Transcription of a lecture by
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The greatest spiritual master of the Hare Krsna movement, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, asked His disciple Rupa Gosvami to go to Vrndavana and preach His mission. This is disciplic succession. One should not think, “I have understood everything from my spiritual master; now let me sit down tightly.” This is also nice, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission is to spread the cult. He was a very learned scholar and a very beautiful young man. He had a very beautiful wife and very affectionate mother and was a respectable brahmana. Everyone looked up to Him; by His one command He could gather hundreds of thousands of men to start a civil disobedience movement. However, in spite of such a sublime position in householder life, He took sannyasa, the renounced order of life, at the age of twenty-four years. He could have satisfied Himself with sense gratification—”Let Me remain very peacefully at home. I have My good wife, My mother, and the public.” But He took sannyasa. That is Krsna consciousness.
Krsna wanted everyone to surrender unto Him, so Krsna came Himself as Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach how to preach this process of devotional service. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, in the incarnation of a pure devotee, so He set the example. Not only did He Himself show how to become Krsna conscious, but His disciples also did so. After teaching His principal disciple, Rupa Gosvami, about the principles of devotional service, Lord Caitanya said, “It is your duty to go preach.” When a disciple receives instruction from his spiritual master he has an obligation to the spiritual master. This is called guru-daksina. After being initiated and instructed, the disciple should offer service: “My dear master, what can I do for you?” I also asked my spiritual master what I could do, and he asked me to try to preach Krsna consciousness in the Western world. This is the duty of the disciple. He should not only receive instruction; he becomes indebted to his spiritual master for the knowledge imparted. Therefore he must also serve him. Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructs that Krsna consciousness means to serve Krsna and the spiritual master simultaneously, because we are elevated by the mercy of these two personalities, Krsna and the spiritual master. When one is very sincere, Krsna, who is seated in everyone’s heart, gives him a qualified spiritual master. By the grace of Krsna one can have a bona fide spiritual master, and by the grace of the spiritual master one makes advancement in Krsna consciousness. This is the process.
The seed of devotional service is achieved by the combined mercy of Krsna and the spiritual master. Therefore Lord Caitanya told Rupa Gosvami, “It is your duty to accept what I say. Please go to Vrndavana and execute My order. I have given you hints; now expand upon them.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu was the greatest spiritual master, and now He and Rupa Gosvami were being separated, and it was not known when they would meet again. Therefore Lord Caitanya pacified him. “Don’t be sorry. You will again come to Jagannatha Puri, and we shall meet again.” Rupa Gosvami could not deny this, but he was so afflicted that as soon as Lord Caitanya embraced him and got on a boat to start across the river, Rupa Gosvami could not say anything but at once fainted and fell down due to feelings of separation. There was a Maharastrian brahmana who was also a great devotee of Lord Caitanya and was also present there. Somehow or other he lifted Rupa Gosvami and took him to his own house.
Rupa Gosvami was accompanied by Anupama, his younger brother. Anupama’s son is Jiva Gosvami, the celebrated scholar in the line of disciplic succession. When his father and uncle went away from home, this Jiva Gosvami was only ten years old, but he was such an intelligent boy that he decided, “My father and my uncle have left home to understand Krsna. Why should I remain at home?” So he also left home at the age of ten years. But he knew that because he was a young boy he would not be of much help. “If I go to my father or uncle, what shall I do there?” He knew that they had gone to Vrndavana on a great mission for Caitanya Mahaprabhu. “If I go to live there, then I must be qualified to assist them.” Therefore Jiva Gosvami went to Benares and became a very great scholar and philosopher. He was an accredited scholar both in literature and philosophy, so when he was a young man, after being fully educated, he went to Rupa Gosvami, his uncle. In the meantime, he could not see his father, but his uncle was there, so Jiva Gosvami became his disciple, and he proved himself the greatest scholar and philosopher in the world. A great Sanskrit scholar in Calcutta once declared in a meeting that there has never been a philosopher and scholar like Jiva Gosvami in the world, nor in the future will there ever be one. His erudition is admitted by all scholarly circles. Even the Mayavadi school, who are against our Vaisnava philosophy, also study the theses of Jiva Gosvami. When I was in Bombay there was a very influential Mayavadi sannyasi who told me at a meeting, “I am studying Jiva Gosvami’s philosophy.” I said, “Very good.” He was a Mayavadi sannyasi, yet within his heart he had studied him very carefully—in fact, he was a devotee of Krsna. I went to his asrama, and I saw that he was worshiping Radha-Krsna Deities. This very great scholar could present everything very nicely, and in public he would speak Mayavadi philosophy, impersonalism, but secretly, despite his sectarian view, he was worshiping Radha-Krsna. In the last meeting I declared to the audience, “Your spiritual master is speaking impersonalism here, but secretly he is worshiping Radha-Krsna at home. You should see. He has very good devotion for Krsna; he has Radha-Krsna Deities and is worshiping nicely.” Jiva Gosvami was such a scholar that the greatest scholars among the Sankarite impersonalists admit his superiority. Sankara’s philosophy has so much word jugglery that it is very difficult for an ordinary man to understand, so generally the Sankarites are mostly scholars. But nevertheless they admit defeat before Jiva Gosvami. This Jiva Gosvami was Rupa Gosvami’s nephew.
