An excerpt from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta,
A new translation, with purports,
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Four hundred years ago, by the request of the greatest transcendentalists of his time, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami wrote Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, an account of the teachings and activities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is the Supreme Lord Himself, Sri Krishna, in the form of His own pure devotee. Although Krishnadasa Kaviraja was so advanced in age that the task appeared almost impossible, he eventually composed this work, in three sections, describing the early, middle and final pastimes of Sri Caitanya and His essential instructions to His most intimate disciples.
The first section, entitled “Adi-lila” describes the first twenty-four years of Lord Caitanya’s life, including His childhood and household activities, as well as the all-important philosophical discussions He held with the greatest scholars of His time, after He entered the renounced order of life.
Lord Krishna, in His Bhagavad-gita, declares that His mission is to annihilate the demoniac and establish the pious; and, accordingly, accounts of the activities of the Godhead’s incarnations tell of numerous contests between the Supreme Lord and great atheistic personalities. But Lord Caitanya, the golden avatara, is called maha-vadanya-avatara, or the most munificent incarnation of Godhead, for He settled such conflicts by congregational chanting and persuasive argument and thereby blessed everyone He met with love of Godhead. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, therefore, not only relates the most confidential pastimes of the golden avatara, but also fully explicates His sublime devotional philosophy.
The Ninth Chapter of the Adi-lila, or first section, describes the Caitanya tree, a most wonderful species, which bears the fruit of genuine self-realization, or love of Godhead. By understanding this tree, one can realize the continuing and ever-increasing potency of the Krishna consciousness movement. The trunk of this tree is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and from Him, in unbroken succession, stem various branches that gradually span the entire globe in the form of the Krishna consciousness movement. One who hears of this transcendental tree will certainly have the seeds of devotional love of Godhead implanted within his heart and will appreciate the divine potency of the Krishna consciousness movement.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has translated Sri Caitanya-caritamrta into English with full explanations for the purport of each verse. Here, in the following excerpt from this work, His Divine Grace explains how the distribution of the fruits of the Caitanya tree is the ultimate benediction for the world, and, as well, he reveals the compass of the unlimited mercy of the Personality of Godhead.
Synonyms: etavat—up to this; janma—of birth; saphalyam—perfection; dehinam—of every living being; iha—in this world; dehisu—toward those who are embodied; pranaih—by life; arthaih—by wealth; dhiya—by intelligence; vaca—by words; sreyah—eternal good fortune; acaranam—acting practically; sada—always.
Translation: “It is the duty of every living being toperform welfare activities for the benefit of others with his life, wealth, intelligence and words.”
Purport: There are two kinds of general activities—sreyas, or activities which are ultimately beneficial and auspicious, and preyas, or those which are immediately beneficial and auspicious. For example, children are very fond of playing. They don’t want to go to school to receive an education, and they think that to play all day and night and enjoy with their friends is the aim of life. Even in the transcendental life of Lord Krishna, we find that when He was a child He was very fond of playing with His friends of the same age, the cowherd boys. He would not even go home to take His dinner. Mother Yasoda would have to come out to induce Him to come home. Thus it is a child’s nature to engage all day and night in playing, not caring even for his health and other important concerns. This is an example of preyas, or immediately beneficial activities, but there are also sreyas, or activities which are ultimately auspicious. According to Vedic civilization, a human being must be God conscious. He should understand what God is, what this material world is, who he is and what their interrelationships are. This is called sreyas, or ultimately auspicious activity.
In this verse, which is quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is said that one should be interested in sreyas. To achieve the ultimate goal of sreyas, or good fortune, one should engage everything, including his life, wealth and words, not only for himself but for others also. However, unless one is interested in sreyas in his own life, he cannot preach of sreyas for the benefit of others.
