Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana


Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana was born sometime in the eighteenth century, in Odisha. At a very early age, he finished his studies of grammar, poetry, rhetoric and logic and then went on pilgrimage.

During his travels he met  Sri Radha-Damodara Deva a grand-disciple of Sri Rasikananda Deva with whom he discussed philosophy. Sri Radha-Damodara Deva explained the conclusions of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy as expounded by Sri Gaurasundara and requested him to consider the unlimited mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

In a very short time he became an expert in Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. He then moved to Vrindavana to further study these teachings under Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura who instructed him in achintya-bhedabheda-tattva.

Around this time, the members of the Sri sampradaya began to raise some arguments in the court of the king at Jaipur. They complained that as the Gaudiya Vaishnavas had no commentary on the Vedanta sutra, they were not qualified to worship the Deity and therefore the worship should be turned over to the Sri sampradaya. They also objected to the worship of Srimati Radharani along with Sri Sri Govinda-Gopinatha as not being authorised anywhere in the shastras.

As the king, Sadachari Raja, was initiated within the Gaudiya sampradaya, he quietly sent word to Vrindavana, informing the devotees there of what had happened. But at the same time the king was obliged to remove Radharani from the Deity room as well as suspend the Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava pujaris from Deity worship.

Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura was very aged and couldn’t make the journey to Jaipur. He sent his student, Sri Baladeva, to competently face the challenge. Sri Baladeva posed such forceful arguments to the followers of Ramanuja that they could not reply to them. He further explained to them, “The originator of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, has accepted Srimad Bhagavata as the natural commentary on the Vedanta-sutra, as composed by Srila Vyasadeva Himself. This is proven in the Sat-sandarbha.”

The scholars in the assembly however, refused to accept anything other than a direct commentary on the sutra. Having no other recourse, Baladeva promised to present them with one.  Sri Baladeva came to Sri Govindaji’s mandira and informed Sri Govinda of everything that had happened. That night the Lord appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to write a commentary on the Vedanta-sutra. “I will dictate to you what to write and therefore no one will be able to refuse to accept it.” Baladeva felt renewed strength flow into his heart. Thus he began to write, and within a few days completed the commentary titled ‘Sri Govinda Bhashya’.

Sri Baladeva again came to the assembly of the Ramanandi scholars. After reading the commentary they were simply speechless. The victory of the Gaudiya sampradaya was announced far and wide. The scholars then bestowed upon Sri Baladeva the title ‘Vidyabhushana’.

After the disappearance of Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushana became the next acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya.