Sree Prataparudradeva I

As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj



SREE Prataparudradeva was reigning in Orissa at the time when, in 1510 A.D., Sree Krishna Chaitanya, then in His twenty-fifth year came to Puri immediately after His acceptance of Sannyas (renunciation). On His arrival at Puri Sree Chaitanya met Vasudeva Sarbabhauma, the greatest Vedantic scholar of that time, to whom He was pleased to reveal His Divine Personality. Sree Chaitanya then set out on His pilgrimage to South India.

These wonderful tidings soon reached the ears of King Prataparudra who thereupon summoned Vasudeva Sarbabhauma to the royal presence at Cuttack in order to receive from him definite and authentic information regarding Sree Chaitanya.

The meeting of King Prataparudra with Vasudeva Sarbabhauma is thus described in Sree Chaitanya-charitamrita. "The King after making his obesience to Sarbabhauma offered him a seat as his respected guest. He then questioned him about Mahaprabhu. "I hear that a great person has come to your house from Gauda, who is very merciful. All persons say that he has been very merciful to you. Be so kind as to enable me to have a sight of him". Bhatta said, "All that you have heard is true. But it is not possible for you to see him. He is a sannyasin living in seclusion. He never sees a king even in his dream. Yet I might have made you see him by some means or other. But He has recently gone to the South". The King said, "Why did he go away from Jagannath"? Bhatta replied, "This is one kind of the transcendental activity practiced by the saints. They journey to the tirthas in order to sanctify them and to deliver worldly persons under such pretext. So says Sreemad Bhagavatam, "The highest devotees like yourself are themselves the real tirthas. They sanctify the tirthas polluted by the sins of worldly people, by the purifying power of Godhead Who ever dwells in their hearts". Such is the invariable nature of the Vaishnavas. But Sree Chaitanya is not a jiva (individual soul), but Absolute Godhead Himself" The King said, “How could you then agree to let him go? Why did you not try to make him stay by falling at His Feet?" Bhattacharyya said, "He is Godhead Himself and His Own Master, the same as Sree Krishna. He is not to be controlled by any other person. But yet I tried my best to make Him stay. I did not succeed, as Godhead is His own Master". The King said, "Bhatta, you are the greatest among the learned. I believe it to be true that He is Krishna, as you say so. If He happens to come to this side again I would like to see Him once to bless my eyes". Bhattacharyya said, "He will come back before long, we shall have to provide a place for His residence which must be a secluded one. Could you let me have for this purpose a suitable place close to Jagannath and yet solitary?" The King said, "Exactly such is the house of Kashi Mishra. It is close to Jagannath and is extremely secluded."

After this conversation King Prataparudra waited for the return of Sree Chaitanya from the South in a state of great suspense. Sree Chaitanya met Rai Ramananda on the bank of the Godavari. Rai Ramananda was the Governor of King Prataparudra in charge of the Godavari Province. Rai Ramananda received the Mercy of the Lord and was very anxious to accompany Him. But Sree Chaitanya bade him wait for His return from the South. On His return journey the Lord again met Rai Ramananda and commanded him to join Him at Puri, giving up the service of the King. Rai Ramananda accordingly came up to Cuttack for obtaining the necessary permission of the King for laying down his office.

Meanwhile the Lord returned to Puri by way of Alalnath. At the very first opportunity Sarbabhauma laid the case of the King before the Lord. Let me quote again the words of Sree Chaitanya-charitamrita. "One day Sarbabhauma said to the Lord, I wish to make submission touching a certain matter, if the Lord says that I may do so without fear". The Lord said, "Speak on and have no fear. I shall do as you say if it is proper, but not if it is otherwise". Sarbabhauma said, "King Prataparudra is in a state of great anxiety. He wishes to meet Yourself". The Lord puts His hand to His ears and recited the Name of Narayana, "How, indeed, could Sarbabhauma make such an improper proposal? I am a recluse Sannyasin. For Me to see the King is like seeing a woman, that is like swallowing poison. For a person, who has set his face towards the service of Godhead being desirous of having nothing on his own account and hoping to get across the Ocean of this mundane world, to meet a worldly person or a woman is far, far worse alas! than even the swallowing of poison". Sarbabhauma said, "What You say is true. But the King is servant of Jagannath and a devotee of the highest order". The Lord said, yet the King has the form of the deadly serpent. One's mind is polluted by the touch of a female form made of wood. 'Just at the sight of the serpent or its form causes mental perturbation, the very sight of the form of the female or of the worldly person is a cause for alarm.' Let not such a proposal come out of your lips again. If you say so again you will see Me no more at this place ". Sarbabhauma was struck with a great fear and returned home in a state of great anxiety."

