The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Saptagrama

BY: SUN STAFF - 27.2 2020

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 135.

While Saptagrama was known during Lord Chaitanya's lila as a great mercantile center -- a "pound, shilling and pence community" -- it is most famously known for the ambrosial pastimes of Nityananda Prabhu. In today's segment, we will focus on narrations of these super-excellent pastimes. In Sri Bhakti Ratnakara (chapter twelve), Srila Narahari Cakravarti Thakur writes this about Sri Nityananda's pastimes in Saptagrama:

"After spending a few days in Khardaha, Prabhu Nityananda went to the house of Uddharana Datta in Saptagrama. Uddharana Datta became the most fortunate man, having attained the association of Prabhu Nityananda and His followers. When the residents of Saptagrama heard of Prabhu's arrival in their village, they rushed to meet him. Nityananda Prabhu became ecstatically absorbed in sankirtana and divine happiness filled the house of Uddharana. Everyone loudly chanted, "Haribol, Haribol." The people of Saptagrama received such mercy from Nityananda that their faith in His lotus feet became firmly fixed."

In Chapter Five of the Antya-lila of Chaitanya Bhbagavat, the pastimes of Lord Nityananda at Saptagrama are described as follows:

"Lord Nityananda stayed on in Kardaha for a few days and then left with His followers to the village of Saptagrama. In this village, the famous seven sages (sapta rsis) performed severe austerities sitting on the bank of the Ganga, and finally attained the lotus feet of Krishna, Govinda. This place is known throughout the universe as Triveni ghat. The three most holy rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati confluence as this spot. The mere act of seeing this place purifies one of all sins. Lord Nityananda and His associates bathed there feeling sublime joy. From there they went to Uddharana Datta's house, also situated on the banks of the Ganga and sojurned for a few days.

Sri Uddharana datta received the Lord with great love and reverence and worshiped Him with all his heart, body and words. In this way, Sri Uddharana datta inherited the transcendental fortune to serve Lord Nityananda, who is the Supreme Lord eternally for His servitor Sri Uddharana datta. And because of Sri Uddharana Datta, the entire community of traders became purified, of this there is no doubt. It was as if Lord Nityananda had advented specifically to deliver this community and elevate them to receive loving devotional service of the Supreme Lord.

Lord Nityananda spent all His time going from one trader's house to another performing congregational chanting of the holy name. The traders' families surrendered fully at the Lord's feet, taking His shelter. It was a rare and amazing sight to see how this inherently pound, shilling and pence community responded so spontaneously to the process of pure devotional service to Lord Krishna. This clearly indicates the unlimited potency of Lord Nityananda that He could imbue in this materialistic and ignorant community the urge for self-realization. The Lord tirelessly kept up an enthusiastic sankirtana with His associates as long as He stayed in Saptagrama. His sankirtana pastimes here will take more than a thousand years to fully describe.

The blissful feelings that one experienced in sankirtana here in Saptagram reminded everyone of their ecstacy in Nabadwip sankirtana. People and devotees were so surcharged with the holy names that they ignored eating and sleeping. The whole village resounded with the holy name. Lord Nityananda led the sankirtana to every home through all the streets and localities of Saptagrama. And when the people beheld the Lord's dancing form, it was impossible for anyone to check himself from swooning in joy. What to speak of others, even a meat-eating Muslim, who generally do not believe in Lord Visnu, Krishna, was moved to tears of ecstacy, so much so that a brahmana derided himself for not being able to match his devotion. All glory to Lord Nityananda, whose mercy can make the impossible possible. The days in Saptagram passed amidst such miracles and ecstacy, and Lord Nityananda was its main actor."

Finally, we have this beautiful passage from Shri Krishna Chaitanya-carita Mahakavya by Srila Murari Gupta:

(The Joyous Meeting of Nityananda and Advaita)

panihata puram ramya / raghava-pandita-gham
pranamanta dvija krodi-ktva praha maha-sukhi 3

panihatam puram - the town of Panihata; ramyam - charming; raghava-pandita-gham - house of Raghava Panita; pranamantam - offering obeisances; dvijam - the brahmana; krodi-ktva - having embraced; praha - He said; maha-sukhi - the very happy Person.

When Nityananda arrived in the charming town of Panihata, He went to the house of Raghava Panita. That brahmana offered prostrated obeisances before Him, and Nityananda very jubilantly embraced him to His heart and said:

raghava kuru shighra me / su-vasita-jalair api
abhieka candanadi-pupalankaranadina 4

raghava - O Raghava; kuru - perform; shighram - quickly; me - my; su-vasita-jalaih - with sweetly scented water; api - also; abhiekam - sacred bath; candana - sandalwood pulp; adi - beginning with; pupa-alankarana-adina - with flowers, ornaments and so on.

