As Śrī Jīva approached Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, he offered his obeisance from a distance and fell unconscious. Some time later he composed himself and, with his hairs standing on end, he entered Navadvīpa-dhāma.
Upon arriving in Navadvīpa, Jīva met with Vaiṣṇavas whom Nityānanda Prabhu had sent to bring him. Upon hearing Nityānanda Prabhu’s name, Śrī Jīva became unconscious and fell to the ground.
The Vaiṣṇavas took Jīva Gosvāmī to Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, who was in internal consciousness, singing the pastimes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the company of the Vaiṣṇavas. Upon seeing Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu’s transcendental form, ecstasies arose in the body of Jīva Gosvāmī, and he fell unconscious.
The supremely compassionate Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu lifted Jīva up and accepted him as His own associate. Jīva Gosvāmī, overcome with emotion, prayed to Nityānanda Prabhu.
tomāra karuṇā vinā gaura nāhi pāya
śata janma bhaje yadi gaurāṅge hiyāya
Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma Mahātmya 5.34
Even if someone worships Gaurāṅga in his heart for a hundred births, without Your kind mercy he will not be able to attain Gaura.
Jīva prayed, “Please give me Your mercy and sanction to obtain Gaura’s darśana and develop attachment to Him. Śrīman Mahāprabhu ordered me to study Vedānta and to reveal kṛṣṇa-bhakti as explained therein. Accepting Mahāprabhu as my only shelter, I took His order to heart and studied many subjects as much as I could. However, in Bākalācandradvīpa, I could not find any vedānta-ācārya to my liking. Now I have come to You in Navadvīpa and am surrendering unto Your lotus feet. Whatever You order I will follow. If You give me your blessings, I will go to Jagannātha Purī and study Vedānta from Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya.”
Taking Śrī Jīva on His lap, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu began to weep and said, “O Jīva, I came here just to meet with you; otherwise I would have stayed in Khardaha. Mahāprabhu has ordered Me to send you to study Vedānta under Śrī Madhusūdana Vācaspati and from there to go straight to Vṛndāvana, to be with Śrī Rūpa and Sanātana.
“Under Rūpa’s guidance, perform bhajana of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and preach the spotless Mahā-purāṇa, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, for it is the essence of all scriptures and the genuine commentary on Vedānta-sūtra. Śrī Gaurahari explained Vedānta to Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya according to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and he in return carefully taught this knowledge to Śrī Madhusūdana Vācaspati in Jagannātha Purī. Madhusūdana Vācaspati now lives in Vārāṇasī and you should go there and meet him.”
After thus speaking, Jīva performed saṅkīrtana along with Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrīvasa Paṇḍita, and the other Vaiṣṇavas. Śrī Jīva stayed in Śrīvāsa-aṅgana, and again met with Nityānanda Prabhu in the evening.
Jīva enquired about the nature of Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma. Nityānanda Prabhu explained this highly confidential topic. He said, “As Śrī Kṛṣṇa never leaves Vṛndāvana to go elsewhere, similarly Śrīman Mahāprabhu never leaves Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma. Only from an ordinary viewpoint does Mahāprabhu take sannyāsa and leave Navadvīpa, but in reality Śrī Gaurāṅga Mahāprabhu never leaves Māyāpura in Navadvīpa-dhāma to go elsewhere.
“Devotees still witness Gaurāṅga’s daily eternal pastimes in Navadvīpa, and in time O Jīva, you will too. If you want to see all the pastime places of Śrī Gaura in Navadvīpa-dhāma, then you should perform parikramā.”
Hearing Nityānanda Prabhu’s advice, Śrī Jīva replied,
“O Lord, please give this poor soul Your mercy and take me on parikramā.” Nityānanda Prabhu, completely free from any pride, happily agreed to be Śrī Jīva’s guide.
Nityānanda Prabhu first took Jīva to Jagannātha Miśra’s house, where He said to Śacī Mātā, “O Mother, this supremely intelligent Jīva is a dear servant of Śrī Gaurāṅga. He is very lucky.”
