Did Sri Caitanya Appear to Taste Spinach?

July 20th, 2004

Sri Vrindaban

There is a range for creative speculation in Krishna consciousness. We may conjecture how the conclusions of sastra are true. This scope gives more leeway for the expressions of rasa , the flavor of the Absolute Truth.

For example, when I was at the home of an aristocratic Bengali Vaisnava, the lady of the house responded to my heartfelt appreciation of the many delicious Bengali preparations at dinner, especially sak, by suddenly describing her own idea of why Sri Caitanya appeared. Her theory, whether literally true or not, definitely added some savor (rasa) to my understanding about Mahaprabhu?s appearance:

?God also liked the many varieties of Bengali Prasad. That?s why he appeared as Sri Caitanya.” Lord Krishna relished the simple sak (spinach) at the home of his devotee Vidura, over the royal fare offered by King Duryodhana. Yes, it?s right there in Mahabharat, ?sak?! Sri Krishna thought, ?Here in the North you seldom get such nice vegetable offerings like this tasty sak. Mostly we get only aloo gobhi (cauliflower and potatoes). In Bengal, however, so many varieties of succulent subji grow. I?m tired of just puris, rotis, a little subji and so many heavy sweets! Let me take birth there.?

Eating all those delectable subji?s I couldn?t agree with her more!

I added my own thought on the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but inspired from a statement in sastra (Jaiva Dharma):

“The tenderness of the heart experienced towards Krishna is known as bhakti. All other jivas are servants of Krishna, and tenderness towards them is compassion (daya).” Jaiva Dharma p. 206

My idea on Sri Caitanya?s appearance was based on the above inspiration:

Radha and Krishna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are the exact same original personality of Godhead, only Their mood is different. When the mood of madhurya (the sweetness in intimate relation) predominates, the original Godhead is known as Radha/Krishna. When audarya (magnanimity) predominates the same Godhead is called Sri Caitanya. These are the two original and full complementary manifestations of Godhead.

It should not be surprising that a change in mood can alter ones physical appearance. For instance?happiness makes one more beautiful. We become red with rage and pale with fright.

In the same way, the original personality of Godhead has two different appearances according to his frame of mind; Sri Caitanya when over-flowing with magnanimity; Radha/Krishna when overflowing with the sweetest intimate love .

As the mood of overflowing magnanimity marks the manifestation of Sri Caitanya, to understand the cause of His appearance we have to understand the cause of that magnanimity. As these transformations in mood are all of the same original personality of Godhead (svayam bhagavan) we must first clearly understand the meaning of svayam bhagavan to understand the cause of that magnanimity.

Svayam bhagavan means God when God is most Himself. One is most oneself when one?s heart is fully open in reciprocation to the most intimate and intense love. Such love also needs the encouragement of the most intimate setting. Svayam Bhagavan is thus Sri Krishna, God at home in Sri Vrindaban, wholly reciprocating the perfect love of the Brijbasi?s, his most intimate associates, by opening his heart and giving Himself fully to them.

One?s heart cannot remain open, however, if marred by selfishness. God at the acme of His open heart (svayam bhagavan) must thus also have compassion for those suffering bereft of that love. Even a tinge of callousness closes the heart to perfect love. Svayam Bhagavan must therefore be the giver of love to remain the enjoyer of love. Sri Caitanya is thus Sri Krishna when out of compassion He reflects on those bereft of that love. And Navadvipa is that same Vrindaban transformed to facilitate that overflowing grace.

In conclusion, magnanimity (audarya) is the cause of Sri Caitanya, not in the sense that it precedes His being, in the sense that it is the very essence and mood of His being.

Magnanimity, the cause of Sri Caitanya, also tells us something very important about attaining love of God:

As pure love leads to pure compassion, since it is the same tender heart towards Krishna just reflected to the living entities, pure compassion also helps bring us to pure love, as it is the same tender heart towards the living entities just reflected back to Krishna. Embracing the mood of Lord Caitanya, by serving his mission of sacrifice and compassion, thus naturally prepares one to become a resident of Vrindaban, as it cultivates the heart of a Brijabasi, one of tenderness and sacrifice. Simply put, the giver of love is well suited to become the enjoyer of that love.

All our great teachers thus inform us that Daya (compassion) gives us special access to Bhakti (pure love).

?When one dives deeply into the ocean of Gaura-prema, and swims in the waves that ocean, one immediately becomes one of the confidential associates of Radha and Krishna. (Srila Narottama das Thakur)

?Showing compassion to the living entities by giving them the holy name of Krishna is the essence of all religion.? (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur)

?Preaching is the essence? (Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami)

Conclusion: There is certainly flavor in the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu!

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