By: Krishna Dasa
Understanding Lord Chaitanya's position in the light of scripture and the teachings of previous spiritual masters.
jaya jaya mahaprabhu sri-krishna-chaitanya
tanhara caranasrita sei bada dhanya
“Let me offer glorification to the Supreme Lord, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. One who has taken shelter of His lotus feet is the most glorified person.”
—Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 7.2
Sri Krishna Chaitanya is Sri Krishna. Srila Rupa Gosvami spoke this verse:
namne gaura-tvise namah
“O most munificent incarnation! You are Krishna Himself appearing as Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani [Lord Krishna’s internal energy], and You are widely distributing pure love of Krishna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.”
Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself. In this age, known as Kali-yuga, Krishna’s direct incarnation is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This is also confirmed throughout the Vedic literature—Mahabharata, Puranas, Upanishads. The essence of all Vedic literature is the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and there also Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is accepted as the Supreme Lord:
yajanti hi su-medhasah
The Srimad-Bhagavatam says that in the Kali-yuga the incarnation of Krishna has a bodily complexion that is akrishna, “not Krishna.” The Sanskrit word Krishna means “black.” In the shastra, the scriptures, it is said that Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appears in the four yugas, or ages, in four different colors:
asan varnas trayo hy asya
grhnato ‘nuyugam tanuh
suklo raktas tatha pitah
idanim krishnatam gatah
“Your son Krishna appears as an incarnation in every millennium. In the past He assumed three colors—white, red, and yellow—and now He has appeared in a blackish color.” This verse was spoken by the learned brahmana Gargamuni during Krishna’s name-giving ceremony. In the Vedic culture, as soon as a child is born his horoscope is made and his past and future are calculated. Today, because of poverty and other reasons, practically no one does this. But this is one of the samskaras, or purifying rituals for human life. At conception there is the garbhadhana samskara, while the child is within the womb there is a samskara, and so on. In this way a human body is purified by ten kinds of samskaras, or purificatory methods.
It is said, janmana jayate sudrah samskarad bhaved dvija: “Everyone is born a shudra, a member of the unpurified caste, but by samskara one becomes twice-born, or a brahmana.”
Everyone is born from a father and a mother. Even cats and dogs have a father and a mother. Any life you get, there is a father and a mother. Therefore the Prema-vivarta says:
janame janame sabe pita-mata paya
Krishna guru nahi mile bhaja hari ei
“In every birth you’ll get a father and a mother. But in every birth you cannot get Krishna or a bona fide spiritual master.” The perfection of human life is possible by the mercy of guru and Krishna. And that mercy can be achieved in the human form of life, not in the life of cats and dogs.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is acting as both guru and Krishna, or as the combination of the two. Kaviraja Gosvami, the author of Chaitanya-charitamrita, first offered his obeisances to Lord Chaitanya in the first verse of this chapter (agaty-eka-gatim natva …) After offering obeisances to the Supreme Lord, “the only hope for the hopeless,” now the author is again offering obeisances with the second verse: jaya jaya mahaprabhu sri-krishna-chaitanya.
Prabhu and Mahaprabhu
Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu—any Vaishnava, or devotee of the Lord, is addressed as prabhu (“Lord” or “master”). But Sri Chaitanya is Mahaprabhu, the “topmost prabhu, the master prabhu.” All others are servant prabhus. For example, if you work in an office, you may consider your immediate boss your master, but he’s not the master. The managing director or the proprietor is master of the office. But, still, those who work under him—“sub-prabhus”—are also called prabhu.
All Vaishnavas should be addressed as “Prabhu.” That is the etiquette. But Sri Chaitanya is Mahaprabhu because He’s the greatest master.
ekale isvara krishna ara saba bhrtya
yare yaiche nacaya, se taiche kare nrtya
“Lord Krishna alone is the supreme controller, and all others are His servants. They dance as He makes them do so.” We are simply dancing in the material world, trying to be the master. Everyone is trying. Everyone wants to exploit the resources of the material nature, to become the master. That is the struggle for existence. I am trying to become the master, and you are trying to become the master, so there is a clash. I challenge you, “Why should you be the master?” And you challenge why I should be the master. That is going on. That is the nature of the material world. But if we accept that we are eternal servants and not the master, and that the master is Krishna or Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, then our problems are solved.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung, jiv krishna dasa ei visvas korle to ar duhkha nai: “If you just understand that the spirit soul is the eternal servant of Krishna, you will never have any more sorrows.” That is the solution.
Everyone wants to become the master, the prabhu. You can become prabhu. That is not extraordinary. Some way or other we are prabhus. Suppose I am a family man. I am managing my family, my wife, my children, my servants, my subordinates, so I may be prabhu. In that sense I am a small prabhu. Similarly, everyone is prabhu. But there is the supreme prabhu, the prabhu of all prabhus. That Mahaprabhu is Sri Krishna Chaitanya. He’s Krishna.
As it is stated in the Brahma-samhita: isvarah paramah krishnah. isvara means “ruler” or “controller.” All of us are more or less little controllers or rulers, but not the absolute ruler. The absolute ruler is Krishna. Similarly, the absolute prabhu, master, is Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Taking Shelter of Mahaprabhu
Tanhara caranasrita: Everyone is prabhu, but when the prabhu takes shelter of the lotus feet of the Mahaprabhu, sei bada dhanya—the prabhu becomes glorified. Don’t remain satisfied being a prabhu of your wife, children, family, country, or this or that, but try to become the servant of Mahaprabhu. Tanhara caranasrita. When you take shelter of the supreme prabhu, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, then your life is successful. Sei bada dhanya: you are glorified.
To become the servant of God, or Mahaprabhu, is very prestigious. It is not very easy to become the servant of Krishna or Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So if one agrees to become the servant of the supreme prabhu, one’s life is successful. Sei bada dhanya: he is glorified.
The Vaishnava’s principle is to come to the platform of eternal servitude—not to become the master, but to become servant of the master. That is perfect philosophy. Gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah. The brahmana is thinking himself the master of the kshatriya [warrior] or the vaishya [merchant] or the shudra [laborer]. The sannyasi [renunciant] is thinking himself the master of the Vanaprastha [retired person], the grihastha [householder], or the brahmachari [celibate student]. Similarly, the head of the household is thinking himself the master, and the kshatriya king is thinking he’s the master. You are a master to some extent, but if you accept Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or Sri Krishna as your master, your life is successful. That is the secret of success, as confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
atah pumbhir dvija-srestha
“The highest perfection one can achieve by discharging the duties prescribed for one’s own occupation according to caste divisions and orders of life is to please the Personality of Godhead.”
Arjuna was a kshatriya; his business was to fight. Why was he fighting the Battle of Kurukshetra? To become the master of the kingdom. But he stayed eternally the servant of Krishna. That is success. Don’t be satisfied simply to be the master of your material position. Try to become the servant of the supreme; then you are successful.
Our mastership is relative; under certain conditions we become the master. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the master without any conditions. Namo maha-vadanyaya Krishna-prema-pradaya te. Because He’s the master, He can distribute Krishna-prema, love of Krishna, very easily. Otherwise, Krishna-prema is very difficult to attain. Even understanding Krishna is very difficult.
kascid yayati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
Out of many millions of persons, one may try to make his life successful, and out of many such persons who have become successful in understanding their constitutional position, one may understand Krishna. One may understand; there is no surety. To understand Krishna is a very, very difficult job.
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
To understand Krishna and to understand the service of Krishna is very exalted. One has to become brahma-bhutah, completely liberated. Then one can understand how to render service to Krishna, mad-bhaktim labhate param. But this difficult subject matter is given very easily by Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Therefore Rupa Gosvami offered his first prayer to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
namne gaura-tvise namah
“You are not only giving Krishna, but You are giving Krishna-prema, love of Krishna.” You may meet an exalted person, but to have an intimate, loving relationship with an exalted person is not very easy. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu distributed love of Krishna to anyone. That is Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s contribution to human society. If you simply come under the lotus feet of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, then love of Krishna is very easily achieved. To come under the lotus feet of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu means you have Krishna. That is the verdict of the scripture and Chaitanya-charitamrita. Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, does not give anything else. He directly gives you Krishna and love of Krishna.
To award this greatest benediction to human society, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa, the renounced order of life, at the age of twenty-four in this land of Mayapur, Navadvipa. It is a very glorified place. It is not an ordinary place. The Vaishnava devotee and poet Narottama Dasa Thakura says, gauda mandala bhumi, yeba jane cintamani tara hoy vrajabhume vasa. “Anyone who understands the spiritual value of Navadvipa lives in Vrajabhumi, Vrindavana—Lord Krishna’s land.” There is no difference between Vrindavana and Navadvipa, or Gauda-mandala-bhumi. That is the verdict of the shastra.
Reading of Narottama Dasa Thakura’s Prarthana and Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Prarthana are very, very valuable for advancement in spiritual understanding—especially Narottama Dasa Thakura’s Prarthana. By reading them, by understanding them, we can understand Krishna very easily. Otherwise, it is very, very difficult to understand Krishna. Big, big scholars, big, big sannyasis—they cannot understand Krishna. They think Krishna is like us—a very great man, a politician, a historical person. Or they think of Krishna as a debauchee because He associated with the gopis, the cowherd girls, or because He married sixteen thousand wives.
We shall be misled in understanding Krishna if we try to do so by our own knowledge. We have to accept Krishna through Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu advises everyone:
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa
yare dekha tare kaha ‘krishna’-upadesa
“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krishna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.” Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself. Because Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came as a human being, people have misunderstood Him to be a human being. But He’s not human being; He’s the master of the human beings.
Because we are part and parcel of Krishna, Krishna very kindly comes when we are distressed because of violating the laws of religion. Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati. Dharmasya glani means “deviation from the path of religion.” And what is religion? Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam. Religion means the laws of God. That is the simple definition of religion. The rules and regulations given by the Lord are called religion, just as the rules and regulations given by the state are called law. You cannot manufacture law. Similarly, you cannot manufacture dharma. Nowadays, in this Kali-yuga, rascals manufacture religion. But who cares for that religion? Or what will be the benefit of such religion? There will be no benefit.
Today, so-called religious leaders even claim to be God. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu never manufactured religion, and to set the example He never said, “I am Krishna.” Rather, when He was in Vrindavana some of the devotees praised Him: “You are Krishna.” He blocked His ears: “No, no. Don’t say that,” indicating that to claim to become God or Krishna is the highest type of rascaldom.
Some Mayavadis, or impersonalists, claim, “Everyone is God. I am God, you are God.” They are all rascals. We do not accept such cheap “Gods.” No. We accept Krishna. And we accept Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as God on the authority of sastra and the acharyas, our predecessor spiritual masters. We follow in the footsteps of the acharyas. Rupa Gosvami says, Krishnaya Krishna-Chaitanya-namne: “Sir, You are Krishna. You have come under the name of Krishna Chaitanya. You are so magnanimous that You are distributing love of Krishna.”
Without being Krishna, how can one distribute Krishna? Without being a millionaire, how can one distribute millions of dollars? Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is so magnanimous that He is distributing Krishna. So take shelter of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
If one takes advantage of this opportunity of human life and chants, sri-krishna-chaitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrnda. Then you’ll get Krishna, surely. This land is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s birthplace. Anyone who takes shelter of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is glorified.