A Tragedy of Separation
According to solar calculation, it was on the day of Makara-sankranti, an auspicious conjunction of the stars, that Nimai Pandita went to Katwa to take sannyasa, the renounced order of life. After this. He would become known as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He swam across the Ganges and in wet cloth ran towards Katwa. Just before this. He told only a few of His friends, including Nityananda Prabhu, Gadadhara Pandita, Mukunda, and others, "The time when I will accept the robe of renunciation is very near."
Just a few days before this, an opposition party had been raised against Nimai Pandita. Those who believed that material nature is the highest principle, and that consciousness is a product of matter, began to abuse Nimai Pandita. He thought,"I came to deliver the lowest of men, but if they commit offenses against Me, there will be no hope for their upliftment." Suddenly, He said, "I came with that medicine which gives the greatest relief, but now I find that their disease is rapidly growing worse and seems beyond treatment. It will take its own course towards doom. The patients are committing offenses by abusing their doctor. They are making arrangements to insult Me. They take it that I am a family man—their nephew—they take Me as one of them. I came with the best medicine for the present degraded age, but now I find that they are plotting against Me. Now they are doomed. At least I have to show them that I am not one of them." He thought, "I shall leave family life and take sa
nnyasa and wander from village to village, town to town, preaching the holy name of Krsna." That was His decision, and within a few days He went to take sannyasa at Katwa from Kesava Bharati Maharaja.
Just the day before He left to take sannyasa, from the afternoon until the evening, there was a spontaneous gathering of devotees in the home of Nimai Pandita. Every year in Bengal, that day was celebrated as Laksmi-puja, worship of the goddess of fortune, when special cakes are prepared and distributed. Nimai, knowing that early the next morning He would leave Navadwipa to take sannyasa, attracted His followers in such a way that almost every leading devotee came to see Him that evening.
The Hare Krsna Maha Mantra
They came with flower garlands and many other offerings to be presented to the Lord. Nimai accepted their garlands and then placed them on the necks of the devotees who gave them. Only four of His most intimate devotees knew He was leaving; the ordinary devotees did not know this would be His last night in Navadwipa. With His own hands He garlanded the necks of His devotees and appealed to them, "Always chant the name of Krsna. Under no condition should you give up this krsna-nama. And don't do anything else. While working, eating, sleeping or waking, day or night—in whatever you do—continuously take the name of Krsna. Always talk about Krsna—nothing else. If you have any real attraction or affection for Me, then don't do anything without chanting the name of Krsna.
"Cultivate Krsna consciousness. Krsna is the origin of us all. He is our father; we have come from Him. The son who shows no gratitude towards the father is sure to be punished birth after birth. Always chant these names of the Lord:
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
No other religious principle is required. Chant Hare Krsna. This is not an ordinary mantra, but this is the maha-mantra, the greatest of all the great mantras, the very essence of all the mantras known to the world. Only take to this, always. No other prescription is to be followed.
"Remember your Lord, your home. This is a foreign land; you have nothing to aspire after here. Try always to go back home, back to Godhead." In this way, the Lord spoke, and all His devotees intuitively came because it was Nimai Pandita's last night in Navadwipa.
The Lord and the Fruitseller
Late at night, one devotee named Sridhara Kholaveca arrived. He used to make trade on the plantain tree and its fruit. He would sell the fruit, ripe or green, and the big leaves which are used as plates. Sometimes Nimai would pay him less for his fruits than what they were worth, and sometimes He would snatch the best fruits from him. Sridhara came to see Him late at night to offer Him a choice pumpkin. And Nimai thought, "I have spent almost My whole life snatching so many things from him, and now, on this last night he has brought this wonderful pumpkin. I can't resist." He asked Sacidevi, "Mother, Sridhara has given Me this pumpkin. Please think of how it can be prepared." At bedtime, someone came with some milk. Nimai said, "Mother, with this milk and this pumpkin, please prepare some sweet-rice." So Sacidevi prepared some pumpkin sweet-rice: pumpkin boiled with milk, rice, and sugar.
Late at night, at about three o' clock in the morning, Nimai went away. He left Visnupriya-devi asleep in bed. His mother Sacidevi, sensing what was to come, was staying awake all night guarding the door. Nimai bowed down to her and went away. And like a stone figure, Mother Sacidevi sat there by the gate as Nimai left. She could not say anything, but was struck dumb.
A little after three o' clock in the morning, Nimai swam across the Ganges and in His wet cloth went straight to Katwa, a distance of twenty-five miles. He reached there by nine or ten o' clock. There, He approached Kesava Bharati to take sannyasa.
Mother Saci's Sadness
In the early morning, the devotees came to see Nimai and found Sacidevi like a statue, sitting at the door. The door was open. Everything was empty. "What's the matter Sacidevi?" they asked. She told them, "Oh, I was waiting for you devotees. You take possession of the house. I shall go somewhere else. I can't enter this house any more. You are His devotees; you are the true heirs. Take possession." They began to throng around her and console her. "You will go? What about the young wife He left? The girl is only fourteen years old. Who will protect her? You can't shun the responsibility given to you. It is on your shoulders." In this way they came and consoled her and tried to give her some hope.
Suddenly, the devotees heard that Nimai Pandita, Sri Gauranga, had left Navadwipa. They learned that He had gone to Katwa, to Kesava Bharati's asrama to take sannyasa, bidding goodbye to the people of Navadwipa forever.
