THE HOLY BIRTH-PLACE
OF THE SUPREME LORD SRI KRSNA CAITANYA
[By Prof. Nishi Kanta Sanyal, M. A.]
Professor N. K. Sanyal -
(Sripada Narayanadasa Bhaktisudhakar Prabhu)
Senior Professor of History, Ravenshaw College, Cuttack (Orissa)
THE fundamental categories are five in number, viz.--(I) Godhead in Himself as the One, (2) His unmanifested power or essence as the One, (3) His plenary extended or manifested Self, (4) Individual Souls, (5) Phenomenal world (pradhana). Sridhama Mayapura, the innermost part of Svetadvipa or Navadvipa, belongs to the category of Godhead's plenary extended Self.
Individual souls are either free or unfree, Godly or un-Godly. The unfree souls regard phenomenal Nature as Supreme (pradhana) and themselves as part and parcel of it. Individual souls that are unfree on attainment of the emancipated condition of perfect freedom from all limitations realize Nature to be but the perverted reflection of the extended plenary Divine Self, being related to the spiritual plenary manifestation as shadow to substance, and themselves as akin to the spiritual world by virtue of spiritual essence which happens to be the only constituent principle of their own real nature, notwithstanding their liability to be overcome by the potency of phenomenal Nature due to their tiny magnitude.
When unfree souls are acted upon by the plenary spiritual power of Godhead they are unable to understand that She is different from the non-spiritual or phenomenal power. They are accordingly disposed to respond to such events by the process by which they are accustomed to behave towards phenomenal Nature. Such response necessarily fails to establish touch with the transcendental power.
In this dilemma plenary power offers Herself to be approached by unfree souls by their limited proclivities to enable them to receive spiritual enlightenment. If the unfree soul sincerely submits to Her superior guidance he is taught to behave towards the plenary power in the correct manner which is gradually perfected till all his misgivings and. imperfections are removed. This is the highest point that it is possible or the unfree soul to reach. He can never have direct dealings with the Possessor of the plenary power by his own right. There is no doubt an infinity of eternally free souls who are part and parcel of the plenary power Herself. The Vaisnavas are such eternally free souls, who form the connecting link between the potentially or actually unfree souls and the plenary power and it is under this two-fold guidance that the latter are enabled to do their duty by the Godhead. But so long as the physical body and the materialized mind are not actually eliminated the complete or free spiritual service is not possible.
The attainment of the service of the Godhead is, therefore, preceded as necessary preliminaries as well as constituents by that of the services of the Vaisnavas -who are the agents of the plenary power. Godhead as the highest object of worship of all individual souls is manifested to the latter by His plenary power. Sridhama Mayapura as plenary power cannot be within the reach of relationship of a potentially unfree soul except by the grace of the eternally free souls. The service of Sridhama Mayapura is identical with the service of Godhead under His plenary power and is not realizable by the potentially unfree souls till after actual elimination of the physical body and mind. But by the will of God the Sridhama Herself chooses to descend within the range of the limited faculty of the fallen soul when he is disposed to serve, for the purpose of imparting enlightenment regarding the nature of Herself to the extent that is necessary for the attainment of such imperfect service as is possible in this world. All this is the outcome of the 'causeless' mercy of God and is wholly incomprehensible to the fallen soul.
It is only after we have been enlightened as to the real nature of Sridhama by the mercy of the Vaisnava that it is possible for us to serve Her rationally and willingly. In the realm of the spirit there is no such thing as 'blind' faith. There is no such thing as service of Vaisnava s and the Power Divine except by enlightenment through grace. Those who pretend to serve God by 'blind' faith only lord over the creature of their own sinful fancies. The genuine serving faculty is an unerring instinct and the only perfectly cognitive function.
The phenomenal view of Sridhama is a product of so-called blind faith. It is a disguised form of atheism which adopts this subtle method for denying the existence of the plenary power as distinct from the illusory. It refuses to recognize that the spiritual is eternally distinct from the phenomenal. As a matter of fact the spiritual is categorically distinct from the material and mental. Both latter are mere shadowy existences. They tempt those souls who are willing to listen to them by fascinating promises of a paradise on this very earth. Those who are at all seriously disposed to reflect on the nature and inevitable consequences of such a quest are bound to realize the utterly deceptive nature of such promise. It is only after this disillusionment comes to a person that he is really in the position to grasp the spirit of the teachings of the true sadhus who are subject to no earthly delusions.
