Gaudiya Vaishnavism has been blessed with several important women Gurus who have been empowered by Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu to serve as spiritual ‘bridges’ in times when there have been long gaps in the disciplic succession.
The zamindar of Puntiya, Naresh Narayana, was influenced and blessed by Shrinivas Acharya and received the mercy of the Vaishnavas. He thus accepted Vaishnava dharma.
His daughter Sachi devi was born in Puntiya which is in the Rajashahi district of present-day Bangladesh. From her early childhood, Sachi Devi was indifferent to family life and devoted to Krishna. Her parents saw this and wanted to see her married as soon as possible, but Sachi told them that she refused to accept any mortal as her husband. When she announced her determination to remain unmarried in this way, her parents could do nothing to change her mind. When her mother died, Sachi Devi left home and set out on a pilgrimage which led her first to Puri and then to Vrindavan.
Sachi devi dasi received initiation from Shri Haridas Pandit Goswami, the great worshiper of Shri Govindaji in Vrindavan and began performing her bhajan in Vrindavan. Later she continued her sadhana at Radha Kunda.
Upon her arrival in Vrindavan Dhama, she met Shri Haridas Goswami and felt her entire pilgrimage was fulfilled. She wanted to take initiation from him, but he hesitated at first because of her wealthy family background. Later, however, when he saw her asceticism and her unswerving determination to engage in pure devotional life, he gave her initiation in the eighteen-syllabled mantra. This event took place in the Govindaji Temple on the Chaitra Shukla Ekadashi.
After having received her guru’s mercy, she began to engage in intense bhajana, subsisting through madhukari, i.e., by begging from door to door for food. After a year of this intense devotional activity, she was told by her spiritual master to live in Radha Kund with her spiritually advanced aunt and god-sister, Lakshmipriya, who regularly chanted three lakhs of naam every day. As a part of their regular spiritual practice, the two of them daily circumambulated Shri Govardhana Giri.
After several years of such practice at Radha Kund, when Sachi had become very advanced in her devotional life, her Guru sent her to Purushottam Kshetra to revive and restore the home of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, which had fallen into disrepair. Obeying her Guru’s instructions, Sachi Devi went to Jagannath Puri and took the kshetra-sannyasa vow.
Among others, King Mukundadeva of Jagannath Puri and a number of Jagannath's sevaites received diksha from her. She was also an eloquent speaker and explained Shrimad Bhagavatam for large audiences.
On the day of Ganga Sagara she desired to bathe in the Ganges. That night the Ganges came from the lotus feet of Lord Jagannath to her ashram and allowed her to bathe. Entering Ganga devi's waters, she floated to the lotus feet of Jagannath Swami in Jagannath Puri. Early in the morning, when the pujaris unlocked the doors and opened the gates, they discovered her.
Thinking she was a thief, they put her in jail. But Lord Jagannath seeing this mistake appeared in the dream to both the king and the head pujari, ordering them to immediately release Sachi devi from jail and to take initiation from her.
In Jaipur there is a Deity called Shri Shyama Raya which used to be worshiped by a brahmin. One night the Deity appeared to the Brahmin in his dream and told him he should take Him to Puri and hand Him to Gangamata Goswamini. Following the order of the Deity, the Brahmin went to Puri and presented Shri Shyama Raya to her. On the order of Ganga mata Goswamini, the king renovated the old palace of Shri Sarvabhauma Bhattracharya and she then established Shri Shyama Raya, and He is still being worshiped there today.
Ganga Mata Goswamini was initiated in the line of Gauranga's shakti, Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami, by Haridas Goswami. This is described in the Chaitanya Charitamrita. Ananta Acharya was a disciple of Gadadhara Pandit. Pandit Haridas was the beloved disciple of Shri Ananta Acharya.
According to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Ananta Acharya was Sudevi, one of the eight principal Gopis. This is stated in the Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, verse 165, as follows: ‘Ananta Acharya Goswami was formerly Sudevi-gopi in Vraja [Vrindavan].’
According to the disciplic succession descending from him at the famous Ganga-mata monastery, he is known as Vinoda manjari. One of his disciples was Haridas Pandit Goswami, who is also known as Shri Raghu Gopal and as Shri Rasa manjari. He had two important disciples: Lakshmipriya and her niece, Ganga Mata, daughter of the Raja of Puntiya.