For the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada this report contains the following North American results of book distribution for the month of December 2022. North American Totals, Monthly Temples, Monthly Weekend Warriors. Monthly Top 100 Individuals, Monthly Top 5, Cumulative Countries, Cumulative Temples, Cumulative Top 100 Individuals, Cumulative Top 5
Continue reading "NASN December 2022 – North American Sankirtan Newsletter
In 2005, at 18 years old I bought my first car, a lovely silver 2000 Honda Civic.
After the harrowing purchase process (because buying a car is *always* harrowing) I drove off the lot, hypersensitive to the sounds and controls of this new and expensive machine that was now under my care.
Tense, I rode in silence down Main Street in Gainesville. But the silence was not so silent.
Is that whining and roaring normal?
I don't think so.
I just bought this thing!
Taking a deep breath, I turned my car right back around. Maybe I could still get a refund...? I had just signed a bunch of papers, though, saying that there could be no returns as soon as I drove off the lot. This car was AS IS.
"Oh, hullo again," The car salesman greeted me with a grin. "How's your new vehicle?"
"Not so good," I said. "The engine is really loud. I think there may be a problem,"
The man frowned. "Let's take a look,"
He got into the driver seat and turned on the car, revved the engine, and then got out, the car still running. "Ma'am, your car is completely normal,"
"If the sound bothers you, maybe just turn on the radio," he said nonchalantly.
"Radio?" I said, bewildered. I had not listened to the radio since I was 12.
"Yeah, some music."
I sat behind the wheel, glancing at the radio controls. I had only obtained my official driver's license a couple weeks earlier - driving in general overwhelmed me already. I was still getting the hang of how to turn on windshield wipers, now I needed to figure out the radio... while I drove??
I pulled away from the dealership and headed back down Main.
That sound! How could the dealer say that was normal? I had driven in many, many cars in my life and none had ever sounded that loud. I felt like I was standing on a runway underneath an airplane taking off every time I pushed the gas pedal.
Maybe it's just 'cuz this is the first time you're the driver and not just a passenger, a sneaky voice said.
I drove for a couple miles, jittery. I kept looking at the radio. Finally, I reached over and fiddled with a few dials - static filled the car. I pressed the SEEK button and landed on a station. Music played through the speakers loud and clear.
"... I will sing of your mercy
that leads me through valleys of sorrow
to rivers of joy..."
A moment of astonishment, wonder, and utter confusion hit me. Was this song talking about... God? On a public radio? I had never heard of such a thing. I had only ever heard pop music, NPR, and rock on the radio.
I continued to listen to the beautiful, haunting song overlaid with piano and guitar, realizing that indeed, the singer was speaking to God, placing a trust in Him that through all the pain and sorrows of this world, he would "still look to the heavens / I will still seek Your face."
I began to sob. Yes, while I was driving down University Avenue in busy traffic.
And then, the song was over.
I pulled over and turned off the radio, the music still playing through my head. The words had lanced straight through to my soul, bypassing my brain and even my heart. Krishna Himself seemed to have spoken to me.
I wanted more.
So began my exploration and deep love for Christian contemporary music. Year after year I discover some new song that speaks to my soul and deepens my love for God. I experience how these Christians are speaking of the same God that is enthroned upon my own heart: Krishna. He is the same. His beauty, love, and mercy is the same.
I later discovered that the name of that song was "The Valley Song" by Jars of Clay. It holds a special, revered place in my heart as the very first song where I discovered God so profoundly in another tradition, like stumbling upon my best friend in the street in a foreign country. It's at the top of my curated playlist, but I haven't listened to it in years.
For some reason, I was drawn to listen to this song while I did laundry. Then, when I went out for a walk in the cold twilight, I put the song on a repeat. For over half an hour, the tender, haunting, soulful lyrics wound their way around my soul, prompting me to glance up at the heavens, to seek Krishna's face in the moon and the stars. I entered a deep, reflective space where I realized that the sorrows of my heart shall never, never end as long as I am here in this world. I belong with my Lord. He is the only one who can lead me to rivers of joy.
I felt a tender desire in my heart that at my funeral this piece would be played.
The memory of how I had discovered "The Valley Song" kept rising to my mind, and I kept smiling to myself.
Then I realized - I was 18 years old.
I am now almost 36 - that was literally half my lifetime ago. I shook my head in amazement. Life shall continue to wheel on and wheel on, moving faster and faster towards death. But I have a talisman here in my soul, a prayer to trust in my best friend through the valleys of sorrow. He'll lead me on.
This story was heard from the pujari at Sri Advaita Acharya’s house in Shantipur, West Bengal. He came to the ISKCON Chaitanya Chandrodoya Mandir, in Mayapur, with a copy of the Back to Godhead article about Srila Prabhupada entitled “A Lifetime in Preparation.”
Just recently an amazing realization occurred to me that I wanted to share with devotees everywhere. I have been the pujari and sevaite at the house of Advaita Acharya for many years. I was also there back in the 1940s and ’50s. At that time, I noticed that one grihastha Bengali devotee was coming to the temple quite regularly. He was dressed in a white khadi dhoti and kurta, and he always came alone. He would sit in the back of the mandir without speaking and would chant harinama on his mala very quietly and deeply. He came on the weekends, usually once every month or two. After chanting there for many hours, he would always thank me when he left. His presence was profound, and I became attracted to him. Since his devotions were solitary, I never spoke to disturb him. Sometimes I happened to notice that while he was chanting, his eyes would be full of tears.
Then, for a very long time, he did not come. But in August of 1965 I saw a saffron-clothed sannyasi sitting in the back of the mandir and recognized him to be my old friend. Again he sat for a long time chanting Hare Krishna. I could see his beads moving, his eyes closed in concentrated devotion. He was weeping unabashedly, even more than he used to, while he took the holy name. Finally, as evening came, he paid his dandavata pranama for long time. When he arose, he came up to me and again thanked me for my seva here at Advaita Bhavan. I asked him, “Who are you? I remember you from so long ago.”
