Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Caitanya Mahaprabhu is understood by devotees to be Sri Krishna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He appeared in the Kali yuga (the present age), 513 years ago in 1486 AD, in the mood of His own greatest devotee, Srimati Radharani.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's divinity is substantiated by scriptures such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam(11.5.32), by the sadhus (saintly persons) such as Srila Advaita-acarya, Nityananda Prabhu and the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that the holy name of the Lord would be spread to every village and town all over the world. He propagated the chanting of the maha mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in 1486 in Navadvipa, Bengal, to Jagannatha Misra and Sacidevi. His birth was accompanied by widespread chanting of Haribol, since it coincided with a total lunar eclipse.
He was named Vishvambhara (meaning the support of the universe) and nicknamed Nimai, as He had been born under a nima tree. It was predicted that He would have extraordinary qualities and would deliver the people of the world.
As a child, the only way His parents, Sacidevi and Jagannatha Misra, could get Him to stop crying was by chanting the holy name. Therefore, from the beginning, He induced people to chant to names of God. Sri Caitanya studied the scriptures under the guidance of a guru. He became an expert in Sanskrit and logic. As a young boy, He acquired a formidable reputation as a logician and vedantist. He would have extraordinary philosophical discussions with his mother. In fact, His intelligence was so great that He would have great theological debates with many logicians.
At a very young age, He defeated Kesava Bharati, a digvijaya (unconquerable) brahmana from Kashmir. Because of his profound skill and knowledge, He became so well known that, many philosophers from all walks of life and religions refused to debate with Him, due to the prowess of His arguments.
When his father died, Sri Caitanya went to Gaya and was initiated by Ishvara Puri. Thereafter, He became totally absorbed in devotional service to Krishna; constantly chanting and singing the names of Lord Krishna in devotional ecstasy. When He returned to Navadvipa, He would sing the names of the Lord (the maha mantra) with His followers; thus establishing the first sankirtana movement,whereby the importance of chanting the names of the Lord was established as the best spiritual process for achieving Godhead.
Starting with His followers, this sankirtana movement was spread throughout the area. Sri Caitanya made no distinction between castes or creed, impersonalists, rich men or poor men. He wanted to show that by chanting the Lord's holy names, one becomes purified, can achieve love of God and become spiritually enlightened.
When he was 24, He took sannyasa and was given the name Krishna Caitanya from Keshava Bharati during the initiation. He spent four years travelling through South India, Vrindavana and Varanasi, eventually settling in Jagganatha Puri where He would worship the Deities at Jagganatha temple. During this time He was absorbed in ecstatic devotion to Krishna in the loving mood of Radharani, whereupon He would lose all external consciousness. Even His presence or mere touch could transform everyone that came near Him into the same devotional mood.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu also demonstrated that any one can become a devotee. He glorified Haridasa Thakura, a Muslim by birth, who daily chanted 300,000 names of the Lord. He showed that any living creature, be it a learned brahmana, a fallen sudra, a criminal or even animals can become spiritually elevated by chanting or hearing the names of Lord. He thus showed that love of Godhead is an intrinsic quality of the spirit soul, and can be awakened from its dormant stage by the process of chanting and kirtana.
As one practices the process of chanting, he passes through three stage: the offensive stage, wherein one may desire all kinds of material happiness, the clearing stage, when the material contamination's are cleared and finally the transcendental stage, one of pure love of Godhead. Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught and showed that this is the highest stage of perfection.
The immediate followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, principally, the six Goswamis, wrote many authoritative books based on Vedic scriptures. These were based on the personal instructions given by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to demonstrate that bhakti or love of Krishna is the ultimate goal of the Vedas. Krsnadasa Kaviraj Goswami and Vrindavana Dasa Thakura wrote authoritative biographies of Sri Krishna Caitanya known as Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and Sri Caitanya Bhagvata.
Though He inspired His followers to prolific writing, Caitanya Mahaprabhu left behind the essence of His teaching in only eight verses called the Siksastaka. Each of these verses is a pearl of spiritual wisdom, which if understood properly, under the guidance of a qualified teacher, can elevate a person from the mundane plane of materialism to the highest form of devotion — bhakti. In addition to this, Caitanya Mahaprabhu lived an exemplary life that served as a model for people in the Kali yuga to follow and return to Godhead.
He departed this world at the age of 48 in 1534.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare