Sri Sivananda Sen was a very intimate servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Just before the rainy season (Caturmasya) he would lead the associates of Caitanya Mahaprabhu from Bengal to Puri, where they would go each year, to see the Lord. All of the expenses of this journey were born by him, Sen Sivananda. [C. C. Adi 10.54]. œ
Wealth and opulences are properly engaged in the service of Sri Hari, the guru and the Vaishnavas. Sivananda Sen used his property and possessions in this way, in the service of Sri Gauranga and His devotees. His entire family, sons and servants were all devotees of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
His three sons, Sri Caitanya Das, Sri Rama das and Sri Karnapur das, were extremely devoted to Mahaprabhu. His two nephews, Sri Ballabh sen and Sri Kanta Sen were also great devotees.
Sen Sivananda used to reside at Kumar hatta, which is presently known as Halisahir. The location of his worshippable Deities, Sri Sri Gour-gopal is unknown at present. However, the Deities worshipped by Srinath Pandit, the guru of Kavi Karnapur, are still residing at Kalyani. This is the temple of Kesto Ray, and is located a few miles from Caitanya Doha.
In his Gaur-ganoddesa-dipika, the son of Sivananda, Sri Kavi Karnapur has written that the gopi in Brindavan by the name Bira, who was the messenger of Srimati Radharani, is presently known as Sri Sivananda Sen.
The devotees would depart for Puri one month before the Rathyatra festival and travelling by foot, they would arrive one month later.
One day, the devotees set out on their trip, as it was an auspicious day to begin a journey. At first they came to Sri Advaita Acarya’s house in Santipur. After conducting a festival there for one day, Advaita prabhu, his wife and son accompanied the party to Mayapur where they would have the darshan of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mother, Saci mata. She was somehow or other passing her days in great separation from her son.
The devotees all offered their obeisances to her and she in turn offered obeisances to the feet of Advaita Acarya and his wife Sita Thakurani. Then, while remembering her son, she began to cry. Advaita Acarya Prabhu and his wife consoled Saci Mata as best as they could, and then, along with the other devotees, they commenced their journey.
Though Lord Caitanya had ordered Nityananda Prabhu to preach in Bengal, he would also accompany the devotees to see Mahaprabhu. Also present were Sri Acaryaratna, Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Srivas Pandit, along with his brothers and their wives, Vasudeva, Govinda, Madhava Ghosh, Murari Gupta Ojha, Sri Raghava Pandit, Sri Khandavasi Narahari, Sri Gunaraja Khan, etc. Sen Sivananda would bring his wife and their sons, and many of the other devotees as well would bring their wives. The Thakuranis (ladies) would prepare foodstuffs, which were the favourite preparations of Mahaprabhu. Sivananda would make the arrangements for everyone’s meal as well as the paying of the tolls at the ferry gates. Wherever they would halt for the night, they would hold a festival of dancing and chanting of the Holy names.
Sivananda Sen knew all the paths through Orissa. One day he remained behind at the ghat to settle their account with the toll collector, while the rest of the party went ahead. After walking some distance they sat down to rest underneath a tree. Sivananda, however, was held up and not able to come right away and thus there was no arrangements for their meals. Having walked quite some distance that day, everyone was very hungry. Nityananda began to abuse his name and was ready to curse him.
“Where is that Shiva? Everyone is dying of hunger but still he hasn’t come. No one is arranging any prasadam. Let his son die as well!”
Just then Sivananda arrived. His wife went to him with tears in her eyes, “You didn’t manage any prasadam and now Gosai is very angry. He has cursed your sons to die.” Sivananda replied, “Now don’t you become crazy. No need to cry needlessly. Just try to get a hold of yourself.”
Consoling his wife he came to where Nityananda Prabhu was and offered his dandavats. Nityananda, still in angry mood, gave him a good kick. Sivananda felt great pleasure to get this mercy from Sripad Nityananda and immediately went to the house of one Gaudiya Vaishnava to arrange prasadam and a place to stay for the devotees. Then he went to bring Nityananda Prabhu there.
Nityananda Prabhu accepted prasadam with the devotees after which Sivananda came, and offering his obeisances at Nityananda Prabhu’s lotus feet he prayed to him; “Today in accepting me as your servant, you punished me fittingly, according to my offense. But such is your tenderness that under the pretense of punishment you actually awarded me such great mercy. Who within the three worlds can understand your character? The dust of your lotus feet is very difficult to obtain even for Lord Brahma, but even such a low, vile wretch as me received the touch of these lotus feet on his body. Today my birth and the heritage of my forefathers has become successful, and today I have received devotion to Sri Krsna, as well as the ordinary objects of attainment for human beings – religion, economic development and sense gratification.”
Hearing these words of Sivananda, Nityananda Prabhu became very happy and he rose up and very lovingly embraced him. [C. C. Ant. 12.31]
One year Sivananda came to Puri, bringing his son, Caitanya Das with him. One day Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked the child: “What is your name?” To this the child replied, “Caitanya Das”. Then Mahaprabhu asked Sivananda: “What kind of name is this?” Sivananda: “As I received inspiration in my heart, so I have chosen this name.”
One day Sivananda suggested to his son that he invite Mahaprabhu for lunch. When Caitanya das made this request Mahaprabhu accepted the affectionate invitation offered by the boy. Thus Sivananda along with his wife prepared many preparations of foodstuffs, feeling very happy in heart that Mahaprabhu would be taking his lunch at their house that day. When Mahaprabhu arrived Sivananda offered his obeisances, and after washing Mahaprabhu’s feet he seated Him for lunch. At this point Mahaprabhu told, that today’s invitation has been extended by Caitanya Das. Then Caitanya Das placed in front of Mahaprabhu yogurt, limes, ginger, flower pakoras and other salty preparations, arranged very nicely. Seeing this arrangement Mahaprabhu said: “This boy understands My mind. Therefore today I am very pleased to accept his invitation. [C. C. Ant. 20.180]
Thus Mahaprabhu very happily accepted the prasadam and after finishing, He called Caitanya das and gave him His remnants.
Note: Special thanks to Jaya Tirtha Caran prabhu from NZ for allowing us to use some of the content from his site to compile these pages.