The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Simantadvipa
BY: SUN STAFF
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Jul 08, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 141.
The next sacred place listed in the Jaiva Dharma 'Glossary of Places' is Simantadvipa:
"Simantadvipa - one of the nine islands of Navadvipa. This place is also known as Simuliya. It is situated east of the Bhagirathi and north of the Jalangi, and it is at the northern border of Navadvipa. This place embodies the devotional practice of sravanam, hearing the glories of Sri Krsna's names, forms, qualities, and pastimes. In Satya-yuga, Parvati worshiped Sri Gauranga here on the inspiration of her husband, Lord Siva. When Gauranga appeared before her, she took the dust from His feet and placed it on the part in her hair (simanta). As a result, this place became known as Simantadvipa."
There are two different names and several different spellings that lead us to important Jaiva Dharma references to this place: Simantadvaipa (or Simanta dvipa), Simuliya and Sumuliya. In chapter fourteen is a descriptive passage of Navadvipa-dhama that has by now been often quoted in this series:
"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."
In chapter twelve there is another passage describing the geographical position of Simantadvipa in the dhama, and this one has also been quoted before, regarding some of the other named places in the paragraph:
"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 [Simantini 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."
There are two more places in Jaiva Dharma where Simuliya is discussed. The first is in chapter twenty-two, in which the character Vijaya-kumara asks Prema-dasa Babaji, "What is 'affection for those places where the Lord resides?", to which he replies:
"When he circumambulates the holy Navadvipa, a devotee will ask, "O residents of the Lord's sacred place, where did the Lord take birth? Walking down what pathway did the Lord perform sankirtana? Please tell me: where did the Lord enjoy pastimes with the gopas in the morning?" The residents of the holy abode may reply, "In Mayapura, in a raised tulasi-forest, the Lord took birth. In Ganganagara, Simuliya, Gadigacha, Majida, and many other villages He performed sankirtana. By drinking with the cup of his ears these nectar words from the mouth of a resident of the land of Gauda, a devotee will manifest ecstatic symptoms, such as shedding tears and the hairs of his body standing erect, as he circumambulates the holy place. This is called 'affection for those places where the Lord resides".
Finally, in chapter twenty-three Simuliya village is described, as a place of the character Vrajanatha's residence. In this passage, Srila Bhaktivinoda tells of two Ramanuja Vaisnavas who came to visit on their way to seek out of the places of Lord Chaitanya's pastimes:
"The village of Bilva-puskarini is very beautiful. The river Ganges flows on its northern and western sides. There, on the shore of the Puskarini, in a grove of Bilva trees, is a temple of Lord Siva. Not far from there is a place called Bhava-tarana. On one side is Bilva-puskarini and on the other side is Brahmana-puskarini. Between them lies the village called Simuliya, which on one side borders the town of Navadvipa. In the middle of Bilva-puskarini and north of the royal road lies Vrajanatha's house. After travelling a short distance, Vijaya-kumara returned to his sister. In his mind he had decided, "I won't leave until I have learned the truth about the holy name." Returning to Bilva-puskarini, he saw his sister and nephew and told them, "I will stay another day or two and then I will go." That afternoon two Vaisnavas in the Ramanuja-sampradaya wearing Sri-tilaka came to the Candi-mandapa at Vrajanatha's house. Sitting in the shade of the panasa tree before Vrajanatha's house, the two Vaisnavas made a fire with some dried twigs and began to smoke ganja. Vrajanatha's mother was very happy to get the opportunity to show hospitality to some guests. Seeing that they were not eating anything, she brought them different kinds of food. Pleased, they began to cook some capatis. Seeing that the Vaisnavas were peaceful and bright-faced, Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara gradually felt attracted to them. Seeing that Vrajanatha and Vijaya-kumara wore tulasi beads on their necks and twelve tilaka marks on their limbs, the two Vaisnavas respectfully greeted them and spread a cloth for them to sit. As Vrajanatha questioned them, one of the sannyasis said, "O maharaja, we have seen Ayodhya and now we are going to Navadvipa. In our hearts we have decided to see the places of Caitanya Prabhu's pastimes." Vrajanatha replied, "You are in Sri Navadvipa now. Please rest here today and tomorrow see the birthplace of Lord Mahaprabhu and the courtyard of Srivasa. The two sannyasis then happily recited these words of Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita (15.6):
The two sannyasis said, "Today we are very fortunate, for we will see holy Sri Mayapura, the best of the seven holy cities."
(Simantadvipa, to be continued…)
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