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The Bodily Transformations of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura gives the following summary of the seventeenth chapter in his Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya. Absorbed in transcendental ecstasy, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu went out one night without opening the doors to His room. After crossing over three walls, He fell down among some cows belonging to the district of Tailaṅga. There He remained unconscious, assuming the aspect of a tortoise.

Text 1: I am simply trying to write about Lord Gauracandra’s transcendental activities and spiritual madness, which are very wonderful and uncommon. I dare to write of them only because I have heard from the mouths of those who have personally seen the Lord’s activities.

Text 2: All glories to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityānanda! All glories to Advaitacandra! And all glories to all the devotees of the Lord!

Text 3: Absorbed in ecstasy, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu acted and talked like a madman day and night.

Text 4: In the company of Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī and Rāmānanda Rāya, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu once passed half the night talking about the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

Text 5: As they talked of Kṛṣṇa, Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī would sing songs exactly suitable for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s transcendental emotions.

Text 6: To complement the ecstasy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Rāmānanda Rāya would quote verses from the books of Vidyāpati and Caṇḍīdāsa, and especially from the Gīta-govinda, by Jayadeva Gosvāmī.

Text 7: At intervals, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would also recite a verse. Then, in great lamentation, He would explain it.

Text 8: In this way Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu passed half the night experiencing varieties of emotions. Finally, after making the Lord lie down on His bed, Svarūpa Dāmodara and Rāmānanda Rāya returned to their homes.

Text 9: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s personal servant, Govinda, lay down at the door of His room, and the Lord very loudly chanted the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra all night.

Text 10: Suddenly, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu heard the vibration of Kṛṣṇa’s flute. Then, in ecstasy, He began to depart to see Lord Kṛṣṇa.

Text 11: All three doors were fastened as usual, but Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, in great ecstasy, nevertheless got out of the room and left the house.

Text 12: He went to a cow shed on the southern side of the Siṁha-dvāra. There the Lord fell down unconscious among cows from the district of Tailaṅga.

Text 13: Meanwhile, not hearing any sounds from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Govinda immediately sent for Svarūpa Dāmodara and opened the doors.

Text 14: Then Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī lit a torch and went out with all the devotees to search for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Text 15: After searching here and there, they finally came to the cow shed near the Siṁha-dvāra. There they saw Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu lying unconscious among the cows.

Text 16: His arms and legs had entered the trunk of His body, exactly like those of a tortoise. His mouth was foaming, there were eruptions on His body, and tears flowed from His eyes.

Text 17: As the Lord lay there unconscious, His body resembled a large pumpkin. Externally He was completely inert, but within He felt overwhelming transcendental bliss.

Text 18: All the cows around the Lord were sniffing His transcendental body. When the devotees tried to check them, they refused to give up their association with the transcendental body of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Text 19: The devotees tried to rouse the Lord by various means, but His consciousness did not return. Therefore they all lifted Him and brought Him back home.

Text 20: All the devotees began to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra very loudly in the Lord’s ears, and after a considerable time Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu regained consciousness.

Text 21: When He regained consciousness, His arms and legs came out of His body, and His whole body returned to normal.

Text 22: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu stood up and then sat down again. Looking here and there, He inquired from Svarūpa Dāmodara, “Where have you brought Me?

Text 23: “After hearing the vibration of a flute, I went to Vṛndāvana, and there I saw that Kṛṣṇa, the son of Mahārāja Nanda, was playing on His flute in the pasturing grounds.

Text 24: “He brought Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī to a bower by signaling with His flute. Then He entered within that bower to perform pastimes with Her.

Text 25: “I entered the bower just behind Kṛṣṇa, My ears captivated by the sound of His ornaments.

Text 26: “I saw Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs enjoying all kinds of pastimes while laughing and joking together. Hearing their vocal expressions enhanced the joy of My ears.

Text 27: “Just then, all of you made a tumultuous sound and brought Me back here by force.

Text 28: “Because you brought Me back here, I could no longer hear the nectarean voices of Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs, nor could I hear the sounds of their ornaments or the flute.”

Text 29: In great ecstasy, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said to Svarūpa Dāmodara in a faltering voice, “My ears are dying of thirst. Please recite something to quench this thirst. Let Me hear it.”

Text 30: Understanding the ecstatic emotions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Svarūpa Dāmodara, in a sweet voice, recited the following verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

Text 31: “[The gopīs said:] ‘My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, where is that woman within the three worlds who would not be captivated by the rhythms of the sweet songs coming from Your wonderful flute? Who would not fall down from the path of chastity in this way? Your beauty is the most sublime within the three worlds. Upon seeing Your beauty, even cows, birds, animals and trees in the forest are stunned in jubilation.”’

