Today (Monday, April 30) is the appearance day of Sri Madhavendra Puri
Srila Madhavendra Puri also known as Madhavendra Puri Goswami appeared in fourteenth century A.D. After a pilgrimage of India as a sannyasi, he passed his life in Vrindavana and Odisha. He belongs to the Madhva line, being a disciple of Lakshmipati Tirtha. He 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.
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 guru. He was preaching the principles of Gaudiya Vaishnavism prior to Lord Chaitanya. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s service in feelings of separation (viraha) begins with a single verse spoken by Madhavendra Puri. He had many disciples but Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya and Ishvara Puri are the chief disciples of Madhavendra Puri.
Srila Madhavendra Puri once traveled to Vrindavana, where he came upon the Govardhana hill. Almost mad in his ecstasy of love of Godhead, he did not know whether it was day or night. He then sat beneath a tree to take his evening rest. While he was resting 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 for some food to eat? What kind of meditation are you undergoing?”
Hearing His sweet words, Madhavendra Puri forgot all hunger and thirst. He asked the boy, “Who are You? Where do You reside? And how did You know that I was fasting?”
The boy replied, ‘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.”
After drinking the milk, Madhavendra Puri waited for the boy, but he never returned. Madhavendra Puri sat and chanted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. In a dream 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, wind and scorching heat. Please construct a temple on the top of that hill, 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.”
– Excerpt from Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 4.21-43
Madhavendra Puri then went to the place where the boy instructed him to go and find the Gopala Deity. A grand installation was held for Sri Gopala. 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 disappeared in Remuna and his Samadhi and sandals are still worshiped there. It is a place of pilgrimage for many Vaishnavas.