SRI SVARUP DAMODARA
Svarup Damodar, previously known as Purusottama, was born in Bhitadia. His father’s name was Padmagarbha Acarya and his maternal grandfather was Jayarama Cakravarti. Jayarama Cakravarti, a resident of Navadvipa, arranged his daughters marriage to Padmagarbhacarya and the couple settled in Navadvipa. Shortly thereafter Svarupa Damodara was born. Padmagarbha left his family in the care of his father-in-law and went to various holy places, such as Mithila, Kasi, etc. to study the Veda and Vedanta. In Benares Padmagarbha happened to meet Laksmipati, the guru of Madhavendra Puri, and took diksa from him. When he returned home he accepted a second wife named Kamala devi, who gave birth to Laksminatha Lahidi at Bhitadia.
Purusottama (Svarupa Damodara) was brought up in Navadvipa at his maternal uncle’s house. He was extremely loyal to Lord Gauranga. He was always present with Mahaprabhu. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited His pastimes of accepting sannyasa, Swarup Damodar became like a madman and, journeying to Varanasi he also accepted sannyasa from a sannyasi named Caitanyananda Bharati. Caitanyananda ordered him: “You should yourself study the Vedanta and also teach it to others.” Sri Purusottama Acarya didn’t accept the garments of sannyasa, but simply gave up his sikha and brahmana thread. Therefore his name became Swarup (a brahmacari name). Thereafter, after taking permission from Caitanyananda, he came to Jagannatha Puri, where he again met Mahaprabhu.
Though his scholarship was practically unlimited, he spoke very little with others and preferred to remain alone. Thus very few were aware of his actual position. He was completely conversant with the understanding of the mellows of devotion to Sri Krsna and his body was fully imbued with love for Him. He was as though a second Mahaprabhu. Whenever anyone wanted to present to Mahaprabhu some book, verse or song that they had composed, Swarup Damodar would first hear what they had written before it could be presented to Mahaprabhu. If these compositions contained any points which were in contradiction to the superior position of bhakti, as concluded in scriptures, then hearing these writings would not be a source of transcendental pleasure for Mahaprabhu. Therefore Swarup Gosai would first examine what had been composed and if it was untainted then it could be presented to Mahaprabhu.
Usually he would recite Sri Gita Govinda, and the writings of Candidas and Vidyapati, for the transcendental happiness of Mahaprabhu. In music and singing he was like a Gandharva and in knowledge of the sastras he was like Brhaspati. There was no one to compare with him in talent and intelligence. He was extremely dear to Sri Advaita and Nityananda Prabhu and was the life and soul of devotees like Srivas and others.
When Sri Swarup Damodar arrived in Puri from Kasi (Varanasi), he recited this sloka in praise of Mahaprabhu: “Oh You, who are the personification of mercy - Sri Caitanya. That which very easily causes grief to retreat far away, and which is spotlessly pure; which causes the appearance of the highest happiness, and by whose appearance disputation over the intricacies of scriptural statements ceases; that which causes the spirit to become extremely agitated in ecstatic love, by a shower of grace and beauty; may that extremely expansive and auspicious mercy by its sweetness and dignity shine its rays upon me.” (Sri Caitanya Candrodoy Natak.)
Seeing that Swarup Damodar was offering his dandavats to Him, Mahaprabhu picked him up and as He embraced him he said, “I saw in a dream this morning that you had come. Just as a blind man finds unlimited happiness by regaining his eyesight, so I am feeling by regaining your association.”
Swarup Damodar replied: “Prabhu, please forgive me. By
leaving You and running off to Varanasi, I made a great mistake. I don’t have even a hint of attachment to your lotus feet, and I have actually become a great sinner by leaving you and going to a distant country. I gave up your association, but You didn’t give me up. Binding the rope of mercy around my neck You brought me again to Your lotus feet.” [C. C. Mad 10]
Hearing these words of Swarup Damodar, spoken in such humility, Mahaprabhu again embraced him and said: “Krsna is very kind. He has very mercifully brought us together again.”?
Mahaprabhu kept Swarup Damodar close to Him. Whenever Mahaprabhu became immersed in a particular ecstatic emotion, Swarup Damodar would perform a kirtan in that particular mood. During this period Sri Ray Ramananda also arrived from Vidyanagar in South India. Thus the two of them, Swarup Damodar and Ramananda Ray would enhance the ecstatic moods of Mahaprabhu by singing different songs and reciting various poetic verses.
During the day, Mahaprabhu would engage in his pastimes of sankirtan with His devotees, and at night He would taste the mellows of the ecstatic love of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the company of these two. As Lalita and Visakha were very intimate with Srimati Radharani, Swarup Damodar and Ray Ramananda were similarly intimate with Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Swarup Damodar’s place of residence in Puri was the “Satasan Math”. This is located near Bhaktivinode Thakur’s “Bhakti kutir”, near the ocean at Svarga Dwar. Mahaprabhu entrusted Svarupa to look after and instruct Raghunath Das Goswami. In the nitya-lila, Svarupa Damodara plays the part of Lalita Sakhi.
Swarup Damodar disappeared on the second day of the bright fortnight in the month of Asar.