Srila Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Maharaja
Mahaprabhu's conception of suddha bhakti, pure devotional service, is contained in the Caitanya-matta-manjusa of Srila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura:
bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam
ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita
srimad bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pum-artho mahan
sri-caitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah na parah
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is worshipped 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 Godhead 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."
Mahaprabhu's devotees feel that their only approach to Vrindavana, to Bhagavata, to prema-bhakti, to Gopi-bhava, is via the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. A Gaudiya Vaisnava feels and thinks that his only hope in approaching Radha Krsna is by surrender to the lotus feet of Guru and Gauranga. Surrender, saranagati, slavery to the infinite is the highest freedom. All Gaudiya Vaisnavas have accepted this principle as essential. Mahaprabhu is the infinite. Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami (Cc. Adi-lila 8.12) speaks strongly in this regard:
krpamaya caitanya na bhaje yei jana
sarvottama ha-ileo tare asure ganana
"One who does not show respect unto this merciful Lord, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, or does not worship Him should be considered a demon, even if he is very exalted in human society."
Actually the highest prema in Krsna-lila is found in the madhurya-lila, but categorically higher than the madhurya-lila is the audarya-lila, that is the wholesale distribution of the madhurya-prema. This madhurya-prema finds its highest expression in Srimati Radharani whose essential nature is Mahabhava. Gaura-lila is that audarya-lila, the wholesale distribution of Krsna prema. To the degree that we surrender to the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu, to that extent we will find ourselves in Vrindavana.
In Vrindavana, the highest position is not held by Krsna but by Radharani. The prayojana-tattva of the Gaudiya sampradaya is to engage in Her service. Sri Gauranga is the sole access to that plane of service.
vindeta bhaktim krta punya-rasih
tatha tathot-sarpati hrdya-kasmad
"One who is extremely fortunate may get the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. As much as one can devote his full attention to the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya, to that extent he will be able to taste the nectarine service of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani in Vrindavana. The more one engages in the service of Sri Caitanya, the more one finds oneself in Vrindavana, tasting the nectar of the service of Sri Radha" (Caitanya Candramrta 88)
Pure devotion, suddha bhakti, to Gauranga is best of all. Those who neglect to take shelter of Sri Gauranga are in essence destroying themselves.
dig dig vikatatapaso dhik ca yamena
dhigastu brahmaham vadana-pariphullan jadamatin
kimetan socamo visaya-rasa-mattan-narapasun
na kesancil-leso'py ahaha milito gaura-madhunah
"Woe to the smarta Brahmans, who blindly follow the Vedic rituals! To hell with those who unnecessarily practice harsh penance. Woe to those who try to control the mind and senses by following the eight fold yoga system. Woe to those who artificially practice brahmacharya and imagine that they have become liberated simply by saying aham brahmasmi, "I am God". Woe to those whose voices are filled with flowery words of dry speculation. They are intoxicated by the taste of mundane pleasure. Why should we lament for these animals in the guise of men? We lament because, alas ?they have not tasted even a tiny drop of the nectar from the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga." (Caitanya Candramrta 32)
is Sri Krsna Caitanya?
According to the Vedic pramana (or evidence, consisting of Sruti, Puranas, Mahabharata, and Srimad-Bhagavatam) Sri Caitanya is none other than Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has descended in Kali-yuga in the guise of a devotee. The Vedic scriptures describe the avatara of the Kali-yuga according to His qualities and characteristics, such as His complexion, His dress and His activities. Even His mother's name is mentioned specifically.
When Krsna appears in Kali-yuga He appears as the son of Saci (the Mother of the universe); He assumes the dress of a sannyasi, and His complexion is the color of molten gold. He propagates the chanting of Krsna Nama as the yuga-dharma (socio-religious function for the age) and His friends and associates accompany Him. This is confirmed in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (3.12):
vai purusah sattvasyesa pravarttakah
sunirmalam-imam praptimisano jyotiravyah
"The Personality of Godhead, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is brilliantly effulgent and imperishable like molten gold. He is the Supreme Controller, He controls the mode of goodness and through sankirtana bestows spiritual intelligence on the living beings. In the guise of a sannyasi, He is the source of spiritual purity and liberation. He is therefore known as Mahaprabhu."
The confirmation that the Lord will appear as the son of Mother Saci is found in the following verses from the Vayu Purana
kalau sankirtanarambhe bhavisyami saci-sutah
"In the age of Kali when the sankirtana movement is inaugurated, I shall descend as the son of Sacidevi."
and the Brahma-yamala:
dharadhame bhutva mad-bhakta-rupa-dhrk
mayayam ca bhavisyami kalau sankirtanagame
"Sometimes I personally appear on the surface of the world in the garb of a devotee. Specifically, I appear as the son of Saci in Kali-yuga to start the sankirtana movement."
Even though Krsna appears in every yuga, namely Satya, Treta, Dvarapa, and Kali, He is nonetheless called Triyuga (one who incarnates in three ages), because in Kali-yuga His appearance is hidden. In all other yugas the Lord is easily recognizable, but in Kali-yuga He is hidden. That is, in Kali-yuga the Supreme Lord appears in the form and mood of His devotee.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.38, Prahlada Maharaja addresses Krsna as Triyuga:
maha-purusa pasi yuganuvrttam
channah kalau yad-abhavas tri-yugo ëtha sattvam
"O Krsna, O protector of religious principles, 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."
In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 6.253-254) we find the following verses composed by the learned scholar Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya:
siksartham-ekah purusah puranah
krpambudhir-yas tam-aham prapadye
"Let me take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, who has descended in the form of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach us real knowledge, His devotional service, and detachment from whatever does not foster Krsna consciousness. He has descended because He is an ocean of transcendental mercy. Let me surrender unto His lotus feet."
nastam bhakti-yogam nijam yah
avirbhutas tasya padaravinde
gadham gadham liyatam citta-bhrngah
"Let my consciousness, which is like a honeybee, take shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has just now appeared as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach the ancient system of devotional service to Himself. This system had almost been lost due to the influence of time."
These verses by Sarvabhauma are perfectly in line with the statements of the revealed scriptures. In every yuga the Supreme Lord descends to establish the principles of religion. This is stated in Srimad Bhagavad-gita (4.7) as follows:
yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam-adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham
"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion, at that time I (Krsna) descend Myself."
Realization of Sri Caitanya as the Supreme Personality of Godhead is expressed thus in the Mundaka Upanisad (3.3):
pasyah pasyate rukma-varnam
kartaram isam purusam brahma-yonim
tada vidvan punya-pape vidhuya
niranjanah paramam samyamupaiti
"When one realizes the golden form of Sri Caitanya, 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."
Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.32) also confirms that in Kali-yuga Krsna will appear to spread the sankirtana movement along with His eternal associates. In the eleventh canto the sage Karabhajana Muni, while describing the avataras (incarnations) of the four yugas to King Nimi gives the following verse:
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi su-medhasah
"In the age of Kali, Krsna appears in a golden form, chanting the two syllables krs-na. He descends along with His weapons, limbs, energies, and eternal confidential associates. Those with intelligence worship Him with the sankirtana yajna."
Here it is described that the two syllables krs-na are always in the mouth of the Kali-yuga avatara. He always describes Krsna with great pleasure. These are the two meanings of the words "krsna-varna." Indeed, nothing but Krsna issues from His mouth. If someone tries to describe the Kali-yuga avatara as blackish then the use of the word tvisakrsnam immediately restricts him. That the avatara for Kali-yuga is not blackish indicates that His complexion is golden.
The fact that Krsna sometimes appears in a golden color is also confirmed by the astrologer Garga Muni (Bha: 10.8.13) who performed the name giving ceremony after the appearance of Krsna. Garga Muni informed Krsnaís father, Nanda Maharaja, as follows:
varnas trayo hy-asya grhnato ënuyugam tanuh
suklo raktastatha pita idanim krsnatam gatah
"This boy, Krsna, 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."
In the Visnu-sahasra-nama-stotra (92), the book containing one thousand names of Visnu, there is a description of Sri Caitanya as follows:
suvarna-varno hemango varangas-candanangadi
"Krsna appears as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and in His early pastimes He appears as a householder with a golden complexion (suvarna-varna and hemanga). His limbs are beautiful (varanga), and His body is smeared with the pulp of sandalwood, seems like molten gold (candanangadi)."
In his Namartha-sudhabhidha commentary on Visnu-sahasra-nama-stotra, Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana, remarking on this verse, asserts that Sri Caitanya is the Supreme Absolute Truth, according to the evidence of the Upanisads. He explains that suvarna-varno means "golden complexion" and that the word varanga means "exquisitely beautiful." He also quotes the Vedic injunction yada pasyah pasyate rukma-varnam kartaram isam purusam brahma-yonim. Rukma-varnam kartaram isam, he says, refers to the Supreme Absolute Truth as the Supreme Person having a complexion the color of molten gold. Purusam means the Supreme Person, and brahma-yonim indicates that He is also the Supreme Brahman.
The Dan-dharma verse, in chapter 149 of the Mahabharata, also describes the appearance of Krsna as Sri Caitanya:
sannyasa-krc chamah santo nistha-santi-parayanah
"When Krsna appears as Sri Caitanya (Sri 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). He accepts sannyasa (sannyasa-krt) and shows equanimity (sama). He is peaceful (santa). His mind is always fixed on Krsna and thus He is nistha, or fixed, in performing the great sacrifice of the holy name of Krsna. 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."
The eternality of Sri Caitanya is further confirmed in the Agni Purana:
dvija-srestha nityam pracchana-vigrahah
bhagavad-bhakta-rupena lokan raksami sarvada
"O best of the brahmanas, My distinguished form is eternal. In this way, with My own form hidden from ordinary sight I take the form of a devotee and appear among the people in general in order to establish and protect religious principles."
maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te
krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah
(C.c. Madhya-lila 19.53)
"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 (Krsna prema). We offer our respectful obeisances unto You."
And how is Sri Caitanya worshiped in Kali-yuga? Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.32 says yajnaih sankirtana-prayair, that He is worshiped by the performance of the sankirtana yajna or the congregational chanting of the holy name. This is the method of worship to be adopted by all classes of intelligent men and women, yajanti hi su-medhasah.
pranamo duhka-samanas tam namami harim param
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Hari, the congregational chanting of whose holy names destroys all sinful reactions, and the offering of obeisances unto whom relieves all material suffering. (Bha: 12.13.23)"
Srila Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja has said in commenting on this verse: "Papa means all anomalies, all undesirable things; in one word, sin. Material enjoyment and liberation are also included as anomalies; sinful activities. Why is liberation considered sinful? Because it is an abnormal condition. Our natural function is to serve Krsna, but we do not do that in salvation. Mere salvation does not include service to Krsna, so that is an abnormal position and therefore it is also a sin. To ignore our natural duty and stand aloof cannot but be sinful."
"The concluding verse of the Srimad-Bhagavatam says, ëKrsnaís holy name can relieve us from all undesirable sinfulness, all filthy characteristics and all miseries. Let us bow down to Him. Uttering this verse, the Srimad-Bhagavatam stops; that great treatise becomes silent. The last word in the Srimad-Bhagavatam is nama-sankirtana. The Srimad-Bhagavatam has given such great importance to chanting the holy name of Krsna, and Sri Caitanya developed it from there. Srila Vyasadeva, the compiler of Vedic literature, in his last publication took theism to that stage, and gave it to the public announcing, Chant the name of Krsna! Do this, nothing more is necessary. Take this!í This is the very conclusion of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the greatest spiritual gift of Vyasadeva: Chant the holy name of Krsna and begin your life in this dark age with the most broad and wide theistic conception."
Sankirtana as the most effective method of worship in Kali-yuga is also supported in the following verses:
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi su-medhasah
"In this age of Kali those who are intelligent perform the congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, worshipping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appears in this age along with His associates to inaugurate the sankirtana movement, or chanting of the holy names. That incarnation is yellowish in hue. (Bha: 11.5.32)
nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty-eva nasty-eva nasty-eva gatir-anyatha
"In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way. (Brhad-naradiya Purana)"
dosa-nidhe rajan asti hy-eko mahan gunah
kirtanad- eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet
"My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra (sankirtana) one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom. (Bha: 12.3.51)"
yad dhyayato visnum tretayam yajato makhaih
dvapare paricaryayam kalau tad- dhari-kirtanat
"Whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Visnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lordís lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. (Bha: 12.3.52)"
nama haite haya sarva-jagat-nistara
"In this age of Kali, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, is the incarnation of Lord Krsna. Simply by chanting the holy name, one associates with the Lord directly. Anyone who does this is certainly delivered." (C.c. Adi-lila 17.22)
sabhajayanty aya guna-jnah sara-bhaginah
yatra sankirtanenaiva sarva-svartho íbhilabhyate
"Those who are advanced and highly qualified and are interested in the essence of life, know the good qualities of Kali-yuga. Such people worship the age of Kali because in this age, simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can advance in spiritual knowledge and attain life's goal. (Bha: 11.5.36)"
janair visnuh pancaratrais tu kevalaih
kalau tu nama-matrena pujyate bhagavan harih
"In the Dvapara-yuga people should worship Lord Visnu only by the regulative principles of the Narada-pancaratra and other such authorized books. In the age of Kali, however, people should simply chant the holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Narayana-samhita)"
cari bhava-bhakti diya nacamu bhuvana
"I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age ó nama-sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy name. I shall make the world dance in ecstasy, realizing the four mellows of loving devotional service." (C.c. Adi-lila 3.19)
Sri Caitanya is Krsna, the maintainer of the universe (visvambhara), and He has appeared to show us how to perform sankirtana. His mood is just like that of a devotee ónot just any devotee, but He appears in the mood of His topmost devotee, Srimati Radharani.
krsna-pranaya-vikrtir- hladini saktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
caitanyakhyam praka?am adhuna tad-dvayam caikyam- aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna-svarupam
sri-radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva-
svadyo yenabhuta-madhurima kidrso va madiyah
saukhyam casya mad-anubhavatah kidrsam veti lobhat
tad-bhavadyah samajani saci-garbha-sindhau harinduh
"The loving affairs of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna are transcendental manifestations of the Lordís internal pleasure-giving potency (hladini). Although Radha and Krsna are one in Their identity, They separate Themselves eternally. Now these two transcendental identities have again united in the form of Sri Krsna Caitanya. I bow down to Him who has manifested Himself with the sentiment and complexion of Srimati Radharani although He is Krsna Himself.
"Desiring to understand the glory of Radharaniís love, the wonderful qualities in Him that She alone relishes through Her love for Him, and the happiness She feels when She realizes the sweetness of His love, the Supreme Lord Hari, richly endowed with Her emotions, appears from the womb of Srimati Sacidevi, as the moon appears from the ocean. (C.c. Adi-lila 1.5-6)"
In the Caitanya-caritamrta, Ramananda Raya confirms that indeed Sri Caitanya is non-different from that very Narayana (Visnu) who enlightened Brahma from within the heart:
tattva mora citte kaile prakasana
brahmake veda yena padaila narayana
antaryami isvarera ei riti haye
bahire na kahe, vastu prakase hrdaye
"You (Lord Caitanya) have manifested many transcendental truths in my heart. This is exactly the way Narayana educated Lord Brahma. The Supersoul within everyoneís heart speaks not externally but from within. He instructs the devotees in all respects, and that is His way of instruction." (C.c. Madhya-lila 8.264-5)
sada paribhava-ghnam abhista-doham
tirthaspadam siva-virinci-nutam saranyam
bhrtyarti-ham pranata-pala bhavabdhi-potam
vande maha-purusa te caranaravindam
"O Mahaprabhu, Your lotus feet are the highest object of meditation, for they not only destroy the pain of material existence, but they bestow the greatest fulfillment to all souls who take shelter beneath them. Your lotus feet even purify all saintly persons and holy places. Lord Siva and Lord Brahma aspire to take shelter beneath Your lotus feet. O Mahaprabhu, You give shelter to all who simply bow down before You. You relieve all the miseries of Your surrendered servants. In the grand ship of Your lotus feet, we can cross over this ocean of material miseries. O Mahaprabhu, I bow down before Your lotus feet. (Bha: 11.5.33)"
It is also the opinion of our acarya, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, that this verse directly indicates Sri Caitanya in that the word maha-purusa means Mahaprabhu Sri Caitanya, and the word dhyeyam means dimahi, which directly indicates the brahma-gayatri. The opinion of Srila Saraswati Thakura regarding Sri Caitanya as being the hidden subject of Srimad-Bhagavatam and brahma-gayatri, is also supported by previous acaryas such as Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.
In the following verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the revered Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura also draws the subject to Sri Caitanya, whereas the generally accepted explanation is that the verse applies to Lord Ramacandra. This opinion is further supported by the fact that this verse directly follows the two verses krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam and dhyeyam sada paribhava-ghnam abhista-doham, which clearly refer to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
dharmistha arya-vacasa yad agad aranyam
maya-mrgam dayitayepsitam- anvadhavad
vande maha-purusa te caranaravindam
"O Mahaprabhu, You gave up the Goddess of Fortune and Her great opulence, which is most difficult to abandon, and is sought after even by the Gods. In order to establish perfectly the principles of religion, You left for the forest to honor the Brahminís curse. To deliver the sinful souls who chase illusory pleasures, You search after them and award them Your devotional service. At the same time, You are engaged in search of Yourself, in search for Sri Krsna, Reality the Beautiful. (Bha: 11.5.34)"
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says, "tyaktva su-dustyaja-surepsita-rajya-laksmim, He left imperial prosperity which is hard to abandon. Generally this is found in the case of Lord Ramacandra, but here surepsita-rajya-laksmim means the valuable devotional company of Visnupriya-devi. To the casual observer this may not appear materially substantial, but the dedication that Visnupriya has shown in Her heart for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is greater than any imperial standard. And Mahaprabhu had to leave that behind. Such a standard of sacrifice and service is never found even among the great society of the Gods. For the sake of the public welfare, Sri Caitanya had to ignore the serving, loving attitude of Visnupriya."
Without devotion to Gauranga, one's knowledge of scripture is foolish nonsense.
visvam yadi caitanyam-isvaram
na viduh sarva-sastra-jna hyapi bhramyante te janah
"Great scholars of the scriptures who do not accept Lord Gauranga as the Supreme Personality of Godhead are forced to wander aimlessly throughout this universe of dead matter. Their so-called knowledge of the scriptures will be useless to them. Birth after birth, they will wander from one planet to the next propelled by their pious and impious acts." (Caitanya Candramrta 37)
Higher than Gauranga are Gauranga's devotees.
vimukti-padavi tavan na tikti-bhavet
tavac-capi visrnkhalatvvamayate no loka-veda-sthitih
tavac-chastra-vidam mithah kalakalo nana-bahir-vartmastu
sri-caitanya-padambuja-priyajano yavan na drg gocarah
As long as one has not seen a pure devotee of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, he will be engaged in tasting bitter talks about the impersonal path of liberation. As long as one has not seen a devotee of Lord Gauranga, he will be bound by social and Vedic convention, blindly following formalities and traditions without understanding their purpose. As long as one never sees one of the bee-like devotees addicted to drinking the nectar from the lotus feet of Sri Gauranga, he will be forced to walk in endless circles on the labyrinthine paths of dry Vedic scholarship, wasting valuable time in useless discussions on futile religious practices." (Caitanya Candramrta 19)
Gaura Haribol! Gaura Haribol!
Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Maharaja