The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Agradvipa


By editor - 30.5 2019

Painting of Agradvipa by Sita Ram, c. 1820 
British Library Collection

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 2.

At the end of Jaiva Dharma, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur included a 'Glossary of Places', which lists sixty-six holy sites that are mentioned throughout the book, each with a brief description. Today we begin this series in earnest with the village of Agradvipa, about which Srila Bhaktivinoda writes:

"Agradvipa - a town about six miles south of Katoya (Katwa). It is situated on the west side of the Ganga, about 26 miles northwest of Mayapura, in the Barddhaman district. Sri Govinda, Sri Madhava, and Sri Vasudeva Ghosa lived here. The samadhi of Sri Govinda Ghosa is located in Agradvipa. Govinda Ghosa Thakura established the Deity of Sri Gopinatha on the east bank of the Ganga near Agradvipa."

The ancient village of Agradvipa is pictured above. The artist, Sita Ram describes the scene on the painting's verso:

"Agradip ('Agradvipa') the 'old island' as opposed to Navadvipa (Nadia), the 'new island' is 25 miles upstream from the latter."

In Chapter 10 of Jaiva Dharma Agradvipa is mentioned:

Nitya-dharma O Itihasa - Eternal Religion and History

"A doubt arose in the mind of Sri Harihara Bhattacarya, a teacher who lived in Agradvipa. He discussed it with some people, but his doubt would not go away. It troubled his mind more and more. One day, when he was in the village of Arkatila, he asked Sri Caturbhuja Nyayaratna, "O saintly Bhattacarya, please tell me: How old is the Vaisnava religion?" Harihara Bhattacarya is an initiated Vaisnava and he worships Lord Krsna in his home. Nyayaratna Mahasaya has pursued twenty years of laborious study. He was not interested in any religion. He did not like talking about religion. Only when Goddess Durga was worshipped would he show a slight religious sentiment. Harihara's question made him think, "this Harihara must be a supporter of Vaisnavism. He could get me in some trouble. It is best to keep trouble away." Thinking in this way, Nyayaratna Mahasaya said, "What kind of question is this today? You have read many books. You even read the Muktipada. Look, in the whole of nyaya-sastra there is no mention of the Vaisnava religion. Why do you annoy me with this question?"

After a lengthy passage on the circumstance, this narration concludes with an answer to the Bhattacarya's question:

"When the Vaisnavas were all seated comfortably, Nyayaratna Mahasaya asked, "First consider, and then speak: Is the Vaisnava religion ancient or modern?"

Following the saintly paramahamsa babaji's wish, Vaisnava dasa spoke. He said, "The Vaisnava religion is eternal. It always existed.'"

Sri Gopinatha in His Agradvipa Abode 
[Photo: ]


The village of Agradvipa is famously mentioned many places in Vaisnava literature, including the Adi and Madhya lilas of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta , particularly in relationship to the Ghosa brothers, and the Gopinath temple established by brother Govinda in Agradvipa. While Vaishnavatala is said to be the birthplace of Govinda, he made his home at Agradvipa, in a house at Kashipura Vishnutala. Sri Srinivas Acharya was also born very close to Agradvipa, in the village of Cakhandi.

Caitanya Caritamrta Adi 10.115:

govinda, madhava, vasudeva----tina bhai
yan-sabara kirtane nace caitanya-nitai

The three brothers Govinda, Madhava and Vasudeva were the eighty-second, eighty-third and eighty-fourth branches of the tree. Lord Caitanya and Nityananda used to dance in their kirtana performances.

PURPORT: The three brothers Govinda, Madhava and Vasudeva Ghosa all belonged to a kayastha family. Govinda established the Gopinatha temple in Agradvipa, where he resided. Madhava Ghosa was expert in performing kirtana. No one within this world could compete with him. He was known as the singer of Vrndavana and was very dear to Sri Nityananda Prabhu. It is said that when the three brothers performed sankirtana, immediately Lord Caitanya and Nityananda would dance in ecstasy. According to the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (188), the three brothers were formerly Kalavati, Rasollasa and Gunatunga, who recited the songs composed by Sri Visakha-gopi. The three brothers were among one of the seven parties that performed kirtana when Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu attended the Ratha-yatra festival at Jagannatha Puri. Vakresvara Pandita was the chief dancer in their party. This is vividly described in the Madhya-lila, Chapter Thirteen, verses 42 and 43.

Caitanya Caritamrta Adi 11.14-15:

nityanande ajna dila yabe gaude yaite
mahaprabhu ei dui dila tanra sathe
ataeva dui-gane dunhara ganana
madhava-vasudeva ghoserao ei vivarana

When Nityananda Prabhu was ordered to go to Bengal to preach, these two devotees [Sri Ramadasa and Gadadhara dasa] were ordered to go with Him. Thus they are sometimes counted among the devotees of Lord Caitanya and sometimes among the devotees of Lord Nityananda. Similarly, Madhava Ghosa and Vasudeva Ghosa belonged to both groups of devotees simultaneously.

PURPORT: Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura writes in his Anubhasya, "There is a place named Danihata, near the Agradvipa railway station and Patuli in the district of Burdwan, where the Deity of Sri Gopinathaji is still situated. This Deity accepted Govinda Ghosa as His father. Even until today, the Deity performs the sraddha ceremony on the anniversary of the death of Govinda Ghosa. The temple of this Deity is managed by the raja-vamsa family of Krsnanagara, whose members are descendants of Raja Krsnacandra. Every year in the month of Vaisakha, when there is a baradola ceremony, this Gopinatha Deity is taken to Krsnanagara. The ceremony is performed with eleven other Deities, and then Sri Gopinathaji is brought back to the temple in Agradvipa."

The village of Krsnanagara, where Sri Gopinathji travels to, is also one of the places Srila Bhaktivinoda resided. He writes:

"I transferred to Krsnanagar in the district of Nadia according to an order dated the 15th of November 1887. I will tell you the true reason why. I recovered from my head ailment and I studied the devotional literature a lot. While in the association of some bhaktas I began to become renounced in mind."

(Svalikhita-jivani, Part 14)

And again in Madhya lila we read about the famous fair of Lord Gopinath in Agradvipa:

Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya 11.88:

govinda, madhava ghosa, ei vasu-ghosa
tina bhaira kirtane prabhu payena santosa

"Here also are Govinda Ghosa, Madhava Ghosa and Vasudeva Ghosa. They are three brothers, and their sankirtana, congregational chanting, pleases the Lord very much.

PURPORT: Govinda Ghosa belonged to the kayastha dynasty of the Uttara-radhiya section, and he was known as Ghosa Thakura. Even to the present day there is a place named Agradvipa, near Katwa, where a fair takes place and is named after Ghosa Thakura."



Caitanya-caritamrta - Bhaktivedanta Book Trust