Among all the incarnations of Absolute Truth, Krishna’s pastimes, in particular, are puzzling even for the demigods (lord Brahma’s and Indra’s pastimes come immediately to the mind) what to speak of humans and the demons. Therefore when Krishna comes as Caitanya Mahaprabhu then it is even more puzzling. Why Krishna comes as Caitanya Mahaprabhu? What inspires Krishna to become His own devotee? Krishnadasa Kaviraj Gosvami demystifies this secret in Caitanya Caritamrita and discloses three external and three internal reasons for it.
Before we acsess these secrets, let us first pray to the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates.
Three external reasons for the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
1. To bestow Vraja bhakti upon us.
Lord Kṛṣṇa enjoys His transcendental pastimes as long as He wishes, and then He disappears. After disappearing, however, He thinks thus: “For a long time I have not bestowed unalloyed loving service to Me upon the inhabitants of the world. Without such loving attachment, the existence of the material world is useless.
“Everywhere in the world people worship Me according to scriptural injunctions. But simply by following such regulative principles one cannot attain the loving sentiments of the devotees in Vrajabhūmi. “Knowing My opulences, the whole world looks upon Me with awe and veneration. But devotion made feeble by such reverence does not attract Me. “By performing such regulated devotional service in awe and veneration, one may go to Vaikuṇṭha and attain the four kinds of liberation.
“My plenary portions can establish the principles of religion for each age. No one but Me, however, can bestow the kind of loving service performed by the residents of Vraja. “Therefore in the company of My devotees I shall appear on earth and perform various colorful pastimes.” Thinking thus, the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, descended at Nadia early in the Age of Kali.
2. To inaugurate the Yuga Dharma for Kali yuga- Sankirtana yajna
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is repeatedly and clearly said that the essence of religion in the Age of Kali is the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. “In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Kṛṣṇa. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Kṛṣṇa Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions.”
My dear brothers, please hear all these glories of Lord Caitanya. This verse clearly summarizes His activities and characteristics The two syllables “kṛṣ-ṇa” are always in His mouth; or, He constantly describes Kṛṣṇa with great pleasure. These are two meanings of the word “kṛṣṇa-varṇa.” Indeed, nothing else but Kṛṣṇa issues from His mouth.
“By performing the sacrifice of congregational chanting of the holy name, learned scholars in the Age of Kali worship Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is now nonblackish because of the great upsurge of the feelings of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. He is the only worshipable Deity for the paramahaṁsas, who have attained the highest stage of the fourth order [sannyāsa]. May that Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Caitanya, show us His great causeless mercy.”
Advaita Ācārya having appeared, He found the world devoid of devotional service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa because people were engrossed in material affairs. Everyone was engaged in material enjoyment, whether sinfully or virtuously. No one was interested in the transcendental service of the Lord, which can give total relief from the repetition of birth and death. Seeing the activities of the world, the Ācārya felt compassion and began to ponder how He could act for the people’s benefit.
Thinking of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, He constantly offered tulasī buds in water from the Ganges. He appealed to Śrī Kṛṣṇa with loud calls and thus made it possible for Kṛṣṇa to appear. Therefore the principal reason for Śrī Caitanya’s descent is this appeal by Advaita Ācārya. The Lord, the protector of religion, appears by the desire of His devotee.
Three confidential reasons for the appearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Desiring to understand the glory of Rādhārāṇī’s love, the wonderful qualities in Him that She alone relishes through Her love, and the happiness She feels when She realizes the sweetness of His love, the Supreme Lord Hari, richly endowed with Her emotions, appeared from the womb of Śrīmatī Śacī-devī, as the moon appeared from the ocean.”
Once Lord Krishna considered within His heart, “Everyone says that I am complete bliss, full of all rasas. “All the world derives pleasure from Me. Is there anyone who can give Me pleasure? “One who has a hundred times more qualities than Me could give pleasure to My mind. “One more qualified than Me is impossible to find in the world. But in Rādhā alone I feel the presence of one who can give Me pleasure.
“Although My beauty defeats the beauty of ten million Cupids, although it is unequaled and unsurpassed, and although it gives pleasure to the three worlds, seeing Rādhārāṇī gives pleasure to My eyes.
“The vibration of My transcendental flute attracts the three worlds, but My ears are enchanted by the sweet words of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. “Thus although I am the source of happiness for the entire world, the beauty and attributes of Śrī Rādhikā are My life and soul. “In this way My affectionate feelings for Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī may be understood, but on analysis I find them contradictory.
“My eyes are fully satisfied when I look upon Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, but by looking upon Me, She becomes even more advanced in satisfaction. “I am always eager to taste the joy that Rādhārāṇī derives from Me. “In spite of various efforts, I have not been able to taste it. But My desire to relish that pleasure increases as I smell its sweetness.
“Formerly I appeared in the world to taste mellows, and I tasted the mellows of pure love in various ways. “I taught devotional service that springs from the devotees’ spontaneous love by demonstrating it with My pastimes. “But these three desires of Mine were not satisfied, for one cannot enjoy them in a contrary position.
“Unless I accept the luster of the ecstatic love of Śrī Rādhikā, these three desires cannot be fulfilled. “Therefore, assuming Rādhārāṇī’s sentiments and bodily complexion, I shall descend to fulfill these three desires.” In this way Lord Kṛṣṇa came to a decision. Simultaneously, the time came for the incarnation of the age.
The more we read and glorify the great acharayas in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Gaudiya vaishnava paramapara, the more we can appreciate our own good fortune and the golden opportunity available to every single soul on this planet to return back home back to Godhead. It may also inspire us to carefully and with complete faith read every single word they have written for our benefit.
Jagannath Rath yatra started few days back and aptly the first article I am sharing was written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in 1871 on the history temple of Jagannath at Puri, about superstitious and ignorance versus timeless principle of love of God, about love versus logic, about the glories of Mahaprasadam and how the temple of Lord Jagannath is the emblem of Supreme Absolute truth as explained in Vedanta Sutras. It is a little long so kindly remain patient as great spiritual riches await us. Here it goes-
There is not a Hindu who has not heard the name of this temple. The old and the young, the male and the female, the Rajah and the ryot, and the weak and the stout, all visit this temple out of a religious curiosity. Three hundred and one miles south-west of the Vice-Regal palace at Calcutta, stands this famous temple close to the seashore affording an object for a telescopic observation to the new-comer on broad the ship bound for Bengal. It stands on a platform measuring 20 cubits in height from the level of water. The platform itself is 375 cubits by 400 cubits made of huge stone cemented with a mortar composed of lime and sand. The temple itself is 92 cubits in height of a structure purely Indian. The pilgrims sees its towering head from the distance of 7 miles where the shrewd Panda takes a rupee from him by showing him the holy Chakra.
This temple was erected by Raja Ananga Bhimbdeb about 800 years ago in place of another one, then in state of dilapidation. In old accounts we find this temple styled Niladri or the blue hill. From this it appears that the former temple which was probably raised by the emigrating Rajah Indradyumna was a blue or dark coloured one. Otherwise we cannot account for the name Nilachala unless we take it for granted that the name was after the Nilgiri Hills, a small range which runs through this Province from one end to the other.
The Utkalakhanda in the Puranas, the Niladri Mahodadhi, and the Matla Panjee (an account regularly kept by the temple officers) declare that Jagannath is a very ancient institution amongst the Hindus. Whatever may be the value of the authorities quoted, we are inclined to believe that Puri was considered sacred even at the time when the Puranas were written, because we find in Wilson’s copy of the Vishnu Purana that one Kandu Rishi resorted to a place called Purushottama for the purpose of divine contemplation. At all events Rajah Indradyumna, to whom the whole affair is generally ascribed, lived a long time before Rajah Vikramaditya, the contemporary of Augustus Caesar of Rome. We are sure, that Puri is not so old as Benares and Gaya, of which repeated mention is made in all the Puranas and the Mahabharata, yet it is not a place of recent origin created after the commencement of the Christian Era. We cannot believe that the institution originated in pure stupidity of the religious sentiment; for we cannot but observe a great deal of wisdom in the man with whom the idea of Jagannath first originated. We do not profess to belong to any of the sects of religion under the sun, we believe the absolute Faith, founded upon instinctive love of God, natural in all human souls.
