As months after months and years after years pass by, I keep wondering if my appreciation for and attachment to Sri Mayapur Dham has seen any increase. This is important to me as, to me, being attached to Sri Mayapur is directly proportionate to progressing in spiritual life and reaching the ultimate goal of human life. This may sound a bit weird or sentimental to some but that’s how it is if we look deeper.
If the goal of life is to be immersed in performing loving devotional service to Sri Sri Radha Krishna, a profound attachment to Lord Chaitanya’s lotus feet is certainly a prerequisite, for that’s what we have seen and studied in the teachings and lives of our previous acharyas. Considering the subject matter at hand, at this moment, questions like “did no one get love of Godhead before Lord Chaitanya’s advent?” or “what about other Vaishnavas who do not accept Lord Chaitanya the way Gaudiya Vaishnavas do… do they not get love of Godhead?” sound out of context. We could address such questions some other time.
Or is it that instead of increasing, my attachment and appreciation for Sri Mayapur’s holy land reduced? This and such other questions send shivers down my spine, not because of anything else but for the fact that they question my very inner self when I am fairly aware of purpose in life and the extremely unpredictable nature of life itself in this world. This is not about death but about the power of Maya Devi which makes one forget how fast the time slips away from us.
The very next question that hits me is, does it help to be frightened of having not developed attachment for Sridham Mayapur? Before my mind jumps to another question and intelligence turns to addressing them, the Paramatma residing in my heart throws a counter question at me, as if interrupting, or enlightening – “what makes you think of these questions?” I am stuck now. Is He consoling me or encouraging me to do more introspection?
I missed last year’s Navadvip Mandala parikrama, meaning not only I missed the opportunity of walking around the groves of Sri Navadvip Dham with Vaishnavas but also the sacred association of many holy tirthas. Holy tirthas like Ganganagar, Prithu kunda and the most auspicious Simanta dvipa where Mother Parvati had a rare darshan of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu, were only a few miles away and yet I missed it. I repeatedly chastised myself. “Is this how you appreciate Sridham Mayapur?” “Is this how you expect to understand the glories of Sri Navadvip Dham?” “Do not be complacent and do not take your residing in Sri Mayapur cheaply!” It went on and on. My lamentation led me to taking shelter of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur‘s evergreen book, Sri Navadvip Dham Mahatmaya, which assures the readers of a tangible experience of associating with those mystical places of pilgrimage.
“Listen, Jiva, this Ganganagar was founded by King Bhagirath of the Raghu family. When the Ganges came down, King Bhagirath led the way, blowing a conch shell. But when the Ganges arrived at Navadvipa Dham, she stopped and would not proceed. Bhagirath saw this and became fearful. Retracing his steps, he came towards mother Ganga. At this place, Ganganagar, he began to perform austerities. Satisfied with this, Ganga Devi personally appeared before him.
“Bhagiratha said, ‘Mother Ganga, if you do not proceed on, my forefathers will never be delivered.’
“Ganga Devi said, ‘Listen dear child, Bhagirath. Just stay here patiently for a few days. Now we are in Navadvipa, and Magh month is coming. At the end of Phalgun month I will go to deliver your forefathers. O Bhagiratha, my waters emanate from the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, so now here in His own Dham I would like to have my desires fulfilled. On the Phalgun Purnima, the appearance day of the Lord, my vow will be completed. Then certainly I will go with you. Do not fear.’ Thus King Bhagirath, the leader of the Raghu family, stayed here in Ganga nagar until the Phalgun Purnima.”
Mundaners and pseudo religionists have difficulty understanding the personal feature of the Lord and His devotees like Ganga Devi. They do not realize that the sacred waters of this river is just a feature of her transcendental body. They say things like “Hindus consider Ganga a sacred river”. They don’t get that it is not about “considering”; it is about knowing a fact. Just as Bhumi Devi is a person, so is Ganga Devi a person. Here we can see how she appeared and spoke to King Bhagirath, who was anxious to deliver his forefathers which was possible only by the mercy of mother Ganga.
Now hear what Lord Nityananda, who is none other than Lord Balarama Himself, said. He said “one who fasts, takes bath in the Ganges here, and worships Gauranga here on the days of Phalguna Purnima, will cross over the material ocean along with his ancestors. Along with one thousand ancestors, he attains Goloka after death no matter where he dies.”
Wow! I wonder why intelligent people around the world struggle so hard to get liberation from the material world when going beyond liberation, that is, attaining the highest destination, Goloka, is so easily available!
Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself has said: “O Ganga devi, your waters are the ambrosia of love of Godhead. The mere utterance of your name invokes devotional service to the Supreme Lord. By your mercy, the living entities acquire a taste for chanting Lord Krishna’s holy name.”
Continuing the tour of Navadvip Dham, Lord Nityananda told Sri Jiva:
“O learned one, now hear the glories of this beautiful pond to the east. Although it is now known as Ballal-dighi, it was variously described in Satya-yuga. At that time, Prithu Maharaja was leveling the rough places of the earth by cutting down the hills. As he began leveling this area, a great effulgence came forth. When the workers told this to Prithu Maharaja, he came to see the phenomenon. As he was a Shaktyavesha-avatar, an empowered incarnation, by meditation he understood that this place was Navadvipa. He kept the glories of this place secret at that time and ordered that a kunda be established there. This kunda thus became celebrated as Prithu-kunda throughout Navadvipa Dham. The villagers felt indescribable bliss on drinking the pure water of this kunda.
“Later, King Laksmana Sen dug out the kunda and made it bigger and deeper. Desiring to deliver his forefathers, he named it Ballal-dighi [after his father, Ballal Sen]. See that beautiful hill. Laksmana Sen’s house, now broken with the passing of time, once stood there.”
Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur says that all these places are ornaments of Sri Navadvip Dham which various kings established to gain pious credits. Unfortunately, due to the influence of Kaliyuga, the yavana kings desecrated this place, so the devotees no longer worship here. The earth itself is very pure, but no one lives here due to fear of the impure yavana’s association. He adds that because a great offense was committed to the Deity of the Lord, the devotees gave up this place.
As my heart was experiencing the joy of associating with these holy places, the fact that the yavana kings desecrated this holy place shatters it. These demonic rulers have done similar things wherever they found something sacred or majestic in Bharat (present day India). Either they altered the design and named it after themselves or left the place inhabitable by pious people. Thoughts of these offensive events provoke anger towards such demoniac rulers but as I remember how Lord Chaitanya mercifully delivered Chand Kazi, a yavana ruler, and how Chand Kazi, after realizing that Lord Chaitanya was none other than what he called Allah, gave up enmity towards the Sankirtana movement and became a devotee of Lord Chaitanya, my anger disappears and compassion for those averse to devotional service to Lord Krishna grows in my heart.
This is certainly due to the merciful nature of Lord Chaitanya and His abode, Sri Mayapur Dham. I am relieved to observe that despite missing the parikrama this year I have not lost appreciation for this holy land. Nonetheless, the fact that I still struggle to find in me attachment for Sri Mayapur Dham, which is filled with transcendental dust participles of Lord Chaitanya’s and Lord Nityananda’s lotus feet, is a definite proof of my lack of sincerity and surrender to the holy names of Lord Krishna.
Just as love of Godhead is dormant in our hearts, attachment to Lord’s pastime places such as Sri Vrindavan Dham and Sri Mayapur Dham is also dormant in our hearts. By Lord Nityananda’s mercy even a wretch can develop pure love for Krishna in an instant. All He asks is we take full shelter of the holy names of Lord Krishna. This is my hope.
As I look out from our window, I see the magnificent Temple of Vedic Planetarium reassuring me of Lord Gauranga’s mercy. It reminds me of Lord Nityananda’s prediction and how Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur had a darshan of the adbhuta mandir more than hundred years before its manifestation to ordinary eyes. The beautiful view of the domes partially blocked by gorgeous green trees and the effulgent Sudarshan Chakra atop all of them re-kindle my innermost quest and yearning for the association of those humble Vaishnavas walking devotedly around holy tirthas on the supremely sacred land of Sri Mayapur Dham.