Kavi Karnapura mentions in Sri Gaura Gannoddesha dipika, that Sri Gaudidasa Pandita was the incarnation of the cowherd boy Subala, an intimate friend of Sri Krishna and Balarama in Vrindavana.
Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami greatly glorifies Sri Gaudidasa in his Caitanya Caritamrta stating that Sri Gaudidasa was an emblem of devotional service and had the potency to receive and deliver ecstatic love of God to one and all (..Krishna prema dite nite dhare maha-shakti..). It is exclaimed that Sri Gaudidasa had sacrificed everything for the service of Lord Nityananda ,even the fellowship of his own family. He was one of the primary associates to have assisted Lord Nitai manifest His magnanimous pastimes.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura gives us some details of Gaudidasa Pandita’s family in his anubhashya. It is mentioned that initially he used to reside in the village of Saligrama (a place not very far from Navadvipa) , and later he had shifted to the town of Ambika Kalna. Sri Gaudidasa was very close to and enjoyed the patronage of King Krishna das, the son of Harihoda. Sri Gaudidasa Pandita’s father was Sri Kamsari Mishra and his mother’s name was Srimati Kamala devi. He had five brothers – Damodara, Jagannatha, Suryadasa, Krishnadasa, and Nrsimha Caitanya. The elder brother of Gaudidasa pandita, Sri Suryadasa, held an important post for the king of Bengal and was hence awarded with the title ‘Sarkhel’ (commander). Later the two daughters of Suryadasa Sarkel, Srimati Vasudha and Jahnava, got married to Lord Nityananda. The ‘Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered this wonderful marriage pastime in a separate article entitled – ‘Lord Nityananda’s marriage with Srimati Jahnava and Vasudha, Ambika Kalna’
Sri Gaudidasa’s Sripat at Kalna, houses his worshipable mesmerizing Gaura-Nitai deities. At this place, is also worshipped a copy of Bhagavad Gita, that was supposedly handwritten by Lord Caitanya and later gifted to Sri Gaudidasa. One visiting the temple can also take darsana of an oar that Mahaprabhu had used to cross over the Ganges while travelling to meet Gaudidasa at Kalna.According to the hearsay, Sriman Mahaprabhu had handed it over to Gaudidasa, and asked him to similarly use it to help the fallen souls cross over the ocean of material existence.We shall try to narrate in this article a few of the innumerable pastimes that had taken place over the years at Sri Gaudidasa’s sripat. We seek the mercy of this great personality in order to pen a few lines in his glorification.
Meeting between Lord Caitanya and Gaudidasa Pandita :
Adjacent to the Sripat of Sri Gaudiasa pandita, is a big tamarind tree, under which Lord Caitanya along with Vasudeva Ghosh ,had once met Sri Gaudidasa. This tree has been over here since then and is a revered worshipable site for all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.Underneath this tree, the lotus footprint of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has been carefully preserved till this day. An amazing thing to note is that all the portions of this sacred tamarind tree, including its leaves and branches, point downwards.A local devotee explained that the tree is very special and the downward projection of its parts demonstrates its humility, which is an ornament of the Vaishnavas.
During this meeting that took place 500 years back, Lord Caitanya had handed over to Gaudidasa, an oar that He had used to cross over the Ganges. Sriman Mahaprabhu had handed it over to Gaudidasa, and asked him to similarly use it to help the fallen souls cross over the ocean of material existence.The oar is preserved and worshipped at Sri Gaudidasa’s Sripat till this day.
Mahaprabhu sees Srimati Radharani in His own reflection :
During one of Lord Caitanya’s visits to Kalna, He was immensely overwhelmed with the mood of Srimati Radharani. Understanding Mahaprabhu’s bhava (mood), Sri Gaudidasa had then brought Him upon the bank of a river. When the Lord entered its waters, he could observe His own reflection or the reflection of His own mood as Srimati Radhika.
Lord Caitanya and Nityananda manifest as Gaudidasa’s deities :
The Lord ,after having decided to accept sannyasa, had once travelled to Kalna in order to take His leave from Sri Gaudidasa Pandita. Nityananda prabhu had accompanied the Lord in His visit. Gaudidasa Pandita ,was utterly shocked to hear the news of the Lord’s sannyasa, and could not even bear the thought of separating from Him.Weeping bitterly he requested the two brothers to remain at his house forever. Sri Gaudidasa remarked that it would not be possible for him to maintain his life if he was separated from his beloved Gaura Nitai. He requested them again and again not to abandon him.Seeing the anxiety of Sri Gaudidasa, the Lord then promised that the two brothers , Sri Gauranga and Nityananda, shall eternally reside at his home. Saying thus, the two brothers manifested themselves into two perfect deity forms, that resembled them in all aspects. Thus, the two of them manifested into four. Their lordships were thus captured by the selfless love of Gaudidasa Pandita who had imprisoned them in his temple of divine love. Sri Gaudidasa became overwhelmed with ecstasy and cried tears of joy.In this way, the two Lords, in their replica form, stayed back at the house of Gaudidasa, enabling him to render them service to his heart’s delight.
Gauranga and Nityananda enter the heart of Hridaya Caitanya :
Sri Gaudidasa Pandita had a dear disciple named Hridaya Caitanya (his previous name was Hridaya Ananda). Hridaya Caitanya used to reside with his Guru at ambika Kalna and serve him with all his heart. Sri Hridaya Caitanya was none other than the incarnation of Sudhira sakhi in Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes. Sri Hridaya Caitanya is renowned all over the three worlds as the spiritual master of Sri Syamananda Pandita. Sri Syamananda was a great stalwart vaishnava and an empowered incarnation who had widely preached the name,fame and glories of Lord Krishna. The family of disciples originating in his line are renowned today as ‘Syamananda Parivar’ and they are very prominent in Orissa, and southern parts of Bengal. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has written in detail about Sri Syamananda Prabhu’s bhajana kutira and samadhi in a separate article entitled – ‘Sri Syamananda Pandita’s Bhajana Kutira & Samadhi , Kanupur (Near Balasore)’ .
By the order of Gaudidasa Pandita, Sri Hridaya Caitanya once organized a grand festival on the bank of the Ganges, at Kalna. All the Vaishnavas from the surrounding areas, assembled and participated in this festival.Being unable to hold themselves back, the deities of Sri Gauranga and Nityananda left the temple of Gaudidasa, and arrived at the bank of the Ganges as well, in order to participate in this wonderful event. Meanwhile, the priest, on entering the temple, found the altar to be empty and the deities missing.So he immediately went and reported this to Gaudidasa pandita. The priest, Bodo Gangadasa, and Sri Gaudidasa could both understand that the Lord has manifested this pastime in order to provide pleasure to Hridaya Caitanya. Thus they became very much pleased internally. However to prevent the deities from getting away, Sri Gaudidasa pandita took a big stick in his hand and set out for the place where the kirtan festival was going on. Arriving at the bank of the Ganges, he could find the two brothers, Gauranga and Nityananda, dancing in ecstasy. But seeing Gaudidasa Pandita,and perceiving his angry mood, the two brothers then immediately fled and entered the heart of Hridaya Caitanya. Seeing this wonder with his own eyes, Sri Gaudidasa was overwhelmed with the love of God. He embraced his dear disciple, and greatly glorified him as the fortunate one within whose heart resided Lord Caitanya, the supreme Personality of Godhead. From that day onwards, his dear disciple (Hridaya Ananda) became renowned as ‘Hridaya Caitanya’ (Hridaya – Heart ; Caitanya – Caitanya Mahaprabhu).
Even till this day, the Gaura-Nitai deities of Gaudidasa Pandita at Kalna, only provide their ‘Jhalak Darsana’ (the darsana lasts only a few seconds) to the devotees. Throughout the darsana time, the pujari opens and closes the altar curtains only in brief intervals. This is done in order to prevent the deities from running away like they did 500 years back.
On an ending note :
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 transcendental abode of Ambika Kalna.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 Gaudidasa Pandita that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Gaura Nitai 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.
What to See:
- The mesmerizing deities of Sri Gauranga and Nityananda who were once worshipped by Sri Gaudidasa pandita.
- Along with these deities are also worshipped enchanting deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Maharani, Radha Govinda jiu along with Lalita ,Visakha and Garuda. Beautiful deities of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman are also worshipped at this temple. A beautiful deity form of Gaudidasa Pandita is also worshipped here.
- The Bhagavad Gita that was handwritten by Lord Caitanya.
- The oar that Mahaprabhu had once used to cross over the Ganges and reach the town of kalna.He had subsequently gifted it to Sri Gaudidasa.
- Adjacent to the Sripat of Sri Gaudiasa pandita, is a big tamarind tree, under which Lord Caitanya along with Vasudeva Ghosh ,had once upon a time, met Sri Gaudidasa. Underneath this tree, the lotus footprint of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has been carefully preserved till this day.
We are not posting any pictures of the deities in this article as the devotees of the temple had strictly forbidden any photography of the temple altar. We do not wish to transgress their rules and we accept it as the desire of the Lord as well.
How to Reach:
The town of Ambika Kalna is well connected to Kolkata via local trains.One may board a train from the howrah station and reach Kalna within 3.5 hours. Reaching Kalna, one needs to book a cab/ Auto to directly reach the temple of Sri Gaudidasa pandita. This place is famous for its Jhalak darsana. We, from ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ ,however, had travelled to kalna, while visiting Sri Mayapur. We had booked a cab from the ‘Gauranga Travels’ (office within Iskcon Mayapur premises) ,which then carried us to this ancient place. The journey from Mayapur to Kalna takes about 1.5 hours.
The town of Ambika kalna is also sometimes referred to as the temple town of Bengal as it is graced with several Terracotta temples, that exhibit a very high degree of architectural skill. The town has derived its name from Maa Ambika, a deity of goddess Kali, who is worshipped over here.The town has numerous historical monuments such as the Rajbari (the palace) and the 108 Shiva temples. Ambika Kalna is also very famous for its handwoven fabrics and is a major exporter of Tangail and gorgeous Jamdani sarees.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay in any of the prominent hotels of Kalna like Hotel Priyadarshini, etc. Or else one can also choose to stay in any of the Gaudiya Mathas in Navadvipa or at Iskcon Mayapur where one can also avail nice prasadam. Kalna is hardly an hour’s ride from Navadvipa.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Kalna
(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)