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Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu

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Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu
C 1486-1533 AD = 48 yrs
See also  Prophecy for Chaitanya

Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu was an ardent devotee of Shree Krishn. He was born as Vishwambhar Mishra, in Bangaal. He spread Bhaktivaad among Hindu. He is also known as Gauraang, meaning fair-complexioned. He established Keertan Prathaa (custom) in praise of Shree Krishn and founded the Gaudiyaa Vaishnavism. He propagated for wearing Yagyopaveet, to apply Teekaa mixed with water and Jaap of Vaasudev Mantra. He was born on Phaalgun Poornimaa.

Shree Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu appeared in West Bengal in the year 1486. He was a Vaishnav saint and social reformer in eastern India (specifically present-day Bangladesh and states of West Bengal, Bihaar, Jhaarkhand, Manipur, Assam, and Orissaa of India) in the 16th century. The followers of Gaudiyaa Vaishnavism believed him to be the full incarnation of Lord Krishn.

Shree Krishn Chaitanya was a notable proponent for the Vaishnav school of Bhakti Yog (meaning loving devotion to Krishn God) based on the philosophy of the Bhaagvat Puraan and Bhagvad Geetaa. Specifically he worshipped the forms of Raadhaa and Krishn and popularized the chanting of the "Hare Krishn" Mahaa Mantra and has composed Shikshaa Ashtakam in Sanskrit. His line of followers, known as Gaudiyaa Vaishnav, revere him as an Avataar of Krishn in the mood of Raadhaa Raanee who was prophesized to appear in the later verses of the Bhaagvat Puraan.

He was also sometimes referred to by the names Gauraa (Sanskrit word for golden one) due to his light skin complexion, and Nimaaee due to his being born underneath a Neem tree. There are numerous biographies available from the time giving details of Chaitanya's life, the most prominent ones being the Chaitanya Charitaamrit of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami and the earlier Chaitanya Bhaagavat of Vrindavana Dasa (both originally written in Banglaa but now widely available in English and other languages) and the Chaitanya Mangal, written by Lochana Dasa.

Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu lived for 47-48 years only. He spent the first 12 years of his life playing pranks just as Krishn had done in his childhood. For the next 12 years of his life he shut himself up in a room with a few friends and performed Naam Sankeertan (chanting the Lord's Names and praises). The next 12 years he visited various holy places. It was during these wanderings that he visited Sri Rangam in the south. And the last 12 years of his life was spent in solitude inside a cave at Puree, Udeesaa. His Guru was Jagadguru Vishwavijayi Keshav Kashmiri Bhattacharya who gave him the Shadaaksharee Mahaa Mantra "Hare Krishn Hare Krishn Krishn Krishn Hare Hare". Keshav Kashmiri Bhattacharya was a disciple of Nimbaarkaachaarya.

An Incident of Chaitanya's Life
Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu's two disciples Sanatana Goswami and Roop Goswami wrote many books. It is only through such disciples of Mahaaprabhu that we learn the life history of this great Avataar.

Mahaaprabhu's disciple Nityananda was deeply concerned about the way the world was moving. People were living with false values. There were no genuine Masters to guide them and the innocent and ignorant people were being caught in the net of quack Guru. His Master, Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu, had shut himself up in a room with a small circle of close friends and was doing Naam Sankeertan. Nityananda desired to bring to the Master's notice the need for guiding the ignorant who were being led astray with false values. He wished that his Guru would come out of closed doors and take a look at the world. But how can one advise the Guru? How can one instruct the Guru to do this or that? After much thinking he decided to carry out this work slyly.

One day, Nityananda informed Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu that a Saadhu had invited them for lunch. Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu accepted the invitation and went to the Saadhu's place along with Nityananda. When they reached the place he found a board bearing the name of the Saadhu and the Aashram. They went in and were received warmly by the Saadhu of the Aashram. A personal attendant of the Saadhu began to serve them food. Nityananda began to eat happily. He did not seem to be the least concerned about their host or the surroundings. The Saadhu asked them, "What would you like to have? Gangaa Teerth or Aanand (Gangaa water or Bliss)?"

Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu could not understand the words of the Saadhu. He turned to Nityananda and said, "Nitai, I understand the term 'Gangaa Teerth' but what does he mean by 'Aanand'?"
Nityananda said, "Oh, here in this place 'Aanand' refers to the company of women. And by 'Gangaa Teerth' he does not mean the holy Gangaa water but wine."
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was aghast to hear this explanation. "What!" He cried out. And taking hold of Nityananda's hand he rushed out. He ran away from that place as quickly as his legs would carry him. He stopped after he had gone a safe distance away. He was panting heavily and was seething with anger.

Calming him down, Nityananda next led him to his (Mahaprabhu's) disciple Adwaitaachaarya's home. Adwaitaachaarya also welcomed them with great joy and offered them a seat. Nityananda said to him, "Our Gurudev is hungry. Please offer him some food." Adwaitaachaarya said to him at once, "Oh, I have not yet performed my daily rites. In fact I complete my daily rites first, then only I cook food. It will take some time."

Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu jumped up from his seat and taking hold of Nityananda's hand walked out of Adwaitaachaarya's home too. The clever Nityananda drove him home. Now Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu realized what Nityananda was trying to convey to him. First, he had showed him how the world was being fooled by quack Guru who claimed to show the path of spirituality. Secondly, in the name of following scriptural injunctions men failed to recognize its end purpose. Adwaitaachaarya was so deeply drowned in the performance of his daily rites prescribed by the scriptures that he asked his Atithi, his Guru, who is God himself in human form, to wait for hours for offering him food.

Another Incident of Chaitanya's Life
Once Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu visited a big temple in South India, Ranganaath Temple, he went to see the Deity, and he saw that one Braahman was reading Bhagvad Geetaa there. And people were making mockery of him - “Oh, Braahman, How you are reading Bhagvad Geetaa?” Because they were his neighbors, they knew that this Braahman was illiterate, so how could he read Bhagvad Geetaa. So they were making mockery of him. But the Braahman did not care for them. He was taking the book in his hands and was reading it in his own way. Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu saw this. He came to the Braahman and asked him - “My dear Braahman, What you are reading?” First he could not understand his question, but then he said - "Prabhu, This persons is not joking with me; He is serious." Then he explained - "Prabhu, I am reading Bhagvad Geetaa. Unfortunately, I am illiterate. I do not know even the alphabets." "Then how are you reading Bhagvad Geetaa?" He replied - "My spiritual master knows that I am illiterate, but still, he has asked me to read Bhagvad Geetaa. What can I do? Because of his order I have taken this book. I am seeing it simply. I do not know how to read."

"Oh, that’s all right. You cannot read. But I see that you are crying while you are reading. How you are crying if you are not reading?”
“Yes, I am crying. Of course, there is cause for this."
“What is that cause?"
"As soon as I take this Bhagvad Geetaa in my hands, I remember Krishn, that Krishn is sitting as a chariot driver on Arjun's chariot and Arjun is hearing His preaching. I have heard the story. I know something of the instruction Krishn gave to Arjun, but I cannot read. So as soon as I take this book in my hands, this picture comes before my eyes and I simply think - "Oh, how nice is Krishn that He has become a chariot driver for His devotee. He is so great, still, He has accepted a menial service for His devotee." This gives me so much pleasure that I cry."
Chaitanya Mahaaprabhu embraced him and said - "Your Bhagvad Geetaa reading is perfect. You have taken its essence.”


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 04/24/13