Sripat of Sri Vasudeva Ghosh, Tamluk
Heading south from Kolkata , the team from ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ reached the holy dham of Tamluk. The journey was quite comfortable as Tamluk is very well connected to kolkata via trains and buses.Within 2 hours we reached the tamluk station. Reaching the station, we boarded an autorickshaw that carried us to ‘Sri Mahaprabhu Mandira’. This place is also referred to as the sripat of Srila Vasudeva Ghosh. Srila Vasudeva, an intimate associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu ,had appeared 500 years ago,in order to assist Mahaprabhu manifest His heart melting pastimes. The temple is also sometimes referred to as ‘Narpota’ and we have discussed the reason for the same in this article below.The sacred land of Tamluk is an extremely significant portion of Gauda Mandala bhumi, wherein Sriman Mahaprabhu had halted on two separate occasions, while traveling to Puri. ‘Sri Mahaprabhu Mandira’ is the very place where Sri Gaurasundara had once halted at Tamluk and enchanted the three worlds with His ecstatic night sankirtana.It is the same place where Sri Jagadananda Pandita, the incarnation of Satyabhama devi, had once cooked prasadam from all the raw vegetables that Sriman Mahaprabhu had obtained by begging. After accepting sannyasa,Lord Caitanya had manifested His begging pastimes for the first time here at the fortunate town of Tamluk. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the sannyasa initiation pastime of Lord Caitanya in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Gauranga Bari (katwa) – Where Mahaprabhu accepted Sannyasa’. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to have been able to visit Tamluk and We seek permission of Sri Caitanya and Srila Vasu Ghosh to pen a few lines in glorification of this exalted dham.
Lord Caitanya’s arrival at Tamluk:
After accepting His sannyasa initiation from Sri Keshava Bharati at Katwa, Sriman Mahaprabhu had halted for fourteen days at the residence of Sri Advaita Acharya at Santipur. After taking due permission from His mother, Sri Gaurasundara proceeded towards Jagannatha Puri. On His way He halted at the Sripat (residence) of Ananta Acharya,situated in the Atisara village (present day Baruipur) for one night, before continuing. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered Mahaprabhu’s visit to Baruipura in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Ananta Acharya’s Sripat, Baruipura’. From there, Mahaprabhu arrived at Tamluk, which during those days was under the jurisdiction of the government of Orissa.Presently however Tamluk lies within the district of East Medinipur ,in West Bengal.
Tabe sei Mahaprabhu chali jaya pathe
Tamluk-e uttarila mahapunya kshetre
(Sri Caitanya Mangala)
After taking His bath in the Ganges, Lord Caitanya paid His obeisances unto the deity of Sri Chakreshwar Shiva that had been installed by King Yudhisthira in the Dvapara yuga.Lord Shiva is a very dear servant of Mahaprabhu and by paying His obeisances unto him, He taught the world how we should not show disrespect towards any demigod, as they all have been engaged by the Supreme Lord in His different services.Srimad Bhagavatam reveals that Lord Shiva is the greatest of the Vaishnavas (vaishnavanam yatha sambhuh) and hence we should all respect and try to seek inspiration from him. There is a place called ‘Harihara Ksetra’ in the town Navadvipa, wherein Lord shiva personally comes and chants the ‘Gauranga’ mantra into the ears of the departing souls, thus delivering them at the time of their death. Lord Shiva here eternally remains intoxicated relishing the ecstatic pastimes of Mahaprabhu.We have covered the exalted pastimes of Harihara Kshetra in the article entitled – ‘The Glories of Lord Shiva – Harihara kshetra & Hamsa Vahan, Navadvipa’.
After taking His bath and worshipping Lord Shiva, Mahaprabhu began begging from door to door here at Tamluk. This was His first begging since accepting His sannyasa. In the process, He showered His causeless mercy upon the pious residents of tamluk and sanctified the land with the dust of His lotus feet. The people were astonished realizing how the Supreme Lord, whose lotus feet is eternally worshipped by Goddess Lakshmi had Himself arrived at their doorsteps to shower His blessings. They happily handed over to the Lord whatever little fruit or vegetables they had in their possession.
bhiksha lagi ek-dina ek grama giya
apane bahuta anna anila mangiya
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya, 4.11)
Sri Jagadananda Pandita, the incarnation of Srimati Satyabhama devi, happily cooked all the food and vegetables that Mahaprabhu had obtained by begging.The place where we now have the Mahaprabhu temple constructed, is the very place where this cooking pastime had once occurred. After offering the cooked food unto the Lord, all the devotees along with the local residents relished the nectarian prasadam.Thereafter ,the devotees spent the entire night, engaging themselves in an ecstatic dancing sankirtana, the glories of which are sung till this day. The Lord continued on His journey and set out for Remuna the next morning.
Lord Caitanya had visited Bengal for the second time, a few years after completing His tour of South India.While returning to Jagannatha Puri, Sri Gaurahari, passed through Tamluk, thereby showering His blessings on this holy land and its fortunate residents once again.
Krame Krame Tamluk-e uttarila giya
Ye pathe giyache purve, shei path diya
(Sri Caitanya Mangala)
Translation – Gradually Lord Caitanya arrived at Tamluk, taking the same route that He had once taken before.
Srila Vasudeva Ghosh:
Sri Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami exclaims in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, that the dealings between the lord and His devotees cannot be tasted by those who are merely immersed in the processes of fruitive activity, yogic austerities, speculative knowledge, regulative devotional service, mantra-yoga or meditation. It can, however, be relished by only those great personalities who love the Lord spontaneously and chant His glories with great ecstasy. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ earnestly prays to Srila Vasudeva Ghosh to bless us so that we might someday come to relish the sweetness of these transcendental exchanges between the Supreme Lord and His beloved devotees.
karma, tapa, yoga, jnana, vidhi bhakti, japa, dhyana,
iha haite madhurya durlabha
kebala ye raga marge, bhaje krishne anuraage,
tanre Krishna madhurya sulabha
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya,21.119)
About 20 km west of Katwa, on the banks of the Ajay river, lies a village named ‘Kulai’.It was in this village that the three stalwart Vaishnavas, Sri Govinda Ghosh, Sri Madhava Ghosh, and Sri Vasu Ghosh had mercifully appeared, and as a result of which this place had become sanctified and renowned all over the three worlds. These three brothers possessed a very melodious voice and their songs provided a lot of delight to Lord Gauranga and Nityananda who danced at their tunes (Govinda Madhava Vasudeva teen bhai , Ya sabara kirtane nache Caitanya Nitai ).
At their house, in Kulai, stands a tall Neem tree, from whose wood Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura had later carved the three most beautiful deities of Lord Caitanya, depicting His dancing intoxicated form (Rasaraja Mahabhava). The tallest of the three famous deities is presently worshipped at Sri Gauranga bari, in Katwa, where Sri Mahaprabhu had accepted His sannyasa initiation (refer – ‘Sri Gauranga Bari (katwa) – Where Mahaprabhu accepted Sannyasa‘). The shortest one resides at the house of Sri Narahari Sarkara Thakura at Srikhanda, where it is served with due diligence till this day (Please refer to this article – ‘The Great Vaishnavas of Srikhanda’).The third deity, which is neither the tallest nor the shortest, is presently being served at Ekachakra Dham.Ekachakra is a beautiful village,situated in the Birbhum district of West Bengal ,and we have covered our visit to Ekachakra in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Ekachakra Dham – Birthplace of Lord Nityananda’.
Few years after their father, Sri Ballava Ghosh, had shifted to Halisahar, in the north 24 Parganas, the three brothers moved over to Navadvipa, where they, fortunately, received the priceless association of Lord Gauranga & Nityananda. All three of them were very dear and intimate associates of their lordships. Sri Gaura Gannodesha Dipika reveals that the three dearmost sakhis of Vishakha Vraja Gopi,namely Kalavati,Rasollosa and Gunatunga , whose songs provided immense pleasure to Sri Radha and Krishna, had appeared as Sri Govinda Ghosh, Madhava Ghosh and Sri Vasu Ghosh respectively, in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. This has been confirmed elsewhere in Vaishnava acara darpana as well. We seek blessings of these great Vaishnava acharyas that we may purify our existence by contemplating upon their esoteric pastimes.
Sri Vasudeva Ghosh arrives at Tamluk:
Lord Caitanya ordered a number of devotees including Lord Nityananda to return to Bengal from puri and take up the charge of preaching here.Srila Vasudeva Ghosh, along with brother Madhava Ghosh, were also among those who were sent back.On returning, Sri Madhava Ghosh had established His Sripat (bhajana kutira) at Dainhat (near Katwa), while Srila Vasudeva Ghosh had settled down at Tamluk. The third brother Sri Govinda Ghosh had later established his bhajana Kutira at Agradwip. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the pastimes of Sri Govinda Ghosh in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha jiu ,Agradwip’.
Sri Vasu Ghosh had established his bhajana kutira at the exact place where Lord Caitanya had previously halted at Tamluk while He was en route to Puri. ‘Sri Mahaprabhu Mandira’ stands today at this very site and is also hence renowned as the Sripat of Sri Vasudeva Ghosh. Staying here, he widely engaged in preaching the science of Bhakti yoga. Sri Vasu Ghosh has gifted us with his innumerable heart melting bhajans glorifying Lord Caitanya and His incomprehensible magnanimous pastimes. Hence Sri Vasu Ghosh is also sometimes referred to as the greatest of the Gaudiya Vaishnava poets. It is said that the deep mellows of his songs would even melt the wood and the stones (vasudeva gite kare prabhura varnane, Kastha pashana drave yahara shravane).
How the place came to be known as Narpota:
The holy land of Tamluk has witnessed an amazing pastime, the glories of which shall be sung till the end of time. On hearing the news of Lord Caitanya’s disappearance, Sri Vasudeva Ghosh completely broke down. Together with his wife, he lamented bitterly as a father would cry for his lost son. He decided to give up his body by drowning himself into the sea. But seeing that the sun had already set, he decided against it. Completely abstaining from food and water, he and his wife mourned incessantly. But Sri Vasudeva Ghosh was determined to put an end to his life as it was not worth living without the association of his beloved Gauranga. He asked his associates to dig out the ground and expressed his desire to be buried alive. His wife accompanied him and together they stepped into their grave, covering their eyes with a piece of cloth. Sri Vasu Ghosh then ordered his associates to cover them up by putting the dirt back into the grave.
Nischoi tyajiba prana sakshat adarshane
Maati khure nija deha diba bisharjane
(Sri Shyamananda Prakash)
Translation – Off course I shall give up my life not getting the darsana of my beloved Caitanya. Digging up the ground , i shall enter my grave alive.
His servants cried profusely as they could not bear to see their master giving up his life like this. But keeping a stone on their heart, they proceeded to carry out their master’s orders.Just then something very amazing took place. Lord Caitanya, appeared there Himself and personally requested Srila Vasudeva Ghosh to give up his intentions. Hearing Lord Gauranga’s voice, both husband and wife were very surprised.Sri Vasudeva could not see the lord as his eyes were covered with a cloth and hence asked who He was. By Nimai’s grace the coverings from their eyes were then removed and both husband and wife were then able to quench their thirst by obtaining the captivating darsana of the lord of their lives.Sri Caitanya then lovingly rebuked Vasudeva Ghosh for his silly act and revealed to him that his body was no longer his own property but instead belonged to the Lord.Hence without the Lord’s permission, he had no right to decide on giving it up. Mahaprabhu then requested Sri Vasudeva Ghosh to ask for a boon, to which Sri Vasudeva prayed that his only desire was to enjoy eternally with Lord Caitanya at that very place. The lord agreed and from that day, being bound by Sri Vasudeva’s love, Sri Caitanya resides eternally and performs His magnanimous pastimes at the transcendental abode of Tamluk.
Sri Gaurasundara also proclaimed that the place shall henceforth be renowned as the king of all pilgrimages and whoever obtained darsana of His mesmerizing deity being worshipped here at Tamluk, shall get pure devotion and return back to Godhead at the end of his present life.As this is the sacred place where Sri Vasudeva Ghosh had once attempted to give up his life by trying to get buried alive, this place is also renowned as Narpota (The word ‘Nara’ means ‘human’ and ‘pota’ translates to ‘being buried’ in Bengali). After his disappearance, Sri Vasudeva Ghosh was placed into samadhi at the very same spot where he had once enacted the Narpota pastime. The Bakul tree, that presently guards his samadhi, has been a witness to all these amazing pastimes and stands tall to tell a tale of the glorious years gone by.
Deities at Mahaprabhu Mandira:
The seva puja in the temple is presently being carried out by the devotees of the Syamananda Parivara (the spiritual lineage of Sri Syamananda pandita). The temple is well maintained , and the deity service is being carried out as per the standards. There are four mesmerizing deities that are presently being worshipped here at the sripat of Srila Vasudeva Ghosh. The captivating deity of Sri Nimai is the worshipable deity of Sri Vasudeva Ghosh himself. Srimati Madhavi devi, the sister of Sikhi Maiti and one of the most intimate associates of Lord Gauranga, arrived at tamluk in her later age and assisted Sri Vasudeva Ghosh in offering his service. Her worshipable deity, Sri Shyamchand jiu expressed His desires to be worshipped here alongside Lord Caitanya. The deity of Shyamchand is placed to the right of Nimai in the altar. The Jagannatha deity placed to the left of Nimai is the worshipable deity of Sri Carana das Babaji. The fourth deity being duly worshipped here is the beloved Radha Gopinatha jiu, the worshipable deity of Sri Syamananda Pandita. When one sees the deities of Gauranga, Krishna, and Jagannath, being together served here at Tamluk, one cannot help but meditate upon those golden words that Sri Vasudeva Ghosh had sung in one of his soul touching bhajans.
Vasudeva Ghosh kahe kari jora haath,
Yei gaura, sei Krishna sei Jaganntha
Vasudeva Ghosa humbly states folding his hands- Lord Gauranga, Sri krishna and Jagannatha are one and the same personality.
Once, Nimai, the worshipable deity of Srila Vasudeva Ghosh, had to be hidden for a brief period of time. This happened long after the disappearance of Vasudeva Ghosh. There was a cruel Tantrik residing at Tamluk at that time and coming under his evil influence, the king had ordered for all the deities of Tamluk to be destroyed. Fearing the worst, the temple priest, fled with the deity of Nimai to his hometown at Mirzapur. Later, upon receiving relevant instructions from Mahaprabhu in his dream, Sri Syamananda Pandita,reinstalled the deity of Nimai at Narpota. He transformed the king’s heart and was instrumental in driving away the sinful tantrika from Tamluk. The people of Tamluk rejoiced once again on being united with Nimai, the Lord of their lives.
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 transcendental abode of Tamluk.We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Vasudeva Ghosh that we advance in our Krishna consciousness,develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek his blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme 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 samadhi of Sri Vasudeva Ghosh , at the entrance to the temple. The Bakul tree which serves the samadhi is standing tall since the last 500 years. This is the site where the Narpota pastime had once taken place.
- The worshipable deities of Sri Vasudeva Ghosh, Madhavi devi, Carana Das Babaji and Syamananda Pandita.
- The Sripat of Sri Vasudeva Ghosh, wherein lies scattered the worshipable dust of his lotus feet.
- Just outside the temple compounds.,the samadhis of the great acharyas who have once served this dham are carefully preserved.The samadhi of Sri Madhava ghosh, Vasu Ghosh’s brother , is also present here.
- Not very far from the temple lies the samadhi tomb of Srimati Madhavi devi.
How to Reach:
The word Tamluk is derived from the sanskrit word ‘Tamralipta’ meaning full of copper.It was once an ancient seaport, but now buried under silt and hence has many ponds and lakes remaining till this day.Tamluk is situated in southern Bengal on the banks of river Rupnarayan and is quite close to the Bay of Bengal. Jamini’s Mahabharata records that Sri Krishna and Arjuna had come here in Dvapara yuga, to release the horse of Aswamedha Yajna, from king Tamradhwaj, the then ruler of Tamluk.
Tamluk is very well connected with kolkata via buses and trains.One can easily board a local train from kolkata and reach the Tamluk station in less than 2 hours. The temple is hardly a 20 minutes ride from the Tamluk station. Please note that the temple is locally renowned as the ‘Mahaprabhu Mandira’ and it is advisable that one refers to it accordingly while seeking direction.
Accommodation – As Tamluk is hardly a couple of hours from Kolkata, it is recommended that one stays in Kolkata and then travels to visit the exalted sites of Tamluk.One can choose to stay at any of the hotels (there are many) in Kolkata.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Tamluk
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)
We leave you a heart melting composition of Sri Vasudeva Ghosh , that reveals the devastating effects of Nimai’s Sannyasa upon Saci mata and Vishnupriya devi. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has translated the composition into english for the pleasure of the devotees.
Sudhakhhate dila Haath, vajra parila mathat
Bujhi bidhi more birambila
Karuna kariya kande , kesh besh nahi bandhe
Sacira mandira kache gelo
Sacira mandira asi , duyarer kache basi
Dhire dhire kahe Vishnupriya
Sayan mandire chhilo , Nishante Kotha gelo
Mora Munde bajar Pariya
Gauranga jagoye mane , nidra nahi dunayane
Suniya uthila Sacimata
Aluthalu Keshe jaya, basana na rahe gaye
Suniya badhura mukhe katha
Turite jaliya bati, dekhilen iti uti
Kono Thai Uddesh na paiya
Vishnupriya badhu sathe , kandiya kandiya pathe
Dake Saci Nimai baliya
Ta suni Nadiyaer Loke , Kande Ucchasvare shoke
Yare tare puchhen barta
Ek yane pathe dhay , dashjane puchhe taye
Gauranga dekhechho jete kotha?
Se bale dekhechi jete, Ara keu nahi sathe
Kanchana Nagarer pathe dhay
Vasu kahe – aha mori , amara Sri Gaurahari
Pache jani mastaka Muray
On not finding Mahaprabhu upon the sacred bed, where He had been resting for the last night, thunderbolt struck Srimati Vishnupriya devi. She feared that her fortunes had betrayed Her.
Weeping incessantly, and not caring for Her untied hair and loosened dress,
She hurried to relate the news to Her mother in law, Saci mata.
Sitting at the doorsteps of Saci Mata’s room, Vishnupriya devi spoke with a faltering voice –
Sri Gaurasundara was present at the room last night, but she was unaware where He has left at dawn, while she laid asleep. She expressed that Her situation was akin to a lightning striking upon Her head.
On hearing these words from her daughter in law, an apprehensive Saci mata, hurriedly woke up and came out of her room with her unattended hair and dress. As a matter of fact, she was constantly meditating upon her son and could not sleep for the night.
Immediately Saci devi lit up a lamp (as it was still dark) ,and began searching for her son here and there. Not finding any clues, Saci devi , accompanying Vishnupriya, went out onto the street and cried incessantly ,calling out Nimai ! Nimai !
Hearing her loud wails and cries, the local people of Nadiya rushed to the spot. All of them now began to search for their beloved Vishwambhar. Seeing a person passing by, all of them desperately caught hold of him, and began to enquire from him whether he had seen or has any news of Lord Gauranga.
The person informed them that he had seen Vishwambhar travel all alone ,towards the city of Kantaka Nagara (Katwa). Sri Vasu Ghosh laments and fears that his beloved Lord Gaurahari is about the shave His head and accept the renounced order of life.
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