I have read about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Amar Chitra Katha. When we visited Puri Jagannath temple in 1981, I heard his name again. It was in this temple that he embraced Krishna (as Jagannath) and was not to be seen again… Then for several years he went out of my thoughts because, there was hardly any mention of him in the public discourse. I don’t remember celebrating Gaura Poornima nor any other stories associated with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Saw this tweet and remembered Chaitanya Mahaprabhu all over again.
Who is Chaitanya MahaPrabhu ?
A son was born to Jagannath Mishra on the night of the lunar eclipse in Feb 1486. He was given the name Nimai as he was fair and had a golden glow even as a baby. Jagannath Mishra and his wife Shachi Devi had lost eight children after his son Viswaroop.
Nimai’s maternal grandfather placed several objects in front of the baby when he came visiting and Nimai chose the Bhagwat. His grandfather predicted that Nimai would be someone great one day. The word that Nimai reacted to with a dance of joy was “hari”… Once, a visiting pilgrim made sweets to offer to Maha Vishnu. Nimai ate it up three times before it could be offered to the deity !
Nimai brother Viswaroop became a Sannyasi. Fearing that Nimai too would take Sannyas, his parents didn’t send him to school. He roamed around Nabhadwip with his gang of friends, playing pranks just like Sri Krishna in his childhood. Soon, Shachi Devi insisted on sending Nimai to school and the teachers were astonished at the speed of Nimai’s learning. He mastered all the lessons quickly and at 18 became a teacher himself.
Marriage and chanting Hare Krishna !
He met Lakshmipriya at the ghats of River Ganga and married her. Unfortunately she died of snake bite and Nimai remarried Vishnupriya. While on a visit to Gaya to do the Gaya Shrardh for his fore fathers, Nimai became emotional on seeing Vishnu’s footprint. He took deeksha from the well known scholar of those days Swami Ishwarpuri.
He returned to Nabhadwip a changed man … he chanted Hare Krishna and sang kirtans on Krishna. Many Vaishnavite scholars visited him and Advaitacharya, a foremost Vaishnava Guru accepted him as Vishnu incarnate. The entire town of Nabhadwip rang with chants of Hare Krishna. An order was passed by the Muslim ruler Kazi, to stop the singing and dancing. Upon meeting Nimai, the Kazi overturned his order.
Sri Krishna Chaitanya
Nimai took leave of his mother and wife, swam across the river to Katwa and Swami Keshav Bharati initiated him into Sannyas and gave him the name Sri Krishna Chaitanya. He went from Katwa to Puri and upon entering the Garba Griha of the Jagannath temple, he fell unconscious.
The well known scholar Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya then took Sri Krishna Chaitanya home. He started teaching him Vedanta and soon realised that Sri Krishna Chaitanya knew far more than he did. He became Sri Krishna Chaitanya’s disciple ! Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then walked all over India. He went to Dwarka, Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi, Prayag, Kanyakumari and danced his way into devotees hearts. He initiated the Bhakti movement.
Jagannath Temple, Puri
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu lived in Puri for over 18 years. One day in 1533 AD, he went into the Garba Griha of the Jagannath temple to embrace Swami Jagannath and the doors closed behind him. The doors opened a little later and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was nowhere to be seen. Hare Krishna !
ISKCON is the continuation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s work.
Gaura Purnima is the auspicious appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Gauranga is another name for him because of his golden complexion. Gaura Poornima also marks the beginning of the New Year for Gaudiya Vaishnavas. Read more about it on the ISKCON website – Sri Gaura Purnima – Appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.