Those who know the associates of Sri Gauranga to be eternally liberated souls will attain their place by the side of the son of the king of Vraja.
Sri Syamananda Prabhu, Srinivasa Acarya and Sri Narottama dasa Thakura were the internal associates of Sri Gaurasundara. They incarnated in this world in order to spread the teachings of Sri Gaura-Krsna after His departure from it.
Sri Syamananda made his appearance at Utkala in the village of Dharenda Bahadurpur. His father’s name was Sri Krsna Mandal and his mother’s name was Sri Durika. Sri Krsna Mandal, who descended in the line of sad-gopas, had many sons and daughters who unfortunately passed away before the birth of this son. For this reason this son was named Dukhiya.
Everyone said that this child would be a very high-souled saintly person. “On the full moon day of the month of Caitra he has taken his birth at a very auspicious moment, by the mercy of Lord Jagannatha. It is as though Lord Jagannatha has personally brought him here in order to propagate His teachings, and therefore He is personally maintaining him. He looks just like a new cupid. One’s eyes and mind are soothed just to look upon him.”
As time passed, the purificatory rites, his first taking of grains, tonsure (the hair-cutting ceremony) and the rites for beginning his education were performed, one after the other. The scholars were astounded to see his profound intellect. Within a short period he completed his studies of grammar, poetry and rhetoric. When he heard of the glories of Sri Gaura-Nityananda from the Vaishnavas of his village, a very deep attachment to Their lotus feet developed in him.
Sri Krsna Mandal was himself a very advanced devotee. Seeing that his son was always absorbed in thinking of Gaura-Nityananda. He told him that he should be initiated into the divine mantra.
The boy replied, “Sri Hrdaya Caitanya is my guru. He is at Ambika Kalna. His guru is Sri Gauri dasa Pandita. The two brothers, Sri Gaura-Nityananda, are eternally present in his house. If you give your permission, I will proceed to there to become his disciple.” His father asked, “But Duhkhiya, how will you get there?” “Father, there are many people from here who go there to bath in the Ganges. I will go with them.”
His father deliberated for a great while on this matter and after going so he finally gave his permission. Thus Duhkhiya set out for Gaudadesa. Gradually he came to Navadwipa, then Santipur and finally Ambika Kalna, where he inquired from the local people where he might find the house of Gauri dasa Pandita. Outside the gate of the mandira, he fell down and offered his dandavats. Sri Hrdaya Caitanya happened to be passing by at this time. Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu looked at him for a few moments and then asked, “Who are you?”
Dukhiya replied, “I have come to serve Your lotus feet. My home is at Dharenda Bahadurpur. I was born in the caste of sad-gopas. My father’s name is Sri Krsna Mandal. My name is Duhkhiya.”
Sri Hrdaya Caitanya was very pleased by this sweet speech. He told the boy, “From now your name is Krsna das. Since early this morning I was feeling that someone would come today.”
Sri Krsna dasa began his service with great devotion, and on an auspicious day his guru initiated him into the divine mantra. Sri Hrdaya Caitanya could see that his new disciple was extremely intelligent and at the same time very devoted, so he ordered him to go to Vrindavana to study the literatures of the under the tutelage of Srila Jiva Gosvami. Sri Krsna das bowed his head in assent, and on an auspicious day he set out for the holy dhama. At the time of his departure, his guru gave him many instructions and conveyed through his disciple his obeisances to the lotus feet of the Gosvamis of Vrindavan.
Duhkhi Krsna das first came to Navadwipa. After inquiring from someone as to the whereabouts of Sri Jagannatha Misra Bhavan, he came there and went inside. Seeing Sri Isana Thakura, he fell down and offered his obeisances. Isana Thakura then asked him who he was, and so the boy introduced himself. Isana Thakura blessed him and he remained there that day.
The next day he set out for Mathura with a party of pilgrims. Upon coming to Gaya Dham he took of the lotus feet of Sri Visnu there. He remembered Mahaprabhu’s lila of accepting initiation from Sri Isvara Puri here and became overwhelmed in ecstatic love. From Gaya he came to Kasi Dham where he met with Tapan Misra, Candrasekhara and the other devotees, and he offered his salutations to their lotus feet. They in turn blessed him.
He finally entered Mathura Dhama. After taking bath at Visrama Ghata, he took darsana of Sri Adikesava and rolled on the ground in the dust of the birthplace of Sri Krsna. From here he proceeded towards Vrindavana where, after learning the where abouts of Srila Jiva Gosvami, he offered his obeisances to the lotus feet of that great acarya. After being asked, he introduced himself with full particulars.
“Gurudeva has committed me to your charge. His petition to Your Divine Grace is, ‘I am entrusting Duhkhi Krsna das to your care. Please fulfill his mind’s desire and send him back to me after some time.’”
Srila Jiva Gosvami was extremely happy to receive Duhkhi Krsna dasa into his care. Krsna das very carefully began to serve Jiva Gosvami as well as study the literatures of the Gosvamis.
Srinivasa Acarya and Narottama dasa Thakura also came to Sri Jiva at this time to study under him. Thus Krsna das had the opportunity to meet them.
Krsna das requested Srila Jiva Gosvami for a special service. Sri Jiva instructed him to sweep the forest grove of Sevakunja everyday. From that day he began to carry out this service with great pleasure. He felt that his life had become successful. As he swept, tears flowed from his eyes. Sometimes he would loudly chant the names of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda and sometimes he would become inert while remembering Their pastimes. Sometimes he would put the broom, which was full of dust, on his head. Even Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva pray to receive a little of this dust of Vrindavana on their heads.
The Lord of Vrindavana and His consort were very pleased with the service of Krsna das, and desired to grant him Their darshan. One day while Krsna das was cleaning the kunja, his heart filled with love. Just then he happened to notice a very beautiful ankle bracelet lying in the dust. He picked it up, touched it to his head and then bound it in the corner of his upper cloth. “I’ll give it to whom ever it belongs to when they come to look for it,” he thought.
The next morning the were quite shocked when they noticed that Srimati Radharani’s left ankle bracelet was missing. Radharani explained, “Last night, when I was dancing in the kunja, it must have fallen off. Please look for it and bring it back to me, who ever finds it.”
When the gopis came to search for the bracelet, Visakha devi noticed Krsna das sweeping the grove. She asked him, “Have you found an ankle bracelet here?” Duhkhi Krsna dasa was so mesmerized by her sweet words and radiant form, which was like that of a demigoddess descended from heaven, that he simply stared at her dumbfounded. Again she asked him, “Have you found an ankle bracelet here?”
Duhkhi Krsna made obeisances and humbly replied, “Yes, I found it. Who are you?”
“I am a cowherd girl.”
“Where do you stay?”
“In this village.”
“Is it your ankle bracelet?”
“No it isn’t mine. It belongs to a new bride in our house.”
“How did it get here?”
“She came here yesterday to pick flowers and it must have fallen off then.”
“All right, then please tell her she can come and collect it from me.”
“No, you can just give it to me.”
“No, I want to give it to her personally.”
After a few moments, Visakha devi returned with Srimati Radha Thakurani who stood in the shade at the foot of a large tree. Visakha called out to Krsna dasa, “Bhakta, the person who lost her ankle bracelet has come to receive it.”
Duhkhi Krsna das completely forgot himself while gazing, even though it was from some distance, at the unparalleled, brilliant splendor of Sri Vrsabhanunandini. In great joy he handed the ankle bracelet to Visakha. At this point, Duhkhi Krsna dasa could sense that something very profound was about to take place. His eyes filled with tears and he fell down on the ground to offer his obeisances. In great ecstasy he rolled in the dust.
Visakha then told him, “O best of the devotees! Our Sakhi wants to give you a benediction to express her gratitude.”
Duhkhi Krsna dasa saw the holy waters of Radha kunda before him. After offering his obeisances, he immersed himself in her waters. Thus he attained a transcendentally beautiful feminine form. Coming out of the sacred kunda, he stood before Visakha devi and offered prayers. Taking this ‘forest sakhi’ by the hand, Visakha approached Srimati Radha Thakurani, and the new sakhi fell down at Her lotus feet. Then Srimati Radharani decorated her forehead with tilaka using the ankle bracelet and the kumkum of her lotus feet.
“This tilak will remain on your forehead. From today you will be known as Syamananda. Now you can go.” After She said this, Srimati Radha Thakurani and Her sakhis were no longer to be seen. Dukhi Krsna dasa’s trance broke and he found himself as before, alone and in his male body: yet with the tilaka applied by Srimati Radharani still on his forehead. Being overwhelmed with emotion, he repeated over and over, “What have I seen?”
“What have I seen?”, while tears of ecstasy rolled down his cheeks.
After reciting prayers hundreds and hundreds of times to Sri Radhika, he finally returned to Srila Jiva Gosvami. Sri Jiva Prabhu was struck with wonder when he saw the brilliant new design of tilaka on his young student’s forehead. After offering his prostrated obeisances, Dukhi Krsna dasa, his eyes brimming with tears, recounted at Jiva Goswami’s request his experience in Sevakunja. Hearing of his great fortune, Sri Jiva was elated, but cautioned Dukhi, “Don’t reveal this blessed event to anyone. From today, just carry on with the name Syamananda.”
Noticing that Dukhi Krsna dasa’s name and style of tilaka had for reasons unknown been changed, the Vaishnavas naturally began to discuss this strange development amongst themselves. The news finally reached Ambika Kalna. When he heard of the seemingly unauthorized behavior of his disciple, Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu was unsettled and angered. He immediately set out for Vrindavana.
Arriving there some months later, he let it be known he wished to see the rest while Dukhi Krsna dasa, Syamananda came and offered his prostrated obeisances at his gurudeva’s lotus feet. Seeing his disciple’s tilaka, Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu was enraged and exclaimed, “Your conduct towards me is completely abominable.”
He continued to chastise him and eventually even began beating him. The Vaishnavas finally managed to restrain and pacify him by offering various explanations on Syamananda’s behalf. Syamananda simply tolerated it all with an unfaded countenance and continued to serve his gurudeva faithfully.
That night, Sri Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu had a dream in which Sri Radha Thakurani appeared in a very severe mood. She rebuked him by saying, “I am the one who, being very satisfied by Dukhi Krsna dasa’s service, changed his tilaka and his name. What do you or anyone else have to say about it?” Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu prayed for forgiveness at the lotus feet of Sri Vrajesvari and considered what an offender he had become.
The next morning he called for Syamananda. Taking him in his lap, he embraced him again and again in great affection. With his eyes brimming with tears he repeated, “You are so fortunate.”
Sri Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu remained at Vrajadhama for a while and then, after instructing Syamananda to remain with Sri Jiva Gosvami for some more days, he returned to Gaudadesa.
Sri Syamananda, Srinivasa and Sri Narottama began to pass their days in great bliss, studying the literatures of the goswamis and begging a little to eat from door to door. The three of them resolved to continue in this way and thus devote the better part of their time to serving and worshipping Sri Krsna in Vrindavana.
The goswamis held a council together and decided that these three should be sent to Gaudadesa to preach the teachings of Mahaprabhu as presented in the gosvami literature. One day Srila Jiva Gosvami called the three of them together and informed them of this decision. Thus the three of them accepted that order on their bowed heads.
Thereafter, on an auspicious day Srila Jiva Gosvami sent them on their way with a large, nicely decorated container filled with scriptures. But the books were stolen by the dacoit king, Sir Hambhir, in Bisnupur. There Srinivasa Acarya prabhu remained behind to recover the books while Narottama continued on towards Kheturi and Syamananda proceeded to Ambika Kalna. Arriving there, Syamananda paid his obeisances to his guru, and Sri Hrday Caitanya Prabhu embraced him and inquired about the well being of the gosvamis of Vrindavana. When he heard that the books of the gosvamis had been stolen in Bishnupur, he was very concerned.
Syamananda served the lotus feet of his guru in great happiness and in this way passed his days. At this time most of the devotees of Lord Caitanya in Orissa had all passed away. Thus the preaching of Mahaprabhu’s teachings had all but come to a halt. Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu considered this a very serious problem and finally instructed Syamananda Prabhu to go there to carry on the preaching of Mahaprabhu’s mission.
Syamananda was at first very sad that he would have to be separated again so soon from his spiritual master, but Sri Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu explained clearly that he had no other alternative but to accept this order on his head.
Syamananda set out for Utkaladesh (Orissa). After entering Orissa he first went to his birth place at Dharenda Bahadurpur. The villagers were overjoyed to see him after so many years. He remained there for some days and preached Krsna consciousness, the result of which was that many people became attracted and took shelter at his lotus feet. From there he came to Dandeshwar, where his father, Sri Krsna Mandal, had previously resided. The people there were similarly delighted to receive him and a festival of Hari katha was held there for a few days. Here also many people were attracted by his spiritual potency and became his disciples. Thus, by the auspicious arrival of Syamananda Prabhu in Utkala the teachings of Mahaprabhu revived.
On the banks of the Suvarna Rekha River lived one pious and devoted landholder by the name Sri Acyuta deva. His only son was called Rasik. From his very childhood Rasik was very devoted to Lord Krsna. As he gradually attained the appropriate, age his father engaged some panditas to see to his education. However he didn’t have much regard for material knowledge. He had already ascertained that the greatest goal in life is devotion to Lord Hari. Rasik became anxious to take shelter at the lotus feet of a bonafide spiritual master. One day as he was sitting alone, contemplating on this subject, when he heard a divine voice: “Rasik! Don’t be in anxiety anymore. Very soon a very great personality of the name Syamananda will arrive here. Just take shelter of his lotus feet.”
Hearing this, Rasika was encouraged and took to continuously waiting and watching for the arrival of Prabhu Syamananda. After a few days Syamananda prabhu, accompanied by his disciples, came to the village of Rohini, situated very beautifully on the banks of the Suvarna Rekha River. Rasik’s happiness knew no bounds. After offering his prostrated obeisances, he very humbly led Syamananda prabhu into his house and worshipped his lotus feet along with his family members, wife and sons, who all surrendered completely to Syamananda.
On an auspicious day Syamananda prabhu initiated Rasika into the Radha-Krsna mantra and Sri Rasik Deva began a festival of namasankirtan in his home. He invited all of his friends as well as the tenants of his estates and everyone was so attracted by the teachings of Sri Gaura Nityananda, as expounded by Syamananda prabhu, that they immediately wanted to take shelter at his lotus feet. Thus many people of Rohini became disciples of Syamananda prabhu.
There lived a very well known yogi in Rohini by the name Damodara. One day he came to have darsana of Syamananda prabhu. He became captivated. Even from a distance he saw a brilliant effulgence emanating from his body. Coming closer he offered salutations at the Acarya’s lotus feet. Syamananda in turn offered his greetings. With tears in his eyes, Syamananda requested the yogi, “In your purified state you should always chant the holy names of Sri Gaura-Nityananda. They are extremely merciful, and they will bestow upon you love of Krsna.”
Hearing these statements of the Acarya, the yogi Damodara’s mind became softened in love, and he replied, “I will worship the lotus feet of Gaura Nityananda. Please be merciful to me.” And so the Acarya blessed him. Thus the yogi became a great devotee and continuously sang the glories of Gaura-Nityananda with tears in his eyes.
Many wealthy gentlemen lives in the village of Balarampur. When they heard of the glories of Syamananda, they became very eager to see him, and a few came to beseech him to visit their town. Syamananda very mercifully accepted their invitation and, with Rasikananda, Damodar and some of his other disciples, he very triumphantly entered Balarampur, where the noble and up right citizens very ecstatically received him by worshipping his lotus feet and making arrangements for his meal. A festival of Hari-katha was held over the next few days during which many people accepted shelter at his lotus feet.
From here Sri Syamananda Prabhu went to Sri Nrsimhapur, where many atheists lived. But when Syamananda stayed a few days, these atheists got the chance to hear his necterian talks, which melted their hard hearts in love for Krsna. Thus, in this place also, he gained many disciples.
Day by day the glories of Syamananda spread throughout Utkaladesa. From Nrsimhapur he came to Gopiballabhpur. Here again, many well to do people were attracted to his lotus feet and so took shelter there. The people here especially requested him to install the Sri Vigraha of Radha-Krsna. Thus from their contributions, a temple for the deity complete with a hall for sankirtana, a kitchen, quarters for the devotees, a pond (bathing tank) and surrounding gardens were constructed.
Thereafter Acarya Sri Syamananda performed the installation of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda and a great festival was held at which it seemed the greater part of the population of Bengal, Orissa was present. Seeing the graceful, sweet loveliness of the transcendental forms of Sri Radha and Govinda, the peoples’ hearts were fully satisfied. Syamananda Prabhu entrusted Sri Rasikananda with the worship. After traveling throughout the length and breath of Orissa and preaching the message of Sri Gaura-Nityananda, Syamananda returned to the lotus feet of Sri Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu at Ambika Kalna. After offering his prostrated obeisances at the lotus feet of his guru, Syamananda narrated how the victory banner of Sri Gaura Nitai was now flying throughout Utkaladesa. Sri Hrdaya Caitanya very affectionately embraced him in gratitude.
Syamananda was invited to the festival at Kheturi, which he attended with his disciples. Once again he was united with his old friends Srinivasa and Sri Narottama. These three floated in an ocean of happiness as they exchanged affections and embraces. Sri Jahnava Mata, Sri Raghunanandana Thakura, Sri Acyutananda, Sri Vrindavana dasa Thakura, as well as many other stalwart leaders of the preaching mission of Mahaprabhu of this time, were also present. After the conclusion of the celebrations, Syamananda took leave from the Vaishnavas there and set out for Utkaladesa.
When he came to Kantaknagar, he again met with Srinivasa Acarya Prabhu, and in Jajigram he saw Sri Raghunandana Thakura once more. He was informed that by this time many of the last remaining personal associates of Mahaprabhu had recently disappeared from this world.
Gradually, Syamananda Prabhu entered Utkaladesa. Along the way he stayed at the homes of different devotees and blessed them with his mercy. In this way he again came to Gopiballabhpur. Here he received the news that his guru, Sri Hrdaya Caitanya prabhu, had also departed from this world, he fainted dead away. After recovering his consciousness, he wept for some time, terribly distraught. Sri Hrdaya Caitanya appeared to him in a dream and comforted him.
The greatness of Syamananda became known throughout all of Orissa and the worship of Sri Gaura-Nityananda was inaugurated in many, many places. Sri Rasika Murari, Sri Radhananda, Sri Purusottama, Sri Manohara, Cintamani, Balabhadra, Sri Jagadisvara, Sri Uddhava, Akrura Madhurana, Sri Govinda, Sri Jagannatha, Gadadhar, Anandanandana and Sri Radha Mohan were among the intimate and dear disciples of Sri Syamananda prabhu.
After conquering in all directions Syamananda returned to Gopi-ballabhpur where he observed a great festival for some days. Then he came to Uddanda Raya Bhui’s house, at Nrsimhapur where he held a great festival. On the first day of the dark fortnight in the month of Asar Sri Syamananda Prabhu left this world.
Syamananda Prabhu’s puspa samadhi and the place where he found Srimati Radharani’s ankle bracelet is just across the street from Sri Sri Radha-Syamsundara’s temple in Vrndavana. Sri Sri Radha-Syamsundara are his worshippable Deities.