By: Mahanidhi Swami

Two days before Ratha-yatra, all the devotees from Bengal arrived at the Gambhira in Jagannatha Puri. For the pleasure of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Raghava Pandita brought many bags of food that had been very nicely prepared and carefully packed by his sister, Damayanti. The bags of food that Damayanti lovingly made for Mahaprabhu have become famous throughout the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya as raghavera jhaali.

Damayanti made varieties of unparalleled food that were the favorites of Mahaprabhu, which the Lord relished continually for one year. The many tasty foods included a hundred varieties of condiments and pickles, various sweets from milk, cream and grains, rich tasty dishes from dried and flat rice. Because of her intense affection for Mahaprabhu, Damayanti thought that Gauranga might get indigestion from eating the heavy foods. So she also packed digestive aids in the bags, such as dried karela and other bitter vegetables known as sukutaa, which help digestion. Mahaprabhu derived more happiness from eating this sukutaa than from drinking pancamrta. Other digestive aids were small sweet balls made of dried ginger, and also one of powdered coriander and anise seeds. Damayanti ingeniously created an amazing digestive aid by drying, powdering and straining mud from the Ganga. Then she mixed in aromatic ingredients and rolled it into small balls.

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja sums Damayanti’s pure love offering by saying, “I could not mention the names of all these wonderful eatables, even in a lifetime. Damayanti made hundreds and thousands of varieties.”

This blissful spiritual festival, which is still celebrated in Jagannatha Puri every year two days before Ratha-yatra is called “Gaura Gambhira me Raghava Panditaji ka Jhaali Samarpana”.

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

By:Mahanidhi Swami

While Lord Jagannatha spent a fortnight in seclusion during His anavasara ceremony, Sri Caitanyadeva struggled with the most intense pangs of love in separation. Wrapped in Rādhā’s mahabhāva, Gaura felt one moment without Jagannatha Kṛṣṇa to be like four million years. One can only imagine how Mahaprabhu suffered without seeing His Prananatha for two long weeks. Even when Jagannatha Swami was granting daily darsana that was not enough to soothe the aching heart of Gauranga. Hence, every night Sri Caitanyadeva escaped from His tiny room at Gambhira to search for Sri Kṛṣṇa, hankering for His darsana.

Often late at night, Mahaprabhu ran to the Mandira hoping to get a glimpse of Jagannatha. Locked doors forced Gaura to climb the walls near Simha Dvara. Failing in His attempt, the golden Lord collapsed on the ground swooning in divine rapture. Sri Caitanyadeva, torn by the anguish of separation, then exhibited His extraordinary Kurma Caitanya rupa; arms and legs withdrawn into His torso, and head crunched down on His shoulders like a giant tortoise or pumpkin. This unique form of ecstasy in separation resembled the form of Lord Jagannatha.

Such astounding displays of divine love were occurring on a regular basis whenever Gauranga saw Lord Jagannatha. Now, it is inconceivable how, without any darsana whatsoever for two weeks, Sri Caitanyadeva survived in such an extremely tortuous state of misery. He could not, so Gauranga left Sri Ksetra, Purusottama Dhama, and walked twenty-four km. away to see Lord Ālālanātha. When Gauranga took darsana of Lord Alarnath, He did not see Him as Viṣṇu or Nārāyaṇa, but as Gopinatha Sri Kṛṣṇa, playing a flute. Sri Caitanyadeva’s ecstasy of seeing Lord Ālālanātha in this way has its parallel in a pastime of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Therefore devotees in the line of Sri Caitanyadeva consider Lord Ālālanātha to be two-armed Sri Kṛṣṇa.

By: Mahanidhi Swami

Let’s look at a pastime of Lord Gauranga from Caitanya-caritamrta. The story is about how Sivananda Sena, Lord Gauranga’s eternal associate, personally cared for and a loved a stray dog traveling with him on a yatra to Jagannatha Puri. The dog ran ahead to Puri, met Mahaprabhu, got the mercy and went to the spiritual sky.

Now let us compare Sivananda Sena’s liberal compassionate world view, which includes the welfare of a dog, with the modern men of this world. As you all know in the modern world we live in, most people don’t even care for the guy next door. They think “you live or die, let me live.” It’s a sad state of affairs but it’s a fact.

This Caitanya-caritamrta chapter contains many verses and pages describing Sivananda Sena’s lila with a lowly dirty dog. It’s all about love—pure love of dog. In America they have an interesting phrase which Srila Prabhupada liked, “Love me, love my dog.” This phrase means, if I love my friend, then I should love his brother, all his relatives, and everyone connected to him, even his pet dog. Here Sivananda Sena is practically showing that if you love Bhagavan, you love Bhagavan’s dog also!

That’s why Srila Prabhupada said Krishna consciousness is a perfect paradigm, the ideal world view. A Krishna devotee is truly an all-embracing, all-encompassing wholistic individual. Of course, the Krishna consciousness world view includes the happiness and welfare of all human beings on the planet. But unlike other world views or religious perspectives, Krishna consciousness also includes the happiness and welfare of dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, ants, whales, deer, trees, plants, and every living entity, along with care for the earth, air, water, ether and hearts of all human beings.

The Krishna conscious person cares about everyone’s happiness, welfare, comfort and peace of mind; and also the purity, harmony, balance, preservation and future of one and all and everything! Isn’t this the most all embracing, all-inclusive, love based, God-centered, wholistic and unified field world view conceivable? Certainly it is. We say, “Let everyone and everything be happy.” Moreover our scriptures say, vishvam purna sukhayate…”Let the whole universe be happy.”

The whole universe means the universe and everything in it. Let brother sky move purely. Let mother earth be happy. Don’t pollute mother earth. Let the sacred rivers and waters be happy, pure and flow freely. Don’t put dams up on the rivers. It is a great offense to the rivers. Rivers are meant to flow to their husband. The rivers are the wives of the ocean. The ocean is their husband. So you should never stop the flow of a woman’s love to her husband or prevent a woman from meeting her husband. As it is a pious activity to bring separated people together, it is a grave sinful activity to prevent people from meeting each other that are meant to meet.

So when one is Krishna conscious then everything is perfectly adjusted. The earth is happy, the air is happy, and the water and oceans are happy—thriving in the love light of the pure devotee’s heart. When devotees walk on the earth, mother Earth becomes thrilled. And when Sri Caitanya traversed the land, mother Earth felt so thrilled that her grass stood on end in ecstatic rapture. When Krishna walks the earth, not only does the grass stand straight in jubilation or exaltation but flowers bloom instantly. Lotus flowers! Wherever Krishna walks, mother Earth says, “O! Krishna’s feet are so soft and tender with many beautiful marks and radiant toenails; such a loving touch and caress.” Bhumi Mata feels so thrilled from the core of her heart and she responds by blossoming forth flowers at every step that Krishna takes.

If there is a Krishna devotee in charge of the government, then guaranteed there will be pure air, pure water, pure land, pure food, pure behavior, pure environment, and most importantly pure minds, hearts and dealings. All will experience peace, happiness and fulfillment in loving and realizing God. Pure dealings means love, appreciation, generosity, peace, harmony, health and joy. All will live happily. All will eat sufficiently. All will prosper. All will be fulfilled—thy kingdom come, thy will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. There will truly be the kingdom of God on earth. Sometimes we see phrases like ‘Heaven on earth,’ but it is only a phrase, a reality no one has ever seen.

This story of Sivananda Sena illustrates the Krishna conception and its practical application. It really happened and can happen today. He really loved the dog so much that he spent his own hard earned money on a stray dog. He even paid the tax for the dog to cross the river. Because he knew that if the dog associates with Vaisnavas, he will greatly benefit. If the dog moves with the devotees, he will hear sankirtana and wag his tail and dance along in his own way. Unknowingly just by hearing harinama sankirtana, the dog’s mind will become purified. He will get the remnants from the Vaisnavas. And by that the dog will become a human being in his next life. Just see the incredible power of Krishna love.

A loving devotee wants to help and give Krishna’s love to everyone and everything he contacts. Let everyone be benefited. Let everyone improve. Let everyone rise. Let everyone grow. No stifling. No suffocation. No destruction. No degradation. No diminishing. Let everyone expand. Let everyone grow, love freely, be happy and fulfilled. Let everyone thrive and prosper. This is the beautiful heart and the vision of a devotee who loves and lives in the Krishna conscious world view.

Sivananda Sena is opening our tightly close-fisted hearts, and softening our very stiff brains so that we can understand what is the Krishna conception. Because without hearing about Krishna conscious behavior and without seeing examples of it, we will never know what it is. We say Krishna consciousness! Ok, what is it is? Is it a phrase, a jargon, or a product we market? What is Krsna consciousness? Where is it found or seen? How is it applied? What does it mean? How is it expressed? How is it felt? How does it interface with the world? And how does it impact on others, as they say? So this story is marvelous and it has a miraculous ending.

This loved and cared for dog ran to Puri and met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu even before Sivananda Sena arrived. Like His devotee Sivananda, Sriman Mahaprabhu also extended his love and care to that dog by hand-feeding it coconut pulp. The dog ate, chanted and danced near the Lord. Then amazingly the next day, the dog went to the spiritual world. In the Chaitanya Caritamrta, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja said by receiving the love and care of a Vaisnava and Lord Gauranga that dog got his siddha-deha, spiritual body, and attained the perfection of life. This is the result of a devotee’s true love.

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Gauranga Mahaprabhu ki jai!

Sivananda Sena ki jai!

Saubhagyavan Bhakta Dog ki jai!