By Purushottam Kumar

Out of his infinite mercy, Lord Krsna descended as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to deliver us from our inevitable suffering in the material world.

People in India are generally able to understand that God can appear as an incarnation. Especially among the Hindu community, people are aware of the ten famous incarnations of Lord Vishnu, and Lord Krishna is counted among those ten. What people do not know is that Krishna, although appearing as an incarnation of Vishnu, is the source of all incarnations. An even lesser known fact is that the same Krishna appeared as Lord Chaitanya 529 years ago on the most magnanimous mission, one that has no comparison in history.

Glorifying Lord Chaitanya’s magnanimity, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami, quoting a verse by Srila Rupa Goswami, writes:

anarpita-charim chirat karunayavatirnah kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-shriyam
harih purata-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandipitah
sada hridaya-kandare sphuratu vah shachi- nandanah

“May the Supreme Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Sachi-devi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation has ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, the mellow of conjugal love.” (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi 1.4)

Lord Chaitanya: The True Savior

If, due to some calamity, people get trapped in an uninhabitable terrain, the government sends a rescue team to bring back the survivors. Lord Chaitanya also came on a save-all mission – to reclaim the suffering souls of this world. Unlike an ordinary rescue effort, however, Lord Chaitanya’s task was a bit more difficult. Usually the survivors of any disaster openly welcome the rescue team, eager to accept whatever help they can get. But the people Lord Chaitanya has come to help cannot recognize and appreciate His help. As a result, they try to run away from Him, or even act against Him or His representatives.

People in this world are suffering from spiritual amnesia; the lost souls are not even ready to acknowledge their miserable condition and thus refuse to accept any medication.

One may challenge, “Why doesn’t God forcibly take us out of suffering?” Although He could drag us back to the spiritual world, He prefers to wait until we want to join Him there. Till then, He allows us to continue living in the material world and enjoying illusory happiness independent of Him. Careful to not interfere with our freedom of choice, He nevertheless constantly reminds us that true happiness will elude us in the material world.

In this world a soul slowly forgets his relationship with the Lord and suffers terribly. Especially in this age of Kali, vice overshadows virtue; irreligion becomes so prominent that true saints get sidelined, hedonistic culture flourishes, and people mostly look for carnal pleasure. By flaunting atheistic ideas and sensual indulgence, people’s lives become so degraded that they fall down to the level of animals. Sense control, sex control, and self-control become herculean tasks for all. People hardly endeavor to inquire about the purpose of their existence and don’t have the intelligence to differentiate between matter and spirit. Their condition is akin to a goat that stands in queue in an abattoir to get slaughtered but continues munching the tasty green grass, thinking that the bloodstained butcher’s chopper will be merciful to him.

The Holy Name: The Best Medicine

If a disease is severe, then an expert doctor is required for treatment. Lord Chaitanya therefore comes as the expert physician to treat all of us. Considering the precarious conditions of the current period, He introduced the simple yet extremely effective medicine of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In His Sikshashtaka prayers, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains the glories of this great mantra:

Glory to the shri-krishna-sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.

Anyone and everyone can chant, anywhere and everywhere, loudly or softly or in the mind, individually or in congregation. If done with sincerity, any chanting is effective. Srila Prabhupada recommended that to purify the consciousness one should chant at least sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily on beads, a single round being 108 beads. This daily chanting should not be done silently but should be loud enough so that the chanter can hear the sound. Audible chanting, whether on beads or in congregational kirtana, has the added benefit that anyone who hears it will be purified by the transcendental sound.

Vedic Books Declare Lord Chaitanya the Supreme God

Because Lord Chaitanya hid His identity, most people are not aware of His supreme divinity. If we turn to the pages of Vedic literature, however, we will be surprised to find that they contain abundant information that proves beyond doubt that Lord Chaitanya is in fact the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna Himself. Here are a few references from authentic scriptures.

The Mahabharata’s Vishnu-sahasra-nama-stotra (“The Thousand Names of Vishnu”) explains:

suvarna-varno hemango
varangash chandanangadi
sannyasa-krich chamah shanto

“In His early pastimes He appears as a householder with a golden complexion. His limbs are beautiful, and His body, smeared with the pulp of sandalwood, seems like molten gold. In His later pastimes He accepts the sannyasa order, and He is equipoised and peaceful. He is the highest abode of peace and devotion, for He silences the impersonalist nondevotees.”

In the Adi Purana and the Narada Purana, the Supreme Lord says,

aham eva dvija-shreshtho
nityam prachchanna-vigrahah
lokam rakshami sarvada

“I shall make My advent in the form of a brahmana devotee, and I shall hide my factual identity. I shall deliver all the worlds.”

The Padma Purana mentions: “The Supreme Personality, Janardana, who is the object of the yogis’ meditation, who saves the devotees from various sufferings, who is the master of all yogic practices, and who is always full of divine transcendental ecstasy and bliss, will appear in His own divine form of Sri Chaitanya.”

In the Garuda Purana the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself states, “I will take birth as the son of Saci in Navadvipa-Mayapur. I will come in My complete spiritual form in the first part of Kali-yuga.”

Finally, while describing the incarnations of the Lord for the four ages, the sage Karabhajana states in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.32),

krishna-varnam tvishakrishnam
yajnaih sankirtana-prayair
yajanti hi su-medhasah

“In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions.”

Srila Prabhupada endeavored hard to spread the mission and message of Lord Chaitanya all over the world. Because of his monumental efforts, today we know that to save our life we need to take shelter of Lord Chaitanya. Prabhupada wanted to make Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya, the spiritual capital of the world. The land has tremendous spiritual potency. Scriptures and spiritual authorities reveal that every speck of dust there is laden with Lord Chaitanya’s love. To fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s wish, ISKCON is building a magnificent temple there: The Temple of the Vedic Planetarium. It will be one of the largest Vedic temples of the world and is poised to become one of the most important Vedic centers, playing a very significant role in spreading the message of Lord Chaitanya.

Spiritual Wings

Most religious traditions promise material benefits to their practitioners in return for their religious practices. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, however, never misguided the populace and never gave any false hope to seekers. He instead explained that no one can achieve permanent peace and happiness in this world because it is designed to give us suffering (duhkhalayam ashashvatam, Gita 8.15). No amount of material gain can reduce our miseries. The only way to get rid of all troubles and attain unlimited happiness is to reestablish our relationship with Lord Krishna and return to the spiritual world.

If we abide by the instructions of Lord Chaitanya and sincerely chant the holy names of Krishna, we will soon develop spiritual wings to fly back blissfully to our spiritual home. Let us express our gratitude towards Him by eschewing all material desires and conscientiously using our body, mind, and words in serving, remembering, and glorifying Him.