Vakreshvara Pandit

 

    At the time of Shriman Mahaprabhu's Nabadwipa-lila, as well as at the time of his taking sannyasa and his staying in Jagannatha Puri, Vakreshvara Pandit was an associate of the Lord.  Shri Vakreshvara Pandit's birthplace is near the Triveni in a place called Guptiparaya. Shri Vakreshvara Pandit was expert in song and dancing.  He once danced continuously for 72 hours.  In the Gaura-Ganodesh-Dipika, verse 71, it is stated that Vakreshvara Pandit was an incarnation of Aniruddha, one of the quadruple expansions of Vishnu.  When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu played in dramatic performances in the house of Shrivasa Pandit, Vakreshvara Pandit was one of the chief dancers.  When Caitanya Mahaprabhu first began his Sankirtan-lila Vakreshvara Pandit was a great singer and dancer.  When Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Ramkeli, Vakreshvara Pandit went with him.

     By the mercy of Vakreshvara Pandit Devananda Pandit was delivered.   Devananda Pandit had a reputation as a great scholar of the Bhagavatam from the monist point of view.  One day Srivasa Pandit went to hear his Bhagavata class, and in the ecstasy of Krishna prem began to cry tears of joy upon hearing the holy Bhagavata. At that time, some of Devananda Pandit's ignorant disciples, feeling that Shrivasa Thakura was disrupting the class, threw Shrivas Pandit out of the house where the Bhagavatam class was going on.  Ignorant of the true position both of the Lord's devotee and the holy Bhagavata , Devananda Pandit made no protest after seeing  this disrespectful treatment of a great Vaishnava with his own eyes.   In this way, he was responsible for Vaishnava-aparadha, an offense at the lotus feet of a pure devotee.

    When Caitanya Mahaprabhu manifest his divinity in Nabadwip in the house of Shrivasa Thakura, it came to his attention that such an offense had been commited a the lotus feet of that great devotee, Shrivasa Thakura.  At that time, he gave many instructions regarding the position of the book Bhagavata and the person Bhagavata.  He said, "If one studies the book Bhagavata but doesn't respect the devotee Bhagavata, he is an offender.   One may study the Bhagavata in that way for hundreds and hundreds of kalpas without making any progress towards Krishna-prema.  The book Bhagavata and the person Bhagavata are nondifferent.  One who is sincere to know the meaning of the book Bhagavata must serve the devotee Bhagavata.  Mahaprabhu was indifferent towards Devananda Pandit and did not  bestow Krishna-prema upon him.

    One day Vakreshvara Pandit was in the section of Nabadwip known as Kuliya at the house of a devotee.  That evening Vakreshvara Pandit was singing the glories of the Lord and dancing in ecstasy.  Devananda Pandit went there to find out what was going on, and when he saw Vakreshvara Pandit enveloped in a mood of ecstasy, he became fascinated by watching him. By and by a large crowd formed, pressing forward to see Vakreshvara Pandit.  Shri Devananda Pandit then  pushed  the crowd back waving  a cane in his hand, so that the divine kirtan and dancing of Shri Vakreshvara Pandit Thakura was not disturbed.  In this way for another six hours into the night Vakreshvara Pandit continued his intense singing and dancing in divine kirtana.  Later, when Vakreshvara Pandit had taken a seat in order to rest,  Devananda Pandit fell before his feet, offering his obeisances in full submission.

    Vakreshavara Pandit was very happy with Devananda Pandit and his service, and blessed him, saying, "May you have love of God." From that day on, Devananda Pandit's Krishna Bhakti grew.  One who gets the blessing of a devotee soon achieves Krishna-bhakti.

    After Caitanya Mahaprabhu had stayed in Jagannatha Puri for some time, he returned to Kuliya in Nabadwipa, in order to visit his mother and see the Ganges.  At that time, he gave his mercy to Devananda Pandit.  At that time he told Devananda Pandit: "Because you have rendered service to Vakreshvara Pandit I consider you to be one of my own.  Vakreshvara Pandit is completely empowered by the Lord.  He has attained Krishna, and is full in Krishna-bhakti.  Krishna has made his home in the heart of Vakreshvara Pandit, and as Krishna dances within his heart, so Vakreshavara Pandit himself dances.   Whatever place Vakreshvara Pandit blesses with his association becomes a holy place of pilgrimage more sacred than all the holy places." 

