Ucchahatta: Marketplace of Mahaprabhu's Glories

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BY: SUN STAFF - 20.12 2018

There are several famous descriptions of the Nine Islands of Navadvipa, most notably found in the Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and also in his Sri Sri Navadvip Bhava Taranga. One of the tirthas mentioned in this regard is the holy site of Ucchahatta. Also known as Hatta Danga, this is the place where the demigods would assemble, and loudly chant the names of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Ucchahatta is derived from the word uccha, which means 'loud', and hatta, which means 'assembly'. Hatta also translates to 'marketplace', i.e., the marketplace of the Holy Name of Gauranga, much like nearby Campakahatta is the marketplace where campaka flowers are sold.

Sastra describes Sri Ucchahatta as being non-different from Kuruksetra, and whatever tirthas exist in Kurukshetra are also present here in Ucchahatta. The pious credits that are gained by living in Kuruksetra for one hundred years are obtained by staying for just one night here at Hatta Danga, which is an ocean of prema.

While the exact location of Ucchahatta is not known (to us), it is described as having the Saraswati River on one side, and the Drisavati River on another side. It is also said to be close to Pancaveni, known as the Maha Prayag. This is the point of confluence of the Ganges, Alakananda, Mandakini and Saraswati Rivers. The Saraswati is currently in her hidden form.

Maha-Prayaga - Confluence of the Yamuna (Bhogavati) and Ganges Rivers

On the western side of Pancaveni is the Yamuna, Bhagavati and Manasa Ganga. Here, Lord Brahma and many great Rishis have come to perform millions of sacrifices. Lord Caitanya Himself was known to come to nearby Ucchahatta with His parishad associates to perform sankirtana.

In his Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote the following:

"Nityananda spoke, "Listen everyone! This is Pancaveni, where five rivers join the Ganges. The Bhagirathi mixes with the Mandakini and Alakananda, and the Sarasvati flows here hidden from view. From the west, the Yamuna flows along with the Bhogavati. The Manasa-ganga also quickly flows there. This place is called Maha-Prayaga by the rishis, who performed millions of sacrifices here along with Lord Brahma. The glories of this place are incomparable. If one takes bath here, he will not take another birth. Who can describe the glories of this place? All other tirthas become like dried up rivers in comparison. One who leaves his body here on the earth, in the air, or in the water will attain Sri Goloka Vrindavana."

Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, Parikrama-khanda, Chapter Eleven (Written in Bengali, 1890)

The holy sites of Navadvipa are also described in the Urdhvamnaya Tantra, which sings the glories of Lord Gauranga and Navadvipa dhama. Srila Bhaktivinoda refers to this text in his Navadvipa Mahatmya (1.46).

Urdhvamnaya Tantra states:

(9) 
bhagirathy-alakananda mandakini tathapara 
bhogavatiti gangaya asti dhara-catushtayam
navadvipasya paridhis catvari yojanani ca

'Bhagirathi, Alakananda, Mandakini, and Bhogavati are the four streams of the Ganges that surround Navadvipa's circumference of four yojanas (thirty-two miles).

(10) 
prithivyam yani tirthani rasayam divi va priye
tani sarvani tishthanti navadvipe suresvari

'O goddess, all the holy places on the earth and in the lower and upper planetary systems are present in Navadvipa.

(11) 
naham vasami kailase na tvam vasasi mad-grihe
na deva divi tishthanti rishayo na vane vane

'I do not reside in Kailasa. You do not reside in my home. The demigods do not reside in heaven. The sages do not stay in the forest.

(12) 
sarve vayam navadvipe tishthamah prema-lalasah
gaura gaureti gayantah sankirtana-para bhuvi

'Overwhelmed with the great longing for obtaining pure love for Krishna, we all stay in Navadvipa. All of us constantly perform sankirtana, singing 'Gaura! Gaura!' while residing there.

In his Sri Sri Navadvip Bhava Taranga, Srila Bhaktivinoda describes the transcendental abode of Godruma, the city of Nanda, residence of the gopas and place where Gauranga performed many pastimes:

"South of Godruma lies attractive Madhyadvipa, filled with a string of beautiful forests. There, at midday, Gauranga and the devotees came and gave seven rishis their darsan, and there also on the banks of the Gomati in Naimisa forest, the rishis are listening to the Gaura-Bhagavat. To hear this narrative about Gauranga, Siva and the demigods mount Brahma's swan and make haste to come. When will I wander through this forest and see the assembly listening to the Gaura Purana? On the bank of the Gomati, when will I hear stories about Sri Caitanya on ekadasi day and during the holly month of Kartik? When will the audience of Saunaka and the rishis give me mercy, and put their foot-dust on my head? I will raise my two hands and say: "O residents of Navadvipa, attentively drink the nectar of Gauranga-lila in this forest!"

South lies Brahmana Puskara, non different from Puskara, where the brahmin Divadas worshipped Gauranga and was consoled by seeing His golden form. Further south, is Uccahatta, non-different from Kuruksetra or Brahmavarta. Here all demigods reside performing Gaura kirtan. Sometimes the residents can hear that music. At midday, Gauranga and His associates would stroll in these forests, overcome with transcendental love. When the devotees would give just the hint of Krishna's pastimes, Gauranga, tasting the emotions of Radha, would begin to sing and dance. When will I, alone, or in the company of devotees, drown in the waves of the ocean of love of Lord Caitanya? When will I wander at noon in the forest of Madhyadvipa, understanding that emotional state of the Lord? When will the inhabitants of Madhyadvipa be merciful and reveal to this destitute wretch my goal: "See, here is Gauranga, dancing with His associates in a grand kirtan in Brahmanagar on the bank of the Brahma Kunda."

When will I see that astounding golden form of Gaura, with two long arms, wearing a garland of forest flowers and booming loudly: "Chant the Holy Names, one and all!" At that moment, Srivasa and all the devotees, shouting: "Hari! Hari!" will begin sankirtan, and some will shout: "Say the name of Gaura Hari, brother, for without Gauranga we cannot attain the service of Radha and Krishna!"

Near Uccahatta is Pancaveni, the holy place where the demigods come to relax. At this place the three streams of the Ganga (Bhagarathi, Bhogavati and Alakananda) and the Yamuna and Sarasvati all come together, desiring to perform service to Gauranga. Here Gauranga and His men, by taking bath, purified the tirtha of the sins of the people of Kali-yuga. Vyasadeva and the rishis recognise that in all the fourteen worlds, there is nothing to compare with Pancaveni. When, by bathing in the waters of the Pancaveni, will I be able to remember the lotus feet of Sri Gauranga? Filling my hands with water from the feet of Gauranga and drinking my fill, drunken with the association of Gauranga--when will I be so blessed?"

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's pastime with His disciple Divadas, described above in Srila Bhaktivinoda's Navadvip Bhava Taranga is also described in the Thakur's Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya:

"While Sri Jiva was listening to this story [of Divadasa], they entered Uccahatta in Kuruksetra. Sri Nityananda spoke again: "All the devas along with the tirthas came here to Kuruksetra. Whatever tirthas are in the region of Brahmavarta and Kuruksetra are all present here. Prthudaka and other holy places reside here and serve Navadvipa. The fruit attained by living in Kuruksetra for a hundred years is obtained by residing here for one night.

"The devas came here and set up a market (hatta) for discussing Gauranga's pastimes. Therefore this place is called Hattadanga. By seeing this place, one will receive the ocean of prema. This is one boundary of Navadvipa. Now let us cross the Ganges."

(From Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's 'Sri Navadvipa Mahatmya', translated by H.H. Banu Swami)