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Chapter 12: The Hora-Panchami Procession of Lakshmi

As the Master lay thus in the trance of love, Pratap Rudra entered the garden alone, casting off his royal robes and dressed as a [common] Vaishnav, according to the advice of Sarvabhauma. With folded hands he took permission of every bhakta and then mustered enough courage to fall down clasping the Master's feet. The Master lay on the ground, His eyes closed in love; the king eagerly nursed His feet. Pratap Rudra recited the stanzas of the Rasa dance, (Bhagabat, X. xxxi. i). Infinite was the Master's delight as He heard the verses, and He repeatedly cried "Go on." When the king proceeded to the stanza beginning with "The nectar-like discourse of thee", the Master in devotion rose up and embraced the king, saying "You have given me many priceless gems. I have nothing to give in return, save this embrace." So saying He read the verses over and over again, both quivering and showering tears.

"The nectar-like discourse of thee, O darling! is life to the afflicted, the theme of praise to sages, and the antidote to sin. The hearing of it does good and gives peace. Blessed are they who spread it far and wide on earth, for they are truly givers of much alms." (Bhagabat, X. xxxi. 9).

Crying the 'giver of much alms', the Master embraced the king, not knowing now who he was. The king's lowly service had won for him the Master's pity, who now made him a gift of His grace without any inquiry. Lo! the power of Chaitanya's grace, which bears fruit without questioning. The Master asked, "Who art thou, my benefactor, that hast poured by surprise into my ears the nectar of Krishna's deeds?" The king replied, "I am the slave of thy slaves. My only desire is that you may make me the servant of your servants." Then the Master revealed His godhead to the king, forbidding him to tell it to anybody. Though knowing everything at heart, He outwardly showed as if He did not know that the visitor was a king. The bhaktas extolled the king for his good fortune. Pratap Rudra took leave after prostrating him self, and then with folded palms bowed to all the bhaktas, and went away. At noon the Master with His followers breakfasted on the plentiful prasad sent by the king by the hands of Vaninath, Sarvabhauma and Ramananda. The prasad from the Balgandi bhog was excellent and of infinite variety, but none of them was cooked food. [Details of the dishes.] . . .

Knowing the fatigue of the kirtan singers, Chaitanya resolved to feast them. He seated them in rows and began to serve the food Himself. Each man was given one leaf and ten cups of Keya leaves. Swarup informed Him that as none would dine before the Master, He ought to sit down to meal. Then the Master sat down with His circle and fed all to their fill. The excess of prasad that was left over sufficed to feed a thousand men. Govinda, at the Master's bidding, brought in beggars to eat this food. At the sight of the beggars feast the Master taught them to chant Hari's name, and they were carried away on the stream of love as they shouted Hari-bol.

Now came the time for dragging the car of Jagannath. The Bengal athletes pulled at the rope, but the car did not move. So they gave up the work in despair. The king and his Court hastened thither in alarm. He set the wrestlers to draw the car and applied his own hand to it; but still the car did not move. Then powerful elephants were harnessed to the car, but it did not advance a step in spite of their utmost efforts. Hearing this the Master arrived with His followers and gazed at the furious elephants pulling at the car. The elephants shrieked at the blows of the goad, but the car stirred not, and the people lamented.

Then the Master took away the elephants, gave the ropes to His followers, and Himself pushed the car from behind with His head. The car sped along rattling. The bhaktas merely held the ropes; they had not really to pull, as the car advanced of itself. In delight the people shouted "Glory! Glory to Jagannath!" No other sound was heard. In a twinkle the car reached the gate of the Gundicha garden, the people marvelling at the power of Chaitanya. They set up a roar of "Glory to Gaurchandra! Glory to Krishna-Chaitanya!" At the sight of the Master's might, Pratap Rudra and his courtiers swelled with enthusiasm. Then the servitors performed the ceremony of dismounting Jagannath from his car and conveying him to the Gundicha people. The three images were placed on their thrones, and the ceremony of the gods bath and dinner commenced. The Master began a joyous dance and kirtan in the courtyard in delight. His love welled out in blissfulness, and the sight of it swept away the beholders in a torrent of love. In the evening He witnessed the adoration with lamps, and came to the Ai-tota garden for reposing. Adwaita and eight other leading followers invited Him for nine days. Among the rest as many got a chance of entertaining Him as there were days in the "four months," while the rank and file of His followers had a day free for each individually; so two or three of them combined to give Him a joint entertainment on one day.

