Monthly Archives: January 2018

Bhakti Bhavan : Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house in Kolkata

Bhakti Bhavan

Sri Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who is sometimes also referred to as the seventh Goswami, is an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord. His contribution to the Brahma-Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya is invaluable.At a time when the science of pure devotional service (Bhakti) had almost become lost due to the cultural and religious chauvinism of the ruling British, and the essence of Vaishnavism largely discredited due to the perverted actions and lifestyles of a few non bonafide Vaishnava sects, Srila Bhaktivinoda was largely responsible for rescuing and unearthing the timeless teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In Fact it was he who ,after conducting a painstaking research, had rediscovered the long lost birthsite of Sri Gaurasundara (refer – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’). Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, was not only a magistrate, but also a renowned and recognised scholar in his days, with vast knowledge in english,bengali,hindi,oriya and sanskrit.He was also a member of the royal asiatic society of London. Such was the degraded state of affairs during those days, that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura could not find a bonafide copy of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, the most important literature for understanding Lord Caitanya’s life and teachings, anywhere. It was only after several enquiries and a long wait, that he received a copy of this book. He subsequently published it along with his commentaries (Amrta-pravaha-bhasya). Likewise, he was instrumental in unearthing several ancient manuscripts like Caitanyopanishad ( portion of Atharva Veda) ,Sri Krishna Vijaya, etc. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself an insignificant servant of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whose causeless mercy has enabled us fools to get a glimpse of his elevated stature and pen a few lines in his glorification.

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Birthplace of Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura, Mamgachi, Mayapur Nabadwip dham

mamgachi

“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’).

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Sakhi Akhra and Madhai Tala ,Katwa

sakhi akhra

Sakhi Akhra:

A few minutes ride from Sri Gauranga Bari (at Katwa), brought us to the house of the great devotee, Sri Madhu Pramanick ,the barber, who,keeping a stone in his heart, had shaved Sri Mahaprabhu’s hairs during His sannyasa initiation. The place is locally known as ‘Sakhi Akhra’ and is situated at Baganpara, in Katwa. Madhu wept bitterly as did all the devotees, who couldn’t tolerate the Lord of their lives relinquishing His beautiful curly hair,decorated with malati flowers ,that had previously enchanted the three worlds. That day, instead of picking up his razor, Sri Madhu, sat hanging his head between his hands and cried profusely.Madhu could realize that Sri Nimai pandita was the Supreme Lord and he requested Him again and again to reconsider His decision of accepting the sannyasa order. But Nimai remained very determined.

Finally, at the end of the day, Mahaprabhu’s hairs were shaved, and after performing this ghastly act, the tearful Madhu immediately threw off his razors in the Ganges and vowed never to use them again. He repeatedly cursed his profession which made him commit such a heartbreaking deed. From that day onwards, Madhu Napit (barber) became Madhu Moira (sweet maker) and spent his days meditating on the blissful form of Sri Gaurasundara.

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Mayapur Sri Chaitanya math – Chandrasekhar Acharya Bhavan (Masir Bari)

Chaitanya Math

“What one attains by travelling to all the holy places is attained just by remembering the transcendental abode of Navadvipa” –
Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya

Sri Chandrasekhara Acharya, or Acharya Ratna as he was sometimes referred to ,was the great second branch of Lord Chaitanya’s desire tree of devotional service.He was Lord Chaitanya’s maternal uncle, the husband of Sarvajaya, Saci Mata’s sister.He, like Jagannatha Mishra was originally a resident of Sylhet. He was one of the five devotees who had accompanied the Lord to witness His sannyasa initiation at Katwa (refer – ‘Sri Gauranga Bari (katwa) – Where Mahaprabhu accepted Sannyasa’). According to Gaura Ganoddesha dipika, Sri Chandrasekhara was the incarnation of the Moon God. Needless to say, he was an intimate associate of Mahaprabhu. Later Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura , the founder of the worldwide Gaudiya Mathas (temples), had established one of his main branches here, at the house of Chandrasekhara. He had named it as Vrajapattana, or the place where Vrindavana, the highest spiritual realm, became manifest. Lord Chaitanya had enacted a beautiful play ,revealing the pastimes of Vrindavana, here at Chandrasekhara Bhavan, that enchanted the hearts of all the devotees.This episode of Mahaprabhu enacting this play has been described vividly by Srila Vrindavana das Thakura in Chaitanya Bhagavata .‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself immensely fortunate to be able to narrate this nectarian pastime below.

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Sri Srivasa Pandita’s deities ,Uddharana Gaudiya Math, Chinsurah

chinsurah

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. Sri Srivasa Pandita couldn’t bear the separation from his beloved Lord Caitanya, after He had accepted the Sannyasa order of life. After sannyasa, Sri Caitanya shifted to Jagannatha Puri, leaving His hometown Navadvipa in tears.The sweet memories of Sri Caitanya performing His daily sankirtana pastimes at Srivasa Angana (house of Srivasa thakura at Mayapur) became too much for Srivasa Pandita to bear. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the amazing pastimes of Srivasa Angana in a separate article entitled – ‘Srivasa Angan ,Mayapur ,Navadvipa – Part 1: where Lord Gaurahari eternally performs His ecstatic pastimes’. The whole town of Navadvipa mourned in the absence of Gaurahari. Navadvipa had thus become unbearable for Srivasa Pandita and his family ,as they were constantly reminded of Sri Gauranga’s nectarian pastimes. They cursed themselves thinking that they must have committed some grave sin due to which they were then separated from the Lord of their lives.Unable to bear this pain any further, Srivasa Pandita along with his entire family, shifted to the town of Kumarhatta (Present day Halisahar). Here at Kumarhatta,Srivasa Prabhu began worshipping his Gaur-Nitai deities with heartfelt devotion.

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Syamananda Pandita – Biography | Sripat Kanupur (Near Balasore)

balasoreSri Syamananda Pandita, the dear disciple of Sri Hridaya Caitanya, is one of the great stalwart Vaishnavas to have graced the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya. Showering his causeless mercy, he has been instrumental in delivering countless fallen souls. Sri Prema Vilasa reveals that Sri Syamananda Pandita eternally serves as Kanaka Manjari in Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes. His spiritual master, Sri Hridaya Caitanya, was the incarnation of Sudhira Sakhi. Hridaya Caitanya, in turn, was the dear disciple of Gaudidasa Pandita, the intimate friend of Lord Gaurahari and Nityananda Prabhu. Gaudidasa was the incarnation of Subala, Krishna’s dear cowherd friend. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered in detail the pastimes of Gaudidasa Pandita in the article entitled – The worshipable deities of Gaudidasa Pandita, Ambika Kalna.

yam loka bhuvi kirtayanti hridayanandasya shishyam priyam
sakhye shri-subalasya yam bhagavatah preshthanushishyam tatha
sa shriman rasikendra-mastaka-manish citte mamaharnisham
shri-radhapriya-narma-marmasu rucim sampadayan bhasatam

Translation – Sri Syamananda was known in this world as Hridaya Caitanya’s dear disciple; He was the grand-disciple of Subala sakha, the most dear friend of the Supreme Lord; he was the crest-jewel of the enjoyers of sacred rapture. May he appear day and night in my mind, bringing an appreciation for the essence of the joys of the beloved of Sri Radha.
(Syamananda-shataka)

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Bishnupur, temple town of Bengal – Part 3 | History and Temples

bishnupur temples

After going through the previous articles in this series (Part 1 and Part 2) , we hope all of us by now have a fair idea about the rich heritage that punctuates Bishnupur’s glorious past. Bishnupur, a kingdom which Sri Madana Mohana proclaims as His own and whose pious kings ruled only to serve the orders of Sri Guru and Gauranga, oozes with sacred tradition. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ shall try to present below, within our limited capacity, a brief sketch of the various magnificent temples (Bishnupur – temple town of Bengal) and the beautiful traditions that adorn Bishnupur’s vibrant landscape.These three articles (Part 1,2 & 3) are our humble offerings to this beautiful holy city and we pray that she forever accepts us as one of her own.

(Title of the previous articles in the series –
Bishnupur, temple town of Bengal – Part 1 :Srinivasa Acharya and Bir Hambir
&
The Glories of Bishnupur (the temple town of Bengal) – Part 2 :The Amazing Pastimes of Sri MadanaMohana )

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Who is Raghava Pandita ? | Raghava Bhavan, Panihati

raghava bhavanRaghava Bhavan ,the residence of Sri Raghava Pandita and Damayanti, is renowned all over the three worlds as the eternal residence of Sri Gaurahari (As described below). Lord Gaura Nitai have manifested their innumerable heart rending pastimes over here at Raghava Bhavan (500 Years ago). Located on the bank of the Ganges at panihati, Raghava Bhavan is very well connected to Kolkata, via road, railways and waterways.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings in his bhoga arati:

Yashomati ajna peye dhanishta anita
Sri Krishna-prasada radha bhunje haiye prita

In Krishna’s Vrindavana Pastimes,mother Yashoda would order Dhanishta Gopi to carry Krishna’s food remnants to Srimati Radharani .Radharani would then relish the remnants (prasada) of Her beloved Lord.

Similarly, in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, Lord Caitanya who would always remain immersed in the mood of Srimati Radharani, would lovingly accept the prasadam brought to Him by Sri Raghava pandita, the incarnation of Dhanishta Gopi. In Caitanya Caritamrta, it has been revealed that Sri Raghava Pandita was an intimate associate of Lord Caitanya and is said to have been the seventh branch of Mahaprabhu’s desire tree of devotional service.

Sri Kavi Karnapura notes in his Gaura Ganoddesha Dipika that: 

The vraja-gopi Dhanishta devi, who had previously fed Lord Krishna with limitless opulent foodstuffs, appeared as Sri Raghava Pandita, in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes.

And the gopi named Gunamala had appeared as Raghava Pandita’s sister Srimati Damayanti devi.

Raghavera Jhali :

After accepting His sannyasa, Lord Caitanya had moved over to reside at Jagannatha puri. Every year, during the Ratha yatra festival, almost all the devotees from Bengal ,led by Sivananda sen, would travel to Puri to reunite with Lord Gaurasundara once again.Srimati Damayanti Devi would cook innumerable items for Mahaprabhu with her love and devotion, and thereafter pack these in separate bags. Raghava Pandita, would then carry these bags to Puri during his annual visit and offer them to Lord Caitanya. These bags of delicious food items came to be subsequently known as Raghavera Jhali (the bags of Raghava Pandita) and they find a very special mention in Sri Caitanya Bhagavat and Sri Caitanya Caritamrta.

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History of Khirachora Gopinath Temple, Balasore – Why did Gopinath steal Khira?

khirachora gopinatha

‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers its respectful obeisances and heartfelt gratitude to Sri Khirachora Gopinath jiu, whose blessings and mercy enabled us to relish the exceedingly deep and sweet reciprocations between the Supreme Lord and His dear devotees. We shall humbly try to recite to the best of our ability, the sweet pastimes of Khirachora Gopinatha Jiu, as was narrated by the Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Himself, while He had visited Remuna.

On His way to Sri Jagannatha Puri, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu along with His associates had halted at Remuna, a place which is presently located within the Balasore District of Orissa. Mahaprabhu along with all His associates offered His prostrated obeisances to Sri Gopinatha jiu, who possesses a very enchanting form. While Lord Caitanya was offering His obeisances to the deity, the helmet of flowers that adorned the crown of Sri Gopinatha fell onto Sri Caitanya. Receiving the blessings of Sri Gopinatha, Lord Caitanya began singing and dancing in ecstasy. The local devotees at the temple became amazed seeing the intense love, the beautiful form, and the transcendental qualities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Caitanya rested for the day at the temple because he longed to taste the sweet ‘Khira’ (a preparation of sweet rice) prasadam prepared over here, as He had heard a lot of glories of it from His spiritual master, Sri Isvara Puri. This ‘Khira’ offered over here, tastes as good as nectar, and hence it is also called Amrta-keli. Resting for the night, Lord Caitanya began narrating the story of how Lord Gopinatha jiu had become so famous and how He had come to be known as Khirachora Gopinatha.

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Bishnupur, temple town of Bengal – Part 2 : Pastimes of Madan Mohana

bishnupur temple madan mohan

Sri Madana Mohana is the guardian of Bishnupur. He is the protector, the worshipable deity unto whom the people of Bishnupur surrender, reveal their heart and for whom they reserve their most intimate feelings and reciprocations. Even today, whenever there is any dispute, the people  of Bishnupur, refer the matter to Sri Madana Mohana jiu and have firm faith that the Lord would step in and justice would be served. Let us acquaint ourselves with this amazing chapter of Bishnupur, temple town of Bengal.

Appearance of Sri Madanamohana

It is said that there was once a chaste queen whose husband had been slain in the battle.She was pregnant for about nine months.At that time,her friends and relatives were going to a pilgrimage to Sri Jagannatha Puri and she desired to accompany them. So leaving behind all hesitations, she set off along with them.On her way, in the middle of a jungle,she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Seeing no other option, as things was getting delayed, the queen left behind her newborn in the jungle and continued with her journey.At that time Sri MadanaMohana protected this lonely child, and arranged for honey drops to trickle into his mouth, from the adjoining trees.

bishnupur temple madan mohan

The next morning,a Bagdi (tribal) girl ,while she was collecting the woods, saw this little baby lying hidden within the bushes. She felt compassionate, and immediately raised the boy in her arms, and took him to the house of a brahmana. She disclosed to the brahmana how she had found the baby in the woods and requested him to take care of this boy.In course of time, this little boy grew up and started living happily with the brahmanas. Once this boy went inside the jungle to tend his cows but did not return. The Brahmana father ,growing anxious, then entered the jungle searching for the boy. But to his surprise ,he saw the boy sleeping peacefully under a tree being protected by two snakes who were raising their hoods to block the sunlight from falling upon his face. The snakes fled upon seeing the brahmana approach. The brahmana then realized that this boy was not an ordinary personality.

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