Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita
[June 18, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita, in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt from a bhāva anuvāda of the kathā given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on his appearance day on April 17, 2010 and April 26, 2017. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Gadādhara Paṇḍita Gosvāmī’s father was Mādhava Miśra. He was born in Beleti-grāma in the Chittagong district of modern Bangladesh. [Gadādhara Paṇḍita lived in the village of Beleti until he was twelve and then moved with his family to Navadvīpa.] So our Paramagurujī, Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, established Śrī Gadāi Gaurāṅga Maṭha there.
ACCEPTING INITIATION FROM PUṆḌARĪKA VIDYĀNIDHI
Once Mukunda announced to Gadādhara Paṇḍita, "Today I will take you to meet a wonderful Vaiṣṇava", and he took Gadādhara Paṇḍita to meet Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi. When they arrived, Gadādhara Paṇḍita was bewildered to find Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi surrounded by opulent worldly comforts. [Everything about him gave the impression that he was a man of luxury and indulgence.] Immediately a doubt arose in the mind of Gadādhara Paṇḍita – ‘How can one be a Vaiṣṇava if he is enjoying such opulent facilities?’ Perceiving the doubt in Gadādhara Paṇḍita’s mind, Mukunda quoted a śloka from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.2.23):
aho bakī yaṁ stana-kāla-kūṭaṁ
jighāṁsayāpāyayad apy asādhvī
lebhe gatiṁ dhātry-ucitāṁ tato ’nyaṁ
kaṁ vā dayāluṁ śaraṇaṁ vrajema
[Alas, how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than He who granted the position of mother to a she-demon [Pūtanā] although she was unfaithful and she prepared deadly poison to be sucked from her breast?]
As soon as Vidyānidhi heard this description of devotional service, he began to weep incessantly. All the symptoms of ecstatic love - like tears, shivering, perspiration, losing consciousness, hairs standing on end, and loud shouting simultaneously manifested in his body. He shivered so vigorously out of ecstatic love that even ten men could not compose him and eventually all the expensive paraphernalia lay around scattered and broken. After manifesting ecstatic symptoms for some time in this way, he remained on the floor, lying unconscious.
This incident proves that real Vaiṣṇava darśana cannot be obtained merely by observing the external appearance of a Vaiṣṇava.
Seeing all these ecstatic symptoms on the body of Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi, Gadādhara Paṇḍita realized that Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi was a great Vaiṣṇava. Worried that he had committed an offence unto Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi, he resolved to accept Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi as his spiritual master, and thus atone for his offence.
According to Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā, Gadādhara Paṇḍita is Vṛṣabhānu-nandinī Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī Herself and Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi is King Vṛṣabhānu from Vraja. In a way, he took initiation from his father itself.
GADĀDHARA PAṆḌITA’S SERVICE TO ṬOṬĀ-GOPINĀTHA
Before Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted sannyāsa, whenever He would become overwhelmed in the loving ecstasy of kṛṣṇa-prema, Gadādhara Paṇḍita would delicately pacify him. [Observing this] Śacī Mata requested Gadādhara Paṇḍita to always remain with Nimāi and take care of Him.
Later, when Caitanya-deva accepted sannyāsa and considered staying in Purī, Gadādhara Paṇḍita Gosvāmī decided to take kṣetra-sannyāsa. Kṣetra-sannyāsa refers to a vow of limiting oneself to one particular place (kṣetra) only.
Once in the garden [called Yameśvara-ṭoṭā, where Gadādhara Paṇḍita resided], Caitanya-deva found the deity of Gopīnātha. Caitanya-deva said to Gadādhara Paṇḍita Gosvāmī, “I have found something very precious. Will you accept it?” Gadādhara Paṇḍita replied, “Is it possible that You could desire to give me something that I wouldn't accept?” [Thus Gadādhara Paṇḍita began serving Ṭoṭā-gopīnātha] Since the deity was found in a garden, He came to be known as “Ṭoṭā-gopīnātha” (‘Ṭoṭā’ means ‘garden’ in Oriya).
[Everyday, Caitanya-deva would come to Yameśvara-ṭoṭā to hear Gadādhara Paṇḍita recite the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.] Even though He heard Dhruva-caritra and Prahlāda-caritra from Gadādhara Paṇḍita over a 100 times, He was not satisfied. [It could not quench His insatiable thirst to hear more.] He implored, “Speak more! Speak more!” Once, Nityānanda Prabhu brought fine rice from Bengal as an offering to Ṭoṭā-gopīnātha. With great affection, Gadādhara Paṇḍita prepared and offered the rice to Gopīnātha. Nityānanda Prabhu was to honour Gopīnātha prasāda there that day. Suddenly Mahāprabhu arrived there and said, “Gadādhara! What is this? Is there no invitation for Me?” [And he merrily joined Gadādhara and Nityānanda for prasādam] What do we see from this pastime? [That the love between Mahāprabhu and Gadādhara was so deep that] There was no necessity of a formal invitation there.
SERVING IN SEPARATION
When Caitanya-deva began to leave for Vṛndāvana from Jagannātha Purī, Gadādhara Paṇḍita, unable to bear the impending separation, also started going along. However, Mahāprabhu forbade him, saying, “You have taken kṣetra-sannyāsa, your vow will be broken if you come with Me.” Gadādhara Paṇḍita said, “[Wherever You are staying is Jagannātha Purī.] So I do not mind giving up my kṣetra-sannyāsa, I will come with You.”
After some time [upon reaching Cuttack], seeing that Gadādhara Paṇḍita wouldn’t heed His advice, Caitanya Mahāprabhu said to him, “You have broken your vow of kṣetra-sannyāsa by coming so far. Now please do not say anything more about this matter and return to Nīlācala. You will simply condemn Me if you don’t.”
Hearing this, Gadādhara Paṇḍita did not go further but instantly fainted to the ground. Then he returned to Purī and continued to serve Ṭoṭā-Gopīnātha.
DISAPPEARANCE PASTIME OF LORD CAITANYA
Gadādhara Paṇḍita is an eternal associate of the Lord. Gadādhara Paṇḍita never gave up the service of Ṭoṭā-gopīnātha. Only a [real] devotee attains such a nature. When Śrī Caitanya-deva decided to wrap up His pastimes in this world, Gadādhara Paṇḍita witnessed Him disappear in the Gopīnātha Temple. Distraught with grief, he began to weep, “I lost Gauracānda in the Gopīnātha Temple - ‘gauracānde harāinu gopīnātha mandire’. What will I do now? Where will I go?”
Those who were on the sea shore saw the Lord disappear into the ocean. Those who were in the Jagannātha Temple, saw the Lord disappear in the Jagannātha Temple. These things are beyond the comprehension of our senses. This is the divinity of the Lord. Why is it impossible? Where does the sun set? Have you ever gone to a place to see the sunset? People go to Kanyākumārī to see the sunset. The sun sets in the Indian Ocean and in the Arabian Sea. When we go to Purī, we also see the sun rising and setting. Some people also go to Tiger Hills in Darjeeling to see the sunset. Does the sun set in Tiger Hills or Purī or Kanyākumārī? Where does it set? Also, in Chandigarh do people not see the setting sun? So where does it actually set? Similarly, it is difficult to comprehend the Lord’s pastimes.
When Mahāprabhu left, Gadādhara Paṇḍita Gosvāmī was so overwhelmed in separation from Him, that he could no longer read Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Just upon opening the book, tears would well up in his eyes. The whole book was washed with his tears. Consequently, Gadādhara Paṇḍita became so frail in separation that he could barely stand. Thus, it became difficult for him to dress and garland Lord Gopīnātha. Seeing the difficultly His devotee was facing, Lord Gopīnātha sat down cross-legged, so that it would be easier for Gadādhara Paṇḍita to garland Him. We can never see this kind of deity anywhere.
ŚRĪ CAITANYA-CARITĀMṚTA WRITTEN BY GADĀDHARA PAṆḌITA’S MERCY
Gadādhara Paṇḍita accepted Advaita Ācārya’s son, Acyutānanda and Ananta Ācārya, among others, as disciples. Śrī Haridāsa Paṇḍita Gosvāmī, who had ordered Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī to write Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, was Ananta Ācārya’s disciple. Hence, in a way, by Gadādhara Paṇḍita’s mercy, today we have Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Why? Because his disciple’s disciple had given the order for Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta to be composed.
There is even a danta-samādhi [the samādhi of Gadādhara Paṇḍita’s tooth] in Vraja-maṇḍala. [It is situated near Śrī Rādhā-ramaṇa temple.]
[In this way, today, I remember Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita and pray for his mercy.]