Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a scholar par excellence. On His tour to south India, Mahaprabhu defeated many types of philosophers by sound logic and converted them to Vaishnavism. The case of the defeat of some Buddhists by Mahaprabhu is a typical example.
The Buddhist cult is established on the basis of argument and logic. They have two ways of understanding philosophy – Hīnāyāna and Mahāyānaā. They have nine chief principles: 1) The creation is eternal; therefore there is no need to accept a creator. (2) This cosmic manifestation is false. (3) “I am” is the truth. (4) There is the repetition of birth and death. (5) Lord Buddha is the only source of understanding the truth. (6) The principle of nirvāṇa, or annihilation, is the ultimate goal. (7) The philosophy of Buddha is the only philosophical path. (8) The Vedas are compiled by human beings. (9) Pious activities, showing mercy to others and so on are advised.
Although scriptures say, tarko apratiṣṭhaḥ (Mahabharata Vana Parva 313.117), meaning that Absolute Truth cannot be discerned by argument, Mahaprabhu, the erudite scholar that He was, to bring the Buddhists to surrender, refuted their arguments with strong logic. For example, the first principle of Buddhism states that creation is eternal and therefore there is no need to accept a creator and then the sixth principle of nirvana says annihilation is the ultimate goal. Mahaprabhu refuted these by the logic that if the creation always exists, then there can be no question of annihilation. Therefore the Buddhist’s attempt to annihilate everything in order to attain zero (nirvana) is an absurdity. By our own practical experience (since we can see that all material things have a beginning, a middle and an end), we have to accept the beginning of creation, and when we accept the beginning, we must accept a creator. That creator is Paraṁ Brahman or the Supreme Spirit. In a similar manner, Mahaprabhu repudiated all the nine principles of Buddhists with sound reasoning.
The defeated Buddhists were ashamed and plotted against the Lord. They offered Him a plate of untouchable food, calling it mahā-prasāda. However, the Lord’s opulence easily countered it. A very large bird appeared on the spot, picked up the plate in its beak and dropped the plate on the head of the chief Buddhist teacher, who immediately fell down unconscious.
The Buddhist disciples then cried aloud and ran to the Lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya for shelter. The Lord instructed them to chant the names of Krishna and Hari loudly into the ear of their spiritual master. As a result of the congregational chanting of the holy name, the Buddhist teacher regained consciousness and himself immediately began to chant the holy name of Lord Hari. Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura comments that all the Buddhist disciples were actually initiated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu into the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa and in so-doing, their original Krishna consciousness was revived. They in turn were able to initiate their so-called spiritual master. This is the parampara system. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu initiated the disciples and in turn, they were empowered to initiate their former Guru into the chanting of the holy name. Unless one is favored by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu in the disciplic succession, one cannot act as a spiritual master. We should take the instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the spiritual master of the whole universe, to understand how one becomes a spiritual master and a disciple.
When the spiritual master of the Buddhists began to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa and submitted to Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, all the people who were gathered there were astonished. Then suddenly and humorously, Sri Chaitany Mahaprabhu, disappeared from everyone’s sight and it was impossible for anyone to find Him.