The Golden Lord
Lord Caitanya is a 16th century saint, incarnation and social reformer who began the sankirtan movement. Sankirtan refers to the congregational chanting of God’s names. Lord Caitanya specifically popularized the Hare Krishna mantra and brought it to the Indian public at a time when the society was divided by stringent caste lines. Lord Caitanya would often be seen in the streets of Bengal leading chanting parties of hundreds of participants all singing loudly and jubilantly.
Often referred to as Gaura (golden hued) because of His fair golden complexion, Lord Caitanya’s followers, Gaudiya Vaishnavas worship Him as an avatar of Krishna who appeared as a devotee in order to show the proper path of surrender in the Bhakti Yoga tradition. Of the teachings that He left behind He only wrote eight prayers in His own hand called the Siksastakam which outline the way in which one should chant in order to gain the fullest benefit: to attain the direct association with and service to the Supreme.
To Lord Caitanya humility, love of God and persistent chanting were qualifying attributes to make one worthy of accessing the full grace of the Supreme Lord and were enough to elevate a person to the highest platform. His pastimes are full of stories of illiterates and those who the Hindus of the time considered impure that became high teachers of the Bhakti tradition due to their constant and emotionally focused chanting.
We pray to Lord Caitanya before each kirtan to help us strengthen our love for chanting and to help us deepen our practice so that we can awaken all of the benefits of kirtan and so that we will attain the goal of associating with the Divine in loving service…and of course, doing more kirtan!