Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in this world at Navadvipa in West Bengal, India, on February 27, 1486 AD. Navadvipa, “the city of nine islands” was a famous center of culture and learning in India, situated on the Ganges River. It was described as being the most beautiful place in the universe at that time. The Lord’s birth fell on the full-moon night of the Bengali month of Phalguna, during a lunar eclipse. The people of Navadvipa gathered at such times on the Ganges to protect and purify themselves by bathing in the holy waters and chanting the names of God. Thus, Lord Chaitanya appeared amid the loud chanting of the Lord’s holy names.
The Vedic scriptures very clearly establish that Lord Sri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the cause of all causes:
I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.
In the revealed scriptures the ultimate object of knowledge is Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead. The purpose of performing sacrifice is to please Him. Yoga is for realising Him. All fruitive activities are ultimately rewarded by Him only. He is supreme knowledge, and all severe austerities are performed to know Him. Religion (dharma) is rendering loving service unto Him. He is the supreme goal of life.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 1:2:28-29]
However, many people who supposedly follow Vedic scripture are not aware of the position and identity of Lord Chaitanya, who is described throughout the Vedic literatures as being Lord Krishna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, coming to this world in the role of His own most perfect devotee.
The appearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and His inauguration of the congregational chanting movement, were mentioned and foretold in numerous Vedic scriptures which were written down well over four thousand years before Lord Chaitanya appeared. Some of these scriptures include Srimad Bhagavatam, Adi Purana, Kurma Purana, Garauda Purana, Skanda Purana, Narasrima Purana, Padma Purana, Narada Purana, Brahma Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Agni Purana, Matsya Purana, Vayu Purana, Markandaya Purana, Varaha Purana, Vamana Purana, Upa Puranas, Ananta Samhita, Brahma Yamala, Mahabharata, Atharva Veda, Sama Veda, Chandogya Upanisad, Svetasvatara Upanisad and the Purusa Bodini Upanisad. We can look at some of these mentions of Lord Chaitanya’s appearance found in the Vedic literatures:
In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead, who constantly sings the name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 11:5:32]
In this age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, Who is accompanied by His associates, by performing samkirtan-yajna.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 11:5:29]
Sometimes I personally appear on the surface of the world in the garb of a devotee. Specifically, I appear as the Son of Sachi in the Kali-yuga to start the sankirtan [chanting] movement.
O brahmana, I occasionally take the sannyasa ashram in an attempt to bring the fallen people of Kali-yuga to take up the path of bhakti or devotional service to Lord Krishna.
[Lord Krishna to Vyasadeva: Upa Puranas]
I shall advent in the form of a brahmana devotee and I shall hide my factual identity. I shall deliver all the worlds.
[Adi Purana and Narada Purana]
Inwardly Krishna but outwardly of golden form, I will be accompanied by My associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions. Taking My birth in the womb of Sachi, I will accept the role of a human being.
The Supreme Person will appear in the first part of the age of Kali. He will appear in the home of a brahmana, to save the embodied conditioned souls burning in the troubles of Kali-yuga.
[Kurma Purana. A similar verse appears in the Garuda Purana]
I will take birth as the son of Sachi in Navadvipa, Mayapur. I will come in my complete spiritual form in the first part of Kali-yuga.
In the first part of Kali-yuga, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will come in a gold-like form. First He will become the husband of Lakshmi [Srimati Lakshmi Devi, Lord Chaitanya’s first wife]. Then He will become a sannyasi, near Lord Jagannatha who will appear in a divine wooden form.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead who in the Satya-yuga appeared as a half-man, half-lion to cure a terrible disease that had ravaged the daityas, and who in the Treta-yuga appeared as a person named Rama [Lord Ramachandra], the person who defeated the ten-headed Demon Ravana, and who in the Dvapara-yuga removed the earth’s burden, and protected the gopa [cowherd] people of Vraja-pura [Vrindavan], will appear again in the Kali-yuga. His form will be golden, He will delight in chanting the Lord’s holy names, and His name will be Chaitanya.
The Supreme Personality, Janardana, who is the object of the yogis’ meditation, who saves the devotees from various sufferings, and who is the master of all yogic practices, who is always full of divine transcendental ecstasy and bliss, will advent in His own divine form of Sri Chaitanya.
I shall appear on this earth in the first part of Kali-yuga in a beautiful place on the bank of the Bhagirathi [Ganges]. I shall have a golden form [gaurangah], and I shall take birth as the son of Sachi.
O vipra [brahmana], in the age of Kali, I will come disguised as a devotee and I will save all the worlds.
O Divija [demigods], please come and advent as devotees on this earth in the age of Kali-yuga. I will incarnate as the son of Sachi to inaugurate the congregational chanting of the name of Krishna.
