Biography of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534 A.D.) was born in the town of Navadvipa in Bengal. His birth was on a lunar eclipse. During eclipses, Hindus chant and sing holy hymns to get purification. So, at the time of Chaitanya’s birth, many around him were chanting holy names and hymns. His parents were Sachidevi and Jagannatha Misra. The baby was christened Vishvambhara, which means universal support. Astrologers predicted that Chaitanya would possess great qualities and lead his followers to liberation.
As a child, Chaitanya displayed extraordinary skills and intelligence. He mastered logic and Sanskrit and defeated local pundits in philosophical and spiritual debates. Many religious pundits began to fear debating with him. But, after receiving Vaishnava initiation, Chaitanya became disinterested in philosophical debates.
Chaitanya started absorbing himself in singing and chanting Lord Krishna’s holy names with devotional ecstasy. Soon, he attracted a following who would sing with him in groups. This congregational devotional singing (sankirtana) was a pioneering movement. It is believed that in Kali Yuga, chanting and singing the Lord’s names is the prime method to gain liberation from materialism.
One experiences ecstatic love after self-realization. One, then realizes that one is essentially a spiritual being and an eternal servant of the Lord. Ecstatic love is one of the highest spiritual experiences. It transcends material happiness, and vedic scriptures describe it as supreme bliss. Chaitanya’s life was filled with ecstatic love and he also taught others to experience this supreme joy. Chaitanya taught that Bhakti yoga was the preferred path to liberation and ecstatic bliss in Kali Yuga.
Thank You Nothingness!
There is an interesting anecdote about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His popularity started gaining him a number of followers. This angered many orthodox brahmins, who became jealous. One irate brahmin cursed Chaitanya saying, “May you be bereft of all material things”. Instead of becoming sad or angry, Chaitanya started dancing in joy!