Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu manifests the holy dhāma. Before, many incarnations of God came to this world. They gave some benediction or benefit to the living entities after they performed some austerity, meditation, and pious activity. But Nityānanda Prabhu is especially kind to us. He said, “How will the jīvas do meditation and austerity? They have no desire and greed. They are not afraid of material existence. They always run around in māyā and thus have relation with māyā. They are intoxicated. They know nothing outside of māyā.” Śāstra says many things, but who will read śāstra? Sādhus say many things, giving inspiration, but when sādhus are not there, then māyā again takes over everything. Like when a pond is covered in algae, if you throw a stone, the foam moves to both sides and reveals the water, but after a few moments, the algae creeps back and covers up everything. Sādhus come and say, “Chant harināma, perform hari-kīrtana, take mahā-prasāda, this is good for you.” But after the sādhus go, I fall back inside māyā. Māyā comes and chokes me, and I say, “Yes, yes, I am your servant. I am not the servant of the sādhus.”
Nityānanda Prabhu said, “The situation cannot go on like this.” He requested Mahāprabhu, “The jīvas have eleven senses and a body made of five elements. How will these be developed spiritually, and active in bhakti? Give Me permission to make the senses and five elements in the body strong, able, and greedy for bhakti.”
When a baby is born, he wants to eat. He will eat earth worms, poison, or anything that comes near his hands. He has no knowledge. In this world, all living entities are ignorant. They cannot think, “What is good for me, what is bad for me? By doing this will I be punished and by doing that will I be liberated?” They have no knowledge. They approach teachers for knowledge but are taught only how to run on the path of mundane destruction. They learn only that which has to do with the mundane. They don’t learn anything about the soul and Supreme Soul. They receive no instruction about the soul and pure consciousness. Sometimes, God’s persons or incarnations come and move in the world, cleaning a little area, removing some contamination, and make the jīvas feel good. However, after some time, māyā again covers one over.
Many souls live in this body. They move in the air, water, ether, fire, and earth. Also, I have attraction, affection, and desire. I make relationship with many souls and they enter inside my body. Also, my friends and relatives squeeze me from all sides. I am alone, how can I fight with them all? I have no helper.
Then I must pray to the mahā-bhāgavata Guru-varga. They will save and protect me. Pray like Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī in Manaḥ–śikṣā (5):
gale baddhvā hanye ’ham iti bakabhid vartmapa-gaṇe
kuru tvaṁ phutkārān avati sa yathā tvāṁ mana itaḥ
Lust, anger, and so on are a group of dacoits who attack one all of a sudden on the road of material existence. They have bound me by the throat promiscuously with the painful, wicked ropes of dreadful deeds and are thus slaying me. O my mind, in this way, you must grievously call out to the powerful and merciful bhaktas who are the guardians of the path of bhakti leading to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the slayer of Bakāsura. Hearing your piteous call, they will definitely protect you from such a condition.
Oh! So many enemies come and choke me. Who will protect me? Call out loudly to the Guru-varga. But I have no desire. Why will I pray to them? Nityānanda Prabhu says, “Now the jīvas are in the darkest and deepest of wells. They cannot see any light, and have no desire for coming into the light. They have no understanding. What to do?”
There are three types of bliss: jaḍānanda (material happiness), brahmānanda, (the happiness of brahma realization) and nityānanda (eternal happiness). If one gives anything small to the living entities, they will run towards jaḍānanda, but this is not permanent and it is painful. Also, if they go for brahmānanda, they are bound to think, “Who is Brahma and Parabrahma and who am I? How can I achieve that?” Great austerity is necessary and one must renounce everything, then one may be able to meet with Brahma and Parabrahma. This is not so easy. Nityānanda Prabhu gives ciḍānanda, paramānanda, pūrṇānanda, and premānanda. How can this come? Nityānanda Prabhu requested Mahāprabhu and Mahāprabhu said, “Only You can distribute this.”
Then Nityānanda Prabhu went to all the living entities and started distributing saṅkīrtana–rasa. This is the easiest process for achieving salvation and eternal happiness. While giving it out, Nityānanda Prabhu prayed to Mahāprabhu, “O Prabhu, please give everyone taste for chanting this nāma.”
sei dvāre ācaṇḍāle kīrtana sañcāre
nāma-prema-mālā gāṅthi’ parāila saṁsāra
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 4.408
Thus He distributed kīrtana among all people, high-class and low-class. He wove a garland of nāma-prema, which He put on the neck of all the jīvas of the material world.
If the living entities have no love, they will not be able to change. They will chant any other names. Give them prema.”
“Yes,” Mahāprabhu said, “I will give. I have not given this in a very long time.”
anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba sandīpitaḥ
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ
Vidagdha-mādhava, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī
This is the beginning of this Prema-bhakti–candrika of Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. He is the non-different expansion of Nityānanda Prabhu. The Guru-varga are all the expansions of Nityānanda Prabhu.
Mahāprabhu told Nityānanda Prabhu, “You can give My prema to anyone, without any condition. I will not say, ‘Why did You give?’ Whether one is qualified or unqualified or has any container to receive this or not, I give You permission to give freely to all.”
Nityānanda Prabhu gave this prema to Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura took birth in Kheturi. He would bathe in the Padma River and discuss the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Caitanya-caritāmṛta, and other śāstras with Vaiṣṇavas. When he heard the glories of Nityānanda Prabhu, he offered himself at the lotus feet of Nityānanda Prabhu. Nityānanda Prabhu gave him prema-bhakti and sent him to Vṛndāvana, where he met with Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhu. If anyone has desire for bhakti, he will first meet with sādhus and sādhus will send him to senior authorities. Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī sent Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura to Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī. He learned and received everything from him, and then Lokanātha dāsa Gosvāmī gave him the order to distribute this to all.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura taught that if sādhakas desire bhakti, then every morning when they wake up, they must offer praṇāma to the lotus feet of Śrīla Gurudeva first.
oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā
cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ
I humbly pray to Śrīla Guru-pada-pādma that he kindly open my eyes, which have been covered by the darkness of ignorance, with the torchlight of divine knowledge.
I am blind, my eyes cannot see anything. I am in complete darkness. When the sun rises and light reflects in my eyes, then I can see inert objects of this mundane world. After, when there is moonlight, I can also see mundane things. But I cannot cross the seven layers of this world and see spirit. My eyes are blind due to ignorance. Some light reflects in the eyes and I think, “This is truthful.” Yet, this truth is not permanent, it is only temporary, a reflection of truth. Everything in this world is transient. This world is a prison. The living entities that have turned away from God come into the jail of Māyā-devī where she punishes them. There they suffer and weep, but do not remember God. If they remember and pray to God, then He will send His associates to help them.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says, “How can you cross the darkness of ignorance and see the light of truth?”
Guru-pāda-padma is the expansion of Nityānanda Prabhu. You must offer yourself to guru, then he will give you eyes of spiritual knowledge, jñāna–añjana, by which you can realize what is sat, cit, and ānanda. First, knowledge is given of what is māyā, what is Yogamāyā, what is devotion, and what is sense enjoyment.
In the early morning, first offer praṇāma to Gurudeva. Then Guru-pāda-padma will give you spiritual knowledge and vision. He bestows cakṣu–dāna, spiritual eyes. Why? Because we are blind. Śrī Guru gives spiritual eyes and then one can see what is right and what is wrong, what is darkness and ignorance, and what is light and truth.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura gave us this Prema-bhakti–candrikā, showing us the way to achieve prema-bhakti.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura teaches, “tasmai śrī gurave namaḥ, I offer obeisance to my Guru Mahārāja.” What is the meaning of praṇāma? I offer myself to his lotus feet. Not for one day, but at every moment. If I offer praṇāma one day, and then some other person comes and cheats and steals me, then I will forget Śrī Guru. I must wake in brāhma-muhūrta and offer praṇāma to Guru Mahārāja and remember him and perform maṅgalācaraṇa and maṅgala-āratī. Be present with him. But if my senses, desires, and other friends cheat me, then I will go far away from Śrī Guru and will not offer him praṇāma.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura teaches to make this a rule in your life. As long as you have life, as long as you are in this body, daily first offer praṇāma to Śrī Guru.
