Antardvipa is the central island of Navadvipa, situated on the eastern bank of the Ganga. The circumference of this island is 10 miles. Yogapitha, where Lord Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu appeared, is located here. Antardvipa is compared to Gokula Mahavana of Vraja-mandala where Lord Krsna took birth.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives the following wonderful description about Antardvip in his book Navadvipa Bhava Taranga:
“The island which lies at the junction of the Ganges and Yamuna is known in the sastras as Antardvipa. Within Antardvipa lies the holy sanctuary of Mayapur, where Lord Caitanya appeared. Know, devotees, that Mahavana, in the center of Goloka, is none other than Mayapur of Navadvipa.
The scriptures sing of a transcendental place called Brahmapur. In that realm, Mayapur shines before one’s eyes freed from illusion. Identical with Sri Gokula in the forest of Mahavan of Braja, and vastly superior to all other places in creation, that place is where the Son of Saci performs His eternal pastimes.
The abode of the gopas and gopis in Braja named Sri Gokula is the same as the abode of the brahmana families in Navadvipa Dhama. In the center of the supremely pure Mayapur is the radiant home of Jagannatha Misra. This is the eternal residence of the Lord.”
Why is this island named Antardvipa?
Antardvipa was previously known as Atopur. Five thousand years ago Brahma came here to worship Lord Gauranga.
Once, five hundred years ego, Isana Thakura took Srinivasa Acarya, Narottama dasa Thakura and Ramacandra Kaviraja on Navadvipa Parikrama. Very early one morning Isana Thakura brought them here and gave them the following explanationas to why this place is known as Antardvipa.
During Dvapara yuga Lord Sri Krishna was displaying His pastimes in Vraja. Everyone including Brahma was bewildered by the illusory energy of Lord Sri Krishna. Once in Vrindavana when Lord Krishna, along with His friends, was grazing calves in the forest, Brahma decided to test Krishna’s divinity. By his yogic power, Brahma stole all the calves and cowherd friends of Lord Sri Krishna. But Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, immediately knew what Brahma had done. Lord Krishna wanted to teach Brahma a lesson He instantly created, from His own transcendental body, exactly the same number of calves and cowherd boys. Thus Lord Sri Krishna destroyed the pride of Brahma.
Defeated by the Lord, Brahma realized his mistake. He understood that he had committed a great offense at the lotus feet of the Lord and so offered prayers to the Lord and begged for forgiveness.
Lord Krishna, out of His causeless mercy, excused Brahma, but Brahma was not satisfied. He thought, “Because of my elevated position as Brahma I am very proud. Therefore, I have been deprived of Krishna-prema and enjoyment of Krishna’s sweet vrajalila. This position of Brahma is useless. If I would take birth as a cowherd boy I would easily be able to serve Lord Sri Krishna, the husband of gopikas. I could not develop the proper mood and I dared to steal the cows and cowherd boys. Due to pride in my elevated position, I fear I may commit the same offense towards the Lord when He comes as Lord Gauranga in Kali-yuga.”
Once, Brahma was sitting alone thinking, “I do not see anyone else who can help me except Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu will descend in the first part of Kaliyuga to bless the people of that yuga. If I worship the Lord in Navadvipa dhama He will definitely fulfill my desire.”
So thinking, Brahma came to Atopur in Navadvipa dhama and worshiped Lord Gauranga with fervor. After the completion of a period of bhajana, the most merciful Lord Gauracandra appeared in front of the four-headed Lord Brahma. The Lord appeared there in His most captivating form, attracting the living entities of the world. All 10 directions were dazzled by the effulgence of His transcendental body. The beauty of His body outshone the splendor of Kandarpa (Cupid). He had a broad chest and long arms. He wore many ornaments. His eyes were large and deep. Love shined in them. His face was radiant like a million moons and a slight smile played on his bow lips.
