Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

(Reproduced from Niladri Bihar, October 2011 issue)
By Sri Dhiraj Mitra, Kolkata

Five hundred one years ago, during the rainy season, the young ascetic Sri Krishna Chaitanya observed his first Chaturmasya Vrata at Srirangam on the banks of the river Kaveri in Tamil Nadu near present-day Tiruchirapally.

During those four months after taking his bath in the Kaveri, Mahaprabhu would every day have darshan of Sri Ranganathji at Srirangam temple. The pomp and grandeur of the temple is comparable to that of Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri. This was the center of activity for the Sri Vaishnava sect. Presently the center has been shifted to Tirupati.

Venkata Bhatta, a Brahmin devotee of Sri Lakshmi-Narayan specially entreated Sri Gaurhari to stay at his place for the duration of the four months.  Mahaprabhu gratefully accepted the invitation.

Vishwambhar flooded the land with love and devotion and introduced Nama Janga (religious offering by repeated uttering of the name of God). One of the centres of these activities was Sri Ranga Kshetra.

Mahaprabhu plucked three fully blossomed flowers from this holy place. The first Sri Gopal Bhatta, one of the six Goswamis of Vrindavana; the second Sri Prabodhananda Saraswati, the author of Sri Chaitanya Chandramrita and uncle of Sri Gopal Bhatta and third, the divine love of the Alwars.

Gopal, the tender aged son of Venkata Bhatta used to serve Sri Chaintanya daily with great attention and devotion. Gopal wanted to accompany Him when He left Srirangam at the end of his four month stay. Mahaprabhu asked him to serve his parents till they were alive and after that to relinquish the world.

As desired by Sri Rupa and Sanatana, the two most elderly and venerable Goswamis of Vrindavana, he wrote critical appreciation of devotional scriptures. This was accomplished in the light of the teachings received by Sri Rupa and Sanatana from Sriman Mahaprabhu at Prayag and Benaras.  They imparted this knowledge to Gopal.

Sri Madhavacharya of the Brahma Madhva school collected the inner meaning of Srimad Bhagavatam from various scriptures. Gopal studied that and wrote the sweet conclusions regarding Devotion, Devotee and God in the light of Sri Chaitanya’s teachings.

He presented the analysis to Sri Rupa and Sanatana for their delight. Based on those writings, Srila Jiva Goswami composed his famous Bhagavat Sandarbha which contains (1) Tatva Sandarbha (2) Bhagavat Sandarbha (3) Paramatma Sandarbha (4) Bhakti Sandarbha (5) Krishna Sandarbha and (6) Preeti Sandarbha.  Sandarbha means essays.

Gopal Bhatta used to worship Sri Narsingha shaligram shila in his humble cottage. Once a rich merchant presented him with a lot of jewelry to adorn his deities. Gopal Bhatta cherished an intense passion to decorate his shaligram shilas with the ornaments. But how and where would he be able to accomplish this? He experienced an intense longing in his heart. Would his dearest deity not adorn Himself?

To his tearful eyes, one day with divine light, the shaligram shila unfolded itself into the most beautiful Radharaman deity. The intensity of devotion turned the nirakar (formless) into Saakar (with form). Shivering with great joy, Gopal loudly shouted “Gopal Jai Jai Govinda Jai Jai Radharaman Hari Mukunda Jai Jai”.

Sri Prabodhananda Saraswati was the uncle of Gopal Bhatta Goswami. He authored Sri Chaitanya Chandramrita in Sanskrit in distant Tamil Nadu. In the first stanza he begins by paying obeisance to God and in the second stanza, he writes: “I pay my obeisance to that Sri Chaitanyadeva by whose grace the nectar of Sri Radha Krishna’s love was relished by persons who were always busy with sinful activities; who had never been touched by righteousness; who had never been blessed by saints whose one glance could easily absorb all sins and who had never been to a place of pilgrimage. With great bliss they danced, sang and rolled in the dust experiencing Krishna prema.”

In the 78th verse he wrote, “I take refuge in that Gaurhari who saved all such persons who were extremely wicked; of low caste, dishonest, always engaged in evil activities, chandalas, those born in undesirable places; busy with bad company; all the time harbouring negative thoughts and engaged in sense gratification.”

According to Sri Prabodhananda, no other incarnation did as much as was done by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for these unfortunates.

In the 111th stanza he wrote, “All of a sudden compassionate Sri Chaitanya descended and those who had not a trace of yoga, meditation, mantra, japa, daan, vrata, study (adhyana) or good conduct (sadachar), to say nothing of their stopping their sinful activities, they also with great delight, cherished the fifth and ultimate purushaarth Krishna Prema with His grace. Such munificence had not been observed in any previous incarnation”.

How did Sri Gauranga grace them? In the 4th stanza, Sri Prabodhananda says that the real ultimate nature of Radha-prema was unfolded by none other than Sri Chaitanya to such unfortunate souls.

In the 7th stanza he wrote, “Nrisingha, Rama and Krishna were great incarnations. Bhagavan Kapil was also an incarnation of God. But there is no scope of comparison  between the deeds of these incarnations with those of Sri Chaitanya particularly in respect of imparting and granting prema-bhakti to embodied souls.”

For the protection of these mortals devils are to be destroyed. The purpose of teaching yoga is to help overcome one’s deep-rooted anarthas. But He distributed the great treasure of love of God to human beings and made them very near and dear to God. For these blessed people there is no need of yoga and they are not required to be afraid of the devils.

Prabodhananda became a disciple of Mahaprabhu. During Prabhu’s chaturmasya vrata at his elder brother Venkata Bhatta’s house, he had the opportunity to observe Him closely. Prabodhananda has described Sri Gauhari’s extraordinary beauty, charm and sweet demeanour. Mahaprabhu’s smile was like the light of the full moon which attracted everybody. On his cheeks, his smiles were playful and pleasing. His eyes were full of love and tears would stream in cascades during kirtan and dancing.  

In stanza 101 Prabodhananda wrote, “He who is as beautiful as crores of Cupids and delights all as if they were viewing the beauty of millions of moons together. He who is filled with the nectar of affection like millions of mothers; who is a magnanimous donor as great as millions of Kalpatarus (wish-fulfilling trees); whose nature is as profound as the ocean, who unfolded to us millions of varieties of emotions of love which are sweet as nectar, He is none other than Gaurangadeva and all victory to Him.”


The name of the virtuous young girl who merged with Sri Ranganath at the early age of 15, was Godamba or Andaal.

She was picked up as an abandoned infant with name or lineage in the flower garden of her foster father Vishnuchitta at Sri Villiputtur near Madurai in 716 A.D. She was named Godai, as a gift from mother earth. This took place 800 years before Mahaprabhu set foot in Srirangam. She is the very first woman poet of south India.

Andaal is one of the twelve great Alwars and the only woman among the illustrious Vishnu bhaktas of south India. Alwar means “deeply absorbed” in love of God. Alwars were the saints who revitalized the Hindu religion with their emphasis on true devotion to God when Buddhism engulfed the land with other corrupt tantric and sahajiya practices.

Alwars were wandering minstrels who preached the love of Lord Vishnu which was not only passionate but at the same time, philosophical. They were the pioneers of a religious heritage of intensely emotional bhakti for which Andal stands as a striking example.

The Alwars composed 4000 devotional songs in old Tamil. With these offerings Vaishnava Prabandham was developed. Sanskrit Vedanta is knowledge based. Dravida Vedanta focuses on Bhakti.

During his pilgrimage Mahaprabhu collected the Brahma Samhita and Krishna Karnamrita. The latter, composed by Bilwamangala, is enriched by the influence of the Alwars.

According to Mahanama Brahmachari, “It can be inferred that the Alwars of the Deccan were the source of Mahaprabhu’s path and view, although the main source is Sri Madhavendra Puri.”

A great devotee of Lord Krishna, Vishnuchitta, the only Brahmin amongst the Alwars was the 8th and his adopted daughter Godai (Andaal), the 9th Alwar. Andaal’s life and writings are celebrated in Dhanur masa (Dec-Jan) every year during which her poetry, the “Tiruppavvai” is recited and sung.

Andaal’s life is a simple and romantic story. At an early age, Andaal fell in love with Sri Krishna. Later, like the Gopis of Sri Vrindavana, she performed Katyayani vrata in the hope to attain the Lord as her husband. Mad with love for Sri Krishna, Andaal vowed that she would marry only Sri Ranganath and none else.

She always play-acted her role of lover and bride of Lord Ranganath. She would wear the garland prepared for the Lord first and then only give it to the Lord. One day her father noticed a strand of her hair in the garland and was aghast.
He scolded her and discarded the garland and prepared a fresh one and took it to the temple. That night Lord Krishna appeared in his dream and asked him to offer only the garland worn by Godai. From that day she was called ‘Andaal’ meaning she who ruled over the Lord.

When she attained marriageable age, she declared that she would not marry anyone other than Sri Ranganathswamy. When Vishnuchitta worried about his daughter, the Lord appeared in his dream and directed him to send Andaal attired as a bride to the temple. Then just thirteen years of age, Andaal was taken to the temple in full bridal attire and united with the Lord in wedlock and then she disappeared in a flash of brilliant light.

Andaal’s poetry is a treasure-chest of Indian devotional literature. She composed two works in ancient Tamil. They are both philosophical and emotional in content and have extraordinary literary merit. One wonders how a teenager could compose poetry mature beyond her age.

In Tiruppavvai, a collection of thirty verses composed by her, she imagines herself as a Gopi in Vrindavana. Her second volume Nachiyar Tirumoli, consisting of 143 verses reveals the deep and intense longing of andaal for Lord Vishnu, the divine beloved.

Nachiyar means “goddess” and Tirumoli means “sacred saying”. Using classical Tamil petric conventions and intermixing stories from the Vedas and Puranas, she created imagery that is possibly unparallel in the annals of devotional literature. It has been translated in several Indian and western languages.

Andaal, the beloved, the very first woman to be recognized as a poet-devotee-saint is present in all Sri Vaishnava temples in India and elsewhere, next to her Lord. Besides this, a large and beautiful temple dedicated to her has been erected at her birthplace Sri Villiputtur.

Mahaprabhu spread this love and devotion of the Alwars to the whole of India and this touched Mirabai also. It is very interesting to note that 800 years after Godamba, Mira also dedicated her songs to Lord Krishna. In 1538, five years after the disappearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Mirabai came to Vrindavana and met with Rupa Goswami. There she learnt the true spirit of Sri Chaitanya and composed a song where she declared, “Gaur kishan ki dasi Mira….”

Venkata Bhatt’s residence where Mahaprabhu spent four months has been converted into a Math, where 24 hours nama sankirtan is conducted by devotees. The address is Sri Jagannath Math, 176 North Chitra Street, Srirangam.

Jai Guru
Jai Sri Radhey