SRI CAITANYADEVA AND HIS TEACHINGS
His Divine Grace
BHAKTISIDDHANTA SARASVATI THAKURA PRABHUPADA
Place: English School, Sripata, Ula
Time: Monday, 23rd February, 1925
namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradayate
krsnaya krsna-caitanya namne gaura-tvise namah
The ignorant people's misconceptions about Sri Caitanya:
Everyone in Bengal has heard of Sri Caitanyadeva. Generally, people know He was a preacher of love of God and is the worshipable Lord of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Those who think they know Caitanyadeva's teachings because they follow Caitanyadeva, but who don't actually know the deep meaning of those instructions, know only some distorted explanations and thus conclude His teachings lack philosophical truth.
Incidentally, in 1891 I was in Dinajpur, where I met a follower of the Brahmo religion who happened to be the Deputy Inspector of Schools. I found out he was against Caitanyadeva. He was a proud, educated person and in his opinion, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and Bharatacandra's book, Vidya Sundara, were in the same category. I asked him, "What conclusion do you find in Vidya Sundara? What type of philosophical conclusion can you read there?"
He replied, "Sri Caitanya-caritamrta is full of the exaggerated glories of Caitanya, and only people without character can read it." Such was a day in the history of Bengal!
We often hear this kind of concocted story about Sri Caitanyadeva from the so-called educated. Some time back we used to hear that the smarta bhattacaryas are more magnanimous and their character more exalted than Caitanyadeva. Caitanyadeva left His wife, but the attached householder smarta bhattacaryas are too attached to their wives. Therefore, they say, they are more liberal and of a better character than Caitanyadeva.
We also used to hear that Caitanyadeva is the main person harming society because He induced many people to give up material life - leave home and their material enjoyments - and surrender to Him. He has made many persons' wives, children, and mothers cry. He has also mingled with people from different varnas - even with people born in yavana families. He has shown such persons great respect and inspired them to act as gurus. Therefore Caitanyadeva was the principal person harming society.
The pathetic condition of mankind and how to improve it:
On the other hand, because people don't discuss the teachings of Caitanyadeva - because they don't even hear His teachings with an open mind from the actual devotees of Caitanya, followers of different paths have become attached to various other processes based on mental speculation. Simply because they don't hearing Caitanyadeva's teachings, some people follow different, newly concocted, and wrong ways. Had they heard Sri Caitanyadeva's teachings and conclusions about devotional service in the association of His real followers, we would not have seen these people embrace the most unfortunate, wrong paths.
Since Caitanyadeva's disappearance, a number of religious systems have appeared and continue to appear to this day. Their followers think the godless people of the world will show them more respect than they do Caitanyadeva because they are able to please these people's minds by presenting conclusions that satisfy their senses and appeal to their desire to speculate. But only by discussing Sri Caitanyadeva's teachings can the ever-quarreling minds of these followers be destroyed. Only the most magnanimous Sri Caitanyadeva's mercy, which does not produce any misfortune, can destroy the inauspiciousness in the lives of the world's beings and allow them to find transcendental happiness in life.
Bhagavata-dharma taught by Sri Caitanya, and the desire for liberation:
Some people think a religious system not aimed at liberation as its ultimate goal is just another aspect of a system aimed at material enjoyment. But neither material enjoyment nor liberation are the ultimate goal of living beings. Liberation is the other side of the coin of material enjoyment. Both material enjoyment and liberation are like two witches. Both drag the living being from the path of righteousness. Righteous people, or those who have faith in God, never take shelter of either witch. The Supreme Lord's devotees are liberated; liberated souls are never greedy for liberation. We see the activities and mentality of a liberated soul in Sri Caitanyadeva's behavior. Again, Sri Caitanyadeva instructed us on the duties of conditioned souls. If we analyze those instructions carefully we will discover that just as material enjoyment is unnecessary for pure souls, so liberation is unnecessary for the Vaisnavas. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.20.8) tells us we should give up both material enjoyment and the path of renunciation leading to liberation:
jata-sraddhas tu yah puman
na nirvinno nati-sakto
bhakti-yogo 'sya siddhi-dah ...
"If somehow or other, by good fortune, one develops faith in hearing and chanting My glories, such a person, being neither very disgusted with nor very much attached to material life, should achieve perfection through the path of loving devotion to Me."
