In the Western world, where the glories of Lord Caitanya are relatively unknown, one may inquire, "Who is Kṛṣṇa Caitanya?" The author of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, answers that question in the third verse of his book. Generally, in the Upaniṣads the Supreme Absolute Truth is described in an impersonal way, but the personal aspect of the Absolute Truth is mentioned in the Īśopaniṣad, where we find the following verse:
- hiraṇmayena pātreṇa satyasyāpihitaṁ mukham
- tat tvaṁ pūṣann apāvṛṇu satya-dharmāya dṛṣṭaye
"O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Kindly remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee." (Śrī Īśopaniṣad 15) The impersonalists do not have the power to go beyond the effulgence of God and arrive at the Personality of Godhead, from whom this effulgence is emanating. The Īśopaniṣad is a hymn to that Personality of Godhead. It is not that the impersonal Brahman is denied; it is also described, but that Brahman is revealed to be the glaring effulgence of the body of Lord Kṛṣṇa. And in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta we learn that Lord Caitanya is Kṛṣṇa Himself. In other words, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya is the basis of the impersonal Brahman. The Paramātmā, or Supersoul, who is present within the heart of every living entity and within every atom of the universe, is but the partial representation of Lord Caitanya. Therefore Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, being the basis of both Brahman and the all-pervading Paramātmā as well, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As such, He is full in six opulences: wealth, fame, strength, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. In short, we should know that He is Kṛṣṇa, God, and that nothing is equal to or greater than Him. There is nothing superior to be conceived. He is the Supreme Person.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, a confidential devotee taught for more than ten days continually by Lord Caitanya, wrote:
- namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te
- kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ
- (CC Madhya 19.53)
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, who is more magnanimous than any other avatāra, even Kṛṣṇa Himself, because He is bestowing freely what no one else has ever given—pure love of Kṛṣṇa."
Lord Caitanya's teachings begin from the point of surrender to Kṛṣṇa. He does not pursue the paths of karma-yoga or jñāna-yoga or haṭha-yoga but begins at the end of material existence, at the point where one gives up all material attachment. In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa begins His teachings by distinguishing the soul from matter, and in the Eighteenth Chapter He concludes at the point where the soul surrenders to Him in devotion. The Māyāvādīs would have all talk cease there, but at that point the real discussion only begins. As the Vedānta-sūtra says at the very beginning, athāto brahma jijñāsā: "Now let us begin to inquire about the Supreme Absolute Truth." Rūpa Gosvāmī thus praises Lord Caitanya as the most munificent incarnation of all, for He gives the greatest gift by teaching the highest form of devotional service. In other words, He answers the most important inquiries that anyone can make.