This Upanishad was published by the great pioneer of the Krishna-bhakti movement Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. The Thakur searched the length and breadth of Bengal to procure an original copy of the manuscript of this rare Upanishad, which describes the unique position and advent of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It also describes the glorious position and importance of the Maha-mantra, or the chanting of the divine name of Sri Krishna. He was finally provided a copy of the original handwritten manuscript from one Pandita Madhusudana Maharaja, of Sambala-Pura.
Upon the request of many Gaudiya Vaishnavas of the time, He wrote a lucid sanskrit commentary called Sri Chaitanya-Charanamrita, or the nectar of the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya. The first edition of this book was originally printed in Calcutta, Bengal by the Sri Chaitanya press in 1887.
It is to be noted that the great Sampradaya acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas and of the Krishna Consciousness movement, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, has cited from this Upanishad in His Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita Bhashya [purport] of Adi-Lila 2.22. to explain the sacred divinity of Sriman Mahaprabhu:
“… Apart from the relevant scriptural evidence forwarded by Srila Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami, there are innumerable statements regarding Lord Chaitanya’s being the Supreme Lord Himself. The following examples may be cited: (1) From the Chaitanya Upanishad: Gaurah sarvatma maha puruso mahatma maha yogi tri gunatitah sattva rupo bhaktim loke kasyati. Lord Gaura who is the all pervading Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appears as a great saint and powerful mystic, who is above the three modes of nature and is the emblem of transcendental activity. He disseminates the cult of devotion throughout the world…”.
The commentary on this Upanishad was written by Srila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and the current english translation of this rare gem was done in 1977 in Vrindaban by a disciple of His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
atha pippaladah samit panir bhagavantam brahmanam upasanno |
bhagavan me subham kim atra caksvasveti ||
Thereafter, Pippalada, with sacrificial fuel in hand, approached Lord Brahma and said, “O My Lord, in this world, please tell me what is the real auspiciousness?”
panca-tattvanvitam natva Chaitanya-rasa-vigraham
Caitanyopanisad-bhasyam karomy atma-visuddhaye
After offering obeisances unto the Panca-Tattva, I am writing this commentary on the Chaitanya Upanishad, which is the form of the mellow of Lord Chaitanya, for self purification.
This Chaitanya Upanishad which is included within the eternal Atharva-Veda, and which is full of all bliss, has thus far not been manifest due to being beyond the vision of persons who have become blinded by the influence of the illusory energy and whose minds are directed towards external matters. Then, when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the moon of Navadvipa, appeared, by the endeavor of the pure devotees, it became known. According to the authority of the Srimad Bhagavatam (7.9.38), even the sastras are in a covered form concerning the Supreme Lord Sri Chaitanya who is to be worshipped in kali-yuga [or Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appears in a covered form according to the sastras]. Therefore it is not surprising that, due to misfortune, the fools who are engaged in karma and jnana have no faith in this connection.
After examining many sastras and performing much worship, Pippalada Muni, desiring his own welfare, approached the guru, the four faced Lord Brahma with fuel in hand and asked, “What is best for me?”
bhuya eva tapasa brahmacaryena sasvat ramasva mano vaseti |
Lord Brahma said, “Always be very pleased with only austerity, celibacy and control of the mind.”
Lord Brahma said to him: “After spending one year acting for the purification of mind and body by pure behavior in renunciation, by celibacy, by yoga practice and austerity, come again”.
sa tatha bhutva bhuya enam upasadyaha- bhagavan kalau papac channah prajah katham mucyeran iti |
He, Pippalada, becoming pure in mind, again approached his father and said: “O my Lord Brahma, in the age of Kali Yuga, people are covered due to sin. How can they obtain liberation?”
After practicing purification of the body and mind by celibacy and austerity, Pippalada again approached his guru and inquired, “In Kali-Yuga, how can those who are sinful by nature obtain liberation from the material condition? ”
ko va devata ko va mantro bruhiti |
Please tell me which deity or which mantra is worthy of service.
