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Shri Krishna Chaitanya rescues Krsnadasa in South India

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In dealing with his apparently fallen devotee, Lord Chaitanya didn't leave Krsnadasa to his own devices but engineered a way to save him. In fact he went out of his way to reclaim him, and pulled him by the hair back into Krishna consciousness. That is the Lord's mercy for his devotees. He never forgets our service. We should be inspired and humbled by this and pray we will come to the pure stage so the Lord won’t have to save us like he did with Krsnadasa. In any case Lord Chaitanya and his agents ARE saving us by the holy name, Vaishnava (devotee) seva (service) and devotional service in general.

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The scripture called Chaitanya Charitamrita is one of the authorized biographies of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In particular it gives the best philosophical presentation of what Krishna consciousness is through the life and teachings of Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya is the combined form of Radha and Krishna, and is considered the most merciful incarnation of God, imbued as he is with the mood of Radha---the greatest devotee.

Although Shri Chaitanya is God himself, he takes the role of a devotee of himself. Therefore he is very dear to the devotees of Krishna, because he teaches us by his practical life and dealings with others how to be a devotee of Krishna. His lila (divine activities) are sometimes referred to as "acharya lila" or the lila of the teacher or ideal example. Besides being very a very esoteric incarnation who came to taste the mood of Radha's love for Krishna, he also brought the Hare Krishna mantra as the method of self realization.

When we read the Chaitanya Charitamrita we become charmed by how merciful Shri Chaitanya truly is and how much he loves his devotees. I am going to briefly recount one incident from the Lord's South India tour. There are many interesting theological and philosophical questions which this story and all the pastimes of the Lord bring up. Such readings and discussions can absorb our mind in remembering Krishna. This particular narration scans 3 chapters from Madhya (middle) lila 7th chapter to the 10th and is full of nectar with many fascinating interactions with devotees, and various religious groups and irreligious sects.

The beginning of the trip demonstrates the Lord's love for his devotees, and their love for him, which was shown by the fact that they couldn't bear to be apart from their beloved Lord.

Here are a few verses when the Lord was about to present his request to travel to South India:

Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu called all His devotees together and, holding them by the hand, humbly informed them, “You are all more dear to Me than My life. I can give up My life, but to give you up is difficult for Me.” Madhya 7.7–8

“I am simply a dancer, and You are the wire-puller. However You pull the wires to make Me dance, I shall dance in that way.”

The Lord described how his loving devotees deal with him, seemly as a criticism of their hindrance of his executing the proper duties of a sannyasi. However, he was really, in a hidden way, praising their extraordinary loving relationship with him.

Actually the Lord was controlled by the good qualities of all His devotees. On the pretense of attributing faults, He tasted all these qualities.

No one can properly describe Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's affection for His devotees. He always tolerated all kinds of personal unhappiness resulting from His acceptance of the renounced order of life.

Although the Lord expresses his desire to travel alone so as not to be "disturbed" by the dealings of his devotees, he was not wanting to show any favoritism toward any particular devotee. However, Lord Nityananda (who is Lord Balarama---another form of God, as Krishna's brother) presented the necessity of taking one assistant to help him in his travels, who was not in Shri Chaitanya intimate circle. Lord Chaitanya agreed, and over the next few chapters travels toward South India where he has many instructive adventures and meetings with others.

Finally upon coming to South India, his assistant becomes allured by some women members of a irreligious cult, and Lord Chaitanya has to save him from such a fate. Here are the verses describing that incident:

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was accompanied by His servant, Krsnadasa. He was a brahmana, but he met with the Bhattatharis there.

With women the Bhattatharis allured the brahmana Krsnadasa, who was simple and gentle. By virtue of their bad association, they polluted his intelligence.

Allured by the Bhattatharis, Krsnadasa went to their place early in the morning. The Lord also went there very quickly just to find him.

Upon reaching their community, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked the Bhattatharis, "Why are you keeping My brahmana assistant?

“I am in the renounced order of life, and so are you. Yet you are purposefully giving Me pain, and I do not see any good logic in this.”

Upon hearing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, all the Bhattatharis came running from all sides with weapons in their hands, desiring to hurt the Lord.

However, their weapons fell from their hands and struck their own bodies. When some of the Bhattatharis were thus cut to pieces, the others ran away in the four directions.

While there was much roaring and crying at the Bhattathari community, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu grabbed Krsnadasa by the hair and took him away. Madhya 9.226--233

One significant point from this historical story is that Lord Chaitanya saves his devotee (bhakta), even if they are fallen. This is not an invitation to be lax, but indicates that when we encounter a fallen devotee of Krishna we should not be harsh with them. While we don't condone irreligious behavior we should extend them kindness if possible (we can always do so internally).

Who hasn't had problems and slipped on occasion? If we can't forgive others, how can we expect the Lord to forgive us? We can be assured that the merciful Lord is not through with this person yet (or us!). Becoming remorseful for our moral lapses and sincerely repenting will purify us, as long as we don't continually sin and think we will be forgiven by chanting the holy name---that is an offence against the holy name which will greatly impede our progress.

Here is an incredible verse spoken by Krishna to Uddhava in the 11th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam which can give us encouragement as we struggle with material desires on the path of bhakti:

Having awakened faith in the narrations of My glories, being disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense gratification leads to misery, but still being unable to renounce all sense enjoyment, My devotee should remain happy and worship Me with great faith and conviction. Even though he is sometimes engaged in sense enjoyment, My devotee knows that all sense gratification leads to a miserable result, and he sincerely repents such activities. (SB 11.20.27-28)

In dealing with his apparently fallen devotee, Lord Chaitanya didn't leave Krsnadasa to his own devices but engineered a way to save him. In fact he went out of his way to reclaim him, and pulled him by the hair back into Krishna consciousness. That is the Lord's mercy for his devotees. He never forgets our service. We should be inspired and humbled by this and pray we will come to the pure stage so the Lord won’t have to save us like he did with Krsnadasa. In any case Lord Chaitanya and his agents ARE saving us by the holy name, Vaishnava (devotee) seva (service) and devotional service in general.

Later on, upon returning to Jaganath Puri, Lord Chaitanya appeared to reject Krsnadasa for his fallen behavior. As a sannyasi he had to set an ideal example to not condone deviations (he couldn’t have a deviated person as an intimate associate due to public opinion regarding sannyas life). However, it should be noted, that although Shri Chaitanya appeared to reject Krsnadasa, the devotees headed by Nityananda Prabhu, took compassion on him in his lamentation and sincere regret, by engaging him in very special service. Krsnadasa was deputed to go to Navadhvipa (Shri Chaitanya's birth place and residence of many great devotees) to tell the local devotees that Lord Chaitanya had returned from South India (after a year). Thus Krsnadasa was welcomed as a hero for bringing such wonderful news.

To conclude, Lord Chaitanya is the most merciful incarnation, and we can learn about his mercy from the Chaitanya Charitamrita. He saved his devotee Krsnadasa from a fallen life, and then his devotees acted as his mercy agents. It is often said that the Lord's devotees are more merciful than the Lord himself, and the story of Krishna demonstrates this. Of course, this itself is the Lord's arrangment and kindness, because he desires that his devotees become glorified. There is always a spiritual competition between the Lord and his devotees, to serve and glorify one another.

May this discription inspires us all with faith in the infinite mercy and kindness of Lord Chaitanya. He is truly "patita-pavan" or the savior of the fallen!