Parishads: Sri Kurma Vipra

by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja

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When Mahaprabhu decided to deliver the people of the South, he left Puri on the pretext of going on pilgrimage in the month of Vaishakh. At Nityananda Prabhuís request, he accepted Krishnadas Vipra as a servant. Distributing prema to all as he passed, he arrived in the place known as Kurmasthana where he bestowed his blessings on the Vedic Brahmin also named Kurma.

Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has not given anything more than this Brahminís name in his account of this event in his Chaitanya Charitamrita. Though many devotees descended to this world to participate in the Lordís pastimes, the worldly identity of many of them remains unfortunately unknown. There is not much possibility that historians will ever be able to unearth any more informtion about this Kurma Vipraís background. Detailed knowledge about the Lordís associatesí worldly identities is far less important, however, than the lessons which we are taught through their saintly lives.

Mahaprabhu was influenced by the intense devotion of Kurma Vipra to accept his service. He was fortunate enough to be able to take the Lord to his house, where he washed his feet and gave the holy water to all his family members to drink. He gave the Lord to eat and ate his remnants as maha prasad.

In that village there was a Vedic Brahmin named Kurma. He respectfully invited Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to his home. He washed the Lordís lotus feet and drank the water with his family members. With great affection and respect, he gave Mahaprabhu all kinds of food to eat. After that, all the members of the family shared his remnants.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.7.121-3)

The Brahmin glorified Mahaprabhu, pleasing him, but as the Lord left he was unable to bear the thought of being separated from him. He asked the Lord for permission to accompany him, but the Lord denied it him, telling him to stay at home and chant the names of Krishna and then to take the role of an acharya and preach the Holy Names to others.

The Lord said, "Never make such a suggestion again. You should rather remain at home and constantly chant the holy name of Krishna. Instruct whomever you see in the religion of Krishna. Become a spiritual master on my order and deliver everyone in this land. Do this and you will never again be entangled in the waves of materialistic life. Indeed, you will have my company again, here in this very place."
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.7.127-9)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has elaborated on this instruction to Kurma Vipra in his Anubhashya as follows: "For those who are determined to abandon everything to take shelter of the Supreme Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and serve him exclusively, the Lord here gives the instruction to remain in the home, i.e., to give up the pride of being a heroic performer of bhajana and to adopt a regular practice of chanting the Holy Name of Krishna in the home and, with the humility which is characterized by remaining in the householder life, instruct others in chanting the Holy Names. If one takes up the duties of a spiritual master in this way, he will never become entangled in the "waves of materialistic life" in the form of the desire for self-aggrandizement. Many foolish people think that it is an impediment to spiritual practice to teach through writing books as Rupa Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, Jiva Goswami or Raghunath Das Goswami have done, or by taking on large numbers of disciples like Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya or Narottama Das Thakur. Indeed, these less intelligent persons even claim that such activities are material entanglements. By adhering to these erroneous ideas, they become offenders to many unalloyed devotees who have nothing to do with the material world. This teaching of the Lord is intended for these people, who, if they analyze it carefully, will come to give up their false pride in a show of humility and, rather than demonstrating a vengeful attitude towards those who are devoid of a devotional attitude to the Lord, advance the cause of genuine bhajana."

Friendship with Vasudeva Vipra

In this same place, Mahaprabhu was also attracted by the heartfelt devotion of the leper Vasudeva Vipra. He delivered him and embraced him, transforming him into a handsome man. Vasudeva said,

"Listen, O merciful one! The qualities you possess could not possibly manifest in an ordinary living being. The lowest of the low run away at the sight and smell of my body, yet you touched and embraced me! You are the supremely independent Lord. But I was well off in my humble state. By transforming me, you have put me at risk of becoming proud."
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.7.144-6)

The Lord then gave him assurances that even though his body had been made handsome, he would not become entangled in the egoism which physical beauty usual brings along with it. He also told him to help others by teaching them to chant the holy names of Krishna.

The mercy of the Lord and his devotees upon seeing the distress of the conditioned souls is demonstrated by these words of the Lord and the above quotation from the writings of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur. As Mahaprabhu left the pilgrimage town of Kurmakshetra, Kurma Vipra and Vasudeva embraced each other and sang his glories, their eyes filled with tears of sadness at his departure.

[Excerpted from "Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]

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