Swept Away

[Hari-katha inspired by the Guru-varga]

Mahaprabhu would say, “Look, the king is an enjoyer, and because he takes taxes from his subjects, taking food on money from him will pollute the mind, making it impossible to think of Krsna.

visayira anna khaile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe krsnera smarana
Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 6.278


“By eating food from materialistic men, one’s mind becomes contaminated. When the mind is contaminated, one is unable to think of Krsna.

“To take money from the king is the same as taking poison. Because he taxes the people he collects their sins. Therefore one should not take money from the government or the king.”

At the time of Ratha-yatra, Mahaprabhu saw that the king himself, Prataparudra Maharaja, was sweeping before the Ratha-yatra cart. Nowadays, the king does not actually sweep the roadways, he only sweeps on the cart a little bit in front of Jagannatha to show people and to continue the custom.

Before the king would take a broom and sweep along the road all the way from Nilacala Matha to Sundaracala, or Gundica Mandira.

There also used to be a river dividing the road from Nilacala to Sundaracala, or from Sri Mandira to Gundica, and there were three rathas on one side of the river and three rathas on the other side. So there were a total of six rathas made when there was a river between these two temples.

The king would sweep from Sri Mandira to the river and then his queens and princesses would sweep from the other side of the river up until the Gundica Temple.

In Orissa, they do not call a broom “jhadu”, because it is very close to a crude word in Oriya. One time an person from Orissa came to stay in Sri Kesavji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura and asked us, “What should I do?” Kunja-bihari Prabhu, the manager of the temple, asked him, “Can you clean the temple?” and he said, “Yes, I can clean.”

He then asked what specific seva to do, so I told him to take a jhadu (broom) and sweep the temple from the first floor to the third floor. The next day, Kunja-bihari Prabhu asked him whether or not he cleaned the temple. He said, “O Maharaja! I have become very weak. I do not have any strength left. From early in the morning I have been doing jhada. I could not sweep.” He spoke in Oriya, a language our quick-tempered Kunja-bihari Prabhu had not learned. When the devotee was saying “jhada” which means “stool,” Kunja-bihari Prabhu thought he was saying “jhadu” which means “broom”.

“What? All day you have been doing jhadu-jhadu-jhadu, but you have no time to clean? What kind of nonsense are you talking about? Why is the temple still dirty?”

“I had no strength!” the poor Oriya devotee tried to explain. “I have been doing nothing but jhada since morning.”

The Oriya devotee had been suffering from diarrhea since morning and was saying that he had no strength because he was on the toilet the whole day. He tried to speak in Hindi but could not do so without mixing Oriya. He said, “Mu Sat bar jhada kiya (I had to use the toilet seven times in a row!)” But to us this sounded like he was saying that he swept the temple seven times, and we wondered why despite this the temple was still dirty.

Anyhow, the king was sweeping in front of Jagannatha’s cart, and Mahaprabhu was very pleased with him and told the bhaktas, “Just look, he is cleaning his own heart by sweeping in front of the cart.”

This is a message to do ceto-darpana-marjanam, cleansing of the heart.

The most effective way to clean the heat is to glorify the Vaisnavas. Vaisnavera guna-gana karile jivera trana—glorifying Guru and Vaisnavas cleanses the heart and makes one’s life successful. But how will the bhava-maha-davagni, the fire of material existence, be put out? To extinguish that fire, one must do dhama-seva and service to the dhama-vasis.

But then, how will sreya-kairava-candrika come?

bhakta-pada-dhuli ara bhakta-pada-jala
bhakta-bhukta-avasesa—tina maha-bala
Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 16.60


The dust of the feet of a devotee, the water that has washed the feet of a devotee, and the remnants of food left by a devotee are three very powerful substances. (Translation from Vedabase.com)

Krsna Himself, at the time of Yuddhistira Maharaja’s rajasuya-yajna, took up the duty of personally bathing the feet of all the guests, and took their caranamrta.

These days we find brahmacaris fighting over very trivial matters. “He spoke harshly to me! He abused me! I will never look at his face again.” But what did Krsna do to those who were against him? Krsna bathed the feet of Sisupala, who was always abusing and offending Him. He also bathed the feet of Duryodhana, who had tried to imprison Him, as well as Dantavakra and so many other demons. Krsna bathed all of their feet. He showed the importance of being humble and also the benefit of taking the foot dust of the Vaisnavas.

