There are "birth-place" temples of Sri Chaitanyadeva at Navadvip and Mayapur,one at the east side and another at the west side of the Ganges.Which place seems authentic? I am interested in knowing the reason.
A study was carried out by Professor K.N. Mukherjee of Calcutta University, in the 1980s, to ascertain Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's birthplace, a few years back. It was the first ever non-Vaishnavite impartial scientific study ever conducted to determine Mahaprabhu's birthplace.
The findings of this investigation can be summarised as follows:
From Rupa Goswami's 8 couplets on the glory of Navadvipa it appears that Navadvipa the place of birth and play of Sri Caitanya, was extended from the beautiful large tank (Dighi) to the Ganga. The maps and records refer to the only dighi in the area and that is the Ballal Dighi in Mayapura.
There is no reference to Mayapura or Nava Dvipas in any contemporary literature or Purana. Navadvipa and Nadia (or Nuddeah or Neddia) were one and the same place, the capital of Bengal of the Sena Kings. At the time of Sri Caitanya it was a forsaken, plundered, desecrated and decaying city. The palace of the Sena Kings (may be belonged earlier to the Buddhist Pala Kings also) is still lying in ruins as Ballal Dhipi near the Dighi.
The tyrant Chand Kazi resided at Kazipara of Simulianagar (in present bamunpukur) of the old Navadvipa City. Through Chand Kazi's tomb there is a massive very old champak flower tree grown, proving the grave to be very old.
Muslims in the Kazipara and Mollapara being disturbed by loud kirtana even in the night from Ramchandrapur, more than 6 km away, is absurd, but it could be possible from Mayapura only 1 km away.
The vivid description of Nimai's (Sri Caitanya) protest kirtana procession from near his residence along the bank of the Ganga to Kazipara, referring to all the bathing ghatas on the way, did not mention Nidaya ghata (opposite Char Nidaya). Nidaya ghata should have been mentioned if the procession started from Ramchandrapur area. But no mention was needed if it started from about the Yogapitha temple in Mayapura, when Nidaya ghata would remain in the opposite direction of Kazipara.
When Nimai left his house to go to Kantaknagar (Katwa) for his sannyasa, he crossed the Ganga at Nidaya ghata, which is far to the NE of Ramchandrapur in opposite direction of Katwa; Nimai could very well cross over from the ghata near his house at Ramchandrapur (much nearer to Katwa). On the other hand from Yogapitha in Mayapura it was more convenient for Nimai to move westward to Nidaya to go to Katwa.
Even when the first concept of Mayapura and Nava Dvipas were propounded in early 18th Century by Narahari Cakravarti, he vividly described Antardvipa to be in the east and Rudradvipa in the west. But Smythe and other map makers showed Rudrapara (Rudradvipa) to the NE of new Navadvipa city as well as of Ramchandrapur (at the centre of Antardvipa?) and not to the west. Whereas Rudrapara remains definitely to the west of Mayapura, conforming the to the description, while the old Ganga flowed in between the two.
A very rare genuinely old (500-600 years) idol of Adhoksaja Visnu was found in 1934 buried in the mound at the present site of the Yogapitha temple of Mayapura (Kedarnath Datta died in 1914). Adhoksaja Visnu was described as the family deity of Nimai's house. It is so rare that neither any such idol was as yet found anywhere else in Navadvipa area, nor was it referred to in any of the historical volumes on Bengal. The idea that somebody kept it concealed from Ramchandrapur for over 400 years to bury it opportunistically at the very place where Yogapitha temple in Mayapura was to be erected is farcical.
The author (a pedologist) found the soil in the Mayapura area to be very compact, deep and humus clay, indicating rather old land formation. But in Kankrhar Matha (Ramchandrapur) north of new Navadvipa, in old Ganganagar (Bharuidanga), present Srinathpur (near Gurhgurher Khal) etc, the soil is distinctly layered fine and coarse silt, indicating that the area was in the bed of the river in not too long past. So, original Navadvipa, being a very old city, should have its area to be of hard clay by now.
Smythe's map showed in 1855 Ballal Sen's old Rajbari (palace) in Bamunpukur and Ballal Sen's old Dighi in ballaldighi mauzas Hunter's Account mentions definitely (1873) Chand Kazi's (Maulana Serajuddin) tomb being in Mayapura.
The 1958 air-photo and thorough ground-survey based map clearly indicates the location of Ramchandrapur to the SW of Rudrapara and Char Nidaya, while Mayapura further to the east of Rudrapara-Nidaya. Both Hunter in 1875 and Survey of India in 1958 referred to Mayapura in its correct spelling and not in the Muslimized form of Meyapur as given only in 1922 edition map.
Therefore, the evidences are very heavy in favour of Mayapura centering at Yogapitha area as the place of birth of Sri Caitanya. The author's considered opinion is that every inch of the old Navadvipa City could be considered as the birthplace of the great savant. The author's conception of the location of the old Navadvipa city and the layout of the Ganga at the time of Sri Caitanya (15-16th Century), based on palaeo-fluviometry. As the old city was extended from Chharh Ganga to Kazipara-Mollapara, Ramchandrapur may be considered as part of the old Navadvipa-dhama. Anyone may raise a temple on any area of the old Navadvipa and may tell that his temple is located in the city of birth of Mahaprabhu. As Basak (1981) has rightly stated, there is no point to quarrel over the issue, when Vaisnavas throughout the world are famed for their humbleness. The savant has taught us to love all and his 500th advent anniversary should be celebrated with love.
