--> Skip to main content

Vrindavan Das – A Bengali Biographer Of Saint Chaitanya

Vrindavan Das (1507 – 1587 CE) was the son of Narayani, who was the niece of Shrivas Pandit, a close associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He and his mother lived as devotees of Chaitanya, who was 22 years older than he was, and this gave him the opportunity to experience the saint’s teaching and character first hand. He wrote the first Bengali biography of Chaitanya; it was in verse form, in the melodious payar meter.

Vrindavan Das’s work was known as first as Chaitanya Mangal or Chaitanya Lila and later as Chaitanya Bhagavat. Vrindavan Das was in close contact with Chaitanya’s contemporaries; he mentions gaining some facts from Advaitacharya and some from Gadadhar Pandit, but most of his material was acquired directly from Nityananda. His biography describes in detail the years when Chaitanya and Nityananda were closely associated, but less details are provided on Chaitanya’s later years. The authenticity of most of the biographical details is undoubted, though some stories appear to be embroidered upon.

There is some controversy regarding the date of completion of the work; three major views record it as 1535 – 1526 CE, 1548 – 1549 CE, and 1575 – 1576 CE.

Vrindavan Das’s motive in writing was to describe Chaitanya as Krishna and Nityananda as Krishna’s brother, Balarama. In this, he was successful, and thanks in part to his work, Chaitanya was worshiped in his lifetime. Vrindavan Das’s ecstatic outpourings came straight from the heart, and his work became a popular religious text chanted regularly in every Bengali Vaishnava household, even during the author’s lifetime.