, or their entreaties. The robbers would have, ordinarily, used force; but the presence of the Lord awed them. The snubbed chief, shortly thereafter, appeared before him, with sword in hand. The sight of Gauranga staggered him. Still, he angrily asked what business a holy man might have in a den of thieves.

The Heart-master raised his head and looked at the chief tenderly, with large, liquid eyes. “You perceive yourself as a villain; yet I see in you great bhakti for God,” uttered Mahaprabhu.

“You tell me, I have bhakti for God, but I’m a murderer and a thief.”

“You may be a fallen soul, yet I see in your heart the precious jewel of bhakti, which any man might covet.”

“Are you sure?” asked Naoroji.

“Absolutely certain.”

The idea that he had, yet, a shard of decency, touched the very core of his being. “Do you mean to say that if I now give up my wicked ways, and surrender unto God, he will accept me?”

“Certainly.”

Naoroji was surely damned! Yet, the words of the mendicant carried conviction. “I’m already sixty, and have neither children, nor wife, nor relatives to provide for. Day-by-day death’s appointed hour draws closer. What a fool I’ve been!” Tears trickled down his cheeks. It then seemed to him that the mendicant was enlivening his very soul. He threw away his saber, and addressed his followers: “I can no longer lead you. You must choose another chief, or disband. I must follow this ascetic.”

Mahaprabhu rose to depart, Naoroji followed. The Lord objected.

“Oh, I’m wearing my chieftain’s garb,” said Naoroji, tearing off his clothes, and wrapping only a rag around his loins.

“Now my Lord, will you permit me to follow you?”

Mahaprabhu said nothing. And Naoroji, thus, became his constant companion.

The Lord then visited the famous shrine of Pandharpur; there he learned how his elder brother, Visvarup, had disappeared from this world at the tender age of eighteen.

Shortly thereafter, he traveled to the shrine of Khandwa, upon the banks of the Mula. From there the Lord proceeded to the city of Nassick, and from Nassick to Panchabati.

From Panchabati he traveled to the town of Daman, and from Daman on to Surat—where he stopped the practice of animal sacrifice to the goddess Ashtabhuja. From Surat the Lord journeyed to Broach, and from Broach to Baroda—where the king sought his association. Here Naoroji, the redeemed villain, died with his head upon the lap of his Lord—who whispered final words of comfort and consolation into his ears.

From Baroda, Mahaprabhu journeyed to Ahmedabad, and from Ahmedabad to Ghoga; there he encountered an exquisitely beautiful dancing-girl, who was also a wealthy prostitute, named Baromukhi. The Heart-master sat before her window, as an ever-increasing crowd surrounded him, and there he danced, ecstatically, in their midst. The fallen woman observed everything, and was awakened to her sullied condition. She made over all her property to her favourite maid, and surrendered herself, unconditionally, at his feet. When he blessed her she was seized by a deep remorse. The Lord instructed her to pass the rest of her days in devotion. She then diminished her beauty by cutting off her magnificent hair, and wearing only coarse cloth. She acquired a hut and lived there in prayer. She was thus transformed into a saint.

The Lord passed through Jafferabad and entered Somnath, where the Muslims had looted its ornate shrine. (The gates of this celebrated temple were carried to Afghanistan, by the conquering hordes. The British Government subsequently brought them back to India.) From Somnath he entered Junagarh, and there met a revered sannyasi, Bharga Deva, who was suffering from an incurable disease. The Lord healed him, and then conferred upon him bhakti and prem. This man and all his disciples clung to the Heart-master, and refused to part from him. Sixteen ascetics then followed him; they entered a jungle, which took them seven days to traverse, and then reached the celebrated shrine of Pravas.

From Pravas he went to Dwarka, where he remained a fortnight. From there he went to Baroda, and thence preceded back towards Vidyanagar, the town Ramananda governed.

The rumour of Caitanya being an incarnation of Sri Krsna continued to precede him. Wherever he stopped, crowds surrounded him, and whenever he left a place, people clung to him; only with great difficulty could he persuade them to go home.

The Lord told his plans to no one; yet, he clearly had definite objectives in selecting particular people for his blessings; some were not only worthy of receiving bhakti and prem, but also of transmitting it to others. He knew of the whereabouts of these people, and sought them out, while at other times he drew them to him. People thus blessed, remained to distribute love and devotion for the Supreme Deities; this was how the Lord’s mission in the south was propagated in such a thorough and speedy manner.

The powers exhibited by the Lord in the south were greater than those, hitherto, displayed. (Caitanya-caritamrta)

Gauranga never publicly proclaimed himself. His apparent objective was to impart bhakti and Krsna-prem for the salvation of humanity. He aspired to make people love Sri Krsna. That was the doctrine he propagated, and instilled in the hearts of others. Thus, in the south, even some of his initiated disciples knew not his name, from whence he came, or where he was going.

There are many places in southern India, where the history still exists, that hundreds of years ago, Sri Krsna wandered there in the guise of a beautiful and charming, young mendicant. Places where he sat, ghats at which he bathed, are still considered sacred.

Whether Tukaram, the celebrated saint of Puna, was a direct disciple of Sri Caitanya, or was a disciple of a disciple, is unknown. The Lord passed through Pandharpur, the home of Tukaram. The spirituality, which Tukaram came to preach, was that of Lord Caitanya in every respect. The followers of that saint call themselves “the property of Caitanya.” Tukaram claims that upon going to the river to bathe, he met an ascetic who touched his head. Tuka fancied that he called himself Kesava Caitanya. “I then,” he writes, “lapsed into an unconscious state. Upon waking, I found that he who blessed me had disappeared.”

This was the manner in which Caitanya operated. A look, or a touch, from him threw one into a trance, and upon waking one would often find oneself alone, with only a faint recollection of having met a celestial being, or mendicant, who had suffused them with an irresistible attraction for Sri Krsna. This touch, from Mahaprabhu, not only filled these fortunate individuals with bhakti and prem, but, sometimes, also the main principles of Vaisnava philosophy! (Tukaram saved a large number of people in Deccan, and has a large following there to this day.)

