The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Samudragarh

BY: SUN STAFF - 6.2 2020

Painting by Omer Kligman

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 126.

The next holy place included on Jaiva Dharma's 'Glossary of Places' is Samudragarh, which is another town located close to Rtudvipa. About this place, Srila Bhaktivinoda writes:

"Samudragarh - a place in the southwestern side of Rtudvipa. It is located on the southern-most border of Navadvipa-dhama. Dvaraka-puri and Ganga-sagara are directly present here.

The great king and bhakta of Krsna, Samudra Sena, had his capital here. When Bhima was touring east India on behalf of his brother, Yudhisthira, to collect tributes for the Rajasuya sacrifice, Samudra Sena opposed him, knowing that if he put Bhima into difficulty, Sri Krsna would come to his rescue. Krsna did appear, not to Bhima but before the King on the battlefield, first in His original form and then as Sri Gauranga. The ocean (samudra) also traveled to this place through the medium of the Ganga to have darsana of Sri Gauranga."

Samudragarh is mentioned three times in Jaiva Dharma, and several variations in spelling are found: Samudragarh, Samudragara, Samudragar, Samudra-garh and Summutgur. The first reference is in chapter six, in a scene leading up to the great debate between the Vaisnavas and the smrta brahmanas Vidyaratna had invited to engage with them:

"At that time Vidyaratna Mahasaya, Caturbhuja Padaratna from Samudragara, Cintamani Nyayaratna from Varanasi, Kalidasa Vasaspati from Purvasthali, and the famous pandita Krsna Cudamani all came there. The Vaisnavas very respectfully offered sitting places to their brahmana pandita guests."

The next mention of Samudragarh is in chapter eleven, where it is referred to as the place of residence of one of the Vaisnava characters in Srila Bhaktvinoda's transcendental novel:

"The village of Kuliya-grama was situated across the Ganges from the old city of Navadvipa. In the area of Kuliya were some famous small hamlets, such as the one named Cinadanga. A devotee merchant of Cinadanga once held a great spiritual festival in the temple at Kuliya Paharapura. Many brahmana panditas and all the Vaisnavas within thirty-two miles of Navadvipa were invited to that festival. On the day of the festival the Vaisnavas were coming from all directions. Sri Ananta dasa and others came from Sri Nrsimha-palli. Sri Goracanda Babaji and others came from Sri Mayapura. Sri Narayana dasa Babaji and others came from Sri Bilva-puskarini. Sri Narahari dasa and others came from Sri Modadruma. The paramahamsa babaji, Vaisnava dasa, and others came from Sri Godruma. Sri Sacinandana dasa and others came from Sri Samudragar. The tilaka mark of Lord Hari's temple was on their foreheads, tulasi beads were around their necks, and all their limbs were resplendent with the marks of Lord Gaura and Lord Nityananda. In every hand were beads for chanting the holy names of Lord Hari."

Finally, Samudragar is mentioned in chapter twelve, again as the home of the smrta-brahmanas, in a passage describing the preaching field in Navadvipa around the time of Sri Chaitanya's lila:

"At the time of Sri Mahaprabhu this place was the home of many, many panditas. This village was the home of Saci-devi's father, Sri Nilambara Cakravarti. Not far from his house lived a vaidika brahmana named Vrajanatha Bhattacarya. By studying in a school at Bilva-puskarini, in a few days he had attained great learning in nyaya-sastra, learning that was like a shoreless ocean. All the famous panditas of Bilva-puskarini, Brahmana-puskarini, Mayapura, Godruma, Madhyadvipa, Amraghatta, Samudragar, Kuliya and many other places also were embarrassed and frustrated by Vrajanatha's skill in newer and newer logical arguments. In the assemblies where the panditas were invited, Vrajanatha Pancanana became like a lion attacking a herd of elephants. Raising newer and newer arguments, he made the panditas burn with anger. Of these panditas a very hard-hearted logician decided to kill Pancanana by casting a spell from the Tantras. Day after day he stayed in the cremation ground of Rudradvipa and chanted mantras to kill his foe."

Modern Samudragarh, West Bengal

(Samudragarh, to be continued…)