It was summer 1975, a Saturday night Harinama Sankirtana party, 100 saints strong on the streets of Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Being a new recruit at that time, I was feeling a little sick and feverish so I was not much “into it”. Just then a blissful loving swami with a big pony tail came up to me while playing wildly enthusiastic mrdanga.
Smiling with the intoxicating taste of love divine, that naturally happy swami said, “Hey, come on, what are you doing? This is Gauranga’s bliss party, so you have to CHANT AND DANCE LIKE A MADMAN!!!”
There and then I went whirling, spinning and jumping, “Hari Bol!” “Hari Bol” as I danced “like a madman” down the sidewalks of Hollywood! Little did I know then, that 500 years ago Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was also doing the same.
Gauranga Mahaprabhu danced in divine madness down the footpaths and byways of India while singing the most magnetic and transforming prema-nama Harinama sankirtana of Sri Krishna’s transcendental names.
Mahaprabhu flooded the lanes of Navadvipa with rivers of pure prema-nama enriched with His dancing in the madness of gopi-bhava. Hari is an extremely rasika, Vraja lila-filled name, so naturally it was one of Gaurahari’s favorites.
Dancing through Nadia, Nimai, the genius child, sweetly and ecstatically sang:
“Hari! Hari!” “Hari! Hari!” “Hari! Hari!” “Hari! Hari!” “Hari! Hari!” (Caitanya Caritamrita 1.7.159)
“Hari bol!” “Hari bol!” “Hari bol!” “Hari bol!” “Hari bol!” “Hari bol!” (Caitanya Bhagavata 3.5.155)
Having heard directly from Mahaprabhu’s associates, the Gaura-lila Vedavyasa, Sri Vrindavana Das Thakura, recorded the “all-time favorite” Vraja rasika divine nama-sankirtana names of Sri Krishna that Mahaprabhu loved to sing throughout His blissful, compassionate presence. One can see below that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu often juxtaposed these favorite names to savor different flavors of rasa.
Gathering a group of loving friends, playing mrdangas, karatals, whompers, and divine horns [srnga], Sri Chaitanya sang:
jaya kṛṣṇa murāri, mukunda vanamālī (Caitanya Bhagavata 2.8.276)
jaya kṛṣṇa mukunda, murāri vanamālī (Caitanya Bhagavata 2.23.422)
jaya kṛṣṇa gopāla, govinda vanamālī (Caitanya Bhagavata 2.16.100)
jaya kṛṣṇa govinda gopāla vanamālī (Caitanya Bhagavata 2.26.17)
kṛṣṇa rāma mukunda, murāri vanamālī (Caitanya Bhagavata 2.23.29)
hari bolo mukunda, gopāla vanamālī (Caitanya Bhagavata 2.23.435)
Putting the above divya nama together minus references, one gets a complete song that could be sung on Sankirtana. Here it is (refrain: repeat 2x):
hari bol, hari bol, hari bol
jaya krishna murāri, mukunda vanamālī
jaya krishna mukunda, murāri vanamālī
jaya krishna gopāla, govinda vanamālī
jaya krishna govinda, gopāla vanamālī
krishna rāma mukunda, murāri vanamālī
hari bolo mukunda, gopala vanamali
hari bol, hari bol, hari bol!
During Audarya Purusottama, Sri Chaitanya’s Dakshina Bharata tirtha yatra, Mahaprabhu moved along like a maddened lion (matta simha) absorbed in prema-sankirtan singing:
kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! he
kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! he
kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! rakṣa mām
kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! kṛṣṇa! pāhi mām
kṛṣṇa! keśava! kṛṣṇa! keśava! kṛṣṇa! keśava! rakṣa mām
(Caitanya Caritamrita 2.7.95-96)
Madness: Two Kinds
The English word mad comes from the Sanskrit word mada or matta, which means madness or intoxication. Madness (matta) means to be completely obsessed with, or to be frantic, turbulent, crazy and wild about someone or something. Madness is of two kinds: mundane and transcendental. In other words, one can be crazy for Krishna or crazy for Maya, the illusion of enjoyment.
Regarding the varieties of madness, Srila Prabhupada said, “There are two kinds of madness [material & spiritual]. One madness is for material enjoyment which entangles people more and more in the process of birth and death. So this material madness you have to give up.
“And you have to become mad after Krishna. Then your life is successful. That [divine transcendental] madness is exhibited by Caitanya Mahāprabhu, wherein He experiences one moment to be one yuga. Tears in the eyes like the torrents of rain, Mahaprabhu cried, “I feel the whole world is vacant in separation from Govinda.”
“This madness is wanted, missing Govinda madness. When Krishna left Vṛndāvana and went to Mathurā, the Vraja gopis became so mad that they had no other business than just crying torrents of rain. That is wanted. That is Vṛndāvana life.” (folio: 760910SB.VRN)
“For others, madness is a disease. But if anyone hears about or sees Mahaprabhu’s divine madness in Krishna prema, then that madness will destroy one’s bondage to repeated birth and death.)” (Chaitanya-chandrodaya 2.119)
Definition of Divine Madness
Sri Nama Alvar, the famous Vaisnava premi saint, defined divine madness thus: “When one is overcome by bhakti exaltation and trembling in every cell of his being, one must freely and passively allow this influence to penetrate one’s entire being. It will carry one beyond all known states of consciousness.
“So never be afraid or embarrassed that others may think that you are mad. For that would suppress the display of the rapturous bhakti that deluges your being. That very divine madness is what distinguishes one from ordinary mortals who have no access to such beatific vision.
“That divine madness is the bhakta’s pride. Enveloped in that divine madness, one should follow the saint who implores, “Just sing and cry, laugh, jump and run about so that everyone can witness it.” (Hindu Mysticism)
Crazy for Radha-Krishna ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe! (see part two)