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Biography of Shrila
Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
By His Divine Grace Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta
Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada
Beginning in the year 1511, the Supreme Lord Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu made a pilgrim’s journey of the holy places in South India, where He liberally distributed His mercy to all the people there. Starting from Shri Jagannatha Puri Dhama, He first went to the Godavari river, and from there He traveled to many holy places in what is now the state of Madras. On Shukla Ekadashi of the month of Ashadha, Shriman Gauranga Mahaprabhu arrived at Shri Ranga-Kshetra, where He decided to reside during the four months of Chaturmasya. In this way Lord Gauranga spent four months seeing the beautiful form of His own Deity, Lord Ranganatha, and preaching His Holy Names. At this time Lord Gauranga stayed at the home of three brothers: Tirumalaya, Vyenkata (whose son was Gopala Bhatta Goswami) and Gopala Guru (Prabodhananda Sarasvati), who were Shri Vaishnavas, followers of Ramanujacharya, and devoted to the worship of Lakshmi-Narayana. Lord Gauranga explained the superiority of Lord Krishna’s Name and Lila to His hosts, and their conversation on this point is recorded in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila, Chapter Nine. At this time Gopala Guru (Prabodhananda Sarasvati Thakura) became very attached to Lord Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and Vyenkata’s son (Gopala Bhatta Goswami), also became attached to the Lord. Later Shrila Gopala Bhatta Goswami accepted Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati Thakura as his illustrious Guru and became expertly trained and well-versed in all the revealed Vedic scriptures under his careful guidance.
Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati became a staunch follower of Lord Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and is considered one of the great acharyas in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya and one of the first Tridandi Sannyasis in the line of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Actually he is one of the great eternal associates of the Lord. When Lord Gauranga appeared in His form of Lord Krishna in Vrindavana, Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati was one of the most important gopis. This is recorded in Shrila Kavi Karnapura’s Gaura-gannoddessa dipika (163): "The gopi Tungavidya (one of the eight principal sakhi associates of Shri Shri Radha Krishna), who appeared in Vrajabhumi during the Lord Krishna’s pastimes, also appeared during the pastimes of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. At that time she appeared as Tridandi Swami Prabodhananda Sarasvati Thakura, who became famous as Sarasvati because of his eloquent (sarasvati) glorification of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu in Shri Chaitanya Chandramrita."
Prabodhananda Saraswati is also mentioned in the introduction to Shrila Sanatana Gosvami’s Hari-bhakti-vilasa (1.2): "This book, Hari-bhakti-vilasa, was originally compiled by Shrila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the disciple of Shrila Prabodhananda Saraswati, who is very dear to Lord Gauranga-Krishna. Gopala Bhatta brought great happiness to Shrila Rupa Gosvami, Shrila Sanatana Gosvami, and Shrila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami by achieving the mercy of Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati Thakura."
He is also described in Shrila Narahari Chakravarti’s classic book Bhakti Ratnakara as follows:
"Shrila Prabodhananda Saraswati was full of all the topmost transcendental qualities, and therefore he was known everywhere by the name Sarasvati. He was very devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna Chaitanya (Gauranga) Mahaprabhu, and he always remembered His Holy Name even while asleep. He was full of love for the devotees, and was also very austere and renounced. His handsome form was very pleasing to see, and he was also a learned poet and scholar. No one could compare with him in the arts of singing, dancing and playing musical instruments for the pleasure of Lord Gauranga-Krishna. Everyone who heard his eloquent speech became overwhelmed with spiritual happiness. These are some of the incomparable and unlimited glories of Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada."
After Lord Gauranga left South India and returned to Shri Jagannatha Puri Dhama in Orissa, Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvati became rapt in always remembering Him and continuously chanting His Holy Name within his heart. Prabodhananda left his home in Ranga Kshetra and travelled to Shri Vrndavana Dhama, where he stayed in the forest of Kamyavana, and where he was soon met by his nephew and illustrious disciple Shrila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.