He replied, ‘My name is Abhaya Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. I am an unworthy disciple of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada, my divine master. I have been coming here for such a long time because my gurudeva has given me an impossible mission. His desire was for me to go across the ocean to the Western countries and spread the sublime teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. There are countless souls there who have never heard of Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, and so they are suffering greatly. I have not known how this mission of his will be successful, so I have been coming here to this special house of Advaita Acharya, where He, Nityananda Prabhu, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would gather together to plan the sankirtana movement. It was here that They launched the inundation of love of God that swept India and continues to this day. Thus I have been praying very earnestly here that They will all give me Their mercy that somehow They will empower me and guide me. I want to satisfy my gurudeva’s desire, but I am feeling unqualified to do this.”
As he was speaking to me, I saw tears falling down on his cheeks again. Then he continued, “Tomorrow I am leaving for Calcutta to go upon a ship across the ocean, to America. I do not know what will befall me there, but I am praying most earnestly here for help.” Then he very humbly asked me for my blessings. I was moved by this Vaishnava’s sincerity and determination as I watched him depart upon his journey.
It was a few years later that I began noticing, for the first time, white Vaishnavas coming to Advaita Bhavan. They were wearing dhotis and saris and chanting on tulasi-mala. I never spoke to any of them, but then one of them gave me this Back to Godhead magazine from America. As I looked at the photographs, suddenly I recognized a picture of the Founder-Acharya who had brought Krishna consciousness to the West. It was my friend Bhaktivedanta Swami, who had come and prayed here so many times before. Then I realized that he has actually accomplished that impossible mission of his gurudeva. I saw that it was he, starting alone and without pretense, who had accomplished this glorious miracle against all odds.
As soon as I saw this, I came here to his temple in Mayapur to tell you this information. I know that he has gone from this world now, but I thought perhaps you might want to know this story about your and my beloved Srila Prabhupada.
—Our Srila Prabhupada, A Friend to All, Compiled by Mulaprakrti devi dasi
jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda
We are gathered here to celebrate the appearance day of Sri Advaita Acharya. Advaita Acharya is an incarnation of Maha-Vishnu. In terms of pastimes, He appeared before Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and thus was considered an elder by Mahaprabhu. He was actually older than Lord Chaitanya’s own father.
Advaita Acharya, although Vishnu Himself, was in the mood of a Vaishnava. As a Vaishnava, He felt compassion for the fallen conditioned souls who were suffering without Krishna consciousness. Although previously Navadvipa had been a great center of devotion, it had deteriorated into a center of dry learning. Thus, Advaita Acharya felt compassion for the fallen souls of the age, as they were so engrossed in material affairs, devoid of devotional service to Krishna. Although He was Vishnu Himself, in the mood of a humble Vaishnava He felt that He was not capable of delivering the fallen souls. He believed that only Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself could preach the yuga-dharma of hari-nama-sankirtana and deliver them.
Advaita Acharya Prabhu was an ideal householder. He had read in the scriptures that the Lord sells Himself to a devotee who offers Him a tulasi leaf and a palmful of water. As a grihastha brahman, He worshipped a salagrama-sila at home. Therefore, He specifically began to worship Salagrama with Ganges water and tulasi leaves with the aim of bringing about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s descent.
The Caitanya-caritamrta describes Sri Advaita Acharya’s appeal to Lord Krishna to appear again on earth. He cried with such intensity that the sound traveled throughout the entire universe and ultimately reached Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Because of the loud cries of Sri Advaita Acharya, Mahaprabhu did indeed descend, appearing in Navadvipa on the full moon night of Phalguna (February–March). Thus the Lord came at the request of Advaita Acharya, His pure devotee, to reclaim the fallen souls.
What was the method by which He reclaimed them? The method was hari-nama-sankirtana, the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. And so, in response to Advaita Acharya’s cries, the Lord appeared in Navadvipa on the full moon night of the Phalguna month, during a lunar eclipse, while millions of Hindus were bathing in the Ganges loudly chanting the holy names. Later, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself practiced sankirtana in Navadvipa-dhama, and after adopting the renounced order of life (sannyasa), He left Navadvipa and traveled throughout India. Wherever He went, He chanted the holy names and induced others to chant the holy names as well.
Originally, after Lord Chaitanya took sannyasa, He wanted to make His residence in Vrindavan. His mother, however, could not bear the thought that He would be so far away. So, in deference to His mother’s will, He made His headquarters in Jagannatha Puri, which is not so far from Navadvipa. Every year, devotees would travel from Navadvipa to Puri to attend the Ratha-yatra festival and have the association of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Thus, they would go back and forth between Navadvipa and Puri and bring news to Mother Sachi about Lord Chaitanya.
Still, Lord Chaitanya had an ardent desire to visit Vrindavan, and so He left by foot from Puri to travel to Vrindavan-dhama. On the way, He stopped in a place called Ramakeli, the capital of the Muslim despot Nawab Hussein Shah. There the prime minister and the finance minister of the Nawab, who later became known as Srila Sanatana Gosvami and Srila Rupa Gosvami, came to meet Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in disguise.
At the time, thousands of devotees were following Lord Chaitanya, and Lord Chaitanya inaugurated the hari-nama-sankirtana in Ramakeli just outside the area of the Nawab’s palace. The devotees chanted and danced day and night for many days. They totally forgot about eating, sleeping, and other bodily demands. They were simply absorbed in the ecstasy of hari-nama-sankirtana.
But after some time, a few of the devotees began to think of the Nawab, realizing that they were just outside the doorsteps of his palace. The Nawab, Hussein Shah, was a terrible tyrant. He killed people like anything. And he used intimidation to compel Rupa and Sanatana to serve him, threatening that if they didn’t accept his proposal to act as his ministers or secretaries, he would wreak havoc on the Hindu community and kill thousands. Some of the devotees began to become anxious that they were doing such loud hari-nama-sankirtana so close to the Nawab’s palace: “What if he takes notice of us and becomes enraged? He could kill us all!”
As the omniscient Lord, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu could understand the anxiety of these devotees. So He stopped the kirtan and told them, “Although I am acting as a devotee, actually I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and because I am the Supreme Lord, no one can harm Me or My movement.” He explained that His movement of hari-nama-sankirtana was destined to spread to every town and village of every country of the world: prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama, sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama. (Cb Antya 4.126)
During that period, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission spread throughout India. But with the passage of time, even in India it became weak. Unauthorized groups who claimed to be followers of Mahaprabhu but who did not actually understand or follow His principles arose and became prominent. The situation got worse and worse until, in the 1800s, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura appeared. He separated Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s true followers from the pseudo-followers and identified at least thirteen deviant groups (apasampradayas). He re-established the true idea of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He also discovered the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Mayapur-dhama, and with his followers he located many different sites associated with the Lord’s pastimes, including the residence of Sri Advaita Acharya in Mayapur. Advaita Acharya actually had two residences—one in Mayapur-dhama itself and one about twenty miles away in Shantipur.
Although Lord Chaitanya had predicted that the holy name would be chanted and preached in every town and village of the world, even learned devotees could not imagine how such a phenomenon could come to pass. Still, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura predicted that very soon somebody would come to fulfill the prediction of Lord Chaitanya. And, as we know, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada did emerge from the followers of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura to fulfill the desire and prediction of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Yet this entire arrangement, from one point of view, was created simply to fulfill the desire of Sri Advaita Acharya. He was the one who so intensely desired that the Lord should come and deliver the fallen souls, especially through hari-nama-sankirtana, that Lord Chaitanya did appear. And now, more than five hundred years later, we are gathered here in Camarillo, California, chanting the holy names of Krishna. This is possible only because Sri Advaita Acharya Prabhu desired so intensely that we would be able to do so and thus be delivered from the bondage of material existence and imbued with the ecstasy of devotional service.
The sixteen words of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—contain all spiritual truths. Realized devotees have actually seen the entire pastimes of Radha and Krishna within the maha-mantra. Srila Jiva Gosvami wrote a poem describing various pastimes of Radha and Krishna that transpire in the course of chanting one round of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura discussed the import of each word of the maha-mantra and each pair of words (Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, etc.). There are eight pairs of names that combine to make the sixteen words, and Bhaktivinoda Thakura explained how each pair corresponds to one verse of the Siksastaka prayer of Lord Chaitanya. Further, he wrote an entire chapter on each verse of the Siksastaka.
So, although superficially the Hare Krishna maha-mantra appears to be a simple combination of three different words arranged in a combination of sixteen, actually it contains the entire spiritual world. And as we go deeper and deeper in chanting the maha-mantra, we come closer and closer to entering into the spiritual world and the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. Thus, what Lord Chaitanya came to give by the intense desire of Sri Advaita Acharya, although it appears to be very simple—just an arrangement of sixteen words—is actually deeply profound and unlimitedly vast. It is the entire spiritual world, in comparison with which the whole material world is just a fraction.
The whole process is inconceivable. We know the story of Mother Yasoda and baby Krishna. On Krishna’s birthday, Balarama and the cowherd boys complained to Mother Yasoda that Krishna had eaten dirt. Krishna denied the accusation and, to the contrary, accused Balarama and the other friends of being angry with Him from Their play and wanting to get Him into trouble. He said, “If you have any doubts, Mother, you can look into My mouth and see if there is any dirt.” So, Krishna opened His mouth, and Mother Yasoda looked inside. And in Krishna’s mouth she saw the entire universe, the whole cosmic manifestation. She saw all moving and nonmoving entities and all directions. She saw past, present, and future. She saw the material elements and the three qualities of nature. She even saw herself and Sri Vrindavan-dhama. And she became completely bewildered.
Mother Yasoda saw the entire cosmic manifestation in the mouth of Krishna, while Krishna Himself appeared just like a small child that she could hold in her arms. In the same way, the entire spiritual world is contained within the two syllables Krs and na, because the two syllables Krs-na are Krishna Himself, the origin of everything. That is actually the invaluable gift of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu upon the fallen souls, given to us due to the desire of Sri Advaita Acharya.
Sri Advaita Acharya is very merciful. Advaita means “nondifferent.” He is Advaita because He is nondifferent from Hari, the Supreme Lord (advaitam harinadvaitad). And He is Acharya because He preaches the cult of devotion (acaryam bhakti-samsanat).
We are followers of Advaita Acharya. He is one of the acharyas in the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Actually, He was initiated by Sri Madhavendra Puri and therefore is in the same generation of spiritual masters as Sri Isvara Puri, the spiritual master of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Nevertheless, in one sense we can say Sri Advaita Acharya is in the line of Lord Chaitanya because He considered Himself to be His servant.
So, He is acharya—Advaita Acharya. Not only did He induce Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to descend to deliver the fallen souls through the holy name, but He also set the example how one can be acharya. Even as a grihastha, He was an acharya. Most people, especially in Kali-yuga, marry and become householders. Therefore, the example of Sri Advaita Acharya is most important for us. In some ways, His example may be even more relevant for most people in Kali-yuga than the example of Lord Chaitanya, who renounced family life at an early age, or that of Nityananda Prabhu, who as an avadhuta was beyond all material categories.
Thus, we all have been blessed by the mercy of Advaita Acharya, directly and indirectly. We should take advantage of His mercy and of the mercy He caused to descend from the spiritual world for us. We should serve Him with great love and affection.
mayaya yah srjaty adah
“Lord Advaita Acarya is the incarnation of Maha-Visnu, whose main function is to create the cosmic world through the actions of maya.
bhaktavataram isam tam
“Because He is nondifferent from Hari, the Supreme Lord, He is called Advaita, and because He propagates the cult of devotion, He is called Acarya. He is the Lord and the incarnation of the Lord’s devotee. Therefore I take shelter of Him.” (Cc Adi 1.12, 13)
Devotee: Some of Lord Chaitanya’s devotees went and stayed with Him in Jagannatha Puri. So why not Advaita Acharya?
Giriraj Swami: Advaita Acharya was a grihastha, so He remained in Bengal. But when the other devotees would travel from Bengal to Orissa to join in the Ratha-yatra festival and spend the four months known as Chaturmasya with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Puri, He would accompany them. But then He would go back. It was really just the renunciates who were able to join Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Some of them were married previously but joined later. Advaita Acharya, however, as far as we know, remained based in Bengal.
Actually, all the members of the Pancha-tattva more or less concealed their glories. It was only later that the devotees gradually realized their positions.
[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Sri Advaita Acharya’s appearance day, February 8, 2003, Camarillo, California]
Giriraj Swami begins at 26:00.
The Supreme Lord Visnu has three different Saktis: Sri, Bhu, and Nila. Sri Visnupriya is the internal potency known as Bhu-sakti. She appeared in Gaura-lila to assist Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with his mission of spreading the holy name of Krsna.
In Nabadwipa-dhama there lived a brahmana named Sanatana Misra, who was an extremely exalted Visnu-bhakta. He was a pious and generous brahmana as well, and used to feed, clothe and shelter many people. He was famous as the king of panditas.
In fact, in Dvapara-yuga, he had been a king named Satrajit. As a result of his pure devotion to Visnu he was blessed with a beautiful daughter who was rich in all good qualities.
From her early childhood, Visnupriya devi used to bathe in the Ganges three times daily. She was devoted to her parents and carefully followed the scriptural principles, and performed puja, arcana, and served the tulasi tree, while observing many different vows of austerity and piety.
Every day, when Visnupriya went to visit the Ganges, she would bow at the feet of Mother Saci with great humility. When Sacidevi noticed the modest and beautiful Visnupriya-devi she gave Visnupriya-devi her blessing that she might find a good husband, saying, “May Krsna bestow upon you a good husband.”
From that moment, she began thinking of how Visnupriya would make a good bride for her son Nimai. Upon further inquiry she found that the girl’s name was Visnupriya, that she was the daughter of Sanatana Misra, a wealthy and respect pandita of Nabadwipa.
At this time, the Lord’s first wife, Laksmipriya had passed away and entered into the spiritual domain. Saci’s heart had been tormented with great pain at first, but as the days passed, she had become anxious for her son’s happiness.
In this way she began to think of quickly arranging for a new bride for her son. When she found that Sri Gaurasundra had no objections to the idea, Sacidevi began to make arrangements in earnest. She sent a servant to the house of Kasinatha Pandita, the matchmaker to arrange an appointment.
Thereafter an auspicious day was selected, and at an auspicious time, the preliminary ceremonies began. The whole of Nabadwipa turned out for the wedding of Sri Nimai Pandita and Srimati Visnupriya-devi.
Immense canopies were set up, and an enclosure was made with rows of plaintain trees. Sri Nimai Pandita and his new bride looked beautiful together, dressed in fine garments. Decorated with all the traditional wedding ornaments, the two of them shone together on the raised wedding platform as radiantly as the spotless harvest moon.
Not only did the whole of Nabadwipa turn out for the wedding, but people came from all the neighboring villages from miles around to see the wonderful event. Everyone was invited. The poets came and sang the songs they had composed in honour of the happy couple. Many friends and well-wishers came to congratulate Sacidevi and express their best wishes for the nuptial bliss of Sri Nimai and Visnupriya-devi.
jaya jaya sundara nanda-kumārasaurabha-sańkaṭa-vṛndāvana-vihita-vasanta-vihāra“O handsome son of Nanda, O Lord who enjoys springtime pastimes in the fragrant forest of Vrndavana, all glories to You! All glories to You!”. – Srila Rupa GoswamiVasanta Pancami usually takes place during the month of January or February, and it marks the first official day of spring. The spring season […]
Wednesday, January 25th, 2023
The Muskoka River is supposed to be a length of 8 kilometres which is not long and at spots it is rather still in its flow. In other areas it rushes to become white water. At least where Mahadeva, Annapurna, and I were trekking on the River Road in Bracebridge next to the flow, we find it to be a body of water that’s very alive. In sections there are cascades and waterfalls. I can’t wait til the summer to tackle it. I’ll portage when the falls appear. Whatever the season, it's something to marvel at.
My purpose in coming to the Muskokas was to see to the housewarming event of Partha and Tilak. They have a new house, and it is celebrated with kirtan, prasadam, and some inspirational talks. The impending snowstorm discouraged many of the invitees from coming to partake. Well, the storm did arrive and one brave person, Nimai Nitai, plowed through the white wonder from quite the distance.
The unique thing about winter is that it encourages cozy gatherings, the need to ‘huddle near the fireplace’ type of thing. When all who can come sing from heart and lung, which for the most part is what we did using guitar, harmonium, and mridanga. It was a supposed house/heartwarming event; credit goes to the mantras.
I’m sure down the road more housewarmers will be upon us. Recently the provincial government passed some decision about 1 million new homes being up for construction in the southern Ontario region. I’m sure Krishna is going to find me in some of those future homes to deliver the mantra.
May the Source be with you!
Today is the appearance day of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and many other acharyas and associates of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was born in a very aristocratic family in Bengal. His father and uncle, Govardhana and Hiranya Mazumdar, were wealthy landlords, or zamindars; they were almost like kings in opulence. But although Raghunatha dasa was their only heir, he had no attraction for material opulence and enjoyment.
The Mazumdars’ family priest was Yadunandana Acharya, a disciple of Advaita Acharya. From the time Raghunatha dasa was a small boy, Yadunandana Acharya and Balarama Acharya, another friend of the Mazumdar family, would call him to sit on their laps. They would instruct him to chant Hare Krishna and tell him about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So, from a very young age Raghunatha dasa developed the desire to join Sri Chaitanya. Namacharya Haridasa Thakura also visited Raghunatha dasa’s family, and he too was merciful to Raghunatha dasa.