A dark shadow came down. Many began to weep and cry for Him. Many of them ran towards Katwa. Nimai Pandita was an unprecedented scholar with beautiful features—tall, fair, and benevolent. He had already made the people mad with the holy name of Krsna. He had released the two great sinners Jagai and Madhai from their nasty life. He had checked the Mohammedan ruler, the Kazi, who had broken the mrdanga drum. As a famous pandita, He had defeated many scholars who came to conquer Navadwipa, which was very much renowned for its high culture of learning, especially of logic.
At that time in Navadwipa, logic (nyaya), worship of material energy (tantra), and official Hinduism (smrti), were in high culture. Navadwipa was highly renowned for scholarship. If panditas could not defeat the scholars of Navadwipa, they could not become famous. From far away in Kashmir, Kesava Kasmiri had to come to Navadwipa to get a certificate that he was a pandita. And he was defeated by Nimai Pandita. Kesava Kasmiri was such a big pandita that it was rumored he was the favorite child of Saraswati, the goddess of learning. No one could face him. Still, he was defeated by Nimai Pandita.
But Nimai Pandita left Navadwipa forever and took sannyasa because the people of Navadwipa could not appreciate Him. He reached Katwa, where, just on the banks of the Ganges, there was a sannyasi: Kesava Bharati. Nimai went to him and asked him for sannyasa. Kesava Bharati suddenly found that his asrama was full of luster. At first, it seemed as if the sun was rising before him; then he saw that it was a bright person approaching. He rose from his seat, and with strained eyes approached in wonder. "What is this?" he thought.
Then he realized that the great devotee-scholar, Nimai Pandita, had come. He appeared before him saying, "I want to take sannyasa from you." But Kesava Bharati could not accept Nimai's offer. "I am charmed by Your beauty and personality," he said. "But You are so young, only twenty-four years old. What about Your mother, Your wife, and Your guardians? Without consulting with them, I cannot venture to give You the robe of renunciation."
In the meantime, as it was Makara-sarikranti, a famous holiday, many people had come to take bath in the holy waters of the Ganges. They gathered there and the rumor spread like fire: "Nimai Pandita of Navadwipa has come to take sannyasa." Many men flocked there, until a huge crowd gathered.
They all opposed Mahaprabhu's sannyasa. Some of them raised their voices in protest: "You—Kesava Bharati! We won't allow you to give sannyasa to this young man. He has His family. His mother and wife. We won't allow it. If you give sannyasa to this charming, young, beautiful boy, we will break down your dsrama immediately. It can't be!"
But Nimai Pandita kept pressing for sannyasa. At last, Kesava Bharati asked Him, "So, You are that Nimai Pandita about whom we have heard so much? Many big scholars came to conquer Navadwipa, the famous seat of learning, and You have defeated them all . Are You that Nimai Pandita?" "Yes," said Nimai. Kesava Bharati told Him, "I can give You sannyasa, but You must take the permission of Your mother—otherwise I won't, I can't do it." Nimai suddenly began running towards Navadwipa to ask permission, but Kesava Bharati thought, "He has such a commanding personality. He can do anything."
Nimai was called back. Kesava Bharati told Him, "With Your most extraordinary personality You can do anything. You will go there, charm Your guardians, get permission, and return. Nothing is impossible for You."
The ordinary public was very much enraged, saying to Kesava Bharati, "We can't allow you, Swamiji, to give sannyasa to this young boy. It is impossible! If you do, then we shall smash your asrama." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began performing kirtana, chanting Hare Krsna and dancing madly. And the angry mob grew, sometimes creating a disturbance. In this way, the whole day passed with no decision. The night passed in sankirtana. And the next day, Nimai's will prevailed, although there was still some opposition.
Tears From The Eyes of Millions
Nityananda Prabhu, Nimai's maternal uncle Candra-sekhara, Mukunda Datta and Jagadananda Pandita, gradually arrived there. And that afternoon, the sannyasa function began. Candrasekhara Acarya was asked to perform the ceremony on behalf of Nimai Pandita, who began to chant and dance and charm the audience.
prema-dhama-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
"While showers of tears fell from the eyes of millions, He delighted in having His beautiful hair shaved away. Millions of voices sang the glories of Krsna, as Sri Krsna Caitanya accepted the staff of renunciation. From that time on, wherever He went, whoever saw Him in the dress of a sannydsi cried in grief. I sing the glories of that beautiful Golden God, the giver of divine love."
The scene was at Katwa. Four-hundred and seventy-four years ago, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa. He was young and beautiful, with a tall figure. He was only twenty-four and had beautiful curling hair. A barber was asked to shave Him, and approached Him, but then withdrew. The barber could not venture to touch Nimai's body. He began to cry. "How can I remove such beautiful hair from such a beautiful head?"
And so many others were also crying aloud, "What a horrible thing is being done here! Who is the creator of this sannydsa7 Who is so hard-hearted that he created the sannyasa-asrama, where one must give up all that is near and dear and go from door to door, begging, leaving his own friends and relatives crying helplessly? What is this creation of the Supreme? Is it logical? Is it a happy thing? It is most cruel!"
Nimai Pandita was smiling. After the barber was ordered repeatedly, somehow he was forced to shave Nimai's head. At first, he could not venture to touch His hair, saying, "I can't touch Him." But at last, he had to do the service of shaving the beautiful, curling hair of the beautiful face of the twenty-four year old genius boy. He began with his shears. Some people could not stand the scene. Some even became mad. In the midst of the weeping, wailing, and crying of the threatening mob, it was done.
