Shrimati Gangamata Gosvamini was initiated in the line of Gauranga’s shakti, Shrila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami, by Hari Das Pandit Goswami. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami himself has described this Hari Das’s character in his Chaitanya Charitamrita:
"The chief servitor of the Govinda temple was Shri Hari Das Pandit. His qualities and fame are known all over the world; he was gentle, tolerant, peaceful, magnanimous, grave, sweet in his words, and very sober in his endeavors. He was respectful to everyone and worked for the benefit of all. Diplomacy, envy and jealousy were unknown to his heart. The fifty general qualities of Lord Krishna were all present in his body… Ananta Acharya, a disciple of Gadadhara Pandit, was always absorbed in love of Godhead, magnanimous and advanced in all respects. He was a reservoir of all good qualities. No one can estimate how great he was. Pandit Hari Das was his beloved disciple."
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.8.54-7, 59-60)
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur writes in his Anubhashya: “During the advent of Lord Shri Krishna, Ananta Acharya was Sudevi, one of the eight gopis. This is stated in the Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, verse 165, as follows: ‘Ananta Acharya Goswami was formerly Sudevi-gopi in Vraja [Vrindavan].’ According to the disciplic succession descending from him at the famous Gangamata monastery, he is known as Vinoda manjari. One of his disciples was Hari Das Pandit Goswami, who is also known as Shri Raghu Gopal and as Shri Rasa manjari. He had two important disciples: Lakshmipriya and her niece, Gangamata, daughter of the Raja of Puntiya.”
More is learned about Gangamata’s holy life from Hari Das Das’s Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana and, in more detail, from Sundarananda Vidyavinoda’s Shrikshetra, where an elaborate account is given.
Excerpted from “Shri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates”
by Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Swami