Saints and Incarnations
Biographical information compiled by Krishna-priya Devi Dasi
Here is a brief bio-data base about the saints and incarnations (listed alphabetically) whose appearance and disappearance days appear on the Vaishnava calendar.
The calendar uses the term "appearance" to denote the so-called birth of these great souls and incarnations and the term "disappearance" to denote their departure from this world. Fuller descriptions are to be found in the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, especially Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita.
ABHIRAMA THAKURA was one of the most vigorous preachers among the associates of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. In the mood of a cowherd boy, Sri Abhirama Thakura carried a bullwhip named Jaya Mangala. Whomever he struck with this whip became filled with Krishna prema, love for God. If Abhirama Thakura offered obeisances to any stone other than a sacred shalagrama-shila, it would at once burst into pieces. Abhirama Thakura used his home for preaching and for serving Vaishnava pilgrims. His house constantly resounded with kirtana and topics of Krishna. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 11.13.)
ADWAITA ACHARYA, an intimate associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is considered an incarnation of Sadashiva and Maha-Vishnu. It was in response to His calls that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu descended to this world. Seeing the degraded condition of the people in Kali Yuga, the Age of Quarrel, Sri Adwaita Acharya worshiped Lord Krishna on the banks of the Ganges with Ganges water and tulasi leaves, crying out and begging for the Lord to come save the suffering souls. Because of Sri Adwaita Acharya's pure devotion and compassion, Lord Krishna descended as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, Chapter 6.)
BALADEVA VIDYABHUSANA, the author of Govinda Bhasya, the first Gaudiya commentary on the Vedanta-sutras, appeared in Remuna, Orissa, in the late 1600s. In 1706 he was sent by Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura to Galta (near Jaipur, India) to prove the authenticity of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's movement. The local Ramanandis (a branch of Sri Vaishnavas) had charged that the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, having no commentary on the Vedanta-sutras, were not a bona fide disciplic line and therefore they had no right to worship Govindaji or any of the other Deities of Vrindavana. By the grace of Govindaji, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana then swiftly wrote the Govinda-bhashya commentary. He also wrote commentaries on the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-gita.
BALARAMA, LORD is the first personal expansion of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All other incarnations expand from Him. In Lord Krishna's pastimes, He plays as Krishna's older brother. Together Krishna and Balarama enact many pastimes as cowherd boys in the land of Vrindavana. Lord Balarama carries a plow and club and is known for His great strength. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, Chapter 5.)
BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASVATI THAKURA was the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of ISKCON. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura powerfully spread the teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the early twentieth century. He preached strongly against the deep-rooted influences of caste-ism and impersonalism. Meeting with scholars, educators, and other leaders and writing over 108 essays and books, he strove to present Krishna consciousness as a science to be highly esteemed. He established 64 temples, known as Gaudiya Maths, inside and outside of India.
BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA, A.C. was the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It was he who brought the teachings of Lord Chaitanya out of India and spread them all over the world. He was the author of "Bhagavad-gita As It Is" and many other volumes of translation, commentary, and scriptural instruction.
BHAKTIVINODA THAKURA reestablished, in the closing days of the nineteenth century, the teachings of Lord Chaitanya, which by then had been largely misrepresented or lost. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote almost one hundred books to explain the science of Krishna consciousness, expose pseudo incarnations of God, and defeat misconceptions about the path of devotional service. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was both an active preacher and the Deputy Magistrate for Jagannatha Puri, Orissa, as well as the father of ten children. One of his sons was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. Biographers say that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura accomplished all his many duties perfectly.
BHURGARBHA GOSWAMI, along with his intimate friend Lokanatha Goswami, located lost sacred places in Vrindavana by the order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. To avoid material distractions, Bhugarbha Goswami would perform his worship to Krishna in a cave. Because of this, he received the name Bhugarabha (bhu means "earth," garbha means "cave" or "hidden place"). (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 12.82.)
CHAITANYA MAHAPRABHU, LORD SRI is Lord Krishna Himself, in the form of His own devotee. He appears in this world to spread love for Krishna through the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord. He appeared in Sridhama Mayapur, West Bengal, in 1486. His activities and teachings are described in detail in the book "Teachings of Lord Chaitanya" and the multi-volume "Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita." (See also Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.32.)
