All the members of the party were introduced by Gadādhara Paṇḍita to Gopīnātha Ācārya, who took them all to the house of Bhaṭṭācārya where the Lord was lying unconscious in a spiritual trance. All the members then chanted loudly the holy name of the Lord Hari as usual, and the Lord regained His consciousness. After this, Bhaṭṭācārya received all the members of the party, including Lord Nityānanda Prabhu, and asked them to become his guests of honor. The party, including the Lord, went for a bath in the sea, and the Bhaṭṭācārya arranged for their residence and meals at the house of Kāśī Miśra. Gopīnātha Ācārya, his brother-in-law, also assisted. There were some friendly talks about the Lord's divinity between the two brothers-in-law, and in this argument Gopīnātha Ācārya, who knew the Lord before, now tried to establish the Lord as the Personality of Godhead, and the Bhaṭṭācārya tried to establish Him as one of the great devotees. Both of them argued from the angle of vision of authentic śāstras and not on the strength of sentimental vox populi. The incarnations of God are determined by authentic śāstras and not by popular votes of foolish fanatics. Because Lord Caitanya was an incarnation of God in fact, foolish fanatics have proclaimed so many so-called incarnations of God in this age without referring to authentic scriptures. But Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya or Gopīnātha Ācārya did not indulge in such foolish sentimentalism; on the contrary, both of them tried to establish or reject His divinity on the strength of authentic śāstras.
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Varanasi - Benares (BG & SB)
King Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of Kuntī, blew his conchshell, the Ananta-vijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughoṣa and Maṇipuṣpaka. That great archer the King of Kāśī, the great fighter Śikhaṇḍī, Dhṛṣṭadyumna, Virāṭa, the unconquerable Sātyaki, Drupada, the sons of Draupadī, and the others, O King, such as the mighty-armed son of Subhadrā, all blew their respective conchshells.
Sañjaya informed King Dhṛtarāṣṭra very tactfully that his unwise policy of deceiving the sons of Pāṇḍu and endeavoring to enthrone his own sons on the seat of the kingdom was not very laudable. The signs already clearly indicated that the whole Kuru dynasty would be killed in that great battle. Beginning with the grandsire, Bhīṣma, down to the grandsons like Abhimanyu and others—including kings from many states of the world—all were present there, and all were doomed. The whole catastrophe was due to King Dhṛtarāṣṭra, because he encouraged the policy followed by his sons.
When Lord Caitanya was in Benares promulgating the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, thousands of people were following Him. Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, a very influential and learned scholar in Benares at that time, derided Lord Caitanya for being a sentimentalist. Sometimes Māyāvādī philosophers criticize the devotees because they think that most of the devotees are in the darkness of ignorance and are philosophically naive sentimentalists. Actually that is not the fact. There are very, very learned scholars who have put forward the philosophy of devotion. But even if a devotee does not take advantage of their literatures or of his spiritual master, if he is sincere in his devotional service he is helped by Kṛṣṇa Himself within his heart. So the sincere devotee engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be without knowledge. The only qualification is that one carry out devotional service in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
On His way back from Vṛndāvana He first came to Prayāga, where He met Rūpa Gosvāmī along with his younger brother, Anupama. Then He came down to Vārāṇasī (Benares), where he became the guest of Śrī Tapana Miśra and Candraśekhara, assisted by a Mahārāṣṭra brāhmaṇa. At that time Vārāṇasī was headed by a great sannyāsī of the Māyāvāda school named Śrīpāda Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī. When the Lord was at Vārāṇasī, the people in general became more attracted to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu on account of His mass saṅkīrtana movement. Wherever He visited, especially the Viśvanātha temple, thousands of pilgrims would follow Him. Some were attracted by His bodily features, and others were attracted by His melodious songs glorifying the Lord.
The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs designate themselves as Nārāyaṇa. Vārāṇasī is still overflooded with many Māyāvādī sannyāsīs. Some people who saw the Lord in His saṅkīrtana party considered Him to be actually Nārāyaṇa, and this report reached the camp of the great sannyāsī Prakāśānanda.
The Lord thus spoke to the sannyāsī almost in the same way that He spoke to the Bhaṭṭācārya of Purī, and by forceful arguments He nullified the Māyāvāda interpretations of the Vedānta-sūtra. All the sannyāsīs there claimed that the Lord was the personified Vedas and the Personality of Godhead. All the sannyāsīs were converted to the cult of bhakti, all of them accepted the holy name of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and they dined together with the Lord in the midst of them. After this conversion of the sannyāsīs, the popularity of the Lord increased at Vārāṇasī, and thousands of people assembled to see the Lord in person. The Lord thus established the primary importance of Śrīmad-Bhāgavata-dharma, and He defeated all other systems of spiritual realization. After that everyone at Vārāṇasī was overwhelmed with the transcendental saṅkīrtana movement.
While the Lord was camping at Vārāṇasī, Sanātana Gosvāmī also arrived after retiring from office. Formerly known as Sākara Mallika, he had been one of the state ministers in the government of Bengal, then under the regime of Nawab Hussain Shah. He had had some difficulty in getting relief from the state service, for the Nawab was reluctant to let him leave. Nonetheless he came to Vārāṇasī, and for two months the Lord taught him the principles of devotional service. He taught him about the constitutional position of the living being, the cause of his bondage under material conditions, his eternal relation with the Personality of Godhead, the transcendental position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His expansions in different plenary portions of incarnations, His control of different parts of the universe, the nature of His transcendental abode, devotional activities, their different stages of development, the rules and regulations for achieving the gradual stages of spiritual perfection, the symptoms of different incarnations in different ages, and how to detect them with reference to the context of revealed scriptures.
Thus He instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī in devotional science and deputed him to Vṛndāvana to excavate the lost sites of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. After this, the Lord returned to Vārāṇasī and delivered the sannyāsīs and instructed the elder brother of Rūpa Gosvāmī. We have already discussed this.
The Lord left only eight ślokas of His instructions in writing, and they are known as the Śikṣāṣṭaka. All other literatures of His divine cult were extensively written by the Lord's principal followers, the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, and their followers. The cult of Caitanya philosophy is richer than any other, and it is admitted to be the living religion of the day with the potency for spreading as viśva-dharma, or universal religion. We are glad that the matter has been taken up by some enthusiastic sages like Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja and his disciples. We shall eagerly wait for the happy days of Bhāgavata-dharma, or prema-dharma, inaugurated by the Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
According to the reading matter, either kaḥ or arkaḥ, there are two references in the Purāṇas. Kaḥ means Brahmā, who once became allured by his daughter and began to follow her, which infuriated Śiva, who attacked Brahmā with his trident. Brahmājī fled in fear of his life. As far as arkaḥ is concerned, there is a reference in the Vāmana Purāṇa. There was a demon by the name Vidyunmālī who was gifted with a glowing golden airplane which traveled to the back of the sun, and night disappeared because of the glowing effulgence of this plane. Thus the sun-god became angry, and with his virulent rays he melted the plane. This enraged Lord Śiva. Lord Śiva then attacked the sun-god, who fled away and at last fell down at Kāśī (Vārāṇasī), and the place became famous as Lolārka.
Jarāsandha was a very powerful king of Magadha, and the history of his birth and activities is also very interesting. His father, King Bṛhadratha, was also a very prosperous and powerful king of Magadha, but he had no son, although he married two daughters of the King of Kāśī. Being disappointed in not getting a son from either of the two queens, the King, along with his wives, left home to live in the forest for austerities, but in the forest he was blessed by one great ṛṣi to have a son, and he gave him one mango to be eaten by the queens. The queens did so and were very soon pregnant. The King was very happy to see the queens bearing children, but when the ripe time approached, the queens delivered one child in two parts, one from each of the queens' wombs. The two parts were thrown in the forest, where a great she-demon used to live, and she was glad to have some delicate flesh and blood from the newly born child.
Śrīdhara Svāmī explains this in his notes: "During the annihilation of the creation, who serves the Lord lying on the Śeṣa, etc." This means that the transcendental Lord with all His name, fame, quality and paraphernalia exists eternally. The same confirmation is also in the Kāśī-khaṇḍa of the Skanda Purāṇa in connection with dhruva-carita. It is said there:
- na cyavante 'pi yad-bhaktā
- mahatyāṁ pralayāpadi
- ato 'cyuto 'khile loke
- sa ekaḥ sarvago 'vyayaḥ
Even the devotees of the Personality of Godhead are not annihilated during the period of the entire annihilation of the material world, not to speak of the Lord Himself. The Lord is ever-existent in all three stages of material change.
After the dissolution of the material manifestations, the Lord and His kingdom beyond the Causal Ocean do not disappear, nor do the inhabitants, the Lord's associates. The associates of the Lord are far more numerous than the living entities who have forgotten the Lord due to material association. The impersonalist's explanation of the word aham in the four verses of the original Bhāgavatam—aham evāsam evāgre etc.—is refuted here. The Lord and His eternal associates remain after the dissolution. Vidura's inquiry about such persons is a clear indication of the existence of all the paraphernalia of the Lord. This is also confirmed in the Kāśī-khaṇḍa, as quoted by both Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī, who follow in the footsteps of Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī.
- na cyavante hi yad-bhaktā
- mahatyāṁ pralayāpadi
- ato 'cyuto 'khile loke
- sa ekaḥ sarva-go 'vyayaḥ
"The devotees of the Lord never annihilate their individual existences even after the dissolution of the entire cosmic manifestation. The Lord and the devotees who associate with Him are always eternal, in both the material and spiritual worlds."
The sacred lakes like Puṣkara and places where saintly persons live, like Kurukṣetra, Gayā, Prayāga, Pulahāśrama, Naimiṣāraṇya, the banks of the Phālgu River, Setubandha, Prabhāsa, Dvārakā, Vārāṇasī, Mathurā, Pampā, Bindu-sarovara, Badarikāśrama (Nārāyaṇāśrama), the places where the Nandā River flows, the places where Lord Rāmacandra and mother Sītā took shelter, such as Citrakūṭa, and also the hilly tracts of land known as Mahendra and Malaya—all of these are to be considered most pious and sacred. Similarly, places outside India where there are centers of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and where Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Deities are worshiped must all be visited and worshiped by those who want to be spiritually advanced. One who intends to advance in spiritual life may visit all these places and perform ritualistic ceremonies to get results a thousand times better than the results of the same activities performed in any other place.
Āyu, the son of Purūravā, had five sons- Nahuṣa, Kṣatravṛddha, Rajī, Rābha and Anenā. The son of Kṣatravṛddha was Suhotra, who had three sons, named Kāśya, Kuśa and Gṛtsamada. The son of Gṛtsamada was Śunaka, and his son was Śaunaka. The son of Kāśya was Kāśi. From Kāśi came the sons and grandsons known as Rāṣṭra, Dīrghatama and then Dhanvantari, who was the inaugurator of medical science and was a śaktyāveśa incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva. The descendants of Dhanvantari were Ketumān, Bhīmaratha, Divodāsa and Dyumān, who was also known as Pratardana, Śatrujit, Vatsa, Ṛtadhvaja and Kuvalayāśva. The son of Dyumān was Alarka, who reigned over the kingdom for many, many years. Following in the dynasty of Alarka were Santati, Sunītha, Niketana, Dharmaketu, Satyaketu, Dhṛṣṭaketu, Sukumāra, Vītihotra, Bharga and Bhārgabhūmi. All of them belonged to the dynasty of Kāśi, the descendant of Kṣatravṛddha.
The son of Kāśya was Kāśi, and his son was Rāṣṭra, the father of Dīrghatama. Dīrghatama had a son named Dhanvantari, who was the inaugurator of the medical science and an incarnation of Lord Vāsudeva, the enjoyer of the results of sacrifices. One who remembers the name of Dhanvantari can be released from all disease.
O Mahārāja Parīkṣit, all of these kings were descendants of Kāśi, and they could also be called descendants of Kṣatravṛddha. The son of Rābha was Rabhasa, from Rabhasa came Gambhīra, and from Gambhīra came a son named Akriya.
The names by which Māyādevī is known in different places have been listed by Vallabhācārya as follows. In Vārāṇasī she is known as Durgā, in Avantī she is known as Bhadrakālī, in Orissa she is known as Vijayā, and in Kulahāpura she is known as Vaiṣṇavī or Mahālakṣmī. (The representatives of Mahālakṣmī and Ambikā are present in Bombay.) In the country known as Kāmarūpa she is known as Caṇḍikā, in Northern India as Śāradā, and in Cape Comorin as Kanyakā. Thus she is distributed according to various names in various places.
After speaking to Kaṁsa in this way, the goddess Durgā, Yogamāyā, appeared in different places, such as Vārāṇasī, and became celebrated by different names, such as Annapūrṇā, Durgā, Kālī and Bhadrā.
The goddess Durgā is celebrated in Calcutta as Kālī, in Bombay as Mumbādevī, in Vārāṇasī as Annapūrṇā, in Cuttack as Bhadrakālī and in Ahmedabad as Bhadrā. Thus in different places she is known by different names. Her devotees are known as śāktas, or worshipers of the energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas worshipers of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself are called Vaiṣṇavas. Vaiṣṇavas are destined to return home, back to Godhead, in the spiritual world, whereas the śāktas are destined to live within this material world to enjoy different types of material happiness. In the material world, the living entity must accept different types of bodies. Bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā (BG 18.61).
In just two days, O almighty Lord, I will see the deaths of Cāṇūra, Muṣṭika and other wrestlers, along with those of the elephant Kuvalayāpīḍa and King Kaṁsa—all by Your hand. Then I will see You kill Kālayavana, Mura, Naraka and the conch demon, and I will also see You steal the pārijāta flower and defeat Indra. I will then see You marry many daughters of heroic kings after paying for them with Your valor. Then, O Lord of the universe, in Dvārakā You will deliver King Nṛga from a curse and take for Yourself the Syamantaka jewel, together with another wife. You will bring back a brāhmaṇa's dead son from the abode of Your servant Yamarāja, and thereafter You will kill Pauṇḍraka, burn down the city of Kāśī and annihilate Dantavakra and the King of Cedi during the great Rājasūya sacrifice. I shall see all these heroic pastimes, along with many others You will perform during Your residence in Dvārakā. These pastimes are glorified on this earth in the songs of transcendental poets.
Concealing Their innately perfect knowledge by Their humanlike activities, those two omniscient Lords of the universe, Themselves the origin of all branches of knowledge, next desired to reside at the school of a spiritual master. Thus They approached Sāndīpani Muni, a native of Kāsī living in the city of Avantī.
(The elders said:) Previously, when Lord Indra had withheld rain from Kāsī (Benares), the king of that city gave his daughter Gāndinī to Śvaphalka, who was then visiting him. It soon rained in the kingdom of Kāśī.
When the Lord had thus spoken, the messenger conveyed His insulting reply to his master in its entirety. Lord Kṛṣṇa then mounted His chariot and went to the vicinity of Kāśī.
Pauṇḍraka's friend, the King of Kāśī, followed behind, O King, leading the rear guard with three akṣauhiṇī divisions. Lord Kṛṣṇa saw that Pauṇḍraka was carrying the Lord's own insignia, such as the conchshell, disc, sword and club, and also an imitation Śārṅga bow and Śrīvatsa mark. He wore a mock Kaustubha gem, was decorated with a garland of forest flowers and was dressed in upper and lower garments of fine yellow silk. His banner bore the image of Garuḍa, and he wore a valuable crown and gleaming, shark-shaped earrings.
With His arrows, Lord Kṛṣṇa similarly severed Kāśirāja's head from his body, sending it flying into Kāśī city like a lotus flower thrown by the wind.
My dear King, when they recognized it as the head of their King—the lord of Kāśi—his queens, sons and other relatives, along with all the citizens of the city, began to cry pitifully: "Alas, we are killed! O my lord, my lord!"
Frustrated by the power of Lord Kṛṣṇa's weapon, O King, the fiery creature produced by black magic turned his face away and retreated. Created for violence, the demon then returned to Vārāṇasī, where he surrounded the city and then burned Sudakṣiṇa and his priests to death, even though Sudakṣiṇa was his creator.
Lord Viṣṇu's disc also entered Vārāṇasī, in pursuit of the fiery demon, and proceeded to burn the city to the ground, including all its assembly halls and residential palaces with raised porches, its numerous marketplaces, gateways, watchtowers, warehouses and treasuries, and all the buildings housing elephants, horses, chariots and grains.
After burning down the entire city of Vārāṇasī, Lord Viṣṇu's Sudarśana cakra returned to the side of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose actions are effortless.
With opulent gifts he honored his relatives, including all their wives and children; the royalty of the Vidarbha, Kosala, Kuru, Kāśī, Kekaya and Sṛñjaya kingdoms; the officiating members of the assembly; and also the priests, witnessing demigods, humans, spirits, forefathers and Cāraṇas. Then, taking permission from Lord Kṛṣṇa, the shelter of the goddess of fortune, the various guests departed as they all chanted the glories of Vasudeva's sacrifice.
There are descriptions of the powers and the deaths of the King of Cedi, Pauṇḍraka, Śālva, the foolish Dantavakra, Śambara, Dvivida, Pīṭha, Mura, Pañcajana and other demons, along with a description of how Vārāṇasī was burned to the ground. The Bhāgavatam also recounts how Lord Kṛṣṇa relieved the earth's burden by engaging the Pāṇḍavas in the Battle of Kurukṣetra.
O brāhmaṇas, in the same way that the city of Kāśī is unexcelled among holy places, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is supreme among all the Purāṇas.