Apr 26, 2011 CANADA (SUN) A brief history of Ekchakra dhama and Nityananda Janmasthan, originally written in Bengali by HG Paratatwa Prakashan and presented in several parts.
Nityananda's father, Mukunda Bandyopadhyay was popularly known as Harai Pandit or Harai Ojha. His ancestral house was just beside the Sasthitala. The chronology of His family goes like this. Originally from Kanouj, and of Shandilya Gotra (1) Kshitish (2) Bhattanarayana Chaturvedi (3) Adibaraha (4) Bainateya (5) Subuddhi (6) Bibudhesh (7) Guha (8) Gangadhar (9) Suhas (10) Shakuni (Gaighar Bandyo) (11) Maheswar Bandyopadhyay (Kulin) (12) Mahadev (13) Tiku (14) Nengul (15) Mihir (16) Bhaskar (17) Pushkar (18) Shristidhar (19) Maladhar (20) Brishaketu (21) Chandraketu (22) Nakari (popularly known as Murari or Sundaramalla).
Harai Pandit was the son of Murari and Nitaichand was Harai's first child. The details of His life are found especially in Chaitanya Bhagavata of Brindaban Das Thakur. Harai Pandit had six other sons. Nityananda Prabhu is the incarnation of God, the roots of the tree - that is religion of devotion, a theory revered by the devotees. Poet Karnapura, the great devotee of Chaitanya, has called Nityananda a magnetic attraction'. The mystical identity of the soul cannot be explained but can be felt by the blessed ones. During the long span of more than five hundred years a number of wise men, orators, historians, mythologists and the Vaishnava Pandits illustrated His physical beauty, virtues, divine activities and total human welfare consciousness.
Biswaruptala or Malatala or Sanyasitala is a place near Harai Pandit's house. Biswarup— (the elder brother of Sri Chaitanya became a sannyasi and was renamed Sankararanya Puri,) while on his travels took a temporary shelter under the grand old peepul tree. To commemorate this incident the place is called Biswaruptala. Most parts of the tree have decayed. A pedestal has been built around the tree.
Again, it is believed that immediately after His conversion (sannyasa) Sri Chaitanya visited the area of Radh along with Sri Nityananda. He was then in a transcendental stage of consciousness, quite oblivious of the mundane matter of the world. He came here with the earnest longing to meet Krishna. He removed His own garland and deposited it at the base of the tree. Most probably with utmost love and affection He gifted it to the tree, which would show Him the path to meet Lord Krishna. That is why Biswaruptala is also called Malatala.
The explanation of the name Sanyasitala is like this. Sreemat Ishwarpuriji who converted Sri Chaitanya, took rest under the same tree. According to Premvilasa, Ishwarpuri begged to Nityananda's father to hand over his son to him. Afterwards, the place was named after Sanyasi Iswarpuri—Sanyasitala. It was a place of worship for a large number of religious people. During the fortnight that leads to the night of the full moon the place looks very beautiful. Specially on the night of the full moon, if one looks at Pandavtala from Biswaruptala, it would appear as if the whole universe is smiling. The material world would seem insignificant.
Formerly, the main road towards the Ashram passed near this Biswaruptala. Some dilapidated parts of the old wall and the entrance gate still exist. On the left side of Biswaruptala there is Guru Griha, the tomb of Srimat Tribhanga Das Baba, where His mortal remains lay buried. Tribhanga Das, born at Kirtipur, a nearby village, was a devotee since his boyhood. His mother was Garabini, father Chhabilal. In his boyhood on the order of his father he used to carry puffed rice to the fields for labourers, along with it he used to carry a Tulsi tree on a tub too. After performing Nama Sankirtan on the fields and watering the Tulsi tree he would then have his breakfast here with puffed rice. Such was his devotion.
Before entering his youth, he met Banwarilal Singh of Panchthupi, Murshidabad and Krishna Chandra Mandal of Kalla, Murshidabad. Both of them were wise and devoted. Their guidance and assistance helped to create a spiritual upliftment in Tribhanga Das. Later on he received diksha (initiation) from a Goswami of Jahnava Devi's order. His spiritual consciousness continued growing and he reached the realm of divinity.
In the Bengali year 1310, blessed Tribhanga Das got a divine order to visit Puri. The longing to renounce the world overpowered him. He was fortunate to have the favour of Radharaman Charandas Babaji Mahasaya, who converted him to Vaishnava Bhagavata sannyasa and he was renamed Banwarilal Das. He then stayed at the Jhanjpitha Math of Puri in close association with his master. Jhanjpitha Math had the deity of Radhakanta, consecrated by the renowned Narottama Thakur of Kheturi. Radhakanta was worshipped here along with the images of Nitai-Gouranga.
He got his final lesson here under the auspice of Radharaman Deva – the lesson to feel the existence of Nityananda in every creation and every creation within Nityananda. This is the keynote of religion, which teaches us to serve everyone. During his stay in Jhanjpitha, he met Sri Nabadwip Das, Sri Gobinda Das, Sri Ram Das and other devotees.
A close-knit relation grew among them. The concept of love was substantiated. He wanted to spend the rest of his life at Jhanjpitha serving the master. But at about this time, when he was in a mood of blissful peace, Radharaman Deva asked him why he was staying there, being neighbour of Nityananda Janmasthan. He told Tribhanga Das to leave the place and to dedicate his life in the service of Ekchakra, the Birthplace of His Divine Grace, Lord Nitaichand. Tribhanga Das came to Ekchakra and joined Haridasji who was then the Sevayat of the place.
Radharaman Deva left for heavenly abode in the Bengali year 1312. A grief stricken Tribhanga Das lost interest in his work. But his master rebuked him in his dream and asked him to offer his service at the Birthplace of Nityananda, which will satisfy the departed soul of the master. Tribhanga Das travelled to various places to glorify the holy place that had been almost forgotten so long. He initiated the religious services that were carried out by the Ashram. The seva also improved.
In the Bengali year 1351, on the full moon of Magh, Tribhanga Das breathed his last. The life's devotion to Nityananda became complete. The full moon (i.e. Purnachandra) of the Radh was permanently eclipsed. Then the custody of the ashram passed on to Sri Bidhubhusanji, a close associate of Tribhanga Das. A memorial of Tribhanga Das has been built, known as Guru Griha. Behind Sasthitala there are situated all the tombs, right from Raghav Pandit up to Haridasji, immediate predecessor of Tribhanga Das. A Tulsi Bedi is there in front of the Guru Griha.
A few steps ahead, the present temple has been built behind the house of Harai Pandit, the father of Sri Nityananda. On one side of the temple there is a prayer hall (natmandir). The Natmandir was once thronged by number of pundits from far off places, connoisseurs, devotees and monks. The association of this place with Nityananda, His ancestors and predecessors, has uplifted it to the supreme height of the holy Vrindavan.
The presiding Deities of the temple attached to the natmandir are the two youths, Nitaichand and Gourhari. The images were established and worshipped by Raghav pandit. On one side resides Adwaita Prabhu. The images of Gopal once worshipped by Tribhanga Das have been placed in front of the seat. On the left side there is Radha-Gopinath on a wooden throne. Then there are the idols of Radha-Madanmohan, Srikanta and Sri Radhakanta of Siddhabakulpith. Also there is the Giridhari belonging to the great devotee Chongadhari Baba. Then there are Jagannath, Gopalji and his Divine Maids.
But the cynosure among the images is the idol of Gour Sundar, which was brought from Sripat Srikhanda (Barddhaman). Just after the conversion (sannyasa) of Gouranga, Narahari Sarkar Thakur of Srikhanda built three images of Gour (i.e. Gourange Mahaprabhu) and started worshipping them. Later on, when Das Gadadhar, a disciple of Nityananda shifted to Katwa to worship the sannyasa tirth, (the place where Sri Gouranga renunciated), Narahari affectionately gifted him the largest one.
The middle one was shifted from Srikhanda to the village of Ganganagar - Bhagkola (Dist. Bagura), Bangladesh by Rasananda and Bhaktananda, two disciples of Narahari Branch. Immediately after the partition, the image was brought back to Srikhanda and then transferred to the Birthplace of Nityananda. This image is of Gouranga in the role of a Natua. With it there is dancing Gopal besides the rock images of Giridhari.
All Rights Reserved by Paratatwa Prakashan. Edited slightly for readability.