CHATURMASYA is the four-month period, consisting of the rainy and autumn seasons in India, during which Vaishnavas perform austerities to invoke the mercy of the Lord. Traditionally, itinerant priests and preachers would take a break from their travels during this time. Nowadays, observers refrain from eating certain foods. The last month of Chaturmasya is known as Karttika, and is the holiest month of the year for Vaishnavas.
DEVANANDA PANDITA was a professional reciter of Srimad-Bhagavatam who turned to pure devotional service during the time of Lord Chaitanya. Devananda Pandita used to explain Srimad-Bhagavatam through impersonalistic interpretations. Because he had offended a devotee, he couldn't understand the essence of the Bhagavatam--love and devotion for Krishna. But when Devananda Pandita served an advanced devotee, Lord Chaitanya became pleased with him and revealed to him the path of devotion to Krishna. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.77.)
DHANANJAYA PANDITA took part in many of Lord Chaitanya's kirtana pastimes in Navadvipa. On the order of Lord Chaitanya, he traveled widely and preached Krishna consciousness. He is mentioned in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita as being among the intimate servants of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 11.31.)
GADADHARA DASA PANDITA was one of Lord Nityananda's chief preachers in Bengal. He influenced countless sinners and atheists to take part in the sankirtana movement. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.53.)
GADADHARA PANDITA is among the group known as the Panca-tattva, consisting of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and four of His closest associates. Gadadhara Pandita spent most of his life in Jagannatha Puri worshiping the Tota-Gopinatha Deity, who is still worshiped in Puri. Gadadhara Pandita is considered an incarnation of Srimati Radharani, the eternal consort of Sri Krishna. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.15 and 16.130-148.)
GANGAMATA GOSWAMINI was the daughter of King Naresha Narayana of Bengal. From childhood she showed deep devotion to Krishna. Refusing to marry and renouncing her kingdom, she went in search of a bona fide guru. In Vrindavana she accepted Haridasa Pandita as her guru and took instructions from him. Performing severe austerities, she wore only rags and begged food door to door. On her guru's order, she went to Jagannatha Puri, where she became a great preacher and guru. Hundreds of people attended her discourses on Srimad-Bhagavatam, and many people, including brahmanas, Lord Jagannatha's priests, and even the king, accepted her as their spiritual master.
GAURA PURNIMA is the annual celebration of the appearance of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. “Gaura” refers to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s golden complexion, and “Purnima” refers to the full-moon night on which He appeared. There was also a lunar eclipse on that night, and so, following tradition, everyone in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s hometown of Mayapur, West Bengal, was bathing in the Ganges and chanting the holy names of the Lord. Thus, He immediately started His mission of propagating the congregational chanting of God’s names. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, Chapter 13.)
GAURIDASA PANDITA is considered the emblem of the most elevated devotional service in love of Godhead. He sacrificed everything for the service of Lord Nityananda. Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda personally appeared as Deity forms in his home. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 11.26-27.)
GAURAKISHORA DASA BABAJI MAHARAJA, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, appeared early in the nineteenth century. He lived a strictly renounced life as a bhajananandi, or one who performs solitary worship. He was intimately associated with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whom he respected as his spiritual master.
GOPALA BHATTA GOSWAMI, one of the six Goswamis of Vrindavana, as a young boy received the mercy of Lord Chaitanya. While touring south India, Lord Chaitanya stayed four months at Gopala Bhatta's house. Gopala Bhatta Goswami later joined Lord Chaitanya's sankirtana movement. He proved himself an expert in Vaishnava scriptural regulations, wrote Vaishnava books, and established the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Ramana in Vrindavana. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.105.)
GOUR GOVINDA SWAMI MAHARAJA, a disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, spread Krishna consciousness throughout Orissa. He translated many of Srila Prabhupada's books into Oriya, worked to establish a large ISKCON temple in Bhubaneswar, traveled and taught Krishna consciousness throughout the world, and brought many people to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna. He departed this world in 1996 at Sridhama Mayapur, on the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, during the centennial birth celebration of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
GOVINDA GHOSH, an intimate associate of Lord Chaitanya, was known for his sweet kirtanas at the annual Jagannatha Puri Ratha-yatra festival. Lord Chaitanya would at once begin to dance whenever Govinda Ghosh would sing. Govinda Ghosh and his brothers Vasudeva and Madhava are eternal associates of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.115, 11.14-15, and 11.88.)
