After taking sannyāsa, Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to Śrī Jagannātha Purī. In the Gauḍīya-sampradāya, sannyāsa means accepting gopī-bhāva and the shelter of the vraja-gopīs. Why then did Mahāprabhu not go to Vṛndāvana? This is an important question.
Most people think that Jagannātha Kṣetra is Dvārakā Purī or Vaikuṇṭha. This same Jagannātha Purī (Jagannātha Kṣetra) is known as Nīlāñcala or Nīlācala. Nīlā means blue, and the extra part of a sārī that women wear over their heads is known as āṅcala. Who is She whose āṅcala is blue? She is Śrīmatī Rādhārānī. Jagannātha has taken shelter under Rādhārānī’s blue āṅcala. This is the confidential purport of Jagannātha’s residence in Nīlācala.
Jagannātha left Dvārakā and His 16,108 queens, thinking, “I will go to Nīlācala. I will seek refuge under Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s āṅcala. She will take care of Me. No one else takes care of me.”
Kṛṣṇa was not happy in Dvārakā. “My queens are always fighting and stealing everything I have.” He thought. “They each have ten sons and one daughter and each of those sons and daughters have ten sons of their own. None of them however, have a soft heart. They are all interested in their own opulence and comfort. They like Me and they respect Me, but they are attached to their family.”
Then one day, Kṛṣṇa, along with Baladeva Prabhu and His sister Subhadrā-devī, heard Rohiṇī Mātā glorify the Vraja-devīs. The Vraja-devīs were always in Kṛṣṇa’s thoughts, but till now He had not received the chance to hear about them.
Rohiṇī Mātā was speaking vraja-kathā to Kṛṣṇa’s queens, her heart overflowing with love. “She is speaking about the Vraja-devīs?”
Kṛṣṇa thought. “I will also hear.” But when this kathā entered Kṛṣṇa’s ears His body melted. Baladeva Prabhu and Subhadrā, who were also listening with Kṛṣṇa from outside the room, also melted. They now wondered where to go.
“Where will I stay now?” Kṛṣṇa thought. “I cannot stay in Dvārakā anymore. Here no one has vraja-bhāva; nobody likes the Vraja-devīs. Everyone has health and wealth and they are proud of their opulence. They have no humility. They are selfish and have no service tendency.”
People who think they are great must consider what the real meaning of greatness is. If you serve everyone, you are great. If you have no service tendency then you cannot be called great. Then you are a stone or a mountain. Even mountains can be very helpful for others.
The Himālayas produce many herbs, medicines, and water that bring benefit to all beings. I may have collected what I think is a vast amount of good qualities and opulence’s, but if I do not help others then I am more useless than a huge lump of rock.
“I can’t stay here more,” Kṛṣṇa decided. His eyes, hands, legs, nose and ears, having drunk the powerful nectar of the Vrajavāsī’s glories, were swept away to Vṛndāvana. Now Kṛṣṇa had nothing. Hearing Rohiṇī Mātā words with His ears, His legs ran to Vṛndāvana. His nose went to smell the foot dust of the Vrajavāsīs and His hands went to serve them. Now He was left in Dvārakā with only His middle portion—a tree trunk-like structure.
Then Kṛṣṇa left Dvārakā and went to Nīlāṅcala. There is no disturbance or unhappiness there. Now He was not known as Dvārakādīṣa, Mathurādīṣa, nor Kṛṣṇa. If He kept these names, He would be found and brought back to Dvārakā. He was now Jagannātha.
Jagannātha desired to go to a place where He could perform austerity to call Rādhārānī. Once She came She could take care of Him and take Him back to Vṛndāvana.
With this as His purpose He left Dvārakā. But He did not go alone. Baladeva Prabhu said, “I am coming also. I too can stay here no longer.”
Subhadrā said, “I will not stay here alone. I will also come with You.” Thus, the two brothers and their sister came to Nīlāṅcala-dhāma.
Lakṣmī, Rukmiṇī or Satyabhāmā, did not go—only Jagannātha, Baladeva and Subhadrā.
Commonly, no one calls Jagannātha Purī “Dvārakā Purī”. It is renowned as Nīlācala. It is the place of Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s shelter. Śrīmatī has covered that area with her own āṅcala. Anyone who comes has a chance to receive gopī-bhāva and vraja-bhāva.
Another name for Jagannātha Purī is Kṣetra-maṇḍala. Kṣetra means field or farmland. What is it that grows on this farmland?
nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayaṁ
muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ
O expert and thoughtful men, just drink the nectar of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of the Vedas. Although this nectarean fruit was already relishable by all souls, it has become even more tasteful, having come from the lips of Śukadeva Gosvāmī.
The harvest of Kṣetra-maṇḍala is rasa. It is for this reason that Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to Jagannātha Purī after taking sannyāsa.
