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The Inseparable

The Inseparable

In general, it is difficult for us to appreciate the intensity of the mood of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates. Hearing about it, we can only wonder. It is as if sometimes their so-called physical bodies were not enough to contain all the love they felt for each other and for Krishna, because their feelings and emotions exploded and broke out in what we like to call “ecstatic symptoms”—perspiration, trembling, changing of their bodily colour, and in songs, kirtan. These expressions of bhakti seem to have been always overflowing. This is the experience of the rasa, amrita, sindhu, the ocean of the emotions of bhakti rasa.

Amongst the closest associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was of course Gadadhara Thakur, who came from the Chittagong area, which is in the southeast of what is presently called Bangladesh. He moved to Navadvipa at a young age, and there he met Nimai, the boy born under a neem tree, later known as Nimai Pandit. Gadadhara was also known as a pandit. Pandit means learned person, especially brahmana. So, Gadadhara was in the same social class as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and to say they were “close friends” would be an understatement. According to biographers, they were practically inseparable. We can also think of this sort of friendship as something we don’t see in this world. Such a deep friendship is pure friendship.

Once Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was intensely desiring to see Krishna. He was still young, and it was at home, where His mother, Sacimata and Gadadhara also were present. Nimai demanded: “Where is my Krishna in his beautiful yellow dress? Where is he?! Where is he?!” And his mood was so intense that Sacimata was really worried. She was keeping away from her Nimai, thinking about the troubles her son could get into, being in one of these moods. Gadadhara was also there and he was able to think quickly and come up with the right response. There were always these ups and downs in the mood of Nimai, and Sacimata said: “Gadadhara, you should always be here. Please be always around, because something is always happening, and I don’t know what to do. Will you please stay around?” There was something in his mood and character that would readily pacify the Lord.

In his gentle mood of Rukmini, Gadadhara was giving Caitanya Mahaprabhu an opportunity to relate to Her loving exchange with Krishna. It is said that Srimati Radharani wanted to appear as a man because as a woman, She was always in trouble, the trouble of reputation. There were always rumours circling around Vrindavan, like in any village there are always rumours. And of course, the rumours were actually true, but it was troublesome for Her, as the reputation of a woman is a big thing in a village. That is why Srimati Radharani thought the best way would be to be born as a male, so She could freely associate with Krishna.

In the spiritual world, every desire is being fulfilled. It is also true for the material world, you know that. Whatever desire you have, it will be fulfilled. The only problem is the desire itself. Because when it does get fulfilled, you think: “Oh no! Is this what I wanted? Please, Krishna, I did not mean it!” And in the spiritual world, all desires are also fulfilled and they all are very nice. They are nice because they are desires of service, they expand service to Krishna. And there is always plenty of opportunity to serve, so, when Radharani wants to appear as a male, She appears as Gadadhara Pandit. That is according to Narottamdas Thakur in one of his songs of the Prarthana.

Gadadhara had such an affection for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that he had made a very serious promise, or vow, to always remain in Jagannath Puri, or to take a kshetra sannyasa. And he had made another vow, namely, to worship one particular deity of Krishna, Tota Gopinath. Tota means garden, where this deity was discovered by Caitanya Mahaprahu. This very beautiful Deity is still there today, but His form, the position is different from the position that Gadadhara was worshiping most of his life. Initially, the fairly large deity from black stone was standing. One day coming up to the Deity and offering a garland became very difficult for Gadadhara, and not because he got very old — he was only one year younger than Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who left the world at the mundane perspective at the age of forty-eight. Gadadhara could not bear life without his beloved Lord. He could not reach anymore and, as we are told, this deity of Tota Gopinath, who used to be standing in His famous tribanga form, sat down. He did not say, “Get a ladder or a chair,” - He just sat down in the lotus position and He is still sitting like that today. He sat down for his beloved devotee, so Gadadhara could continue his service.

Although Gadadhara made these two vows, when Caitanya Mahaprabhu was leaving, he was ready to break them. He decided to follow Mahaprabhu and he was persistent, he would not listen to the strong arguments of his Lord. Lord Caitanya first allowed him to follow at some distance, but after some time it appeared not to work out and Gadadhara had to go back, just to please his Lord. It was certainly heart-breaking for him, and it is said that he fainted. But then the most touching part of the story came. Mahaprabhu was on his way to Vrindavan ever since he took sannyasa, but it didn’t work out. When several attempts of Caitanya Mahaprahu to reach Vrindavan failed, he came back to Gadadhara and said: “I offended you, that is why I couldn’t get to Vrindavan.” Such kind of loving exchange!

It is strange that Caitanya Mahaprabhu, again and again, failed to reach Vrindavan. He is the Lord, and the Lord can do whatever He wants. But no. Lord Caitanya is the Lord of bhakti, of the devotion between the Lord and His devotees, and in this devotion, He becomes dependent, He allows Himself to be controlled by His loving devotees. And this is the sweetest thing: the Lord is the Lord, except when it comes to His relationship, to His loving exchanges with His devotees, then all this “lordship” gets just put on the side. What interests Him is the exchange of love.

With their love, devotees are controlling the Lord, through different moods in their relationships with Him. Gadadhara was a sakha—a friend, who enlivened Mahaprabhu with Krishna-katha. Except for worshiping Tota Gopinatha, he had yet another service, namely, chanting, reading or reciting Srimad Bhagavatam to Lord Caitanya. Such a nice service! “What is your service, prabhu?” “I read Srimad Bhagavatam to Lord Caitanya!” Actually, you can do it. You can have a picture of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and read Srimad Bhagavatam for Him. You can read Srimad Bhagavatam to your Deities; by that, you will follow the footsteps of Gadadhara Pandit.

—His Holiness Krishna Kshetra Swami in a lecture on Sri Gadadhara Pandita’s appearance day (May 3, 2011) at Lubljana, Slovenia.