One time, as the day of Makara Saṅkrānti was approaching, the Vrajavāsīs, headed by Parjanya-ṛṣi and Nanda Bābā, were sitting and discussing about going and bathing in the Gaṅgā. ‘Sab tīrtha bār bār gaṅgā sāgara ek bār—in one’s life one should bathe in the holy places again and again, but bathing once in Gaṅgā-sāgara is sufficient.’
Nanda Bābā said, “Makara Saṅkrānti is already tomorrow. How will it be possible to go all the way to Gaṅgā-sāgara? It takes at least one month on foot and by horse cart it is not possible to pass through the jungles.”
Parjanya-ṛṣi, Kṛṣṇa’s grandfather, said to Nanda, “Your son, Kṛṣṇa, has mystic power. He will arrange everything. Somehow or other I want to go and bathe in the Gaṅgā. I am getting old now and I don’t know when I will leave this world. Please make all arrangements.”
Nanda Bābā called Kṛṣṇa and said, “Do You know how we can go there? Baḍa-Bābā has a keen desire.”
“Oh my dear grandfather,” Kṛṣṇa said, “all tīrthas reside in Vraja-maṇḍala—Gaṅgā-sāgara, Kedarnātha, Badrinātha, Gaṅgotrī, Hṛṣikeśa, Rāma-jhūlā, and Harakī-pauḍī. Why leave Vraja-maṇḍala? Come with me and I will call Gaṅgā-devī and you can all bathe in her waters.”
The Vrajavāsīs became excited. They thought, “We need to prepare some presentation to offer to Gaṅgā-devī and all the ṛṣis. On this day we have heard that a large crowd of people come to bathe.”
Nanda Bābā arranged many horse and bull carts and many sweets. “Where are we going?” they asked Kṛṣṇa.
“To Girirāja Govardhana; he will fulfill all our desires.”
Everyone arrived at Govardhana in the evening and spent the night there. Early morning at four o’clock, Kṛṣṇa woke.
He meditated and summoned Gaṅgā-devī. He then spoke, “Bābā, come, call all the Vrajavāsīs. It is time to bathe in Gaṅgā-sāgara.”
Everyone awoke and saw a huge current of water, surrounded by thousands and millions of people, all chanting Gaṅgā-devī’s glories.
Brahmā, Śiva, and Nārada were all bathing in the Gaṅgā. Nanda, Yaśodā, Parjanya, and all the Vrajavāsīs began to bathe. All the sakhās and sakhīs swam very happily in the sweet and cool waters of the Gaṅgā.
After bathing, they all offered puṣpāñjali and bhoga. What did they pray? “May my Kṛṣṇa always be happy. May He never be sick or tired, or leave us.” They prayed to Gaṅgā-devī with many verses for Kṛṣṇa’s protection.
Then the sakhās came and asked Kṛṣṇa, “Sakhā, tell us, where did this Gaṅgā come from? We can’t believe this is the real Gaṅgā. You are very clever. Instead of sleeping last night, You made a dam and stocked water from all the drains and nearby ponds, and in the morning, opened the dam and are now telling us this is the Gaṅgā. You are cheating everyone. Gaṅgā is the water from the feet of Bhagavān. Show us the flow from Bhagavān’s feet, and then we will believe You are speaking the truth. You can cheat the old men of Vraja, but not us.”
“Fine,” Kṛṣṇa said. “You want to see, come with me.”
Kṛṣṇa went with the Vrajavāsīs to the top of the hill and showed them Harideva, present with four hands. From His feet, Gaṅgā was flowing down into Brahma-kuṇḍa and from there to Mānasi-gaṅgā.
At that time, Girirāja Govardhana was twenty-one kilometers long and seven kilometers high. Taking the opportunity, Girirāja Govardhana also took bath, sinking down at that place into the water of Mānasi-gaṅgā.
Seeing Gaṅgā-devī, a doubt came in Śrīmatī Rādhikā’s mind. “From where did Kṛṣṇa bring her?” She thought. The sakhīs angrily came to Kṛṣṇa and said, “You are a big cheater!”
“How did I cheat? What did I do wrong? Did I not satisfy everyone by arranging for Gaṅgā to come?”
“Where has she come from? She has many names and forms, so what is her name here?”
“Her name is Mānasi-gaṅgā,” replied Kṛṣṇa.
“Oh, now we understand,” the gopīs said. “Your mind is very restless. You have room for Gaṅgā in Your mind, but not for us.”
A girl is jealous seeing her lover being attracted to another girl. Similarly, Śrīmatī Rādhikā and the gopīs now felt great jealousy, for which there seemed to be no solution.
The gopīs said, “Your mind has place for another and not for us. You have cheated us all.”
“No, I like you,” Kṛṣṇa replied. “You are all My beloveds.”
“These are just words. Your mind had room for Gaṅgā and therefore she manifested from Your mind. Thus You have called her Mānasi-gaṅgā.”
Kṛṣṇa is always defeated by the Vraja-devīs. He thought, “Finding a solution for the sakhās was not a problem, but how to solve this? If on one hand I say, ‘In my mind I have no place for Gaṅgā,’ then I will be a liar, and if I say, ‘She resides in my mind,’ then the gopīs will be angry and say ‘From where has this step wife come.’ ”
Kṛṣṇa then said, “Gaṅgā-devī came from the dreadlocks of Siva Ṭhākura.’ ”
“Śiva Ṭhākura is in Kailāsa, so how did Gaṅgā get here?” the gopīs asked.
“Śiva Ṭhākura is present nearby.”
Kṛṣṇa then took the gopīs for darśana of Śiva Ṭhākura, who He had invoked and requested to stay on the bank of Manasi-gaṅgā as Cakleśvara Mahādeva.
Seeing Śiva Ṭhākura, the gopīs became slightly pacified. Kṛṣṇa then called Gaṅgā-devī before the gopīs, who came and said, “I am only the water that washes His feet. I am a servant and not His beloved. But you are His dearest, most beloved gopīs.”
On Kṛṣṇa’s indication, Gaṅgā-devī went to Śrīmatī Rādhikā and, bowing down, she said, “I am also Your maidservant.” Hearing Gaṅgā’s supplication, Śrīmatī Rādhikā accepted Gaṅgā as Her sakhī, and all the gopīs became happy and their jealousy was finished.
Why was Kṛṣṇa merciful to Gaṅgā? Why did He summon her to Vraja? Kṛṣṇa used to play in the Yamunā with His sakhās and sakhīs. Beholding this great privilege of her younger sister Yamunā, Gaṅgā-devī became overpowered by a strong desire to also serve Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa by her waters. She expressed her desire to Yamunā and begged for her help, who then requested Kṛṣṇa to bestow His mercy on her elder sister, Gaṅgā-devī. Thus, on Makara Saṅkrānti, Śrī Kṛṣṇa summoned Gaṅgā-devī to Vraja and blessed her by bathing in her waters with all the Vrajavāsīs.
Furthermore, in the Navadvīpa-dhāma Mahatmya (5.100–102), it is said:
Seeing Yamunā-devī’s fortune of taking part in Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, Himādri-nandinī Gaṅgā performed severe penances to take part in Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s pastimes. Śrī Kṛṣṇa bestowed His mercy upon Gaṅgā by giving her His darśana. He said, ‘As Saci-nandana Gaurahari, I will play in your waters.’ The Lord of the three worlds performed pastimes in the waters of the Gaṅgā to fulfill her desire. Fortunate jīvas receive great pleasure witnessing those pastimes.
Hearing that Śrī Kṛṣṇa would accept the mood and complexion of Śrī Rādhā and descend to Nadīya to perform His pastimes there as Sacinandana Gaurahari, Śrī Yamunā-devī approached Śrī Gaṅgā-devī and requested entrance into Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma to take part in those pastimes.
Therefore Śrī Bhagavatī Gaṅgā joins with Śrī Yamunā at Prayāga, and together they flow towards Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, the abode of Mahāprabhu’s pastimes. Gaṅgā-devī flows on the eastern banks and the Yamunā flows on the western banks. Śrī Gaurasundara performed His various pastimes in both of these waters. Such great fortune places Śrī Gaṅgā-devī on the same level as Śrī Yamunā-devī. The Gaṅgā is capable of bestowing gaura-prema, which is non-different from kṛṣṇa-prema.
To the degree one delves deep into the ocean of gaura-prema, to that same degree one will find himself drowning in the ocean of vraja-rasa.
The Gaṅgā, Yamunā, and Sarasvatī are all present at the Triveni-saṅgam confluence in Prayāga. The Sarasvatī gives pure intelligence, Gaṅgā purifies, and the Yamunā makes one connected to God with love. In this way, the holy rivers all assist in the spiritual development of the jīvas.
Upon hearing Jīva Gosvāmī’s conclusion, both parties of the assembly were satisfied and stopped the fighting. Everybody appreciated Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī’s reconciliation. The king also felt greatly fortunate to have had Jīva Gosvāmī’s darśana and foot dust bless his assembly hall.
In appreciation, the king told Jīva Gosvāmī, “I want to give you a gift.”
“I am a sādhu. What can I take from a king? I have my Kṛṣṇa; He provides whatever I need. I do not need anything from you. If I would take anything, I would take from the Lord of all, not from a beggar. Everyone in this world receives everything from God. We are all beggars.”
The king thought, “The whole world comes to beg from me, but this sādhu does not want to take anything from me?”
Jīva Gosvāmī said, “O king, I don’t need anything from you.”
But the king replied, “If I don’t serve the saintly persons, I will have no auspiciousness in my life.”
At that time, paper was just starting to be produced in India, but it was rare and very expensive.
The king said, “I will send you paper for your books.”
Jīva Gosvāmī was happy to hear this. The king sent paper from Delhi and with this, the granthas of the Gosvāmīs were written, copied, and distributed. After all the granthas of the Gosvāmīs were copied, the original śāstras were placed in samādhi in Vṛndāvana.
The king also asked for one copy of all the books and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī gladly sent them to him. Even now, these copies are present in Delhi in government libraries. They are also in libraries in Madras, Kolkata, and Bombay.
Srila Jiva Gosvami ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Srila Jiva Gosvami”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )