shri-radha-prema-rupa ya pura vrindavandeshvari
sa shri-gadadharo gaura-vallabhah panditakhyakah
nirnitah shri-Svarupair yo vraja-lakshmitaya yatha
pura vrindavane lakshmih shyamasundara-vallabha
sadya gaura-prema-lakshmih shri-gadadhara-panditah
radham anugata yat tal lalitapy anuradhika
atah pravishad esha tam gaura-candrodaye yatha
The incarnation of love who previously was the queen of Vrindavan, Radha, is now the beloved of Gaura named Srila Gadadhara Pandit. Svarupa Damodar himself indicated that he was Vraja’s goddess of fortune, the Lakshmi who was previously the beloved of Shyamasundara in Vrindavan. She today has become the goddess of fortune of love for Gaura and is known as Srila Gadadhara Pandit. Lalita, who is also known as Anuradha, is Radha’s closest friend and confidante. She has also entered into Gadadhara, as was shown in the play Chaitanya-candrodaya.
gadadhara panditadi prabhura nija-shakti
tan sabhara carane mora sahasra pranati
Gadadhara Pandit and others are the lord’s own energies. I pay thousands of obeisances to their feet. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.1.41)
“Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appears in six features, namely as the two types of guru, the devotees of the lord, the lord himself, his incarnation, his expansion and his energy. According to the principle of simultaneous oneness and difference, they are all identified with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself.”
(Anubhashya to Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.1.37-45)
She who was Radha in Krishna’s pastimes became Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami in Gaura’s lila. When Gaura manifests his identity with Narayan, his shaktis are his wives Lakshmipriya and Vishnupriya. When identifying with Krishna, his shakti is Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami.
I offer my obeisances to Krishna who appears in five features, as a devotee, as the expansion of a devotee, as an incarnation of a devotee, as the pure devotee and as the devotional energy.
These five features all appeared with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in his incarnation, and in their association, he joyfully performed the congregational chanting of the Holy Names. Though he appears in these five forms, there is in fact no difference between them. The distinctions arise due to his desire to relish different devotional flavors.
Sri Gauranga, Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara and Srivasa, etc., make up the Pancha Tattva and there is spiritually no difference between them. The supreme truth has unlimited different pastimes in order to relish the different tastes of transcendental relationship and thus he separates into these five forms as the form of devotee, the devotional manifestation, the devotional incarnation, the devotional energy and the pure devotee.
jaya jaya nityananda-gadadharera jivana
jaya jaya advaitadi bhaktera sharana
All glories, all glories, to the life of Nityananda and Gadadhara!
All glories, all glories, to the shelter of all the devotees, headed by Advaita!
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur comments on words “the life of Gadadhara” as follows: “Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami is chief amongst the most intimate devotees of Sri Chaitanya. He is the fountainhead of the entire shakti-tattva and is thus present equally in Mahaprabhu’s lilas in Nabadwip and in Nilachala. His childhood home was in Nabadwip; later when he took sannyas, he went to live in Jagannath Puri, in a garden or tota by the seashore. Pure devotees who wish to enter into the madhura-rasa of worship to Radha and Govinda take shelter of Gadadhara Pandit and are known as Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s intimate devotees. Those devotees who are not so inclined take shelter of Nityananda Prabhu and engage in pure devotional service in his mood. Some of Mahaprabhu’s devotees, such as Narahari, were followers of Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami. They took refuge in him because they knew him to be his dearest associate and thus worthy of their service. Some devotees therefore call Chaitanya ‘the life of Nityananda’ while others called him ‘the life of Gadadhara.’”
Gadadhara Pandit was born in the village of Beleti Gram in the Chittagong district of modern Bangladesh in a family of Varendra Brahmins in 1408 of the Shaka era (i.e., 1486 AD) on the dark moon day of the month of Vaishakh. His father was Madhava Mishra and his mother Ratnavati Devi. He also had a younger brother named Baninath. He belongs to the Kashyapa gotra. He lived in the village of Beleti until he was twelve and then moved with his family to Nabadwip.
Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami was a brahmachari for his entire life. Isvara Puripada was very impressed by his indifference to the pleasures of the world and out of affection for him gave him instruction in his own work, Krishna-lilamrita.
While Mahaprabhu was delighting in his pastimes as a student, there was no scholar in the town of Nabadwip who was not afraid of entering into debate with him. Mahaprabhu would defeat one’s position and then show how the same position could be defended. Mukunda, Srivasa and others who knew the joys of the devotional sentiment were afraid of getting involved in such useless debates with Nimai Pandit and so they would avoid him. One day, Nimai Pandit saw Gadadhara and asked him to give the definition of liberation. Gadadhara answered according to the Nyaya school, that liberation consisted in the final eradication of all miseries (atyantika duhkha-nivritti). Nimai then proceeded to show how this definition was inadequate. The other devotees who were listening thought how wonderful it would be if such a brilliant scholar became a devotee. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.10)
When Mahaprabhu returned from Gaya and began to reveal the amazing transformations of love, all the devotees were astonished. Sriman Pandit was the first to see Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic symptoms and he reported this news to all the others who were overjoyed. When Mahaprabhu decided to reveal his true identity to the devotees, he told them to come to the house of Shuklambar Brahmachari. Gadadhara went to Shuklambar’s house but was discreet about his presence there, but when he saw Mahaprabhu become intoxicated with the power of the Holy Names and overcome by the sattvikas, he fainted. Mahaprabhu then said to him: “Gadadhara! You have such good fortune. From your early childhood, your mind has been fixed on Krishna’s lotus feet. Meanwhile, I have wasted my life in useless activities. Though I had obtained the great treasure of a human birth, by my misfortune, I made no use of it.” (Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.1)
Whenever Mahaprabhu became too overcome by his ecstasies, Gadadhara would calm him. One day, as Mahaprabhu was crying out in separation, “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?” Gadadhara said to him, “Your lord Krishna is hidden in your heart.” As soon as he heard this, Mahaprabhu began to claw at his chest, but luckily Gadadhara was able to stop him by holding his hands and calm him by saying, “Krishna will come shortly, be patient.” When Sachi saw how Gadadhara was clever in handling her son, she asked him to always stay by his side to protect him. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.2.198-210)
Gadadhara Takes Initiation from Pundarika
Once, Mahaprabhu was calling out the name of his dear associate, Pundarika Vidyanidhi, saying, “Pundarika, my father!” and crying. None of the devotees present were able to understand what Mahaprabhu meant. When they asked him, he told them about Pundarika Vidyanidhi and explained that he would shortly be coming to Nabadwip Mayapur. When Pundarika did come to Nabadwip, he played the role of a great sense enjoyer in order to dissimulate his greatness. Mukunda Datta was a former resident of Chittagong and knew Pundarika Vidyanidhi, who was formerly Radharani’s father Vrishabhanu, very well. One day, he told Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami that he wanted to introduce him to a very advanced Vaishnava and took him to Pundarika’s house. Mukunda introduced the two of them and Vidyanidhi happily engaged Gadadhara in conversation. Gadadhara, however, who had been indifferent to sensual pleasures since he was very young, began to have doubts about Pundarika Vidyanidhi when he saw the expensive furnishings by which he was surrounded, rich sheets as white as the foam of milk, perfumes in the air, the pan he chewed. Mukunda saw the doubt written on Gadadhara’s face and decided to reveal Pundarika’s true devotional nature to him. So he recited a verse in glorification of Krishna from the Bhagavat:
aho bakiyam stana-kala-kutam
jighamsayapayayad apy asadhvi
lebhe gatim dhatry-ucitam tato’nyam
kam va dayalum sharanam prapadye
How truly amazing! The sister of Bakasura, the evil Putana, was sent on a mission to kill Krishna. He drank the kalakuta poison that was mixed with her breast milk, and despite her evil intentions, awarded her the position of a wet nurse (as Ambika Kilimba in Goloka). Who is more merciful than he that I should take shelter of him? (SB 3.2.23)
The instant that Pundarika Vidyanidhi heard this couplet, he began to cry, “Ha Krishna!” and fell to the ground in a faint. Extraordinary ecstatic symptoms began to show on his body. Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami was amazed to see this reaction and began to regret the offensive thoughts he had been having just moments before. Later, Mahaprabhu advised Gadadhara that the best way to become free of the offense was to take initiation from Pundarika Vidyanidhi, and so he became his disciple.
The Lord's Constant Companion
Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami was Mahaprabhu’s constant companion. He participated in Mahaprabhu’s water sports after the conversion of Jagai and Madhai, he acted in the play about Krishna lila in Chandrasekhara’s house, he observed the great epiphany (maha-prakasha) in Srivasa Angan; he was there when the Kazi was converted and when Mahaprabhu took sannyas; he accompanied Mahaprabhu to Puri where he joined him in cleaning the Gundicha temple, bathing in Narendra Sarovara, etc.
At Chandrasekhara’s house, in the first act of the play about Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan that Mahaprabhu staged, Hari Das played the part of the village constable, Srivasa Pandit played Narada Muni and Mahaprabhu Rukmini. In the second act, Gadadhara also dressed as a woman, at which time Mahaprabhu said, “Gadadhara is a part of my Vaikuntha family.” Afterward, Mahaprabhu dressed as the primal energy and gave joy to everyone in the form of the mother of the universe; the devotees too glorified him with hymns addressed to the Divine Mother.
Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami went to live in Puri as a kshetra-sannyasi. Mahaprabhu gave him the service of the Tota Gopinath deity and told him to live in the Yamesvara Tota, or garden. On one occasion, when Gadadhara heard that Nityananda had come to Puri, he invited him to come and take Tota Gopinath’s prasad. Nityananda accepted his invitation and brought some fine rice from Bengal as an offering for Gopinath. Gadadhara cooked the rice along with leaves and vegetables from the Yamesvara.garden, and when he was offering the foodstuffs to the deity, Mahaprabhu also appeared there, giving him great pleasure. The three of them joyfully took prasad together. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.10)
When Mahaprabhu wanted to go to Vrindavan, Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya used all the means at their disposal to make him stay in Puri. On the third caturmasya after his departure from Nabadwip, all the Bengali devotees came to Puri with their wives to see him. After the Gundicha temple cleansing and the Rathayatra, the devotees returned home. As they were leaving, the devotees from Kulina village asked Mahaprabhu to describe the characteristics of a devotee. Mahaprabhu then described the differences between a Vaishnava, a more advanced Vaishnava and the most advanced Vaishnava.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.16.69-75)
When Mahaprabhu showed even more determination to go to Vrindavan, the devotees finally gave him permission to leave after Vijaya-dashami. King Prataparudra gave a great deal of help to smooth his journey. When he crossed the Citrotpala River, Raya Ramananda, Mardaraja, Harichandana continued on in his company. Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami was unable to tolerate the idea of separation from the lord and also wished to remain with him, but Mahaprabhu reminded him of his vow to remain in Jagannath Puri and forbad him to go to Vraja. Gadadhara said to him, “Jagannath Puri is wherever you are. My vows to remain in Puri can go to hell.” Mahaprabhu again told him not to abandon his service to Gopinath. Gadadhara answered, “Seeing your lotus feet is worth a million services to Gopinath.”
When Mahaprabhu said, “If you abandon your duties to Gopinath, you will be at fault.”, Gadadhara answered that he was willing to take that responsibility, but he would not disturb Mahaprabhu by following alongside him, he would go alone to Bengal to see Sachi Mata. Other than Mahaprabhu’s intimate associates, no one is able to understand the extent of Gadadhara Prabhu’s devotion to Gauranga. Love on the path of spontaneous devotion is not easy to comprehend. Gadadhara was ready to abandon his vows, his service, everything for the sake of Mahaprabhu.
When they all arrived at Cuttack, Mahaprabhu called Gadadhara and said, “Your decision to break your vows and leave your service has been made a reality. If you come with me, that will make you happy. But do you want your own happiness or mine? It will make me unhappy if your vows to remain in Puri and to serve Gopinath are broken. If you want my happiness, return to Puri and take up your vows again. That is all I have to say.”
When he heard Mahaprabhu’s words, Gadadhara fell to the ground in a faint. Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya comforted him on Mahaprabhu’s order and then accompanied him back to Puri.
Due to her amiable simplicity, Krishna’s wife Rukmini was not always able to understand his joking words and would become frightened. Like her, Gadadhara was also unable to always understand Mahaprabhu’s witticisms or his feigned indifference, all of which would disturb him. Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami was by nature simple and affectionate. On one occasion, Vallabha Bhatta came to see Mahaprabhu and the two were engaged in jocular conversation. When Mahaprabhu saw that Vallabha Bhatta was proud of his scholarship, he became somewhat distant from him and started to find flaws in everything that he said.
Vallabha responded to Mahaprabhu’s indifference by starting to visit Gadadhara and making a show of attachment to him. Mahaprabhu did not particularly care for Gadadhara’s relation with Vallabha and began to demonstrate a certain coolness toward him also. This behavior made Gadadhara fear that Mahaprabhu would ostracize him and so he came and fell at his feet and started to cry. Mahaprabhu laughed and embraced Gadadhara. He said,
”I wanted to agitate you, but you did not become agitated. You said nothing in anger, but patiently bore everything. Your mind was not disturbed by my tricks. By remaining fixed in your simple nature, you have purchased me.” No one can describe the character of Gadadhara’s ecstatic love. Thus, Mahaprabhu has been given the name Gadadhara-prananatha, “Gadadhara’s life and soul”. No one can describe the lord’s mercy toward Gadadhara; thus people sing their names together: Gadai-Gauranga.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.7.157-160)
Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami remained on this earth only eleven months after Mahaprabhu’s disappearance. In Bhakti-ratnakara, Narahari Chakravarti has described the terrible suffering of Gadadhara in Mahaprabhu’s separation. He remained alive only in order to be able to see Srinivas Acharya.
Repeating the name of Gaurasundara with his eyes closed, his sighs were as hot as flames. No one but the lord can know how Gadadhara Pandit suffered in the absence of Gauranga. His motionless body remained alive only so that he could bestow his mercy on Srinivas Acharya.
Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami disappeared at Puri on the dark moon day of Jyestha in 1456 of the Shaka era (1535 AD).
[Excerpted from “Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]