Nimai Pandita was senseless. After being only half-shaved, he stood up and began chanting in kirtana and dancing in ecstatic joy. After He was shaved, the barber promised, "\ will never again shave anyone with this hand! I would rather live by begging. This is my last service as a barber." After this, that barber took up the occupation of a sweetmaker.
Ultimately Nimai's appeals pacified the mob, and a little before noon the inevitable gradually came: the sannyasa function was performed. Candrasekhara Acarya, the maternal uncle of Nimai Pandita, was deputed to take charge of the rituals in the ceremony of sannyasa. When the mantra was to be conferred, Nimai Pandita asked Kesava Bharati, "Is this the mantra you will give me? I heard it in a dream." He whispered the mantra in the ear of his guru who accepted, saying, "Yes, this is the mantra I shall give you." Then that mantra was given.
And the name of this sannyasi was not given in an ordinary way either. A most peculiar name came through Kesava Bharati: "Krsna Caitanya." None of the ten names generally given to sannyasis was given to Nimai Pandita, but the name that was given to Him was Krsna Caitanya. As soon as they heard that name, the mob began to cry, "Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu ki jaya!" "All glories to Sri Krsna Caitanya!"
The father of Srinivasa Acarya was a class-friend of Nimai Pandita. On his way to his father-in-law's house, he heard that Nimai Pandita had come to take sannyasa. He ran there, and seeing everything, he became dumb— he was devastated and went half-mad. After that, nothing came from his mouth but "Caitanya." After he heard the name "Krsna Caitanya," whatever anyone said to him, he would only say, "Caitanya!" He became mad. After that, his name became Caitanya dasa. His former name vanished, and everyone used to call him Caitanya dasa. He could not stand the scene of Nimai Pandita's sannyasa.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, newly dressed in red robes, embraced His guru, and both of them began to dance, chanting the name of Krsna. After some time, the meaning of the name was given. Kesava Bharati Maharaja said, "Sri Krsna Caitanya means that You arouse Krsna consciousness throughout the entire world. You have descended to make all people Krsna conscious. So the most suitable name for You cannot but be Sri Krsna Caitanya."
The Nectarine World
Mahaprabhu was very cheerful, thinking, "I am going to relieve so many souls from their eternal misery and affliction. I have promised to deliver the whole world from this ocean of misery and take them to the nectarine world, and now I am going to accept that task." He was cheerful, but everyone around Him was diving in the ocean of despair and sorrow.
Some scholars stress that Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa from Kesava Bharati, who was a mayavadi, an impersonalist. But although Kesava Bharati may have externally showed himself in that way, it is seen that by coming in connection with Mahaprabhu, he became a devotee. Otherwise, we may also think that he was a devotee who came in the garb of an impersonalist to help the preaching of Mahaprabhu by assisting Him with the social formality of taking sannyasa. At that time, all over India, mayavadi sannyasis had greater recognition than Vaisnava sannyasis, and Kesava Bharati was already situated in that post. Mahaprabhu took the garb of a sannyasi from him for His own purpose, to help His preaching activity. All these things may be explained in different ways. In any case, after Mahaprabhu took sannyasa, Kesava Bharati began to sing and dance with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He joined in sankirtana and was immediately converted.
Krsna Conception: Union in Separation
In this way, the sannyasa of Nimai Pandita took place. What is the meaning of His sannyasa7 Is it redundant, auxiliary, or a necessary part of spiritual advancement? Is it desirable? Although apparently undesirable, still it has its necessity. In the Krsna conception of theism, there is a deep-rooted correlation between union with the Lord and separation from Him. Without separation, union cannot be deep-rooted. The pain of separation can enter into the depth of the heart much more than cheerfulness. Such apprehension increases our satisfaction. The greater our want, the greater our satisfaction. This is especially true in love affairs. If there is no necessity of a thing, it has no value. This principle is found everywhere. A glass of water is ordinary, but according to the degree of its necessity, its value will increase. So the degree of necessity is most important. Necessity means separation. Necessity independent of fulfillment is separation, h
Separation plays the most important part in both Navadwipa and Vrndavana lila. How many years of union were there between Krsna and the gopis? Krsna was only in Vrndavana from the age of seven years up to the age of twelve: five years. Then, He went to Mathura. Of course, it is mentioned in the Padma Purana that in peculiar or extraordinary cases, growth should be measured by multiplying by one and a half. So when Krsna is eight years old. He should be considered twelve. When He is twelve, he should be considered eighteen years of age. So according to His growth, Krsna was in Vrndavana from the age of twelve to eighteen, but according to His years, from the age of seven to twelve.
The Depth of Divine Love
He stayed in Dvaraka for a long time; altogether He lived here on this Earth for one hundred and twenty-five years. After He left Vrndavana at the age of twelve, the pangs of separation were felt by the gopis throughout their whole lives. Their long, long separation has made their devotion so dignified; the test of separation shows whether love is real. Such a long-standing separation and such a great test has never been found in history; still, the depth of their love did not diminish. Rather, an inconceivable, ever-increasing depth of divine love was found there.
And in both Navadwipa and Vrndavana, the background is almost similar. In Navadwipa, to gain victory over the opposition party, Mahaprabhu left His household life. And in vrndavana-lila it is also similar. The opposition in vrndavana-lila came from Mathura in the form of Agha, Baka, Putana, Tmavarta, and other demons who were being sent by King Kamsa. To uproot the opposition, Krsna had to go to Mathura. And when He went there. He found that the opposition was widespread. Kamsa's father-in-law, Jarasandha, Kalayavana, Sisupala, Dantavakra, and many others were inimical to Krsna. So Krsna promised the gopis that after finishing His enemies. He would return to Vrndavana to play peacefully with them. To uproot the opposition party, Krsna had to go away. And He told the gopis in Kuru-ksetra, "I have some other enemies; after finishing with them, I will be reunited with you." That sort of hope was given to the gopis in Kuruksetra.
Here also, to conquer the opposition party, Mahaprabhu had to leave Navadwipa. Later, after His conquest of all the Indian scholars and religionists of different positions and creeds, after five years, when He returned to Navadwipa, everyone was transformed. The mass approached Him madly. It is difficult to conceive with what madness the mass approached Sri Caitanya-deva, the child of their own village.
The Ganges—Filled With Human Heads
They crossed the Ganges. The whole Ganges, as far as it could be seen, was filled with human heads. They were running towards Him from all directions in such a way that the jungles were cleared by human feet. For a few days, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu stayed nearby in Vidyanagara, and then went towards Vrndavana, singing the holy name of Krsna. Thousands of devotees were running behind Him, digging up the earth to take the dust of His holy feet, and huge pits were being created.
For about eighteen years Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu led a scholarly life as Nimai Pandita. After that, for about six years. He wandered through the length and breadth of India, including Vrndavana. The last eighteen years of His life. He remained in Jagannatha Puri continuously. For the first six years of His sannyasa, He mixed with the general public. The last twelve years of His life. He al-most retired from the whole human society and engaged Himself deeply in tasting the union in separation of Radha-Govinda. And many extraordinary symptoms of ecstasy which have never been experienced anywhere, nor even heard of, were expressed by Him. Separation can produce such wonderful effects in the body and mind.
Sri Gauranga-avatara has twofold characteristics: the apparent reason for His advent is to deliver the people in general from sin, and to give them the highest attainment of life—to take them towards Vrndavana, braja-lila, by giving the holy name of Krsna. This is actually the function of the yuga-avatara, the incarnation of Godhead for the age. The Lord comes to distribute divine sound and to show how one can reach the highest position through divine sound. Still, He had another purpose to fulfill. Once in Brahma's day—in a special Kali-yuga—Krsna Himself comes in the mood of Radharani to search Himself. He wants to taste the mood of Radharani, to understand the nature of Her inner hankering for Krsna, how She can taste the sweetness of Krsna by Her mood, and what is the joy She derives.
Krsna wanted to have some experience of why Radharani is so mad for Him. He thought, "What is there in Me that makes Her so immeasurably mad for Me? What sweetness can She draw from Me? I can't ascertain it." He wanted to mold Himself in the mood of Sri Radhika and try to taste His own self from that temperament. So He came as Sri Caitanya.
When He conceived of such an incarnation, and pro-posed His idea to Srimati Radharani, we are told that Radharani, on Her part, said, "Sometimes You will madly roll on the earth, taking My name, but I won't be able to tolerate it. I shall cover Your body with My golden form. I won't allow You to roll on the earth. I shall cover You with My embrace." So it is said by those who know the ontological aspect of Sri Caitanyadeva, "I offer my respects to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, whose mood and color is Radharani's and whose inner self is Krsna searching for Himself, tasting Himself, and trying to understand why Radharani is mad to taste Him and what sort of sweetness She finds in Him (radha bhava dyuti suualitam naumi krsna svarupam).
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu remained in this world for forty-eight years. In the last twelve years of His life. He engaged Himself with deep attention in tasting Himself. Just as everyone is mad to taste sweetness, Krsna, sweetness personified, is also mad to taste Himself.
Introspection means to know oneself. Consciousness can know consciousness. And just as one can feel his own body, or consciousness can conceive of itself, ecstasy can also taste ecstasy. This is confirmed by Svarupa Damodara Prabhu, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's personal secretary, who is considered to be Lalita-sakhi, the nearest friend of Srimati Radharani in the pastimes of Krsna. He has said what Sri Caitanyadeva is:
radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladinisaktir asmad
ekatmanav api bhuvi pura deha-bhedam gatau tau
caitanyakhyam prakatam adhuna tad-dvayam caikyam aptam
radha-bhava-dyuti-suvalitam naumi krsna svarupam
"I worship Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself, enriched with the emotions and radiance of Srimati Radharani. As the predominating and predominated moieties, Radha and Krsna are eternally one, with separate individual identities. Now They have again united as Sri Krsna Caitanya. This inconceivable transformation of the Lord's internal pleasure-giving potency has arisen from the loving affairs of Radha and Krsna."
In this verse, Svarupa Damodara says that the pastimes of Radha-Krsna and those of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are parallel and eternal. Whether winter is first and summer follows, or summer is first and winter follows, is difficult to say. Similarly, in the eternal pastimes of Ihe Lord, the movement is rolling in a circle. Therefore, Svarupa Damodara says, "Whether Caitanya-avatara is first and Krsna-avatara is next, or Krsna-avatara is first and Caitanya-avatara is next is difficult to say—both are eternal."
And who is Sri Radha? She is the development of the sweetness that springs from Krsna Himself. That sweetness, in a developed form as Radha, springs up from within Krsna; Srimati Radharani is a particular potency coming out of Krsna Himself: hladini sakti. So Radha and Krsna cannot be conceived of as separate entities; the two of Them are one and the same. Still, we are told that in ancient times They divided into two. And then again, both of Them combine as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, whose luster and mood is that of Srimati Radharani and whose nature and reality within is Sri Krsna's. Fire and heat cannot be separated; sun and light cannot exist separately. They are one and the same. The Absolute Truth is one absolute substance (advaya-jnana), but sometimes Radha and Govinda show Themselves as divided and again They are united. When They are together, They are enjoying each other, and sometimes They experience painful separation without the possibility of union. That is Their d
Sri Rupa Goswami explains this as follows:
aher iva gatih premnah
ato hetor ahetos ca
yunor mana udancati
He says that just as a serpent naturally moves in a crooked way, in a zigzag way, the nature of love is naturally crooked. It is not straight. So the concerned parties quarrel, sometimes with cause and sometimes without cause, and separation comes. Separation is necessary for the transcendental pastimes of Radha and Krsna.
The Pangs Of Separation
There are four kinds of separation: purva-raga, mana, prabasa and prema-vaicittya. Purva-raga means before meeting. This is found when Radha and Govinda are not actually meeting, but somehow one has come in remote connection with the other's name, portrait, or something of that nature. When Radha hears Krsna's name or the sound of the flute—no real meeting is there, but there is some connection. The sound of Krsna's flute, a picture of Krsna, or Krsna's name may bring about purva-raga. And Krsna may experience something similar by hearing the sound of Srimati Radharani's name. In this way, there are pangs of separation, but no actual meeting. The name is so sweet that He can't contain Himself; She can't contain Herself.
When the holy name of Krsna enters within Srimati Radharani's ear. She becomes perturbed, thinking, "Is a name as sweet as this possible within this world?" This is Her reaction, and She experiences pain also. She feels, "I can't meet Him." A pang of separation comes within Her heart. That is purva-raga: the pain of separation that comes before meeting.
Mana is another kind of separation. Mana means that when meeting, there is some difference between Them in trifling matters. This is the very nature of love. Therefore, Srila Rupa Goswami say 'that love moves in a curved way like a serpent. It is not diseased, but this is the nature of the path of love. Sometimes with a trifling cause, or with no cause, a feeling comes that, "He is neglecting Me; He wants to avoid Me." And thereby Srimati Radharani thinks, "\ don't want His company." Although cent per cent appreciation is there, still, for the time being, some opposing sentiments spring up from underground; a clash comes in the sentiments of the two, and one wants to avoid the company of the other.
In prema-vaicittya, jealousy rises to such a degree that although They are already together, still some sort of thought comes within and makes Them think that They are far away from each other. These different kinds of separation are found only in the madhurya-rasa. Prema-vaicittya is that condition which arises when Krsna is there and Radharani is just nearby, but seeing Her own shadow reflected on the body of Krsna, She is so jealous that She thinks that it is another lady. So, great pangs of separation come within Her, and She thinks, "What is this? Another lady is there!" Her mind revolts. But Her friend, Lalita, is warning Her, "What are You saying? It is only Your own image reflected there. Can't You see it?" Then Radharani comes to Her consciousness. She particularly notices, "Oh, it is My own shadow." Then that feeling is immediately gone. This is an example of prema-vaicittya .These are extremely high transcendental subjects, and althoug
h this is not to be discussed in details, this is the nature of divine love in union and separation. Both are interdependent, for one cannot stay without the other, and separation is created willingly to enhance union.
Another kind of separation is called prabasa. There are two types of prabasa: one is when the separation is for a limited time; another is when one has left the country for a far-off place, as when Krsna went to Mathura to attend to other duties. These are the four types of separation pangs between the lover and the beloved.
Of course these transcendental topics are very high, and we should not indulge in them carelessly, for if we project mundane characteristics into the higher plane, our future realization will be harmed. Our mundane experience will tend to take us down, so we must proceed with caution. What we conceive of at present is not to be found in the plane of Krsna's pastimes—it is a far higher plane of existence than the realm of our experience. Our vision is adulterated. We have only an alloyed conception of the original thing. We must keep this in mind, and with this caution we may deal with these things.
It is safer to deal with the topics of the separation between Radha and Govinda than with their union. Of course, we must understand that the pain of separation experienced by Radha and Govinda has nothing to do with this plane. And so, with this caution, we may talk to some extent about separation, but it will be extremely dangerous for us to discuss or to think of when Radha-Govinda and their intimate friends are combined, enjoying each other's company, because if we deal with the pastimes of Radha and Krsna with any mundane conception, we will create a great offense. So to conceive of the union of Radha and Govinda is more dangerous than cultivating feelings of separation, as Mahaprabhu has shown by His example.
In separation from Krsna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is thinking, "I can't tolerate even My own life without Krsna! Without His grace, without His company, I can't maintain My undesirable existence." This kind of mood helps us, but still we should not imitate it; rather we must respectfully accept it as our highest ideal. This will help us brush aside our filthy, unwanted habits (anarthas). If some tears come, however, we should not think that we have realized the highest stage; that sort of thinking should be avoided. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself says, "I don't have a drop of divine love within Me, for otherwise, how could I maintain My mundane life?"
And Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa so that the residents of Navadwipa would be drawn into this high stage of separation through affection's force. His old mother Saci-devi was crying hopelessly. His young wife, Visnupriya-devi, was helplessly passing Her days. Mahaprabhu took sannyasa to create excitement, piercing into the hearts of the people the divine love that He came to give. They thought, "Who was Nimai Pandita? What great benefit did He come to give us?" That He left everything made them sympathetic towards Him. And for all these reasons the Lord went to take sannyasa.
"I Must Run To Vrndavana!"
After the function of sannyasa was finished, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu became mad. "I must run to Vrndavana," He thought. "I have given up all connection with this world. I have no attraction for it. I must run to Vrndavana to exclusively engage Myself in the service of Krsna." In trance. He began to chant a verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam where Krsna gives a description of sannyasa to Uddhava. This verse was spoken by a tri-dandi-bhiksu, a mendicant. Mahaprabhu quoted this verse, thinking, "I have accepted this garb of a sannyasi for this is favorable to My spiritual life. Now, no one in society has any claim over Me, and I will be able to exclusively devote Myself to the service of Krsna. I am going to Vrndavana with no other engagement or connection with anyone." In this way, in ecstatic madness He began to chant and dance. Kesava Bharati Maharaja embraced Him, and both guru and disciple joined together, chanting
and dancing. At that time Mahaprabhu spoke the verse of the brahmana who, in the last stages of his life, took tridandi sannyasa and had to tolerate the torture of society in different forms. He said:
etam sa asthaya paratma-nistham
adhyasitam purvatamair maharsibhih
aham tarisyami duranta-param
"The previous great sages have accepted and shown the path of sannyasa. I have now accepted that very form of life. Now, leaving everything aside, I shall run towards Vrndavana. There, taking the name of Mukunda, Krsna, I shall cross over the ocean of nescience. Crossing over this maya, I shall reach Vrndavana and fully enter the service of Krsna"
The dress of a sannyasi is meant only for an external adjustment, but the real thing is to serve Mukunda. And so, with this verse. He suddenly started towards Vrndavana from Katwa. Near the banks of the Ganges, He entered the jungle thinking, "Now, My duty is to reach Vrndavana as soon as possible and there, in a solitary place, I shall sit and chant and sing the name of Krsna."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ran towards Vrndavana and entered the jungle before evening. And Nityananda Prabhu, Candrasekhara Acarya, Mukunda Datta, and Jagadananda pursued Him through the jungle. Sometimes while running He would suddenly fall on the ground and begin to cry, "Krsna, Krsna!" Getting up suddenly. He began running—without any apparent direction—to the north, east, west and south.
Wandering in Trance
Sometimes He would run away so swiftly that the devotees could not trace Him, especially in the night, when they would lose Him in the darkness. Then, they would all be disappointed, thinking, "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, our lord and master, has left us!" But suddenly they would hear Him far away, crying, "Krsna, Krsna, Krsna!" in a piteous, wailing tone. Then they would run in that direction and see that He was lying on the ground, crying,
kahan mora prana natha murali-vadana
kahan karon kahan pan vrajendra-nandana
"Where is my beloved Krsna? I can't tolerate His separation. Where is the Lord of My life, who is playing His flute? What shall I do now? Where should I go to find the son of Maharaja Nanda?" In a piteous, heart-rending tone. He was crying. In a bewildered state, with no consciousness of any particular direction. He would say, "Who are you? I'm going to Vrndavana. Why are you disturbing Me?" After nursing Him, again they began to start towards the west, towards Vrndavana. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued wandering in trance. But the great attraction of His devotees did not allow Him to go towards the west.
Taking advantage of His trance, Nityananda Prabhu somehow coaxingly turned Mahaprabhu's face towards Santipura. It is mentioned in the Caitanya-Bhagavata that beginning from Katwa, they went west until they reached a place near Vakresvara, about six miles northeast of Dubrarajpura, in the district of Birbhum. In Vi-sramatala, on the other side of the Adjai river, there is a place which is observed as the seat of Sri Caitanya. There, they say, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu turned His face from the west towards the east, or from Vrndavana to Santipura.
They wandered throughout the remaining evening, and then another day and night. Finally, on the third day, in the evening. He returned through Kalna to Santipura through the arrangements of Nityananda Prabhu, who appeared before Mahaprabhu in the red cloth of a renunciate. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, although so familiar with him, couldn't recognize Nityananda. He saw a sannyasi before Him and thought, "I am going to Vrndavana, and here is a sannyasi in front of Me." He said, "O Sripada sannyasi, where are You going? I shall go to Vrndavana with You. How far is Vrndavana from here?" Nityananda showed Him the Ganges, near Kalna, saying, "Just see, there is the Yamuna." Mahaprabhu said, "Oh, We have come so near the Yamuna!" Then, He took His bath in the Yamuna, singing this verse:
cid-ananda-bhanoh sada nanda-sunoh
aghanam lavitri jagat-ksema-dhatri
pavitri-kriyan no vapur mitra-putri
"O daughter of the sun: although you have appeared in the form of water, you are most dear to the son of Nanda, who is the spiritual sun. You dispel the sins of all sinners. Please purify this mortal body." (Kavi Karnapura:Caitanya Candrodaya-nataka 5.13)
Just before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu arrived there on the banks of the Ganges, Nityananda Prabhu sent Can-drasekhara to inform Advaita Acarya to come. When Mahaprabhu asked Advaita Acarya, "Is that You, Advaita? How did you know I was in Vrndavana?" Advaita Acarya said, "This must be some kind of joke. Wherever You are is Vrndavana. And it is My fortune that You have come here, near the Ganges." "Oh, it is the Ganges?"
"Yes." Then, Mahaprabhu, regaining His consciousness of this world, said, "Oh, then it is a conspiracy of Nityananda Prabhu. He has brought Me here to the banks of the Ganges and told Me it is the Yamuna. It is all a hoax! I have fallen prey to His hoax."
Advaita Acarya argued, "No, no, Nityananda Prabhu has not spoken any falsehood. You have really taken bath in the Yamuna. The confluence of the Yamuna and Ganges is in Allahabad, and it is mentioned in sastra that the western side is the Yamuna, and the eastern side is the Ganges. Now You have taken Your bath in the western side, so You have taken Your bath in the Yamuna, according to scripture. So Nityananda Prabhu has not told any lie. Anyway, I have come with this new dress for You. Leave Your wet clothes and accept this new garb. I have also cooked something for You. For three days You have been fasting, and today, as a sannyasi, You must take some charity in My house. I am a poor man," he said with folded palms, "but You must come." They took Him by boat to Santipura, to the house of Advaita Acarya. The next morning Sacidevi came, and Mahaprabhu spent about ten or twelve days there in Santipura performing kirtana.
What is Vrndavana?
What is Vrndavana proper? It is a stage of consciousness. In different stages of consciousness, there are different subjective realities. Everything springs from the willpower of the Lord. He is the subject, and His potency and sweet will is all subjective. The Lord said, "Let there be light,"—and there was light. He said, "Let there be water,"—and there was water. He said, "Let there be earth,"—and there was earth. If, like a hypnotist, the higher subject wants to make the lower subject see something, he cannot but see that thing. We are all in the subjective, imaginary world, but above imagination is the supersubjective plane of reality. So, Krsna reveals Himself to one who has developed pure consciousness, and in the stage of pure consciousness one can perceive the true nature of subjective reality (sattvam visuddham vasudeva sabditam).
To show us that Vrndavana is everywhere, Mahaprabhu was running here and there in ecstasy. When They met, Advaita Prabhu told Him, "You must be jesting when You say You are going to Vrndavana. Wherever You are—that is Vrndavana. We have that experience. What You say is very peculiar: 'I am going to Vrndavana.' Simply to teach us the value of Vrndavana, You are posing in this way."
The Land of Love
Vrndavana, the highest plane of divinity, is a stage of consciousness. Above the plane of awe and reverence found in Vaikuntha, is Vrndavana, the land of simplicity and divine love. The peculiarity of the inhabitants of that highest plane of consciousness is that they do not feel they are in Vrndavana. It is aprakrta, supramundane.
Knowledge has been classified under five headings. The lowest is knowledge acquired through one's own sense experience: pratyaksa—what we have experienced through our senses. That is the first stage. The next higher stage is knowledge we have not experienced with our own senses, but have gathered from the experience of others (paroksa), just as the scientists have their experience, and we have gathered some knowledge from their inventions and discoveries.
The third stage is above the stage of human experience (aparoksa). It is something like deep sleep. When we awaken, we say, "I slept very happily; I slept a very good, sound sleep." But when in deep, dreamless sleep, we have no consciousness of that state. When we return from a deep dreamless sleep, we express some awareness of that experience, but it is hazy. Aparoksa is a sort of hazy experience which is indistinct, where the subject and material object come together, and the material object vanishes in the subject. Sarikaracarya, the great proponent of impersonalism, explains the gradation of consciousness up to this point.
On the other hand, the great devotee-scholar Ramanujacarya, as well as other Vaisnava acaryas, are of the opinion that there is a fourth stage beyond this. That plane is called adhoksaja, transcendental, or that which exists beyond the scope of the senses, whether gross or subtle. It is a plane that we can experience only when, by its sweet will, it comes down to our gross plane of understanding. If it withdraws, we are helpless; we can't find it. We cannot say that the Absolute Truth is under the control of our knowledge. We can't measure it like that. It is independent. By its sweet will it may come down and we may experience that higher realm, but if it withdraws, we are quite helpless; we can do nothing. We may cry or we may pray, but we can't enter there forcibly by dint of our own power. This is the fourth plane of consciousness, and it is grand, all-powerful, and all-inspiring. Only if it reveals itself to us can we have some experience of that plane known as Vaikuntha, the unlimited spiritual region of awe and power.
That is the adhoksaja plane. So, there is pratyaksa direct experience through sense perception, then paroksa, learning through the experience of others, then aparoksa, the negative plane of indistinct consciousness, and then the fourth dimension: adhoksaja. We are underground. Real knowledge is above, on the surface, beyond our experience. If we can pierce through the thick coverings walling up our experience, we can come in connection with another plane of consciousness: that is adhoksaja. Adhoksajam indriyam jnanam: adhoksaja means the superior knowledge which can force down our knowledge of the experience of this world. That transcendental, supra-mental knowledge is the fourth stage of knowledge. That plane is different in every way. It is not similar to this world. But through Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we come to know that there is a fifth stage of knowledge which is very similar to this mundane world, yet is not mundane. It is called aprakrta. That is Goloka, the full-fledged theistic conception which is only found in Krsna's domain. Central knowledge of the absolute must have a connection with even the lowest level of mundane creation; it must be able to harmonize the worst portion of the illusory world. This is known as aprakrta, supramundane. To enter that highest realm is possible only through divine love.
