The Pilgrimage to Brindában
With the coming of early autumn the Master’s mind turned to His pilgrimage. He secretly took counsel with Rámánanda and Swarup, saying, “If you two help me, I can visit Brindában. At night I shall quit my bed and escape by the forest path without taking a single attendant. If any one afterwards seeks to follow me, do you detain him, letting none depart. Mind not the sorrow. Be of good cheer and give me leave. If I leave you pleased, my way-faring will be happy.”
The two replied, “You are God and a free agent; you act your will, subject to none. But listen to one request of ours. You have just now said that our happiness would make you happy. Well, then, Sir, grant this our prayer. You must take a good Brahman with you. He will cook your food and carry your pots. In the forest path you will not meet with any Brahman whose cooking is fit to be eaten. Give us leave to send a Brahman along with you.”
The Master replied, “No, I shall take none of my own comrades with me. If I take one, the others will be grieved. Some sweet-souled stranger may be my companion. I can take one such if I can get him.” Swarup suggested, “Here is Balabhadra Bhattáchárya, tender to you, a scholar, a pious man and a gentleman. He had come from Bengal with you during your first advent. He wishes to visit all the tirthas. He has a Brahman servant; he will do your cooking on the way. We shall all be happy if you take him with you, as then you will feel no hardship in making your way through the forest. The Brahman servant will carry your cloth, water, and pots, while Bhattáchárya will cook your food.” The Master agreed to it and took Balabhadra Bhattáchárya with Him.
The night before, He visited Jagannáth and took the god’s leave, and before sunrise He slipped away unperceived. In the morning the bhaktas missed Him and ran about anxiously seeking Him. Swarup stopped them, and they stayed, knowing such to be the Master’s wish. Leaving the beaten track the Master took to by-paths, and passing by the left of Katak entered the jungle. In the lonely forest He fared forth, chanting Krishna’s name,—elephants and tigers moved away from the path at the sight of Him. In an ecstatic mood He passed through herds of tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses and boars. Bhattáchárya shrank in terror, but they stepped aside cowed by the Master’s power.
One day a tiger was lying across the path. The Master in abstraction trod on it and cried, “Speak Krishna’s name!” And lo! the tiger stood up and began to dance, while chanting Krishna! Krishna! Another day He was bathing in the river, when a herd of wild elephants came there to drink. They arrived before Him as He was offering the oblation of water. Bidding them repeat Krishna’s name He rushed sprinkling the water on them. Every elephant touched by that water shouted Krishna and danced and ran about in love. Some rolled on the ground, some bellowed, to the marvel of Bhattáchárya.
On the way the Master sang kirtan aloud. The deer flocked thither, drawn by His sweet voice, and marched with Him on two sides, while He patted their backs and playfully recited the verses, Bhágabat, X. xxi. 11. Just then six or seven tigers came up and joined the deer in accompanying the Master. The sight reminded the Master of Brindában and He recited the verses descriptive of the virtues of Brindában. Bhágabat, X. xiii. 55.
When the Master shouted “Chant Krishna’s name,” the deer and the tigers danced together (peacefully) shout ing Krishna! Krishna! a wonderful sight to Balabhadra Bhattáchárya. The tigers and deer embraced and kissed each other, the Master smiling at the fun of it. Leaving them there He went on. The peacock and other birds, on seeing Him, proceeded in His company singing Krishna! and dancing like mad. The Master shouted, ‘Say Hari!’ Trees and creepers rejoiced at the sound. To all the animate and inanimate things in the jungle of Chota Nagpur (Jhárikhand) He communicated the name of Krishna and maddened them with love. In every village that He passed through or halted in, all the men were filled with devotion. If one heard the name of Krishna from His lips, he spread it to a second, the second to a third, and so on. All chanted Krishna-Hari’s name, danced, wept, and laughed; from one to another the whole land became Vaishnav. Though for fear of drawing a crowd the Master concealed His devotion and gave no outward exhibition of it, yet the very sight of Him, the hearing of His words, and His power made all the people Vaishnpv. Travelling in Central Bengal, East Bengal, West Bengal, and Orissa, He had delivered the people there. Now, on the pretext of a pilgrimage to Mathura, He came to Jharikhand and saved the ruffianly bearish people by teaching them the faith that springs from Krishna’s name. The wood suggested Brindában, every hill looked like Govardhan, every river seemed to Him a Jamuna. There He danced in ecstasy, and fell down weeping.