"O Raghava, with great haste perform My sacred bath with sweetly scented water. Anoint My body with scents such as sandalwood pulp and decorate Me with flower-ornaments and so forth.

bhuanaish ca tvaya karyya / mad-anga-parimandanam 5

svarna - gold; raupya - silver; pravala - coral; adi - headed by; mani-mukta - gems and pearls; adi - and so forth; nirmitaih - made from; bhuanaih - ornaments; ca - and; tvaya - by you; karyam - duty; mat-anga - my body; parimandanam - full decorating.

"You must fully decorate My body with ornaments of gold, silver, coral, gems and pearls. This is your duty.

yena me prana-nathasya / gaura-candrasya sarvvada
sac-cid-ananda-purnasya / purno manoratho bhavet 6

yena - by which; me - my; prana-nathasya - of the Lord of my life; gaura-candrasya - of the Golden Moon; sarvada - always; sat-cit-ananda-purnasya - filled with eternity, knowledge and bliss; purnah - fulfilled; mana-rathah - desire; bhavet - it may be.

"Through this expedient, I shall begin to fulfill the desire of My Lord Gaura Candra to spread the holy name throughout Bengal! His body is eternal, cognizant and blissful, and He is the Lord of My life."

shrutva sarvva shighram eva / karayitva janair dvijah
su-gandhi-payasa sura-dirghikaya mudanvitah 7

snapayitva sannimajya / bhuayitva ca bhuanaih
gandha-candana-pupaish ca / nanama bhuvi dandavat 8

shrutva - hearing; sarvam - all; shighram - swiftly; eva - indeed; karayitva - arranged; janaih - with the people; dvijah - the brahmana; su-gandhi-payasa - with very fragrant water; sura-dirghikayah - of the celestial Ganga; muda-anvitah - filled with joy; snapayitva - bathed; sannimajya - immersing; bhuayitva - ornamented; ca - and; bhuanaih - with decorations; gandha-candana-pupaih - with scented oils, sandalwood and flowers; ca - and; nanama - he bowed down; bhuvi - on the earth; danda-vat - like a rod.

Upon hearing all these instructions, the brahmana speedily accomplished them with aid of the people of the town. With much joy he immersed the transcendental body of Shri Nityananda in sweetly fragrant water from the river of the gods. After decorating Him with ornaments and anointing Him with scented oils, candana and flowers, Raghava Panita bowed before Him, falling down like a rod to the ground.

sarvvalankara-sayukto / reje nanda-suto yatha
baladevah svaya capi / svaya gopala-rupa-dhk 9

sarva - all; alankara-sayuktah - with ornaments; reje - He shone; nanda-sutah - the son of Nanda; yatha - as; bala-devah - the mighty God; svayam - Himself; ca - and; api - actually; svayam - spontaneously; gopala-rupa-dhk - accepting the form of a cowherd.

Thus fully adorned, Nityananda shone like Baladeva, the son of Nanda Himself. By His own wish He appeared there in His original form as a gopala.

shridamadyah sakha ye ca / vraja-gopala-rupinah
vashi-venu-vianadyair / alankaraish ca manditah 10

shri-rama-sundara-gauri-dasadyah kirttana-priyah
viharanti sada nityananda-sange mahattamah 11

shridama-adyah - headed by Shridama; sakhah - the boyfriends; ye - who; ca - and; vraja-gopala-rupinah - having the forms of cowherds; vashi-venu-viana-adyaih - by vashi and venu flutes, buffalo-horns and so on; alankaraih - with decorations; ca - and; manditah - ornamented; shri-rama-sundara; gauri-dasa; adyah - headed by; kirtana-priyah - lovers of kirtana; viharanti - enjoyed; sada - continuously; nityananda - the original form of a devotee; sange - in the association of; mahattamah - very great souls.

Shri Rama, Sundarananda, Gauridasa and others, who dearly loved to chant the names of Hari, also accepted the forms of the gopala-sakhas of Vraja, headed by Shridama. Decorated by the ornaments of the vashi and venu flutes, as well as bugles made of buffalo-horns and other paraphernalia of cowherd boys, those great souls took continuous delight in Nityananda's company.

eva sa bhagavan ramas / taih sarddha jahnavi-jale
kridan tandavam asadya / sva-bhaktana ghe ghe 12

evam - thus; sah - He; bhagavan - the all-opulent Lord; ramah - Nityananda; taih - with them; sardham - in company; jahnavi-jale - in the water of the Jahnavi (Ganga); kridan - sporting; tandavam - ecstatic dancing; asadya - taking to; sva-bhaktanam - of His devotees; ghe ghe - home to home.

Bhagavan Rama played with His sakhas in the waters of the Jahnavi. Then dancing with immense ecstasy, He wandered from home to home to visit all His bhaktas.

ramamanah sukhenapi / gadadhara-gha yayau
gopi-bhavena purna sa / dtva ta prema-vihvalah 13

ramamanah - enjoying; sukhena - joyously; api - very; gadadhara - the personified energy of devotion; gham - to the house; yayau - He went; gopi-bhavena - with the mood of a gopi; purnam - filled; sah - he; dtva - seeing; tam - Him; prema-vihvalah - overwhelmed by love.

