bilva-paksham tato gatv
premna samplavayam asa
“Jagat-pati Sri Gaurasundara went to Bilva-paksha and flooded all brahmanas devoted to Krishna and Kancipuram with krishna-prema.” (Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya,Pramana-khanda 4.55)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura states in Navadvipa-bhava-taranga: “In the distance I will see the forest of bilva trees (Bilvavana of Vraja) where the four Kumara brothers remain steeped in meditation on Lord Gaura. And further in the distance I will see the land known as Sankarshana-kshetra where Nityananda Prabhu performs His pastimes. This area is manifest to the learned devotees.”
a) Why is this place named Belpukur or Bilva-paksha?
Isana Thakura has told the story as follows: Belpukur has been addressed as Belpoukhera (Belpoukhariya) in Bhakti-ratnakara by Isana Thakura. Isana Thakura said to Srinivasa, “This village which is now known as Belpoukhera (Belpoukhariya) was previously known as Bilva-paksha. Now I will explain to you why this place has been named Bilva-paksha. Lord Siva was residing here. Who can describe his glories? The most merciful Pancavaktra Mahadeva (five-headed Siva) would fulfil the desire of anyone who asked him anything in the service of Lord Sri Krishna. Once upon a time some ascetic brahmanas were worshiping Lord Siva to fulfil their desires. They worshiped Lord Siva with bilva leaves for a duration of one paksha (a fortnight). Lord Siva became very pleased with them. He looked upon them with a very merciful glance and spoke, ‘You may ask anything that you desire.’ The brahmanas said, ‘Please give us that which you consider to be the greatest.’ Lord Siva said, ‘Surprisingly there is nothing greater than service to Sri Krishna.’ The brahmanas said, ‘O, merciful Lord! If service to Sri Krishna is the greatest thing, then kindly tell us how we can achieve it.’ Panca-vaktra Siva said, ‘Do not worry. You will very easily get the chance to serve Lord Sri Krishna. Within a few days the Lord will appear in this city of Nadia in the house of a brahmana. All of you will also take birth here at the same time and give Him great pleasure in His childhood mood. All of you will study under His guidance as His students and thus understand Him as purna-brahma (Complete Brahman) and sanatana-bhagavan (the eternal Supreme Person).
All of you, by the association of His devotees, will always be engaged in His service with great happiness. By hearing this from Lord Mahadeva all the brahmanas offered prostrated obeisances to him and before leaving they recited many prayers. Then they all went to a solitary place to meditate upon the lotus feet of Sri Krishna.” Isana Thakura continued, “By the desire of Sri Gaura-Krishna, Lord Siva remained hidden there for some time. Because the brahmanas worshiped him with bilva leaves during one paksha (fortnight), this place is called “Bilva-paksha” by learned people. If someone takes darsana of this place Lord Mahadeva will, with great pleasure, arrange for him to meet with Gauracandra which is a very rare blessing”.
b) Nimbaditya (Nimbarka) blessed by the four Kumaras
Sri Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, Parikrama-khanda describes: After crossing the river Ganga Lord Nityananda proceeded for some distance and said to the devotees, “This most beautiful place is Bilva-paksha. Everyone calls this place Belpukur. This Belpukur is non-different from Bilvavana of Vraja-dhama. Fiveheaded Bilvakesa Mahadeva was residing here and the local brahmanas pleased him by worshiping him with bael leaves for a period of two weeks. Mahadeva blessed all those brahmanas to receive krishna-bhakti. One of them was called Nimbaditya and he worshiped Lord Siva very sincerely. Mahadeva mercifully told him, “At the end of this village there is a forest of bilva trees. In that forest of bael fruits, the four Kumaras are engaged in meditation. By their mercy you will achieve transcendental knowledge. The four Kumaras are your spiritual masters. You will receive all wealth from them.” Saying this Mahadeva disappeared. Nimbaditya searched for the place as directed by Lord Siva and found in that bilva forest a beautiful platform upon which the four Kumaras were sitting. (The four Kumaras are four rishis called Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanat-kumara.) They were naked and looked very sober in their meditation. Upon seeing them, Nimbaditya started chanting in great happiness, “Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna.” By hearing the holy name of Lord Hari, the meditation of the four Kumaras broke. All of them were very happy to see a Vaishnava in front of them. Each of the four Kumaras embraced Nimbaditya one after the other. They asked him, “Who are you? Why have you come here? Please tell us, we will fulfil your desires.” Hearing this from the four Kumaras Nimbarka offered them prostrated dandavat-pranama and introduced himself. Hearing of his identity, Sri Sanat-kumara spoke with a sweet smile on his face, “Knowing very well about the severe Kali-yuga, the most merciful Lord wants to spread bhakti-yoga among the people. The Lord empowered four persons and sent them to this material world to preach bhakti. You are one of them, the other three are known as Ramanuja, Madhva and Vishnu Svami. Sri Lakshmi-devi has accepted Ramanuja, Brahma has accepted Madhvacarya and Rudradeva has accepted Vishnu Svami as the acaryas of their respective sampradayas. Today we have come to know you as our own representative and we wish to accept you as our disciple. Previously we were committed to the non-dual advaita concept of the Absolute Truth but by the mercy of the Lord we are now free from that sin. Now, understanding very well that pure devotion is the best, we have composed a samhita named the Sanatkumara- samhita. You will get initiation according to this Sanat-kumarasamhita.” By seeing the causeless mercy of his guru, Nimbarka immediately went to the Ganga to take bath. Upon his return, he fell at the lotus feet of the four Kumaras and said with great humility, “O, deliverers of fallen souls! Please deliver this most fallen soul.” The Kumara brothers offered him the yugala-mantra and taught him how to perform bhajana in bhava-marga.
c) Nimbarka blessed by Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu
After receiving the mantra from the four Kumaras, Nimbarka started worshiping at Siddha-pitha-sthana according to the processes given by the samhita. Out of mercy upon Nimbarka Sri Sri Radha-Krishna appeared there. By the effulgence of Their beautiful forms all directions became lit. With a smile the Lord said, “Nimbaditya! You are very fortunate to perform sadhana here. This Navadvipa-dhama is very dear to both of Us. Here We both appear in Our combined form as the son of Saci.” While saying this, Sri Radha and Krishna manifested Their combined form of Gauranga to Nimbaditya. By seeing that most beautiful form of Lord Gauranga, Nimbaditya became enchanted and said, “I have never seen or heard about such a wonderful form. Where does this wonderful form reside?” Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu said, “Do not reveal this form to the people now, preach Krishna-bhakti to develop more faith in the worship of Sri Radha and Krishna. I enjoy more when Sri Sri Radha-Krishna are worshiped. When I have My manifested pastime as Gauranga we will enjoy the pastimes of learning. At that time you will take birth in the state of Kashmir and travel all over India as a Digvijayi. You will be a well-known scholarly person, Kesava Kasmiri. While traveling all over India you will reach Navadvipa-dhama and stay at Mayapur village. Very learned teachers of Navadvipa will run away just by hearing your name. At that time I will be engaged in vidya-vilasa (the pastime of learning).
I will defeat all of you and thus derive great pleasure. By the mercy of Sarasvati you will understand the truth about Me and take shelter of Me by giving up all pride. When this happens I will give you bhakti and send you to preach this highest knowledge. For the time being you can please Me by preaching the dvaitadvaita philosophy and keeping this confidential information about Me hidden. When I inaugurate the sankirtana movement I will personally preach the essence of all your philosophy.” Mahaprabhu continued, “I will accept two tattvas (concepts) from each of the four Vaishnava sampradayas. From the Madhva-sampradaya I will take the philosophy of refuting advaita-vada and the worship of the deity of Lord Sri Krishna, with the understanding that the deity form is eternal and transcendental. From the Ramanuja sampradaya I will accept ananya-bhakti and service to devotees. From the Vishnu Svami-sampradaya I will accept tadiyasarvasva- bhava (the consciousness that the Lord is everything to His devotee) and raga-marga-bhakti (worship of the Lord imbued with transcendental feelings). From the Nimbarkasampradaya I will accept taking the exclusive shelter of Srimati Radharani and the concept of gopi-bhava.” Saying this Sri Gauracandra disappeared. Nimbaditya started crying profusely with great jubilation and love. He offered his obeisance to his spiritual master and then left to continue his pilgrimage.