Srila Shyamananda Prabhu was a great devotee of Lord Chaitanya. He was a contemporary of the great Acharyas Srinivasa Acharya and Narottama Dasa Thakura. The three were eternal associates of Lord Chaitanya incarnated to spread His teachings after the Lord’s disappearance. They studied under Srila Jiva Goswami in Vrindavan. They created a resurgence of Lord Chaitanya’s Bhakti movement in Bengal and Orissa, where it was flagging in the period after the Lord had left the planet.
Birth & Childhood
Sri Shyamananda was born on the Purnima (full moon day) of the month of Chaitra in a place called Dharenda Bhadura Puram, Utkala (Orissa). Noticing the auspicious moment of his birth it was predicted that he would be a great personality. His parents Sri Krishna Mandala and Srimati Sri Durika had lost many sons and daughters before his birth, so they named him Dukhi considering such a name would prevent any impending danger.
He was a brilliant child and quickly became proficient in the Vedic scriptures. After he heard the pastimes of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, he decided to dedicate his life to Their service. With the permission of his parents, He went to a great devotee of Lord Chaitanya called Srila Hridya Chaitanya in the place called Ambika Kalna in Bengal to get initiated as a disciple and study the teachings of Lord Chaitanya.
Srila Hridaya Chaitanya accepted him as his disciple and named him Dukhi Krishna Dasa. Seeing his keen intelligence and service attitude, Srila Hridaya Chaitanya thought it best for him to study the scriptures under Srila Jiva Goswami in Vrindavan.
Studying in Vrindavan
Srila Jiva Goswami was happy to accept the disciple of Srila Hridya Chaitanya under his tutelage. Sri Dukhi Krishna dasa carefully served Jiva Goswami and studied the scriptures of the Goswamis very seriously. Two other personalities who would go on to be great Gaudiya Vaishnava Acharyas, Sri Srinivas Acharya and Sri Narottama dasa Thakura also came to study the scriptures of the Goswamis under the guidance of Srila Jiva Goswami. The three exalted students would together study the literature of the Goswamis.
Darshan of Srimati Radhika
Srila Jiva Goswami gave Sri Krishna dasa the service of fetching water for him every day. Once while filling the waterpot in the river absorbed in ecstatic remembrance of Sri Sri Radha Govinda, Sri Krishna dasa noticed a beautiful golden anklet under the water. He picked up the extraordinary article and wondered whom it belonged to.
Presently a beautiful cowherd maiden came by looking for the anklet. Seeing Dukhi Krishna dasa there, she asked him if he had seen an anklet in that vicinity. He replied he had the anklet. He asked her who she was. She said she was a gopi from the village. When he asked if the anklet belonged to her she said it belonged to her friend who lost it there while plucking flowers. Krishna dasa then insisted that he would only give the anklet to the rightful owner. She said she would bring her friend to whom the anklet belonged.
The maiden was actually Srimati Vishakha Devi the intimate friend of Srimati Radharani. Srimati Radharani wished to give Krishna dasa her Darshan because she was very pleased with his devotional service.
Vishakha Devi arrived with Srimati Radaharani who stood behind a tree. Krishna dasa got a premonition of who the owner of the anklet was and swooned in ecstasy. In his trance Radha Kunda appeared there and he bathed in the holy waters. He emerged in a feminine form as a gopi and Lailitha Sakhi then took the new gopi to Radharani. Radharani thanked the new gopi for recovering her anklet. She blessed her by marking a tilak on her forehead with the anklet and kumum from her lotus feet
She said, “From today this tilak will remain on your forehead and you will be called Shyamananda.” Then they all vanished from the place.
When he awoke from the trance, there was no one there but the the mark on his forehead was still present. He was wonderstruck at what had just happened. In ecstasy he offered repeated obeisance to Srimati Radharani, rolling in the dust and chanting uncountable verses in her glorification. When he finally got himself together, he rushed to Srila Jiva Goswami and related the whole incident. Srila Jiva Goswami embraced him and marveled at the unfathomable benediction he had just received.
Preaching in Orissa
Soon after, Srila Jiva Goswami sent Sri Shyamananda, Sri Srinivas Acharya, and Sri Narottama Dasa to preach in Bengal. Sri Shyamananda returned to Ambika Kalna to his guru Srila Hridaya Chaitanya. After some time Srila Hridya Chaitanya observing that Lord Chaitanya’s movement had all but vanished in Orissa, asked Sri Shyamananda to go and preach there. Sri Shyamananda travelled to many important towns in Utkala desha and attracted thousands of devotees to the Sankirtana movement of Lord Chaitanya. His preaching won so many hearts that he created a resurgence of the Lord’s movement in that place where no devotees existed two generations after the Lord had disappeared. Srila Shyamananda initiated many disciples into Gaudiya Vaishnavism among whom Srila Rasikananda, the effulgent preacher, was especially prominent.
After spreading Gaudiya Vaishnavism with great success, he disappeared from worldly vision and entered into the eternal pastimes of Lord Chaitanya in the place called Gopala Vallabha Pura on the Krishna paksha pratipad tithi of the month of Ashada.
The puspa samadhi of Syamananda Prabhu and the place where he found Srimati Radharani’s anklet are located just across the street from the Sri Radha-Syamsundara temple in Vrndavana. Sri Sri Radha-Syamsundara are his worshipable Deities.