Bhattáchárya gathered all green leaves, roots and fruits wherever he found them on the way. When they halted at a village, six or seven Brahmans would invite Him; one supplied Bhattáchárya with rice, another with milk, curds, ghee, or sugar. Where there was no Brahman inhabitant, all the Shudra merchants invited Bhattáchárya. He cooked the wild vegetables, which delighted the Master. He kept a store of rice to last for three or four days. In the lonely parts of the jungle, where there was no human habitation, Bhattáchárya cooked that rice with soup of wild vegetables. The picnic delighted the Master exceedingly and the solitude gratified Him. Bhattáchárya served Him as tenderly as a slave, his Brahman carrying the water-pot and clothing. Thrice daily He bathed in the hot springs, twice He warmed Himself by the fire, as fuel was abundant; ever did He move in solitude rapt in love. Feeling the bliss (of such a life) He said, “Much have I travelled, but nowhere have I found any trace of the (alleged) hardships of journeying in forests. Passing gracious has Krishna been to me: He has directed me to this forest path to give me varied delight. Previously when I had resolved to visit Brindában after seeing my mother, the Ganges and my bhaktas, and taking a party of my followers faith me, and with that aim went to Bengal, and after delighting myself with the sight of those dear ones, I set out joyfully with my followers, a million people joined me. Then Krishna instructed me through the mouth of Sanátan; He hindered that journey and brought me to this forest path. O Ocean of Mercy! gracious unto this humble wretch! There can be no pleasure without thy grace!” Then embracing Bhattáchárya He said, “All this pleasure have I through thy help.” But Bhattáchárya replied, “You are Krishna, you are the gracious one! I am a despicable being; you have taken pity on me; you have (deigned to) take me with you, and to eat food cooked by me. I am a wretch. But you have ennobled this crow to the rank of Garuda. You are God Himself, a free being!”
Thus did Balabhadra hymn the Master and please His mind by his loving service. Thus enjoying much bliss He reached Benares and bathed at noon at the Mani-Karnika ghát. Tapan Mishra was then bathing there, and felt some surprise on seeing the Master, as he had previously (only) heard of Chaitanya having turned hermit. When the recognition became certain, he was filled with rapture, and wept clasping the Master’s feet, but He raised and embraced him. The Mishra guided the Master to the temple of Vishweshwar and Bindu Madhav, and at last brought Him to his own house, where he served Him, danced (in ecstasy) with his garment fluttering, drank with his whole family the washings of the Master’s feet, fed Him, honoured Balabhadra Bhattáchárya, and arranged for his cooking.
After taking His meal the Master lay down, the Mishra’s son, Raghu, shampooing His feet. The Mishra family ate the leavings of the Master’s plate. Chandra-Shekhar, a scribe of the Vaidya caste, resident in Benares, a friend of the Mishra and a devotee of the Master, came there on hearing of His arrival. As he wept at His feet, Chaitanya lifted up and graciously embraced him. Chandra-Shekhar said, “Great is thy grace, Master that thou hast appeared to thy servant! At my first coming to Benares I used to hear nothing but the words ‘illusion’ (máyá) and Brahma. Here nothing was preached except expositions of the six systems of philosophy. Then the Mishra kindly told me of Krishna, and we two meditated ceaselessly on thy feet. Omniscient God! thou hast appeared to us. Let us both serve thee for some days before thou goest to Brindában, as we hear.” The Mishra added, “Master, during your stay at Kashi do not consent to dine anywhere except in my house.” Thus the Master, compelled by His two devotees, stayed there for some ten days against His will. A Maratha Brahman came to see Him, marvelled at His beauty and devotion, and invited Him, but He declined saying that He was already engaged for the day. With the same plea He put him off day after day in fear of some sannyasis joining His company.