There are two great sects of religion all over the world who fight with each other without any advantage whatever. One of them holds that it is absolutely necessary to believe that God is without any form whatever and believers in the form are but, idolatrous. The other class maintains that God has out of kindness shown His form to the pious in order to be worshiped by them. Both of them are wrong, because both of them fight on a purely material point. The most unsectarian view of the point is, that God is neither a form nor a formless object but is purely spiritual. Matter alone can embrace the idea of form; consequently all positive and negative assertions with regard to it must naturally be material. Those who worship the form and those who describe God as formless, are both idolatrous and superstitious, and consequently can never form an idea of the spiritual Deity. Sectarians of the same class are expected to hate each other, but those, who have nothing in common with them, have no reason for hatred. We therefore cannot, like the fanatics of the formless class consider all idols as unsacred and hold the worship of a formless Deity (identifying Him with something like space and eternity) to be the natural worship of God. We go so far as to maintain that the worshiper of the spiritual God in an idol is infinitely superior to a mere believer in a formless existence who considers that formlessness is one of the attributes of the Spirit.
Spirit is not exactly the opposite of matter, but it is certainly something different from it. it is difficult indeed to decide what is the exact relation of the Spirit to matter, space and time, and it is not given to us to know. It would indeed be the height error to conceive that all the opposite qualities of matter, space and time are in Spirit. Hence we must look to some other attributes for Spirit. Love and wisdom are certainly spiritual attributes which are not opposite qualities of matter. Man must be wise and love God. This is the religion of the soul. All debates about the essence of God (e.g. God is formless or with a form) are but sectarian. Now we allow men to love God wisely, i.e. spiritually while their eyes are on idol as well as while they contemplating an Infinite thing like the space. When the soul worships, the mind also finds an employment. The mind can never conceive of anything that is not material. It is therefore exceedingly difficult for man in his present state to separate himself from idolatry. What man is obliged to do, is his lot and hence we must put off the meaning of idolatry to some other process. We therefore conclude that he that worship the idol as God (whether the idol be formless or form) is idolatrous, but he that worships the spirit in wise love (however near he may be to an idol of form or of no form) is a worshiper of Spirit. But we go further to tolerate all these classes if they be sincere.
God accepts the worship of all those who worship their highest ideal, whether it is form, formless or Spirit, and it is under some regular processes that the idea of God becomes purer and purer in every soul and not by fits and starts. That man has no heart for his brother and consequently for God also, who sneer at the highest ideal of another behind him, is idolatrous. A war against the idol worshipers either in words or action is not a crusade but a fit of rash, loveless and ambitious fanaticism of a very unphilanthropic character. We therefore, with all our due attempts at the spiritual reformation of our erring brothers, tolerate all classes of idolatry from the worshipers of formlessness to the worshipers of man, or matter as God.
We are opposed to the atheists alone who live and enjoy for themselves. Those who are anxious for the blessing of God are our brothers in faith, whatever error there may be in their ideas and forms of worship. Love of God, however misdirected it may be, does by force of its own natural strength, rise higher and higher in the scale of spiritual progress. Its want is the degradation of the soul alone. Those who do not love God have an opposite course from us and are objects of pity with all classes of theists. God save them. We were led to these remarks by a desire to show that we are candid examiners of the institution of Jagannath without that hatred to the idolatrous (who are not prepared to understand the philosophy of Purushottam Tattva) which is perceivable in the short sighted and rash reformers of our country.
The system of Jagannath is viewed in two different ways. The superstitious and the ignorant take it as a system of idolatry by worshiping the idols in the temple as God Almighty appearing in the shape of a carved wood for the salvation of the Orias. But the Saragrahi Vaishnavas find the idols as emblems of some eternal truth which has been explained in the Vedanta Sutras of Vyasa. Within the temples in which are to be found the idols of Bimala, Shiva, Ganesha and Surya, the big, towering temple of Jagannath stands in the middle of the compound. Those who examined the system of Hindu Theology with a philosophic eye, are well aware that there are five different forms of faith comprised therein.
* The first form of faith is Shaktaism or the worship of nature as God.
* The second is the worship of Surya or the sun which is identified with heat; the only active element in lifeless matter.
* The third teaches one to worship the Spirit in its most unsatisfactory form of development in the lower animals. In this form, the elephant-man or Ganesha is the object of worship.
* Man is the object of worship in fourth stage of Hinduism. The soul, well developed as it is in the man, is worshiped in Shiva in whom the human souls is said to be observed after salvation.
* In the fifth stage alone, the Infinite God distinct from the human soul, is perceived and worshiped. Here commences Vaishnavism.
In these five stage are shown the whole history of Hindu Theology, nay, the whole history of Theology in general. All sorts of creeds that have come to existence since the creation of man, are included in these five stages. Name any system of faith that man has discovered and we will find no difficulty in classing it with any one of the five, viz. Materialism, Elementalism, Fetishism, Man worship and God worship. This is summing up of all systems of faith philosophically and not instructing people to believe in any one of them except the last. The visitor of the temple of Jagannath will find a similar display of these systems in their proper places. Consequently we find the temple of Jagannath in the middle of the compound, and our remarks will now relate to Jagannath exclusively.
We have several times entered the shrine of Jagannath, and, approaching the sandal bolts, have observed in the middle room an elevated seat on which stand four different forms viz. Jagannath, Balaram, Subhadra and Sudarshan. According to the Vedanta, God is without a second, but He has infinite energies and attributes which are not fully known to man. But then man perceives only three energies in God, because he has no other corresponding sides to understand the other powers. From one of the energies proceeds matter in all its different forms and properties and this energy is styled Maya Shakti of God. From the second energy proceeds all spiritual creation, in all its relations and phases. This power is entitled the Jiva Shakti of God. The third energy perceivable by man is the energy of Will, which is called Cit Shakti. God moving in creation is what is meant by this infinite energy.
Jagannathis the emblem of God having no other form than the eyes and the hands. They mean to show that God sees and knows and creates. Balaram is the source of Jiva Shakti of God; Subhudra, the Maya Shakti; and Sudarshana is the energy of Will. We cannot form any ideas of these energies and hence it is worship of Jagannath that depends upon the collection of these four forms on the same platform. Here we see God analyzed in the shape of forms for the sake of those who want to conceive of Him. It is the same thing to see Jagannath as to study the Vedanta in all its Branches. The temple and its institution appear to me to be a book for those who can read it, to the foolish the institution is useless except as a means of reminding them of the Deity who created the world.
There is one more thing in the temple which explains the philosophical superiority of Jagannath over all other Hindu institutions. We mean the Mahaprasad system. Rice dedicated to Jagannath is sold in the Bazaar to all pilgrims. Brahmins and the Khettries, Vaishnavas and Shaktas, the Sannyasis and the Grahastas, all accept it without any hesitation whatever. Brahminical aristocracy has no rule in the temple. This shows that when people get wise, they need not obey the foolish dictates of the Brahmins which are mainly intended for those who are unable to chalk out ways for themselves. When man admits the superiority of Love to God to all other systems of rule and ethics, he is not bound to work according to the Shastras intended for lower order of men. The common bonds of the inferior Dharma Shastras of Manu and Yagnavalkya have no influence on the free Vaishnavas who are God’s own soldiers in the crusade against evil.
The system of Mahaprasad is not only emblematic of the superior life of the Vaishnavas, but it is a part of the worship which ordinary theists cannot fully understand. The ordinary men are very much inclined to preserve the superiority of Reason over intuitive feelings of man towards the God of Love. We must now proceed to show with healthy arguments that our intuitive feelings want us to offer everything we eat to the God of our heart. We must first examine the arguments of the antagonist. The Rationalists holds that God is infinite and without wants, and consequently it is foolish to offer eatables to such Being. It is sacrilege to offer created things to the Creator and thereby degrade the Divinity of God into humanity. These are reasonable arguments indeed, and one who has heard them will certainly be inclined to declare to others, “Down with the Mahaprasad.” These conclusions, however reasonable, are dry and destructive. They tend to separate us from all connections with God in the form of worship. When you say that the infinite wants nothing, you forbid all contemplation and prayer. The Infinite does not want your grateful expressions or, in other words, flattery. Utter a word to the Unconditioned and you are sure to degrade Him into a conditioned Being. Hymns, prayers and sermons are all over! Shut your temple door and the church gates , because our Rationalist has advised you to do so. Believe a creating principle and you have done your duty! Oh! What a shame! What a dreadful fall! Theists, beware of these degrading principles!
Now the Rationalists appears in another shape and admits prayers, sermons, psalms and church going, saying that these things are wanted for the improvement of the soul, but God does not want them at all. We are glad that the Rationalists have come towards us and will make further approaches in course of time.
Yes, the progressive Rationalists has admitted a very broad principle in Theology, viz. whatever we do towards God is for our own benefit and not for the benefit of God, who is not in want of any such thing. But the Rationalists is a Rationalists still and will continue to be so, as long as he will seek self-interest. We know for certain that religion promises to give eternal felicity to man and it is impossible to conceive of any religion which has not at its bottom self-interest. This view however, smells of utilitarianism and can never claim to be theistic. We must love God for God’s sake, however unreasonable our action may be. Our love must be without any object whatever that concerns ourselves. This must be a natural emotion to the Deity as our Lover without inference or experience. Salvation, dear as it is, should not be the object of this love: what then about other shapes of felicity? “Love of God” is its own reward. Salvation as a concomitant consequence, must be a hand-maid of Love, but we must not look on it as its main object.
If Rationalist be prepared to believe this, he becomes a Theist of the Vaishnava class; but the mere assuming of the name is of no consequence. Though fully aware that the unconditioned has no conditions whatever, yet our holy and sweet principle of love take a quite different view of the matter. Reason says one thing but Love prescribes its contrary. Reasontell me that God has no sorrow, but Love sees God in tears for those of His sons that are misled to evil. Reason tells me that the strict laws of God reward and punish me in a cold manner, but Love reveals that God slackens His laws to the repentant soul! Reason tells me that with all his improvements, man will never touch the Absolute God; but Love preaches that on the conversion of the soul into state of spiritual womanhood, God, the unconditioned as He is, accepts an eternal marriage with the conditioned soul of man! Reason tells me that God is in infinite space and time, but Love describes that the all-beautiful God is sitting before us like a respected relative and enjoying all the pleasures of society.
As a father in his amusements with his young children, God is spreading all sorts of delicious food all over the earth and expecting that His sons should gather all the scattered blessings and, without the exercise of reason in consequence of a strong feeling of love, offer all the blessing to the Father whom they love more than their lives. The Father again, in reply to their kind feelings, gives back the blessings to the children and tells them these kindlier words, “O! My children! These blessings intended for you! Out of your natural love you bring them to me for my enjoyment; but I have naturally no wants to supply. But then I have accepted that part of your offering which corresponds with me, viz. your unmixed love and disinterested affections for which alone I am exceedingly anxious. Take back these sweet things and enjoy them.”
This process of disinterested love, which dry reason can never brook, sanctifies the food we take, and leaves us to harmless enjoyment for all the days of our natural life! This is the system of sincere worship which theists of a higher class alone can act upon. We cannot express the joy we often felt when we took the holy Mahaprasad in the temple! The holiness we attach to it is its sweetness and often pray that all men may enjoy it. To the Saragrahi Vaishnava, the temple has such thrilling charms which the ordinary Rationalist can never understand. We do not mean to say that Reason is a foolish principle. On the contrary we do not find better admirers of Reason than our humble selves. We hold that man’s superiority amongst all created beings consist in man’s possessing the noble gift of Reason.
What we maintain in this, that independent of this noble principle there is another higher gift in man which goes by the name of Love. Reason helps Love to maintain its proper bounds in the Spiritual world. Love often tends to degrade itself by exercising its functions on objects other than God and converts itself into lust for woman, wine, meat and gold. Here Reason advises her to rise higher till she reaches her proper sphere above. Thus we find that the object of Reason is to help Love and not to create it. Reason may be properly styled as the servant of Love and must always be subject to her in all her hopes, aspirations and holy works. The Rationalist on the contrary considers Reason as all in all. This is degradation of humanity. The progressive Rationalist, on the other hand, believes in the principle of love, but attempts to make her the maid-servant of Reason. This is another error. He makes spiritual love sometimes a prisoner in the Jails of Reason. Love wants to soar on her spiritual wings to a realm where the Jailer (Reason) cannot go and the latter is sure to tie up her wings for fear lest she goes to an unworthy place. Love utters sounds of a spiritual character peculiar to herself, but Reason, having no previous experience of it, mistakes it for a disease and administers medicines for her cure. Thus it is that the natural strength of the Queen of our Soul is crippled by artificial administrations of the dry principle of Reason and she rests in us as if a bird taken in a cage.
Oh. What a havoc doth Reason commit by abuse of his power. Oh. Shame to the Rationalist. God, help the man. Theists take care of those amongst you who mix with you only by assuming the name of Theist but are in fact Rationalists of very dry character. They are divisible into two classes viz. the designing and the dupe. The designing Theist is he who is in fact a Rationalist but by assuming the name of a Theist want to degrade the sincere by his bad influence. He that calls himself a Theist in order to get rid of the name of a Rationalist but still holds Love in subjection to Reason is a dupe because he is unable to find out his own position. The sincere theist should however take care of both of them and preserve the sovereignty of Love over Reason and his comrades.
We will now show that others, who have allowed their Love to degrade without caring for the proper instructions of Reason on the other hand, have gone down to a gross idolatry and superstition. The Temple of Jagannath is under the superintendence of the local Rajah of Puri whom the foolish men worship as an incarnation of the Deity. Under his superintendence there are 36 classes of servants at the temple who are styled the Chhatrisha Niyoga. There are six hundred families of Suars (Soopakars) or cooks in the temple. It is needless here to enumerate all these classes of servants. Several Pandas, Pariharis, Pashupals and Suars send their servants to different parts of India to collect pilgrims to the temple. These agents or Gomasthas (as they are called) visit the gentleman of the places they go to and give some sweetmeat Mahaprasad proposing that they are ready to take pilgrims to Puri under their care.
By this means, the agents collect a large number of souls (amongst whom the greatest number are woman of an advanced age) and march on with the sound of Haribol. We must admit that the Pandas and their Gomasthas (generally of the Kayestha class) take a great deal of trouble for the sake of their pilgrims and sometimes advance money for their expenses on the road. The Bengal Jattris generally visit Puri at the Snana Jattra and the Ratha Jattra festivals but the upcountry men come to Puri at all times in the year.
When the pilgrims arrive at Puri the Panda, whose agent brought them, visit them with some Mahaprasad near the Narendra Tank at the approach of the town. The pilgrims see Jagannath on the very day that they arrive and perform the ceremony of Pancha Tirtha on the following day or the day after that. By Pancha Tirtha is meant the business of bathing in the Tanks of Markandeya and Indradyumna and in the sea and, after performing Sradha in those three places, seeing the emblems of Jagannath and Balarama in the temple.
The Panda all along keeps silent, but on the last day he is sure to take everything that the pilgrim has and sometimes to take a bond for an amount according to the circumstances of the pilgrim. That day the Panda with all his usual gravity takes the pilgrim to an elevated roof in the northern part of the temple called Koili Vaikoontha and there utters his Mahabakya and Shufala in order to persuade the pilgrim to pay whatever he or she has with him or her. Thus the pilgrim returns to his native place without anything but a patara of sweetmeat Mahaprasada and a few slips of Jagannath’s likeness in rude paintings!
In fact the temple servants, one, and all, are not a bit a better than Brahminical priests who deal with the next world as a means of gain. They are rude in the extreme and quite ignorant of Hindu Theology. They never attempt to teach or learn, but often rove in quest of money. Most of them are fond of drinking a liquor prepared from Bhang and hence they have (nearly all of them) a swelling of their legs sometimes coming up to the stage of disease called elephantiasis. With all their gains, the temple servants can never store wealth because they are very careless. Besides the temple they generally keep a place called an Akhra where they meet together for the purpose of drinking Bhang and seeing the dance of young boys clad in the dress of females! We will try to give you an account of all the Akhras in Puri in my next paper, and as this paper has become much longer than we at first intended, we take leave of you for the present.
