The Glories of West Bengal - Kalna, Part Three


By editor - 18.11 2016


Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Footprints at Kalna

A serial presentation of West Bengal kshetras, and the tirthas associated with Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His parishad associates.

As mentioned in previous segments, various pastimes that Lord Caitanya and His parishad associates shared in Ambika Kalna are recorded in the Bhakti-Ratnakara by Srila Narahari Dasa. Along with a description of Mahaprabhu's boat trip to Kalna, where he delivered His own handwritten Gita manuscript to Gauridasa Pandita, we also find an interesting reference to a Kalna pastime in which Mahaprabhu reminded Gauridasa Pandit of his identity during Vrindavan-lila.

"How can I describe the activities of Gauridasa Pandita who was always engaged in serving the two Lords.

Out of love Nitai and Caitanya once told Gauridasa smilingly, who can know your activities when you even do not know that you are always absorbed in love and devotion?

"O Suvala, my friend, can you remember your first life? Can you remember the great fun we had when we took the cows to the bank of the Jamuna?"

Saying this the deities turned themselves into Krsna and Balarama with black and fair complexions.

In that form they held the singa (horn), flute, cane, peacock feathers and ornaments. How beautiful they looked in the dress of cowherd boys.

Beholding their beauty, Gauridasa was overwhelmed with ecstatic joy.

Only by the will of the Lord could he regain his consciousness and therefore he stared steadily at the deities on the throne.

When the two Lords displayed their pastimes in this way Gauridasa experienced ecstatic love." 

(Bhakti-Ratnakara Chapter 7, Texts 358 to 366)

Of course, the friend Suvala that Mahaprabhu is referring to is none other than Subala sakha, the cowherd boy friend of Sri Krsna in Vraja. A few months ago, in our series on Krsna's Vrindavana Associates, we mentioned this pastime with Gauridasa Pandit while discussing the gopa Subala.

subalo yah priya-shreshthah sa gauridasa-panditah

"In Vraja, Gauri Das Pandit was Subala, one of the twelve Gopals. He is one of Nityananda Prabhu's dearest associates." 
(Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika 128)

In that article, we also presented some of Gauridas Pandit's family history, and the circumstances of his coming to Ambika Kalna:

Gauri Das's first residence was in the village known as Shaligram, not far from Muragacha. Later he moved to Ambika Kalna in Burdwan district, where his Sripat is extremely well known. His father's name was Kamsari Mishra and his mother was Kamala Devi. Kamsari Mishra belonged to the Vatsa gotra, and their family name was Ghoshal.

Gauri Das was the fourth of six sons. His three older brothers were named Damodar, Jagannath and Surya Das. Surya Das had the title sarakhela (military title, "commander," also used for estate managers) and gave his two daughters, Vasudha and Jahnava in marriage to Nityananda Prabhu. Gauri Das Pandit's younger brothers were named Krishna Das Sarkhel and Nrisingha Chaitanya.

"Sarkhel Surya Das Pandit was a very magnanimous person. His younger brother was named Gauri Das. Gauri Das Pandit took permission from his older brother before moving from Shaligram to Ambika." 
(Bhakti-ratnakara 7.330-1)

The Shrine housing Mahaprabhu's Footprints

There is another wonderful story about Mahaprabhu and Gauridas Pandita in Ambika Kalna. It is said that on the day that Mahaprabhu paddled across the Ganges to come to visit Gauridas, he sat under the tamarind tree. Gauridas asked for Mahaprabhu to stay permanently there in Ambika. In order to fulfill his devotee's desire, Mahaprabhu revealed that His form and that of Nityananda Prabhu were in a nearby neem tree. It is also said that when these Deities were being carved, Nityananda was physically present. Conquered by Gauridas's love for them, the Deities would physically eat everything that he offered to them.

When Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu were about to leave, Gauridas did everything in his power to hold them back. Mahaprabhu calmed him by saying, "Nityananda and I are directly present in these Forms. You can tell either the Deities to go, or we can leave. You choose." Naturally, Gauri Das chose the real Gaura-Nitai to stay and said that the Deities could leave. So this is what happened, demonstrating the truth of the Caitanya-caritamrita's statement:

nama vigraha Svarupa, ei tina eka-rupa 
tine bheda nahi tina cidananda-rupa

"These three, the name, the deity form and the original form of the Lord, are all one. No distinction should be made between them, for all three are of transcendental, spiritual substance." 
( Caitanya-caritamrita 17.131)

The tree that Lord Caitanya took rest beneath is still residing in Kalna. Known as Tentultala, or Amlitala, it is located at the Mahaprabhu Para, where the Lotus Footprints of Sri Caitanya are also found.

Tentultala – Lord Caitanya's Tamarind tree Kalna