The Gift of Sri Chaitanya PDF Print E-mail

The Gift of Sri Chaitanya.

From SREE SAJJANA-TOSHANI
THE HARMONIST
SEPTEMBER, 1928

Under the auspices of the Gaudiya Math a huge meeting was held in the Albert Hall, Calcutta, on Sunday the 19th August. In it assembled people representing different races and holding different religious views, namely the Bengalee, the Mahratti, the Marwari, the Gujrata, the Madrasi, the Hindu, the Mahomedan, the Parsee etc.

Pandit Sreepad Sundarananda Vidyavinode B.A., the Editor of the Gaudiya, delivered his third and last lecture on the above subject. The meeting was a grand success. Never before a religious discussion attracted such a large audience, and never before a lecture was attended with such rapt attention. The eloquence and the lucid exposition of the subject-matter kept the audience spell-bound for more than three hours.

The famous leader Srijukta Pandit Shyamsundar Chakravarty was elected president. The following notabilities were among the audience — Mr. W.C. Banerjee, Babu Satish Chandra Bose, Babu Haridas Halder, Babu Sris Chandra Vidyaratna, Babu Dinanath Dutta, Prof. Surendra Nath Bhattacharya, Babu Charu Chandra Bose, Mr S. C. Ray, Mr. J. B. Dutta, Babu Narendra nath Seth, Babu Pulin Behari Halder, Mr Abdulla Jayraj, Mr. I. N. Kundanji.

After the two opening kirtans had been over, the lecturer rose amidst loud acclamations to speak. The substance of his speech is as follows.

The gift of Sri Chaitanya, said the speaker, in one word means the gift of freedom. It is Chaitanya Deva who realised it and taught one and all how to seek it. The word ‘swadhinata’ is compounded of two words ‘swa’ and ‘adhinata’. This ‘swa’ means ‘atma’ and ‘adhinata’ means ‘subjection’. ‘Swadhinata’ then means subjection to Atma. This Atma manifests Himself as two entities, of which one is Paramatma or the whole and the other the Jivatma, the part. This part-atma is the Jiva. They being two are yet one. Their relative position is a matter of realisation and not of speculation. They have their own characteristics. The part is ever subject to the whole. Subjection is its freedom. So long as a jiva owns his Lord, he is free. This is his true and perfect freedom. This is natural condition.

In matter there is no freedom. Jivas have not embraced this mundane life out of their own sweet will, but have been compelled to accept it under punishment. This world is a prison-house. The freedom that we seek within the limits of this prison is not freedom. It is merely changing of rooms. Abandonment of one subjection leads us to a greater subjection. We always remain dependent. But one who owns his allegiance to his Lord—in the language of Upanishad--enjoys freedom. When Yama offered Nachiketa the sovereignty of the world, the latter rejected it, and prayed for the service of his Lord. One was bondage and the other was freedom. He knew the difference between what appears to be good and what is really good.

Sri Chaitanya Deva taught the world the easiest means of achieving this freedom. The means which he suggested are not different to the end. Krishna-Kirtan is His means and Krishna-Kirtan is His end; or in other words, service is His end and service is His means. He has eschewed all other means to regain freedom, as imperfect and insufficient. Weapons are not to be used and blood is not to be shed to gain this freedom. Loving you gain love and serving you gain service. Krishna-Kirtan is this love. In it we get full manifestation of freedom. This is His gift—the greatest of all gifts that were hitherto promised by any.

Soon after the disappearance of Sri Chaitanya Deva Bengal again sank into rank materialism. In abuse of this freedom people began to misinterpret His message. Misinterpretation led to misconception. Things went on in this way till the last vestige of truth was lost. Now there is no semblance of truth in what His so-called followers practise and preach. None of them now know the difference between love and lust, guidance from knowledge and guidance from blood, religion and profession, following and imitating, physical changes due to feeling and those due to motive. Thirteen evil doctrines such as ‘aul’, ‘boul’, ‘sahajia’ etc. have come to be incorporated with the doctrine of Sri Chaitanya. The once sacred relation between the preceptor and the disciple has come to be confounded with that between a master and a servant. This is nothing but a slave industry as was once prevalent in the western countries.

The followers of these sects say what Sri Chaitanya never said, and do what He never did. Corrupt practices, ignorance, deception, and, above all, irrationality has completely arrested the current of Chaitanya’s teaching.

Soon after the disappearance of Sri Chaitanya six Goswamis stepped into His place and preached His doctrine with unabated zeal. After them came Srinibash Acharya, Narottam Thakur, Shyamananda and Rashikananda who, under the leadership of Srijiba Goswami, began to preach this doctrine of freedom in Bengal and Orissa. This however did not prevent speculation which favoured admittance of alloy into the doctrine. Adwaitacharya could foresee this adulteration and gave a hint to Mahaprabhu in the form of a riddle—‘Rice did not sell in the market’. The disappearance of this band of preachers, namely, Srinibas, Narottam, Shyamananda, Ganganarian Chakravarty, Ram Krishnacharya and Rasikananda made adulteration complete. The last vestige of His doctrine was lost sight of. That is a dark era in the history of Vaisnava religion in Bengal.

At the time when Raja Rammohan Ray laid his hand on Hindu philosophy, there were none among the Vaisnavas who could give him any information about this doctrine. Vaishnavism then came to be taunted as the religion of the women, the weak and the wicked. The learned men from the west noticed this picture of Vaisnavism in all its nakedness and dared cast many severe sarcastic reflections on it.

This state of things continued for a very long time, when Thakur Bhaktivinode made his appearance on the scene. With great vigour and energy he began to preach this doctrine of freedom. He wrote many books and made many speeches, and himself followed it with great eagerness and sincerity. This was a landmark in the history of Vaisnavism in Bengal. By preaching the doctrine of Sri Chaitanya he showed that Vaisnavism is for the weak to become strong, and for the bound to become free.

Following the leadership of this Acharya the devotee of the Gaudiya Math have undertaken to preach the gospel of freedom from village to village and from door to door. The determination that characterises their every effort, and the noble zeal that they display for the cause fill my heart with pride and make me declare that it will soon be accepted as the universal religion. The flood of love will soon inundate the hearts of the admiring world, and, fulfil the prophecy of Sri Chaitanya Deva which runs as follows—

In all the village, that are on the earth
Will My Name be preached.
In India let those who are born as men,
Prove life worth the name doing others highest good.