Who is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? What was His mission and what did He teach? Sri Chaitanya is known as the father of the kirtan movement and the great apostle of bhakti (pure spiritual love). In this enlightening yoga wisdom talk, self-realized yoga master, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda describes the appearance and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and their importance to our personal lives.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu & The Bhakti Kirtan Movement
Jagad Guru: So what we are going to be discussing is Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya is mentioned in many of our lectures but we’ve never discussed Lord Chaitanya as far as explaining who He is or talking about who He is. So for our television viewers I will give a short explanation, short summary.
Lord Chaitanya appeared in India around five hundred years ago. Today is His appearance day; not necessarily the day you see this on T.V. but the day that we’re speaking. And we are celebrating His appearance because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The Supreme Person is not separate from this world in the sense that He doesn’t care about the living beings in this world. He does care and He appears because He cares. He appears because He wants to make it possible for His children, who are away from Him, to actually come to Him, because He sees that we are suffering. So Lord Chaitanya appeared to take us back to His kingdom.
God is a person. As soon as we understand that God is a person then we understand that God can come here and He can take us back to Him. It’s really strange the way most people react to this. They think that God’s not allowed to come here or He’s not capable of coming here. Kind of like, “This is ours,” you know. “He’s got His own place. Why does He have to come here and bother us?”
Actually, we belong in the kingdom of the Supreme Person. We are meant to be with Him and because we are not with Him we are experiencing suffering – birth, diseases, old age and death. Death and an endless number of anxieties, troubles because we are not with Him.
So the Supreme Person comes to take us back to Him. Lord Chaitanya appeared to take us back to Him in a particular way or by a particular method. He came to show us by His personal example and His teaching how we can go back to Him. And if we follow His instruction and His personal example then we do go back to Him.
Being God, He did not institute a new religion. When Lord Chaitanya came He did not start a new religion. He did not teach something different than real religion. Real religion is not something that gets started new, real religion exists. Real religion exists eternally. It’s called sanatana-dharma, the eternal truth. The Absolute Truth is eternal, there’s no beginning to it. So Chaitanya’s teaching is perfectly in harmony with the Absolute Truth as it had been revealed previous to His appearing, in scripture, shastra.
Throughout the Vedic literature, you find that in this age of Kali Yuga, this age of quarrel and chaos and confusion, when you can’t sit for five minutes without somebody hassling you or some noise hassling you. You try to sit for twenty minutes or thirty minutes. If it’s not your neighbor hammering something on the wall, or the bus outside, it’s a mosquito in your ear. The people who live in Honolulu or Los Angeles are bothered by the traffic and the jackhammers and buses, crazy neighbors. And the people who come to Hawaii and go into the mountains are bothered by the mosquitoes, and the flies, and the moisture and the icky ukus that get in your skin so much, the humidity.
Nothing like trying to meditate and all of a sudden you’re itching. (Laughter) You’re trying to use the silent method of meditation to remember God or to achieve God, trying to engage in this quiet process and you just start itching. And you’ve got a choice: either you scratch the darn itch or you just think about it. (laughter) If you scratch it you break your trance and you’ve got to start all over again. But if you don’t scratch it then you’re just going to be thinking about it the whole time.
Silent meditation – trying to meditate upon the Supreme Person or the Supreme Lord through the method of meditating on the Lord in the heart or even the impersonalist methods of trying to achieve God through the technological process of astanga yoga, kundalini yoga – these are not recommended in this age.
Chaitanya came and inaugurated the movement of the chanting and hearing of God’s names. But it’s not a new instruction, you see. He’s just inaugurating what’s already sitting there in scripture. In every scripture of the world you will find that the method for achieving, not only purification of sinful reactions, but the method for achieving that which is beyond salvation, beyond purification of sinful reactions, namely love for God; this is achievable by the hearing and repeating of God’s names.
So Chaitanya came and He appeared, in the very beginning, His birth, at the day of His birth, it was a time when there was an eclipse of the full moon. At that time all of the people, because it’s a very inauspicious day, it was considered very inauspicious, and a lot of people are freaked out. They’re scared of that, okay? So at that time all the people were chanting the names of God. In India they’re all bathing in the holy rivers and so on and everybody’s chanting the names of God. He appeared on that day.
