“Most of his contemporary biographers have mentioned certain anecdotes regarding Chaitanya which are simple records of his early miracles. It is said that when he was an infant in his mother’s arms he wept continually, and when the neighboring ladies cried Haribol he used to stop. Thus there was a continuation of the utterance of Haribol in the house, foreshewing the future mission of the hero.” (Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Prologue)
“Haribol!” This is the request of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the golden avatara of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appeared in the age of Kali to deliver the fallen souls, who were deep in the clutches of the illusory energy of God, maya. Committing errata after errata by considering the material energy to be superior, by worshiping for temporary rewards instead of seeking transcendence, and by denying the transcendental form of the Supreme, the people in Kali had become most unfortunate. Fortunately, in the month of Phalguna on the full moon night during the year of 1486, the rescuer of the fallen souls arrived in this realm, bringing with Him His closest associates, who would save the people through begging them to chant the holy names of the Lord.
“Do it for me.” This is the line used by those who really want to get something done in a circumstance where other forms of persuasion are less effective. This line works when there is mutual affection. If I have a friend who is particularly dear to me, they may not be friends with all of my other friends. In the hypothetical situation of a gathering I am having at my home, this friend may not want to attend. “I hate that other guy who is coming to your house,” they will tell me. “If he’s coming, then I’m not. Sorry, man.”
I can try different means of persuasion. “It’ll only be for a few hours. You won’t have to talk to him. You guys should just bury the hatchet, reconcile and become friends again.” If his animosity is so great, these words will not persuade him. If I lean on his affection for me, however, I might get somewhere. “Okay, I know you don’t like this person, but what about me? Can you do this for me? We’ve been friends for so long. I would feel awful if you didn’t come. Don’t let your quarrel with him take away from our relationship. It would mean so much to me if you could cast aside your differences for one night.”
When all else fails, this method has the greatest likelihood of succeeding. Now imagine if the situation is one where I’m persuading someone to do something that will be to their benefit. Perhaps the persuasion is for a child who doesn’t want to go to school. Or maybe it is for someone who is too afraid to take an exam, but that exam is what they need to pass in order to enter their respective field. In such cases, I will lean on my good relationship as leverage for getting that person, who is near and dear to me, to do what is ultimately for their own good.
This explains the situation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to some degree. The comparison is not completely accurate because what Mahaprabhu begs for others is that which will give them the highest benefit. He persuades others into following their constitutional occupation, which is devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Moreover, He is a friend to everyone. He has love for every single creature, whether they praise Him or curse Him. To those who are obstinate, He begs in the humblest manner. He persuades them through His own chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
“One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 17.31)
Lord Chaitanya is unlike any other avatara, or incarnation, of the Supreme Lord, for He takes the impetus to arouse people from their sleep in maya, or illusion. Other incarnations appear amongst devotees and use force to rid the world of evil influences. The devoted souls then have accounts of activities to remember in limitless ways. They also receive teachings to apply in their daily lives. As Lord Chaitanya, God accepts a humble guise, one that is more difficult to envy. In an apparently weaker position, He has more leverage in getting others to follow His instructions. He goes to “where the sinners are,” as the saying goes, instead of having the sinners come to Him. He inspires countless future generations to follow the same example, and they do so without receiving much fame or appreciation. Just like Lord Chaitanya, they know that if others say the names of Hari, or God, everyone will be supremely benefitted.
Lord Chaitanya accomplished this task even as an infant. Shortly after appearing from the womb of mother Shachi, He sometimes would cry on purpose. The well-wishing members of the community would then try every which way to pacify Him. But only one method would work. When they had failed with everything else, they chanted the names of Hari. Hearing that sound, the child, who was known as Nimai, immediately would stop crying. He gave them the secret to His heart. Without offering a single word of instruction, without delivering a single sermon or pointing them to a single book, He got them to follow the eternal instruction of “Haribol.”
On the occasion of Gaura Purnima, we remember Lord Chaitanya and the ocean of mercy He created, one that continues to flow to this very day. We say the names of Hari over and over again to please Him. And by pleasing Him, we bring the ultimate benefit to ourselves, finally breaking free of the illusion that has tricked us for too long into following so many erroneous paths.
As child, crying was His way,
To get others Hari to say.
Other methods work did not,
Only by hearing Hari crying to stop.
As adult following method the same,
Humbly begging others to chant holy name.
His ocean of mercy flows to this day,
Pleases Him when names of Hari we say.