One day, Raghunatha dasa left home and went to meet Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. “I want to join You,” he told the Lord. But Chaitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “No. Don’t act like a crazy fellow. You should return home and be a good son, an expert businessman, and a proper husband, and then, when the time comes, the Lord Himself will arrange for you to become free from the bondage of family life.”
Lord Chaitanya used the term markata-vairagya. Markata means “monkey,” and vairagya means “renunciation.” Monkeys appear to be very renounced, because they live in the jungle, have no clothes or possessions, and eat only fruits and berries. But each monkey has two dozen girlfriends. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was instructing Raghunatha dasa, “Don’t be a monkey renunciant, making a show of renunciation when you still have material desires. Return home and act outwardly as an ordinary young man. And inwardly, develop your Krishna consciousness. Be detached internally and perform your external duties.”
So, on Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s order, Raghunatha dasa returned home. But within his heart he wanted to join Mahaprabhu. Raghunatha dasa’s parents were very worried that Raghunatha dasa, their only son, might leave home. So they kept guards at the gate to make sure he did not run away. One day, Raghunatha dasa got the idea to meet Nityananda Prabhu at Panihati. Once there, being extremely humble, he offered his obeisances from a distance. Lord Nityananda, being very merciful and humorous, said to Raghunatha, “You are just like a thief, staying at a distance. But now that I have captured you, I will punish you. You must make a festival for My associates and Me and feed us all chipped rice, yogurt, bananas, and milk.”
Raghunatha dasa bought all the cida (chipped rice), dadhi (yogurt), dugdha (milk), and fruits and sweets that were available in the market. Preparations were made using chipped rice, yogurt, milk, sugar, and bananas, and there were mangoes, sweets, and other items. Nityananda Prabhu and all the other devotees were very pleased.
When merchants heard about the festival, they came to Panihati to sell their goods. Raghunatha dasa bought all their dadhi, dugdha, bananas, and other items, made them sit down, and fed them the same items he had just purchased. Soon there were so many people that there was no place to sit. People began to sit on the bank of the Ganges, and when all of the space by the Ganges was occupied, they stood in the water and ate their cida-dadhi. At the end of the festival, Nityananda Prabhu was so pleased with Raghunatha dasa that He gave him a blessing.
We shall now read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Six: “The Meeting of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.”
krpa-gunair yah kugrhandha-kupad
uddhrtya bhangya raghunatha-dasam
nyasya svarupe vidadhe ’ntar-angam
sri-krsna-caitanyam amum prapadye
With the ropes of His causeless mercy, Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu employed a trick to deliver Raghunatha dasa Gosvami from the blind well of contemptible family life. He made Raghunatha dasa Gosvami one of His personal associates, placing him under the charge of Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. I offer my obeisances unto Him.
tabe raghunathe prabhu nikate bolaila
tanra mathe pada dhari’ kahite lagila
Then, after the conclusion of the festival, Nityananda Prabhu called Raghunatha dasa near Him, placed His lotus feet upon Raghunatha dasa’s head, and began to speak.
“tumi ye karaila ei pulina-bhojana
tomaya krpa kari’ gaura kaila agamana
“My dear Raghunatha dasa,” He said, “since you arranged the feast on the bank of the Ganges, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came here just to show you His mercy.
“krpa kari’ kaila cida-dugdha bhojana
nrtya dekhi’ ratrye kaila prasada bhaksana
“By His causeless mercy He ate the chipped rice and milk. Then, after seeing the dancing of the devotees at night, He took His supper.
“toma uddharite gaura aila apane
chutila tomara yata vighnadi-bandhane
“Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Gaurahari, came here personally to deliver you. Now rest assured that all the impediments meant for your bondage are gone.
“svarupera sthane toma karibe samarpane
‘antaranga’ bhrtya bali’ rakhibe carane
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will accept you and place you under the charge of His secretary, Svarupa Damodara. You will thus become one of the most confidential internal servants and will attain shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
“niscinta hana yaha apana-bhavana
acire nirvighne pabe caitanya-carana”
“Being assured of all this, return to your own home. Very soon, without impediments, you will attain the shelter of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”
As directed by Nityananda Prabhu, Raghunatha dasa returned home. Having lost all interest in family affairs, however, he no longer stayed in the inner section of the house, but moved to the outer courtyard. Late one night, the Mazumdars’ family priest and Raghunatha’s spiritual master, Yadunandana Acharya, came to Raghunatha and told him that a disciple who was supposed to worship the Deity had left his service, and he asked Raghunatha to induce that disciple to return. So Raghunatha dasa left the house with Yadunandana Acharya. The watchmen were asleep, and nobody had any fear, because they thought that Raghunatha had gone with Yadunandana Acharya to do some work and would soon return. On their way, Raghunatha dasa told his spiritual master, “I will go to that disciple and induce him to return to his service, so do not be in anxiety. You may return to your place.”
Yadunandana Acharya went home, and Raghunatha dasa thought that now he had the opportunity to escape. After he went to the disciple and sent him to do his service, Raghunatha proceeded toward Jagannatha Puri—not on the public road, because he knew that as soon as his family realized that he was gone, they would send people to catch him and bring him back—but along the interior paths. For twelve days he walked from Bengal to Puri, and on only three of them was he able to eat anything. But he did not mind, because he was absorbed in thoughts of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—that finally he would be able to join Him in Puri. Raghunatha dasa’s parents sent ten men to find him and bring him back, but they could not trace him.
bhaksana apeksa nahi, samasta divasa gamana
ksudha nahi badhe, caitanya-carana-praptye mana
Not caring about eating, he traveled all day. Hunger was not an impediment, for his mind was concentrated upon obtaining the shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
svarupadi-saha gosani achena vasiya
hena-kale raghunatha milila asiya
When Raghunatha dasa met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord was sitting with His companions, headed by Svarupa Damodara.
anganete dure rahi’ karena pranipata
mukunda-datta kahe,—“ei aila raghunatha”
Staying at a distant place in the courtyard, he fell down to offer obeisances. Then Mukunda Datta said, “Here is Raghunatha.”
Mukunda Datta had been present when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had sent Raghunatha dasa back home, so he was surprised: “Oh, the same boy has come again. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advised him to remain at home, so how has he come?”
prabhu kahena,—“aisa,” tenho dharila carana
uthi’ prabhu krpaya tanre kaila alingana
As soon as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard these words [“Here is Raghunatha”], He immediately welcomed Raghunatha dasa. “Come here,” He said. Raghunatha dasa then clasped the lotus feet of the Lord, but the Lord stood up and embraced him out of His causeless mercy.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was sitting with His most confidential associates, headed by Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, and they were discussing topics of Krishna. But as soon as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu heard “Raghunatha has come,” His mind was drawn to him. He left everything and stood up and embraced him.
svarupadi saba bhaktera carana vandila
prabhu-krpa dekhi’ sabe alingana kaila
Raghunatha dasa offered prayers at the lotus feet of all the devotees, headed by Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. Seeing the special mercy Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had bestowed upon Raghunatha dasa, they also embraced him.
Raghunatha dasa saw not only Chaitanya Mahaprabhu but also all of Mahaprabhu’s confidential associates. And he offered obeisances at their lotus feet. And seeing how Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was merciful to Raghunatha dasa and had embraced him, they all did the same.
prabhu kahe,—“krsna-krpa balistha saba haite
tomare kadila visaya-vistha-garta haite”
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “The mercy of Lord Krsna is stronger than anything else. Therefore the Lord has delivered you from the ditch of materialistic life, which is like a hole into which people pass stool.”
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
According to the law of karma, everyone is destined to suffer or enjoy according to a certain material standard, but the mercy of Lord Krsna is so powerful that the Lord can change all the reactions of one’s past karma, or fruitive activities.
According to our karma, we have to enjoy or suffer. But the Lord’s mercy is so strong that He can free us from any amount of suffering or material enjoyment. He can free us from all karma, whether punya (pious) or papa (sinful). He can lift us out of our material condition and place us on the spiritual platform, where there is no material enjoyment or suffering—only service.
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu specifically drew attention to the mercy of Lord Krsna. That mercy is more powerful than anything else, for it had saved Raghunatha dasa from the strong bondage of materialistic life, which the Lord compared to a hole where people pass stool.
The bondage of material life is very strong. And usually, the more one is surrounded by material opulence, the harder it is for one to become free. Therefore, persons who are interested in spiritual life or liberation from material existence do not try to increase their material opulence, because their opulence may keep them bound to material existence. Srila Prabhupada himself told the story of how his father had helped him. When Prabhupada was of the age to be married, there were two proposals: one for him to marry a very beautiful girl and one for him to marry a not-so-pretty girl. Srila Prabhupada’s father advised him, “You should rather marry the plain girl, because later, when the time comes for you to leave family life, it will be easier if your wife is not so beautiful.” Srila Prabhupada took the advice, and in the end—as we know—he left everything to serve the order of his guru maharaja and preach Krsna consciousness. In the West there may be even more problems if the wife is beautiful. There used to be a popular song: “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life/ Get an ugly woman to be your wife.” Generally, the more one is surrounded by material opulence, the more one has trouble becoming free. But the mercy of Krishna is so powerful that even though Raghunatha dasa was surrounded by so much opulence (Nityananda Prabhu said that his opulence was like the king of heaven’s), such loving parents, and such a beautiful wife, he had no attachment to any of it. And he left it all to join Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So Sri Chaitanya told him, “The mercy of Krishna is so strong that you could leave your material opulence and come here.” And He compared family life to a hole in which people pass stool.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave His verdict that those addicted to the materialistic way of life are like worms that are living in stool but cannot give it up. A grha-vrata, one who has decided to live in a comfortable home although it is actually miserable, is in a condemned position. Only the mercy of Krsna can save one from such misery. Without Krsna’s mercy, one cannot get out of the filthy entanglement of materialistic life.
The worm lives in stool, eats the stool, and enjoys life. According to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, materialistic persons who want to enjoy the happiness of family life are like worms who want to enjoy the taste of stool. Of course, pure devotees can also be grihasthas, but here Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is talking about materialistic enjoyment.
The poor living entity cannot give up his materialistic position on his own; only when granted the special mercy of Krsna can he give it up. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew very well that Raghunatha dasa was already liberated. Nevertheless He emphasized that Raghunatha dasa’s life of material comfort as a very rich man’s son with a very beautiful wife and many servants to attend him was like a ditch of stool. The Lord thus specifically indicated that ordinary men who are very happy with material comforts and family life are in no better position than worms in stool.
Just see Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s language. But He did not use the same language with everyone. He spoke as He did to Raghunatha dasa because of a special reason, as we shall now read.
raghunatha mane kahe,—“krsna nahi jani
tava krpa kadila ama,—ei ami mani”
[Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had said, “By the mercy of Krsna you have been free from the bondage of household life, which is like a ditch where people pass stool.”] Raghunatha dasa answered within his mind, “I do not know who Krsna is. I simply know that Your mercy, O my Lord, has saved me from my family life.”
prabhu kahena,—“tomara pita-jyetha dui jane
cakravarti-sambandhe hama ‘aja’ kari’ mane
The Lord continued, “Your father and his elder brother [Govardhana and Hiranya Majumadara] are both related as brothers to My grandfather [they were of almost the same age and had friendly relations with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s grandfather], Nilambara Cakravarti. Therefore I consider them My grandfathers.
Nilambara Cakravarti, the grandfather of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, was very intimately related to Raghunatha dasa’s father and uncle. Nilambara Cakravarti used to call them his younger brothers because both of them were very devoted to the brahmanas and were very respectable gentlemen. Similarly, they used to call him Dada Cakravarti, addressing him as an elder brother brahmana. Raghunatha dasa, however, was almost the same age as Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Generally a grandchild may joke about his grandfather. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took advantage of the relationship between His grandfather and Raghunatha dasa’s father and uncle to speak in a joking way.
“cakravartira duhe haya bhratr-rupa dasa
ataeva tare ami kari parihasa
“Since your father and his elder brother are younger brothers of Nilambara Cakravarti, I may joke about them in this way.
