Chaitanya's Life and Teachings

by Krishna-das Kaviraj | 1922 | 90,709 words

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is revered by devotees as an incarnation of Krishna and Radharani as avatars of the Parmatma, or Supreme Godhead. He was born in an Oriya Hindu family. According to beliefs of orthodox followers Caitanya Mahaprabhu united in himself two aspects: ecstatic devotee of Krishna and Krishna himself in inseparable union with Radha....

Chapter XXIII - The Master teaches His disciples at Puri; the meeting with Sanátan


Author's words in commencing the Last Acts (Antya Lila):—"I bow to the Lord God Krishna-Chaitanya, whose grace enables a cripple to cross mountains and a dumb man to recite the scriptures. I am blind; this path is difficult, and I am again and again stumbling on it. May the saints be my support by lending me the staff of their compassion!

"I adore the feel of my six gurus,—Rup, Sanátan, Raghunath Bhatta, Jiv, Gopal Bhatta, and Raghunath-das,—who will remove evil (from my path) and fulfil my desire. In the Madhya Lila I have given a brief outline of the Antya Lila. I am now stricken with the decrepitude of age, and know death to be near. Therefore, I write in detail such acts of the Antya Lila as have not been described before."

When the Master returned from Brindában to Niláchal, Swarup Goswámi sent word of it to Bengal. Shachi rejoiced to hear of it; all the bhaktas rejoiced. They all set off for Niláchal. The men of Kulin village and the men of Khand all joined Acharya Shivananda. Shivananda Sen undertook to pass them through the police out posts (gháti) of the road, looked after them, and secured lodgings for them. When they arrived at Niláchal, they all met the Master, as in past years. At the end of four months, the Master sent the bhaktas back to Bengal.

Every year the Bengali adorers used to come, meet the Master, and then return home. From other provinces, too, people used to come to Jagannáth-Puri and attain the bliss of gazing at the feet of Chaitanya. But there were many householders who could not come. For their salvation the Master inspired worthy disciples in those countries with His own force, and thus all countries were made Vaishnav.

Bhagabán Acharya, a great Vaishnav, very learned and high-born (árya), lived at Jagannáth-Puri, seeking the Master's company, as the cow-boys [of Mathura did Krishna's]. He was a comrade of Swarup Goswámi, and took absolute refuge at the feet of Chaitanya. At times he used to invite the Master and made Him dine alone in his house.

One day, when the Acharya had bidden the Master to dinner at his house, he called the Master's chanter, the Lesser Haridas, and told him to bring on his behalf a maund of white rice from the sister of Shikhi Mahiti. She was named Madhavi Devi, an old anchorite and devout Vaishnav. At his meal the Master praised the rice and learnt that it had been supplied by Madhavi through the Lesser Haridas. When He returned to His lodgings, he ordered Govinda to exclude Haridas from the place from that day onwards.

Haridas grieved at the Master's doors being closed to him. For three days he fasted. None knew the reason of his exclusion. Then Swarup and others asked the Master, who replied, "I cannot look at the face of a bairagi who speaks to a woman. Our passions are hard to control and take hold of their natural objects of gratification. Even the wooden statue of a woman can steal the heart of an ascetic." (They prayed for His pardon, but in vain. When even Puri Goswámi interceded for Haridas, the Master in anger threatened to leave His disciples there and migrate alone to Alalnath). At the sight of Haridas's punishment, terror seized all the bhaktas. They gave up conversing with women even in dreams.

Thus did Haridas pass a year, and yet the Master did not feel any grace for him. So, one night Haridas bowed to the Master [from a distance] and went away to Allahabad without telling anybody. He concentrated his mind on attaining to the Master's feet [in the next life] and gave up his life by plunging into the junction of the three rivers, (Triveni at Allahabad).

An Oriya Brahman boy, handsome, gentle of manner, but fatherless, used to visit the Master at Puri daily, bow to Him and hold converse with Him. The Master was as life unto him, and he enjoyed the Master's favour. Damodar could not bear to see this attachment, and again and again forbade the boy [to come]. But he could not live without seeing the Master; he came daily and the Master showed him great love; it is natural for a boy to come where he meets with love.

The sight grieved Damodar, but he could not say any thing as the boy heeded not his prohibition. One day the boy visited the Master, who lovingly inquired after his [health]. After a time the boy left. Damodar could not contain himself any longer, but burst out with, "In other connections you are called a Goswámi. We shall soon know what sort of Goswámi you are! All men will soon sing the praise of our Goswámi! His reputation will be now established at Puri!"

The Master, hearing it, asked, "What is this that you are talking, Damodar?" The man replied, "You are a free God. You act as you please. Who can forbid you? But who can shut the mouth of the garrulous world? You are a wise man. Why then do you not reflect deeply? Why do you love a widow's son? True, she is chaste and an ascetic; but she has the faults of being beautiful and young. You too are youthful and extremely handsome. This will give an opportunity to scandal-mongers to whisper."

