The Danda-mahotsava

by Bhakti Vichar Vishnu Maharaja

When Srila Raghunath Das Goswami was at home, he was devising a plan for how he would be delivered from his material entanglements, he heard that Sri Nityananda Prabhu had made an auspicious appearance in the town of Panihati. Thinking that Sri Nityananda was the deliverer of the most fallen and that by His mercy he would surely be able to find his freedom, he went across the Ganges to Panihati where he found the Lord sitting under a tree on a wooden seat, surrounded by his associates.

As soon as Srila Raghunath saw Him from a distance, he fell down like a rod. The merciful Lord Nityananda immediately had him brought close to Him and, understanding the deep-rooted desires of Raghunath’s heart, arranged for him to perform a service to the Vaishnavas so that he could realize them.

“Like a thief, you don’t come near me, but simply try to run away. Now that I have caught you, I shall punish you. I want you to feed all my followers chipped rice and yogurt.”

When he heard Sri Nityananda’s command, Raghunath’s mind was filled with joy. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.6.50-1)

The festival which Lord Nityananda ordered Srila Raghunath to put on is still celebrated as the Panihati Ciriadadhi Mahotsava.

Sri Nityananda Prabhu and a manifestation of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself celebrated the festival, eating on the banks of the Ganges just as though They were cowherd boys on the banks of the Yamuna River. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Their associates, numerous Brahmins and countless men and women from the area enjoyed a feast of milk and chipped rice and yogurt and chipped rice. The opportunity to serve the Lord and His devotees in this way was something that could not come about except for some great fortune.

On the following day, Raghunath Das Goswami emotionally asked Sri Nityananda through Srila Raghava Pandit how he could possibly gain freedom from his material entanglements and find the association of Sri Mahaprabhu. Like an ocean of mercy, Sri Nityananda Prabhu placed His feet on Srila Raghunath’s head and said,

“You arranged this feast on the banks of the river and Sri Mahaprabhu was merciful to you and came here himself to enjoy it. He blessed you by accepting the offering of chipped rice and yogurt. Then, after watching the devotees dancing, He took prasad in the evening. Lord Gauranga came here just to deliver you and now He has removed any impediments which remained. He will turn you over to Svarupa Damodar and making you His confidential servant, He will keep you by His side. Go home now and forget your worries. You will soon be able to go to the Lord without any difficulties.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.6.139-143)

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