Prakashánanda used to deliver public lectures on Vedánta to his many pupils. The Maratha Brahman, after having viewed the Master, described Him to Prakashánanda thus, “A sannyasi has come here from Jagannáth, whose glory and power I cannot adequately describe. Big of limbs, fair as the purest gold, long-armed, lotus-eyed, clad in all the marks of God-head, as one can see. O, marvel! The sight of Him convinces one that He is Náráyan. Whosoever beholds Him chants Krishna’s sankirtan. All the marks of a great bhágabat as described in the Bhágabat are evident in Him. Ever does His tongue sing Krishna’s name, His eyes run tears like the Ganges stream. Now He dances, now laughs, now sings and now weeps, or at times roars like the lion. The world’s benefactor is He, named Krishna-Chaitanya. His name, appearance, and virtues, all are matchless. To see Him is to know Him as fashioned in God’s mould. Hearing will not make one credit this marvellous tale.”
The philosopher laughed much and scoffed at the Brahman, saying, “I have heard that there is a sannyasi in Bengal, an emotionalist, a disciple of Keshav Bhárati and a fraud on the public. He is named Chaitanya, and with his emotional band he roams over the country dancing. Everyone who sees him calls him God. Such is his spell, all beholders are bewitched. I hear that the great scholar Sárvabhauma Bhattáchárya has turned mad in this Chaitanya’s company. He is a sannyasi in name only, but really a great wizard. But his stock in trade of sentimentality will not sell at Kashi! Attend to Vedánta; do not resort to him! The companionship of the wild man will ruin you in life and death.” Grieved at these words, the Maratha Brahman left the place appealing to Krishna. His mind having been purged by the Master’s sight, he came to Him and unfolded the tale of his sorrow. The Master smiled. The Brahman continued, “When I first mentioned you to him, he said that he knew you. When he uttered your name in the course of his abuse of you, he thrice used the form Chaitanya without adding Krishna! It grieved me to hear him speak your name in such a contemptuous manner. Tell me the reason of his conduct, for my lips uttered Krishna’s name as soon as I saw you.” The Master replied, “The philosophers who hold the doctrine of illusion sin against Krishna. They constantly prate about Brahma, Atma and Chaitanya, and cannot utter the name of Krishna, because that is equivalent to Krishna’s self. The name, the image, and the self of a god are all one; there is no distinction between them; the three are of the form of soul’s bliss (chidánanda). Between Krishna’s body and personality, between his name and Krishna himself there is no difference. In the case of creatures, no doubt, name, body, and personality are different from one another. Vide Hari-bhakti-vilas xi. 269.
“Therefore Krishna’s name, body, and action (vilás) cannot be comprehended by the natural senses; they manifest themselves. His name, qualities, and antics are the soul’s bliss (chidánanda) like Krishna’s own form. From delight in God comes the fuller pleasure of appreciating Krishna’s actions (lilá), which attract and conquer the spiritual man. Vide Bhágabat, XII. xii. 52.
“From delight in God comes the fuller pleasure (of relishing) Krishna’s merits, which attract the inmost spirit of the soul. Vide Bhágabat, I. vi. 10. Not to speak of Krishna’s feet, even the odour of the Tulsi plant captivates the inmost sense of the soul. Vide Bhágabat, III., xv. 43.
“Therefore does Krishna’s name fail to rise to his lips; the Illusionists are mere Phenomenalists. He has said that I have come to Kashi with a parcel of sentiments for which there is no customer here, and I must take it all back! Well, how shall I carry away this heavy load? I will sell it here even for a trifle!” So saying and making that Brahman His own, next morning He set out for Mathura. The three followed Him, but He sent them home from a distance. In His absence they used to meet together and sing His praise, mad with love. At Allahabad He bathed in the Triveni, and danced and sang in devotion before the image of Madhav. In rapture at the sight of the Jamuna, He jumped into it, but was hurriedly dragged out by Bhattáchárya. Three days He spent thus at Allahabad saving men by imparting to them the love and name of Krishna. On the way to Mathura wherever He halted, He made the people dance to Krishna’s loved name. He now made the people of the West Vaishnavs, as He had formerly done those of the South. Wherever He came to the Jamuna on the way, He leapt into it, senseless with love.
On approaching Mathura, He prostrated Himself in an ecstasy of devotion at the sight of the city. Here He bathed in the Vishram ghát, and bowed to Kesav’s image at the place of his nativity. He danced, sang, and shouted in rapture,—men marvelling at his fervour. One Brahman clasped His feet and then began to dance with Him over come with love. Both danced in rapture, embraced each other, and cried Hari! Krishna! with uplifted arms. The spectators shouted Hari! Hari!—there was a tumult; the attendant of the image garlanded the Master. Marvelling at the sight of the Master, the people said, “Such beauty and such devotion can never be human. Verily, He is the incarnation of Krishna, come to Mathura to save mankind, because at the sight of Him men are intoxicated with love and laugh weep dance and sing Krishna’s name!”
