Friday, July 25, 2008

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.

Caitanya-bhagavata

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)

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