“What one attains by travelling to all the holy places is attained just by remembering the transcendental abode of Navadvipa”
– Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya
Panca tattvatmakam krsnam bhakta-rupa-svarupakam
bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam namami bhakta saktikam
I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, who is non-different from His features as a devotee (Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu), devotional manifestation (Sri Nityananda Prabhu), devotional incarnation (Sri Advaita Acarya), devotional energy (Sri Gadadhara Pandita) and pure devotee (Sri Srivasa Pandita).
According to Sri Gaura Gannoddesha Dipika, Srivasa Pandita is none other than the incarnation of Narada Muni, who had appeared to assist his beloved Lord enact the heart melting pastimes of Navadvipa. Srivasa Angan, or the house of Srivasa Pandita, is a stone’s throw from Lord Caitanya’s birthplace at Yogpeeth (Refer – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’). Here Lord Caitanya along with His confidential associates, had inaugurated the Harinaam sankirtana movement, 500 years ago. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami reveals in Caitanya Caritamrta that Lord Gaurahari eternally resides and performs His sweet ecstatic pastimes at four holy places, and Srivasa Angan is one of them.Yogpeeth, wherever Lord Nityananda dances (nityananda nartane) and Raghava Bhavan, the house of Raghava pandita, being the other three.
saci-ra mandire ar nityananda nartane
srivasa kirtane, ar raghava bhavane
ei chari thani prabhu-ra sada abirbhava
premakrishta haya, prabhura sahaja swabhava
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Antya – 2.34-35)
Every night the Lord would meet with all His associates at Srivasa Pandita’s house and engage in ecstatic dancing and loud congregational chanting of the holy names. There are innumerable pastimes that our sweet Lord had enacted at Srivasa Angan, just by mere contemplation upon which ,can award one with the highest benediction of Krishna Prema.Though it is not humanly possible for one to recount all of these magnificent pastimes, yet ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ shall try to narrate a few of them below, for our own purification and for the sake of pleasing the devotees.
A brief description of Srivasa Pandita’s family :
Srivasa pandita ,and his family members had originally hailed from Srihatta (Sylhet,currently situated in Bangladesh) and later moved over to reside at Navadvipa. Srivasa Pandita had appeared in this world about 30 years before the birth of Lord Caitanya. Srivasa Pandita is one of the members of the pancha-tattva (the five members representing the five diversities of the Absolute truth) and represents the pure devotee of the Lord. Sri Jaladhar Pandita, a traditional brahmin, fathered five glorious sons – Nalina , Srivasa , Srinidhi, Sripati and Sriram. Nalina Pandita, the eldest of them all, was the father of Narayani Devi who subsequently became the mother of Srila Vrindavana das Thakura, the author of Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, the heart melting biography of Lord Caitanya (refer – ‘Denur – Where Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura composed Sri Caitanya Bhagavata’). Sriram pandita, Srivasa’s younger brother ,was the incarnation of Parvata Muni, a close friend of sage Narada.Srimati Malini Devi ,the wife of Srivasa pandita, was previously the nurse Ambika in Krishna lila, who used to feed little Krishna ,with her own breast milk. Malini devi was an intimate friend and companion of Saci mata, and regularly shared her advice on how to raise up mischievous Nimai.Later, after Lord Gaurasundara had accepted His sannyasa initiation and moved over to Jagannatha Puri, Srivasa pandita together with his family, being unable to bear the mournful separation from their beloved Lord, shifted to a place called Halisahar, located on the other side of the Ganges. His worshipable Gaura-Nitai deities are till this day being served at a place called Chinsurah, where one can obtain their mesmerizing darsana (refer – ‘Sri Srivasa Pandita’s deities ,Uddharan Gaudiya Math, Chinsurah’).Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja explains in Caitanya Caritamrta how Srivasa Pandita, along with his whole family wholeheartedly engaged in the service of Sri Caitanya deva. They knew of no other Gods or Goddesses.
chari bhai savamse kare Caitanyera seva
Gauracandra bina nahi jane devi deva
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi – 10.11)
The pastimes at Srivasa Angan :
Every evening,the devotees congregated at Srivasa Angan (Srivasa Pandita’s house) and completely immersed themselves in ecstatic dance and kirtana.The envious people of Navadvipa, however, gathered outside the gates and spent their time criticizing the activities of the devotees.None of the people from outside were allowed into Srivasa Pandita’s house though, as all the blissful transcendental pastimes at Srivasa Angan, occurred on the other side of the locked doors.
None in the world could dance as beautifully and as gracefully as Sri Gauranga. As soon as the Kirtana began, the Lord became absorbed in trance ,and would sometimes fall down upon the ground with such force, that the earth would seem to shake.Sometimes He would become so heavy that no one could restrain Him, while at other times, he would become as light as a cotton.Sometimes He would weep for hours altogether, trembling and rolling on the floor, while the devotees would secretly take the dust from His lotus feet. The soul stirring kirtana of the devotees,mixed with the melodious voices of Kartala,mridanga and conch shells, coupled with the Lord’s ecstatic dancing created a musical uproar that cannot be compared to anything of this material world. The Lord would display ecstatic symptoms which are not revealed in the scriptures – Sometimes His body became stiff like a statue, while at other times it became as soft as a cream,Sometime His body became elongated to such an extent that He appeared twice His normal size, while at other times, He looked thinner and smaller than usual. Being completely devoid of external consciousness, the Lord would sometimes call out the previous names of His associates, thus revealing their identities in Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes, thereby enchanting one and all.Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura explains in Sri Caitanya Bhagavata ,that the ecstatic dancing pastimes of the Lord at Srivasa Angan were just like Krishna’s Rasa lila. He explains that actually millenniums passed by during these pastimes, while by human calculation it seemed to be just for a few hours. The reciprocation between the Lord and His intimate devotees is very difficult to understand by ordinary people like us.
Srivasa pandita’s son passes away during sankirtana:
There was one particular pastime that occurred during one of these days, which showcased the elevated mood and devotion that Srivasa Pandita possessed towards Sri Gaurahari. One evening, the Lord along with His associates engaged in an ecstatic dancing sankirtana at Srivasa Angan. While everyone was busy in sankirtana, the pandita’s young son, who had been ill for a few days, passed away. The ladies within the house began to wail in lamentation at the boy’s untimely death. Srivasa pandita could sense that some calamity had befallen his house. He quickly entered the inner chambers and found out what had happened.Being well versed in the scriptures, he could control his own grief and tried his best to console the women of the house.He explained to them that all living beings are actually spiritual entities who transmigrate from one body to the other. Hence death is inevitable for a living entity. However, as this boy had passed away while hearing the Lord’s holy names, he must have achieved the supreme benediction of going back to the spiritual world. Hence none should cry keeping in mind the good fortune of his son. Srivasa Pandita further reminded them that the Supreme Lord, who is the very object of worship of all the demigods, including demigods like Lord Brahma and Shiva, was personally dancing in their courtyard and he hence requested all the ladies to control their cries until the Lord had finished His sankirtana. Srivasa didn’t want to disturb the lord and dampen His ecstatic mood. Srivasa Pandita warned the ladies that if the dancing of the Lord was disturbed due to their hue and cries, then he would commit suicide by jumping into the Ganges.After instructing thus, Srivasa pandita returned and joined Mahaprabhu in His ecstatic sankirtana.
Mahaprabhu continued His kirtana till the middle of the night at Srivasa Angan. But of course the omniscient Lord knew everything of what had happened, and prolonged His kirtana only to further glorify Srivasa, His dear devotee.Lord Gauranga then expressed that He didn’t find the usual bliss in the kirtana that day and suspected that some calamity had befallen Srivasa Pandita’s family. When Sri Caitanya came to know of the untimely death of Srivasa’s son, He became greatly shocked and was surprised why nobody had informed Him about the incident till then. Noting Srivasa Pandita’s pure devotion and his selfless love,the lord began to cry and embraced him dearly. He repeatedly uttered to Himself as to how He could ever possibly abandon the company of such selfless pure associates. The surrounding devotees however became concerned hearing the lord speak of abandoning them. The devotees would later come to realize that the Lord by then had already made up His mind to accept sannyasa (renounced order of life).
Thereafter Mahaprabhu came over to where the dead body of the child was lying.As soon as He touched the body, the child regained his consciousness and began to speak as follows – After offering obeisances unto Sri Gaurahari, the child explained that the ordain of the Supreme lord is absolute, and no one can change that. He continued that he had taken birth several times before and had also undergone the process of death on all those occasions. However, on this particular occasion, he had the supreme fortune of beholding the lotus face of Gaurasundara , while passing away and thus he had left his body very happily. Speaking thus, the child fell silent once more. Hearing these words from the mouth of a dead child, all the devotees present at srivasa Angana , became struck with wonder and fell upon the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya. Mahaprabhu then revealed that He and Nityananda Prabhu were like the two sons of Srivasa pandita and hence He advised the devotees not be too aggrieved at their recent loss.
The Lord enacted this pastime at Srivasa Angan only to teach us, how selfless and surrendered a perfect devotee should be.No matter what the personal loss, an ideal devotee is never too morose or baffled ,as pleasing the Supreme Lord remains always his prime focus and ultimate objective.He is completely dependent upon the mercy of the Supreme, and hence relates anything good or bad that happens with him, as the will of the Supreme Lord, his ever well-wisher. Sri Srivasa Pandita is an example of such an ideal pure devotee of the Lord.
Mahaprakash Lila (the ecstasy of 21 hours) at Srivasa Anagan:
One day, Lord Gaurahari stood up to dance at Srivasa Pandita’s house, but instead of doing so He went and sat upon Lord Vishnu’s throne.On the previous occasions, whenever the Lord had mounted upon the altar, he had done so in devotional ecstasy .But this time, He did this on purpose. In fact the Lord remained seated upon the throne for the next 21 hours ,enacting one of His most awe inspiring pastimes.This pastime is sometimes also referred to as Sath-prahariya- bhava (sath – seven, Prahar – 1 prahar is equivalent to 3 hours).Understanding His mood, the devotees arranged for pots of water from the holy Ganges and performed His abhishek (bathing ceremony). After mixing the ganges water with saffron,camphor,musk,sandalwood paste ,the devotees bathed the Lord, one by one. Usually 108 pots of water are utilized for doing abhishek but on this case, the number far exceeded. One of Srivasa Pandita’s maidservants, who was named Dukhi (meaning one who is sad) was engaged in this service of bringing the water from the Ganges. Seeing her thus immersed in service, sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was so happy, that He gave her the name Sukhi (meaning one who is happy) thereby indicating that He had taken away all her material distresses.
After the abhishek ceremony, the lord wanted His devotees to offer Him various kinds of food to eat. Here it must be noted that the Lord wants His devotees to serve Him in order to shower His mercy upon them and further purify them. He accepts even if His devotee offers Him a tulasi leaf and water with love. But the Lord would accept nothing from one who is not devoted unto Him. Hundreds of pots of Dahi (curd),milk,bunches of bananas,coconuts,sweets,etc were offered unto the lord who immediately consumed them to the pleasure of all present.
After this, the Lord reminded the devotees of various incidents from their past and how the Lord had helped them in those situations.The Lord reminded Srivasa Pandita, how he used to attend Devananda Pandita’s Srimad Bhagavatam classes. While attending one of these lectures, Sri Srivasa became overwhelmed with ecstasy, and crying profusely fell down upon the floor unconscious. Not being able to grasp his elevated mood and considering him to be a disturbance, the fellow students carried Srivasa Pandita outside and put him in the street. Devananda pandita didn’t protest to these insulting actions of his students as he was also ignorant of pure devotional service. When Srivasa Pandita returned to his home with a heavy heart, the lord provided him His shelter. He enabled Srivasa to read and relish Srimad Bhagavatam being immersed in the ecstatic love of Godhead.
Similarly the Lord interacted with Advaita Acharya ,Haridasa Thakura , Mukunda Datta , Murari Gupta, Gangadasa Pandita and reminded them of their past incidents and revealed to them their identities in Krishna’s eternal pastimes. Sri Gaurahari remarked that the real purport of Sri Murari Gupta’s name was that Murari (Krishna) ever lied hidden (Gupta) within his heart.The Lord revealed Himself to Murari Gupta as his beloved Ramchandra. The Lord also reminded Murari that he was the incarnation of Ramchandra’s eternal servitor, Sri Hanuman.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the life and pastimes of Sri Murari Gupta in a separate article entitled – ‘Residence of Sri Murari Gupta ,Mayapur, Navadvipa’.
The Lord revealed to Haridasa Thakura, that it was actually He who had embraced Haridasa and tolerated the whips of the demoniac guards ,who mercilessly dragged and beat him at the twenty two market places.The Lord wanted to severe the heads of the miscreants with His sudarshana Chakra, but was unable to do so as Haridasa Thakura continuously prayed for them and forgave their offenses .So these guards had actually beaten the lord instead who had invisibly protected Haridas Thakura by embracing him. The lord then revealed His bare back which still carried the marks of those whip lashes that he had accepted on behalf of His dear devotee.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the pastimes of Haridasa Thakura in detail in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Haridasa Thakura’s Bhajana Kutira, Phulia’.
Similarly the Lord reminded Gangadasa Pandita of the incident where he and his family were trying to escape the king and his demoniac guards.Reaching the bank of the Ganges when Gangadasa Pandita could find no boat, he became concerned for his family’s safety, and wanted to commit suicide by drowning himself in the river.At that time, the Lord Himself appeared as a boatman and rescued Gangadasa and his family by safely carrying them to the other side of the river.Similarly,the Lord interacted with all of His associates during this magnanimous pastime and granted them several benedictions.
During the Mahaprakash lila, as this pastime is commonly referred to, Mahaprabhu showered His blessings upon another of his dear devotees named Kolaveca Sridhar, who made a living out of selling banana products.Hardly any of the Lord’s devotees present that day at srivasa Angan knew of the deep relationship between Lord Caitanya and Kolaveca Sridhar. So when Mahaprabhu called out for Sridhar, the devotees had to actually search for his home before they could find and bring him to Mahaprabhu. Sridhar’s residence was situated within the dense forests that presently surround the temple of Lord Jagannatha at Rajapur, today.
Sridhar was materially impoverished but was highly devoted to the Supreme Lord.He would engage fifty percent of whatever little income he made selling banana leaves and banana products, in the worship of mother Ganges. Little Nimai Pandita (as Mahaprabhu was called in His young days, before he took initiation at Gaya), would go to Sridhar every single day and bargain with him the price of these banana leaves, which were very cheap in the first place.At the end of the bargain, Nimai would forcibly take away the banana leaves paying just a few conch shells.Though Sridhar outwardly showed dissatisfaction, internally he became very happy and actually waited for Mahaprabhu to come again the next day. He didn’t understand why, but he always became very blissful whenever he came into contact with Nimai pandita.
Lord Caitanya displayed to Sridhar His divine opulence at Srivasa Angan. He mercifully gave him darsana of His six armed form (combined form as Lord Krishna, Ramachandra and Mahaprabhu) and then His two armed form as Sri Krishna. Sridhar could also see his worshipable mother Ganga, along with the other demigods such as Brahma and Shiva eternally serving Mahaprabhu.The hood of Ananta Sesha acted as Mahaprabhu’s umbrella and the sages like Narada and Sukadeva Goswami offered their prayers with folded hands.Mahaprabhu then desired to bestow some benediction unto Sridhar. He wanted to give him the eight mystic siddhis – anima , mahima, laghima, prapthi, ishita, vashita,Prakamya, Kamavasayita. But Sridhar said he didn’t want them. Then Lord Caitanya wanted to impart unto him liberation, the freedom from birth and death. Sridhar rejected them as well.With a deeply emotional heart Sridhar then exclaimed that if the Lord really wanted to bestow upon him a benediction , then let him be granted this boon that he be a servant of the little Nimai Pandita life after life. He wished that wherever Nimai goes, he accompany Him as His humble servant and be able to serve Him by providing Him ,all His requirements of vegetables and bananas. Sri Caitanya was very happy and granted Sridhar his desired benediction. Mahaprabhu then revealed that He had granted Sridhar the greatest boon, something that was elusive to even demigods like Brahma and Indra.He had granted him the boon of pure devotional service; the treasure of Krishna Prema. This is the greatness of a devotee. He has no interest in anything which is not related to the pure devotional service of the Supreme Lord, which he treasures above all else.As soon as the Lord granted Sridhar this benediction, the vaishnavas present shouted ‘Haribol ! Haribol !’ .The demigods began dancing and showering flowers being amazed at the magnanimity of Mahaprabhu.
On a closing note :
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 Navadvipa. 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 Srivasa Pandita 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.
The pastimes at Srivasa Angana are infinite and is impossible even for Ananta Sesha with His thousands of hoods to describe.We ,insignificant servants are trying our best to narrate as much as we know,for the pleasure of Sri Guru and Gauranga. The readers are here requested to excuse any of our unintentional mistakes ,as we are mere fools who, not knowing our limits, are trying to delve deep into this esoteric well, in order to excavate the mesmerizing jewels that adorn the devotees of Sri Gaurasundara. The article continues into Part 2 (Srivasa Angan & Samadhi of Chand Kazi, Mayapur, Navadvipa – Part 2)…
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 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 Srivasa Angan. This house of Srivasa pandita is only a few meters away from the Iskcon Mayapur temple.
Accommodation – One can choose to avail the good facilities of Iskcon Mayapur where one can honour nice prasadam as well.Please make sure to book your rooms well in advance.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Navadvipa / Krishnanagar
(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)