The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Jahnavi


Ganga Ma on Makara

Apr 22, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 64.

As previously mentioned, place names are often used interchangeably for the Jahnavi and Ganges rivers. While the Jahnavi is sometimes used to refer to the specific portion of the Ganges associated with Jahnu Muni (whose daughter is Jahnavi), it is often translated more broadly as being the Ganga or Ganges. For example, the holy Jahnavi's name appears in Sri Caitanyopanisad, in a sloka often quoted about the Appearance of Sri Krsna Chaitanya in Navadvipa. This text, excerpted from Atharva Veda by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, is translated by the Thakur as follows:

    Text 5

    sa hovaca
    rahasyam te vadisyami--jahnavi-tire navadvipe
    golokakhye dhamni govindo dvi-bhujo gaurah
    sarvatma maha-puruso mahatma maha-yogi
    tri-gunatitah sattva-rupo
    bhaktim loke kasyatiti
    tad ete sloka bhavanti


    sah-he; ha-certainly; uvaca-replied; rahasyam-a secret; te-to you; vadisyami-I shall speak; jahnavi-of the Ganges; tire-on the shore; navadvipe-at Navadvipa; goloka-akhye-known as Goloka Vrndavana; dhamni-in the transcendental abode; govindah-Lord Govinda; dvi-bhujah-with two arms; gaurah-and a golden complexion; sarva-atma-the Supersoul who resides in the hearts of all living entities; maha-purusah-the supreme enjoyer; maha-atma-the Supersoul; maha-yogi-in the form of a great devotee; tri-guna-atitah-beyond the jurisdiction of the three modes of material nature; sattva-rupah-whose form is spiritual; bhaktim-pure devotional service; loke-in this world; kasyati-manifests; iti-thus; tat-that; ete-these; s1okah-verses; bhavanti-are.


    "Lord Brahma replied: Listen carefully, for I shall give you a confidential description of what will happen in the Kali-yuga. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, the supreme enjoyer, whose form is transcendental, who is beyond the touch of the three modes of material nature, and who is the all-pervading Supersoul residing in the hearts of all living entities, will appear again in the Kali age. Appearing as the greatest devotee, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will assume a two-armed form of golden complexion in His abode of Goloka Vrndavana manifested on the bank of the Ganges at Navadvipa. He will disseminate pure devotional service in the world. This incarnation of the Lord is described in the following verses."

In another Vaisnava text dealing with Sri Chaitanya's Appearance, the Shri Krishna Chaitanya-carita Mahakavya by Srila Murari Gupta, the river is referred to in its personal embodiment:

    tatra punya-samaye manujanam / kirtana nara-hareh kta janaih
    pujana sapadi jahnavi-jale / snana-danam agha-marjana shucau

    tatra - then; punya-samaye - at the auspicious time; manujanam - of men; kirtanam - chanting of the names of Hari; nara-hareh - for Hari in His appearance like a human; ktam - done; janaih - by the people; pujanam - worship; sapadi - immediately; jahnavi-jale - in the waters of the Ganga; snana - bathing; danam - penance; agha - sin; marjanam - cleansing; shucau - in the pure.

    "At that auspicious time, all people performed kirtana of Narahari. With much eagerness they offered worship, took bath, distributed charity, and bathed, cleansing themselves from sin in holy waters of Jahnavi-Ma."

    Shri Krishna Chaitanya-carita Mahakavya, 1st Prakrama, 5th Sarga)

There are many wonderful glorifications of the Jahnavi River, and we will mention just a few.

In chapter two of Sri Bhakti Ratnakara by Srila Narahari Cakravarti Thakur, we find the story of a world-renowned scholar who visited Sri Navadvipa. In a pastime which took place on the banks of the Jahnavi, the pandit discussed with the Lord the glories of the Ganga:

    "By chance a world renowned scholar paid a visit to Navadvipa. He advertised himself as the representative of Sri Sarasvati devi by whose mercy he had become a great scholar. The professors of Navadvipa wee panic stricken and the people of Cakhandi became bewildered. At that time Lord Narayana, the husband of Sarasvati devi, lived in Navadvipa as Nimai Pandita and was teaching his pupils Vyakarana and other scriptures on the bank of the river Jahnavi. (237-242)

    The scholar had heard of the academic fame of Nimai Pandita but seeing that Nimai was merely a boy he did not consider him a competitor. Nevertheless he approached Nimai who requested him to explain the glory of the Ganga. The scholar easily and quickly cited many slokas of a superior quality and astonished the people who were listening. From the slokas Prabhu selected one and pointed out that the scholar had wrongly interpreted in three aspects. When the scholar could not give any satisfactory or correct interpretation of the verse he felt ashamed and acknowledged his own defeat. Nimai Prabhu behaved like a gentleman with the scholar. When the scholar learned the real identity of Nimai from Sarasvati devi, he submitted himself at the feet of the Lord. The scholars of Nadia were delighted to hear of Nimai Pandita's victory and the Lord's fame spread throughout the country." (243-253)

In the Garga Samhita's 'Sri Yamuna-sahasra-nama-kathana', the Jahnavi River is glorified as a friend of the Yamuna:

    svarnadi jahnavi vela
    vaisnavi maggalalaya
    bala visnu-padi prokta

    [The Yamuna]. . . is a friend of the Svarnadi river (svarnadi), is a friend of the Jahnavi river (jahnavi), is a friend of the Vela river (vela), is a friend of the Vaisnavi river (vaisnavi), is auspicious (maggalalaya), is youthful (bala), is a place where Lord Krsna places His feet (visnu-padi), is described in the scriptures (prokta), is a friend of the holy place Sindhu-sagara (sindhu-sagara-saggata) . . . "

    (Garga Samhita - 'A Thousand Names of Sri Yamuna', text 114)

In Hari-bhakti-vilasa, Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami refers to glorification of the holy river during Kartikka:

    Text 154
    yatha maghe prayagah syad
    vaisakhe jahnavi yatha
    karttike mathura sevya
    tatotkarshah paro na hi

    "As Prayaga should be served in the month of Magha (January-February), and as the Ganga' should be served in the month of Vaisakha (April-May), so Mathura should be served in the month of Karttika. Nothing is better than service to Mathura in Karttika."

    (Hari-bhakti-vilasa, Sixteenth Vilasa, Volume One)


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