Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Tactics with Vallabha Bhaṭṭa

Hare Krsna,

CC Antya 7.53 — Knowing that Vallabha Bhaṭṭa’s heart was full of pride, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu spoke these words, hinting at how one can learn about devotional service. [Vallabha Bhaṭṭa was thinking:] “I am a great Vaiṣṇava. Having learned all the conclusions of Vaiṣṇava philosophy, I can understand the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and explain it very well.” Such pride had existed for a long time within the mind of Vallabha Bhaṭṭa, but as he heard the preaching of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, his pride was cut down.

Lord Caitanya, being the Supreme Lord of all living and non-living entities, does not want His devotees to be proud of anything. In BG 16.4, Lord Krsna tells Arjuna

“Arrogance, pride, anger, conceit, harshness and ignorance-these qualities belong to those of demonic nature, O son of Prtha.”

During the rasa dance when the gopis felt proud of their good fortune of being able to dance with Lord Krsna, Lord Krsna disappeared from the scene. He did so to make the pride of the gopis go away. Similarly in this instance, Lord Caitanya did not appreciate Vallabha Bhatta’s pride, and wanted to cut it down. In a way, Lord Caitanya was telling him that “You may be proud of your limited knowledge, but there is something higher than this. Don’t be so proud of yourself.” In a way, this is also the Lord’s mercy upon Vallabha Bhatta by bestowing upon him the true knowledge of pure devotional service.

As I meditated upon this tactic employed by Lord Caitanya, I cannot marvel enough the utter humility of the Lord. He is so humble that never once did He mention that all knowledge emanates from Him. Lord Caitanya did not tell Vallabha Bhatta that he should believe the Lord simply because the Lord is telling him. On the other hand, the Lord gives credits to His devotees by mentioning that He learned about pure devotional service from His devotees. The Lord attributes His understanding of devotional service to the following devotees:

CC Antya 7.38-39:  “The transcendental mellows of ecstatic love are personified by Svarūpa Dāmodara. By his association I have understood Vṛndāvana’s transcendental mellow of conjugal love. The unalloyed love of the gopīs and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is without any trace of material lust. The criterion of such transcendental love is that its only purpose is to satisfy Kṛṣṇa.”

CC Antya 7.16-19: “I have no chance of knowing what kṛṣṇa-bhakti is. Nevertheless, My mind has become purified because I have associated with Advaita Ācārya…”

CC Antya 7.20-22: “Lord Nityānanda Prabhu, the avadhūta, is also directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is always intoxicated with the madness of ecstatic love. Indeed, He is an ocean of love of Kṛṣṇa.”

CC Antya 7.20-22: “Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya perfectly knows the six philosophical theses. He is therefore the spiritual master of the entire world in teaching the six paths of philosophy.”

CC Antya 7.23-24: “Rāmānanda Rāya is the ultimate knower of the transcendental mellows of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s devotional service. He has instructed Me that Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Through the mercy of Rāmānanda Rāya, I have understood that ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa is the highest goal of life and that spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa is the highest perfection.”

CC Antya 7.45-46: “Completely distinct from love of Kṛṣṇa in opulence, pure love of Kṛṣṇa is on the highest level. On the surface of the world there is no devotee greater than Uddhava. Uddhava desires to take on his head the dust of the gopīs’ lotus feet. I have learned about all these transcendental loving affairs of Lord Kṛṣṇa from Svarūpa Dāmodara.”

CC Antya 7.48-52: “Haridāsa Ṭhākura, the teacher of the holy name, is the most exalted of all pure devotees. Every day he chants 300,000 holy names of the Lord. I have learned about the glories of the Lord’s holy name from Haridāsa Ṭhākura, and by his mercy I have understood these glories. Ācāryaratna, Ācāryanidhi, Gadādhara Paṇḍita, Jagadānanda, Dāmodara, Śaṅkara, Vakreśvara, Kāśīśvara, Mukunda, Vāsudeva, Murāri and many other devotees have descended in Bengal to preach to everyone the glories of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa and the value of love for Him. I have learned from them the meaning of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa.”

In this way, Lord Caitanya proves the supremacy of pure devotional service by quoting scriptural references. He quotes both the sastra as well as His pure devotees. This is a great lesson for us, especially for those engaged in preaching. A preacher should always support his statements from guru, sadhu and sastra. There is no question of “I think so.” Every statement must be based upon scripture. I am therefore amazed that Lord Caitanya did not mention that He is the Supreme Lord Himself. He truly exemplified the mood of a pure devotee and did not pretend to be a master and knower of everything. He very humble said to Vallabha Bhatta “My dear Vallabha Bhaṭṭa, you are a learned scholar. Kindly listen to Me. I am a sannyāsī of the Māyāvāda school. Therefore I have no chance of knowing what kṛṣṇa-bhakti is.”

In this way, the Lord taught us how to live by this particular teaching trnad api sunicena taror iva sahisnuna. One should be more humble than a grass and more tolerant than a tree. One should not expect personal honor but must be always prepared to give all respect to others. Only then can one chant the holy name of the Lord. (Siksastaka 3)

On another note, I realized that Vallabha Bhatta was unaware of Lord Caitanya’s true position. In couple of places, he said “Therefore it is evident that You have been empowered by Lord Kṛṣṇa” and “There may be many all-auspicious incarnations of the Personality of Godhead, but who other than Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa can bestow love of God upon the surrendered souls?’ ” His statements reflect that he thinks Lord Caitanya and Lord Krsna are different. Otherwise why would he mention that Lord Caitanya is empowered by Lord Krsna? The truth is Lord Caitanya and Lord Krsna are non-different, and the same Supreme Personality of Godhead

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

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