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Padma Academy Students 
Honor Navadvipa Dhama

By Urmila devi dasi and Campakalata devi dasi
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Introduction
By Urmila devi dasi

"How to have our students’ minds absorbed in the appearance of the Lord in His form as Caitanya Mahaprabhu?" Campakalata devi dasi, gurukula school teacher and gurukula graduate, pondered. Gaura purnima, the anniversary of the appearance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, was approaching in six weeks. "A major artistic project that we can work on bit by bit for many weeks will certainly help them meditate on the Lord."

When Sitarani devi dasi, age 12, suggested dioramas, Campakalata decided to make nine of them—one for each of the islands that form the greater area of Lord Caitanya’s birthplace. There are wonderful stories of saints and the Lord that took place on each of these islands of Navadvipa. Students and teachers picked one main story per island and fashioned a diorama on a base shaped like lotus petals and a center, as Navadvipa’s shape resembles that of a lotus.

Each student took responsibility at least for a figure; some older students made a whole petal. The youngest children made a bed, and flower bushes. As they completed the project, the students were amazed that they were capable of making realistic figures, and appreciated how Lord Caitanya and His devotees manifested themselves through their work. When the completed sculpture was exhibited at the festival, Bir Krsna Maharaja, governing body commissioner for North Carolina, decided that the work should be on permanent display in the new temple, under Plexiglas.

Padma Academy is in Hillsborough, North Carolina. For more information, contact Mayapurcandra dasa, principal (mayapur@com.org), Campakalata devi dasi, teacher (campaka@com.org), or Urmila devi dasi, teacher (urmila@com.org), or call 919-643-2001

Website: www.radharani.com 

The Nine Islands of Navadvipa Dhama
By Campakalata devi dasi

Navadvipa Dhama is in the shape of a lotus flower. It is composed of nine islands separated by different holy rivers. Eight of the islands form an eight- petaled lotus surrounding the island of Antaradvipa (Mayapur), the birth- place of Lord Caitanya.

Antaradvipa
The Birthplace of Lord Caitanya

This island is also called Mayapur and is the birthplace of Lord Caitanya. At the time of Lord Caitanya’s birth, there was a lunar eclipse. To ward off its inauspicious effects, all the people of Navadvipa (or Nadia as it was called at that time) bathed in the holy Ganges and chanted the names of Krsna. Lord Caitanya, who had remained in His mother’s womb for 14 months, chose this auspicious time, while everyone was chanting His name, to appear. Although He would later be named Visvambar and eventually called Lord Caitanya, His mother, Saci, affectionately called her beautiful, golden son Nimai, after the Neem tree beneath which He was born.
Made by Danista

Simantadvipa
The Kazi Surrenders to Nimai

The gravesite of Nadia’s Muslim ruler, the Chand Kazi, is located here. Once, in an attempt to thwart Nimai’s sankirtana movement, Chand Kazi stormed into a devotee’s house. He broke a mrdanga and declared that anyone who dared chant this Hari Nama again would be converted to a Mohammedan. The devotees became afraid of the Kazi’s declaration. But Lord Caitanya told them not to fear. He ordered them to gather a huge chanting party with which to storm the Kazi’s home. The Kazi became fearful upon seeing the power of the Lord, and after first attempting to hide, he was finally coaxed from his home. Once outside, he recounted a dream he had in which Lord Nrsimhadeva had warned him never to again disturb the Lord’s kirtana. The Kazi thus humbly accepted Lord Caitanya’s chastisement, declaring that henceforth the devotees would be free to sing the Holy Name as they pleased.
Made by Sitarani, Kundalata, and Ananda

Godrumadvipa
Nimai Grows a Mango Tree

Once, the Lord was performing Sankirtana with His devotees. After chanting and dancing for a long time they became very tired and sat down to rest. Seeing how tired they were, the Lord took a mango seed and planted it in the ground. The minute it was planted, the seed sprouted and began to grow. As the astonished devotees looked on, the full-grown tree soon hung heavy with hundreds of mangos. These mangos had no seeds inside and no skins outside. They were so sweet and filled with so much juice, that after eating only one each, the devotees were completely satisfied.
Made by Campakalata and Jahnu

Madhyadvipa
Lord Siva Rides Brahma’s Swan

On this island there is a forest called Naimisaranya where, at the beginning of Kali Yuga, thirty-three thousand sages assembled to hear the Srimad Bhagavatam spoken by Srila Suta Goswami. Lord Siva, who was also eager to hear this narration, mounted His bull carrier, Nandi, and left His abode in Mount Kailash. However, He feared that the recitation would end before His arrival because Nandi was too slow. So He abandoned Nandi and mounted Brahma’s swift swan carrier who brought Him to Naimisaranya just in time.
Made by Ananda

Koladvipa
Jagannatha Das Babaji Dances

Jagannatha das Babaji’s samadhi is located here. This great acharya in our line lived over 150 years ago. He was regarded as the chief of the Vaishnavas. In 1893, when he was 142 years old, he went with Bhaktivinoda Thakur to try to find the real birthplace of Lord Caitanya. He was so old that he could not walk and his body was stooped over. His eyelids drooped so much that if he wanted to see something, his disciples would have to hold his eyelids open with their fingers. He was able to travel to the holy places of Navadvipa in a basket, which his disciples carried on their heads. Despite his condition, when he reached the spot where Lord Caitanya was born (in Antardvipa), he jumped out of his basket twelve feet into the air and began to dance in ecstasy.
Made by Sachi and Parijata

Ritudvipa
Nitai Falls Unconscious

Once Lord Nityananda, along with His associates, entered the wonderful forests of Ritudvipa. The beauty of the forests reminded the Lord of His intimate pastimes with Krsna as Krsna’s older brother, Balarama. In the mood of Balarama, Lord Nityananda called out, "Quickly bring Me My horn! My cowherd friends are far ahead of Me. Krsna is fast asleep and won’t get up. I can’t herd these cows alone." The devotees with Him tried to calm Him. They reminded Him who He actually was. They said, "Oh Nityananda Prabhu, Your brother, Lord Caitanya, has gone and taken sannyasa, leaving us here alone." Lord Nityananda became so heartbroken at hearing this that He lost consciousness.
Made by Kundalata, Danista, and Campakalata

Jahnudvipa
Jahnu Muni Releases Ganga

Near Kapila’s asrama, in this island of Jahnudvipa, a great muni named Jahnu once had his asrama. One day while sitting in meditation, he heard the deafening roar of the Ganges River as she followed Bhagiratha. Afraid that Ganga would destroy the planet, Jahnu Muni swallowed her up in one gulp. Bhagiratha was overcome with anxiety. Ganga was supposed to liberate his ancestors. With great devotion, he began to worship Jahnu Muni, offering beautiful prayers. Pleased with Bhagiratha’s sincerity, Jahnu Muni allowed Ganga to emerge from his ear. Thus, Ganga is known as Jahnavi devi, the daughter of Jahnu Muni.
Made by Sitarani, Lalita, and Campakalata

Modadrumadvipa
Saranga Thakura Initiates a Dead Boy

There was once a devotee during Lord Caitanya’s time named Saranga Thakur. Lord Caitanya was very pleased with Sarangadeva’s devotion and asked him to make some disciples. Sarangadeva assured the Lord that the next day he would initiate the first person he saw. The next morning, as he was about to step into the Ganges to bathe, he saw a boy’s dead body float past. Remembering his promise to Lord Caitanya, he brought the dead boy’s body to the shore and chanted the initiating mantras into his ear. As soon as the dead boy heard the mantra he came back to life. He offered his obeisances to the feet of Sarangadeva and told him, "Yesterday I was undergoing a ceremony to accept initiation but a black snake came and bit me. I can’t remember anything after that."
Made by Cintamani

Rudradvipa
Lord Caitanya Takes Sannyasa

In Rudradvipa there is a place named Nirdaya which means "merciless." While His devoted wife, Visnupriya, slept, Lord Caitanya left His home in Antaradwip to take sannyasa. He traveled to the west and crossed the Ganges River to this village in Rudradvipa. Though His purpose in taking sannyasa was to deliver all the fallen souls, the act appeared merciless, hence the name "Nirdaya."
Made by Radhika, Campakalata, and Balarama

Notes:

Sachi and baby Nimai were made by Danista, age 10.

The Kazi was made by Kunda, age 14

Angry Lord Caitanya was made by Sitarani, age 11.

Mango Lord Caitanya was made by me.

Mango Devotee was made by Jahnu and me.

Siva and Swan were made by Ananda.

Jagannatha Das Babaji and "Catching" devotee were made by Sachi, age 15.

Covering mouth devotee was made by Parijata, age 15.

Unconscious Nityananda was made by Kundalata.

Open mouth devotee was made by Danista.

Sad, frowning devotee was made by me.

Jahnu Muni and Bhagiratha were made by Sitarani.

Ganga was made by me.

Saranga Thakur and dead boy were made by Cintamani, age 16.

Sleeping Vishnu Priya was made by Radhika, age 16.

Sannyasa Lord Caitanya was made by Balarama (age 7) and me.

Padma, Jahnu and Bala made the flower clusters.

Jahnu and Bala made Vishnu Priya's bed (with Radhika adding the frills).

© CHAKRA 20 July 2002

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