The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Srivasa-angana
BY: SUN STAFF
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Jul 13, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 146.
Our next listing on the Jaiva Dharma 'Glossary of Places' is Srivasa-angana, about which Srila Bhaktivinoda writes:
"Srivasa-angana - the courtyard of Srivasa Thakura situated in Mayapura just next to the birth place of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After Mahaprabhu received diksa from Srila Isvara Puri in Gaya, He returned to Navadvipa and began the sankirtana movement. During this time He performed ecstatic kirtana every night with His intimate associates at Srivasa-angana. Srivasa-angana of navadvipa-lila is non-different from the rasa-sthali of vrndavana-lila."
Srivasa-angana is mentioned many times in Jaiva Dharma. In fact, it is one of the key settings in which this transcendental novel takes place.
The first mention is in chapter twelve, when our character Vrajanath the brahmana pandit has come to Navadvipa seeking out the places of Lord Gauranga's lila pastimes. Finding himself in Srivasa-angana, the courtyard of Srivasa Acarya, he is immediately won over by Vaisnava bhakti:
"The day was ended. The sun was almost invisible. A very gentle breeze blew from the south. In every direction the birds had gone to their nests. One by one the stars were visible in the sky. At that time the Vaisnavas had begun the arati and kirtana in the courtyard of Srivasa's home in Sri Mayapura. Vrajanatha then slowly entered and sat down under the bakula tree in the place in Srivasa's courtyard where the khola was broken. As he listened to the chanting in the arati of Lord Gaura-Hari, his heart became softened. When the kirtana ended, one by one the Vaisnavas came and sat under the bakula tree also. When, proclaiming "Jaya Sacinanandana!, Jaya Rupa-Sanatana! and Jaya Dasa Gosvami!", elderly Raghunatha dasa Babaji Mahasaya also entered the courtyard, all the elder Vaisnavas greeted him with dandavat obeisances. In that situation Vrajanatha could not avoid also bowing down before him. Seeing the effulgence of Vrajanatha's face, the elderly babaji embraced him and sat down beside him. He asked, "Baba, who are you?" Vrajanatha replied, "I am a person who thirsts for the truth. I have decided to learn the truth from you. A Vaisnava sitting nearby knew who Vrajanatha was. He said, "He is Vrajanatha Nyaya-pancanana. In understanding nyaya-sastra no pandita in Sri Navadvipa is his equal. Nowadays he has attained a little faith in Lord Sacinanandana. Thus hearing the glories of Vrajanatha, the elderly babaji politely said, "Baba, you are a pandita, and we are poor fools. You reside in the holy abode of our Lord Sacinanandana. It is you who should be merciful to us. How can we teach you? It is you who should mercifully tell us about Lord Gauranga, and thus makes us cool and peaceful." As the two of them conversed, all the Vaisnavas gradually left to fulfil their various duties. Only the old babaji and Vrajanatha remained."
In chapter thirteen we have another passage describing the discussions of Vrajanath and the Babaji, and this one further describes the beauty of Srivasa-angana:
"The next evening Vrajanatha sat down under the bakula tree facing the courtyard of Srivasa's home. The saintly elderly babaji had developed a kind of paternal love for Vrajanatha. He was waiting for Vrajanatha to come. When Vrajanatha arrived, the babaji at once came out from the courtyard. Embracing Vrajanatha, he took him to his cottage (bhajana-kutira) in a grove of jasmine vines to one side of Srivasa's courtyard. Touching the dust of the saintly babaji's feet, Vrajanatha thought that his life had now become successful. He humbly said, "O saintly babaji, please teach me the Dasa-mula, which contains the essence of our Lord Nimai's teachings."
In chapter seventeen there is another nice passage. At the point of the story, Vrajanatha's grandmother is urging him to marry, against his wishes. Vrajanatha's cousin Vani-Madhava comes to influence him, and draw him out from the web of all-attractive bhakti he has been caught in. But even Vani-Madhava cannot deny the gloriousness of this Vaisnava stronghold...
"...[Vani-Madhava] quickly went to the entrance of Srivasa's courtyard in Sri Mayapura. Sitting under the bakula tree, he thought, "These Vaisnavas are plundering all the good things in the world for their own enjoyment! What beautiful homes! What a pleasant garden! What a graceful courtyard! What a beautiful place! One by one they sit in their bhajana-kutiras. The Vaisnava sit and chant on japa beads. They are like the bulls of religion. They are free of all cares! After bathing in the Ganges, the respectable ladies of the neighbourhood bring them gifts of water, fruit, and various kinds of food. The brahmanas used to get gifts like that for performing karma-kanda rituals. Nowadays these babajis enjoy them."
(Srivasa-angana, to be continued...)
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