Śrī Sīmantadvīpa

Andhera-Cakse-AnjanaAndhera Cakṣe Añjana (Salve for the Eyes of the Blind)
Sri BhagavatacaryaŚrī Bhāgavatācārya

‘Śrī Sīmantadvīpa’ was first published in volume 2 of Viṣṇupriyā Patrikā in 1891. In this article, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura narrates some of the features and pastimes of Mahāprabhu on the island of Sīmantadvīpa.

Śrī Sīmantadvīpa

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Swami B.V. Giri)

‘Sīmantadvīpa is north of Antardvīpa. Sīmuliyā is the main village in Sīmantadvīpa. We find this verse in the Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata:

bārakoṇā-ghāṭe nagariyā-ghāṭe giyā
gaṅgāra nagara diyā gelā simuliyā

(“After going to Bārakoṇā Ghāṭa and Nāgariyā Ghāṭa, the Lord went through Gaṅgānagara to Simuliyā.”- Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.300)

The śāstra says that the word sīmulī originates from the word sīmantinī. The name of that place where ādyā-śakti Bhāgavatī used to sit and pray to Śrīman Mahāprabhu is Simuliyā. The village of Simuliyā was intact at the time of that Śrīman Mahāprabhu appeared. At some point, in the course of the flow of the Bhāgīrathī River, the village of Simuliyā was almost destroyed. The exact land near the tree under which Śrīmatī Parvatī performed austerities is still present. The people of Śrī Navadvīpa still worship the goddess Sīmulī (Sīmantinī) there. This land was recently discovered in the north-western part of Lakṣmaṇa Sena’s fort. To its north-west there is a dry stream of the Gaṅgā. Śrī Sīmantadvīpa extends from the north-western side of Ballāl-Dīghi to Rukunpura. Most of it falls under the village of Bilva Puṣkariṇī. Śrī Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura has written the following verses. We have taken them from different places.

nadīyāra ekānte nagara simuliyā
nācite nācite prabhu uttarilā giyā

(“Continuously dancing, the Lord entered Simuliyā, a secluded town in Nadīyā.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.348)

kājīra bāṭīra patha dharilā ṭhākura
vādya-kolāhala kājī śunaye pracura

(“When the Lord approached the Kazi’s house, the Kazi heard the tumultuous sound of musical instruments.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.359)

āsiyā kājīra dvāre prabhu viśvambhara
krodhāveśe huṅkāra karaye bahutara

(“Arriving at the Kazi’s house, Lord Viśvambhara roared loudly in anger.”- Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.387)

kājīre kariyā daṇḍa sarva-loka-rāya
saṅkīrtana-rase sarva-gaṇe nāci’ yāya

(“After chastising the Kazi, the Master of all danced with all His associates in saṅkīrtana-rasa.”- Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.418)

praveśa karilā śaṅkha-vaṇika-nagara

(“He entered the town of conch-shell merchants” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.428)

āilā ṭhākura tantu-vāyera nagara

(“The Lord went to the town of the weavers.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.433)

nāciyā calilā prabhu śrīdharera vāse

(“The Lord danced to the residence of Śrīdhara.”- Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.436)

bhāṅgā eka ghara mātra śrīdharera vāsa
uttarilā giyā prabhu tāṅhāra āvāsa

(“The Lord entered Śrīdhara’s residence which was simply a dilapidated house.”- Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.437)

sabe eka lauha-pātra āchaye duyāre
kata ṭhāṅi tāli tāhāha core o nā hare

(“All he had was an iron water-pot which he kept at the doorway. It had been repaired many times and not even a thief would take it.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.438)

lauha-pātra tuli lailena tata-kṣaṇa
jala piye mahāprabhu sukhe āpanāra

(“Suddenly picking up the iron water-pot, in His own ecstasy, Mahāprabhu drank from it.”- Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 23. 440-441)