When He was a baby all the neighborhood ladies, He was so attractive they always came to see Him. Always some excuse, of course, to see the mother, “Oh can I borrow some turmeric?” (laughter) And as mother Sachi’s getting the turmeric there they are going, “Where’s the baby? (laughter) Where’s Gauranga?” Golden, the golden one. And the neighborhood ladies and mother Sachi, Chaitanya’s mother, soon found out something. That He is always crying; He always was crying and crying and crying, except they didn’t know why He was crying and how to stop Him from crying. They soon learned that He immediately stops when you say the names of God. If you say, “Gopala, Govinda, Krishna,” you say, “Haribol, Haribol, Sri Madhusudana, Madana Mohana,” all singing the names of God. So in this way it became the fun thing to do, and everybody’s duty of course, to keep Nimai, Lord Chaitanya – another name for Him was Nimai. He was born under a nimai tree – to keep Him from crying, there was always chanting going on in His house of the names of the Supreme Person.
So in this way Chaitanya, from the very beginning of His life, was teaching people to chant the names of God. And throughout His life He used all kinds of tricks like this to get people to chant the names of God. Always. He used so many. Like with children. With children He used many tricks. He knew the minds of the children. So He would be walking and the children would follow Him and they knew how to irritate Him. And you know kids like to irritate people. (laughter) Right? They like to cause trouble. So if they think that they’re bothering you or causing you trouble then they are going to keep doing it, okay? It’s great fun. When you’re a kid you don’t know what it’s like to be troubled yet. Wait until you get a little older then you’ll have kids troubling you, okay? Anyway… so the kids used to follow Him and go, “Govinda, Govinda, Krishna, Krishna,” and He would close His ears like this and He’d run away and He’d say, “No, no, no, no! Don’t say that, don’t say that!” (laughter) And they’d chase Him down the road and they’d say, “Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Govinda, Govinda, Govinda, Gopala, Gopala!” and He’d go, “No, no stop saying it! Stop saying it!” So in this way He used many devious means to get the people to sing the names of the Supreme Person.
Lord Chaitanya is described in scripture as being the Supreme Person. In the Vedic scripture it describes that Lord Chaitanya will appear. It describes His bodily color. It tells the name of His mother and the father and it tells what village He will be born in and it says what He’ll do and why He’ll do it. That the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears in this age of Kali Yuga to inaugurate the sankirtan, the congregational chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord. He appears Himself as a devotee. He appears as a devotee to teach us how to be devotees. In other words He teaches us by His example although He is the Supreme Person.
He does not worship anybody. The Supreme Person does not need to worship anybody. Just like sometimes people ask, “Where does God come from?” If you say the Cause of all causes, you’re talking about God, okay? Then somebody has a question, “Well if everyone’s come from God where’s God come from?” They don’t understand that the definition of God is that He is the Cause of all causes. Similarly sometimes we speak about that everybody must worship and worships God directly or indirectly. Everyone is serving Him directly or indirectly. And they may ask, “Well who does God serve? Who does God worship?”
When the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, appeared five thousand years ago, every morning He meditated. He meditated upon the Supreme Person. Himself. (laughter) He got up every morning and meditated upon Himself. Sometimes He would look in the mirror and be entranced by His own beauty. The Supreme Personality of Godhead doesn’t worship anybody but Himself. And everybody goes, “God! How egotistical! I can’t believe it! God!” And why does it seem perverted to us? Because we are not God and for us it would be perverted and those who try to imitate the Supreme Person and get up in the morning and meditate upon themselves, they are perverted. (laughter) Because they are not the Supreme Person.
But for the Supreme Person to do it that is not perverted because He’s functioning in His natural position. For you to try to function as the Supreme Person and you’re not, is not right. Therefore you naturally feel, “Oh, that’s not right.” But we should not think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as an ordinary person. We have to stop thinking of God as being like me, or one of us. He’s not. He’s the Supreme Master, the Supreme Dominator and we are all His servants. This fact must be appreciated.
