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Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura

Appearing in 1638, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura (Hari Vallabha Dasa) came in the disciplic succession from Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura. Visvanatha took diksa from Sri Radha Ramana Cakravarti. Although married, Visvanatha was indifferent and soon renounced family life. He came to Vrindavana dhama and did Krishna bhajana at Radha-kunda.
He was known as "the crest jewel of the Vaisnavas" because of his pure devotion, scholarship, and realized perception of Radha Gokulananda's intimate conjugal pastimes. Gaudiya authorities say that Sri Rupa Goswami is vag-devavatara (an incarnation of the god of speech). And Gaudiya acaryas, especially among his direct disciples, believe that Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is an incarnation of Sri Rupa Goswami.

Among all Gaudiya Vaisnava acaryas only Visvanatha Cakravarti comes close to matching Srila Rupa Goswami's profound realizations on the Absolute Truth. Visvanatha Cakravarti's name itself implies his position. Visvanatha means "He who reveals the jewel of devotion to Visvanatha (Sri Krishna, the Lord of the universe)." Cakravarti means "he who expands the cakra (circle) of bhakti."
Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, "Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura was the protector, guardian, and acarya during the middle period (1600-1700) of the historical development of Gaudiya Vaisnavism." The growth of Gaudiya Vaisnavism began with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It was later rejuvenated by Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda, spread by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, and broadcast all over the world by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder Acarya of ISKCON.
During his stay in Vrindavana, Visvanatha worshiped Deities of Radha Gokulananda and Sri Giriraja. His Govardhana sila was first worshiped by Lord Caitanya, then Raghunatha Dasa Goswami, Krishna Dasa Kaviraja, Sri Mukunda Dasa, Srimati Krishna Priya Thakurani, and Visvanatha Cakravarti. Today this Giriraja Govardhana Deity resides in the Radha-Gokulananda temple in Vrindavana. Some claim the Govardhana sila is in "Bhagavat Nivas" in Ramana Reti near the ISKCON Krishna Balarama Mandir.
In a dream Lord Sri Krishna ordered Visvanatha to make commentaries on the Goswami's books. Immeditately, he started writing prolifically. Clouds would shield him from the sun whenever he sat to write. Once a torrential downpour flooded the area where Visvanatha was writing his Bhagavata commentaries. Miraculously, not a drop touched Visvanatha or his Bhagavata manuscript.
While compiling Mantrartha Dipika (explanation on Kama Gayatri), Visvanatha became perplexed. According to his exhaustive research which indicated twenty five, he couldn't substantiate why Krishna Dasa Kaviraja wrote in Caitanya-caritamrta that Kama Gayatri contains twenty-four and one-half syllables. And that these syllables correspond to the twenty-four and one-half moons present on Krishna's transcendental body.

In a dream Srimati Radhika instructed Visvanatha, "0 Visvanatha, Please don't lament anymore. What Krishna Dasa Kaviraja wrote is true. He is also My confidential maidservant. And he knows everything about My most secret innermost moods. This Kama Gayatri is the mantra for worshiping Me. Indeed, I can be known by the syllables of this mantra. Without My mercy, no one can learn anything about the mystery of this mantra."

"The solution to the half syllable is found in the book Var-nagama-bhasvadi. Seeing this book, Krishna Dasa Kaviraja wrote as he did, The letter ya which is followed by the letter vi as in the words kama devaya vidmahe is considered to be a half syllable. This falls on Krishna's forehead because His forehead is shaped like the halo of a half moon. All the other letters of the mantra are full syllables and therefore full moons. Now wake up, check that book, and compile this evidence for everyone's benefit."

Instantly awaking, Visvanatha cried out in ecstasy–"Hey Radhe! Hey Radhe! Hey Radhe!" Having Radharani's darsana infused Visvanatha Cakravarti's writing with divine sakti. He felt that he had been accepted as one of Srimati Radharani's confidential maidservants. His writings reflected this realization.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura wrote over forty Sanskrit books on the science of pure devotion to Radha-Giridhari. He also made the sweetest, most highly realized rasika tikas (commentaries) on Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, the works of Srila Rupa Goswami, Kavi Karnapura, and Narottama Dasa Thakura.

Sri Krishna Bhavanamrta, Madhurya kadambini, Vraja-riti cin-tamani, Camatkara Candrika, Svapna Vilasamrta, Sankalpa Kalpa Druma, and others. The life and teachings of Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada give happiness, inspiration, and transcendental wisdom to the entire Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. We sincerely pray that after thousands of births we will someday qualify to become a particle of dust under the shade of his lotus feet. Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada ki jai!

In Krishna lila he serves Srimati Radhika as Vinoda-manjari. His samadhi is in the Radha Gokulananda temple courtyard.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura – Bhajans

Gangeya Campeya
Anuraga Valli
Dana Nirvartana Kundastakam
Gokulananda Govinda Devastakam
Gopinatha Devastakam
Govinda Devastakam
Jagan Mohanastakam
Krsna Kundastakam
Lokanatha Prabhu Varastakam
Madana Gopaladevastakam
Mangala Aarti
Na Yoga Siddhir Na Mamastu
Narottama Prabhorastakam
Rupa Cintamani
Sacinandana Vijayastakam
Sriman Mahaprabhor Asta Kaliya Lila Smarana Mangala Stotram
Svapna Vilasamrtastakam
Svayam Bhagavattvastakam

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura – Biography

[The following article appeared in the monthly Bengali magazine "Gaudiya", 18th volume, number 18, dated 8 Pausha, Bengali year 1329 (1922 A.D.). The magazine was founded and edited by His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.]

The names of all the Vrajvasi Goswamis who were living during the time of Sri Mahaprabhu are very well known. Later, after their disappearance, the flow of pure devotion for the Lord took shelter of the three famous Prabhus – Srinivasa Acarya, Thakura Narottama, and Syamananda Parbhu and surged on with full force. In the disciplic succession coming from Thakura Narottama, Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura appeared in the fourth position.

The story of Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti is more or less know only among the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. They speak of the outstanding excellence of achievement demonstrated by Srila Cakravarti Thakura in his examination of the Srimad Bhagavat and the Bhagavad Gita, as well as his complete understanding of the opinions expressed by the Goswamis in their own books. Our Thakura is the protector, guardian and acarya of the middle period of Gaudiya Vaisnava dharma's historical developement.

Nowadays amongst the Vaisnavas, there is the following saying in relation to Cakravarti Thakura's three most famous books: "kirana bindu kana, e tin niye vaisnava pana"

"These three books, Ujjvala-Nilamani-Kirana, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindhu, and Bhagavatamrta-kana, are taken and used by the Vaisnavas as their wealth." In this connection, we also hear the following verse sung everywhere:

visvasya natha-ripo 'sau
bhakta-cakre varttitatvat
cakravarty akhyaya bhavat

"Because he has shown the visva-vasis (residents of the material universe) the path of bhakti, he is called 'Visvanatha'; and because he is situated amongst the cakra (circle) of devotees, he is called 'Cakravarti'."

Srila Cakravarti Thakura Defends Sri Narottama's True Position

Previously, Srila Narottama Thakura Mahasaya had achieved fame as Rasika-raja, or The King of those devotees who know how to relish the mellows of the topmost madhura-rasa. And he certainty is that. However, certain persons who are envious of Lord Hari who are loyal servants of that energy which completely surrounds the fallen souls with strict difficulties have dared to attempt to forcibly throw such a wonderful, true rasika as Narottama into their own well of material rasa. Needless to say, they have not been successful. Being unable to understand the purely spiritual activities of Sri Narottama Thakura, many prakrta-sahajiyas had given him the title "Sahajiya-kula-bhusana" (the ornament of the family of cheap imitators). Therefore, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura appeared in time to check the spread of this concocted sahajiya mentality, and to truly defend the factual spiritual rank of Srila Thakura Mahasaya.

Visvanatha's Family Lineage, Birth & Studies

Srila Visvanatha took birth in a family of brahmanas found in the Radha-desa area of Nadia District, West Bengal (Radha-sreniya-vipra-kula). According to some, he also used the pen name 'Hari-vallabha'. He had two older brothers named Ramabhadra and Raghunatha, and he stayed in Deva-grama during his childhood. Upon the completion of his studies in vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar), he moved to Saiyadabad-grama Murasidabad District, where he studied the bhakti-sastras (literature of devotion) in the home of his guru Sri Radha-ramana Cakravarti. This Radha-ramana was the disciple of Sri krishna-carana Cakravarti, who was in turn the disciple of Sri Ganga-narayana Cakravarti (one of the chief disciples of Thakura Narottama.) Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura later composed Sanskrit prayers describing this disciplic succession Sri Gurudevastika, Sri Parama-gurudevastika, Sri Pratapara-gurudevastika, and Sri Parama-parat-gurudevastika. All these stotrascan be found, along with many other compositions, in his book named Sri Stavamrta-lahari (Waves of Nectarean Prayers).

His Residence in Sri Vraja Mandal

By the mercy of his spiritual master, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarty Thakura lived in many different places within Vraja-dhama, and composed various transcendental literatures there. Most of these books are very difficult to find nowadays; however a few of them are well known, and are considered to be the supremely honorable wealth of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

Sometimes Srila Cakravarty Thakura lived at Sri Govardhana, sometimes on the bank of Sri Radha-kunda, sometimes at Sri Yavata and sometimes in Sri Vrindavana within the compound of Sri Gokulananda's temple. His movements here and there are made very clear by the statements found at the end of his books.

The Date of His Birth

In Attempting to ascertain the time of Cakravarty Thakura, we see that he states at the end of Sri krishna-Bhavanamrta that this book was completed on the full moon day of the month of Phalguna, 1607 Saka (1685 A.D.). This was the day commemorating the auspicious appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on the full moon in February-March. Additionally, in his commentary of the Srimad Bhagavatam named saratha-darsini, we see that this tika was written during the month of Magha, 1626 Saka (1704 A.D.). Therefore, estimating that his time of birth was approximately 1560 Saka (1638 A.D.), and determining his time of death as 1630 Saka (1708 A.D.), we can calculate that he was present in this world for 70 years.

His Disciplic Succession

Sri Ganga-narayana Cakravarti was a disciple of Srila Narottama Thakura Mahasaya, and a resident of Balucara Gambila (the place of Narottama's disappearance). By the Lords desire, he had no sons; however, he had one daughter named Visnu-priya. Srila Thakura Mahasaya also had a famous disciple known as Sri Rama-krishna Bhattacarya (a Barendra-sreniya-brahmana). The youngest son of this Bhattacarya was named Sri krishna-carana, who was accepted by Sri Ganga-narayana as his own son (since he had none of his own.) This krishna-carana is the parama-guru, or grand spiritual master of Srila Cakravarti Thakura. In Visvanatha's Bhagavatam commentary named Sarartha-darsini, at the beginning of the famous Rasa-pancadhyayi (five chapters describing Lord Sri krishna's rasa-lila dance), we find the following verse:

sri rama krishna ganga caran natva gurun uru premnah
srila narottama natha sri gauranga prabhum naumi

"Having bowed down while absorbed in the most exalted divine love at the feet of all my gurus in disciplic succession — Sri Radha-ramana Cakravarti, Sri krishna-carana Cakravarty, Sri Ganga-narayana Cakravarty, Sri Narottama Thakura and Sri Lokanath Goswami I now offer my respectful obeisances unto my Lord Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu."

We understand from this sloka that Sri Radha-ramana's abbreviated name is 'Sri Rama', and that Sri krishna-carans's abbreviated name is 'krishna'. The word 'natha' is understood to mean Sri Lokanatha Goswami.

Refuting the Faulty Conclusions of Rupa Kaviraja

Srinivasa Acarya's famous daughter, Srimati Hamalata Thakurani, rejected an envious disciple named Sri Rupa Kaviraja from the Viasnava society. This Rupa Kaviraja is counted amongst the sub-branch of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya known as atibadi. He spread his own concocted philosophy (counter to the Gaudiya tradition) that only a person in the renounced order of life is capable of acting as acarya. He claimed that it was not possible for a householder to become a spiritual master. Fully disregarding the vidhi-marga, or path of devotional rules and regulations, he also tried to preach a philosophical path of raga-marga, or spontaneous devotion, which was completely unregulated and undisciplined. He also preached that smarana (remembrance) was possible without the help of sravana and kirtana (hearing and chanting.) Thus, this Rupa Kaviraja propogated a path which was unfavorable to the path shown by the Goswamis. Therefore, Srila Cakravarti Thakura has refuted all these false conclusions in his sarartha-darshini commentary on the 3rd canto of Srimad bhagavatam. Actually, this refutation is a rendering of the truths outlined in Srila Jiva Goswami's Bhakti Sandarbha.

Refuting the Caste Goswamis

The later descendants of Sri Rupa Kaviraja, as well as the descendants of Sri Nityananda Prabhu's son Sri Virabhadra and the descendants of Sri Advaita Acarya's rejected sons all gave the title "Goswami" to their disciples, even if they are householders. In preaching his refutation of this bogus practice, Srila Cakravarti Thakura has stated, citing scriptural evidence, that such a title of "Goswami" is not at all improper for a befitting offspring of an acarya. However, it is highly improper to simply tack the word "Goswami" onto the ends of names of offspring who are born in unfit families, even though descendants of an acarya — especially when there is a motive of greed for increasing wealth and followers. For this reason, even one conducting the activities of an acarya should never use the title "Goswami". Srila Cakravarti Thakura maintains that such foolish persons, who are bereft of proper behavior — are so ignorant that they are not even fit to be seen.