While reading this description of Śrī Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura, if we go from the city of Kazi to Śrīdhara’s residence then we will see the house of Kazi and his samādhi nearby and can reach the viśrama-sthala (resting place) after crossing Śaṅkharipāḍā’ (locality of the conch-shell merchants) and Tāṇtipāḍā (the locality of the weavers) which is filled with gardens. That resting place is the residence of Śrīdhara. The devotees came in great numbers to the town of the Kazi and the līlā of his chastisement occurred – Vaiṣṇavas can still easily see that līlā-sthāna. How beautiful is the samādhi of Cāṅda Kazi! A large round campaka tree can be seen there. Many mahātmās come to that place from time to time. Even today, the respected descendants of the Kazi serve mahātmā Vaiṣṇavas. Even now, there are still many palm trees at the residence of Śrīdhara. People close by here claim that Mahāprabhu rested here for some time during the kīrtana, and the Kazi came there with devotion and became favourable to the kīrtana sampradāya. The name of the town of the Kazi is Brāhmaṇa Puṣkariṇi. The local people call that place Bāman Pukura. The village is located in the northern part of Ballāl Dīghi. The village is small but beautiful to look at. There is a small bazaar there. If you want to spend the night in Sīmantadvīpa, pilgrims can stay in this bazaar. At the time when Mahārāja Lakṣmaṇa Sena ruled there, the place was considered to be a major city. Lakshman Sena’s fort, high-rise palaces, large temples and many homes belong to brāhmaṇas were visible to passersby. Ballāl Dīghi is in the southern part of the city. Seeing the size of Ballāl Dīghi, it seems that there was no such lake anywhere else in Bengal. Of all the lakes we have seen such as Mahāpālā Dīghi, Rāma Sāgara, Kṛṣṇa Sāgara etc., Ballāl Dīghi is bigger than all of them. It is said in the śāstra that in the Satya Yuga, Pṛthu Mahārāja dug a lake called Pṛthu-kuṇḍa at this place. When the kuṇḍa was almost lost, Lakṣmaṇa Sena renamed the lake after his own ancestor, Ballāl Sena. Pṛthu-kuṇḍa was therefore a great place of pilgrimage for the Āryan people of Ballāl Dīghi. It was a long quadrangle situated on high ground where the homes of the main people of, what was then known as Navadvipa at that time, were located. During the reign of Lakṣmaṇeya Sena, the son of Lakṣmana Sena, Bhaktiyar Khilji used his army to deceive him and occupied the town of Navadvīpa. From that time on, the Muslims domination was very strong. Some of these wicked Muslims would destroy the buildings and temples built by the Sena dynasty kings, and all the Deities would be thrown into Ballāl Dīghi. Even today, if you dig in Ballāl Dīghi, all these Deities will be uncovered. Considering all these evil deeds of the powerful Yavanas, the brāhmaṇas on the far side moved a little to the south and settled in Śrī Māyāpura Dhāma. Although the brāhmaṇas abandoned Ballāl Dīghi, many merchants remained around there. The nearest bazaar to them was on the banks of the Gaṅgā. Probably Bārakoṇā Ghāṭa was in one part of the bazaar.

Much of Ballāl Dīghi belongs to Antardvīpa in the middle of the lotus of Śrī Navadvīpa. Sīmantadvīpa begins on the north-western side of the lake. We think that Śrī Nīlāmbara Cakravartī Mahāśaya’s residence was in the northern part of the Kazi’s town. Although his abode is called Bilva Pukhuriyā in the book Prema Vilāsa, we believe that his residence was not far from the Kazi’s house. Kavirāja Gosvāmī writes in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta:

grāma-sambandhe cakravartī haya mora cācā
deha-sambandhe haite haya grāma-sambandha sāñcā

nīlāmbara cakravartī haya tomāra nānā
se-sambandhe hao tumi āmāra bhāginā

 bhāgināra krodha māmā avaśya sahaya
mātulera aparādha bhāginā nā laya

(“According to our village relationship, Cakravartī was my uncle. A village relationship is greater than a physical relationship. Nīlāmbara Cakravartī is your maternal grandfather, thus according to this relationship, You are my nephew. An uncle will tolerate the anger of his nephew, and when an uncle makes an offence, the nephew will not accept it.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 17.148-150)

Reading this, it is believed that Nīlāmbara Cakravartī’s home was in Bāman Pukura, the village of the Kazi. It is also believed that a part of the Bilva Puṣkariṇī was spread out and Bāman Pukhariyā was nearby at that time. Since Nīlāmbara Cakravartī resided in between the two villages, Śrī Nityānanda Dāsa describes Cakravartī as a resident of Bilva Pukhuriyā. Anyhow, there can be no doubt that the house of Śacī Mātā’s father was in Sīmantadvīpa.

There are many ponds in the village of Bāman Pukhariyā. There is a legend in that place that some Devas convinced Viśvakarmā to dig sixty ponds in one night, from Bāman Pukhariyā to Suvarṇa Vihāra. Starting from Suvarṇa Vihāra, the last of the sixty ponds that were excavated is in Bāman Pukhariyā and is close to the home of Cakravartī Mahāśaya. The name of that pond is Śaṣṭhi Puṣkaraṇī.  Śrī Kavi Karṇapura and Śrī Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura have hinted at this. Thus we find in Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata:

avataribena bali prabhu jāniyā vidhātā
sakala sampūrṇa kari thuilena tathā

navadvīpa-sampatti ke varṇibāre pāre
eka gaṅgā-ghāṭe lakṣa loka snāna kare

(“Knowing that the Lord would advent, providence provided all prosperity in advance. Who can describe the opulence of Navadvīpa? On one ghāta at the Gaṅgā, hundreds of thousands of people would bathe.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 2.56-57)

Śrīman Mahāprabhu and His associates subdued the Kazi and, with thousands of Vaiṣnavas, went to Suvarṇa Vihāra and the various islands such as Godruma – understanding that water would be needed on the way, the four-faced Brahmā ordered Viśvakarmā to dig the sixty wells. The shape of a pond can still be seen at Śrīdhara’s residence. Śrīdhara himself drank from an iron pot. All the accompanying Vaiṣṇavas removed the fatigue of their journey by drinking the water from Viśrama Kuṇḍa.

There are two places in the northern part of the Kazi’s town called Śonadāṅgā and Śardeṅga. Śardeṅga is a corruption of Śabaradeṅgā. The service of Śrī Jagannāthadeva goes on there. There is a legend that at the time when Kālāpāhāḍ wreaked havoc upon Jagannātha, then the Dayitas and Śabaras took the three Deities of Jagannātha, Baladeva and Subhadrā and took shelter within Navadvīpa at Śabaradeṅgā for some time. Thus Śabaradeṅgā is a mahā-tīrtha, and a destination for pilgrims.

Rukmapura or Rukunapura is at one end of Sīmantadvīpa. This place is a tīrtha of Śrī Baladeva. There Baladeva, along with a noble brāhmaṇa, bathed in the Gaṅgā. The name of this place is Rāma Tīrtha in the Garga Saṁhitā. A tīrtha of Baladeva is naturally the tīrtha of our Nitāi Cāṅda. Even today Rukunpura is called Śrī Vāsu-Jāhnavā Pāṭha. Śrīman Nityānanda Prabhu married Śrīmatī Vasudhā Devī and Śrīmatī Jāhnavī Devī, the two daughters of Śrī Sūrya Dāsa Sarakhela, in the village of Baḍagāchhi and performed pastimes in Rukunpura for some time. Thus, Rukunpura is a destination for pilgrims. There is some duty to perform in Śrī Sīmantadvīpa by those fortunate persons who are wealthy. If they wish to fulfil the purpose of their wealth, they should offer the service of installing Deities of Sīmantinī Devī and Śrīman Mahāprabhu there. It is the duty of wealthy people to install Deities in the places of Bhagavān’s pastimes. In the present area of the village of Sīmulī, it is necessary to install the Deity of Mahaprābhu being worshiped by Sīmantinī. It is better to establish pastime Deities in the places of those līlās than to build temples and build ghāṭa in other places. Obviously at each place a service should be established. There are many līlās described of Śrīman Mahāprabhu at the residence of Kholāveca Śrīdhara. There is a great need to establish a Vaiṣnava āśrama and a pastime Deity at that place. If service is established in that place, many Vaiṣṇavas will be able to stay, and that resting place after the kīrtana will be revealed.

There are many līlās of the Lord described at Sīmantadvīpa, such as in the 10tth Chapter of the Ādi-khaṇḍa of Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata:

nagare āsiyā kare vividha vilāsa
sabāra sahita kare hāsiyā sambhāṣa

(“Within the city, the Lord enjoyed various pastimes and as He conversed with everyone there, He smiled.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 10.105)

nagare bhramaṇa kare’ śrī-śacīnandana
devera durlabha vastu dekhe sarva-jana

uṭhilena prabhu tantu-vāyera duyāre
dekhiyā sambhrame tantu-vāya namaskare

bhāla vastra āna prabhu balaye vacana
tantu-vāya vastra ānilena sei-kṣaṇa

prabhu bale e vastrera ki mūlya lai
tantu-vāya bale tumi āpane ye dibā

mūlya kari bole prabhu ebe kaḍi nāi
tāṅti bale daśe pakṣe dio ye gosāñi

vastra laiyā para tumi parama santoṣe
pāche tumi kaḍi more dio samāveśe

tantu-vāya-prati prabhu śubha-dṛṣṭi kari

(“Śrī Śacīnandana wandered through the town seen by all, even though He is rarely seen even by the Devas. The Lord went to the house of a weaver. Seeing Him, the weaver offered his respects. “Bring some good cloth” the Lord said, and the weaver immediately brought some. The Lord asked, ‘How much is this cloth?’ The weaver replied, ‘Give me whatever You like.’ After settling the price, the Lord said, ‘I have no money now.’ The weaver replied, ‘You can give it to me in ten or fifteen days, Gosāi. Take the cloth and be happy wearing it. You can pay me whenever You like.” The Lord mercifully glanced at the weaver.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 10.107-113)

gandha-vaṇikera ghare uṭhilena giyā
sambhrame vaṇik kare caraṇe praṇāma

prabhu bale āre bhāi bhāla-gandha āna
divya-gandha vaṇik ānila tata-kṣaṇa

ki mūlya laibā bale śrī-śacīnandana
vaṇik balaye tumi jāna, mahāśaya

tomā sthāne mūlya ki nite yukta haya
āji gandha pari ghare yāha ta’ṭhākura

kāli yadi gā ye gandha thākaye pracura
duile o yadi gā ye gandha nāhi chāḍe
tabe kaḍi dio more yei citte paḍe

eta bali āpane prabhura sarva-aṅge
gandha deya vaṇik nā jāni kon raṅge

(“The Lord went to the house of a perfume merchant. The merchant offered respects to the Lord’s feet and the Lord said, ‘O brother, bring some of your best perfume.’ Immediately, the perfume merchant brought some wonderful perfume, and Śrī Śacīnandana asked him, ‘What is the price?’ The merchant said, ‘You already know, mahāśaya. Is it right for me to take money from You?  Today try this oil and go home. Tomorrow, if the fragrance remains after You take bath, then You pay me whatever You like.’ Saying this, the merchant applied the perfume on the body of the Lord. Who knows what happiness he derived from this.”- Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 10.122-128)

madhu-purī-prāya yena navadvīpa-purī
eko jāti lakṣa-lakṣa kahite nā pāri

(“The city of Navadvīpa was like the city of Mathurā. Millions of people belonging to different communities resided there.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 10.143)

tabe gaura gelā śaṅkha-vaṇikera ghare
dekhi’ śaṅkha-vaṇik sambhrame namaskare

prabhu bale divya śaṅkha āna dekhi bhāi
kemane vā laimu śaṅkha kaḍi-pāti nāi

divya-śaṅkha śāṅkhāri āniyā sei-kṣaṇe
prabhura śrī-haste diyā karila praṇāme

śaṅkha lai ghare tumi calaha gosāñi
pāche kaḍi dio nā dile o dāya nāi

(“Then Gaura went to the home of a conch merchant, who upon seeing Him, offered his respects. The Lord said, ‘Show Me a beautiful conch, brother. But how will I take when I have no money?’ Then the merchant placed a beautiful conch in His divine hand and offered Him respects. The merchant said, ‘O Gosāi, take this conch back home with You. Pay me or don’t pay me, it doesn’t matter.’” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 10.146-149)

tabe icchāmaya gauracandra bhagavān
sarvajñera ghare prabhu karilā payān

dekhiyā prabhura teja sei sarva-jāna
vinaya-sambhrama kari’ karilā praṇāma

prabhu bale tumi sarva-jāna bhāla śuni
bala dekhi, anya-janme ki chilāṅa āmi

bhāla bali sarva-jña sukṛti cinte mane
japite gopāla mantra dekhe sei-kṣaṇe

(“Then the fully independent Gauracandra went to the home of an astrologer. Seeing the Lord’s effulgence, he offered respects with humility. The Lord said, “I have heard that you are a good astrologer. Can you look and tell Me who I was in My past life?’ ‘Very well,’ the pious astrologer said, and at that moment, he mentally began to chant the gopāla-mantra.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 12.153-156)

nija iṣṭa mantra yāhā cinte anukṣaṇa
sarvajña dekhaye sei sakala lakṣaṇa

(“By meditating on the mantra of his worshipable Deity, the astrologer saw the omnipotent Lord and all His attributes. – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 12.161)

eteke cintite prabhu balila hāsiyā
ke ami ki dekha ke nā kaha bhāṅgiya

sarva-jña balaye tumi calaha ekhane
vikāle kahimu mantra japi bhāla mane

bhāla bhāla bali prabhu hāsiyā calilā
tabe priya-śrīdharera mandire āilā

(“Seeing him thinking, the Lord smiled and asked, “Who am I? What did you see? Please break your silence.’ The astrologer said, ‘You please leave now. In the afternoon, I will tell You everything after I have chanted my mantra properly.’ The Lord smiled and said, “Fine, fine!” and left. Then he went to the home of his dear Śrīdhara.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 12.177-179)

prabhu dekhi śrīdhara kariyā namaskāra
śraddhā kari āsana dilena vasivāra

(“When Śrīdhara saw that the Lord had arrived, he offered his respects unto Him and respectfully gave Him a seat to sit upon.’- Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 12.181)

ei-mata śrīdharera saṅge raṅga kari
āilena nija-gṛhe gaurāṅga śrī-hari

(“In this way, after joking in the association of Śrīdhara, Śrī Hari Gaurāṅga returned to His home.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 12.214)

In the north-eastern section of the Kazi’s town are the residences of the perfume merchant, the conch merchant and the home of Śrīdhara. The confluence of Brāhmaṇa Puṣkaraṇī and Bilva Puṣkaraṇī may be specified as the residence of the astrologer. Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura Prabhu has described the afternoon līlā of the Lord altogether. However, all these līlās did not occur in one day. On some days, some līlās happened. We will eventually point out the places of those līlās. It is necessary that in all these līlā-sthānas, devotees establish Deities in relation to those līlās and inaugurate service to Them. In the future, we will publish a discussion about Śrī Godrumadvīpa.

(‘Śrī Sīmantadvīpa’ was first published in volume 2 of Viṣṇupriyā Patrikā in 1891, and translated into English by Swami B.V. Giri)
Andhera-Cakse-AnjanaAndhera Cakṣe Añjana (Salve for the Eyes of the Blind)
Sri BhagavatacaryaŚrī Bhāgavatācārya

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