Lord Nityananda (Nitai) had appeared at Ekachakra Dham (in Birbhum, Bengal), to assist Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, manifest His most magnanimous pastimes. In the battleground of Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna broke His pledge of not using any weapons, by pulling up a wheel and charging towards Bhishma Deva, who was then fighting valiantly against Arjuna. Bhishma was a great devotee of the Supreme Lord and seeing the Lord charge at him, he at once threw away his weapons and surrendered himself. He began singing Krishna’s glories, hearing which the Lord calmed down and threw away the wheel that He had picked up. This wheel is said to have flown all the way from Kurukshetra to land here in this small village of Bengal which came to be subsequently known as Ekachakra. ’Eka’ means one and ‘Chakra’ translates to wheel in Bengali.
Sri Nityananda Prabhu appeared in the month of Magha (January- February), around the year 1474 AD. in this village of Ekachakra. Sri Hadai Ojha and Srimati Padmavati Devi were His proud parents. Sri Hadai Pandita was the incarnation of the combined potencies of Vasudeva (father of Balarama) and Sri Dasaratha (father of Lakshman) while Srimati Padmavati was the incarnation of the potencies of Rohini (mother Of Balarama) and Sumitra (mother of Lakshman). The birthplace of Lord Nitai (Garbhavasa), here in Ekachakra, has been recently renovated and restored to its proper health. We consider ourselves greatly blessed to have been able to obtain darsana and smear ourselves with its sacred dust.
Sri Nityananda Prabhu is none other than Lord Balarama, the first expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who had appeared 500 years ago in the sacred land of Birbhum (in West Bengal). Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami mentions in Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita that Lord Krishna, who had appeared as lord Gauranga, and Lord Balarama who had appeared as Lord Nityananda are like the same personality, differing only in their forms.
eka-i swarupa donhe, bhinna matra kaya
adya kaya vyuha, krishna-lilara sahaya
Nityananda Prabhu is the principal assistant of Lord Gauranga. Being the first expansion of the Supreme, Nityananda Prabhu is the source of all the other incarnations of the Supreme Lord – be it Sesh Naga, Maha Vishnu, Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, Ksirodakasayi Vishnu, etc. It has been mentioned across scriptures that Sri Chaitanya is the most magnanimous incarnation of the supreme. However, it has also been concluded that Lord Nityananda is even more merciful than Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. It is for this reason that Srila Vrindavana das Thakura mentions in one of his bhajans that Lord Nityananda is the limit of causeless mercy (dayara avadhi).
aare bhai Nitai amara dayara avadhi
jivera karuna kari deshe deshe phiri phiri
prema-dhana yache nirabadhi
Traveling from one place to the other, Lord Nityananda has showered the supreme treasure of pure love of God (Prema) to one and all without the slightest consideration of one’s background or qualifications. Such mercy is rarely achieved by even the most celebrated of the demigods.
Nityananda Propagates the glories and pastimes of Krishna :
From the very childhood, Lord Nitai exhibited His sober and intelligent nature. His beauty surpassed that of millions of cupids. His appearance brought auspiciousness and good fortune to His hometown, which became free from poverty and sins. When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in Nadiya, Lord Nityananda began loudly roaring in ecstasy. His roars penetrated the coverings of the universe. But no one could understand the deep reasons underlying His actions.
Along with His friends, little Nitai enacted beautiful dramas depicting the pastimes of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. They enacted the marriage pastimes of Devaki and Vasudeva, the appearance of Lord Krishna in Kamsa’s prison, pastimes of Krishna with Putana, Dhenukasura, Bakasura. They enacted the pastimes of Krishna lifting the Govardhan hill, Krishna’s pastimes with Gopis and the wives of the sacrificial brahmanas, the pastimes of Krishna killing Kamsa, etc. Sometimes, unseen by anyone, He would enter a house where milk products were kept and steal butter with His friends, just like Lord Balarama did in Vrindavana. Lord Nitai sometimes played the role of Vamana deva and robbed Bali Maharaja of all His wealth in the guise of begging charity. Sometimes depicting the pastimes of Ramachandra, Nitai and His friends would construct a bridge to reach the kingdom of Ravana in Lanka. The children used to bring small pieces of wood and throw them into the water, to show how the army of monkeys had actually constructed the bridge (Rama Setu) over the ocean in Treta yuga.
Once playing the role of Lakshman, Nitai enacted the fight with Indrajit (Ravana’s powerful son). One of His friends, who played the role of Indrajit, struck Him with a lotus flower, which represented the powerful Shaktishel weapon that had rendered Lakshman unconscious in the actual war. Being absorbed in the mood of Lakshman, Nityananda Prabhu fell upon the ground, on being struck, and could not be brought back to consciousness. Fearing the worst, the children notified the villagers about what had happened. The villagers, including Padmavati devi and Hadai Pandita, rushed to the spot. When they found that Nityananda Prabhu did not have any symptoms of life in His body, they broke into tears.
Then one of His friends, who enacted the role of Hanuman, remembered what Nitai had previously instructed. Nityananda Prabhu had informed before the drama had begun, that He would regain His consciousness only after smelling the required medicinal herbs, that were to be brought by Hanuman. This is exactly what had happened with Lakshman during His fight with Indrajit. So accordingly, the child playing the role of Hanuman rushed to gather the herbs from a small hillock, which represented the Gandhamadana mountains. On the way, two of his other friends, playing the roles of a rakshasa and a crocodile, tried to stop Hanuman and devour him. Defeating them and also an army of demigods who obstructed his way, Hanuman could finally reach the mountain. Not being able to find the required medicinal herb, He uprooted the entire Gandhamadana mountain and brought it back to Lanka, where Lakshman (here Lord Nitai) lay unconscious.
Another child, playing the role of a Vaidya (physician), then collected the required herbs from a mound of mud that had been brought, and held it near Nitai’s nostrils. As soon as He breathed the medicine, Nityananda regained His lost consciousness. Sri Hadai Pandita, Padmavati devi as if regained their lives and wept tears of joy. Understanding the deep mood of Lord Nityananda and how absorbed He was in playing the role of Lakshman, the onlookers remained stunned. When Hadai Pandita enquired as to who had taught these pastimes to Him, Nityananda replied that all of these were His eternal pastimes. Under the influence of Yogamaya, however, no one could decipher the true intent of His words.
Thus, from His very childhood, Lord Nityananda propagated the glories of Lord Hari. He was loved by one and all. All these little boys of Ekachakra hankered to associate and spend time with Nityananda Prabhu. In this way, Lord Nitai spent the first twelve years of His life blissfully at Sri Ekachakra dham. There is a sacred Bakul tree, that exists even today at Ekachakra, under which Lord Nitai and His friends used to enact the various pastimes of the Supreme Lord. The place has become renowned as Bakultala (owing to the presence of this sacred Bakul Tree). When Lord Nitai rested under this Bakul tree, its branches and leaves acted as Sesha Naga and protected Him from heat and rain. Bakultala is smeared with the dust of 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. The union of these two tall trees is said to signify the loving embrace between Krishna and Balarama.
Lord Nityananda (Nitai) leaves Ekachakra :
One evening, shortly after Lord Chaitanya had manifested His appearance pastimes, an effulgent sannyasi approached the house of Hadai Pandita. Hadai Pandita welcomed his guest as per proper etiquette and fed him sumptuously. Lord Nityananda and His father spent the entire night discussing Krishna Katha (pastimes) with the sannyasi. The night passed in a twinkling for Hadai Pandita. In the morning, as the sannyasi was preparing to leave, he said that he would like to have something from Hadai Pandita. Hadai Pandita assured the sannyasi that he would do all within his power to satisfy him. The sannyasi explained that he was performing pilgrimage to all the holy tirthas, and he needed a good Brahmacari to assist him. Hence he requested to have Nityananda Prabhu by his side in his travels. Hadai Pandita could not believe what he had just heard. His heart was broken. He could not even think of getting separated from his beloved son. But on the other hand, he thought that it would be highly improper to turn down the request of a sannyasi (renunciant). He contemplated on how previously Dasaratha maharaja, had to part with his son, Lord Rama, on Viswamitra muni’s request. The Puranas say that although King Dasaratha was unable to live without Lord Rama, he still offered Him to the sage. This is a glimpse of the great culture that existed in India in the earlier days. A householder would go to the extent of even sacrificing his own son, to satisfy the desires of a renunciant.
Considering this, Hadai Pandita went inside his house and explained the situation to his wife. Hearing of her husband’s dilemma, Padmavati devi, though completely heartbroken, asked her husband to do as he deemed just. Hadai Pandita then approached the sannyasi and handed Lord Nityananda, his very life, over to him.
As soon as Lord Nityananda left the house, Hadai Pandita fell down senseless. Even a block of wood or stone would melt listening to their cries of lamentation. Who can describe the exalted qualities of Hadai Pandita and Padmavati devi. Even Ananta sesha with thousands of hoods would find it difficult to recount all of their glories. In this way Nityananda Prabhu left Ekachakra and after visiting various places of pilgrimage, all over India, united with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Mayapur dham.