On the first day of Sri Dhama parikrama, the pilgrims took darsana of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s place of bhajana in Godrumadvipa, Suvarna-vihara, Nrsimhapalli, Harihara-ksetra, Hamsavahana and other places. On the second day, they visited Samudragadha, Champaka-hatta, Vidyanagara and Modadrumadvipa and then returned to the matha. On the fourth day they completed parikrama of Praudhamaya, Sri Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja’s samadhi and Rudradvipa. That day, a special assembly was arranged for the evening. Srila Acaryadeva was selected as chairman, and pandita-pravara (the best of scholars) Sriyuta Gopendra Bhusana Sankhya-tirtha Mahodaya was selected as chief guest. Upon Srila Gurudeva’s request, tridandi-svami Bhakti Desika Acarya Maharaja opened the assembly with an attractive lecture in Sanskrit, using sastric evidences to show that Sriman Mahaprabhu is Svayam Bhagavan, the original Personality of Godhead. Pandita-pravara Sriyuta Nityananda Panca-tirtha Mahodaya also spoke in Sanskrit, glorifying the greatness of sadhu-sanga. The honourable chief guest Sankhya-tirtha Mahodaya said that Sri Kesava Maharajaji had in fact fully established Koladvipa by installing the deity of Sri Koladeva: “Today, the memory of ancient Koladeva has awakened in my heart.” He then praised and glorified Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada.
On the fifth day of parikrama, the pilgrims had darsana at Sri Isodyana in Antardvipa, Sri Yogapitha – Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s appearance place, Sri Caitanya Matha, the samadhis of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gaura-kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, Chand Kazi’s samadhi, Simantadvipa (Simuliya Grama) and other places. Maha-prasada was served at noon at Sri Jayadeva-pata and the parikrama party then returned to Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha. Tridandi-svami Sri Bhakti Sarvasva Giri Maharaja was the chairman of the religious assembly that evening, and tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Vicara Yayavara Maharaja, tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Jivana Janardana Maharaja and tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Varidhi Puri Maharaja gave lectures. At the end of the program, tridandi-svami Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja [the author] gave a beautiful lecture in Hindi.
The sixth day of the parikrama was the appearance day of Sri Gaurasundara. The devotees fasted, Sri Caitanya-bhagavata was read in full, and sravana-kirtana was joyfully performed. In the evening, after celebrating Sri Gaura’s appearance, tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Jivana Janardana Maharaja chaired the assembly. Tridandi-svami Srimad Bhaktivedanta Vamana Maharaja, tridandi-svami Srimad Bhaktivedanta Trivikrama Maharaja, tridandi-svami Srimad Bhaktivedanta Suddhadvaiti Maharaja and other sannyasis lectured on the distinctive characteristics of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s great contribution.
At noon on the seventh day, yajna-homa and other rituals were performed for those who had accepted diksa, sannyasa and babaji-vesa. After that, wonderful maha-prasada was served to twenty or twenty-five thousand invited and uninvited faithful guests.
Srila Acaryadeva was chairman of the religious assembly that evening. First of all were lectures by those who had accepted sannyasa and babaji-vesa the previous day, namely tridandi-svami Srimad Bhaktivedanta Urddhvamanthi Maharaja, tridandi-svami Srimad Bhaktivedanta Raddhanti Maharaja and Srimad Raghunatha dasa Babaji Maharaja. After that, Sri Rasika-mohana Vrajavasi, pandita Nimai Carana Vyakarana-tirtha spoke, and Sri Haridasa Vrajavasi gave a lecture in Hindi. Finally, the main guest, Srila Prabhupada’s accomplished sannyasi tridandi-svami Srimad Bhakti Prakasa Aranya Maharaja delivered an attractive discourse. In this way, the sublimely joyful, week-long celebration of Sri Navadvipa-dhama parikrama and Sri Gaura-janmotsava took place smoothly and was concluded successfully.
Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha
Our supremely worshipful Sri Acarya Kesari established Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti (Sri Devananda Gaudiya Matha) in Kuliya-nagara (present day Navadvipa town) to nourish the service of the innermost desires of his gurupada-padma, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. Today, inside the vast boundary wall of the temple grounds, there is a divine temple with nine huge domes. Srila Gurudeva’s construction of this matha-mandira was meticulous and based on philosophical conclusions. Below is a short description of the matha.
