According to the principles of the MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ«s, singing, dancing and playing musical instruments are strictly prohibited, for they are considered to be sinful activities. The MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ« is simply supposed to engage in the study of the VedÄnta. Therefore when the MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ«s in Benares saw that Lord Caitanya was indulging in singing, dancing, playing musical instruments and always chanting Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare, they concluded that He was not educated and that, out of sentiment, He was misleading His followers. Åaá¹ karÄcÄryaâs injunction was that a sannyÄsÄ« should always study the VedÄnta and that he should be satisfied by simply having one cloth and nothing more. Because Lord Caitanya neither studied the VedÄnta formally nor ceased from singing and dancing, He was criticized by all the sannyÄsÄ«s at Benares, as well as by their householder followers.
When Lord Caitanya received news of this criticism from His students and disciples, He simply smiled and started for MathurÄ and Vá¹ndÄvana. When He returned to Benares on His way from MathurÄ to JagannÄtha PurÄ«, He stayed at the house of CandraÅekhara, who was considered a ÅÅ«dra because he was a clerk. In spite of this, Lord Caitanya MahÄprabhu made His residence at his home. Lord Caitanya made no distinctions between brÄhmaá¹as and ÅÅ«dras; He accepted anyone who was devoted. Customarily, a sannyÄsÄ« is supposed to take shelter and eat in the home of a brÄhmaá¹a, but Caitanya MahÄprabhu, as the independent Supreme Personality of Godhead, used His own discretion and decided to stay at CandraÅekharaâs house.
In those days, by misusing their brahminical heritage, the brÄhmaá¹as had created a law to the effect that anyone not born in a brÄhmaá¹a family was to be considered a ÅÅ«dra. Thus even the ká¹£atriyas and vaidyas were also considered ÅÅ«dras. Because the vaidyas were said to be descendants of brÄhmaá¹a fathers and ÅÅ«dra mothers, they were sometimes called ÅÅ«dras. Thus CandraÅekhara, although born in a vaidya family, was called a ÅÅ«dra in Benares. As long as Lord Caitanya stayed in Benares, He remained at CandraÅekharaâs home, and He took His food at the home of Tapana MiÅra.
When SanÄtana GosvÄmÄ« met Lord Caitanya at Benares, he learned the process and principles of devotional service during two months of continual teaching. Lord Caitanyaâs instructions to SanÄtana GosvÄmÄ« have been described in the first part of this book. After receiving these teachings, SanÄtana GosvÄmÄ« was authorized to propagate the principles of devotional service and ÅrÄ«mad-BhÄgavatam. It was during this time that both Tapana MiÅra and CandraÅekhara were feeling very sorry about the strong criticism against Lord Caitanya MahÄprabhu, and they came together and prayed for the Lord to meet the MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ«s.
âWe have been mortified by hearing unfavorable criticisms from the MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ«s against You,â they informed Lord Caitanya. âIndeed, it has become intolerable for us.â They requested the Lord to do something so that these criticisms would be stopped. While they were discussing this subject, a brÄhmaá¹a came to Lord Caitanya and invited Him to his home. All the sannyÄsÄ«s but Caitanya MahÄprabhu had been invited, and now the brÄhmaá¹a came to invite Him. Knowing that the Lord did not mix with MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ«s, the brÄhmaá¹a fell down at Caitanya MahÄprabhuâs feet and implored Him: âAlthough I know that You do not accept invitations, I still implore You to come and take prasÄdam at my home with the other sannyÄsÄ«s. If You accept this invitation, I will consider it a special favor.â
The Lord took this opportunity and accepted the brÄhmaá¹aâs invitation in order to meet the MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ«s. Actually this was an arrangement made by the Lord Himself. Although the brÄhmaá¹a who invited Him knew that the Lord did not accept any invitations, he was still very eager to invite Him.
The next day Lord Caitanya went to the house of the brÄhmaá¹a and saw that all the MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ«s were sitting there. He offered His respects to all the sannyÄsÄ«s, as was customary, and then went to wash His feet. After washing, He sat down at that spot, a little distance from the other sannyÄsÄ«s. While He was sitting there, the sannyÄsÄ«s saw a glaring effulgence emanating from His body. Attracted by this glaring effulgence, all the MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sannyÄsÄ«s stood up and showed Him their respects. Among them was a sannyÄsÄ« named PrakÄÅÄnanda SarasvatÄ«. He was the chief among the impersonalist sannyÄsÄ«s, and he addressed Lord Caitanya with great humility, asking Him to come and sit among them.
âMy dear Sir, why are You sitting in that filthy place?â he asked. âPlease come and sit with us.â
âOh, I belong to an inferior sect of sannyÄsÄ«s,â Lord Caitanya replied. âTherefore I think that I should not sit with you. Let Me remain down here.â
PrakÄÅÄnanda was surprised to hear such a thing from such a learned man, and he took the Lordâs hand and requested Him to please come and sit with him and the other sannyÄsÄ«s. When Lord Caitanya was finally seated among them, PrakÄÅÄnanda SarasvatÄ« said, âI think Your name is ÅrÄ« Ká¹á¹£á¹a Caitanya, and because You have taken sannyÄsa from KeÅava BhÄratÄ«, who belongs to the Åaá¹ karÄcÄrya sampradÄya, I understand that You belong to our MÄyÄvÄdÄ« sect.â
According to the Åaá¹ kara sect, there are ten different names for sannyÄsÄ«s. Out of them, three names – TÄ«rtha, ÄÅrama and SarasvatÄ« – are given to the sannyÄsÄ«s considered to be the most enlightened and cultured. Since Lord Caitanya was a Vaiá¹£á¹ava, He was naturally humble and meek, and He wanted to give the better sitting place to PrakÄÅÄnanda, who belonged to the SarasvatÄ« sampradÄya. According to Åaá¹ karaâs principles, a brahmacÄrÄ« of the BhÄratÄ« school is called Caitanya. However, although ÅrÄ« Ká¹á¹£á¹a Caitanya MahÄprabhu took sannyÄsa, He kept His brahmacÄrÄ« name and did not take up the title of BhÄratÄ«.
âWell, Sir,â PrakÄÅÄnanda SarasvatÄ« continued, âYou belong to our Åaá¹ kara sect, and You are living in Benares – so why donât You mix with us? What is the reason? Another thing: You are a sannyÄsÄ« and are supposed to engage simply in the study of the VedÄnta, but we see that instead You are always engaged in chanting and dancing and playing musical instruments. What is the reason? These are the activities of emotional and sentimental people. But You are a qualified sannyÄsÄ«. Why not engage in the study of the VedÄnta? By Your effulgence it appears to us that You are just like the Supreme NÄrÄyaá¹a, the Personality of Godhead, but by Your behavior You appear to be otherwise. So we are inquisitive to know why You act in this way.â
âMy dear sir,â Lord Caitanya replied, âMy spiritual master considered Me a great fool. Therefore he has more or less punished Me by saying that because I am such a fool I have no capacity to study the VedÄnta. So he kindly gave Me the chanting of Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare. My spiritual master told Me, âJust go on chanting this Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a mantra; it will make You all-perfect.ââ
Actually, Lord Caitanya was neither foolish nor ignorant of the principles of the VedÄnta. His purpose was to demonstrate to modern society that fools who have no history of penance and austerity should not try to study the VedÄnta just for some recreational purpose. In His Åiká¹£Äá¹£á¹aka, Lord Caitanya said that one should be in a humble state of mind, should think himself lower than the grass on the street, should be more tolerant than a tree, and should be devoid of all sense of prestige and ready to offer all kinds of respects to others. In such a state of mind, one can chant the VedÄnta philosophy or the holy name of God constantly. The Lord also wanted to teach that a serious student of transcendental science should exactly follow the words of his spiritual master. According to the calculations of His spiritual master, Lord Caitanya appeared to be a fool; therefore he said that He should not indulge in the study of the VedÄnta but should continue chanting the Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a mantra. Lord Caitanya strictly obeyed this order. In other words, Lord Caitanya impressed on the MÄyÄvÄdÄ«s that the words of a bona fide spiritual master must be strictly followed. One who does so becomes perfect in all respects.
