The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Rudradvipa

BY: SUN STAFF - 4.2 2020

The Eleven Rudras, residents of Rudradvipa

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 123.

The next holy place listed on the Jaiva Dharma glossary is another of the nine islands of Navadvipa: Rudradvipa. Srila Bhaktivinoda describes it in these words:

"Rudradvipa - one of the nine islands of Navadvipa. According to the 1916 map of Sridhama Navadvipa, Rudradvipa is divided in three by the Bhagirathi.

This place embodies the devotional mood of sakhya, friendship with Sri Krsna. It is so named because the eleven Rudras (expansions of Lord Siva) reside here. Sri Visnusvami, the acarya of the Rudra sampradaya, visited this place, and both Lord Siva and Sri Gauranga appeared before him. Sri Siva gave Visnusvami the benediction that he (Visnusvami) would propagate a pure sampradaya, which would be named after himself. Mahaprabhu gave him the benediction that at the time of His own appearance as Sri Gauranga, Visnusvami would take birth as Sri Vallabhacarya."

In the oft-cited chapter fourteen passage, Rudradvipa is included along with the other islands of Navadvipa-dhama:

"The circumference of Sri Navadvipa is sixteen krosas (32 miles). The holy abode of Navadvipa is an eight-petal lotus flower. Eight of the dvipas form the eight petals, and the island in the middle is the whorl of the lotus. The eight islands that are petals of the lotus are: Simantadvipa, Godrumadvipa, Madhyadvipa, Koladvipa, Rtudvipa, Jahndvipa, Modadrumadvipa and Rudradvipa. The whorl in the middle of the lotus is Antardvipa. In the middle of Antardvipa is Sri Mayapura."

There is only one other mention of Rudradvipa in Jaiva Dharma, in a lengthy passage from chapter twelve which describes the preaching field in Navadvipa around the time of Sri Chaitanya's lila. In his transcendental novel, Srila Bhaktivinoda describes how one pandit was so envious of our leading character, the highly adept logician Vrajanatha Pancanana, that he went into the cremation grounds of Rudradvipa to perform Tantric rites, hoping to kill him. But as the drama unfolded, Vrajanatha became influenced by the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, and left behind his nyaya philosophy arguments.

"Sri Navadvipa-mandala is the best of all holy places in the world. It is a thirty-two mile eight petal lotus flower. The whorl of that lotus flower is Sri Antardvipa. In the centre of Antardvipa is Sri Mayapura. To the north of Sri Mayapura is Sri Simantadvipa. In Simantadvipa is a temple of Sri Sinmanta-devi. To the north of that temple is Bilva-puskarini, and to the south is Brahmana-puskarini. The region that contains Bilva-puskarini and the Brahmana-puskarini is called Sumuliya by the people in general. Therefore the village of Sumuliya-grama is in the northern part of Sri Navadvipa.

At the time of Sri Mahaprabhu this place was the home of many, many panditas. This village was the home of Saci-devi's father, Sri Nilambara Cakravarti. Not far from his house lived a vaidika brahmana named Vrajanatha Bhattacarya. By studying in a school at Bilva-puskarini, in a few days he had attained great learning in nyaya-sastra, learning that was like a shoreless ocean. All the famous panditas of Bilva-puskarini, Brahmana-puskarini, Mayapura, Godruma, Madhyadvipa, Amraghatta, Samudragar, Kuliya and many other places also were embarrassed and frustrated by Vrajanatha's skill in newer and newer logical arguments. In the assemblies where the panditas were invited, Vrajanatha Pancanana became like a lion attacking a herd of elephants. Raising newer and newer arguments, he made the panditas burn with anger. Of these panditas a very hard-hearted logician decided to kill Pancanana by casting a spell from the Tantras. Day after day he stayed in the cremation ground of Rudradvipa and chanted mantras to kill his foe.

It was a frightening new-moon night. Blinding darkness filled every direction. At midnight in the cremation ground Naiyika-cudamani called out to his worshipable deity, "O mother only you should be worshipped in the Kali-yuga! I have heard that you are very easily pleased by even a little chanting of your mantras and you easily grant boons. O mother with the terrifying face, your servant has performed great austerities and chanted your mantra for many days. Please be merciful this one time. O mother, I have many faults. Still, you are my mother. Please forgive my faults and appear before me. Again and again screaming, Tarka-cudamani offered oblations into the fire and chanted a mantra with Nyaya-pancanana's name. What wonderful power did that mantra possess! At that moment the sky became covered with clouds. A powerful wind blew. A deafening thunder sounded. Again and again there was lightning. Many grotesque ghosts could be seen. Intoxicated by drinking the sacrificial wine, Cudamani called out, "O mother, please don't delay!" At that moment a voice spoke from the sky. "Do not worry. Nyaya-pancanana will not continue as a logician for many more days. In a few days he will renounce logical debates. Then he will become silent. He will be your opponent no longer. Be peaceful and go home." Hearing this voice from the sky, Cudamani became happy. Again and again he offered dandavat obeisances to Lord Siva, the author of the Tantras. Then he returned home.

Vrajanatha Pancanana became a dig-vijayi pandita when he was only twenty one years old. Day and night he studied the books of Gangesopadhyaya. Seeing many faults in Kanabhatta Siromani's commentary, he wrote his own. He never thought about material affairs. Neither would he turn his ear to spiritual life. His whole life was logic, filled with phrases like "ghata, pata and avaccheda, vyavaccheda". Even when he was resting, sleeping, eating or walking about, his heart was rapt in logic, thinking about the nature of time, reality, solids, liquids and a host of other things. One day at sunrise at the Ganges' shore, as he was analysing the sixteen categories enunciated by Gautama Muni, a new nyaya student asked, "O saintly Nyaya-pancanana, have you heard Nimai Pandita's analysis of the atomic theory?" Nyaya-pancanana roared like a lion, "Who is Nimai Pandita? Do you speak of Jaganatha Misra's son? What was His argument? Please tell me." The new student said that some days before in Navadvipa there was a great person named Nimai Pandita. He was very expert in considering many different arguments of the nyaya-sastra. He thoroughly embarrassed and defeated Kanabhatta Siromani. Nimai Pandita had travelled to the father shore of the ocean of the nyaya-sastras. Even though He was so learned, in the end He considered the nyaya-sastras to be insignificant. He came to consider all material knowledge unimportant. He became a sannyasi and travelled from place to place preaching the chanting of Lord Hari's holy names. The Vaisnavas say He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, and they worship Him by chanting the "Gaura-Hari" mantra. O saintly Nyaya-pancanana, please take a look at His logical arguments." After hearing this praise of Nimai Pandita's logical arguments, Pancanana began to collect some of those famous arguments. It is the nature of a man that when he is very interested in a certain subject, he will honour the great teachers of that subject. Also. people tend not to honour great men while they are alive, but only after they are dead. Thus,, after studying Nimai Pandita's logical arguments, Nyaya-pancanana held Him in great esteem. He would say, "O Nimai Pandita, if only I had been born during Your time! Then I could have been Your student! Then I could have attained great learning! O Nimai Pandita, please just once enter my heart! You are in truth the Supreme Brahman. If this were not so, then how could these wonderful logical arguments have entered Your intelligence? You are in truth Lord Hari with a fair complexion. How can this not be? You created the most wonderful logical arguments. You destroyed the blinding darkness of ignorance. Now is especially the time of blinding ignorance. You are fair and effulgent. You throw the darkness of ignorance far away. You are Lord Hari Himself. How can this not be? You enchanted the minds of the entire world. With Your logical arguments You have certainly enchanted my mind." Again and again speaking words like these, Vrajanatha became like a madman. He called out, "O Nimai Pandita! O Gaura-Hari! Please be merciful to me!" He called out, "When will I be able to make logical arguments like Yours? Please be merciful to me, so I can become a most powerful scholar of the nyaya-sastra!"

Vrajanatha thought, "The worshippers of Gaura-Hari must be attracted to Him as I am, because of His great skill in logic. I must see if they have any books about logic written by Him. Thinking in this way, Vrajanatha decided to associate with the devotees of Lord Gauranga."


(Rudradvipa, to be continued…)