Navadvipa - Mar 13 2003
This year's Gaura-mandala parikrama, organized by Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti's Devananda Gaudiya Matha on the island of Koladvipa in Navadvipa, commenced on March 13th. The evening before the parikrama was to begin, there were frightfully strong rains and winds, but the next day, when the weather became bright and sunny, the international pilgrims were grateful that the air and atmosphere had been cooled down by Gauranga's mercy.
Following in the footprints of his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, Srila Narayana Maharaja led over 500 Western devotees and over 15,000 Indian devotees to Surabhi Kunja, the place of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in Godrumadvipa. Accompanied by loud kirtanas and bhajanas, it was ultimately the two-foot tall deity of Gauranga Himself, standing on a gorgeous, multi-colored flower throne, who led all the international pilgrims on their march there, and Srila Maharaja and party were actually simply following Him.
Srila Maharaja explained to his audience that the reason they went to this place first is that the people of this world would have no concept at all about Navadvipa-mandala parikrama if it were not for Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's book, Sri Navadvipa Mahatmya. Revealed to him in a devotional trance, the Thakura made available to the world the very first Navadvipa-dhama parikrama, as led by Sri Nityananda prabhu and followed by Srila Jiva Gosvami as the first parikrama pilgrim. What Jiva Gosvami heard from Nityananda prabhu about the pastime places in Navadvipa was presented to the world by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
When Srila Narayana Maharaja, accompanied by about twenty acaryas and sannyasis from the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, arrived at Surabhi Kunja, the devotees who were close enough were overwhelmed by seeing how some local devotees came to him crying, how he embraced them, patted them on the head, solved their problems and fulfilled their inner spiritual desires, in a few moments.
Here, and in all of Gaurahari's pastime places, various leading sannyasis would read, or rather sing, from the original Bengali version of the Sri Navadvipa Mahatmya, and those Western devotees who had the English translation could follow along. After that, two or three sannyasis would speak about the glories of each place, and finally Srila Maharaja would speak.
Now, at Surabhi Kunja, Srila Maharaja called upon one of the sannyasis to sing from the Bengali, the translation of which is as follows:
The independent Lord Nityananda then walked with the devotees to Gadigacha village. When they arrived there, He smiled and said, "This island is named Godrumadvipa. Surabhi stays here eternally. When Indra was overcome by Krsna's illusory energy, he proudly flooded Gokula with rain. The Lord, however, carefully protected Gokula by lifting Govardhana mountain. Indra's pride was crushed, and he understood Krsna's identity. He therefore fell down at Krsna's lotus feet to mitigate his offense. The son of Nanda mercifully forgave Indra and pacified him.
"Still, Indra remained fearful, so he approached Surabhi and said, 'I cannot understand Krsna's pastimes, and for that reason I committed a great offense. I have heard that in Kali-yuga Vrajendra-suta will perform wonderful pastimes in Nadia. But I fear that I will again fall into illusion and commit offense. As you are Surabhi, a desire cow, you know everything. Kindly tell me what I should do now.'
"Surabhi answered, 'Let us go to Navadvipa-dhama and worship Nimai.'
"They came here and worshiped Lord Gauranga. Since the worship of Gauranga is easy, the results are easy to attain. By chanting Gauranga's name, tears of love filled their eyes and they quickly attained Gauranga's darsana. How extraordinary was His charming form! Gauranga was gently smiling and His voice was choked with love, for He is a reservoir of nectar. The Lord said, 'I know your wish. I will soon appear in Nadia town. At that time you will serve Me, and the net of maya will no longer catch you.'
"The Lord vanished, and Surabhi remained here beside a banyan tree, constantly serving Gauranga's lotus feet. Therefore this place is called Godruma [go-cow; druma-tree]. In this place the devotees' desires are fulfilled. One who builds a cottage and worships here will easily become absorbed in Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's lotus feet.
"Markandeya, the son of Mrkanda, once lived on this island during the flood of devastation. The muni had been awarded a lifetime of seven kalpas. Seeing the great danger during the devastation as everything became inundated with water, he began looking for a place to stay. Tossed in the waves, he went here and there. 'Oh why did I take such a benediction?' he lamented.
"The dhama of Navadvipa remained however, giving shelter to the devotees. Submerged in a wave, the muni became unconscious and sank. But merciful Surabhi happened to see him and carefully lifted him out. When the son of Mrkanda regained consciousness, he saw the island of Godruma an astounding place extending for a billion krosas. He saw beautiful streams and rivers, beautiful trees and vines, and birds that sang the glories of Gauranga. He saw a banyan tree extending over an area of eight miles, and under the tree he saw Surabhi.
"The muni was extremely distressed due to hunger, so he begged Surabhi, 'O goddess, please protect my life! Kindly rescue me by giving me your milk.' Surabhi then mercifully gave her milk to the muni.
"The muni thus regained his strength and said to Surabhi, 'O goddess, my mother, you pervade the universe by your mystic potency. Without understanding the consequences I took a boon to live for seven kalpas. But at the time of devastation, I suffered greatly from various miseries. There was no happiness at all. What am I to do, mother? Please tell me how to get free from this misery.'
"Surabhi then instructed the muni: 'Worship the two lotus feet of Gauranga. This Navadvipa is beyond material nature and therefore never destroyed. By material vision this place is sixteen krosas, but it is the supreme Vaikuntha and therefore without fault or illusion. Place and time here have nothing to do with material existence, nor is anyone here affected by material illusion. Just see the unprecedented wonders of Navadvipa, which is surrounded on all sides by the chaste Viraja River. Each part measures a billion krosas, and in the center is Mayapura, a vast city. The eight islands are like petals of a lotus with Antardvipa as the central stamen. All the tirthas, devas, and rsis reside here, worshiping Gauranga. For your own good, dear Markandeya, take shelter of Gauranga's feet. Take shelter of unmotivated dharma, by keeping far away from the desire for bhukti and mukti.'
"'By taking shelter in the worship of Gauranga, you will attain the sweet fruit of love of God. When that prema sits in your heart, it will drown you in the nectar of the playful pastimes of the Lord. You will get the shelter of Radha's lotus feet in Vraja, and your mind will be fixed in the service of the divine couple. The happiness of this service is unmatched, while in the non-differentiated Brahman there is only illusory knowledge.'
"The muni, hearing the words of Surabhi, folded his hands and said, 'If I worship Gauranga, what will be my destiny?'
"Surabhi answered with the essence of siddhanta, 'In worshiping Gauranga, there is no consideration. When you call out the name of Gaura, your sinful reactions are destroyed and you are freed from all distress as your material life is vanquished. Besides sinful reactions, even the fruits of mental speculation, which are only trouble, will be cut out at the root. Therefore, you should stay on this island, and submerge yourself in gauranga-rasa while worshiping the Lord.'
"Hearing this, Markandeya became filled with bliss. As he chanted the name of Gaura, he sometimes laughed and sometimes cried. Look at this remarkable place where Markandeya received life."
Jiva felt supreme happiness after hearing the glories of Gauranga from the mouth of Nityananda. After spending the day at this place, they then went to Madhyadvipa while chanting the name of Hari.
Holding the order of Lord Nityananda on his head and knowing that the lotus feet of Nitai and Jahnava are the essence of life, this worthless Bhaktivinoda describes the glories of Nadia. [end]
Srila Narayana Maharaja then explained, in Bengali, the essence of these pages regarding Indra's activities and those of Markendeya Rsi, and then he described how the twelve forests of Vraja Mandala are present in Navadvipa's nine islands, and how the pastime places like Giriraja Govardhana, Radha Kunda, Syama Kunda, and rasa-sthali are all present there. He said that Godruma includes Nandagaon and Bandhiravana, and that "go" not only means cow, but it means cows, calves, gopis and gopas. In Bandhiravana there is a big banyan tree that spreads for miles, and is situated near to where Krsna and His cows cross the Yamuna. Srila Maharaja said that when he would come here many years before, that same banyan tree was still existing, and he requested that someone from the audience kindly plant a new banyan tree in memory of the old one.
He explained that Sri Narahari Sarkara, an intimate associate of Mahaprabhu, came here to fetch milk. He wrote a very beautiful poem glorifying Him, called Sri Sacinandan-astakam, wherein he says that Mahaprabhu is really a cowherd boy and His real complexion is black. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is really that dhurta (cheater) Krsna who used to try to cheat Radharani and cause Her to enter a sulky mood of maan. At that time Lalita would encourage Her not to give up Her maan, and in that way Krsna would be forced to appreciate Her more. Narahari Sarkara wrote that poem here at Godruma.
Editorial Advisors: Pujyapad Madhava
Maharaja and Sripad Brajanatha dasa
Navadvipa Dhama Parikrama in Godrumadvipa