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Appearance of Sri Srivasa Pandita

Srivasa’s Firm Faith in Mahaprabhu’s Advent

Srila Vrindavana dasа Thakura, who in gaura-lila is the Vyasa-avatarа, told the glories of Srila Srivasa Pandita in his book, Chaitanya-bhagavata. Who can tell the glories of someone who bathes in Nirdaya-ghata located in Navadvipa? The Ganges is everywhere, isn’t it? But the Ganges in Navadvipa-dhama has one speciality. There, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu performed His pastimes with His friends and associates in this sacred river. Everyone bathes in the Yamuna also— this is true. Who can describe the glories of bathing in such special places like the Yamuna or the Ganges? 

Before coming to Navadvipa, Srivasa used to reside in Srihatta in Bengal. Then, Srivasa came to Navadvipa-dhama and began living on the banks of the Ganges. And Srivasa Thakura would come to listen to hari-katha, bhagavata-katha from Advaita Acharya. Advaita Acharya left East Bengal and had also come to stay in Navadvipa. Advaita Acharya is no ordinary person; He is the combined avatara of Mahavishnu and Sadashiva. 

So, Advaita Acharya understood that, very soon, Krishna would appear in Navadvipa-dhama as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And, who made Mahaprabhu appear in this world? Advaita Acharya. Mahaprabhu Himself said:

sutiya acchinu kṣīra-sagara-bhitare mora nidrā bhanileka nadara huṅkāre

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 22.16)

[Lying within an ocean of milk, My transcendental slumber broke, as I awoke to hear the loud cries of My devotee.]

Nadara means someone who shakes you and wakes you up. And when Advaita Acharya offered water of the Ganges and tulasi, He made Mahaprabhu appear. It is true, Mahaprabhu would have eventually appeared— but when, who knows? However, when Advaita Acharya offered water of the Ganges and tulasi, He quickly brought Krishna to this world. When in Navadvipa, Advaita Acharya would perform nama-sankirtana and recite the Bhagavatam

Upon seeing the bad condition of this Kali-yuga, Srivasa also prayed to Bhagavan. At times, other devotees would become very upset over the degrading state of society, but Srivasa Thakura used to pacify everyone. Some would ask, “Who knows when Bhagavan will come?” Srivasa Thakura replied, “Krishna will very quickly appear.” Still, a few devotees remained upset, and in an angry mood, they would tell Srivasa Pandita, “Oh, you are a spy. You are saying, ‘Bhagavan will come, He will come…’ But, when will He come?”

There is actually a very beautiful drama re-enacting this lila of Mahaprabhu— Nadir Nimai. Every day in Dampyar, they used to produce this beautiful play and Srila Gurudeva would go there each day, early in the morning, to attend the drama. They would perform the play, re-enacting this pastime in their theatre behind a museum, everyday from 7am to 10 am. In those days, they would present the play for one month. During the day, they were performing Mahaprabhu’s lila, and in the evening time, the rasa-lila of Krishna. Everything was very nice and very well made, and the quality of the acting was very good. This was around 30 to 35 years ago. And to this day, I still remember how beautiful this play was— it made you feel as if you were in Navadvipa, standing in front of Mahaprabhu. After each performance, most in the audience would cry so much while being completely absorbed in bhava.  

When Nityananda Prabhu arrived in Navadvipa-dhama, He would stay in the house of Nandana Acharya, but then, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu brought Nityananda Prabhu to His own House. Nityananda Prabhu was always absorbed in bhava— always. Sometimes, He could not even dress Himself appropriately. On these occasions, Mahaprabhu would say, “Nitai, how is it possible for You to stay like this? You have to follow the rules of society.” Nitai would only laugh, “Ha, ha, ha….” 

Srivasa Pandita’s wife was Malini-devi. She had a very beautiful, strong and intimate relationship with Sacimata, and used to serve her.  

Malini-devi would also take care of Nityananda Prabhu like her own son. Once, she put down a pot of ghee, and then a crow came and took it away. Afterwards, Nityananda Prabhu told the crow, “Bring this pot of ghee back.” And the crow immediately returned the pot of ghee to Malini-devi. Since Nityananda Prabhu is directly chaitya-guru, and He is non-different from guru-tattva, when Nityananda told the crow to come back, the bird listened and immediately returned. 

