Lord Caitanya stayed at the house of Candraśekhara, a clerk, although a sannyāsī is not supposed to reside in a śūdra’s house. Five hundred years ago, especially in Bengal, it was the system that persons who were born in the families of brāhmaṇas were accepted as brāhmaṇas, and all those who took birth in other families—even the higher castes, namely, the kṣatriyas and vaiśyas—were considered śūdras, non-brāhmaṇas. Therefore although Śrī Candraśekhara was a clerk from a kāyastha family in upper India, he was considered a śūdra. Similarly, vaiśyas, especially those of the suvarṇa-vaṇik community, were accepted as śūdras in Bengal, and even the vaidyas, who were generally physicians, were also considered śūdras. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, however, did not accept this artificial principle, which was introduced in society by self-interested men, and later the kāyasthas, vaidyas and vaṇiks all began to accept the sacred thread, despite objections from the so-called brāhmaṇas.
Before the time of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the suvarṇa-vaṇik class was condemned by Ballāl Sena, who was then the King of Bengal, due to a personal grudge. In Bengal the suvarṇa-vaṇik class are always very rich, for they are bankers and dealers in gold and silver. Therefore, Ballāl Sena used to borrow money from a suvarṇa-vaṇik banker. Ballāl Sena’s bankruptcy later obliged the suvarṇa-vaṇik banker to stop advancing money to him, and thus Ballāl Sena became angry and condemned the entire suvarṇa-vaṇik society as belonging to the śūdra community. He tried to induce the brāhmaṇas not to accept the suvarṇa-vaṇiks as followers of the instructions of the Vedas under the brahminical directions, but although some brāhmaṇas approved of Ballāl Sena’s actions, others did not. Thus the brāhmaṇas also became divided amongst themselves, and those who supported the suvarṇa-vaṇik class were rejected from the brāhmaṇa community. At the present day the same biases are still being followed.
There are many Vaiṣṇava families in Bengal whose members, although not actually born brāhmaṇas, act as ācāryas by initiating disciples and offering the sacred thread as enjoined in the Vaiṣṇava tantras. For example, in the families of Ṭhākura Raghunandana Ācārya, Ṭhākura Kṛṣṇadāsa, Navanī Hoḍa and Rasikānanda-deva (a disciple of Śyāmānanda Prabhu), the sacred thread ceremony is performed, as it is for the caste Gosvāmīs, and this system has continued for the past three to four hundred years. Accepting disciples born in brāhmaṇa families, they are bona fide spiritual masters who have the facility to worship the śālagrāma-śilā, which is worshiped with the Deity. As of this writing, śālagrāma-śilā worship has not yet been introduced in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, but soon it will be introduced in all our temples as an essential function of arcana-mārga (Deity worship).