Shrivasa Thakura

 

     That person who was the Vyasa of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes—Shrimad Vrindavan Das Thakura—speaks of Shrivas Pandit in his Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata:

    "In Navadwip Dham  lived the holy Pandit Shri Shrivas,

    And at his temple Caitanya performed his sweet vilas.

    Srivas and his  brothers always sang the holy name,

    And did their Krishna-puja and Ganges bath three times a day."

     Shrivas, Shrirama, Shripati and Shrinidhi were four brothers.  They used to  live in Shri Hatta, but after some time they moved to Navadwip Dham and lived there. The four brothers used to go to the house of Advaita Acharya to listen to the Bhagavatam class, to perform Nam-sankirtan, and to participate in different Vaishnava activities.    They were all great friends with Shri Jagannatha Mishra, the father of Shri Chaitanya. The four of them used to love to hear the Bhagavatam and perform sankirtan together.  As a result of their devotion, they could understand that Shri Krishna Himself would soon appear in the house of Jagannatha Mishra. Shrivas Pandit's wife was Malinidevi.  She was the contant friend of Sachidevi and the two of them would derive great satisfaction in one another's company.

     Seeing the terrible situation of the living entities in Kaliyuga, the devotees were greatly distressed, and, in order to deliver the fallen souls, began to pray for the appearance of God Himself.  The Lord heard the prayers of his devotees.  In 1407 Saka era, in the month of Phalguana, on the full moon night Shri Hari Himself advented in the home of Jagannatha Mishra in Mayapura.   With his appearance in this world, everything became auspicious.  The world was filled with the holy name. When Shri Advaita, who came from Shantipura, could understand that Shri Hari himself had appeared, he went to Shrivasa and all the other devotees and made them understand as well the importance of His divine appearance. Shrivas Pandit's wife Malini was devoted to Sachidevi and took care of her like a personal nurse.  Shrivas Pandit was constantly at the house of Jagannatha Mishra; it was as if he was Jagannatha Mishra's shadow.

     What the Supreme Lord may do from one moment to the next even he himself may not know; how than can anyone else understand his movements? At the time of Mahaprabhu's childhood, he exhibited many supernatural pastimes, but being bewildered by the Lord's Yogamaya potency, the devotees could not understand them.   At the time of his advent all the hearts of the devotees were filled with  parental affection. Shrivas Pandita and Malini Devi, in nurturing and raising up the darling boy of Shachi Devi and Jagannatha Mishra gave him instruction on many subjects.  And so, Shri Gaurasundara came to accept Shrivasa Pandit and Malini Devi as a second mother and father.

     One day, during the time of Mahaprabhu's impudent schoolboy pranks and his pastimes of scholarship, Shrivasa Pandit came to the boy and instructed him as follows: "Why do people study?  What do they really want to know and understand?  What is the true object of knowledge?  Krishna and Krishna-bhakti.  For if one studies so many subjects, but has no understanding of Krishna, all his learning is useless. You are reading and studying and hearing so many lectures on different subjects.  But you should perform Krishna-bhajan and apply your intelligence to that."  Hearing this, mahaprabhu smiled and said, "By your mercy it shall certainly come to pass.  By your mercy I shall certainly attain Krishna bhakti."

     At length, Mahaprabhu, having gone to the holy city of Gaya where He  accepted mantra initiation from Ishvara Puri, began to play the role for which he had come to this world. He began to manifest prema-bhakti within this world. One day, Mahaprabhu, manifesting his mood of the Supreme Controller, God Himself, came to the house of Shrivas Thakura and spoke as follows: "To whom have you performed worship? On whom have you meditated? Now see Him!  Look upon the object of your worship!  Shirvasa! Who have you worshipped?  Look directly upon Him whom you have worshipped."  Saying these words, Mahaprabhu entered the Deity room of Vishnu and boldly sat upon the altar, manifesting a four-armed form  with conch, lotus, club, and chakra.  Upon seeing Chaitanya Mahparabhu in this divine form, Shrivas Pandit was shocked and paralyzed with wonder.

     At that time the Lord told Shrivas, "I have heard your loud Sankirtan and Advaita's roaring of the holy name of Krishna! And hearing their calls I have left Vaikuntha and appeared here in this material world with my eternal associates.  I have come to punish the wicked and deliver the saintly. If you want to become fearless perform my  sankirtan.  Listening to these fearless words of Mahaprabhu Shrivasa Pandit fell to the earth offering his prostrated obeisances and recited the following prayers:

     "Unto the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya Vishvambhara

      (whose dress is like a yellow cloud) I make my namaskara.

