Navadvipa Mandala parikrama
The Navadwipa Mandala Parikrama is held every year in the Pahalguna month (middle of March). People from all over the world take part in the week long festival held at Navadvipa in West Bengal.
Navadvipa Parikrama means visiting the holy places of Navadvipa in groups. Navadvipa is where the Supreme Lord incarnated as Lord Gauranga (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) in kali-yuga to teach the people the best way to attain Him. Navadvipa is one of the holiest places on earth and anyone visiting it will become His perfect devotee as Shrila Narottama Dasa Thakura states,
shri-gauda mandala-bhumi yeba jane chintamani tara haya vraja-bhume vasa
“One who knows the Gauda-mandala-bhumi, the abode of Lord Gauranga, is transcendental and qualified to live in Vraja-bhumi.”
Sri Narahari Dasa tells, navadvipa vrndavana dui eke haya gaura-shyama-rupe prabhu “Both Navadvipa and Vrindavana are one indeed, where the Lord enjoys as gaura (golden) and shyama (dark) respectively.” Therefore, we should not differentiate between Vrindavana and Navadvipa. The results one can achieve by Vraja-parikrama is possible with the Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama as well.
Navadvipa consists of nine islands- Antardvipa, Simantadvipa, Godrumadvipa, Madhyadvipa, Koladvipa, Ritudvipa, Jahnudvipa, Modadrumadvipa, and Rudradvipa.
Taking darshan at Antardvipa in Mayapur, the parikrama visits the islands in the above order crossing the holy River Ganga. At the end, the parikrama reach Mayapur and pay obeisance in the temple of Jagannatha Mishra and Sachidevi. The weeklong parikrama is held from the tithi of Makari-saptami up to the full moon. After concluding the parikrama, the holy devotees take darshan at Mayapur on the birthday of Lord Gauranga and they receive the mercy of both Nitai and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The Navadvipa Dhama is located at the centre of the Gauranga-madala-bhumi, appearing like a large lotus with a hundred petals. The Navadvipa Dhama has a circumference of 270 km (168 miles) with a diameter of approximately 90 km (56 miles). River Ganga flows through the centre of the Gauranga-madala-bhumi. The Navadvipa is believed to be formed by the force of the waters of the holy Rivers like Yamuna, Bhogavati, Alakananda, Kaveri, Sarasvati, Tamraparni, Brahmaputra, Saryu, Ganga, Manasa Ganga, Krtamala, Vidyadhari, Narmada, Gomati, Mandakini, and Godavari.
The nine islands of Navadvipa resembles like a lotus with eight petals around the whorl and they represent the nine processes of devotional service viz. atma-nivedama (total surrender), shravanam (hearing), kirtanam (chanting), smaranam (remembering), pada-sevanam (serving the lotus feet), archanam (worship), vandanam (praying), dasyam (service), and sakhyam (friendship) respectively in the order of the islands listed above.
The nine islands also represent the seven holy cities in Bharat-varsha viz. Mathura, Ayodhya, Haridvar, Varanasi, Kanchi, Avanti (Ujjain) and Dvaraka. The twelve forests in Navadvipa represent the twelve forests of Vrindavana viz. Goluka Mahavana in Antardvipa, Mathuvana and Mathura north of Prthukunda, Nandagrama in Godrumadvipa, Bahulavana in Koladvipa, Govardhana in Koladvipa, Bhadravana in Jahnudvipa, Bhandiravana and Kamyavana in Modadrumadvipa, Talavana in Simantadvipa, Bilvana in Rudradvipa, Khandiravana in Champahatta, and Radhakunda in Ritudvipa.
In the parikrama held in 2011, four different groups (Bengali, Hindi, Russian and International) participated and they all received the blessings of the Lord. The Bengali group was led by H. H. Gauranga Prem Swami, the Hindi group was led by H. H. Radharaman Swami and H. H. Prabodhananda Saraswati Swami, the Russian and international groups were led by the earnest disciples of H. D. G. Srila Prabhupada and other senior devotees.
The next parikrama will be held in March 2012 and we expect to add more number of groups. The Vedas give precise explanation of the Soul bereft of qualities. The Soul is indescribable and incalculable and is said to be a tiny spark of the Supreme Divinity. That unseen Soul manifests as various embodiments based on the law of karma.
From the tiniest unicellular species to the highly intelligent humans, this law verily upholds. From the beginning of the universe to till now, approximately 155 trillion human-years have been passed according to the Vedic calculation. Every Soul including those in all humans wandered in this manifest universe for the same period assuming various sensual bodies. The Law of transmigration of Souls reveals that to reach the level of a human, a Soul may surpass a minimum of 8.4 million species of lives. Lord Krshna tells in Bhagavatam,
“When one originally receives a human body effortlessly as the nature’s law of promotion, although it is a very rare gift, it should be considered like a boat with a spiritual guru as its captain. That person should accept My instructions as the wind that drags the boat to cross over the sea of worldly existence and the one who denies this wonderful opportunity to reach the Supreme Destination is a killer of his own self.”
Therefore, if one wants to reach the Supreme Destination, irrespective of whatever faith one follows and wherever a person resides, please try to participate in the Navadvipa-mandala-parikrama organised at Mayapur.