The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Antardvipa


BY: SUN STAFF - 21.6 2019

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur at Sridhama Mayapur

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 13.


In our last segment we read the narration from Bhakti Ratnakara of Lord Brahma's prayer to the Lord, that He appear in Nadia during Kali Yuga. Today we offer another narration of that transcendental exchange, this one from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, told in the words of Nityananda Prabhu:

"Sri Jiva said, "O Lord, what is the reason for the name Antardvipa?"

Nityananda Prabhu answered, "At the end of Dvapara-yuga, Brahma undertook austerities here with a desire to achieve Gauranga's mercy. Brahma had tried to deceive Govinda by stealing the cowherd boys and calves, but when he saw he was defeated by his own tricks, he became miserable and regretted his offense. He entreated Krishna with many prayers, and Krishna forgave him. But later, Brahma considered, `Thinking that I am the creator of the universe is useless. Simply because of this fault I have been deprived of krishna-prema and enjoyment of the rasas of Vrindavana. If I could have taken birth as a cowherd boy, I could have easily served the master of the gopis. Although I was not able to achieve the nectar of those pastimes, now, when Gauranga appears, I will not fall prey to my wicked mind!'

Thinking like this, Brahma began meditating and performing austerities in Antardvipa. After many days, Gauracandra mercifully came and said, `O Brahma, I am satisfied with your austerities. I have come to fulfill your desire.'

When Brahma opened his eyes, he saw Gauranga and fell to the earth unconscious. The Lord put His foot on Brahma's head, and Brahma was enlightened with transcendental knowledge and began to pray. `I am a low and worthless wretch, controlled by pride. Forgetting Your lotus feet, I have turned to material sense gratification. I myself, Lord Siva, and the demigods headed by Indra are Your subjugated servants. This is written in scripture. But we are not so fortunate as Your pure servants, and thus maya covers us with the net of illusion. The first one hundred trillion years of my life have passed and I have been forced to realize this at last. How will I spend the second one hundred trillion years of my life? If I remain in illusion, I will simply suffer. My only prayer is that I may become Your associate when You manifest Your pastimes. Having given up the illusion that I am the creator, I want to take birth in Your association and sing Your glories.'

Hearing Brahma's prayers, Lord Gauranga benedicted him saying, `So be it. When My pastimes become visible on earth, you will take birth in a yavana's house. Your name will be Haridasa Thakura, and you will be famous for your humility and completely free from all pride. You will chant three hundred thousand names a day, and when you pass from this world you will be seeing Me. And at the end of the second one hundred trillion years of your life, you will attain Navadvipa-dhama and be absorbed in eternal rasa.

Brahma, hear these secret (antara) words, but do not reveal this openly in the scriptures. Taking the role of a devotee, I will taste the nectar of bhakti-rasa and propagate the most rare process of sankirtana. I will make the devotees of all the previous avataras drunk with the nectar of Vrindavana. The love that Sri Radhika possesses is beyond My experience, so I will appear with Her sentiments and complexion. Taking the position of Radha, I will taste that happiness that only Radha obtains in serving Me. From today, act as My disciple and, in the form of Haridasa, always serve Me.'

Saying this, Gauranga became invisible, and Brahma fell to the ground unconscious. "`O Gauranga! Friend of the poor, dear to the devotees. when will I attain Your lotus feet?' he cried. In this way he wept for many days and then returned to his duties in Brahmaloka." Desiring only to attain the lotus feet of Nitai and Jahnava, this low, worthless, and useless Bhaktivinoda sings this glorification of Nadia."

(Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, Parikrama-khanda, Chapter Five - Sri Mayapur and Antardvipa)

The above passage from Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya is prefaced by another in Chapter Five, in which Lord Nityananda informs Srila Jiva about the disappearance and future re-discovery of Antardvipa and Navadvipa dham:

"All glories to Sri Caitanya, the son of Saci! All glories to Nityananda the life of Jahnava! All glories to Navadvipa, the topmost dhama where Gauranga advented in Kali-yuga.

