The following is a story in connection with the disciple of Shripad Vyasa Tirtha who was given the name Lakshmipati Tirtha, and who became the next to be recognised as the 'acharya' in the line in which we follow.
Once Lord Balarama (Krishna's elder brother) appeared to Lakshmipati Tirtha to break the ground for a change in the regular line of the Madhva Sampradaya. Big changes were to take place that would eventuate in a revolution in thought and deed. Lord Shri Krishna and His brother Lord Balarama were about to appear in the dress of Devotees within the Madhwa 'sampradaya'.
brajendra nandana jei-saci-suta hoilo sei
balarama hoilo nitai
Shrila Narottama dasa Thakura sings in his "Ishta Deve Vijnapti", in simple Bengali language that "Lord Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, the King of Vraja, became the son of Sachi (Lord Chaitanya) and Balarama became Nitai (Nityananda). We have discussed in brief some of the situations that arose around this time that warranted these changes. We have also introduced some of the Vaishnavas who performed this task for the Lord. The change itself to many meant seeing heart rendering devotion to the Lord, which was in many cases unable to be contained because of its intensity. Some objected to this as being mere sentimentalism, some even suggested that though the external sentiments were seen, other things were in the heart. From here on we deal with some of those feelings and emotions through the ahcaryas who experienced them. There are potential dangers to this, but I am prepared to take the chance that the readers will appreciate and aspire for such deep feelings and not fall subject to imitating them.
There is sometimes a lot missed by those who try to merely rationalise everything, those who are logicians, or academics. Often showing that they cannot see 'outside of their paradigm, or square'. 'Sravana', study or scrutiny of 'shastra' may be necessary to give one the basis for discrimination between 'Para' and 'Aparatattwas', and reflection helps us to fix our minds on the import at hand. However the persons who we are relating to here are already fixed in their conclusion of 'shastra', the need for logical arguementation, discussion, or rhetorical persuasion may even impare one's vision rather than enhance it.
We have found this especially to be relevent to those who have come from certain ethnic cultures which are very strong and may we say dominant.
Often it is easier to accept things as they are if one doesn't know anything in the first place. Sometimes the example of the two youths who comes to the music teacher to learn to play an instrument is cited. The first youth was asked, "….do you know how to play the piano?" "No," was his reply. "Your fee will be $400." said the teacher. The second student was asked if he knew how to play. "Yes, I taught myself a few pieces!" was the reply. "Oh then your fee will be $800., for first we have to un-train you, before we can train you!"
"Sometimes 'manana' is portrayed as only being the systematic employment of the canons of textual interpretation and logical examination with a view to arriving at a firm conviction that he final interpetation of the 'shastras' thus arrived at is alone the correct and unimpeachable one."(B.N.K. Sharma. 1986. Philosophy of Shri Madhvacharya. page 377.) And this is so true, when dealing with what you know and have. But to understand anything outside of that realm, another's perpective, or devotional vision, open minded reflection, manana which removes doubts ('samshaya'), and former misapprehension ('viparyaya') are prerequisits.
As you will read shortly, these are insights to the personal relationships between the Lord and His pure Devotees. "Steadiness of attention and exclusive contemplation of the Supreme can only be achieved through deep rooted love of God."(B.N.K. Sharma. 1986. Philosophy of Shri Madhvacharya. page 377.) This is not a cheap or an ordinary thing, but by these personal and intimate dealings based on love is specifically how the Madhva 'sampradaya' has come to be known all over the universe, by the desire and preaching of it's members.
One story of this nature, which is quite heart rendering is the following story of Lakshmipati Tirtha, the best of the 'sannyasis', who, on one occasion, was sitting in a solitary place performing his 'bhajan' throughout the night singing the glories of Lord Balarama. His unalloyed devotion was so intense he would sometimes cry or call out, "O Baladeva, kindly show me Your favour. I am so fallen and wicked." Tears would come from his eyes and he lost all patience and composure due to his old age and intense desire to see the Lord. He would sometimes collapse on the floor, stunned. This day, due to the devotional traumas he had undergone, he slept.
It is described that Lord Nityananda, in His usual prankish mood, appeared to Lakshmipati in His original form as Lord Balarama, Krishna's brother. How he appeared to Lakshmipati was in a dream, telling him that a wandering Brahmin, in the form of an 'avadhuta', madman had arrived in town. "He will come to you. Initiate him into the Vaishnava 'diksha mantras' and accept him as your disciple." Then Lord Balarama spoke the 'mantra' into Lakshmipati's right ear and Lakshmipati awoke. After a short time Lakshmipati saw the 'avadhuta Brahmin' and his mind became full with anxious anticipation. When they met, Lakshmipati couldn't take his eyes off the beautiful form of the Lord, His aura and His Moonlike face and unblinking eyes. Hearing the sweet words of Lord Nityananda, Lakshmipati's eyes brimmed over with swelling tears. That very day Lakshmipati fulfilled the order of Lord Balarama, and Nityananda became the favourite of Lakshmipati.
nityananda prabhu vande
srimad laxmipati priyam
vardhanam bhakta vatsalam
"Respectful obeisances unto You, Nityananda Prabhu, the dear favourite of Lakshmipati Tirtha. He (Nityananda) increases the bliss of the entire Madhva 'sampradaya' and He has the innermost needs of the Devotees foremost at hand."