    In this way Vrindavan Das Thakur writes of the glories of Shri Vakreshvara Pandit.  Although  Shri Vakreshvara Pandit had previously lived in Nabadwip, he left Nabadwip for Jagannatha Puri after Mahaprabhu took sannyasa, in order to better serve the Lord.  After this, he lived in Jagannatha Puri.  The Caitanya Caritamrita says, "Among the devotees who accompanied the Lord in Jagannatha Puri, two of them—Paramananda Puri and Svarupa Damodara—were the heart and soul of the Lord.  Among the other devotees were Gadadhara, Jagadananda, Sankara, Vakreshvara, Damodara Pandit, Thakura Haridasa, Raghunatha Vaidya, and Ragunatha das.  All these  great devotees had been his associates from the very begining of the Lord's pastimes, and when the Lord took up residence in Jagannatha Puri they remained there to serve him faithfully.

    It is said that Vakreshvara Pandit later lived in the house of Kashi Mishra.  There he established the Radha-Kanta deities.  Shri Vakreshvara Pandit's disciple was Gopal Guru Goswami.  Shri Gopal Guru Goswami's disciple Dhayanachandra Goswami has written a book called the Dhyan Chandra Paddhati.  There he has written of Vakreshvara Pandit: "Previously in Vrindavan he was Tungavidya Gopi who was expert in singing and dancing. Later that same person appeared in the lila of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and became known as Vakreshvara Pandit. He appeared within this world as Vakreshavara Pandit on the day of Krishnapanchami in the month of Asharh.  He disappeared from this Earth and entered into the unmanifest pastimes of the Lord on the sixth day of the full moon in the month of Asarh. "

    One of Vakreshvara Pandit's family members was the poet Shri Govinda dev of Utkala, who is known as an Oriyan.   In the year 17, Gaur Era, he compiled a scripture in the Orissan language named "Shri Gaura Krishnodaya."   This book has since been published by the great acarya  of the Gaudiya Sampradaya, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada, who recently entered into the eternal pastimes of the Lord.  In Gaura Krishnodaya Govinda Das describes the life of Vakreshvara Pandit. There are many disciples of Vakreshvara Pandit and they are known as Gaudiya Vaishnavas although they are from Orissa.

    Vrindavan Das Thakura has described the great celebration of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sankirtan rasa in his Caitanya Bhagavata.  There he mentions Vakreshvara Pandit's participation in Mahaprabhu's sankirtan-lila as follows:

    "To bless all souls with good fortune, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared on this earth in an enchanting form, which was like a doll of gold. To awaken the sleeping souls of the age of Kali, he came to distribute the nectar of the holy name of Krishna. The Lord descended to this earth in the midst of his eternal associates: Nityananda, Advaita Acarya, Gadadhara, and all His pure devotees.  When Caitanya came, the khol and kartals sounded like the thunder of the clouds within the temple of the Lord.  Absorbed in different moods of ecstatic love, Sri Caitanya would order everyone to chant the holy name of Krishna, saying, "bolo Haribol!" Raising his arms to the sky, the Son of Sachi  would dance in ecstasy.  At that time the beautiful Ramai and Shri Raghunandan also danced.  Srivasa Thakura and Haridas Thakura as well as Vakreshvara Pandit, Dvija Haridas, and Shankara Pandit also danced.  In this way, again and again glorifying their activities within this world, floating on the ocean of ecstasy churned by them, Vrindavana Das sings this Caitanya Bhagavata.

    At the time of Rathayatra in Jagannatha Puri,  there were four sampradayas.  In their midst Vakreshavara Pandit initiated a new  sampradaya—of dancing.  Shri Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami writes of the glories of Vakreshvara Pandit:

    "Vakreshvara Pandit was the fifth branch of the Caitanya tree.  He was a very dear servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.  Once in the house of Srivasa Thakura he danced with constant ecstasy for seventy-two hours.  Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally sang while Vakreshvara Pandit danced, and thus Vakreshvara Pandit fell at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya and said, "O you whose face is as beautiful as the full moon; please give me 10,000 Gandharvas.  Let them sing as I dance, and then I will be greatly happy."  The Lord replied, "I have only one wing like you, but if I had another, certainly I could fly like a bird."

[This article and more information at http://stephenknapp.info]

horizontal rule

[Home page] [Back to Biographies of Saints and Sages list]