When He was a mere baby crawling in the yard, one day a snake appeared before Him, and the Lord began to play with it. All the members of the house were struck with fear and awe, but after a little while the snake went away, and the baby was taken away by His mother. Once He was stolen by a thief who intended to steal His ornaments, but the Lord took a pleasure trip on the shoulder of the bewildered thief, who was searching for a solitary place in order to rob the baby. It so happened that the thief, wandering hither and thither, finally arrived just before the house of Jagannatha Misra and, being afraid of being caught, dropped the baby at once. Of course the anxious parents and relatives were glad to see the lost child.
Once a pilgrim brahmana was received at the house of Jagannatha Misra, and when he was offering food to the Godhead, the Lord appeared before him and partook of the prepared food. The eatables had to be rejected because the child touched them, and so the brahmana had to make another preparation. The next time the same thing happened, and when this happened repeatedly for the third time, the baby was finally put to bed. At about twelve at night when all the members of the house were fast asleep within their closed rooms, the pilgrim brahmana offered his specially prepared foods to the Deity, and, in the same way, the baby Lord appeared before the pilgrim and spoiled his offerings. The brahmana then began to cry, but since everyone was fast asleep, no one could hear him. At that time the baby Lord appeared before the fortunate brahmana and disclosed His identity as Krsna Himself. The brahmana was forbidden to disclose this incident, and the baby returned to the lap of His mother.
There are many similar incidents in His childhood. As a naughty boy He sometimes used to tease the orthodox brahmanas who used to bathe in the Ganges. When the brahmanas complained to His father that He was splashing them with water instead of attending school, the Lord suddenly appeared before His father as though just coming from school with all His school clothes and books. At the bathing ghata He also used to play jokes on the neighboring girls who engaged in worshiping Siva in hopes of getting good husbands. This is a common practice amongst unmarried girls in Hindu families. While they were engaged in such worship, the Lord naughtily appeared before them and said, "My dear sisters, please give Me all the offerings you have just brought for Lord Siva. Lord Siva is My devotee, and Parvati is My maidservant. If you worship Me, then Lord Siva and all the other demigods will be more satisfied." Some of them refused to obey the naughty Lord, and He would curse them that due to their refusal they would be married to old men who had seven children by their previous wives. Out of fear and sometimes out of love the girls would also offer Him various goods, and then the Lord would bless them and assure them that they would have very good young husbands and that they would be mothers of dozens of children. The blessings would enliven the girls, but they used often to complain of these incidents to their mothers.
In this way the Lord passed His early childhood. When He was just sixteen years old He started His own catuspathi (village school conducted by a learned brahmana). In this school He would simply explain Krsna, even in readings of grammar. Srila Jiva Gosvami, in order to please the Lord, later composed a grammar in Sanskrit, in which all the rules of grammar were explained with examples that used the holy names of the Lord. This grammar is still current. It is known as Hari-namamrtavyakarana and is prescribed in the syllabus of schools in Bengal.
During this time a great Kashmir scholar named Kesava Kasmiri came to Navadvipa to hold discussions on the sastras. The Kashmir pandita was a champion scholar, and he had traveled to all places of learning in India. Finally he came to Navadvipa to contest the learned panditas there. The panditas of Navadvipa decided to match Nimai Pandita (Lord Caitanya) with the Kashmir pandita, thinking that if Nimai Pandita were defeated, they would have another chance to debate with the scholar, for Nimai Pandita was only a boy. And if the Kashmir pandita were defeated, then they would even be more glorified because people would proclaim that a mere boy of Navadvipa had defeated a champion scholar who was famous throughout India. It so happened that Nimai Pandita met Kesava Kasmiri while strolling on the banks of the Ganges. The Lord requested him to compose a Sanskrit verse in praise of the Ganges, and the pandita within a short time composed a hundred slokas, reciting the verses like a storm and showing the strength of his vast learning. Nimai Pandita at once memorized all the slokas without an error. He quoted the sixty-fourth sloka and pointed out certain rhetorical and literary irregularities. He particularly questioned the pandita's use of the word bhavani-bhartuh. He pointed out that the use of this word was redundant. Bhavani means the wife of Siva, and who else can be her bharta, or husband? He also pointed out several other discrepancies, and the Kashmir pandita was struck with wonder. He was astonished that a mere student of grammar could point out the literary mistakes of an erudite scholar. Although this matter was ended prior to any public meeting, the news spread like wildfire all over Navadvipa. But finally Kesava Kasmiri was ordered in a dream by Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, to submit to the Lord, and thus the Kashmir pandita became a follower of the Lord.
