Sri Krishna-Chaitanya

by Nisikanta Sanyal | 1933 | 274,022 words | ISBN-10: 818919500X

The present work is an attempt to offer a theistic account in the English language of the career and teachings of Sri Chaitanya (representing the Absolute Truth in His full manifestation). Sri Chaitanya came into this world to make all people understand that in reference to their eternal existence they should have nothing to do with non-Godhead. A...

Chapter 4 - Infancy and Boyhood

But although Sri Gaursundar submitted to be served by the unconscious perfect love of Braja by His parents, relatives, friends and servants, His Divinity was manifested in every Act of His Infancy, unnoticed by anyone. This is the hidden Lila. of Sri Chaitanya. He can never be really known except through His Grace which is available to all jivas who sincerely seek to obtain it.

The Baby continued to keep everybody occupied by His peculiar Ways. The most noticeable of these was that He would begin to cry if He did not hear the loud chant of the Name of Hari. So He was always surrounded by a group of ladies who sang constantly the kirtan in order to keep Him in countenance. The moment they would begin to perform kirtan, the Boy showed every mode of delight and would laugh in the most enchanting manner. They clapped their hands, sang and considered themselves amply repaid by His Sweet Smiles. This was noticed and advertised by everybody as a most extraordinary circumstance. The conduct of the Baby and the devoted attachment of the ladies, who were so loath to leave His Presence form a most striking episode on which all narratives of His Infancy love to dwell with great tenderness.

The Lord used always to lie on His Back surrounded by the ladies, except while He slept. One day Sachi was brought to the room, where the Baby slept, by His waking cry. As she entered the apartment, she was surprised to find the floor of the room littered with all different substances. Oil, ghee, milk, curd, pulse, etc., with broken earthen pots, were all jumbled together in every part of the room. Sachi Devi chanted the Name of Hari in order to pacify the Baby of barely four months, who lay crying in His little bed. She noticed the presence of no other person in the room. Other members of the family presently came to the spot, but no one could discover any trace of an intruder. Some opined that a demon must have found his way into the room but failed to do any harm to the Child by reason of His protective amulet. His failure to harm the Baby had made him angry and commit all the mischief before he fled back to his place. Jagannath Misra on beholding the scene of havoc said nothing, regarding it as an act of the gods. The parents thought in this wise in their joy that no harm had befallen the Baby.

There was some funny incident or other like this every day, to afford an opportunity of service to the parents and others. Their service must not be supposed to be on a level with the activities of worldly people who are always very much attached to their own children. The affection of worldly people for their children, is purely an attachment of the flesh for the flesh that serves to gratify their sensuous instincts. Such affection only rivets the chain of bondage to the thing of this world, all of which are the contrivances of the deluding Energy or non-God. It was not so in this case. The paternal affection, that serves Godhead, is not only altogether different from the apparently similar worldly sentiment, but, on the contrary, is so much opposed in its nature to the latter that the two cannot co-exist in the same heart. One who loves his worldly son, as son, can never realize the nature of the affection of Sri Sachi Devi and Sri Jagannath Misra for Sri Gaursundar, because the worldly passion itself stands in the way of such realization.

The time passed in such pastimes till at last the day of naming the Baby made its appearance. For this purpose there assembled a number of friends versed in the Scriptures, chief of whom was Sri Nilambar Chakravarti. There was also a corresponding gathering of the matrons. The latter declared that the Baby should be called ‘Nimai’ after the ‘Neemtree, for the reason that the bitter taste characteristic of the said tree would repel the god of death who had taken away so many children of His parents, and would also serve to scare away ghosts, demons and other evil spirits. The learned headed by Nilambar Chakravarti agreed to accept the Name ‘Nimai’ as a secondary one, and proposed ‘Viswambhar’ as the primary Name of the Baby. The reason given for their choice of this Name was that the fear of famine, which had threatened the whole country, had been dissipated by the Birth of the Child, which had brought in its train copious showers of rain after a prolonged drought. As the Birth of the Child had saved the world from famine, the Name Viswambhar was appropriate for Him as it means ‘One Who maintains the world’. Another reason for the selection of the Name was that in His horoscope the Boy was described as ‘the Source-light’ which meant that ‘all other lights (of the family) were derived from this One’. The ceremony was performed at an auspicious moment Amidst the holy chant of the Name of Hari, the sound of conches and bells, by men and gods, while the Brahmanas read the Gita and the Bhagavatam.