Sreya-kairava-candrika. When we take foot dust of Vaisnavas, we are awarded with all goodness. Sreya means all auspiciousness. We do not receive only a small amount of gain, rather we obtain nitya-kalyana, eternal benefit. Then what happens?

Vidya-vadhu-jivanam. If we take the caranamrta, or foot bath water, of Vaisnavas, we will become connected to the nitya-seva of Vraja-dhama. We will be endowed with sadhu-vrtti, saintly tendencies, and sat-guna, good qualities. All these benedictions will come without even asking for them, but we must honor this caranamrta with faith in order for these results to manifest.

What happens when we take the food remnants left by Vaisnavas? Anandam-buddhi-vardhanam prati-padam-purnamrtasvadam and sarvatma-snapanam. By those remnants one becomes completely blissful and cleansed within and without. The mind and intelligence become fixed on the lotus feet of Krsna.

Then param-vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam—Then this krsna-nama becomes manifest within our hearts and becomes victorious over us and our anarthas. Krsna-nama is always victorious.

Unfortunately, however, we are imprisoned by our anarthas and will not let nama enter into our heart.

When Mahaprabhu composed this verse, all the bhaktas heard it and began to study it and learn about Mahaprabhu’s glories.

During the time of Ratha-yatra, Mahaprabhu would clean Gundica with all the bhaktas, and the king would sweep the road for many kilometers, sprinkle the ground with fragrant water mixed with various scented oils, and then throw flower petals on the road before the carts.

In his youth, the father of Prataparudra Maharaja, Purusottama Jana, was sweeping in front of Jagannatha’s cart.

One time while he was sweeping, the king of Vidyanagara came. He had previously arranged to marry his daughter to this King Purusottama Jana, who was the king of Orissa. But when he came to meet Purusottama Jana at the time of Ratha-yatra, and saw that he was sweeping in front of the cart, he immediately went back to Vidyanagara.

When King Purusottama Jana contacted the king of Vidyanagara to see what had happened, he said, “How can I marry my daughter, to you? She is dearest to my heart, but I see that you are just an ordinary sweeper. I thought you were a great noble king, but now I see that you are very low class.”

Purusottama Jana became very upset with this response. “I was doing this activity as seva for Jagannatha, so do you realize that you are criticizing Jagannatha by saying that I am a low class sweeper? This is the highest position. Serving Jagannatha in a lowly position is a highest position for a jiva.”

He was quite upset and went to attack Vidyanagara with his army, but the king of Vidyanagara had a siddha Ganesa murti who he worshiped. He also had a Saksi Gopala Deity who he had taken from Vrndavana.

On behalf of the king of Vidyanagara, Ganesa attacked and defeated Purusottama Jana and his army. He bound them and then released them, with the threat of death if they were to attack again.

Purusottama Jana returned to Orissa and went before Jagannatha and started a hunger strike. He said, “I only went in order to preserve your glory, Jagannatha. But my army and I were defeated by Ganesa and ordinary demigods who are all far beneath you.” He fasted for three days and then Jagannatha came and gave him darsana. Jagannatha told him, “Now go again, I will come with you this time. Before you went independently and did not ask Me first, so that is why you were unsuccessful.”

When the king was ready to go again, Jagannatha said, “I will go ahead of you with My brother Baldao, Baladeva.” So Purusottama Jana began his march to Vidyanagara and traveled alongside the bank of the ocean. When he came to the jungle area, there was an old lady standing there. She addressed the king, “Oh Maharaja! Please give me six anas (less than half a rupee) and then you can pass.”

The king thought, “Why is this old lady asking for six anas? She continued to demand, “I will not let you pass unless you give me six anas.” She was blocking the road and they could not get her to move aside. The king said, “Mother, what is the problem?” She said, “Just give me six anas,” to which he said, “ I don’t have such a small amount with me right now, but I can give you so much more. Take anything else you want.” But she was very firm in her conviction and wanted only six anas.

