Gaur Katha by Gurudev Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Maharaj- Part 1

(Translated from Baba’s Bengali pravachan on the occasion of the Pran Pratishtha of Sri Sri Radha Madhav, on 3rd June 1999 at Sri Gouranga Ashram, then located in Chittarnjan Park, New Delhi, by Sukhvinder Sircar and Indrani Bannerjee)


Around 15 kilometers from Navdeep, in the Bardhaman district was a village named Shaligram. In this village lived a pandit named Kangshali Mishra. He had six sons. The eldest son was named Surya Das Sorkel and the youngest one was named Gauri Das. One day the eldest brother Surya Das Sorkel instructed his youngest brother Gauri Das to go to Ambika Kalna. And there, by the banks of the river Ganga,build a simple cottage and without any worldly cares dedicate himself to the service of Lord Krishna.
(1.00 min)

Gauri Das thought, ‘what more could my heart desire?’ That is how Gauri Das Pandit arrived at Ambika Kalna, and on the banks of river Ganga began his loving and devoted worship of Shri Krishna.
This very Gauri Das Pandit was the student and disciple of Shripad Nityananda Prabhu. With all his heart and in all circumstances, he served Nityananda Prabhu.

(1.28 min)

In the meanwhile, the all-auspicious avatar Sriman Mahaprabhu having accepted Sannyasa ashram, traveled to Shantipur via Katwa and arrived at the abode of Shri Advaita Acharya. When Gauri Das Pandit heard that Mahaprabhu has entered Sannyasa Ashram and already started his journey towards Neelachal,leaving the golden land of Nadia, he became anguished and grief-stricken. He thought, ‘why am I alive to hear such a terrible and heart-wrenching news? And if Mahaprabhu intended on entering Sannyasa, when I met him the other day at Shri Advaita Acharya’s place, why did he not reveal his heart’s deep desire even in emotions and manner? That is, Mahaprabhu never let it be known that he was contemplating Sannyasa. Then abandoning all of us, as he is leaving for Neelachal, how do we, the devotees of Nadia spend our days in the wilderness of Samsara?’ When he heard the news of Mahaprabhu’s acceptance of saffron robes, tonsure of his hair and entering into Sannyasa Ashram he became mad with grief. Everyone thought, ‘has Gauri Das lost his mind?’
(2.50 min)

After taking Sannyasa, Mahaprabhu had stayed in Shantipur for seven days. But Gauri Das did not go to Shri Advaita Acharya’s abode for darshan even once. The omnipresent omniscient Mahaprabhu wondered, ‘one by one all the devotees have come to meet me, why has Gauri not come?He is my most intimate near one.’ He called Nityananda Prabhu and said, ‘Listen, my decision to take sannyasa has probably not pleased Gauri Das. It could be that on hearing such an unacceptable news, Gauri Das couldn’t contain his grief. I feel if I go to meet him once, it may reduce his agony and he may give up his painful withdrawal from me.’ To mitigate his grief, Shriman Mahaprabhu along with Shripad Nityananda Prabhu proceeded towards Ambika Kalna.

As they were both crossing the Ganges on a boat, a new sentiment emerged in the heart of Mahaprabhu. He thought, ‘I am going to meet Gauri Das after so long, what should I give him?’ He looked at the boatman and said to him, ‘will you gift me your oar?’ After crossing the river, as he got down from the boat, Mahaprabhu told the boatman, ‘again and again I told you about the oar, will you please give it to me?’ The boatman replied, ‘my Lord, I can give you whatever you ask for, even my own life, this oar is nothing.’ The boatman then gave the oar to Mahaprabhu. When the boatman, the one who helps you cross over, gave his oar to Mahaprabhu, Mahaprabhu took it and along with Nityananda Prabhu arrived at Gauri Das Pandit’s ashram. The pain of Gauri Das’s bruised heart seemed impossible to assuage- Mahaprabhu had taken sannyasa! Sitting under a tree, burning in the pain of his aggrieved heart, Gauri Das Pandit was continuously chanting the Harinaam. Sometimes he would behave like a delirious person. Sometimes he would shout saying, ‘The Lord who fights and quarrels with me, who has taken sannyasa without my knowledge, may he be the Lord of my heart for all lifetimes. May I always attain him as my master!’
(5.28 min)

Shriman Mahaprabhu standing at a distance, heard these lamentations. Mahaprabhu came close and placing his lotus hands on Gauri Das’s head said, ‘Gauri, see who has come.’ Gauri Das looked up to see Mahaprabhu standing in front of him. Seeing the all-auspicious incarnate, Lord Gour Sundar, Gauri das’s joy knew no bounds. He abandoned his grief and gave up his feigned resentment out of love. He greeted and paid his respectful obeisance to Mahaprabhu, by prostrating at his feet and surrendered unto him. He said, ‘Prabhu, I could never imagine that you would come to this fallen soul to give your merciful blessings. Your auspicious arrival has sanctified my ashram filling it with bliss. Now please instruct this lowly soul, what can I do for you?’

Mahaprabhu replied, ‘I have got this oar for you.’ Gauri Das asked, ‘what will I do with this oar? Mahaprabhu said, ‘With this oar you can help people cross the river of nescience. You will ferry individuals across the material world; be the boatman of people’s lives. Taking shelter at your feet, people will be able to cross the ocean of ignorance, which is why I have got this oar for you. Please accept it.’Gauri Das accepted the oar. He again prostrated at the feet of Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu embraced Gauri Das Pandit. Gauri Das said, ‘My lowly life has now been sanctified. My body has now become a holy site. I hope your golden body is not polluted with the touch of my impure body.’ Mahaprabhu said, ‘please let go of your humility. You have the capacity to purify the three worlds with the power of your devotion. Now tell me Gauri, what is your desire?’. Gauri Das replied, my desire is that I will not let you and Nityananda prabhu leave my ashram. Why did you submerge the golden Nadia into darkness by taking sannyasa? If you take sannyasa and emigrate from here what will be the state of the people of Nadia? We are immersed in grief, now what will happen to us?’

Nadia chhariyagelo Gaurango Sundor
Dubilo Bhakatagon dukhero shayor

When Nadia was abandoned by the beautiful Gaurango
The devotees drowned in the river of sorrow

Closing his eyes, Gauri Das said, ‘My Lord, you are the sight for sore eyes. If you are not there, what will be left for us? Who is going to be my shelter?’ Mahaprabhu said, ‘what is your prayer?’.
[undecipherable Sanskrit quote]

What is your heart’s desire, tell me!’ Gauri Das replied, I want to hold you and Nityananda Prabhu as eternal captives in my temple. Please stay here forever. Mahaprabhu replied, ‘How is that possible? My mother who is the mother of the entire world has instructed me that in order to safeguard my Sannyasa Ashram, I must go to Neelachal Purushottam Dham. When I am there, I will have darshan of the Lord daily and immerse myself in devotion to Krishna without any encumbrances.’

Gauri Das said, ‘I do not want to listen to all this.’ The Lord said, ‘that’s not feasible. If you want to serve me and Nityananda, then do this: Establish the dual idols of me and Nityananda.’
(8.28 min)

Mahaprabhu called for Nayan Bhaskar. When Nayan Bhaskar arrived, Mahaprabhu told him to prepare the wooden deities of Gour and Nityananda. As instructed, Nayan Bhaskar sculpted the dual deities of Mahaprabhu and Nityananda. Mahaprabhu said, ‘I will consecrate the deities myself.’
(8.50 min)

With the resounding of Harinaam, the dual deities of Gour Nitai were consecrated in Gauri Das Pandit’s temple. After the consecration, Mahaprabhu told Gauri Das, ‘it was your heart’s desire that Gour Nityananda should be eternal captives in your temple and you will serve them both with all your heart.Now these two deities will be here with you forever. Serve them to your heart’s content.’

Gauri Das said, ‘My Lord, what will I do with these deities?’ Mahaprabhu then replied, ‘Do as I say. These dual deities are not lifeless representations, they are fully alive.’ Gauri Das asked, ‘How is that?’ Mahaprabhu asked him, ‘will you not make food offerings to the deities?’ Gauri Das responded, ‘If you teach me the correct process of worship and empower a lowly soul like me, I will certainly make food offerings to the deities. I will do it as a daily practice.’

Mahaprabhu taught Gauri Das how to worship and make food offeringsto the Gaur Nitai deities. Gauri Das pandit cooked various types of vegetables and rice to offer to the deities. Mahaprabhu then called him and said, ‘listen, you are now going to offer the cooked food in front of the deities. Now let me tell you the process of doing this. Prepare four seats.’ Gauri Das asked, ‘Why four? There are only two deities. The dual deities of Gour Nitai. So, I should be offering only two seats.’ Mahaprabhu said, ‘Not so, the two dual deities, and we two Gour Nitai will together enjoy the bhog.’ Gauri Das could not understand the import of Mahaprabhu’s words. Mahaprabhu said, ‘you have to witness the scene with your own eyes. Only then will you be able to have trust and have faith in what you see. You have been chanting the name of the Lord for so many years continuously, now. will you not witness the fruit of your sadhana?’
(10.32 min)

Gauri Das thought, ‘Let me witness the Leela that will be played out in front of my eyes.’Accordingly, he placed four seats and offered bhog to all four. He prostrated saying ‘Gauranga Namaha!’. He then invited Mahaprabhu inside the temple to partake of the prasad. The dual deities of Gour Nitai came down from the altar and sat down to partake of the prasad. Nitai andGauranga who had come from Shantipur also sat down to partake of the bhog. Together four of them sat down to enact the Leela of accepting the food offerings. Enjoying the loving devotion of Gauri Das, with great satisfaction they relished the bhog offered to them in the temple.

After completing the meal and washing their hands and mouth, Mahaprabhu told Gauri Das, you wanted to hold the two of us captive in your temple. Now choose those two from the four of us. The four of us accepted your bhog, now select any two.’ Now Gauri Das was totally bewildered! He could not decide, which two of them he should keep and which two he should let go. Gauri Das then thought, ‘let me keep with me the Lord of my heart who is speaking with me, with whom I am having a conversation along with Nityananda Prabhu, who is on his right. That is, these two are the living animate deities. What will I do with the deities on the altar?’ Considering these two as living divinities, he asked them to stay back and the two deities on the altar who had partaken of the prasad may leave. ‘I have no objection to that.’

Then he saw, the deities on the altar came alive and began to walk away. And the ones he thought were living animate divine entities became non-moving deities. Gauri Das became perplexed and wondered, ‘What just happened?’ He thought ‘I must be under some illusion. This Mahaprabhu was talking to me a moment ago.’ He said, ‘‘No no my Lord, you are the moving divine God, I did not ask you to leave, I asked the non-moving forms on the altar to leave. You two please stay and let them leave.” Then these two deities began moving and the ones who were moving away turned into non-moving deities.
(12.35 min)

Gauri Das was baffled.He prostrated before Mahaprabhu and said, ‘you are no idol, you are Brajendranandan himself, you are Krishna incarnate. It is the Kanai of Braj who has come as Gaur and it is Balarama who has come as Nitai. My doubt is now removed. Never again will I differentiate between your name, your form and you.’

Naam bigraha Swarup teeneybhednaai
Teen chidanandaRoop

The Name, the deity and the incarnation are non -different
All three forms are consciousness and bliss

(13.08 min)

When one is chanting the Name, one should not differentiate between the Name, the deity and the incarnation. They are inseparable. They are pure consciousness. Now Gauri Das told Mahaprabhu, ‘Let these two deities stay here, I no longer have any objection. Now you may freely go to Purushottam Dham Neelachal. During the Ratha Yatra festival, I will visit you and it will calm my anguished heart. I have no more grievances.’
(14.32 min)

Mahaprabhu said, ‘How will you do the eternal seva of Gaur Nitai by yourself, you will need someone to assist you. Radharani of Vrindavan has come as my beloved Gadadhar Goswami in Kaliyuga. His brother Baninath has a son named Hridayananda. He will stay with you in your ashram. He will assist you in the service of Gour Nitai deities. Gauri Das Pandit agreed to this proposal. Mahaprabhu then left with Nityanand Prabhu. Gauri Das accordingly brought Baninath’s son Hridayananda to his ashram. Both of them began to serve the deities.