Sometimes we may want to give an instruction to someone but not want him or her to take offense. So after we give the instruction, which may involve harsh words, we may say that we were just joking. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was saying, “Don’t mind, because your father and uncle were friends of My grandfather, so they are like My grandfathers. I am only joking by comparing them to worms in stool.” But although He was joking, He was also not joking.
“tomara bapa-jyetha—visaya-vistha-gartera kida
sukha kari’ mane visaya-visera maha-pida
“My dear Raghunatha dasa, your father and his elder brother are just like worms in stool in the ditch of material enjoyment, for the great disease of the poison of material enjoyment is what they consider happiness.
In other words, they are in such a diseased condition that the thing that is actually poison—sense gratification—they take as nectar.
When a man is attached to material enjoyment, he is attached to many miserable conditions, but nevertheless he accepts his condemned position as one of happiness.
This is maya, illusion. He is suffering, but he thinks he is enjoying.
Sense enjoyment is so strong for such a person that he cannot give it up, exactly as a worm in stool cannot give up the stool. From the spiritual point of view, when a person is too absorbed in material enjoyment, he is exactly like a worm in stool. Although such a position is utterly miserable to the eyes of liberated souls, the materialistic enjoyer is greatly attached to it.
Liberated souls can see that the poor man is in a miserable condition, but the materialistic person is attached to his condition and cannot leave it. Srila Prabhupada had a disciple named Sudama Vipra, who was a rough character, a former member of Hell’s Angels. Once, when Srila Prabhupada arrived at a train station, maybe in Delhi, many people gathered around. The devotees performed kirtan, and Sudama Vipra began to preach. He said that before he came to India, he had thought that India was a very holy, spiritual place where everyone was inclined to spiritual life, and that he had expected to see beautiful mountains, forests, and rivers, and people engaged in spiritual consciousness. But when he had actually come to India, to the cities, he had seen that people were wretched, living in filth, poverty, and misery; he had also seen many lame people, deformed people, and lepers, all suffering. He said, “To the eyes of a pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada, all of us look just like those wretched people—poor, filthy, diseased, and miserable in so many ways. A pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada sees all of us like them, and naturally he feels compassion.” And at the end of the talk, Srila Prabhupada remarked, “He has spoken very nicely.” Here Srila Prabhupada says something similar in relation to how Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw Raghunatha dasa’s father and uncle, who lived in great material opulence—how such a position is utterly miserable to the eyes of liberated souls but the materialistic enjoyer is greatly attached to it.
“yadyadi brahmanya kare brahmanera sahaya
‘suddha-vaisnava’ nahe, haye ‘vaisnavera praya’
“Although your father and uncle are charitable to brahmanas and greatly help them, they are nevertheless not pure Vaisnavas. However, they are almost like Vaisnavas.
Raghunatha dasa’s father and uncle were kind to devotees and brahmans. They used to practically maintain the whole brahman community of Bengal, and they were friendly with such exalted devotees as Balarama Acharya, Yadunandana Acharya, and Haridasa Thakura. But because they still desired to enjoy material life, they are not considered pure devotees, suddha-vaisnavas. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu calls them vaisnavera praya, which means they are “like Vaishnavas,” or “almost Vaishnavas.” Pure devotional service is without any desire other than to serve Krishna (anyabhilasita-sunyam). It is not covered by fruitive work, impersonal speculation, or anything else (jnana-karmady-anavrtam). So, they were not pure devotees. They performed pious deeds and religious activities, but their aim was to enjoy material life.
As devotees, we also may be surrounded by material things, and because of habit we may not be able to serve enthusiastically without them. Srila Prabhupada gave the example of a famous barrister, C. R. Das, who gave up everything to join India’s freedom movement. But he was so used to a high standard of living that he could not do without it—and within one year he died. He could not live as a mendicant. So, if one prematurely tries to renounce his material situation, he may become disturbed—or even die. Thus Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu generally advised, sthane sthitah sruti-gatam: Remain in your position and hear the messages of Krishna from the mouths of pure devotees; then you can gradually advance.
Here, because Raghunatha dasa was a liberated soul, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was speaking to him in a way befitting an advanced Vaishnava—although earlier He had advised him to return home.
As stated by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya [his commentary on Sri Caitanya-caritamrta], some people, usually very rich men, dress like Vaisnavas and give charity to brahmanas. They are also attached to Deity worship, but because of their attachment to material enjoyment, they cannot be pure Vaisnavas. Anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam. The pure Vaisnava has no desire for material enjoyment. That is the basic qualification of a pure Vaisnava. There are men, especially rich men, who regularly worship the Deity, give charity to brahmanas, and are pious in every respect, but they cannot be pure Vaisnavas. Despite their outward show of Vaisnavism and charity, their inner desire is to enjoy a higher standard of material life.
In the West, we have little experience of persons who actually follow the principles of Vaishnavism but desire to enjoy material facilities. When I first came to India and met such persons, I became somewhat confused. There was one man who owned a textile mill—a follower of Vallabhacharya. He was very pious, very charitable, and he invited me to his house. So, I went to visit him, on Carmichael Road. He had a very nice temple room, and as a follower of Vallabhacharya he worshipped Bala Krishna—there was so much paraphernalia for the worship. He was also one of the trustees of the Vallabhacharya temple in Bombay, so he wanted me to visit the temple, and I accompanied him there. Many grihastha bhaktas were singing bhajanas in the temple, and it was very opulent. I was confused, because they seemed to be following everything—they were vegetarian, followed all the rules and regulations for worshipping the Deity, and gave money in charity—but still there was something different about them. So, I was a bit confused. But now we can understand: although they were religious and charitable, they still had the desire to enjoy material opulence; they were not pure devotees.