Sri Narahari Torana
We enter the courtyard of the matha via the main entrance gate, Sri Narahari Torana. The words param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam and kirtaniya sada harih are carved over this gate. Here Srila Gurudeva is waving the victory flag of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s ultimate instruction in His Siksastaka, namely, to perform sri nama-sankirtana. Chanting sri harinama has been declared as the life of sadhana-bhajana. In order to enter into the divine temple of bhakti, one should first sing the glory of sri dhama (tad-rupa vaibhava) and the worshipful deity. Also on the gate is a glorification [of Navadvipa] spoken by Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura (Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, Madhya-khanda 5.1), who is the Vyasadeva of sri caitanya-lila: “jaya navadvipa-nava-pradipa-prabhavah pasanda-gajaika-simhah – All glories to the new light of Navadvipa, who is just like a lion, unparalleled in subduing the elephants of heresy and atheism.” We may mention in this context that one of Srila Acaryadeva’s intimate godbrothers, Sri Bhakti Saranga Gosvami Maharaja, gave him the title pasanda-gajaika-simha, ‘the lion who defeats the elephants of heresy and atheism’.
The name Sri Narahari Torana, as given by Srila Gurudeva, refers both to the tattva of asraya or seva-vigraha (Sri Narahari Brahmacari, who is the personification of service) and to visaya or sevya-vigraha (Sri Nrsimhadeva, who is the object of service).
Above this arched gateway on each side are two very powerful lions on the heads of two mad elephants. The mad elephants signify offences to the Vaisnavas (vaisnava-aparadha). Sri Jagai and Sri Madhai stand on each side below as doorkeepers, and on the inside of the gateway are Sri Devananda Pandita and Sri Vasudeva Vipra, who proclaim the glory of Kuliya Aparadha-bhanjana-pata, the place where offences are nullified. Sri Devananda Pandita had committed an offence to the lotus feet of Srivasa Pandita, but later repented by the mercy of Pundarika Vidyanidhi. He begged for forgiveness at Srivasa Pandita’s feet, whereupon Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also forgave him. By the mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, such extremely wicked and godless persons as Jagai and Madhai also became great devotees. Vasudeva Vipra obtained darsana of Sri Gaurasundara here by the mercy of Dhamesvara Sri Koladeva.
Sri Matha consisting of 7 sections
Amongst the nine islands (dvipas) of Sri Navadvipa-dhama, Sri Koladvipa, which is situated on the west bank of the Ganga, is very important. According to Sri Bhakti-ratnakara and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Sri Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya (Parikrama-khanda) and Navadvipa-bhava-taranga, the twelve forests of Vrndavana are situated in a somewhat different order on Sri Navadvipa’s nine islands. This Koladvipa is said to be Giriraja Govardhana himself, and rasika bhaktas take darsana of the banks of the nearby Bhagirathi as the place of rasa-lila (the rasa-sthali) on the banks of the Yamuna. Adjacent to this rasa-sthali and to the south is Rtudvipa, which is non-different from Radha-kunda and Syama-kunda. Bahulavana is situated to the north. Our supremely worshipful Srila Gurudeva, the crest jewel of the community of acaryas, established this matha here only after considering everything written in the sastras about this place.
When we enter the courtyard of the matha through Sri Narahari Torana, we have darsana of sri matha, enclosed within the vast boundary walls. Srila Gurudeva divided this matha into seven sections (khandas) and named them according to philosophical conclusions.
- Paramartha-khanda – In this section, which is the location of the printing press, etc., the Vedas, Upanisads, Gita, Bhagavatam and other bhakti texts are published. These bhakti scriptures are the literary incarnation of Bhagavan. Bhagavad-bhakti is preached all over the world through the medium of these books, and for this reason Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati called the printing press the brhad-mrdanga. He also said that the tridandi-sannyasis preaching suddha-bhakti are the living (jivanta) mrdanga and they preach Sriman Mahaprabhu’s message of pure prema-dharma at home and abroad, according to their ability. This is why our worshipful master, om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, displayed special enthusiasm for preaching and publishing Vaikuntha Vartavaha, Sri Gaudiya-patrika and Sri Bhagavata-patrika, as well as the original literature of sri bhakti-siddhanta-vani, instructions on the conclusions of pure devotional service, such as Vedanta, Bhagavatam and the writings of the Gosvamis, with the help of brhad-mrdanga and jivanta-mrdanga. With this intention he also established Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Catuspathi and Sri Gaudiya Charitable Dispensary.
