Today is Visvarupa-mahotsava, the date on which Lord Caitanya’s older brother, Visvarupa, took sannyasa, the renounced order of life. And on the same date some four hundred and fifty years later, our own spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, also accepted sannyasa.
According to Vedic scripture, Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, come in the present age in the role of a devotee. In the previous age, Lord Krsna came in His original feature and spoke the Bhagavad-gita, and at the conclusion He instructed, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: give up all other duties and surrender unto Me. But people could not understand or appreciate Lord Krsna’s instruction. So later, about five hundred years ago, the same Krsna came again, not in His original form but in His devotional form as Lord Caitanya. And Lord Caitanya taught us how to serve Krsna, how to worship God in the present age.
Lord Caitanya taught various methods of worship, but He especially emphasized the chanting of the holy names of God, or Krsna. In particular, He quoted a verse from the Brhan-Naradiya Purana (38.126):
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“One should chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of Hari, Krsna. In this age of Kali, there is no other way, no other way, no other way for spiritual realization.”
He acted like a teacher who shows students how to write the alphabet. The teacher stands in front of the class and writes on the board, “A, B, C, D.” She has no need to practice writing, but she shows by her own example how to form the letters properly. In the same way, God, Krsna, had no need to worship, but to set the example for us, so that we could learn how to worship God in the best way in the present age, He came as Lord Caitanya and taught and demonstrated the chanting of the holy names.
When Lord Caitanya appeared, the social and spiritual system called varnasrama-dharma was still prevalent in India. In this system there are four social and four spiritual divisions, all necessary for society to function properly. Although we may not refer to them by the same terms, and although the system has not been developed as systematically and scientifically as in Vedic culture, still, by the arrangement of nature, the divisions still exist. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah: “According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me.” (Bg 4.13) So, the four social orders, or broad divisions of occupational duties, are created by Krsna.