All glories to Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga

The Unforgettable Sweetness of the Dham

Article by Jagamohini Devi Dasi of USA
writing from Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip,
24 January 2005

jaya gaura-bhakta gana — gaura yanra prana
saba bhakta mili' more bhakti deha' dana

All glories to all the devotees of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, for the Lord is their life and soul. All of you, kindly bestow devotional service upon me.
[Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita]

In a beautiful song, Srila Thakur Bhaktivinoda prays to attain the pure vision of the Dham: Dhamera svarupa, sphuribe nayane. His Divine Grace Srila B.R. Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj says that without this pure vision "the Dham may appear quite ordinary to us, like a jungle." Srila Guru Maharaj tells us that the Supreme Lord is everywhere, but His "concentrated existence," His special intensity, is found in the Holy Dham. When our pure vision, or our real eye awakens we will be able to see, feel and appreciate the transcendental quality of the Holy Abode.

By the mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga we are now here in the holy land of Sridham Nabadwip. Unfortunately, I have no eye to see the true Nabadwip, but fortunately, I am here under the care and shelter of the Vaisnavas. Following their devotional example I feel there is some safety and some sweet hope. In Sri Nabadwip, even the external cover has a luminous beauty. Thomas Merton once said, "There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity." Certainly this is true in Nabadwip Dham, the place of Sri Gaurahari's divine Pastimes.

Early each morning the bells from Sri Sada-Siva Gangadhar's Mandir ring and invite the devotees to the first arati of the day. Next, the pujari boards the small boat and floats across the holy waters of Sri Govinda Kunda to reach the Temple of Sri Giriraj which stands, in the pre-light of this early hour, like a celestial island wrapped in white fog. Following Sri Giriraj's arati we cross the dark road to give obeisance and join the arati offered to His Divine Grace Srila Param Guru Maharaj. Then on to bow down before Their Lordships Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundarjiu and attend Their beautiful arati ceremony. The devotees perform parikrama and as the morning darkness fades they offer prayers to Tulasi Devi and the Vaisnavas.

If it is a clear morning, and if I time it just right, I am able to begin parikrama around Sri Govinda Kunda in time to see the saffron globe of the sun float into the sky from the dark horizon. For a few brief moments its golden light is framed by the doors of Sri Giriraj's Mandir. By this time the birds surrounding Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math are awake and singing happily in the kadamba tree and the long sweet day stretches before us in this Holy Abode. After the previous day's rainfall the monkeys are active and mischievous. Last night they broke several of the clay flower pots surrounding Sri Govinda Kunda.

The surrounding gardens have been planted with hundreds of flower plants that are just now becoming ready to bloom. By Sri Gaura Purnima the gardens will be fragrant and covered with colourful flowers. This morning, the dahlias are the early bloomers and I wonder how many lifetimes, how many forms they have taken before reaching this glorious birth in Sri Nabadwip. Srila Guru Maharaj says that in the Dham "all are in a serving attitude whether birds, beasts, worms, insects — everything — all are contributing to the Reality." These flowers are now opening, stretching for the light as if offering themselves. Every morning I pick two perfect and brilliant dahlias and bring them to the pujari, Bhudev Prabhu, and every morning when the Deities' doors open, Srimati Gandharva is holding the dahlias in her perfect flower-like hands.

Now at the Math it is quiet. Two large preaching parties are travelling from village to village holding programmes and collecting grains for Sri Gaura Purnima. Workers are continuing daily on the new prasadam hall construction here. Painters have assembled scaffolding all the way to the top of the main Mandir and have begun painting the dome and chakra with fresh white paint and pink lotus accents. All the servitors and guests at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math are continuously asking after the health of our beloved Srila Govinda Maharaj and they are constantly missing his immediate divine presence.

Sri Nabadwip Dham's fourth annual 'Sri Chaitanya Boi Mela' — the Nabadwip Book Fair — has just concluded after eight days. This was the third year that Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math has had a book stall at this event which draws thousands of local residents and several well-known classical Indian musicians and singers. Sripad Bhakti Nirmal Acharyya Maharaj had arranged to have the name of His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj along with the name of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math printed boldly on either side the main entrance gate to the fair.

Sripad Bhakti Nandan Narayan Maharaj from Mauritius and Jadu Gopal Prabhu from our Nabadwip Math distributed books to sincere seekers. Surrounded by the books of our divine Sri Guru-varga, I was reminded of the story of how Sri Jiva Goswami sent Sri Srinivas Acharyya, Sri Narottama and Syamananda Prabhu from Vrindavan to Bengal with the books written by the Goswamis. Armed guards were hired to protect the precious cargo of books. As the party approached the town of Vana Vishnupur, the greedy ruler of that town hired thieves to steal what he had heard was a chest filled with a most priceless treasure. When the king opened the chest he found only books covered with valuable cloths. It is said that when he saw Sri Rupa Goswami's pearl-like handwriting on the books the king was immediately freed from past sins and his heart was purified and filled with divine love. Remembering this story I am thinking that the public must be greatly benefited just by seeing here the Math's holy books on display.

Each moment in Sri Nabadwip is so full and slow and drenched in sweetness. But my time here has gone too fast. Morning classes with Sripad Narayan Maharaj and Hari Charan Prabhu have discussed and reminded us about the fragility of this human form. Each passing year, month, day and second brings us closer to the end of this body. Sripad Tirtha Maharaj reminded us how Srila Guru Maharaj advised that we "be a miser with your time." Not to waste these allotted minutes — this flicker of life. We cannot predict how many days we will have in this body or in this world, but somehow we have been graced with the opportunity of sadhu-sanga and sadhu-seva. Without these, we actually do not care for a long life.

Srila Guru Maharaj said, "I am meant for my ideal. I have no time to waste, or to hesitate for anything. If every moment I move in every way with the ideal in my heart, I shall always make some progress towards it. If I can just stay in touch with my ideal, that will guide and inspire me. In any and every action, whatever I shall do or undo, eat, rest, etc., my ideal will be overhead. And that will gradually take me out of all these entanglements and enticements, and one day or other I shall be able to reach it."

Now it is evening time in the Dham. Many guests have come to visit the beauty of Sri Govinda Kunda and attend arati. The blue of the sky has deepened and the moon and stars have risen to compete with the lights above the Mandirs. I am ending here because the sweet kirttans are now beginning in the nat-mandir.

I am offering my heartfelt obeisance to all the steady servitors here at Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip. Their constant service activities are surely the outward signs of their inner grace.

I offer my obeisance to His Divine Grace Srila Govinda Maharaj and all the venerable Vaisnavas and I pray for your kind mercy.

Hare Krishna

Jagamohini Devi Dasi

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