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Mahaprabhu Enters Sri Puri Dham

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
5 April 2013, Sri Puri Dham


I am not sure if Western devotees can go there, but Atharnala is not so far from here. It is the place where Mahaprabhu became very angry with Nityananda Prabhu ("Hey! Where is My danda?!" He shouted, and Nityananda Prabhu made up some excuse).

Athar means eighteen. There are eighteen holes in the bridge—king Indradyumna had eighteen sons and he killed them all one by one: "I made this temple and my all sons will fight over it in the future, it will be a problem, but this temple is for devotees," thinking in this way, the king decided to kill his eighteen sons, and this is how the place got its name, Atharnala.

Atharnala is actually the place through which Mahaprabhu first entered Puri after He took sannyas.

Mahaprabhu took sannyas in Katwa and then went to Santipur. His Mother, Sachi Mata, came there too and asked Advaita Prabhu, "Can I cook for Him?" Advaita Acharya asked Mahaprabhu, and Mahaprabhu agreed. There, ten-twelve days after Mahaprabhu took sannyas, Sachi Mata cooked for Him. Mahaprabhu then got permission from His mother to stay in Puri, so He left Santipur with Nityananda Prabhu and a few other devotees and started walking there.

On His way to Puri, Mahaprabhu visited many places of Gauda mandal, such as Midnapore, Baleswar, Bhuvaneswar (Bindhu Madhav, Sivji Maharaj), Ksirchor Gopinath, Saksi Gopal, and finally Atharnala. For the devotees, Krishna can do anything—Krishna gave witness as Saksi Gopal, He stole ksir for His devotee, Madhavendra Puri, as Ksirchor Gopinath, etc. You can read about it all in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita.

At Atharnala, Mahaprabhu sat there and realised His danda was missing. He asked Nityananda Prabhu, "Where is My danda?" Nityananda Prabhu explained, "When You were chanting and dancing You fell down and Your danda also fell down and broke. I threw it into the Bhargi River [the river over which the Atharnala bridge is built]."

Once I asked Gurudev why Nityananda Prabhu broke Mahaprabhu's danda, and Gurudev said there were two reasons. First, Mahaprabhu is the Lord Himself. It is not necessary for Him to take sannyas, so why should He carry the danda? Nityananda Prabhu could not tolerate it: "You are the Lord Himself, I know that, why are You pretending, acting as a devotee? I should be carrying the danda, not You." So, He broke it. The second reason is that Nityananda Prabhu is actually nondifferent from Baladev, Balaram—Nityananda Prabhu always serves Mahaprabhu just as Balaram always serves Krishna with ten items—as His pillow (বালিস, balis), shoes (পাদুকা, paduka), the peacock fan (ময়ূর পাখা, mayur pakha), the bed (শয়ন, sayana), the carrier (আবাহন, avahana), the house (গৃহ, grha), the umbrella (ছত্র, chhatra), the garments (বস্ত্র, vastra), the ornaments (ভূষণ, bhusana), the sitting place (আসন, asana). These items—everything that is used for the service to the Lord, including the danda, are Nityananda Prabhu Himself; that is why Nityananda Prabhu thought, "Why will He carry Me? I should carry Mahaprabhu!" And He broke the danda.

Mahaprabhu understood what had happened and became angry, "When I took sannyas, I did not bring anything with Me, only one stick, that danda, but You broke that. I will not go with You, either I go first or you all go first and I go behind. Tell me what you want to do." Nityananda Prabhu, Mukunda and the few other devotees thought and decided, "Prabhu, You go first and we will follow." Engrossed in the thoughts about Lord Jagannath, Mahaprabhu began to run. He was actually walking, but walking so fast that the devotees had to run to follow Him.

Finally, He reached the Jagannath temple and ran inside. All the parisha, pandas, tried to stop Him, but Mahaprabhu was like a hati mata (হাতী মাতা), a mad elephant. He ran inside and fell on the floor. Everybody was going to beat Him but His body became transformed and He did not look like a human—His joints separated, foam came out of His mouth and He kept saying, "Ja-ja ga-ga, ja-ja ga-ga." He could not say "Jagannath", all He could say was "Ja-ja ga-ga, ja-ja ga-ga." All pandas were astonished.

Then Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya came—he was the manager of the Jagannath temple at that time and, therefore, of all pandas—and said to all the devotees, "All right, do not touch Him, it does not matter who He is. Take Him to my house." The pandas picked Mahaprabhu's body and took it to Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya's house.


The Atharnala bridge


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