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Saradanga | Sri Navadvipa Bhava Taranga

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Text 23
Tad-uttore Saradanga sthan manohara
Raktabahu bhaye yatha sabara-prabara
Niladripatike laye rahe sangopane
Sei sthana dekhi yeno sarvada nayane
 
Translation –
Further north is the blissful place known as Saradanga, where the leader of the Sabaras, secretly stay along with Lord Jagannatha (Niladri-pati), out of fear of the demon Raktabahu. May i always behold this place before my eyes.

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An ecstatic ride across ancient spiritual Bengal (Colored version) – Part 3: Nadia & Kalna Archives

Buy this book from the below Amazon Link (USA store) –

(Paperback – $59.00 only)

This is a colored version of the book that is filled with amazing beautiful images that provides for a great reading experience. This book is a true treasure that enables the readers to meditate upon the exalted dhams of Gauda Mandala both through its colored pictures and enchanting pastimes.

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The pious Mullicks of Bengal

pathuriyaghata

Amidst the tiring monotonous life of North Kolkata, quietly stands the residence of the great Mullicks. Pathuriaghata street, was once the abode of the bengali rich. Even in the 21st century the area is replete with colonnaded mansions.The Mullicks have played a very significant role in shaping and preserving the Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal. In course of our pilgrimage across the state, we have come across several significant temples and ancient spiritual sites, which are currently managed or have been renovated by the Mullicks. The Mullicks originally belong to the gold mercantile community (suvarna baniks) and have traditionally been rich businessmen. To get a glimpse of their enormous wealth, one might simply look up the example of Jadulal Mullick who has a road named after him. His son Manmatha Nath Mullick, bought a pair of zebras from the zoo to pull his carriage through the streets of Kolkata. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ had the good fortune of visiting this ancient residence of the Mullicks here at Pathuriaghata street. We talked to Mr. Rajat Mullick, one of their descendants, and he was more than happy to relate the history of their great lineage to us.

Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura and A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are the foremost of the great suvarna baniks to have graced our parampara (Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya). To read and relish more about Sri Uddharana Datta, one might refer to our article entitled – Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura Sripat, Adisaptagram (Near bandel)’. Surrendering his life unto the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda, Sri Uddharana, who had hailed from a very opulent gold mercantile family,subsequently renounced his wealth, fame ,prestige and accepted the robes of a mendicant to further the cause of Krishna consciousness. These heart melting pastimes of Adisaptagram (situated in Hooghly, West Bengal) took place around 500 years back.

Srila Prabhupada, the founder acharya of ISKCON, by whose mercy and magnanimity, millions across the world ,can today follow in the footsteps of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, also traced back his own family lineage to this gold mercantile community in Saptagram.To read more about Srila Prabhupada, please refer to our article entitled – The birthplace of A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Tollygunge’. Srila Prabhupada once mentioned how the Britishers had established Calcutta, taking the financial help and assistance of these suvarna baniks (Gold merchants).These businessmen had come down from their ancestral homes in Adisaptagram, to set up their businesses here in Calcutta. The Bengalis with the title De ,Sil or Mullick actually belong to this same family lineage and hence share the same gotra (Srila Prabhupada’s earlier name was ‘Abhaya Carana De’). The title ‘Mullick’ was later awarded by the Muslim rulers to those in this community, who intimately associated and conducted business with them.But despite the differences in their surnames, all these family members share a common ancestral root.

The Mullicks of pathuriaghata street have also originally hailed from Adisaptagram. Rajaram Mullick, their ancestor, was the first in their family, to shift his residence to Kolkata and set up his business over here.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ would now like to take this opportunity to reminisce about the significant spiritual sites of Bengal, which the Mullicks have been instrumental in preserving and promoting.

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Srila Prabhupada’s pastime places in Central Kolkata

HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder acharya of Iskcon, our dear spiritual grandfather, has been and continues to be the greatest proponent of Krishna consciousness in the entire world. A true visionary, Srila Prabhupada, has built a home in which the whole world can live in peacefully. The International society for Krishna consciousness (his brainchild) has expanded its footprints to all corners of this world today, and has been instrumental in distributing the causeless mercy of Lord Caitanya in every town and village. Srila Prabhupada is none other than the commander in chief of Lord Caitanya, and he was empowered by the Lord and His Gurudeva to deliver the fallen souls all over the world. From the time he landed in America (1965) till the time he left his body (1977), Srila Prabhupada had encircled the globe a full 12 times, overseeing the construction of over a hundred Iskcon temples.In addition he has left us with hundreds of his books that continue to provide guidance and inspiration to devotees all around the world.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the life and pastimes of Srila Prabhupada in more detail in the article entitled – ‘The birthplace of A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Tollygunge’. In this present article ,however, we intend to provide a brief sketch of his pastime places in central Kolkata ,where he had grown up and spent a significant portion of his life.

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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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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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Sri Syamananda Pandita’s Bhajana Kutira & Samadhi , Kanupur (Near Balasore)

balasore

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)

Sri 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 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.

Early Life :

Sri Syamananda Prabhu was born in a village called Dharenda Bahadurpura, which at present lies within the district of Medinipur, in West Bengal. Bhakti Ratnakar describes that Sri Syamananda Prabhu was born of Sri Durika and Krishna Mandal, exceedingly pious people of impeccable character. His parents, however, had lost all of their previous children, who died at the time of their birth, and hence being morose, they named the newborn Syamananda as ‘Dukhi’ (one who is sad). Sri Syamananda was born in the lowly sadagopa caste. However, we should never make the mistake of judging a Vaishnava on the basis of his caste or lineage, because a Vaishnava is always transcendental to these material designations. The Vaishnava only graces this world in order to further the mission of the Lord. Sri Syamananda Prabhu though born of a low caste happened to be an eternal associate of the supreme lord, and through his own life and examples, he provided us with this extremely significant lesson. The only parameter that needs to be considered while distinguishing a Vaishnava is the extent of his dedication towards Sri Guru and Gauranga (yei bhaje sei bada, abhakta – hina, chara, Krishna bhajane nahi jaati kuladi vichara).

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Raghava Bhavan ,Panihati

raghava bhavan

Raghava Pandita and Damayanti Devi:

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.

Raghava 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.

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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