Today is Gaura-purnima, the appearance day of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Chaitanya is Krishna Himself in the guise of a devotee. When Krishna came, He demanded, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: “Give up all varieties of religiousness and just surrender unto Me.” But people could not appreciate His instruction: “Why should we surrender?” they questioned. They did not understand the process of surrendering. So, some four thousand five hundred years later, five hundred years ago, the same Lord Krishna appeared again, as Chaitanya, to show us how to surrender to Him.
Lord Chaitanya taught the specific method of devotional service appropriate for the present age of Kali. With evidence from the Brhan-naradiya Purana (38.126), He instructed:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“One should chant the holy names, chant the holy names, chant the holy names of Lord Hari. There is no other way, no other way, no other way for success in the modern age.”
Now and in recent history, there are and have been many false incarnations of Lord Krishna. So, one may question, what evidence can we produce that Sri Chaitanya is Krishna’s incarnation? For one thing, Lord Chaitanya is mentioned in many revealed scriptures—the Upanishads, the Puranas, the Mahabharata, and especially Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the different incarnations for the different ages are described, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is described in the following words (SB 11.5.32):
yajanti hi su-medhasah
Krsna-varnam: varnam means “category,” like catur-varnam. So, krsna-varnam: He is in the same category as Krishna. In other words, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam—but His color is not the same blackish color as Krishna’s. When Lord Krishna appeared as the son of Nanda Maharaja, Garga Muni came and astrologically calculated the future life of baby Krishna. He told Nanda Maharaja, “Your son appears in different ages in different colors. Sometimes He appears in a whitish color, sometimes He appears in a reddish color, sometimes He appears in a yellowish color, and now He has appeared in a blackish color.” We know from scripture that the incarnations for the ages of Satya and Treta appeared in a whitish color and in a reddish color and that Krishna appeared in a blackish color. So, krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam means that the incarnation of Krishna in the Age of Kali appears not in a blackish color but in a golden color. Another meaning of the word varnam is related to varnayati, which means “to describe or glorify.” So krsna-varnam means that He is always glorifying Krishna, always chanting, “Krishna.” And sangopangastra-parsadam: He is accompanied by His associates (sri krsna-caitanya prabhu nityananda sri advaita gadadhara srivasadi gaura bhakta vrnda). And yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi su-medhasah: In the Age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting (sankirtana-yajna) to worship this incarnation of Krishna, namely Sri Chaitanya.
Lord Chaitanya appeared toward the end of the 15th century in Navadvipa, in West Bengal. There, as a young man, He began the sankirtana movement, going through the streets of the town chanting Hare Krishna. He also sent His associates, such as Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura, into the streets to request people to chant the holy name of Krishna and learn the science of Krishna. The same mission—the same movement—was continued by His followers. And now the same sankirtana movement is embodied in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It is the exact same movement that Lord Chaitanya began personally five hundred years ago.
We shall read some verses from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta about the mission of Lord Chaitanya and try to understand how Srila Prabhupada is fulfilling the same mission. We shall read from the Adi-lila, Chapter Seven, which describes the Panca-tattva.
sei panca-tattva mili’ prthivi asiya
purva-premabhandarera mudra ughadiya
pance mili’ lute prema, kare asvadana
yata yata piye, trsna badhe anuksana
The characteristics of Krsna are understood to be a storehouse of transcendental love. Although that storehouse of love certainly came with Krsna when He was present, it was sealed. But when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came with His other associates of the Panca-tattva, they broke the seal and plundered the storehouse to taste transcendental love of Krsna. The more they tasted it, the more their thirst for it grew.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is called maha-vadanyavatara because although He is Sri Krsna Himself, He is even more favorably disposed to the poor fallen souls than Lord Sri Krsna. When Lord Sri Krsna Himself was personally present He demanded that everyone surrender unto Him and promised that He would then give one and all protection; but when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to this earth with His associates He simply distributed transcendental love of God without any discrimination. Sri Rupa Gosvami, therefore, could understand that Lord Caitanya was none other than Sri Krsna Himself, for no one but the Supreme Personality of Godhead can distribute transcendental love of the Supreme Person.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
Srila Rupa Gosvami appreciated Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with the following verse:
namne gaura-tvise namah
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna Chaitanya, who is the most munificent incarnation of Godhead, even more munificent than Krishna Himself, because He is freely giving what no other incarnation has ever given: pure love for Krishna.” No one but Krishna Himself can give such love.
Srila Prabhupada said something about himself that resembles this description of the Panca-tattva. He said that for many centuries Krishna was kept locked up in a black box. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He was kept locked up. And nobody knew Him. But Srila Prabhupada, as he himself stated, took the key, opened up the box, and took out Krishna. He held Him up and showed the world: This is Krishna; this is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
punah punah piyaiya haya mahamatta
nace, kande, hase, gaya, yaiche mada-matta
Sri Panca-tattva themselves danced again and again and thus made it easier to drink nectarean love of Godhead. They danced, cried, laughed, and chanted like madmen, and in this way they distributed love of Godhead.
People generally cannot understand the actual meaning of chanting and dancing. Describing the Gosvamis, Sri Srinivasa Acarya stated, krsnotkirtana-gana-nartana-parau: not only did Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates demonstrate this chanting and dancing, but the Six Gosvamis also followed in the next generation. The present Krsna consciousness movement follows the same principle, and therefore simply by chanting and dancing we have received good responses all over the world. It is to be understood, however, that this chanting and dancing do not belong to this material world. They are actually transcendental activities, for the more one engages in chanting and dancing, the more he can taste the transcendental love of Godhead.
The method of chanting and dancing is simple and sublime, and just by hearing and seeing the devotees chanting and dancing, people all over the world have begun to follow. They have joined in the chanting and dancing and become devotees of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Krishna.
We have personal experience of this. Once, we went to some remote villages in Sri Lanka, where the Sinhalese people had never really heard about Krishna. We simply chanted and danced through the villages. The villagers came out, and they too wanted to chant and dance. As we would continue to some pavilion or hall, they would follow us in sankirtana. In the hall we would have more chanting and dancing, and even after we left, the people would continue chanting and dancing; they didn’t want to stop. In Africa we have had the same experience. When the devotees go into the African townships or villages, African people, who have no idea of Krishna consciousness, come and chant and dance. They enjoy it, and they want to do it more and more. This process has such great potency that we can go anywhere in the world and attract people to Krishna consciousness simply by chanting and dancing. The same method Lord Chaitanya introduced five hundred years ago is being followed by Srila Prabhupada’s followers, and they are getting positive results.
patrapatra-vicara nahi, nahi sthanasthana
yei yanha paya, tanha kare prema-dana
In distributing love of Godhead, Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates did not consider who was a fit candidate and who was not, nor where such distribution should or should not take place. They made no conditions. Wherever they got the opportunity, the members of the Panca-tattva distributed love of Godhead.
There are some rascals who dare to speak against the mission of Lord Caitanya by criticizing the Krsna consciousness movement for accepting Europeans and Americans as brahmanas and offering them sannyasa. But here is an authoritative statement that in distributing love of Godhead one should not consider whether the recipients are Europeans, Americans, Hindus, Muslims, etc. The Krsna consciousness movement should be spread wherever possible, and one should accept those who thus become Vaisnavas as being greater than brahmanas, Hindus, or Indians. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu desired that His name be spread in each and every town and village on the surface of the globe. Therefore, when the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu is spread all over the world, should those who embrace it not be accepted as Vaisnavas, brahmanas, and sannyasis? These foolish arguments are sometimes raised by envious rascals, but Krsna conscious devotees do not care about such envious rascals. We simply follow the principles set down by the Panca-tattva.
Krishna consciousness is spread on the platform of the soul, and the soul is not black or white, American or Russian, Indian or Chinese. The soul is part and parcel of Krishna, and every soul is the same; every soul has the same potency for accepting Krishna consciousness. Thus Lord Chaitanya and the members of the Panca-tattva wanted to distribute Krishna consciousness to everyone, everywhere, without discrimination.
Srila Prabhupada has commented: When Lord Chaitanya wanted the holy name of Krishna to be spread to every town and village of the world, who did He think would do it? It is understood that people all over the world would join the mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, become brahmans and sannyasis, and preach. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama, sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama, He didn’t mean it as a farce. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When He said His message would be broadcast all over the world, did He mean by a cinema show? No. He wanted people to become perfect Vaishnavas. Therefore, people who do become devotees and serve Lord Chaitanya’s desire must be accepted as part of Lord Chaitanya’s movement, as much as people born in India or in brahman families. In fact, such Vaishnavas are more than just brahmans. Although Lord Chaitanya made His prediction five hundred years ago, Srila Prabhupada was the one to actually fulfill it.
Recently in Mayapur, His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami described his first impressions of Srila Prabhupada and the devotees. He said that one thing struck him especially: how Srila Prabhupada loved the foreigners, and how he reciprocated with them so affectionately—because Prabhupada, just like Lord Chaitanya and the other members of the Panca-tattva, made no discrimination. He really loved everyone on the spiritual platform, and he wanted to help everyone on the spiritual platform. He had no false prestige: “I am an Indian, so I cannot mix with a foreigner.”
After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance in 1977, a condolence meeting was held at the Krishna-Balarama temple in Vrindavan, and one of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers gave his own version of history. He described how Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had sent him too to the West, and how he could not relate to these lower types of people. He could only relate to cultured and intellectual people, as if he were too good to touch the lower ones—and so they were left for “Swamiji.”
A true Vaishnava has no false prestige and no envy. He is equal to everyone. Srila Prabhupada, being such a Vaishnava, actually fulfilled the mission of Lord Chaitanya and the Panca-tattva by distributing Krishna consciousness to one and all. And not only did he offer it, but he induced people to accept it. Some years ago, during Prabhupada’s presence, in September 1974, a publishing house named Orient Longman asked me to contribute to their forthcoming book about various religious leaders in India. The book was subsequently published under the title Gurus, Godmen, and Good People. The publishers approached followers of each of these personalities to write the chapter about his or her leader, and they approached me to write the chapter about Srila Prabhupada. I wrote a draft of the chapter and sent it to Prabhupada in Mayapur. Prabhupada responded with a brief description of how he wanted to be presented: He introduced the Vedic culture completely to the whole world, and people throughout the world are following it completely, as it is, just as he presented it. That was his unique contribution.
He gave the example of a tulasi sapling: If you want to transplant a tulasi sapling, you have to do it very carefully, because it is delicate. If any part of the sapling is damaged, the plant can die. Prabhupada said that in the same way, he had to very carefully transplant Vedic culture from India to America and the rest of the world. He took great pains to make sure that no part of it was damaged or injured, so that it could take root and grow and flourish.
lutiya, khaiya, diya, bhandara ujade
ascarya bhandara, prema sata-guna bade
Although the members of the Panca-tattva plundered the storehouse of love of Godhead and ate and distributed its contents, there was no scarcity, for this wonderful storehouse is so complete that as the love is distributed, the supply increases hundreds of times.
A pseudo-incarnation of Krsna once told his disciple that he had emptied himself by giving him all knowledge and was thus spiritually bankrupt. Such bluffers speak in this way to cheat the public, but actual spiritual consciousness is so perfect that the more it is distributed, the more it increases. Bankruptcy is a term that applies in the material world, but the storehouse of love of Godhead in the spiritual world can never be depleted.
Srila Prabhupada told the story of how this so-called incarnation touched his disciple and by some electric current transferred to him all of his knowledge. When the disciple opened his eyes, he saw that his master was crying. So he asked, “Guruji, why are you crying?” And his master replied, “I have given all of my knowledge to you, and now I don’t have any left; therefore I am crying.” This is a material conception. Prabhupada explained that transcendental knowledge is so perfect and complete that the more you distribute it, the more you get. And, to the contrary, if you have transcendental knowledge and don’t distribute it, you will become envious and the knowledge will gradually evaporate. So, the basic principle of Krishna consciousness is to become as perfect as possible oneself and do good for others by distributing love of Godhead.
Krsna is providing for millions and trillions of living entities by supplying all their necessities, and even if all the innumerable living entities wanted to become Krsna conscious, there would be no scarcity of love of Godhead, nor would there be insufficiency in providing for their maintenance.
People in the material world have the scarcity mentality: “Oh! If there is too much population, there won’t be enough food.” But actually, Krishna can provide any amount of food for any number of living entities. Once, at a time when scarcity was a big issue in India, Srila Prabhupada asked us to put an advertisement in the newspapers: We welcome everyone to come to Hare Krishna Land and live as we do, and we will provide food, shelter, and clothing. It was an open invitation to the entire city of Bombay. Prabhupada was confident that no matter how many people came to become Krishna conscious, all of them would be maintained spiritually and materially by ISKCON, by Krishna, because there is no scarcity in spiritual life.
Our movement was started single-handedly by Srila Prabhupada. He doesn’t say it explicitly, but he says, “Our Krishna consciousness movement was started single-handedly, and no one provided for our livelihood, but at present we are spending hundreds and thousands of dollars all over the world, and the movement is increasing more and more.” People are always worried about their maintenance: “Who will maintain me? Who will take care of me?” But Krishna will maintain you. And Srila Prabhupada is the example. Some people think, “Well, when you are young you can be carefree and chant and dance, but when you get old there are so many problems and you have to think about your future. Who will take care of you in your future?” But Prabhupada began the Krishna consciousness movement at the age of seventy; he was seventy years old when he arrived in New York City. And who maintained him? Who took care of him? Krishna! Thus there is no question of scarcity.
Although jealous persons may be envious, if we stick to our principles and follow in the footsteps of the Panca-tattva, this movement will go on unchecked by imitation svamis, sannyasis, religionists, philosophers, or scientists, for it is transcendental to all material considerations. Therefore those who propagate the Krsna consciousness movement should not be afraid of such rascals and fools.
Srila Prabhupada is advising us not to be afraid of those who are not Krishna conscious.
uchalila prema-vanya caudike vedaya
stri, vrddha, balaka, yuva, sabare dubaya
The flood of love of Godhead swelled in all directions, and thus young men, old men, women, and children were all immersed in that inundation.
When the contents of the storehouse of love of Godhead are thus distributed, there is a powerful inundation that covers the entire land. In Sridhama Mayapur there is sometimes a great flood after the rainy season. This is an indication that from the birthplace of Lord Caitanya the inundation of love of Godhead should be spread all over the world, for this will help everyone, including old men, young men, women, and children.
Who is not included? Everyone is an old man, a young man, a woman, or a child. This spread of love of God will help everyone, including old men, young men, women, and children.
The Krsna consciousness movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is so powerful that it can inundate the entire world and interest all classes of men in the subject of love of Godhead.
There are often floods in Mayapur. And indeed, there were floods there when we first came to India, in 1971. Acyutananda Swami, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, wrote to him that the flooding from the Ganges came all the way up to the embankment created by the Bhaktisiddhanta Road, so called because it was constructed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Srila Prabhupada wrote back, “Yes, we were saved by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Road. We shall always expect to be saved by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja Prabhupada. Always pray to his lotus feet. Whatever success we have had in preaching Lord Chaitanya’s mission all over the world is due only to his mercy.”
This is parampara: from Lord Chaitanya to His disciples, including the Six Gosvamis; from the Six Gosvamis to their disciples; and from them down through parampara to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and Srila Prabhupada. Now we should follow in the same line. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is following in the same line, so without fear or hesitation we should also follow the Panca-tattva and their line: We should taste the contents of the storehouse of love of God, become mad in love of God, and distribute the contents to others. This is the actual mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the purpose for which He appeared in Sri Mayapur-dhama and preached throughout India. There is no difference between the sankirtana movement inaugurated by Lord Chaitanya five hundred years ago and the sankirtana movement now being propagated by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and his followers.
Are there any questions or comments?
DEVOTEE: In the book The Glories of Navadvipa-dhama it is stated that one who discriminates between Lord Chaitanya and Lord Krishna goes to hell and suffers. But in other sampradayas, the followers do seem to discriminate. They don’t accept Lord Chaitanya as the same Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna. So do they go back to Godhead or do they go to hell? Where do they go?
GIRIRAJ SWAMI: The Caitanya-caritamrta explains that Jarasandha followed the Vedic rituals and thus worshiped Lord Vishnu but that because he did not accept Krishna he is considered a demon. One who does not accept Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead is a demon. Similarly, anyone who does not accept Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as Krishna, the same Supreme Lord, is also to be considered a demon. Although he may make a show of devotion to Lord Krishna, if he neglects Lord Chaitanya, he will never get Krishna’s mercy or advance to the ultimate goal.
Such statements are striking—even shocking. How can we live with them? Yet if we consider further, we will find that Srimad-Bhagavatam makes three distinctions: between devotees, innocent people, and envious people. If someone is innocent— simply ignorant like a child (balisesu)—he will be open to the knowledge that Sri Chaitanya is Krishna Himself. But someone who is envious (dvisatsu), like a demon, will never accept that Lord Chaitanya is the same Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, and he is bound to suffer.
DEVOTEE: In the same scripture it is mentioned that Ramanujacharya visited Navadvipa-dhama and that in Navadvipa-dhama Lord Jagannatha appeared to him in a dream and told him to glorify Lord Chaitanya. Then Lord Chaitanya appeared to him and told him to keep the fact that He was Krishna confidential. Personally, Ramanujacharya knew about the identity of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Krishna, and he must have informed his confidential associates.
NARMADA SWAMI: There are advanced devotees in other sampradayas who have surrendered to Krishna and who are not envious of Lord Chaitanya but don’t accept Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If someone is actually spiritually advanced, he cannot be envious.
GIRIRAJ SWAMI: True.
MAHAPRABHU DASA: There are some popular speakers in India who talk of love of God and who chant, but they are actually Mayavadis. They are not in any parampara. But they speak very nicely, so how are we to know they are Mayavadis? And when we do find that they are Mayavadis, what do we do?
GIRIRAJ SWAMI: We can understand whether they are Mayavadis or not from their speech. Of course, we have to be able to recognize what is proper Vaishnava philosophy and what is not. Also, almost everyone outside of a proper Vaishnava parampara is a Mayavadi. You rightly found the clue that if the person is not in parampara, he is bound to be impersonal to some extent. Still, some of the people who go to him may be innocent, so we can preach to them. And the man himself may also be innocent. If people are innocent, we can preach to them. But if they are envious, we should avoid them. If they are not coming in proper disciplic succession, they are almost certain to have some influence of Mayavada in them.
VAMANADEVA DASA: I have heard that Lord Chaitanya’s teachings will continue for ten thousand years. Why only ten thousand years?
GIRIRAJ SWAMI: Actually, Lord Chaitanya’s teachings will continue forever. Within the Kali-yuga there will be a golden age of ten thousand years when more and more people will become part of the sankirtana movement. Yet even after the golden age, there will be devotees of Lord Chaitanya, and they will chant the holy names. But their numbers will not be so great. So you are right, as usual: The teachings of Lord Chaitanya will never die. They will continue forever.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ki jaya!
Sri Sri Panca-tattva ki jaya!
Sri Gaura-purnima ki jaya!
[A talk by Giriraj Swami, Gaura-purnima, March 24, 1996, Juhu, Bombay]