Appreciating Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
By Giriraj Swami
From Amrit Vani, “Nectarean Instructions for Immortality,” gleaned from the instructions of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and presented in the form of questions and answers.
Is the favor given by Mahaprabhu the highest favor?
There has never been nor will there ever be better benefactors than Mahaprabhu and His devotees. No other type of human welfare work can compare; all those others simply perform a great disservice to humanity. The favor offered by Mahaprabhu and His devotees is the supreme favor. This favor is eternal, not a temporary five- or ten-day promise. Mundane benefits tend to ultimately do harm, but Mahaprabhu’s favor will never harm others.
For example, what is good for our country will certainly be harmful to another country. It is the nature of temporary happiness to cause distress to others. If I am happy to ride in a horse-pulled cart, the horse will be inconvenienced by my pleasure. Mahaprabhu and His devotees never deceive people by preaching about temporary favors. Their favor and charities are suitable for all people at all times and under all circumstances. Their gifts are good for the entire universe. Mahaprabhu and His devotees never offer gifts related to narrow or sectarian views.
Mahaprabhu’s compassion is considered harmless compassion. Thus we say that He and His devotees are the most magnanimous. I am not speaking flowery language or myth but topmost truth when I say these things.
Mahaprabhu’s compassion is complete, while all other forms of compassion are limited and deceptive. Matsya, Kurma, Varahadeva, Ramachandra, and even Krishna distributed mercy only to Their devotees and annihilated those who opposed Them. Mahaprabhu displayed compassion to everyone. He did not even hesitate to show His harmless mercy to the Kazi and the Buddhists, and He converted the worshipers of Ramachandra, known as the Ramanandis, into pure Vaishnavas.
What has Sri Chaitanyadeva done?
Sri Chaitanyadeva has instructed everyone to engage everything they have in Krishna’s service. Although Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna, He appeared in the mood of a devotee and revealed Krishna to the world. He taught everyone to serve Krishna by His own example. Sri Rupa Gosvami Prabhu, who was an associate of Sri Krishna Chaitanya, glorified Mahaprabhu as follows:
namo maha-vadanyaya, krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah
“O most munificent incarnation! You are Krsna Himself appearing as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krsna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 19.54)
O Sri Krishna Chaitanya! You are most magnanimous! You have not established so-called schools and orphanages, nor have You spent your time digging wells, building hospitals, or performing other social welfare activities. Rather, You have established spiritual institutions to educate the people. You are therefore the ultimate shelter of all orphans. You have revealed the nectarean ocean of the mellows of devotional service. You have built Gaudiya hospitals, centers where the root cause of material disease can be treated. Your mercy is causeless and yields no inauspicious results. The so-called mercy seen in this world always creates inauspiciousness in the end. But Your mercy on the living entities creates all auspiciousness for them. Therefore You are considered the most magnanimous personality and He who bestows love of Krishna.
Who is Sri Chaitanyadeva?
Sri Chaitanyadeva is not a personality two thousand or ten thousand years old; He is eternal. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is beginningless, the origin of all, and the cause of all causes. He is not born under the influence of time. Rather, past, present, and future originate in Him. He is eternal and almighty. He is not a physical body of flesh and bones but the primeval Lord. He is the supreme enjoyer and proprietor of everything. He is the Supersoul situated in the heart of all living entities. He is the supreme Brahman and the Supreme Lord. He is directly Krishna and the fountainhead of all incarnations. He is full of all opulence and is the supreme Absolute Truth.
Sri Chaitanyadeva is the ocean of mercy. No one else can bestow as much mercy as He can. No other incarnation of the Lord has ever distributed so much causeless mercy. His mercy is distributed to worthless persons to make them qualified. His mercy is eternal. He is so merciful that He gives Himself to His devotees. Such compassion has never before been seen.
Karmis, jnanis, and yogis are unable to see the beauty of His distribution of love of God, but any fortunate soul can attain it. Therefore I say, give up all your considerations and spend time hearing about Sri Caitanyadeva. If we hear about such a personality, who is far superior to ordinary human beings, we can find enough qualification to engage in krsna-bhajana, the actual path of peace.
The Absolute Truth is full of knowledge and bliss. We run here and there to try to know Him; but the Lord of Goloka has appeared in human form among us as Gauranga to give us instruction. If we do not follow His instructions, how will we be benefited?
What is Sri Gaurangadeva’s compassion?
Sri Gaurasundara said that sankirtana is the only duty of humankind. This is proof of His magnanimous nature. Human beings can attain what it is impossible even for the best of the demigods to attain. Sri Gaurangadeva does not cheat and does not mix material enjoyment with spiritual understanding. He has preached what is most beneficial to all living beings. If one hears His teachings he will understand that all other teachings in this world are incomplete and weak. Sri Gaurasundara has not descended to cheat people as the mental speculators cheat people by presenting their insignificant sadhanas. By preaching Srimad-Bhagavatam Sri Gaurasundara has proved that the sadhanas put forth by so-called sampradayas are simply ineffective. He has also demonstrated that the congregational chanting of Krishna’s name is the only way to attain auspiciousness.
But the sankirtana must be for Krishna. Any kirtan performed for one’s own happiness or the happiness of others is not krsna-kirtana. The holy name of Krishna is directly Krishna Himself. The letters K-r-s-n-a are nondifferent from Krishna.
By performing krsna-kirtana the sinful mentality of impersonalists and atheists is destroyed and they become eligible for ultimate liberation. Mayavadi Prakasananda is the prime example of this fact. Even people who are too attached to material enjoyment can attain ultimate liberation by performing krsna-kirtana. Prataparudra, the king of Utkala, is the prime example of this fact. All jivas, including men, women, animals, birds, trees, and even the dead stones can be liberated by the performance of krsna-kirtana. The animals, birds, trees, and creepers of Jharikhanda forest are prime examples of this fact.
The living entities are not becoming liberated simply because they do not engage in krsna-kirtana. Sri Gaurasundara incarnated in this world to benefit all living entities. Our only welfare lies in performing krsna-kirtana. There is no other way to attain the ultimate goal of education, knowledge, and life itself.
sri-krsna-caitanya-daya karaha vicara,
vicara karite citte pabe camatkara
“If you are indeed interested in logic and argument, kindly apply it to the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If you do so, you will find it to be strikingly wonderful.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 8.14)
‘eka’ krsna-name kare sarva-papa nasa,
premera karana bhakti karena prakasa
“Simply chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra without offenses vanquishes all sinful activities. Thus pure devotional service, which is the cause of love of Godhead, becomes manifest.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 8.26)
anayase bhava-ksaya, krsnera sevana,
eka krsna-namera phale pai eta dhana
“As a result of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one makes such great advancement in spiritual life that simultaneously his material existence terminates, and he receives love of Godhead. The holy name of Krsna is so powerful that by chanting even one name, one very easily achieves these transcendental riches.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 8.28)
harse prabhu kahena, “suna svarupa-rama-raya,
nama-sankirtana kalau parama upaya
sankirtana-yajne kalau krsna-aradhana,
sei ta’ sumedha paya krsnera carana”
“In great jubilation, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, ‘My dear Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, know from Me that chanting the holy names is the most feasible means of salvation in this Age of Kali. In this Age of Kali, the process of worshiping Krsna is to perform sacrifice by chanting the holy name of the Lord. One who does so is certainly very intelligent, and he attains shelter at the lotus feet of Krsna.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 20.8–9)
nama-sankirtana haite sarvanartha-nasa,
sarva-subhodaya, krsna-premera ullasa
“Simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Krsna, one can be freed from all undesirable habits. This is the means of awakening all good fortune, and initiating the flow of waves of love for Krsna.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 20.11)
sankirtana haite papa-samsara-nasana,
krsna-prapti, sevamrta-samudre majjana
“By performing congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, one can destroy the sinful condition of material existence, purify the unclean heart, and awaken all varieties of devotional service. The result of chanting is that one awakens his love for Krsna, and tastes transcendental bliss. Ultimately, one attains the association of Krsna, and engages in His devotional service, as if immersing himself in a great ocean of love.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya 20.13–14)
Why did Mahaprabhu chant “gopi, gopi”?
The materialist cannot understand why Mahaprabhu, who is the supreme teacher of all living entities, chanted “gopi, gopi.” In order to teach people that without glorifying the devotees one cannot glorify Krishna, and without engaging in the spiritual master’s service one cannot engage in Krishna’s service.
Can you please tell us Sri Chaitanyadeva’s philosophy in brief?
We find Sri Chaitanyadeva’s philosophy summarized in one ancient verse:
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam
ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena ya kalpita
srimad-bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pum-artho mahan
sri-caitanya-mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah nah parah
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is to be worshiped along with His transcendental abode, Vrndavana. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrndavana. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the spotless authority on everything, and pure love of God is the ultimate goal of life for all men. These statements, for which we have the highest regard, are the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.” (Caitanya-manjusa, a commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam)
Krishna, the son of Nanda, is the complete manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Krishna manifests Himself in three features before His devotees according to their respective qualifications. All of these features are complete. They are not partial or indirect manifestations of Krishna the way His manifestations as Paramatma and Brahman are partial. These three features are complete, more complete, and most complete and are situated in Dvaraka, Mathura, and Vrindavan. In Dvaraka Krishna’s manifestation is complete, in Mathura, He is more complete, and in Vraja, He is most complete.
Above Vaikuntha is Dvaraka, above Dvaraka is Mathura, and above Mathura is Goloka Vrindavan. Those spiritual abodes, which are eternally present in the spiritual sky, are also manifest in this world. Whatever is absent in the spiritual world cannot appear in this one. As lotus flowers grow in the water but are not touched by the water, so Vrndavana-dhama is in this world but untouched by matter. Those whose hearts are not inclined to serve the Lord cannot realize the transcendental nature of the Lord’s abode as it appears in this world.
Sri Chaitanyadeva established the supremacy of serving the Lord of Vrindavan, or Gokula. Krishna is the fountainhead of all the Vishnu incarnations; He is the son of Nanda and the beloved child of Yasoda. He is also the beloved Lord of Radha. This Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna alone is the eternally worshipable Lord of the Gaudiyas, the followers of Sri Rupa like ourselves. Sri Chaitanyadeva has instructed everyone to worship Krishna, the Lord of Gokula.
Are Sri Gauranga’s instructions the topmost teachings?
There is no truth superior to the truth preached by Sri Gaurasundara. It is possible to attain to the highest kingdom of bhajana only by the Lord’s holy name.
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Your aspiring servant,