Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur is the original vyasadeva of Mahaprabhu’s lila. His spiritual master was none other than Lord Nityananda, the adi Guru Himself. Being empowered by his Guru, Srila Vrindavan das, has narrated an amazing heart-rendering biographical account of Lord Caitanya’s divine mood and His exalted pastimes, in his composition Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, which is today one of the most revered books of our Gaudiya Sampradaya.
Krishna-lila bhagavate kahe vedavyasa
Caitanya-lilara vyasa – vrindavan dasa
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi, 8.34)
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura (founder acharya of the Gaudiya Mathas) , has greatly glorified Srila Vrindavana Das in his Caitanya Bhagavata purports. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta writes that Srila Vrindavan das Thakur’s love and devotion towards his spiritual master Nityananda prabhu is simply incomparable. He mentions how Vrindavan Das was a topmost preacher of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy and how he constantly engaged himself with all his mind, body and words, in preaching the glories of the Vaishnava acharyas. A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (founder acharya of ISKCON) has also sung great glories of this towering personality. In one of the initiation lectures in boston, prabhupada mentions how Vrindavan Das Thakur is one of the great acharyas of our Gaudiya sampradaya, and how we should all pray for his causeless mercy.
Sri Kavi karnapura reveals in his Gaura ganoddesha dipika that :
Srila Vedavyasa incarnated as Vrindavan Das Thakur in Lord Caitanya’s pastimes. Krishna’s friend Kusumapida also entered into him for special purposes.
(‘The Gaudiya treasures of Bengal’ has covered the birth and the early pastimes of Nityananda prabhu in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Ekachakra Dham – Birthplace of Lord Nityananda’.This article has been based upon the writings of Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur in his book ‘Sri Nityananda Caritamrta’).
Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur had reached his youth at a time, when there was a vacuum, in the whole of the Gaudiya Vaishnava community.The Lord and His associates had already disappeared by then ,after having concluded their pastimes.It was a time when the smarta brahmanas were on the rise. A smarta brahmana is one who is only interested in material gains, and considers the karma kanda ,instead of the Bhakti Kanda section of the Vedas, to be the highest truth.These smartas tried various ways and means to discredit the essence of pure devotional service. Spreading hatred and passing derogatory remarks about lord Nityananda, preaching wrong philosophies that contradict Vaishnavism, spreading false rumours about Vrindavan Das Thakur and his family, were some of their many dirty tricks. By this time the smartas and the pseudo devotees had already taken control of many of the sacred pastime places. In some places they even began worshipping Maa kali keeping her on the same pedestal as the Supreme Lord. But inspite of their several attempts and personal attacks, these people were utterly unsuccessful in discouraging Srila Vrindavan Das, who being empowered by the mercy of his Guru, continued serving the Lord and His devotees enthusiastically.Those who read and relish Sri Caitanya Bhagavata will surely understand how the Thakura was instrumental in preserving the timeless teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the essence of Bhakti, at a time when pure devotional service was partly covered by the dense cloud of philosophical deviations.
Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur:
Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur was born on the Krishna-Dwadashi tithi in the month of Vaisakha (April/May) , around the year 1507 AD at Mamgachi,situated in the island of Modadrumadvipa (Navadvipa) . Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur appeared a few years after Lord Caitanya had accepted His Sannyasa initiation. His father was a brahmin named Vaikunthanatha, whose ancestors had originally hailed from Srihatta (Sylhet).The Thakura’s mother was Narayani Devi,who was the niece of Srivasa Pandita (she was Nalina pandita’s daughter). Srila Vrindavan Das has not mentioned much about his father in any of his writings. It might be due to the reason that his father had passed away while he was still in Narayani devi’s womb. Some others say, that he made no mention of his father anywhere as his father had never fully surrendered himself unto the lotus feet of the Lord.
Malini devi , wife of Srivasa Pandita, had her ancestral home here at Mamgachi. Sri Vaikunthanatha was a descendent of her family. Hence after marriage, Srimati Narayani devi had moved over to Mamgachi, to reside with her in-laws, in Malini devi’s ancestral home. In course of time, Narayani Devi gave birth to the great Vaishnava Acharya Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur. Srimati Malini devi’s ancestral property is today renowned as the sripat of Srila Vrindavan das and over here the worshipable Gaura-Nitai deities of the Thakura are being diligently worshipped till this day.
