Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, had mercifully appeared at Yogpeeth (in Mayapur) about 500 years ago (in the year 1486 AD). The appearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is celebrated as ‘Gaura Purnima’ by the Gaudiya Vaishnava devotees worldwide. The word ‘Yoga’ means ‘connection’ and the term ‘Yogpeeth’ denotes the place where the Supreme Lord connects with or descends into this material world. The identity of Lord Chaitanya as the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be verified in several Vedic scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, Garuda Purana, Nrsimha Purana, Padma Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Narada Purana, etc. We are quoting just two of such references below, for the pleasure of the devotees.
aham purno bhavisyami yuga sandhyau visesatah
mayapure navadvipe bhavisyami saci sutah
Translation – In the future, in first part of Kali yuga, I shall appear in my complete spiritual form at Mayapura, Navadvipa and become the son of Saci.
The mission of the Lord, along with a description of His golden complexion and how He descends with His confidential associates in this age of Kali, to initiate the Sankirtana Yajna is revealed in Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) –
Krishna varnam tvishakrishnam sangopangastra-parsadam
yajnaih sankirtana prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32)
Gaura Purnima – The dire situation of Navadvipa before Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had appeared:
Before Lord Chaitanya had appeared in Navadvipa, its residents were largely preoccupied with material pursuits. People were egoistic about their material possessions and lacking in God consciousness. Those who engaged in discussing Bhagavad Gita or Srimad Bhagavatam, did not touch upon its essence of devotional service. The holy names of Krishna were nowhere to be heard in the entire town of Navadvipa. Being absorbed in the illusory potency of the Lord, people remained in forgetfulness of their eternal master. They misused their wealth in extravagant wedding ceremonies of their children.
Dambha kari visya-hari puje kon yana
Puttali karoye keho diya bahu dhana
Dhana nashto kare putra kanyara bibhaya
Eimata jagatera byartha kala yaya
(Chaitanya Bhagavata, Adi, 2.65-66)
Feeling pity upon these suffering souls, the devotees prayed to Lord Krishna for their deliverance. Sri Advaita Acharya, who is fifty years elder to Lord Chaitanya, was one such devotee.Sri Advaita was the combined incarnation of the potencies of Sada Shiva and Lord Mahavishnu.Seeing the people of the world completely immersed in material activities and suffer greatly the pangs of material miseries, Advaita Acharya became deeply pained at heart.Overwhelmed with compassion, He began teaching Bhagavad gita and Srimad Bhagavatam, by explaining their purports in accordance to the science of devotional service, and decrying the paths of philosophical speculation and fruitive activities.Srila Haridasa Thakura , Srivasa Pandita and several other elderly vaishnavas, regularly congregated at Advaita Prabhu’s house and discussed the glories of the Supreme Lord together. Visvarupa, an expansion of Lord Balaram and the elder brother of Lord Chaitanya, was also among those who graced His audience.
gita bhagavata kahe acharya gosai
jnana-karma nindi kare bhaktira badai
(Chaitanya Caritamrta, Adi , 13.64)
In Sri Chaitanya Mangala it has been recorded that the sad state of affairs of the entire world at that time, caused deep anguish within the heart of Narada muni, a close associate of the Supreme Lord.
Para dukhe katara narada mahamuni
Krishna-katha rasha-gaan dibasha rajani
Krishnakatha lobhe bule samsara bhramiya
Na shunila Krishna-nama jagata chahiya
(Chaitanya Mangala, Sutra Khanda, 2.27-28)
Sri Narada Muni, who always sang the nectarian pastimes of Lord Krishna day and night, felt deeply distressed observing the miseries of others. To give out the holy names of Sri Krishna, Narada muni wandered throughout the universe.But the people of this world, being too attached to their material possessions, were not eager to accept the holy names.
The great sage Narada could not hear the chanting of the holy names of Krishna, even after wandering throughout the entire world. He grew greatly astonished. He began thinking of ways and means of delivering the suffering people. Narada thought, “The venomous snake of Kali has bitten everyone and as a result, the people of this world are aflame and mesmerized by their illusory pride. Being solely devoted unto their genitals and belly, the people of this world have totally forgotten Krishna. Their heart is continuously afflicted with the poison of greed, fascination, lust, anger, intoxication, pride, and they needlessly live the philosophy of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. But they cannot make out who they are and what is actually theirs”.Seeing the miserable condition of the people in general in this age of Kali, the great sage Narada, became thoughtful and began considering. Finding no other way to rescue the people, Narada came wandering to the gates of Dwarka, the abode of the Supreme Lord.
Aichhana lokera dukha dekhi mahamuni
Antare chintita haiya mone mone guni
Ghor kalikaale lokera na dekhi nistara
Bhromite bhromite gela Dwarkara daar
(Chaitanya Mangala, Sutra Khanda, 2.37-38)
Advaita Acharya’s prayers causes the descent of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu :
Sri Advaita Acharya is also known as Gaura-ana Thakura, or who has caused the Supreme Lord Gaurahari to descend into this world. Seeing the degraded condition of people, Advaita Thakura began to consider how they could be delivered from the clutches of Maya. He concluded that only Lord Krishna Himself can liberate these souls from their suffering. Sri Advaita Prabhu thought that His name ‘Advaita’ would befit Him, only if He could cause the Supreme Lord to descend in this world and inaugurate the Harinama sankirtana movement. He knew very well that Lord Krishna becomes indebted to His devotee and sells Himself to one who merely offers Him Tulasi leaf and a palmful of water. Considering this, Sri Advaita Prabhu began worshipping the Supreme Lord with Tulasi leaves and Ganges water, calling for Him to descend, in His loud voice. The place where Sri Advaita Acharya used to worship His Saligrama sila with Tulasi and Ganges water, is presently known as ‘Babla’ (Advaita Thakura’s sripat at Santipur) and is situated not very far from the Santipur railway station.
Tulasi manjari sahita ganga-jale
Niravadhi seve Krishne maha kutuhale
Hunkara karoye Krishna-abeshera tyeje
Ye dhvani Brahmanda bhedi Vaikuntha te baje
(Chaitanya Bhagavata, Adi, 2.81-82)
He (Advaita Acharya) incessantly served Lord Krishna with the help of Tulasi Manjari and Ganges water. Being empowered by the strength of Lord Krishna, He roared loudly. The sound of His loud roars penetrated the coverings of this material universe and resounded in Vaikuntha (spiritual world).
Celestial pastimes of Lord Chaitanya – Lord Krishna’s confidential revelations to Narada Muni in Dwarka :
Back in the spiritual world, Lord Krishna enquired from Narada muni regarding the cause of his sorrows. Narada muni expressed himself and answered,” The songs celebrating Your exalted qualities are my nectarian foodstuffs. Hankering to preach Your glories, I traversed the world of birth and death. But I could not hear the chants of Your holy name traveling through the entire material world. Being absorbed in material activities, the people have forgotten You. Being intoxicated and enchanted with pride, the entire world has become devoid of Krishna. This is the cause of my sorrow. I see no means of delivering these (conditioned) people. This is the thought that keeps disturbing my mind”. Hearing Narada’s words, Lord Krishna smiled. He reminded Narada of an earlier vow He had made to devi Katyayani (Goddess Durga) about offering His Mahaprasadam and His causeless mercy unto all denizens of the material world. The Lord added that Rukmini devi had recently enlightened Him about the glories of pure devotional service unto Himself. Rukmini devi had previously revealed how the pure devotees forsake all of their interests, including attachment to their own existence, desire for liberation, etc for the sake of serving the Supreme Lord. One, who lives to drink and relish the nectar of the Lord’s lotus feet, cares for neither day nor night nor any passing season.Hearing Rukmini devi’s words, Lord Krishna had developed an unsatiated desire to taste the ecstatic bliss of His own love. This was something that bewildered even the Supreme Lord and He craved to experience this first hand, especially the deep ecstatic love that Srimati Radharani felt for Him.He wanted to understand how He was a reservoir of all sweetness and the attraction that drove His devotees crazy. Lord Krishna hence announced –
Bhunjibo Premar shukh, bhunjaibo loke
Deena bhab prakash kariba kaliyuge
Bhakata yanera sange bhakati kariya
Nija prema bilaiba isvara haiya
(Chaitanya Mangala, Sutrai, 2.101-102)
(Sri Krishna continued) ‘I shall relish the bliss of My own ecstatic love, and I shall make the others taste this ecstasy as well. I shall manifest a form filled with humility in this kaliyuga. Along with the other devotees , I shall engage in devotional service and in the process ,I, the Supreme personality of Godhead, shall freely distribute the ecstatic love for Me to one and all’.
