Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – Founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the 15th-century great Indian saint who founded Achintya Bheda Abheda – the school of Vedanta. Mahaprabhu Chaitanya’s devotion to Lord Krishna through his euphoric songs and dances earned him the title of Lord Krishna’s avatar among devotees. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the one to flourish Vaishnavism in the Bengal state of India.

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the father of Gaudiya Vaishnavism (Bengali Vaishnavism) and hyped the popular chants “Hare Krishna” and Bhakti Yoga or Marga. In his lifetime, people called Mahaprabhu with names like Nimai, Gauranga, Gaura, and Gaurasundara.

His name Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is derived from the Sanskrit word Chetana which refers to Consciousness, Maha refers to great or notable, and Prabhu signifies a prince or master. Thus, his name means the great Lord of all consciousness.

Biography of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
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Chaitanya Charitamrita – a Bengali biographical book states that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born on 18th February 1486 at Nabadwip (West Bengal) during the lunar eclipse. Born to the Brahmin family of Jagannath Mishra and Sachi Devi Mishra as the second offspring.

Since childhood, Chaitanya strongly affected Lord Krishna’s stories, prayers, chants, and devotional songs. However, learning Sanskrit and acquiring knowledge was his primary motive. Chaitanya’s journey to Gaya and then meeting his guru Ishvara Puri was the turning point of his life, turning him from scholar to Lord Krishna’s devotee.

Saint Chaitanya married Laxmi Devi, Ballabha Acharya’s daughter, at the age of 14 or 15. Unfortunately, she left the world after getting bitten by a snake. At his mother’s request, he had a second marriage to Vishnupriya, Rajk Pandit Sanatan Misha’s daughter.

After the continuous obstruction by envious and shallow-minded Brahmins of Kulia in Chaitanya’s goals, finally, at the age of 24, Mahaprabhu left his family, house, and hometown and started living a sanyasi or ascetic life.

While on Sannyasa, Mahaprabhu traveled from east to west and north to south of the Indian subcontinent. On foot, Lord Nimai traveled places like Baranagar, Mahanagar, Atisara, Chhatrabhog, Vrindavan, and Puri while reciting Hare Krishna chants. In Puri, Odisha, he spent the last 25 years of his life at Radhakanta Math.

Teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Shikshashtakam – an eight verse of Gaudiya Vaishnava chants written in Sanskrit includes all the direct teachings recorded. Lord Gaura epitomized his knowledge of ontology, epistemology, and theology into ten principles, which are;

  • Lord Krishna is the Ultimate Truth.
  • Almighty Krishna is the absolute source of all forms of energy.
  • All the Rasa – flavor or quality and emotion emerges from Lord Krishna himself.
  • Every living soul (Jivas) is the independent fragment of the mighty one.
  • All individual souls in their inbound state are under the control of matter due to their Tatastha energy.
  • In a extricate state, all living souls are free from the effects of matter.
  • Every individual soul and physical world are different and similar to the almighty.
  • Pure Bhakti or devotion is the only way to achieve salvation.
  • Attaining love and blessing from Lord Krishna is every living being the primary goal.

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Quotes

Some of the most famous quotes from Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are as follows;

  • Live like a tree. The trees provide shade even to those who hew its main branch.
  • Be more respectful than a blade of grass, more forbearing than a tree, always giving esteem to others, and never wish anything in return.
  • The physical beauty of Shri Krishna is like a wave in the ocean of eternal youth.
  • Simply by chanting the sacred name of Shri Krishna, one can attain liberation from this material world.

Biographic Works on Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

There are several biographies dedicated to Lord Chaitanya’s life. Chaitanya Charitamrita by Krishnadasa Kaviraja remains the greatest among all. The following list includes people’s biographic works on Lord Gaura:

  • Krishna Caitanya Caritamrta of Murari Gupta was in the Sanskrit language written in the year 1536-1540. This kadcha acts as a reference to many biographers.
  • Kadcha by Svarupa Damodara. He was the personal assistant of the Lord himself.
  • Chaitanya Bhagavata of Vrindavana Dasa Thakura (1546-1550) is in the Bengali language and narrates three life stages of Mahaprabhu; early background, initial steps towards devotion, and life after sannyasa and movements.
  • Caitanya Charitamrita of Krishnadasa Kaviraja (1557) is a Bengali biography with Sanskrit verses highlighting the detailed life and teaching of Mahaprabhu Nimai.

Apart from that, there are Chaitanya Mangala, Caitanya Upanisad, Anubhasya and many others.

The glory of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Lord Gauranga is the most generous and benevolent avatar of the supreme almighty. Prabhu Gaura provides free euphoric love and affection for the almighty without looking at people’s backgrounds, qualifications, and valuable offerings. Even the sages who perform years of austerities(Tapasya) have difficulty achieving pure love. The merciful nature of Mahaprabhu Caitanya, who possesses the essence of all the avatars of Lord Vishnu (Krishna), makes it easy for us to gain and feel the pure love of the Supreme.

Contribution and Cultural Impact of Mahaprabhu Gauranga

The influence of guru Gauranga can be seen mainly in places like Bengal and Odisha. People even cited him as a Renaissance of Bengal. People worship him as the real avatar of Lord Krishna. Bangladesh Linguist Salimullah Khan, mentioned 16th century, belongs to Chaitanya Prabhu.

Harinam Sankirtan
  • Gauranga Mahaprabhu was the one to initiate Kirtan practice, which is a call and response-based song, chant, music, and reciting of legends performed with great ecstasy.
  • One of Gaura Prabhu’s extraordinary contributions to Indian philosophy was his detailed explanation of Rasalila.
  • Prabhu does not believe in the caste system. Hence, he provides mercy and wisdom to people of different family backgrounds.
  • Mahaprabhu dignified Lord Krishna’s name worldwide through his teachings, Kirtans, Rasalila, and Bhajans.
  • Guru Chaitanya lives an austere life with purity, which attracts many devotees to follow him.