Lord Nityananda is the eternal associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rarely is the name Nimai (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) taken without that of Nitai (Lord Nityananda). Mahaprabhu cannot be approached or understood without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, who is the cardinal guru of all the universes and serves as an intermediary between Mahaprabhu and His devotees. He is the Lord’s active principle in both creation and lila. He is the second body of the Lord, manifesting as Balaram to Sri Krishna, Lakshman to Sri Ram and Nityananda Prabhu to Caitanya Mahaprabhu. All other forms and expansions of the Lord emanate from this second body.
Nityananda Prabhu is thus the source of Sankarshan, all the Vishu’s, and Ananta Sesa. As Vishnu tattva He and Advaita Acharya are worshipped in the same category as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In the manifested earthly lila, Nityananda Prabhu is senior to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by more than a decade. Having the whitish complexion of like Lord Balarama. His garments resemble a cluster of blue lotus flowers and His effulgence is said to surpass the grandeur of a rising moon at sunset. He has a deep melodious voice, constant singing the glories of Sri Krishna and carries a red stick with benedictions for the devotees, but feared by the demoniac. He has the carefree mood of a wild avadhuta, so absorbed is He in the love of Godhead, and no one knows what He will do next.
Nityananda Prabhu was born in Ekachakra, a small village in present West Bengal, around the year 1474. His birth site is commemorated by a temple named Garbhasva and is visited by throngs of pilgrims today. His father, Hadai Ojha and mother Padmavati, were pious Brahmans originally from Mithila. Nityananda Prabhu was born on the auspicious thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Maga. As a child, Nitai (as Nityananda Prabhu was called), loved to enact the pastimes of Sri Krishna or Lord Rama. He did this so authoritatively and with such rapture, that the entire village would be immersed in the love of Godhead
Nitai’s favorite part was that of Lakshman, and He enacted it with so many apparently authentic scenes not described in the Ramayana, that people would wonder if He was making it up or actually relishing His own pastimes. The village of Ekachakra was completely absorbed in the love of little Nitai, where He spend the first 12 years of his earthly life. In the 13th year, a travelling sannyasi, said to be the famous LakshmipatiTirtha, enchanted by Nitai”s devotion and service, requested Nitai from his parents, as a travelling companion. His parents, bound by Vedic culture, could not refuse the request of a guest and reluctantly parted with Nitai. However, devastated by the separation with Nitai, thatHadaiPandit soon gave up his life.
Nitai traveled with LakshmipatiTirtha for about 20 years, during which He visited all the holy places in the country, reminiscent of the manner that Balarama traveled while the battle at Kurukshetra raged on. Nitai is said to be later on initiated by LakshmipatiTirtha. He also associated with another of LakshmipatiTirtha’s famous disciple, Madhavendra Puri, who although his godbrother, was revered by Nitai was as a spiritual master. Madhavendra Puri is famous for establishing the sweet truth of Madhurya-rasa which later become an integral part of GaudiyaVaishnavism. Among the other disciples of Madhavendra Puri is Advaita Acharya, and Isavara Puri (the spiritual master of Caitanya Mahaprabhu).
Nityananda Prabhu met Caitanya Mahaprabhu in 1506, when He was 32 years old and the Lord 20 years. It is said that when Nityananda Prabhu reached the land of Nadia, He hid in the house of Nandan Acharya, to heighten the ecstasy of meeting through separation. Caitanya Mahaprabhu aware of the arrival of His eternal associate dispatched Haridas Thakur and SrivasPandit to search out Nitai, but they failed. Finally unable to bear the separation any longer, Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself went directly to Nityananda Prabhu and the ecstasy of the meeting was so transcendental that every one witnessing it were awed by the sublime experience. A temple called Sri Gaura-Nityananda commemorates this meeting place in Nadia.