Chakra Living

Gadadhara Pandita and Bhaktivinode Thakura

by Rama Kesava das

Posted June 29, 2003

Today is the tirobhava of both Gadadhara Pandita and Bhaktivinode Thakura.

Sri Gadadhara Pandita Goswami

Early Life

In Gaura-lila Srimati Radharani, the daughter of Vrsabhanu Raja, has descended as Gadadhara Pandita. This is confirmed in the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika. In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi., 10.15), Gadadhara Pandita is described as the fourth branch of the Caitanya tree, the combination of Srimati Radharani and Lalita-sakhi. In the Pańca-tattva--the five-fold features of the Absolute--Gadadhara Pandita represents the internal pleasure potency of the Lord. Srila Sridhara Maharaja has described Gadadhara Pandita as representing this main potency of Gauranga, quoting Krsnadasa Kaviraja, "teho laksmi-rupa tara sama keha nai". Kaviraja further concludes gaura-prema-maya, Gadadhara Pandita is the embodiment of Mahaprabhu's love. With Gadadhara dasa as the halo of Radharani, Gadadhara Pandita is her mood, her heart.

Gadadhara Pandita was born to Sri Madhava Misra and Sri Ratnavati Devi in the village of Beliti in Vaisaka (April-May), 1486 C.E. Other sources give his birthplace as Srihatta or Chittagong. His younger brother was Vaninatha. A brahmana of the Varendra clan and Kasyapa gotra, Gadadhara, at the age of thirteen, migrated with his parents to Navadwipa to stay at his maternal uncle's house, nearby the residence of Jagannatha Misra. Some say that a wealthy person of Kandipura, named Suraraja, was instrumental in bringing Gadadhara from Beliti to Navadwipa. Gadadhara remained a brahmacari all his life.

Living very near to the house of Sri Jagannatha Misra, Ratnavati Devi thought of Saci Devi as her own sister, and Gadadhara was Mahaprabhu's constant companion from childhood. Inseparable from youth, the two would play together and study together. Gadadhara Pandita also received tutelage from Sri Isvara Puri (later the diksa-guru of Caitanya Mahaprabhu) at the house of Gopinatha Acarya. There Isvara Puri taught him from his own Sri Krsna-lilamrta.

Exemplifying the characteristics of a Vaisnava, Gadadhara was from his very childhood very serene, patient, calm, quiet, fond of solitude and very renounced. Sometimes in his youth, Sri Nimai Pandita would ask his fellow students meaningless, silly questions of logic. Gadadhara, however was not very fond of this pastime, and at times would remain slightly apart from Nimai. Nimai, however, would not let him be: "Gadadhara! In a very short time I'll become such a Vaisnava that Lord Brahma and Lord Siva themselves will come to My door."

Initiation from Pundarika Vidyanidhi

Gadadhara Pandita was a great friend of Mukunda Datta. If any Vaisnava ever came to Navadwipa, Mukunda would tell Gadadhara and they would both eagerly go to take darsana. It was during this time that Gadadhara Pandita met the famous Pundarika Vidyanidhi. Pundarika Vidyanidhi appeared for all intents and purposes like a wealthy materialist. Upon seeing this Gadadhara lost whatever reverence he had previously felt even before speaking with him, and thought, "How can a Vaisnava look and act as if he was so addicted to sense enjoyment?"

Mukunda Datta, however, knew the true character of Pundarika Vidyanidhi, could also sense the doubts in the mind of Gadadhara Pandita. He then began to recite verses from the Bhagavatam in a sweet voice. On hear this, Pundarika Vidyanidhi swooned in a fit of ecstasy, crying, and calling "Krsna, Krsna", before losing consciousness and falling to the ground. (CB., Madhya 7.78-79).

At this, Gadadhara felt great remorse, realising his mistake, having considered Pundarika, a highly advanced soul, to be an ordinary materialist. In contrition he realised the only way to make atonement for his offences was to take initiation from him. He then submitted his proposal to Mukunda, who then told Pundarika Vidyanidhi, giving an account of Gadadhara's high qualifications. Thus it was that Pundarika Vidyanidhi gave Gadadhara Pandita mantra-diksa.

The Lord's Constant Companion

Around this time Mahaprabhu went to Gaya Dham, and began to first manifest Krsna-prema. He took shelter of Isvara Puri, and after returning home exhibited a new life to all in Navadwipa. All hours of the day he was immersed in love of Krsna. Upon seeing the Lord with tears on his face, Gadadhara would also cry in ecstatic love. After this, Gadadhara Pandita would never leave Mahaprabhu's side.

Gadadhara would pacify Mahaprabhu in his fits of ecstasy. Once Mahaprabhu asked him "Gadadhara! Where is that beautiful blackish boy Who is dressed in yellow garments?" After asking this, He began to shed tears.

Not able to immediately think of what to say, Gadadhara eventually suggested, "He is in your heart." However on hearing this Mahaprabhu began to tear at his chest with his nails, and Gadadhara was forced to stay his hands. Gadadhara would console Him, saying Krsna was coming soon. minute now." Hearing this, Mahaprabhu became somewhat composed. At this Saci Ma was pleased. Sometimes she was a little scared with Mahaprabhu manifesting these moods, and so she was very happy with Gadadhara Pandita, and told Him, "Gadadhara! You must, please, remain with Nimai always. If you stay with Him then I won't have to worry."

Gadai-Gauranga and Ksetra-sannyasa

Gadadhara Pandita was Mahaprabhu's constant companion during His pastimes in Navadwipa. Radha-Krsna of Vraja were sporting on the banks of the Ganga as Gadai-Gauranga, and the cowherd boyfriends of Vraja assisting in His pastimes of kirtana. Once Mahaprabhu came to a forest. Seating Himself there, He began to remember His sweet pastimes in Vraja. Whilst Mukunda Datta sung the purva-vaga--courtship--songs sweetly, Gadadhara collected flowers and garlanded Him as Srimati Radharani would dress Krsna. Some sang beautiful songs, whilst others began to dance gracefully. Sri Gaurasundara then took Gadadhara by His side, seated on a dais at the base of one tree. Advaita Acarya offered arati, with Nityananda Prabhu to Mahaprabhu's right side. Srivasa Pandita then decorated everyone with flower garlands as Narahari fanned that Divine couple with a whisk made from the tail hairs of forest cows. Suklambara decorated them all with sandalwood paste and Murari Gupta recited the prema-dhvani. Madhava, Vasudeva, Purusottama, Vijaya, and Mukunda began to sing songs in the various ragas.

Later Mahaprabhu closed his pastimes in Nadiya, and as per his mother's request took up residence at Nilacala. Gadadhara also went there and engaged himself in the service of Sri Tota Gopinatha near the ocean at Yamesvara. Mahaprabhu would very often visit His dear friend Gadadhara and lose Himself in discussions on the topics of Sri Krsna. When Mahaprabhu travelled to Vrndavana, Gadadhara could not bear the separation and wanted to go. Mahaprabhu reminded him of his vow of ksetra-sannyasa (to remain constantly in the service of Sri Gopinatha at Sri Ksetra) and sent him back. There Gadadhara would regularly recite Bhagavatam, whilst Mahaprabhu and His associates listened. After forty-eight years of His pastimes, Sri Gaurasundara merged into Gadadhara worshipful Deity, Sri Gopinathji.

According to the diary of an Orissan devotee, Mahaprabhu was said to have first gone missing from the Gundica Mandira. The devotees searched for him in all directions and finally found His garments outside Tota Gopinatha Mandira, at Yamesvara. On the right knee of Sri Gopinathji, a slight crack was found and this is the spot where Mahaprabhu is said to have entered the Deity. Gadadhara passed away in Puri on the new moon day in the month of Jaistha (May-June) in 1534 C.E. at the age of forty-seven, eleven months after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya.

Sanatana, Rupa, Svarupa, Lokanatha, Bhugarbha, and Paramananda Goswamis, and Sivananda Cakravarti all composed 8 verse glorifications--astakas--of Gadadhara Pandita.

Srila Kedarnatha Datta Bhaktivinode Thakura

His Appearance

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura was born 09/02/1838 in the ancient village of Ulanagar to the Datta family. He was given the name Kedarnatha. At the time of his appearance Gaudiya Vaisnavism had descended into darkness, with various bad practices and heresy appearing in the guide of Krsna-bhakti; it is said that Bhaktivinode appeared to counteract this danger of apasampradaya.

When he was seven his elder brother and maternal uncle both passed away. By his eighth year his two younger brothers also meet their death. When Bhaktivinode's father died when he was eleven, reducing the family to poverty, his mother arranged his marriage at twelve to the then five-year-old daughter of Madhusudana Mitra Mahasaya, a resident of Rana Ghata. The girl's name was Sayamani. By this Jaganamohini (Bhaktivinode's mother) hoped to improve the family fortunes by this arrangement.

Kedarnatha was educated at home by his uncle Kasiprasada Ghosh Mahasaya Thakura. Having studied under the British, his uncle was a central figure in many literary circles and the editor of the Hindu Intelligencer. Kedarnatha studied his uncle's book, and helped him in submitting articles to the newspaper. He became an expert in English as a reader, speaker and writer. Kedarnatha spent his school years in a studious manner and became known as a great debater and logician, before moving to Calcutta in 1856 when he in 19. His wife, then 12, remained with her father.

Married Life

In Calcutta Kedarnatha published essays in English and Bengali, and lectured regularly. Seeing the corruption in business, Kedarnatha decided to become a teacher, establishing an English school in Kendrapara, a village near Chutigrama in Orissa, thus pioneering English education in the state. Some time later he went to Puri and passed a teachers' examination; he got a teacher's post in a Cuttack school and later became headmaster of a school in Bhadraka and then in Madinipura. His dedicated work was noted by the school board authorities. As headmaster, Bhaktivinode studied the various religions and came to the realisation that the only real religion established in Bengal, albeit poorly, was that of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Krsnavallabha's prediction

Bhaktivinode's paternal grandfather died in 1858, but not before telling him "After my death, do not tarry many days in this place. Whatever work you do by the age of 27 will be your principal occupation. You will become a great Vaisnava. I give you all my blessings." The Thakura thereafter moved with his wife and mother to Cuttack.

Toward the end of 1861 his first wife became ill and died, leaving him with a ten month old son, Annada Prasada. His mother tries to raise the child, but she is too old and finds it difficult. Two months later he remarried at Jakapura Bhagavati-devi, a sincere Vaisnavi of noble character, peaceful, and accomplished in all she does. By all accounts she was a devout wife, and can be seen in photos with japa beads, etc.

In 1861, Bhaktivinode took up a government post as deputy magistrate in Bengal. In the years to come, he took up several government posts, chiefly as deputy magistrate in various parts of Bengal. He read Sri Caitanya-caritamrta repeatedly; his faith in Krsna Consciousness increasing until he was totally absorbed in the pure bhakti-sastras day and night.

Between the years 1874 and 1893, the Thakura spent much time in seclusion chanting the holy name (though he still executed his worldly duties); he wrote several books in Sanskrit such as Sri Krsna samhita, Tattva-sutram, Tattva-viveka and Datta-kausubha. He also wrote many books in Bengali such as Kalyana-kalpataru. Bhaktivinode was an outstanding scholar and through the course of his life he was to write hundreds of books; a career he started at the age of 12. He spoke Bengali, Sanskrit, English, Latin, Urdu, Persian and Oriya. He managed to obtain and write a Sanskrit commentary on the Caitanyopanisad. His other literary works include Sri Caitanya Siksamrta, Vaisnava-siddhanta-mala, Prema-pradipa and Manah-siksa.

As manager of the Jagannatha Mandira in Puri, he established regular worship of the Deity, and a 'Bhakti Mandapa' in the courtyard, where daily discourses of Srimad-Bhagavatam were held. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura would spend long hours discussing Krsna and chanting the holy name, especially at Tota-Gopinatha Mandira, the tomb of Haridasa Thakura, the Siddha Bakula and the Gambhira.

As a householder Bhaktivinode had two wives and ten children, of which the great Vaisnava scholar Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura was one. Bimala Prasad (Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati), Bhaktivinode's fourth son, was born in Sri Purusottama Ksetra (Jagannatha Puri) on 6th February 1874 CE, answering the prayer of Bhaktivinode for the Lord 'to send a Ray of Visnu' to preach the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world. Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati was to become the spiritual master of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In 1878 the Thakura showed his iron-fast determination and used due legal process to punish the fraudster Bisikisan who under the guise of claiming to be incarnation of Mahavisnu Himself had cheated people conspired to incite rebellion in the people near Bhubaneswar.

Initiation

As a devotee, Bhaktivinode showed great humility; he had strict moral standards and would not accept gifts from anyone. Even in his government duties, he refused all honours and titles. When his seventh son was born, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura took pancaratrika diksa initiation from Bipin Bihari Goswami, descended from the Jahnava family of Baghnapara.

In 1881 Bhaktivinode Thakura began publishing Sajjan-tosani, his Vaisnava journal. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura had previously made pilgrimages to Kasi, Prayaga, Mathura and Vrndavana in 1866. At the close of his stay in Naraila he desired to again see the land of Vraja, where he met Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji, and accepted him as his eternally worshippable siksa (instructing) guru.

From Vrndavana he went to Calcutta and bought a house. He started daily worship of Sri Giridhari (the transcendental form of Krsna who appeared in the form of Govardhana Hill) and called the house Bhakti-bhavan. In 1881, whilst excavating for the construction of the Bhakti bhavana at Rambagan in Calcutta, a Deity of Kurmadeva was unearthed. Bhaktivinode entrusted his son Bimala with the service of the deity of Kurmadeva. In Calcutta, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura started the Sri Visva-Vaisnava Sabha, dedicated to the preaching of pure bhakti as taught by Lord Caitanya. To publicise the work of the society, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura published a small booklet entitled Visva-Vaisnava-kalpavi.

Also he published his own edition of the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, with his Amrta-rabhava Bhasya commentary, introduced the Caitanyabda or Caitanya-era calendar, and gave assistance to the propagation of the Caitanya Panjika, which established the feast day of Gaura Purnima. Lecturing and reading on books such as Rupa Gosvami's Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu in various Vaisnava societies; he published in the Hindu Herald, an English periodical, a detailed account of Sri Caitanya's life.

Once whilst stationed in Krishanaga, Bhaktivinode Thakura, along with Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja found Lord Caitanya's birthplace in the year 1887. When the birthplace was uncovered, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura and Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji would worship Lord Caitanya there. It was at this time that the learned Vaisnavas recognised Kedaranatha Datta and gave him the honorary title of Bhaktivinode Thakura. In 1891, he took leave from government service for two years just for this purpose. He would lecture in clubs, societies and organisations. During this time he continued writing and opened many branches of Nama Hatta in different districts of Bengal. The Nama Hatta became a self-sustaining success, which continued to spread even after his return to government service.

Babaji vesa

In 1908 Bhaktivinode gave up his household life and accepted initiation into the babaji order of life from Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, a renowned paramahamsa saint. He put on the outer cloth and kaupina previously worn by Srila Jagannatha dasa Maharaja, which he has saved since the Babaji's maha-samadhi. Until 1910 he travelled between Calcutta and Puri, still writing books; but during that year he shut himself up and entered samadhi, claiming paralysis. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura passed away in Sri Jagannatha Puri on 07/23/1914, on the disappearance day of Sri Gadadhara Pandita.

Bhaktivinode Thakura has revealed his transcendental identity to the members of his spiritual family. He is "the best of the followers of Rupa Mańjari, who is the leader of Lalita Sakhi's entourage." (Srila B.B. Tirtha Maharaja, Sri Caitanya: His Life & Associates, p. 226) Lalita Sakhi is the foremost of the eight principle gopis. Bhaktivinode thus indicated his divine identity:

yugala-sevaya, sri-rasa-mandale,
niyukta kara amay
lalita-sakhira, ayogya-kinkari,
vinoda dhariche pay

Praying, "Engage me in the service of the Divine Couple in the circle dance," Bhaktivinode, the most unworthy servant of Lalita Sakhi, holds tight to your lotus feet.

-- Kalyana-kalpa-taru

Bhaktivinode further gives his identity as Kamala Mańjari, the servant of Sri Rupa, in his song Siddha-lalasa in his Gita-mala. It was the further opinion of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura that his father and Gadadhara Pandita were one and the same: speaking of Svarupa Damodara Goswami and Gadadhara Pandita, "I find that those two have appeared on the surface as Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura". Certainly it can be said that Bhaktivinode Thakura was inspired by Gadadhara Pandita.

"In the teachings if Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, whose preaching was inspired by Sri Gadadhara Pandita and Sriman Mahaprabhu, we also find all the substance that is present in that plane of vibration. These two personalities, Sri Gadadhara Pandita and Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, are our great gurus, our guides, and by offering our worship to them we can sow the seed of our highest benefit. By the grace of that great Guru Maharaja, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada, we have bee able to understand this."

-- Sridhara Maharaja, Heart and Halo, pp. 94-95

[Texts assembled from various sources Internet sources, and other cited works.]