The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Gauda-bhumi

BY: SUN STAFF - 9.9 2019

Lord Chaitanya's Sankirtan Party

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 52.

In Shri Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava, a collection of the Thakur's teachings compiled by the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, there is an interesting passage that describes how the Vaisnava community in 'the land of Gaudadesa' became fragmented after the departure of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:

Previous Acaryas

23. Why were Srinivasacarya, Sri Narottama, and Sri Syamananda Prabhu called "Gitacaryas"?

The three great souls, Srinivasacarya, Sri Narottama, and Sri Syamananda lived in Vrndavana for some time as the students of Sri Jiva Gosvami. With the approval of Sri Jiva Gosvami, they arranged the method of performing kirtana. All three of them were expert in the art of music and proficient in Indian classical music. Their lives were one, their goal was one, and they were the most intimate friends. Being encouraged by Sri Jiva Gosvami, the three expert and melodious singers went to their respective provinces. These three great souls were the ornaments of the land of Gauda, Bengal. [ ] …we do not find any Sanskrit books written by them. They were fully mature in knowledge of the mellows of Vraja, expert in Vaisnava conclusions, and proficient in the art of music and singing.

After the disappearance of Sriman Mahaprabhu, there was some commotion within the Vaisnava society. Since there was no qualified candidate in the line of Mahaprabhu at that time and since various ideologies entered the philosophy of Vaisnavism, the land of Gaudadesa became bereft of the administration of an acarya. Due to His independent nature, Sri Viracandra Prabhu could not bring all of Gauda-mandala-bhumi under His control. At the same time, there was great confusion among the sons of Sri Advaita Prabhu. Gradually the associates and devotees of Mahaprabhu began to disappear. Taking this opportunity, many preachers of unauthorized sects, such as baula, sahajiya, daravesa, and sani, began to spread their ideologies at different places. Taking advantage of the faith that the people had in the names of Sri Caitanya and Nityananda, these preachers of unauthorized cults began to spread their evil teachings to the unfortunate living entities.

Sri Jiva Gosvami was the only undisputed Vaisnava acarya at that time. Although he was a resident of Vraja, on hearing the pathetic condition of Gauda-mandala, he became extremely distressed and immediately sent Srinivasacarya Prabhu, Sri Narottama dasa Thakura, and Sri Syamananda Prabhu to Bengal as acaryas to teach religious principles. He also arranged to send many conclusive writings of the Lord's associates. By the will of Mahaprabhu, all these books were stolen on the way. Having no books with them, they began to preach the pure principles of Vaisnava religion on the strength of their own bhajana. (Sajjana-tosani 6/2)"

(Shri Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava, Volume 1, Sambandha 4.2)

Surcharged with the transcendental mood of Sri Chaitanya, the glories of Sri Gauda-mandala-bhumi are sung by Srila Narottama das Thakur in his Sadhaka-dehocita Sri-vrndavana-basa-lalasa (The Devotee's Aspiration to Reside in Sri Vrndavana):

Song 38, Text 3

gaurangera sangi-gane nitya-siddha kori' mane
se jay brajendra-suta-pas
sri-gauda-mandala-bhumi jeba jane cintamani
tara hoy braja-bhume bas

"Simply by understanding that the associates of Lord Gauranga are eternally free from material contamination, one can immediately be promoted to the transcendental abode of Lord Krsna. If one simply understands that the land of Navadvipa is not different from Vrndavana, then he actually lives in Vrndavana."

This transcendental nature of Gauda-bhumi is also described by Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati, in his Sri Navadvipa-sataka. Following are a few select verses from the text, which offers 'A Hundred Verses Glorifying Navadvipa':

"36 Fools, the paths of the world and the Vedas will bring you only trouble! Give up everything and make yourself a leaf hut in Sri Godruma in Gauda-desa!

47 All glories to Lord Gaura's Gauda-desa forest which, splendid with tilaka decorations, clothed in white garments of the Ganges' waters, splendid with the glory of blossoming campaka flowers, glorious with many kinds of nectar, and charming with the sweet nectar of pure love for Lord Krsna, is very dear to Sri Jagannatha Misra's son!

48 Who will not take shelter of wonderful, blissful Navadvipa, where millions of glorious kalpavrksa trees are embraced by the sweet vines of pure bhakti that are their wives, and where Brahmapura and all other holy places shine with great splendour?

49 As much as they speak ill of residing in Navadvipa, to that extent they will not understand the secret of pure spontaneous love for Lord Govinda's lotus feet in Vrndavana, the root from which the Lord's pastimes of love sprout.

50 Again and again remembering the person dark as a new monsoon cloud who is embraced by Sri Radha, Her transcendental form like a vine splendid as millions of lightning flashes, a certain saintly devotee, his mouth fill with loud, urgent, very sweet prayers, and pure devotional love rising within him, wanders in Lord Gaura's sacred places.

51 When, at every moment shedding tears of deep love, and the hairs of my body erect with joy, will I roll upon the ground where Lord Gaura placed His feet?

52 The secret of pure devotional service rests in they who take shelter of Lord Gaura's sacred place, where my Lord Hari, His transcendental form filled with the nectar of splendid divine love, assumes the role of Sri Radha.

53 If the people speak unbearable insults to me as if I were a candala or a dog or an ass, then I do not feel unhappy as I stay in the nine islands of Navadvipa, where the nine processes of loving devotional service, beginning with hearing about Lord Krsna and culminating in surrendering one's life and heart to Him, shine with great glory.

54 O brother, give up all your spiritual practices and take shelter of Lord Gaura's sacred place. As you desire so your body, words, and heart will act.

55 With a bowl in hand we go begging even on the paths to the houses of the dogeaters in beautiful Navadvipa. We pray that we will never take this body, attained by many past pious deeds, to any other place.

56 When, wearing a kaupina and one old cloth, day and night singing of the waves of Sri Sri Radha-Madhupati's confidential pastimes, and at the end of the day eating a fruit or a root, will I spend this lifetime in the forest of Navadvipa?

57 Above the material nature, in the ocean of happiness that is the Supreme Brahma splendour, is the Spiritual Sky, the Supreme Abode glorified in the Vedas. Within the Spiritual sky the circle of Gauda-bhumi is glorious with all splendour. There gaze on the forest of Vrndavana.

58 Even though staying there himself, he who commits the offense of thinking that the residents of Gaura-sthala do not have spiritual forms of eternity, bliss and knowledge, will not attain the supreme abode.

59 When one understands that the moving and unmoving residents of Navadvipa have forms of eternal spiritual nectar, then he becomes a genuine servant of Sri Radha's beloved.

60 Wandering in Navadvipa is the best of all opulences, the best of all religious principles, the best of all kinds of worship, the best of all perfections, the best of all glories, and the best of all oceans of sweetness.

61 When, singing, dancing, laughing, rolling about on the ground, running, crying, or falling down unconscious, will I, blind with intoxication by drinking the nectar of great spiritual love, and oblivious to the world, wander in Navadvipa?

94 I am tightly bound by chains of limitless horrible desires. I am addicted to millions of sins. My mind is filled with pain. Millions of wicked men mislead me. They are not my friends. Except for the holy abode of Gauda-mandala, who is my friend in this world?"