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The foremost Vedic scholar in India during those days was Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya who was the elderly spiritual master of King Prataparudra. The king ruled Orissa and a large part of South India. When Lord Chaitanya went to Jagannath Puri, he first converted Sarvabhauma and this led to a chain reaction where everyone under him also embraced the Bhakti movement.

Sarvabhauma initially developed a fatherly affection towards Lord Chaitanya. Seeing the young and handsome Lord, he expressed concern if he’d be able to maintain his vows of monkhood. And with a sincere desire to educate and help the Lord, he offered to teach him Vedanta. The Lord humbly accepted the position of a dutiful student. For seven consecutive days, the Bhattacharya spoke, and the Lord heard in rapt attention and silence. Later when Sarvabhauma enquired if Mahaprabhu had understood the explanations, the Lord humbly, yet firmly, corrected all of his erroneous theories. Sarvabhauma surrendered to Lord Chaitanya.

Soon the king of Orissa wanted Lord Chaitanya’s shelter. While ordinary people would feel overwhelmed if they heard the king wished to see them, Lord Chaitanya exhibited unparalleled detachment. The Lord simply refused to see the king, saying kings are worldly people and he has nothing to do with them. Krishna das Kaviraj Goswami explains the delightful, yet anxious struggle of the king to meet the Lord. Although everyone petitioned the Lord to see the king, he was reluctant. Finally when the king took a humble position of a servant of other devotees, and presented himself modestly before the Lord, Sri Chaitanya gave him His audience and grace.

Even the most charismatic leaders could attract some and not all types of people. One could influence either the rich, educated, poor, simple, or thieves, or diseased but not all of them. Lord Chaitanya however had a mind-boggling variety of followers. During his journey through the Jaharikhanda forest, he kicked a tiger, and lo and behold, the beast, chanted the holy names of God. He then lead a kirtan in the middle of the dense jungle, that induced deer, elephants, tigers and snakes to embrace each other in love. The lord brought even ferocious animals under the divine umbrella of the holy names.

To be continued…


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