T oday is the appearance day of Srivasa Thakura is one of the most prominent devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and appeared in Mayapur along with Sri Caitanya in the 15th century.
One of the most striking features of the Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir, ISKCON’s World Headquarters in West Bengal, India, are the Deities of Sri Sri Panca-tattva who preside over the temple. These five Deities are cast of eight different kinds of metal and weigh approximately two tons. At nine feet tall and shining golden, bedecked in opulent clothing and jewels, They are magnificent to behold.
Sridhama Mayapur is the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the central figure of the five Panca-tattva. It is significant that ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada did not desire that a deity of only Lord Caitanya be installed in ISKCON’s temple in Mayapur, but rather the five Panca-tattva.
Srila Prabhupada describes the Panca-tattva in his purport to the Panca-tattva Mahamantra as follows:
“Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is always accompanied by His plenary expansion Sri Nityananda Prabhu, His incarnation Sri Advaita Prabhu, His internal potency Sri Gadadhara Prabhu, and His marginal potency Srivasa Prabhu. He is in the midst of them as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should know that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is always accompanied by these other tattvas. Therefore our obeisances to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are complete when we say, sri-krishna-caitanya prabhu nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda.”
One of the Lord’s significant features is that He does not appear alone. He prefers to always be surrounded by His loving associates. It is not possible to approach the Lord alone, but only through His associates and His devotees. Worshiping the Lord means to also worship His associates and devotees.
Srila Prabhupada stated in a lecture in Gainesville, Florida in 1971 that “worshiping Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu means to worship Him with His associates, Panca-tattva.”
The five Panca-tattva consist of Lord Caitanya, Lord Nityananda, Sri Advaita Acharya, Sri Gadadhara Pandita, and Srivasa Thakura. Lord Caitanya is Krishna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Nityananda is His immediate expansion, and Advaita Acharya is an incarnation. Gadadhara Pandita is His internal energy, and Srivasa Thakura is His marginal energy.
Lord Caitanya, Lord Nityananda, and Advaita Acharya are all vishnu-tattva, while Gadadhara Pandita and Srivasa Thakura are shakti-tattva and jiva-tattva, respectively. Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to Sri Caitanya-caritamrita Adi 7.15 that the first three are worshipable because They are the Supreme Lord, but the second two are equally worshipable because they themselves are eternally engaged in the service of the Lord.
Therefore every year on the appearance day of Srivasa Thakura, a grand celebration is held in Mayapur. Srivasa Thakura is decorated with many items of flower jewelry lovingly made by community devotees. In the morning, devotees hear about the glories of Srivasa Thakura and take darsana of him. Around midday, devotees again gather at the temple to witness the wonderful maha-abhiseka offered to him. Srivasa Thakura is bathed with many auspicious substances, such as milk products, honey and various sugar waters, fruit juices, and flower petals, as an ecstatic kirtan takes place.
Srivasa Thakura is known as the leader of the devotees of Lord Caitanya. Srivasa Thakura’s chanting of the Lord’s names were instrumental in the Lord’s appearance as Lord Caitanya.
The Lord says to Srivasa Thakura in the Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, “Due to being called by your sankirtana and the loud roaring of Sri Advaita Acharya, I have left Vaikuntha and have descended upon this mortal world, accompanied by My eternal associates.”
Srivasa Thakura and his wife Malini were close friends of Lord Caitanya’s parents and were themselves parental figures for Lord Caitanya when he was young. When the Lord grew and began His sankirtana pastimes, He inaugurated His sankirtana movement first inside the home of Srivasa Thakura.
It is said in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita that Lord Caitanya is always present in four places: in the household temple of His mother Saci, in the places where Sri Nityananda Prabhu danced, in the house of Raghava Pandita, and in the house of Srivasa Thakura during congregational chanting of the Lord’s holy names.
jaya jaya srivasadi gaura-bhakta-gana
jaya srota-gana, – yanra gaura prana-dhana
All glories to all the devotees, headed by Srivasa Thakura! All glories to the readers who have taken Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as their life and soul! (CC Madhya 14.3)