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Srimati Gangamata Gosvamini Appearance

Today is the appearance day of Ganga-devi, Ganga-dashahara. On this day, Gurudeva would narrate pastimes about Ganga and Gangamata Gosvamini. Gangamata Gosvamini was a beautiful girl in East Bengal formerly named Shachi-devi, and she was the daughter of the King of Putiya. From the beginning of her life she heard about Lord Krishna and from that time onward she gave her entire heart to Him. (Note: She is a different personality to the mother of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu)

When Gangamata Gosvamini’s parents had left their bodies she took responsibility for all the duties of the royal household since she was very intelligent and full of good qualities, though later she put all the responsibilities of the kingdom in the hands of her ministers and went to Jagannatha Puri. After she visited Jagannatha Puri she went to Vraja-dhama.

So when she came to Vraja-dhama, she had the good fortune to have the darshana of a great devotee, Haridasa Pandita Gosvami whom she met on the banks of Radha-kunda. Her mind was always so absorbed with Nityananda Prabhu and Gauranga and in Chaitanya-charitamrita, the name of Haridasa Pandita is mentioned:

paṇḍita-gosāñira śiṣya — ananta ācārya

kṛṣṇa-premamaya-tanu, udāra, sarva-ārya

tāṅhāra ananta guṇa ke karu prakāśa

tāṅra priya śiṣya iṅha — paṇḍita haridāsa

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi-lila 8.59-60)

[Ananta Acharya was a disciple of Gadadhara Pandita. His body was always absorbed in the love of Godhead. He was magnanimous and advanced in all respects.

Ananta Acharya was a reservoir of all good qualities. No one can estimate how great he was. Pandita Haridasa was his beloved disciple.]

In our guru-disciplic succession, there is Gadadhara Pandita, who is an expansion of Radharani. And Gadadhara Pandita’s shishya is Ananta Acharya, and Ananta Acharya’s disciple is Pandita Haridasa. So, we have to accept this guru-parampara. In this verse, everything is clarified:

paṇḍita-gosāñira śiṣya — ananta ācārya

kṛṣṇa-premamaya-tanu, udāra, sarva-ārya

tāṅhāra ananta guṇa ke karu prakāśa

tāṅra priya śiṣya iṅha — paṇḍita haridāsa

Thus after the meeting, Shachi-devi prayed to Pandita Haridasa to receive diksha-mantras, etc. However, since she was born in a royal dynasty and was so beautiful, he decided to test her by saying, “Look, you should stay at home and take care of your kingdom, just like one is residing in Vrindavana. Also, performing bhajana and sadhana is not so easy, especially for women.”

So now Shachi-devi was expressing her sorrow as she had one-pointed nishtha, firmness and faith, towards her bhajana. Hence, she said, “No, I have to perform bhajana here.” Therefore, in this way, she received diksha from Haridasa Pandita and began performing bhajana on the banks of Radha-kunda alongside one of Haridasa Pandita’s disciples named Lakshmi-priya. In the scriptures it is prescribed that a lady should not live alone, and she should also perform bhajana under the guidance of someone at all times in her life. That is, she should perform bhajana at her home. As a child she should perform her bhajanа under the guidance of parents, during her youthfulness under the guidance of her husband, and during old age under the guidance of her son, putra.

So, there was one elderly lady named Laskhmi-priya who was staying with Shachi-devi. Laskhmi-priya chanted three lakhs of nama per day, just like Haridasa Thakura. If you recall, she is a senior disciple of a highly qualified guru, Haridasa Pandita. In this way, Shachi-devi performed bhajana under her guidance in Radha-kunda.

On a daily basis, Shachi-devi also chanted three lakhs of nama, showing her nishtha and prema for it. Her way of living was an embodiment of tyaga (sacrifice) and vairagya (renunciation). Despite being a raja-kumari, a princess, she displayed many acts of detachment. Everyday, she did Govardhana parikrama, and she strictly followed all the rules and regulations and chanted the gopala-mantra as prescribed.

Years passed and after some time her guru, Haridasa Pandita, gave her an order, “You must go to Puri-dhama to the place where Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya lived.” Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya had lived in Shveta Ganga. Haridasa Pandita continued, “The building of that place has been destroyed and it is now your responsibility to renovate it.” Hence, her Gurudeva instructed her to go to Jagannatha Puri and perform bhajana and sadhana there, and he told her to renovate the home of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. After receiving this instruction from her Gurudeva, Shachi-devi went to Jagannatha Puri and stayed at the place of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, while performing her bhajana there.

She was an exceptional speaker of the Bhagavatam. After hearing her bhagavat-katha, many of the great devotees of Jagannatha Puri were astonished. Especially when she spoke on topics like Venu-gita, Bhramara-gita or Gopi-gita. It was a joy to hear and everybody was so captivated by her katha and simultaneously attracted to her transcendental personality. Even the king of Jagannatha would come and listen to her hari-katha. The King also offered her a position, but Shachi-devi did not accept it. Rather, she very humbly stayed at Shveta Ganga and performed her bhajana there.

