Vaisnava preacher by the name Visnu Puri. We briefly mentioned something about
him in relation to his guru, Jayadharma Tirtha, in that section, so at this point let us look a little closer at his pastimes. Though he was directly one of the noted acaryas in the guru parampara, certainly it appears that he must have been a great devotee to have gained recognition by the great Kavikarnapura, the celebrated compiler of the Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika. If Kavikarnapura thinks his name worthy of mentioning, then who am I to deny him a mention? According to history he was a sannyasi of Tirhit district. One report is that Visnu Puri met Lord Caitanya at Kasi (Benares) while Lord Caitanya was on His way back to Nadia from Vrndavana. They were charmed with each other naturally. The following story is mentioned by B.D. Basu, in his presentation of Visnu Puri's book Bhakti-ratnavali, which says that at their meeting a wonderful interaction took place. By the bhakti and learning of Visnu Puri, Lord Caitanya became inspired, and by the grandeur and personal magnetism of Lord Caitanya, the Personality of Godhead, Visnu Puri was inspired. Later a disciple of Visnu Puri left Benares for Jagannatha Puri to bring greetings to Lord Caitanya from his guru. Lord Caitanya sent him back to Kasi with a message, "Make Me a garland of jewels". Everyone was astounded when they heard the greatest renunciate asking for jewels, but they had not the boldness to ask Him why He asked for this. Actually he was referring to Visnu Puri's Bhakti-ratnavali - the necklace of priceless jewels of the Srimad Bhagavatam.

There is another version of this story recorded, that Lord Jagannatha, in a dream came to Visnu Puri and told him to compose and send these prayers to Him in the form of Lord Caitanya. The date recorded on this book, Bhakti-ratnavali, is 1555 Saka era or 1633 AD, but it is humbly suggested that this is the date Bhakti-ratnavali was transcribed from the original, not the date of the actual composition. This was one year before Lord Caitanya passed from the devotees' physical presence.

Visnu Puri was previously known as Visnu dasa. He was a learned brahmana who belonged to the Vaisnava school of Madhva and was a disciple of Jayadharma Tirtha. He first led his life as a householder with wife and children, but when the temper of his wife became too much for him, he left home and took the dress of a sannyasi. Everyone tried to pacify him but he would not return. He wandered and settled in Mithila at the shrine of Lord Siva (which is also known as Siva Puri). The Tirtha pandits say that in a dream Lord Siva told him to resume family life, so he returned and took a second wife. In the dream Lord Siva also gave him the Visnu mantra, so at Siva Puri it is suggested that this is when he added Puri to his name, to remember that holy place, as there is no mention of receiving the name from another source.

To have been a disciple of Jayadharma who occupied the Pitha from 1448-1460 AD and to have met Lord Caitanya in Kasi, Visnu Puri must have lived for close on one hundred and fifty years. Of course that is presuming that the dates that we have are exactly correct. There is no doubt that his preaching from the Bhakti sastra, Srimad Bhagavatam, inspired many, among them the great Madhavendra Puri, who became the next in the disciplic succession. It is believed by many that Madhavendra Puri Goswami, though taking diksa initiation from Laksmipati, was given siksa (instruction and inspiration) from Visnu Puri, thus this is why the title "Puri" was added to his name instead of Tirtha, as with the previous parampara acaryas.

In Dr. B.N.K. Sharma's "History of Dvaita Vedanta" he makes a point to say that up until this time this was the parampara which came to be known as the Vyasaraja Mutt line of the Madhva Mutts, following down to the disciples of Vyasatirtha, a strict Madhva line.
Filling in the details over the past couple of generations, the Gaura Ganoddesa Dipika (Text 22) of Kavikarnapura says: "Rajendra's disciple was Jayadharma Muni. Among Jayadharma's disciples was Sriman Visnu Puri, the famous author of the Bhakti-ratnavali. Another disciple was Brahmanya Purusottama." But in the Kantimala, it states:

iti sri purusottama-caranaravinda-
krpa makaranda-bindu pronmilita-
viveka-tairabhukta-paramahamsa-
sri visnu-puri grathita-sri
bhagavatamrtabdhi labdha-
sri bhaktiratnavali kantimala samapata
This indicates that Visnu Puri had some kind of disciple relationship with Purusottama Tirtha (Brahmanya); at least this confirms the time, if not his particular kind of guru-disciple relationship. Substantiating the facts presented here, B.N.K. Sharma points out that there is a traditional line stating that Rajendra Tirtha carried the message of Madhva north to Bihar and Bengal and that Rajendra Tirtha's disciple was Jayadhvaja Tirtha, who was the guru of Visnu Puri.

In these days sometimes one would accept a particular mantra or philosophical point from someone and in that way he would become one's guru. So sometimes certain initiations held more importance than others. For example, one's acceptance into a particular philosophical line would stand as more important than one's family initiation into a mantra for charming snakes, or applying medicine from the Ayurveda.

B.N.K. Sharma says that Visnu Puri was a contemporary of Jayadharma who followed the great Sridhar Swami and due to his dedication to the bhakti marga (devotional line) this could have been a great source of influence on Laksmipati Tirtha and Madhavendra Puri Goswami. Another thing is that there is no record of Visnu Puri's activities in South India, save and except that he headed to North India to preach. To conclude, we can say that Laksmipati and Madhavendra Puri were both from North India and were influenced by Visnu Puri to develop the spontaneous mood of bhakti. Later some of Visnu Puri's previously used verses of Sridhar Swami found in his Bhakti-ratnavali turned up in Rupa Goswami's "Padyavali" with reference to Bhakti-ratnavali.




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