Why should it be spiritually necessary to know the site of the old Bengal village of Mayapura? The answer of the consistent empiricist that" the mind by its constitution always desires to ascertain the 'truth' regarding everything is a begging of the question at issue, the question being 'why an antiquarian quest should be regarded as its own reward?' But the antiquarian's issue is an earthly issue raised by lapse of time. Everything that is past is for this simple earthly reason endowed with the antiquarian interest. The identical event existing at the moment of its occurrence is without any such interest or shall we say 'truth'? Is the mind really prepared to regard the attainment of such truth as the end of its 'spiritual' quest? In this sense we may be said to have attained the true knowledge of all things existing at the present moment in as much as they are capable of being known to the mind in the empiric sense better than any thing in the past. The attempt to attain the imaginary and necessarily imperfect idea of past occurrences appeals to the mind as quest of the truth and as something actually different from the perception of events happening at the present moment. But the comparative faculty fails to find any essential difference between the two.
The difficulty that presents itself to the seeker of the truth is not that he knows it already to an extent and only wants to know a little more. It is much more serious. The difficulty itself has its origin in the fact that one is not content at all with his present experience. Even if all the past and future present themselves to him in the form of the present the cause of his dissatisfaction would still remain exactly as it is. He is unable to formulate his question but he feels that no amount or degree of knowledge or happiness of the kind with which he is familiar can ever bring him the required relief. They are always tempting from a distance but are ever disappointing on close acquaintance. It is this torment of the Tantalus's cup that becomes intolerable after the fun has lasted for some time.
The soul has no necessity for making the acquaintance of this or that village, past, present or future. He wants to know what he has to do with any village at all. He wants to know why this phenomenal world thrusts itself upon him with bewitching promises of happiness only in order to take leave of him after a disappointing, imperfect and terminable acquaintance, Will the success of any number of antiquarian quests supply the answer to this question? If they do not do so, as evidently they never can, why should they be dubbed the 'goal' or 'truth', or be regarded as in any way different from the present perception of my own native village, in a reference to the 'goal'? The antiquarian quest is doomed by its very nature to lead us to an imperfect realization of a present which is past It may extend the bounds of our experience but cannot explain the experience itself. This is the prima facie defect of Darwinian evolution as a spiritual theory of existence. It asserts that one unknown quantity can explain another. What the seeker of (he truth asks is, whether it is possible to get out of the vicious circle of our necessarily futile mental speculations?
It is our contention in this paper that if the empiric method subordinates itself to the spiritual, we are enabled by such modification to obtain the spiritual result.
Jagannatha Dasa Babaji
In the case of Sridhama Mayapura the modification of the method of quest necessitated by the requirements of the spiritual issue is as follows: We must be prepared to accept as absolutely true, of course in the spiritual sense, identification of the holy site by Sri Jagannatha Dasa Babaji. We must be prepared to make the attempt to understand the spiritual nature of the site so identified. We must accept all the implications of such acceptance and intention. We would then be in a position to realize that we can 'serve' the holy site by the antiquarian effort of trying to establish its identity for the benefit of those persons devoid of the spiritual vision who are being misled by others, as blind as themselves, to withhold their allegiance from the devotees of Sridhama Mayapura. If in order to oppose the mischievous activities of erring empiricists it employs their method for convincing them and their dupes of the erroneous character of their method as well as object, relying on the grace of the holy site itself, the employment of the empiric method under such conditions and for such purpose amounts to spiritual service of the holy site and tends to bring about the spiritual enlightenment of such seeker. The faith in the infallibility of the Vaisnava and his spiritual nature, is the starting point in this modified process. It also establishes the supreme necessity of such quest for the well-being of the seeker himself.
To the atheist this modified process will appear to be not materially different from the ascending process which works up from the supposed known to the unknown. But a little reflection will show that this is not really so- The ascending or empiric process really leads one not from the known to the unknown but from the known unknown to the unknown unknowable. The modified process on the contrary leads from the known to the knowable unknown in and through the known.