Nija guna sankirtana prakash kariba
Navadvipe Saci-grihe janama lobhibo
Gaura dirgha kalebara, bahu janu-sama
Sumeru sundara tanu ati anupama
(Chaitanya Mangala, Sutrai, 2.103-104)
‘I shall manifest the congregational chanting of my glories. I shall take My birth at the house of Saci devi in Navadvipa. My body shall be fair and long ,with my arms reaching up to my knees. The matchless form of mine shall be as beautiful as Mount Sumeru’.
Speaking thus, Lord Krishna manifested His form as Lord Gauranga beholding which Narada muni became overwhelmed with divine rapture. The form of the Lord was as glorious as Mount Sumeru and saturated with pure ecstatic love. Locana das writes in Sri Chaitanya Mangala that this was the first time that the form of Lord Gauranga had been manifest.Beholding the wonderful form of Lord Gauranga, Narada muni felt ecstatic in his heart. A thousand streams of tears gushed from his eyes. The beauty of the Lord resembled the radiance of millions of moons and He shone like a million of effulgent suns. His majestic form was as beautiful as millions of cupids combined together. Lord Krishna roared :
Ghosona karoho shiva brahma adi loke
Gaura avatara muin haba Kaliyuge
Guna sankirtana nama prakash kariba
Nija bhakti prema-rasa sukh prachariba
(Chaitanya Mangala, Sutrai, 2.113-114)
(Lord krishna continued) ‘Announce at the residences of Shiva, Brahma, and all the other celestial planets, that I would advent as Lord Gauranga in the age of kali. I shall propagate the congregational chanting of My name and qualities. I shall preach the bliss of tasting the ecstatic love obtained by rendering devotional service unto Me’.
Sri Chaitanya Mangala records the confidential reasons behind Lord Gauranga’s appearance.
Shata shata shakha, bhaktipathe nahi shima
Ekmukh hauk lok, prachariba prema
Nija nija bhakta-jana ara parishad
Prithivi janam giya premabhakti swadh
(Chaitanya Mangala, Sutrai, 2.115-116)
(Lord Krishna continued) “There are presently hundreds and hundreds of branches on the path of devotional service. There is no end to this. I would preach pure love unto the Supreme Lord and unite all these people.Along with all my devotees and associates, I shall appear on earth. I shall relish the taste of ecstatic loving service unto Myself”.
Jagannatha Misra & Saci Mata – Lord Chaitanya’s parents :
Sri Jagannatha Misra was born in ‘Dhaka Dakshin’, a small village situated in the northern Bangladesh district of Sylhet. His grandfather Sri Madhu Misra had four sons – Upendra, Kirtida,Rangada and Kirtivasa. Sri Jagannatha Misra was the fifth son of Upendra Misra and Kalavati devi. Sri Upendra and Kalavati devi had six other sons – Kamsari, Paramananda, Padmanabha, Sarveshvara, Janardana and Trailokyanath. According to Gaura Gannodesha Dipika, Sri Upendra Misra was the incarnation of Parjanya, Krishna’s grandfather, while Sri Jagannatha Misra was the combined incarnation of Nanda Maharaj, Vasudeva (the king of yadus) ,Dasaratha, and Kasyapa muni. After spending his childhood in Sylhet, Jagannatha Misra moved to Navadvipa to gain higher education under the tutelage of Nilambara Chakravarty, a renowned scholar of the day. He subsequently settled in Navadvipa after marrying Nilambara Chakravarty’s daughter, Saci devi. Gaura Gannodesha Dipika states that Saci devi ,Jagannatha Misra’s wife, was the combined incarnation of the potencies of Devaki, Yashoda, Aditi and Kaushalya.Jagannatha Misra and Saci mata, were the supremely fortunate parents of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the deliverer of the three worlds.
Appearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Gaura Purnima) :
Srimati Saci devi had conceived eight daughters before but sadly, all of them died mysteriously just after their birth. Thereafter Saci Mata conceived Visvarupa, Nimai’s elder brother in her womb, and after His birth, both parents were a bit comforted. Visvarupa was an expansion of Lord Balarama, and He had prepared the womb to make way for the Supreme Lord.
Locana das Thakura records in Chaitanya Mangala how the chants of ‘Jai Jai !’ resounded the universe when Lord Gaurahari appeared in the womb of mother Saci. The demigods, Nagas, and humans looked on with eyes painted with love. Some describe Him as the divine effulgence, some call Him the subtle form of Narayana, while some identify Him as the Supreme Brahman. That same Supreme person had sought shelter in the womb of mother Saci. Day by day, mother Saci’s womb expanded in size and grew more radiant. Seeing this the whole world became joyful. People started respecting and offering gifts to Jagannatha Misra wherever he went. After six months, the radiance from Saci devi’s womb illuminated her entire house.
Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata narrates how the demigods headed by Lord Brahma visited Yogpeeth (the residence of Jagannatha Misra) everyday and glorified the unborn baby in mother Saci’s womb. The demigods expressed, ‘That Supreme Lord who is the shelter of infinite universes has now manifested Himself in the womb of mother Saci. Who can comprehend Your divine will? Creation, maintenance, and destruction of this world are nothing but Your pastimes. Only You are fully aware of the purpose behind Your divine appearance. Empowered by Your divine instructions, each of Your servants possess the power to deliver countless universes. Yet You choose to descend Yourself to preach the science of pure devotion. In the process, You glorify the earth by Your descent’. The demigods glorified and recounted the divine pastimes of the various incarnations of the Supreme Lord. They also narrated the astonishing pastimes that Lord Gaurahari was about to manifest – how He would preach Harinama Sankirtana and be instrumental in distributing the holy name of the Lord throughout the world. The demigods added,’ O Lord! You shall engage Yourself in dancing to the tune of Harinama along with Your eternal associates. When the feet of Your associates touch the ground, they drive away all inauspiciousness from the earth. When they raise their hands in Harinama Sankirtana, all the obstacles from heaven are cast away’. The demigods continued,’You shall perform Kirtana along with Your devotees. Who can have the power to describe the glories of this wondrous pastime? You will freely distribute the greatest treasure of Krishna Prema to one and all. This treasure is so carefully concealed in the Vedas. All of us crave to obtain this elusive wealth because it is so rare. But You are now about to distribute this freely upon the earth. This is all due to Your causeless mercy’. They prayed for His mercy and hankered to witness His magnanimous pastimes in Navadvipa.
One of these days, Sri Advaita Acharya came to pay a visit to Saci Mata. Seeing Advaita, Sri Jagannatha Misra and Saci devi greeted Him and offered Him a seat. They took the dust from His lotus feet and brought water to wash them. Seeing Saci devi, Sri Advaita acharya stood up. With tearful eyes and voice choked with emotions, He swayed in ecstasy. Advaita Prabhu then circumambulated Saci Mata’s womb. Paying His obeisances He worshipped Saci Mata with flowers and Chandana. This incident took Jagannatha Misra and Saci devi with surprise but when they enquired into the matter, Sri Advaita only hinted that they will receive all of their answers in the future. Not throwing any further light into the matter, Sri Advaita returned to His residence, leaving Jagannatha Misra and Saci devi to speculate.
Saat pradakshina kari kare paranama
Kichu na kahila – gela apnara sthana
(Sri Chaitanya Mangala, Adi, 1.28)
Circumambulating seven times, He paid (Saci devi’s womb) His obeisances. Revealing nothing more, He returned to His residence.
