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INTRODUCTION

The Isodyana at Sridhama Mayapura

Thakura Bhaktivinoda composed three very important books regarding the transcendental realm of Sri Navadvipa Dhama: (1) Sri Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya (Parikrama Khanda), (2) Sri Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya (Pramana Khanda), (3) Sri Navadvipa Bhava Taranga.

The first book is used by many devotees from different branches of the Gaudiya sampradaya to assist their performance of parikrama, or circumambulation of the holy places scattered over the 16 krosas (32 square miles) of this holy abode. The second book contains the scriptural evidence concerning the location and glorification of these holy places manifest in nine islands. And the third book (the present volume) is an astonishing and enchanting description of Sri Navadvipa Dhama as it appears to the bhava-siddha-nayana (eyes perfected in divine ecstatic emotion) when seen in the state of bhakti-yoga-samadhi (absolute trance in devotional service). Although seemingly small in size (168 simple Bengali verses), the position of this work amongst the literatures of bhajana-giti (devotional songbooks) is very, very exalted. Upon reading it only once, a loving devotee will not be able to give it up - it will necessarily be cultivated with a melted heart again and again.

A specifically important feature of this book is that through his eyes of love in the state of bhava-samadhi, Bhaktivinoda has described the mysterious and cardinal place known as Isodyana, or "The Lord's Garden". Within this material world, there is no historical or geographical reference to such a spot. Therefore Prabhupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, who knows the inner intentions of his father, Thakura Bhaktivinoda, and who was very expert in fulfilling his wishes, duly excavated this place and many others for the benefit of the world. On the bank of Prithu Kunda (near the hill of Ballala Dighi) Srila Sarasvati Thakura manifested the lake known as Sri Radha Kunda, and upon its bank he reconstructed the Isodyana that was described by Sri Bhaktivinoda. This area, served by members of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's institution Sri Chaitanya Matha is also the site of the samadhi mandira (memorial tomb) of Paramahamsa Babaji Srila Gaurakisora dasa Gosvami Maharaja, who is an eternal resident of this Isodyana. Quite appropriately, this Garden has been planted with numerous varieties of flora that are favourable to Krsna's service such as fruit trees, flowering vines, plus all kinds of exotic foliage.

Whoever sincerely reads the Navadvipa Bhava Taranga of Om Vishnupada Sri Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura takes into their heart his moods of eagerly desiring to worship the Lord in "The Lord's Garden." By the mercy of their spiritual master, and each according to their own capacity of spiritual qualification, the respective devotees advance in their understanding of the brilliant reality of this eternal Garden, which is yet invisible to mortal eyes.

The contrast between material and spiritual vision is nicely illustrated by the Thakura in the following verses:


        One whose eyes are covered by material illusion sees only a
        small house situated here, plus some ordinary earth, water and
        a few articles. But if maya becomes merciful and lifts her
        covering, then one sees a grand spiritual dwelling. /11/


        Why should the fallen rascal souls of Kali-yuga, bound up
        tightly by material illusion, have the privilege of seeing all
        these eternal, fully spiritual and limitless treasures of the
        divine realm? Maya has therefore hidden the Dhama by means of
        the erosive, ever-changing nature of the three rivers Ganga,
        Yamuna, and Sarasvati. Thus the eyes of the materialist can
        see only a shadow of the real Mayapur. /16/

The place called Isodyana is mentioned throughout the poetic verses of Navadvipa Bhava Taranga, specifically in verses 15, 26-29, 42, 70, 163 and 166. Thakura Bhaktivinoda, the best of the rupanuga bhaktas, has informed us of his confidential bhajana performed at this transcendental Garden in the following verses:


        In the southern portion of Mayapur, on the bank of the river
        Ganga and very near its junction with the river Sarasvati, is
        the extensive grove called Isodyana [the Lord's Garden]. May
        that Garden be the place of my eternal devotion. /26/


        In this Garden, my Lord Sri Sacinandana performs His midday
        pastimes along with His devotees. Seeing the brilliance of
        this grove, I am reminded of the area of Radha Kunda in Braja.
        May this scene be eternally visible to my eyes. /27/


        Huge trees and dark vines appear very dense. Among the foliage
        are various types of birds singing the transcendental
        qualities of Lord Gaura. There is a large lake and an
        extremely opulent temple glowing with pure gold inlaid with
        diamonds as well as blue and yellow sapphires. /28/


        The materialists, with their eyes bewildered by the illusion
        of material sense perception, and who are envious of the Lord,
        can never see these groves. Rather, they see only a small
        piece of land covered with thorns, periodically thrown into
        utter disruption by the forceful flooding of the river Ganga.
        /29/


        Living in my private grove next to Isodyana [the Lord's
        Garden
]
I will worship the greatest treasure - the Divine
        Couple Sri Sri Radha and Krsna, Who are non-different from the
        moonlike Sri Gauranga. /163/

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