Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda

Sri Caitanya appeared in the world in West Bengal, India in 1486 and departed from mortal vision 48 years later. His early years were spent in Navadwipa along the Ganges delta, and it was here that he began his religious and social reform centered around sankirtana, the congregational chanting of God’s name (Krsna). Throughout most of his spiritual outreach, Sri Caitanya was accompanied by his dearmost associate, the avadhuta Sri Nityananda, an extension (prakash) of his own divinity. Together they established the dharma of the divine name (nama dharma) transcending caste and creed, focusing on essential spirituality.

At the age of twenty-four, Sri Caitanya embraced a life of asceticism and traveled along with Sri Nityananda to the seaside pilgrimage of Jagannatha Puri in Orrisa. With Puri as his base, he wandered throughout India engaging in religious dialogue with various sects and popularizing the chanting of Krsna’s holy name.

Sri Caitanya is perhaps the best example the world has seen of devotional ecstasy in love of God. He was a towering figure of golden complexion from whose lotus eyes hot tears of spiritual emotion poured constantly—a golden mountain erupting in ecstasy, its lava consuming everything in its path. He melted hearts as he heralded the holy name of Krsna, swooning, dancing, and distributing the method to his spiritual madness: Sri Krsna sankirtana.

He eventually settled in Puri, where he spent his last twelve years in seclusion and deep meditation, tasting the ecstasy of Radha’s love for Krsna. Thus his devotees understand him to be Radha and Krsna combined—Krsna tasting Radha’s love and teaching the blessed path of devotion to himself. They understand his principal associate Sri Nityananda to be Rama of Sri Krsna’s pastoral lila.

Sri Caitanya’s Deity form is enshrined on the altar at Audarya along with that of Sri Nityananda. In the context of devotional ritual they are served primarily though Sri Krsna sankirtana.