Madhya 6: The Liberation of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya
A summary of the sixth chapter is given by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in his Amṛta-pravāha-bhāṣya as follows. When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu entered the temple of Jagannātha, He immediately fainted. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya then took Him to his home. Meanwhile, Gopīnātha Ācārya, the brother-in-law of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, met Mukunda Datta and talked to him about Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s acceptance of sannyāsa and His journey to Jagannātha Purī. After hearing about Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s fainting and His being carried to the house of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, people crowded there to see the Lord. Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu and other devotees then visited the Jagannātha temple, and when they came back to the house of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu returned to external consciousness. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya received everyone and distributed mahā-prasādam with great care. The Bhaṭṭācārya then became acquainted with Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and arranged accommodations at his aunt’s house. His brother-in-law, Gopīnātha Ācārya, established that Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu was Kṛṣṇa Himself, but Sārvabhauma and his many disciples could not accept this. However, Gopīnātha Ācārya convinced Sārvabhauma that no one can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead without being favored by Him. He proved by śāstric quotation, quotations from the revealed scriptures, that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was Kṛṣṇa Himself in person. Still, Sārvabhauma did not take these statements very seriously. Hearing all these arguments, Caitanya Mahāprabhu told His devotees that Sārvabhauma was His spiritual master and that whatever he said out of affection was for everyone’s benefit.
When Sārvabhauma met Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he asked Him to hear Vedānta philosophy from him. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted this proposal, and for seven days He continally heard Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya explain the Vedānta-sūtra. However, the Lord remained very silent. Because of His silence, the Bhaṭṭācārya asked Him whether He was understanding the Vedānta philosophy, and the Lord replied, “Sir, I can understand Vedānta philosophy very clearly, but I cannot understand your explanations.” There was then a discussion between the Bhaṭṭācārya and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu concerning the authority of the Vedic scriptures, specifically the Upaniṣads and Vedānta-sūtra. The Bhaṭṭācārya was an impersonalist, but Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu proved that the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He proved that the conceptions of the Māyāvādī philosophers concerning the impersonal Absolute Truth are incorrect.
The Absolute Truth is neither impersonal nor without power. The greatest mistake made by the Māyāvādī philosophers is in conceiving the Absolute Truth to be impersonal and without energy. In all the Vedas, the unlimited energies of the Absolute Truth have been accepted. It is also accepted that the Absolute Truth has His transcendental, blissful, eternal form. According to the Vedas, the Lord and the living entity are equal in quality but different quantitatively. The real philosophy of the Absolute Truth states that the Lord and His creation are inconceivably and simultaneously one and different. The conclusion is that the Māyāvādī philosophers are actually atheists. There was much discussion on this issue between Sārvabhauma and Caitanya Mahāprabhu, but despite all his endeavors, the Bhaṭṭācārya was defeated in the end.
At the request of Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then explained the ātmārāma verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in eighteen different ways. When the Bhaṭṭācārya came to his senses, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu disclosed His real identity. The Bhaṭṭācārya then recited one hundred verses in praise of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and offered his obeisances. After this, Gopīnātha Ācārya and all the others, having seen the wonderful potencies of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, became very joyful.
One morning after this incident, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu received some prasādam from Jagannātha and offered it to Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya. Without caring for formality, the Bhaṭṭācārya immediately partook of the mahā-prasādam. On another day, when the Bhaṭṭācārya asked Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu the best way to worship and meditate, the Lord advised him to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. On another day, the Bhaṭṭācārya wanted to change the reading of the tat te ’nukampām verse because he did not like the word mukti-pada. He wanted to substitute the word bhakti-pada. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu advised Sārvabhauma not to change the reading of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, because mukti-pada indicated the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa. Having become a pure devotee, the Bhaṭṭācārya said, “Because the meaning is hazy, I still prefer bhakti-pada.” At this, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and the other inhabitants of Jagannātha Purī became very pleased. Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya thus became a pure Vaiṣṇava, and the other learned scholars there followed him.