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Guru-parampara - 2

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17.Brahmanya Tirtha
18. Vyasa Tirtha
19. Laksmipati Tirtha, Visnu Puri
20. Madhavendra Puri
21a. Isvara Puri
21b. Nityananda Prabhu
21c. Advaita Acarya
22. Lord Caitanya
23a. Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami
23b. Svarupa Damodara
24. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami


17. Brahmanya Tirtha

He was the third descendant from Rajendra Tirtha in the senior line of disciples coming from Vidyadhiraja Tirtha. I could find very little on his life, save and except where B.N.K. Sharma says that it was due to the blessings of Brahmanya Tirtha that the parents of Vyasatirtha (Brahmanya Tirtha's disciples), owed the birth of their children - notably of Vyasatirtha.

As his permanent residence, Brahmanya Tirtha lived mostly at Cannapatna or Abbur in Karnataka State, as mentioned in the Vy-carita, Page 26. There he had a Mutt of his own which later he was to entrust to his disciple Sridhar Tirtha. His other disciple was the famous Vyasatirtha. It is so unfortunate that these great devotees' lives have slipped into obscurity, whether it was by their choice out of humility or just the influence of time. I guess now we will never really know. The Lord has his plan.

18. Vyasa Tirtha

Otherwise known as Vyasaraya and Vyasaraja Swami, as we briefly mentioned, he was the disciple of Brahmanya Tirtha. Born around 1460 AD in the village of Bannur in Mysore district, his father's name was Rallanna Sumati and his gotra was Kasyapa. As previously stated, he took his birth by the blessings of Brahmanya Tirtha. Altogether, Vyasatirtha's parents had three children, a girl and two boys. In his childhood Vyasatirtha was known as Yatiraja. At the age of five he underwent the vidyarambha samskara to begin his formal education, starting with writing the alphabet, and at seven took upanayana (the sacred thread.) He stayed at gurukula for only four years after that. At eleven he went to his home and continued his studies of poetry, drama and grammar for about five years. Before Vyasatirtha's birth, his father promised his second son to Brahmanya Tirtha. He gave the boy the name Yatiraja to indicate his future as a renunciate, and in due course he was given to Brahmanya Tirtha as an assistant. After some time, however, Yatiraja, being unsure of Brahmanya Tirtha's intentions, slipped away and ran into the forest and headed for the direction of "home," away from the hermitage. One night whilst sleeping in the forest under a tree, Lord Visnu came to him and told him what to do. The teenager returned to the asrama hermitage that very same day and shortly after this, upon proving his dedication to his guru, young Yatiraja was formally initiated and given the name Vyasatirtha.

Some time shortly after the two year famine of 1475 and 1476 Brahmanya Tirtha, his guru, left this world. Vyasatirtha came to the Vedanta Pitha about 1478 in his late teens. Due to his young age and little time spent with his guru, he didn't really know the conclusions of the Madhva sastras very well, so he went to Kancipuram to study, where, after a very short time, he became a renowned pandit. Whilst in that area he was entrusted with the worship of Srinivasa (Lord Visnu) at Tirupati. Vyasatirtha's Mutt is still at Tirupati on the hill (Tirumala). Before leaving that place, after about twelve years of being there, he gave the worship over to his disciples.

In local history corresponding to the time, it is mentioned that the King of Bisnaga used to listen daily to a great Madhva Vaisnava sannyasi who had never married or touched a woman in his life. Though his name is not directly mentioned, history infers that this was Vyasatirtha.

From Kancipuram he went to Vijayanagar and became known for his radical statements regarding Brahmanism, Vaisnavism, varnasrama, and who was worthy to worship the Lord. It was at this time and place where he was challenged to a debate by brahmana pandits from all over India. The pandits were led by the learned brahmana Basava Bhatta of Kalinga (Orissa). They all pinned their challenges to the pillars of the palace. After a thirty day discussion, Vyasatirtha emerged triumphant and his reputation earned him the respect of King Krsnadevaraya (1509) who regarded him as guru and gave him all honors. He awarded him the order of the camel on a green flag and a drum on the back of a camel as a mark of respect. This is still kept by the Vyasaraya Mutt at Gosale. Once the flag was taken by King Nrsimha in his attacks against the Muslim sultans who caused threats and violence to devotees and temples in South India, but between Krsnadevaraya, Sivaji and others, the sultans were stopped before getting very far.

There are many nice stories telling of the great King Krsnadevaraya, who ruled the Vijayanagar kingdom on the Tungabhadra River in Karnataka in connection with his guru. Vyasatirtha gave the King formal initiation and then out of gratitude and love for his guru, Krsnadevaraya had made beautiful Deities of Vitthala (Krsna) and Rukmini and established the fine Vitthala Rukmini temple which still stands there today. On the temple wall there are inscriptions giving the date 1513 AD and refers to Vyasatirtha as the guru of Krsnadevaraya. There is also mention of Vyasatirtha ceremonially bathing Krsnadevaraya at his initiation, following in the method of Madhvacarya's puja manual entitled "Tantrasara" (Chapter 2.10-11), in which the Tantrasara points out that the ceremonial bathing (abhiseka) of a disciple by the guru adds to the glory of the disciple. As we can see by the next brief story, this did make him glorious.

Once a Gajapati King of Orissa tried to humiliate Krsnadevaraya by sending Advaita Mayavadi philosophical points to him to try to catch him out, but on the instructions and potency of his guru Vyasatirtha, Krsnadevaraya was, as usual, victorious. Out of gratitude Krsnadevaraya gave the village of Bettakonda to Vyasatirtha in 1526, and a huge lake was dug for the pleasure of guru called Vyasa samudra. The dates vary from 1523, 1524 and 1526 by various records, but all the points are substantiated by the writings of devotees of the time, including Purandara dasa. It is also recorded that Krsnadevaraya literally bathed Vyasatirtha in jewels as well, performing "Ratnabhiseka" (bathing him in jewels). Generally to install a person, an abhiseka is done with ghee, milk, yogurt, gaur, honey, sugar-water and tender coconuts in this part of the country, but this was done with priceless gems. After the death of Krsnadevaraya in 1530, Acyutaraya continued to honor Vyasatirtha for a few years until Vyasaraya's demise. Krsnadevaraya, by the way, is always referred to as probably the most spiritually enlightened of the Vijayanagar dynasty. He established many fine temples and Deities in this area under the guidance of Vyasatirtha. To this day there still stands the Deity of Laksmi Nrsimha standing twenty five feet tall in the banana fields. The Deity was carved from one stone under Krsnadevaraya's instructions. After his demise, the invading Muslims smashed many temples out of their envy of Vaisnava culture. Many Deities like Vitthala Rukmini and Krsnaswami were moved further south, but although the Muslims tried to smash the Deity of Lord Nrsimha, still He stands, though His temple lies in rubble around Him. This old and sacred place is the old Kiskinda mentioned in the Ramayana where Hanuman was born and where Rama killed Vali and put Sugriva on the throne.

There are numerous glories of Srila Vyasatirtha to be sung. It is not unintentional that I have said "sung" in his connection, for the highly controversial and powerful preacher, the third moon of the Madhva line, was always absorbed in harinama sankirtan. Many say this was due to the influence of his teacher, Sripadiraja Swami, who is renowned for his poems and songs glorifying Lord Sri Krsna. Some say he was the instigator of the Hari dasa or Dasakuta Movement. Anyway, during his life Vyasatirtha established 732 temples of Hanuman all over South India and composed poems and songs based on the Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata and Ramayana.

One day after composing his famous work called "Krsna Ni Begane Baro" which, for the last four centuries has become a Bharat Natyam dance repertoire, a strange thing happened.

Vyasatirtha was taking a little rest when Lord Sri Krsna appeared in his dream and proceeded to address him. "You are a sannyasi, you do not have any wife or children. On the other hand, I am very much married and leave a large family - so why is it that you only call Me Krsna?" From that day on in any further compositions, Vyasatirtha always referred to his Lord as Sri Krsna.

Once Vyasatirtha was sitting upon the pitha amongst his many, many disciples, when out of nowhere one low-born farmer happened to come into the assembly requesting mantra diksa initiation from Vyasatirtha. The farmer humbly begged, but in his humility he was persistent. The many other disciples, who were mostly brahmana stock, viewed him as being completely unqualified due to his birth and education, or rather lack of it - not being born in a brahmana family like all the other disciples. Vyasatirtha however, being pure and free from bodily conceptions of birth, etc. was of a different mind and to everyone's amazement Vyasatirtha told the farmer to chant the name of Yamaraja's bull. Going away and coming back after some time after chanting that name, the farmer's voice was again heard. "Swamiji, Swamiji, he is here," the farmer exclaimed. When the devotees peaked outside the Mutt, to their surprise there was Yamaraja's bull Mahisa, big as a mountain, right there outside the door of the Mutt. "Now what shall I do Swamiji?" the farmer inquired from Vyasatirtha. Vyasatirtha instructed him to take the bull to the river where there was one huge boulder that hundreds of men couldn't move. The farmer went to the river and requested the bull to move the boulder out of the main stream of the river to allow the water to flow to reach the crop irrigation areas downstream. That rock, which was in itself like an island amidst the river, the bull submerged beyond sight simply with the lifting of his hoof and resting it upon it. To the delight of everyone the water again began to flow. Soon after this incident the bull returned to Yamaraja, his master. The farmer then asked Vyasatirtha for more service. Vyasatirtha, who was always compassionate, then engaged him in looking after the Mutt's gosala.

Not long after that, an annual festival for the Deity came around on the calendar, and a huge festival was put on for the Lord. The high point was the abhiseka bathing ceremony in which the Deity was to be bathed in many different auspicious by-products of the cow. However, just as the bathing commenced, the Deity of Udupi Krsna suddenly disappeared right in front of everyone's eyes. Everyone was very confused except for Srila Vyasatirtha, who asked all the assembled devotees to conclude as to what had happened. The debating took some time and the disciples came to their conclusion that due to the offense of allowing the low-born farmer to look after the cows and procure the milk, yogurt, ghee, etc. for the puja, the Lord had disappeared.

Indirectly they were blaming their guru, saying that this was his offense, for they were still on the bodily concept of life, thinking themselves as brahmanas and he a mere vaisya farmer.

Vyasatirtha very tolerantly tilted his head and asked everyone to follow him for a moment. Everyone went to the gosala headed by Vyasatirtha. As they looked into the gosala they saw the farmer scrubbing down the cows, brush in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. In his total absorption of serving the Lord's cows, the farmer didn't even notice that the Deity had manifested His Gopal form and was standing beside him holding the bucket for him. Needless to say, all of his disciples were amazed that Udupi Krsna personally served this non-brahmana farmer, but Srila Vyasatirtha explained that, "No, the Lord had come to serve His pure devotee. Previously he came for Acarya Madhva to have him glorified and now he has found another worthy soul." Srila Vyasatirtha later formally initiated the farmer as his disciple.

Vyasatirtha passed away at Vijayanagar on the caturthi (fourth) day in the dark fortnight in the month of Phalguna (Jan-Feb), corresponding to Saturday 8th March, 1539 AD. His tomb remains on the island of Navavrindavanas in the Tungabhadra River, half a mile from Anegondi (Hampi).

Vyasatirtha was, as some say, almost the second founder of the system of Madhvacarya, after the great Madhvacarya. Vyasatirtha influenced many, including the aristocracy, and many of his disciples traveled north preaching his glories to places which included Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Maharastra, and even Rajasthan and Uttara Pradesh.

According to Kavikarnapura in his Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika, Vyasatirtha wrote the famous book, "Sri Visnu Samhita", and had a disciple by the name Laksmipati Tirtha who was originally from North India.

The following is a story in connection with the disciple of Vyasatirtha who was given the name Laksmipati Tirtha, and who became the next to be recognized as the acarya in the line in which we follow.

19. Laksmipati Tirtha

Once Lord Balarama (Krsna's elder brother) appeared to Laksmipati Tirtha to break the ground for a change in the regular line of the Madhva sampradaya. Big changes were to take place that would eventuate in a revolution in thought and deed. Lord Sri Krsna and His brother Lord Balarama were about to appear in the dress of devotees within the Madhva sampradaya.

brajendra nandana yei
saci-suta hoilo sei
balarama hoilo nitai

Narottama dasa Thakura sings in his "Ista Deve Vijnapti" in simple Bengali that "Lord Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, the King of Vraja, became the son of Saci (Lord Caitanya) and Balarama became Nitai (Nityananda). We have discussed in brief some of the situations that arose around this time that warranted these changes. We have also introduced some of the Vaisnavas who performed this task for the Lord. The change itself to many meant seeing heart rendering devotion to the Lord, which was in many cases unable to be contained because of its intensity. Some objected to this as being mere sentimentalism, some even suggested that though the external sentiments were seen, other things were in the heart. This section from here on deals with some of those feelings. Obviously these situations are not to be imitated, as some cheaters do. As you will read shortly, these are insights to the personal relationships between the Lord and his pure devotees. This is not an ordinary thing, but by these personal dealings based on love is specifically how the Madhva sampradaya has come to be known all over the universe by the desire and preaching of it's members.

One story which is quite heart rending is the following story of Laksmipati Tirtha, the best of the sannyasis, who on one occasion was sitting in a solitary place performing his bhajana throughout the night. He was singing the glories of Lord Balarama. His unalloyed devotion was so intense he would sometimes cry or call out, "O Baladeva, kindly show me Your favor. I am so fallen and wicked." Tears would come from his eyes and he lost all patience and composure due to his old age and intense desire to see the Lord. He would sometimes collapse on the floor, stunned. This day, due to the devotional traumas he had undergone, he slept. It is described that Lord Nityananda, in His usual prankish mood, appeared to Laksmipati in His original form as Lord Balarama. Lord Balarama, Krsna's brother, appeared before Laksmipati in a dream, telling him that a wandering brahmana, in the form of an avadhuta madman had arrived in town. "He will come to you. Initiate him into the Vaisnava diksa mantras and accept him as your disciple." Then Lord Balarama spoke the mantra into Laksmipati's right ear and Laksmipati awoke. After a short time Laksmipati saw the avadhuta brahmana and his mind became full with anxious anticipation. When they met, Laksmipati couldn't take his eyes off the beautiful form of the Lord, His aura and His moonlike face and unblinking eyes. Hearing the sweet words of Lord Nityananda, Laksmipati's eyes brimmed over with swelling tears. That very day Laksmipati fulfilled the order of Lord Balarama and Nityananda became the favorite of Laksmipati.

nityananda prabhu vande
srimad laksmipati priyam
sri madhva-sampradaya
vardhanam bhakta vatsalam

"Respectful obeisances unto You, Nityananda Prabhu, the dear favorite of Laksmipati Tirtha. He (Nityananda) increases the bliss of the entire Madhva sampradaya and He has the innermost needs of the devotees foremost at hand."

Laksmipati couldn't understand his intense attraction for Nityananda or the bliss he felt just being near Him. On Nityananda's absence from his sight for a moment, intense separation came over him. Laksmipati stayed awake that night pondering over things. He had dozed off slightly, when again in a dream the Lord appeared. He was whitish in complexion, dressed in a blue dhoti. It was Nityananda in his dream, but then Nityananda transformed into Lord Balarama. Laksmipati was amazed and he bathed the Lord's feet with ecstatic tears from his eyes. He prayed to the Lord, "Surely You have made a fool of me and put this fallen wretch into much distress. Please show me Your mercy. You are my Lord. I take shelter at Your lotus feet." That same Sri Nityananda Rama (Balarama) fulfilled all of Laksmipati's cherished longings, though He forbade him from telling a soul of His identity, and then disappeared from sight.

When Laksmipati awoke in lamentation upon the Lord's disappearance, he saw that night had become the morning. Laksmipati changed from this day on. He didn't speak ever again, as his mind was always absorbed elsewhere. He looked terrible and his disciples became full of anxiety. Within a short while, without any warning, Laksmipati left this world. Who can understand properly the character and pastimes of the Lord and His pure devotee Laksmipati Tirtha? Just see the purity of Laksmipati, that the Lord appears directly to play with him.

Usually it is accredited to Madhavendra Puri Goswami, the disciple of Laksmipati, as being the spiritual master of Lord Nityananda Prabhu, but here it is mentioned otherwise.

Let us substantiate this story a little. In the Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya lila (3.85) Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes: "In Khadadaha, sometimes people misunderstood Nityananda Prabhu to belong to the sakta sampradaya whose philosophy is antah saktah bahih saivah sabhayam vaisnavo matah. According to the sakta sampradaya, a person called kaulavadhuta thinks materially while externally appearing to be a great devotee of Lord Siva. When such a person is in an assembly of Vaisnavas, he appears like a Vaisnava. Actually Nityananda Prabhu did not belong to such a community. Nityananda Prabhu was always a brahmacari of a sannyasi of the vaidika (Vedic) order. Actually He was a paramahamsa. Sometimes He is accepted to be a disciple of Laksmipati Tirtha. If He is so accepted, Nityananda Prabhu belonged to the Madhva sampradaya. He did not belong to the tantrika sampradaya of Bengal."

In a conversation I had with HH Bhakti Hridoy Mangal Maharaja, Secretary General of the Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Mutt, he remembered hearing personally an instance that was related by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada (sometime in the late 1920's during a class), wherein Lord Nityananda walked off with a sannyasi who came to beg alms at His parent's house (as mentioned in Caitanya Bhagavata). The sannyasi asked Hadai Pandit, the father of Lord Nityananda, as is traditional, for some alms and so Hadai Pandit as a dutiful householder agreed. But when the sannyasi asked him to give him the boy (Nityananda) as alms, Hadai Pandit nearly died. Considering his life useless and a bad example to the boy if he didn't fulfill the desires of his saintly guest, he gave the boy to the sannyasi as his assistant - this sannyasi was Laksmipati Tirtha. It is interesting to note that the boy Nityananda simply walked off with the sannyasi without even so much as looking back, just as Lord Rama left His father, Dasaratha, to go to the forest. Though different circumstances, both Maharaja Dasaratha and Hadai Pandit died within a very short time due to intense separation.

However in Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya lila (8.128) purport, Srila Prabhupada says: "Sri Nityananda Prabhu was initiated by Madhavendra Puri, a sannyasi. According to others, however, He was initiated by Laksmipati Tirtha."

Visnu Puri

Around the same time was a great Vaisnava preacher by the name Visnu Puri. We briefly mentioned something about him in relation to his guru, Jayadharma Tirtha, in that section, so at this point let us look a little closer at his pastimes. Though he was directly one of the noted acaryas in the guru parampara, certainly it appears that he must have been a great devotee to have gained recognition by the great Kavikarnapura, the celebrated compiler of the Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika. If Kavikarnapura thinks his name worthy of mentioning, then who am I to deny him a mention? According to history he was a sannyasi of Tirhit district. One report is that Visnu Puri met Lord Caitanya at Kasi (Benares) while Lord Caitanya was on His way back to Nadia from Vrndavana. They were charmed with each other naturally. The following story is mentioned by B.D. Basu, in his presentation of Visnu Puri's book Bhakti-ratnavali, which says that at their meeting a wonderful interaction took place. By the bhakti and learning of Visnu Puri, Lord Caitanya became inspired, and by the grandeur and personal magnetism of Lord Caitanya, the Personality of Godhead, Visnu Puri was inspired. Later a disciple of Visnu Puri left Benares for Jagannatha Puri to bring greetings to Lord Caitanya from his guru. Lord Caitanya sent him back to Kasi with a message, "Make Me a garland of jewels". Everyone was astounded when they heard the greatest renunciate asking for jewels, but they had not the boldness to ask Him why He asked for this. Actually he was referring to Visnu Puri's Bhakti-ratnavali - the necklace of priceless jewels of the Srimad Bhagavatam.

There is another version of this story recorded, that Lord Jagannatha, in a dream came to Visnu Puri and told him to compose and send these prayers to Him in the form of Lord Caitanya. The date recorded on this book, Bhakti-ratnavali, is 1555 Saka era or 1633 AD, but it is humbly suggested that this is the date Bhakti-ratnavali was transcribed from the original, not the date of the actual composition. This was one year before Lord Caitanya passed from the devotees' physical presence.

Visnu Puri was previously known as Visnu dasa. He was a learned brahmana who belonged to the Vaisnava school of Madhva and was a disciple of Jayadharma Tirtha. He first led his life as a householder with wife and children, but when the temper of his wife became too much for him, he left home and took the dress of a sannyasi. Everyone tried to pacify him but he would not return. He wandered and settled in Mithila at the shrine of Lord Siva (which is also known as Siva Puri). The Tirtha pandits say that in a dream Lord Siva told him to resume family life, so he returned and took a second wife. In the dream Lord Siva also gave him the Visnu mantra, so at Siva Puri it is suggested that this is when he added Puri to his name, to remember that holy place, as there is no mention of receiving the name from another source.

To have been a disciple of Jayadharma who occupied the Pitha from 1448-1460 AD and to have met Lord Caitanya in Kasi, Visnu Puri must have lived for close on one hundred and fifty years. Of course that is presuming that the dates that we have are exactly correct. There is no doubt that his preaching from the Bhakti sastra, Srimad Bhagavatam, inspired many, among them the great Madhavendra Puri, who became the next in the disciplic succession. It is believed by many that Madhavendra Puri Goswami, though taking diksa initiation from Laksmipati, was given siksa (instruction and inspiration) from Visnu Puri, thus this is why the title "Puri" was added to his name instead of Tirtha, as with the previous parampara acaryas.

In Dr. B.N.K. Sharma's "History of Dvaita Vedanta" he makes a point to say that up until this time this was the parampara which came to be known as the Vyasaraja Mutt line of the Madhva Mutts, following down to the disciples of Vyasatirtha, a strict Madhva line.

Filling in the details over the past couple of generations, the Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika (Text 22) of Kavikarnapura says: "Rajendra's disciple was Jayadharma Muni. Among Jayadharma's disciples was Sriman Visnu Puri, the famous author of the Bhakti-ratnavali. Another disciple was Brahmanya Purusottama." But in the Kantimala, it states:

iti sri purusottama-caranaravinda-
krpa makaranda-bindu pronmilita-
viveka-tairabhukta-paramahamsa-
sri visnu-puri grathita-sri
bhagavatamrtabdhi labdha-
sri bhaktiratnavali kantimala samapata

This indicates that Visnu Puri had some kind of disciple relationship with Purusottama Tirtha (Brahmanya); at least this confirms the time, if not his particular kind of guru-disciple relationship. Substantiating the facts presented here, B.N.K. Sharma points out that there is a traditional line stating that Rajendra Tirtha carried the message of Madhva north to Bihar and Bengal and that Rajendra Tirtha's disciple was Jayadhvaja Tirtha, who was the guru of Visnu Puri.

In these days sometimes one would accept a particular mantra or philosophical point from someone and in that way he would become one's guru. So sometimes certain initiations held more importance than others. For example, one's acceptance into a particular philosophical line would stand as more important than one's family initiation into a mantra for charming snakes, or applying medicine from the Ayurveda.

B.N.K. Sharma says that Visnu Puri was a contemporary of Jayadharma who followed the great Sridhar Swami and due to his dedication to the bhakti marga (devotional line) this could have been a great source of influence on Laksmipati Tirtha and Madhavendra Puri Goswami. Another thing is that there is no record of Visnu Puri's activities in South India, save and except that he headed to North India to preach. To conclude, we can say that Laksmipati and Madhavendra Puri were both from North India and were influenced by Visnu Puri to develop the spontaneous mood of bhakti. Later some of Visnu Puri's previously used verses of Sridhar Swami found in his Bhakti-ratnavali turned up in Rupa Goswami's "Padyavali" with reference to Bhakti-ratnavali.

20. Madhavendra Puri

Srimad Krsnadasa Kaviraja has described Sri Madhavendra Puri as the root of all transcendental joy. When Lord Caitanya was absorbed in his childhood pastimes, Sri Madhavendra Puri was quite an old man. There is no mention of any meeting between Mahaprabhu and Sri Madhavendra Puri in CC or CBh. But in CBh., when Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura describes the pilgrimage of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, he mentions that Nityananda Prabhu did meet Madhavendra Puri. He also states that Nityananda Prabhu spent a few days serving Sri Madhavendra Puri and accepted him as His spiritual master. Vrndavana dasa has also described Madhavendra Puri's delight upon having the company of Sri Nityananda.

After spending a few days with Madhava Puri, Sri Nityananda returned to Vrndavana, and Madhava Puri left on pilgrimage for South India. Generally Madhavendra Puri was accompanied by Sri Isvara Puri, Sri Ranga Puri, Paramananda Puri and some other sannyasis.

When Sri Madhavendra Puri left this material world, the following sloka was uttered by him (CC 2.17):

ayi dina-dayardra natha he mathuranatha kadavalokyase,
hrdayam tvad-aloka-kataram dayita bhramyati kim karomy aham

The people of Gauda have accepted this stanza as the sum and substance of the mood of separation. Lord Caitanya was overwhelmed with joy upon remembering this sloka.

Outwardly, Madhava Puri was a sannyasi belonging to the Dasanami Sankara sect. But in fact, he was the root of the tree of prema bhakti. Before the Lord appeared in this world he sent His personal associates beforehand, Sri Madhavendra Puri was one of them. Krsnadasa Kaviraja and Sri Vrndavana dasa Thakura have not mentioned anything regarding Madhavendra Puri's caste or creed.

