vraje sthitau gayakau yau
In Vraja there were two singers named Madhukantha and Madhuvrata. They appeared in Chaitanya lila as Mukunda and Vasudeva Datta, who were singers in the society of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sri Vasudeva Datta was born in the Chittagong district of modern Bangla Desh, in the village of Chanhara, which is under the jurisdiction of the police station named Patiya. This village is situated ten kosas, or about twenty miles, from the village of Mekhala where Pundarika Vidyanidhi made his home. Mahaprabhu’s associate Mukunda Datta was Vasudeva Datta’s brother.
In the book Prema-vilasa, it is said that Vasudeva was the older of the two and that they were born in an Ambashtha family:
In the district of Chittagong, there is a village named Cakrashala where lives a respectable family of Ambashtha physicians named Datta. Two great devotees named Mukunda Datta and Vasudeva Datta were born into this family. Both Vasudeva the older and Mukunda the younger came to Nabadwip to live.
Vasudeva Datta Thakur had a beautiful voice and was also well versed in the Sangita-shastra. He was one of the chief associates of Mahaprabhu, participating in sankirtan in the home of Srivasa and the streets of Nabadwip. Mahaprabhu enjoyed his association because of his Vaishnava qualities.
Vasudeva Datta is a respected servant of the Lord. A thousand tongues are insufficient to sing his glories.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.41)
Mahaprabhu said, “Even though Mukunda has been my companion since childhood, I get even more pleasure when I see you.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.11.138)
Vasudeva had a particularly close friendship with Srivasa Pandit and Shivananda Sena.He lived near Kumarahatta and Kanchra Para, which were the homes of these two great associates of the Lord. Vasudeva was very generous by nature. Never thinking of himself, he spent his money liberally for others. Mahaprabhu saw this and asked Shivananda Sena to become his sarkhel and supervise his affairs.
Vasudeva was so distressed by the suffering of the living beings that he was ready to accept their sins and suffer in hell, and he prayed emotionally to Mahaprabhu for such a boon:
“My Lord! You have appeared in this world to save it, so please accept my prayer. You are omnipotent and all-merciful, so if you agree to fulfill my request, it can be easily done. When I see the suffering of the world, my heart is torn apart. So I ask you, Lord, give their sins to me. I will take their sins and suffer in hell on their behalf, but please deliver them from their material disease.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.15.160-163)
He wished to take the sins of every single living being and suffer in hell in their place so that they could be liberated.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.42)
When Mahaprabhu heard this emotional plea on behalf of the living beings of the world, he said to Vasudeva:
“You have desired the liberation of all the living beings in the entire universe, so it will be. They will saved without having to suffer the consequences of their sins. Krishna is not incapable of doing it, he has all powers, so why should he make you suffer for their sins? Those whose welfare you desire will all become Vaishnavas, and Krishna removes the sins of all those who are Vaishnava.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.15.167-169)
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur writes in his Anubhashya to the Chaitanya Charitamrita: “In the Western world, Christians believe that only their guru, Jesus Christ, appeared in this world out of a desire to suffer on behalf of the people of the world by accepting their sins. But here we see that amongst Mahaprabhu’s associates, Vasudeva Datta Thakur, like Hari Das Thakur, showed a compassion millions of times greater and more generous, as he was willing to suffer in the place of all creatures in the universe. By so doing, he taught the world the unlimited nature of the Vaishnava’s selfless love.”
Raghunatha Das Goswami’s diksha guru, Yadunandana Acharya, was blessed by Vasudeva Datta. The author of Chaitanya Bhagavat, Vrindavan Das Thakur, was born in Mamgachi in Modadrumadvipa, one mile from the Purvasthali station on the Howrah-Katwa line of the Eastern Railway. Vasudeva Datta consecrated the worship of the Madana Gopal deity that is still being worshiped at this site.
We can see just how dear Vasudeva Datta was to Mahaprabhu by the Lord’s statements made when he was visiting Srivasa Pandit’s house in Kumarahatta :
Gaurachandra repeated again and again, “This body of mine belongs to Vasudeva. If he wants to sell me, I allow myself to be sold; I will not do otherwise. I announce this truth to all of you. If someone has even come into the briefest contact with Vasudeva Datta, he will be protected by Krishna. Listen all you Vaishnavas! I tell you the truth: this body of mine belongs to Vasudeva alone.”
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.5.27-30)
[Excerpted from "Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]