Srimati Gangamata Gosvamini

Sriyuta Naresh Narayana was the king of Puntiya, which was located in the district of Rajshahi, part of the present country of Bangladesh. His only daughter was named Saci, and she was very devoted to God from her very childhood. In a very short time she became quite proficient in her studies, especially in grammar and poetry. As she grew up everyone became stunned by her blossoming youthful beauty. However, Saci was not attracted by any earthly good-looking, well-to-do young men. She was only interested in Sri Madana Gopala.

The king, Naresh Narayan began to think about his daughter’s marriage. When she came to know of this she told her father that she wouldn’t marry anyone who was subject to death. The king and queen put their hands to their heads and sat down – their only daughter refused to marry! Thus they passed on from this world, having no further work to do here. The responsibility for governing the people now fell on Saci. For some days she attended to her duties and then, after appointing her representatives she set out to visit the holy places of pilgrimage. But she didn’t feel satisfied within herself anywhere. Thus she began to search out a guru. She eventually came to Jagannath Puri, and after having darsana of Lord Jagannatha there for a few days, she set out for Sri Vraja Dham. It was here that the benediction moon of her good fortune rose. Seeing the spiritual prowess and renunciation of Sri Haridasa Pandita Gosvami, who was a staunch follower of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaura, she became very happy within herself and thought, “After so many days I have finally found shelter.” After falling at his lotus feet and offering her obeisances, with folded hands she prayed for his mercy. “Ananta Acarya was the disciple of Sri Gadadhar Pandit Gosvami. He was extremely munificent in distributing love of Krsna. Who can discribe his glories. His very dear disciple was Pandit Haridasa.” [C.C. Adi] Sri Haridasa Pandita Gosvami, in order to test Saci, told her that it wouldn’t be possible for the daughter of a king to practice the renunciation that she required in order to serve the Lord in Vraja. Saci, however, could understand that this was simply a pretense. Thus she began her service in total indifference to the material world. Gradually she completely gave up wearing any ornaments or fine cloth. One day Sri Haridasa told her, “If you can give up shyness, pride and fear and beg from door to door then you’ll be qualified to receive my mercy. Hearing this Saci became very happy and covering her body with one soiled cloth she went from door to door of the residents of Braja, to beg something to eat. Her body became very thin and pale. But the Vrajabasis could understand that she was not an ordinary woman because of her bodily effulgence. The Vaisnavas were astonished by her great austerities. Though she became quite thin, she took no notice of that and continued to regularly bath in the Yamuna, clean the temple of the Lord, go on parikrama, attend the arati ceremonies and hear discussions about Krsna. Seeing her intense renunciation, Haridasa became eager to reward her. He called her and told her, “Though you are the daughter of a king, the exertion with which you have worshipped Sri Krsna and the degree of renunciation you have shown have pleased me very much. Now be pleased to accept the divine mantra.” Thereafter on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Caitra, Sri Saci was initiated in Radha-Krsna mantra by Sri Haridasa Pandita Gosvami. Having received the eighteen syllable mantra, Saci became completely imbued with love of Krsna. Though she was very destitute, she began to serve Sri Guru and Govinda with intense devotion. Every day she would listen to her guru explain the sastras. Within a short time she became quite conversant in the literatures of the Gosvamis, and this was very pleasing to everyone. Around this time, one other lady disciple of Haridasa named Laksmipriya, who had a very pleasant demeanor, came to Vrindavana. Laxmipriya used to chant three lakhas of Holy Names every day. Haridasa instructed her to take Saci with her to Radha Kunda and worship the Lord there. Thus the two of them came there and began to circumambulate Govardhana hill every day. All at once Sri Haridasa Pandita called Saci back and instructed her to go to Puri to preach the message of Lod Gaurasundara to the pious people there. At this time almost all of the associates of Mahaprabhu had given up their earthly pastimes in Puri. In accordance with the order of her guru, Saci came there and took up residence in the house of Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. As no one had lived there for so many days, the place was very run down. Only the Damodara sila that Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya used to worship was remaining there. Saci resumed the regular worship of the Lord and recite the Srimad Bhagavatam daily. Many people were very impressed to hear her conclusive explanations of the sastras and thus they used to congregate there. Saci’s fame as an accomplished lecturer on the sastras began to spread far and wide. One day, the king Mukunda Deva came to hear her class. He was very pleased to hear such authoritative conclusions coming from the mouth of this saintly mataji, so in his mind he wished to present something to her. That very night he had a dream in which Lord Jagannatha told him, “You should offer the place known as Sweta Ganga to Saci.” Early the next morning, the king came to see her, and Saci very meekly offered him a seated and inquired as to the purpose of the visit. The king thus related to her the order of Lord Jagannatha and requested her to accept the piece of land adjacent to Sweta Ganga. Saci, however, was not interested in acquiring property. She declined the offer. But the king insisted she accept this royal grant of land, and finally she agreed after considering that it was after all the order of Lord Jagannatha. Most pleased he could render her some service, the king presented her with the deed to the parcel of land. After the royal grant of land became known to the public, gossip that Saci was previously the daughter of a king began to circulate around Puri. Once, shortly before Mahavaruni (a day very auspicious for bathing in the Ganga), Saci thought to herself how very much she would like to leave Puri and make a pilgrimage to the Ganga for this occasion. But after considering that it was her guru’s order to remain in Sri Ksetra, she decided to abandon the idea. But that night, Lord Jagannath spoke to her in a dream: “Saci!

Don’t worry. On the day of Mahavaruni you should bathe in the Sweta Ganga. Ganga Devi herself will personally come to join you there.” Having seen this dream, Saci was very jubilant. When the day of the Varuni bath arrived, in the middle of the night Saci went to the Sweta Ganga alone. As she entered into the water, a strong current suddenly gripped her and carried her inside the Jagannatha Mandira, which was now flooded, much to her amazement, by the sacred waters of the Ganges. There she saw thousands and thousands of the residents of Sri Ksetra taking their baths. A great uproar resounded in all directions from the recitation of prayers and hymns. In the midst of these festivities, Saci very religiously performed the Varuni bath in the water of the Ganga. Hearing the sound of what seemed to be a large crowd of people within the temple, the watchmen outside hurried to the temple superintendent who in turn informed the king. The king ordered them to enter the temple to investigate. To the astonishment of everyone, they found Sri Saci Devi, the reciter of the Bhagavatam, standing there alone. The priests of the temple surmised that she must have smuggled herself into the building in order to steal the ornaments of Lord Jagannatha. But others present felt it was impossible for her to have done this. “There must be some mystery behind it all,” they said. So it was decided to confine her for trial and judgement. Sacidevi didn’t mind and very blissfully continued to chant the Holy Name. Meanwhile, the King had a dream in which Lord Jagannatha very angrily told him, “You should immediately release Saci. I personally caused the Ganga to flow from My own foot; it was this that brought her into the temple so that she could take bath on this auspicious day. If you are concerned for the welfare of your subjects and your own good fortune, then along with the temple priests you had better go and beg forgiveness at her feet and request to become her disciples.” After seeing this dream, the king awoke in very worried state. He quickly completed his morning bath and immediately called for the priests. They went to the place of Saci’s confinement. The king opened the door and fell down at her lotus feet to offer his obeisances. He very humbly begged her forgiveness and submitted Lord Jagannatha’s instruction that he become her disciple.

Seeing the wonderful behavior of the king, she placed her hand on his head that he might be benedicted. On the next auspicious day she initiated the king with Radha-Krsna mantra. Many of the priests also accepted the shelter of her lotus feet at this time. From that day she became known as Sri Ganga Mata Gosvamini. The king wanted to donate some land to Sri Ganga Mata as guru- daksina, but she declined, saying that she only wanted the king should attain loving devotion to Lord Krsna’s lotus feet. “I am not qualified to accept anything more then this,” she told him. But the king repeatedly entreated her to accept something from him as guru daksina. Finally – for the purpose of serving the Vaisnavas – she agreed. Thereafter, daily two pots of Mahaprasad, one pot of vegetables, one remnant of Lord Jagannatha’s cloth and one hundred sixty kauris (small conchshells) were sent to the asrama each day. That service is still observed to this day, the articles are offered first to her samadhi. On one occasion a pandita of the name Mahidhara Sarma came to the banks of the Sweta Ganga to offer oblations to his forefathers. He happened to hear of the wonderful qualities of Sri Ganga Mata and thus was inspired to have darsana of her lotus feet. He approached her and in turn Ganga Mata very respectfully received him, offered him a seat and inquired as to the purpose of his visit. This brahmana, though a pandita, was a very simple and straight­forward man, so he honestly stated that he’d come to have her darsana and to receive spiritual knowledge from her. She was very pleased with his simplicity and mercifully began to speak the philosophy of the Srimad Bhagavatam to him. The panditji listened very intently to her wonderful elucidation and thereafter accepted shelter at her lotus feet. On an auspicious day she initiated him with Radha Krsna mantra. Mahindhara Sarma’s birthplace was Dhananjaypur. On the order of Sri Ganga Mata he preached the glories of Sri Sri Nitai-Gaura at various localities in the district of Ganjam. In the town of Jaipur within Rajasthan lived one devoted and religious minded brahmana of the name Sri Candra Sarma. In his house was a deity of Krsna called Sri Rasika Raya. The brahmana however, was very poor and thus could not offer foodstuffs properly to the Deity. One night Lord Jagannath appeared to the brahmana in a dream and told him, “The swervice of Sri Rasika Raya, Who is present in your house is not being conducted properly. You should straightaway bring Him here to Sri Ksetra and deliver Him to Sri Ganga Mata, who resides on the banks of Sweta Ganga. Otherwise some misfortune will befall you.” Having received this order from Lord Jagannatha, the brahmana didn’t delay but immediately set cut for Sri Ksetra. Arriving there, he inquired as to the whereabouts of Sri Ganga Mata and thus presented himself before her. Seeing the Deity of Sri Krsna, Ganga Mata became very happy. But when the brahmana explained to her the reason why he had come she replied, “But I am simply a beggar. I eat by begging at a few houses each day. How will I be able to serve this Deity? You had better take your Deity with you. Please don’t make me an offender.” The brahman didn’t know what to do. He thought deeply about it and finally saw no other recourse for him than to place the Deity of Sri Rasika Raya in the tulasi garden of Sri Ganga Mata and flee away. Sri Rasika Raya appeared that night in a dream to Ganga Mata and informed her, “I have come here to accept your service. That brahmana put Me in your tulasi garden and then left this place. I haven’t eaten anything for a whole day. Please feed Me.” Sri Ganga Mata was struck with wonder. “The Supreme Lord Hari Himself is asking me to feed Him.” Meditating on this, she became filled with ecstatic love. The hairs on her body stood on end. She quickly took bath and entered into the tulasi garden. There she saw Sri Rasika Raya, shining in His own effulgence. With her eyes full of tears, she fell down and offered her prostrated obeisances. “Here He is,” she thought joyfully, “still hungry.” She picked Him up and carried Him into her room, feeling very doubtful as to what she should do. Finally she bathed him and made a simple offering of foodstuffs. Sri Rasika Raya immediately ate everything. Ganga Mata was floating in an ocean of happiness. She spread out a new piece of cloth and laid Him down to rest. In the morning, when the devotees came to Ganga Mata’s house, they were astonished to see Sri Rasika Raya. When they heard the details of what had happened they all cheered and chanted “Hari! Hari!” Every day, Sri Ganga Mata would lovingly prepare many varieties of vegetables and cakes to offer to Sri Rasika Raya. She would spend at least twelve hours every day serving her Deity. For some days she served Sri Rasika Raya by begging at peoples’ houses but as she got on in years this became somewhat difficult for her. Noting this, Sri Rasika Raya by some trick or other would collect the necessary ingredients and paraphernalia from some rich merchants. But when Ganga Mata saw that there were many deficiencies in the worship due to her advanced age, she went before Sri Rasika Raya to pray for His forgiveness and to inform Him that she was unable to serve Him nicely now. For this reason she didn’t want to remain alive any longer. Sri Rasika Raya told her in a dream: “I am very pleased with your service. You shouldn’t lament. For a few more days you should continue to serve Me.” Some days passed, but again she told Him that she didn’t want to remain any longer.

Her only request was that she might leave this world while chanting His Holy Name. Sri Rasika Raya replied: “All right, don’t worry any more. After handing over My service to one of your qualified disciples, you should come join Me in My eternal abode.” Thereafter, she entrusted the worship of Sri Rasika Raya to one very peaceful and self-controlled disciple of hers called Vanamali Dasa. At the age of one hundred and twenty years, in the Christian year 1721, on the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Aswin, Sri Ganga Mata Gosvamini, while while seeing the graceful three fold bending form of Sri Rasika Raya and meditating upon His lotus feet, entered into His eternal pastimes. Her appearance was in the Christian year 1601. The Deity of Sri Rasika Raya is still present in the house of Sarvabhauma Bhatacarya, next to the Sweta Ganga.


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.