Damodar ceased speaking. The Master, pleased at heart, smiled and reflected, thinking "This is a current of the purest love. I have no well-wisher like Damodar."

Another day, the Master took Damodar aside and said, "Damodar, go to Navadwip, and stay there with my mother. I do not see any other guardian for her than you. You have warned me even! I have no candid friend like you among my followers. Unless a man is candid (lit., impartial), virtue cannot be guarded. You have done something which even I cannot do. You have reprimanded me, what shall we say of others? Go to my mother's house and remain at her feet. In your presence nobody can act freely. Come here occasionally to see me, and then return there quickly. Convey to mother my millions of salutation. Make her happy with the news of my happiness. Say that I have sent you to her to tell her constantly of me. So saying delight her heart."

(The miracles of the Vaishnav saint Haridas Thakur, not translated).

When Rup Goswámi, after visiting the Master at Puri, went to Bengal for returning to Brindában, his brother Sanátan came from Mathura to Niláchal. He travelled by the Jharikhand jungles (Santal parganas), now fasting, now chewing [dry grains]. Scabs broke out on his skin from the bad water of Jharikhand and the irregularity of diet, and exudations ran down his body.

On the way he sadly reflected, "I belong to a low caste. My body is vile. I shall fail to see the Master when I go to Puri. He lives, I hear, near the temple. But I dare not go near it, as the servitors of Jagannáth are constantly passing there on business and it will be a sin if I [accidentally] touch them. Therefore, I shall renounce my body by throwing myself under the wheels of Jagannáth's car when the god is taken out in the car procession; thus shall I attain at a holy place relief from my pangs and the salvation of my soul."

So resolving, he came to Niláchal and alighted at Haridas's place. He bowed at the feet of Haridas, who learning his name embraced him. His heart yearned for the sight of the Master. Haridas assured him that He would soon come.

The Master, after witnessing the Upala-bhog of Jagannáth, came there with His disciples to meet Haridas. The two prostrated themselves at His feet. The Master raised Haridas and embraced him. Haridas said, "Here is Sanátan, bowing to you." The Master looked at Sanátan with interest and advanced to embrace him, while Sanátan ran backwards shouting, "Touch me not, Master, I beseech Thee. I am of low caste, and in addition my skin is running with exudations." But the Master embraced him by force, and His fair body was stained with Sanátan's sores. He introduced all His disciples to Sanátan, who bowed at their feet. With them all the Master sat down on the raised terrace, while Haridas and Sanátan sat below. He inquired after Sanátan's health, who replied "My supreme bliss is that I have gazed on Thy feet." The Master then asked about the Vaishnavs of Mathura, and Sanátan reported that they were well.

The Master said, "Rup [your brother] was here for ten months, and he left for Bengal only ten days ago. Your [youngest] brother Anupam has died on the bank of the Ganges. He was a staunch devotee of Ram." Sanátan replied, "I have been born in a low family; All sorts of wickedness and wrongdoing were my hereditary burden. Such a family thou hast accepted, without scorning it! My whole family has been blessed by thy grace. This Anupam was devoted to Ram-worship from his childhood. Day and night he used to meditate on the name of Ram, hear the Ramayan read, and chant it. He used to live with Rup and myself constantly and listen with us to Krishna's deeds and the Bhágabat. We one day tested him saying, Listen, dear, Krishna is very delicious; he abounds in beauty, sweetness, love, and grace. Do you, therefore, adore Krishna in our company. We three brothers shall dwell together in the delights of discourses on Krishna. So we two urged him again and again. Our influence turned his mind a little and he responded, How long can I resist your command? Initiate me in the mantra and I shall adore Krishna [in future]. So saying, he paced up and down all the night, waking and crying how he could leave Ram's feet. Next morning he told us, I have sold my head to the feet of Ram, and it pains me excessively to draw my head away thence, Have mercy on me and permit me to worship Ram's feet birth after birth. Then we two embraced him and praised him saying noble is the firmness of thy faith. Master, when you bless a family, it enjoys every good, and all its troubles, disappear."

The Master replied, "Just in the same way did I test Murari Gupta before. That bhakta is noble who does not leave his Lord's feet. That Master is blessed who does not abandon his own devotee. It is well that you have come here. Dwell in the same house with Haridas."

One day the Master came there, as was his daily wont, to meet the two, and began abruptly to speak, "Sanátan! If giving up life could have made one gain Krishna, I could have sacrificed my life a million times over in a moment. It is not by courting death but by adoration that we can gain Krishna. There is no other way of gaining him than bhakti. Suicide and the like are a low dark (támas) kind of dharma. But the támas and rajas kinds of dharma cannot give us the essence of Krishna. Without bhakti there cannot be love, and without love Krishna cannot be attained.

"Suicide and the like are a támas dharma, and the cause of sin; through them a devotee cannot attain to Krishna's feet. The loving bhakta wishes to quit his body when separated from his Lord; but when love has brought Krishna to him, he cannot think of death.

"Give up your evil intention and listen to the kirtan, and soon will you get the treasure of love for Krishna. Even a low-caste man is not unfit to adore Krishna. Even a well-born Brahman is not, [merely by reason of his birth] worthy to adore him. He who adores is great; the man wanting in devotion is low and despicable. In the worship of Krishna there is no distinction of caste or pedigree. The Lord is more gracious to the lowly, while the high-born, the learned, and the rich are too proud [in His eyes]. "Among the methods of adoration the chief are the nine kinds of bhakti, which is most potent in giving us, Krishna's love, even Krishna himself. The highest of these is nám-sankirtan, chanting the Name. Chant the Name with a pure soul and you will win the treasure of divine love!"

Sanátan marvelled when he heard all this, thinking "The Master is omniscient. He has divined my plan of suicide and forbidden it." Then he clasped the Master's feet, crying, "You are omniscient, gracious, free, and God. I move like a wooden machine as you turn my handle. I am lowly, a wretch, and wicked of disposition. What would you gain by keeping me alive?"

The Master replied, "Your body is my property. You have given yourself up to me. How dare you think of destroying what is another's property? Cannot you distinguish between a crime and a just deed? Your body is my chief instrument; with it I shall carry out many purposes. The exposition of the nature of devotion, the devotee and Krishna-prem, the duties and daily practices of Vaishnavs, the establishing of devotion to Krishna, love for Krishna and service, the restoration of forgotten holy places, the teaching of asceticism, the preaching of this faith at Mathura and Brindában which are my favourite places, all these I wish for. But by my mother's command I live at Niláchal, and therefore I cannot preach the religion at Mathura in person. The body by means of which I want to do all these works, you want to give up. How can I allow it?"

At this Sanátan said, "I bow to thee. Who can fathom the depths of thy heart? As the juggler makes the wooden puppet dance, while it knows not what it plays or what it sings, so, too, does the man whom you inspire, dance with out knowing why he is dancing or through whom."

Thereafter the Master embraced the two and left for His home to do His noontide devotions.

Haridas mourned to Sanátan, "None can be compared with you in good fortune. The Master has declared your body to be His own property. He will do through you at Mathura the work that He cannot do in His own person. Through you He will compose the exegetics of bhakti, and lay down its scriptures and practices. [Alas!] my body has been of no service to the Master. My body, though born in the [holy] land of Bhárat, has become futile."

But Sanátan consoled him saying, "Who else is your equal? Among the Master's followers you are the most fortunate. The work of His incarnation is the preaching of the Name, and that work He does through you. Daily do you chant the Name three hundred thousand times. Before all do you hold forth on the glory of the Name."

The Bengal bhaktas came on pilgrimage, as before, on the occasion of the Car festival, and stayed with the Master for the four months of the monsoon. The Master introduced to them Sanátan who bowed at their feet and they favoured him. His excellent character and [deep] scholarship endeared Sanátan to all.

In the month of Jyaishtha the Master went to Yameshwar Tota (garden) to dine at the entreaty of His bhaktas. At noon He called for Sanátan, who delighted to hear of it, and went to Him by way of the sea-beach. He reached the Master with his two feet blistered [by the hot sand].

The Master asked "By what route have you come, Sanátan?" He replied, "By the sea-side." Then the Master said, "Why did you come over the hot sand? Why did you not take the cool path before the Lion Gate (singhá-dwár)? The hot sand has blistered your feet. You cannot walk; how could you bear the journey?"

Sanátan replied, "It was no great hardship. I did not feel that my feet were being blistered. I am not entitled to pass by the singhá-dwár road, especially, as the servitors of the god Jagannáth frequently pass along it and it would be a disaster if I touch any of them."

The Master's heart was pleased to hear of it, and He began to tell Sanátan, "Though you are the saviour of the world and your touch can purify even the gods and sages, yet it is the sign of a [true] bhakta to respect the dignity [of rank or caste]. It is an ornament to a sadhu's character to observe distinctions (maryádá) of rank. Not to do so is to court public ridicule and to destroy one's own earthly life and spiritual welfare as well."

Sanátan's body was covered with running eruptions. The Master embraced him in spite of prohibition, and His body was stained with the exudation, at which Sanátan grieved.

But the Master said, "The body of a Vaishnav is not material. It is supra-physical and full of the chit and ánanda of bhakti. At the time of his initiation the bhakta surrenders himself to Krishna, who then renders him equal to his own self, and fills the body with his own chit and ánanda. The Lord Krishna has visited Sanátan's body with sores only to test me. If I had in disgust refused to embrace him, I should have been guilty in the eyes of Krishna."

So saying, He embraced Sanátan again, and lo! the sores disappeared and his body assumed a golden hue!

After the dol-yatrá he was given leave to depart to Brindában with minute instructions as to what he should do there to propagate the faith. [A long list of the Vaishnav literature produced by Rup, Sanátan, and their nephew Jiv, the son of their youngest brother Vallabh Anupam,—not translated here].

Footnotes and references:


Chapters XXIII-XXVII are taken from the Antya Lila or Third Book of the text.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: