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Introduction [2]


Sri Gaura-Dham and Sri Bhaktivinod


Sri Srila Thakur Bhaktivinod, an associate of Sri Gaura Hari, appeared in this world to preach about Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu's Holy Name, Holy Abode and Holy Aspiration. His appearance took place within the holy abode of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, in a province near Nabadwip. So, one time Ksetrapal Tarakeswar (Lord Siva) said to Thakur in a dream, 'Are you going to Vrindavan? But have you done the job that there is to do in Sri Nabadwip Dham, near your home?'

Thakur loved Sri Gaura-dham so much that even if you try to glorify that love with the countless mouths of Anantadev, you will not be able to tell it to the end. When Thakur Bhaktivinod came to Sri Dham Mayapur, he would often say that by beholding the dust, the trees, the grass, the creepers, etc. of the dham, his heart would become surcharged with unprecedented joy and excitement.

Thakur saw Vraja-dham within Gaura-dham. He relished within the nine islands of Nabadwip the nectar of the astakaliya pastimes of Sri Gaurasundar, the chief commander of the nine types of devotion. In his book Bhajana-Rahasya, Thakur shows that one can hear, glorify and remember the astakaliya-lila of the Divine Couple of Vraja (the pastimes of Radha-Krishna taking place during the eight divisions of the day) through the Siksastakam, eight verses encapsulating the teachings of Sri Gaurasundar; and in his books Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya and Sri Nabadwip-sataka, he indicates that the same astakaliya-lila of Vraja Dham is observed within the forests of Gaura-dham. This is a very esoteric mystery – it is not to be spoken about in front of everyone broadly as there are very few people who are fit to hear about such things (otherwise, even if people hear about it, they will neither believe nor understand it).

Thakur saw the forenoon pastimes of Sri Gaura Hari within the kirtan island, Sri Godrum; he considered Godrum to be Sri Nandisvar Dham, the 'residence of cowherds' (gopavas) or the 'pasturing grounds' (gostha). That is why Thakur sings in Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga (verses 43–44): 'O mind! Worship, just worship the forest of Godrum! Soon your eyes will behold the wealth of Gaura's pastimes. By seeing those pastimes, you will easily attain the pastimes of the Divine Couple and your desires will be fulfilled. Godrum is Sri Nandisvar Dham, the residence of cowherd boys, where Sri Gauranga performs various pastimes. In the morning, the Lord eats milk preparations in cowherd boys' houses and herds cows with cowherd boys.'

Srila Thakur Bhaktivinod would sometimes see Sri Gokula Mahavan in Antardwip, Mayapur, with the rasa-mandala of Sri Vrindavan within in. We see an indication that Sri Rasa Mandala is the place of daybreak pastimes: 'Mayapur is Sri Gokula Mahavan, and Paradanga is considered Sattikara. Sri Rasa Mandal of Vrindavan is present there, and in the future there will be joyous singing at that place' (Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya, Antardwip, 88–89).

Srila Thakur saw the midday pastimes in Madhyadwip: 'At midday, Sri Gauranga roams all these forests with His associates, mad with divine love. Suggesting the pastimes of Krishna, He dances there with devotees during kirtan and relishes the ecstasy of Radha' (Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, 57).

Thakur Sri Bhaktivinod saw the intrinsic form of Sri Simantini Devi, whose hair parting is adorned with the pollen from the lotus feet of Sri Gaura and who is the protectress of the island Sri Simanta, as Yogamaya Paurnamasi. Sri Gaurasundar said to Parvati Devi: 'You are not separate from Me. You are My energy and the goddess of all. My consort (My singular energy) has two forms: as My personal energy, you are Radhika, and as My external energy, Radha expands into you. My pastimes are not complete without you. As Yogamaya, you are certainly involved in My pastimes. In Vraja, you are eternally present as Paurnamasi, and in Nabadwip, you are present as Praudha Maya with Lord Siva, the guardian of the Dham' (Sri Nabadwip Dham Mahatmya, Simantadwip, 71–74).

Thakur Bhaktivinod described the Protector of the Dham, Vriddha Siva, as the 'Protector' (Ksetrapal) of Sri Mayapur. When Mahaprabhu later manifests His disappearance pastime and Ganga Devi covers Sri Mayapur (in some places almost completely), there will be only the birthplace of Sri Gaura and some places nearby left. When, by the wish of Sri Gaurasundar, devotees again manifest a temple at His appearance place, Praudha Maya and Vriddha Siva will come again and fulfil their duties according to the wish of the Lord. Later, Thakur Bhaktivinod saw in a dream that the glory of Sri Gaura Hari's service would spread widely, and it has indeed come true. Thakur wrote in Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya (Antardwip, 74): 'A wonderful temple will manifest, and the daily worship of Gauranga will flourish in it.'

Later on, Thakur described Ballal Dirghika, excavated by Laksman Sen, as a pond of 'Vaishnav Maharaj Prithu', or 'Prithu Kunda'.

Thakur Bhaktivinod called Saradanga 'Sri Purusottama Dham'. Seeing Vidyavachaspati's place as Dvaraka, Thakur Bhaktivinod, an exalted associate of Sri Gaura and a follower of Sri Svarupa-Rupa Goswami, considered the verse 'Yah kaumara-harah' and, subsequently, Sri Rupa Goswami's verse 'Priyah so'yam' and wanted to see Sri Gaura Hari in the non-different from Sri Vrindavan temple of Srivas on the bank of Prithu Kunda.

We see that Koladwip is described in Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga (74) as Bahulavan, and the hill in Kuliya is described as Giri-Govardhan in Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya (Koladwip, 37–38): 'Fortunate souls can see this abode of ultimate joy, Koladwip, which is non-different from Sri Bahulavan. Having seen the mountain-like form of Varahadev, wise Vasudev decided that this place would be named Koladwip Parvat. Since then, it has been known as Parvat. O Jiva! Devotees know this place to be Govardhan Hill of Vrindavan, which is filled with the Lord's eternal pastimes.'

Thakur Bhaktivinod saw Bahulavan in the northern part of Koladwip (Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya, 11.39–42) and described the astonishing harmony and sweetness of the twelve forests of Sri Vrindavan Dham within Sri Nabadwip Dham, existing here in a reversed order: 'See Sri Bahulavan to the north. Its effulgence shines in all directions. O Jiva, the twelve forests are not arranged here the way they are in Vrindavan – by the will of the Lord, their order is reversed. The Lord does what He likes, and He alone knows the reason for what He does. See the way they are arranged here. This extraordinary reversal increases everyone's divine love.'

In Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya (11.43–44), Samudragad is described as the city of Dvaraka: 'See here Samudragad. O best of the wise, see here both Dvaraka Puri and Sri Gangasagar.' Thakur Bhaktivinod described Champahatta within Ritudwip as Khadiravan or the land of Sri Radha Kunda's area (Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya, 11.86–87): 'Previously, there was a beautiful champak forest here, which was part of Khadiravan. Champakalata Sakhi would pick champak flowers here every day, string garlands and serve Radha and Krishna.'

It is said in Sri Nabadwip-bhava-taranga (78–79), 'There is a champak forest in Champahatta where Champakalata Devi picks flowers. This village in Nabadwip is Sri Khadiravan, which is a resting place of Balaram and Krishna in Vraja. Ritudwip is forested and extremely enchanting. Here, spring and other seasons are devoted to the service of Gaura. Worshipped by all seasons, this land is an abode of joy. A manifestation of Radha Kunda exists here.'

In chapter 12 of Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya (verses 12–15), Ritudwip is described as Radha Kunda: 'Hearing the Name of Gauranga, Nitai immediately arose and said, "This is the place of Radha Kunda. Here, Gaurahari would perform kirtan with the devotees in the afternoon. Here, the six seasons meet and enhance the beauty of Gauranga's kirtan pastimes. Radha Kunda in Vraja is present here in Ritudwip, where devotees drink and relish divine love. See also the beauty of Shyama Kunda, which enchants the mind of every soul in this world, and the groves of the sakhis nearby. Gora would become immersed in sankirtan here in the afternoon and satisfy everyone with the gift of divine love. Brother! We find no place like this in the three worlds. Know that this is the place where devotees serve the Lord. The souls who reside here attain the wealth of divine love, and their hearts become serene."'

In Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga (80–81), Thakur Bhaktivinod described the appearance of Radha Kunda within Ritudwip: 'When will I roam Ritudwip, remembering the pastimes of the Lord, seeing the beauty of its forests? The pastimes of the Lord at Radha Kunda will then manifest before me, and I will become stunned to have the darshan of all that.'

Thakur Bhaktivinod saw the Bhadravan forest in Jhanudwip (Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, 96; Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya, ch.13), the forest Bhandiravan in Modadrumdwip (Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, 110), Nihsreyasavan in Vaikunthapur within Modadrumdwip [Kalyan-kalpataru] (Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, 117), and Kamyavan in Mahatpur (Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, 124). In Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, Thakur Srila Bhaktivinod sang the glory of Nidaya as the embodiment of sayujya-mukti (merging one's existence with the existence of Brahman, the impersonal aspect of the Lord). Sri Gaurasundar granted liberation to all jiva souls – even Salokya-, Samipya-, Sarupya- and Sarsti-mukti went to Vaikuntha (different kinds of liberation: having equal place of residence, equal association, equal bodily features and equal opulence as the Lord), but He was merciless only towards Sayujya-mukti because devotees feel extremely averse towards her. 'Sri Gauranga Prabhu delivered everyone. He was only merciless towards me. Everyone will know the place where I will now give up my life as Nidaya ("Merciless")' (Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, 140).

Srila Thakur Bhaktivinod described Nabadwip, the abode of Lord Gauranga, as a place of nine kinds of devotion, and fruitive work, knowledge, yoga, etc. are servants waiting upon devotion here. When approached by those who are averse to the Lord, the scriptures bestow upon such persons a wicked mentality; and when approached by those who are favourable and who behave gently, the scriptures bestow the gift of attachment to Lord Sri Krishna. So, even having read the scriptures, many do not have faith in Sri Gaura-dham. 'Nabadwip is the abode of the ninefold practice of devotion. Here, action and knowledge always serve devotion. The scriptures feed misconceptions to those who are averse and feed love for Krishna to those who are gentle.'

Thakur Bhaktivinod also mercifully revealed in his books the various pastimes of Gaura-dham and Vraja-dham that he himself beheld. He wrote, 'Nabadwip-mandal, Vraja-mandal and Goloka are non-different and indivisible. They became divided only because transcendental love manifests itself in an unlimited number of peculiar mellows' (Sri Brahma-samhita, 5.5).

In Sri Nabadwip-dham-mahatmya (3.79–85), the divine forms of Nabadwip-dham and Vraja-dham, as well as the chambers of the madhurya and audarya moods that are found within Goloka, are described in the following manner: 'Nabadwip is the best of all abodes of the Lord. Beyond Sri Viraja, Brahmaloka and Vaikuntha is Svetadwip, Sri Goloka and, lastly, Gokula Vrindavan, Krishna's abode. Lord Krishna's abode manifests itself in two ways: its rasa appears as either madhurya or audarya. Audarya is fully present in madhurya, and madhurya is fully present in audarya. Still, fortunate souls know that Vrindavan is the place where madhurya is predominant. All the Vedas say that Nabadwip-dham is a place where audarya is always predominant. There is no difference between Vrindavan and Nabadwip other than the difference in their respective manifestation of rasa.'

Thakur said in Jaiva-dharma, 'These three abodes – Goloka, Vrindavan and Svetadwip – are private chambers of Paravyoma. Goloka is an abode of Krishna's lawful pastimes (svakiya, the pastimes that Krishna performs together with His internal potency); Vrindavan is an abode of paramour pastimes (parakiya); and Svetadwip is a supplementary abode of those pastimes. There is no difference between Goloka, Vrindavan and Svetadwip – although Sri Nabadwip is actually Svetadwip, it is non-different from Vrindavan.'

Thakur Bhaktivinod, an embodiment of Nadia, has also told us how one can get the eyes to see Sri Gaura-dham. If you are to receive the mercy of Sri Gaura's abode, you must first of all receive the mercy of Srila Thakur Bhaktivinod. If you desire to attain the great fortune of eternal residence in the abode of Sri Gaura, you must become a particle of dust adhering to the holy lotus feet of Sri Bhaktivinod. If you identify yourself with the body, if you have fleshy vision, then you will not see the holy abode or be able to identify yourself with it. You can see the true holy form of the dham through the vision of the Holy Name. Thakur Bhaktivinod repeatedly glorified this truth: 'According to the desire of the Lord, until and unless your illusory body leaves you, the nature of the dham will not be fully revealed to you, and your intelligence will not leave its conditioned nature behind. By the will of the Lord, you can receive a spiritual body and become free here; the covering of the net of material illusion will disappear, and you will feel unlimited joy in this eternal abode' (Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, 105–106).

Thakur Bhaktivinod tells us how we must practise Krishna consciousness (serve the Lord) in the holy abode of Sri Gaura in Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga (verses 100–109). The meaning of what he says there is that worshipping Gaura Hari having given up all hopes and aspirations and having come to reside in the abode of Gaura is the way how to become liberated from material bondage and attain the lotus feet of Sri Gaura. When such liberated souls attain Mahaprabhu's grace, they constantly see the pastimes of Krishna and Gaura within this abode of Gaura. Being constantly immersed into the nectar of servitude to Lord Krishna in this holy abode, pure devotees are not troubled by any worldly need, pain or material endeavours – their bodies and hearts (aspirations) are pure and transcendentally fulfilled. The holy abode of Sri Gaura is eternal; there is no material illusion within it. For as long as jiva souls remain situated within an illusory body, they should give up slack life and serve a pure devotee with utmost caution, tolerance and patience – if they practise spiritual life in this way (constantly chanting the Holy Name, worshipping the Divine Couple, appealing for the mercy of Sri Dham, Sri Nama and Their devotees) and remain always cautious about unholy association, they will attain the mercy of Sri Dham, the holy abode of the Lord. Describing the holy abode of Sri Gaura, Thakur Bhaktivinod revealed his own divine form when describing his dearmost Godrumdwip, which is non-different from Sri Radha Kunda – his Svananda-sukhada-kunja, his Mistress of Svananda Kunja – as well as the mood of servitude and the aspired service position pertaining to his pure nature. To serve the Supreme Lord Isanath having come to reside in the holy abode of the Supreme Lord (Isaksetra) is Thakur Bhaktivinod's ultimate objective and service life.

In Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga (26–27), Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur tells about a grove called Isodyan that is situated in the southern part of Mayapur, on the bank of the Jahnavi (Ganga), not far from the confluence of the Ganga and Sarasvati. For him, this grove evokes the memory of the pastimes that take place at Radha Kunda at noon, and he describes it in the following way: 'In the southern part of Mayapur, on the bank of the Ganga, quite near its confluence with the Sarasvati, there is a large garden known as Isodyan. May it forever be my place of worship. Seeing the splendour of that grove where my Lord, Sri Sachi-nandan, performs His pastimes with devotees at midday, Radha and Krishna come to mind. May all these places always appear before my eyes.'

The forest of Sri Godrum also arouses within Thakur the memory of Sri Radha Kunda. At the time when he entered his eternal pastimes, the perfection of this pure transcendental position manifested in him of its own accord. We have heard about it from great souls; it is a transcendental, supra-mundane matter. This clearly proves that Gaurahari, the Master of Sri Dham, sent Thakur to this world to spread all possible glory of Sri Gaura-dham. We see that Thakur's earnest hankering within Sri Godrum, which is non-different from Radha Kunda, is expressed in the following way:

"sei sri-godruma-vana adbhuta vyapara
kabe va dekhiba peye radha-krpa-sara"

'This forest of Sri Godrum is something astonishing! When will I attain the prerequisite mercy of Sri Radha and get to see it?'

(Sri Nabadwip-sataka, 42–43)

Thakur Bhaktivinod, an exclusive follower of Sri Gauranga and the holy embodiment of Nadia, prayed for the mercy of Sri Gaura-dham, which was all-in-all in his life, with a great hankering. What is that mercy of Sri Gaura-dham? What does it take to reside in Sri Gaura-dham? What sort of humility do the residents of Sri Gaura-dham possess? And by whose mercy does one attain residence in Sri Gaura-dham? Praying ardently for the mercy of the servants of his servants, we would like to conclude this article by quoting Thakur Bhaktivinod himself. 'Living in my grove near Isodyan, I will worship the Divine Couple and moon-like Sri Gauranga. Bhaktivinod, a servant of the servant of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, prays for residence in Nabadwip. Yearning for the feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunath, he desperately prays for the fulfilment of his desires. O residents of Nabadwip and Vrindavan, please swiftly grant me a place in the abode of the Lord. It is your abode, and I am simply your servant. By serving you all, I will attain residence in the Dham. O Nabadwip! Please bestow your mercy upon me. Who attains the Lord's abode without your mercy? Please do not judge my worthiness. I have accepted the instructions of Jahnava and Nitai as my all-in-all' (Sri Nabadwip-bhavataranga, 163–167).


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⇐ Appeal on Sri Nabadwip Dham Parikrama

About Dham Parikrama ⇒



1 Appeal on Sri Nabadwip Dham Parikrama
2 Sri Gaura-Dham and Sri Bhaktivinod
3 About Dham Parikrama




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