Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

15th century Indian Vaishnavite saint

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (also transliterated Caitanya, IAST caitanya mahāprabhu) (Bengali চৈতন্য মহাপ্রভূ) (18 February 1486 – 14 June 1534) was an ascetic Vaishnava monk and social reformer in 16th century Bengal, (present-day West Bengal and Bangladesh) and Orissa, India.

My Dear Rupa, the science of devotional service is just like a great ocean, and it is not possible to show you all the length and breadth of the great ocean.

Quotes edit

  • Conceptions of good and bad are all mental speculations. Therefore, it is erroneous to say, "this is good" and "this is bad".
    • Quoted in 1,001 Pearls of Wisdom, David Ross, 2006, p. 47

Teachings of Lord Chaitanya - Prabhupada, (1968) edit

Full text online

  • O my Lord! Your holy name alone can render all benedictions upon the living being, and therefore You have hundreds and millions of names, like Krishna, Govinda, etc. In these transcendental names, You have invested all Your transcendental energies, and there is no hard and fast rule for chanting these holy names. O my Lord! You have so kindly made approach to You easy by Your holy names...
  • O almighty Lord! I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor I have any desire to enjoy beautiful women; neither do I want any number of followers of Mine. What I want only is that I may have Your causeless devotional service in my life – birth after birth.
  • O son of Maharaj Nanda, I am your eternal servitor, and although I am so, somehow or other I have fallen in the ocean of birth and death. Please, therefore, pick me up from this ocean of death, and fix me as one of the atoms of your lotus feet.
  • My Dear Rupa, the science of devotional service is just like a great ocean, and it is not possible to show you all the length and breadth of the

great ocean. But I shall simply try to explain about the nature of the ocean by just taking a drop out of it; and you can thus taste it and understand what is that ocean of devotional service.

Quotes about edit

  • As regards Chaitanya and his followers, their persecution in the hands of the officers of Husain Shah, the most enlightened and liberal Muslim Sultan, has been described in some detail on pp. 632-635. One significant feature of the Chaitanya movement is often ignored. Of the twenty-four years he remained in his mortal frame after he renounced the world and was initiated as a sanyasin, he hardly spent even a year in the dominion of Husain Shah and his Muslim successors, but lived for twenty years in the Hindu kingdom of Orissa. The Vaishnava followers of Chaitanya were persecuted in their homeland during the regime of Husain Shah, and Chaitanya spent practically his whole life as a sanyasin under the patronage of the Hindu ruler of Orissa who became his devoted disciple. By connecting these two facts it will not probably be wrong to surmise that though Chaitanya began his religious life in the Muslim kingdom of Bengal, it did not evidently prove a congenial home to him or to his cult, and both found a safe refuge only in the neighbouring Hindu kingdom. In any case the fact remains that the chief credit for the rise and growth of Chaitanya’s Vaishnavism must go to the Hindu kingdom of Orissa and not to the Muslim kingdom of Bengal. This is a very significant fact in the history of Hindu culture in India during the period under review. (Preface)
    • RC Majumdar, Volume 6: The Delhi Sultanate [1300-1526]

Teachings of Lord Chaitanya - Prabhupada, (1968) edit

Full text online

  • The moon was eclipsed at the time of His birth, and the people of Nadia were then engaged, as is usual on such occasions, in bathing in the Bhagirathi with loud cheers of Haribol... Mahaprabhu was a beautiful child and the ladies of the town came to see Him with presents. His mother's father, Pundit Nilambar Chakravarti, a renowned astrologer, foretold that the child would be a great personage in time... The ladies of the neighborhood styled Him Gour Hari on account of His golden complexion, and His mother called Him Nimai on account of the nimba tree near which He was born. Beautiful as the lad was, everyone heartily loved to see Him every day.
  • It is said that when He was an infant in His mother's arms, He wept continually, and when the neighboring ladies and His mother cried Haribol! He used to stop. Thus there was a continuation of the utterance of Haribol in the house, foreshowing the future mission of the hero.
  • It is said that a brahmin on pilgrimage became a guest in His house, and cooked his food and read his grace with meditation on Krishna. In the meantime, the lad came and ate up the cooked rice. The brahmin, astonished at the lad's act, cooked again at the request of Jagannatha Misra. The lad again ate up the cooked rice while the brahmin was offering the rice to Krishna in meditation. The brahmin was persuaded to cook for a third time. This time all the inmates of the house had fallen asleep, and the lad showed Himself as Krishna to the traveler, and blessed him. The brahmin was then lost in ecstasy at the appearance of the object of His worship.
  • While the Lord was going, chanting and dancing, thousands of people were following Him and some of them were crying, some were laughing, some were dancing, and some singing. Some of them were falling on the ground, offering obeisances to the Lord. And all of them were roaring with the holy name of Krishna, Krishna.... The Lord was dancing, raising His two hands, and roaring with the words, “Haribol! Haribol!”

