Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Sanyas Leela

Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!



For Gaudiya Vaishnavas, the month of Magh signifies one of the most important milestones in Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s life, his acceptance of sanyas. In fact, it signifies the birth of the Naam Sankirtan movement itself.

At the end of His twenty-fourth year, in the bright fortnight of the month of Magh, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left Navadvipa and crossed the river Ganges at a place known as Nidayara-ghata. Once on the other side, he ran all the way to kantaka-nagara, or Katoya (Katwa), to the ashram of Sri Keshava Bharati a sanyasi, where he pleaded, negotiated and finally took ekadanda-sanyas according to the Sankarite system. Since Keshava Bharati belonged to the Sankarite sect, he could not initiate Chaitanya Mahaprabhu into the Vaisnava sanyasi order, whose members carry the tridanda.

Chandrasekhara Acharya assisted in the ceremonial procedure of the Lord's acceptance of sanyas. By the order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, kirtana was performed for the entire day, and at the end of the day the Lord shaved off His hair. On the next day He became a regular sanyasi, with one rod (ekadanda). From that day on, he was known as Sri Krishna Chaitanya Bharati.

He was given the name Krishna Chaitanya by Keshava Bharati because he aroused Krishna consciousness so powerfully in the heart of his own Guru. Krishna Chaitanya means one who is awakened to Krishna and therefore one who can awaken Krishna consciousness in others too.

Why did Nimai Pandit take sanyas? He had just gotten married a second time to a very young and virtuous girl and everybody was expecting him to settle down to the life of a mundane householder. He was already a well-established scholar and the leader of the Vaishnavas in Nadia; the night-long kirtana at Srivas Pandit’s house were a hot topic of discussion amongst the priestly class in the town.  This orthodox Brahmin group had on few occasions tried to make trouble for Mahaprabhu by complaining to the resident Kazi, the Muslim governer, that the kirtan activities were of an unorthodox and heretic nature and the Kazi had tried, unsuccessfully, to stop it. On the contrary, the Kazi had been converted by Mahaprabhu.

It was after this that some of the jealous and low-minded brahmins of Kulia picked a quarrel with Mahaprabhu and collected a party to oppose him. Nimai Pandit was naturally a soft-hearted person, though strong in his principles. He declared that party feelings and sectarianism were the two great enemies of progress and that as long as he should continue to be an inhabitant of Nadia belonging to a certain family, a certain caste, his mission would not meet with complete success. He then resolved to be a citizen of the world by cutting his connection with his particular family, caste and creed, and with this resolution he embraced the position of a sanyasi at Katwa, under the guidance of Keshava Bharati of that town, on the 24th year of his age. His mother and wife wept bitterly for his separation, but Sri Chaitanya empowered them to bear the pain of separation for the greater good.  He left the little world in his house for the unlimited spiritual world of Krishna.

In his Introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam, 'A short life sketch and teachings of Lord Chaitanya', Srila Prabhupada describes the events surrounding Lord Chaitanya's taking sanyas:

"The Lord had a very high estimation of the affection of the milkmaids of Vrindavan for Krishna, and in appreciation of their unalloyed service to the Lord, once Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu chanted the holy names of the gopis (cowherd girls) instead of the names of the Lord. At this time some of His students, who were also disciples, came to see Him, and when they saw that the Lord was chanting the names of the gopis, they were astonished. Out of sheer foolishness they asked the Lord why He was chanting the names of the gopis and advised Him to chant the name of Krishna. The Lord, who was in ecstasy, was thus disturbed by these foolish students. He chastised them and chased them away. The students were almost the same age as the Lord, and thus they wrongly thought of the Lord as one of their peers. They held a meeting and resolved that they would attack the Lord if He dared to punish them again in such a manner. This incident provoked some malicious talk about Nimai Pandit’s strange trances on the part of the general public.

When the Lord became aware of this, He began to consider the various types of men found in society. He noted that especially the students, professors, karma kandis,  yogis, non-devotees and different types of atheists were all opposed to the devotional service of the Lord. "My mission is to deliver all the fallen souls of this age," He thought, "but if they commit offenses against Me, thinking Me to be an ordinary man, they will be doomed. If they are to begin their life of spiritual realization, they must some way or another offer obeisance unto Me." Thus the Lord decided to accept the renounced order of life (sanyas) because people in general were inclined to offer respects to a sanyasi.

Five hundred years ago the condition of society was not as degraded as it is today. At that time people would show respect to a sanyasi, and the sanyasi was rigid in following the rules and regulations of the renounced order of life. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu decided to accept the order and become an ideal sanyasi so that the general populace would heed his instructions and be more receptive to his philosophy.

While He was contemplating taking sanyas, it so happened that Keshava Bharati, a sanyasi and resident of Katwa (in Bengal), visited Navadvipa and was invited to dine at Nimai Pandit’s home. When Keshava Bharati came to his house, the Lord asked him to award Him the sanyas order of life. This was a matter of formality. The sanyas order is to be accepted from another sanyasi. Although the Lord was independent in all respects, still, to keep up the formalities of the sastras, He accepted the sanyas order from Keshava Bharati, although Keshava Bharati was not in the Vaisnava-sampradaya (school).

After consulting with the monk, Nimai Pandit left Navadvipa for Katwa to formally be initiated in the sanyas order of life. He was accompanied by Nityananda Prabhu, Chandrasekhara Acharya and Mukunda Datta. These three assisted him in the procedural formalities of the ceremony. The incident of the Lord's accepting the sanyas order is very elaborately described in the Chaitanya-bhagavata by Srila Vrindavan dasa Thakura.

Thus at the end of his 24th year the Lord accepted the sanyas order of life in the month of Magha on the full moon day. After accepting this order he became a full-fledged preacher of the Bhagavata-dharma. Although he was doing the same preaching work in his householder life, when he experienced some obstacles he sacrificed even the comfort of his home life for the sake of the fallen souls.

In his householder life his main assistants were Srila Advaita Prabhu and Srila Srivasa Thakura, but after He accepted the sanyas his chief assistants became Srila Nityananda Prabhu, who was deputed to preach specifically in Bengal, and the six Gosvamis (Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami), headed by Srila Rupa and Sanatana, who were deputed to go to Vrindavan to excavate the original places of Lord Krishna’s pastimes. The present city of Vrindavan and the importance of Vrajabhumi were thus disclosed by the will of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

After accepting sanyas Mahaprabhu at once wanted to start for Vrindavan. For three continuous days He traveled in the Radha-desa (places where the Ganges does not flow). He was in full ecstasy over the idea of going to Vrindavan. However, Nityananda Prabhu diverted His path and brought him instead to the house of Advaita Acharya in Santipura.

The Lord stayed at Sri Advaita Prabhu's house for a few days and knowing well that the Lord was leaving His home and hearth for good, Sri Advaita Prabhu sent His men to Navadvipa to bring mother Saci to have a last meeting with her son. His mother met Him at the house of Advaita Prabhu, and when she saw her son in the garb of a monk, she broke down. By way of compromise, she requested her son to make his headquarters in Puri so that she would easily be able to get information about Him. The Lord granted this last desire of His beloved mother. After this incident the Lord started for Puri, leaving all the residents of Navadvipa in an ocean of lamentation over His separation."

Just as Sri Krishna chose to leave his happy playful life in Vrindavan to go to Mathura and fulfill the other more serious agenda of His divine descent, similarly Sri Chaitanya too ended his comfortable and happy family life in order to take on a more serious responsibility – that of delivering the most fallen of men by propounding a new theosophy based on the Holy Name of God.

Nitai-Gaur Hari Bol !!

Jai Shri Radhey !

Jai Gurudev !