Netiher intelligence nor scholarly deeds, Devotion is all He needs
Kaveri, cascading from the gurgling spring of Brahmagiri Hills in Karnataka, dances along its way with youthful energy, rolling, bouncing and touching the lives of every being it meets. The lifeline of the farmers living along its banks, revered as the Ganges of the South, Kaveri widens while with a sandy bed, making its grand entry into Tiruchirappalli. It flows to the north as Kollidam while the southern branch retains the name Kaveri. Both of them flow around, cradling the sacred island of Ranga Khsetra or Sri Rangam, the abode of Sri Ranganath Swamy, the seat of the ‘Sri’ Vaishnavas. The world’s largest functioning Hindu temple, the majestic Ranganathswamy Temple is a significant archaeological and epigraphical site, with 21 gopurams, towers gateways, shrines, pavilions, water tanks and the abode of Ranganathswamy, lying on a magnificient bed made by the thousand headed serpent Sesha Naga and Goddess Lakshmi sitting beside Him.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, during his tour of South India, visited Kurma Kshetra in Andhra Pradesh, Bhadrachala, crossed Godavari, Trimanga Nagar near Vijaywada, Tirupati Tirumala, Kanchipuram, Pakshi Teertham, and arrived in Sri Rangam. Chanting, praying, singing loudly, dancing, and losing himself in sankirtan, drawing everyone passing by towards him, immersing them in the ecstatic outpour of love of Sri Krishna. He spent those four months of the rainy season, Chaturmasya, in Sri Rangam, at the home of a Sri Vaishnava brahmana named Vyenkata Bhatta discussing the transcendental pastimes of Sri Krishna. He would bathe in the sacred Kaveri River daily and visit the temple to see Sri Ranganatha Swami. Many hundreds of thousands of people from various parts of India came to Sri Rangam to see the beauty of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His ecstatic love for Lord Krishna. Every day, local Vaishnava brahmanas would invite Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to their homes for lunch.
In Sri Ranga Kshetra, Mahaprabhu noticed a brahmin vaishnava who used to visit the temple every day and recite the entire text of Srimad Bhagavad Gita. The Brahmin would read every single one of all the eighteen chapters, completely immersed in divine ecstasy. But he could not pronounce all the words correctly. The brahmins, devotees and people around looked down on him and used to close their ears when they heard him sing the verses aloud. People criticized him, people laughed at him, people joked about him, but he couldn’t be bothered. Without a care, he continued his daily reading religiously. While reading, the Brahmin experienced divine joy and his body would undergo the asta sattvik transcendental transformations. The hairs on his body stood on their ends, tears welled up in his eyes, and his body trembled and perspired as he read. keha hase, keha ninde, taha nahi mane
avista hana gita paḍe anandita mane
Due to his incorrect pronunciation, people sometimes criticized him and laughed at him, but he did not care. He was full of ecstasy due to reading the Bhagavad-gītā and was personally very happy.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in awe looking at the devotional state of the Brahmin. Amazed, he ran up to the Brahmin.
mahaprabhu puchila tanre, suna, mahasaya kon artha jani tomara eta sukha haya
(Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked the brahmin, “My dear sir, why are you so enraptured in ecstatic love? Which portion of the Bhagavad Gita fills you with such divine joy and gives you such transcendental pleasure?”)
Startled, the brahmin turned to look at the person beside him. Seeing an attractive sanyasi beside him, whose body radiated like molten gold, eyes filled with compassion, he was mesmerized. Bowing down before him, the Brahmin replied humbly, “I am illiterate. I haven’t read any scriptures, nor do I have the intellect to interpret the sacred texts. But my Guru has instructed me to read the Bhagavad Gita every day and so I am only following his orders. When I read the verses, the scene of the field of Kurukshetra before the great war of Mahabharata flashes in front of my eyes. I see Sri Krishna as the charioteer, sitting in front of the chariot, holding the reins of the horses in His hand and instructing Arjuna. The most attractive form of Sri Krishna, so magnificient, dazzles my mind. The splendid charm of His dark hued body, His beautifully crafted features takes rein of my senses.”
Arjunera rathe Krishna haye rajju-dhara
Vasiyachhe hate totra shyamala sundara
(Actually I see only lord Krishna sitting on a chariot as Arjuna’s charioteer. Taking the reins in His hands, He appears dark and very beautiful)
Yaavat padon, taavat paana taanra darashana
Ei lagi gita patha na chhade mora mana
(“As long as I read the Bhagavad-Gita, I simply see the Lord’s beautiful features. It is for this reason that I am reading the Bhagavad-Gita, and my mind cannot be distracted from this.”)
On listening to the Brahmin, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu embraced him and exclaimed,
gita pathe tomara i adhikara
tumi se janaha ei gitara artha sara -Chaitanya Charitamrita
(Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu told the brahmaṇa, “Indeed, you are an authority in the reading of the Bhagavad-Gita. Whatever you know constitutes the real essence of the Bhagavad-Gita.”)
Touched by Mahaprabhu’s words, tears rolled down his eyes and the Brahmin prostrated before Mahaprabhu, hugging His lotus feet and declared, “My joy has increased manifold on seeing you. I take it that you are none other than the same Lord Krishna.”
Sri Krishna is attracted by faith and devotion. No amount of intellect and scholarship or meditation can charm the Lord if the soul is not surrendered. Sri Krishna says to Narada:
nahan tisthami vaikunthe yoginam hridayesu va
tatra tisthami narada yatra gayanti mad bhaktah (“My dear Narada, actually I do not reside in My abode, Vaikuṇṭha, nor do I reside within the hearts of the yogis. I reside in that place where My pure devotees sing My holy name.”)
Image Courtesy: Truptika Patnaik