puṇḍarīka vidyānidhi--baḍa-śākhā jāni
yāṅra nāma lañā prabhu kāndilā āpani
puṇḍarīka vidyānidhi—of the name Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi; baḍa-śākhā—another big branch; jāni—I know; yāṅra nāma—whose name; lañā—taking; prabhu—the Lord; kāndilā—cried; āpani—Himself.
Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi, the third big branch, was so dear to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu that in his absence Lord Caitanya Himself would sometimes cry.
In the Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā Śrīla Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi is described as the father of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī in kṛṣṇa-līlā. Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore treated him as His father. Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi's father was known as Bāṇeśvara or, according to another opinion, Śuklāmbara Brahmacārī, and his mother's name was Gaṅgādevī. According to one opinion, Bāṇeśvara was a descendent of Śrī Śivarāma Gaṅgopādhyāya. The original home of Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi was in East Bengal, in a village near Dacca named Bāghiyā, which belonged to the Vārendra group of brāhmaṇa families. Sometimes these Vārendra brāhmaṇas were at odds with another group known as Rāḍhīya brāhmaṇas, and therefore Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi's family was ostracized and at that time was not living as a respectable family. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī informs us that one of the members of this family is living in Vṛndāvana and is named Sarojānanda Gosvāmī. One special characteristic of this family is that each of its members had only one son or no son at all, and therefore the family was not very expansive. There is a place in the district of Caṭṭagrāma in East Bengal that is known as Hāta-hājāri, and a short distance from this place is a village known as Mekhalā-grāma in which Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi's forefathers lived. One can approach Mekhalā-grāma from Caṭṭagrāma either on horseback, by bullock cart or by steamer. The steamer station is known as Annapūrṇāra-ghāṭa. The birthplace of Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi is about two miles southwest of Annapūrṇāra-ghāṭa. The temple constructed there by Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi is now very old and much in need of repair. Without repair, the temple may soon crumble. There are two inscriptions on the bricks of that temple, but they are so old that one cannot read them. There is another temple, however, about two hundred yards south of this one, and some people say that this is the old temple constructed by Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu called Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi "father," and He gave him the title Premanidhi. Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi later became the spiritual master of Gadādhara Paṇḍita and an intimate friend of Svarūpa Dāmodara's. Gadādhara Paṇḍita at first misunderstood Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi to be an ordinary pounds-and-shillings man, but later, upon being corrected by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he became his disciple. Another incident in the life of Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi involves his criticizing the priest of the Jagannātha temple, for which Jagannātha Prabhu chastised him personally by slapping his cheeks. This is described in Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya-līlā, Chapter Seven. Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura informs us that there are still two living descendants of the family of Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi, who are named Śrī Harakumāra Smṛtitīrtha and Śrī Kṛṣṇakiṅkara Vidyālaṅkāra. For further information one should refer to the dictionary known as Vaiṣṇava-mañjuṣā.
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