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The Yoga Dictionary

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The Sanskrit language is rich in words to communicate ideas about spiritual life, yoga, and God realization. This dictionary, appearing by installments in BACK TO GODHEAD, focuses upon the most important of these words (and, occasionally, upon relevant English terms) and explains what they mean.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu—Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the great apostle of love of Godhead whose teachings form the essence of the present-day Hare Krsna movement. He taught that the highest object of worship, the Supreme Lord, is Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appeared in Vrndavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja. Lord Caitanya recommended the way the damsels of Vrndavana worshiped Krsna as the highest mode of worship of God. The perfect, spotless literature for understanding God is the Srimad-Bhagavatam, or Bhagavata Purana. And the ultimate goal of life. Lord Caitanya taught, is pure love of God.

Lord Caitanya’s life, which began in Bengal, India, in 1486, was one of extraordinary devotion to Krsna. At an early age, Lord Caitanya renounced the comforts of home to devote Himself exclusively to Krsna’s service. He traveled throughout India, especially southern India, to teach the chanting of Hare Krsna and the science of devotion to Krsna. After these travels, He spent His last years in the holy city of Puri, in the province of Orissa, where He revealed the highest ecstasies of love of Godhead in the company of His most intimate disciples. He left the world at the age of 48.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has described the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya in detail in his Teachings of Lord Caitanya and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (an English translation, with commentary, of an early Bengali work).

Although Lord Caitanya presented Himself in the role of a devotee of Krsna, His followers accept Him to be identical with Krsna Himself. To teach the science of devotional service, to distribute love of Godhead, and to taste the sweetness of devotional service Himself, the Supreme Lord appeared on earth in the role of His own devotee. The scholarly followers of Lord Caitanya ascertained His true identity and supported this with evidence from Vedic literatures.

Although Lord Caitanya Himself was renowned as a great scholar, He left in writing only eight Sanskrit verses, which are known as the Siksastaka. These present the essence of His teachings. But Lord Caitanya also instructed His followers in the details of the science of devotion, and He requested them to write books to explain this science further. Lord Caitanya’s followers, therefore, have “left the world a rich treasury of literature to help us reestablish our relationship with God, act in that relationship, and ultimately attain pure love of God.

The present Hare Krsna movement strictly follows the teachings of Lord Caitanya. It presents these teachings in books in an ever-growing number of languages and shows how to follow these teachings in the course of one’s own life.

Caitanya-bhagavata—a famous book describing the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This biography of Lord Caitanya was written in Bengali by Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura. It particularly describes Lord Caitanya’s early years.

Caitanya-caritamrta—a biography of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu written by Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami. The author of Caitanya-bhagavata summarized Lord Caitanya’s life and then proceeded to describe it in detail. But in due course the book became voluminous, so he left much of Lord Caitanya’s later activities untouched. It is these activities that Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami therefore takes up in Caitanya-caritamrta. This book also most vividly describes Lord Caitanya’s teachings. It is the best source of information about the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Krsnadasa Kaviraja wrote Sri Caitanya-caritamrta in his extreme old age. Because of some family disagreement, by Krsna’s arrangement he had left home and gone to Vrndavana, the place on earth most sacred to Lord Krsna. The devotees there requested him to write down the later pastimes of Lord Caitanya, so at their request he wrote Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, a literary treasure of philosophy and devotion.

Caitanya-caritamrta is available in a seventeen-volume English edition with the original Bengali text, English equivalents for each Bengali word, and a translation and extensive commentary by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

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