Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
The following is a lecture given by Srila Gurudeva, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, on the ever-fresh glories of Nityananda Prabhu, given in Australia on February 20, 1997. This is Part 2. Part 1 was sent out on Rama-navami, in April. If you didn’t have the opportunity to read it, you can find it, click here. To hear the soundfile, click here. ]
We will discuss the pastimes of Nityananda Prabhu: Jagai and Madhai and other pastimes, such as vyasa-puja and Mahaprabu’s sannyasa-lila. The Lord’s associates went with Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu to Jagannatha Puri. We will discuss how, in the midway, Nityananda Prabhu broke Mahaprabhu’s danda. Caitanya Mahaprabhu then left all His associates and went to Jagannatha Puri, where He took darsana of Jagannatha and prayed to that Deity, “Oh Vrajendra-nandana (the son of the King of Vraja, Nanda Maharaja), You are not a statue. You are personally Yasoda-nandana (the son of Mother Yasoda), Vrajendra-nandana.”
We will discuss how Mahaprabhu tried to reach and meet with Jagannatha-deva as soon as He saw Him, but He at once fainted. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya came and took the unconscious Caitanya Mahaprabhu to his home, where he tried to teach Him Vedanta. We will discuss what occurred in that pastime.
We will discuss Nityananda’s pastimes in Puri at the Ratha-Yatra festival, how He returned to Navadvipa and Bengal, and how He used to preach over the whole of Bengal – especially to those who were very fallen and out of caste. After that, how He married with Jahnava-devi and Vasudha-devi, and how His son Virabhadra Prabhu took initiation from Jahnava-devi. There are so many qualified persons to speak.
[Srila Gurudeva called on a few devotees to speak, and then he continued:]
Nityananda is jagat-guru, guru of the universe. He is personally Baladeva Prabhu, (the first expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.) In Krsna’s pastimes Baladeva Prabhu went to Naimisaranya, where He saw that Romaharsana-suta was giving Srimad-Bhagavatam class. All the sages and saintly kings stood up and offered pranama to Baladeva Prabhu, but Romaharsana remained on the vyasasana without standing and offering pranama to Him or welcoming Him. Baladeva Prabhu thought, “He is not qualified to read Srimad-Bhagavatam or to teach Bhagavatam. He thinks that I am born in a gopa (cowherd) dynasty, and that he is a brahmana, so literate, learned, and quite qualified to explain Bhagavata.” He then told Romaharsana, “You are not qualified. Be a bhagavata (devotee of Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead) and then explain Bhagavata (The Supreme Personality of Godhead in the form of Srimad-Bhagavatam.)” He took up a piece of kusa grass in His hand, and by that kusa grass He at once cut off Romaharsana’s head.
In great wonder, all the rsis exclaimed, “Oh Baladeva Prabhu, what have You done? Baladeva replied, “What do you want? Do you want me to bring him back to life?”
Now they understood the glories of Baladeva Prabhu. “No we don’t want that,” they replied, “but how will we hear Srimad-Bhagavatam?” Baladeva at once brought the son of Romaharsana, Ugrasrava, who was only eight years of age. He was not wearing clothes and he looked like an ignorant person, but Baladeva made him sit on the vyasasana (the seat of honor, as the representative of Krsna’s literary incarnation Sri Vyasadeva.) Baladeva looked towards him and inspired in his heart knowledge of all Vedic literature – all Vedas, all Srimad-Bhagavatam, all Puranas, Upanisads, Smriti, Sruti, Mahabharata, and Ramayana. Ugrasrava at once uttered hymns in glorification of Baladeva Prabhu, and then he began to explain the topics of Srimad-Bhagavatam in a wonderful way.
Do not think that Baladeva Prabhu, or Nityananda Prabhu, had not attended school and that He was illiterate. He is the complete embodiment of Gurudeva (akhanda-guru-tattva).
In Krsna’s pastimes He killed Dhenukasura, a demon who was in the form of an ass. Dhenukasura represents ignorance. What kind of ignorance? Those who do not honor Vaisnavas (devotees) and yet think themselves devotees, they are all like Dhenukasura. Nityananda Prabhu honored all devotees, even those who were not devotees but who wanted to be devotees. If anyone came in the association of a pure Vaisnava, Nityananda Prabhu respected them. He brought the message of Krsna Consciousness to all those who were neglected by society.
