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Shri Vaikunthapura, Rudradvipa, and Pulina
All glories to Gauranga and the Panca-tattva! All glories to Navadvipa, the abode of Shri Chaitanya!
Coming to Vaikunthapura, Nityananda Prabhu spoke to Shri Jiva while mildly smiling, "On one side of the eight-petaled Navadvipa is this Vaikunthapura. Listen, without doubt. This is Vaikuntha, the abode of Narayana, situated in the spiritual sky beyond the Viraja River.
Maya can never enter this place, where Lord Narayana is served by His energies, Shri, Bhu, and Nila. The effulgence radiating from this spiritual abode is the Brahman. With material vision, people see only the material world. But with his transcendental vision, Narada once saw Narayana manifest as Gaurasundara in this spiritual abode. After seeing this, the best of the munis stayed here for some time.
"There is one more confidential story. Ramanujacarya once came to Puri and pleased the Lord with many prayers. Jagannatha appeared before him and said, `Go and see Navadvipa-dhama, for I will soon appear there in the house of Jagannatha Mishra. The entire spiritual sky is situated within one corner of Navadvipa, My very dear abode.
As My eternal servant and leading devotee, you should see Navadvipa. Let your students, who are absorbed in dasya-rasa, stay here while you go. Any living being who does not see Navadvipa has been born uselessly. Just one portion of Navadvipa contains Ranga-kshetra, Shri Venkata (Tirupati), and Yadava Acala. O son of Keshava, go to Navadvipa and see the form of Gauranga. You have come to the earth to preach bhakti, so let your birth be successful with the mercy of Gaura. From Navadvipa, go to Kurma-sthana and join again with your disciples.'
"With folded hands, Ramanuja submitted to Jagannatha, `In Your narration You have mentioned Gaurachandra, but exactly who He is, I do not know.'
"The Lord mercifully replied to Ramanuja, `Everyone knows Krishna, the Lord of Goloka. That Krishna, whose vilasa-murti is Narayana, is the Supreme Truth, and He resides in Vrindavana. That Krishna is fully manifest in the form of Gaurahari, and that Vrindavana is fully manifest in the form of Navadvipa-dhama. I eternally reside as Lord Gauranga in Navadvipa, the topmost abode in the universe. By My mercy that dhama has come within Bhu-mandala, yet it remains without a scent of maya. This is the verdict of scripture. If you say that Navadvipa is part of the material world, then your devotion will dwindle day by day. I have placed this spiritual abode within the material world by My desire and inconceivable energy. Simply by reading scriptures one will not get the highest truth, for the highest truth surpasses all reasoning power. Only the devotees can understand by My mercy.'
"Hearing this, the sober-minded Ramanuja was agitated with love for Gauranga. He said, `Lord, Your pastimes are truly astounding. The scriptures cannot know Your opulences. Why isn't gauranga-lila clearly described in the scriptures? When I closely examine the shruti and Puranas, I find only some hint of the Gaura-tattva. After hearing Your instructions, my doubts are gone and the sweet mellows of Gauranga's pastimes have arisen in my heart. If You order me, after going to Navadvipa I will preach gaura-lila throughout the three worlds. I will give people evidence from the hidden scriptures and establish devotional service to Gauranga throughout the universe. Please instruct me.'
"Seeing Ramanuja's eagerness, Jagannatha said, `Ramanuja, do not broadcast like this. Keep the confidential pastimes of Gauranga secret. Only after Gauranga has finished His pastimes will the general public receive them. For now, preach dasya-rasa, while in your heart worship Gauranga constantly.'
"Taking the Lord's advice, Ramanuja secretly cultured his attraction for Navadvipa. So that Gauranga's pastimes were not revealed prematurely, Lord Narayana then led Ramanuja here to Vaikunthapura and mercifully showed Ramanuja His transcendental form served by Shri, Bhu, and Nila. Ramanuja considered himself fortunate to obtain darshana of his worshipable Lord, when suddenly he saw the Lord assume the enchanting form of Gaurasundara, the son of Jagannatha Mishra. Ramanuja swooned at the brilliance of the form. Then Gauranga put His lotus feet on the head of Ramanuja, who was thus divinely inspired and recited prayers of praise. `I must see Gaura's actual lila on earth. I can never leave Navadvipa!'
"Gauranga said, `O son of Keshava, your desire will be fulfilled. When the Nadia pastimes will be revealed in the future, you will take birth here again.'
"Gauranga disappeared and Ramanuja, contented, resumed his journey. After some days he arrived at Kurma-sthana and saw the place with his disciples. During his life he preached dasya-rasa throughout South India, while internally he was absorbed in gaura-lila. By Gauranga's mercy, he took birth in Navadvipa as the devotee Shri Ananta. He went to Vallabhacarya's house and saw the marriage of Lakshmipriya and Gauranga.
"See the house of Ananta, where many devotees of Narayana gathered. It is well known that the kings of that time established Narayana worship here.
As the devotees saw Niishreyasa Forest, situated on the other side of the Viraja River, they attained unlimited bliss. In this way, while reciting these narrations, they arrived at Mahatpura.
Nityananda explained, "This place is Kamyavana of Vraja. See it with great devotion. There were five banyan trees here in ancient times, but these have now disappeared. This place is now called Matapura, but according to scripture, the name was previously Mahatpura. When the five Pandavas and Draupadi were living incognito during exile, they came to Gauda-desha, Bengal. While in Ekacakra, Yudhishthira Maharaja had a dream in which the glories of Navadvipa were revealed to him. The next day he became anxious to see the place, so they all happily came here. Seeing the splendor of Nadia, they praised the good fortune of the residents. And while living here for some time, they killed many demons. See, here is Yudhishthira-tila, and here is Draupadi's kunda. Aware of the glories of this place, Yudhishthira stayed here for some time. Then one day in a dream, he saw Gauranga, whose extraordinary form illumined all directions.
"Smiling, Gauranga said, `See My rare form. At your house, I am Krishna, the son of Nanda, and I always stay with you as a friend. This Navadvipa-dhama is the topmost abode, and in Kali-yuga it will manifest and drive away all darkness. As you have all been My servants for a long time, when My pastimes take place, you will again take birth. I will stay with you day and night on the shore of the ocean at Jagannatha Puri in Orissa. Please go now to Orissa, purify the place, and eliminate the suffering of the living entities.'
"Yudhishthira explained this dream to his brothers. After deliberation, they all went to Orissa. It was painful to leave Navadvipa, but the order of the Lord had to be obeyed.
"Madhva and his disciples also stayed here for some time. Gaurasundara mercifully appeared to him in a dream and while smiling said, `Everyone knows that you are My eternal servant. When I appear in Navadvipa, I will accept your sampradaya. Now, go everywhere and carefully uproot all the false scriptures of the mayavadis. Reveal the glories of worshiping the Deity of the Lord. Later, I will broadcast your pure teachings.'
"Saying this, Gaurachandra disappeared, and Madhva awakened dumbfounded. `Will I ever see that beautiful golden form again?' he cried.
"In reply, a voice from the sky said, `Worship Me secretly, and you will come to Me.' With this instruction, Madhva went on with great resolution and defeated the mayavadi philosophers."
While relating these stories, the party arrived at Rudradvipa and looked around.
"Rudradvipa has been cut in two pieces by the Ganges. See how this western island has now moved to the east bank. By the Lord's desire, no one lives on this side now. From here see Shri Shankarapura. Even from a distance, see how it beautifies the bank of the Ganges. When Shankaracarya went out to defeat all opponents, on his way to Navadvipa, he first arrived there. Within his heart, he was the topmost Vaishnava, but externally he played the role of a mayavadi, a servant of Maya. Actually, he was an incarnation of Shiva, and by the Lord's order he expertly preached a covered form of Buddhism. While engaged in this way, he came to Nadia.
"When Shankaracarya came to this place, Gaurachandra appeared to him in a dream and mercifully spoke to him in sweet words, `You are My servant. Following My orders, you are preaching effectively the Mayavada doctrine. But as Navadvipa-dhama is very dear to Me, the Mayavada philosophy has no place here. On My behalf, Vriddha Shiva and Praudha Maya spread the imaginary impersonal interpretations of scriptures, but only to those people who envy the devotees of the Lord. In this way I cheat them. Since this Navadvipa-dhama is generally a place for My devotees, not for the envious, you should go somewhere else. Do not contaminate the inhabitants of Navadvipa.'
"Realizing the truth about Navadvipa in his dream and with devotion instilled in his heart, he went elsewhere.
"In this Rudradvipa, the eleven Rudras reside. Headed by Nila-lohita Shiva, the Rudras chant Gauranga's glories and constantly dance in bliss. As the demigods watch their dancing, they become happy and shower flowers from the sky.
"One time, Vishnusvami came here during the course of his tour to defeat opposing philosophies. He stayed the night with his followers here in Rudradvipa. The disciples began dancing and singing, `Hari bol!' while Vishnusvami recited prayers from the shruti. Pleased by the discussion of bhakti, Nila-lohita mercifully appeared there. Upon Shiva's arrival in the assembly, Vishnusvami became startled. He folded his hands in prayer and recited appropriate praises. Shiva spoke to him, `All of you Vaishnavas are dear to me. Your discussion on devotional service has pleased me. Ask a boon, and I will grant it. There is nothing I will not give to the Vaishnavas.'
"Vishnusvami offered his dandavats and, filled with ecstatic love, he said, `Give us this one gift; that henceforth we will perfect a sampradaya teaching devotional service.'
"In great bliss, Rudra consented and named the sampradaya after himself. Thus Vishnusvami's sampradaya is called the Rudra-sampradaya. With the mercy of Rudra, Vishnusvami stayed here and worshiped Gaurachandra with a desire to attain love of God.
"Gauranga appeared to him in a dream and said, `By Rudra's mercy you have become My devotee. You are fortunate to attain the treasure of bhakti in Navadvipa. Now go out and preach the philosophy of shuddhadvaita (purified monism). The time of My appearance on earth will soon come. At that time you will appear in the form of Shri Vallabha Bhatta. You will meet Me in Puri, and you will perfect your sampradaya when you go to Mahavana.'
"O Jiva! Shri Vallabha is now in Gokula. When you go there, you will be able to see him." Saying this, Nityananda happily went south to Paradanga in Shri Pulina. Here he showed the place where Shri Rasa-mandala and Dhira-samira of Vraja were located. He said, "O Jiva, this is Vrindavana. One can see the Vrindavana pastimes here." Upon hearing the word `Vrindavana,' Jiva began trembling and tears flowed from his eyes.
The Lord continued, "Gauranga brought His devotees here, and they performed kirtana describing the rasa-lila. The place of the rasa-lila in Vrindavana is situated here on the bank of the Ganges. The rasa-lila pastimes with the gopis, which are eternally enacted here, are sometimes seen by fortunate persons.
"Listen sober-minded one, west of here, see Shri Dhira-samira, a nice place for worship of the Lord. In Vrindavana, Dhira-samira is situated on the bank of the Yamuna, and here it lies on the bank of the Ganges. Actually what you see, however, is not the bank of the Ganges, but that of the Yamuna, which flows on the western side of the Ganges. As this beautiful Pulina lies on the bank of the Yamuna, Vishvambhara therefore calls this place Vrindavana. You should know that all the pastime places of Vrindavana are situated within this place. Make no distinction between Vrindavana and Navadvipa, nor between Gauranga and Krishna."
In this way, overwhelmed with ecstatic love, Nityananda Raya took Jiva and showed him around Vrindavana. Then, heading some distance to the north, they spent the night in Rudradvipa.
With the lotus feet of Nitai and Jahnava as my only wealth, Bhaktivinoda sings this glorification of Nadia.