Before understanding the mercy of Sri Chaitanya properly it is very helpful to hear the glorious life of Sri Madhavendra Puri. In fact yesterday was the disappearance day of Sri Madhavendra Puri. So on this auspicious time I would like to briefly narrate according to the Chaitanya Caritamrita Madhya Lila Chapter 4, the story of Madhavendra Puri’s devotional service.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s first visit to Remuna after Sanyasa
Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami describes here that Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, after He had taken sanyas, He went to the home of Advaita Acharya – Shantipur. And there it was decided that rather than going to Vrindavan, He would go to Nilachal or Jaggannath Puri. So He took four of His associates and they began to travel. On the way – immersed in ecstatic love Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was performing wonderful Kirtans and they were stopping at many holy places. And they came to a very important holy place, which is in Orissa; it is near the village of Balasur and it is called Remuna. It was at Remuna that the very famous and celebrated deity of Gopinath was residing within a temple. So they visited; and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw the beautiful form of Sri Gopinathji and He offered His prostrated obeisance’s at the lotus feet. And just when He offered His obeisance’s, a helmet of flowers fell from Gopinath’s head and fell upon the head of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And this incident transformed Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s heart into such a grateful state of love that He began beautiful kirtan, dancing in transcendental ecstasy. And all the pujaris and all the village people gathered around; never had they seen such beauty, such grace and such transformations of divine love. They spent the night there. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was very anxious to receive the famous form of Mahaprasad that is served there. Everyday, they offer Gopinath twelve earthen pots of sweet rice. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to taste that. So while they were waiting, he narrated to His devotees a story that He had heard from His spiritual master Ishvara Puri about Sri Madhavendra Puri’s devotional service.
Glories of Govinda Kund
He describes that Sri Madhavendra Puri at one time travelled to Vrindavan. And he came upon a hill known as Govardhan. When he saw the Govardhan hill which is non different than the body of Sri Krishna, he was maddened in transcendental love. Sometimes he stood up, sometimes he fell down; and he was crying tears from the heart. Madhavendra Puri’s position is so special and his love was unique in this world. Although Madhavendra Puri appeared and took initiation within the Madhavacharya Sampradaya, the understanding of the conjugal love affairs of Radha and Krishna and the awakening of this conjugal rasa within one’s own heart had never appeared within this sampradaya, until Sri Madhavendra Puri revealed it to the world. So after circumambulating the Govardhan Hill, Madhavendra Puri went to Govind kund. That is the place where Indra after seeking shelter of Sri Krishna, he had sent the Samvartaka clouds due to being humiliated by the Lord – his pride smashed – in order to destroy all of Braja. But Krishna effortlessly lifted the Govardhan hill with the little finger of his left hand and called all the cows and all the braja basis under the hill; where they very safely and peacefully remained for seven days while the thunder and the rains were pouring down. And at last Indra seeing that this small seven year old child was none other than the Supreme Absolute Truth – the all mighty and all powerful Godhead – he came down and begged His forgiveness. And in Govind kund, Indra performed the abhishek ceremony for Lord Sri Krishna.
Madhavendra Puri’s first Dharshan of Gopal
So to this day it is one of the most holy of all places on the earth. Madhavendra Puri sat to take his bath at Govind Kund. After taking his bath he sat beneath the tree to take his rest and while he was sitting beneath that tree an unknown cowherd boy came with a pot of milk and placed it before Madhavendra Puri. So this cowherd boy with a smile addressed Sri Madhavendra Puri. He said please drink this milk I’ve brought. Why don’t you beg some food to eat? What kind of meditation are you undergoing? When Madhavendra Puri saw that boy he became very satisfied. Hearing his sweet words he forgot all hunger and thirst. Madhavendra Puri said, “Who are you? Where do you reside? And how did you know that I was fasting?” The boy replied, “Sir I’m a cowherd boy and I reside in this village. In my village no one fasts. In this village a person can beg from other people and thus eat. Some people drink only milk; but if a person does not ask anyone for food, I supply him all his eatables. The women who come here to take water saw you and they supplied me with this milk and sent me to you. I must go very soon to milk the cows but I shall return and take back this pot of milk from you.” Saying this, the boy left and he could no longer be seen. And after drinking the milk Madhavendra Puri washed the pot and put it aside. And he looked towards the path but the boy never returned.
Gopal appears in Madhavendra Puri’s Dream
Then Madhavendra Puri sat under the tree and began to chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. And at the end of the night he dosed a little and his external activity stopped. And in a dream Madhavendra Puri saw the same boy. The boy came to him holding his hand and took him into the jungle. And then the boy showed Madhavendra Puri the bush and said, “I reside in this bush. And because of this, I suffer very much from severe cold, rain, showers, wind and scorching heat. Please bring the people of the village and get them to take me out of this bush.” Haribol! Jai Sri Radhe! Please!
