Parishads: Sri Chandrasekhara Acharya

by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaja

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One of the great branches of the Chaitanya tree is called Acharyaratna, also known as Chandrasekhara; his entourage forms another group of branches and sub-branches. Mahaprabhu danced in his house in the mood of the goddess.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.12-13)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur has written: “Chandrasekhara was one of the nine treasures, or the god Chandra. His home is known as Vrajapattana [or the place where Mahaprabhu enjoyed his pastimes of putting on a play about Vrindavan].”

candrashekhara acaryash
candro jïeyo vicakshanaih
shriman uddhavadaso’pi
The wise know that Chandrasekhara Acharya is an incarnation of the moon god, while Uddhava Das is also a partial incarnation of the moon.
(Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika 112)

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes in his Amrita-pravaha-bhashya that according to some sources, Acharyaratna was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s meso, i.e, the husband of his mother’s sister.” This has been explained more conclusively in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana, “He was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s uncle, that is he married Sachidevi’s sister Sarvajaya.”

In the book called Shakha-nirnayamrita by Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami’s disciple Yadunatha Das, Chandrasekhara Acharya’s identity is revealed in the following way:

patram shri-candrashekharam
paurnamasiti samjïakam
Chandrasekhara was the recipient of Paurnamasi Devi’s deepest love. He is known as the full moon of unlimited compassion.

Chandrasekhara Acharya was also Born in Sylhet

Srivasa Pandit, Sri Rama Pandit and Chandrasekhara Deva are all worshipable throughout the three worlds; they, as well as Murari Gupta, the physician who cures the material disease, all appeared in Sylhet.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.2.34-5)

All of Mahaprabhu’s elders appear on this earth prior to his birth.

Many of them took birth prior to him on the order of the Supreme Lord, and remained hidden in Nadia. They included Chandrasekhara, Jagadisa, Gopinath, Sriman, Murari, Sri Garuda, and Ganga Das.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.2.98-9)

Sri Chandrasekhara lived just next door to Jagannath Mishra in Mayapur. The Chaitanya Math established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur now stands on this site. Prior to Mahaprabhu’s appearance, Chandrasekhara and his wife would visit the Mishra household regularly and would look after their well-being, helping to manage their affairs. When Jagannath departed from this world, Chandrasekhara took over the complete responsibility for Sachi Devi’s household affairs.

Pastimes in Chandrasekhara’s House

After Mahaprabhu’s return from Gaya, when he commenced his sankirtan movement in the company of his devotees, he would sometimes hold his nightly kirtans in the house of Chandrasekhara, just as he would in the house of Srivasa Pandit.

All the Vaishnavas felt great enthusiasm when they heard that Mahaprabhu had begun his sankirtan movement. Every night, these kirtans took place in the house of Srivasa Pandit, and on certain occasions, in the house of Chandrasekhara Acharya.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.8.110-1)

Jagai and Madhai were two brothers who, though born in a high caste Brahmin family, had nevertheless adopted robbery as their livelihood. By Mahaprabhu’s causeless mercy, all of their sins were cleansed and they were given the opportunity to engage in sankirtan with the rest of his devotees. Chandrasekhara Acharya was amongst the associates of the Lord who witnessed these wonderful events. “Vakresvara Pandit and Chandrasekhara Acharya both know all the glories of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.”
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.13.240)

Mahaprabhu put on a play about Vraja lila in the house of Chandrasekhara Acharya. This lila has been described in great detail by Vrindavan Das Thakur in his Chaitanya Bhagavat, in the eighteenth chapter of the Madhya-khanda. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has briefly mentioned the event in his Chaitanya Charitamrita:

Then Mahaprabhu performed Krishna lila in the house of Chandrasekhara. He himself took on the role of Rukmini and others as well, becoming in turn Durga, Lakshmi and the Divine Energy. Then he sat down on the deity throne and distributed love of God to all the assembled devotees.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.17.241-2)

Here is a brief summary of the story as found in the Chaitanya Bhagavat: One day Mahaprabhu revealed his desire to put on a play with his devotees about his pastimes in Vrindavan. He told Sadashiva Buddhimanta Khan who would play which role and what they should wear.

Then Sachi’s son, completely absorbed in the kirtan of the lord’s names called out to Sadashiva Buddhimanta Khan. “Today I will go to Chandrasekhara’s house where I will dance in the dress of Lakshmi. Arrange for conch bracelets, saris, bodices, golden ornaments and other paraphernalia that will be suitable for our costumes.” Having so ordered him, Mahaprabhu and his companions went down the path which led to Chandrasekhara’s house.
(Bhakti-ratnakara 12.1949-52)

According to his instruction, Buddhimanta then arranged for appropriate dress and makeup for those who would be in the play, pleasing Mahaprabhu immeasurably. Mahaprabhu announced that he would dance in the role of Lakshmi, but that only those whose senses were controlled would be able to sit in the audience. Advaita Acharya, Srivasa Pandit and others sadly said that since they had no control over their senses they would be ineligible to watch. Mahaprabhu laughed slightly at hearing this and said that for that day at least everyone would become a great yogi and would not be bewildered by his performance.

Sachi Mata and Vishnupriya Devi came out of a desire to see Mahaprabhu dance as Lakshmi, and all the other devotees also came with their families. Advaita Acharya took the role of the |vidushaka| or clown, while Hari Das Thakur played the role of the town constable and Srivasa Pandit dressed up as Narada Muni. The performance began when Mukunda began to sing Krishna kirtan. Hari Das Thakur came dancing in, twirling his baton, and he told everyone to watch the play and the Lord’s dancing attentively. Srivasa Pandit in the role of Narada Muni said, “I have been wandering through the universes hoping to get a glimpse of Krishna. I went to Vaikuntha, but found the door closed and the house empty. Then I heard that Krishna had come to Nadia and had dressed up as Lakshmi and was about to dance just as she would.” When Sachi saw Srivasa in his identity as Narada she fainted in her amazement, but the other women brought her back to consciousness by chanting the name of Krishna.

In the next act, Mahaprabhu came out dressed as Rukmini. Totally absorbed in the mood of Rukmini, he recited her letter to Krishna from the Bhagavatam, and as he did so, he cried and wrote on the ground with his toes. When the Vaishnavas saw this scene, they were overwhelmed by the ecstasy of divine love.

Later on in the evening, Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami came onto the stage dressed as a gopi and began to dance like a woman in love. Mahaprabhu and Nityananda then entered the stage area, Mahaprabhu in the dress of the Adya shakti and Nityananda as an old woman, Radha’s maternal grandmother. When the members of the audience saw Mahaprabhu, each saw him according to his or her own mood: some as Kamala, some as Lakshmi, others as Sita and yet others as Mahamaya. Even those who had known Nimai since his birth, including Sachi, were unable to recognize him. In the guise of playing the roles of all the different female divinities, Mahaprabhu revealed his divine energies and taught the proper respect due to each one of them. While the Lord was thus dancing as the Adya shakti, Nityananda fainted and all the other devotees began to cry loudly.

Then the Lord revealed another amazing pastime: he took on the mood of Maha Lakshmi, sat down on the deity throne and placed the Gopinath deity on his lap. When the devotees saw this they began to sing hymns of praise to Maha Lakshmi. As this was going on, day suddenly broke and the devotees were saddened to know that the wonderful night had come to an end. When he saw their sadness, Mahaprabhu took the form of the Mother of the Universe and one by one, took all the devotees on his lap and gave her breast to drink. The devotees’ sadness disappeared in a moment.

By the lord’s inconceivable potencies, there remained a divine light in Chandrasekhara’s house for seven days and nights. It was so bright that people were not able to open their eyes there. When asked why this was so, the Vaishnavas would only smile in response.

Participation in Other Pastimes

Chandrasekhara Acharya was also present in the sankirtan procession through Nabadwip when Mahaprabhu went to Chand Kazi’s house to deliver him. He was also present when Mahaprabhu took sannyas in Katwa, and he performed all the rituals on his behalf at that time.

So saying, Keshava Bharati went to Katwa. Mahaprabhu followed later to take sannyas. Nityananda, Mukunda Datta and Chandrasekhara accompanied him and performed all the rituals.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.17.272-3)

Afterwards, Mahaprabhu became frantic to see Vrindavan and set off in that direction. However, Nityananda tricked him into going to the bank of the Ganges opposite Shantipur, in the meantime, sending Chandrasekhara with a message for the people of Nabadwip that Mahaprabhu had taken sannyas and was in Shantipur.

The children showed Mahaprabhu the way to the Ganges, and he set off in that direction, completely absorbed in Krishna consciousness. Nityananda Prabhu said to Chandrasekhara, “Go immediately to Advaita Acharya and tell him that I am coming there with the Lord. Tell him to wait for us with a boat. Then go to Nabadwip and fetch Sachi Mata and the devotees.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.3.19-22)

Chandrasekhara did as he was commanded and brought Sachi Mata to Advaita’s house in a palanquin. The Nabadwip devotees also accompanied them.

In the morning, Acharyaratna put Sachi in a palanquin and set off to Shantipur in the company of the other devotees.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.3.137)

When Mahaprabhu came back from South India to Puri, he sent Kala Krishna Das (whom he had rescued from the Bhattahari women) with Nityananda and some other devotees to inform the Bengali Vaishnavas of his return. Kala Krishna Das met with Chandrasekhara on that occasion. Chandrasekhara also regularly accompanied the other devotees to Puri to spend Caturmasya with Mahaprabhu.He participated with him in all the pastimes there, such as cleaning the Gundicha temple, playing watersports in Narendra Sarovara, etc.

[Excerpted from "Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]

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