After the appearance of the Lord in Guzerat, a venerated saint, Swami Narayan, flourished. He taught both by word and deed, the cardinal doctrine preached by Sri Caitanya, namely that “in order to be fit to utter the name of Krsna, one must feel lower than grass, and laud even his enemies.” He carried this harmless doctrine to such lengths, even when an antagonist flung his shoes at him, he handed them back!

Ballavacarya, whose name and fame was besmeared in Bombay, was actually a man of saintly character; it was some of his misguided disciples that denigrated Vaisnavism—not him. In his dotage, he sojourned to Nilacal to meet the Lord; there he fell at his feet, and was, later, initiated by Gadadhar, his beloved disciple.

Adults were often awed in the Lord’s presence, and worried lest by approaching him, they might commit offence; children had no such feelings to restrain them. They gladly gathered around him. Govinda describes how at one place, a boy told his playmates that the visiting sannyasi became weird upon hearing the name of Hari. The boys surrounded the Lord, and all shouted, “Hari!” “Hari!” clapping their hands.

Caitanya, upon hearing Harinam, smiled strangely at the boys.

“See! Let us repeat it,” said the ringleader. Again, they uttered the sacred name, while clapping their hands.

Sri Caitanya began to besmear his body with dust—encouraging them, by his smile, to continue chanting the name.

“Look,” said the ringleader triumphantly, “he’s gone stark, raving mad!” The boys giggled, and danced, while continuing to chant “Hari!”

When the Lord returned to Ramananda’s town, he received a royal welcome. “We will now return to Puri,” said Gauranga to Raja Ramananda Ray. “Where we shall live happily together, and pass our days discoursing about Sri Krsna.”

Ram Ray replied, “Immediately after you left, I wrote to the king to relieve me of my duties. He refused. I persisted, and finally confessed that you had summoned me, and I must obey. The king knew of you from Sarvabhauma, and he is anxiously awaiting your return to Nilacal. Upon hearing your name, he gave me leave to resign. Yet, you and I cannot journey together, for I must take a military escort. I will tarry my Lord, till you have departed, and shortly thereafter follow.”

Ch. 34

The Lord arrived back in Nilacal, Puri, after an absence of two years. The bhaktas, while he was yet a day’s journey from the Temple of Jagannath, advanced as if in one body to welcome him. When they reunited, Mahaprabhu embraced each and every one of them. Sarvabhauma followed the bhaktas with his loyal entourage, and fell at the feet of the golden Avatar, who raised him up and hugged him.

The Lord then settled back in the town of Puri, living in a hut near the temple. All the astute servants of Jagannath now sought his association. Bhaktas from all parts of the country flocked to him, for his fame had spread throughout India. Thus, came Bharati, Puri, Swarup-Damodar, and other revered sannyasis to align themselves with him. Ramananda also arrived to pass the rest of his days with the Lord of his heart.

The King of Orissa had come to believe that Lord Caitanya was Sri Krsna; the deliverance of Sarvabhauma, and Ramananda, had convinced him. Both these devoted followers besought the Lord to grant the king an audience. Yet, the Lord refused!

He had legitimate grounds for this refusal, however. A sannyasi is not only prohibited from willingly fraternizing with a female, but also a king. The Lord could not, strictly speaking, allow the king an interview. He had, no doubt, other excellent motives for upholding the letter of the law. With a view to inspiring humanity to accept Harinam, he had forsaken society and become a mendicant. If an illustrious king could acknowledge him as master—the king in whose realm he resided—while the Lord remained the poorest of the poor, perhaps his reservations would vanish.

Both Sarvabhauma and Ramananda urged the king not to approach the Lord as a sovereign, but instead as one of the servants of Jagannath, which he, indeed, was—his duty being, to sweep the streets before the temple with a golden broom.

Still the Lord refused his association.

Sarvabhauma and Ramananda next tried to move the Lord in other ways. They told him that the king had renounced everything. That he was day and night weeping for a sight of his lotus feet, that if he were not allowed this privilege, he might die of grief. King Pratap composed a sloka in which he addressed Mahaprabhu in these words: “My Lord, when thou chose to descend to save sinners, didst thou make exempt, only the greatest of them, Pratap-rudra?”

The Lord was, indubitably, touched, and thus extremely kind in his refusal.

This snub had a medicinal effect upon the heart of the king. As an autocratic ruler, it was difficult to dispel the idea that he had certain inalienable rights within his own kingdom! Yet, the attitude of the Lord humbled him to dust; at the same time, it heightened his hankering for Gaura’s lotus feet. “The Lord is merciful, for he has already taught me one great truth,” revealed Pratap to Sarvabhauma. “A man, whom I do not allow to sit before me, or approach me, is the constant companion of the Lord. Yet, I, the King of kings, have not the privilege of even seeing his feet! This shows how fallen we kings really are.”

The king was chastened and purged of his impurities. He had Sarvabhauma and Ramananda at his absolute disposal. They were his servants; yet, he had to implore them to intercede for him with Caitanya! Thus, the Lord, the friend of his servants, refused to see him, their master and king!

Yet, nothing is impossible for a sincere seeker; if he is persistent in his knocking, the door is sure to be opened. The king knocked, and knocked, and knocked, and received his reward at last. One day, while the Lord was in a trance, the king, following the advice of Ramananda, approached him dressed as an ordinary man. He quietly sat before him, then took his feet upon his lap, and began to rub them gently, all the while repeating sweet slokas, from the Srimad-Bhagavat, describing Sri Krsna. Though Caitanya was in a meditative state, this recital threw him into raptures. He then drew the king to his heart and said, “Who are you, kind stranger—pouring nectar into my ears? As a sannyasi, I have nothing to give except my embrace.”

The Heart-master and the king fell down in a death-like swoon—as the ecstatic velocity of his love awakened another soul.

The king, regaining consciousness before the Lord, humbly bowed to all the bhaktas present, who congratulated him as he left wobbling in his gait. Thereafter he proclaimed to his friends that though the Lord was known by many names, he chose to know him by only one, “The Saviour of Pratap-rudra.”