        I bow before that Krishna (who is mother Sachi's son)

       Bedecked with gunja-mala and peacock plume, bright as the sun,

       Bright as a million moons whose cooling rays eclipse the stars;

       To Ganga Das Pandit's Nimai, a hundred namaskaras.

       With horn of buffalo, and cowherd stick, and bamboo flute,

        Lord Krishna played, and you are He, the Godhead, Supreme Truth.

        The Vedas sing the glories of Krishna—Nanda Kumara;

        And thou art he, and so before your feet, my namaskara.

 

     My birth and work have reached complete fulfillment here today.

     My life has dawned anew, auspiciousness is mine today.

     My ancestors have surely found salvation on this day.

     My home and wealth have reached their true perfection on this day.

     My fortune knows no earthly bounds upon this holy day—

     The blissful vision of your holy feet blessed me today."

       In this way, Shrivasa offered different prayers and hymns.  Shri Chaitanya Maharpabhu was very kind to Shrivas, and within the house of Shrivasa he gave darshan of his divine form to all his eternal associates and devotees. When Shrivasa Pandit's niece Narayani came before him, Mahaprabhu, upon seeing her, said, "Narayani, chant Krishna, Krishna!"  Chaitanya Bhagvata records, "Although she was only a four year old girl, her behavior was unusual. Chanting "Krishna, Krishna!" again and again, she fell on the ground stunned in ecstasy with tears in her eyes."

     The little girl, Narayani, was stunned in ecstasy and chanted Krishna again and again with tears in her eyes. Seeing her tears of ecstasy, Shrivasa Pandit's wife as well as all the other devotees also cried tears of ecstasy.  As a consequence, Shrivasa Angana was filled with a wonderful and beautiful impression of Krishna-prema.

     In the house of Shrivasa there was a maidservant named Dukhi (unhappy).  Every day she would bring water to bathe Mahaprabhu.  One day the Lord asked Shrivasa, "Who is bringing this water?"  Shrivasa said, "Dukhi is bringing the water." The Lord said, "From now own her name will be Sukhi (happy). Since she is engaged in service to Bhagavan and the Vaishnavas, she cannot be Dukhi (unhappy).  She must be Sukhi (happy).

     Chaitanya Mahaprabhu performed many different pastimes in the house of Shrivasa. Gradually, Nityananda Prabhu came to Nabadwip dham and met Shri Chaitanya. In the company of Shri Nityananda Prabhu, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu began performing different Sankirtana pastimes.  Their Sankirtana headquarters was Shrivas Angan. Shri Nityananda Prabhu Himself personally resided at Shrivasa Angan, and Shri Malini Devi, the wife of Shrivasa served Him as if he were her very own son.  Nityananda Prabhu is Baladev Himself.  He used to perform the pastimes of an avadhuta.  He would dwell in the plane of Krishna prema, always overwhelmed by divine ecstasy. He was never burdened by any consideration of bodily ornamentation. Thus he was known as an avadhuta.

     One day, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, along with his personal expansions and eternal associates, went to the house of Shrivasa to perform Sankirtan and dance.  At that time the only son of Shrivasa became stricken with some unusual ailment and passed away.  Within the ladies chambers all the women were crying and lamenting with great sobs and weeping and wailing.  Shrivasa Pandit, understanding everything, entered into the ladies chambers. There he saw that his son had passed away, returning to the spiritual abode.  With supreme gravity, this great knower of divine truth consoled the women.  "You all know the glories of Krishna," he said, "Therefore, please don't cry.  Check your tears. Even  a great sinner who hears the holy name at the time of death attains the divine abode of Krishna. That very Krishna Himself—whose glories are sung by his servants like Brahma and Shiva—is dancing among you.  It is certain, therefore, that this boy has returned to the Lord's supreme abode.  Why then should there be any cause for lamentation.  At this time you should rather honor this boy as one who was blessed with the supreme good fortune of attaining the ultimate goal of life."

     In this way, Shrivasa Thakura, after giving many different instructions on divine truth to the ladies, finally said, "If you are unable to check your family sentiment and stop crying right now, I will give you good reason to cry later.  At this moment, Shri Gaurasundara, the Lord of Gokula Himself, is performing sankirtan with his devotees in my house.  If by your crying you disturb his happiness for one moment, then I shall immediately go jump in the Ganges and give up my life by drowning!"

     "It is by Krishna's will alone that every blade of grass moves.  Nothing comes to pass without his will.  Whatever we may  imagine to be good, bad, knowledge, or ignorance is all his will.  Knowing whatever Krishna wants to be divine good, reject your own desires as so much useless garbage. Lord Krishna gives, and Krishna takes away. Krishna protects and nurtures all. Krishna gives life and takes it away according to his will. According to his will everything lives and dies. To contradict the will of God will be a useless attempt.  It will only bring sorrow.  Therefore, giving up all your lamentation, listen to the holy name of Krishna; by doing so you will attain the highest ecstasy and completely fulfill your heart's desire.

     After giving all these instructions, Shrivasa Thakura went outside and rejoined the great kirtan of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in which the Lord was absorbed in singing the holy name of Krishna and dancing.  Leaving the thought of their dead child behind, the ladies listened to the kirtan of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  In this way the kirtan continued until late at night. The sankirtan gradually came to an end and everyone rested.  At that time Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, "Today within my mind I felt that some great sorrow has struck this house."  Shrivasa Pandit said, "O my Lord, how can there be any  sorrow here?  You have brought the highest delight to this house by the sweet kirtan that has emanated from your lotus mouth."

     The Lord said, "Shrivasa, how is it that there was no ananda in the kirtan today? Has something inauspicious befallen your family?"  Shrivasa said, "O my Lord! You are all-auspicious. As long as you are present here how can anything inauspicious take place? At last the devotees came to know that Shrivasa Thakur's only son had just died.

     Upon hearing this, Lord Gauranga cried, "Alas, alas! The thought of this great tragedy pains me worse than death. Why did you not tell me of this most unfortunate event?"  At this, Shrivasa Pandit said, "Hear me, O Lord; I could not break the flow of your rasa-kirtan.  A body died, O Lord, what need is there for sorrow? If everyone in the universe had died,  I would still experience the greatest  happiness just by looking upon You.  If I had broken the flow of your kirtan and stopped you from dancing, taht would have been a fate worse than death. And so I did not want to disturb your kirtan, for fear of the great disaster that would have taken place as a result of such ugly talk."

     Seeing such deep determination in Shrivasa Thakura, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu  began to weep.  He said,  "Not knowing of this lamentation for the son of Shrivasa, but bewildered by the ecstasy of Krishna-prema, how could I renounce such association?"    Hearing these words, everyone thought deeply within themselves.

     After this, Mahaprabhu went to the place where the dead child lay and touched him, saying, "O boy! Why did you renounce Shrivasa Pandit and go away?"  At his touch, life returned to the boy and, after offering obeisances to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the boy said, "O my Lord! You are the creator and destroyer of everything.  You give life and take it away. You are the Supreme Lord of all. Nothing can be done without your decree. As long as it is decreed by you, one can stay here; when you decree, they can no longer remain.  When your sanction for our short stay on earth is removed we must move on. O Lord. Many times I have taken birth, and many times I have died. But this time is different.  This time I died while having darshan of your beautiful lotus feet, and so I have left this earth in complete happiness."

     Saying this, the boy fell silent, having satisfied the inquiry of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Hearing this unprecedented discourse from the mouth of the dead child, everyone was astonished and all the devotees floated in the waves of the ocean of bliss.  In this way, beholding the wondrous pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shrivasa Pandit fell before the lotus feet of the Lord and wept tears of ecstasy.  Whereupon Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, "Nityananda and I are your two sons.  Always think of this and you will never experience the sorrow of having lost a son. Nityananda and I are your sons.  Therefore why should you lament?"  Hearing these words of mercy, the devotees filled the four directions with cries of joy.  Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Shri Nityananda Prabhu were indebted to Shrivasa on account of his devotion and service. This is proof that The Lord becomes indebted to his devotees.

     When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa Shrivasa Pandit returned to Kumara Hatta and lived there.  Now and then he and his brothers would go to Jagannatha Puri to have darshan of Mahaprabhu. Sometimes he would go to Nabadwipa-Mayapura to see Sachidevi, and at that time he would stay in his house there for a few days. 

     When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu returned to Bengal from Jagannatha Puri after five years of his sannyasa, he would take darshan of Sachimata and the Ganges he went by Kumarhatta and visited the house of Shrivasa Thakura there.  Chaitanya Bhagavata says, "After staying for a few days at the house of Advaita, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited the home and temple of Shrivasa. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave Shrivasa a boon, saying, "There shall never be any poverty or shortage in your home." Shrivasa Pandit with his three brothers always served Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with great happiness. Shrivasa Pandit is the avatara of Narada Muni.  He is a constant associate of the Lord who is plays a role in all of the Lord's important pastimes.        

 

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