06/05/17 0 Comment
Introduction One of the most prominent religious figures of India during the nineteenth century, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was a mystic and a yogi who translated…
Nityananda Prabhu was born to a religious Bengali Brahmin, known as Pandit Hadai and Padmavatiin Ekachakra (a small village in Birbhum district of present West Bengal) around the year 1474. His devotion and great talent for singing Vaishnava hymns (bhajan) were apparent from a very early age. In his youth, he would generally play the part of Lakshman, Rama’s younger brother, in dramatic re-enactments of Lord Rama’s pastimes, along with the other boys of Ekachakra.
At the age of thirteen, Nitai left home with a travelling renunciate (sannyasi) known as Lakshmipati Tirtha. Nitai’s father, Hadai Pandit, had offered the travelling sannyasi anything he wished as a gift. To this Lakshmipati Tirtha replied that he was in need of someone to assist him in his travels to the holy places (he was about to begin a pilgrimage) and that Nitai would be perfect for the job. As he had given his word Hadai Pandit reluctantly agreed and Nitai joined him in his travels. This started Nitai’s long physical and spiritual journey through India which would get him in contact with important Gurus of the Vaishnava tradition. Apart from Lakshmipati Tirtha, who at some point initiated him, he was also associated with Lakshmipati Tirtha’s famous other disciples: Madhavendra Puri, Advaita Acharya, and Ishvara Puri, the spiritual master of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Nitai married two daughters of Suryadasa Sarakhela, Vasudha and Jahnava. After marriage, he settled in Khardaha in 24 Parganas district in West Bengal. He had a son, Virachandra Goswami or Virabhadra, and a daughter, Ganga, by his first wife Vasudha. Virabhadra was later initiated to vaishnava rites by his stepmother Jahnava.
He was Halayudha in Krishna lila. According to Premavilasa 24, Nityananda was a disciple of Ishvara Puri. Shri Jiva states that Nityananda was a disciple of Shankarshana Puri who was a disciple of Madhavendra Puri. But Bhaktiratnakara states that Nityananda took diksha from Laksmipati who was the guru of Madhavendra Puri. If this were the case then Nityananda would have been the great-guru of Lord Chaitanya and a friendly relationship could not have existed between the two. According to CBh. Madhavendra Puri dealt with Nityananda as a friend, while the latter showed guru-like reverence to the former.
Nityananda Prabhu was born on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of Magha (February-March) in the village of Ekachakra in the district of Birbhum in 1395 Saka (1473 AD). His father was Hadai Pandita (Hado Ojha) and his mother was Padmavati. His paternal grandfather, Sundaramalla Nakadi Baduri was a brahmana of the Radha clan.
Maha-Vishnu again enters every universe as the reservoir of all living entities, and becomes Garbhodakashayi Vishnu. From Garbhodakashayi Vishnu comes KshirodakashayiVishnu, who is the expansion of the Supersoul of every living entity. Garbhodakashayi Vishnu also has His own Vaikuntha planet (spiritual residence) in every universe, where He lives as the Supersoul (Kshirodakashayi Vishnu) or supreme controller of the universe. Garbhodakashayi Vishnu reclines in the midst of the watery portion of the universe and generates the first living creature of the universe, Brahma. The imaginary universal form is a partial manifestation of Garbhodakashayi Vishnu.
On the Vaikuntha planet in every universe is an ocean of milk, and within that ocean is an island called Svetadvepa, where Lord Vishnu lives. In this way, there are two Svetadvepas (spiritual abodes of Lord Vishnu)–one in the abode of Krishna on Krishnaloka in the spiritual realm, and the other in the ocean of milk on the Vaikuntha or spiritual planet in every universe. The Svetadvepa in the abode of Krishna is identical with Vrindavana-dhama, which is the sacred place where Krishna Himself appears to display His loving pastimes. In the Svetadvepawithin every universe is a Sesha form of Godhead, which is another aspect of Lord Balarama, who expands in numerous ways to serve as the Lord’s support, and serves Lord Vishnu by assuming the form of His umbrella, slippers, couch, pillows, garments, residence, sacred thread, throne, and so on.
Nityananda Prabhu is an expansion of the same Lord Baladeva in Krishnaloka. Therefore, Nityananda Prabhu is the original Sankarshan, and Maha-sankarshan and His expansions as the purushas in the universes are plenary expansions of Nityananda Prabhu.
Today is traditionally a fast until noon in observance of the appearance anniversary of Lord Nityananda. Nityananda Prabhu appeared as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s principal associate for spreading the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord. He appeared in 1474 in the village of Ekachakra, now in West Bengal. He especially spread the holy name of Krishna throughout Bengal. His beauty was so enchanting and He was so full of ecstatic love for Krishna that, wherever He moved, crowds of people would follow and become lovers of God. He is considered an incarnation of Krishna’s principal expansion, Balarama.
Lord Nityananda is the eternal associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rarely is the name Nimai (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) taken without that of Nitai (Lord Nityananda). 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. He is the Lord’s active principle in both creation and lila. He is the second body of the Lord, manifesting as Balaram to Shri Krishna, Lakshman to Shri 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 Sankarshan, all the Vishu’s, and Ananta Shesha. As Vishnu tattva He and Advaita Acharya are worshipped in the same category as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the manifested earthly lila, Nityananda Prabhu is senior to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by more than a decade. He is statue like His Master, with the whitish complexion of Lord Balarama. His garments resemble a cluster of blue lotus flowers and His effulgence is said to surpass the grandeur of a rising moon at sunset. He has a deep melodious voice, constant singing the glories of Shri Krishna and carries a red stick with benedictions for the Devotees, but feared by the demoniac. He has the carefree mood of a wild avadhuta, so absorbed is He in the love of Godhead, and no one knows what He will do next.
Nityananda Prabhu met Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in 1506, when He was 32 years old and the Lord 20 years. It is said that when Nityananda Prabhu reached the land of Nadia, He hid in the house of Nandanacharya, to heighten the ecstasy of meeting through separation. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu aware of the arrival of His eternal associate dispatched Haridas Thakur and Shrivas Pandit to search out Nitai, but they failed. Finally unable to bear the separation any longer, 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 Shri Gaura-Nityananda commemorates this meeting place in Nadia.
Nityananda Prabhu in His role as the original spiritual master, was instrumental in spreading the yuga dharma of sankritana all over the Gaudia desh (Bengal, Orrisa). His mercy knew no bounds, and people fortunate to come in contact with Him were inundated with the love of Godhead. It was by His mercy that Raghunatha dasa, one of the six Goswamis started the famous Danda Mahotsava festival of Panihatti, a tradition that continues to this day, and was thus able to serve Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He extended His mercy to even fallen souls like Jagai and Madhai, delivering them from the sinful lives and protecting them from the wrath of even Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Indeed His mercy knew no bounds, and fortunate were the people who tasted the nectar of His instructions.