On His way back from Vṛndāvana He first came to Prayāga, where He met Rūpa Gosvāmī along with his younger brother, Anupama. Then He came down to Vārāṇasī (Benares), where he became the guest of Śrī Tapana Miśra and Candraśekhara, assisted by a Mahārāṣṭra brāhmaṇa. At that time Vārāṇasī was headed by a great sannyāsī of the Māyāvāda school named Śrīpāda Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī. When the Lord was at Vārāṇasī, the people in general became more attracted to Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu on account of His mass saṅkīrtana movement. Wherever He visited, especially the Viśvanātha temple, thousands of pilgrims would follow Him. Some were attracted by His bodily features, and others were attracted by His melodious songs glorifying the Lord.
The Māyāvādī sannyāsīs designate themselves as Nārāyaṇa. Vārāṇasī is still overflooded with many Māyāvādī sannyāsīs. Some people who saw the Lord in His saṅkīrtana party considered Him to be actually Nārāyaṇa, and this report reached the camp of the great sannyāsī Prakāśānanda.
In India there is always a kind of spiritual rivalry between the Māyāvāda and Bhāgavata schools, and thus when the news of the Lord reached Prakāśānanda he knew that the Lord was a Vaiṣṇava sannyāsī, and therefore he minimized the value of the Lord before those who brought him the news. He deprecated the activities of the Lord because of His preaching the saṅkīrtana movement, which was in his opinion nothing but religious sentiment. Prakāśānanda was a profound student of the Vedānta, and he advised his followers to give attention to the Vedānta and not to indulge in saṅkīrtana.