All glories to Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga

The first hours in Puri

of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math's Pilgrimage, 2004

Article written 18th June 2004 by Jagamohini Devi Dasi of USA
prema-dhama-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
Surrounded by innumerable devotees, Lord Gaurasundara displayed His divine and wonderful dancing figure in front of the Rathayatra cart while performing congregational chanting of the Lord's Holy Names. The Lord's personality totally charmed the hearts of Prataparudra Maharaja, the assembled pilgrims, and all the other dear friends of the King. The Lord also revealed the inner purport of Lord Jagannatha's Pastime of riding the cart to the Gundicha temple when He mentioned the verse by Srila Rupa Goswami (priyah so 'yam ... vipinaya sprhayati):
"O My dear friend, now I am at last reunited with My most beloved Krishna in Kuruksetra. I am the same Radharani, and He is the same Krishna. We are enjoying Our meeting, but still I wish to return to the banks of the Kalindi, where I could hear the sweet melody of His flute sounding the fifth note beneath the trees of the Vrndavana forest." I offer my obeisances to that beautiful Golden Lord, Gauranga Sundar, the divine form of Krishna-prema.

—Sri Sri Premadhama-deva-stotram, verse 30

By the sweet mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga we have come to take shelter under the gracious glance of Sri Sri Nitai Chaitanyadev and Sri Jagannathdev in the transcendental abode of Puri Dham, Sri Purusottama Ksetra. Many Bengali families from Nabadwip, Dum Dum Park and Kaikhali arrived by bus as well as Western devotees from Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and USA. We all joined together at our Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math in the Gaur Batsahi section of Puri Dham to participate in the divine Rathayatra Pastimes of Sri Jagannathdev. In addition, nearly a million pilgrims and tourists on holiday flocked to Sri Nilachal Puri.

In the days preceding and following the grand Rathayatra festival, the devotees had the opportunity to visit many of the auspicious places of pilgrimage and hear about the incomparably sweet Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu and his divine associates. We visited Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur's holy birthplace facing Grand Road where the chariots of the Lord pass by each year. When Srila Saraswati Thakur was an infant his family carried him out to take darshan of the holy procession. As Jagannathdev's cart passed by, the Lord's garland fell from the cart and onto the extraordinary child.

We went to Srila Haridas Thakur's Samadhi Mandir. In Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, Srila Krishna das Kaviraj explains that Sri Chaitanya gave this benediction: "Anyone who has chanted and danced here at Haridas Thakur's Samadhi will achieve the favour of Krishna very soon. There is such wonderful power in seeing Haridas Thakur."

Some distance away is Siddha Bakula where Haridas Thakur lived and chanted 300,000 Holy Names of the Lord daily and where Sriman Mahaprabhu came to visit with him every day. We offered obeisance to the tree that Mahaprabhu manifested from a toothpick in order to supply shade and shelter for His beloved devotee. It was also at this site that Sri Chaitanya discovered a palm leaf with the poem written by Sri Rupa Goswami which begins, "priyah so 'yam...." By reading this verse Sri Gaurasundar noted that Sri Rupa knew His mind and heart and could understand the deeper purport of His Pastimes during Rathayatra in Sri Puri: Kuruksetra. Reading the sweet sentiments of this poem Sri Chaitanya slipped into ecstatic trance.

After walking to the hidden well of Sri Paramananda Puri we lowered a bucket about thirty feet into the narrow, dark well. Sripad Tirtha Maharaj told us that Paramananda Puri had the well dug to provide water for the devotees. The water, however, was very bitter. Sri Mahaprabhu made a special request to Lord Jagannath that the water of the Ganges would come into the well and make it sweet. Sri Jagannathdev fulfilled this request and Sri Gauranga declared that the well water from that day forward should be honoured as the water of the Ganges. When the bucket was raised we were surprised to see that the water that had appeared so polluted from a distance was very clear and pure. It is said that one who drinks the water from this well will receive Krishna-prema. We happily and greedily took that pure and sweet water.

Not far from Paramananda Puri's well is the house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. When Mahaprabhu first came to Sri Puri Dham and took the darshan of Sri Jagannathdev and beheld His divine beauty He fell unconscious to the ground. At that time Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, enchanted by the lovely form and qualities of Sri Gaurasundar, took the Lord into his home. It was here that Mahaprabhu converted the scholar and displayed His 'Sad-bhuja' His six-armed form.

A short walk from our Math is the Temple of Tota Gopinath. Here, Sri Gadadhar Pandit lived and served Sri Tota Gopinath. During Sri Mahaprabhu's visits Sri Gadadhar would read Srimad-Bhagavatam to the Lord of His heart. His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj composed a verse to glorify the intimate position of Sri Gadadhar Pandit. The English translation is this:

"On the shore of the broad blue ocean, Gadadhar Pandit used to read Srimad-Bhagavatam to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who was suffering from the great internal pain of separation from Himself (Krishna). Gadadhar Pandit supplied the wine of Krishna-lila to intoxicate His afflicted friend and give Him relief. As he read, tears would fall from His eyes like flower offerings onto the pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam."

Daily the devotees would walk down the pathway from our Puri Math to take 'Samudra darshan' darshan of the sea, the Bay of Bengal. The sweet and refreshing ocean breezes brought much relief from Puri's heat and humidity. Feeling the cooling relief of the ocean air it was easy to remember why the Guru's divine mercy is sometimes compared to the sweet breeze. Mahaprabhu would bathe daily in this very ocean and He personally bathed the body of Srila Haridas Thakur in this ocean and declared, "From this day on, the sea has become a great pilgrimage site."

We visited these and so many other beautiful and divine places in Sri Puri Dham. Who can describe them and their transcendental glories! The Chaitanya-charitamrta notes that as the wind can carry away but a drop of the water of the ocean, a living entity can only touch a particle of the ocean of love of Krishna. We felt very blessed and very happy to receive the darshan of the transcendental spots. Hearing of the sweetness of the Holy Dham and the unlimited Pastimes that take place there, was made even sweeter by coming through the lips of the sincere Vaisnavas.

Offering my obeisance at the feet of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj and the Vaisnavas, I seek their pleasure and praying that my pride might be melted in their holy association,


Dispatch by Jagamohini Devi Dasi of USA

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