Srivasa Pandita Points to The Fruit of True Knowledge

In Chaitanya-bhagavata grantha, Vrindavana dasa Thakura very nicely explains the lilas of Mahaprabhu— which are so amazing. We heard yesterday about when He was studying in Navadvipa, vidya-vilasa, His pastimes of knowledge and study. During those pastimes, the Lord was very restless and He would regularly defeat big panditas. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu even manifested one logic named navya-nyaya. And with this new logic, navya-nyaya, the Lord defeated many great panditas

During those times, Navadvipa was an eminent city of knowledge. Similar to Mithila which was known for being a great place of learning. Many high-class panditas used to come to Navadvipa to study in places like Vidyanagara. We still visit today to hear from Vaishnavas how Navadvipa was a place where many well-learned, scholarly persons would come to discuss shastra. And in Vidyanagara, a lot of new knowledge was being developed.

But, what is real knowledge? The fruit of true knowledge is to fix your mind on Krishna. 

sei se vidyāra phala jāniha niścaya kṛṣṇa-pāda-padme yadi citta-vṛtti raya

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Adi-khanda 13.178)

[The perfect result of an education is the fixing of one’s mind on the lotus feet of Krishna.]

One simply cannot establish anything by dry logic only. Why do people study everything about the scriptures? To attain krishna-bhakti. Because if you do not attain krishna-bhakti, if you do not have bhagavad-bhakti, what is the meaning of vidya, knowledge? Sometimes, Srivasa Thakura would say these things to Mahaprabhu. 

paḍe kene loka – kṛṣṇa-bhakti jānibāre  se yadi nahila, tabe vidyāya ki kare eteke sarvadā vyartha na gonao kala  paḍilā ta’, ebe kṛṣṇa bhajaha sakala

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Adi-khanda 12.53)

[Why do people study? Education is only for understanding devotional service of Lord Krishna. Therefore, don’t uselessly waste Your time any longer. You’ve studied enough. Now, You should worship Krishna.]

Thus, when Srivasa would tell all of these things to Mahaprabhu, the Lord would smile and say, “One day, I will become a great devotee. Even Brahma and Shiva will come and bow their heads at My feet.” In this way, Mahaprabhu indicates that actually, He is Svayam Bhagavan. 

When Mahaprabhu went to Gaya, He met Ishvara Puripada, and from this moment on, the life of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu changed completely. Previously, He was Uddhata Nimai, very restless.  However, after visiting Gaya, the Lord became much more emotional. Sometimes, Mahaprabhu would tell Srivasa, “Srivasa, whom do you worship? How do you get money? Look, that person whom you worship is already with you. So tell me Srivasa, to whom do you worship?” 

Sriman Mahaprabhu Shows His Four-armed Form to Srivasa

In another lila, while in the house of Srivasa, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sat Himself on the altar of Vishnu. Then, the Lord gave Srivasa darshana of His four-armed form— holding shankha, chakra, gada, padma. At that moment, Srivasa Thakura began to chant the holy names. And Advaita Acharya thought, “O, the causeless mercy of Mahaprabhu will slowly manifest.” 

viśvambhara-caraṇe āmāra namaskāra  nava-ghana varṇa, pīta vasana yāṅhāra

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.272)

[I offer my respectful obeisances at the lotus feet of Vishvambhara, whose bodily complexion is the colour of a newly formed cloud and who is dressed in yellow garments.]

śacīra nandana-pāye mora namaskāra  nava-guñjāśikhi-puccha bhuṣaṇa yāṅhāra

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.273)

[I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Saci’s son, whose head is decorated with strands of fresh gunja and a peacock feather.]

gaṅgādāsa-śiṣya-pāye mora namaskāra  vana-mālā, kare dadhi-odana yāṅhāra

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.274)

[I offer my respectful obeisances at the feet of Gangadasa Pandita’s student, who wears a forest flower garland and holds yoghurt rice in His hand.]

jagannātha-putra-pāye mora namaskāra  koṭi-candra yini rūpa vadana yāṅhāra

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.275)

[I offer my respectful obeisances at the feet of Jagannatha Mishra’s son, whose attractive form defeats the beauty of millions of moons.]