Naming a baby is one of the ten purificatory rites that are enjoined by the Shastras and are performed by the smartas to free a new-born child from sin due to the impurities of seminal birth from the mother’s womb. The sin as well as its expiatory rite, as contemplated by the smartas, are conceived in terms of material well-being. There is no question in it of the soul, or spiritual consideration. The birth of a bound jiva is no doubt a material circumstance and the smarta rites are also admittedly a material device to ward off certain worldly results of such birth. The material world being the limit of the smarta outlook, a smarta family adheres to those ceremonies in the hope of the mundane reward promised by the sections of the Scriptures that treat of fruitive works and ceremonies. But a Vaishnava has nothing to do with any so-called mundane well-being that has no connection with the soul. Moreover Sri Gaursundar’s Birth, or the birth of any devotee of Godhead, as we have seen already, is never to be considered, for very good reasons, as a temporal affair at all. What, therefore, it may be asked, is the significance of the parents of Sri Gaursundar following the smarta practice that has led the Vaishnava narrators of the Career of Sri Chaitanya to write of it as a praise-worthy performance?

We have already considered a similar objection in connection with the worship of the goddess Sasthi by Sri Sachi Devi. The Vaishnavas regard the presiding deities of this mundane world as servants of Krishna and honour them as such. They do not regard them as independent divinities. They never worship these gods for securing any worldly advantages which are bestowed by them in accordance with the Will of Godhead. The Vaishnavas hold that those gods are not fully-pleased if they are worshipped for worldly favours; and, as servants of Godhead, they are also not entitled to be worshipped on their own account. They are fully and truly served by the worship of Godhead. and, therefore, the Vaishnavas worship only Vishnu. The worship of the goddess Sasthi, who is protectress of new-born babies, in the case of Sri Sachi Devi, did not, however, degenerate into poly theism or atheism for the reason that it happened to be performed for the sake of God Himself. Any act that possesses this characteristic is essentially spiritual. The conduct of Sachi cannot, therefore, serve as a precedent to justify the similar materialistic smarta practices which have nothing to do with Godhead.

The above argument applies to the performance by Sachi of all other Shastric rites also. Those acts being performed for the sake of Godhead Himself are thereby converted into spiritual service of Godhead. Instead of being a cause of further bondage, which is the desired result of the smarta practices, the apparently similar activities of Sri Jagannath Misra and Sri Sachi Devi add new variety of exquisiteness to the service of Godhead, in the shape of parental affection.

The Name Viswambhar should not also be supposed to be on a level with the ordinary names that are bestowed on babies on this occasion by the smarta priests. The reason for the choice of the Name, as given out by Sri Nilambar Chakravarti, the great astrologer of Nabadwip of his day, has been already reproduced. That statement deliberately conceals, under metaphorical garb, the Truth that revealed Himself clearly to him. The Name ‘Viswambhar’ is a wellknown Shastric Name of the Divinity. The Name refers specifically to the Acts of two Avataras of Vishnu, vis., the Varaha ( Boar) and the Hayagriba (Horseheaded). The Former lifted with His Tusk the world submerged by the Deluge, while the Latter rescued the Vedas when they were on the point of being suppressed by materialistic learning. Anyone with a slight acquaintance with the Scriptures would, in thinking of Godhead, connect these events with the Name ‘Viswambhar’. The Name ‘Nimai’, intended to scare away premature death and all fear, is also perfectly applicable to Godhead. But this is not all. Gargacharya, who calculated the Name of Sri Krishna, is described in the Bhagavatam as being the greatest of those who know the Brahman and was selected for this reason by King Nanda to choose the Name of his New-born Son. In fact no one who has not access to the spiritual realm, can know the Name of the Divinity.

