From the time that he was a boy, Gadadhara Pandita was always in the association of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Gadadhara Pandita’s father’s name was Sri Madhava Misra; his mother’s name was Sri Ratnavati Devi . They lived close to the house of Jagannatha Misra in Mayapura. Sri Ratnavati Devi looked upon Sacidevi as if Sacidevi were her big sister. The two of them were always spending time with each other. At the of his childhood pastimes, Gaurahari used to often play with Gadadhara Pandita. They both went to the village school together to study. Gadadhara Pandita was a year younger than Gaurahari. Gadadhara had so much affection for Gaurahari that he could not leave his company even for a moment.
In the Gaura-ganodesa-dipika it has been explained by Kavi Karnapura that in Vraja-lila Sri Gadadhara Pandita was the daughter of Vrsabhanu—Srimati Radharani. This is confirmed in the notebooks of Svarupa Damodara as well as in the songs of Sri Vasudeva Ghosa Thakura. According to Sri Caitanya Caritamrta: “No one can describe the characteristics and ecstatic love of Gadadhara Pandita. Therefore another name for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Gadadhara Prananatha, “the life and soul of Gadadhara Pandita.” No one can say how merciful the Lord is to Gadadhara Pandita, but people know the Lord as Gadaira Gaura, “the Lord Gauranga of Gadadhara Pandita.”
The Caitanya bhagavata records that when Isvara Puri stayed in Nabadwipa Mayapura, he lived at the house of Sri Gopinatha acarya for a few months. At that time, ^svara Puri was very affectionate towards Gadadhara and tutured him from his book Krsna-lilamrta. From his early childhood, Gadadhara Pandita was very serious and self-composed. He was peaceful, renounced, and fond of solitude. On the other hand, in His childhood, Gaurasundara appeared to be very fickle, unsteady, and whimsical. When they were studying in school, he would distrub Gadadhara with whimsical questions whose sophistry was meant to baffle Gadadhara. Gadadhara didn’t like this as it disturbed his mind and his studies. As a result he was forced to keep Gaurahari at a distance. But he couldn’t bear to keep aloof from the Lord. This posed a great dilemma for Gadadhara Pandita. The Lord said, “Gadadhara! Soon I shall become such a great Vaisnava that even Brahma and Siva will come to me and bow down.
Sri Gadadhara Pandita was especially affectionate towards Mukunda Datta. Whenever sadhus or sannyasis would come to Nabadwipa from somewhere, Mukunda Datta would tell Gadadhara and together they would go and visit that holy man. One time, from Chattagrama, Pundarika Vidyanidhi came to Nabadwipa. At that time, Mukunda Datta intimated to Gadadhara that there was a Vaisnava worth seeing, and suggested they they go visit him. With great jubilation at the prospect of seeing a Vaisnava, Gadadhara Pandita went to visit Pundarika Vidyanidhi with Mukunda Datta. When Gadadhara Pandita came before Pundarika, he saw that he appeared to be a great materialist. His faith was somewhat damaged upon seeing this. He said to himself, “If he is a Vaisnava, why does he appear to be such a materialist?”
Mukunda Datta, knowing the mind of Gadadhara, sweetly sang a verse about Krsna-lila. Mukunda Datta had known Pundarika Vidyanidhi, and by sweetly chanting this verse he awakened his inner consciousness. Hearing Mukunda Datta singing this verse about krsna-lila from Srimad-Bhagavatam he began crying “Krsna! Krsna!” and weeping again and again. The Caitanya-Bhagavata says that the flowing of tears from his eyes was as if the Ganges had descended. Finally he fell upon the ground, and after rolling back and forth for some time lost consciousness.
Upon seeing this, Gadadhara Pandita felt great remorse within his mind. He began to reconsider his attitude toward Pundarika Vidyanidhi. He thought, “I thought that this great devotee, this mahabhagavata, was an ordinary sense enjoyer. I have committed a great offense. If, however, I accept mantra initiation from him I may become free from this offense. I see no other way.” In this way, Sri Gadadhara Pandita made up his mind to take initiation from Pundarika Vidyanidhi.
When Pundarika returned to his external consciousness, Mukunda Datta introduced Gadadhara Pandita to him. Hearing from Mukunda Datta about the character of Gadadhara Pandita, Pundarika was delighted. When he heard of Gadadhara’s desire to become his disciple he was pleased. He smiled, saying, “I consider myself very fortunate. Only after many many births does one get a disciple like this.” Soon after this, one an auspicious day, Sri Gadadhara Pandita accepted mantra initiation from Pundarika Vidyanidhi.