The Lord’s Reception
When Lord Caitanya went to Benares (Varanasi), one of his disciples, Candrasekhara Acarya, who was by caste considered a sudra, gladly received Him. Although Candrasekhara Acarya was not a brahmana, whenever Lord Caitanya visited Benares, He used to stop at Candrasekhara’s house. Before Lord Caitanya came to Benares, Candrasekhara Acarya dreamt that the Lord had already come, so in the morning he went out and met Lord Caitanya. When he saw Lord Caitanya he was so glad that he fell down at His feet, and he received Him very obediently at his home. There was another devotee, Tapana Misra, who was a very learned scholar, and as soon as he heard that Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu had arrived, he invited Him to take His meals at his house.
According to the Mayavadis, a sannyasi should not cook. Therefore, anywhere a sannyasi goes in a village, the village inhabitants, especially the householder brahmanas, invite him to come and take prasadam. It is a rule that a sannyasi cannot touch fire. (As far as we are concerned, we never touch fire for ourselves. We touch fire for Krsna. As sannyasis we should not touch fire, but because we have to cook for Krsna, the situation is different.)
After Caitanya Mahaprabhu had taken a meal at his house, Tapana Misra requested Him, “My dear sir, I beg to request that as long as You remain at Varanasi, please do not accept anyone else’s invitation. That is my request.”
Lord Caitanya knew that He would stay at Benares for four or five days, and He did not want to accept invitations from the Mayavadi sannyasis. Benares is full of Mayavadi sannyasis—there is not a single Vaisnava sannyasi. Not just Benares, anywhere. In the United States, when I first came, I was perhaps the only Vaisnava sannyasi. There were so many svamis who came, but they were all Mayavadis. Vaisnava sannyasis are very rare, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu did not accept any invitation to dine with the Mayavadi sannyasis. Generally we also follow that course. Because the Mayavadis do not believe in God, we call them atheists, although they are very learned scholars. Therefore we almost never accept an invitation from a Mayavadi sannyasi. Lord Caitanya made it a point to reside at Candrasekhara’s house, and He accepted the proposal that He take His meals at Tapana Misra’s. Another friend, a brahmana, also learned that Caitanya Mahaprabhu had returned to Benares, so he also came and offered his respects. There were many admirers and devotees, respectable ksatriyas and brahmanas, and they began to come to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu. These events are described in Caitanya-caritamrta by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami. In closing the chapter describing the talks between Rupa Gosvami and Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he offers his blessings to us and affirms that anyone who hears this dialogue with faith and devotion will surely develop in spiritual life. He offers loving affection and obeisances to the feet of the gosvamis, especially Rupa Gosvami.
In describing the activities of Lord Caitanya, Krsnadasa Kaviraja writes that His activities delivered even the mlecchas, or those who don’t follow the Vedas. Just as those who don’t follow the Christian Bible are called heathens, those who don’t follow the Vedas are called mlecchas, and even those people Caitanya Mahaprabhu delivered from nescience. But He could not deliver the Mayavadis. Therefore they are less than mlecchas. The word Mayavadi is composed of two elements—maya, matter, and vadi, one who sticks to this principle. Matter extends to the point of intelligence. The grossest materialist is the sense gratifier, and above him is the mental speculator. And the attempt to reach spiritual perfection by physical exercise, by making the proper physical adjustments to concentrate the mind, is also material. Therefore neither the process of karma, whereby the karmi works hard for sense gratification, nor the process of jnana, whereby the philosopher seeks a solution by speculation, nor yoga, whereby perfection is sought by exercise, is on the spiritual platform. The spiritualist is he who knows that he is constitutionally spiritual and acts that way. Devotees know that they are part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit and that to engage in service is spiritualism. Both the Sankarites and the Buddhists are Mayavadis. Formerly there was no animosity between the Buddhists and the Hindus. Lord Buddha started meditation near Gaya, which is near Benares. The Buddhists were Hindus, but since Buddhism was driven out of India it has been considered a different sect.
