The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Purvasthali


Modern Purbasthali (Purvasthali) Railway Station
[ Photo courtesy Subhadippal @ Panoramio ]

Jun 06, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 109.

The next listing on the 'Glossary of Places' in Jaiva Dharma is Purvasthali, about which Srila Bhaktivinoda writes, briefly:

    "Purvasthali: this is a place located in the western part of Rudradvipa."

There is just one mention of Purvasthali in Jaiva Dharma, in chapter six. This is a scene in the Thakur's transcendental novel leading up to a great debate between the Vaisnavas and the smrta brahmanas Vidyaratna had invited to engage with them.

    "Nine hours had passed. Covered by the malice of clouds, the sun had not yet been able to glance upon the earth. At dawn it rained with thudding sounds of "dipdip". During the twelfth half-hour Devi and Sambhu ate kichari. The Vaisnavas were delayed in their madhukari begging for alms. By the time the third three hour watch had passed all the Vaisnavas had honoured prasadam. Now they stayed in one part of the malati and madhavi vine terrace and chanted the holy names on their beads. The paramahamsa babaji, Vaisnava dasa, pandita Ananta dasa, who had just come from Nrsimha-palli, Lahiri Mahasaya, and Yadava dasa from Kuliya were happily chanting the holy names on their tulasi beads. At that time Vidyaratna Mahasaya, Caturbhuja Padaratna from Samudragara, Cintamani Nyayaratna from Varanasi, Kalidasa Vasaspati from Purvasthali, and the famous pandita Krsna Cudamani all came there. The Vaisnavas very respectfully offered sitting places to their brahmana pandita guests. The paramahamsa babaji said, "it is said that a day overcast with clouds is a bad day indeed. However, for us it has become a good day, for many learned panditas who live in holy places have mercifully placed the dust of their feet in my cottage. Because they were naturally humbler than a blade of grass, the Vaisnavas, saying, "We offer our respectful obeisances to the brahmanas", bowed down to offer their respects. Thinking themselves very learned and important, the brahmanas responded by offering blessings."

Purvasthali is mentioned in the purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 10.114 as being one of the locations near the village of Canpahati (Campahatta):

    "The seventy-eighth branch of the original tree was Jagannatha Tirtha, the seventy-ninth was the brahmana Sri Janakinatha, the eightieth was Gopala Acarya, and the eighty-first was the brahmana Vaninatha.

    Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura writes in his Anubhashya, "Jagannatha Tirtha was one of the nine principal sannyasis who were Lord Caitanya's associates. Vaninatha Vipra was a resident of Canpahati, a village in the district of Burdwan near the town of Navadvipa, the police station of Purvasthali and the post office of Samudragada. The temple there was very much neglected, but it was renovated in the Bengali year 1328 [A.D. 1921] by Sri Paramananda Brahmacari [one of Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's disciples], who reorganized the seva-puja (worship in the temple) and placed the temple under the management of the Sri Caitanya Matha of Sri Mayapur. In the temple as it now exists, the Deity of Sri Gaura-Gadadhara is worshiped strictly according to the principles of the revealed scriptures. Canpahati is two miles away from both Samudragarh and the Navadvipa station of the eastern railway."

In his autobiographical memoir, "Svalikhita-jivani, Srila Bhaktivinoda also mentions the police station at Purvasthali:

    "On the 9th of April [1890] I visited Nakula Brahmachari in Pyariganja and on the 20th Ramsevak Babu in Kalna. On the 23rd of April I went to Kaigram. On the 25th I saw the residence of Vrndavana Dasa Thakura in Denuda. On the 27th the family came to Kalna and on the 9th of May we returned to Calcutta. On the 18th of May I went to Godruma. We went on foot to Indrarkapur with Kamal, thereafter, crossing the Ganga and coming to Kakshasali and Chupi, we arrived at the police station in Purvasthali and dined. The next day I went on foot to Kuliya in Navadvipa and I took darsan of the bhajana kutir of Jagannatha Dasa Babaji."

The mention of Purvasthali 'station' is also found in the biographical information about the author of Chaitanya Bhagavat, Vrindavan Das Thakur, but in this case it refers to the railway station there. Srila Vrindavan Das was born in Mamgachi in Modadrumadvipa, one mile from the Purvasthali station on the Howrah-Katwa line of the Eastern Railway.

Even to this day, Purvasthali is known as a village with a police station, as evidenced by its Wikipedia listing:

    "Purbasthali is a village with a police station in Kalna subdivision of Bardhaman district. It is located 120 km north from Kolkata. Also known as Chupi Char, it lies on the banks of a large oxbow lake created by the Ganges river and is only a few km from the old and holy town of Nabadwip."

[ Photo courtesy Subhadippal @ Panoramio ]


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