Oh, my Lord, for the living beings whose minds are contaminated by Kali-Yuga, please tell me which deity or which mantra should be served.
rahasyam te vadisyami-jahnavi-tire navadvipe golokakhye dhamni govindo dvi-bhujo gaurah sarvatma maha-puruso mahatma maha-yogi tri-gunatitah satva-rupo bhakti loke kasyatiti, tad ete sloka bhavanti |
Lord Brahma replied, “I will tell you the confidential truth. On the bank of the Jahnavi, in Navadvipa Dhama, which is known as Goloka, Govinda with two arms, golden complexion, the Supersoul, the greatest Personality, the greatest Yogi, the Supreme Being, Who is transcendental to the modes of nature, and Whose form is truth, will appear to manifest devotional service (bhakti) in this world. These verses describe that.
In the eleventh canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, (11.5.33-34) the state of being of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Chaitanya, the savior of Kali-Yuga is proven.
dhyeyam sada paribhava-ghnam abhista-doham
tirthaspadam siva-virinci-nutam saranyam
bhrtyarti-ham pranata-pala bhavabdhi-potam
vande maha-purusa te caranaravindam
O Supreme Person, O Protector of the devotees, I offer my respectful obeisances unto Your lotus feet which are worthy of being constantly meditated upon, which destroy misery, yield all desire, which are the abode of all holy places of pilgrimage, which are praised by Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma, which are the shelter of all, which dispel the distress of the devotees and which are a boat for crossing over the ocean of material existence.
dharmistha arya-vacasa yad agad aranyam
maya-mrgam dayitayepsitam anvadhavad
vande maha-purusa te caranaravindam
“We offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of the Lord, upon whom one should always meditate. He left his householder life, leaving aside His eternal consort, whom even the denizens of heaven adore. He went into the forest to deliver the fallen souls, who are put into illusion by the material energy.”
eko devah sarva-rupi mahatma
caitanyatma sa vai caitanya-saktir
bhaktakaro bhakti-do bhakti-vedyah
The one Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appears in a variety of transcendental forms, is also known as Gaura. He has also appeared in various complexions such as red, blackish and white. He shall appear in the form of Gaura. He Himself is Chaitanya, the embodiment of cit-sakti. He shall appear in the form of a devotee, to bestow devotional service to the Lord and He is also to be known by devotional service.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam ( 10.8.13 ), the Lord’s characteristics are described by Gargamuni :
suklo raktas tatha pita
idanim krsnatam gatah
“He has been white, red, and yellow and now ( in Dvapara- yuga), he is blackish.”
In Kali-Yuga, He takes the form of a devotee. The confidential truth is that the Lord has descended with His own abode, Goloka-Dhama, to the supremely sanctified land of Gauda, in the form of a devotee as Sri Krishna Chaitanya Himself and desiring to deliver love of God, He has exposed the transcendental secret of madhura-rasa which enlivens all the devotees in the material world, headed by Sathakopa, Ramanuja, Vishnuswami, Madhvacharya, Nimbarka, etc., for the purpose of quickly bestowing auspiciousness unto the living beings in Kali-Yuga. Bhakti vedyah means that the living entities can know the Lord by the practice of devotional service and not by the practice of dry philosophical speculation.
namo vedanta vedyaya
caitanyaya namo namah
I offer my respectful obeisances unto He who is to be understood by Vedanta, who is Krishna, the Supersoul, whose form is conscious of everything. Obeisances again and again unto Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Even Lord Brahma offers his obeisances unto Sri Chaitanya after considering His unlimited mercy upon Lord Brahma’s own Madhva sampradaya.
vedanta vedyam purusam puranam
caitanyatmanam visva-yonim mahantam
tam eva viditva’ti-mrtyum eti
nanyah pantha vidyate’ yanaya
By knowing Him, who is to be known by Vedanta, who is the oldest personality, who is Himself, Chaitanya, the source of the universe and the greatest, one can overcome death. There is no other means for going beyond Maya.