HARIDASA THAKURA is considered the namacharya, the spiritual master in chanting the holy name of Krishna. Though he was born in a Muslim family, Lord Chaitanya's devotees respected him as being better than the best of brahmanas. He would not eat or sleep until he finished his daily quota of chanting the name of Krishna 300,000 times. Along with Lord Nityananda, Haridasa Thakura spread the chanting of Krishna's name throughout Bengal. In Jagannatha Puri, where Haridasa Thakura spent his later days, Lord Chaitanya would regularly send him prasadam and discuss with him topics of Krishna. Haridasa Thakura died chanting Krishna's name in the presence of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. After Haridasa Thakura's death, Lord Chaitanya carried his body to the sea and with His own hands buried him in the sand. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.43-47 and Antya-lila, chapters 3 and 11.)
ISHVARA PURI was the spiritual master of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Even though Lord Chaitanya, the Supreme Godhead, did not need a spiritual master, He accepted Srila Ishwara Puri as His guru to establish the importance of accepting a spiritual master. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 9.11.)
JAGADISHA PANDITA lived near Jagannatha Mishra, the father of Lord Chaitanya, in Sridhama Mayapur. Jagadisha Pandita assisted Lord Chaitanya in spreading the sankirtana movement (congregational chanting of Krishna's name) in Jagannatha Puri. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 11.30.)
JAGANNATHA DASA BABAJI MAHARAJA, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, confirmed Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's discovery of the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya. Upon arriving at the birthplace, Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja, though blind and crippled, leaped high into the air and began chanting the names of Krishna and dancing.
JAGANNATHA MISHRA appeared as the father of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, chapter 13.)
JAHNAVA MATA was the wife of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. Especially after the disappearance of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda, she became a leading figure in the sankirtana movement.
JAYADEVA GOSWAMI is the author of the Gita-govinda, a poem about the pastimes of Sri Sri Radha Krishna. He appeared 300 years before the advent of Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya relished hearing the Gita-govinda sung by His close associates. To this day the poem is recited daily in the temple of Lord Jagannatha in Jagannatha Puri, Orissa. Jayadeva Goswami is also the author of the famed Dashavatara Stotra.
JAYANANDA PRABHU was a dedicated disciple of Srila Prabhupada's who helped Srila Prabhupada introduce the Rathayatra festival in the United States.
JIVA GOSWAMI, the nephew and disciple of Srila Rupa Goswami, was one of the six Goswamis of Vrindavana. After the disappearance of Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami became the leading acharya for the Vaishnava community. Srila Jiva Goswami was the greatest and most prolific scholar of his time. He composed half a million Sanskrit verses about the science of devotion and the glories of Krishna. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.85.)
JHULANA-YATRA is a five-day festival during which deities of Srimati Radharani and Sri Krishna are placed on a nicely decorated swing and gently swung by their devotees. This festival reenacts the loving pastimes the divine couple shared on Earth five-thousand years ago, and that they share eternally in the spiritual world. It is one of the biggest festivals of the year in Vrindavana, India.
KASISVARA PANDITA served as Lord Chaitanya's bodyguard in Jagannatha Puri. Another of His services was to distribute prasadam after kirtana. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 8.66)
KRISHNA, LORD SRI is the Absolute Truth, the original form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The words of Bhagavad-gita are His spoken instructions, and the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam aims at describing His glories. (See also the summary study for the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam entitled "Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.")
KRISHNADASA KAVIRAJA GOSWAMI was born in Katva, Bengal, but lived most of his life in Vrindavana after being directed there by Lord Nityananda in a dream. He was a disciple of Raghunatha Dasa Goswami and was given the title “Kaviraja” (king of poets) by Jiva Goswami because of his expert writing. His masterpiece is the Chaitanya-charitamrita. He wrote this most accurate, authentic, and philosophical biography of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in response to the desires of the Vaishnavas of Vrindavana to hear more about the later pastimes of the Lord. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura remarked that one day scholars would learn Bengali just to be able to read the Chaitanya-charitamrita. Despite his eminent qualifications in so many ways, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami was the very personification of humility.
LALITA is the chief among the eight principal associates of Srimati Radharani.
