Gaura Purnima is on Sunday, March 12 (Fast til Moonrise).
Although Lord Chaitanya Himself never declared that He was Krishna, the Vedic literature reveals that He was. The Bhagavatam, for instance, not only identifies Lord Chaitanya but also describes His mission:
yajanti hi sumedhasah
“In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the name of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions.” [SB 11.5.32]
Still, even if we grant that Lord Chaitanya is Krishna, we may ask, “Why did Lord Krishna appear in this form?” The answer: Lord Krishna in His form of Lord Chaitanya most generously distributes love of God to the fallen people of the age of Kali. When Lord Krishna appeared on earth five thousand years ago, He blessed the world with His loving pastimes in Vrindavana and with His teachings in the Bhagavad- gita. But with the passage of time, it became more and more difficult for people to fully appreciate and take advantage of that blessing. The present age, the age of Kali, is characterized by the deterioration of spiritual values and understanding. In the course of time, therefore, people became confused about Lord Krishna’s teachings in the Gita. Also, the unfortunate people of this age are unable to practice austerities for self-purification in spiritual life. To rescue these fallen souls, therefore, Lord Krishna has again appeared, but this time as His own pure devotee. Lord Chaitanya.
The specific mission of Lord Chaitanya was, by both example and precept, to distribute the religion (dharma) specifically ordained for this age, the chanting of the holy names of God. Historically Lord Chaitanya may be described as a Bengali saint, but His mercy is not intended merely for the Bengalis. It is for the entire world. He even predicted that the chanting of the name of Krishna would one day be known in every city, town, and village in the world.
The chanting of the holy names of God as delivered by Lord Chaitanya is not only an easy practice, but it is also the topmost method for achieving spiritual perfection. No one but the Supreme Lord Himself could distribute the highest form of devotional service, and thus, Lord Krishna Himself appeared as a devotee. That is Lord Chaitanya.
Lord Chaitanya is Lord Krishna in His most merciful feature. Therefore, even if one doesn’t understand Lord Chaitanya’s identity as the Supreme Lord, but accepts Him as a saintly person or as a social reformer and philosopher, one can still derive the highest benefit by chanting the names of God. Without knowing anything at all about Lord Chaitanya, people throughout the world have enthusiastically participated in Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtana movement of chanting, dancing, and partaking of spiritual food (prasadam). Through the growing Hare Krishna movement, Lord Chaitanya’s prediction is quickly coming to pass, and the holy name of Krishna is known everywhere. The day will soon come when knowledge and appreciation of Lord Chaitanya will also become widespread, because whoever chants Hare Krishna becomes Lord Chaitanya’s follower, and He then enlightens the devotee from within, revealing the highest transcendental knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna Chaitanya.