We welcome you to the most auspicious observance of Sri Nityananda-trayodasi, the appearance day of Lord Nityananda Balarama. We shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the authorized biography of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates, Adi-lila, Chapter 5: “The Glories of Lord Nityananda Balarama.”
Let me offer my obeisances to Lord Sri Nityananda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose opulence is wonderful and unlimited. By His will, even a fool can understand His identity.
jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya nityananda
jayadvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vrnda
All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! All glories to Lord Nityananda! All glories to Advaita Acarya! And all glories to all the devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu!
ei sat-sloke kahila krsna-caitanya-mahima
panca-sloke kahi nityananda-tattva-sima
I have described the glory of Sri Krsna Caitanya in six verses. Now, in five verses I shall describe the glory of Lord Nityananda.
sarva-avatari krsna svayam bhagavan
tanhara dvitiya deha sri-balarama
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is the fountainhead of all incarnations. Lord Balarama is His second body.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Lord Sri Krsna, the absolute Personality of Godhead, is the primeval Lord, the original form of Godhead, and His first expansion is Sri Balarama. The Personality of Godhead can expand Himself in innumerable forms. The forms that have unlimited potency are called svamsa, and forms that have limited potencies (the living entities) are called vibhinnamsa.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
To properly understand Lord Nityananda and Lord Chaitanya, we must first understand Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama. As stated throughout the Vedic literature, Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam) and His first expansion is Balarama. Sri Brahma-samhita gives the example that from one candle you can light a second, from the second candle you can light a third, from the third you can light a fourth, and so on. In essence, they are the same—they all have the same candlepower. But still, there is one original candle, one original Personality of Godhead (Krishna), and there is one first expansion (Balarama). From Balarama the other expansions follow.
eka-i svarupa donhe, bhinna-matra kaya
adya kaya-vyuha, krsna-lilara sahaya
These two are one and the same identity. They differ only in form. Lord Balarama is the first bodily expansion of Krsna, and He assists in Lord Krsna’s transcendental pastimes.
Balarama is a svamsa expansion of the Lord, and therefore there is no difference in potency between Krsna and Balarama. The only difference is in Their bodily structure. As the first expansion of Godhead, Balarama is the chief Deity among the first quadruple forms, and He is the foremost assistant of Sri Krsna in His transcendental activities.
The subject of the Godhead and His expansions is deep and mysterious. We can talk about it, but to actually realize the truth of the subject is possible only by Lord Nityananda’s mercy. As stated in Dalalera-gita (8), den suddha krsna-siksa—Lord Nityananda gives us the pure teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
ess is to repeat what we have heard from authorities. We are conditioned souls. We have defects. We commit mistakes. We have imperfect senses. We are subject to illusion. We are prone to cheat. In so many ways, we are faulty. Further, the subject of Godhead is altogether beyond the range of the senses and mind and even intelligence, which are material and limited, because God and His expansions are spiritual and unlimited. So we cannot approach the transcendental subject, the transcendental realm, through our imperfect senses and our limited minds and intelligence. We can receive perfect knowledge only through aural reception—from higher authorities who are beyond the pale of material existence, who are free from the defects of conditioned souls. Therefore we always read from scripture and cite references from scripture, because the Vedic literature is beyond the defects of conditioned souls. It is apauruseya; it is not made by man but emanates directly from God, and we receive that knowledge by submissive aural reception from the parampara.
Lord Balarama is the original spiritual master because He fulfills the two functions of a spiritual master: He gives knowledge of God and He serves God. Because He is the first expansion of Godhead, He is the first (apart from Krishna Himself) to give us knowledge of God. And He is the first to engage in service to God. The spiritual master is the leader of the servants of God. He teaches the science of devotional service and engages his followers in service.
