Mayapura: The Birthplace of Lord Chaitanya
Mayapura is closely associated to Bengali Vaishanvism started by Chaitanya and ISKCON.
Mayapura is one the most holy and peaceful places in India and is the birth place of Lord Chaitanya. He was born just after sunset on the evening of February 18th in 1486. The moon was eclipsed at the time of his birth and the people of Mayapura were engaged, as was usual on such occasions, in bathing in the Ganges, with loud cheers of “haribol” (Literally, “Chant the names of Lord Hari, or Krishna”). Lord Chaitanya performed many of his earlier pastimes here.
Gaudiya (Bengali) Vaishnavas consider Lord Chaitanya to be Krishna himself appearing in the form of his own devotee in order to show the world how one can perfect one’s life by developing love of God.
Mayapura, the place of Chaitanya’s appearance and childhood pastimes is considered to be non-different to Vrindavana. For this reason, Mayapura is an important place of pilgrimage for many Vaishnavas, and over a million pilgrims visit there every year.
Lord Chaitanya appeared under a Neem tree, and for this reason in his childhood he was also called “Nimai”. The Neem tree is still there at the Yoga pitha (the place of the Lord’s appearance). The house of Lord Chaitanya’s father, Jagannatha Mishra and his mother Sachi Devi is still standing at this place.
The world headquarters of ISKCON (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness) is at Mayapura. It was predicted by a Gaudiya Vaishnava saint of the Nineteenth Century, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, that a large city would be built in Mayapura, a prophecy that is now being fulfilled by ISKCON. The main deities worshipped at the ISKCON Mayapura temple are Radha Madhava (Krishna) and the eight principle gopis (cowherd girls). A magnificent Pushpa Samadhi (memorial containing flowers) in honour of Swami Prabhupada was opened in March 1995.
Mayapura is 81 miles north of Calcutta and on the banks of sacred River Ganges.