Gauridas Pandit (four Gaura-Nitai Deities, Gaura Purnima celebration)
————— Across the Ganges from Santipur, in a small town called Ambika Kalna, which is within the present district of Barddhama, is where Gauri dasa Pandita’s temple is located.
His worshippable Deities Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda are still residing in all their splendor there.
There is a railway station at Ambika Kalna on the Howrah-Navadvipa line.
From there one can proceed by rickshaw to Mahaprabhu Mandira.
In the temple is an old copy of the Bhagavad-gita on palm leaves which is supposed to have been written by the hand of Mahaprabhu Himself.
There is also an oar from a boat which has an interesting story behind it.
One day, the two Lords Caitanya and Nityananda came to Kalna from Santipur by boat, paddling it themselves.
Lord Caitanya kept the oar in His hand, and when He entered Gauri dasa’s house He gave it to him, saying, “With this you should cross over the ocean of material existence, taking all the living entities with you.”
Gauri dasa Pandita’s older brother, Surya dasa Sarakkali, had two daughters, Sri Vasudha and Jahnava Devi.
He gave them in marriage to Nityananda Prabhu.
Near the conclusion of His Navadvipa pastimes, when Mahaprabhu desired to accept sannyasa, He came to Kalna to bid farewell to Gauri dasa.
At that time Gauri dasa became extremely afflicted by separation. Hereafter is a nice song which describes what occured at that time:
“In the Thakur Pandit’s house, Lord Gauranga was dancing ecstatically,
revolving around and around, while Lord Nityananda chanted ‘Hari! Hari!’ Gauri dasa, however,
was crying very piteously and incessantly.
He fell at the Lord’s feet and begged Him, ‘Please don’t ever go away from here! Just honor this one request:
stay here in Ambikanagar – this is my last submission at your lotus feet.
If You go away, surely I’ll die.
Don’t try to trick me like You did the gopis, giving some high philosophy about Your ‘Bhava-murti’ (or anything like that).
I must keep You here in such a way that I can see You.
You two brothers just stay here with me, thus everyone will become liberated.
Again I am petitioning You, don’t leave me ‘Gaura Hari’.
Then I’ll know that You are the deliverers of the fallen.”
“Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu replied, ‘Gauri dasa! Give up this idea.
You can just serve My Deity form, for I am personally present in that form also.
You should know this to be a fact.
Just accept what I am telling you as the truth.”
“Hearing this, Gauri dasa simply let out a deep sigh and continued to cry piteously.
Again the two brothers tried to console him but his heart refused to be pacified.
“Dina Krsna dasa is praying at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya, that these two brothers might remain there.
Thus the two of them were bound by the love of Gauri dasa and therefore the Lord is known as bhakta-vatsala or one who is affectionate to His devotees.
“Seeing that Gauri dasa was extremely distraught, Mahaprabhu spoke to him very gently:
‘All right, We’ll stay with you.
Know in all certainty that We two brothers will stay in your house.’
“Consoling him in this way the two Lords came before him in the company of two Deities.
Seeing the four of them standing before him, Panditji was astonished,
and though tears continued to flow from his eyes, now it was not out of sadness.
The Lord again spoke to him, ‘Whichever two you choose, you can keep in your room.
Whichever two you can recognise as Us will stay with you and depend on you to feed Us.
Know this to be the truth of truths within your heart.
“Having heard Mahaprabhu speak these words, Gauri dasa immediately began to cook.
He fed all four of them sumptuously and then offered them nice cloths and garlanded them with garlands of lotus flowers.
Then he offered pan and betel nuts for chewing and smeared sandalwood paste on Their bodies.
By serving them in various ways, he gradually regained his former composure and at the same time decided which two he would keep in his house.
Due to the Pandita’s pure love, two Lords remained with him and asked him to feed them when they were hungry, while the other two went to Nilacala Puri.
Gauri dasa Pandita served his two Lords according to Their whims and enjoyed many pastimes with Them.
“Praying at the lotus feet of such a rare devotee as Pandita Gauri das, Dina Krsna dasa concludes his song.
Becoming subservient to Gauri dasa’ love, Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda accepted the arca vigraha form and remained with him to enjoy sporting pastimes.”
One day the two Lords smilingly spoke to Panditji “Gauri dasa! Previously you were our friend, Subal.
Don’t you remember how we used to play and frolic, enjoying different pastimes on the banks of the Yamuna?”
Speaking in this sweet way, suddenly they took the form of Krsna and Balarama.
Dressed like cowherd boys, They held buffalo horn, cane and flute in Their hands.
Their heads were decorated with peacock feathers and around their necks were garlands of forest flowers, and their lotus feet were decorated with ankle bells.
