Lord Chaitanya’s Life in Poetry (Part 1)
by Patita Pavana das Adhikary
Dear Shrila Prabhupada,
My beloved Spiritual Master, you are my life, my heart and soul. You are all I have and all I wish for. I beg to offer you my humble dandavats one thousand and eight times and then again and again. Let me spend my entire life in offering obeisances unto your lotus feet.
I recall when I first became your fortunate disciple in 1968 I wrote an epic poem about coming to your lotus feet. You wrote in the margin “Very nice!” and then wrote me that you had sent it to Back to Godhead to publish. Naturally, I was encouraged, and so a few years later in 1971 in Brooklyn I offered Your Divine Grace a notebook of handwritten poetry. You shed your brilliant rays of light upon me, and embraced the notebook to your chest over and over again, turning it this way and that. You kept calling me “Poet” saying that this is one of the qualifications of a devotee.
Even more encouraged, I set out to write Lord Chaitanya’s life in poetry. So some years later in 1976 on the rooftop of your apartment in Bombay, I told you about this epic poem in iambic heptameter with proper rhymes as per your preference; and that it would be completed in maybe two thousand verses. At that point you beamed like two thousand Suns. It is an indescribable experience to see you smile in that way, like being bathed in the transcendental light of Vaikuntha. How I cherish your smile, as I have learned to also cherish also your chastisements over the years. That which is pleasing you is all that is important to us, your disciples.
For the most blessed event of Vyasa Puja 2010, I beg to offer a few verses of that project, which in your glorious service, is still ongoing and has yet to be published.
- Patit Pavana das Adhikary (Patit Uddharana das)
Lord Chaitanya’s Life in Poetry
RADHA AND KRISHNA IN THE SPIRITUAL SKY
Beyond this world, his land of birth and death is found another land;
Where Krishna, the Eternal Lord, holds Radharani’s hand.
Eternal lovers share a bliss that’s never touched by time.
The Sovereign Godhead and His Consort, passion shar’d sublime.
Lord Krishna lets His flute notes trill to charm this cowherd maid,
Woodlands dance in euphony while rivulets cascade.
Most favoured of the cowherd damsels is Shri Radha fair,
Her skin is bright as molten gold and raven is Her hair.
Shri Radha’s love for Krishna contrasts courtship of these haunts,
Where sinful schemes and lusty dreams are stirred by selfish wants.
Lord Krishna’s love for Radha is like nothing of this world.
No man can comprehend how much He loves this cowherd girl.
Now poised, She hovers at His feet to tender flowers there.
Shri Radha gives undying love, devotion is her prayer.
He gazes into Radha’s eyes, to please Him She desires,
While in His noble heart a hundred questions She inspires.
“Shri Radha is perfection of devotion unto Me.
Which soul-surrendered servant has a heart as soft as She?
When I am not beside My love, Her heart is filled with dread.
She feels each moment as twelve years, a path of anguish tread.
I wonder why She worships Me, what qualities have I;
That union with Myself alone will Radha satisfy?
Which attribute enchants Her when She looks upon My face;
Or hears My mellow flute notes calling from a distant place?
I yearn to sweetly savour love She’s harbouring for Me,
Her mood of love I’d need adopt those qualities to see.
Can I begin to comprehend these feelings in Her heart?
My Own devotee I would be to understand Her part!”
Thus Krishna puzzled over Radharani’s loving grace.
And wondered what She felt within when lost in His embrace!
SHRI KRISHNA APPEARS AS SHRI CHAITANYA
When nectar waters churned, ‘tis said, the lunar orb appeared.
The Ocean gave birth to the moon, so goes the tale we’ve heard.
Shri Radha-Krishna’s churning love produced a higher gift,
Mahaprabhu, Whose love’s so pure that universes lift!
All people raised their arms up high to drink His gracious love,
While nectar inundated earth from Krishna’s land above!
The Lord descended from Golok upon these mundane planes,
A Saviour of all fallen souls, releasing us from chains.
Shri Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Avatar of gold,
Five thousand years ago Vyasadev His birth foretold.
The Shrimad Bhagavat shastra, pure and spotless on each page,
Predicted that the Lord would come to cast off Kali’s Age.
The Iron Age of darkness, blacker than a Moonless night,
Would see the advent of our Lord, golden-colored, ever-bright.
In serving mood He chanted, swooned, in sannyas saffron dressed.
He sang the mahamantra loud, all souls who saw Him, blessed.
Sankirtan yagna, He declared, will save the world from kaam,
He fell into a trance of love through chanting Hari Naam.
In Radharani’s humour Krishna to the fallen came,
While those of us whose wits are keen will worship Krishna’s Name.
How simple it’s become to win the zenith of life’s goal,
One only need devote his life, God’s glories to extol.
Shri Chaitanya understood the changes Radha undergoes,
And thus it came to pass Shri Krishna felt the love She knows.
And when our hearts are purified and freed from bonds of sin,
A loving mood for Krishna’s fathomed by the soul within.
And those who want this benediction, highest of the high,
Will offer service unto God, His senses satisfy.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
SHRI CHAITANYA’S APPEARANCE
The eighteenth day of February, 1486,
The Lord appeared at sunset while the Moon eclipsed.
The Moon, you see, was shy and hid his pock-marked face from sight.
While spotless, golden Gaura Chandra ’peared on Earth that night.
He took His birth in Mayapur, the center of nine isles,
Devotees chanted “Hari Bol”, their faces lit with smiles.
The village folk were bathing in the Bhagirathi stream,
While in the house of Mother Shachi, ’neath a tree of neem,
The pious-hearted Jagannath, Vaishnava Brahmin mild,
Beheld with father’s reverence the luster of his Child.
Shri Shachi’s father Nilambhar, star-gazer of renown,
Observed the Baby’s planets were in prime position found.
He called the Baby “Vishwambhar”, Maintainer of the spheres,
The mystic sage saw through the veil that falls when God appears.
Shri Shachi Mata styled Him Nimai for the neem tree there.
She prayed that neem tree’s bitter taste the god of death would scare.
For ominous Lord Yamaraj had snatched eight from her breast.
She thus protected Nimai from all inauspiciousness.
The Child would sometimes cry like rain, His weeping uncontrolled,
Until the village ladies sweetly warbled Hari Bol!
Thus friends and family found their joy enhanced a thousand fold,
Prophetic incidents, His transcendental fate foretold.
As time flew past--to test the Child--the people gathered ’round.
And placed before Him clods of earth; some gold and silver found;
A volume of the Bhagavatam, some paddy from the field;
What choice would Baby Nimai make, His future thus revealed?
When, lo! The village folk beheld Him reach out tiny palm,
And show His future task in life by grasping Bhagavatam!
Once when the Lord was found reclining on a serpent coiled,
A cry was raised for fear that the Child’s life mission would be spoiled.
The serpent slowly slithered off, and left the Child alone,
That naga was Anantadeva, Lord Vishnu’s serpent throne.
Once while the Lord was playing dressed in regal opulence;
Two evil-minded thieves approached to steal His ornaments.
Their sinful hands snatched up the Babe, they carried Him away,
The disappearance of her Child caused Shachi great dismay.
Upon those rogues the Babe deployed His powers to delude,
They accidentally brought Him back to Shachi’s gratitude.
One cheats himself and not the Lord through blunders of false pride,
Yet fortunate the criminals who gave the Child a ride!
Would come the day when this small Babe in ecstasy would dance,
And quench the thirst of parched throats with mahamantra chants:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
NIMAI’S MYSTERIOUS FOOTPRINT
Once Jagannath requested his young Lad to fetch a book,
The Boy ran off to shelves of texts to have a careful look.
Before that wondrous Infant had His father’s text secured,
Kind Jagannath and Shachi marveled at a sound they heard.
A ring of silver ankle bells had come from who-knows-where,
This puzzled Nimai’s pious parents for his feet were bare.
When Nimai ran into the yard, they glanced upon the floor;
Astonished parents gazed at prints of feet unseen before.
The marks of flag, of bolt, and goad were proof of Krishna’s print,
Yet thinking that their Deity to give encouragement,
Had left them while He walked about, His qualities displayed,
Unto the footprints of their Son, the two obeisance made!
THE LORD EATS CLAY
Another time the Child was offered rice of ghee and sweet,
Refusing this the Boy instead partook of earth to eat.
Observing this, His mother Shachi snatched from Him the clay,
Bewildered, naughty Nimai asked, “Why did you take away…
“This feast that I was relishing, I think that there’s no harm,
In eating dirt for from this substance rice has been transformed!”
The consort of a pandit, Shachi was quite bright,
And quick to give contrary Nimai information right,
Said Nimai’s mother with a frown, “The difference can’t you see?
“All things in Nature have their use, some single specialty.
“Glazed clay when in a pitcher’s shape is called a water pot,
But when it’s formed as building blocks another use it’s got.
To eat the soil produced of earth the health is undermined,
While eating rice is nourishing for all of human kind.”
The Child submitted and admitted Sachi to be right.
His banquet came from Sachi’s breast much to her delight.
THE PILGRIM’S OFFERING
’Twas sometime after that a brahmin came to Jagannath,
Accepting from the master residence within his house.
With humble cultured manners Jagannath received his guest,
Quite naturally he wanted to maintain the pilgrim best.
