2nd day of the yatra and I understood the effect of association.
Normally, when you have a long train journey you definitely don’t find anyone getting up early in morning by 4 and start worshiping or chanting. I have seen people sleeping and just lying down for hours and hours till their stop is arrived or in day time… max, you see is people talking to each other and sometimes leading to good friendship. But, what a beautiful atmosphere was there around me when few devotees surrounding me got up by 4 or 4:30 AM and were chanting, reviving their eternal friendship with the Supreme. I usually try but have always failed to wake up at 4 or 4:30 unless need to go out but today, out of shame I woke up. I was feeling so shameful when I saw a devotee woke up and chanting and myself sleeping. Bang, right on the next second I woke up with my bead bag in hand and started chanting. Never before, I enjoyed so much…. I was enjoying chanting then and completed my rounds in the morning before the other non-devotees woke up.
We all did Mangal aarti, Narsimha aarti, tulasi aarti and Kirtan. Soon, came Rourkela and again most of us were down on the platform dancing and doing Kirtans… wow what a start of the day with talking to best friend (Supreme Lord) and dancing. Train whistle was blown and this time we didn’t want to run like the previous day when the train started and so we all calmly got back in train on time J Soon, a prabhujis came and were serving Poha + Tomato chatni for breakfast. It was hot and tasty. Never before I had this tomato chatni but it was very tasty an so we all took second serves too ;-)
There was a lecture by Bal Govind Prabhu after the breakfast (which was relished more than the breakfast ;-)).
Mayapur is also called as Nabadwip (also Navadwip, Navadvipa or Nabadwip Dham) and is a municipality in Nadia district in the Indian state of West Bengal. Its name means "9 islands" in the Bengali language which are situated on eastern and western banks of Ganga. The islands are named Antardwip, Simantadwip, Rudradwip, Madhyadwip, Godrumdwip, Ritudwip, Jahnudwip, Modadrumdwip, and Koladwip. Just like the lotus flower that blooms which has got 8 petals surrounding and 1 in center; like that is the shape of the spiritual world in the form of Mayapur Dham is. It is like the lotus where 8 petals are 8 islands and the center island is called Antardwip where ISKCON centre is. There are places where we would not be going in yatra due to time constraints. So, we will go there is through hearing. One such place we shall visit today known as Modadrumdwip.
In Treta Yuga, when Lord Ram along with mother Sita when he has in his vanvas (forest), both of them came across this place called Godrumdwip and they stayed here. Laxman with his loving hands made Kutir for Lord Rama and Sita to stay. When they were staying in this place, Lord Rama was smiling as if he had some wonderful thought going in his mind. So, mother Sita asked him what is going in your mind. Lord Rama told her that in Kalyuga, I am going to appear here in the form of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and I am going to distribute pure love of God through the chanting of the holy names of the lord to anyone and everyone on this planet earth and thus deliver everyone back to the spiritual world. So, mother Sita expressed the desire to see that form of Lord Gauranga and then Lord Ram reveled to her the beautiful form of Lord Gauranga – golden complexioned. His hands are reaching up to his knees very tender and long arms. He has got golden complexion. He is the only soul father of Sankirtana movement and he has got beautiful lotus flowered eyes. He is the maintainer of the entire creation by the name Vishwambhara and Dwijara (best of all brahmanas). He gives the process of Yuga dharma – chanting of holy names.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
And to such wonderful mercy incarnation of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu, I offer my repeated obeisances. So, this form when mother Sita saw, she was stunned but then she saw something unusual that the Lord is in the form of a sanyasi (means he shall give up his mother, his wife and everyone else). She becomes very unhappy seeing him in the form of a sanyasi. She asks what is this? I am seeing you in the form of a sanyasi. Will you leave us and go and take sanyas in this incarnation of yours? Lord Ram tries to pacify her by saying that yes, although I shall take sanyas; my mother Sachi mata and you who is appearing as Vishnupriya; I may be separated from you but I assure you through your constant remembrance of me, I shall always stay with you although I have taken sanyas. So in this way, this place Godrumdwip is a very special place. It is not an ordinary place to be.
Then, down the line when many many thousands of years passed by, Lord appeared a wonderful niece to Shivas Thakur. Shivas Thakur is one of the Panchtattva. Lord appears in five forms – Prabhu Nityandanda, Shri Advait, Gadhadhar, and Shivas Thakur Lord Chaitanya. These are 5 incarnations of a supreme lord in form of his devotees, expansion of a devotee, incarnation of a devotee and a devotee himself. In the five forms, Lord appears and that is called as Panchtattva. So, Shivas Thakur is not ordinary. Shivas Thakur had a niece Narayani and this girl was simply a 4 yr. old child and from her childhood she used to constantly participate in the sankirtana o Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who used to sing and dance in Shivas Thakur’s aangan every day and every night.
Once, there was a rumor that a Muslim king agitated by the local kazi by telling that the sankirtana movement is banned in our village but Shivas Thakur every night gathers his devotees together and he has sankirtana. He must be punished and there was a rumor that the king has sent a batch of soldiers to loot plunder the home of Shivas Thakur. Shivas Thakur listening to this rumor became very afraid that what will happen to devotees? What will happen to the temple and paraphernalia which he has for the service of the lord? As he was afraid, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw this while he was dancing in his own home observed this anxiety and asked Shivas Thakur that “Do you think that this kazi or king can do anything to you or devotees because I am situated in everyone’s heart as supersoul (parmatma) unless I sanction, they can’t even lift their hand to hold a weapon against you. Unless I sanction they can’t even remember in their life what they are supposed to you and unless it is my wish they cannot do anything to anyone. So, if you don’t believe me just see what I can do now. Then Chaitanya Mahaprabhu called Narayani. He told the kazi and the king – I can make them sing love of Godhead crying tears in their ecstasy.
What they are trying to disapprove, the very same day they shall be ecstatic in the love of God and then Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told Narayani (4 yrs old girl) to chant Krishna’s name and cry in ecstasy. Then Narayani started chanting Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna and tears of love of God started pouring from her eyes. She was stunned in ecstasy. She was swimming in happiness and seeing her wonderful transformation, al devotees started dancing jai, jai, haribol!! haribol!! And in this way there was a big festival that continued afterwards coz devotees got their confidence back.
So, this Narayani was also given the remnants by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as prasadam and maha mahaprasadam. Eventually she grew and got married. She had a child by the name Vrindavandas. This child Vrindavandas Thakur was none other than Vyāsadeva himself (incarnation of Vyāsadeva in Chaitanya Lila). So, this Godrumdwip is the birthplace of Vrindavandas Thakur (Vyāsadeva himself). Eventually he wrote a literature Chaitanya Mangal and there was another same literature Chaitanya Mangal written by Lochandas Thakur and so the devotees suggested that this literature should be named as Chaitanya Bhagwat because Vyāsadeva has also composed Srimad Bhagvatam and if there is a literature composed on Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes by Vrindavandas Thakur who is Vyāsadeva, that literature is known as Chaitanya Bhagwat. Sometimes, if you get time please read these 3 literatures, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Chaitanya Mangal and Chaitanya Bhagwat and you shall come to know a lot about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his pastimes and teachings. In this way, Godrumdwip is a very very special place.
Near by the home of Vrindavandas Thakur, there is Sarang Morari’s place. There is Sarang Dev Gaudiya math, a beautiful temple. There is a very beautiful story. It so happened that there was a great devotee of lord Chaitanya by the name Sarang Thakur. He used to stay under a tree and he was not so much concerned on building a home and facility for himself. He used to go every morning to Ganga, take his bath, come and chant Krishna. In this way, he was living very happily. One day he was chanting his Bhajan sitting on this place, in his beautiful vision Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu appeared. Lord and his dreams are identical. To the degree a person is purified, to that degree 1 can perceive. Gauranga Mahaprabhu said if you initiate, make disciples and chant Hare Krishna. Sarang Thakur said no, this guru and all is not meant for me. How can I become guru of someone? He was very humble who was very much unwilling to become a spiritual master. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said I order you that you much become spiritual master and give Hare Krishna to everyone. Finally, Sarang Thakur promises that tomorrow morning the first person I see I am going to initiate him and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu disappeared in his dream.
Early morning next day Sarang Thakur went to take his bath in Ganga. As he was taking body, a body came and touched him. It was a dead body of a 7 yr. old child. So, the custom in the Bengal is sometimes to cremate the body and sometimes if it is a body of a child then they float it in the Ganga. So, this dead body came and touched Sarang Thakur. He remembered his promise that whomever I see first in morning, I shall give him diksha and so he grabbed the child and in his ears chanted the initiation mantras. The body became alive. This boy was named as Moraridas by Sarang Thakur. Moraridas started staying with his guru and doing all kinds of services for his guru. Eventually he became so dear that everyone in the village came to know him as Sarang Morari. This boy, eventually his parents came to know and his parents came running that our boy is alive and is with Sarang Thakur. So, they came to take him back and the boy looked at them and said I was already dead. You floated me down the river and now when my spiritual master gave me new birth; new life by which I can come back to my actual position as a devotee of the lord. How can I give up service to my guru? I shall stay here only. So, the parents went and started nagging the guru telling him please send the boy home back. Sarang Thakur said you can take him, he is your son and the boy was very reluctant. So, in this way Sarang Morari also used to stay in this place.
This Bakula tree that I was telling you about is a very special tree. After some years that Sarang Thakur was performing bhajans, this tree was going to die, it was withering away. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to go every day to Vidyanagar to study and then come back to Antardwip where Yogpeeth is there. So, on the way Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would pass through Bakula tree (Sarang Thakur’s place) and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told Sarang Thakur that at least build a home for yourself and he was unwilling. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw that this is the tree which was the only shelter for Sarang Thakur. He out of compassion went and embraced that tree which was dying. And the tree became full bloomed back in action and beautiful. There is a hole in that tree where 2 people can sit comfortably. Generally if a tree gets a hollow in it, it dies away. But this tree is the only tree which is alive 500 years later which has a hollow inside it and it is in full bloom.
Sarang Thakur was such a powerful preacher, fearless. It is said that in his love of god, he is always seen chanting and dancing. It is said that one time whenever or wherever he would go, be it river or jungle; if the tiger is sleeping would slap a tiger and say chant Hare Krishna. Why are you wasting your life? If you are a non-envious person, even animals understand. They attack us when they know that we have envy in our heart. The tiger would know that he is singing love of God. He is a true soul and the tiger would start singing Hare Krishna and then he would go and jump in river Ganga, catch a crocodile, open his mouth and tell him chant Hare Krishna!! Why are you wasting your life? And the crocodile would chant Hare Krishna. Sometimes, he would grasp pythons by tail and tell them. Anyhow, even now there are crocodiles in Ganga and tigers and pythons. But they don’t come and attack devotees.
It is said that Madhavacharya also came to this Modadrumdwip and in this place when he was visiting and reciting his beautiful prayers of the lord, Gauranga Mahaprabhu gave him his darshan and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told Madhavacharya that you should go and preach this cult of dalitvad completely smashing the teachings of advaitvad established by Shankaracharya. Establish pure bhakti on this tract of land especially in south India. So, on the order and blessings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Madhavacharya went down south and he also told Madhavacharya that in future (since Madhavacharya appeared 1000 yrs. before and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared before 500 yrs.). Gauranga Mahaprabhu told Madhavacharya that after a few hundred years later I shall appear and I shall take initiation in your sampraday and inaugurate the process called harinaam sankirtana. In the meanwhile, you should prepare the grounds by doing this work of Advaitvad. So, in this way, this place Modadrumdwip is very beautiful even today. Huge wide rivers, crystal clear waters. If you go there, you don’t feel like going anywhere else.
So, now I request you to constantly hear and chant on the holy names of the lord not wasting any moment of the yatra.
We reached Howrah at 3 and Kanai Thakur Prabhuji guided us to the way out. Right at the exit Bal Govind Prabhu was waiting for us and he guided us to the 2 buses that were on opposite end.
Nice comfortable buses. We loaded our luggage and after starting for Mayapur, Bal Govind Prabhu (as I was in his bus) gave a small introduction of the place.
Mayapur is also called as Nabadwip. Its name means "9 islands" in the Bengali language which are situated on eastern and western banks of Ganga. The islands are named Antardwip, Simantadwip, Rudradwip, Madhyadwip, Godrumdwip, Ritudwip, Jahnudwip, Modadrumdwip, and Koladwip. It is a birth place of many lilas of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Many pilgrims from origins worldwide adhering to Gaudiya Vaishnavism come to Nabadwip every year on pilgrimage. These 9 islands represent 9 processes of bhakti.
Rudradwip is the place of Lord Shiva. It represents sravanam. Kirtanam which is the process for Godrumdwip, smaranam is the process for Madhyadwip. Archanam which is the process of Jahnudwip and so on and so forth. So, in these processes if we have to become expert and accomplished, we seek the potencies in these places when we visit them. So, this Rudradwip is the place where prominent pastimes of Lord Shiva take place. Our ISKCON centre is in the portion where Rudradwip and Antardwip meet each other. It is a very prominent place. So, when Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left his home to take sanyas, it was from this Rudradwip that he crossed Ganga and went to Patwa. Similar way, Srila Prabhupada also would visit and leave Mayapur Dham from this place (Rudradwip) to preach whole world. So in that context, we as preachers of KC treat Rudradwip as a very special place where we seek the divine merits where we also become empowered to go out and preach the way Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada did.
In Rudradwip, which is the place of Lord Shiva, there are very beautiful pastimes that take place. Lord Shiva eternally resides here and once upon a time, during the time of Nimbarka Acharya. Nimbarka Acharya and his followers came to this place and they were together discussing Hari Katha amongst each other. Lord Shiva gets very pleased hearing the Hari Katha and he voluntarily offered Darshan to whole of the Vaishnava community. Nimbarka Acharya and others offered dandvats. So, there is a description that just like of all the flowing rivers, Ganga is the best; amongst all devtas, Lord Krishna is the best and amongst all Vaishnava, Lord Shiva is the best. And amongst all Puranas, Srimad Bhagvatam is the best.
So, when Lord Shiva appeared Nimbarka Acharya and others offered obeisances and Lord Shiva told them that I am so pleased with the discussion that you had; you can ask anything that you want. Nimbarka Acharya said that I want to preach this message of bhakti all over this tract of land and I need your empowerment specially in spreading KC. Lord Shiva said Tathastu and in fact Lord Shiva named this island as Rudradwip. Nimbarka Acharya became very very famous in the sampraday. In this way, this place is also famous for Lord Shiva giving benediction to preachers.
Then, this is the same place where Bhakti Siddhantha Saraswati Thakur (BHAKTI SIDDHANTHA SARASWATI THAKUR) finished his college education and beautiful deity of neem tree of Gauranga and Nityananda prabhu for himself and keeping the deity in front, he took a vow that I will chant 100 crore names of Krishna. You know how much is this? It took him 10 years of daily chanting more than 128 rounds. So, after he took this vow he made a small hut for himself and started chanting. He hardly bothered for climatic conditions and such 10 years consistently he chanted the holy names of Lord Krishna. When he completed his vow, there were so many impediments. Sometimes, the shack in which he was staying would break and rains would torrentially fall upon him. But, he would bother trying to remake the construction. He would just put up an umbrella, sitting in the rain and continue chanting.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare
He did this for 10 years. Such was his determination. At the end of which he was blessed by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as an empowered preacher of KC. So, we should learn something from this in our own spiritual lives also. Often, we are very eager to tell others to become Krishna’s devotees. We are very quick to make the point. But you know gostyanandi is the one who is a great bhajnanandi ( good teller is the one who is a good implementer). He is the one who finds delight in his own sadhana by getting up early in the morning, by doing his rounds. Only one who is relishing one’s own Bhajan can give that relish to others whom he is trying to preach to. It is not that we are enthusiastic to distribute books, to meet great devotees and when it comes to our own chanting we treat it as if oh ho, what a burden!! I have to finish so many rounds and why do I have to do this every day? So, that is not a preacher. So, BHAKTI SIDDHANTHA SARASWATI THAKUR by his own example he showed how one should intensely practice sadhana, develop his own taste for holy name and then can give that taste to others also.
So, this place is also in that context important for preachers to prepare themselves. The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. It’s the slogan in the army. Sweating in peace means daily morning sadhana bhakti and bleeding in war means we do our sadhana when we are in war with maya. When you know how to respond to those provoking situations very nicely.