LOCANA DASA THAKURA, a disciple of Narahari Sharakara Thakura, wrote many Bengali songs glorifying Lord Chaitanya. His most famous poetic work is the Chaitanya-mangala, a depiction of Lord Chaitanya's life. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.78-79.)
LOKANATHA GOSWAMI was a personal associate of Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya ordered him and Bhugarbha Goswami to find the lost holy places of Vrindavana. Years later, the six Goswamis came to Vrindavana and continued this work. Lokanatha Goswami constructed the Radha-Gokulananda temple in Vrindavana. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura was his only disciple. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila 18.49.)
MADHAVENDRA PURI was the spiritual master of the spiritual master of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Madhavendra Puri established the worship of the Gopala Deity, who is today worshiped as Srinathaji. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila, chapter 4.)
MADHU PANDITA, a disciple of Sri Gadadhara Pandita, established the temple of Gopinatha in Vrindavana, India. Before Srinivasa Acharya, Narottama dasa Thakura, and Syamananda Prabhu went to bring the books of the Goswamis from Vrindavana to Bengal, Madhu Pandita blessed Srinivasa Acharya with a garland from Sri Gopinatha. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 12.88.)
MADHVACHARYA is the principal acharya, or spiritual teacher, in the Brahma-sampradaya, the Vaishnava disciplic line from which the Gaudiya sampradaya descends. He was born in Udupi, South India, in the early thirteenth century. At the age of five he took initiation and at the age of twelve left home to take sannyasa. Madhvacharya studied the Vedas under the compiler of the Vedas, Vyasadeva, in the Himalayas. Madhvacharya's Vedanta-sutra commentary--Purnaprajna-bhasya--establishes the doctrine known as Suddha-dvaita-vada. Madhva used his erudite scholarship to crush the Mayavada (impersonalistic) philosophy and establish devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila 9.245.)
MAHESHA PANDITA was one of the twelve gopalas who were close associates of Lord Nityananda. He traveled and preached with Lord Nityananda. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 11.32.)
MUKUNDA DATTA, the son of Vasudeva Datta, was a classmate of Lord Chaitanya's. Mukunda Datta had a melodious voice, and he knew the intricacies of musical meters and ragas. Lord Chaitanya took sannyasa amidst Mukunda Datta's kirtana. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.40 and 17.65 and Madhya-lila 11.137-140.)
MURARI GUPTA was a lifelong associate of Lord Chaitanya. He served Lord Chaitanya in all of the Lord's Navadvipa pastimes. By profession a doctor, Murari Gupta freed his patients not only from their physical ailments but also from the contamination of the material energy. Murari Gupta is considered an incarnation of Hanuman, the eternal servant of Lord Ramachandra. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.49-51 and Madhya-lila 15.137-157.)
NARAHARI SARAKARA was a personal associate of Lord Chaitanya. He would often serve the Lord by fanning Him with a camara. He was also a great scholar and poet. His books Padakalpataru and Krishna-bhajanamrita include sweet songs praising Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda. The celebrated Locana dasa Thakura was his disciple. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.78-79.)
NAROTTAMA DASA THAKURA was a leading acharya in the Gaudiya Vaishnava line. He was the only disciple of Srila Lokanatha Goswami. Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura helped bring the books of the Goswamis from Vrindavana to Bengal and Orissa. In Kheturi gram, Bengal, he inaugurated the first Gaura Purnima festival after the disappearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is most famous for his Prarthana, a composition of thirty-three Bengali songs.
NIMBARKACARYA was the principal acharya in the Kumara sampradaya, one of the four main lines of Vaishnava teachers and disciples. His Vedanta-sutra commentary--Parijata-saurabha-bhasya--establishes the doctrine known as Dwaitadwaita-vada. He preached Krishna consciousness about 300 years before the advent of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
NITYANANDA PRABHU, LORD appeared as Lord Chaitanya's principal associate for spreading the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord. He especially spread the holy name of the Lord throughout Bengal. He is considered an incarnation of Lord Balarama. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, chapter 5.)
