The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma


BY: SUN STAFF - 29.5 2019

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

Among the vast treasure house of Vaisnava literature produced by HDG Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Jaiva Dharma is one of the great jewels. It was published in 1893, when Srila Bhaktivinoda was 55 years of age. That same year he published Sokashatan and Sri Saranagati. In this series, we will explore the sixty-six holy dhams, tirthas and sacred places mentioned in Jaiva Dharma.

Written in Bengali, Jaiva Dharma has been characterised as a 'philosophical novel'. Comprised of 40 chapters, it was written in the form of a question and answer dialogue between a Vaishnava who has transcended varnashrama and a sannyasi who is very advanced in sastra. Their discussion illuminates the broad range of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy and upasana.

During a lecture in London on the Appearance day of Srila Bhaktivinoda, September 23, 1969, Srila Prabhupada said:

"Bhaktivinoda Thakura happens to be one of the acaryas, and he has left behind him many books. Caitanya-siksamrta and Jaiva Dharma are very important books. They are in Bengali and Sanskrit. And he has prepared many books of songs. We are trying to present Bhaktivinoda Thakura's books in English, and gradually you will get them. So our adoration, our worship is to Bhaktivinoda Thakura today so that he may bless us to peacefully make progress in Krsna consciousness. Acarya-upasana. Simply by the blessings of the acaryas we can make very rapid progress."

In a lecture on Caitanya-caritamrta, April 8, 1975 in Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada emphasized how important it is to be knowledgeable about the sacred places, and he specifically mentioned Jaiva Dharma in this regard:

"So especially in India, the atmosphere is very good. It is especially meant, within this universe, this plot of land known as Bharatavarsa, India, is the most sacred place within this universe. And of the whole land Bharatavarsa, in Bengal, it is very sacred. And the whole of Bengal, this Nadia is very sacred. And in the whole Nadia, this part is very sacred, Mayapura Candradoya Temple. So by Krsna's grace, you have got this opportunity to live here. Take advantage, full advantage of this opportunity, spiritually fortunate. This is the statement of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Not that I am manufacturing. We cannot manufacture anything, but we can repeat the words of our predecessors. Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in his Jaiva-Dharma, or in Caitanya-siksamrta, he has stated like that. In the Bharatavarsa, Bengal is the most important place, and in Bengal, the district Nadia is most important place, because Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared. Don't take it leniently. It is very serious thing that Bharatavarsa is meant for cultivation of Krsna consciousness. Unfortunately, the present leaders, they are misleading them. Anyway, you are fortunate. You take advantage of this cult of Krsna consciousness which was spoken by Krsna Himself, in this land of Bharatavarsa, dharma-ksetre kuru-ksetre samaveta yuyutsavah.

That kuruksetre is still existing. It is not a myth or mythology. The nonsense people, they may say like that, but Krsna is the supermost person both in history... Purana means history, itihasa purana. Saram saram samuddhrtam. Vyasadeva compiled the Srimad-Bhagavatam by collecting the most important news from history. Purana means old history. It is not mythology. The foolish people, they say like that, "Mythology means something created." No. Don't take it that way. It is the essence of important historical incidences, record. Mahabharata is also history. Maha means great, and bharata means this land. Actually it is a history. But foolish people, without understanding through the guru-parampara system, they manufacture their own way of understanding; therefore they are misled. They cannot take full advantage of this Vedic literature because they are misled. We should not be misled. We should know always that we are lame, pangoh. Just like a lame man cannot go very fast. But by the grace of Krsna, even a lame man can go fast--not only go fast, but cross over the mountain."

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

Taking Srila Prabhupada's instructions to heart, over the course of this series we will endeavour to explore the sixty-six holy places of Bharatavarsa -- in Bengal, Nadia and elsewhere -- as specially mentioned by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur in Jaiva Dharma, beginning the next segment with Agradvipa.