Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1534) was one the most prominent Hindu saints of the 16th century. The most renowned and celebrated proponents of the Vaishnava School of Bhakti Yoga that centers around the unwavering devotion to Lord Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is also regarded as an avatar of Lord Krishna by his followers – a Hindus sect known as Gaudiya Vaishnavas.
In His youth, Mahaprabhu started a Sanskrit academy in Navadvipa—one of India’s top centers of learning at the time—and earned a reputation as an excellent scholar. But at age twenty-four he renounced everything to travel the subcontinent, encouraging everyone he met to chant the Hare Krishna mantra.
He is considered by disciples, scholars and followers to be the latest avatar of Krishna Himself, based on extensive evidence found in Vedic literature. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON, is a continuation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement.
Mahaprabhu’s humble, saintly demeanor and knowledge of Vedic conclusions persuaded prominent impersonalists that Krishna consciousness, worship of the Supreme Person, is life’s highest purpose. On Mahaprabhu’s instruction, the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan made a thorough analysis of the Vedas to show that Krishna bhakti, devotional service to Lord Krishna, is the essence of all Vedic teachings. Mahaprabhu’s extensive conversations with His devotees such as Ramananda Raya and Sanatana Goswami form the philosophical and scriptural basis of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, or Krishna consciousness.
Chaitanya himself left only eight written verses, the Siksastaka, in which he teaches that chanting God’s names is the most simple and sublime spiritual practice for everyone, everywhere. He also showed such extraordinary symptoms of love of God that great scholars among His devotees, including the Six Goswamis, have cited considerable scriptural evidence indicating that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself appearing as His own devotee.
Eight Teachings of Lord Chaitanya
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamritaswadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krishna-sankirtanam
Glory to the Sri Krishna Sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-shaktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrishi tava kripa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrisham ihajani nanuragaha
O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
trinad api sunichena
taror api sahishnuna
kirtaniyah sada harih
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isha kamaye
mama janmani janmanishvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki twayi
O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth.
ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam vishame bhavambudhau
kripaya tava pada-pankaja-
O son of Maharaja Nanda [Krishna], I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.
vadanam gadgada-ruddhaya gira
pulakair nichitam vapuh kada
tava nama-grahane bhavishyati
O my Lord, when will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, and when will the hairs of my body stand on end at the recitation of Your name?
shunyayitam jagat sarvam
O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.
ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam
adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah
I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.