namnarjunah sakha prag yo dasa sa parameshvarah
Parameshvara das Thakur was previously Arjuna, one of Krishna’s twelve cowherd boyfriends. (Gaura-Ganoddesha-Dipika 132)
Shrila Parameshvara Thakur appeared in a Vaidya family. He made his home in Antpur, a village which was previously known by the name of Bishakhali. The Antpur station is on the Champadanga branch of the Howrah-Amta rail line. Parameshvara Thakur’s Shripat is not far from the train station and near the old Radha Govinda Temple established of the diwan or chief minister of Burdwan’s king, Tej Bahadur.
After the Lord took sannyas in Katwa, he headed for Vrindavan in a state of divine intoxication before being diverted to Advaita Acharya’s house in Shantipur by Nityananda Prabhu. Sachi Mata and the other Devotees from Navadwip all came to see the Lord there. At His mother’s request, Mahaprabhu agreed to stay in Puri and took the path through Chatrabhoga to Nilachala in the company of Nityananda, Mukunda, Jagadananda and Damodar.
The first time that the Lord wished to go to Vrindavan from Nilachala, He came through Bengal, though He was eventually unsuccessful, He passed through Panihati, Kumarahatta, Kuliya, Ramakeli, Kanair Natshala, Shantipur, etc., before returning to Puri. When Nrisinghananda Brahmachari heard that Mahaprabhu was going to Vrindavan, he meditated on the Lord’s route, imagining a road of jewels as far as Kanair Natshala, when he realized that this was as far as the Lord would go, that he would not make it to Vrindavan this time. Thousands of people were accompanying the Lord at this time. When He arrived at Kanair Natshala, He remembered Sanatan Goswami’s advice,
“To go on pilgrimage with such a large company of Devotees is not recommended. You are going to Vrindavan with an entourage of hundreds and thousands of people, and this is not a fitting way to go on a pilgrimage.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.1.222-4)
On His way back to Nilachala, Mahaprabhu stopped at Advaita’s house in Shantipur. This time He was accompanied by Balabhadra Bhattacharya and Damodar Pandit. When the Lord returned from Gaya, he also went as far as Kanair Natshala where he had a vision of Muralidhara Shri Krishna, who embraced him before he disappeared (Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.2.179-85). Once he returned to Nilachala, Mahaprabhu told Nityananda Prabhu to go with his own associates to Bengal to deliver the lowborn, foolish and fallen people. Amongst his associates at that time were Shri Rama Das, Gadadhara Das, Raghunatha Vaidya, Krishna Das Pandit, Parameshvara Das and Purandara Pandit. While travelling with Nityananda, these Devotees displayed various ecstatic moods. These are described in the Chaitanya Bhagavat:
Krishna Das Pandit, Parameshvara Das and Purandara Pandit were all enthusiastic to join Nityananda. So all of his personal associates accompanied him on this journey back to Bengal. Before starting off, Nityananda first empowered them by saturating them with Krishna prema. They all completely forgot their external identities. There was no end to the variety of ecstatic moods that manifested in each one of their bodies. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.5.232-235)
Parameshvara Das and Krishna Das both shouted “Hoi! Hoi!” in the spirit of cowherd boys. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.5.240) Parameshvara Das was one of the most important of Nityananda Prabhu’s companions, who appeared specifically to enrich his pastimes. Nityananda Prabhu considered him to be his very own life. This too is stated in the Chaitanya Bhagavat:
Parameshvari Das is Nityananda’s life. Nityananda used his body as an extension of his own. (Chaitanya Bhagavat 3.5.732)
It is also stated in the Chaitanya Bhagavat that Mahaprabhu manifested Himself in the Gauranga Deity Parameshvari Das worshiped in Antpur.
Purandara Pandit and Parameshvari Das both saw the manifestation of Gaurachandra in the Deity. As soon as they saw Him, they ran towards Him and fell down, crying in the ecstasy of love. (chaitanya Bhagavat 5.95-6)
It is said in the Bhakti-ratnakara that Parameshvari Das was in the entourage of Nityananda’s shakti, Jahnava Mata, when she went to the Kheturi festival.
Jahnava Ishvari happily walked in the company of Gauranga, Nakarii Krishna Das, Damodar, Parameshvari, the learned Balaram, Mukunda, Vrindavan Das, etc. (Bhakti-ratnakara 10.376-7)
Shri Parameshvari Das Thakur also accompanied Jahnava Mata on her last trip to Vraja Dhama and witnessed her merging into the body of Radhika in the Gopinath Temple. He established the worship of Radha-Gopinath Deities in Antpur on Jahnava’s order.
Once back from Vraja, Parameshvari Das stayed for some time in Khardaha and Garalagacha village in Puri district. When Narottama Das came to Khardaha, he gave him directions to Puri. In Chaitanya Charitamrita, it is written that just by remembering Parameshvari Das one can attain love for Krishna.
Parameshvari Das took exclusive shelter of Nityananda Prabhu. Whoever remembers him attains devotion to Krishna. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.11.29)
Shri Parameshvari Das had miraculous powers. On one occasion, Harinama-sankirtan was being at the house of Kamalakara Pippalai in the town of Akna Mahesh situated near Serampore. Parameshvari was dancing in ecstasy during the kirtan. Hearing the sounds of the kirtan and seeing the ecstatic dancing caused some of the local atheists to become very envious. They decided to pollute the kirtan area and to teach the Devotees a lesson, so they threw a dead jackal in the midst of the kirtan group. But Parameshvari did not stop dancing for a moment. By the force of his kirtan, the jackal came back to life and started to howl along with the kirtan. The other Devotees were astonished by this display of power and overcome by transcendental joy. This has been mentioned in the Vaishnava-vandana:
I very attentively worship Parameshvari Das, who made a jackal come back to life during sankirtan.
In front of the Temple in Antpur are two huge Bakula trees and a Kadamba tree. Between them is the samadhi tomb of Parameshvari Das, over which is a Tulasi Altar. It is said that Bakula trees grew from the branch of a tree that grew there during the time of Parameshvari Thakur. Every year, the Kadamba tree produces a flower that is used for the worship of the Deities. Parameshvari Thakur’s tirobhava festival is held every year on the vaishakhi purnima.
[Excerpted from “Shri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates” by Shrila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]