THE APPEARANCE OF SRI GAURASUNDAR
by Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaja. Originally published in The Guardian of Devotion (1986) by Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math.
Within the sacred land of India, the Holy Footprints of the Lord and His devotees are a place of pilgrimage for the whole world. The seven auspicious places in India which are said to award liberation, are all found within those footprints. Among those holy places is Sri Måyåpur which is situated in Sri Nabadwip Dhåm. It is non-different from Mathurå Mandal. Srila Vrndåvan Dås Thåkur has written, “There is no other village in the world like Sri Nabadwip, where Lord Chaitanya Gosåi has descended.” Truly Sri Nabadwip Dhåm is the best of all, and there is no other place like it, since the most magnanimous mercy-personified Sri Gaura Hari appeared in this part of the world. He indiscriminately distributed to all persons, whether they were qualified or unqualified, the highest perfection of love of God which is difficult for even the demigods to obtain. He has so generously distributed this highest gift even to the most fallen. Therefore Sri Nabadwip is incomparable in the world.
Center Of Learning Nearly 500 years ago Sri Nabadwip city was renowned throughout the world as the center of learning and knowledge. The science of logic which was brought from Mithila, was cultured by the intelligentsia of Sri Nabadwip, and its fame was spread all over the world. From Benares in Northern India, and from many other places sannyasis and the class of professors who were well read in Nyåya and Vedånta all came to Nabadwip for learning. From Kanchi in Southern India, and other places too, many students desirous of becoming well educated, all came to Sri Nabadwip. “Persons from different places all go to Nabadwip, for one who studies in Nabadwip he gets the taste for knowledge. No wonder there were hundreds of thousands of students and professors there.” ( Chaitanya Bhågavata ). Truly speaking, “Even a boy can argue with a Bhattåchårya,” if he studied at Nabadwip. Everyone considered himself a great scholar if he studied there. And there was no chance of getting recognition from the scholarly community if one did not study or teach in Sri Nabadwip.
Glories Of Sri Nabadwip- Nabadwip was noted for its opulence which, by the grace of Sri Lakshmi devi, were shared by all the people there. On one bank of the Ganges, the greatest place of all learning, the most sacred Sri Måyåpur was situated. Many wealthy persons from different parts of the world all came to settle there. Srila Vrndåvan Dås Thåkur writes “Who can describe the opulence of Sri Nabadwip? Thousands of people go to take bath there, because Lakshmi devi glances over that place. Everyone lives there in great happiness. The Lord, knowing He would appear there, had arranged everything very nicely for His descent.” The whole atmosphere was surcharged with auspiciousness, with many wealthy and learned persons coming from distant places to reside there in that holy place of pilgrimage and seat of learning. There is no need in mentioning the glories associated with such a place.
The Age Of Ritualism- But the pain within the hearts of the pure devotees knew no bounds. In the midst of all this grandeur and beauty they could see that everyone was simply wasting their valuable time in pursuing materialistic objectives. Seeing this how could they be happy? Everyone was simply mad for wealth, mad for physical beauty, mad for acquiring followers, mad for knowledge and intoxicated with the empiric speculations of materialistic science. Their mad attempt for profit, adoration and distinction looked like a frenzied dance, and in the midst of such things the devotees were perplexed. How to save them? Running madly after the flickering happiness of this world, the conditioned soul judges everything from the point of view of sense gratification, and uselessly waste their time with futile talks within that plane of existence. These things are all intolerable for the devotees.
Srila Vrndavan Dås Thåkur writes, “The whole world is devoid of real love for Råma and Krsna. As was predicted in the scriptures for Kaliyuga, people only know about ritualistic ceremonies. They stay up the whole night singing the glories of some demigod. Some of them proudly worship Visahari, who removes the effect of snake poison. Others set up idols and worship them with great wealth. They spend money lavishly on their sons and daughters. Like this, everyone simply wastes their time. They never care to engage in Krishna kirtan which is the yuga-dharmma , our only religious practice for this age. They prefer to speak ill of others rather than say good things about them. Even from those who are puffed up with their detachment and renunciation, we never hear the chanting of the holy names from their lips. Some others think that the time of bathing is the only auspicious moment for chanting the names Govinda and Pundarikaksa. Those who recite the Bhågavatam for the education of the people, do not have the devotional serving mood in their tongue.