Meanwhile Rai Ramananda had returned to Cuttack and from there he now came to Puri in the train of King Prataparudra. Rai at once made his way to the Lord. The meeting is thus described in Sree Chaitanya Charitamrita. "The Rai made his obeisance and the Lord at once clasped him in His embrace. Both began to cry under the influence of love. On beholding such affectionate conduct of the Lord towards Rai the minds of all the devotees were filled with exquisite wonder. Rai said, "I told the King of Your command. By reason of Your command the King at once freed me from the concerns of this world. I said, ‘I am unable to perform any worldly work. If you are pleased to order I would like to stay at the Feet of Chaitanya.’ On hearing Your Name the King was very much pleased. He at once rose from his seat and embraced me. At the very Sound of Your Name he was over powered with great love and taking me by the hand, gave expression to his extra-ordinary affection. "The salary that you receive remains yours. Serve the Feet of Chaitanya, being free from all anxiety. I indeed, am most vile, unfit to have the sight of Him. He who serves Him attains the only object of life. He is supremely Merciful. He is the Son of the Chief of Braja. He will surely show Himself to me in some other birth". Indeed, I have not a particle of the intense longing of love for You that I found in the King".

The Lord said, "You are the premier devotee of Krishna. He, indeed, is most fortunate who loves you. Krishna will accept the King for His goodness in loving you. 'O Partha, those are not my devotees who are devoted to Me. Those are my best devotees who are attached to My devotees'. Esteeming My service, prostrations to Me with all limbs, to worship My devotee with greater honour than myself, to realize the quality of My devotee in every entity, to employ all limbs for Myself, to speak My Praise with the voice, to surrender the mind to Me and to give up all lust, these are the characteristic of My devotee'. 'Devi, the worship of Vishnu is superior to that of all entities. The worship of His devotees is superior to His worship'. 'The service of those servants of Krishna walking in the path of the Absolute on which the God of gods Janardana is sang eternally is not attainable to persons who have not practiced sufficient self-denying activities".

On his arrival at Puri the King immediately sent for Sarbabhauma. After making his obeisance to Sarbabhauma he put the question, 'Did you make the submission on my behalf at the Feet of the Lord?' Sarbabhauma replied, “I tried my best. Yet he refused to see the King. He will leave Puri if I make the request again.” On hearing this, the mind of the King was filled with the deepest dejection as he spoke to this effect. "He has appeared in this world for the purpose of delivering the vile sinner. He has saved Jagai and Madhai. He has come to save the whole world, with the exception of Prataparudra. ‘He will cast His glance of Mercy on those belonging to the lowest caste who are unseeable and yet, alas! Will not see me. Did He then appear with the resolve of showing His Mercy by leaving out only myself?' It is His Resolve that He will never see me. It is my determination to give up life deprived of His Mercy. What is the worth of kingdom and body if I do not obtain the treasure of the Mercy of the Supreme Lord? These are all in vain".

On hearing the words of the King Sarbabhauma reflected within himself. He was astonished to find the vehement attachment of the King for the Lord. Bhattacharyya said, "Honoured one, cherish no sorrow. The Lord will certainly be merciful to you, He submits to love. Your love is profound. He will certainly have mercy on you. I suggest this method. This will enable you to obtain the sight of the Lord. On the Car-festival day the Lord in the company of all His devotees will dance in front of the Car, all absorbed in love for Jagannath. He will then proceed to the flower garden, being still under the influence of love. At the moment the Lord enters the garden divesting yourself of the royal dress, unattended by any one, you should go there alone, and reciting aloud the section of the five chapters of the Bhagabatam treating of the circular amorous dance of Krishna in the company of the milkmaids, and going forward in that manner, take hold of the Feet of the Supreme Lord. Being without external consciousness at the time on hearing the Name of Krishna, He will embrace you, supposing you to be a Vaishnava. The Lord's attitude to you has undergone a change today due to Ramananda Rai who related to the Lord your loving quality".

On hearing these words, 'the Lord of elephants' experienced great happiness in his mind and made up his mind to meet the Lord in the manner suggested by Sarbabhauma. He asked Bhatta when the festival of the Snanayatra was to take place. Bhatta replied that the festival would come off after three days. Bhatta then consoled the King bidding him to have no anxiety and left the royal presence after the King had been a little composed.

Then the festival of Snanayatra duly arrived. The Lord evinced great delight on witnessing the function. He was very much saddened on missing the sight of Jagannath during the period of Anabasar. Feeling the weight of His sorrow in the mood of the milk-maids of Braja the Lord betook himself to the seclusion of Alalnath, giving up for the nonce the society of all His companions. The devotees subsequently followed the Lord to Alalnath and communicated to Him the information that the devotees from Gauda were on their way to Puri to meet Him. Sarbabhauma accompanied the Lord on His return journey to Puri from Alalnath.

Sarbabhauma at once hurried to the King to inform him of the return of the Lord. While he was still in the royal presence Gopinathacharyya came to him and after blessing in the customary form, said, "I have come to you Bhattacharyya, to inform you that two hundred Vaishnavas are coming to Puri from Gauda. They are all of them devotees of the Supreme Lord and great Bhagavatas. They have already arrived at the Narendra Tank. We have to arrange for their residence and prasadam." Gopinathacharyya was the brother-in-law of Sababhauma Bhattacharyya.

The King said, "I will order the Padichha (the officer in charge). He will provide residence and all other necessaries. Bhattacharyya do me the favour of showing me one by one all the devotees of Mahaprabhu, who are coming from Gauda". Bhattacharyya proposed that the King might for the purpose ascend the terrace of the Palace. 'Gopinath knows them all. He will point them out. I do not myself know any of them. I have a great mind to know them. Gopinathacharyya will acquaint us with all of them'.

After the above conversation all three mounted the terrace of the King's Palace. Just then the party of the Vaishnavas came within sight. Damodar Swarup and Govinda were carrying the prasadi garlands towards the palace. Mahaprabhu had sent forward these two for meeting the Vaishnavas. The King asked, "Tell me, who are these two?" Bhattacharyya said, "This one is Swarup Damodar. He is the second body of Mahaprabhu. The second person is Mahaprabhu's attendant Govinda. The Lord has sent the garlands in token of His regard for the Vaishnavas, by the hands of these two".

Swarup was the first to place the garlands round the neck of Advaita. Govinda then offered him his garlands also. Then Govinda made prostrated obeisance to Acharyya. Acharyya did not know him and enquired of Swarup. Damodar said, "His name is Govinda. He is the servant of Iswara Puri and full of every good quality. Puri commanded him to serve the Lord. For that reason the Lord keeps him with Himself". The King asked, "Who is the person to whom the two offered the garlands? He is a person possessing extraordinary force of commanding energy, a great saint". Acharyya replied, "His name is Advaita Acharyya. He is a person who is respected by Mahaprabhu and by all. That other person is Sribas Pandit. That is Pandit Bakreswar. Vidyanidhi Acharyya. Pandit Gadadhar. Chandrasekhar Acharyya. Pandit Purandar. Gangadas Pandit. Pandit Sankar. Murari Gupta. Pandit Narayana. Thakur Haridas, saviour of the world. Hari Bhatta. Sree Nrisimhananda. Vasudeb Datta. Sivananda Sen. Govinda Ghosh, Madhab Ghosh, Basu Ghosh, three brothers whose Kirtana pleases the Lord. Raghab Pandit. Nandan Acharyya. Sriman Pandit Srikanta. Narayana. Suklambar. Sridhar. Bijya. Ballabha Sen. Purusottam. Sanjaya. This is Satyaraj Khan of Kulingram. Kamananda. Mukunda Das. Narahari, Sree Raghunandan. Chiranjib of Khanda. Sulochan. It is not practicable to point out every one. All whom you behold are the associates of Chaitanya. Their life is Chaitanya."

The King said, "I am filled with a sense of inexpressible wonder by the sight of them. I have never before beheld such an exhibition of the power and glory of Vaishnavas. All of them are of a hue as bright as that of crores of Suns. I have never before seen this exquisitely mellow Kirtana, such love, such dance, such sound of the Name of Hari. Nothing at all like this I have ever seen before; nor have ever heard of it from anybody". Said Bhattacharyya, "This sweet vocal performance is the creation of Chaitanya,-this loving congregational chant of Hari. Manifesting His Appearance in this world, Chaitanya has promulgated this universal function of all souls. The Religion of Kali Age is the congregational chant of the Name of Krishna. He who worships Him by the sacrifice of the Name is alone possessed of goodness of judgment; all others are the misguided victims of Kali." (In the Kali Age) all persons possessed of good judgment worship by the method of sacrifice of the congregational chant the great the One in whose mouth they dwell constantly the two letters 'Kri and Shna', Whose hue is non-Krishna (or yellow) and who is encompassed with His Limbs, Ornaments, Weapons and Associates'.

The King observed, "Chaitanya is Krishna by the testimony of the Sastras. But why are the Pandits averse to Him?" Said Bhatta, "One who receives the least particle of His Mercy, can alone accept Him as Krishna. One who does not receive His Mercy, though he is well-versed in the Shastras, does not recognize Him as Godhead even by actually seeing and hearing Him. 'Yet, O Bhagavan, one who is graced by the least particle of the Mercy of Thy twin Lotus Feet becomes cognizant of the truth of the Glory of Godhead, and none other can know even if he engaged on the quest for eternity"

(To be continued)