(14.20 min)

One day Gauri Das Pandit told Hridayananda, ‘I am going to Shri Dham Vrindavan. I will return during Phalguni Purnima, the appearance day of Mahaprabhu.  We will celebrate Mahaprabhu’s birth anniversary in our ashram.You continue serving Gour Nitai without any worry.’ There was just one day left for Mahaprabhu’s appearance day, Gauri Das Pandit had still not returned. Hridayananda had not even received any intimation about Gauri Das Pandit. Hridayananda wondered, ‘My Gurudeva had left for Vrindavan long back and he has still not returned and he has also not instructed me how to celebrate Gour Purnima. Yet, Mahaprabhu’s birth anniversary has to be celebrated.’
(15.16 min)

 Even though his Gurudeva was not present, Hridayananda began the preparations for the celebration of Mahaprabhu’s Abhirbhav tithi. He sent invitations to all the devotees. Gauri Das returned on the eve of the Abhirbhav tithi when the inaugural ceremony of the festival had already begun. When Gauri Das arrived, he saw that all the preparations had already been done. The invitation to all the Vaishnavas had been dispatched. When he saw this, Gauri Das became angry. ‘I am your Gurudeva, in my absence why did you make arrangements for the festival? Do you even know the correct decorum of inviting a Vaishnav? What is the meaning of your independent behavior in my absence? What prompted this erroneous thought process? Please go away from my ashram!’
(16.02 min)

Hridayananda fell at the feet of his Guru and sobbed, ‘When I did not receive any news of your return, I became perturbed and made arrangements for Mahaprabhu’s Abirbhav festival. I invited all the Vaishnavas. If I have committed an offence by doing this, considering me your worthless disciple, can you not discipline me with your limitless grace and allow me to stay in the ashram? If you drive me away, where will I go?’ Gauri Das Pandit said, ‘Go away!’ and drove Hridayananda out.
(16.33 min)

Hridayananda now wondered, ‘Where will I go? My Gurudeva has initiated me into the Harinaam, let me sit by the banks of Ganga and chant the Naam.’ He went and sat by the river bank and began to chant. The next day, all the Vaishnavas who had been invited by Hridayananda began arriving at the ashram for the festival. Gauri Das told them, ‘I have not invited you here, you have come on the account of Hridayananda’s invitation. You better go to Hridayananda who is at the bank of the Ganga. Go there and separately celebrate the Abirbhav tithi of Mahaprabhu.’ The Vaishnavas wondered, ‘what is this strange behavior of Gauri Das? He is such an exalted devotee. How did he expel his beloved disciple from his ashram, and now he wants us to do a separate festival?’
(17.12 min)

All the Vaishnavas then went to the banks of river Ganga. They told Hridayananda, ‘your Gurudeva has not accepted any of the offerings we have brought for the festival. He drove us away from the Ashram. Now that we have congregated here, let us hold the festival here on the banks of Ganga under your direction.’ Hridayananda thought, ‘perhaps this is Mahaprabhu’s desire.’ He began the celebrations on the river bank.

Gauri Das Pandit went to his temple in the ashram. It was the full moon of Phalgun and with an exuberant heart he wanted to celebrate Mahaprabhu’s appearance day. ‘I have returned after a long trip of Vrindavan. Let me bathe and anoint the deities and then dress and decorate them beautifully.’ With this in mind he entered the temple only to find the dual deities of Mahaprabhu and Nityananda prabhu had disappeared. ‘What is this? Why is the jewel encrusted throne of the dual deities desolate? Why are the deities of Gour Nitai absent? Where did they go? This must be Hridayananda’s doing. He must have stolen the deities when he left. Gour Nitai themselves transformed into deities and stayed back in my ashram. Surely, Hridayananda could not tolerate this and stole the deities when he left. This is certainly the work of Hridayananda. Now if I get hold of Hridayananda and punish him.’
(18.25 min)

He took a stick from his room and went out in search of Hridayananda. Gauri Das Pandit thought, ‘Hridayananda has stolen the deities and gone to the banks of the Ganga. He is celebrating his separate festival with them there.’ He beganwalking towards the banks of the Ganga. After going some distance, he saw a huge festival being celebrated on the banks of the Ganga. Thousands and thousands of devotees, men and women were beginning to arrive there.It seemed that a big wave of people was arriving.

On one side was flowing the melodious Ganga and on the other side werestreaming these waves of devotees. He was dumbfounded to witness so many people and the accompanying hustle bustle. As he came closer, he saw a group of devotional singers and the most rapturous congregational chanting. And the very next moment, he saw Shripad Nityananda Prabhu dancing in the congregation, and along with him the Emancipator of the whole world, Vishwambhar prabhu was dancing with uplifted hands. That is, both Gour and Nitai were dancing in bliss. Gauri Das was shocked. ‘What is this? Nityananda and Gour Hari are dancing here! This Sankirtan appears to be like Raas-Leela. In my entire life, I have never witnessed such a sublime sankirtan Raas Leela. Though I went to attend the Raas Utsav in Vrindavan, I could not directly witness the Raas Leela of Shri Krishna. How is it that this Sankirtan Maha Raas is being performed on the banks of melodious Ganga? Does it mean that the Ganga has attained union with Govind and Kalindi (Yamuna)? How else is sankirtan Raas happening in Kaliyuga? Just as Mahaprabhu is the united form of Shri Radha Madhav, has Ganga attained the form of Yamuna? That must be the reason why the sankirtan Raas is happening on the banks of Ganga!’ He became mesmerized by the nectarine sweetness of the sankirtan.
(20.04 min)

All of a sudden, he saw that while dancing, Mahaprabhu approached Hridayananda and embraced him. After that Shriman Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu both merged into the body of Hridayananda. Seeing this Gauri Das fell unconscious to the ground. After some time, Gauri Das regained his consciousness and ran towards the congregation. When he reached there, he found that Nitai Gauranga had disappeared. Only Hridayananda was there. He then embraced Hridayananda and said, ‘Hridayananda, I turned you away from my ashram and from that moment I have been bereft of joy. Gour Nitai have left my ashram on their own accord. And with my own eyes, I witnessed those very Gaur Nitai dancing ecstatically in the congregation. Not only that, I also saw them merge into your body. Since I saw Mahaprabhu entering into your heart, from today your name will be Hridayachaitanya.’ He told Hridayachaitanya, ‘Without you there is no joy’, and took him back to the ashram.Thus, Hridayananda became Hridayachaitanya.
(21.20 min)

Once in the ashram, they saw a big group of devotees approaching. In no time, Nityananda prabhu arrived there. He said, ‘On his way to Vrindavan, Mahaprabhu has arrived in Shantipur from Neelachal. He is just nearby and will be arriving here soon. He has sent me here to inform you. On his earlier trip from Neelachal to Vrindavan, he had wanted to go via Ramkeli but that journey had been abandoned and he returned to Neelachal Puri. On his way to Vrindavan, he has come to Shantipur and from there he is now coming to your ashram to pay you a visit.’

Hearing this, Gauri Das’s heart was filled with bliss. He thought, ‘blessed be! what an inconceivable joy- Mahaprabhu is himself arriving on his Abhirbhav tithi.’ Soon Mahaprabhu arrived there and witnessed the great joy of Gauri Das. He said, ‘Gauri, why did you reject Hridayananda? Did you not see me entering into his heart? Do you not know that Hridayananda and I are non-different? Never make such a mistake again. You had witnessed Raas in the bank of Ganga, now you will witness Raas in your own Ashram. Mahaprabhu instructed his beloved Mukunda, ‘there will be a Sankirtan Maha Raas here in Gauri Das’s ashram. Sing the Harinaam in raag Bihaag.’

Continued in Part 2/....