All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
Lord Nitai's Flat Rice and Yoghurt Festival
at Sripat Panihati
Compiled by Jagamohini Dasi
jaya gaura-bhakta-gana - gaura yanra
saba bhakta mili' more bhakti deha' dana
Cc Antya 11.8
All glories to all the devotees of Sri Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu, for the Lord is their life and soul. All of you,
kindly bestow devotional service upon me.
Madman of Chaitanyachandra
In Sri Bhakti Raksak Divya-vani: Sermons of the Guardian of
Devotion, His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami
Maharaj explains that when Mahaprabhu went to Advaita-bhavan,
Sri Advaita Acharyya's home in Santipur, after taking sannyas,
Raghunath Das Goswami came seeking His lotus feet. When he saw
Lord Gaurahari - the Lord of his heart - he became mad with
love of Krishna. Srila Guru Maharaj says that Sripad Raghunath
Das was the son of a wealthy landowner but "his heart was
completely melted by Mahaprabhu's beauty and charming personality,
His devotion and His teachings of devotion for Krishna."
Mahaprabhu Himself knew the heart of Sripad Raghunath Das Goswami.
Raghunath Das would not leave the divine lotus feet of Mahaprabhu,
but the Lord told him, "Go home. Don't be over-enthusiastic;
control yourself. Keep your Divine love for Krishna within your
heart, and don't express it outwardly. Don't advertise
it. Very soon the time will come when Krishna will guide you.
He will make a way for you. Don't allow any external show
but keep it within your heart."
sthira hana ghare yao, na hao batula
krame krame paya loka bhava-sindhu-kula
C.c. Madhya 16.237
"Compose yourself and go home - don't be a madman.
One reaches the shore of the material ocean gradually."
Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami narrates how inwardly, Sri Raghunath
Das was completely renounced, even in family life, but he kept
his renunciation hidden and pleased his parents by acting like
an ordinary business man. In his heart, he was always feeling
the burning pain of separation from his Lord. After one year,
he tried to run to the shelter of Sriman Mahaprabhu but his father
caught him in a distant place and brought him back. Almost daily
Raghunath Das would run away from home. His father, or his father's
men, would bring him back. His mother complained, "Our son
has become mad. Just somehow keep him by binding him with ropes."
But his father said, "Our son, Raghunath, has opulence like
Indra, the heavenly King, and his wife is as beautiful as an angel.
Yet these things cannot tie his mind down. How then can mere ropes
bind him? Who can keep home such a madman of Chaitanyachandra."
"Make a Festival"
The next day Sri Raghunath Das went to receive the darshan of
Sriman Nityananda in the village of Panihati in West Bengal. Lord
Nityananda was sitting on a rock under a tree by the bank of the
Ganges. The Lord appeared as effulgent as hundreds and thousands
of rising suns. Many devotees sat, surrounding Him like rays of
sunlight. Seeing the divine influence of Lord Nityananda, Raghunath
Das was overcome with spiritual emotion. Due to his extreme humility,
he offered his dandavat pranam from a distance. But the servant
of Nityananda Prabhu saw him and called out to the Lord, "There
is Raghunath Das, offering You obeisances."
this, Lord Nitai said, "You are a thief. Now you have come
to see Me. Come here, come here. Today, I shall punish you!"
The Lord called to him, but Raghunath Das did not approach the
Lord. The Lord forcibly caught him and placed His lotus feet upon
Raghunath's head. Nityananda Prabhu is by nature very playful.
He is also an ocean of sweet mercy. He said to Raghunath, "You
are just like a thief! Instead of coming near, you stay away at
a distant place. Now that I have captured you, I shall punish
Lord Nityananda said to Raghunath, "Make a festival and feed
all my associates yogurt and chipped rice." Hearing the instruction
of Sri Dayal Nitai, Raghunath Das became very blissful. He immediately
sent his own men to the village to purchase all kinds of eatables
and bring them back. Raghunath brought chipped, or flat rice,
yogurt, milk, sweetmeats, sugar, bananas and other delicious foods
and placed them all around. As soon as they heard that there would
be a festival, many brahmanas and other gentlemen began to arrive.
Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami notes that there were innumerable
people - so many that one was unable to count them. And the crowd
continued to increase.
Sri Raghunath Das arranged to get more and more foodstuffs from
neighbouring villages and he bought several hundred large, round
earthen pots. In the larger pots a brahmana began soaking chipped
rice for the satisfaction of Lord Nityananda. Some of the rice
was mixed with yogurt and some was mixed with condensed milk.
