Madhuvana madhya-bhage Sri Visrama sthala
Sridhara kutira ara kunda nirmala
Kazire sodhiya prabhu laye parikara
Yathaye Visrama kaila Tridasha-isvara
At the center of Madhuvana, is a place known as ‘Visrama sthala’. Here lies the cottage of Kolavecha Sridhara and a clear pond. After rectifying Chand Kazi, Lord Gaurahari, the Lord of the three worlds, came here with His associates and rested.Purport –
About 500 years ago, the state of Bengal was ruled by Nawab Hussain Shah. Nawab Hussain Shah was the incarnation of King Jarasandha, who had conspired and fought numerous wars against Krishna in Dwapara yuga.The magistrate unto whom the administration of Navadvipa was then entrusted ,was known as Chand Kazi (Kazi translates to magistrate in english). Chand Kazi was the incarnation of King Kamsa (Krishna’s maternal uncle) .The residence of Chand kazi was not very far from Srivasa Angan.Chand Kazi also happened to be the spiritual counsellor of Nawab Hussain Shah.
Now, the atheistic envious hindus ,who were not allowed into Srivasa Angan to witness the ecstatic dancing sankirtana pastimes of Lord Gaurasundara, and who spent their entire days criticizing the Lord and His dear associates, conspired and complained to Chand Kazi , that Sri Chaitanya had introduced a system of sankirtana which had no reference in any Hindu scriptures.Their silly argument was that the holy name of God is the most powerful hymn, and if everyone heard it and chanted it, then the potency of the hymn would gradually become lost. These pasandis (miscreants) as Srila Prabhupada calls them, were so foolish that they didn’t understand the holy name of the Lord has the all powerful potency of the Supreme Lord.Just as the Supreme Lord is inexhaustible and all auspicious, similarly His inexhaustible holy name has descended into this material world to rescue one and all, irrespective of their caste, creed ,religion or any such considerations. Besides the Hare Krishna Mahamantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare , Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare) finds its reference in the Kali Santarana upanishad and the chanting of this holy name is concluded by Narada Muni as the only means of deliverance in this age of Kali (Brhad Naradiya purana) –
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
– In this age of Kali the only means of deliverance is chanting of the holy name of Lord Hari. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.
Anyways, taking these complaints into account, and being very envious himself ,Chand Kazi entered Srivasa Angan one day, and began threatening the devotees who were blissfully engaged in performing sankirtana.He grabbed the mridanga from one of the devotees’ hands and smashed it onto the ground. Thereafter he proclaimed that anyone caught performing sankirtana henceforth, would have their property confiscated and be forced to convert to Islam. From then onwards, Srivasa Angan became renowned as Khol Bhanga Danga ,or the land where mridanga(khol) of the devotees were broken (by the Kazi) .
What followed is a very beautiful pastime that is exceedingly difficult to be expressed in mere words. After learning from the devotees about what had happened, Lord Chaitanya became furious.The Lord announced that He would organize a massive sankirtana that evening and take it all over Navadvipa.On His orders ,lakhs of people came with their torches and assembled outside the residence of Lord Chaitanya at Yogpeeth.Everyone had prepared their own torch and barrels of oil were ready to keep them lit.After meeting all, the Lord organized the devotees into several groups.Advaita Acharya, Haridasa Thakura, Srivasa Pandita, Nityananda Prabhu, Mukunda Datta, Ramai Pandita,Vakreshwar pandita, Jagadananda Pandita, etc were all present.Then as if by the order of providence , the lakhs of torches were lit up simultaneously dispelling the darkness that had engulfed the town Navadvipa.Words are not enough to describe that mystical sight.Never before had such a unique mass sankirtana been organized.
The Lord and His devotees began dancing, soaring to newer and newer heights of ecstasy.The beauty of the Lord defeated that of millions of cupids. His hairs were decorated by a string of malati flowers and His beautiful body ,adorned with the markings of Tilaka, glowed like a golden mountain.As the sankirtana progressed, more and more people left their houses and joined in.The rhythmic dance was well complimented by the thousands of torches which also moved in an animated fashion.The street was strewn with puffed rice and coins which the delighted citizens had showered upon the passing procession.
During this marvellous pastime, the residents of Navadvipa assumed the same characteristics as the residents of Vaikuntha. Each one of them manifested four arms, but because they were so engrossed in the sankirtana , they didn’t notice this transformation in their bodies.Even the demigods, along with their associates, mingled into the procession, dressing up as humans.
The procession gradually moved from Mahaprabhu ghat (near His house, where He used to daily bathe)-> Madhai ghat -> barakona Ghat -> Nagariya Ghat ->Simulia -> Kazi’s house.On reaching the kazi’s house, Lord Chaitanya madly searched for the kazi, and demanded that he be brought outside. Meanwhile the spies of kazi had already informed him of the arriving mass sankirtana party.Being very afraid the kazi sat trembling at one corner of his house.The devotees brought the kazi out of his home.Calming down, Lord Chaitanya began conversing with him. After a long conversation, the kazi was finally defeated. I am not elaborating their topics of discussion over here, to avoid the purport becoming lengthy.They are vividly described in chapter 17 (Adi Lila) of Sri Chaitanya Caritamrta.One very interesting thing that the Kazi revealed during the conversation was that he had dreamt of Lord Nrsimhadeva that very night in which he had threatened the devotees and broken their mrdanga.Lord Nrsimhadeva had warned him not to repeat such actions or else he along with his family and all other people like him would be vanquished.The Kazi even showed the marks of Lord Nrsimhadeva’s nails on his chest, to the amazement of all present.This again proves that Lord Nrsimhadeva is always ready to protect His devotees, whenever they fall into any kind of trouble.At the end of their discussion, the Kazi touched the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya and humbly prayed that his consciousness be forever fixed upon Him.He also loudly proclaimed that henceforward neither the kazi nor any member of his family or any of his future descendants shall ever be an obstacle to the Lord’s sankirtana movement. Infact if any of his descendants ever disobeyed his orders then they shall be disinherited from his family.Hearing the Kazi’s beautiful words ,all the devotees loudly chanted Haribol! Haribol!
Actually, Chand Kazi is an eternal associate of the Lord, and he just played his part to enable the Lord reveal His sublime pastimes. If Chand kazi hadn’t been there, then we would not have had the opportunity to read and relish about the transcendental mass sankirtana that had graced the holy land of Navadvipa. The samadhi of Chand kazi,situated a few kilometers down the road, is a sacred site of worship for the Gaudiya vaishnavas.In fact the Champaka tree that shelters the samadhi of Chand kazi is more than 500 years old. Though this tree is hollow from inside, yet strangely it produces and showers nice flowers, which are perhaps its offerings unto this stalwart personality.
After rectifying Chand Kazi, Lord Gaurahari proceeded towards the residence of his dear devotee, Kolavecha Sridhara. Sridhar was materially impoverished but was highly devoted to the Supreme Lord.He would engage fifty percent of whatever little income he made by selling banana leaves and banana products, in the worship of mother Ganges. There was kept an iron pot outside his residence. It was so full of holes that even a thief would not want to steal it.
However, Mahaprabhu, in order to display how much He loved His dear devotee, picked it up and drank water from it. When Shridhara saw Mahaprabhu doing this, Sridhara felt very ashamed.He was mortified and fell down unconscious. Mahaprabhu glorified Sridhara and exclaimed that drinking water from his pot bestowed pure devotion for Krishna upon Him.
Vishrama-sthana is located at this place, as the devotees took rest here after performing sankirtana. Mahaprabhu also rested at this place after teaching the Kazi a lesson.
How to Reach Sridhara angan : The residence of Kolavecha Sridhara, which is also known as Vishrama-sthala, is situated amidst the dense forests surrounding the Rajapur Jagannatha temple. One needs to traverse the narrow forest road adjoining the Rajapur temple, for about five minutes, to reach the residence of Kolavecha Sridhara.
‘Ha Gauranga’ bali kabe se visramasthale
Gadagadi diye ami kandiba birale
Premabeshe dekhiba Sri Gauranga-sundare
Lauhapatre jol piye Sridharera ghare
When will I call out ‘Ha Gauranga !’ at this ‘Visrama sthala’ (where the Lord took rest) ? When will I roll upon the ground at this place and cry in seclusion ? Being intoxicated with divine love will i ever behold the wonderful form of Lord Gauranga Sundara, drinking water from Kolavecha Sridhara’s iron pot.
