On the day that Nimai Pandita, the darling son of Saci Mata, came to Katwa with the intention of accepting sannyasa, all the residents of Navadvipa were going mad. "How can our Lord think to do such a thing? He is not meant for the life of a mendicant! He is so beautiful, so young, so charming! How can He become a sannyasi?" The beloved husband of Visnupriya-devi, the Goddess of Fortune, was just twenty-four years old. To avoid any hindrance from the public, He had swum across the Ganges at three o'clock in the morning in order to reach the asrama of Kesava Bharati. Nimai Pandita was determined; He would accept the renounced order of life, for He felt that if He did not, no one would seriously take up the unprecedented message and path of Divine Love for Sri Krsna that He had come to give. Nimai Pandita saw that society at large would remain in ignorance and continue to drown in the ocean of material misery if they were unable to receive the unparalleled gift of prema-dharma He had come to distribute. Thus, to the dismay of millions who fell at His feet in tears, Visvambhara shaved His long beautiful, curly black hair, put on the saffron garments of a renunciate and accepted the staff of renunciation. Lord Gauranga was given sannyasa by Kesava Bharati and was now Sri Krsna Caitanya.
What ensued was the great preaching campaign of Mahaprabhu, the maha-sankirtana (grand glorification of Sri Krsna) and the unrestricted distribution of the bhagavata-dharma (the message of Divine Love). Taking Lord Caitanya's example, many of His intimate associates also accepted the renounced order of life. Srila Svarupa-damodara, Mahaprabhu's personal secretary and Srila Gadadhara Pandita (who holds the highest position of service to Sriman Mahaprabhu) also took sannyasa in order to be in constant service and association of the Lord.
Srila Rupa and Srila Sanatana Gosvamis, previously known as Dabira Khasa and Sakara Mallika, were highly placed government officials at the time they met Mahaprabhu. But after hearing the Vedic conclusions from Lord Caitanya's lips, they too became renunciates of incomparable measure. The two brothers became the head of the Six Gosvamis of Vrndavana. Taking shelter under a different tree every night, they ate close to nothing and slept very rarely. Instead, they spent all their time fulfilling the instructions of Mahaprabhu, intensifying their bhajana, composing scripture on the science of bhakti and excavating the places where Sri Radhika and Sri Govinda conducted their pastimes in Vraja-bhumi. This was also the position of Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami, our prayojana-tattva acarya, who represents the goal - the final attainment of this Krsna Consciousness movement. The goal is raganuga-bhakti or spontaneous love in devotion for the Divine Couple Sri Radhika-Madhavasundara. Srila Dasa Gosvami was born in a family of extremly wealthy aristocrats, but gave up everything and followed the most extreme vows of vairagya (renunciation) after coming into contact with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He maintained the single burning desire to serve the Lords lotus feet.
Accepting paramahamsa-vesa (the white cloth of a renunciate Vaisnava who has given up varnasrama-dharma) rather than accepting sannyasa (which requires wearing saffron cloth and is part of varnasrama-dharma), the Gosvamis stayed far away from the recognition that follows one in the sannyasa-asrama. Their renunciation was not like that of the Mayavadi sannyasis. Those moksa or liberation seekers are full of pride due to their status of being at the top of the varnasrama. Such Mayavadi sannyasis are not able to have even a drop of devotion for Krsna. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, our Srila Guru Maharaja's parama-gurudeva, writes:
"Loudly chant the Holy Name of Krsna and never forget the two most valuable things Lord Caitanya taught Srila Sanatana Gosvami: phalgu and yukta, 'real and apparent renunciation' and baddha and mukta, 'freed and enslaved.' Never mistake one for the other, or think them to be the same
"Money, women, and fame are like tigers. A Vaisnava gives them up and keeps them at a distance. Such a devotee, who is without material attachments, is a suddha-vaisnava. Such a devotee has conquered over the material world and its illusions of enjoyment. Accepting only what is needed in the service of the Lord, he remains free from the diseased mentality of material enjoyment and dedicates himself in the Lord's service.
Free from all false attachments, he sees everything in relationship to Krsna, understanding that everything is meant for the pleasure of Sri Krsna. He knows that to engage everything in the service of Sri Krsna is real renunciation. Because he understands that the true position of renunciation is to dedicate everything to Krsna, he is truly fortunate. Although he lives within the material world, he dwells within the revelation of Krsna's pastimes, and experiences the extension of the spiritual world within the material world.
"On the other hand, one who chants the Holy Name of the Lord for name and fame is simply a hypocrite and a cheater. His renunciation is false. O mind! Give up the association of both those who want liberation and those who want material enjoyment. They are all non-devotees." (Vaisnava Ke? -- Who is a Vaisnava?)
In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Rupa Gosvami cites a verse from the Padma Purana:
prapancikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumuksubhih parityago vairagyam phalgu kathyate
anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktah vairagyam ucyate
"That renunciation in which there is no attachment for the objects of the senses, but in which everything is seen in relationship to Krsna and all things are engaged in His service is called yukta-vairagya, or practical renunciation. But that renunciation which is practised by those desirous of impersonal liberation and rejects things in connection with Sri Hari, thinking them to be material, is called phalgu-vairagya, external or false renunciation." (BRS. Purva-vibhaga, 2.125-126)
It is explained by our acaryas that Mahaprabhu accepted sannyasa from Kesava Bharati, who was in the Mayavadi (impersonalist) School, in order to convert the Mayavadis over to the bhakti-marga (the path of pure devotional service). At that time the power and society was in the hands of the Mayavadis and it was Mahaprabhu's intention to establish the position of prema, the fifth and highest goal of life, over mukti (impersonal liberation), the goal of the Mayavadi school.
Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Gosvami, the illustrious siksa-guru of our Srila Guru Maharaja has said:
"Ostentatiously, Kesava Bharati was a Mayavadi. But when coming into connection with Caitanya Mahaprabhu he became Vaisnava. That is an easy explanation. Otherwise we may also think that he was a Vaisnava in the garb of Mayavadi to help the preaching of Mahaprabhu as a formal help to Him. He was already there in that post. Mayavadi sannyasis had recognition at that time over most of India. And Mahaprabhu took that garb for the purpose of facilitating His preaching activity. All these things may be explained. Generally we may take it like that. Kesava Bharati began to sing and dance along with Mahaprabhu after the Lord took sannyasa. Kesava Bharati also joined the sankirtana of Mahaprabhu. He was immediately converted. And before taking the sannyasa-mantra, Mahaprabhu Himself gave him the same mantra. Mahaprabhu asked Kesava Bharati 'Please consider whether this mantra that I got in a dream, whether this is applicable if we consider it this way,' and Mahaprabhu gave the mantra to him. Kesava Bharati answered, 'Yes, yes, it is all right. I shall give You this mantra.'"
Immediately after taking sannyasa, Mahaprabhu desired to go to Vrndavana. Lord Nityananda Prabhu, who had come with Nimai Pandita to Katwa, accompanied the Lord as He ran towards Vrndavana in an ecstatic trance. Upon reaching the Bharginadi River in Orissa, Sri Nitai broke Lord Caitanya's ekadanda ('single staff of renunciation' that was given to him by Sri Kesava Bharati) into three pieces and threw it in the holy river. This deeply esoteric pastime is mentioned by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada, our exalted parama-gurudeva, in the following way:
"The mystery of the sannyasa-danda of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has been explained by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the order of sannyasa from a Mayavadi sannyasi. The Mayavadi sannyasis generally carry one staff, or danda. Taking advantage of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's absence, Srila Nityananda Prabhu broke the staff into three parts and threw it into the river later known as the Danda-bhanga-nadi. In the sannyasa order there are four divisions—kuticaka, bahudaka, hamsa and paramahamsa. Only when the sannyasi remains on the kuticaka and bahudaka platforms can he carry a staff. However, when one is elevated to the status of hamsa or paramahamsa, after touring and preaching the bhakti cult, he must give up the sannyasa staff. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is therefore said, sri-krsna-caitanya, radha-krsna nahe anya: 'Two personalities—Srimati Radharani and Sri Krsna—are combined in the incarnation of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.' Therefore, considering Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to be an extraordinary person, Lord Nityananda Prabhu did not wait for the paramahamsa stage. He reasoned that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is automatically on the paramahamsa stage; therefore He does not need to carry the sannyasa-danda. This is the reason Sri Nityananda Prabhu broke the staff into three pieces and threw it into the water."
In the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the authorized biography of Sri Caitanya written by Srila Krsna Dasa Kaviraja Gosvami, this pastime is described, and it is there that we find the following sloka:
danda-bhanga-lila ei parama gambhira
sei bujhe, dunhara pade yanra bhakti dhira
"The pastime of Lord Nityananda breaking Lord Caitanya's ekadanda into three pieces is very deep. Only one whose devotion is fixed upon the lotus feet of the two Lords can understand it." (Cc. Madhya 5.158)
Srila Sridhara Maharaja illuminates:
"My Guru Maharaja said that Nityananda Prabhu broke the ekadanda into three and this indicates that we should accept not one, but three dandas (tridanda). This was already the custom with the Ramanuja Vaisnava section…. Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta also got some inspiration from there, to give tridanda to his followers; in contrast with the ekadanda, which was current in Bengal. The tridanda sannyasa was current in south-east India amongst the Ramanuja section."
Srila Bhakti Pramoda Puri Gosvami Maharaja, our beloved parama and siksa-guru has said:
"There is a Sanskrit saying that one does not become a true renunciate by simply carrying a bamboo staff (venubhir na bhaved yatih). One has to exercise control over the body, mind and words, engaging all these faculties in the service of the Lord. This is the meaning of the triple staff. This is why Nityananda Prabhu broke Mahaprabhu's staff into three pieces in order to demonstrate that His sannyasa meant such a threefold commitment to Krsna's service. The meaning of the monastic order is a commitment to attaining the Supreme Person; the only duty of the renunciate is to serve Lord Mukunda. A monk who does not take the vow of service is simply engaged in fraud and self-deception. Srila Prabhupada set the example of engaging in the Lord's service for each and every one of the twenty-four hours in a day. By so doing, he gave a living example of what is meant by tridandi-sannyasa."
We have heard from the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta that from his birth he was by nature a great renunciate. Yet in order to establish a preaching mission (Sri Gaudiya Matha) that would spread divya-jnana (divine knowledge) to the people at large and fight against the apa-sampradayas (deviant schools) who were claiming themselves as followers of Mahaprabhu and to set an example of daivi-varnasrama-dharma (the transcendental system of four social orders and four spiritual orders), Srila Bhaktisiddhanta decided to formally take sannyasa. By his decision to accept saffron cloth he actually took a humble position below his two gurus, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Gaura-kisora Dasa Babaji, who had both accepted the white cloth of paramahamsa-vesa. On March 7th, 1918 on the auspicious occasion and full moon day of Sriman Mahaprabhu's appearance day festival, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta took sannyasa according to Vedic rites at Sri Mayapura in front of the photo of Srila Gaura-kisora Dasa Babaji (as Sri Ramanujacarya had done in front of the image of his guru many centuries ago).
In this way, by taking the help of the varnasrama, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was able to preach thunderously, exposing the nasty practices of the prakrta-sahajiya section (those who imitate the devotional sentiments of the advanced Vaisnavas). These so-called babajis were not at all fit for that high position and were cheaply trying to imitate the exhalted position of Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis. They were in fact, just wearing the paramahamsa-vesa, and performing all types of illicit activities, creating the worst name for our most worshipable guru-varga. By his example as an acarya and sannyasi, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta stressed that one cannot come to the fifth stage of life (babaji) before crossing thru the rules and regulations of the fourth (sannyasa). Just by putting on the dress, one does not become a paramahamsa.
On that Gaura-purnima day in 1918, not only did Srila Bhaktisiddhanta take sannyasa, but he also re-established the same order of tridandi-sannyasa (the renounced order of the daiva-varnasrama) as part of the authentic Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya (school and culture of thought in the line of Sri Krsna Caitanya). Transcending the lower conception of karma-sannyasa, considered forbidden in Kali-yuga ("sannyasam pala-paitrkam" - Brahma-vaivarta Purana 185.180), Srila Bhaktisiddhanta established the system and every aspect of Gaudiya Vaisnava tridandi-sannyasa. From his deep realization and the authorized scriptures, he drew the titles and one hundred eight sannyasa names, the dress, the sadhana, the standard, the sannyasa-mantra (originally given by Srila Sanatana Gosvami) and most importantly, the conception within it (as given by Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami).
