Friday, June 9, 2023

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: Exceptional social reformer 


By Lalit Garg

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is considered to be an incarnation of Shri Krishna’s Premavatar i.e. Shri Radhaji, he is a great saint of Shri Krishna Bhakti Rasa culture in the Indian saint tradition. He took birth on the soil of India like an angel in medieval times and took Sanyas from Vaishnava saint Keshav Bharati and showed the oppressed, suffering human community the way to lead a loving life. He was a poet, social reformer and revolutionary campaigner. He was a great propagator of Vaishnavism and one of the main poets of the Bhakti period. He started the Harinam ‘Sankirtana’ movement to break the bond of caste and creed and to unite the entire human race. He landed in Jan Sagar and then Jan Sagar turned towards him.

His specialty as a great spiritual agitator saint was that he communicated and transmitted the spirit of religion equanimity, compassion, unity, love, devotion, peace and non-violence in the heart of the people. He travelled from city to town, village to village, explaining the importance of devotion and sankirtana and changing the hearts of the people. This devotional movement of his made countless people feel sankirtana rasa, away from the discrimination of religion, caste, sect or country, and created such a unique environment that their lives should be filled with happiness, peace, harmony and love. He was the most devoted and humble saint in the bright glorious saint tradition of India.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Samvat 1407 on the full moon day of Shukla Paksha of Falgun month, on the day of Holika Dahan in Singh Lagna, in a village called Navadwipa in Banga Pradesh, India. He was endowed with extraordinary talent since childhood. He did many public welfare works in his life. He did a special initiative especially for the welfare and salvation of widows. He had inspired the widows of Bengal and the country to come to Vrindavan and follow the path of devotion to God. It is because of him that Vrindavan has been known as the shelter of widows for about 500 years. Most of the widows who come here from all over the country with the desire to pass their last breath of life at the feet of Kanha, mostly about 90 percent are Bengali. Mostly illiterate and Bengali speaking. Mahaprabhu, seeing the pathetic condition and social disdain of the widows of Bengal, turned the rest of their life towards devotion to God and only after that the tradition of his coming to Vrindavan started.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is considered to be the form of Lord Krishna and there is a story in this regard that one day a Brahmin came to the house of Shri Jagannathji as a guest. When he sat down to eat and he closed his eyes while meditating on his presiding deity, the child Nimai hurriedly came and ate a piece of food. The parents got very angry at the son and they sent Nimai out of the house and served food twice continuously for the guest but Nimai ate the food every time and then he appeared in Gopal form and pleased the father, mother and the guest.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the inspiration of Bhakti Rasa culture. May all the living beings fill the world with love, get absorbed in the devotion of Sri Krishna and their spirituality be engrossed, such a wonderful and wonderful is the Sankirtana Rasadhar of the combined incarnation of Sri Radha-Krishna and the lifestyle of Sri Chaitanya. Through this, by declaring love and devotion as the best effort, he propounded the superiority of human religion. His teachings are the embodiment of the teachings of Shri Krishna. He said for human welfare, ‘Love is the essence of life, not religion.’ There are many miracles related to his life. But one day Mahaprabhu planted a mango kernel in the ground to explain to the devotees what the essence is and what is meaningless in the world. Within a short time it sprouted. The sprout grew and became a small tree. Suddenly the tree grew and saw two beautiful ripe mangoes in it. Then in an instant the tree disappeared and the fruits i.e. mangoes remained there. Mahaprabhu explained to his devotees that look, the way the tree was now, it is no more and only the fruits are left, in the same way the world is futile. Mahaprabhu used to give spiritual knowledge to his devotees through such wonderful and inspiring incidents.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had given a Sufiana message to the people who were troubled by the political instability of that time by popularizing the unique style of singing bhajans. But he never stayed anywhere, but continued to travel, advocating God-love and devotion along with Hindu-Muslim unity. He condemned the mentality of caste, creed, high and low, but the biggest thing he did was to establish Vrindavan anew in the sky of devotion. The truth is that the then almost extinct Vrindavan was re-established by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Had his feet not been there, then this Leela land of Shri Krishna-Kanhai, Killol-bhoomi would have remained only a myth.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his devotees used to get so absorbed and engrossed in the hymns and sankirtans that tears flowed from their eyes incessantly. This supernatural scene of love, faith and crying used to stun everyone. Devotion to Sri Krishna further enhanced the prestige of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The Suryavanshi emperor of Orissa, Gajapati Maharaj Pratap Rudradev, even considering him as an incarnation, fell at his feet, while Rupagoswami, a minister of a ruler of Bengal, resigned his post and took refuge in him. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, considered to be the Adi-Acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect, composed many texts, but today there is nothing but the eight-verse Shikshashtak. In Shikshaashtak he says that Shri Krishna is the only God.

 They embody beauty and love. His three powers are Param Brahma, Maya and Vilas. The essence of this verse is that love is attained only when the devotee becomes more humble than a tree, more tolerant than a tree, self-respecting, respects others, chants ‘Hari Naam’ daily with a pure heart and prays to God. Do not wish for anything other than ‘love for living beings’. He also tried to rectify the mistake of human beings to consider himself as God. He was impressed by the devotion of Narada and used to chant Krishna-Krishna like him. But many texts were written on Gauranga, the main ones being the Chaitanya Charitamrita of Sri Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, Chaitanya Bhagavata of Sri Vrindavan Das Thakur, Chaitanya Mangala of Lochandas Thakura, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata, Sri Chaitanya Mangal, Amiya Nimai Charita and Chaitanya Shatak etc.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu considers God as one. He sent his six main followers from Navadvipa to Vrindavan and got the seven temples established there. Gopal Bhatt Goswami among his main followers joined him at a very young age. Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Roop Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Jiva Goswami, Raghunath Das Goswami etc. were his close devotees. These people established the seven temples in Vrindavan. At present they are called Govinddev Temple, Gopinath Temple, Madan Mohan Temple, Radha Raman Temple, Radha Damodar Temple, Radha Shyamsundar Temple and Gokulanand Temple etc. They are known only by the name of Saptdevalaya. Today in Vrindavan, the Ganges of Krishna devotion and spirituality is flowing, the credit goes to Mahaprabhu only.

The basic premise of Chaitanya School is love and pastimes. Shri Krishna’s Leela in Gokul is eternal. Love is their basic power and it is also the cause of joy. This love is established in the mind of the devotee and becomes Mahabhav. Along with the worship of Radha, this Mahabhav is also the way to attain Shri Krishna. His unique characteristics of love, devotion and coexistence will continue to inspire humanity for ages.

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