Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu is supposed to be the incarnation of Baladeva in Vraja-maṇḍala. Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura says, balarāma haila nitāi. Sanātana Gosvāmī also mentions Nityānanda Prabhu as the incarnation of Baladeva in Vṛndāvana, but some persons within the Gauḍīya sampradaya preach that Nityānanda Prabhu is the incarnation of Rādhārāṇī. So, a vehement protest is given from the side of the Gauḍīya Maṭha and we cannot recognise them as the true followers of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava faith and Mahāprabhu.
Nityānanda Prabhu took His birth in the district of Birbhum on the Western side of Katwa, north west of Ekacakra, where the Pāṇḍavas in disguise lived for sometime. Nearby is also shown a tree where the Baka-raksasa was killed by Bhīma-sena. In Ekacakra near Garbhavāsa and many other places, we can trace the pastimes of Nityānanda Prabhu. Nityānanda Prabhu’s son established a temple nearby, and śrī -mūrtis were installed by Him. About two hundred years ago there was a great storm in that area and many ancient arrangements were devastated. A big zamindar and devotee of the Gauḍīya sampradaya, came and restored the pūjā, the worshipping arrangements at Vīracandrapura. All were desolated at that time.
Nityānanda Prabhu’s mother’s name was Padmāvatī, and His father’s name was Hāḍāi Paṇḍita. Ojhā was their title although now we do not find any such title. When Nityānanda Prabhu was about twelve years old one sannyāsī came and begged Hāḍāi Paṇḍita for His son, “I want your son”. The sannyāsī came and begged for the child, only one son, and a son like Nityānanda Prabhu who was very charming. It was almost impossible to live, bidding goodbye to such a son, but what to do? A sannyāsī has come and asked for Him and they could not avoid the sannyāsī. they had to give their only son to Him. That sannyāsī came and took Nityānanda Prabhu away from His house when He was only twelve years old and Nityānanda Prabhu wandered with him through the whole of India, visiting all the holy places.
Mahāprabhu did not visit so many holy places. He generally travelled through the south of India, not Northern India entirely, only Vṛndāvana and Prayāga. Dvārakā and Badarīnārāyaṇa were excluded by Mahāprabhu, but Nityānanda Prabhu visited all the holy places that exist in India. After Mādhavendra Purī disappeared, He was wandering in the holy places. In the meantime Mahāprabhu, coming back from Gayā, began His saṅkīrtana-līlā in Navadvīpa.
Nityānanda Prabhu was wandering here and there and lastly He went to Vṛndāvana. He was searching for something because of His inner identification with that of Baladeva. When Kṛṣṇa came He was feeling some tendency of attraction towards Him. In the last period, He began searching in Vṛndāvana very scrutinizingly but did not find that. Then He got some inspiration where to find Kṛṣṇa. “He’s now in Navadvīpa. I shall go there.” With this inspiration in His Heart, He came to Navadvīpa-dhāma.
Mahāprabhu had already begun His saṅkīrtana movement, and He had a dream at night that someone came in a chariot and at the peak of the chariot there was a palm tree; and He is searching, “Where is Nimāi Paṇḍita’s house? Where is Nimāi Paṇḍita’s house?” Someone then said, “Here is Nimāi Paṇḍita’s house”. Mahāprabhu then told to the devotees. “A great personage has come here to Navadvīpa-dhama last night. You try to find out that great person”. The followers tried their best – they searched in every nook and corner but could not find Nityānanda Prabhu. They reported to Mahāprabhu, “We tried our best but could not trace any noble person, any saint, or any big man”. Then Mahāprabhu went directly to a particular house which is known as Nandana Ācārya’s house, and there they found a new gentleman, stout and strong, and godly in appearance, sitting on the veranda of that house. The devotees of Mahāprabhu could then understand Him to be the man of whom Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva was telling about. He was sitting there in red robes, all others were white dressed. Someone then chanted some bhāgavata-śloka, and so many spiritual symptoms gradually appeared in His body. They could then understand what a great man He is for He was filled with divine love. He was the agreed personage and gradually coming in intimate connection with Him they could understand that He was Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu. Outwardly His movements were not like a scholarly person, or an ordinary man; He was surcharged with a high type of energy and divinity coming forth from His complexion.
