Because Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself, He can easily appear in seven places at once, revive the nearly dead, and make animals dance and chant.
This is the last in a series of three articles describing miraculous events in the life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Then Lord Caitanya resided in Jagannatha Puri, His many devotees from West Bengal would usually visit Him during the four months of the rainy season (July-October). One of the big events that occurred during their stay was the Rathayatra, or chariot festival, which they jubilantly took part in. This festival, still held annually, consists primarily of numerous people pulling by ropes three huge, gorgeously decorated chariots. On the chariots ride the temple deities Lord Jagannatha (Krsna), Lord Balarama (Krsna's brother), and Goddess Subhadra Devi (Their sister). As they are pulled several miles through the streets, they shower their blessings on all who see them or march with them. During this colorful parade, many of the participants not only follow along or pull the carts, but also dance, sing, and play musical instruments, celebrating and glorifying the Lord's coveted return to His childhood village, Vrndavana.
During the festival, Lord Caitanya would generally divide His devotees into seven groups, eight main persons in a group; one would dance, one would lead the chanting, six would respond to the chant. In each party, two men would beat drums, and when all fourteen drummers played together, the sound was thunderous. As the procession moved, Lord Caitanya would wander through all the groups, chanting the Lord's name, "Hari! Hari!"
One year He exhibited a miracle He appeared simultaneously in each of the seven groups. The devotees in each group thought that the Lord had appeared exclusively in their group. Onlookers saw only a single form of the Lord. But a few of His most spiritually advanced companions were able to see this mystic display of seven forms.
Once, after the chariots had stopped moving for a while and it was again time to pull them, the people were unable to budge Lord Jagannatha's chariot. Massive wrestlers were asked to pull it, and although they tried with all their might, they also failed. Next, powerful elephants were harnessed to the chariot, and even though they strained with great effort, they too were unsuccessful. It seemed Lord Jagannatha was refusing to allow His car to be moved.
When Lord Caitanya, who had been resting in another area, heard about the problem, He went there with His devotees to solve it. First, He set the elephants free, and then He placed the ropes in His associates' hands. Next, He went to the rear of the car and pushed it with His head. The chariot finally moved, making a rattling sound. The people were struck with wonder, for they did not know that He who was moving the car was the same person who had stopped it. In this way, the Lord playfully enjoyed a game, or pastime, with Himself.
Lord Caitanya Cures Cholera
One day Sarvabhauma Bhat-tacarya, a great scholar, devotee, and close associate of Lord Caitanya, invited the Lord to his home for lunch. Out of great love and devotion, he prepared and served the Lord a large quantity and variety of scrumptious food. As Lord Caitanya relished it, Sarvabhauma's son-in-law, Amogha, a great blasphemer and faultfinder, criticized the Lord for overeating. The Lord did not regard the offense seriously, but Sarvabhauma expressed intense anger against Amogha.
Shortly after, Amogha fell sick with deadly cholera.
When Sarvabhauma heard about this, he said, "When one offends the Lord, karma immediately takes effect."
As soon as Lord Caitanya heard that Amogha was dying, He rushed to his bedside. Placing His hand on Amogha's chest, He said, "A brahmana's heart is by nature very clean; thus it is the right place for Lord Krsna to sit. Why have you allowed envy to also sit here? You have dirtied a pure place, but by your association with Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, all your dirt is now gone. When a person's heart is cleansed of all dirt, he can chant Hare Krsna. So get up, Amogha, and chant it. If you do so, Krsna will surely give you His mercy."
Amogha at once stood up and began chanting Krsna's name. He became uplifted with ecstatic love and danced emotionally. Seeing this, Lord Caitanya laughed.
Amogha threw himself before the Lord's feet and humbly said, "O merciful Lord, please excuse my offense."
The Lord replied, "Amogha, always chant the Hare Krsna mantra and do not commit new offenses."
Thus, Amogha was cured of both his physical and spiritual disease by Lord Caitanya's grace. Thereafter he became a pure devotee of the Lord, often dancing in ecstasy and always chanting Krsna's holy name.
Animals Chant and Dance
When Lord Caitanya, with two assistants, was traveling from Jagannatha Puri to Vrndavana, He went through the dangerous Jharikhanda forest. He chose this scarcely used route because He wanted to be free of large crowds of people following Him.
As the Lord trekked, He continuously chanted the name Krsna and felt intense ecstasy. Batches of wild boars, tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses came towards Him. Needless to say, His assistants became terrified. But the Lord sauntered in the animals' direction, and they just stood aside to allow Him and His men to pass.
One day a tiger was lying on the path, and the blissful Lord touched the tiger with His feet and exclaimed, "Chant the holy name Krsna!"
Amazingly, the tiger stood up and began to dance and roar, "Krsna! Krsna!"
Another day, while the Lord was bathing in a river, a herd of maddened elephants arrived there to drink water.
The Lord splashed some water on them and said, "Chant 'Krsna'!"
The elephants then ecstatically danced and trumpeted, "Krsna! Krsna!" Even the birds, trees, and creepers became jubilant on hearing the name Krsna.
One day, when the Lord chanted very loudly, some deer, hearing His sweet voice, followed Him. Then about seven tigers joined the deer. When the Lord said to them, "Chant 'Krsna, Krsna'!" the tigers and deer chanted, "Krsna!" and danced. Soon the tigers and deer embraced and kissed one another. When Lord Caitanya saw all this fun, He smiled. Finally, He left them and continued His journey, His assistants marveling over those incredible sights.
The Lord Merges into His Deity Form
When God leaves this world, His departure is never referred to as death, chiefly because God never dies He simply returns to His eternal abode in the spiritual world, where He continues His ecstatic activities with His devotees. Thus, the word "disap-pears" is used instead of "dies," just as when the Lord enters this world, the word "appears" is used instead of "is born."
Lord Caitanya's disappearance from this world of which there are at least two different accounts was as mystical as His appearance. One account says that one day in 1534 He entered the Tota-Gopinatha temple in Jagannatha Puri. While sankirtana was going on, in the height of His ecstasy He merged Himself into the Gopinatha deity, a form of Lord Krsna. And to this day, a golden streak is visible on the deity's thigh.
Another account says that He entered the Jagannatha temple and merged Himself into the Jagannatha deity. Such is the account given by one of Lord Caitanya's Oriyan disciples, who claimed to have been an eyewitness to His disappearance. He said that the Lord chanted the name of Radharani, Lord Krsna's most intimate consort and greatest devotee, and, like a flash of lightening, entered the holy body of Lord Jagannatha.
Some of Lord Caitanya's devotees believe that both versions of His disappearance are true. Since, as mentioned above, He had the power to appear in seven sankirtana parties simultaneously, then why could He not disappear into two deities simultaneously? Once we accept the principle that the Lord is omnipotent, then what miracle is He not capable of manifesting?
But even more important than the way Lord Caitanya disappeared is the valuable benediction He so mercifully left us. This can be summed up in several poetic lines written by Lord Caitanya's glorious devotee Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura (1838-1914):
Lord Gauranga [Caitanya] is calling, "Wake up, sleeping souls!
"How long will you sleep in the lap of the witch called maya?
"You have forgotten the way of devotional service and are lost in the world of birth and death.
"I have descended just to save you; other than Myself, you have no friend in this world.
"I have brought the medicine that will wipe out the disease of illusion from which you are suffering. Take this mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, "I fall at the Lord's feet, having accepted the maha-mantra."
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.