Once, in Calcutta, Srila Prabhupada asked the devotees, “What is the duty of the spiritual master, and what is the duty of the disciple?” Different devotees gave different answers. Finally, Srila Prabhupada himself gave the answer: “The duty of the spiritual master is to serve Krishna, and the duty of the disciple is to assist him.” For example, the spiritual master installs the Deity. He is responsible for the worship. He is responsible for the cleanliness of the temple (sri-vigraharadhana-nitya-nana- srngara-tan-mandira-marjanadau).
yuktasya bhaktams ca niyunjato ’pi
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
“The spiritual master is always engaged in the temple worship of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. He also engages his disciples in such worship. They dress the Deities in beautiful clothes and ornaments, clean Their temple, and perform other similar worship of the Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master.” (Sri Gurvastakam, Verse 3)
In principle, the spiritual master is responsible for all the services, but the disciples assist him. So Srila Prabhupada said, “When the disciples are cleaning the floor, they should think, ‘Actually, this is my spiritual master’s service, and I am assisting him.’ ”
Lord Balarama, or Nityananda Prabhu, is the original spiritual master, and to understand the knowledge of Godhead, we have to receive it through the line of spiritual masters, because in our present status we have no capacity to approach Lord Balarama or Lord Nityananda directly. So we receive the knowledge through Their representatives, and we offer service to Them through Their representatives. That is the principle of disciplic succession (evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh). In the Bhagavad-gita (4.1–2) Krishna says that He originally spoke the science of yoga many millions of years ago and that it was handed down through disciplic succession. That is how to receive transcendental knowledge. And when we receive it, we absorb it through our ears and into our hearts, and then we repeat what we have heard. That is the principle of preaching, or teaching: sravanam kirtanam. First we hear, and then we repeat what we have heard. And because we are repeating perfect knowledge received from perfect authorities, what we say is perfect. We are not perfect, but what we say is perfect, because we are repeating knowledge that is perfect, which has been received through disciple succession from a perfect authority, and ultimately, from the supreme authority.
That is our duty. When we receive knowledge, we must repeat it. When one receives knowledge from a spiritual master, one incurs a debt to him. It is an immeasurable debt that cannot be repaid, but the method by which one makes the effort to repay it is to repeat what one has heard from the spiritual master—in other words, to share the knowledge that one has received from the disciplic succession. So that is what we are doing here tonight. In fact, we do it every morning and every evening, and as far as possible, we do it all day and night: we hear and we chant (sravanam kirtanam). That is our life.
One day, after preaching in downtown Bombay, I came back to Juhu and met Srila Prabhupada. In an enthusiastic mood, I exclaimed, “Srila Prabhupada, I like this preaching.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Not ‘I like this preaching.’—‘This preaching is my life.’” So that is our life: hearing and repeating (sravanam kirtanam).
We just read about Krishna and Balarama, “These two are one and the same identity. They differ only in form.” One year, at the Ardha-kumbha-mela, a discussion arose between two of Prabhupada’s disciples. One of them said practically what the verse here says, that “Krishna and Balarama are the same. The only difference is that Krishna is blackish and Balarama is whitish.”
Now, when we talk about the form of the Lord, we are not referring to a material body like we have, made of flesh and blood and bones and stool and urine and other fluids. We are talking about sac-cid-ananda-vigraha. We are talking about the personification of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. We are talking about something completely beyond the three modes of material nature. So when we say that Krishna is black or Balarama is white, we are not referring to material skin, like we have.
Once, a black person, an African, was very enlivened to hear that Krishna was black, and he intimated to Srila Prabhupada how pleased he was. And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Yes, He is black, but not that black”—a different black. So we are talking about a spiritual existence. Krishna’s hue is compared to a lustrous, blue-black monsoon cloud.
Anyway, the one disciple was saying, “Krishna and Balarama are the same. The only difference is that Krishna is black and Balarama is white.” And the other was saying, “There is a difference, because Krishna is the only enjoyer of Radharani.” So they were arguing. And Tamal Krishna Prabhu, later Tamal Krishna Goswami, who was then Srila Prabhupada’s GBC secretary in India, referred the dispute to His Divine Grace. He said, “Srila Prabhupada, Madhudvisa is saying that there is no difference between Krishna and Balarama, that the only difference is that Krishna is black and Balarama is white.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “He is right.” Then Tamal Krishna said, “But Yamuna is saying that there is actually a difference, because Krishna is the only enjoyer of Radharani.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “She is right.” So Tamal Krishna said, “But Srila Prabhupada, they are saying different things. They both can’t be right.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “You are right.” So Tamal Krishna asked, “Well, which is right?” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “You decide.” So, I won’t comment. We will just hear and repeat and accept it as it is.
sei krsna—navadvipe sri-caitanya-candra
sei balarama—sange sri-nityananda
That original Lord Krsna appeared in Navadvipa as Lord Caitanya, and Balarama appeared with Him as Lord Nityananda.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 1.2) describes that They rose like the sun and the moon simultaneously over the horizon of Gauda-desa.
citrau san-dau tamo-nudau
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Krsna Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, who are like the sun and moon. They have arisen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauda to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all.”
The example of the sun rising over the horizon is significant because the sun always exists. It doesn’t take birth. It just appears before our vision at a certain time, which we call sunrise, and it disappears from our vision at a certain time, which we call sunset, but it always exists. In the same way, Krishna and Balarama always exist. They are eternal; They have no beginning and no end. Similarly, Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda have no beginning or end; They appear like the sun and the moon simultaneously, to bestow benediction upon us all.
garbhoda-sayi ca payobdhi-sayi
sesas ca yasyamsa-kalah sa nitya-
nandakhya-ramah saranam mamastu
May Sri Nityananda Rama be the object of my constant remembrance. Sankarsana, Sesa Naga, and the Visnus who lie on the Karana Ocean, Garbha Ocean, and ocean of milk are His plenary portions and the portions of His plenary portions.
Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami has recorded this verse in his diary to offer his respectful obeisances to Lord Nityananda Prabhu. This verse also appears as the seventh of the first fourteen verses of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
Nitya-nandakhya-ramah saranam mamastu: May Sri Nityananda Rama be the object of my constant remembrance. That is our goal: to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. In our case, being as fallen as we are and as in need of mercy as we are, our constant remembrance should be Sri Nityananda Balarama. And actually, to remember Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu means to remember Sri Sri Krishna-Balarama and Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, because They are always thinking of Krishna and His associates in Vrindavan and They are always chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And our authorities, such as Srila Jiva Gosvami and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, have explained that all of krsna-lila, radha-krsna-lila, is contained in the sixteen words of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. They have even explained how the first “Hare Krishna” means something, then the next “Hare Krishna” means something else, then “Krishna Krishna,” “Hare Hare,”—how all the pastimes are there in the maha-mantra and how by chanting the maha-mantra purely, we can realize the entire spiritual world. That is a great gift.
That is the great gift of Nityananda Mahajana, that He has made the holy name available to everyone just for the price of one’s faith (sraddha-matra). That is all we have to pay—just have faith. Nityananda does not consider one’s birth, one’s caste, one’s wealth, one’s physical ability or beauty. He wants to see only one thing: that you have a drop of faith. If you have a drop of faith—if He sees just a drop of a tear in your eye from chanting the holy name of Gaura or hearing the pastimes of Gaura—He feels so ecstatic. He feels so indebted to you that He immediately wants to give you everything (sakala sambala): the holy name, the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam—in effect, the entire spiritual kingdom of God. He is ready to give you the highest bliss (parama-ananda) just for a little faith.
It begins with a little faith, and it is a little faith, because God is unlimited. As Prabhupada used to say, “God is infinite and we are infinitesimal.” So what are we compared to God? There is no comparison at all. And what can we offer to God? What do we have to offer? Just a little faith, a drop of faith. We have to aspire for that faith, cry for that faith. Bhaktivinoda Thakura prays to the Vaishnava, tumi krpa kori’, sraddha-bindu diya, deho’ krsna-nama-dhane: “Please give me just one drop of faith with which to obtain the great treasure of the holy name of Krishna.” He asks for just a drop of faith—just a particle—because from that, everything else follows. Just a drop of faith.
sri-balarama gosani mula-sankarsana
panca-rupa dhari’ karena krsnera sevana
Lord Balarama is the original Sankarsana. He assumes five other forms to serve Lord Krsna.
apane karena krsna-lilara sahaya
srsti-lila-karya kare dhari’ cari kaya
He Himself helps in the pastimes of Lord Krsna, and He does the work of creation in four other forms.
The author, Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, distinguishes the expansions that engage in the creation and maintenance of the cosmic manifestation from the forms that are engaged in pastimes in the spiritual world. This is another mystery of Krishna consciousness, of Vedic knowledge—that God has two existences. He is the same Godhead, but in one feature He enjoys pastimes in the spiritual world (Goloka Vrindavan) as Krishna, or Balarama, and in other, expanded forms, He creates the material universes and maintains them. But in His original form, na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate: He has no work to perform.
na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate
na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca
“The Supreme Lord has no duty to perform, and no one is seen to be equal to or greater than Him. He has various potencies that act so perfectly in natural sequence that all knowledge, strength, and activity are enacted solely by His will.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.8)
God has nothing to do. He has no work to perform. Everything is done by His agents. Even an ordinary rich man has secretaries and servants to do his work for him. Srila Prabhupada often gave the example of Mr. Birla in India. If Mr. Birla wanted to start a factory, he would just call his secretary and say, “I want to start such-and-such factory in such-and-such place.” And his agents would go to work. They would do everything for him.
So, Krishna and Balarama enjoy pastimes in the spiritual world, in Goloka Vrindavan. And even though Balarama is the Personality of Godhead Himself, He still takes pleasure in the service of Krishna. The author of Caitanya-caritamrta says that everyone, even the direct expansions of Krishna, the svamsas, takes pleasure in serving Krishna. Lord Balarama too takes pleasure in serving Krishna. As the older brother, He sometimes serves in a parental mood. Yet, as a brother, He serves in a friendly mood, with an aspect of equality. And He also likes to serve Krishna in a subordinate mood, with an aspect of servitude. Sometimes when Krishna becomes tired in the forest, He lies down to rest and Balarama massages His feet—and takes great pleasure in doing so. (In madhurya-rasa, although Balarama cannot serve in a male form, He expands as Ananga-manjari, the younger sister of Radharani.)
And Lord Nityananda serves Lord Chaitanya in the same three moods:
kabhu guru, kabhu sakha, kabhu bhrtya-lila
purve yena tina-bhave vraje kaila khela
“Sometimes He serves Lord Caitanya as His guru, sometimes as His friend, and sometimes as His servant, just as Lord Balarama played with Lord Krsna in these three different moods in Vraja.” (Cc Adi 5.135)
The incarnation Sesa Naga, mentioned above, also engages in personal service. With his body he serves as the throne of the Lord, and with his hoods he forms an umbrella over the Lord. And the expansions Karanodakasayi Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, and Ksirodakasayi Visnu create and maintain the material cosmic manifestation. Lord Visnu also expands within the universe: antantara-stha-paramanu-cayantara-stham— He is situated within the atoms and in the spaces between the atoms. He is everywhere (sarva-gatam)—all-pervading. Meanwhile, Krishna and Balarama, in Their original forms, are enjoying pastimes in Vrindavan.
Our acharyas have explained that just as there is a section in the spiritual sky where Krishna and Balarama enjoy Their pastimes with Their associates, there is another section where Lord Chaitanya and Nityananda eternally relish Their pastimes. It’s not that Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda appear on earth and manifest Their pastimes and that’s the end of it. They exist eternally in the spiritual world, just like Krishna and Balarama. And we, as devotees, when we become perfect in Krishna consciousness, can join Them. Just as we can join Krishna and Balarama—or Radha and Krishna—in the spiritual world and serve Them eternally, we can also join Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu and serve Them eternally.
Some souls, when they are liberated, can actually serve in both pastimes eternally— Krishna’s and Gaura’s. The liberated soul has such inconceivable power. When Krishna and Balarama appear as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, They descend with Their eternal associates. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, for example, is assisted by the same devotees who play Krishna’s parents Nanda and Yasoda in krsna-lila; in gaura-lila they appear as Jagannatha Misra and Sacimata. In the same way, Lord Balarama’s associates descend and serve Nityananda Prabhu. And if we have such strong attachment to Gaura-Nitai, we too can serve Them in Their pastimes eternally.
Pure devotees have no selfish desires. They have no desire even for liberation. Their only desire is to serve the Lord. Still, sometimes the Lord will give liberation to a pure devotee—though never the impersonal liberation of merging into the brahmajyoti—as a facility for the devotee to serve the Lord. He may award the devotee sarupya (equal bodily features, to serve the Lord), salokya (facility to live on the same planet as the Lord), sarsti (possession of opulence like the Lord), and samipya (close association with the Lord). Such personal liberations may be offered by the Lord to the devotee as facilities for further devotional service, but the devotee neither desires nor asks for them. They come simply by the grace of the Lord.
Pure devotees have no desire for liberation, because they are already liberated, being situated in pure Krishna consciousness. And they are satisfied in any position of life—whether in heaven or hell or anywhere—as long as they can engage in devotional service. Lord Shiva thus glorifies the Vaishnavas:
na kutascana bibhyati
“Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation, and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the Lord.” (SB 6.17.28)
For the Vaishnava, heaven and hell and liberation are all the same. He always remains equipoised, because he doesn’t live in heaven or hell or anywhere else. He lives in the service of the Lord. And that is our goal: to live in the service of the Lord. And that position can be realized by the mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Their associates.
