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THE PROPHECIES ABOUT SRI CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU
The prophecy of the most recent incarnation of the Supreme to appear in this world is that of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His appearance was predicted in numerous Vedic texts that were written many hundreds and even thousands of years before Sri Caitanya appeared in February of 1486 in the place of Sridhama Mayapura in Bengal, India, north of Calcutta. One of the oldest prophecies concerning Sri Caitanya's appearance in this world is found in the Atharva-veda verse, starting as: ito 'ham krita-sannyaso 'vatarisyami. In this verse the Supreme states: "I will descend as a sannyasi, a tall, fair, and saintly brahmana devotee, after four to five thousand years of Kali-yuga have passed. I will appear on earth near the Ganges shore and with all the signs of an exalted person, free from material desires. I will always chant the holy names of the Lord, and, thus, taste the sweetness of My own devotional service. Only other advanced devotees will understand Me."
Also, in a verse from the Sama-veda, starting as: tathaham krita-sannyaso bhu-girbanah avatarisye, the Supreme Being says that He will descend to earth as a brahmana-sannyasi at a place on the shore of the Ganges. Again and again He will chant the names of the Lord in the company of His associates to rescue the people who are devoured by sins in the age of Kali. The Mundaka Upanishad (3.3) relates the prophecy of Sri Caitanya in a different way. It states, "When one realizes the golden form of Lord Gauranga, who is the ultimate actor and the source of the Supreme Brahman, he attains the highest knowledge. He transcends both pious and impious activities, becomes free from worldly bondage, and enters the divine abode of the Lord."
Another prophecy of the appearance of Sri Caitanya is found in two verses in the Bhavishya Purana. It states:
ajayadhvamajayadhvam na sansayah
kalau sankirtana rambhe bhavisyami saci sutah
"The Supreme Lord said: 'In Kali-yuga, I will appear as the son of Saci, and inaugurate the sankirtana movement. There is no doubt about this.'"
anandasru-kala-roma-harsa-purnam tapo-dhana sarve mam eva draksyanti kalau sannyasa-rupinam
"O sage whose wealth is austerity, in the Kali-yuga everyone will see My form as a sannyasi, a form filled with tears of bliss and bodily hairs standing erect in ecstasy."
In the Vayu Purana we also find where the Supreme Being states: "In the age of Kali I shall descend as the son of Mother Sachidevi to inaugurate the sankirtan movement [movement of congregational chanting of Krishna's holy names]."
Therein we find that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the same as Lord Krishna Himself, and what His activities will be. This is also confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.32) where it states: "In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish [like that of Lord Krishna], He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions."
The great classic Mahabharata (Vishnu-sahasra-nama-stotra,l27.92.7 5) confirms that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is not different from Lord Sri Krishna: "The Supreme Lord has a golden complexion [when He appears as Lord Caitanya]. Indeed, His entire body, which is very nicely constituted, is like molten gold. Sandalwood pulp is smeared all over His body. He will take the fourth order of life [sannyasa] and will be very self-controlled. He will be distinguished from Mayavadi sannyasis in that He will be fixed in devotional service and will propagate the sankirtana movement."
In an earlier text, the Svetasvatara Upanishad (3.12) relates that: "Mahaprabhu [the great master], the Supreme Being, is brilliantly effulgent and imperishable like molten gold, and [through sankirtana] bestows spiritual intelligence on the living beings. In the guise of a sannyasi, He is the source of spiritual purity and liberation."How He is the "great master" or will "bestow spiritual intelligence" is described in another Upanishad. This is one of the lesser Upanishads known as the Chaitanyopanishad, which comes from the ancient Atharva Veda. In this description there is not only the prediction of His appearance but a description of His life and purpose, and the reasons why His process of spiritual enlightenment is so powerful and effective in this age of Kali. The Chaitanyopanishad is a short text with only nineteen verses. All of them are very significant.
The Chaitanyopanishad explains that one day Pippalada, the son of Lord Brahma, approached his father and asked about how the sinful living entities in the age of Kali-yuga may be delivered. Lord Brahma told him to listen carefully and he would give him a confidential description of what would happen in Kali-yuga. He explained that in Kali-yuga, the Supreme Being, whose form is completely transcendental and who is the all-pervading Supersoul in the hearts of all living entities, will appear again in the Kali age. He will appear in the guise of the greatest devotee, with a golden complexion in His abode on the banks of the Ganges at Navadvipa. He will disseminate pure devotional service to the Supreme. He will be known as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Appearing in this golden form, the all-powerful Supreme Being—who is understood only by the most fortunate and who is the oldest, the original person, the original cause of the universe—will spread spiritual bliss by the chanting of His own holy names. The Supreme Lord will chant a mantra consisting of the names of Hari, Krishna, and Rama [the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra]. This mantra is the best of all mantras, and, though difficult to understand, it can be understood by engaging in devotional service to the Supreme. This is the most confidential of secrets, and those who seriously desire to make progress in spiritual life, and to cross the ocean of birth and death, continually chant these names of the Supreme. Another interesting story about the prediction of the appearance of Lord Caitanya in Kali-yuga is related in a lengthy conversation between Murari Gupta and Damodara Pandita, two contemporaries of Sri Caitanya. It is found in the Sri Caitanya Mangala, a biography of Sri Caitanya by Srila Locana Dasa Thakura. Among the many things they discuss are the symptoms and difficulties found in the age of Kali; how Lord Krishna appears on earth in this age, His confidential reasons for doing so, and how He revealed to Narada Muni His form as Lord Gauranga that He would accept while appearing on earth in this age. In this form He would distribute love of God to everyone He met by chanting the holy names. This conversation is very enlightening.