Raghunatha dasa’s father, Govardhana, and uncle, Hiranya dasa, were both very charitable to brahmanas. Indeed, the brahmanas from the Gaudiya district were practically dependent on them. Thus they were accepted as very pious gentlemen. However, they presented themselves as Vaisnavas to the eyes of people in general, although from a purely spiritual point of view they were ordinary human beings, not pure Vaisnavas. In other words, they were kanistha-adhikaris, for they were ignorant of higher Vaisnava regulative principles. Nevertheless, they could not be called visayis, or blind materialistic enjoyers.
They were not pure devotees, but at the same time they were not blind materialistic enjoyers. They were in-between. So they are called vaisnava-praya, bhakta-praya, or kanistha-adhikari. They were on the material platform, because they wanted material enjoyment, but at the same time they had faith in Krishna and Vaishnavas, and they worshipped Krishna and served Vaishnavas. So they were vaisnava-praya.
“tathapi visayera svabhava—kare maha-andha
sei karma karaya, yate haya bhava-bandha
“Those who are attached to materialistic life and are blind to spiritual life must act in such a way that they are bound to repeated birth and death by the actions and reactions of their activities.
As clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gita (3.9), yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah: if one does not act as a pure devotee, whatever acts he performs will produce reactions of fruitive bondage (karma-bandhanah). In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said:
nunam pramattah kurute vikarma
yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti
na sadhu manye yata atmano ’yam
asann api klesada asa dehah
“A materialistic person, madly engaged in activities for sense enjoyment, does not know that he is entangling himself in repeated birth and death and that his body, although temporary, is full of miseries.” (SB 5.5.4)
A visayi, a person blindly caught in a web of materialistic life, remains in the cycle of birth and death perpetually. Such a person cannot understand how to execute pure devotional service, and therefore he acts as a karmi, jnani, yogi, or something else, according to his desire, but he does not know that the activities of karma, jnana, and yoga simply bind one to the cycle of birth and death.
In other words, without bhakti no one can be liberated. Not even a yogi or a jnani, what to speak of a karmi, can be liberated without the mercy of a devotee, without the touch of devotional service.
“hena ‘visaya’ haite krsna uddharila toma’
kahana na yaya krsna-krpara mahima”
“By His own free will, Lord Krsna has delivered you from such a condemned materialistic life. Therefore the glories of Lord Krsna’s causeless mercy cannot be expressed.”
In the Brahma-samhita (5.54) it is said, karmani nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhajam. Lord Krsna is so merciful that He can stop the reactions of karma for His devotee. Everyone—from the small insect called indra-gopa up to Indra, the king of heaven—is bound by the reactions of fruitive activities.
yas tv indra-gopam atha vendram aho sva-karma-
karmani nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhajam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
Everyone, whether an insect or the king of heaven, Indra, is entangled and bound by the actions and reactions of his karma. However, when one becomes a pure devotee, free from material desires and from bondage to karma, jnana, and yoga, one is freed from material actions and reactions by the causeless mercy of Krsna. One cannot express sufficient gratitude to Krsna for being freed from the materialistic way of life.
Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is the ideal example for us to follow. When he was a householder, he showed the ideal example of how to live in household life, how to execute one’s duty perfectly and at the same time be detached from material enjoyment and attached to Krishna. Later, after he joined Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he showed the ideal example of renounced life. He hardly ate or slept, and he was always engaged in chanting the holy names, offering obeisances, and other such activities. So, he is a rare example of a devotee who set the ideal standard for both grihasthas and sannyasis.
We pray for his mercy.
Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s appearance day, February 4, 1996, Juhu, Bombay]
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 10, Text 14:
pundarika vidyanidhi—bada-sakha jani
yanra nama lana prabhu kandila apani
Pundarika Vidyanidhi, the third big branch, was so dear to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that in his absence Lord Caitanya Himself would sometimes cry.
In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (54), Srila Pundarika Vidyanidhi is described as the father of Srimati Radharani in krsna-lila. Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore treated him as His father. Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s father was known as Banesvara or, according to another opinion, Suklambara Brahmacari, and his mother’s name was Gangadevi. According to one opinion, Banesvara was a descendent of Shri Sivarama Gangopadhyaya. The original home of Pundarika Vidyanidhi was in East Bengal, in a village near Dacca named Baghiya, which belonged to the Varendra group of brahmana families. Sometimes these Varendra brahmanas were at odds with another group known as Radhiya brahmanas, and therefore Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s family was ostracized and at that time was not living as a respectable family.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura writes in his Anubhasya, “One of the members of this family is living in Vrindavana and is named Sarojananda Gosvami. One special characteristic of this family is that each of its members had only one son or no son at all, and therefore the family was not very expansive. There is a place in the district of Cattagrama in East Bengal that is known as Hata-hajari, and a short distance from this place is a village known as Mekhala-grama in which Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s forefathers lived. One can approach Mekhala-grama from Cattagrama either on horseback, by bullock cart or by steamer. The steamer station is known as Annapurnara-ghata. The birthplace of Pundarika Vidyanidhi is about two miles southwest of Annapurnara-ghata. The temple constructed there by Pundarika Vidyanidhi is now very old and much in need of repair. Without repair, the temple may soon crumble. There are two inscriptions on the bricks of that temple, but they are so old that one cannot read them. There is another temple, however, about two hundred yards south of this one, and some people say that this is the old temple constructed by Pundarika Vidyanidhi.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu called Pundarika Vidyanidhi “father,” and He gave him the title Premanidhi. Pundarika Vidyanidhi later became the spiritual master of Gadadhara Pandita and an intimate friend of Svarupa Damodara’s. Gadadhara Pandita at first misunderstood Pundarika Vidyanidhi to be an ordinary pounds-and-shillings man, but later, upon being corrected by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he became his disciple. Another incident in the life of Pundarika Vidyanidhi involves his criticizing the priest of the Jagannatha temple, for which Jagannatha Prabhu chastised him personally by slapping his cheeks. This is described in Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya-lila, Chapter Seven. Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura informs us that during his time there were still two living descendants of the family of Pundarika Vidyanidhi, who are named Shri Harakumara Smrititirtha and Shri Krishnakinkara Vidyalankara. For further information one should refer to the dictionary known as Vaisnava-manjusa.