Text 32: Upon hearing this verse, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, overwhelmed with the ecstasy of the gopīs, began to explain it.

Text 33: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “The gopīs entered the arena of the rāsa dance in ecstasy, but after hearing Kṛṣṇa’s words of negligence and detachment, they understood that He was going to renounce them. Thus they began to chastise Him in anger.

Text 34: ‘O dear lover,’ they said, ‘please answer just one question. Who among all the youthful women within this universe is not attracted by the sound of Your flute?

Text 35: ‘When You play Your flute, the vibration acts like a messenger in the form of a yoginī perfect in the art of chanting mantras. This messenger enchants all the women in the universe and attracts them to You. Then she increases their great anxiety and induces them to give up the regulative principle of obeying superiors. Finally, she forcibly brings them to You to surrender in amorous love.

Text 36: ‘The vibration of Your flute, accompanied by Your glance, which pierces us forcibly with the arrows of lust, induces us to ignore the regulative principles of religious life. Thus we become excited by lusty desires and come to You, giving up all shame and fear. But now You are angry with us. You are finding fault with our violating religious principles and leaving our homes and husbands. And as You instruct us about religious principles, we become helpless.

Text 37: ‘We know that this is all a well-planned trick. You know how to make jokes that cause the complete annihilation of women, but we can understand that Your real mind, words and behavior are different. Therefore please give up all these clever tricks.

Text 38: ‘The nectarean buttermilk of Your flute’s vibration, the nectar of Your sweet words and the nectarean sound of Your ornaments mix together to attract our ears, minds and lives. In this way You are killing us.’ ”

Text 39: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu spoke these words in a mood of anger as He floated on waves of ecstatic love. Merged in an ocean of anxiety, He recited a verse spoken by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī expressing the same emotion. Then He personally explained the verse and thus tasted the sweetness of Kṛṣṇa.

Text 40: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu continued, “‘My dear friend, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, has a voice as deep as a cloud resounding in the sky. With the tinkling of His ornaments He attracts the ears of the gopīs, and with the sound of His flute He attracts even the goddess of fortune and other beautiful women. That Personality of Godhead, known as Madana-mohana, whose joking words carry many indications and deep meanings, is increasing the lusty desires of My ears.’

Text 41: “Kṛṣṇa’s deep voice is more resonant than newly arrived clouds, and His sweet song defeats even the sweet voice of the cuckoo. Indeed, His song is so sweet that even one particle of its sound can inundate the entire world. If such a particle enters one’s ear, one is immediately bereft of all other types of hearing.

Text 42: “My dear friend, please tell Me what to do. My ears have been plundered by the qualities of Kṛṣṇa’s sound. Now, however, I cannot hear His transcendental sound, and I am almost dead for want of it.

Text 43: “The tinkling of Kṛṣṇa’s ankle bells surpasses the songs of even the swan and crane, and the sound of His bangles puts the singing of the caṭaka bird to shame. Having allowed these sounds to enter the ears even once, one cannot tolerate hearing anything else.

Text 44: “Kṛṣṇa’s speech is far sweeter than nectar. Each of His jubilant words is full of meaning, and when His speech mixes with His smile, which is like camphor, the resultant sound and the deep meaning of Kṛṣṇa’s words create various transcendental mellows.

Text 45: “One particle of that transcendental, blissful nectar is the life and soul of the ear, which is like a cakora bird that lives in hope of tasting that nectar. Sometimes, by good fortune, the bird can taste it, but at other times he unfortunately cannot and therefore almost dies of thirst.

Text 46: “The transcendental vibration of Kṛṣṇa’s flute disturbs the hearts of women all over the world, even if they hear it only once. Thus their fastened belts become loose, and these women become the unpaid maidservants of Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, they run toward Kṛṣṇa exactly like madwomen.

Text 47: “When she hears the vibration of Kṛṣṇa’s flute, even the goddess of fortune comes to Him, greatly hoping for His association, but nevertheless she does not get it. When the waves of thirst for His association increase, she performs austerities, but still she cannot meet Him.

Text 48: “Only the most fortunate can hear these four nectarean sounds — Kṛṣṇa’s words, the tinkling of His ankle bells and bangles, His voice and the vibration of His flute. If one does not hear these sounds, his ears are as useless as small conchshells with holes.”

Text 49: While Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu lamented in this way, agitation and ecstasy awoke in His mind, and He became very restless. Many transcendental ecstasies combined in Him, including anxiety, lamentation, attention, eagerness, fear, determination and remembrance.

