By Gauranga Darshan Das (Gaura Purnima Special)
Lord Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gīta that He descends in every yuga as an incarnation for three purposes: to protect the righteous, to punish the mischievous, and to establishes dharma. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa descended in the current age of Kali as Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu or Śrī Gaurānga. In this incarnation, the Lord appears in the form of a devotee to teach how to perform loving devotional service (bhakti) unto Him.
Assuming the emotions of a devotee, Lord Gaurānga constantly chants Kṛṣṇa’s holy names and thus spreads the yuga-dharma or the process of salvation for this age, which is kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana or congregational chanting of the holy names of Kṛṣṇa.
dhyeyaṁ sadā paribhava-ghnam abhīṣṭa-dohaṁ
tīrthāspadaṁ śiva-viriñci-nutaṁ śaraṇyam
bhṛtyārti-haṁ praṇata-pāla bhavābdhi-potaṁ
vande mahā-puruṣa te caraṇāravindam
The above verse of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.5.33) describes how the lotus feet (caraṇāravindam) of the great personality (mahā-puruṣa) Śrī Gaurānga Mahāprabhu are glorious in nine ways –
- dhyeyaṁ sadā – eternal object of meditation
- paribhava-ghnam – destroy the insults of material life
- abhīṣṭa-dohaṁ – award the greatest desire of the soul
- tīrthāspadaṁ – shelter of holy places and saintly people
- śiva-viriñci-nutaṁ – honoured by Śiva and Brahmā
- śaraṇyam – worthy of surrender
- bhṛtyārti-haṁ – relieve the distress of devotees
- praṇata-pāla – protect those who simply bow down
- bhavābdhi-potaṁ – boat to cross the material ocean
- Eternal object of meditation (dhyeyaṁ sadā)
Dhyeyam refers to “an object that is to be meditated upon.” Sadā means “always.” The worthiest object of everyone’s meditation is the Supreme Lord and His divine form, name, pastimes, and qualities. And that meditation is to be done constantly (sadā). There are no hard and fast rules about time and place for such devotional mediation.
Meditation on the Lord begins from His lotus feet. It is repeatedly recommended by the scriptures that a devotee should always meditate upon the Lord’s lotus feet to purify one’s consciousness. Dhruva Mahārāja says that happiness can be attained only in two ways (SB 4.9.10), namely – meditation of the Lord’s lotus feet (tava pāda padma dhyānāt), and hearing about Him in the association of His devotees (bhavat-jana kathā śravaṇa). The moon-like effulgence emanating from the toenails of the Lord’s lotus feet destroys the thick gloom of darkness of ignorance in our hearts (SB 3.28.21). In Kali-yuga the authorized process of meditation is to chant the holy names of the Lord, especially the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra which Lord Gaurānga had propagated far and wide in His pastimes.
- Destroy the insults (paribhava-ghnam)
Paribhava means “insults in material existence.” Ghnam refers to “destruction.” The very fact that the blissful spirit soul is entrapped in the material world undergoing unnecessary suffering itself is an insult (parābhava) for the soul! The merciful lotus feet of Lord Gaurānga destroys this humiliation.
In this Kali-yuga, the age of quarrel, people cannot tolerate others’ prosperity and status, and thus there are fights even among family members, what to speak of states or nations. The real cause of all problems is the identification of the soul with the material body and mind. Such false identification makes one believe that a temporary sense of enjoyment gives happiness, although it ultimately gives pain, and pursuing it causes insult. And people are further tormented by excessive heat, cold, famine, drought, and so on in this world.
All these harassments and embarrassments caused by envious people (ādhibhautika kleśas), by one’s own body and mind (ādhyātmika kleśas), or by natural calamities (ādhidaivika kleśas) can be relieved by taking shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Gaurānga Mahāprabhu. One who takes shelter of His lotus feet loosens the hard knot that psychologically binds one to bodily identification and resultant attachment. Then, one need not face any more insults in this world and be spiritually blissful.
- Award the greatest desire (abhīṣṭa-dohaṁ)
Abhīṣṭa means “desire.” Dohaṁ means “to give.” The living being in this material world may have unlimited material desires. But in the purest state of the soul, the soul only desires and hankers to love and serve Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa-prema or love of God is the deepest desire of every living being. Just as sugar is meant to be sweet, the soul is meant to love and serve Kṛṣṇa. Any other attitude or engagement of the soul is only a temporary and unnecessary cloud on the soul’s pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The mercy of Lord Caitanya’s lotus feet enables one to revive one’s dormant kṛṣṇa-prema. Lord Caitanya is so merciful that He gives the rarest kṛṣṇa-prema to the most fallen soul also without any reservations. Therefore He is called kṛṣṇa-prema pradāyate.
cirād adattaṁ nija-gupta-vittaṁ
ā-pāmaraṁ yo vitatāra gauraḥ
kṛṣṇo janebhyas tam ahaṁ prapadye
“The most munificent Supreme Personality of Godhead, known as Gaurakṛṣṇa, distributed to everyone—even the lowest of men—His confidential treasury in the form of the nectar of love of Himself and the holy name. This was never given to the people at any time before. I, therefore, offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.” (CC Madhya 23.1)
- Shelter of holy places and saintly people (tīrthāspadaṁ)
Tīrtha means “a holy place or a saintly person,” and āspadam means “abode or shelter.” Lord Caitanya’s lotus feet are the shelter of all holy places and saintly devotees. The holy river Ganges emanated from the Supreme Lord’s lotus feet. So, the Lord is also called tīrtha-pāda. People go to a holy place or a holy river to free themselves from sinful reactions. But when pure devotees who took shelter of the Lord’s lotus feet visit those holy places, those places are purified of all the accumulated sinful contamination of people.
People living in various parts of the world may not be able to visit the holy places like Vṛndāvana, Māyāpura and so on. But by worshiping Lord Caitanya’s lotus feet, one gets the results of visiting and bathing in all sacred places. Therefore, one need not worry about the impurity caused by objects, places, and actions in Kali-yuga, but just take shelter of Lord Caitanya’s lotus feet.
- Honoured by Śiva and Brahmā (śiva-viriñci-nutaṁ)
Viriñci means “Lord Brahmā.” Nutam means “to bow down.” Even the great devatās and most powerful personalities in this universe like Śiva and Brahmā bow down to Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s lotus feet, and meticulously worship Him. In the Kali-yuga, Lord Śiva appeared as Advaita Ācārya and Lord Brahmā appeared as Haridāsa Ṭhākura. They both appealed to Lord Kṛṣṇa to descend as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and liberate the fallen people of Kali-yuga. Responding to their request, Lord Caitanya descended. So He is called śiva-viriñci-nutaṁ. The following a Bhāgavatam prayer that establishes the Lord as most worshipable by great devatās.
natāḥ sma te nātha sadāṅghri-paṅkajaṁ
parāyaṇaṁ kṣemam ihecchatāṁ paraṁ
na yatra kālaḥ prabhavet paraḥ prabhuḥ
“O Lord, You are worshiped by all demigods like Brahmā, the four Sanas, and even the King of heaven. You are the ultimate rest for those who are aspiring to achieve the highest benefit of life. You are the supreme transcendental Lord, and inevitable time cannot exert its influence upon You.” (SB 1.11.6)
- Worthy of surrender (śaraṇyam)
Śaraṇyam means “most worthy to take shelter of.” Lord Caitanya is the most munificent of all the incarnations of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He is easily served, and He is the worthiest object of surrender. Even Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā are not safe without the shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya. He is śaraṇyam (the person unto whom it is just worthy to surrender) because He is karuṇārṇavam (an ocean of compassion).
- Relieve the distress of devotees (bhṛtyārti-haṁ)
Bhṛtya means “a servant.” Ārti means “distress.” Haṁ means “to relieve.” Lord Caitanya’s lotus feet can relieve all His servants from all kinds of distresses. Because the Lord is very affectionate to His devotees, He relieves them of suffering. Lord Caitanya once relieved a leper brāhmaṇa named Vāsudeva from his leprosy and gave him a beautiful body. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, a scholarly devotee of Lord Caitanya praised Lord Caitanya’s mercy as follows in his Śacīsutāṣṭakam:
“He is always removing the suffering of material existence for mankind. He is the goal of life for persons who are dedicated to their supreme interest. He inspires men to become like honeybees (eager for the honey of kṛṣṇa-prema). He removes the burning fever of the material world. I bow down to Gaura, the beautiful Son of Mother Śacī.”
- Protect those who simply bow down (praṇata-pāla)
Praṇata means “to surrender or to bow down.” Pāla means “to maintain or to protect.” Lord Caitanya is so merciful that He protects not only His surrendered devotees but even those devotees who simply offer obeisances unto His lotus feet without duplicity. He protects anyone who simply bows down with the thought of doing service, although they have not done the service. Even the neophytes will get all protection from the Lord’s lotus feet if they are sincere in seeking shelter.
- Boat to cross the material ocean (bhavābdhi-potaṁ)
Bhava means the material existence characterized by repeated birth and death. Abdhi means an ocean. Potaṁ refers to a boat. Thus bhavābdhi-potam refers to Lord Gauranga’s lotus feet that act as a suitable boat for crossing the ocean of material existence. The following prayer by the devatās further describes how His lotus feet act like a boat.
kurvanti govatsa-padaṁ bhavābdhim
“O lotus-eyed Lord, by concentrating one’s meditation on your lotus feet, which are the reservoir of all existence, and by accepting those lotus feet as the boat by which to cross the ocean of nescience, one follows in the footsteps of great devotees. By this simple process, one can cross the ocean of nescience as easily as one steps over the hoofprint of a calf.” (SB 10.2.30)
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that a follower of Caitanya Mahāprabhu is jīvan-mukta, or a liberated soul. The devotee is always confident (niścaya) that the Lord will quickly take him across the ocean of material existence. A devotee is firmly convinced about the potency of the process of devotional service. The devotee is not even aware when he has crossed the ocean of material life.
Lord Śrī Gaurakṛṣṇa is addressed by the word mahāpuruṣa in this verse, and the whole intention of this verse is to offer obeisances at His lotus feet. Those divine lotus feet are the actual eternal object of meditation for all of us because they cut off the bondage of material life and fulfill the spiritual desires of the devotees.