“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Shri Krishna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.” (Lord Chaitanya, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 7.128)
यारे देख, तारे कह ऽकृष्णऽ-उपदेश
आमार आज्ञाय गुरु हञा तारऽ एइ देश
yāre dekha, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa
āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra’ ei deśa
A child visits an established house of worship with their parents for the first time. They immediately notice the serious mood. No playing video games here. No running around, as if it were the backyard. At the same time, it is not like school. People are visiting voluntarily. There doesn’t seem to be torture due to forced attendance. No one is compelled to be here, and they seem to be at peace in the surroundings.
The child notices one of the statues on the altar. It is well-dressed and beaming a kind of radiance. Growing up in a household which accepted the same culture through the parampara system, they are mostly familiar with the principal objects of worship and important personalities, but here they are unaware.
The child asks the father to explain:
“Who is that? What is the significance? Why does He appear that way, dressed in beautiful clothes and with flowers all around?”
1. Beautiful golden color
The father responds with an explanation on the identity of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. God is one, but He appears differently to different people. The images are authorized; not based on imagination. At the end of the day God is a person, but He is so amazing that He can present a different visual based on the time and circumstance.
Mahaprabhu is known as the golden avatara. He is God in a specific incarnation, with a specific purpose. He is known as Chaitanya because He is the very essence of life. He is the greatest lord, or prabhu. In His youth He is known as Nimai since He was born under a neem tree.
While the more well-known incarnations of Krishna and Rama have a dark complexion, known as shyama, here the Supreme Lord is gaura. This is a beautiful golden hue. The look is very inviting and welcoming, which matches the nature of the person being viewed.
2. Arms upraised
In this deity of Mahaprabhu, the arms are upraised, and for a reason. He is something like the travelling preacher, though not utilizing the conventional method. Mahaprabhu can certainly speak on Vedanta philosophy and the science of self-realization to any person’s satisfaction, but He spreads the love of the Divine mainly through song and dance.
Shri Chaitanya is known for the sankirtana movement. This is the congregational chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. You can go it alone, if you want. You can retire from daily life and go live in a monastery and observe a vow of silence. You can retreat to a remote cave and practice yoga free of distractions.
Understanding that to take such steps is very rare, Mahaprabhu brings the love to others. He invites people to make advancement in spiritual life together. Sing the holy names. Dance in joy. Express how you really feel, your innermost desires.
3. Welcoming all to the joy of bhakti
The image of Mahaprabhu on the altar invites everyone to the joy of devotional life. This is known as bhakti, and it is always part of the individual. That property can never be removed; it is as integral as the living force itself.
While you may have to become a learned scholar to read and understand Sanskrit literature, the same is not true for the sankirtana movement. While you may have to become a renounced sannyasi in order to be respected as a teacher of society, you don’t have to change your position when chanting the holy names and following in the footsteps of the golden avatara.
Simply speak about Krishna, the all-attractive one, to whomever you meet and pass on the upadesha, instructions, found in sacred texts like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. Then you will be acting as guru under the authority of Mahaprabhu. He welcomes all into the eternal life of connection with the Supreme Lord, as every living being is already linked to Him.
Mahaprabhu most inviting is He,
Welcome vision on altar to see.
Where arms raised in the air,
Of beautiful golden hue rare.
Speaking on Vedanta ability so,
Preferred with sankirtana movement to go.
Where everyone together meeting,
As collective force maya defeating.
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