The holy site is known only to the Vaisnava. It is not at present known to me. I can have the knowledge of it if I recognize that I cannot know anything of it by my own efforts but can obtain such knowledge by submitting unconditionally to the guidance of the Vaisnava. Sri Jagannatha Dasa Babaji declares a particular site to be the holy spiritual locality of the birth of the Lord. To me the site at present appears as that of a deserted hamlet with imperfect antiquarian testimony regarding its identity with an old village of the name of Mayapura where a Bengali reformer, Sri Caitanya Deva, is known historically to have been born 444 years ago. This is my present view. I have to give it up altogether. I must in its place adopt the view of Sri Jagannatha Dasa Babaji which is wholly different and seek loyally to serve his purpose of proving the identity of the said site with the old native village of Sri Caitanya in the face of all difficulties and defects of available testimony. Even if I fail to establish the empiric identity 1 shall have gained the real object of all cognitive exertion in the shape of the service of the truth which is nothing but the service of the Vaisnavas. It is by such unconditional and unremitting service of the truth that the knowledge of Him may be obtained, augmented and retained. It is, therefore, necessary for us to understand clearly this method which was actually followed by Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his endeavor to establish by antiquarian arguments the identity of Sridhama Mayapura. The village of Ula in which Thakura Bhaktivinoda was born lies within 25 miles of Sridhama Mayapura. Thakura Bhaktivinoda did not conceive the idea of searching for Sridhama till he was fairly advanced in years and had already compared a fairly large number of most valuable works on the teachings of Sri Caitanya. He was at the time serving at Kalna and at Krishnagar as a Deputy Collector in the employment of the Government.
He had become aware that the town of Navadvipa was not the Birth-place of Sri Caitanya Deva. At that time there were two eminent Vaisnava saints in the town of Navadvipa with both of whom the pious official, who led a singularly pure and simple life and was widely known among scholars as a trustworthy and convincing writer on Sri Caitanya, cultivated relations of intimacy. As the idea occurred to him he enquired of Sri Jagannatha Dasa Babaji regarding the real location of the holy site. The latter told him in detail everything regarding the place that it was necessary for him to know. This was followed by Sri Gaura-kisora Dasa Babaji.
Gaura-kishora Dasa Babaji
The success of his antiquarian labors was hailed with delight by his contemporaries and enabled him to interest the general public for the reclamation of the holy site and the construction of suitable shrines on the site of the eternal Home of the Supreme Lord.
The work which was begun in this manner by Thakura Bhaktivinoda is being carried on by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura. With the establishment of the system of worship taught by the Supreme Lord which includes proselytism and propaganda, opposition began to be experienced from interested parties who feared that the progress prestige of Sridhama Mayapura representing the religion of pure devotion would lower to that which had long been enjoyed by the town of Kashimpur, Navadvipa, head-quarters of the current erroneous forms of the same religion. This and other worldly motives into which it is needless to enter more in detail have provided recruits to the ranks of opponents who have persisted in challenging the truth of the identification of the site by a campaign of deliberate and systematic misrepresentation. This disreputable movement has secured as its rifting mouthpiece a designing person calling himself a Babaji who passes himself off as the representative of the degraded sections of the professed followers of Sri Caitanya Nothing can beat the shame of this standing scandal which counts even a few so-called educated persons among its believers and supporters.
Thakura Bhaktivinoda's labors have made possible a revival of the Vaisnava religion as embodying the universal function of all pure souls not merely in the domain of speculation but in the positive form of conduct. The antiquarian aspect of the birth-site of Sri Caitanya was piously utilized by him for the spiritual purpose of establishing the universal religion. The sincere piety and deep erudition of the author of the 'Manual of the function of all souls' (Jaiva-dharma) mark him out from pseudo-followers of Lord Caitanya who have acquired an unenviable reputation for their ignorance and profligacy. These people are specially interested in undoing the work of reform that he initiated by attacking it under the guise of local patriotism and communal interest. This has necessitated scientific examination of the whole issue.
The words 'Gauda' and 'Navadvipa' are found to be closely associated and their connection can be traced in literature to a remote antiquity. The followers of Sri Caitanya are known as the Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava community. The word 'Gauda' etymologically means 'silver' and is identifiable with the 'silver-white island' of the scriptures which is described as one of the two inner-most regions of the highest sphere of the spiritual realm and as the specific dwelling-place of the Divinity in the Form that is most benign to fallen souls.
Navadvipa is similarly connected with the scriptural abode of God forming the innermost part of the 'White Island' and resembling a lotus with eight petals in the centre of which is situated the House of God. These particulars are held to agree with the eight islands disposed in the form of the petals of a lotus round its core which last corresponds to Antardvipa or the middle island in the central part of which, namely, Mayapura, is situated the dwelling of Sri Jagannatha Misra, the House of Godhead (bhagavad grham) in which Lord Caitanya was born.
The coincidences which must appear to be wholly fanciful to an antiquarian who is content to keep his subject outside the range of the Absolute supply a really concrete basis for the contention that the appearance of the Lord was foretold by the scriptures and remained unsuspected till after His actual advent. It is not our purpose to follow this discussion further at this place.
The country of Gauda was much more extensive than Bengal and at one time included the greater part of North-Eastern and North-Central India. There must have been very good reasons for the selection of Navadvipa as a site for their Capital by the independent Hindu kings of Bengal. Navadvipa begins to be described in detail in literature by the followers of Sri Caitanya Deva for an obvious reason.
The fullest topographical description occurs in Bhakti -ratnakara which is in agreement with other works the authenticity of which has passed unchallenged up till now. As the topography applies to a period which is only 450 years old one might expect that armed with such detailed information there should be no insurmountable difficulty in identifying the places to the satisfaction of the most fastidious critic. But it is not really at all easy to settle the old topography due to the vagaries of the river Bhagirathi which has frequently shifted its course during the period over a width of about 10 miles at this point causing the repeated destruction of the inhabited sites and the shifting of their population. There is thus great difficulty in ascertaining the original sites of even those villages which still retain their old names.
Thakura Bhaktivinoda went into this knotty subject with patience and industry. It would fill a volume if we are to reproduce everything that he has written on this subject, only a small part of which was actually published by himself. A summary of a part of the materials collected by him was published in the Sajjana-tosani in 1917-18 to demolish the malicious representations of a plagiarist who tried to throw doubts on the identification of Thakura Bhaktivinoda by dishonestly manipulating the information published by the latter. In this place we shall ' try to give a rough sketch of the position taken by Thakura Bhaktivinoda in regard to the antiquarian issue.
For the purpose of the identification of the geographical site of the different villages that according to Bhakti-ratnakara constituted the tract of the country which bore the name of Nadia, the antiquarian can have no better help than the local traditions. The present names of the villages must in any case deserve his chief attention. Next in order of importance should naturally be any actual topographical descriptions of the sites from the pen of any reliable writer. We know what help the student of the antiquities of India receives at almost every step from the topographical descriptions of Hiuen Tsang.
The description of the topographist must also be adopted as the starting point of the antiquarian enquiry. Bhakti-ratnakara fortunately supplies us with such a starting point providing a connection with the times of Sri Caitanya, It is not necessary at this place to discuss the date of composition of that work. It will suffice for our purpose to accept the current view that that account is at least two hundred years old. But it is the only available comprehensive source.
According to Bhakti-ratnakara the town of Navadvipa is so called on account of the fact that it happens to consist of nine distinct groups of settlements formed by the intersections of the different branches of the Bhagirathi. These nine settlements are named (1) Antardvipa (inner-island), (2) Simantadvipa, (3) Godrumdvipa, (4) Madhyadvipa, (5) Koladvipa, (6) Ritudvipa, (7) Jahnudvipa, (8) Modadrumdvipa, (9) Rudradvipa. Of these nine 'islands', according to the same authority, the first four, in the order of enumeration, are situated on the east bank of the Bhagirathi. The remaining five are on the western bank of the main channel of the same river. The house of God, viz. the residence of Sri Jagannatha Misra, was situated in Mayapura in Antardvipa. This general account is supported wherever such evidence is available, by the topographical notices in all the old writers, including the contemporary biographers of Sri Caitanya.
The difficulty presented by the shifting of the courses of the various branches of the Bhagirathi thus offers no insurmountable obstacle in the way of the enquirer. Many of the old names still exist in this locality. For example the town of Navadvipa bears the old name. It is now applied to the town which is situated on the west bank of the Bhagirathi. Thakura Bhaktivinoda discovered the village of Mayapura on the east side of the present main course of the Bhagirathi, which is located almost opposite the present town of Navadvipa. The name is not Miapura. The Mohammedans of the place themselves also pronounce it as Meya-pura not Miapura. So there is no difficulty about the identity of the name itself as Mayapura.
