Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Tirtha-yatra - Part 25
BY: SUN STAFF
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
Feb 20, CANADA (SUN) A serial exploration of the holy sites visited by Lord Caitanya.
Lord Caitanya Takes His Leave of the Devotees, Part 3
Today we present the last of a 3-part presentation of the verses in Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Lila 7, which describe the glories of Lord Caitanya's preaching tour in South India. As described below, the Lord's tirtha-yatra was a glorious manifestation of His mercy in liberating the fallen conditioned souls in the south. Also Lord Caitanya did not manifest His spiritual potencies while preaching at Navadvipa, He did so in South India in a way that expresses the essence of Harinama Sankirtana.
In whatever village Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed to accept alms, many people came to see Him.
By the mercy of the Supreme Lord, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, everyone became a first-class devotee. Later they became teachers or spiritual masters and liberated the entire world.
In this way the Lord went to the extreme southern part of India, and He converted all the provinces to Vaisnavism.
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not manifest His spiritual potencies at Navadvipa, but He did manifest them in South India and liberated all the people there.
At that time there were many smartas (nondevotee followers of Vedic rituals) at the holy place of Navadvipa, which was also the birthplace of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Followers of the smrti-sastra are called smartas. Most of them are nondevotees, and their main business is following the brahminical principles strictly. However, they are not enlightened in devotional service. In Navadvipa all the learned scholars are followers of the smrti-sastra, and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not attempt to convert them. Therefore the author has remarked that the spiritual potency Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not manifest at Navadvipa was by His grace manifest in South India. Thus everyone there became a Vaisnava. By this it is to be understood that people are really interested in preaching in a favorable situation. If the candidates for conversion are too disturbing, a preacher may not attempt to spread Krsna consciousness amongst them. It is better to go where the situation is more favorable. This Krsna consciousness movement was first attempted in India, but the people of India, being absorbed in political thoughts, did not take to it. They were entranced by the political leaders. We preferred, therefore, to come to the West, following the order of our spiritual master, and by the grace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu this movement is becoming successful.
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's empowering of others can be understood by one who is actually a devotee of the Lord and who has received His mercy.
If one does not believe in the uncommon, transcendental pastimes of the Lord, he is vanquished both in this world and in the next.
Whatever I have stated about the beginning of the Lord's movement should also be understood to hold for as long as the Lord toured South India.
When Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to the holy place known as Kurma-ksetra, He saw the Deity and offered prayers and obeisances. [Extensive purport to this verse omitted, as it will be included in a later segment on Kurma-ksetra. Ed.]
While at this place, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in His usual ecstasy of love of Godhead and was laughing, crying, dancing and chanting. Everyone who saw Him was astonished.
After hearing of these wonderful occurrences, everyone came to see Him there. When they saw the beauty of the Lord and His ecstatic condition, they were all struck with wonder.
Just by seeing Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, everyone became a devotee. They began to chant "Krsna" and "Hari" and all the holy names. They all were merged in a great ecstasy of love, and they began to dance, raising their arms.
Always hearing them chant the holy names of Lord Krsna, the residents of all the other villages also became Vaisnavas.
By hearing the holy name of Krsna, the entire country became Vaisnava. It was as if the nectar of the holy name of Krsna overflooded the entire country.
After some time, when Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu manifested His external consciousness, a priest of the Lord Kurma Deity gave Him various offerings.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mode of preaching has already been explained, and I shall not repeat the explanation. In whichever village the Lord entered, His behavior was the same.
In one village there was a Vedic brahmana named Kurma. He invited Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to his home with great respect and devotion.
This brahmana brought Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to his home, washed His lotus feet and, with his family members, drank that water.
With great affection and respect, that Kurma brahmana made Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu eat all kinds of food. After that, the remnants were shared by all the members of the family.
The brahmana then began to pray, "O my Lord, Your lotus feet are meditated upon by Lord Brahma, and these very lotus feet have come into my home.
"My dear Lord, there is no limit to my great fortune. It cannot be described. Today my family, birth and riches have all been glorified."
The brahmana begged Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, "My dear Lord, kindly show me favor and let me go with You. I can no longer tolerate the waves of misery caused by materialistic life."
