Which devotee in Lord Chaitanya’s pastimes inspires you the most, and why?
Recently, Lord Nityananda’s compassion for Jagai and Madhai inspired me. I am a state prisoner. While at the prison temple for worship, thieves broke into my locker and stole writing supplies, hygiene items, and a bag of prasada candy. Before I became Krishna conscious I would have sought to do the thieves great bodily harm.
Jagai and Madhai, two thieving rascals, hit Prabhu Nityananda with an earthen pot. Lord Chaitanya, outraged, advanced to kill the thieves. Nityananda interceded, requesting Chaitanya to have mercy on them. Chaitanya, God Himself, fulfilled Nityananda’s desire. As a result, Jagai and Madhai surrendered to God and became great devotees.
Inspired by Nityananda’s compassionate example, I can easily tolerate the thieves’ offense. Ironically, they unwittingly stole God’s mercy (prasada). Now I can show thieves compassion by preaching to them about the mercy of God.
Daytona Beach, Florida
There are ample great devotees in the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya, but Srila Raghunatha Dasa Goswami inspires me the most. We may all make progress in our spiritual lives by following in his footsteps. This great soul was so humble. After receiving the divine mercy of Lord Chaitanya, he would chant and do bhajana all day long. He used to clean and eat food that even cows rejected. I am inspired by his humility. If I need some guidance in spiritual life, looking at his character will always help me.
Palm Beach, Florida
Lord Nityananda is inspirational in showing us how to love Krishna and how to love others even if they do not reciprocate in the same way. The example of Jagai and Madhai comes to mind. Even though they cut Lord Nityananda, He still felt compassion towards them, and even when Lord Chaitanya was about to punish them, He asked for them to be forgiven. What an amazing personality—best friend to the Lord, compassionate, humble, merciful, loyal, full of joy, and most importantly, completely devoted to Lord Chaitanya. These are all qualities I aspire to. Lord Nityananda ki jai!
Jagannatha Kirtanananda Dasa
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Namacharya Srila Haridasa Thakura’s words and deeds are inspiring for any devotee. He took to chanting the holy names of Lord Sri Krishna and dedicated his life for spreading the holy names. What can be more pleasing to the Lord? He even transformed a prostitute and inspired her to chant 300,000 names daily, as he himself was doing. Srila Haridasa Thakura is truly inspiring for me.
Raghava Pandita: I am reminded of him whenever I make daily bhoga [food] offerings to the Lord. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu described Raghava Pandita’s devotional service as being supremely pure and highly accomplished.
For Lord Krishna’s pleasure, Raghava Pandita would buy famously sweet coconuts from a distant place, paying sixteen times the local price. He once threw away ten of these expensive coconuts because the servant who brought them had touched them with dirty hands.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu praised Raghava Pandita’s devotional service as being pure and unalloyed. In the case of Raghava Pandita, Krishna would factually drink the coconut juice and eat the pulp that was offered to Him. Raghava Pandita ki jaya!
Vaikuntheshvara Balaji Dasa (V. Mistry)
I am most inspired by the humble nature of Srila Haridasa Thakura, his deep devotion for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and his deep desire to please the Lord by chanting 192 rounds of japa every day. He was blessed to taste the nectars of the holy names and relish them within his heart. What inspires me further is his humble, tolerant, and forgiving nature towards other living beings, even those inimical towards him.
When the servants of the envious king beat Srila Haridasa Thakura in twenty-two marketplaces, he simply took shelter of the holy names. In that pure mood of total surrender to the Supreme Lord, he was thinking that he was liable to be punished even more, and he was praying to the Lord to pardon the people who were beating him so severely. My realization from this pastime is that chanting is so powerful that it attracts the Lord and He comes to help us face our obstacles in spiritual life. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself protected Haridasa Thakura’s body when someone was trying to cause him pain.
Namacharya Srila Haridasa Thakura ki jai!
Rukmini Priti Devi Dasi
For his firm faith and determination to chant the holy names of the Lord in any condition, Haridasa Thakura inspires me the most. He was beaten in twenty-two marketplaces, but still he would not give up chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.
When tested by a prostitute in the dead of night, he was so fixed in his meditation on the holy names that he simply told her to sit down and wait until he had finished his chanting. By then it was morning. She came again and again, and by hearing the holy names she became purified and dedicated her life to chanting the maha-mantra.
Later, when he lived in Jagannatha Puri, he would not enter the temple but instead paid obeisances from a distance and Mahaprabhu would visit him daily.
Srila Madhavendra Puri Goswami is not one of Lord Chaitanya’s contemporaries, but he is very much part of the Lord’s pastimes. He introduced within the Vaishnava world the mood of separation in the relationship between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul. This mood is a prominent feature of Lord Chaitanya’s theology. Madhavendra Puri Goswami was the spiritual master of Lord Sri Chaitanya’s own guru, Ishvara Puri.
Madhavendra Puri belonged to a line of very strict renunciants who take specific vows of austerity to curb the demands of the mind and senses. Madhavendra Puri had vowed to not eat anything not offered to him without his asking. If no food was offered to him, he would simply fast and occupy his time in chanting the Lord’s holy name or engaging in other devotional activities. Once Lord Krishna Himself, in the guise of an ordinary cowherd boy, came to Madhavendra Puri and offered him a pot of milk.
Madhavendra Puri Dasa
Anything can be accepted in life, but not neglect. One associate of Lord Chaitanya had to suffer the Lord’s neglect for quite a long period. He was a great devotee and a ruler, King Prataparudra. While he was constantly being rejected by the Lord, he never lost hope, never gave up, never got frustrated; rather, he was enthusiastically waiting for every opportunity to serve the Lord and His associates.
To get the Lord’s audience, he was even ready to resign his position as king. He was so determined. When Ramananda Raya came to ask him permission to retire as governor of Madras to join Lord Chaitanya in Puri, the king didn’t get angry. He blissfully accepted the resignation. Sincere devotees never lose; they always win, maybe with a little delay. Finally Prataparudra Maharaja got the mercy of Lord Chaitanya during the Rathayatra festival.
Hari Chaitanya Dasa