Friend of the Fallen
Although it is the duty of justice to seek qualifications, mercy has no such limits. Divine mercy does not care for any qualifications, but is always ready to compensate the weak and unfit. Only one thing is required: our sincere eagerness to receive mercy. In Caitanya-caritamrta it is said:
kriyatam yadi kuto 'pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam
janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate
"Pure devotional service to Krsna cannot be obtained by performing pious activities even for millions of births. It can be purchased only by paying one price: intense eagerness. Wherever it is available, one must purchase it immediately." No qualifications from one's previous life will help one to attain Krsna consciousness; only eagerness and faith are important.
And what is the effect of Krsna consciousness?
ksiyante casya karmani
mayi drste 'khilatmani
"Our inner aspiration for rasa, ecstasy, is buried in the heart and the heart is tied down and sealed. But hearing and chanting the glories of Krsna breaks the seal of the heart, and the heart awakens and opens to receive Krsna, the reservoir of pleasure, ecstasy Himself (rasa vai sah, akhila rasamrta murtih)."
The Heart Wants Ecstasy
Our heart's concern is with ecstasy, charm, and sweetness. And this is felt by the heart, not by the brain, so the heart has been given the most importance. The next effect is felt in the plane of knowledge. After getting a taste of divine sweetness, suspicion vanishes (rasa-varjam raso 'py asya pararh drstva nivartate). When we have a taste of real ecstasy (rasa), then all doubts are cleared. By getting a taste of Krsna consciousness, the heart is captured, and when the heart is captured, the ecstasy of love of Godhead, prema, begins to flow. Being satisfied, the heart will say, "This is what I was searching for!" Then, the brain will follow, thinking, "Yes, there can be no doubt, this is the highest goal of our search. Dissolve everything else." The heart will say, "I have attained prema, divine love—this is the highest thing! Stop all works from now on." Then, karma will close all its workshops. After coming in touch with Krsna c
onsciousness, the first result is that the heart awakens. When the heart is captured, the brain approves, and our karma, energizing in the wrong direction, stops. Krsna consciousness is the real wealth of the heart.
It is the nature of divine mercy to extend itself without coring for any law. The only consideration is our eagerness to accept it. Mercy is offered in this way: "Do you want this?" If we simply agree, "Yes, it is wonderful and most tasteful," then we can have it. If our prayer is genuine, then nothing else is required. It is a simple transaction. If we want it, we will get it. Krsna consciousness is most simple. Whether one is fit or unfit is unimportant. Anyone who simply wants it may have it.
And what of those who don't want this divine gift? For them, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu distributed special mercy through His most magnanimous canvassing agent, Sripada Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda Prabhu won't allow even those who want to avoid Krsna consciousness to escape. If someone says, "I don't want it," Nityananda Prabhu won't allow it. He will say, "No! You must want it. I request you earnestly—take it! Use it and you will be able to feel the value of Krsna consciousness."
To capture the market, a clever merchant may distribute free samples of his product to his customers, saying, "Take one free! There is no question of paying any price now. I am giving this away. Use it, and if you feel the value, the utility of my product—buy it." And then afterwards everyone will purchase.
"Please Accept Gauranga!"
In a similar way, Nityananda Prabhu traveled throughout Bengal making His humble appeal. Nityananda Prabhu would knock at the door and fall at the feet of His customers, crying, "Please accept this! Don't dismiss Me, don't drive Me away. Please do what I say. Give all your attention to Gauranga and you will be benefited beyond expectation. This is My request to you." He would shed tears, roll at their door, and say, "You are reluctant to accept this, but have no doubts. I implore you—take it! Believe Me. Please accept Gauranga!" In this way, Nityananda Prabhu used to wander down both sides of the Ganges, roaming here and there and preaching about Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Nityananda Prabhu knows only Gauranga. He is represented in krsna-lila as Baladeva. Baladeva apparently performed the rasa-lila, but at heart was only arranging rasa-lila for Krsna: His nature shows the experts of devotion that He is always dedicated to Krsna. Otherwise He would not be Baladeva. He has no individual thoughts for His own enjoyment; every atom of His body is always eager to make arrangements for the enjoyment of Krsna. In a similar way, every atom of the body of Nityananda Prabhu is conscious transcendental substance. And every atom of His body is meant only for the service and satisfaction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
"Come Down From Your Throne!"
One day, Mahaprabhu's mother, Sacidevi, had a dream that Krsna and Balarama were on a throne and Nityananda Prabhu was addressing Baladeva, "Come down from Your throne! Your days are over. Now My Lord Gaurahga will be installed." Baladeva refused: "No. I have My Lord—Krsna." There was a fight, but Nityananda Prabhu was stronger and He took Baladeva down from the throne, saying, "Your day has gone. Now the time for My master, Gauranga, has come. You are a trespasser, a usurper—You must come down." And Baladeva could not defeat Nityananda, who took Him down from the throne.
This is the nature of Nityananda Prabhu's relationship with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He has nothing of His own; His everything is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. As Baladeva is to Krsna, Nityananda Prabhu is to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The aim of Sriman Mahaprabhu's descent was to distribute the devotional service of Vrndavana most generously. On the other hand, Nityananda Prabhu used to sing, "Bhaja gauranga, kaha gauranga laha gauranger nama, yei jana gauranga bhaje sei amara prana: worship Gauranga, speak of Gauranga, chant Gauranga's name. Whoever worships Sri Gaurahga is My life and soul." Nityananda Prabhu tried His best to make the people at large accept Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. What did He say? "Come straight to the campaign of iSri Caitanya and you will safely attain Vrndavana."
Of course, Navadwipa, the abode of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is no less valuable than Vrndavana, the abode of Krsna. The same rasa which is found in Vrndavana is present in another feature in Navadwipa. Some devotees have a special attraction for vrndavana-lila,, others have a special attraction for navadwipa-lila, and a third group represents both camps, but Navadwipa is the most generous. In Vrndavana, the pastimes of Krsna are confined to a confidential circle, but in Navadwipa, those pastimes are distributed. Gaura-lila is more generous than krsna-lila.
In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Mad. 25.271), Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami explains his conception of the difference between gaura-lila and krsna-lila:
krsna-lila amrta-sara, tam sata sata dhara,
dasa-dike vahe yaha haite
se caitanya-lila haya, sarovcira aksaya,
mano-hamsa caraha' tahate
He says, "There is no doubt that we find the highest nectarine taste of rasa in krsna-lila. But what is gaura-lila? In gaura-lila, the nectar of krsna-lila is not confined to a limited circle, but is being distributed on all sides. It is just as if from all ten sides of the nectarine lake of krsna-lila hundreds of streams are flowing."
Our highest aspiration is to achieve the service of Srimati Radharani, but in the beginning, we must approach Sri Nityananda Prabhu through His manifest representation, the guru. Nityananda Prabhu consolidates the foundation which helps us progress further in devotion. Quick progress without a good foundation invites a negative reaction, so the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu is our primary necessity. This approach culminates in the service of Srimati Radharani (nitaiyer-karuna habe braje radha-krsnapabe).
To be reinstated as a servant of the servant to the extreme degree is the philosophy of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Our goal is not to become one with Krsna—to receive service—we want to render service. The predominated moiety of the Absolute Truth is negative potency—the energy that serves—and the predominating moiety receives that service. Our best interest will be reached when, according to our constitutional nature, we attain our position in the line of servitors in the negative, predominated moiety; not by considering ourselves one with the positive, predominating moiety.
By the grace of Nityananda Prabhu, we develop our attraction for Sri Gauranga. If we receive the grace of Sri Gauranga, we receive everything in the highest degree. And that is the safest way to approach Radha-Govinda. If we try to achieve Radha-Govinda in some other way, our attempt will naturally be artificial and defective; if we approach Radha-Govinda directly, avoiding Sri Gauranga, there will be great difficulty.
An Investment in Navadwipa
Therefore, we should invest all our energy in the service of Sri Gaurahga. Then, we shall automatically find ourselves being lifted towards the highest level. Prabhodananda Saraswati Thakura prays:
yatha yatha gaura padaravinde
vindeta bhaktim krta punya rasih
tatha tathot sarpati hrdy akasmat
radha padambhoja sudhambhurasih
As much as we devote ourselves to the lotus feet of Sri Gauranga, we will automatically achieve the nectarine service of Srimati Radharani in Vrndavana. An investment in Navadwipa Dhama will automatically take one to Vrndavana. How one has been carried there will be unknown to him. But those who have good fortune invest everything in the service of Gauranga. If they do that, they will find that everything has automatically been offered to the divine feet of Srimati Radharani. She will accept them in Her confidential service and give them engagement, saying, "Oh, you have a good recommendation from Navadwipa; I immediately appoint you to this service." Srimati Radharani is introduced in the form of Gauranga with the added element of magnanimity. No selfish sensualism can enter our consideration of the pastimes of Sri Gauranga, for there He appears as a sannyasi and a devotee.
