Once while playing with his friends, he jokingly induced them to chant Hare Krishna. The boys were instantly hooked to the chanting. Meanwhile passersby, who initially thought it was some children playing a game, came closer to the group, being attracted by the divine sound. Soon they too got absorbed in the kirtans. Men, who belonged to the lower caste in the social hierarchy, were busy in their daily chores, and they heard about the kirtans. They excitedly joined in. A little later, a group of senior, scholarly Pandits, known for their grave disposition, were going by the same street. They were also pulled like a magnet, to the dancing. This went on for hours.
Meanwhile mother Saci was anxious about her son’s whereabouts. Frantically searching the town of Navadwip, she soon came to the place where Nimai danced with hundreds of children and elderly people. She felt relieved to see her son, but was also shocked at the sight of the well-known, sober scholars gyrate madly in the chanting, like the other kids. She reprimaded them for their childish behavior, and in the process they were spoiling her child. Meanwhile the learned pandits left laughing, dancing, and also bewildered at what had bewitched them. The Lord taught that the Holy Names would dissolve caste discriminations, and bring men and women-cutting across the various cross-sections of the society-together in love of God.
When Lord Chaitanya was twenty four years old, he led a historic march to the palace of Chand Kazi, the governor of the district. The Kazi had strictly prohibited any public chanting by the Hindus. He had even persecuted devotees and broke their musical instruments. In open defiance of this decree, Mahaprabhu ordered his followers to accompany him to the palace. Thousands joined in the procession, with torch flames, chanting and dancing enthusiastically. They also roared, “Kill the Kazi”.
In a spiritual frenzy, thousands left home to join the protest march. The thieves were overjoyed to see hundreds of houses deserted. But instead of stealing, they too got sucked by the energy of kirtans, and they joined the dancing. Soon denizens of the heavenly planets, disguised as ordinary men, joined the kirtans, and the number swelled to millions. Kazi sent his soldiers to stop the kirtans, but they ran fearing for their life. Most of them hid their Muslim beards and caps, and also joined the procession. The Kazi surrendered and Lord Chaitanya graciously accepted him. The Kazi then ordered his followers that the kirtans shall never be stopped again. Even today, the descendants of Chand Kazi, in a densely Muslim populated area of Navadwip, encourage the chanting of hare Krishna kirtans. Srila Prabhupada often said that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had inaugurated the first civil disobedience movement of India, many centuries before the famous march by Gandhi, who defied the British. But unlike Gandhi’s march, Sri Chaitanya’s congregational chanting filled everyone’s hearts with pure love.
To be continued…