Why does God become His own devotee?

Srila Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami divided his masterpiece Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, the nectarian activities of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in three parts – beginning, middle and the end. The beginning part known as Adi lila systematically establishes Lord Caitanya as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and reveals the confidential reasons for Lord Caitanya’s descent in this mortal world.

First Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami authenticates the Godhood of Lord Krishna by citing evidence from various scriptures and then asserts that the same Supreme Lord Krishna who has appeared as Lord Caitanya is the Supreme Absolute Truth.

Lord Caitanya’s appearance has two-fold reasons – external and internal. Atyanta Durlabha Prema karibare dana, sikhaye saranagati bhakatera prana – The external reason of Lord’s descent is to distribute the very rare mood of love of Godhead to anyone and everyone, through the process of loving surrender to the Supreme Lord. Adi lila culminates in Lord Caitanya’s taking sannyasa for the very same magnanimous mission.

The One Supreme Absolute Truth exists in two forms eternally – as Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna to experience the divine exchange of love and pleasure. The very nature of all living entities to seek pleasure has its root in this exalted relation of selfless love between Radha and Krishna. Among Them, Sri Radha takes the role of ‘Supreme enjoyed’ while Krishna takes the role of ‘Supreme enjoyer.’ Krishna wants to experience Radha’s exalted love for Him and thus He decides to assume the mood of Sri Radha. This is the internal reason why Lord Krishna appears as Lord Caitanya- to taste and broadcast the glories of the pure love of gopis headed by Sri Radha, to the entire world. Glimpses of this mood of Lord Caitanya could be found in few sections of Adi lila and this mood is more vividly found in the Antya lila.

Panca tattva – The five attributes of the Absolute Truth


According to Srila Ramanujacarya, Krishna or God cannot be separated from His incarnations, expansions and energies; rather all these together is God. So Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami elaborates on the concept of God appearing in five features. Krishna in 5 features (technically known as Panca-Tattva) can be seen as follows:

  1. Bhakta-rupa: Lord Caitanya who is Krishna Himself appearing as devotee.
  2. Svarupaka: Lord Nityananda, Balaram who is first expansion of Krishna.
  3. Bhaktavatara: Sri Advaitacarya, who is an incarnation of Krishna.
  4. Bhakta: Srivasa, who is a representative pure devotee of Krishna.
  5. Bhakta-Shakti: Sri Gadadhara, the expansion of Sri Radha who is the devotional energy of Krishna.

The glories of each of the five tattvas are narrated elaborately in the first seven chapters of Adi lila. In the eighth chapter, the author narrates how he received orders and blessings of various vaishnavas and Lord Madan mohan Himself to write Sri Caitanya Caritamrita.

Bhakti Vriksha – The Tree of Devotion

Then Kaviraj Goswami lists different successors or associates of Lord Caitanya in the next three chapters. He also reveals their identity as Krishna’s eternally liberated servants from the spiritual world. The Goswami likens them with branches of the divine tree of devotion. The seed of this tree is Sripad Madhavendra Puri, the trunk is Lord Caitanya Himself; while Sri Nityananda, Sri Advaita are the main branches. The tree is expanded into millions of branches and subbranches represented by the exalted devotees. Each branch of this tree gives shelter and shadow to the souls of this world suffering from scorching heat of material miseries.

From Nimai to Caitanya

At the end of Adi lila (last five chapters), Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami narrates the transcendental adventures of Lord Caitanya, beginning with His birth, His childhood activities and pranks, miracles, His erudition, His debate with Mayavadis on Vedanta sutra and establishing ‘acintya-bhedabheda’ philosophy of simultaneous oneness and difference, His marriage, His inauguration of sankirtana – the only way of achieving love of God, His first civil disobedience movement against Kazi, His first interfaith conference with Kazi – forbidding him from cow-killing, His decision to take renounced order of life and His ecstatic mood as gopis.

With great humility, the author begs to narrate those early pastimes of Lord Caitanya not mentioned by His earlier biographer Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur in his book – Caitanya Bhagavata. Later pastimes of Lord Caitanya are more thoroughly dea
lt by Kaviraj Goswami in Madhya lila and Antya lila sections of this book.

Nimai's appearanceIn Adi lila of Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, the reader will find great pleasure in witnessing the jubilant ceremony of Lord’s advent as son of mother Sachi and Jagannath Mishra, His dirt eating pastime, His teasing of young girls worshiping for getting husband, His decision to get married with His eternal consort, His graceful victory over Keshava Kashmiri (a proud scholar turning into a humble devotee), His initiation into Vaishnavism, His miraculous transformation from a renowned scholar to an ardent devotee, His delivering various souls, His loving reciprocation with His associates like Advaita acharya, Srivas Thakur, Sridhar and Murari Gupta, His ecstatic chanting and dancing at Srivas Angan, His debate with Kazi – transforming heart of Kazi, and finally His display of gopi-bhava. However, this display of bhava was subjected to criticism by some of His own students. This made Lord Caitanya decide to take to the renounced order that commands respect from all social orders, and thus help Him preach love of Godhead all over the world.

Overall, in the heroic character of Lord Caitanya as described in Adi Lila, one will find the charm of a child in His sweet childhood pranks, the high intellect of a scholar in defeating Keshava Kashmiri, the expertise of a teacher in instructing Sachi mata, gently correcting Keshava Kashmiri, and convincing Kazi, the humility of a disciple in taking initiation from Isvara Puri and Keshava Bharati, the great valor of a leader in inspiring millions to revolt against Kazi, the ecstatic mood of a devotee in His gopi-bhava, the magnanimity of a renunciant in His decision to take sannyasa, the compassion of the broad-minded in delivering Jagai and Madhai, and the loving intimacy of the close one with His associates.

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