Of course, if we are to analyze Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we shall find Krsna in the garb of Radharani. According to the impersonal philosophers, when negative and positive combine, they become non-differentiated oneness, but Vaisnava philosophy says that when both positive and negative aspects of Godhead are com-bined, personality is not lost. Rather, in the garb of the negative, the positive is converted and begins searching for Himself in the mood of the highest searcher. According to Vaisnavism, when positive and negative combine, they do not create equilibrium; rather, their dynamic character is always maintained. The combination of Radha and Govinda is Sri Gauranga, and by the grace of Nityananda Prabhu, we may be attracted to Sri Gauranga.
Nityananda Prabhu's mercy sometimes exceeds the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Because it may create a bad precedent, Mahaprabhu sometimes cannot accept certain fallen souls—He has to consider their status as well as other things. Nityananda Prabhu's mercy, however, does not care for any unfavorable circumstances; His mercy is very lavish and almost blind. He does not discriminate between different degrees of sinners. His mercy is all-embracing. And Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu cannot dismiss His recommendation. Even those who Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu rejected, Nityananda Prabhu sheltered, and gradually Mahaprabhu had to accept them. So the grace of Nityananda is greatest both in magnitude and circumference, and that is our solace, for by His mercy even the most fallen souls can attain the supreme goal.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu once told His followers, "Even if Nityananda Prabhu is found with a fallen girl of the lowest kind, drinking wine in a wine shop, still you should know that He is above all these things. Although you may find Him apparently engaged in lower activities, He is never implicated. He may appear connected with so many fallen activities, but you should know that He is always revered by the creator of the universe. Lord Brahma, and other exalted devotees. Nityananda Prabhu's mercy is so powerful that if one simply takes a piece of His loincloth and wears it respectfully on his body. He will be saved from all me disturbances of the mundane senses." Therefore we pray, "May my mind always stick to His holy feet; I offer my obeisances to Sri Nityananda Prabhu."
Swallowed By Maya
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa for the benefit of those souls swallowed by maya. He ran and chased after the fallen souls to deliver them from illusion by giving them the holy name of Krsna, and Nityananda Prabhu, like His shadow, ran after Him wherever He went. He fully surrendered and identified Himself with Mahaprabhu's cause. So we must bow down to Nityananda Prabhu. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was merged in tasting the sweetness of Radha-Govinda lila, and diving deep into that reality, however, at the same time. He wanted to deliver all souls whose hearts had been devoured by the false notions of renunciation and exploitation, He ordered Nityananda Prabhu, "Go to Bengal and try to deliver them—give them divine love for Radha and Krsna."
He ordered Nityananda Prabhu to distribute divine love for Radha-Govinda, but instead, Nityananda began to preach about Sri Gauranga. He thought, "It will be better for them to worship Gauranga; that will help free them from their offenses in their present position, and by doing so, they will automatically achieve a position in Radha-Govinda lila." He was ordered to preach the name of Krsna, but instead began to preach the name of Gauranga. So, for our own welfare, we bow down to Nityananda Prabhu with all our humility.
We pray, "0 Nityananda Prabhu, 0 gurudeva, please give me a drop of firm faith in Sri Gauranga, who is Radha-Govinda combined, tasting the sweetness of the divine nectar of the pastimes of Vrndavana. Give me a drop of faith, so that one day I may attain divine love and enter into that domain."
If we neglect Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, our aspiration to serve Radha-Govinda will be a dream, an abstract imagination without reality. Nityananda Prabhu is the refuge of all fallen souls. He is the most generous-hearted aspect of guru-tattva; we must bow down our head to Him, accept His holy feet, and surrender to Him.
In the spiritual realm of Vaikuntha, Nityananda Prabhu is represented as Sankarsana, the Supreme Lord who is considered to be the foundation of everything in existence. All possible existence is maintained by His energy. Nityananda Prabhu is the original Baladeva, the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, we should view the pastimes of Nityananda Prabhu with full consciousness of His dignified position, although He used to roam about here and there, rolling in the dust with tears in His eyes, saying, "Take the name of Gauranga and I will be sold to you." Although He posed in this lower position, still. He should be considered in light of His actual dignified position. We must surrender to Him with that attitude.
