Second Theme: The Master of Devotion, Caitanya Mahaprabhu

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In the first two sections, Jiva Gosvami describes Krishna Caitanya, stating that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. To demonstrate this, he first uses a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam and then his own.


The verse of the Bhagavatam is the famous krishnavarnam tvisa krishnam, recited by the sage Karabhajana in Nimi (11.5.32). Srila Prabhupada refers to this verse in his writings hundreds of times, often even delivering it in public lectures. Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, in his Caitanya Caritamrita, repeats it five times. We inform you in full:

krishna-varnam tvisakrishnam


yajnaih sankirtana-prayair

yajanti hi sumedhasah

Srila Prabhupada translates it this way:

“In the age of Kali, intelligent people practice sankirtana to worship the divine incarnation who constantly recites the name of Krishna. Although His physical color is not dark, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, confidential weapons and companions.”


Here Jiva Gosvami points out not only the divinity of Caitanya, but also the fundamental importance of sankirtana, which is both Yuga-dharma and Sanatana-dharma. Therefore, those who wish to be freed from the pains of temporary and illusory material existence should enthusiastically recite the holy names and deeds of Krsna. The scriptures confirm:


“Living beings who are imprisoned in the complicated entanglements of birth and death can immediately free themselves by chanting, even unconsciously, the holy name of Krsna, which is feared even by fear personified.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.14)

“Who, desiring to be freed from the vices of the age of discord, would not want to hear the virtuous glories of the Lord?” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.16)


There are numerous verses of the First Canto of the Bhagavatam that place the greatest emphasis on the importance of hearing and chanting (or reciting) the name and deeds of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna.


The commentators on the Tattva-sandarbha, the first of them being Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana, mention the compound krishnavarnam (part of the verse 11.5.32 of the Bhagavatam, which we are studying). The natural translation would say “dark in color,” thus indicating the personality of Krishna. But if we accept this version, the full meaning of the verse would become incomprehensible. In fact, the following expression suggests akrishnam, i.e., not obscure. But Krishna is dark-skinned. Furthermore, the verse goes on to say yajnaih sankirtana-prayair, indicating that in Kali-yuga, He constantly chants the names of the Lord. But Kṛṣṇa appears in Dvapara-yuga and does not do these things, therefore who practices sankirtana together with weapons, companions, etc. (sangopangastra-parsadam)? The Gosvami Maharaja says that krishna-varnam means Lord Caitanya.


It is hypothesized that this verse may contain the prediction of another avatar of Krishna in Kali-yuga. But Jiva Gosvami rejects this idea based on the Bhagavata Purana itself (10.8.13), in which he says:

“At other times Krishna appears in bodies of different colors, white, red and yellow; In this yuga He appeared in dark color.”

In the verse under analysis we find the word idanim, which means “now”, in this age, that is, in Dvapara-yuga, when the Bhagavata Purana was written. In confirmation of what has been said, we note that there is no incarnation of Krsna in Kali-yuga that has a dark physical color.


The avatar of Satya-yuga was white and that of Treta-yuga red; by an elementary process of elimination, that of Kali-yuga should be golden in color, the physical color of Lord Caitanya. On the basis of this and other Vedic evidence, Sri Jiva does not accept the idea that another avatar of Krishna with a dark complexion can enter Kali-yuga. The pita-avatara is none other than Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.


Including the term akrishnam, the krishna-varnam dilemma remains unresolved. Sri Jiva explains this by translating it as “syllable”, thus giving it the meaning of “one whose name contains the two syllables ‘kr’ and ‘sna'”. And it is well known that the full name of Caitanya is Krishna Caitanya. But krishna-varnam can also mean “one who spreads Krishna’s fame,” in addition to having other meanings, all correct from all points of view.


Baladeva Vidyabhusana adds that krishna-varnam, however, could very well be translated as “dark colored” in the sense of “darkness within”, since Lord Caitanya is Krishna externally assuming the golden color of Srimati Radharani. Therefore, Caitanya Mahaprabhu is “dark in His most secretive nature”.


This explanation of the Acarya Baladeva also perfects the combination with the term akrishnam that follows. In fact, how can a person be “dark colored” (krishna-varnam) and “light colored” (akrishnam) at the same time? The explanation is that Lord Caitanya is dark on the inside (as is Krishna) and light on the outside (assumes the complexion and feelings of Srimati Radharani). Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, in his commentary on the Bhagavatam, says that the color of Caitanya Mahaprabhu can be described in terms of indranilamani, similar to that of molten gold.


Jiva Gosvami goes on to provide evidence that Karabhajana’s words were intended to predict the descent of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. The expression sangopangastra-parsadam is composed of ‘anga’, parts of the person, ‘upanga’, ornaments, ‘astra’, weapons and ‘parsadam’, companions and servants. This description does not seem to fit perfectly with Caitanya Mahaprabhu, however, the Gosvami (supported by Baladeva Vidyabhusana) says that the ‘anga’ are Nityananda and Advaita (famous incarnations of Maha-visnu and Balarama); the ‘upanga’ are His devotees, like Srivasa; ‘astra’ are the names of Krishna, effective in destroying ignorance; the ‘parsadam’ are devotees like Gadadhara and many other fortunate companions who have lived the Gaura-lilas with Him. Of course, while in other ages the Lord has sometimes used weapons to reaffirm religious principles by physically removing disturbing elements, in Kali-yuga Sri Caitanya uses only the name of Krishna to destroy “the darkness born of ignorance”.


But the expression that removes any doubt about the identity of the avatara of the age of Kali is precisely sankirtana-prayair, the joy of gathering with other devotees in large groups to chant fervent devotional prayers to Krishna. This was the fundamental teaching of Sri Gauranga, of which he gave the best possible example. Therefore, there is no doubt that the divine personality that Karabhajana spoke of is Lord Caitanya. Intelligent people (sumedhasah) will come to Him for relief from the pains and uncertainties of material existence, which is a pale shadow of true reality.


In the second verse, Sri Jiva does nothing but repeat in his own words what has just been said. The verse says:

“In Kali-yuga, we take refuge in Krishna Caitanya through sankirtana, in the One who is dark inside and light outside. The deeper aspects of His personality (anga) reveal His divine nature.”




This is a section of the book “Tattva Sandarbha”, in English.

To buy the complete book, click above


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