Happy 528th Birthday to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534)

Not all people can reason.  But all understand the language of love.  Everyone knows the magic of love.

More than five hundred years ago, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu understood this fact and he touched the hearts of millions of people.  His life and teachings filled the hearts of all with pure, unselfish, divine love.  Even now if anyone reads his biography will experience the divine love for God and for all beings.

 Vision of Sri Ramakrishna:  In 1870, the Master (Sri Ramakrishna) went on a pilgrimage to Nadia, the birth-place of Sri Chaitanya.  As the boat by which he travelled approached the sand-bank close to Nadia, Sri Ramakrishna had a vision of the “two brothers”, Sri Chaitanay and his companion Nityananda, “bright as molten gold” and with haloes, rushing to greet him with uplifted hands.  “There they came! There they come!” he cried.  They entered his body and he went into a deep trance.  (From the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)

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Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda

Sri Chaitnya Mahaprabhu was born on the famous Holy Festival day.  According to the Hindu moon calendar this year his birthday falls on Sunday, March 16, 2014.

The following Hindi biography of Sri Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu, titled “Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitavali” written by Shri Prabhdutt Brahmachari is a good resource about his life and teaching.  It is published by Gita Press, Gorukhpur, India.

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Sri Sri Chaitanya Charitavali

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s life is very interesting.  I will give a brief outline of his life.  His father’s name was Pundit Jagannatha Mishra and mother’s name was Shri Shachi Devi.  He was born in Navadwip (also known as Nadia), a city of Bengal.  At that time, Navadwip was the center of knowledge.  The schools of Navadwip produced many scholars of Sanskrit and various branches of philosophies based on the Hindu scriptures.  His childhood name was Nimai.  People say that he was born under a Neem Tree.  That is why his name was Nimai.  Because he was of fair complexion, he was also known as Gauranga.  But, in his young age he was known as “Nimai Pundit.”

Nimai was a naughty boy.  There were many interesting childhood pranks of Nimai including sitting on the garbage pile to tease his mom, eating food offered to God by an orthodox Brahmin, tying lose clothes of two people meditating on the bank of a river so their clothes come off when they get up and many others.  Because his elder brother Vishwarupa renounced the world in order to realize God, Nimai’s parents did not want him to go to school.  Somehow he convinced his parents to let him go to school.  When Nimai was eleven years old, his father passed away.

Nimai started to learn from a famous Sanskrit Grammar school of Pundit Gangadas.  Nimai mastered “Panchitika,” the famous book of Sanskrit grammar and wrote a commentary on this book.  This commentary was so helpful that Nimai became famous among the scholars of Navadwip and outside.

Then, Nimai mastered the “Nyaya Philosophy,” which is logic.  Many of the logic formulas of this philosophy are being taught in our universities’ logic classes today.  There is an important event happened at this time which brought out the greatness of Nimai.  His classmate Pundit Raghunath was a great scholar of logic and he was writing a book.  Raghunath heard that Nimai is also writing a book on logic.  One day he requested Nimai to read his manuscript to him.  Both got on a boat and Nimai started reading his manuscript.  Initially, Raghunath was making some sounds of acknowledgement that he was listening.  But, after a while he was quiet.  Nimai looked at him and found that Raghunath was profusely crying.  Nimai asked the reason for his crying.  Raghunath told him, “I was thinking that my book on logic will be famous one day.  But, after listening to your manuscript, I am sure that no one will read my book.”  Nimai laughed and said that it is a very trifle thing for which he should not be upset.  He said that for his friend he can do anything.  By saying this, Nimai simply tossed his manuscript into the river.  Pundit Raghunath embraced Nimai saying that only Nimai can let go such name and fame.  Thus, the world lost a great book on logic, but found a greater person who surpassed the logic.

