One of the great branches of the Chaitanya tree is called Acharyaratna, also known as Chandrasekhara; his entourage forms another group of branches and sub-branches. Mahaprabhu danced in his house in the mood of the goddess.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.12-13)
candro jïeyo vicakshanaih
The wise know that Chandrasekhara Acharya is an incarnation of the moon god, while Uddhava Das is also a partial incarnation of the moon.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes in his Amrita-pravaha-bhashya that "according to some sources, Acharyaratna was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s meso, i.e, the husband of his mother’s sister.” This has been explained more conclusively in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana, “He was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s uncle, that is he married Sachidevi’s sister Sarvajaya.”
In the book called Shakha-nirnayamrita by Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami’s disciple Yadunatha Das, Chandrashekhara Acharya’s identity is revealed in the following way:
Chandrashekhara was the recipient of Paurnamasi Devi’s deepest love. He is known as the full moon of unlimited compassion. Chandrasekhara Acharya was also Born in Sylhet
Shrivasa Pandit, Sri Rama Pandit and Chandrashekhara Deva are all worshipable throughout the three worlds; they, as well as Murari Gupta, the physician who cures the material disease, all appeared in Sylhet.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.2.34-5)
All of Mahaprabhu’s elders appear on this earth prior to His birth.
Many of them took birth prior to Him on the order of the Supreme Lord, and remained hidden in Nadia. They included Chandrashekhara, Jagadisha, Gopinath, Sriman, Murari, Sri Garuda, and Ganga Das.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 1.2.98-9)
Sri Chandrashekhara lived just next door to Jagannath Mishra in Mayapur. The Chaitanya Math established by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur now stands on this site. Prior to Mahaprabhu’s appearance, Chandrashekhara and his wife would visit the Mishra household regularly and would look after their well-being, helping to manage their affairs. When Jagannath departed from this world, Chandrashekhara took over the complete responsibility for Sachi Devi’s household affairs.
Pastimes in Chandrashekhara’s House
After Mahaprabhu’s return from Gaya, when He commenced his sankirtan movement in the company of His Devotees, He would sometimes hold His nightly kirtans in the house of Chandrashekhara, just as He would in the house of Shrivasa Pandit.
All the Vaishnavas felt great enthusiasm when they heard that Mahaprabhu had begun His sankirtan movement. Every night, these kirtans took place in the house of Shrivasa Pandit, and on certain occasions, in the house of Chandrashekhara Acharya.
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.8.110-1)
Jagai and Madhai were two brothers who, though born in a high caste Brahmin family, had nevertheless adopted robbery as their livelihood. By Mahaprabhu’s causeless mercy, all of their sins were cleansed and they were given the opportunity to engage in sankirtan with the rest of His Devotees. Chandrashekhara Acharya was amongst the associates of the Lord who witnessed these wonderful events. “Vakreshvara Pandit and Chandrashekhara Acharya both know all the glories of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.”
(Chaitanya Bhagavat 2.13.240)
Mahaprabhu put on a play about Vraja lila in the house of Chandrashekhara Acharya. This lila has been described in great detail by Vrindavan Das Thakur in his Chaitanya Bhagavat, in the eighteenth chapter of the Madhya-khanda. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami has briefly mentioned the event in his Chaitanya Charitamrita:
Then Mahaprabhu performed Krishna lila in the house of Chandrashekhara. He Himself took on the role of Rukmini and others as well, becoming in turn Durga, Lakshmi and the Divine Energy. Then he sat down on the Deity throne and distributed love of God to all the assembled Devotees.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.17.241-2)
Here is a brief summary of the story as found in the Chaitanya Bhagavat: One day Mahaprabhu revealed His desire to put on a play with His Devotees about His pastimes in Vrindavan. He told Sadashiva Buddhimanta Khan who would play which role and what they should wear.
Then Sachi’s son, completely absorbed in the kirtan of the Lord’s names called out to Sadashiva Buddhimanta Khan. “Today I will go to Chandrashekhara’s house where I will dance in the dress of Lakshmi. Arrange for conch bracelets, saris, bodices, golden ornaments and other paraphernalia that will be suitable for our costumes.” Having so ordered him, Mahaprabhu and his companions went down the path which led to Chandrashekhara’s house.
According to his instruction, Buddhimanta then arranged for appropriate dress and makeup for those who would be in the play, pleasing Mahaprabhu immeasurably. Mahaprabhu announced that He would dance in the role of Lakshmi, but that only those whose senses were controlled would be able to sit in the audience. Advaita Acharya, Shrivasa Pandit and others sadly said that since they had no control over their senses they would be ineligible to watch. Mahaprabhu laughed slightly at hearing this and said that for that day at least everyone would become a great yogi and would not be bewildered by his performance.
In the next act, Mahaprabhu came out dressed as Rukmini. Totally absorbed in the mood of Rukmini, He recited Her letter to Krishna from the Bhagavatam, and as He did so, He cried and wrote on the ground with His toes. When the Vaishnavas saw this scene, they were overwhelmed by the ecstasy of divine love.
Later on in the evening, Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami came onto the stage dressed as a gopi and began to dance like a woman in love. Mahaprabhu and Nityananda then entered the stage area, Mahaprabhu in the dress of the Adya shakti and Nityananda as an old woman, Radha’s maternal grandmother. When the members of the audience saw Mahaprabhu, each saw Him according to his or her own mood: some as Kamala, some as Lakshmi, others as Sita and yet others as Mahamaya. Even those who had known Nimai since His birth, including Sachi, were unable to recognize Him. In the guise of playing the roles of all the different female divinities, Mahaprabhu revealed His divine energies and taught the proper respect due to each one of them. While the Lord was thus dancing as the Adya shakti, Nityananda fainted and all the other Devotees began to cry loudly.
Then the Lord revealed another amazing pastime: He took on the mood of Maha Lakshmi, sat down on the Deity throne and placed the Gopinath Deity on His lap. When the Devotees saw this they began to sing hymns of praise to Maha Lakshmi. As this was going on, day suddenly broke and the Devotees were saddened to know that the wonderful night had come to an end. When He saw their sadness, Mahaprabhu took the form of the Mother of the Universe and one by one, took all the Devotees on His lap and gave her breast to drink. The Devotees’ sadness disappeared in a moment.
By the Lord’s inconceivable potencies, there remained a divine light in Chandrashekhara’s house for seven days and nights. It was so bright that people were not able to open their eyes there. When asked why this was so, the Vaishnavas would only smile in response.
Participation in Other Pastimes
Chandrashekhara Acharya was also present in the sankirtan procession through Navadwip when Mahaprabhu went to Chand Kazi’s house to deliver him. He was also present when Mahaprabhu took sannyas in Katwa, and he performed all the rituals on His behalf at that time.
So saying, Keshava Bharati went to Katwa. Mahaprabhu followed later to take sannyas. Nityananda, Mukunda Datta and Chandrashekhara accompanied Him and performed all the rituals.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.17.272-3)
Afterwards, Mahaprabhu became frantic to see Vrindavan and set off in that direction. However, Nityananda tricked Him into going to the bank of the Ganges opposite Shantipur, in the meantime, sending Chandrashekhara with a message for the people of Navadwip that Mahaprabhu had taken sannyas and was in Shantipur.
The children showed Mahaprabhu the way to the Ganges, and He set off in that direction, completely absorbed in Krishna consciousness. Nityananda Prabhu said to Chandrashekhara, “Go immediately to Advaita Acharya and tell him that I am coming there with the Lord. Tell him to wait for us with a boat. Then go to Navadwip and fetch Sachi Mata and the Devotees.”
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.3.19-22)
Chandrasekhara did as he was commanded and brought Sachi Mata to Advaita’s house in a palanquin. The Navadwip Devotees also accompanied them.
In the morning, Acharyaratna put Sachi in a palanquin and set off to Shantipur in the company of the other Devotees.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 2.3.137)
When Mahaprabhu came back from South India to Puri, He sent Kala Krishna Das (whom He had rescued from the Bhattahari women) with Nityananda and some other Devotees to inform the Bengali Vaishnavas of His return. Kala Krishna Das met with Chandrashekhara on that occasion. Chandrashekhara also regularly accompanied the other Devotees to Puri to spend Chaturmasya with Mahaprabhu. He participated with him in all the pastimes there, such as cleaning the Gundicha Temple, playing watersports in Narendra Sarovara, etc.
[Excerpted from “Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]