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Gauri Das Pandit
Shrila Krishna Das Kaviraj Gosvami, in describing the followers of Nityananda, has praised Gauri das Pandit in this way:
"Gauri das Pandit's intense and very powerful love in devotional service especially empowered him with the greatest potency to deliver, as well as to receive, love of Krishna. He completely surrendered himself along with his caste distinction, his religious dictates and even the fellowship of his own family, at the lotus feet of Nityananda Prabhu. Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu were the Lords of his life."
His father's name was Shri Kamsari Misra and his mother's name, Shri Kamala Debi. Together they had six sons: Damodar, Jagannath, Surja das, Gauri das, Krishna das and Nrsimha Chaitanya. Amongst the twelve cowherd boys of Braj, Gauri das was Subal Sakha.
Gauri das Pandit's temple is located across the Ganges from Santipur, in a small town called Ambika Kalna, which is within the present district of Barddhaman. His most worshipful Deities, Shri Shri GauraNityananda, Who are famous as the first manifested Deities of NitaiGaurachandra on this planet, are still residing there in all Their splendour.
There is a railway station at Ambika Kalna on the Howrah-Nabadwip rail line, four stations south of Nabadwip. One should proceed from the railway station by rickshaw to Mahaprabhu Mandir. In the temple is an old copy of the Bhagavad gita written on palm leaves, which is supposed to have been written by the hand of Mahaprabhu Himself. The sevaits have also nicely preserved an oar from a boat, which has an interesting story behind it.
One day, the two Lords Chaitanya and Nityananda came by boat from Hari Nodigram to Kalna, rowing the boat there Themselves. Lord Chaitanya kept the oar in His hand as He walked along with Nityananda towards a large tamarind tree near Gauri das's house. When Gauri das came there and found his two Lords seated there underneath that tamarind tree Lord Chaitanya handed him the oar, saying, "This you can use to ferry all the living entities across the ocean of material existence." This tamarind tree is also still present there in front of Gauri das's house.
Gauri das Pandit's older brother, Surja das Sarkhela, had two daughters, Shri Vasudha and Jahnava Debi, who were given in marriage to Nityananda Prabhu.
Near the conclusion of His Nabadwip pastimes, when Mahaprabhu desired to accept sannyasa, He came to Kalna to bid farewell to Gauri das. At that time Gauri das became extremely afflicted by separation. Hereafter is a nice song which describes what occurred at that time.
`In the Thakur Pandit's house, Lord Gauranga was dancing ecstatically, revolving around and around, while Lord Nityananda chanted "Hari! Hari!" Gauri das, however, was crying very piteously and incessantly.
He fell at the Lord's feet and begged Him, "Please don't ever go away from here! Just honour this one request-, stay here in Ambikanagar! This is my last submission at Your lotus feet. If You go away, surely I'll die.
Don't try to trick me like You did the gopis, by delivering some high philosophy about Your Bhavamurti (or any other such tall talks). I must keep You here in such a way that I can see You and serve You. You Two Brothers just stay here with me; then everyone will become liberated. Again I am petitioning You, don't leave me Gaur Hari! Then I'll know that You are the deliverers of the fallen."
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu replied, "Gauri das! Give up this idea. You know that what you are asking is beyond the realm of possibility. You can just serve My Deity form, for I am personally present in that Form also. You should know this to be a fact. Just accept what I am telling you as the truth."
Hearing this, Gauri das simply let out a deep sigh and continued to cry piteously. Again the Two Brothers tried to console him but his heart refused to be pacified.
"Dina Krishna das is praying at the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya, that these Two Brothers might remain there." Thus the Two of Them were bound by the love of Gauri das and therefore the Lord is known as Bhaktabatsal or one who is affectionate to His devotees.
`Seeing that Gauri das was extremely distraught, Mahaprabhu spoke to him very gently, "All right, We'll stay with you. Know in all certainty that We two brothers will stay in your house."
Consoling him in this way the two Lords came before him in the company of two Deities. Seeing the four of them standing before him, Panditji was astonished, and though tears continued to flow from his eyes, now it was not out of sadness.
The Lord again spoke to him, "Whichever Two you choose, you can keep in your room. Whichever Two you recognise as Us, will stay with you and depend on you to feed Us. Know this to be the Truth of truths within your heart. Now please feed us for we are hungry."
Having heard Mahaprabhu speak these words, Gauri das immediately began to cook. He fed all Four of Them sumptuously, offered them nice cloths and placed around Their necks garlands of lotus flowers. Then he offered pan and betel nuts for chewing and smeared sandalwood paste on Their bodies. By serving Them in various ways, he gradually regained his former composure and at the same time decided which Two he would keep in his house.
Due to the Pandit's pure love, these Two Lords remained with him and asked him to feed Them when They were hungry, while the other Two went to Nilacal Puri. Gauri das Pandit served his two Lords according to Their whims and enjoyed many pastimes with Them.
"Praying at the lotus feet of such a rare devotee as Pandit Gauri das, Dina Krishna das concludes his song." Becoming subservient to Gauri das's love, Shri Shri NitaiGaurachandra accepted the Arca Vigraha Form and remained with him to enjoy sporting pastimes.
One day the two Lords smilingly spoke to Panditji, "Gauri das! Previously you were our friend, Subal. Don't you remember how we used to play and frolic, enjoying different pastimes on the banks of the Yamuna?"
Speaking in this sweet way, suddenly they took the Forms of Krishna and Balarama. Dressed like cowherd boys, They held buffalo horns, canes and flutes in Their hands. Their heads were decorated with peacock feathers and around their necks were garlands of forest flowers. Their lotus feet were decorated with ankle bells. Gauri das also assumed his previous appearance and in this way they enjoyed some fun together. After some time, Gauri das calmed himself, and the two Lords again sat down on the simhasan.
Every day, Gauri das used to cook many varieties of vegetables and offer them to Their Lordships. He was always absorbed in Their service and never perceived his own bodily discomfort. As the years went by, gradually he attained a ripe old age. Nevertheless he continued to serve his Lordships as before, cooking many varieties of preparations for Them.
Seeing that he was having to exert himself, to do so much cooking, one day Shri Shri Gaura Nityananda feigned anger and refused to eat. Panditji was in turn hurt by this and said, "If You get happiness by not eating, then why do You have me cook in the first place?" After saying this he became silent.
Lord Gauranga smiled and replied softly, "Your cooking is no small accomplishment. You prepare rice and so many varieties of vegetables. You won't listen if We request you not to make so much, but We can't bear to see your hard labour. Whatever you can prepare easily that would be best."
Hearing Their statement, Gauri das replied, "Anyway, whatever I have prepared today, please accept that. From tomorrow I won't feed You with so many preparations. I'll just put some sak on Your plate."
Having heard the reply of Gauri das, the two Lords laughed and began to eat.
Sometimes Gauri das desired to decorate Their Lordships with ornaments. Coming to know of this, Shri Shri NitaiGaurachandra put on various ornaments and exhibited themselves in Their full opulence. When Panditji entered the temple, he smiled with wonder, "Where did so many ornaments come from?" He was simply astonished in ecstasy.
In this way Shri Shri Gaura Nityananda began to manifest Their opulences through various sporting pastimes in Gauri das's house.
Gauri das's dearmost disciple was Shri Hrdoyananda, the son of Vaninath Vipra and brother of Nayanananda.
One time, just before the occasion of Lord Gaursundor's birth anniversary, Gauri das went to visit some of his disciples. At the time of going he left Hrdayananda in charge of worshipping the Deities.
Hrdoyananda was in complete ecstasy to have received such a benediction; namely, the direct service of his most worshipful Lords.
Gradually however, the appearance day of Mahaprabhu drew very near. When there were only three days remaining, Gauri das still hadn't returned home yet. Hrdoyananda deliberated for some time about what should be done and finally, being prompted on his own, he sent out invitations to all the devotees and disciples to attend a grand festival. Just after that, Gauri das returned.
Hrdoyananda informed his gurudeb that he had written invitations and sent them to the devotees. Within himself, Gauri das was very pleased by Hrdoyananda's service, but externally he feigned great anger and said, "Even in my presence you show so much independence, sending out invitations hither and thither. Anyway, whatever this impudent upstart has done is done, but he won't be able to remain here any longer."
Hearing this, Hrdoyananda offered his obeisances and went to sit underneath a tree on the banks of the Ganga. Shortly thereafter a rich man who was passing by in a boat hailed Hrdoyananda, and came forward wishing to make a donation. But instead of accepting the donation himself, Hrdoyananda sent him to his guru. Gauri das however, sent the man back to Hrdoyananda and told him to accept the donation and with it to hold his festival on the banks of the Ganga. As per the order of his guru, Hrdoyananda began to make the necessary preparations. Gradually, the people that he had sent invitations to began to arrive, but upon hearing that a festival was being held on the Ganges riverbank, they proceeded there first.
In the company of the many devotees, Hrdoyananda chanted and danced ecstatically. The sankirtan was so blissful and attractive that Their Lordships Themselves, Shri Shri GauraNityananda, came to take part in the dancing and singing. Hrdoyananda was very fortunate to see all of this.
Meanwhile, Gauri das was also holding a festival in his house. When the time came for making an offering, the pujari, Boro Ganga das Pandit, entered the Deity room only to find that there were no Deities. He immediately informed Gauri das.
Gauri das could understand the matter very well. Smiling, he picked up a stick and proceeded towards the kirtan festival on the banks of the Ganges. Arriving there, he saw the Two Transcendental Brothers engaged in ecstatic dancing and chanting. Shri Shri NitaiGaurachandra also saw Gauri das, fast approaching and in an angry mood with a stick in his hand. They therefore quickly and silently entered the temple of Hrdoyananda's heart.
Seeing this Gauri das couldn't restrain his tears of ecstasy. He forgot his anger and ran towards Hrdoyananda with his arms outstretched. Firmly embracing him he said, "You are so fortunate! From today your name is Hrdoychaitanya."
Gauri das began to bathe him with his tears as Hrdoychaitanya fell at his lotus feet. Then Gauri das took Hrdoychaitanya and all of the devotees to his courtyard where intense chanting and dancing continued. The assembled Baisnabs filled the day and night with the vibrations of "Hari! Hari!"
In this way the birth anniversary celebration of Gaursundor was observed. Thereafter Gauri das appointed Hrdoychaitanya as the sevait of the Deities.
His disappearance is on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Srabon.
In Brindaban, on the banks of the Jamuna at a place called Dhir Samir, Gauri das Pandit's samadhi, as well as his worshipful Deities, Shri Shri ShyamRay, are still present.