The following is a recitation from Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata, Adi Khanda, Chapter 11, Verses 1- 68. In these verses, Srila Vrindavan das Thakur describes Lord Chaitanya’s educational and scholarly pastimes (Vidya vilasa). These are also sometimes referred to as the ‘vidya vilasa’ pastimes of the Lord.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – the great scholar :
Nimai (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) was an exceedingly intelligent student who could grasp His teacher, Gangadas Pandita’s words, just by hearing them once. The other students became His followers simply by attending to His clever arguments. Nabadwip, being the seat of learning in those days, was full of educators. All of their students gathered in the Ganges after class and quarreled with each other. Nimai proceeded from one bathing ghat to another, trying to find an audience of students with whom He could debate and argue.
On one such occasion, the advanced students of Nabadwip challenged Nimai into a discussion. The students challenged Lord Viswambhara to explain the rules governing verbal roots. The Lord explained very authoritatively hearing which the students hailed Him. Nimai then presented a second set of arguments that refuted His first explanation. This astounded all present. When the students were praising Him, He then went ahead to present a third set of arguments that contradicted the previous two. This overwhelmed all the students who embraced Him sincerely.
The Vaishnavas, who engaged themselves in relishing the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord, did not want to misuse their time needlessly discussing dry logic and Sanskrit grammar. Most of them hence avoided meeting Nimai Pandita fearing that He would draw them into intellectual arguments. Such discussions usually resulted in Nimai defeating and making fun of the devotees. On one such instance, Lord Viswambhara caught hold of Mukunda Datta and dared him to a debate. Mukunda decided to teach Nimai a good lesson so that He does not dare taunt him again. Knowing Nimai was well versed with Grammar, Mukunda decided to discuss on alankar (figures of speech) instead. Mukunda said ’Grammar (Vyakaran) is a subject of discussion for children. Let us discuss alankar (figures of speech) instead’. Lord Viswambhara agreed. An intense debate ensued. The Supreme Lord Nimai Pandita laid to dust all the quarrels of Mukunda. The Lord pointed out blunders with each and every statement that Mukunda made. Being embarrassed Mukunda became speechless.
The Lord smilingly advised Mukunda to return home and study his books properly. If Mukunda liked it then they could debate again the following day. Mukunda took the dust from the Lord’s lotus feet and left for the day. While returning he considered that Nimai cannot possibly be an ordinary human being. It was not possible for a mere human to possess so much knowledge. There is not a single thing that He did not know. Mukunda wished that if Nimai had been a devotee of Krishna, he would never leave His association for a moment.
On another occasion, Lord Viswambhara grabbed Gadadhar Pandita and confronted Him to explain the symptoms of liberation. Gadadhar Pandita responded with whatever He had learned from the scriptures. Nimai, however, termed them as inaccurate. Gadadhar pointed out that liberation is only obtained after the execution of endless austerities. Lord Chaitanya, the husband of Sarasvati, however, could not be defeated in a debate. He pointed out several flaws with Gadadhar Pandita’s explanation. Nimai advised Gadadhar to return home, adding that He would give Him another chance the following day. Gadadhar was relieved to escape Mahaprabhu and departed quickly. In this way, Lord Gaurahari taunted His associates and engaged in mischievous pastimes. Everyone, including the devotees, identified Nimai as a learned scholar and approached Him with reverence. The devotees hoped that Nimai would soon develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Krishna.
Nimai Pandita conducted debates at Gangadasa’s house. If anyone decided to learn the scriptures He would taunt him challenging,’ Who is this? Can this great scholar refute my arguments ?” He would tease Murari Gupta stating,’ You are a physician (vaidya)? Why are you studying here? Go to your leaves and herbs and produce medicines to heal the sick’. Though Murari Gupta, was a partial expansion of Shiva, yet He used to always keep calm and tolerate Nimai’s taunts. Once a debate ensued between Nimai and Murari Gupta. Nimai was very pleased with Murari and empowered him to present excellent arguments. At last, Mahaprabhu accepted defeat. When Nimai kept His soft lotus hands upon Murari thereby blessing him, Murari Gupta felt a surge of transcendental bliss. Murari Gupta then considered that Nimai could not be an ordinary human being. His scholarly prowess is unparalleled and inconceivable. He thought, ‘Simply by His touch, my whole body has now become ecstatic. There is no shame in accepting Him as my teacher. There is no one as intelligent as Him in the whole of Nabadwip’.