The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Gauda-bhumi

BY: SUN STAFF - 4.9 2019

Map of Ancient India by C. Weigel, Nuremberg, c. 1720

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 50.

Our next tirtha on the 'Glossary of Places' in Jaiva Dharma is Gauda-bhumi:

"Gauda-bhumi - the land of Gauda. According to the Sakti-sangama Tantra this corresponds to West Bengal, and includes some parts of modern day Bangladesh and Orissa (extending as far as Bhuvanesvara). In ancient times the residents of this tract of land were known as Gaudiyas. After the appearance of Sri Gauranga, the term Gaudiya was especially applied to the devotees of Gauranga, for almost everyone in this land had become His bhakta."

While the term 'Gauda-bhumi' does not appear in one translated manuscript of Jaiva Dharma, in another the term is found twice, in the opening paragraphs of chapter one:

"Within this world, the island of Jambudvipa is most excellent. In Jambudvipa, the land of Bharata-varsa is eminent and within Bharata-varsa, the topmost place is Gauda-bhumi.

Within Gauda-bhumi, the nine-island region of Sri Navadvipamandala is most distinguished, and in one area of Sri Navadvipamandala, on the eastern bank of the Bhagirathi river, a beautiful settlement named Sri Godruma is eternally situated."

The other translator instead used the name "Gauda-desa" in these paragraphs.

Throughout Vaisnava literature we find frequent mention of Gauda-desa and Gauda-mandala-bhumi, sacred places where Sri Krsna Caitanya enacted His transcendental pastimes. This verse describes the Appearance of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai in Gauda:

Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 1.102:

ei candra surya dui parama sadaya
jagatera bhagye gaude karila udaya

"These two, the sun and moon, are very kind to the people of the world. Thus for the good fortune of all, They have appeared on the horizon of Bengal.


The celebrated ancient capital of the Sena dynasty, which was known as Gaudadesa or Gauda, was situated in what is now the modern district of Maldah. Later this capital was transferred to the ninth or central island on the western side of the Ganges at Navadvipa, which is now known as Mayapur and was then called Gaudapura. Lord Caitanya appeared there, and Lord Nityananda came there and joined Him from the district of Birbhum. They appeared on the horizon of Gaudadesa to spread the science of Krsna consciousness, and it is predicted that as the sun and moon gradually move west, the movement They began five hundred years ago will come to the Western civilizations by Their mercy."

(Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 1.102)

In his purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 1.19, Srila Prabhupada gives a comprehensive explanation of the territory known as Gauda, and how it relates to our Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya:

"Gaudiya indicates the part of India between the southern side of the Himalayan Mountains and the northern part of the Vindhya Hills, which is called Aryavarta, or the Land of the Aryans. This portion of India is divided into five parts or provinces (Panca-gaudadesa): Sarasvata (Kashmir and Punjab), Kanyakubja (Uttar Pradesh, including the modern city of Lucknow), Madhya-gauda (Madhya Pradesh), Maithila (Bihar and part of Bengal) and Utkala (part of Bengal and the whole of Orissa). Bengal is sometimes called Gaudadesa, partly because it forms a portion of Maithila and partly because the capital of the Hindu king Raja Laksmana Sena was known as Gauda. This old capital later came to be known as Gaudapura and gradually Mayapur.

The devotees of Orissa are called Udiyas, the devotees of Bengal are called Gaudiyas, and the devotees of southern India are known as Dravida devotees. As there are five provinces in Aryavarta, so Daksinatya, southern India, is also divided into five provinces, which are called Panca-dravida. The four Vaisnava acaryas who are the great authorities of the four Vaisnava disciplic successions, as well as Sripada Sankaracarya of the Mayavada school, appeared in the Panca-dravida provinces. Among the four Vaisnava acaryas, who are all accepted by the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, Sri Ramanuja Acarya appeared in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh at Mahabhutapuri, Sri Madhva Acarya appeared at Pajakam (near Vimanagiri) in the district of Mangalore, Sri Visnu Svami appeared at Pandya, and Sri Nimbarka appeared at Mungera-patana, in the extreme south.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the chain of disciplic succession from Madhva Acarya, but the Vaisnavas in His line do not accept the Tattva-vadis, who also claim to belong to the Madhva-sampradaya. To distinguish themselves clearly from the Tattva-vadi branch of Madhva's descendants, the Vaisnavas of Bengal prefer to call themselves Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Sri Madhva Acarya is also known as Sri Gauda-purnananda, and therefore the name Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya is quite suitable for the disciplic succession of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Our spiritual master, Om Visnupada Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, accepted initiation in the Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya."

(Srila Prabhupada's Purport to Caitanya-caritamrta Adi lila 1.19)

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


(Gauda-bhumi, to be continued…)