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Constructing an Approximate Time-line of Mahaprabhu’s Life Events in Gregorian Calendar

By Khonika Gope-Kumar

Stanford University

We all know that Mahaprabhu was born on February 18, 1486. It is also a well-known fact that for twenty-four years Lord Caitanya lived in the gṛhastha-āśrama in Nabadwip (CC Ādi 13.10, CC Madhya 1.15). Afterward, He accepted the renounced order of life, sannyāsa, and resided for twenty-four years more at Jagannātha Purī (CC Ādi 13.11, CC Madhya 1.17). “Of these last twenty-four years, He spent the first six continually touring India, sometimes in South India, sometimes in Bengal and sometimes in Vṛndāvana” (CC Ādi 13.12, CC Madhya 1.19).

Other than these broad chronologies, we know very little about the exact timelines of His life events. The difficulty in constructing a reliable timeline of His life events lies in the fact that the years of most of those events are hardly recorded. However, Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, the most prominent biographer of Mahaprabhu, does mention the seasons/months and the duration of the major events in his most celebrated book, Sri Caitanya Caritamrita. We also get to know some event details from Kavi Karnapura’s play Sri Caitanya Candrodaya, and Murari Gupta’s Sri Krsna Caitanya Carita Maha Kavya. After careful evaluation of these sources, it is possible to construct a pretty coherent timeline of the major Chaitanya Leelas. First, I give a summary of the timelines in the following table constructed based on these books. Subsequently, I provide the detailed references and associated logics used in determining the proposed times.

Table 1: The Approximate Time/ Duration of the Major Events in Mahaprabhu’s Life

Event Approximate Time / Duration References
1. Birth February 18, 1486 CC Adi 13.9, CC Ādi 13.20,

eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov

2. Sannyasa Mid-January / Mid-February 1510 CC Madhya 1.16
3. Arrival at Jagannath Puri Mid-February / Mid-March, 1510 CC Madhya 7.4, CC Madhya 7.5
4. South India Tour Late April 1510 to 1512 CC Madhya 7.6, CC Madhya 7.50, CC Madhya 7.54, CC Madhya 16.84
5. Ramananda Raya Meeting (during South India Tour) Mid-December 1510 / Mid- January 1511 Chaitanya Chandrodaya 9.32, Chaitanya Chandrodaya 9.34
6. Stay at Jagannath Puri 1512 to Late September 1514 CC Madhya 16.85, CC Madhya 16.86, CC Madhya 16.87, CC Madhya 16.91
7. First attempt to go to Vrindavan through Bengal Late September / Mid-October 1514 CC Madhya 16.93, CC Madhya 16.94, KCCMK 15.8-9, CC Madhya 16.245-246, CC Madhya 16.272, CC Madhya 16.258
8. Vrindavan Visit Mid-October 1515 to Mid-January 1516 CC Madhya 16.273, CC Madhya 16.282, CC Madhya 16.285, CC Madhya 18.145
9. Meeting with Rupa & Sanatan at Prayaga & Varanasi Late January / Early February 1516 CC Madhya 18.222, CC Madhya 20.82, CC Madhya 19, CC Madhya 2024, CC Madhya 25
10. Stay at Jagannath Puri 1516 to 1534 CC Ādi 13.13

CC = Sri Caitanya Caritamrita

KCCMK = Sri Krsna Caitanya Carita Maha Kavya

1. Birth: February 18, 1486

caudda-śata sāta śake janmera pramāṇa
caudda-śata pañcānne ha-ila antardhāna

“In the year 1407 of the Śaka Era (A.D. 1486), Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared, and in the year 1455 (A.D. 1534) He disappeared from this world.” (CC Adi 13.9)

phālguna-pūrṇimā-sandhyāya prabhura janmodaya
sei-kāle daiva-yoge candra-grahaṇa haya

“On the full-moon evening of the month of Phālguna when the Lord took birth, coincidentally there was also a lunar eclipse.” (CC Ādi 13.20)

The modern astrology also records that a total lunar eclipse occurred on 18 February, 1486 (eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov). The lunar eclipse, on its entirety, was visible from India. The penumbral eclipse lasted for 5 hours and 43 minutes. The partial eclipse lasted for 3 hours and 29 minutes. The total eclipse lasted for 58 minutes and 12 seconds. Maximum eclipse was at 4:51:51 pm GMT (10:21:51 pm Indian Standard Time- IST). Given that Mahaprabhu was born in the evening i.e. not long after the sunset and the moonrise, He must have been born around 6.00 – 6.30 pm IST* (the sun sets, and the full moon rises around 5.30 to 6.00 pm IST during that time of the year in West Bengal). In this case, His birth must have coincided with the first part of the penumbral eclipse (or just a few minutes before the eclipse started).

* Many astrological websites use the birth time of 10:00 pm IST. However, 10:00 pm is a highly unlikely birth time for two reasons. First, 10:00 pm is not considered as evening in India by any means whereas it is clearly mentioned that Mahaprabhu was born in the evening (Sandhya). Second, 10:00 pm does not fulfill the condition of Leo Ascendant (Simha Lagna) and Leo Moon (Simha Rashi) as calculated by His maternal grandfather, Nilambar Chakrabarty in Mahaprabhu’s birth chart.

2. Sannyasa: Mid-January / Mid-February 1510

Sri Caitanya Caritamrita and other biographies of Mahaprabhu unequivocally mention that Mahaprabhu spent his first twenty-four years in Nabadwip and then took Sannyasa. Mahaprabhu turned twenty-four at the beginning of 1510 (Mid February / Mid March). Sri Caitanya Caritamrita mentions that he took Sannyasa during the month of Magha (Mid January / Mid February) of the same year he completed his twenty-fourth year.

cabbiśa vatsara śeṣe yei māgha-māsa
tāra śukla-pakṣe prabhu karilā sannyāsa

“At the end of His twenty-fourth year, in the month of Māgha, during the fortnight of the waxing moon, the Lord accepted the renounced order of life, sannyāsa.” (CC Madhya 1.16)

Hence, the most likely time of His taking sannyasa should be between Mid-January and Mid-February of 1510.

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