Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 4

BY: SUN STAFF - 17.6 2020

Saci Mata's Offering to Mahaprabhu

One geographic feature of Bengal's landscape is known around the world: its vast river system. There are two main rivers which represent the heart of Bengal: the Ganges and the Padma. These two holy rivers are mentioned in many literary compositions, in both ancient and modern literature.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu enacted many lila pastimes in association with both the Ganges and Padma rivers, and we will cover a number of these lilas in the segments to come. Today, we begin to discuss His Ganges pastimes.

In Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila, the transcendental nature of the Ganges is disclosed:

'dāru-brahma'-rūpe — sākṣāt śrī-puruṣottama
bhāgīrathī hana sākṣāt 'jala-brahma'-sama

"Lord Jagannātha is the Supreme Lord Himself in the form of wood, and the river Ganges is the Supreme Lord Himself in the form of water.

In the Bhaktivedanta Purport, Srila Prabhupada explains:

"Kṛṣṇa is spread throughout the whole universe in His impersonal form. Since everything is a manifestation of the Lord's energy, the Lord can manifest Himself through any energy. In this age, the Lord is manifest through wood as Lord Jagannātha, and He is manifest through water as the river Ganges. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu ordered the two brothers — Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya and Vidyā-vācaspati — to worship Lord Jagannātha and the river Ganges."
(Cc Madhya lila 15.135)

Later in Madhya lila, explaining how the tapasvīs give up their severe austerities and penances when they come in contact with a devotee, and instead take up devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa's, we read (from SB 4.21.31):

yat-pāda-sevābhirucis tapasvinām
aśeṣa-janmopacitaṁ malaṁ dhiyaḥ
sadyaḥ kṣiṇoty anv-aham edhatī satī
yathā padāṅguṣṭha-viniḥsṛtā sarit

"The taste for loving service is like the water of the river Ganges, which flows from the feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Every day that taste diminishes the results of sinful activities acquired over a period of many births by those who perform austerities."
(Cc Madhya lila 24.217)

In His lila as a devotee, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself takes shelter of the Holy Ganges. In one pastime, His travel plans having been repeatedly derailed by Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya and Rāmānanda Rāya, who had played various tricks to keep Him in their midst, the Lord finally implored them sweetly to give Him leave:

gauḍa-deśe haya mora 'dui samāśraya'
'jananī' 'jāhnavī', — ei dui dayāmaya

"In Bengal I have two shelters — My mother and the river Ganges. Both of them are very merciful.

gauḍa-deśa diyā yāba tāṅ-sabā dekhiyā
tumi duṅhe ājñā deha' parasanna hañā

"I shall go to Vṛndāvana through Bengal and see both My mother and the river Ganges. Now would you two be pleased to give Me permission?"
(Cc Madhya lila 16.90-91)

At their wishes, the Lord waited until the rainy season had passed, then He departed on the journey to see His mother Saci, and Mother Ganga.