This verse cited by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu applies to human beings, not to animals. As indicated in the previous verse by the words manusya-janma, these injunctions are for human beings. Unfortunately, human beings, although they have the bodies of men, are becoming less than animals in their behavior. This is the fault of modern education. Modern educators do not know the aim of human life; they are simply concerned with how to develop the economic condition of their countries or of human society. This is also necessary; the Vedic civilization considers all aspects of human life, including dharma (religion), artha (economic development), kama (sense gratification) and moksa (liberation). But humanity’s first concern should be religion. To be religious, one must abide by the orders of God, but unfortunately people in this age have rejected religion, and they are busy in economic development. Therefore they will adopt any means to get money. For economic development one does not need to get money by hook or by crook; one needs only sufficient money to maintain his body and soul. However, because modern economic development is going on with no religious background, people have become lusty, greedy and mad after money. They are simply developing the qualities of rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance), neglecting the other quality of nature, sattva (goodness), and the brahminical qualifications. Therefore the entire society is in chaos.
The Bhagavatam says that it is the duty of an advanced human being to act in such a way as to facilitate human society’s attainment of the ultimate goal of life. There is a similar verse in the VisnuPurana, Part Three, Chapter Twelve, verse 45, which is quoted in this chapter of Caitanya-caritamrta as verse 43.
praninam upakaraya yad eveha paratra ca
karmana manasa vaca tad eva matiman bhajet
Synonyms:praninam—of all living entities; upakaraya—for the benefit; yat—whichever; eva—certainly; iha—in this world or in this life; paratra—in the next life; ca—and; karmana—by work; manasa—by the mind; vaca—by words; tat—that; eva—certainly; matiman—an intelligent man; bhajet—mustact.
Translation:“By his work, thoughts and words, an intelligent man must perform actions which will be beneficial for all living entities in this life and in the next.”
Purport: Unfortunately, people in general do not know what is to take place in the next life. To prepare oneself for his next life is common sense, and it is a principle of the Vedic civilization, but presently people throughout the world do not believe in a next life. Even influential professors and other educators say that as soon as the body is finished, everything is finished. This atheistic philosophy is killing human civilization. People are irresponsibly performing all sorts of sinful activities, and thus the privilege of the human life is being taken away by the educational propaganda of the so-called leaders. Actually it is a fact that this life is meant for preparation for the next life; by evolution one has come through many species or forms, and this human form of life is an opportunity to promote oneself to a better life. This is explained in Bhagavad-gita:
yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino ‘pi mam
“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.” (Bg. 9.25) Therefore, one may promote himself to the higher planetary systems, which are the residence of the demigods, one can promote himself to the Pitrloka, one can remain on earth, or one can also go back home, back to Godhead. This is further confirmed by Bhagavad-gita (4.9): tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna. After giving up the body, one who knows Krishna in truth does not come back again to this world to accept a material body, but he goes back home, back to Godhead. This knowledge is in the sastras, and people should be given the opportunity to understand it. Even if one is not able to go back to Godhead in one life, the Vedic civilization at least gives one the opportunity to be promoted to the higher planetary systems where the demigods live and not glide down again to animal life. At present, people do not understand this knowledge, although it constitutes a great science, for they are uneducated and trained not to accept it. This is the horrible condition of modern human society. As such, the Krishna consciousness movement is the only hope to direct the attention of intelligent men to a greater benefit in life.
Translation: “I am merely a gardener. I have neither a kingdom nor very great riches. I simply have some fruits and flowers that I wish to utilize to achieve piety in My life.”
Purport: In performing welfare activities for human society, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu presents Himself as being not very rich, thus indicating that a man need not be rich or opulent to act for the welfare of humanity. Sometimes rich men are very proud that they can perform beneficial activities for human society whereas others cannot. A practical example is that when there is a scarcity of food in India on account of meager rainfall, some members of the richer class very proudly distribute foodstuffs, making huge arrangements with the help of the government, as if merely by such activities people will be benefited. But suppose there were no food grains. How would the rich men distribute food? Production of grains is completely in the hands of God. If there were no rain, there would be no grains, and these so-called rich men would be unable to distribute grains to the people.
The real purpose of life, therefore, is to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Rupa Gosvami describes in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu that devotional service is so exalted that it is beneficial and auspicious for every man. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also declared that to propagate the bhakti cult of devotional service in human society, one does not need to be very rich. Anyone can do it and thus render the highest benefit to humanity if he knows the art. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu takes the part of a gardener because although a gardener is naturally not a very rich man, he has some fruits and flowers. Any man can collect some fruits and flowers and satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead in devotional service, as recommended in Bhagavad-gita:
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” (Bg. 9.26) One cannot satisfy the Supreme Lord by his riches, wealth or opulent position, but anyone can collect a little fruit or flower and offer it to the Lord. The Lord says that if one brings such an offering in devotion, He will accept it and eat it. When Krishna eats, the entire world becomes satisfied. There is the story in the Mahabharata illustrating how by Krishna’s eating, the 60,000 disciples of Durvasa Muni were all satisfied. Therefore it is a fact that if by our life (pranaih), by our wealth (arthaih), by our intelligence (dhiya) or by our words (vaca) we can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead, naturally the entire world will become happy. Therefore our main duty is to satisfy the Supreme Godhead by our actions, our money and our words. This is very simple. Even if one does not have money, he can preach the Hare Krishna mantra to everyone. One can go everywhere, to every home, and request everyone to chant the Hare Krishna mantra. Thus the entire world situation will become very happy and peaceful.
Synonyms:mali hana—although I am the gardener; vrksa ha-ilan—I am also the tree; ei ta’—this is; icchate—by My will; sarva-pranira—of all living entities; upakara—welfare; haya—there is; vrksa—the tree; haite—from.
Translation: “Although I am acting as a gardener, I also want to be the tree, for thus I can bestow benefit upon all.”
Purport: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the most benevolent personality in human society because His only desire is to make people happy. His sankirtana movement is especially meant for the purpose of making people happy. He wanted to become the tree Himself because a tree is supposed to be the most benevolent living entity. In the following verse, which is from Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.22.33), Krishna Himself highly praised the existence of a tree.
Synonyms:aho—oh, just see; esam—of these trees; varam—superior; janma—birth; sarva—all; prani—living entities; upajivinam—one who provides maintenance; su-janasya iva—like the great personalities; yesam—from whose; vai—certainly; vimukhah—disappointed; yanti—goes away; na—never; arthinah—onewho is asking for something.
Translation: “Just see how these trees are maintaining every living entity! Their birth is successful. Their behavior is just like that of great personalities, for anyone who asks anything from a tree never goes away disappointed.”
Purport: According to Vedic civilization, ksatriyas are considered to be great personalities because if anyone goes to a ksatriya king to ask for charity, the king will never refuse. The trees are compared to those noble ksatriyas because everyone derives all kinds of benefits from them—some people take fruit, others take flowers, others take leaves, others take twigs, and others even cut the tree, and yet the tree gives to everyone without hesitation.
Unnecessarily cutting trees without consideration is another example of human debauchery. The paper industry cuts many hundreds and thousands of trees for its mills, and with the paper so much rubbish literature is published for the whimsical satisfaction of human society. Unfortunately, although these industrialists are now happy in this life by dint of their industrial development, they do not know that they will incur the responsibility for killing these living entities who are in the forms of trees. A needy person may derive many advantages from trees and also from many animals, but in modern civilization people have become so ungrateful that they exploit the trees and animals and kill them. These are some of the sinful activities of modern civilization.
This verse, quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam, was spoken by Lord Krishna to His friends when He was taking rest underneath a tree after His pastimes of stealing the clothes of the gopis (vastra-harana-lila). By quoting this verse, Caitanya Mahaprabhu teaches us that we should be tolerant and beneficial like trees, which give everything to the needy persons who come underneath them.