Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chapter 42: Pilgrimage to Jagannath Puri

Jagannath Puri

We have said earlier that madhurya or sweet love for Krishna blossomed in the life of revered Bobo. No act of hers reflected that she wanted to attain siddhi (acquisition of supernatural powers).



Revered Bobo was born with innate virtues to accomplish a distinctive purpose on earth.

At one end we can sight the religious devotion of Mahaprabu Vallabhacharyaji, Vitthalnathji,Sur, Nand Dasji,


Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharyaji,

Parmanand Das, Mira and Tulsi in Bobo who was the icon of renunciation, and simultaneously her manner of worship somewhat matched the ecstatic devotion of Shri Shri Manmahaprabhu Chaitanya Dev, Roopji,Sanatanji and others. She had done an extensive study of Jayadeva, the composer of Shri Gita Govinda.The rush of her heart was similar to the religious devotion of Shri Surdas Bilwamangal's 'Krishna Karnamrita' and Prabhodananda Sarasvati's 'Sangeet Madhava', and the bhakti of Vidyapati and Chandidas


Vidyapati


She read the Chaitanya Charitamrita several times and it filled her with inspiration and delight. Her heart repeatedly urged her to have darshan of Braj Madhuri in Neelachal and Gambhira, the sacred site of Mahaprabhuji. The configuration of planets in her horoscope indicated that she would go abroad and she wanted to sacrifice this probability in this journey.


The topic of this pilgrimage had arisen earlier but could not be activated for some reasons.This time, seeing the convenience of the maximum number of devotees, the trip was fixed for 3rd June 1975 and arrangements were made. Shri Manohar Dasji (Bhaiya), revered Bobo, Sushila Bahenji, mother Shyama, Uma, Darshan, along with Urmil, Vimla Kapoor,Santosh, Malka,Santosh Narang, Sumitra,Saroj,Pushpa,Kaki,Sudesh,Beeju, Karuna, Nirmala and Sharma Bhaisaheb, Omi,Basheshur,Rajkumar,Manoj, Vijay and others set out in the local train.


Bobo had a premonition of some mishap and so did Manohar Dasji. Since some pilgrims had taken leave for the journey it was considered best to leave and they boarded the local train from Vrindavan. Getting distanced from Shyam Bhaisaheb, Nirmal Gupta and others, the train gathered speed.All of a sudden a utensil kept above fell on Bhaiya and then on Bobo.She got hurt near her eye and bled. It seemed they had both taken the prophesied pain on themselves.


The Toofan Express reached Mathura Station in a short while and stopped. Without looking for reservation everyone sat somehow, having kept their luggage.In handing over Thakurji to a Bahen something fell from his sinhasan but the train had started.They came to know later that a cow resplendent with Shri Thakurji had fallen in the railway track. Pulling the chain did not stop the train.Shri Basheshur had sensed the fall and looked after the train had left. He was stunned, this cow had borne the disaster and stood upright in the track.


Revered Bobo had sat down in a compartment while Shri Thakur was in another. Her plight had to be seen until Shri Thakur reached Bobo when the train stopped at Agra. Meanwhile Basheshur took the sacred cow in a taxi and arrived at Agra Station to meet everyone. The train chugged and gradually leaving several stations behind and crossing hundreds of miles,pulled in at Howrah Station. Bahen Indu, Shri Vijay, Vrinda and Ruchir had joined them at Durgapur Station and came along. Shruti had met the lot earlier in Asansol.


Howrah Station.

"We were not to stop over at Howrah and it was time for the Puri Express to leave. Hurriedly we caught the train and journeyed throughout the night.After crossing the great river we reached Bhubaneswar at daybreak. Finally on 5th June all of us reached Puri when it struck nine.


After arranging for our stay the idea of having darshan of Jagannathji in the evening stuck us.As a matter of chance we stayed near that site where Shri Manmahaprabhu spent the last eighteen years of his life, steeped in the memories of Radha-Krishna." An ardently longing to have darshan of Gambhira, (house of Kasi Misra) made Bobo go to Jagannath Puri.


