Gauridas Pandita

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Syamananda Prabhu’s parama-guru[1] was Gauridasa Pandita, a contemporary of Sri Caitanya and Sri Nityananda, and one of Their dearest devotees.

He lived in a town on the banks of the Ganges river known as Ambika-Kalna. Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, by Srila Krishnadas Kaviraja, describes Gauridasa Pandit as “the emblem of the most elevated devotional service in love of Godhead; who had the greatest potency to receive and deliver such love. Making Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda the Lords of his life, Gauridasa Pandit sacrificed everything for the service of Lord Nityananda.”

Once when Lord Caitanya was preparing to take sannyasa[2], he visited Gauridasa accompanied by Nityananda Prabhu.

Sri Caitanya said:

“Gauridasa, I am going to take sannyasa.”

Hearing this, Gauridasa became overwhelmed with grief.

“But sannyasi are required to leave their locality in order to educate people in godly life. That means I’ll not be able to see You again! You come to visit me from time to time. Now You’ll not come anymore!”

He cried bitter tears. He said:

“Then please stay some more time in my house so I can do some service.”

Sri Caitanya and Sri Nityananda replied:

“It’s not possible to stay here any longer. But I’ll give you something.”

Then Mahaprabhu carved from nim wood two life-like deity forms that were exactly like them[3].

These were the first deities of Gaura-Nitai ever made and Gauridasa marveled at their resplendent beauty. The life-sized forms of Gaura-Nitai stood beside each other with their long arms raised in the air as if captured in an ecstatic dancing pose. Gauridasa was filled with joy.

“Gauridasa, My deity form is as good as I am,” said Lord Caitanya, “We will forever remain in your home to accept your service.”

However Gauridasa replied,

“If these deities are as good as you then why don’t you just stay here with me and let them go out and preach?”

Considering this request, Sri Caitanya and Sri Nityananda stepped onto the altar, raised their hands and became wooden deities. To prove that they were identical, the original deities stepped off of the altar and walked out the door of the temple.

Gauridasa became overwhelmed by this transformation and spoke to the Deities now appearing in person.

“Oh no, please, go back to Your altar.”

When the deities stepped back onto the altar, Sri Caitanya and Sri Nityananda then stepped off again and began to leave.

Seeing this sight, Gauridasa caught them and escorted them back onto the altar. Then the other forms of Gaura-Nitai began to walk away.

This mysterious exchange repeated several times until it was no longer clear to Gauridasa who were the original forms of his dear Lords and who were the wooden deities[4].


[1] The guru of the guru.

[2] The renounced order of life.

[3] Some say that it was not Lord Caitanya who carved the Deities but that They were made by someone else.

[4] This account is found in Sri Bhakti-ratnakara by Srila Narahari Chakravati Thakur, Caitanya Bhagavata by Vrindavana Dasa Thakura and Vaisnava Digdarsani by Murarilala Adhikari.



This is a section of the book “Syamananda, the Joy of Radharani (English)”.

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