Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reflections on impulsiveness.

Reflecting on the Sampradaya Sun comments. There were a few letters back and forth between myself and Rocana. Finally, I apologized for my unpleasant telegrams.

So Krishna says, "kama esa", it is "lust" that drives us impulsively to act, even against our will, in sinful activities.

At the same time, we hope to be able to act naturally, in harmony with our best nature, the will of God, etc. Spontaneous action in some circles is often called the highest state--the "zone," zen, or whatever. In other words, it seems that there is a place where we are free from the need to use our intelligence, or at least to agonize over difficult decisions. Where we can believe that our actions are at one with the purpose of the universe. Is that liberation?

Buddhi has an internal and an external aspect. Externally it is called reason, internally, it is called intuition.

Impulsive action is often followed by reflection--sometimes lengthy. Because we frequently act impulsively and without knowing our true motivations. As if we ever really know the purpose behind our actions--that is why we postulate that there is a higher will that is the ultimate cause.

But certainly intuitions or impulses in the modes of ignorance, passion or even goodness, have generally undesired consequences. This leads to reflection.

Other problems come later, when we either analyze or refuse to analyze our actions. Sometimes the impulses can come from the lower modes and we mistake them for the higher. The rationalists say that too often religion is the lower modes masquerading as the will of God. Why? Because someone has taken half the hen of buddhi and disregarded the other half.

Sometimes it is the will of God that we act on impulses born of the lower modes, but then by reflecting on it, by analyzing the consequences of those acts, we can learn more clearly what our true motivations were, and this leads to self-purification.

Of course, as Siva so persistently preaches--there is nothing but the will of God. And it would be good to bear this in mind and reflect on it. What we reflect on, then, is not so much our strategies, but the purity of our motives. Everything is seen in the optic of our devotion and the depth of our love for Krishna. Joy and suffering are all waves in the ocean of bhakti; our wisdom and foolishness simply subplots in the great adventure of diving deeper into that ocean.

Look before you leap. Think before you act. These are common expressions, and yet to be able to act without thinking, to make decisions instinctively, these are qualities we would like to possess. Too much thoughtfulness is suicidal in a leader. And so, leaders are often the ones who are least reflective.

Often the case is, I believe, that a leader's reflective period is behind him when he takes the position of leadership. For him or her, the danger is that the complementary aspects of buddhi will go out of balance. He may at first be admired for the depth of erudition or wisdom, by which he attracts followers. This results in a primary period of leadership, when the charisma of utter conviction descends upon him.

At some point, though, hubris sets in. He starts believing in the infallibility of his instincts and his impulses. He no longer has the time to reflect on his decisions because of the increased responsibilities, especially those towards the people who have faith in him. He starts having to preserve and protect his image. Doubt is now a defect, an enemy of progress. Imbalance sets in, sometimes with disastrous consequences. But ultimately, corrections are required and the required reflection must be performed. (See this article: Lifehacking for candidates)

In this particular case, I responded to Hrishikesh's article rapidly, not to it as a whole, but only to the Hoffer name, because I had read Hoffer before. I thought to myself, "This is a good article because it quotes Hoffer, and I approve of Hoffer." Even though it has been years since the last time I read The True Believer, or Eric Fromm and others who wrote in reflection on the Nazi period, and whose thoughts were furthered by analysts of cult phenomena in the 60's and 70's. I remembered Kundali's Our Mission series, which despite its defects, should be required reading for anyone participating in the Krishna Consciousness Movement.

But to be honest, I had not read Hrishikesh's article throughly, and therefore any comment I made was not done reflectively at all. So looking on this particular case in self-analysis, I would say that my impulsive letter to Rocana was an act of ahankar, based on my own pride in having read Hoffer before it was the custom to do so. In other words, I was approving myself rather than any other person. Rocana sensed this and he responded. So I stand admonished.

This belongs to a wider reflection on impulse where it concerns archetypal behavior or archetypal possession. It is, of course, just a different way of framing the same question of impulse and intuition. Nevertheless, it is useful, because it is about analysing our Gods, purifying our Gods, as it were.

When Krishna says that faith is in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance, he is saying more than "Krishna worship is transcendental. Therefore you are the good guys and everyone else is bad." Kapila talks about the modes of nature and bhakti. The fact is that our very concept of God is contaminated by the modes of nature and that reflects in our every action, even when it is draped in the nimbus of spirituality.

On the other hand, God fulfills countless objectives with each action: who knows how many insects or subtle creatures are affected? If the will of God is that we should act impulsively, He knows the results, good or bad, that will accrue. And even if we engage in the purest act of selfless love, the consequences in the world may be mixed and lead to apparent suffering, even for the person performing the act.

The other side of selfless action is detachment from the results. In Yoga-sutra 2.1, ishwara-pranidhana is defined by Vyasa as "offering all actions to God and detachment from their results." This is a basic element in bhakti that we often forget about, even though Prabhupada in the second and third chapters of his Gita draws an (admittedly somewhat confusing) equals sign between karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga; if bhakti-yoga is understood as Vyasa understands ishwara-pranidhana here, then that element of intersection becomes clearer.

Whatever the case, even if "offering all actions to God," may be nothing more than aropa-siddha bhakti, and giving up the results also bahya, age koho ara, they are integral to the performance of bhakti and its purification.

Every act of devotion must be ahaituki and apratihata. Ahaituki means that it is done for the pleasure of Krishna, and apratihata means that any apparently untoward consequence of bhakti must not impede the impulse to devotion.

Anyway, I am of the opinion, and I have said this before, that I do not really believe in mukti at all. All this talk of shunya, is good as far as it takes us to desirelessness and to renunciation, to attentiveness and care, but insofar as it is a means to bypassing intelligence, of renouncing effort, etc., I think it misses the point.

There is a joy in struggling, too. Remorse is also a vibhava in bhakti-rasa. And that is why viraha plays such a big role in the entire scheme of bhakti, because there is always a struggle to go further, to discover the next manjil of joy in infinity.

The gopis were dancing with Krishna when they felt pride. But later we find out that their pride was not really the issue, the game of hide-and-seek was.

One last thing, I have to say, is that I am at a state of pretty much not-caring. When I left Iskcon, it was because I decided that building Krishna Disneyland was not the same as seeking prema bhakti. Wrong or right, that was the decision I made then, and I am going to stick with it.

I prefer wisdom to scholarship, but I have neither. I prefer prema to yoga, but I have neither. na dhanam na janam. I don't care. This lifetime or the next, I don't care. I am just a chatak, Prabhu. Let me do what little I can. Engage me as you like. That's all.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yoginis and viyoginis

I am still writing my posts on Na Hanyate, which are backdated to when I first started working on it at June 19. At any rate, quite coincidentally, I came across the following terse statement in Bhojaraja's commentary to YS, given in the context of defining yoga in 1.1: pum-prakrityor viyogo’pi yogaH. The intention here is, "Separation between the conscious self and its attachment to matter is also yoga." (Swami Veda's translation, See YS I, p.75).

But the wording as given could be rendered: "The separation of purusha (man) from prakriti (woman) is also yoga." On one level, of course, this is the very basis of the yoga idea, in which the goal is kaivalya: "A human being is a compound of the power of pure consciousness and the corruptible, alterable, mutable material, including mental, components. When a person rediscovers the separation of the spiritual component from the material one, that is called isolation of the self from matter (kaivalya)" (ibid. 79).

Well, you know what Prabodhananda says about kaivalya. And what is the attraction of asamprajnata samadhi, anyway?

But Rupa Goswami relishes the play on words, as well as the similarity of external symptoms (anubhavas) shown by the viyogini and the yogi:

āhāre viratiḥ samasta-vishaya-grāme nivrittiḥ parā
nāsāgre nayanaṁ yad etad aparaṁ yasyaika-tānaṁ manaḥ
maunaṁ cedam idaṁ ca shunyam akhilam yad vishvam ābhāti te
tad brūyāḥ sakhi yoginī kim asi bhoḥ kiṁ vā viyoginy api
One, you leave your food untouched,
next, you’re averse to every object of the senses,
and then, your eyes are fixed on your nose;
your mind is concentrated, single-pointed;
and then there is this silence, and the fact
that the entire world to you seems void.
So, my friend, what are you—
yogini or viyogini?—tell me which. (Padyavali 238)
Or this one, said by Rupa to be spoken by Uddhava when he brought them Krishna's message:

viyoginīnām api paddhatiṁ vo
na yogino gantum api kṣamante |
yad dhyeya-rūpasya parasya puṁso
yūyaṁ gatā dhyeya-padaṁ durāpam ||
This path you have shown as viyoginis
is beyond the grasp of the yogis.
For the Supreme Person, on whom they meditate,
has made you the object of his meditation. (Padyavali 347)
And this,

sāndrānandam anantam avyayam ajaṁ yad yogino’pi kṣaṇaṁ
sākṣāt kartum upāsate pratidinaṁ dhyānaikatānāḥ param |
dhanyās tā vraja-vāsināṁ yuvatayas tad brahma yāḥ kautukād
ālinganti samālapanti śatadhākarṣanti cumbanti ca ||
That Supreme Brahman—
concentrated bliss, infinite, inexhaustible and unborn--
for whose momentary direct encounter
the yogis worship daily, meditating
with intense single-mindedness,

these fortunate girls who live in Vraja,
joyfully embrace, talk with,
pull towards themselves in a hundred different ways,
and kiss that same Brahman.

(Sahitya-darpana 6.314a, Pad. 317, attributed to Vahinipati)
And of course, the following, which I just quoted a little while back, from Vidagdha-madhava:

pratyāhṛtya muniḥ kṣaṇaṁ viṣayato yasmin mano dhitsate
bālāsau viṣayeṣu dhitsati tataḥ pratyāharantī manaḥ
yasya sphūrti-lavāya hanta hṛdaye yogī sumutkaṇṭhate
mugdheyaṁ kila tasya paśya hṛdayān niṣkrāntim ākānkṣati
Munis are trying so hard to pull their minds away from sense objects and place them on Krishna's lotus feet. They would feel so satisfied if they could do so for even a moment, and yet this girl is trying to drag her mind away from thinking of him, trying rather to think of sense objects. And yogis are engaged in tapasya hoping for a momentary vision of the Lord in the heart, and this foolish girls is trying to empty her heart of him. (Vidagdha-madhava, 2.37)
I am giving them here, because I shan't be able to use them all in the context, but I thought they are fun as a theme.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A letter to the Sampradaya Sun

Rocana Das is an old friend of mine from Toronto and other places in Canada, where we were in Iskcon together. Our paths diverged many years ago, but we came into contact a few years ago, in the early days of the Internet, when he first started his website and a listserve group called Garuda. We engaged in some fairly civil debates there, but Rocana and I were generally on the opposite sides of issues.

On the whole, Rocana cannot see past the fact that I don't seem to be a true "Prabhupadanuga" and indeed, though he made a pretense of politeness, he always managed to let it be known that he considered me to be a guru-tyagi and all that accompanies such a dreadful epithet.

Anyway, I still visit his Sampradaya Sun website every few days, though to be honest, I am completely bored with Iskcon politics; I have little or no vested interest in that organization and find most of the issues, philosophical or political, to be irrelevant to me personally. Nevertheless, I used to occasionally comment on articles to him in emails since as an old friend I thought he might be interested in my opinions. As he never answered, these letters, which were usually short anyway, became shorter.

Recently, there was an article by Henry Doktorski (Hrishikesh Das), which had the merit of being fairly well-written and had a little more substance than the usual griping and mudslinging. So I wrote a letter to the Sun saying "finally a good article." Rocana for some reason was aroused from his usual silence; the sum and substance of his answer was: "Stop writing these snotty letters. If you don't like the Sun, don't read it. Or start your own newspaper."

Ah Rocana... Here is my answer:

Dear Rocanaji,

Dandavats. I am writing once again because I feel that your last letter shows that you have a complete misunderstanding of where I am coming from. It seems that your frustration goes far deeper than my letter, and I assume that you are feeling some difficulties in accomplishing what you set out to do with the Sun. Such activities can become burdensome, especially if they are not profitable, in whatever sense of the term you want to take it.

But what I really want to say (and I really should keep a letter like this on file, it seems I have written it so many times) is that you are falling into the same kind of trap that VNN did: You publish any damn bit of muckraking that crosses your desk, without any processing whatsoever. You have to take a newspaperman's attitude and vet your info. That means you have to find a way to get real reporters out there.

Someone says Mudha Das, the president of Ougadougou Iskcon, has been caught attending baby-sacrifice rituals to the pagan goddess Omeiwanki and drinking the blood of the sacrificed child. Do you just publish this without trying to reach Mudha Das for comment? Do you not try to find knowledgeable and unbiased people who will speak for or against these rumors?

Every time you just print the raw information by someone with an ax to grind, that lowers the value of the Sun and diminishes everything you are trying to do. The worst thing that can be seen in a newspaper is no attempt to be fair. But if you have no intention to be fair, at least try to have writing of quality.

That is why I condemn you for printing everything that Mahavidya writes, unedited. First of all, who knows what his background and agenda are? Maybe all these guys with a negative attitude to Iskcon are really angels wrapped in divine light who are being persecuted by the forces of evil--but do you really believe it?

Besides, as a manager, you should know that it is far easier to tear down than to build up. If you think I sound snotty, you should think about the way your website sounds sometimes.

So, most important, edit these articles and turn them into stories. If you are going to make a newspaper, act like a newspaperman. Mahavidya's rants sound and look like the typical conspiracy theorists' comments on some "The aliens are coming to take us away" forum. I am not saying he is not perfectly right, but edit his comments and make them prose instead of this weird free verse thing he's got going.

Second, divide your articles more clearly so that you have substantial editorials that are clearly defined and marked as such. Separate op-ed (outside opinion) from editorials (the official opinions of the paper). But try to avoid doing exactly what VNN did, which with the exception of your cultural articles and reprints of Vaishnava literature, you are.

Third, why not start a comments trailer for each article? Dandavats and most other quality newspapers like the Guardian, etc., are doing that. That way, you give people like Mahavidya the chance to say something (in the forum) without it appearing that you approve of it or are abetting his agenda. It will also give you the opportunity to trawl for reporters. You can find people who can write, who have access to information, who are investigative... even those who have an ax to grind and use their talents. In some cases, you could even summarize the information that comes out of such forums and use it for an original article.

And another thing: Don't you think that you should correct articles for spelling and grammar? Once you publish a piece, it becomes your article and reflective of your site. So if it is written in broken English by Harishatru Das of Zagreb, don't you think you should take the time to unbreak it before you post? That is the minimum definition of an editor, is it not?

But my most important point is still that you need to investigate. This requires a little extra effort. It means spending money too, which is a more delicate and difficult matter. But a couple of phone calls to Ougadougou might be more revealing than a scurrilous email from a disgruntled brahmachari who had to leave because he was creating a bad vibe in the temple.

Do more with less. Go for quality rather than quantity. Try to at least appear objective, instead of a clearing house for anti-Iskcon propaganda. Find a few people who will try to act as REPORTERS and not rumormongers. Keep your editorials and your news articles separate. Widen the scope of the paper.

So, I realize that it is almost impossible to do all the above without having to consecrate more time and resources. The most important thing, and I say this to you because you are an experienced manager who knows how to mobilize and inspire, is to find people who will try to be objective and intelligent, neither pro- or con- Iskcon propagandists, but ones who recognize like you that a free press is an essential part of any organization or movement. But there is still a big difference between a true free press and what you are doing.

Yours in service,

Jagadananda Das.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Prataparudra and Chaitanya (3)

Prataparudra’s disappearance

According to the Sarasvati-vilasa, Prataparudra had four queens: Padma, Padmalaya, Ila and Mahila. Some other wives are named in other sources. Dibakar Das says in the Jagannatha-caritamrita that the King’s chief queen, who became Jagannath Das’ disciple, was named Gauri Devi. Ishwar Das mentions a queen named Bhanumati, while Sudarshan Das says that he had a queen named Vidyutkanti. Jayananda also mentions a queen named Chandrakala in his Caitanya-mangala.

According to the Madala-panji, Prataparudra left thirty-two sons at his death. Sarasvati-vilasa names one of these, Purushottam. The Caitanya-caritamrita (3.9.99) and Bhakti-ratnakara (6.65) also speak of Purushottam Jana. (Jänä was the title given to the Orissan crown prince.) Other sources name three other sons: Kalua Deva, Kakharua Deva and Birbhadra Deva. The first two of these had short rules after the death of Prataparudra, lasting only a few months each, while Birbhadra is known to have been the governor of a southern province of the empire. Prataparudra’s daughter Jaganmohini, who was given in marriage to Krishna Deva Raya, has already been mentioned.

According to the Madala-panji, Prataparudra disappeared three years before Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. But other sources like Caitanya-candrodaya-nataka make it clear that Prataparudra suffered from Mahaprabhu’s separation after his disappearance. Historians give Prataparudra’s death as 1540.

It is said that Prataparudra turned over the kingdom to his son even while Mahaprabhu was present in this world, but after the Lord’s disappearance was so grief-stricken that he left Puri. According to Bhakti-ratnakara (3.213-221),

When the King heard that the Lord had departed, he fell to the ground and began lamenting. Hitting his head again and again, he fell unconscious and only the association of Ramananda Raya kept him alive. The King was unable to bear the absence of the Lord and so he left Puri, remaining elsewhere for the rest of his days. (Bhakti-ratnakara 3.217-19)

In Mayurbhanj district there is a town named Pratapur or Pratapapur, about eleven miles south of the district capital, Baripada. The town was once called Ramachandrapur after the king Ramachandra Bhanj Deo, but its name was changed when Prataparudra came to live there.

There is a temple in this town with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Jagannath and Dadhivaman deities. The priests of this temple say that when Mahaprabhu left Puri for Vrindavan, Prataparudra had a wooden murti of the Lord made. When Mahaprabhu disappeared, the King decided to retire to Vrindavan. He left with this Chaitanya deity, but when he arrived at Ramachandrapur, he fell ill and could not proceed. Knowing that his death was nigh, he made land endowments and engaged 54 Brahmin priests for the deities’ continued service. From this time onward, the town was known as Pratapapur.

The king of Mayurbhanj built a temple in Pratapapur, but Kala Pahar destroyed it during his raids on Orissa not long thereafter (1568). During those troubled times, the deities were hidden in the fort of Haripur or Hariharpur. When Hariharpur was destroyed during Maratha raids in the 18th century, the images were brought back to Pratapapur and Maharaja Jadunath Bhanja Deo subsequently had a temple erected there for the worship of Dadhivamana and the other images. This temple collapsed in the course of time and the images are now being worshipped in a small hut.[15] A building reputed to be Maharaja Prataparudra’s samadhi stood near the Pratapapur Dak Bungalow, but it slipped into the river during a flood.

Even so, many pilgrims still come to Pratapapur to worship the deity of Mahaprabhu on the his appearance day in the month of Phalgun.

Writings attributed to Prataparudra

Many books have been attributed to Prataparudra, such as Sarasvaté-viläsa, Pratäpa-märtaëòa, Kautuka-cintämaëi, and Nirëaya-saìgraha. In fact, the first two of these books were written by two of his court scholars, Lolla Lakshmidhara and Ramakrishna, respectively.

In the description of Bengali manuscripts in the Banga Sahitya Parishad library in Calcutta, a notice is given of a song with Prataparudra’s signature. There is some doubt as to whether the song is indeed his or not. A portion of that song goes as follows:

I will become an ornament on your body,
the ankle bells upon your feet.
I will become the chakora who gazes
at the moons of your fingernails,
the bee who buzzes around your lotus feet.
I will become the mirror you look into,
and the whisk that fans you.

And I have yet another desire:
Let me become a layer of fine dust on your feet.
If I cannot become the dust of your feet,
then be merciful and do with me as you please,
this is Prataparudra’s prayer.

Did Chaitanya cause Orissa’s political decline?

The Madala-panji says that he was succeeded by his son Kalua Deva, who rule for only one year, five months and three days. The young king was then assassinated by Govinda Vidyadhara, whose name has already been mentioned above in connection with treachery during the war with Hussein Shah, and replaced by his brother Kakhadua Deva. This brother’s reign did not last a year before he too was assassinated by Govinda Vidyadhara, along with any other possible heirs.

After assassinating King Prataparudra’s two successors, Govinda Vidyadhara sat on the throne himself in 1542 and founded the Bhoi Dynasty, also assassinating any other possible successors soon after his accession.[16] His reign lasted only eight years and his dynasty was also short-lived. Mukunda Deva Harichandan (1560-1568) overthrew the Bhois, but went down in history as the last independent king of Orissa. He made many efforts to fight off the attacks of the Muslims from the north, but was ultimately unsuccessful. In 1568, the Karabani Sultans of Bengal incorporated Orissa into their kingdom.

Thus in a mere 28 years after the death of Prataparudra, Orissa’s days of glory came to an end, most traumatically symbolized by the burning of the proud symbol of Orissan independence, Lord Jagannath’s image, by Kala Pahar.

No doubt influenced by Gibbon’s theories about the role Christianity played in the downfall of the Roman empire,[17] some historians have attributed the decline of Orissa’s imperial glory to Prataparudra’s adherence to the ecstatic and otherworldly religion of Sri Chaitanya. The first to present this argument was R. N. Banerjee, who wrote as follows:

Chaitanya was one of the principal causes of the political decline of the empire and the people of Orissa. Not only that—the acceptance of Vaishnavism, or rather neo-Vaishnavism, was the real cause of the Mussulman conquest of Orissa twenty-eight years after the demise of Prataparudra. […] Neo-Vaishnavism became fashionable and powerful officers of Prataparudra like Ramananda Raya, the governor of Rajahmundry before its final loss and Gopinath Barajena, that of the Majyatha Dandapat or Midnapore, were the most notable converts after the king himself. […] The decline of the power and prestige of Orissa is solely due to the national adoption of the sublime Bhakti-marga of Chaitanya.[18]

The crux of Banerjee’s argument is that Mahaprabhu’s religion gave people a too-optimistic view of human nature and made them reluctant to engage in the kind of military activity that was needed to maintain social discipline and a strong defence against invading armies.

The religious equality and love preached by Chaitanya brought in its train a false faith in men and thereby destroyed the structure of society and government in Bengal and Orissa, because in reality, no two men are born equal and government depends upon brute force, specially in a country like India in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A wave of religious fervor passed over the country and during this reformation, Orissa not only lost her empire, but also her political prestige.”[19]

More recently, the historian K. C. Panigrahi makes a similar argument. Though he absolves Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself, he argues that the culture of religion based on Radha and Krishna’s loving affairs as expressed in the Gita-govinda sapped the Orissan nation’s moral strength. He overtly calls Jayadeva’s masterpiece a Sahajiya text and places the blame for the disintegration of the Orissan empire on it.

The diversification of religious interest, the falsification of the Jagannath cult, and the general degradation of the moral conduct of the people were, more than other causes, responsible for the fall of Orissa. The fall was so great that her people have not recovered from it till now.[20]

Like Banerjee, Panigrahi feels that the type of religion that became popular throughout Orissan society during the reign of King Prataparudra undermined the disciplined Kshatriya culture that was at the root of Orissan greatness.

The entire population participated in the military system built up by the successive Orissan kings. During the reign of Kapilendra Deva, this militarization reached its peak, and was based on a stern discipline, an unquestioning obedience to the king and above all, on the single-minded devotion to Lord Jagannath, who was conceived to be the only source of all powers and inspiration. The slackness in discipline and the diversification of religious interest which slackened the single-minded devotion to Lord Jagannath started in the reign of Parataparudra Deva and these factors undermined the military character of the Oriyas who sank into obscurity after the loss of their independence in AD 1568.[21]

Sundarananda writes forcefully in response to these arguments, and what follows is a paraphrase of his response:

Nowadays, we measure our personal, community or national progress or decline purely in materialistic terms. This all-pervading materialism has introduced so many disease-carrying microbes into the body of human society, including the so-called educated circles. State nationalism is a symptom of this disease. If human society still cannot understand this after the experiences of the last century, then it is surely doomed to destruction. Do the last two world wars not give us sufficient warning about where this kind of so-called progress leads society and the nation?

Materialism is not fundamental to India, nor indeed is it inherent in any conscious entity. It is a foreign import that is an attack on our natural character that is leading to our destruction. India’s backbone is its spirituality; once that has been broken, everything else will go to ruin or be destroyed. Under the influence of foreign ideas, we take what is truly beneficial to be harmful. Thus we mistakenly think the culture of spiritual life—the development of our affinity for service to God – to be the cause of both our individual and collective downfall. In other words, we mistake our search for the means to survival to be a cause of death. In fact, the real cause of our personal, communal or social downfall comes from the absence of interest in cultivating awareness of the Supreme Truth, and that alone.

Those who say that Lord Chaitanya damaged anyone’s attempts at personal fulfillment, or that he caused a particular nation’s ruin are themselves in the mouth of the beast of their own ruin. Illuminated by the blessings of Lord Chaitanya, the Bengali king Hussein Shah’s ministers Dabir Khas and Sakar Mallik gave up their high political posts, Ramananda Raya resigned his position as governor, and Raghunath Das abandoned wealth like that of Indra and a wife as beautiful as a goddess. If Maharaj Prataparudra became indifferent to military conquest, then it is more likely that his action resulted in genuine benefits to his subjects rather than the opposite. Today’s researchers and those of the future would do well to look into the ways that his rule led to social advances.

In their lust for power, worldly leaders are ready to pay illegal bribes, sacrifice the lives of others, or even go to prison to gain a name for themselves. They make numerous sacrifices at the altar of personal and collective power. Srila Sanatan Goswami’s ultimate goal was the liberation of all living beings from the beginningless source of their bondage. This was the example he set when he accepted imprisonment and paid a bribe of 7,000 pieces of gold in order to get out of his entanglement in Hussein Shah’s government. His indifference to worldly power was a source of amazement even to the Shah.

The worldly possessions, worldly independence, material sense gratification, and variegated consumer choice of western countries are now seen by the people of India as the ideal to follow. But are we incapable of clearly seeing the nefarious consequences of their nationalism and so-called independence? Our modern civilization and prosperity seem to lead either to constant state of alert as we ready to fight another world war or making non-proliferation treaties or hoping in some other way to make an imaginary peace. It is impossible to calculate the value of one human being’s life, and yet modern civilization seems intent on finding ways of destroying hundreds and thousands of such priceless lives in a single explosion. This kind of civilization, this kind of politics, this kind of science, and this kind of economics and society both directly and indirectly teach us that our modern civilization is turning us all into a kind of sophisticated savage. Does such civilization not result in complete ruin?

Mahaprabhu taught a doctrine of genuine non-violence. After coming into contact with Mahaprabhu, Prataparudra refused to continue ruling his country in a destructive, violent manner. He surrendered his kingdom to Lord Chaitanya as a way of serving him, and by so doing, contributed to the genuine advancement of his people, his society and nation. The fact is that even today, the path shown by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his followers is the way to true auspiciousness, not only for Orissa, but for the entire world. All of Orissa’s civilization, education, culture, literature, arts, and sciences took a considerable leap forward as a result of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s influence. By casting aside the supreme truth or spiritual goal of life, no society or people can expect to attain true values.

The religious art and architecture of Orissa, such as the Lingaraj and Ananta Vasudeva temples in Bhubaneswar, the Jagannath temple in Puri and the Surya temple in Konark have impressed scholars from around the world. Raya Ramananda, Govinda Deva and other poets enriched Orissa’s cultural heritage with works inspired by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Impartial historians admit that even Jagannath Das, the Atibori whose poetic skill so inspired the people of Orissa, was in one way or another inspired by his contacts with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his associates. Madhavi Devi, [22] Ganga Mata and other women devotees showed the path of auspiciousness to all the people of the world. The intelligent observer can also see how the moral life of Orissa was purified by the influence of Chaitanya and his devotees. There is no room for narrow provincialism or nationalism in the liberated domain of spiritual truth.

The fact of the matter is that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s blessings, the teachings that elucidate the highest realms of spiritual realization, have spread throughout the world from Orissa. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed this hidden storehouse of the ultimate, supreme wealth, one that is still unknown to the world’s most civilized and advanced peoples.

Consider the following: If Maharaj Prataparudra had not taken shelter of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, or if Mahaprabhu had not come to Orissa or had not even appeared in the world, would its history have been any different, either before or after? Take the example of Krishna Deva Ray, the king of Vijaynagar who defeated Prataparudra in the south. Does his “golden empire” still stand? his kingdom was swallowed up during the reign of his successors Achyuta Raya and Rama Raja. During the battle of Talikot (1565 AD), the Muslims defeated the Hindus, killed Rama Raja, and destroyed the city of Vijaynagar. The Muslims leveled its proud marble buildings and palaces and the hopes for a Hindu empire and Hindu prominence foundered—sic transit gloria mundi.

yadu-pateH kva gatA mathurA purI
raghu-pateH kva gatottara-kozalA
iti vicintya kuruSva manaH sthiraM
na sad idaM jagad ity avadhAraya

Just ask yourself, “Where has the Mathura of the Lord of the Yadus gone? And where is the Uttara Koshala of Ramachandra?” Your mind will become steady when you are reminded that the world is impermanent.

Great emperors like Prithu and Ambarish took shelter of the spiritual teachings of the Sanatan Dharma. Under the shelter of these teachings, the artistic masterpieces that adorn the temples of South India were produced. Under these teachings, great literary masterpieces like the Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagavatam came into being. And later, with the appearance of Mahaprabhu, inspired by these same spiritual teachings, the entire corpus of Gaudiya Vaishnava literature was written, bringing into being an immense goldmine of material from which both the rasa-çästra and popular songs could draw. If anyone says that this spiritual tradition could be the source of a society’s ruination, then he himself is no doubt a spiritual ruin himself. Nevertheless, we will admit that if one takes things meant for the enjoyment of the supreme to use as fuel for his own sense pleasure, it certainly can lead to his destruction.

Modern-day civilization, education, culture and so-called advancement or uplift, from the individual to the collectivity, dress the nation up as the supreme enjoyer, like a stool-eating crow dressed in the plumes of a peacock, and transforms it into an army for ever-new expeditions that lead to disaster. They provide it with fuel for its lusts, feeds it the bait of greed, and ultimately sacrifices its people into the fire of sense gratification. Is this kind of human sacrifice the religion of progress and civilization?

We have become incapable of assessing the truth because our heads have been filled with the notion that any religious path is as good as another. This, however, is a flawed concept of religion. People who follow the true concept of religious life are not spiteful toward humanity, but they do not approve of humanity’s disinterest in true spiritual life. If science produces dynamite that can be used to explode mountains that interfere with performing service to the Lord or preaching his message, then a genuine servant of the Lord has no difficulty in accepting it. If science produces an airplane that provides an opportunity to preach rather than serving as a way of killing thousands of people by dropping atom bombs, it helps them to achieve immortality; it helps the eternally unhappy jivas to become happy. Only the Bhagavata Dharma is capable of turning this untrammeled materialistic advancement and turning it toward the Lord, and as a consequence, to create auspiciousness for ever living being.

Some wise Orissans have observed that if King Prataparudra and his minister Ramananda Raya had not taken shelter of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and brought spiritual strength to the people of Orissa, they would not have been able to spiritually resist the powerful Muslim kings in the age of conflict that followed their disappearance. The outcome would have been the conversion of the entire people to Islam and the ultimate inclusion of Orissa in Pakistan at the time of India’s division in 1947. Broad-minded historians believe that by preaching Lord Chaitanya’s message, Prataparudra and Ramananda Raya both directly and indirectly created great benefits for the Orissan people. In other words, they protected the Orissan people from the reckless fanaticism and wholesale oppression of the enemies of the cows and the Vedas. Thus, the misdeeds of Kala Pahar and other fanatics of his ilk were able to conquer the land and destroy many temples, but were never able to implant their violent religion in the populace, despite all their concerted efforts.

One historian has argued point by point against R. D. Banerjee’s proposition in the following way:

The real cause of the fall of the empire was not the acceptance of neo-Vaishnavism, but the weakness of [Prataparudra’s] successors. It is a law of nature that no family can produce an uninterrupted line of geniuses. The tottering empire, surrounded by powerful foes, was like the “bow of Ulysses” which only a strong man could handle.

Prataparudra died in 1540 AD and within twenty-eight years no less than seven kings belonging to three different dynasties occupied the throne. Taking advantage of the weakness of the centripetal force, the Samanta chiefs, specially the Bhanjas, grew turbulent. Thus, in a country where the administration is autocratic, the succession of ill-conditioned kinglings spelled disaster.

Assassination, rebellion and the struggle for power brought about internal anarchy. Govinda Vidyadhara Bhoi murdered the sons of his master. His grandson Narasingha Jena had to atone for his sin: Mukunda Harichandan, the commander-in-chief, murdered him to pave his own way to the throne.[23]

Along with these traitors, there were others who were ready to sell out their mother country. Govinda Vidyadhara’s nephew Raghu Bhanja Chotaraya twice invaded Orissa with the help of Muhammad Khan Sur. Ramachandra Bhanja, the commander of Sarangarh, betrayed the case of Mukunda Deva at the darkest hour of the country’s history.

It is difficult to link this sickening tale of moral turpitude with the Chaitanya movement, which taught mankind to be faithful and honest. Similarly, centuries ago, senility crept into the spirit of the inhabitants of Nabadwip, long before Chaitanya was born there. The story of Bengal’s submission to Ikhtiyar-ud-din Khalji is a disgraceful one; and devotion to a religious movement serves as no more of an extenuating cause in that case.

Thus, Vaishnavism or no Vaishnavism, the succession of weaklings, the moral degeneration of high officials of the state and the decline in the military strength of the nation, would have brought about downfall, sooner or later. At this fateful hour of stupor appeared Kala Pahar, the Black Ogre, as the messenger of Nemesis. The treachery of the titled blackguards made any effective resistance impossible and Kala Pahar encountered no stiff opposition in his task of the conquest of Orissa.[24]

Those who are completely materialistic swallow everything that is fed them by empirical historians and researchers. Even the Orissan government has disseminated historical misinformation of this type in the past. Their basic message is that “whenever and wherever religion has had an influence on political life, it has spelt ruin for the country in question.”[25] When the above statement was made in an Orissan government publication, it caused a furor amongst straight-thinking people. Those who have experience in these matters can testify that wherever and whenever atheism and a purely this-worldly view of life has had an influence on a country’s political life, it has brought about its total ruin. This is a fact and will continue to be demonstrated in the future. This is the clear lesson of history. Cowardly fanaticism and the religion of devotion, the function of the Lord’s internal potency, stand in complete opposition to one another.

[15] Pradeep Kumar Gan, “Jagannath Temples in Mayurbhanj District,” Orissa Review, July 2005, p.71.
[16] Cf. Gopinath Mohapatra, Jagannath in the history and Religious Traditions of Orissa. Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1982, pp. 84-86.
[17] Sometimes called the first modern historian for his famous work on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1789), Edward Gibbon was an influential apologist for what was then the nascent British empire, and therefore something of an imperial theorist. Imperial power was seen as a masculine trait, and those qualities that weakened this admirable masculinity as effeminate. The countries that were conquered by the Romans, and by extension, the British, were deservedly conquered because of their feebleness and effeminacy. This idea, which no doubt finds some form or another in all relationships between conquerers and the conquered, came into the Indian consciousness as well, and the characteristics attributed to effeminacy—sloth, luxuriousness, weakness, vice, etc., attributed to the Hindu personality. Gibbon held Christianity in contempt, in keeping with the general enlightenment critique. He equated it with superstition and suitable only to the ignorant masses. He was especially critical of monasticism, because of its otherworldiness, which so often led to hypocrisy, obsession with sexuality, and the accumulation of wealth. But even Christianity’s virtues—humility, pacifism, etc.—were seen as passive and effeminate. These critiques only became stronger in the 19th century, perhaps reaching their apogee in Marx and Nietzsche.
[18] R. D. Banerjee. History of Orissa. Vol. I. Calcutta: University of Calcutta Press, 1930. 330-1, 336.
[19] Ibid.
[20] history of Orissa (Hindu Period). Cuttack: Kitab Mahal, 1981. Page 262
[21] Ibid.
[22] Sikhi Mahiti’s sister Madhavi Devi wrote books in Sanskrit and many devotional songs in her native Orissan language. Ganga Mata was a member of the Puntiya royal family, but established a math on the banks of the Sveta Ganga where she preached the Srimad Bhagavatam.
[23] “The Harichandan brothers entered into the palace of the king in palanquins in the guise of women and killed the king with a dagger. Thus his rule ended after only one year (1558).” K. C. Panigrahi. op. cit., page 240.
[24] Prabhat Mukherjee. The history of medieval Vaishnavism in Orissa. Calcutta, 1940. 177-8.
[25] Nava Kalevara Smaraëé o Uåiñyä-pariciti. Orissa Government Public Relations Department, 1950. 27.

Prataparudra and Chaitanya (2)

King Prataparudra receives Mahaprabhu’s blessings

The blessings that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showered on King Prataparudra have been documented in most of the Lord’s biographies: Murari Gupta’s Kadaca, Vrindavan Das’ Caitanya-bhagavata, Kavi Karnapur’s Caitanya-caritamrita-maha-kavya and Caitanya-candrodaya-nataka, Lochan Das’ Caitanya-mangala and Krishna Das’ Caitanya-caritamrita. These different accounts are at some variance with each other, but are not essentially contradictory.

Murari Gupta’s version

The earliest biography of Lord Chaitanya is named Sri-sri-krishna-caitanya-caritamrita, consisting of Murari Gupta’s original notes describing the Lord’s pastimes. In the sixteenth chapter of the fourth canto of this book, Prataparudra’s relations with Mahaprabhu are described as follows:

King Prataparudra wished to have an audience with Mahaprabhu and so called Ramananda and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, and after greeting them with respect and humility, said, “Tell me how I can meet Gaurachandra and his older brother Nityananda.”

Sarvabhauma answered, “Your highness, a personal meeting with Gauranga will be difficult to arrange. You will no doubt be able to see him, but I doubt that it will be possible for you to talk with him. I suggest that you come while the two lords are deeply immersed in kirtan.”

The king was satisfied with this suggestion and agreed to do as Sarvabhauma told him. When the king heard that Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu were ecstatically engaged in kirtan at that very moment, he immediately went to see them. When he saw the two lords showing ecstatic symptoms, tears flowing, the king himself was overcome by the sattvika-bhavas.

That night, after returning to his palace, the king went to sleep and had a dream. There he saw the same two lords continuing their kirtan on the altar of Lord Jagannath. As he watched, they metamorphosed into Jagannath and Balaram. The king immediately fell to the ground, prostrating himself in humility. When he looked up, he again saw Chaitanya and Nityananda, laughing.

After King Prataparudra had had this same dream three nights in a row, he went to see Mahaprabhu. He fell down before the Lord again and again; then he took the Lord’s feet, placed them on his heart and began to recite hymns of praise: “O Lord of the universe! O incarnation of divine love! You are the abode of all living creatures and the essence of joy. All glories to you, who lie on the belly of the great serpent, Ananta. Your devotees are like bees hovering over your ambrosia-filled lotus feet. Friend of the unfortunate, take care of me, for I am suffering in separation from you.”

The Lord then showed the king his six-armed form, holding the bow and arrows of Ramachandra in his upper hands, Krishna’s flute over his chest, while his two other arms were held in a dancing posture. Overcome with ecstasy, the king remembered the rasa lilas of Krishna and Balaram. He began to recite verses from the Srimad Bhagavatam that reflected this mood of conjugal love, specifically from Rama and Krishna’s Holi pastimes, as told in the 34th chapter of the Tenth Canto.

Sarvabhauma and the other devotees were astonished to see this six-armed form of Lord Chaitanya and to see Nityananda revealed as Balaram before them all. They too joined in singing the praises of the two Prabhus as their bodies manifested all the signs of divine ecstatic love.


Vrindavan Das elaborates on Murari Gupta’s account. He describes Maharaj Prataparudra’s meeting with Mahaprabhu in the fifth chapter of the Antya-khaëòa. There we learn that Prataparudra was in the south fighting the king of Vijayanagar when Mahaprabhu first came to Puri. After a short time, Mahaprabhu returned to Bengal, making it as far as Ramkeli before returning again to Puri.

This time, when Maharaja Prataparudra heard the news of the Lord’s return to Nilachala, he immediately left his capital city, Cuttak, and hurried to Nilachala. The King was very keen to see the Lord and requested many of the Lord’s associates, including Sri Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, to arrange a meeting with the Lord.

The devotees finally recommended, “When the Lord becomes totally absorbed in dancing, the external world fades into complete oblivion. The King, who is so deeply religious, can then hide nearby and watch the Lord.”

One day the King was informed that the Lord was dancing and he hurried to the spot. He quickly found a vantage point that was well hidden. From there he saw the most wonderful sight of his life. The Lord’s eyes were like two fountains spouting endless torrents of tears, and all the ecstatic symptoms manifested on his person at different times. He sometimes fell to the ground with such terrible force that people gasped in horrified alarm. When the Lord began roaring like thunderclaps, the King had to hold his hands over his ears. Then suddenly the Lord was overcome with the mood of intense separation from Krishna and broke down in heartbreaking tears. So many subtle spiritual moods played on the Lord’s person that it is impossible for anyone to describe them all.

Dancing constantly with his long arms up in the air, and chanting “Hari! Hari!” the Lord was fully saturated in ecstasy. Finally, when he became aware of his immediate surroundings, he came and sat down amongst the devotees.

The King after seeing the Lord’s dancing till the end, stealthily slipped away, his heart full with effervescent joy, his inner eye still viewing the graceful movements of the Lord. Though the King was fully satisfied, his mind was stuck with a gnawing doubt, which later turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

While the Lord had been submerged in ecstatic dancing, tears cascaded down from his eyes, and saliva drooled out of his mouth and mucus from his nose. His body was smeared all over with drool and dust, and the King could not comprehend that these were symptoms of spiritual love for the Supreme Lord Krishna. Doubt crept into his mind, but he left without revealing his doubts to anyone. On returning to his palace, he went to rest for the night.

Even after his experiences that day, the King still failed to understand that it was his worshipable Lord Jagannath who had appeared dancing before him as Lord Chaitanya, the topmost sannyasi. The Lord himself set about to communicate this truth to the King by appearing to him that night in a dream. This time, the pious King Prataparudra saw Lord Jagannath, his body covered with dust and tears gushing incessantly from his eyes like torrential springs. Drool was dripping out of his mouth and nose, wetting his body and making it gleam. The King thought to himself, “What kind of pastime is this? Lord Jagannath’s activities are incomprehensible to me.”

In the dream, the King approached his beloved Lord Jagannath to touch his lotus feet, but the Lord said, “No, no, this is not proper. When I am smeared with camphor, musk, sandalwood paste, vermillion and other perfumed oils, then I am the most desirable and clean, but now that my body is covered with dust and drool, I am not fit to be touched by you. When you came to see me dancing today, you found me repulsive because I was covered in dust and drool. Now you see me in my form as Jagannath, but I am in the same dirty condition. So how can you, a great monarch with an illustrious ancestry, condescend to touch me?” The most merciful Lord Jagannath smiled at his servitor as he spoke to him in this manner.

The next moment, still in the dream, the King saw that Lord Jagannath was no longer seated on his jeweled throne, which was now occupied by Lord Chaitanya, whose body was covered with dust. Mahaprabhu spoke to the King with a merciful smile, “How is this possible? Earlier today you left because you found me repugnant, so why do you want to touch me now?” After the Lord finished speaking, he continued to smile benignly upon the King, thus showering unlimited mercy on him.

When he awakened, the King began to weep bitterly and condemned himself for his misunderstanding. He repented with the following words: “I am the most sinful wretch alive. I could not recognize that Lord Chaitanya was the Supreme Lord. Of course, how much intelligence does a human possess to understand the infinite truth on his own? Even Lord Brahma is deluded by his illusory energy, Maya. Therefore be gracious on me, my Lord. Forgive me for my offensive behavior. Accept me, a lowly person, as your servant and bless me. Thus the King came to know that his worshipable Deity Lord Jagannath was in fact Lord Chaitanya. With this realization his yearning to meet the Lord increased manifold. Yet none of the Lord’s associates could arrange a rendezvous with him.

Soon after this incident, one day the Lord was sitting in a garden surrounded by all his devotees. Mustering up courage, the King approached the group alone and fell flat at the Lord’s lotus feet. Immediately the King was heaved high on waves of ecstasy. Shivering, weeping, and horripilation all manifested on his person. The Lord, seeing that the King was indeed imbued with the spiritual sentiments of a Vaishnava placed his hands on him and said, “Rise, O King.” The touch of the supreme master’s hand on him brought him out of his ecstatic trance and he clasped his hands around the Lord’s feet and began to cry.

The King began to pray to the Lord, “Save me, O Lord! Save me! You are an ocean of mercy and the Lord of all living entities. Please look upon me favorably and forgive a fallen sinner like me. You are the fully independent Supreme Lord, most munificent. O Lord Chaitanya, you are the friend of the poor and meek. Please protect me, for you are eulogized with chosen verses by all the most powerful demigods. You are the husband of the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi Devi. You are the only shelter and Lord of all the surrendered souls. Your form is absolutely transcendental to all material inebriety. You are the initiator of congregational chanting, fearlessly propagating it, for you are the conqueror of the terrible demon, Mura. Your transcendental qualities and names are all unfathomable, and you are the repository of all supramundane excellences. Your lotus feet are constantly worshiped and glorified by Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, Lord Sesha, Sri Devi and others. You are also the priceless gem amongst all the sannyasis. O Lord Gaurasundar, I bow humbly before you with this prayer, that you may never reject me and deprive me of your sublime shelter.”

Lord Chaitanya was very satisfied with King Prataparudra’s prayers. He blessed him saying,

prabhu bale krishna-bhakti hauka tomar
krishna-karya vina tumi na koriba ar
nirantara koro giya krishna-sankirtan
tomara rakshita vishu-chakra sudarshan
tumi sarvabhauma ara ramananda ray
tinera nimitta mui ainu e-thay

“May you develop an unalloyed taste for serving Lord Krishna. Do not engage in any activity except to render devotional service to Lord Krishna. Go chant the holy name continuously and you will always be protected by the Lord’s Sudarshan disc. My reason for coming to Nilachala was to meet three people: you, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya and Ramananda Raya. I have just one request I want you to keep, that is not to broadcast these experiences you have had of me. If you do, then I will leave right away.” (Cbh 3.5.200-203)

Saying this, he lifted the flower garland adorning his neck and placed it over the King. The Lord then bade him farewell, feeling very satisfied with him.

Offering repeated dandavats to the Lord, the King left, taking the Lord’s instructions seriously to heart. The King’s life was fulfilled. He had seen and met the Lord. From then on he was always engrossed in meditation on the Lord’s lotus feet. One who hears this narration of how King Prataparudra met Lord Gaurasundara is guaranteed to receive divine love of Godhead.

Kavi Karnapur’s version

In his first composition, Chaitanya-caritamrita-maha-kavya, Kavi Karnapur does not speak of Prataparudra extensively, but describes him in the following words:

With his rod of chastisement, the Gajapati King Prataparudra decimated his enemies, destroying all dangers to his subjects. Like the sun, he always shone with valor. Even so, he humbly took himself to be the Lord’s most insignificant servant and swept the Lord’s path with the golden broom. He became completely motionless as he watched the pastimes of the two lords, Nilachala Chandra and Gaurachandra. (CCMK 15.95-96)

From the seventh to the tenth acts of the Chaitanya-candrodaya-nataka, however, Karnapur describes Prataparudra’s relation to Mahaprabhu. Indeed, the eighth act is called “Compassion for King Prataparudra.” This account is the main source used by Kaviraj Goswami in the Caitanya-caritämåta, so rather than repeat both, we will go straight to this latter work.

The description in the Caitanya-caritamrita

When Prataparudra first heard about Mahaprabhu’s arrival in Jagannath Puri, he was not there. When he did come to Jagannath Puri, Mahaprabhu had already left on his pilgrimage to southern India. Prataparudra summoned Sarvabhauma and said, “I have heard that a great personality was a guest in your house. I heard that he was very merciful to you. Please introduce me to him.”

Sarvabhauma answered, “Everything you have heard is true, but I don’t think I can arrange a meeting with him because he is a renunciate who prefers to remain private. He will not meet with a worldly man like you, not even in his dreams. Even so, I am sure we could have found some way for you to see him, but unfortunately he has left on a tour of the south.”

More than a year later, when Mahaprabhu returned to Puri, the king renewed his request. This time, Sarvabhauma went and humbly petitioned Mahaprabhu on the king’s behalf. As soon as he heard the request, however, the Lord covered his ears and said, “For a sannyasi like myself, to see a king is the same as looking at a woman— it is pure poison” (CC 2.11.6-7).

Sarvabhauma argued, “Everything you say is true, O Lord. But surely there are extenuating circumstances in this case. The king is a servant of Lord Jagannath and a great devotee.”