- Kirtana-khanda – In sri natya-mandira, the temple room, hari-sankirtana and kirtana of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and other literatures are always going on. Great personalities give classes and speeches in the large religious assemblies held here.
- Upasya-khanda – Srila Acaryadeva has named the temple building, crowned with nine distinctive domes, navadha-bhakti-mandira. The names of these nine domes are respectively sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, pada-sevanam, arcanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam, and the highest centre dome, atma-nivedanam. On the top of this dome, in the middle of the Sudarsana cakra, is a flute which proclaims to all the inhabitants of the world, kirtaniyah sada harih – constantly chant the holy name of Sri Hari. The profound meaning is that the inhabitants of the world should assemble in sri hari-kirtana-mandira for sri nama-sankirtana-yajna, which is comprised of seven tongues. “Agacchantu mahabhaga nitya kirtana-mandire – Welcome; you are very fortunate to come to the kirtana-mandira.”
On every dome is the Sri Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya vaisnava-tilaka, which attracts the faith of travellers, directing it towards pure Gaudiya Vaisnavism, even from far away. The original founders of the four bona fide sampradayas – Sri Laksmi, Sri Brahma, Sri Rudra and Sri Catuhsana – are situated inside the four domes of the first floor. Near them, the four acaryas of those sampradayas are seated and duly worshipped, namely, Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhvacarya, Sri Visnusvami and Sri Nimbaditya. They thus instruct people who are serious about sadhana-bhajana that it is absolutely necessary to accept a bona fide sampradaya.
On the four walls of the first floor of the temple are pictures of the ten incarnations (dasavataras). These ten incarnations of Bhagavan correspond to the gradual development of consciousness and indicate the progressive development of theistic philosophy. In the eastern portion of the first floor, the vidhi-marga and raga-marga, or pancaratrika and bhagavatiya sadhana-marga, have been exhibited in accordance with the instructions of the Gaudiya guru-varga. In the eastern area of the second floor, the Surabhi cow and Indradeva beg for forgiveness at Sri Govinda’s lotus feet. Along with this is the destroyer of all obstacles, Sri Nrsimhadeva, whose killing of Hiranyakasipu declares victory over demonic people and proclaims the glory of Aparadha-bhanjana-pata, the place which destroys all offences.
Srila Gurudeva exhibited his ideal of ekantika-nistha, single-pointed unflinching faith, in his guru-seva by installing jagad-guru Srila Sarasvati Prabhupada’s murti and arranging for his daily worship. He has written, “I have installed my gurupada-padma, Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada, in sri mandira of this matha. We see many so-called paramahamsas in the world today, but upon consideration, we find that they are not equal to a fragment of this mahapurusa, or even to those who have obtained only a particle of dust from his lotus feet. Still, these so-called paramahamsas are being honoured by worldly people who are devoid of knowledge of the Truth. Many people call Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada the crest jewel of the community of paramahamsas. I do not object to this, but my personal statement is that he is the master or lord of the community of paramahamsas. He is empowered to give instructions even to them. For this reason he is called jagad-guru.
“This mahapurusa, who is radha-paksi (partial towards Radha), is famous in England, Germany and all other countries as Srila Prabhupada. Here, first of all, we perform his arati. There is an absolute necessity in this world to worship and serve this mahapurusa. If the worship of him is stopped, bhakti-dharma will disappear from this world. It will thus be destroyed and go to Rasatala, the lowest hellish region. For this reason the people of this world address him as Prabhupada.”
In the first chamber, Koladeva (Lord Varaha) is installed. Since Satya-yuga He has been bestowing His mercy on devotees such as His exclusive devotee Sri Vasudeva Vipra. The glories of Koladvipa are announced by daily worship of Him and service to Him, in the temple. The name Kuliya has originated from the word kola, as in Koladeva. Places such as Kuliyadaha, Kolerganja, Koler Amad, Gada Khalira Kol, Tegharir Kol and Kuliya-nagara (present Navadvipa town) are all part of ancient Kuliya. This place is also called Kuliya-pahadapura, because this land is high like a pahada, or mountain. In Satya-yuga Srila Varahadeva gave darsana to His great devotee Sri Vasudeva Vipra and said that in the coming Kali-yuga He would accept the bodily lustre and internal mood of Srimati Radhika, and in this very place would manifest His greatly munificent pastimes as Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. To attain the mercy of this Koladvipa, which is the island of pada-sevanam and non-different from Giriraja Govardhana, it is essential to pray first of all for the mercy of Dhamesvara (Koladeva). Only by His mercy can one achieve the qualification to enter into the munificent pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
In the second chamber, Sri Gaura-Radha-Vinoda-bihariji are installed. Here the supremely wonderful and mysterious white lustre of Sri Vinoda-bihariji, who is absorbed in thinking of Sri Radha, eludes even the bhajana secrets of the bhajananandis’. Srila Acaryadeva has personally explained it: “Sriman Mahaprabhu is Himself Radha-Krsna Yugala, and Sri Radha-Krsna are worshipped by sri gaura-mantra. People may ask why the three deities in this temple – Sri Krsna, Srimati Radharani and Sri Gaurasundara – are all white in colour. The answer is that They are not white, but rather have the golden lustre of Srimati Radhaji. By accepting Srimati Radhika’s bodily lustre, Sri Krsna has taken on a golden (gaura) complexion. The bodily lustre of Sri Gaurasundara is as fair as pure gold, which is why these three have the same complexion. Here we must understand that the apparently white complexion is actually gaura (golden). Why did Sri Krsna take on Sri Radha’s gaura complexion? The answer is that we are radha-paksi, partial towards Sri Radha. By nature, Srimati Radhika’s mood towards Sri Krsna is contrary (vamya-bhava), but is only so to increase the ever-fresh variety of service to Him. Once, Srimatiji became angry with Krsna and exhibited mana, Her indignant contrariness. At that time, Krsna became so absorbed in meditating on Her that His syama complexion changed and became like Hers.
a yasya kantir vilopita
“We refer to this deep mystery in the first verse of Sri Radha-Vinoda-bihari-tattvastakam. The word radhalingita has two meanings: (1) radhaya lingita and (2) radhaya alingita.
“The word lingita means ‘having the appearance of’. Sri Krsna lost His own complexion and assumed Srimati Radhika’s due to being very absorbed in thinking of Her in separation. This is the deep meaning of radhalingita-vigraha. It is this deity that has been brought to light here. The meaning of this deep tattva has been illuminated by the crest jewel of rasika Vaisnavas, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, in his Sri Svapna-vilasamrta. And this fundamental truth has manifested to the world by my srila gurupada-padma, Srila Prabhupada, having come from the core of his heart.
“The second meaning of radhalingita is radhaya alingita, or ‘embraced by Radha’. The confidential meaning of this has been spoken by Sri Raya Ramananda to Sriman Mahaprabhu on the banks of the Godavari:
pahile dekhilun tomara sannyasi-svarupa
ebe toma dekhi muni syama-gopa-rupa
tomara sammukhe dekhi kancana-pancalika
tanra gaura-kantye tomara sarva anga dhaka
tabe hasi’ tanre prabhu dekhaila svarupa
rasa-raja’, ‘mahabhava’—dui eka rupa
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 8.268, 269, 282)
Sri Raya Ramananda asked Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, “At first I saw Your form as a sannyasi, and now I am seeing Your dark-complexioned form as a cowherd boy (Sri Syamasundara). At the same time I am seeing a golden-complexioned devi in front of You, whose golden lustre fully covers Your dark lustre.” … Upon hearing this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu laughed and gave darsana of Krsna in His distinctive golden complexion as Rasaraja-mahabhava combined. Sri Raya Ramananda fainted in bliss when he saw this unprecedented sweet form.
“So this is another explanation of the deep mystery of Sri Krsna’s golden complexion. Krsna’s syama complexion has been completely covered by Srimati Radhika’s embrace, and He is manifesting Her bodily brilliance.
“Among people who serve on the path of the most advanced vipralambha-bhajana (meditation in a mood of separation), nearly all remember (perform smarana of ) Srimati Radhika’s feelings of separation from Sri Krsna. However, our sri gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada, is a sakhi of Srimati Radhika, and therefore he used to remember the moods of separation that Sri Krsna experienced in regard to Srimati Radhika. My gurudeva was partial towards Sri Radha, so he was more inclined to see Sri Krsna experience separation from Srimati Radhika, rather than the other way around. Srimati Radhika is grief-stricken in separation from Krsna – this is the perfection of vipralambha-bhava prayed for by ordinary sadhakas. However, Srila Prabhupada’s viewpoint is completely the opposite. When Sri Krsna was completely engrossed in the mood of Srimati Radhika, He lost His syama complexion and manifested as radhalingita-vigraha. In other words, He attained the colour of Srimati Radhika. Sriman Mahaprabhu preached this very vipralambha-rasa and gave instructions on it. Sri Krsna is anxious for Sri Radharani – this is the ideal of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti.”
- Sevaka-khanda – The place where all the sevakas of Sri Sri Gaurasundara and Sri Sri Radha-Vinoda-bihariji live, perform service and take rest has been called sevaka-khanda. This section has also been separated into two parts: (a) the bhajana-kuti of Srila Gurupada-padma, and (b) the living quarters, or bhajana-kutis, of Srila Gurudeva’s sevakas. Among these rooms are the kutis of Srila Gurudeva’s sannyasis and brahmacaris.
- Bhoga-khanda – The storage room and the kitchen are called the bhoga-khanda. This section, adjacent to Srila Gurudeva’s bhajana-kutira, is also divided into two: (a) the kitchen for the daily cooking, and (b) the kitchen for Navadvipa-dhama parikrama and other special festivals. This large kitchen has permanently fixed massive stoves, on which gigantic pots are placed for cooking sixteen to twenty maunds (one maund equals about forty kilograms) of rice or forty maunds of sabji, at one time. About twenty very able-bodied cooks prepare the bhoga for Thakuraji. Between fifteen and twenty thousand pilgrims all sit together in the huge courtyard of the matha to honour prasada. The serving of maha-prasada at that time is a wonderful sight, unseen anywhere else in the world.
- Govardhana-khanda – The place where the cows live is known as the gosala or govardhana-khanda. The cows here are very beautiful. Yoghurt, ghee, khira, paramanna, etc., are made from their milk and offered to Thakuraji.
- Jnana-khanda – The lavatory for the residents and the pilgrims is called jnana-khanda, the section about knowledge. The principal limb of saranagati is to give up objects and moods that are unfavourable for bhakti. Nirvisesa-jnana and activities that are not performed for Bhagavan are opposed to bhakti. For this reason Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.14.43) instructs us to give up such knowledge and activities, just as one gives up stool after passing:
yo dustyajan dara-sutan
suhrd rajyam hrdi-sprsah
jahau yuvaiva malavad
Maharaja Bharata entered the forest to perform bhajana, leaving his wife, son, relatives, friends and kingdom, just as one gives up stool after evacuating.
In Sri Prema-bhakti-candrika (8.8) it is also said: “karma-kanda jnana-kanda kevala visera bhanda – Both karma-kanda (fruitive activities) and jnana-kanda (mental speculations) are like pots of poison. Knowing these two to be opposed to bhakti, devotees of Bhagavan abandon them like stool.”
Also, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 22.87) tells us:
asat-sanga-tyaga,—ei vaisnava-acara ‘stri-sangi’—eka asadhu, ‘krsnabhakta’ ara
Giving up bad association (asat-sanga) is a primary aspect of Vaisnava conduct. Bad association is of two types: (a) persons who have illicit association with women, or who associate with such people and who are materially attached to them, and (b) non-devotees who are intent on knowledge of the formless aspect of the Absolute (nirvisesa-jnana). Sadhakas striving for bhakti should carefully reject these two types of bad association.
Of these seven sections of the matha, the first six are favourable to bhakti and are to be respected, because they are directly the svarupa of bhakti. The seventh section signifies nirvisesa-jnana and is to be rejected because it is opposed to bhakti. Srila Gurupada-padma has divided sri matha into these seven sections and named them in this way in accordance with the viewpoint of this bhakti-siddhanta.