Dhanurdhara Swami January 27th, 2002
A Puri Remembrance
Partha Prabhu, a dear Godbrother, is living next door to me at the Birla Guesthouse. He is spending a month in Puri. By concentrated spiritual practice he is trying to absorb the mood of the dhama. The night I was leaving, I casually asked him if he had yet gone to the Gambhira. His answer was deep. I liked it.
“The Gambhira is the most sacred place,” he replied. “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, spent the last 18 years of his life in the mood of Srimati Radharani. He was experiencing intense separation from Krishna. To appreciate my visit there properly, I want to first imbibe the appropriate mood. I will certainly visit before I go, but I want some more time here first.”
From hearing Prabhu’s response it becomes obvious that there are different levels of realization in approaching parikrama. A new person, visiting the dhama without guidance, may visit the dhama only on the plane of mere sightseeing. With guidance, that same person might even glimpse the transcendental nature of the dhama. An especially serious and practiced practitioner, like Prabhu, however, may visit the holy places and tune oneself to the unique internal sanctity of the dhama, extracting the personality and mood within each lila-sthan (place of the Lord’s pastimes). Puri is deeply enriched with Sri Caitanya’s mood of separation. It is the place where Mahaprabhu fulfilled His mission by not only tasting the mood of Srimati Radharani, but by simultaneously teaching the world the yuga-dharma?calling the Lord in heartfelt separation. I was disappointed that I couldn’t go deeper this time. By the time I became settled here, I was already headed for the train to Calcutta. Still, I got something.
How fortunate to visit Haridas Thakur’s samadhi, where Sri Caitanya personally placed the Namacarya’s sacred body, or to chant by siddha-bakula, the hallowed tree where Thakur Haridas chanted 300,000 names daily. How auspicious to prostrate oneself before Tota Gopinatha, the personal Deity of Gadadhara, or to bathe in the ocean sanctified by the Lord’s daily bath. How lucky to have graced Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya’s house where Lord Caitanya rested in ecstatic trance, or to have honored Jagannatha-prasad. I pray that the sacred places of the Lord in Puri may serve as a conduit for the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu so that even a modicum of the separation temper (vipramlambha-bhava) tasted by the Lord in Gambhira may one day grace my heart.