Mahāprabhu gradually began preaching. Hari Dāsa Ṭhākura and Nityānanda Prabhu were both given orders. “Go from door to door and request them to leave everything aside and take the name of Kṛṣṇa. Whomever you may meet going from door to door, approach and ask them to take the name of Kṛṣṇa leaving aside everything else.”
At that time Navadvīpa-dhāma was mostly filled with tantrics, that is the worship of Māyā Devī. The tāntrikas say, “This Māyā is disturbing us, so we must take shelter under Her feet. When she will be propitiated and satisfied then she will loosen, open the door and we will get out and become Śiva. By nature, by birth, jīva means Śiva, Śiva means the master of Māyā. We are now in the clutches of Māyā, misunderstanding. When the goddess of misunderstanding is satisfied with us, she will then withdraw and we shall find a door out, we shall go to the other side. There are so many liberated souls there and we shall join them. They are all enjoying the position of Śiva, the master of Māyā. Māyā cannot force them to do anything and everything as she wills rather she serves Her masters. Māyā serves Śiva, the liberated souls. Māyā serves them, though in the relativity of Māyā but they cannot control so they render some service to the liberated souls and they are known as Śiva. Pāśa baddho bhavet jīva pāśa mukta sadā-śiva – when within bondage He is jīva, a fallen soul, when he is outside the bondage of this Māyā, this misunderstanding, then he’s always Śiva. He can then move here and there at his sweet will and Māyā cannot force him, rather she will come to serve him, and that is liberation. We shall then serve Māyā Devī and the tantric process involves something, in this way she will be satisfied.”
They use many things – they may drink wine and eat meat. They offer them to the deities Māyā, Śakti and Kālī. They also enjoy the women in different moods. They think that the application of mixing with ladies is such, that they will get liberation from the charm of the ladies. In this way in their process, they approve of the wine, the meat and the ladies – it seems to be very harmful to us but these are the underlying principles of the tāntrika upāsana.
“In our method, our process of approaching these things which we feel temptation for, we shall get liberation from them. They come to attract us towards them, but by a particular process we shall handle them. We shall be masters of those poisonous things.”
At that time Navadvīpa was filled with such tāntrikas. Mahāprabhu Śrī Gaurāṅga began His preaching, attempting to convince everyone to give up everything and take to chanting the Name of Kṛṣṇa, Nārāyaṇa. He then said, “Not only will you be out of Māyā but you will attain positive life in Vaikuṇṭha, in Vṛndāvana. That is higher attainment, and what is to be attained by worshipping the śakti in the method they are following, that is reactionary and sometime again they will have to evolve.” This is mentioned in the sastra, but not very extensively. If you are very particular then you will have to see that the relativity of this negative world is not safe. You must enter the positive world, then you will be safe. That is not only mere liberation, emancipation from the opposite forces, but practical participation in the serving line, which is very pure. Not to be non-selfish, but one must be God-centred. God-serviced. The positive world is there and that is full of pervasive happiness, and that we can attain only through service. Here we are an enjoying unit, an exploiting unit, but it must be given up to get out of the reactionary tendency of life. But we must not wait on the fence, for that is not a safe position.
Then again, that is not saying much because withdrawal from the negative side is not enough. There is a positive world and that is meant for a real high form of life, and that can be attained through service. Service is great, to sacrifice one’s own interest, not for any part but for the whole, the absolute good, that is great. Nothing can be compared to that. It is not calculative but automatic. To reach the automatic stage of service with love is high pay: so give up all these habits and these former engagements with a lower standard of worshipping, penance and all these things. “Die to Live.” A radical change must be welcomed in life. Life is worth living, life is worth living and it is only open to the human section. In other species it is impossible to get a glimpse of such high light and to begin that way of life, for there are only a very few human beings in the creation. What are the number of human bodies, very small compared to the whole of creation, and that is the door to Heaven so you must try to have a positive life. He is Kṛṣṇa. He is all-attractive. He is beautiful, He is the highest reality, He is all accommodating and most charming. Our life will receive its fulfilment if we can approach that Lord, especially by taking His Holy Name. In this age of Kali, a special sanction has been given to us that by taking the holy name with sat-saṅga, with the real saints, then we can make progress, enter and approach that high line of preaching.
Nityānanda Prabhu was a dynamo of energy and Hari Dāsa Ṭhākura could not follow, a little trouble to carry out the order of Mahāprabhu, what to do? One day there were so many guṇḍā type persons, they came with an attacking spirit, “You are disturbing us, we are not religious and you have come to preach religion to us: what right have you got? Why do you come to disturb us? As a big society we are following a particular creed, and you are so bold as to blame us for not being religious men. You have come with a new idea of religion and we are to accept that? You fools! If again you come here you will be taught a good lesson.”
In this way they were threatened, but Mahāprabhu still said, “You must go!” Then one day they met Jagāi and Mādhāi. Jagāi and Mādhāi were from brāhmaṇa birth but they did not have any care for religion. They were also entrusted with some administration in the Muslim government. They had some connection with the government and they themselves were guṇḍās. They used to take anything and everything. They were a notorious pair of guṇḍās – Jagadānanda and Mādhavānanda.
Then one day they met Nityānanda, “Oh, you rogues! We have heard of you. You have come to create a new religion here – never! If we find You again on the street You will receive a licking and will have to weep.” Anyhow, they were given such warning. Nityānanda Prabhu had to report every day what progress they had made in their preaching campaign and He almost challenged Mahāprabhu. He said, “Our life was saved today from the worst pair in the whole of Navadvīpa-dhāma, but if You can deliver them, then I shall think that You have really come to render some service. They are the greatest rogues ever found in this area and must be converted. If You can do that then we shall say that You have got some power with some objective, and You will be able to do something.” Mahāprabhu felt, “If it is Kṛṣṇa’s will then everything will be possible.” They again went out preaching and they met those two guṇḍās. Hari Dāsa Ṭhākura came back and Nityānanda Prabhu stood there courageously. There was an earthen pot cast away after use on the side of the way. It was taken and thrown on the head of Nityānanda Prabhu and His forehead was cut, blood oozing, Some person came to Gaurāṅgadeva saying that Nityānanda Prabhu was wounded by the rogues.
Mahāprabhu was very enraged and in an excited mood He came there. “Who has caused this wound on the body of Nityānanda Prabhu? I shall finish the whole town, come forward.” Mahāprabhu was beside Himself. Then Nityānanda Prabhu came, “No! No! Don’t be excited My Lord. In this incarnation We are not to use any force, remember?
In the meantime there approached another and told “No, no! They are red-clad mendicants – what fame is there is striking them? They are not wholly established rich men or party men, only sadhus, there is no credit by killing them or beating them,” and they took Jagāi and Mādhāi away. Nityānanda Prabhu then appealed to Mahāprabhu. “What to do, this is not proper. In this age, in this time, at this juncture what have we come to do, use force? Never!” In the meantime Mādhāi came to hit Nityānanda Prabhu but Jagāi saved Him by just opposing Him and Mahāprabhu turned around suddenly, “You Jagāi, you have protected My Nityānanda.” Mahāprabhu then embraced Him and Jagāi fell at His feet and began to cry. Mental transformation came in Jagāi. Then Mādhāi who was standing said, “For this deed we two are such great sinners, yet Jagāi’s condition is now such.” In that very atmosphere, his transformation also began.
Then Nityānanda Prabhu came to recognize that in the same place with similar persons, one will gain and the other will fail and so He thought Mādhāi must also be saved. Then Mahāprabhu said, “Nityānanda Prabhu Himself is pleading for you, and so you Mādhāi, you should also be absolved.”
Mahāprabhu then embraced Him and he also fell and began to weep. He took the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa and there was wholesale conversion of these two great demons. Within minutes the town was in uproar. “Who is this Nimāi Paṇḍita? A scholar, so far we can understand, but He is endowed with supernatural power. Whoever would see these two great demons would enter their homes and close their doors. Such demoniac persons they were, and Nimāi Paṇḍita has converted them within one hour. What miraculous power!”
So in this way Nimāi Paṇḍita got some footing there. Nimāi Paṇḍita is not an ordinary man, He is not merely a scholar but He is endowed with some supernatural power. Nityānanda Prabhu was famous from that time. Although He was hit on the forehead and blood oozed, still He had so much of an extraordinary, patient, forbearing and affectionate heart, that He recommended that guṇḍā who had caused Him mischief. Nityānanda Prabhu’s position was very safe and very high – a divine position from that time. Nityānanda Prabhu has neither an exploiting nor enjoying mood; He is wholesale given to Kṛṣṇa.
Sanātana Gosvāmī has given this in his commentary: In the rāsa-līlā of Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa was enjoying all the gopīs, at that time Balarāma also had His separate rāsa-līlā. It is also mentioned in Bhāgavatam and other Purāṇas, that Kṛṣṇa had His rāsa-līlā and that Baladeva also had His rāsa-līlā, but Sanātana Gosvāmī has given the meaning. That is very fine, very subtle and very difficult to understand. Baladeva continued rasa externally, but in His heart He was making Kṛṣṇa to participate in that rasa. He was not the party to enjoy the gopīs. He is aloof, He is aside, He is only performing, managing the rāsa-līlā with the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa. He is not only indifferent, but with so much serving tendency and wholesale serving attitude.
In Vṛndāvana-maṇḍala in vātsalya-rasa and sakhya-rasa, they also have marriages, they have their sons, but they are not in any enjoying mood. There is union of men and women, but not in an enjoying mood, or then they will have to be left here in the material world. Both parties meet and are united in a serving mood, that is particularly another type of mood, never an enjoying mood, for then they would not to be allowed to enter that domain. They will be thrown here in the land of exploitation. When they go through the door of emancipation, liberation and enter Vaikuṇṭha, from there also the exploiting tendency is eliminated. They are outwardly participating but internally in a serving mood. It may be impossible to think, but it is such, not only the human form but also the birds and beasts, they are also apparently mixing in an enjoying mood, but really their mood is of service attitude. Such a wholesale transformation has to be effected in one’s Heart, mind and body, before wholly attempting to enter into that domain. So Hegel said, “Die to live”. If you really want to live in that plane then you will have to die wholesale as you think you are in this life as flesh, blood and bones. It is of the opposite type, the purity is there, it can be measured; it is not non-scientific but it is really scientific. It is the process of ‘die to live’! And love is there, the dying tendency for the object of love, that is love proper. Otherwise it is imitation, it is hypocrisy, it is conspiracy to one’s own attainment.
The pure thing is that if we have got faith for such divine conception of life, then we should come to Bhāgavatam, the last gift in the śāstrika world of Vedic literatures. Vyāsadeva’s last gift in the world of Vedic literatures is Bhāgavatam. The Bhāgavatam is so high. Our Guru Mahārāja’s translation of dharmaḥ projjhita kaitavo explains that of all the words and tales that are running in this world in the name of religion, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam says that all is false – all is tampered with and not pure! The pure type of religion is not yet spoken. It is there, all self-centered, the current is towards the centre, not only selflessness but self-sacrificing, self-forgiving, self forgetfulness, in that way we are to start, we are to go.
Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu came and appealed, “Come to Gaurāṅga, He is the depot, He is the dynamo to send you there very easily.” He sang these names of Gaurāṅga on the banks of the Ganges.
bhaja gaurāṅga, kaha gaurāṅga, laha gaurāṅga nāma
sei jana gaurāṅga bhaje se amāra prāṇa
“All you people come and take refuge under the divine feet of Gaurāṅga, give up everything and come and fall at the feet of Gaurāṅga. Take His Name, remember Him and throw yourself wholly at His disposal. He is my own life, I consider Him to be my life, my soul, my everything.”
Nityānanda Prabhu saying this began to roll at the door of the householders, “O householders! You must do this.” He is rolling and crying, “Accept Gaurāṅga! You don’t know what great benefit you will receive by doing this.” He is rolling in the dust at the door of the householders with such an appeal. He came to the ordinary masses to give them shelter at the lotus feet of Gaurāṅga – that is Nityānanda Prabhu. He came to give Mahāprabhu even to Jagāi and Mādhāi and He appealed to all from door to door to accept Gaurāṅgadeva. “You do not know what will be your highest prospect in life!”
Nityānanda Prabhu is our only hope, He is so benevolent, so generous, so gracious, that very easily we can draw His attention and we can get His recommendation. Gaurāṅga will not be able to disregard His recommendation, and when we have got the grace of Gaurāṅga then the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa līlā is within our fist. Nityānanda Prabhu’s grace means to get Mahāprabhu’s grace within our clutches and to get Mahāprabhu, means to get Rādhā-Govinda, Vṛndāvana, and then everything is within our fist.