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The Glories of Sri Nityananda Prabhu

Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

 

Nityanandam aham naumi
sarvananda karam-param
harinama pradam devam
avdhuta shiromanim

"I bow down to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Nityananda Prabhu, Who awards the highest joy of all, the bestower of the Holy Name and the crest jewel of all paramahamsa mendicants."

Of the original 4 vyuhas (expansions) of Sri Vrajendranandan Krishna: Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Anirudha, Lord Sankarshana represents the plenary expansion of Sri Balarama.

Mahaprabhu cannot be approached or understood without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, Who is the cardinal Guru of all the universes and serves as an intermediary between Mahaprabhu and His devotees.

Rarely is the Name Nimai (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) taken without that of Nitai (Lord Nityananda). He is the very second Self of the Lord, manifesting as Balarama to Sri Krishna, Lakshmana to Sri Ram and Nityananda Prabhu to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

All other forms and expansions of the Lord emanate from this second body. Nityananda Prabhu is thus the source of Sankarshana, all the Vishnu's, and Ananta Sesa.

In the manifested earthly lila, Nityananda Prabhu is senior to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by more than ten years.

He is tall and statuesque, like His Master, with the fair complexion of Lord Balarama. Dressed in blue, His radiance surpasses the effulgence of the rising moon at sunset.

He has a deep melodious voice, constantly singing the glories of Sri Krishna and carries a red stick for the protection of the devotees, but feared by the demoniac.

He has the carefree unorthodox mood of a liberated sadhu, so absorbed is He in the love of Godhead, and no one knows what He will do next.

Nityananda Prabhu was born in a village called Ekachakra, in Bengal, on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Magha (February-March). As a child, Nitai (as Nityananda Prabhu was called), loved to enact the pastimes of Sri Krishna or Sri Rama with his friends. He did this so authoritatively particularly the role of Lakshmana, that the entire village wondered how such a young boy could render the intricacies of the character so well.

In his thirteenth year, a travelling sannyasi, said to be Lakshmipati Tirtha, on his itinerant ramblings came to Ekachakra and enjoyed the hospitality of Nitai's parents at his home. Charmed by Nitai's devotion and service, the saint requested Nitai from his parents, as a travelling companion.

His parents, bound by Vedic culture, could not refuse the request of a saint and reluctantly parted with Nitai. However, devastated by the separation from his beloved son, Hadai Pandit, his father, soon gave up his life.

Young Nitai travelled with Lakshmipati Tirtha for about twenty years it is said, during which He visited all the holy places in the country. Nitai was later on initiated by Lakshmipati Tirtha. Nityananda Prabhu visited the same holy pilgrimage places he had visited as Lord Balaram in Dwapara Yuga. Travelling south he arrived in Pandharpur. There Lord Nityananda Prabhu saw the deity of Lord Vitthal.

He also associated with another of Lakshmipati Tirtha's famous disciple, Madhavendra Puri, who although his god-brother, was revered by Nityananda as His siksha guru.

Madhavendra Puri is famous for establishing the sweet truth of Madhurya-rasa which later became an integral part of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Among the other disciples of Madhavendra Puri is Advaita Acarya, and Ishwar Puri (the Guru of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu).

Nityananda Prabhu met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in 1506, when He was thirty-two years old and the Lord twenty years. It is said that when Nityananda Prabhu reached the land of Nadia, knowing his Lord was there, he hid in the house of Nandan Acharya, to heighten the ecstasy of his reunion with His beloved Lord after a separation.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu aware of the arrival of His eternal associate in Navadvipa, dispatched Haridas Thakur and Srivas Pandit to search out Nitai, but they couldn't find Him.

Finally, knowing that Nityananda wanted to be found by Him only, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself went directly to Nityananda Prabhu and the ecstasy of the meeting was so transcendental that every one witnessing it were awed by the sublime experience.

A temple called Sri Gaura-Nityananda commemorates this meeting place in Nadia. After that, Nityananda Prabhu was constantly by Lord Gauranga’s side.

One day Nityananda Prabhu, totally absorbed in a spiritual trance, went naked to Mahaprabhu's house. The devotees in Mahaprabhu’s house were shocked to see Nityananda Prabhu in that state, but Mahaprabhu glorified Him and gave the assembled devotees the pieces of his kaupin (loin cloth) as prasad.

Nityananda would jump in the Ganges and play with the crocodiles. In the road where the big bulls walked, he would jump on their backs and ride them. Nityananda Prabhu was so strong physically, like Baladeva.

Nityananda Prabhu is the main pillar of the preaching mission of Sriman Mahaprabhu. Before Mahaprabhu took sannyas once at a function, Mahaprabhu gave permission to Nityananda Prabhu to hold a Vyasa-puja ceremony. Nityananda Prabhu performed the puja, but He offered the final garland to Mahaprabhu, thereby showing Chaitanya's position as Supreme Lord.

Nityananda Prabhu extended His mercy to even hardened criminals like Jagai and Madhai, delivering them from their sinful lives and protecting them from the wrath of even Mahaprabhu.

The presence of Nityananda Prabhu is always felt in the presence of one's own guru, for the guru is considered to be the living manifestation of Nityananda Prabhu's love and mercy, and his sakti (power) is what gives the disciple the ability to perform devotional service and experience spiritual bliss.

The Guru is therefore regarded as the expansion of Prabhu Nityananda. Sri Guru is a nitya-parikara, an eternal associate of Sri Sri Radha Krishna. The last limit of guru-tattva is nityananda-tattva. The mula guru-tattva, or the original guru-principle, is nityananda-tattva, Sri Nityananda Prabhu. By gradually descending, Sri Guru, or nityananda-tattva, comes down to us. Nitaichandra is thus both the diksa-guru and siksa-guru.

After Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyas and went to Puri, Nityananda Prabhu followed Him there. Nityananda Prabhu wanted to always serve Mahaprabhu, but because he had been initiated by Sri Laksmipati-tirtha, and he was also older than Him in years, Mahaprabhu honoured Him as a guru.

After some years with him in Puri, Mahaprabhu took him aside and it is said, confidentially asked him to return to Bengal, get married to his eternal consorts who had appeared there and were waiting for him, and preach His mission there in that land.

When Nityananda Prabhu returned to Bengal, following Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's instructions, He abandoned His avadhuta status and become a householder. He married Jahnava devi and Vasudha, the two daughters of Suryadasa Sarakhel, who was the brother of Gauridasa Pandit (an intimate associate of Mahaprabhu and the spiritual master of Shyamananda Pandit).

Nityananda Prabhu had a son (Virchandara) and a daughter (Gangadevi) from Vasudha. Soon after Vasudha passed away and Jahnava devi looked after the children.

Soon after Mahaprabhu's disappearance, Lord Nityananda also wound up His earthly pastimes, by merging into the deity of Krishna, known as Bankim Raya, not far from Ekacakra.

There is an interesting story about Bankim Raya, the younger brother of Nityananda Prabhu, who is none other than Sri Chaitanya himself. Banka as he was called, used to take care of cultivating the family's farm land in Ekachakra. One day Hadai Pandit, the boys' father, engaged many labourers to clear all the weeds and wild bushes from a large patch of land. It was midday and the labours had not yet finished their work.

Banka Raya addressed them,"It is noon and you must all be hungry. Please return to your homes, take your meal and then come back in the afternoon to finish the job." After they left, Banka Raya himself laboured to clear the patch of land of all weeds and bushes. He collected the weeds and piled them up in a big mound by the time the labourers returned.

When they saw what the small boy had done all by himself, they went to Hadai Pandit and said, "Your son Banka Raya has alone cleared that huge plot of land. See the big mound of weeds and bushes he has made." Hadai Pandit and many other villagers came to see the miracle. When young Banka Raya saw them coming, he hid himself behind the mound of weeds and disappeared.

When they couldn't find him anywhere, Hadai Pandit and his wife Padmavati, were greatly agrieved and cried aloud. Then they heard an incorporeal voice saying "You will not see me again in the same form. On the coming Ekadasi day you will find me floating in the river Yamuna in the form of a wooden deity. (The small river in Ekachakra is named Yamuna).

On that Ekadasi day people went there and at the proper time they saw a wooden image floating in the water. Nityananda Prabhu himself picked up the deity and installed him. That deity is known as Bankim Raya or Bankim dev and is still there in the village to this day. It is said that Nityananda Prabhu merged into this same deity when he disappeared from this world.

After Nityananda Prabhu's disappearance, Jahnava devi initiated Virchandra, and also became siksha guru to the second generation of goswamis, i.e., Shyamananda Pandit, Srinivasa Pandit and Narottama dasa Thakur.

To be delivered to the Lotus feet of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu-Sri Radha Krishna, one must pray earnestly to Lord Nityananda Prabhu as the adi-guru (original spiritual master).

 

Nitai Gaur Hari Bol !!

Jai Gurudev!

Jai Jai Sri Radhey !