The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume 6 edit

The History and Culture of the Indian People, vol 6, Delhi Sultanate, pages 633-635
  • The two great biographies of the great Vaishnava saint Chaitanya, namely, the Chaitanya-charitamrita and the Chaitanya-bhaga-vata, contain many stories of the religious bigotry of the Muslims and the consequent persecution of the Hindus. Both the books refer to a famous episode in the life of Lord Chaitanya. He had introduced the system of public worship in the form of kirtan (a sort of congregational song loudly sung together by a large number of men in public streets to the accompaniment of special musical instruments). This enraged the Muslim qazi, and one day when Chaitanya’s devotees were singing the name of God in the streets of Nadiya (Navadvipa in Bengal), he came out, struck blows upon everybody on whom he could lay hands, broke the musical instruments, and threatened with dire punishment all the Hindus who would dare join a kirtan party in this way in his city of Nadiya. To prevent the recurrence of public kirtan, the qazi patrolled the streets of Nadiya with a party. The people of Nadiya got afraid, but Chaitanya decided to defy the qazi’s orders, and brought out a large kirtan party which was joined by thousands. The qazi was at first wild with anger and held out the threat that he would destroy the caste of all the Hindus of Nadiya; but terror seized him when his eyes fell upon the vast concourse of people in a menacing attitude. He fled, and his house was wrecked by the angry crowd. The Chaitanya-bhagavata does not describe the sequel. But the other work, Chaitanya-charitémrita, describes how Chaitanya sent for the qazi who was now in a more chastened mood, and the two had a cordial talk.
  • As is usual with religious books, the author of the Chaitanya- charitaémrita attributes the change in the qazi’s attitude to a miracle. A more rational explanation of the qazi’s forbearance is probably to be found in the attitude of the Sultan. Shortly after the above incident, the author describes the visit of Chaitanya to Rama- keli, a village near the capital city of Gauda. When Sultan Husain Shah heard of the great ovation paid to the saint by millions of people along the whole route, he was surprised, and observed that one whom such a vast crowd follows without any expectation of material benefit must be a saint. He ordered the Muslim qazis not to injure him in any way and allow him to go wherever he liked.
  • It would be wrong to infer from this, that Sultan Husain Shah had a tender heart for the Hindus. At least the contemporary Hindus thought otherwise. Even after Husain Shah issued the above order, the intimate followers of Chaitanya argued: “This Husain Shah had destroyed numerous temples in Orissa; the liberal views he expressed were but a passing phase, and might be changed at any moment by evil counsels of Muslim officials”. So they sent an urgent message to Chaitanya to leave the vicinity of the capital. One of the Hindu courtiers of the Sultan, when asked about Chaitanya, deliberately misrepresented him as an ordinary sannyasi, in order to avert the Sultan’s wrath against a great Hindu saint.
  • Sanatana, a trusted Hindu official of the Sultan, became an ardent devotee of Chaitanya. So he (Sanatana) spent his time in religious exercises in his house, and ceased to attend the court on plea of illness. One day the Sultan paid a surprise visit and found Sanatana hale and hearty, engaged in religious discourse with twenty or thirty Vaishnavas. The Sultan got very angry and kept Sanatana in confinement. Sultan Husain Shah was then making preparations for a military expedition against Orissa, and asked Sanatana to accompany him. But the latter refused, saying: “You are going to torment our gods (i.e. destroy the images and temples); I cannot go with you.” This firm reply to the iconoclastic Sultan offers a striking contrast to the fulsome eulogies paid to him by some contemporary Bengali poets. One of them, Vijaya Gupta, mentioned above, describes Husain Snah as an ideal king whose subjects enjoy all the blessings of life, and compares him to the epic hero Arjuna. Another goes even further and describes the Muslim Sultan, notorious for breaking Hindu temples, as the incarnation of Krishna in the Kali Age. All these merely indicate the degree of abject surrender and the depth of moral degradation of the Hindus of Bengal caused by three hundred years of political servitude and religious oppression. Evidently a new spirit was infused into them by Chaitanya, at least for the time being.
  • Throughout the Chaitanya-bhagavata there are casual references to Hindus being constantly oppressed by the fear that the public performance of kirtan, and even singing religious songs loudly in one’s own house, would provoke the Sultan and bring untold miseries upon the people of Nadiya. A section of them was therefore angry with the Vaishnavas, and once a rumour was spread that the Sultan had sent two boats full of soldiers to Nadiya to arrest those who sang kirtan. Many people expressed their amazement that Chaitanya and his followers were engaged in loudly singing kirtan at Rama-keli near the capital city, Gauda, without any fear of the terrible Muslim king living so near. These incidental references constitute more valuable data than even the full-fledged stories of the sacrilegious conduct of the qazis for making a proper estimate of the wretched condition of the Hindus. They had to live in perpetual dread of the religious bigotry and intolerance of the Muslims during the rule of even the most enlightened Muslim Sultan of Bengal.
  • The Chaitanya-mangala of Jayananda describes as follows the plight of the Brahmans of Navadvipa, the birth-piace of Chaitanya, shortly before his birth (A.D. 1485): “The king seizes the Brahmanas, pollute their caste, and even take their lives. If a conchshell is heard to blow in any house, its owner is made to forfeit his wealth, caste and even life. The king plunders the houses of those who wear sacred threads on the shoulder and put sacred marks on the forehead, and then bind them. He breaks the temples and up- roots Tulasi plants, and the residents of Navadvipa are in perpetual fear of their lives. The bathing in the Ganga is prohibited and hundreds of sacred Aésvattha and jack trees have been cut down. The numerous Yavanas (Muslims) who reside in.the Piralya village ruined the Brahmanas. The feud between the Yavanas and the Brahmanas is everlasting, and the terrible village of Piralya is close to Navadvipa. Misled by the false report of (the people of) Piralyz that a Brahmana was destined to be the king of Navadvipa...the king (of Gauda) ordered the destruction of Nadiya (Navadvipa). Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya left Gauda with his family and kinsmen and fled to Orissa where he was honoured by its ruler Prataparudra.” Some time later, the king of Gauda changed his attitude and had the broken houses and temples repaired, but the Brahmanas whose caste was polluted remained for ever outside the fold of Hinduism.”’
    • Chaitanya-mangala of Jayananda,quoted from The History and Culture of the Indian People, vol 6, Delhi Sultanate, p 632. Jayananda: Chaitanya-mañgala, (a biography of the great Vaishnava saint), about the Navadvipa region on the eve of the saint’s birth in 1484 AD. also in Goel, S. R. (2001). The story of Islamic imperialism in India.

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