Vande Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya

By Swāmī Śrī Bhaktivedānta Tripurāri

In the auspicious invocation to his treatise, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī offers two prāṇaṁ verses. Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa tells us that the second of these verses is specific (viśeṣa), indicating that in it the presiding deity of the book is named and described. This stanza runs as follows:

vande śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya-
nityāndandau sahoditau
gauḍodaye puṣpavantau
citrau śandau tamo-nudau

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.2

Kavirāja Gosvāmī offers his respect (vande) to Sri Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. Śrī Kṛṣṇa means Radha Kṛṣṇa, who have appeared as Caitanya. He is Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, or Kṛṣṇa conscious. This name was given to him by Keśava Bhāratī Mahārāja as Mahāprabhu began his preaching līla. The word ‘caitanya‘ means consciousness. Mahāprabhu is always conscious of Kṛṣṇa. ‘Caitanya‘ also means ‘soul.’ Mahāprabhu is the soul of Kṛṣṇa, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, and thus he is conscious of Kṛṣṇa as only she can be. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī wants to say all of these things. He wants us to know from this verse that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Śrī (Radha) and Kṛṣṇa combined.

Śrī Radha saw Gaurāṅga in her dream once, a golden dancing figure in a land non-different from her own Vṛndāvana. His dancing and chanting made the entire universe cry. When she awoke, she wondered who this figure was. Was he Kṛṣṇa, or was he her own self in another form? When Kṛṣṇa arrived and heard her speaking about this he merely laughed. However, his kaustubha-maṇi (gem) that he wears over his heart and which represents all jīvas suddenly shone brightly, revealing to Radha the reason why Kṛṣṇa only laughed.

She understood from the joy of the jīvas resulting from thinking of that golden figure that he was both Kṛṣṇa and herself in one figure. She told Kṛṣṇa, “You, Gopāla, are that figure,” ‘tat tvam asi,’ and in that figure, “I am also you, Gopal,” ‘aham gopālo.’ This is the truth of the Upaniṣads.

Then Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī says ‘nityāndandau sahoditau.’ The word “sahoditau” refers to both the figurative, simultaneous rising of the sun and moon referred to in the third line of this verse, as well as to the oneness of Gaura and Nityānanda. These two are one. “Saha” means ‘together with,’ and suggests action in common. Kṛṣṇa Caitanya appears together with Nityānanda Prabhu, his other self, who knows nothing other than the service of Gaurāṅga.

Udita” means ‘rising high,’ ‘exalted.’ Nityānanda causes the name and person of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya to rise high on the spiritual horizon through his part in the conversion of Jagāi and Mādhāi and other preaching exploits, and Kṛṣṇa Caitanya made clear to all of his devotees the exalted position of Nitāi, lest he be misunderstood owing to his unorthodox behavior.

They appeared together on gaudadaye, the eastern horizon of Gauda. “Gauḍa” means sweet. Gauḍadeśa is the sweet country that is non-different from Vṛndāvana, the land of sweetness, mādhurya. As the sun and moon rise in the east, “udaye” implies this direction. East is the spiritual direction, to which we shall turn to uncover the secret treasure of our spiritual inheritance. Light arises in the east, the direction of the gods.

The mādhurya human-like sweetness of Kṛṣṇa in his aprākṛta-līla looks ordinary and mundane (prākṛta), but it is Godly to the extreme (aprākṛta).

Gauḍa represents his sweetness, and udaya the eastern direction, that of his aiśvarya. When he who is all majestic appears as if ordinary, this is truly sweet. When the two sweet Gods, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, appear as Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and Prabhu Nityānanda there is something more added to their sweetness.

On the eastern horizon of the land of mādhurya they appeared like the sun and moon, as if these two luminary orbs had simultaneously arisen. Kavirāja Gosvāmī describes this as “citrau,” brilliant and wonderful. This wonder (camatkāra) is the basis of the aesthetic rapture (rasa) that they came to bestow wonderfully and with brilliance like that of the simultaneous rising of the sun and moon.

The word “puṣpavantau” indicates the sun and moon. Puṣpa implies nourishment. These two Gods nourish our soul sweetly, as the sun produces rain to nourish the crops and the moon is said to make them succulent. Viśvambhara sustains the universe with bhakti and the ever-happy Nitāi makes the world joyful by giving everyone Gaurāṅga. This rising from mādhurya on the eastern horizon is the compassionate, magnanimous heart of the Godhead that stands so exalted in our mind.

Kavirāja Gosvāmī says “sam-dau,” indicating that the appearance of Gaura Nityānanda is mādhurya with the addition of audārya (generosity). Sama is the son of Dharma. Sama indicates the absence of sexual passion and the peacefulness that follows this absence. Gaura Nityānanda bestow (dau) this soothing sama, giving rise to the ananda of the soul, and more, the prema-dharma of Vraja-bhakti.

To further stress this point and make clear what the farthest reach of this benediction of Gaura Nityānanda is, Kavirāja Gosvāmī says “tamo-nudau.” Gaura Nityānanda take away the darkness of ignorance. What is this ignorance? Kavirāja Gosvāmī says “ajñāna-tamera nāma kahiye ‘kaitava’.” It is known as kaitava, and it appears in four forms: “dharma-artha-kāma-mokṣa-vāñchā ādi saba.”

The desires for piety, economic development, sense indulgence, and liberation from all of these is kaitava, cheating. The desire for these four goals of life are the darkness (tamo) of ignorance, especially the desire for mokṣa, which ignores one’s innate nature as a servant of God.

The gift of Gaura Nityānanda, their benediction (sam-dau), is called “pañcama puruṣārtha,” the fifth goal of life “prema pumartho mahān.” Kavirāja Gosvāmī says “tattva-vastu — kṛṣṇa, kṛṣṇa-bhakti, prema-rūpa nāma-saṅkīrtana — saba ānanda-svarūpa.” The Absolute truth, Kṛṣṇa (sambandha), Kṛṣṇa-bhakti (abhidheya), and prema-rupa (prayojana) can be realized by nāma-saṅkīrtana, which is the essence of all bliss (saba ānanda-svarūpa).

This nāma-saṅkīrtana taught by Gaura Nityānanda dissipates the darkness of the heart (ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ) and brings us to niṣṭhā-bhakti in the service of two bhagavatas, the book bhagavata and those who embody its message (naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā).

Serving these two is the door to bhakti-rasa (dui bhāgavata dvārā diyā bhakti-rasa). The nature of this bhakti-rasa is that having removed all ignorance from the heart, it imprisons Kṛṣṇa therein.


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9 Responses to Vande Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya

  1. Mahaprabhu is the soul of Krishna, Srimati Radharani, and thus he is conscious of Krishna as only she can be.

    I have never heard it said in exactly the terms of Radha being “the soul” of Krishna.
    I thought Krishna was the soul of Radha and all other living beings?

    Can Swami please exlain?

    • Poetry aside, in as much as love (prema) is the consciousness of consciousness per Sri Jiva Goswami (see https://harmonist.us/2009/06/inconceivable-not-illogical/), and Krishna is the supreme consciousness and Radha is the abode of prema, she is the love that is the soul/consciousness of Krishna.

      • Then, if Radha is the soul of Krishna, wouldn’t that make Radha as the Supreme Absolute above all other beings including Krishna?

        I would be more comfortable with the notion if I had ever heard Srila Prabhupada or Srila Sridhar Maharaja express the concept in those terms.

        Isn’t Krishna in the heart of Radha?
        Would that not make him the soul of Radha?

        Are we getting a little carried away here with Shakta sentiment and thus putting Shakti above Shaktiman?

        Is this idea that Radha is the soul of Krishna a little on the bhava side and not so much on the actual Vedic siddhanta?

        In bhava, anything can exist, but is bhava always expressive of the Paratattva?

        Or is bhava a perception of reality distorted by prema?

        • Then, if Radha is the soul of Krishna, wouldn’t that make Radha as the Supreme Absolute above all other beings including Krishna?

          No. She is his life and soul, but still he remains the Supreme person. Such is Gaudiya Vaisnavism, the supreme person is worshiping “another.” But then again the two are one.

          I would be more comfortable with the notion if I had ever heard Srila Prabhupada or Srila Sridhar Maharaja express the concept in those terms.

          Such is your faith.

          Isn’t Krishna in the heart of Radha?
          Would that not make him the soul of Radha?

          Yes, certainly. Or you could say “two bodies, one soul.”

          Are we getting a little carried away here with Shakta sentiment and thus putting Shakti above Shaktiman?

          Jai Radhe!

