seeing through the eyes of scriptures
I worship their Lordships Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda Prabhu, whose long arms extend down to their knees, whose beautiful complexions are the radiant yellow of molten gold and whose elongated eyes are like red lotuses. They are the topmost of the brahmanas, the guardians of religious principles for this age, the munificent benefactors of all living entities, and the most compassionate incarnations of Godhead. They initiated the congregational chanting of the names of Lord Krsna.
O Lord! You are the eternal truth - past, present, and future - and You appeared as the son of Sri Jagannatha Misra. I offer my repeated obeisances unto You along with Your inseparable servitors, Your unalloyed devotees, Your sons (referring to His renounced Gosvami disciples, or the devotional process of chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna), and Your relatives (Bhudevi as Sri Vishnu Priya, Sridevi as Sri Laksmi Priya, and Lila, Nila or Durga as Navadvipa Dhama). According to devotional tastes there are the two Gadadharas, Damodara, Narahari, Ramananda, Jagadananda etc. One is Sri Gadadhara Pandita - the expansion of Srimati Radharani and Sri Gadadhara Bhatta from South India who is Rangadevi.
I worship the two brothers, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda Prabhu, who are the embodiment of magnanimity. By Their inconceivable potency They are the transcendental, eternal supreme controllers of all. Now They have descended to the material world.
All glories to Sri Gaurasundara, the supremely powerful Lord of pure transcendence. He has an aura of molten gold, with lotus petal eyes, and His long graceful arms extend to His knees. While He sings the glories of the Lord, He dances in various pleasing postures, His heart inundated by the ecstatic emotions of devotional mellows.
All glories, all glories to the moonlike Sri Krishna Caitanya. He is the fully independent Supreme Person, always engaged in transcendental pastimes. He is the Lord of the universe, the supreme controller of all controllers, and the personification of transcendence. All glories, all glories to the devotees of Sri Gauracandra. All glories, all glories to the ecstatic dancing of the Lord's intimate associates.
In the beginning I offer my humble obeisances to the feet of the loving, confidential devotees of Lord Sri Caitanya. I then offer my obeisances to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna Caitanya. He incarnated in Navadvipa, and He is known as Visvambhara.
That same Supreme Personality of Godhead has declared in the Vedas and Bhagavat, "Worship of My devotees is superior to worship of Me." Lord Krishna said to Uddhava, "O Uddhava, serving My devotees is many times better than worshiping Me." (SB 11:19:21). Therefore, I offer my worshipful prayers unto the devotees of the Lord before I begin to write this book. By this act may my present endeavor be successful.
I offer my respectful obeisances to my worshipable Lord and spiritual master, Sri Nityananda Raya, by whose mercy the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Caitanya become spontaneously manifest. With a thousand tongues we should incessantly glorify the Supreme Lord Balarama, because His thousand mouths as Ananta Sesa constantly glorify Lord Krishna. Just as priceless gems are kept in secure custody, so also the invaluable jewel of knowledge about Krsna's pastimes is kept safely in the mouth of Anantadeva. Therefore the tongue which initially glorifies Balarama will automatically be qualified to vibrate the transcendental pastime of Sri Caitanya.
The Supreme Lord Haladhara holds His thousand hoods like snakes. He is a gigantic figure and the source of all inspiration. As Nityananda He is fully transcendental and eternally existent, intoxicated by the nectar of Sri Caitanya. Whoever sings or hears about Nityananda's supramundane character is offered the supreme shelter of Lord Caitanya.
Mahesa and his consort Parvatidevi take great pleasure in eulogizing the object of their love - Sankarsana, Nityananda Prabhu. In the midst of a million fresh young maidens, the pure devotee, Sri Siva, and his consort pour out nectarean devotional hymns to Lord Sankarsana.
All this is revealed in the Fifth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Balarama is worshiped by the entire Vaisnava world with songs of praise. Balarama danced with His gopis in Vrndavana, and their rasa dance is the pinnacle of sublimity. The Puranas describe that Balarama performed His rasa dance during the two months of spring, Madhava and Madhu. The Srimad Bhagavatam verses narrating this subject were spoken by Sukadeva Gosvami to Maharaja Pariksit.
