Mahāprabhu taught the principle of devotion to one’s worshipable deity through Murari Gupta. One cannot advance in devotional service without a particular devotion to a worshipable deity, or iṣṭa-devatā. Murari is an avatāra of Hanuman, and he saw Chaitanya Mahāprabhu as Ramachandra.
govindānanda eva saḥ
Murari Gupta is Hanuman in Ramachandra’s lila; Purandara is Angada and Govindananda is Sugriva.
The word gupta means “hidden”, so the name Murari Gupta indicates that Murari (Śrī Chaitanya Deva) had secretly taken up permanent residence in his heart.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.10.31)
Murari Gupta took birth in a family of Ayurvedic physicians in the district of Sylhet.
Murari Gupta is a physician for the disease of material life. He was amongst the many associates of Mahāprabhu who appeared in Sylhet.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.2.35)
Murari would cure anyone who came to him, whether their disease was of the body or the soul.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.51)
The names of Murari’s parents are unknown. He was somewhat older than Mahāprabhu. The Chaitanya Bhagavata includes his name in the list of associates who appeared prior to Mahāprabhu.
There were many devotees hidden in Nabadvīpa who had previously taken birth at the Lord’s command. They included Śrī Chandrasekhar, Jagadish, Gopinath, Sriman, Murari, Śrī Garuḍa and Ganga Das.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.2.98-99)
When Murari’s family moved from Sylhet to Nabadvīpa, they lived in the neighborhood of Mahaprabhu, so Murari was Nimai’s companion in many of His childhood pastimes. It is also written in the Chaitanya Charitamrita that Murari witnessed Mahāprabhu’s childhood pastimes. He had authored the scripture Sri Chaitanya Charita.
Murari’s Student Life in Nabadwip
Murari Gupta was also a student at Ganga Das Pandit’s Ṭol (school) along with Nimai. When the Lord was engaged in His pastimes of learning and study, He would often debate and joke with Murari . Mahaprabhu would be pleased with Murari’s interpretations. Murari Gupta was also amazed at Mahaprabhu’s wonderful intelligence and learning. He also observed that just the touch of Nimai’s hand would immerse him in ecstasy. All these things convinced him early on that Nimai was no ordinary human being.
Murari Gupta became a good scholar by the Lord’s mercy. One day, Nimai was pleased with the explanations of Murari Gupta to a certain problem. He touched Murari with His Lotus hand, filling His companion’s entire body with ecstasy. Murari Gupta thought privately that this person could in no way be an ordinary human being. Can an ordinary human attain such scholarship so quickly and his mere touch brings such ecstatic pleasure?
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.10.30-33)
The Vaiṣṇava’s ornament is humility. Mahāprabhu’s heart would melt when He saw this quality in Murari Gupta.
Murari Gupta, the twenty-first branch of the Chaitanya tree, was a storehouse of love. The Lord’s heart would melt when He saw Murari’s meekness and humility.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.49)
Mahaprabhu’s Special Mercy to Murari
When Mahāprabhu returned from Gaya, He saw Murari at the house of Shuklambar Brahmachari. Murari had heard of Mahāprabhu’s ecstatic feelings from Sriman Pandit. Mahāprabhu was pleased with Murari and one day gave him a vision of His form as the Varaha avatar; the Lord lifted Murari’s water jug on His nose as He gave a loud roar. Murari considered his life to have been fulfilled by this vision and he sang a hymn in glorification of the Lord. This event has been beautifully described by Vrindavan Das Ṭhākura in the Chaitanya Bhagavat, Madhya-khaṇḍa, chapter 3.
The Lord took on the mood of Varaha in the house of Murari. The Lord climbed on his shoulders and danced in the courtyard.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.17.19)
Murari Gupta was a worshipper of Lord Ramachandra and Mahāprabhu’s affection for him resembled that of Lord Rama for His servant, Hanuman.
