The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Ambika-Kalna


BY: SUN STAFF - 7.6 2019

Vaisnava Kirtanyas
Terracotta sculpture, Pratapeswar Temple, Ambika Kalna

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 6.

Next on the list in the Jaiva Dharma 'Glossary of Places' is Ambika-Kalna, about which Srila Bhaktivinoda writes:

"Ambika-Kalna - a place about 30 km south of the present city of Navadvipa. This is where Sri Gauridasa Pandita, Sri Hrdaya Caitanya, Sri Paramananda Gupta, and Sri Suryadasa Pandita lived. It is situated on the west bank of the Ganga directly across from Santipura, where Sri Advaita Acarya lived. Sriman Mahaprabhu used to visit the house of Gauridasa Pandita in Kalna."

In Jaiva Dharma Chapter 7 we find the first mention of Ambika-Kalna, in the story of Candi das and his wife Damayanti. They had saved up their wealth to give to their eldest son, but their greedy offspring could not wait, and plotted a way to steal it from their parents:

Nitya-dharma O Samsar - Eternal Duties, Household Life, and the Material World:

"One day Candi dasa called together his sons and said, "Look. By living frugally since childhood, I have accumulated some wealth for your sakes. For all this time your mother and I have not eaten good food or dressed in nice clothing. Now we are growing old and you should take care of us. That is your duty. However, I see that you are not inclined to take care of us, and that has made me very sad. I have some wealth hidden away, and I will give to whomever amongst you acts like a good son.

Hearing these words, the sons and their wives became silent. Meeting in another place, they all decided that the best thing would be to send father and mother far away and then take the hidden money, for there was no saying to whom the old man would wrongly give it. All were sure the wealth was hidden in the father's bedroom.

The father's eldest son was name Nari-carana. One morning he said to his father, "Father, you and mother should go and see Sridhama Navadvipa. In that way your human life will be successful. I have heard that in the age of Kali no holy place is sacred and auspicious like Navadvipa. To travel to Navadvipa is neither difficult nor expensive. If you cannot walk, for two panas a boat can take you there. If you wish, a Vaisnava lady is willing to accompany you there.

Candi dasa consulted with his wife, Damayanti. She was very happy. The two talked. "Your words the other day brought our sons to their senses. We are not so weak that we cannot walk. Passing through Kalna and Santipura, let us go to Sridhama Navadvipa."

Noting an auspicious day, the two began their pilgrimage. Walking and walking, on the next day they came to Ambika. Staying there at a merchant's place, they cooked and ate their meal. A man from Saptagrama came there and told them, "Your sons broke into your room and took all your belongings. They will not allow you to return home. They have taken all your hidden wealth."

Hearing this, Candi dasa and his wife lamented greatly. On that day they would not eat. They wept and wept. The Vaisnava lady accompanying them said, "Don't be attached to your home. Continue travelling. Renounce the world. Meet the Vaisnavas. They for whom you have done so much have now become your enemies. Now you cannot return home. Continue travelling. You can stay in Navadvipa. By begging you can eat. All will be well."

Hearing of what their sons and daughters-in-law had done, Candi dasa and his wife said again and again, "We will not return home. It is better that we give up our lives. That would be best."

After that they stayed at the home of a Vaisnava in Ambika-grama. After two or four days they went to see Santipura and then they went to Navadvipa."

In Chapter 9 of Jaiva Dharma Srila Bhaktivinoda tells the story of Digambara, a childhood friend of Advaita dasa (previously known as Lahiri Mahasaya). Digambara came from Ambika to visit, leveling a complaint that Advaita was not being social enough, but was keeping too much to himself:

Nitya-dharma O Prakrta-vijnan Evam Sabhyata - Eternal Religion and Modern Science-Civilisation:

"Advaita dasa said, "My brother, come in. Come in." Digambara sat on a leaf-seat. Tears of love glistened in his eyes. He said, "Dear brother Kalidasa, where shall I go? Now you are sannyasi and you have given up duties and demigods. How hopeful I was when I first came from Punjab. Our boyhood friends: Pesa, Pagla, Khenda, Girisa, Ise Pagla, Dhana Mayara, Kele Chutor, Kanti Bhattacarji, all have died. Only you and I remain. I thought some days I would cross the Ganges and visit you at Santipura and other days you would cross the Ganges and visit me at Ambika. In the few days that remain for us, we would sing together and study the Tantras together. Alas, bad luck has struck my head. You have become a bullheaded fool, useless in this world and the next. Look at yourself. Tell me: How has this happened to You?"

Advaita dasa could see that this person was very bad company. He began to think how he could escape the hands of his childhood friend."

Advaita's explanation for his position was met by Digambara's glorification of Goddess Durga (Ambika is a name for Durga) and his prompt departure, which allowed Advaita das to return to chanting the Holy Names of Lord Hari.

The tirtha known as Ambika-kalna (or kalana) and the city of Ambika in Vardhamana district were known as Ambuya-muluka during the Mughal occupation. (Antya 2.15-16 Purport)

Ambika-kalna is mentioned several times in Caitanya-caritamrta, in the Adi and Antya lilas. Pradyumna Brahmacari lived in Kalna at one time, as described in the Antya-lilas of Caitanya-caritamrta and Caitanya-bhagavata. (Cc Adi 10.59 Purport)

As Srila Bhaktivinoda states above, Gauridasa Pandita also lived in Ambika-kalna and Lord Caitanya used to visit him here. In Adi lila 10.53 we read that Srila Gadadhara's samadhi is in the nearby village of Endiyadaha, where it was under the care of Siddha Bhagavan dasa Babaji of Kalna. And in the Bhaktivedanta Purport to Adi lila 11.26 we find a detailed description of the locale of Ambika-Kalna:

"It is said that Gauridasa Pandita was always patronized by King Krsnadasa, the son of Harihoda. Gauridasa Pandita lived in the village of Saligrama, which is situated a few miles from the railway station Mudagacha, and later he came to reside in Ambika-kalana. It is stated in the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, verse 128, that formerly he was Subala, one of the cowherd boyfriends of Krsna and Balarama in Vrndavana. Gauridasa Pandita was the younger brother of Suryadasa Sarakhela, and with the permission of his elder brother he shifted his residence to the bank of the Ganges, living there in the town known as Ambika-kalana. [ ]

The village Ambika-kalana, which is situated just across the river Ganges from Santipura, is two miles east of the Kalana-korta railway station, on the eastern railway. In Ambika-kalana there is a temple constructed by the Zamindar of Burdwan. In front of the temple there is a big tamarind tree, and it is said that Gauridasa Pandita and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu met underneath this tree. The place where the temple is situated is known as Ambika, and because it is in the area of Kalana, the village is known as Ambika-kalana. It is said that a copy of the Bhagavad-gita written by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu still exists in this temple."

(Cc Adi 11.26 Purport)

(Ambika-kalna to be continued…)