The name is locally pronounced by the illiterate masses as Meyapura or Mayapura. This is a dialectic peculiarity. The word 'taki' is pronounced as 'teka'. Maja is similarly pronounced as 'Meya'. It is not a case of the short 'i' being rendered by 'e', which was also a favorite practice of the transliterators of vernacular words into English. Sectarian dishonesty must not be allowed to blunt the edge of scientific caution, in dealing with the proper nomenclature of the place. The subject became recently one for official investigation in connection with the naming of Sri Mayapura Post office.
All the resources of fanaticism, corruption and interested, unprincipled intrigue, backed by the literary efforts of mercenary writers, were shamelessly employed in misrepresenting the real fact. But the Postal Department and the district magistrate were nevertheless enabled to find out the untenable nature of the contentions of those who represented that Miapur, and not Mayapura, was the proper name of the village. I have since heard that the superintendent of the Archeological Department was also approached to declare against the identification. But naturally enough nothing came of the effort. I would, nevertheless, join that numerous band of antiquarians who have often expressed their desire in favor of the excavation of the sites of Ballal's Mound and Suvarnabihar being taken up in earnest.
To the person with any antiquarian sense the difficulty is all but solved by the traditions that linger still in the village itself. We know from the villagers that the present Mohammedan inhabitants, who are in occupation of part of Mayapura, are the descendants of recent immigrants. The village was in a depopulated condition before the coming of the Mohammedans. That it was at one time a place of residence of Vaisnavas is also known to these Mohammedans. They also know that it is the Birth-place of Sri Caitanya. They have inherited some names of the different parts of the village such as Vairagi-danga (Vairagi's mound), Kholbhangar-danga (mound where the khol was broken), Barajpota (Brajapattan), Siva-doba (Siva's pool), etc. These names refer to famous incidents in the career of Lord Caitanya and the Vaisnava tradition. There are also current in the village highly significant superstitions. The Tulasi plant grew perennially all over one of these un-occupied homestead lands. Those who had attempted to occupy the land for purpose of habitation or even of cultivation, found that all crops are inevitably destroyed by the irrepressible Tulasi plants arid some terrible harm befalls the occupant. Everyone is also cautioned against following any portion of that particular mound in any way. Many had suffered-terribly for trying to do so. That mound is sacred ground, because Nimai was born there. The Muhammedan inhabitants make offerings to the shrine that was subsequently erected on the spot. They firmly believer that the place possesses supernatural qualities. It would be worthwhile to collect all the current-stories which are fast becoming mythology as the villagers are becoming irreverent and partisan by outside influence.
That these traditions were naturally taken to be genuine is proved by the fact that when the site was identified forty three years ago by Thakura Bhaktivinoda as the village Mayapura where Sri Caitanya was born, no person belonging to the locality disbelieved him. As a matter of fact there was no opposition from any quarter at that time and for a long period afterwards. These facts are known very well to many of the old inhabitants both at town Navadvipa and Krishnagar. If these traditions that are current in the locality had not existed there must naturally have been causes for the gravest doubts as regards the identity of an old site that had stood by the bank of a river which has constantly shifted its course within the memory of living men. The genuineness of these traditions is fully borne out by the detailed descriptions that are found-in the Bhakti-ratnakara. Thakura Bhaktivinoda has identified the present town of Navadvipa with Koladvipa of Bhakti-ratnakara. The town of Navadvipa has preserved traces of its old name of Kulia in the compound-names Kalia-daha, Keblar khal, Koler-ganj, Gadkhalir Kol, Tegharir Kol; these names belonging to localities within the boundaries of the present town.
There is another landmark. The house of Chand Kazi still stands. The house continues to be the place of dwelling-of the descendants of Chand Kazi. Maulana Shirazuddin played a prominent part in the early Career of Sri Caitanya. He happened to be the touzdar in charge of Navadvipa at that time. Alauddin Hussain Shah was then Sultan of Bengal. Chand Kazi tried to prevent the congregational chant, the method of worship which was wholly novel, that had been instituted a short time before by Sri Caitanya. Maulana Shirazuddin was induced by a section of the Hindu residents of Navadvipa to try to put a stop to the new mode of worship. Those Hindus had represented to the Kazi that the worship was opposed to the religion of the Hindus. The rapid spread of the worship, especially among the masses, was stated to be a menace also to the security of the Muslim faith. Much capital was also made of the noisy character of the worship which disturbed the sleep of all peaceful inhabitants.
