Mahaprabhu had just started on his pilgrimage to the South from Nilachal. On the way He came to a holy place called Kurmasthan. He spent a whole day there, singing and dancing in ecstasy, the entire populace joining Him in singing the Lord’s name.
Next morning, He left the place and proceeded onward on his pada-yatra. Immediately after His departure, a Brahmin named Basudev Bipra came there to see the Lord.
Basudev was a very devout man, but was afflicted with leprosy. But he was totally oblivious of his condition, as he used to be absorbed in his devotion to God and his faith was very strong. His body was of no concern to him although it was full of sores that were seeping and infested with maggots.
The worms were his only companions, as the foul odour from his body kept people far away from him.
If one of the maggots would fall off his body, he would carefully pick it up and place it back on his body.
One night he heard that the Lord Himself had come in the guise of a sannyasi, singing the Lord’s name and roaming from place to place. Desperate to have a glimpse of the Lord, Basudev Bipra started moving towards Kurmasthan.
Feeble and ill, his progress was slow, as he sometimes walked, sometimes sat and sometimes crawled towards his destination.
By the time he arrived Mahaprabhu had already left that place. On finding Him gone, Basudev wept “O Lord, I could not get your darshan!” In the agony of his despair, he fainted.
At that very moment, somewhere on the road, Mahaprabhu stopped in his tracks, as if He was carefully hearing something. “I am coming” He said and turned around and started back towards Kurmasthan.
Fast as lightning, He reached that place where Basudev was lying on the ground, sobbing in disappointment. Lifting him up with both His arms, Mahaprabhu locked Basudev in a tight embrance.
On the Lord’s divine touch, Basudev’s leprosy was immediately cured and he was released from all bondage. Basudev found that his body had been transformed into a lustrous golden colour, with no trace of his disease!
Falling at the feet of Mahaprabhu, he wept, “Lord of Mercy, what have you done. No one dares to come close to me and you have held me close to your heart, which is the residence of Sri Lakshmi!! Only the Supreme God is capable of such action, as both the deserving and undeserving are both dear to You. But now, I am in anxiety. As long as I was an untouchable my mind was free of pride, which is why I could attain You. But now that I have got a beautiful body, I am afraid that I will not remain humble anymore. Once pride enters my mind, then I will lose You.”
Hearing these words of Basudev, Mahaprabhu’s heart melted and tears streamed down his eyes. He thought, “Today Basudev has defeated me.”
He addressed Basudev, “A Devotee like you will never be overtaken by arrogance. Your duty now is to serve the people of Utkal with devotion, bringing them close to God. Your life should be a seva yagya.” Saying this, He departed.
Basudev Bipra was a physician by profession. Thus directed by Mahaprabhu, he spent the rest of his life bringing succour to the sick and needy in Orissa.