Panca tattvatmakam krsnam bhakta-rupa-svarupakam
bhaktavataram bhaktakhyam namami bhakta saktikam
I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, who is non-different from His features as a devotee (Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu), devotional manifestation (Sri Nityananda Prabhu), devotional incarnation (Sri Advaita Acarya), devotional energy (Sri Gadadhara Pandita) and pure devotee (Sri Srivasa Pandita).
Lord Nityananda, is the incarnation of Lord Balarama ,and He had appeared here at Sri Ekachakra Dham, to assist Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, manifest the most magnanimous pastimes. In the battle of Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna broke His pledge of not using any weapons,by picking up a wheel ,and charging towards Bhishma, who was then fighting valiantly against Arjuna. Bhishma was a great devotee of the Lord, and seeing the Lord charge at him, he threw away his weapons and fell down in surrenderance.He began singing Krishna’s glories, hearing which the Lord calmed down and threw away the wheel He had picked up.This wheel is said to have flown all the way from kurukshetra to land here at this small village in Bengal which came to be subsequently known as Ekachakra.’Eka’ means one and ‘Chakra’ translates to wheel in bengali.Lord Nityananda Prabhu’s subsequent appearance and His display of the most merciful pastimes here ,has identified this sacred land as the king of all pilgrimages.Sri Nityananda Prabhu is the manifestation of the Lord’s devotion (bhakta svarupa) and without His mercy, it is not possible for one to obtain the shelter of Lord Caitanya. Sri Nitai is our original Guru who helps us connect back with Krishna. The spiritual master ,by whose mercy we cross over this vast ocean of material existence, is actually the representative of Lord Nitai.Narottama Das Thakura sings ‘Nitai pada kamala, koti candra sushitala, je chayay jagata juray’.In other words, he reveals, that the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda is more soothing than a millions of moons, the shelter of which encapsulates the entire world.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself utterly unqualified to narrate the qualities or pastimes of our Doyal (merciful) Nitai, and hence begs His permission so that He mercifully empowers us to do so. We consider our lives to be a success, being able to visit Sri Ekachakra dham and pray that she kindly accepts us as one of her dear servants.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this transcendental abode of Ekachakra. We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Nityananda Prabhu that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto His lotus feet and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek His blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
Nityananda Prabhu’s home:
Sri Nityananda Prabhu appeared in the month of Magha, around the year 1474 AD ,in the small village of Ekachakra, situated in the Birbhum district of West Bengal.Sri Hadai Ojha and Srimati Padmavati Devi were His proud parents.Sri Hadai Pandita was the appearance of the combined potencies of Sri Vasudeva (father of Balarama) and Sri Dasaratha (father of Lakshmana) while Srimati Padmavati was the incarnation of the potencies of Rohini (mother Of Balarama) and Sumitra (mother of Lakshmana).The birthplace of Lord Nitai (Garbhavasa),here in Ekachakra, has been presently renovated and restored to its proper health and we consider ourselves blessed to have been able to smear ourselves with its sacred dust. One visiting ‘Garbhavasa, can take darsana of various deities who are being duly worshipped over here.Within the compounds of Lord Nityananda’s residence, is also worshipped a number of other significant deities.One of the three deities carved by Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura, out of the Neem tree in Kulai,depicting Lord Caitanya in His ecstatic dancing form is also preserved and worshipped here at Lord Nitai’s residence,in Ekachakra.We have covered the pastimes of Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura in a separate article entitled – ‘The Great Vaishnavas of Srikhanda’.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself exceedingly fortunate to have been able to behold the beautiful captivating forms of these mesmerizing deities. However, we are unable to post pictures of the same in this article as photography is strictly prohibited inside this place.
Just beside Garbhavasa,within the compounds of Nityananda prabhu’s home, is a place called Malatala , in which stands a sacred Ashvattha Tree.There is a heart melting pastime which took place here five hundred years back, the waves of which resound till this day.By the arrangement of providence, a sannyasi once arrived at the village of Ekachakra, and on being invited, became the guest at the residence of Sri Hadai pandita. Sri Hadai Ojha and Padmavati devi served their guest to their heart’s content and the sannyasi spent the entire day happily discussing Krishna katha with them. The next day, before leaving, the sannyasi begged Sri Hadai pandita to grant him a favor. On being asked, the sannyasi revealed that he wished that little Nityananda would accompany him in his travels and assist him in serving the Lord. On hearing this Sri Hadai Pandita almost fainted in pain and distress. In those days, the Grihasthas (householders) considered it their duty to fulfill the desires of the mendicants, and Sri Hadai pandita was even ready to lay down his life to satisfy his guest. But parting with little Nitai, who was then just twelve years old, was something he and Padmavati devi could not bear. But Bharatavarsha (greater India) is that pious land, where Dasharatha, the father of Sri Ramachandra and Lakshmana, keeping a stone in his heart, had handed over his beloved sons to Visvamitra muni in order to fulfill the saint’s desire. Sri Hadai Pandita was that same Dasharatha, and Srimati Padmavati was the same Sumitra, who have now faced a similar dilemma ,here in this age of Kali.Displaying their greatness once again, ignoring their unbearable grief and prioritising duty above sentiments, they entrusted little Nityananda unto the sannyasi. As Lord Nitai prepared to depart, hues and cries filled the air of Ekachakra, that melted even the woods and stones.As soon as Lord Nitai left the village Sri Hadai pandita and Padmavati devi fell down upon the ground unconscious. This Ashvattha tree ,at Malatala, is a witness to their sacrifice and Sri Hadai Pandita had later kept his tulasi chanting beads hanging upon this tree, out of intense separation from his beloved son. In due course of time,Sri Isvara Puri, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His elder brother Visvarupa ,had all arrived and taken darsana here at Malatala.Lord Caitanya had offered the garlands that adorned His beautiful body ,unto this fortunate Ashvattha tree.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ prays to Sri Hadai pandita and Srimati Padmavati Devi to mercifully grant us a tinge of their love towards Lord Nityananda.
