During His presence on earth about five hundred years ago, Lord Krsna's most recent incarnation often displayed His divine powers.
This is the second of three articles describing the mirac-ulous events in the life of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The information herein comes from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta and Sri Caitanya-Bhagavata.
Soon after Lord Caitanya began His movement for chanting the holy name of the Lord (sankirtana), many of His followers would sing, dance, and play musical instruments for many hours in glorification of Lord Krsna. Some envious brahmanas resented the Lord's increasing power and influence over the people and decided to try to check Him at any cost.
These brahmanas complained to the Moslem Kazi, or governor, that Lord Caitanya's movement was sinful and would result in Navadvipa's becoming deserted. Many Moslems also complained, but mainly about the resounding noise of the sankirtana. All the faultfinders urged the Kazi to banish the Lord from the city.
These reports greatly angered the Kazi. So one evening, entering a home in which sankirtana was in progress, the Kazi broke a devotee's drum. He then banned all sankirtana and threatened serious punishment to anyone who violated his order. Shocked and disheartened, the devotees informed Lord Caitanya, who then organized a massive civil disobedience march consisting of hundreds of thousands of devotees engaged in a thunderous sankirtana.
When the demonstration reached the Kazi's residence, Lord Caitanya conversed with him on several issues, and the governor revealed an amazing experience he'd had.
"On the evening I broke the drum and forbade any further sankirtana," the Kazi said, "I had a horrifying dream. I saw a dreadful creature with a human body and a lion's face roaring loudly. He jumped on my chest and savagely laughed at me. Placing His nails on my chest, He said in a grim voice, 'I shall tear your chest apart the way you broke the drum! You have forbidden the performance of My congregational chanting; therefore I must kill you.'
"Horribly afraid, I shut my eyes and trembled. Then the man-lion said, 'I have conquered you just to teach you a lesson. But I will be merciful to you because on that day you did not create a big disturbance. So I have forgiven you and not killed you. But if you do that again, I will destroy you, your entire family, and all the meat-eaters [the Moslems].'
"After the man-lion said this, He left. I would like you to see the scratches He made over my heart."
The Kazi then revealed his chest, and as the people there saw the scratches, they were astonished. Every-one realized that Lord Nrsimha, the half-man, half-lion incarnation of God, who had appeared long ago to kill the demon Hiranyakasipu and protect His devotee Prahlada, had again appeared for a similar purpose. But what most people did not know was that Lord Caitanya Himself was also Lord Nrsimha—and thus His sankirtana mission could not be checked.
The Kazi then revealed something equally extraordinary.
On the same day that he had dreamed about Lord Nrsimha, one of his soldiers said, "When I went to stop the congregational chanting, suddenly flames struck my face. My beard was burned and there were blisters on my cheeks."
Every other orderly who had tried to check the devotees' sankirtana reported a similar experience.
But even more remarkable was that some of the complaining Moslems, after hearing the Hare Krsna mantra, began to uncontrollably chant it, even though they had no desire to.
When the conversation ended, the Kazi said to Lord Caitanya, "To all my future descendants, I give this solemn order: No one should ever stop the sankirtana movement."
His descendants have respectfully honored those words.
The Lord Revives a Child
One night at Srivasa Thakura's house, Lord Caitanya, along with His devotees, was deeply absorbed in sankirtana.
During the festival, Srivasa Thakura was informed that one of his sons, who had been seriously ill, had just died. To avoid disturbing Lord Caitanya and His devotees, Srivasa forbade his family members from expressing their sorrow and grief at that time. Thus, the blissful chanting and dancing continued without tearful interruptions.
But when the sankirtana ended, the omniscient Lord Caitanya said, "There must have been some calamity in this house."
He was then told about the death of Srivasa's son.
"Why wasn't this news given to Me earlier?" He sorrowfully asked.
Then He went to the deceased body and said, "My dear boy, why are you leaving Srivasa Thakura's house?"
The soul of the dead boy re-entered the body and replied, "I've lived here for as long as I was destined to. That time is now over. So I'm going someplace else now—to wherever You're sending me. I'm Your eternal servant, a living being who depends on You. I must act only in harmony with Your wish. I can't do anything else. I have no such power."
Hearing these words, all the members of Srivasa Thakura's family received transcendental knowledge and felt happily assured. Thus, they felt no reason to lament or grieve anymore.
The Lord Reveals Himself
One day, in Jagannatha Puri, Lord Caitanya had a philosophical discussion with the famous scholar Sarvabauma Bhattacarya.
After the Lord defeated him on every point, Sarvabauma Bhattacarya thought, "Lord Caitanya is certainly Lord Krsna Himself. Because I could not understand Him and was very proud of my learning, I have committed many offenses."
When Sarvabauma denounced himself as an offender and took shelter of Lord Caitanya, the Lord wanted to show him His mercy, so He manifested His four-armed Visnu form. Then, just after this, He manifested His original two-armed Krsna form, with a blackish complexion and a flute near His lips.
When Sarvabauma Bhattacarya saw this, he prostrated himself before the Lord. Then he arose and with folded palms offered Lord Caitanya prayers of glorification. By the Lord's mercy, all truths were revealed to him, and he could understand the importance of chanting God's holy names and distributing love of God everywhere.
From that time on, Sarvabauma did not know anything but reverence for the feet of Lord Caitanya. And all his explanations of the revealed scriptures were in strict accordance with the process of devotional service.
Calling the Ganges
One day Lord Caitanya, who always enjoyed Paramananda Puri Gosvamis company, asked him, "How is the water in your well?"
"The well is bad, so the water is horrible. It's very muddy."
Lord Caitanya raised both His arms and prayed, "O Lord Jagannatha, O great Lord of the universe, please grant Me this blessing. Please make the pure Ganges River flow into this well."
Lord Caitanya then went home, and the devotees went to sleep.
Goddess Ganga took the Lord's order on her head and filled the well.
When the devotees arose the next morning and saw the well filled with pure, clear water, they glorified the Lord by shouting His name. And when Paramananda Puri saw it, he fainted with joy.
Everyone said that Goddess Ganga had entered the well, so they circled it a few times out of deep respect for her.
Then Lord Caitanya arrived there, looked at the water, and said, "Devotees, please listen. Whoever drinks this water or bathes in it achieves the same result as dipping into the Ganges. The sinful reactions he created in the past will never manifest—for they will be eradicated. And he will achieve pure love and devotion for Lord Krsna."
All the devotes fully appreciated this and cried out, "Hari!" one of the Lord's holy names.
Healing a Devotee Leper
In South India an enlightened brahmana named Vasudeva was afflicted by leprosy. He was so compassionate toward other living beings that as soon as a worm would fall from a sore on his body, he would retrieve it and replace it on the spot from where it had fallen. Vasudeva believed he deserved to suffer for sinful deeds he had committed in the past.
When Vasudeva heard about Lord Caitanya's arrival in his village, he went to visit Him. But when he reached the house at which the Lord had been staying, he learned that the Lord had already departed. Hearing this, he became so overwhelmed by anguish that he fell down unconscious.
When Vasudeva regained consciousness and sorrowed over not having seen the Lord, Lord Caitanya, knowing His devotee's heart, at once returned to that area and embraced him. And just by the Lord's touching Vasudeva, both his leprosy and his distress vanished. Indeed, to Vasudeva's great joy, his body became quite handsome. Out of appreciation and respect, Vasudeva touched Lord Caitanya's feet and said, "O my merciful Lord, such mercy is not possible for ordinary living entities. Only in You can such mercy be found. When sinful persons would see me, they would walk away because of my bad bodily odor. Yet you have touched me. Such is the independent nature of the Lord."
Meek and humble, Vasudeva worried that he would become falsely proud over his being healed by Lord Caitanya. So to protect him, the Lord counseled him to chant the Hare Krsna mantra ceaselessly and to deliver people from their miseries by teaching about Lord Krsna. By doing these things, the Lord assured him, he would never become falsely proud.
Enlightening the Buddhists
During Lord Caitanya's travels, He would sometimes meet with proud intellectuals who did not believe that God was a person. They thought He was merely a principle or a power or a light or a consciousness or all of these combined. One of these persons, a leader of a Buddhist sect, along with his disciples, once came before the Lord to instruct Him. Setting forth nine chief principles, the Buddhist tried to convince the Lord of the superiority of his teachings. But with strong logic the Lord easily defeated the Buddhist leader's arguments. When spectators began to laugh, the Buddhists felt both shame and fear. Realizing that the Lord was a Vaisnava—a devotee of Krsna—they unhappily returned home.
Later, the Buddhists plotted to avenge themselves. They brought the Lord a plate of untouchable food and falsely called it maha-prasada, food that has been first offered to the temple deity. But just when this food was presented to Lord Caitanya, a large bird appeared there, picked up the plate in its beak, and flew off. As it did, the untouchable food fell on the Buddhists; then the bird dropped the plate on the head of the Buddhist teacher, and the teacher fell down unconscious.
His students cried out and hastened to Lord Caitanya's feet for shelter.
Addressing Him as the Lord, they begged, "Sir, please forgive our offense. Please have mercy on us and revive our spiritual master."
The Lord replied, "All of you chant the names of Krsna and Hari very loudly near the ear of your guru. By this means, he will regain consciousness."
The students followed the Lord's advice, and their teacher became conscious. He at once began chanting the holy name of the Lord and then submitted himself humbly before Lord Caitanya. Everyone gathered there was amazed. The Lord then suddenly and strangely disappeared from everyone's view, and no one could find Him.
Repelling the Bhattatharis
While Lord Caitanya traveled to various holy places, He was accompanied by His servant Krsnadasa. One day Krsnadasa, who was simple and gentle, was lured away from the Lord by a group of nomads known as the Bhattatharis. Outwardly, they dressed like sannyasis, or renunciants, but their real business was stealing and cheating. Polluting Krsnadasa's intelligence, they persuaded him to come to their camp and enjoy their kept women. Their motive was to compel Krsnadasa to join their community and become one of their members.
As soon as the Lord learned of this, he went to their camp and asked them, "Why are you keeping my brahmana assistant? Both you and I are renunciants, yet you are deliberately distressing me. I do not see any good logic in this."
Hearing this, all the Bhattatharis proceeded to try to attack the Lord, their sharp weapons raised maliciously. But instead of striking the Lord's body, their weapons uncontrollably fell from their hands and struck their own bodies. When some of the Bhattatharis were thus cut to pieces, the others ran away in all directions. As the Bhattatharis roared and cried, Lord Caitanya grabbed Krsnadasa by the hair and took him away. Later on, when Krsnadasa realized how he had been contaminated, he was most grateful to the Lord for freeing him from those rogues.
Dispatching Seven Trees
Many thousands of years ago, Lord Caitanya incarnated as the famous Lord Rama. In Valmiki's great epic Ramayana, Lord Rama, a mighty warrior, promised Prince Sugriva that He would kill Sugriva's brother King Vali, who had not only banished Sugriva from his kingdom, but had also illicitly appropriated his wife. But because Vali was extremely powerful, Sugriva entertained a doubt as to whether Lord Rama could slay him. Therefore, Sugriva asked Lord Rama to prove His prowess by shooting an arrow into a distant tree. After Rama shot His arrow, it pierced not only the indicated tree but also six other trees standing behind it. The arrow then touched the earth and quickly returned to Lord Rama's quiver.
When Lord Caitanya toured south India, He saw those same trees that He, in the form of Lord Rama, had long ago pierced with His arrow. But now playing the role of a devotee, He considered those trees extremely holy, having had contact with the Lord's mystic arrow. Lord Caitanya then embraced each of them, causing all seven trees to disappear. Where did they go? The Lord dispatched them to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world, freeing the souls occupying them from ever having to take birth again in the material world.
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.