Dear devotees and friends,
Please accept my best wishes. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
The GBC meetings finished on the 23rd, and I had a couple of days “free” before the Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama began on the 28th. One day I went with some disciples to Lord Caitanya’s birthplace up the road from our Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir, and then to Srivasa Angan, where Lord Caitanya would have kirtanas for the whole night when He began the sankirtana movement.
On the 26th we went with a group of Russian devotees to Ekacakra, the birthplace of Lord Nityananda. Caitanya Bhagavata describes how an old man told Mother Jahnava, Lord Nityananda’s main wife, about the Lord’s childhood:
“Harai Pandita was very happy when he heard that His wife Parvati was pregnant. She gave birth to a beautiful child on an auspicious day and the religious minded ladies of the village came to see the child and bless Him. Each gave a different opinion of the child. One woman questioned whether the child was actually a boy or a doll made of golden butter. Another woman commented that she had never seen a child who could cool both the eyes and the heart. Every day a crowd gathered at the house of Harai Ojha and for the well being of His son Harai Ojha would distribute money to needy people and perform other types of charitable activities. Harai Ojha’s son grew like the waxing moon and remained the center of pleasure for His parents. His mother
loved Him so much that she never put Him down from her lap. At the time of His name giving ceremony someone suggested the name Rama and someone else suggested the name Nityananda for the child. When he was old enough to crawl on the ground people spontaneously called Him Nitai and wanted to hold Him
on their laps. People were enchanted by His sweet smile and His tiny teeth which looked like drops of milk. Nityananda became the centre of life for the people of Ekachakra.
“The old man continued to tell His story to Jahnava Isvari and her associates. He said that one day he felt disturbed for some reason so he went to the house of Harai simply to see Nitai. When he took the child in
His lap, all His miseries seemed to vanish. Harai Pandita’s affection for His son was boundless and he would never go anywhere far from the child. Once he went to the house of a Yajamana but returned immediately to His home to check on Nityananda. His mother used to smear the dust of tumeric on His body to brighten His complexion but the tumeric seemed dull next to Nityananda’s own golden color. She smeared scented oil on His head to cool it but His body was cooler and sweeter than the oil itself. After giving Him a bath His mother would dry Him with a soft piece of cloth. Then she would dress Him in silk and advise Him to play in the house.”
Such were some of the childhood activities of Lord Nityananda.
When Lord Caitanya appeared, Lord Nityananda was already about 12 years old, and understanding that His friend had at last appeared, Lord Nityananda roared with delight. Caitanya Bhagavata describes: “Some people speculated, ‘It must be a thunderclap.’ Others thought it was the sound of some impending disaster. Still others said, ‘We know the reason for this sound. Lord Nityananda, the Lord of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, is roaring in ecstasy.'”
But then shortly after that, when Lord Nityananda was still 12, He left home, and everyone in Ekacakra became devastated. Caitanya Bhagavata describes:
“The residents of Ekachakra regularly visited the house of Harai Pandita to console him and his wife. Three months had passed but Harai and Parvati had not taken a bit of food. They had grown mad by continuous crying and calling out the name of Nityananda. Villagers would offer them food but the thought of sustaining their lives simply increased their misery.
“In his madness Harai would call out to Nitai requesting Him to come and sit on his lap for he had not seen Him in such a long time. Other times he would call Nitai to accompany him to the tank for a bath. Then he would call his son to walk in front as they walked in the field inspecting the ripeness of the rice plants. Then he would call Nitai to accompany him to the market to buy new clothes and other things. He would call his son to come and eat the prasad of Visnu, telling Him that His mother was waiting. Or he would ask Nitai to take part in a debate on Sastra with other students of the Pandita. Occasionally he would call his wife in great excitement to come and see that Nityananda was coming down the road. The sannyasi Thakura had kindly returned their son.
“In this way the parents of Nityananda passed their day until the time of their death. After their disappearance the friends of Nityananda left Ekachakra and the villagers also moved to other places without telling anyone where they were going. Across the river a Yavana had built a village in his own name and a small population had developed there. In the passing of time, Ekachakra had become simply ruins.
“The old brahmana continued to tell Jahnava Isvari and the Vaisnavas that only he and a few other men remained in Ekachakra because of the memory of Nityananda. Although he was old and he could not walk properly, he would nevertheless leave his home each day and wander the streets and fields of Ekachakra to visit the places where Nityananda used to play. Just in the shadow of his peepal tree Nityananda and His friends would eat and play.
“‘Providence is cruel for I have lived this long life with only my memories of Nityandanda. I simply hoped that one day I would see Him again but, alas, he has never returned to Ekchakra. I simply pray to be reborn in Ekchakra life after life on the hope of seeing my Nityananda. And at the end of each life let me simply call the name of Nitai Cand.'”
Srila Vrindavana das Thakura glorifies Lord Nityananda and Lord Caitanya: “All glories to Sri Nityananda, the primeval Lord and first manifestation of Sri Caitanya, it is only by His causeless mercy that the glorious pastimes of Sri Caitanya manifest within one’s heart.
“By the grace of Sri Gauracandra, one can become lovingly attached to Sri Nityananda. All obstacles and misfortunes in life are then extirpated as soon as the truth about Sri Nityananda becomes revealed within one’s heart.
“Those who desire to overcome the material whirlpool and drown in the nectarine ocean of devotional service should worship Sri Nitaicandra.
“Many praise My Lord saying, ‘Lord Nityananda is like Lord Balarama.’ While others say, ‘He is most dear to Lord Caitanya.’
“I hear various opinions about Him-that He is a sannyasi, or a humble devotee, or an erudite Vedic scholar. People may say whatever is their desire and conjecture without inhibition, stopping at nothing. Some may even go to the extent of saying that His connection with Lord Caitanya is not intimate-that He is just a menial servant. None of this affects me at all. I simply pray that His lotus feet remain impressed upon my heart eternally.
“After repeated attempts to invoke good judgment in all people, if some sinful lot continues to criticize My Lord, then I will kick them on their heads to save them from imminent disaster.
“Those persons, who misinterpret the playful remarks of Advaita Acarya Prabhu to Sri Nityananda as criticism, should realize that those remarks were actually shaded glorifications of My Lord.
“All the Vaisnava associates of Lord Caitanya are eternally liberated and enlightened souls. What is sometimes wrongly understood to be disturbing arguments or abusive language used between them is actually one of the ways they express their deep love for each other and is part of their pastimes.
“An ordinary person is therefore discouraged from taking sides in such a mock fight, for if he criticizes any one of the parties, he then places himself in a most precarious position.
“One who follows Sri Nityananda without being critical of Him becomes steadfast in his spiritual practices and will certainly attain the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya.
“I intensely yearn for the day when I will see my Lords, Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Caitanya, surrounded by all their devotees. Lord Nityananda is my absolute master. By taking shelter of His lotus feet and His
instructions, let me serve and worship Lord Caitanya. I greatly desire to study the Srimad Bhagavatam in the presence of Sri Nityananda-svarupa, birth after birth. This is my humble submission eternally.
“All glories to the Supreme Lord, Sri Caitanya! You are fully independent to act as You wish. You can give me the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda, or You can separate me from them. Therefore, I pray that You-My dear Lord, Sri Caitanya-will mercifully grant that my whole heart and soul will eternally remain fixed at Your lotus feet and at the lotus feet of Sri Nityananda.
“O Lord Caitanya, Sri Nitaicandra is devoted exclusively to You, so no one can attain His shelter without Your blessings.”
Hoping this meets you well.
Bhakti Caitanya Swami
PS I will write a report about the Navadvipa Parikrama in a few days.