Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami was born in 1496 in a family of physicians in the village of Jhamatpur, within the district of Barddhaman in Nadiya. His father was Bhagiratha, and mother Sunanda. He had a younger brother named Shyamananda das. Worship of the Deities of Gaura-Nityananda installed by Srila Krishadasa Kaviraja in this village continues to this day.
Of his life before arriving in Vrindavan, little is known. In the Chaitanya Charitamrta, Adi-lila chapter five, Srila Kaviraja relates the cause of his leaving family life and heading to Vrindavan.
“Lord Nityananda Prabhu had a servant named Sri Minaketana Ramadasa, who was a reservoir of love. At my house, there was sankirtana day and night, and therefore he visited there, having been invited. Absorbed in emotional love, he sat in my courtyard, and all the Vaisnavas bowed down at his feet. In a joyful mood of love of God, he sometimes used to climb upon the shoulder of someone offering obeisances, and sometimes he struck others with his flute or mildly slapped them. When someone saw the eyes of Minaketana Ramadasa, tears would automatically flow from his own eyes, for a constant shower of tears flowed from the eyes of Minaketana Ramadasa. Sometimes there were eruptions of ecstasy like kadamba flowers on some parts of his body, and sometimes one limb would be stunned while another would be trembling. Whenever he shouted aloud the name Nityananda, the people around him would be stricken with great wonder and astonishment.
“When Minaketana sat in the yard, one respectable brahmana named Sri Gunarnava Misra was serving the Deity. This brahmana did not offer him respect. Seeing this, Sri Ramadasa became angry and said, ‘Here I find the second Romaharsana Suta, who did not stand to show honor when he saw Lord Balarama.’
“After saying this, he danced and sang to his heart’s content, but the brahmana did not become angry, for he was then serving Lord Krishna. At the end of the festival, Minaketana Ramadasa was leaving, offering his blessings to everyone. At that time a controversy with my brother developed. My brother had firm faith in Lord Chaitanya but only a dim glimmer of faith in Lord Nityananda. Knowing this, Sri Ramadasa felt unhappy in his mind. I then rebuked my brother, ‘These two brothers are like one body; They are identical manifestations. If you do not believe in Lord Nityananda, you will fall down. If you have faith in one but disrespect the other, your logic is like the logic of accepting half a hen. It would be better to be an atheist by slighting both brothers than a hypocrite by believing in one and slighting the other.’ Sri Ramadasa however, broke his flute in anger and went away, and at that time my brother fell.”
That night, because He was pleased with the chastisement that Krishnadasa gave his brother for offending His dear devotee Mineketana Ramadasa, Lord Nityananda appeared in his dreams and declared,
āre āre kṛṣṇadāsa, nā karaha bhaya
vṛndāvane yāha,–tāṅhā sarva labhya haya
“O my dear Kṛṣṇadāsa, do not be afraid. Go to Vṛndāvana, for there you will attain all things.” [Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 5.195]
Thus receiving the mercy of Lord Nityananda in his dream, he started for Vrndavana with a joyful mind. The lotus feet of the spiritual master of Sri Kaviraja are none other than those of Lord Nityananda Himself. He accepted the Gosvamis Sri Rupa, Sri Sanatana, Sri Jiva, Sri Raghunatha, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta and Sri Gopala Bhatta as his instructing spiritual masters. From Sri Lokanatha Gosvami and Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami he begged permission to write Sri Chaitanya charitamrta.
Apart from Chaitanya Charitamrta, the most definitive biography of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami also compiled books like,
1) Sri Govinda-lilamrita.
Govinda-lilamrita is a literary work explaining the daily pastimes of Lord Krishna and His associates in Vrindavana.
2) Saranga-rangada kangada tika.
Saranga-rangada kangada tika is a commentary on the Krishna-karnamrita of Bilvamangala Thakura.
Sri Jiva Goswami, as per his custom of giving titles of honor to qualified devotees, gave Krishna Dasa the title Kaviraja (the king of poets) for his poetic masterpiece Govinda-lilamrta. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja had vast knowledge of all Vedic scriptures. His books show his skill in the Srutis, Smrtis, Nyaya, Jyotir shastra, and the culinary arts. Although he was an erudite scholar, a strict ascetic, a paramahamsa rasika Vaishnava, Krishna Dasa being very humble writes about himself, “I am deaf, dumb, wholly illiterate, worldly-minded, and lower than a worm in stool.”
The author of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta, Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami , stands as the direct disciple of Srila Rupa Goswami and Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswami.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, “The direct disciple of Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami was Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura, who accepted Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti as his servitor. Srila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura accepted Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who in turn accepted Srila Gaurakishora dasa Babaji, the spiritual master of Om Vishnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja, the divine master of our humble self.” (His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita chapter 1. “The Spiritual Masters.”)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura performed the exceptional service of reviving the divine teachings of Lord Chaitanya, which had become obscured due to gross distortion by deviant sects. In his autobiography entitled Svalikhita-jivani, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes about Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, “On my first reading of Caitanya-caritamrta, I developed a little faith in Sri Caitanya. On the second reading, I understood that was no Pandita equal to Caitanya. Then I had a thought of doubt: being such a learned scholar, and having experienced the reality of love of Godhead to such an extent, how is it that Caitanya Mahaprabhu recommends the worship of the improper character of Krsna? At first, I was amazed and started thinking about that. Afterwards, I prayed to the Lord with great humility: O Lord! Please let me understand the mystery of this! The Lord is unlimitedly merciful. Seeing my eagerness and sincerity, within a few days He bestowed his mercy upon me and supplied the intelligence by which I could understand. I then understood that Krsna-tattva is extremely confidential and the highest principle of the science of Godhead. From this time on, I started seeing Mahaprabhu Caitanyadeva as God.”
In one of his articles in the journal “Sajjana Tosini” Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura states,“If Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja had not composed this great literature, then, common-people would never have been able to understand the eternal, pure and the topmost Vaishnava philosophy as established by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Thus everyone would have remained greatly unfortunate, and it is very difficult to say about what would have been their destination if this great literature had not been composed. All glories to Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami! All Glories to Shri Caitanya-Caritamrita.”
He disappeared on the 12th day of bright fortnight of the month of Asvina (the year is unknown). His samadhi is at Radha-kunda, and at the Radha-Damodara Temple.