Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has described in Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita that the first sprout of the desire tree of devotion was manifest in the person of Sri Madhavendra Puri, and that sprout developed into a sapling in the person of Sri Ishvara Puri. Then, in the person of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Who was also the gardener Himself, that sapling became the trunk of an enormous tree, the desire tree of devotion.
Sri Ishvara Puri appeared in this world on the full moon day of the month of Jyestha. He served his guru, Sri Madhavendra Puri, very faithfully, especially during the end of Sri Puripada's life.
Sri Ishvara Puri, in his travels to various holy places, once came to Sridhama Navadvipa. At that time Sri Nimai Pandita was absorbed in His pastimes of learning. Ishvara Puri entered Nadiya nagara in disguise and thus no one could understand who he really was.
He was always absorbed in the mellows of devotion to Sri Krishna. He was thus extremely dear to Sri Krishna and was an ocean of mercy. No one, however, could recognize him by his dress.
He came to where Sri Advaita Acharya was engaged in worshipping Sri Krishna and quietly sat down there. By his divine lustre, one Vaishnava cannot remain hidden from another. Advaita Acharya began to look in his direction again and again. Finally, he asked him: "Who are you? I have a feeling you are a Vaishnava sannyasi."
Sri Ishvara Puri very humbly replied: "I am a low class shudra, come to view your lotus feet." Mukunda Datta, who was also present, could also understand that this is a Vaishnava sannyasi and thus he contrived to expose him. In his sweet voice, he began a kirtana describing Sri Krishna's pastimes. When Sri Ishvara Puri heard that kirtan he at once fell to the ground, and the earth beneath him became wet with his tears. The devotees present were dumbstruck. "We haven't seen a Vaishnava like this before."
Everyone could now understand that this was Madhavendra Puri's dear most disciple, Sri Ishvara Puri.
Sri Ishvara Puri remained at Navadvipa for a few months, staying at the house of Sri Gopinatha Acharya. Mahaprabhu would come to have darshan of his lotus feet everyday and at times would invite him for lunch. One evening when Mahaprabhu had come to offer His obeisances to Ishvara Puri, Srila Puripada spoke to him, "You are a great pandita. I have composed a manuscript about Sri Krishna's pastimes. If you would please hear it, then I can recite it before You, and You can correct any mistakes that there might be." To which Mahaprabhu smilingly replied, "Whatever a devotee speaks is dictated by Sri Krishna Himself. If anyone sees any fault in this then he is simply a sinful wretch. Krishna accepts the mood in which things are offered as the most substantial part of the offering." To Ishvara Puri these words were like drops of nectar and he could understand that Sri Nimai Pandita was an extraordinary person. After passing some days in Nadia, Ishvara Puri continued his tour of the holy places.
Meanwhile Mahaprabhu was bringing His pastimes of learning to a close and now desired to reveal His true self and establish the religion of the age by distributing love of Godhead through the chanting of His Holy Names. Thus, He came to Gaya, ostensibly to offer pinda for His departed father and forefathers. Sri Ishvara Puri was present at that time at Gaya.
Mahaprabhu addressed Ishvara Puri, "My journey to Gaya is successful just by My seeing your lotus feet. If one offers pinda at this holy place, then his forefathers become delivered. But simply by seeing you, tens of millions of forefathers get liberation. Therefore, your presence is even more auspicious than that of this holy tirtha. All of the holy tirthas pray for the dust of your lotus feet. Therefore, O Puripada, I am praying at your lotus feet to ferry me across the ocean of material existence and to cause me to drink the nectar from Krishna's lotus feet."
Srila Ishvara Puri replied, "Please hear me, I have understood that You are an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. I saw a very auspicious dream and now that has actually materialized. From the first day I saw you at Navadvipa, I have always thought of You. I get such pleasure by seeing You, as much pleasure as I get by seeing Krishna."
Hearing this, Mahaprabhu bowed his head and smilingly replied, "This is my great fortune."
On another day Mahaprabhu approached Sri Ishvara Puri and requested that he initiate Him with the divine mantra. "My mind is becoming very restless in anticipation of this initiation.” Srila Puripada very blissfully replied, "What to speak of mantras, I am prepared to offer You my very life."