Shripad Lakshmipati Tirtha couldn't understand his intense attraction for Nityananda or the bliss he felt just being near Him. On Lord Nityananda's absence from his sight for a moment, intense separation came over him. Lakshmipati stayed awake that night pondering over things. He had dozed off slightly, when again in a dream the Lord appeared. He was whitish in complexion, dressed in a blue dhoti. It was Nityananda in his dream, but then Nityananda transformed into Lord Balarama. Lakshmipati was amazed and he bathed the Lord's feet with ecstatic tears from his eyes. He prayed to the Lord, "Surely You have made a fool of me and put this fallen wretch into much distress. Please show me Your mercy. You are my Lord. I take shelter at Your lotus feet." That same Shri Nityananda Rama (Balarama) fulfilled all of Lakshmipati's cherished longings, though He forbade him from telling a soul of His identity, and then disappeared from sight.
When Lakshxmipati awoke in lamentation upon the Lord's disappearance, he saw that night had become the morning. Shripad Lakshmipati Tirtha had noticably changed from this day on. He didn't speak ever again, as his mind was always absorbed elsewhere. From an external perspective he looked terrible, and his disciples became full of anxiety. Within a short while, without any warning, Shripad Lakshmipati left this world. Who can understand properly the character and pastimes of the Lord and His pure Devotee Lakshmipati Tirtha? Just see the purity of Shripad Lakshmipati Tirtha, that the Lord appears directly to play with him.
Usually it is accredited to Shripad Madhavendra Puri Goswami, the disciple of Shripad Lakshmipati Tirtha, as being the spiritual master of Lord Nityananda Prabhu, but here it is mentioned otherwise.
We are not trying to create any controversy so let us substantiate some of this story a little. In the Chaitanya Charitamrta Shrila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes: "In Khadadaha, sometimes people misunderstood Nityananda Prabhu to belong to the 'shakta-sampradayam' whose philosophy is 'antah saktah bahih saivah sabhayam vaisnavo matah'. According to the 'shakta sampradaya', a person called 'kaulavadhuta' thinks materially while externally appearing to be a great Devotee of Lord Shiva. When such a person is in an assembly of Vaishnavas, he appears like a Vaishnava. Nityananda Prabhu did not belong to such a community. Nityananda Prabhu was always a 'brahmachari' of a 'sannyasi' of the 'Vaidika' ('Vedic') order. Actually He was a 'paramahamsa'. Sometimes He is accepted to be a disciple of Lakshmipati Tirtha. If He is so accepted, Nityananda Prabhu belonged to the Madhwa-sampradaya. He did not belong to the Tantrika-sampradaya of Bengal." (Shri Chaitanya Charitamrta, Madhya lila 1:3:85. purport.). However in Chaitanya Charitamrta, Madhya lila (3:8:128) purport, Shrila Prabhupada says: "Shri Nityananda Prabhu was initiated by Madhavendra Puri, a 'sannyasi'. According to others, however, He was initiated by Lakshmipati Tirtha."
In a conversation I had with the elderly H.H. Bhakti Hridoy Mangal Maharaja, Secretary General of the Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Math, when he visited Australia 1989-90, he mentioned that he remembered hearing personally an instance that was related by Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada (sometime in the late 1920's during a class), wherein Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura told how Lord Nityananda walked off with a 'sannyasi' who came to beg alms at His parent's house (as mentioned in Chaitanya Bhagavata.) The 'sannyasi' asked Hadai Pandit, the father of Lord Nityananda, as is traditional, for some alms and so Hadai Pandit as a dutiful householder agreed. But when the 'sannyasi' asked him to give him the boy (Nityananda) as alms, Hadai Pandit, nearly died. Considering his life useless without the boy and a bad example to the boy if he didn't fulfill the desires of his saintly guest. So to fulfill 'dharma' he gave the boy to the 'sannyasi' as his assistant – this 'sannyasi' was Shripad Lakshmipati Tirtha. It is interesting to note that the boy Nityananda simply walked off with the 'sannyasi' without even so much as looking back, just as Lord Rama left His father, Dasharatha, to go to the forest. Though different circumstances, both Maharaja Dasharatha and Hadai Pandit died within a very short time due to intense separation. Hadai Pandit and his wife's faces turned black, and never ate again.