I will reveal my eternal golden form in the first part of Kali-yuga. I will advent on the earth on the bank of the Bhagirathi [Ganges] as the son of Mother Sachi.
O austere sage, you should know that in the age of Kali, everyone will see my transcendental form as a sannyasi. I will be exhibiting symptoms of ecstasy like shedding tears of bliss and hairs standing in ecstasy.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead will come in a golden form [gaura-anga], full of peace, with a beautiful long neck. He will be surrounded by many saintly devotees.
In the age of Kali, I shall advent where the three rivers meet. I shall have a shaven head. I shall have a golden complexion [gaurah]. I will be very kind and always chant the holy name of Krishna.
In the age of Kali-yuga, I shall come in a place on the bank of the Ganges. I will be very pure, with a golden complexion. I will be very tall and chant the holy names of Krishna.
In the Kali-yuga, I will leave Goloka and, to save the people of the world, I will become the handsome and playful Lord Gauranga.
I shall advent in the month of Phalguna, when the star Phalguni is conjoined with the full moon. I shall incarnate in a golden complexion in the womb of Sachi and Purandara Misra. I will be born in the city of Navadvipa, on the Ganges’ shore, in a brahmana’s family. I shall take the renounced order of life [sannyasa] and show kindness to the people in general and engage them in bhakti. I will be known as Sri Krishna Chaitanya. All of you should follow My order and deliver the people of the world. I shall appear as a brahmana. I shall make this earth fearless.
To show mercy to the people and give them devotional service, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear in a brahmana’s home in Navadvipa by the Ganges’ shore. The Supreme Person, Sri Krishna Himself, who is the life of Srimati Radharani, and is the Lord of the universe in creation, maintenance, and annihilation, appears as Gaura, O Mahesvari.
In Kali-yuga, I will descend to the earth with My associates. In Navadvipa, which is surrounded by the Ganges, I will take birth in Sachi devi’s womb.
They who are bewildered by My illusory potency will not understand the great secret of the appearance in this world of Me in My personal form, in My form as the incarnation of devotion, in My form as the incarnation of a devotee, in My form bearing the name of a devotee, in My form as a devotee, and in My form as the giver of devotional service.
This secret is not to be revealed to them. Only the saintly, pure, renounced devotees, diligently engaged in My devotional service, will be able to understand Me in these five forms [pancha-tattva].
My dear male and female associates, headed by Sridama and Subala, who came to this world at the time of My advent as Lord Krishna, will come again during the Kali-yuga.
The gopas will become the sixty-four mahantas and the twelve gopalas. To establish the truth of religion, I will enjoy many pastimes with them.
In this way I will again reveal the path of devotional service, which has been destroyed in the course of time. My sons should also descend to the earth, assume the forms of devotees, and, by My order, also work to re-establish the principles of true religion.
At this time My names will be: Krishna Chaitanya, Gauranga, Gaurachandra, Sachisuta, Mahaprabhu, Gaura and Gaurahari. Chanting these names will bring devotion to Me.
He has a golden complexion. His limbs are very beautiful and are smeared with sandalwood pulp. He has the appearance of molten gold. The Supreme Lord Chaitanya accepts the renounced order of life. He is fully sense-controlled and equipoised, and is completely peaceful. He is completely fixed in the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna. He is the highest abode of devotion and transcendental peace. He silences the mayavadi impersonalists.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
These sixteen names composed of thirty-two syllables are the only means to counteract the evil effects of Kali-yuga. In all the Vedas it is seen that to cross the ocean of nescience there is no alternative to the chanting of the holy name.
My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 12:3:51]
Whatever result one obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices and in Dvapara-yuga by serving the Lord’s lotus feet [deity worship] one can also obtain in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 12:3:52]
harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha.
Chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name. There is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for God-realisation in this age of Kali (chaos, quarrel and confusion).
[Brhan-Naradiya Purana 38:126]
The same message was repeated by Krishnadas Kaviraja in the Caitanya-caritamrta:
The religious practice for the age of Kali is to broadcast the glories of the holy name. Only for this purpose has the Lord, in a yellow colour, descended as Lord Chaitanya.
[Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 3:40]
In this age of Kali there is no other religious principle than the chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all Vedic hymns. This is the purport of all scriptures.
[Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 7:74]
There is a wonderful story in the Caitanya Mangal written by Locana Dasa. It is a retelling of a conversation between Murari Gupta and Damodara Pandit. It tells of a time 5000 years ago when the great sage Narada Muni went to visit Lord Krishna at His palace in Dvaraka. Narada was experiencing great sorrow due to the suffering of the people as Kali-yuga approached, and Lord Krishna gave him some wonderful news which gladdened his heart.