The Brahmin cooked as usual a bland and staple dish,
To offer rice to Krishna was this humble bhakta’s wish.
He meditated on the murti of Shri Bal Gopal,
Respectful prayers of honest love were more than ritual.
Unseen the Child appeared before the praying was complete,
And from this brahmin’s dish of rice the Child began to eat.
Now when an off’ring’s gluttonised before the prayers have ceased,
It’s not accepted by Shri Murti, slighted and displeased.
So when that high-souled holy man had found the Child did steal,
His offering of rice intended as the Murti’s meal,
He felt disappointed at the naughty Infant’s “crime”,
Yet still the took on the task of cooking rice a second time.
Then when the second plate of rice was finally prepared,
The Brahmin set the Lord’s plate out, how lovingly he cared!
With meditation on the Lord, he offered food to God,
With eyes closed tight he asked Him, “Come and eat Your rice Prasad.”
Unnoticed Nimai’s conduct caused the same mishap again.
He pirated this plate as well, much to his folks’ chagrin.
His brother Vishwaroop impelled the guest to cook once more,
It wasn’t until midnight that he’d finished up the chore.
Within a bolted neighbor’s house the child was placed this time,
But somehow through a compound gateway agile Nimai climbed.
Bewildered was the Brahmin when again the boy appeared.
Recalling how the Lad had twice before that interfered.
He contemplated calling Nimai’s folks from sleeping state.
But Nimai told the Brahmin that his cries for help must wait.
The Child contended, “My dear sage, you call Me with your prayer,
“Yet when I come to eat My feast, I’m not allowed a share!”
With greatest mercy Nimai blessed the wanderer that night,
The child revealed Himself as Krishna to the guest’s delight.
The Brahmin promised he’d keep secret what the Child had shown,
Absorbed in ecstasy the sage made Nabadwip his home.
And often he would come to visit Mishra’s residence.
To offer veneration unto blessed occupants.
NIMAI LEARNS THE SANSKRIT ALPHABET
The time was nigh for Nimai to be taught the alphabet,
He learned the letters at first sight and never would forget,
His daily lessons, hence it wasn’t long before Nimai,
Could write out Krishna’s many Names and teachers satisfy.
The Child sang Gopal Krishna’s Names like nectar rivers flow
Upon the planets of the gods where lotus blossoms grow.
A transcendental pleasure for His folks at home who heard,
Their Son sing sweetly Krishna Names, His mission undeterred,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
AN OFFERING ON EKADASHI
Once on Ekadashi, a day observed by rigid fast,
The Child amazed His fam’ly members by the things He asked.
He wouldn’t cease His temper tantrums ’till a feast prepared,
As presentation to the Lord with hungry Nimai shared.
And how He was aware of this, His mother could not say,
Those holy foods for worship meant were cooked two miles away.
The Brahmin cooks Hiranya and his comrade Jagadish,
Were likewise most astonished Nimai knew about their feast.
The Lord just wanted foodstuffs that were offered unto Him,
For the Lord to eat on fasting days is neither sin nor whim.
He tells us in the Gita, “Make all offerings unto Me.”
Though bhaktas must restrict their senses on Ekadashi.
MISCHIEF AT THE BATHING GHAT
Young girls who worshipped Shiva to obtain a husband true,
Were most upset by Nimai and the antics He would do.
He told them they should worship Him to have their wanted gain,
“Lord Shiva’s My devotee,” Nimai honestly explained.
“And if you fail to trust to Me such issues of your life,
You’ll get a spouse with seven children by a former wife!”
Some girls surrendered to the Lord, though apprehendingly,
While others turned to Him with loving spontaneity.
Annoying pandits was an art then mastered by the Boy.
Bothering bathing Brahmins was by far His favorite joy.
“I am the Object of your prayer and penance,” He would shout.
The Brahmins could not meditate while Nimai splashed about.
They quickly formed a body to report this prankish Son,
And marched unto His father’s house to tell what Nimai’d done.
Now meanwhile Nimai’d left the ghat, a student free from care.
His father and the pandits searched but found the Lad nowhere.
For he had hurried home arriving by another way,
His hands of spotted ink disproved what pandits had to say.
He looked as though He’d just arrived there from the village school.
How could His hands have spots of ink if He’d been in the pool?
Once Sachi devi swooned when Nimai touched her with His hand,
“Get milk of coconuts to rouse her,” came her friends command.
The ladies were astonished when He brought to them a pair,
For coconuts were out of season, all the trees were bare,
The miracles the Lord displayed would lead the folks to guess,
That He must be the Son of Nanda in some other dress.
Such transcendental cognizance the Lord alone imparts,
He smears devotees’ eyes with love while sitting in their hearts.
Patita Pavana das Adhikary