Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Death of Gauranga's Father and Marriage

While Gauranga was still a student, his father died. Gauranga then married Lakshmi, the daughter of Vallabhacharya. He excelled in knowledge and even defeated a reputed scholar of a nearby province. He made a tour of the eastern region of Bengal and received many valuable gifts from pious and generous householders. On his return he heard that his wife had died of snake-bite during his absence. He then married Vishnupriya.[1]

The Turning Point in Gauranga's Life

In 1509, Gauranga went on a pilgrimage to Gaya, in northern India, with his companions. Here he met Isvar Puri, an ascetic of the order of Madhvacharya, and took him as his guru. A marvellous change came in his life - he became a devotee of Lord Krishna. His pride of scholastics disappeared. He shouted and chanted, "Krishna, Krishna! Hari Bol, Hari Bol!". He laughed, wept, jumped, and danced in ecstasy, fell on the ground and rolled in the dust, never ate or drank.
Isvar Puri then gave Gauranga the mantra of Lord Krishna. He always remained in a meditative mood, forgetting to take food. Tears trickled down his eyes as he chanted again and again, "Lord Krishna, my Father! Where art Thou? I can't live without Thee. Thou art my sole refuge, my solace. Thou art my real father, friend, and Guru. Reveal Thy form to me ..." Sometimes Gauranga would gaze with vacant eyes, sit in the position of meditation, and concealed his tears from companions. So consumed was his love for Lord Krishna. Gauranga wanted to go to Brindavan, but his companions forcefully took him back to Nabadwip.[1]

Scholastic Career

In His eighth year. He was admitted into the Tol of Gangadas Pandit in Ganganagar close by the village of Mayapur. In two years, He became well read in Sanskrit Grammar and Rhetoric. His readings after that were of the nature of self-study in His Own house, where He had found all important books belonging to His father who was a Pandit himself. It appears that He read the Smriti on His own, and the Nyaya also, in competition with His friends who were then studying under the celebrated Pandit Raghunath Siromani.
Now, after the tenth year of His age, Chaitanya became a passable scholar in Grammar, Rehotiric, the Smrti and Nyaya. It was after this that His elder brother Vishwarup left home and accepted the asram (status) of a sannyasi (ascetic). Chaitanya, though a very young boy, consoled His parents saying that He would serve them with a view to please God. Just after that, His father left this world. His mother was exceedingly sorry, and Mahaprabhu, with His usually contented appearance, consoled His widowed mother.

It was at the age of fourteen or fifteen that Mahaprabhu was married to Laksmhi Devi, the daughter of Ballabha Acharya, also of Nadia. He was at this age considered as one of the best scholars of Nadia, the renowned seat of Nyaya philosophy and Sakskrit learning. Not to speak of the smarta pandits, the naiyaiks were all afraid of confronting Him in literary discussions. Being a married man, He went to Eastern Bengal on the banks of the Padma for acquirement of wealth. There He displayed His learning and obtained a good sum of money. It was at this time that He preached Vaishnavism at intervals. After teaching him the principles of Vaishnavism, He ordered Tapan Misra to go and live in Benares. During His residence in East Bengal, His wife Lakshmi Devi left this world from the effects of snakebite. On returning home, He found His mother in a mourning state. He consoled her with a lecture on the uncertainty of human affairs. It was at His mother's request that He married Vishnupriya, the daughter of Rakj pandit Sanatan Misra. His comrades joined Him on His reutrn from pravas, or sojourn. He was now so renowned that He was considered to be the best pandit in Nadia. Keshab Misra of Kashmere, who has called himself the Great Digvijayi, came to Nadia with a view to discuss with the pandits, of that place. Afraid of the so-called conquering pandit, the tol professors of Nadia left their town on pretence of invitation. Keshab met Mahaprabhu at the Barokonaghat in Mayapura, and after a very short discussion with Him he got defeated by the boy and mortification obliged him to decampt. Nimai pandit was now the most important Pandit of His times.
It was at the age of sixteen or seventeen that He travelled to Gaya with a host of His students, and there took His spiritual inititation from Iswar Puri, a Vaishnava sannyasi, and a disciple of the renowned Madhavendra Puri. Upon His return to Nadia, Nimai Pandit turned out a religious preacher and His religious nature became so strongly represented that Avdaita Prabhu, Sribas and the others who had before the birth of Chaitanya already accepted the Vaishnava faith, were astonished at the change of the young man. He was then no more a contending naiyaika, a wrangling smarta and a criticising rhetorician. He swooned at the name of Krishna and behaved as an inspired man under the influence of His religious sentiment. It has been described by Murari Gupta, an eye witness that, He showed His heavenly powers in the house of Srivas Pandit in the presence of hundreds of His followers who were mostly well-read scholars. It was at this time that He opened a nocturnal school of Kirtan in the compound of Srivas Pandit with His sincere followers. There He preached, there He sang, there He danced and there He expressed all sorts of religious feelings. Nityananda Prabhu who was then a preacher of Vaishnavism and who had then completed his travels all over India, joined Him by that time. In fact, a host of Pandit preachers of Vaishnavism all sincere at heart, came and joined Him from different parts of Bengal. Nadia now became the regular seat of a host of Vaishnava Acharyas whose mission it was to spiritualize mankind with the highest influence of the Vaishnava creed.[2]