Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Mayapur, in the town of Nadia, just after sunset on the evening of the 23rd Phalguna, 1407 Shakabda, answering to the 18th of February, 1486. The moon was eclipsed at the time of His birth, and the people of Nadia were then engaged, as was usual on such occasions, in bathing in the Bhagirathi with loud cheers of “Haribol!” His father, Jagannatha Mishra, a poor brahmana of the Vedic order, and His mother, Sachi-devi, a model good woman, both descended from brahmana stock originally residing in Sylhet. Mahaprabhu was a beautiful child, and the ladies of the town came to see Him with presents. His mother’s father, Paṇdita Nilambara Chakravarti, a renowned astrologer, foretold that the child would be a great personage in time, and he therefore gave Him the name Vishvambhara. The ladies of the neighborhood styled Him Gaurahari on account of His golden complexion, and His mother called Him Nimai on account of the Neem tree near which He was born. Beautiful as the lad was, everyone heartily loved to see Him every day. As He grew up He became a whimsical and frolicsome lad. After His fifth year, He was admitted into a school, where He picked up Bengali in a very short time.
Most of His contemporary biographers have mentioned certain anecdotes regarding Chaitanya, which are simple records of His early miracles. It is said that when He was an infant in His mother’s arms He wept continually, and when the neighboring ladies cried “Haribol!” He used to stop. Thus there was a continuation of the utterance of “Haribol!” in the house, foreshowing the future mission of the hero. It has also been stated that when His mother once gave Him sweetmeats to eat He ate clay instead of the food. His mother asking for the reason, He stated that as every sweetmeat was nothing but clay transformed He could eat clay as well. His mother, who was the consort of a pandita, explained that every article in a special state was adapted to a special use. Earth while in the state of a jug could be used as a waterpot, but in the state of a brick such a use was not possible. Clay, therefore, in the form of sweetmeats was usable as food, but not clay in its other states. The lad was convinced and admitted His stupidity in eating clay and agreed to avoid the mistake in the future.
Another miraculous act has been related. It is said that a brahmana on pilgrimage became a guest in His house, cooked his food and read his grace with meditation on Kṛishna. In the meantime the lad came and ate up the cooked rice. The brahmana, astonished at the lad’s act, cooked again at the request of Jagannatha Mishra. The lad again ate up the cooked rice while the brahmana was offering the rice to Krishna with meditation. The brahmana was persuaded to cook for the third time. This time all the inmates of the house had fallen asleep, and the lad showed himself as Krishna to the traveler and blessed him. The brahmana was then lost in ecstasy at the appearance of the object of his worship.
It has also been stated that two thieves stole away the lad from His father’s door with a view to purloin His jewels and gave Him sweetmeats on the way. The lad exercised His illusory energy and deceived the thieves back toward His own house. The thieves, for fear of detection, left the boy there and fled.
It was at the age of sixteen or seventeen that He traveled to Gaya with a host of His students and there took His spiritual initiation from Ishvara Puri, a Vaishnava sannyasi and a disciple of the renowned Madhavendra Puri. Upon His return to Nadia, Nimai Pandita turned religious preacher, and His religious nature became so strongly represented that Advaita Prabhu, Shrivasa and others who had before the birth of Chaitanya already accepted the Vaishnava faith were astonished at the change in the young man. He was then no more a contending naiyāyika, a wrangling smarta and a criticizing rhetorician. He swooned at the name of Krishna and behaved as an inspired man under the influence of His religious sentiment. It has been described by Murari Gupta, an eyewitness, that He showed His heavenly powers in the house of Shrivasa Pandita in the presence of hundreds of His followers, who were mostly well-read scholars.
It was at this time that He opened a nocturnal school of kirtana in the compound of Shrivasa Pandita with His sincere followers. There He preached, there He sang, there He danced, and there He expressed all sorts of religious feelings. Nityananda Prabhu, who was then a preacher of Vaishnavism and who had completed His travels all over India, joined Him at that time. In fact, a host of pandita preachers of Vaishnavism, all sincere at heart, came and joined Him from different parts of Bengal. Nadia now became the regular seat of a host of Vaishnava acharyas whose mission it was to spiritualize mankind with the highest influence of the Vaishnava creed.
The first mandate that He issued to Prabhu Nityananda and Haridasa was this: “Go, friends, go through the streets of the town, meet every man at his door and ask him to sing the name of Hari with a holy life, and then come and report to Me every evening the result of your preaching.” Thus ordered, the two preachers went out and met Jagai and Madhai, the two most abominable characters in Nadia. These two insulted the preachers on hearing Mahaprabhu’s mandate, but were soon converted by the influence of bhakti inculcated by their Lord.
He gave the 16 syllable Hare Krishna Mahamantra to this world, importing it from the spiritual kingdom of Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, which is the Taarak Brahma of this age, i.e. the form of godhead which will deliver the people of Kaliyuga.
The supreme lord Sri Krishna, in form of Chaitanya mahaprabhu disappeared in the year 1534 by entering into the deity of Tota Gopinath, ceasing his past times on this earth. His Sankirtan Movement is being spread in the whole world by his dear devotees who are going out in every corner of the world to preach his message.