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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Chaitanya Charitamrta > KAISHORA-LILA


At age eleven, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu began His teaching career. At the same time, the Lord debated with all kinds of scholars about the conclusion of shastra. Although the Lord defeated them all, because of His gentle behavior, none of the scholars went away unhappy. On the other hand, all those who witnessed the Lord’s intellectual prowess were struck with wonder, and thus many hundreds of students came to study under His direction

After some time, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu journeyed to East Bengal, and wherever He went, He introduced the sankirtana movement.

In East Bengal, there was a brahmana named Tapana Mishra, who could not ascertain the objective of life, nor how to attain it. The fact is, if one simply reads so many shastra, as well as the commentaries and instructions of many men, his heart will remain filled with doubts, making him unable to ascertain life’s true goal. This was Tapana Mishra’s position.

Then, one night, a brahmana appeared in Tapana Mishra’s dream and directed him as follows: “Go to Nimai Pandita, for He is the Supreme Lord. There is no doubt that He will give you the proper direction that will end your bewilderment.”

After being so advised, Tapana Mishra took shelter of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet and described to Him all the details of his dream. Then, being very satisfied with Tapana Mishra, the Lord instructed him about life’s goal and the means to attain it, emphasizing that the basic principle of success is to chant the holy name of the Lord.

Tapana Mishra wanted to remain with Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Navadvipa, but the Lord requested him to go and reside at Benaras instead. Being assured by the Lord that they would once again meet there, Tapana Mishra executed His order and thus moved to Kashi.

While Lord Chaitanya was engaged in initiating the inhabitants of East Bengal into chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and educating them to become scholars, Lakshmidevi felt great unhappiness in separation from her husband. Indeed, the snake of separation bit Lakshmidevi, and its poison caused her death, so that she returned back home, back to Godhead.

Being the all-pervading Paramatma, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu knew about Lakshmi’s disappearance and thus He quickly departed for Navadvipa, in order to solace His mother, who was greatly aggrieved over the death of her daughter-in-law. When the Lord returned home, bringing with Him much wealth and many followers, He spoke on transcendental subject matters to Sachidevi, to relieve her suffering.

After returning from East Bengal, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu continued teaching others, and on the strength of His learning, He defeated all kinds of scholars and thus became greatly proud. Thereafter, at the request of His mother, the Lord married Vishnupriya, the goddess of fortune.

One full-moon evening, as Nimai Pandita sat on the banks of the Ganga, along with His many disciples, discussing literary topics, a great pandita named Keshava Kashmiri happened to come there. After traveling to many places of learning in India, challenging all the scholars to debate with him on the basis of shastra, Keshava Kashmiri had arrived at Navadvipa. Because he had conquered over all other panditas in all directions, this Kashmiri brahmana had received the name Digvijayi.

Due to his widespread fame, when Keshava Kashmiri finally arrived at Navadvipa, the local scholars fearfully considered themselves to be no match for him. Thus, after deciding to let Nimai Pandita debate with the great Digvijayi, the scholars left Navadvipa on the plea of having other engagements.

The Navadvipa scholars considered the situation as follows: “If Nimai Pandita is defeated, we will still have another chance to debate with the Kashmiri scholar. On the other hand, if Nimai Pandita comes out victorious, we will become all the more glorified, since a mere boy of Navadvipa has defeated the champion scholar, who is famous all over India.”

When Keshava Kashmiri came upon the scene, offering prayers to mother Ganga, Lord Chaitanya received him with great adoration. However, since Keshava Kashmiri was very proud, he responded rather condescendingly by saying, “I understand that you are a teacher of beginners’ grammar named Nimai Pandita. Indeed, people speak very highly of Your ability, and say that Your students are quite expert in the word jugglery of this grammar.”

Since it had already been arranged that he would debate with Nimai Pandita, Keshava Kashmiri more or less challenged Him by implying that such grammatical interpretation of shastra did not require very much expertise.

The Lord replied, “Yes, I am known as a teacher of grammar, but factually, I cannot explain the subject very well, nor can My students understand Me properly. My dear sir, whereas you are a very learned scholar and a great poet, I am but a mere boy, a neophyte student and nothing more. Therefore, I would like to hear you display your great skill in composing poetry. If you would mercifully describe the glory of Mother Ganga, then we shall have an opportunity to witness your literary prowess.”

Since Keshava Kashmiri was a little puffed-up, the Lord first of all flattered him by presenting Himself as subordinate, and by doing so, he increased the scholar’s artificial pride. Thereafter, within just one hour, Keshava Kashmiri composed one hundred verses glorifying Mother Ganga and recited them spontaneously before Nimai Pandita and His students.

The Lord then praised the champion scholar as follows: “My dear sir, there is no greater poet than yourself within the entire world. Indeed, your poetry is so difficult that no one can understand it but yourself and Mother Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. However, if you kindly explain the meaning of one verse, then we shall be very happy to hear it from your mouth.”

When Digvijayi inquired which verse he should explain, the Lord recited one of them as follows: “The glory of Mother Ganga always shines forth brilliantly. Because of having emanated from the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, she is most fortunate. Indeed, she is a second goddess of fortune, and thus she is always worshiped by both demigods and human beings. Being endowed with all good qualities, the Ganga flourishes upon the head of Lord Shiva,”

After reciting this verse, when the Lord asked Keshava Kashmiri to explain its meaning, the highly astonished pandita exclaimed, “I recited all one hundred verses just like the blowing wind! How could You learn even one of them by heart?”

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “By the grace of the Lord someone may become a great poet, and similarly, by His grace someone else may become a sruti-dhara, who can immediately memorize anything.”

Being satisfied with this reply, the brahmana explained the verse as requested. The Lord then said, “Now, kindly describe the special qualities and faults of this verse.”

At this, the brahmana asserted, “There is not even a tinge of fault in the verse. Rather, it has many good qualities, such as similes and alliteration.”

Still, the Lord insisted, “My dear sir, please do not become angry at what I say. There is no doubt that your poetry is full of ingenuity, and it has certainly satisfied the Supreme Lord. However, if we carefully scrutinize it, we can find both good qualities and faults. Therefore, I request you to kindly explain the faults of the verse that you had composed.”

Keshava Kashmiri replied, “You are an ordinary student of grammar, and so what do you know about literary ornaments and composition? Since You do not know anything about poetic composition, You have no right to try and review it.”

Taking a humble position, the Lord said, “Because I am not at all on your level, I have requested you to teach Me by explaining the faults and qualities of your poetry. It is a fact that I have not studied the art of literary embellishments. But since I have heard about it from higher circles, I can review this verse and find many faults as well as good qualities.”

After hearing this, the poet conceded by saying, “Alright, let me see what qualities and faults You have found in my verse.”

The Lord then said, “Please hear Me without becoming angry. My dear sir, in this verse there is five faults and five literary ornaments, which I shall now explain. First of all, kindly hear Me and then give Me your judgement.”

Thereafter, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu proceeded to carefully delineate the faults of Keshava Kashmiri’s verse, one after the other. For example, the Lord explained one of the faults as follows: “You have arranged the word bhavani-bhartri to your great satisfaction, but this is an example of the fault of contradiction. The word Bhavani means ‘the wife of Lord Shiva’ and so when bharta or ‘husband’ is also mentioned, one might conclude that she has another husband. If someone were to say, ‘Place this charity in the hands of the husband of the wife of the brahmana’, these contradictory words would lead us to believe that the brahmana’s wife has another husband.”

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then concluded by saying, “Although there are five literary ornaments decorating this verse, it has been spoiled by these five grievous faults. The great sage Bharata Muni has said, ‘Just as one’s body, although well-decorated with ornaments, is made unfortunate by even one spot of white leprosy, so an entire poem is made useless by a single fault, in spite of the good qualities of alliteration, similes and metaphors.’ ”

The Lord then delineated the good qualities of the verse. He explained one example as follows: “Everyone knows that lotus flowers grow in the water of the Ganga. Therefore, to say that the Ganga has taken birth from a lotus flower appears to be extremely contradictory. However, since Mother Ganga emanates from the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, there is actually no contradiction. Instead, there is a great wonder, due to the inconceivable potency of the Lord.”

In conclusion, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “I have simply discussed the five gross faults and five literary embellishments of this verse. However, if we were to consider the matter deeply, we could find unlimited faults. You have achieved great poetic imagination, by the grace of your worshipful goddess, but poetry which is not well reviewed certainly becomes subject to criticism.”

After hearing the explanation of Nimai Pandita, the champion poet became struck with wonder. Although Keshava Kashmiri wanted to say something, since his intelligence was stunned, nothing came out of his mouth. Thus, with great astonishment, he began considering the situation as follows: “Since this mere boy has blocked my intelligence, I can understand that Mother Sarasvati must have become angry with me. The wonderful explanation which He gave could not have been possible for a human being, and so Mother Sarasvati must have personally spoken through his mouth.”

After thinking in this way, Keshava Kashmiri said, “My dear Nimai Pandita, I have become struck with wonder upon hearing Your words. You are not a literary student and You do not have long experience in studying shastra. Therefore, how could You make such a critical study of my poetry?”

Understanding the pandita’s puzzled heart, Lord Chaitanya humbly replied, “My dear sir, I have no idea about what is good poetry and what is bad. Therefore, you should understand that whatever I had said was actually spoken by Mother Sarasvati.”

After hearing this, Keshava Kashmiri sorrowfully thought to himself, “Why did Mother Sarasvati want to defeat me through the medium of a small boy? Tonight I shall offer prayers while meditating upon the goddess, and thus beg her to reveal the real purpose of her having insulted me in this way.”

Actually, Mother Sarasvati had induced the champion poet to compose his verse in a faulty manner, and then had covered his intelligence when it came under discussion. When Keshava Kashmiri had thus been defeated, Nimai Pandita’s disciples began to laugh out loud.

The Lord restrained them, however, and then addressed the poet as follows: “My dear sir, you are the foremost of learned scholars, and the greatest of poets. Otherwise, how could such fine poetry have come from your mouth? Indeed, your poetic skill is like the constant flow of the waves of the Ganga, and thus I see no one within this world who can compete with you.”

“My dear brahmana, even in the compositions of such great poets as Bhavabhuti, Jayadeva and Kalidasa, there are many examples of faults. Therefore, such mistakes should be considered negligible, and one should instead see how much these poets have displayed their literary skill. I am not even fit to become your disciple. Therefore, do not take seriously whatever childish impudence I have shown. Please return home for now, and then tomorrow we may meet again so that I can hear from you discourses on shastra.”

That night, Keshava Kashmiri ardently worshiped Mother Sarasvati. Then, in his dream, the goddess appeared and informed him of the Lord’s true position. Understanding Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Keshava Kashmiri went the next morning and surrendered himself at His lotus feet. In return, the Lord bestowed His causeless mercy upon the poet by cutting off his bondage to material attachment. Thereafter, by the grace of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Keshava Kashmiri gave up the profession of winning championships, and became a pure Vaishnava in the Nimbarka-sampradaya.