The word vedÄnta means âthe last word of Vedic knowledge,â which is to understand Ká¹á¹£á¹a. As Krsna states in the Bhagavad-gÄ«tÄ (15.15), vedaiÅ ca sarvair aham eva vedyaá¸¥: âBy all the Vedas, I am to be known.â When one actually comes to understand the VedÄnta, he comes to know Ká¹á¹£á¹a and his relationship with Ká¹á¹£á¹a. And one who understands Ká¹á¹£á¹a understands everything. Moreover, the knower of Ká¹á¹£á¹a is always engaged in His transcendental loving service. As the Lord states in the Bhagavad-gÄ«tÄ (10.8):
ahaá¹ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaá¸¥ sarvaá¹ pravartate
iti matvÄ bhajante mÄá¹
âI am the source of everything, and everything emanates from Me. One who perfectly knows this fully engages in My transcendental loving service.â
A living entity is eternally related with Ká¹á¹£á¹a in the relationship of servant and master. Once that service is wanting – or, in other words, when one is not situated in Ká¹á¹£á¹a consciousness – it is to be understood that his study of the VedÄnta is insufficient. When one does not understand Ká¹á¹£á¹a or does not engage in His transcendental loving service, it is to be understood that he is averse to studying the VedÄnta and understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The path of VedÄnta study shown by Lord Caitanya should be followed by all. A person who is puffed up by so-called education has no humility and therefore does not seek the protection of a bona fide spiritual master. He thinks that he does not require a spiritual master and that he can achieve the highest perfection by his own efforts. Such persons are not eligible for studying the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra. Those who are under the spell of the material energy do not follow the instructions of the disciplic succession but try to manufacture something on their own. In this way they step outside the sphere of VedÄnta study. A bona fide spiritual master must always condemn such independent mental speculators. If the bona fide spiritual master directly points out the foolishness of a disciple, it should not be taken wrongly.
A person who is completely ignorant of the science of God cannot be considered learned. More or less, everyone who is not in Ká¹á¹£á¹a consciousness is subject to foolishness. Sometimes we display our foolishness by accepting someone who is barely educated as a spiritual master. It is our duty to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose lotus feet are worshiped by all the Vedas. One who does not understand Him and is proud of a false understanding of the VedÄnta is actually a fool. Mundane attempts at academic knowledge are simply another type of foolishness. As long as one cannot understand the cosmic manifestation as a representation of the three modes of material nature, he must be considered to be in the darkness of inebriety and caught in the duality of this material world. A person who is in perfect knowledge of the VedÄnta becomes a servitor of the Supreme Lord, who is the maintainer and sustainer of the whole cosmic manifestation. As long as one is not transcendental to the service of the limited, he cannot have knowledge of the VedÄnta.
As long as one is within the limited jurisdiction of fruitive activities or is involved in mental speculation, he may perhaps be eligible to study or teach theoretical knowledge of the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra, but he cannot understand the supreme, eternal, transcendental (completely liberated) vibration of Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare. One who has achieved perfection in chanting this transcendental vibration does not have to separately learn the philosophy of the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra. According to the teachings of Caitanya MahÄprabhu, the bona fide spiritual master, those who do not understand that this transcendental vibration is nondifferent from the Supreme, yet who try to become MÄyÄvÄdÄ« philosophers expert in the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra, are all fools. Studying the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra by oneâs own efforts (the ascending process of knowledge) is a sign of foolishness. On the other hand, he who has attained a taste for chanting this transcendental vibration has actually reached the conclusion of the VedÄnta. In this connection, there are two verses in ÅrÄ«mad-BhÄgavatam which are very instructive. The purport of the first is that if a person is chanting the transcendental vibration Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare, then even if he was born in the family of the lowest of human beings it is to be understood that in his previous lives he performed all types of renunciation, austerities and sacrifice and studied all the Brahma-sÅ«tras. The purport of the second verse is that one who chants the two syllables ha-ri must be considered to have studied all the Vedas – the á¹g Veda, Atharva Veda, Yajur Veda and SÄma Veda.
