The GREAT Importance of Puri



Saturday, 21 June 1930, Morton School, 50 Amherst Street. The verandah on the third storey. Summer, five o’clock. It is a very hot day. M. is seated on the eastern side of the verandah. He is gazing at the eastern sky indifferent to the outside world. His eyes and face are dry. He is dressed in a white-bordered dhoti and a long cloth shirt. Antevasi has arrived from Belur Math. He folds his hands to salute. M. does not let sadhus to touch his feet. He lets no one to touch his feet.

The month of Jyeshtha. The earth is burning, as if it is a cauldron. M. feels very uncomfortable in heat. He says to Antevasi, “Let’s go to the roof.”

M. sits on a chair on the roof, facing north. A soft breeze blows. M. says happily, “This breeze has saved me.” He presses the pulse of his right hand with his left and says, “Thakur used to say, ‘Put your faith in the Mother. You won’t have to do anything else.’ Kñéyante cäsya karmäëi.[1]

Antevasi: “I’ve the diary to read to you. Do you want to hear it?”

M. (with delight): “Yes, please do read.”

Antevasi reads:

Saturday, 21 June, 1930. Belur Math. Sri Mahapurusha has been ill for a long time, suffering from influenza. In the morning his temperature is 98.8°, but by evening, it becomes 100.6° to 101°. Even so, the sadhus come in the morning to offer salutations. Then he seems to have no fever. A new man, a teacher through and through, a paramahamsa. He happily enquires after each one.

Swami Nigamananda is standing in the room. He has to establish Thakur’s ashrama in Gaya. Sri Mahapurusha enquires about the ashrama. Swami Paramananda also lives in Gaya in a cave. It is about him that they talk. Sri Mahapurusha says, “Does he not take disciples? As he is a disciple of Nangta Baba (the Naked One) people have great reverence for him. Nangta Baba was revered by everyone. He is a distant relation to Maharaj.[2] First he learnt from Nangta Baba and then from Maharaj.”

As a sadhu from Deoghar Vidyapith offers his salutations, Mahapurusha Maharaj asks him how he is faring. He is absent-minded, unwell. (Smiling) “Do you still have to go there?” The sadhu replies, “Yes, sir.” Then he asks, “When are you leaving?” The sadhu says, “Tomorrow.” Sri Mahapurusha says, “Because of the Satyagraha agitation, Pim (Swami Jyotirupananda) hasn’t been able to get any money.”

Pim is collecting donations from Munger in Bihar and such other places for the Vidyapith. Now, because of Gandhiji’s countrywide Satyagraha agitation, no donations have been received.

As soon as the reading of the diary ends, Swami Manishananda comes in. After salutations and polite enquiries, M. asks, “Where is your place of work? (Pointing to Antevasi) He was working in Madras. Now he has been transferred to Deoghar Vidyapith.”

M. (to Antevasi): “Do you know who the director of this undertaking is? Thakur said, ‘Say it to the Mother, That is to the Director. If you do, She will do all your work.’”

“Work has to be done. Prakåtistväà niyokñyati.[3] And people consider themselves to be the doers. They are different. Nevertheless, everybody must frequently go into solitude.”

Antevasi: “Having lived in comfort for a long time, it is very troublesome to go. The body doesn’t tolerate it.”

M.: “You don’t have to go. The Math is for those who are not physically fit. Just as a bird perches on the branch of a tree and rests when it’s tired of flying in the sky, one goes to the Math.”

Antevasi: “Then he is not a first class sadhu. He is only second or third class.”

M.: “No, there is no second or third with Him. Nädatte kasyacit päpam.[4] The second and third classes are there to become first class. If all become ananyäçcintayantaù,[5] it wouldn’t work.

“A tortoise was trying to fly, but it fell and was crushed. An eagle asked it not to, yet it still tried to fly.

“A tortoise had a deep longing to fly. It was friendly with an eagle that flies all the time. One day during their discussion when the tortoise insisted, the eagle said, ‘Well, you hold this piece of wood in your mouth and I’ll fly. If you hold on, I’ll carry you along.’ It flew for awhile, but the tortoise wanted to talk. As soon as it spoke, it fell and was crushed.”

M. (to Antevasi): “The right thing for you to do is to establish yourself at one place and stay there. Those who have to carry the burden of yogakñema[6] themselves can’t attain to the state of ananyäçcintayantaù.[7]

A certain sadhu (to himself): “I also want to establish myself at one place and stay there, either at Kashi or Puri. I wanted to ask Sri Mahapurusha or Master Mahashay. This is my answer.”

M. (thinking for awhile): “When I was in Kankhal, I used to go round different ashramas in the evening with Hari Maharaj.”[8]

It being Saturday today, many devotees have arrived on their return from office. The Rath yatra festival of Puri is to take place in a few days. M. has only been thinking of Puri for the last few days. He is insisting that the devotees attend the Rath festivity. He asks whoever comes to see him to go to Puri.

M. (to the devotees): “Thakur used to say, ‘I and Chaitanya Deva are one.’ He (Chaitanya Deva) was in Puri for almost twenty years. Thakur would force devotees to go there. He himself did not go, because if he remembered everything about his past incarnation as an avatara, his body would not last. Instead, he would send devotees there and receive reports from them.

“You people must go. See it once. It only lasts a few days – two or three days.

“He would ask them to have the darshan of Tota Gopinath, Siddabakul, Gambhira, Sakshi Gopal, Bhubaneswar, and, of course, Jagannath.

“I’ve been there more than five or six times. Once I lived in a Panda’s (a priest-guide) house for three weeks. It was a solitary place, nobody swept it. There was always the fear of snakes. I’d push the mosquito net inside the bedding. I don’t know why I was so nervous. The mahaprasad was bought and eaten, there was no problem in it. No effort was required.

“Thakur had said to me, ‘Take a lot of money with you.’ Ah, what a care he had for us! If one has no manpower, the power of money is enough. He also said, ‘Embrace Jagannath.’ He would repeat again and again, ‘Jagannath of Puri is the same as I.’

“He said to Narendra (Swami Vivekananda), ‘You’ve heard the name Gaur of Nadia. I am the same as he.’ Narendra was nineteen then. Narendra himself told us this. And he said, ‘Has this person gone mad? For him to say that I am the Gaur of Nadia!’ And then he said to me, ‘Don’t tell anybody this.’ (Smiling).

“The Gita also says the same. Bahüni me vyatétäni.[9] You do not know it, but I know.”

Lalit Roy of Bhatpara enters.

M. (to Lalit): “Here comes Lalit Babu. Please go. Go visit Puri once. There is the Rath Festival.”

Lalit: “There is no place I can stay.”

M.: “Why? You will live in Shashi Niketan. It is Balaram Babu’s house. One’s own effort matters. What is there in etiquette? (A gentle smile) If one says, ‘Please go,’ he would say, ‘I will not,’ and lie down. (Long laughter.)

“Thakur used to say, “There are two classes of men. One class is optimistic. They are be up and doing. They don’t care about any hurdles. The other class is pessimistic. Their year consists of eighteen months. They think too much – where they will stay, whether or not it will be comfortable. They dwell on all these kinds of things.”

A sadhu (to himself): “God has incarnated on earth as Sri Ramakrishna. M. is his apostle, endowed with a kala[10] of His power. Because of the touch of Sri Ramakrishna’s holy feet, his mind and body are purified. I will also be purified by touching the feet of M.”

It is already dusk. M. is going to the Tulsi grove. A sadhu touches his feet, lying prostrate on the ground in the darkness. M. sees him, but does not stop him today.

On the north side of the big roof is the Tulsi grove, forming a part of the flower garden. It has been made this way according to M.’s instructions. Sitting in the Tulsi grove facing north, M. meditates. Devotees surrounding him are absorbed in meditation.

Antevasi (to himself): “Sometimes Thakur used to meditate in a Tulsi grove. M. seems to be following his footsteps.”


