An excerpt from Jaiva-dharma.
Eternal Dharma and Idolatry
Chapter Eleven of Śrī Jaiva-dharma
Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur
Published in Śrī Gauḍīya Darśan,
Volume 3, Issue 6,
Saturday, 11 January 1958.
On the western bank of the Ganges is the village of Kuliyā Pāhāḍapur. This well-known village is situated in Koladwīp within Śrī Nabadwīp. In the time of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Śrī Mādhava Dās Chaṭṭopādhyāya, whose was also known as Chhakuḍi Chaṭṭopādhyāya Mahāśay, was honoured and prominent there. Chhakuḍi Chaṭta’s son was Śrīla Vaṁśīvadanānanda Ṭhākur. By the grace of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, Śrī Vaṁśīvadānanda became highly influential. Everyone considered him an Avatār of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s flute and would call him Prabhu Vaṁśīvadanānanda. He became renowned as a recipient of the special grace of Mother Śrī Viṣṇu Priyā. After the disappearance of Śrī Priyājī, Vaṁśī Prabhu moved the service of her Deity from Śrī Māyāpur to Kuliyā Pāhāḍapur. When the descendants of Vaṁśī Prabhu received the mercy of Mother Śrī Jāhnavī Ṭhākurāṇī and took shelter at Śrīpāṭ Bāghanāpāḍā, the service of the Deity remained in the hands of the servitors residing in Mālañcha within the village of Kuliyā.
The village of Kuliyā was on the bank opposite the ancient town of Nabadwīp. Chināḍāṅgā and a few other well-known places were amongst the numerous neighbourhoods in the village of Kuliyā. A devotee merchant from Chināḍāṅgā once organised a spiritual festival at the Temple of Śrīman Mahāprabhu in Kuliyā Pāhāḍapur. Numerous brāhmaṇ scholars and all the Vaiṣṇavas from the thirty-two mile area of Nabadwīp were invited to the festival.
On the day of the festival, Vaiṣṇavas came from all directions. Śrī Ananta Dās and others from Śrī Nṛsiṁha Pallī, Gorāchā̐d Dās Bābājī and others from Śrī Māyāpur, Śrī Nārāyaṇ Dās Bābājī and others from Śrī Bilvapuṣkaraṇī, the well-known Narahari Dās and others from Śrī Modadruma, Śrī Paramahaṁsa Dās Bābājī, Śrī Vaiṣṇava Dās, and others from Śrī Godruma, and Śrī Śachī Nandan Dās and others from Śrī Samudragaḍ began to arrive. They were all radiant with tilak on their foreheads, stands of tulasī beads around their necks, and the Names of Śrī Gaura and Nityānanda marked all over their bodies. They had Śrī Hari-nām mālās in their hands, and some of them were loudly chanting the mahāmantra: “Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.” Some approached playing the kartāls and chanting “Saṅkīrtana mājhe nāche Gorā vinodiyā: delightful Gorā dances amidst the saṅkīrtan.” Some arrived dancing and chanting: “Śrī Kṛṣṇa Chaitanya Prabhu Nityānanda Śrī Advaita Gadādhara Śrīvāsādi Gaura-bhakta-vṛnda.” Many had streams of tears in their eyes, and the hair on many of their bodies stood on end. Some fervently cried out, “O youthful Gaura! When will Your eternal Pastimes in Nabadwīp appear before my eyes!” Some of the Vaiṣṇavas arrived playing the mṛdaṅga and chanting the Name. Seeing the deep mood of the Vaiṣṇavas, the Gaura-nāgarīs¹ residing in Kuliyā were astonished.
Arriving in this way, the Vaiṣṇavas assembled in the Temple in front of the Deity of Śrīman Mahāprabhu. The merchant organiser, with a cloth around his neck, fell at the feet of the Vaiṣṇavas, repeatedly supplicated them, and made gestures of deep humility. When the Vaiṣṇavas had sat down in the Temple, the servitors of the Deity brought over prasādī garlands and placed the garlands around the necks of the Vaiṣṇavas. Then, a kīrtan of auspicious songs about Śrī Chaitanya arose, and upon hearing the nectarean Pastimes of Śrī Chaitanya, the Vaiṣṇavas experienced various types of divine ecstasy.
Just as everyone became immersed in the joy of divine love, the gateman came in and informed the Temple authority, “The head mullah of the Sātsaikā district has arrived with his party and is seated in the outer courtyard. He wishes to converse with some Vaiṣṇava scholars.” The Temple authority informed the Bābājī scholars of this. Upon being informed, the Vaiṣṇavas felt a sort of sadness as a result of this interruption in rasa. Kṛṣṇadās Bābājī Mahāśay of Śrī Madhyadwīp asked, “What is the intention of the mullah sahib?” The Temple authority came to know from the mullah sahib his intention and then reported, “The mullah sahib wishes to discuss spiritual subject matters with some Vaiṣṇava scholars.” The Temple authority went on, “The mullah sahib is the foremost scholar within the Muslim community, is fully dedicated to propagating his dharma, and does not oppress other dharmas. He is highly respected by the emperor in Delhi. He has requested that a few Vaiṣṇava scholars please come out and discuss scripture with him so that the pure Vaiṣṇava dharma may be defeated.”
Hearing of this opportunity to propound the Vaiṣṇava dharma produced the desire to converse with the mullah sahib within the minds of a few of the Vaiṣṇavas. After conversing amongst one another, it was decided that Śrī Gorāchā̐d Dās Paṇḍit Bābājī of Śrī Māyāpur, Śrī Vaiṣṇava Dās Paṇḍit Bābājī of Śrī Godruma, Śrī Prema Dās Bābājī of Jahnu Nagar, and Śrī Kali Pāvana Dās Bābājī of Champā Haṭṭa would converse with the mullah and all the other Vaiṣṇavas would join them once the kīrtan was completed. Chanting, “Jay Nityānanda!”, the four mentioned bābājīs went to the outer courtyard with the Temple authority.
The outer courtyard was idyllic, pleasant in the shade of a banyan tree. Seeing the Vaiṣṇavas’ arrive, the mullah and his party respectfully received them. Knowing every soul to be a servant of Kṛṣṇa, the Vaiṣṇavas offered obeisance to the Lord situated within the heart of the mullah and sat down on a separate āsan.
It was an extraordinarily beautiful sight. On one side sat nearly fifty white-bearded, finely dressed Muslim scholars, and behind them were tied finely decorated horses. On the other side four Vaiṣṇavas adorned with divine vision sat humbly, and behind them, numerous Hindus gradually arrived and sat down with great interest.
[To be continued …]
1: Gaura-nāgarīs: those who think Gaura to be a libertine.