There was once a festival where thousands and thousands of people went to bathe in the Ganges. During this time, many followers of Shachi-devi went to Shveta Ganga to bathe. However, Shachi-devi thought, “My Gurudeva has instructed me to stay in Jagannatha Puri.” Strictly following her guru’s instructions, she decided to stay in Jagannatha Puri and perform her bhajana there. Yet, this desire remained in her mind, “If I have the fortune, one day I will be able to bathe in the Ganges.” Every aspect of our spiritual practice is repeated daily, again and again, but bathing in Ganga-sagara has to be performed once in a lifetime.

Shachi-devi was contemplating, “Since it is the desire of my Gurudeva that I should stay in Jagannatha Puri, then how can I possibly ever take a bath in the Ganges?” That night, Jagannatha-deva Himself entered her dream and told her, “O Shachi-devi! Do not worry about taking a bath in Shveta Ganga because today you will get the benefit of bathing in Ganga.”

So, at midnight, Shachi-devi went to Shveta Ganga and she took a bath. While she was bathing, there were sounds of rushing waters coming from Jagannatha and she noticed that these waters were coming from the lotus feet of Jagannatha-deva. In this water, she saw that thousands and thousands of people were showering and all were shouting, “Jaya Ganga-devi! Jaya Ganga-devi!” Finally, a big wave of water suddenly appeared and swept Shachi-devi to Ganga Sagara before placing her in the lotus feet of Lord Jagganatha.

All of the people bathing experienced a feeling of so much pleasure in their minds and they began to think, “Where are these sounds of rushing water coming from? Is it from the temple?” But when they opened the temple door, they saw nothing there, except Shachi-devi holding the feet of Jagannatha-deva with folded hands. Meanwhile, one of the royal guards informed the king about the events which had just taken place.

When people saw her there in the temple, they became astonished and thought to themselves, “How is it possible that she speaks Bhagavatam during the day and then steals Jagannatha’s ornaments at night? She is a thief!” However, Shachi-devi did not pay attention to all the things that were being said.

Some others believed that there must be something mysterious going on because she is such a parama-bhagavati (advanced female devotee). How is it ever possible for her to steal anything? Even when the King offered her so much property and position, she denied it, showing how she was detached from this material world. Still the King thought to himself, “What is the mystery behind this?” The King was seeking answers and so, he locked her up in prison.

That same night, Jagannatha-deva gave darshana to the king in a dream and told him, “O King! There is no fault in Shachi-devi and she did not come to steal My ornaments. But from My feet, the Ganga was flowing and she was bathing in her waters.” After realising his mistake, Raja Mukundadeva came to the feet of Shachi-devi and begged for forgiveness. Thereafter, he took initiation from her.

And from that day onwards she became known as Gangamata Gosvamini. In this way, Gangamata Gosvamini stayed in Jagannatha Puri for the remainder of her life performing bhajana. She had only one aim in her life and that was to preach Bhagavatam to everyone.

One time in Rajasthan, near Jaipura, there was a brahmana who was serving Thakuraji, Sri Rasika-raya. However, he was not able to serve Thakuraji in a proper way. So Thakuraji instructed him, “Please take My vigraha to Jagannatha Puri and give My deity form to Gangamata Gosvamini. I would like to accept service from her hands.”

Therefore, the brahmana went from Rajasthan to Jagannatha Puri to fulfill this instruction. But Gangamata Gosvamini was performing nama-bhajana day and night, so she said, “No no, I cannot serve the vigraha, because serving the vigraha takes so much time. I would rather serve Nama Prabhu.” But, that brahmana replied, “Since Thakuraji has given the order Himself, you have to serve Him.” But Gangamata Gosvamini said, “I won’t serve!”

The brahmana placed Thakuraji, vigraha of Jagannatha-deva, in a Tulasi garden nearby. During the early morning, Jagannatha-deva came into the dream of Shachi-devi and said, “I am staying in the garden, please serve Me.” Thakuraji directly instructed Shachi-devi, so when she got up early in the morning she went to the Tulasi garden where the beautiful vigraha was staying. She carried the vigraha to her bhajana-kutira and started serving Him.

Bhagavan is in so much agony and He is eager to take service from His bhaktas because He feels so much separation from them. So, how does Bhagavan accept the foodstuff offered by devotees? This has been shown by our Gosvamis, such as Sanatana Gosvamipada, Rupa Gosvamipada and especially Lokanatha dasa Gosvami.

Once Lokanatha dasa Gosvami was serving his vigraha, Radha-Vinodi-lala, and at midnight Thakuraji said, “Lokanatha, I am very tired, My feet are in pain, please serve Me.” How did He accept service from Lokanatha Gosvami? By agonizing so much and by asking him again and again to serve Him.

I remember we used to go to Khadiravana where Lokanatha dasa Gosvami’s samadhi can be found. Now his deity Radha-Vinodi-lala is in Jaipura. Have you been there? I have been there many times. In Jaipura there is a temple, and by the stairs we used to take prasada there. It is a very nice place and all of the vigrahas are very small in size.