My eyes are now diseased and can only see mundane faces. Who will come close and become near and dear to you? This is your choice. These faces are not enough. The physical body is useless. It is only made of flesh, blood, bile, stool, and urine, and it produces bad smells. The living entities all have these physical bodies, but how can they attain spiritual bodies? Ajñāna and avidyā, ignorance has caught and arrested us. Therefore, we are blind and cannot see the spiritual truth.
By the mercy of Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and Nityānanda Prabhu, ignorance is cast away, one comes in the shelter of Śrī Guru, and experiences eternal happiness.
In Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī says:
śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya āra prabhu nityānanda
yāṅhāra prakāśe sarva jagat ānanda
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.87
The appearance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya and Nityānanda Prabhu has surcharged the universe with bliss.
sūrya-candra hare yaiche saba andhakāra
vastu prakāśiyā kare dharmera pracāra
ei mata dui bhāi jīvera ajñāna-
tamo-nāśa kari’ kaila tattva-vastu-dāna
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.88-8911
As the sun and moon dispel darkness when they appear, and reveal the nature of all things, these two brothers remove the darkness of ignorance covering the living entities and enlighten them with knowledge of the Absolute Truth.
ajñāna-tamera nāma kahiye ‘kaitava’
dharma-artha-kāma-mokṣa-vāñchā ādi saba
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.90
The darkness of ignorance is called kaitava, the cheating process, which starts from religiosity, economic development, sense gratification, and liberation.
tāra madhye mokṣa-vāñchā kaitava-pradhāna
yāhā haite kṛṣṇa-bhakti haya antardhāna
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.92
The foremost method of cheating is to aspire for liberation by merging into the Brahman effulgence, for this results in the disappearance of loving service to Kṛṣṇa.
kṛṣṇa-bhaktira bādhaka—yata śubhāśubha karma
seha eka jīvera ajñāna-tamo-dharma
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.94
All kinds of activities, both auspicious and inauspicious, that are obstacles to the performance of kṛṣṇa-bhakti are actions born out of the darkness of ignorance.
yāṅhāra prasāde ei tamo haya nāśa
tamo nāśa kari’ kare tattvera prakāśa
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 1.95
By the mercy of Śrī Caitanya and Śrī Nityānanda, this darkness of ignorance is destroyed and the truth becomes evident.
The darkness of ignorance refers to the many false ideas that cheat the living entities. When the living entities are in ignorance, they are very easily cheated. However, if they are strong and straight, and one-pointed to God, no one will be able to cheat, saying, “You are my good friend, my brother, uncle, nephew, niece, aunt. You are my lover; I have been waiting for you for so long.” If you are connected to God, no one will be able to cheat you. They will not come if you are with God’s associates. And if they come, they will also be changed. Sādhus will not accept people for their own enjoyment. If anyone comes to the Guru-varga, they at once offer him to the lotus feet of God and instill the desire to serve Him. They take everyone to Kṛṣṇa. They don’t say, “You are my property.”
Some cheaters say, “No, first you must go back to bhakti. If you only go to God’s home, you will make a disturbance there,” and then they engage everyone in their own service. Many living entities come to Śrīla Gurudeva and they only fight, wrestle, and do politics. This is not bhakti.
The desire for liberation is cheating, as well as the desire for religiosity, economic development, and sense-gratification.
You should offer praṇāmas to Śrī Guru only for kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Who is God?
īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam
Śrī Kṛṣṇa who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Original Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body, full of spiritual knowledge. He is the origin of everything. He has no other origin and He is the main cause of all causes.
Kṛṣṇa is all-in-all. He doesn’t cheat, reject, or throw out anyone. If anyone remembers His name—He is Kṛṣṇa, all-attractive—He brings them to Him, but this causes Him no disturbance. In this world, people and parents get headaches trying to take care of a few others. They have so much stress and tension. However, even if millions come to the Guru-varga, they have no tension. God has no problem.
Kṛṣṇa is sarvākarṣaka, all-attractive. Other incarnations of God cannot give everyone shelter. Kṛṣṇa is beginningless and the root cause of all causes. If one has knowledge of Kṛṣṇa, this is called saṁvit. It is permanent and will never be lost.
Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (excerpted from the book Sri Sri Prema-Bhakti Candrika”; available from: firstname.lastname@example.org )