Srivasa Pandita’s Closeness to Lord Chaitanya

Among the many auspicious events listed on our Vaishnava calendar in this issue is the appearance day of Srila Srivasa Pandita on March 15. It is fitting that his appearance day occurs only eight days after Gaura Purnima, the appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, as Srivasa Pandita is one of Lord Chaitanya’s closest associates.

He closeness can be seen in several ways, one being his position as a member of the group known as the Panca-tattva (“five eternal truths”), made up of Lord Chaitanya and His four chief associates: Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Gadadhara Pandita, and Srivasa Pandita (also known as Srivasa Thakura). Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Absolute Truth, Krishna Himself, the source of all other truths. Nityananda Prabhu, who is Lord Balarama, represents Krishna’s prakasha-tattva, or direct expansions, of which Balarama is the first. Sri Advaita Acharya, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, represents the avatara-tattva, since all of Krishna’s avatars appear through the agency of Krishna’s Vishnu expansions involved with the material world.

Gadadhara Pandita, identified by pure, liberated followers of Lord Chaitanya as Srimati Radharani Herself, represents the shakti-tattva, specifically Lord Krishna’s svarupa-shakti, or internal energy. Finally, Srivasa Pandita represents the pure devotees within the jiva-tattva, the Lord’s energy comprising the infinitesimal jiva souls – all of us.

As the sun and the sunshine may be considered one entity, Lord Chaitanya and the other members of the Panca-tattva may also be considered one entity. This concept therefore indicates Srivasa Pandita’s ontological closeness to Lord Chaitanya.

Srivasa was also close to Lord Chaitanya in that they were neighbors in Mayapur. Srivasa and his wife, Malini Devi, watched Lord Chaitanya grow up. They witnessed and were involved in many of the transcendental childhood pastimes of Nimai, as He was known in His youth.

It can be said that the most important aspect of Srivasa Pandita’s closeness to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was his devotional intimacy with the Lord, born of his pure love for Him. Even before Lord Chaitanya’s advent, Srivasa and his three brothers would sing Krishna’s names, worship the deity of Krishna, and perform other kinds of devotional service. With Advaita Acharya, they prayed for Krishna Himself to descend to deliver the fallen souls of the present age.

Lord Chaitanya began His mission at Srivasa Pandita’s home by holding all-night kirtanas in the courtyard every night for one year. The Lord was accompanied by some of His eternal associates who had descended from the spiritual world to assist Him. The privilege of attending these first kirtanas was limited to a small group of pure devotees, but soon Krishna’s holy names were heard throughout the nearby towns and villages.

Srivasa Pandita is considered an incarnation of Narada Muni, a prominent devotee of Lord Krishna who appears numerous times in the pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam. As Srivasa Pandita, he plays a major role in Sri Chaitanya-bhagavata, the biography of Lord Chaitanya written by Vrindavana Dasa Thakura, whose mother, Narayani Devi, was Srivasa Pandita’s niece.

One unique feature of Srivasa’s faith and devotion was that he never made any effort to support himself or his dependents, but because of his full dedication to Lord Chaitanya and His mission, the Lord – by His inconceivable power – provided for all of Srivasa’s needs.

– Nagaraja Dasa