Though Lord Caitanya is known as Krsna's hidden incarnation, His biographers have preserved accounts of His displays of divinity.
Lord Caitanya, unlike ordinary human beings, was not conceived in His mother's womb by seminal discharge. Rather, by His own free will, twelve months before His advent He miraculously entered His father's heart; from there He transferred Himself to His mother's womb, just as He had done about 4,500 years earlier when He appeared as Lord Krsna . And on February 18, 1486, in Mayapur, West Bengal , India , during a full-moon eclipse , Lord Caitanya appeared in this world.
He was named Visvambhara, which means, "one who protects and maintains the universe." But He was also nicknamed Nimai and Gauranga- Nimai, because He was born under a neem tree, and Gauranga (which means "golden limbs") because He had a golden complexion. The name Krsna Caitanya ("all -attractive living force") was awarded to Him when He became a renunciant monk at age twenty-four.
Lord Caitanya's horoscope clearly showed that He would be an intellectual genius, an amazing teacher of religion , and a world savior. And, according to Vedic astrology, the unique markings on His feet-flag, conch , disc, fish , thunderbolt-doubtlessly signified that He was an incarnation of God. These markings had previously been visible on Lord Krsna's feet. Besides, Lord Caitanya's ent ire form-His nose, arms, chin, eyes, knees, skin , and so on -like Lord Krsna's, l showed all thirty-two symptoms of a great or divine personality.
TRICKING ADULTS INTO CHANTING
Even as a baby, the Lord made it clear that His mission would be to help people become God conscious. For example, He would often cry loudly, but when His mother's friends would begin chanting God's names and clapping, He would stop crying and begin smiling. But when they would think He was fully pacified and stop chanting, He would again begin crying. So they would again chant God's names, and He would again stop crying and begin smiling. That was His cute way of tricking them into chanting God's holy names throughout the day and blessing them with divine bliss. After a while, this sacred activity became a regular fun-filled game that brought laughter, delight, and wonder to those affectionate ladies.
WHY THE LORD HIDES HIS IDENTITY
Even to His parents, who were great devotees of God, Lord Caitanya rarely revealed who He was. He wanted to bless them with a relationship with Him full of informality and familiarity rather than awe and reverence. This closer relationship gives God more pleasure and satisfaction because it is more intimate and affectionate. However, He reserves such closeness for His extremely surrendered and devoted servants.
Thus Lord Caitanya's parents did not regard Him as God but rather as their little, dependent, lovable child. They considered themselves His protectors and caretakers, even though He protects and cares for the entire world. As we will soon see, though the Lord enjoys playing the part of a helpless, innocent toddler, He can, when He so wishes, instantly reveal His divine nature and power.
BAFFLING THE THIEVES
One day Lord Caitanya, wearing golden ornaments, was wandering a lone near His home. Two thieves ambled into the area and spotted the child. Attracted by His glistening ornaments, they decided to steal them . Since there were people on the street, the thieves resolved to abduct the boy in a way that would appear as if they were playing with Him.
One of the thieves asked, "Son, where have you been all this time?"
And the other thief said, "Come on, son, let's go home."
The Lord smiled and said, "Yes, let's go home."
One of the thieves placed the Lord on his shoulders, and the other gave Him some candy. Then they walked toward their own house, where they hoped to steal the ornaments and kill the child.
After the thieves had gone some distance from the Lord's neighbourhood, the Lord's family members realized He was not near the house. Extremely anxious, they began searching for Him and calling, "Nimai! Nimai!" When they couldn't find Him, they became frantic. They felt as if their very life had been stolen away.
As the thieves carried the Lord, something mystical happened. The Lord playfully clouded their minds. First, He made them walk on the wrong path, which led back to the Lord's house. Then, when they reached His house, they thought they were at their own house.
"Okay, son," one of the thieves said, "we're home."
"Yes, we are," replied the Lord. "So you can put me down.'!
As the thief lowered the Lord to the ground, the Lord saw His family members in the distance desperately searching and calling out for Him. He ran away to His father, who picked Him up and hugged Him. Seeing Him, all the family members felt immensely relieved and blissful.
Then, by the Lord's will, the thieves suddenly realized they weren't at their home at all. Indeed, they were right where they had starred. How, they wondered, had they become so thoroughly deluded? Seeing the boy's family members coming and fearing arrest, they fled from the area as fast as they could.
REVEALING HIS DIVINE FORM
One day an itinerant pious brahmana, who was on pilgrimage and always chanting Krsna's name, wandered near Lord Caitanya's house. When the Lord's father, Jagannatha Misra, saw this effulgent devotee, he invited him in and properly honoured him.
Jagannatha Misra asked, "Would it be all right if I arranged for you to cook?"
"As you wish," replied the holy man.
Jagannatha Misra brought him a variety of foodstuffs, and the holy man proceeded to happily cook them. When the food was ready, the brahmana began offering it to the household Deity of Lord Krsna. Just then , Lord Caitanya, the child, entered the room. Smiling at the brahmana, He took a handful of the rice and ate it.
"Oh, no !" cried the brahmana. "This restless boy has stolen Krsna's food!"
Since food is supposed to be offered first to Lord Krsna, the child, by eating it first , had apparently made it unfit for Krsna.
Jagannatha Misra entered the room and noted his son's offense. Angry and embarrassed, he wanted to strike his son to teach Him a lesson . But the brahmana checked him, because he understood the mischievous nature of children. Then Saci Devi, the Lord's mother, to prevent her son from further stealing, carried Him to a neighbour's house and watched Him carefully.
Jagannatha Misra brought more foodstuffs for the brahmana, who was happy to cook again. When the meal was ready, the holy man again began to offer it to Lord Krsna.
Meanwhile, at the neighbour's house, Lord Caitanya mystically caused everyone there to forget about Him. Then He slid out of the house and returned home. Seeing the brahmana offering the food to Lord Krsna, the child smiled at him, took a handful of rice, and began eating it.
"Oh, no!" shouted the brahmana.
When Jagannatha Misra saw what his son had again done, he was determined to strike Him. But the brahmana stopped him and philosophically opined, "I guess, today it's not my destiny to eat food that Lord Krsna has eaten."
The family members persuaded the brahmana to cook again. But to make certain the Lord would not again interfere with the offering rite, they confined Him to His room. His father not only guarded the door, but also bolted it from the outside.
When the devotee finished cooking, he again offered the meal to Lord Krsna. At that moment, Lord Caitanya caused everyone else in the house to fall asleep. Then He mystically entered the kitchen and appeared beside the food offering.
Seeing Him, the holy man exclaimed, "Oh, no !"
But the Lord replied, "As you were offering the food, you asked Me to come and eat it. So I have come. You always want to see Me, so now I'm revealing Myself to you."
Suddenly the child manifested Himself as the youthful Lord Krsna in a wonderful eight-armed formholding a disk, a club, a conch shell, and a lotus flower in four hands, holding fresh butter in one hand, putting butter in His mouth with another hand, and playing the flute with His remaining two hands. He further manifested the beautiful Vrndavana forest-the place of His most intimate pastimes-with its lovely birds, trees, milkmaids, and cowherds. Seeing all this, the brahmana swooned in ecstasy. When the Lord touched him, he regained consciousness.
Lord Caitanya said , "0 brahmana, you've been My servant for many births. When I appeared as Krsna in Nanda's h ome, I revealed this same form to you and ate the food you offered Me. But you don't remember this. Birth after birth you've been My servant. Persons who are not My servant cannot see My form. What I have told you is a secret. Please don't tell anyone. If you reveal it during My present incarnation, I'll destroy you. In this incarnation, I will begin the saitkirtana movement-the congregational chanting of Krsna's holy names. In every country I will preach sankirtana and initiate pure loving devotional service in every home."
Having given comfort and mercy to the brahmana, Lord Caitanya ate the offering, returned to His room, reassumed His child form, and lay down on His bed. Everyone else in the house remained asleep.
The brahmana then ate the Lord's remnants, wept, danced, sang, laughed and cried out, "Victory to Krsna!"
This woke up everyone. When they all came and saw the brahmana eating peacefully, they became happy. The brahmana wanted to reveal that Lord Caitanya was Lord Krsna. But remembering the Lord's dreadful warning, he restrained himself.
Amala Bhakta Dasa, well-known for his audio recordings of Krsna conscious books, is the author of The Life of Tulasi Devi, Mystical Stories from the Mahabharata, and Mystical Stories from the Srimad-bhagavatam.