Krishna’s inner reason for appearing as Shri Chaitanya
We have a number of accounts of the curious reasons for Krishna’s appearance as Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—particularly in the Chaitanya Charitamrita and in the Chaitanya Mangala. Why curious? It is curious from the usual religious perspective that God is all powerful, self-sufficient, all-knowing and not in any need. We hear in these scriptures that Krishna couldn’t fathom the love his devotees felt for him—specifically Radha’s incomparable selfless love. It is important to understand this in the right context so we don’t become confused about Krishna’s supreme position. Otherwise, how could it be possible that God doesn't know something?
While it is true that God knows everything, it is also true that he makes his life supremely interesting and enjoyable. Krishna is considered the supreme taster of rasa, or enjoyer of the most enjoyable things and relationships imaginable—and his “imagination” always becomes reality. Thus he has made an arrangement for himself to feel some lack, or deficiency in order to glorify his devotee’s love for him, as well as to taste it from their position. In doing so he serves many purposes. God is supremely perfect and whatever he feels or does is perfect, all-auspicious and beneficial. Lord Chaitanya’s appearance is particularly beneficial for we souls of the age of Kali, who are considered fallen. I offer my grateful respects to Krishna’s existential crisis which precedes his advent as Shri Chaitanya!
When Krishna thought about the uncommon love that his most intimate servants and lovers the gopis and particularly Shrimati Radharani had for him, he had the desire to taste it himself, since it is something only tasted by his devotees. Krishna has arranged it that the more of servant—or the servant of the servant of the servant—one becomes the more ecstasy one tastes! So although Krishna is called “rasaraja” or the king of the taster of rasa [relationships], he feels he can’t fathom the intensity and blissfulness of Radha’s love for him. This creates the necessity for the advent of Lord Chaitanya.
Keep in mind that Shri Chaitanya is an eternal form of God, so although his manifestation is spoken of in terms of time that we can relate to, i.e., creation or “once upon a time”, there is no real beginning to it. We find this sense of beginning [which is really beginningless beginning] in many of the manifestations of God or his devotees like Radha or Sita and so on. There always appears to be many practical reasons for the Lord and his devotees appearance in this world.
I am going to share with you a condensed account [though admitted a bit long for a blog--though I hope you will read on] given in the Chaitanya Mangala (my favorite) by Lochana das Thakur of the confidential reasons for the advent of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It begins with Shri Narada Muni’s feeling of compassion for the fallen souls of Kali-yuga:
"In Kali-yuga, irreligiosity replaces religion. People reject the rules of Varnasrama-dharma. Under the dense darkness of Kali, everyone becomes sinful and addicted to irreligious acts.
"Narada Muni, the greatest among the sages, feeling compassion for humanity, decided to rout Kali, the personification of sin, from the earth. Seeing that the snake-like Kali had swallowed everyone in sin, Narada appeared to re-establish religion.
"Narada Muni thought to himself, 'Somehow or other, I must immediately bring the Supreme Lord Krishna to the earth. Only He can re-establish religion in this sinful age of Kali. The Vedas and the Agama scriptures concur that the desire of Lord Govinda is one with the desire of His pure devotee.'
"Narada continued his contemplation, 'If I am actually a true servant of Lord Krishna, I will be able to bring Lord Yadu Raya, [Krishna] into this Kali-yuga. First let me observe the activities of the people in Kaliyuga. Then I will summon Sri Krishna, the embodiment of religion. I' ll also bring the demigods, and Krishna's intimate friends and followers who will act as His weapons and associates. "'
"While chanting the holy names of Krishna, sometimes Narada would cry or laugh loudly. Sometimes he became choked in ecstasy. Glorifying Krishna with his vina, Narada sometimes became submerged in the mellows of Krishna-prema. Torrents of tears would rush from his eyes as he chanted Hare Krishna.
"Thus the great sage Narada, seeing the miserable condition of the people in Kali-yuga, thought deeply about their deliverance. Knowing that only the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna Himself, could rectify the situation, Narada Muni set out for Dvaraka, in the spiritual world.
As per the amazing synchronistic arrangements of the Lord, events were going on in Krishna’s place, Dvarka, in the spiritual world which would serve Narada's purpose. Krishna was preparing to visit the palace of his principle queen, Rukmini, and so although the palace was spotlessly clean she personally cleansed their private quarters and arranged an auspicious greeting with musicians and others.
When Krishna arrived she greeted him properly with her intimate associates, washing his feet and performing other welcoming gestures. However, she couldn’t speak due to her uncontrollable tears, caused by the thought of separation from her Lord. Such is the intensity of the highest love that brings about even in meeting the inability to tolerate the thought of the Lord’s leaving (separation is the highest kind of association with the Lord).
Seeing her condition Krishna thought that perhaps he might have offended her, like the time he had when he joked with her and caused her to faint in distress. But this was not the reason, and in an angry tone mixed with affection she was astonished that Krishna didn’t understand the cause of her distress. (again, this is another lila of the Lord’s ignorance to serve his inner purpose)
"Rukmini continued, 'My Lord, Your lotus feet are more dear to me than even You Yourself. After drinking madhvika [an intoxicating celestial drink], Lord Siva dances continually, hoping to attain Your lotus feet. Prabhu, You know everything there is to know, but how is it that You don't understand the heart of one who loves Your lotus feet? You will understand the intensity of the love I feel if you cultivate Radha-bhava, the mood of Srimati Radharani's selfless love, within Your heart.'
"Becoming astonished by hearing these words' of His dearmost Queen Rukmini, Lord Krishna asked her to explain it again. Lord Krishna said, 'O Devi, I didn't understand exactly what you just said. What is it that remains unknown to Me? Your words have captivated My heart. I have never heard before that there was something which I did not understand. What is that rare substance which is most valuable in the three words? Though I cannot perceive the meaning of Your words, My mind has become blissful just by hearing them. O Devi, I beg You, please tell only Me." '
"Rukmini Devi, the goddess of fortune, replied to Lord Krishna, 'My dear Lord, You are the crest-jewel of all transcendental qualities. Within Your heart You can't know why I'm crying, even though everything else is known to You. You don't know the power of Your lotus feet. My heart weeps because soon You'll leave my palace and go away.'
'The fragrance of Your lotus feet spreads in all directions. Simply smelling that fragrance frees anyone from old age and death. One who drinks the nectar of Your lotus feet becomes transcendental to day, night, and the passing seasons. The pure devotees who lovingly clasp Your reddish lotus feet are worshiped by the whole world. And the world becomes auspicious by worshiping the feet of such pure devotees.'
"Rukmini Devi continued, 'My dear Lord, You control everyone in the three worlds. No one can control You. Now please listen. I'm going to tell You something from the bottom of my heart. Whoever has intense attachment to serving Your lotus feet will definitely taste transcendental ecstasy. Because I am completely devoted and surrendered to You, I can experience the ecstasy of worshiping Your lotus feet.
'You, however, are the Supreme Lord, so how can you understand this ecstasy? Besides me, only Srimati Radharani knows how to relish the mellows of love and taste the highest transcendental pleasure. Although devotees discuss these topics throughout the day and night, they are always amazed by the unique quality of Radharani's pure love for You.
'Laksmi Devi, the goddess of fortune; Lord Brahma, the demigods, and the demigoddesses are all eager to serve Your lotus feet. By receiving the nectar of Your feet, they all attained spontaneous devotional service. Kamala, the goddess of fortune, who always lies on your bed enjoying Your kisses and loving embraces, always desires to attain Your lotus feet. Who can estimate the unlimited glories of Your lotus feet?
'Even after enjoying so much happiness, the goddess of fortune longs for the mercy achieved by serving Your lotus feet. Only Radharani who enjoyed with You in Vrndavana, can understand this completely. No one can compare with Radharani.
‘It mystifies me how Radharani binds You so completely with Her transcendental qualities. Even today, Your heart pines for Her, and tears pour from Your eyes whenever You chant the name of Radha. Just see the power of Radha's pure love…
"After hearing Rukmini Devi's wonderful words, Krishna's heart danced in ecstasy. His lotus eyes, reddish like the rising sun, filled with tears of compassion. Sitting on His throne, Lord Krishna gently placed Rukmini on His lap and consoled her. He held Rukmini's chin with His right hand and lovingly looked at her. Waves of nectar overflowed from the ocean of prema within their hearts.
"Lord Krishna said to Rukmini, 'O My beloved, I've never heard such an amazing and wonderful description. Until today, no one has ever suggested to Me that I should personally taste the love that My pure devotees have for Me.'
