Category Archives: West Bengal

Sripat of Sri Ganga Narayana Chakravarti (Bodo Govinda bari) , Gambhila (Jiaganj), Murshidabad

jiaganj

Sri Ganga Narayana Chakravarti is considered to be the foremost of Narottama Das Thakura’s disciples. He appeared at a place called Jiaganj, which is situated a few stops from the Murshidabad station. Jiaganj was previously known as Gambhila and is renowned all over the world, as the sacred place where Narottama das Thakura subsequently merged into the Ganges and disappeared from this world. Sri Ganga Narayana was a very rich and famous person. He was a renowned scholar. He used to impart education unto hundreds of students daily. The great stalwart Sri Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakura was also one of his dedicated students.

‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has presented the life and pastimes of Narottama das Thakura in another of our articles entitled – ‘Kheturi, Rajshahi (Bangladesh) – Sripat of Sri Narottama das Thakura’.  In this article, however, we are going to focus on Ganga Narayana Chakravarti and the Sripat of Gambhila. Before surrendering himself unto Narottama das Thakura, Ganga Narayana was a puffed up scholar who used to look down upon Narottama. The reason being that Narottama, although belonging to a lower caste, initiated people who sometimes were even Brahmanas. Not only Ganga Narayana, but several people of that time, who failed to gauge the exalted position of Narottama das, indulged in his criticism.

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Sri Radha Madhava jiu temple, Kumarpara, Murshidabad

kumarpara murshidabad

Heading south from the Murshidabad railway station, we arrived at the exalted serene Dham of Kumarpur (also known as Kumarpara). Here rest the mesmerizing Radha Madhava deities that were brought from Vrindavana, all the way to this place in the year 1609 AD, by a devotee named Vamsivadana Ghosh. This place is also renowned as Madhavi Kunja, as it was under this Madhavi lata tree (Hiptage benghalensis), that these deities were originally established. The old temple collapsed in course of time, and since then the deities have been shifted to the newly constructed adjacent temple. This Madhavi Tree still exists and can be taken darsana of, by anyone visiting this sacred place. The Ganges used to flow by this temple in the past but has now shifted a few kilometers from Madhavi Kunja. The small stream of water that continues to flow by the temple at present, is known as Motijheel.

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The deities of Ramachandra Kaviraja & Govinda Kaviraja, Bhagawangola, Murshidabad

 

bhagawangola

The two brothers, Sri Ramachandra Kaviraja and Govinda kaviraja, are great acharyas and renowned stalwarts of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. They are the two sons of Ciranjiva (an eternal associate of Lord Caitanya) and Sunanda Devi.Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja identifies Ciranjiva (a resident of Srikhanda) as the 41st branch of Lord Caitanya’s desire tree of devotional service.

khandavasi mukunda das, sri Raghunandana
Narahari das, ciranjiva, sulocana
ei saba mahasakha — caitanya-kripadhama
Prema phala phula kare yahan tahan daana
(Sri Caitanya caritamrta, Adi,10.78-79)

Sunanda Devi was the daughter of the great poet, Damodara Sen. Sri Bhakti Ratnakara reveals how Damodara Pandita was a great scholar and almost undefeatable in debates. One such scholar, who was defeated by him, cursed him to never have any male progenies in his life. Damodara went to great lengths to pacify the defeated scholar, who at last blessed him saying that his daughter, would give birth to two illustrious sons, who would benedict the whole world, by driving away all its inauspiciousness. In due course of time, Damodara was blessed with a daughter, whom he named Sunanda. She was beautiful and a reservoir of all good qualities. Sunanda Devi subsequently got married to Ciranjiva and settled down at Srikhanda (near Katwa, Bengal). In due course of time, she gave birth to Sri Ramachandra Kaviraja and Govinda Kaviraja, the great saviors of fallen souls. Before ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ delves into the life and pastimes of these exalted personalities, we would like to apprise the readers that here at the Gauranga Bari ashrama in Bhagawangola, presently rests the Gaura Govinda and Gaura Gopala deities of Ramachandra Kaviraja and Govinda Kaviraja. Not a few miles from here lies the renowned ‘Teliya Budhari’ village where the Sripat of Govinda Kaviraja once existed. We shall discuss more on these later in this article.

