Pradyumna Misra, cousin and follower of Sri Chaitanya, gives the most reliable information of their genealogy in the biography of Sri Chaitanya, “Sri Krishna Chaitanyodayavali (lst Sarga)”. One Madhukara Misra migrated from Western India and settled at Badagang in Sylhet. One of the younger sons named Upendra Misra lived at Gupta-Brindavana or Dãeca Dakshin on the eastern bank of the river Iksu near the Kalinga hill in the same district, and it was his son Jaganntha, who had studied grammer and other branches of Sanskrit learning, came to Navadvipa and married Sachi Devi, daughter of Nilambara Chakravarti. Krishnadsa Kaviraja in his Chaitanya Charitamrita writes as follows of Upendra Misra “Upendra Misra of Sylhet, a learned Vaishnava, rich and possessed of all good virtues, was the father of seven saintly sons named Kams ri, Paramnanda, Padmanabha, Sarvesvara, Jagannitha, Janardana and Trailokyanitha. Jagannatha came to Nadia (Navadvipa) to live by the holy Ganges” (C. C. Adi XII 58). Pradyumna Misra and Krishnadasa hold the same view about the sons of Upendra except that the former places Jagannatha third among the brothers, but Pradyumna’s account is preferable to that of Krishnadasa as the former is unlikely to place his father and uncle in their wrong chronological order. Kavikar-pura in his Gaurganoddesadipika also mentions upendra Misra as being the grandfather of Sri Chaitanya (G. G. 35).
Nilambara Chakravarti, maternal grand-father of Sri Chaitanya, was an inhabitant of Belpukur which was in the neighbourhood of old Nadia. According to Nityananda das’s Prem Vilasa (1600 AD.) Nilambara Chakravarti had two sons, Yogesvara Pandit and Ratnagarbha (7th Vilasa). He had also two daughters, Sachi Devi, mother of Sri Chaitanya and Bhagavathi whose name, we find in Kavikarnapura’s Chaitanyachandrodaya Nataka (Act 1V) Nilambara Chakravarti’s brother’s son, Jagannatha, became a follower of Sri Chaitanya, being the disciple of Gaddhara Pandit. He was subsequently the principal of the Tota Gopinatha temple at Pun and was known in the Vaishnava community as Mamu Gosvmi or uncle of Sri Chaitanya. The collateral descendants of Nilambara are now living at Mogdoha in the district of Faridpur, in East Pakistan.
Vaishnavism occupies a very important place in the world of Hindu philosophy and religious thought and practice. The Adwaita system as expounded by the great master Sri Shankara is now universally known. But, unfortunately, there is a general impression that it is practically exhaustive of Hindu philosophy. It is only when other great Hindu philosophical systems are studied that one can fully realise the magnificent contribution of India to the philosophical thought and religions concepts of the world. In South India, the great Rainanuja developed the Visishtãdwaita system, which can be called South Indian Vaishnavism and which must really be traced to the Alwars who preceded Him. There is close affinity between the Bhakti cult expounded in the hymns of the AIwars and Bengal Vaishnavism, though the latter has several unique features. Undoubtedly, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the greatest name in Bengal Vaishnavism. He was born in Navadvipa, the famous centre of learning in Bengal towards the end of the 15th century, at a time when true religion was at a very low ebb. He began His life as a scholar and teacher. But the significant part of His life began with His initiation to the Bhakti Cult by the Vaishnava savant, lswara Pun. From that time, His life was surcharged with religious emotion, bordering on ecstasy, the like of which it is rare to find in the annals of any religion in the world. He lived in a state of God-intoxication. The fascinating story of His life is found in the contemporaneous biographies like Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita of Knishnadasa Kaviraja. But outside Bengal, His life and work are not so well known, because the biographies are mostly in Bengali. Dr. Sambidananda Das had done a great service to all lovers of true religion in writing the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprahhu in English. He has written it in a simple and attractive style unencumbered with details in an attempt to be exhaustive and at the same time not omitting any important event in His life or facet of His personality.
The value of this work is enhanced by the chapters which Dr. DAs has added to what may strictly be called the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahãprabhu, dealing with the Vaishnava conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and with Bhakti as experienced and expounded by Him. Bhaktirasa, which is practically the foundation of Bengal Vaishnava thought, has peculiar characteristics, which differ from the doctrines of orthodox writers of Hindu aesthetics, according to whom Bhakti is not a Rasa. Sri Rupa Goswami, in His brilliant work Z.”UJjvaIa
Neelamani” and Madhusudana Saraswati in his “Bhagavat Bhakti Rasayana” have propounded the doctrine of Bhakti as a Rasa greater than the other Rasas, which are of the world. Dr. DAs has touched upon the several steps which lead finally to Mahabhãva, which is the supreme manifestation of God-love. He has referred to the five ratis and the several mental states through which the devotee passes an his realisation of God and has given a birds - eye-view of the important concepts of Sri Chaitanya’s religious philosophy.
I deem it a privilege to have been asked by such an erudite scholar like Dr. S. Däs to write this brief foreword to his learned and interesting book. Its publication is particularly opportune at the present moment when everyone is dreaming of casteless and casteless society, because to a true Vaishnava according to the life and teaching of Sri Chaitanyn Mahaprabhu, there is neither caste nor class. I commend this book to ever lover of religion and devotee of God.
While in London in 1934 - 35 I wrote the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. I had the privilege of using two famous Libraries of London, ‘India Office Library’ and the ‘British Museum Library’ where I found the necessary materials for the book.
I was inspired by my Sri Gurudeva to present the life of Sri Chaitanya MahAprabbu to the Engligh knowing public.
I consulted Dr. L. D. Barnelt, MA. ,D.Litt., keeper of the Oriental section of the British Museum and accepted his valuable suggestions in preparing the work.
I relied on the authentic biographies of Sri Chaitanya Mahãprahhu, namely “Sri Chaitanya Charitämrita” by Krishnadãsa KavirAja, “ Sri Chaitanya Bhãgavata ‘‘ by Vrindavanadasa Thakura, “Sri Chaitanya Charita Mahakãvya” in Sanskrit by Murãri Gupta, “Chaitanya Charita Mahkävya” in Sanskrit by Kavikarnapura and other contemporaneous works I have tried to faithfully bring out the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahãprabhu as appearing in the said ancient biographies.
The readers may ask an explanation as to why I did not publish this book in these long years. The main reason being that my Sri Gurudeva for whose pleasure I wrote this hook passed away on the 1st January, 1937 while I was still in England. In his demise I lost the pleasure of my life for many years. Subsequently my profession at the Bar occupied most of my time.
During my pilgrimage to South India in October last to have Darshan of’ the temples and Deities which were once visited by Sri Chaitanya Mahäprabhu, I realised that there was a great demand for the English biography of Sri Chaitanya Mahäprabhu and I decided to publish this book on the next Dol Purnima which Coincided with 471st. Advent day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu I was very much encouraged by the President Acharyadeva of Sree Chaitanya Math, Tridandiswami Sripãd Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaj in hastening the publicatiofl, It is due to his insistence that this treatise is published, Srini5n Nandadujil BrahmachAri of the Madras Gaudiya Math and his colleagues kindly undertook the great responsibility of bringing out this edition.
I am really grateful to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Madras, Dr. P. V. Räjamannar who has graciously written a suitable foreword to this humble work. When I met him on the 20th of October, 1957 during my tour of South India, I was deeply impressed with his correct appreciation of devotional feelings of Sri Chaitanya Mahprabhu and naturally I requested him to favour ne with a foreword to this book, Tie learned Chief Justice readily complied with mi request
In my opinion, the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is unique in the religious history of the world. The Vaishnava worship and adore Him as God. Some regard Him as the greatest of all devotees. Others look upon Him as the greatest religious reformer. I may say without any fear of contradiction that the contribution of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu towards the development and perfection of devotional thoughts was supreme. None can add a word to what He said about devotion to God.
I did not attempt to write an exhaustive life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabbu. My only endeavour s to present the short life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in a way which will be intelligible to all persons. I am conscious of my short comings, and limitations which may stand in my way to present the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in its real perspective. The readers may be generous enough to ignore all my faults and accept all that is best.
I shall deem my labour worthwhile if my readers are benefited by reading the life and teachings of our Lord.
The reception received by the first edition of this book from all parts of the world is really heartening. The entire first edition was sold in a few months of its publication. Numerous demands and enquiries from different parts bf India and abroad, and lastly an order to purchase in bulk from the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, have prompted me to bring out a fresh edition to comply with the present demands from the public. The life and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are so unique, universally true and applicable to all ages to come that it cannot but appeal to the God-loving people seeking for realisation of absolute truth and communion with Godhead. The teachings of Sri Chaitanya MahAprabhu are not abstract speculation lying only in philosophy but they appeal to noble sentiments of pious people based on and supported by sound philosophy of life. In India Philosophical thoughts, is a vehicle bringing about a direct relationship between human soul and over-soul and anything short of that aim in life will not be considered as a philosophy worthy of its name.
The world needs a practical religion which will help us in adjustment of ourselves in the world and lead us to realisation of God. We cannot deceive ourselves by falsely pretending that we are making spiritual progress towards the realisation of God while we are actually retarding it. Sri Chaitanya mahaprabhu and his faith full follower practised in their own lives the bhakti cult through which they realised the direct fellowship with godhead and left for us a storehouse of their spiritual experience that is why the life of sri chaitanya mahaprabhu attracts the people by its own spiritual charm.
I have to record my sense of gratitude to my friend Sri S. K. Acharya barrister-at-Law who has carefully gone thorough the manuscript of this edition to avoid mistakes that crept in the first edition.
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