Teachings of Lord Caitanya Hardback
Originally delivered as five morning lectures on Caitanya-caritāmṛta – the authoritative biography of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī – before the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, New York City, April 10–14, 1967.
The word caitanya means “living force,” carita means “character,” and amṛta means “immortal.” As living entities we can move, but a table cannot because it does not possess living force. Movement and activity may be considered signs of the living force. Indeed, it may be said that there can be no activity without the living force. Although the living force is present in the material condition, this condition is not amṛta, immortal. The words caitanya-caritāmṛta, then, may be translated as “the character of the living force in immortality.”
But how is this living force displayed immortally? It is not displayed by man or any other creature in this material universe, for none of us are immortal in these bodies. We possess the living force, we perform activities, and we are immortal by our nature and constitution, but the material condition into which we have been put does not allow our immortality to be displayed. It is stated in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad that eternality and the living force are characteristics of both ourselves and God. Although this is true in that both God and ourselves are immortal living beings, there is a difference. As living entities, we perform many activities, but we have a tendency to fall down into material nature. God has no such tendency. Being all-powerful, He never comes under the control of material nature. Indeed, material nature is but one display of His inconceivable energies.
An analogy will help us understand the distinction between ourselves and God. From the ground we may see only clouds in the sky, but if we fly above the clouds we can see the sun shining. From the sky, skyscrapers and cities seem very tiny; similarly, from God’s position this entire material creation is insignificant. The living entity is also insignificant, and his tendency is to come down from the heights, where everything can be seen in perspective. God, however, does not have this tendency. The Supreme Lord is not subject to falling down into illusion (māyā), any more than the sun is subject to falling beneath the clouds. Impersonalist philosophers (Māyāvādīs) maintain that because we fall under the control of māyā when we come into this material world, God must also fall under māyā’s control. This is the fallacy of their philosophy.
– From the Introduction