Pundarika Vidyanidhi

    A disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri, Pundarika Vidyanidhi was Sri Gadadhara Pandit's guru, and an intimate friend of Svarupa Damodara.

    Once in Jagannatha Puri, Pundarika Vidyanidhi met Svarupa Damodara after a long separation. In a joyful mood of friendship Pundarika and Svarupa wanted to take the dust from each other's feet. A scuffle began as they tried to simultaneously catch the feet of one another, but at the same time, avoid having their own feet caught. Both being quite strong, neither won. But Sri Gauranga enjoyed their sporting play and everyone laughed.

    Pundarika Vidyanidhi has other names—Sri Vidyanidhi, Acaryanidhi, Bhaktyanidhi, and Premanidhi (given by Lord Caitanya). "Simply by hearing his name," said Sri Gaura, "the whole world becomes purified." Premanidhi's pure devotion caused Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to sometimes cry profusely and call out loudly, "Bop, (father) Pundarika! Pundarika is My father, My dearmost friend. When will I see him again?" Pundarika Vidyanidhi is King Vrsabhanu, Sri Radha's father, in Vrndavana lila.

    Continually floating in the sea of Krishna prema, Pundarika often showed ecstatic bodily symptoms of tears, horripilation, fall­ing unconscious. "Whoever recites or hears the following narration of the meeting of Pundarika Vidyanidhi and Sri Gadadhara Pandit will receive the treasure of love of God." (Sri Caitanya Bhagavata)

    When he first arrived in Navadvipa Pundarika Vidyanidhi dis­guised himself as a worldly sense enjoyer. Besides Mukunda, nobody knew that Pundarika Vidyanidhi was pure a Vaisnava. "Today, I will introduce you to a most exceptional Vaisnava," said Mukunda, as he took Gadadhara Pandit to meet Pundarika Vidyanidhi.

    They found Pundarika reclining on an opulent brass bed covered with red satin sheets, silk pillows, and topped with a three-tiered canopy. A gem-studded pan box stuffed with fragrant spices and betel nuts waited within arm's reach. Two shiny brass spittoons stood as silent sentries beside the bed. Seeing the mirror stained red from his chewing pan, Pundarika laughed heartily. Two servants cooled him with peacock fans.

    Was this a Vaisnava or a prince wallowing in luxury wondered Gadadhara Pandit? Doubts arose in Gadadhara's mind about Pundarika's spiritual status. Reading his mind, Mukunda decided to reveal the highly exalted transcendental identity of Pundarika Vidyanidhi. Mukunda recited Srimad Bhagavatam (10.6.35): "Al­ways hankering to taste the blood of small children, Putana came to kill baby Krishna. However, because she offered her breast to the Supreme Lord Putana attained the greatest blessing of being accepted as a mother of Sri Krishna."

    Hearing this verse totally transformed Pundarika Vidyanidhi. A Ganges river of tears flooded his eyes. Perspiration rained from his body, his hairs stood erect. He ripped off his embroidered silk shirt and wildly thrashed his legs about. Rolling on the ground, he wailed, "The Lord is infinitely merciful. Yet He deprives me of His mercy." His clothes, brass bed, fine bed sheets, mirror, spittoons, all his opulent trappings were ripped to shreds-smashed to bits. Ten men tried but couldn't restrain the force of Pundarika's ecstasy. The manifestations of Pundarika Vidyanidhi's pure love for Krish­na competed with one another for some time. Finally, his spiritual emotions reached their peak and he lost external unconscious.

    After witnessing this spectacular display of transcendental feelings Gadadhara Pandit realized his offense in misjudging Pun­darika Vidyanidhi to be a materialistic devotee. To rectify his mistake he wanted to take initiation from Pundarika Vidyanidhi. Six hours later, Sri Pundarika returned to external consciousness. Now he seemed calm and composed. Happily he initiated Gadadhara Pandit. Pundarika Vidyanidhi is Srimati Radharani's father in Vraja pastimes.

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