“What one attains by travelling to all the holy places is attained just by remembering the transcendental abode of Navadvipa”
– Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the moon who had risen over the lands of Mayapur, a little over 500 years back,and by whose mercy, and empowerment, this awe-inspiring Krishna consciousness movement has now spread its aura over the entire world. Hence it was only befitting that His commander in chief (senapati bhakta) , A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder acharya of ISKCON, had named his headquarter of operations as ‘Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya temple’ (‘chandra’ means ‘moon’ and ‘udaya’ translates to ‘rising’ in bengali). The holy abode of Mayapur might appear to be just a remote village to one who sees things from a mundane perspective. But to the esoteric ,well versed with the conclusions of the revealed scriptures, the land of Mayapur comes across as the very center of the spiritual world, the very highest realm of transcendence. It was at Yogpeeth, situated a few hundred metres from the Mayapur Chandrodaya temple, that Sacinandana Gaurahari had appeared in this world in the year 1486 AD and began mercifully manifesting His ecstatic heart-melting pastimes (refer – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’). One who dearly worships ‘Nader Nimai’, and intensely hankers for His association, can till this day ,perceive the magnanimous Lord singing and dancing upon the streets of Navadvipa, enchanting one and all by His unique movements and unparalleled expressions.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ can only stand back and stare at the very rare fortune of the residents of Navadvipa, to whom the dust of Gaurasundara’s lotus feet are so easily obtainable.Srila Prabhupada gave Mayapur to the entire world, by propagating the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu far and wide (refer –’The birthplace of A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Tollygunge’). It is by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, that today his beloved children and grandchildren, can gain entrance into this eternal abode and relish the transcendental pastimes of Vishwambhara (the Lord of the Universe).
A brief History :
With the increase in preaching and establishment of ISKCON centers all around the world, Srila Prabhupada yearned for a temple to be constructed here at Mayapur.His Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura had always stressed upon the importance of Mayapur. Infact Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura used to stay and perform his bhajana over here at Mayapur, before he set out to preach extensively (refer – ‘Sri Caitanya Math , Sri Chandrasekhar Acharya Bhavan (Masir Bari), Mayapur, Navadvipa’).Srila Prabhupada wanted His disciples and the members of his society to take shelter of this holy dham. Finally in the year 1971, ISKCON signed a land deal of a nine-bigha plot in Mayapur. Though there were several complexities and challenges that stood in the way, the land was finally secured. Thereafter the construction began to give shape to the grand Mayapur project as visualized by Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada had postponed the corner-stone laying ceremony for his Mayapur project, until the Gaur-Purnima of 1972 (29th feb). The occasion was celebrated with great pomp and show, distributing books and magazines to thousands of interested visitors. Free Prasadam was distributed to the guests. Prabhupada’s disciples from all over the world and even some of his godbrothers (disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura) attended this grand event.
Srila Prabhupada had by then already visualized ,how Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya temple would unleash a new age of awakening, whereby the misguided souls of this dark iron age, would get a second chance to reconnect with their eternal master, Sri Gaurahari.The project would consist of a gigantic temple in its center, along with surrounding separate residential quarters for brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and shudras. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ would like to clarify at this point, that the different varnas (brahmana, kshatriya,etc) mentioned above is not something that is determined by one’s birth , as is commonly misunderstood, but instead by one’s qualities. Someone who is proficient in preaching the philosophy and deity worship would naturally qualify to be a brahmana. Whereas someone, who has qualities and skills to provide protection to the other sections of the society would fit a role of a kshatriya. Infact this is the same measure by which the Sanatana dharma actually classifies the various human beings. The most important thing to note in this regard, is that the above classification guarantees that a person, with his particular nature and set of qualities, is perfectly situated in his appropriate service to the supreme Lord. The Lord is always at the center of such an arrangement.
Staying inside a small hut within the temple premises at that time, Prabhupada foretold that the city would gradually grow to a population of fifty thousand in days to come and would serve as a model city for all of humanity. Though Mayapur was just a minute obscure village of Bengal back then, Prabhupada envisioned that a day would come when this place would become well connected by waterways, roads, bridges, trains and even air, making it more accessible to all.He entrusted the Mayapur development project into the hands of his disciples and ordered- “I have given you the kingdom of God.Now take it, develop it and enjoy it”.My Guru Maharaja, HH Jayapataka Swami , was one of those, who had received the above instructions and has dedicated his life unto serving this holy abode ever since.Srila Prabhupada wanted the people of Bengal to recognize their true culture.He once expressed that millions of bengalis were by birth, the followers of Lord Caitanya. A day would come when these bengalis would come to recognize the Krishna consciousness movement as the pure form of their own culture. Prabhupada continued that this realization would reform Bengal, and when Bengal gets reformed, the whole of India would soon follow. And if India becomes Krishna conscious,so will the whole world.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ is a project that hopes to fulfill this desire and make it a reality.
Initial days of construction :
The devotees who oversaw the construction work, had to practically live upon the open fields. The conditions were extremely austere in the beginning days. Yet the disciples, who had hailed from opulent western backgrounds, happily accepted it, as a service to Sri Guru and Gauranga.There was a handpump within the construction site where the devotees used to take their bath. A few metres away were two toilets, which were nothing but holes in the ground, surrounded by chatai walls. Storm and the rains would often come and flood the fields. Devotees would then have to make their way through the muddy fields, protecting themselves from the poisonous snakes that loitered around, in order to reach the toilets. But Prabhupada kept encouraging the devotees. He used to remark that Mayapur was so wonderful that one could simply sustain himself just by its air and water alone. There was a kitchen constructed out of bamboo and tarpaulin near the entrance to the property. In order to reach the under construction temple hall, one had to make his way through ridges of earth that separated one rice field from the other. The devotees had to live without electricity most of the time as there were frequent power failures. Hence kerosene lamps were primarily used at night.In addition there were frequent raids by thieves and dacoits, and the devotees had to often sleep upon the bags of cement and other raw materials, in order to safeguard the property.
ISKCON Mayapur Today :
ISKCON Mayapur is the spiritual headquarters of the entire ISKCON world. Today ISKCON Mayapur houses several posh guesthouses in order to serve the devotees who arrive from all over the world, to take darsana of its enchanting deities and seek shelter of this cintamani (spiritual) dham. The mesmerizing deities of Radha Madhava and the asta sakhis (eight gopis) , enchant the hearts of one and all. The Pancha Tattva deities of Lord Caitanya, Sri Nityananda, Sri Advaita Acharya, Sri Gadadhara Pandita and Srivasa Pandita also provide their all-merciful darsana here at the Chandrodaya temple. The opulence and grandeur of the Iskcon Mayapur project has been successful in highlighting to the entire world the significance of this exalted abode and the gravity of the Krishna consciousness movement. As more and more people ,from different backgrounds and nationalities are being attracted to mayapur and are accepting Krishna consciousness as a way of their life, the more the timeless prediction of Lord Caitanya comes to be fulfilled -’In every town and village, the chanting of my holy name will be heard’(prithivite ache yata nagaradi grama, sarbatra prachara haibe mora naam). This is exactly what Srila Prabhupada had desired when he had laid the cornerstone of the Mayapur Chandrodaya temple.
ISKCON Mayapur, is today instrumental in distributing thousands of books, which include transcendental literatures like Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Caitanya Caritamrta,etc ,every month to places near and far.The activities it undertakes to create a general awareness regarding India’s lost culture, and propagate the values that were once considered sacred, is simply unparalleled. The ‘Food for Life’ program distributes free prasadam to thousands of people, every day ,and ensures that no one in the vicinity of the temple, goes hungry. Honoring Krishna Prasadam, by the way, is an integral part of practicing Bhakti yoga. In addition, the management of ISKCON has taken a great initiative to preserve and revive the ancient pilgrimage sites, all over Navadvipa, whose significance might have been obscured by the passage of time.The bhajana Kutira of Jagannatha Das Babaji at Koladvipa, Mother Saci’s home at Belpukur, the Jagannatha temple at Rajapur, the temple of Hamsa Vahana (Lord Shiva seated on Brahma’s swan) , etc are only a few of such examples.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered each of these exalted destinations in separate articles.The ‘Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama’, an initiative to take the devotees around the sacred nine islands of Navadvipa and making them aware of the various pastime places of the Lord, is attracting more and more people each year. Overall the ISKCON Mayapur Project, has not only been successful in widely distributing the mercy of Lord Gauranga and inspiring people to take shelter of this transcendental abode, but also has played a key role in reviving the fortunes of Navadvipa.
As we speak, the devotees are working day and night to construct and establish the ‘Temple of Vedic Planetarium’ (TOVP). Once finished, it would be the biggest temple in the world, rising 350 feet above the ground. It was Srila Prabhupada’s desire to construct this colossal temple, at Sri Dham Mayapur. This unique temple will demonstrate the teachings presented in the 5th canto of Srimad Bhagavatam that describes in detail the model of our universe.The main dome of this temple will be a 3 dimensional moving model explaining the different realities that exist simultaneously. It has been predicted by the previous acharyas as well that an adbhuta mandira (wonderful temple) would someday come up here at Mayapura, from which Lord Gaurahari’s eternal service will be preached everywhere. Hence the TOVP shall further the cause of transmitting the moon like rays of Lord Gauranga’s sankirtana movement all over the creation.
What to Experience (within the temple premises):
- Mesmerizing deities of Radha Madhava and the asta sakhis.
- Enchanting deities of Pancha Tattva – Lord Caitanya & His associates
- Heart rendering Darsana of Lord Nrsimhadeva.
- A request to attend the blissful mangala Aratika darsana of the Lord (4.30 am in the morning). Please don’t miss it.
- Srila Prabhupada Pushpa samadhi
- Samadhi of Prabhupada disciples
- The Temple of Vedic Planetarium (under construction).
- Request to feast on the delicious Krishna Prasadam from the Gada Bhavan or Gita Bhavan (Bhavan means building). The lunch starts getting served at 1 pm. Hence please book your coupons atleast a few hours in advance.
- Please buy atleast a small book from anyone of the various available book stalls. This shall surely help you advance in your krishna consciousness.
We leave you with a heart melting bengali composition by HH Jayapataka Swami Guru Maharaja, who has written the below lines in glorification of his beloved spiritual master, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder acharya of ISKCON.
(yadi) prabhupada na haita tabe ki haita
(e) jivana bahita kise?
Nitai-Gaur-era apara karuna ke dita sakala deshe
paschatyera yata paapi durachari sunyavadi mayavadi
tadera uddhara karibare mana hena kon dayanidhi
tadera nikate kon jana asi ,bilaita harinaam
sabhya jiva rupe gadite tadera ke haita aguyaan
dese dese hari-vigraha seva aratih ratri-dine
ratha yatradin mahotsava saba sikaita kon jane
gita-bhagavata caitanya carita premamrta rasa-sara
kata na sundara sarala kariya ke bujhaita ara
kata kasta sahi prita mana-e rahi ke va dita harinaam
ke dita modera Puri vrndavana Mayapura mata dham
parama mangala sri Caitanya Mahaprabhur-a siksa dhana
acare pracare sada amadere ke karita niyojana
premakalpataru Nitai-Gaur-era krpa kana labhibare
niravadhi jayapataka hrdaya tomare sarana kare
If it were not for Srila Prabhupada, how could we all have passed our lives ?
Who else would have distributed the unlimited mercy of Lord Gauranga and Nityananda all over the world ?
Who else would have compassionately endeavored to deliver the miscreants ,sinful, impersonalistic and voidistic people of the West?
Who else would have come to distribute the treasure of Harinama(Lord’s holy names) to them? Who else would have mercifully come forward to transform them into civilized beings?
Who else would have taught the people from the different countries to worship the Deity form of Lord Hari ,day and night with arati & kirtana ?
Who else would have taught them to conduct the Ratha-yatra and other grand festivals?
Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and Caitanya-caritamrta contain the essence of the nectarean mellows of love of Godhead.
Who else would have explained these scriptures so beautifully and so clearly?
Who else would have tolerated all difficulties, and distributed Harinama with a pleasant heart?
Who else would have revealed to us the exalted dhams such as Mayapur, Vrindavan and Jagannatha Puri?
The teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu constitute the greatest and most auspicious treasure.
Who else would have engaged us in constantly practicing and preaching it?
Sri Sri Nitai Gaura are desire trees of love of Godhead. Desiring a drop of Their mercy, Jayapataka’s heart incessantly takes shelter of Your Divine grace.
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 Sri Mayapur Chandrodaya Temple. Please make sure to book your rooms well in advance by calling on (+91) 03472-245620 (Gada Bhavan Reception) or (+91) 03472-245370 (Gita Bhavan Reception).