NRISIMHADEVA is Lord Krishna’s half-man and half-lion incarnation. After Varahadeva killed the demon Hiranyaksha, the demon’s younger brother, Hiranyakashipu, performed severe austerities to conquer the universe. Although Lord Brahma could not grant him immortality, he did give Hiranyakashipu the boons that he could not be killed by any man or animal, by anything living or dead, during the day or night, inside or outside, on the land or in the sea or sky. Although seemingly invincible, when Hiranyakashipu tormented his youngest son Prahlada, a pure devotee of the Lord, Sri Krishna burst out of a palace column as Nrisimhadeva. By killing Hiranyakashipu in the form of a half-man and half-lion, with his fingernails, at dusk, in the threshold of the palace and on his lap, Nrisimhadeva simultaneously respected the boons given by Brahma and saved His dear devotee Prahlada Maharaja. (See Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.18 and 2.7.14, and Canto Seven, Chapters 8 and 9.)
PUNDARIKA VIDYANIDHI was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri and was the guru of Sri Gadadhara Pandita. Pundarika Vidyanidhi was sometimes misunderstood to be too much attached to material pleasures, but just by hearing the recitation of one verse of the Bhagavatam he would enter into a trance. In Krishna's pastimes he was Vrishabhanu, the father of Srimati Radharani. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.14 and Madhya-lila 16.76-81.)
PURUSOTTAMA DASA THAKURA was a great devotee of Lord Nityananda. In Goloka Vrindavana, Purushottama Dasa Thakura serves Lord Balarama as a cowherd boy. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 11.38-40.)
RADHARANI, SRIMATI is the eternal consort of Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. She is the internal pleasure potency of the Lord. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila, chapter 4.)
RAGHUNANDANA THAKURA was the son of the great devotee Mukunda Dasa. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.78-79.)
RAGHUNATHA BHATTA GOSWAMI, one of the six Goswamis of Vrindavana, was ordered by Lord Chaitanya to go to Vrindavana and there constantly chant the Hare Krishna mantra and read Srimad-Bhagavatam. Every day in Vrindavana, he would sweetly sing the verses of the Bhagavatam to the local residents. His tears of pure love would wet the pages of the Bhagavatam as he sang. Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami never criticized anyone. He believed that all Vaishnavas are sincerely serving Krishna according to their realization and therefore one should overlook their faults. Under his inspiration, a wealthy disciple built the temple for the Radha-Govinda Deities in Vrindavana. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.152-158.)
RAGHUNATHA DASA GOSWAMI, one of the six Goswamis, at a young age renounced his beautiful wife and opulent home to join Lord Chaitanya and His sankirtana movement. For sixteen years, he was the personal assistant of Lord Chaitanya's secretary, Swarupa Damodara. Along with Swarupa Damodara, he witnessed Lord Chaitanya's last days on earth. After the Lord's disappearance he went to Vrindavana, where he lived austerely, absorbed in devotion, in the company of Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Sanatana Goswami. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.91-103 and Antya-lila, chapter 6.)
RAMACHANDRA, LORD SRI is a powerful incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as an ideal king. He appeared in the Treta-yuga, more than two million years ago. Under the order of His father, Maharaja Dasharatha, Lord Ramachandra lived in the Dandakaranya forest for fourteen years, along with His wife, Sita Devi, and His younger brother, Lakshmana. After the powerful demon Ravana kidnapped His wife, Lord Ramachandra retrieved her, with the help of His faithful servant Hanuman, and killed Ravana along with Ravana's armies. The history of Lord Ramachandra's pastimes is recounted by the sage Valmiki in his Ramayana. (See also Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.22, 2.7.23-25, 5.19.1-8 and Canto Nine, chapters 10 and 11.)
RAMACHANDRA KAVIRAJA was a disciple of Srila Srinivasa Acharya and an intimate friend of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura. He widely preached the glories of the holy name of Lord Krishna and initiated many disciples into the service of Lord Chaitanya. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 11.51.)
RAMANANDA RAYA was one of the most intimate associates of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would discuss with him the most confidential topics of Krishna consciousness, and in his company Lord Chaitanya would relish the deepest feelings of devotional service. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.134, Madhya-lila 7.62-67, Madhya-lila chapter 8, and Antya-lila chapter 5.)
