The Ganges river at Mayapur
|• Official||Bengali, English|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Telephone code||91 3472|
Mayapur is a holy city located on the banks of the Ganges river, at the point of its confluence with the Jalangi, near Nabadwip, West Bengal, India, 130 km north of Kolkata (Calcutta). The headquarters of ISKCON are situated in Mayapur and it is considered a holy place by a number of other traditions within Hinduism, but is of special significance to followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism as the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, regarded as a special incarnation of Krishna in the mood of Radha. It is visited by over a million pilgrims annually.
Chaitanya's birthplace Yogapith
In 1886 a leading Gaudiya Vaisnava reformer Bhaktivinoda Thakur attempted to retire from his government service and move to Vrindavan to pursue his devotional life there. However, he saw a dream in which Lord Chaitanya ordered him to go to Nabadwip instead. After some difficulty, in 1887 Bhaktivinoda Thakur was transferred to Krishnanagar, a district center twenty-five kilometers away from Nabadwip, famous as the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Despite poor health, Thakur Bhaktivinoda finally managed to start regularly visiting Nabadwip to research places connected with Lord Chaitanya. Soon he came to a conclusion that the site purported by the local brahmanas to be Lord Chaitanya's birthplace could not possibly be genuine. Determined to find the actual place of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes but frustrated by the lack of reliable evidence and clues, one night he saw a mystical vision:
By 10 o'clock the night was very dark and cloudy. Across the Ganges in a northern direction I suddenly saw a large building flooded with golden light. I asked Kamala if he could see the building and he said that he could. But my friend Kerani Babu could see nothing. I was amazed. What could it be? In the morning I went back to the roof and looked carefully back across the Ganges. I saw that in the place where I had seen the building was a stand of palm trees. Inquiring about this area I was told that it was the remains of Lakshman Sen's fort at Ballaldighi.
Taking this as a clue, Bhaktivinoda Thakur conducted a thorough, painstaking investigation of the site, by consulting old geographical maps matched against scriptural and verbal accounts, and eventually came to a conclusion that the village of Ballaldighi was formerly known as Mayapur, confirmed in Bhakti-ratnakara as the actual birth site of Chaitanya. He soon acquired a property in Surabhi-kunj near Mayapur to oversee the temple construction at Yogapith, Chaitanya's birthplace. For this purpose he organized, via Sajjana-tosani and special festivals, as well as personal acquaintances, a massive and hugely successful fundraising effort among the people of Bengal and beyond.that Noted Bengali journalist Sisir Kumar Ghosh (1840-1911) commended Thakur Bhaktivinoda for the discovery and hailed him as "the seventh goswami" – a reference to the Six Goswamis, renowned medieval Gaudiya Vaisnava ascetics and close associates of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who had authored many of the school's texts and discovered places of Lord Krishna's pastimes in Vrindavan.
Mayapur can be reached by boat, and more commonly by train or bus. ISKCON Mayapur travel services, The Gauranga Travels offers cars, and buses on prior booking as per the necessity of the visitor for a safe and comfortable journey. ISKCON Kolkata operates regular bus service from Kolkata to Mayapur. Frequent train service is available to Krishnanagar, Nadia from Kolkata's Sealdah Station, then 18 km by auto or cycle rickshaw to Mayapur. During the visit one can see "the huge headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)" and "a long stream of saffron-robed devotees chanting" the Hare Krishna mantra.
A main attraction in Mayapur is Srila Prabhupada's Pushpa Samadhi Mandir, a memorial to ISKCON's founder. The main shrine is surrounded by a museum depicting Srila Prabhupada's life, using fiberglass exhibits. In 2002, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness was planning to construct a garden in memory of George Harrison. Another must visit is the Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir. This temple has 3 main altars, Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Panca-tattva and Lord Narasimha Deva. These Pancha Tattva deities are the largest deities of Pancha tattva in the world. The Panca-tattva comprises Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Gadadhara Pandit and Srivas Thakur.
There are a number of Gaudiya Vaishnava organizations in Mayapur, such as the Gaudiya Math. The town is heavily centered on this particular Vaishnava religious tradition, officially known as the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya, with temples devoted to Radha and Krishna or Gaura-Nitai throughout; however, there is a sizable Muslim population in the historical center, previously called Miyapur.
The Gaudiya-Vaishnava devotees every year circumambulate the various places of Lord Chaitanya's pastimes in the group of nine islands known as Navdvip. This Parikrama takes about 7 days. This event takes place around the Gaur Purnima Festival (Appearance Day of Lord Chaitanya). ISKCON devotees from all over the world come to Mayapur for this auspicious Parikrama to celebrate the Lord's Divine Appearance Day.
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- Krishnanagar Nadia to Mayapur, Google Maps
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- Dasa, Shukavak N. (1999), Hindu Encounter with Modernity: Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinoda, Vaiṣṇava Theologian (revised, illustrated ed.), Los Angeles, CA: Sanskrit Religions Institute, ISBN 1-889756-30-X, retrieved 31 January 2014
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