You can read more about the study in the article here.
Premananda Bharati was the first person who went to the West to preach the religion of Love of Mahaprabhu.He came to enquire about the original birth place of Mahaprabhu to Sripad Ramdas Babaji, a Siddha Vaishnava and the pontiff of the Radharamana Charandas Babaji lineage. Premanandaji was sent to Him by Sripad Premananda Goswami,Sripad Nilmani Goswami,Sripad Haridas Babaji Maharaj,Sripad Jagadish Das Babaji Maharaj and other Vaishnava Mahatmas residing in Vrindavan.
Babaji Maharaj told them very humbly that Mahaprabhu's birth-place was in the northern part of Navadvip, at the Vaarakona of Vaidik-para.There was a broad roadway going in font of Mahaprabhu's house to the ganga-ghat and just on the opposite side of the bank was the way to Katoa. According to Sri Chaitanya-Bhagavat of Vrindavan Das, Mahaprabhu crossed the ganga from the Baarakona ghat and came to Kantaknagar. That ghat has been named 'nidayaar ghat' (the merciless ghat) from that day. Some part of Mahaprabhu's house was devoured by the Ganga.But the siddha Mahatmas like Jagannathdas Babaji and Chaitanyadas Babaji were engaged in spiritual practices at Navadvip,being sure that Mahaprabhu was born at very side of the ganges.
Listening from these Mahatmas and by His own spiritual realisation, Sripad Ramdas Babaji concluded that Mahaprabhu's birth-place was at Ramchandrapur on the Ganges at Navadvip. In 1791, Dewan Gangagovinda Roy got a temple of 60 ft height constucted at the birth-place of Mahaprabhunat Navadvip.The temple wasdestroyed by the flood in 1823.
Premananda Bharaji returned to Vrindavan and informed the Mahatmas there about the opinion of Sripad Ramdas Babaji. Sripad Brajamohan Das Babaji was an engineer in previous ashrama. He discovered the remains of the temple establishd by Gangagovinda.That place therefore was decided as the birth place of Mahaprabhu and a temple was built. Now the temple is called ' Sri Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu Janmasthan Ashram, Prachin Mayapur, Navadvip.
Miyapur and Mollapara were places dominated mainly by muslims on the opposite (east)side of the ganges. Deputy Magistrate and a devotee Mr. Kedarnath Dutta bought a big plot in Miyapur and being mistaken by the word Mayapur in Bhakti-Ratnakar of Sripad Narahari Das, had built a birth-place temple there, renaming Miyapur which is a muslim word, as Mayapur. The then Vaishnav Mahatmas got very aggrieved and shocked seeing this.(Reference: Vaishnav jagate Sri Radharaman Charandas Babaji Maharaj o Sri Ramdas Babaji Maharaj, Ava Sarkar, Pustak Bipani, page 76-77).
So it seems that the temple at Prachin Mayapur , Navadvip is the authentic birth-place of Mahaprabhu. But other views with logic and evidence are welcome.
According to some researcher, an idol of Vishnu called 'Ashokshaja' has been found buried under the ground at the prsent Mayapur 'Yogapitha'(Birth-place temple) which is shown as a proof of the original birthplace being there.Regarding this I want to mention the following:
1.Mahaprabhu was so much respected throughout the entire Bengal including Navadvip, that His family deity would be buried underground is highly unlikely. The idol of Mahaprabhu worshipped Sri Mata Vishnupriya and His 'paadukas' that Mahaprabhu gifted Her being worshipped at Navadvip till today. I never got mention of Vishnu idol as His family deity in the authentic biographies like Sri Chaitanya-Bhagavata and Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita.
- Mahaprabhu's family was originally worshippers of Shakti. This is mentioned in the well -researched biography of Mahaprabhu by Swami Saradeshananda.(Introduction, page 21).This is also proved by the fact that Mahaprabhu before taking sannyasa gifted a copy of 'Sri Sri Chandi'( Devi-Mahatmya) made by Himself to His great grandfather Sri Upendra Mishrawhile visiting Him at the Varaganga village, Srihatta. This is almost impossible for members of a Vaishnava family.The Chandi was regularly worshipped there at the place known as the 'Chaitanya-bari' in Baraganga Sri Hatta until it was stolen some years ago (Reference: Dr.Jayadev Mukhopadhyay's research-work :Knaha gele toma pai, praachi publications, 1st edition, page 89).
It is recorded that Mahaprabhu visited the Shakti temples like Devi Bhagavati (padmakota), Viraja Devi (Yajpur, Odissa), Gauri Devi (Bhuvaneswar), Kamakshi Devi (Kamakotipura), Devi Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin), and the Lingaraj temple (Bhubaneswar) and worshipped these deities with divine ecstacies. If He were from a Vaishnava family, this behaviour would be very highly improbable. (Ibid. page 91-2).