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by Bhaktivinode Thakur (translated by Bhanu Swami)
Acceptance of the Gauranga Avatara. The Supreme position of Gauranga and Navadvipa Dhama.
All glories to the moon of Navadvipa the son of Saci, All glories to Nityananda Raya, the avadhuta, All glories to Sri Advaita, the Supreme Lord, All glories to Gadadhara and Srivas Pandit, Glory to the Dhama of Navadvipa, the essence of all dhamas, Glory to the residents, the associates of Gauranga.
Paying respects to the feet of all the devotees, I will describe in brief Navadvipa Dhama. Even the demigods like Brahma do not know the extent of the unlimited glories of Navadvipa Mandala, so who can possibly describe that Dhama fully? Since the thousand-mouthed Sesa cannot describe it completely, how can I, an insignificant living entity do so? Even Siva can find no end to the unlimited glories of Navadvipa Dhama. However, the desire of Sri Caitanya is foremost, and according to that wish the devotees have given an order. Therefore, through the mercy of the devotees, I hereby relate the glories of Nadiya.
There is one other topic I would like to mention. And it is a confidential matter, I hesitate to disclose it. But on the other hand I cannot resist telling it, for Lord Caitanya instructed the devotees to publicize the topic of His transcendental pastimes (lila) and His transcendental abode (dhama) after He has disappeared from this planet. Though Sri Caitanya is the most concealed of all avataras, I know well that He is all in all. However, because His confidential activities are discussed ambiguously in scripture, in a covered way, the non-devotees cannot realize them. Whatever references to Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes were recorded in the scriptures had long been kept hidden by Maya Devi, illusion personified. Covering the eyes of scholars, she kept these references in the revealed scriptures, hidden from view.
However, when Gauranga had completed His pastimes on earth, His obedient servant, Maya Devi, knowing the desire of the Lord, lifted the illusion from the eyes of the living entities, and by that revealed to this material universe the true nature of Sri Gauranga. The hidden scriptures became visible, and all the difficulties in understanding Lord Caitanya came to an end. It was the all merciful Nityananda Prabhu who revealed the truth about Gauranga in the hearts of the living entities. On his command, Maya pulled away the covering so that the pure devotee scholars could receive the treasure of the precious scriptures.
Therefore, if one remains doubtful in spite of all these proofs from the scriptures, one is considered most unfortunate and useless. Why bother living any longer? When Nityananda Prabhu distributed the mercy, the fortunate living entities accepted and reached the perfection of happiness. One should know who the unfortunate living entity is as well: it is he who, confident of the power of his own intelligence, rejects the mercy of the Lord. In that way, by the force of his false logic, he falls repeatedly in to the pit of illusion.
"Come, spirit soul of Kali yuga! Give up this hypocrisy and just accept the pure ecstatic love of Sri Gauranga!" In this way Nityananda Prabhu would call out again and again. But the unfortunate living entities die not accept.
Now let us consider carefully why these people do not accept such wonderful love of God: In pursuit of happiness, the living entities in the material world follow various processes, such as logic or mystic yoga. And, in quest of happiness, some give up the material world and go to the forest, while others wage constant wars. Desiring happiness, others run after women and wealth, while others take to arts and sciences. In pursuit of happiness others reject happiness and learn to tolerate the miseries of life, and still other simply drown themselves in the ocean.
Raising His lotus hands in the air, Lord Nityananda exclaims, "Come, living entities! Give up the troubles of regulated fruitive activity (Karma) and mental speculation (Jnana) which aim only at the comfort of body and mind. Since you are endeavoring for happiness, I will give you happiness without asking anything in exchange. In this happiness there is no trouble, no loss, and no need to undergo pain. Just shout the name of Gauranga and dance without reservation. The happiness that I am giving is beyond compare, for it is positive, pure, ecstatic, eternal transcendental bliss which is completely beyond illusion!"
The devas, the rsis, and the eleven Rudras reside in different parts of Navadvipa, spending out their lives in austerities, but still they do not get Nityananda's mercy. As long as one holds to bodily consciousness, and as long as one does not feel oneself in the position of humility, one cannot obtain the treasure of the mercy of Sri Caitanya and Sri Nityananda, no matter what efforts one make, even if he be Siva or Brahma. All this shall be explained latter. Just hear it with faith and attention, oh brother.
In these spiritual topics, give up argumentation and material logic, for it is useless and inauspicious. The transcendental pastimes of Sri Caitanya are deep ocean, whereas the process of material logic is simply troublesome, like the sheath covering the banana flower. Whoever wants to cross the ocean of material existence by dry reasoning power will see his efforts in vain. He will receive nothing. But, on the other hand, giving up argumentation and taking to the process of sadhu and sastra, the guidance of scripture and devotee, one will soon receive Sri Caitanya, for at the order of Nityananda Prabhu, the sruti (Veda), the smriti (Puranas) and tantra sastras are continuously singing the glories of Navadvipa Dhama. By reading these scriptures and accepting the words of the devotees, one will realize the actual Navadvipa Dhama.
In Kali yuga all holy places are extremely weak. Only Navadvipa is supremely strong. However, by the Lord's desire, this tirtha was invisible for a long period of time and its glories lay unrevealed. When the influence of Kali yuga increased, naturally the holy places lost their power. At that time. desiring the good fortune of all living entities, the Supreme Lord began to think.
"Upon diagnosing a disease, a doctor makes the patient drink an appropriate medicine. Accordingly, for a severe disease, a strong medicine is needed. As Kali yuga has become terrible and the disease is serious, without a strong medicine, it cannot be cured. If I do not reveal the Dhama, the name, and my form, which I have been holding secretly for so long, how will the living entities ever recover? The living entities are my servants, and I am their Lord. If I do not help them, they will never get free."
Saying this, the Lord revealed Himself on earth, with His name, His Dhama, and His associates. The Lord promises eternally that He will deliver the living entities and free them from all the troubles of material existence.
Gauranga said, "I will distribute freely the treasure which even Brahma cannot obtain. This time I will not distinguish who is suitable and who is unsuitable to receive the treasure. Seeing how Kali is destroying these living entities, I will appear in Navadvipa Dhama, and there I will break the poisonous teeth of Kali by taking the devotees with Me and performing chanting of the Holy Names of God. As long as my name is sung, Kali will be controlled."
Saying this, Gaura Hari appeared by His own internal spiritual potency at Navadvipa. Withdrawing the covering of illusion, Gauracandra revealed His eternal pastimes in the land of Navadvipa.
Therefore, seeing no one in this universe more unfortunate, lamentable, and destitute as one who in Kali yuga does not worship such a merciful Lord as Sri Caitanya, and who rejects such an inconceivably powerful Dhama as Navadvipa, give up all other desires and attractions, and simply fix your mind intently on Navadvipa Dhama.
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, who is aspiring for the shade of the lotus feet of Jahnava and Nitai, reveals these truths.
Measurement of the Dhama. Nityananda's special mercy. The necessity of the Dhama in Kali yuga.
All glories to the moon of Navadvipa, the son of Saci, All glories to Nityananda, the avadhuta, All glories to Navadvipa Dhama, the chief of spiritual abodes.
The Dhama of Navadvipa, within Gaura Mandala, and served by the Ganges, is situated in eternal splendor. Gaura Mandala itself is twenty one yojanas or one hundred sixty eight miles in circumference, with the Ganges running through the center. This Gaura Mandala takes the form of a hundred petalled lotus, with the most beautiful Navadvipa in the center. The central stamen portion of the flower, known as Antardvipa, is five krosas or ten miles in perimeter, and the measurement of the primary flower of eight petals, which composes Navadvipa, is four yojanas or thirty two miles around. Outside this are the hundred petals of the whole of Gaura Mandala, whose circumference is twenty one yojanas or one hundred sixty eight miles. The center point, situated in Navadvipa, is the Yoga Pitha, the sacred place where the Lord advented Himself on earth. This place is transcendentally pure.
The whole of Gaura Mandala is cintamani, or touchstone, yielding all desires. The Dhama is full of knowledge and bliss, and is completely conscious. In the Dhama, the water, the land, the trees and all else are conscious entities, unlike the dull matter of this material world. Situated in the Dhama are Krsna's three spiritual energies - sandhini, samvit, and hladini - through which the whole spiritual realm becomes manifested. The original energy of Krsna, called the svarupa sakti, has the above mentioned three divisions. Of these the sandhini energy or sat potency, which supports all existence, finds its perfect function in the manifestation of the eternal Dhama. Eternal purity is the character of the Dhama. In that position, the Dhama acts eternally as the base or support for the Lord's appearance and His activities. All this is the action of the inconceivable energy of the Lord, which is anti-material and completely transcendental.
One who sees in the Dhama only the activities of material nature is a conditioned soul under the influence of ignorance and illusion. When a person's eyes are covered by a cloud, that person may think that the sun is covered, but actually the sun can never come under the influence of a cloud and become covered. The form of Gaura Mandala, eternally transcendental to the material world, is like the sun. The materialist's eyes are covered by the cloud of illusion, and because of this he sees only the secondary transformations of that spiritual energy, the dull inert material world.
Whoever gets the mercy of Lord Nityananda, the master of the sandhini potency, can see that blissful, conscious, transcendental Dhama. In that Dhama of Navadvipa are eternally present holy rivers such as the Ganga and Yamuna, and in various places are situated the seven holy cities such as Prayag. Gaura Mandala is indeed directly the spiritual world. Now, one who is a fortunate living entity, can see this pure realm, whereas the shadow of Lord's spiritual energy, Maya, on the orders of the Lord, spreads her influence of illusion to cover the eyes of those living entities who have turned away from the Lord. All such people never see the glories of the spiritual Dhama. But those people who live constantly in the spiritual realm of Gaura Mandala are highly fortunate; they are living outside the bounds of the material world. The demigods in the heavenly planets, in great awe, see these people as having beautiful four-handed forms of bluish complexion, like the residents of Vaikuntha, the spiritual world.
Within the sixteen krosas of this Navadvipa Dhama, the numerous residents, who are golden in complexion, are constantly engaged in singing the glories of the Lord. Brahma and the other demigods come from outer space and worship them in various ways.
Brahma says, "When will I become so fortunate to take birth as a blade of grass in Navadvipa Dhama? At that time I will receive the dust from the feet of the devotees who are engaged in serving the lotus feet of Sri Gauranga. Alas, Lord Caitanya has cheated me, for he has placed me in charge of the management of the universe. When will the knots of karma, the reactions to my sinful activities be cut, when will my illusion that I am the supreme authority cease and when will I simply become a pure servant of the Lord and take up the shelter of His lotus feet?
In this way Nityananda Prabhu begged everyone to take pure ecstatic love. However, the unfortunate, under the effects of their previous bad activities, did not even want it. How unfortunate indeed. Even he who says the name of Gauranga and Nitai once puts an end to unlimited sinful activities.
Listen now to one more confidential topic. The most suitable thing for the souls of Kali yuga is this treasure of Gauranga lila. In the form of Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana, our Lord is performing eternal pastimes, but though the Radha Krsna lila and the glories of Vraja Dhama are known through scriptures to all people, actually obtaining Krsna Prema is not at all common. Let us contemplate the reason why.
Here lies the secret of secrets, which the maya-bound living entities cannot discern. If one has heaps of offenses, even worshipping Krsna birth after birth will not give love of God. Only by chanting the name of Krsna after being freed of offenses can one receive continuous Krishna Prema. However, Sri Caitanya avatara is different. A serious person, though filled with offenses has the possibility of quickly obtaining love of God. When the living entities call out the name of merciful Nitai and Caitanya, Krsna Prema comes looking for those people. The offenses do not block the way, and they shed tears of ecstasy out of pure love of God. Very quickly, by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, all the offenses will flee, the heart will become pure, and love of God will fully blossom. Furthermore, the offenses of Kali yuga souls in particular are beyond counting. Therefore, there can be no other deliverance than Gauranga's name. I see no alternative to Sri Gauranga. This is the proclamation of the scriptures.
That Sri Gauranga appeared in Navadvipa. Therefore Navadvipa is the crest jewel of all holy places. At other holy pilgrimage places offending persons become the object of punishment, but at the merciful Navadvipa Dhama the same person becomes purified. The example of Jagai and Madhai is given. Though they committed great offenses, they still received Nitai and Gaura. What to speak of other places, at Vrndavana the offenders are punished. But a person who has committed hundreds of offenses, by the great mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, who functions as the purifier of the living entities, can overcome those offenses in Navadvipa Dhama and attain the platform of pure spiritual existence. For that reason the sages praise Navadvipa Dhama of Gaura Mandala without end.
He who lives in Navadvipa Dhama is very fortunate, for he procures attraction for Krsna. He who happens to go there becomes freed from all offenses. What one attains by travelling to all holy places is attained by just remembering Navadvipa. In this way the scriptures sing. He who sees Navadvipa Dhama gets ecstatic love of Krsna birth after birth, and even he who comes to Navadvipa with mind intent on gaining material comforts through pious activity will surpass human birth. One who walks around Navadvipa and chants mantras obtains the sound of Caitanya as his mantra, and easily gets free from maya. What is obtained by yogis after ten years is obtained in Navadvipa in three nights. That liberation attained by discipline of impersonal speculation at other holy places is obtained simply by bathing in the Ganga at Navadvipa. Thus, all types of liberation - salokya, sarupya, samipya, sarsti and nirvana can be obtained in Navadvipa without speculative practice.
Falling at the feet of the pure devotees in Navadvipa, material enjoyment (bhukti) and liberation (mukti) remain there as obedient servants. The devotees, not caring for their blessings, kick them away, but the two personalities do not run away and give up the devotees feet. They stay ready to give their blessings if required. Therefore, whatever one gets at the seven holy pilgrimage places by staying a hundred years can be attained in Navadvipa Dhama by staying only one night.
In conclusion, Navadvipa is the topmost tirtha. Taking shelter of it the living entities can cross over Kali yuga. At this place, the name "Rama" which gives liberation, and the name "Krsna" which gives the love of God, constantly serve the devotees of the Dhama.
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, who is aspiring for the shade of the lotus feet of Nitai and Jahnava, thus sings in bliss.
Further Description of the Dhama and the rules for Parikrama.
All glories to the moon of Navadvipa, the son of Saci, All glories to Nityananda Raya, the avadhuta, All glories to Sri Advaita Prabhu, All glories to Gadadhara and Srivasa Pandit, All glories to the Dhama of Navadvipa, The topmost Dhama where Gauracandra appeared.
Now hear, brothers, of the things that I shall describe in the sixteen krosas of Navadvipa Dhama.
Within the sixteen krosas circumference of Navadvipa there exists eternally sixteen streams. On the eastern bank of the main Ganga are four islands and on the western bank there are five islands. The different tributaries of the Ganga surround these islands and give the Dhama its splendor. The main Ganga rests in the middle, while in the tributaries are present other pious rivers. Near the Ganga flows the Yamuna, and elsewhere is the Sarasvati River. East of the Yamuna are the long streams of the Tamraparni, the Krtamala and the Brahmaputra. The Sarayu, the Narmada, the Sindhu, the Kaveri, and the Gomati flow swiftly along with the Godavari crosswise. All these streams intersect to form the different islands of Navadvipa.
Following the desires of the Lord, sometimes the streams dry up, and then again by His wish they flow again with water; by the Lord's wish sometimes places become covered with water and by His wish they again become visible. The Dhama enacts its lila endlessly in this way, but at the same time, that Dhama is permanently visible to the fortunate living entity. If a devotee has acute desire in his heart, all the islands and all the streams will be visible. By devotion the Dhama is visible in dreams, in meditation, and to the naked eye.
The island which lies at the junction of the Ganga and Yamuna is Antardvipa, called such in all sastras. And in Antardvipa lies the holy sanctuary of Mayapur, where Lord Caitanya appeared. Know, devotees, that the Mahavana in the center of Gokula is none other than Mayapur of Navadvipa. In Navadvipa reside Svetadvipa, Vaikuntha, Gokula, and Vrndavana at all times. The seven sacred cities of Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya, Kasi, Kanci, Avanti, and Dvaraka, all have their respective places in Navadvipa, through the hand of Gauracandra. The city of Maya, situated at Gangadvara (Haridvara), has its corresponding form as Mayapur at Navadvipa Dhama. The glories of this particular place are sung profusely in scripture. If one goes to Mayapur one time, he becomes easily freed from the bondage of maya, and if one walks throughout Mayapur, the power of maya will go far away and the repetition of births will cease.
North of Mayapura lies Simantadvipa. Sadhu and sastra have explained the rules of parikrama. After having darshan of Antardvipa's Mayapura, one goes to Simantadvipa, then go to Godrumadvipa to the south of Mayapura, after which one should go to Madhyadvipa. These are the four islands on the east bank of the Ganga. Then cross the Ganga reverently. Having walked around Koladvipa at leisure, then take darshan of Rtudvipa. After seeing the most beautiful Jahnudvipa, go to Modadrumadvipa and Rudradvipa. Then cross the Ganga, and walk back to Mayapur. There enter respectfully into the temple of Jagannatha Misra and Saci Devi and take darshan of the Lord, This is the procedure for parikrama. Doing this, the living entities will obtain unlimited bliss.
The best time is considered to be from the tithi of Makara saptami until the purnima of Phalguna. The fortunate soul who, finishing his parikrama, takes darshan of Mayapura on the birthday of Lord Caitanya, receives the shade of the lotus feet of Nitai and Caitanya, who are distribution their mercy, and gets the qualification to take to devotional service.
Briefly I have given the description of the rules for parikrama, and now, in detail, I will describe everything. Therefore, please listen. Whoever wanders the twenty one yojanas (168 miles) of Gaura Mandala will quickly obtain the treasure of Gaura Prema.
With the desire to obtain the shade of the lotus feet of Jahnava and Nitai, Srila Bhaktivinode reveals these truths.
Meeting of Nityananda Prabhu and Jiva Gosvami. Description of Navadvipa and Vrndavana.
All glories to the moon of Navadvipa, the son of Saci, All glories to Nityananda Raya, the avadhuta, All glories to the topmost dhama, Navadvipa, Where Sri Caitanya took His advent.
By staying here only one day, one attains the results of staying at all other tirthas.
I sing this description of Navadvipa parikrama referring to scripture. Listen, therefore, oh saintly people. The sastric writings, the words of the Vaisnavas, the teachings of the Lord, these three are my life. Taking shelter of these three, I shall describe the rules for travelling throughout Nadiya. Listen everyone!
When Sri Jiva Gosvami as a young man, crying "Nadiya, Nadiya!" departed from his home at Candradvipa in great confusion, as he travelled along the roads, he would simply lament.
"Oh Gauranga, Nityananda, life of the living entities, when will You show mercy on me and give me Your darshan?"
Again and again he would say, "Navadvipa, the topmost dhama, when will I see you?"
It was a startling sight to see the young, beautiful Gosvami leading the life of most extreme renunciation.
Travelling for some days, he arrived at Navadvipa, the abode of love of God. Seeing the city from a distance, he paid his dandavats and became almost unconscious. After some time he gathered himself together and shivering in ecstasy entered the town of Navadvipa. When he came to Barakona Ghat he asked, "Where is Nityananda Prabhu? Please let me see Him."
One devotee seeing the elevated state of emotion of Jiva Gosvami, offered to take him to where Nityananda was staying. Just at that time, Nityananda began roaring with laughter, for internally He was experiencing great spiritual ecstasy on perceiving that Sri Jiva was coming to Him. He gave the order to bring Jiva there.
A crowd of Vaisnavas went to call him. Upon seeing one person showing signs of ecstasy, they understood that he must be Jiva Gosvami. Filled with love, some came forward to reveal the words of Nityananda Prabhu. Just on hearing the name Nityananda, Jiva fell unconscious.
After a few seconds he got up and exclaimed, "Oh, I am greatly fortunate. Though the lowest of men, I have received the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu."
Paying his dandavats to all with a glad heart he said, "If you show mercy to me, then I can get the mercy of Nityananda. This is the verdict of scripture."
Seeing the spiritual advancement of Jiva Gosvami, some of the Vaisnavas took the dust from his feet on their heads with great celebration. Then they took him to Nityananda's place.
Nityananda surrounded by devotees, was speaking about Krsna. Seeing that transcendental form of Nityananda, Jiva's body became transformed with extraordinary emotions.
"What a wonderful form I have seen today!" he exclaimed and fell unconscious.
Swayed by great compassion, Nityananda raised up Jiva Gosvami and accepted him as His own.
Overcome with emotion, Jiva stood with his hands folded and began to speak to his Lord.
"You are the form of the universe, the abode of the universe, Balarama. What can I know of Your qualities? You are my eternal master, I am Your servant. My only aspiration is the shade of Your lotus feet. That person to whom You give mercy easily gets the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya and drowns in the water of prema. Without Your mercy no one will get Gaura, even if he worships Gaura for a hundred lives. Sometimes Gauranga may punish someone, but You will protect that person, and if You punish someone, Gaura will punish him more. Therefore, Lord, only on the strength of my past devotional activities, I accept the shelter of Your lotus feet. Be merciful and give permission that I may receive the darshan of Gauranga and gain attraction for Him."
"Gauranga accepted my uncles when He was in Ramakeli. At that time, I saw the form of Gauranga and I wept. Falling at Gauranga's feet and touching His body, I became filled with bliss. Henceforth that form remained in my mind. At that time the Lord told me to study scripture, and when I had finished, to go to Navadvipa, where I could receive the lotus feet of Nityananda Prabhu. With that order on my head, I got as much knowledge as I could. But though I studied all the books in Candradvipa, I could not get a suitable Vedanta
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