Srimati Narayani devi, the Thakura’s mother, was showered with special mercy by Lord Caitanya while she was just a little child. Once while Sri Gaurasundara was manifesting His divine pastimes at Srivasa Angana, He ordered little Narayani, who was then just four years old, to chant the holy name of Lord Krishna and cry in ecstasy. Receiving the Lord’s mercy, little Narayani immediately chanted the holy names and fainted onto the ground, being overwhelmed with ecstatic emotions. Tears of love streamed down her eyes, and flooded the ground.The pastime has been very nicely captured by Srila Vrindavan Das in Caitanya Bhagavata –
Sarva-Bhuta antaryami Sri Gauranga Chand
Agnya kaila ‘Narayani Krishna bali kand’
Chari batsarer sei unmatta carita
‘Ha Krishna’ baliya matra parila bhumita
Anga bahi pare dhara prithibira tal-e
Paripurna haila sthala nayaner jal-e
(Sri Caitanya Bhagavata)
Sri Kavi Karnapura reveals in Gaura Gannodesha Dipika that Kilimbika, the sister of Krishna’s nurse – Ambika, appeared as Narayani devi in Gaura lila.She is an eternal associate of the Lord.
Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur lived in Mamgachi till he reached Pauganda (age of ten). He studied over here and was nourished and raised up like a little gem. At the age of sixteen, he was initiated by Lord Nityananda. In course of time, he was ordered by Nityananda Prabhu, to settle down here at Denur, a village in the Monteswar Block of the Bardhaman District. It was here at Denur, that our Thakura had composed the sublime Caitanya Bhagavata.‘The Gaudiya treasures of Bengal’ considers itself exceedingly fortunate to have visited both Mamgachi and Denur and to have had an opportunity to pray to our dear Vrindavan Das Thakur at his sacred pastime places.Our visit to Mamgachi is covered in a different article entitled – ‘Birthplace of Srila Vrindavana Das Thakur, Mamgachi, Navadvipa (Modadrumadvipa)’.
Sri Vrindavan Das arrives in Denur:
There once lived a person named Ramhari Chakraborty, who was a landlord here at Denur. He had accepted Lord Nityananda as his Guru and contemplated upon His captivating form ,day and night. His only desire was to serve the lotus feet of Doyal Nitai.
On one auspicious day, Sri Ramhari noticed a lot of devotees approaching his village. Some of them wore blue dhotis, some wore white while others adorned saffron. As the colorful crowd drew nearer, Ramhari realized ,to his surprise, that Sri Nityananda prabhu was Himself present among them. Ramhari fell down like a rod at the lotus feet of his Guru and wept tears of joy. He began to ponder on what pious deed he had previously performed, to live to see this day. Ramhari invited Sri Nityananda and all the devotees to accept prasadam at his residence. But Nityananda prabhu explained that the huge number of devotees could not be all accommodated at Ramhari’s house.Hence He ordered Ramhari to bring some rice and lentils, so that the devotees could cook some khichdi prasadam and honor it over there itself.
After Sri Nityananda had accepted His Prasadam, He asked his servitor Srila Vrindavan Das, for some haritaki fruit (a digestive mouth freshner that is commonly taken after meals). Immediately Sri Vrindavan das thakur took it out of his dhoti and offered it to Lord Nityananda. However Nityananda Prabhu was surprised at how Srila Vrindavan fetched it so quickly and inquired about it. Sri Vrindavan das then clarified that He had kept it with him since morning, as he knew that Lord Nityananda would require it after taking his lunch.On hearing this, Sri Nityananda prabhu, seemed to get angry at Vrindavan das’ habit of accumulating and saving things for a later time. Lord Nityananda stressed that a devotee, especially those who are renounced, should completely depend on Krishna’s mercy, and should not save for the future. Lord Nityananda then rebuked Srila Vrindavan Das and ordered him to stay back at Denur and perform his bhajana over here.Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur cried piteously as he couldn’t bear the thought of separating from his beloved spiritual master. But accepting Nityananda prabhu’s instructions as his very heart and soul, and understanding the desire of the Lord, Srila Vrindavan Das stayed back at Denur.
Though apparently it might seem to one ,that lord Nityananda had punished Sri Vrindavan Das Thakur, instead He had actually blessed him in disguise. Sri Vrindavan Das was one of His dearest disciples whom He had empowered to preach and narrate the heart-melting pastimes of Lord Caitanya. Lord Nityananda wanted His dear disciples to assist Him in carrying out Lord Caitanya’s orders to preach all over Bengal. Hence He desired Srila Vrindavan das to stay back and preach ,making Denur his headquarters. Sri Nityananda’s anger was thus a shower of His causeless mercy. The Haritaki fruit which Sri Nityananda chewed and threw to the ground in Denur ,blossomed into a beautiful tree which exists here even today. Lord Nityananda’s lotus footprints are preserved just beside the Haritaki tree. ’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself supremely fortunate to have been able to take their blissful darsana.
Srila Vrindavan Das’ sripat, Denur:
Denur is a beautiful village, about an hour’s ride from katwa.The people here are very friendly and cooperative. When we, from ‘The Gaudiya treasures of Bengal’, arrived here at Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur’s sripat, in Denur, it was well past 2 pm, and we were yet to take our lunch. The local devotees here kindly arranged for our prasadam and showed us around the sacred place. We were really moved by their sense of hospitality. Of Course there is nothing so surprising in this, as these devotees are not ordinary .They have been empowered to serve the exalted dham of Denur, the sripat of none other than Sri Vrindavan Das Thakur, the Vyasa of Caitanya lila.
