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Evidence from the Puranas
In this chapter, I will briefly present the references from the Puranas which glorify Navadvipa. First, I will present the references from the Shrimad Bhagavatam. The character of Prithu Maharaja is described in the Bhagavatam (4.21.11-12) as follows:
My dear Vidura, King Prithu lived in the tract of land between the two great rivers Ganges and Yamuna. Because he was very oppulent, it appeared that he was enjoying his destined fortune in order to diminish the results of his past pious activities. Maharaja Prithu was an unrivaled king and possessed the scepter for ruling all the seven islands on the surface of the globe. No one could disobey his irrevocable orders but the saintly persons, the brahmanas, and the descendants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead [the Vaishnavas].
A description of the earth planet is given:
Similarly the branch of the Ganges known as Alakananda flows from the southern side of Brahmapuri [Brahma-sadana]12 flows into the ocean of salt water in the south. (Bhag. 5.17.9)
Description of the Pilgrimage of Vidura:
Thus being pierced by arrows through his ears and afflicted to the core of his heart, Vidura placed his bow on the door and quit his brother's palace. He was not sorry, for he considered Mayapur to be supreme (and therefore decided to go there). (Bhag. 3.1.16)
He began to travel alone, thinking only of Krishna, through various lonely places He traveled where the air, hill, orchard, river and lake are all pure and sinless and where the forms of the Unlimited decorate the temples. Thus he performed the pilgrim's progress.
While so traversing the earth, he simply performed duties to pleases the Supreme Lord Hari. His occupation was pure and independent. He was constantly sanctified by taking his bath in holy places, although he was in the dress of a mendicant and had no hair dressing nor a bed on which to lie. Thus he was always unseen by his various relatives. (Bhag. 3.1.18-19)
O Lord, You are pure, therefore Your complexion is pure golden. You are situated in Your own abode Shri Navadvipa as Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined form of the energy and energetic. Maya is Your eternal potency. You, the independent and supremely pure Shri Gauranga, eternally reside in Mayapur, which is manifested by Your cit-shakti and is untouched by Your material energy. (Bhag. 4.7.26)
The method of worship appropriate for this yuga is described in these words (Bhag. 11.5.19,31-34): King Nimi inquired: “In what colors and forms does the Supreme Personality of Godhead appear in each of the different ages, and with what names and by what types of regulative principles is the Lord worshiped in human society?”
“O King, in this way people in Dvapara-yuga worshiped the Lord of the universe. In Kali-yuga they also worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead by the regulations of the revealed scriptures. Kindly now hear of that from me.
“In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions.”
“We offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Him, the Lord, upon whom one should always meditate. He destroys insults to His devotees. He removes the distresses of His devotees and satisfies their desires. He, the abode of all holy places and the shelter of all sages, is worshipable by Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma. He is the boat of the demigods for crossing the ocean of birth and death.” (Bhag. 11.5.33)
“We offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of the Lord, upon whom one should always meditate. He left His householder life, leaving aside His eternal consort, whom even the denizens of heaven adore. He went into the forest to deliver the fallen souls, who are put into illusion by material energy.” (Bhag. 11.5.34)
In the Vayu Purana as well, the Lord Himself speaks of His appearance, “In Kali-yuga I will appear in populated Navadvipa on the bank of the Ganges as the son of Shacidevi to begin the sankirtana movement. I will appear in a brahmana's house, in the best of the brahmana's family.”
In the Agni Purana, the following is said: “He will appear as Gauranga, and will be very peaceful, with a long neck, and surrounded by devatas, or devotees.”
In the Garusha Purana it is said: “In Kali-yuga, the devotees will give up all other holy places and reside in either Vrindavana or Navadvipa.”
The Skanda Purana says: “In Kali-yuga, anyone who takes shelter of Mayapur and worships Me will be freed of all sins and attain the highest goal. The glories of whatever tirthas are present throughout Navadvipa increase a million times in Kali-yuga. The glories of all tirthas increase by association with Gauranga just as the value of metal increases by association with a touchstone. Mayapur is none other than the spiritual energy of the Lord, yogamaya, which increases everyone's bliss.”
In the Garga-sanhita this place, which destroys all sins, is described in these words: “Maya comes from Gangadvara in Bilvanila-kshetra. It is fixed, filled with many places like Kushavarta, and situated in the middle of Dhruva-mandala. O king, attractive Maya-tirtha is one mile north of the Lord's temple. Mounted on a lion, the form of Lord Shiva's consort, Durga, or Bhadrakali, the killer of Canda and Munda and destroyer of miseries, resides there eternally. Whoever bathes at Maya-tirtha and worships Mayadevi obtains fulfillment of all his desires.”
In the Garga-sanhita Arjuna inquires about Prithu-kunda: “Please tell me, O son of Devaki, who owns this wonderful kunda, which is surrounded by golden creepers and filled with golden lotuses?”