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Gopiballavpur, the preaching headquarters of Sri Rasikananda Murari

 

Rasikendra pada dvandvam , vande parama mangalam
Sarva madhurya sharanam , asharam paramotsava

-I worship the lotus feet of Rasikendra (Sri Rasikananda) , who is the reservoir of all sweetness and the highest joy

Sri Rasikananda Murari was born in the city of Rohini, which was then part of the kingdom of Mallabhum. He was born on a Sunday, the first day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, in the year 1590 AD. It was the time of Dipawali and lamps had illuminated the entire city. All the auspicious planets had converged at the time of his birth. Sri Acyuta Mahasaya, the King of Mallabhum, and Bhavani Devi became the fortunate parents of Sri Rasikananda Murari, an eternal associate of the Lord Caitanya. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of Sri Rasikananda Murari, the mere contemplation upon whose life and pastimes, evokes within one, the pure ecstatic love of God.

The Kingdom of Utkala, which then stretched from modern-day Orissa and included the provinces of Bankura, Purulia, and Medinipur in Bengal, was largely inhabited by impious people in those days. These people used to attack anyone who sang the holy names of Lord Hari. They used to attack and rob sages who meditated within the forests. Whenever they would see Vaishnavas, they would immediately attack them, and push them out of their villages. The devotees of Utkala would always pray to Lord Krishna, to bestow His causeless mercy upon these sinners and bless them with the understanding of absolute truth. Lord Krishna, who is bhakta-vatsala, listened to these prayers, and sent His dear servant, Rasikananda, to widely preach and deliver the land of Utkala.

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Jiva Goswami’s Navadvipa Parikrama with Lord Nityananda

jiva goswami

Sri Jiva Goswami left his home in Candradvipa, at a very early age, and began crying ‘Nadia’ , ‘Nadia’ out of an intense eagerness.Calling out the names of Gauranga and Nityananda he finally arrived at Navadvipa. People were startled to see the effulgent attractive form of Jiva Gosai, who was performing great renunciations. He wanted to meet Nityananda prabhu, and begged the people to take him to the Lord. Swayed by great compassion, Nityananda Prabhu accepted Jiva and embraced him. Jiva Goswami then glorified Nityananda Prabhu. He exclaimed that Nityananda prabhu, who was none other than Lord Balarama, was the very form and the abode of the universe. Addressing himself as an insignificant living entity, Sri Jiva expressed how only by receiving the causeless mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, can one achieve the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga. If Lord Gaurahari punishes someone, that person can still be protected by Lord Nityananda. However one rejected by Nityananda prabhu is never accepted by Sri Caitanya. Jiva Goswami begged Nityananda Prabhu for His causeless mercy, and seeked His permission so that he could receive Lord Gaurahari’s darsana and developed attachment unto Him.

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Meeting of Gauranga and Nityananda at the residence of Nandan Acharya, in Mayapur

nandan acharya bhavan

After touring various holy places, Nityananda Prabhu finally reached Vrindavana. Visiting His previous pastime places (ie, those of Lord Balaram), He became ecstatic and began roaring loudly. Going without any food or water, He incessantly chanted the names of Krishna and rolled upon the sacred dust of Vrindavana dham. By this time, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had already started revealing His devotional mood in Navadvipa. Mahaprabhu (Krishna) started to feel an intense separation from His brother Nitai (Balaram), and longed to have Him in His sankirtana. As soon Lord Nityananda realized that Mahaprabhu had begun manifesting His ecstatic mood, He at once came over to Navadvipa to assist the Lord in His magnanimous pastimes.

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Sri Nilambar Chakravarti’s residence ,Belpukur,Navadvipa (Simantadvipa)

belpukur Sri nilambar gtb

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

One of the sweetest spiritual sites that ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has come across during its vast journey across Bengal is the maternal home of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Located at a place called Belpukur within the precincts of Simantadvipa (one of the nine islands constituting Navadvipa) , this is where Sri Nilambar Chakravarti, Mahaprabhu’s maternal grandfather, used to reside along with his family 500 years ago.Sri Madana Gopala, the worshipable deity of Sri Nilambar, has been carefully preserved at this holy place and continues to accept our humble service till this day. The beautiful deities of Sri Nilambar Chakravarti and his daughter Srimati Saci devi is also worshipped over here.The temple priest ,Sri Nimai Krishna das Prabhuji, who lives and serves here, has been subsequently initiated into the Gaudiya Sampradaya by HH Jayapataka Swami Guru Maharaj.

Being His maternal home, this place is very dear to Sri Gaurahari. Infact all of us have a very special place in our hearts towards our maternal homes, and the Supreme Lord ,being a person, is also no different.In fact, a lot of His balya lilas (childhood pastimes) have taken place here at Belpukur. The dust of this holy place is thus sanctified with the lotus footprints of Little Nimai.

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Sri Paramesvari das Thakura’s Sripat, Antpur, Hooghly

antpur

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja mentions in the Adi Lila of his Caitanya Caritamrta, that Sri Paramesvari das Thakura ( sometimes also referred to as Paramesvara Das) was the fifth of the twelve cowherd boys (Dvadasha Gopala) who had appeared in order to assist Sri Gaura Nitai manifest their magnanimous pastimes. He was completely surrendered unto the lotus feet of Nityananda Prabhu. It is further revealed, that anyone who remembers his name or contemplates upon his pastimes, achieves the love of Krishna very easily. So it is for the ultimate benefit of one and all that today we are going to discuss about his wonderful pastimes and glorify this great Vaishnava saint.

paramesvara das – Nityanandaika sharana
Krishna-bhakti paya, tanre ye kare smarana
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi, 11.29)

From Sri Gaura Ganoddesha Dipika, we come to know that Sri Paramesvari Das Thakura was the incarnation of the cowherd boy ‘Arjuna’ (not to be confused with Arjuna – the Pandava), an intimate friend (Priya Narma sakha) of Krishna and Balarama in Vrindavana.

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Lord Jagannatha of Jasra (Yashora) , Chakdaha – The worshipable deity of Jagadish Pandita

 

chakdaha

Sri Jagadish Pandita was the fifteenth branch to have expanded out of Lord Nityananda’s trunk of devotional service.Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja has highly glorified him in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. Sri Jagadish Pandita has been described as ‘Jagat-pavana’, the deliverer of the entire world. It has been exclaimed that devotional love of Krishna showered from him like torrents of heavy rain.

jagadisa paṇḍita haya jagat-pavana
Krishna premamrita varse, yena varsa ghana
(Caitanya Caritamrta, adi, 11.30)

‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself exceedingly fortunate to have been able to visit the sripat of Sri Jagadish pandita in this holy town of Chakdaha and seek blessings from his worshipable Jagannatha and Gaura-Gopal deities. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has mentioned in his anubhashya commentary that both of Jagadish pandita’s parents were great devotees of Lord Vishnu. After they had passed away, Jagadish Pandita, shifted his residence to Mayapur to live in the company of Jagannatha Misra (Mahaprabhu’s father) and the other vaishnavas. His wife Dukhini and brother Hiranya accompanied him. Gaura Gonodesha Dipika confirms that both the brothers, Jagadish and Hiranya, were formerly the wives of the sacrificial brahmanas in Vrindavana. In the pastimes of Lord Caitanya, Jagadish pandita worshipped Mahaprabhu in the mood of parental affection.

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The worshipable deities of Mahesh Pandita, Palpara

palpara

Mahesh Pandita, is one of the twelve cowherd boys (Dvadasha gopala) of Vrindavana, who had appeared in order to assist Nityananda Prabhu manifest His magnanimous pastimes.He is counted as the seventeenth expansion to have arisen out of Lord Nityananda’s trunk of devotional service.Sri Krishnadasa kaviraja has described him as a very liberal person ,who remained forever immersed in relishing the ecstatic love of God.

mahesa pandita — vrajera udaara gopala
dhakka-vadye nritya kare preme matoyala
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi, 11.32)

From the above verse it is also clear that Mahesh pandita enchanted the hearts of one and all with his ecstatic dance to the tune of kettledrums. He was formerly the cowherd boy Mahabahu, an intimate associate of Sri Krishna and Balarama in Vrindavana.

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