“Simply by accepting that the associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are eternally perfect one may attain the service of Krishna in Vrindavana.“–Narottama Das Thakura. Sri Shyamananda, Srinvasa Thakura and Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura are all eternal associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. For the purpose of preaching the holy message of Sri Caitanya all over the earth they appeared within this world.
Syamananda Pandit appeared in the village Dandeswar in the Midnapur District of Orissa on the full moon day of the month of Visnu in 1534 AD. His parents, Sri Krishna Mandal and Durika Dasi, were pious sudras whose occupation was distributing milk. Before his birth his elder brother and sister had died. So when their third child was born the parents named him Dukhi, “unhappy”.
From his early childhood Dukhi manifested strong religious tendencies. At the age of twenty he went on pilgrimage. Arriving at Ambika Kalna, he was overwhelmed with ecstasy upon seeing the deities of Gaura Nitai who had been worshiped by Gauridas Pandit. Hriday Chaitanya, a prominent disciple of Gauridas, was deeply impressed with the boy’s spiritual advancement, gave him diksa, and changed his name to Dukhi Krishna das.
With the permission of his guru, Dukhi Krishnadas later went to Vrindavan where he studied and engaged in service under the guidance of Srila Jiva Gosvami. Jiva engaged him in the service of sweeping the Rasamandala, the place in Vrindavan where Radha-Krishna and the gopis engaged in their rasa dance pastimes. Once, while Dukhi Krishnadas was cleaning the Rasamandala, he found an anklet of Srimati Radhika that had dropped from Her foot while She had been dancing the night before. Srimati Radharani with Her associates appeared came to that place in disguise with Her associates in search of the anklet. Lalita Sakhi asked Dukhi Krishnadas if he has seen the anklet, to which he said yes. She asked him to reurn the anklet. Dukhi Krishnadas refused, and there was a long conversation between the two, with Lalita Sakhi been no match. Seeing Lalita Sakhi been almost defeated, Srimati Radharani intervened. Having returned the anklet to rightful owner, Srimati Radharani, Dukhi Krishnadas received the personal darshan of Her and Srimati Radharani gave him most gorgeous and unique Deity of Sri Shyamsundar. Srimati Radharani also created a special tilaka mark (noopur tilaka) on his forehead with Her ankle bell. (detailed pastime is below)
Later, on the order of Srila Jiva Gosvami, Syamananda Prabhu travelled to Orissa to preach the message of Mahaprabhu. As he was coming into the Mayurbhanj area of north-eastern Orissa, Syamananda spoke to his intimate disciple Rasikananda about a demoniac zamindar named Uddanda Ray who ruled like a small king in an area on their path. Syamananda told Rasika, “Uddanda Ray hates the vaishnavas. He has killed and robbed many saintly persons who came through his village. If a wicked person such as he can be changed then it will be marvellous. Let us both go to his place.”
They arrived at Narasinghpur in the evening. Uddanda Ray was lying on his bed but not sleeping. Suddenly he saw someone enter his room and
Deity of Sri Symananda Pandit in Narasinghpur
stand before him. In a grave voice, that mysterious person told the king, “Dedicate yourself to Syamananda Ray,” and disappeared. Uddanda Ray considered the voice to have been divine and began to think about when he would meet this person Syamananda. Just at that moment, Syamananda and Rasika entered the home of Uddanda Ray. Seeing Syamananda standing before him, Uddanda Ray fell at his feet and worshiped him in various ways. It is said that just by the power of Syamananda Prabhu’s presence, Uddanda Ray became a changed man. He took shelter of the lotus feet of Syamananda, who then blessed Uddanda with devotion to the Lord. Everyone was astonished to see that the king who was previously so demoniac now knew nothing but service to guru, Krishna, and the devotees.
Uddanda Ray confessed to Syamananda, “There is no limit to the terrible sins I have committed. I have killed thousands of vaishnava sadhus. After killing them I collected their asanas, (cloths used by sadhus to sit on during their bhajana). Uddanda then produced seven hundred and eighteen asanas that he had collected from the devotees he had killed. They were the size of a small hill. The now repentant zamindar king then showed them a well that for years he had used to dispose of the dead bodies of the devotees he had killed. Syamananda distributed thoseasanas to the vaishnavas, and the king also offered clothes and various other items to the devotees. Everyone in the local area was astonished to see that the formerly demoniac king had become a gentle devotee.
From that day on, Uddanda Ray began to serve all the vaishnavas with great humility and love. Later, Syamananda brought his deities, Syama Ray, from Dharendra and, with the assistance of Uddanda Ray, put on huge festivals in Narasinghpur. Syamananda later installed Radha Krishna deities there that he named Sri Sri Radha Mohanjiu. In the year 1630 AD, Syamananda spent four months at Uddanda Ray’s house and then left his body there.
Syamananda Prabhu’s bhajana-kutir and full Samadhi are still present today in the remote village of Narasinghpur in Orissa’s Mayurbhanj District. Also present there are the two tanks that Syamananda had dug and installed as Radha Kund and Syama Kund.
The worship of Sri Sri Radha Mohanjiu was later passed on to one of Syamananda’s disciples, who became themahant, temple manager. The local devotees tell an interesting story. The deity was maintained by some agricultural fields that the temple owned. No one was there to help with the farming, so the mahant was working in the fields and also taking care of the deities. At one point he became very sick. Another devotee was brought in to worship the deities, but there was no one to tend to the fields. The time came to plow the land,
but no one was available to do it. Understanding the situation, the mahant cried and prayed to Krishna, “My Lord! What can I do? If the fields are not plowed now then the planting will not be able to go on properly. Then there will be no crops, so how will we take care of You?”
The next morning when the pujari came to wake the deity, he was surprised to find that Krishna’s flute was gone. He also couldn’t understand why there was mud on the deity’s hands and feet. Just at that time a villager came by and congratulated the pujari for plowing the field so nicely the night before. “What are you saying?” the pujariasked, “I didn’t plow the field last night.”
The villager looked at him strangely, and said, “Well, come see for yourself!” When the pujari went to look, he was astonished to find that someone had nicely plowed the field during the night. Noticing something shiny on the ground, he bent down to pick it up – and found Krishna’s flute.
Gopal Jiu Magazine Issue#249
by HG Chandan Yatra das