On being requested by mother Saci, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ,who by then had already accepted sannyasa, decided to make Jagannatha Puri instead of Vrindavana, His headquarters. Nityananda Prabhu, Gadadhara Pandita, Mukunda, Govinda, Jagadananda and Brahmananda accompanied the Lord in His travel to Nilachala dham. The Lord asked them whether any of them had any possession along with them. They replied that all they had with them was the treasure of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s association. Mahaprabhu was very pleased to hear this.He wanted His associates to depend entirely on Krishna for their own subsistence.
Traveling they reached the village of Atisara (Baruipura), in Bengal, where they rested for the night, at the Sripat of Sri Ananta acharya. Sri Ananta was an intimate associate of Mahaprabhu. The next morning they continued with their travel. Reaching the bank of the Ganges at Chhatrabhoga, the devotees happily bathed at the Ambulinga ghat. By the will of the Supreme, the landlord of that place, Sri Ramachandra Khan, arrived there at that time. Seeing the ecstatic symptoms of Mahaprabhu, he at once surrendered unto His lotus feet. Ramachandra informed the devotees that the relations between the two kingdoms of Bengal and Orissa were at an all time low. Hence it was very difficult for one to cross over the borders and escape into Orissa. However Ramachandra , being influential, secretly arranged for a boat which could carry Mahaprabhu to the other side. The Lord and His associates engaged in an ecstatic sankirtana, while the boat slowly crossed the river. Lord Chaitanya assured His associates that they had nothing to fear as the sudarshana chakra of the supreme Lord always protected His devotees.
Reaching Orissa, the devotees rested for the night. The next morning the devotees started for Jagannatha Puri. On the way, the toll tax collector stopped them and demanded them to pay their dues. Seeing Mahaprabhu’s divine symptoms and His sannyasi robes, however, he allowed Mahaprabhu to pass. But He did not want to let the others through. Mahaprabhu proceeded on His way, but finding that His associates were left behind, He began crying piteously. The tax collector then had a change of heart and surrendered unto Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet. He subsequently allowed all the devotees to pass through without charging a single penny from them. Blessing the tax collector Mahaprabhu continued on His way.
Lord Nitai breaks Mahaprabhu’s Sannyasa Danda :
Nityananda Prabhu exhibited His ecstatic intoxicated mood as He remained absorbed in an intense love for Mahaprabhu.Sometimes He laughed, at times He roared , while at times He jumped into the river and began to swim.
Kshane maha attahashi, kshane ba garjana,
Kshane ba nadira majhe erena santara
Rolling upon the grounds, He bathed in its dust; seeing Him fall onto the ground so hard, the others feared that he had perhaps broken His bones.
On reaching the bank of river Bhargavi, Lord Chaitanya handed over His staff to Jagadananda Pandita. The Lord wanted to take His bath in the sacred river and later he crossed over the river to visit the shrine of Lord Kapateswara Mahadeva.
Jagadananda Pandita, who was in charge of holding Mahaprabhu’s sannyasa danda (rod), entrusted it to Nityananda prabhu for sometime, as he was going out to beg alms. Jagadananda requested Lord Nityananda to keep it very carefully with Him, till he returned. Saying this he departed.
It must be noted that in ‘Sri Chaitanya Sahasra Nama’ compiled by Kavi Karnapura, two names of the lord namely ‘Dandarik’ (holder of the staff) and Nyastha-Dandakrit (one who has established Himself at that place in the form of the staff) find their mention. Hence, the danda (staff) of Lord Chaitanya was His supreme companion and non-different from the Lord Himself. Elsewhere in Chaitanya Mangala, the staff (danda) of Lord Chaitanya has been described as non-different to Krishna’s flute. Lord Chaitanya addresses His danda as follows –
Krishna avatar vamsi haya mora kare
Mohita karila tume akhila samsare
Ebe danda hayan mora aila karete
Kali yuge pasanda dalana hetu rite
(Chaitanya mangala, madhya khanda)
In my incarnation as Sri Krishna, you captivated the entire world as my flute. And, now in this present incarnation (as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu), you have appeared as my danda (staff) to vanquish the bogus philosophies of the miscreants (pasandis) in Kali Yuga.
Anyways, let us now discuss Mahaprabhu’s ‘Danda Bhanga leela’. Holding the sannyasa danda, Nityananda Prabhu began laughing. Being absorbed in transcendental emotions, He began talking to the rod. He argued that it was improper for the person (Lord Chaitanya) whom He carried in His heart, to carry the burden of that danda.
Ohe Danda, ami yanre bahi-e hridoye
Se tomare bahibek e to yukta nahe
Saying this, unlimitedly powerful Nityananda Rama, broke the danda into three pieces and threw them away. Vrindavana das thakura here points out that only the Supreme Lord understands His own desires. It was not possible for anyone to know why Nitai actually broke the danda.Lord Nityananda knows the internal mood of Gaura Raya and vice versa, just as Lakshmana knows the heart of Sri Rama.
Senior vaishnavas have put forward many reasons as to why Nityananda Prabhu actually broke the rod. One of the probable reasons is that whatever Paraphernalia the Lord uses in performing His pastimes or those that are used to serve the Lord, like His bed, His shoes, His Camara, conch shell, etc are actually an expansion of Nityananda Prabhu. Now Nityananda Prabhu , who always worships and carries Lord Chaitanya in His heart, found it difficult to accept that Lord Chaitanya had to bear the burden of carrying Him (the rod is also His expansion).
Another reason often put forward is that Mahaprabhu, being the Supreme Lord Himself, had no obligation to either accept sannyasa or carry the sannyasa danda. Hence Nityananda Prabhu wanted to relieve Mahaprabhu of this impediment.
