Krishnadas Writes the Final Pastimes of the Lord
Without the mercy of Vishnu and the Vaishnavas, it is impossible to describe their glories. It is for this reason that Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami begins each chapter of the Chaitanya Charitamrita with invocations to Mahaprabhu and his associates like Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, and concludes each chapter with a prayer for the service to the feet of Rupa and Raghunath Goswamis. He thus showed how important it is to avoid any disrespect or offense to the Vaishnavas.
The activities of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are by nature wonderful and sweet. When described by Vrindavan Das Thakur, they become a shower of nectar. To describe them again would not only be repetition, but a display of arrogance, for I do not possess his powers. I shall thus only present a synopsis of those events already described fully by Vrindavan Das in his Chaitanya Mangala. I shall do my best to fully describe in this book only those incidents mentioned in his outline which he did not develop. I therefore offer respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Vrindavan Das Thakur, praying that I will not offend his lotus feet by my action. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.4.5-9)
Just as Vyasadeva compiled Lord Krishna’s pastimes in Srimad Bhagavatam, Thakur Vrindavan Das depicted Lord Chaitanya’s pastimes…. I offer millions of obeisances unto the lotus feet of Vrindavan Das Thakur who has delivered the entire universe through his book. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.8.35,40)
Vrindavan Das the authorized biographer of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and equal to Srila Vyasadeva. He has described the Lord’s pastimes in such a way as to make them sweeter and sweeter. I shall try as far as possible to fill in descriptions he left out due to his fear of his book’s becoming too voluminous. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.13.48-9)
In his foreword to the edition of the Chaitanya Charitamrita published by the Sri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, the president of the editorial board of Chaitanya Vani magazine, H. H. Bhakti Pramoda Puri Goswami Maharaj, has written: “Vrindavan Das Thakur wrote an elaborate outline of Mahaprabhu’s lila at the beginning of the Chaitanya Bhagavat, but as he became absorbed in describing Nityananda’s activities, many events mentioned in the outline were left out of the final version of the book. Mahaprabhu’s Vrindavan devotees approached Krishnadas Kaviraj, asking him to write down a full version of these pastimes, for if it were not done, they would be forgotten. Krishnadas then went to the deity of Madana Mohana and asked him for permission to do as he had been asked. In front of all the prominent contemporary members of the Gaudiya community in Vrindavan, the garland fell from Madana Mohana’s neck. This was taken by all who were present as a sign of the Lord’s approval and they let out a joyous cheer. Madana Mohana’s pujari picked up the garland and placed it on Krishnadas’s chest. Joyfully taking the garland as a symbol of the Deity’s wishes, Krishnadas began to write his biography of the Lord. Thus he has written in great humility.
Chaitanya Charitamrita is being dictated to me by Madana Mohana. My writing is like the repetition of a parrot. I write as Madana Gopal orders me, just as a wooden marionette is made to dance by a puppeteer. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.8.78-9)
In writing Chaitanya Charitamrita, Krishnadas made use of Svarupa Damodar’s notes, which Raghunath Das Goswami had memorized. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur has described this as follows: “Sri Svarupa Damodar Goswami wrote an outline in Sanskrit (karica) of Mahaprabhu’s later activities. He had Raghunath memorize these verses and told him to preach them throughout the world. These verses were not written down anywhere else, however. The Chaitanya Charitamrita is the gist of Svarupa Damodar’s karica.
Though I am an insignificant living being, through the blessings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu I have summarized in writing everything that Svarupa Damodar recorded in his notes about the Lord’s pastimes, as well as everything that I heard from the mouth of Raghunath Das. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.3.269-70)
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s glorious name, form, qualities and activities all manifest in Krishnadas Kaviraj’s heart, which he then published in the Chaitanya Charitamrita. He himself stated this fact in various places throughout the book:
I am now an old man and an invalid. My hand trembles as I write and my memory fails me. I am going blind and deaf, but still I manage to write and this is a great wonder. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.2.90)
While Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur was once glorifying the superlative character of Chaitanya Charitamrita to his disciples, he instructed them as follows: “If it were to happen that all the books in the world were destroyed, leaving only Srimad Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Charitamrita, then the people of this world would still be able to achieve the ultimate goal in life. Even if the Srimad Bhagavatam were lost, leaving only the Chaitanya Charitamrita, there would be no loss to humanity, for that which has not been revealed in the Bhagavat is found in Chaitanya Charitamrita. The supreme absolute truth is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined form of Radha and Krishna. The Chaitanya Charitamrita is his sound incarnation. The divine mystery of Radharani’s divine status and glories are found therein. Can there be any doubt, therefore, of the supreme status of this piece of transcendental literature?”
This statement underscores the supremely special status of Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami himself. His three books, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Govinda-lilamrita and a commentary on Krishna-karnamrita, are all priceless works. Govinda-lilamrita describes in detail Lord Krishna’s activities over a twenty-four-hour period. Narottama Das Thakur has therefore stated:
krishnadasa kaviraja, rasika bhakata majh
jenho kaila caitanya-carita
gaura-govinda-lila, shunite galaye shila
tahate na haila mora cita
Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami stands out amongst the devotional literati, for he is the author of the biography of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He described both Gaura and Govinda’s lila, hearing which even a stone would melt. Alas, even so, my mind has not been attracted by these works. (Prema-bhakti-candrika)
Krishnadas was honored with the title kaviraja (“king of poets”) for his Govinda-lilamrita. He is also respected in the Vaishnava world as the best amongst the followers of Rupa Goswami.