The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Bharata-varsa


Bhu-mandala, Mount Meru
Inset from cover of 'Mysteries of the Sacred Universe' by Sadaputa das

Mar 18, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 30.

An earlier segment of this series included references to Bharata-varsha found in the Summary of Srimad Bhagavatam 5.19, entitled 'A Description of the Island of Jambudvipa'. Throughout the translations and Bhaktivedanta Purports of that chapter there is other important information about Bharata-varsha not covered in the Summary. For example, in text 9, Sukadeva Gosvami states:

    "The glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are inconceivable. He has appeared in the form of Nara-Narayana in the land of Bharata-varsa, at the place known as Badarikasrama, to favor His devotees by teaching them religion, knowledge, renunciation, spiritual power, sense control and freedom from false ego. He is advanced in the opulence of spiritual assets, and He engages in executing austerity until the end of this millennium. This is the process of self-realization." (SB 5.19.9)

In the next sloka we read that Bhagavan Narada instructed Savarni Muni in the knowledge contained in his Narada Pancaratra:

    "…in order to teach those inhabitants of Bharata-varsa who strictly follow the principles of varnasrama-dharma how to achieve the devotional service of the Lord. Thus Narada Muni, along with the other inhabitants of Bharata-varsa, always engages in the service of Nara-Narayana…" (SB 5.19.10)

In the purports to text 24 and 25, Srila Prabhupada explains the significance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Appearance in Bharata-varsha:

    "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the land of Bharata-varsa, specifically in Bengal, in the district of Nadia, where Navadvipa is situated. It is therefore to be concluded, as stated by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, that within this universe, this earth is the best planet, and on this planet the land of Bharata-varsa is the best; in the land of Bharatavarsa, Bengal is still better, in Bengal the district of Nadia is still better, and in Nadia the best place is Navadvipa because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared there to inaugurate the performance of the sacrifice of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra." (SB 5.19.24 P)

    "In the land of Bharata-varsa one can very easily perform the sankirtana-yajna, which consists of sravanam kirtanam visnoh, or one can perform other methods of devotional service, such as smaranam vandanam arcanam dasyam sakhyam and atma-nivedanam. In Bharata-varsa one has the opportunity to visit many holy places, especially Lord Caitanya's birthsite and Lord Krsna's birthsite--Navadvipa and Vrndavana--where there are many pure devotees who have no desire other than to execute devotional service (anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam), and one may thus become free from the bondage of material conditions. Other paths, such as the path of jnana and the path of karma, are not very profitable. Pious activities can elevate one to the higher planetary systems, and by speculative knowledge one can merge into the Brahman existence, but that is not real profit, for one has to come down again even from the liberated condition of being merged in Brahman, and certainly one must come down from the heavenly kingdom. One should endeavor to go back home, back to Godhead (yanti mad-yajino 'pi mam). Otherwise there is no difference between human life and the lives of jungle animals and birds. Animals and birds also have freedom, but because of their lower birth, they cannot use it. Taking advantage of all the facilities offered him, a human being who has taken birth in the land of Bharata-varsa should become a fully enlightened devotee and go back home, back to Godhead. This is the subject matter of the Krsna consciousness movement. The inhabitants of places other than Bharata-varsa have facilities for material enjoyment, but they do not have the same facility to take to Krsna consciousness. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has advised that one who has taken birth as a human being in Bharata-varsa must first realize himself as a part and parcel of Krsna, and after taking to Krsna consciousness, he must distribute this knowledge all over the world." (SB 5.19.25 P)

This message was also emphasized by His Divine Grace during an interview with interview with Professor O'Connell, June 18, 1976 in Toronto:

    "That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission, bharata-bhumite manusya-janma haila yara janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara. These things are unknown in the Western countries. So anyone who has taken birth in India, Bharata-varsa, they should make his..., one should make his life perfect by assimilating all these sastras and preach the resultant action to the outsiders. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission--prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama. So you Indians, you are here, you assimilate the teachings of Gita, Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and Caitanya-caritamrta, and help these people. That is India's business."

The failure of modern residents of Bharata-varsha to do as Lord Chaitanya instructed is also mentioned by Srila Prabhupada, in this room conversation of November 10, 1971 in Delhi:

    "Other countries all they have got high respect for India as spiritual land. But we are killing, our present government and so-called leaders, killing that state. This is regrettable. They could hold this Bharata-varsa to the topmost summit all over the India if after independence they would have organizedly preached Bhagavad-gita and the Vedic culture. That is my mission. Now whatever you may think of Bharata-varsa, outside, India is known as a poor, poorest country, because our ministers go there to beg."

Finally, we end our survey of Bharata-varsa with a most interesting discussion between the devotees and Srila Prabhupada on the subject of how Bhu-mandala is to be represented in the Vedic planetarium. Srila Prabhupada underscores the fact that regardless of how complex the geophysical realities of Bhu-mandala, Jambudvipa and Bharata-varsa may be, sastra delivers the absolute truth on the matter -- and the pure devotee, His Divine Grace, has delivered precisely that to his neophyte followers.

    Discussion about Bhu-mandala - July 5, 1977, Vrndavana

    Prabhupada: "Lotus is also round. Lotus, that petal is also round. Lotus petal is round. So within one lotus petal this round or that round, there is.

    Satadhanya: And within their own limited sphere they can go this way or that way. But they don't know the whole shape.

    Tamala Krsna: We have to draw the shape probably, because according to what we've drawn so far...

    Prabhupada: That you can do, but real thing is we can remain within the limit.

    Tamala Krsna: That we accept.

    Prabhupada: So within the limit...Suppose the lotus petal this way, that way, or this way...

    Tamala Krsna: You're asking us to draw the details and make a planetarium very exact.

    Prabhupada: Yes. Lotus petal, it is round. So in one lotus petal you are conditioned. You cannot go.

    Tamala Krsna: So far that hasn't been said, but that's... You can say that Bharata-varsa is a petal of the lotus. But I think if you look at the Bhagavatam, it may... I'd have to see it, what it says. There's a statement that it may be the inner portion of the lotus. I don't know...(break) And what we do, it has to agree with the Bhagavatam.

    Prabhupada: Lotus petal... There are so many petals. You are conditioned with one petal.

    Tamala Krsna: That's... If that's the explanation, then it can be somehow adjusted.

    Prabhupada: You do not know what is going on outside.

    Devotee: There's so many round parts of a lotus petal.

    Tamala Krsna: Yes, that part...That could be adjusted. But there's a place within it, you know, the center part, there's no petals. In the middle of the lotus there's like a... I don't know what you call it, but a... It's a flattish area. They show Krsna standing sometimes when they draw a picture of Krsna on a lotus.

    Prabhupada: That's all right. But your place is in.

    Tamala Krsna: That we accept.

    Prabhupada: That we have to hear from authority.

    Tamala Krsna: We accept that. I'm just thinking...

    Prabhupada: Unless you are obstinate, you have to accept if you are convinced.

    Tamala Krsna: We accept.

    Prabhupada: There are so many millions of stars and moons that we cannot go.

    Tamala Krsna: As we are conditioned, as everyone is conditioned, our planetarium will have to show the actual facts.

    Prabhupada: Yes. That fact we have learned from Bhagavatam.

    Tamala Krsna: So, so far we have not drawn this fact correctly.

    Prabhupada: That is your inability. That is another thing.

    Tamala Krsna: Yeah, well that's why we're... That's the question that we've raised. This question that we've raised is due to that.

    Prabhupada: That is you are unable to, but the fact is that you are conditioned. You cannot go beyond that conditioned

    Tamala Krsna: That's accepted.

    Prabhupada: So we are also conditioned. But as far as possible we take description from Bhagavata, try to. That is our... Suppose here is India, here is Los Angeles. You start from India, Los Angeles..., or India, you'll come to Los Angeles. And again return to India. Similarly you start from this again going.

    Tamala Krsna: Yes. That's possible if you can fly this way, underneath.

    Prabhupada: But where is the underneath?

    Tamala Krsna: See Prabhupada, we weren't asking that issue. That's not the question we were asking.

    Prabhupada: What is that issue?

    Tamala Krsna: Well, you've explained, if it's a lotus petal, then you can fly around it. That's all right. Then the answer is there. But if there's no lotus petal and it's simply flat, then it's a problem. That a problem.

    Prabhupada: No, we don't say flat.

    Tamala Krsna: We've pictured it like that. There's some defect in our picture. If you recall, there's a picture we drew...

    Prabhupada: So rectify it.

    Tamala Krsna: Yeah, well how?

    Prabhupada: That is the explanation. Petal.

    Tamala Krsna: See it doesn't say petal anywhere in the Bhagavatam. It doesn't say Bharata-varsa is a lotus petal.

    Upendra: Neither does it say it's flat, though.

    Tamala Krsna: Well I can get the Bhagavatam right now if you allow me to. It doesn't say... I believe it says Jambudvipa is the second part of the lotus, and there aren't petals in the center.

    Upendra: It's a transcendental lotus flower.

    Prabhupada: You are prejudiced. That's all. If I can understand, why don't you understand? You are prejudiced.

    Tamala Krsna: Well I can understand if I accept it as... I'm only trying to think as the persons who are going to make this planetarium.

    Prabhupada: You are Western. You are prejudiced. That is reason. If I can understand why you...

    Tamala Krsna: I can understand blindly, but I don't want to do that.

    Prabhupada: I do not understand blindly.

    Tamala Krsna: No.

    Prabhupada: Then.

    Tamala Krsna: But I don't want to...

    Prabhupada: Still we differ. That means one of us is prejudiced.

    Tamala Krsna: Well it's not Your Divine Grace. (laughter) I mean I'm sorry I have to take this thankless task to ask all these questions.

    Prabhupada: You are also prejudiced. It is written in the sastra. In that sense we are also prejudiced.

    Tamala Krsna: Yeah, but we're correctly prejudiced.

    Prabhupada: Just like I take Krsna's word. Bas, fact. You can say that you are prejudiced, you see. This is the book.

    Tamala Krsna: That is a nice explanation, the petals.

    Prabhupada: Everyone is prejudiced. But who is rightly prejudiced who is wrongly prejudiced. That is everywhere. Just like materialistic person will think, "Brainwash. These rascals, they have given all up material enjoyment, and after some phantasmagoria they sacrifice everything. Brainwash." And we are thinking, "Oh, these rascals, got this human form of body, he did not understand what is spiritual life." Both of them--he is rascal and he is rascal. This is going on. Ya nisa sarva-bhutanam tasyam jagarti samyami. Is it not? They say, "Brainwash. Unnecessarily they've sacrificed everything." And we say that he got the human form and unnecessarily he is working like cats and...

    Tamala Krsna: Both are saying the same thing. Obvious.

    Prabhupada: Yes. Now who is correct? Who will decide? I accuse you, you accuse me. But who is correct? Who will decide? That is sastra. There is no question of argument. That is called pratistha. You will never come to any conclusion by arguing. I think you are wrong, you think I am wrong. Somebody must decide. Judge. And that is sastra."

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


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