“Sri Nityananda Prabhu, the Lord of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, appeared in the village of Ekacakra. His father was a brahmana named Hadai Pandita and his mother was Srimati Padmavati devi. From His early childhood Sri Nityananda Prabhu had a serene disposition and was highly intelligent. He was a reservoir of excellences. His charming beauty overshadowed the attractiveness of millions upon millions of Cupids. From the time of Nityananda’s birth, everything became auspicious in the district of Radha. Famine, poverty and all kinds of disturbances were totally dispelled. On the day of Lord Chaitanya’s appearance in Nabadwip, Sri Nityananda, Who was still in Radha, roared with jubilation. The sound of that roar filled the universe and robbed everyone of his senses. Some people speculated, “It must be a thunder-clap.” Others thought it was the sound of some impending disaster. Still others said, “We know the reason for this sound. Lord Nityananda, the Lord of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas, is roaring in ecstasy.“Caitanya Bhagavata, Adi Lila, Chapter 9
Nityananda Trayodasi is a celebration of the appearance day of Lord Nityananda. Nityananda Prabhu is the most intimate associate of Lord Caitanya. Nitai-Gaura are worshipped together much like Krsna and Balarama. Nityananda Trayodasi usually occurs in February. The devotees fast until noon, being immersed in the pastimes of Nityananda. After performing abhiseka for the Gaura Nitai Deities, a lively kirtan and sumptuous feast are offered in Nityananda’s honour, for the Lord’s pleasure.
Throughout the Caitanya-caritamrta, we read of Nityananda’s ecstatic sankirtan pastimes throughout Bengal and Orissa, where he sometimes travelled alone as an avadhuta preacher, and sometimes as the companion of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His travelling party. Together, Lord Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu enjoyed many ecstatic prasadam pastimes, and Nityananda was renowned for enthusiastically consuming immense quantities of Krsna prasadam.
In honour of the transcendental personality, Sri Nityananda, we offer an eclectic feast that attempts to reflect Nityananda’s fiery preaching mood, His sometimes unexpected and astonishing activities, and his zeal for harinam sankirtana.
Nityananda Prabhu appeared in the village of Ekachakra, in West Bengal, India, around 1474. In the Caitanya Caritamrita and other scriptures, He is declared to be the avatar of Lord Balarama, the direct expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.
As a child, He was called Nitai and had a close circle of friends. Together they used to imitate the pastimes of Krishna and His associates. The adults of Ekachakra were fascinated by this unique little boy and loved Him as their own. Seeing His total absorption in avatars of Krishna, they suspected that He might be some sort of incarnation Himself. Day after day he would enact a different pastime, and did it so skillfully that His neighbours wondered, “How is it that He is so talented? How does He know the stories so well? No one has explained all these details to Him.” On one occasion, one of the boys dressed as Akrura and took Krishna and Balarama away from Vrindavana on the order of Kamsa. Nitai cried in grief, feeling the separation of the cowherd girls from Krishna. Tears of love flowed from His eyes. His acting was so authentic that it made all who watched question whether He was merely acting or in some way experiencing the part He played. This was true whether He was playing Krishna, Balarama, or even Vamana and other Incarnations of the Lord. When questioned, Nitai would respond: “These are My own divine pastimes, and I am allowing you to see them.“
Among His most convincing roles was that of Lakshmana, brother of Rama, which intimated His divine identity as Balarama. For His first twelve years, Nityananda Prabhu stayed in Ekachakra and shared loving pastimes with His neighbours.