Balarama spent the moonlit nights of the months of Vaisaka and Caitra with the cowherd damsels in the supramundane abode of Vrndavana. The place was set aglow with the rays of the moon. The lotus and kadamba flowers bloomed freely under the influence of the moon's rays, and a soft breeze circulated their scent. In the groves on the bank of the Jamuna, Balarama danced with the gopis, increasing their conjugal mood. The Supreme Lord Balarama, like a exquisite gem decorated by the cluster of gopis, performed His pleasurable pastimes. He behaved like Indra's elephant Airavata - the controller of many she-elephants. The Gandharvas observed the rasa dance and offered their prayers.
The sound of kettle drums rose from the heavens, the demigods joyously showered flowers upon Them, and the Gandharvas and sages worshiped the Supreme Lord Balarama with verses praising His activities. The sages unequivocally denounce association with women, yet they sung hymns in praise of Balarama's rasa dance with His cowherd damsels. The demigods attended Balarama's rasa dance to shower flower petals. They knew that there was no difference between Lord Krsna and Lord Balarama, Haladhara. The transcendental qualities of Balarama are obscure in the four Vedas, but the Puranas describe them boldly.
What power do I have to describe them? Out of ignorance, some people disregard the Puranas and reject Balarama's rasa dance as inauthentic.
The two brothers, Lord Krsna and Balarama, performed the rasa dance with the gopis in the same place in Vrndavana. On the radiant full moon night of holi, at the end of sivaratri vrata, Lord Krsna and Lord Balarama, accompanied by Their cowherd boy friends, enjoyed Themselves in the midst of the beautiful maidens of Vrndavana. They were both pleasingly decorated with the finest jewelry, sandalwood pulp, wildflower garlands and exquisite clothes. The fortunate gopis sang sweetly, their hearts enraptured by love for Krishna and Balarama.
Evening had not set in; the moon and the stars appeared. The fragrance of Arabian jasmine intoxicated the bumblebees, and a light breeze carried the aromas of white lilies and lotus flowers. Considering that very moment to be appropriate, Krsna and Balarama began Their pleasurable dalliances. They sang together for the pleasure of all living entities, Their voices rising and falling melodiously.
If a person, after reading Srimad Bhagavatam, is not affectionately inclined towards Lord Balarama, then he is rejected by the Supreme Lord Vishnu and His devotees. In the words of Srimad Bhagavatam, a non-believer is a yavana (a barbarian). He is destined to suffer in hell, birth after birth.
There are others who, like eunuchs, make emotional gesticulations, challenging, "Which scripture describes the rasa dance of Balarama?" Who is so sinful that even after reading the scriptures, he can not accept the truth, but misinterprets the real meaning and gives his own distorted understanding?
Lord Balarama is the abode of Lord Caitanya's deep affection. Offense at Balarama's lotus feet destroys all possibilities for salvation. In His incarnation as Laksmana the younger brother of Lord Ramacandra, Balarama enacted the role of the Lord's servitor. Yet in His manifestation as the Supreme Lord, Balarama serves Himself in every respect - as a friend and a brother, by fanning Him, putting Him to sleep, glorifying Him with Vedic invocations and expanding Himself as His house, umbrella, attire, jewelry and seat. "O Lord ! Your direct, partial expansion, Ananta Sesa, is the source of all the various ingredients for Your service in the transcendental realm of Vaikuntha. Ananta Sesa is famous because He is manifest as Your residence, bed, throne, shoes, clothes, jewelry, etc. When shall I see you with Laksmidevi seated on the throne of Ananta Sesa?
Ananta Sesa's partial expansion is the mighty Sri Garuda whose satisfaction is derived from acting as the Lord's carrier in every pastime. Ananta's devotees include Brahma, Siva, the four Kumaras, Srila Vyasadeva, Sukadeva Gosvami, Narada Muni and others. His glorious qualities are unlimited and are not fully understood by anyone. He is the original personality, the greatest mystic, the Supreme Lord, and the greatest devotee of the Vaisnavas.