The bhaktas lost no time in sending news to Nadia, of the Lord’s return from the south. For two year, Saci, Visnupriya and the Bengali bhaktas, had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the dearest object of their lives. Bashu Ghose describes the state of the Nadia devotees during this period of absence: The heart weeps, because the Lord is gone. How can we get him back? Who will now shower his mercy upon the sinful? Who will now sob at the sight of the fallen? Nadia has become dark and dreary, and lowly Bashu Ghose must suffer this separation.

Saci, Visnupriya, and the most ardent followers of the Lord, survived because he appeared to them within their hearts, and consoled them by his spiritual presence. When they were, however, at their lowest ebb, glad tidings of the Heart-master’s return reinvigorated them.

In no time, the house of Saci was filled with bhaktas. “To Nilacal!” “To Nilacal!” they all cried. After taking permission of Saci, they prepared to visit the Lord. Hundreds, thus led by Advaita and Srivas, traveled on foot, and in three to four weeks, after suffering great hardships, at last, reached Puri.

Haridas, originally a Muslim, was forbidden to enter the province of Orissa; now that the king was a servant of the Lord, and Haridas a bhakta, he had no fear in going to his master.

Meanwhile, back in Orissa, the golden Avatar and his Puri bhaktas sat gazing at one another tenderly. “Where’s Murari?” asked the Lord…someone went to fetch him.

He had fallen down and fainted outside the Lord’s hut. Mahaprabhu rose to embrace Murari, who drew back, imploring his master not to touch him. “I’m only dirt,” said he, “don’t touch this poor sinner. I’m not worthy of that blessing.” The Lord forcibly embraced him, claiming that he touched Murari only to purify himself.

The Bengali bhaktas stayed four months in Puri, passing their days in devotional mood; yet, many neglected their families. Finally, Gauranga feeling obliged to send them home, said, “You must perform the duties of householders, and maintain those who are dependent upon you.”

Nitai, and the Nilacal mendicants, remained with their master. The whole of Orissa had been delivered, and it was then the auspicious destiny of Puri to enjoy the blessing, which Nadia had tasted two years earlier.

Shortly thereafter, Sri Caitanya privately instructed Nitai thus: “You must go to Bengal.”

“I go to Bengal? Leave you? Never! The body cannot live without the soul, and you are my soul.”

“Bengal must be saved. You alone are capable of accomplishing this difficult feat. You love me, and therefore don’t wish to leave. Yet, we are not in this world to please ourselves. People are starved of spiritual inspiration. Our hardest work lies in Bengal, where societies leaders are inveterate intellectuals. Only a powerful bhakta can succeed in a place like that.”

“It breaks my heart to leave you,” wept Nitai.

Mahaprabhu embraced him, and said affectionately, “When you suffer in my absence, remember, I too am suffering. The learned men of Bengal must be shown that words are nothing in comparison to the quiet emanation of the higher emotions. You are all-bliss; simply show them what a delight it is to serve Krsna. Appeal to their hearts, and demonstrate that there is something more to man than his intellect. I have the profoundest pity for those learned men—prisoners of words—reach them.

“Oblige me, dear brother, by making no distinction between high and low, wise and ignorant, pious and infidel, good or bad, in dispensing your blessings—save them all without discrimination. The greater the sinner, the greater are his claims upon us. You will encounter much opposition, and you will have to overcome it with unconditional love.”

When the Lord sent off this “expedition,” he inspired and elevated Nitai and his companions so much, that they utterly forgot themselves, and journeyed to Nadia in a state of utter bliss.

In Bengal, Nitai again raised the pristine standard of Lord Caitanya. His method of salvation was unique; he neither preached, nor argued, nor distributed literature. He roamed from place to place, simply proclaiming the advent of the Lord, showing himself and his, innumerable, companions to be constantly elated—dancing and singing kirtan. Here is one of his songs:

He has arrived, he has arrived, the being that abides in all our hearts. He is here to take you to the highest destination, Goloka. Come to the harbour of my Lord Gauranga, and be freely ferried over the ocean of worldliness.

His behaviour was unconstrained, bold, and unconventional. His joy was irrepressible. That joy overflowed his heart, and swept others away; thus, as Nitai continued his holy quest, he found himself followed by an ever-increasing number of believers.

There were men who declared Nitai mad. There were others, who actually acted with hostility toward him. Yet, the ardour of Nitai could not to be extinguished. He would fall at the feet of his deadliest enemies and implore them with soulful sincerity, weeping all the while, to follow Krsna, and often they would be moved. Thus, many of the greatest opponents of Nitai became his most faithful followers. Here is a description of Nityananda, from one of his most loyal disciples, the author of Caitanya-bhagavat:

Nitai roams about with not drop of pride, always ecstatic, and never ruffled by anger. He entreats whoever he meets to accept Gauranga. If the person refuses, he takes a blade of grass between his lips and says, “Purchase me forever by accepting the Lord.” Nitai never discriminates, the greater the sinner, the greater his sympathy. Whenever he meets a fallen soul, he rolls upon the ground with heartfelt compassion.

Nitai’s mission fueled the spiritual revolution in Bengal. A strange frenzy seized the people. Many of them acquired supernatural powers, children were found to talk with wisdom well beyond their years, men to speak in tongues, to fast for weeks, and to show extraordinary physical strength.

The following year, the Bengal bhaktas again journeyed to see their master at Puri. This time the ladies insisted upon accompanying them. Thus, husbands took wives, sons mothers, and brothers sisters. Sivananda Sen, an ardent follower of the Lord, undertook to bear all the traveling expenses of the party. This charitable service, the saint Sivananda performed for more than twenty years; he was always willing to financially assist those who wanted to go to Puri to visit Gauranga, especially for the Rathayatra festival. One of Sivananda’s sons (Krsnadas) was the author of several Sanskrit manuscripts; two of them deal with the lilas of Lord Gauranga—Caitanya-caritamrta and Chandrodaya-natak (to which we are greatly indebted for many of the facts related in this book).

