Life and Teachings of Lord Gauranga:
Gauranga's Birth and Parentage:
His father was a pious Brahmin immigrant from Sylhet, Bangaldesh, who settled in Nabadwip in the Nadia district of West Bengal north of Kolkata by the holy Ganges, and his mother was the daughter of the scholar Nilambar Chakraborty.
He was the tenth child of his parents and was named Viswambar. Before his birth, his mother lost a number of children. So, he was given the name "Nimai" after the bitter Neem tree as a protection against evil influences. The neighbors called him "Gaur" or "Gauranga" (Gaur = fair; Anga = body) because of his fair-complexion.
Gauranga's Boyhood and Education:
Gauranga mastered all branches of Sanskrit learning such as grammar, logic, literature, rhetoric, philosophy and theology. He then started a 'Tol' or place of learning at the age of 16 - the youngest professor to be in charge of a 'Tol.'
Gauranga was a kind and compassionate, and a pure and gentle youth. He was a friend of the poor, and lived a very simple life.
Death of Gauranga's Father and Marriage:
The Turning Point in Gauranga's Life:
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.
Gauranga Becomes an Ascetic or 'Sannyasin':
So, at the age of 24, Gauranga was initiated to sainthood by Swami Keshava Bharati under the name of 'Krishna Chaitanya.' His mother, the tender-hearted Sachi, was heartbroken. But Chaitanya consoled her in every possible way and carried out her wishes. He bore deep love and reverence for his mother till the end of his life.
Gauranga went on to became a great Vaishnava preacher. He disseminated the doctrines and principles of Vaishnavism far and wide. His companions Nityananda, Sanatan, Rupa, Swarup Damodar, Advaitacharya, Sribas, Haridas, Murari, Gadadhar and others helped Chaitanya in his mission.
Krishna Chaitanya’s Pilgrimages:
Gauranga visited the Tirupathi hills, Kancheepuram and the famous Srirangam on the banks of the Cauvery. From Srirangam he proceeded to Madurai, Rameswaram and Kanyakumari. He also visited Udipi, Pandharpur and Nasik. Up north, he visited Vrindavan, bathed in the Yamuna, and in several sacred pools, and visited the various shrines for worship. He prayed and danced in ecstasy to his heart's content. He also visited Nabadwip, his birthplace. At last Gauranga returned to Puri and settled there.
The Last Days of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
One day, in a fit of devotional ecstasy, he jumped into the water of Bay of Bengal at Puri, imagining the sea to be the holy river Yamuna. As his body was in an emaciated condition, owing to constant fasts and austerities, it floated on the water and fell into the net of a fisherman, who was fishing at night. The fisherman was extremely glad thinking he caught a big fish, and dragged the net to the shore with difficulty. He was disappointed to find a human corpse in the net. When the 'corpse' made a faint sound, the fisherman was frightened and abandoned the body. As he was slowly walking along the shore with trembling feet, he met Swaroopa and Ramananda, who were searching for their master from sunset. Swaroopa asked him if he had seen Gauranga and the fisherman narrated his story. Then Swaroopa and Ramananda hurried to the place, removed Gauranga from the net and placed him on the ground. When they sang the name of Hari, Gauranga regained his consciousness.
Before he died, Lord Gauranga said, "The chanting of Krishna's Name is the chief means of attaining Krishna's feet in the Kali Yuga. Chant the name while sitting, standing, walking, eating, in bed and everywhere, at any time. Gauranga passed away in the year 1534.
Spreading the Gospel of Sri Chaitanya:In the 20th century, the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were greatly revived and brought to the West by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is considered an incarnate of Sri Chaitanya, and credited for founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) which spread Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's bhakti tradition and the famous 'Hare Krishna' mantra throughout the world.
Based on the biography of Sri Krishna Chaitanya Manaprabhu by Swami Sivananda