Glories of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita
[January 3, 2023 is the appearance day of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is the bhāva anuvāda of the kathā given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on the disappearance day of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita, on January 18, 2010. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets from Śrī Caitanya Bhāgavata and other sources to facilitate proper flow of content.]
NIMĀI'S UNUSUAL REQUEST
Even as a toddler, Nimāi engaged everyone in hari-kīrtana. Until He heard the vibration of the holy names, He wouldn’t stop crying. His actions and sweet words made a deep impression in everyone’s heart. His beauty and charm were so captivating that when mother Śacī would sing kīrtana to quiet Nimāi down, all the neighboring ladies would gleefully accompany her.
One day, however, not even hari-kīrtana could calm Nimāi down. When Jagannātha Miśra enquired, “O Nimāi, what will make You stop crying? How can we pacify You?”, He replied, “I want a little bit of each of the offerings prepared for the Lordships at Jagadīśa Paṇḍita’s house today. Only then will I be appeased.”
Why? Because Nimāi desired to manifest the glory of His devotees, Jagadīśa Paṇḍita and Hiraṇya Paṇḍita, who had made many delectable preparations on the day of Ekādaśī for their Deity. It is ironic that although it was Ekādaśī, many preparations were made [for the pleasure of their Lordships], as generally devotees are accustomed to making less [non-Ekādaśī] preparations on Ekādaśī, since they themselves don’t honor them on that day. Moreover, it is amusing that little Nimāi was aware of this fact, especially since Navadvīpa, being the capital of the state in those days, was a big city too, and Jagadīśa Paṇḍita’s residence was far away from Jagannātha Miśra’s.
For the sake of his son, Jagannātha Miśra shamelessly went to Jagadīśa Paṇḍita’s house to fulfill Nimāi’s rather unusual request. [Nimai's request was unprecedented. What He demanded was neither practiced among men nor sanctioned in the scriptures.]
Upon seeing Jagannātha Miśra, Jagadīśa Paṇḍita enquired, “What does Nimāi have to say?” “He is constantly crying”, Jagannātha Miśra reported. When Jagadīśa Paṇḍita probed, “Have you tried singing kīrtana?”, Jagannātha Miśra submitted, “Although there has been constant kīrtana, it is not sufficient to calm Him down today. He has made a rather unusual request. He wants a bit of the many preparations that you have made today for your Lordships.” Amazed, Jagadīśa Paṇḍita said, “Sure enough, please take them. But how is little Nimāi aware of so many preparations being made here today? Even my neighbors aren’t! Surely Lord Kṛṣṇa must be residing in Nimāi.” Interestingly, Jagadīśa Paṇḍita did not think Nimāi was Bhagavān Himself, but a place where Bhagavān resides. Nimāi finally relented when He received all those offerings.
JAGANNĀTHA GOES WITH JAGADĪŚA PAṆḌITA
Some time later, when Jagadīśa Paṇḍita visited Purī for Lord Jagannātha’s darśana, he did not feel like returning home. He thought, “It is better if I reside here; this way I will be able to take Lord Jagannātha’s darśana every day.” That night, the Lord, who achieves many things through a single action, appeared to Jagadīśa Paṇḍita in a dream and instructed him, “Take Me with you.” Jagadīśa Paṇḍita asked, “Will the King allow You to come with me?” Lord Jagannātha replied, “I will instruct the King. When My nava-kalevaram takes place, you take My earlier Deity with you.” Jagadīśa Paṇḍita exclaimed, “How can I carry Your massive Deity with me all the way home, 600 kilometers away?” Lord Jagannātha assured him, “I will become as light as a chickpea so that you could even carry Me in your jholā (a cloth bag*). Don’t take Me on a ratha (cart) though, as it reminds of how the paṇḍās abuse Me while taking Me to the ratha. And there is one condition. Wherever you place Me first, I will reside there forever.”
In reality, Lord Jagannātha only used the paṇḍās’ example as a pretext to avoid being carried on a ratha. To this day, the paṇḍās abuse Him, only as an expression of their love for Him. Outsiders may not appreciate it, but Lord Jagannātha actually likes it because they do so for His service.