The Lord was then married with great pomp and gaiety, and at this time He began to preach the congregational chanting of the holy name of, the Lord at Navadvipa. Some of the brahmanas became envious of His popularity, and they put many hindrances on His path. They were so jealous that they finally took the matter before the Muslim magistrate at Navadvipa. Bengal was then governed by Pathans, and the governor of the province was Nawab Hussain Shah. The Muslim magistrate of Navadvipa took up the complaints of the brahmanas seriously, and at first he warned the followers of Nimai Pandita not to chant loudly the name of Hari. But Lord Caitanya asked His followers to disobey the orders of the Kazi, and they went on with their sankirtana (chanting) party as usual. The magistrate then sent constables who interrupted a sankirtana and broke some of the mrdangas (drums). When Nimai Pandita heard of this incident He organized a party for civil disobedience. He is the pioneer of the civil disobedience movement in India for the right cause. He organized a procession of one hundred thousand men with thousands of mrdangas and karatalas (hand cymbals), and this procession passed over the roads of Navadvipa in defiance of the Kazi who had issued the order. Finally the procession reached the house of the Kazi, who went upstairs out of fear of the masses. The great crowds assembled at the Kazi's house displayed a violent temper, but the Lord asked them to be peaceful. At this time the Kazi came down and tried to pacify the Lord by addressing Him as his nephew. He pointed out that Nilambara Cakravarti referred to him as an uncle, and consequently, Srimati Sacidevi, the mother of Nimai Pandita, was his sister. He asked the Lord whether his sister's son could be angry at His maternal uncle, and the Lord replied that since the Kazi was His maternal uncle he should receive his nephew well at his home. In this way the issue was mitigated, and the two learned scholars began a long discussion on the Koran and Hindu sastras. The Lord raised the question of cow-killing, and the Kazi properly answered Him by referring to the Koran. In turn the Kazi also questioned the Lord about cow sacrifice in the Vedas, and the Lord replied that such sacrifice as mentioned in the Vedas is not actually cow-killing. In that sacrifice an old bull or cow was sacrificed for the sake of receiving a fresh younger life by the power of Vedic mantras. But in the Kali-yuga such cow sacrifices are forbidden because there are no qualified brahmanas capable of conducting such a sacrifice. In fact, in Kali-yuga all yajnas (sacrifices) are forbidden because they are useless attempts by foolish men. In Kali-yuga only the sankirtana yajna is recommended for all practical purposes.
Speaking in this way, the Lord finally convinced the Kazi, who became the Lord's follower. The Kazi thenceforth declared that no one should hinder the sankirtana movement which was started by the Lord, and the Kazi left this order in his will for the sake of progeny. The Kazi's tomb still exists in the area of Navadvipa, and Hindu pilgrims go there to show their respects. The Kazi's descendants are residents, and they never objected to sankirtana, even during the Hindu-Muslim riot days. This incident shows clearly that the Lord was not a so-called timid Vaisnava. A Vaisnava is a fearless devotee of the Lord, and for the right cause he can take any step suitable for the purpose. Arjuna was also a Vaisnava devotee of Lord Krsna, and he fought valiantly for the satisfaction of the Lord. Similarly, Vajrangaji, or Hanuman, was also a devotee of Lord Rama, and he gave lessons to the nondevotee party of Ravana. The principles of Vaisnavism are to satisfy the Lord by all means. A Vaisnava is by nature a nonviolent, peaceful living being, and he has all the good qualities of God, but when the nondevotee blasphemes the Lord or His devotee, the Vaisnava never tolerates such impudency.
After this incident the Lord began to preach and propagate His Bhagavata-dharma, or sankirtana movement, more vigorously, and whoever stood against this propagation of the yuga-dharma, or duty of the age, was properly punished by various types of chastisement. Two brahmana gentlemen named Capala and Gopala, who also happened to be maternal uncles of the Lord, were inflicted with leprosy by way of chastisement, and later, when they were repentant, they were accepted by the Lord. In the course of His preaching work, He used to send daily all His followers, including Srila Nityananda Prabhu and Thakura Haridasa, two chief whips of His party, from door to door to preach the SrimadBhagavatam All of Navadvipa was surcharged with His sankirtana movement, and His headquarters were situated at the house of Srivasa Thakura and Sri Advaita Prabhu, two of His chief householder disciples. These two learned heads of the brahmana community were the most ardent supporters of Lord Caitanya's movement. Sri Advaita Prabhu was the chief cause for the advent of the Lord. When Advaita Prabhu saw that the total human society was full of materialistic activities and devoid of devotional service, which alone could save mankind from the threefold miseries of material existence, He, out of His causeless compassion for the age-worn human society, prayed fervently for the incarnation of the Lord and continually worshiped the Lord with water of the Ganges and leaves of the holy tulasi tree. As far as preaching work in the sankirtana movement was concerned, everyone was expected to do his daily share according to the order of the Lord.
Once Nityananda Prabhu and Srila Haridasa Thakura were walking down a main road, and on the way they saw a roaring crowd assembled. Upon inquiring from passers-by, they understood that two brothers, named Jagai and Madhai, were creating a public disturbance in a drunken state. They also heard that these two brothers were born in a respectable brahmana family, but because of low association they had turned into debauchees of the worst type. They were not only drunkards but also meat-eaters, womanhunters, dacoits and sinners of all description. Srila Nityananda Prabhu heard all of these stories and decided that these two fallen souls must be the first to be delivered. If they were delivered from their sinful life, then the good name of Lord Caitanya would be even still more glorified. Thinking in this way, Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa pushed their way through the crowd and asked the two brothers to chant the holy name of Lord Hari. The drunken brothers became enraged upon this request and attacked Nityananda Prabhu with filthy language. Both brothers chased them a considerable distance. In the evening the report of the preaching work was submitted to the Lord, and He was glad to learn that Nityananda and Haridasa had attempted to deliver such a stupid pair of fellows.
The next day Nityananda Prabhu went to see the brothers, and as soon as He approached them one of them threw a piece of earthen pot at Him. This struck Him on the forehead, and immediately blood began to flow. But Nityananda Prabhu was so kind that instead of protesting this heinous act, He said, "It does not matter that you have thrown this stone at Me. I still request you to chant the holy name of Lord Hari." One of the brothers, Jagai, was astonished to see this behavior of Nityananda Prabhu, and he at once fell down at His feet and asked Him to pardon his sinful brother. When Madhai again attempted to hurt Nityananda Prabhu, Jagai stopped him and implored him to fall down at His feet. In the meantime the news of Nityananda's injury reached the Lord, who at once hurried to the spot in a fiery and angry mood. The Lord immediately invoked His Sudarsana cakra (the Lord's ultimate weapon, shaped like a wheel) to kill the sinners, but Nityananda Prabhu reminded Him of His mission. The mission of the Lord was to deliver the hopelessly fallen souls of Kali-yuga, and the brothers Jagai and Madhai were typical examples of these fallen souls. Ninety percent of the population of this age resembles these brothers, despite high birth and mundane respectability. According to the verdict of the revealed scriptures, the total population of the world in this age will be of the lowest sudra quality, or even lower. It should be noted that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never acknowledged the stereotyped caste system by birthright; rather, He strictly followed the verdict of the sastras in the matter of one's svarupa, or real identity.
When the Lord was invoking His Sudarsana cakra and Srila Nityananda Prabhu was imploring Him to forgive the two brothers, both the brothers fell down at the lotus feet of the Lord and begged His pardon for their gross behavior. The Lord was also asked by Nityananda Prabhu to accept these repenting souls, and the Lord agreed to accept them on one condition, that they henceforward completely give up all their sinful activities and habits of debauchery. both the brothers agreed and promised to give up all their sinful habits, and the kind Lord accepted them and did not again refer to their past misdeeds.
This is the specific kindness of Lord Caitanya. In this age no one can say that he is free from sin. It is impossible for anyone to say this. But Lord Caitanya accepts all kinds of sinful persons on the one condition that they promise not to indulge in sinful habits after being spiritually initiated by the bona fide spiritual master.
There are a number of instructive points to he observed in this incident of the two brothers. In this Kali-yuga practically all people are of the quality of Jagai and Madhai. If they want to be relieved from the reactions of their misdeeds, they must take shelter of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and after spiritual initiation thus refrain from those things which are prohibited in the sastras. The prohibitory rules are dealt with in the Lord's teachings to Srila Rupa Gosvami.
During His householder life, the Lord did not display many of the miracles which are generally expected from such personalities, but He did once perform a wonderful miracle in the house of Srinivasa Thakura while sankirtana was in full swing. He asked the devotees what they wanted to eat, and when He was informed that they wanted to eat mangoes, He asked for a seed of a mango, although this fruit was out of season. When the seed was brought to Him He sowed it in the yard of Srinivasa, and at once a creeper began to grow out of the seed. Within no time this creeper became a full-grown mango tree heavy with more ripened fruits than the devotees could eat. The tree remained in Srinivasa's yard, and from then on the devotees used to take as many mangoes from the tree as they wanted.
The Lord had a very high estimation of the affections of the damsels of Vrajabhumi (Vrndavana) for Krsna, and in appreciation of their unalloyed service to the Lord, once Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chanted the holy names of the gopis (cowherd girls) instead of the names of the Lord. At this time some of His students, who were also disciples, came to see Him, and when they saw that the Lord was chanting the names of the gopis, they were astonished. Out of sheer foolishness they asked the Lord why He was chanting the names of the gopis and advised Him to chant the name of Krsna. The Lord, who was in ecstasy, was thus disturbed by these foolish students. He chastised them and chased them away. The students were almost the same age as the Lord, and thus they wrongly thought of the Lord as one of their peers. They held a meeting and resolved that they would attack the Lord if He dared to punish them again in such a manner. This incident provoked some malicious talks about the Lord on the part of the general public.
When the Lord became aware of this, He began to consider the various types of men found in society. He noted that especially the students, professors, fruitive workers, yogis, nondevotees, and different types of atheists were all opposed to the devotional service of the Lord. "My mission is to deliver all the fallen souls of this age," He thought, "but if they commit offenses against Me, thinking Me to be an ordinary man, they will not benefit. If they are to begin their life of spiritual realization, they must some way or another offer obeisances unto Me." Thus the Lord decided to accept the renounced order of life (sannyasa) because people in general were inclined to offer respects to a sannyasi.
Five hundred years ago the condition of society was not as degraded as it is today. At that time people would show respects to a sannyasi, and the sannyasi was rigid in following the rules and regulations of the renounced order of life. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was not very much in favor of the renounced order of life in this age of Kali, but that was only for the reason that very few sannyasis in this age are able to observe the rules and regulations of sannyasa life. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu decided to accept the order and become an ideal sannyasi so that the general populace would show Him respect. One is duty-bound to show respect to a sannyasi, for a sannyasi is considered to be the master of all varnas and asramas.
While He was contemplating accepting the sannyasa order, it so happened that Kesava Bharati, a sannyasi of the Mayavadi school and resident of Katwa (in Bengal), visited Navadvipa and was invited to dine with the Lord. When Kesava Bharati came to His house, the Lord asked him to award Him the sannyasa order of life. This was a matter of formality. The sannyasa order is to be accepted from another sannyasi. Although the Lord was independent in all respects, still, to keep up the formalities of the sastras, He accepted the sannyasa order from Kesava Bharati, although Kesava Bharati was not in the Vaisnava-sampradaya (school).
After consulting with Kesava Bharati, the Lord left Navadvipa for Katwa to formally accept the sannyasa order of life. He was accompanied by Srila Nityananda Prabhu, Candrasekhara Acarya, and Mukunda Datta. Those three assisted Him in the details of the ceremony. The incident of the Lord's accepting the sannyasa order is very elaborately described in the Caitanya-bhagavata by Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura.
Thus at the end of His twenty-fourth year the Lord accepted the sannyasa order of life in the month of Magha. After accepting this order He became a full-fledged preacher of the Bhagavata-dharma. Although He was doing the same preaching work in His householder life, when He experienced some obstacles to His preaching He sacrificed even the comfort of His home life for the sake of the fallen souls. In His householder life His chief assistants were Srila Advaita Prabhu and Srila Srivasa Thakura, but after He accepted the sannyasa order His chief assistants became Srila Nityananda Prabhu, who was deputed to preach specifically in Bengal, and the six Gosvamis (Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami and Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami), headed by Srila Rupa and Sanatana, who were deputed to go to Vrndavana to excavate the present places of pilgrimage. The present city of Vrndavana and the importance of Vrajabhumi were thus disclosed by the will of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The Lord, after accepting the sannyasa order, at once wanted to start for Vrndavana. For three continuous days He traveled in the Radha-desa (places where the Ganges does not flow). He was in full ecstasy over the idea of going to Vrndavana. However, Srila Nityananda diverted His path and brought Him instead to the house of Advaita Prabhu in Santipura. The Lord stayed at Sri Advaita Prabhu's house for a few days, and knowing well that the Lord was leaving His hearth and home for good, Sri Advaita Prabhu sent His men to Navadvipa to bring mother Saci to have a last meeting with her son. Some unscrupulous people say that Lord Caitanya met His wife also after taking sannyasa and offered her His wooden slipper for worship, but the authentic sources give no information about such a meeting. His mother met Him at the house of Advaita Prabhu, and when she saw her son in sannyasa, she lamented. By way of compromise, she requested her son to make His headquarters in Puri so that she would easily be able to get information about Him. The Lord granted this last desire of His beloved mother. After this incident the Lord started for Puri, leaving all the residents of Navadvipa in an ocean of lamentation over His separation.
The Lord visited many important places on the way to Puri. He visited the temple of Gopinathaji, who had stolen condensed milk for His devotee Srila Madhavendra Puri. Since then Deity Gopinathaji is well known as Ksira-cora-gopinatha. The Lord relished this story with great pleasure.
The propensity of stealing is there even in the absolute consciousness, but because this propensity is exhibited by the Absolute, it loses its perverted nature and thus becomes worshipable even by Lord Caitanya on the basis of the absolute consideration that the Lord and His stealing propensity are one and identical. This interesting story of Gopinathaji is vividly explained in the Caitanya-caritamrta by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami.
After visiting the temple of Ksira-cora-gopinatha of Remuna at Balasore in Orissa, the Lord proceeded towards Puri and on the way visited the temple of Saksi-gopala, who appeared as a witness in the matter of two brahmana devotees' family quarrel. The Lord heard the story of Saksi-gopala with great pleasure because He wanted to impress upon the atheists that the worshipable Deities in the temples approved by the great acaryas are not idols, as alleged by men with a poor fund of knowledge. The Deity in the temple is the arca incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, and thus the Deity is identical with the Lord in all respects. He responds to the proportion of the devotee's affection for Him. In the story of Saksi-gopala, in which there was a family misunderstanding by two devotees of the Lord, the Lord, in order to mitigate the turmoil as well as to show specific favor to His servitors, traveled from Vrndavana to Vidyanagara, a village in Orissa, in the form of His arca incarnation. From there the Deity was brought to Cuttack, and thus the temple of Saksi-gopala is even today visited by thousands of pilgrims on the way to Jagannatha Puri. The Lord stayed overnight there and began to proceed toward Puri. On the way, His sannyasa rod was broken by Nityananda Prabhu. The Lord became apparently angry with Him about this and went alone to Puri, leaving His companions behind.