Mahāprabhu called to His dear associates, “He Rāmānanda Rāya!
He Svarūpa Dāmodara! He Haridāsa Ṭhākura! He Gadādhara Paṇḍa! Do not go here and there. Come with me to this special place.”
He gathered these great personalities and gave them each a kuñja-kuṭīra to stay in. Mahāprabhu Himself stayed in the Gambhīrā at Kāśī Miśra’s home. Haridāsa Ṭhākura stayed at Siddha Bakula, and Gadādhara Paṇḍa stayed at Ṭoṭā Gopinātha. Rāmānanda Rāya, Svarūpa Dāmodara and the rest, all stayed in their different places in Jagannātha Purī.
Practice the activities of bhakti in Jagannātha Purī, like waking early, attending maṅgala-āratī, bathing in the ocean and hearing hari-kathā—as Mahāprabhu did Himself— then gradually the heart will become
a playing place of God and no longer a place of garbage and bacteria.
Caitanya-candra said that darśana of Jagannātha and attendance in His ārati, where fire is offered to His divine form, will cause the fire of material desire that is present in the conditioned soul to go out. That fire of ārati will purify the heart and make it a pure area. What will fill that area? Mahāprabhu explains that this purified condition, coupled with the chanting of the mahā-mantra in entreaty to Śrīmatī Rādhārānī, will bring about Her bestowal of mercy and the appearance of nitya-līlā in the heart.
Then one can go Vṛndāvana. Before this the jīva is raw and unable to be of any service in Vṛndāvana. It is necessary to first make the heart a pure center for Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s play. If we are properly trained, then we can offer our service, otherwise there will be a problem. If a person wants to work for a large company but has no qualification, then how will this be possible?
Therefore, Caitanya Mahāprabhu referred to Jagannātha Purī as a training center. Without going to Jagannātha Purī, realization cannot be attained.
Prabhupāda Sarasvatī Ṭhākura appeared in Jagannātha Purī, and Bhaktinoda Ṭhākura started his mission from here. All of our ācāryas after them following in their line have also spent time there.
Before, Śrīla Gurudeva would visit Purī and stay for two or three months at a time. Often he was joined by my Guru Mahārāja—
Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Aṣṭottaraśata Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Vāmana Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Oṁ Viṣṇupada Aṣṭottaraśata Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Trivikrama Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Pūjyapāda Bhaktikumuda Santa Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Pūjyapāda Bhaktipramoda Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, Pūjyapāda Bhaktidayita Mādhava Gosvāmī Mahārāja and other gauḍīya-ācāryas have a nice center in Jagannātha Purī. They know the importance of this dhāma.
Without hearing from and receiving guidance of an ācārya, no one can understand the glories of Jagannātha Purī. The dhāma is not a place for sense enjoyment. To obtain the real fruit of residing in the dhāma, austerity is necessary. Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī is the example of this. He stayed in Jagannātha Purī, taking the old rice from the drain of the Jagannātha temple. He would wash it, eat it with great faith and in this way maintain his life. After this he was given a place at Rādhā-kuṇḍa by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is an eternal associate of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and present in Their eternal pastimes, but for the benefit of all the jīvas he performed exemplary sādhana in Jagannātha Purī.
One time, Mahāprabhu disappeared from the Gambhīrā and the house of Kāśī Miśra. Seven gates separated Mahāprabhu and the outside of the house. Govinda Prabhu was sleeping in the small entrance to the Gambhīrā but somehow the Lord passed by without being noticed.
No one could find Him. Weeping in separation, Rāmānanda Rāya, Svarūpa Dāmodara and other devotees searched for Him everywhere. They went to all surrounding temples. They looked in the Guṇḍīcā Temple, at Candana-sarovara, on the bank of the ocean and at Svarga-dvāra but still could not find Him. They finally came to Cakra-tīrtha, where our Śrīla Gurudeva’s Jayaśrī Dāmodara Gauḍīya-maṭha stands today. There they met a fisherman who was shivering and running about shouting loudly. Svarūpa Dāmodara asked the fisherman, “What is the problem?”
“Don’t go that way,” said the fisherman, pointing a short distance down the beach.
“There is a ghost there. He haunts me!”
“You have been possessed by a ghost?” Svarūpa Dāmodara asked.
“Yes, a very big ghost.”
“What exactly happened?”
“I was fishing and then the ghost came in my net. It had an indiscernible body. It looked almost like a jellyfish. Alas! I touched the ghost and now I am so disturbed. He has entered inside me and now
I can’t stop saying ‘Hari, Hari!’ ”
Svarūpa Dāmodara understood who the fisherman had really caught. “Don’t worry,” he said to the fisherman, “I know a process that will send the ghost from your body.” Then Svarūpa Dāmodara gave the fisherman a strong slap on each cheek, followed by two more.
“The ghost has left your body,” Svarūpa Dāmodara said. “Now, tell me where you found him.”
“No, no. I will not go back there. He will catch me again. If you walk a little down the beach you will see my net. He is still there.”
When the devotees found Mahāprabhu they gathered around Him in great worry. A piece of cotton was held to His nose but no sign of breath could be seen. Then they started loud nāma-saṅkīrtana. This caused the Lord to wake and jump high into the air in ecstasy.
Now back in external consciousness, Mahāprabhu said, “O Svarūpa Dāmodara, why did you bring Me back? I was in Vṛndāvana, playing in the waters of the Yamunā. Why did you take Me away from there? Such a sweet song was coming from Kṛṣṇa’s flute and He was playing with us. Oh, I have long heard of that sweetness, but never realized it until today. But now you have brought Me back. You are very cruel.”
Jagannātha Purī is no ordinary place. Those that go to Jagannātha Purī for sense gratification will soon be distanced from the dhāma by millions of kilometers. The pandas there are known to beat those with bad desires.
Looking at Jagannātha Purī with mundane eyes, a person will see hotels, movie theaters, fish markets and restaurants that serve garlic, onions, and meat. The Jagannātha Temple is covered with stone figures of naked men and women in various erotic poses. Seeing these images could bewilder the mind of even the most sober. Entering the Temple is dangerous for this reason. But the conception and vision of the Gauḍīya-vaiṣṇavas differs from the mass of materialistic people. The Gauḍīya-vaiṣṇavas see through the eyes of scripture. Their vision is guided by the knowledge received from the Guru-varga. Therefore, they do not even notice the external display.
The Supreme Lord left eternal Vṛndāvana and came to Navadvīpa-dhāma. There He performed His bāla-līlā, and tasted vātsalya-rasa. He tasted all the rasas there in full with the exception of śṛīngāra-rasa. He tried to understand it but He could not satisfy His desire fully. Later, He tried to go Vṛndāvana, but this was not possible. He then came to Jagannātha Purī, and it was there where He not only realized and tasted śṛīngāra-rasa, but also distributed it. What Mahāprabhu experienced in Purī-dhāma expanded and spread throughout the world.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja established the festival of Ratha-yātrā all around the world. He made a large statue of Mahāprabhu which proceeded in front of Jagannātha’s chariot. In this grand festival, Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja performed kīrtana and danced on the street, surrounded by his loving disciples.
Who is his Jagannātha? He is described as premamaya-kalevara, the form of love. Unable to tolerate the separation from the Vrajavāsīs,
He left Dvārakā. He took sannyāsa in an endeavor to please the gopīs. The gopīs themselves left everything for Him. Kṛṣṇa said to them:
na pāraye ‘haṁ niravadya-saṁyujāṁ
sva-sādhu-kṛtyaṁ vibudhāyuṣāpi vaḥ
yā mābhajan durjara-geha-śṛṅkhalāḥ
saṁvṛścya tad vaḥ pratiyātu sādhunā
Jagannātha thought, “The Vraja-devīs have done this for Me. Let Me try to do it for them.” Then He practiced. Where did He practice? Leaving all the opulence of Dvārakā, He went to Kṣetra-maṇḍala, Nīlācala-dhāma. He became a sannyāsī on the bank of the ocean.
Jagannātha has a group of sevakas known as the dayita-patis. The dayitas are Śrīmatī Rādhārānī’s party. They perform all of Jagannātha’s service for one month during the time of Ratha-yātrā.
Do not think that Jagannātha-dhāma is Dvārakā or Vaikuṇṭha-puram. The place of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu cannot be Vaikuṇṭha.
He never goes to Vaikuṇṭha. The Gauḍīya-vaiṣṇavas never go to Dvārakā or Vaikuṇṭha, and even if they did, they would bring Vṛndāvana there with them.
This is not a surprising power for a Vrajavāsī. We see that Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja went to the Western countries and opened branch offices of Vṛndāvana, in which service to Rādhā-Mādhava is taught.
Śrīla Gurudeva mercifully manifested a place for his followers in Jagannātha Purī-dhāma. Human life is short. The soul however, is not material, like the body. For achieving realization of the soul’s eternal svarūpa, Kṣetra-maṇḍala is ideal. Kṣetra-maṇḍala is that place where the seed of one’s svarūpa can sprout and grow and is revealed.
Coming to Jagannātha Purī and practicing under the guidance of Mahāprabhu and His associates will definitely bring about supreme benefit in the life of a sādhaka. Serve with the conviction that, “I am not serving anyone else—only Śrīmatī Rādhārānī and Mahāprabhu’s associates.” If everything you do, from A to Z, is with this understanding, and if while you are cleaning, cooking, or performing other temple services you maintain this mood, then by that connection the plant of the soul will be watered and self-realization will come to you very soon.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (excerpted from: “Sri Guru Darshan”, available from; [email protected] )