Balarama is represented in different parts of the spiritual world in different aspects. He came here as Nityananda Prabhu with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The truth about Nityananda Prabhu has been exhaustively explained in Caitanya-caritamrta and Caitanya-bhagavata. There, He is described as enjoying His life and relishing His pastimes with His own younger brother. To that Nityananda, we must bow our heads.
Sri Krsna prema, divine love, is an inconceivable substance which is very pleasing and ecstatic. Great saints who get a taste of that wonderful substance throw away all sorts of aspirations, including salvation, which is lavishly praised by the Vedas. So Nityananda Prabhu, although one with Baladeva, is greater than Him. Why? He is distributing divine love.
What is divine love? It is so important and valuable, so much higher than all other sorts of achievements, that one who can give divine love is far superior to those who can give duty, wealth, pleasure, and even salvation (dharma, artha, kama, moksa). If we conceive that Krsna is subordinate to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, then of course Balarama is subordinate to Nityananda Prabhu. In all other respects the two of Them are similar, but when magnanimity is added to Balarama, He becomes Nityananda Prabhu.
First, the position of divine love must be established: the great saints discard salvation and other things after they get a slight scent of divine love. Once the position of divine love is established, we can understand that one who can give it must necessarily be superior to the givers of all other things.
So Nityananda Balarama is superior to Karanadakasayi Visnu, the Supersoul of the collective universes, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, the Supersoul of this universe; and Ksirodakasayi Visnu, the Supersoul of all living beings. And that Balarama has come here as Nityananda Prabhu—not with majesty, grandeur, or power, but in a human form—to distribute divine love. And He is the giver of Gauranga. His greatness is proved by this fact. We can understand this further by examining the different aspects of His life, step by step.
Nityananda Prabhu was born in Ekacakra, and there He passed His early life. His parents, friends, and neighbors were filled with ecstatic joy, being pleased with His sweet infant pastimes. From His birth. He was a pleasure to the whole atmosphere of Ekacakra, and in this joyful atmosphere He passed His childhood years.
One day, while Nityananda was still young, a sannyasi came to His home and begged Him from His parents. The sannyasi was roaming about to different holy places and he prayed for Nityananda as his alms. He took Him in his company and Nityananda Prabhu wandered about almost all the holy places, following that sannyasi. It is said that the sannyasi was Madhavendra Puri.
Then one day, from within, feeling ecstasy in His heart, Nityananda Prabhu could understand that Sri Gauranga had begun His pastimes of sankirtana in Navadwipa. And with that inspiration, He came to Navadwipa Dhama.
An Extraordinary Dream
That day, Mahaprabhu told His followers, "I had a dream that an extraordinarily great man, in a chariot marked with the palm tree flag of Balarama, came to My door and said, 'Where is the house of Nimai Pandita?' Twice, thrice, four times—again and again—He kept saying, 'Where is the house of Nimai Pandita?'" Mahaprabhu continued, "That great personage must have come last night to Navadwipa. Try to search Him out." They searched and searched, but could not find Him anywhere.
Then Mahaprabhu told them, "Let Me try." He took them straight to the home of Nandanacarya, and when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with His followers suddenly arrived there, they found Nityananda Prabhu sitting on the veranda. After seeing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu stared intently at Him for some time, became absorbed in Him, and fainted. In this way, in one day. He became the most intimate associate of Sriman Mahaprabhu. When He was ordered by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to give Krsna consciousness to everyone, He began to distribute Gauranga consciousness, divine love of Sri Gauranga. That Nityananda Prabhu is the savior of all fallen souls, without any discrimination of the degree of their fallenness, so we bow down to His holy feet.
Once, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had a secret talk with Nityananda Prabhu in Jagannatha Puri. When Nityananda Prabhu went to Bengal and married, some say that Mahaprabhu asked Him to marry. It is our opinion that because the so-called "high class" people were so much surcharged with vanity, Nityananda Prabhu was asked to approach the masses. Because He was ordered to mix with them very familiarly for His preaching purposes, it was found necessary for Him to marry. Otherwise, if He were to have mixed very familiarly with family men, accusations may have been leveled at His standard of renunciation. And to further that purpose. He married. He had to adopt that policy and accept that attitude. And He may have been told to do so by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; it was not His own decision. Of course, marrying or not marrying was nothing to Him.