The King gave the old Jagannātha Deity to Jagadīśa Paṇḍita as per Jagannātha’s instruction to him. Jagadīśa Paṇḍita had almost carried that Deity all the way up to his residence (which was 600 kilometers from Purī) until he had to answer nature’s call at the village of Yaśaḍā-grāma, in the district of Nadiā near the Cākadaha railway station.
[While wondering what to do,] Jagadīśa Paṇḍita noticed a brāhmaṇa boy on his way back from a bath in the Ganges and requested him to hold the Jagannātha Deity until he returned. After sometime the brāhmaṇa began to call out, “Come fast! I can no longer tolerate the weight of this Deity!” Jagadīśa Paṇḍita scampered to get there quickly, but before he could arrive at the spot, the boy had already placed Jagannātha on the ground.
When Jagadīśa Paṇḍita arrived, the Deity, manifesting the form of Viśvambhara, smilingly told him, “Look, I told you. Wherever you place Me first, I will remain there.” He tried very hard to lift the Deity, but was unsuccessful. Although his house was just 50-60 kilometers from that place, Jagadīśa Paṇḍita didn’t return home and instead, resided there under a banyan tree and served the Deity.
When the King discovered this he wasn’t happy, as it is inauspicious for any King to let any god or goddess to be inconvenienced within his kingdom. The King presumed that this was an excuse on behalf of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita to acquire property to construct a temple, so the King ordered, “You please take the Deity to your residence. I cannot allow you to worship Him here.” Jagadīśa Paṇḍita asserted, “It is Jagannātha’s desire, not mine, that He be worshipped here. What can I do?” Such a claim is ordinarily not believable so the King sent elephants to lift the Deity, but they failed as well. The King then pondered, “Oh, I have committed an offense!” So, he donated a large area of land for the service of the Deity where a temple was constructed. Even a special platform (manca) was built for the Ḍola-yātrā in that temple.
WHEN WILL MĀDHAVA COME TO SERVE ME?
Those in the lineage of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita continued serving the Jagannātha Deity until Viśvanātha Gosvāmī, the last descendant who was without any progeny, passed on the service in 1962.
While he was worried about the continuity of Lord’s service, he was unwilling to hand it over to any non-brāhmaṇa. Earlier the Gauḍīya Maṭha had expressed their willingness to take up the service, but Viśvanātha Gosvāmī had denied them. Later, upon discovering that my Guru Mahārāja was a born-brāhmaṇa, he sent a postcard, requesting him to take up the service. At that time, we were in Haridvāra for the Pūrṇa-kumbha-melā of 1962. Upon receiving the postcard, Guru Mahārāja called me to discuss. Although he would consult with us for our opinion, he always took the most appropriate decision eventually. Guru Mahārāja always responded to all correspondence in time and if he could not, he would beg forgiveness for the delay.
I suggested we write, “Presently we are at the Kumbha. Later we are headed to Delhi, Jaipur, Vṛndāvana and then to Kolkata. When I come to Māyāpura from Kolkata, I will personally visit your place and only after assessing, I will be in a position to convey my decision to you.” I wrote this and Guru Mahārāja signed it.
When Guru Mahārāja reached Cākadaha, the local authorities tried to persuade him to take over the service. But Guru Mahārāja told Viśvanātha Gosvāmī, “You are in the lineage of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita. Your service is pleasing to Lord Jagannātha. Should you need any monetary support, I could send it on a monthly basis so that the service continues.” But the Gosvāmī denied saying, “If I were to die untimely, who would carry on the service? The present service standard would become extinct and thieves would plunder everything away.” It was a delicate situation and extremely burdensome to refuse, especially given the persuasion of the authorities to take up the service. Guru Mahārāja, [unable to decide] proceeded to Māyāpura and asked his senior god-brothers what he must do. Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Gosvāmī Mahārāja said, “You don’t have service (purātana sevā) of any ancient Deity. Since it is coming to you of its own accord, so you should accept it.” Suddenly Guru Mahārāja thought, “Alas! I am a pākhaṇḍī (hypocrite)! Bhagavān desires to accept my service and yet I am the one to delay it!” After he made the decision to take up the service, I proceeded from Māyāpura while Śrī Giri Mahārāja and Jagamohana Prabhu came from Kolkata, and we completed the registry and other formalities. Later Guru Mahārāja came from Kolkata along with the party carrying all the paraphernalia [which was missing there such as cāmara, peacock fan, thālīs (big plates), conch, etc.] to carry out the festivities.