This statement is applicable for everyone, regardless of how rich or prosperous one may be. Narottama dasa Thakura has confirmed this statement: samsara-visanale, diva-nisi hiya jvale. He states that the materialistic way of life causes a burning in the heart. One cannot make any provisions for the troublesome life of the material world. It is a fact that one may be very happy as far as riches are concerned and one may be very opulent in every respect, yet one has to manage the visayas to meet the demands of the body and of so many family members and subordinates. One has to take so much trouble to minister to others. Narottama dasa Thakura therefore prays: visaya chadiya kabe suddha habe mana. Thus one must become freed from the materialistic way of life. One has to merge himself in the ocean of transcendental bliss. In other words, one cannot relish transcendental bliss without being freed from the materialistic way of life. It appears that the brahmana named Kurma was materially very happy, for he expressed his family tradition as janma-kula-dhana. Now, being glorious, he wanted to leave all these material opulences. He wanted to travel with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. According to the Vedic way of civilization, one should leave his family after attaining fifty years of age and go to the forest of Vrndavana to devote the rest of his life to the service of the Lord.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, "Don't speak like that again. Better to remain at home and chant the holy name of Krsna always.
It is not advisable in this Age of Kali to leave one's family suddenly, for people are not trained as proper brahmacaris and grhasthas. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised the brahmana not to be too eager to give up family life. It would be better to remain with his family and try to become purified by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra regularly under the direction of a spiritual master. This is the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If this principle is followed by everyone, there is no need to accept sannyasa. In the next verse Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advises everyone to become an ideal householder by offenselessly chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and teaching the same principle to everyone he meets.
"Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land." [Purport omitted for brevity]
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu further advised the brahmana Kurma, "If you follow this instruction, your materialistic life at home will not obstruct your spiritual advancement. Indeed, if you follow these regulative principles, we will again meet here, or, rather, you will never lose My company."
This is an opportunity for everyone. If one simply follows the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, under the guidance of His representative, and chants the Hare Krsna mantra, teaching everyone as far as possible the same principle, the contamination of the materialistic way of life will not even touch him. It does not matter whether one lives in a holy place like Vrndavana, Navadvipa or Jagannatha Puri or in the midst of European cities, where the materialistic way of life is very prominent. If a devotee follows the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he lives in the company of the Lord. Wherever he lives, he converts that place into Vrndavana and Navadvipa. This means that materialism cannot touch him. This is the secret of success for one advancing in Krsna consciousness.
At whosoever's house Sri Caitanya accepted His alms by taking prasada, He would convert the dwellers to His sankirtana movement and advise them just as He advised the brahmana named Kurma.
The cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is explained here very nicely. One who surrenders to Him and is ready to follow Him with heart and soul does not need to change his location. Nor is it necessary for one to change status. One may remain a householder, a medical practitioner, an engineer or whatever. It doesn't matter. One only has to follow the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and instruct relatives and friends in the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. One has to learn humility and meekness at home, following the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and in that way one's life will be spiritually successful. One should not try to be an artificially advanced devotee, thinking, "I am a first-class devotee." Such thinking should be avoided. It is best not to accept any disciples. One has to become purified at home by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and preaching the principles enunciated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Thus one can become a spiritual master and be freed from the contamination of material life.
There are many sahajiyas who decry the activities of the six Gosvamis--Srila Rupa, Sanatana, Raghunatha dasa, Bhatta Raghunatha, Jiva and Gopala Bhatta Gosvamis--who are the personal associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and who enlightened society by writing books on devotional service. Similarly, Narottama dasa Thakura and other great acaryas like Madhvacarya, Ramanujacarya and others accepted many thousands of disciples to induce them to render devotional service. However, there is a class of sahajiyas who think that these activities are opposed to the principles of devotional service. Indeed, they consider such activities simply another phase of materialism. Thus opposing the principles of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, they commit offenses at His lotus feet. They should better consider His instructions and, instead of seeking to be considered humble and meek, should refrain from criticizing the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who engage in preaching. To protect His preachers, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has given much clear advice in these verses of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
While on His tour, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would spend the night at a temple or on the roadside. Whenever He accepted food from a person, He would give him the same advice He gave the brahmana named Kurma. He adopted this process until He returned from His South Indian tour to Jagannatha Puri.
Thus I have described the Lord's behavior elaborately in the case of Kurma. In this way, you will know Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's dealings throughout South India.
Thus Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would remain at night in one place and the next morning, after bathing, start again.
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu left, the brahmana Kurma followed Him a great distance, but eventually Lord Caitanya took care to send him back home.
There was also a brahmana named Vasudeva, who was a great person but was suffering from leprosy. Indeed, his body was filled with living worms.
Although suffering from leprosy, the brahmana Vasudeva was enlightened. As soon as one worm fell from his body, he would pick it up and place it back again in the same location.
Then one night Vasudeva heard of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's arrival, and in the morning he came to see the Lord at the house of Kurma.
When the leper Vasudeva came to Kurma's house to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he was informed that the Lord had already left. The leper then fell to the ground unconscious.
When Vasudeva, the leper brahmana, was lamenting due to not being able to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord immediately returned to that spot and embraced him.
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu touched him, both the leprosy and his distress went to a distant place. Indeed, Vasudeva's body became very beautiful, to his great happiness.
The brahmana Vasudeva was astonished to behold the wonderful mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and he began to recite a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, touching the Lord's lotus feet.
He said, " 'Who am I? A sinful, poor friend of a brahmana. And who is Krsna? The Supreme Personality of Godhead, full in six opulences. Nonetheless, He has embraced me with His two arms.' "
This verse was spoken by Sudama Brahmana in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.81.16), in connection with his meeting Lord Krsna.
The brahmana Vasudeva continued, "O my merciful Lord, such mercy is not possible for ordinary living entities. Such mercy can be found only in You. Upon seeing me, even a sinful person goes away due to my bad bodily odor. Yet You have touched me. Such is the independent behavior of the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
Being meek and humble, the brahmana Vasudeva worried that he would become proud after being cured by the grace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
To protect the brahmana, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised him to chant the Hare Krsna mantra incessantly. By doing so, he would never become unnecessarily proud.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also advised Vasudeva to preach about Krsna and thus liberate living entities. As a result, Krsna would very soon accept him as His devotee.
Although Vasudeva Vipra was a leper and had suffered greatly, still Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cured him. The only return the Lord wanted was that Vasudeva preach the instructions of Krsna and liberate all human beings. That is the process of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Each and every member of this Society was rescued from a very abominable condition, but now they are engaged in preaching the cult of Krsna consciousness. They are not only cured of the disease called materialism but are also living a very happy life. Everyone accepts them as great devotees of Krsna, and their qualities are manifest in their very faces. If one wants to be recognized as a devotee by Krsna, he should take to preaching work, following the advice of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Then one will undoubtedly attain the lotus feet of Sri Krsna Caitanya, Lord Krsna Himself, without delay.
After instructing the brahmana Vasudeva in that way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu disappeared from that place. Then the two brahmanas, Kurma and Vasudeva, embraced each other and began to cry, remembering the transcendental qualities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Thus I have described how Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu reclaimed the leper Vasudeva and so received the name Vasudevamrta-prada.
Thus I end my description of the first tour of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, His visiting the temple of Kurma and His liberating the leper brahmana Vasudeva.
One who hears these pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with great faith will surely very soon attain the lotus feet of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
I admit that I do not know the beginning or the end of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes. However, whatever I have written I have heard from the mouths of great personalities.
The name Vasudevamrta-prada is mentioned in the verses composed by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. When a person actually revives his consciousness with thoughts of Krsna by the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he revives his spiritual life and becomes addicted to the service of the Lord. Only then can he act as an acarya. In other words, everyone should engage in preaching, following in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In this way one will be very much appreciated by Lord Krsna and will quickly be recognized by Him. Actually a devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu must engage in preaching in order to increase the followers of the Lord. By thus preaching actual Vedic knowledge all over the world, one will benefit all mankind.
O devotees, please do not consider my offenses in this regard. Your lotus feet are my only shelter.
Praying at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, always desiring their mercy, I, Krsnadasa, narrate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, following in their footsteps.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, Seventh Chapter, describing the liberation of the brahmana Vasudeva and the Lord's tour of South India.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
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