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Worship of Lords Nityananda
Gauranga as God
By His Holiness Bhaktiratna
Sadhu Swami Gaurangapada
There has been lot of discussion on whether the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu should be worshiped as the Supreme Lord and whether He wears a peacock feather on His head. It is personally very painful for us to hear that the Supreme Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu is denied something which is His own energy and paraphernalia.
Those devotees who are immersed in the nectar of Lord Gauranga’s Bhagavatta (or Supreme Godship) as repeatedly described in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata by Paramhansa Vyasa Kusumapida Avatara Shrila Vrindavana Dasa Thakura will have no doubts in this regard that Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu directly accepted and proclaimed Himself as the Supreme Lord Krishna Himself so many times in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata and directly accepted the worship which was meant for Lord Krishna because They both are the same Personality.
The devotees who have carefully read Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata will know that the most intimate associate of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu Shrila Murari Gupta Thakura personally witnessed in a dream the transcendental form of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu bedecked with a peacock feather in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata Madhya Khanda 20.16:
nityananda murti dekhe yena haladhara;
shire *paakhaa* dhari paache jaaya vishvambhara.
“Shrila Murari Gupta saw in the dream that Lord Nityananda was walking in the front just like Lord Haladhara Balarama and Lord Vishvambhara Gauranga was following behind with a peacock feather (paakhaa) adorned on His head.”
This transcendental dream was not ordinary because it is the dream of a Mahabhagavata like Shrila Murari Gupta and secondly this dream was personally orchestrated by Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu Himself who wanted to teach Shrila Murari Gupta how to worship Lord Nityananda before worshiping Himself.
One may argue that it is a dream not a reality so it is less important. Or that Lord Gauranga accepted the peacock feather just for this particular instance to show to Shrila Murari Gupta that He is Lord Krishna and Lord Nityananda is Lord Balarama Himself. But such an argument is unjustified.
May we ask that in which scripture has it been said that Lord Gauranga accepting the peacock feather only in this pastime and not otherwise? If He has accepted once, why can’t He accept the peacock feather on His head again and again? He is the supremely independent (svaraata) Lord. How can the small infinitesimal souls dare to restrict His desires? The form which He displayed to Shrila Murari Gupta in the dream is to be eternally worshiped because the divine form of Lord Gauranga with a peacock feather is factually eternal.
If theoretically we accept that offering Him a peacock feather is disturbing His mood as a devotee then even offering Tulasi leaves to His lotus feet is a disturbance to His mood. Why do one and avoid the other? Someone can even extrapolate further and state that even chanting His Holy Names in form of the Gaura Gopala Mantra or the Pancha Tattva Mantra or worshiping His Deity form or reading or glorifying His pastimes where He exhibits Himself as God is a disturbance to Him because He is in the mood of His own devotee.
If this speculation was true then even the most splendid prayers offered to Lord Gauranga by the demigods, Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Shrila Jagai and Madhai, Shrila Haridasa Thakura, Shrila Murari Gupta, Shrila Mukunda etc. in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata which repeatedly describe Him as the Supreme Master and Origin of all creation would have disturbed the mood of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Why did Shrila Shukadeva Goswami in Prema Vivarta keep on chanting the Holy Name of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu inspite of the Lord forbidding him to do so externally?
Did Shrila Shukadeva Goswami displease Lord Gauranga by doing this? Are all the above great Mahabhagavatas doing nothing but simply disturbing the mood of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu (as a devotee) by their prayers? Never, infact their prayers are the most anukula or favourable to the Lord’s mood and very pleasing to Him and are meant for our ultimate benefit.
Thus if the above misconception is not checked it will mark the beginning of such a dangerous trend with may end up in the greatest misfortune for this world if the world ends up accepting Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga only as devotees. This has already happened and is happening amongst historial scholars and millions of common people in Bengal and Orissa (what to speak of worldwide) which are the very places where Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga had directly performed Their pastimes. Such a misconception has the potential to entirely choke up the advent of the Golden Age which will be specifically be brought about by the widespread preaching and acceptance of the Holy Names and Glories of Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga as the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu does display broadly two kinds of moods: His mood as God or Krishna Himself and His mood as His own devotee to relish His own love. But both His moods are eternally present in Him. No one can dare to say that one mood is more important than the other.
In His eternal mood of God Himself, He is offered peacock feathers, tulasi leaves and even grain bhoga on Ekadashi and in the mood of a devotee one may not offer these items. But as per the Acharyas for the conditioned souls it is more beneficial to worship Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga as God Themselves first and then later one may properly understand and appreciate Their acceptance of the role of Their own devotees which is very confidential secret.
It is very clearly proved that Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga can be offered grain bhoga on Ekadashi from the pastime of accepting the offering of Shrila Jagadish and Shri Hiranya in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata Adi Khanda 6.21-23:
Lord Gauranga said,“Jagadish and Hiranya are both great devotees,
and I desire something from them. Today is Ekadashi, and they are both fasting.
But they have prepared varieties of foodstuffs for Lord Vishnu. If I could eat
their offering, I will be cured and able to walk.”
Gaudiya Bhashya Commentary by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada:
“The two brahmanas—Jagadish Pandita and Hiranya Pandita—lived in Godrumadvipa. Their house was some distance from the Lord’s house. On the day of Ekadashi they arranged a large offering for the Lord. The injunction for fasting on Ekadashi is meant only for the living entities, but Lord Vishnu is beyond the jurisdiction of the rules and regulations that He has established. Since He is not bound to observe fast on Ekadashi, and since He alone is the enjoyer of all sacrificial offerings, all types of foodstuffs should be offered to Him on Ekadashi. On the day of Ekadashi the Vaishnavas give up all kinds of enjoyment and do not accept the injunction for honoring prasada as on other days, but Lord Shri Hari, the protector of the devotees, accepts the foodstuffs offered by His devotees on His day, Hari-vasara. Shri Gaura-Narayana also revealed His desire to eat those foodstuffs.” (Translated and published by Vrajaraja Press)
Thus Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada clearly states that Lord Gauranga-Narayana is independent to accept grain offerings on Ekadashi and He can be offered all kinds of grain offerings on Ekadashi with love and devotion by His devotees.
Regarding offering grains to Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga on Ekadashi, Shrila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada said that one may not offer Them grains if one wants to worship Them as devotees. He never said one should not or one cannot do that.
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada recommended the reading of Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata first which strongly establishes Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga as the Supreme Lords Themselves and the object of our worship not just simply devotees.
And then when one becomes fixed in the worship of Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda Gauranga as God by the reading of Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata and chanting Their Holy Names, then one should go on to read Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita where there are so many pastimes describing Their super-excellent mood of acting as Their own devotees. That is why Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada stated that Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita is a supplement to Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata in his Gaudiya Bhashya introduction to Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata.
Lord Gauranga directly accepted the bhoga three times which the traveling brahmana had cooked for his Lord Gopala Krishna and He personally and directly accepted the worship of His devotees by sitting on altar of Lord Krishna during the Maha Prakash pastime as described in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata. There are infinite other pastimes where Lord Gauranga displayed His actual mood of being the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Krishna Himself which we will not go into now due to fear of a lack of brevity.
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada states in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata Madhya Khanda 3.8-17 purport:
"Sometimes He would proudly manifest His opulence, smile, and exclaim, 'I am He.' If Lord Gauranga reveals Himself as God to people, there is no deviation from the truth. But if demoniac offenders try to ruin themselves by accepting the statement, 'Everyone is God,' then they will never be benefited."
Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata Adi 6.58:
aro bole,- “kare dhyana kara, ei dekha
kali-yuge ‘narayana’ muni paratekha”
Even in His childhood Lord Gauranga clearly described His own Tattva to a brahmana who was meditating in the water of theGanges, The Lord said to him "Who are you meditating on? In Kali-yuga I am directly Lord Narayana and you should meditate and worship Me directly."
Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata Madhya 22.15-17:
nija murti shila saba kari nija kole;
apana prakase gauracandra kutuhale.
Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu sat on the throne of Lord Vishnu because He is actually the origin of all Vishnus. He took all His own salagrama-sila forms on His lap and very joyfully revealed Himself as follows.
muni kali-yuge krishna muni narayana;
muni rama rupe kailun sagara bandhana.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Gauranga declared: "In Kali-Yuga, I am Krishna and I am Narayana. In the form of Rama, I built a bridge to cross over the ocean."
sutiya achilun ksira sagara bhitare
mora nidra bhangileka nadara hunkare
"I was sleeping in the milk ocean as Kshirodakashayi Vishnu in My Yoga Nidra, but My sleep was broken by the loud cries of Shrila Advaita Acharya."
Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata, Madhya 23.286-287:
akapate krsne kahaye apane
muni deba narayane
kamsasura mari' muni se kamsari
boli choliya baman
"Assuming His actual mood, Lord Gauranga personally declared, "I am Lord Narayana. As Lord Krishna when I killed the demon Kamsa, I became known as Kamsari. It is Me who became Vamana and cheated Bali."
setu-bandha kori rabana samhari
muni se raghaba-ray
koriya hunkar tattwa apanar
kohi' cari-dige ca'y
Lord Gauranga continued: "I built the bridge over the ocean. I killed Ravana. I am Ramacandra, king of the Raghavas." Loudly declaring the truth about Himself, Lord Gauranga looked in the four directions.