Pasanaah parisochito mrita rasair naivankurah sambhavet
Langulam saramapater vivrinatah syad asya naivarjavam
Hastava unnayata budhah aho dharyaam vidhor mandalam
Sarvam sadhanam astu Gaura karunabhave na bhavotsavah
(Chaitanya Chandramrita, Text 33)
Even if watered and nourished with nectar for millions of years, a stone will not sprout a single blade of grass. Even if a dog’s tail is stretched and extended , it will never become straight. A man may stretch out his arms as much as he likes, but he will never be able to catch the moon.Similarly a person may follow the various kinds of spiritual practices for millions of lives but he will not be able to attain the pure unadulterated love of God without achieving the mercy of Lord Gauranga.
Kabe ba saubhagya-bale nayana amara
Heribe kirtana majhe Sacira kumara
Nityananda-advaita Gadadhara Srinivase
Laye nache prema yache Sridhara abashe
And when ,by the strength of my great fortune , shall my eyes behold the son of Saci, dancing and distributing love along with Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, Srinivasa (Srivasa) , at the house of Kolavecha Sridhara ?
During the Mahaprakash lila pastimes (the ecstasy that lasted for 21 hours),Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showered His blessings upon Kolaveca Sridhar, who made a living out of selling banana products.Hardly any of the Lord’s devotees present that day at srivasa Angan knew of the deep relationship between Lord Chaitanya and Kolaveca Sridhar. So when Mahaprabhu called out for Sridhar, the devotees had to actually search for his home before they could find and bring him to Mahaprabhu. Sridhar’s residence was situated within the dense forests that presently surround the temple of Lord Jagannatha at Rajapur, today.
Sridhar was materially impoverished but was highly devoted to the Supreme Lord.He would engage fifty percent of whatever little income he made selling banana leaves and banana products, in the worship of mother Ganges. Little Nimai Pandita (as Mahaprabhu was called in His young days, before he took initiation at Gaya), would go to Sridhar every single day and bargain with him the price of these banana leaves, which were very cheap in the first place.At the end of the bargain, Nimai would forcibly take away the banana leaves paying just a few conch shells.Though Sridhar outwardly showed dissatisfaction, internally he became very happy and actually waited for Mahaprabhu to come again the next day. He didn’t understand why, but he always became very blissful whenever he came into contact with Nimai pandita.
Lord Chaitanya displayed to Sridhar His divine opulence at Srivasa Angan. He mercifully gave him darsana of His six armed form (combined form as Lord Krishna, Ramachandra and Mahaprabhu) and then His two armed form as Sri Krishna. Sridhar could also see his worshipable mother Ganga, along with the other demigods such as Brahma and Shiva eternally serving Mahaprabhu.The hood of Ananta Sesha acted as Mahaprabhu’s umbrella and the sages like Narada and Sukadeva Goswami offered their prayers with folded hands.Mahaprabhu then desired to bestow some benediction unto Sridhar. He wanted to give him the eight mystic siddhis – anima , mahima, laghima, prapthi, ishita, vashita,Prakamya, Kamavasayita. But Sridhar said he didn’t want them. Then Lord Chaitanya wanted to impart unto him liberation, the freedom from birth and death.Sridhar rejected them as well.With a deeply emotional heart Sridhar then exclaimed that if the Lord really wanted to bestow upon him a benediction , then let him be granted this boon that he be a servant of the little Nimai Pandita life after life. He wished that wherever Nimai goes, he accompany Him as His humble servant and be able to serve Him by providing Him ,all His requirements of vegetables and bananas. Sri Chaitanya was very happy and granted Sridhar his desired benediction. Mahaprabhu then revealed that He had granted Sridhar the greatest boon, something that was elusive to even demigods like Brahma and Indra.He had granted him the boon of pure devotional service; the treasure of Krishna Prema. This is the greatness of a devotee. He has no interest in anything which is not related to the pure devotional service of the Supreme Lord, which he treasures above all else.As soon as the Lord granted Sridhar this benediction, the vaishnavas present shouted ‘Haribol ! Haribol !’ .The demigods began dancing and showering flowers being amazed at the magnanimity of Mahaprabhu.