(The shringara bhakti or ecstatic devtion, which Chaitantya Mahaprabhu indulged in through his feminity, can only be gauged by Shri Svarupa Damodara and Ramanand Rai, his close associates or devotees of the same standing).Chaitanya Mahaprabhuji is said to have taken birth in this human world as Radha herself to spread the message of madhurya bhakti (or a certain spirituality that can only arise by indulging in love)


When they knew that Gambhira was absolutely near, Bobo wished to visit that site instantly.


Gambhira

Having darshan of Gambhira in the evening, and propitiating the padukas (wooden sandals) of Shri Manmahaprabhu and his sacred garments, everyone was delighted. Who had the competence to measure Bobo's heights of elation and ecstasy. She had a tendency to remain secretive and never exhibited her bhavas.At times she would visit the site alone to relish its joy.


She saw Jagannathji in the same Vrindavan Vihari form, while having darshan; holding a flute with the vaijayanti mala around his neck (multicoloured garland of Krishna),faintly smiling with a sidelong glance.


Sighting fingerprints marking the boulder when Shri Manmahaprabhu was having darshan of Jagannathji, she was moved by the anguish of his separation.


Swami Shri Haridas

Meanwhile going close to the siddh Bakul tree, the thought of Shri Haridasji tugged her and she admired his dedication in taking the Lord's name.


A plan was made to bathe in the ocean next day.Seeing the unfathomable ocean she was ecstatic and the memory of Shri Manmahaprabhu, cowherdesses of Braj entering the blue waters of Shri Yamuna with handsome Krishna, water sports and the terrifying rush of love, filled her with a particular enthusiasm.


Gundicha Temple

Having darshan of Gundicha Temple (the most important sanctuary of Jagannath),


Tota Gopinath


along with Sakshi Gopal she was ecstatic.


Alalnath

During this episode they went for darshan of Alalnath situated about thirty miles from Puri. The beauty of this isolated and desolate site amidst trees of jack-fruit is inexpressible.


They even sighted the greatly fortunate boulder eroded by the touch of Shriman Mahaprabhuji during the pathos of his longing since he could not have darshan of Lord Jagannath. Bobo had said,”This site touched by Manmahaprabhuji's ardent longing led to prints of his limbs being marked on this rock. And right there she heard Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's voice exulting repeatedly,” Shri Krishna”, “Shri Krishna” and was thrilled. Everyone returned to Puri in the evening.


Bathing the Shri Yugal, worshipping, plus attending to the needs of Priya-Priyatam was sacrosanct in Bobo's life.Revered Shri Manohar Baba kept the proposal of bathing their sacred Yugal in the ocean. Her mind could not accept this because she was wary of the hard water.


But amazingly the same Radha-Krishna svarupa could be seen taking a bath in the ocean with surging waves soaking them. Soon after she had said enthused, “Shri Yugal have taken a dip in the ocean.” Sumitra Bahen also envisioned them taking a bath in the same clothes which they were wearing that day.


On one such day she was adulating the ocean's dark splendour on its shore and shut her eyes off and on.


On opening her eyes she saw Shri Sitaji in exile, Shri Ramji and Laxmanji with matted hair, advancing towards her.Their heights were much more than common people. In the prime of their youth, all three of them were walking in the sky, above the earth.Kishoriji was wearing a dark reddish lehenga embroidered with Banarsi zardosi sprigs, sporting an enrapturing smile. Bobo sat still for quite some time but told Manohar Bhaiya that it seems Ramji had a certain connection with this place.


Though she relished the sites in Puri she would often be reminded of Braj and Vrindavan. Thus roaming around the places for a week she came to Calcutta on the 10th with everyone.Shri Ramchandraji Dampani who knew Manohar Dasji earlier had made satisfactory arrangements for their stay and darshan.


