Devotee: I am really thrilled after seeing this footprint. I can’t believe that it really is the original footprint of the Lord. Can I know more about it?
Sacinandan Das: Oh, sure. Actually even now you can see many devotees having a footprint of Lord Caitanya with them. And usually those footprints are collected from do you know where?
Sacinandan Das: From inside the temple of the Supreme Lord Jagannath. There you can find a place where the footprint of Sriman Mahaprabhu is worshipped. Originally when Mahaprabhu used to visit the temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri, he used to stand just close to the Garuda Stambh, the pillar of Garuda. From there he would look at the sacred Deities of Their Supreme Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev, Subadhra Maa and Sudharshan.
In this way, when he used to stand, sometimes the over ecstatic spiritual joyous emotion of Mahaprabhu would express itself to such an inconceivable magnitude that the stone below His Divine Lotus Feet would start melting to form the shape of a footprint. Originally, that footprint was found over there. But later the Gajapathi King of Puri shifted it to his palace and in that way; no one was able to take the darsana of that footprint.
However, once the Guru of my mother, to whom Gajapathi was very respectful, had requested him, very humbly, to bring that footprint to the temple of Lord Jagannath. Therefore, with due regards to his prayer, a small temple was built within the main Jagannath temple where in which the footprint was placed. And when the devotees visit this temple, some of them humbly offer their prayer to the sevak, in order to get a print of that footprint. That is, they give a new white cloth and red powder so that they could take the footprint with them. This is how generally many devotees do have the footprint of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. But the one which you are seeing right now, is not of that kind. Because, all the footprints are originally of that shape, they normally say that this footprint is also got from there. But that is not the case. Actually, this is the original footprint, which was taken by one of the associates of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That was, many of His associates smeared red powder over the steps below and placed a white cloth on the top steps.
When Lord Caitanya walked over the 22 huge steps in the Sri Jagannath temple, before taking the darsana of Lord Jagannath, subsequently He also walked over the red powder and then over the cloth. Therefore, in that way, the impression of Lord Caitanya’s footprint was caught over the cloth. Actually, this most extraordinary footprint of Lord Caitanya was originally presented to my grandmother (mother’s mother) by her Gurudev at the time of his departure. My grandmother’s name was Sundarmani Dasi and she was a great devotee of Lord Gaura Nitai. She was really a great devotee. I can present to you an incident of her lifetime, which itself shows the magnitude of her devotion. Actually, she was basically devoted to her Deities of Gaura Nitai. Jagadish prabhu, he had seen the Deities worshipped by her, beautiful Deities! And after her physical departure those Deities were taken by her asrama where They are even now still worshipped.
My grandmother was of a special character, as I heard about her. She seldom used to speak. Always she used to spend her time in chanting, contemplating and singing the glories of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. At that time, if any of the village ladies would come to her residence, she would persistently make them all sit and hear Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, not make them waste time in talking mundane matters. She was this kind of a devotee. And also she was a scholar. Actually, my mother is quite reverse in that way. But my grandmother was a great scholar in sanskrit. Her mother tongue was Oriya, but she could speak Bengali and English quite eloquently as well. She used to sleep hardly 2 hours every day as I heard of her.
So actually, what happened was, during the preceding night of her final departure, she gave rest to the Deities in about 12 o’clock in the midnight, then she came back to her bed. As I told you hardly she sleeps for say one and a half hours or 2 hours and then gets up. So in that way, while she was just lying down over her mattress, she heard a loud noise. The noise sounded like the noise of many brass vessels falling down together and it seemed like it came from the Deity’s room. She was shocked. Therefore, she again came back to the Deity’s room offered her dandavat pranam, clapped thrice, begged apology and opened the door.
But when she opened the door, she found that everything remained intact. Their Supreme Sri Sri Lordships Gaura Nitai were nicely resting on Their bed…She used to always give rest to Them by putting pillows, washing their feet, etc…So, when she saw that They were resting nicely, she became confused. She came to the conclusion that perhaps something might have fallen down in a distant place. But, because it was in the dead of night, the noise sounded like as if it came from the Deity’s room. In that way, she thought of being mistaken. Therefore, she again went back to her bed and lied down. But surprisingly just after say 25 minutes, Their Supreme Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai appeared to her, in her dream, in Their most effulgent form. Inconceivably effulgent…
Then they said (her name was Sundarmani): “Sundarmani, till now, we were very much bounded up by the rope of your pure loving devotion. But from tomorrow you will not remain in this body of yours. That is why today, we have left these Deities. Externally we are in the form of the Gaura Nitai Deity but internally we have left. Because at your absence we don’t see anyone else who can lovingly reciprocate with us and serve us with that same purity of love as you did.” After this, she immediately got up. She didn’t sleep further. She called her daughter (who was my mother). When my mother was just 13 years old, she lost both her parents…Her (Sundarmani) husband—I mean to say, my mother’s father had left his body just 6 months before this incident took place.
Anyway, so in that way, she used to lovingly call my mother as “Budhi”. Budhi means old lady, but actually she was only 13 plus. Like that, after a while they brushed their teeth with a neem sticks, attended the call of nature and took their bath. Then both of them went and collected flowers to make garlands for their supreme Lordships. So I was told that she used to take about one and a half hours to make a big garland because they were big Deities. In that way, they made the garland and then started worshipping. In as her usual offering program, she continued on and in the midday after doing her bhoga arati, she gave rest to the Deities. During this time she felt acute pain in her chest. For the first time she had such experience. Then she immediately remembered the message conveyed to her the previous night. She couldn’t bear the pain. She said Gaura Nitai and came back to the bed and lied down.
She asked my mother by indication to give the bead bag. My mother could not understand. Then she herself tried and got it and chanted her rounds. Then she lied down and asked my mother to bring the sacred feet washed water of her Guru. That which she had saved with her since many years. At that time the water was dried up, but the dust that came in contact with the water was still there. The dust particles were then mixed with the water and given to her.
So she took it. Then she took little normal water, then after that she took the sacred water of Mahanadi, Indradyumna, Narendra tank, then Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, that you know, Prayag. Everyday she had a practice to feed the sadhus. At least 10 sadhus, because they were rich. She used to bear the transportation cost for their momentum. So during that day also they were served. And she instructed my mother to bring the remnants from everyone’s plate, you know, leaflets that is after having asked permission from them. Then she took them with water, and then loudly chanted the name of Gaura Nitai, Radha Krishna and left her body.
In that way, her departure was very glorious. So it was actually her Guru who entrusted her to receive this footprint. When her Guru handed it over to her, he said, “this is the most precious gem that I am having, which gem you cannot find anywhere in the entire universe and now you have been my selected disciple to take care of it.” Actually, once a devotee from Europe had been to our residence. At that time he got a chance to see this footprint and thought for himself whether if it really was that old or not. So what he did was, he took it to a museum in some place. There the members of the museum performed a kind of test and in that test they reported it as 600 years old. Then when he came and told me this I laughed and said, “no it is not 600 years old, it is 500 something years old because that was during the time of Mahaprabhu.”
So the fact is that, actually there is some difference between my maternal grandmother and my mother. My maternal grandmother, I had not seen her, but as I had heard, she was very intelligent. But on the other hand, my mother, even though the devotional influence of her mother is there but still intelligence-wise she was not that sharp. Because, she had inherited the qualities of her father. Her father was not that sharp and his influence is there. Therefore what happened was, my grandmother used to take care of the footprint. Actually, at that time, the footprint was very long, tall and straight, with all the signs and all that. She used to take care by giving mantra snan, you know? Just bathe by manas (mind) by sprinkling little water.
But after her departure, my mother took care of the footprint and at that time, she used to directly bathe it with water everyday. You see, my mother, she was less intelligent in that sense and thus did not know the adverse impact that may cause on the cloth if always comes in contact with water in a full fledged manner. Her style of worshipping Deities is also quite peculiar. I remember during my childhood, when I was in the government quarters, at that time she used to come, holding a banana in her hand, towards the photo of Kaliyadalana Krishna. You know Kaliyadalana that is Krishna dancing over Kaliya?…Yes. She used to bring a banana to Him and say, “Take it! Take it!” Then she used to put it in His mouth, again saying “No! It is not finished eat it!” But sometimes we would surprisingly discover that half of the banana disappeared.
After that, she would rub the mouth of Krishna in her own sari. Anyway, she was like this. But her mother was not like this. She was intelligent. She knew the regulations of Deity worship; and she knew what mantras to recite. But my mother did not know anything in that regard. Therefore, without knowing anything, she used to fully bathe the sacred footprint everyday. Naturally, the laws of nature works. That is, when you bathe it naturally the durability will be affected. You can say that this is also the Lords arrangement and for that reason we couldn’t do anything. Therefore, in that way, both the bottom sides and topsides of the sacred footprint shrunk in size. And the cloth also started wearing away resulting in the formation of many holes. Later on, when I saw this, I could no longer bear it. Therefore, I decided to immediately frame it. I got it framed in Bhubanesvara and then kept it safely. But you know? When Jagadish Pandit prabhu saw it for the first time, he became shocked and said, “No! It is not nicely framed, I will take it to Singapore and get it framed nicely.” So, in that way, he took it to Singapore and got it nicely framed. This is the same frame that you are right now seeing.
You know? You can’t imagine the scene that I saw when my spiritual master had seen this footprint for the first time, you know, his voice would get chocked up and automatically sweat would start dripping from his forehead. Tears used to fall from his eyes. In that way, he embraced it tightly. Then he would pay his dandavat pranam and so on and so forth. This footprint will be brought to Dandabhanga after my mother’s departure. I took her permission. This is its background.