Around Five hundred thirty years ago, a major cultural and religious revolution took place in Eastern India. God incarnated as Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the state of Bengal. He appeared in this world as a devotee, and taught by his own example how we could love God. He occasionally exhibited his Godhood, and performed sweet pastimes that charmed the hearts of devotees.
Vrindavan das Thakur and Krishna das Kaviraj goswami, the two famous biographers of Lord Chaitanya, have recounted these incidents in their works Sri Chaitanya Bhagavat and Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita respectively.
We shall briefly examine the Lord’s influence and instructions as presented in these books.
Let’s consider some extreme examples of Lord Chaitanya’s influence.
On one end of the spectrum is the wealthy Raghunath Das Goswami who was a multi-billionaire and the only heir to a vast fortune that his father and uncle earned. He left all of his riches to live as a mendicant and serve the Lord in Jagannath Puri. Following his footsteps were the two brothers Rupa and Sanatana, the Finance minister and Prime minister respectively, in the kingdom of Nawab Hussain Shah. The Nawab ruled Bengal, including the modern day Bangladesh, and his influence also extended to far eastern regions of India. Both the brothers had won Nawab Hussain’s trust and earned honorary titles and immeasurable wealth. Yet, they left all of it, and assisted in Sri Chaitanya’s mission of excavating holy places, building temples, writing literatures extolling the process of devotional service and teaching the standards of devotee behavior and etiquette. They lived in Vrindavan as simple renunciants, with no possession, and slept under different trees each night.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mahaprabhu transformed the hearts of the biggest dacoits of the time, infamously known as Jagai and Madhai. The duo was feared even by government officials in the city of Navadwip. The two brothers looted, raped, and burnt houses with no compunction. Lord Chaitanya along with his principal associate Lord Nityananda, dramatically influenced Jagai and Madhai to abandon their wicked ways and develop pure, saintly qualities.
To be continued….