RAMANUJACHARYA (1017-1137) was the principal acharya in the Sri sampradaya, one of the four main lines of Vaishnava teachers and disciples. His Vedanta-sutra commentary--Sri-bhasya--establishes the doctrine known as Vishishtadvaita, "qualified nondualism." A staunch proponent of the philosophy of personalism, he taught that although the Supreme Lord and the individual souls are qualitatively one, there is still a difference between them, for the Lord is infinite and the living entities are infinitesimal. Srila Ramanujacharya traveled extensively throughout India, teaching personalism and defeating proponents of monistic philosophy. He founded seventy-four centers of Sri Vaishnavism and initiated seven hundred sannyasis (renounced monks), twelve thousand brahmacharis (celibate students), and thousands of householders, including kings and wealthy landowners.
RASIKANANDA PRABHU preached Krishna consciousness in northern Orissa after the disappearance of Lord Chaitanya. He was the principal disciple of Shyamananda Goswami.
RUKMINI DEVI is the eternal consort of Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. She is the internal pleasure potency of the Lord. Whereas Srimati Radharani is Krishna’s consort in His childhood home of Vrindavana, Rukmini Devi is His chief queen in Dwaraka, His opulent capital. She was betrothed to the evil Shishupala, but Krishna kidnapped her after she wrote Him a letter asking Him to do so. She is considered an expansion of the gopi (cowherd girl) Chandravali. (See Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chapters 52-54.)
RUPA GOSWAMI is known as bhakti-rasacharya, the expert in the tastes of pure devotional service. He and his elder brother, Srila Sanatana Goswami, left high posts in the government of Nawab Hussein Shah to join Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Empowered by Lord Chaitanya, Srila Rupa Goswami wrote many books about the science of Krishna consciousness. A summary study of his Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu is available as "The Nectar of Devotion," and his Upadeshamrita is available as "The Nectar of Instruction." (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.84, Madhya-lila 1.36-41, Madhya-lila chapter 19, and Antya-lila chapter 1.)
SANATANA GOSWAMI, the elder brother of Srila Rupa Goswami, was the senior-most among the six Goswamis of Vrindavana. At Varanasi, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed him in detail about the science of devotional service. Lord Chaitanya sent Srila Sanatana Goswami to Vrindavana and gave him a fourfold mission: to uncover the lost sites of Krishna's pastimes, to install Deities of the Lord and arrange for Their worship, to write books on Krishna consciousness, and to teach the rules of devotional life. Srila Sanatana Goswami, along with Srila Rupa Goswami, fulfilled all four parts of this mission. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.84, Madhya-lila 1.35, Madhya-lila chapters 20-24, and Antya-lila chapter 4.)
SARANGA THAKURA, an associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, lived under a Bakula tree in Navadvipa during the time of Lord Chaitanya. During the day he would gather materials for the worship of his Deities, and in the evenings he would cross the sacred Ganges River to join Lord Chaitanya's kirtanas. The great devotee Murari Thakura was his disciple. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.113.)
SITA DEVI, a manifestation of the goddess of fortune, Lakshmi Devi, is the eternal consort of Lord Ramachandra. When Lord Ramachandra was banished to the Dandakaranya forest, Sita Devi left the comforts of the royal palace to join Him. While in the forest she was kidnapped by the demonic king Ravana, yet despite his endeavors to enjoy her beauty, she remained always dedicated to Lord Ramachandra.
SITA THAKURANI was the wife of Sri Advaita Acharya. She was always absorbed in parental love for Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Because of Sita Devi's love, Shaci Mata often chose her as the first person to worship Lord Chaitanya during any auspicious ceremony. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 13.111-118.)
SIVANANDA SENA, an associate of Lord Chaitanya, used all his possessions and wealth in the service of Lord Chaitanya and His devotees. Every year he would lead a party of 200 devotees from Bengal to Jagannatha Puri to attend the annual Ratha-yatra festival. He would arrange for the devotees' food, tolls, ferries, and lodging. Shivananda Sena's family and servants were all dedicated to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.54-55 and 10.60-64, and Antya-lila 1.16-32, 2.22-82, 10.142-151 and 12.15-53.)
SRIDHARA SWAMI was the first devotee to join the Hare Krishna movement in his hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Very shortly after being initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1969, however, Sridhara Brahmachari went to India, where he spent most of his devotional career. In 1975, he entered the sannyasa (renunciant) order of life. He later joined the Governing Body Commission (GBC) of ISKCON.
Sridhara Swami is most well-known for his innovative fundraising efforts, his pioneering preaching activities in India, and his jovial personality. In the early 1990’s, he dovetailed the latest technology in Krishna’s service by introducing direct-mail fundraising into ISKCON. Previous to that, he had helped found, and had acted as president for, temples in Calcutta, Hyderabad, and most importantly, Mumbai. His congregational preaching efforts and sustained leadership in the Juhu temple project were crucial to its glorious success. It was there that he earned the title “The Jolly Swami,” a perfect epithet for this most inspiring and personable of souls.
Sridhara Swami spent the last years of his life championing the development of ISKCON’s world headquarters in Mayapur, West Bengal, and he fittingly passed away there shortly after helping to install five new larger-than-life deities of the Pancha Tattva (Lord Chaitanya and His for main associates).
SRINIVASA ACARYA was a member of the party that first brought the books of the six Goswamis from Vrindavana to Bengal and Orissa. He converted King Birahambira to the Vaishnava religion and helped organized the first Gaura Purnima festival, celebrating the birth anniversary of Lord Chaitanya, in Kheturi Gram.
SRIVASA PANDITA, or Srivasa Thakura, was a member of the Panca-tattva, consisting of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His four immediate expansions and energies. Every night, Lord Chaitanya and His associates would chant the names of Krishna and dance in Srivasa Pandita's house. Srivasa Pandita never made any effort to support himself or his dependents. Because of his full dedication to Lord Chaitanya and His mission, Lord Chaitanya provided for all his needs. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.8.)
SWARUPA DAMODARA GOSWAMI was the personal secretary of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is said to have been like a second Mahaprabhu because he deeply understood the Lord's conclusions on Krishna bhakti, devotional service to Krishna. He was a great scholar as well as an expert musician. In the company of Srila Swarupa Damodara Goswami at Jagannatha Puri, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would taste the deepest emotions of devotional service. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 4.105 and Madhya-lila 10.102-129 and 13.163-167.)
SHYAMANANDA PRABHU, a disciple of Hridaya Chaitanya, established the temple of Sri Radha-Shyamasundara in Vrindavana. On the order of his spiritual master, Shyamananda, along with his foremost disciple, Rasikananda Prabhu, spread the worship and service of Lord Chaitanya throughout Orissa.
TAMAL KRISHNA GOSWAMI, was initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1968, and soon emerged as one of the most expert managers and powerful preachers in the Hare Krishna movement. He was made ISKCON’s Governing Body Commissioner of India in 1970, and received the order of sannyasa in 1972. He was Srila Prabhupada’s personal secretary during Prabhupada’s last year among us. Although he initiated over a thousand disciples all over the world, his preaching was especially pioneering in Texas, Fiji, the Orient, and the Philippines. He was also instrumental in acquiring the first ISKCON land in Mayapur, West Bengal.
Tamal Krishna Goswami introduced street chanting (sankirtana) and magazine distribution to the fledgling Hare Krishna movement on the west coast of the USA, and then, in 1974, started the Radha Damodara Traveling Sankirtana Party with his friend Vishnujana Swami. They converted buses into traveling temples, complete with deities and kitchens, and traveled from one American college campus to another, spreading the holy name of Krishna.
In Dallas, he oversaw the development of a wonderful temple, with a large, active Indian congregation and a restaurant that Vegetarian Times declared one of the top ten in the country.
In his later years, Tamal Krishna Goswami became well-known for his scholarship and writings. At the age of fifty, he earned a B.A. in religious studies, along with many honors and accolades, from Southern Methodist University. He also nearly completed a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge before passing away in Mayapur, surrounded by his friends, disciples, and well-wishers. The theme of his dissertation was Srila Prabhupada’s contribution to the world of theology. Some of his other writings include a novel entitled The Story of Li Kuang Shi, which is the tale of a Chinese doctoral student’s religious odyssey on the streets of New York, and a play entitled Jagannatha-priya Natakam, which was the first English language drama ever written according to the exacting techniques of dramatic presentation prescribed in the ancient Sanskrit texts.
UDDHARANA DATTA THAKURA was an intimate associate of Lord Nityananda. Raised in a family of gold merchants, he later married and became a wealthy minister. Lord Nityananda would often stay in his home. At the age of twenty-six, Uddharana Datta Thakura renounced home and family and joined Lord Nityananda's kirtana party. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 11.41.)
VAKRESHWARA PANDITA is mentioned in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita for his ecstatic dancing. Once, in the house of Srivasa Thakura, he danced in constant ecstasy for seventy-two hours. He made many disciples, especially in Orissa, among them Sri Gopala-guru Goswami. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.17-18.)
VAMANADEVA is Lord Krishna's incarnation as a dwarf brahmana. Lord Vamanadeva begged from Bali Maharaja three paces of land. When the request was granted, Lord Vamanadeva assumed a gigantic form and with two steps covered first the earth and then the entire universe. For the third step, Bali Maharaja was then pleased to receive the Lord's lotus foot on his head. (See Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.19, 2.7.17 and Eighth Canto, chapters 20-23.)
VAMSHIDASA BABAJI MAHARAJA was a paramahamsa devotee who sometimes lived in Navadvipa at the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. Wearing only a loincloth and eating whatever came his way, Vamshidasa Babaji Maharaja traveled throughout India, visiting holy places. He worshiped Lord Krishna on a spontaneous platform that neophytes on the path of devotion cannot imitate.
VAMSIVADANANDA THAKURA wrote many sweet poems expressing his devotion to Krishna. The day he appeared, Lord Chaitanya and Sri Advaita Prabhu were staying in his home in Bengal. After the disappearance of Srimati Vishnupriya Devi, he worshiped her Deities in Navadvipa.
VARAHADEVA is the boar incarnation Sri Krishna. He assumed the form of a boar to lift the drowning planet earth from the Garbhodaka Ocean with His tusks. The demon Hiryanyaksha had thrown the planet earth into this ocean, but the Lord stabbed the demon with His tusks and saved the earth. (See Sri Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.7 and 2.7.1 and Canto Three, chapters 13, 18 and 19.)
VASUDEVA GHOSH, an intimate associate of Lord Chaitanya, was known for his kirtana. Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita says that when Vasudeva Ghosh led kirtana, even wood and stone would melt upon hearing it. He composed many songs about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Vasudeva Ghosh and his brothers Govinda and Madhava are eternal associates of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu.(See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.115, 11.14-15, 11.19 and 11.88.)
VIRABHADRA GOSWAMI was the son of Lord Nityananda and one of his wives, Vashudha, and the disciple of his other wife, Jahnava Devi. He is mentioned as an incarnation of Kshirodakashayi Vishnu, and is therefore nondifferent from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself. Still, he strictly followed the Vedic rituals and was prideless. It is said that he brought a big stone from Murshidabad from which three deities were carved—namely, Radhavallabha of Vallabhapura, Syamasundara of Khadadaha, and Sri Krsna Raya of Kanchadapada. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.107 and 11.8-13.)
VIRACANDRA PRABHU was the son of Lord Nityananda's second wife, Vasudha Devi, and was a disciple of Sri Jahnava Devi, Lord Nityananda's first wife. He is considered an incarnation of Kshirodakasayi Visnu.
VISNUPRIYA DEVI was the wife of Lord Chaitanya before He took sannyasa. After His sannyasa, she lived a life of severe austerity. Every day, she would set aside one grain of rice for every round of the Hare Krishna mantra she chanted. At the end of the day she would cook and offer these few grains to Lord Chaitanya, and that would be her meal. She is a manifestation of the internal energy of the Lord. (See the Bhaktivedanta purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.23.20.)
VISHWANATHA CAKRAVARTI THAKURA, a great Vaishnava acharya, appeared in 1674 in what is now the Nadia district of West Bengal. During his time, he served as the protector, guardian, and acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava line. He wrote more than forty Sanskrit books on the science of pure devotion, including commentaries on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and the books of the six Goswamis. His eight prayers to the spiritual master are sung daily by the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.
VISHWARUPA was the elder brother of Lord Chaitanya. He is considered a partial expansion of Lord Nityananda. At an early age he left home to take sannyasa. In 1431 he disappeared in Pandarpura in the district of Solapura, India. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 10.106, 13.74-80, and 15.11-14 and Madhya-lila 9.299-300.)
VRNDAVANA DASA THAKURA was the author of Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata, a great biography of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He is considered the manifest Vyasadeva of Lord Chaitanya's pastimes. He was born shortly after the disappearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. At the age of twenty, he accepted formal initiation from Lord Nityananda. It was on Lord Nityananda's order that he wrote Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata. (See Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 8.33-42 and 11.54-55.)