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Appearance Day of Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi 22 Jan 2018
Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri and was the guru of Sri Gadadhara Pandita. Pundarika Vidyanidhi was sometimes misunderstood to be too much attached to material pleasures, but just by hearing the recitation of one verse of the Bhagavatam he would enter into a trance. In Krsna’s pastimes he was Vrsabhanu, the father of Srimati Radharani.(See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.14 and Madhya-lila 16.76-81.)
pundarika vidyanidhi——bada-sakha jani
yanra nama lana prabhu kandila apani
Pundarika Vidyanidhi, the third big branch, was so dear to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that in his absence Lord Caitanya Himself would sometimes cry.
In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika Srila Pundarika Vidyanidhi is described as the father of Srimati Radharani in krishna-lila. Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore treated him as His father. Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s father was known as Banesvara or, according to another opinion, Suklambara Brahmacari, and his mother’s name was Gangadevi. According to one opinion, Banesvara was a descendent of Sri Sivarama Gangopadhyaya. The original home of Pundarika Vidyanidhi was in East Bengal, in a village near Dacca named Baghiya, which belonged to the Varendra group of brahmana families. Sometimes these Varendra brahmanas were at odds with another group known as Radhiya brahmanas, and therefore Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s family was ostracized and at that time was not living as a respectable family. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati informs us that one of the members of this family is living in Vrindavana and is named Sarojananda Gosvami. One special characteristic of this family is that each of its members had only one son or no son at all, and therefore the family was not very expansive. There is a place in the district of Cattagrama in East Bengal that is known as Hata-hajari, and a short distance from this place is a village known as Mekhala-grama in which Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s forefathers lived. One can approach Mekhala-grama from Cattagrama either on horseback, by bullock cart or by steamer. The steamer station is known as Annapurnara-ghata. The birthplace of Pundarika Vidyanidhi is about two miles southwest of Annapurnara-ghata. The temple constructed there by Pundarika Vidyanidhi is now very old and much in need of repair. Without repair, the temple may soon crumble. There are two inscriptions on the bricks of that temple, but they are so old that one cannot read them. There is another temple, however, about two hundred yards south of this one, and some people say that this is the old temple constructed by Pundarika Vidyanidhi.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu called Pundarika Vidyanidhi “father,” and He gave him the title Premanidhi. Pundarika Vidyanidhi later became the spiritual master of Gadadhara Pandita and an intimate friend of Svarupa Damodara’s. Gadadhara Pandita at first misunderstood Pundarika Vidyanidhi to be an ordinary pounds-and-shillings man, but later, upon being corrected by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he became his disciple. Another incident in the life of Pundarika Vidyanidhi involves his criticizing the priest of the Jagannatha temple, for which Jagannatha Prabhu chastised him personally by slapping his cheeks. This is described in Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya-lila, Chapter Seven. Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura informs us that there are still two living descendants of the family of Pundarika Vidyanidhi, who are named Sri Harakumara Smrititirtha and Sri Krishnakinkara Vidyalankara. For further information one should refer to the dictionary known as Vaishnava-manjusha. (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta Adi lila 10:14. purport.)
bada sakha,——gadadhara pandita-gosani
tenho lakshmi-rupa, tanra sama keha nai
Gadadhara Pandita, the fourth branch, is described as an incarnation of the pleasure potency of Sri Krishna. No one, therefore, can equal him. (Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta Adi lila 10:15.txt.)
There is an interesting story how Srila Gadahar Pandit first met Pundarik Vidyanidhi. He had heard that he was a very great devotee and one worthy of seeking out. So he want to his home for a darshan. His initial seeing him sent confusion through his being. As before him sat what appeared to be the personification of sense gratification – dressed in oppulent silk clothing, hair oiled and nicely combed back, seated upon a huge silken cushion with a water-pipe for smoking in front of him and beautiful young women seated around the room.
Gadadhara Pandit came there expecting to see a sadhu, a guru, someone he could approach for spitual knowldge, to learn from, and take shelter of. But to his surprise he saw this sense gratification…
“I came here to learn from you about Krishna” Gadadhar said, ….but no sooner the word Krishna were uttered Pundarik Vidyanidhi fell to the ground his body his body became strangely transformed and he mumbled the name of Krishna , Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare…..
Gadhadhara then realised that this was no ordinary man, but a very advanced devotee absorded in blissful Krishna consciousness.
Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila 16th Chapter Summary
The Lord’s Attempt to Go to Vrindavana
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives the following summary of this chapter in his Amrita-pravaha-bhashya. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to go to Vrindavana, Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya indirectly presented many obstructions. In due course of time, all the devotees of Bengal visited Jagannatha Puri for the third year. This time, all the wives of the Vaishnavas brought many types of food, intending to extend invitations to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at Jagannatha Puri. When the devotees arrived, Caitanya Mahaprabhu sent his blessings in the form of garlands. In that year also, the Gundica temple was cleansed, and when the Caturmasya period was over, all the devotees returned to their homes in Bengal. Caitanya Mahaprabhu forbade Nityananda to visit Nilacala every year. Questioned by the inhabitants of Kulina-grama, Caitanya Mahaprabhu again repeated the symptoms of a Vaishnava. Vidyanidhi also came to Jagannatha Puri and saw the festival of Odana-shashthi. When the devotees bade farewell to the Lord, the Lord was determined to go to Vrindavana, and on the day of Vijaya-dasami, He departed.
Maharaja Prataparudra made various arrangements for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s trip to Vrindavana. When He crossed the River Citrotpala, Ramananda Raya, Mardaraja and Haricandana went with Him. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu requested Gadadhara Pandita to go to Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri, but he did not abide by this order. From Kataka, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu again requested Gadadhara Pandita to return to Nilacala, and He bade farewell to Ramananda Raya from Bhadraka. After this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu crossed the border of Orissa state, and He arrived at Panihati by boat. Thereafter He visited the house of Raghava Pandita, and from there He went to Kumarahatta and eventually to Kuliya, where He excused many offenders. From there He went to Ramakeli, where He saw Sri Rupa and Sanatana and accepted them as His chief disciples. Returning from Ramakeli, He met Raghunatha dasa and after giving him instructions sent him back home. Thereafter the Lord returned to Nilacala and began to make plans to go to Vrindavana without a companion. (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta. 16th Chapter Summary.)
ei-mata saba vaishnava gaude calila
vidyanidhi se vatsara niladri rahila
Finally all the Vaishnavas returned to Bengal, but that year Pundarika Vidyanidhi remained at Jagannatha Puri.
svarupa-sahita tanra haya sakhya-priti
dui-janaya krishna-kathaya ekatra-i sthiti
Svarupa Damodara Gosvami and Pundarika Vidyanidhi had a friendly, intimate relationship, and as far as discussing topics about Krishna, they were situated on the same platform.
gadadhara-pandite tenho punah mantra dila
odana-shashthira dine yatra ye dekhila
Pundarika Vidyanidhi initiated Gadadhara Pandita for the second time, and on the day of Odana-shashthi he saw the festival.
At the beginning of winter, there is a ceremony known as the Odana-shashthi. This ceremony indicates that from that day forward, a winter covering should be given to Lord Jagannatha. That covering is directly purchased from a weaver. According to the arcana-marga, a cloth should first be washed to remove all the starch, and then it can be used to cover the Lord. Pundarika Vidyanidhi saw that the priest neglected to wash the cloth before covering Lord Jagannatha. Since he wanted to find some fault in the devotees, he became indignant.
jagannatha parena tatha ‘maduya’ vasana
dekhiya saghrina haila vidyanidhira mana
When Pundarika Vidyanidhi saw that Lord Jagannatha was given a starched garment, he became a little hateful. In this way his mind was polluted.
sei ratrye jagannatha-balai asiya
dui-bhai cada’na tanre hasiya hasiya
That night the brothers Lord Jagannatha and Balarama came to Pundarika Vidyanidhi and, smiling, began to slap him.
gala phulila, acarya antare ullasa
vistari’ varniyachena vrindavana-dasa
Although his cheeks were swollen from the slapping, Pundarika Vidyanidhi was very happy within. This incident has been elaborately described by Thakura Vrindavana dasa (in his Chaitanya Bhagavat).