Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu [pronounced Chaitanya] (February 27,1486 to 1534 A.D.) was born in Navadvipa, Bengal, on a full moon night during a lunar eclipse. It is typical for people to bathe in the Ganges during an eclipse and chant the Lordâ€™s holy names for spiritual purification. So, everyone in the area was chanting the holy names when he was born. His parents, Jagannatha Misra and Sachidevi, gave Him the name of Vishvambhara, meaning the support of the universe, because astrologers had predicted his super human qualities and that he would deliver the people of the world. He was also nicknamed Nimai because he had been born under a nima tree.
During his childhood he exhibited extraordinary qualities, even having philosophical discussions with his mother. While growing, his brilliant intelligence began to become apparent. While still a child, he mastered Sanskrit and logic to the point of defeating local pundits, and established the truth of his spiritual and Vedic philosophy. He became so well known that many logicians of various religious and philosophical persuasions began to fear his presence and refused to debate with him. Thus, Sri Chaitanya established the authority of the Vaishnava tradition through the process of debate and logic.
Then, when Sri Chaitanya went to Gaya on the pretext to perform ceremonies for the anniversary of his fatherâ€™s death, he received Vaishnava initiation from Ishvara Puri. Thereafter, he lost all interest in debate and simply absorbed himself in chanting and singing the names of Lord Krishna in devotional ecstasy. Upon returning to Navadvipa, he gathered a following with whom he would engage in congregational singing of the Lordâ€™s holy names. Thus, he started the first sankirtana (congregational devotional singing) movement, and established the importance of chanting the names of God in this age as the most elevated of spiritual processes, and the prime means for liberation from material attachments.
he Predicts the Future of the World
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that the holy name of the Lord would be spread to every village and town all over the world. He propagated the chanting of the Maha mantra which he directly took from the scriptures. The Brhan-naradiya Purana says:
harer nama harer nama harer namaivia kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
Chant the Holy name, chant the Holy name, chant the Holy name. In the Kali yuga, there is no other way, no other way, no other way!
The Kalisantarana Upanishad says that the 16 word, 32 syllable Hare Krishna Maha mantra is the most effective way of counteracting the contaminating effects of the Kali Yuga. Many of His empowered devotees, like Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Bhaktisiddhantha Saraswati Thakura have since appeared to further this holy mission. The latest, prominent personality in this line is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of acarya of ISKCON. In following the instructions of his spiritual master and the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Prabhupada propagated the chanting of the name of Krishna well beyond the borders of India, in countries all over the world, a mission that is still being carried forward by his disciples in ISKCON.
Ecstatic Love (Prema Bhakti)
Ecstatic love or Prema Bhakti is the feeling one experiences when one becomes self realized, ie one realizes that one is a spiritual being, an eternal servant of God, Lord Krishna.
Ecstatic love is the highest spiritual experience one can have. It is beyond all material happiness and it is described in the Vedic scriptures as Ananda or bliss.
Bhagavat Gita 5.21 says: “the self realized person enjoy unlimited happiness.”
Ecstatic love can be achieved in this age by anyone, thanks to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu whose life exemplified one who is experiencing ecstatic love and who gave the means of achieving ecstatic love. By regularly practicing Bhakti Yoga in which the main activity is chanting the Maha Mantra Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.