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By Nithin Sridhar
Guru Poornima Special: Part 4
“He whom the Bhaagavatam describes as the son of Nanda Mahārāja has descended to earth as Lord Chaitanya”- Chaitanya Charitaamrita (1. 2.9)
In Bhagavata Purana (11.5.32), while speaking about how Lord Keshava (i.e. Krishna) appears in various forms in various yugas, it is said that in Kali Yuga, the manifestation of Lord Krishna will be such that he would always be chanting the name of Krishna, and he would be of “non-blackish complexion”. In other words, Krishna will incarnate as a devotee who is always immersed in the Bhakti of Krishna.
The Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition identifies this incarnation of Lord Krishna with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (also called “Gauranga” or Golden i.e. non-black in complexion) who incarnated to sow the seeds of Bhakti in all directions.
Therefore, the fourth segment of the Guru Poornima series will be dedicated to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Life and times of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
According to Chaitanya Charitaamrita, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born on 1407 of sakha era (i.e. 1486 AD) and lived for 48 years. His father was Jagannath Misra and mother Sachi Devi.
He was born in Nabadwip in West Bengal and his childhood name was Viswambar.
In his youth, he was an erudite scholar of Nyaya (Logic) and indulged in various debates and discussions. Once, during his visit to Gaya, he met his Guru Ishwara Puri, who initiated him on the path of bhakti.
This made Viswambar turn inwards and completely immerse himself in Bhakti. Later, at the age of 24, he took Sannyasa (renunciation) from Keshava Bharati and got rechristened as “Krishna Chaitanya”.
After Sannyasa, he toured various parts of the country from South India to Vrindaavan and finally settled down in Puri, Odisha.
He stayed at Puri for the large part of the next 24 years and sang and danced with Krishna’s name on his lips. He finally left the world in 1534 AD.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings and legacy
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was one of the most important proponents of Bhakti (devotion) and was one of the most important teachers in Gaudiya Vaishnav tradition.
He had his initiation into mantra from Ishwara Puri who was from Madhva lineage (i.e. Dvaita/dualist philosophy) and had his initiation into Sannyasa from Keshava Bharati who was a monk in Shankara lineage (i.e. Advaita/non-dual philosophy).
But his personal philosophy which he taught others was one that harmonized both. It is called as “Achintya-bheda-abedha”. The gist of the philosophy is that Brahman is both dual and non-dual simultaneously and is beyond the grasp of human intellect and this Brahman itself is Lord Krishna.
Hence, he taught pure and unattached love as the ultimate means to liberation.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu personally wrote only one work called, “Sikshaastakam”. It is a simple eight verse prayer to Lord Krishna, which also serves as an instruction to the devotees and disciples.
In verse 1, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains the importance of chanting of the God’s name or namajapa. He says that chanting of God’s name cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and grants liberation.
In verse 2, he says that the holy names of God are many, each of them is infused with Lord’s power. Further, there are no restrictions to chanting of the God’s name like proper time etc. But, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu cautions (Verse 3) that one should be very humble, forbearing and without pride while chanting God’s name.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the driving force behind the Bhakti revival in Bengal and Odisha. He taught by example how a devotee should live and practice bhakti. He sang and danced in praise of Lord and inspired many others to follow him.
He taught his six disciples who later came to be known as Goswamis of Vrindavana, the various aspects of his Bhakti philosophy and asked them to systematically present them in their writings.
Hence, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sowed the seeds of Bhakti in Indian society, which bore fruits in the later centuries and had a far reaching influence on Indian life and practice including on spiritual stalwarts like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
More in this segment:
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.