Walking a few metres from Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s home, we reached the sacred site where Lord Nityananda’s umbilical cord had been planted inside the ground.The place is renowned as Naripota (Nari translates to Umbilical cord in Bengali). There is a raised platform that has been constructed here ,to denote the significance of this holy place. Adjacent to Naripota is a sacred Bakul tree (Mimusops elengi) ,where little Nitai used to play along with His childhood friends.When Lord Nitai rested under this Bakul tree, its branches and leaves acted as Sesha Naga and protected Him from heat and rain.Lord Nitai and His friends used to enact various pastimes of Sri Rama and Krishna at this very place, and this place is also renowned as Bakultala (owing to the presence of this sacred Bakul Tree).This Bakul tree is actually non different from Sri Ananta Sesha Nag, who provides shelter to the Lord lying in the causal ocean.Bakultala is smeared with the dust from Sri Nityananda’s lotus feet and it is our supreme fortune that we could visit and pray at this sacred site. At Bakultala, one can also visualize a beautiful union between a banyan and a palm tree, who stand nearby. The union of these two tall trees, is said to signify the loving embrace between Krishna and Balarama.
Apart from Lord Nityananda , Sri Hadai Pandita and Srimati Padmavati Devi had another son, whom they had named Bankim Raya or Banka Raya. Sri Banka Raya was none other than Sri Gaurahari Himself who had manifested in this village of Ekachakra to enjoy the association of His elder brother, Lord Nitai. The two brothers, Krishna and Balaram, couldn’t live in separation from each other, and hence Sri Caitanya also eternally resides at Ekachakra as Sri Bankim Raya.Banka Raya was once engaged in pulling out the weeds from His father’s cultivated land. Fifty other workers assisted Him in accomplishing this task. The field was huge ,about ten hectares in size. So around midday, Sri Bankim Raya requested the workers to go back to their homes and return after having their meals. Within an hour, Sri Banka Raya had uprooted all the weeds Himself, something which even all the workers together would find difficult to accomplish.On returning to the field and seeing all the weeds removed, the workers were greatly surprised.They summoned the villagers to come and see Sri Bankim Raya’s extraordinary feat. Srimati Padmavati Devi and Hadai Pandita were also among those who had come to witness the heroics.But inspite of calling out for Sri Bankim Raya for hours altogether , He could no more be found. Sri Bankim Raya had disappeared. This pastime had taken place much before Lord Nityananda had left Ekachakra, accompanying the travelling mendicant. It is said that Sri Bankim Raya, understanding the impending departure of Sri Nityananda Prabhu from Ekachakra dham, manifested His own disappearance before Lord Nitai could enact His own. Here it is to be understood that Lord Nitai and Sri Bankim raya eternally reside at Sri Ekachakra Dham. When we refer to the ‘departure’ of Lord Nitai, we mean the departure as it had happened in the earthly manifested pastimes. Sri Nitai and Sri Bankim Raya eternally enjoy their brotherly pastimes in the sacred abode of Ekachakra.
Later, on receiving instructions from Bankim raya in His dream, Lord Nityananda recovered a log of wood that had arrived flowing through the Yamuna river, at the sacred Kadamba Khandi ghat. This Yamuna that flows through Ekachakra is non different to the Yamuna that eternally resides in Sri Vrindavana Dham. It is here at Kadamba Khandi Ghata, that little Nitai ,along with His friends, had enacted numerous plays depicting pastimes of Sri Krishna and Sri Rama, which provided immense pleasure to the residents of this village who relished it dearly.Here at Kadamba Khandi is installed today the beautiful deities of Nitai Gour,Krishna Balarama and Sadbhuja Gauranga. The deity of Lord Balarama is unable to keep up His original form and raises up His hands manifesting the ecstatic intoxicated mood of Lord Nityananda.Anyways coming back to our discussion, Lord Nitai carved a beautiful deity of Bankim Raya out of this wood, that He had obtained from the river, and installed it. This mesmerizing deity of Sri Bankim Raya is worshipped here at Ekachakra till this day and Sri Bankim Raya continues to mercifully accept our services.’The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers its spiritual journey successful having received the magnanimous darsana of the lord of our lives who could deliver the three worlds just by bestowing His captivating glance.Lord Nityananda had later merged into this same deity of Sri Bankim Raya in order to wrap up His earthly pastimes. Hence Lord Nitai eternally resides along with His brother ,Sri Banka Raya ,here at Ekachakra dham.Later, Sri Birchandra prabhu, Lord Nitai’s son, had installed the deities of Srimati Jahnava mata and Srimati Vasudha devi, on either side of Bankim Raya,where they serve their eternal consort, Sri Nityananda Rama.