Unfortunately, some of us think Sri Nityananda Prabhu preached the glories of material enjoyment. We often say: in order to protect His family line and to introduce material family life - Avadhuta Nityananda married twice. What an atheistic view! What a sense of enjoyment we have attributed to even a personality who is directly Lord Vishnu!
The transcendental object is fully independent and cannot be attained by material endeavor:
It can be considered strange that we are told to serve the Supreme Lord, who is not available in this world, and not to associate with those we can see and touch with our hands. What does this mean? But what we enjoy or perceive with our mind and senses is not the transcendental Supreme Lord. Does that mean our aim is to simply become lazy? No. Then how will the transcendental object be achieved? Sri Caitanyadeva gave the correct answer to this question to Srila Rupa Gosvami:
atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah
"No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality, and pastimes of Sri Krishna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality, and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him." (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.234)
What learned philosophers define as "truth" or "spirituality" is not the "spiritual truth." This is the verdict of Sri Caitanya.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 25.56) states:
tate chaya darsana haite 'tattva' nahi jani
'mahajana' yei kahe, sei 'satya' mani
"By studying the six philosophical theories, one cannot reach the Absolute Truth. It is therefore our duty to follow the path of the mahajanas, the authorities. Whatever they say should be accepted as the supreme truth."
Just by becoming inclined to the service of the Supreme Lord do the Lord's holy name, forms, qualities, and pastimes become automatically revealed to us.
Service to the transcendental Lord alone is the nonduplicitous bhagavata-dharma:
Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.6) states:
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje
"The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord."
Bhagavata-dharma is the eternal Vedic religious system, approved and followed by the supremely non-envious, swanlike saints. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 25.45) states:
caitanya-gosani yei kahe, sei mata sara
ara yata mata, sei saba charakhara
"Whatever meaning Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gives is perfect. Any other interpretation is only a distortion."
The transcendental pastimes and idolatry are not the same:
Those who try to imagine what kind of name, form, quality, or pastimes the Supreme Lord possesses are working only from pride. Their imaginary ideas and the real name, form, qualities, and pastimes of the transcendental Lord can never be synonymous. The Supreme Lord is not a servant in my house that I can frame His form according to my whim, choosing whatever form gives pleasure to my material senses. I cannot by the power of my mind force Him to be like I imagine Him. Only those who do not believe in the transcendental form of the self-manifest Supreme Lord favor this kind of mental speculation. We do not know the topics of the fourth level of mathematics. The Lord's transcendental form is not the same as what the human mind can imagine - it is neither a material form or formless. There are no discrepancies in Vaikuntha; but in the material world, the perverted reflection of Vaikuntha, there are discrepancies everywhere.
The place and candidate for devotional service:
The flow of material thought can reach up to impersonal Brahman realization but no higher. Mahaprabhu taught Rupa Gosvami in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 19.151-154):
ei rupe bhramanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna prasade krpaya paya bhakti-lata-bija
mali hana kare sei bija aropana
sravana-kirtana-jale karaye secana
upajiya bade lata 'brahmanda' bhedi' yaya
'viraja', 'brahma-loka' bhedi' 'para-vyoma' paya
tabe yaya tad-upari 'goloka-vrndavana'
'krsna-carana'-kalpa-vrkse kare arohana
"According to their karma, all living beings are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.
"When a person receives the seed of devotional service, he should take care of it by becoming a gardener and sowing the seed in his heart. If he waters the seed gradually by the process of sravana and kirtana [hearing and chanting], the seed will begin to sprout. As one waters the bhakti-lata-bija, the seed sprouts, and the creeper gradually grows to the point where it penetrates the walls of this universe and goes beyond the Viraja River, lying between the spiritual world and the material world. It attains brahma-loka, the Brahman effulgence, and penetrating through that stratum, it reaches the spiritual sky and the spiritual planet Goloka Vrindavana. Being situated in one's heart and being watered by sravana-kirtana, the bhakti creeper grows more and more. In this way it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Krishna, who is eternally situated in the planet known as Goloka Vrindavana, in the topmost region of the spiritual sky."
The causal and the transcendental:
The word viraja refers to that place where past, present, and future are neutralized. The spiritual sky is the opulent abode of Lord Laksmipati. Lord Narayana's form includes the transcendental quadruple forms, like Vasudeva. In this place, santa, dasya, and gaurava sakhya, or friendship with awe and reverence, are present. Krishna did not take birth from a material father and mother; His parents were manifested from Him. Krishna alone is the cause of all causes and the original Personality of Godhead.
