"Try Caitanya Mahaprabhu!"
Do you ever shop at thrift stores? I confess I sometimes do. You never know what you’re going to find—sometimes brand-new items, at a fraction of their department store prices. When you’re on a budget (as I generally am), you get more bang for your buck if you frequent these places. So it happened not long ago, as I was in the neighborhood of such a store, I stopped in to see whether anything jumped out at me. There was an apron which looked perfectly clean, as if it had never been used. Like many people, when I’m cooking, I like to wear an apron to protect whatever it is I’m wearing. Tomato sauce, for one, has a mischievous tendency to splatter when you’re stirring. So, casting aside my momentary doubts, I bought the apron and brought it home. The only thing is, it was monogrammed. The initials woven across the front were TCM.
Somehow, this combination of letters made me think, “Try Caitanya Mahaprabhu.” The phrase reminded me of an old favorite verse in Caitanya-caritamrta, where Krishnadas Kaviraja Gosvami advises his readers, "If you are indeed interested in logic and argument, kindly apply them to the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If you do so, you will find such mercy strikingly wonderful." (Cc. Adi 8.15)
When Lord Krishna came to this planet, five thousand years ago, He spoke the Bhagavad-gita, widely respected all over the world as one of the oldest scriptures. Thoreau and Emerson read it; Gandhi carried it with him. In the Gita, Krishna demands our surrender. In the famous verse from the eighteenth chapter, He declares: sarva-dharman parityajya: “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (B-g. 18.66) But when that selfsame Krishna came, a little over 500 years ago, He came in the guise of a devotee of the Lord. And in this incarnation, He and His associates made no such conditions. Simply “take love of Krishna,” was their decree. It’s said that they “opened the storehouse of love of God and distributed the contents freely to all.”
Now when I go to cook something at home (for the pleasure of my Gaura-Nitai deities), and put on the bargain-store apron with its TCM across the front, I smile to think of the Lord giving His own ‘bargain’—the treasure of the holy name of Krishna, treasure of love of God, given freely to whomever will take it. And I think, “Yes, all those who would debate with logic all day, think of this munificent distributor of love—try Caitanya Mahaprabhu!”