Ramacandra Puri Visits Jagannatha Puri
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was living in Jagannatha Puri with his devotees. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was feeling great separation from Krishna. Although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself, He was relishing the mood of separation from Krishna and He was acting, not as Krishna, but as Krishna’s pure devotee to show us the highest level of love of God.
When Krishna appears on this earth He does not appear alone, he comes with His associates. When Krishna appears, He also takes initiation from a spiritual master so Krishna’s spiritual master also appears in this world and even Krishna’s spiritual master’s spiritual master appears. All in preparation for the appearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in this world.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted Sri Isvara Puri as His spiritual master and Sri Isvara Puri’s spiritual master was Sri Madhavendra Puri. This story of Ramacandra Puri’s visit to Jagannatha Puri illustrates the difference between a devotee who pleases and gets the blessings of his spiritual master and a devotee who displeases his spiritual master and is thus condemned by him.
Sri Isvara Puri was a very great servant of his spiritual master, Sri Madhavendra Puri. Just before Sri Madhavendra Puri left his body Isvara Puri was rendering personal service to him. He was always talking about Krishna and helping Madhavendra Puri remember Krishna at the time of his departure from this material world. He was also rendering Madhavendra Puri personal bodily service. Madhavendra Puri could not move and Isvara Puri was personally cleaning up his stool and urine. In this way he became very dear to his spiritual master and received his blessings and pure love for Krishna was manifest in his heart. Later Sri Isvara Puri became the spiritual master of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
On the other hand, Sri Isvara Puri had another disciple, Ramacandra Puri, and he also came to visit his spiritual master as he was preparing to leave this world. At this time Ramacandra Puri heard his spiritual master chanting the name of Krishna and also sometimes crying out, “Oh Lord, I did not get shelter of Mathura.” Ramacandra Puri was so foolish that he dared to instruct his spiritual master. He said, “If you are full of transcendental bliss you should only remember Brahman. Why are you crying?” In this way Ramacandra Puri committed a great offense because the disciple should never try to instruct the spiritual master. Ramacandra Puri could not understand that his spiritual master was feeling transcendental separation from Krishna. His lamentation was not material. It was from the highest stage of ecstatic love of Krishna. Even though he could not understand his spiritual master, Ramacandra Puri thought he was very advanced. He considered himself qualified to instruct his spiritual master. Therefore he advised Madhavendra Puri to remember Brahman as he was really an impersonalist.
Madhavendra Puri could understand Ramacandra Puri was a great fool and so he became very angry and said, “Get out you sinful rascal!” Then he prayed to Krishna, “Oh my Lord Krishna, I could not reach You nor could I reach Your abode Mathura. I am dying in unhappiness and now this rascal has come to give me more pain.” He continued speaking to Ramacandra Puri, “Don’t show your face to me. You can go to any place you like. If I die seeing your face I will not achieve the destination of my life. I am dying without achieving the shelter of Krishna and therefore I am greatly unhappy. Now this condemned foolish rascal has come to instruct me about Brahman.” In this way Madhavendra Puri rejected Ramacandra Puri. Because of his offenses gradually material desires appeared within his heart.
If someone approaches a spiritual master simply in search of knowledge, his gain is only dry speculative knowledge, he does not get any spiritual profit. Even if one is liberated in this life, if one offends the Supreme Personality of Godhead or his devotee he falls down because of so many material desires. One who is attached to dry speculative knowledge has no relationship with Krishna. His occupation is simply to criticize Vaisnavas.
Ramacandra Puri had a strong desire to criticize others. Impersonal Mayavadis cannot actually take to devotional service. They simply engage in material arguments to understand Brahman. They regard devotional service to Krishna as a material activity. Therefore they criticize the devotees for engaging in material activities. They think devotional service is maya and that Krishna or Visnu is also maya, therefore they are called “Mayavadis”. This mentality awakens in a person who is an offender to Krishna and His devotees.
So we can see the difference between the two disciples of Madhavendra Puri. Isvara Puri, while performing such personal favorable service to his spiritual master received the blessings of his spiritual master and pure love for Krishna developed within his heart. Ultimately he got the mercy of accepting the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as his disciple. On the other hand, Ramacandra Puri, by criticizing his spiritual master, became an impersonalist Mayavadi and his occupation became criticizing the Vaisnavas.
Ramacandra Puri visited Jagannatha Puri and his program was to visit various Vaisnavas to take his meals. He would do this even without an invitation so there was no certainty where he would go for his meals. When he visited the devotees he was very particular to notice how they were eating. Ramacandra Puri would eat very sumptuously himself, then he would feed the devotees and he would encourage them to eat more and more. At one time he visited Jagadananda Pandit to take his meals. So a large quantity of prasadam was brought from the Jagannatha temple for distribution. Ramacandra Puri ate sumptuously and then he wanted to find some fault in Jagadananda Pandit. After finishing his meal he requested Jagadananda, “My dear Jagadananda, you eat all the prasadam that is left.” Very eagerly Ramacandra Puri seated Jagadananda Pandit and personally served him prasadam. Encouraging him again and again he fed Jagadananda sumptuously. When Jagadananda Pandit finished eating and began to wash his hands Ramacandra Puri began to criticize him, “I have heard,” he said, “that the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu eat more than necessary and now I have seen personally that this is true.”