In answer, the Lord said, “That may be so, but even a devotee king is an object of fear, like a rope that looks like a snake or a picture of a woman. Both of these things inspire an emotional reaction and that is what I wish to avoid. So don’t bring this matter up again. If you do, I will have to leave and go elsewhere.” (CC 2.11.10-12)

When the King heard this, he was desolated. He said,

“The Lord has descended just to deliver all kinds of sinful, lowborn persons. He has even delivered sinners like Jagai and Madhai. But it seems that he has made a promise to deliver the entire universe with the exception of someone named Prataparudra. He may have taken a vow to never see me, but I have sworn to give up my life if I cannot see him. Without Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy, my life and kingdom are worthless.” (Caitanya-caritamrita 2.11.45-6, 48-9)

Vasudeva Sarvabhauma thought of a possible way for Prataparudra and the Lord to meet. During the Rathayatra festival, after having danced in sankirtan with his devotees, the Lord customarily went into a flower garden to rest. Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya suggested to the king that he take this opportunity to approach the Lord dressed as a commoner and to recite the verses of the Räsa-païcädhyäya from the Bhagavata. The Lord would be in a trance-like state and allow himself to be transported by the recital of the loves of Krishna and the gopis. In this condition, he would surely embrace the king. The king was comforted by these words of advice.

Ramananda and Sarvabhauma try to intervene

Not long thereafter, Prataparudra came to Puri with Ramananda Raya and other members of his retinue. Ramananda knew of the king’s eagerness to meet Mahaprabhu, so when he went to visit the Lord, he tried to persuade him to allow such a meeting to take place, telling him of the king’s deep affection for him. He added that the king had given him leave from his job with full pay to allow him to stay with the Lord. When he heard how the king was filled with love for him and how he had served his devotee, Mahaprabhu replied: “The king has shown so much love for you that the Lord is sure to accept him on the basis of this virtue alone.”

ye me bhakta-janAH pArtha
na me bhaktAz ca te janAH
mad-bhaktAnAM tu ye bhaktAs
te me bhaktatamA matAH

Those who claim to be my devotees are in fact not so. The best of my devotees are those who are devoted to my servants.
The Lord thus hinted that he would be merciful to the King sometime in the future. The king exchanged letters with Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya asking him to entreat all the devotees to intervene on his behalf:

prabhura nikaöe äche jata bhakta-gaëa
mora lägi täì-sabhäre kariha nivedana
sei saba dayälu more haïä sadaya
mora lägi prabhu-pade karibe viñaya
täì sabära prasäde mile çré-prabhura päya
prabhu-kåpä vinä mora räjya nähi bhäya
jadi more kåpä nä karibe gaura-hari
räjya chäåi yogé hai haibo bhikhäré

“If all of the devotees in the Lord’s entourage take compassion for my condition and plead on my behalf and talk to him about me, then surely I will be able to attain the Lord’s feet by their mercy. Without the Lord’s blessings, I have no taste for ruling the kingdom. If Gaura Hari does not show me any mercy, I will abandon the throne and become a mendicant yogi.” (CC 2.12.7-10)

Sarvabhauma read the letter and showed it to the other devotees of the Lord. Everyone was extremely impressed by the depth of the King’s feeling, but they knew very well how strongly the Lord kept to his vows. They thus could not bring themselves to mention the matter in his presence. Sarvabhauma said, “Look, you needn’t come right out and ask the Lord to grant the king an audience. But there is nothing wrong with us simply praising the King’s high standard of devotion.”

Nityananda Prabhu decided that he would speak to the Lord, not about meeting the King but simply about his personal qualities and actions. He said the following to the Lord:

We want to submit everything to you, whether or not it is fitting. The King has decided that he will become a yogi if he cannot meet you. He says, “I will pierce my ears wear the big wooden earrings of the Nath yogi mendicant sect. I have no desire to enjoy this kingdom without the mercy of Gaura Hari. When will I be able to see the Lord’s moonlike face to my full satisfaction and when will I be able to hold his lotus feet to my heart?” (Caitanya-caritamrita 2.12.19-21)

Though the Lord listened to Nityananda’s account of the King’s mood, he maintained his hard line in order to set an example for the renouncers of the world. He said that for the sake of spiritual advancement, a sannyasi is forbidden to set sight on a King. Furthermore, the Lord said, Damodar Pandit would criticize him if he were to engage in such forbidden acts. Damodar Pandit answered, saying,

“I am merely an insignificant jiva, so what power do I have to tell you what to do? I shall see you meet the King of your own volition. The King loves you very much, and you are influenced by a devotee’s feelings of love. It is the power of this love for you that will reward him with the opportunity to touch you. Although you are the Supreme Lord and are completely independent, still it is your nature to be influenced by the love and affection of your devotees.” (Caitanya-caritamrita 2.12.27-9)

Nityananda warned the Lord that people who experience unrequited love tend to commit suicide. Thus, in order to save the King’s life, he asked Mahaprabhu to at least give him a used loincloth (bahirväsa). The Lord could not refuse, so Nityananda asked Govinda for the loincloth and sent it to the King via Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. Prataparudra was overjoyed to receive the cloth and began to worship it as though it were the Lord himself.

Mahaprabhu sees the King’s son

When Ramananda Raya received the King’s permission to come to live near the Lord in Puri, he also described Maharaj Prataparudra’s intense desire to see the Lord and tried to persuade the Lord to fulfill that desire. Mahaprabhu continued to answer in a way that established the rules of conduct for the renounced orders: he said that just as even a slight mark on a piece of white cloth immediately becomes noticeable, the smallest character flaws of a sannyasi are noticed by the general public. A jug full of milk is contaminated by even a drop of liquor; similarly, though it may be true that King Prataparudra possesses all virtues, the very fact that he was a king made his association undesirable.

However, the Lord was unable to completely ignore Ramananda Raya’s request because of their close friendship. He himself suggested that he could see the King’s son, for according to the maxim ätmä vai jäyate putraù (“one is reborn as one’s own son”), there is no difference between the father and the son. When he learned of the Lord’s will, Prataparudra immediately sent him his son. When Mahaprabhu saw the teenaged prince with his almond eyes and dark skin and wearing a yellow cloth, he immediately thought of Lord Krishna. He embraced the lad, causing him to experience the ecstatic transformations of prema. When the prince came back to the palace, the King embraced him and felt the same ecstasies through him. From that day onward, the King’s son was considered one of Mahaprabhu’s associates.

The King’s humble service to Lord Jagannath

A devotee who is free from pride, is surrendered and without any ulterior motive, is eligible to receive the Lord’s mercy.

dinere adhika daya koren bhagavan
kulina pandita dhanira boro abhiman

The Lord bestows greater blessings on the meek and humble. Generally, the noble-born, the learned and the wealthy, are all filled with pride. (Caitanya-caritamrita 3.4.68)

Maharaj Prataparudra was without any pride, even though he had so much material power as well as possessing all the virtues. Mahaprabhu had noticed his willingness to engage in even menial service and was pleased with him and ready to give him his mercy, even though externally he made a show of being hard-hearted.

While the Lord was being carried from the throne to the car, King Prataparudra personally engaged in the Lord’s service by cleansing the road with a gold-handled broom. He also sprinkled the road with sandalwood scented water. Although he sat on the royal throne, he engaged in such menial service for the sake of Lord Jagannath. Although the King was the most exalted person in the kingdom, he still accepted to do this menial service for the Lord and thus became the recipient of the Lord’s blessings. Mahaprabhu was happy to see the King’s service to the Lord and it was through this service, that he finally received the mercy of the Lord. (Caitanya-caritamrita 2.13.15-18)

The Lord’s mercy has no cause. Only he knows who will receive his blessings and when. He gives them, he often does so in an indirect manner rather than open manner. The Lord was pleased by the King’s engagement in a menial service and even though he did not make a public show of mercy to him, he did reveal his personal form to the King and thus fulfill his deepest desire.

These events are described in the thirteenth chapter of the Madhya-lélä. During the Rathayatra festival, the Bengali devotees were divided into seven groups for chanting the Holy Names. Each one of these groups thought that Mahaprabhu was with them alone. Prataparudra was able to witness this pastime and felt wonder and ecstatic love. All this was Mahaprabhu’s indirect mercy.

When Mahaprabhu himself wanted to dance in front of Jagannath’s chariot, he would gather the seven sampradayas together into one kirtan group. meanwhile, the devotees formed three rings of protection around the Lord. The innermost line of defense was headed by Nityananda Prabhu, the second by Kashishwar Pandit, Mukunda, and other devotees. Prataparudra and his soldiers formed the outermost circle to defend the Lord from the crowds.

Maharaj Prataparudra watched mesmerized while the Lord danced, resting his hand on the shoulder of his minister (mahä-pätra) Harichandan. At that time, Srivas Pandit, who was also absorbed in watching the Lord’s ecstatic dancing, came and stood in front of the King, blocking his vision. Harichandan repeatedly tried to push Srivas to one side, telling him to let the King see until finally Srivas lost his temper and slapped Harichandan. When Harichandan became angry and was about to respond to Srivas’ aggression, the King said:

“You are very fortunate, for you have been graced by the touch of Srivas Thakur. I have not been so fortunate. You should feel obliged to him.” (CC 2.13.97)

Prataparudra catches the Lord

In Mahaprabhu’s lila, we find a delightful mixture of the highest manifestations of love, mercy and teachings for the general public. As he pulled the chariot of Lord Jagannath, Mahaprabhu was absorbed in the mood of Radha and the other gopis at their meeting with Lord Krishna who had come to Kurukshetra from Dvaraka on the occasion of the solar eclipse. Thus Mahaprabhu wished to drag Krishna (in his Jagannath form) from the site of his majestic pastimes in Kurukshetra, represented by Nilachala (the Jagannath temple) to the site of his sweet, loving pastimes in Vrindavan, represented by Sundarachala or the Gundicha temple. Sometimes, Mahaprabhu would lag behind as he tried to understand the depth of the gopis’ loving power; Jagannath himself would seem to understand the Lord’s emotions and slow down the movement of the chariot. Thus, the Lord danced more frenziedly as he and Lord Jagannath went deeper and deeper into ecstatic communion.

As he danced in this divyonmäda state, the Lord seemed about to fall down in the very spot where King Prataparudra was standing. The King immediately held the Lord to keep him from falling. This was how Mahaprabhu blessed the King and allowed him to touch him for the first time. When he saw that it was the King, Mahaprabhu condemned himself, saying, “Oh, how pitiful it is that I have touched a person interested in mundane affairs!”

Even though the Lord had already made up his mind to give the King an audience upon seeing him act as a sweeper in the service of Lord Jagannath, he still externally expressed feelings of anger in order to warn his personal associates. The inconceivable activities of the Lord contain both delightful manifestation of emotion and teachings for the world, neither of which are easy to understand.

The Lord finally embraces the King

There is a spot about halfway between the Jagannath temple and Gundicha, or halfway between Sraddha Balu and Ardhasani Devi, called Balgandi. On the Rathayatra day, Lord Jagannath’s chariot stops here at midday so that he can lunch and rest. The custom is that all devotees, whether important or not, can make food offerings to him on this occasion. Because of the large crowds that normally accumulated, Mahaprabhu would go to rest in a nearby flower garden by a coconut grove. King Prataparudra remembered Sarvabhauma’s counsel and approached the Lord in a commoner’s dress and began to massage his feet. He began to recite texts from the gopé-géta portion of the Rasa lila, starting with the following verse:

jayati te’dhikaM janmanA vrajaH
zrayate indirA zazvad atra hi
dayita dRzyatAM dikSu tAvakAs
tvayi dhRtAsavas tvAM vicinvate

Vraja’s glories have increased
ever since you took birth here,
from which time the goddess of fortune
also took up residence in this land.
O beloved! We are searching for you.
Our lives depend completely on you,
so please show yourself to us. (SB 10.31.1).

Mahaprabhu was ecstatic and told the King to go on reciting. The King reached the chapter’s ninth verse:

tava kathAmritaM tapta-jIvanaM
kavibhir IDitaM kalmaSApaham
zravaNa-mangalaM zrImad-AtataM
bhuvi gRNanti te bhUridA janAH

Nectarean discussions about you
give life to those who are suffering;
the philosophers have glorified them,
for they destroy all of one’s sins.
They are auspicious for the ears,
for they bring love for Krishna.
Those who are most munificent of benefactors
distribute these wonderful words throughout the world. (SB 10.31.9)
As soon as Mahaprabhu heard this verse, he became ecstatic with love and embraced the King, while repeating the word bhüridä (“most munificent of benefactors”) from the verse. Though the Lord is all-knowing, he asked the King to tell him who he was. Prataparudra answered that he was the servant of the servant of the Lord. Satisfied with the King’s answer, the Lord revealed a glorious divine form. All the devotees were overjoyed to see that the King had finally received the Lord’s mercy.

While the ratha was being pulled from Balgandi to Gundicha, it suddenly came to a stop and even the strongest men and most powerful elephants were unable to move it. Maharaj Prataparudra became anxious that the festival had been interrupted. When the Lord saw that everyone was worried, he told them to leave the chariots alone and told his own devotees to man the ropes. Then he himself went behind the chariot and began to push it with his head. In a moment, the chariot began to move with a great rumbling noise. King Prataparudra and the rest of his entourage marveled at this feat of the Lord.

While spending the four months in Puri, the Bengali Vaishnavas witnessed numerous pastimes of Lord Jagannath. On the Nandotsava, the day after the Krishna’s birth ceremony, Mahaprabhu would dress up as a cowherd and put on a play about Krishna’s Vraja pastimes with his devotees. Prataparudra also participated in this lila.

When the Lord made his first attempt to go to Vrindavan, he left Puri on Vijaya Dashami and went to Cuttack where he met Prataparudra in a garden under a bakula tree. Here too, the Lord saw the great prema of the King and embraced him, drenching him in his own tears of love. From that day on, the Lord was given the epithet pratAparudra-santrAtA, “the savior of King Prataparudra.”

Purushottam Jana

At one time, the King’s son placed Bhavananda Raya’s son Gopinath Pattanayak on the scaffold for having misappropriated state funds. Some devotees came to Mahaprabhu to ask him to intervene in the affair in order to save Gopinath’s life. The Lord was unhappy at being asked to get involved in such mundane affairs and made up his mind to go to Alalanath. The King himself was disturbed at hearing this news and prepared himself to give up everything in order to keep the Lord in Puri. These are all further proofs of the extent of the King’s love for the Lord’s lotus feet.

When King Prataparudra heard all these details, he felt great pain in his heart. “I shall give up everything I am owed,” he said, “if Mahaprabhu will only stay here in Jagannath Puri. Even a moment’s contact with the Lord is worth more to me than millions of chintamani jewels. I care nothing for this paltry sum of 200,000 kahans. I would indeed give up everything, not only this, but even my life and kingdom, for the Lord’s lotus feet.” (CC 3.9.94-96)

Prataparudra Deva and Krishna Chaitanya (I)

(This is an upgraded version of a translation of Sri Kshetra by Sundarananda Vidyavinoda. I revised it for Journal of Vaishnava Studies, where it will be published in the next issue. The Sanskrit and Oriya verses have been removed.)

Sri Krishna Chaitanya, the ecstatic Vaishnava saint, accepted by his followers as an incarnation of Krishna and called Mahaprabhu, spent most of his latter life in Jagannath Puri in Orissa. After taking sannyasa in 1510, he established himself there until his death in 1534. During his stay there, Chaitanya attracted numerous followers and his brand of Vaishnavism, based on the chanting of the names of Krishna, spread throughout Orissa. Prominent amongst his devotees was the king, Prataparudra, whose meeting with Chaitanya plays a large part in the saint’s hagiographies. In this article, we will give a summary of those accounts.[1]

Prataparudra Deva acceded to the throne in 1497, succeeding his father, Purushottam Deva. Like his predecessors, Prataparudra used the titles Gajapati, Gaudeshwar, and nava-koöi-karëäöa-kala-vargeçvara (ruler of the Karnata town of Gulbarga[2]), indicating the breadth of his empire from the banks of the Ganges to the borders of Karnatak. He made his capital city in Cuttack.

In the Sarasvati-vilasa,[3] it is said that among Prataparudra’s many achievements, he succeeded in grinding to dust the pride of the king of Gauda, Hussein Shah, but that he gave him shelter when he surrendered. It is also said that he defeated Krishna Deva Raya, the king of Vijayanagar.

King Prataparudra’s empire

When Prataparudra was crowned king, his kingdom stretched from the Hooghly district in West Bengal all the way to Guntur district in modern Andhra Pradesh. The first part of his reign was characterized by consolidation of the empire. The Sultan of Bahmani, whose capital was in Bidar, was weak, the Salub dynasty in Vijayanagar was disintegrating, and the Sultan of Bengal, Hussein Shah, had not yet sufficiently established himself to be a threat. Nevertheless, Prataparudra does not seem to have had a taste for unnecessary military adventures and was not engaged in any expansionary expeditions.

In 1509, however, Krishna Deva Raya ascended to the throne in Vijayanagar and not long afterward started a campaign of conquest on the Orissan empire’s southern territories. When Krishna Deva Raya attacked Orissa’s southern frontiers, Prataparudra immediately rushed to confront him with his own army.

While Prataparudra was occupied on the southern front, the Sultan of Bengal Hussein Shah and his general Gaji Ismail took the opportunity to attack the kingdom’s eastern frontier. According to the Madala-panji,[4] this took place in the 12th year of his reign, or 1509-1510 AD. This coincides, as is clear from the data in his biographies, with Chaitanya’s post-sannyas journey to Jagannath Puri.

Hussein Shah’s army invaded Orissa as far as Puri, destroying a great many Hindu temples and shrines on the way. Kahnai Khuntia, a servant of Jagannath and associate of Chaitanya, writes that when the Shah was approaching Puri, he and other servants of Jagannath took the deities out by a secret passage through the southern gate as far as Bali Lokanath. Later on the same night, one of the priests, Nrisingha Mahapatra, took Jagannath to Garkengal, at the confluence of the Bhargava River and Chilka Lake. From there, Jagannath was moved to a cave on an island in the lake, after which the King was notified. By this time Mahaprabhu would no longer have been in Puri, as he had already left on his pilgrimage to south India after a short stay of only a few days.

On hearing the news of Jagannath’s displacement, Prataparudra immediately made his way to Chilka Lake. That night, during his sleep, Lord Jagannath appeared to him and chastised him for his carelessness. He then told him to take Vaishnava initiation, which he did. [5]

Maharaja Prataparudra quickly continued on to Puri, causing the Sultan and his army to flee. The King and his forces pursued the Sultan as far as the Hooghly River where the Sultan took refuge in the Mandaran Fort. Prataparudra surrounded the fort and laid siege to it. Unfortunately, a treacherous minister Govinda Vidyadhara chose this time to attempt a putsch in the capital and the king was forced to give up the siege and return to Cuttack. According to the Madala-panji, a compromise was made with Govinda Vidyadhara and he was given increased responsibility for running the kingdom. The “Kabali copper plate” inscription of 1511 mentions the battle with Hussein Shah.

The King remained in Puri for a few days to serve Lord Jagannath before being forced to return to the southern front to deal again with Krishna Deva Ray.

Though all of Chaitanya’s biographies indicate that the times were troubled when he traveled from Bengal to Puri in 1510, only Kavi Karnapur clearly writes that he traveled to Puri while open hostilities were underway between the Gajapati and Hussein Shah.[6] Karnapur writes how he and his companions were able to travel during this troubled time—

He is the indwelling soul of the entire universe and its sincerest friend. Who then is his enemy? And who would show him enmity? This is proved by the unfettered passage he and his five or six companions made through an area where two fierce armies opposed each other. The toll collectors in every village and the robbers and brigands on the jungle and mountain pathways, who normally are a source of anxiety for travelers, were overcome with ecstasy upon seeing Mahaprabhu and fell to the ground to let him pass. (CCN 5.5-6)

Kahnai Khuntia, however, states that Mahaprabhu arrived in Puri after fighting on the eastern front was over and Prataparudra had already returned to the south to stave off continued pressure from the Vijayanagar forces. Kahnai Khuntia specifies that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu arrived in 1510, on a Friday, a dvadasi in the month of Chaitra. It is likely that Orissan forces in the east were still on high alert when Chaitanya and his companions passed through this area. However, none of Mahaprabhu’s biographers speak of hostilities in the south, even though he would have had to pass through a war zone when he left for a pilgrimage a month after arriving in Puri.

Indeed, Ramananda Raya was present on the southernmost province of the Orissan empire, according to Kavi Karnapur, and was its governor. Chaitanya met with him both on the way towards the south and again when returning to the north, which would indicate that this was still an Orissan possession and in relative peace.

Over the next several years, however, historical accounts indicate that Prataparudra was engaged in a lengthy war with the Vijayanagar king. Udayagiri in the Nellore district fell in 1513.[7] Krishna Deva Raya’s army consisted of 34,000 infantry and 800 elephants. Prataparudra’s army was much smaller, consisting of 10,000 infantry and 400 cavalrymen. Even so, he held off the larger army for a year and a half. Krishna Deva Raya imprisoned Prataparudra’s uncle, Tirumal Raghava Raya or Tirumal Kanta Raya.

In 1515, Krishna Deva Raya attacked Kondavidu in Guntur district. Prataparudra took a huge army to confront him there, but was defeated on the battlefield some distance from the Kondavidu fortress, a few miles from the Krishna River. Two months later, the Kondavidu fortress surrendered. On Thursday, June 23, 1515, Krishna Deva Raya entered Kondavidu in triumph. This date was significant in the annals of Vijayanagar history and is mentioned many times in a variety of inscriptions. Prataparudra’s son Birabhadra, who had until then been governor of these territories, was taken captive at this time.

In the meantime, Krishna Deva Raya’s minister Appaji bribed a number of high officers in Cuttack to change loyalties and overthrow the king while he was away from the capital city.[8] Prataparudra was thus forced to finally sue for peace. The two kings met and signed a treaty, in which Prataparudra gave his daughter Jaganmohini Devi, also known as Tukka, in marriage to the Vijayanagar monarch. As a dowry, he gave up all claim to the territories south of the Krishna River.[9] This marriage is mentioned by the Andhar author, Nandilla Gopa—

Coming from a family that had served in the court for generations, the brave general Salvatisma was the minister of Krishna Raya who married the daughter of the Gajapati king Prataparudra after showing his valor in battle, just as Arjuna married the noble Subhadra.[10]

According to the Cambridge history of India, the frontiers of Prataparudra’s kingdom at the time of his death were the Godavari River in the south and the Rupa Narayan River in the north, near the town of Pichalda in present day Midnapore district.[11]

Prataparudra’s support for Brahminical culture and Vaishnavism

Some people have suggested that Prataparudra was a supporter of Buddhism and Jainism.[12] However, there is plenty of evidence – whether it is the testimony of authors like Krishna Das Kaviraj, or that given in the inscriptions from his reign, or from the verses attributed to him preserved in the Padyävalé and elsewhere – that the King was a staunch Vaishnava. According to the Mädalä-païjé, Prataparudra may even have persecuted the Buddhists, ordering many of them to be beheaded. If Kanai Khuntia is to be believed, then he officially took Vaishnava initiation during the time of troubles in 1510, so this may have marked a change from a liberal to a more sectarian attitude on his part.

Nevertheless, even before meeting Mahaprabhu, Prataparudra followed the custom of sweeping the road before Lord Jagannath’s chariot. He was well educated and a patron of learning and Brahminical culture. He had already acquired a good knowledge of the Srimad Bhagavatam and discussed Krishna katha with Ramananda Raya. The biographies of Mahaprabhu all testify to this. Even prior to his meeting Mahaprabhu, his entourage included distinguished persons like Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, Ramananda Raya and Kashi Mishra, none of who would have tolerated any kind of non-Hindu activity. The following quote from Balaram Das’ Siddhanta-dambara shows that Prataparudra opposed any disruption in Vedic practices, such as allowing outcastes to study the Veda.

Duli Bauri was the son of Padmalaya. He studied the Vedas with a Brahmin, the Brahmin being the senior and the Bauri the junior. The Brahmin said, “Study this, but be careful not to let King Prataparudra know about it.”

Even during his war with the Vijayanagar kings, Prataparudra led a disciplined and religious life. This is evident from the following account given to the Vijayanagar emperor by a spy: “[The Gajapati king] gets up from bed early in the morning two hours before sunrise and salutes two Brahmins before looking at any other person. Then accompanied by the Sixteen Patras (the Brahminical council), he goes on a ride of about twenty or thirty miles before returning to the palace. After taking his bath, he engages himself in the daily worship of Lord Jagannath, after which he takes his midday meal. After food, he recites Sankshepa-ramayana. Then, putting on official robes bedecked with jewels, he sits in the court and transacts his daily business.”[13]

Prataparudra’s valor

Ramananda Raya wrote his play Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka before meeting Lord Chaitanya, apparently prior to either his or the king’s receiving Mahaprabhu’s blessings. He was requested to write a play on the topics of Radha and Krishna’s loving pastimes by the king himself. Thus Ramananda dedicated his play to the king with the following verses:

I have been asked to put on this play about the pastimes of Lord Krishna by King Prataparudra, whose fierceness makes him the fiery god of destruction to the kings that oppose him. Upon hearing his name, the Muslim king Sikandar runs into the hills to hide in the caves, the king of Gulbarga looks at his family with tears in his eyes (knowing that death will soon separate them); the king of Gujarat considers his capital city to be nothing more than a deserted forest; and the king of Bengal feels as if he were in a rudderless boat adrift in a stormy sea.

King Prataparudra’s spotless glories are like an extension of Shiva’s mountain home, Kailasa; they are another manifestation of the moon, dripping ambrosia; they are the essence of the himalayas, the twin brother of the ocean of milk, an autumn cloud and the flowing heavenly Ganges. They purify the world at every moment.

Whenever he gives in charity, he is so generous that his gifts form a river, which brings such joy that the ocean praises him with its overflowing waves. His sacrifices have so pleased the gods that they do not leave his court for even a moment, but remain fixed there as his courtiers.

Elsewhere in the Jagannatha-vallabha-nataka (4.1), Ramananda writes that Prataparudra is an ocean of merit and “cooler than the rays of the moon”

Indeed, Ramananda dedicates every single song in this little play to King Prataparudra, indicating the extent of the king’s attraction for hearing the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. It can be concluded that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined form of Radha and Govinda, secretly entered the king’s heart and made him feel affection for Ramananda, who was his own dear, eternal associate. And what remains out of reach for who has attained the blessings of an intimate associate of the Lord like Ramananda Raya?

It must be underlined here that Ramananda was not one of those court poets who simply flatters his royal patron in order to extract worldly honor and wealth from him. He served and glorified him as a genuine devotee and servant of the Lord.

Kavi Karnapur also credits King Prataparudra with inspiring his composition of the Caitanya-candrodaya-nataka. He too glorifies the king, both as a great king and a great devotee:

Thought there is no smoke, one can recognize the presence of the fire of Prataparudra’s valor, for it brings joy to the saintly while burning the land’s locust-like enemies. Indeed, it seems that it was to protect the universe from the destructive power of this fire that the Husband of Lakshmi created seven coverings over it.

This Maharajah Prataparudra is the apotheosis of the heroic soldier, yet he has bathed his entire nation in the cooling waters of peace as the result of his devotion to the Supreme Lord, a devotion that has accumulated in his heart throughout his reign. Self-controlled and free from the slightest manifestation of passion or ignorance, he allows not a single desire for mundane pursuits to appear in his own or others’ minds. (CCN 1.4)

In his Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, Karnapur identifies Prataparudra as an eternal associate of the Lord and a reincarnation of King Indradyumna, the legendary founder of the Jagannath temple.

He who was formerly Indradyumna, the worshiper of Jagannath, has today been born as Prataparudra, with the same opulences as Indra himself. (119)


[1] "This article is based primarily on the information found in Sundarananda Vidyavinoda’s Çré Kñetra (Bengali), Calcutta : Gaudiya Mission, 1951. Some additional research and information has been added, but the Gaudiya Vaishnava viewpoint of the original author has been preserved.
[2] 180 km west of Hyderabad.
[3] This work on the dharma-çästra is sometimes attributed to Prataparudra, but was in fact written by two of his court scholars, Lolla Lakshmidhara and Ramakrishna.
[4] The annals of the Jagannath temple.
[5] Mahäbhäva-prakäça, by Kahnai Khuntia. (ed.) Fakir Mohan Das. Bhubaneswar: Hari Sankritana Prakashani, 1981.
[6] hanta idänéà gauòädhipater yavana-bhüpälasya gajapatinä saha virodhe gamanägamanam eva na vartate. katham ayaà caturbhir eve parijanaiù saha gacchati. (CCN 5.14)
[7] Not to be confused with the Udayagiri in Ganjam district in Orissa.
[8] One can only wonder whether the treacherous Govinda Vidyadhara was involved in this plot as well.
[9] This summary account of the wars between Vijayanagar and Orissa are taken from Sources of Vijayanagar history, pp. 115-145 and R. Sewell’s A Forgotten Empire, p.320.
[10] In his commentary to Krishna Mishra’s play Prabodha-candrodaya.
[11] CC 2.16.159, 199. This seems to be the reference to the battles that took place during Sanatan’s escape. So it looks like Hussein Shah was still trying to take advantage of Prataparudra’s troubles in the south.
[12] Manomohan Ganguly. “Orissa and her Remains,” Calcutta, 1912. p. 19; Rev. Long in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Vol. XXVIII, nos. I-V, 1859.
[13] Dr. R. Subrahmanyam, “The Suryavamsi Gajapatis of Orissa.”