          Is this idea that Radha is the soul of Krishna a little on the bhava side and not so much on the actual Vedic siddhanta?

          Not Vedic, but tattva-siddhanta. However our tattva is bhedabheda. Perhaps you could say she is and is not his soul.

          In bhava, anything can exist, but is bhava always expressive of the Paratattva?

          When speaking in terms of tattva there are different considerations than when speaking in terms of bhava.

          Or is bhava a perception of reality distorted by prema?

          I think it would be better to say that bhava ornaments reality.

        • CC, Ch6, V87: The feet of the bhakta is greater than equality to Krishna; the prema of the bhakta of Krishna is greater that is his own self.

          V61: He who becomes her maidservant and serves her feet, binds Krishna always with the quality of his love.

          Imagine her prema… And consider the superiority of that to a bhaktas prema. Her dasya as is our supposed dasya is described very well in this chapter. There is a scripture for you LivingEntity. We are shaktas… Even Krishnas boyfriends serve Radha indirectly by decorating his body to attract her glance.

  2. In reply to ‘Living Entity’s post:

    “I would be more comfortable with the notion if I had ever heard Srila Prabhupada or Srila Sridhar Maharaja express the concept in those terms.”

    Many times I personally heard Srila Sridhar Maharaj express this very concept. Once he told us that while on Parikrama in Vrindavan with Srila Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakur they observed a very famous Vaishnava king and his party doing dandabat parikram of Radha Kunda and Srila Guru Maharaj (Sridhar Maharaj)remarked to Prabhupad (Saraswati Thakur), “They also have so much regard for Srimati Radharani.” To which Saraswati Thakur replied, “Yes but their conception is just the opposite of ours. They revere and worship Srimati Radharani because She is the most beloved of Krishna whereas we worship Krishna because He is the most beloved of Srimati Radharani.” We also heard from Srila Guru Maharaj that Saraswati Thakur once said, “Vaishnava means who worships Vishnu. Those who worship Krishna are called ‘Karshnas’ and those who worship Srimati Radharani are called ‘Gaudiyas’.” And Srila Guru Maharaj also many times said “The Gaudiya Vaishnavas are the real ‘shaktas’. As far as Srimati Radharani being the ‘soul’ of Krishna this is of course a poetic description used by Sripad Tripurari Maharaj but is perfectly in line with the siddhnata of our sampradaya Acharyyas. Srila Sridhar Maharaj’s commentry on Brahma Gayatri Mantra expresses this concept perfectly.

  3. Thank you for sharing your insights of this verse. I have always liked this verse, but now I have a much fuller appreciation of it.

    My question may not be related to the subject of the article, but this statement –

    “However, his kaustaba mani (gem) that he wears over his heart and which represents all jivas suddenly shone brightly”

    I have read about the kaustaba gem in Srimad Bhagavatam, but never understood what it was or what it means.

    Would you please explain a little more about the kaustaba gem? What does the word kaustaba mean? Why does it represent all jivas? Why does Krishna wear it over His heart?

    • Devotees and scripture say different things about the kaustubha gem. The Bhagavata and Visnu Puranas identify it with Bhagavan himself and also with his effulgence (Brahman). In his Paramatma-sandarbha Sri Jiva writes that some say the jivas are rays of light emanating from the kaustubha. Krishna keeps it close to heart because all life is dear to him, he being its source.

      In the Ganoddecsa-dipika, it is said that this gem is one of the Krishna’s eternal symbols and is always with him. However, when he appeared in human form in this world, the jewel disappeared and somehow found its way into Kaliya’s storehouse. Then s they were giving their treasures to the Lord as tokens of their gratitude, Kaliya’ wives also gave him the Kaustubha. This jewel also appeared within time at the dawn of creation during the churning of the milk ocean.

      Then in the Ramanuja sampradaya the kaustubha is identified with Kulasekhara Alvar

  4. “The Absolute truth, Krishna (sambandha), Krishna-bhakti (abhideya), and prema-rupa (prayojana) can be realized by nama-sankirtana, which is the essence of all bliss (saba ananda-svarupa).”

    All glories to the super-excellent Holy Names! Jay Sri Sri Radha and Krsna! Jay Gaura-Nitai!

    Thank you for this saragrahi article. May this subject become the exclusive theme of all writing. There is nothing else in the three worlds, as Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur put it.

    Ys, Rdd

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