Nimai married to Lakshmi Devi, the daughter of Pundit Vallabhacharya.  After completing his studies, Nimai Pundit became a teacher.  But, his naughty-nature remained same as a young student.  After teaching he used to mix with his students and he used to make his students laugh with his funny talks and acts.  With his playful nature he used to tease orthodox devotees and so-called pundits by intellectually exploring their weaknesses.  At that time a scholar Pundit Ishwar Puri of Navadwip was writing a book “Shri Krishnalilamruta.”  Pundit Ishwar Puri wanted Nimai Pundit to listen to this manuscript and suggest any correction or make comments.  For several evenings Nimai  Pundit heard this manuscript and both scholars had discussions on various topics of the manuscript.  After listening to this book Nimai Pundit’s love for Lord Krishna overpowered his intellectual outlook.

Nimai Pundit with his students then went to places of pilgrimage in East Bengal.  He met many notable scholars and inspired many people to chant name of God for spiritual development.  During this time his wife Lakshmi Devi passed away.  Nimai and his mother were very sad for this loss.  Nimai focused his mind in teaching.  At that time a famous scholar Pundit Keshav of Kashmir came to challenge all the scholars of Navadwip.  He was on a mission to prove his superiority in his knowledge of scriptures, Sanskrit language, and poetry.  He had defeated many scholars in other cities.  However, young Nimai Pundit in a casual conversation found several mistakes in his recently wrote poem.  The Pundit of Kashmir was amazed by Nimai Pundit’s depth of knowledge and intellectual sharpness.  Pundit Keshav of Kashmir’s ego was completely destroyed.  He gave up his mission of challenging scholars and devoted his mind to spiritual development.

Mother Shachi Devi was worried about Nimai.  Considering mother’s wish, Nimai agreed to marry Vishnupriya, a daughter of the court Pundit Sanatam Mishra.  After some time, an upsurge of renunciation arose and captured Nimai’s mind.  He realized that life is very short, nothing is permanent in this world, and the purpose of life is to chant name of God and to make efforts for spiritual development.  He started asking his students to do regular spiritual practice and build a good character.

A most important event in Nitai’s life was his pilgrimage to Gaya.  After performing rituals for his father, he went to Gaya temple and in front of Lord Vishnu he had an ecstasy.  At that time he met Pundit Ishwar Puri again.  They both were happy to meet each other.  Nimai sincerely requested him to give him initiation.  Pundit Ishwar Puri gave initiation to Nimai and taught him a mantra “Gopijanavallabhaya namah.”  Upon listening to the mantra Nimai’s mind was uplifted to Lord Shri Krishna, his heart was filled with love for him and he had  a state of Samadhi.

After coming back from Gaya, Nimai’s life was completely changed.  He asked his students to chant the name of Lord Krishna.  He told them that the chanting of Lord Krishna’s name will remove their miseries, help them attain the eternal peace and happiness and make their lives blessed.  He closed his school, collected sincere devotees of God and taught them how to chant name of Lord Krishna.  He followed strict moral discipline and closely monitored his disciples to help them in their spiritual path.  When he found that his close disciples were firmly established in their spiritual foundation and it was time to teach all people who are ready to learn to take name of God, he went out with his disciples to chant name of Lord Krishna in public.  Rest of his life was spent in chanting name of Lord Shri Krishna, remaining in bliss of Krishna-Consciousness and inspiring people to do the same.  At one point he completely renounced the world to devote his life fully for spiritual enlightenment of people.  From Nimai Pundit, he became Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.  He transformed many lives for good.  He touched the hearts of poor people, neglected people, kings, rulers and people of all walks of life.

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Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu transformed the lives of robbers

As I mentioned before not all people can reason, but everyone understands the language of love.  Sri Chaitanya Mahprabhu taught people to build a moral life, to love God, to enjoy chanting name of God, and to enjoy the bliss of God-Consciousness.  He loved all unselfishly.  Many cruel people were transformed into loving people by love of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.  A wave of love of God (Lord Shri Krishna) came from his heart and flooded whole Bengal with that love.  Later on this wave of love spread all over India and outside India in many countries inspiring people to chant the name of God.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wrote only one hymn called “Shikshashtakam,” eight verses to learn his guidance.  One of them is a very famous verse which I will quote here:

Learn to be more humble than grass

Learn to be more forbearer than a tree

Do not seek respect or name and fame

Give respect to all, and

Always chant name of God.

Let us learn to develop love for God and love all unselfishly seeing God in them.

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:

In the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna we find often Sri Ramakrishna talk to the devotees about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s life and love for Lord Krishna.  The following are a few quotes from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:

  • “The Master (Sri Ramakrishna) sang, “And, for that love, the mighty yogis practice yoga from age to age.  When love awakens, the Lord, like a magnet, draws to Him the soul.”  Then he said, “Chaitanya used to shed tears of joy at the very mention of Krishna’s name.  God alone is the substance; all else is illusory…”
  • “Master said, “You talk glibly about prema (love for God).  But is it such a common place thing?  There are two characteristics of prema.  First, it makes one forget the world.  So intense is one’s love for God that one becomes unconscious of outer things.  Chaitanya had this ecstatic love;…Second, one has no feeling of ‘my-ness’ toward the body, which is so dear to man.  One wholly gets rid of feeling that the body is the soul.”
  • “Master said, “Chaitanya experienced three states of mind.  First, the conscious state, when his mind dwelt on the gross and subtle.  Second, the semi-conscious state, when his mind entered the causal body and was absorbed in the bliss of divine intoxication.  Third, the inmost state, when his mind was merged in the Great Cause…..While conscious of the outer world, Chaitanya sang the name of God; while in the state of partial consciousness, he dances with the devotees; and while in the inmost state of consciousness, he remained absorbed in Samadhi.”
  • “Sri Ramakrishna said, “The caste-system can be removed by means of one means only, and that is love of God.  Lovers of God do not belong to any caste.  The mind, body, and soul of a man become purified through divine love. Chaitanya and Nityananda scattered the name of Hari to everyone, including the pariah, and embraced them all.  A Brahmin without this love is no longer a Brahmin.  And a pariah with the love of God is no longer a pariah.  Through bhakti (love of God) an untouchable becomes pure and elevated.”

24 thoughts on “Happy 528th Birthday to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534)

  1. Thank you Uncle for this wonderful post!
    It seems like Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was like the perfect disciple whom Sri Krishna described in the Bhagavad Gita! I loved reading about the life of that great person– and how he was the ideal role model for people, but also very gregarious at the same time! I always love reading the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and it is unbelievable how Sri Ramakrishna incorporated Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu into his talks so easily with such meaningful lessons!
    Thank you again Uncle for this post!
    – Rashmi Ketha

    1. Thanks Rashmi for your comments. There were many similarities between Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Ramakrishna. Both loved singing name of God. Both had intense love for God and both had experienced almost continuous Samadhi state.

  2. This post thoroughly described Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s life. It was interesting to see how his life progressed and the meaning behind his names. I think he can serve as a role model for all as his life is very applicable to our lives. If we take the name of God, we will remove our miseries and lead happy lives, as Shri Chaitanya taught his students. Through his lessons, we can learn that love for God conquers all. Shri Ramakrishna beautifully carried on this message and incorporated Shri Chaitanya’s teachings into his own! The two possess many similarities, which was also interesting to see. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can truly serve as a role model for all!

    1. Thank you Shivani for your comments. Yes, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a great role model. He lived life as we all do and in that he found a way to remove miseries of life and make life blessed. Then he helped people to do the same. Chanting name of God is a simple but effective spiritual practice.

  3. Dear Uncle, I enjoyed reading your post on Sri Chaitanya; it was very uplifting. How true that not all can reason but all understand the language of love – and Sri Chaitanya connects us with the love for Lord Krishna by chanting His name. Nimai was a great scholar but after reading Pundit Ishwar Puri’s book, the love for Lord Krishna overpowered his intellectual outlook. I also liked the verse from the Shikshashtakam as it offers such simple, clear and powerful guidance by which to transform oneself. Thank you for sharing your blog.

    1. Thank you Rajan for your comments. I am very happy that you liked the blog. Sri Ramakrishna loved Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and often he talked about his spiritual states, renunciation, and love for chanting name of God.

  4. Great post Uncle! I was really inspired by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s story particularly because of his consistent action. From childhood to adulthood, he exemplified some of the most important qualities in life: selflessness, devotion, and vigor- something that most cannot grasp onto like he did. Also, I really liked how Sri Chaitanya uttered the name of Hari to everyone he saw- including the social outcastes. Not only was he kind, he did not remain “in-the-box” and follow nonsensical customs. To Sri Chaitanya, the caste system unfairly distinguished certain individuals and discriminated others, so the fact he entirely disregarded it, made him a very powerful proponent of social equality.

    1. Thanks Heeruk. Yes, Sri Chaitanya broke all the social barriers and embraced all with love and taught them name of God. As he said that name of God will remove all miseries of life.

  5. Thank you Uncle for posting this. One thing that caught my attention in this article is how he was born under a Neem tree. It is very interesting because the Neem tree is known as the “Divine Tree” and is very common in Ayurveda because products made from neem are known to have medicinal properties. It is also interesting to see some of the great spiritual teachers who were born under significant trees, like Buddha born under the Bodhi Tree. This is just one small fact I found very interesting in the story and helped draw a parallel with another great religious teacher.

    1. Hi Samir: Yes, Neem tree has many medicinal properties. Also, its juice is good for health but it is very bitter. In my young age, I had to drink some to improve my health. People say that Sri Chaitanya’s name was Nimai because parents want him to live longer. They used to think that if we give a bad name then death will stay away from the child.

  6. I enjoyed reading this post. From reading this entry, it looks like Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu an ideal disciple as portrayed through the Bhagvad Gita. Reading about his life and teachings, it seems that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu can be a role model for us all to follow!

  7. Thank you Uncle on such a comprehensive and interesting post on Sri Chaitanya. I love how simple but, powerful his teaching were and still are. It was nice to learn about the little and important aspects of his life that shape him as person in our minds. Before reading this post, I knew very little about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and reading it helped me so much in understanding how good of a person he really was! Thank you very much for introducing a new light to follow!!!

    1. Hey Parth! You will find many references in the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. I am happy to know that you learned many things about Sri Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu from this post.

  8. This post was very uplifting and inspirational! I loved reading about Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He seems that he was the ideal role model, generous, smart and caring. What was interesting to me was his devotion to Sri Krishna. However, regardless of his achievements, his abilities to overcome the social stigma at the time and overlook the caste system is very powerful.

  9. Sri Chaitanya’s verses in the Shikshashtaka are not only poetic, but they have great meaning.

    “Learn to be more humble than grass
    Learn to be more forbear than a tree
    Do not seek respect or name and fame
    Give respect to all, and
    Always chant name of God.
    Let us learn to develop love for God and love all unselfishly seeing God in them.”

    This quote is telling us to be very gentle and humble as a piece of grass. We should not try to pursue name fame, but rather give your respect to others. As we learn a development for God, we should approach and respect others as we should always see God in them.

  10. Thank You for this post Uncle! Sri Chaitanya is a very good role model that we should all probably follow. It was fun to read about Sri Chaitanya and what he did that we all look back at today. His actions of overcoming the caste system and showing a caring and benevolent image is something we should all follow.

  11. Thanks for this great post on Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! I really enjoyed reading the summary of his life. It shows how despite having a normal childhood, he was able to move past knowledge and spread teachings that everyone should live their lives by. The fact that he was able to share his teachings through love makes him even more inspirational. During a time when many were discriminated against, he was able to accept everyone and touch their hearts through his powerful lessons.

  12. Thank you for this post, Uncle! I wish there were more teachers like Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. …the post has uplifted my spirit and has taught me not to let others’ opinions affect me by constantly thinking of people like Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It seems, out of his love, he would support and encourage me and others.

    1. Hey Kusha: thanks for your comments. Always think positive and try to think of the good qualities of others. Yes, people like Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu love all and encourage all. Without spiritual development it is not possible to love all equally.

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