Lord Gaurahari felt great love for Murari Gupta. It was just like Lord Ramachandra’s love for Hanuman.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.3.19)
During the twenty–one hour great epiphany (mahā-prakāśa) at Srivas Angan, the Lord gave Murari a vision of Himself as Lord Rama. When he saw his worshipable deity before him, Murari fainted away. He then glorified the Lord in a way that so much pleased Him that He gave Murari a benediction to have all his desires fulfilled.
Mahāprabhu ordered Murari: “Behold My form!” Lo! Murari saw the form of Raghunath directly before him. He saw the Lord of the Universe with swarthy color of durba grass, sitting in the vīrāsana, the posture of a great bowman. He saw Sita and Lakshman standing on both side of Him and His army of monkeys surrounding Him singing hymns of praise. It seemed to Murari that he was himself one of the monkeys, and as soon as he saw this, he fainted. The best of the physicians, Murari, lay unconscious on the ground, completely under Mahāprabhu’s spell.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.10.7-11)
On one occasion, when Mahāprabhu heard Murari Gupta recite the glories of Ramachandra, He wrote Rama Das, “servant of Lord Rama”, on his forehead. (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.17.69) On another occasion, Mahāprabhu displayed a four-armed Narayan form in the house of Srivas Pandit, and began calling the name of Garuḍa. Murari Gupta heard the call, and giving a loud roar, took the form of the king of birds. Mahāprabhu then climbed on his shoulders. This lila is described both in the 20th chapter of the Madhya-khaṇḍa of Chaitanya Bhagavat, and in the 12th wave of Bhakti-ratnākara.
Murari and Nityananda Prabhu
Mahāprabhu taught the spiritual truths about Himself, Nityananda Prabhu and matters of etiquette through Murari. One day, Murari Gupta came to Srivas Pandit’s house. Upon arriving, he first paid obeisances to Mahāprabhu and then to Nityananda Prabhu, but Mahāprabhu told him that he had not followed the proper procedure. Murari could not understand what He meant. That night when he returned home, he had a dream in which he saw Nityananda Prabhu as Balaram, and Mahāprabhu as Kṛṣṇa with a peacock feather. Murari then understood what Mahāprabhu had been telling him. The next day he paid obeisances first to Nityananda Prabhu and afterwards to Mahāprabhu.
Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Ṭhākura writes in his Gauḍīya-bhāṣya, “Śrī Murari was a worshiper of Balaram. Therefore to worship the Supreme Lord without first worshiping the guru and jagad-guru is an error of protocol.”
The lotus-eyed Mahāprabhu was sitting down with the smiling Nityananda Prabhu at His right hand side. Murari paid obeisances first to Nityananda Prabhu and then to the feet of Vishvambhar .
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.20.22-3)
The Lord Gives Murari His Betel Leave
Mahāprabhu had great affection for Murari Gupta and so would give him His own pan (betel leave), which Murari would eat with relish. When Mahāprabhu told Murari to wash his hands, Murari would simply wipe his hands on his head. It was at this time that Mahāprabhu suddenly began to criticize the false views of the Smarta Brahmins and Prakashananda’s māyāvāda philosophy.
The Lord said, “O foolish one, you have lost your caste status. My remnants are all over your body.” As He spoke, the Lord went into a trance in which He took on His identity as the Supreme Person. He ground His teeth and started to say something special, “There is a sannyasi named Prakashananda in Kashi who is cutting Me into little bits. He teaches the Vedanta, but does not accept My form. I have caused him to become leprous, but still he does not understand. The fool does not realize that the unlimited universes are contained within My body, what arrogance that he should deny it! I tell you the truth Murari, for You are My servant: anyone who does not accept My form is bound for ruin.”
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.20.31-36)
Murari Cures the Lord’s Indigestion
The Lord is very happy to accept a devotee’s offering, no matter how it is made. One day Murari returned home and told his wife that he wished to eat. His devoted wife carefully prepared rice with ghee and gave them to her husband. But Murari, absorbed in contemplation on Kṛṣṇa, took handful after handful of the food and put them on the ground, offering them to the Lord in this way. The amazing thing is that even though Mahāprabhu was not physically present there at that time, He accepted the offering. The next day He came to Murari’s house at the dawn and said to him, “I have come to you for medicine. Yesterday you kept insisting that I eat. You made Me eat so much that now I have indigestion. You must give Me some water, that will be the remedy for My stomach problem.” Mahāprabhu took water from a jug in Murari’s house, drinking down its entire contents. Seeing this, Murari fainted and all the devotees began to cry in deep love.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.20.69-71)
Murari’s Fear of the Lord’s Departure
Murari Gupta analyzed the many avatāras of the Lord and came to the conclusion that these avataras manifest pastimes and at one point conceal them. Lord Ramachandra destroyed Ravaṇa to save Sita, but then He abandoned Her. Kṛṣṇa arranged for the destruction of the Yadus. Thus, Mahāprabhu too would inevitably be disappearing at a certain moment, it would be better for him to depart before that day arrived, for it would be far too painful for him to witness such an event. For this reason, Murari purchased a sharp chopper and kept it hidden in his home. The Lord knew of his intention and immediately came to his house and asked Murari to hand over the chopper. Both the above mentioned pastimes are described in the Bhakti-ratnākara’s twelfth wave.
Murari Gupta would also go on the annual pilgrimage with other devotees to see Mahāprabhu in Puri. Accompanied by his wife, he would offer Mahāprabhu with many preparations they had prepared themselves. Murari would participate in the Rathayatra festival as a member of the third sankirtan group in which Mukunda Datta is the lead singer and Hari Das Ṭhākura danced.
Murari’s Exclusive Devotion to Rama
Mahāprabhu taught the principle of devotion to one’s worshipable deity through Murari Gupta. One cannot advance in devotional service without a particular devotion to a worshipable deity, or iṣṭa-devatā. Murari is an avatāra of Hanuman, and he saw Chaitanya Mahāprabhu as Ramachandra. On one occasion, Mahāprabhu desired to test his loyalty to his worshipable deity Lord Rama by telling him to worship Kṛṣṇa instead. He explained to Murari that Kṛṣṇa was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the fountainhead of all the other avatāras. Because Vrajendranandan Sri Kṛṣṇa is the ocean of all the devotional mellows, the joy to be had in worshiping Him cannot be had in the service of any other form of the Lord. Murari promised Mahāprabhu that he would do as He advised and worship Kṛṣṇa, but when he returned to his home, he could not give up the lotus feet of Ramachandra. Just the thought of it made him upset and he stayed awake the entire night. In the morning, he went to Mahāprabhu and fell at His feet with tears in his eyes and made the following humble submission:
I have sold my head to Ramachandra. I cannot remove it from His feet, for as soon as I try, it causes me great pain. I cannot give up the lotus feet of Raghunatha, even though this means disobeying You. What can I do? O merciful one, please allow me to give up my life here before You rather than suffer this fate.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.15.149-151)
Hanuman is famous for a verse, in which he shows his single-minded devotion for Rama.
tathāpi mama sarvasvaḥ
Both Narayan, the husband of Lakshmi, and Ramachandra, the husband of Sita are equally the supreme personality of Godhead. Even so, the lotus-eyed Rama alone is everything to me.
Mahāprabhu was greatly satisfied to hear this exclusive devotional attitude to the worshipable deity. He said, “You are Hanuman himself, the eternal servant of Ramachandra. Indeed, why should you give up worshiping His feet?”
Śrī Jiva Gosvāmī’s father Anupama was similarly devoted to Rama. Mahāprabhu compared him to Murari, “Previously, I tested Murari Gupta and found him to be devoted to Rama in the same way. That devotee who does not abandon his worshipable deity’s lotus feet is truly glorious. Glorious too is that Lord who does not abandon His devotee.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 3.4.45-46)
Murari Gupta disappeared on the same full-moon day as the autumn rāsa-līlā festival, sarat-purnima.
Excerpt from “Sri Chaitanya: His Life and Associates” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj