“What one attains by travelling to all the holy places is attained just by remembering the transcendental abode of Navadvipa” –
Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead ,had mercifully appeared here at Yogpeeth (in Mayapur) about 500 years ago (in the year 1486 AD), to bless us with the most wonderful,deep and ecstatic pastimes of Gaura lila. The word ‘Yoga’ means ‘connection’ and the term ‘Yogpeeth’ represents the place where the Supreme Lord connects with or descends into this material world.The identity of Lord Caitanya as the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be verified in a number of Vedic scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam,Mahabharata, Garuda Purana,Nrsimha Purana, Padma purana,Bhavishya Purana, Narada Purana etc. We are quoting just two of such references below, for the pleasure of the devotees.
aham purno bhavisyami yuga sandhyau visesatah
mayapure navadvipe bhavisyami saci sutah
Translation – In the future, in first part of Kali yuga, I shall appear in my complete spiritual form at Mayapura, Navadvipa and become the son of Saci.
The mission of the Lord,along with a description of His golden complexion and how He descends along with His confidential associates in this age of Kali ,to inaugurate the Sankirtana Yajna is revealed in Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata purana) –
Krishna varnam tvishakrishnam sangopangastra-parsadam
yajnaih sankirtana prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32)
External reasons of Lord Caitanya’s appearance :
Lord Caitanya though, except for a few rare occasions, had never revealed His identity as the Supreme Lord.He forever remained absorbed in the mood of a devotee.There were several reasons for Lord Caitanya to appear in this world which have been revealed in detail by Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami in his nectarian composition, Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. He writes that Sri Krishna after enacting the sweet pastimes of Vrindavana, pondered over how He had not bestowed the science of unalloyed devotion unto the Supreme, for a long long time.The entire world worships Him in a mood of reverence, strictly following the rules and regulations ordained in the scriptures.However such a worship does not please Him very much ,as spontaneous loving attachment, which is the very essence of a relationship, is absent in such a worship.
Aishwarya jnanete saba jagat misrita
Aishwarya sithila preme nahi mora prita
(Caitanya Caritamrta, adi -3.16)
The general populace is very much aware of the six absolute opulences of the Supreme Lord (strength, beauty,wealth, knowledge, fame, renunciation) and hence they visualize and worship the Lord reverentially in His opulent form.Though one who worships this opulent form of the Lord achieves liberation and a destination in the Vaikuntha planets (spiritual world), yet such a person, is largely ignorant of the ecstatic sweet mellows as experienced by the elevated devotees of Vrindavana. The devotees of Vrindavana are always immersed in a mood of spontaneous loving relationship with the Supreme.The Lord now wanted to freely bestow this Supreme benediction of unalloyed devotional service, the highest ecstasy of spirituality, the treasure of the residents of Vrajabhumi ,to one and all. He wanted to distribute this Supreme science of Krishna consciousness, receiving which nothing else remains to be achieved, to all the fallen souls of this age of Kali, irrespective of their caste,creed or qualification. Encapturing this deep mood and mission of the Lord ,Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings –
atyanta durlabha prema karibare dana,
sikhaya sharanagati bhakatera prana
To bestow this most rare form of divine love, Sri Caitanya teaches us to surrender, which is the life of all the devotees.
Lord Caitanya is hence also referred to as ‘Maha vadanya’ or the most munificent ,as He is the most merciful incarnation of the Supreme.
At the same time, the Lord also desired to associate with His devotees who were suffering intensely being bereft of His association. Advaita Acharya, one of His intimate associates, began regularly worshipping the Supreme Lord ,with Tulasi and Ganges water, calling for Him to descend (refer – ‘Sri Advaita Acharya’s Sripat ,Santipur’). The sincere pleas of Advaita Acharya was also one of the reasons that caused the descent of the munificent Lord.
Confidential Reasons for Lord Caitanya’s appearance:
Apart from propagating the holy names of the Supreme Lord (Krishna) and the science of unconditional devotional service, there was another confidential reason why Lord Caitanya had descended in this world.The Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna possessed an intense desire to relish the supreme transcendental bliss that Srimati Radharani experienced by serving Him. Krishna is the Supreme Enjoyer, however, Srimati Radhika, the Supreme enjoyed, experiences a higher degree of ecstasy by serving Sri Krishna.This is something that bewildered even the Supreme Lord and He wanted to experience this first hand, in order to properly appreciate Radharani’s position. He also wanted to understand the transcendental mellow of Himself and how He was a reservoir of all sweetness that drove His devotees crazy.Hence taking up the mood (bhava) and the golden bodily complexion (kanti) of Srimati Radharani, Sri Krishna descended as Lord Caitanya in this holy land of Navadvipa.Navadvipa was perceived and created by Srimati Radharani Herself to provide pleasure to Her worshipable master. Sri Caitanya’s heart was an image of Srimati Radhika’s emotions – greatly turbulent with the feelings of union (sambhoga) and separation (vipralambha) with Krishna. Hence, it is stated that there is no difference between Lord Caitanya and the combination of Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani (Sri Krishna Caitanya ,Radha Krishna Nahe anya). Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura exclaims that Sri Caitanya is not simply Krishna or simply Radhika. Instead, He is the intense embrace of Sri Radha and Krishna. Such is the intensity of their embrace that that the divine couple becomes inseparable and merges into one form. Sri Krishna is then ornamented with the deep mood of Radharani and gets completely covered by Her bodily effulgence.Such is the Supreme position of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
One should however not confuse these transcendental emotions with the feelings that we experience in our day to day life in relation to other people or any object.It must be pointed out here, that both union and separation from the Supreme Lord produces different states of ecstasy within a devotee.In fact the ecstasy in the mood of separation from the Supreme, is even higher than that in union.This is exactly opposite to what we experience in relation to the petty things of this material world.These uncontrollable feelings became more and more manifested within Lord Caitanya as His pastimes progressed.During the later stages of His pastime at Gambhira (where Sri Caitanya resided in Puri) , He was so greatly obsessed with the madness of separation from Krishna, that He exhibited the highest symptoms of ecstasy.
Let us Begin !
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sublime pastimes are broadly classified into three phases- Adi Lila, Madhya Lila and Antya Lila. Of these, the pastimes classified under Adi lila ,spanning across the first 24 years of His life ,before He had accepted Sannyasa, were primarily enacted in this holy dham of Navadvipa.During these first 24 years,which encompasses the pastimes of Sri Gauranga’s childhood (balya), early boyhood (Pauganda) ,later boyhood (Kaishore) and youth (yauvana), the Lord enchanted the pious residents of Navadvipa dham with His heart melting pastimes. It was during these years that the Lord had manifested the blissful pastimes of His marriage (refer – ‘The worshipable deity of Srimati Vishnupriya devi- Sri Dhameswar Mahaprabhu Temple, Navadvipa (Koladvipa)’). The mesmerizing sankirtana pastimes at the house of His eternal associate ,Sri Srivasa Pandita, also occurred during this time (refer – ‘Srivasa Angan ,Mayapur ,Navadvipa – Part 1: where Lord Gaurahari eternally performs His ecstatic pastimes’).
It is only by the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord that one gets the rare opportunity to gain entrance into this cintamani (spiritual) dham of Navadvipa and associate with its pious residents.This land is mingled with the dust of the Lord’s lotus feet, and it is only by the blessings of our spiritual master and the mercy of Sri Gaurasundara, that ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ attempts to write a few lines in its glorification.
The Lord appears at Yogpeeth:
Jagannatha Misra and Saci mata, were the Supremely fortunate parents of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the deliverer of the three worlds. The Lord appeared from the womb of mother Saci, on the full moon night of Phalguna (Feb-March) in the year 1486 AD. Saci mata and Jagannatha Misra were no ordinary souls. Sri Gaura Gannodesha Dipika reveals that Saci mata was the combined incarnation of the potencies of Devaki, Yashoda, Aditi and Kaushalya.While Nanda Maharaj, Vasudeva (the king of yadus) ,Dasaratha, and Kasyapa muni combined to incarnate as Jagannatha Misra, Nimai’s father. The ancestors of Jagannatha Misra were originally the residents of Sylhet (situated presently in Bangladesh).
Srimati Saci devi had conceived eight daughters before but unfortunately all of them died mysteriously just after their birth. Thereafter Saci mata conceived Visvarupa, Nimai’s elder brother in her womb, and after His birth ,both parents were a bit relieved. Visvarupa, was an expansion of Lord Balaram, and He had prepared the womb to then receive the Supreme Lord.Thereafter Jagannatha Misra, saw a dream in which he could see a radiant light enter into his heart and then go over to the heart of Saci mata before passing onto her womb.He told her about this dream and understood that a great person was about to be born to them.Things changed overnight.The body of Saci mata became very effulgent and people started respecting and offering gifts to Jagannatha Misra wherever he went. Meanwhile the demigods came over to Yogpeeth in order to offer their prayers unto the Supreme Lord, who now rested in the womb of Srimati Saci devi.They prayed for His mercy and hankered to witness His magnanimous pastimes.
Sri Nilambar Chakravarti , Saci devi’s father, was a renowned astrologer in his days, and correctly predicted that her daughter, Saci devi, would give birth to the Supreme Lord, in the thirteenth month of her pregnancy, when all the planets had arranged themselves in the most auspicious position.Seeing the astrological chart of the child he proclaimed that the child was no ordinary and would excel even Brihaspati in His scholarship. Noticing the presence of all the divine symptoms, He understood that the Supreme Personality of Godhead was about to enact His appearance pastime in the house of his daughter. According to Sri Gaura Gannodesha Dipika , Sri Nilambar Chakravarti was the incarnation of Sri Garga Muni, who in Krishna’s pastimes was the family priest of the Yadus. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered its visit to the house of Sri Nilambar Chakravarti in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Nilambar Chakravarti’s residence ,Belpukur,Navadvipa (Simantadvipa)’.
When the time for the Lord’s appearance finally arrived, there was a total lunar eclipse in Mayapur. Some say, that the Lord had actually appeared after the moon had regained its lustre ,having been devoured and cleansed by rahu. But Sri Caitanya Caritamrta explains that the real reason for the lunar eclipse, was that there was no need for a contaminated moon with spots all over its body to be visible at a time when the spotless Supreme Lord ,had Himself mercifully descended upon this world to give His darsana.
A-kalanka Gauracandra dila darshana
Sa-kalanka candre ara kon proyojona
(Caitanya caritamrta, Adi – 13.91)
The Lord was born while the moon was in Leo (simha rashi) and while Leo was in its ascendance (simha lagna).All the other planets were very strongly positioned as well.
As there was a lunar eclipse, all the people of Navadvipa, as per the prevalent customs, came over to bathe in the holy Ganges and chanted the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. The non-hindus, jokingly ridiculed them by imitating and chanting the holy names of Lord Krishna as well.The entire earth became very jubilant and the demigods joined in the celebrations by dancing and glorifying the Supreme Lord.Thus Sri Caitanya induced one and all to chant the holy names of Lord Hari, soon after taking His birth, providing a glimpse of His future mission.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura reveals the birthplace of Mahaprabhu:
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (1838-1914), who had been one of the revolutionary acharyas of our sampradaya, and who happened to be the deputy district magistrate and deputy Collector during his days, made a sincere effort to re-establish the actual birthplace of Lord Caitanya. ’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the life and pastimes of Srila Bhaktivinoda in a separate article entitled – ‘Remembering Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura at Svananda Sukhada Kunja & Surabhi Kunja, Navadvipa (Godrumadvipa)’. After the disappearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu , gradually the essence of Suddha Bhakti (pure devotion), as preached by the Lord, got lost. Various apa sampradayas (non-bona fide religious groups and pseudo devotees) and sahajiyas (who reduce the conclusions of pure Bhakti to cheap sense gratification) gained prominence and bewildered the general populace with their incorrect preaching and false representation of our movement. No one even correctly knew the identity of Mahaprabhu’s birthplace during those days.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, was a renowned and recognised scholar in his days, with vast knowledge in english,bengali,hindi,oriya and sanskrit.He was a member of the royal asiatic society of London. He heralded a painstaking search for Sri Caitanya’s birthplace.One day while he was meditating upon the holy name,sitting on a rooftop in Navadvipa, he noticed a tall palm tree in Mayapura emitting remarkable effulgence. Later he intensively searched old manuscripts, authorized scriptures,old maps and held detailed discussions with elderly people of the area.He finally came to the conclusion that the place he had seen emitting effulgence the other day, was actually the long lost birthsite of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Navadvipa madhye mayapura name sthan
Yathaya janmilen gauracandra bhagavan
In the center of navadvipa, there is a place called Mayapura. It was here at Mayapura that the Supreme Lord Gaurachandra took His birth.
To confirm his findings, Srila Bhaktivinoda requested his siksa guru, Srila Jagannatha Das babaji Maharaja, who was 142 years old at that time, to come and verify the site of Mahaprabhu’s appearance. Srila Jagannatha das Babaji was the most advance rasika devotee of his time (refer – ‘The Samadhi and Bhajana Kutira of Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji ,Navadvipa (Koladvipa)’). Due to his advanced age, he could not see or walk and had to be carried within a basket by his servant from one place to another. When Srila Jagannatha das babaji was brought to Yogpeeth, he however leapt up from his basket, jumping high in the air and began to dance in an ecstasy of Gauranga prema, thus confirming the findings of the thakura.Srila Jagannatha Das Babaji began joyously singing – “Ei to Nimai Janmabhoomi !”(This is the Birthplace of Nimai !).Thereafter Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura re-established this ancient site of Yogpeeth in the year 1893 AD and constructed the suitable shrines that continue to adorn the eternal home of the Supreme Lord.
At this point,it is worthwhile giving a few references from the revealed scriptures, which also confirm Yogpeeth being the birthplace of Sri Gaurahari, as there are a few people in bengal who refuse to accept this fact.
Sri Vrindavana das Thakura reveals in Caitanya Bhagavata, the exact route traversed by Lord Caitanya and His associates , at Navadvipa, during the massive sankirtana procession that took place intending to teach Chand kazi (local magistrate) a lesson. Lakhs of devotees participated in this sankirtana , in which the residents of Navadvipa attained the same bodily features to those of the residents of Vaikuntha.This pastime is described in detail in another of our articles entitled – ‘Srivasa Angan & Samadhi of Chand Kazi, Mayapur – Part 2’ .So in order to describe this pastime, Sri Vrindavana das reveals that the procession gradually moved from Mahaprabhu ghat (near His house, where He used to daily bathe)-> Madhai ghat -> barakona Ghat -> Nagariya Ghat ->Simulia -> Kazi’s house . Thus the location of Lord Caitanya’s house can easily be discerned from the location of Kazi’s house and that of other renowned ghats (banks) of the area that still exist. Since we already know that the house of Chand Kazi was in Simulia, where his tomb still stands tall, and is worshipped by devotees till this day, the location of Sri Caitanya’s house at Yogpeeth is confirmed herein.
gangatire path ache nadiya
age sei pathe nachi jay gaura-raya
apanar ghate age bahu nritya kari
tabe madhai-er ghate gela Gaurahari
barokona ghate nagaria ghate giya
ganganagar diya gela simulia
nadiar ekante nagar simulia
nachite nachite prabhu uttarila gia
(Sri Caitanya Bhagavata)
Also, this whole pastime had occurred in the first place as Chand Kazi had broken the devotees’ mridangas (drums) and obstructed them while they were peacefully performing their sankirtana at Srivasa Angan. As a result of this incident, Srivasa Angana is still renowned as khol bhanga danga (khol – mridanga, bhanga – to break, danga – land) till this day. The massive procession was organized by Mahaprabhu as a protest to the Kazi’s actions.Now, the house of Srivasa pandita (which was a stone’s throw from the house of Lord Caitanya) as it stands today, is hardly a kilometer away from the house of the Kazi at Kazipara (in Simulia). Hence it is quite possible that the loud kirtanas of the vaishnavs at night, here at Srivasa Angan, disturbed the envious Kazi or his associates, who resided nearby. Hence it is very much likely that Lord Caitanya’s house was indeed at Yogpeeth. Instead if the house of Mahaprabhu had been at Kankhara Math in Ramchandrapura ,on the other side of the Ganges, as some people claim, then it is quite unlikely for even the loudest kirtana to reach Simulia ,as this place is a comfortable 6 Kms away. If Mahaprabhu had indeed stayed at Ramchandrapura, then He would have had to cross the river along with His thousands of associates in order to reach the house of the Kazi at Simulia. But nothing as such is mentioned in the authoritative scriptures.
Also the famous Nidayar ghat (bank) , which the Lord had used to cross over the Ganges, to reach Katwa, in order to accept His sannyasa (refer – ‘Sri Gauranga Bari (katwa) – Where Mahaprabhu accepted Sannyasa’), is very far away from Ramchandrapura. Instead the bank of Nidaya is quite near to Yogpeeth, and hence it is only logical that the Lord would use this bank to cross over the river at night.Thus, it is scripturally as well as logically settled, that Yogpeeth is the eternal residence of our beloved Gaurasundara. There are several more evidences that we can put forward in this regard, but ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ does not wish to delve too much into this, as it would make the article unnecessarily lengthier.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this sacred land of Mayapur.We seek shelter of this transcendental abode, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Lord Caitanya, mother Saci and Jagannatha Mishra that we advance in our bhakti, develop attachment unto their lotus feet and are able to serve them by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek their blessings and compassion in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
What to See :
- The Neem Tree under which Lord Gaurahari had appeared in this world.
- Deities of Gauranga, Vishnupriya and Lakshmipriya
- Deities of Jagannatha Misra and Saci mata with little Nimai in her lap
- While digging the foundation of this temple, an ancient deity of Adhokshaja Vishnu was uncovered, who is worshipped here till this day. It is in all probability the worshipable household deity of sri Jagannatha Misra.
- Behind the temple, on the other side ,are worshipped the deities of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha and Sri Gaura-Gadadhara
- The Pushpa samadhi of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, at the entrance of the temple.
How to Reach :
Mayapur lies within Antardvipa, the sacred island at the junction of Jalangi (yamuna) and the Ganges. Mahavana, situated at the very center of Vrindavana, the highest spiritual realm, is non different to Mayapur. Navadvipa is like a beautiful lotus flower with its eight islands assuming the shape of eight petals.Antardvipa, the ninth and the best of the islands, is situated as the central whorl of this lotus like transcendental abode.
One travelling from kolkata is advised to board a Krishnanagar local train from the Sealdah station. On reaching Krishnanagar, one can book a toto (auto) to take him to the Krishnanagar Ghat. From the Krishnanagar Ghat(bank) one can avail a five minutes ferry ride to reach the Mayapur Hulor Ghat. From the mayapur Ghat one can take a toto/auto/rickshaw to directly reach Yogpeeth (sometimes also spelt as Yogpith).
We leave you with a heart melting composition by Srila Vasudeva Ghosh who asks what would have happened if Lord Gaurahari had not been. Well, let us sing this bhajana together in order to find out –
Yadi Gaura Na Hoito
(yadi) Gaura na hoito,tabe ki hoito,
kemane dharitam de?
Radhara mahima, prema-rasa-shima,
jagate janata ke
pravesha caturi sara
sakati haita kara
gao gao punah ,Gaurangera guna,
sarala haiya mana
e bhava-sagare, emana dayala,
na dekhi ye ek-jana
gauranga baliya, na genu galiya,
kemane dharinu de
vasur hiya, pashana diya,
1) If Lord Gaura had not appeared in this age of Kali, then what would have become of us? How could we have tolerated living? Who else in this universe would have taught about the topmost limits of loving mellows that comprise the glory of Sri Radha?
2) Who would have had the power to render ecstatic devotional service that follows in the footsteps of the damsels of Vraja? Indeed, the clever expertise of the Vrajagopis is a prerequisite for entering the supremely sweet forest of Vrnda Devi (Vrindavana).
3) Oh, Keeping a simple heart, please sing again and again of the glorious qualities of Lord Gauranga! Not even one person within this ocean of nescience has ever seen such a magnanimous personality as He.
4) Even though I chant the name of Lord Gauranga, somehow I still have not melted in ecstasy – how then have I maintained the burden of this body? How has the Creator fashioned this body with a stone in place of Vasudeva Ghosh’s heart?
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