Since the temple was at a distant location, a dharma sabhā (religious convention) was organized in the city of Cākadaha at three different schools and many invitations were sent. The response was so overwhelming that the entire ground was occupied. Many disciples of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura spoke in the assembly including Śrīla Bhakti Vikāsa Hṛṣīkeśa Gosvāmī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhakti Pramod Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Śrīla Bhakti Pramod Purī Gosvāmī Mahārāja later published Śrīla Bhakti Vikāsa Hṛṣīkeśa Gosvāmī Mahārāja’s offering in the ‘Caitanya-vāṇī’ where he had quoted this verse, hinting the name of Śrīla Bhakti Dayitā Mādhava Mahārāja,“kabe āsi’ mādhava āmā karibe sevana (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya, 4.39). Just like Gopāla waited for Mādhava (Śrī Mādhavendra Purī) to come and serve Him, similarly Jagannātha also said, kabe āsi’ mādhava āmā karibe sevana. When will Mādhava come to serve Me?”
Since then the service has been going on. The service was awarded to us on the condition that we celebrate three festivals annually - Jagadīśa Paṇḍita’s viraha-utsava, Snāna-yātrā and Ḍola-yātrā. Śrī Śrī Rādhā Govinda would be taken for the Ḍola-yātrā.
There is also a Deity of baby Nimāi [called Gaura-gopāla] in that temple. Nimāi had drunk the breast milk of Śrīmatī Duḥkhinī devī, the wife of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita, who loved Nimāi very much. She was very much despondent after Nimāi accepted sannyāsa, so He gave her this Deity to worship [assuring her that He would be present in that Deity].
One day, while boiling milk Śrīmatī Duḥkhinī devī left it unattended. At that time, to prevent it from spilling over, the Gaura-gopāla Deity went there and stirred the milk. This act burnt His hand, leaving a mark as a testimony to the service He rendered for His devotee.
THE ANNUAL VIRAHA-UTSAVA OF JAGADĪŚA PAṆḌITA
Since 1962, Śrī Caitanya Gauḍīya Maṭha has been serving there. Guru Mahārāja used to hold a three-day festival and now a two-day festival is being held for the disappearance day of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita.
Today the disappearance festival will be held followed by nagara-saṅkīrtana where the same stick with the jholā, in which Lord Jagannātha was carried, will be taken out on procession. Today a special bhoga, named malsā bhoga, is offered there to Lord Jagannātha, Gaura-gopāla, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-vallabhā and 64 mahantas in the temple verānda (porch). People have deep regard for this bhoga and come even from distant places to honor that prāsāda. Malsā bhoga is prepared by first washing civaḍā [flattened rice] in water and then adding ghee to it. After that guḍ (jaggery) or sugar, dates, oranges, sugar cane pieces, yogurt, milk, sweet meats, ber fruit etc. are offered as per the niyama for the 64 mahanta bhoga and each is offered with a different mantra. This is not done in any of our other maṭhas.
In the dharma sabhā, the glories of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita are discussed. Bhagavān engages His devotee in service in order to bestow His mercy. Is He bereft of anything? Does He feel hungry? Even though Bhagavān is pūrṇa vastu (complete in Himself), He is hungry for the love of His devotees. To manifest the love of Jagadīśa Paṇḍita for Him and proclaim it to the world, Lord Jagannātha requested Jagadīśa Paṇḍita to take Him along and serve Him. He willingly left a place where He was getting multiple chappan bhogas a day, and just to bestow His mercy, He settled in a small village. This is Bhagavān’s specialty – whenever He desires to accept service from any particular devotee, He will arrange for it accordingly.
Śrī Jagadīśa Paṇḍita [and Śrī Hiraṇya Paṇḍita] were wives (yajña-patnis) of the Vedic brāhmaṇas in Kṛṣṇa līlā. [I pray at his lotus feet for his mercy today.]
*jholā -– a cloth bag which is either hung around the neck or over the shoulder, or carried on the shoulder by being tied to the end of a wooden stick.