Taking Sri Nityananda’s instructions as his heart and soul, Srila Vrindavan das began residing here at Denur. His worshipable deities are preserved and daily served here with due diligence.
The place where Sri Vrindavan das Thakur sat down and composed his Caitanya Bhagavata still exists. The original handwritten manuscript of Sri Caitanya bhagavata is also carefully preserved here at Denur.The devotees are primarily Grihasthas who take care of the worship and maintenance of the temple.However it was quite heartbreaking to witness the temple in such a bad shape. The temple is in an urgent need of some financial assistance.
Srila Krishnadas Kaviraja Goswami, the composer of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, another revered biography of Lord Caitanya, has mentioned how it is simply impossible for a mere human to compose something as heart melting and purifying as Caitanya Bhagavata (manusye racite nare aiche grantha dhanya…) .He proclaims that if someone ,even if he is a great atheist, carefully hears Sri Caitanya Bhagavata (previously known as Caitanya Mangala),he shall at once be transformed into a great Vaishnava.
Caitanya-mangala shune yadi pasandi, yavana
seha maha vaishnava haya tataksana
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi, 8.38)
Sri Vrindavan Das reveals that Lord Nityananda Himself had empowered him to compose Sri Caitanya Bhagavata and by His causeless mercy the pastimes of the lord became spontaneously manifested in his heart.
Just behind Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur’s sripat is the sripat of Keshava Bharati, who was also a resident of Denur. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had accepted sannyasa initiation from him at Katwa.In his house ,at denur, we found beautiful deities of Sri Sri Radha and krishna and a small deity of himself, which the local devotees worship daily.
We humbly request the devotees to visit Denur and take shelter of this sacred dham. We also request them to serve and associate with its fortunate residents, in order to evoke the mercy of our exalted acharyas.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this exalted abode of Denur. We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Vrindavan Das that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek his blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
On an ending note:
‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has been striving to seek shelter of such great personalities throughout its spiritual journey. It is only with this objective of receiving their mercy and sharing it with others, that we have set out from our homes, trying to reveal to the world the mood and esoteric pastimes of these great men.The life and teachings, of these stalwarts inspire us to imbibe the same values and principles in our own lives and we pray that they mercifully bless us, so that we may forever contemplate upon their blissful pastimes.
We leave you with a heart melting bengali composition of Vrindavan Das Thakur. In order to avoid making this article any longer, we have not posted below its english translation.One interested may later look up for its translation in the Vaishnava Song Book.
Nace re Nace re Nitai Gaur Guna Maniya
nace re nace re nitai gaur guna maniya
nace re nace re nitai gaur guna maniya
(nace re nace re nitai gaur dvija maniya)
bame priya gadadhara, srivasa advaita bara,
parisada taragana jinya
baje khola karatala, madhura sangita bhala,
gagana bhorilo haridhvaniya
candana carcita gay, phagu bindu bindu tay,
vanamala dole bhalo boliya
gale subhra upavita, rupa koti kama jita,
carane nupura ranaraniya
dui bhai naci jay, sahacara gana gay,
gadadhara ange pore dhuliya
puruba rabhasa lila, ebe pahu prakasila,
sei brindaban ei nadiya
bihare gangatire, sei dhira samire,
Vrndavana das kohe janiya
What to See:
- Sripat of Sri Vrindavan das Thakur
- Where Sri Vrindavan das Thakur sat and composed Sri Caitanya Bhagavata.
- Sri Vrindavan das Thakur’s worshipable deities.
- His original handwritten Caitanya Bhagavata manuscript.
- Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s lotus footprints, just outside the temple.
- The Haritaki tree, which had blossomed from the Haritaki fruit, That lord Nitai chewed.
- Sri keshava Bharati’s sripat.
How to Reach:
You can take a train from Howrah/sealdah station to reach the Katwa junction. The journey takes around 3.5 hours. On reaching there, you can book a cab and reach Denur. It is a 1.5 hours ride from katwa. Denur is in Monteswar Block in Bardhaman District of West Bengal. Denur is also very near to a place called Memari. There are direct bus services/trains available from kolkata to Memari. Hence you can directly travel to Memari from kolkata, and then book a cab to visit Denur.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay at Hotel Srabani in Katwa which is owned and governed by the local municipality. Or else one can also choose to stay in the town of Bardhaman, where one can put up at any of its good hotels (like Sinclairs tourist resort, etc).
These places are roughly at a distance of 50 Kms from the Sripat of Srila Vrindavan das. So it is almost a 1.5 hr journey from the town of Katwa / Bardhaman to our destination at Monteswar. Denur is quite a remote place and there are not many good accomodation options here. Hence it is recommended that one stay at Bardhaman or Katwa and then hire a cab to travel to this place.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Bardhaman / Katwa
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)