Thus far you have heard about the wonderful services performed by Ananta Sesa; now hear about His great opulence. He is enthroned in the lower planetary system of patala as his own source and repose. He is worshiped by all as His thousand mouths continually taste the full nectar of love of Godhead. In the court of Brahma, Narada Muni plays on his vina, and with well-composed verses he sings the wonderful glories of Ananta. Is it humanly possible to know the supramundane nature of Anantadeva?
Just by His glance, He sets in motion the three modes of material nature which are the cause of this world's creation, maintenance, and annihilation. Although He is one, He supports the entire variegated material cosmic manifestation Himself (within the pores of His person). He is beginningless and eternal.
Other then Lord Sankarsana, who can offer shelter to persons devoid of all material aspirations? He is the support on which the material world manifests and acts. That Supreme Lord, the cause of all causes, has appeared in His sublime spiritual form. He is the most powerful; in comparison, the power of a lion is insignificant. He performs pure transcendental pastimes to capture the hearts of His dear devotees, and He destroys countless sins by manifesting His transcendental form. What more is there to say than this? One becomes purified by hearing or calling out the name of Lord Anantadeva, either respectfully or accidentally. Even a degraded person is purified when he tauntingly utters the name of Sri Ananta.
Anantadeva's mighty potency is beyond measure. That Supreme Lord carries on just one of His thousand heads the entire universe with all its living entities, mountains, and rivers, and that universe appears to be only a minute, atomic speck. Even if a person acquires a thousand tongues, how can he describe the power of the omnipotent Supreme Lord? Anantadeva is His own shelter and source, filled with unlimited power and strength. While residing in the lower planetary system of rasatala, He holds this gigantic cosmic manifestation with ease born of detachment. This material world's creation, maintenance, and annihilation, as well as the three modes of material nature, are activated by His glance. Who can fathom Anantadeva's non-dual, transcendental, eternal and unborn existence?
Out of mercy toward the living entities the Lord manifests His supramundane spiritual form while He performs His variegated pastimes. All living entities reside within that transcendental form. The mighty Lord Nrsimhadeva represents but a wave in the ocean of the Lord's unlimited pastimes which satisfy the hearts of His devotees. Anantadeva's unlimited names, when heard or chanted by anyone in any manner, immediately sever the noose of innumerable births and deaths. Thus the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord always appreciated those who glorify Him. Ananta Sesa is the supreme destination of the entire universe; His holy name is the only means for the living entities's redemption. The Lord holds on His head the unlimited material nature - along with its mountains and oceans - simply for its protection and maintenance. The entire universe is a speck on one of His thousand hoods, and because of His unlimited strength, He does not feel the burden.
Lord Anantadeva, the original Supreme Personality and maintainer of the entire cosmic manifestation, incessantly sings in glorification of Lord Krsna. He continuously describes every aspect of the Lord's divine attributes. Lord Krsna is eternal and His attributes are unending, therefore He can never be fully described or glorified. But Ananta is also eternal and His ability to glorify the Lord is unending. In Their divine relationship, neither is ever victorious. Even today Ananta Sesa's thousand mouths continuously sing the glories of the Supreme Lord Krsna Caitanya. How wonderfully Lord Krsna and Lord Balarama compete with each other! Brahma, Siva, other demigods and the perfected sages look on, feeling great exhilaration. The eulogies of Anantadeva pursue the ever-expanding, elusive shores of Lord Krsna's ocean of qualities.
O Narada, I Brahma, and your elders, Sanaka and other sages cannot even fathom the extent of this material nature, what to speak of knowing the Supreme Lord's spiritual potencies. Anantadeva, the origin of all demigods, is unable to exhaustively glorify the Supreme Lord's transcendental opulence and potencies with His thousand mouths. Therefore how is it possible for ordinary mortals to understand these divine potencies? Anantadeva is Himself the master of unlimited attributes, and He resides in rasatala simply to support the vast material creation.
In the court of Brahma, Narada Muni plays His vina and sings about these very same transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord. Brahma and others are stunned in ecstasy upon hearing about the supramundane qualities of the Supreme Lord, and Narada Muni is worshiped by all because he sings about those qualities. I have also been moved to write a few phrases in praise of the unlimited potencies of Lord Nityananda, Anantadeva, so I humbly request all of you to develop a loving devotional mood toward the Lord. Those who desire to cross over the dangerous ocean of material existence, yet drown in the ocean of devotional ecstasy, may take shelter of Lord Nityananda.
I pray to the merciful Vaisnava devotees of the Lord to fulfill my hearts yearning, that I may serve my Lord Balarama birth after birth. Just as dvija, vipra, and brahma are different names for the same person, similarly Nityananda, Ananta and Balarama are different names for the same Supreme Personality. My Lord Nityananda Prabhu appeared within my heart and instructed me to narrate the transcendental qualities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in this book.
The pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are revealed by Nityananda's mercy only, because His personal expansion, Ananta Sesa, is the storehouse of information about Lord Caitanya and Lord Krsna's pastimes. Although Sri Ananta Sesa is the embodiment of Krsna kirtana, I have been able to offer only a humble prayer in His honor.
Hearing Lord Caitanya's qualities and pastimes can clean away all material contaminations. Know for certain that such pastimes are revealed only through a pure devotee's grace. For who can know the nature and pastimes of Lord Caitanya? It is a hidden mystery even in the Vedas. Therefore, I have compiled only first-hand accounts taken directly from the lips of the associates of the Lord.
I see no beginning or end to Lord Caitanya's pastimes. They are eternal and unlimited, and only the Lord's grace gives me the potency to compose them.
I am simply Lord Caitanya's mouthpiece, repeating as He desires, just like a doll moved by some unseen hand. I throw myself at the feet of all pure Vaisnava devotees so they may cleanse me of all offenses.
O my brothers! Please listen very attentively to the transcendental pastimes Lord Caitanya performed with His devotee associates. The ecstatic pastimes of Lord Caitanya have been divided into three periods - early, intermediate and later (Adi, Madhya and Antya). The early period includes a description of the Lord's education, and the intermediate portion reveals Mahaprabhu's pastimes of congregational chanting. The concluding portion describes the Lord's pastimes as a sannyasi in Nilacala, Orissa. He had allocated to Nityananda the mission of preaching in Bengal.
The pious Sri Jagannatha Misra, Caitanya's father, lived in Navadvipa. Like Vasudeva, he conscientiously performed his spiritual duties. His devout and faithful wife Srimati Sacidevi was a second Devaki - the beloved mother of everyone. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Narayana appeared in the womb of Srimati Sacidevi, and as Sri Krsna Caitanya, He became the most precious possession of everyone's heart.
The Adi Khanda begins by describing the appearance of Lord Caitanya on an auspicious full moon evening in the month of Phalguna when the moon went into eclipse. The tumultuous chanting of Lord Hari's holy name filled all directions, inspiring everyone to sing together. The Supreme Lord Caitanya was born amidst the chanting.
The Adi Khanda also describes the Lord's numerous childhood pastimes. Lord Caitanya revealed to His parents His otherwise unmanifest place of residence, the holy dhama. And as they stared in wonder, He showed them the physical signs of divinity on His feet.
This portion of the book describes how one day thieves kidnaped baby Nimai from his house, but He tricked them into bringing Him back home. Another story narrated here is how the Lord ate all the food offered to Vishnu in the house of Jagadisa and Hiranya on ekadasi day. Yet another story describes how the Lord once sat on a pile of contaminated cooking pots and used the situation to instruct His mother in philosophy. He also acted like a crying baby, using His tears as a ploy to make everyone chant the holy names of God.
The Adi Khanda discusses the Lord as a child playing with His friends as if He were Krsna in Gokula. It describes how He began His education and with little effort mastered all the scriptures. It narrates Sri Jagannatha Misra's disappearance and Visvarupa's acceptance of sannyasa and how these two disasters afflicted Mother Saci. Then it describes the Lord's wonderful pastimes as a student. He was pride personified before the other student scholars. Caitanya's travels through eastern Bengal are also described here, elaborating on how the land became a place of pilgrimage by the touch of His lotus feet. Caitanya was the master of all different scriptures. There was no one in the three worlds to challenge His erudition.
