Circumambulation of the Circle of Braja by Sree Chaitanya
As published in The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
Edited by Paramahamsa Paribrajakacharyya Sri Srimad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj
LORD Chaitanya restored their sanctifying efficacy to the Tirthas of the Circle of Braja by the Performance of the circumambulation in 1514-15 A.C. The performance of the circumambulation of Sree Brajamandal by Lord Chaitanya is described in Sree Chaitanya Charitamrita. It is as follows:--
On His way to Mathura from Puri, at all the places where He stopped, the Lord made all people dance by the bestowal of the Name and Love of Krishna. Just as formerly, while proceeding to the South. He had saved all people; in the same manner He also now converted all persons of the West into Vaishnavas. On His way, wherever He caught a glimpse of the Jumna, He jumped into her water being bereft of all external consciousness by Love. Journeying in this fashion He reached the precincts of Mathura. On catching sight of Mathura, overcome with love, the Lord fell prostrate on the ground. Arriving at Mathura He bathed in the 'Bishrama Tirtha'. The Lord made obeisance on beholding Keshaba at the place of the Nativity (Janmasthana). There He danced and sang in the fit of love, and poured forth thunderous cries. The people were thrown into ecstasies on beholding the Lord distracted by love. A certain Brahmana rolled on the ground clasping the Feet of the Lord and danced with the Lord, in the ecstasy of Love. Both embraced each other as they danced on by the impulse of love. Both said, with their hands uplifted, 'Say Hari, say Krishna'. The people cried, 'Hari, Hari', and raised a great tumult. The servitor of Keshaba garlanded the Lord. Struck with amazement by the sight of the Lord the people said, 'Such love is never of this world. By His sight the people go mad with love and laugh, weep, dance and sing uttering the Name of Krishna. It is, therefore, absolutely certain He is no other than Krishna Himself Who has again appeared to our view. It is Krishna Who is come to Mathura to save the people.'
Taking that Brahmana aside, the Supreme Lord made enquiries in private. 'Old Brahmana, you have a noble and straightforward nature. From whom did you receive this treasure of love?' the Brahmana said, Sripad Madhabendra Puri came to the town of Mathura in course of His wanderings. He came to my home out of his great mercy. He made me his disciple and accepted the alms of food cooked by me. That great soul made manifest and worshipped Gopala. To this day the worship of Gopal instituted by him continues to be performed at Gobardhana.' On hearing this the Lord greeted the feet of that Brahmana. The Brahmana, in a great fright, fell at the Feet of the Lord. The Lord said, "You are the 'Guru' and I am as the disciple. It is not meet for one who is 'Guru' to bow to his disciple". On hearing this the astonished Brahmana said with great fear. 'Why do you speak such words being a sannyasin? But I infer in my mind from the love that I find in You that You bear the relationship to Madhabendra Puri. There is love for Krishna wherever there is relationship with him. Excepting in him nowhere else is to be found the least of this love'. Thereupon the Bhattacharyya, who was in attendance upon the Lord, informed him of the same. The Brahmana began to dance with joy.
Then the Brahmana brought the Lord to his own home. He served the Lord in many ways, in whatever manner he wished. He made the Bhattacharyya cook for the Lord. Thereupon, the Supreme Lord said with a smile, 'My Master Puri has accepted the alms of food cooked by you at your home. May you give me the alms of food cooked by yourself? This is the proper method and the one that have I have been taught'. That Brahmana thereupon offered the Lord food cooked by himself.
All the people of Madhupuri flocked to have a sight of the Lord. The Lord with uplifted Hands shouted the Name of Hari. The people danced, maddened by love, crying 'Hari'. The Lord bathed at the twenty four Ghats (landing-places) of the Jumna. That Brahmana showed the Lord over the tirthas where the Lord bathed. The Lord visited many sites viz., Swayambhu, Vishrama, Dirgha-Vishnu, Maha-Vidya, Gokarna, etc.
The Lord now conceived the desire of beholding the Vana (woods). The Lord took with Him for this purpose the self-same Brahmana. He went to Madhu, Tala, Kumuda and Bahula Vanas. He was entranced with love on bathing at all those places. Herds of kine pastured on the way. On seeing the Lord they encircled Him with loud bleatings. At the sight of the cows the Lord was rendered motionless by the strong current of love. The cows licked all the limbs of the Lord by the impulse of affection as for their calves recovering His normal state the Lord caressed their bodies The cows followed the Lord and would not turn back. The herdsman kept them back with great exertions. Herds of does tripped up on hearing the sound of the voice of the Lord. Bucks and does looking to His face licked the body of the Lord. They felt no fear and followed Him wherever He went. Cockatoo, cuckoo, bee, sang on the fifth note on seeing the Lord. Peacocks danced along on the way in front of the Lord. On seeing the Lord the trees and creepers of Brindavana experienced the horripilation of their twigs and shed tears of honey. The branches, laden with their fruits and flowers, prostrated themselves at the feet of the Lord like friends bringing presents to welcome their loved ones. All the motionless and moving entities of Vrindavana were gladdened by the sight of the Lord, as friends feel on meeting friends. On noticing their love, the Lord submitted to sport with them under the compelling influence of their love. The Lord embraced each and every tree and creeper. He offered the flowers, etc., to Krishna by meditation. His body was convulsed with tears, trembling and horripilation of love. The Lord spoke in a raised voice, repeatedly bidding them to say 'Krishna'. The immovable, joining with the moving, uttered the Sound 'Krishna', as if re-echoing the solemn voice of the Lord. As the Lord wept, falling on the neck of the deer, there was horripilation on the body of the deer and tears in his eyes. Cockatoos, male and female in pair were seen sitting on the branches. On seeing them the Lord's mind was inclined to hear something from them. The pair presently flew down and perched on the hands of the Lord and recited to the listening Lord slokas setting forth the good qualities of Krishna. "May Krishna, the charmer of the world, Whose fame spreads over the universe, save the world. The beauty of Krishna overcomes the patience of all ladies; His pastimes amaze even Rama; His prowess makes a top of the King of Mountains; His good qualities exceed all enumerations; His disposition charms all. Such is, indeed, our Lord." On hearing the description of Krishna from the lips of the cockatoo, the cockatrix recited a verse conveying an account of Radhika. "The loving disposition, naturalness, superior goodness, skill in dance and song, array of all excellent qualities, as also the poetry, of Sree Radhika, the charmer of the Heart of Him Who charms the hearts of the whole world, do reign supreme over everything". The cockatoo now said that Krishna is the ravisher of the god of love, and recited a verse. "May, O cockatrix, the ravisher of the god of love live forever. He holds the Flute in His hands and steals the hearts of all the ladies of the world and sports with the damsels of the cow-herds". The cockatrix spoke to the cockatoo in the language of derision on hearing which the Lord experienced the ecstasy of amazed love. "He is the charmer of the god of love only as long as He abides by the shining side of Radha; otherwise, although He is the ravisher of the world, He Himself is ravished by the god of love". The cockatoo and cockatrix now flew back to the branch of the tree. The Lord watched with interest the dance of the peacock. On beholding the neck of the peacock the Lord was reminded of the colour of Krishna and the Supreme Lord fell prostrate on the ground by the overwhelming impulse of love. That Brahman, on finding the Lord lying on the ground in a fit of unconsciousness, tended the Lord with the help of the Bhattacharyya. Taking hold of the outer piece of cloth of the Supreme Lord with cautious hurry, he splashed His body with water and fanned Him with the cloth .He spoke the Name of Krishna with a raised voice into the ear of Lord. The Lord, on regaining His consciousness, rolled convulsively on the bare ground. His body was pierced with the thorns that abounded on the path and made it so difficult to journey in those woods. The Bhattacharyya took up the Lord into his arms and tended Him to recovery. The mind of the Lord was saturated with love of Krishna. He stood up and danced, crying, 'Say Krishna'. The Bhattacharyya and that Brahmana chanted the Name of Krishna and the Lord proceeded on His way, dancing. That Brahmana was amazed by the sight of the love-distraught condition of the Lord and was filled with anxious thoughts for his safety.
The fact was that the Lord's mind was saturated with love while He was staying at Nilachala (Puri). As He set out for Vrindavana His love waxed a hundred-fold during the journey. On catching sight of Mathura His love underwent a thousand-fold increase. While He roamed in the woods His love was augmented a million-fold. The very name of Vrindavana served to make Him overflow with love while the Lord abode in other lands. His loving condition may be inferred from the fact that He was now wondering in the self-same Vrindavana in reality. His mind simmered night and day with the impulse of love. He bathed, ate and attended to other necessary duties by the inertia of habit. Such was the quality of His love all through as the Lord journeyed through the twelve Vanas (woods). I put it all together as it is impossible to record the occurrences of the different woods. The elaboration of the loving function that was manifested in Vrindavana is recorded by Ananta in crores of volumes but still even a particle of the same fails to be described. I write an outline in order to point the direction. The whole world floated on the bottomless ocean of the pastimes of Chaitanya. Every one swam in it as far as he could.
The Supreme Lord then rediscovered Radha Kunda and Shyama Kunda which had passed out of the view of the people of this world, and pointed out their locations in the village of Arit. The Lord visited Harideva at Gobardhana. The Lord would not visit Gopala by climbing the Gobardhan Mount. Whereupon Gopala came down to Gantholi from the village of Annakuta by the device of breeding panic of impending danger from a contemplated attack by the Muhammadans. The Supreme Lord visited Gopala at Gantholi. The Supreme Lord next visited Nandiswar, Pabanasarovara, Shesashayi, Melatirtha, Bhandirvana, Bhadravana, Lauhavana, Mahavana, etc., and returned to Mathura after visiting Gokula. From His place of residence at Akrura-Ghat the Lord repaired daily to Brindavana visiting the Lake of Kaliya, the Ghat of the twelve Adityas, Keshighat, Rasasthali, Chira-ghat, Amlitala, etc. The Lord dissipated the error of the Bhattacharyya who was misled by the rumour that Krishna had reappeared and made Himself actually visible on the Kaliya Lake. It was found out that a fisherman in his boat while catching fish in the Kaliya Lake during night had been mistaken for Krishna subduing Kaliya. The Lord was rescued by Balabhadra as He plunged into the Jumna at Akrura Ghat and lay immersed in the water for a while. It was this incident which made Balabhadra Bhattacharyya to propose and induced the Supreme Lord to leave Brindavana and return to Puri. A Rajput who bore the name of Krishnadas and who was a resident of a village on the opposite bank of the Jumna, left his home and family and offered to devotee his life to the service of the Lord. His offer was accepted. Krishnadas accompanied the Supreme Lord on His return journey to Puri.