For the vaisnavas, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the reincarnation of Lord Krishna, manifesting the “Madhuryya” aspects of Srimati Radharani. Even among the non-Vaisnavas, his stature is virtually unequalled. While some scholars have described him as the greatest son Bengal has ever produced, to some others he remains the tallest figure of the ‘bhakti’ cult in his contemporary India and even beyond till date. He was a scholar extra-ordinary, starting his own ‘tole’ or teaching centre at an astoundingly early age of sixteen years. But he did not take a moment to shake off the baggage of dry knowledge when the all-consuming passion for Lord Krishna swelled in his heart after his visit to Gaya and initiation with “dashakshar Gopal mantra” (ten-letter mantra in the name of Gopal to be repeated with every breath) from Iswarapuri. His taking ‘sanyas’ (renunciation of the world to embrace the life of a monk) from Keshabananda Bharati at Katwa at the age of 23 years and 11th months was the most defining moment of his life as he left Sachimata and wife, Vishnupriya, at the dead of night to seek out his beloved Krishna and unite with him.
Mahaprabhu’s “leela” was evident at several locations including Nabadwip, Srikshetra, Puri, the Deccan and Sri Vrindavan. At Nabadwip he would take out Harinam Sankirtan in the company of his close associates (Parshads) including Nityananda Mahaprabhu, Advaita Acharyya, Sribas Acharyya and others. The flow of pure devotion gradually developed into a strong surge and engulfed thousand of fallen souls to deliver them of the impurities and imperfections and lead them in the derection of the Godhead. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spent sixteen years of his life at Puri where he would befriend intellectual and devotional stalwarts like Basudeva Sarbabhouma, Kashi Mishra, among others. The King Pratap Rudradev himself came to regard him as the Lord Krishna reappeared.
Sri Chaitanya would sing hymns in praise of Lord Jagannatha and sing and dance ecstatically during the festivals like Chandanyatra, Rathayatra etc. it was as the ‘Tota’ or garden of Kashi Mishra that he had his holy residence.
Mahaprabhu’s ‘leela’ was manifested in his acts like “Kaji Dalan” (facing up to the diktat of Chand Kazi, the Nabadwip ruler, to stop Sankirtana), ‘Jagai-Madhai Uddhar’ or winning over rogues like the brothers, Jagai and Madhai, who ware also influential Government officials. Mahaprabhu’s influence in Bengal was so great that two senior officials in the court of Gauda’s ruler Hussein Shah—Davir Khas and Sakar Mullick—who were rechristened Rupa and Sanatana Goswami—became his disciples. These two brothers later led the revitalization of vaisnavism at Sri Vrindavan through writing, preaching and meditating. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached love and universal brotherhood which in one stroke broke down the barriers of castes creed and religion. Haridas Thakur, born a Muslim, was one of his greatest followers and he occupies a high place in the Vaisnava pantheon.
Harinam Mahamantra is the greatest gift of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to the mankind, as he said, ‘In this age of Kali, the name of Hari is the only say to salvation’.
Gaudiya Mission caries forward this legacy of Sri Chaitanya through humility, and totally dedicated service to the Lord and service to the suffering humanity.