The Greatest Personality
Srila Prabhupada and devotees hold sankirtana exactly as taught by Lord Caitanya.
When Lord Caitanya was on His way to Vrndavana, He never made His headquarters anywhere but in Jagannatha Puri. But He stopped at Benares and resided with Candrasekhara and took prasadam with Tapana Misra. His only propaganda was Hare Krsna, and when He passed on the road all the people joined Him. Even when insignificant people saw Him they liked to chant, and He drew crowds. In three or four days He became famous. The propaganda of the young sannyasi reached the Mayavadis, who indulged in backbiting. “Here is a sannyasi, and He is dancing.” Dancing and singing were strictly forbidden to Mayavadi sannyasis. (It appears, however, that kirtana, chanting, is recommended in the Bible, and today even Mayavadis are taking to it.) They said of Lord Caitanya: “Here is a sannyasi dancing and singing. He doesn’t give attention to studying Vedanta.” Sometimes Krsna conscious devotees are considered foolish because they have no stock but chanting. People want to talk of philosophy, but simply by chanting all is complete. Criticism was going on: “There are other sentimentalists who are also foolish and ignorant; therefore they are following this sannyasi.” When Lord Caitanya was criticized in that way, He smiled. “What can I do?” He said. He was very grave: “Let them criticize, and let Me continue My activities. That’s all.” Because He was anxious to visit Vrndavana, He did not care. He left Benares after three or four days. Although He was criticized, He did not challenge, but went to Vrndavana.
Lord Caitanya came back to Benares, however, on His way from Mathura to Jagannatha Puri, and again He stayed at the house of Candrasekhara, although he was not a brahmana but a sudra. Why? Because He is completely independent.
Because He is Krsna. Krsna sometimes takes the incarnation of a hog. The hog is considered to be the lowest of animals because it eats stool. Just as those who are dog-eaters are considered the lowest of human society, similarly amongst the animals the hog is considered the lowest because it eats stool. But Krsna took the appearance of a hog. That does not mean, however, that Krsna became a hog. He is full independent. What sort of hog was He? That hog was so big that He covered almost half of the universe. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam there is a very nice explanation of the hog incarnation. The residents of the three highest planets—Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka—are the most pious within the material world. They were praying, and when the hog incarnation sprinkled water upon those three planets by shaking His body, the residents thought. “We are becoming purified.” Although they are considered to be the most pious and purified residents of this material world, still they prayed, “We are becoming purified.”
Krsna and His devotees are independent. They are not under the rules and regulations of this material world. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu set an example by staying at a place which was considered abominable by other sannyasis. Candrasekhara was a clerk. The clerical occupation was offered to the sudras, the laborer class. Recently in Calcutta, at a European firm, there was a strike of the clerks. Their chief man met with the manager and asked, “Do you want to compromise with us?” But the manager said, “No, I don’t want to compromise with you. I don’t care about you because you are educated laborers.” He gave that title to the clerks—educated laborers. Actually in Hindu society the clerks were called educated laborers—lekhaksudras. But spiritually there is no such distinction. We should always remember that materially, in every society and every country, there are always higher and lower classes, but spiritually there is no such consideration. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s propaganda. He made Haridasa Thakur, a Mohammedan, the spiritual master for sankirtana, and He picked up Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami, who were rejected by Hindu society, and made them gosvamis. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s distinctive feature. Here we see that He honored a laborer, a sudra clerk who was inferior in society, by staying at his home. Ramananda Raya was also asudra, and he was a householder and a politician, a governor, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu took instruction from him. Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave him the preference of being His teacher. Ramananda Raya was hesitating: “Sir, You are a sannyasi in the highest stage of elevation. and in Your former life You belonged to the brahmana sect, so You belong to the highest class. And I am a sudra, a householder and a politician. How low I am in comparison to You, yet You are taking instruction from me. So I am feeling hesitation.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “No, don’t feel hesitation. It doesn’t matter whether a man is a laborer, a brahmana, a sannyasi, or a householder. Anyone who knows the science of Krsna is a spiritual master.” Anyone—that is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s highest recommendation, especially for the Hindus who have so much caste consciousness. Caitanya Mahaprabhu broke all the barriers. His simple teaching was that anyone who is Krsna conscious is the greatest personality in the world. He did not care what people would say because He was staying at a sudra’s house. He stayed with a sudra and took meals with another brahmana who was not sannyasi, and in this way He resided in Benares.
“Lord Caitanya said, ‘It is your duty to go preach'”
While Lord Caitanya was in Benares He met Sanatana Gosvami and instructed him for two months about Krsna consciousness and how it should be executed. But Tapana Misra and Candrasekhara submitted with great regret that the Mayavadi sannyasis were criticizing His activities. “Because You are chanting and You do not give much attention to the reading of Vedanta philosophy, they are criticizing, “What kind of sannyasi is He? He does not take part in studying Vedanta philosophy. On sentiment He is chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, and some innocent people are following Him.’ ” It is the duty of a devotee to be intolerant of blasphemy, so they told the Lord, “The criticism by the Mavavadis has become unbearable. Something must be done, otherwise we shall die or commit suicide.”
There are three kinds of devotees—those who are in the lowest status, those who are in the intermediate status and those who are in the highest status. Those who are in the lowest status are beginners. Such devotees go to the temple, church or mosque and offer prayers to the Lord with great devotion and faith. but they have no knowledge about other devotees, nor do they know their duty to others. A devotee should not be satisfied simply with elevating himself in spiritual advancement; he has other duties also. There are innocent persons who have forgotten their relationship with God, and it is the duty of a devotee to enlighten them. That is required. Just like Lord Jesus Christ. He also preached the science of God, Krsna consciousness. This is the duty of a devotee, or a good son of God. But those who are in the neophyte status have not developed the consciousness that one has to preach the philosophy of God consciousness or Krsna consciousness to others. They are simply satisfied in themselves. They go to the church or mosque or temple and offer their prayers in devotion. That’s all.
One who has advanced spiritually to the next stage sees four objects of vision—the atheist, the innocent, God, and God’s devotees. Therefore a person who has elevated himself to this stage of Krsna consciousness has four kinds of dealings. Firstly, because he knows God, he therefore loves God. This is called prema. His only lovable object is God or Krsna. Secondly, because he loves God, he makes friendship with devotees of God. But God is always the center. If one loves God, then one can love others also, perfectly. For example, suppose a girl is married to a boy and the boy has a father, mother, brothers and other relatives. As soon as the girl comes to the house of her husband, the father of the husband becomes her father-in-law, and the mother of the husband becomes her mother-in-law. Therefore, although before marriage she had no connection with all these people, now she has a permanent relationship with the father-in-law, the mother-in-law, the brother-in-law, etc. Similarly, as soon as we make our connection with Krsna, that connection is permanent. Our relationship with Krsna or God is eternal. We have forgotten, but as soon as it is revived—”I am part and parcel of the Supreme.” or “I am son of the Supreme.”—then our relationship with other sons of God becomes clear. That is universal brotherhood. One who is in the second stage of development knows God and loves God, and in relationship with God he loves the devotees of God and makes friendships with them. And as far as the innocent are concerned, the innocent are those who are not offenders but do not know what is God. They are ordinary men. The person who is in the second stage of Krsna consciousness has the duty to enlighten them. And those who are atheists, who are purposely against God, he avoids. Therefore there are four kinds of dealings for the person who is in the intermediate position. Those who are in the highest status of Krsna consciousness, however, do not see anyone as being against God. Their vision is that everyone is engaged in God’s service. They make no distinctions. That is a very elevated stage and should not be imitated.
‘I’apana Misra and Candrasekhara, hearing the criticism against Lord Caitanya, placed themselves in the lower status and said, “We cannot bear it.” They felt sorry because they did not have sufficient power to refute the arguments of the other party. Unless one is conversant with logic, arguments and Vedic literature, it is very difficult to defend oneself. The more one can defend himself from the attacks of atheists, the more one is understood to be advanced in Krsna consciousness. The atheists will undoubtedly attack, but devotees have to defend themselves. That is the business of those who are in the intermediate position.
While Lord Caitanya and His two devotees were talking, a brahmana came in to invite Lord Caitanya, as he had invited all the other sannyasis, to dine at his house. The brahmana fell at the feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and requested Him, “I have comt to beg one thing from You. Please be so kind as to agree to this. I know that You do not associate Yourself with the Mayavadi sannyasis, but nevertheless I have come to invite You. Please accept my request.” Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in the renounced order of life, sannyasa, He avoided the company of the Mayavadi impersonalists because Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a personalist. Generally that is still the system. As soon as impersonalists see a personalist, they begin to attack with arguments, so those who are not very highly developed avoid them, but those who are conversant argue.
While Caitanya Mahaprabhu was staying at Benares, He was not very enthusiastic to meet with the Mavavadi sannyasis, yet this brahmana who had invited all the other sannyasis for dinner also came to Caitanya Mahaprabhu and invited Him. Lord Caitanya’s two devotees were very sorry that the Mavavadis were criticizing Him, and while they were discussing this, the brahmana came with his invitation, so it was coincidence. Caitanya Mahaprabhu thought this a good opportunity to meet with the Mavavadi sannyasis, and talk with them about their criticism of the personalists. Previously He did not associate with them, but to please His devotees, who were very sorry to hear the criticism, He accepted the invitation so that He could meet them and talk with them.
The next day the Lord went to the house of the brahmana, and He saw that there were many other Mayavadi sannyasis sitting together. Just see the behavior of Lord Caitanya. Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu was not in agreement with them, because they were sannyasis in the renounced order of life, He offered his respects by bowing down before them. According to the customs of the Vedic system, it is the duty of everyone to at once offer his respect as soon as he sees a sannyasi. If he does not do so, then it is enjoined that he should fast for a day as punishment. He should not eat. “I saw a sannyasi, but I did not offer my respect. Therefore the penance should be that I should fast for a day.” This is the injunction. Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu was God Himself, His behavior and etiquette were excellent. As soon as He saw the sannyasis, He offered His respects.
It is the system that when one comes from outside he has to wash his feet before he enters a room. This is especially so for sannyasis. Lord Caitanya washed His feet and sat down a little apart from where the other sannyasis were sitting, just in the place where He had washed His feet. He was very beautiful, only twenty-four or twenty-five years old, His complexion was very fair, and He had accepted the sannyasa order. With His saffron cloth and with tilaka, He looked so very beautiful that the other sannyasis began to be attracted: “He is very nice.” The other sannyasis, all attracted by the very nice boy sannyasi, were so pleased that they automatically stood up to show Him respect.
The chief of the sannyasis who were sitting there was Prakasananda Sarasvati. Sannyasis have various titles. According to the impersonalists there are ten titles, but according to the Vaisnavas there are 108. The ten titles which the impersonalists claim—Sarasvati, Bharati, Vana, etc.—are included in those of the Vaisnavas. My spiritual master was a sannyasi, and his title was Sarasvati. The chief sannyasi at that meeting was Prakasananda. He was a great scholar. Offering respect to Lord Caitanya, he said, “My dear sir, why are You sitting at such a distant and filthy place? Please come here. Sit with us.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu had heard that Prakasananda Sarasvati had criticized, “This Caitanya Mahaprabhu who has come to Benares is not very learned.” Thus Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied to him. “I belong among the lower class sannyasis; therefore I am sitting in this filthy place. You had better sit in higher places. I am not fit to sit with you.” Prakasananda Sarasvati was a learned man, and he could understand the hint given by Lord Caitanya. Therefore he himself went personally to Caitanya Mahaprabhu and took His hand. “Please come sit with us. Why are You sitting here?”
When Lord Caitanya was seated, Prakasananda Sarasvati said, “I think Your name is Sri Krsna Caitanya and You have accepted this renounced order of life from Kesava Bharati.” Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu was initiated by a Vaisnava, devotee, He took sannyasa from Kesava Bharati, who belonged to the Sankara sect. The rule is if one wishes to accept the renounced order of life, there is an initiation ceremony and that ceremony must be performed by a bona fide member of the renounced order. It is not that one can take one’s cloth, dye the color, and in one day become a sannyasi. No. There is a ceremony. Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa from Kesava Bharati, who belonged to the Sankara disciplic succession. Therefore Prakasananda Sarasvati, who also belonged to this Sankara line, said, “I understand that Your name is Sri Krsna Caitanya.” There are different names for brahmacari students also, who are under the guidance of a sannyasi. A brahmacari who is under the guidance of Bharati is named Caitanya. Although Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a sannyasi, He did not change His brahmacari name. That is also very significant. As soon as a Mavavadi takes sannyasa, he thinks, “I have become Narayana. I have become God.” Therefore although Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a sannyasi, He did not change His brahmacari name. A brahmacari is meant to serve the spiritual master, so He continued to be a servitor.
Prakasananda Sarasvati asked, “You are a sannyasi of our line because You have accepted the renounced order from Kesava Bharati, so what is the reason that You do not mix with us?” That was his first question. And another complaint was: “Because You are a sannyasi, You should devote Your time to discussing Sankara philosophy and Vedanta-sutra. You should understand why You have taken sannyasa. Why are You simply dancing and chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare?” This was his question. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was simply dancing and chanting. This was the specific contribution of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. But amongst the Mayavadi sannyasis, dancing and singing is considered to be a sin. A sannyasi is supposed to stop sense gratification, and according to them, that is also a kind of sense gratification. They took it to be ordinary singing. Prakasananda Sarasvati asked Caitanya Mahaprabhu, “Why do You follow this sentimentalism, chanting and dancing.” Prakasananda said, “As far as I can see from Your bodily features You appear to be very glorious.” Because He was a boy and Prakasananda was very elderly—Caitanya Mahaprabhu was only twenty-four years old—he appreciated Him: “From Your face it appears that You are very learned, advanced and intelligent. Why, then, do You indulge in this sentimentalism?” This is a very important question for the sankirtana movement, and the answer is very significant.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied: “Yes, you are right, my dear Prakasananda Sarasvati, but there is a reason why I do it. Now I can explain to you. When I took sannyasa from My spiritual master, he found Me a rascal, a number one fool, and therefore he chastised Me. He called Me foolish, uneducated and illiterate. ‘It is not possible for You to understand Vedanta. Therefore, You simply chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. That will make You all right.’ ” Now here is the point: Was Caitanya Mahaprabhu a foolish person? No, He was not. In His childhood He was known as Nimai Pandit. He was greatly learned; even when He was sixteen years old He defeated a very reputable scholar from Kashmir. Prakasananda Sarasvati also knew that Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a teacher of logic in His householder life and was a very learned man. They all knew it. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “My spiritual master found Me a fool. Therefore he said, ‘You have no chance to understand Vedanta. You just take to this principle: simply chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare.’ ” What was His purpose in presenting Himself as a fool and a rascal? The idea is that in this age, 99.9% of the people are fools and rascals. Therefore it is very difficult for them to understand what is the purpose of Vedanta. Lord Caitanya represented Himself as one of them. According to Caitanya Mahaprabhu the so-called learned scholars of Vedanta are not actually Vedanta scholars; they are all fools. Vedanta-sutra is very difficult to understand. The author of Vedanta-sutra is Vyasadeva, and he himself thought it wise to write a commentation on Vedanta-sutra so that in the future people would not misunderstand and misuse it.
In this connection there is a speech delivered in Chicago by an impersonalist who was the first svami to come from India to preach Hindu philosophy. It is very surprising. Even a clergyman from this country was surprised. “You come from India, and you are decrying God in this way? I am surprised.” He has simply decried God: “Why do you care for God? Throw Him away. You are God.” In this way he has spoken. Caitanya Mahaprabhu knew 500 years ago that in the future all these rascals would misinterpret Vedanta-sutra; therefore He presented Himself as a fool.
Since Vedanta-sutra is not a very easy subject, Vyasadeva explained Vedanta-sutra in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The first aphorism of Vedanta-sutra is janmadyasya. “Now is the time to understand what is Brahman, the Absolute Truth.” The next sutra is: “What is Brahman?” The next answer is: “Brahman is that from which everything emanates.” Vyasadeva gives a lucid explanation of the janmadyasya verse. We can consider this first aphorism of Vedanta-sutra: “Brahman is that Absolute Truth from which everything emanates or everything is born.” (Janma means birth, sthiti means maintenance, and pralaya means dissolution.) This material world has a death to its existence, just as our body has a death. It stays for some time, and again there is death, dissolution. Consider the history of everything material—whether this body or this world or the empire or America. All have a death to their being. Now America is staying? but a day will come when there will be no more Americans. We should know it. That is nature’s law. Everything is born, it stays for some time, and then there is dissolution and it dissolves. That is explained in Bhagavad-gita. All these material manifestations are just like bubbles in the ocean. There are millions and millions of bubbles created in one second, and in the next second they are finished. This is the manifestation of the material creation, but behind this manifestation is spirit. That spirit is called Brahman.