We often read and hear, how being a devotee, our heart should be soft, full of humility and compassion for others. Sometime we are not even sure where to draw the final line as there are different instructions for devotees at different levels of consciousness. We do not even know what is true humility and many a times wonder how a pure Vaishnava thinks, what are his emotions and how does he acts?
Caitanya Mahaprabhu quoted the below verse, from Mahabharat, to a brahmana during his visit to Mathura
tarko ’pratiṣṭhaḥśrutayo vibhinnā
nāsāv ṛṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ
mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ
‘Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated, self-realized person. Consequently, as the śāstras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the mahājanas advocate.’
(CC Madhya 17.186)
There have been innumerable great devotees whose example we can take, Srimad Bhagavatam also mentions names of 12 mahajans. So which mahajan should we look up to?
Interestingly, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated that for us, Gaudia Vaishnava , the followers of Mahaprabhu are the modern mahajans. We should follow them. He writes :
The åñisand mahätmäswho have taught conduct before the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are counted among the previous mahäjanas. The conduct seen in the mahäjanasafter the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the conduct of later mahäjanas. The conduct of the later mahäjanas is superior and should be adopted. The conduct of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers is meant to teach people, so that conduct should be followed in all respects.
So let us hear about the thinking, feeling and acting of one of such mahajans, Srila Haridas Thakur, whom Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared to be Namacharya of our sampradaya. So he is definitely qualified to be one of modern mahajans. Let us find about the condition of his heart from Caitanya Bhagavat, may be we feel inspired to have a re-look at our own heart.
Srila Haridas Thakur was born in a muslim family in a village called Buron, and because of his presence there, many people became purified and took up the chanting of the holy name. After some years he left his village and travelled to a place near the river Ganga. He finally settled in the village of Phulia near Santipura.
He passed his time wandering on the banks of the Ganga chanting the name of the Supreme Lord Krishna. It was common to see him dancing while he sang the glories of Lord Krishna’s name. People would gather around him just to see the unrestricted tears of love of Godhead that flowed profusely from his eyes, drenching his entire body. Even the strictest atheists marvelled at his behaviour.
The local Qazi became envious of Haridas Thakur’s popularity and reported to the Nawab, “This man is acting like a Hindu; arrest him and punish him appropriately.” Thus Haridas Thakura was arrested.
In the court he was accused of practicing Hindu religion despite being a muslim. When Srila Haridas Thakur replied that God is one and the difference between Hindu God and Muslim God is in Name only, he was sentenced by the Nawab to be lashed in 22 market places until he dies.
He was then dragged by the soldiers from one market place to another, lashing him mercilessly. By the grace of Lord Krishna, Haridasa felt little pain in his body. Just like Prahlada in the Srimad Bhagavatam who was tortured by demons, Haridas never suffered at all. Not only was Haridas freed from his pain, whoever remembers this story of Srila Haridas will also be saved from the miseries of life. Throughout his ordeal, Haridasa’s one emotion was pity for the sentries. “O Lord Krishna, please be merciful upon these poor souls sothey may not be punished because of me.”
(What would be our reaction if someone were to give us a humiliating public chastisement, or God forbid, a tight slap, for no fault of ours?)
What Krishna will not do for His pure devotee !
During Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mahaprakash pastime, He called for Haridas Thakur and shared that when Haridas Thakur was being beaten how Lord wanted to kill all the soldiers but He could not do so because Haridas Thakur himself was praying for those very soldiers!
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed:
I hesitated in My heart to punish them for it will disturb you, knowing your compassionate nature.
My Sudarsan disc weapon was rendered impotent. I could not strike those men because you were determined to forgive them and so unable to see your misery I protected you from their lashes by placing My back on your back.
“I accepted all those lashes meant for you on My back, see the marks on my back.
Haridas Thakur’s glorification of Mahaprabhu
When Haridas heard about the Lord’s magnanimous deed he fell swooning to the ground. He lost all external consciousness and was immersed in an ocean of ecstasy.
Thakura Haridas said, “O Lord Visvambhara! You are the Lord and Protector of the Universe, now the responsibility of delivering a lowly fallen wretch like me rests on You, My Lord. How can I describe Your transcendental glories as I do not possess any good qualifications, I am sinful, and I am not even within the Vedic society.
(We all have many demoniac propensities but how do we see ourselves in the mirror every day?)
Just seeing me makes a person vulnerable to sin, and touching me makes one so contaminated that he must bath immediately; how can I say anything about Your divine pastimes?
(Whereas our mere touch or at least our power of speech is capable to turn any non-devotee into a devotee, God’s gift to mankind, only if others were to follow my instructions, or better, hear my pastimes!)
There is one fact that You yourself have stated, anyone remembering your lotus feet, be he an insignificant and fallen as an insect, is never forsaken by You. Whereas even a mighty king falls from grace if he disregards Your lotus feet. I am incapable of remembering You although I know you shelter the most impoverished soul if he simply remembers You.
(Remember Haridas Thakur would daily chant 300,000 names or 192 rounds every day. What most of us chant in 12 days!)
The evil Duryodhana and Suhsasana dragged the righteous Draupadi into the palace court wanting to disrobe her. Confronted with the danger of disgrace she remembered You, Krishna. And because of this You made her sari endlessly long by Your mystic potency. Yet the evil doers could not perceive Your hand in this.
I am so sinful that I cannot remember such a magnanimous Personality as You; O Lord! please therefore give me shelter at Your lotus feet.
The demon Hiranyakasipu inflicted all varieties of treachery and brutal methods trying to kill Prahlad like poisoning, hurling down from the mountain, throwing in boiling cauldron of oil etc. Yet throughout his tribulations Prahlad meditated upon Your lotus feet and was saved from each and every calmity. In this way You humbled many of his enemies and took away all their vitality and strength: finally You appeared in Person due to Prahlad’s meditation.
Once the five Pandavas were in grave dilemma fearing the wrath of Durvasa Muni, but by remembering You, You appeared personally and saved them. You calmed Yudhisthira Maharaja with your assuring words, see I am already here, you just sit down and relax and I will take care of Durvasa Muni and his army of disciples.”
Only the shred of vegetable left stuck to the side of the pot after the Pandavas had eaten was taken by; Lord Krishna relishing the thought of coming to His devotees aid. The sage with his disciples meanwhile bathing in the river suddenly felt full in the belly like having eaten a sumptuous meal” ashamed and tearful they fled.
The miraculous benefits of remembering Your lotus feet was amply demonstrated by the Pandavas in this incident. The path of true devotion for everyone is to remember You; You perform Your super excellent activities to rescue Your devotees.
(My own pastimes spontaneously start floating in my mind when I am chanting, for some strange reason happenings in my own life seems to be more interesting then Krishna’s pastimes)
“O Lord! I am such a destitute that I do not even possess the sweetness of Your memory and yet You have not forsaken me. Although I am unfit to see You, You are present before me in person. I am praying to You now for only one benediction.”
(Why is Krishna taking so much time to reciprocate? I am almost ready to join the boys!)
Lord Chaitanya replied, “Say all that you want to say, there is nothing that I do not want to give you.“
Haridas spoke to the Lord with folded hands, “O Lord, I have known only misfortune yet You give me so much hope. Just allow me to partake of the remnant of foodstuffs of Your devotees totally surrendered to Your lotus feet. Let this activity be my permanent and most prominent service life after life. My sinful birth and existence is miserable, without remembering You, but now please make my life successful by granting me the remnant of Your servitors.
(What! Not to become a gopi? Not even a gopa or even a simple servant of Krishna. We can close our eyes and consider what will be our reply if Krishna decides to manifest in front of us and says ‘Ask Me anything you may desire’)
I feel within my heart that I have committed a grave offense by asking of You to situate a elevated status of that of a Vaishnava, although I am grossly unfit.
( He is considering it an offense that he even asked or desired to come to the level of a Vaishnava!)
O Lord! my master, Protector and the maintainer of the entire creation, I am spiritually lifeless, therefore kindly forgive my ignorance.
(After joining ISKCON I have gathered so much information!)
O Lord Visvambhara, the beautiful son of Mother Saci, You are my master, so be merciful to me and keep me as a dog in the house of a Vaishnava.”
( Not even a cow ! who is at least tied within the boundary of the home. A dog is not even allowed inside a cultured Vaishnava’s home)
Haridas Thakur was overwhelmed by feeling of ecstatic devotional emotions and he repeatedly petitioned the Lord, his desire for humility and devotional service unfulfilled.
( We are feeling morose simply by reading what all is Haridas Thakur requesting from Mahaprabhu!)
Caitanya Mahaprabhu reveals His heart
Lord Chaitanya replied, “Listen My dear Haridas, you are a highly elevated Vaishnava, if anyone spends a day in your services and association or you kindly speak to someone for a short time, that person certainly achieves Me, there is no doubt about this. Whoever respects and serves you does so to Me also, for I perpetually reside within you.
As my servitor Your position is unique, you have therefore imprisoned Me within your heart eternally. I bless you that since you are crowned already with a faultless character that you will always continue to worship and serve Me and My devotees without a single deviation or offense.”
A tumultuous sound of joy from the Vaishnavas greeted Lord Chaitanya’s boon to Haridas Thakur. High birth, caste, fruitive activities or wealth are worthless commodities to achieve love of Godhead only the intense loving desire for Krishna can bring one to the lotus feet of Krishna.
Where do I go from here, I definitely have a long way to go!
In the spiritual matters there is no loss or anything disheartening everything has a positive outcome. Please rejoice as we read below the benediction of just hearing the above chapter from Caitanya Bhagavat, Madhya Lila, chapter 10.
One who hears this pastime of the Lord and Haridas Thakur with proper faith will certainly enjoy the fruit of Lord Krishna prema. These words are not my concoction but the bold declarations of all scriptures. One is sure to experience the bliss of devotional service to Lord Krishna if one hears the transcendental activities of the pure devotees of the Supreme Lord. All glories to Haridas Thakur, a giant amongst the Vaishnavas, remembering him one is freed from all sinful reactions.
Today is the most auspicious Gaura Purnima, appearance day of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu.
Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita 4.9
janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ’rjuna
One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.
So Krishna is saying that if we know Krishna, or His actions, in tattva then we will not take birth again. The dictionary meaning of tattva is ‘principle’, ‘reality’ or ‘truth’. It sounds too simple but it is a very deep topic. Those who do get to understand Krishna in tattva their life completely changes, their consciousness and the very purpose of being will change. As this has not happened to many of us, specially true for my own poor self, that would imply that we do not know Krishna in tattva. That is why Srimad Bhagavatam first introduces all the incarnations so that step by step we will reach towards Krishna and then understand His position, His pastimes in tattva. Now if this is true for Krishna then we can understand how difficult it is to understand the position of Mahaprabhu. He is described as a ‘channa avatara’, hidden incarnation, in the scriptures. But if we do become fortunate to understand Mahaprabhu in tattva then as per the above Bhagavad Gita verse we will not take a birth again because there is no difference between Krishna and Mahaprabhu.
So in this auspicious day I am sharing some part of ‘Gaura Tattva’ from a book called Gaudiya Kanthahar which is a compilation of choicest verses from various Upanishad, puranas, Mahabharat, etc. on topics like Guru tattva, Krishna tattva, jiva tattva , maya tattva, etc, by Sri Atinddriya Das Adhikari a disciple of Srila Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakura. His compilation was mainly from the writings of his guru maharaj Srila Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakura, who, when presented with this book, was extremely pleased with this compilation. I hope this will nurture our devotional life and help us understand Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in tattva.
The Evidence From Sruti for Lord Caitanya
mahan-prabhur vai purusah sattvasyesa pravarttakah
surnimalam imam santimisano jyotiravyah
The Personality of Godhead, Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is brilliantly effulgent and imperishable like molten gold. He is the Supreme Controller. He controls the mode of goodness and through saokirtana bestows spiritual intelligence on the living beings. In the guise of a sannyasi, He is the source of spiritual purity and of liberation. He is therefore known as “Mahaprabhu”. (Svetasvatara Upanisad 3.12)
tada vidyan punya-pape vidhuya niranjanah paramam samyam upaiti
When one realizes the golden form of Lord Gauranga, who is the ultimate actor and the source of the Supreme Brahman, he attains the highest knowledge. He transcends both pious and impious activities, becomes free from worldly bondage, and enters the divine abode of the Lord. (Mundaka Upanisad 3.3)
In the age of Kali, Krishna appears in a golden form, chanting the two syllables krs-na. He descends along with His weapons, limbs, saktis, and eternal confidential associates. Those with intelligence worship Him with the saokirtana yajna. (Bhag. 11.5.32)
‘krishna’ ei dui varna sada yaora mukhe athava, krishnake tioho varne nija sukhe.
krishna-varna-sabdera artha dui ta pramana krishna vinu taora mukhe nahi aise ana.
deha-kantye haya teoho akrishna-varana akrishna-varane kahe pita-varana.
The two syllables krs-na are always in His mouth, or He always describes Krishna with great pleasure. These are two meanings of the words “krishna varna.” Indeed, nothing but Krishna issues from His mouth. If someone tries to describe Him as blackish, the next adjective, tvisakrishnam, immediately restricts him. His complexion is certainly not blackish. Indeed, His not being blackish indicates a golden complexion. (Cc. Adi 3.54,55,57)
asan varnas trayo hy asya grhnato ‘nuyugam tanuh
suklo raktas tatha pita idanim krishnatam gatah
This boy, Krishna, has three other colors: white; red, and yellow, as He appears in different ages. Now, in this Dvapara-yuga, he has appeared in a transcendental blackish color. (Bhag. 10.8.13)
dharmam maha-purusa pasi yuganuvrttam channah kalau yad abhavas tri-yugo ‘tha sa tvam
[Prahlada said] O Krishna, in this way You appear in various incarnations: as a human being, an animal, a great saint, a demigod, a fish, or a tortoise, thus maintaining the entire creation in different planetary systems. In this way, according to the age, You protect the principles of religion, but, O Mahaprabhu, in the age of Kali, You do not assert Yourself as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because Your incarnation is hidden in the age of Kali You are known as Triyuga, or the Lord who manifests His supremacy in only three ages. (Bhag. 7.9.38)
Evidence From Mahabharata for Shri Caitanya
suvarna-varno hemango varangas-candanangadi
sannyasa-krcchamah santo nistha-santi-parayanah
When Krishna appears as Lord Gauranga, in His early pastimes His complexion is golden (suvarna-varna), His limbs are the color of molten white gold (hemanga), His body is extremely beautiful (varangas), and He is decorated with sandalwood pulp (candanangadi). Shri Caitanya accepts sannyasa (sannyasa-krt), and shows equanimity (sama). He is peaceful (santa). His mind is always fixed on Krishna, and thus He is nistha, or fixed, in performing the great sacrifice of the holy name of Krishna. He silences the non-devotees and impersonalists who are opposed to the service of the Lord, by promoting the cause of devotion. Thus He distributes real peace. He is therefore an abode of the highest spiritual peace and devotion. (Mahabharata, Dan-dharma ch.149)
I take shelter of Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krishna Himself, thinking of Himself. He is internally Krishna blackish but externally, he appears in golden complexion. In this age of Kali, Krishna appears as Krishna Caitanya, simultaneously manifesting His eternal associates, opulences, expansions, and incarnations. In this way, he preaches the process of Krishna consciousness by performing saokirtana. (Tattva-sandarbha 2)
Sri Gauranga is the Source of all Avataras
sutiya acchinu ksira-sagara-bhitare
mora nidra bhanga haila nadara huokare
[While sitting on the altar of Vishnu in the house of Shrivasa, Lord Caitanya said] Lying within the ocean of milk, My transcendental slumber broke, as I awoke to hear the loud cries of My devotees, thus I [Lord Vishnu] have come [as Lord Caitanya]. (Cb. Madhya 22.16)
Lord Caitanya’s sixfold Nature
sakala vaishnava, suna kari’ eka-mana Caitanya-krsnera sastra-mata-nirupana.
krishna, guru, bhakta, sakti avatara, prakasa krishna ei chaya-rupe karena vilasa
I advise all my Vaishnava readers to read and hear with rapt attention this narration of the pastimes of Lord Krishna Caitanya as inculcated in the revealed scriptures. Lord Krishna enjoys His pastimes by manifesting Himself as the spiritual masters (guru), His devotees (bhakta), His diverse energies (sakti), His incarnations (avataras) and His full expansions (prakasa). (Cc. Adi 1.31,32)
Lord Caitanya is the Jagad-guru
caudda bhuvanera guru Caitanya-gosani
taora guru anya, ei kona sastre nai
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the jagad-guru, the spiritual master of the fourteen worlds. No other guru can compare with Him. (Cc. Adi 12.16)
gaurodevah sa jiyat pranaya-rasapade darsitascarya-kotih
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is lovelier than millions of cupids. He is mellower than millions of moons, dearer than millions of mothers, kinder than millions of wish-fulfilling trees, deeper than millions of oceans, and sweeter than millions of nectarean drinks. All glories to Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Lord, who displays millions of amazing sentiments of madhurya-bhakti, the most exalted mellow of pure love of Godhead. (Caitanya Candramrta 101)
His nature (tattva) is that He is Krishna Himself. His name (nama) is Krishna Caitanya. His form (rupa) is golden. His quality (guna) is that He is the most magnanimous of all incarnations. His pastime (lila) is to distribute the highest love of Godhead krishna-prema. I offer my obeisances unto that most generous Lord, Shri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. (Cc. Madhya 19.53)
Gauranga Delivers All by Distributing Nama
saokirtana-pravartaka shri-krishna-Caitanya saokirtana-yajne taore bhaje, sei dhanya.
sei ta’ sumedha, ara kubuddhi samsara sarva-yajna haite krishna-nama-yajna sara
Caitanya Mahaprabhu inaugurated the saokirtana movement. One who worships Him through saokirtana is fortunate indeed. Such a person is truly intelligent, whereas others, who have but a poor fund of knowledge, must endure the cycle of repeated birth and death. Of all sacrificial performances, the chanting of the Lord’s holy name is the most sublime. (Cc. Adi 3.77,78)
saj-jana, dur-jana, pangu, jada, andha-gana prema-vanyaya dubaila jagatera jana
The flood of love of Godhead distributed by Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu swelled in all directions. Young men, old men, women, and children were all immersed in that inundation. The Krishna consciousness movement begun by Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will inundate the entire world and drown everyone, whether one be a gentleman, rogue, lame, invalid, or blind. (Cc. Adi 7.25,26)
patrapatra-vicara nahi, nahi sthanasthana yei yanha paya, taoha kare prema-dana
lutiya, khaiya, diya, bhandara ujade ascarya bhandara, prema sata-guna bade
In distributing love of Godhead, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was fit and who was unfit, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no such conditions. Rather, wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Panca-tattva distributed love of Godhead. Although they plundered the storehouse of love of Godhead, ate and distributed its contents, there was no scarcity, for this wonderful storehouse is so complete that as the love is distributed, the supply increases hundreds of times. (Cc. Adi 7.23,24)
One can Know the Conclusion of Scripture by Shri Gauranga’s Mercy
I offer my obeisances unto Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, by whose mercy even an ignorant child can swim across the ocean of conclusive truth, which is filled with the crocodiles of various theories. (Cc. Adi 2.1)
Lord Gauranga’s Preaching Pastimes
sannyasi pandita-ganera karite garva nasa
nica-sudra-dvara karena dharmera prakasa.
‘bhakti’, ‘ prema’, ‘tattva’ kahe raye kari’ ‘vakta’
apani pradyumna-misra-saha haya ‘srota’.
shri-rupa-dvara vrajera prema-rasa-lila
ke bujhite pare gambhira caitanyera khela?
To vanquish the false pride of so-called sannyasis and learned scholars, He spread real religious principles, even through a sudra. Lord Caitanya preached about devotional service, ecstatic love, and the Absolute Truth by making Ramananda Raya, a grhastha from a low family, the speaker. Then the Lord, an exalted brahmana sannyasi, and Pradyumna Misra, the purified brahmana, both heard from Ramananda Raya. The Lord exhibited the glories of the holy name of Krishna through Haridasa Thakura, who was born in a Muslim family. Similarly, He exhibited the essence of devotional service through Sanatana Gosvami, who was almost converted to Islam. The Lord also fully exhibited the ecstatic love and transcendental pastimes of Vrndavana through Shrila Rupa Gosvami. Considering all this, who can understand the deep plans of Caitanya Mahaprabhu? (Cc. Antya 5.84-87)
vraje ye vihare purve krishna-balarama koti-surya-candra jini doohara nija-dhama.
sei dui jagatere ha-iya sadaya gaudadese purva-saile karila udaya.
shri-krishna-Caitanya ara prabhu nityananda yaohara prakase sarva jagat ananda.
surya-candra hare yaiche saba andhakara vastu prakasiya kare dharmera pracara.
ei mata dui bhai jivera ajnana-tamo-nasa kari’ kaila tattva-vastu-dana.
yaohara prasade ei tamo haya nasa tamo nasa kari’ kare tattvera prakasa.
surya candra bahirera tamau se vinase bahir-vastu ghata-pata-adi se prakase.
dui bhai hrdayera ksali’ andhakara dui bhagavata-sange karana saksatkara.
Krishna and Balarama, who formerly appeared in Vrndavana and who were millions of times more effulgent than the sun and moon, have arisen over the eastern horizon of Gauda-desa, being compassionate on the fallen state of the world. The appearance of Srri Caitanya and Nityananda has surcharged the world with happiness. As the sun and moon drive away darkness and reveal the nature of everything, these two brothers dissipate the darkness of the living beings ignorance and enlighten them with knowledge of the Absolute Truth. By the grace of Sri Caitanya and Nityananda, all darkness is removed and the truth is brought to light. The sun and moon dissipate the darkness of the external world and thus reveal material reality, but these two brothers dissipate the darkness of the inner core of the heart, and thus help one to meet the two kinds of Bhagavatas. (Cc. Adi 1.85-89,95,97,98)
sei simha vasuk jivera hrdaya-kandare kalmasa-dvirada nase yaohara huokare
Thus the lion-like Caitanya Mahaprabhu has appeared in Navadvipa-dhama. He has the shoulders of a lion, the powers of a lion, and the loud voice of a lion. May that lion be seated in the core of the heart of every living being and with His resounding roar, may He drive away their elephantine vices. (Cc. Adi 3.30,31)
May that Lord who is known as the son of Shrimati Sacidevi be transcendentally situated in the inner-most chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold He has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before the most sublime and radiant spiritual knowledge of the mellow taste of His service. (Cc. Adi 1.4)
Lord Gauranga’s Confidential Reason for Appearing
shri-radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva-
svadyo yenadbhuta-madhurima kidrso va madiyah
saukhyam casya mad-anubhavatah kidrsam veti lobhat
Desiring to understand the glory of Shrimati Radharani’s love, the wonderful qualities in Him that she alone relishes through Her love, and the happiness she feels when she realizes the sweetness of His love, Lord Hari, richly endowed with Her emotions, appears from the womb of Sacidevi as the moon appears from the ocean. (Cc. Adi 1.6)
Internally He has the Mood of Shri Radha, Externally He Preaches the Holy Name
sei radhara bhava lana Caitanyavatara
yuga-dharma nama-prema kaila paracara
Lord Caitanya appeared with the sentiments of Shri Radha. He preached the dharma of this age, the chanting of the holy name of Krishna, and pure love of Godhead (Krishna-prema). (Cc. Adi 4.220)
Gauranga Appears as His Holy Name and as His Deity
ara dui janma ei saokirtanarambhe haiba tomara putra ami avilambe
mora arca-murti mata, tumi se dharani jihvarupa tumi mata, namera janani
ei dui janma mora saokirtanarambhe dui thani tora putra rahu avilambe
[Lord Caitanya told Saci] Birth after birth you are My mother. Again, in this birth, I have come to begin the saokirtana movement, and so I have become your son. My appearance in this world is twofold: I appear as the arca-murti and as the holy name. In this way I appear upon the tongue in the form of sound, and as the Deity made from the elements drawn from the earth. In both these forms I am worshiped, and in these two features I have appeared in order to spread the saokirtana movement. (Cb. Madhya 27.47)
ramya kacid-upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena ya kalpita
shrimad-bhagavatam pramanam-amalam prema pumartho mahan
shri Caitanya mahaprabhur-matam-idam tatradaro nah parah
It is the conclusive opinion of Lord Caitanya that Shri Krishna, who is Vrajendra-nandana, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, the topmost worshipable Deity; Vrndavana-dhama which is an expansion of Krishna and is nondifferent from Him is the highest worshipable abode; the gopis are the highest example of the worship of Shri Krishna; Shrimad-bhagavatam is the spotless evidence for knowing the absolute truth; krishna-prema is the fifth and highest goal of life. These are the teachings of Shri Caitanya in a nutshell. (Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura)
“The Vedic literatures give information about the living entity’s eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa, which is called sambandha. The living entity’s understanding of this relationship and his acting accordingly is called abhidheya. Returning home, back to Godhead, is the ultimate goal of life and is called prayojana.
