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Ekchakra Garvabas is an obscure village of Bengal, tucked away in a remote corner be¬tween Rampurhat and Sainthia on Eastern Railway. The village is about ten minutes walk from the Birchandrapur bus stop. The ADVENT PLACE of NITYANANDA is at the end of the village, aside unique natural beauty. A mosque was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb, on the BIRTH PLACE OF LORD SRI KRISHNA at Mathura; Babri Masjid was built on *RAM JANMABHUMI' at Ayodhya'. Opinions are contradictory on the exact Birthplace of even Lord SRI CHAITANYA. It is indeed surprising that there is no doubt or suspicion regarding the Birthplace of NITYANANDA, as if the LORD Himself kept it free from any sceptical question. It is a matter of great pride for all of us. This ssociation again glorifies Birbhum, the holy place hat united the SHAKTA, SHAIVA and AISHNAVAS.NITYANANDA was born on Shukla Trayodashi, in the month of Magha, in the year 1473A.D. 12th Feb. (Shakabda - 1395). Like the Sun that enlightens the world from his chariot 'The Ekchakra'U*xisb), NITYANANDA filled the world with His fountain of love and benevolence from this Ekchakra ("Q^fv^FT). Ishan Nagar in his book 'Adwaita Prakasha', Narahari Chakrabarty in "Bhakti Ratnakara', Nityananda Das in 'Prem Bilasa', Brindaban Das in VSree Chaitanya Bhagbata', Abhiram Das in xPat Paryatana' have glorified the place. In modern times, Subal Chandra's'Saral Bangla Abhidhana', Sri Haridas DasVGaudiya Baishnava Abhidhana', a research work like 'Birbhum Bibaran', Rasik Mohan Vidyabhusan's 'Nityananda Charit', magazines like GOURANGA MADHURI, GAUDIYA, BHAKTI, NITAI SUNDAR etc. eulogize the holy place and bring it to the notice of commons. The film NITYANANDA MAHAPRABHU presented by Sulata pictures has also brought the place in focus. The arrival of a number of great men, their ideas and opinions, culminated in a programme held on All India Radio on 25th December 1974 based on their conversation. The sanctity of the place has been well established. The reference of the place is also available in folktales, folk songs and legal documents as well.
But the significance of the place is not widely known. Most people believe that both Sri Chaitanya and Nityananda (Gour and Nitai) are originally from Nabadwip. But this is a misconception. We can point out a series of facts that mark the identity of this place. As in Nabadwip and Brindaban, Ekchakra also has its own 'YOGAPITHA' a spot sanctified by its connection with the Lord, who used to meditate here so often. In 'Bhakti Ratnakara', the YOGAPITHA has been depicted as it appeared to JANHAVA DEVI, wife of Nitaichand. In chapter 156 of Adi Parba in the original Mahabharata of Vyasdev, Baishampayana referred to the place. The Pandavas while travelling around Trigarta, Panchal, Matsya, Kichak and other places, once came here with Vyasdev. Their dwelling place is named Pandavtala, which still attracts lots of enthusiastic visitors. From here Arjun went to KOTASUR to kill Bakrakshasa. Here Pandavas heard about Droupadi's 'Swayamvara' and pro¬ceeded towards The Ganges as directed by Vyasdev. The detailed description of this place as we get in the Mahabharata still resembles present day Ekchakra. Narahari Chakrabarty in his famous book on mediaeval Goudiya Vaishnavism wrote about the arrival of Pandavas at Ekchakra. Narahari was the son of Sri Jagannath Chakrabarty and a follower of the Great philosopher and sage, Sri Biswanath Chakrabarty. Ishan Thakur, the domestic servant of Sree Gouranga, while travelling around Nabadwip along with Srinivas and Narottam de¬clared at Mahatpur that Yudhisthir, Kunti and the other Pandavas came to Nabadwip from Ekchakra. Yudhistir in his dream was commanded by Balaram to come here. Even the birth of Gouranga at Nabadwip was predicted to him. In the twelfth chapter of'Bhakti Ratnakar'the inci¬dents are mentioned in detail.
Ekchakra Garvabas is very close to Birchandrapur with only a lean river flowing between them. Originally, DABUK, SANDHIGARA, KOTASUR and MAYURESWAR all neighbouring villages together formed Ekchakra. How the vast area gradually reduced to a small village is a history that we get in "Bhakti Ratnakar'. Madhab Bandyopadhyay, a close relative and contemporary of NITYANANDA explained this to JANHAVA DEVI, wife of NITYANANDA. The Pandavas rescued Ekchakra from the hands of the demons. Two temples, one of Vishnu and the other of Ganesh situated on the bank of Yamuna, were once the pride of the village. The wide river in course of time has reduced to a slim line of water. The place once abounded in exquisite natural beauty and housed prosperous, cultured, honest & men of intellect. It was a centre of religious educa¬tion. But it became desolate once NITYANANDA left home and His relatives deserted the place. Most of the aged men went on pilgrimage. Later, during the declining years of the Pathan regime a powerful Muslim Jaigirdar shifted the residents from Ekchakra to Khalatpur, a new town estab¬lished by and named after him. HER DIVINE GRACE- JANHAVA DEVI, visited Khalatpur at the time of its onset. Two pathan leaders Nazir Khan and Perez Khan ruled over the place under the supervision of Khalat Khan. Two big tanks named after them still exist near the main road. There are also other remnants of old days like Pnariapukur and Pilkhana dhibi (a shelter made for elephants).
Now a days, all of us are restless, worried and disappointed —more or less. The present generation is hesitant and uneasy. Tranquility or delight has become lexicographical. At such a time, the auspicious and beneficial thought of our ever merciful Lord Nitaichand, will positively lead us to genuine, perfect and eternal bliss.The word Garvabas was added to Ekchakra and the village in now called Ekchakra Garvabas. Just before the Advent of NITYANANDA a sage came to their home and seeing Padmavati, mother of NITYANANDA, he started dancing and saying repeatedly This is the womb'. The stranger was Garga Muni is disguise. He predicted the arrival of Balaram on earth in the self of Sri NITYANANDA. He emphasized that PADMAVATI was the reincarnation of Rohini (mother of Balaram), and that she cradled in her womb Balaram, the other self of NITYANANDA. He pre¬dicted the descent of NITYANANDA in the month of Magh, on Sukla Trayodashi. Saying these, Garga Muni disappeared. In this connection one can remember that it was this Garga Muni, who revealed the name of Balaram and Krishna in the Court of Nanda. The very place where NITYANANDA was born is still undistorted and a memorial has been built there. It is called maternity temple i.e. "SOOTIKA MANDIR" JANHAVA DEVI, Wife of Lord Nityananda herself selected Madhab Bandyopadhyay and Raghav Pandit as the first and second custodian to look after the holy place. It is the Birth place of NITYANANDA, the other self of Sri Chaitanya, whose spontaneous love transcended the barrier of cast and creed, who saved traditional (*MIO*I) religion and culture from sheer devastation, whose spiritual will power rescued the tormented and downtrodden, who saved the country from self-destruction and who gave us a glimpse of eternal life. It must there¬fore, be regarded as one of the holiest place in the world. The village where He spent His boy¬hood- days has even now maintained its beauti¬ful natural ambience.
The present Ashram encloses a moderate area in which are the house of NITYANANDA's father Mukunda Bandyopadhyaya (alias Harai Pandit), the courtyard and the Birth place. The water tank adjacent to the place that was once used by His family has always attracted devotees from near and far. The tank is surrounded by many trees and is named Nitai Kund. Embedded in its core and not visible to the naked eye is another tank named Ananga Kund. A beautiful Shivalinga and a lot of utensils were found while digging the tank. The place of His birth is on the bank of Nitai Kund. Raghav Pandit of Govardhan (His birthplace was Deccan and bhajansthali, Gobardhan—UTTAR PRADESH) was appointed the first sevait of this place as willed by JANHAVA DEVI. The memorial was constructed by Sri Krishna Das and Jagadananda Das, disciples of Raghav Pandit in his presence. The memorial needs immediate renovation. The big tree, which till today stands in the 'Sasthitala' besides the maternity temple, has been a witness of the old days. As customary, a ritual was held here on the sixth day after the Birth of Nitaichand. Only a few parts of the tree still survive. But the hanging branches occupy a large area. A variety of birds nest on the tree. Each year the villagers celebrate their yearly 'Jamaishasthi' OIHIS"^), beneath its canopy of branches and leaves. The place has been reno¬vated and a beautiful pedestal, surrounded by walls has been erected. NITYANANDA's father Mukunda Bandyopadhyay was popularly known as Harai Pandit or Harai Ojha. His ancestral house was just beside the Sasthitala. The chronology of His family goes like this. Originally from Kanouj, and of Shandilya Gotra (1) Kshitish (2) Bhattanarayana Chaturvedi (3) Adibaraha (4) Bainateya (5) Subuddhi (6) Bibudhesh (7) Guha (8) Gangadhar (9) Suhas (10) Shakuni (Gaighar Bandyo) (11) Maheswar Bandyopadhyay (Kulin) (12) Mahadev (13) Tiku (14) Nengul (15) Mihir (16) Bhaskar (17) Pushkar (18) Shristidhar (19) Maladhar(20) Brishaketu (21) Chandraketu (22) Nakari (popularly known as Murari or Sundaramalla).
Harai Pandit was the son of Murari and Nitaichand was Harai's first child. The details of His life are found specially in CHAITANYA BHAGVATA of Brindaban Das Thakur. Harai Pandit had six other sons. NITYANANDA Prabhu is the incarnation of God, the roots of the tree - that is religion of devotion, a theory revered by the devotees. Poet Karnapura, the great devotee of Chaitanya has called NITYANANDA a magnetic attraction', (wwk) The mystical identity of the soul can¬not be explained but can be felt by the blessed ones.During the long span of more than five hundred years a number of wise men, orates, historian, mythologists and the Vaishnava Pandits illus¬trated His physical beauty, virtues, divine activi¬ties and total human welfare consciousness.BISWARUPTALA or Malatala or Sanyasitala is a place near Harai Pandit's house. Biswarup— (the elder brother of Sree Chaitanya became a sanyasi and was renamed Sankararanya Puri,) while on his travel, took a temporary helter un¬der the grand old peepul tree. To commemorate this incident the place is called 'Biswaruptala'. Most part of the tree has decayed. A pedestal has been built around the tree.
Again, it is believed that immediately after HIS conversion (SANYASA) Sri Chaitanya visited the area of Radh along with Sri NITYANANDA. HE was then in a transcendental stage of conscious¬ness, quite oblivious of the mundane matter of the world. HE came here with the earnest long¬ing to meet Krishna. He removed His own gar¬land and deposited it at the base of the tree. Most probably with utmost love and affec¬tion He gifted it to the tree, which would show Him the path to meet LORD KRISHNA. That is why BISWARUPTALA is also called MALATALA. The explanation of the name Sanyasitala is like this. Sreemat Ishwarpuriji who converted Sree Chaitanya, took rest under the same tree. Ac¬cording to 'Prembilas' Ishwarpuri begged to NITYANANDA's father to hand over his son to him. Afterwards, the place was named after Sanyasi Iswarpuri—Sanyasitala.It was a place of worship for a large number of religious people. During the fortnight that leads to the night of the full moon the place looks very beautiful. Specially on the night of the full moon if one looks at Pandavtala from Biswaruptala, it would appear as if the whole universe is smiling. The material world would seem insignificant.