Then the Master took the Brahman apart and asked him secretly, “You are a Brahman, noble-minded, simple and old. Whence did you acquire such wealth of love?” The man replied, “When Madhavendra Puri came here on his travels, he was pleased to be my guest; he made me his disciple and ate of my cooking. That great soul revealed the (concealed) Gopal, who is worshipped at Govardhan to this day.” At this the Master touched his feet, but the Brahman in alarm fell down at the Master’s feet. The Master explained, “You are my guru, and I am almost a disciple to you. The guru should not bow to the disciple.” The Brahman in fear and surprise asked, “Why do you, a sannyasi, use such language? But stay! Your fervour makes me infer that you are connected with Madhavendra Puri [by the tie of initiation]. He was filled with love of Krishna: nowhere do we find even the savour of such love except jmong those connected with him.” Then Bhattáchárya explained the Master’s relation to the Puri, at which the Brahman began to dance in rapture. He conducted the Master to his own house, and of his own will served Him in many ways. He made Bhattáchárya cook the Master’s meal, but He smilingly said, “The Puri has dined with you. Do thou feed me. This is an instruction for me. Vide Gitá, iii. 21.”
Though the Brahman was a Sanoria, at whose house sannyasis do not dine, yet the Puri, drawn by his truly Vaishnav behaviour, had initiated and dined with him. Now that the Master begged to eat of his cooking, the Brahman humbly said, “Great is my fortune that I shall feast you. You are God, unfettered by rule and practice. But the ignorant will blame you, which I cannot bear to hear.” The Master answered, “The Shruti, the Smriti and all the sages are not of one opinion, but at variance with one another. The actions of good men are for confirming religion. The Puri’s action is the essence of that religion. Vide Ekádashi-tattwa, Vyas’s words:
‘Logical reasoning cannot establish our duty. The Shrutis are conflicting. Not a rishi whose views do not differ from those of others. The truth of religion is hidden in a cave. Follow therefore the path trodden by good men.'”
Then the Brahman feasted the Master, to see whom the citizens of Mathura came in lakhs. The Master appeared to them outside the house, and with uplifted arms cried “Chant Hari! Hari!” The men raised a shout of Hari! and danced mad with love. He bathed at the 24 gháts of the Jamuna, and was shown by that Brahman all the holy sites: Swayambhu, Vishram, Dirgha-Vishnu, Bhuteshwar, Mahavidya, Gokarna, &c.
Wishing to see the woods, He took the Brahman with Him and visited the Madhu-ban, the Tál-ban, Kumud and Bahulá, in all of which He sang in a fervour of love. The cows grazing by the way surrounded the Master with loud bellowings, but grew still at the sight of His over flowing devotion, and licked His limbs tenderly. When He became quiet, He rubbed their backs, and they would not leave Him as He advanced. The cowherds stopped them with great difficulty.
His voice drew to Him herds of deer, which gazed at His face, licked His body, and followed Him on the way without fear. The black-bird and the bee sang sweetly on seeing Him; the peacocks strutted dancing before Him. At His coming the trees and creepers of Brindában put forth sprouts (as if they were thrilled) and shed honey like tears. Branches laden with flowers and fruits, bowed to His feet, as friend hastens to greet friend with a present. At the sight of Him, the animate and inanimate things of Brindában rejoiced, as on meeting with their friend. Seeing their affection the rapt Master played with them all, over come by their influence. Each tree and creeper He embraced; in thought He offered every flower and fruit to Krishna. Weeping, trembling, shaken with love, He shouted, ‘Say Krishna! Krishna!’ The living and the inert shouted Krishna as if echoing His deep voice. Clasping the necks of the deer He wept, while the deer trembled and shed tears. The green parrot with its mate appeared on the branches, and on His wishing to hear their speech they flew on to His hand and recited verses in praise of Krishna. Vide Govinda-lilámrita, xiii. 29 &c.
Wonder and enthusiasm seized the Master at these words, and the birds flew back to the branch. Delighted He gazed at the dance of the peacocks, the neck of the bird reminding Him of Krishna, and He swooned away in rapture. The (local) Brahman and Bhattáchárya nursed Him, sprinkled Him with water and fanned Him with His cloth. Loudly they poured Krishna’s name into His ears, (at which) He awoke and rolled on the ground. The brambles of the rough jungle path scratched His limbs, but Bhattáchárya took Him in his lap to soothe Him. Krishna’s love had filled His mind, so He sprang up with the cry of “Chant! Chant!” and began to dance. Bhattáchárya and the (Mathura) Brahman sang Krishna’s name, while the Master wended His way dancing. The Brahman marvelled at the fervour of His love and grew concerned about His safety. His passion of devotion on the way to Brindában grew tenfold of what it had been at Puri; it increased a thousandfold on seeing Mathura, and a hundred thousand times when He roamed the woods of Brindában. When He was in other lands the mention of Brindában had caused His love to well out; and now He had actually come to that Brindában! His soul was steeped in love day and night, and He bathed and dined (unconsciously) as a matter of habit. [Text, canto 17.]
The Master’s doings at Brindában
Dancing thus the Master reached the village of Arith, where He suddenly recovered His senses. He asked the people about the Rádhá pool (kunda); but they knew it not, nor did the Brahman guide. But the omniscient discovered the hidden tirthas and bathed in shallow pools in two rice-fields. The villagers wondered at the spectacle. The Master began to praise the Radha pool in love: “Radha is dearest to Krishna among all the milk-maids. So is the Radha-kunda dear (to him) as the bathing-place of his darling. In this pool Krishna ever sported in the water with Radha and on the bank he dallied in the rása dance. Whosoever bathes once here gets from Krishna a love rivalling that of Radha. The pool is charming like Radha’s self; its glory is great like Radha’s.”
Recollecting Krishna’s acts in the pool, He danced in rapture on the bank, and painted His forehead with its mud. Bhattáchárya took a little of the mud. Next, the Master went to the Suman tank. At the sight of the Govardhan hill He was affected, prostrated Himself before it, and madly embraced a rock. In a frenzy of devotion He proceeded to the village of Govardhan, where he bowed to the god Hari-dev, the first incarnation of Náráyan, who dwelt on the western edge of Mathura. Before the god He danced in rapture, the people at the wondrous news flocking to see Him, and admiring His beauty and devotion. The attendant of the image entertained Him. Bhattacharya cooked in the Brahma-kunda and the Master bathed, dined, and passed the night in the temple. At night He cogitated, “No, I must not ascend Govardhan. How then can I get the sight of Gopal?” He remained silent over the matter, but Gopal knowing His mind, played a trick. The god Gopal was installed at Anna-kut, a village of the Rajputs. Some one informed the headman at night that the Turks were arming to sack the village, and so they should all flee at night with their god. The villagers in alarm first transferred Gopal to the Ganthuli village, where the god was worshipped in secret in a Brahman’s house. Then they all fled, leaving the village empty. Thus did Gopal migrate repeatedly in fear of the Muslims, being removed from temple to bower or to another village.
In the morning the Master after bathing in the Mánas Gangá, set out to walk round Govardhan. Moved to rapture at the sight of the hill, He advanced dancing and chanting the verses, Bhágabat, X. xxi. 18.
Bathing at the Govinda-kunda and other holy spots, He learnt that Gopal had gone to Ganthuli, whither He proceeded to see the god, before whom He danced and sang in a transport of devotion. Moved by Gopal’s beauty He recited a shloka and danced till the close of the day.
For three days did He view Gopal; on the fourth day Gopal came away with Him, as He walked singing and dancing, and went back to his former temple [on the hill], while the Master stayed at the foot of it. The people in delight cheered aloud Hari! Hari! Thus does the tender Gopal descend from the hill on some pretext, in order to show himself to the devotee who passionately longs to see him and yet declines to set foot upon Govardhan. Thus did he appear to Rup and Sanátan. When Rup was too old to walk and yet longed to see Gopal’s charms, the god took refuge for a month in the Vithaleshwar temple at Mathura in fear of the Muslims. Then Rup with his disciples saw him there for a month. [Rup’s disciples named]. After a month Gopal went back to his temple, while Rup returned to Brindában.