Thus did the Master play at dining out. After His morning bath He visited Jagannath, where He danced and sang with His followers, now bidding Adwaita dance, now Nityananda, Haridas, Achyutananda, Vakreshwar or some other bhakta. Thrice in the day did He sing kirtan in the Gundicha garden, imagining that Krishna had come to Brindaban and that the period of separation was over. Cherishing in His heart the idea that Krishna was then dallying with Radha there, He remained absorbed in that emotion (of gratification), acting in many gardens the feats of Krishna at Brindaban, disporting in the tank of Indradyumna, splashing His bhaktas with water, while they splashed Him from all sides, now forming one circle, now many, and clapping their hands while croaking like frogs. Sometimes a pair of them wrestled in the water, the Master looking on to see who would win. Adwaita and Nityananda tried to overwhelm each other with water; the former was beaten and vented his feelings in abuse. Vidyanidhi struggled with Swarup, Shribas with Gadadhar, Raghav Pandit with Vakreshwar, Sarvabhauma with Ramananda Ray. The gravity of the last two disappeared and they became boys again! Seeing their excitement the Master smiled and said to Gopinath Acharya, "Both are grave scholars and venerable men, but they are acting like wild boys. Stop them." Gopinath replied, "When the ocean of your grace surges up, a single drop of it can easily drown tall mountains like Meru and Mandar, what to speak of these two small stones? It is thy grace only that has given the nectar of lila to one whose life was formerly spent in chewing the dry husks of logical disputation." Laughing, the Master brought Adwaita there and made him lie on his back on the water like the Shesha serpent, while He Himself reclined on him (like Vishnu). Thus did He act the lila of Vishnu reposing on the serpent. Adwaita, putting forth his strength, began to float on the water bearing the Master.

After disporting in the water for some time He returned with His followers to the Ai-tota. At the Acharya's house He dined with His leading followers. The prasad brought by Vaninath served to feed the other followers. In the evening He visited the god and danced before him, and at night returned to the garden to sleep.

In the garden, in company with His bhaktas He sported as at Brindaban. The trees and creepers blossomed at His sight, the bee and the black-bird sang, the zephyr blew. Under each tree He danced, Vasudev Datta alone singing. Each (bhakta) sang under a different tree; Chaitanya alone danced in supreme rapture. Then He bade Vakreshwar dance, while He sang. Swarup and other kirtanias joined the Master in singing, forgetful of all else in the vehemence of their love.

After performing this woodland sport, He went to the Narendra tank for water-sport. Then He returned to the garden and dined out with His bhaktas. For the nine days that Jagannath remained at Gundicha, such was the Master's life. He lodged in the large flower garden named Jagannath-vallabh.

When the time came for the ceremony of Hora-Panchami, the king spoke earnestly to Kashi Mishra, "To-morrow is Hora-Panchami, the day of Lakshmi's triumph. Let the celebration be of unprecedented splendour, so that the Master may be filled with wonder. Let extraordinary arrangements be made for the ceremony. Let coloured cloths, bells, fly-whiskers and umbrellas be brought out of my wardrobe as well as Jagannath's, and let the flagstaff, flag, bell, &c. be decorated. Let (Lakshmi's) litter be set forth with varied music and dance. The expenditure should be double (the ordinary), so that the ceremony may eclipse the Car festival. Act so that the Master may be drawn to come out with His followers to behold it."