The Adi Khanda describes the Lord sporting with His fellow students and their water pastimes in the waves of the Ganga. Then came the Lord's first marriage and the glorious disappearance of His first wife. He duly accepted a second wife, the daughter of a royal scholar. Once He pretended to be sick from a wind disorder. He took that opportunity to reveal symptoms of love of Godhead. While the Lord roamed about as a great scholar, He empowered all the devotees who surrendered to Him.
The narration of the early life of Sri Caitanya includes a description of the immense joy on Mother Saci's face when she looked at the moon-like, blissful face and the graceful clothes of the Lord. Then there is the story of how Nimai Pandita piqued the pride of a scholar who was renowned as Digvijaya, the world conqueror. Ultimately the Lord slashed the scholar's material bonds. The Lord put everyone - even His devotees - into illusion about His real identity, and He roamed the streets of Navadvipa deceiving all. There is also a description of the Lord's pilgrimage to Gaya dhama and how He showered causeless mercy on Isvara Puri by accepting him as His spiritual master.
Adi Khanda is a reservoir of the Lord's never-ending pleasurable pastimes. In the future Srila Vyasadeva, the greatest of sages, will describe other pastimes. But herein I reveal the early pastimes of the Lord up to the time He returns from His visit to Gaya dhama.
In Madhya Khanda the Lord's omnipotence becomes known, and gradually His devotees are identified as they collect around His lotus feet like bees. Caitanya reveals His absolute identity as Lord Narayana by sitting on the altar of Vishnu in the houses of Sri Advaita and Srivasa Pandita. Sri Caitanya meets Nityananda Prabhu and together the brothers make wonderful Krsna kirtana. Then Nityananda's vision of the transcendental six-handed form of Caitanya Mahaprabhu is described. Later the Lord exhibited His universal form to Advaita Acarya Prabhu.
Nityananda's vyasapuja has been described in Madhya Khanda along with a story of how He was slandered by some faithless atheists. Thereafter comes the description of Lord Caitanya's manifestation as Balarama when Nityananda gave Him His plough and club. The wonderful redemption of the two reprobates Jagai and Madhai - who were later to become quite famous - is told in detail.
Mother Saci's vision of Sri Caitanya in a blackish complexion and Sri Nityananda in a whitish complexion is also discussed.
Lord Caitanya once showed His unlimitedly opulent maha prakash form for several hours, and that story is told in Madhya Khanda. On that occasion He revealed the transcendental truth about Himself and the real identity of all His devotees. Thereafter comes a description of the occasion when Lord Caitanya, who is Narayana the Lord of Vaikuntha and the supreme absolute reality, danced and chanted as He narrated the truth about Himself.
In Madhya Khanda the Lord breaks Canda Kazi's pride, and manifesting His own spiritual potency, He engages in continuous congregational chanting. Canda Kazi accepted devotional service by the Lord's grace. Immersed in ecstatic bliss, Sri Caitanya thereafter moved from village to village performing kirtana. He declared the truth about Himself as He exhibited His Varaharupa - a four-armed form - while riding around the courtyard on the back of His devotee, Murari Gupta. The Lord also ate some rice which Suklambara had collected by begging, and performed many wonderful pastimes in His manifestation of Lord Narayana.
In Madhya Khanda Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appears before the devotees in the guise of Mahalaksmi or Rukminidevi, the Universal Mother who breast-fed all the devotees who were Her dependent sons. The Lord once chastised Mukunda for keeping bad company and later, when He was satisfied with Mukunda's obedience, He favored him with grace. Then there is a narration of the ecstatic all-night kirtanas in Navadvipa which were held regularly for a complete year.
Madhya Khanda describes the mock verbal fights between Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Advaita Acarya. Only a foolish person thinks that these were actual disagreements. Then the Lord instructed His mother and simultaneously warned the whole world about the grievous consequences of offending the Vaisnava devotees. Satisfied by the prayers of His devotees, the Lord gave individual benedictions to each of them. Srila Haridasa Thakura received Mahaprabhu's mercy and the Lord showed compassion toward Sridhara by drinking water from his pot.
Sri Caitanya blissfully performed daily pastimes in the waters of the Ganga with all his devotees. Once He and Nityananda Prabhu visited the house of Advaita Acarya for a specific reason. It is described that the Lord severely chastised Advaita Acarya, but at last He showed immeasurable grace on him. Then the Madhya Khanda describes how the extremely fortunate Sri Murari Gupta became enlightened about the true identity of Lord Caitanya as Krsna and Nityananda as Balarama. Those two Supreme Personalities danced in ecstasy in the house of Srivasa.