In this connection we have heard the following illuminations by Srila Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja, who became one of the leading sannyasa disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and the sannyasa guru of many of his own senior godbrothers including Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvamˆ Maharaja (the sannyasa guru of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada), Srila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja (one of the most prominent Gaudiya preachers in India of his time) and Srila Bhakti Saranga Gosvami Maharaja (one of the first preachers to travel to the west, in the 1930's).
Refering to Lord Krsna's declaration and appeal to the gopis of Vraja (his most intimate and dedicated servants) in the tenth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, we find Sri Govinda says:
na paraye 'ham niravadya-samyujam sva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vah
ya mabhajan durjara-geha-srnkhalah samvrscya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna
"I am not able to repay My debt for your spotless service, even within a lifetime of Brahma. Your connection with Me is beyond reproach. You have worshiped Me, cutting off all domestic ties, which are difficult to break. Therefore please let your own glorious deeds be your compensation." (Bhag. 10.32.22)
Srila Sridhara Maharaja illuminates further: "Lord Krsna tells the gopis of Vraja, 'In which way I shall clear my debt to you? I have already given you Myself, wholesale. Although I am an infinite storehouse, I have given you everything and there is nothing more left that I can give you'…And for this reason, He had to become Mahaprabhu. Krsna thought that 'I shall dedicate My life in praise of you all, gopi-bhajana, vraja-bhajana. I shall do the work of your canvasser, and then I must get some remuneration, and thereby, I shall try my best to clear My debt.' So, Krsna came, and Radharani then said, 'Oh, do You think that I shall leave You free? No, I shall surround You. You will roll on the earth, but I won't allow You to touch Your body to the ground. My body will be there to cover Yours. You can't go without Me.' So Sri Govinda and Sri Radhika came as Lord Gauranga, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu."
From this we get a glimpse into the deeply esoteric nature of Mahaprabhu's appearance and mission here in this world. In the Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsna Dasa Kaviraja Gosvami writes that Mahaprabhu's purpose for appearing are two-fold; His external reason:
anarpita carim cirat karunayavatirnah kalau
sada hrdaya-kandare sphuratu vah saci-nandanah
"May that Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Saci-devi be transcendentally situated in the inner-most chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, he has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy and inaugurated the sankirtana movement in order to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant mellow of devotional service, madhurya-rasa (the mellow of conjugal love) (Cc. Adi 1.4)
And His ultimate and confidential reason for appearing:
sri radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva-
svadyo yenadbhuta-madhurima kidrso va madiyah
saukhyam casya mad-anubhavatah kidrsam veti lobhat-
tad-bhavadyah samajani saci-garbha-sindhau harinduh
"Desiring to understand the glory of Srimati Radharani's love, the wonderful qualities in Him that she alone relishes through Her love, and the happiness She feels when She realizes the sweetness of His love, The Supreme Lord Hari, richly endowed with Her emotions, appears from the womb of Srimati Saci-devi as the moon appears from the ocean. (Cc. Adi 1.6)
Experiencing the depths of devotion only She has, Mahaprabhu reveals and glorifies Her (and Her maidservants) to be the highest devotees of all.
Mahaprabhu came from a very high brahminical family and was a renowned, undefeated pandit. According to social status as a sannyasi He was the most worshipable of personalities, but when asked about His position, He proclaimed:
naham vipro na ca nara-patir napi vaisyo na sudro
naham varni na ca grha-patir no vana-stho yatir va
kintu prodyan nikhila-paramananda-purnamrtabdher
gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah
"I am not a brahmana, I am not a ksatriya, I am not a vaisya or a sudra. Nor am I a brahmacari, a householder, a vanaprastha, or a sannyasi. I identify myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the maintainer of the gopis, Sri Krsna, who is eternally reality the beautiful, the effulgent source of universal bliss." (Cc. Madhya. 13.80)
Our Srila Guru Maharaja, Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti Gaurava Narasingha Maharaja explains that those who come into Mahaprabhu's service connection through the guru-varga (disciplic succession) descending from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, down to his authorized disciples and grand-disciples, are coming into Lord Caitanya's campaign of madhurya-rasa. And who is the Queen of madhurya-rasa? That is Srimati Radharani.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja explains further: "Our Guru Maharaja says that, ultimately Sri Guru is Radharani and so he also gives mantra which is within that radha-dasyam. Especially sannyasa mantra, which means to take shelter in the service of the gopis. It means this. Before that, we are to understand Krsna and something about madhurya-rasa. First we must throw ourselves in the ocean of ecstasy represented as Krsna. After that, in sannyasa mantra, we shall cast our faith in the shelter and the service of the gopis. The sannyasa mantra means this. Mantra is there, guru-parampara is there, all indicating our course towards madhurya-rasa and service to the gopis."