The Holy Name of Godhead is eternal and is identical with Godhead Himself. In the case of Godhead there is no difference between Name, Form, Quality, Acts and Associates, as we find on the finite plane in the case of conditioned souls. The eternal Name of God, who manifested Himself to the pure consciousness of Sri Gargacharya, made Himself known to the people of this world under the guise of the ceremony of Naming the Divine Baby, for the highest benefit of the conditioned souls. The Names Visambhar and Nimai similarly made Themselves known through Sri Nilambar Chakravarti and the pure-hearted matrons, not to cleanse the so-called impurities of birth of the material body of a new-born child which is the object of the smarta ceremony, but in order to bless the whole world by making it possible for all conditioned souls to take the Holy Names of Godhead, identical with Godhead Himself and having the specific power, if taken without offense, i.e., with the object of realizing one’s eternally loving relationship with God, to deliver all fallen jivas from the bondage of this world.

Sri Gargacharya disclosed the Names Rama and Krishna, the most cherished Treasures of his heart that was eternally illuminated with Their Divine Radiance, confidentially to a few devotees only, lest They came to the ears of atheists like Kamsa who might be betrayed into the offense of confounding Them with ordinary appellations of things of this world. The shloka of the Bhagavata embodying the statement of Garga on this subject, also contains one of the few direct explicit references to the Appearance of Krishna in the Kali Age. The shloka may be quoted at this place: ‘This Son of yours, O Nanda, assumes different Colours in the different Ages. His Colour is White in the Satya Age, Red in the Treta, and Gaura, i.e., Yellow tinctured with Red, in the Kali Age. His Colour in this present Age (Dvapara) is Black as you see.’

On the occasion of naming a baby there is an old custom of putting to the newborn child a variety of articles to induce him to choose any of them, in order to ascertain the natural bent of the infant. In pursuance of this time-honoured custom a number of objects were held out to Nimai, such as unhusked rice, books, fried rice, cowrie, gold, silver, etc. Sri Jagannath Misra then called upon the Child to choose whichever of them He liked. Nimai clasped the Bhagavatam tightly to His Bosom. Some said that it was a very good augury and prognosticated that the Child would be a great Pandit. Others said He would be a Vaishnava and would easily understand the meaning of the Scriptures. The preference shown for the Bhagavatam by Nimai may be explained as meaning that the acquisition of the riches of this world and even the maintenance of the body should not be valued for their own sake and that the unalloyed service of the Lord, which is expounded in the Bhagavata, is the one thing needful and includes all the rest.

This old custom may be interpreted as supplying a clue to another matter of importance. Why was it necessary for the father, the natural guardian of the infant, to try to ascertain the tendency of his new-born Child? If the boy had chosen gold and silver, or fried rice, what inference would be drawn? Would such inference have any effect on the future of the Boy? If the son of a Brahmana is supposed to possess the nature of a Brahmana by reason of seminal birth, why should he be again subjected to a further test based on a different principle? How was the varna (disposition) of a Brahmana really settled in very old times? In the case of Nimai it was comparatively easy by the above test to arrive at a favourable conclusion. The Bhagavatam has been declared to be the exposition of the holy Gayatri, the mantram, the knowledge of which is essential for the Brahmana. The choice of the Bhagavatam by Nimai, therefore, clearly would mark Him out as possessing the natural disposition of a Brahmana.

If seminal birth had been sufficient by itself to confer the varna of a Brahmana, there would have been no meaning of the ceremony of spiritual purification by Gayatri; nor would the latter process be significantly styled the second birth. The texts support the view that the varna of a Brahmana has to be fixed by natural disposition. There is also no text that attaches exclusive value to the seminal birth for the ascertainment of natural disposition. There are also many actual cases of the condition (varna) of a Brahmana having been acquired by persons who were not born in Brahmana families. Conversely we find that all the sons of a Brahmana did not necessarily become Brahmanas in every case. The varna of the one hundred sons of Rshabha Deva was settled by their respective dispositions. Some of them were found to be Kshatriyas, some were recognized as Brahmanas, while many were declared to be Vaishyas. The status of each was settled by the Father Who is Avatara of the Divinity. The bad effects and futility of trying to fix the spiritual status (varna) of a Brahmana by birth alone are most vividly brought out in the career of Prahlada on whom his father Hiranyakashipu tried forcibly to impose his own creed and occupation with the help of ‘hereditary’ preceptors.

The effects of heredity and education in forming one’s disposition are overvalued by those who try to deduce everything from them. Heredity itself is a complex matter and runs backward in an endless ramification of ancestry through father and mother. No empiric pronouncement on the basis of heredity can be made, unless the nature of the whole of these two series is definitely known. Education, in so far as it tries to artificially widen our worldly experience, is also most uncertain in its operation on disposition. Seminal birth has been considered by the most ambitious of its modern empiric protagonists as decisive in settling one’s physical and mental disposition that are closely interconnected. In our old Scriptures seminal birth as well as secular and even empiric knowledge of the Scriptures are categorically differentiated from the Gayatri birth and the transcendental knowledge respectively. The latter is nowhere declared as capable of being derived, or even helped in any way, by the former. The natural disposition of a Brahmana, that is conferred by the purificatory ceremony of the Gayatri mantram, and the transcendental knowledge, that is the result of initiation by the spiritual preceptor, refer to the soul and have nothing to do with the secondary enveloping disposition that manifests itself, when the soul is engrossed in, i.e., incompatibly associated with, matter. Brahmanahood, according to the Mahabharatam, means the condition of a person possessing the disposition that seeks to realize the nature of the soul and accordingly the status of a Brahmana should be conferred only on those persons in whom such disposition manifests itself, and by no other consideration.

The spiritual status of the Brahmana cannot be tested and settled By any one who does not himself possess the realized Brahmana disposition, that is to say, by no one except the spiritual preceptor. The purificatory rite is the authoritative recognition by the Guru of the possession of such disposition by the disciple. The recognition by the Guru also serves to bring into play the spiritual disposition. By mechanically mimicking the external rite, only confusion is caused, as it has been caused in the past, and is being still caused, by the unprincipled ambitions of men who are inordinately proud of their high lineage and worldly qualities. Unless the superior status corresponds to the internal disposition there can be no proper subordination of the worldly to the spiritual interest which is sought to be effected by the varnashrama organization under the lead of the Brahmanas. This settlement of the status (varna) of a person was made soon after the birth of a child with the help of competent persons in order to provide specific training suited to the particular nature of the new-born child, for inclining him towards the spiritual life from the very beginning of his worldly sojourn. This may sound far too advanced an arrangement to be achieved in such remote antiquity which modern history teaches us, on no conclusive evidence, to regard as having been universally utterly backward and benighted. Spiritual enlightenment is an eternal affair and has always possessed the inclination as well as capacity of organizing the spiritual community in its minutest details for helping the realization of the theistic ideal. The weakness, that is nowadays noticeable in the historical organization of caste which is regarded as the residual legatee of the varnashrama organization, is due to atheistical preponderance. As the spiritual life slackened its manifestation in this world, the varnashrama organization was increasingly neglected and was replaced by the meaningless, cumbrous and effete cast system. The pseudo-spiritual organization, viz., caste, failed to withstand the persevering onslaughts of organized materialism by means of its proper agents in the shape of the utterly barbarous tribes possessing no spiritual tradition, that dwelt beyond the Indian borderland, who banded together for the purpose of overthrowing a decayed spiritual society. The morale of the Indian people had been completely undermined by the rise of the pseudo-religious systems and practices and by the atheistic speculations of the philosophers, that have already been noticed briefly in a previous chapter.

After India had been subjugated by the brute force of these foreign invaders, attempts were made from time to time by the Vaishnava Acharyas to revive the theistic life in this country, against very great odds, in which they were not, however, permanently successful. This theistic reaction reached its culmination in the Activities of Sri Chaitanya Who propounded the comprehensive system, that provides the true remedy for all the ills of the world, resting on the broad base of the whole body of the spiritual Scriptures. The world is, however, not yet prepared to accept His Teaching in its entirety, although the leading scholars of all the centres of culture in India of His day were decisively vanquished in a series of open controversies. A great literature embodying the true scriptural doctrines was produced and the rejuvenated worship of Godhead was organized and provided with a considerable number of establishments in the form of the noblest shrines. The world was externally shaken by the mighty impulse, but failed to recover from its inner stupor and continued to drift aimlessly under the pilotage of professors of open and concealed atheism who quickly recovered their lead and even exploited the elaborate form of the caste organization that professes to represent the varnashrama institution of the Scriptures, for the propagation of atheism. After the arrival of the Europeans, through the agencies of the newly-established secular universities and an organized industrial and commercial system, the people have been further inoculated with the secular outlook of materialistic civilization of a most thorough-going type. This new outlook is unhesitatingly distrustful of existing social and religious systems of the country and is desirous of real reform but is far too materialistic in itself not to hesitate to welcome the Teaching of Sri Chaitanya, which is based on the Scriptures and which favours the rejuvenation of the theistic varnashrama organization of society.

This digression, if such it may perchance appear to be to the patient reader, from the regular track of our narrative, is necessary in order to prevent misconceptions regarding the Activities of the Infant Chaitanya which are quoted by His pseudo-followers of the present day in justification of their adoption of the current atheistical practices of the smarta caste organization. The associates of Sri Chaitanya, however, arrived at a very different conclusion, that has been stated above, from the Acts of the Lord Himself as the Supreme Teacher by His Own Conduct.

Nimai retained His habit of indulging in frequent fits of crying and would not be consoled by any of the methods that are usually effective in the case of ordinary children. He did not cry for having anything of this world. He used to cry in order to make those around Him chant constantly the Name of Hari. Nimai would laugh and dance in the mother’s lap at the sound of the kirtan of Hari with such extraordinary Grace of Expression and Movement of His Limbs that those, who chanted the Name of Hari to please Him, did so for their own pleasure. Those who are obstinately incredulous about the authenticity of the facts of religious history, need not reject these on the plea of want of contemporary evidence. They were faithfully put into writing by the eternal companions of Sri Chaitanya and none of the numerous enemies and opponents of Sri Chaitanya of that or subsequent Age ever thought of contradicting them on the ground that they were the concoctions of the imagination which should be impossible in the case of a series of great writers, unless they deliberately conspired for stating and accepting as facts the products of their mesmerized imaginations.

Neither can we altogether admire the judgment of those secular historians who may be disposed to regard them as trivial and the explanations of them offered by the associates and followers of Sri Chaitanya, as laboured after-thoughts. To the candid reader the least of these so-called trifles and laboured afterthoughts may perchance possess more value for the real weal and woe of mankind in a proportion that is inversely proportional to the cumulative blighting influence of all the empirical accounts that have ever been written of the authentic deeds of the mighty heroes of this world.

Godhead, when He chooses to sport as Infant, is more fully Divine than when He plays the open role of the Supreme Ruler by His Omnipotence of all these countless worlds. His Activities in either case are, however, alike incomprehensible to the perverted understanding of the conditioned soul who is averse to His service. No Tittle of such Activities has also the least chance of suffering any exaggeration by any amount of our poor and misdirected human praise that may be wrongly lavished upon it. The praise of them that is practiced by the devotees is the only method of enabling us to realize their most wonderful and exclusive fitness for all true praise. This is the kirtan of Krishna and it was this Truth Whom Infant Nimai constantly tried to impress on His attendants through their realized experience of Him, by making them sing constantly the kirtan of Hari without offense, i.e., in order to please the Lord Himself. This is the central subject of the Teaching of Sri Gaursundar, and its importance and early manifestation have accordingly been noted with reverent admiration by those who had been enabled by the Grace of Sri Chaitanya to realize the Highest Truth to Whose service the jiva can aspire to attain by the loving service of the Truth Himself.

Lord Visvambhar now exhibited the Pastime of moving about on His Knees in the yard of Sachi. He sped about on His Knees with the most enchanting art, while the tiny bells on His Waistband made a most delicious music. He roved over the yard most fearlessly and grasped at everything that He saw, whether it was the fire or the venomous serpent.

One day while thus roaming the yard, Nimai actually caught hold of a huge serpent that had found its way into the house. At the touch of the Child’s Hand, the brute immediately coiled up. Viswambhar then quietly laid Himself down on the soft cushion of its coils. The sight of this sent a thrill of horror into the hearts of all who beheld it. In their utter dismay and helplessness they called upon Garuda to save the Child. The parents with many others set up a wail of great agony. Nimai laughed as He lay couched on the coils of the monster. The lamentations of the onlookers at last induced the serpent to move off of its own accord. The Son of Sri Sachi pursued the retreating brute with the intent of catching it again. They dashed at the Child and brought Him away and pressed Him tightly to their bosoms. All the ladies blessed the Child saying, ‘May Thou live for ever’. Some tied protective amulets, some recited texts of benediction, while some fetched the Feet-wash of Vishnu and sprinkled His body therewith. Some said that the Boy was born a second time. Some said that the serpent happened to be of the particular species that did no harm, which was the reason why His life was saved. Gaursundar only went on laughing and frequently essayed to make after the track of the serpent and was as often anxiously brought back by all the people.

The relation of all fearful objects to the Lord is the exact opposite of their relation to the jiva: Godhead is the Source of all fear. He is fear Himself. Mahakala, the Destroyer of all things, is afraid of Him. Those who love the Lord are not, therefore, afraid of anything. Those, who do not trust the Lord and think that the various dreadful objects are not afraid of Him, are necessarily afraid of them. All such fear is condemnable for the reason that it has no reference to Godhead and is, therefore, due to the anxiety for one’s worldly safety. This looking away from Godhead to one’s false self is the cause of all fear and is the reason why such fear is also sordid. The fear of Sachi and Jagannath and of the assembled people for the safety of Nimai does not belong to the category of such sordid fear and is, therefore, an event that deserves to be recorded and was also exhibited by them, by the beneficent contrivance of the Spiritual Power of the Lord, to teach the proper use of the instinct of fear to all ungodly conditioned souls.

Besides providing the opportunity of service to those devotees who did not know, by the force of the beneficent spiritual Power, that He was Godhead Himself, Sri Gaursundar also contrived to receive by this method the perfect homage of the most highly beloved of His fully conscious transcendental servitors whom He wanted to specially favour. Fire and the serpent, that were the causes of the consternation of friends and relatives, were respectively the god who identifies himself with the element of fire and Sri Ananta Deva Who is the Plenary Form of Sri Samkarsana and Who serves as the Couch of the Supreme Lord. Sri Gaursundar chose to receive their service for the purpose of His Pastime on this occasion. The pervert yogi only deludes the people by his display of seeming immunity from mundane fire and serpent in juggling imitation of these Acts of the Lord. Their exhibitions tempt other atheistical people like themselves to follow the method of the astanga yoga for the profane attainment of powers of apparent mastery over Nature. There are also people who are disposed to class Sri Chaitanya and His devotees with these pseudoyogis and explain also Their Performances by the possession of improper yogic powers. But as a matter of fact the display of the pseudo-yogic power is no part of the function of the pure soul taught and practiced by Sri Chaitanya and His associates. The power which the pervert yogi imagines as belonging to himself being acquired by his own meritorious endeavours, is a penal delusion which is as condemnable as the attempt of acquiring any other form of worldly power. It happens to possess the appearance of a superhuman entity in degree and measure, but is, as a matter of fact, only a still more objectionable form of selfish material enjoyment and only a potent means of self-deception or godlessness. For this reason, those, who try to understand the Doings of Sri Gaursundar and His devotees from the point of view of the astanga yoga, obtain, as the due punishment of their selfish labours, a further increase of aversion to Godhead.

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