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Chanting the Holy Names

The Essential Principles of Lord Gauranga´s Kirtan - Part 3

By Sacinandana Swami

So far we have learnt from the example of Narada Muni how chanting in the mood of separation and in a humble state of mind forms the essence of our philosophy. This is exactly what Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to teach us, by establishing His sankirtan movement:

When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu met Isvara Puri in Gaya, He received the Gopal mantra, which is chanted to worship Krishna. As a result, He wanted to run to Vrindavan to meet His Lord.

After travelling awhile, the Lord heard a voice from the sky—a representative of the demigods—saying, “O crest-jewel of the twice-born, do not go to Vrindavana now. You will certainly go when the appropriate time comes. Now just return to Your house in Navadvipa. You are the Lord of the spiritual world and have appeared with Your associates to deliver the people of the world. When You distribute the wealth of ecstatic love of God, Your chanting will inundate innumerable universes. We are Your servants, and thus we offer this reminder at Your lotus feet.”
(CB Adi 17.129-132)

So by this “higher intervention” the Lord did not go to Vrindavan. He went back to Navadvipa to start the sankirtana movement. After His return the devotees witnessed a distinct change in His character, because instead of engaging them in difficult debates, He was now crying “Krishna! Krishna! Where are you?”

The Lord wanted to explain to His devotees what had happened, thus He invited them to the cottage of Suklambara das on the banks of the Ganga. There He explained how on His way back from Gaya, He came to Kanai Natshala where He had the darshan of Krishna. He expressed in His own words:

“There I saw a young, beautiful boy, with a glowing, dark complexion, blackish like the bark of a tamal tree. His enchanting curly hair was decorated with wild flowers, a fresh garland of gunja berries, and a colourful peacock feather. His jewellery and gems were so bright that I could not see Him properly. Thus it is impossible for Me to describe the beauty of the delicately ornamented flute in His hand. His soft lotus feet were adorned with attractive ankle bells. His strong, graceful arms defeated the strength and beauty of blue pillars. How will I ever be able to describe the wonder of His golden-yellow silk dhoti, His dangling fish-shaped earrings, and His lotus-petal eyes with a beautiful, lazy expression? He sweetly smiled as He approached Me, and after embracing Me, He suddenly ran away.”

Sri Chaitanya then fainted. The devotees hastily picked Him up and chanted, “Krishna! Krishna!” They pacified Him to some extent, but He could not remain calm. He continuously cried, “Where is Krishna? Where is Krishna?”

(Sri Chaitanya-bhagavata, Madhya-khanda 2.180–195)

"Nimai Pandit has become a great devotee," the devotees said. And then they said to the Lord, "For one who associates with You, what is the value of Vaikuntha? A single moment with You gives us the fruit of devotion. We are now all dependent on You. You are our leader now. You lead us in Kirtan."

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu then started his nocturnal kirtans in the house of Srivasa Pandit and chanted throughout the night. He said, "Why should we waste our nights with sleeping? Let’s chant!"

So this is how it all started. This is the underlying mood, the mood of separation. In the words of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, "Where is Krishna?"

From Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu flows a river of the immortal nectar of bhakti. “Anyone who has taken a human form of life but does not take advantage of such a river, but instead drinks the poison of material life is baffled in his opportunity.” (CC Adi 13.123)

Do you want to live? Then come to drink from the nectarine river of the Holy Name. According to the Upanisads, we are all born in the ocean of nectar. We are not meant to be satisfied with anything else but nectar. This is our birthright.

By appearing in the land of Navadvipa, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed the chanting of the Holy Names as the means of obtaining this nectar of immortality and by taking on the role of a teacher He has revealed how to chant the Holy Names for the best results.

Gour-premanandi Hari Haribol!

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