Text 50: The aggregate of all these ecstasies once awoke a statement by Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī in the mind of Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura [Līlā-śuka]. In the same ecstatic mood, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu now recited that verse, and on the strength of madness He described its meaning, which is unknown to people in general.

Text 51: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “‘Alas, what shall I do? To whom shall I speak? Let whatever I have done in hopes of meeting Kṛṣṇa be finished now. Please say something auspicious, but do not speak about Kṛṣṇa. Alas, Kṛṣṇa is lying within My heart like Cupid; therefore how can I possibly give up talking of Him? I cannot forget Kṛṣṇa, whose smile is sweeter than sweetness itself and who gives pleasure to My mind and eyes. Alas, My great thirst for Kṛṣṇa is increasing moment by moment!’

Text 52: “The anxiety caused by separation from Kṛṣṇa has made Me impatient, and I can think of no way to meet Him. O My friends, you are also deranged by lamentation. Who, therefore, will tell Me how to find Him?

Text 53: “O My dear friends, how shall I find Kṛṣṇa? What shall I do? Where shall I go? Where can I meet Him? Because I cannot find Kṛṣṇa, My life is leaving Me.”

Text 54: Suddenly, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu became calm and considered His state of mind. He remembered the words of Piṅgalā, and this aroused an ecstasy that moved Him to speak. Thus He explained the meaning of the verse.

Text 55: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “If I give up hope of meeting Kṛṣṇa, I shall then be happy. Therefore, let us stop this most inglorious discussion of Kṛṣṇa. It would be better for us to talk of glorious topics and forget Him.”

Text 56: While speaking in this way, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī suddenly remembered Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, He appeared within Her heart. Greatly astonished, She told Her friends, “The person I want to forget is lying in My heart.”

Text 57: Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s ecstasy also made Her think of Kṛṣṇa as Cupid, and this understanding frightened Her. She said, “This Cupid, who has conquered the whole world and entered My heart, is My greatest enemy, for He does not allow Me to forget Him.”

Text 58: Then great eagerness conquered all the other soldiers of ecstasy, and an uncontrollable desire arose in the kingdom of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s mind. Greatly unhappy, She then chastised Her own mind.

Text 59: “If I do not think of Kṛṣṇa, My impoverished mind will die within a moment like a fish out of water. But when I see Kṛṣṇa’s sweetly smiling face, My mind and eyes are so pleased that My desire for Him redoubles.

Text 60: “Alas! Where is Kṛṣṇa, the treasure of My life? Where is the lotus-eyed one? Alas! Where is the divine ocean of all transcendental qualities? Alas! Where is the beautiful blackish youth dressed in yellow garments? Alas! Where is the hero of the rāsa dance?

Text 61: “Where shall I go? Where can I find You? Please tell Me. I shall go there.” Speaking in this way, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu began running. But Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī stood up, caught Him and took Him on his lap. Then Svarūpa Dāmodara brought Him back to His place and made Him sit down.

Text 62: Suddenly Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu returned to external consciousness and said to Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī, “My dear Svarūpa, please sing some sweet songs.” The Lord’s ears were satisfied when He heard Svarūpa Dāmodara sing songs from the Gīta-govinda and those by the poet Vidyāpati.

Text 63: Each day and night, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu would become deranged in this way and talk like a madman.

Text 64: Even Anantadeva, who possesses thousands of mouths, cannot fully describe the ecstatic transformations that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu experienced in a single day.

Text 65: What can a poor creature like me describe of those transformations? I can give only a hint of them, as if showing the moon through the branches of a tree.

Text 66: This description, however, will satisfy the mind and ears of anyone who hears it, and he will be able to understand these uncommon activities of deep ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa.

Text 67: Ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa is wonderfully deep. By personally tasting the glorious sweetness of that love, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu showed us its extreme limit.

Text 68: Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is wonderfully merciful and wonderfully magnanimous. We have heard of no one else within this world so merciful and charitable.

Text 69: O people of the world, worship the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in all respects. Only in this way will you achieve the nectarean treasure of ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa.

Text 70: Thus I have described Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s ecstatic transformation of becoming like a tortoise. In that ecstasy, He talked and acted like a madman.

Text 71: Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī has fully described this pastime in his book Gaurāṅga-stava-kalpavṛkṣa.

Text 72: “How wonderful it is! Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu left His residence without opening the three strongly bolted doors. Then He crossed over three high walls, and later, because of strong feelings of separation from Kṛṣṇa, He fell down amidst the cows of the Tailaṅga district and retracted all the limbs of His body like a tortoise. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who appeared in that way, rises in my heart and maddens me.”

Text 73: Praying at the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Raghunātha, always desiring their mercy, I, Kṛṣṇadāsa, narrate Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, following in their footsteps.

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