Gaura-Purnima, or the full moon day on which Lord Chaitanya appeared on Earth. Avanti’s spiritual ethos is based upon his teachings and so here is a little bit about this most incredible personality…
Lord Chaitanya was born in the year 1486 AD in Nadiya, then East India’s epicentre for learning and scholarship. He was named Nimai (since he was born under a Neem tree) and was later given other names such as Visvambhara (one who maintains the universe) and finally Krishna Chaitanya.
At an early age he founded what quickly became the region’s foremost school, widely renowned for its teaching in logic, grammar and rhetoric. He went on to lead an early civil disobedience movement, contesting religious sectarianism. In later life, he turned his attention to spiritual ideals that transcended social and religious boundaries and thus paved the way for a great spiritual renaissance. What to speak of the historical context of the world then, even for today’s state of the world this was much-needed and ground-breaking stuff.
He taught that the essence of education is to appreciate how everything has a special relationship with the divine. Such understanding culminates in a profound spiritual realisation of love, compassion and selflessness – the original, pure nature of every being. He emphasised spiritual equality and advocated that humanity can be united through a shared love of God, expressed through the singing of God’s many names, specifically, the chanting of the Maha-Mantra (or the Great Mantra): Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The many scriptures of ancient India predict and describe Lord Chaitanya as the manifestation of God for our current age. Due to unfortunate and degraded nature of this age, the process of spiritual realisation is made most easy by him – simply chanting God’s names. This is in stark contrast to the very severe and austere practices of bygone ages. Lord Chaitanya is Lord Krishna come in the role of his foremost devotee, Sri Radha. Thus he takes on her golden hue and mood of loving service to Krishna. In this way, through his own example, Lord Chaitanya chalks out the path of loving service to God.
During his life of 48 years, he spent approximately 24 years in the town of Jagannatha-puri, famous for its Krishna temple, which even to this day conducts the largest street procession in the world (Ratha-yatra), attracting millions of people – and which we replicate in our schools on a slightly smaller scale. Many of the most famous temples of India were either intimately connected with Lord Chaitanya, founded by his disciples or have commemorations of Lord Chaitanya from the time he toured India and inundated the country with the chanting of God’s names.
There were many miracles which formed part of Lord Chaitanya’s life, such as the miracle of singing and dancing with the wild animals of the Jarikhanda Forest. Historical records also evidence extraordinary philosophical and interfaith dialogues which in simple language explain the most profound truths.
Chaitanya’s exemplary life heralded the dawn of an inclusive spiritual resurgence that continues to inspire people all around the world.
Article written by Nitesh Gor, Chief Executive, Avanti Schools Trust