As these event were transpiring Shri Narada Muni arrived as if on cue to give another justification for the Lord’s tasting the position of his pure devotees. Narada disclosed the disturbance and unhappiness of his mind at the suffering condition of the unfortunate souls of Kali-yuga to which the Lord replied:
"Hearing the words of Narada, Lord Krishna smiled compassionately and said, 'Listen, great sage, somehow you have forgotten about a previous event. Narada, don't you remember the time you gave My maha-prasada remnants to Lord Siva. After Parvati Devi ate some, she promised to distribute My maha-prasada to all living entities.'
"Lord Krishna continued, 'Listen Narada, I just heard a wonderful description from Rukmini. As a result of that, I want to promise you, Narada, that in the age of Kali, I will manifest a form filled with humility.
"I shall become a devotee of Myself in order to taste the happiness relished by My pure devotees. Not only will I experience the bliss of premabhakti, but I will give it out 'to everyone in the world.
'Although I am the Supreme Lord, I will appear as My own devotee. In the association of other devotees, I will freely distribute My love by performing Hari-nama sankirtana, congregational chanting of My holy names. I will appear in the transcendental abode of Navadvipa in Sridhama Mayapur, within the home of Sacimata.'
"'Then Krishna explained the qualities of His incarnation in Kaliyuga by which He would attract the conditioned souls. Lord Krishna said, 'Narada, My transcendental body will be tall, molten gold in color, and My arms will be long and beautiful. The incomparable beauty of My golden form will defeat the beauty of Mt. Sumeru.'
"While absorbed in this ecstasy, Lord Krishna suddenly showed His form as Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu! Narada Muni fainted in divine rapture, upon beholding this most beautiful form of Lord Krishna which would appear in the coming age."
"Beholding such a wonderfully beautiful form, Narada Muni's heart burst with love and tears rushed from his eyes in a thousand streams. Gauranga's brilliant golden complexion was more effulgent than millions of suns. The shining beauty of millions of moons and millions of Cupids would have been put to shame by His inconceivably beautiful face. Blinded by Gauranga's dazzling effulgence, the sage closed his eyes and trembled in ecstasy. "Seeing Narada's stunned condition, Lord Krishna withdrew His glowing effulgence and called out in a loud voice. Returning to external consciousness, Narada saw Lord Krishna before him, but he was very eager to see the Lord's beautiful form as Gauranga once again.
"Lord Krishna said, '0 Narada, most fortunate sage, you will be loved wherever you go. Please go throughout the universe and tell the residents of Brahmaloka and Shivaloka that I will soon incarnate in Kaliyuga as Lord Gauranga. In this form of personified mercy, I will establish the yuga-dharma of sankirtana-yajna [the sacrifice of the chanting of the holy names].
As you can see, the purposes of Lord are manifested in very wonderful, nectarine ways, and the appearance of Lord Chaitanya is even deeper and more confidential then Krishna’s appearance in the world. Lord Chaitanya is Krishna with the mood and complexion of Shri Radha which he adopted to experience her love for him. Not everyone will believe or understand it even after hearing these narrations.
However, it is possible to enter into these pastimes through intense, sincere prayer, pure chanting of the Lord’s holy name, and humble service to and the blessings of the pure devotees. In the Bhagavad gita Krishna gives the qualification to understand it as being a devotee of his, and non-envious. In the Gita Krishna reveals himself as God, who is the Supreme enjoyer, controller, proprietor and dear-most friend and well-wisher of all living beings. Ordinarily, if a person heard such a claim from some person, they would think it very pompous and proud, but for God, it is just the way it is.
As an aspiring devotee, I also follow the guidelines I recommend which have been recommended to me by my guru and the previous teachers or gurus. They aren’t just for new people but for all. What I share with you, I must also follow and exemplify—at least to the best of my ability. Imperfect as I am, I find these descriptions of the Lord’s confidential appearance very sweet and inspiring.
Though we all must live in the world and maintain our existence in our body, if we are fortunate we can also be absorbed in the Lord’s activities. This absorption and love for the Lord will carry us to him, or we will receive another opportunity in our next life to continue our gradual quest for Krishna prema or love of God!
So let us pray to enter the mood of the Lord’s appearance as Shri Chaitanya (observed this Sunday February 28 in many places in the world) and appreciate that indeed he is the most merciful incarnation of Krishna because he gives pure love of Krishna to the most unqualified souls of this age who are willing to follow in his footsteps and those of his pure devotees.