The Most Beloved, Incomparably Compassionate and Extremely Powerful Commanders of Śrī Caitanya Mahāp
In symbolically addressing his own mind in Manaḥ-śikṣā (7), Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī has advised us to always render sincere devotional service to the most beloved commanders of the army of Śrīman Mahāprabhu:
pratiṣṭhāśā dhṛṣṭā śvapaca-ramaṇī me hṛdi naṭet
kathaṁ sādhu-premā spṛśati śucir etan nanu manaḥ
sadā tvaṁ sevasva prabhu-dayita-sāmantam atulaṁ
yathā tāṁ niṣkāśya tvaritam iha taṁ veśayati saḥ
O mind, how can pure divine love appear in my heart as long as the shameless dog-eating, outcaste woman of the desire for prestige is audaciously dancing there? Therefore, always remember and serve the immeasurably powerful commanders of the army of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the beloved devotees of the Lord. They will at once banish this outcaste woman and initiate the flow of immaculate vraja-prema in your heart.
These intimate associates of Śrīman Mahāprabhu consider the Lord to be extremely dear to their heart, more so than their own lives. The depth of their faith in His words and instructions is such that they live purely according to the principles He practiced and preached. Śrīman Mahāprabhu personally sent these great personalities to this planet specifically for the welfare of the fallen conditioned souls like us.
In Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma, Śrīman Mahāprabhu gave His first marching orders to His commanders Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura:
śunô śunô nityānanda, śunô haridāsa
sarvatra āmāra ājñā karahô prakāśa
prati ghare ghare giyā karô ei bhikṣā
‘bôlô kṛṣṇa, bhajô kṛṣṇa, karô kṛṣṇa-sikṣā’
ihā bai āra nā bôlibā, bôlāi
bādina-avasāne āsi’ āmāre kahibā
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.8-10)
The Lord said, “O Nityānanda! O Haridāsa! Listen. Make My command known everywhere. Go from house to house and beg from all the residents in the following way: ‘Chant Kṛṣṇa’s name, serve Kṛṣṇa, and learn about Kṛṣṇa!’ ” Here, ‘learn about Kṛṣṇa’ refers to the teachings spoken by Śrī Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna, Uddhava, the Vrajavāsīs and others, as well as the words spoken about Kṛṣṇa by Śrī Brahmā, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, Jayadeva Gosvāmī and others.
Śrīman Mahāprabhu continued, “Do not speak or cause anyone to speak about anything other than Kṛṣṇa. At the end of the day, return here and report to Me all that happened.”
Just like a king, Śrīman Mahāprabhu wanted to expand His kingdom, and He therefore expressed to His commanders Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and Śrī Haridāsa Ṭhākura His desire to conquer the empire of māyā, or the illusory potency of Bhagavān, and to make its residents naturalized citizens of His own kingdom.
It is the duty of an army commander to defeat the enemy and thereby protect and expand the boundaries of his king’s empire. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, the foremost commander of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s army, was so eager to serve the Lord’s order that without selfish interest and at the risk of His own life, He delivered His Master’s message to even the most sinful persons, like the drunkards Jagāī and Mādhāī. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu was of the opinion that Śrīman Mahāprabhu had instructed Him to preach His order to everyone, and so He wanted to make even the most sinful of souls aware of the divine message. Why should they be left out?
Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī has referred to these commanders of Śrīman Mahāprabhu as atulam, or incomparable. They possess unparalleled powers and can exhibit a supreme might that can transform even the most sinful persons into not only ordinary devotees, but into mahā-bhāgavatas, or the topmost self-realized devotees of the Lord, fully capable of rendering the highest welfare to other living entities. It is only by the causeless mercy of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu that Jagāī and Madhāī received the mercy of Śrīman Mahāprabhu:
brahmāra durlabha āji e dõhāre dibô
e dõhāre jagatera uttama kôribô
e dui-paraśe ĵe kôrilô gaṅgā-snāna
e dõhāre bôlibe se gaṅgāra samāna
nityānanda-pratijñā anyathā nāhi haya
nityānanda-icchā ei jānihô niścaya
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya khaṇḍa 13.232-34)
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said to the assembled devotees, “Today I shall reward Jagāī and Mādhāī with a benediction that is rare even for Śrī Brahmā to attain. I shall make them the most honorable devotees in the world. All those who would normally take bath in the Gaṅgā after touching them, will now say that these two men are as pure as the Gaṅgā herself. A promise or vow made by Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu can never go unfulfilled. Please know for certain that all this has happened solely because of Śrī Nityānanda’s desire.”
In connection to Jagāī and Mādhāī, Śrī Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura Mahāśaya has written:
kāra śakti bujhite caitanya-abhimata
dui dasyu kare dui mahābhāgavata
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (Madhya khaṇḍa 13.243)
Who can understand the mysterious plan of Śrīman Mahāprabhu? He transformed two thieves into mahā-bhāgavatas, the topmost devotees of the Lord.
By the mercy of Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura, a prostitute named Lakṣahīrā was transformed into a highly respected devotee:
prasiddhā vaiṣṇavī hôilô parama-mahāntī
baḓô baḓô vaiṣṇava tā̃ra darśanete ĵānti
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya-līla 3.142)
The prostitute thus became a renowned and highly advanced Vaiṣṇavī. Many prominent Vaiṣṇavas would come see her.