Sri Bhagavatacharya ,the 76th branch of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s desire tree of devotional service, met Lord Caitanya on the banks of the river Ganges at a place presently known as Baranagar (which is about 8-10 kms from kolkata).
Srila Prabhupada mentions about Sri Bhagavatacharya in his commentary to Caitanya Caritamrta (Adi Lila, 10.113 purport).Sri Raghunatha Upadhyaya , as Bhagavatacharya was then called, used to reside at Baranagar ,on the bank of the Ganges, and daily recite Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) in his small hut. It so happened that once , while Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was en route to Jagannatha Puri, and was passing by Baranagar, a very beautiful recitation and a sublime devotional explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam, entered His ears. Being curious, He immediately entered the cottage, where He found Sri Raghunatha reciting the spotless literature. Seeing Lord Caitanya ,Raghunatha fell at His feet, and hearing his recitations, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu fainted in ecstasy. Lord Caitanya later remarked that He had never before heard such a beautiful explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam. He hence conferred the title ‘Bhagavatacharya’ upon Raghunatha and ordered him that his only duty henceforward was to regularly recite Srimad Bhagavatam. Sri Bhagavatacharya had later compiled his commentary on Srimad Bhagavatam in a book called ‘Krishna Prema Tarangini’.
According to Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, Sri Bhagavatacharya was one of the maidservants of Srimati Radharani in Vrindavana.Sri Bhagavatacharya strictly followed the instructions given to him by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to daily recite Srimad Bhagavatam, and kept along with him a pair of the Lord’s sandals along with a saligrama sila and a small deity named Gopal,whom he worshipped daily. All his belongings are carefully preserved at the baranagar path bari, till this day.
After Sri Bhagavatacharya’s disappearance, the place of his residence at baranagar was destroyed with the Ganges shifting its course. According to the hearsay, centuries later, a brahmin ,Kali Prasanna Chakraborty ,who lived in the area, received orders from Sri Nitai Gaur, in his dream to excavate the site of Bhagavatacharya’s residence and install Gaur-Nitai deities over here according to the mentioned specifications.Sri Kali Prasanna acted as instructed and as a result Sri Bhagavatacharya’s belongings, his worshipable deities and Mahaprabhu’s paduka were all discovered from this place.
The deities installed here at baranagar are amazingly beautiful, with the two brothers posing in an unusual fashion. Lord Caitanya has His index finger up in the air as if to call upon the sudarshan chakra while Nityananda Prabhu displays His hands in a very merciful gesture.The deities reminded us of the pastimes the two lords had once manifested with Jagai and Madhai.Lord Nityananda had then pacified Lord Gaurahari and refrained him from using His sudarshan chakra upon these offenders. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the Sripat and bhajana Kutira of Madhai ,after he had been delivered, in a separate article entitled – ‘Sakhi Akhra and Madhai Tala ,Katwa’.
Sri Bhagavatacharya’s sacred bhajana Kutira, is maintained today by the Pathbari ashram. The temple compounds are very well maintained with hundreds of devotees getting an opportunity to take darsana of the beautiful deities of Nitai Gaur, Radha Krishna and Jagannath Baladeva Subhadra maharani. Sri Bhagavatacharya’s Gopal deity ,his saligram sila and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s sandals which were once worshipped by Bhagavatacharya are also served here with due reverence.
The temple also houses one of the biggest libraries(grantha mandira) preserving various ancient sanskrit and bengali manuscripts, which are of extreme interest to the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.In Spite of being so near to the congestions of the busy BT road, Baranagar Path Bari, seems to be aloof from all the hustle and bustle of the outside world.The devotees here are very accommodating, and they kindly allowed the team from ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ to take snaps of their beloved deities.
‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ is very thankful and shall like to utilise this opportunity to remember and pray to Sri Bhagavatacharya ,a nitya siddha maha-bhagavata devotee, with whom Lord Gaurahari enjoyed such amazing transcendental pastimes.
Sri Kanai Thakura’s Pranavallava deities :
Another very important place to visit in the vicinity of baranagar Pathbari , is the house where the worshipable Radha Pranavallava deities of Sri Kanai Thakura are presently being served. Kanai Thakura, was the incarnation of Sri Ujjala Sakha of Vrindavana. His father Sri Purusottama, was one of the most intimate associates of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Kanai Thakura’s grandfather Sri Sadashiva Kaviraja was the incarnation of the Vraja gopi , Chandravali. Thus three generations of Sri Kanai Thakura’s family had been the most intimate servants of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. To read more about Sri Purusottama das Thakura, one can refer to our separate article entitled – ‘The worshipable deities of Jahnava Mata and Purusottama Das, Chandure gram, Simurali’.
Now this Pranavallava deity has a very long history. According to the hearsay, Sri Pranavallava was supernaturally obtained by Binayak Sen Sharma, the then chief minister of King Ballal Sen (ruler of Bengal about 800 years ago). Subsequently this deity was worshipped by many down the years and Pranavallava jiu had to hence travel from Sukhchar to Kanchrapada to Navadvipa to Bodhkana (presently in bangladesh). Here at Bodhkana , the service of this mesmerizing deity was taken over by Sri Kanai Thakura who loved Him more dearly than his own life. 400 years down the line, in the year 1946-47, Hindu Muslim riots broke out all over Bangladesh. Bodhkana was also adversely affected. As a result, Sri Radha Pranavallava had to be shifted quickly. The deity was brought over to India and is presently being served at a temple which is at a stone’s throw from Baranagar Path bari. The postal address of this temple is 1/1 Pathbari lane, Kolkata -700035. The place is well renowned in the locality as the residence of Sri Pranavallava. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ is honored to be able to post below the enchanting form of Sri Radha Pranavallava jiu.
What to See:
- Bhagavatacharya’s worshipable saligram sila and Gopala deity.
- Lord Caitanya’s paduka (footwear)
- Darsana of the mesmerizing Gaur-Nitai, Radha Krishna and Jagannatha Baladeva Subhadra deities.
- Grantha Mandira – a library housing ancient bengali and sanskrit manuscripts
- Sri Radha Pranavallava – worshipable deities of Sri Kanai Thakura (presently being served at 1/1 Pathbari lane, Kolkata -700035 )
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 exalted abode of Baranagar. 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 Bhagavatacharya 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.
How to Reach
This place is located at Baranagar, which is on the outskirts of North Kolkata. One can take a bus or train and get down at Dakshineswar. From there one can take a rickshaw to directly reach the Baranagar Path Bari (sometimes also spelt as ‘Patbari’). It is hardly an hour drive from the city.
The dutch had set up their homes here at Baranagar, in the seventeenth century, and later the place became an extensive center for trading jute and its products. Situated on the bank of the holy Ganges ,this ancient place, adorns a unique spiritual environment punctuated by simplicity and a proud history. Not very far from this place is the sakher bazar Patbari (at Ariadaha), which was once the residence of Sri Gadadhara Das, an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord. ‘The Gaudiya treasures of Bengal’ has covered the details of the sakher bazaar patbari in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Gadadhara das Sripat , Ariadaha’.
Accommodation – As Baranagar is not even an hour’s ride from kolkata, it is recommended that one stay in Kolkata and then travel to take darsana of the exalted sites of Baranagar. One can choose to stay at any of the hotels (there are many) in Kolkata.The devotees are advised to contact the authorities of Baranagar Pathbari temple to avail their prasadam.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Baranagar Road
(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)
To Learn more about the exalted pastimes and pastime places of Kolkata , 24 paraganas, Hooghly and Birbhum ,purchase this below book from our bookstore. Click on the Image below :