The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Nandagram
BY: SUN STAFF
Krishna, Balarama and Gopas on the banks of the Yamuna, Mathura
Jaipur, Rajasthan, c. 1850
May 30, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 102.
Next on the Jaiva Dharma 'Glossary of Places' is Nandagram, which Srila Bhaktivinoda describes as follows:
"Nandagrama - the village of Nanda Maharaja, the father of Sri Krsna. It is situated about sixty kilometers northwest of Mathura. Nanda Maharaja and his community lived there before Krsna's appearance. Prior to Krsna's appearance, they moved to Gokula. When Krsna was seven years old, the family moved back to this place and built their house on top of a large hill known as Nandisvara-parvata (Lord Sivaji, the Lord of Nandi, in the form of this hill). Krsna lived there from the age of seven until He was ten."
Only one mention of Nandagrama is found in Jaiva Dharma, at the very start of chapter one, in which Srila Bhaktivinoda introduces our main character, Prema-dasa Babaji:
"Aware that Sri Godruma is not different from Sri Nanda-grama in Vrndavana, Sri Prema-dasa Babaji, who was learned in all the scriptures, also took shelter in that holy place. Every day he chanted Lord Hari's holy names two hundred thousand times. Every day he offered hundreds and hundreds of dandavat obeisances to all the Vaisnavas. He maintained his life by madhukari begging at the homes of the cowherd people there. He strictly followed the rules of a saintly life."
On the timeline of His Vrindavan-lila, Sri Krsna's pastimes in Nandagrama took place from age 7 to 10:
"Lord Krsna appeared in this world at midnight of Sravana k8 (July 19/20), in the year 3228 BC, born of Srimati Devaki. He was taken by Vasudeva from Mathura and put into the care of Father Nanda and Mother Yasoda in Gokula. While living in Gokula, He became famous even before turning four years old for His pastimes killing Putana, Sakatasura, and the Trinivarta demon.
He moved to Vrindavan, and enjoying various pastimes with his brother Balaram and the cowherd boys in the forests of Vrindavan. Between the ages of 3 and 6, Krsna killed Bakasura, Aghasura, and Dhenuka, while brother Balarama killed Pralamba demon. Many of these asuras were sent by the demon Kamsa to kill the brothers.
They then moved to Nandagrama, and between the ages of 7 and 10, Krsna had many more famous pastimes. This period also marks Lord Brahma's stealing pastime, along with the lifting of Govardhana Hill. Here Krsna played rasa-lila with the gopis. He killed Canura while Balarama killed Mustika. He and Balarama were also invited to Mathura for a wrestling match, where he killed Kamsa while Balarama killed his brothers."
In Sri Bhajana-rahasya: Confidential Secrets of Bhajana, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur narrates Sri Krsna's boyhood pastimes as a cowherd:
"I also remember Sri Krishna, who is returning home in the afternoon to Nanda-grama along with His cows and cowherd boy friends. As they arrive on the path, He feels satisfied glancing at Srimati Radharani. After meeting with Nanda and other elderly people, He is then bathed and dressed by Mother Yasoda. O mind! Remember this pastime in ecstasy."
Nandagrama and the surrounding environs are described by Srila Murari Gupta in his Shri Krishna Chaitanya-carita Mahakavya:
nanda-gramottare pashya / pavanakhya sarovaram
yatra nandasya go-vatsash / caranti kna-palitah 15
"Behold the beautiful lake named Pavana which lies to the north of the town of Nanda. There Nanda's cows and calves graze as they are tended by Krishna.
nandishvara-pashcime ca / vana hi kamya-purvvakam
picchalakhyah parvvato 'yam / atra tithati nirmmalah 16
To the west of Nandishvara is the forest of Kamyavana, where the immaculate mountain named Picchala stands.
picchale khelatah kna-ramau ca balakaih saha
arita-keshi-vyomadya / vashva-mea-rupinah 17
On Picchala mountain, Rama and Krishna sported with the cowherd boys. There Arita, Keshi, Vyoma and other demons took the forms of a bull, a horse and a ram respectively.
pancatvam apitah knat / sarvva-mokadhikarinah
kno 'pi balakaih sarddha / yatra kridati sarvvada 18
By the grace of Krishna's strong arms, their bodies merged with the five gross elements, and they thus acquired the right for all varieties of liberation. Here Krishna forever frolics with the cowherd boys."
(Shri Krishna Chaitanya-carita Mahakavya, Fourth
Prakrama - Tenth Sarga)
(Nandagrama, to be continued…)
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