Freed From Fear…

God intoxicated, exalted Saint Sri Krishna Chaitanya never distinguished anyone with any kind of reservation whatsoever. He treated everyone alike as Embodiment of Supreme Divine. When met up with an ‘self-styled’ untouchable seeker, a mendicant, how Bhagawan Chaitanya treated him elevating him to a state of Supreme Bliss, releasing him from fear that marred him right from his childhood days…a story as narrated by Bhagawan. 

Once, a mendicant with tattered clothes, unkempt hair and dirty body came and stood at the threshold of Chaitanya’s room and was meditating with closed eyes. On seeing him Chaitanya came out and asked him, “Who are you? you can come inside.” On hearing these soft and sweet words, the mendicant opened his eyes and replied in all humility, “Swami! I don’t deserve to step into your room. I am a despicable person belonging to the caste of Chandala (untouchables). I am not fit to defile your sacred residence. Full of smiles, Chaitanya went closer to him and said endearingly. “My son, never say that you are mean, despicable or unworthy. Who is mean and who is sacred on this earth? All are equally sacred because the same God shines in every one’s heart. So, please come inside without any hesitation.”

When the mendicant was still hesitating to go inside, Chaitanya questioned him about the purpose of his visit. The visitor replied, “Swami, I am repeatedly chanting God’s name but I feel it lacks chaitanya (spiritual power) just as a person in a state of coma has mere life without any consciousness. I seem to be mechanically chanting the Lord’s name without experiencing the power of the Divine. I have come to you with the hope that if you initiate me in one of the Lord’s names, it will be changed with spiritual potency and I will be benefited by chanting such a name.”

Chaitanya replied, “All the names of God are full of Chaitanya or Divine power. God’s name is omnipotent and self-effulgent. Hence it is not proper for you to underrate the efficacy of any of the Lord’s name. However, for your satisfaction, I will give you initiation as desired by you. Please step into the room.” The visitor responded by slowly entering the room, full of humility, hesitation, nervousness and fear, and sat in one corner of the room. Noticing his plight, Chaitanya gently told him, “My son, why are you so full of fear? Freedom and fearlessness are the birth-right of every man. Freedom being your real nature, why do you give room for fear? You must recognise that the Atmic power is behind all thoughts, and give up fear.”

Saying this, Chaitanya came closer and closer to the mendicant. Seeing this, the mendicant cried out apprehensively, “Swami, please don’t touch me. If you touch me, both of us will be guilty of breach of traditional norms of our society. I say so particularly because it is winter now, and if you touch me, you will have to take a cold water bath again and that will tell upon your health. I have accepted you as my guru and since, according to the scriptures, the guru is verily God. I shall be sinning against God by hurting you in any way. I have come to obey your commands and receive help from you, but not to hurt you in the process. Because of my sins in my past lives, I am now born as an untouchable. I don’t want to add to my load of sins by allowing you to touch me now.”

On hearing this, Chaitanya remonstrated: “What a simpleton you are! You are only betraying your ignorance by observing untouchability, ignoring the Divine inherent in every being. God has no distinctions of caste and creed. There is no caste for any of the five elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and sky, all of which have emanated from God.  Irrespective of the castes and creeds professed by men, all are equally sharing the bounties of nature offered by the five elements. Therefore, there is no need to observe such differences of caste and creed. Come closer to me.”

However, the mendicant could not shed his fear, because he had been nurturing this fear from his childhood. This shows that feelings such as fear, love, hatred etc., become ingrained in a person if he nurtures them for a long time from an early stage of his life. Chaitanya told the mendicant, “God never endows man with fear. It is one’ s weakness that fosters fear because of some shortcomings in one’s self. One who has not committed any wrong or evil act will have no fear and hence will not need any protection or security. Fearlessness is the hall-mark of Divinity. One can become fearless through renunciation or sacrifice. For example, if you have some valuables with you, there is room for fear. But if you give up those valuables, you will be free from fear wherever you may be, even in a jungle infested with robbers. My dear child, realise that your very nature is absolute fearlessness in all circumstances. Remain true to your nature.”

Saying this Chaitanya hugged the mendicant. But the latter began shaking with mixed feeling of bliss and fear, bliss because of embrace of such a holy saint like Chaitanya, and fear because of the misapprehension that Chaitanya would be polluted by physical contact with him. He cried out, “O Swami, let not my sins pollute you.” Laughing at this statement Chaitanya told him assuringly: “O innocent one, you and I have now become one. We are no longer separate. ” So saying, Chaitanya hugged him in a warm embrace and whispered the Lord’s name into his ear. The name went straight into the old man’s heart, and so transformed him that he exclaimed in ecstasy, “Swami there is no one as lucky as myself. I have now become sanctified, sacred and pure. I have got rid off the wrong notion that i am only the body made up of the five elements and have realised my true nature, because of your grace and the grace of the Lord’s name which you gave me.”

One’s life becomes sanctified by treasuring the Lord’s name in one’s heart with a feeling of intensive love. In the absence of such love, all so-called spiritual practices will prove futile. Various spiritual disciplines are necessary only for the purification of the heart. Once the heart becomes pure, there is no further need for study of the scriptures or spiritual practices. Explaining thus Chaitanya exhorted his new disciple to give up fear henceforth. From then onwards, the mendicant became known as Haridasa.

The moral of this story is that we should give up all differences based on one’s birth and position in life and chant or sing the Lord’s name with intense love and devotion. First, the name should melt the devotee’s heart; then only it can melt God’s heart and draw His grace upon the devotee. God does not care for how long and in what ways you have practised Sadhana. What He wants is sincere, wholehearted and intense love for Him.

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II