Sri Madhavendra Puri

Sri Madhavendra Puri
Disappearance day – 17th March, 2011

Madhavendra Puri Discovers Gopala

Madhavendra Puri also known as Madhavendra Puri Goswami appeared in the 14th century.

After making an extensive pilgrimage of India as a sannyasi he passed his life in Vrindavana and Orissa. The main source of knowledge about him is Chaitanya Charitamrita. He belongs to the Madhva line being a disciple of Lakshmipati Tirtha and he was the founder of the Vaishnava centre at Mathura, Vrindavana. He is considered a fountainhead of devotional worship of Krishna and he has started the worship of the Gopala deity, better known as Shrinathji. He is attributed to the discovery of the famous deity of Gopala near Govardhana that was later worshiped by Vallabhacharya, follower of Vishnuswami in Rudra sampradaya, who in turn was influenced by devotional mood of Vrindavana.  He is also famed for receiving direct instructions and gifts from the deity of Gopinatha, who commanded him to travel for the supply of scarce sandal wood paste from Orissa to the Malaya Mountains.

Initiating the sankirtana movement
Madhavendra Puri is accepted as the initiator of the movement of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who accepted Madhavendra’s intimate disciple, Ishvara Puri as his diksa guru. He was preaching the principles of Gaudiya Vaishnavism prior to Lord Chaitanya.

Service in separation
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s service in feelings of separation (viraha) begins with a single verse spoken by Madhavendra Puri.

In accordance with Gaudiya Vaishnava sources, he is believed to belong to Madhavacharya lineage that has been transcribed in the books like Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, Prameya-ratnavali and the writings of Gopala Guru Goswami. He had many disciples but Advaita Acharya and Ishvara Puri are the chief disciples of Madhavendra Puri.

Early history of the famous deity of Gopinatha (Kshirachora) is given by Vinod Bijaya Babaji in Gopinatha Charitamrita. However there is large account of his interactions with this Deity in Chaitanya Charitamrita.

Once Sri Madhavendra Puri traveled to Vrindavana, where he came upon the hill known as Govardhana. Madhavendra Puri was almost mad in his ecstasy of love of Godhead, and he did not know whether it was day or night. Sometimes he stood up, and sometimes he fell to the ground. He could not discriminate whether he was in a proper place or not. After circumambulating the hill, Madhavendra Puri went to Govinda Kunda and took his bath. He then sat beneath a tree to take his evening rest.

While he was sitting beneath a tree, an unknown cowherd boy came with a pot of milk, placed it before Madhavendra Puri, and, smiling, addressed him as follows:

“Please drink the milk I have brought. Why don’t you beg some food to eat? What kind of meditation are you undergoing?”

When he saw the beauty of that boy, Madhavendra Puri became very satisfied. Hearing His sweet words, he forgot all hunger and thirst. “\Madhavendra Puri said, “Who are You? Where do You reside? And how did You know that I was fasting?”

The boy replied, ‘Sir, I am a cowherd boy, and I reside in this village. In My village, no one fasts. In this village a person can beg for food from others and thus eat. Some people drink only milk, but if a person does not ask anyone for food, I supply him all his eatables. The women who come here to take water saw you, and they supplied Me with this milk and sent Me to you. I must go very soon to milk the cows, but I shall return and take back this milk pot from you.”

Saying this, the boy left the place. Indeed, He suddenly could be seen no more, and Madhavendra Puri’s heart was filled with wonder.
After drinking the milk, Madhavendra Puri washed the pot and put it aside. He looked towards the path, but the boy never returned. Madhavendra Puri could not sleep. He sat and chanted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, and at the end of the night he dozed a little, and his external activities stopped.

In a dream Madhavendra Puri saw the very same boy.

The boy came before him and holding his hand, took him to a bush in the jungle. The boy showed Madhavendra Puri the bush and said, “I reside in this bush, and because of this I suffer very much from severe cold, rain showers, winds, and scorching heat. Please bring the people of the village and get them to take Me out of this bush. Then have them situate Me nicely on top of the hill.”

“Please construct a temple on the top of that hill,” the boy continued, “and install Me in that temple. After this, wash Me with large quantities of cold water so that My body may be cleansed. For many days I have been observing you, and I have been wondering.

‘When will Madhavendra Puri come here to serve Me?’ I have accepted your service due to your ecstatic love for Me. Thus I shall appear, and by My audience all fallen souls will be delivered. My name is Gopala. I am the lifter of Govardhana Hill. I was installed by Vajranabha, and here I am the authority. When the Mohammedans attacked, the priest who was serving Me hid Me in this bush in the jungle. Then he ran away out of fear of the attack. Since the priest went away, I have been staying in this bush. It is very good that you have come here. Now just remove Me with care.”
– Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 4.21-43

Madhavendra then went to the place where this boy instructed him to go and found the Gopala Deity. He then established the Deity of Sri Gopalaji on top of Govardhana Hill with great pomp. A grand installation was held for Sri Gopala. Gopala was worshiped, and the Annakuta festival was observed. This festival was known everywhere, and many people from the neighboring villages came to join. All the milk, yogurt and clarified butter in the village were brought to the festival.

Various foods and sweetmeats, as well as other kinds of presentations, were brought there. What is left of the temple that He was worshiped in, can still be seen on the top of Govardhana Hill, not far from Sankarsana Kunda.

Madhavendra Puri passed away in Remuna, his Samadhi and sandals are still worshiped there. It is a place of pilgrimage for many Vaishnavas.

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