“This old lady is so strong! She is not afraid of our cavalry, the soldiers, my workers, or anyone,” thought the king. She repeated, “First you give me six anas and then you can go.” He asked, “Why do you want six anas from me?” She said, “Two of your soldiers went ahead and they were thirsty, so they drank my buttermilk. They also gave me these two rings,” She showed the rings to the king and said, “They told me you would give me my six anas because they did not have it with them at the time. They were two very beautiful boys, one was on a black horse and the other was on a white horse. They were extremely beautiful and they were sweating. I was about to go to sell my buttermilk in the morning, and they came upon me and asked me if I had any water. I didn’t, but I had my buttermilk. So they drank my buttermilk and now they owe me six anas, which they said you would pay.”

The old lady continued, “I have cows to take care of and I have to buy them food. So if you are not going to give me that money, I will not be able to take care of them. I don’t need these expensive rings that someone might steal off of me. So, please give me what I ask for. I work for other people and somehow maintain my life by selling this buttermilk.”

She then handed the king the two rings, and the king was able to have a closer look. He became astonished and said, “These were the rings given by my mother to Jagannatha and Baladeva! When she gave them the rings, I had a doubt whether they would really wear them because Jagannatha and Baladeva do not have any arms or hands.” The queen also doubted whether or not Jagannatha and Baladeva had accepted her gift, so they arranged this pastime to remove this doubt of the king and his mother.

Purusottama Jana happily exclaimed, “All glories to your pastimes!” But the old lady was still demanding, “Please first give me the six anas, and then you can pass.” He said, “I will give you many villages, but I cannot give you six anas.” She said, “Do not tempt me, I do not want all this. Just give me what I am asking for.”

Kings are born from the limbs of Bhagavan. Therefore, a real king is like a father to the people and it is his duty to follow all proper etiquette and to be righteous.

To fulfill the request of the old lady, the king sent a messenger to Puri to have some of his servants come to give the old lady her six anas. In addition, he told her that she would become the proprietor of many villages of that area. He also told her, “You know, those two boys, the soldiers you saw, are also like your sons.” “Yes,” she said, “Tell those two soldiers that when they come back, they should come to me and take buttermilk again. I will also give them some butter.”

So much affection had arisen for them in her heart because those two soldiers were none other than Jagannatha and Baladeva.

Then the old lady became astonished, because when Jagannatha and Baladeva drank her buttermilk, they had drunk from clay pots which had become empty. But when she went back and looked inside the pots, she found them to be full again with buttermilk. She gave this buttermilk to the king and the soldiers and no matter how much she gave and they drank, it was never finished. It became an aksaya-patra due to the mercy of Jagannatha and Baladeva.

The old lady then understood that those two soldiers who passed by on their black and white horses were actually Jagannatha and Baladeva themselves. She said, “When they come back, I will give them some buttermilk and yogurt.”

Then day and night she began to think about them and wait for them, just like the lady from the following story in the Srimad-bhagavatam.

Once a fruit-seller lady came to Vraja to sell fruits. She became very eager to see Krsna and to have Him sit on her lap and call her “mother”. When she went to Vraja, everyone would ask her as they bought fruits from her, “Where are you going?” And she replied, “To Nanda-bhavan.” One time she went to Nanda-bhavan in the middle of the night and sat there until the early morning, chanting “Govinda-lo, Damodara-lo, Gopala-lo.”

At the time of brahma-muhurta, Gopala came out and opened the gate. He stood before the fruit-seller lady and she asked Him, “Would You call me mother just once? Then I will give you some fruits.” Krsna looked around to see if anyone was watching, and seeing that the coast was clear, quickly sat on her lap, said, “Maiya”, and jumped back up. He said, “Okay, now give Me some fruit.” But He was very small, so how much fruit could He actually hold? He rushed back inside Nanda-bhavan and brought out some grains. Most of them fell through His fingers, but whatever had stuck to His fingers He gave to the fruit-seller lady and took some fruit in exchange.

The fruit-seller lady left and found that the basket was now full of jewels. Uninterested, she threw all of the jewels into the Yamuna, because the only jewel in her life was the treasure of her love for Krsna.

Similarly, the old lady in the jungle in Puri had her heart stolen by Jagannatha and Baladeva. When she had their darsana and gave them some buttermilk, pure love for them had developed in her heart and she was always thinking about them.

[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]

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