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Nityananda-Rama at Panihati
Nityananda (Bangla: শ্রী নিত্যানন্দ) (b 1474 CE), a Vaishnava saint, is famous as a primary religious figure within the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition of Bengalmarker. Nityananda was Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's friend & disciple. They are often mentioned together as Gaura-Nitai (Gaura, "golden one", referring to Chaitanya, Nitai being a shortened form of Nityananda) or Nimai-Nitai (Nimai being another name of Chaitanya). Followers often refer to Nityananda as 'Sri Nityananda', 'Prabhu Nityananda' or 'Nityananda Rama'.

According to Gaudiya-Vaishnava tradition Nityananda is an incarnation of Balarama, with Chaitanya Mahaprabhu being his eternal brother and friend, Krishna. He is considered the 'most merciful' incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Life

Nityananda Prabhu was born to a religious Bandyaghati Brahmin, Mukunda Pandit (also known as Hadai Pandit) and Padmavati in Ekachakra (a small village in Birbhum districtmarker of present West Bengalmarker) around the year 1474. His devotion and great talent for singing Vaishnava hymns (bhajan) were apparent from a very early age. He became well known in his youth for his dramatic re-enactments of Lord Rama's pastimes, wherein he would generally play the part of Lakshman, Rama's younger brother along with the other boys of Ekachakra.

At the age of thirteen, Nityananda left home with a travelling renunciate (sannyasi) known as Lakshmipati Tirtha. Nityananda'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 Nityananda would be perfect for the job. As he had given his word Hadai Pandit reluctantly agreed and Nityananda joined him in his travels. This started Nityananda'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.

The Jagai-Madhai episode

The episode of Jagai-Madhai is arguably the most well known of tales related to Chaitanya and Nityananda. There are a few versions of the story, but the basics outline of the traditional tale is as follows:

Once while chanting the name of Krishna in the streets, Nityananda was attacked by Jagai and Madhai, two irreverent drunk brothers. Madhai threw an earthen pot which cut his forehead. At this point Nityananda is said to have uttered the now famous sentence, "Merechhish kolshir kana, tai bole ki prem debona" (Shall I stop giving you love because you have hit me with an earthen pot?). Chaitanya heard of the episode, flew to a rage, and wanted to kill the brothers with his divine Chakra. Nityananda begged him to pardon them and they became Chaitanya's disciples, converted by Nityananda's compassion.


Marriage and the descendants

Nityananda married two daughters of Suryadasa Sarakhela, Vasudha and Jahnava. After marriage, he settled in Khardahamarker. He had a son, Virachandra or Virabhadra and a daughter, Ganga by his first wife Vasudha. Virabhadra was later initiated to vaishnava rites by his step-mother Jahnava.

Legacy

The exploits of Chaitanya and Nityananda have had deep religious and cultural implications in Bengal. They are credited with the revival of Hinduism in Eastern Indiamarker, plagued mainly by the caste system, which they denounced. Much of Vaishnava literature, regarded as one the finest literary heritage of medieval Bengal, came from them or their disciples. Even in secular literature, their brotherly love towards each other has been celebrated.

Principal Sobriquets of Nityananda

  • Nityananda -- He Who embodies eternal bliss
  • Avadhutendu -- The Moon of divine madmen
  • Vasudha-prana-vallabha -- The beloved of the life-breath of Vasudha
  • Jahnavi-jivita-pati -- The eternal divine husband of Shrimati Jahnavi-devi and the maintainer and sustainer of Her life and soul
  • Krsna-prema-prada -- He Who bestows ecstatic love for Krsna
  • Prabhu -- The Lord and Master of the devotees
  • Padmavati-suta -- The dear son of Padmavati
  • Sriman -- He of spendrous transcendental majesty
  • Saci-nandana-purvaja -- The older brother of mother Saci's son
  • Bhavonmatta -- He Who is maddened in overwhelming ecstatic emotions
  • Jagat-trata -- The savior of the universe
  • Rakta-gaura-kalevara - He Whose complexion is golden tinged with red


from the writings of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya.

See also



References

  1. Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi-lila, 5.6
  2. Sen, Sukumar (1991, reprint 2007). Bangala Sahityer Itihas, Vol.I, , Kolkata: Ananda Publishers, ISBN 81-7066-966-9, p.293
  3. Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi-lila,13.61, purport
  4. Sen, Sukumar (1991, reprint 2007). Bangala Sahityer Itihas, Vol.I, , Kolkata: Ananda Publishers, ISBN 81-7066-966-9, pp.236, 321-2


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