When the time for the Lord’s appearance finally arrived (Phalguna Purnima, 1486 AD), there was a total lunar eclipse in Mayapur. Some say that the Lord had actually appeared after the moon had regained its luster, having been devoured and cleansed by Rahu. But Sri Chaitanya Caritamrta explains that the real reason for the lunar eclipse was that there was no need for a contaminated moon with spots all over its body to be visible at a time when the spotless Supreme Lord, had Himself mercifully descended upon this world to bestow His darsana.
A-kalanka Gauracandra dila darshana
Sa-kalanka candre ara kon proyojona
(Chaitanya caritamrta, Adi – 13.91)
The Lord was born while the moon was in Leo (Simha Rashi) and while Leo was in its ascendance (Simha Lagna). All the other planets were very strongly positioned as well.
As there was a lunar eclipse, all the people of Navadvipa, as per the prevalent customs, came over to bathe in the holy Ganges and chanted the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. The non-hindus jokingly ridiculed them by imitating and chanting the holy names of Lord Krishna as well. The entire earth became very elated and the demigods joined in the celebrations by dancing and glorifying the Supreme Lord. All the auspiciousness of the entire world gathered at Navadvipa on this occasion of Phalguna Purnima. Chants of Harinama sankirtana filled the land, skies and water. The devotees prayed, “Let there be such lunar eclipse daily, which induces the people to chant the holy names of Lord Hari”. The demigods showered flowers from the sky and played upon their musical instruments in ecstasy. Thus Lord Chaitanya induced one and all to chant the holy names of Lord Hari, soon after taking His birth, providing a glimpse of His future mission.
Antarikshe Deva-gana divya-yane chahe
Gaura-anga dekhibare anurage dhaye
Ekmatra shuni dhvani ‘Hari Hari’ bol
Janma-matra prakash karila Prabhu Mor
(Sri Chaitanya Mangala, Adi,1.52-53)
The demigods waited and watched eagerly from the skies sitting on their celestial vehicles. Out of love and eagerness to catch a glimpse of Lord Gaura, they ran here and there. The only sound that could be heard everywhere was that of ‘Hari Hari’. Sri Chaitanya induced one and all to chant the holy names of Lord Hari, soon after His birth.
Saci devi waved to Jagannatha Misra and summoned him to gaze upon their child.The ladies raised choruses of ‘Jai Jai!’ in ecstasy. The demigods, Vedas personified and the Nagas, all appeared to catch a glimpse of the newborn. Each limb of Lord Gauranga’s body exhibited an abundant wealth of Rasa (transcendental mellows). Gazing upon His beautiful form, it seemed to everyone that He was the paramour of the Gopis of Vrindavan.The ladies thought, “We have never seen or heard of a boy, whose sight makes our hearts throb with desire”. The whole world could not hold the endless joy that Jagannatha Misra felt upon gazing at his child. Lord Gaura’s face shone with the soothing glow of hundreds of moons.His smile mirrored that of a blossoming lotus flower while His well-defined highly raised nose defeated the beauty of a sesame flower. The rays of Gauranga’s dazzling body seemed saturated with nectar. His red lips, finely formed chin and dazzling cheeks awoke affection.
Simha Griba Gaja skandha vishal hridoy
Ajanu Lambita bhuja tanu rasamaya
Vishal nitamba uru kadalira yena
Aruna kamala dala dukhani charana
(Chaitanya Mangala, Adi, 1.66-67)
His (Gauranga’s) neck mirrored that of a lion, His shoulders were as big as that of an elephant, He had a broad chest and His hands reached up to His knees.His body was steeped with ecstasy. His hips were broad and they arched attractively. His big thighs tapered like the trunk of a banana tree. His feet resembled red lotus flower.
The soles of His feet were marked with signs of a flag, goad, Camara, Chariot, Lightning bolt, umbrella, swastika, jambu fruit and a triangle surrounded with waterpots. His unmatched charm was just like a nectarean flow of a river. His face was the reservoir of the beauty of millions of cupids combined. Apprehending that the son of mother Saci was not a mere human, the whole city resounded with chants of ‘Jai Jai!’. Even His cry sounded like nectar to the ears. The ladies observing Him concluded, that the son of Saci, must be none other than the Lord of Goloka.