Parishads: Kavi Karnapura (Sri Puri Das)

by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja

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Kavi Karnapura is considered a branch of Chaitanya himself. His father was Mahaprabhu’s dear associate, Shivananda Sena. Karnapura himself identifies his parents in his own Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika:

pura vrindavane vira dati sarvash ca gopikah
ninaya krishna-nikariam sedanim janako mama
vraje bindumati yasid adya sa janani mama
The go-between Vira, who previously brought all the gopis to Krishna, is my father. My mother was known as Bindumati.
(Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika 176)

Paramananda Das or Puri Das

Karnapura did not give his own identity in Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, but from his knowledge of his own parents’ identity, we can surmise that he was an associate of Krishna in Vraja as well. In the Vaishnavacara-darpana, it is written:

"Kavikarnapura was Gunacuda Sakhi in Vraja. He is a branch of Chaitanya who lived in Kacariaparia. He accumulated spiritual power from Mahaprabhu when he placed the Lord’s big toe in his mouth and was given the name Puri Das."

He was born in 1527 in the town of Kaicana-palli. His father named him Paramananda Das, Paramananda Sena or Puri Das. He was the youngest of Shivananda Sena’s three sons. His older brothers were named Chaitanya Das and Rama Das. All three brothers were devotees of Lord Sri Chaitanya.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.62)

Shivananda Sena’s entire family was blessed with the Lord’s unlimited mercy. The Lord himself told his other associates just how dear this family was to him when he ordered that as long as Shivananda and his family stayed in Puri, they should receive his remnants.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.12.53)

Kavi Karnapura received the name Paramananda Das from Mahaprabhu himself. The Lord also jokingly called him Puri Das. This child was born as a result of Mahaprabhu’s blessing.

The Lord asked Shivananda Sena the youngest son's name; Sena answered, “Paramananda Das.” Previously, when Shivananda Sena had visited the Lord, the Lord had said to him, “The next time you have a son, name him Puri Das.” The baby was already in his wife’s womb and was born after Shivananda returned home. He named the child Paramananda Das in accordance with the Lord’s wishes, and the Lord jokingly called him Puri Das.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.12.45-49)

Mahaprabhu Gives the Epithet Kavi Karnapura

The next year, when Shivananda Sena brought the baby to Mahaprabhu, the Lord showed the child much mercy by placing his big toe in his mouth. When Puri Das was only seven years old, the Lord himself gave him the title Kavi Karnapura upon hearing the wonderful poetry that the child was capable of composing. This has been described by Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami in the sixteenth chapter of the Antya-lila.

One year, when Shivananda and his wife were in Puri for the Rathayatra, they came with Puri Das to see the Lord. The child paid obeisances to Mahaprabhu, and the Lord said to him, “Say Krishna, say Krishna!” Though the Lord asked him to chant repeatedly, the boy refused to utter the Holy Name. His embarrassed father also tried to get him to chant, but the child was steadfast in his refusal. Mahaprabhu himself was amazed and said, “I have made everyone in the universe, even the non-moving beings, chant the names of Krishna, but have been unable to make this little child do so. What on earth could be the reason?”

Svarupa Damodar suggested: “You have instructed him in Krishna’s name. Because it is forbidden to repeat one’s guru-given mantra aloud, he will not reveal it publicly and will only chant it mentally. I would guess that this is what he is thinking.”

The Lord was happy to see that such a young boy was aware of this scriptural injunction. In his Anubhashya, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has explained: “The mantra which one has received from the guru is not to be revealed to anyone else, otherwise it will lose its potency. We have seen this previously from the story about Gadadhara Pandit.” This is why Puri Das would not repeat the mantra which had been given to him by Mahaprabhu himself.

Mahaprabhu asked Puri Das to recite a verse in order to make him break his silence. The child recited the following verse of his own composition:

shravasoh kuvalayam akshnor
aïjanam uraso mahendra-mani-dama
mandanam akhilam harir jayati

All glories to Hari,
the ornament for all the beauties of Vrindavan --
a blue lotus for their ears,
black collyrium for their eyes,
and a necklace of blue sapphires
to decorate their breast.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.16.74)

All those who were present were charmed by the lovely verse. A small boy of seven who had barely commenced his education was yet able to recite a verse of such quality! The gods like Brahma and Shiva are unable to understand Mahaprabhu’s mercy, what to speak of the ordinary jiva!

Though Kavi Karnapura received the mantra of Krishna’s name from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he nevertheless followed the social custom of taking initiation from Shrinatha Chakravarti, who is a branch of Advaita Acharya on the Chaitanya tree. In the introduction to his Ananda-vrindavana-campu, Karnapura has paid his obeisances to Shrinatha Chakravarti. In another introductory verse to that work, he has glorified Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as his family deity, saying that Mahaprabhu adopted Shivananda Sena’s entire family as his own. Some people say that Shrinatha Chakravarti’s deities are still being worshiped in Kumarahatta or Kancariaparia.

The following is a list of Kavi Karnapura’s compositions: Chaitanya-cartamrita-mahakavya, Ananda-vrindavana-campu, Alankara-kaustubha, Chaitanya-candrodaya-nataka, Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika, Brihad-ganoddesha-dipika, Arya-shataka, Ahnika-kaumudi, a commentary on the tenth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya-sahasra-nama and Keshavashtaka. He was still writing books in 1576 AD, the date of the Chaitanya-candrodaya-nataka.

Kavi Karnapura, was dear to the Lord and became a writer of books in which he revealed the Lord’s blessings on Sanatan Goswami.
(Bhakti-ratnakara 1.657)

[Excerpted from "Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]

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