The Festival of Jagannath Mishra
BY: SUN STAFF
Anandotsava, the Festival of Jagannath Mishra, is observed on March 13th.
The Festival of Jagannath Mishra is an observance of the Jata karma samskara for baby Nimai (Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu). Following the fast for Gaura Purnima, which is broken upon the rising of the moon, the next day is held for feasting. On Jagannath Mishra festival day, the devotees meditate upon the Jata karman ceremony.
Jagannath Mishra was born in the village of South Dhaka in Sylhet (Sylhet). His grandfather, Madhu Mishra, had four sons: Upendra, Rangada, Kirtida, and Kirtivasa. His father and mother, Upendra Mishra and Kalavati, had seven sons: Kamsari, Paramananda, Padmanabha, Sarveshvara, Jagannath Mishra, Janardana and Trailokyanath. (Prema-vilasa, 24). According to the Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, Upendra was Krishna's grandfather, the cowherd Parjanya, while Jagannath was Nanda Maharaj in Krishna's Vraja pastimes (Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika 37). Nanda or Jagannath were, in Krishna's various appearances, Kashyapa, Dasharath, Sutapa and Vasudeva. The king of Vraja has become Chaitanya's father, Jagannath; the queen of Vraja is his mother Sachi. The son of Nanda is Chaitanya Gosai, and Baladeva is his brother Nityananda.
In the Chaitanya-caritamrita, it is also stated that Jagannath Mishra was also known by his title Purandara, which is an epithet of Indra. His wife's name was Sachidevi. Sachi's father was Nilambara Cakravarti.
( Chaitanya-caritamrita Adi, 13.59-60)
At first, eight baby girls were born to Jagannath and Sachi, but each of them died at birth. Jagannath then performed a special ceremony to have a son, and not long afterward a boy, Vishvarupa, was born. Vishvarupa is a manifestation of Baladeva and belongs to the same ontological category that is named Sankarshan in the spiritual world. At the age of 12, Vishvarupa took sannyasa, adopting the name Shankararanya. He departed in the year 1509 in Pandharpur, in the Solapur district of Maharashtra.
Jagannath Mishra and Sachidevi are eternally liberated companions of Krishna; thus, it is clear that their heart and body are made of pure goodness or the shuddha-sattva. Another name for pure goodness is vasudeva. Krishna is named Vasudeva because he takes pleasure in the spiritual nature and makes his appearance through pure goodness or vasudeva.
Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates
Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 14.5-20
laukikim api tam isa-
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the childhood pastimes of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Lord Krsna Himself. Although such pastimes appear exactly like those of an ordinary child, they should be understood as various pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In the Bhagavad-gita (9.11) this statement is confirmed as follows:
avajananti mam mudha
manusim tanum asritam
param bhavam ajananto
"Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be." To execute His pastimes, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears on this planet or within this universe like an ordinary human being or human child, yet He maintains His superiority as the Supreme Lord. Lord Krsna appeared as a human child, but His uncommon activities, even in His childhood--like the killing of the demon Putana or lifting of Govardana Hill--were not the engagements of an ordinary child. Similarly, although the pastimes of Lord Caitanya, as they will be described in this chapter, appear like the activities of a small boy, they are uncommon pastimes impossible for an ordinary human child to execute.
balya-lilaya age prabhura uttana sayana
pita-mataya dekhaila cihna carana
In His first childhood pastimes the Lord turned upside down while lying on His bed, and thus He showed His parents the marks of His lotus feet.
The word uttana is also used to mean "lying down on the bed face upwards" or "lying down flat on the bed." In some readings the word is utthana, which means "standing up." In His childhood pastimes the Lord tried to catch the wall and stand up, but as an ordinary child falls down, so the Lord also fell down and again took to lying on His bed.
grhe dui jana dekhi laghupada-cihna
tahe sobhe dhvaja, vajra, sankha, cakra, mina
When the Lord tried to walk, in His small footprints the specific marks of Lord Visnu were visible, namely, the flag, thunderbolt, conchshell, disc and fish.
dekhiya donhara citte janmila vismaya
kara pada-cihna ghare, na paya niscaya
Seeing all these marks, neither His father nor His mother could understand whose footprints they were. Thus struck with wonder, they could not understand how those marks could be possible in their home.
misra kahe,----balagopala ache sila-sange
tenho murti hana ghare khele, jani, range
Jagannatha Misra said, "Certainly child Krsna is with the salagrama-sila. Taking His childhood form, He is playing within the room."
When the form of the Lord is carved from wood, stone or any other element, it is to be understood that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is there. Even logically we can understand that all material elements are expansions of the energy of the Lord. Since the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is nondifferent from His personal body, the Lord is always present in His energy, and He manifests Himself on account of the ardent desire of a devotee. Since the Lord is supremely powerful, it is logical that He can manifest Himself in His energy. Deity worship or worship of the salagrama-sila is not idol worship. The Deity of the Lord in the house of a pure devotee can act exactly as He can in His original transcendental personality.
sei ksane jagi' nimai karaye krandana
anke lana saci tanre piyaila stana
While mother Saci and Jagannatha Misra were talking, the child Nimai woke up and began to cry, and mother Saci took Him on her lap and allowed Him to suck her breast.
stana piyaite putrera carana dekhila
sei cihna paye dekhi' misre bolaila
While mother Saci was feeding the child from her breast, she saw on His lotus feet all the marks that were visible on the floor of the room, and she called for Jagannatha Misra.
dekhiya misrera ha-ila anandita mati
gupte bolaila nilambara cakravarti
When Jagannatha Misra saw the wonderful marks on the sole of his son, he became very joyful and privately called for Nilambara Cakravarti.
cihna dekhi' cakravarti balena hasiya
lagna gani' purve ami rakhiyachi likhiya
When Nilambara Cakravarti saw those marks, he smilingly said, "Formerly I ascertained all this by astrological calculation and noted it in writing.
ei sisu ange dekhi se saba laksana
"There are thirty-two bodily marks that symptomize a great personality, and I see all those marks on the body of this child.
"'There are thirty-two bodily symptoms of a great personality: five of his bodily parts are large, five fine, seven reddish, six raised, three small, three broad and three grave.'
The five large parts are the nose, arms, chin, eyes and knees. The five fine parts are the skin, fingertips, teeth, hair on the body and hair on the head. The seven reddish parts are the eyes, soles, palms, palate, nails, and upper and lower lips. The six raised parts are the chest, shoulders, nails, nose, waist and mouth. The three small parts are the neck, thighs and male organ. The three broad parts are the waist, forehead and chest. The three grave parts are the navel, voice and existence. Altogether these are the thirty-two symptoms of a great personality. This is a quotation from the Samudrika.
narayanera cihna-yukta sri-hasta carana
ei sisu sarva loke karibe tarana
"This baby has all the symptoms of Lord Narayana on His palms and soles. He will be able to deliver all the three worlds.
ei ta' karibe vaisnava-dharmera pracara
iha haite habe dui kulera nistara
"This child will preach the Vaisnava cult and deliver both His maternal and paternal families.
Only Narayana Himself or His bona fide representative can preach the cult of Vaisnavism, or devotional service. When a Vaisnava is born, he delivers both his maternal and paternal families simultaneously.
mahotsava kara, saba bolaha brahmana
aji dina bhala,----kariba nama-karana
"I propose to perform a name-giving ceremony. We should observe a festival and call for the brahmanas because today is very auspicious.
It is a Vedic principle to observe a festival in connection with Narayana and brahmanas. Giving a child a particular name is among the purificatory processes known as dasa-vidha-samskara, and on the day of such a ceremony one should observe a festival by worshiping Narayana and distributing prasada, chiefly among the brahmanas.
When Nilambara Cakravarti, Sacimata and Jagannatha Misra understood from the marks on the Lord's lotus feet that the child Nimai was not an ordinary child but an incarnation of Narayana, they decided that on that very same day, which was very auspicious, they should observe a festival for His name-giving ceremony. In this connection we can particularly see how an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is ascertained by His bodily symptoms, His activities and the prediction of the sastras. By factual evidence a person can be accepted as an incarnation of God, not whimsically or by the votes of rascals and fools. There have been many imitation incarnations in Bengal since the appearance of Lord Caitanya, but any impartial devotee or learned man can understand that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was accepted as an incarnation of Krsna not on the basis of popular votes but by evidence from the sastras and bona fide scholars. It was not ordinary men who accepted Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the beginning His identity was ascertained by learned scholars like Nilambara Cakravarti, and later all His activities were confirmed by the six Gosvamis, especially Srila Jiva Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami, and many other learned scholars, with evidence from the sastra. An incarnation of God is such from the very beginning of His life. It is not that by performing meditation one can become an incarnation of God all of a sudden. Such false incarnations are meant for fools and rascals, not sane men.
sarva-lokera karibe ihan dharana, posana
'visvambhara' nama ihara,----ei ta' karana
"In the future this child will protect and maintain all the world. For this reason He is to be called Visvambhara."
The Caitanya-bhagavata also confirms that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, by His birth, has made the whole world peaceful, as in the past Narayana protected this earth in His incarnation as Varaha. Because of His protecting and maintaining this world in the present Kali-yuga, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Visvambhara, which refers to one who feeds the entire world. The movement inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He was present five hundred years ago is again being propagated all over the world, and factually we are seeing its practical results. People are being saved, protected and maintained by this Hare Krsna movement. Thousands of followers, especially Western youths, are taking part in this Hare Krsna movement, and how safe and happy they feel can be understood from the expressions of gratitude in their hundreds and thousands of letters. The name Visvambhara is also mentioned in the Atharva-veda-samhita (22.214.171.124): visvambhara visvena ma bharasa pahi svaha.
suni' saci-misrera mane ananda badila
brahmana-brahmani ani' mahotsava kaila
After hearing Nilambara Cakravarti's prediction, Sacimata and Jagannatha Misra observed the name-giving festival in great joy, inviting all the brahmanas and their wives.
It is the Vedic system to observe all kinds of festivals, including birthday festivals, marriage festivals, name-giving festivals and festivals marking the beginning of education, by especially inviting brahmanas. In every festival the brahmanas are to be fed first, and when the brahmanas are pleased they bless the festival by chanting Vedic mantras or the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust