Sri Devananda Pandita used to live at Kuliya in Bengal. He was a famous reciter of the Srimad Bhagavatam. One afternoon, hundreds of students were seated around Devananda Pandita; and when Srivasa Pandita who was a very advanced devotee heard the sweet nectar of the Bhagavatam, he started to cry and roll on the ground.
When the students of Devananda saw this, they thought he was crazy. They picked him up and carried him outside. Though Devananda saw all this he didn’t prevent his students. Srivasa said nothing and just went home. This occurred before the appearance of Sri Gaurasundara.
Once when Mahaprabhu was taking a stroll around Nadiyanagara, he came to Mahesvara Visarada Pandit’s house. At that time Devananda was residing there. Mahaprabhu heard him reciting the Srimad Bhagavatam from outside and became very angry.
“What purport will that rascal explain? Not in any of his births has he understood the meaning of even one verse of the Srimad Bhagavatam. The Bhagavatam is the avatara of Sri Krishna in book form. Devotion is the only subject it teaches. The four Vedas are like yoghurt and the Bhagavatam is like butter. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami did the churning and Maharaja Parikshit ate that butter. Sukadeva Gosvami is very dear to Me. He knows very well that the Srimad Bhagavatam is meant to describe the truth about Me according to My own liking. Whoever sees any difference between Me, My own devotees and the Srimad Bhagavatam simply brings destruction upon himself.” [C.B. Mad 21.13]
Devananda could hear all of these remarks from the distance, yet he thought nothing of it. After some time Gaurasundara accepted sannyasa and went to live at Nilachala. It was then that Devananda at last began to feel some remorse. “Such a great soul, totally imbued with love of God, but I never went even once to have his association.”
One day Srila Vakreshvara Pandita came to Kuliya to visit the house of a devotee. In the evening he held a festival of dancing and chanting the Holy Name. Devananda was present on this occasion, and was stunned by Sri Vakreshvara’s ecstatic chanting and dancing. When Vakreshvara fainted in ecstatic love, Devananda put his head on his lap and brushed the dust from his body and smeared that on his own body. After some days, Mahaprabhu returned to Bengal and also came to Kuliya. All of those who had previously committed offenses against Nimai Pandita by thinking Him to be an ordinary human being now came to seek His forgiveness; Mahaprabhu forgave each and every one of them. Among those present was Devananda, who fell down on the ground to offer his obeisances to Mahaprabhu.
Mahaprabhu addressed him, “Because you have served My dear devotee Vakreshvara, I am now pleased with you. By that service you have now been able to approach Me. Within Vakreshvara’s person is Sri Krishna’s complete potency. Whoever serves him must receive Krishna’s mercy.”
Devananda, in a faltering voice replied, “Only because You have shown Yourself to me have I been able to see You. Please let me know the actual purport of the Srimad Bhagavatam.”
Mahaprabhu replied, “The only way to explain the verses of the Bhagavatam is in terms of bhakti. In the beginning, middle and end of the Srimad Bhagavatam there is only one teaching: devotion to Vishnu, which is eternally perfect and which is never destroyed or diminished.”
“As Krishna’s various incarnations such as Matsya and Kurma appear and disappear in this world by Their sweet will, in the same way, the Srimad Bhagavatam is not made or composed by any person. It makes its appearance and disappearance by its own sweet will. Due to the appearance of devotion, the Bhagavatam blossomed forth from Vyasadeva’s mouth, by the mercy of Sri Krishna.
“The Bhagavata, which is saturated with loving devotion for Krishna, is an expansion of Krishna Himself and contains descriptions of His most confidential pastimes.” [C.B. Ant. 3.505-516]
“Now you should beg forgiveness by catching hold of Srivasa Pandit’s feet. The book Bhagavata and the devotee Bhagavata are not different. If the devotee Bhagavata is merciful to us, then the book Bhagavata manifests its true meaning.”
Then Devananda fell at Srivasa Pandita’s feet and begged forgiveness. Srivasa embraced him and his offense retreated far away.
Devananda Pandit’s disappearance is on the 11th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Pausa. This year it falls on January 01.