Biography,  Festival,  Philosophy

Understanding Sri Chaitanya Tattva

LordChaitanya (crop)

The word Chaitanya means “living force.” As indicated in the revealed scriptures, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Kṛiṣhṇa Himself, the supreme living entity. As the Supreme, He is full in six opulences: wealth, fame, strength, beauty, knowledge and renunciation.

Lord as the Cause of all Causes and all Incarnations

As the Personality of Godhead, Lord is the reservoir of all spiritual and cosmic manifestation (animate and inanimate). He is the fountainhead of all incarnations. He is the complete form of sac-cid-ananda (full life, knowledge, and bliss). He is also known as the Absolute Truth.

The Lord is not directly attached to the creation, maintenance, and destruction of the material world, for He is eternally busy in the enjoyment of transcendental bliss with His internal potential paraphernalia. Yet as the initiator of the material energy as well as the marginal potency (the living beings), He expands Himself as the puruṣa-avataras, who are invested with potencies similar to His. All the incarnations of Godhead are plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions of the puruṣa-avataras, but the primeval Lord is Sri Krishna.

The three puruṣas-Karanodakashayi Vishnu, Garbhodakashayi Vishnu, and Kshirodakashayi Vishnu-all have a relationship with the material energy, called Maya because through Maya They create the material cosmos. But the transcendental position of Sri Krishna Himself is not even slightly tinged by Maya. His transcendental state is called turiya, or the fourth-dimensional stage. Although the material world is measured by the limitations of length, breadth, and height, He is completely unlimited in His body, form, and existence.

The Apparent reasons for descent of Sri Chaitanya

         The Absolute Personality, Sri Krishna, appears on earth, for a very important purpose – to revive our eternally existing but forgotten relationship with Him. These relationships are in four principal mellows (rasas) viz., servitude [dasya], friendship [sakhya], parental affection [vatsalya] and conjugal love [madhurya]. Then, after fully exhibiting all such activities, the Lord disappears.

The all-compassionate Lord, still remains unsatisfied, thinking he has not yet bestowed the ultimate benediction, i.e., unalloyed, loving devotional service to Him, upon the inhabitants of the earth. Giving too much attention to understanding the exalted glories of the Lord reduces the chance of one’s entering into personal loving affairs with the Lord. No one but the Lord Himself can teach this highest form of devotional service. To teach the highest principles of spiritual life, the Lord Himself appeared as a devotee in the form of Lord Chaitanya. The Lord decided that “I shall personally inaugurate the religion of the age-nama-saṅkirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy name. I shall make the world dance in ecstasy, realizing the four mellows of loving devotional service.” The holy name of the Lord is the sound incarnation of the Lord. Thus by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can directly associate with the Supreme Lord by sound vibration. In fact, Lord Chaitanya is described as more magnanimous than any other avatars, even Krishna Himself, because He is bestowing freely what no one else has ever given – the pure love of Krishna.

Lord Gauranga

Thus the lion-like Lord Chaitanya has appeared in Navadvipa. His bodily complexion was not blackish, but that of molten gold, indicative of the feelings and mood of Srimati Radharani. Anta Krishna refers to one who is always thinking of Krishna. This attitude is a predominant feature of Srimati Radharani. Even though many devotees always think of Krishna, none can surpass the gopis, among whom Radharani is the leader in thinking of Krishna. Radharani’s Krishna consciousness surpasses that of all other devotees. Lord Chaitanya accepted the position of Srimati Radharani to understand Krishna; therefore He was always thinking of Krishna in the same way as Radharani.

By His superexcellent beauty, Lord Chaitanya subdues all the people of the age. In other descents, the Lord sometimes used weapons to defeat the demoniac, but in this age, the Lord subdues them with His all-attractive figure as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Jiva Goswami explains that His beauty is His astra, or weapon, to subdue the demons. His soldiers are His plenary parts and associates. Lord Chaitanya is always accompanied by His best associates like Lord Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, and Srivasa.

The Confidential Reasons for Lord Chaitanya’s Appearance

Svarūpa Damodara Gosvami has described Lord Chaitanya as Kṛiṣhṇa Himself with the attitude of Radharani, or a combination of Radha and Kṛiṣhṇa. Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, the author of Chaitanya Charitamrta, has given three principal reasons for Lord Chaitanya’s appearance. The first purpose was to relish the position of Srimati Radharani, who is the prime reciprocator of transcendental love of Sri Krishna. Lord Krishna is the reservoir of transcendental loving transactions with Srimati Radharani. The subject of those loving transactions is the Lord Himself, and Radharani is the object. Thus the subject, the Lord, wanted to relish the loving mellow in the position of the object, Radharani. The second reason for His appearance was to understand the transcendental mellow of Himself. Lord Krishna is all sweetness. Radharani’s attraction for Krishna is sublime, and to experience that attraction and understand the transcendental sweetness of Himself, He accepted the mentality of Radharani.