How He came in contact with His eternal consort, Jahnavadevi is described in the Bhakti-ratnakara. It appears that when He was preaching all around Bengal, He preached at the house of Jahnavadevi's father, Suryadasa Pandita, the brother of Gauridasa Pandita, who was already a follower of Gaura-Nityananda. Suryadasa gave Him intimate help in His propaganda work, as his house was a good base. And Suryadasa, who had two daughters, offered Nityananda Prabhu his daughter in marriage. Ultimately, Srila Nityananda Prabhu and Srimati Jahnavadevi are eternally associated, and although their marriage apparently took place out of necessity, it was actually part of Their eternal lila.
Of course, some so-called sannyasis take advantage of this to give up their vows of celibacy and marry. They give the marriage of Nityananda as an excuse. But it is not a proven fact that Nityananda Prabhu was a sannyasi. Actually, the name "Nityananda" is a brahmacari name. "Ananda" is a suffix added to the name of a brahmacari. Ananda, Svarupa, Prakasa, and Caitanya are different types of brahmacari names. The name Ananda is also found in the sannyasa order of life, but we find no sannyasa title mentioned for Nityananda Prabhu. There is also no mention-anywhere of a sannyasa guru for Nityananda Prabhu, although we know that His diksa guru was Madhavendra Puri, the guru of Advaita Prabhu and Isvara Puri.
Nityananda Prabhu is known as an avadhuta. Avadhuta does not mean a sannyasi, but one who is not very particular about his external practices and sometimes does things which should not be done. When an exalted person is seen engaging in lower practices, he is considered an avadhuta. It is understood that he is above that, but his practices are of a lower nature. Ava means lower, and dhuta means that he can either remove or purify.
Nityananda Prabhu broke the single sannyasa staff (eka-danda) into three; that indicates that when taking sanyasa, the renounced order of life, we should accept not one, but three dandas, which symbolize the dedication of body, mind, and words in the service of the Lord. And Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada was also inspired by this action of Nityananda Prabhu's to give tridandi sannydsa to his followers, in contrast with ekadanda which was formerly current in Bengal. The system of tridandi sannydsa was the custom in Southeast India with the Vaisnavas who follow Ramanujacarya, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta introduced it for the modern world.
Misconception: Attack it—Crush it!
Nityananda Prabhu's approach was somewhat peculiar. His strategy was to uplift the most fallen. Like Napoleon, whose policy was to attack the strongest position of the opposing army, Nityananda Prabhu wanted to capture the most sinful. Generally, we think that a saint flies away from this world of maya and goes to a solitary place where he can enter into a cave and engage himself in meditation. Indian saints generally preach, "Give up everything, go to a solitary place in the jungle, find a cave, and engage yourself fully in understanding Godhead."
But our guru maharaja was different. Like Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, he wanted to attack maya and, like a great general, he declared totalitarian war on illusion and even all other existing conceptions of religion. "Why is there this misunderstanding and misconception?" he thought, "Everything belongs to Krsna: isavasyam idam sarvam. It is plain and simple and sweet. How can we think, "This is for me, that is for Him?' Why should we let this misconception stand here at all? Attack it—and crush the whole thing!"
He told us, "Kirtana means to preach against misconception. As soldiers, you must go door to door and preach Krsna consciousness—Krsna's interest—the Krsna conception. If they understand that everything is for Krsna, they will be saved. This truth is plain and simple. Why should they not understand this? Try to capture them, to release them from the world of misconception and misunderstanding where they are now suffering from reaction."
In this way, we are not afraid of anything. A Vaisnava who loved solitary life once asked our guru maharaja, "Why do you stay at Calcutta? That is the place of Satan, where fighting for selfish interest is so acute. Leave that—come to the holy dhama." But Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura especially chose that place, saying, "I prefer to represent Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's creed in an extremely contaminated place." For this reason, he wanted to send men to the West. "The East is captured by the glamour of Western civilization," he said, "so Western civilization must first be crushed. Then, its glamour will vanish and the whole world will come to join the campaign of divine love of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu." This was the same spirit with which Nityananda Prabhu canvassed the fallen souls of this world, in His attempt to take them to the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.