The Gaudiya Sampradaya's Conquest at Jaipur

During the time of Srila Cakravarti Thakura, the offspring of acaryas were signing the title "Goswami" next to their own names, thereby displaying their foolish ignorance. Being envious of the Lord and averse to the scriptures, they were very proud to announce the name of their vamsa-parampara (family lineage). At that time, at Sri Govindadeva's temple at Gulta-grama (just outside Jaipur), the acaryas of the Sri Ramanuja-sampradaya issued a challenge against the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. The King of Jaipur consequently invited the most prominent Gaudiya Vaisnavas of Sri Vrindavana to attend. Knowing them to be followers of Srila Rupa Goswami, he called them to council with the followers of Sri Ramanuja. This happened in 1628 Saka (1706 A.D.), when Srila Cakravarti Thakura was very old (about 68 years). So he consulted his foremost student, Gaudiya Vaishnava Vedantacarya Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit-kula-mukta Sripada Baladeva Vidys-bhusana. Thereafter, Sri Vidya-bhusana left vrindavana to join the assembly in Jaipur, accompanied by his own student (and disciple of Srila Cakravarti Thakura), Sri krishnadeva Sarvabhauma.

The caste Goswamis had completely forgotten their own loyalty to the Sri Madhva-sampradaya. Being ignorant of the true facts of the disciplic succession, and being disrespectful to Vaisnava Vedanta, they had fallen into such a degraded condition that Sri Blaldeva Vidya-bhusna was onliged to write a separate commentary on the Vedanta-sutra, according to the philosophy of the Gaudiya sampradaya. This was done just to refute their false conclusions. Srila Cakravarti Thakura gave his full sanction and approval to this task of counteracting the challenge, which simultaneously resulted in allowing the Gaudiya Vaisnava parampara to continue preaching freely.

This event marks the second illustration of Srila Cakravarty Thakura's preaching of the Vaisnava dharma. Specifically, this is a brilliant example of his endeavor to reform the Vaisnava acaryas who happened to be born in impure brahmana families.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura wrote many, many books. The following is a list of as many books as is possible to locate:



1. Sri krishna-bhavamrta :
(Nectar-meditations on Sri krishna's Daily Sports) 1,347 Sanskrit verses in 20 chapters describing the eight periods of a day in the life of the Divine Couple and Their Friends.

2. Samkalpa Kalpa-druma :
(The Desire Tree of Resolute Determination) 104 Sanskrit verses of prayer to Sri Radhika for the attainment of specific services rendered to Her during the eight periods of the day in Goloka Vrindavana. Often published as a seperate book, this work is included in Sri Visvanatha's collection of prayers called Stavamrta-lahari.

3. Camatkara-candrika :
(A Moonbeam of Sheer Astonishment) 226 Sanskrit verses in four chapters of short stories depicting Sri krishna's mischievious pranks conducted in various disguises: 1) Meeting in the Box, 2) Meeting in the Disguise of Abhimanyu, 3) Meeting in the Disguise of a Female Doctor, 4) Meeting in the Disguise of a Female Singer.

4. Prema-samouta :
(The Jewel -box of Love) 141 Sanskrit verses narrating the story of krishna coming before Sri Radha in the disguise of a demigoddess, and Radhika's confidential confessions of the innermost core of Her selfless love for Him.

5. Vraja-riti-cintamani :
(The Touchstone of Life in Vraja) 234 Sanskrit verses in three chapters describing the holy flora, fauna, hills, lakes, groves, temples, and towns of the eternal realm of Vraja.

6. Gauranga-lilamrta :
(The Nectar of Sri Gauranga's Daily Pastimes) 11 Sanskrit verses depicting Sri Mahaprabhu's daily pastimes conducted in eight periods of the day; the descriptions of the pastimes in each verse are expanded by the extensive Bengali verses composed by Sri Visvanatha's direct disciple, the poet krishnadasa.

7. Caitanya-rasayana :
(The Necta-Tonic of Sri Caitanya) A work that was never finished; the story of it is mentioned in the 13th chapter of Sri Narottama Vilasa by Sri Narahari Cakravarti, the son of Visvanatha's disciple Jagannatha Vipra.

8. Raga-vartma-candrika :
(A Moonbeam Revealing the Path of Spontaneous Devotion) 22 Sanskrit paragraphs in two chapters of prose and verse which elaborate on the proper behavior and attitudes of one following the path of spontaneous devotional servive.

9. Madhurya-kadambini
(A Row of Clouds of Sweetness) 8 "showers of nectar" (chapters) of Sanskrit prose which scientifically analyzes the various stages of advancement that one ascends while on the devotional path.

10. Aisvarya-kadambini :
(A Row of Clouds of Majesty) A work mentioned by Visvanatha in the second chapter of his Madhurya-kadambibi. It is different from the work by Sri Baladeva Vidya-bhusana of the same name. The book by Visvanatha discusses the philosophy of "Dvaitadvaita-vada"; however no copy of this work has ever been found.

11. Ujjvala-nilamani-kirana :
(One Ray of Sri Rupa Goswami's Book, Ujjvala-nilamani) 16 paragraphs of Sanskrit prose, composed as a condensed smmary study of Srila Rupa Goswami's 1,453-verse work. It is an examination of the psychology of the Divine Couple's relationship with other and with Their girlfriends.

12. Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-bindhu :
(A Drop From the Nectar-Ocean of Devotion) 27 Sanskrit notes, composed as a summary of Srila Rupa Goswami's book Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, which outlines the process of devotional service.

13. Bhagavatamrta-kana :
(A Speck of Sri Rupa Goswami's Book, Laghu-bhagavatamrta) 15 Sanskrit notes that sum up the information presented in Sri Rupa's book, which describes Sri krishna's various incarnations and plenary portions.

14. Gaura-gana-svarupa-tattva-candrika :
(A Moonbeam Revealing the Truth of the Identity of Gaura's Associates) A book which follows the earlier work of Sri Kavi Karnapura called Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika. It similarly reveals the Vraja-lila identity of various descendants of the Gaudiya-sampradaya), but is updated to include many other personalities that appeared in the sampradaya after Kavi Karnapura's time.

15. Rupa-cintamani :
(The Touchstone of Gauranga's Bodily Beauty) Sanskrit verses describing the exact locations of the sacred marks found on Lord Caitanya's palms and soles, including those of Sri Nityananda and Sri Advaita. Visvanatha composed another work also called Rupa-cintamani that describes the head-to-toe beauty of Sri Sri Radha-krishna, as well as the marks on the soles of Their lotus feet; this work is included in his collection called Stavamrta-lahari.

16. Ksanada-gita-cintamani :
(The Touchstone of Songs to be Sung at Night) This is the first anthology of devotional songs written by Gaudiya Vaisnava poetsin the Bengali, Sanskrit and Braja-bhuli languages. Visvanatha compiled the writings of 45 authors totalling 309 songs, among which are 51 of his own songs, signed with his other pen name Hari-vallabha. The songs are divided up into groups that are to be sung each night of the month; thus there are 30 divisions — 15 for the dark fortnight and 15 for the light fortnight.

17. Mantrartha-dipika :
(A Torchlamp Illuminating the Kama-Gayatri Mantra) 18 Sanskrit notes in prose and verse which give detailed explanations of each and every syllable of kama-bija and kama-gayatri mantras. There is also a description of a doubt that Visvanatha had regarding the syllables of the mantra, and how Sri Radhika Herself appeared to him in a dream in order to solve the problem.