Thus He enjoyed with great delight. He next visited the home of Gadadhara Dasa. Just by seeing Gadadhara and appreciating his gopi-bhava, Nityananda became flooded by emotions of prema.

agatah kirttananandah / sapta-gramakhyaka puram
tri-veni-tiram asadya / gauranga-guna-kirttane 14

agatah - came; kirtana-anandah - in the bliss of kirtana; sapta-grama-akhyakam puram - the town named Sapta Grama; tri-veni-tiram - the bank of the Triveni, the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati; asadya - reaching; gauranga-guna-kirtane - in the chanting of the qualities of Gauranga.

Absorbed in kirtana-bliss, they came to the town named Sapta Grama and went to the bank of the Triveni while singing songs of Gauranga's qualities.

nanartta paramananda / gopi-bhava pradarshayan
nityanando 'pi gauranga-kirttanananda-dayakah 15

ktva tasmin mahollasa / purandara-gha yayau
tasya prema-rasenapi / ktva tasya sukha ca sah 16

nanarta - He danced; parama-anandam - transcendental joy; gopi-bhavam - moods of the gopis; pradarshayan - showing; nityanandah - the original form of a devotee; api - also; gauranga-kirtana-ananda - of the joy of Gauranga-kirtana; dayakah - bestower; ktva - having done; tasmin - in that; maha-ullasam - great splendor and joy; purandara-gham - the home of Purandara; yayau - He went; tasya - His; prema-rasena - by His loving mellows; api - also; ktva - made; tasya - his; sukham - happiness; ca - and; sah - He.

Gadadhara Dasa danced, displaying the supreme ecstasy of the gopis. Then Shri Nityananda, bestower of the bliss of Gauranga-kirtana, having created great delight in that place, went to the house of Purandara. There He satisfied that person's heart by His mellows of prema.

yatra saptarayah sarvve / smaranti bhavatah padam
mukta-veni-tayakhyata / vadanti veda-paragah 17

yatra - where; sapta-ayah - the seven sages; sarve - all; smaranti - remember; bhavatah - of ecstasy; padam - the feet (of Narayana); mukta-veni-taya - by the releasing of the rivers; akhyatam - known; vadanti - they say; veda-paragah - persons learned in the Vedas.

Persons conversant in the Vedas have named that place where the currents mingle Mukta-veni. There all the seven sages contemplate the transcendental abode of all ecstasy, which is the lotus feet of Narayana.

ganga-yamunayosh caiva / sarasvatyash ca sarvvada
pravahash ca vadanti sma / tad-darshana-mahotsavah 18

ganga-yamunayoh - of the Ganga and Yamuna; ca - and; eva - indeed; sarasvatyah - of the Sarasvati; ca - and; sarvada - always; pravahah - currents; ca - and; vadanti - they say; sma - indeed; tat - that; darshana - sight; maha-utsavah - they felt greatly festive.

Sages say that the currents of the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati eternally flow there, and the sight of that spot causes great jubilation to the pilgrims.

nara mukta bhavanti hi / snatva va smaranad api
harau bhakti ca vindanti / sarvva-duhkha-vinashinim 19

narah - men; muktah - liberated; bhavanti - become; hi - certainly; snatva - bathing; va - or; smaranat - by remembering; api - even; harau - to Hari; ca - and; bhaktim - devotion; ca - and; vindanti - achieve; sarva-duhkha-vinashinim - destroying all grief.

Simply by bathing there or even remembering that place, men attain liberation, achieve devotion to Shri Hari, and nullify all distress.

nityananda-prabhus tatra / vanijan tu ghe ghe
karoti kna-chaitanya-nama-sankirttana mahat 20

nityananda-prabhuh - the Lord who displays unending bliss; tatra - there; vanijan - amongst the merchants; tu - indeed; ghe ghe - home to home; karoti - did; kna-chaitanya-nama-sankirtanam - the chanting of Krishna Chaitanya's names; mahat - great.

Wandering from house to house amongst the merchants of that town, Nityananda Prabhu performed a great sankirtana of the names of Shri Krishna Chaitanya.

yatha sankirttana-sukha / navadvipe bhavet pura
nityananda-prasadena / tad evatra sukha param 21

yatha - as; sankirtana - congregational chanting; sukham - the happiness of; navadvipe - in Navadvipa; bhavet - could take place; pura - before; nityananda - who is ever-blissful; prasadena - by the mercy of; tat - that; eva - indeed; ca - and; atra - in this place; sukham - happiness; param - supreme.

Just as the joy of sankirtana was previously displayed in Navadvipa, that joy was also supremely victorious at Tri-veni by the mercy of Nityananda.

(Shri Krishna Chaitanya-carita Mahakavya, Fourth Prakrama, Twenty-second Sarga)