The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Santipura

BY: SUN STAFF - 14.2 2020

Shantipura City Temple

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 130.

Shantipur, a famous center of Vaisnavism in the Nadia district, is best known to devotees as being the residence of the divine personality, Sri Advaita Acarya. After Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the renounced order of life, Nityananda Prabhu accompanied Him on a trip to Jagannath Puri. On the way, Nityananda detoured the Lord first through Shantipur, to see Sri Advaita Acharya. It was also from Shantipur that the Lord rowed himself across the Ganges to Kalna.

The principle deity of Shantipur is Sri Radharaman, who has been worshipped for long years by the family of Baro Gosai, descending from Mathuresh Goswami. The Deity was originally installed in Orissa by King Indradyumna, as a single image of Krishna named Dol Govinda. But when the king of Yessore (now in Bangladesh) attacked Orissa he brought the Deity back with him to his capital.

Later, during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar, Yessore came under siege, during the reign of King Pratapaditya. The priest of the temple gave the Deity to his own guru, Mathuresh Goswami, to protect the Lord during the time of unrest. The Goswami, realizing the gravity of the situation, took Dol Govinda to his ancestral home in Shantipur, where he reinstalled the Deity in a new temple. Srimati Radha was later installed alongside Dol Govinda, and together they were named Radharaman.

Sri Madan Gopal, the deity worshipped by Advaita Acharya, is also still worshipped here by heirs of Krishna Mishra, the second son of Advaita Acharya.

Before discussing Sri Advaita Acharya's pastimes at Santipura, we begin with Sri Krsna Caitanya's sannyasa-lila, in which the Lord famously departed for Vrindavan, but was diverted by Nityananda Prabhu into first going to Sri Advaita's asrama at Santipura. Following are two nice passages describing this pastime. The first is from Srila Prabhupada -- "A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya, the Preacher of Srimad Bhagwatam -- which is part of the Introduction to Srimad Bhagwatam:

"The Lord, after accepting the sannyāsa order, at once wanted to start for Vṛndāvana. For three continuous days He traveled in the Rāḍha-deśa (places where the Ganges does not flow). He was in full ecstasy over the idea of going to Vṛndāvana. However, Śrīla Nityānanda diverted His path and brought Him instead to the house of Advaita Prabhu in Śāntipura. The Lord stayed at Śrī Advaita Prabhu's house for a few days, and knowing well that the Lord was leaving His hearth and home for good, Śrī Advaita Prabhu sent His men to Navadvīpa to bring mother Śacī to have a last meeting with her son. Some unscrupulous people say that Lord Caitanya met His wife also after taking sannyāsa and offered her His wooden slipper for worship, but the authentic sources give no information about such a meeting. His mother met Him at the house of Advaita Prabhu, and when she saw her son in sannyāsa dress, she lamented. By way of compromise, she requested her son to make His headquarters in Purī so that she would easily be able to get information about Him. The Lord granted this last desire of His beloved mother. After this incident the Lord started for Purī, leaving all the residents of Navadvīpa in an ocean of lamentation over His separation."

In his article, Sri Rai Ramananda, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati describes the Lord's continued trip, from Shantipur on to Jagannath Puri:

"On the eve of His departure from Nadia He addressed His wife and mother and all friends to the effect that He was leaving their society in His search for Krishna and the very act would give them a better opportunity of culturing the habit of search after Krishna. The desertion was a boon to all of them and they should part with Him in all goodwill.

From Shantipur He took the track on the cast bank of the Ganges, passing through Varahanagar, Calcutta, Atisara, Chattrabhoga and other villages before He entered Orissa. He visited Gopinath at Remuna in the District of Balasore, where His grand-preceptor Madhavendra Puri had the privilege of receiving the special mercy of the Lord Who purloined one of the pots full of preparation of thickened milk and rice boiled in the same which had been offered to Himself by the officiating priest, and presented it to Madhavendra Puri for his use. He went on to Jajpur and visited Sakshi Gopala in Cuttack. He reached Puri by way of Bhuvaneswar."

Shantipura Village Temple