Dhanurdhara Swami July 18th, 2016
Lessons from the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā, Chapter 2
Lesson 1: The Supreme Lord is merciful and thus adopts various means to liberate His devotees.
“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu delivered almost all the fallen souls by directly meeting them. He delivered others by entering the bodies of great devotees, such as Nakula Brahmacārī. And He delivered still others by appearing before them, as in the case of Nṛsiṁhānanda Brahmacārī. ‘I shall deliver the fallen souls.’ This statement characterizes the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Antya-līlā 2.5-6
Directly meeting (sākṣād darśan) and appearing before one (āvirbhāva) have a slight variance in meaning. The former refers to His manifest form that is visible to everyone. The latter refers to His unmanifest form, which is only visible only to a select few. For example, Lord Caitanya mystically appeared (āvirbhāva) in His unmanifest form at the Pānihāṭi festival, where only Lord Nityānanda and those qualified could see Him.
Lesson 2: We should seek the association of those advanced in devotion as their audience has a powerful purifying effect on our hearts.
“When Śrī Caitanya was personally present, anyone in the world who met Him even once was fully satisfied and became spiritually advanced.” Antya-līlā 2.7
Lesson 3: To become a successful preacher one must be empowered with devotion.
Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja describes how by manifesting His own devotion in the hearts of His pure devotees, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu influences others to become Kṛṣṇa conscious:
“Thus He empowered living beings [His pure devotees] by manifesting in them so much of His own devotion that people in all other countries became devotees by seeing them.” Antya-līlā 2.14
Lesson 4: Chanting the four syllable mantra gau-ra-āṅ-ga (gaurāṅga) is as powerful as chanting the four syllable mantra rā-dhā kṛṣ-ṇa (rādhā kṛṣṇa).
Nakula Brahmacārī was so overwhelmed with ecstatic love that it appeared he was directly manifesting Śrī Caitanya. Śivānanda Sena wanted to test if this was true and thus asked him if he knew what confidential mantra he was chanting.
“You are chanting the Gaura-gopāla mantra, composed of four syllables. Now please give up the doubts that have resided within you.” Antya-līlā 2.31
“Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explains the Gaura-gopāla mantra in his Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya. Worshippers of Śrī Gaurasundara accept the four syllable gau-ra-aṅ-ga as the Gaura mantra […] Therefore one who chants the mantra “gaurāṅga” and one who chants the names of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa are on the same level.” Antya-līlā 2.35
Lesson 5: Expression of affection is the highest truth.
“Although Nṛsiṁha Brahmacārī felt jubilation within his heart to see Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu eating everything, for the sake of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva he externally expressed disappointment.” Antya-līlā 2.66
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu mystically appeared (āvirbhāva) to eat the offerings that Nṛsiṁha Brahmacārī had prepared especially for Him. At that time Śrī Caitanya also ate a separate offering that Nṛsiṁha Brahmacārī made for Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, his worshipable Deity. Although Nrsimananda was jubilant because he understood that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was non-different from Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, he feigned distress to express love for Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva, showing that the expression of affection is the highest truth.
Lesson 6: One should respect those related to those one loves even if one has no particular regard for them.
“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu derives no happiness from meeting one who is not a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Thus because Gopāla Bhaṭṭācārya was a Māyāvādī scholar, the Lord felt no jubilation in meeting him. Nevertheless, because Gopāla Bhaṭṭācārya was related to Bhagavān Ācārya, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu feigned pleasure in seeing him.” Antya-līlā 2.91
Lesson 7: One should not hear or read Māyāvādī philosophy, even if advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as it can adversely influence one’s devotional attitude (that the Lord is the master and the living entity is His servant), and even if it doesn’t influence one, still it is painful for a devotee to hear because it is antagonistic to God.
“When a Vaiṣṇava listens to the Śārīraka-bhāṣya, the Māyāvāda commentary upon the Vedānta-sūtra, he gives up the Kṛiṣhṇa conscious attitude that the Lord is the master and the living entity is His servant. Instead, he considers himself the Supreme Lord.” Antya-līlā 2.95
Lesson 8: Simplicity (honesty) is the first quality of a devotee.
“The Lord replied, ‘I cannot tolerate seeing the face of a person who has accepted the renounced order of life but who still talks intimately with a woman.’” Antya-līlā 2.117
“Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura comments that saralatā, or simplicity, is the first qualification of a Vaiṣṇava, whereas duplicity or cunning behavior is a great offense against the principles of devotional service. As one advances in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one must gradually become disgusted with material attachment and thus become more and more attached to the service of the Lord. If one is not factually detached from material activities but still proclaims himself advanced in devotional service, he is cheating. No one will be happy to see such behavior.”
Lesson 9: A devotee must not underestimate the power of sense objects.
“So strongly do the senses adhere to the objects of their enjoyment that indeed a wooden statue of a woman attracts the mind of even a great saintly person.” Antya-līlā 2.118
“The senses and the sense objects are so intimately connected that the mind of even a great saintly person is attracted to a wooden doll if it is attractively shaped like a young woman. The sense objects, namely form, sound, smell, taste, and touch, are always attractive for the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Since the senses and sense objects are naturally intimately related, sometimes even a person claiming control over his senses remains always subject to the control of sense objects. The senses are impossible to control unless purified and engaged in the service of the Lord. Thus even though a saintly person vows to control his senses, the senses are still sometimes perturbed by sense objects.” Antya-līlā 2.119
Lesson 10: A person who has knowledge should also be humble and renounced.
“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu told Rāmānanda Rāya, “Sanātana Gosvāmī’s renunciation of material connections is just like yours. Humility, renunciation and excellent learning exist in him simultaneously.’” Antya-līlā 1.201
Lesson 11: A devotee is humble.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī addresses himself as varāka-rūpo, which means the insignificant Rūpa, or the form (rūpa) of insignificance.
“Although I am the lowest of men and have no knowledge, the Lord has mercifully bestowed upon me the inspiration to write transcendental literature about devotional service. Therefore I offer my obeisances at the lotus feet of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has given me the chance to write these books.” Antya-līlā 1.212
Lesson 12: A devotee takes his own mistakes seriously.
Choṭa Haridāsa was ordered by Śrī Caitanya not to see Him for begging rice from a woman for that was apparently improper for one in the renounced order. He took his mistake seriously and fasted, even though the lady was an older women and a great devotee.
“Haridāsa fasted continuously for three days.” Antya-līlā 2.115
Lesson 13: One should not abuse the liberality of Vaiṣṇavism in the name of service.
Śrī Caitanya was much more liberal in His attitude towards women than the other spiritual groups at the time, especially when it came to engaging women in devotional service. He punished Choṭa Haridāsa, a sannyāsi, severely for such an apparently small mistake in the service of Kṛṣṇa – he was begging rice to feed Śrī Caitanya – to set the example that one should not take advantage of liberality in the name of spirituality.
Lesson 14: A devotee is merciful and forgiving to others who make mistakes, especially those who are sincere devotees.
After Śrī Caitanya shunned Choṭa Haridāsa, the devotees petitioned the Lord on his behalf:
“Then Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī and other confidential devotees approached Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to inquire from Him. ‘What great offense has Junior Haridāsa committed? Why has he been forbidden to come to Your door? He has now been fasting for three days.’” Antya-līlā 2.115-116
Lesson 15: Simplicity or non-duplicity is the main quality of a devotee.
“The Lord replied, ‘I cannot tolerate seeing the face of a person who has accepted the renounced order of life but still talks intimately with a woman.’” Antya-līlā 2.117
“Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura comments that saralatā, or simplicity, is the first qualification of a Vaiṣṇava, whereas duplicity or cunning behavior is a great offense against the principles of devotional service. […] If one is not factually detached from material activities but still proclaims himself advanced in devotional service, he is cheating. No one will be happy to see such behavior.”
Lesson 16: Even an advanced devotee has to be cautious in dealing with the objects of sense enjoyment.
Śrī Caitanya continues in His response to the devotees explaining why His admonishment to Choṭa Haridāsa was so strong:
“So strongly do the sense adhere to the objects of their enjoyment that indeed a wooden statue of a women attracts the mind of even a great saintly person.” Antya-līlā 2.118
“The senses are impossible to control unless purified and engaged in the service of the Lord. Thus even though a saintly person vows to control his sense, his senses are still sometimes perturbed by sense objects.”
Lesson 17: Before taking sannyāsa one must be certain that one is fit for that āśrama.
Śrī Caitanya continues his response to the petitioners on behalf of Choṭa Haridāsa:
“There are many persons with little in their possession who accept the renounced order of life like a monkey. They go here and there engaging in sense gratification and speaking intimately with women.” Antya-līlā 2.120
“One who accepts the order of sannyāsa but again becomes agitated by sensual disturbances and talks privately with women is called dharma-dhvajī or dharma-kalaṅka, which means that he brings condemnation upon the religious order. Therefore one should be extremely careful in this connection.”