Chaitanya by Arun Kolatkar


Chaitanya (1486-1534), also known as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was born in Bengal. He thought that we should disregard religious procedures in order to worship the Supreme Being as Lord Krishna. He also felt that a devotee should lose his or her individual personality in order to experience God’s presence in his or her life. One technique to annihilate the ego is to pronounce the Lord’s name in ecstasy while feeling infinite compassion and love for God’s entire creation.

The poem Chaitanya originally taken from Jejuri is one of three ‘Chaitanya’ sections in the book. What is Chaitanya’s connection to Jejuri? He is supposed to have visited Jejuri in 1510-11 and attempted to reform the people.


The poem’s opening lines reveal that the speaker is Chaitanya. He appears to be speaking to a red-painted stone. The opening line (‘come off it’) indicates that the speaker’s tone is casual, as if he were speaking to an equal rather than a deity. He communicates in ‘stone language.’ The term “stone language” may refer to a language that the deity did not understand. It could also indicate that individuals did not get what Chaitanya was attempting to teach them about dedication. When you read the rest of the poem, you’ll notice that the phrase “stone language” implies that the people of Jejuri did not agree with what Chaitanya was asking them to do. As a result, we might conclude that Chaitanya’s language was ineffective; it was ‘stone language.’

The speaker of the poem requests that the stone erase the red paint from its face. If the stone stated in the poem is worshipped as a deity, we can reasonably assume that the ‘red paint’ referenced in the poetry is clearly vermillion that worshippers apply to the stone figures they adore. When we examine the image as a symbol, we see that the ‘red paint’ stands for a variety of rituals that are only activities with no genuine feelings of devotion.

The last four lines refer to ‘flowers’ that the speaker will present to the deity. This term can be contrasted with the already mentioned ‘red paint.’ If ‘red paint’ represents hollow rituals, flowers convey a genuine and natural sense of commitment. The poem’s final two lines reveal that the speaker does not consider himself and God as different entities. This is demonstrated by his statement that he and God both enjoy the zendu flowers.

It seems from the poem that Chaitanya sought to teach sincere devotion to the people of Jejuri, but they opted to stick to their old religious customs. This will become clear when you read another Chaitanya part in Jejuri that says the hills (indicating the people who live there) remained unmoved.


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