L-R: Sri Nityananda Prabhu and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
ISKCON Bangalore celebrated the auspicious appearance of Lord Nityananda with great gusto on Thursday, February 9th, 2017.
On this festive occasion, the main temple hall on the Hare Krishna Hill was decorated with thick and colorful flower garlands. Red and green cloth embellishments adorned the four sides of the hall. The Deities looked especially gorgeous in Their bright and strikingly beautiful garments, exquisitely stunning jewelry and matching flower garlands. Sri Nityananda Prabhu also called Nitai, stood out in His distinctly delightful adornments!
In Dvapara Yuga, about 5,000 years ago, the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna appeared with His elder brother Lord Balarama and enacted many enchanting pastimes. Now in Kali Yuga approximately 500 years ago, the same Supreme Lord Sri Krishna appeared as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Balarama as Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Sri Nityananda Prabhu appeared in the village of Ekachakra, in West Bengal, India, around 1474. He was born to Hadai Pandita and Padmavathi.
As Their Lordships gave darshan to the constant stream of visitors starting early in the day, several devotees worked behind the scenes in preparation for the grand festival ceremony scheduled for the latter part of the day. About half past five in the evening, beautiful rangolis were drawn along the path to receive the Lord. As the main Deities continued to bless the devotees lining up in the temple hall, the utsava Deities of Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga were getting ready behind the closed curtains. As the clock came close to striking six, devotees eagerly awaited the arrival of the Lord, while the singers sang melodious kirtans. Suddenly the curtains opened and Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga appeared brilliantly gorgeous, seated on a pallakki carried by four devotees accompanied by an upbeat kirtan, and everyone immediately prostrated to pay their obeisances. Their Lordships were now brought to the Open Air Theatre (OAT) where They were about to receive a grand abhisheka.
Lord Nityananda is an embodiment of mercy of love of Godhead. He is so merciful that He does not distinguish between people who are good and bad. He freely distributes love of Godhead to anyone taking shelter of His lotus feet. Upon being ordered by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu along with Haridas Thakur would go door to door, approaching everyone in Navadvipa and requesting them to take up chanting of the holy names. One exemplary demonstration of Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy is in the case of two fallen brothers Jagai and Madhai. In fact, it is said that these two were so sinful that Yamaraja’s assistant Chitragupta collapsed from exhaustion in tallying their sins. When Nityananda Prabhu approached these two fallen brothers and requested them to give up their sinful way of life and develop love for God, the two villains chased Nityananda Prabhu down the road, shouting profanities and calling Him foul names. Madhai threw a broken clay pot that came crashing down on Nityananda Prabhu’s head, causing Him to bleed.
When Lord Chaitanya heard what had happened, He came rushing and out of anger, invoked His Sudarshana chakra to kill the two brothers. But Nityananda Prabhu pacified the Lord, reminding the Lord that the majority of people in this age are as fallen as Jagai and Madhai and that it is His mission to liberate them with love, not violence. Hearing these words, Mahaprabhu was willing to forgive Jagai. But Madhai, who had perpetrated the evil deed, needed to be forgiven by Nityananda Prabhu Himself. Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy knows no bounds and He quickly forgave Madhai for all that he had done. Seeing the unparalleled compassion of Lord Nityananda, Jagai and Madhai’s hearts were transformed. Not only did they abandon their sinful way of life but embraced devotional service by constantly chanting the holy names of the Lord. Such is the mercy of Lord Nityananda!
About 800 devotees thronged the OAT eager to witness the abhisheka and arati to the most merciful Lord Nityananda. The stage was bedecked with tasteful assortment of flowers with a huge portrait of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His close associates performing sankirtan, placed to the left and right of the stage backdrop. Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa (President, ISKCON Bangalore) and Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa (Senior Vice President, ISKCON Bangalore) performed the abhisheka to Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga with utmost devotion. To the accompaniment of the chanting of various auspicious mantras and devotional songs, Their Lordships were bathed in various auspicious paraphernalia like milk, curd, ghee, honey, tonic of medicinal herbs, variety of fruit juices, tender coconut water and clear water. To the Deities smeared with turmeric and wearing tulasi garlands, many different dipa offerings were made. At this point, the entire OAT resounded with the beautiful Bengali style rendition of Gaura Arati song, a wonderful composition by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. The Deities were again bathed from the holy waters in 108 kalashas followed by the shower of baskets of variegated colorful flowers. The curtains were then closed to get the Deities ready for the arati.
Meanwhile, an enchanting audio visual presentation was given on the two huge display screens for the audience to know more about Sri Nityananda Prabhu. Finally when the curtains opened to the blowing of conch shells, Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga looked exquisitely charming and accepted the offering of arati, while filling the hearts of everyone present with loving devotion.
Devotees chanting auspicious mantras before the commencement of abhisheka
Their Lordships Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga ready for arati
Narottama Das Thakur, a great Vaishnava saint has sung ’Nitai pada kamala, koti chandra sushitala’ meaning, the lotus feet of Sri Nityananda Prabhu is as soothingly cool as millions of moons. So anyone wishing to escape from the blazing fire of material existence must immediately seek refuge at the lotus feet of Sri Nityananda. As already discussed, Sri Nityananda is most merciful in delivering the fallen souls of this age by freely distributing the love of Godhead without any discrimination. The way to gain His mercy is by taking to loving devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. The best method of devotion prescribed by the scriptures for Kali Yuga is to chant —Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare /Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
After the arati ceremony, Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga were again carried back to the main temple for an ecstatic shayana pallakki utsava. The utsava was accompanied by roaring kirtan, begging for the mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. May the most merciful Lord Nityananda bestow His divine glance upon all of us and may we seek and attain refuge at His lotus feet. All glories to the appearance of the most merciful Sri Nityananda Prabhu!