The distinction between regulative worship with reverence and service with attachment, love, and devotion:
Worship of Lord Narayana and the process of serving Lord Krishna are not of the same class. Not able to control the temptation to relish the cowherd boys' affection, Lord Krishna sometimes allows Himself to be carried by them on their shoulders and sometimes carries them on His own shoulders. Loving service to the Supreme is not confined only to worshiper and worshipable. Those on the path of arcana cannot understand the service attitude and love of those in vatsalya- or sakhya-rasa. Discussions about Krishna's beloved gopis, and among them of Vrsabhanu's daughter, the crest-jewel of all Krishna's lovers, is most wonderful. As soon as the gopis heard the sound of Krishna's flute they immediately ran toward Him, forgetting their own selves. They didn't look in any other direction; they left all their household duties and, regardless of what they had been doing, ran like madwomen to search for Krishna. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.29.4-8 states:
nisamya gitam tad ananga-vardhanam
ajagmur anyonyam alaksitodyamah
sa yatra kanto java-lola-kundalah
duhantyo 'bhiyayuh kascid
doham hitva samutsukah
payo 'dhisritya samyavam
parivesayantyas tad dhitva
payayantyah sisun payah
susrusantyah patin kascid
asnantyo 'pasya bhojanam
limpantyah pramrjantyo 'nya
asjantyah kasca locane
kascit krsnantikam yayuh.
ta varyamanah patibhih
na nyavartanta mohitah
"When the young women of Vrndavana heard Krishna's flute song, which arouses romantic feelings, their minds were captivated by the Lord. They went to where their lover waited, each unknown to the others, moving so quickly that their earrings swung back and forth.
"Some of the gopis were milking cows when they heard Krishna's flute. They stopped milking and went off to meet Him. Some left milk curdling on the stove, and others left cakes burning in the oven.
"Some of them were getting dressed, feeding milk to their infants, or rendering personal service to their husbands, but they all gave up these duties and went to meet Krishna. Other gopis were taking their evening meals, washing themselves, putting on cosmetics, or applying kajjala to their eyes. But all the gopis stopped these activities at once and, though their clothes and ornaments were in complete disarray, rushed off to Krishna.
"Their husbands, fathers, brothers, and other relatives tried to stop them, but Krishna had already stolen their hearts. Enchanted by the sound of His flute, they refused to turn back."
The difference between service and enjoyment:
If our constitutional propensity is awakened, only then will we become qualified to serve Krishna under the subordination of the gopis of Vraja, the father and mother of Vraja, and the friends of Vraja. Discussing this is krsna-seva-katha. We have to serve Krishna and not try to enjoy Him. The spirit of enjoyment is not service. The mentality of enjoying Krishna the mundane sahajiyas have is not transcendental service to Krishna. One cannot enjoy the transcendental Lord with his material senses. This is why it is said that one cannot serve God with his mundane senses. Serving Krishna is not something living beings can enjoy. Misunderstanding Sri Caitanyadeva's teachings, materialists try to fulfill their desires for enjoyment. To gratify one's own senses is simply lust (material enjoyment). Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 4.165) states:
atmendriya-priti-vancha—tare bali 'kama'
krsnendriya-priti-iccha dhare 'prema' nama
"The desire to gratify one's own senses is kama [lust], but the desire to please the senses of Lord Krishna is prema [love]."
The position and activities of the karmis and jnanis:
In his Sri Prema Bhakti Candrika, Srila Narottama Thakura Mahasaya sings:
karma-kanda,jnana-kanda, kevala visera bhanda,
amrta baliya yeba khaya
nana yoni sada phire, kadarya bhaksana kare,
tara janma adhah-pate yaya
radha-krsne nahi rati anya jane bale pati
prema-bhakti riti nahi jane
nahi bhaktira sandhana bharame karaye dhyana
brtha tara se chara jibane
jnana karma kare loka nahi jane bhakti-yoga
nana-mate haiya ajnana
tara katha nahi suni paramartha-tattwa jani
"Fruitive activities and mental speculation are simply cups of poison. Whoever drinks of them, thinking them to be nectar, must struggle very hard life after life in different types of bodies. Such a person eats all kinds of nonsense and becomes condemned by his activities of so-called sense enjoyment.
"Those who have not developed attachment for Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, not knowing the process of loving devotional service, consider others as their lord and protector. Such people do not inquire about devotional service; rather, they engage in pseudo meditation. Their lives are useless and insignificant.
"The less intelligent engage in pious activities and speculative knowledge. They do not know the process of devotional service because they are misguided by various opinions. Do not listen to them, but know for certain that transcendental devotional service is the life and soul of the devotees."
Because they don't understand Sri Caitanyadeva's words, people engaged in karma-kanda and jnana-kanda either blaspheme Him or think discussions about devotional service are no different from discussions based on their own mental speculation. But from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 8.27) we learn:
suska-brahma-jnani, nahi krsnera 'sambandha'
sarva loka ninda kare, nindate nirbandha
"One who is attached to dry speculative knowledge has no relationship with Krishna. His occupation is criticizing Vaisnavas. Thus he is situated in criticism."
One can attain prema by practicing devotional service free from karma and jnana:
One cannot revive the soul's constitutional nature by practicing karma-kanda or jnana-kanda. Mental speculation is prominent in these types of practitioners. In karma-kanda the wild dancing of the material propensity is prominent. Only the self-realized souls serve Lord Hari. When our material knowledge is finished, we will realize the Lord's transcendental service according to our pure constitutional position. At that time, we will not give up the eternal service of Lord Syamasundara because we will see His transcendental form with eyes anointed with love and devotion. In that position we will continue to engage in His service in newer and newer ways.
The pathetic condition of false renunciation:
We often think, "Forget it! What will I gain by pleasing God? When the word service refers only to God's pleasure, then it is better to give up service and seek my own happiness through meditation. If I simply become one with God, all my distress will vanish."
This mentality keeps us as impersonalists. We often invite our own destruction and think it beneficial to us. If a person gets a boil and the doctor advises him to slit his throat so he can forever be relieved of the pain, even if the ignorant praise such an act, it is still foolish. To bewilder the demonic, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Buddhadeva and Siva incarnated as Sankaracarya to teach people to alleviate their distress by destroying themselves. But the most magnanimous Lord Gaurasundara, who shows the kind of compassion that causes no inauspiciousness, did not preach in such a way.
A kanistha Vaisnava is greater than countless karmis and jnanis:
Only by serving the Lord's deity, the Vaisnavas, and the Lord's holy name do the living beings find supreme benefit. Sri Caitanyadeva said that a person who chants the holy name even once in a mood of service is the best of all. A kanistha devotee who worships the Lord's deity with mantras that contain Lord Vishnu's holy name is greater than the topmost pious karmi or jnani anywhere in the world, because such karmis and jnanis, however great they may be, have no faith in the eternal service of the Absolute Truth, Lord Vishnu. Therefore even though they officially accept the Vedas, they are still atheists. A worshiper of Vishnu, on the other hand, however little advancement he may have in the kingdom of spiritual life, develops faith in Lord Visnu's transcendental deity form once he has heard about the deity from his spiritual master's mouth. Compared to a kanistha Vaisnava even once ringing the bell before the Lord's deity, a karma-kandi's opening countless hospitals, serving the poor, opening old age homes, and performing ritualistic activities with pomp, and an impersonal jnani's study of the Vedas and Vedantas, meditation, performance of penance, and practice of mystic yoga are extremely insignificant. I am not exaggerating. This is simply a fact. Deceived, atheists who have no faith in the actual truth cannot understand the purport of these essential topics. That's why they sometimes blaspheme devotional service openly and sometimes subtly as they try to synthesize matter and spirit.
Srila Bhaktivinoda's propagation of Gaura's mission:
Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura preached what Sri Caitanyadeva taught: service to Krishna, the devotees of Krishna, and the holy name. He taught these things all over the world in Bengali, English, and Sanskrit. In Vaisnava history over the last 250 or 300 years, people were indulging in material sense gratification in the name of service to Lord Hari. Only one or two bhajananandi Vaisnavas were actually performing bhajana. Vaisnava acaryas like Srila Cakravarti Thakura and Sripada Vidyabhusana have given immense benefit to the Vaisnava world by writing and publishing books about pure devotional service, but these books did not reach the ordinary mass of people. Srimad Bhaktivinoda Thakura was particularly enthusiastic and careful about preaching about Sri Gaurasundara's great magnanimity to the people in general. My spiritual masters who are present right now have become determined to preach Sri Caitanyadeva's mission with body, mind, and speech. They will certainly receive Sri Gaurasundara's mercy.