Everyone was attracted to him. When Brahma saw the Lord of his life, he became ecstatic and could not control himself. He started trembling He began offering prayers to the Lord as his eyes welled up. Brahma fell at the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga. Seeing Brahma in this condition, Lord Gauranga, the son of Saci-devi, embraced him and said, “Oh, Brahma! I am very pleased with your worship. Now I have come to you to fulfill your desire.” Hearing the sweet words of the Lord, Brahma opened his eyes and fainted on seeing Lord Gauranga in front of him. He fell at the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord placed His lotus feet on Brahma’s head and he gained transcendental knowledge. Lord Brahma said, “I am wretched. Due to my pride I forgot Your lotus feet and become engrossed in material pleasures. The scriptures describe myself, Indra, Mahadeva and all other devas as Your servants, but we are not fortunate enough to be Your pure devotees. That is why we sometimes become influenced by Your illusory energy. I have passed the first parardha of my life (half of my life). I am concerned about how to spend the second half of my life-span. I am worried that I will become bahirmukha (averse, turning my face away from You). I pray at Your lotus feet to kindly accept me as Your associate in Your manifested pastime in this Kali-yuga when You will appear in Nadia. Please bless me so that my pride of thinking of myself as Brahma is removed and I chant Your glories, constantly staying in Your association. For this, kindly give me birth in a low family. I am very proud. Kindly punish me in such a way that people hate me. Allow me to develop great attachment to Your holy name. As You have bewildered me in Your previous pastime, please do not bewilder me in this one. I want constant association of Your devotees and to meditate on You always.” Lord Gauranga was very happy to hear Brahma’s prayer. He replied, “So be it. Let your desire be fulfilled. When I manifest next, you will take birth in the house of Yavanas (persons outside of Vedic culture). At that time, you will be completely free from pride. You will be a great devotee known as Haridasa.
You will feel very humble. You will chant 300,000 holy names daily and when you leave your body, you will have My darsana. By the power of your sadhana you will enter My eternal abode, Navadvipa dhama at the end of your life.” Hearing this, Brahma offered obeisance again and again. He said, “O my Lord! You are independent and transcendental to everything. Who can understand Your heart? You have exhibited many pastimes during Your previous incarnations. I do not know which special pastimes You will exhibit when You appear in Nadia. It is no wonder that You will deliver all the living entities. This is a very simple task for You. Please tell me, I wish to hear whether You have any other special purpose for manifesting Your pastimes in Nadia.” Hearing the words of Brahma and looking at him, the Lord spoke from His heart (antar), saying, “O Brahma! Please listen, I will tell you something from the inner core of My heart (antar) but do not describe this fact any where in the scriptures. I will manifest Myself accepting the mood of My devotee and relish the mellows of devotion. I will manifest the most secret sankirtana, giving vrajaprema to devotees of all My other incarnations. Everyone will be a follower of vraja-bhava in the mood of madhurya-rasa. My heart is bound by the love of Sri Radhika and I will descend accepting the mood and bodily color of Srimati Radharani. I will relish the same pleasure which is relished by Sri Radhika in serving Me. From today you are accepted as My disciple and you will serve Me as Haridasa.” While saying this, the Lord’s heart became filled with love for Radharani. His eyes flooded with tears in the desire to fulfill three of His unfulfilled desires of Krishna-lila. The Lord was merciful to Brahma and He informed him of these unfulfilled desires.
kidriso va madiyah
kidrisam veti lobhat
“Desiring to understand the glory of Radharani’s love, the wonderful qualities in Him that She alone relishes through Her love, and the happiness She feels when She realizes the sweetness of His love, the Supreme Lord Hari, richly endowed with Her emotions, appeared from the womb of Srimati Saci-devi, as the moon appeared from the ocean.”(Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 1.7)
The Lord again told Brahma that he would see His pastimes in Navadvipa. After revealing His heart (antar), the Lord disappeared (antardhyana). Therefore, people call this place Antardvipa. When Brahma saw the Lord disappear he fainted in pain of separation. When he came to, he cried, “Ha Gauranga! Ha Dina-bandhu! Bhakta-vatsala! When will I attain Your lotus feet?” After crying for a few days, Brahma went back to Brahma loka to perform his duties. On this island, Lord Gauranga revealed the most confidential desire within His heart (antar) to Brahma therefore it is known as Antardvipa.