Who is Lord Nityananda and why did He appear?
The Supreme Lord Sri Krishna appeared in Navadvipa, West Bengal as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to establish Sankirtana Movement (Congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord, the Yuga-dharma for this age). To help the Supreme Lord in His mission, Lord Balarama appeared as Nityananda Prabhu. He assisted Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by spreading the holy name of the Lord throughout Bengal.
Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami explains in Chaitanya Charitamrita –
saṅkarṣaṇaḥ kāraṇa-toya-śāyī garbhoda-śāyī ca payo ’bdhi-śāyī
śeṣaś ca yasyāṁśa-kalāḥ sa nityā-nandākhya-rāmaḥ śaraṇaṁ mamāstu – (CC Adi 1.7)
Translation: May Śrī Nityananda Rāma be the object of my constant remembrance. Saṅkarṣaṇa, Śeṣa Nāga and the Viṣṇus who lie on the Kāraṇa Ocean, Garbha Ocean, and ocean of milk are His plenary portions and the portions of His plenary portions.
Nityananda Prabhu appeared in the village of Ekachakra, in the district of Birbhum (West Bengal) as the son of Padmavati and Hadai Pandita in the year 1474 AD. He was born on the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Magha (Magha Shukla Trayodashi). Even today pilgrims visit the place of birth of Lord Nityananda in Ekachakra. This temple is called Garbhavasa.
Lord Nityananda as the original Spiritual Master
Lord Nityananda is the eternal associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Mahaprabhu cannot be approached or understood without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, who is the cardinal guru of all the universes and serves as an intermediary between Mahaprabhu and His devotees. He is the Lord’s active principle in both creation and lila. He is the second body of the Lord, manifesting as Balaram to Sri Krishna, Lakshman to Sri Ram and Nityananda Prabhu to Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Nityananda Prabhu in His role as the original spiritual master was instrumental in spreading the Yuga-Dharma of Sankritana all over the Gaudadesh (Bengal, Orrisa). His mercy knew no bounds, and people fortunate to come in contact with Him were inundated with the love of Godhead. It was by His mercy that Raghunatha dasa, one of the six Goswamis started the famous Danda Mahotsava festival of Panihati, a tradition that continues to this day, and was thus able to serve Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Observing Nityananda Trayodashi?
Sri Nityananda Trayodashi is the auspicious appearance day of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. On this day, devotees fast till noon and pray to Lord Nityananda for spiritual strength. Evening program begins with a grand abhishekam to The Deities of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai with panchamrita (milk, curd, sweetened water, ghee and honey) and panchagavya. The Deities are then bathed with exotic fruit juices and water mixed with herbal extracts. After the abhishekam, the Deities are given a special offering of bhogas.
As Narottama dasa Thakura says, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu have come to deliver all who were lowly and wretched, and the proof is Jagai and Madhai (tara saksi jagai madhai). Although born in a brahman family, these two brothers became the most sinful of living beings—cheaters, thieves, womanizers, drunkards, and even murderers. Lord Nityananda extended His mercy to even these fallen souls, delivering them from the sinful lives and protecting them from the wrath of even Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
We cannot imitate the Lords, but we should definitely follow Them.
The fundamental religious system in the Age of Kali is the chanting of the holy name of Krishna. So, we should try to utilise every occasion to do Sankirtana Program at our home, by inviting our neighbours, friends, and family.
Let us know how you celebrate Nityananda Trayodashi.