The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Madhyadvipa
BY: SUN STAFF
The Seven Rishis
May 10, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 82.
Following Koladvipa, the next holy place listed in Jaiva Dharma's 'Glossary of Places' is Kuliya. As noted in the first segment on Koladvipa,
the most detailed narrative we find in Jaiva Dharma on Koladvipa is in chapter eleven, and this passage focuses primarily on the village of Kuliya Pahara-pura, or Kuliya in Koladvipa. In the Glossary, Srila Bhaktivinoda highlights the following aspects of Kuliya:
"Kuliya - also known as Kuliya-grama and Kuliya Paharpura. It is situated in Koladvipa on the West bank of the Bhagirathi. The present day city of Navadvipa was formerly known as Kuliya-grama. Sri Madhava dasa Cattopadhyaya (Chakauri Cattopadhyaya) lived in this village. He was the father of Srila Vamsivadanananda Thakura. This place is also called aparadha-bhanjana-pata, the place where offenses are destroyed. When Sriman Mahaprabhu came to Kuliya on the way from Puri to Vrndavana, He stayed at the house of Madhava dasa for seven days. During that time, He delivered two great offenders, Gopala Cakravarti and Devananda Pandita, as well as many others who came to see Him."
Since Kuliya has already been covered, today we begin with the next place in the list: Madhyadvipa. About this sacred place Srila Bhaktivinoda writes in the Glossary:
"Madhyadvipa - one of the nine divisions of Navadvipa situated on the east side of the Bhagirathi. It is bordered by Koladvipa on the west side and by Godrumadvipa on the north and east sides. It was here that in Satya-yuga, the seven rsis (Bhrgu, Marici, Atri, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, and Vasistha) worshiped Gauranga with austerities and prayers on the order of their father, Brahma. Being pleased with their prayers, Sri Gauranga appeared before the rsis at mid-day (madhyahna). This place is thus known as Madhyadvipa. Madhyadvipa embodies the devotional activity of smaranam, remembering sri-hari-nama, His form, qualities, and pastimes."
The first mention of Madhyadvipa in Jaiva Dharma is found in chapter three, which focuses on two main characters -- Prema Das Babaji and his saintly sannyasi student -- and the local Vaisnavas, some of whom resided in Madhyadvipa.
"Sitting in his cottage of madhavi vines, the saintly babaji was chanting the holy names of Lord Hari again and again. Seeing that the saintly sannyasi had completely changed his garments and was chanting the holy names with spiritual love, the babaji again and again bathed his disciple with the tears flowing from his eyes. Embracing him, the babaji said, "O Vaisnava dasa, by today touching your perfectly auspicious body, my life is now a great success."
When he heard these words, the saintly sannyasi at once threw far away his previous name. Now he accepted the name Vaisnava dasa. From that day on the saintly sannyasi began a new life. He threw far away his mayavadi-sannyasi garments and arrogant sannyasi name. In the afternoon many residents of Sri Pradyumna-kunja, Sri Godruma and Sri Madhyadvipa came to see the saintly paramahamsa babaji. They all sat in a circle around the saintly paramahamsa babaji. They all chanted the holy names of Lord Hari on tulasi beads. Some chanted "O Gauranga-Nityananda", others chanted "O Advaita, husband of Sita!", others chanted "Glory to the son of Saci!" Chanting again and again, their eyes became filled with tears. All the Vaisnavas conversed about spiritual matters. All the assembled Vaisnavas circumambulated the tulasi plant and offered dandavat obeisances to the assembled Vaisnavas. Then Vaisnava dasa circumambulated the tulasi plant and then he rolled about in the dust that had touched the Vaisnavas' feet. The saintly Vaisnavas said, "This is not the same sannyasi. Now his form is wonderful."
Later, in chapter twelve, Madhyadvipa is mentioned again as being home to some of the pandits who came to be very frustrated by the skills Vrajanatha Bhattacarya displayed in debating philosophy:
"Sri Navadvipa-mandala is the best of all holy places in the world. It is a thirty-two mile eight petal lotus flower. The whorl of that lotus flower is Sri Antardvipa. In the centre of Antardvipa is Sri Mayapura. To the north of Sri Mayapura is Sri Simantadvipa. In Simantadvipa is a temple of Sri Sinmanta-devi. To the north of that temple is Bilva-puskarini, and to the south is Brahmana-puskarini. The region that contains Bilva-puskarini and the Brahmana-puskarini is called Sumuliya by the people in general. Therefore the village of Sumuliya-grama is in the northern part of Sri Navadvipa. At the time of Sri Mahaprabhu this place was the home of many, many panditas. This village was the home of Saci-devi's father, Sri Nilambara Cakravarti. Not far from his house lived a vaidika brahmana named Vrajanatha Bhattacarya. By studying in a school at Bilva-puskarini, in a few days he had attained great learning in nyaya-sastra, learning that was like a shoreless ocean. All the famous panditas of Bilva-puskarini, Brahmana-puskarini, Mayapura, Godruma, Madhyadvipa, Amraghatta, Samudragar, Kuliya and many other places also were embarrassed and frustrated by Vrajanatha's skill in newer and newer logical arguments. In the assemblies where the panditas were invited, Vrajanatha Pancanana became like a lion attacking a herd of elephants. Raising newer and newer arguments, he made the panditas burn with anger. Of these panditas a very hard-hearted logician decided to kill Pancanana by casting a spell from the Tantras. Day after day he stayed in the cremation ground of Rudradvipa and chanted mantras to kill his foe."
The last significant mention of Madhyadvipa is found in chapter fourteen, where it is described as being one of the eight islands of Navadvipa-dham:
"Vrajanatha: What is the size of Navadvipa-dhama?
Babaji: The circumference of Sri Navadvipa is sixteen krosas (32 miles). The holy abode of Navadvipa is an eight-petal lotus flower. Eight of the dvipas form the eight petals, and the island in the middle is the whorl of the lotus. The eight islands that are petals of the lotus are: Simantadvipa, Godrumadvipa, Madhyadvipa, Koladvipa, Rtudvipa, Jahndvipa, Modadrumadvipa and Rudradvipa. The whorl in the middle of the lotus is Antardvipa. In the middle of Antardvipa is Sri Mayapura. A soul who performs sadhana-bhakti (devotional service in practice) in Navadvipa-dhama, or especially in Sri Mayapura, quickly attains the perfection of prema (pure love of God). In the centre of Sri Navadvipa is the very holy place of Sri Jaganatha Misra's home. The most fortunate devotees are able to see Lord Gaurangadeva enjoying His eternal pastimes in this holy place."
(Madhyadvipa, to be continued…)
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