The house of Chand Kazi is a place of pilgrimage for both Hindus and Mohammedans. Over against the tomb of the Kazi there still stands one of the botanical wonders of the Age in the shape of a Champaka tree which is reputed to be no less than four hundred years old. The house of Chand Kazi was situated on the same side of the Bhagirathi as the residence of Jagannath Misra, the father of Sri Caitanya. This is definitely established by the description of the route of the first nagara-sankirtana headed by Sri Caitanya Himself, that was led by way of a public demonstration to the Kazi's house in defiance of his orders forbidding the congregational chant in Navadvipa.
The details of the route of this first sankirtana along the streets of the city have been preserved in the Caitanya-bhagavata, the earliest of the biographies of the Lord. The work was written by Thakura Vrndavana Dasa, nephew of Srivasa Pandita, in whose courtyard the congregational chant was being performed by the Lord with closed doors at this time. Thakura Vrndavana Dasa writes that the Lord on this occasion took the procession of the citizens along the path that existed in Nadia also at the time the book was being written, along the bank of the Ganges. The description is to this effect, 'The Lord went first of all to His Own bathing ghata. This of course could not be on the other side of the river. The Lord danced long at His own ghata. Thence He went to Madhai's ghata, Barakona-ghata, and the citizens ghata, passed through Ganganagar to Simulia. The village of Ganganagar appears on the Settlement maps down to the year 1917. It is now in the bed of the Bhagirathi. It is quite close to Mayapura. From Simulia the procession went to the Kazi's house via Sridhar's yard. The Bhagirathi was not crossed, and did not require to be crossed.
Nadia was then the collective name of the settlements on the east side of the Bhagirathi. We have the distinct statement in Caitanya-bhagavata, which is quite close to the time of Sri Caitanya, that there is only the Ganges between Nadia and Kulia. The other place names, that occur in the description of the route of the first nagara-kirtana, are Gadi-gachha, Pardauga, Majida, besides the villages of the conch-dealers and weavers. We find in the Caitanya -bhagavata that the Lord after His usual midday nap used to loiter about the different quarters of the town. The quarters that He thus visited included the same villages of the conch-dealers and of the weavers. His return home from His daily afternoon visit to these places is also mentioned. He had not to cross the Bhagirathi to reach home. The village of Gadi-gachha still remains, close to Mayapura and on the east side of the river.
Such corroborative evidence from the most authentic records may be easily multiplied. The reader is referred to a most interesting publication of a very recent date on this subject viz. Citre Navadvipa by Rao Saheb Saradindunarayan Ray who has collected many of the passages. Bhakti-ratnakara mentions that the village of Atopura, which, says the writer, is the same as Antardvipa, had disappeared long ago. But Mayapura was then intact. The book suggests definitely that Atopura adjoined Mayapura. It seems from, these words that the river washed away a large portion of Antardvipa, the inner island not very long after the disappearance of the Lord. The voice of Sridhara could be heard, according to Caitanya-bhagavata, from midway between the yard of Srivasa Pandita and Sridhara's own house.
The existence of the more important quarters of the town at the time of Sri Caitanya on the east side of the Bhagirathi, is testified to by the existing mound that goes by the name of Ballal-dhigi, supposed to be the site of the place of king Laksmana Sena, and also by the Ballal-dighi. It may be noticed in this connection that in Govinda Dasa's karca Ballal-dighi is mentioned as adjacent to the yard of Srivasa Pandita and the house of Ballal Raja as close to the Dighi. There is no tradition connecting any place on the other side of the present course of the Bhagirathi with the Sen kings of Bengal who had their capital at Nadia at the time of the Moslem conquest.
This leads us to the question of the position of the river at the time of Sri Caitanya. We receive no direct help from the maps in this matter. Our oldest maps are not much older than a century. It is, however, a testimony to the continuous existence of the Mayapura portion of the group of villages, which is designated by the name of Antardvipa or the inner island in Bhakti-ratnakara, that the learned compiler of the Statistical Account of Bengal has not failed to mention the place. The interesting passage deserves to be quoted in full.
"To Baira belongs the little town of Mayapura (near the Burdwan boundary) where I am told the tomb exists of one Maulana Sirajuddin who is said to have been the teacher of Hussain Shah, king of Bengal, (1494--1522)," (Statistical Account Vol. 1. P.367). It may be noticed that Hunter spelled the name correctly as Mayapura.