Within this conversation they further relate an incident recorded as the Vishnu-Katyayani Samvada ofihePadma Pur ana. This is a conversation between Lord Vishnu and Katyayani (Parvati), Lord Shiva's wife. The story is that one time the great sage Narada Muni acquired the maha-prasada, personal food remnants, of Lord Narayana, Vishnu, and gave a morsel to his friend Lord Shiva. Shiva tasted it and he began to dance in ecstasy, to the point of disturbing the earth. When he was approached by Parvati about why he was dancing so, he explained what happened. However, she was unhappy and angry that he did not share any with her. Being devoted to Lord Vishnu and concerned for the spiritual well-being of all conditioned souls, she then vowed that if she should get the blessings of Lord Vishnu, she would see to it that the Lord's maha-prasada was distributed to everyone. Just then Lord Vishnu Himself appeared and conversed with her. He assured her that He would appear in the world as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the age of Kali and would keep her promise and spread His mercy in the form of maha-prasada, food that has been offered to Him, and the chanting of His holy names to everyone, distributing His mercy everywhere. Another book is the Sri Hari-bhakti-vilasa by Sanatana Gosvami. Sanatana lived about 500 years ago in Vrindavana, India and was a great scholar of the Vedic scripture. A portion of the book contains an anthology of an amazing assortment of verses from the Vedic texts which predict the appearance of Lord Caitanya. Besides some of the quotes we have already cited, he includes verses from such texts as the Chandogya Upanishad, Krishna Upanishad, Narada Purana, Kurma Purana, Garuda Purana, Devi Purana, Nrisimha Purana, Padma Purana, Brahma Purana, Agni Purana, Saura Purana, Matsya Purana, Vayu Purana, Markandeya Purana, Varaha Purana, Vamana Purana, Vishnu Purana, Skanda Purana, Upapuranas, Narayana-Samhita, Krishna-yamala, Brahma-yamala, Vishnu-yamala, Yoga-vasistha, and the Tantras, such as Urdhvamnaya-tantra, Kapila Tantra, Visvasara Tantra, Kularnava Tantra, and others.
The verses from the above-mentioned texts are of various lengths; some are more specific than others but all are similar in content. Rather than including
them all, we can point out what they establish by summarizing them. They clearly establish that the Supreme Being, Lord Krishna, will descend to earth near the beginning of Kali-yuga and will take birth in the home of a brahmana near the shore of the Ganges River. He will appear in the month of Phalguna [Feb.-Mar] when the star Phalguni is conjoined with the full moon, and become the son of Jagannatha Misra and Mother Sachi-devi in Navadvipa-Mayapura. He will come to deliver the materially conditioned souls in the age of Kali. He will appear in the disguise of His own devotee and taste the bliss of His own devotional service bhakti-yoga]. He will be surrounded by His saintly associates. After He takes tannyasa [the renounced order], He will live in Jagannatha Puri and accept the name of Sri Krishna Caitanya, Lord Gauranga, and spread the chanting of the Lord's holy names. Thus, He will show mercy to the people and start the sankirtana movement. However, those who are too bewildered by His illusory potency [maya] will not understand the great secret of His appearance in this world in his form as Lord Caitanya. Only the saintly will understand Him.
Thus, many centuries after these numerous predictions, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu did, indeed, take birth in the land of Mayapura. He became known as a great scholar and defeated anyone who came near Him in philosophical debate regarding the Absolute Truth and the purpose of life. So great was He that, while still a young boy, He became feared even by the most intellectual and recognized scholars who did not agree with His point of view. Only after He took initiation from Isvara Puri in the town of Gaya did Sri Caitanya give up His scholarly program of debate. Thereafter, He simply engaged in blissfully singing and chanting the holy names of Krishna, a universal, non-sectarian spiritual process for the age of Kali. Thus, rather than showing His influence and reasoning through discussion, He freely gave the spiritual ecstasy of chanting the holy names through sankirtana, the congregational singing of the holy names of Krishna, and of devotional service to the Supreme. In this way, He was no longer feared but became the center of large gatherings of people who all engaged in such singing processions wherever Sri Caitanya went. Furthermore, after He took sannyasa, He did become known as Sri Krishna Caitanya and also spent His remaining years living in the town of Jagannatha Puri.
In a biography of Sri Caitanya by Krishnadasa Kaviraja, known as the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, it is recorded (Madhya-lila 20.340): "Accompanied by His personal devotees, Lord Krishna, assuming a golden color, introduces the hari-nama sankirtana, the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, in the age of Kali. By this process, He delivers love for Krishna to the general populace." Elsewhere in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya-lila 20.8) it states: "In great jubilation, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, 'My dear Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya, know from Me that chanting of the holy name is the most feasible means of salvation in this age of Kali."' In this way, the numerous predictions in the Vedic literature about the appearance and activities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu became manifest.