At midnight, Lokanatha was performing bhajana and sadhana, and the vigraha said to Lokanatha dasa Gosvami, “O Lokanatha! I am very tired, please massage My feet.” At that time, Lokanatha Gosvami got up and served his Thakuraji. After some time, he returned to rest. However, only after a short time, Thakuraji said, “O Lokanatha! I am feeling so much heat, please fan Me.” And thus, he gathered leaves from some trees and then he fanned Thakuraji before He took some rest.

Lokanatha dasa Gosvami also returned to rest, but after some time, Thakuraji again came and said, “O Lokanatha, are you sleeping again? I am thirsty and very hungry, give Me some foodstuffs.” Lokanatha replied, “Okay, okay.”

So, he started making puri, kachori, and sabji for his Thakuraji. After accepting the food preparations from Lokanatha dasa Gosvami and before sleeping again, Thakuraji said, “O Lokanatha! Please do not wake Me up early because I am just falling asleep now at 3 o’clock. So, do mangala-arati after 8 o’clock.”

These types of lilas are going on until this day. In some temples in Vrindavana and elsewhere, especially in Radha Ramana, mangala-arati takes place at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.— mangala-arati before 9 a.m. is never possible.

What am I trying to say by speaking this lila of Thakuraji? That vigraha is sat-cit-ananda and fully transcendental. Thakuraji is so greedy to accept the service of His devotees. Like with Gangamata Gosvamini, Thakuraji was very eager to take service from her. And since Gangamata Gosvamini did not want to serve, Thakuraji entered her dreams and directly asked her to serve Him. This has also happened to Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and to other Gosvamis in our disciplic succession. So in this way, Gangamata Gosvamini served Thakuraji.

Before Gangamata Gosvamini entered into nitya-dhama Sri Goloka Vrindavana, she gave the vigraha to a brahmana named Vanamali.

When you reach the highest stage of performing bhajana and sadhana, anything that you do for Thakuraji, is easily accepted. What kind of service did our Gosvamis offer Thakuraji and how did they serve Him? And how would they perform their bhajana and sadhana? They would stay underneath a tree one night and then the next eve, they would stay under another tree. In this way, they performed their bhajana in Vrindavana. Gurudeva used to speak on vrindavana-sakshi— all the trees of Vrindavana are witnesses of the radha-krishna-lilas. That is, they have directly seen the pastimes of Radha-Krishna.

Somebody once inappropriately said that if the Gosvamis had stayed in one place, then they would have become so attached. When Gurudeva heard this, he became angry. He said, “They have given up all their [material] things including their kingdom and everything. They were born into very high-class families, but they have given up everything! Yet, while staying under a tree in Vrindavana, they would have become attached? Are you a rascal?”

At that time, Gurudeva was so angry and he continued, “What is the inner meaning of this? They were just performing a lila at that time, because all the trees of Vrindavana can remind them of pastimes between Radha and Krishna as they all were witnesses of radha-krishna-lila. That is why!”

“O vriksha (tree)! I am serving under you because you have pure evidence of the radha-krishna-lilas. I am performing bhajana under you. Please remind me of the pastimes of Radha-Krishna.” These are the inner moods of the Gosvamis. In Vraja-vilasa-stava, everything is mentioned, all of the stutis have been included in Vraja-vilasa-stava grantha. When will we get this kind of bhava in our hearts?

Actually, there is no attachment when there are these kinds of internal feelings while performing bhajana from one tree to another. It does not mean that they now have some sort of attachment to those trees or places. They simply want to perform bhajana and move from one tree to another in order to remember the pastimes of Radha-Krishna.

kṛṣṇotkīrtana-gāna-nartana-parau premāmṛtāmbho-nidhī

dhīrādhīra-jana-priyau priya-karau nirmatsarau pūjitau

śrī-caitanya-kṛpā-bharau bhuvi bhuvo bhārāvahantārakau

vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau

Shad-gosvami-ashtaka (1)

[I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Six Gosvamis, namely Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvai, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, who are always engaged in chanting the holy name of Krishna and dancing. They are just like the ocean of love of God, and they are popular both with the gentle and with the ruffians, because they are not envious of anyone. Whatever they do, they are all-pleasing to everyone, and they are fully blessed by Lord Chaitanya. Thus they are engaged in missionary activities meant to deliver all the conditioned souls in the material universe.]

In this way, they all performed so much bhajana and sadhana— when any sadhaka comes to the stage of prema-rasa or prema-bhava, how could they possibly become attached to these things? In our disciplic succession, Gangamata Gosvamini’s bhajana established the perfect ideal for us and showed us the right path.

Gaura Premanande!

Hari Hari bol!

Date: 31 May 2020 Location: Mathura, India


Transcriber: Shyamapriya dasi (Holland) Editor: Damodara dasa (UK), Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Chandrika dasi (UK) Image: Narasimhananda dasa (Russia)

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