The holy dham of Khardaha is located hardly at a distance of 20 kms from kolkata.The land of merciful Nityananda Prabhu is decorated all over with various wish fulfilling trees that readily bestow pure devotion upon all without any discrimination. Various demigods have been waiting and meditating for millions of years desiring to take birth in the transcendental abode of Khardaha, where they shall be able to associate with the Lord’s pure devotees and obtain the dust from their lotus feet.The land of Khardaha is a witness to Lord Nitai’s ecstatic pastimes, merely contemplating upon which ,one easily gains entry into the realm of transcendence. Srimati Jahnava Devi, Vasudha devi, Birchandra Prabhu have all manifested their sweet pastimes here and sanctified this holy tract of land. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ is exceedingly blessed to have been able to visit Khardaha and take darsana of Kunja Vatika where Lord Nityananda manifests His eternal pastimes.
‘Tabey Aailen Prabhu Khardaha Grame
Purandar Panditer Devalaya Sthane
Khardaha Grame aashi Nityananda Raya
Yatah Nritya Karilen-Kahane Naa Jai ‘
– Then Lord Nityananda arrived at the residence of Purandara Pandit in Khardaha village. Here at Khardaha,He had manifested so many innumerable ecstatic dancing pastimes, that it is impossible for one to recount all of them.
(Sri Caitanya Bhagavata)
Lord Nitai’s family :
Sri Nityananda Prabhu is none other than Lord Balarama, the first expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Narottama das Thakura sings ‘vrajendra nandana yei, saci suta haila sei, balarama haila Nitai’.Vrajendra Nandana is Lord Krishna, the master of Vraja (Vrindavana) and Saci suta refers to the son of mother Saci.So the same person who previously had been the darling of Vrindavana has now incarnated as Sri Caitanya, the son of Saci mata.Similarly, the person who previously had been Lord Balarama has now appeared as Nityananda Prabhu.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the early pastimes of Lord Nityananda in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Ekachakra Dham – Birthplace of Lord Nityananda’.
On the orders of Lord Caitanya, Sri Nityananda prabhu had returned to Bengal. He was instructed to get married and accept Grihasta ashrama.Lord Caitanya had entrusted the preaching of Bengal under the leadership of merciful Nitai.In order to fulfil the orders of the Lord, He soon got married to the two daughters of Suryadasa Sarkhel, namely Vasudha and Jahnava, and settled down at Kunja Vatika in the town of khardaha.The marriage of Nityananda prabhu is covered in detail in another of our articles entitled – ‘Lord Nityananda’s marriage with Srimati Jahnava and Vasudha, Ambika Kalna’. In course of time, He begot one son and one daughter – Sri Birchandra Prabhu and Srimati Ganga Muni Devi.
Sri Gaura Ganoddesha Dipika reveals that Srimati Vasudha and Jahnava were actually the incarnations of the eternal consorts of Lord Balarama, namely Srimati Varuni and Revati devi respectively.Sri Birchandra Prabhu was none other than Kshirodakashayi Vishnu ,who manifests as the supersoul in all of our hearts,while mother Ganges descended as Ganga muni devi, the daughter of Lord Nityananda.
Appearance of Kunja Vatika (Lord Nitai’s residence):
According to the hearsay, after His marriage, Lord Nityananda had requested the local zamindar, over here in Khardaha,to kindly allot him a piece of land, where He and His family could reside. The zamindar , being then unaware of Lord Nityananda’s divinity (Lord Nitai is Lord Balarama Himself), rebuked Him for abandoning His sannyasa and accepting a wife later on.The zamindar at the time of conversation was fishing along with his friends on the bank of the Ganges.He sarcastically replied to Nityananda, that if He really needed a piece of land to stay, then He would have to create it out of water. Saying this the zamindar threw a piece of burning straw into the Ganges, in order to mark the place on water where the zamindar desired Lord Nityananda, to set up His residence. Basically he refused Lord Nitai’s proposal and made fun of him in front of his friends.
Nityananda prabhu, who always remained very humble and without any anger (akrodha), did not mind the zamindar’s harsh words and assured the zamindar, that whatever he had wished (though sarcastically) would surely come to pass. What happened next stunned all present.A huge mass of land suddenly appeared from the water exactly at the place where the burning piece of straw had hit it.Then this newly created island then got connected with the mainland.This place subsequently came to be known as ‘Khardaha’ (‘khar’ means straw in bengali). Lord Nitai set up His residence on this piece of land and began residing with His family. His transcendental house is presently renowned all over the three worlds as Kunja vatika.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ is exceedingly proud to have visited and taken darsana of this sacred place.
Appearance of Sri Birchandra :
There is a very sweet pastime that has been narrated in Abhirama lilamrita, which talks of Sri Abhirama Gopala thakura’s arrival in Khardaha. Sri Abhirama Gopal Thakura, one of the most prominent of the twelve cowherd boys (Dvadasa Gopala), was a very powerful personality. He was a great friend and an intimate associate of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. If Abhirama Thakura bowed down to any person who was not the Lord, or empowered by the Lord, then that person would die immediately. Similarly if he bowed down before any stone that was not a saligrama sila, then that stone would immediately crack.Several deities in Bengal had cracked just because Sri Abirama had paid them his obeisances.All the previous seven sons of Nityananda Prabhu had died because Sri Abhirama Thakura had paid them his dandavats. The pastimes of Abhirama Thakura are covered in detail in a separate article entitled – ‘The Sripat of Abhirama Gopala Thakura-Khanakul Krishnanagar’.
However when Sri Birchandra prabhu appeared in this world, Lord Nitai was very careful not to invite Sri Abhirama Gopala Thakura , to attend His child’s birth ceremony.He feared that Abhirama would again bow down and cause harm to His child.Though Lord Nitai was an expansion of the Supreme Lord, yet He played His part like a normal father, and therefore expressed His concerns and anguish. Nityananda Prabhu did not want to take any risks. He feared that Abhirama could still arrive uninvited.Hence He instructed all the boatmen of Khardaha not to transport Abhirama Thakura to the other side of Ganges, in case he was seen that day.
Sri Abhirama Gopala was a cowherd boy of Vrindavana, and he neither had any ego nor did he care for any false prestige. In a very innocent mood , leaving behind all inhibitions, he set out for Khardaha without any invitation, to meet his dear friend and bless His newborn.When Abhirama Thakura arrived on the bank of the Ganges,and asked the boatmen to carry him to Khardaha, the boatmen panicked. Running out of options, they drowned their boats in the water. But Abhirama then simply spread his cloth and then sitting on that floating cloth ,peacefully crossed over the river. Seeing his prowess, all the onlookers were amazed. When Abhirama finally arrived at Kunja Vatika, Nityananda Prabhu courteously embraced him and fed him sumptuously. Thereafter in spite of Srimati Jahnava and Vasudha Devi’s pleas, Abhirama bowed down again and paid his obeisances to little Birchandra. When he saw that no harm was caused to the little child, he became overjoyed and composed verses glorifying Him, understanding that He was the expansion of the Supreme Lord. In an intoxicated mood, he sang and danced in ecstasy.Immersed in an ocean of joy, Abhirama began singing :
ye na dekhecha gora ,dekha ara bar ,punarbar sei gora vira avatar
‘One who has not witnessed the Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya, now has the opportunity to behold Him again, as the same lord has now appeared as Sri Birchandra’
Lord Nitai’s ecstatic pastimes :
Sri Nityananda prabhu had performed the most amazing pastimes here in Khardaha, that cannot be completely described even with a thousand mouths. Such was His magnanimity,such was His mood, that He freely distributed the treasure of the Lord’s love ,obtaining which is rare even for demigods like Brahma, to one and all without judging one’s qualification (Brahma-ra durlabha prema sabakare yache). His uncommon unique pastimes moved even the atheists to cry tears of love.Lord Nitai was almost completely devoid of any external consciousness and remained intoxicated in an ecstatic love of God.In such a state of utter ecstasy, He would sometimes jump high up in the air or at other times roll over the ground, while continuously glorifying the Supreme Lord. Sometimes He would laugh and at other times, streams of tears would roll down His beautiful eyes.
He would hold straw between His teeth and beg whomever He saw to worship Lord Gaurahari and thereby purchase Him in return (jaare dekhe taare kohe dante trna dhori, amare kiniya loho bolo Gaurahari). Saying thus, He would roll over the ground in ecstasy, and would appear like a golden mountain tumbling in the dust (eto boli Nityananda bhume gadi jaya, shonara parvata jeno dhulate lutaya).His uncommon nature and mesmerizing features amazed one and all.
In the words of Locana Das Thakura :
locana bole mor nitai jeba na bhajilo
janiya suniya sei atma-ghati hoilo
Locana das proclaims, that whoever has not worshipped Lord Nityananda or has not taken advantage of the excellent opportunity offered by Him, knowingly commits suicide.
How can we even possibly try to describe our Doyal Nitai ?
His magnanimous , unique qualities are simply beyond human definition. How can we possibly comprehend the activities of the first expansion of the Supreme Lord , who leaving behind all His wealth,fame and position in Vaikuntha, danced around like a madman crying ‘Gauranga, Gauranga’ in utter ecstasy.Holding straws between His teeth, begging from door to door and urging people to chant, He sanctified mother earth by rolling over her dusty grounds, and bathing His beautiful body with impurities.
Being intoxicated with love, He had bestowed the supreme mercy of pure devotional service ,even upon those petty drunkards who had hurled broken pots at Him and caused Him to bleed.
Being completely devoid of external consciousness, Lord Nitai sometimes roamed naked at Srivasa angana, or threw food around like a little baby.
May the lotus feet of Lord Nitai, the saviour of the fallen souls, one who plays eternally beneath the shades of the Bakul tree at Ekachakra, be the constant object of my meditation.
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 Khardaha. 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 Lord Nityananda that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto His lotus feet 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 Gaura Nitai and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
How to Reach :
Take a train from the Sealdah station and get down at Khardaha. From there you can take a rickshaw and directly reach Kunja vatika. The place is just adjacent to the Radha Syamasundara temple.The journey from kolkata hardly takes 1.5 hours.
Khardaha is a beautiful place by the Ganges ,located in the north 24 parganas district of West Bengal.It is very near and well connected to kolkata via road ,railways and waterways. The place shall be ever glorified in the pages of Gaudiya history, owing to the ecstatic and awe-inspiring pastimes that Sri Nityananda Prabhu has performed over here.And just by taking darsana of the beautiful form of Radha Syamasundara, here in Khardaha, one can forever lose all his temporary interests in this material world. Our visit to the Radha Syamasundara temple is covered in a different article entitled – ‘Sri Sri Radha-Syamasundara temple, Khardaha’. We visited Khardaha on the auspicious occasion of Govardhan puja, and we noticed that almost each and every home here worshipped Radha Krishna Deities and had arranged to pompously celebrate the annakuta festival.The people of Khardaha came across as extremely pious and spiritual. Sri Srinivasa Acharya, the stalwart vaishnava who was the incarnation of Lord Caitanya’s ecstasy, had also once come to Khardaha to seek the blessings of Srimati Jahnava mata and Birchandra prabhu ,and smear himself with the dust of this sacred place, before setting out for Vrindavana (Please refer- ‘Sri Srinivasa Acharya’s Sripat, Jajigram (Near Srikhanda, Katwa)’) .What more is left to desire,when one can so easily avail here in Khardaha ,the dust of Lord Nitai’s lotus feet.Jai Nitai !
Accommodation – As Khardaha 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 Khardaha. One can choose to stay at any of the hotels (there are many) in Kolkata. One can also opt to stay in the guest house of Iskcon Kolkata (3c Albert Road, Near Minto Park). The devotees are advised to contact the temple authorities of Radha-Syamasundara temple in Khardaha to avail their prasadam.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Khardaha
(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)
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