Only once in each day of Brahmā—meaning once every 8,640,000,000 years—does the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa descend to the earth in His original form. This rare descent of Lord Kṛṣṇa did in fact occur during our present cycle of ages, just before Kali-yuga began five thousand years ago. The following Kali-yuga is considered special because the self-same Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa appears in the form of His devotee Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, taking the mood and hue of Srimati Radharani.
Srila Prabhupada, the pioneer in spreading Lord Caitanya’s movement all over the world, promises us that by understanding the teachings of Lord Caitanya presented in this book, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, human society will experience a new light of spiritual life, which will open the field of activity for the pure soul.
According to experts, Ramayana is the laws of God fully revealed, Bhagavatam is the activities of God fully revealed; while Caitanya Caritamrita is the heart of God fully revealed.
Kaviraj Goswami, being directly instructed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna, reveals His heart through this masterpiece known as Caitanya Caritamrita, the only vernacular literature that has a commentary written in Sanskrit.
Except for the eight verses of the Śikṣāṣṭaka, Lord Caitanya himself did not leave any written works. Then how do we know His teachings if He didn’t personally leave behind a book?
As generally one’s life reveals his character, convictions and teachings from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, the elaborate account of Lord Caitanya’s life, we can surely understand His character and teachings. These teachings are also confirmed perfectly by the various works written by the Goswamis who are His primary followers.
In the Adi lila, Lord Caitanya preaches the glories of the Holy Name and the necessity of chanting the Lord’s name to everyone in Śrīvasa’s courtyard, on the bank of the Ganga, in his classroom, and through His Sankirtan in the streets of Navadwip. In the Madhya Lila , after taking sannyasa, the Lord instructed Sarvabhauma in Puri, Ramananda Raya in Vidyanagara, Venkata Bhatta in the South, Rupa Goswami as well as Raghupati Upadhyaya and Vallabha Bhatta (by trickery), in Prayaga, and Sanatana Goswami and Prakasananda in Varanasi. These instructions of Lord Caitanya clearly reveal His teachings as they are in truth.
This is the special glory of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta that it stands as the primary reference for life and teachings of Lord Caitanya, the deliverer of the Age of Kali.
mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ
Although an eternally perfected soul, while playing the role of a seeker, when Śrīla Bhaktivinod Ṭhākur became eager to know more about the life and teachings of Lord Chaitanya, the book he searched for was Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. After he received it, he carried Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta with him as his companions when he was transferred to Śrī Jagannath Puri and from then on wherever he went.
In the book Bhakti Siddhanta Vaibhav, the importance that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur gave to Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta is recounted as, “If somehow all the books in the world were destroyed, leaving only Śrīmad-Bhagavatam and Śrī Chaitnya Caritamrita, the people of this world could still achieve the ultimate goal of life, for whatever has not been revealed in the Śrīmad-Bhagavatam is found in Śrī Chaitnya Caritamrita. Therefore, can there be any doubt concerning the supreme status of this transcendental literature?”
From the Jaladuta diary of Śrīla Prabhupada we can understand how much personally took shelter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, at the times he faced life threatening situations during his journey to the United States.
“I am taking my food regularly and got some strength to struggle. ………and I am feeling slight headache also. But I am struggling and the nectarine of life is Śrī Chaitanya Charitamrita the source of my all vitality.
THURSDAY 9,September 1965
I feel today better. But I am feeling separation from Śrī Vrindaban and my Lords Śrī Govinda, Gopinath, Radha Damodar. The only solace is Śrī Chaitanya Charitamrita in which I am tasting the nectarine of Lord Chaitanya’s Leela.
10 FRIDAY, September 1965
Reading Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta can bestow purification of heart, knowledge of devotional service and transcendental bliss to its reader as promised in the below verses from the book itself.
śunite śunite juḍāya hṛdaya-śravaṇa
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta is ever-increasingly fresh. For one who hears it again and again, the heart and ear become pacified.[CC Antya 19.112]
caitanya-caritāmṛta nitya kara pāna
yāhā haite ‘premānanda’, ‘bhakti-tattva-jñāna’
O devotees, relish daily the nectar of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and the pastimes of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, for by doing so one can merge in transcendental bliss and attain full knowledge of devotional service. [CC Antya 5.90]
caitanya-caritra ei amṛtera sindhu
karṇa-mana tṛpta kare yāra eka bindu
The life and characteristics of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are exactly like an ocean of nectar, one drop of which can please the mind and ear. [CC Antya 11.107]
Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī says that the characteristics of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are like sugar cane that one can chew to relish transcendental juice and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta is the shop you will get this transcendental sugarcane to chew.
He also compares the pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu to an ocean which is immeasurable and unfathomable. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī adds that, “it is not possible to dip into that great ocean, but its sweet mellow fragrance attracts my mind. I therefore stand on the shore of that ocean to try to taste but a drop of it.” He desires that everyone join along with him to taste that drop and offers all glories to the listeners of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta who have accepted it as their life and soul!