Thus the Lord’s energy produces the worldly illusion. This causes the devotee’s unhappiness to increase without limit. Seeing the whole world devoid of Krishna bhakti their hearts are burning within. Some of them feel such intense pain that they want to leave their bodies. Others simply sigh and produce the name Krishna in their exhaling. Their food no longer tastes good in their mouths. When they see the activities of this material world they become exceedingly unhappy.”
Sri Advaita’s Promise - Sri Advaita Ächaryya was glorified by everyone, even among the society of non-devotees as he was representative of all the Vaisnavas . Sri Advaita Prabhu was residing in Måyåpur and for the welfare of the world was engaged in worshipping the Lord and preaching His glories. The miserable condition of the living entities who were all forgetful of Krishna was giving pain to his heart. He would arrange daily meetings for the devotees at which they would all express grief and profusely shed tears over the dreadful world situation. The Ächarya, who was an ocean of mercy, found the miserable condition of the living entities to be unbearable and He decided resolutely within himself, that He would call the Lord, Himself, to descend and save the situation. “I will meet Vaikunthanath and bring Him here. Dancing and singing I will deliver all living entities.” The glories of Advaita Ächarya were not unknown to the devotees. All were pleased by hearing the promise of Advaita Ächarya and they all engaged in His service having full faith in Him.
Sri Nityånanda’s Appearance - With this promise fixed in His mind, Sri Advaita Ächaryya meditated on offering Ganges water and Tulasi leaf to the Lord constantly calling to Goloka Vihari again and again. The Lord’s throne was shaking. The devotees, who were also engaged in calling the Lord, abstained from all comforts and material enjoyment, and to relieve the devotee’s unhappiness the all-merciful Lord prepared to descend to this world. Needless to say, when the Lord descends He comes with all His Paraphernalia and Associates, therefore before the Lord’s descent the all auspicious Nityånanda Prabhu, who appeared in Råàhadeßa , came first to make all the necessary preparations to receive the Lord .
Måyåpur: SriJagannåth Mißra’s Home -
Sri Måyåpur is the center of Nabadwip Dhåm and is called Antardwipa. Jagannath Mißra lived at this place, Antardwipa. He was a vastly learned and generous person and the resort of the purest souls. Srila Vrndåvan Dås Thåkur has written, “Nabadwip is the place of residence of Jagannath Misra. He was as devoted to his religious duties as Våsudeva Himself. His magnanimous character was as unlimited as Brahman. No one could compare with him. Formerly he was Kasyapa, Dasaratha, Våsudeva and Nanda Mahåråaj, and now, as Jagannåth Misra, was the combination of them all. His wife, named Sachi devi, was completely devoted to her husband. She was the emblem of Krishna abhakti and the mother of the whole world.”
Transcendental Ray This very pure, divine couple tragically lost eight daughters, but after that they begot a son named Vishvarupa who had uncommonly beautiful features. They always worshipped the Lord in great transcendental ecstasy. Day by day Vishvarupa, who always satisfied his father and mother, grew like the bright half of the waxing moon. This dark world got the strength of the auspicious planets. In 1406 çaka there was a special day because Sri Jagannåth Misra saw a brilliant transcendental ray make its way into his heart, and again from his heart it entered into the heart of Sri Sachi devi. Feeling thrilled, Misra was overwhelmed with joy, and from that day Sachi devi became transformed into a wonderful embodiment of that transcendental ray. Misra told Sachi devi all these things he had observed, and when Sachi devi confirmed that she had also experienced the same things, it only caused Misradeva to increase his wonder - “I see in the sky as if many heavenly beings are making hymns in praise of me. The whole atmosphere has become delightful with many enlightened persons coming and going from this place.” Noticing all these things, Misra said with joy, “From these things I can understand that a great personality will be born.” With great attention this Divine Couple was always performing Vishnu worship.
Where Did They All Come From? On 1407 sakabda , Phalgun , full moon day, at evening time, the Lord Sri Gaurachandra was born. On this pleasant spring evening, the day of the full moon, there was also a lunar eclipse. The banks of the Ganges and the roads of the city leading to the Ganges were all filled with throngs of people – very thick crowd – and all were struggling along the way. Seeing this great crowd of people, one felt as if the whole universe had come here leaving the rest of the fourteen worlds vacant. Everyone was filled with ecstatic bliss. The sound of Hari filled up and resounded throughout the fourteen worlds. It was as if all the auspicious signs of the universe were rising at the same time, the splendor of Nabadwip was so brilliant. An unprecedented vibration of the name of Hari resounded from the many devotees gathered on the bank of the Ganges. The flood of Harinåma made all inauspicious signs disappear on this occasion of the lunar eclipse, and instead brought boundless joy to everyone. As they stood on the banks of the Ganges, everyone was thinking, “Where did so many people come from? Previously there were so many eclipses, but so many persons, and such a great vibration of the sound of Hari, we have never seen or heard any thing like this before, and we are all overwhelmed with joy!” They were all filled with intense happiness but they could not understand the cause. This was going on, and all without exception were feeling very good. Even fallen persons were laughing in the company of the Hindus, relishing the chanting of Hari, Hari . “There was pleasure in all ten directions, and even the river water was feeling pleased.” It was a very favorable evening indeed, “Lion råsi, Lion lagna , highly placed planets, the six planets, the eight signs – all auspicious signs were visible.” Everyone was well dressed and decorated for the Lord’s appearance and singing songs. “At that time, the life of the whole world, Lord Sri Sachinandana, appeared.”
The Spotless Moon Appears - In Sri Jagannåth Misra’s house, there was no limit to the joyful atmosphere found inSri Sachi Devis room. The whole world was inundated by the flood of Harinåma, as the spotless full moon appeared today. And that is why the moon in the sky covered his face out of shyness (in the lunar eclipse). Why shouldn’t he cover his face? The moons on his toenails give such a brilliant, merciful light that they outshine millions of moons, and it is that same Gaurachandra who appeared today. Everywhere, on all sides flowers were raining from the sky. The sounds of millions of conch shells, beating drums, and dancing of Divine Personalities all began at that time. The whole earth resounded with “ Jaya Jaya ,” and the entire universe became liberated. The news of the appearance of Gaura Hari was thus announced. The devotees directly felt within themselves full satisfaction. The sweet sounds of the conch, bells, mridanga , and karatålas became sweeter still when mixed with the chorus of, “Jaya Sachinandana, Jaya Gaura Hari.’’
Only The Fortunate Can See Everything connected with Gaura Hari is eternal. His Name, Form, Qualities, Pastimes, Associates, Paraphernalia, etc. are all eternal. His appearance is eternal. For those fortunate persons who are pure in heart, the eternal Lord resides in their hearts always. These things cannot be understood by our tiny brains. So the Lord is acintya-bhedåbheda appearing in the form of Ächåryadev as the highest conclusion of this principle. Only by the grace of sådhu and guru are we able to know the glory of Sri Chaitanyadeva who is the eternally pure, fully liberated Ultimate Reality. At that time, those fortunate persons who have received the mercy of the sådhus can understand that Gaurachandra appears as Sri Krishna in the mood of Rådhårani. They feel great ecstasy within their hearts and they are able to understand, “Today also Gaurånga Råya was performing His pastimes and only a few fortunate persons were able to see.”