Who are Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava from Chhoti?
Sri Sri Radha-Madhava Come to Orissa
Five hundred years ago when Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu launched the sankirtan movement of the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, He commissioned His closest associates to spread the movement everywhere. On the order of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu travelled extensively throughout Bengal, humbly begging everyone He met to chant the holy names and worship Sri Sri Radha-Krishna. Many Bengalis surrendered at His lotus feet, becoming His disciples and adopting the Gaudiya Vaisnava way of life. Among these disciples was Krishnananda Dutta, a wealthy landowner residing in Andul, not far from present-day Calcutta. Krishnananda Dutta worshiped deities of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in his home in Andul.
After his retirement from family affairs, Krishnananda Dutta, taking the deities with him, moved to the holy place Puri, Orissa, home of the famous temple of Lord Jagannatha. In Puri, Krishnananda lived a pious and simple life, not speaking to anyone, but chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra the whole day and night, and worshipping Sri Sri Radha-Madhava. After living in Puri for some time, he met the feudal king of Ali State, about two hundred kilometers from Puri. Impressed with Krishnananda’s spiritual qualities, the king invited him to live in his state, where he donated an entire village, named Choti (formerly called Choti Mangalpur), to the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.
The Ninth Generation — Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur
The descendants of Krishnananda Dutta worshiped Sri Sri Radha-Madhava in Choti from generation to generation. Eventually the worship passed into the hands of his descendent Kedaranath Dutta (1838-1914), who is well-known to all Gaudiya Vaisnavas as Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, the great saint who was the first to present the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in a modern context.
Srila Prabhupada and the Song “Jaya Radha-Madhava”
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur wrote hundreds of songs glorifying the Supreme Lord in Bengali, Sanskrit, and Brajaboli (a dialect that combines Bengali, Sanskrit, and Oriya). His songs capture the essence of Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy. One song, “Jaya Radha-Madhava”, was a favourite of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who would sing it every day just before his public lectures. This song paints a beautiful picture of the pastimes of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur’s beloved deities Sri Sri Radha-Madhava.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Sri Sri Radha-Madhava
After the departure of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, the worship of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava was handed down to his son, Bimala Prasad Dutta, also known as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada. Because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was a lifelong Vaishnava and a dedicated travelling preacher, whenever he visited Choti he didn’t like to stay in his family house; he would visit the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Madhava and stay in the nearby Dassahera Mandap.