Then the Master visited the Kámya forest, and all other places in Brindában in the manner described before. Thence to Nandishwar, at the sight of whom He fell into an ecstasy. After bathing in the Pában and other pools, He climbed the hill and asked if there was any temple on the top. Being directed by the local people, He entered the cave and there beheld the image of the fair dancing Child between his robust parents. He bowed at the feet of Nanda and Yashodá, and in rapture touched all the limbs of the child Krishna. After dancing and singing there all day, He visited the Khadir wood, the Vishnu reposing on the Sesha Snake, Khelá-tirtha, the Bhándir wood, the Bhadra wood (across the Jamuna), the Shri-ban, the Ivauha-ban, the Mahá-ban, (the birth-place of Radha), where He beheld the site of the killing of Yamalárjun, to the over flowing of His love. After visiting Gokul He returned to Mathura. Here He stayed at that Brahman’s house, visiting Krishna’s birth-shrine; but He left Mathura on account of its press of people and dwelt in seclusion at Akrur-tirtha.
Another day He visited Brindában, bathed in the Kaliya lake and Praskandan. From the Twelve Suns (Dwádash Aditya) He went to the Kashi tirtha. At the place of rása He fainted away in love, and on recovering rolled on the ground, laughed, wept, danced, recited verses, and sang. In such deeds was the day spent there, in the evening He returned to Akrur for breakfast.
Next morning He bathed at the Chiraghát of Brindában, and rested under a very ancient tamarind tree of the age of Krishna’s exploits, with a smooth platform built round its trunk. Close by flowed the Jamuna; cool breezes blew; the water of the Jamuna gazed at the beauty of Brindában. After singing the holy names under the tamarind tree, the Master performed His noonday prayer and breakfasted at Akrur. The people of the village crowded in such numbers to see Him that He could not dance freely. So He came back to Brindában, and sitting apart sang the holy names till noon. In the third quarter of the day He appeared to the people and advised them all to make sankirtan of Krishna’s name.
Then arrived a Vaishnav, of the Rajput race, named Krishna-das, a householder living in a village on the other side of the Jamuna. After bathing in the Keshighát he was going to the Kali lake when he suddenly beheld a holy man sitting under the tamarind tree. Admiring the beauty and fervour of the Master, he bowed to Him in devotion. To the Master’s query as to who he was, he replied, “I am a miserable householder, a Rajput from across the river. I long to be servant to a Vaishnav. Last night in sleep I saw a vision which exactly agrees with you.” As the Master graciously embraced him, the Rajput mad with love danced crying Hari! Hari! He followed the Master at noon to the Akrur-tirtha and ate His leavings. Next morning he bore the Master’s water-pot [to Brindában] and kept His company, leaving his wife, children and home.
Everywhere men began to say that Krishna had again appeared at Brindában. One morning the citizens of Mathura were returning from Brindában with a great noise, when the Master met them and asked them whence they were coming. They replied, “Krishna has appeared in the water of the Káli-daha lake. He is dancing on the hood of the snake Káliya, whose jewel is flashing in the water. We have seen it with our own eyes. It is beyond doubt.” The Master smiled and remarked, “It is all very true.” Thus for three nights people flocked there, all saying on their return that they had beheld Krishna. When they said in the Master’s presence that they had seen Krishna, Saraswati indeed moved them to speak the truth, for in seeing Him they were beholding the true Krishna; while they were neglecting the real before their eyes in order to behold the unreal [apparition of Krishna in the lake]. When Bhattáchárya begged leave to behold Krishna there, the Master slapped him and said, “You are a learned man, and yet you have turned a fool, believing the story of fools! Why should Krishna appear in that lake? Fools in their delusion are making a fuss [about nothing]. Don’t lose your senses. Stay at home. To-morrow at night go and see Krishna.”
In the morning a quiet man came to the Master, and He asked him if he had seen Krishna. The man replied, “A fisherman was catching fish in the lake with a lamp in his boat. People seeing him from a distance mistook him for Krishna dancing on the snake; the boat was regarded as the snake’s hood, and the lamp as its crown-jewel! True, Krishna has come to Brindában, but it is not true that the people have seen him. Far from seeing him they are holding a false notion, just as an imbecile [sthánu] man takes things in a contrary light.” The Master asked, “Where have you seen Krishna?” The man replied, “You are a sannyasi a walking Náráyan. You have come to Brindában, as the incarnation of Krishna, to deliver all men by your appearance.” The Master invoked God in horror and cried, “Say not so! Never regard this, the humblest of creatures, as Krishna. A sannyasi is a particle of chit, a creature is like a single ray of light; but Krishna, full of all the six powers, is like the Sun. A creature and the Creator can never be equal, any more than a blazing fire and a solitary spark can be. The fool who speaks of a creature as equal to God is a sinner, destined to be punished by Yama.”
The man replied, “You have not the human mind. Your appearance and character are like Krishna’s. In form you resemble the Son of Braja’s lord; your bright complexion eclipses your yellow robe. The musk’s fragrance cannot be concealed even if it is tied up in a cloth; so too your Godly nature cannot be kept hidden. Supernatural is your character, your wisdom unfathomable, the sight of you has driven the world mad with the love of Krishna. Woman, child, old man, a Chandál, or even a Muslim,—whosoever once beholds you, dances madly, chanting Krishna’s name. He becomes a teacher unto others and converts the world. Not to speak of seeing you, the mere hearing of your name throws a man into a frenzy of devotion to Krishna and makes him a spiritual deliverer to all others. Your name sanctifies even Chandáls. Super human are your powers,—beyond description. Vide Bhágabat, III. xxxiii. 6. Such is your glory, you have the attributes of detachment. Your form and attributes prove you to be Krishna!”
The Master favoured these men, and they returned home wild with love. Thus did He stay a few days at Akrur, saving men by imparting to them the love of Krishna’s name. That disciple of Madhav Puri invited every householder in Mathura. The people of Mathura, Brahmans and good men, in parties of ten or twenty every day invited Bhattáchárya, who could accept only one of the invitations. The people, getting no opportunity of giving dinners, pressed that Brahman to accept their hospitality. Kanauji, Deccani, and Vaidik Brahmans all humbly asked the Master to dinner. They came to Akrur in the morning, cooked, offered the food to the Shálgrám, and fed the Master on it. One day, sitting on the Akrur ghát, the Master reflected, “Here did Aknir see Vaikuntha, and the people of Brindában got a view of heaven. So saying He jumped into the water; Krishna-das set up a loud lamentation; Bhattáchárya hurried there and dragged the Master out. Then he took secret counsel with the (local) Brahman, saying, “The Master was rescued only because I was at hand. But if He is drowned at Brindában who will save Him? Here we have crowds of visitors and the plague of invitation every day. It is not good for Him to be constantly in an ecstasy. The best plan would be to remove Him from Brindában.” The Brahman (host) replied, “Let us take Him to Prayág; we shall enjoy the journey along the bank of the Ganges. You should ask His consent to bathe in the Ganges at Soron and then start with Him by the same route. It is now the month of Mágh; if we start now, we shall reach Prayág in time for bathing during Capricorn. After saying something of your own sorrows, broach to him the request to lead you to Prayág during Capricorn. Tell Him also of the joy of following the bank of the Ganges.”
Then Bhattacharva besought the Master thus “I cannot bear this disturbance by the people. They worry me to accept their invitations. When people come in the morning and fail to find you, they plague me to death. I shall be happy if I follow the bank of the Ganges, and starting now reach Prayág in time for bathing in Capricorn. My mind is restless. I cannot bear [our life here]. I submit to whatever the Master may be pleased to command.” Though unwilling to leave Brindában, the Master, to gratify His bhakta, said sweetly, “Never shall I be able to repay my debt to you for your having escorted me to Brindában. I shall do your wish. Take me wherever you desire.”
In the morninq-He bathed and became overcome with devotion at the thought of leaving Brindában. Unconscious of the things outside, He fell into a trance of love. Bhattáchárya took Him in a boat across the river to Mahá-ban. The devoted Krishna-das and that Brahman knew the route along the Ganges. On the way He sat down under a tree with His party, in order to refresh them from fatigue. Many cows were grazing there, and the sight filled Him with delight. Suddenly a cowherd played on his flute, and at once rapture seized the Master; He fell down in a swoon, foaming at the mouth and His breathing stopped.
Just then ten Pathan cavalrymen arrived there, dismounted, and gazing at the Master jumped to the conclusion that His five companions were sharpers who had poisoned Him with dhuturá in order to rob Him of His gold. So they tied up the five and threatened to behead them. The Bengalis began to tremble; only the Rajput Krishna-das was fearless and that Brahman bold of speech. The Brahman cried out, Tathan! I appeal to your Padshah! Take me with you to the shikdar. This hermit is my guru; I am a Brahman of Mathura. I have a hundred acquaintances at the royal Court. This hermit has a disease which makes Him fall down in a fit. He will soon recover consciousness. Wait a little here. Keep us tied up. After inquiring of Him, slay us if we deserve. The Pathan replied, “You two are up-country men; here are three Bengali thugs quaking in fear.” Krishna-das said, “I live in this village, with 100 troopers and 200 bowmen under me. If I raise a shout they will come here, kill you, and take away your horses and accoutrement. The Bengalis are not sharpers. You are rogues, as you want to rob pilgrims and to kill them!” At this the Pathan hesitated. Just then the Master came to His senses, rose up with a shout of Hari! Hari! and danced in rapture with uplifted arms.
His devotional cry pierced the heart of the Muslim, who in fear released the five, so that the Master saw not the captivity of His followers. Bhattáchárya held and seated the Master, who became aware of the things around Him when He saw the Muslims. The Pathans bowed at His feat and charged the five with having poisoned Him with dhuturá. But He replied, “They are not thugs, but my companions. I am a begging hermit, with no wealth to be robbed. Occasionally I fall into epileptic fits, when these five kindly nurse me.” One of the Muslims, a grave man clad in black and called a Pin, was melted at heart on seeing the Master. He propounded monotheism and one common God, on the basis of his holy book (viz., the Quran). But the Master refuted all his propositions by arguments based on the Muslim scripture, till the man was silenced. The Master continued, “Your scripture establishes one common God [in the beginning] and refuting that theory sets up in the end a particular God, who is full of all powers, dark of hue, the embodiment of sat, chit and ananda, the perfect Spirit, the soul of all, all-pervading, eternal, the self of every thing, the source of creation life and destruction, the refuge of all universes whether gross or fine, the most excellent, adorable by all, the first cause of everything. Men are saved by faith in Him,, and freed from the bondage of the world only by serving Him. Delight in Him is the supreme human attainment, while salvation can give only a particle of that bliss. The highest beatitude comes only from serving His feet. After first insisting on work, knowledge and mental abstraction, these are then set aside and the service of God is laid down as the final duty. Your theologians have no knowledge of their own scriptures; they forget that where there are two injunctions, the latter is sronger. Decide after studying your own holy books, and see what is laid down as the final conclusion.”
The Muslim replied, “True are your words. Men cannot realize God as described in the scriptures. They discourse on the abstract God (Gosáin); nobody thinks of adoring the incarnate God. You are such, God’s own self. Have mercy on me, unworthy sinner! Much have I read, but cannot ascertain the sádhya and sádhan from the Muslim scriptures. At the sight of you my tongue utters Krishna’s name, and I have been cured of my proud confidence in my own knowledge. Tell me graciously what are sádhya and sádhan.” So saying he fell at the Master’s feet, who said, “Rise! In repeating Krishna’s name you have been washed pure from the sins of million births. Say Krishna! Krishna!” They chanted the name and were filled with rapture. The Master renamed him Rámdás.
There was another Pathan named Bijuli Khan, a young Prince and the master of Rámdás and other Pathan troopers. He too fell down at the Master’s feet, with the cry of Krishna! The Master touched his head with His toe, and went on His way. All the Pathans turned bairágis and were famous as “Pathan Vaishnavs.” They roamed everywhere singing the Master’s praise. The Bijuli Khan became a very spiritual person honoured in every tirtha.
At Soron He bathed in the Ganges and walked along the river bank to Prayág. When He dismissed the Mathura Brahman and Krishna-das, they begged with folded palms, “Let us follow you to Prayág. Where again shall we see your feet? It is a Muslim country, you may be oppressed anywhere. Your companion, Bhattáchárya, is a mere pandit and does not know how to address people.” The Master smilingly consented and they followed Him. Everyone who beheld Him turned frantic with love and sang sankirtan aloud. They communicated their faith to others, and these to others again, so that the whole land became Vaishnav, just as the Master had previously converted the South during His pilgrimage.
So walking He reached Prayág, where He bathed for ten days at the junction of the three rivers during the sun’s progress through Capricorn. [Text, canto 18.] (Source: “Chaitanya’s Life and Teachings”)