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The NavadWipa Mandala Parikrama is held every year in the Pahalguna month (middle of March). People from all over the world take part in the week long festival held at Navadvipa in West Bengal. Navadvipa Parikrama means visiting the holy places of Navadvipa in groups. Navadvipa is where the Supreme Lord incarnated as Lord Gauranga (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) in kali-yuga to teach the people the best way to attain Him. Navadvipa is one of the holiest places on earth and anyone visiting it will become His perfect devotee as Shrila Narottama Dasa Thakura states,
shri-gauda mandala-bhumi yeba jane chintamani tara haya vraja-bhume vasa
“One who knows the Gauda-mandala-bhumi, the abode of Lord Gauranga, is transcendental and qualified to live in Vraja-bhumi.” Shri Narahari Dasa tells,
navadvipa vrndavana dui eke haya gaura-shyama-rupe prabhu
“Both Navadvipa and Vrindavana are one indeed, where the Lord enjoys as gaura (golden) and shyama (dark) respectively.” Therefore, we should not differentiate between Vrindavana and Navadvipa. The results one can achieve by Vraja-parikrama is possible with the Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama as well.
Navadvipa consists of nine islands- Antardvipa, Simantadvipa, Godrumadvipa, Madhyadvipa, Koladvipa, Ritudvipa, Jahnudvipa, Modadrumadvipa, and Rudradvipa. Taking darshan at Antardvipa in Mayapur, the parikrama visits the islands in the above order crossing the holy River Ganga. At the end, the parikrama reach Mayapur and pay obeisance in the temple of Jagannatha Mishra and Sachidevi. The weeklong parikrama is held from the tithi of Makari-saptami up to the full moon. After concluding the parikrama, the holy devotees take darshan at Mayapur on the birthday of Lord Gauranga and they receive the mercy of both Nitai and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The Navadvipa Dhama is located at the centre of the Gauranga-madala-bhumi, appearing like a large lotus with a hundred petals. The Navadvipa Dhama has a circumference of 270 km (168 miles) with a diameter of approximately 90 km
(56 miles). River Ganga flows through the centre of the Gauranga-madala-bhumi. The Navadvipa is believed to be formed by the force of the waters of the holy Rivers like Yamuna, Bhogavati, Alakananda, Kaveri, Sarasvati, Tamraparni, Brahmaputra, Saryu, Ganga, Manasa Ganga, Krtamala, Vidyadhari, Narmada, Gomati, Mandakini, and Godavari.
The nine islands of Navadvipa resembles like a lotus with eight petals around the whorl and they represent the nine processes of devotional service viz. atma-nivedama (total surrender), shravanam (hearing), kirtanam
(chanting), smaranam (remembering), pada-sevanam (serving the lotus feet), archanam (worship), vandanam (praying), dasyam (service), and sakhyam
(friendship) respectively in the order of the islands listed above.
The nine islands also represent the seven holy cities in Bharat-varsha viz. Mathura, Ayodhya, Haridvar, Varanasi, Kanchi, Avanti (Ujjain) and Dvaraka. The twelve forests in Navadvipa represent the twelve forests of Vrindavana viz. Goluka Mahavana in Antardvipa, Mathuvana and Mathura north of Prthukunda, Nandagrama in Godrumadvipa, Bahulavana in Koladvipa, Govardhana in Koladvipa, Bhadravana in Jahnudvipa, Bhandiravana and Kamyavana in Modadrumadvipa, Talavana in Simantadvipa, Bilvana in Rudradvipa, Khandiravana in Champahatta, and Radhakunda in Ritudvipa.
All incarnations of the Supreme Lord believed to be present in Navadvipa are Narasimhadeva in Godrumadvipa during satya-yuga, Ramachandra in Modadrumadvipa during treta-yuga, Krishna in Koladvipa during dvapara-yuga, and Chaitanya in Navadvipa-dhama during kali-yuga. The primary divinities like Brahma, Rudra, Durga and Indra arrived at Navadvipa-dhama to receive the blessings of Lord Chaitanya. The great sages, the four Kumaras, the six Goswamis and the acharyas of the four sampradayas (Vishnuswami, Ramanuja, Nimbarka and Madhava) are said to be performing great austerities in Navadvipa.
The holiness of Navadvipa is as great as Goloka Vrindavana and therefore anyone who participates in the Navadvipa-mandala-parikrama will be eligible to reach the Supreme Destination becoming a great bhakta (devotee) of Lord Gauranga. In the parikrama held in 2011, four different groups (Bengali, Hindi, Russian and International) participated and they all received the blessings of the Lord. The Bengali group was led by H. H. Gauranga Prem Swami, the Hindi group was led by H. H. Radharaman Swami and H. H. Prabodhananda Saraswati Swami, the Russian and international groups were led by the earnest disciples of H. D. G. Srila Prabhupada and other senior devotees. The next parikrama will be held in March 2012 and we expect to add more number of groups.
The Vedas give precise explanation of the Soul bereft of qualities. The Soul is indescribable and incalculable and is said to be a tiny spark of the Supreme Divinity. That unseen Soul manifests as various embodiments based on the law of karma. From the tiniest unicellular species to the highly intelligent humans, this law verily upholds. From the beginning of the universe to till now, approximately 155 trillion human-years have been passed according to the Vedic calculation. Every Soul including those in all humans wandered in this manifest universe for the same period assuming various sensual bodies. The Law of transmigration of Souls reveals that to reach the level of a human, a Soul may surpass a minimum of 8.4 million species of lives. Lord Krshna tells in Bhagavatam,
nr-deham-adyam sulabham su-durlabham plavam su-kalpam guru-karna-dharam mayanukulena nabhasvateritam puman bhavabdhim na taret sa atma-ha
“When one originally receives a human body effortlessly as the nature’s law of promotion, although it is a very rare gift, it should be considered like a boat with a spiritual guru as its captain. That person should accept My instructions as the wind that drags the boat to cross over the sea of worldly existence and the one who denies this wonderful opportunity to reach the Supreme Destination is a killer of his own self.”
Wealth is essential to lead a life. Nevertheless, anyone attached to wealth alone is lost in this world forgetting the purpose of human life. Lord Krishna tells to those attached in the mire of worldly existence,
svarga-apavargayor-dvaram prapya lokam-imam puman dravine ko-anushajjeta martyo-anarthasya dhamani
“A mortal human life is to achieve the Supreme Lord and is the gateway for liberation. Whoever is attached to wealth will only enter the abode of miserable death-bound existence.” Therefore, those wandering after wealth should take up this golden opportunity to take part in this Navadvipa-mandala-parikrama to associate with the best of the devotees and seek the blessing of the Lord.
The Vedic philosophy describes that in human form, a Soul may take a minimum of 16 lives to reach the Supreme Destination attaining emancipation. Nirvana
(emancipation) is achieved through religious practices. A human Soul originally appears in faiths opposing the eternal Vedic religion. Then it appears in the Vedic religion and finally surrenders to the Lord as a perfect devotee and realise Him. To attain the Lord, we must learn the glorious activities of the Lord manifesting to teach the humans taking the wholehearted association of the pure devotees is essential and it can be achieved participating in the Navadvipa-mandala-parikrama. Therefore, if one wants to reach the Supreme Destination, irrespective of whatever faith one follows and wherever a person resides, please try to participate in the Navadvipa-mandala-parikrama organised at Mayapur.
Prahlada Maharaja tells in Bhagavatam,
shravanam kirtanam vishnoh smaranam pada-sevanam archanam vandanam dasyam sakhyam-atma-nivedanam
iti pumsarpita vishnau bhaktish-chen-nava-lakshana kriyeta bhagavaty addha tan manye adhitam uttamam
“Hearing about the glories of Lord Krshna, chanting the holy names of Vishnu, remembering His pastimes, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering worship, offering prayers, serving the Lord as one can, keeping friendship with the Lord, and taking refuge unto the Lord are the nine means of worshipping Lord Vishnu which I believe is the purest form of devotional service a person can offer.” This is possible during the Navadvipa-mandala-parikrama and an active participant may become eligible to attain the Supreme Destination hearing the glories of the Lord and visiting the holy places of His appearance. Opportunities may not appear always and anyone who misses this invitation may loose the eligibility to attain immortality in this human life.
All those wish to participate in the Navadvipa-mandala-parikrama 2012 should submit an application and the respective fees. The application can be downloaded from www. mayapur. com. For Bengali devotees, the fee will be Rs
600, devotees from Hindi speaking states, the fee will be Rs 700, and for all other participants abroad including Russian, the fee will be Rs 1700 (US$38). Those who wish to avail the shuttle bus service should pay a total fee of Rs 200 (US$4.5) per day. For all other information, please visit our web site www. mayapur. com. We wish the active participation of all blessed Souls.