In Bhakti-ratnakara we are told that Suvarnabihar, which appears to be a very old Buddhistic site as yet unexplored, could be seen from the home of Sri Caitanya. This accords with the site of Mayapura. It also proves that the eastern side of the river was more famous in old times than the western and, that also, from a very remote antiquity. The name as well as the site of Suvarnabihar, are still intact. The place is not very far from Mayapura and is on the east side of the Bhagirathi.
Lastly it may be mentioned that the learned author of the Visva-kosa informs us in his preface to Citre Navadvipa that the name Mayapura is found in an old manuscript of an unpublished work which bears the name of Bhavisya Brahma-khanda. The manuscript was first noticed by H. H. Wilson in the Indian Antiquary of 1891. Wilson is of opinion that the work was written shortly after 1550 A. D. In that work Mayapura is stated to be a large village on the bank of the Bhagirathy. The writer of Bhavisya Brahma-khanda does not make any distinction between Mayapura and Navadvipa where he says Gauradeva will appear. The testimony also points to the existence of the name Mayapura from at least as early a date as the name Navadvipa itself, if not from an earlier period.
The information supplied by Major Renell's map is thus indicated in the body of a Judgment and Decree of the High court (of Calcutta), 12th August, 1896, quoted in Citre Navadvipa: "According to Major Renell's map of 1780 there were three places in the river Ganges below Belpukur, where two streams met, one above the island of Nuddia, one below that island and the third below the island of Mohisura............it would probably be the first confluence below Belpukur, which would be meant by the words 'Dogangnir Mura' in the huddabandia of L199. In this proceedings Mr. Danapier on the authority of a decision of Mr, Moore, District Judge of Nadia dated 28th December, 1830 declared that the southern boundary of Jalkar Kasimpur was a point where two streams passing by both sides of old Navadvipa met."
It is easy to trace the first confluence of Jalangi and Bhagirathi at the point in Renell's map called therein Jalkar Dumduma which was situated to the north of old Navadvipa. The second confluence at the southern extremity of Jalkar Kashimpur is identifiable with the present confluence at Hular ghata. There is thus a wonderful consensus of evidence from all quarters which point conclusively to the accuracy and truth of the identification of the ancient site of Mayapura, in the antiquarian sense by Thakura Bhaktivinoda.
I have looked into the papers that have been circulated by a Babaji in favour of Ramacandrapur being accepted as the site of old Navadvipa. His contention is based on the fact of a temple having been erected by Diwan Ganga-govinda Singh for the worship of Rama-Sita, the ruins of which are supposed to be recoverable by proper digging. But I fail to understand how this can supply any connection between the site and that of Mayapura, the Birthplace of Sri Caitanya. In spite of the frivolous nature of the contention and the openly sectarian purpose of the promulgator of the view, it is necessary in the interests of antiquarian truth, to taken notice of the fact that any cause is capable of being backed by a certain member of people by the persistent misrepresentation of the most ignorant type of paid quacks. It is necessary to be above all forms of prejudice, sectarian or otherwise, if the antiquarian issue is to be handled in a really scientific manner.
It is not necessary, however, to confound the antiquarian issue with the spiritual, nor to belittle the later in any way. Those who are curious about the antiquarian issue need not be necessarily curious to know anything about the subject that invests the place with the halo at spiritual interest of the most captivating nature. The life and teaching of Sri Caitanya belong to the category of spiritual events that have much more than a merely earthly interest. Such interest is not in any way comparable with antiquarian or narrow mundane interest. It is this larger issue that invests Sridhama Mayapura with its eternal interest for every soul.
Thakura Bhaktivinoda is our only guide in any endeavor to make the real acquaintance of Sridhama Mayapura, the object of his most fervent longing devotion. He has left most detailed and luminous exposition of the spiritual subject. The circle of Navadvipa is the indivisible spiritual Entity. The circumambulation of spiritual Navadvipa has been instituted on the basis of the exposition of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. The treatment of the antiquarian issue does not touch the fringe of the Absolute. May the pure devotees pardon my effort to treat the spiritual subject by the antiquarian method. May they pardon this performance in consideration of my imperfect desire to save the holy eternal-Abode of Sri Gaursundara by the dedication of a mundane capacity that happens to saddle me and prevents me from directing my attention exclusively to the spiritual issue.
(The Harmonist, Vol. 28, Jan 1931)
Holy Birth Place of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya is an
article by Prof. Nishi Kanta Sanyal, disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati
Gosvami Prabhupada, which is taken from The Harmonist magazine Vol. 28. 1931.