The Glories of Srimati Gangamata Goswamini
Published on June 1st, 2017 | by Harmonist staff2
By Srila B.V. Narayana Swami, originally published at PureBhakti.com.
There was a beautiful girl in East Bengal named Saci devi, and she was the daughter of the King of Putiya. From the beginning of her life she heard about Lord Krsna, and from that time onward she gave her entire heart to Him. From the time she was about five years old, she used to worship Krsna, sing to Krsna, play with Krsna, and do everything with Him. When she was about sixteen years old she became maddened for Him.
Saci devi was not only beautiful, but she was very intelligent and used to study Sanskrit and Bengali. Her father and mother were worried for her marriage, but she totally refused to marry. She told her father, “My marriage has already been done. There is no need of another marriage. Don’t be worried. I will go to Vrndavana and I will meet my beloved there.”
She took her Deities and was ready to go to Vrndavana alone, on foot, which was a three to four thousand mile journey. There were no airplanes or any modern conveniences in those days. She was preparing to go by foot, but her father arranged everything for her travel.
Having come to Vrndavana and being completely infatuated and controlled by the desire to meet Krsna, she began searching for Him everywhere, wandering here and there. She would go to Vamsivata and ask that Vamsivata banyan tree: “Where is Krsna? Can you tell me where is Krsna?”
There was a disciple of a very exalted devotee, named Haridasa, who in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami. He was always chanting and remembering Krsna. He was also giving classes, just as I give in the evenings, and all the Vrajavasis and saints and sadhus in our line would attend. Saci devi also used to hear the classes, and she was attracted. She told Haridasa, “I am taking your shelter. Please give me initiation, otherwise I will die. I want to see Krsna, and I want serve Krsna and Radha.” Hearing this, he was so much happy. Though he had never wanted to initiate anyone, he initiated that beautiful princess.
Haridasa then gave Saci devi instructions on how to chant, how to remember, how to practice in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami, how Krsna is her beloved, and how she would be able to serve Radhika. He told her that her guru was a manifestation of Srimati Visakha devi and Sri Rupa Manjari.
Sri Haridasa did not want her to be alone. He told her that there was an elderly lady of about fifty years who was very mature in hari-bhajana. He placed her in the hands of that devotee, just as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu placed the hands of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami in the hands of Sri Svarupa Damodara.
After her initiation, Saci devi was always weeping for Lord Krsna. She used to chant more than one hundred thousands names (64 rounds) of harinama daily, and she was totally absorbed. Her guru never gave her any bhajana-kutira (small house or room or hut, used for chanting and remembering Krsna). Rather he told her, “Oh, you should arrange this yourself. I have nothing to do with these things. You should manage that part of your life.”
Saci devi used to live in a broken-down temple on the Yamuna ghat, and there she would perform her sadhana-bhajana. She never made any management for taking prasada, but rather she would go from door to door, taking very little madhukari (prasada alms). She would eat only one forth of one chapati in a meal, not taking all or even half of it. Everyone loved her and wanted to give her foodstuffs, but she never accepted them. She never wore nice clothing. She wore only worn and torn white cloth, and she was satisfied by this. She had no electricity and no facilities at all.
By continually hearing and developing her Krsna consciousness, she became totally renounced. When she became twenty-five years old her gurudeva told her, “It is time for you to go to Radha-Kunda, to the place of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, and do bhajana like him. And also take that nice elderly devotee.”
For the next twenty-five years Saci devi remained in the renounced order, doing madhukari (begging) and somehow maintaining her life. There was no problem in maintaining herself, and therefore she used to perform bhajana day and night. She did not sleep, even at night.
After twenty-five years her guru now very old, called her and said, “You should now go to Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri, near the Gambira of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and then remain there for some time. There you will become siddha, perfect; so don’t delay. Also, I would like you to renovate the place of Sri Sarvabhuma Bhattacarya. At present it is in ruins. No one is taking care of it and practically no one knows about its existence. So go and discover it, make a very simple temple there, worship there, live there, and take the prasadam of Jagannatha.”
That elderly lady was now gone, and therefore Saci devi went there alone. Somehow she came in the same way that Sri Sanatana Gosvami came from Vraja Mandala to Jagannatha Puri, traveling for many days on foot. You cannot imagine how she came.
Once in Puri, Saci devi discovered the place of Sarvabhuma Bhattacarya. She made a hut of leaves and began to live there, chanting and remembering Lord Krsna. In the evenings she gave classes on Rasa Pancadyaya (the five chapters in Srimad-Bhagavatam 10th Canto regarding Lord Krsna’s lilas with the gopis of Vrndavana). Sometimes she spoke on Venu-gita, and sometimes on other very important subjects of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
When giving class, tears would come to Saci devi’s eyes. All the residents of Puri were attracted, and even the King used to come in disguise to hear from her. The King made a proposal, “I want to give something to you. I want to build you a nice hut, and I want to give you a donation.” Saci devi refused the donation and said, “I don’t want a donation from a king.”
One day on Makhara-sankranti, millions of Indians were going to take bath in the Ganges, which was hundreds of miles away from Puri. At that time Saci devi made up her mind, “I must also go to the Ganges to take bath.” She made this determination in her mind, and she was going to go, but at midnight she saw, “Oh, the Ganges is coming.” There was a very heavy, roaring current and as though by magic, she found herself in that Ganges where millions of persons were taking bath. The current in the Ganges took her to the temple of Lord Jagannatha, and then it entered and touched the feet of Jagannatha. She was now there at Lord Jagannatha’s feet, and the door was closed. No one else was there.