Vedanta-vedyam means, he speaks to Pippalada after reflecting upon the conclusion of all the Vedas. Sri Chaitanya, although in the form of a devotee can be known by vedanta, as being directly Sri Krishna. For the living beings who have given up the material world, without the shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya, there is no other means for entering into the spiritual world. According to the evidence of Ramanuja, etc., by the mellow of servitorship, dasya-rasa, there is no direct path. The destination of those who practice dasya rasa etc., is limited to Vaikuntha. This is apparent in their books, etc. This is because Sri Chaitanya is the source of the universe and the only teacher in the matter of instructing vraja-rasa.
sva-nama-mula-mantrena sarvam hladayati vibhuh |
By the mantra, whose source is His own name, the Lord pleases everything.
Because there may be an incongruity with, “by the mantra whose source lies in His Form, “Bhaktivinode explains that sva nama, His own name, means the name of Krishna, not the name of Chaitanya. Moreover, it can also mean Hari, but specifically it means Krishna. Vibhuh means the Lord who possesses all opulence. And sarvam means all moving and non-moving living beings.
dve sakti parame tasya hladini samvid eva ca, iti |
His superior energies are hladini (bliss), and samvit (knowledge).
Two energies are acquainted with the Supreme Lord – hladini and samvit. By hladini is meant, by the manifestation of devotional service (bhakti) and love of God (prema), He pleases everything. By samvit is meant, by the manifestation of knowledge of the Absolute Truth which is approved of by the pure conclusions of the Vedas, He destroys the varieties of religion and irreligion which are similar to ignorance and darkness within of the heart of the conditioned soul.
sa eva mula-mantram japati harir iti krsna iti rama iti |
He chants the original mantra consisting of Hari, Krishna and Rama, in other words, the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.
The Supreme Lord in the form of Gaura instructs the conditioned souls by chanting the supremely powerful, original mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
harati hrdaya-granthim vasana-rupam iti harih. krsih smarane tac ca nastad ubhaya-melanam iti krsnah. ramayati sarvam iti rama ananda-rupah. atra sloko bhavati |
He who removes the knot in the heart in the form of material desire, is called Hari. The union by the remembrance of the root krs- and the affix -na, is the hymn of praise – Krishna. He who gives pleasure to everything is the form of bliss – Rama. Here is such a verse.
The meanings of the above three names are explained. Hrdaya-Granthi, means the inclination of the living entity whose factual constitutional position is to be a servant of Krishna, which takes its form in the desire for other mundane interests which is produced from the forgetfulness of the service of the Lord. In this connection, the words of the Vedas and the Srimad Bhagavatam are noteworthy:
He severs the knot within the heart and all doubts are cut to pieces. (Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.8 and Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2..21 ) He who takes away that knot is Hari. Krishna is to be remembered in His pastimes as the Supreme Lord, the Lord of Vrindavana, with beauty like a blackish tamala tree, sucking the breast of Mother Yasoda. This is the conventional meaning, which is equivalent to another meaning from the statements of the Sandarbhas. Rama pleases everything. By this mantra is meant, that when the spirit soul gives up the conditioned state of existence, he attains the state of assisting in the transcendental Vrindavana pastimes, and the attainment of the Supreme enjoyment of rasa, etc. Thus, the verse is to be reflected upon in this way.
mantro guhyah paramo bhakti-vedyah |
The Maha-Mantra is confidential, transcendental and can be understood only by devotional service, (bhakti-yoga).
The confidential truth of this mantra can be understood only by those who have attained the prescribed method and not by those who are adherents of fruitive work (karma) and philosophical speculation (jnana).
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
“The most perfect occupation for all humankind is what is conducive to the attainment of devotional service of transcendence to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and undeterred so that the same shall completely satisfy the self.” – Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6
namany astav asta ca sobhanani. tani nityam ye japanti dhiras te vai mayam atitaranti nanyah paramam mantram parama-rahasyam nityam avartayanti |
These sixteen names are supremely beautiful. Those who chant them regularly are sober persons who are able to cross beyond the illusory energy. there is no other means. One should repeat this maha-mantra which is the supreme secret, regularly.
This mantra’s quality of yielding fruits to the devotees is apparent. By regularly chanting this mantra consisting of sixteen names, the devotees transcendentally cross beyond the state of being overcome by the illusory, material energy. There is no other means than this. Even the eternally perfect souls regularly repeat this mantra for the sake of their own dharma.
caitanya eva sankarsano vasudevah paramesthi rudrah sakro brhaspatih sarve devah sarvani bhutani sthavarani carani ca yat kincit sad-asat karanam sarvam, tad atra slokah |
Chaitanya is Sankarsana, Vasudeva, and the Supersoul. He is the cause of Rudra (Siva), Sakra (Indra), Brhaspati, all the demigods, all moving and non-moving entities, and everything which is temporary and external. Herein are the celebrated verses.
For the devotees of Sri Chaitanya, what need is there for worshipping other demigods.
yat kincid asad bhunkte ksaram tat karyam ucyate |
Whatever one enjoys which is temporary is known as an effect and is perishable.
This universe is temporary, due to its quality of being an effect.
sat karanam param jivas tad aksaram itiritam |
It is said that the spirit soul is eternal. He is the cause of that which is perishable and also beyond that which is perishable.
The spirit soul is eternal and the cause of that which is perishable. Due to forgetfulness of his occupational duty because of the influence of the illusory energy, he imagines himself to be the doer. Therefore, he is perishable.
ksaraksarabhyam paramah sa eva purusottamah caitanyakhyam param tattvam sarva-karana-karanam |
dhanyanam hrdi bhasatam givivara-pratyagra-kunjaukasam |
satyananda-rasam vikara-vibhava-vyavrttam antar-mahah asmakam kila ballavi-rati-raso vrndatavi-lalaso |
gopah ko’pi mahendranila-ruciras citte muhuh kridatu
“May the cowherd boy who is a festival of ecstatic bliss for the hearts of the fortunate creatures residing in the groves of Govarhana Hill, Who is the lover of the Gopis, Who eagerly enjoys pastimes in Vrindavana forest, and Whose complexion is as splendid as a great sapphire, eternally enjoy transcendental pastimes in our hearts.”
Sri Isvara Puri as cited by Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada in the Padyavali-[Bhaktanam Nistha] Text 75.
He who is beyond that which is perishable and imperishable is the Supreme Person. The name of the Supreme Truth, the cause of all causes is Sri Chaitanya.
The universe is perishable. The spirit soul is imperishable. The supreme truth beyond both of these, the cause of all causes is called Chaitanya, whose nature is that of the Supreme Person. By this, the three truths of Vedanta are confirmed.
ya enam rasayati bhajati dhyayati sa papmanam tarati. sa puto bhavati, sa tattvam janati, sa tarati sokam, gatis tasyaste nanyasyeti |
Anyone who develops love for Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, worships Him or meditates on Him is freed from sin, becomes purified, understands the Supreme Truth, and overcomes lamentation. For him, there is no other destination.
One who is a devotee develops love for Krishna Chaitanya. This means he devotes himself to Sri Chaitanya due to his being the bestower of the conjugal mellow of Vrindavana. Bhajati, or he worships, means that after accepting his own constitutional position, he renders service. Dhyayati means that he meditates. He overcomes sin in the form of ignorance. Having overcome that, he is purified by the spiritual nature. Tattvam means that he understands the truth in terms of inconceivable oneness and difference between the energy and the energetic. (acintya bheda-abheda -tattva). And finally he overcomes lamentation. Thus ends the Sri Chaitanya-Charanamrta commentary on the Sri Chaitanya Upanishad.