Everything can be compensated only through love. There is a saying that a loving mother thinks that her blind child has beautiful lotus eyes. She is blinded by affection. So, what is mean and low can only be compensated by love—that shines very beautifully. That is prema, or divine love. Through mercy, through pity, through grace, a king can come to play with a boy on the street. Affection can make it possible. The difference between high and low disappears at such a stage.
The Spiritual Enchanting Potency
The residents of Vrndavana think themselves ordinary. This is jnana-sunya-bhakti, divine love which is free from any calculation and does not consider even the opulence and power of the Lord. That devotion is above even Vaikuntha and goes on under the spell of yogamaya, the spiritually enchanting potency. It is the special art of yogamaya that those holding the highest position think themselves very insignificant. Love removes the difference of great and small, high and low. Vrndavana is such a plane of existence. There we find devotion free from any trace of calculation (jnana-sunya bhakti). Even the residents of Vrndavana may not know their own exalted position.
Advaita Prabhu tells Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, "Wherever You are, there is Vrndavana." Narottama dasa Thakura says wherever we find a true devotee of Krsna—there is Vrndavana (yata vaisnavagana sei sthana vrndavana. Prema-Bhakti-Candrika). Outwardly we may think that they are members of this ordinary world, but the object of all their conversation and behavior is Vrndavana. Still, although they are in Vrndavana, they do not feel themselves to be there.
They are not conscious of their own exalted position. A king, when he is not very conscious of his power, thinks of himself as a ordinary person. It is something like that. Someone may be a great doctor but through affection he may do the work of a nurse for his patient. Out of his love and affection for the patient, he may come down to do such work, but still he is great. This is the beautiful nature of Vrndavana life. It is great without the attitude, the air of bigness. Although they are really great, they appear to be simple. Power dressed in affection and love, couched in humility—that is Vrndavana. And that is also Navadwipa.
Srimad-Bhagauatam and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu say that this is the highest and most laudable place for us to live. There, the Supreme Lord Krsna and the gopis are living in the forest. There, we find no grandeur or big buildings, but if we have a true eye for grandeur, we will see it in Vrndavana. From an impartial judgement of the facts, their position is very great, but through humility they have apparently descended to our level. It is a very sweet and beautiful form of life that we find in Vrndavana. And Mahaprabhu came to show that to us through Srimad-Bhagavatam. Krsna is the Lord of that land, and the cows, hills, forests, and the Yamuna river are all creating a favorable environment there.
So Mahaprabhu took sannyasa to teach us, to take us up and make us the permanent inhabitants of that place. He says that actually, our real self lives in that plane, but unfortunately our consciousness has become focused outside. Now we are captured by the mundane aspect of this creation and think that we are suffering, but this is all illusion. We must get relief from this mania. Mania means madness, and now we are possessed by some mania. Just as a madman leaves his home and wanders in the street collecting pieces of paper and cloth, we are focused in this world, but when this madness is gone, we will awaken in our own home.
A Great Tragedy
We must return back to Godhead, back to home. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, "Your home is a beautiful land. You must try for that. Why are you always troubled with the horrors of war, epidemic, earthquake, undesirable disease, stealing, dacoiting, and fighting with so many neighbors? At the bottom of all this is the fact that you have identified yourself with this material world and this body of flesh and blood. You have to retrace your path and go back to your home." That is what is necessary. Our homeland is such a lovely and beautiful and divine place. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sannyasa is all for us, and it is for the purpose of taking us back home, where we can have home comforts, home sweetness. If we have any home-consciousness within, then we must appreciate such a proposal: home sweet home.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sannyasa. is apparently very cruel to His devotees, and to His family members, but it was meant only to take us to our home. To work out the ecstasy of union, it was necessary for Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to show separation from His devotees and relatives. Separation and union are mutually helpful. Mahaprabhu's sannyasa, His renunciation, is a great tragedy of separation.
When Mahaprabhu returned to Navadwipa after five years of His sanm/asa, all the men, women, and children madly came to see Him, to have a glimpse of His face. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the nineteenth-century founder of the Krsna consciousness movement, in his internal conception of the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, draws a parallel with the pastimes of Krsna in Kuruksetra. There, Dvaraka-Krsna and the gopis of Vrn-davana were meeting, and the gopis and gopas wanted to take Krsna from Dvaraka back to Vrndavana. Bhaktivinoda Thakur expresses a similar aspiration. When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu returned to Navadwipa and the crowds rushed to see Him, He stood on the roof of Vacaspati Pandita's house in the red dress of sannyasi. Taking himself as a permanent resident of Navadwipa, and as one of the members of Srivasa Angam, Bhaktivinoda Thakura envisions himself seeing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on the rooftop. When Krsna had gone to Dvaraka and wouldn't return to Vrndavana, the hearts of all the devotees were burdened with grief. In a similar way, Bhaktivinoda Thakura fervently prays: "When will the day come when Nimai Pandita will give up the robes of renunciation and again come and join us in kirtana in the house of Srivasa? Now He can't come—as a sannydsi He can't return to His old house. So now, we are deserted by Him, but our aspiration this: just as the gopis wanted Krsna's royal dress removed, and His cowherd dress resumed, so they could take Him again to Vrndavana and play with Him and rejoice, we aspire that Mahaprabhu's sannyasa dress be removed, and His former dress resumed. In this way, we will get back our Nimai Pandita, who is one of us, in Srivasa Angam. And together we shall rejoice, taking the name of Krsna. Oh, when will that day be mine?"