In India, at first, the goldsmiths, oil makers, betel-nut makers, and groups like them had no right to read the Upanisads and Vedanta; they were not allowed. But Nityananda Prabhu exclaimed that even those like Jagai and Madhai are most qualified to chant Harinama and to have Krsna-prema. And, to whomever He saw, He gave initiation: He would tell everyone, “Chant ‘Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.’ Nityananda Prabhu embraced and inspired everyone in Bengal, including all those who were fallen, the most inauspicious groups of persons.
Today, we are making some mistakes. We are dishonoring sincere and senior devotees who have served Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja throughout their lives. They have served Radha-Krsna and Gaura-Nityananda Prabhu their whole life, and from the beginning of his mission. I have also served so much, more than anyone in ISKCON. But I am not allowed to go to take darsana in any of the ISKCON temples, although it was I who gave samadhi to Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja in Vrndavana. The doors to his temples are now closed to me.
This is a very bad sign. By this, one goes to hell.
We should try to correct these things. We should know that we are all in Mahaprabhu’s family. Those who have not even taken initiation but are chanting Hare Krsna should be treated as the family of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And those who are senior, sincere, and serving lovingly for so many years, should be more respected. Otherwise, one who disrespects such devotees is like Ramacandra Khan.
In His later pastimes, Nityananda Prabhu went to a village in Bengal, where a very rich person lived named Ramacandra Khan (who had previously attempted to make Haridasa Thakura fall down). That rich person did not honor Nityananda Prabhu or any of the devotees of Nityananda Prabhu. Rather, he told them, “Get out from here. You cannot be hosted for the night here.”
Nityananda Prabhu began to laugh loudly, and said, “Oh, devotees are not honored here. Devotees are disrespected here. So, we should not remain here. Let us go; but, I see that tomorrow Mohammedans will come, they will slaughter cows here and prepare meals of flesh, and the whole family of Ramacandra Khan will be destroyed.” He then left that place.
The next day, this person who was not honoring Vaisnava devotees was killes along with his entire family, his cows were slaughtered, and his entire village became barren.
So, we should always remember Nityananda Prabhu and His teachings. Don’t disrespect any Vaisnava. Always try to honor Vaisnavas according to their stage of advancement in bhakti, namely kanistha-adhikari, neophyte, madhyama-adhikari, intermediate, and uttama-adhikari, advanced.
You must know all these teachings, and if you do not know them, then you are not devotees at all. You are only show-bottle devotees.
Nowadays they are not approaching those who are strong in Vaisnava philosophy. We should try to establish ourselves in all these teachings; otherwise, being a show bottle devotee and simply giving instructions to others will not do.
Come with me to Puri, where Caitanya Mahaprabhu was calling out to Lord Jagannatha, “Oh, I am meeting with the same Vrajendra-nandana. I have been burning in a separation mood for so many years and years. I have found my Vrajendra-nandana.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in the mood of Radhika, calling “Krsna, Krsna. You are the same Vrajendra-nandana,” and He fell unconscious on the ground while dancing. Nityananda Prabhu was there, but not touching Him.
When Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to dance in Srivasa-angam and would faint in the courtyard, Nityananda Prabhu would not touch Him. He would do so after Mahaprabhu came to His external senses, otherwise not. Nowadays, we don’t know all the principles of transcendental etiquette, and thus we speak and write so many rasa-abhasa ideas (misrepresentations of the relationships among the personalities in the pastimes). We keep Nityananda Prabhu with Radha and Krsna in the same section of the altar [see endnote 1], and also Jagannatha. You should know the principles of etiquette by reading Caitanya-caritamrta in the association of superior, advanced devotees.
yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane
ekanta asraya kara caitanya-carane
(Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila 5.131)
[“If you want to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam, you must approach a self-realized Vaisnava and hear from him. You can do this when you have completely taken shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”]
That is why Nityananda Prabhu ordered Jiva Gosvami to go to Vrndavana and learn all philosophical conclusions under the guidance of Srila Rupa Gosvami and Srila Santana Gosvami. Nityananda Prabhu inspired Jiva, after which Jiva became so learned that in the whole world at that time there was no person as learned as he. He defeated so many learned persons. How? Only by the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu.
We should try to follow Nityananda Prabhu, outwardly and inwardly.
Do you know the song Nitai Pada Kamala? We will sing it.
je chayaya jagat judaya
heno nitai vine bhai, radha-krsna paite nai,
drdha kori’ dharo nitaiyer paya (1)
[“Nitai’s lotus feet are more cooling than the shining of millions of moons. Their shade gives solace to the universe. O brother, without a personality such as Nitai, it is not possible to attain Radha and Krsna. So hold on very tightly to His lotus feet.”]
se sambandha nahi jara, vrtha janma gelo tara
sei pasu bodo duracara
nitai na bolilo mukhe, majilo samsara sukhe,
vidyakule ki koribe tara (2)
[“If someone does not establish his relationship with Nityananda Prabhu, his life is wasted. Such a wicked person is no better than an animal. Not taking the name of Nitai on one’s lips, he loses himself in the so-called happiness of this world. Then what is the value of one’s education and birth in a high family or great nation?”]
ahankare matta hoiya, nitai-pada pasariya,
asatyere satya kori’ mani
nitaiyera koruna habe, vraje radha-krsna pabe,
dharo nitaiyera carana du’khani (3)
[“Forgetting Nitai’s lotus feet, one becomes maddened by the false concept of bodily life and considers the illusory energy as real. If Nitai is merciful, one can attain Sri Radha and Krsna in Vraja, so firmly catch hold of His lotus feet.”]
nitaiyera carana satya, tahara sevaka nitya,
nitai-pada sada koro asa
narottama bodo duhkhi, nitai more koro sukhi,
rakho ranga-caranera pasa (4)
[“The feet of Nitai are real and His servants are eternal. Always hope and pray for the lotus feet of Nitai. “Narottama is very unhappy! O Nitai, please make me happy. Keep me tucked close to the reddish lotuses of Your feet.”]
One of the prayers of Vrndavana dasa Thakura is Sri Nityanandastakam.
yathestam re bhratah! kuru hari-hari-dhvanam-anisam
tato vah samsarambudhi-tarana-dayo mayi laget
idambahu-sphotair-atati ratayan yah pratigrham
bhaja nityanandambhajana-taru-kandam niravadhi
[“O brothers, simply chant incessantly the names of Sri Hari, and let the responsibility of delivering you from the ocean of repeated birth and death rest upon Me.” While traveling constantly, He approached the door of every home, declaring this with outstretched arms. I perpetually worship Sri Nityananda Prabhu, the root of the krsna-bhakti tree. (verse 5)]
He is telling to all persons, without any consideration of caste or creed, wealth or poverty, inferiority or superiority, brahmana or sudra, male or female, young or old. He calls even to animals and birds, “Come on. Come on.” Raising His arms and speaking in this way: “Yathestam re bhratah! kuru hari-hari-dhvanam-anisam - O brothers, always chant ‘Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare;’ loudly, and more loudly, again and again. In this way you will cross the ocean of birth and death, suffering and sorrows. And, if you are not getting the desired result, then I am liable for this. I am telling you the truth, that if you once chant ‘Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,’ I promise to take all responsibility for this – that you will certainly attain Krsna-prema.”
No one else has told anything like this.
Nityananda Prabhu used to go to each person’s door, and He would personally tell that person, “I am begging only for your devotion to Sri Krsna. I don’t want anything else.” We are now deviating from this line of Nityananda Prabhu. If you want Krsna-prema, you will have to come in this line again. Nityananda Prabhu is telling each person, “I am responsible if you are following My instructions but not getting Krsna-prema,”
In the last verse, Vrndavana dasa Thakura is telling,
rasanam adharam rasika vara sad vaishnava dhanam
rasagaram saram patita tati taram smaranatah
param nityanandastakam idam apurvam pathati yas
tad anghri dvandvabjam sphuratu nitaram tasya hrdaye
[May Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s two lotus feet brilliantly manifest in the hearts of those who recite this unprecedented and supremely potent Nityanandastakam, which is the reservoir of rasa, the treasure of exalted rasika Vaisnavas, and the abode of the essence of bhakti-rasa. It bestows liberation upon all fallen souls who simply remember it.” (verse 9)]
Don’t think that Nityananda Prabhu is merely a mad person. You should know that He is rasanam-adharam, the reservoir of all rasas. He is in dasya-rasa, in sakhya-rasa as Baladeva, vatsalya-rasa also as Baladeva, and in madhurya- rasa in the form of Ananga-manjari, the younger sister of Srimati Radhika. He came to taste these five rasas. Don’t think that He is only serving Krsna in a male form, in only four rasas. He is serving also in madhurya-rasa. So, rasanam adharam rasika vara sad vaishnava dhanam – He is so rasika.
He often used to enjoy mock-fighting with Advaita Acarya. Once, when He was throwing maha-prasadam here and there, Advaita Acarya jokingly told Him, “My dear Nityananda, I invited You, and indeed I have received the results. You have no fixed caste or dynasty. By nature You are a madman. To make Me a madman like Yourself, You have thrown the remnants of Your food at Me. You did not even fear the fact that I am a brahmana.”
Nityananda Prabhu at once began to laugh, and said, “Ho, ho ho. Oh, Advaita Acarya, I’ve heard that you are a learned person, but I see that you are not. You do not know anything. You are telling Me that by taking maha-prasadam one loses His brahmanical caste and becomes impure? Such words are offensive to the lotus feet of maha-prasadam. You do not know the real power of maha-prasadam. Maha-prasadam is Krsna Himself.” [See endnotes 1-3]
maha-prasade govinde, nama brahmani vaisnave
svalpa-punya-vatam rajan, visvaso naiva jayate
[“Those who have very few pious activities to their credit can never develop faith in maha-prasada, in Sri Govinda, in the holy name of the Lord, or in the Vaisnavas.”]
And sometimes They were quarreling in the large lake named Indradyumna Sarovara, splashing there in the water. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was so grave. Raya Ramananda and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya were wealthy, learned persons, and also so grave. But They also began to play-quarrel like children, throwing water upon each other. During the splashing of Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Acarya, Nityananda Prabhu defeated Advaita Acarya. Advaita Acarya told Nityananda Prabhu “I am an old person. Do you want that I should die? Would you cause Me to die?” So much good siddhanta (conclusive philosophy) was there in these quarrels.
So, Nityananda Prabhu: rasanam adharam rasika vara sad vaishnava dhanam. He was rasika vara, meaning the best of the rasika associates of the Lord. Giriraja Govardhana is also rasika-vara, but Nityananda is the root of all rasikas. Without His mercy, no one can be rasika. Those who pray to Nityananda Prabhu for His mercy will become bona fide Vaisnavas.
But always remember: don’t criticize any Vaisnava. Don’t dishonor anyone, otherwise Nityananda Prabhu will be unhappy. He will not give Krsna-prema to that offender.
Treat all who have taken shelter of Nityananda and Gauracandra as Vaisnavas. Moreover, regarding those who are not following, we should simply pray to Nityananda Prabhu, “Please bestow Your mercy upon them so that they will be reformed.” Don’t criticize. Don’t do anything against them. Always have faith in Nityananda Prabhu. Especially, I am praying for you all, and for myself also. I am praying for the whole world, that Nityananda will bestow His mercy to all, so that you will know who Mahaprabhu is and what is the identity of Krsna’s name: “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
May He give us ruci (taste) in Krsna-nama, and in Gaura-nama, the holy names of Sri Krsna and Sri Caitanya. A Vaisnava has written in his prayer that Krsna and Krsna’s abode and Krsna’s name have some consideration regarding offenses. They consider whether or not a person is nama-aparadhi (offender to the holy name), but Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu have nothing to do with these things. Even if an offender calls out, “O Gaura-Nityananda Prabhu,” They bestow Their mercy.
We should also be like that. If someone is doing any nonsense, we should tolerate, and also pray for him. Don’t have any enmity towards them; nothing at all. Be like Nityananda Prabhu. Follow His footsteps. Nityananda Prabhu will then unconditionally bestow His mercy upon you.
Gaura-Nityananda Prabhu ki jaya!
Endnote 1 (from Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 3.84, 85)
His Divine Grace Advaita Acarya, after hearing the statement of Nityananda Prabhu, took the opportunity presented by the joking words and spoke to Him as follows.Advaita Acarya said, “You are a reject paramahamsa, and You have accepted the renounced order of life just to fill up Your belly. I can understand that Your business is to give trouble to brahmanas.”
There is always a difference of opinion between a smarta-brahmana and a Vaisnava gosvami. There are even smarta opinions and Vaisnava gosvami opinions available in astrological and astronomical calculations. By calling Nityananda Prabhu a bhrasta avadhuta (a rejected paramahamsa), Advaita Acarya Prabhu in a sense accepted Nityananda Prabhu as a paramahamsa. In other words, Nityananda Prabhu had nothing to do with the rules governing smarta-brahmanas. Thus under pretense of condemning Him, Advaita Acarya was actually praising Him. In the avadhuta stage, the paramahamsa stage, which is the supermost stage, one may appear to be visayi, on the platform of sense gratification, but in actuality he has nothing to do with sense gratification. At that stage, a person sometimes accepts the symbols and dress of a sannyasi and sometimes does not. Sometimes he dresses like a householder. We should know, however, that these are all joking words between Advaita Acarya and Nityananda Prabhu. They are not to be taken as insults.
