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    Shrila Madhavendra Puri

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    Madhavendra PuriBefore Lord Chaitanya appeared He sent His eternal associates like Shri Advaita Acharya, Shri Jagannatha Mishra, Sachi Mata, Madhavendra Puri, Ishvari Puri to earth. Shri Madhavendra Puri took initiation from Shri Lakshmipati Tirtha in the Madhvacharya sampradaya. He had many but Shri Advaita Acharya and Shri Ishvara Puri were the chief disciples of Madhavendra Puri. In one way or another, all the Vaisnavas in Bengal and Kshetra mandala (Jagannatha Puri) were connected with Shri Madhavendra Puri. After Lord Chaitanya came many of his disciples joined Mahaprabhu's sankirtana movement.

    "Madhavendra Puri's body was completely full of divine love; so were his followers. He displayed uncommon love of God. Seeing a dark blue raincloud, he would fall down unconscious. Day and night he was intoxicated from drinking the ambrosia of Krishna prema." (Vrindavana Dasa Thakura)

    After making an extensive pilgrimage of Bharata-bhumi (India) he passed his life in Vrindavana and Orissa. He began the restoration work of Vrindavana that Shri Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis continued later. Wandering from grove to grove, remembering Radha-Krishna's sweet Vrindavana pastimes, Madavendra Puri would faint in ecstasy.

    In a dream, Shri Gopala ordered Madhavendra Puri to uncover a buried Gopala Deity and install Him atop Govardhana Hill. Madhavendra Puri celebrated Gopala's installation with an annakuta (grand festival offering a mountain of foodstuffs to Krishna). This Annakuta festival, also called Govardhana Puja, is one of the most important Vaishnava festivals in Vrindavana, in India, and around the world. The original Gopala Deity, known' as Shri Nathaji, is now worshiped in Nathadvara, Rajasthan.

    Madhavendra Puri introduced the conception of madhurya bhava (conjugal love) in the Madhvacarya sampradaya. Madhavendra Puri sowed the seed of prema bhakti. And Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu became the towering tree dropping honey sweet fruits of prema upon everyone. He also revealed viraha bhava, the mood of love relished in separation from God. His branch of the Madhva sect distinguished itself by this ecstatic love of God. It is known as the Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya.

    In Jagannatha Puri, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showed an intense mood of viraha bhava. This increased unlimitedly when the Lord heard verses from Shrimad Bhagavatam tenth canto, Krishna Karnamrta, Gita Govinda, Padyavali, and the love poems of Chandidasa and Vidyapati. Mahaprabhu's viraha begins with a single verse spoken by Madhavendra Puri, His param guru (grand preceptor)

    ayi dina dayadra natha he
    mathura natha kadavalokyase
    hrdayam tvad aloka kataram
    dayita bhramyati kim karoty aham

    "O compassionate Lord of the poor and humble! O Lord of Mathura! When shall I see You again? Without seeing You, My heart has become very much afflicted. Oh My beloved, I am overwhelmed. What shall I do now?" (Chaitanya-charitamrta Madhya 4.197)

    Shri Krishna Dasa Kaviraja says that as the diamond kaustubha jewel is the most precious amongst all rare valuable jewels, this sloka is the rasa kavya (the best verse in the entire treasury of rasa poetry). Actually, this verse was spoken by Shrimati Radharani Herself. It was Radha's pathetic cry to Shyamasundara, who had gone to Mathura leaving Her alone, desperate in Vrindavana. Radharani's mercy brought this same verse from the mouth of Madhavendra Puri.

    Reciting even a few words of this shloka would tear open the door of Mahaprabhu's ecstatic love, making Him swoon in ecstasy falling unconscious. Peeling intense separation from Krishna, Madhavendra Puri constantly chanted this verse when departing this world.

    Krishna Dasa Kaviraja says that with this verse Madhavendra Puri teaches Devotees how to achieve Krishna prema by cultivating intense feelings of separation from Shri Krishna. Gaudiya Vaishnavas accept that this verse expresses the essence of the mood of separation.

    The Gaudiya sampradaya teaches that worship of Radha and Krishna in separation represents the highest level of devotional service. At this stage of realization the Devotee feels completely "vacant in the world in the absence of Krishna." A moment without Madhava feels like a millenium. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu always swam in the ocean of divyonmada mahabhava, the maddened ecstatic emotions shown by Shri Radha in Brahmar Gita (Shrimad Bhagavatam 1O.47). In this verse Madhavendra Puri discloses similar emotions. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas conclude that the mon-soon shower of ecstatic love exhibited by Lord Gauranga during His manifest pastimes began with Madhavendra Puri. It then came through Ishvara Puri, who played the role of Lord Chaitanya's spiritual master.

    During Nityananda Prabhu's tour of all the holy places of India for the purpose of purifying them, by the will of providence, he happened to meet Madhavendra Puripada somewhere in western India. When Nityananda Prabhu saw Madhavendra Puri he fainted away in a swoon of ecstatic love and His transcendental body became completely still. Similarly, when Madhavendra Puri gazed upon Nityananda Prabhu, he completely forgot himself and fainted to the ground.

    Sri Gaurcandra used to repeatedly remark that, in relishing the mellows of love in devotion, there is no one to compare with Madhavendra Puri. When the disciples of Madhavendra Puri, headed by Isvara Puri, saw their spiritual master and the Prabhu fallen in a faint of ecstatic love, they began to cry. Gradually, Nityananda Prabhu and Madhavendra got back their external consciousness. When their eyes opened and they again got sight of one another, they put their arms around each other's necks and cried tears of joy. Then they began to roll in the sandy earth carried by the waves of ecstatic love, while rending the sky with their loud roaring. As a river of love began to flow from their eyes, Mother Earth considered herself to be blessed in being flooded by that inundation. With the appearance of the transformations brought by bhava, trembling, tears, and standing of the hairs on end, it could be understood that their bodies had become a place of pastimes for Caitanya Gosai.

    Nityananda exclaimed, "Today I have received the fruit of all my travels to the holy places. In seeing the feet of Madhavendra Puri, I have received the treasure of love of God, and thus my life has become blessed."

    Madhavendra Puri continued to embrace Nityananda Prabhu tightly to his chest. He wanted to say something but his voice was choked up due to experiencing intense emotions. Isvara Puri, Brahmananda Puri and the other disciples of Sri Puripada present, became completely enamoured by Nityananda Prabhu. Some other pilgrims were present at that place but due to being devoid of devotion, they couldn't understand what was going on and continued to converse amongst themselves. The devotees felt some sorrow to see the behaviour of those dull-headed brutes so they retreated into the forest to be rid of their company. When they were alone together again, their distress was destroyed and they continued to relish the mellows of Krsna-prema. In this way Nityananda Prabhu and Madhavendra Puri spent some days together in the happiness of Krsna-katha.

    Madhavendra Puri's love of God was very uncommon. Simply upon seeing a dark rain cloud he would fall down unconscious. Day and night he imbibed the spirituous liquor of Krsna-prema, and thus remained intoxicated, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes raising a tumultuous hue and cry. Nityananda also behaved just like a madman, falling down on the ground, his body agitated by waves of ecstasy. As lava belches forth from a volcano, loud laughter erupted from his mouth while his whole body, as if in the throes of a great earthquake, trembled violently.

    Never before having seen such unprecedented displays of ecstatic emotions, Madhavendra Puri's disciples continuously remained engaged in hari-kirtana. No one knew whether it was day or night. Having become completely absorbed in the mellows of Krsna-prema, the days were passing though it seemed to them that not even a moment had elapsed yet. Whatever was discussed between Madhavendra and Nityananda is known only to them and Sri Krsnacandra. Who else is capable of understanding such subject matter? Madhavendra Puri was unable to give up Nityananda's company and so he continued to roam about, keeping Nityananda with him.

    Madhavendra Puri told his disciples, "Never before anywhere in all my travels to all the holy places, have I ever seen such love as this. I could understand that the Supreme Lord is merciful to me when I got a friend like Nityananda as my close companion. Whenever one gets His association, that place becomes the sum total of all holy places and non-different from Vaikuntha itself. Whoever simply hears about Him will definitely get the association of Sri Krsnacandra. And whoever bears even the slightest enmity towards Him, though he may be a devotee, is not dear to Krsna." In this way, day and night, Madhavendra praised the attractive qualities of Nityananda Prabhu.

    Lord Nityananda respected Madhavendra Puri as his guru and always behaved with him in that relationship. After travelling together for some days finally Nityananda Prabhu set of in the direction of Setu Bandha while Madhavendra Puri started for Sarayu. Having lost contact with the external world neither of them was aware of his own body. In order to maintain body and soul together, they thus remained in these transcendental states of consiousness. If in external consiousness, they would cease to live. [C.B. Adi 9.158-192]

    At the time of his departure from this world, Madhavendra Puri was completely absorbed in separation from Krsna and constantly repeated one sloka. This verse is considered by Gaudiya Vaisnavas to be the essence of expression of the mood of separation.

    ayi dina-dayardra natha he
    mathura-natha kadavalokyase
    hrdayam tvad-aloka-kataram
    dayita bhramyati kim karomy aham

    "O My Lord! O most merciful master! O master of Mathura! When shall I see You again! Because of My not seeing You, My agitated heart has become unsteady. O most beloved one, what shall I do now?
    [ C.C ML 4.197 ]

    Among his associates and disciples were Sri Advaita Acarya, Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Sri Iswara Puri, Sri Paramananda Puri, Sri Ranga Puri, Sri Ramacandra Puri, Sri Nrsimha Tirtha, Sri Raghupati Upadhyaya, Sri Sukhananda Puri, among others.

    "Madhavendra Puri's body is totally imbued with divine love, as are his followers as well. He takes nothing other than the juice of the mellows of love for Krsna as his foodstuffs. Thus his body has become the place of pastimes of Sri Krsna."
    [C.B.Adi 9.155]

    His worshippable Deity, Gopalji, is presently residing at Nathdwar in Rajasthan, and is worshipped by the followers of Vallabhacarya.

    Madhavendra Puri's samadhi is in Remuna, Orissa near the Temple of Kshira-chora Gopinatha.

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