Mayapur ?All important holy places

January 15th, 2001

Mayapur

?All important holy places are situated in Navadvipa-dhama, and if there is any holy place that is not situated here, it has certainly lost all of its piety. Whatever is obtainable after spending one hundred years in places like Prayag, Ayodhya, Haridwara, Kasi, Kanci, Avanti, Puskara, etc., can be obtained by spending one night in Nabdvipa-dhama. One who walks through Navadvipa achieves with each step the merits of ten million asvamedha sacrifices? One never has to take birth again. Simply by eating the food grown in Navadvipa-dhama, one gets love of Godhead, and while one is sleeping one is offering dandavats (obeisances). By taking shelter of Navadvipa-dhama all souls easily cross over Kali-Yuga.? (Gauradesa, p.22)

Vraja Kumar, the building manager, is a great host?very competent, but soft-hearted. A real Vaishnava. Along with his wife he organizes and personally cooks our breakfast in the new kitchen adjacent to a small clean open-air prasadam hall that sits about fifty people and overlooks the Jalungi. We sit in rows facing each other behind small wood chokis (sit down tables) and are served a home-cooked breakfast that includes freshly baked German bread and fresh lettuce from the guesthouse gardens. It?s not quite yet Bengali fare?that will come?but we are eating as Vaishnavas, sitting together, being served nicely, and sharing krishna-prasadam.

These simple aspects of Vaishnava culture are so important for spiritual life, but unfortunately often rare in modern devotee life?especially in the West where the buffet style is prominent, and the traditional serve out, when done, is often by passionate and famished newer devotees.

Our parikram begins. We leave for the Yoga-Pitha, the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, which is just one kilometer down the road. We opt, however, for the scenic back path, so we can pass through the villages of Mayapur. Due to the long plane ride and the general spiritual malaise of Western living, I expect little from the group on the first day?especially in terms of wholehearted kirtan. I am wrong. There is not a single straggler here. The kirtan is full of enthusiasm and the fervor increases as we enter Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu?s birthplace.

A perfected soul has two manifestations in perfection: a siddha svaraupa, an eternal associate of Lord Krishna in Goloka Vrindaban, and a sadhaka rupa, a practitioner of Krishna consciousness in Navadvipa-dhama. The latter seems attainable. Chanting through the villages of Mayapur and entering the Yoga-Pitha, absorbed in nama-kirtan, we glimpse our eternal identity?associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, kirtaneers in Nabadvipa-dhama.

Thirty feet south of the appearance of Lord Caitanya, which is still marked by a neem tree, is a very small temple with two Siva-lingas. The smaller one on the left is Gopisvara-Siva. The larger one on the right is Ksetrapala-Siva, the protector of the dhama. At the beginning of Navadvipa parikram, devotees pray to these Deities to reveal the dhama and to manifest gaura-prema within their heart since Lord Siva is in charge of the false ego.

Our false egoist conception as the enjoyer and controller cover our understanding of God as the master and our identity as His servant, naturally impelling us into seeing everything as separate from Him. One thus imbued by false ego is naturally incapable of perceiving the abode of the Lord, which is directly the Lord?s internal potency, and moves singularly for His supremacy and pleasure. As Lord Siva protects the dhama from non-devotees by the covering of false ego, sincere pilgrims pray to Ksetrapal-Siva to help them access the glories of Sri Navadvipa-dhama. We take a moment of silent prayer and beg for a successful parikram.

250 meters from the Yoga-Pitha, on the Bhaktisiddhanta Marg, we enter Srivas-Angam, the house of Srivas Pandit, the place where the sankirtan movement began. The chanting explodes and we chant with abandon. It is a spiritual experience. Although the intensity of the kirtan increases, it does so without degrading into passion, as so often is the case when the youthful, or passionate, become enthusiastic in kirtan. I can?t help but feel our prayers at the Yoga-Pitha have been answered; the false ego is diminishing, we?re tasting the holy name, and the dhama is gradually being revealed.

I was in Vrindaban in 1976 when Srila Prabhupada asked the devotees to also attend the noon arati commenting that Vrindaban is meant for bhajan. Mayapur is also meant for bhajan. We therefore congregate in the late afternoon for more kirtan and to hear more gaura-lila. I read from Caitanya Bhagavat. We sit in rapt attention and hear how the sankirtan movement began in the very place that we chanted this morning.

I am so inspired by how things are going, I decide to book the guesthouse the same time next year for our pilgrimage. I am hoping that if devotees know the dates of the tour well in advance it will help them to makes plans to attend.

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