Coming to Calcutta Bobo went for darshan of Ma Kali and remembered her childhood. In Ambala she was made to wear the sacred garment of Ma Kali for her long life.


The next day the group went for darshan to Dakshineshwar Temple. Ever since childhood she had been impressed


Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa

by the dependence of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa's lifestyle and bhava.The secluded shore of the Ganges and the charming scene of Panchvati apparently reminded of the constant closeness of Paramhansaji.She was thrilled to see the personal chamber of Paramahansa inside.


Ma Sharda

At this end seeing Ma Sharda's quarters she was sentimental. Meanwhile they went to have darshan of Ma Kali


Dakshineshwar Kali

and on seeing her living presence, she exulted, "Seeing her living presence it seems as if the essence of Ramakrishna Paramhansa Deva's lovable seva is spilling over from Ma's eyes.”


Thereafter she went to Belur Math.The pristine scene of that place abounding with the pure clean bhava of Ramakrishna Parmahansa, delighted everyone.And she was joyous on seeing the personal chamber and collection of his posessions.


Spending two days in Calcutta, she stayed at Bahen Indu's (who had been reared in her affectionate patronage since childhood) house in Durgapur, because of her fond insistence.Thereafter she came to Banaras, the sacred site of Bhootnath (title of Shiva).


At the Kashi Railway Station she saw Lord Shankar, the Aadi Vaishnava, in the sky welcoming his devotees. He kept his hand on her head and assured her repeatedly of being her guru.


Bindu Madhav Ghat

Having darshan of the Bindu Madhav Ghat in Banaras, where Shri Mahaprabhu had stopped over closeby, and


Manikarnika Ghat,


Shri Kashi Vishwanath-Varanasi

she had darshan of Lord Vishwanath. There in the temple she saw Lord Shankar again. Sighting several other places she went to the ashram of Ma Anandamayi. Meeting and talking to Shri Gopinath Kaviraj residing there, she was delighted.


Meanwhile she had darshan of siddh Hanumanji, who releases us from adversities, and the one who protected Tulsidasji from many physical ailments.Staying here for two days she came to


Prayag

Prayag.Bathing at the confluence of three rivers, the triveni in Prayag she was delighted and left for Chitrakoot.


Chitrakoot: The journey to Chitrakoot turned out to be an independent section of the great pilgrimage.They faced some difficulty en route but reached the place by evening.


Site Where Lord Ram and Bharat Met

Bharat Milap: Bathing in the Mandakini River they circumambulated the Kamadgiri Temple. Observing the site where Shri Ram and Bharat met in this route she was particularly moved. Their foot prints marked the rocks.Both the factions meeting each other upfront-is clearly marked by the crowded footprints even today.


Sphatik Shila

Sphatik Shila: It appears extremely smooth and beautiful marked by the sacred feet of Shri Ram even at present.Stringing the tenderly holy feet in its bosom, it stands proud.


Bobo and her associates had darshan of Anasuya Kund,Sahasra Dhara, Sita Kund and several other sites.


While going to Sahasra Dhara by boat they had a narrow escape. There was excessive water in the turbulent river and around twenty to twenty two people were on board. The rope broke free from the boatman's hands and hence the boat rocked but stabilised gradually.All the associates relied Bobo who in turn had implicit faith in the blue-hued Krishna.


Relishing the sights there, Bobo reached Lucknow with everyone. She could not get a chance to go to Ayodhya, the site of Shri Ram, due to not getting transport and lack of time.


Hence with charming memories of her delightful pilgrimage, Bobo came to Shri Dham in the last week of June in 1975.Though she roamed around everywhere but her mind was steeped in constant reminiscences of Vrindavan and Vrindavan Vihari.


Madhuri or the sentiment of sweet romance is strewn in bucolic groves of Braj . Therefore why not be drawn by the romantic dalliance of Radha-Krishna unfolding in the idyllic pastures of Vrindavan was Bobo's perspective and her firm belief.

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