An excerpt from Sri Guru and His Grace by His Divine Grace Srila B. R. Sridhar Maharaj
The original spiritual master is Nityananda Prabhu. He is the general representation of guru. In the spiritual world, he is the guru-tattva principle in the four primary mellows of devotion, excluding the conjugal mellow. In madhurya-rasa, Baladeva’s representation is Ananga Manjari, the sister of Radharani.
The position of Nityananda is greater than that of Baladeva. Why? He is distributing prem, divine love. And what is prem? It is higher than all other achievements. If one can give divine love, then all others must be subordinate to him. If Krishna is subordinate to Mahaprabhu then, of course, Balarama is subordinate to Nityananda. They are similar, but when magnanimity is added, Balarama becomes Nityananda. That Balarama who can distribute divine love, who can perform that higher function, has come here as Nityananda. Our foundation must be solid and proper. Then the structure should be erected. Otherwise the whole thing will go down (heno nitai vine bhai radha krishna paite nai). We can get a solid foundation from Nityananda Prabhu.
One day Nityananda Prabhu came to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s house in Mayapur.
Mahaprabhu’s mother, Sachidevi, and Visnupriya-devi, His wife, were also there, as well as other devotees. Suddenly Nityananda arrived, quite naked.
Mahaprabhu managed to give Him some cloth. And perhaps He was concerned that the devotees might have some misconception about Nityananda Prabhu.
So, to prevent this He asked Nityananda Prabhu for His kaupina, His loincloth. He tore it up and distributed it amongst the householders that were present, instructing them, “Keep a piece of His loincloth, as a kavaca, an amulet, and tie that with a thread to your arm or wear it around your neck. Please keep it with you. Then you will be able to achieve sense control very soon.”
Nityananda Prabhu has control of His senses to the extreme degree; He does not know anything of this world. His vairagya, indifference to the world of mundane transaction, is of such a degree that He can appear naked amongst both male and female. So, the grace of Nityananda Prabhu will construct a firm foundation for us. If there is a firm foundation then we may build a great structure over it. If we have faith in Nityananda, then that faith can bear any amount of weight. It won’t betray us.
So, Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has laid stress amongst the Westerners on devotion to Nityananda. First, we must get His mercy. And then, afterwards, we can get the mercy of Radha-Krishna.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu means Radha-Krishna (Sri krisha chaitanya radha-krishna nahe anya). First achieve the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, and then Gauranga Mahaprabhu, and then Sri Radha Govinda. In these three stages, we must raise ourselves up.
Devotee: How does one attain the mercy of Lord Nityananda?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: One who finds more inclination to serve Gauranga and His dhama, His transcendental land, and His servants can get the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu. Nityananda is very much kind to one who has some special tendency towards Gaura-lila.
“TAKE THE NAME OF GAURANGA”
Nityananda Prabhu walked from door to door in Bengal, saying, “Take the name of Gauranga! I’ll become your servant. You can purchase Me if you only take the name of Gauranga. I’ll be sold to you without any price or condition.” That was His temperament. When Mahaprabhu was in Puri, He sent Nityananda Prabhu to Bengal. At that time He said, “Without You I don’t fine anyone who can spread the holy name of Krishna, or devotional service to Krishna, in Bengal. They are more engaged in the tantric method and smriti. They make too much of these trifling things. They are puffed up, thinking that they have finished all knowledge. So, Bengal is a very hard field for preaching. Without You, no one will be able to awaken the masses. Separate Yourself from the higher castes and approach the masses with the holy name of Krishna. You are the fittest person for this work.”
Nityananda Prabhu went to Bengal, but without trying to preach the glories of the holy name of
Krishna, Nityananda began to preach the name of Gauranga. Nityananda Prabhu found that there is some danger of thinking that Krishna’s pastimes are very much akin to the mundane debauchery, lying, and stealing of a degraded soul. Krishna’s pastimes are of a highly confidential nature. It is very difficult for the masses to understand the purity of Krishna-lila. The mass mind cannot accept Krishna-lila as the highest attainment. So, Nityananda Prabhu found it would be difficult to preach Krishna-lila, but He found it would be easy to preach Gaura-lila, where Krishna has come to distribute Himself to the public with so much capital in His mind. Gauranga means a dynamo which wants to distribute Krishna, surcharged with the most magnanimous, intensified pity and kindness for the ordinary people, with the greatest affection even for the criminals. Nityananda Prabhu wanted to bring them in connection with Gauranga, for then Krishna-lila would automatically be within their fist. So, He began to preach about Gauranga, not Radha-Krishna, as commanded by Mahaprabhu. So, Nityananda Prabhu says, bhaja gauranga kaha gauranga, laha gauranga nama, “Worship Gauranga, speak only of Gauranga, and chant the name of Gauranga.”
There is another instance of the relationship between Krishna and Balarama, and Gauranga and Nityananda, which is described in the Chaitanya-bhagavata. Sacidevi had a dream that Krishna and Balarama were sitting on a throne, and Nityananda was fighting with Balarama, “Come down from the throne. It is no longer Dvapara yuga. The age of Kali has come and My master Gauranga must occupy Your position on this throne. You come down!” Balarama began giving some opposition. “No, no, why should We come down? We have been sitting on this throne for such a long time.” Nityananda Prabhu began forcibly taking Him down, and Balarama submitted slightly. Nityananda Prabhu said, “My master Gauranga wants to take the position now. The age for Him has come.” So Nityananda is very partial to Gauranga. He says, Krishna is far off. “My Lord is Gauranga.”
So, we must be very grateful to Nityananda Prabhu, for He is our guru. And guru’s grace is so important that Raghunatha Dasa Goswami says, “O, Radharani, I want Your grace. Without You, I don’t want Krishna separately. I never want Krishna without You.” That should be the healthy attitude of a devotee. This has been explained by Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur in his Gurvastakam:
yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadat na gatih kuto ’pi
dhyaya˜ stuvams tasya yasas tri-sandhyam
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam
“I bow down to the lotus feet of Sri Gurudeva. By his grace, we achieve the grace of Krishna; without his grace, we are lost. Therefore, we should always meditate on Sri Gurudeva, and pray for his mercy.”
This is the position of Sri Guru, by whose grace we can get everything, we can get the grace of Krishna, and without whose grace, we have no other prospect. So, in this way, we must have reverence for he who has given us our first connection with Krishna consciousness.