"samharimu saba" bali' karaye hunkara
"muni sei, muni sei" bale bare-bara
Lord Gauranga roared loudly, saying, "I will personally kill all the atheists and demons who haress or ridicule my devotees." He repeatedly exclaimed, "I am He, I am He, the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata Adi 6.61-62:
Another brahmana said: "I kept the ingredients for worshiping Visnu-flowers, durva grass, bhoga, sandalwood pulp, and the Lord's asana-on the bank of the Ganges. When I went to take bath your son Gauranga sat on the Lord's asana, ate the bhoga, smeared Himself with the sandalwood pulp, decorated Himself with the flowers, and ran off. Then He said, 'Why are you unhappy? He for whom you arranged those ingredients has Himself enjoyed them because I am Him.'"
Some strangely claim that since Lord Gauranga is Lord Krishna in the mood of Shrimati Radharani so one should worship Him only as the topmost Vaishnava or Guru but not God Himself. But if this was the case Lord Gauranga would not have spoken the above verses establishing His own position, name and worship in Kali Yuga. If He did not want the devotees to worship Him as God He would never have shown His 6-handed form to Lord Nityananda and Shrila Sarvabhauma or His 8-handed form to the brahmana or His Universal or 4-handed from to Lord Advaita Acharya or His Yugala form of Radha-Krishna to Shrila Ramananda Raya.
Since sometimes He played the role of a devotee and sometimes as the Lord, He externally may have shown His apparent displeasure about His own worship when He was in the mood of the devotee. But so many times He directly played His original role of God also. All the moods of the Lord are eternal and cannot be rejected but have to be worshiped.
In both these cases all His associates have worshiped Him as the Supreme Lord and offered exquisite prayers to Him directly as found all over Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata. Even when Lord Gauranga was externally in the mood of His own devotee, His associates have directly worshiped Him as God leaving aside the consideration whether it disturbs His mood or not because it never actually disturbs His mood even though He may apparently show some external displeasure.
An example of this is the pastime where Lord Advaita Acharya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu were loudly chanting and proclaiming Lord Gauranga’s Holy Names inspite of the apparent external displeasure of Lord Gauranga and the subsequent conversation of Shrila Shrivasa Thakura and Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu where the Lord had to ultimately accept the glories of chanting and preaching of His own Holy Names.
Those who say that one mood and pastimes of the Lord in that mood (for eg. the mood of His own devotee) are more important than another mood and pastimes of the Lord in that mood (for eg. His original mood of God Himself) are differentiating between the eternal and transcendental pastimes of the Lord and accepting only the mood which is convenient to them and thus not accepting the Lord fully.
There is a verse in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata which states very clearly that Lord Gauranga in His pastimes sometimes accepts role of God Himself and sometimes the role of the topmost devotee. When He is the mood of God, He instructs everyone to chant His own Name and when He is in the mood of His own devotee, He instructs everyone to chant His Name of Krishna. So both of His orders should be followed. None of His orders can be minimized or rejected.
In the manifest pastimes in this material world since He comes to teach His own bhakti He many times assumed the role of a devotee. In the unmanifest and eternal pastimes (nitya lila) in the spiritual world, He is constantly worshiped by all the residents of Navadvipa and Vrindavana as the Supreme Personality of Godhead as described in Shri Chaitanya Mangala by Shrila Lochana Dasa Thakura. Shrila Narada Muni personally saw the Mahabhishekha (Bathing Ceremony) of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu being conducted in Goloka by Shrimati Radharani and all the Gopies of Vrindavana on one side and Shrimati Rukmini and all the queens of Dvaraka on the other side.
If Lord Gauranga should not be worshiped as God even though He is God Himself then why do Lord Nityananda Prabhu, Lord Advaita Acharya and all His great associates including Shiva, Brahma, demigods etc. worship Him repeatedly with sixteen ingredients (shodasha seva) and boldly and emphatically declare to the world in all the scriptures to accept and worship Lord Gauranga as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and chant His Name constantly?
Why did all the acharyas establish the Deities of Their Lordships Shri Shri Nityananda-Gauranga and instruct all their followers to worship and serve Them in the same way as Their Lordships Shri Shri Radha Krishna and Krishna-Balarama? This is because They are totally non-different. They are the same personalities and should be worshiped as God because They are God.
To conclude this essay, we would like to state that if Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu wanted to hide Himself as God, He would have never manifested the topmost sapta prahariya (21 hours) Maha-Prakasha Lila where He accepted all worship and offerings of His intimate devotees as described in Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata Madhya Chp 9:
“On another day, the Lord came to Shrivasa Thakura's house, accompanied by Nityananda Prabhu. After all the devotees had assembled, the Lord began looking around Him in the mood of a great king surveying His entourage. Understanding His mood, the devotees began a rousing kirtana.
On other days, the Lord would dance in ecstasy, in the mood of a devotee. Then, changing His mood, He would reveal Himself as the Omnipotent Supreme Lord. But again, that mood would change, and He would revert back to the mood of being a devotee. One day, when the Lord stood up to dance as usual, instead of doing so, He went and sat on Lord Visnu's throne. Previously, He had sat upon the throne while immersed in devotional ecstasy, but this day was different, for He sat upon the altar purposely. Lord Gauranga sat continuously for twenty-one hours, so that the pastime became known as “saat-prahariya-bhava”, “the ecstasy of twenty-one hours”.
The devotees stood before the Lord with folded hands, and they felt as if they were residing in the spiritual world. Vishvambhara sat like the Lord of Vaikuntha, and indeed, no one could feel the influence of the illusory energy. Lord Gauranga instructed, "Sing the bathing song" and so the devotees responded. As the devotees sang, the Lord moved His head side to side rhythmically while showering His servants with merciful glances.
To perform the abhisheka, the devotees brought water from the Ganga. First of all, they strained the water and then they added musk, sandalwood paste, camphor and saffron. Nityananda Prabhu was the first to pour water over the Lord's head, while chanting, "jaya, jaya".
Other leading devotees, such as Advaita Acharya and Shrivasa Pandita then bathed the Lord while chanting the "Purusha-sukta" prayers. The devotees of Lord Gauranga are very well-versed in shastra and the chanting of mantras. The Lord remained seated while the devotees came, one by one, and bathed Him. Usually, on such occasions, 108 water pots were utilized but on this day, the number far exceeded this. At this time, the demigods came there, but they were disguised so as not to be recognized.
Shrivasa's servants and maidservants were engaged in bringing water. A maidservant named Dukhi (meaning, "one who is sad") was one of the water carriers. Seeing her thus engaged, the Lord told her, "Bring more, bring more". Indeed, He was so impressed with her attitude of devotional service that He changed her name to Sukhi (meaning, "one who is happy"), thus indicating that He had taken away all of her material distress.
After bathing the Lord, the devotees dried His body, dressed Him in new clothes and smeared His body with sandalwood paste. The area was then cleaned and worship with sixteen customary items was arranged. Sandalwood paste mixed with tulasi manjaris was offered to the lotus feet of the Lord while the Gopala mantra of ten syllables was chanted.
Afterwards, all of the devotees fell down like sticks at the Lord's lotus feet to offer obeisances. Feeling great love for the Lord, tears falling from their eyes, the devotees prayed, "All glories to the Lord of the universe. Kindly direct Your merciful glance toward the people of this world, who are oppressed by the three-fold miseries. You have appeared within this world to inaugurate the congregational chanting of Your own Holy Names."
"All glories to Lord Gauranga, the redeemer of the most fallen souls and the supreme shelter of the meek and poor. All glories to Lord Gauranga, who does not see the faults of the living entities, although He is the husband of the goddess of fortune." The devotees were drowning in an ocean of ecstasy, for the Lord had mercifully lifted the veil of maya from within their hearts and offered to them His lotus feet, to be worshiped.
Some devotees brought perfumed oil and smeared it over the Lord's lotus feet and others worshiped Him with offerings of tender tulasi leaves. Some devotees brought precious gems and articles of silver and gold and offered them while falling down at the Lord's lotus feet. Indeed, the number of gifts was countless. There were variously colored silk clothes and varieties of metal containers.
Due to their having served a pure devotee, all of Shrivasa's household servants now had the opportunity to directly serve the Lord's lotus feet. They offered many articles of worship without fear or hesitation because the Lord had put aside His mood of awe and reverence. Each one worshiped the Lord according to his heart's inclination, placing unhusked rice, tulasi, darba grass, musk, saffron, camphor, sandalwood, and varieties of fruit and flowers at His lotus feet.
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu then told the devotees, holding out His hand, "Bring Me something-I want to eat." Upon hearing this, the devotees hurriedly went and brought a variety of food-bananas, mung dal, dahi, sweetened condensed milk, butter, and milk. They placed their offerings in the Lord's hands, and He ate everything. Some of the devotees ran to the market and returned with the choicest food. They offered the Lord coconuts, varieties of sweets, blackberries, melons and sugar cane. Some people brought water from the Ganga. Indeed, hundreds of devotees brought hundreds of liters of Ganga water and the Lord, who is the greatest mystic, drank it all.
Hundreds of pots of dahi, sweetened condensed milk, and hundreds of bunches of bananas, mountains of sweets-all were immediately consumed as the astonished devotees looked on with gaping mouths.”