Sri Madhavendra Puri lived for many years, and taught love and devotion throughout the world. He visited many places throughout India, and the exact number of his disciples is not known. Some of his prominent disciples were Sri Advaita Acarya, Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Sri Paramananda Puri, Sri Ranga Puri, Sri Brahmananda Puri, Sri Brahmananda Bharati, Sri Kesava Bharati, Sri Krsnananda Puri, Sri Ramacandra Puri, Sri Nrsimha Tirtha, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Isvara Puri, Sri Raghupati Upadhyaya, Sri Sukhananda Puri etc. (Bhaktiratnakara 5.2272-2274, 5.2330,2332; CBh. 1.9.158-188, 1.9.160, 1.9.175, 1.11.125, 3.3.59, 3.3.172, 3.4.433-507). Five padas composed by Madhavendra Puri have been included in Padyavali (nos. 79,96,164,286,330)

His worshipable Deity, Gopalji, is presently residing at Nathdwar in Rajasthan, and is worshiped by the followers of Vallabhacarya.

21a. Isvara Puri

He was the diksa-guru of Lord Caitanya. He was born in a brahmana caste of the Radha clan in Kumarahatta village, presently known as Halisahar. His father was Syamasundara Acarya. The family name of Isvara Puri is not known. He was instrumental in inspiriting Nityananda Prabhu to leave home (Premavilasa 7 and 23). The following are the references showing Isvara Puri in the biographies of Lord Caitanya: CBh. 1.9.161-170, 1.11.70-126, 1.17.46-162; CC 2.10.131-150, 2.8.26-30. Three slokas composed by Isvara Puri have been included in Padyavali (nos. 16, 62 and 75). Also see Bhaktiratnakara 12.2206-2209.

21b. Nityananda Prabhu

He was Halayudha in Krsnalila. According to Premavilasa 24, Nityananda was a disciple of Isvara Puri. Sri Jiva states that Nityananda was a disciple of Sankarsana Puri who was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri. But Bhaktiratnakara states that Nityananda took diksa from Laksmipati Tirtha who was the guru of Madhavendra Puri. If this were the case then Nityananda would have been the great-guru of Lord Caitanya and a friendly relationship could not have existed between the two. According to CBh. Madhavendra Puri dealt with Nityananda as a friend, while the latter showed guru-like reverence to the former.

After personally carrying out an investigation, Buchanan Hamilton has recorded a brief history of Nityananda's family in the Purnea Report.

Nityananda Prabhu was born on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of Magha (Feb.-March) in the village of Ekacakra in the district of Birbhum in 1395 Saka (1473 AD). His father was Hadai Pandita (Hado Ojha) and his mother was Padmavati. His paternal grandfather, Sundaramalla Nakadi Baduri was a brahmana of the Radha clan.

Nityanda's past name was Kuvera and He was an avadhuta. Steven Rosen (Satyaraja das) says in his book Panca-tattva, 3.13:

"Nityananda was considered an avadhuta sannyasi, although it is said that He never formally adopted sannyasa order. Avadhutas (the pure ones, in SB 4.29.11 p. called "most free") are usually associated with the Saivite tradition but there is a little known branch of Vaisnava sannyasis known as turiyatit-avadhuta. They are described in the Narada-parivrajaka-upanisad, Turiyatit- avadhuta-upanisad and the Brhad-avadhuta-upanisad."

In the same book (3.40) he lists twelve gopalas, associates of Sri Nityananda, with their identity in Caitanya-lila:
Sridama (Ramadasa Abhirama of Khanakul-Krsnanagar in Hooghly)
Sudama (Sundarananda Thakura, brahmana ascetic)
Vasudama (Dhananjaya)
Subala (Gauridasa Pandita)
Mahabala (Kamalakara Pipalai)
Subahu (Uddharana Datta)
Mahabahu (Mahesa Pandita)
Stokakrsna (Purusottama)
Arjuna (Paramesvara Dasa)
Dama (Purusottama Nagara)
Labanga (Kala Krsnadasa)
Madhumangala, or Kusumasava (Sridhara)

Sri Nitai is Isa prakasa (CC 1.1.7-11), the cherished goal of Gaudiyas (CC 1.1.18-19), and is depicted as the trunk of the tree of bhakti (CC 1.9.21, 1.10.115)

His childhood sports up to twelve years of age are described in CBh. 1.9.12-99; His pilgrimage tours up to twenty years of ages in CBh. 1.9.100-136; His arrival in Navadvipa at the house of Nandana Acarya and his meeting Lord Caitanya is described in CBh. 2.3.120-2.4.76.

Premavilasa narrates the following information relating to Nityananda Prabhu: marriage of Nityananda; settled life at Khardaha with Vasudha-Jahnava; death of seven sons soon after birth when Abhirama conveyed his humble obeisances to each; birth of Viracandra and Ganga later; both stayed alive and healthy despite Abhirama's offering of obeisances; hymns sung by Abhirama in praise of Ganga devi.

Nityananda tattva: Mahasankarsana, Sesa, etc. (Gaura-ganoddesa- dipika 63-64). Sandhini-sakti; inward descent of Anangamanjari (Anangamanjari Samputika), in the form of Prakrti indirectly and in the form of Purusa directly. See Dharanisesa Sanvad in Brahmanda Purana of Vrndavana dasa Thakura, (2) Aisvaryamrtakavya and (3) Rasakalpasara tattva. Nityananda mantra: see Brahmanda Purana and Dhyanacandra Gosvami's Paddhati (56-57).

Dhyana and Gayatri dealing with Nityananda: see Paddhati (as above) 50, 72. Nityananda Astaka composed by (1) Sarvabhaumma and (2) Vrndavana dasa Thakura; Nama dvadasaka on Nityananda composed by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya; Astottarasatanama (108 names) of Nityananda (1) in Brahmanda Purana and (2) by Sarvabhauma.

The following are some primary works on Nityananda Prabhu:

Nityanandoprabhoraisvaryamrtakavyam, Baranagar Pathavadi (Calcutta manuscript no. BA. copying date is 1260 BS (1853 AD). This Sanskrit text consisting of 128 slokas is said to have been written by Vrndavana dasa Thakura. The ms. deals with descriptions of various aisvarya and madhurya-lilas of Nityananda Prabhu, as well as a note on His true nature (prakrti-svarupa). Another manuscript with similar contents titled Rasakalpasaratattva is also attributed to Vrndavana dasa and is available at Pathavadi collection ms. no. B 46.

Nityananda Vamsavistar, by Vrndavana dasa Thakura. The contents are as follows: Avatarahood of Viracandra; revelation of Viracandra; genealogy of Viracandra; Jahnava's pilgrimage to Vrndavana, in two parts - a total of six sections.

Nityananda Bhasya written by Ramrayaji, a disciple of Nityananda. It forms a commentary to Siksastaka.

He disappeared by merging with the body of Banka (Bankima) Raya Deity in Ekacakragrama, His appearance place.

21c. Advaita Acarya

He is a disciple of Madhavendra Puri, and constitutes one of the figures amongst the Pancatattva. In an earlier incarnation he was Lord Siva. He was born in a varendra brahmana family on the seventh day of the bright fortnight in the month of Magha, 1355 Saka (1433 AD), in the village named Lauda in Srihatta.

According to Bangabhasa O Sahitya, Advaita Prabhu was born in 1434 AD and met Vidyapati in 1458 AD. Advaita's former name was Kamalaksa (Kamalakanta) Vedapancanana. His two wives were Sita Devi and Sri Devi. His son Acyutananda was born of Sita Devi (1425 Saka 1503 AD), followed by Krsnadasa, Gopala, Balarama, Svarupa, and Jagadisa Misra. While Sri Devi gave birth to one son named Syamadasa (Premavilasa 24).

From Lauda, Advaita Prabhu moved to the village of Navahatta and later to Santipura. He also had a house at Navadvipa. In 1480 Saka (1558 AD), at the age of 125 years (i.e. 25 years after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya) Advaita Prabhu passed away. (Advaita Vilasa)

However, according to Premavilasa 24, Advaita Prabhu was born in Santipura. He studied the Vedas and other scriptures under a scholar named Santacarya in Phullavati village near Santipura, where he was awarded the title Acarya. The genealogy of Advaita Prabhu can be found in Premavilasa 24. Also books such as Valyalilasutra (in Sanskrit), and Advaitavilasa, Advaitamangala, Advaita Prakasa, Sitacarita (in Bengali) present detailed information on Advaita Prabhu.

To verify the meeting of Advaita with Vidyapati, it is known that in 1330 Saka (1408 AD) Vidyapati received the endowment of Bisaphi village from Sivasimha. Vidyapati was born around 1307 Saka (1385 AD), and was a contemporary of Candidasa. Vidyapati mentions their meeting one another in songs he composed in 1325 Saka (1403 AD).

One manuscript of the Bhagavata which was copied by Vidyapati is still available and carries the date of copying as 1379 Saka (1457 AD). Evidence shows that Vidyapati was alive until 1401 Saka (1479 AD). In 1485 AD Advaita Prabhu, at the age of fifty two, arrived at the room where Lord Gauranga was born. Much earlier he undertook a pilgrimage. Hence his meeting with Vidyapati should be taken as a fact.

The foremost of all the Vaisnavas who reside at Navadvipa is Sri Advaita Acarya, whose virtuous presence has made all the worlds blessed. He is the most prominent preceptor in all fields including knowledge, renunciation and devotion. In explaining Krsna-bhakti he is like unto Lord Sankara himself, and whatever scriptures that exist within the three worlds he explains in the light of Krsna-bhakti.

With the intense eagerness he continually worships Sri Krsna with Tulasi manjaris and Ganges water. By the momentum of his spiritual force, his loud shouts pierce the coverings of this universe and, resounding throughout Vaikuntha, reach the ears of Sri Krsna. Hearing this loving summons saturated with devotion, Sri Krsna advents Himself.

jaya jaya advaita isvara avatara
krsna avatari kaila jagat-nistara

"All glories to Advaita Prabhu, the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He induced Krsna to descend and thus delivered the entire world." [CC Antya 8.4]

"On the seventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Magh, the great ocean of ecstasy swelled to its limits, being forcibly attracted by the moon of Advaita, Who appeared from the womb of Sri Nabhadevi as the moon appears in the autumn sky. His father, Sri Kuvera Pandit floated in that ocean of joy. In great happiness he gave many gifts in charity to the brahmanas (who voluntarily accept vows of poverty). Very quietly he approached the maternity room to get a glimpse of his newborn son. Then his own face began to shine by the reflected light of that moon-like personage. The residents of Navagram came running to see the child. Everyone remarked that they had never seen such a beautiful baby. What a pious activities his father must have been performed to get such a jewel of a son, and that in his old age? Thus Ghanasyama sings about this occasion." [Bhaktiratnakara 12.1759] The child was named Mongal and his other name was Kamalaksa.

Advaita Acarya is the combined incarnation of Mahavisnu and Sadasiva (who resides in Goloka). His two consorts, Sita and Sri are manifestations of Yoga Maya. Once when Advaita performed worship, whatever gods and demigods He used to meditate upon He saw all gathered at Lord Caitanya's lotus feet, offering prayers. Raising up his two hands, Advaita exclaimed in great ecstasy, "Today all the days of my life have produced a successful result, as all my desires have been fulfilled. My birth and activities have finally born fruit. I have directly perceived Your two lotus feet, which are proclaimed throughout the four Vedas but are unattainable thereby. Now, by Your causeless mercy, You have revealed Yourself to Me."

Mahaprabhu replied, "Acarya, now you should perform My worship." First Advaita Acarya washed the Lord's two lotus feet with water scented by flower petals and then with water scented with sandalwood. Then He placed on His lotus feet Tulasi manjari dipped in sandalwood paste along with arghya - an auspicious offering of rice, durva grass, yogurt etc. His eyes brimming with tears, he offered incense, ghee lamps, flowers, sandalwood paste, and some foodstuffs. After offering various prayers he loudly proclaimed the Lord's glories with auspicious shouts. "All glories to the Lord and maintainer of the universe, the Lord of all that lives. All glories to Gauracandra, the ocean of mercy. All glories to the most munificent incarnation of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, whose form is all-enchanting. All glories to He who is decorated with the ornaments of Srivatsa and Kaustubha. All glories to He who has revealed the Hare Krsna Maha-mantra. All glories to He who enjoys the pastimes of accepting devotion unto Himself. All glories to Mahaprabhu who reclines on the bed of Ananta Sesa. All glories to the refuge of all living entities. [CBh. Madhya 6.116]

Hearing Advaita's prayer's Mahaprabhu replied, "My dear Acarya, I am very pleased by your prayers. Now you can ask from me any benediction you like."

Then Advaita requested that, "My only request is that you distribute love of Krsna even to women, laborers and the ignorant fools as well. [CBh. Madhya 6.167]

A Nrsimha-sila and Deities, fashioned after a picture of Sri Sri Madan-Gopal that were worshiped by Advaita Acarya are still residing at Santipur in Madan-Gopal Para. Santipur is a short distance from Krsnanagara.

The place on the banks of the Ganga where Advaita Acarya worshiped salagram and called out to the Lord to please descend to the world is known today as Babla. A temple has been built in memory of Advaita Acarya's pastimes there.

22. Lord Caitanya

The origin of Lord Caitanya's name is mentioned in CBh. 2.28.179,181: "You aroused everyone's spiritual consciousness (Caitanya) and inspired the entire world to chant the holy name of Krsna, thus Your are called Sri Krsnacaitanya."

According to the Tantra tradition, the term 'Krsnavarna' mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam refers to Krsnacaitanya. Ramabhadra Vaisnavacarya Gosvami has said, "yasya namadyavayave sah krsnacaitanyah"; just as Satya refers to Satyabhama, and Bhima refers to Bhimasena, similarly the term Krsnavarna indicates Krsnacaitanya (In this connection refer to the tika of the sloka 'sriya savarnena...'Bhagavatam 3.3.3).

Some argue that the name Gauranga was uttered by Kesava Bharati at the time of Lord Gauranga's sannyasa initiation, thus the name 'Gaura' (referring to Him as a resident of Navadvipa) should be considered His foremost name. However this is not rationally tenable when considered from a theological viewpoint. Simply by looking at the titles of the major biographies of the Lord's life (i.e. Caitanya Bhagavata, CC, Caitanyamangala, etc.) it is evident that Sri Krsna Caitanya was His foremost name.

Although Locana Thakura, the preacher of Gauraparatamyavada, dealt with the nama-guna-lila etc. of Gaura in his composition Dhamali, nevertheless the biography he wrote was entitled Sri Caitanyamangala.

Prabodhananda Sarasvati writes about the dhyana of Gauranagaravana in his Sri Caitanyacandramrta (132). In one continuous lila numerous names of the Lord have been mentioned, yet the most frequently used name is Caitanya. Thus we can conclude without any doubt that Caitanya was the foremost name.

For details see the following biographies of Lord Caitanya:

1. Caitanya Bhagavata
2. Caitanya Caritamrta
3. Caitanyamangala
4. Caitanyacaritamahakavya
5. Caitanyacandrodaya
6. Murari Gupta's Kadaca
7. Gaurakrsnodaya

The Gauramantra is mentioned in the following works:

1. Urdhvamnayatantra 3.14-16 (manuscript from the collection of the Madras Oriental Mss. Library)
2. Isanasamhita
3. Paddhati written by Dhyanacandra Gosvami 54-55
4. Sri Caitanyacandrodaya 9
5. Advaitaprakasa 10 and 12
6. CC. 3.2.31
7. Gaurakrsnodaya-mahakavya of 1680 Saka; sloka 18.22-34.
8. Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana Vol. 1, p.250
9. Caitanya Bhagavata 1.1.3, 12.10.59-60.
10. Tika of Caitanyacandramrta (31) by Anandi

The following are the astakas (eight lined hymns) composed in praise of Lord Caitanya: astaka by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya; Sacisutastaka by Narahari Sarkara; Caitanyastaka by Rupa Gosvami; Gaurasudhakaracitrastaka by Prabodhananda; Sacisunvastaka by Dasa Gosvami.
Caitanyastakam (1), by Rupa Gosvami;
Caitanyastakam (2), by Rupa Gosvami;
Caitanyastakam (3), by Rupa Gosvami;
Gaurangastakam, by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya;
Gaura-Gadadhara-yugalastakam, by Acyutananda Gosvami (son of Advaitacarya);
Maha-prabhor-astakam, by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura;
Sacinandanastakam, by Narahari-sarakara Thakura;
Sacinandana-vijayastakam, by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura;
Sacisunvastakam, by Raghunatha-dasa Gosvami; (probably same as "Dasa Gosvami")
Sacisutastakam, anonymous;
Sacitanayastakam, anonymous;
Astottarasatanama by Sarvabhauma; Namadvadasaka; Namavimsatistotra by Sarvabhauma.

Sahasraka: one each by Narahari Sarkara, Kavikarnapura, and Rupa Gosvami. Sri-gauranga-sahasra-nama-stotra, from Moksarnava-tantra, Siva to Gauri; Sri-krsna-caitanya-candrasya sahasra-nama-stotra, by Sri-Caitanya-dasa Ciranjivi-sarvadhikari

Stava: Navadvipacandrastavaraja by Raghunandana Thakura; Praty-anaga-varnanakhya-stavaraja by Advaita Prabhu; Gaurangastavakalpataru by Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami.

Sataka: Caitanyasataka by Sarvabhauma; Gaurasataka by Ratikanta Thakura.

Astakaliya sutra: Bhavadhyalila by Rupa Gosvami; Paddhati 72-77 by Dhyanacandra Gosvami; Smaranamangala by Visvanatha Cakravarti; and the Bengali work Gauracaritcintamani by Narahari Cakravarti. (Astakaliya lila of Radha-Krsna is described already in Padma Purana, Patala Khanda, ch. 83.)

Sri-Gaura-premollasa-stotram, by Nanda-kisora Gosvami;
Sri-Gauranga-lila-smarana-mangala-stotram, by Bhaktivinoda Thakura;
Gauranga-stotram, by Sri Bhakti-desika Maharaja;
Gauranga-virudavali, by Raghunandana Gosvami;
Gaura-prema-stava-raja, by Ramaraya Gosvami;
Godruma-candra-bhajanopadesa, by Bhaktivinoda Thakura;

Gauranga-maha-prabhu-dhyanam;
Gauranga-maha-prabhu-pranamah;
Gauranga-maha-prabhu-vijnaptih;
Gaura-Nityananda-pranamah;

Books on Lord Caitanya:

In Bengali:

1. Sri Gaurasundara by Syamalal Gosvami
2. Amiya-Nimai-Carita by Sisir Kumar Ghosh
3. Caitanyadeva by Sundarananda Vidyavinoda

In Oriya:

1. Caitanyabhagavata of Isvara dasa
2. Caitanyavilasa of Madhava

In Vrajbasa:

1. Caitanyacaritamrta of Suvalasyama

In Hindi:

1. Amiya-Nimai-Carita
2. Caitanya Premasagara of Pandita Ramananda
3. Caitanya caritavali of Prabhudatta Brahmacari

In Gurmukhi:

1. Caitanyacarita

In Urdu:

1. Sri Nimaicand of Krsnaprasada Duggul

In Telugu:

1. Sri Caitanyalilamrtasaram
2. Sri Caitanyasiksamrtam
3. Lord Gauranga

In Tamil:

1. Life and Teaching of Gauranga by P.V. Pillai, Madras

In English:

1. Lord Gauranga by Sisirkumar Ghosh
2. Sri Krsna Caitanya by N.K. Sanyal
3. Lord Caitanya by B.P. Tirtha
4. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu B.P. Tirtha
5. Caitanya by G. Tucci
6. Life of Sri Caitanya by C.S. Trilokekar
7. Caitanya and His Companions by D.C. Sen
8. Gauranga and His Gospel by M. Dhar
9. The Universal Religion of Sri Caitanya by N.N. Chaterjee
10. Caitanya's Pilgrimage and Teachings by J. Sarkar

The famous Siksastaka was composed by Lord Caitanya. The commentator Vitthalesvara states that Sri Krsna premamrta stotra was orally propounded by Lord Caitanya. (see also under "933. Krsna Caitanya Deva") Although a number of other small astakas are considered to have been composed by Lord Caitanya, the Lord Himself did not write any theological treatises. This task was taken up by Jiva Gosvami, who compiled a number of philosophical works such as Satsandarbha, Kramasandarbha, Sarvasamvadini, etc.

23a. Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami

Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana p. 1350-1351: Rupa Gosvami was one of the six Gosvamis associated with Sri Gauranga-lila. According to Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika 180 he was Sri Rupa manjari in Krsna lila. He occupied a responsible post in the service of the Badshah Hussain Shah of Gauda. He later renounced everything and surrendered himself at the feet of Lord Gauranga. His fascinating biography is described in the CC, Bhaktamala, etc. Narottama Thakura has rightly praised him as "Sri Caitanyamanohabhista-sthapaka" (the implementor of Lord Caitanya's desires).

Rupa Gosvami was specifically commanded by Lord Caitanya to carry out two tasks: (1) to re-locate and preserve the lost pilgrimage places of Vrndavana, and (2) to write and preach Vaisnava theology.

From Prayaga Rupa Gosvami went to Vrndavana. He then visited his native home where he settled his property concerns. Thereafter he traveled on to Nilacala to meet Lord Caitanya. While staying at Gauda, Rupa Gosvami developed the desire to write the Vidagdhamadhava and Lalitamadhava nataka. Initially he planned to present the Vraja-lila and the Pura-lila together in one drama with the view of calming the intensity of the Vrajaviraha by including the Dvaraka-lila. However, while in Satyabhamapura he was commanded by Satyabhamadevi to write two separate dramas. In Nilacala Lord Caitanya also gave him the same instruction. Only those who appreciate the true Vaisnava spirit will understand the immense pleasure which Lord Caitanya and His associates derived from listening to this drama. After surcharging and empowering Rupa Gosvami with divine energy, Lord Caitanya sent him back to Vrndavana.

The following is a list of the most well-known books of Rupa Gosvami: Bhaktirasamrtasindhu; Ujjvalanilamani; Laghubhagavatamrta; Vidagdhamadhava; Lalitamadhava; Nikunjarahasyastava; Stavamala; Sri Radha-Krsna-ganoddesa- dipika; Mathura-mahatmya; Uddhava Sandesa; Hamsadutam; Danakelikaumudi; Sri Krsnajanmatithividhi; Prayuktakhyatamanjari; Natakacandrika.

Kumara deva, the son of Mukunda, was an extremely religious man. When religious upheaval occurred in Naihati, Kumara deva moved to Bakla Candradvipa (in Jessore). He is said to have settled for some time at Fateyabad - located between Naihati and Bakla. The three most renowned sons of Kumaradeva were Sanatana, Rupa and Anupama (Vallabha). When their father died, these three sons went to their maternal uncle's home in Sakurma near the capital of Gauda where they continued their studies.

Sri Sanatana Gosvami was born in 1488 A.D. (1410 Saka). Sri Rupa Gosvami was born in 1493 A.D. (1415 Saka). In order to complete their education they lived at their uncle's house in a small village named Sakurma near the capital of Gauda.

Having heard the glories of Sri Rupa and Sanatana from many intelligent persons, Badshah Hussain Shah of Gauda appointed the two brothers as ministers in the court. Though reluctant to accept the Bhadshah's offer, out of fear of the Yavana King, they agreed to take the post. Hussain Shah happily offered them enormous amounts of wealth and riches. Sri Rupa and Sanatana thus lived in the village of Ramakeli, the capital of Gauda. Many great brahmana scholars from different parts of the country visited their house regularly, and the two brothers took great pleasure in serving and arranging accommodations for them.

The brother of Sarvabhauma, the famous Vidyavacaspati, was the philosophy teacher of Sri Rupa and Sanatana. As mentioned in the Dasama Tippani of the Bhagavata, their other teachers were Sri Paramananda Bhattacarya and Sri Ramapada Bhadrapada. From their early childhood Rupa, Sanatana and Anupama, were very devotionally inclined.

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu arrived at the beautiful village of Ramakeli the brothers met the Lord and were overwhelmed with joy. On the eve of the Lord's departure from Ramakeli, He blessed Sri Sanatana and Rupa by saying, "Very soon Krsna will free you from the entanglement of material life."

After the Lord departed from Ramakeli Rupa and Sanatana began to devise means to get out of their government service. Both brothers appointed some brahmanas to perform purascarana ceremonies and chant the holy name of Krsna. Rupa Gosvami deposited ten thousand gold coins with a grocer, and the balance he brought in two boats to a place called Bakla Candradvipa. There he divided this money among the brahmanas, Vaisnavas and his relatives, and a portion he kept for emergency measures and personal needs.

When Rupa Gosvami was informed that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was going to Vrndavana from Jagannatha Puri through the forest of Madhyapradesh, he sent two people to Jagannatha Puri to find out when the Lord would leave for Vrndavana. When Mahaprabhu started for Vrndavana, Rupa left home and sent news to Sanatana that he was leaving with his younger brother (Anupama Mallika) to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Meanwhile, Sanatana Gosvami told the Nawab that he was sick and could not attend to his work. Giving this excuse, he sat home and studied Srimad Bhagavatam with learned brahmana scholars. The Nawab Hussain Shah first sent his personal physician to see what the real facts were; then he personally came to see why Sanatana was not attending to official business. Knowing that he wanted to resign his post, the Nawab had him arrested and imprisoned. The Nawab then went off to attack Orissa.

Rupa Gosvami finally reached Prayaga. While Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was sitting in a solitary place in the home of a Deccan brahmana, Rupa Gosvami and Sri Vallabha (Anupama) came to meet Him.

At the time of Mahaprabhu's visit to Prayaga, Sri Vallabhacarya was living in the village of Araila on the other bank of the Triveni. One day he invited the Lord to his house for lunch and Sri Rupa and Anupama accompanied Him.

Due to the great crowds in Prayaga, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to a place called Dasasvamedha-ghata. It was there that the Lord instructed Sri Rupa Gosvami for ten successive days and empowered him to understand the philosophy of devotional service.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught Rupa Gosvami the ultimate limit of the truth about Lord Krsna, the truth about devotional service and the truth about transcendental mellows, consummating in conjugal love between Radha and Krsna. Finally He told Rupa Gosvami about the ultimate conclusions of Srimad Bhagavatam. By entering the heart of Rupa Gosvami, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu empowered him to ascertain properly the conclusions of all truths. He made him an experienced devotee whose decisions correctly agreed with the verdicts of the disciplic succession. Thus Sri Rupa Gosvami was personally empowered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After giving so much instruction, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised Sri Rupa to go to Vrndavana. The Lord then departed for Varanasi. With a grievous heart due to separation from the Lord, Sri Rupa and Anupama started for Vrndavana.

In Vrndavana, Rupa Gosvami began to write a drama. In particular, he composed the introductory verses to invoke good fortune. On his way to Gauda-desa, Rupa Gosvami had been thinking of how to write the action of the drama. Thus he had made some notes and begun to write. In this way the two brothers Rupa and Anupama reached Bengal, but when they arrived there Anupama passed away. After performing the funeral rites, Rupa Gosvami traveled on. In the province of Orissa, Rupa Gosvami rested for a night at Satyabhama-pura. That night he dreamed that a celestially beautiful woman had come before him and very mercifully gave him the following order. "Write a separate drama about me. By my mercy it will be extraordinarily beautiful." After having this dream, Rupa Gosvami considered, "It is the order of Satyabhama that I write a separate drama for her."

Thus absorbed in thought, he quickly reached Jagannatha Puri. When he arrived, he approached the hut of Haridasa Thakura. Out of affectionate love and mercy, Haridasa Thakura told Rupa Gosvami, "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has already informed me that you would come here." Shortly thereafter the Lord arrived and warmly embraced Rupa. They sat down together and inquired from one another about auspicious news. The Lord asked Rupa about Sanatana. Rupa explained that he had not met Sanatana and informed the Lord of Anupama's disappearance.

On the next day, Caitanya Mahaprabhu again met Rupa Gosvami, and with great mercy the Lord introduced him to all the devotees. Every day the Lord would go to see Rupa Gosvami, and whatever prasada He received from the temple He would deliver to Rupa Gosvami and Haridasa Thakura.

During the Ratha-yatra ceremony Rupa Gosvami heard a verse uttered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu during the ceremony, and he immediately composed another verse dealing with the same subject. Only Svarupa Damodara Gosvami knew the purpose for which the Lord recited that verse. According to the Lord's attitude, he used to quote other verses to enable the Lord to relish mellows. Rupa Gosvami, however, could understand the intention of the Lord, and thus he composed another verse. After writing this verse on a palm leaf, he put it somewhere in his thatched roof and went to bathe in the sea. At that time, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went there to meet him, and when He saw the leaf pushed into the roof and saw the verse, He read it and was overwhelmed by ecstatic love. At that time Rupa Gosvami returned and offered his obeisances. The Lord slapped him mildly in love and said, "My heart is very confidential. How did you know My mind in this way?" Svarupa Damodara said, "I can understand that You have already bestowed Your causeless mercy upon him. No one could otherwise understand this meaning."

One day while Rupa Gosvami was writing his book, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to the cottage of Haridasa Thakura. The Lord inquired, "What kind of book are you writing?" He held up a palm leaf that was a page of the manuscript, and when He saw the fine handwriting, His mind was very pleased. "The handwriting of Rupa Gosvami is just like rows of pearls," He said. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Rupa Gosvami to read from his book, Rupa Gosvami, because of great shyness, did not read it but instead remained silent. When the Lord persisted, Sri Rupa read, much to everyone's pleasure. After hearing from him, both Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya said to the Lord, "Without Your special mercy, how could this Rupa Gosvami have understood Your mind?" Ramananda remarked to Sri Rupa, "This drama of yours is a mine of conclusive statements."

After four months had passed and the Dola-yatra festival ended, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to Rupa Gosvami. The Lord empowered him and bestowed upon him all kinds of mercy. "Now go to Vrndavana and stay there," the Lord said. "You may send here your elder brother, Sanatana. When you go to Vrndavana, stay there, preach transcendental literature and excavate the lost holy places. Establish the service of Lord Krsna and preach the mellows of Lord Krsna's devotional service. I shall also go to Vrndavana once more." Having thus spoken, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu embraced Rupa Gosvami, who then placed the lotus feet of the Lord upon his head.

When Sri Sanatana Gosvami and Sri Rupa Gosvami lived in Vraja, they won the heartfelt affection of all the residents there, who regularly brought the two brothers gifts of curd and milk. The Gosvamis also regarded the inhabitants of Vraja as the dear associates of Lord Krsna. They respected them in that way and were always concerned about their well being. When they visited different areas of Vraja, the inhabitants there did not want them to leave their village. If many days passed without a visit from the Gosvamis, the Vrajavasis would anxiously seek them out. Thus the Vrajavasis were the life of Sri Rupa and Sanatana, and Sri Rupa and Sanatana were the life of the Vrajavasis.

The Books of Sri Rupa Gosvami:

1. Hamsaduta
2. Uddhava Sandesa
3. Sri Krsnajanmatithividhi
4. Sri Radha-Krsna-ganoddesa-dipika (Brhad and Laghu)
5. Sri Stavamala
6. Sri Vidagdha Madhava (drama)
7. Sri Lalita Madhava (drama)
8. Danakeli Kaumudi
9. Sri Bhaktirasamrtasindhu
10. Ujjvala Nilamani
11. Prayuktakhyatacandrika
12. Sri Mathura-mahatmya
13. Padyavali
14. Natakacandrika
15. Samkhepa Bhagavatamrta
16. Samanya Virudavali Laksmana
17. Upadesamrta

Rupa Gosvami left this world in 1486 Saka era, 1564 A.D., on the day of Sukla Dvadasi in the month of Sravana (July-August). According to another view, he disappeared in 1490 Saka era, 1568 A.D.

23b. Svarupa Damodara

Sri Svarupa Damodara is the eternal associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His previous name was Sri Purusottama Acarya and he was born at Bhitadia to Padmagarbha Acarya. He lived at Navadvipa.

He was always present with Mahaprabhu. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted sannyasa, Svarupa Damodara became like a madman and, journeying to Varanasi he also accepted sannyasa from one sannyasi named Caitanyananda. His sannyasa guru ordered him that, "You should yourself study the Vedanta and also teach it to others." Sri Purusottama Acarya didn't accept the garments of sannyasa, but simply gave up his sikha and brahmana thread. Therefore his name became Svarupa (a brahmacari name). Thereafter, by the order of his guru, he came to Nilacala, where he again met Mahaprabhu.

Though his scholarship was practically unlimited, he spoke very little with others and preferred to remain alone. Thus very few were aware of his actual position. He was completely conversant with the understanding of the mellows of devotion to Sri Krsna and his body was fully imbued with love for Him. He was as though a second Mahaprabhu. Whenever anyone wanted to present to Mahaprabhu some book, verse or song that they had composed, Svarupa Damodara would first hear what they had written before it could be presented to Mahaprabhu. If these compositions contained any points which were in contradiction to the superior position of bhakti, as concluded in scriptures, then hearing these writings would not be a source of transcendental pleasure for Mahaprabhu. Therefore Svarupa Gosai would first examine what had been composed and if it was untainted then it could be presented to Mahaprabhu.

Usually he would recite Sri Gita Govinda, and the writings of Candidasa and Vidyapati, for the transcendental happiness of Mahaprabhu. In music and singing he was like a Gandharva and in knowledge of the sastras he was like Brhaspati. There was no one to compare with him in talent and intelligence. He was extremely dear to Sri Advaita and Nityananda Prabhu and was the life and soul of devotees like Srivasa and others.

When Sri Svarupa Damodara arrived in Puri from Kasi (Varanasi) he recited this sloka in praise of Mahaprabhu: "Oh You, who are the personification of mercy - Sri Caitanya. That which very easily causes grief to retreat far away, and which is spotlessly pure; which causes the appearance of the highest happiness, and by whose appearance disputation over the intricacies of scriptural statements ceases; that which causes the spirit to become extremely agitated in ecstatic love, by a shower of grace and beauty; may that extremely expansive and auspicious mercy by its sweetness and dignity shine its rays upon me." (Sri Caitanya Candrodaya Nataka.)

Seeing that Svarupa Damodara was offering his dandavats to Him, Mahaprabhu picked him up and as He embraced him he said, "I saw in a dream this morning that you had come. Just as a blind man finds unlimited happiness by regaining his eyesight, so I am feeling by regaining your association."

Svarupa Damodara replied: "Prabhu, please forgive me. By leaving You and running off to Varanasi, I made a great mistake. I don't have even a hint of attachment to your lotus feet, and I have actually become a great sinner by leaving you and going to a distant country. I gave up your association, but You didn't give me up. Binding the rope of mercy around my neck You brought me again to Your lotus feet." [CC Madhya 10]

Hearing these words spoken in such humility, Mahaprabhu again embraced him and said: "Krsna is very kind. He has very mercifully brought us together again."

Mahaprabhu kept Svarupa Damodara close to Him. Whenever Mahaprabhu became immersed in a particular ecstatic emotion, Svarupa Damodara would perform a kirtan in that particular mood. During this period Raya Ramananda also arrived from Vidyanagara in South India. Thus the two of them, Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, would enhance the ecstatic moods of Mahaprabhu by singing different songs and reciting various poetic verses.

During the day, Mahaprabhu would engage in his pastimes of sankirtan with His devotees, and at night He would taste the mellows of the ecstatic love of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the company of these two. As Lalita and Visakha were very intimate with Srimati Radharani, Raya Ramananda and Svarupa Damodara were similarly intimate with Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu entrusted him to look after and instruct Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.

Svarupa Damodara's place of residence in Puri was the "Satasan Math". This is located near Bhaktivinoda Thakura's Bhakti kutir, near the ocean at Svarga Dwar. Svarupa Damodara Gosvami disappeared on the second day of the bright fortnight in the month of Asar.

24. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami

Sri Raghunatha dasa took his birth in the village of Sri Krsnapura in the district of Hooghly. His father's name was Sri Govardhana, whose elder brother was Sri Hiranya dasa. Both of them were respectable wealthy land-holders belonging to the Kayastha caste. Their title, which was given by the King, was "Majumdar".

In his childhood Sri Raghunatha dasa studied at the house of the priest, Acarya Sri Balarama dasa. Haridasa Thakura was very merciful to Balarama dasa and occasionally visited his house. At these times Raghunatha dasa had the good fortune of relishing Thakura Haridasa's association and listened to philosophical discourses from him.

Sri Raghunatha dasa was the only son in the family of Hiranya and Govardhana and there was no limit to the care and affection which was showered upon him. Though he was brought up just like the son of a king, by the powerful influence of saintly devotees, he realized at a very young age that material existence is temporary and a mood of detachment towards wealth, parents and relatives began to grow within him.

Upon hearing the glories of Sri Gauranga and Nityananda, he became extremely eager to have darsana of Their lotus feet. When he heard that Sri Gaurasundara had taken sannyasa and was leaving Nadia forever, he rushed madly to the home of Advaita Acarya in Santipura to meet the Lord. Seeing Raghunatha fall at His feet, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu could understand that this was His dearmost eternal associate, and He embraced Raghunatha firmly. Crying, Sri Raghunatha appealed to the Lord, "I will also go with you." But the Lord replied that He would not take him along at that time, yet upon His return from Vrndavana, Raghunatha should, under any pretext, come to Nilacala to see Him.

In CC Antya lila, Sixth Chapter, there is a narration of how Sri Raghunatha dasa was arrested by the Nawab's men and his subsequent release from the bondage of family life. In that chapter there is also a description of the Panihati festival, as well as Raghunatha's pastimes in Jagannatha Puri with Sri Gaurasundara.

Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami passed his days in the highest happiness, continually bathing in the shower of Mahaprabhu's mercy. But upon the disappearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Raghunatha's world grew dark. In separation from their Lord, the devotees' hearts burned with anguish. Raghunatha dasa also burned in that fire of separation, but taking the order of Mahaprabhu on his head, he went to Sri Vrndavana. Previously Sri Sanatana, Sri Rupa, Sri Gopala Bhatta, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta, Sri Lokanatha, Sri Kasisvara, and Sri Bhugarbha Gosvami had already gone to Vrndavana and were living there by the order of the Lord. Though they all burned in the fire of separation, they pacified themselves by gathering together and discussing and writing the conclusions of the teaching of Mahaprabhu. It was the dawn of a golden age in Vraja. Sri Vallabha Acarya also visited Vrndavana at that time.

Sri Raghunatha used to reside at Sri Radhakunda. At that time Radhakunda had not yet been excavated, though Raghunatha often meditated upon how to beautify the kunda. Once a wealthy merchant walked the long, difficult road to Sri Badarikasrama. With great devotion he worshiped Sri Badarinarayana and offered a large portion of his wealth in charity. That night Sri Badarinarayana appeared to him in a dream and said, "You should go to the village near Vraja named Arit-grama where you will find my devotee, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. To him you should deliver all your wealth. If he refuses to accept it, tell him I sent you and remind him about restoring Radhakunda." The merchant happily returned to his home and then went on to Vraja where he met Sri Raghunatha and explained everything to him. Astonished, Raghunatha gave him permission to restore both Radhakunda and Syamakunda.

On the banks of the kunda grew five trees, which were actually the five Pandavas. Once there was some talk of cutting the trees down, but that night the Pandavas appeared to Raghunatha and forbade the trees to be cut. To this day the trees still grow there. The devotees were overwhelmed with happiness to see the restoration of Sri Radhakunda and Sri Syamakunda. On the outskirts of these two ponds, groves of the Asta-sakhis were planted.

Raghunatha did not have a fixed residence, but stayed either on the banks of Sri Radhakunda or on the banks of the Manasa Ganga. At that time both places were surrounded by a fearful jungle inhabited by ferocious tigers and other wild beasts. One day Sri Sanatana Gosvami arrived at the bhajan kutir of Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami on the banks of the Manasa Ganga where he would take his midday meal. When going for a bath at Pavan Ghat he saw a tiger very nearby who had just drunk water in the ghat. Just a little further on, Raghunatha dasa sat at the base of a tree deeply absorbed in his bhajan. Sanatana Gosvami was alarmed and requested Raghunatha to practice bhajan in a cottage or hut. From that day on Raghunatha performed his bhajan in his hut.

Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was always engaged in worshiping Sri Radha-Govinda within his mind. One day, in his meditation he prepared and offered sweet-rice to Sri Radha and Krsna. In great happiness They and the gopis ate the sweet rice, and he accepted Their remnants. While he was honoring their Lordship's prasada, he was filled with intense love and ate slightly more than what he was accustomed to. The next day, from morning until late afternoon his door remained closed, causing the devotees some concern. After they knocked repeatedly on his door, it finally opened and they saw him lying down. "My health is not good," he explained to Sridasa. The devotees were unhappy and immediately sent word to Sanatana Gosvami in Mathura. At that time Sri Sanatana was staying at the house of Vallabha Acarya. Upon hearing the news, Vallabhacarya's son, Sri Viththal, sent two doctors to see Raghunatha dasa at Radha-kunda.

Seeing his condition the physicians insisted that Raghunatha's illness was the result of eating too much sweet rice. The devotee were dumbfounded by such a suggestion, but eventually understood the mystery. The worship of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was very wonderful.

Kavi Karnapura has written in Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (186) that Sri Raghunatha was Rasamanjari in Krsna lila. According to some other persons he was Ratimanjari or Bhanumati.

Raghunatha dasa wrote many books such as: Stavavali, Danacarita, Muktacarita, etc. He also composed many padas. He was born in the Saka era of 1428 and left the world in the Saka era of 1504, on the twelfth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Asvina. (CC 1.10.91-102, 3.6.35-154, Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika 186, Premavilasa 16.127)

His name has been mentioned in the following texts: Vaisnava Vandana of Jiva Gosvami (149-150), of Devakinandana (55), and of Vrndavanadasa (49); Krsnacaitanyacaritam of Murari Gupta 4.17.21; Karnapura's Caitanya Candrodaya Nataka 10.3.; CC (R.G. Nath ed.) 2.1.269.

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