Jan 252023
 

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 10, Text 14:

TEXT

pundarika vidyanidhi—bada-sakha jani
yanra nama lana prabhu kandila apani

TRANSLATION

Pundarika Vidyanidhi, the third big branch, was so dear to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that in his absence Lord Caitanya Himself would sometimes cry.

PURPORT

In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (54), Srila Pundarika Vidyanidhi is described as the father of Srimati Radharani in krsna-lila. Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore treated him as His father. Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s father was known as Banesvara or, according to another opinion, Suklambara Brahmacari, and his mother’s name was Gangadevi. According to one opinion, Banesvara was a descendent of Shri Sivarama Gangopadhyaya. The original home of Pundarika Vidyanidhi was in East Bengal, in a village near Dacca named Baghiya, which belonged to the Varendra group of brahmana families. Sometimes these Varendra brahmanas were at odds with another group known as Radhiya brahmanas, and therefore Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s family was ostracized and at that time was not living as a respectable family.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura writes in his Anubhasya, “One of the members of this family is living in Vrindavana and is named Sarojananda Gosvami. One special characteristic of this family is that each of its members had only one son or no son at all, and therefore the family was not very expansive. There is a place in the district of Cattagrama in East Bengal that is known as Hata-hajari, and a short distance from this place is a village known as Mekhala-grama in which Pundarika Vidyanidhi’s forefathers lived. One can approach Mekhala-grama from Cattagrama either on horseback, by bullock cart or by steamer. The steamer station is known as Annapurnara-ghata. The birthplace of Pundarika Vidyanidhi is about two miles southwest of Annapurnara-ghata. The temple constructed there by Pundarika Vidyanidhi is now very old and much in need of repair. Without repair, the temple may soon crumble. There are two inscriptions on the bricks of that temple, but they are so old that one cannot read them. There is another temple, however, about two hundred yards south of this one, and some people say that this is the old temple constructed by Pundarika Vidyanidhi.”

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu called Pundarika Vidyanidhi “father,” and He gave him the title Premanidhi. Pundarika Vidyanidhi later became the spiritual master of Gadadhara Pandita and an intimate friend of Svarupa Damodara’s. Gadadhara Pandita at first misunderstood Pundarika Vidyanidhi to be an ordinary pounds-and-shillings man, but later, upon being corrected by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he became his disciple. Another incident in the life of Pundarika Vidyanidhi involves his criticizing the priest of the Jagannatha temple, for which Jagannatha Prabhu chastised him personally by slapping his cheeks. This is described in Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya-lila, Chapter Seven. Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura informs us that during his time there were still two living descendants of the family of Pundarika Vidyanidhi, who are named Shri Harakumara Smrititirtha and Shri Krishnakinkara Vidyalankara. For further information one should refer to the dictionary known as Vaisnava-manjusa.