A Garland of Līlā in the thread of Tattvā
Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, in his attempt to delineate the pastimes of Lord Caitanya, had the responsibility of establishing the position of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and its tenets, which are inseparable from the life of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Having full respect and devotion unto all the previous biographers of Lord Caitanya, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī would not repeat those pastimes, which were elaborated by them. Especially most of the early pastimes of Lord Caitanya were explained in detail by Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura hence Kavirāja Gosvāmī would only account for them briefly.
A systematic way of writing is adapted by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī for presenting this classic, as he divides the pastimes of Lord Caitanya into three divisions namely Ādi-līlā (the early period of Lord Caitanya’s pastimes), Madhya-līlā (the middle period), and Antya-līlā (recounting the final period).
Greatness before Sweetness
Before taking his readers into the ocean of Lord Caitanya’s pastimes, Kavirāja Gosvāmī establishes the necessary conclusions to equip the reader with the faith and understanding about Lord Caitanya. This he acheives through his preface presented in the first twelve chapters of Ādi-līlā with extensive vedic scriptural evidence.
Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī establishes how Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the avatāra (incarnation) of God for the Age of Kali and also proves how Caitanya Mahāprabhu is identical to Lord Kṛṣṇa and explains that He descends to liberally distribute, pure love of God by propagating congregational glorification of God, to the fallen souls of this age. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī reveals the internal and external purposes of Lord Caitanya’s appearance in this world, describes His co-avatāras and principal devotees, and summarizes His teachings.
Ādi-līlā – Before accepting Renounced Order
From the chapters thirteen through seventeen of Ādi-līlā, the author briefly recounts Lord Caitanya’s divine birth and His life until He accepted the renounced order. This account includes various pastimes like His childhood activities, schooling, marriage, His life as a Sanskrit grammar teacher and early philosophical confrontations, as well as His organization of a saṅkīrtana movement and the first civil disobedience against the Muslim government.
The notes of Murāri Gupta form the basis of the Ādi-līlā, while Svarūpa Dāmodara’s diary provides the details for the Madhya- and Antya-līlās.
Madhya-līlā – Travelling as a Renunciant
Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, being a spiritually empowered author presents some uncommon style by summarizing, at the beginning of Madhya-līlā, all the later pastimes which will be recounted in Antya-līlā. Being skeptical about his survival till the completion of this great classic and being anxious to present the world with the treasure of the pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī adapts this unusual style by summarizing the later portions in the middle of the book.
After accepting the renounced order of Life, Lord Caitanya stayed in Jagannath Puri for the rest of His life on this planet, except for some tours. The Madhya-līlā, the longest of the three divisions, narrates in detail Lord Caitanya transforming Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, a prominent Vedantist into a Vaishnava and also His travels throughout India, especially the South, as a renounced mendicant, teacher, philosopher, spiritual preceptor.
During His travel in South India for six years, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu meets many personalities and transforms them in to His disciples. In the South, He relishes the association of Srila Ramananda Ray, distributes His compassion to Kurma Brahman, Vasudev the leper and various others, stays at many places like Sri Rangam, and procures some valuable manuscripts like Sri Brahma Samhita and Krsna Karnamrita. He debates and converts many of the renowned philosophers and theologians of His time, including Śaṅkarites, Buddhists, and Muslims, and incorporates their many thousands of followers and disciples into His following.
The author also includes in this section an account of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s divine activities at the famous Ratha-yātrā in Jagannātha Purī. In the Later part of Madhya- līlā, the author also summarizes the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to His principle followers Sri Rupa Goswami and Sri Sananatan Goswami.
Antya-līlā – In Seclusion with Kṛṣṇa
In the Antya-līlā, the final section of the book, the author narrates the last eighteen years of Lord Caitanya’s life, spent in semiseclusion at Jagannātha Purī. The initial section of Antya-līlā narrates His dealings with devotees like Haridāsa Ṭhākura, Jagadānanda Paṇḍita and many others. The later portion of Antya-līlā narrates how Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu drifted deeper and deeper into trances of spiritual ecstasy as witnessed by Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī. The author dedicates the last chapter for the master piece of Śikṣāṣṭaka, the only literary work ascribed to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Briefly mentioning about the disappearance of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the author summarizes the entire Antya-līlā. The author also humbly expresses his gratitude, even to his readers, for relishing Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s pastimes since if one tastes the nectar of Śrī Caitanya- caritāmṛta with faith and love,it invokes all good fortune and destroys everything inauspicious in one’s path of developing love of Godhead.
Praying at the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Raghunātha, always desiring their mercy, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, narrates Śrī Caitanya- caritāmṛta, following in their footsteps for the benefit of whole world.