Biography,  Philosophy

Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura

Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura
Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura

Srila Veda Vyasa who compiled the pastimes of Lord Krishna in the Srimad Bhagavatam took birth in Bengal as Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura and presented the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya in the epic ‘Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata’.

Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura was the nephew of Srila Srivasa Pandita, the close associate of Lord Chaitanya and one of the Pancha Tattva. Srila Srivasa Pandita is the incarnation of Narada Muni. These facts are revealed in the book ‘Gaura-Ganoddesha Dipika’ of Kavi Karnapura.

Srila Vrindavana dasa was born on the dvadasi tithi of Krishna paksha in the month of Vaishakha in the year 1429 of the Saka era (1507 AD). About his birthplace, some say he was born in Mamgachi in Navadvipa, while some others opine it was in Kumarahatta. His mother Srimati Narayani Devi was the daughter of Srivasa Pandita’s elder brother, Srinalina Pandita. About her, Srila Prabhupada writes in the Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi Lila 8.39,

[quote] ambikāyāḥ svasā yāsīn
nāmnā śrīla-kilimbikā
kṛṣṇocchiṣṭaṁ prabhuñjānā
seyaṁ nārāyaṇī matā

When Lord Kṛṣṇa was a child, He was nursed by a woman named Ambikā, who had a younger sister named Kilimbikā. During the time of Lord Caitanya’s incarnation, the same Kilimbikā used to eat the remnants of food left by Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. That Kilimbikā was Nārāyaṇī, who was a niece of Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura’s. Later on, when she grew up and married, Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura was born from her womb. A devotee of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is celebrated in terms of devotional service rendered to the Lord; thus we know Śrīla Vṛndāvanadāsa Ṭhākura as the son of Nārāyaṇī. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura notes in this connection that there is no reference to his paternal ancestry because there is no need to understand it.[/quote]

Even the mother of Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura was an eternal associate of Lord Krishna. When Srila Vrindavana dasa was still in his mother’s womb, his father died. Seeing his pregnant niece a widow, Srivasa Pandita,  brought her home. Later, when Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura was five years old,  he stayed with his mother at Mamagachi at the home of Sri Vasudeva Datta, to whom Lord Gauranga had shown special mercy. At the house of Sri Vasudeva Datta, Srimati Narayani Devi helped in the household chores while Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura learned the scriptures.

When Lord Chaitanya ended His pastimes on the planet, Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura was 20 years old. Lord Nityananda initiated him and instructed him to write the glories of Lord Chaitanya.

It is said in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya lila 20.82,

caitanya-līlāya teṅho hayena ‘ādi-vyāsa’


Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura is Lord Nityānanda’s favorite devotee, and therefore he is the original Vyāsadeva in describing the pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.


Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says that all writers after Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura who are pure devotees of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and who have tried to describe the Lord’s activities are to be considered like Vyāsa. Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura is the original Vyāsadeva in describing caitanya-līlā, and all others who follow in his footsteps by describing Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s pastimes are also to be called Vyāsadeva. The bona fide spiritual master is called Vyāsa because he is a representative of Vyāsa. Worshiping the birthday of such a spiritual master is called Vyāsa-pūjā.[/quote]

When Lord Nityananda and Advaita Acharya left the planet, Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura moved to a village called Denur. It is here that Srila Vrindavan dasa Thakura wrote ‘Sri Chaitanya Mangala’. It was the first book to depict the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya.

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami in the Chaitanya Charitamrita (Adi Lila 8.34-42) has glorified the Sri Chaitanya Mangala thus,

[quote] As Vyāsadeva has compiled all the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Ṭhākura Vṛndāvana dāsa has depicted the pastimes of Lord Caitanya. Ṭhākura Vṛndāvana dāsa has composed Śrī Caitanya-maṅgala. Hearing this book annihilates all misfortune. By reading Śrī Caitanya-maṅgala one can understand all the glories and truths of Lord Caitanya and Nityānanda and come to the ultimate conclusion of devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa. In Śrī Caitanya-maṅgala [later known as Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata] Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura has given the conclusion and essence of devotional service by quoting the authoritative statements of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. If even a great atheist hears Śrī Caitanya-maṅgala, he immediately becomes a great devotee. The subject matter of this book is so sublime that it appears that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has personally spoken through the writings of Śrī Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura. I offer millions of obeisances unto the lotus feet of Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura. No one else could write such a wonderful book for the deliverance of all fallen souls. Nārāyaṇī eternally eats the remnants of the food of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura was born of her womb. What a wonderful description he has given of the pastimes of Lord Caitanya! Anyone in the three worlds who hears it is purified.[/quote]

Srila Prabhupada in the Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi Lila 8.33, narrates how the Chaitanya Mangala came to be known as Chaitanya Bhagavata,

[quote] Śrī Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura’s Caitanya-bhāgavata was originally entitled Caitanya-maṅgala, but when Śrīla Locana dāsa Ṭhākura later wrote another book named Caitanya-maṅgala, Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura changed the name of his own book, which is now therefore known as Caitanya-bhāgavata. [/quote]

Samadhi of Srila Vrindavan dasa Thakura
Samadhi of Srila Vrindavan dasa Thakura

Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura disappeared on the krishna dasami of vaishakha masa. Although the exact year of his disappearance is disputed, it was likely 1511 Shaka (1589 AD).

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