Now what is the nature of that Brahman? Is it impersonal or personal? Vyasadeva says that the Supreme Truth is cognizant; He knows. Bhagavad-gita also confirms this. The Lord says, “I know everything.” Unless He is cognizant, unless behind this cosmic manifestation there is a brain, how could everything be regulated and timed so nicely? Everything is working, the planets are working—do you think that there is no brain behind it? There must be. Therefore Srimad-Bhagavatam says, “Yes. He is cognizant. He is a person. He also educated Brahma, who is considered to be the first created being in this universe. He impregnated Brahma with the Vedic knowledge.” These are explanations of Vedanta. But there are so many foolish rascals who misinterpret the Vedanta-sutra in different ways. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu very cunningly said, “I am a great fool. Therefore My spiritual master chastised Me: ‘You rascal, You fool, You cannot understand Vedanta-sutra! You had better take this mantra.’ ” In other words, at the present time the circumstances are so awkward that it is not possible to understand Vedanta-sutra. If we indulge in Vedanta-sutra itwill be very difficult for us. Therefore Caitanya’s contribution is that we should just chant. That will make everything progressive.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Caitanya Mahaprabhu represented Himself as the chief of the fools and rascals: “My spiritual master ordered Me: ‘You had better chant Hare Krsna. That will make You happy and progressive and will help You one day understand what is Vedanta.’ “Now one may question, “By understanding Vedanta-sutra one is liberated from this material entanglement, but you are asking me simply to chant Hare Krsna. Will that same purpose be served?” Lord Caitanya’s spiritual master said, “Yes, if You continue chanting this Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, there will be a day when You will come to the perfectional stage. Then You will be liberated. The same result that one gets by studying Vedanta philosophy or sankhya philosophy can also be obtained simply by chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna. Furthermore, the Vedantist sometimes cannot attain the Krsna planet. But Your advantage will be You will not only be liberated, but You will achieve the highest planetary kingdom—the kingdom of God.”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “This Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna is the only universal religious principle in this age. No other religious process will be effective because people in this age are distracted in so many different ways. This is the common formula, and it is the most effective. There is no alternative for self-realization in this age of Kali than to chant Hare Krsna. It is the essence of all scriptures. There are different hymns and mantras, but this is the topmost of all. Therefore My spiritual master asked Me to chant Hare Krsna.”
The Highest Goal
“If you continue chanting this Hare Krsna, there will be a day when you will come to the perfectional stage.”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu told Prakasananda Sarasvati, “My spiritual master has given Me this chanting, and he has given Me one verse from authoritative Vedic literature and asked Me to always keep this verse within my throat and always chant it.” That verse is a quotation from the Brhan-Naradiya Purana. There are four Vedas, and as supplements to the Vedas, there are also eighteen Puranas. In one of the Puranas, which is called the Brhan-Naradiya Purana, this quotation is found: “Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam/ kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha.” Kalau means this age of Kali, the age of disagreement, quarrel, misunderstanding, deceit, and diminished intelligence, mercy and life span. It is explicitly stated in Brhan-Naradiya Purana that in this age of Kali there is no other alternative, no other alternative, no other alternative to chanting the holy name. Thrice. When we want to stress a point we say it thrice: Do this! Do this! Do this! Similarly, in the Brhan-Naradiya Purana, it has been thrice emphasized that one must take to this harer nama—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Why? Why must one take it? Because there is no other alternative than this for self-realization. If one at all wants to know himself, if one at all wants to become perfect, or if one at all wants to reach the goal of human life, then he must, he must, he must chant Hare Krsna. “My spiritual master,” Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “asked Me to keep this verse within My throat. ‘Go on chanting, and I give You my blessing that You will be liberated. Not only will You be liberaled, but You will reach the highest goal—the abode of Krsna.’ “