When the Bengali bhaktas reached Puri, Mahaprabhu, with his personal retinue, traveled to the edge of town to receive them. As he appeared on the horizon, there were loud shouts of “The Lord!” “The Lord!” Sivananda had his eldest son, aged nine, in his arms. The boy had never met the Lord. Hearing the shouts, the child asked, “Father, who amongst the crowd, is he?”

As they drew closer Sivananda replied, “Does my Lord need to be pointed out? Does he not carry his credentials always with him? Can you not see my son, who stands the tallest and fairest of all, surrounded by a celestial light, which betokens his divinity? Can you not see his lovely eyes, moist with unutterable sweetness, indicating that he is the most beloved?”

The Bengali bhaktas’ four month stay in Puri was utilized in devotional pastimes rivaling the charming, celestial abode of Vrndavan. They bathed in thousands amidst peal after peal of “Haribol!” They assembled each morning and sang the glories of the Supreme Deities. In the afternoons they listened to the holy Srimad-Bhagavat, and the nights they passed in singing kirtan. Every moment was utilized to cultivate the devotional mood. Thus, they spent their days and nights in ecstasy.

The sorrowful day of parting, however, at last, arrived, and Mahaprabhu found himself surrounded by hundreds of Nadia devotees. He determined to embrace each and every one of them. Finally, the turn of Vasudeva came. He fell at the feet of the Lord, and prayed for a bar (boon). He was the elder brother of Mukunda, and had only recently taken shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet. Vasudeva was the meekest of the meek, the holiest of the holy. His heart ceaselessly wept for the miseries of others. “My Lord, ocean of mercy,” said Vasudeva, “The suffering of thy children rends my heart. Please remove my misery by granting me this bar: Transfer the sins of all humanity onto me, that I might suffer for them.”

Vasudeva, whose heart was as soft as butter, felt that witnessing the misery of humanity was more dreadful than suffering the misery itself. Thus, he made this memorable prayer.

The Lord sobbed, and was so moved pulak (goose bumps) appeared upon his body.

“Like master, like bhakta,” one said.

“It’s sacrifice alone which pleases God, and one like this has no parallel,” claimed another.

This prayer of Vasudeva shows how compassionate one can become by bhakti. It shows how the Supreme Being is bound to his children by indissoluble ties of love, and is ever attracting them towards him. A humble and loving saint prays for the forgiveness of others. Yet, Vasudeva went further, he undertook to carry the burden of humanities sins upon his own shoulders!

Ch 35

Lord Caitanya preached equality. He saw only one’s spiritual realization—not their gender, or caste. Whoever sought to oppose him, had, at last, to succumb to him. Advaita, head of the Vaisnavas, relinquished his position to him. Jagai and Madhai, the Rajas of Nadia, also fell at his feet; as did the sovereign’s representative, the Kazi. The King of Orissa, in whose territory the Lord lived, also humbly acknowledged him as a Personality of Godhead. Thus, influential leaders, one by one, were brought into his fold. Yet, to further his mission, there remained two brothers to deliver—powerful, influential ministers in the Islamic Government. They were high karnataka brahmanas, of royal ancestry, but were obliged to live like Muslims in order to maintain their positions in the province of Bengal. Though the King of Gaur was the sovereign, the real power laid in the hands of these two brothers, known as Sakara Malik and Dabir Khasa. They finally sought the Lord, who named them Rup and Sanatan, and, shortly thereafter, sent them to Vrndavan to spread the faith in northwest India.

Rupa Goswami was selected, by Sri Caitanya, for a role of monumental importance: the first upholder of a single line of disciplic succession called the Rupanuga Sampradaya. There are many disciplic lines to innumerable destinations within the transcendental paradigm. Of course the Heart-master wished only to endorse the highest relativity—which is The Manjari Line. Manjari’s are the pre-adolescent, chaste, and personal handmaidens of Radharani. They enter into the divine romance of Radha and Krsna in a very unique and delightful way. Rupa’s transcendental form is as a manjari. Therefore, Rupa Manjari represents the highest stages of Raga-bhakti (spontaneous loving devotion) demonstrating the highest transcendental possibility for humanity.

During this period there existed two pre-eminent intellectuals, both alike in dignity; one was Sarvabhauma, who had fully acquiesced to the Lord. The other, a rival of Sarvabhauma—considered superior in some respects—was Prakasananda Saraswati, the leading sannyasi and Advaitabadi (impersonalist) in India.

Prakasananda was a deadly enemy to the path of prem and bhakti. As a leader of sannyasis, and a profoundly learned man, he was held in the highest esteem. He had ten thousand disciples, and as a spiritual guide, he reigned supreme in Benares. The Vedas, as the basis of Hinduism, had Prakasananda as their professor and expounder. The Lord during one of his revelations, in Nadia, had declared that Prakasanada was preaching anti-bhakti doctrines, and that he would eventually teach him a lesson!

The fame of Caitanya had spread throughout India. Thus Prakasananda learned that many people, even savants, were worshiping a young, charismatic, sannyasi as Sri Krsna. At first, he heard these rumours with indifference; yet, he was most surprised when told that the renowned Sarvabhauma was in his fold. This naturally led the Benares pandit to regard the new luminary with greater consideration. He then stated that this so-called Avatar was not to be treated lightly, since he is able to beguile even intellectual giants like Sarvabhauma. “The fact is,” he insinuated, “he is an occultist—of gigantic powers—and has, therefore, been able to hypnotize my poor academic friend. If the phony could be induced to come to Benares, I haven’t the least doubt, his tricks would be exposed.” The Benares savant was certain, even though “the great occultist” had been able to fool Sarvabhauma, he would not be able to razzle-dazzle him, the great Saraswati of Benares. Indeed, the idea of a man considered to be Krsna, and of others accepting him as such, appeared to him so ludicrous, that he became curious to observe the mendicant, and the tricks he employed in manipulating his victims. With this view, he decided to write a brief note to Sri Caitanya saying:

“Barbarians must avoid Benares, and live only in other places.”

The Lord responded to this inane challenge with an exceedingly courteous reply. He, however, declined to go to Benares, on the simple grounds that Sri Krsna, in Nilacal, was enough for him. The Saraswati deciding to further discredit him, wrote, in reply, a most scurrilous and abusive letter; these were open letters, published and read all over India, therefore, Sri Caitanya, and the Saraswati—the two most spiritually distinguished men in the country—appeared to be at odds! Indeed, Prakasananda thought it his incumbent duty, as the primary religious upholder in India, to expose the imposter, who was actually extorting honours due only to Almighty God, from both the ignorant, and also the learned!

To the latter communication Caitanya made no reply. (These letters still exist.)

However, the Lord, on a pilgrimage to Vrndavan—six years after his renunciation—passed through Benares. Eleven years prior, he had bid Tapan Misra to live there. He promised to later rendezvous with him; in pursuance of that promise, the Lord, when he arrived at Benares, was the guest of that saint.

The appearance of Gauranga, in the town, created a sensation. Prakasananda, of course, heard of his arrival; yet, felt it would not bode well to court his association. Similarly, the Lord, though he stayed in the city for some days, was disinclined to meet with Prakasananda. Thus, there was no encounter between them on that occasion.

“Did I not tell you,” said Prakasananda to his followers, “this city would be a hard place for him to perform his tricks? He dared not broach us, he has already fled.”

The Lord returned to Benares from Vrndavan, on his way back to Nilacal!

“He is back!” exclaimed Prakasananda. “Rest assured, he will not venture to cross our path.”

Many people visited Mahaprabhu and surrendered unto him. These converts naturally ran to the first man of Benares, the theistic savant, to impart the glad tidings, that the young sannyasi was, indisputably, Sri Krsna himself. The savant laughed in derision, and warned them not to consort with the occultist, whose company alone would be damnation. “Those who announce themselves as God Almighty,” said the sage, “and those who accept such avatars, are both damned.” These all too frequent incidences, only served to increase the animosity of the savant against the Lord.

However, those saved, remained loyal. They were sure of their master, and they felt that if the savant were afforded an opportunity of meeting the Lord, he too would see things differently. Still, he would not seek his association, nor was the Lord eager to visit him!

Many told Mahaprabhu how the savant detested him, reviled him, and had already created a strong movement, in the town, against him. Was it not the duty of the Lord, the saviour of humanity, to save him who had such a baneful influence over so many?

Whenever these suggestions were made, the Lord gave no reply, yet smiled sweetly.

One of Caitanya’s new converts, a Maharatta brahmana, planned to invite all the sannyasis of the town, thousands of them, to break fast at his place. He then, with other converts, approached the Lord and beseeched him to accept the same invitation.

The Lord, understanding their motives, again smiled, yet said nothing.

All the leading converts, who were part of this conspiracy, then fell at his feet and implored him to accept the invitation. They candidly confessed that the invitation to the savant, and his followers, was a ploy to bring them face to face with the golden Avatar. One said: “My Lord, they denigrate you, yet they have never seen you. Just the sight of your divine self will deliver them. Please come, if only to save us from life-long persecution. You are indifferent to praise and persecution; yet, when you are gone, the whole town will torment us by their ridicule of you. How will it be possible for us to bear insults leveled at the Soul of our souls? Grant unto us this prayer, sweet Lord, and accept the invitation.”

The Lord again smiled, and this time agreed to go!

In spite of the apparent contempt Prakasananda had for Caitanya, he came to feel some grudging respect for the being who had succeeded in making even Sarvabhauma bow to him as God. He held, however, a firm conviction that “the pretender” would never dare darken his doorstep. Yet, when he learned that this great party had been organized by the Maharatta brahmana—one who had, in spite of his strict vows, accepted the Lord—with the singular objective of bringing him and the “occultist” together, he felt his heart flutter. “What does this mean?” thought the sage. “He is coming to me! He knows that I have the utmost contempt for him, and that I have never concealed this fact, either from him or from the public; yet he is willing to meet me, while in the midst of thousands of my disciples!”

Prakasananda was master in that city; there, he had known no equal. He lived among thousands of his own followers. Yet, the stranger, whom he had persistently reviled, was coming to him, on his turf, in his stronghold. That was, no doubt, a challenge. Despite feelings of trepidation, the sage found himself curious—for a sight of him. “Would he also hypnotize me, as he did Sarvabhauma?” wondered Prakasananda, trying to smile away the dread that sought to seize him.

The appointed day arrived, and the sannyasis—thousands of them—sat under large canopies. Gauranga approached the party, sober, grounded, and focused—accompanied by four disciples. He walked slowly with his head bowed, as if engrossed within himself. Every sannyasi surreptitiously glanced at the gigantic figure looming towards them. Prakasananda tried to feign indifference; yet he too could not resist a glimpse of his approaching foe.

“He is no doubt a Mahapurush (great man),” Prakasananda thought. “What majesty!”

There was, outside of the canopies, water for guests to wash their feet before sitting upon matting. Gauranga bowed to all the sannyasis, washed his feet, and then sat outside!

Ordinarily, Prakasananda would never have permitted an invited guest to sit outside—as an outcast. Compunction gripped his heart; he had given the stranger every right to avoid him. Yet, though he was the leader in that company, the stranger was an invited guest of his host. Thus, the onus to invite him inside fell upon the Maharatta brahmana, who had sold himself to the mendicant.

Prakasananda, having now a closer view of Gauranga, was truly astonished. Is this the charlatan, who hypnotizes men like Sarvabhauma? That can never be! He seems simplicity, modesty, and meekness incarnate. And, how clever he looks! There appears to be no guile in him. Such were the contingencies that now addled his wits. Thus, he felt shame for having sought to injure such an impeccable soul.

He rose to address the Lord, and when he stood, the crowd rose with him. “Swami, I cannot permit this. You must come within and give us the pleasure, and benefit, of your company.”

Sri Caitanya humbly replied that he wished to be left where he was. For he belonged to a lower order (being a Bharati, and Prakasananda a Saraswati) and was not fit to sit in the midst of such an august assembly.

“This can never be,” insisted Prakasananda. He then stepped forward, took the stranger by the hand, and bade him to sit by his side. His object of persecution had never given him offence, nor even resented the treatment that he had accorded him. He wanted to make up for his past misbehaviour. “Swami, you belong to our order. You have been staying in this city. Yet you do not associate with us.”

Caitanya muttered an inaudible excuse.

The sage knew that he had no right to blame the stranger for his reluctance to visit. For, was it not he who had made it impossible for the mendicant to seek his association? So, not getting a clear reply to his query, and not wishing to get one, lest the visitor alluded to the sage’s mistreatment of him, he changed the subject. “You are not only a sannyasi like us, but you seem also to be a celestial being in disguise. Yet how is it you do not perform one of the principal duties of our order, namely, the reading of the Vedas? Also, it is no secret, for the world knows that you indulge in singing and dancing, which are abominations to us ascetics; if you, who are born to be a leader, spread such practices, a regrettable example will be set, and ascetics are likely to get a bad name. Will you kindly explain your reasons for such conduct?”

The sage, inadvertently, assumed a superior position, and Caitanya replied as an inferior. “Sripad, I shall frankly confess to you my condition. My guru, seeing that I was a dunce, explained that the elaborate practices followed by our order would not suit me, and that I was simply to constantly chant the names of Sri Krsna. ‘Do that, my son,’ he said, ‘and you’ll obtain the highest blessings that are open to all humanity.’ Following this command I have taken shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Krsna, and continue diligently, and faithfully, to utter his holy names. Ignorant as I am, this mode of worship suits me very well, and, to my amazement, I found the name had a potency, which filled my heart with such exuberance—it compelled me to dance and sing. One thought, however, checked the flow of this ecstasy. Was I going mad? In terror, I ran to my guru, and asked, ‘Master, what sort of name have you given me? It has already done a good deal of mischief. I’m led by it to sing and dance like a lunatic.’

“My guru smiled, and said, ‘the names of the beloved Lord Krsna, are—like Him—irresistibly attractive. That’s the way everyone, who sincerely chants his holy names, is affected. My son, you have been given a taste of Krsna-prem for which even the gods hanker. You are most fortunate, you have received the blessing of Sri Krsna, and I am blessed in having you as my disciple.’”

Caitanya continued, “So you see, Sripad, it’s true, I dance and sing. I don’t do it willingly. It’s the power possessed in the name of the great and beloved being, Krsna, which compels me.”

When the Heart-master alluded to the Supreme Deity, a thrill passed through the frame of the sage, and also his followers. Lord Caitanya spoke amidst poignant silence. His melodious voice, and the light that played about his person, joyously affected all those present.

Prakasananda, though moved, needed to maintain the assumed superiority of his position. “Your explanation is most satisfactory and soothing. It is quite true that the sastras claim that Krsna-prem is the most coveted of all blessings. Now, kindly explain why you don’t read the Vedas?”

Caitanya replied, “The Vedas in and of themselves are good and ennobling; yet, Shankara interprets them to support only pantheistic doctrines. By the Vedas you mean Shankara’s purports, which make no distinction between man and God. Now, as a humble worshipper of the Deities, I cannot look at Shankara’s interpretations without feeling shocked and dismayed.

Prakasananda, the most ardent advocate of Shankara, was truly surprised. He had very little faith in a Supreme Being, but an unalterable one in Shankara. Thus, he remained unflurried. He simply wanted to know what the Swami’s rationale was in speaking so disparagingly of a theistic master, whom the world worshipped?

“The Vedas are attributed to God,” stated Caitanya. “That being the case, the Vedas themselves ought to exhort greater respect that any mundane interpretations. The Vedas are simple enough. It is not difficult to show that Shankara’s spin is one sided.”

“Let us then hear how you understand them,” said the sage with genuine curiosity. Being India’s authority on the Vedas, he was quite confident that there was no chance of the young stranger saying anything which he did not know, and which, if objectionable, he would not be able to refute.

Caitanya began to critique the interpretations of Shankara—as he had before Sarvabhauma.

The sage and his companions were amazed! They had all followed the renderings of Shankara unquestioningly, never considering that there could be any error in them. Yet, Caitanya again made it crystal clear that these interpretations were half-truths.

The sage found himself fascinated, “I have followed you swami, with rapt attention. You have done your task in a thorough manner. You have shown superhuman powers in analyzing so thoroughly the works of a master’s master—Shankara. None, hitherto, dared venture it. I feel no inclination to find fault with your insights, for they are, apparently, quite correct. Let us now hear how you comprehend the Vedas.”

Caitanya elaborately showed, from the Vedas, that the Creator assumes a spiritual form for human worship, and that he is to be attained only by developing a personal relationship with him, which requires prem and bhakti.

This discourse produced the same effect upon the ascetics, as it did upon Sarvabhauma. The brilliance of Caitanya enthralled them. His comprehensive expositions made them realize what they had, hitherto, believed was incomplete, and that Shankara had misled them. Admiration for the Lord was, however, supplanted by another higher feeling, when he began to talk of Krsna-prem. He exponentially expanded their realization of divinity, which delighted the ascetics. They had never before tasted the emotional ecstasy generated from bhakti. It intoxicated them. All the sannyasis wanted to address him, but the presence of their leader restrained them.

Prakasananda finally confessed, “Swami, you know I have been condemning you. I was arrogant from pride and vanity. I felt I had no equal, and therefore the right to lay down the law. I ought to ask your forgiveness for my unjust behaviour. Yet, I see, however, there is no need. Indeed, to ask forgiveness of you is to do you injustice. You don’t need to be asked for forgiveness. My eyes are today opened. I thought I understood the Vedas; yet, it is only now that I begin to glimpse a whole other paradigm of understanding. I consider my new birth to commence from this day….Yes, you are my guru, please show me Krsna-prem.”

Prakasananda’s voice resonated with sincerity, like one not only humbled and chastened, but also saturated with the sweetness of bhakti. The others followed in the same mood.

It became immediately known in Benares, that Prakasananda and his followers, had been delivered by the young sannyasi, from Nadia, known as the Avatar of Krsna, and that they had all renounced impersonalism and accepted prem and bhakti. There was, of course, another rumour that he was Sri Krsna himself. Thus, crowds besieged the hut where Caitanya tried to conceal himself. He had agreed to stay in that big city providing his bhaktas could afford him some privacy. Yet, people congregated around him, despite all efforts to prevent them.

Upon the following day, there was talk among the Benares sannyasis about the new luminary. The ascetic, next in rank to Prakasananda, said: “The young mendicant’s visit is most auspicious. We have, hitherto, dissipated our energies. There’s nothing like bhakti to attract God. The sweet words of the visitor are still ringing in my ears. Let us worship Krsna.” And, he uttered a short prayer to the Supreme Deity, which was repeated by those present.

“Yes, you’re quite right,” agreed Prakasananda. “A rare being has opened our eyes. Let us now worship Krsna.” And, he uttered a similar short prayer. The sage was in a devotional mood. He had been a leader, a man forthright and bold by nature. He found himself suddenly stripped of all he possessed. All his ideas and notions, garnered from a lifetime of toil and austerity, exposed as half-truths—at best. “And did I study, fast, and sleep on bare ground for forty years for naught?” he sighed. He had, however, another reason to lament. He felt that he had been annihilated. Was he not the first holy man in India? Had he not reviled the young master? Had he not leveled the foulest epithets upon Krsna-Caitanya, the charlatan and the cheat? Had he not been persecuting him before the world these four years? To be crushed, publicly, by the same man before all his disciples—who had regarded him as one next only to God—was a devastating blow.

Yet, there was still a greater quandary, which beset him. He found that though the youngster had shamed him before the world, he could not entertain any feeling of vindictiveness towards him. The young mendicant had taken entire possession of his heart; a heart that had been trained to subdue and eradicate all tender sentiments; yet, the young spiritual revolutionary had softened it, and left the indelible imprint of his own image upon it. The sonorous voice of the golden Avatar still rang in his ears, and he fancied that he was yet talking to him. He remembered his gaze of childlike innocence—it seemed that he was gazing at him still.

This picture did not prove disagreeable in the least. On the contrary, it soothed his soul and gave him infinite pleasure. The sage, in spite of his asceticism, had been seized by purvarag (an irresistible attraction) towards the Lord. He would have run to him, and could have easily sold all that he possessed, even his soul, to secure the privilege of winning his company, but pride—a trace of which yet remained within his heart—restrained him. How could he now scurry to the Lord without making himself the laughingstock of Benares? He describes his condition in this sloka:

A stronger being than I, a fair-coloured thief, has forcibly stolen my faith, my understanding of the Vedas, the rules I followed, my prejudice against kirtan, poetry and drama, even the needs of nature. (Caitanya-candramrta)

For many days, after meeting the Lord, the sage felt that he was going mad. He talked to no one, thought of nothing but Gauranga—neglecting even food and sleep.

One morning, the Lord returning from his bath, paid his usual visit to the Temple of Bindu-Madhav; there he gazed upon a beautiful image of Krsna, and was at once entranced. He began to dance in ecstasy. The people trailing him watched in amazement as he flowed into motion, and immediately raised a shout of “Hari! Hari!”…which the sage heard.

Prakasananda had seen the Lord’s sinless and celestial face, his large, sensitive, eyes. He had heard the music of his sweet, dulcet tones; he had vicariously felt the wave of wonderment that passed through him when speaking of Krsna; yet, he had never witnessed this same lovely being in a state of rapture. “Here is a rare opportunity,” thought the sage—announcing his intentions to his followers—as he excitedly ran, to see Gaura in his ecstatic dance. Of course, his disciples followed. The crowd, seeing Prakasananda, parted, and thus he found himself before the Lord. Prakasananda describes what he saw:

I bow to the Prince of Masters, Sri Caitanya, who is endowed with a unique spirit; who dances with uplifted golden arms, an undulating body, and graceful feet, who ecstatically sings the joyous name of Hari, and who thus removes all evils from this world. (Caitanya-candramrta)

The Lord was oblivious, not only to the presence of the crowd, but also to Prakasananda. The dance utterly captivated him. Hitherto, he had considered Caitanya merely as the Prince of Masters; yet, now, he came to suspect that he was infinitely greater. He states:

I bow to the being whose eyes, like clouds, can rain incessant tears; who by his radiation of love can create disgust in the minds of the demi-gods, and who is graciously generating an ocean of nectar, for he is God embodied in the guise of a sannyasi. (Caitanya-candramrta)

Prakasananda believed that an incarnation of God was dancing before him. The current created by the Lord’s expression of infinite joy, touched him emotionally; those tender sentiments he had tried to eradicate from his heart, were not dead—merely dormant—now became vivified and gained ascendancy over him. Consequently, the sage found tears in his eyes—tears not shed for forty years. He found himself weeping—weeping in ecstasy!

“Oh joy! Oh joy!” he cried. He had long forgotten that there was joy upon this earth. A joy from sources, which he had tried to shut down with mighty efforts. Overwhelmed, he began to imitate the Lord in his dance. Not that he actually danced, but it seemed to those who watched, that the Lord had taken total possession of his body, and that the sage was helplessly following all the movements of the dancing figure before him. The tears that flowed from his eyes began to clarify his vision, then he saw that the dancing figure was no longer a sannyasi, but a gold-hued youth of exquisite beauty and indescribable grace.

The boisterous noise of the large crowd suddenly shook the Lord from his revelry, and he quickly returned to his mundane state.

He saw the sage standing before him, his face suffused with tears. Mahaprabhu, now, a bashful and timid youth, fell at his feet to be blessed.

Prakasananda was taken aback: “Don’t endanger my afterlife by your meekness—it has already been jeopardized. There is a sastric text that states, he who reviles God is forever damned. But, there is another text, which says that the touch of the lotus feet of God cures all evils. I reviled you, so I have destroyed my future prospects—let me touch your feet and save myself!” Saying this, he fell at the feet of the Lord, before the vast crowd.

