BY: HDG SRILA BHAKTIVINODA THAKUR
The Nine Islands of Navadvipa
Nov 28, CANADA (SUN) Eighteen chapters describing a complete tour of the land of Navadvipa, as traversed by Lord Nityananda. Written by Thakur Bhaktivinoda in Bengali, 1890.
All glories to Lord Caitanya, the moon of Navadvipa and son of mother Saci! All glories to Nityananda Raya, the avadhuta! All glories to Sri Advaita Prabhu, the Supreme Lord! All glories to Sri Gadadhara and Srivasa Pandita! All glories to Navadvipa-dhama, the essence of all dhamas! And all glories to the residents of Navadvipa, the associates of Gauranga!
Offering obeisances to the feet of all the devotees, I will now briefly describe Sri Navadvipa-dhama. Even the demigods headed by Lord Brahma do not know the unlimited glories of Navadvipa-mandala, so who can possibly describe that dhama fully? Since the thousand-mouthed Sesha cannot describe it completely, how can I, an insignificant living entity, do so? Even Lord Siva can find no end to the unlimited glories of Navadvipa-dhama. Nevertheless, the desire of Sri Caitanya is powerful, and according to His wish the devotees have given me an order. Therefore, by the mercy of the devotees, I hereby describe the glories of Nadia.
There is one other topic I would like to mention. As it is a confidential matter, I hesitate to disclose it. But, on the other hand, I cannot resist telling it, for Lord Caitanya instructed His devotees to publicize the glories of His pastimes and abode after His disappearance. Though Sri Caitanya is the most concealed of all avataras, I know well that He is all in all. But because His confidential activities are described ambiguously in scripture, the nondevotees are unable to realize them. For a long time Mayadevi kept hidden the confidential scriptures that describe Lord Caitanya's pastimes. These topics are described in both the unmanifest scriptures, which were scattered here and there, as well as in the manifest scriptures. Maya kept all these scriptures hidden from view by covering the eyes of the scholars.
After Gauranga completed His pastimes on earth, however, His obedient servant Mayadevi, understood the desire of the Lord. She lifted the veil of illusion from the eyes of the living entities and revealed the true nature of Sri Gauranga within this material universe. Thus the hidden meaning in the scriptures became easily revealed, and the arguments inhibiting understanding Lord Caitanya were dispelled. It was the all-merciful Nityananda Prabhu who revealed the truth about Gauranga in the hearts of the living entities. On His command, Maya pulled away the covering so that the pure devotee scholars could receive this precious treasure of the scriptures.
If one remains doubtful in spite of the scriptural evidence, he is most unfortunate and useless. Why should he continue living? When Nityananda Prabhu distributed the mercy, the fortunate living entities accepted and reached the perfection of happiness.
Everyone should know the symptoms of the unfortunate living entity as well; it is he who is overconfident of the power of his own intelligence. Such a person rejects the mercy of the Lord, and by the force of false logic he falls repeatedly into the pit of illusion.
"Come, spirit souls of Kali-yuga! Give up this hypocrisy and just accept the pure ecstatic love of Sri Gauranga!" In this way Nityananda Prabhu would call out again and again. But still the unfortunate living entities did not accept.
Now let us consider carefully why these people do not accept such wonderful love of God. In pursuit of happiness, living entities in the material world follow various processes, such as logic or mystic yoga. And, in quest of happiness, some give up the material world and go to the forest, while kings constantly wage wars amongst themselves. Desiring happiness, others run after women and wealth, while others take to arts and sciences. In pursuit of happiness, others reject happiness and learn to tolerate the miseries of life, and still others simply drown themselves in the ocean.
Raising His lotus hands in the air, Lord Nityananda exclaims, "Come, living entities! Give up the troubles of karma and jshana. Since you are endeavoring for happiness, I will give you happiness without asking anything in exchange. In this happiness there is no trouble, loss, or pain. Just chant the name of Gauranga and dance without anxiety. There's nothing equal to the happiness that I am giving. That happiness is pure, eternal ecstasy-beyond all illusion!"
In this way, Nityananda Prabhu begged everyone to take pure ecstatic love. Still, unfortunate persons, influenced by previous sinful activities, did not even want it. But if such persons chant even once the names of Gauranga and Nitai, the effects of unlimited sinful activities are destroyed.
Listen, everyone, to one more confidential topic. The most suitable thing for the souls of Kali-yuga is this treasure of Gauranga-lila. Gaurahari is the combined form of Radha and Krishna, who eternally enjoy pastimes in Vrindavana along with the sakhis. The truth of Radha and Krishna's eternal pastimes and the glories of Vraja-dhama are known by everyone through the scriptures. And the unlimited glories of Krishna's name and abode are known through the scriptures by people all over the universe. But still, actually obtaining Krishna-prema is not at all common. Let us contemplate the reason why.
Herein lies the secret of secrets which the living entities bound by Maya cannot discern. One who does not attain love of God after worshiping Krishna birth after birth has certainly committed heaps of offenses. For only by chanting Krishna's name without offenses can one attain incessant Krishna-prema.
Sri Caitanya's incarnation, however, is most uncommon. By His mercy, a serious person, though filled with offenses, can quickly obtain love of God. When someone calls out the names of Nitai and Caitanya, Krishna-prema comes looking for him. Offenses do not hinder his progress, and he soon sheds tears of ecstasy out of pure love of God. By the mercy of Lord Caitanya, all the offenses quickly flee away, the heart becomes pure, and love of God fully blossoms. Because people in Kali-yuga commit unlimited offenses, which are difficult to check, there can be no means of deliverance other than Gauranga's name. Therefore, in Kali-yuga, I see no alternative to Sri Gauranga. This is also the proclamation of the scriptures.
As Sri Gauracandra appeared in Navadvipa, it is therefore the crest jewel of all holy places. Offenders are the object of punishment at other holy pilgrimage places, but in Navadvipa-dhama they are purified. The example is the two brothers Jagai and Madhai, who committed great offenses yet still received Nitai and Gaura. What to speak of other places, at Vrindavana the offenders are punished. But a person who has committed hundreds of offenses can easily receive the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu and overcome those offenses in Navadvipa-dhama. For this reason, sages endlessly praise Navadvipa of Gaura-mandala.
He who lives in Navadvipa-dhama is very fortunate, for he achieves attraction for Krishna. He who happens to go there becomes freed from all offenses. What one attains by travelling to all the holy places is attained just by remembering Navadvipa. In this way the scriptures sing. He who sees Navadvipa-dhama gets ecstatic love of Krishna birth after birth. Even one who goes to Navadvipa desiring to gain material comforts through pious activities will not take another birth. The sastras say that one who walks around Navadvipa attains the fruit of millions of asvamedha-yajshas at every step. And one who lives in Navadvipa and chants mantras obtains the sound of Caitanya as his mantra and easily gets free from maya. What yogis obtain after ten years at other tirthas is obtained in three nights at Navadvipa.
That liberation attained by Brahman realization at other holy places is obtained simply by bathing in the Ganges at Navadvipa. Thus, all types of liberation-salokya, sarupya, sarshti, samipya, and nirvana-can be obtained in Navadvipa without speculative practice. Falling at the feet of the pure devotees in Navadvipa, Bhukti and Mukti (personified material enjoyment and liberation) remain there as obedient servants. Not caring for their blessings, the devotees kick them away, but still they do not leave the devotee's feet. The fruits obtained by staying one hundred years at the seven holy cities can be attained by staying one night in Navadvipa-dhama.
In conclusion, Navadvipa is the topmost tirtha. Taking shelter of it, the living entities can cross over Kali-yuga. At this place, taraka, the name of Rama, which gives liberation, and paraka. Taraka and paraka are mentioned in Cc. 3.3.257, the name of Krishna, which gives prema, always serve the residents of the dhama.
Aspiring for the shade of the lotus feet of Nitai and Jahnava, Bhaktivinoda thus sings in bliss.