In the morning the priest came, opened the door, and thousands upon thousands of persons came in to take darsana. The priest saw that lady and said, “Oh, why did you come here? To steal the ornaments of Jagannatha?”
Saci devi was absorbed in Krsna thinking, “Krsna is so merciful. Ganges came to me, made me take bath, and her current took me to the lotus feet of Jagannatha.” She could not answer that priest, however. It is prohibited for a devotee to reveal his or her realizations, and moreover, no one would have believed her. She was thus taken to jail as if she were a thief.
During the night Jagannatha gave a dream to the King, and also to the prominent pujari. Saci devi would now become famous as Gangamata Thakurani or Gangamata Goswamini, due to her being carried by the Ganges. Jagannatha told them, “Go at once and beg forgiveness. Bring Gangamata Thakurani in a golden chariot, with drums and all other paraphernalia, to make a royal reception and royal procession. Also, you should become a disciple of that lady, along with your priests and all others prominent persons.”
The king awoke and at once went to the jail with golden chariots, a large crowd, and a royal reception. He brought her to her cottage and said, “Jagannatha has told me, ‘You should go and take shelter of that devotee. If you do not take initiation from her, I will destroy your entire dynasty.” Along with all his counselors and others, he now began to fast and pray, “Be pleased to give us initiation very soon.” Gangamata Thakurani replied, “My guru has not told me to do this. I don’t want to make any disciples.” Jagannatha then ordered her, “For Me, to please Me, you must make disciples.” She then accepted them.
The king promised, “I will give some land for Sarvabhuma Bhattacaraya, and I will make a very good temple there. I know that you have come for your gurudeva for this.” He made a temple, but Gangamata Thakurani was always living in the temple of her heart. Her temple was there.
She continued to give classes, and all the residents of Puri as well as the highly elevated devotees used to attend. One day, while she was absorbed in chanting and remembering the pastimes of Krsna, a brahmana from Jaipur came to her. That brahmana had been serving the deity of Raya Kisora, Sri Krsna Himself.
Krsna had told him in a dream, “Please take me to Puri and give me to Gangamata Thakurani. She will serve me. If you don’t do this I will curse you. You are not rendering proper service. Sometimes you give Me offerings and sometimes not. You sometimes give Me bath and sometimes not. You are not doing service as you were before. So please go there and give Me to her. Otherwise, I will curse you, and your dynasty will also be finished.”
That brahmana then took the very beautiful Thakuraji (deity) in a basket, and walked on foot for many months until he came to Puri. Now he approached Gangamata Thakurani and requested her, “Thakurji has come. Please take Him and serve Him. She refused and said, “I am doing manasi-seva (worship of Sri Radha-Krsna by meditation) in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami. I cannot do all this. I have no time to worship with external paraphernalia.”
The brahmana became very worried and thought, “What shall I do?” Gangamata Thakurani had a Tulasi garden. That night the brahmana left the deity in the midst of her Tulasi garden and fled. At four the next morning, Raya Kisora, said to Gangamata, “You are neglecting Me. I came to have your service and your love and affection, and you are neglecting me. I’m thirsty; I’m so hungry. So please take me. Prepare something and offer that to Me.” Gangamata Thakurani then went to see that deity. Charmed, she took Him in her arms. She brought Him inside the temple and began worshiping Him there, and still now that vigraha (deity) is there.
When the king heard about this he thought, “I am fortunate to be the disciple of this great devotee.”
All the ladies should try to be like Gangamata Thakurani. She never even dreamed of marrying any worldly person. I have come to help you to become a devotee like this. The world is like a fire, a burning forest fire. We have seen such a big fire in Florida. It burned for miles, and the government could not do anything. The burning forest fire of material existence is greater than this. We are in that fire, and we can never be saved as long as we are in material consciousness. If someone puts ghee in the fire, what will happen? It will become bigger. You will not be able to be saved.
The father of Yadu Maharaja, Yayati, had so many very beautiful wives, but he was not satisfied. When he was old he wanted to take the youthful age of his son, but Jadu Maharaja refused and told him, “This life is only meant to serve Krsna. If you were a pure devotee, I would have been very happy to give you my youth.” Yayati then asked his second son, Puru. He said, “Puru, you are my very dear, darling son. Please give me your youth. I want to further taste material pleasure. My thirst has not been quenched.” Puru replied, “O father, I came from you, and so I’m giving you my youth.” Yayati thus became young, and for many thousands of years he engaged in sense gratification. He was not satisfied, however, and one day he thought, “What silly things am I doing?” He quickly returned his youth to his son, and then left every material consideration and went in the forest.
This history shows that the world is a burning fire. The fire in the sea is thousands of times greater than the forest fire, and we are in that fire. We should try to know all these truths. Don’t waste your time. Try to develop your Krsna Consciousness. If you are married, there is no harm in that. Along with your wife and children you should try to be detached. There must be some sense of duty, but no attachment at all. You should think, “I must serve my wife (or husband) and children because they are eternal servants of Krsna. For this reason, so that they may develop their Krsna consciousness, I should help them.”
Male devotees should try to become like Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, and Srila Rupa Gosvami. Lady devotees should become like Gangamata Thakurani, Jahnava Thakurani, and Hemalata Thakurani
Don’t waste your time. Remain in your positions, and if you are married, that is okay. If you are not married, if you are renounced, that is okay. If you are not renounced, that is okay. But hear hari-katha wherever you are and in whatever position you are. Offer pranama to that place where hari-katha is being spoken. Offer pranama to the organizers, and offer satstang-pranama to the speaker and to the whole audience. Then, very soon you will have sadhana-bhakti, bhava-bhakti and prema-bhakti. Try to realize all these things. These are truths.