“Tell them to take me out of this bush then have them situate me nicely on top of a hill. Please construct a temple on the hill and install me in that temple. After this wash me with large quantities of cold water so that my body may be cleansed. For many days I’ve been observing you and I’ve been wondering, when will Madhavendra Puri come to serve me? I have accepted your service due to your ecstatic love for me. Thus I shall appear and by my audience all fallen souls will be delivered. My name is Gopal. I’m the lifter of Govardhan Hill. I was installed by Vajra and here I’m the authority. When the Mohammedans attacked, the priests who were serving me hid me in the bush in the jungle then he ran away out of fear of attack. Since the priest went away, I’ve been staying here in this bush. And it’s very good that you’ve come here. Now just remove me with care.” After saying this, the boy disappeared. Then Madhavendra Puri woke up and began to consider his dream. He began to lament. “I saw Lord Krishna directly but I could not recognize Him.” Thus he fell down to the ground in ecstatic love. Madhavendra Puri cried for sometime but then he fixed his mind on executing the order of Gopal. Thus he became tranquil.
This is very important. A devotee is more concerned with executing the order of Guru and Krishna when rendering service to Krishna, than he is with enjoying the ecstasies of Krishna Consciousness. In this way a devotee does not want to exploit Krishna for spiritual happiness. But rather a devotee is willing to even engage in all sorts of sufferings if that is what required to execute the will of Lord Sri Krishna. So Madhavendra Puri fixed his mind on executing the order of Gopal. And after taking his morning bath, he entered the village and assembled all the people. And he spoke to them, he told them that the proprietor of this village, Govardhan Dhari is lying in the bushes. Let us go and rescue him from that place. He told them that the bushes are very dense and they should bring choppers and spades to clear the way. After hearing this, with great pleasure, all the villagers followed Madhavendra Puri. They cut through the jungle to make a path. And when they saw the deity covered with dirt and grass they were all struck with wondering pleasure. After they cleansed the body of Gopal, they realized that this deity is very heavy. And no one person could move him. So some of the stronger men came to carry Him to the top of the hill. And a big stone was made for a throne. And another stone was put behind for support.
Installation Ceremony of Gopal deity
Then the Brahmans gathered, according to Gopal’s instruction, nine hundred pots of cool water from Govinda Kund was brought and as they were collecting these pots, there was beautiful kirtans, musical instruments, and the singing of women and thus the festival of the installation took place. Some sang and some danced. All the milk, yogurt and ghee from the entire village were brought to the festival. Various foods and sweetmeats and other kinds of presentation were brought there. They brought large quantities of Tulsi leaves, flowers, and various kinds of garlands. And then Madhavendra Puri personally began the abhishek ceremony. First they dispelled all inauspiciousness by the chanting of mantras. Then the deity was massaged, with a large quantity of oil, so that His body becomes shiny. After the first bathing, they bathed Him with the Panchagavya. Panchagavya means cow dung, cow urine, ghee, yogurt and milk. Then they bathed Him with panchamrit – which is made of the five kinds of nectar including ghee, yogurt, milk, honey and sugar. And they bathed him with over one hundred pots of water – scented or with fine oils as well as with ghee. This is called the Maha-Snan.
After the Maha-Snan was finished they again massaged Gopal’s body with scented oil. Then again the last bathing ceremony was performed with scented water kept in a conch shell. After the deity was cleansed, He was dressed nicely with new garments and sandalwood pulp, Tulsi garlands and other fragrant flower garlands were placed upon the body of the deity. After the bathing ceremony was finished, incense and lamps were burned and all kinds of food were offered before the deity. These food included yogurt and milk and many sweetmeats as they received. As soon as the people of the village understood that the deity was to be installed, they brought the entire stock of all their foods – all rice, all dal, all vegetables and they prepared preparations that covered the entire surface of the top of the Govardhan Hill.
Selfless service of Brajvasis
You see, the villagers, they were not concerned in the typical greedy way with their economic development. They were truly Brajvasis. In the sense that they knew that everything is simply meant for the pleasure of Krishna. Rupa Goswami says; if you surrender everything you have, to Krishna, do not think that you’ll be a looser. You’ll gain millions of times. So here we find all the villagers – they brought everything they had. All their wealth, all their foodstuff, jewelry, fine cloth, garments – simply offering it to Gopal. With not even a thought that how will we survive? Bhagvatam explains, if you water the root of the tree, the whole tree is nourished. If you satisfy Krishna, there’s nothing to fear. Krishna is the ultimate provider of everything. Not a blade of grass can move without His sanction. So this was the faith of the Brajvasis. And this is the faith that is required to actually attract the heart of Govinda. This faith that we have nothing to hold back, everything is Krishna’s, let us offer everything. It is sometimes said that Krishna does not see that how much you give Him but He sees how much you hold back. The mood of the Brajvasis is this. Let us give everything for Gopal. And they just were so happy. For them it was not an austerity, it was a joy to please Krishna. And in the morning the cooking began. Ten brahmans cooked the food grains. Five brahmans cooked all the dry and liquid vegetables. And Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami describes all the varieties of preparations were made. He cannot describe them all. And a huge quantities of chapattis which was sufficiently covered with ghee as were all the vegetables, the rice and the dal.
Annakoot Ceremony for Gopal
They made big big mountains of rice and around the mountain of rice there were all the chapattis, the rotis and all other varieties of vegetables, sweetmeats and everything. Pots of yogurt, milk, butter milk, sikharanis, sweetrice, cream and solid cream were placed along side the vegetables. And in this way the Annakoot ceremony was performed by Sri Madhavendra Puri. And he personally offered everything to Gopal. Then they offered him scented water for drinking and they were in the consciousness that Gopal had been hungry for many days. You see the true standard of deity worship was not only in the observance of rules and regulations. That must be there. But the true standard of deity worship is the condition of the heart. Whether we have the realization or not, we must have the faith in the shastra, in the previous acharyas, in the guru and in the vaishnavas that the murti of Gopal or Sri Krishna is non different than Krishna. And out of his great kindness, He is assuming a helpless position just to accept our love and devotion.
The Origin of Love of Godhead – Sri Radhika
So Madhavendra Puri and all the Brijvasis were very conscious that poor Gopal, He was in the heat and the cold, the winds and the rains. No one gave Him any food. No one gave Him any water for so many days. So to satisfy Him, to please Him, they were preparing enormous amounts of prasad. Enormous amounts of scented water, wonderful wonderful bathing ceremony. It was all done in this consciousness that He’s a person. He’s the Supreme Person – Purushottam. He’s the beloved of our hearts – the beloved of our lives. And our perfection and our pleasure in life is only to the extent that we can please Him. Of course this consciousness originates in Srimati Radharani. She’s the Bhakta Rupa. She’s the personification and the storehouse of all love and devotion. And it is through her that this spirit of complete sacrifice and love for the pleasure of Govinda originates. Radha is non different than Krishna. They are the one Supreme Person. Krishna is the supreme object of love and Sri Radharani is the supreme lover. So therefore, great souls like Madhavendra Puri they are by the mercy of Radharani empowered with this spirit of Hers in minute portion. Just as the jivatma is part and parcel of Krishna, all bhakti, all devotion, all love is part and parcel of the supreme whole of Sri Radhika’s love – which is simply, how to satisfy Krishna? How to please Krishna in the most personal and wonderful way. How Gopal ate everything that was offered – mountains of food, bhoga that covered the entire surface of the top of Govardhan Hill. And Madhavendra Puri by his transcendental vision by the mercy of the Lord was able to perceive how Gopal ate everything and yet allowed everything to remain as it was as His mahaprasad. Kaviraj Goswami explains this wonderful festival was all held in one day and he describes how impossible it was to do. But by the inconceivable potency of Gopal although no one could understand it – it was done.
Lords Inconceivable Potency
Similarly in Chaitanya Caritamrita, there’s a story of Sarvabhoma Bhattacharya. Once in the morning he approached Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to invite him for prasad at noon and when Lord Gauranga came, there was such an immense display of mahaprasad before the deity – mountains! Hundreds and hundreds of preparations most expertly prepared. And it was all made by Sarvabhoma and his wife. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “You just invited me a few hours ago and how is it possible? It would have taken ten brahman men, ten days to cook all these food. How have you done it in just a few hours? And Sarvabhoma Bhattacharya being a true devotee replied that, “He for whom this food is meant to be served to, He has cooked it all! I only collected the ingredients”. In other words, Gauranga Mahaprabhu – it is by your mercy that it is all done. We are all here to see as your assistants. So Madhavendra Puri had this realization as he saw the impossible become possible right before his eyes. And then Madhavendra Puri offered Gopal the water for washing His mouth and then the arti ceremony was performed by Srila Madhavendra Puri himself – and everyone was chanting “Jai Gopal”, “Jai Gopal”. And then arranging for Lord’s rest, Madhavendra Puri brought a new cot and constructed a small little temple around the cot so that Gopal could have a nice and comfortable private place to rest. And then Srila Madhavendra Puri, he instructed that we must now, he gathered all the Brahmans who had cooked all the Prasad, and said now we must feed everyone sumptuously. From the children up to the aged, and all the people gathered there and sat down to honor the prasad. And they took the food. All the brahmans and their wives ate first. Not only did the people of Govardhan Hill take prasad in the village, but those who came from other villages hearing about this festival, they all came. They all saw the deity of Gopal and were all offered sumptuous prasad. And seeing the influence of Madhavendra Puri’s love and devotion that had attracted Gopal to appear within their midst, they were all struck with wonder.
Compassion of Pure Devotees
This is also very important principle. How does Krishna come into our lives? Gopal came into the lives of all these Brijvasis because of the love and devotion of Madhavendra Puri. So similarly, those pure vaishnavas who have sacrificed everything in the loving service of the Lord, Krishna appears through them to deliver the people in general. In fact it is by the great worship of Sri Advaita Acharya appealing and begging for Krishna to come to this earth that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared. It was by the prayers of Prahlad that Narsingha Dev appeared. It was by the prayers of Aditi that Vamana Dev appeared. We find that all these great avatars, they all appeared simply to satisfy the prayers of the devotees. Their prayer is always a prayer of great compassion and love for others who’ve fallen into the lap of Maya. So this is an eternal truth that Krishna reveals Himself on the basis of the love of his devotee. The love of His devotee attracts Krishna to appear to give his mercy to the world. All the brahmans who were present on that occasion were then initiated by Madhavendra Puri into the sampradaya of Sri Madhavachrya of the Vaishnava cult. And Madhavendra Puri engaged them in various types of service.
Initiation is not just a ritual. But initiation is truly a vow, lifelong vow of willingness to serve. “Pari prashne na sevaya…” To enquire submissively and render service. This according to the Gita is the duty of a disciple. And it is the duty of the Spiritual Master to impart knowledge, not as his own speculation, not as own theories, but to impart the knowledge originating from Krishna, passed down from the great acharyas and the shastras and to engage the disciple in practical service to Lord. And then Madhavendra Puri instructed them how to carry out the worship of Gopal. How to put Him to rest, how to wake Him, how to offer the bhog and everything. And of course the news spread very fast about this wonderful ceremony.
Gorgeous Worship of Gopal
It is explained that one village after another came each and every day to beg Madhavendra Puri to allot them one day to also perform the Annakoot ceremony. And thus day after day after day, the same ceremony which we just described was performed again and again and again – of the cooking of wonderful bhoga for the pleasure of Gopal. And Madhavendra Puri, it describes, he did not eat anything through the day but at night after laying down the deity to rest he took a milk preparation. And the next morning again another village came. And each village would come with their entire storehouse of all grains to sacrifice it all for the pleasure of Gopal. The ideal place to execute Krishna Consciousness, Kaviraj Goswami says is Braja bhumi or Vrindavan, where the people are naturally inclined to love Krishna and Krishna is naturally inclined to love them. And throng of people were coming to see Gopal. And people were coming and bringing beautiful jewels, beautiful garments.
Some people from Mathura, they were more wealthy people; they were bringing all sorts of articles for puja. Countless presentations of gold, silver, scented articles and eatables started to come. And one very rich kshatriya – of the royal order constructed a temple. Someone made cooking utensils, someone constructed boundary walls. Each and every family in Braj bhumi contributed one cow to Gopal. And in this way thousands of cows became property of Gopal. Eventually two Brahmins from Bengal appeared. They were in the renounced order of life. And Madhavendra Puri was very pleased with them. They became very dear to him. So he initiated them and he entrusted the charge of the temple to them.
Test of Surrender
In this way the worship of Gopal was very gorgeously performed. One day Madhavendra Puri, after two years, while he was resting, he had another dream. And in this dream Gopal appeared to him again. And He said that my bodily temperature still has not decreased. Please bring sandalwood from the Malaya province and smear the pulp over my body to cool me. Bring sandalwood pulp from Jaggannath Puri. Kindly go quickly; since no one else can do it – you must! A devotee is never concerned with the fruits of his actions. He’s only concerned with carrying out the desire of Krishna. This is real renunciation. Here Madhavendra Puri was living like a beggar with nothing. And by the arrangement of Sri Krishna, now there was a beautiful beautiful palatial temple, there was thousands of people coming; the most successful preaching you could possibly imagine – with thousands of people coming to the temple, everyday. He had so many disciples who were ready to do anything and everything for him at any amount of notice – they were utterly surrendered at his lotus feet. He had every facility to serve the Lord. What to speak of the most blessed object of all of his love – Gopal was constantly before him. But when Gopal appeared to him in dream and said, “Go to Jaggannath Puri and bring sandalwood back for me”.
Go to Jaggannath Puri does not mean Indian Airlines or Indian Railways – it means walking by foot. Which means many months going through the jungles alone and then where to get all the sandalwood? How to bring it back? Very difficult task – lonely task. For Sri Madhavendra Puri, all the facilities Krishna gave him – he was not attached to anything but to pleasing Krishna. Without a moment’s notice, he was willing to leave the beloved object of his life Gopal; leave all of his beloved disciples; leave all the people he was preaching to; leave the beautiful building of that temple…all the facilities. Because this is the desire of Krishna. This is surrender. This is true renunciation. We do not want to enjoy any of our facilities. There a verse in Bhagvatam that the facilities that Krishna gives you through devotional service should never be used for your own sense gratification. How do we know whether we are using the facilities for devotional service for sense gratification or they’re being used for Krishna? The test is when Krishna tells you to give it up. Are you willing to do so? When Krishna tells you through Guru or though the exalted vaishnavas are you willing to surrender? If you are, then you can understand…you’ve passed the test. That actually my consciousness is as a servant, not as an enjoyer.
Pastime of Kheer Chor Gopinath
So after having this dream, Madhavendra Puri became very glad due to ecstatic love of Godhead. And in order to execute the command of the Lord, he started east towards Bengal. Before leaving, he made all the arrangements for regular deity worship and engaged different people in different duties. Then taking up the order of Gopal, he started for Bengal. When Madhavendra Puri arrived in Shantipur, he stayed at the house of Sri Advaita Acharya. And it was there that Sri Advaita Acharya, he being so pleased to see the manifestations of Madhavendra Puri’s pure love, he begged Madhavendra Puri for initiation. And after initiating him, Madhavendra Puri started for South India. Going into South India, he came to the village of Remuna where Gopinath is situated. And upon seeing the beauty of the deity Madhavendra Puri was overwhelmed. In the courtyard of the temple where the general people had the darshan of the Lord, Madhavendra Puri in great love began to sing and dance in the glorification of Sri Gopinath.