The third reason that Lord Chaitanya appeared was to enjoy the bliss tasted by Radharani. The Lord thought that, undoubtedly, Radharani enjoyed His company and He enjoyed the company of Radharani, but the exchange of transcendental mellow between the spiritual couple was more pleasing to Srimati Radharani than to Himself. Radharani felt more transcendental pleasure in the company of Krishna than He could understand without taking Her position, but for Sri Krishna to enjoy in the position of Srimati Radharani was impossible because that position was completely foreign to Him. Krishna is the transcendental male, and Radharani is the transcendental female. Therefore, to know the transcendental pleasure of loving Krishna, Lord Krishna Himself appeared as Lord Chaitanya, accepting the emotions and bodily luster of Srimati Radharani.

Lord Chaitanya appeared to fulfill these confidential desires and also to preach the special significance of chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and to answer the call of Advaita Prabhu. These were subservient reasons.

Raga-bhakti versus Vidhi-bhakti

The real purpose of Lord Chaitanya’s appearance was to stage a dramatic performance of His transcendental pastimes at Vrajabhumi, thus exhibiting the highest limit of transcendental mellow in the exchanges of reciprocal love between the living entity and the Supreme Lord. These reciprocal exchanges of mellows are called raga-bhakti, or devotional service to the Lord in transcendental rapture. Lord Sri Krishna wants to make known to all the conditioned souls that He is more attracted by raga-bhakti than vidhi-bhakti or devotional service under regulations. It is said in the Vedas that the Absolute Truth is the reservoir for all kinds of reciprocal exchanges of loving sentiments. He is also causelessly merciful, and He wants to bestow upon us this privilege of raga-bhakti. Regulative principles in devotional service are meant for those who have not invoked their natural love of Godhead. When natural love arises, all regulative methods are surpassed, and pure love is exhibited between the Lord and the devotee.

Four kinds of devotees are the receptacles of the four kinds of mellows in love of God, namely servitude, friendship, parental affection and conjugal love. Although everything in the Absolute realm is equal, there are also transcendental differences between them. The transcendental relationship of conjugal love is considered the highest perfection. It is called madhura-rasa. It has two further divisions, namely wedded and unwedded love. There is a great increase of mellow in the unwedded conjugal mood. Such love is found nowhere but in Vraja. This mood is unbounded in the damsels of Vraja, but among them, it finds its perfection in Sri Radha. Her pure, mature love surpasses that of all others. Her love is the cause of Lord Krishna’s tasting the sweetness of the conjugal relationship. Therefore Lord Gauranga, who is Sri Hari Himself, accepted the sentiments of Radha and thus fulfilled His own desires.

What Exactly is Love of God?

The transcendental potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by which He maintains His existence is called sandhini. The transcendental potency by which He knows Himself and causes others to know Him is called samvit. The transcendental potency by which He possesses transcendental bliss and causes His devotees to have bliss is called hladini. The pleasure potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is exhibited by His grace in the person of a devotee, that manifestation is called love of God. “Love of God” is an epithet for the pleasure potency of the Lord. Therefore devotional service reciprocated between the Lord and His devotee is an exhibition of the transcendental pleasure potency of the Lord. Thus hladini potency gives the Lord all transcendental pleasure, and the Lord bestows such potency upon His pure devotee. The product of the hladini-shakti is the love of Godhead, which has two divisions namely, pure love of Godhead and adulterated love of Godhead. Only when the hladini shakti emanates from Sri Krishna and is bestowed upon the living being to attract Him does the living being become a pure lover of God. But when the same hladini-shakti is adulterated by the external, material energy and emanates from the living being, the jiva becomes attracted by the glamor of the material energy.

The unadulterated action of the hladini-shakti is displayed in the dealings of the damsels of Vraja and Srimati Radharani, who is the topmost participant in that transcendental group. The essence of the hladini-shakti is love of Godhead, the essence of love of Godhead is bhava or transcendental sentiment, and the highest pitch of that bhava is called mahabhava. Srimati Radharani is the personified embodiment of these three aspects of transcendental consciousness. She is, therefore, the highest principle of love of Godhead and is the supreme lovable object of Sri Krishna. Lord Krishna enchants the world, but Sri Radha enchants even Him. Therefore She is the supreme goddess of all. Sri Radha is the full power, and Lord Krishna is the possessor of full power. The two are not different, as evidenced by the revealed scriptures.

May the auspicious occasion of Sri Gaura Purnima, the auspicious appearance day of Lord Chaitanya, rejuvenate within us the bliss of Chaitanya Lila. May we be blessed to meditate on, understand, appreciate, and benefit from the unparalleled mercy of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Golden Avatara.

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