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The Importance of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
By Swami B.G. Narasingha
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Devotee: I am not aware of any aspect of Gaudiya siddhanta which relies on this, (on the point of the divinity of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) and I am thinking of Gaudiya siddhanta in terms of aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam. Please set me straight on this.
Narasingha Maharaja: Yes, that is Mahaprabhu's conception contained in the verse by Shrila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura;
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam
ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita
shrimad bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pum-artho mahan
shri-chaitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah na parah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is worshipped along with His transcendental abode Vrndavana. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrndavana. Shrimad Bhagavatam is the spotless authority on everything and pure love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life for all men. These statements, for which we have the highest regard, are the opinion of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. (Chaitanya-matta-manjusa by Shrila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura)
But we find adjustment in the conception of Mahaprabhu's devotees, in that the devotees of Mahaprabhu feel that their only approach to Vrindavana, to Bhagavata, to prema-bhakti, to Gopi-bhava is via the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
A Gaudiya Vaishnava feels and thinks that his only hope in approaching Radha Krishna is by surrender to the lotus feet of Guru and Gauranga. Surrender, saranagati, slavery to the infinite is the highest freedom. This principle has been accepted as essential by all Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Mahaprabhu is the infinite. See how strongly Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami speaks in this regard:
hena krpamaya chaitanya na bhaje yei jana
sarvottama ha-ileo tare asure ganana
"One who does not show respect unto this merciful Lord, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, or does not worship Him should be considered a demon, even if he is very exalted in human society." (Adi-lila Ch8, Tx12)
Actually the highest prema in Krishna-lila is found in the madhurya-lila but categorically higher than the madhurya-lila is the audarya-lila, that is the wholesale distribution of the madhurya-prema. This madhurya-prema finds its highest expression in Shrimati Radharani whose essential nature is Mahabhava. Gaura-lila is that audarya-lila, the wholesale distribution of Krishna prema. To the degree that we surrender to the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu to that extent we will find ourselves in Vrindavana, all things provided. In Vrindavana the highest position is not held by Krishna but by Radharani. The prayojana-tattva of the Gaudiya school is to engage in Her service. Shri Gauranga is the sole access to that plane of service.
yatha yatha gaura-padaravinde
vindeta bhaktim krta punya-rasih
tatha tathot-sarpati hrdya-kasmad
"One who is extremely fortunate may get the mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. As much as one can devote his full attention to the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya, to that extent he will be able to taste the nectarine service of the lotus feet of Shrimati Radharani in Vrindavana. The more one engages in the service of Shri Chaitanya, the more one finds oneself in Vrindavana, tasting the nectar of the service of Shri Radha" (Chaitanya Candramrta 88)
Pure devotion to Gauranga is best of all. Those who neglect to take shelter of Shri Gauranga are in essence destroying themselves.
kriyasaktam dig dig vikatatapaso dhik ca yamena
dhigastu brahmaham vadana-pariphullan jadamatin
kimetan socamo visaya-rasa-mattan-narapasun
na kesancil-leso'py ahaha milito gaura-madhunah
"Woe to the smarta Brahmans, who blindly follow the Vedic rituals! To hell with those who unnecessarily practice harsh penance's. Woe to those who try to control the mind and senses by following the eight fold yoga system. Woe to those who artificially practice brahmachari and imagine that they have become liberated simply by saying aham bramasmi, "I am God". Woe to those whose voices are filled with flowery words of dry speculation. They are intoxicated by the taste of mundane pleasure.
"Why should we lament for these animals in the guise of men? We lament because, alas- they have not tasted even a tiny drop of the nectar from the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga." (Chaitanya Candramrta 32)
Without devotion to Gauranga one's knowledge of scripture is foolish nonsense.
achaitanyam-idam visvam yadi chaitanyam-isvaram
na viduh sarva-sastra-jna hyapi bhramyante te janah
"Great scholars of the scriptures who do not accept Lord Gauranga, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are forced to wander aimlessly throughout this universe of dead matter. Their so-called knowledge of the scriptures will be usless to them. Birth after birth, they will wander from one planet to the next propelled by their pious and impious acts." (Chaitanya Candramrta 37)
Higher than Gauranga are Gauranga's devotees.
avad-brahma-katha vimukti-padavi tavan na tikti-bhavet
tavac-capi visrnkhalatvvamayate no loka-veda-sthitih
tavac-chastra-vidam mithah kalakalo nana-bahir-vartmastu
shri-chaitanya-padambuja-priyajano yavan na drg gocarah
As long as one has not seen a pure devotee of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, he will be engaged in tasting bitter talks about the impersonal path of liberation.
As long as one has not seen a devotee of Lord Gauranga, he will be bound by social and Vedic convention, blindly following formalities and traditions without understanding their purpose.
As long as one never sees one of the beelike devotees addicted to drinking the nectar from the lotus feet of Shri Gauranga, he will be forced to walk in endless circles on the labyrinthine paths of dry Vedic scholarship, wasting valuable time in useless discussions on futile religious practices." (Chaitanya Candramrta 19)