Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur
Srimad Vrndavan dasa Thakura’s mother’s name was Sri Narayani Devi. Narayani Devi was the daughter of Srivas Thakura’s brother. After the disappeareance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srivas Thakura went to live in Kumar Hatta. Srivasa Thakura had three brothers: Sripati, Srirama and Srinidhi. He also had one son, but at a young age, his son passed away, returning to the Lord’s supreme abode.
Srivasa Thakura had previously lived in Sri Hatta, but because he wanted the association of devotees he went to live on the banks of the Ganges in Nabadwip. When Mahaprabhu revealed his divinity in the house of Srivasa, showing his true self to the assembled devotees there, Narayani devi was only a four year old girl. In the Caitanya Bhagavata it is written:
“The golden moon, Sri Gauranga, revealed himself as the soul of all souls. At that time he ordered Narayani to chant the name of Krishna. Although she was only four years old she became mad with love of God. And crying, “O Krishna!” she swooned in ecstasy. As she laid on the ground in a trance of bliss, her eyes filled with tears, overwhelmed with divine love.”
Narayani Devi’s son was Vrindavana Das Thakura. In the Caitanya Bhagavata he has written of how Narayani was the object of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s affection:
“As a result of her great piety, Narayani would get whatever remnants the Lord might leave after eating. Although she was only an unschooled little girl, the Lord would favor Srivas Thakur’s niece by giving her the leftovers of food touched by His holy lips.”
Indeed it was by the mercy of the Lord’s prasada that Vrindavan dasa Thakura took birth in the womb of Narayani as the incarnation of Vyasa. Sri Gauranga and Sri Nityananda were the very life and soul of Vrindavana dasa Thakura. About the father of Vrindavana dasa Thakrua little is mentioned any;where. Apart from his relationship with Narayani, Vrinavana, not much is known of Vrindavan das Thakura’s ancestry.
In his commentary on the Caitanya Bhagavata, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura: “At the ancestral home of Malini-devi [the wife of Srivasa Thakura] Vrindavana dasa played as a small boy growing up. There he was nourished and cared after just like a valuable gem.”
One may find many facts regarding the life of Vrindavana Dasa by going to Mamagachi, the village where Sri Narayani’s wedding took place. Soon thereafter, in Magagachi, while Vrindavana dasa was still within the womb Narayani became a widow. In the small room of a poor brahmana, she lived in great poverty and hardship as a maidservant in the house of Vasudeva Dutt. Vrindavana Dasa Thakura was born, and soon began his studies. Vrindavana Dasa Thakura took birth four years after Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted sannyasa. When Mahaprabhu had disappeared from this world and entered into his aprakrita-lila, Vrindavana Das was barely twenty years old.
Soon thereafter, Vrindavan Das Thakura accepted initiation from Sri Nityananda Prabhu. He is Nityananda’s eternal servant. Sri Vrindavana Dasa Thakura went with Sri Jahnava-devi to the great festival in Kheturi gram. The poet Sri Krishna das Kaviraja Goswami writes of the endless glories of Vrindavan das Thakura:
“Krishna’s life was written in the Bhagavata of Vyasa. The Vedavyasa for Sri Caitanya was Vrindavana Dasa. Vrindavan das has called his book the “Caitanya Mangala”. Whoever hears his book no grave misfortunes shall befall. Who reads it knows the glories of Caitanya and Nitai. And knows what Krishna-bhakti is, and how it is, and why. His book contains the essence of the holy Bhagavata. And shows what Krishna-Bhakti is and what Bhakti is not. An atheist who hears the Thakura’s words will soon relent. And join the ranks of saintly men whose souls are heavensent. No ordinary man can sing of God as he has sung: The Lord Himself has spoken through the Thakur’s holy tongue. I bow a million times before the holy lotus feet of Sri Vrindavan das, whose verses are so sweet that one who reads them shall be freed from this dark, mortal earth; I bow a million times before the place where he took birth.”
In her childhood, Narayani Devi, neice of Srivasa Pandit, became mad with love of God upon receiving the mercy of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Later she gave birth to Vrndavana Dasa, who was the last disciple of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. On his guru’s order he wrote Sri Caitanya Bhagavata.
It is practically a law among Vaisnava writers like Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Krishna Dasa Kaviraja, and Vrndavana Dasa Thakura to always keep themselves in the background. They never mention anything about their family lineage or personal history. The authors of the best written and most relishable verses collected in Sri Rupa Gosvami’sPadyavali remain unknown.
During the sixteenth century, entire books of exceptional transcendental prose and poetry were penned by prideless Vaisnavas preferring to remain anonymous. Feeling utmost humility, such Vaisnava writers express themselves only in relation to their preceptors. Krishna Dasa Kaviraja glorifies his gurus at the end of each chapter of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta: sri rupa raghunatha-pade yara asa, caitanya caritamrta kahe krsnadasa.
“Praying at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, always desiring their mercy, I, Krishna Dasa, narrate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, following in their footsteps.”
Srila Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Gosvami shows his supreme homage and gratitude by honoring Vrndavana Dasa Thakura with the appelation “Vyasa” in the Caitanya-caritamrta Antya20.82:
“Vrndavana Dasa Thakura is Lord Nityananda’s favorite devotee. And therefore he is the original Vyasadeva in describing the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.” As Srila Vyasadeva told Sri Krishna’s pastimes in Bhagavatam and other Puranas, Srila Vrndavana Dasa Thakura described Caitanya lila in Caitanya Bhagavata.
The humble heart of Krishna Dasa Kaviraja pours out more praises of Vrndavana Dasa Thakura: “Hearing Caitanya Bhagavata destroys all misfortune. By reading Caitanya Bhagavataone will understand the glories of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda. And he will attain the highest perfection of knowledge—pure love of Krishna.
“Since such a wonderful book could not be written by a human being, it seems that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself has spoken it through the mouth of Srila Vrndavana Dasa Thakura. I offer millions of respectful obeisances to the lotus feet of Vrndavana Dasa Thakura. By compiling such a valuable book he has delivered everyone from the cycle of birth and death.”(Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 8.33-42)
At Mamagacchi in Modadrumadvipa (Navadvipa), Vrndavana Dasa Thakura establised Deities of Nitai-Gauranga and Sri Jagannatha. He lived there as a celibate and worshiped his beloved Deities. Vrndavana Dasa Thakura had many disciples including Gopinatha Brahmacari, a descendent of Sri Kesava Bharati.
In Krishna’s pastimes Vrndavana Dasa Thakura is Srila Vyasadeva. His samadhi is in the 64 Samadhis Area of Vrindavana.