In Khadadaha, sometimes people misunderstood Nityananda Prabhu to belong to the sakta-sampradaya, whose philosophy is antah saktah bahih saivah sabhayam vaisnavo matah. According to the sakta-sampradaya, a person called kaulavadhuta thinks materially while externally appearing to be a great devotee of Lord Siva. When such a person is in an assembly of Vaisnavas, he appears like a Vaisnava. Actually Nityananda Prabhu did not belong to such a community. Nityananda Prabhu was always a brahmacari of a sannyasi of the vaidika order. Actually He was a paramahamsa. Sometimes He is accepted to be a disciple of Laksmipati Tirtha. If He is so accepted, Nityananda Prabhu belonged to the Madhva-sampradaya. He did not belong to the tantrika-sampradaya of Bengal.
Endnote 2 (from Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 3.94, 96)
After saying this, Nityananda Prabhu took a handful of rice and threw it on the floor in front of Him, as if He were angry.
When the rice thrown by Nityananda Prabhu touched His body, Advaita Acarya thought Himself purified by the touch of remnants thrown by Paramahamsa Nityananda. Therefore He began dancing.
The word avadhuta refers to one above all rules and regulations. Sometimes, not observing all the rules and regulations of a sannyasi, Nityananda Prabhu exhibited the behavior of a mad avadhuta. He threw the remnants of food on the ground, and some of these remnants touched the body of Advaita Acarya. Advaita Acarya accepted this happily because He presented Himself as a member of the community of smarta-brahmanas. By touching the remnants of food thrown by Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acarya immediately felt Himself purified of all smarta contamination. The remnants of food left by a pure Vaisnava are called maha-maha-prasadam.
This is completely spiritual and is identified with Lord Visnu. Such remnants are not ordinary. The spiritual master is to be considered on the stage of paramahamsa and beyond the jurisdiction of the varnasrama institution. The remnants of food left by the spiritual master and similar paramahamsas, or pure Vaisnavas, are purifying. When an ordinary person touches such prasadam, his mind is purified, and his mind is raised to the status of a pure brahmana. The behavior and statements of Advaita Acarya are meant for the understanding of ordinary people who are unaware of the strength of spiritual values, not knowing the potency of food left by the bona fide spiritual master and pure Vaisnavas.
Endnote 3 (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 3.97-99)
Advaita Acarya jokingly said, “My dear Nityananda, I invited You, and indeed I have received the results. You have no fixed caste or dynasty. By nature You are a madman.
The words sahaje pagala (“by nature a madman”) indicate that Nityananda Prabhu was transcendentally situated on the paramahamsa stage. Because He always remembered Radha-Krsna and Their service, this was transcendental madness. Sri Advaita Acarya was pointing out this fact.
“To make Me a madman like Yourself, You have thrown the remnants of Your food at Me. You did not even fear the fact that I am a brahmana.”
The words apanara sama indicate that Advaita Acarya considered Himself to belong to the smarta-brahmanas, and He considered Nityananda Prabhu to be on the transcendental stage with pure Vaisnavas. Lord Nityananda gave Advaita Acarya His remnants to situate Him on the same platform and make Him a pure unalloyed Vaisnava or paramahamsa. Advaita Acarya’s statement indicates that a paramahamsa Vaisnava is transcendentally situated. A pure Vaisnava is not subject to the rules and regulations of the smarta-brahmanas. That was the reason for Advaita Acarya’s stating, apanara sama more karibara tare: “to raise Me to Your own standard.” A pure Vaisnava, or a person on the paramahamsa stage, accepts the remnants of food (maha-prasadam) as spiritual. He does not consider it to be material or sense gratificatory. He accepts maha-prasadam not as ordinary dhal and rice but as spiritual substance. To say nothing of the remnants of food left by a pure Vaisnava, prasadam is never polluted even if it is touched by the mouth of a candala. Indeed, it retains its spiritual value. Therefore by eating or touching such maha-prasadam, a brahmana is not degraded. There is no question of being polluted by touching the remnants of such food. Actually, by eating such maha-prasadam, one is freed from all the contaminations of the material condition. That is the verdict of the sastra.
Nityananda Prabhu replied, “These are the remnants of food left by Lord Krsna. If You take them to be ordinary remnants, You have committed an offense.”
In the Brhad-visnu Purana it is stated that one who considers maha-prasadam to be equal to ordinary rice and dhal certainly commits a great offense. Ordinary edibles are touchable and untouchable, but there are no such dualistic considerations where prasadam is concerned. Prasadam is transcendental, and there are no transformations or contaminations, just as there are no contaminations or transformations in the body of Lord Visnu Himself. Thus even if one is a brahmana he is certain to be attacked by leprosy and bereft of all family members if he makes such dualistic considerations. Such an offender goes to hell, never to return. This is the injunction of the Brhad-visnu Purana.
Editor: Syamarani dasi