indradyumno maharajo jagannatharcakah pura
jatah prataparudrah san sama indrena so’dhuna
[Note: In a Satyayuga during the second half of Brahma’s lifetime, a certain king named Indradyumna was born into the Dynasty of the Sun. He ruled over the kingdom of Malava and had his capital at Avantipura. He was a great devotee of Vishnu, as was his priest Vidyapati. In the first half of Brahma’s life, Jagannath had appeared in Nilachala as Nila Madhava with the purpose of delivering the conditioned souls of this world. He was served by a tribal king named Vishvavasu. Nila Madhava manifested the deity form of Jagannath through these three persons: Indradyumna, Vidyapati and Vishvavasu. The Lord appeared in three forms at the place known as Banki Mohana in order to show his mercy for King Indradyumna. These three deities are, of course, Balaram, Subhadra and Jagannath.]
Prataparudra was an associate of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and is considered a branch of Gadadhara Pandit Goswami. During the Lord’s lifetime, he was an independent king of considerable power. His capital city was Cuttack (Kataka). He, his wives and sons, were all devotees of Mahaprabhu. His chief wife (or patta-mahishi) was named Gauri. She had five sons, the eldest of whom was named Purushottam Jana. This is mentioned in Bhakti-ratnakara (6.65).
Prataparudra had a regular duty which he performed whenever he was at Nilachala. He would daily massage Kashi Mishra’s feet and would hear a report on Jagannath’s service.
Mahaprabhu stayed at Kashi Mishra’s house in a one-roomed cottage on the veranda. In Orissan, such a small cottage is called a gambhira.
We also learn from Ramananda Raya’s Jagannath-vallabha Nataka that Prataparudra was a mighty and heroic military leader, despite which he maintained a humble demeanor. He was a generous and open-hearted Vaishnava. It is also said there that he was devoted to the promotion of learning. Every one of Mahaprabhu’s biographies states that he received the Lord’s mercy. Kavi Karnapura also writes about Prataparudra’s military qualities in his Chaitanya-candrodaya Nataka. He protected brahmanical culture and was especially benevolent towards the Vaishnava religion. Many works of Vaishnava history dating to that period have given testimony that he was the object of affection for Mahaprabhu, Ramananda Raya, Kashi Mishra and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya.
Many books have been attributed to Prataparudra, such as Saraswati-vilasa, Pratapa-martanda, Kautuka-cintamani, Nirnaya-sangraha, etc. In fact, the first two of these books were written by two of his court scholars, Lolla Lakshmidhara and Ramakrishna, respectively. There is a legend that when Mahaprabhu left Puri for Vrindavan, Prataparudra felt such separation that he had a murti of the Lord made. He assigned 54 Brahmins to the service of the deity, as well as giving a large tract of land for its maintenance. In the royal palace at Puri, deities of Gaura-Nityananda and Gaura-Gadadhara are worshiped alongside numerous other images.
On one occasion, marriage was contracted between Purushottam and the king of Kaïci’s daughter Padmavati. The king of Kaïci came to Puri to have a look at the groom. He arrived there during the time of the Rathayatra and saw his prospective son-in-law sweeping the parade ground before the chariot of the Lord, as was the custom. Though Purushottam was sweeping the ground with a golden broom, the king of Kaïci thought that it was an insult to his daughter to marry her to someone who took the tasks of a sweeper, the lowest outcaste of Hindu society. He thus cancelled the marriage between them. The king of Kaïci was a devotee of Ganesha, and had no great faith in Jagannath.
When Purushottam heard of the sovereign of Kaïci’s faithlessness, he became angry and attacked his territories with a large force. At first he was unable to secure a victory, so he prostrated himself before Jagannath and surrendered to him. This time Jagannath assured him that he would aid his war effort and so Purushottam took up arms again.
As Purushottam passed through the village of Anandapura, about 12 miles from Puri, a milk maid said to him, "Two horsemen passed through here. They bought milk, yogurt and buttermilk from me and paid for it with a ring. They told me to give you the ring and ask for money in exchange." When Purushottam looked at the ring, he was able to recognize that the two horsemen had been none other than Jagannath and Balaram. He rewarded the milkmaid and set off to certain victory against Kaïci. He returned with the jewelled throne of that kingdom and offered it to the service of Jagannath. He also took the Ganesha deity which was worshipped in Kaïci back to Puri. In this way, Jagannath Deva crushed the arrogant pride of the king of Kaïci. It is said that Ganesha tried to cast obstacles in Purushottam’s way during the battle. Since he went against his customary role of eliminating obstacles, he was given the name Bhanda ("deceitful") Ganesha.
Kaïci’s king personally returned to Puri with his daughter Padmavati and offered her as Purushottam’s bride while he was sweeping the Rathayatra route for Jagannath. Purushottam kept his promise and remained king of Puri until 1497 AD. He was followed by Prataparudra who remained on the throne until his death in 1540. Other than the abovementioned queen Gauri, he also had four other wives, named Padma, Padmalaya, Ila and Mahila.
At first Prataparudra approached Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya to tell him of his desire to meet Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He asked him so many times that finally Saravabhauma asked Mahaprabhu to allow the king to see him. As soon as he heard the request, however, the Lord covered his ears and said, "For a sannyasi like myself, to see a king is the same as looking at a woman-- it is pure poison." (2.11.7) Even though the king was a great devotee, the fact that he was a king made him an object of fear, like a black snake.
That very night, he saw Jagannath in a dream. Jagannath too was covered in dust and saliva; then he saw the same dust-covered form of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sitting on Lord Jagannath’s simhasana along with the Deity. From this amazing dream he understood the divine nature of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
[Jagannath said,] "Just look! My body is covered with dust and saliva. You are a king and the son of a king. Surely it is not proper for you to touch someone like myself." Having said this, Lord Jagannath looked at his servant and laughed. In that very moment, the King saw Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sitting on the altar alongside the Lord.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.5.175-7)
ye me bhakta-janah partha na me bhaktash ca te janahThose who claim to be my devotees are in fact not so. The best of my devotees are those who are devoted to my servants.
mad-bhaktanam tu ye bhaktas te me bhaktatama matah
However, Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya again entreated the Lord on the king’s behalf to allow such a meeting to take place, the Lord said that under no circumstances would he come face to face with a king, and that if people continued to ask him to do so, he would leave Puri and go to live elsewhere. When the king heard this, he was desolated. He said,
"The Lord has descended just to deliver all kinds of sinful, lowborn persons. He has even delivered sinners like Jagai and Madhai. But it seems that he has made a promise to deliver the entire universe with the exception of someone named Prataparudra. He may have sworn not to see me, but I have sworn to give up my life if I cannot see him. Without Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mercy, my life and kingdom are worthless."
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.11.45-6, 48-9)
Vasudeva Sarvabhauma thought up a way to arrange a meeting between Prataparudra and the Lord. During the Rathayatra festival, after having danced in the sankirtan with his devotees, the Lord customarily went into a flower garde to rest. Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya suggested to the king that he take this opportunity to approach the Lord dressed as a common person and to recite the verses of the Rasa-païcadhyaya from the Bhagavat. The Lord would be in a trance-like state and would be transported by the recital of the loves of Krishna and the gopis. In this condition, he would surely embrace the king. The king was relieved to hear these words of advice.
When the Lord returned from his pilgrimage to the South of India, Prataparudra sent a letter to Sarvabhauma in which he once again expressed his desire to meet with the Lord. Sarvabhauma showed the letter to the other devotees and all were duly impressed by the degree of devotion exhibited by the King. Nityananda Prabhu decided that he would speak to the Lord, not about meeting the King but simply about his personal qualities and actions. He said the following to the Lord:
We want to submit everything to you, whether or not it is fitting. The King has decided that he will become a yogi if he cannot meet you. He says, "I will pierce my ears and place earrings there and become a mendicant. I have no desire to enjoy this kingdom without the mercy of Gaurahari. When will I be able to see the Lord’s moonlike face to my full satisfaction and when will I be able to hold his lotus feet to my heart?"
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.12.19-21)
Though the Lord listened to Nityananda’s account of the King’s mood, he took a hard-line position in order to teach the world. He said that for the sake of his spiritual advancement, a sannyasi is forbidden to even see a King. If he were to engage in such forbidden acts, Damodar Pandit would criticize him. Damodar Pandit answered, saying:
"I am merely an insignificant jiva, so what power do I have to tell you what to do? I shall see you meet the King of your own volition. The King loves you very much, and you are influenced by a devotee’s feelings of love. It is the power of this love for you that will reward him with the opportunity to touch you. Although you are the Supreme Lord and are completely independent, still it is your nature to be influenced by the love and affection of your devotees."
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.12.27-9)
Nityananda added that people who experience unrequited love tend to commit suicide. Thus, in order to save the King’s life, he asked Mahaprabhu to give him a used loincloth (bahirvasa). The Lord could not refuse, so Nityananda asked Govinda for the loincloth and sent it to the King via Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. Prataparudra was overjoyed to receive the cloth and he began to worship it as though it were the Lord himself.
However, the Lord was unable to completely ignore Ramananda Raya’s request, because of their close friendship. He himself suggested that he could see the King’s son, for according to the maxim atma vai jayate putrah ("one is reborn as one’s own son"), there is no difference between the father and the son. When he learned of the Lord’s will, Prataparudra immediately sent his son to him. When Mahaprabhu saw the teenaged prince with his almond eyes and dark skin wearing a yellow cloth, he immediately thought of Krishna. He embraced the lad which caused him to experience the ecstatic transformations of prema. The King embraced him and felt the same ecstasies through the medium of his son. From that day onward, the King’s son was considered one of Mahaprabhu’s associates.
dinere adhika daya karen BhagavanThe Lord bestows greater blessings on the meek and humble. Those who are well-born, who are learned, and who are rich are filled with pride.
kulin pandit dhanir baria abhiman
Maharaj Prataparudra was without any pride, even though he had so much material power as well as possessing all good qualities. Mahaprabhu had noticed his willingness to engage in even menial service and was pleased with him and ready to give him his mercy, even though externally he made a show of being hard-hearted.
[While Lord Jagannath was being carried from the throne to the car] King Prataparudra personally engaged in the Lord's service by sweeping the road with a gold-handled broom. He sprinkled the road with sandalwood-scented water. Although he was the owner of the royal throne, he engaged in such menial service. Although the King was the most exalted respectable person, still he accepted menial service for Lord Jagannath and was therefore a suitable candidate for Jagannatha’s mercy. Mahaprabhu was happy to see the King’s service to the Lord and it was through this service, that he finally received the mercy of the Lord.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.13.15-18)
The Lord’s mercy has no cause. Only he knows who will receive his blessings and when. Often, he does so in an indirect manner rather than doing it openly. The Lord was pleased by the King’s engagement of a menial service and even though he did not make a public show of mercy to him, he did reveal his personal form to the King and thus fulfill his deepest desire.
When Mahaprabhu himself wanted to dance in front of Jagannath’s chariot, he would gather the seven sampradayas together into one kirtan group. Meanwhile, the devotees formed three rings of protection around the Lord. The innermost line of defense was headed by Nityananda Prabhu, the second by Kashishvara Pandit, Mukunda and other devotees. Prataparudra and his soldiers formed the outermost circle to defend the Lord from the crowds.
Maharaj Prataparudra watched mesmerized while the Lord danced, resting his hand on the shoulder of his minister (mahapatra) Haricandana. At that time, Srivasa Pandit, who was also absorbed in watching the Lord’s ecstatic dancing, came and stood in front of the King, blocking his vision. Haricandana repeatedly tried to push Srivasa to one side, telling him to let the King see until finally Srivasa lost his temper and slapped Haricandana. When Haricandana became angry and was about to respond to Srivasa’s aggression, the King said:
"You are very fortunate, for you have been graced by the touch of Srivasa Thakur. I have not been so fortunate. You should feel obliged to him."
When he saw that it was the King, Mahaprabhu condemned himself, saying, "O, how pitiful it is that I have touched a person interested in mundane affairs." ... Even though the Lord had had made up his mind to see the King upon seeing him act as a sweeper in the service of Lord Jagannath, he still externally expressed feelings of anger in order to warn his personal associates.
jayati te’dhikam janmana vrajahMahaprabhu was ecstatic and told the King to go on reciting. The King reached the ninth verse of the chapter:
shrayate indira shashvad atra hi
dayita drishyatam dikshu tavakas
tvayi dhritasavas tvam vicinvate
The glories of Vraja-bhumi have increased ever since you took birth here; since then, the goddess of fortune has taken up residence here. O beloved! We whose lives depend completely on you are searching for you, please show yourself to us.