On the other hand, there are many so-called devotees who think the VedÄnta is not meant for devotees. Such people are ignorant of the fact that the VedÄnta is the only platform of pure devotees. Great ÄcÄryas in all four Vaiá¹£á¹ava sampradÄyas have made commentaries on the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra, but the so-called devotees known as prÄká¹ta-sahajiyÄs carefully avoid the study of the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra. The prÄká¹ta-sahajiyÄs mistakenly take the pure devotees and Vaiá¹£á¹ava ÄcÄryas to be mental speculators or fruitive actors. Consequently they themselves become MÄyÄvÄdÄ«s and leave the service of the Supreme Lord.
Understanding the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra by academic knowledge never enables one to understand the value of the transcendental vibration. People who are entangled in academic knowledge are conditioned souls who are confused about the facts of âIâ- and-âmineâ understanding. Consequently they are unable to detach their minds from the external energy. When a person actually attains transcendental knowledge, he becomes free from this duality and engages in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Lord. The Lordâs service is the only means by which one can become detached from material activities. A person properly initiated by a bona fide spiritual master and engaged in chanting Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare gradually becomes freed from the conception of âIâ and âmineâ and becomes attached to the Lordâs transcendental loving service in one of the five transcendental relationships. Such transcendental service is not a subject matter for gross and subtle bodies. Only when one can understand that there is no difference between the Supreme and His name can one be situated in Ká¹á¹£á¹a consciousness. At such a time one no longer needs to make grammatical adjustments. Rather, one becomes more interested in petitioning the Lord: âHare Ká¹á¹£á¹a – O my Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service!â
Lord Caitanya explained all this to PrakÄÅÄnanda SarasvatÄ« and told him that He had heard all this from His spiritual master. He further informed PrakÄÅÄnanda SarasvatÄ« that His spiritual master had taught Him that ÅrÄ«mad-BhÄgavatam is the actual commentary on the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra, as stated in ÅrÄ«mad-BhÄgavatam by VyÄsadeva, the author of the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra.
A studentâs perfection is to understand the identity of the holy name and the Supreme Lord. Unless one is under the shelter of a realized spiritual master, his understanding of the Supreme is simply foolishness. However, one can fully understand the transcendental Lord by service and devotion. When Lord Caitanya offenselessly chanted the Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a mantra, He declared that the mantra could at once deliver a conditioned soul from material contamination. In this Age of Kali there is no alternative to chanting this mahÄ-mantra. It is stated that the essence of all Vedic literature is the chanting of this holy name of Ká¹á¹£á¹a: Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare. Lord Caitanya also told PrakÄÅÄnanda SarasvatÄ«, âIn order to convince Me about this essential fact of Vedic knowledge, My spiritual master has taught Me a verse from the Bá¹han-nÄradÄ«ya PurÄá¹a (38.126). Harer nÄma harer nÄma harer nÄmaiva kevalam/ kalau nÄsty eva nÄsty eva nÄsty eva gatir anyathÄ: âIn this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.â
In three out of the four millenniums (namely, Satya-yuga, TretÄ-yuga and DvÄpara-yuga) people had the honor to strive to understand transcendence through the path of disciplic succession. But in the present age, due to the influence of Kali, people have no interest in the disciplic succession. Instead, they have invented many paths of logic and argument. This individual attempt to understand the supreme transcendence (called the ascending process) is not the Vedic way. The Absolute Truth must descend from the absolute platform. He is not to be understood by the ascending process. The holy name of the Lord – Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare – is a transcendental vibration because it comes from the transcendental platform, the supreme abode of Ká¹á¹£á¹a. And because there is no difference between Ká¹á¹£á¹a and His name, the holy name of Ká¹á¹£á¹a is as pure, perfect and liberated as Ká¹á¹£á¹a Himself. Academic scholars, relying on logic and argument, have no entrance into the understanding of the transcendental nature of the holy name of God. The single path for understanding the transcendental nature of Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare is the chanting of these names with faith and adherence. Such chanting will release one from designated conditions arising from the gross and subtle bodies.
