Chaitnya Mahaprabhu a major proponent of Vaisnava philosophy inundated entire India in the 16th century with the chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krnsa Krnsa Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu was born in Nadia, Mayapur in West Bengal, India on 18th Feb, 1486. During his childhood he was called as Gaurahari owing to His golden complexion, his mother called him Nimai because he was born near a neem tree. At the age of 5 he was admitted to a pathasala. By the age of 14 or 15 he became one of the most renowned and erudite scholar of Sanskrit and nyaya philosophy.
At the age of 16 or 17 he took spiritual initiation from a great Vaisnava Sannyasi, Isvara Puri. After initiation he became a religious preacher, his teachings transformed the hearts of many. Some of his intimate and sincere disciples were Nityanand Prabhu, Haridas, Murari Gupta, Advaita Prabhu and Srivasa Pandita. In fact numerous preachers of Vainavism started to flock to Nadia to meet Chaitanya Mahaprabu.
Mahaprabhu wanted to spread the message of Krishna in every nook and corner of the world. He instructed Prabhu Nityananda and Haridas to go through the streets, knock at every door and plead the inhabitants to chant the name of Lord Krishna.
Denizens of Nadia were pleasantly surprised when they learnt that Jagai and Madhai the two most notorious and abominable figure of Nadia was transformed by the preaching of Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu’s followers started increasing; the whole town of Nadia was inundated with chanting of Hare Krishna.
When Chand Kazi, the chief magistrate of Navadvipa, tried to stop Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement then Mahaprabhu led a huge procession of the devotees to the residence of Chand Kazi. Mahaprabhu divided His Sankirtan into 14 groups; each devotee had a torch in his hand. Upon reaching Kazi’s house Mahaprabhu had a philosophical discussion with him and finally Mahaprabhu was able to inculcate the Vaisnava philosophy in the heart of Kazi. Kazi lamented bitterly upon realizing His grave mistake and he himself decided to join the sankirtan party.
Mahaprabhu although a soft hearted person was very strong in principles. Mahaprabhu’s preaching and His ever increasing influence aroused jealously among some of the lowly minded brahmanas who decided to oppose Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu was of the belief that party feelings and sectarianism are the two biggest enemies of progress. He thought that as long as He will continue to identify Himself to a certain city (Nadia), and certain family His mission of spreading the message of Krishna will not succeed.
He no longer wanted to identify himself to certain city, certain family, caste and creed. Therefore at the age of 24 he decided to take sanyasa. After taking sanyasa Mahaprabhu travelled through entire India. He preached Vaisnavism and nama-sankirtan throughout the journey. On his way he preached pure bhakti and instilled Krishna Prema in the hearts of several people, notable among them is Tukaram who later became one of the most renowned saints of his time. At the age of 31, Mahaprabhu came to Puri and continued to live their till his disappearance at the age of 48. He left His body while performing sankirtana in the temple of Tota Gopinath.