Although the cities of Sridhama Mayapura and Calcutta, India, lie only fifty miles from each other, they are, quite literally, worlds apart. Calcutta, like any other large industrialized city, is fast-paced, crowded and noisy. By contrast, Sridhama Mayapura is peaceful and serene, for it is a transcendental tirtha, or holy place.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
It was at Sridhama Mayapura, almost five hundred years ago, that the Supreme Lord descended to this world as the great teacher Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu to propagate the chanting of the maha-mantra (the Great Chanting for Deliverance): Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By chanting Hare Krsna, one can counteract the miseries of material life and quickly be elevated to the highest spiritual platform—prema-bhakti (love of God). Indeed, Lord Caitanya taught that by the congregational chanting of these holy names of God, the people of the world can begin a new era of peace, brotherhood and prosperity. And by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His prediction that the holy name of Krsna would one day be sung in every town and village in the world is now being fulfilled.
The work of broadcasting the transcendental message of Lord Caitanya is today being carried out by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Under the direction of its founder-acarya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ISKCON, over the past eight years, has established centers in cities throughout Europe, America, Africa and Asia. Pictured below is Sri Mayapura-candrodaya Mandira, the ISKCON World Center at Sridhama Mayapura, where ISKCON devotees from all over the world gather each year to celebrate the appearance day of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This year, the auspicious anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance will be observed on March 27. Once again, devotees from every corner of the globe will join in Mayapura for a Krsna conscious festival, beginning in mid-March, to glorify Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His holy abode Sridhama Mayapura, and His pure devotee Srila Prabhupada.
If you cannot join us in India for this wonderful celebration, we invite you to take part in the festival through the pages of Back to Godhead. Sridhama Mayapura is a spiritual place of pilgrimage; and on the transcendental level, hearing about such a holy place is practically as good as being there.
An excerpt from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta,
Four hundred years ago, by the request of the greatest transcendentalists of his time, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami wrote Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, an account of the teachings and activities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the Supreme Lord Himself, Sri Krsna, in the form of His own pure devotee. Although Krsnadasa Kaviraja was so advanced in age that the task appeared almost impossible, he eventually composed this work, in three sections, describing the early, middle and final pastimes of Sri Caitanya and His essential instructions to His most intimate disciples.
The first section, entitled "Adi-lila" describes the first twenty-four years of Lord Caitanya's life, including His childhood and household activities, as well as the all-important philosophical discussions He held with the greatest scholars of His time, after He entered the renounced order of life.
Lord Krsna, in His Bhagavad-gita, declares that His mission is to annihilate the demoniac and establish the pious; and, accordingly, accounts of the activities of the Godhead's incarnations tell of numerous contests between the Supreme Lord and great atheistic personalities. But Lord Caitanya, the golden avatara, is called maha-vadanya-avatara, or the most munificent incarnation of Godhead, for He settled such conflicts by congregational chanting and persuasive argument and thereby blessed everyone He met with love of Godhead. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, therefore, not only relates the most confidential pastimes of the golden avatara, but also fully explicates His sublime devotional philosophy.
The Ninth Chapter of the Adi-lila, or first section, describes the Caitanya tree, a most wonderful species, which bears the fruit of genuine self-realization, or love of Godhead. By understanding this tree, one can realize the continuing and ever-increasing potency of the Krsna consciousness movement. The trunk of this tree is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and from Him, in unbroken succession, stem various branches that gradually span the entire globe in the form of the Krsna consciousness movement. One who hears of this transcendental tree will certainly have the seeds of devotional love of Godhead implanted within his heart and will appreciate the divine potency of the Krsna consciousness movement.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has translated Sri Caitanya-caritamrta into English with full explanations for the purport of each verse. Here, in the following excerpt from this work, His Divine Grace explains how the distribution of the fruits of the Caitanya tree is the ultimate benediction for the world, and, as well, he reveals the compass of the unlimited mercy of the Personality of Godhead.
Synonyms: etavat—up to this; janma—of birth; saphalyam—perfection; dehinam—of every living being; iha—in this world; dehisu—toward those who are embodied; pranaih—by life; arthaih—by wealth; dhiya—by intelligence; vaca—by words; sreyah—eternal good fortune; acaranam—acting practically; sada—always.
Translation: "It is the duty of every living being to perform welfare activities for the benefit of others with his life, wealth, intelligence and words."
Purport: There are two kinds of general activities—sreyas, or activities which are ultimately beneficial and auspicious, and preyas, or those which are immediately beneficial and auspicious. For example, children are very fond of playing. They don't want to go to school to receive an education, and they think that to play all day and night and enjoy with their friends is the aim of life. Even in the transcendental life of Lord Krsna, we find that when He was a child He was very fond of playing with His friends of the same age, the cowherd boys. He would not even go home to take His dinner. Mother Yasoda would have to come out to induce Him to come home. Thus it is a child's nature to engage all day and night in playing, not caring even for his health and other important concerns. This is an example of preyas, or immediately beneficial activities, but there are also sreyas, or activities which are ultimately auspicious. According to Vedic civilization, a human being must be God conscious. He should understand what God is, what this material world is, who he is and what their interrelationships are. This is called sreyas, or ultimately auspicious activity.
In this verse, which is quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is said that one should be interested in sreyas. To achieve the ultimate goal of sreyas, or good fortune, one should engage everything, including his life, wealth and words, not only for himself but for others also. However, unless one is interested in sreyas in his own life, he cannot preach of sreyas for the benefit of others.
This verse cited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu applies to human beings, not to animals. As indicated in the previous verse by the words manusya-janma, these injunctions are for human beings. Unfortunately, human beings, although they have the bodies of men, are becoming less than animals in their behavior. This is the fault of modern education. Modern educators do not know the aim of human life; they are simply concerned with how to develop the economic condition of their countries or of human society. This is also necessary; the Vedic civilization considers all aspects of human life, including dharma (religion), artha (economic development), kama (sense gratification) and moksa (liberation). But humanity's first concern should be religion. To be religious, one must abide by the orders of God, but unfortunately people in this age have rejected religion, and they are busy in economic development. Therefore they will adopt any means to get money. For economic development one does not need to get money by hook or by crook; one needs only sufficient money to maintain his body and soul. However, because modern economic development is going on with no religious background, people have become lusty, greedy and mad after money. They are simply developing the qualities of rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance), neglecting the other quality of nature, sattva (goodness), and the brahminical qualifications. Therefore the entire society is in chaos.
The Bhagavatam says that it is the duty of an advanced human being to act in such a way as to facilitate human society's attainment of the ultimate goal of life. There is a similar verse in the Visnu Purana, Part Three, Chapter Twelve, verse 45, which is quoted in this chapter of Caitanya-caritamrta as verse 43.
praninam upakaraya yad eveha paratra ca
Synonyms: praninam—of all living entities; upakaraya—for the benefit; yat—whichever; eva—certainly; iha—in this world or in this life; paratra—in the next life; ca—and; karmana—by work; manasa—by the mind; vaca—by words; tat—that; eva—certainly; matiman—an intelligent man; bhajet—must act.
Translation: "By his work, thoughts and words, an intelligent man must perform actions which will be beneficial for all living entities in this life and in the next."
Purport: Unfortunately, people in general do not know what is to take place in the next life. To prepare oneself for his next life is common sense, and it is a principle of the Vedic civilization, but presently people throughout the world do not believe in a next life. Even influential professors and other educators say that as soon as the body is finished, everything is finished. This atheistic philosophy is killing human civilization. People are irresponsibly performing all sorts of sinful activities, and thus the privilege of the human life is being taken away by the educational propaganda of the so-called leaders. Actually it is a fact that this life is meant for preparation for the next life; by evolution one has come through many species or forms, and this human form of life is an opportunity to promote oneself to a better life. This is explained in Bhagavad-gita:
yanti deva-vrata devan
"Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me." (Bg. 9.25) Therefore, one may promote himself to the higher planetary systems, which are the residence of the demigods, one can promote himself to the Pitrloka, one can remain on earth, or one can also go back home, back to Godhead. This is further confirmed by Bhagavad-gita (4.9): tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so 'rjuna. After giving up the body, one who knows Krsna in truth does not come back again to this world to accept a material body, but he goes back home, back to Godhead. This knowledge is in the sastras, and people should be given the opportunity to understand it. Even if one is not able to go back to Godhead in one life, the Vedic civilization at least gives one the opportunity to be promoted to the higher planetary systems where the demigods live and not glide down again to animal life. At present, people do not understand this knowledge, although it constitutes a great science, for they are uneducated and trained not to accept it. This is the horrible condition of modern human society. As such, the Krsna consciousness movement is the only hope to direct the attention of intelligent men to a greater benefit in life.
Synonyms: mali—gardener; manusya—man; amara—My; nahi—there Is none; rajya—kingdom; dhana—wealth; phala—fruit; phula—flowers; diya—giving; kari'—do; punya—piety; uparjana—achievement.
Translation: "I am merely a gardener. I have neither a kingdom nor very great riches. I simply have some fruits and flowers that I wish to utilize to achieve piety in My life."
Purport: In performing welfare activities for human society, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu presents Himself as being not very rich, thus indicating that a man need not be rich or opulent to act for the welfare of humanity. Sometimes rich men are very proud that they can perform beneficial activities for human society whereas others cannot. A practical example is that when there is a scarcity of food in India on account of meager rainfall, some members of the richer class very proudly distribute foodstuffs, making huge arrangements with the help of the government, as if merely by such activities people will be benefited. But suppose there were no food grains. How would the rich men distribute food? Production of grains is completely in the hands of God. If there were no rain, there would be no grains, and these so-called rich men would be unable to distribute grains to the people.
The real purpose of life, therefore, is to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Rupa Gosvami describes in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu that devotional service is so exalted that it is beneficial and auspicious for every man. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also declared that to propagate the bhakti cult of devotional service in human society, one does not need to be very rich. Anyone can do it and thus render the highest benefit to humanity if he knows the art. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu takes the part of a gardener because although a gardener is naturally not a very rich man, he has some fruits and flowers. Any man can collect some fruits and flowers and satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead in devotional service, as recommended in Bhagavad-gita:
patram puspam phalam toyam
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." (Bg. 9.26) One cannot satisfy the Supreme Lord by his riches, wealth or opulent position, but anyone can collect a little fruit or flower and offer it to the Lord. The Lord says that if one brings such an offering in devotion, He will accept it and eat it. When Krsna eats, the entire world becomes satisfied. There is the story in the Mahabharata illustrating how by Krsna's eating, the 60,000 disciples of Durvasa Muni were all satisfied. Therefore it is a fact that if by our life (pranaih), by our wealth (arthaih), by our intelligence (dhiya) or by our words (vaca) we can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead, naturally the entire world will become happy. Therefore our main duty is to satisfy the Supreme Godhead by our actions, our money and our words. This is very simple. Even if one does not have money, he can preach the Hare Krsna mantra to everyone. One can go everywhere, to every home, and request everyone to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. Thus the entire world situation will become very happy and peaceful.
Synonyms: mali hana—although I am the gardener; vrksa ha-ilan—I am also the tree; ei ta'—this is; icchate—by My will; sarva-pranira—of all living entities; upakara—welfare; haya—there is; vrksa—the tree; haite—from.
Translation: "Although I am acting as a gardener, I also want to be the tree, for thus I can bestow benefit upon all."
Purport: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the most benevolent personality in human society because His only desire is to make people happy. His sankirtana movement is especially meant for the purpose of making people happy. He wanted to become the tree Himself because a tree is supposed to be the most benevolent living entity. In the following verse, which is from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.22.33), Krsna Himself highly praised the existence of a tree.
aho esam varam janma
Synonyms: aho—oh, just see; esam—of these trees; varam—superior; janma—birth; sarva—all; prani—living entities; upajivinam—one who provides maintenance; su-janasya iva—like the great personalities; yesam—from whose; vai—certainly; vimukhah—disappointed; yanti—goes away; na—never; arthinah—one who is asking for something.
Translation: "Just see how these trees are maintaining every living entity! Their birth is successful. Their behavior is just like that of great personalities, for anyone who asks anything from a tree never goes away disappointed."
Purport: According to Vedic civilization, ksatriyas are considered to be great personalities because if anyone goes to a ksatriya king to ask for charity, the king will never refuse. The trees are compared to those noble ksatriyas because everyone derives all kinds of benefits from them—some people take fruit, others take flowers, others take leaves, others take twigs, and others even cut the tree, and yet the tree gives to everyone without hesitation.
Unnecessarily cutting trees without consideration is another example of human debauchery. The paper industry cuts many hundreds and thousands of trees for its mills, and with the paper so much rubbish literature is published for the whimsical satisfaction of human society. Unfortunately, although these industrialists are now happy in this life by dint of their industrial development, they do not know that they will incur the responsibility for killing these living entities who are in the forms of trees. A needy person may derive many advantages from trees and also from many animals, but in modern civilization people have become so ungrateful that they exploit the trees and animals and kill them. These are some of the sinful activities of modern civilization.
This verse, quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam, was spoken by Lord Krsna to His friends when He was taking rest underneath a tree after His pastimes of stealing the clothes of the gopis (vastra-harana-lila). By quoting this verse, Caitanya Mahaprabhu teaches us that we should be tolerant and beneficial like trees, which give everything to the needy persons who come underneath them.
by His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was also known as Visvambhara ("Lord of the universe"), appeared in Bengal, India, 489 years ago and taught love of Krsna. The Vedic scriptures, such as the Vedas, Upanisads, Vedanta-sutra and especially Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, all reveal Krsna to be the Supreme Truth and the dearmost friend of every living being. Lord Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita "Give up all other forms of religion and surrender to Me. I shall then protect you." Lord Caitanya, therefore, urged everyone He met, "Surrender to Krsna. His holy name is the only shelter."
Because thousands of years had passed since Krsna's appearance on earth and because people had not fully understood Krsna from Bhagavad-gita, Lord Caitanya, as Krsna's dearmost servant, showed everyone exactly how to render loving service to Krsna, just according to Krsna's own words as revealed in Vedic literature. These Vedic writings were compiled 5,000 years ago, but when Lord Caitanya came He created a great revival of love for Krsna. Most importantly, Lord Caitanya delivered the chanting of Krsna's holy names: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Sri Krsna Caitanya, as He was also called, did not invent the chanting of Hare Krsna; He took it directly from the Vedic scriptures. The Brhan-naradiya Purana says: harer nama harer nama harer nama eva kevalam/ kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha: "Chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name! In the Kali-yuga [the Age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy] there is no other way, no other way, no other way." The Kalisantarana Upanisad also says that these sixteen words in thirty-two syllables—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—are the most effective means for counteracting the contaminating effects of Kali-yuga.