These are most definitely very high and revealing topics. On one side we see that our Gaudiya Vaisnava sannyasa is a social consideration meant for preaching purposes and on the other side we are to understand that it carries the deepest of conceptions with it, the quintessence of Lord Gauranga's message, the principle of radha-dasyam.
In the tenth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, in the part known as the Bhramara-gita ('Song of the Bumble Bee') we find the following verse:
sapadi grha-kutumbam dinam utsrjya dina
bahava iha vihanga bhiksu-caryam caranti
"The transcendental lila of Sri Krsna is great nectar for the ears. Those who relish just a single drop of that nectar even once have their attachment to material duality totally ruined. Many such persons have immediately given up their futile homes and families and have come to Vrndavana like a free bird out of a cage. Becoming totally detached from their material life those devotees have taken up the path of renunciation and have accepted alms just to maintain their lives on this plane. In this way they continue to search for Him, the complete fulfillment of life." (Bhag. 10.47.18)
Although there is no particular mention in Srimad Bhagavatam about the name of the vraja-gopi who spoke this verse, according to Srila Sridhara Maharaja's realization, this is "one sloka which came from the lips of Srimati Radharani." He further shared with the devotees how the deep purport of this verse is very significant for those becoming absorbed in the nectarean taste of Krsna's Holy Name, pastimes and service. And it is sigificant in how one comes to embrace the renounced order of life in order to remain exclusively dedicated to the deeper search and cultivation of that divinely blissful life.
Lord Krsna concludes the Bhagavad-gita with these words to Arjuna:
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
"My dear Arjuna, you are very dear to Me, and therefore only for your good I will disclose the most secret part of My instructions. It is simply this: become a pure devotee of Mine and give yourself unto Me only, and I promise you full spiritual existence, by which you may gain the eternal right of transcendental loving service unto Me. Just give up all other ways of religiosity and exclusively surrender unto Me and believe that I will protect you from your sinful acts, and I shall deliver you. Do not worry any more." (Gita 18.66)
Srila Sridhara Maharaja relates,
"Krsna says: 'Come to My refuge, My shelter. If any injury occurs there, I am there to compensate.' The conscience is there. So for the good cause. Otherwise, we are helpless, no hope, no prospect, nothing of the kind. So simply to get the name and fame of the role of sannyasa that I am a leader of the society, I have taken sannyasa. For all these low reasons, don't take risk nor venture. But for the real cause, you must take risk. No risk, no gain. That method will be welcome.
"Just as Bhaktivinoda Thakura, he recommended, not very easily should you give up this householder life. This is safer. Though the speed of advancement is not very quick, it is a safe position. But our Guru Maharaja, he gave a general call, 'Come, try to serve under me, you'll be a gainer.' So he didn't give much stress on the householder. 'Take a risk, come. I am conducting a mass march towards Mahaprabhu's throne. Come and join me.' And we'll be fed honorably.
"Sannyasa is of three kinds. One is to be fully prepared, if we get a chance of a good guide, then if at heart I can accept the very destination, then I can take risk, but if I don't have clear conception of the destination, then I should not take risk. But if I have clear conception of the destination, but I'm not fit but by the help of my friends and my guide I shall try to compensate whatever defects I have by the power of the guide and the company, that is necessary. In the eternal path I may receive some injury. It does not matter. Still I must attempt.
"I must be sincere. Sincerity is always regarded as the highest qualification. If I'm sincere in my destination that I want that, I'm not satisfied by anything except that, then I should take risk when I get such a chance. In ordinary life also we find that we must take risk. That inner urge will come. 'I must take the risk, the chance has come to me.' You cannot but take risk. But a favorable circumstance, surrounded by your friends and guarded by a good guardian, they should take risk. The injury that may come due to my inability, that will be amply compensated.
"Whatever small thing I shall acquire in the short time He is there. Still there will be some who are insincere. If by imitating others he takes sannyasa, he'll be a loser. The imitationist will be the loser. The sincere aspirant, he may be rewarded, but the imitation won't help us. Imitation without having the necessary quality. If only by ambition I want to copy someone for name and fame, that is another thing. That is bad. But sincere hankering, inner urge, that must be encouraged because He is everywhere and He is supporting the good. He has promised I'll always back the sincere who have got a good object of life. I'll always back them. Sannyasa must be taken sincerely. That is all-important. The attempt must be sincere."
On the Gaura-purnima day (March 16, 1976) that Srila Prabhupada awarded our Srila Guru Maharaja sannyasa, His Divine Grace spoke on how the position of sannyasa actually means that of guru and "guru is the post given to the sannyasis." In his purports on the sixteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Srila Prabhupada writes:
"In the varnasrama institution the sannyasi, or the person in the renounced order of life, is considered to be the head or the spiritual master of all the social statuses and orders. A brahmana is considered to be the spiritual master of the three other sections of a society, namely, the ksatriyas, the vaisyas and the sudras, but a sannyasi, who is on the top of the institution, is considered to be the spiritual master of the brahmanas also. For a sannyasi, the first qualification should be fearlessness. Because a sannyasi has to be alone without any support or guarantee of support, he has simply to depend on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one thinks, "After I leave my connections, who will protect me?" he should not accept the renounced order of life. One must be fully convinced that Krsna or the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His localized aspect as Paramatma is always within; that He is seeing everything and He always knows what one intends to do. One must thus have firm conviction that Krsna as Paramatma will take care of a soul surrendered to Him. 'I shall never be alone,' One should think, 'Even if I live in the darkest regions of a forest I shall be accompanied by Krsna, and He will give me all protection.' That conviction is called abhayam, fearlessness. This state of mind is necessary for a person in the renounced order of life." (Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Purport 16.1-3)
This purport by Srila Prabhupada draws our mind to the fervent prayer by the tridandi-bhiksu (a beggar of divine service) from Avanti, spoken of in the Srimad Bhagavatam by Lord Krsna to Sri Uddhava. He declared, aham tarisyami duranta-param -- "I shall cross over the ocean of nescience and become firmly fixed, asthaya paratma-nistham, in the service of our Lord Mukunda." This prayer was sung by Mahaprabhu in ecstacy, upon receiving the sannyasa mantra from Kesava Bharati, and since that time is recited by all Gaudiya tridandi-bhiksus after chanting their sannyasa mantra.
When speaking about this verse, Srila Sridhara Maharaja has commented:
"If you accept this sannyasa-vesa, this is only favorable to the activity, but the real thing is the service. The all-important thing is the service, not the dress. The dress can help me to a certain extent to remind me, 'Oh, I am a sannyasi, I am disconnected with other branches of knowledge and interest. My sole interest is the service of Krsna, Guru and Vaisnava. This will remind me, the outer dress of sannyasa will remind me that I am dedicated to a particular object of life.' But the real thing, the most substantive is mukunda-seva. How much I can dedicate in service for the satisfaction of Mukunda, that is the real desirable thing for our achievement of the higher end."
We may thus certainly conclude that the order of our Gaudiya Vaisnava sannyasa is extraordinary and unique. As is the nature of the audarya-lila (the most magnanimus distribution of Absolute Beauty and Truth) inaugurated by Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, his tridandi agents extend their reach from the worldly plane of social considerations to the deepest quarter of divine service. Our loving Guru Maharaja refers to these most benevolent agents as the "Caitanya Monks."
In the words of His Divine Grace:
"We should understand how Sri Gurudeva has placed us in connection with the service of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his foremost eternal servants. To enter krsna-lila is very, very difficult. But one who has achieved the service of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is automatically accepted in krsna-lila. The foremost service to Mahaprabhu is to spread His sankirtana movement (this includes book distribution and all other aspects of the Hare Krsna Movement). Not only is such a devotee accepted in krsna-lila but also such a devotee will find that he has been automatically transferred to the service of the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani in Vrndavana."
We beg that our Guru Maharaja, who is our only shelter, remain the ocean of mercy that he is and grant us the eternal service of his lotus feet.