Gauri dasa also assumed his previous appearance and in this way they enjoyed some fun together.
After some time, Gauri dasa calmed himself, and the two Lords again sat down on the simhasana.
Every day, Gauri dasa used to cook many varieties of vegetables and offer them to Their Lordships.
He was always absorbed in their service and never perceived his own bodily discomfort.
As the years went by, gradually he attained a ripe old age.
Nevertheless he continued to serve his Lordships as before, cooking many various preparations for Them.
Seeing that he was having to exert himself so much to do so much cooking, one day Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda feigned anger and refused to eat.
Panditji was in turn hurt by this and said, “If You get happiness by not eating, then why do You have me cook in the first place?”
After saying this he became silent.
Lord Gauranga smiled and replied softly, “Your cooking is no small accomplishment.
You prepare rice and so many varieties of vegetables.
You won’t listen if We request you not to make so much but We can’t bear to see your hard labor.
Whatever you can prepare easily that would be best.”
Hearing Their statement, Gauri dasa replied, “Anyway, whatever I have prepared today, please accept that.
From tomorrow I won’t feed You with so many preparations.
I’ll just put some sak on Your plate.”
Having heard the reply of Gauri dasa, the two Lords laughed and began to eat.
Sometimes Gauri dasa desired to decorate Their Lordships with ornaments.
Coming to know of this, Sri Gaura-Nityananda put on various ornaments and exhibited themselves in Their full opulence.
When Panditji entered the temple, he smiled with wonder.
“Where did so many ornaments come from?” He was simply astonished in ecstasy.
In this way Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda began to manifest Their opulences through various sporting pastimes in Gauri das’s house.
Gauri dasa’s dearmost disciple was Sri Hrdayananda.
One time, on the occasion of Lord Gaurasundara’s birth anniversary, Gauri dasa went to visit some of his disciples.
At the time of going he left Hrdayananda in charge of worshiping the Deities, which Hrdayananda began to do in full love.
Gradually the appearance day of Mahaprabhu drew very near.
When there were only three days remaining, still Gauri dasa hadn’t returned home yet.
Hrdayananda deliberated for some time about what should be done and finally, being prompted on his own, sent out invitations to all the devotees and disciples to attend the festival.
Just after that, Gauri dasa returned.
Hrdayananda informed his gurudeva that he had written out invitations and had then sent them to the devotees.
Within himself, Gauri dasa was very pleased by Hrdayananda’s service, but externally he feigned great anger and said, “Even in my presence you show so much independence, sending out invitations hither and thither.
Anyway, whatever this upstart has done is done, but he won’t be able to remain here.”
Hearing this, Hrdayananda offered his obeisances and went to sit underneath a tree on the banks of the Ganga.
Shortly thereafter, a rich man passing by in a boat hailed Hrdayananda, wishing to make a donation.
But instead of accepting the donation himself, Hrdayananda sent him to his guru.
However, Gauri dasa sent the man back to Hrdayananda and told him to accept the donation and with it to hold a festival on the banks of the Ganga.
As per the order of his guru, Hrdayananda began to make the necessary preparations.
Gradually, the people that he had sent invitations to began to arrive, but upon hearing that a festival was being held on the Ganges riverbank, they proceeded there first.
In the company of the many devotees, Hrdayananda chanted and dance ecstatically.
The sankirtan was so blissful and attractive that Their Lordships themselves, Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda, came to take part in the dancing and singing.
Hrdayananda was very fortunate to see all of this.
Meanwhile, Gauri dasa was also holding a festival in his house.
When the time came for making an offering, the pujari, Boro Ganga dasa Pandita entered the Deity room only to find that there were no Deities.
He immediately informed Gauri dasa.
Gauri dasa could understand the matter very well and, smiling, he picked up a stick and proceeded towards the kirtana festival on the banks of the Ganges.
Arriving there, he saw the two transcendental brothers engaged in ecstatic dancing.
Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda also saw Gauri dasa approaching in an angry mood with a stick in his hand, and They quickly and silently entered the temple of Hrdayananda’s heart.
Seeing this Gauri das couldn’t restrain his tears of ecstasy.
He forgot his anger and ran towards Hrdayananda with his arms outstretched.
Firmly embracing him he said, “You are so fortunate! From today your name is Hrdaycaitanya.”
Gauri dasa began to bathe him with his tears as Hrdaycaitanya fell at his lotus feet.
Then Gauri dasa took Hrdaycaitanya and all of the devotees to his courtyard where intense chanting and dancing continued.
The assembled Vaisnavas filled the day with the vibrations of “Hari! Hari!”
In this way the birth anniversary celebration of Gaurasundara was observed.
Thereafter Gauri dasa appointed Hrdaycaitanya as the sevaka of the Deities.