According to the Vedic scriptures, the chanting is the only process perfectly suitable for the age in which Lord Caitanya appeared, Kali-yuga, a spiritually fallen age. Kali-yuga is still going on, and we shall feel its disruptive influence more and more. Therefore Lord Caitanya gave a great impetus to the Krsna consciousness movement by inaugurating sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy names. Indeed, He set in motion, by His own example, a movement that would spread all over the world as the greatest benediction for the people of today. Almost five hundred years ago, He Himself foretold, "The chanting of the names of Krsna will be heard in every town and village of the world."
We know a great deal about the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya because His immediate followers wrote many books, all authoritatively based on the Vedic scriptures. His chief literary followers were known as the six Gosvamis. Among them, Jiva, Sanatana and Rupa especially wrote dozens of scholarly spiritual books proving bhakti, or love of Krsna, to be the ultimate goal of the Vedas. Krsnadasa Kaviraja and Vrndavana dasa Thakura also wrote authoritative biographies of Sri Krsna Caitanya, and many of their learned followers have contributed elaborations and expositions upon the philosophy of Lord Caitanya, thus establishing the basis for a complete and consistent spiritual movement.
As we observe the 489th anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance, let us consider His significance for the people of the world today. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, in his biography Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, describes the events leading to Sri Caitanya's appearance. We shall try to relate them here, for they tell us much about His mission.
"To fulfill a particular desire within His mind, Lord Krsna, Vrajendra-kumara, decided to descend on this planet after mature contemplation." Krsnadasa Kaviraja plainly declares that Lord Caitanya is Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Caitanya's advent is also mentioned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
"In this Age of Kali, people endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates, by performing sankirtana-yajna [congregational chanting of Hare Krsna]." (Bhag. 11.5.32) This verse also describes that in the Age of Kali, Krsna will appear, but His complexion will be golden. When Lord Caitanya taught His disciple Sanatana how to detect a genuine incarnation of God, He pointed out that the activities and bodily hues of the incarnations are described in the scriptures. Since the time of Lord Caitanya, many men have posed as Gods or avataras, collected money and attracted followers, but such imposters never fool the experts who know the transcendental science.
The scriptures indicate that the incarnation for Kali-yuga is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is also called Gauranga or Gaurasundara (Gaura means "gold") because of His golden hue. His complexion is golden, and His activities engage everyone in chanting Hare Krsna. To enact His mission, He always appears with His associates. Thus Lord Caitanya is most often worshiped in His form of panca-tattva, in which He is accompanied by His immediate expansions Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara and Srivasa.
Caitanya-caritamrta describes that before Lord Krsna took birth as Lord Caitanya, He requested many of His devotees to precede Him. "Lord Krsna first allowed His family of superiors to descend on the earth." (Cc. Adi 13.53) These included Sri Sacidevi and Jagannatha Misra, who were to appear as His mother and father; Madhavendra Puri, who was to appear as a great spiritual master in the line Sri Caitanya would follow; and Sri Advaita, Srivasa and Nityananda, three of the Lord's principal associates who would appear as His elders in His pastimes. He also sent Haridasa Thakura, who, despite his birth in a Moslem family, would become the namacarya, or master of the holy name, celebrated for chanting 300,000 names of Krsna daily. In an important book called Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, Kavi-karnapura has ascertained that the associates or family members of Lord Krsna in Krsna's pastimes 5,000 years ago in Vrndavana reappeared in different roles in the pastimes of Lord Caitanya. Thus Jagannatha Misra and Sacidevi were formerly Nanda and Yasoda, the mother and father of Krsna; Nityananda was formerly Krsna's brother, Balarama; and Advaita Acarya was an incarnation of Krsna's Visnu expansion from whom all the universes emanate at the time of universal creation.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta describes the birthplace of Lord Gaurasundara before the Lord's advent: "Before the appearance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, all the devotees of Navadvipa used to gather in the house of Advaita Acarya. In these meetings of devotees, Advaita Acarya used to recite Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, decrying the paths of philosophical speculation and fruitive activity and establishing the superexcellence of devotional service." (Cc. Adi-lila, 13.63-4)
Krsnadasa Kaviraja further mentions that devotional service to Lord Krsna is the actual conclusion of the Vedic scriptures. Although different sections of the Vedic literature teach different paths, staunch devotees of Lord Krsna reject other processes, such as philosophical speculation, yogic gymnastics and unnecessary austerities and rituals, for these are meant only to raise people gradually to devotional service. Krsna says at the end of His teachings in Bhagavad-gita, "Give up all other varieties of religion and just surrender to Me." Devotees, therefore, are the topmost transcendentalists and so need not engage in any other process than devotional service. If one takes to another process but doesn't recognize that love of the Supreme Person is the supreme goal, he cannot be accepted as a genuine transcendentalist, and his practice of yoga or meditation is a waste of time.
It is stated that the associates who preceded Lord Caitanya were reading Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam exclusively. One who doesn't know the conclusion may search through many literatures and philosophies inquiring for the ultimate. These two Vedic literatures, however, hold the cream of all the Vedas. Sridhara Svami, a great Vedic acarya (spiritual master), wrote, "The Gita which issued from the lotus-like lips of Padmanabha Himself [Lord Krsna], must be well assimilated; what is the use of a multiplicity of other scriptures?" Lord Caitanya Himself prescribed reading Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita as primary because although the Vedas and Upanisads only hint at the Absolute Truth, that Truth is fully developed in the Gita, which records the spoken words of Krsna, and Srimad-Bhagavatam, which contains narratives about Krsna and His pure devotees.
The associates of Lord Caitanya are described as Vaisnavas, which means devotees of the Absolute Truth in His aspect as the Supreme Person. Caitanya-caritamrta continues: "In the house of Advaita Acarya, all the Vaisnavas took pleasure in always talking of Krsna, always worshiping Krsna and always chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra." (Cc. Adi-lila 13.66) From this we can understand that the devotees who gathered at Advaita Acarya's house were fully absorbed in Krsna consciousness, either through talking of Krsna on the basis of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, worshiping the Lord in His form as the Deity, or chanting in kirtana (singing Hare Krsna) with musical instruments. Because such Vaisnavas understand that there is nothing but Krsna and His energy, they never forget Krsna for a moment, and they always engage their senses in some kind of devotional service to the Supreme Lord.
Caitanya-caritamrta goes on to cite the predominant mood of the assembled Vaisnavas: "But Sri Advaita Acarya Prabhu felt pained to see all the people without Krsna consciousness, simply merging in material sense enjoyment." (Cc. Adi-lila 13.67) Such is the vision of all pure devotees. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) used to say, "There is no scarcity of anything within this world. The only item scarce is Krsna consciousness." The devotee can see that for want of God consciousness people are suffering terribly. In ignorance, people think they can be happy without cultivating spiritual life, and so they absorb themselves in plans and activities just to satisfy their senses. Yet this only causes suffering, all over the world. Food shortages, fuel shortages, war and poverty are all directly traceable to humanity's forgetfulness of its relationship to Krsna.
Material nature runs by strict laws, and Krsna consciousness is a science of how to live in harmony with the material and spiritual nature by acting always in loving relation to the Supreme Lord, who is in fact the supreme proprietor. Man acts as if no one were in charge but him, and so the masses of people are misled by capitalism, communism, consumerism, voidism and so many other godless "isms" Man breaks nature's laws and suffers from the crises that result. A devotee onlooker is very much aggrieved to see this.
The same materialistic tendencies plagued Navadvipa 500 years ago, and so Advaita Acarya expressed His sorrow for the people. The Vaisnavas at His home were free of all anxiety themselves because of their participation in krsna-katha (topics about Krsna), but a Vaisnava is unhappy to see others unhappy. Another great Vaisnava, Prahlada Maharaja, whose life is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam, once prayed: "Saintly persons and ascetics generally travel alone, concerned only with their own salvation, but I am not like them. I do not want to go back to the kingdom of God alone, leaving all these bewildered people who have no other shelter but Your Lordship. Unless they can come with me, I shall not go back to Godhead." A Vaisnava feels free of all difficulty, but he also feels compassion for those who have been duped into accepting a false civilization that will cause them only suffering in this life and the next.
"Vaisnava" is not a sectarian designation. Lord Jesus Christ and Lord Mohammed were also powerful Vaisnava personalities who worked to bring humanity to love of God. Only the presence of such Vaisnavas can save human society. Lord Caitanya was to appear in a community of such Vaisnavas, but with one difference: He Himself was the Supreme Lord, the object of the Vaisnavas' prayers. Thus even though appearing as a devotee, He would be able to deliver love of Krsna directly.
How Lord Caitanya descended at the specific request of Advaita Acarya is described in Caitanya-caritamrta: "Seeing the condition of the world, Sri Advaita Acarya began to think seriously of how all these people could be delivered from the clutches of maya (material illusion). Srila Advaita Prabhu thought: 'If Krsna Himself appears to distribute the cult of devotional service, then only will liberation be possible for all people: " (Cc. Adi-lila 13.68-69) His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comments on this prayer: "Just as a condemned person can be relieved by a special favor of the chief executive head, the president or king, so the condemned people of this Kali-yuga can be delivered only by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself or a person empowered especially for this purpose. Srila Advaita Acarya Prabhu desired that the Supreme Personality Himself advent to deliver the fallen souls of this age." Advaita Acarya thus promised to cause Lord Krsna to descend, and He began to worship the Supreme Lord with offerings of tulasi leaves and water of the Ganges. "By loud cries He invited Krsna to appear," writes Krsnadasa Kaviraja, "and this repeated invitation attracted Lord Krsna to descend."
Just as the prayers of Lord Brahma caused Lord Krsna to descend in Vrndavana, so the prayers of Krsna's pure devotee, Advaita Acarya, caused Him to come again as Lord Caitanya. Of course, the Supreme Lord comes at His own will for His own mission, as stated in Bhagavad-gita: "Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practices, O Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and annihilate the miscreants, as well as to establish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium." (Bg. 4.7-8) According to these verses, Lord Krsna appears specifically to mitigate the anxieties of pure devotees who are eager to see Him in His pastimes. Lord Krsna says that He appears in every millennium. This indicates that He also incarnates in the Age of Kali. Thus Lord Caitanya, as the incarnation of Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, is described secretly, indirectly, in the confidential parts of revealed scriptures such as the Upanisads, Mahabharata and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The devotees of Lord Krsna are greatly attracted by the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya because instead of killing the miscreants, the Lord, through this movement, delivers them by His causeless mercy. When Rupa Gosvami first met Lord Caitanya, Rupa Gosvami therefore offered this prayer: "I offer You my most humble obeisances, for You are the most munificent avatara of Krsna, offering what was never offered before, even by Krsna Himself—pure love of Krsna." These are some of the special features of Sri Krsna Caitanya.
Lord Caitanya's appearing as the son of Sacidevi and Jagannatha Misra cannot be compared to the birth of an ordinary conditioned soul. It is comparable only to Krsna's appearance as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Before the birth of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sacidevi, the wife of Jagannatha Misra, gave birth to eight daughters one after another, but just after their birth they died. Unhappy at the death of his children, and desiring a son, Jagannatha Misra worshiped the lotus feet of Lord Visnu. After this, Sacidevi gave birth to a highly qualified son, whom they named Visvarupa. Greatly pleased with their son, the husband and wife especially began to serve the feet of the Supreme Lord.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta describes elaborately what happened next: "In the month of January in the year 1407 of the Saka Era [A.D. 1486], Lord Krsna entered the bodies of both Jagannatha Misra and Saci. Jagannatha Misra said to Sacimata: 'I see wonderful things! Your body is effulgent, and it appears as if the goddess of fortune were now staying personally in my home. Anywhere and everywhere I go, all people offer me respect. Even without my asking, they voluntarily give me riches, clothing and paddy.'
"Sacimata told her husband: 'I also see wonderfully brilliant human beings appearing in outer space, as if offering prayers.'
"Jagannatha Misra then replied: 'In a dream I saw the effulgent abode of the Lord enter my heart. From my heart it entered your heart. I therefore understand that a great personality will soon take birth."' (Cc. Adi-lila 13.80-5) Sacidevi did not become pregnant as an ordinary woman becomes pregnant because of sensual indulgence. But exactly as Krsna appeared in the heart of Devaki through the heart of Vasudeva, so Lord Caitanya appeared in the heart of Sacidevi through the heart of Jagannatha Misra.
While Sacidevi was pregnant, Nilambara Cakravarti (the grandfather of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu) astrologically calculated that in that month, at an auspicious moment, the child would be born. At the time of Lord Caitanya's appearance, a wonderful natural phenomenon occurred—a full lunar eclipse. Krsnadasa Kaviraja writes, "When the spotless moon of Caitanya Mahaprabhu became visible, what would be the need for a moon full of black spots on its body?"
In India all the followers of the Vedic scriptures customarily bathe in the Ganges or the sea as soon as there is a lunar or solar eclipse. Strict followers of the Vedic religion stand in the water throughout the eclipse and chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. At the time of Lord Caitanya's birth such a lunar eclipse took place, and naturally the people standing in the water were chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Krsnadasa Kaviraja relates that not only were the followers of the Vedas chanting Hare Krsna, but the Mohammedans and others joined them, imitating the chanting. Thus Hindus and Moslems joined together in chanting the holy name of the Lord when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared. It was miraculously appropriate that He who throughout His life would induce everyone to chant Hare Krsna appeared in the world at a moment when everyone was joyfully chanting because of the lunar eclipse, Certainly it signaled the advent of a great leader of sankirtana.
Krsnadasa Kaviraja relates that the whole world was induced to blissful chanting of the holy names by the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. "All the ten directions became jubilant, as did the waves of the rivers. Moreover, all beings, moving and nonmoving, were overwhelmed with transcendental bliss... At that time Sri Advaita Acarya Prabhu, in His own house at Santipura, was dancing in a pleasing mood. Taking Haridasa Thakura with Him, He danced and loudly chanted Hare Krsna. But why they were dancing no one could understand... In this way all the devotees, wherever they were situated, in every city and every country, danced, performed sankirtana, and gave charity by mental strength on the plea of the lunar eclipse, their minds overwhelmed with joy." (Cc. Adi-lila 13.97, 99, 103)
After the Lord's appearance, respectable ladies of the neighborhood came to visit the newly born child, whose bodily color resembled shining gold. Among them, Sitadevi, who was Advaita Acarya's wife and a recognized devotee, was astonished when she saw Visvambhara, for she could appreciate that except for a difference in color, the child was directly Krsna Himself.
