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    Shrila Shivananda Sena

    Shri Chaitanya and dogShrila Shivananda Sena was a very intimate servant of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Just before the rainy season (Caturmasya) he would lead the associates of Chaitanya 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. Adi10.54].

    Wealth and opulences are properly engaged in the sevice of Shri Hari, the guru and the Vaisnavas. Shivananda Sena used his property and possessions in this way, in the service of Shri Gauranga and His devotees. His entire family, sons and servants were all devotees of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

    His three sons, Shri Chaitanya Das, Shri Rama das and Shri Paramananda das, who was later known as Kavi Karnapura. They were all extremely devoted to Mahaprabhu. His two nephews, Shri Vallabha Sen and Shri Kanta Sen were also great devotees.

    Shivananda Sena used to reside at Kumar hatta, which is presently known as Halisahir. The location of his worshipable Deities, Shri Shri 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 Chaitanya Doha.

    In his Gaur-ganoddesa-dipika, the son of Sivananda, Shri Kavi Karnapur has written that the gopi in Vrindavan by the name Bira, who was the messenger of Srimati Radharani, is presently known as Shri Sivananda Sen.

    The devotees would depart for Puri one month before the Ratha-yatra 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 Shri 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 darsan of Chaitanya 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 Chaitanya had ordered Nityananda Prabhu to preach in Bengal, he would also accompany the devotees to see Mahaprabhu. Also present were Shri Acaryaratna, Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Srivas Pandit, along with his brothers and their wives, Vasudeva, Govinda, Madhava Ghosh, Murari Gupta Ohja, Shri Raghava Pandit, Shri Khandavasi Narahari, Shri Gunaraja Khan, etc. Shivananda Sena 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.

    Shivananda Sena 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 Siva? 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 Vaisnava 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 Shri 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]

    During one pilgrimage to Nilacala a dog joined their party and Sivananda took personal care of him, even paying extra fare to allow the dog to across the river along with them. One night Sivananda was detained for sometime and arrived at the camp late in the evening, only to find that the dog had not been given prasada and, despite a thorough search, the dog was nowhere to be found. Thus Sivananda did not accept any food that night.

    When their party arrived in Nilacala, they found the dog in the presence of the Lord. The dog was eating some coconut given by the Lord and was chanting, "Krsna, Krsna." Sivananda offered his humble obeisances at the feet of the dog and apologized.

    Vasudeva Datta was an extraordinarily generous man, thus he never saved any money. Lord Chaitanya therefore directed Sivananda as follows: "You should become the accountant of Vasudeva and take charge of his expenses."

    One year Sivananda came to Puri, bringing his son, Chaitanya Das, with him. One day Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked the child: "What is your name?" To this the child replied, "Chaitanya 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 Chaitanya 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 Chaitanya Das. Then Chaitanya 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 Chaitanya das and gave him His remnants.

    Once Lord Chaitanya appeared within the body of Nakula Brahmacari at Ambika. Upon hearing this Sivananda went to Ambika but instead of meeting Nakula, he remained hidden. Hoping to test the authenticity of Nakula brah

    macari, Sivananda thought "If that brahmacari calls me by name and speaks out my Istamantra, then I will be convinced that the omniscient Lord Gauranga has truly entered his body. It happened as Sivananda desired; the brahmacari called him and spoke out his Istamantra.

    Once Lord Chaitanya, without manifesting Himself physically, partook of food presented by Nrsimhananda in the house of Sivananda. Not having personally seen the Lord, Sivananda was uncertain of this incident. However, the next year when visiting the Lord in Puri, Lord Chaitanya mentioned the time which He had come to accept prasada at Sivananda's house, thus clearing up Sivananda's doubts.

    Shivananda Sena disappeared from this world on the second day of the bright fortnight in the month of Asar.

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