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Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana Movement

"Glory to the Sri Krsna sankirtana, which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This sankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious."

"As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the incarnation in the Age of Kali is Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who spread the worship of Krsna by the sankirtana movement (congregational chanting of the holy names) and spread Krsna consciousness throughout India. He predicted that this culture of sankirtana would be broadcast all over the world, from town to town and village to village. Lord Caitanya as the incarnation of Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, is described secretly but not directly in the confidential parts of the revealed scriptures, such as the Upanisads, Mahabharata, Bhagavatam, etc. The devotees of Lord Krsna are much attracted by the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya. This avatara of the Lord does not kill the miscreants, but delivers them by His causeless mercy."

Bhagavad-gita 4:8 Purport

"This prediction of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu's is now actually coming to pass. The Krsna consciousness movement is being distributed all over the world through the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, and people who were leading confused, chaotic lives are now feeling transcendental happiness. They are finding peace in sankirtana, and therefore they are acknowledging the supreme benefit of this movement. This is the blessing of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His prediction is now factually being fulfilled, and those who are sober and conscientious are appreciating the value of this great movement."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 9:40

"Sankirtana means chanting of the holy name of the Lord. The Hare Krsna movement is not a new movement as people sometimes mistakenly think. The Hare Krsna movement is present in every millennium of Lord Brahma's life, and the holy name is chanted in all the higher planetary systems.... The sankirtana movement that was started in this world five hundred years ago by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is therefore not a new movement. Sometimes, because of our bad luck, this movement is stopped, but Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His servants again start the movement for the benefit of the entire word or, indeed, the entire universe."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7:15:71 Purport

"The entire Vedic civilization aims at satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This was possible in Satya-yuga by meditation upon the Supreme Lord within the core of one's heart and in Treta-yuga by the performance of costly yajnas. The same goal could be achieved in Dvapara-yuga by worship of the Lord in the temple, and in this age of Kali one can achieve the same goal by performing sankirtana-yajna. Therefore one who has education and wealth must use them to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by helping the sankirtana movement that has already begun--the Hare Krsna movement, or Krsna consciousness movement. All educated and wealthy persons must join this movement, since money and education are meant for service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If money and education are not engaged in the service of the Lord, these valuable assets must be engaged in the service of maya."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 7:14:16 Purport

As stated in the Vedas, when one performs great sacrifices he must give charity, not only to the brahmanas, but also to the ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras. In this age of Kali, however, the great sacrifice is the performance of sankirtana-yajna. Distribution of prasada has replaced distribution of money, as no one has sufficient money to distribute, but if we distribute krsna-prasada as far as possible, this is more valuable. Any householder, regardless of his position, can perform this sankirtana-yajna without expenditure. All the family members can sit down together and simply clap their hands and chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Somehow or other, everyone can manage to perform such a yajna and distribute prasada to the people in general. That is quite sufficient for this age of Kali. The Krsna consciousness movement is based on this principle: chant the Hare Krsna mantra at every moment, as much as possible, both inside and outside of the temples, and, as far as possible, distribute prasada. This process can be accelerated with the cooperation of state administrators and those who are producing the country's wealth. Simply by liberal distribution of prasada and sankirtana, the whole world can become peaceful and prosperous.

"After some time the Lord again started on His tour towards northern India, and He decided to visit Vrndavana and its neighboring places. He passed through the jungles of Jharikhanda (Madhya Bharata), and all the wild animals also joined His sankirtana movement. The wild tigers, elephants, bears and deer all together accompanied the Lord, and the Lord accompanied them in sankirtana. By this He proved that by the propagation of the sankirtana movement (congregational chanting and glorifying of the name of the Lord) even the wild animals can live in peace and friendship, and what to speak of men who are supposed to be civilized. No man in the world will refuse to join the sankirtana movement. Nor is the Lord's sankirtana movement restricted to any caste, creed, color or species. Here is direct evidence of His great mission: He allowed even the wild animals to partake in His great movement."

Srimad-Bhagavatam, Introduction

"The great Mayavadi sannyasi Prakasananda inquired from the Lord as to the reason for His preferring the sankirtana movement to the study of the Vedanta-sutra. Prakasananda said that it is the duty of a sannyasi to read the Vedanta-sutra. What caused the Lord to indulge in sankirtana?

After this inquiry, the Lord submissively replied: "I have taken to the sankirtana movement instead of the study of Vedanta because I am a great fool." The Lord thus represented Himself as one of the numberless fools of this age who are absolutely incapable of studying the Vedanta philosophy. The fools' indulgence in the study of Vedanta has caused so much havoc in society. The Lord thus continued: "And because I am a great fool, My spiritual master forbade Me to play with Vedanta philosophy. He said that it is better that I chant the holy name of the Lord, for that would deliver Me from material bondage.

"In this age of Kali there is no other religion but the glorification of the Lord by utterance of His holy name, and that is the injunction of all the revealed scriptures...

"So on the order of My spiritual master, I chant the holy name of Hari, and I am now mad after this holy name. Whenever I utter the holy name I forget Myself completely, and sometimes I laugh, cry and dance like a madman. I thought that I had actually gone mad by this process of chanting, and therefore I asked My spiritual master about it. He informed Me that this was the real effect of chanting the holy name, which produces a transcendental emotion that is a rare manifestation. It is the sign of love of God, which is the ultimate end of life. Love of God is transcendental to liberation [mukti], and thus it is called the fifth stage of spiritual realization, above the stage of liberation. By chanting the holy name of Krsna one attains the stage of love of God, and it was good that fortunately I was favored with the blessing."

On hearing this statement from the Lord, the Mayavadi sannyasi asked the Lord what was the harm in studying the Vedanta along with chanting the holy name. Prakasananda Sarasvati knew well that the Lord was formerly known as Nimai Pandita, a very learned scholar of Navadvipa, and His posing as a great fool was certainly to some purpose. Hearing this inquiry by the sannyasi, the Lord smiled and said, "My dear sir, if you do not mind, I will answer your inquiry."

All the sannyasis there were very much pleased with the Lord for His honest dealings, and they unanimously replied that they would not be offended by whatever He replied. The Lord then spoke as follows:

"Vedanta-sutra consists of transcendental words or sounds uttered by the transcendental Personality of Godhead. As such, in the Vedanta there cannot be any human deficiencies like mistake, illusion, cheating or inefficiency. The message of the Upanisads is expressed in the Vedanta-sutra, and what is said there directly is certainly glorified. Whatever interpretations have been given by Sankaracarya have no direct bearing on the sutra, and therefore such commentation spoils everything.

"The word Brahman indicates the greatest of all, which is full with transcendental opulences, superior to all. Brahman is ultimately the Personality of Godhead, and He is covered by indirect interpretations and established as impersonal. Everything that is in the spiritual world is full of transcendental bliss, including the form, body, place and paraphernalia of the Lord. All are eternally cognizant and blissful. It is not the fault of the Acarya Sankara that he has so interpreted Vedanta, but if someone accepts it, then certainly he is doomed. Anyone who accepts the transcendental body of the Personality of Godhead as something mundane certainly commits the greatest blasphemy."

The Lord thus spoke to the sannyasi almost in the same way that He spoke to the Bhattacarya of Puri, and by forceful arguments He nullified the Mayavada interpretations of the Vedanta-sutra. All the sannyasis there claimed that the Lord was the personified Vedas and the Personality of Godhead. All the sannyasis were converted to the cult of bhakti, all of them accepted the holy name of the Lord Sri Krsna, and they dined together with the Lord in the midst of them. After this conversion of the sannyasis, the popularity of the Lord increased at Varanasi, and thousands of people assembled to see the Lord in person. The Lord thus established the primary importance of Srimad-Bhagavata-dharma, and He defeated all other systems of spiritual realization. After that everyone at Varanasi was overwhelmed with the transcendental sankirtana movement.

Srimad-Bhagavatam, Introduction

Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.