Chaitanya Mahaprabhus Visit to Pandharpur
Lord Caitanya visited Pandharpur while on a journey through South India, apparently to search for His sannyasi brother, Sankararanya, formerly known as Visvarupa.
After travelling down the east coast of India through the province of Tamil Nadu and up the west coast through Kerala and Karnataka, Caitanya Mahaprabhu entered Maharashtra. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 9.282–283), the Lord went to Pandharpur, where He happily saw the Deity of Lord Vitthala and chanted and danced.
In Pandharpur, Lord Caitanya met Sri Ranga Puri, a Godbrother of His spiritual master, Isvara Puri. They talked about Lord Krishna continuously for five to seven days.
Sri Ranga Puri recalled that he had once been to Navadvipa, Lord Caitanya’s birthplace, where he had visited the house of a brahmana named Jagannatha Misra. Sri Ranga Puri remembered the taste of a curry cooked from banana flowers by Jagannatha Misra’s wife. Jagannatha Misra’s eldest son had accepted the renounced order. Sri Ranga Puri had later learned, he said, that this son had passed away in Pandharpur.
Jagannatha Misra, Lord Caitanya then revealed, had been His father, and the son who had passed away had been His brother.
Lord Caitanya stayed four more days in Pandharpur, before moving on. During His tour of South India, Lord Caitanya was constantly on the move, but He stayed in Pandharpur for about eleven days. His pastimes there, and those of His brother, establish yet another link between Pandharpur and the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition followed by the present-day Hare Krishna devotees.
Lord Chaitanya stayed in Pandharpur for eleven days.
In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Lila, Chapter 9, we read about Lord Caitanya’s visit to a famous Krishna temple in Maharashtra state:
tatha haite pandarapure aila gauracandra
viththala-thakura dekhi’ paila ananda
“From there Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Pandarapura, where He happily saw the temple of Viththala Thakura.”
The city of Pandarapura is situated on the river Bhima. It is said that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu initiated Tukarama when He visited Pandarapura, and thus Tukarama became His disciple. Tukarama Acarya became very famous in the Maharashtra province, and he spread the sankirtana movement all over the province. The sankirtana party belonging to Tukarama is still very popular in Bombay and throughout the province of Maharashtra. Tukarama’s book is known as Abhanga. His sankirtana party exactly resembles the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sankirtana parties, for they chant the holy name of the Lord with mridanga and karatalas.
Later in Madhya Lila 9, we find further information about Lord Caitanya’s association with Pandarapura, this time in relationship with His brother Vishvarupa :
ei tirthe sankararanyera siddhi-prapti haila
prastave sri-ranga-puri eteka kahila
“Sri Ranga Puri informed Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that the sannyasi named Sankararanya had attained perfection in that holy place, Pandarapura.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s elder brother was named Visvarupa. He left home before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and accepted the sannyasa order under the name of Sankararanya Svami. He travelled all over the country and finally went to Pandarapura, where he passed away after attaining perfection. In other words, he entered the spiritual world after giving up his mortal body at Pandarapura. Sri Ranga Puri, a disciple of Sri Madhavendra Puri and godbrother of Isvara Puri, disclosed this important news to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
prabhu kahe,—-purvasrame tenha mora bhrata
jagannatha misra—-purvasrame mora pita
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “In My previous asrama, Sankararanya was My brother and Jagannatha Misra was My father.”
ei-mata dui-jane ista-gosthi kari’
dvaraka dekhite calila sri-ranga-puri
After finishing his talks with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Ranga Puri started for Dvaraka-dhama.
dina cari tatha prabhuke rakhila brahmana
bhima-nadi snana kari’ karena viththala darsana
After Sri Ranga Puri departed for Dvaraka, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu remained with the brahmana at Pandarapura for four more days. He took His bath in the Bhima River and visited the temple of Viththala.”