[Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Math: Koladvipa, Navadvipa-dhama: March 17, 2005]
What is the glory of Navadvipa? The original Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna appeared in this world and performed His astonishing pastimes in Vrndavana. Yet, all of His desires were not fulfilled at that time. Those desires that were not fulfilled by Him during His pastimes in Vrndavana were fulfilled when He appeared here in Navadvipa-dhama in the form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In Vrndavana He tasted prema as the object of the prema (pure love of God) of His devotees, but He did not know how the devotees felt in their love for Him. He could not taste what they experience in their loving mood. Also, in Gokula (Vrndavana manifest in this world), He did not distribute prema to one and all. It is only here in Navadvipa-dhama that He – as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu – so freely distributed it. He tasted the prema of the reservoir of love, His devotees, and especially the prema of Srimati Radhika, and He also distributed prema – especially the prema of Radhika’s maidservants.
Not only did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu distribute this to the devotees who had become qualified by their practices, but even to those who were fallen and offensive. When He was on His way to Vrndavana He came to Kasi, and there He gave mercy to the leader of the mayavadis, Prakasananda Sarasvati – and not only to him, but also to his 60,000 sannyasa disciples. He is the most merciful incarnation. In other incarnations if anyone was opposed to Krsna, He would take up His weapon and kill him. But Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never did so. Rather, He purified the hearts of the offenders through the chanting of the holy names and bestowed upon them love of God. Here in Navadvipa-dhama, He gave His mercy to the most sinful Jagai and Madhai, and so many others. He caused an inundation of transcendental love and made everyone dance.
After taking sannyasa, Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Jagannatha Puri, and there He met with Sri Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, who was a leader of themayavadis, those who are very much antagonistic to the cult of pure devotion. He also gave mercy to him and converted him. When He was in South India, traveling here and there, He was so merciful that all the living entities, even those who saw Him from very far away, became overwhelmed with prema.
So many pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took place here in Navadvipa. He also spent many years in Jagannatha Puri. He also went to South India, to the bank of the Godavari, where He met with Sri Raya Ramananda and had very confidential discussions. Of these three abodes of the Lord – Navadvipa, Jagannatha Puri and Godavari – which one is superior? Nowadays there is a great deal of confusion about this topic. Many people are convinced about the wrong understanding, because the real philosophical conclusion is very deep and difficult to understand.
Navadvipa-dhama, where we have now come, is highest.*[See endnote] This place is superior to both Jagannatha Puri and Godavari. Why? There are so many reasons.
Someone may say that Jagannatha Puri is the highest place, because it was there in the Gambhira that Mahaprabhu relished vipralamba rasa (the mood of separation; Srimati Radhika’s separation for Sri Krsna) and fulfilled His three desires. But Jagannatha Puri is a manifestation of Dvaraka Puri. Otherwise, according to Mahaprabhu’s mood, He would also see it as Kuruksetra and become absorbed in the meeting of Radha and Krsna there. We cannot say that it is Vrndavana. In Vrndavana there are twelve forests, such as Vrndavana, Kumudvana, Bahulavana, Kelanvana, etc. Where are they in Jagannatha Puri? We cannot find them. On the other hand, here in Navadvipa-dhama, all the twelve forests of Vrndavana are present. This place in which we are now situated is called Koladvipa. Koladvipa is non-different from Giriraja-Govardhana, and very close by is Syama-kunda and Radha-kunda. Where is Syama-kunda and Radha-kunda in Jagannatha Puri? Very close by here is Panca-veni, which is superior to Prayag. At Prayag the Yamuna, Ganga and Sarasvati rivers meet. But here, Yamuna, Ganga, Sarasvati, Alakananda, Godavari, Kaveri, Sindhu, Narmada and all the other holy rivers meet. We call it Panca-veni, the meeting of five holy places or holy rivers, but don’t think there are only five. Thousands upon thousands – all the sacred rivers – have descended and are meeting together here at Panca-veni in Navadvipa. In Jagannatha Puri the ocean is a maha-tirtha (great holy place), because Caitanya Mahaprabhu bathed the transcendental body of Srila Haridasa Thakura there. But even the ocean came here to Navadvipa-dhama at Samudragadha ghat (bathing place). So this place is superior to Prayag.
Navadvipa-dhama is called gupta (hidden) Vrndavana, because all the pastime places of Vrndavana, like the rasa-sthalis (the areas of the rasa dance), Giriraja-Govardhana, Syama-kunda, Radha-kunda - all twelve forests - are here in a hidden way.
Another important point: Lord Krsna’s eternal pastimes (nitya-lila) in Vrndavana are called asta-kaliya-lila.The 24-hour day of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna is divided into eight parts, beginning with nisanta-lila (pre-dawn pastimes), pratah-lila (morning pastimes), purvahna-lila (forenoon pastimes), madhyana-lila (midday pastimes), aparahna-lila (afernoon pastimes), sayama-lila (dusk pastimes), pradosa-lila (evening pastimes) and ratri-lila (nighttime pastimes). Just as Sri Sri Radha-Krsna performed Their asta-kaliya-lila in Vrndavana, Sri Gauranga, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, performed His asta-kaliya-lila here in Navadvipa-dhama.
Is it mentioned in any scripture that He performed His asta-kaliya-lila in Jagannatha Puri? Does He perform His asta-kaliya-lila in Godavari? There is no mention. His nitya-lila, the origin or root of all His pastimes, takes place here in Navadvipa-dhama. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu remembers the nisanta-lila of Radha and Krsna at the end of the night and becomes overwhelmed in ecstasy. Then later, early in the morning he goes with His friends to take bath in the Ganga. In His ratri-lila, He performs His sankirtana rasa. In this way He performs His asta-kaliya-lila, completely absorbed in the asta-kaliya-lila of Radha and Krsna.
Another reason for the superiority of Navadvipa-dhama is as follows. Even though Jagannatha Puri and Godavari are very levated, transcendental abodes, there is aisvarya-mayi-lila (pastimes in opulence and majesty) there. There, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was worshipped as God. In Godavari He manifested His form as Rasaraja-mahabhava, Sri Sri Radha and Krsna combined as one, and this pastime is also aisvarya-mayi-lila. In Jagannatha Puri He performed pastimes in the Gambhira, but only Sri Svarupa Damodara, Sri Raya Ramanada, Sri Sikhi Mahiti and His sister Srimati Madhavi devi – 3 ½ intimate associates – could take part. Here in Navadvipa-dhama, on the other hand, His pastimes are madhurya-mayi-lila (sweet, human-like), not aisvarya-mayi-lila. Here, Sri Sacinandana Gaurahari meets in lokika sadbhanduvat sambhanda (natural, family-like relationships) with all the residents. When we try to understand if a particular pastime is superior to others, the ultimate measure is whether that pastime is purely madhurya. Madhurya-lila are those pastimes resembling sweet, human-like activities with human-like relationships, without out any trace of the mood of aisvarya. And, even if any of those pastimes would be full of opulence, they would be seen as human-like by the Lord's associates.
Thus, this dhama is so exalted and extraordinary, so superior to every other place of Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami prays:
yat kincit trna-gulam kikata mukham gosthe samastam hi tat
sarvanandamayam mukunda dayitam lilanukulam param
sastrair eva muhur muhuh sphutam idam nistankitam yacnya
brahmader api sasprhena tad idam sarvam maya vandyate
[“With great longing I worship all the living entities of Vraja including the grass, bushes, flies, and birds, which are filled with transcendental bliss. There fortune is so great that it is aspired for by personalities like Sri Brahma and Uddhava. Srimad Bhagavatam and other sastras have repeatedly and clearly propounded their glories. They are very dear to Sri Mukunda and assist in His pastimes.”“I pray to all the living entities of Vrndavana, including the grass, bushes, insects and birds.” This verse is also applicable to Navadvipa-dhama. Every living entity here – every tree and creeper – is sat-cit-ananda, made of eternity, full knowledge and bliss, and they assist the Lord’s pastimes. Therefore, even great personalities such as Lord Brahma have prayed to become stones and blades of grass in such an unprecedented and transcendental abode.
(Raghunatha dasa - Stavavali, Vraja-vilasa-stava, 102)]
Who can realize these truths? Our previous acaryas, Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja and Srila Gour Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, can do so. They used to give respects even to the dogs of this abode. Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja used take his prasadam with puppies, who were eating from his plate. He used to say, “Oh, they are the dogs of Navadvipa-dhama”. Our acaryas illustrated through their lives what kind of very high level of respect one should have in approaching this extraordinary place.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu lived here in the house of Sacimata in Mayapura, in Antardvipa. He performs His pastimes here, and after 24 years He took sannyasa and went to Jagannatha Puri and so many other places. However, even when He takes sannyasa and appears to this leave this dhama, He’s still present here. Only those who are extremely fortunate and whose love is mature can realize how He always performs His pastimes here in this transcendental place, and how He never leaves.
Sri Navdvipa-dhama ki jaya!
*Endnote – The following is another lecture by Srila Narayana Maharaja on the same subject, given a few years ago in Australia: The Supremacy of Navadvipa [Murwillumbah, Australia: Feb. 13, 2002]
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