Then he sat down and asked from the brahman, “What kind of food was offered to the deity?” You see, Madhavendra Puri had such a service attitude…he was not coming to simply enjoy the beautiful darshan of Gopinath. He was coming with the idea, how can I better serve Gopal? Gopinath and Gopal are the same. He was always thinking of serving his Gopal in every situation. He was taking every opportunity as an opportunity to serve Gopal. So he was thinking that obviously I can see by this temple so many wonderful arrangements have been made, they must have the highest quality of bhoga offered to the Lord. I want to know. So that I can learn these things and bring them to Gopal and prepare them for my Lord, Thakurji. So he enquired from the priest, and the priest explained to him the varieties of food that were offered to Gopinath. And then he told him that in the evening, there’s an offering of kheer – in twelve earthen pots. And because the taste is like nectar, it is called Amritakeli. And he explained that this sweet rice, this kheer is celebrated throughout the entire world as Gopinath kheer. And it is not offered anywhere else in the world. And while he was talking, pujari brought the offering of the twelve pots onto the altar of the Lord. And Madhavendra Puri was thinking, if only I could taste…if without my asking, he was thinking, someone brings me, just a small portion and I can taste it, then I can prepare a similar preparation for the pleasure of Gopal. But then he was thinking, “How offensive I am, well Thakurji, Sri Krishna is eating the food and I’m thinking of eating that same food. So he felt very guilty and very bad. And just at that time, the bell rang and the aarti began and after aarti Madhavendra Puri offered his prostrated obeisances and left without saying anything to anyone.
Then he went to a secluded village and a vacant market place within the village, and he simply sat feeling the guilt of his…he was thinking han I’m wanting to eat what is meant for Krishna. The conditioned soul, this is the diesease that we all have that we want to enjoy what is meant for Krishna’s enjoyment.
jïätvä mäà çäntim åcchati
That everything is meant for the pleasure of Krishna. Material bondage or Maya is when we think we are the enjoyers. Of course Madhavendra Puri did not have a trace of the influence of Maya in his heart. But as a true vaishnava, he never considered himself as advanced. He considered himself as a very ordinary man. And he considered only in terms of pleasing Gopal, he still considered that I’m just an offensive neophyte devotee wanting to Lord it over and enjoy the property of God. So he went to the marketplace to purify himself by chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. As he was there, the pujari after finishing his duties, he put Gopinath to rest and then he also took rest. But in a dream he saw Gopinath appeared to him and he spoke, “Please get up and open the door of the temple. I have kept one pot of sweet rice for the sanyasi Madhavendra Puri. This pot of sweet rice is just behind my cloth curtain. You did not see it because of my tricks. A sanyasi named Madhavendra Puri is sitting in the vacant marketplace. Please take this pot of sweet rice from behind me and deliver it to him.”
Awaking from the dream, the pujari immediately rose from his bed and took his bath and went into the temple. There he found behind the curtain, behind the deity was hidden one pot of kheer. He was struck with wonder. Then he went out of the temple and closed the door as he went to the village with the pot of sweet rice and he started calling out in every stall and every corner. May he whose name is Madhavendra Puri please come and take this pot. Gopinath has stolen this pot for you. May the sanyasi whose name is Madhavendra Puri please come and take this pot of sweet rice and enjoy the prasad with great happiness. You are the most fortunate person within these three worlds. Hearing the invitation Madhavendra Puri came out and identified himself and the priest knowing what sort of glorious person this is that Gopinath has stolen the kheer just for him. He performed this very wonderful pastime. He offered his prostrated obeisance’s to Madhavendra Puri and then related the story of the dream and what he had found. And Madhavendra Puri with great humility, he became absorbed in ecstatic love for Krishna. He could understand that Krishna was so merciful so kind upon him. And when the priest saw the humility and devotion of Madhavendra Puri, he understood why Gopinath has done this for such a great personality. Then Madhavendra Puri upon taking leave from the brahman priest, he ate the sweet rice offered to him by Krishna in great ecstatic love. And after this he washed the pot and broke it into pieces and bound them in his cloth to take with him. And each day it is said Madhavendra Puri would eat one piece of that earthen pot. And after eating it, he would immediately be overwhelmed with ecstasy. He would think the lord has given me a pot of sweet rice and when people would hear of this tomorrow there would be great crowds. So out of humility, he did not want to become famous. He did not want to become very well known as a special Paramhamsa Vaishnava. He wanted to simply remain in a very ordinary position – secretly worshipping Krishna in his heart. So thinking like this Madhavendra Puri offered obeisance’s to Gopinath on that very spot and left Remuna.
A Pure Devotee’s Fame
And walking and walking he finally reached Jaggannath Puri. And when he approached Jaggannath Puri he was overwhelmed with great ecstasy of love of God. He sometimes stood up and sometimes fell to the ground. Sometimes he laughed, danced and sang. In this way he enjoyed transcendental bliss by seeing the Jaggannath deity. When Madhavendra Puri came to Jaggannath Puri all the people around were aware of his reputation. In fact everywhere he went on the way to Jaggannath Puri, every town and every village before he arrived, his reputation was already understood by everyone and they all greeted him and celebrated him. He did not like this. So he was always going from one place to another. It is explained by Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami that even though one may not like it reputation is ordained by providence. Indeed ones transcendental reputation is known throughout the entire world. Being afraid of his reputation Madhavendra Puri fled from Remuna. But the reputation brought by love of Godhead is so sublime that it goes along with the devotee as if following him.
Madhavendra Puri wanted to leave Jaggannath Puri because the people were honoring him as such a great devotee. However, this threatened his service. This is a very important principle. He was not liking Jaggannath Puri very much because everyone was honoring him and worshipping him. And in his heart he just wanted to leave and get away from all this botheration of receiving honor and respect, worship, love, obeisance’s, gifts. But he knew that his service was to get sandalwood for Gopal and that the only way to get sandalwood was he had to remain in Jaggannath Puri. So for the sake of service to Gopal he was going to tolerate all of this of this respectfulness and all of this honor and all of this worship. And this way, this is the position of a real Acharya or guru. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, he used to say that when I sit on this Vyasasan, I feel like a dog sitting on a throne that’s meant for a king. But still, because it’s the order of my gurudev, I must tolerate this for the sake of serving my disciples. For that a devotee is willing to endure. But if one enjoys being glorified, enjoys being praised then that person is in a very unfortunate material conception of life. That person is not actually a guru, a vaishnav in the true sense.
Obstacles in the Service of Lord are greatly Welcomed
Madhavendra Puri told the servants of Lord Jaggannath and all the great devotees there the story of the appearance of Gopal. And he told about the dream. So they made wonderful arrangements to assist him by collecting sandalwood. And in great pleasure they endeavored to collect it. And those who were acquainted with government officers met with them and begged for camphor and sandalwood which they collected. One Brahman and one servant were given to Madhavendra Puri just to carry the sandalwood. And he was also given the necessary travelling expenses to get passed the toll collectors. See even for great souls like Madhavendra Puri even over five hundred years ago still there were so many obstacles by the government. Paying taxes, tolls, release papers. He was a complete Paramhamsa Vaishnava. Why did he deal with all these things? Sometimes people take to devotional service; they don’t want to deal with any of these things. They just want to go to Vraja and just chant Hare Krishna. That is very good. But we see in Madhavendra Puri ‘s days when Krishna wants you to do some seva, even if you have to go through all of the ordeals of getting permits and getting papers and getting licenses and dealing with all sorts of materialistic people and contaminating places, the devotee is willing to do it because this is the will of the Lord. Arjuna did not want to fight that bloody war of Kurukshetra. He would have rather left and just chant Haribol! But Krishna said it is my order, you fight! And fighting means so many implications, so many problems, and so many complications.
So Madhavendra Puri was supplied with the release papers and then he had to go. And in this way he started for Vrindavan with the burden of sandalwood. And after some days he again reached Remuna and he went to the Gopinath temple. This is also very dangerous. He had one brahmana and one servant. Do you know how valuable in those days’ sandalwood and camphor were? He had to travel mostly through jungles and forests and towns and villages. There were thieves, dacoits, rogues who can rob him kill him but he was fearless. Whatever Krishna wills let it be. I’m his servant. So when Madhavendra Puri reached the temple of Gopinath he offered his respectful obeisance’s many times at the lotus feet of the Lord. And in the ecstasy of love, he began to dance and sing without cessation. And when the pujari again saw Madhavendra Puri he offered his respects and he gave him sweet rice prasadm and made him eat. Madhavendra Puri was so humble; he would have to make him eat. Madhavendra Puri took rest that night but toward the end of the night he had another dream. Madhavendra Puri dreamed that Gopal came before him again and said, “O Madhavendra Puri, I have already received all the sandalwood and camphor.” The Gopal of Vrindavan is speaking to him. Now just grind all the sandalwood together with the camphor and then smear the pulp on the body of Gopinath daily until it is finished. There’s no difference between My body and Gopinath’s body. They are one and the same. Therefore if you smear the sandalwood on the body of Gopinath, you’ll naturally also smear it on My body. Thus the temperature of My body will be reduced. You should not hesitate to act according to my order. Believing in me, just do as it is needed”. After giving these instructions, Gopal disappeared.
Then Madhavendra Puri awoke and immediately called for the servants of Gopinath and told them that “Smear the body of Gopinath with this camphor and sandalwood that I’ve brought for Gopal in Vrindavan. Do this regularly every day. If the sandalwood pulp is smeared over the body of Gopinath then Gopal will be cooled. After all the Supreme personality of Godhead is completely independent and his order is all powerful. The servants of Gopinath were very pleased to hear this. Because it was the summer season, it was very hot. So Madhavendra Puri gave his two assistants to regularly grind the sandalwood and two other people would help. That was their service to just grind the sandalwood and present to Gopinath. In this way every day Gopinath’s body was completely covered with the sandalwood pulp. And Madhavendra Puri stayed there until the entire stock was finished. And at the end of the summer Madhavendra Puri returned to Jaggannath Puri where he remained with great pleasure during the whole period of catur masya. Today that same temple of Gopinath is still present in Remuna. Someday in the near future we will all go there together. And still every evening twelve pots of this kheer is offered in the earthen containers. Some years ago I went there and I was with one other devotee and of the twelve pots, we were not so humble as Madhavendra Puri, I think that between the two of us we finished six of them. But we required the purification. And not only that but the pujari from the summer season when they cover the body of Gopal they keep that sandalwood after they scrub it off they body and put water and make it into small balls. And if the pujari likes you, he’ll give you some of that. It’s a very beautiful place, very peaceful place. And within the compound of the temple of Gopinath is also the samadhi of Rasikananda who’s the top most and most intimate disciple of Shyamananda Prabhu, Very very holy place.