Jīva fell unconscious in ecstasy. Upon awakening, he rolled on the ground at Śacī Mātā’s lotus feet. Mother Śacī mercifully
blessed Śrī Jīva.
Śrīmatī Viṣṇupriyā-devī was also present, but she would always remain inside the house, along with Śacī Mātā, Vaṁśīvadanānda Prabhu, and Īśāna Ṭhākura, who was an aged servant of the household who had helped the family for a few generations. Īśāna Ṭhākura performed his services under the guidance of Vaṁśīvadanānda Prabhu, the incarnation
of Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s flute.
Even before Mahāprabhu accepted sannyāsa, Viṣṇupriyā-devī would never be seen outside of the house. She would go to the Gaṅgā in the darkness at three in the morning, bathe, and then come back in her wet clothes. During the day, she prepared the meals and only honored some remnants after Mahāprabhu, Śacī Mātā, Vaṁśīvadanānda Prabhu, and Īśāna Ṭhākura had all eaten. No one saw her during Mahāprabhu’s manifest pastimes, nor after His disappearance. But now, Mahāprabhu had told her,
“Give darśana to My son and bless him.”
Viṣṇupriyā opened the door and Jīva offered prostrated obeisance to her. She placed her feet on Jīva’s head and said, “Mahāprabhu instructed me to accept you as my son, and to give you a responsibility. The Lord has left, and I will also leave soon. Always remember that, in this life, it is your responsibility to do nāma-sevā, dhāma-sevā, vigraha-sevā, and grantha-sevā.” Thus, the responsibility of service to the holy names, the holy places, the Deities of the Lord, and the Vaiṣṇava scriptures was given to Jīva Gosvāmī. He joyously accepted that divine instruction as the wealth of his life.
That day, all the devotees took prasāda in Mahāprabhu’s house. On the order of Śacī Mātā, Viṣṇupriyā-devī prepared rice, vegetables, and many varieties of dishes. Vaṁśīvadanānanda Prabhu offered the bhoga to Mahāprabhu and Īśāna Ṭhākura arranged the sitting place. He joyfully served prasāda to Nityānanda Prabhu and the other Vaiṣṇavas. Jīva accepted the remnants of Nityānanda Prabhu, after He had finished.
Viṣṇupriyā-devī is Lakṣmī-devī herself. She is Bhakti-svarūpiṇī, the personification of pure devotion. By honoring the mahā-prasāda that she cooked, Jīva felt most fortunate and satisfied.
Nityānanda Prabhu next blissfully took Jīva to Śrīvāsa-aṅgana and there glorified the pastimes of Lord Gaurāṅga. Jīva became agitated by prema and began rolling in the dust of Śrīvāsa’s courtyard. As he rolled in the dust, Mahāprabhu’s various pastimes awoke in his heart. Standing up, he suddenly saw an astonishing sight, Śrī Gaurāṅga was dancing with His intimate devotees.
mahā-saṅkīrtana dekhe vallabha-nandana
sarva-bhakta-mājhe prabhura apūrva nartana
Navadvīpa-dhāma Mahātmya 5.54
Vallabha-nandana witnessed that great saṅkīrtana and extraordinary dancing of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, who was splendidly situated amongst all the devotees.
Śrī Advaita Ācārya, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita, and Śrī Haridāsa Ṭhākura were dancing and singing along with Śrī Śuklāmbara and hundreds of other devotees. Seeing all this, Śrī Jīva was overwhelmed by prema and fell unconscious. Our ācāryas state:
adhyāpiha se līlā kare gaurarāya
kona kona bhāgyavana dekhibare paya
Even now, Mahāprabhu’s pastimes are occuring in Navadvīpa-dhāma. Mahāprabhu never leaves His dhāma, but only fortunate people can see these pastimes.
māyā kṛpā kari jāla uṭhāya jakhana
āṅkhi dekhe suviśāla cinmaya bhavana
Śrī Navadvīpa-bhāva-taraṅga 11
If the illusory energy māyā mercifully lifts her covering, one can behold the magnificent spiritual abode, along with the pastimes of the Lord.
Bhagavān’s names, abode, and service are all transcendental and eternal. This is realized by the mercy of Mahāprabhu’s beloved associates.
Nityānanda Prabhu took Jīva to all the pastime places of Mahāprabhu in Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma. Wherever they went, Nityānanda Prabhu would reveal the pastimes that took place there, and these would then manifest before the eyes of Jīva.
When they had visited all the holy sites, checking His emotions, Nityānanda Prabhu asked Jīva, “In how many days from now will you go to Vṛndāvana.”
“O Prabhu,” Jīva said, “I cannot disobey Your order. But still, how can I go? I have offered myself to Your lotus feet, and do not wish to leave Your feet for one moment. I will stay here and serve the dhāma and Mahāprabhu. I will stay in the āśrama
of Viṣṇupriyā, my mother. Please allow me to do so.”
“Listen Jīva, Vṛndāvana has disappeared. Kṛṣṇa’s pastime places must be revealed. The āśramas, temples, śāstras, and spiritual leaders have disappeared. You must go, Jīva. Go to Vṛndāvana and do this service. Give dharma-śikṣā to the world. There is no greater service than this. Dharma rakṣati
rakṣatah —dharma protects its protectors. Therefore, go and uphold dharma.”
“O Lord,” Jīva said, “before I leave I have something I want
to ask. Please answer for my own good. Navadvīpa-dhāma is non-different from Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Why, then, make the effort to go to Vṛndāvana separately?”
Nityānanda Prabhu replied as follows, “This matter is most deep. Listen carefully.
navadvīpa-vṛndāvana haya eka tattva
paraspara kichu nāhi hīnattva-mahattva
Navadvīpa-dhāma Mahātmya 17.13
Navadvīpa and Vṛndāvana are one identical truth. We cannot think of either being superior or inferior to the other.
“Although Śrī Vṛndāvana is the reservoir of rasa, it is impossible for unqualified persons to attain it. Therefore, that very Vṛndāvana-dhāma grants qualification to relish rasa upon the jīvas by manifesting as Navadvīpa. Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are the quintessence of all rasas and, therefore, no one can quickly achieve the qualification to enter them. Just by going to Vraja one cannot have that rasa. Because of aparādha, rasa becomes unpalatable.
“By taking shelter of nāma and by living in Navadvīpa-dhāma, qualification for rasa comes and all types of offenses
are forgiven. In this way, by obtaining Gaurahari’s mercy, the jīva attains Vṛndāvana, the abode of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes.
“Although Vṛndāvana is present in this Navadvīpa-dhāma, you now have the qualification to enter Śrī Vṛndāvana, the pastime abode of Śrī Yugala-Kīśora. Vraja-dhāma is now your shelter. O Vallabha-nandana, the duty of mankind is to obtain qualification for vraja-rasa by first taking shelter of Navadvīpa-dhāma.”
Jīva Gosvāmī became very happy hearing Nityānanda Prabhu’s answer. Catching Nitai’s reddish lotus feet, Jīva asked, “Many living beings live in Navadvīpa-dhāma, but they don’t perform kṛṣṇa-bhakti because of their offenses. How then can the Vaiṣṇavas be assured that they will not commit offenses?”
In answer to Śrī Jīva’s question, Nityānanda Prabhu spoke to the assembly of Vaiṣṇavas, explaining confidential spiritual truths. He explained the nature of dhāma-tattva, the living entities, sambandha, rasa-tattva, and gaura-tattva. Only by the sādhus’ mercy can sambandha with Gaurahari awaken
and one become free from offenses. Then one becomes a true resident of the dhāma. Everyone else is blinded by false pride and resides only in māyā’s covering.
“O Jīva, soon Rūpa and Sanātana will explain all these things to you. Śrī Gaurāṅga has granted you the qualification to stay in Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Therefore, O Jīva, do not wait any longer; go to Vraja.”
Srila Jiva Gosvami ki Jaya! (Excerpted from the Bhaktabandhav book publication, “Srila Jiva Gosvami”. Available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )