A Garland of Lélä in the thread of Tattvä
Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé, 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 Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu.
Having full respect and devotion unto all the previous biographers of Lord Caitanya, Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé would not repeat those pastimes, which were elaborated by them. Especially most of the early pastimes of Lord Caitanya were explained in detail by Våndävana däsa Öhäkura hence Kaviräja Gosvämé would only account for them briefly.
A systematic way of writing is adapted by Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé for presenting this classic, as he divides the pastimes of Lord Caitanya into three divisions namely Ädi-lélä (the early period of Lord Caitanya’s pastimes), Madhya-lélä (the middle period), and Antya-lélä (recounting the final period).
Greatness before Sweetness
Before taking his readers into the ocean of Lord Caitanya’s pastimes, Kaviräja Gosvämé 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 Ädi-lélä with extensive vedic scriptural evidence.
Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé establishes how Caitanya Mahäprabhu is the avatära (incarnation) of God for the Age of Kali and also proves how Caitanya Mahäprabhu is identical to Lord Kåñëa 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. Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé reveals the internal and external purposes of Lord Caitanya’s appearance in this world, describes His co-avatäras and principal devotees, and summarizes His teachings.
Ädi-lélä – Before accepting Renounced Order
From the chapters thirteen through seventeen of Ädi-lélä, 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 saìkértana movement and the first civil disobedience against the Muslim government.
The notes of Muräri Gupta form the basis of the Ädi-lélä, while Svarüpa Dämodara’s diary provides the details for the Madhya- and Antya-léläs.
Madhya-lélä – Travelling as a Renunciant
Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé, being a spiritually empowered author presents some uncommon style by summarizing, at the beginning of Madhya-lélä, all the later pastimes which will be recounted in Antya-lélä. 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 Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé 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-lélä, the longest of the three divisions, narrates in detail Lord Caitanya transforming Särvabhauma Bhaööäcärya, 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, Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu 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 Çaìkarites, 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 Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu’s divine activities at the famous Ratha-yäträ in Jagannätha Puré. In the Later part of Madhya- lélä, the author also summarizes the teachings of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu to His principle followers Sri Rupa Goswami and Sri Sananatan Goswami.
Antya-lélä – In Seclusion with Kåñëa
In the Antya-lélä, the final section of the book, the author narrates the last eighteen years of Lord Caitanya’s life, spent in semiseclusion at Jagannätha Puré. The initial section of Antya-lélä narrates His dealings with devotees like Haridäsa Öhäkura, Jagadänanda Paëòita and many others. The later portion of Antya-lélä narrates how Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu drifted deeper and deeper into trances of spiritual ecstasy as witnessed by Svarüpa Dämodara Gosvämé. The author dedicates the last chapter for the master piece of Çikñäñöaka, the only literary work ascribed to Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu. Briefly mentioning about the disappearance of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, the author summarizes the entire Antya-lélä. The author also humbly expresses his gratitude, even to his readers, for relishing Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu’s pastimes since if one tastes the nectar of Çré Caitanya- caritämåta 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 Çré Rüpa and Çré Raghunätha, always desiring their mercy, Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja Gosvämé, narrates Çré Caitanya- caritämåta, following in their footsteps for the benefit of whole world.