The Wise Astrologer
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted 19 March 2006]

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: His Transcendental Teachings (Part  II)

Patita Pavana das

This article was originally published in the Jyotish magazine Vidya in the year 1979.

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Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Holy Name - Chanting the Holy Name

During his youth, the great Mahaprabhu was known as Nimai Pandit. His learning and moon-like appearance attracted everyone to Him, and throughout Navadwip, His place of birth, He was a popular figure. Sri Vrindavanadas Thakur has recorded in his biography of the Lord called Chaitanya Bhagavat an incident regarding young Nimai's visit to an astrologer.

Upon arriving at the pandit's residence, Nimai inquired about His previous birth. The astrologer obligingly entered into meditation upon the Bala Gopala mantra and strained his sixth sense to gain a psychic glimpse into the Lord's past life. The more the jyotish shastri chanted sacred mantras, the more he became amazed to see swarms of incarnations of Godhead swimming about before his "third eye". Not only did he see Lord Krishna in His Mathura-Vrindavana lila, but also other avatars, including Vamana, Narasimha, Varaha, Kurma, Matsya, Parashurama and Ayodhyapati Ramachandra. Although these divine forms were seen hovering about the beautifully effulgent Nimai, the astrologer could not decipher the real import of the incident due to the Lord's maya, or covering potency. He did not realise that Sri Krishna Himself was sitting before him as a young brahmana. Puzzled, he considered that Nimai must be some superbeing or magician who had come to test his powers of prediction. He hid his confusion and politely requested the lad to come the next day. Nimai at once smiled and departed for the house of an old ascetic to make further divine "mischief".

It is recorded that Nimai Pandit would sometimes joke that in His past life He had been a pious and simple cowherd boy, and as a result reborn as a brahmana. This is of course an allusion to the Lord's previous earthly appearance as Sri Krishna of Gokula Vrindavana.

There is much shastric evidence that reveals Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to be Lord Krishna incarnate. For example, in the Srimad Bhagavatam it is foretold:

krishna varnam tvisakrishnam
sangopangastra parshadam
yagnai sankirtana prayair
yajanti hi sumedasah

"(In the Kali Yuga) Lord Krishna will appear as one whose bodily complexion is golden, along with his "weapons" or associates. He will be always engaged in sankirtana or chanting the holy names of the Lord. This method is certainly the best means of sacrifice (yajna) for the age." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.5.32)

After Lord Chaitanya accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) He traveled onward to Varanasi and there He preached the glories of nama sankirtana as the yuga dharma. There, an elevated soul, a Saraswat brahmana from Ramakeli in Bengal's Maldah District, approached Him for instruction. Now this brahmana had previously served as a minister under Nawab Hussain Shah, who had renamed him Dabir Khas. Once before this Dabir Khas had had the holy darshan of Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and just by this blessing he decided to take up ascetic life.

Through much difficulty, this Dabir Khas had been able to extricate himself from the Nawab's service, leaving behind a huge fortune in pure gold coins. Now as an ascetic babaji, Dabir Khas approached Lord Chaitanya with the sole intention of sitting at His lotus feet beside the sacred River Ganges. Thus for many days he drank through his ears the nectar of the Supreme Absolute Truth emanating from the lotus lips of the Lord. Now, having kicked aside a vast fortune as though it was garbage, he had found the true fortune of life's journey, Krishna-bhakti, in Lord Chaitanya's holy company. The treasure of pure love for Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, at once diminishes the illusory value of any amount of material wealth. Understanding His new devotee's single-minded devotion, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu changed his name to Sanatan Goswami. Today the name of Sanatan Goswami, as well as that of his younger brother Rupa Goswami, is dear to all Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

The conversation between Shrila Sanatan Goswami and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprahu fills more than one hundred thirty pages of books by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It was during these discussions that Shriman Mahaprabhuji related an allegorical story about a wise astrologer named Sarvajna, "the omniscient one". This story is originally found in the commentary on the fifth canto of the Shrimad Bhagavatam by the great acharya of dwaita-vada, Shri Madhvacharya of Udipi (Madhva Bhasya S.B. 5.5.10-13). Here is the story as the most fortunate Sanatan Ji heard it from the lotus lips of the Lord:

The Wise Astrologer
Once upon a time a very poor fellow paid a visit to the wise devotee-astrologer Sarvajna to have his fortune told. After carefully looking over this poor man's horoscope, Sarvajna was astonished to see his client in a poverty-stricken condition. "Why are you so unhappy?" exclaimed Sarvajna. "From your horoscope or kala chakra (lit. "wheel of time"), I can detect that a hidden treasure has been left to you by your father. However, the planetary positions indicate that your father could not disclose the location of this treasure to you because he passed away in a foreign land. So now you can search out this treasure and live happily.

The wise Sarvajna continued. "Do not search on the southern side of your house for there you will be attacked by a poisonous wasp. On the northern side danger lurks in the form of a large serpent. Searching on the western side will prove equally fruitless for there you'll find a yaksha or wicked spirit lying in wait. Luck will come to you only if you search on the eastern side of your house!"

By citing this story, Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahprabhu pointed out the forlorn and destitute condition of the living entity due to his unfortunate forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Lord Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As Bhagavan Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, aham bija prada pita. In other words, He is the supreme seed-giving Father. It therefore follows that we, His lost sons, are in dire need of the real treasure or pure love of God.

The southern side of the house represents materialistic rituals which are prescribed in the shastras for obtaining fruitive gain. The resultant attachment to the bodily concept of life and the subsequent rebirth in an endless whirlpool of samsara is symbolically indicated by the wasp. Truly one who is lost in the confusing cycle of repeated birth and death is stung at every moment by his own ignorance of his real treasure.

The northern side represents that system of yoga wherein mystic siddhis or fantastic subtle powers are awakened. It often happens that mystic yogis become materialistic and forget their real business of "linking to God through pure love" (this is the real import of the word yoga). These so-called yogis engage in austerities to achieve only subtle material advancement. Still other yogis forget their search fo the personal Absolute and lose sight of the spiritual individuality which is inherent and inborn in each atma. Because they annihilate their unique identities by merging into the limitless realms of sayujya, they also fail to reach the feet of the all-merciful Lord Sri Krishna. Because they are swallowed by His non-personal effulgence, it can be said that they have been attacked (and devoured by) a dangerous serpent.

The yaksha on the west represents the whimsical mind of the mental speculator who avoids the wise counsel of authoritative shastras. People possessing such mental attitudes love to invent various concocted means of attaining so-called perfection. Persons who are chained to mental gymnastics are like the puffed-up frog in the well who exploded while speculating that the ocean must be about the same size as the expanding bubble on his chin. Quite naturally these lost souls never reach the goal, but are forced by material nature to continue their mental speculation birth after birth. That is the analogy of the yaksha.

The wise astrologer Sarvajna advised the poor man to dig for the long-lost treasure on the eastern side where the sun rises. The eastern side represents pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. The supremely valuable treasure of Krishna-prema is discovered when our dormant personal relationship with the Supreme Lord is realised. By abandoning all material pursuits whether gross or subtle and by spontaneously offering everything and every act unto Sri Krishna, the real value of life is discovered. This is the sum and substance of Lord Chaitanya's teaching to Santana Goswami in the parable of the wise astrologer.

After instructing Sanatana, Mahaprabhu observed that the Goswami had achieved a high degree of enlightenment. Thus by Lord Chaitanya's mercy, Sanatana, who had kicked aside vast material wealth, went to Vrindavana to dig deeper into life's real treasure. There in the abode of Lord Krishna he wrote more than a hundred books which to this day guide sincere seekers on the transcendental path of spiritual realisation.

Back to Part I

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu: His Transcendental Teachings (Part II)/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
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