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Gambhira Leela

In The Mood Of Shrimati Radharani


Kashi Mishra’s mansion, also known as Radha Kanta Matha is situated to south east of the Jagannatha temple in Bali Sahi, on the way to Swargadwara. This place had become Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s ashram. Thousands of devotees used to flock to that place. But they were unable to see Mahaprabhu as he had confined himself to a small, isolated room in one corner of the house. Only a few of his close associates were allowed entry into that room. This inner chamber of the house was known as ‘Gambhira’. Gambhira holds testimony to the last twelve years of Mahaprabhu’s leela which were the most intense, surreal and awe inspiring. After accepting his sanyas, Mahaprabhu shifted to Puri. Following the sanyas dharma, he toured the holy places covering Vrindavan and South India, and returned to Puri. Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya requested the king for a peaceful and solitary place for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. King Prataprudra Deva considered Kashi Mishra’s house to be ideal, exactly what he required – adjacent to the Jagannath Temple, secluded, quiet and serene. During his stay in Gambhira, Mahaprabhu was so overwhelmed with the feeling of separation from Sri Krishna that he exhibited the highest symbols of devotional ecstasy. During this period Raya Ramananda and Swaroop Damodara were constantly beside him while Govinda served and guarded him. Mahaprabhu’s condition was similar to the Gopis of Vrindavan who were devastated after Sri Krishna left for Mathura.

Sri Radhikar kasta jatha Uddhava darshane

Sei mata dasha prabhura haya ratra dine

Nirantara haya prabhura biraha unmada

Bhramamaya chest asada pralapamaya bada

- Chaitanya Charitamrita

(Mahaprabhu felt intense pangs of separation the same way Uddhava witnessed Radharani lament after Sri Krishna left for Mathura. Weeping uncontrollably, filled with anxiety, extreme sorrow, Mahaprabhu would at times wail with uncontrollable pain and fall down on the floor unconscious.)

When Mahaprabhu displayed such ecstatic emotions, Raya Ramananda and Swaroop Damodara recited various verses from the scriptures and works of Chandidas, Bilvamangala and Jayadeva Goswami to calm him, pacify his impassioned heart and bring him back to the present. Sometimes listening to the Radha Krishna Leela, Mahaprabhu would be transported to those times. In the mood of Radha, Mahaprabhu used to undergo intense pain of separation from Krishna and fall to the ground crying. As they talked of Krishna, Swaroopa Damodara would sing songs suitable for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's transcendental emotions. Ramananda Raya would quote verses from the books of Vidyapati, Chaṇḍidasa, and from the Gita-Govinda by Jayadeva, to complement the ecstasy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Once Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu passed half the night experiencing a variety of emotions. Finally, after making the Lord lie down on his bed, both Swaroopa Damodara and Ramananda Raya returned to their homes. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's personal servant, Govinda, lay down at the door of his room, and the Lord very loudly chanted Krishna’s name all night. Mahaprabhu was chanting out loud when suddenly he heard the divine flute of Krishna. He ran out in a trance and fell down unconscious in front of Singhadwar. Govinda became alert when he couldn’t hear any noise from inside. He pushed open the door and was shocked to see the empty room. Mahaprabhu had escaped his room that was secured with three locked doors. Govinda lighted a lamp and started searching for Mahaprabhu. Swaroop Damodara and other devotees were alerted and a frantic search began. When they arrived at Singhadwar they saw the body of Mahaprabhu lying there.

petera bhitara hasta pada kurmera akara

mukhe phena, pulakanga, netre asru dhara

-Chaitanya Charitamrita

(His arms and legs had entered the trunk of His body, exactly like those of a tortoise. His mouth was foaming, there were eruptions on His body, and tears flowed from His eyes.)

The devotees tried to bring back the consciousness of Mahaprabhu by various means but were unsuccessful. So, they lifted him and brought him back to Gambhira. They then surrounded him and started to sing sankirtana, chant loudly. Slowly Mahaprabhu regained his consciousness. His arms and legs slowly came out of his body and he became normal.

Another day Mahaprabhu was wandering near the aai tota temple, when he saw the sea. Seeing the high waves of the sea glistening brightly in the shinning rays of the moon, he mistook it to be the water of river Yamuna. Visualising his friends playing in the water, he ran and jumped into the sea. Falling into the sea, he lost consciousness without idea where he was carried by the waves. Sometimes he sunk beneath the waves and at other times floated in the water. The waves carried him all over like a piece of dry wood. Meanwhile all the devotees headed by Swaroop Damodara panicked when they came to know that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had gone missing. They searched for him everywhere, even the sea beach but couldn’t find him. Everyone was silent, overwhelmed with grief, expecting the worst. They were devastated, wandering here and there still looking for Mahaprabhu.

While they were walking along the beach, they saw a fisherman approaching with his net with a heavy load over his shoulder. Laughing, crying, dancing and singing, he kept repeating the holy name, "Hari, Hari." Everyone was astonished seeing the fisherman. Swaroop Damodara asked him the reason behind such behaviour. The fisherman replied that there was not a single soul around when he came to cast his net in the sea. The net captured something very heavy and it was very difficult for him to drag it to the shore. He thought it to be a big fish but found out that it was a corpse. He tried to release the body but as soon as he touched it, a ghost entered his heart. He got goosebumps, tears started to flow and his body shivered. He didn’t know if it was the body of a pure brahmana. But anyone who touched the corpse invited the ghost into his own body. When enquired, the fisherman confirmed that this corpse was not Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's but a ghost who was very long, five to seven cubits. Each of its arms and legs was as much as three cubits long. Swaroop Damodar understood he was none other than Mahaprabhu and asked the fisherman to show him the corpse. The devotees were stunned looking at him.

eka eka hasta-pada dirgha tina tina hata

asthi-granthi bhinna, carma ache matra tata

hasta, pada, griva, kaṭi, asthi sandhi yata eka eka vitasti bhinna hanache tata

- Chaitanya Charitamrita

(Each of his arms and legs had become three cubits long; only skin connected the separated joints. The Lord’s body temperature, indicating life, was very low. All the joints in his arms, legs, neck and waist were separated by at least six inches.)

The devotees knew that the only way to bring back Mahaprabhu was to chant Sri Krishna's name. So, they got together and did sankirtana, loudly chanting the holy name into Mahaprabhu's ear. After sometime, Mahaprabhu woke up and as soon as he got up, his bones assumed their proper places. Semi conscious, the Lord looked here and there.

Mahaprabhu was constantly reminiscing the Vrij Leela and Sri Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan. Govardhan is one of his most beautiful and favourite place, leela sthali of Sri Krishna. One day, deep in thoughts of Govardhana Leela, Mahaprabhu was walking towards the sea when he saw the ‘Chataka Parvata’. This parvat reminded him of Govardhan. He went into a trance thinking that he was in Vrindavan and the hill was Govardhan. Govinda, his personal servant always followed him like a shadow. Mahaprabhu’s thoughts and feelings were always transported to Vrij Bhumi and because of the unfathomable separation felt by him, most of the times he underwent bodily transformations and fell down unconscious. That day Govinda observed that Mahparabhu’s pace quickened and he started walking fast, almost running towards chataka parvat like a mad man, singing the verse from Srimad Bhagavatam in praise the Govardhan hill. Govinda also started running after him, shouting and calling him loudly. People around, hearing the shouts, joined Govinda. Mahaprabhu who was running, suddenly stood still like a pillar. He couldn’t walk any more. All the pores of his body enlarged like pimples and his body hair stood on their ends. He started perspiring profusely and tears rolled down his eyes incessantly. His body started to shiver and turned white like a conch shell. He stood there awestruck and could manage only a gurgling sound. Before Govinda could arrive he fell down on the ground unconscious. Govinda sprinkled water on him and fanned him with his garment. The devotees looked at all his bodily transformations in wonder and Hari Naam sankirtana brought Mahaprabhu back to his senses.

In the last twelve years of his stay at Gambhira, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was immersed in the mood of Radharani. The pain of her suffering being separated from Sri Krishna was visible in him. He was like the gopis, who being impelled by indescribable feelings of separation from Krishna, heard the sound of Krishna's flute and overjoyed began to describe Krishna’s beauty and embrace each other thinking the other to be Krishna. For Mahaprabhu, the stone walls of Gambhira was Vrindavan, the sea was Yamuna, and Chataka Parvat was Govardhan. Always absorbed in hearing, chanting and remembering, he forgot this world completely.

na gaṇi apana-duḥkha, sabe vanchi tanra sukha, tanra sukha amara tatparya more yadi diya duḥkha, tanra haila maha-sukha, sei duḥkha mora sukha-varya

- Chaitanya Charitamrita

(I do not mind my personal distress. I only wish for the happiness of Kṛiṣhṇa, for His happiness is the goal of my life. However, if He feels greater happiness in giving me distress, that distress is the best of my happiness.)

Inspired by Krishnapriya Mohanty's 'Gambhira Leela'

Gambhira, Bali Sahi, Puri

Image credit: Sri Rabinarayan Das

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