Nityananda Prabhu began speaking, "Listen to My words. Navadvipa extends over sixteen krosas. Within the sixteen krosas of Navadvipa, which are nondifferent from Vrindavana, there are nine islands, which form an eight-petaled lotus floating on the water. In the middle of the eight islands, or petals, lies Antardvipa. And within Antardvipa, lies the very central point, Mayapur. The eternal pastimes of Lord Caitanya take place within Yogapitha and the circle of Mayapur, the circumference of which measures three and a half miles and the diameter measures just over one mile. Because the Panca-tattva are seated at the Yogapitha, it is the most glorious of all places.

By the desire of the Lord, this will soon be nearly hidden under the waters of the Ganges. Then later, by the powerful desire of the Lord, the dhama will again be revealed and shine effulgently. The eternal dhama is never really lost but is temporarily covered, and then again it appears to our eyes. [ ]

East of Mayapur, the land is known as Antardvipa. By the Lord's desire this place will remain uninhabited for a long time. Then later, people will again live there, and it will be famous as one of the glories of Nadia. Jiva, today stay in Mayapur and tomorrow we will go to Simantadvipa."

Hearing this, Jiva then said, "One question has arisen. Please listen. When Gangadevi again uncovers Mayapur, by what signs will the devotees be able to rediscover the concealed sites?"

Hearing this, Nityananda Prabhu answered with nectarlike words, "Listen, Jiva, when the Ganges covers this place, one corner of Mayapur will remain intact. Many yavanas will take up residence there, yet the name will remain Mayapur. About one thousand meters southwest of the remaining place, one will see a slightly raised area covered with vegetation. That will indicate Jagannatha Misra's house. Ten meters from there is the Vriddha Siva temple. From such measurement one will be able to discern everything. A pond called Siva-doba will be seen, indicating the previous bank of the Ganges. In this way, by the Lord's wish, the devotees will reveal the lost places. Know this for certain. At the end of four hundred years, the task of recovering the lost tirthas will begin."

(Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, Parikrama-khanda, Chapter Five - Sri Mayapur and Antardvipa)

The subject of the hidden presence and re-discovery of the dham is also discussed in the article, "The Prediction of Thakura Vrndavana Dasa" from 'The Full Moon of the Advent of Lord Gauranga', published in The Harmonist, Vol. 15, March 31, 1935:

"We have dealt with the question of the identification of the geographical site of the birth of Sri Caitanya from the antiquarian's point of view, in a previous number of this journal. In another article we tried to explain why the circumambulation of the Holy Site possesses an abiding spiritual value for all persons.

The identification of many of the sites has been rendered comparatively easy by the survival of the old place names. This is as was to be expected in the case of a place which is only four centuries old. In the Bhakti-ratnakara we find the corroboration, from on old source of the truth of the relative positions of these locally recognizable sites. As we pointed out in the previous article the actual Site of Birth of the Lord is definitely remembered by the inhabitants to the present day. The memory of the Holy Site has been further preserved by the growth of many an interesting legend round the site. This also was noticed in the article referred to.

As soon as we are thus enabled to identify the Site of the 'House of God' to quote the language of Bhakti-ratnakara, we can follow and identify the details of the route of circumambulation given in that work of Sridhama Navadvipa by Srinivasa Acarya in the company of Isana Thakura who was in charge of the household of the Lord shortly after His disappearance. The places visited were Atopura adjoining Mayapura which, said Thakura Isana, formerly bore the name of Antardvipa. The place bearing locally the designation of Atopura did not disappear in the bed of the Bhagirathi till quite recently. It adjoined the identified Site of Mayapura. On leaving the 'House of God' Isana Thakura pointed out to his companion the ancient site of Suvarnabihar which could be seen in the distance from the neighborhood of the 'House of God,' This agrees perfectly with the position the site as identified. It may be noted in this connection that the ancient 'mound of Suvarnabihar is a prominent object as seen from a place adjoining the 'House of God' and even the most casual observer was not likely to miss the sight. The almost dramatic suddenness with which the historic mound burst on the view of the observer as he left the 'House of God' could not fail to excite curiosity in those days when the magnificent old ruins were still intact. The Kholobhanga- danga i.e. the mound where the khol of the first chanters of kirtana was broken is easily identifiable from the narrative, of the Caitanya-bhagavata with the yard of Srinivasa."