Anyways, when Jagadananda Pandita came to know what had happened, he became shocked. When Mahaprabhu came to know of this, He enquired whether Jagadananda had a fight on his way. When He came to know what had actually happened , He asked Nityananda Prabhu to explain. Mahaprabhu, whose deep mood is very difficult to comprehend, then appeared to become very sad and exclaimed that Krishna had now taken away the only possession that was left with Him. Sri Gaurasundara’s pastimes are exceedingly mysterious. He might apparently show affection to one whom He wants to kill. Or sometimes He might behave indifferently with those who are dearer to Him than His own life. Only one who is blessed by the Lord can truly understand His actions. The fact is that the Lord, out of His own sweet will, broke the danda, and then appeared to become angry.
Danda Bhanga leela Bhumi, Chandanpur
The sacred place where this Danda Bhanga Leela had taken place had stayed concealed for more than 500 years. It was only in the year 1995 AD, that this exalted dham was discovered by Sri Haridas Sen Babaji, an exalted devotee who had hailed from the family lineage of Sivananda sen. Scriptural research and local evidence corroborated the fact that Mahaprabhu’s Dandabhanga pastime had indeed taken place at Chandanpur, 500 years ago. We, the team from ‘The Gaudiya treasures of Bengal’ consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to have visited this exalted dham and to have smeared its dust over our sinful bodies. We are listing below a few of the significant places around the site.
Shrine of Lord Kapateswar Mahadeva : The ancient shrine of Kapateswar Mahadeva, located nearby, is said to have been established by Lord Rama during Treta yuga. Kapateswar Mahadeva is the eternal protector of this holy dham. Chaitanya Charitamrita describes how Lord Chaitanya visited this temple after taking His bath in the Bhargavi river. References to Kapateswar Mahadeva are found in Skanda Purana as well as Valmiki’s Ramayana. The word ‘Kapata’ in Sanskrit means a dove or a wild pigeon. It is said that while mother Sita, Lord Rama, and Lakshmana were voyaging through the forests of Nilacala dham, they found a beautiful pond surrounded by trees. It so happened that Lord Shiva and mother Parvati were then engrossed in performing water sports at this place. Feeling shy and to hide themselves from the sight of Lord Rama, they immediately took the shape of doves. But Lord Rama, being the Paramatma, could perceive everything. To commemorate this wonderful pastime, He had later established a lingam at this place and named it ‘Kapateswar’.
Sage Bhrigu’s ashram : Bhrigu muni, one of the most exalted sages, had set up his ashram here at Dandabhanga Leela bhumi. It is said that this place was known to be the most purified and perfect yoga site for Bharga deva, the sun god. It is also believed that the first rays of the sun always fall over here. Bhrigu muni’s yajna Kunda is also considered to be presently submerged under the beds of the river. It is said that Bhrigu Samhita, the most renowned astrological doctrine, was composed by the sage here in this ashram.
Danda bhanga Gopinath temple : On the other side of the Bhargavi river lies the temple of Danda Bhanga Gopinath. This temple was established 500 years ago by King Pratap Rudra deva, the then King of Orissa and an associate of Lord Chaitanya. The danda bhanga Leela was witnessed by one of the King’s spies (lenkas) who went and reported it to the King. The King was informed that an effulgent sannyasi (Lord Chaitanya), His avadhut companion (Lord Nityananda), and other associates had arrived from Bengal and were presently on the bank of Bhargavi, engaged in Harinama sankirtana. The spy also informed the King of the danda Bhanga pastime and a kind of radiance that was never seen before. The royal couple visited the site immediately and became overcome with bliss. Later King Pratap Rudra deva, realizing that Lord Chaitanya was none other than the supreme Lord, installed a deity of Lord Krishna at the site, naming it Danda bhanga Gopinath.
Sri Chaitanya Dandabhanga leela Kunja ashram : This beautiful ashram is established adjoining the site where the Danda bhanga Leela had taken place 500 years ago. It has been established by the disciples of Sri Gour Govinda Swami Maharaj who had been one of the prominent leaders and sannyasis of Iskcon. He passed away from this world in the year 1996. Sri Sacinandana das Goswami Maharaj, a disciple of Srila Gour Govinda Swami, has been instrumental in establishing this wonderful ashram and promoting the Danda bhanga pastimes of Sri Chaitanya. One of the devotees of this ashram kindly took us around the various holy sites of Danda Bhanga Leela bhumi.
What to See :
- The bank of river Danda Bhanga where the Dandabhanga leela had taken place 500 years ago.
- Seek blessings of Lord Kapateswar Mahadeva
- Bhrigu Muni’s ashram and his worshipable deities of Sri rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman.
- Sri Chaitanya Dandabhanga leela Kunja ashram –
- beautiful deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, Subhadra.
- Enchanting deity of Dwadasha bhuj Gauranga (12 armed Gauranga) – this form was manifested by Sri Chaitanya at Srivasa Angan and was shown only to Lord Nityananda.
- Shiva Lingam – rescued from a lake adjoining Gadgadia ghat (Cuttack) where Lord Chaitanya had once bathed.
- Beautiful deities of Radha Gopinath.
- Divine footprints of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
How to Reach :
Danda Bhanga Leela Bhumi is situated at Chandanpur, in the district of Puri, Orissa. It is a 15 Kms drive from the Jagannath Puri temple and should not take more than half an hour to reach. Danda Bhanga Leela bhumi is not far from the Chandanpur Police station. Reaching here, one may enquire about Danda Bhanga Gopinath temple or ‘Sri Chaitanya Dandabhanga Leela Kunja ashram’ to reach the bank of river Danda Bhanga where the pastime had occurred.
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.