Mahaprabhu, however, could not sanction this. He was then in his human persona. He, therefore, reminded the sage that to call a man God is blasphemy, and he—whose task it was to uphold such laws—should avoid committing it.

The sage replied: “I have known thee in my heart, which thou hast now completely occupied. Yet, if you choose to remain incognito for reasons of your own, still, as a bhakta of God, you are worthy of my reverence.”

The Lord quietly let the sage know that this matter should be deferred for a more private moment. Then returned to his hut.

There was, after this captivating performance, much commotion within the town. That night Prakasananda Saraswati came to the Lord. They managed to meet alone. The Lord embraced him. They both fell in a swoon, wrapped in each other’s arms. After awhile they rose. “Go to Vrndavan,” uttered the Heart-master. “That’s the place for you.”

“No, that cannot be, ” Prakasananda resisted. “Having withdrawn every tender feeling from the very heart that you have now reawakened, I’m deeply in love. I cannot live without you!”

Divine love is quite different from a wife’s usual feelings for her husband, or a mother’s for her child. When pure love appears in the heart, it subordinates all other emotions. It is similar to what an infatuated woman feels for her lover. Yet, her desire can never be true; for the object, is imperfect, and impure.

“You must go to Vrndavan,” soothed the Lord. “Go and spread the faith there, and save people. When you feel any pangs of separation, you shall see me in your, newly awakened, heart.”

The sage was deeply disappointed; yet, there was no remedy—he had been given the divine directive. He observed slowly: “If I can see you and feel your love within my heart, when it hankers for you, I shall, somehow, manage. Your joyous assurance, my Lord, reconciles me to my fate.”

“Then let your name be Prabodhananda (‘Prabodh’ means assurance, and ‘ananda’ means joy). Henceforth he was called Prabodhananda Saraswati.

Thus, Prabodhananda, early the following day, left Benares for Vrndavan—as the Lord left Benares for Puri. There Prabodhananda wrote several books, some of which are still in existence, such as, Caitanya-candramrta. In this book, he describes the beauty, the goodness, and the power of Gauranga, and his own affection for him—how he won his heart and occupied it. From some of his slokas the following song was composed: What have you done? You stole my heart, maddened me, and then left me! I was dignified, firm and strong; nothing could move or shake my resolve. What hast thou done? You have driven from my mind all fear of public opinion; all need for the dignity of position, and made me like a carefree child. Rent asunder are the ties that kept me chained to this world! Now, I am chained only to thee with ties of love.

Here is another of his slokas: I bow to Sri Gauranga who maddens people with the nectar of Krsna-prem, which leads them to dance, sing, and roll on the ground in ecstasy; even those who squandered their lives in sinful activities, having never performed one good deed, and having never met a saint, or visited a sacred place. (Caitanya-candramrta)

How does the Lord transform “iron into gold,” make virtuous people of fallen souls? Prabodhananda describes the process in this sloka:

I bow to the all-merciful master, Gauranga, whose mere touch, or sight, or grace is enough to fill one with ecstasy; who can confer the secrets of prem upon those who revere him in their hearts, even if far away. (Caitanya-candramrta)

In his first encounter with Gauranga, the sage was publicly humbled before his followers. When this was done, he began to discern truth. The second stage is marked by a struggle between the truth, and his own vanity; the former triumphantly entered, and expelled the latter. The third stage was to feel both veneration and attraction for the Lord, as a devoted disciple should. His fourth stage entitled him to the knowledge that Gauranga, whom he had presumed to be a mere master, was even higher than that, being an incarnation of God in the guise of a mendicant. And, Prabodhananda’s fifth stage was to fall completely and utterly in love!

Such was the power possessed by the golden Heart-master; thus, even his most influential and learned antagonists came to love, worship, and adore him.

Ch. 36

The Lord had promised his mother that he would visit. Also, the rules of sannyas obliged him to take final leave of his hometown. The Lord, therefore, started for Nadia five years after his renunciation, along with his retinue of Puri ascetics. Sarvabhauma was allowed to accompany him for a few days, and then he was persuaded to go home. He returned weeping. Ramananda followed in a conveyance, not having the strength to walk. In all, more than a hundred accompanied him. They passed through the capital, Katak, where the king lived. There the Lord, after breaking his fast, rested under a banyan tree, when the king approached; he was royally attired, with an entourage of ministers and a military escort. He prostrated himself before Gauranga—his golden crown touching the Lord’s lotus feet—who raised him and embraced him.

Upon reaching Bengal, the Lord found himself surrounded by a sea of faces. He disembarked at Panihati—near Calcutta. From there, till he reached Nadia, he found himself constantly swamped by people—crowds beyond computation.

For seven days he communed, upon the opposite bank of the Ganges from Nadia, in the town of Kulia.

He then crossed the river and disembarked at his boyhood bathing ghat. A multitude of people quietly followed him. They all remembered the days when he sported as a restless youth, and flourished as a debonair, young savant; now he was a sane and sober saint, in the garb of a mendicant.

He stood before his own front gate. His mother Saci came out to greet him, and he prostrated himself before her, though this was unlawful. Visnupriya was inside—she had no right to appear. Yet, surely enough, a veiled lady approached the Lord, and fell prostrate before him. The Lord retreated a step or two. The young lady said softly: “Thou hast, my Lord, saved the world—is thy servant alone to remain forsaken?”

A shade of sorrow passed across his divine face. “Serve Krsna,” he uttered meekly.

“Leave me some token, that I may soothe my heart by it.”

“You see I have nothing.”

“Leave me thy sandals.”

The Lord left them.

The lady took them reverentially, and placed them upon her head.

 That was their last meeting.  The sandals are now worshipped.

This is merely a small gem of truth found within the vast wilderness of material entrapment. Real advancement can only be made with the guidance of a living Vaisnava Guru; the gardener of our hearts, who plants and nurtures the seed of bhakti that we might blossom in the soil of deepest devotion to the Supreme Lover.

Page last modified on April 01, 2010, at 04:56 PM