tava kathamritam tapta-jivanamAs soon as Mahaprabhu heard this verse, he became ecstatic with love and embraced the King, while repeating the word bhurida ("most munificent beings") from the verse. Though the Lord is all-knowing, he asked the King his identity. Prataparudra answered that he was the servant of the servant of the Lord. Satisfied with the King’s answer, the Lord revealed to him a glorious divine form. All the devotees were overjoyed to see that the King had finally received the Lord’s mercy.
kavibhir iditam kalmashapaham
bhuvi grinanti te bhurida janah
Nectarean discussions about you give life to those who are suffering; the philosophers have glorified them for they destroy all of one’s sins. They are auspiciousness for the ears, they bring the fortune of love for Krishna. Those most munificent of beings distribute these wonderful words throughout the world.
When the ratha was being pulled from Balagandi to Gundicha, it suddenly came to a stop and even the strongest men and intoxicated elephants were unable to move it. Maharaj Prataparudra became anxious. When the Lord saw that everyone was worried, he removed the strong men and the elephants and told his own devotees to take the ropes. Mahaprabhu himself went to behind the chariot and began to push it with his head. The chariot started to move with a great rumbling noise. This feat amazed King Prataparudra and the rest of his entourage.
The Lord made his first attempt to go to Vrindavan, he left Puri on Vijaya-dashami and went to Cuttack where he met Prataparudra in a garden under a bakula tree. Here too, the Lord saw the great prema of the King and embraced him, drenching him in his own tears of love. From that day on, the Lord was given the epithet Prataparudra-santrata, "the savior of King Prataparudra".
Bhavananda Raya’s son Gopinath Pattanayaka was placed on the scaffold by the King’s son for having misappropriated state funds. Some devotees came to Mahaprabhu to ask him to intervene in order to save Gopinath’s life. The Lord was unhappy at being asked to get involved in such mundane affairs and made up his mind to go to Alalanath. The King himself was disturbed at hearing this news and prepared himself to give up everything in order to keep the Lord in Puri. These are all further proofs of the extent of the King’s love for the Lord’s lotus feet.
When King Prataparudra heard all these details, he felt great pain in his mind. "I shall give up all that is owed me," he said, "if Mahaprabhu only stays here at Jagannath Puri. Even a moment’s contact with the Lord is worth more than millions of cintamani stones. I care nothing for this small sum of 200,000 kahanas (Note: a kahana equals 1280 cowries.); I would indeed offer everything not only this, but my life and kingdom at the lotus feet of the Lord."
I will become an ornament on your body,
the ankle bells upon your feet.
I will become the cakora who gazes
at the moons of your fingernails,
the bee who buzzes around your lotus feet.
I will become the mirror you look into,
the whisk that fans you.
And I have yet another desire
Let me become a layer of fine dust on your feet.
If I cannot become the dust of your feet,
then be merciful and do with me as you please,
this is Prataparudra’s prayer.
When the King heard that the Lord had departed, he fell to the ground and began lamenting. Hitting his head again and again, he fell unconscious and only the association of Ramananda Raya kept him alive. The King was unable to bear the absence of the Lord and so he left Puri, remaining elsewhere for the rest of his days.
Maharaj Prataparudra’s descendants are: (1) Kaluwa Pratapa, (2) Kakharuwa Pratapa, (3) Govinda Vidyadhara, (4) Cakra Pratapa, (5) Narasimha Deva, (6) Raghurama Deva, (7) Mukunda Deva Haricandana, (8) Ramachandra Deva, (9) Purushottam Deva, (10) Nrisingha Deva, (11) Gangadhara Deva, (12) Balabhadra Deva, (13) Mukunda Deva II, (14) Divyasimha Deva, (15) Hare Krishna Deva, (16) Gopinath Deva, (17) Ramachandra Deva II, (18) Virakeshari Deva, (19) Divyasimha Deva II, (20) Mukunda Deva III, (21) Ramachandra Deva III, (22) V_rakeshari Deva II, (23) Divyasimha Deva III, (24) Mukunda Deva IV, (25) Ramachandra Deva IV, (26) Virakeshari Deva III, (27) Divyasimha Deva IV.
[Excerpted from "Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]