Formerly, the main road towards the Ashram passed near this Biswaruptala. Some dilapidated parts of the old wall and the entrance gate still exist. On the left side of Biswaruptala there is %Guru Griha', the tomb of SRIMAT TRIBHANGA DAS BABA, where HIS mortal remains lay bur¬ied. Tribhanga Das, born at Kirtipur a nearby village, was a devotee since his boyhood. His mother was Garabini, father Chhabilal. In his boy hood on the order of his father he used to carry puffed rice to the fields for labourers, along with it he used to carry a TULASI (<JeRJt) tree on a tub too. After performing NAAM Sankirtan on the fields and watering the TULSI tree he would, them have his breakfast here with puffed rice. Such was his devotion.Before entering his youth, he met Banwarilal Singh of Panchthupi, Murshidabad and Krishna Chandra Mandal of Kalla, Murshidabad. Both of them were wise and devoted. Their guidance and assistance helped to create a spiritual upliftment in Tribhanga Das. Later on he received 'DIKSHA' (initiation) from a Goswami of JANHAVA DEVI'S order. His spiritual consciousness continued grow¬ing and he reached the realm of divinity. In the Bengali year 1310, blessed Tribhanga Das got a divine order to visit Puri. The longing to renounce the world overpowered him. He was fortunate to have the favour of RADHARAMAN CHARANDAS BABAJI MAHASAYA who converted him to VAISHNAVA BHAGABATA 'SANYASA' and he was renamed 'BANWARILAL DAS'. He then stayed at the Jhanjpitha Math of Puri in close association with his master. Jhanjpitha Math had the deity of Radhakanta consecrated by the renowned Narottom Thakur of Kheturi. Radhakanta was worshipped here along with the images of Nitai - Gouranga. He got his final lesson here under the auspice of Radharaman Deva - THE LESSON TO FEEL THE EXISTENCE OF NITYANANDA IN EVERY CREATION AND EVERY CREATION WITHIN NITYANANDA. This is the keynote of re¬ligion, which teaches us to serve everyone. Dur¬ing his stay in Jhanjpitha, he met Sri Nabadwip Das, Sri Gobinda Das, Sri Ram Das and other devotees.
A close-knit relation grew among them. The concept of love was substantiated. He wanted to spend the rest of his life at Jhanjpitha serving the master. But at about this time, when he was in a mood of blissful peace, Radharaman Deva asked him why he was staying there, be¬ing neighbour of Nityananda Janmasthan. He told Tribhanga Das to leave the place and to dedi¬cate his life in the service of Ekchakra, the Birth place of HIS DIVINE GRACE, LORD NITAICHAND. Tribhanga Das came to Ekchakra and joined Haridasji who was then the Sevait of the place. Radharaman Deva left for heavenly abode in the Bengali year 1312. A grief stricken Tribhanga Das lost interest in his work. But his master rebuked him \n his dream and asked him to offer his ser¬vice at the BIRTHPLACE of NITYANANDA, which will satisfy the departed soul of the master. Tribhanga Das travelled to various places to glo¬rify the holy place that had been almost forgot¬ten so long. He initiated the religious services, that was carried out by the Ashram. The seva also improved. In the Bengali year 1351, on the full moon of Magh, Tribhanga Das breathed his last. The life's devotion to NITYANANDA became complete. The full moon (i.e. PURNACHANDRA) of the RADH was permanently eclipsed. Then the custody of the ashram passed on to Sri Bidhubhusanji, a close associate of Tribhanga Das. A memorial of Tribhanga Das has been built known as 'Guru Griha'. Behind Sasthitala there are situated all the tombs, right from Raghav Pandit upto Haridasji, immediate predecessor of Tribhanga Das. A Tulsi Bedi' is there in front of the Guru Griha. A few steps ahead, the present temple has been built behind the house of Harai
Pandit, the father of Sri Nityananda. On one side of the temple, there is a prayer hall (Natmandir). The Natmandir was once thronged by number of pundits from far off places, connoisseurs, devotees & monks. The association of this place with NITYANANDA, His ancestors and predecessors, has uplifted it to the supreme height of the holy Vrindavan. The presiding dei¬ties of the temple attached to the natmandir are the two youths, NITAICHAND and GOURHARI. The images were established and worshipped by Raghav pandit. On one side resides Adwaita Prabhu. The images of Gopal once worshipped by Tribhanga Das has been placed in front of the seat. On the left side there is RADHA-GOPINATH on a wooden throne. Then there are the idols of Radha-Madanmohan, Srikanta and Sri Radhakanta of 'Siddhabakulpith'. Also there is the Giridhari belonging to the great devotee Chongadhari Baba. Then there are Jagannath, Gopalji and his Divine Maids. But the cynosure among the images is the idol of vGour Sundar', which was brought from Sripat Srikhanda (BARDDHAMAN). Just after the conversion (SANYASA) of Gouranga, Narahari SarkarThakur of Srikhanda built three images of Gour (i.e. GOURANGA MAHAPRABHU) and started worshipping them. Later on, when Das Gadadhar, a dis¬ciple of NITYANANDA shifted to Katwa to wor¬ship the sanyasatirth, (The place where Sree Gouranga renunciated) Narahari affectionately gifted him the largest one. The middle one was shifted from Srikhanda to the village of Ganganagar - Bhagkola (Dist. Bagura), Bangladesh by Rasananda and Bhaktananda, two disciples of Narahari Branch. Immediately after the partition, the image was brought back to Srikhanda and then transferred to the Birthplace of NITYANANDA. This image is of Gouranga in the role of a NATUA. With it there is dancing Gopal besides the rock images of Giridhari.NITYANANDA'S Birthplace is a memorable one, a place of pilgrimage & prayer that must be vis¬ited by all. The main sights are as follows.