We consider our acharyas, who follow in the line of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, as Their associates and representatives, through disciplic succession. We receive knowledge of the two Lords through disciplic succession, and we serve Them through disciplic succession. By the mercy of the disciplic succession, They pull us out of the material world and place us at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari.
So, today is a most important day, a most auspicious day—the appearance day of Sri Nityananda Balarama—because by His mercy we can get everything. In one lecture Srila Prabhupada explained that our goal is to approach the service of Radha and Krishna. But to approach Radha and Krishna, we need the mercy of Lord Chaitanya. And to get the mercy of Lord Chaitanya, we need the mercy of Lord Nityananda. And to get the mercy of Lord Nityananda, we have to approach people like Jagai and Madhai. Now, Jagai and Madhai were the most sinful people in Navadvipa at the time of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu. They were drunkards, meat-eaters, womanizers, and worse—they were criminals. Yamaraja, the superintendent of death, keeps track of the activities of the living entities, because he has to enforce their karma, so he has to keep track of all their pious and sinful activities. But again, he doesn’t do it directly. He has a scribe, a secretary, named Citragupta. It is described that Jagai and Madhai were so sinful that Yamaraja’s secretary, Yamaraja’s accountant, couldn’t keep track of all their sins. As soon as he made one entry in the book, they committed another sin. And it is described that he actually had a nervous breakdown. That is how sinful Jagai and Madhai were. But even they were delivered by the mercy of Lord Nityananda.
The whole story is related in Caitanya-bhagavata. Not only were Jagai and Madhai blasphemous of Lord Nityananda; they actually hurled an object at Him. When He approached them to request them to chant the holy name, they became so angry that one of them took a clay pot and threw it at Him and hit Him on the forehead. But even then Lord Nityananda persevered in His mission to deliver them.
There is so much love between Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu that when Lord Chaitanya heard about the incident He rushed to the spot, ready to severely chastise Jagai and Madhai, to kill them with His Sudarsana chakra—out of His love for Nityananda Prabhu. But Nityananda Prabhu said, “This is Kali-yuga.” Now, the Lord appears in different millennia—in different ages—which repeat in cycles like the four seasons. Krishna and Balarama had appeared in the previous age, Dvapara-yuga, and They had appeared in other forms in earlier ages, when people were more pious. So, Lord Nityananda said to Lord Chaitanya, “We are in Kali-yuga now. If You kill Jagai and Madhai, You will have to kill everyone.” Of course, not everyone is as sinful as Jagai and Madhai, but pretty much everyone is sinful: They take intoxicants. They eat meat and fish and eggs. They gamble. They engage in illicit sex. So Lord Nityananda said, “Everyone in Kali-yuga is sinful, so if You kill them because they are sinful, You will have to kill everyone. Then what will happen to Your mission? Your mission is not to kill them physically, as in previous ages.” In previous ages the Lord appeared in kshatriya families and killed the miscreants. Lord Rama killed Ravana and other demons physically. Lord Krishna killed Kamsa and other demons physically. But in Kali-yuga Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appears in a brahman family, and He doesn’t take up weapons like a kshatriya to kill the miscreants. Rather, He preaches and kills their demonic mentalities, elevating them to Krishna consciousness. And the special manifestation of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy is Nityananda Prabhu. Through His mercy such fallen souls in Kali-yuga are delivered.
So, to get the mercy of Lord Nityananda we have to approach the sinful, fallen souls of Kali-yuga—the people on the street; the people on the beach; the people in the universities, in the office buildings, in the White House. Everyone is sinful, practically. We have to approach them all. We have to give them Lord Nityananda’s mercy, which means ultimately to give them the holy names—if they will accept. And Srila Prabhupada’s books are there to convince them to accept the mercy and to chant the holy names. By that service of approaching the fallen souls, we get the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. By His mercy we get the mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And by the mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu we can approach the service of Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari.
And all of this is possible by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri Nityananda Prabhu ki jaya!
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ki jaya!
Sri Sri Radha-Giridhari ki jaya!
[A Talk by Giriraj Swami on Nityananda-trayodasi, January 30, 2007, San Diego]