Then sugar, ghee, camphor and a special type of banana known as
champa-kala were added.
Nityananda Prabhu sat on a raised platform under a large banyan
tree. The most important and intimate associates of the Lord,
as well as other important men, sat in a circle on the platform
around the Lord. Many more learned scholars, brahmanas and priests
arrived. Lord Nityananda honoured them all and made them sit with
Him on the raised platform. Everyone was offered two earthen pots.
In one was the flat rice with condensed milk and in the other
was the flat rice with yoghurt.
When there was no more room on the platform, many of the brahmanas
went to the bank of the Ganges with their two pots of flat rice.
Others, who could not find a place even on the bank, went into
the pure water of the Ganges and began eating from their pots
of rice. Raghava Pandit arrived and began to laugh with great
surprise and amusement at the scene before him. Lord Nityananda
made Raghava Pandit sit down to eat from two pots and said, "I
belong to a community of cowherd boys, and therefore I generally
have many cowherd associates with Me. I am happy when we eat together
in a picnic like this by the sandy bank of the river."
Like the Whorl of a Lotus Flower
the chipped rice had been brought to everyone, Sriman Nityananda,
in meditation, brought Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When Mahaprabhu
arrived, He and Nityananda Prabhu walked through all the groups
of eaters and observed how everyone was enjoying the flat rice
with yoghurt and condensed milk. From each and every pot, Lord
Nityananda took one morsel of chipped rice and pushed it into
the mouth of Mahaprabhu as a joke. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, also
smiling, took a morsel of food, pushed it into the mouth of Nityananda
and laughed as He made Him eat it. All the Vaisnavas stood to
see the playful mood of Lord Nityananda, but because they were
unable to see Mahaprabhu, they could not understand his actions.
Only a few devotees who were very fortunate were able to see the
divine form of Mahaprabhu.
The two Lords sat and honoured the flat rice. Seeing Lord Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu beside Him eating, Nityananda Prabhu became very happy
and exhibited varieties of ecstatic love. In Sri Chaitanya
Bhagavat, Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur said that he is unable
to describe the unlimited ecstatic love of Lord Nityananda. He
is always chanting just one Name, "Sri Krishna Chaitanya,"
no other Name escaped His lips even in dream. Lord Nitai is fully
surrendered in His love for Lord Chaitanya.
To the crowd of devotees He ordered, "All of you eat, chanting
the Holy Name of 'Hari.'" Immediately the Holy Names "Hari,
Hari" resounded, filling the entire universe. When all the
Vaisnavas were chanting the Names of the Lord and taking prasadam,
they were remembering how Krishna and Balaram ate with Their companions
on the bank of the Yamuna. "Like the whorl of a lotus flower
surrounded by its petals and leaves. Krishna sat in the centre,
encircled by lines of His friends, who all looked very beautiful.
Every one of them was trying to look forward toward Krishna, thinking
that Krishna might look toward him. In this way they enjoyed their
lunch in the forest." (Bhag10.13.8.) The confidential
devotees of the Lord who were cowherd boys actually felt the bank
of the Ganga to now be the bank of the Yamuna. Sri Raghunath Das
observed all these activities and felt his heart overfow with
the gracious and liberal mercy of Sri Sri Nitai Chaitanyadev.
Still more and more food arrived. Sri Raghunath Das purchased
it all and offered it to Nityananda Prabhu and the devotees. Others
were offering garlands, sandalwood and betel nuts to the Lord.
With His own hands Lord Nityananda distributed all the remnants.
Raghunath Das, feeling great happiness, gave the remnants to his
associates then took a little for himself.
Inundated in Ecstatic Love
After resting, Lord Nitai went to the home and temple of Sri
Raghava Pandit and began kirttan. He inspired all the devotees
to dance and then He Himself began dancing. Srila Krishna Das
Kaviraj Goswami says that the entire world was inundated in ecstatic
love. The dancing of Nityananda Prabhu cannot be compared to anything
within these three worlds. No one can describe the sweetness of
such dancing. Only Lord Nitai could see that Lord Gaurasundar
Himself came to observe this dancing. Lord Nityananda danced with
such ecstatic abandon that the earth reeled under His feet and
roaring sounds like thunder came from His lotus mouth. His movements
were like flashes of lightning, yet at the same time, they were
graceful, charming and delicate. When His merciful glance fell
on any person, he was instantaneously infused with Divine Love
It is said that Srimati Radharani Herself cooks in the house of
Sri Raghava Pandit. She received the benediction from Durvasa
Muni that whatever She cooked would be sweeter than nectar. That
is the special feature of Her cooking. Following kirttan, the
Lord and all the devotees ate the sumptuous prasadam with great
satisfaction. All the devotees present requested Sri Raghunath
Das to sit and take prasadam, but Raghava Pandit told them, "He
will take later."
"Lord Gaurahari came here Personally to
In the morning, Nityananda Prabhu sat with His associates under
the same tree by the bank of the Ganges. Raghunath Das went there
to worship His lotus feet. Through Raghava Pandit, he prayed:
"adhama, pamara mui hina jivadhama!
mora ichcha haya - pana chaitanya-charana"
"I am the lowest of men, the most sinful, fallen and condemned.
Nevertheless, I desire to attain the shelter of Sri Chaitanya
Raghunath Das continued by saying that he is like a dwarf who
wants to catch the moon. Every time he has tried to run to catch
Mahaprabhu's lotus feet, he has been captured and returned
to family life. Giving us his pure example, Raghunath Das prays
to Sriman Nityananda for the shelter of Mahaprabhu.
Lord Nitai was very pleased by the humility and sincere prayers
of Raghunath. He told the devotees that although Raghunath was
situated in such opulent material happiness, he doesn't care
for it at all. The Lord called Raghunath Das near to Him and placed
His divine feet upon His head. "My dear Raghunath Das,"
He said with affection, "since you arranged the feast on
the bank of the Ganges, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came here just
to show you His mercy. By His mercy He ate the flat rice and milk.
Then, after seeing the dancing of the devotees at night, He took
His supper. Lord Gaurahari came here personally to deliver you.
Now rest assured that all the impediments meant for your bondage
The Lord told him that very soon he would attain the shelter of
Mahaprabhu and become one of His most confidential servants under
the charge of Sri Svarup Damodar. Lord Nityananda had Raghunath
blessed by all the devotees and Raghunath Das offered his dandavat
pranams to their lotus feet. Afterwards, with great devotion and
humility, Sri Raghunath Das gave gold coins to Raghava Pandit
saying, "I want to give money just to worship the lotus feet
of all the great devotees, servants and subservants of Lord Nityananda."
He also secretly gave one hundred gold coins and about seven tolas
of gold for Lord Nitai. Raghunath Das left for home with a heart
full of devotion. Desire realised is a sweetness to the soul.
His mind was peaceful and happy because he knew that he had received
the merciful benediction of Nityananda Prabhu and soon he would
find his heart's treasure at the lotus feet of his Lord Gaurahari
in Sridham Puri.
Sometimes a tiny glimpse of a Vaisnava's sincere humility
will cause one's heart to break.
Srila Guru Maharaj said that Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is considered
to be our Prayojanacharyya, the guide to show us the highest
fulfilment of life: Radha-dasyam. All the Vaisnavas give
honour and praise to Srila Raghunath Das Goswami whose qualities
are too numerous to list here. When Mahaprabhu told Raghunath
Das that the mercy of Krishna is stronger than anything and had
delivered him from the ditch of materialistic life, Sri Raghunath
Das Goswami prayed:
raghunatha mane kahe, - 'krsna nahi jani
tava krpa kadila ama, - ei ami mani'
Cc Antya 6.194
Raghunath Das answered within his mind, "I do not know
who Krishna is. I simply know that Your mercy, O my Lord, has
saved me from my family life."
Today is the observance of that glorious Chira-dadhi Mahotsav.
In present day Panihati, the tree under which Lord Nityananda
sat is still present near the bank of the Ganges. This festival
is observed with great joy by the devotees of Sri Sri Dayal Nitai
and Gaurahari. By observing this festival we remember how the
most magnanimous Sriman Nityananda distributed His divine mercy
to Srila Raghunath Das Goswami.
Nitai Gaurahari bol!
All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj!
All glories to our divine Sri Guru-varga!
All glories to the sincere devotees of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!
ithe aparadha mora na la-io, bhakta-gana
toma sabara charana - mora ekanta sarana
Cc Madhya 7.154
O devotees, please do not consider my offenses
in this regard. Your lotus feet are my only shelter.