Sola krosa navadvipa cid-ananda-vas
Sarva-tirtha deva-rishi-srutira visrama
sphuruk nayane mama navadvipa dham
May the crown jewel of all the holy places of pilgrimage, which is the playground of the Lord’s sandhini potency (the energy of eternal existence), which measures sixteen krosas in circumference and is the residence of the Lord’s cit (knowledge) and ananda (bliss) potencies, which is the seat of all the other holy places of pilgrimage, and is the resting place for all demigods, sages and scriptures – May this holy dham of Navadvipa manifest before my eyes.
Navadvipa is the crown jewels of all Pilgrimages. As Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura explains in this verse, the realm of Navadvipa is eternal and is the residence of all the potencies of the Supreme Lord, namely sat (eternal), cit (cognizance) and Ananda (bliss). All the holy places of pilgrimage and various demigods reside within Navadvipa. At Harihara kshetra, for example, Lord Shiva and His wife Gauri eternally worship Lord Gauranga and deliver the fallen souls chanting ‘Gauranga’ mantra in their ears. At Uchcha-hatta, the sankirtana of the demigods glorifying Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can be overheard even today. However, Navadvipa, is the most exalted of all places, because herein lies Yogpeeth, the birthplace of the Lord Chaitanya, the Supreme Master of all.
The Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya hence reveals :
Navadvipa mandalera mahima apara
brahma adi nahi jane varne sadhya kara
The glories of Navadvipa Mandala are unlimited and infinite. Even the likes of Brahma are unable to completely reach its ends. Who has the power to sufficiently describe its unending glories ?
Mathura mandale sola krosa vrindavana
Gaude navadvipa tatha dekhuk nayana
ekera prakasa dui anadi chinmaya
prabhura vilasa bhede suddha-dham-dvaya
May my eyes behold the sixteen krosa land of Vrindavana as identical to Navadvipa within Gaura Mandala. These two eternal, spiritual abodes are but the manifestation of one truth. It is in accordance with the different pastimes of the Lord that they have taken the form of two divine abodes.
Sri Narottama das Thakura had sung ‘Sri-Gauda-mandala-bhumi yeba jane chintamani ,tara haya vraja-bhume vasa’. It means that one who realizes that the holy land of Lord Gauranga’s pastimes is transcendental and is composed of wish-fulfilling gems, that person is qualified to reside in Vrindavana.
The topmost spiritual planet of Goloka has two manifestations – Vrindavana and Navadvipa. Vrindavana is characterised by sweetness or madhurya wherein Lord Krishna eternally enjoys His sweet pastimes with the residents of Vrindavana. On the other hand, the realm of Navadvipa is characterised by Lord Chaitanya’s magnanimous (audarya) sankirtana pastimes.
Madhurya is fully present in audarya and audarya is also fully present in madhurya. Thus Vrindavana eternally exists within Navadvipa and Navadvipa eternally exists within Vrindavana. However that portion of Goloka where madhurya (Sweetness) is more prominent , it is known as Vrindavana. While that portion of the spiritual world where audarya or magnanimity is more prominent, it is known as Navadvipa. Both Vrindavana and Navadvipa are the highest realms of the spiritual world.
Thus both Vrindavana and Navadvipa are spiritual realms which award a spiritual practitioner with the highest forms of transcendental ecstasies. The Madhurya (sweetness) of Vrindavana and the audarya (magnanimity) of Navadvipa are the highest spiritual perfections that exist in the creation. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura mentions in Jaiva dharma that a spiritual practitioner who worships Lord Krishna during his sadhana (spiritual practice) achieves Vrindavana at the end of his life, whereas one who worships and meditates upon Lord Gauranga, achieves the spiritual realm of Navadvipa. Whereas one who meditates upon both of them during his sadhana, achieves both of these realms at the end of his life, simultaneously.
prabhura achintya shakti anadi chinmaya-e
jiva nistarite ane prapancha nilaye
sei krishna kripa bale jada-baddha jana
vrindavana navadvipe karuka darsana
By His inconceivable potency which is eternal and completely spiritual, the Supreme Lord has brought these two dhamas (spiritual abodes) to this material world, in order to deliver the living entities. By the mercy of Krishna, the Supreme Lord, may the entrapped living entities now behold the transcendental abodes of Vrindavana and Navadvipa before their eyes.
Without worshipping Lord Gauranga, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to attain the lotus feet of Sri Radha and Krishna, especially in this age of Kali. Gauranga is the most magnanimous form of the Lord and He bestows His causeless mercy freely to one and all, without judging one’s qualifications. At the same time ,Lord Chaitanya’s mercy is very unique. One who receives His mercy, can experience the highest ecstasy of love of God. The realization of this pure ecstatic love of the Supreme is extremely rare. This is something which the people of the previous yugas (Satya, Treta, Dvapara) could not receive even by means of performing severe austerities for thousands of years, performing grand sacrifices or even elaborate deity worship. This is rare even for the great demigods like Brahma, Shiva or Indra, who forever hanker to receive it.
The supreme Lord in His form as Sri Krishna rarely ever bestows this kind of special mercy. He gives it to His intimate associates or the gopis of Vrindavana. But Sri Chaitanya bestows this rare treasure of love of God, to one and all, freely, without any consideration. Hence Sri Chaitanya is the essence of all the incarnations of the supreme – ‘Avatara sar Gaura avatara’. One who gets this special mercy receives the pure love of God, receiving which there remains nothing else to be achieved. Obtaining the pure ecstatic love of God is the highest perfection of human life.
‘Gaurangera madhura leela, yar karne praveshila, hridoya nirmala velo taar’ –
Anyone who as much as hears of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s nectarian pastimes, is immediately cleansed of all impurities in his heart.
Yogyata lobhiya sab jivendriyagana
Chinmoy vishesh sudha kare aswadana
Ayogya indriya taha aswadite nare
Khudra jada bali tare ninde bare bare
Only after attaining the requisite qualifications can the senses taste the spiritual variegatedness of these holy dhams. The unqualified senses being unable to relish this spiritual bliss, deride these dhams by calling them tiny insignificant places composed of dull matter.
Srila Vrindavana das Thakura writes in Chaitanya Bhagavata –
‘adyapiha sei leela karena Gaura Raya,
kono kono bhagyavana dekhivare paya’
Lord Gauranga is performing His pastimes till this day. Only a few fortunate souls, are able to behold them.
Lord Gauranga resides eternally in Navadvipa. When Lord Nityananda took Jiva Goswami for Navadvipa Mandala parikrama, the details of which we get to read in Srila Bhaktivinoda’s ‘Navadvipa dham mahatmya’, Lord Nitai explained to Jiva that Navadvipa is eternal, spiritual and unlimited. When they visited the residences of Srivasa pandita and Kolavecha sridhara, Jiva Goswami could behold the wonderful ecstatic dancing pastimes of Lord Gaurahari , along with His eternal associates.
One needs to obtain the grace of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga, to behold these eternal pastimes of the Supreme Lord or experience the spiritual variegatedness of the transcendental dhams.
Krishna Krishna-bhakta kripa yogyata karon
Jive daya sadhu sange lobhe bhakta-jana
Jnana-karma-yog-e sei yogyata na hoy
Sraddha bale sadhu sange kare jada jaya
The basis of attaining this qualification is the mercy of Lord Krishna and His devotees. The devotees attain this mercy by being compassionate upon living entities and by associating with other saintly devotees. This qualification is not attained by pursuing the paths of jnana (knowledge) or Karma (fruitive activities). But it is only by keeping faith and associating with the saintly devotees, can one win over matter.
“But the highest of all the yogis is one, who with great faith always abides by the Supreme Lord and constantly thinks of Him within Himself, rendering transcendental loving service unto Him.Sri Krishna proclaims, that such a yogi (devotee) , is the most intimately united with Him in yoga and the highest of all”.
Yoginaam api sarvesam mad gatenantar atmana
Sradhavan bhajate yo mam ,sa me yuktatamo matah
The process of Karma Yoga slowly leads one to enter the domain of transcendental knowledge. Performing work equipped with higher knowledge, gradually situates one in transcendence, liberating him from the bondages of material nature. Controlling his mind & senses, and by suitable practice and detachment, such a transcendentalist is able to successfully meditate upon the Supreme Lord ,who is the cause of all and everything that is, and thereby he further advances in his spiritual life. But the culmination of all the yogic processes of Karma, Jnana and Dhyana is to ultimately reestablish the loving relationship with the Supreme Lord and render devotional service unto Him, as confirmed by the Lord in Bhagavad Gita.Such a Yogi, who serves the Supreme with Bhakti (unalloyed Love), is the most intimately united with Him in yoga, and is the highest of all the yogis. The devotees (bhaktas) of the Lord are hence residing on the highest platform of yoga, and are unleashing themselves to realize the greatest treasures of love of God – and are enroute to achieving the complete perfection of their lives.
Jada jaal jivendiye chhare yei kshana
Jiva-chakshu kare dham shobha darsana
Aaha kabe se abastha haibe amare
Dekhiba Navadvipa jada-maya paare
The moment the living entity gives up the material illusions related to its senses,the eyes of the soul behold the wonderful splendour of the holy dham. O ! When shall I be able to achieve that position? When shall i be able to behold the transcendental abode of Navadvipa, which is far beyond the mirage of material existence.
Srila Narottama Das Thakura sings in one of his bhajans-
‘Gauranga’ bolite habe pulaka-sarira
‘Hari Hari’ bolite nayane ba’ be Neera
ara kabe Nitai-Chandera Karuna hoibe
samsara-vasana mora kabe tuccha ha’be
visaya chadiya kabe suddha habe mana
kabe hama herabo Sri vrindavana
When will I shiver chanting the holy name of Lord ‘Gauranga’? When will an endless stream of tears gush from eyes while chanting ‘Hari Hari’ ?
When will lord Nityananda be merciful upon me ? By His mercy, when shall my attachments for material enjoyment become insignificant ?
When shall I get relieved from material attachments, and my mind become purified ?
When shall I be able to understand Vrindavana and the conjugal affairs of Sri Radha and Krishna ?
As we can understand that this intense hankering for attaining the association of the Lord and His transcendental abode is a qualification of a devotee. One must be perfectly situated upon the spiritual platform and be liberated from material illusions in order to attain these perfections. From Narottama das Thakura’s prayers, we also understand that one must be blessed by Lord Nityananda to be able to make any significant progress in his spiritual life.