1.The Padmavati Tank :
It is named after NITYANANDA'S mother. Harai Pandit received it as gift from his father-in-law, Mukutanarayan Roy of Mayureswar.
2.Nari-Pnota, Bakultala or AMARA PITHA :
Here under the Bakul tree the umbilical chord of NITYANANDA was buried. In His childhood,NITYANANDA used to play here with His friends. The branches of tree became snake-like by the touch of His feet. The tree is no more. But some of its branches still exist and excite the heart of devotees. They can be seen here as well as at the Radharaman Bag of Nabadwip and at the Pathbari Ashram of Baranagore, Kolkata - 700 035.
3.Janu Kunda :
A sacred pond sancti¬fied by the holy touch of Nityananda. On the last day of Poush a ceremony is held here which, comprises of Gosthalila Kirtan, bhog with flattened rice (f^fO and distribution of prasad.
The residence of the Brahmin under whose custody Vyasdev left Kunti Devi with the five Pandavas. Here Chongadhari Baba used to spend the whole day with his 'Giridhari'.
5.Tomb OF CHONGADHARI BABA :
The place where Chongadhari Baba was buried. This great sage was angelus. Once he said that he had attended the marriage of Vishnu Das, the maternal uncle of Sree Chaitanya.
The place for rest. Af¬ter leaving his home forever, Nitaichand sat here for a while at the request of the villagers.
A special place near Yamuna. Here near the bathing ghat a piece of wood came floating for mak¬ing the image of Bankim Deva (^RRR). Here the images of Nitai Chand and Gour Sundar are worshipped with Krishna and Balaram.
8.Banka Rai or the temple of Bankimdev :
Other than the idols of Banka Rai, Lalitaji and Radha, there are Shalagrams, Yogmaya and Muralidhar.
9.The temple of Jagannath :
With the image of Jaganath and Shakshigopal.
A place for Krishna as cowherd, playing with other cowherds. Banka Rai comes here at Bath cer¬emony ("FrR"9T3T).
11.The tomb of TALTALIA BABA, a famous Sadhu.
12.Ekchakreswar Mahadev :
The temple of Ekchakreswar Mahadev. The idol was worshipped by Harai Pandit.
13.Gobrar Maath :
A field where Nitaichand held the Gobardhan.
Where Nitaichand acted as Lakshman in "Lakshmaner Shaktisheir.
The field and tank of Kalisara - Kaliyakund. Here Nitaichand enacted the role of Krishna, who tamed the snake 'Kaliya'.
16.Kanai Kunda :
Nitaichand performed 'Danlila'
17.Chandan Sarobar :
Nitaichand played in its water.
Indra, The king of Gods appeared to Nitaichand and expressed his desire to serve HIM. Nitaichand asked him to make a tank which later on came to be known as Indrasayer.
Nitaichand showed here the demise of Aristasura and the Divine lovemaking of Radha and Krishna.
Nitaichand acted 'Saptatal Bhed' and 'Setubandhan'.
The xBihar Sthali' (place) of Birchandra Prabhu —Son of NITYANANDA.
22.Marsarobar, Amlitala, Swet Ganga,Akshay Bat, Khunti Pukur etc.
Once NITYANANDA left his home, the village be¬came deserted. After the death of Harai Pandit and Padmavati, almost all the residents left the village. The followers of NITYANANDA went on pilgrimage. Some of them accepted sainthood. Only one of his nearest relatives named Madhab Bandyopadhyay preferred to stay on at Ekchakra. It was he who showed JANHAVA DEVI all the Holy places at Ekchakra. Afterwards, JANHAVA DEVI empowered Raghav Pandit of Gobardhan with the responsibility of looking after the place.Raghav Pandit is the author of ^Krishnabhakti-ratnaprakash'. Originally from Deccan, he came to Ekchakra with his two followers, Sree Jagadananda Das and Sree Krishna Das. Ekchakra was then an isolated place. On the other side of Jamuna, Khalatpur was being built by the Pathan Jaigirdar Khafat Khan. Madhav Bandyopadhyay was too old, almost invalid. Still, with supreme effort he introduced all the sacred places to Raghav and handed over him the charge of place. Madhav surrendered the charge of the BIRTHPLACE as well as that of RASIK ROY JEW. and 'Sahasrasirsa' (WOTH) Bishnu Chakra The deity once belonged to Harai Pandit and still worshipped by Madhav. Raghav was very happy to receive the image standing on a lotus and adorned with flute and wooden chappals. The Nrisingha Sila that always accompanied him was also being worshipped with Rasik Roy and Shalgram Silas.
Raghav constructed a temple at Harai Pandit's residence. Simultaneously, the maternity home, where Sri Sri NITYANANDA was born (^firwrfcO came into prominence. Raghav placed the im¬ages of Nitai and Gour in the temple. Truly speak¬ing, Raghav Pandit has done a great duty to the nation by preserving the Birthplace of NITYANANDA and bringing it in the original form. He has been regarded by all as a NATIONAL HERO. After Raghav, Jagadananda and Krishnadas were the blessed ones who got the opportunity to offer their service to this place. The other priests were Sreemat NITYANANDA DASJI, RAM DASJI, BRAJAMOHAN DASJI, GOUR DASJI, SIVANANDA DASJI AND HARI DASJI. Haridasji formed a trustee board consisting of nine members including Tribhanga Dasji in the year 1335 B.S. The chief priest & Sevait was Tribhanga Dasji. Tribhanga Dasji passed away on the Maghipurnima, in the year 1351 B.S. and the charge was handed over to Bidhubhushanji.
But after the death of Bidhubhushanji on the Sukla Ekadasi of Bhadra, 1373 B.S., the disciplne of the institution broke down. Since then the ser¬vice had been alternating on temporary basis. On the heartfelt request of Sri Bidhubhushanji, Sri Jivasaran Das (the then Jyotirmay Chowdhury) came to Ekchakra from Khardah, during the lifetime of the former. But at the deathbed, when Sri Bidhubhushanji wanted Sri Jivasaran Das to take charge of Ekchakra the latter could not make it. In the Bengali year 1379 during 500th Birth Anniversary of Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Jivasaran Das came to Ekchakra and was appointed Sevait and Managing Trustee by the then Trustee Board.
Here is an account of all the festivals that take place throughout the year.On the 1st day of Baisakh, the new year is wel¬comed with daylong Sankirtana . Prasad is of¬fered to each and everyone.On the Snan Yatra (Bath-ceremony), Chongadhari Baba is remembered through some rituals.During the GURUPURNIMA FESTIVAL the ashram is crowded with lots of devotees. Various types of religious rites including Sri Guru Aradhana, Vyas Puja Kirtana of Sri Sri Nityananda Prabhu,glorifying Kirtana of Sanatan Goswami are performed to honour the tithi.The day of Bidhubhusanji's death is solemnly re¬membered every year.But the greatest festival is the celebration of the Birth Anniversary of NITYANANDA. Who ever has had the opportunity to attend the festival that last for 11 days will remember forever. Woollen garments are distributed irrespective of caste & creed to the poor & downtrodden.On the Dolpurnima, xNaam Sankirtan' and devotional songs in praise of Sri Krishna or Chaitanya, is performed to celebrate the Birth ceremony of Sri Chaitanaya. On the 'Krishnaa Shashti' that follows Dolpurnima, the arrival of xBabaji Mahasay' (SRIPAD RAMDAS BABAJI MAHASAYA), and onxChaitra Sankranti'the Birth ceremony of 'Bara Babaji Mahasay' (SRIMAT RADHARAMAN CHARAN DAS DEVA) are cel¬ebrated.Thus, during the whole year Ekchakra is enliv¬ened with various of ceremonies, big and small, all centering around NITYANANDA MAHAPRABHU.