Though Lord Caitanya is known as Krsna's hidden incarnation, His biographers have preserved accounts of His displays of divinity.
This is a second in series of articles on the wonderful activities and childhood pastimes of Lord Caitanya.
DEFEATING THE PANDITA
Lord Caitanya was a Sanskrit prodigy and began teaching when He was only eleven years of age. Struck with wonder by His intellectual precocity, hundreds of students studied under Him. He became known as the greatest savant of Sanskrit grammatical literature, of the nyaya system of philosophy, and of the Vedic scriptural knowledge. Whoever challenged Him to a debate in learning was always sorely defeated.
One evening while Lord Caitanya was sitting on the bank of the Ganges River with some of His students, the famous Kesava Kasmiri approached Him. He had travelled around the country to various learning centres, debated numerous Sanskrit experts, and defeated everyone of them. The undisputed world champion, he was known as Digvijayi ("the conqueror of everyone in all directions") . Kesava Kasmiri spoke in a proud, patronizing way, minimizing the scholarly accomplishments of the Lord. Unaffected by such arrogance, Lord Caitanya humbly asked the scholar to show his poetic expertise by instantly composing original Sanskrit verses glorifying the Ganges River.
The goddess of learning, Sarasvati, had blessed Kesava Kasmiri, her devotee, to always remain invincible in debates. Thus, quite confident of his intellectu al prowess, he quickly composed and recited one hundred verses. Lord Caitanya, having instantly memorized each of them, repeated the sixty-fourth verse and asked the Digvijayi to explain it.
Kesava Kasmiri, astonished by the Lord's feat of memory, elucidated on the verse. The Lord next asked him to cite its virtues and faults. But the Digvijayi was reluctant because he felt that such subject matter was well beyond the range of Lord Caitanya's poetic knowledge.
But the Lord said, "I can find in this verse many faults and many virtues."
He then critiqued it, noting five virtues and five faults. The faults concerned redundancy, improper composition, and contradictory meanings. The virtues related to purpose, analogy, and alliteration. The Lord said that His analysis of the verse was based only on the obvious.
"But if we consider it in detail,'' He said , "we will find unlimited faults."
The Digvijayi was surprised and impressed by the Lord's comments. But when he tried to respond to them, he found himself unable to speak. His pride humbled and his confidence shaken , he felt helpless and defeated. Filled with insecurity, he wondered whether he had offended Goddess Sarasvati, and whether such an offense had led to this debacle.
That night Kesava Kasmiri worshiped the goddess. Later, she appeared in a dream and informed him that Nimai Pandita was none other than the Lord Himself.
The next morning the poet hastened to Lord Caitanya and surrendered at His feet. In return, the Lord bestowed His mercy on Him, gave him spiritual guidance and instruction, and freed him from the bondage to material attachment.
The poet thereafter renounced his pomp and position and became a simple, humble servant of the Lord.
PUNISHING AN OFFENDER
Lord Caitanya at first engaged in sankirtana with His intimate devotees at Srivasa Thakura's house. Only the most sincere devotees were admitted in side. The envious- the scoffers and the scorners-had to stay outside. Nonetheless, they could hear the tumultuous singing and music. Consequently, out of vengeance, Gopala Capala, a brahmana, tried to compromise the distinguished reputation of Srivasa Thakura, who was learned in all the scriptures.
One night Gopala placed the worship paraphernalia of Goddess Durga outside Srivasa Thakura's door-a red flower, a plantain leaf, a pot of wine, and reddish sandalwood paste-so that he might appear to passersby to be her devotee instead of Lord Krsna's. Krsna devotees do not eat meat, fish, or eggs or imbibe any kind of intoxicants. But the Durga worshippers are often meat-eaters and winedrinkers. Thus Gopala Capala tried to make Srivasa Thakura appear like a hypocrite-outwardly noble but secretly ignoble.
Lord Caitanya did not appreciate this offense against His devotee and decided to punish the offender. So, three days later, He arranged for Gopala Capala to contract leprosy, in which blood oozed from sores all over his body. Moreover, as germs and insects bit him everywhere, he felt unbearable pain. He then went to Lord Caitanya and asked Him to save him from his illness.
"You sinful person!" the Lord angrily replied. "Not only will I not save you, but you will be bitten by these germs for millions of years! For your offense, you will have to fall down into hellish life for ten million births."
Some years later, when Lord Caitanya visited the town where Gopala Capala was still suffering, Gopala took shelter of the Lord and begged for His grace.
Changing His mood, the Lord advised Gopala Capala, "First, go to Srivasa Thakura and beg for his mercy. If he gives it to you and you don't commit such sins again, you will be freed from your sinful reactions."
Gopala Capala followed this instruction, and Srivasa Thakura forgave and blessed him, freeing him of his inconsolable misery.
Thus we can see how caring and protective the Lord is of His devotees and how angry and retributive He can be towards mischievous non-devotees. Yet when these nondevotees become genuinely repentant, He can become equally forgiving and kind. The Lord sees all beings as His children but treats each according to his or her behavior.
REVEALING HIS UNIVERSAL FORM
One day Advaita Acarya, an intimate devotee of Lord Caitanya, asked the Lord to reveal to him the universal form He had kindly shown to Arjuna, as described in the Eleventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita. Lord Caitanya agreed and showed him that magnificent form. Advaita saw in the body of the Lord everything in existence- the sun, moon , planets, oceans, rivers, gods, human beings, demons-a wondrous, brilliant, unlimited, all -expanding form. It is said that if hundreds of thousands of suns were to rise at once into the sky, their radiance might resemble the effulgence of the Lord in that universal form.
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.