Here is brief biographical information about the saints and incarnations whose appearance and disappearance days are listed by the Vaisnava calendar program. The calendar uses the term "appearance" to denote the so-called birth of these great souls and incarnations and the term "disappearance" to denote their departure from this world.
Biographical information compiled by Krsna-priya Devi Dasi
(Vaisnava Academy for Girls, Alachua, Florida, USA)
Fuller descriptions are to be found in the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, especially "Sri Caitanya-caritamrta."
ABHIRAMA THAKURA was one of the most vigorous preachers among the associates of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. In the mood of a cowherd boy, Sri Abhirama Thakura carried a bullwhip named Jaya Mangala. Whomever he struck with this whip became filled with Krsna prema, love for God. If Abhirama Thakura offered obeisances to any stone other than a sacred salagrama-sila, it would at once burst into pieces. Abhirama Thakura used his home for preaching and for serving Vaisnava pilgrims. His house constantly resounded with kirtana and topics of Krsna. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 11.13.)
ADVAITA ACARYA, an intimate associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is considered an incarnation of Sadasiva and Maha- Visnu. It was in response to His calls that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu descended to this world. Seeing the degraded condition of the people in Kali Yuga, the Age of Quarrel, Sri Advaita Acarya worshiped Lord Krsna on the banks of the Ganges with Ganges water and tulasi leaves, crying out and begging for the Lord to come save the suffering souls. Because of Sri Advaita Acarya's pure devotion and compassion, Lord Krsna descended as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 6.)
BALADEVA VIDYABHUSANA, the author of Govinda Bhasya, the first Gaudiya commentary on the Vedanta-sutras, appeared in Remuna, Orissa, in the late 1600s. In 1706 he was sent by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura to Galta (near Jaipur, India) to prove the authenticity of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's movement. The local Ramanandis (a branch of Sri Vaisnavas) had charged that the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, having no commentary on the Vedanta- sutras, were not a bona fide disiplic line and therefore they had no right to worship Govindaji or any of the other Deities of Vrndavana. By the grace of Govindaji, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana then swiftly wrote the Govinda-bhasya commentary. He also wrote commentaries on the Upanisads and the Bhagavad- gita.
LORD BALARAMA is the first personal expansion of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All other incarnations expand from Him. In Lord Krsna's pastimes, He plays as Krsna's older brother. Together Krsna and Balarama enact many pastimes as cowherd boys in the land of Vrndavana. Lord Balarama carries a plow and club and is known for His great strength. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter 5.)
BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASVATI THAKURA was the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura powerfully spread the teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the early twentieth century. He preached strongly against the deep-rooted influences of caste-ism and impersonalism. Meeting with scholars, educators, and other leaders and writing over 108 essays and books, he strove to present Krsna consciousness as a science to be highly esteemed. He established 64 temples, known as Gaudiya Maths, inside and outside of India.
A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA was the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It was he who brought the teachings of Lord Caitanya out of India and spread them all over the world. He was the author of "Bhagavad- gita As It Is" and many other volumes of translation, commentary, and scriptural instruction. The file PRABHPAD.TXT, which accompanies the file you are reading, tells of his life in more detail.
BHAKTIVINODA THAKURA reestablished, in the closing days of the nineteenth century, the teachings of Lord Caitanya, which by then had been largely misrepresented or lost. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote almost one hundred books to explain the science of Krsna consciousness, expose pseudo incarnations of God, and defeat misconceptions about the path of devotional service. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was both an active preacher and the Deputy Magistrate for Jagannatha Puri, Orissa, as well as the father of ten children. One of his sons was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Biographers say that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura accomplished all his many duties perfectly.
BHURGARBHA GOSVAMI, along with his intimate friend Lokanatha Gosvami, located lost sacred places in Vrndavana by the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. To avoid material distractions, Bhugarbha Gosvami would perform his worship to Krsna in a cave. Because of this, he received the name Bhugarabha (bhu means "earth," garbha means "cave" or "hidden place"). (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 12.82.)
LORD SRI CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU is Lord Krsna Himself, in the form of His own devotee. He appears in this world to spread love for Krsna through the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord. He appeared in Sridhama Mayapur, West Bengal, in 1486. His activities and teachings are described in detail in the book "Teachings of Lord Caitanya" and the multi-volume "Sri Caitanya- caritamrta." (See also Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.32.)
DEVANANDA PANDITA was a professional reciter of Srimad- Bhagavatam who turned to pure devotional service during the time of Lord Caitanya. Devananda Pandita used to explain Srimad- Bhagavatam through impersonalistic interpretations. Because he had offended a devotee, he couldn't understand the essence of the Bhagavatam -- love and devotion for Krsna. But when Devananda Pandita served an advanced devotee, Lord Caitanya became pleased with him and revealed to him the path of devotion to Krsna. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.77.)
DHANANJAYA PANDITA took part in many of Lord Caitanya's kirtana pastimes in Navadvipa. On the order of Lord Caitanya, he traveled widely and preached Krsna consciousness. He is mentioned in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta as being among the intimate servants of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila 11.31.)
GADADHARA DASA PANDITA was one of Lord Nityananda's chief preachers in Bengal. He influenced countless sinners and atheists to take part in the sankirtana movement. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.53.)
GADADHARA PANDITA is among the group known as the Panca-tattva, consisting of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and four of His closest associates. Gadadhara Pandita spent most of his life in Jagannatha Puri worshiping the Tota-Gopinatha Deity, who is still worshiped in Puri. Gadadhara Pandita is considered an incarnation of Srimati Radharani, the eternal consort of Sri Krsna. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.15 and 16.130- 148.)
GANGAMATA GOSWAMINI was the daughter of King Naresa Narayana of Bengal. From childhood she showed deep devotion to Krsna. Refusing to marry and renouncing her kingdom, she went in search of a bona fide guru. In Vrndavana she accepted Haridasa Pandita as her guru and took instructions from him. Performing severe austerities, she wore only rags and begged food door to door. On her guru's order, she went to Jagannatha Puri, where she became a great preacher and guru. Hundreds of people attended her discourses on Srimad-Bhagavatam, and many people, including brahmanas, Lord Jagannatha's priests, and even the king, accepted her as their spiritual master.
GAURIDASA PANDITA is considered the emblem of the most elevated devotional service in love of Godhead. He sacrificed everything for the service of Lord Nityananda. Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda personally appeared as Deity forms in his home. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 11.26-27.)
GAURAKISORA DASA BABAJI MAHARAJA, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, appeared early in the nineteenth century. He lived a strictly renounced life as a bhajananandi, or one who performs solitary worship. He was intimately associated with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whom he respected as his spiritual master.
GOPALA BHATTA GOSVAMI, one of the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana, as a young boy received the mercy of Lord Caitanya. While touring south India, Lord Caitanya stayed four months at Gopala Bhatta's house. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami later joined Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement. He proved himself an expert in Vaisnava scriptural regulations, wrote Vaisnava books, and established the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Ramana in Vrndavana. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.105.)
GOUR GOVINDA SWAMI MAHARAJA, a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, spread Krsna consciousness throughout Orissa. He translated many of Srila Prabhupada's books into Oriya, worked to establish a large ISKCON temple in Bhubaneswar, traveled and taught Krsna consciousness throughout the world, and brought many people to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and Krsna. He departed this world in 1996 at Sridhama Mayapur, on the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, during the centennial birth celebration of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
GOVINDA GHOSH, an intimate associate of Lord Caitanya, was known for his sweet kirtanas at the annual Jagannatha Puri Ratha- yatra festival. Lord Caitanya would at once begin to dance whenever Govinda Ghosh would sing. Govinda Ghosh and his brothers Vasudeva and Madhava are eternal associates of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.115, 11.14-15, and 11.88.)
HARIDASA THAKURA is considered the namacarya, the spiritual master in chanting the holy name of Krsna. Though he was born in a Muslim family, Lord Caitanya's devotees respected him as being better than the best of brahmanas. He would not eat or sleep until he finished his daily quota of chanting the name of Krsna 300,000 times. Along with Lord Nityananda, Haridasa Thakura spread the chanting of Krsna's name throughout Bengal. In Jagannatha Puri, where Haridasa Thakura spent his later days, Lord Caitanya would regularly send him prasadam and discuss with him topics of Krsna. Haridasa Thakura died chanting Krsna's name in the presence of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. After Haridasa Thakura's death, Lord Caitanya carried his body to the sea and with His own hands buried him in the sand. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.43-47 and Antya-lila, chapters 3 and 11.)
ISVARA PURI was the spiritual master of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Even though Lord Caitanya, the Supreme Godhead, did not need a spiritual master, He accepted Srila Isvara Puri as His guru to establish the importance of accepting a spiritual master. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 9.11.)
JAGADISA PANDITA lived near Jagannatha Misra, the father of Lord Caitanya, in Sridhama Mayapur. Jagadisa Pandita assisted Lord Caitanya in spreading the sankirtana movement (congregational chanting of Krsna's name) in Jagannatha Puri. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 11.30.)
JAGANNATHA DASA BABAJI MAHARAJA, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, confirmed Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's discovery of the birthplace of Lord Caitanya. Upon arriving at the birthplace, Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, though blind and crippled, leaped high into the air and began chanting the names of Krsna and dancing.
JAGANNATHA MISRA appeared as the father of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, chapter 13.)
JAHNAVA MATA was the wife of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. Especially after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, she became a leading figure in the sankirtana movement.
JAYADEVA GOSVAMI is the author of the Gita-govinda, a poem about the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha Krsna. He appeared 300 years before the advent of Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya relished hearing the Gita-govinda sung by His close associates. To this day the poem is recited daily in the temple of Lord Jagannatha in Jagannatha Puri, Orissa. Jayadeva Gosvami is also the author of the famed Dasavatara Stotra.
JAYANANDA PRABHU was a dedicated disciple of Srila Prabhupada's who helped Srila Prabhupada introduce the Rathayatra festival in the United States.
JIVA GOSVAMI, the nephew and disciple of Srila Rupa Gosvami, was one of the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana. After the disappearance of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami became the leading acarya for the Vaisnava community. Srila Jiva Gosvami was the greatest and most prolific scholar of his time. He composed half a million Sanskrit verses about the science of devotion and the glories of Krsna. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.85.)
KALIYA KRSNADASA is mentioned as having been a disciple of Gauridasa Pandita.
KASISVARA PANDITA served as Lord Caitanya's bodyguard in Jagannatha Puri. Another of His services was to distribute prasadam after kirtana. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 8.66)
LORD SRI KRSNA is the Absolute Truth, the original form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The words of Bhagavad-gita are His spoken instructions, and the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam aims at describing His glories. (See also the summary study for the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam entitled "Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.")
LOCANA DASA THAKURA, a disciple of Narahari Sarakara Thakura, wrote many Bengali songs glorifying Lord Caitanya. His most famous poetic work is the Caitanya-mangala, a depiction of Lord Caitanya's life. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.78- 79.)
LOKANATHA GOSVAMI was a personal associate of Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya ordered him and Bhugarbha Gosvami to find the lost holy places of Vrndavana. Years later, the six Gosvamis came to Vrndavana and continued this work. Lokanatha Gosvami constructed the Radha-Gokulananda temple in Vrndavana. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura was his only disciple. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 18.49.)
MADHAVENDRA PURI was the spiritual master of the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Madhavendra Puri established the worship of the Gopala Deity, who is today worshiped as Srinathaji. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya- lila, chapter 4.)
MADHU PANDITA, a disciple of Sri Gadadhara Pandita, established the temple of Gopinatha in Vrndavana, India. Before Srinivasa Acarya, Narottama dasa Thakura, and Syamananda Prabhu went to bring the books of the Gosvamis from Vrndavana to Bengal, Madhu Pandita blessed Srinivasa Acarya with a garland from Sri Gopinatha. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 12.88.)
MADHVACARYA is the principal acarya, or spiritual teacher, in in the Brahma-sampradaya, the Vaisnava disciplic line from which the Gaudiya sampradaya descends. He was born in Udupi, South India, in the early thirteenth century. At the age of five he took initiation and at the age of twelve left home to take sannyasa. Madhvacarya studied the Vedas under the compiler of the Vedas, Vyasadeva, in the Himalayas. Madhvacarya's Vedanta- sutra commentary -- Purnaprajna-bhasya -- establishes the doctrine known as Suddha-dvaita-vada. Madhva used his erudite scholarship to crush the Mayavada (impersonalistic) philosophy and establish devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 9.245.)
MAHESA PANDITA was one of the twelve gopalas who were close associates of Lord Nityananda. He traveled and preached with Lord Nityananda. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 11.32.)
MUKUNDA DATTA, the son of Vasudeva Datta, was a classmate of Lord Caitanya's. Mukunda Datta had a melodious voice, and he knew the intricacies of musical meters and ragas. Lord Caitanya took sannyasa amidst Mukunda Datta's kirtana. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.40 and 17.65 and Madhya-lila 11.137-140.)
MURARI GUPTA was a lifelong associate of Lord Caitanya. He served Lord Caitanya in all of the Lord's Navadvipa pastimes. By profession a doctor, Murari Gupta freed his patients not only from their physical ailments but also from the contamination of the material energy. Murari Gupta is considered an incarnation of Hanuman, the eternal servant of Lord Ramacandra. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.49-51 and Madhya-lila 15.137- 157.)
NARAHARI SARAKARA was a personal associate of Lord Caitanya. He would often serve the Lord by fanning Him with a camara. He was also a great scholar and poet. His books Padakalpataru and Krishna-bhajanamrta include sweet songs praising Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda. The celebrated Locana dasa Thakura was his disciple. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.78-79.)
NAROTTAMA DASA THAKURA was a leading acarya in the Gaudiya Vaisnava line. He was the only disciple of Srila Lokanatha Gosvami. Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura helped bring the books of the Gosvamis from Vrndavana to Bengal and Orissa. In Kheturi gram, Bengal, he inaugurated the first Gaura Purnima festival after the disappearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is most famous for his Prarthana, a composition of thirty-three Bengali songs.
NIMBARKACARYA was the principal acarya in the Kumara sampradaya, one of the four main lines of Vaisnava teachers and disciples. His Vedanta-sutra commentary -- Parijata-saurabha- bhasya -- establishes the doctrine known as Dvaitadvaita-vada. He preached Krsna consciousness about 300 years before the advent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
LORD NITYANANDA PRABHU appeared as Lord Caitanya's principal associate for spreading the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord. He especially spread the holy name of the Lord throughout Bengal. He is considered an incarnation of Lord Balarama. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, chapter 5.)
PARAMESVARI DASA THAKURA, also known as Paramesvara Thakura, was an intimate associate of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 11.29.)
PUNDARIKA VIDYANIDHI was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri and was the guru of Sri Gadadhara Pandita. Pundarika Vidyanidhi was sometimes misunderstood to be too much attached to material pleasures, but just by hearing the recitation of one verse of the Bhagavatam he would enter into a trance. In Krsna's pastimes he was Vrsabhanu, the father of Srimati Radharani. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.14 and Madhya-lila 16.76-81.)
PURUSOTTAMA DASA THAKURA was a great devotee of Lord Nityananda. In Goloka Vrndavana, Purusottama Dasa Thakura serves Lord Balarama as a cowherd boy. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 11.38-40.)
SRIMATI RADHARANI is the eternal consort of Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. She is the internal pleasure potency of the Lord. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, chapter 4.)
RAGHUNANDANA THAKURA was the son of the great devotee Mukunda Dasa. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.78-79.)
RAGHUNATHA BHATTA GOSVAMI, one of the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana, was ordered by Lord Caitanya to go to Vrndavana and there constantly chant the Hare Krsna mantra and read Srimad- Bhagavatam. Every day in Vrndavana, he would sweetly sing the verses of the Bhagavatam to the local residents. His tears of pure love would wet the pages of the Bhagavatam as he sang. Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami never criticized anyone. He believed that all Vaisnavas are sincerely serving Krsna according to their realization and therefore one should overlook their faults. Under his inspiration, a wealthy disciple built the temple for the Radha-Govinda Deities in Vrndavana. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.152-158.)
RAGHUNATHA DASA GOSVAMI, one of the six Gosvamis, at a young age renounced his beautiful wife and opulent home to join Lord Caitanya and His sankirtana movement. For sixteen years, he was the personal assistant of Lord Caitanya's secretary, Svarupa Damodara. Along with Svarupa Damodara, he witnessed Lord Caitanya's last days on earth. After the Lord's disappearance he went to Vrndavana, where he lived austerely, absorbed in devotion, in the company of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.91- 103 and Antya-lila, chapter 6.)
LORD SRI RAMACANDRA is a powerful incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as an ideal king. He appeared in the Treta-yuga, more than two million years ago. Under the order of His father, Maharaja Dasaratha, Lord Ramacandra lived in the Dandakaranya forest for fourteen years, along with His wife, Sita Devi, and His younger brother, Laksmana. After the powerful demon Ravana kidnapped His wife, Lord Ramacandra retrieved her, with the help of His faithful servant Hanuman, and killed Ravana along with Ravana's armies. The history of Lord Ramacandra's pastimes is recounted by the sage Valmiki in his Ramayana. (See also Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.22, 2.7.23-25, 5.19.1-8 and Canto Nine, chapters 10 and 11.)
RAMACANDRA KAVIRAJA was a disciple of Srila Srinivasa Acarya and an intimate friend of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura. He widely preached the glories of the holy name of Lord Krsna and initiated many disciples into the service of Lord Caitanya. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 11.51.)
RAMANANDA RAYA was one of the most intimate associates of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu would discuss with him the most confidential topics of Krsna consciousness, and in his company Lord Caitanya would relish the deepest feelings of devotional service. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.134, Madhya-lila 7.62-67, Madhya-lila chapter 8, and Antya- lila chapter 5.)
RAMANUJACARYA (1017-1137) was the principal acarya in the Sri sampradaya, one of the four main lines of Vaisnava teachers and disciples. His Vedanta-sutra commentary -- Sri-bhasya -- establishes the doctrine known as Visistadvaita, "qualified nondualism." A staunch proponent of the philosophy of personalism, he taught that although the Supreme Lord and the individual souls are qualitatively one, there is still a difference between them, for the Lord is infinite and the living entities are infinitesimal. Srila Ramanujacarya traveled extensively throughout India, teaching personalism and defeating proponents of monistic philosophy. He founded seventy-four centers of Sri Vaisnavism and initiated seven hundred sannyasis (renounced monks), twelve thousand brahmacharis (celibate students), and thousands of householders, including kings and wealthy landowners.
RASIKANANDA PRABHU preached Krsna consciousness in northern Orissa after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya. He was the principal disciple of Syamananda Gosvami.
RUPA GOSVAMI is known as bhakti-rasacarya, the expert in the tastes of pure devotional service. He and his elder brother, Srila Sanatana Gosvami, left high posts in the government of Nawab Hussein Shah to join Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Empowered by Lord Caitanya, Srila Rupa Gosvami wrote many books about the science of Krsna consciousness. A summary study of his Bhakti- rasasmrta-sindhu is available as "The Nectar of Devotion," and his Upadesamrta is available as "The Nectar of Instruction." (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.84, Madhya-lila 1.36- 41, Madhya-lila chapter 19, and Antya-lila chapter 1.)
SANATANA GOSVAMI, the elder brother of Srila Rupa Gosvami, was the seniormost among the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana. At Varanasi, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed him in detail about the science of devotional service. Lord Caitanya sent Srila Sanatana Gosvami to Vrndavana and gave him a fourfold mission: to uncover the lost sites of Krsna's pastimes, to install Deities of the Lord and arrange for Their worship, to write books on Krsna consciousness, and to teach the rules of devotional life. Srila Sanatana Gosvami, along with Srila Rupa Gosvami, fulfilled all four parts of this mission. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi- lila 10.84, Madhya-lila 1.35, Madhya-lila chapters 20-24, and Antya-lila chapter 4.)
SARANGA THAKURA, an associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, lived under a Bakula tree in Navadvipa during the time of Lord Caitanya. During the day he would gather materials for the worship of his Deities, and in the evenings he would cross the sacred Ganges River to join Lord Caitanya's kirtanas. The great devotee Murari Thakura was his disciple. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.113.)
SITA DEVI, a manifestation of the goddess of fortune, Laksmi Devi, is the eternal consort of Lord Ramacandra. When Lord Ramacandra was banished to the Dandakaranya forest, Sita Devi left the comforts of the royal palace to join Him. While in the forest she was kidnapped by the demonic king Ravana, yet despite his endeavors to enjoy her beauty, she remained always dedicated to Lord Ramacandra.
SITA THAKURANI was the wife of Sri Advaita Acarya. She was always absorbed in parental love for Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Because of Sita Devi's love, Saci Mata often chose her as the first person to worship Lord Caitanya during any auspicious ceremony. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 13.111-118.)
SIVANANDA SENA, an associate of Lord Caitanya, used all his possessions and wealth in the service of Lord Caitanya and His devotees. Every year he would lead a party of 200 devotees from Bengal to Jagannatha Puri to attend the annual Ratha-yatra festival. He would arrange for the devotees' food, tolls, ferries, and lodging. Sivananda Sena's family and servants were all dedicated to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.54-55 and 10.60-64, and Antya-lila 1.16- 32, 2.22-82, 10.142-151 and 12.15-53.)
SRINIVASA ACARYA was a member of the party that first brought the books of the six Gosvamis from Vrndavana to Bengal and Orissa. He converted King Birahambira to the Vaisnava religion and helped organized the first Gaura Purnima festival, celebrating the birth anniversary of Lord Caitanya, in Kheturi Gram.
SRIVASA PANDITA, or Srivasa Thakura, was a member of the Panca- tattva, consisting of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His four immediate expansions and energies. Every night, Lord Caitanya and His associates would chant the names of Krsna and dance in Srivasa Pandita's house. Srivasa Pandita never made any effort to support himself or his dependents. Because of his full dedication to Lord Caitanya and His mission, Lord Caitanya provided for all his needs. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi- lila 10.8.)
SVARUPA DAMODARA GOSVAMI was the personal secretary of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is said to have been like a second Mahaprabhu because he deeply understood the Lord's conclusions on Krsna bhakti, devotional service to Krsna. He was a great scholar as well as an expert musician. In the company of Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami at Jagannatha Puri, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would taste the deepest emotions of devotional service. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 4.105 and Madhya- lila 10.102-129 and 13.163-167.)
SYAMANANDA PRABHU, a disciple of Hrdaya Caitanya, established the temple of Sri Radha-Syamasundara in Vrndavana. On the order of his spiritual master, Syamananda, along with his foremost disciple, Rasikananda Prabhu, spread the worship and service of Lord Caitanya throughout Orissa.
UDDHARANA DATTA THAKURA was an intimate associate of Lord Nityananda. Raised in a family of gold merchants, he later married and became a wealthy minister. Lord Nityananda would often stay in his home. At the age of twenty-six, Uddharana Datta Thakura renounced home and family and joined Lord Nityananda's kirtana party. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi- lila 11.41.)
VAKRESVARA PANDITA is mentioned in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta for his ecstatic dancing. Once, in the house of Srivasa Thakura, he danced in constant ecstasy for seventy-two hours. He made many disciples, especially in Orissa, among them Sri Gopala-guru Gosvami. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.17-18.)
VAMANADEVA is Lord Krsna's incarnation as a dwarf brahmana. Lord Vamanadeva begged from Bali Maharaja three paces of land. When the request was granted, Lord Vamanadeva assumed a gigantic form and with two steps covered first the earth and then the entire universe. For the third step, Bali Maharaja was then pleased to receive the Lord's lotus foot on his head. (See Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.19, 2.7.17 and Eighth Canto, chapters 20- 23.)
VAMSIDASA BABAJI MAHARAJA was a paramahamsa devotee who sometimes lived in Navadvipa at the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Wearing only a loincloth and eating whatever came his way, Vamsidasa Babaji Maharaja traveled throughout India, visiting holy places. He worshiped Lord Krsna on a spontaneous platform that neophytes on the path of devotion cannot imitate.
VAMSIVADANANDA THAKURA wrote many sweet poems expressing his devotion to Krsna. The day he appeared, Lord Caitanya and Sri Advaita Prabhu were staying in his home in Bengal. After the disappearance of Srimati Visnupriya Devi, he worshiped her Deities in Navadvipa.
VARAHADEVA is the boar incarnation Sri Krsna. He assumed the form of a boar to lift the drowning planet earth from the Garbhodaka Ocean with His tusks. The demon Hiryanyaksa had thrown the planet earth into this ocean, but the Lord stabbed the demon with His tusks and saved the earth. (See Sri Srimad- Bhagavatam 1.3.7 and 2.7.1 and Canto Three, chapters 13, 18 and 19.)
VASUDEVA GHOSH, an intimate associate of Lord Caitanya, was known for his kirtana. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta says that when Vasudeva Ghosh led kirtana, even wood and stone would melt upon hearing it. He composed many songs about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Vasudeva Ghosh and his brothers Govinda and Madhava are eternal associates of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu.(See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.115, 11.14-15, 11.19 and 11.88.)
VIRACANDRA PRABHU was the son of Lord Nityananda's second wife, Vasudha Devi, and was a disciple of Sri Jahnava Devi, Lord Nityananda's first wife. He is considered an incarnation of Ksirodakasayi Visnu.
VISNUPRIYA DEVI was the wife of Lord Caitanya before He took sannyasa. After His sannyasa, she lived a life of severe austerity. Every day, she would set aside one grain of rice for every round of the Hare Krsna mantra she chanted. At the end of the day she would cook and offer these few grains to Lord Caitanya, and that would be her meal. She is a manifestation of the internal energy of the Lord. (See the Bhaktivedanta purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.23.20.)
VISVANATHA CAKRAVARTI THAKURA, a great Vaisnava acarya, appeared in 1674 in what is now the Nadia district of West Bengal. During his time, he served as the protector, guardian, and acarya of the Gaudiya Vaisnava line. He wrote more than forty Sanskrit books on the science of pure devotion, including commentaries on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and the books of the six Gosvamis. His eight prayers to the spiritual master are sung daily by the Gaudiya Vaisnavas.
VISVARUPA was the elder brother of Lord Caitanya. He is considered a partial expansion of Lord Nityananda. At an early age he left home to take sannyasa. In 1431 he disappeared in Pandarpura in the district of Solapura, India. (See Sri Caitanya- caritamrta, Adi-lila 10.106, 13.74-80, and 15.11-14 and Madhya- lila 9.299-300.)
VRNDAVANA DASA THAKURA was the author of Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, a great biography of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He is considered the manifest Vyasadeva of Lord Caitanya's pastimes. He was born shortly after the disappearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. At the age of twenty, he accepted formal initiation from Lord Nityananda. It was on Lord Nityananda's order that he wrote Sri Caitanya Bhagavata. (See Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi- lila 8.33-42 and 11.54-55.)
A brief biography of His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,
Founder and Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
and The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada appeared in this world in 1896 in Calcutta, India. He first met his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, in Calcutta in 1922. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a prominent religious scholar and the founder of sixty-four Gaudiya Mathas (Vedic institutes), liked this educated young man and convinced him to dedicate his life to teaching Vedic knowledge. Srila Prabhupada became his student and, in 1933, his formally initiated disciple.
At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati requested Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge in English. In the years that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita, assisted the Gaudiya Matha in its work and, in 1944, started "Back to Godhead," an English fortnightly magazine. The magazine is now being continued by his followers.
In 1950 Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, adopting the vanaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and writing. He traveled to the holy city of Vrindavana, where he lived in humble circumstances in the historic temple of Radha-Damodara. He accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha- Damodara, Srila Prabhupada began work on his life's masterpiece: a multivolume commented translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana).
After publishing three volumes of the Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada came to the United States, in September of 1965, to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master. Subsequently, he wrote more than fifty volumes of summary studies and commented translations of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
When Srila Prabhupada first arrived by freighter in New York City, he was practically penniless. Only after almost a year of great difficulty did he establish the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in July of 1966. Before he passed away, on November 14, 1977, he had guided the Society and seen it grow to a worldwide confederation of more than one hundred centers, schools, temples, institutes, restaurants and farm communities.
Srila Prabhupada inspired the construction of several large international centers in India. The center at Sridhama Mayapur is the site for a planned spiritual city. In Vrindavan are the Krishna- Balarama Temple and International Guesthouse and Srila Prabhupada Memorial and Museum. There are major cultural centers and temples in Bombay, Ahmedhabad, Bangalore and New Delhi.
Srila Prabhupada's most significant contribution, however, is his books, which are highly respected by scholars for their authority, depth and clarity.
In just twelve years, from his arrival in America in 1965 till his passing on in Vrindavana in 1977, despite his advanced age Srila Prabhupada circled the globe fourteen times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. Notwithstanding such a vigorous schedule, Srila Prabhupada continued to write prolifically. His writings constitute a veritable library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.