In Madhya Khanda the Lord explains the entire philosophical truth about human life, using Srivasa's expired son as the speaker. In this way He alleviated everyone's suffering. News of this incident spread far, and by the Lord's grace Srivasa could overcome the shock of his son's death. In another story narrated in Madhya Khanda the Lord threw Himself into the Ganga, and Nityananda Prabhu and Srila Haridasa Thakura lifted Him out. Then Srimati Narayani received a treasure desired even by the demigods and Brahma; she received the remnants of the Lord's foodstuffs. The final story in the Madhya Khanda is the pastime of the Lord leaving home and accepting the renounced order of life for the salvation of every living entity. There are uncountable pastimes of the Lord in the Madhya Khanda; whatever remains untouched will be described later by Srila Vyasadeva.
As the Sesa Khanda opens, Visvambhara is in the sannyasa order of life, and He has accepted the name Sri Krsna Caitanya. He has shaven his head clean, thereby plunging Advaita Acarya Prabhu into deep despondency. Mother Saci's suffering is unbearable, yet she is sustained by the Lord's mercy. Nityananda, the manifestation of Balarama, smashed Caitanya's sannyasa danda, and thereafter the Lord concealed His real identity and went to Nilacala Puri.
Caitanya playfully taunted Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya when they first meet, but later He exhibited His six-handed form to him. The Lord mercifully graced King Prataparudra with devotional service and lived thereafter in the house of Kasi Misra. During Caitanya's stay in Puri, both Svarupa Damodara and Paramananda Puri became eligible to serve the Lord in confidential relationships.
Sesa Khanda also describes Caitanya's trip through Bengal on His way to Mathura and Vrndavana. He stayed in Vidya Vacaspati's residence before moving on to the village of Kulia in Bengal. Millions of people gathered to see the Lord on His return to Bengal, and all who saw Him were liberated. Caitanya attempted to continue on His trip to Mathura, but after a short distance He turned back to Bengal.
When the Lord returned to Nilacala, He engaged in continuous kirtana with His associates. He sent Nityananda to preach in Bengal, while He Himself remained in Nilacala with a handful of devotees. The Lord and all His devotees danced ecstatically before Lord Jagannatha's chariot.
Caitanya's travels to Ramesvaram in South India and His journey to Mathura through the Jharakhanda forest are also described in Sesa Khanda. Later the Lord showered grace on Raya Ramananda and revealed other divine pastimes He had previously performed in Mathura. The magnanimous Caitanya Mahaprabhu also graced Dabir Khas by revealing His identity to him. He liberated Dabir Khas and his brother and renamed them both. They became the famous Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.
In Sesa Khanda the Lord's travels to Varanasi are described. The sannyasis of Varanasi could not recognize the Supreme Lord because they were too critical of the Vaisnavas. Caitanya Mahaprabhu thereafter returned to Nilacala and became engrossed in congregational Hari kirtana throughout the day and night.
Nityananda traveled throughout India as a wandering mendicant. His pilgrimage is described in Sesa Khanda. Who can understand Nityananda's unfathomable transcendental character? He roamed about Mathura with ankle bells on His feet. On Sri Caitanya's request He went to Panihati and distributed devotional service - love of God - to everyone. Through His causeless mercy He saved Nahamalla Raya and other merchants of that locality.
In Sesa Khanda, Caitanya Mahaprabhu's remaining eighteen years in Nilacala are described. Although numerous pastimes are related about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Vedavyasa will later tell them all in detail. Nityananda finds endless joy in glorifying Lord Caitanya, and He is an unmatched expert in that art.
O Lord Caitanya, please bless me so that I may receive the transcendental service of Nityananda's lotus feet. He is the Lord of the entire universe. I have narrated in brief the contents of this book at the very outset. All of you please hear with undivided attention the pastimes of Sri Krsna Caitanya.
Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda are my life and soul.
I, Vrndavana dasa, offer my humble song at Their lotus feet.