Who is Sripad Prabodhananda Sarasvati?
A Glimpse into the Life of Sripad Prabodhananda Sarasvati
Beginning in the year 1511 Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu made a pilgrim’s journey of the holy places in South India, where He gave His mercy to the devotees there. Starting from Jagannatha Puri, He first went to the Godavari River, and from there travelled to many holy places in what is now the state of Madras. On Sukla Ekadasi of the month of Asadha, Sriman Mahaprabhu arrived at Sri Ranga-Ksetra, where He decided to stay and practice austerities during the four months of Caturmasya. In this way Lord Caitanya spent four months seeing the beautiful form of the Deity, Lord Ranganatha, and preaching the message of Sri Krsna. At this time Lord Caitanya stayed at the home of three brothers, Tirumalaya, Vyenkata (whose son was Gopala Bhatta Goswami), and Gopala Guru (Prabhodananda Sarasvati), who were Sri Vaishnavas, followers of Ramanujacarya, and devoted to the worship of Laksmi-Narayana. Lord Caitanya explained the superiority of Lord Krsna’s lila to His hosts, and their conversation on this point is recorded in Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Chapter Nine. At this tme Gopala guru (Prabodhananda Sarasvati) became very devoted to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and Vyenkata’s son (Gopala Batta Goswami) also became attached to the Lord. In his youth, Gopala Bhatta was instructed by Prabodhananda Sarasvati.
Prabodhananda Sarasvati became a follower of Sri Caitanya and he is considered one of the great acaryas in the Gaudiya vaishnava sampradaya. Actually he is one the greatest eternal associates of the Lord. When the Lord appeared in His original form of Sri Krshna, Prabodhananda Sarasvati was one of the important gopis. This is recorded in Kavi Karnapura’s Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (163):
“The gopi Tungavidya, who appeared in Vrajabhumi during Lord Krsna’s pastimes, also appeared during the pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. At that time she appeared as Prabodhananda Swami, who became famous as Sarasvati because of his eloquent (Sarasvati) glorification of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati is also mentioned in the introduction to Srila Sanantana Goswami’s Hari-bhakti-vilasa (1.2):
“This book, Hari-bhakti-vilasa was originally compiled by Gopala Bhatta Goswami, the disciple of Prabodhananda Sarasvati, who is very dear to Lord Krsna. Gopala Batta brought great happiness to Srila Rupa Goswami, Srila Sanatana Goswami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami.”
Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati is also described in Narahari Cakravarti’s Bhakti-ratnakara:
“Prabodhananda Sarasvati was full of all good qualities, and therefore he was known everywhere by the name Sarasvati.”
“He was very devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna Caitanya, and he always remembered Him, even when he slept.”
“He was full of love for the devotees, and was also very austere and renounced. His handsome form was very pleasing to see, and he was also a learned poet and scholar. No one could compare with him in the arts of singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments.”
“Everyone who heard his eloquent speech became filled with happiness. These are the incomparable glories of Prabodhananda Sarasvati.” After Lord Caitanya left South India and returned to Jagannatha Puri in Orissa, Prabodhananda Sarasvati became rapt in always remembering Him within his heart. Prabodhananda left his home in Ranga-ksetra and travelled to Sri Vrndavana, where he stayed in the forest of Kamyavana, and where he was soon met his nephew Gopala Bhatta Goswami.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura