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Chapter 26: The Master's love-sickness for Krishna; His visions and transports of bhakti

The Master felt his separation from Krishna just as the milk-maids did after Krishna had left Brinidaban for Mathura. Gradually He began to break out in wild lamentations, even as Radha had talked in delirium on meeting with Uddhav. Ever did the Master consider Himself as Radha, and felt [and acted] like her. No wonder, for such is the course of divya-unmad (spiritual ecstasy).

One night when He was sleeping, He dreamt of Krishna in the rasa dance; the god was bending his body gracefully and playing on the flute, wearing a yellow garment and garlands of flowers, and looking like the picture of Love; the milkmaids were dancing in a circle, joining their hands together, while in the centre Krishna frolicked with Radha. The sight inspired the Master with the same mood; He felt that He was at Brindaban and had gained Krishna's company.

As He was late in rising, Govinda wakened Him; but He saddened when He became conscious of the real world. After performing the necessary acts of the morning He went to behold Jagannath. He stood close to the image of Garuda, while hundreds of thousands of worshippers thronged in front of Him. An Oriya woman, unable to see the god on account of the crowd, climbed upon the Garuda and rested one foot on the Master's shoulder.

Govinda saw it and hurriedly pushed her a way, but the Master forbade him to make her dismount from His shoulder, saying, "Don't remove her. Let her gaze at Jagannath to her heart's content". The woman, however, quickly got down on seeing the Master and fell at His feet. The Master remarked, "Jagannath has not inspired me with this woman's passionate longing for him. Her body mind and soul are so absorbed in the God that she did not notice that she was treading on my shoulder! She is blessed. Let me worship her feet that I too may have her intensity of devotion."

Sadly did the Master return home, and sitting down on the ground began to draw lines on the floor with His finger-nails. Tears streamed from His eyes and blinded His vision. "Alas!" He cried, "after gaining Krishna, I have lost him. Who has taken away my Krishna? Where have I come?" In His trances He quivered with delight; but when He regained consciousness, He felt that He had lost His treasure, and sang and danced like mad, though He went through His bath, dinner etc. by mechanical habit.

The ten forms of love-sickness possessed Him day and night, never giving Him rest. Ramananda Ray by reciting verses [from Vidyapati, Chandidas and Git-Govinda] and Swarup by singing songs on Krishna's acts, brought the Master somewhat back to His senses. At midnight they laid Him to bed in the inner room, and Ramananda returned to his own house, while Swarup and Govinda slept at the door. It was the Master's wont to wake all night, loudly chanting Krishna's name. [To-night] noticing the silence within, Swarup pushed the door open. He found the other three doors [also] closed from within, but the Master was not in the room. They became alarmed at His absence, lighted their lanterns, and went out in search of Him.

They found the Master lying on an open space a little north of the Lion-gate of the temple. His body was 5 or 6 cubits long; He was unconscious and His breathing had ceased! Each arm and leg was three cubits long and consisted only of bones and skin. His hands feet neck and waist were disjointed from the trunk by half a cubit and the places of junction were covered with the bare skin. He was foaming at the mouth and His eyes were fixed in a deadly stare.

This sight of Him made the bhaktas very life go out of their bodies. Then Swarup with all the disciples loudly dinned the name of Krishna into the Master's ears. After a long while the name entered His heart, and He shouted Hari-bol! He became conscious and His limbs were joined to His trunk again, as before. This miracle of the Master has been reported by Raghunath-das in his Chaitanya-staba-kalpa-briksha. As Raghunath-das always lived with the Master, I accept as true and write here what I have heard from him.

One day the Master, on the way to the sea, suddenly looked at the Chatak hillock, and taking it to be the Govardhan hill, He ran towards it in rapture with the speed of the wind. Govinda could not overtake Him.

A hue and cry was raised and there was a great bustle. Everyone ran up from where he was,--Swarup, Jagadananda, Gadadhar, Ramai, Nandai, Nilai Pandit, Shankar Puri, Bharati Goswami, all went to the sea-shore. The lame Bhagaban Acharya hobbled slowly behind.

After running at first like the wind, the Master suddenly became stiff on the way, unable to move further. Every pore of His skin swelled like a boil, the hair stood on end on them like the kadamba flower. Blood ran out of His pores like sweat. His throat gurgled, not a syllable could He utter. Ceaseless tears ran down both His cheeks He lost colour and became death-pale like a conch-shell. Then a quivering burst over His frame like a tempest on the bosom of the sea. Trembling, He fell down on the ground, and then Govinda came up with Him, sprinkled Him with water from the flask, and fanned Him with his sheet. Swarup and the rest now arrived and all began to weep at the Master's plight. They loudly sang the kirtan in His hearing and sprinkled Him with cold water. After they had done so many times, He rose up with the cry of Hari-bol! The Vaishnavs in delight shouted Hari! Hari! The sound of joy rose up from all sides. Half-conscious again, the Master addressed Swarup, "You have brought me back from Govardhan to here. You have snatched me away from viewing Krishna's lila among the herds of cows and calves, Radha and her handmaids, on Govardhan hill Why have you brought me away thence, only to cause me grief?" So saying, He wept, and the Vaishnavs wept at His plight.

Thus did the Master live at Nilachal, plunging day and night in the ocean of grief at separation from Krishna. In the early autumn nights radiant with the moon in a cloudless sky, He roamed up and down with His disciples, visiting garden after garden in delight and reciting or listening to the songs of rasa lila. At times, overcome with love, He danced and sang; at other times He imitated the rasa lila in that mood; at times in a transport of passion He ran hither and thither, at others He rolled on the ground in a faint. As soon as He recollected a verse of the rasa lila He expounded it.

I cannot describe all the acts He performed from day to day in these twelve years [of residence at Puri], lest it should make my poem too long.

While rambling thus, the Master one night suddenly caught a sight of the sea from Ai-tota. The moonlight silvered the heaving billows they sparkled like the water of the Jamuna. Unseen by others, the Master went to the sea and leaped into it. He fainted and knew not what He was doing;--the waves now sank Him, now floated Him; on the waves He was carried about like a dry tree-trunk. On the waves He drifted towards Konarak, now under water, now above it,--and he dreamt all the time of Krishna sporting in the Jamuna with the milkmaids.

In the meantime, Swarup and other followers were startled when they missed Him. Uncertain whither He had gone, to the Jagannath or any other temple, to some other garden, the Gundicha house or the Narendra tank, to the Chatak hill or to Konarak,--they searched for Him everywhere. A party of them came to the beach and there walked, looking out for Him, till near daybreak, when they concluded that He had disappeared from the earth. They all thought that the worst had happened.

They took counsel on the beach, and some of them went towards the Chirayu hill, while Swarup moved east wards with a party searching for the Master in the sea-water. Overwhelmed with sorrow, almost out of their senses, they still walked on searching for Him in their love.

They met a fisherman coming towards them with his net on his shoulders, laughing weeping dancing and singing "Hari! Hari!" Swarup questioned him in surprise, "Tell us, fisherman, have you met a man on this side? Why are you in this mood?" The fisherman answered, "I have not seen any man here. But a dead body was caught in my net, and I carefully dragged it ashore, thinking it to be a big fish. The sight of a corpse frightened me, and when I was clearing my net I happened to touch it. At once the spirit of the dead entered my body, striking me with tremor, weeping, choking of voice, and bristling up of hair. It lay stiff as a corpse, with a fixed stare in the eyes, but at times it groaned, at others remained inert. If I die of the possession of this ghost, how will my wife and children live? If I can find an exorcist, he will expel the evil spirit from me. I work at my trade of catching fish alone at night, but no ghost can seize me as I remember the god Nrisingha. This ghost, however, holds me with a double grip when I repeat Nrisingha's name. Don't go there, I advise you, lest this ghost should possess you, too."

From these words, Swarup understood it all, and told the fisherman gently, "I am a great ghost-doctor, and I know how to lay spirits." He uttered some verses, laid his hand on the fisherman's head, gave him three slaps, and cried out "The evil spirit has left you. Fear no more." The man now became a little composed. Swarup reassured him, "He whom you have taken for an evil spirit, is no ghost, but the Lord Sri Krishna-Chaitanya. In a transport of love He had jumped into the sea. Him have you raised in your net. His touch has thrilled you with Krishna's love, which you have mistaken for the possession of a ghost. Now that your fear is gone and your mind has been calmed, show me where you have landed Him."

The fisherman said, "I have often beheld the Master. It cannot be He; it is more than man's size."

The fisherman led them all to the place. They beheld Him lying on the ground, huge-bodied, pale-skinned from immersion in water, coated with sea-sand. His limbs were abnormally long, loose and with the skin flapping. Over such a long path they could not carry Him home; so they removed His wet loin-cloth and put a dry one on Him, and laid Him down on a sheet of cloth after brushing away the sand. Then they lifted up the chant of Krishna's kirtan and poured it into His ears. After a time the word entered His brain and He leaped up with a roar; His limbs were rejoined and returned to their proper places. Half-unconscious still, He looked hither and thither [in perplexity]. He spoke, as if from the sky, "Beholding the Jamuna [in the ocean] I went to Brindaban, and there found Braja's darling sporting in the water; with Radha and the other milkmaids. I stood on the bank gazing on the scene, while one of the sakhis (female comrades of Radha) pointed out the mysteries to me. [A long but highly poetical description, not translated.] Krishna, Radha, and their companions rose from the water, dressed themselves, partook of a rich picnic, and all retired to sleep. My heart was filled with bliss at the sight. Just then you caught hold of me, and with a great noise brought me here. Ah! where is the Jamuna, where Brindaban, where Krishna, and where the milkmaids? You have destroyed that bliss!"

Then Swarup made Him bathe [in the sea] and brought Him home, to the delight of all.