Navadwipa Mandala Parikrama was initiated some 470 year ago with Lord Nityananda taking Srila Jiva Gosvami on a parikrama of the holy dham.
Nityananda Prabhu said to Jiva, “Although in the eyes of common people, Visvambhara took sannyasa and left Navadvipa to go elsewhere, actually My Gauranga never gives up Mayapur or Navadvipa. The devotees can perceive His daily lila. You, Jiva, will also see Gauranga dancing. Around Mayapur is beautiful Antardvipa, where Brahma received the darsana of Gauranga. O Jiva, if you want to see all this, please go on parikrama. It will be very beneficial for you”.
“Hearing the Lord’s words, Jiva, with tears in his eyes, fell flat like a stick at Nityananda Prabhu’s feet and requested, You will show real mercy on this unworthy wretch if You Yourself take me on parikrama.” – Navadvipa Dhama Mahatmya, by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
In recent times, since its inception in 1918 by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, the Gaudiya Vaisnavas have been performing parikrama around Sri Navadvipa Mandala. In 1972, Srila Prabhupada took some of his disciples on parikrama of Sri Navadvipa Dham, and since that time ISKCON Mayapur has been performing Navadvipa parikrama.
The ISKCON Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama has been steadily increasing in size – from seventy devotees to ten thousand devotees and beyond – and is continuing to grow, not only in size but in activities, destinations and transcendental bliss. Initially, during Srila Prabhupada’s time, ISKCON devotees were doing Navadvipa Parikrama on buses. For the last 30 years devotees have been performing the Parikrama by walking.
In 1996, the year of Srila Prabhupada’s centennial, the ISKCON Mayapur Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama was divided for the first time into two groups – Gauranga and Nityananda – which comprised of the English and Russian speaking devotees, and the Bengali and Hindi speaking devotees respectively. To facilitate the growing numbers of participants, the parikrama was divided into six groups, allowing for smoother coordination and facilitation. Starting 2020, a seventh group for devotees speaking south Indian languages is being introduced.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada expected this Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama to be finely developed so that tens of thousands of devotees could perform it. We pray for the mercy of Srila Prabhupada to bless our humble endeavor to develop Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama. We sincerely hope to fulfill the desires of the previous acharyas by taking on this service.