18. Stavamrta-lahari :
(Wave After Wave of Nectarean Prayers) A collection of 28 Sanskrit prayers, astakams, meditations and glorifications.


1. on Srimad-bhagavatam, named Sarartha-darsisn (She Who Reveals the Inner, Essential Purports)
2. on Bhagavad-gita, named Sarartha-varsini (She Who Showers Forth the Hidden Meanings)
3. on Sri Rupa's Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, named Bhakti-sara-pradarsini (She Who Demonstrates the Cream-like Essence of Devotion)
4. on Sri Rupa's Ujjvala-nilamani, named Ananda-candrika (Moonbeams of Pure Bliss)
5. on Sri Rupa's Lalita-madhava-nataka
6. on Sri Rupa's Vidagha-madhava-nataka
7. on Sri Rupa's Dana-keli-kaumudi, named Mahati (She Who Is Glorious)
8. on Sri Rupa's Hamsa-duta
9. on Kavikarnapura's Alankara-kaustubha, named Subhodini (She Who Informs Very Nicely)
10. on Kavi Karnapura's Ananda-vrindavana-campu, named Sukha-varttini (She Who Establishes One in Happiness)
11. on krishnadasa Kaviraja's Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, which is said to be incomplete.
12. on Narottama dasa Thakur's Prema-bhakti-candrika
13. on Sri Brahma-samhita
14. on Gopala-tapani-upanisad, named Bhakta-harsini (She Who Gives Great Joy to the Devotees)

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura – Biography

The biography of Visvanatha has been translated from the following Bengali publications: Mihir Caudhuri Kamilya, Narahari Cakravarti: Jivani O Racanavali (Life and works of Narahari Cakravarti) Vol. 1: Biography and collected works. Burdwan, University of Burdwan, 1981, pp. 1-15

Narahari Cakravarti writes as follows in Bhaktiratnakara (Pathavadi ms. no. 2341-24, p. 154 ka, "My father, Vipra Jagnnatha, was a disciple of the famous Visvanatha Cakravarti." Visvanatha stands as a remarkable example of Bengali intellect. His place in the Vaisnava world remains unsurpassed as far as erudition, theological knowledge, poetic talent and appreciation of rasa. He was worshiped by his contemporaries as an example of unblemished ascetic life and an ideal follower of Ragamarga.

Scholars differ in their views regarding Visvanatha's period. According to Syamalala Goswami it was 1626-1708 A.D. (quoted in the book Caitanyottara Yugera Gaudiya Vaisnava p. 98). Murarilal Adhikari writes in Vaisnava Digdarsani that the period was 1646-1754. Madhusudana Tattvavacaspati guesses that Visvanatha was born around 1633-1638 A.D. (1555-60 Saka) and disappeared around Saka 1625-30 (Sri krishna Bhavanamrta, introduction p. 4, published in Bhaktiprabha 1335). Both Nikhilnath Roy and Bimanbihari Majumdar hold that Visvanatha was born toward the early part of the 17th century Saka (see Mursidavadera Itihasa p. 308). In Gaurapadatarangini 1st ed. 1310, p. 183, Jagadbandhu Bhadra argues that in 1664 A.D. (Saka 1586) Visvanatha was born. However proper evidence in support of the above arguments is lacking.

Visvanatha completed Sararthadarsini in 1704 A.D. (1626 Saka), which he himself states at the conclusion of the book. Thus he must have been alive around 1704 A.D. According to Sukumar Sen, Visvanatha disappeared shortly after 1704 A.D. (see Vangala Sahityera Itihasa Vol. 1, Part 2, 2nd ed., 1965, p. 393)

Visvanatha was born at Devagrama (see ms. of Narottamavilasa at Pathavadi no. 2336 (21), p. 31 kha). Some believe that this village belongs to Kasiganj police station of the Nadia district (Gaurapadatarangini, introduction p. 183; Vaisnava Digdarsani p. 120; Jivanikosa by Sasibhusana Vidyalankar, Vol. 5, p. 1773; Nadia: Svadhinata Rajatajayanti Smarakagrantha, krishnagore 1973, p. 25). Others argue that Devagrama falls under Sagaradihi police station of the Mursidabad district (see 'Padakarta Harivallabha' by Harekrishna Mukhopadhyay in Ananda Bajara Patrika special Puja no. 1369, p. 276).

None of the old mss. record the names of Visvanatha's parents. Pathavadi mss. of 'Narottamavilasa" state that Visvanatha's father's name was Ramanarayana Cakravarti. Visvanatha was the youngest child in the family. His eldest brother was Ramabhadra and the next oldest was Raghunatha. Ramabhadra was an accomplished theologian and a disciple of Gopikanta. This Gopikanta was the son of Hariramacarya, the disciple of Ramacandra Kaviraja who belonged to the spiritual lineage of Srinivasa. The second brother, Raghunatha, was also a great scholar (mss. of 'Narottamavilasa' of Pathavadi no. 2336.21, p. 31 kha).

Visvanatha's family was brahmana by caste from the Radha clan, Sandilya gotra, and lineage drawn from Bhattanarayana (see Vaisnavacarya Visvanatha by Nanigopala Goswami in Bharatavarsa 1351).

In the said mss. of 'Narottamavilasa' p. 31 kha, an account is given relating to Visvanatha's birth. It is said that as soon as Visvanatha was delivered a strange halo of light appeared around his body. That light illuminated the entire delivery-room and then disappeared. This account seems to be an interpolation at a later date. Once a highly renowned scholar visited Devagrama and the local pandita's became unnerved upon meeting him. But Visvanatha, a mere adolescent, defeated this scholar in argument.

As a child Visvanatha completed his studies at Devagrama and thereafter went to Saidavad. Some say that Visvanatha was educated under Ganganarayana Cakravarti of Saidavad (Premavilasa J.N. Talukdar ed. pp. 206-7), while others argue that Ganganarayana's adopted son krishnacarana actually taught Visvanatha (H.K. Mukhopadhyaya 'Padakarta Harivallabha'). No evidence in support of these views has yet been found.

Radharamana was the name of Visvanatha's diksa guru. Visvanatha himself writes about his spiritual lineage in one sloka of Sararthadarini. In chapters 2-7 of Stavamrtalahari Narahari also gives details on the spiritual lineage or guru-pranali of Visvanatha as follows:

Lord Gauranga
Radharamana (alias Sri Rama)
(son & disciple)

Visvanatha's guru and parama-guru belonged to the spiritual lineage of Narottama Thakura.

From his childhood Visvanatha was of a detached temperament. At the command of his father, Visvanatha's brother Ramabhadra arranged for Visvanatha's marriage at an early age. However, through studying Srimad Bhagavatam Visvanatha developed a deep spirit of renunciation. After completing his studies he took spiritual initiation and gradually developed an intense love for krishna. Finally, one day, he renounced home, took the vow of a renunciate and went to vrindavana. After visiting several holy places Visvanatha finally sought the shelter of Mukundadasa, a disciple of krishnadasa Kaviraja on the bank of the Radhakunda. The devotees present there urged this young renunciate to return home, which Visvanatha had to abide by (mss. Narottamavilasa pp. 31-32 ka).

Possibly this was the time when Visvanatha went to Patadanja where he is said to have realized his spiritual goal. Visvanatha installed the deity of Gopala (Harekrishna Mukhopadhyaya p. 276)

At the command of his guru, Visvanatha went home for one night to meet his wife. His wife, however, heard nothing other than krishna katha from her husband throughout the night (see mss. Narottamavilasa p. 32 ka). Early the next morning Visvanatha left home and took shelter of his guru. As directed by his guru, Visvanatha began copying Srimad Bhagavatam.

Visvanatha settled on the bank of the Radhakunda in vrindavana. Regarding his spiritual practices Narahari writes as follows, "Being deeply immersed in singing kirtana of the Lord, Visvanatha narrated the pastimes of the Lord in a most fascinating manner. No one is competent enough to speak of his spiritual practices. Anyone who had the good fortune to set his eyes upon Visvanatha felt immediately soothed from the pangs of material existence. Visvanatha served the deity of Sri Gokulananda with great pleasure and devotion."

When Visvanatha arrived in vrindavana he noticed that with the disappearance of the six Goswamis the beauty of that holy place was no longer visible. A large number of Mathas had been destroyed by the Muslims. Priests migrated from vrindavana taking away the deities which were in their charge. A number of deities were left standing alone and received no service. And the devotees were in a state of constant fear. People in general were in no mood to devote attention to the study of the scriptures (see Madhurya Kadambini introduction, p. 4, by Satyendranatha Vasu).

During his stay in vrindavana many loyal workers and scholars such as Baladeva Vidyabhusana were deeply impressed upon seeing Visvanatha's devotion, strength of mind and hard working nature. Visvanatha became determined to bring back the lost glory of vrindavana. The following are some of his achievements.

1. Visvanatha himself installed the Deity of Gokulananda and took charge of serving Govardhana sila. He reinstated different priests to begin the service of the Deities in various places.

2. It was through his initiative that the Sri Vardhana Matha of Kongala and some new Mathas at several other places were set up (Visvakosa V. 19, p. 42). Visvanatha also arranged to renovate a large number of temples.

3. At that time there was little access by the common people to the works of the Goswamis. This was due to the fact that there were no proper analysis and interpretation of these theological treatises. What Visvanatha did was to prepare simple and lucid commentaries for these works, as well as presenting abridged forms of the original works. This enabled devotees of all types to understand and appreciate the essence of the Goswamis' works. Visvanatha also arranged for the wide distribution of books which Vaisnavas needed for daily study and spiritual practices. He also organized classes to be held on them to impart instructions.

Visvanatha was one of the most accomplished preachers of madhurya-bhava in ragamarga. Regarding sadhana (spiritual achievements), Visvanatha's name is placed after Raghunatha dasa Goswami, krishnadasa Kaviraja and Narottama Thakura (CC Sukumar Sen ed. 1.4. p.13).

Visvanatha was an out and out parakiya-vadi. Both in prakata and aprakata lila Visvanatha considered Sri Radha and the gopis as the parakiya heroines of Lord krishna. Visvanatha had deep faith in the astakaliya nitya-lila described by Kavi Karnapura and krishnadasa Kaviraja (Padavaliparicaya 2nd ed. pp. 86-87). Apart from practicing smarana (remembrance), manana (contemplation) and sankirtana, Visvanatha remained deeply absorbed in the service of Radha krishna with loyalty to the Vrajavasis. Due to his own success in practice and realization, Visvanatha was able to write beautifully describing the proper method for astakaliya nitya-lila, a unique analysis of ragamarga sadhana, detailed descriptions of Radha krishna lila, details on the sadhana practiced by sakhi-manjari or kinkari, the mystic significance of bhajan and the method of bhajan.

Another remarkable achievement of Visvanatha's was to establish Gaudiya Vaisnavism and its theology through Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Visvanatha's close follower, at the meeting of Vaisnavas held at Galta, Jaipur in 1718 A.D. (Saka 1640) (see CC introduction 4th ed. p. 396, also Baladeva Siddhantaratna, Gopinatha Kaviraja ed., introduction).

As a youth in Saidavad Visvanatha set up a Sanskrit school and accepted a teaching career. In order to help the students to learn easily Visvanatha wrote a simplified commentary titled 'Suvodhini' on Kavi Karnapura's Alamkara Kaustubha. This is said to be Visvanatha's first literary work. Upon his arrival in vrindavana, Visvanatha sought the refuge of Mukundadasa. This Mukunda dasa was a poet and disciple of krishnadasa Kaviraja. Mukunda dasa had some books to be completed. Noting Visvanatha's devotion and erudition, he thus requested Visvanatha to complete those books. Pathavadi mss. Narottamavilasa p. 32 ka, refers to this but does not give the names of the works.

In vrindavana Visvanatha's literary talent blossomed and beautiful compositions began to flow like many streams of nectar. His complete works can be classified under four groups:

1. Commentary works (Tika Grantha):

At that time most of the manuals and other books which Vaisnavas needed to consult daily were full of difficult theological concepts mostly written in Sanskrit. This made it difficult for the lay-devotee to study and understand the proper conclusions. To remove these obstacles Visvanatha wrote simple Sanskrit commentaries on many of the Goswamis' works. Titles of such commentaries are as follows:

    1. Sararthadarsini (1704 A.D.) – tika on Srimad Bhagavatam
    2. Sararthavarsini – tika on Bhagavad-gita
    3. Sri Caitanya-caritamrtera tika (the first commentary in Sanskrit on a Bengali book)
    4. Brahmasamhitara tika
    5. Anandacandrika – tika on Ujjvala-nilamani of Rupa Goswami
    6. Bhakti-sara-pradarsani – tika on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu of Rupa Goswami
    7. Prema-bhakti-candrika-kirana – a Sanskrit tika on Narottama's Prema-bhakti-candrika
    8. Sukhavartini – a tika on Kavi Karnapura's Ananda-vrindavana-campu
    9. Mahati – tika on Danakeli Kaumudi of Rupa Goswami
    10. Bhakta-harsini – tika on Gopalatapani
    11. Hamsaduta tika – tika on Rupa Goswami's Hamsadutam
    12. Tika on Rupa Goswami's Vidagdha-madhava
    13. Lalita-madhavera tika

Some scholars argue that the tika on Lalita-madhava and Vidagdha-madhava were not works of Visvanatha. They say that krishnadeva Sarvabhauma, a disciple of Visvanatha, was the writer of the Vidagdha-madhava tika, while Radhakrishna dasa, a disciple of Jiva Goswami wrote the tika of Lalita-madhava (see Haridasa dasa Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana, p. 1751-52, 1745)

2. Abridged Works:

Visvanatha felt that many of the Vaisnava works were difficult for the lay-devotee to grasp. He therefore extracted the most relevant information and presented an abridged form of various selected books. Three of these are works of Rupa Goswami as shown below:

    1. Kirana i.e Ujjvala-nilamani-kirana on Ujjvala-nilamani
    2. Vindu i.e Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu-vindu on Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu
    3. Kana i.e. Bhagavatamrta-kana on Laghu-bhagavatamrta

3. Original Works:

Visvanatha's thoughts had originality and depth. He was gifted with the talent of communicating deep philosophical concepts in a simple way, while keeping the unique characteristics of Radha krishna lila in tact. Most of his original works relate to sadhana-bhajan as follows:

    1. Sri krishna-bhavanamrta (1679 A.D.): describes astakaliya nitya-lila of Radha krishna
    2. Ragavartmacandrika: a guide to and an account of raganuga bhakti and its methods
    3. Madhurya-kadambini: reveals the subtle concepts on rupa and madhurya of Lord krishna
    4. Aisvarya Kadambini: a scriptural account of Lord krishna's aisvarya (opulence)
    5. Camatkara-candraka: mystic sports of Radha krishna
    6. Gopipremamrta: reveals the love of the gopis and concepts regarding svakiya and parakiya
    7. Mantrartha-dipika: explanation of kamabija and kamagayatri mantras
    8. Vraja-riti-cintamani: describes the sites of Lord krishna's Vraja-lila
    9. Prema-samputa (1684 A.D.): describes madhurya of Radha
    10. Sankalpa-kalpadruma (1678 A.D.): describes prayers to Sri Radha to grant sevavrtti
    11. Nikunja-keli-virudavali (1678 A.D.): describes the sports of Radha krishna in the kunja
    12. Surata-kathamrta (1678 A.D.): description of the pastimes of Radha krishna in the quiet of midnight.

Some other works by Visvanatha are written like hymns. These reveal Visvanatha's genuine devotion and reverence for his superiors, cherished Deities, and the holy places of Lord krishna's pastimes. The following is a list of these works:

    1. Sriman Mahaprabhorastakaliya Smaranamangalastotram: A guide book describing Lord Gauranga's astakaliya lila.
    2. Sri Gauranganoddesa-candrika: A brief account on the close associates of Lord Gauranga (a similar manuscript of Visvanatha's dealing with the associates of Lord Gauranga is available in the collection of Barahanagar Sri Gauranga Granthamandir the title of the said mss. is Gauraganasvarupa-tattvacandrika, no.230 B 17)
    3. Stavamrta-lahari: This is one of the best works of hymns. It consists of a total of 28 hymns which deal with the guru, the poet's own guru, paramaguru, paratparaguru, Narottama, Lokanatha, Sri Caitanya, Vaisnava acaryas, etc. Then invocation of the mercy of the famous Deities Gopaladeva, Madanagopala, Govindadeva, Gopinatha, Gokulananda and Lord krishna; invocation of the grace of Radha and Vrnda devi; hymns in praise of various lila sites such as vrindavana, Nandisvara, krishnakunda, etc.
    4. Padavali Samkalam (compilation of Vaisnava poems)
    5. Ksanada-gita-cintamani (known briefly as 'Ksanada' or 'Gitacintamani').
    [Ksanada-gita-cintamani mss. Pathavadi no. 2615 (24 ga), 2613 (24 ka), oldest edition 1282 (1875 A.D.). See Vangala Sahityera Itihasa V. 1, Pt. 1, p. 393]

    2nd edition 1315 vrindavana Kesighat (krishnapada dasa Babaji)
    3rd edition (?) Nitaipada Dasa
    4th edition (1332) Nityasvarupa Brahmacari, Calcutta
    5th edition (1369) Bimanabihari Majumdar, General Library

While compiling this Ksanada-gita-cintamani containing selected Vaisnava poems Visvanatha had in mind that devotees of raganuga marga may every night perform or listen to nama-guna etc. of their cherished Deities.

Earlier some attempts were made to prepare compilations of Vaisnava poems to some extent by Ramagopala dasa of Srikhanda in his 'Sri Sri Radhakrishnarasa-kalpavalli', by his son Pitamvaradasa in 'Rasamanjari' and Mukundadasa, a disciple of krishnadasa Kaviraja in 'Siddhantacandrodaya'. However it was Visvanatha who first prepared this first compilation. In fact Ksanada is considered "the first perfect Padavali compilation" (Vangala Sahityera Itihasa V. 1, Pt. 2, 2nd ed., p. 102 b 393). The first part of Ksanada is available, but it is thought that Visvanatha disappeared before the later part was completed. Dr. Sukumar Sen argues that this compilation was done before 1704 A.D. (see Gaudiya Vaisnava Sadhana by Harekrishna Mukhopadhyay, 1st ed. p. 136). In this book Visvanatha used the bhanita of 'Harivallabha' or 'Vallabha' on those poems composed by him.

Recently the second part of Ksanada, compiled by Manohara dasa, was found and published (Ksanada-gita-cintamani: Manoharadasa, published by Radhakrishna dasa, Kusumsarovar, P.O. Radhakunda, Mathura). This mss. contains the first to the seventeenth section of Ksanada. It was available from Advaitacarana Goswami, the priest of Radharamana of vrindavana. Haridasa dasa gives information in Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana Vol. 3, p. 1484 that a similar manuscript is available in the collection of Nimbarka sampradaya.

Bimanbihari Majumdar argues as follows: "Since Visvanatha compiled Vaisnava poems for the Bengalis to enjoy he titled them 'Purva Vibhaga' (eastern section) and his contemporary, Manohara dasa, the writer of Anuragavalli, compiled for the readers of western India and hence titled it 'Pascima Vibhaga' (western section)."

In the second compilation there are twenty one poems of Manohara dasa, along with those of Haridasa swami etc. Several of Manoharadasa's poems deal with Lord Gauranga. This compilation consists of Hindi poems. In the 'Pascima Vibhaga' there are six Hindi poems written by Visvanatha, who gave the bhanitas of Harivallabha or Vallabha.

The Purva Vibhaga of Visvanatha consists of a total of thirty Ksanada or themes. These themes are fitted each for thirty nights from the first night of the dark fortnight of one lunar month till the day of the new moon and from the first day of the bright fortnight till the night of the full moon. Varying in size, eight have small and sixteen have big padas. A total of 308 pada are found in Purva Vibhaga containing the bhanita of 48 known and unknown poets (of these the compiler has 53 padas – 40 with the bhanita of Harivallabha and 13 with the bhanita of Vallabha). Some hold that Harivallabha was the name of Visvanatha's guru. Some argue that Harivallabha was the sannyasa name of Visvanatha. However neither of these ideas is supported by evidence. In 'Gitavali' part of the book Stavamrta-lahari of Visvanatha, out of eleven Sanskrit padas two have bhanita of Harivallabha and four have the bhanita of Vallabha.

In 'Mantrartha-dipika' Sri Radha addresses Visvanatha in a state of dream as Harivallabha. Narahari, the son of Visvanatha's disciple, clearly writes that Harivallabha was the name of Visvanatha.

Each Ksanada or section is arranged in such a manner as it could be sung for one night. First there is Gaura Vandana, then follows Nityananda Vandana and concludes with poems of milana (comedy) or sambhaga. In between there are poems/lyrics dealing with abhisara, or aksepanuraga and rasa. All these compositions relate to madhurya rasa. None of these deal with sakhya, vatsalya or even themes relating to Mathura.

This compilation was made with a view to serving aspirants with manjari-bhava eager to enjoy Vrajarasa. Though Visvanatha was a highly imaginative poet he was a perfect erudite too. He never liked to compose poems in a simple, unadorned manner. Sanskrit expression, rhetorically rich language, chiming words and waves of rhythm enriched his poems which were equally rich with fascinating themes and deep rasa.

Visvanatha had an extraordinary command of Vrajvuli, Hindi and Sanskrit. In all three languages Visvanatha composed a total of seventy padas of which the ones in Sanskrit are the best.

It seems that Visvanatha's poems were not appreciated by his contemporaries. Hence in later compilation not many of Visvanatha's poems are found. In Padamrtasamudra of Radhamohana Thakura, almost a contemporary of Visvanatha, there was not any pada of Visvanatha's. The reason for this was that Radhamohana compiled the poems in Bengal while Visvanatha was in vrindavana. Neither can any pada of Visvanatha's be found in Sankirtanamrta, a compilation by Dinabandhu dasa belonging to a bit later period.

Among other compilations of padas there are five padas of Visvanatha's in the total 1169 pada in Gitacandrodaya compiled by Narahari Cakravarti, one pada of Visvanatha's out of a total of 1119 pada compiled in Kirtanananda of Gaurasundara dasa, and three pada of Visvanatha's out of 3101 total pada compiled in Vaisnava dasa's Padakalpataru.

When critically evaluated as poetry Visvanatha's works do not rank in the first category although critics have praised most of his padas (see introduction by Bimanbihari Majumdar ed. Ksanadagitacintamani).

Judged from the standpoint of the preceding Vaisnava acaryas and the quality of rasa, Visvanatha undoubtedly contributed immensely in leading Gaudiya Vaisnavism and sadhana bhakti forward. Most of the difficult treatises of Rupa Goswami were presented by Visvanatha to devotees sometimes by adding simple commentaries and sometimes by preparing abridged editions. Devotees hailed Visvanatha as 'the second svarupa of Rupa' or as 'avatara of Rupa'.

Among the devotees of Visvanatha nothing much is known about others except krishnadasa (see mss. N. Vilasa p. 33 kha), Kanudasa, Nandakisora (see Rasakalika ed. Haridasa dasa, p. 82, p. 154). Some think that krishnadeva Sarvabhauma was a disciple of Visvanatha. Baladeva Vidyabhusana, a disciple of Radhadamodara, revered Visvanatha deeply as his guru.

Visvanatha stands as a remarkable outcome of Bengali intellect in 17th-18th century as poet, musician, thinker, theologian, scholar and above all a devotee and preacher.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura – Biography

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura took birth approximately in the year 1586 Sakabda, within the district of Nadia in the village of Deva-gram. His parents were Rarhi Sreni (?) brahmanas. He also had two brothers named Rambhadra and Raghunatha.

His initiating guru was Sriyuta krishnacarana Cakravarti of Saiya-dabad, Murshidabad, who was fourth in the line from Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, Sri Cakravarti Thakura resided with his guru for many years and composed many books during that time. In the last verse of Alankara-kaustubha he has written:

saidabadnivasi sri visvanatha sarmmana
cakravatiti namneyam krta tika subodhini

His studies of grammar, poetry and rhetoric were completed while he still lived at Nadia. There is a story that he defeated one conquering pandit while he himself was still only a student. From his childhood he was completely indifferent to household life. In order to keep him at home, his father had him married at a very young age. However, he finally renounced family life and came to live at Sri Vrindavana. His family members tried to bring him back but were unsuccessful.

Sri Cakravarti Thakura took up residence with Sri Mukunda das, who lived in krishna dasa Kaviraja Goswami's bhajana kutir at Radha-kunda. There he very  intently studied the books and letters of the Goswamis and composed many commentaries on their writings.

He used to worship a Deity named Golokananda. Another name of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura was Sri Harivallabha dasa.

He composed the following books: Srimad-bhagavata-sarartha- darsini-tika, Srimad-Bhagavad-gita-savartha-varsini-tika, Alankara-kaustubha-subodhini-tika, Ananda-Vrindavana-sukhvarthini tika, Vidagdha-madhava-nataker-tika, Sri-krishna-bhavanamrta-maha- kavya, Swapna-vilasamrta-kavya, Madhurya-kadambini, Aiswarya- kadambini; Stavamrta-lahiri, Camatkara-candrika, Gauranga- lilamrta, Ujjvala-nilamani-tika, Gopala-tapani-tika, Sri -Caitan-ya-candramrta-tika, Ksanda-gita-cintamani. (There's more, too: Ragavartma-candrika, Stavamrta-lahari, Smarana-mangala, etc).

His disappearance is on the Vasanta-pancami in the month of Magha.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura – Biography

vishvasya natha-rupo’sau bhakti-vartma-pradarshanat
bhakta-cakre vartitatvat cakravarty-akhyayabhavat

Because he revealed the path of devotion, he is considered to be identical with the Lord of the Universe, Vishvanath; and because he was predominant in the circle of Vaishnavas, he held the title Chakravarti.

Vishvanath’s Birth and Disciplic Succession

Vishvanath took birth in a family of Rarihiya Brahmins in the village of Devagrama in Nadia district in about 1560 of the Shaka era (1638 AD). Some others suggest 1576 (1656) as his year of birth. The Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana identifies his father as Rama Narayan Chakravarti. His mother’s name is unknown. He had two older brothers, Ramabhadra and Raghunath. His spiritual master was Radharamana Chakravarti, disciple of Krishnacarana Chakravarti. Krishnacarana Chakravarti was a disciple and, according to some, adopted son of Ganga Narayan Chakravarti. Vishvanath has summarized his guru-parampara at the beginning of the Rasa-païcadhyaya section of his Sarartha-darshini commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam.

shri-rama-krishna-ganga-caranan natva gurun uru-premnah
shrila-narottama-natha-shrigauranga-prabhum naumi

In this verse, Radharamana Chakravarti’s name is abbreviated as Rama, Krishnacarana’s name as Krishna, and Ganga Narayan’s name as Ganga. The word natha refers to Lokanatha Goswami, whose guru was Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Thus the entire disciplic succession of Vishvanath has been given in this one single verse.

Vishvanath’s Studies and Writings

After completing his studies of grammar in Devagrama, Vishvanath went to Saiyadabad in the Murshidabad district to study devotional scriptures from his guru. According to the Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana, Vishvanath was married. Although he was married according to the rites, he never showed the slightest attachment for family life. It is said that he taught his wife the Bhagavat, giving her a taste for its nectar, and instructed her to devote herself to the worship of the Lord before he left home.

Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakur followed the example of Sri Rupa and went to live in Vrindavan where he could dedicate himself to the devotional life. As a result of his commitment to following the orders of his spiritual master, he received many blessings from him. These blessings took shape in his good fortune to be able to live in various spots in Vraja-dham and write a great number of books on Gaudiya Vaishnava subjects, which are considered to be a great treasure by those in the sampradaya. All his books and his commentaries on the Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavat are written in a Sanskrit which is clear and simple, but at the same time full of the nectar of devotion.

In the edition of the Bhagavad-gita published by the Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, the following points are raised under the heading, “A description of the commentary”: “In Gaudiya Vaishnava history, Vishvanath was the guardian and chief teacher of the middle period. Amongst Vaishnavas of our day, a saying has been preserved about three of his works: kirana-bindu-kana, ei tin niye vaishnava-pana — Vishvanath’s resumes of Rupa Goswami’s Ujjvala-nilamani (Ujjvala-nilamani-kirana), Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu-bindu), and Laghu-bhagavatamrita (Bhagavatamrita-kana) are the source of transcendental joy for the Vaishnavas; studying them makes one a Vaishnava. After the disappearance of Mahaprabhu’s Vrindavan associates, Srinivas, Narottama and Shyamananda preserved the traditions and expanded the movement in Bengal. Vishvanath is the fourth descendant in the disciplic line from Narottama Das. Few acharyas of the Gaudiya Vaishnava school have been as productive as Vishvanath. Besides writing this large corpus of books, Vishvanath also made two other major contributions, both of which are related to preaching and kirtan.”

Rupa Kaviraj was excommunicated from Vaishnava society. He was the founder of an apasampradaya which taught that only renunciates were eligible to act as acharya, all householders are disqualified. He preached a distorted doctrine of raganuga bhakti which completely negates the value of vidhi-marga, minimizing the importance of hearing and chanting. To the benefit of the general public, Vishvanath has argued against this doctrine in the Sarartha-darshini commentary on the Third Canto of the Bhagavat. Rupa Kaviraj holds that no householder can take the Goswami title. Vishvanath counters this proposition by stating, on the basis of scripture, that any member of a dynasty of gurus who has the proper qualifications is entitled to be called a Goswami, i.e., he can do the work of a guru or acharya. However, to call one’s unworthy children Goswamis simply for the purpose of accumulating wealth and disciples is opposed to the scriptural conclusions and is to be considered unlawful, even if born in a family with a tradition of acting as gurus.

Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakur wrote Bengali songs under the pen-name of Harivallabha Das. Some people say that this name was given to him when he took the vairagi vesha. In all respects, Vishvanath is worthy of superlatives, whether in his expertise in philosophical discourse, his knowledge of the Vaishnava scriptures, or his poetic talent.

The following is a list of the books written by Vishvanath:

(1) Vraja-riti-cintamani

(2) Camatkara-candrika

(3) Prema-samputa

(4) Gitavali

(5) Subodhini commentary to Alankara-kaustubha

(6) Ananda-candrika commentary to Ujjvala-nilamani

(7) a commentary on Gopal-tapani Upanishad

(8) Shri-Krishna-bhavanamrita a maha-kavya

(9) Shri-Bhagavatamrita-kana

(10) Ujjvala-nilamani-kirana-lesha

(11) Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu-bindu

(12) Ragavartma-candrika

(13) Aishvarya-kadambini which appears to have been lost

(14) Madhurya-kadambini

(15) Bhakti-sara-pradarshini a commentary on Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu

(16) Ananda-candrika a commentary on the Ujjvala-nilamani

(17) a commentary on the Danakeli-kaumudi

(18) a commentary on the Lalita-madhava

(19) an incomplete commentary on Chaitanya Charitamrita

(20) a commentary on the Brahma-samhita

(21) Sararthavarshini a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita

(22) Sarartha-darshini a commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam

He also wrote a number of small works which have been collected as Stavamrita-lahari:

(1) Guru-tattvashtaka

(2) Mantra-datri-gurvashtaka

(3) Paramaguror ashtaka

(4) Paratparaguror ashtaka

(5) Parama-paratparaguror ashtaka

(6) Shri-Lokanathashtaka

(7) Shri-Narottamashtaka

(8) Shri-Sacinandanashtaka

(9) Shri-Svarupa-caritamrita

(10) Svapna-vilasamritam

(11) Shri-Gopaladevashtaka

(12) Shri-Madanamohanashtaka

(13) Shri-Govindashtaka

(14) Shri-Gopinathashtaka

(15) Shri-Gokulanandashtaka

(16) Svayam Bhagavadashtaka

(17) Shri-Radhakundashtaka

(18) Jaganmohanashtaka

(19) Anuragavalli

(20) Shri-Vrindadevyashtaka

(21) Shri-Vrindavanashtaka

(22) Shri-Radhika-dhyanamrita

(23) Shri-Rupacintamani

(24) Shri-Nandishvarashtaka

(25) Shri-Govardhanashtaka

(26) Shri-Sankalpa-kalpadruma

(27) Shri-Nikuïja-virudavali

(28) Shri-Surata-kathamrita

(29) Shri-Shyamakundashtaka

His Student Baladeva

When Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakur was old and hampered in his ability to travel, the acharyas of the Ramanuja sampradaya in the Galta village of Jaipur attempted to convert the King of Jaipur to their school by denying that the Gaudiya school had any historical basis. They accused the Gaudiyas of not having a tie to any one of the four Vaishnava disciplic successions. They advised the King of Jaipur to take initiation from someone in the Ramanuja line. The King was confused by their arguments and asked Vishvanath, who was the most prominent acharya of the Gaudiya school at that time, to come to Jaipur and answer the questions posed by the Ramanuja group. Due to his advanced age, Vishvanath was unable to go, but in his stead he sent his dear student, Baladeva Vidyabhushana to defend the line.

One of the arguments of the Ramanujis was that the Gaudiya school had no commentary of its own on the Vedanta. Baladeva asked the accusers for some time — seven days according to some, three months according to others — to write a Gaudiya commentary on Vedanta. He was given the time and then he went to the Govinda temple and prayed to his guru and to the Lord to give him the power to write such a commentary. Govindaji’s garland fell from around his neck and the pujaris placed it on Baladeva chest. Baladeva took this a sign that the Lord had given him authorization.

With the Lord’s blessings, even the impossible becomes possible, and Baladeva undertook the writing of comments to the 500 sutras of the Brahmasutra, completing it in the limited time given him but without neglecting the aesthetic qualities of the Gaudiya tradition in any way. When he went to Galta, the scholars of the other sampradayas were astonished by the quality of Baladeva’s commentary. Because Govindaji himself had ordered its writing, the commentary became known as the Govinda-bhashya. It was after completing this commentary that Baladeva received the Vidyabhushana title.

It is said of Vishvanath that when he wrote the Bhagavat, when it rained, water fell everywhere except the place where he was sitting. Thus, the ink did not run and the text remained intact.

Vishvanath established the service of Gokulananda, and the Gokulanandaji temple stands in Vrindavan. Vishvanath left this world in Radhakunda in ca. 1630 of the Shaka era (1708 AD). The tithi was either the Shukla or Krishna Païcami of the month of Magh.

[Excerpted from "Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]