So when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came, when the Supreme Person Himself appeared as Lord Chaitanya, He appeared as His own devotee. Lord Chaitanya, for example, never said, “I am the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” And He couldn’t stand it when people said He was. He didn’t like it at all. Why? Because His appearance was for the purpose, the simple purpose of teaching us how to worship the Supreme Person. And you don’t worship the Supreme Person by calling yourself the Supreme Person. A devotee does not say, “I am God.” A devotee of God does not say, “I am God.” And it disrupted His enjoyment.
The Supreme Lord is the Supreme Enjoyer. You must appreciate that God is the Supreme Enjoyer. It is not that God lives in His Kingdom and that all the living beings who live in His Kingdom enjoy themselves and God sits there watching enviously, you know? Some so-called Christians they imagine like this. Many people imagine. Hindus, Muslims. They imagine that the Kingdom of God is a very nice place and we’ll go there and enjoy loving pastimes with our friends and our family, our children and our dogs. And where is God? Oh, maybe He is sitting on the sideline there. He’s sort of sitting on the sideline and just sort of benevolently blessing us all, okay? (laughter) This concept of God is not correct; it’s due to lack of information.
The Supreme Person is the Supreme Enjoyer and what is His enjoyment? He does not enjoy temporary sense flashes. Some materialists think, they call themselves Mayavadi philosophers, they think that God comes to this material world to enjoy His senses, that God needs material sense enjoyment to be happy. This is nonsense. God enjoys. What does He enjoy? The Supreme Enjoyer, what does He enjoy? He enjoys the nectar of love. He loves to be loved.
This is also not perverted. Remember, try to understand. Try to imagine the father. Because the father in this world, a person who plays as father, playing the role as father or mother, when the little kid comes up to you, your baby comes up to you and loves you, you go, “Oh, it feels so good to be loved.” Similarly the Supreme Personality of Godhead enjoys the love of His children. He enjoys the love of His servants and friends. He loves being loved. When you look at the form of the Supreme Person every fiber of His being is saying, “Love Me, love Me,” and when He sends His son like Jesus Christ He says, “Tell them to love me.” Jesus comes and says, “Love Him. My first and foremost commandment is love Him.” In the Bhavagad-gita He says to Arjuna, “Love Me.”
He’s enjoying loving affairs in the spiritual world. He is the best friend. In these relationships they don’t even know Him as God. They don’t think of God as God. They just think of Him as the all-lovable best friend and they can’t get Him out of their mind. Some are loving the Supreme Person as friend, beloved, husband, master, some more formal relationships, less formal, more intimate relationships. All these are going on there in the spiritual world but the focus, the center, the object of worship and love in each and every one of these is the Supreme Person. The Supreme Person loves being loved. He loves exchanging love; not just being loved but exchanging love. He loves the whole thing of love, the loving relationships.
Now Chaitanya, the Supreme Person Himself, appeared not only for the purpose of giving us the method of being liberated from this material condition, not only came to give us the holy names so that we can actually come to know the Supreme Lord, to taste love for Him, to go to Him, but He also came to taste that nectar of love for the Supreme Person. In other words, God being the Supreme Enjoyer, the Supreme Person being the Supreme Enjoyer is enjoying those devotees loving Him but He wants to enjoy another thing. He sees they are enjoying so much loving me. How wonderful it is that they are so happy enjoying loving me. I want to taste that too. He’s greedy; the Supreme Person is greedy for tasting love and He wants to experience the nectar of love for God. The nectar of love for God is so wonderful that God Himself wants to taste it. And He appears as Lord Chaitanya to taste this. Love for the Supreme Person in the mood of beloved. Loving the Supreme Person as the Supreme Lord’s beloved. That is Lord Chaitanya.
This is the real wonderful meaning behind Lord Chaitanya’s appearance is that He Himself wants to taste the nectar of love for the Supreme Person. So if the nectar of love for God is so wonderful that the Supreme Person Himself will taste it, that He wants to taste it, then surely we should take advantage and taste that nectar ourselves.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to plunder the storehouse of love for God and drink it Himself and distribute it to everybody. This is His appearance; this is why. So take His appearance seriously. Realize that you will not be really happy, the highest platform of happiness, until you are tasting love for God. And if you follow Lord Chaitanya, if you hear His instructions, follow these instructions then you will come to this platform. There is no doubt of this.
Thank you very much.