There is a small Gaura-Nitai temple right across the street from Bankandhi Mahadev temple in Vrindavan. The temple looks more like double story house, but its humble facade hides the glorious pastimes and history of the Gaura-Nitai deities inside. First worshipped by Murari Gupta and his descendants, the deities were brought to Vrindavan by Smt. Candrasasi Mukherjee, who, after arriving in Vrindavan, became known as, Pisi Ma Gosvamini. Murari Gupta’s Gaura-Nitai deities were buried under the ground after the village of Rayapura (Siudi District, Bengal) was abandoned. The village had been reclaimed by the jungle after the inhabitants had abandoned the area due to an outbreak of Malaria. Gaura-Nitai arranged that they be ‘discovered’ by a gopa who used to graze his cows in the area. The gopa noticed that one of his cows would drip milk in that spot. Villagers dug in the spot and Gaura-Nitai deities with ‘Murari Gupta’ engraved on the bottom were unearthed. Then, the deities arranged for their worship by appearing in a dream to Balaramadasa Babaji from Odisha, who, following the call in the dream came to the and began to worship them. Soon after, Smt. Candrasasi Mukherjee came to the area on some business concerning her family’s land. She saw the deities and the desire to feed them arose in her heart. Her desire to serve Gaura-Nitai forced Chandrasasi to take initiation. Balaramdas Baba told her that a person must be initiated before cooking for temple deities, so Chandrasasi took initiation from him. Chandrasasi was from a wealthy family. She acquired 40 litres of milk to make kheer for Bal Gaura and Bal Nitai. Gaura-Nitai seemed to enjoy the kheer and the very next day, they appeared to her in a dream. She had a dream that they were pulling on her sari, insisting that she stay with them. In the dream, a piece of her sari got torn off. In the morning, she told Balaramdas Baba about the dream. When they opened the temple, they saw the torn off piece of her sari in Gaura’s hand. From this day, Candrasasi pledged herself to serving Bal Gaura-Nitai, and she soon came to see them as her sons. One day, Pisi Ma became upset when because her monthly started while she was cooking. Crying, she thought, “Today I won’t be able to offer my own cooking for Gaura-Nitai’s bhoga!” Thus suffering over the matter, she had a vision in which both brothers, Gaura and Nitai, came to her and said, “Ma, there’s nothing to be sad about. You just do what mothers in your condition usually do. There’s no fault in that. Get up. Take your bath and give us something to eat. We’re very hungry. From now on, you’ll be free of this problem” Pisi Ma did as she was told. She was only in her 20 years old, but, from then on, her monthly cycle stopped. So, Gaura-Nitai had arranged that two devotees – Chandrasasi Ma and Balaramdas Baba had become completely engaged in Their service. A natural consequence of this arrangement was that the townsfolk began to suspect some illicit relationship between Babaji and Chandrasasi Ma. Chandrasasi Ma became disturbed by the gossip and prayed to Gaur Nitai for a solution. After praying repeatedly and weeping before the deities, she fell asleep. The answer came to her in a dream in which Gaura-Nitai lovingly threw their arms around her and told her, “Take us to Vrindavan”. So, after the pain of being slandered, Chandrasasi got the benediction of coming to Vrindavan. She and Babaji travelled by boat and, as soon as they arrived, by yet another divine arrangement, they met a female devotee called Bhakta, who was bathing in the Yamuna at the time. Overjoyed to see Gaur Nitai, Bhakta offered Babaji and Chandrasasi a place in her house. Locals Bhakta by the name Pisi Ma (Paternal aunt) and Chandrasasi became Pisi Ma Goswamini. Once in Vrindavan, Bal Gaura-Nitai’s mischief increased manifold. They started involving other residents of the Dham and even visitors in their lila (pastimes). Hungry for offerings made with love, Gaura-Nitai’s mischief inspired people to make offerings to the temple. Once Gaura-Nitai asked Pisi Ma for sandals, but, since she didn’t want Them to leave her even for a moment she simply told Them, “What do You want with sandals? You do not have to go anywhere”. So, Gaura-Nitai remained on the watch for some other devotee who might be willing to arrange sandals. In the month of Shravan, a woman from Serpura Beguda in West Bengal came to Vrindavana. She was lodged near Gaura-Nitai’s temple. It was raining and Pisi Ma was sitting on the temple veranda. With her left hand, she was pulling the rope attached to Gaura-Nitai’s fan. With her right hand, she was chanting on her beads. It began to rain very hard. Pisi Ma dozed off a little. At that time, she saw that Nitai had left the temple and was running about the courtyard in the water. Gaura followed Him. Pisi Ma shrieked, “Oh! Where are you going? You’ll catch a cold!” This dream was clear, as if it wasn’t a dream at all, but, she kept pulling on the fan and dozed off again. Meanwhile, Nitai-Gaura had entered the room of the woman from Serpura Begud who was also sleeping at that time. Gaura-Nitai sat at the end of the bed. Shaking Their heads, they said, “Have you come here to sleep? Get up!” In her sleeping state, the woman mumbled, “Wha… who are you?” “Our names are Nitai and Gaura; we are the sons of Pisi Ma of Bankhandi. People in the neighbourhood just call us Pisi Ma’s boys. Everybody in Vrindavan knows we’re her children.” “Why have you comehere?” “We have come to say that we do not have sandals. You please arrange for us. See how our feet are soiled without sandals.” Upon seeing Gaura-Nitai’s extraordinary beauty, the woman became fascinated. She had never before imagined such beauty. Awakening, she began to cry. Weeping thus, she left the house, even though it was still pouring rain. On the road, she asked anybody she saw where Pisi Ma’s children lived. A Brajawasi showed her Nitai Gaura’s temple at Bankhandi. The woman went inside. Pisi Ma was still pulling the fan and chanting. The woman asked, “Is this the house of Pisi Ma?” “Yes, mother, this is the home of Gaura-Nitai, the sons of Pisi Ma. Why are you crying?” “Where are your two sons? I want to see them,” the highly agitated woman said. Pisi Ma respectfully seated the woman and opened the curtain. After taking Gaura-Nitai’s darshan, which exactly resembled the vision in her dream, the woman burst into tears and she began to tremble. She was simply unable to do anything at all. For a long time she remained on the floor in a faint. Upon coming to consciousness and controlling herself, she related the whole story of her dream to Pisi Ma. Pisi Ma too told of what she had seen. For quite some time, both simply remained in an embrace, shedding tears of ecstasy. That fortunate woman later brought silver shoes for Gaura-Nitai, which remain in Their possession even today. Nitai and Gaura continue to use them with love. Another lady from Serpura Beguda, Prasanna Dasi, lived in Vrndavana. One day she dreamt that Gaura and Nitai, decorated with all kinds of dazzling ornaments came before her. Showing Their lotus feet, which were marked with flag, ankusa (elephant goad), thunderbolt, etc. They said: “Look at all the ornaments We have, but We don’t have nupura (ankle bells). Give us nupura.” Upon awakening, Prasanna Dasi went to Pisi Ma and narrated the whole story with tears of love streaming from her eyes. She had special ankle bells made and, after these golden nupura on Gaura-Nitai’s lotus feet, her life became successful. For some days, a babaji who was a very pure, dear servant of Lord, was assisting Pisi Ma in serving Nitai Gaura. An idea arose in his mind and, opening the temple door at night, he stole Gaura-Nitai’s ornaments. Arising early the next morning, Pisi Ma was horrified to see that the door was open and the Deities were without Their jewels. In her mind, she said to Gaura Nitai, “Boy’s, why don’t you tell me who robbed you of your ornaments?” Full of anxiety, she fell down on the veranda of the temple and remained there, devastated. In her daze, Gaura Nitai said to her, “Ma, that Babaji who serves us is very poor, but he fed us brothers so much rabdi (sweets), so we gave our jewellery to him. Please, don’t say anything to him about this.” Pisi Ma wondered how she could get more jewellery. She had already left her own wealth long ago, coming to Vrindavana in beggar’s dress. She laughed and said, “Very well. You do what you like. Give your ornaments to whomsoever you like. I know that if you want them again, you will get them from someone. You do not feel shy about begging since you are the sons of Brahmins”. Just like children who go insist on having something only to get quickly detached from that thing, Gaura Nitai gave away the ornaments that people had given them, and, all who were involved in these pastimes had benefited. In another dream, Gaura-Nitai told Pisi Ma, “Take us out for Braja-mandala-parikrama.” Being a loving mother, Pisi Ma wanted to make her children happy, so she readied a palanquin and assembled some devotees and they set out the very next day. The Deities were extremely happy on this trip. After a month or so, when They were concluding the parikrama and were at the outskirts of Mathura, Pisi Ma went with a devotee named Vishnudasa, to make some purchases. Mathuradasa followed behind with the palanquin. At that time, there were British soldiers camped in Mathura. Some of the soldiers were curious about the spectacle of the parikrama procession. Pointing at the palanquin, they asked, “What’s in that?” Mathuradasa replied, “There are deities inside.” The soldiers garrulously said, “Show the deities to us!” He replied in a very humble voice, “Sir, this is not the time for their darshan” The soldiers overwhelmed him and tried to see the Deities. At that very moment, a blinding flash of light bolted from the palanquin blasting the soldiers away, and scorching their eyes. Screaming out, “Oh God!” they fled in terror. When Mathuradasa later narrated the whole episode to Pisi Ma, she said, “I am happy to know that my children are now capable of self defence. So I need not worry about their safety”. Pisi Ma thus passed many years, serving Gaura-Nitai faithfully. Even when she was 100 years old, she continued to take three baths daily in the sacred Yamuna and personally performed Gaura-Nitai’s seva. But, gradually, this became impossible for her to continue, so, she entrusted their worship to Gopesvara Goswami, a devotee in the family line of Lord Nityananda. Goswami was a staunch bhakta but wasn’t very experienced in Deity seva. Thus he happened to bathe Gaura-Nitai in cool water once, at the beginning of the cold season. They caught a cold and Their noses began to drip. But Gopesvara Goswami didn’t even notice this. Pisi Ma mostly stayed on the second floor as she could not easily negotiate the stairs anymore but, whenever she was needed, she came downstairs. When she came down from her room, Pisi Ma saw that Gaura-Nitai’s eyes were red and Their noses were dripping. She touched them and realized that They were feverish. She could not bear this. She wiped Their noses with the edge of her sari and called for Gopesvara Goswami. Crying, she said in disbelief, “What have you done? You have bathed my children in cold water and made them ill. See what a severe cold they have caught and how their noses are running”. Gopesvara didn’t believe it and he told her so. Pisi Ma bristled with anger. She held the end of her sari so that Goswami could see it and said, “Gaura-Nitai’s mucus!” But Goswami still did not believe her, so Pisi Ma put her Sari next to Gaura’s nose and said, “Babu, sneeze a bit”. Gaura sneezed. This filled the temple with an unprecedented, divine fragrance from beyond this world. Astonished and full of remorse, Goswamiji fell at Pisi Ma’s feet and begged forgiveness. Pisi Ma was very particular about all aspects of service. It was her habit to put ten lamps above the temple doorway every evening. On the evening of Kojagara-purnima, she used to bring Gaura-Nitai out to enjoy Themselves on the veranda. One Kojagara-purnima, after the evening aarati, Goswami went out somewhere. He extinguished the ten lamps, since their oil was expensive. That evening, Gaura Nitai were not even taken out onto the veranda. In the temple, only one flame was burning, in a large brass ghee lamp. Suddenly, there was a loud sound. The temple was then engulfed in darkness. Gaura had lifted up the lamp and thrown it into a corner of the temple. It took no time for Pisi Ma to understand the anger of Gaura. Upon Goswami’s return, she said, “Gopesvara! You didn’t take Gaura-Nitai out on the veranda. You also put out the ten lamps. See how angry Gaura is. He has thrown away the lamp and is sitting in darkness. Why do you act like this?” When she was 106, Pisima mentioned to Gopesvara Gosvami that she would soon leave her body. On that very day, she gave up her earthly body and entered the eternal pastimes of the Lord. Sri Gopesvara Gosvami and Srimati Pisi Ma’s Gaura-Nitai Once, after the disappearance of Gosvamini Pisi Ma, Gopesvara Goswami became dreadfully ill with smallpox and was bedridden for a month. He eventually lost the power to speak and fell into a coma. Late one night, he saw that a fearsome demoness was trying to take him away, but then Pisi Ma Gosvamini and Gaura-Nitai appeared and the demoness went away. Nitai stroked Gopesvara’s limbs with His transcendental hand and said, “Oh, get up, if you keep on lying like this, who will bring out food. Get up, we are very hungry!” Shortly thereafter, Goswami regained consciousness and coughed up a great deal of phlegm. Sitting up in bed, it then seemed that there was no more disease in his body. Gopesvara Goswami was a brahmacari from childhood. Before coming to the service of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, he used to travel around pilgrimage places. It was against his nature to be bound to one place. Therefore he initially hadn’t wanted to accept the service of Gaura-Nitai. But, being helpless in the face of Pisi Ma’s insistence, and Gaura-Nitai calling him, he had to accept the seva. Goswami would personally do all of the cooking, offer all of the bhogas, do every aarti, all of the dressing, singing kirtans and even scrubbed Thakuraji’s pots himself. Some time after Pisi Ma’s disappearance, Gopesvara Prabhu began to think, “What have I gained from all of this seva? Nothing has happened. If I would have done bhajan in solitude, I would have attained something”. Thinking in this way, he entrusted the temple service to someone else and went to Kusuma Sarovara with the intent of doing solitary bhajan. At midnight on the third day, while seated beneath a Bakula tree on the bank of the Sarovara, he saw a transcendental vision – a light appeared in the center of the pond and slowly came towards him. Soon, Nitai and Gaura were there with him under the tree. They stood before him and said, “Dada! For three days we have not taken any food or water. Why have you gone away? Will you not come to us again?” As Gopesvara Gosvami had attained what he wanted, what objection could he have in going back to serve Them? From the time that Goswami began worshipping Pisi Ma’s children, they adapted themselves for him. He wanted to serve Thakurji in sakhya-rasa (as a friend) so Pisi Ma helped her children ‘grow up’ by putting her hand under their chin and raising them up so that they became taller. This was yet another miracle associated with these very special deities, whose mischievous ways have pulled so many devotees deeper into Their service.
(Adapted from The Saints of Braj by OBL Kapoor, Aravali Books International, Delhi)