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Sri Jahnudwip, the seventh island of Sri Navadwip Dham, embodies the devotional mellow of vandana, or offering prayers to the Lord. Sri Jahnudwip spreads around the present village of Jannagar, which is the local language form of Jahnudwip. This place is the same as Bhadravan of Vraja. Ganga devi previously used to flow nearby and Mahaprabhu used to come here and perform kirtan with His associates. Sri Jahnudwip was the place of worship for the sage Jahnu. Lord Gauranga, being pleased with his worship, gave him a vision of His golden form. Seeing this effulgent form of the Lord, Jahnu Muni became ecstatic and begged the Lord for the blessing that he could reside in Sri Navadwip Dham birth after birth. Lord Gauranga granted him this boon and revealed that in the future, when He would manifest His sankirtan lila, Jahnu Muni would have the good fortune to witness this pastime.Once Jahnu Muni worshiped the Lord in this forest. As he meditated on one of Lord Krishna's sublime transcendental pastimes and as he was reflecting on the esoteric significance of the pastime, he suddenly entered samadhi. At that time King Bhagirathi, for the redemption of his ancestors, was bringing the river Ganges down from the Himalayas through Haridwar, Prayag, Kasi and on to Sri Navadwip Dham. His 60,000 forefathers, the sons of King Sagara, had all been burned to ashes in the ashram of Kapiladeva, the incarnation of Lord Krishna.
Kapiladeva had instructed King Bhagirathi's grandfather that his 60,000 uncles could be redeemed from their hellish condition by becoming blessed by the water of Ganga devi. King Bhagirathi's grandfather and father both strove mightily to bring Ganga devi down to earth but they were not successful. King Bhagirathi performed constant austerities to please Mother Ganga and she at last appeared before him. She told him that she was willing to descend to redeem his ancestors, but she feared accumulating sinful reactions from the people who bathed in her waters. King Bhagirathi relieved her anxiety. He explained that those sinful reactions would be instantly destroyed the moment saintly, pure devotees, who are free from material desires and are always peaceful, equipoised, and carry the Supreme Lord's abode in their hearts, entered her waters. Relieved, Ganga devi then told the king that the powerful force of her waters descending from heaven would pierce the earth down to the hellish planets. "Who can sustain this force?" she asked. King Bhagirathi reflected for a moment. He then answered that Lord Shiva could sustain this force.
Thus after performing severe penances, Lord Shiva, who is satisfied by three drops of water poured upon his lingam form, appeared before the king. Lord Shiva benedicted the king and agreed to accept the force of the river Ganges upon his head. So King Bhagirathi preceded the Ganges in his chariot. Mother Ganges flowed behind him and made a wonderful sound, kala kala kaali.
King Bhagirathi came here and saw the sage Jahnu Muni performing austerities. He quickly halted his chariot, removed his sandals, and paid his humble obeisances to the great sage. He then swiftly moved onwards. When Ganga devi reached the transcendental land of Sri Navadwip Dham, her joy knew no bounds. Feeling waves of ecstasy, totally unaware of her surroundings, she moved forward with great speed and force. In her excitement, she unknowingly passed too close to the hermitage of Jahnu Muni and unwittingly destroyed part of his hut and swept away some of his possessions. Jahnu Muni felt the cool breeze born from the swift passage of Mother Ganges and was lightly sprayed by her purifying waters. He heard the kala kala kaali sound as she coursed onward. His samadhi broke and he became a little angry. But he immediately realized that before him was no ordinary river, but Ganga devi passing. He understood that she originally emanated from the transcendental lotus feet of Vishnu, and was flowing through the transcendental locks of Shiva and down the sacred Himalayas. Ganga devi, he thought, is beyond the jurisdiction of this world and is always pure in every respect. Jahnu Muni, with great awe and reverence, then bowed his head to her waters and then quite suddenly performed acaman for his own purification.
Indeed, while doing acaman, he drank every drop of Ganges water, and the Ganga could not proceed further. King Bhagirathi, not hearing Ganga devi behind him, looked back and became perturbed. After some reflection, he concluded that the answer must lie in the presence of the great sage Jahnu. So he returned to the sage and rendered service to him. Being pleased, Jahnu Muni asked the king how he could help him. The king explained the story of his forefathers fate, and Jahnu Muni, being merciful, cut open part of his thigh and released the river Ganges. Thereafter, she started flowing as before while making her wonderful kala kala kaali sound.
As soon as the purifying waters of Ganga devi touched the ashes of King Bhagirathi's 60,000 forefathers, they became free from the aparadha they had inadvertently made against Kapiladeva. They were freed from their hellish condition!Ganga devi surrounds Sri Navadwip Dham on all sides. She also passes in-between the islands at different places, and she divides Sri Navadwip Dham into nine islands. Due to these nine divisions, Sir Gaura Dham is known as Navadwip. And because the river Ganges went into the belly of the sage and again came out from his thigh, she became famous as Jahnava, the daughter of Jahnu Muni. This place is therefore called Jahnudwip.
In Goloka, Ganga devi is a sakhi and very dear to Lord Krishna. Ganga devi sat with Lord Krishna and engaged in intimate conjugal conversations. Suddenly without warning, Srimati Radharani, surrounded by Lalita and Visakha and all Her intimate sakhis, appeared on the scene. Ganga devi became embarrassed and turned herself into a river and disappeared. Approaching Krishna and smiling slightly, Srimati Radhika asked Him where the girlfriend went to whom He had just been talking. Krishna became serious and said, "O Radha, other than You there is no girlfriend here." Hearing this, Srimati Radharani understood Krishna's inner thoughts. She became pleased and again accepted Sri Ganga devi as Her own sakhi. At that time, by the mercy of Srimati Radhika, the water of the Ganges became as established in Goloka as is the Yamuna. A portion of Ganga has manifest as the Causal Ocean, and from this water Brahma has washed the feet of Vamanadeva.
Once, in the court of Emperor Akbar around 400 years ago, kings and royal pandits began debating which river was superior, the Ganges or the Yamuna. The kings who resided on the banks of the Ganges declared that Ganga devi was the best, and the kings who resided on the banks of the Yamuna declared that Yamuna devi was the best. Both sides then had the royal court pandits give their opinions. Although they spent much time in discussion, neither side could claim a victory.Sri Jiva Goswami, having taken ksetra sannyasa, was at that time living in Vrindavan. Ksetra sannyasa is when one vows never to leave the holy dham until death. One may step outside the holy dham in the daytime if the situation warrants it, but one must, without fail, return to the holy dham before sunset. If one fails to sleep in the holy dham for so much as a single night, one's vow of ksetra sannyasa is broken. In the mid 1500s, Sri Jiva Goswami was considered the head of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas and was the most venerable and knowledgeable saintly soul. Emperor Akbar, understanding Sri Jiva Goswami's elevated position, sent for Sri Jiva Goswami and with great respect, requested him to come to Agra and clear up the controversy. But Sri Jiva Goswami was not inclined to leave Vraja for a single day, and he instructed the couriers that he was unable to attend. The Emperor then made many further supplications arid stated that he was requesting a sastric conclusion that would benefit everyone, both in the present and the future. Sri Jiva Goswami finally consented to go in the morning and return in the afternoon. The Emperor was overjoyed and made all arrangements for Sri Jiva Goswami's punctual coming and going.
Arriving at the royal court of Agra, Sri Jiva Goswami heard the opinions of both sides. After deliberating, he offered the following conclusion: according to the scriptures Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is one without a second, the beginning of all beginnings and the source of all sources. Vamanadeva is an expansion of Pradyumna, an expansion of Sankarsana, an expansion of Balarama, the first expansion of Lord Krishna. Balaram is identical to Krishna in every respect. Srimati Ganga devi is the water that has washed the feet of Krishna's expansion known as Vamanadeva. Srimati Yamuna devi is one of the principle queens of Lord Krishna. She is very, very dear to Him as she also takes part in His intimate Vrindavan pastimes. Whatever benefit one derives from bathing in the Ganges can be acquired just by thinking about the Yamuna. By bathing in Ganga devi, one can remove all one's sins. But by bathing in Yamuna, one can attain Krishna prema. Lord Krishna always performs with relish His radiant transcendental pastimes with His cowherd friends and His gopi girlfriends in the Yamuna. Ganga devi merges into Yamuna devi in Prayag. From there, she courses down to Sri Navadwip Dham, the place of Gaura lila. Therefore, Ganga devi is on the eastern side where Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared and Yamuna devi is on the western side. Thus Mahaprabhu blissfully performs His various transcendental pastimes in both the Ganges and the Yamuna. Thus, having attained this great fortune, Srimati Ganga devi has become equal to Srimati Yamuna devi. Just as Yamuna devi bestows Krishna prema, Ganga devi likewise bestows Gaura prema. And, except for Gaura prema being easier to attain because offenses committed are not considered, Krishna prema and Gaura prema are non-different. After hearing Sri Jiva Goswami's conclusion, Emperor Akbar and the members of the royal dynasties became content. They considered themselves fortunate to have had the darshan of such an elevated Vaisnava. Sri Jiva Goswami concluded his explanation, blessed the royal assembly and, chanting Hari Nama, immediately proceeded to Vrindavan. Gaura Premanandi! Haribol!