We are not posting any pictures of Bankim Rai jiu in this article as the devotees of the temple have strictly forbidden any photography of the temple altar. We do not wish to transgress their rules and we accept it as the desire of the Lord as well.
A few metres walk from Bakultala will bring you to the enchanting pond of Hantugada, where Lord Nitai had summoned the sacred waters from all the holy places to save the local residents from journeying to the Ganges in order to take their bath. As we know, Ekachakra is also known as Radha Desha, or the land where Ganga doesn’t flow.Hence the residents had to travel long distances in order to avail their dip in the holy Ganges. Sri Nityananda prabhu feeling compassionate, thus created the sacred pond of hantugada ,so that the people do not have to travel so far. The place is known as Hantugada (In Bengali the word ‘Hantu’ translates to knee , and ‘Gada’ means to sit down) as Sri Nityananda prabhu used to perform His beloved Dadhi-cida festival of distributing chipped rice with yogurt prasada here and He would take the prasada while kneeling down. In Hantugada also rests the samadhi tomb of Lord Nitai’s elder brother, Sri Bankim Raya.
After escaping from Jatugriha (attempt by the kauravas to burn down the house of lac in which the pandavas were residing) the pandavas had come to this place to serve their exile in Dvapara.They stayed over here for a few days along with Vyasadeva who gave them his merciful darsana. There is a pastime which took place here at that time, in which Bhima, who possessed the strength of 10,000 elephants,on the orders of his mother Srimati Kunti devi, killed the demon bakasura, who had been killing and eating the local residents of this place. Sri Pandava tala has been thus named in memory of the pandavas, who had once manifested their pastimes over here.Pandava tala is hardly a five minutes walk from Hantugada.
The land of Ekachakra is decorated with various wish fulfilling trees that can easily grant one the entrance into the Lord’s eternal pastimes.We have narrated above,only a few of the innumerable exalted places that paint the vibrant landscape of Ekachakra. We are summarizing below some of the other places that one might take darsana while visiting this cintamani dham.
What to See:
- Sri Nityananda prabhu’s home (described above)
- Bakultala (described above)
- Naripota (described above)
- Hantugada (described above)
- Pandava Tala (described above)
- Kadamba Khandi (described above)
- Sri Yamuna (described above)
- Sri Bankim Raya Temple (described above) – We are not posting the images of the deities of Sri Banka Raya temple as it is strictly prohibited by the local authorities.
- Sri Jagannatha Temple – Just beside the temple of Bankim Raya, stands a beautiful temple where one can take darsana of Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Maharani. It is said that Lord Nitai had summoned Sri Jagannatha deva from Puri over here so as to save His father, Sri Hadai pandita, from travelling all the way to Puri dham and take darsana of Jagannatha over there.All the deities in this temple are ancient and self manifested.
- Iskcon temple – The Iskcon temple here has been recently renovated and has been given a very beautiful shape. Many people these days come to Sri Ekachakra dham to take darsana of this marvellous temple and worship the mesmerizing deities who are duly served here. The tourist attraction of Ekachakra dham has increased many folds after the construction of this elegant Iskcon temple.
- Padmavati kunda – This pond was dug and gifted to Sri Hadai Pandita, by Srimati Padmavati devi’s father ,Sri Mukut Narayana Ray. Sri Padmavati devi had first taken her bath in this pond , 21 days after it had been dug.
- Vishrama tala – There was a large banyan tree, under which Lord Nitai used to enact the pastimes of Vrindavana along with His childhood friends.This place is known as Vishrama tala.While He was leaving with the travelling mendicant, Sri Nityananda Prabhu had desired to wait for sometime underneath this tree, to see if His mother could at all bear the grief of His separation. When Srimati Padmavati devi came out crying, the sannyasi handed her a Muralidhara deity, in which she could always see the face of her dear Nitai. After Srimati Padmavati was calmed down, Lord Nitai continued on His journey with the sannyasi.
- Sri Caitanya Math – Just beside Bakultala, stands the beautiful Caitanya Math, where charming Gour Nitai deities are duly worshipped. One can pay their obeisances to these captivating deities and make their lives blissful.
How to Reach:
One can take a train from Sealdah/Howrah and get down at the Rampurhat station.From there one needs to take a cab to directly reach Sri Ekachakra Dham. The journey takes around 4 hours from kolkata.Ekachakra is a remote village and there are not many accommodation options available. When we from ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ travelled to Ekachakra, we stayed overnight at the Iskcon guesthouse.With their prior permission, we are providing the contact numbers of Iskcon Ekachakra devotees, whom you can directly contact in order to book your rooms in advance – +91 9851893984 / +91 8906564207