Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a reincarnation of Krishna, not considered a direct avatar of Vishnu, but for all intents and purposes, the very same, I would say. Since at the end of my last post I touched on the avatar Balarama who was Krishna’s brother and most devoted companion, I will now discuss another such entity, the aforementioned Chaitanya.
Chaitanya was a Vaisnav saint born in 1486 of the Gregorian Calendar. He is responsible for the advent of the Gaudiya bhakti sect of Hinduism, the name of which seems to have derived from Chaitanya’s childhood name “Gauranga”, or “He of fair complexion.” The saint is often referred to as “Krishna Caitanya”. Other than that, I will not get too much into his biography, as there is a higher purpose to be served here.
He is said to be the incarnation of Radha and Krishna. Radha-Krishna is the incarnation of Divine Love, or the premavatar. Radha was Krishna’s most adored gopi (cowherd girl). Their story is told in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Not only is it a fine model for devoted love between two lovers, but it is also an allegory for any devotee’s love for the Divine. It is said that, like Balarama, she is yet another extension of the “undivided form” of Krishna. And it is my opinion that if Balarama is considered an avatar of Vishnu on account of his close spiritual proximity to Bhagavan Krishna, so should Radha.
Krishna expanded himself into the form of his beloved Radha in order to partake in Lila, the “play of God” more fully, as there was only so much play Krishna could engage in alone. Again an allegory for the engagement of human beings in the act of love to “make the world go ’round.”
The idea of this type of devotion toward a physical form of God now strikes me as a bit counterproductive, but everyone has their path. And I do understand that it is not a literal thing. Not supposed to be anyway, though some take it that way. And they are entitled to do so. But at its core, the allegory is about how one must yearn for the formless infinite Brahman, at the finding of which, yearning stops.