Unparalleled Devotion of Sri Madhavendra Puri
So Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was personally praising the glories of his guru Madhavendra Puri by narrating the wonderful story describing the characteristics of his love for Krishna. And of course Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is non-different than that Gopal and Gopinath, took the greatest pleasure and relished describing the glories of His devotee. And then Lord Chaitanya asked Nityananda Pr to judge whether there was anyone within the world that is as fortunate as Madhavendra Puri. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Madhavendra Puri was so fortunate that Krishna personally appeared before him in the plea of delivering milk, three times the Lord gave orders to Madhavendra Puri in dreams. Being obliged because of the loving affairs of Madhavendra Puri, Lord Krishna himself appeared as Gopal and accepting his service he liberated the whole world. On account of Madhavendra Puri, Lord Gopinath stole the sweet rice and thus he became known as kheer chora Gopinath. To this day this is the name of the temple, kheer chora Gopinath – which means the thief who stole the sweet rice. Madhavendra Puri smeared the sandalwood pulp over the body of Gopinath and in this way he was over powered by the love of Godhead. In the provinces of India governed, this is Mahaprabhu speaking, in the provinces of India governed by the Mohammedans, there was much inconvenience of travelling with sandalwood and camphor. And because of this Gopal knew that Madhavendra Puri could get in very much trouble. So therefore the Lord was so merciful and attached to His devotee that He told him to simply offer all of this to Gopinath.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu placed the standard of Madhavendra Puri’s intense love before Nityananda Prabhu for judgment. All his loving activities are uncommon Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said. Indeed, one is struck with wonder to hear his activities. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu continued, Sri Madhavendra Puri used to remain alone. He was completely renounced and always very silent. He was uninterested in everything material. And for fear of talking about mundane things, he always lived without a companion. This was a very advanced consciousness. We cannot imitate such great souls as Madhavendra Puri. Because if we live alone, we may not talk all nonsense but undoubtedly we’ll think all nonsense (small laughter). Therefore it is very very important and vital for our spiritual lives to be in association of saintly persons. And in that saintly association never allow mundane topics, gossip or rumors to come into our lives. And to always hear and glorify the pastimes of Krishna. And to always engage in discussions of how to better serve our gurudev.
Service to Lord itself is reward
After receiving the transcendental orders of Gopal, this great personality travelled thousands of miles just to collect sandalwood by begging. You see, it is described in the shastras that the message of Krishna comes through gurudev. In the eleventh canto of Bhagvatam, “Acharya mam…janya nam…” It is described by Krishna to Uddhava, that you should know the Acharya to be My very self. When he speaks, it is Me speaking.
bahu sakha hy anantas ca
Vishvanath Thakur Chakravarti explains, that the path, the real path of bhakti is to make the order of guru one’s life and soul. Coz’ to make the order of guru one’s life and soul means to make the order of Krishna one’s life and soul. This is Madhavendra Puri’s consciousness. There was no question of convenience or inconvenience. Whatever serves you my Lord! If I have to travel barefoot thousands of miles, through out dangerous lands, without hesitation, it was his great pleasure. Although Madhavendra Puri was hungry, he would not beg food to eat. This renounced person carried a load of sandlewood for the sake of Gopal. Without considering his personal comforts, Madhavendra Puri carried 82 pounds of sandalwood and 8 ounces of camphor to smear the body of Gopal. This transcendental pleasure was sufficient for him. His pleasure in life was simply that Krishna was so kind to give him some seva. He was not concerned whether it was difficult, whether it was easy. He was simply grateful and pleased that Krishna was so kindly giving me some seva.
Load of Pleasure
And believe me, this service is so difficult what he performed. Millions of times more difficult than anything we’ve ever been asked to do. But Madhavendra Puri gladly, gratefully accepted it. Since there were restrictions, Madhavendra Puri was not at all anxious during the long journey to Vrindavan through the provinces governed by the Mohammedans and filled with unlimited numbers of watchmen. Although Madhavendra Puri did not have a farthing with him, he had no money; he was not at all afraid to pass by the toll officers. His only enjoyment was carrying the load of sandalwood to Vrindavan for Gopal. This is very important. A true devotee who’s really the servant of the servant of the servant; his gurudev gives him a load, a load of service. And for a materialistic person, this load appears very troublesome. But for a true devotee, to carry this load is his only pleasure in life. This is the consciousness that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is teaching. This is the natural result of intense love of Krishna. The devotee does not consider personal inconveniences or impediments. In all circumstances, he wants to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Sri Gopal wanted to show how intensely Madhavendra Puri loved Krishna. And therefore He asked him to go and fetch sandalwood and camphor. With great trouble and after much labor, Madhavendra Puri brought the load of sandalwood to Remuna. However he was still very pleased – he discounted all the difficulties. Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur has said, “My Lord, the difficulties, the inconveniences and sufferings I have to undergo in your services, are my greatest pleasure in life.” A devotee is never particular. I like to do this. I do not like to do this. A sincere devotee simply likes to please guru and Krishna and the vaishnavas. And he’s willing to accept any burden on him; any responsibility on him if it pleases the Lord. It’s like our Devamrita Prabhu – president of this temple. Such a burden’s on him, so many responsibilities, so many things coming to him every day, so many decisions, so many problems. He could easily think, O, like other presidents; they may think O, this is very troublesome. This is very difficult. Better I go to a holy place and cry for Krishna. That is alright. Some people may do that but that is not the, that is not how to attract Krishna. Because he’s accepting the burden on him gratefully, with great pleasure, he’s really showing the symptoms of a servant of the Lord. Of course the greatest burden on him is my flattery words which he should tolerate with a humble heart. But actually, when a devotee hears good things said about him, it doesn’t make him proud. It makes him more humble thinking I do not deserve this.
To test the intense love of Madhavendra Puri, Gopal the Supreme Personality of Godhead ordered him to bring sandalwood from Nilachala. And when Madhavendra Puri passes examination, the Lord became very merciful to him. Such behavior exhibited in the loving service between the devotee and the devotee’s lovable object Sri Krishna, is transcendental. It is not possible for a common man to understand. Common men do not even have the capacity. After saying this, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu read the famous verse of Madhavendra Puri. That verse is just like the moon. It has spread illumination all over the world. By continuous loving, the aroma of Malaya sandalwood increases. Similarly, by considering this verse, its importance increases. As the kastuba mani is considered the most precious of all valuable stones, this verse is similarly considered the best of all mellow poems. Actually this verse was spoken by Srimati Radharani herself. And by her mercy only was it manifest in the words of Madhavendra Puri. Only Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has tasted the poetry of this verse. No forth person is capable of understanding it. Prabhupada explains that only Srimati Radharani, Madhavendra Puri and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are capable of understanding the purport of this verse. It is the essence of maha bhava. Madhavendra Puri recited this verse again and again and at the end of his material existence, he chanted this verse. Thus uttering this verse he attained the ultimate goal of life. With this verse Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was tasting the ecstasy of love as follows:
Aayi dina dayadra natha hey
Mathura nath, kadava loksha ye
Hridayam twada loka katram
dayita bramayati kim karom yaham
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 4.197)
“Oh My Lord, O most merciful master, O master of Mathura, When shall I see you again, because of my not seeing you, my agitated heart has become unsteady. O most beloved Lord, what shall I do now?”
Highest feelings of Love of Godhead
This verse was chanted by Srimati Radharani just after Krishna left Vrindavan for Mathura, in the intensity of the pangs of the ecstatic feelings of separation. Srimati Radharani expressed how Krishna can be loved in this mood of separation. In Prabhupada’s purport, he explains that when Sri Krishna left Vrindavan and accepted the kingdom of Mathura, Srimati Radharani out of ecstatic feelings of separation expressed how Krishna can be loved in separation. Thus devotional service in separation is essential to this verse. Worship in separation is considered by the Gaudiya Madhava Sampradaya to be the topmost level of devotional service. According to this connection, the devotee thinks himself as very poor and neglected by the Lord. Thus he addresses the Lord as “Dina dayadra natha”. Because Krishna had gone to Mathura, Srimati Radharani was very much affected. And she expressed herself thus: “My dear Lord, because of your separation my mind has become overly agitated. Now tell me what can I do? I’m very poor and you are very merciful. So kindly have compassion upon me. And let me know when I shall see you.”
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was always absorbed in these sweet feelings of separation, in the mood of the ecstatic motions of Srimati Radharani – which She exhibited when She saw Uddhava at Vrindavan. Similar feelings experienced by Madhavendra Puri are expressed in this verse. Therefore Vaishnavaism in the Gaudiya Madhava Sampradaya say that the ecstatic feelings experienced by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu during His appearance came from Sri Madhavendra Puri through Isvara Puri. All the devotees in the line of the Gaudiya Madhava Sampradaya accept these principles of devotional service. When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu recited this verse – He fell to the ground unconscious overwhelmed; and He had no control over Himself. When Lord Chaitanya fell to the ground, Lord Nityananda took Him on His lap and crying Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then got up again. Exhibiting ecstatic symptoms He began to run here and there making resounding sounds. Sometimes He laughed, sometimes He cried, sometimes He danced and sometimes He sang. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu could not recite the whole verse. He was simply saying, “Aayi dina”, “Aayi dina” repeatedly. Thus He could not speak and profuse tears were there in His eyes. Trembling perspiration, jubilant tears, shocked, fading of the bodily luster, disappointment, moroseness, loss of memory, pride, joy, humility…all were visible in Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ‘s body.
This verse uncovered the door of ecstatic love. And when it was exhibited, all the servants of Gopinath saw Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu dance in ecstacy. And when many people crowded around Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He regained His external senses. In the mean time, the offering to the deity had been finished. And the resounding arti ceremony was performed. When the deities were laid down to rest, the priest came out of the temple and offered all twelve pots of sweet rice to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When all the pots of sweet rice remnants left by Gopinath were placed before Gauranga, He became very pleased. In order to feed the devotees, He accepted five of them. There were five devotees, Himself and four others. The seven remaining pots were pushed forward and delivered to the priest. And the five pots of sweet rice the Lord had accepted were distributed among the five devotees and they ate the prasad. Being identical with the Gopinath deity, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu already tasted all the pots of sweet rice yet just to manifest devotional service; he again ate the pots of sweet rice in the role of a devotee. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu passed the night at the temple and engaged in congregational chanting of the Holy Name. And in the morning after seeing the mangal aarti performed, he departed. In this way Mahaprabhu personally tasted with His own mouth, the transcendental qualities of Gopal, Gopinath and Sri Madhavendra Puri. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami explains that the transcendental glories of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s affection for His devotees and the highest limit of ecstatic love of God has just been described. And one who hears this narration with faith and devotion attains the treasure of love of God at the Lotus Feet of Sri Krishna.
Thank you very much.
Srila Madhavendra Puri ki jai.
Sri Sri Radha Gopinath ki jai.