Śrī Mukunda Datta and Śrī Śrīdhara Paṇḍita
[June 4, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrī Mukunda Datta as well as Śrī Śrīdhara 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 June 20, 2016. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
Today is the disappearance day of Mukunda Datta and Śrīdhara Paṇḍita.
ŚRĪ MUKUNDA DATTA
Once, when Mahāprabhu exhibited the 'sāta-prahariyā-līlā’, manifesting His divine form holding a conch, disc, club and lotus, with the Deities on His lap, He invited the devotees one after the other for His darśana. But, during this līlā, Mahāprabhu refused to give His darśana to Mukunda Datta. Crestfallen, Mukunda pleaded with the devotees for them to implore Mahāprabhu to give him His darśana. When Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita appealed on behalf of Mukunda Datta, Mahāprabhu replied, “After a crore of births he will get My darśana.”
When Mukunda heard this reply, he danced about in great joy thinking that, “After going through 8.4 million births, nothing good has happened; another one crore births will be over in no time, but at least, Mahāprabhu has given His assurance that I will have His darśana! Hence there is no doubt that one day I will get His divine darśana.” Upon hearing of Mukunda’s reaction, Mahāprabhu called Mukunda inside.
Why did Mahāprabhu refuse to see him initially? Mukunda Datta used to sing beautiful kīrtanas of Mahāprabhu [but he wasn’t one-pointed.] He would attend and sing kīrtanas even in the assemblies of Māyāvādīs, karmīs, jñānīs, and so on [and accept their teachings, thinking them to be superior to devotional service]. So, considering his lack of staunch faith, he was refused darśana. But when he spontaneously expressed his full faith in Mahāprabhu’s words, he was immediately awarded darśana.
Mukunda Datta would sing kīrtanas so very beautifully. In Vaiṣṇava-vandanā, it is said:
vandiba amvaṣṭha nāma śrī-mukunda data
gandharva jiniyā jā’ra gānera mahattva
gandharva jiniyā jā’ra gānera mahattva ––his singing is glorious like the gandharvas.
Mahāprabhu referred to him as, 'khaḍa jāthiyā' – meaning, sometimes he holds a straw (khaḍa) between his teeth (as a symptom of humility) and at other times he beats Me with a stick (jāthi). [When he mingles with another sampradāya, he constantly beats Me with a stick by not accepting devotional service. (Śrī Caitanya Bhāgavata, Madhya 10.190)]
ŚRĪ ŚRĪDHARA PAṆḌITA
Śrīdhara Paṇḍita was very poor. He made a living by selling the produce from his farm such as bananas, banana bark (thora), banana flowers, banana leaves, radish, etc. His principle was that he would sell at a fair and reasonable price. Half the proceeds of the sale would go towards worship of Gaṅgā-devī, and he would use the other half to sustain himself. Caitanya-deva would approach him to purchase His goods while paying just half the price quoted by Śrīdhara. In turn, a loving quarrel would ensue between the devotee and the Lord.
Śrīdhara Paṇḍita would ask, “Are there no other sellers in the town other than me?” And Mahāprabhu would say, “I go where I want to purchase from. I will never leave my permanent vendor.” Meaning the Lord does not go to anyone other than His devotee. Śrīdhara would ask, “Why then pay half the price? I need to perform Gaṅgā-pūjā.” Mahāprabhu would reply, “Gaṅgā is My servant.” Śrīdhara would then think, “Oh, He does not even fear Gaṅgā!”
When Mahāprabhu showed His divine form, ṣaḍbhuja-rūpa, He asked Śrīdhara Paṇḍita to seek a benediction. At that time Śrīdhara Paṇḍita requested, “That Prabhu who would snatch things from me, may He be my Prabhu life after life. This is my prayer.”