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The Meaning of Life




This is the continuing serialization of 252 Vaishnavan ki varta, the lives of the saints following Vitthalnath, son of Vallabhacharya. It has been translated from the original Braj Bhasha by Krishnaa Kinkari Devi. This is the sixteenth vartaSee previous.

Varta 16

The story of Madhusudan Das, a Gaudiya Brahmin who lived in Vrindavan.


Madhusudan Das is a devotee with a tamasi (divinely feisty) disposition. In the Eternal Lila his name is Bandini (a gopi). Bandini manifests from Indulekha and is thus a form of her divine loving mood.

Madhusudan Das was born to a Brahmin in Gauda Desh. His father was a disciple of  Shri Roop-Sanatan. [Because the brothers shared such a close spiritual connection, the Brajwasis of the time used to refer to Shri Roop Goswami and Shri Sanatan Goswami by the single name “Shri Roop-Sanatan”. It is not clear whether one or the other is referred to here, or whether the author is talking about both Goswamis. -Ed.]

Madhusudan Das’ father would travel to Vrindavan every year to see his Guru. He would serve his Guru for some days and, after receiving instructions from him, he would then return home.

When Madhusudan Das reached the age of 20, his father took him with him on his trip to Vrindavan. He had Madhusudan Das initiated by his Guru. Madhusudandas stayed on in Vrindavan with his father. He became very attached to the beauty of Vrindavan.

When his father wanted to set off for home, Madhusudan Das told him that he did not want to leave Vrindavan to go home with him, that he liked Vrindavan and wished to remain there forever. His father said, “My son, you are still a child. You are not yet married. I am old now, so you should come home with me. You can do whatever you like after I am dead.”

Madhusudan Das was not persuaded. Defeated by his son’s resolve, his father went home.

As he was leaving, Madhusudan Das’ father requested his Guru to look after his son and said that he was giving the boy into his care. Shri Roop-Sanatan told him not to worry, that he should go happily and that he would take care of his son. The father left some money for the expenses for his son and set off. Madhusudan Das began to fearlessly wander around Vrindavan.

*Part 1*

Once Madhusudan Das came to Sri Gusainji (Sri Vitthalnathji) in Gokul. Although Madhusudan Das had been initiated by a different Guru in his youth, after having the sight of Sri Gusainji in Gokul, he felt a great desire to become his disciple.

At that very moment he implored Sri Gusainji to bless him with initiation. Sri Gusainji recognised his intense longing and so told him to go and bathe, and thereafter he initiated him with the Lord’s Name and Brahma Sambandha. He then went inside to take Prasad.

He told Madhusudan Das that he should have his Prasad there that day, and he did so.

The next day, Madhusudan Das was cooking when Sri Gusainji was heading inside to have his meal. Sri Gusainji caught sight of Madhusudan Das and asked him, “Do you have any money to live on?”

Madhusudan Das replied that he had enough for a few expenses tied up in his bundle. Sri Gusainji told him to have his Prasad there that day, but then to go home the next day.

Madhusudan Das supplicated, “O Maharaj! As long as I have these few savings, I can cook and take Prasad. After that I can beg and survive like that. I do not wish to leave your lotus feet.”

For the next two days, Sri Gusainji fed Madhusudan Das. On the third day he did his own cooking, and when his money ran out he began to beg.

When he had been doing this for about four days, Sri Gusainji asked him how he was getting on. Madhusudandas told him everything.

“O Maharaj! I had enough for two days. On those days I cooked, made the offerings, and accepted the Prasad. Nowadays I go to beg in the day. In the evenings I get all the ingredients ready and in the morning I cook and make the offerings. When the Prasad comes back, I cover it and come to have the Lord’s Holy Sight. After that I partake of the Prasad, and then go out again to beg.”

Sri Gusainji again asked him, “From whose houses do you beg?”

Madhusudan Das revealed, “From the houses of Vashnavas, from Bhatt families, from the homes of the temple’s inner servants, and from Brajwasis. I also get alms from traders in the market.”

Sri Gusainji then instructed him, “You can accept alms from all of these people, but never from the Bhatts or the temple servants. You must never accept even a bean from them.”


The reason for this is that the Bhatts and temple servants live on wealth donated to Sri Gusainji and his lineage, and so to take from this source is an obstacle for Vaishnavas. This has already been explained in the Varta of Vishnudas Chipa.

*Part 1 Continued*

Madhusudan Das then acted according to these instructions. Some days later, Sri Gusainji gave Madhusudan Das the Seva of preparing Srinathji’s paan leaf offerings. He did this Seva very well.

On summer days when it was very hot, Madhusudan Das would operate Shrinathji’s fan for the whole night by pulling the rope. He did this for many days.

One day, Sri Gusainji came to the room where the Paan was prepared. He saw that Madhusudan Das was falling asleep. His eyes were full of sleep, but he was still holding the rope and swinging the fan. Sri Gusainji felt very happy to see his dedicated service.

Madhusudan Das had no idea that Sri Gusainji had seen him. He continued making this Seva until the very end of his life.


This story teaches us that Vaishnavas should be totally addicted to their Seva. Then the Lord will be pleased. Being addicted to Seva means that the embodied soul’s life is fulfilled.

In his treatise called Bhaktivardhini (How to increase Devotion) Sri Acharyaji has written, “The purpose of an embodied soul’s existence is fulfilled when they become addicted to Seva.”

Madhusudan Das’ addiction to Seva was perfect.

Thus concludes Varta 16, the story of Madhusudan Das on whom Sri Gusainji showered his grace and with whom he was always pleased. He was a recipient of Sri Gusainji’s grace and an accomplished Vaishnava. There is truly no end to his story.




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