śṛṅga, vetra, veṇu—cihna-bhuṣaṇa yāṅhāra  sei tumi, tomāra caraṇe namaskāra

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.276)

[I offer my obeisances unto You, who are adorned with horn, stick, and flute.]

cāri-vede yāṅre ghoṣe’ ‘nandera kumāra’ sei tumi, tomāra caraṇe namaskāra

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.277)

[You are that person who is addressed by the four Vedas as the son of Maharaja Nanda. I offer my obeisances unto You.]

In this way, Srivasa and other devotees would pray to Mahaprabhu:

āji mora janma-karma—sakala saphala āji mora udaya—sakala sumaṅgala

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.289)

[Today, my life and activities have become successful. Today all good fortune has awakened for me.]

āji mora pitṛ-kula haila uddhāra āji se vasati dhanya haila āmāra

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.290)

[Today, my forefathers have been delivered. Today my home is truly blessed.]

āji mora nayana-bhāgyera nāhi sīmātāṅre dekhi—yāṅra śrī-caraṇa seve ramā”

Chaitanya-bhagavata (Madhya-khanda 2.291)

[Today, there is no limit to the good fortune of my eyes, for I am seeing He whose lotus feet are served by Rama, the goddess of fortune.]

Mahaprabhu’s Mercy to Sri Narayani-devi, and His instruction to a Renunciant

The niece of Srivasa was Sri Narayani-devi. And when Narayani was very young, Mahaprabhu used to show so much affection to her. The Lord used to give His own remnants to her and say, “Dance, dance…” Despite being a very small girl, she used to become completely absorbed in bhava while dancing, so much so that she would faint. And she also would fetch water from the Ganges everyday for Mahaprabhu. And, because of Narayani-devi taking remnants of Mahaprabhu, in later years she received the mercy of the Lord, and the incarnation of Vyasa (composer of Vedas/Vedic scriptures) came as Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura in her womb.

In this way, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, slowly, slowly started to manifest His bhava every day in the house of Srivasa while performing nama-sankirtana. Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Haridasa Thakura, Gadadhara Pandita and other devotees would also come and join in the nama-sankirtana

Once, a payopahari, meaning someone who, because of renunciation, only drinks milk, came around. You see in this world, the more renounced you are, the more people become impressed by you and proclaim, “Oh, this is a great sadhu.” Otherwise, if the person is also enjoying material sense gratification, you will just think, “Oh, I am enjoying, and he is also enjoying. So, what is the difference between us?” This is why renounced people attract the attention of others. 

So one day, this payopahari baba came to the house of Srivasa Thakura and requested, “O, I want to see the pastimes of the nama-sankirtana of Mahaprabhu.” However, at that time, no one was allowed to join the nama-sankirtana without previous acceptance from Mahaprabhu. 

When Mahaprabhu would perform His nama-sankirtana, they would keep the door locked so that only His intimate associates could enter. However, when this payopahari babaji heard people say, “O, during nama-sankirtana, Mahaprabhu is so absorbed in bhava that He faints while dancing and jumping,” this baba thought, “Oh, I want to see this.” So, he insisted to Srivasa, and Srivasa therefore allowed this person to stay, but only if he remained hidden in one corner of the house. 

That day, as the renunciate sat hiding in a corner, the nama-sankirtana began, and after some time Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “You know today, I am not feeling so much happiness in the nama-sankirtana. Surely, there is some stranger here.” 

One devotee replied, “Prabhu, we are the same everyday, there is no stranger here.” Then Mahaprabhu said, “There is someone sitting in the corner of the house.” Next, Srivasa caught the feet of Sriman Mahaprabhu and said, “O Prabhu, this payopahari baba, who only drinks milk, was insisting to see Your nama-sankirtana”. Mahaprabhu called the baba over and gave him a beautiful instruction. What did the Lord say to him?

ārādhito yadi haris tapasā tataḥ kiṁ nārādhito yadi haris tapasā tataḥ kim antar bahir yadi haris tapasā tataḥ kiṁ nāntar bahir yadi haris tapasā tataḥ kim


[If one is worshipping the Lord properly, what is the use of severe penances? And if one is not properly worshipping the Lord, what is the use of severe penances? If Sri Krishna is realised within and without everything that exists, what is the use of severe penances? And if Sri Krishna is not seen within and without everything, then what is the use of severe penances?]

