Lord Chaitanya – The Unparalleled Social Reformer

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Harinama Sankirtana

During the period between the 15th and 17th centuries, the bhakti movement in India reached its zenith, sweeping over east and north India. Among the exponents of the bhakti movement, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is recognised as one of the most influential saints and social reformers.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than Lord Krishna, who advented Himself, in the year 1486, at Mayapur in Navadvipa in the state of West Bengal. His mission was to spread the universal message of loving devotion to God by initiating Harinama Sankirtana, the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord. His movement provided an equal opportunity of spiritual elevation for everyone without distinction of religion, caste, creed, colour, occupation or gender. After taking sannyasa, Lord Chaitanya travelled all over India preaching the Bhagavata-dharma.

Here are some pastimes of Lord Chaitanya, exemplifying social reformation brought about by His bhakti movement.

The First Civil Disobedience Movement 

Some of the Brahmanas, jealous of Lord Chaitanya’s popularity, complained about Him to Chand Kazi, the Muslim magistrate at Navadvipa. Chand Kazi then warned the Lord’s followers not to chant loudly the name of Hari. In protest of this order, Lord Chaitanya’s followers went on with their sankirtana party as usual as instructed by the Lord. The magistrate then sent constables who interrupted a sankirtana and broke some mridangas. Upon hearing of this incident, Lord Chaitanya organized a procession of one lakh men with thousands of mridangas and karatalas, which passed over the roads of Navadvipa in defiance of the Kazi’s order and finally reached Kazi’s house.

Chaitanya-mahaprabhu-embraces-Rupa- Gosvami-and-Sanatana-Gosvami

Thereafter Lord Chaitanya and Chand Kazi, both of whom were learned scholars, began a long discussion on the Koran and Hindu Shastras. Finally, the Lord convinced the Kazi of the importance of sankirtana in Kali-yuga. The Kazi became the Lord’s followers. He then declared that no one should hinder the sankirtana movement of the Lord, and left this order in his will for the sake of progeny.

The Most Sinful turn into Vaishnavas

Lord Chaitanya’s mission was to deliver even the most fallen souls by making them give up their imLord Chaitanya delivers Jagai and Madhaimoral habits and take up chanting the names of the Lord. There were two brothers, Jagai and Madhai, who were born in a respectable brahmana family. But because of low association, they had become drunkards, meat-eaters, woman-hunters, dacoits and sinners of all description.

Once these two brothers physically attacked Sri Nityananda Prabhu, (a close associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) who was requesting them to chant the holy names of Krishna. Lord Chaitanya was ready to punish these sinners, but Nityananda Prabhu implored Him to forgive them. Both the brothers fell down at the feet of Lord Chaitanya and begged His pardon. The Lord agreed to accept them on the condition that they henceforward completely give up all their sinful activities. Both the brothers promised to do so and soon they became Vaishnavas, taking shelter of the Lord.

Sakara Mallika and Dabira Khasa become Celebrated Gosvamis

Sakara Mallika and Dabira Khasa, the two brothers, were very influential ministers in the then Mohammedan government of Nawab Hussain Shah in Bengal. Originally, these two brothers belonged to the highly respectable brahmana family. Somehow they had accepted ministership under the Muslim ruler and adopted a Muslim way of life. Their names were also changed to Dabira Khasa and Sakara Mallika. Because of their accepting Mohammedan rulers’ service, they were rejected by the Hindu community.

When Lord Chaitanya started His sankirtan movement, both the brothers were captivated by Him. They resigned from their service to take complete shelter of the Lord. Lord Chaitanya was pleased with the humility of the brothers and He accepted them as His associates, considering their keen interest in spirituality and mood of surrender. He instructed them at length in the science of devotional service. Both of them became great devotees and wrote many invaluable literatures on the Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. They were elevated to the position of Gosvamis by Lord Chaitanya.

Sanatana-Gosvami-and-Rupa-Gosvami

Thus Sakara Mallika and Dabira Khasa became Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami, among the six celebrated Goswamis of Vrindavana.

Haridasa Thakura – The Namacharya

Lord Chaitanya with Srila Haridasa ThakuraHaridasa Thakura, born in a Muslim family, was one of Lord Chaitanya’s principal associates. He chanted 3,00,000 of holy names daily. Seeing the exalted devotion of Haridasa Thakura, Lord Chaitanya gave him the title Namacharya – ‘The authority of the holy name’.

While residing at Puri, Haridasa Thakura did not enter the temple, considering himself born of a Muslim family. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave him a place at a house and used to send him prasadam and also He used to come and see him daily. And when Haridasa Thakura left his body, the Lord personally took the body and cremated on the bank of the sea and performed the funeral ceremony.

In Every Town and Village…

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu predicted:

pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma

“In every town and village on this earth, the glories of My name will be chanted.”

Srila Prabhupada, the current Acharya in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Parampara originating from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, took a journey to the West in fulfillment of this prediction. He spread the teachings of Lord Chaitanya and distributed the holy name throughout the world.

Following in Lord Chaitanya’s footsteps, Srila Prabhupada instructed his disciples to abstain from meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex and gambling. He even gave brahmana initiation to his disciples considering only their qualifications and activities, who are otherwise considered mlecchas and not eligible for the initiation, as per the Vedic literature. srila-prabhupada-doing-harinam-kirtana

The large worldwide community created by Srila Prabhupada, of over ten thousand disciples and many thousands of followers, leading a disciplined life of good conduct and culture, combined with Krishna consciousness, made an immense contribution to social reformation.

Undoubtedly, the day is not far when everyone in the world will unite under one culture of Krishna consciousness through the common platform of Lord Chaitanya’s Harinama sankirtana. Only this can save the world from cultural and religious degradation.