This was Ramacandra Puri’s program. He would purposely induce a devotee to eat more than necessary then he would criticize him. After visiting many of the Lord’s devotees and criticizing them for overeating [after inducing them to overeat] Ramacandra Puri began to investigate Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movements. He was trying to find out about how Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took His lunch, how much He slept and so on. Because Ramacandra Puri was only interested in finding faults he could not understand the transcendental qualities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His only concern was finding faults. But still, he could not find any faults with the Lord.
At last, he thought he found a fault. “How can a person in the renounced order eat so many sweets?” He said, “If one eats sweets controlling the senses is very difficult.” In this way Ramacandra Puri criticized Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in front of everyone, however he continued to visit the Lord every day. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramacandra Puri met the Lord would offer him respectful obeisances considering him a godbrother of his spiritual master. Ramacandra Puri’s business, however, was to search for faults in the Lord.
Of course Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the omniscient Supreme Personality of Godhead, was quite aware of the nature of Ramacandra Puri, that he was a Mayavadi, that he was a blasphemer, that he was only trying to find faults. So what was Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s reaction to that? He treated Ramacandra Puri as His spiritual master’s godbrother and respected him practically on the same level as his spiritual master. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew that Ramacandra Puri was criticizing Him in front of everyone, but whenever Ramacandra Puri came to see Him the Lord offered him respect and great attention.
One day Ramacandra Puri came to the house of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the morning and he saw many ants walking around. He immediately exclaimed, “Last night there was sugar-candy here! Therefore the ants are wandering about. Alas! This renounced sannyasi is attached to sense gratification!” After finding this imaginary fault in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu he stood up and left. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had heard many rumors about the criticism of Ramacandra Puri, now He had personally heard his fanciful acquisitions. Ants generally crawl about here and there and everywhere, but Ramacandra Puri was looking for imaginary faults so he criticized Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu claiming there had been sweets in His room.
After hearing this criticism Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was doubtful and apprehensive. He instructed His personal servant, Govinda, that “From today I shall only accept half as much prasadam as usual.” He said, “If you bring any more than this I will leave this place and you will not see Me anymore.” Govinda informed all the other devotees and when they heard it they felt as if their heads had been struck by thunderbolts. All the devotee condemned Ramacandra Puri saying, “This sinful man has come here and taken our lives.” After this both Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Govinda ate only half the food they needed. Because of this all the other devotees gave up eating.
Some days passed in great unhappiness and after hearing what had happened Ramacandra Puri again visited Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The Lord offered His obeisances to Ramacandra Puri, worshiping His feet. Then Ramacandra Puri smiled and instructed the Lord, “It is not the business of a sannyasi to gratify his senses, however, he should fill his belly somehow or other. I have heard that you have cut your eating in half. Indeed I see that you are skinny. Such dry renunciation is also not the religion of a sannyasi! A sannyasi eats as much as necessary to maintain his body but he does not enjoy satisfying his senses materially. Thus a sannyasi becomes perfect in spiritual advancement and knowledge.”
“There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system.” (Bg 6.16-17)
Then Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu humbly submitted, “I am just like an ignorant boy and I am like your disciple. It is my great fortune that you are instructing Me.” Hearing this Ramacandra Puri got up and left. He also heard from various sources that all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu were eating half as much as usual.
So we can see Ramacandra Puri was such a critic that he criticized Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for eating too much, then when the Lord reduced His eating by half he criticized Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu for not eating enough. This is the difference between Isvara Puri, who got the blessings of Sri Madhavendra Puri, and Ramacandra Puri who displeased his spiritual master. Within Isvara Puri pure love of Krishna developed and he became a pure devotee and became the spiritual master of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. However, Ramacandra Puri, by displeasing his spiritual master became a big Mayavadi whose only business was to criticize the Vaisnavas.
The amazing thing is all along Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu respected Ramacandra Puri as being almost on an equal level with His spiritual master, and He was accepting the advice of Ramacandra Puri and took it as very valuable. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Why are you all angry at Ramacandra Puri? He is explaining the natural principles of sannyasa life. Why are you accusing him? For a sannyasi to indulge in satisfying the tongue is a great offense. A sannyasi should only eat what is needed to keep the body and soul together.”
In this way Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu respected Ramacandra Puri even though Ramacandra Puri was a blasphemer and a Mayavadi. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sometimes accepted Ramacandra Puri as His master and considered Himself a servant and other times the Lord completely ignored him and treated him just like a straw. Such are the wonderful, inconceivable pastimes of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu behaved exactly like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, beyond the restriction of anyone’s intelligence. Whatever He liked He did, but His activities were very beautiful.
Ramacandra Puri only stayed in Jagannatha Puri for a short time and then he left to visit other holy places of pilgrimage. As soon as Ramacandra Puri left Jagannatha Puri all the devotees felt extremely happy, as if a great burden had been lifted from their shoulders. After his departure everything in Jagannatha Puri went back to normal and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the usual invitations and the usual prasadam and lead the congregational chanting of: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
So if the spiritual master rejects someone he becomes so fallen that he, like Ramacandra Puri, commits offenses even to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, of course, did not consider the offenses of Ramacandra Puri, for the Lord considered him to be His spiritual master. However, the character of Ramacandra Puri educated everyone about the result of offending the spiritual master. The character of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is full of nectar, hearing about it is pleasing to the ear and the mind. I write about the character of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. O readers, please hear with attention, thus you will easily receive ecstatic love from the lotus feet of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Praying at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Raghunatha always desiring their mercy Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami narrates the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
All glories to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who has given us such a wonderful, ecstatic, transcendental English translation of Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami’s Sri Caitanya-caritamrta so we can have some idea of the life and pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
[based on Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila chapter 8]