“Devotional service, or sense activity for the satisfaction of the Lord, is called abhidheya because it can develop one’s original love of Godhead, which is the goal of life. This goal is the living entity’s topmost interest and greatest wealth. Thus one attains the platform of transcendental loving service unto the Lord.
“When one attains the transcendental bliss of an intimate relationship with Kṛṣṇa, he renders service to Him and tastes the mellows of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
— CC Madhya 20.124-126
The whole Vedas are divided into three states. Sambandha: what is our connection with God? That is called sambandha. And then abhidheya. According to that relationship we have to act. That is called abhidheya. And why do we act? Because we have got the goal of life, to achieve the goal of life. So what is the goal of life? The goal of life is that to go back to home, back to Godhead. That is goal of life.
..the Vedānta-sūtra consists of four chapters. The first two chapters discuss the relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is known as sambandha-jñāna, or knowledge of the relationship. The third chapter describes how one can act in his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhidheya-jñāna. The relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Lord is described by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’. “The living entity is an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme God.” (Cc. Madhya 20.108) Therefore, to act in that relationship one must perform sādhana-bhakti, or the prescribed duties of service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhidheya-jñāna. The fourth chapter describes the result of such devotional service (prayojana-jñāna). This ultimate goal of life is to go back home, back to Godhead.
— CC Adi 7 106p
I was hearing a lecture by HH Bhakti Vidyapurna Maharaj on the same topic and Maharaj explained these three terms in a simpler way as well the relation between them.
Sambandha : attraction, what draws the mind.
Prayojana : attachment.
Both the above are moods, they create feelings but there is no activity.
Abhidheya : This is the actual expression of the above two.
So we become attracted towards Krishna and then due to that attraction we become attached to Krishna and then we want to do something. The real meaning comes with service.
We say mind has three functions: thinking, feeling and willing.
If something is attractive we think about it, if we are not attracted then we won’t think about it. Feeling is when we get attached to it. Then..willing.. we actually do something about it. So we see Krishna, we become attracted to Krishna then we become attached to Krishna and then we finally want to serve Krishna.
So it is in abhidheya that we understand the knowledge, contemplate on it and then practice that knowledge. It is application. How we are related to Krishna and what we want to achieve, what is it’s purpose.
Abhidheya is the most important and critical part among the three and I am sharing some nectar, which I heard in last few months, on how we, as aspiring devotees, can traverse this wonderful and exciting journey, making it more enriching and less painful (for us and those around us!)
Who am I and what is my eternal duty?
My real identity is that I’m a servant of Krishna and my duty is to serve Krishna.
My current role as a father, mother, husband, wife, daughter, doctor, businessman, artist, etc. is the ‘service’ Krishna has given me. I have to perform all these ‘services’ but I’m none of these.
jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’
“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.”
— CC Madhya 20 108
As aspiring devotees we must drill it in our head that
Krishna is the controller and Krishna is the supreme enjoyer.
Hence, I am not the controller, I am not the enjoyer. (we should practice to remember this when we face challenging situations at home, and everywhere else in our life)
And I’m not even the doer. I can only desire. And Krishna may or may not fulfill all my desires, knowing well what is good for us at this stage.
More importantly, as an aspiring devotee, I should be very conscious of what are my desires ( at least my conscious desires, I have no control at our stage on my subconscious desires, but those too are are changing while I sincerely practice Krishna consciousness). I should daily read scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritāmṛta or vaishnava prayers and then note down on a piece of paper or a writing pad what should be my desires.
I should then practice to pray for these right kind of desires. It is a very nice sublime and enriching practice to speak and express such desires in front of our deities at home. It is an amazing experience. It also brings a lot of humility as we regularly (if not daily!) realise our helplessness as we fail despite our best intentions. It also acts as a catalyst for urgency and significance of mercy from above. We realise the minuteness of everything we thought will hold us good in this world, my intelligence, my willpower, even my good intentions…
I can also practice to be more sensitive and contemplate regularly what is happening around me (my circumstances) and then sincerely beg Srila Prabhupada and Krishna for guidance as to what I have to learn from changing, and challenging, circumstances in my life. This may help me learn without Krishna having to put a bomb under me to wake me up ! Become a conscious cooperator. And I should be ready to ‘walk the talk’ and face any kind of ‘music’ which may crop up to get me out of my present groove.
Chanting attentively, which means trying to chant Nama conscious and Nama pleasing rounds, will ensure that I am sincerely seeking shelter of the spiritual energy of the Lord.
And in the meantime, whatever be my present ashram or situation, I have to sincerely try hard to practice the culture of Love, and not culture of lust. Every single challenge is training ground for us to progress in Krishna consciousness. I have to aspire and live the ‘madhyam’ culture in my daily life.
All this would definitely be a big struggle but this struggle for Krishna will help me develop my ‘weakened’ spiritual muscles. And this struggle is a very sweet struggle because I’m struggling for Krishna. And there is reciprocation in this struggle, it is NOT one sided, with me acting merely like a puppet. It is a dynamic relationship. It takes two to tango, ashraya and vishaya, subject and the object.
The whole journey is like a child who is learning to walk. He falls down and trips and sometimes gets hurt too. But the child remains enthusiastic, determined and endeavors hard to learn how to walk. And His parents are there to help him. The child too has the confidence that they will protect him. Yet sometimes to a child it may look cruel that even as he is trying hard to walk, the child tries to hold on to a support, struggling to even stand properly, the parent pushes that support a little further away from him. In reality the parent do that because they know it will help the child to learn to walk and gain some confidence in his own ability, even at a slight risk of child falling down on the ground and getting hurt a bit, but they are always next to the child to protect him. As a grown up, the child will always look back and be nothing but grateful to his parents for all their patience to help him walk, realising that they had no selfish interest other than his own benefit.
Same is the case of the beautiful relationship that develops between an aspiring devotee and Krishna. And it is just the beginning of the sweetest relationship a soul can ever taste.
A Note of caution. All these words may help me’understand’ it all this a bit but I will ‘realise’ it only when I practice it in my daily life, this knowledge is for application. And the best time to start practicing is… TODAY!
( As we struggle to implement all the above steps in our life it might be good idea to take shelter of Srila Rupa Goswami (by praying to him, reading his books & going to his samadhi) and praying to Sri Govind Devji (picture above), our acharaya and Deity of abhideya respectively)
Here is a short video of one of the most sweet mangal artis I have ever attended, at Radha Govind Devji temple, Jaipur.
Radhe Govind… Bhajo Radhe Govind, Paar Lagaa Dey Govind,
Jay Sri Radhe Krishna, pyaare Krishna…
राधे गोविन्द भजो राधे गोविन्द पार लगादे गोविन्द !!
It is simply amazing what incredible result our simple prayers can produce. We need nothing but a sincere cry from our heart. Let me share a recent experience.
I was fortunate to get the association of a very senior devotee sometime back. After meeting this devotee a couple of times my heart longed to get some opportunity to serve this amazing devotee. There didn’t seem to be any chance for me as the needs of this particular devotee are very few and on top of that this devotee is being served very well by a set of senior devotees. Still, I would pray regularly for some chance of service.
Few days back, after some gap, I again got an opportunity to meet this devotee. Before leaving home I prayed with all my heart in front of my altar, begging Lord to grant me some opportunity to serve this amazing devotee. I have Jagannath and Gopal deities at home and I literally rubbed my nose on the ground praying to Them. The chances, as I mentioned, were bleak if not nil, still the desire in my heart to serve this devotee remained very strong, in fact it only grew stronger with the passage of time.
So I met this devotee and after our meeting was over, this devotee asked a senior devotee and myself to stay back for 5 minutes. As everyone left and the words came out of the mouth this devotee my jaw dropped! I was getting a service!! And that too a service which I could not even dream about! This devotee was observing my face and asked me why I suddenly have this strange look on my face. I shared how I have been praying to get some service and today I prayed with a little more heart and here I am receiving one! It was nothing short of a miracle for me. I was over the moon, I thought I had suddenly developed two wings!
The point I wish to emphasize here is that our prayers to Lord have huge potency. The power is not in us but it is in the prayer itself. So many times we hear devotees say ‘Prabhuji please pray for me’, the point is how much we are praying for our own self? We should not think that other devotee’s prayers have more power ( they have their own place) so let me request others where as Krishna will not hear my own prayers. This is not the case.
It doesn’t matter whether we are a neophyte or a senior devotee, initiated or not initiated, what matters is the sincerity of our prayer. Looking at my own self I would even dare add that even a contaminated heart is no disqualification, rather by the mercy of Gaura Nitai, this very disqualification has become our qualification to seek mercy from the Supreme Lord.
I will share another experience. During the recent Kartik, at one of the home programs I would stress the need to pray almost in every single class. Then after Kartik I requested all the devotees to share their experience of Kartik. One devotee, who attends all the classes diligently, shared how his chanting actually went down during this period, I was very surprised. Then I asked the Prabhuji did he pray before or even during the Kartik to help him chant better or help him overcome whatever challenge he was facing due to which he could not get time to chant, the reply … No.
This is our condition, rather this is my own condition, and not some just some ordinary condition but an unfortunate condition.
durdaivam idrisham ihajani nanuragaha
Lord, and His devotees, have given us so many ways to approach and seek help yet I am so unfortunate that I do not have time to pray and seek their intervention. Actually my condition is very fortunate because having come into Krishna consciousness there are so many means and methods but I am myself making my condition unfortunate by ignoring most of them.
As I looked back I could suddenly see so many means by which Krishna, and His devotees, are willing to help me but I am so unfortunate that I am completely blind to them. In my case, many a times, I am even uttering these prayers or verses but with no understanding or heart in it, this is my ‘durdaivam’.
I am copying some examples, which come to my mind right now, and the benedictions associated with them in Q&A format, along with the reference, from which everyone take benefit.
1. Do I have a desire to attain eternal residence in Vrindavan?
Daily recite Sri Vrinda-devi Ashtakam to Tulasi Maharani
Whoever hears or recites these eight prayers in glorification of Sri Vrinda Devi, becoming just like a bumble bee that is always anxious to taste the sweet nectarine lotus feet of the Divine Couple (the Lords of Vrindavan) – such a person verily attains eternal residence in Vrindavan. Having finally achieved the supreme goal of life, one thus remains situated in the ecstatic loving service of the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha- Madhava. — Vrindashtakam verse 9
2. Do I have a desire to realise what is Love of God?
Read chapter 23 of CC Madhya lila regularly.
Whoever hears these instructions given to Sanātana Gosvāmī by the Lord comes very soon to realize love of God, Kṛṣṇa. — verse 126 CC Madhya 23
3. Am I facing obstacles on the path of bhakti?
Take shelter of the six goswamis (and by sincerely reading Sri Shad Gosvamy Ashtaka daily).
ei chay gosai kori carana vandan
jaha hoite bighna-nas abhista-puran
(I offer my obeisances to the feet of these six Gosvamis. By offering them obeisances all obstacles to devotion are destroyed and spiritual desires are fulfilled)
4. Do I have a sincere desire to understand the confidential truth of Sri Caitnaya Mahaprabhu?
Read chapter 8 of CC madhya lila regularly.
The author requests every reader to hear these talks with faith and without argument. By studying them in this way, one will be able to understand the confidential truth of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
— verse 308 CC Madhya lila chapter 8
5. Do I even have a remote desire to one day serve Sri Radha Krishna directly?
Here is one clue:
These eleven excellent instructions to the mind grant all spiritual benedictions. A person who stays with the devotees, follows Shrila Rupa Gosvami, and with a sweet voice loudly sings these eleven verses will attain the matchless jewel of direct service to Shri Shri Radha-Krishna in the forest of Gokula. — verse 12 Sri Manah Shiksha
I am sure that there are hundreds of others benedictions given by our acharayas which may be relevant to us at different stages of our spiritual journey. What is really needed for us is to sincerely seek them, understand their essence by carefully studying them (by always taking shelter of a senior devotee) and finally serve these prayers by reciting them sincerely from our heart.
As an aspiring devotee it will be very beneficial for us if we inculcate a prayerful mood. It will produce miraculous results.
I will grateful if devotees can share their own experience of results of their own prayers to Krishna or having taken shelter of a particular prayer. I will be very happy to share it on this blog or keep it private, whatever way you may desire. Please mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
More than a year back, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj came to ISKCON Gurgaon centre and spoke a verse from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta which somehow slowly, yet firmly, got settled inside my heart. It describes top five limbs of devotional service. Maharaj instructed everyone to memorise this wonderful verse. The verse was
In this powerful verse from madhya lila Mahāprabhu describes the process of devotional service to Sri Sanatana Goswami. In the beginning He describes the truth about the living entity and the super excellence of devotional service. He then describes the uselessness of mental speculation and mystic yoga. In all circumstances the living entity is recommended to accept the path of devotional service as personally explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The speculative method of the so-called jñānīs is considered a waste of time, and that is proved in this chapter. An intelligent person should abandon the processes of karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa and mystic yoga. There are sixty-four items listed in regulative devotional service, and out of these sixty-four the last five are considered very important.
“These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.
( CC Madhya 22.129)
Prabhupada quotes the below verse from the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, in his purport –
aṅgānāṁ pañcakasyāsya pūrva-vilikhitasya ca
nikhila-śraiṣṭhya-bodhāya punar apy atra śaṁsanam
“The glorification of these five items [association with devotees, chanting the holy name and so on] is to make known the complete superiority of these five practices of devotional service.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continues to glorify these five limbs of devotional service to Srila Sanatana Goswami –
“‘With love and full faith one should worship the lotus feet of the Deity. One should taste the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and who are endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord. One should congregationally chant the holy name of the Lord and reside in Vṛndāvana.’
‘The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Kṛṣṇa simply by being a little connected with them.’
“When one is firmly fixed in devotional service, whether he executes one or many processes of devotional service, the waves of love of Godhead will awaken.
“There are many devotees who execute only one of the nine processes of devotional service. Nonetheless, they get ultimate success. Devotees like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa execute all nine items, and they also get ultimate success.
What is most amazing is if we analyse how Srila Prabhupada made the structure of ISKCON based on these five limbs of devotional service.
In one of his lectures HH Bhakti Charu Swami said ‘Prabhupada actually designed ISKCON in such a way that anyone who is engaged in Krishna consciousness in ISKCON is automatically performing these five activities. The first aspect is sadhu sangha, anyone who is in ISKCON is getting the association of the sadhus. Similarly anyone who is in ISKCON must attend the Bhagavatam class and at least read for some time every day, so this is how one is reading scriptures. Anyone who is in ISKCON worships the deity, although not all of us worship the deity directly but by attending mangala-arati and the morning program we automatically do that. Then comes residing in the holy dhama, all temples of Krishna are non-different from Goloka Vrindavana. Therefore, those who are living in the temple, or those whose consciousness is in the temple, are actually residing in Mathura. In this way Prabhupada has given us the simple process for Krishna consciousness.’
Now I realise why so many senior devotees always stress that we have to simply remain in ISKCON, serve the local temple, do our sadhna bhakti and we will surely make progress in our spiritual life.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is an ocean of transcendental mercy, and although the subject matter of bhakti-yoga is very confidential, He has nonetheless manifested it so nicely, even in this Age of Kali, the age of quarrel.