After meditation, M. goes to the south side of the roof and sits on a mat facing north. Devotees are seated on a blanket in front of M. It is 8.30 p.m. They read middle part of the ‘Chaitanya Charitamrita,’ 11th Chapter, ‘Dance before the Rath’. First Himanshu reads, then Lalit of Bhatpara. M. listens, his hands folded and eyes shut.

Mahaprabhu divided the devotees into seven groups. He nominated a leader for each group. They walked in front of the Rath chanting the kirtan. Mahaprabhu Chaitanya was himself dancing in one group. He was lost in the joy of dance. Similarly, in another group, Nityananda is dancing. Advaita, Haridas, and Vakreshwar have all received Mahaprabhu’s command to dance. There are four groups in front of the Rath. Their leaders are Swaroop, Srivas, Mukund, and Govinda.

There are two groups on the two sides of the Rath. One group consists of devotees of Kulingram, and the group on the other side is composed of the companions of Advaita. Behind the Rath is another group. Fourteen tom-toms played by seven groups, and dance with loud devotional music goes on. Mahaprabhu perspires and his hair stands on end in delight, his eyes shedding tears and his body shaking. Because of such excess of emotion, he is not able to pronounce the name of Jagannath. He just mumbles it, or stammers “J…J…G…G…”

M.: “Please name the leaders of the seven groups.”

The reader: “Swaroop, Srivas, Mukund and Govinda – these are the leaders of groups in the front. The names of the leaders of the other three groups are not given.”

M. (smiling): “The Rath stops at many places. The priests say that it stops by the will of Jagannath and then starts also at His will. People today say, ‘Let’s put an engine to it to see how it moves at the will of Jagannath.’ The priests then fold their hands and say, ‘No, gentlemen, don’t do it. We shall not have then our dues.’  Isn’t the engine itself made by the will of Jagannath? He dwells in all embodied beings in the form of intellect – yä devé sarvabhüteñu buddhirüpeëa saàsthitä.[11]

The reading continues. Srinivas slaps Harichandan in the state of ecstasy, because he has been touching Srinivas’s body and pushing him away again and again with his hand. Being perturbed in the state of ecstasy, he slaps him. Harichandan and Raja Pratap Rudra stand there and watch Mahaprabhu’s dance. Srinivas stands in front of the Raja. So he pushed him away to let the Raja see. Harichandan is a minister of the state. Noticing that he was angry, ready to insult Srinivas, Raja Pratap Rudra stops him. He says, “You are lucky. You have had the touch of the hand of an apostle of Chaitanya. I have not been so fortunate.”

M.: “Pratap Rudra was a king. Sri Chaitanya hadn’t given him his darshan for many days, because adoring a king amounts to worshipping worldly wealth. But today the star of his luck has risen.”

As advised by Sarvabhauma, Kashimishra and others, the king, dressed in lowly clothes, sweeps the route ahead of the Rath with a broom, and sprinkles sandalwood water. As he does so, he chants the Gopi Gita from the Bhagavata:

tava kathämåtaà taptajévanaà

kavibhiréòitaà kalmañäpaham,

çravaëamaìgalaà çrémadätataà

bhuvi gåëanti ye bhüridä janäù.[12]

Hearing the verses, Mahaprabhu (Chaitanya Deva) goes to the king and embraces him like one intoxicated. This took place towards the end. Another time earlier, as soon as he had embraced the king in ecstasy and the latter was having his darshan, his ecstasy had broken. Cursing himself, Chaitanya Deva had said, “Fie on me. I have touched a worldly man.” It was when Mahaprabhu was about to fall in front of the Rath while he was staggering because of the unconsciousness of ecstasy. The Raja had supported him. Chaitanya Deva then reprimanded Nityananda, Kashishwar, Govinda and other devotees as to why they had not supported him. If they had held him, Raja couldn’t have done it.

Sarvabhauma reassured the king, saying, “You have now received his grace.”

M.: “It was to give the devotees a lesson that Chaitanya Deva had disparaged worldliness and used such harsh words. Unless one is humble, one cannot attain God. The Bible says the same: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’[13]

“And this also – ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”[14]

Lalit is about fifty-five. He finds it difficult to read without glasses, so Amrit brings glasses from somebody. M. stops him and says, “No, it diverts attention. Let there be no disturbance during the reading.”

It was in this thatched hut that Mahaprabhu was resting one day. Raja Pratap Rudra came in and served him by gently messaging his feet. Mahaprabhu used to sweep the Gundija Mandir before the Rath Yatra festival. He would then take prasad of cold rice[15] and rest there.

A certain sadhu: “These days, Ramdas Baba cleans it the same way and takes the prasad of cold rice in the thatched hut. I stayed with him once and cleaned the Gundija the same way.”

M. (full of delight, to the devotees): “Just see, he has cleaned Gundija and taken the Mahaprasad of cold rice in this thatched hut. You people should go and clean it at least once too.”

The reading continues. It is about the selfless love of the gopis for Krishna. At the departure of Krishna from Braja to Mathura, Sri Radha and other gopis suffer terribly the pangs of separation. They are half dead.

M.: “Oh, what intense love! They forgot the world. The gopis are almost dead because of separation from him. Because of this, Thakur used to extol the gopis so much. He used to say, ‘Even a drop of such ecstatic love is enough to create a commotion within.’

“So Sri Krishna sends Uddhava to Braja. He says, ‘Please go, please go Uddhava. Bring me a report of the gopis. They gave me their love when nobody knew me. I can never pay back their debt.’ That is also why Mahaprabhu used to call himself: Gopébhartuù padakamalayoù däsdäsänudäsaù.[16]

M. recites the complete verse of Chaitanya –

nāhaṃ vipro na ca narapatirnāpi vaiśyo na śūdro

nāhaṃ varṇī na ca gṛhapatirno vanastho yatirvā,

kintu prodyannikhilaparamānandapūrṇā mṛtābdher

gopībhartuḥ padakamalayordāsadāsānudāsaḥ.[17]

M.: “Sri Chaitanya is totally merged in Sri Radha’s ecstatic love. During his last twelve years, he was continuously merged in this very Mahabhava at Gambhira.[18] The touch of these ecstasies is still there in Puri. Please go, do go. Visit it once.”

It is about 9 p.m. The sadhus and devotees offer their salutations to M. and take their leave.


Belur Math

Saturday, 21 June 1930.



[1]. …and his karmas are exhausted – Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.8.

[2]. Swami Brahmananda.

[3]. Your nature will compel you. – Bhagavad Gita 18:59.

[4]. The Omnipresent does not take note of anybody’s sin. – Bhagavad Gita 5:15.

[5]. Thinking of nothing but God. – Bhagavad Gita 9:22.

[6]. The supply of what is not already possessed, and the preservation of what is already possessed. – ibid.

[7]. Ibid.

[8]. Swami Turiyananda.

[9]. Many are the births taken by Me. – Bhagavad Gita 4:5.

[10]. One sixteenth of God’s Power.

[11]. … the Devi who abides in all beings in the form of intelligence. – Chandi 5:20.

[12]. The nectar of Your words is life for the ones scorched by sorrow and pain. It is praised by the sages. It destroys sins. Hearing it is auspicious. It is spread by the fortunate. Those who narrate it are the munificent ones. – Srimad  Bhagavata X:31:9

[13]. Mathew 5:3.

[14]. Mathew 19:3.

[15]. Pakal, panta prasad.

[16]. The slave of the slaves of the slaves of the lotus feet of the Beloved Lord of the Gopis.

[17]. Neither am I a brahmin, nor a king, nor a trader, nor the serving class. I have no varna (the four classes of the society), not even the head of a family, nor a recluse, or a monk. But I am aspirant for the whole of Supreme Bliss, of the absolute nectar of immortality. I am the slave of the slave of the slaves of the lotus feet of the Beloved Lord of the gopis. Sri Padyavali: 74 by Rupa Goswami.

[18]. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed in Radha Kanta Math in very small room called Gambhira.