Gambhira is the house of Kasi Misra where Lord Chaitanya resided for the last twelve years of His manifested pastime. Gambhira is situated at Balisahi, to the southeast of Jagannath temple in Puri. The place has also come to be referred to as the ‘Radha Kanta Math’ because ‘Radha Kanta’, a beautiful deity of Sri Krishna, is also worshiped at this place. After accepting His sannyasa, Lord Chaitanya shifted from Bengal to Jagannath Puri. He initially stayed at the residence of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. But later, after He returned from His tour of South India, He accepted the Gambhira, the house of Kasi Misra, as His residence. It is described in Chaitanya Charitamrita, how the house of Kasi Misra became the residence for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya requested the King for a nice, peaceful and solitary place for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that would also not be far from the Jagannath temple, King Pratap Rudra deva considered and replied that Kasi Misra’s house would be the ideal place for the Lord’s stay.
raja kahe – aiche kasi misrera bhavana
thakurera nikata, haya parama nirjana
(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya, 10.21)
The King replied, ‘Kasi Mira’s house is exactly what you require. It is adjacent to the Jagannath temple and also secluded, quiet, and serene’.
When Kasi Misra heard of the King’s desire, he considered himself to be very fortunate and was thrilled that Lord Chaitanya, the master of all devotees, would reside at his home. Lord Chaitanya was very pleased to see the residential quarters of Gambhira, in which all His necessities were taken care of. When Kasi Misra fell at the lotus feet of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and surrendered himself, Lord Chaitanya embraced him and revealed to him His four-armed form.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s later pastimes at Gambhira :
During the later stages of His pastime at Gambhira, Lord Chaitanya was so greatly obsessed with the feeling of separation from Krishna, that He exhibited the highest symptoms of devotional ecstasy. His condition was similar to the Gopis of Vrindavan who were devastated after Krishna left for Mathura. The lamentation of Srimati Radharani that was witnessed by Uddhava when he visited Vrindavan after Krishna had left, became a feature of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s transcendental madness. When the Gopis felt separation from Krishna, they underwent ten kinds of bodily transformations. The same manifestations appeared in the body of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Whenever Mahaprabhu manifested such ecstatic emotions, Ramananda Raya and Svarupa Damodara recited various verses from the scriptures or the works of Chandidasa, Bilvamangala Thakura, Jayadeva Goswami to pacify the impassioned heart of Lord Chaitanya.
Sri Chaitanya stayed awake the whole night at Gambhira, during His later days, chanting the holy names of Krishna very loudly. On one such occasion, when the Lord’s chanting could not be heard, Svarupa Damodara entered the room only to discover that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was nowhere. He had escaped from His room that was secured with three locked doors. After searching for some time, the devotees finally found Chaitanya Mahaprabhu lying by the Simha-dvara on the northern side of the Jagannath temple.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic transformations sometimes caused His breathing to stop and His body to become elongated. Below is a description from Chaitanya Charitamrita describing one of His bodily transformations.
eka eka hasta-pada – dirgha tina tina hata
asthi granthi bhinna, charma ache matra tata
hasta, pada, griva, kati, asthi sandhi yata
eka eka vitasti bhinna hanache tata
(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya, 14.65-66)
Each of Lord Chaitanya’s arms and legs had become three cubits long while only skin connected the isolated joints. The Lord’s body temperature, indicating life, was very low. All the joints in His arms, legs, neck, and waist were parted by at least six inches.
It was only after the devotees loudly chanted the holy names of Krishna in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s ear, that the Lord was revived. As soon as He returned to His external consciousness, all of His joints contracted and His entire body became normal. Srila Raghunath das Goswami who had witnessed these pastimes first-hand had elaborately described them in his ‘Gauranga-Stava-Kalpavriksha’. We are citing a few verses from his book for the pleasure of the devotees.
kvacin misravase vraja pati sutasyoru virahat
slathat chri sandhitvad dadhad adhika dairghyam bhuja padoh
luthan bhumau kakva vikala vikalam gadgada vaca
rudan sri gaurango hridaya udayan mam madayati
Sometimes Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would go to the house of Kasi Misra. There He would feel greatly aggrieved, suffering separation from Krishna. The joints of His transcendental body would then slacken, and His arms and legs would become elongated. Rolling on the ground, the Lord would cry out in suffering in a faltering voice and weep very sorrowfully. The memory of Sri Chaitanya’s pastimes awakening in my heart drives me to transcendental madness.
anudghatya dvara trayam uru ca bhitti trayam aho
vilanghyoccaih kalingika surabhi madhye nipatitah
tanudyat sankocat kamatha iva krsnoru virahad
virajan gaurango hridaya udayan mam madayati
How wonderful it is that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left His residence without opening the three strongly bolted doors. Then He crossed over three high walls, and later, suffering from strong feelings of separation from Krishna, He fell down amidst the cows of the Tailanga district and retracted all the limbs of His body like a tortoise. The memory of Sri Chaitanya’s pastimes awakening in my heart drives me to transcendental madness.
svakiyasya pranarbuda sadrsa gosthasya virahat
pralapan unmadat satatam ati kurvan vikala dhih
dadhad bhittau sasvad vadana vidhu gharsena rudhiram
ksatottham gaurango hridaya udayan mam madayati
Feeling separation from His many friends in Vrindavana, who were as dear as His own life, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu conversed like a madman. His intelligence was transformed. Day and night He rubbed His moonlike face against the walls, causing blood to flow from the injuries. May that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rise in my heart and make me mad with divine love.
What to see at Gambhira :
#1 Take Darshan of the enchanting deities of Sri Radha Kanta, Srimati Radharani, and Lalita devi. During the time of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, only Radha Kanta jiu was worshiped at Gambhira. Later when Gopal Guru, a disciple of Vakreshvara Pandita took over, he installed the deities of Radharani and Lalita devi on the left and the right of Radha Kanta respectively. These deities are duly worshiped at Gambhira to this day.
#2 One can take darshan of the room where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to stay. Inside this room, there is a beautiful deity of Lord Chaitanya along with a box that preserves the Kamandalu, Paduka, and quilt of Mahaprabhu.
How to Reach :
Gambhira or Radhakanta Math, as it is also known, is hardly a 10 minutes walk from Swargadwar in Puri. The Math is also quite near to the Puri Jagannath temple. It is situated at Balisahi, to the south east of Jagannath temple in Puri. The place is quite renowned and one can avail cabs to reach here directly.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay in any of the prominent hotels of Jagannath Puri.
Nearest Railway station – Jagannath Puri Railway Station
Nearest major airport – Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar.
At the time of writing this article, there is another airport presently being constructed at Jagannath Puri. However, this airport at Puri has not yet become operational.