After Caitanya Mahaprabhu returned from Gaya-dhama, he began his manifestations of Krsna-prema. At Gaya, he had performed his pastime of taking shelter of ^svara Puri. Once he returned home, he began a new life. Day and night he would float in the ocean of Krsna-prema. Seeing Mahaprabhu’s wonderful tears of ecstasy in Krsna-prema, Gadadhara found himself also overwhelmed with ecstasy. He too cried tears of joy in divine love of Krsna. From then on Gadadhara Pandita found it difficult to give up the Lord’s association even for an hour. One day, Gadadhara brought Mahaprabhu some tambula. When he arrived at the house of the Lord, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was deeply absorbed in a mood of separation from Krsna. Mahaprabhu said, “Gadadhara! Where is Syamasundara? Where is that Lord of Vrndavana who is dressed in yellow cloth?” Saying this, the Lord began to weep. Gadadhara was stunned and could not understand what answer to give. With great reverence, he humbly submitted, “Krsna is in your heart.”
Upon hearing this Mahaprabhu began tearing at his chest, but Gadadhara quickly restrained His hands from doing any damage. The Lord said, “Gadadhara! Let go of my hands! If I cannot see Krsna I will not be able to maintain my life.” Gadadhara said, “If you just remain patient, Krsna will surely reveal Himself. He will surely come here before long.” With this Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was pacified. Seeing these pastimes of Gaura-Gadadhara from a little distance, Sacimata thought to herself with great satisfaction, “This boy Gadadhara is very intelligent. I need not fear for Gaurahari’s sake.” Sacimata said, “Gadadhara! You must always stay by the side of my son Gaurahari; in this way I shall not have to worry.
One day in the house of Suklambhara Brahmacari the Lord was to speak something about Krsna. Hearing this, Gadadhara went to the house of Suklambhara Brahmacari and took his seat within the house. Outside on the veranda the Lord began to speak. As the Lord spoke he became overwhelmed with ecstasy and went into a rasik trance. All the devotees surrounding him also began to swim in the waves of prema. In this way for some time everyone tasted prema-rasa. Gadadhara’s prema could not have been more intense. Lowering his head he began loudly weeping again and again with tears of ecstasy. Hearing Gadadhara’s pitiful tears, Mahaprabhu said, “Who is that within the house who is weeping so intensely?“ Suklambhara Brahmacari said, “It is your Gadadhara.” The Lord said, “Gadadhara! You are most fortunate. From your early childhood you have been a determined devotee of Krsna. My own birth was useless. Because of all my sinful karma I could not attain Krsna.” Saying this the Lord embraced Gadadhara in great ecstatic love.
When the Lord was performing his Nabadwipa-lila his chief assistant was Gadadhara. They who in Vrndavana are Radha-Krsna take the form of Gaura-Gadadhara in these pastimes in Nabadwipa on the banks of the Ganges. And those who in Vrndavana are gopas and gopis take part in the pastimes of the Lord in Nabadwipa by performing kirtana. One day the Lord was wandering by the banks of the Ganges when he came upon a small forest grove and sat down. Gradually he became absorbed in remembering the Vrndavana pastimes. Mukunda Datta began sweetly singing songs in the purva-raga. Gadadhara, after gathering flowers in the forest decorated the Lord’s neck with a garland. Just as formerly in Vrndavana, Sri Radha used to decorate Lord Krsna, inthe same way Gadadhara decorated the holy form of Lord Gauranga. Someone sang a sweet song, someone performed a beautiful dance. At length Gauranga sat Gadadhara down on the root of a tree which served as a raised platform. Sri Advaita acarya performed the aroti to the two of them. Sri Nityananda Prabhu was seated on the left of them. Srivasa Pandita Prabhu was taking flowers and decorating them. Narahari was waving the camara. Suklambhara was offering candana. Murari Gupta was singing glories to the Lord. Madhava, Vasudeva, Pursottama, Vijaya, and Mukunda, as well as others sang different songs in various ragas.
In this way, the Lord finished his Nadiya-lila; he performed his sannyasa-lila and left his mother and his country and went to live in Jagannatha Puri. At that time Gadadhara Pandita followed Him and also went to Jagnnatha Puri, to live. There Gadadhara Pandita engaged himself in the service of the Sri Gopinatha deity. At that time the Lord would regularly go and visit his dear Gadadhara to float in the waves of rasa by discussing Krsna. When the Lord made his pilgrimage to Vrndavana, he forbade Gadadhara Pandita to go with Him. At that time, his separation knew no bounds.
Gadadhara Pandita use to teach a Srimad-Bhagavatam class. His eternal companion, Sri Gaurasundara used to sit and hear from him. Sri Gadadhara Pandita’s discussion of Srimad-Bhagavatam was like an ocean of nectar. After the forty-eight years of the Lord’s manifest pastimes were over, He disappeared into the Gopinatha deity of Gadadhara Pandita. This is recorded in Bhakti-ratnakara.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has written:
smara gaura gadadhara kelikalam
bhava gaura gadadhara paksacaram
srnu gaura gadadhara carukatham
bhaja godruma-kanana kunjavidhum
Remember the wonderful pastimes of Gaura and Gadadhara. Become a servant of Gaura and Gadadhara. Listen to the beautiful narrations concerning Gaura and Gadadhara, and worship Lord Gaura, the beautiful moon of the groves of Godrum.
Sri Gadadhara Pandita Goswami’s appearance day is on the dark moon day of the month of Vaisakha.