Also, in this Rudradwip is the presence of Sripad Shankaracharya, one of the great propounders of Advait Nath. He happened to come down to this place and it said that Shankaracharya because he was propagating mayawad on the order of the lord; so that he will separate enviest atheist to have disguised themselves as spiritualists and make a separate sampraday out of them. Mayawadis have a very dangerous philosophy that God and I are one and when Lord comes to this world, he is made up of maya. That time Nabadwip was very famous for its high seat of learning in India just like right now Oxford and Cambridge and all these universities.
Shankaracharya is the incarnation of Lord Shiva himself. He was ordered by the lord to purposefully preach a wrong philosophy. So, Shankaracharya when he came to this place he also wanted to preach mayawad in this place. But, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to him in a vision and told him that this place, I want to keep pure and I don’t want to contaminate it with your bogus philosophy. So, please keep yourself away and don’t try to preach your philosophy here. So, Shankaracharya left Nabadwip Dham without doing any preaching.
Of course, to his very intimate followers, he did tell
Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam,
Govindam Bhaja Mooda Mathe,
Samprapthe Sannihithe Kale,
Nahi Nahi Rakshathi Dookrunj Karane
He said, you fool why are you trying to adjust grammatically prefixes and suffixes to figure out some screwed up meaning from the scriptures. Just worship Lord Govinda. Don’t waste your time. So, in this way Shankaracharya stands as a Vaishnava (as a devotee) but having appeared with a garb of an atheist to spread Mayawad. So, he also came in this place called Rudradwip. Various other incarnations of Lord Shiva such as Durvasa, Dattatreya and Akarna, these personalities also appeared in this place and stayed here for some time. But their philosophy of Nirvana wanting to merge with God became unpalatable to them by the influence of Nabadwip Dham. They started feeling this is not so good to merge with Lord. Far better is to perform bhakti and maintain our individuality from the lord. Thus, they gave up their attempts of trying to become nirvana Vadis and they actually became devotees.
Later on, one time Bhakti Vinod Thakur in one of the literatures, he mentions – running in this place on the bank of Ganga was found one lady and when devotees asked who you are, she said -- My name is Saayujya Mukti. Merging into God is one type of devotion – Saayujya. So, there are 5 types of muktis (liberation) – Saayujya, Saalokya, Saameepya, Saaroopya and Kaivalya mukti. So, Saayujya was roaming around uncared for. So, when asked what you are doing in this place of Rudradwip, she said my 4 sisters have attained perfection of their lives. To me, nobody is giving any audience to. In fact my greatest propounders like Dattatreya and Shankaracharya, they have deserted me and so I am roaming around without any shelter. So, in this way this place is very powerful in terms of its influence in giving us the facility in defeating mayawad and establishing Vaishnava principles. There is only one enemy of Vaishnava – Mayawadis (those who say God and I are one). So, whenever we and they come across each other we can’t stand each other.
In fact in the descriptions of Vaishnava literatures, vishnukanchi, shivkanchi and those places in south India where Shankaracharya and others have their own mathas. There is a description that in shivkanchi where Mayawadis is preached, no Vaishnava would even go there to pass urine in that place. So, that is why this thought that one should become one with God, is considered most abominable by all Vaishnava Acharyas. So, we should pray for that here in Rudradwip. In this way, Rudradwip is most cherished places of Lord’s worships.
Tomorrow onwards, as we go to other dwipas, we shall learn more about them.
Then, there was a small question and answer session of which since, the questions were not clear kindly forgive me for not transcripting it. Well, by the end of this, we crossed toll and the buses were halted for Lunch prasadam which consists of Puri, Sabzi, Rice, and Dal, 2 sweets (Rasogulla and Khajha). It is a different experience in itself to have such a wonderful prasadam on the highway with so many devotees serving each other.
Again, after the break we started for Mayapur. Most of us relaxed and few like me were busy taking advantage of the association discussing our learning and experiences in this spiritual path. J the bus was stranded for a long time in traffic and so we reached Mayapur at 00:30 and by the time we all loaded our luggage in the rooms, it was 1 or 1:15 AM. Later we had dinner prasadam and so went to sleep by 2 AM.
Since, it was almost 2 AM, Kanai Thakur Prabhu announced that it was not compulsory for us to attend the morning Mangal aarti but how can we be in that place and dare miss a Mangal aarti? Most of us were there in the temple hall. :)