In this age of logical argument and disagreement, the chanting of Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a is the only means for self-realization. And because this transcendental vibration alone can deliver the conditioned soul, it is the essence of the VedÄnta-sÅ«tra. According to the material conception, there is a difference between a person himself and his name, form, qualities, emotions and activities, but as far as this transcendental vibration is concerned, there is no such limitation, for it descends from the spiritual world. In the spiritual world, unlike the material world, there is no difference between a person and his name and qualities. Because the MÄyÄvÄdÄ« philosophers cannot understand this, they cannot utter the transcendental vibration.
Lord Caitanya then told PrakÄÅÄnanda SarasvatÄ« that because He received the order from His spiritual master He was constantly chanting Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare. âAs a result of this chanting,â the Lord said, âI sometimes become very impatient and cannot restrain Myself from dancing and laughing or crying and singing. Indeed, I become just like a madman. When I first wondered whether I had become mad by chanting this Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare, I approached My spiritual master and informed him that I had gone mad by chanting Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare. Thus I asked him what was My actual position.â
In the NÄrada PaÃ±carÄtra it is stated:
eá¹£o vedÄá¸¥ á¹£aá¸-aá¹ gÄni
chandÄá¹si vividhÄá¸¥ surÄá¸¥
yac cÄnyad api vÄá¹ -mayam
âAll Vedic rituals, mantras and understanding are compressed into the eight words Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare.â Similarly, in the Kali-santaraá¹a Upaniá¹£ad it is stated:
hare ká¹á¹£á¹a hare ká¹á¹£á¹a
ká¹á¹£á¹a ká¹á¹£á¹a hare hare
hare rÄma hare rÄma
rÄma rÄma hare hare
iti á¹£oá¸aÅakaá¹ nÄmnÄá¹
âThe sixteen words Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare are especially meant for counteracting the contaminations of Kali. To save oneself from the contamination of Kali, there is no alternative to the chanting of these sixteen words.â
Lord Caitanya informed PrakÄÅÄnanda SarasvatÄ« that when His spiritual master understood Him he said, âIt is the transcendental nature of the holy names Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare to transport a man into spiritual madness. Anyone who sincerely chants this holy name is quickly elevated to the platform of love of God and becomes mad after God. This madness arising from love of God is the highest perfectional stage for a human being.â
Generally a human being is interested in religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation. But love of God is above all these. A bona fide spiritual master chants the holy names Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare, and the transcendental sound vibration enters the ear of the disciple, and if the disciple follows in the footsteps of his spiritual master and chants the holy name with similar respect, this chanting constitutes worship of the transcendental name. When the transcendental name is worshiped by the devotee, the name Himself spreads His glories within the heart of the devotee. When the devotee is perfectly qualified in chanting the transcendental vibration of the holy name, he is quite fit to become a spiritual master and to deliver all the people of the world. The chanting of the holy name is so powerful that it gradually establishes its supremacy above everything in the world. The devotee who chants it becomes transcendentally situated in ecstasy and sometimes laughs, cries and dances in his ecstasy. Sometimes the unintelligent put hindrances in the path of the chanting of the Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a mahÄ-mantra, but one who is situated on the platform of love of Godhead continues to chant the holy name loudly for the benefit of all concerned. As a result, everyone becomes initiated into the chanting of the holy names – Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Ká¹á¹£á¹a Ká¹á¹£á¹a, Hare Hare/ Hare RÄma, Hare RÄma, RÄma RÄma, Hare Hare. By chanting and hearing the holy names of Ká¹á¹£á¹a, a person can remember the forms and qualities of Ká¹á¹£á¹a.