Caitanya-caritamrta states, "Lord Caitanya is very merciful to anyone who hears this narration of His birth, and thus such a person attains the lotus feet of the Lord." (13.122)
Krsnadasa Kaviraja writes that the pastimes of Lord Caitanya are unlimited and that he can give only a tiny part of them in his book Caitanya-caritamrta. Of that tiny part, we have here taken only a brief glimpse, as space would permit. The readers are advised to read Caitanya-caritamrta further, especially for an elaborate discussion, supported by scriptural references, concerning the identity of Lord Caitanya with Krsna Himself. There is also extensive material on the happy results of chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has recently completed his translation, with purports, of the entire Caitanya-caritamrta (11,555 verses). The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has published three volumes of the set, and at least nine more volumes will be printed before it is completed. As Srila Prabhupada's purports establish, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is genuinely continuing Lord Caitanya's mission of spreading Krsna consciousness all over the world.
We hope that these few lines on the appearance of Lord Caitanya will encourage interest in the potent reality of Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement. Krsna consciousness is authentically based on the Vedic literature and intended precisely for this age. Krsnadasa Kaviraja emphatically states that if one is at all interested in his self-betterment, he should not miss the chance to take to the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: "Anyone who attains a human body but does not take to the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is baffled in his opportunity. Amrtadhuni is a flowing river of the nectar of devotional service. If after getting a human body one drinks the water in a poison pit of material happiness instead of the water of such a river, it would be better for him not to have lived, but to have died long ago."
by Visakha-devi dasi
"In this Age of Kali, people endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the golden incarnation of the Lord [Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu), who is accompanied by His associates, by performing congregational chanting of the holy name of God."—Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.32)
Thousands of years ago, the Vedic scriptures revealed that in the present Age of Quarrel, Lord Krsna, in the guise of a devotee, would descend to this material world to distribute love of God. Thus God Himself would teach us how to approach God. To fulfill this prediction, the Supreme Lord appeared in the year 1486 In the town of Mayapura, which is on the bank of the Ganges in what is now known as West Bengal. ("The Appearance of Lord Caitanya," in this issue, gives further details about the Lord's descent.) In this incarnation, Lord Krsna, as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, taught that the easiest, most effective means for self-realization is the chanting of the holy names of God, especially Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has brought sankirtana, or the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, to all parts of the world. And each year, during the anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance, many of Srila Prabhupada's disciples from the worldwide ISKCON centers of the sankirtana movement go to Mayapura, where they celebrate Lord Caitanya's appearance and become increasingly enthusiastic to serve the Lord with devotion.
To perform devotional service, one should purify his mind and senses and use them to satisfy the Supreme Lord, following the instructions of a bona fide spiritual master. The purpose of traveling to a holy place like Mayapura is to advance in such purified devotional consciousness.
Lord Caitanya prescribed that one should begin his spiritual life in devotional service by hearing of the Lord's activities from a realized devotee of the Lord. If one cultivates spirituality in this way and keeps himself on the honest path in life, then although Krsna is never conquered, He becomes conquered by that process.
In this Age of Kali there is no possibility of acquiring spiritual knowledge by renunciation, by speculation or by fruitive work. Because most people are fallen and because there is no time to elevate them by a gradual process, the best course, according to Lord Caitanya, is to let them remain in whatever occupation they are in but to engage them in hearing of the activities of the Supreme Lord as those activities are explained in Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. The transcendental messages of the scriptures should be received from the lips of realized souls. In this way a person may continue to live in whatever occupation he is in and still make progress in spiritual advancement. Thus one can surely advance and fully realize the Personality of Godhead.
One who has begun this process finds that his transcendental feelings are aroused simply by hearing of the glorious names, forms, qualities and entourage of the Supreme Lord. Such a fortunate person develops a desire to visit the places where the Lord performed His transcendental pastimes. Confirming the importance of visiting such holy places, the Puranas say, "To travel to different places of pilgrimage means to attain emancipation from material bondage. By such traveling, one can pass over the desert of material existence:"
Throughout the beautiful green farmlands on the island of Mayapura, the devotee has occasion to remember the Lord constantly: "Near this nima tree, Sacidevi bore a son known as Visvambhara [Lord Caitanya]. That son is the maintainer of the entire universe and is the leader of all living entities. The moon was eclipsed at the time of the Lord's appearance, and the people of Mayapura were then engaged, as is usual on such occasions, in bathing here in the Ganges with loud chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. At this place Kesava Misra of Kasmira, the greatest scholar of the day, was defeated by Lord Caitanya, who was then still a young boy. And here, in the house of Srivasa Pandita, several years later, the Lord opened a nocturnal school of kirtana [chanting] with His sincere followers. There He preached, sang, danced, and expressed all sorts of spiritual emotions. At this place the Lord came in the evening, with thousands of followers, and had a long discussion with the local ruler, a Mohammedan Kazi. And here the Kazi, feeling the highest ecstasy in the association of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, joined the Lord's sankirtana party"
In this way, the devotees visit all the places in Mayapura where Lord Caitanya's pastimes were performed. So those coming to this sacred land always feel transcendental pleasure.
During the pilgrimage to Mayapura this year, the devotees of the Krsna consciousness movement will chant the Hare Krsna mantra with their Godbrothers from around the world, and they will also visit the places where the Lord performed His pastimes. But most importantly, they will hear instructions about Krsna from their spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who has spread the Hare Krsna mantra and the teachings of Lord Caitanya throughout the world. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, such a great personality is a holy place personified. He can turn any place into a holy place of pilgrimage because he carries the Personality of Godhead within his heart. The Personality of Godhead is always with such a pure devotee because of his unalloyed service.
Srila Prabhupada's disciples have therefore set the following verse by the great Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura as the guiding theme for their pilgrimage to Sridhama Mayapura:
"By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krsna. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any progress. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of the spiritual master.
By hearing about the science of Krsna consciousness from such a pure devotee, we can gradually come to understand that there is no difference between the Supreme Lord and His name, form, pastimes, qualities and abode. They are all on the same spiritual level. The Lord's holy name is therefore as good as the holy places of pilgrimage. By visiting a holy place like Mayapura, one can be freed of all impurities. But even if one cannot go to such a place, one can have the same benefit at home—or anywhere—simply by chanting the holy names of the Lord—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
by Nitai dasa
Sridhama Mayapura is the home of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this abode, apparently located in the district of Nadia, West Bengal, the Supreme Personality of Godhead wonderfully appeared almost five hundred years ago. He appeared in the form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the most merciful incarnation of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna. Generally the Supreme Personality of Godhead is invisible to the eyes of ordinary people, who are lacking in spiritual knowledge. Lord Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.25), naham prakasah sarvasya yoga-maya-samavrtah: "I am not manifest before all people, for I am covered by My yoga-maya, or spiritual energy." In Mayapura, however, He drew back the curtain of His maya and revealed Himself, with His associates and His wonderful activities, before the eyes of all. For this reason, Sri Mayapura is a dear place for those sincerely trying to follow the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And that place is dear to Him also.
One might ask, since the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the owner and controller of everything, why should He choose one spot as particularly dear? The answer is that He is like a rich man, who may control a thousand acres of land but still be the most fond of the two or three acres where his house is located and his family lives. In this way, although Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is the proprietor of all the planets within this universe and all the spiritual planets beyond, certain places are especially dear to Him. Within this universe, He has chosen certain places for performing His transcendental pastimes. Such places, like Kuruksetra, Jagannatha Puri, Vrndavana and Sridhama Mayapura, have thus become famous because of the Lord's activities.
The chief doctrine taught by the Vedas—and strongly underlined by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu—is that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the one non-dual Absolute Truth, and anything connected with Him is the same non-dual Truth. The Lord and His name, the Lord and His fame, the Lord and His qualities, activities and paraphernalia are all one and the same. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is never tinged by material qualities, and so anything associated with Him is also spiritual. The abodes in which the Supreme Lord has carried out His activities are therefore spiritual and pure. And although they appear within the material world, in fact they are transcendental, beyond the material creation.
Since these abodes are absolute, one cannot distinguish between them to assign more importance to one than to another. Nevertheless, because Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has appeared in this Age of Kali, the Age of Quarrel, specifically to give the religious principles for this age—and, indeed, to give love of Godhead as it has never been given before—His abode, Mayapura, is considered the highest of all the abodes of the Supreme Lord. Although all the abodes, being absolute, are one and the same, still there are distinctions among them. That is the inconceivable nature of spiritual truth, which exists beyond the feeble minds of ordinary men. The truth about the Supreme Lord and His names, qualities, pastimes, paraphernalia and abode can be understood only by realization. And those devotees who have realized the highest level of perfect love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, have concluded that Mayapura is the highest abode.
Discovering the Original Site
During the last century, when Sridhama Mayapura was all but forgotten, the great spiritual master Thakura Bhaktivinoda vigorously sought to restore it to its true importance. To be near that holy spot, he several times requested, while serving as a Government magistrate, to be transferred to the town of Krsnanagara, which is near Sri Navadvipa (Mayapura). When all such requests were rejected, he was willing to resign so that he could live where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had appeared. When the Government officials saw his sincerity and intentness, however, they finally granted his request for a transfer. Thereafter, Thakura Bhaktivinoda spent every spare moment visiting Navadvipa, a town on the Western bank of the Bhagirathi, or Ganges.
To his surprise, Srila Bhaktivinoda found that the city then called Navadvipa was not more than a hundred years old and so could not have possibly been the same Navadvipa, or Mayapura, where Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu had appeared, although its residents tried to convince him that it was. Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda, therefore, tried to find the actual appearance site of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Some people insisted that the city of Navadvipa was indeed the site where the Lord had appeared, whereas others held that the actual site was now under the Ganges River.
In the midst of such different opinions, Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda ascertained the actual birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. By inquiring from the local people, he heard about a place northeast of Navadvipa, on land owned by Moslems, where there were seven large mounds covered with tulasi plants. It was shrouded with rumors, and it was uninhabited and uncultivated by the local Moslems, who, because of stories about strange lights and sounds, considered it haunted and never went there. That very spot, he learned, was also respected by a few perfect devotees as the actual appearance site of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Furthermore, two maps made by British pilots who had navigated the Ganges in the Eighteenth Century marked a town named Nadia on the eastern bank of the Bhagirathi, north of the Jalangi. That location corresponded to the one discovered by Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda.
Srila Bhaktivinoda then showed the site to Jagannatha dasa Babaji, the foremost devotee of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu at that time, who definitely confirmed that it was the site where Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had appeared. Although Jagannatha dasa Babaji was incapacitated and had to be carried in a basket, when he reached that holy place and found it genuine, he immediately jumped up and began to dance, shedding tears of ecstatic love for Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The Mission Begins
Thakura Bhaktivinoda then began working to establish this holy place in its real glory. He started a campaign for funds throughout Bengal to establish a temple to Lord Caitanya and His consort, Visnu-priya. And by careful reference to the holy scriptures and transcendental realization, he located and marked all the different places of the Lord's pastimes. Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda himself took up residence on the island of Godruma, just across the river from the appearance site of the Lord. There he constructed a house, called Sri Svananda-sukhada-kunja, and he seriously began widespread preaching of the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The mission of preaching and developing Sridhama Mayapura was later taken up by Srila Bhaktivinoda's son Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who spread Lord Caitanya's teachings throughout India and who in the course of his preaching established sixty-four mathas, or centers. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta further developed Sridhama Mayapura by constructing a large temple at the site of Lord Caitanya's appearance and establishing a matha where Candrasekhara, one of the Lord's associates, used to have his house. Now His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the spiritual son of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, is spreading the message of Sri Caitanya all over the world, establishing temples in important cities, and further developing Sridhama Mayapura.
It is said that Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda, standing on the balcony of his house in Godruma years ago, looked across the River Jalangi toward the birthsite of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and predicted that one day there would be a shining city filled with devotees of Lord Caitanya from all over the world. If today one visits the house of Thakura Bhaktivinoda and goes to that balcony, he will see directly before him, fulfilling the prediction of Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda, the ISKCON Mayapura-candrodaya Mandira, ISKCON's World Center at the Birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Explaining the name of ISKCON's Mayapura center, Srila Prabhupada said that mayapura-candra means Lord Caitanya, who is compared to the moon, and udaya means "the arising." So mayapura-candra means "the arising of Lord Caitanya" He further said that the moon rises in two ways—by coming above the horizon and by growing from the new moon to the full moon. ISKCON's completed building in Mayapura, he said, is like the new moon, which gradually grows until full. When the ISKCON project in Mayapura is actually completed, the prediction of Thakura Bhaktivinoda will be totally fulfilled.
In his recent visit to Sridhama Mayapura, His Divine Grace further solidified the plans for the future city. He indicated the site for an enormous temple to be constructed, pointed out the main streets of the future city, showed where other roads should be constructed and where land should be bought, and encouraged the construction of a huge lake, surrounded by a park, with bathing places for the future residents. In this way, he gave many ideas for a city of pure devotion to the Lord Sri Krsna. As Mayapura-candrodaya develops, the entire world will be able to see the potency of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. From all over the world people will come to stay there, live peacefully and advance steadily in spiritual life. The only actual platform on which all the people of the world may stand united is one of pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord, and that is found only in the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Every other philosophy or solution, if examined carefully, will be found to fall short. The Mayapura-candrodaya Mandira, therefore, will be the shining example for all the nations of the world.
The discoverer of Sridhama Mayapura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, has written in simple Bengali verse a book called Sri Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya (The Greatness of Sri Navadvipa-dhama). I am humbly submitting a translation of the first chapter in the hope that those who have taken to the Krsna consciousness movement and are making efforts to take shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu will be encouraged and inspired with enthusiasm to go to Sridhama Mayapura, either to visit or to stay and help this great program develop.
I humbly offer my respectful obeisances to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, by whose mercy I have been able to visit the holy abode of Sridhama Mayapura and whose mercy I am begging in order to describe the glories of that transcendental land. Srila Bhaktivinoda entitles his first chapter "The General Greatness of Sridhama Mayapura"
ALL GLORIES TO NAVADVIPA-CANDRA, the moon of Navadvipa, the son of Sri Sacidevi. All glories to Lord Nityananda, the wandering mendicant. All glories to Sri Advaita Prabhu, the greatest personality. All glories to Gadadhara and Srivasa Pandita. All glories to Navadvipa, the essence of all holy places. All glories to the residents of Navadvipa, who are associates of Lord Caitanya. At the feet of all the devotees, I offer my humble obeisances. I shall briefly describe Sri Navadvipa-dhama.
The glories of the circle of Navadvipa are unlimited. Even Brahma and the other demigods do not know them. Who, then, can describe these glories? If Lord Sesa Naga cannot describe them fully with one thousand mouths, how shall I, a tiny living entity, describe them? Although it is true that these glories are unlimited and that even the god of gods, Lord Siva, cannot reach their end, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's desire is very strong, and His devotees dispense their orders under the control of that desire. By the desire of Lord Caitanya, the devotees have given their command. Thus I shall describe the glories of Nadia by their mercy.
