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“What one attains by travelling to all the holy places is attained just by remembering the transcendental abode of Navadvipa” –
Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya
Sri Kavi karnapura reveals in his Gaura ganoddesha dipika that :
Srila Vedavyasa incarnated as Vrindavan Das Thakur in Lord Caitanya’s pastimes. Krishna’s friend Kusumapida also entered into him for special purposes.
Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura is the original vyasadeva of Mahaprabhu’s lila. His spiritual master was none other than Lord Nityananda, the adi Guru Himself. Being empowered by his Guru, Srila Vrindavana das, has narrated an amazing heart-rendering biographical account of Lord Caitanya’s divine mood and His exalted pastimes, in his composition Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, which is today one of the most revered books of our Gaudiya Sampradaya.
Krishna-lila bhagavate kahe vedavyasa
Caitanya-lilara vyasa – vrindavana dasa
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi, 8.34)
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura (founder acharya of the Gaudiya Mathas) , has greatly glorified Srila Vrindavana Das in his Caitanya Bhagavata purports. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta writes that Srila Vrindavana das Thakura’s love and devotion towards his spiritual master Nityananda prabhu is simply incomparable. He mentions how Vrindavana Das was a topmost preacher of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy and how he constantly engaged himself with all his mind, body and words, in preaching the glories of the Vaishnava acharyas. A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (founder acharya of ISKCON) has also sung great glories of this towering personality. In one of the initiation lectures in boston, prabhupada mentions how Vrindavana Das Thakura is one of the great acharyas of our Gaudiya sampradaya, and how we should all pray and seek for his causeless mercy.
(‘The Gaudiya treasures of Bengal’ has covered the birth and the early pastimes of Nityananda prabhu in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Ekachakra Dham – Birthplace of Lord Nityananda’.This article has been based upon the writings of Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura in his book ‘Sri Nityananda Caritamrta’).
Srila Vrindavana das Thakura:
Srila Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami, the composer of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, another revered biography of Lord Caitanya, has mentioned how it is impossible for a mere human to compose something as heart melting and purifying as Caitanya Bhagavata (manusye racite nare aiche grantha dhanya) .He proclaims that if someone ,even if he is a great atheist, carefully hears Sri Caitanya Bhagavata (previously known as Caitanya Mangala),he shall at once be transformed into a great Vaishnava.
caitanya-mangala shune yadi pasandi, yavana
seha maha vaishnava haya tataksana
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi, 8.38)
Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura was born on the Krishna-Dwadashi tithi in the month of Vaisakha (April/May) , around the year 1507 AD at Mamgachi, in the island of Modadrumadvipa (one of the nine islands of Navadvipa) . Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura appeared a few years after Lord Caitanya had accepted His Sannyasa initiation. His father was a brahmin named Vaikunthanatha, whose ancestors had originally hailed from Srihatta (Sylhet).The Thakura’s mother was Narayani Devi,who was the niece of Srivasa Pandita (she was Nalina pandita’s daughter). Srila Vrindavana Das has not mentioned much about his father in any of his writings. It might be due to the reason that his father had passed away while he was still in Narayani devi’s womb. Some others say, that he made no mention of his father anywhere as his father had never fully surrendered himself unto the lotus feet of the Lord.
Malini devi ,the wife of Srivasa Pandita, had her ancestral home here at Mamgachi. Sri Vaikunthanatha was a descendent of her family. Hence after marriage, Srimati Narayani devi had moved over to Mamgachi, to reside with her in-laws, in Malini devi’s ancestral home. In course of time, Narayani Devi gave birth to the great Vaishnava Acharya Srila Vrindavan Das Thakura. Srimati Malini devi’s ancestral property is today renowned as the sripat of Srila Vrindavana das and over here the worshipable Gaura-Nitai deities of the Thakura are being diligently worshipped till this day.
Srimati Narayani devi, the Thakura’s mother, was showered with special mercy by Lord Caitanya while she was just a little child. Once while Sri Gaurasundara was manifesting His divine pastimes at Srivasa Angana, He ordered little Narayani, who was then just four years old, to chant the holy name of Lord Krishna and cry in ecstasy. Receiving the Lord’s mercy, little Narayani immediately chanted the holy names and fainted onto the ground, being overwhelmed with ecstatic emotions. Tears of love streamed down her eyes, and flooded the ground.The pastime has been very nicely captured by Srila Vrindavana Das in Caitanya Bhagavata –
Sarva-Bhuta antaryami Sri Gauranga Chand
Agnya kaila ‘Narayani Krishna bali kand’
Chari batsarer sei unmatta carita
‘Ha Krishna’ baliya matra parila bhumita
Anga bahi pare dhara prithibira tal-e
Paripurna haila sthala nayaner jal-e
(Sri Caitanya Bhagavata)
Sri Kavi Karnapura reveals in Gaura Gannodesha Dipika that Kilimbika, the sister of Krishna’s nurse – Ambika, appeared as Narayani devi in Gaura lila.She is an eternal associate of the Lord.
Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura lived here in Mamgachi till he reached Pauganda (age of ten). He studied over here and was nourished and raised up like a little gem. At the age of sixteen, he was initiated by Lord Nityananda. In course of time, he was ordered by Nityananda Prabhu, to settle down at Denur, a village in the Monteswar Block of the Bardhaman District. It was here at Denur, that our Thakura had composed the sublime Caitanya Bhagavata.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself exceedingly fortunate to have visited both Mamgachi and Denur and to have had an opportunity to pray to our dear Vrindavana Das Thakura at his sacred pastime places. Our visit to Denur is covered in a different article entitled – ‘Denur – Where Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura composed Sri Caitanya Bhagavata’.
Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura had reached his youth at a time, when there was a vacuum, in the whole of the Gaudiya Vaishnava community.The Lord and His associates had already disappeared by then ,after having concluded their pastimes.It was a time when the smarta brahmanas were on the rise. A smarta brahmana is one who is only interested in material gains, and considers the karma kanda ,instead of the Bhakti Kanda section of the Vedas, to be the highest truth.These smartas tried various ways and means to discredit the essence of pure devotional service. Spreading hatred and passing derogatory remarks about lord Nityananda, preaching wrong philosophies that contradict Vaishnavism, spreading false rumours about Vrindavana Das Thakura and his family, were some of their many dirty tricks. By this time the smartas and the pseudo devotees had already taken control of many of the sacred pastime places. In some places they even began worshipping Maa kali keeping her on the same pedestal as the Supreme Lord. But inspite of their several attempts and personal attacks, these people were utterly unsuccessful in discouraging Srila Vrindavan Das, who being empowered by the mercy of his Guru, continued serving the Lord and His devotees enthusiastically.Those who read and relish Sri Caitanya Bhagavata will surely understand how the Thakura was instrumental in preserving the timeless teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the essence of Bhakti, at a time when pure devotional service was partly covered by the dense cloud of philosophical deviations.
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 Mamgachi.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 Vrindavana Das Thakura that we advance in our Krishna consciousness,develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda 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 :
- Worshipable Nitai Gauranga deities of Sri Vrindavana Das Thakura
- Srila Bhaktisiddhanta saraswati Thakura has established ‘Sri Modadruma Gaudiya Matha’ at this sacred site, and the devotees of the Matha are presently nicely taking care of the place and the worship of the deities.
How to Reach:
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.
The birthplace of Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura is located at the village of Mamgachi, in Modadrumadvipa (an island towards the northern end of Navadvipa).One can hire a cab/autorickshaw from Mayapur to reach this place.This place is not very far from Purbasthali , a station that arrives a few stops after Navadvipa. However, if one is not well acquainted with these places, he is advised to book a cab from ‘Gauranga Travels’ (office within Iskcon Mayapur temple premises) and ask them to bring him over to this ancient site.
Lord Rama had come to this island of Modadrumadvipa in the previous kalpa, along with brother Lakshmana and wife Sita, while He was in exile. He had constructed a hut here under a banyan tree in which the three of them had resided for a few days. Resting at this place, Sri Rama narrated the glories of Navadvipa and described the enchanting mood and form of Lord Gaurahari.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay at Iskcon Mayapur and then hire a cab to travel to Mamgachi. Or else, one can choose to stay at any of the Gaudiya Mathas in Navadvipa, and then travel to this place. One can easily avail his prasadam in any of the temples.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Navadvipa
(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)
On an ending note:
‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has been striving to seek shelter of such great personalities throughout its spiritual journey. It is only with this objective of receiving their mercy and sharing it with others, that we have set out from our homes, trying to reveal to the world the mood and esoteric pastimes of these great men.The life and teachings, of these stalwarts inspire us to imbibe the same values and principles in our own lives and we pray that they mercifully bless us, so that we may forever contemplate upon their blissful pastimes.
We leave you with a heart melting bengali composition of Vrindavana Das Thakura. In order to avoid making this article any longer, we have not posted below its english translation.One interested may later look up for its translation in the Vaishnava Song Book.
Nace re Nace re Nitai Gaur Guna Maniya
nace re nace re nitai gaur guna maniya
nace re nace re nitai gaur guna maniya
(nace re nace re nitai gaur dvija maniya)
bame priya gadadhara, srivasa advaita bara,
parisada taragana jinya
baje khola karatala, madhura sangita bhala,
gagana bhorilo haridhvaniya
candana carcita gay, phagu bindu bindu tay,
vanamala dole bhalo boliya
gale subhra upavita, rupa koti kama jita,
carane nupura ranaraniya
dui bhai naci jay, sahacara gana gay,
gadadhara ange pore dhuliya
puruba rabhasa lila, ebe pahu prakasila,
sei brindaban ei nadiya
bihare gangatire, sei dhira samire,
Vrndavana das kohe janiya