Narada Muni Sees the Form of Lord Gaura
… At that moment Narada Muni unexpectedly arrived [at Dvaraka]. His face was marked with sorrow. His heart was worried. Queen Rukmini at once rose and respectfully offered padya and arghya [washed his feet and performed arati], offered him a seat on the throne, and asked about his welfare. Lord Krishna also rose, tightly embraced Narada, and greeted him with sweet words. Tears of love flowed from Narada’s eyes. He trembled. His voice was choked up. The tears from his eyes streamed over his body. He tried to speak. He had no power to say a word. Lord Krishna asked him: “O sage, please say what is in your heart. Why are you so devastated? What worry fills your heart? You are dearer to me than life. To you I am like your own life. When I see you unhappy I almost fall unconscious.”
Narada said: “O Lord, what shall I say? You are the master of all masters. You are the Supersoul in every heart. Singing your glories is my ambrosia food. Eager to tell others of your glories, I traveled in the world of birth and death. As I traveled in the world of birth and death, I did not hear the name Krishna. Intoxicated with pride, the people have forgotten you. Everyone is bewildered with pride. I saw the people are not interested in Krishna. That is my sorrow. I do not see any way to deliver the people. Again and again I think these thoughts. Now I have revealed the sorrow in my heart. Only by the mercy of your feet can anyone become happy.”
Smiling, Lord Krishna said: “Listen, O great sage. You forget what has already happened. You forgot that Goddess Katyayani vowed to Lord Shiva that she would distribute my maha-prasada. Also, now that I have heard wonderful words from Rukmini, I have become agitated and I also will speak a vow. I vow I will taste the ecstasy of spiritual love, and I will make the people of the material world taste it also. I will become a humble person in the Kali-yuga. Accompanied by devotees, I will engage in devotional service. I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, will give to the people ecstatic love for me. I will manifest the sankirtana movement of chanting my glories. I will take birth in Saci’s womb in Navadvipa. I will manifest a tall fair form with arms that reach to my knees. My peerless form will be glorious like Mount Sumeru.”
Speaking and speaking in this way, Lord Krishna manifested the form of Lord Gaura. Gazing at that form, Narada was overcome with ecstatic love. That form, glorious like Mount Sumeru was filled with ecstatic spiritual love. In this way Locana Dasa describes the first time the form of Lord Gaura was manifest. Glory, glory to Lord Gauranga! Alas! Alas! Why do I not taste the nectar of ecstatic love for Lord Gauranga? [says Locana Dasa]
With a happy heart Narada Muni gazed at Lord Gaura’s form. A thousand flooding streams of tears flowed from Narada’s eyes. Lord Gaura’s form was glorious like ten million moons or ten million suns. He was more handsome than Kamadeva himself. Narada had no power to gaze at Lord Gaura’s effulgent form. The sage closed his eyes and trembled. Covering his effulgence, the Lord glanced at Narada and loudly called: “Look, O Narada.”
Regaining consciousness, the sage became rapt in meditation on Lord Krishna’s form. With thirsty eyes, he yearned to see again the form of Lord Gaura. The Lord said: “Listen, O fortunate sage. You may go wherever you wish. No one can stop you. Wherever you go you will be loved. In Shivaloka, Brahmaloka, and the other celestial planets, make a proclamation that into the Kali-yuga I will descend in a golden form. There I will manifest the sankirtana movement of chanting my holy names and glories. There I will preach the bliss of tasting the nectar of loving devotional service to me. On the path of devotional service there are now hundreds and hundreds of branches. There is no end to the branches. There should be only one branch in the world. Therefore, I will preach the glories of ecstatic spiritual love (prema). Accompanied by my own associates and devotees, I will take birth on the earth. I desire to engage in loving devotional service (prema-bhakti).”
Hearing these words from the Lord’s graceful mouth, Narada felt all his sorrows break into pieces by the mercy of the Lord’s feet. Narada muni sounded his vina and departed. His thoughts filled with the nectar of these words:
“What a wonderful fair form I saw! What a wonderful form with reddish eyes and great mercy I saw! What a form sweeter than nectar I saw! What a sweet smile I saw! Of all the avataras, this avatara is the best. Never have I seen such a great glory of ecstatic spiritual love. On this day my life has borne its fruit. On this day my eyes have borne their fruit. Now I have seen the blissful, glorious, merciful face of Lord Gaura. Never have I seen such an ocean of mercy. My heart will never forget him. My eyes yearn to see him.”
Thinking and thinking in this way, Narada Muni traveled on the path. Arriving at Naimisaranya, he met his friend Uddhava. First standing up and then offering padya and arghya, Uddhava fell to the ground like a stick before Narada Muni’s feet. He thought: “I am fortunate. This is an auspicious day. At an auspicious moment I have come to Naimisaranya.” Narada picked up Uddhava, embraced him, kissed him, and smelled his head.
Uddhava offered him a sitting place. Smiling and smiling, Uddhava spoke what was in his heart. He said: “This day is glorious. Now my birth in this world has borne its fruit. Now I will tell you of a desire that has long stayed in my heart. Here in Naimisaranya, in ancient days, Vyasa compiled the vedas. Still, he could not destroy the illusion in his heart. Then, by your mercy, he heard the secret of spiritual life and wrote Srimad Bhagavatam to deliver the world. You alone know the truth. O master, you know the heart of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Please tell me what will happen in the future. My heart yearns to deliver the people of Kali-yuga. In Kali-yuga, the people are filled with sins. Their eyes and hearts are blind. In the Satya, Treta, and Dvapara yugas the people knew religion, but in the horrible Kali-yuga no one knows religion. Everyone is a sinner. If you feel compassion for me, please destroy my doubts and fears. No one is more compassionate than you.”
Smiling with a happy heart, Narada Muni said: “O Uddhava, O servant of Lord Hari, the question you ask is good. I will tell you a great secret. In my heart I also felt a great sorrow like yours, but now I know the people in Kali-yuga are very fortunate. The people in Kali-yuga are very fortunate. Others are not fortunate like them. In Satya-yuga and the other yugas, the religion of the age (yuga-dharma) is very harsh. But in Kali-yuga, the religion of the age is only chanting the holy names of Lord Hari. In Kali-yuga, simply by chanting the holy names and glories of Lord Hari the people are released from material bondage. Simply by singing and dancing, they no longer fear Yamaraja.”
“Please carefully listen to other wonderful news, news of what I saw in Dvaraka with my own eyes. With words like nectar, Lord Krishna told Rukmini: ‘In my heart, I have decided to freely distribute to the people ecstatic love for me.’ As Lord Krishna, with Queen Rukmini on his lap, sat on his throne, I, my heart filled with sorrows, approached him. Seeing that I was sorrowful, Lord Krishna asked me: ‘As I look at you, I must ask: Why have you become like this?’ Approaching the Lord’s feet, I told him the thoughts in my heart.”
“Happily smiling, the Lord said: ‘Rukmini taught me the glories of ecstatic love for my feet. Hearing her words, I, even though I am the Supreme Lord Himself, have become overwhelmed by the greatness of that love. I will taste the bliss of that ecstatic love and I will make the whole world taste it also. Assuming a humble nature, I will manifest in the Kali-yuga. The Kali-yuga is horrible. It is filled with sins. Religion is not present in it. Therefore, becoming humble, I will teach the world.’ Speaking and speaking in this way, Lord Krishna manifested a fair form splendid like gold, a form filled with ecstatic spiritual love, a form with a broad chest and two arms that touched his knees. Then he vowed: ‘I will widely distribute ecstatic spiritual love for me.’ I tell you: that is what I saw and heard.
“Now I will travel in the world of birth and death to tell the others. Eager to taste the ecstasy of loving devotional service, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will take birth on the earth. Manifesting a wonderful form, he will come to the Kali-yuga.” Hearing Narada’s words, Uddhava was overcome with ecstasy. Falling at Narada’s feet, he wept with joy. He said: “These wonderful words have placed life into my lifeless body. Your words have brought coolness to my feverish body.”
Sounding his vina, Narada then happily departed. Hearing this conversation of Narada and Uddhava in the Jaimini-Bharata, Locana Dasa is now wild with bliss. If you do not believe my words, then read it yourself in the 32nd chapter of that book. Lord Gauracandra is my very life.
The purpose for Lord Chaitanya’s appearance in the material world is described in a famous verse from Caitanya-caritamrta, originally composed by Srila Rupa Goswami:
namine 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, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krishna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.
[Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 19:53]
In the Bengali song Sri Guru-parampara written by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, the great Vaisnava acharya who lived from 1874-1936, we find the oft quoted line from verse 6:
mahaprabhu sri-caitanya, radha-krishna nahe anya
which translates as:
Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya is non different from Sri Sri Radha and Krishna
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami quoted this verse many times:
… One should not think that the pastimes of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are different from Krishna’s pastimes. It is said, sri-krishna-chaitanya, radha-krishna nahe anya: “Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a combination of Radha and Krishna.”
[From purport Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 25.271]
Lord Chaitanya appered in this world to save the fallen souls of Kali-yuga. But He had another purpose for coming to this world. He wanted to play the role of His own devotee, so that He could taste the unrivalled happiness that Radharani experiences in her love for Krishna.
All glories to Lord Chaitanya!
All glories to Lord Nityananda!
All glories to Srila Prabhupad!
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