Intimate Pastimes Revealed
There is one very confidential topic of which I do not desire to speak but cannot refrain from speaking. Since the time when Lord Caitanya became unmanifest, the devotees have ordered that His pastimes be made manifest in His eternal abode. It is known throughout the material creation that my Lord Caitanya's incarnation is more confidential than all others. His confidential pastimes, of which the scriptures speak in a confidential way, do not appear in the minds of nondevotees. Maya-devi (illusion) has for a long time covered and hidden all the confidential scriptures connected with these pastimes. And aside from the many such unmanifested scriptures, Maya-devi, by covering the eyes of the panditas, or learned scholars, always hides whatever topics appear concerning Lord Caitanya in the revealed scriptures also. Thus the deep pastimes of Lord Caitanya have become unmanifest. But Maya is very sincere in knowing the desire of the Lord, and she has taken away the deception from the eyes of the living entities. Thus the truths of Lord Caitanya are manifested in this material universe, and the hidden and confidential scriptures have very easily become manifest, dispelling the dilemmas of all the arguments of the living entities.
It is the most merciful Lord Nityananda who has manifested the truths of Lord Caitanya in the hearts of the living entities. By His order, Maya gives up her covering, and thus learned devotees can obtain that scriptural wealth. One whose doubt of this is undestroyed is a very unfortunate person. Why does he uselessly continue to live? When the Lord extends His mercy, all fortunate people become very happy. O people! Just see the symptoms of the unfortunate. They consider themselves intelligent, but do not accept the mercy of the Lord. Rather, by false arguments they fall into Maya's pit again and again.
"O my dear Kali-yuga living being, please come here. Give up all of your crooked ways. Just take this pure love of Lord Gauranga." Saying this, Lord Nityananda calls again and again. But these unfortunate people do not accept the invitation. Why don't people respect such unalloyed love? Considering very diligently, just see how all living entities are making so many arrangements for happiness. Some argue, and some practice yoga within this material world. For happiness one gives up household life and goes to the woods. For happiness one king fights another. For happiness a man chases women and gold. For happiness one cultivates art and science. For happiness one gives up happiness and teaches misery. For happiness one flounders in the ocean and drowns.
Calling loudly and raising both His hands, Lord Nityananda says, "Come here, living entity. Give up your dilemmas of fruitive action and speculative knowledge. I shall give you the perfect activity for happiness, and in return I shall take nothing. There is no difficulty in this. There is no loss, and you will not be hurt in any way. Uttering the holy name, Gauranga, just dance without anxiety. There is no mistaking it. You will always feel pure joy." In this way Lord Nityananda distributes love of God. But the unfortunate, because of their sinful activities, do not want it. Anyone who even once says "Gauranga-Nitai" puts an end to the results of unlimited sinful activities.
O people! Please hear one more confidential topic. The wealth of the pastimes of Lord Gauranga is just suitable for the living entity influenced by the Age of Kali. Lord Gaurahari, as Radha and Krsna, eternally enjoys His pastimes with the sakhis (cowherd girls). The living entities have long been able to understand the principle of those Vrndavana pastimes from the revealed scriptures. Certainly those eternal pastimes of Radha and Krsna are the glory of Sri Vrndavana. Indeed, those glories of Krsna's name and Krsna's abode, although unlimited, are made known to the entire world by means of the holy scriptures. Still, people generally do not obtain pure love for Krsna. Just consider within your heart, "What is the reason for this?" In this there is one confidential truth, which a living entity deluded by the material energy cannot consider. If one worships Krsna for many births and yet does not develop love of Godhead, there must be offenses in his worship. But if one becomes free from such offenses and chants the holy name of Krsna, without difficulty he obtains pure love for Krsna. Here is a great distinction between the incarnation of Lord Caitanya and that of Lord Krsna. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is so merciful that even in the existence of offenses, the living entity obtains from Him the wealth of pure love for Krsna. Any living entity who calls "Nitai-Caitanya" need not search; rather, pure love for Krsna flows from his eyes, and in a short time the offenses themselves flee, his heart becomes purified, and thus the pure love increases. The offenses of the living entities in the Age of Kali are unlimited and inevitable, and without the holy name of Gaura there is no deliverance from them. "Except for Lord Gauranga, we see no means of deliverance in the Age of Kali." That is what the scriptures shout.
In Navadvipa, Lord Gauranga has appeared. Navadvipa is the greatest of all the holy places. In other holy places of pilgrimage, offenders are severely punished, but in Sridhama Navadvipa offenses are always cleansed away. The proof is found in the two brothers Jagai and Madhai. Despite having committed many offenses, they attained the shelter of the Lords Caitanya and Nitai. Just put aside talks of other holy places; even in Vrndavana offenders are punished. But in Navadvipa-dhama, even if one commits hundreds and hundreds of offenses, by the mercy of Lord Nityananda one can easily be delivered.
The Essence of All Abodes
Such is the glory of Navadvipa-dhama, which is in the circle of Gauda (West Bengal). "Most fortunate is that land," say all the rsis, or sages. O brother! One who resides in the land of Navadvipa is greatly fortunate, for he obtains pure love for Krsna. Whosoever goes at any time to visit Navadvipa becomes freed from all offenses. Whatever a pilgrim obtains by wandering to all the holy places is obtained simply by remembering Sri Navadvipa. This all the scriptures sing. A person who simply sees Navadvipa gets the great fortune of love for Krsna birth after birth. Even one who practices karma- or buddhi-yoga never again takes birth if he goes to Navadvipa. If a person wanders in Navadvipa, at every step he obtains the result of ten million horse sacrifices. That too is stated in all the scriptures. if anyone resides there and chants his given mantra, that mantra becomes Lord Caitanya, and so he is easily delivered. What yogis obtain in other holy places after ten years of practice is obtained in Navadvipa by practicing for only three nights. The liberation obtained in other holy places by knowledge of Brahman is obtained simply by bathing in the Bhagirathi in Sridhama Navadvipa. The five types of liberation—achieving the same planet as the Lord, getting a form similar to that of the Lord, obtaining opulence equal to that of the Lord, getting direct association with the Lord, and merging into the Brahman effulgence—can be obtained in Navadvipa, even without one's knowledge, by those who desire such liberation. Falling at the feet of the pure devotees in Sri Navadvipa, material enjoyment and liberation always remain their maidservants. The devotees, however, beat these two and try to drive them away. But still these maidservants do not give up the lotus feet of the devotees and run away. What one obtains, O brother, in the seven holy places after one hundred years is obtained in Sri Navadvipa by residing there a single night. That Navadvipa-dhama is the essence of all holy abodes. In the Kali-yuga the living entity can cross over the ocean of material life by taking shelter of Sri Navadvipa. The two fields of knowledge called taraka (crossing over the ocean of material existence) and paraka (obtaining the other side of that ocean) continuously serve the residents of Sri Navadvipa as a matter of ordinary course. Taking great pleasure, thus sings Bhaktivinoda, whose desire is the shade of the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda and His eternal consort, Jahnava-devi.
Thus ends the First Chapter of Sri Navadvipa-dhama-mahatyma, entitled "The General Glories of Sri Navadvipa."
Nitai dasa, a graduate of Exeter Academy and the University of Colorado, is a personal secretary to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
kaler dosa-nidhe rajann
"O King, the Age of Kali is an ocean of faults. It is an age of quarrel, confusion and hypocrisy. But in this age there is one great advantage—simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, one can be freed of all material contamination and thus be elevated to the spiritual world." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 12.3.51)
The age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy—Kali-yuga—is the age we live in now. It is an age fraught with problems and anxieties, a confused age in which spiritual progress is especially difficult. Therefore, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna Himself, descended to this world as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to give humanity a direct and potent way to make progress in self-realization and consciousness of God. That authorized way for spiritual advancement is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, especially as found in the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, or Great Chant for Deliverance—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The original Vedas explicitly declare that no spiritual path is superior to that of chanting the maha-mantra:
hare krsna, hare krsna,
iti sodasakam namnam
"These sixteen words—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—are especially meant to counteract the degrading and contaminating influence of the materialistic Age of Kali. After searching through all the Vedic literature, one cannot find a method of religion more sublime for this age than the chanting of Hare Krsna." (Kalisantarana Upanisad)
To further emphasize that the chanting of Hare Krsna is the genuine Vedic way to achieve spiritual success in our modern age, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu often quoted the following verse from the Brhan-naradiya Purana:
harer nama harer nama
"In this Age of Kali there is no other means, no other means, no other means for self-realization than chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name, chanting the holy name of Lord Hari [Krsna]."
In this Age of Kali, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, is the incarnation of Lord Krsna (kali-kale nama-rupa krsna-avatara). Therefore, simply by chanting the holy name, one associates with the Lord directly. Anyone who does so is certainly delivered. This chanting has been introduced in the West by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. His Divine Grace says, "Since Krsna and His holy name are identical, the holy name is eternally pure and beyond material contamination. It is the Supreme Personality of Godhead as a transcendental vibration."
In the Vedic literature, Krsna is compared to the sun, and maya, or illusion, is compared to darkness. Just as the sun, appearing above the horizon, dissipates the darkness of night, so Lord Caitanya's movement of sankirtana, or congregational chanting of the holy name of Lord Krsna, can dissipate the materialistic consciousness of the Age of Kali.
In his purports to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Prabhupada explains the essence of the sankirtana movement: "The sankirtana movement has been introduced by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu just to dispel the illusion of maya, by which everyone in this material world thinks himself to be a product of matter and therefore to have many duties pertaining to the body. Actually, the living entity is not his material body; he is a spirit soul. He has a spiritual need to be eternally blissful and full of knowledge, but unfortunately he identifies himself with the body, sometimes as a human being, sometimes as an animal, sometimes a tree, sometimes an aquatic, sometimes a demigod, and so on. Thus with each change of body he develops a different type of consciousness with different types of activities and thus becomes increasingly entangled in material existence, transmigrating perpetually from one body to another. Under the spell of maya, he does not consider the past or future but is simply satisfied with the short life span he has gotten for the present. To eradicate this illusion, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has brought the sankirtana movement, and He requests everyone to accept and distribute it."
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu requested His followers to spread the Krsna consciousness movement all over the world, and He predicted that through their efforts His holy name would one day be chanted in every village and town on the surface of the globe. As a sincere servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has taken up the mission of spreading the sankirtana movement, and thus he has been able to render a great service to humanity in this Age of Quarrel and Confusion. Although ten years ago few people in the West had even heard of Hare Krsna or Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, now these names are becoming household words in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Australia and, in fact, throughout the world. In the purports of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Prabhupada writes, "The Krsna consciousness movement is being distributed all over the world through the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, and people who were leading confused, chaotic lives are now feeling transcendental happiness. They are finding peace in sankirtana, and therefore they are acknowledging the supreme benefit of this movement." Srila Prabhupada, however, declines to accept any personal credit for the success of the Krsna consciousness movement. "This is the blessing of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu," he continues. "His prediction is now factually being fulfilled, and those who are sober and conscientious are appreciating the value of this great movement."
By Tripurari dasa
Everyone appreciates some aspect of God's innumerable manifestations. As stated in the Vedanta-sutra, janmady asya yatah: everything comes from the Supreme Lord. In both the spiritual and material worlds, Lord Krsna is providing countless varieties of situations for all living beings, who are parts of Him. In the material world, although we cannot perceive His hand in everything, He directs the wanderings of all living entities (bhramayan sarva-bhutani). And in the spiritual world, where He is always visible, He arranges to fulfill the desires of His pure devotees. Nothing exists that the Lord has not sanctioned; in fact, not a blade of grass moves outside the will of God.
God has provided this material world to allow us to try to be happy without Him, and to teach us that our attempts to do so will always be fruitless. So we cannot hold God responsible for our sufferings, for we have chosen them ourselves. By our material desires, manifested in our activity, we continuously implicate ourselves in a cycle of birth and death. Struggling in this world for survival, forgetful of our real nature, we appreciate but little of what the Lord has to offer.
The Supreme Lord is the reservoir of pleasure, security and knowledge. Yes, knowledge, too, comes from God. God has all knowledge. In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says, "From Me come knowledge, remembrance and forgetfulness." We are suffering, but only because of ignorance. What is that ignorance? It is the bodily concept of life. When we forget our true spiritual nature, we try hard to satisfy our bodily senses. "I am this body," we think, "and everything related to this body is mine." This is the primary dictation of the false ego. We are born into this misconception, and our false ego is enhanced when we are misinformed about our ultimate benefit by other conditioned souls, who are also misinformed but who pose themselves as authorities. Thus we try to be satisfied and enjoy life without really understanding what life has to offer. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, Krsna is the life of all that lives. Krsna has the entire spiritual world to offer everyone-we simply must choose to associate with the Lord directly, in harmony, rather than in opposition to His will.
Krsna gives knowledge for the conditioned souls through the Vedic literatures, which contain knowledge of both the spiritual and material worlds. This knowledge can afford us full appreciation of life, and this alone can satisfy us. It gives us a taste of the full nectar for which we are always anxious. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has told us, in His Siksastaka, or eight verses of instruction, that this taste is found in the sankirtana movement, the Hare Krsna movement, which is the life of all transcendental knowledge. Lord Krsna says in the Gita "There is nothing as sublime as transcendental knowledge." And the sankirtana movement is both the realization and the distribution of such transcendental knowledge.
If we are at all looking to be happy by understanding who we are, we can begin by appreciating the happiness we can find in the transcendental message spoken by Lord Krsna in Bhagavad-gita. Handed down to us as it is, Bhagavad-gita is not merely a book. To the contrary, it is the most secret of all secrets, the king of knowledge. It is a manifestation of the Lord's opulence of knowledge.
Yet if we choose to go further, we can appreciate the most wonderful aspect of the Lord—His mercy. By His mercy, He sends His devotees from door to door, from person to person, to distribute knowledge of Him. Such devotees have no other thought than how to deliver the fallen souls back to Godhead, how to bring them in direct touch with their only real friend, Lord Caitanya. We all belong to Lord Caitanya. Just see His mercy as He yanks us out of the darkness of maya (illusion) to join Him eternally in His pastime of sankirtana. "Say, stop a second—we want to give you one of these books. They let us see how to enjoy life in a more real way." This simple request by a Krsna conscious devotee is actually the request of Lord Caitanya. Expressing the transcendental desire of Lord Caitanya, we ask you to give a donation for the costs of printing, read one of the books of the Krsna consciousness movement, and then pass it on to a friend.
Tripurari dasa, a traveling preacher, is so devoted to distributing Krsna conscious literature that Srila Prabhupada has called him "the incarnation of book distribution."