The Lord said, “It belongs to the great King Prithu of the Surya dynasty, who in ancient times performed extreme austerities here. O Arjuna, if one drinks the water from this pond he is released of all sins, and if one bathes in its waters he goes to the supreme abode.”
In the north is situated Mathura, which fulfills all desires and is glorified in the Varaha and Vishnu Puranas. Mathura, situated in Simantadvipa, is glorified in the Padma Purana in the following words: “This Mathura is more auspicious than Vaikuntha, for simply by residing here for just one day a person develops devotion to the Lord!”
In the Vishnu Purana it is said: “O best of munis, on the twelfth day of the waxing moon in the month of Jyeshtha when the moon is in the constellation Mula, one who fasts, bathes in the water of the Yamuna, and worships Acyuta in Mathura obtains the result of performing an ashvamedha sacrifice.”
In the Varaha Purana, Varaha says, “O Vasundhara, in the heavenly, earthly, or hellish planetary systems there is no place dearer to Me than Mathura.”
Hearing the Lord speak, Prithvi, mother earth, bowed her head in respect and spoke the following pure words. Prithvi said, “O Lord, why do You ignore Pushkara, Naimisharanya, and Varanasi to praise only Mathura?”
Varaha answered, “O sinless earth, listen as I describe clearly everything. My birthplace, Mathura, is extremely pleasant and agreeable, and it is very dear to Me. Listen as I explain why I praise Mathura. This city destroys all sins, and whoever lives here obtains liberation. Whatever results men attain at Prayaga during the month of Magha are attained by the residents of Mathura every day. O mother earth, whatever results a person attains during the month of Kartika at Pushkara can be attained at Mathura every day. Whatever results a person can attain by residing in Varanasi for one thousand years can be attained at Mathura in one moment. That person who leaves Mathura due to being attracted to other places becomes bewildered by My external energy and wanders in the world of birth and death forever.
“Anyone who hears or speaks the glories of Mathura is freed from all sins. All the tirthas on earth, including the oceans and lakes, go to Mathura when Janardana goes to sleep. Even the lowest persons residing in Mathura attain the highest goal by My mercy. Of this there is no doubt.
“Yamuna, the sister of Yamaraja, is worshiped by all people. If a person bathes in the Yamuna River, he attains My supreme abode and becomes glorious.
“One who dies in Mathura after engaging in My service, without doubt attains a four-armed form and does not take birth on earth again.”
Vishrama-sthana, the place where Mahaprabhu rested after His kirtana, is described in the Varaha Purana as follows, “O Devi, if one bathes in the holy place called Vishranti, which is renowned in the three worlds, he will be glorified in My abode. The results that one obtains by bathing in all the tirthas can be obtained by seeing the Lord as He takes rest. O goddess, if a person bathes at Vishrama-tirtha, he obtains results that cannot be attained by performance of sacrifice, austerity, meditation, and yoga. A person who sees the Lord at rest and circumambulates Him twice in the morning, noon, and evening attains Vishnuloka. At Vishrama-tirtha there are twelve rare sacred places. If one takes bath, performs charity, japa, or sacrifice there, one gets results a thousand times increased. Even by remembering those places, a person becomes freed from all sin.”
Harihara-kshetra and Kashi-kshetra are described in these words: “Maha-Varanasi is the highest abode of Lord Shiva. Know that this place, which extinguishes all sin, is better than Kashi.”
In the Matysa Purana it is said: “Since one cannot get liberation except from the Lord, this place is called Avimukta. Whatever sins a man or woman may commit intentionally or unintentionally are turned to ashes on entering into Avimukta-kshetra. This place is greater than Tirtharaja Prayaga, because, living entities attain liberation here with very little effort.”
In the Linga Purana it is said: “If a killer of a brahmana enters Avimukta-kshetra, he will be freed from his sin by the power of this place, and if a person lives in this place he attains a position similar to my own.”
In the Brahma Purana it is said: “Whoever enters Avimukta-kshetra and worships a linga will not take birth in this world in a billion kalpas.”
In the Skanda Purana, concerning Godruma it is said: “Those excellent people who live in the Lord's place named Godruma are liberated from all sin and attain the supreme abode.”
In the Garga-sanhita, Naimikshetra in Madhyadvipa (where the Gomati River flows) is glorified as follows: “Whoever takes the pure dust from the bank of the Gomati River is liberated from the sins committed in a thousand lifetimes. Of this there is no doubt. O King of Videha, if a person bathes at Prayaga in the month of Magha when the sun is situated in Capricorn, he gains the result of a thousand horse sacrifices. But if the person bathes in the Gomati River in the month of Magha when the sun is in Capricorn, he gets a thousand times that benefit. Even Lord Brahma is not able to properly glorify Gomati-tirtha.
Whoever bathes in Cakra-tirtha (in Naimisharanya) on the twelfth lunar day attains the abode of Vishnu, even if he has committed the worst sins.”
In the Mahabharata, Kurukshetra-mahatmya, the great sage Pulastya says, “O Rajendra, please go to Kurukshetra, which fulfills all desires. By seeing that place all living entities are liberated from their sins. Whoever continually says, `I will go to Kurukshetra, I will live in Kurukshetra.' will be freed of all sins. If the dust of Kurukshetra is raised by the wind and falls on the limbs of a sinner, that sinner will attain the highest abode.”
In the Mahabharata, concerning Brahmana Pushkara, it is said: “The holy place of Lord Vishnu, Pushkara-tirtha, renowned in the three worlds, is situated on this earth. Fortunate souls can enter that place. O son of the Kuru dynasty, at Pushkara-tirtha billions of tirthas gather at daybreak and sunset. The mdityas, Vasus, Rudras, Sadhyas, Maruts, Gandarvas, and Apsaras reside there. Sins of both men and women, including the sin which caused their birth, are destroyed simply by taking a bath at Pushkara-tirtha. As Madhusudana is the original God, so Pushkara is the original tirtha.”
In the Garga-sanhita there is glorification of Bhaluka13 in these words: “In this way the king of the bears, Jambavan, continously guards the southern door with great devotion to the Lord.”
In the Mahabharata, concerning Samudragasha there is the following statement: “O King, all the seventy million tirthas of this universe are present in Sapta Samudra-tirtha.”
In the Vishnu Purana it is said: “This is the ninth island, surrounded by the ocean.”
In the Garga-sanhita, concerning Vidyanagara it is stated: “He went to that attractive Vedanagara in Jambudvipa, where all the scriptures incarnate reside. At the assembly, Sarasvati herself, with vina and book in hand, sings the all-auspicious qualities of Krishna. O king, at this village of the Vedas, the eight talas (rythms), seven svaras (melodies), and three gramas (groups of melodies) are personally present. Mimansa is the hand of the Vedas, astrology is the eye, myur-veda (medicine) is the back, Dhanur-veda (military science) is the chest, Gandharva-veda (music) is the tongue, Vaisheshika is the mind, Sankhya is the intellect, nyaya (logic) is the false ego, and Vedanta is the heart.”
In the Garga-sanhita, concerning Rukmapura, Rama-tirtha, it is said: “O King of Videha, the auspicious place where Balarama bathed in the Ganges (after killing Kolasura) is called Rama-tirtha by wise men. Whoever bathes there during the Kartika Purnima gains a hundred times the results of bathing in Haridvara.”
“Bahulasva said, `Tell me how far Rama-tirtha is from Kusanagara, and where it is situated.'
“Narada said, `O King, the wise say that Rama-tirtha is situated thirty-two miles northeast of Kusanagara, thirty-two miles northwest of Koladvipa, twelve miles southeast of Karnakshetra, and ten miles southeast of Nalakshetra. It is six miles from Vriddhakeshi and Bilvakeshavana in the east.'
“There was a king in Navadvipa named Drishhashva, who always laughed at the deformed Lomasha Muni. The sage cursed him, `O cruel-minded one, you will become a fierce pig-faced demon.'
“By the sage's curse, the king was born as a demon with a pig's face. Later, when Balarama beat that demon, named Kola, the demon gave up that body and attained liberation. Then Balarama, accompanied by his ministers such as Uddhava, went to Jahnu-tirtha, where the Ganges appeared from Jahnu Muni's right ear after he swallowed the river. Thus Ganges takes her name Jahnavi, having emerged from the ear of the great brahmana Jahnu Muni. After giving the brahmanas of that place charity, Balarama spent the night there with His entourage.
“Then, going to the west, He arrived at the Pandava's very dear eating place and spent the night there. Lord Balarama sumptuously fed the brahmanas there and gave many articles in charity to them. He then went with His associates to a place about eight miles away where the great devotee Manduka was performing austerities in his last days with a desire to attain the mercy of the Lord. Balarama placed His hand on that devotee's head and told him to ask a boon.
“Manduka said, `O Lord, if You are pleased and I am the recipient of Your mercy, please recite to me the Bhagavata, the scripture which destroys the faults of Kali-yuga and which issued from the lips of Shukadeva.'
“Balarama said, `Know for certain that when Gauranga appears in Kali-yuga, the divine message of Bhagavatam will be preached.'”
From the Garga-sanhita, concerning Rudradvipa, it is stated: “In the north is the sacred place known as Naila-lohita-kshetra. Lord Shiva with the name Nila-lohita resides there. O King of Videha, all the devatas, the munis, the seven rishis, and the Maruts live there. At this place, Ravana, who gave fear to the three worlds, worshiped Shiva and obtained great powers. O King, whatever results a person receives by going to Kailasa are obtained a hundredfold by seeing this Nila-lohita Shiva.”
Thus ends the Third Chapter of the Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, Pramana-khanda.