This verse is very simple. One who worships Bhagavan: what is the result of his renunciation? If you have too much renunciation, your heart will be dry. Just like jnanis who perform too many austerities, because of them, their hearts have become so dry, and there is no bhakti. Because if you do not worship Sri Hari, then what are the fruits of undergoing hard austerities? And if you are only externally saying, “Hari,” then also, what is the fruit of this? 

If Hari is not there, internally and externally what are the fruits of austerities? Tapasya means to give hardships to your body. But, are there any benefits to this? This is the teaching of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The Lord said, “Hey payopahari, in Kali-yuga, you cannot attain God by these renunciations and hard austerities. You can attain Bhagavan in a very simple way, by your performance of nama-sankirtana.” 

Conversely, Chaitanya-charitamrita states that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is very happy to see the renunciation of His devotees. 

mahāprabhura bhakta-gaṇera vairāgya pradhāna yāhā dekhi’ prīta hana gaura-bhagavān

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Antya-lila 6.220)

[Renunciation is the basic principle sustaining the lives of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s devotees. Seeing this renunciation, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is extremely satisfied.]

Like upon seeing the renunciation of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Mahaprabhu was also very pleased. 

ārādhito yadi haris tapasā tataḥ kiṁ nārādhito yadi haris tapasā tataḥ kim antar bahir yadi haris tapasā tataḥ kiṁ nāntar bahir yadi haris tapasā tataḥ kim

However, in this verse Lord Chaitanya is saying this about renunciation: there is no fruit in austerities. Bhakti is something that comes naturally and simply. If you perform too much renunciation, your heart will be dry. 

Another point is that your lust and anger will actually increase even more. Thus, if you do not practice bhakti, and only become renounced, or focus only on jnana or knowledge, you will become full of ahankara or ego, and instead your lust and anger will only increase. For this reason, our bhakti should be natural. And you should only accept that which is favourable for your bhakti

Also, if you accept too much, there will be no benefit. And if you take too little there is no benefit as well. There is a shloka in Bhagavatam explaining this. So, Mahaprabhu told this payopahari sadhu, and actually the Lord was teaching all the jivas, “Our main goal is to perform hari-bhajana.” Do you understand this conception?

Vyasa-puja in the House of Srivasa Thakura

There are so many other beautiful kathas that took place in the house of Srivasa Thakura. In another beautiful lila, Mahaprabhu is actually teaching the jivas of this world who the original Vyasa is. In Caitanaya-bhagavata, Vrindavana dasa Thakura tells that Mahaprabhu Himself said, “Nityananda, tomorrow is Vyasa-puja, Asari-purnima. Vyasa is Narayana Himself, so We should celebrate Vyasa-puja nicely.” Then, Nityananda Prabhu answered, “O, tomorrow You will celebrate Vyasa-puja in the house of Srivasa.” Then the Lord, only to teach the jivas of this world, said, “But Srivasa is a poor brahmana, he does not have anything in his house, not even a rat resides there,” meaning Srivasa does not even have a grain of rice in his house. The Lord continued, “And many people will attend, so it will be difficult for him to organise a big festival as many preparations have to be arranged, like food and beverage.”

After hearing the Lord’s response, Srivasa took a hold of the feet of Mahaprabhu and said, “Prabhu wherever You are, Lakshmi is also there. Just mercifully instruct me to do that, and everything will be arranged.” Mahaprabhu simply smiled and said, “Srivasa, how will you be able to arrange everything? Devotees will come early in the morning as many arrangements will have to be made, especially preparing the prasada.” 

This is actually one of specialities of the lilas of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: the speciality of the prasada served; the prasada was always properly cooked and served. For this reason, the Lord asked, “Srivasa, how will you be able to manage such a great festival?” Then, Srivasa replied, “Prabhu, by Your mercy, everything is possible.” Finally, Mahaprabhu simply said, “Okay.” Then, early the next morning, people began bringing so much rice, dal, and many other things for the festival. That morning, the house of Srivasa became like a supermarket, because there was so much bhoga and so many donations. Even a local rich man, a sethji, came. And everything he brought was cooked.

So early in the morning, after many devotees came, Mahaprabhu sat down and they started performing nama-sankirtana, while other devotees were cooking prasada. Afterwards, according to all of the rules and regulations, they offered their puja perfectly— worshipping vyasa-panchaka [Sri Vedavyasa, Paila, Vaishamapayana, Jaimini and Sumanta]. Like when Srila Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja explained to us how to properly observe Vyasa-puja and worship vyasa-panchaka. In the book, Sat-kriya-sara-dipika it is explained how to properly worship this vyasa-panchaka on the day of Vyasa-puja. 

Later when it was the time for pushpanjali, the most senior devotee nearby should offer first. And who was that? Nityananda Prabhu, who is the disciple of Lakshmipati Tirtha. Thus, Mahaprabhu said, “Sripada,” as Mahaprabhu used to call Nityananda, Sripada. “Sripada, give pushpanjali.” However, Nityananda is avadhuta, and when He took the garland, He held it for perhaps five to ten minutes, not really offering the garland, rather, just standing there. 

Mahaprabhu told Nityananda, “Come on, give pushpanjali.” “Okay, okay, now I am offering the garland,” Nityananda replied as He took the garland that was meant for Vyasadeva and placed it on the neck of Mahaprabhu. And in this way, Nityananda Prabhu proved that the main Vyasa is actually the original Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. For this reason, when we glorify the origin of our guru–parampara we sing bhajans like Krishna Hoite Chaturmukha. This was the speciality of the Vyasa-puja celebration at the house of Srivasa Thakura— there are actually many other stories to mention about Srivasa Thakura.


Lord Chaitanya Always Resides in Five Places

Srivasa was very near and dear to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. We heard yesterday how, when Mahaprabhu Himself indicated that He would accept sannyasa, all of the devotees began to suffer in separation. But at that moment, Mahaprabhu Himself said, “Actually, I will always reside in five places— forever.” And what are those places? The Lord said, “First, I will always reside in the house of Sacimata. Second, I will always be wherever Nitayananda Prabhu is dancing. Third, in the house of Srivasa during nama-sankirtana. Fourth, in the call of Advaita Acharya. I will always be there in His call. And fifth, in the house of Raghava Pandita.”

Raghava Pandita was also a close associate of Mahaprabhu. Raghava had a sister named Damayanti, and both of them, brother and sister, used to serve Chaitanya Mahaprabhu nicely. Chaitanya-bhagavata describes that when they used to visit Jagannatha Puri, they used to bring perhaps ten or twelve large baskets for the Lord— raghavera jhali, which means the baskets of Raghava Pandita. They used to bring so many things for Mahaprabhu, enough to last Him the whole year. 

They would pay carriers to bring the large baskets on their heads from Bengal— from Panihati to Jagannatha Puri. In those times, there were no buses or taxis, they would travel by foot. They brought the most ordinary things for the Lord to use. For example,  for Mahaprabhu to wash His hands, they used to bring very nice soil which was refined into a powder. And with this refined mud, which at the time was used like we use soap today, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would clean Himself.

You may have heard of Mahaprabhu’s pastimes of suffering stomach illness. On those occasions, the Lord would take the medicinal jute leaves that they also brought Him. Especially during the month of Kartika, the Lord would enact this sickness lila and an illness would come to His stomach. Then, they would arrange for these leaves to be brought so Mahaprabhu could regain His health.

Raghava Pandita and his sister Damayanti would bring many things for Mahaprabhu. And during the four months they stayed in Puri, every day they used to ask Govinda, “Did you give this to Lord Chaitanya or not? Did Mahaprabhu take it or not?” They were asking this all of the time as they had so much affection for the Lord. And Mahaprabhu is a desire tree, so He would accept all of their offerings. This is why Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself said, “I will also always reside in the house of Raghava Pandita.” Thus, Mahaprabhu always stays in these five places.

Bolo Vrindavana Bihari lala ki jaya!

[Jaya Srila Srivasa Pandita ki jaya!]

Date: 5 July 2021 Location: Mathura


Translator: Taruni-gopi dasi (Brazil) Transcriber: Sanatana dasa (USA)

Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Editor: Sanatana dasa (USA) Proofreading: Chandrika dasi (UK) Image: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

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