Next morning the Master with His party visited Jagannath at Gundicha, and then returned to the temple eager to behold the Hora-Panchami festival. Kashi Mishra with great honour seated the Master and His party in a good position. Chaitanya wished to hear about a particular emotion and smilingly asked Swarup, "Though Jagannath lives at Dwaraka, manifesting his natural be-pretext of a ride in his car. From the temple he goes to visit Brindaban. The parks here resemble Brindaban; he longs to see them therefore, and leaves his temple on the pretext of a ride in his car. From the temple he goes to Gundicha and there disports day and night in the many gardens. But why does he not take Lakshmi with him?" Swarup answered, "Listen, Master, to the reason. Lakshmi has no access to Brindaban, as Krishna's playmates there are milk-maids. So none but the latter can ravish Krishna's heart." The Master continued, "Krishna sets out on the plea of a ride. Subhadra and Baladev accompany him. His dalliance with the milk-maids is done in secret in the parks, unknown to others. Krishna does not overt offence. Why then does Lakshmi fly into a rage at his journey to Gundicha?" Swarup replied, "Such is the nature of a loving mistress. Indifference on the part of her sweetheart rouses her anger."

Just then Lakshmi arrived in an angry mood at the Lion Gate, riding a golden litter set with many gems, and accompanied by rows of men bearing flags, fly-whiskers, umbrellas and standards, with many musicians, and preceded by the dedicated dancing-girls (devdasi). A hundred richly dressed hand-maids bearing betel-leaf caskets, goglets of water, fans and fly-whiskers, and much display of wealth and retinue came in her train. Her maids chained the chief servitors of Jagannath and dragged them to her feet, punishing them like thieves and fining them heavily. She beat them till they almost fainted, and abused them in feigned anger. The Master's followers laughed hiding their faces with their hands as they beheld the forwardness of Lakshmi and her maids. [Swarup gave a long explanation of Lakshmi's mood, with illustrative quotations from Sanskrit treatises on love].

At his words Shribas laughed and said "Hark you, Damodar! behold the vast wealth of my Lakshmi. Brindaban can boast of only flowers, leaves, hills, peacock plumes, and the Gunchha fruit. And yet Jagannath has gone to visit Brindaban! Lakshmi might naturally suspect Krishna's motive in leaving such wealth for poor Brindaban." As he was laughing Lakshmi turned to chastise him, saying "Behold, your god has left such splendour and gone to the Gundicha garden for the sake of flowers, leaves and fruits! Why does the chief of the wise act thus? Bring your lord before Lakshmi!" So saying, Lakshmi's handmaids brought the Master's attendants tied with their waist-bands, made them bow at her mercy. They beat (Jagannath's) car with their sticks, and treated Jagannath's officers like thieves, until they cried with folded hands, "To-morrow shall we produce Jagannath before you." Then Lakshmi was pacified and returned to her abode. . . [Swarup again shows Lakshmi's conduct as natural in a true lover].

The Master listened with absorption to his exposition of the pure emotion of Radha, and began to dance in rapture while Swarup sang. "Sing on! Sing on!" He cried with ears on the alert. His enthusiasm welled forth on hearing the song of the love-making at Brindaban, and He flooded the village of Puri with devotion. Lakshmi went back to her own place in time, but the Master danced on till the third quarter of the day. The four parties grew tired with singing, but His ardour became doubly intense. Under the influence of Radha's love He became an image of the passion. Nityananda seeing Him from afar prayed to Him, but came not near in consideration of His ecstasy. None but Nityananda could hold the Master [and force Him to stop dancing]. His ecstasy did not cease, and the kirtan therefore had to continue. So, Swarup by gesture informed Him how the party was exhausted. At this the Master came to Himself, and returned to the garden. After taking rest He had His midday bath and dined pleasantly with His party on the many dishes sent from Jagannath's and Lakshmi's prasad. In the evening He bathed again and visited Jagannath, dancing and singing before the god.

He sported in the Narendra tank with His bhaktas, and held a picnic in the garden. Thus He spent eight days, after which came the return journey of Jagannath in his car to his temple, at which the Master in supreme delight danced and sang as during the outward ride.

When Jagannath again occupied his throne, the Master returned with His followers to His quarters. [Text, canto 14.]