I n Navadvipa lived a brahmana’s son who had no peer among the thieves. He was a brahmana in name only. His heart was filled with evil. He was the commander of an army of thieves. There was no mercy in his body. He always happily stayed among thieves. Seeing Lord Nityananda’s ornaments and His glistening necklaces of gold, pearls and coral, and seeing the many valuable things that decorated His graceful limbs, the brahmana thief decided to rob them all. Concealing his desire, the thief stayed always in Lord Nityananda’s company.
The omniscient Lord Nityananda knew that this man was very wicked. A good brahmana named HiraŠya Pandita lived in Navadvipa. He had no material possessions. Associating with no one else, Lord Nityananda was staying in the home of this fortunate devotee.
The Plot to Rob Lord Nityananda
Meanwhile, the evil-minded brahmana-thief met with other thieves and told them his plan: “O my brothers, why should we be unhappy any longer? Mother Durga has brought a great treasure-house of wealth to a place nearby. On the limbs of the avadhuta Nityananda are many ornaments of gold, pearls, and diamonds. There is nothing like these ornaments. What is the monetary value of all these ornaments? I do not know. Mother Durga has put them all in one place. Now they are all in HiraŠya’s house. In half an hour we will rob them all. Taking our swords and shields, tonight we will go there and attack.” Agreeing on this plan, the thieves met that night.
Armed with various weapons such as swords, daggers, and tridents, the thieves went to the place where Lord Nityananda stayed. Sending a spy ahead, the thieves waited at a certain place. Meanwhile, Lord Nityananda was eating, and in all four directions the devotees chanted the holy names of Lord Hari. Lord Nityananda’s companions were wild with the ecstasy of love for Lord Krsna. One devotee roared like a lion. Another made a sound like thunder. Another, tasting the nectar of love for Lord Krsna, wept. Another clapped his hands and loudly laughed. “Hai! Hai! Haya! Haya!” Filled with the bliss of Krsna-prema, no one slept. The spy returned to the thieves. “The avadhuta is eating. Everyone else is awake,” was his report. The thieves said, “Let them eat. When they are asleep, we will attack.” Happy that they would soon plunder great wealth, the thieves sat under a tree. One of them said, “The gold bracelets and armlets are mine.” Another said, “I will take the pearl necklace.” Another said, “I will take the earrings.” Another said, “I will take the gold necklace.” Another said, “I will take the silver anklets.” Their minds became absorbed in these thoughts.
By Lord Nityananda’s wish, the goddess of sleep came and put a veil around those thieves. At once the thieves fell asleep. They were all unconscious. Bewildered by the Lord’s Maya, the dawn came, still they were not awake. When the crows cawed, the thieves awakened. They did not even see the night. They were unhappy at heart. They hurriedly hid their swords and shields in the forest. Then the thieves hurried to bathe in the Ganga. When they returned to their own place, they violently quarrelled. One of them said, “You fell asleep first.” Another said, “You slept very soundly.” The wicked brahmana who was the commander of that army of thieves said, “Why should we quarrel? Whatever happened was all Goddess Durga’s will. One day may pass, does that mean that all the days are gone? I think Goddess Durga bewildered us. We did not offer her worship before we left. That is the reason for all this. Tonight, we will all worship Goddess Durga. We will offer her meat and wine. Then we will go to the same place again.” Agreeing to this plan, the thieves, offering meat and wine, worshipped Goddess Durga
That night, they cleaned their weapons, dressed in black clothing, and left. The night was very dark. Everyone slept. The thieves assembled. Approaching the house, the thieves saw many tall men guarding the four directions. Standing in the four directions, the armed guards again and again chanted the holy names of Lord Hari. They were giants. They were powerful and ferocious. Their weapons were raised. The thieves saw that each of those giants had the power to kill a hundred thieves. The giants had flower garlands around their necks and sandal paste on their limbs. Again, and again they chanted sankirtana of the holy names. As Lord Nityananda slept, the giants in the four directions sang, “Krsna, Krsna!”
Seeing this, the thieves became filled with wonder. They left the house and sat down together. The thieves said, “From where these guards came?” One of them said, “Somehow the avadhuta must have known. He brought the guards here.” Another said, “My brothers, this avadhuta is a great sage and a philosopher. Again, and again I heard this from many mouths. This saintly avadhuta has great knowledge. He can protect Himself. We all saw those guards. I don’t think they were human beings. I think this avadhuta has great mystic powers. That is why the people call Him ‘Gosai’ (master).” Another thief said, “My brother, you are a fool. How can anyone who eats as He does and decorates Himself with fancy clothes, as He does, be a ‘gosai’?” The brahmana who was the commander of that little army of thieves said, “I know the reason. Some big, big important person must have come to see the avadhuta. An emissary from the king must have come. The giants were his personal bodyguards. Those guards were all religious fanatics. That is why they chanted, ‘Hari! Hari!’ While the guards are here, we should not come. After some days they will leave. For now, let us go to our homes my brothers. For ten days let us quietly stay at home.” When the leader had spoken these words. The thieves returned to their homes.
Meanwhile, Lord Nityananda, the moon of avadhutas, enjoyed pastimes as He wished. Whoever worships Lord Nityananda’s feet and remembers them breaks all obstacles into pieces. Who has the power to place obstacles before Lord Nityananda? Who has the power to place obstacles before the Supreme Lord? Simply by remembering the Lord’s servants, one breaks all ignorance into pieces. GaŠesa and all his associates are all servants of the Supreme Lord. siva, who destroys the worlds, is an amsa incarnation of the Supreme Lord. Who can bring fear to Lord Nityananda? When the Lord’s amsa incarnation Ananta sesa moves, all the worlds tremble. By His own will, Lord Nityananda performed kirtana in all of Navadvipa. By His own will He enjoyed pastimes of eating and sleeping. His every limb was decorated with priceless ornaments. He looked exactly like RohiŠi’s son Balarama. Lord Nityananda chewed betelnuts mixed with camphor. His gentle smile charmed the heart of every person in the world. Fearless and blissful, accompanied by a host of fearless and blissful devotees, He went everywhere.
The Terrible Suffering of the Thieves
Another time the thieves made a plan and came to the house where Lord Nityananda stayed. By the Lord’s arrangement there were great clouds. The darkness was blinding. The night was very fearsome. No person walked anywhere. On that very fearsome night each thief armed himself with five or ten weapons. They approached the house. Then every thief became blind. No one had the power to see. They could not see anything. All the thieves were now blind. Each one of them felt his mind, intelligence, and breath were under attack. One of them fell into a ditch and was ferociously bitten by mosquitoes and leeches. Another fell into a garbage-pit and was terribly bitten by mosquitoes and scorpions. Another fell among thorns. His every limb wounded by the thorns; he had no power to move. Another fell into a canal. His hands and feet broken, he wept. Another burned with fever. Every thief felt terror in his heart. At that moment the demigod Indra sent a great rainstorm to that very place. The thief bitten by mosquitoes and leeches was especially tortured by the rainstorm. Then hailstones fell on the thief’s bodies. They could not save their lives. Everyone was plunged in an ocean of sufferings. One thief became dizzy and fell down. Forgetting who he was, he was filled with terror. An endless rainstorm fell on the thieves. Their bodies trembled from the freezing cold. Now blind, the thieves had no power to see. Attacked by the freezing rain, they were on the verge of death. Aware that these people were enemies of Lord Nityananda, Indra was very angry and tortured them very badly.
Recognizing Nitai’s Position
After some time, the brahmana who was commander of that little army of thieves suddenly became fortunate. Now he understood. In his heart that brahmana thought, “Nityananda is not a human being. In truth He must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. How can anyone say He is a human being? One day He bewildered us and made us all fall asleep. Still, because of His powerful maya, I did not understand. Another day He showed us many very wonderful guards. Still I did not understand. I am a great sinner. Everything I do is bad. In my heart I wanted to rob the Supreme Lord of His wealth. Who has the power to throw me into all these calamities? Lord Nityananda is my only shelter, I have no other shelter.” Thinking in this way the brahmana meditated on Lord Nityananda’s feet, the calamities suddenly stopped. At that moment the brahmana became free of many millions of his past offenses. The brahmana prayed, “Save me! Save me! O Nityananda, O cowherd boy Krsna, O master, O protector of all living entities, please save me! A person who trips and falls to the ground takes shelter of the earth. In the same way a person who commits offenses against You must meditate on You. Only then can he be delivered from his sufferings. You forgive all offenses. You are merciful to the fallen. I have killed many brahmana’s and many cows. O Lord, no one is a greater offender than I am. Still, even the greatest sinners may find shelter in You and break into pieces the bonds that tie them to this world of birth and death. From the moment of birth, You protect the lives of the living entities. O Lord, please protect me today from these dangers. If I remain alive, I will have learned my lesson. Birth after birth I am your servant, O Lord. Whether I live or die, I only wish to be Your servant.
Hearing these words, merciful Lord Nityananda delivered all the thieves. In this way the thieves became conscious again. There were suddenly released from blindness. By the power of the thief’s surrender to Lord Nityananda, the terrible rainstorm no longer fell. After some moments the thieves again could see the path. They walked as if they were on the verge of death. They walked to their homes and then bathed in the Ganga.
Surrender of The Thieves
The commander of that little army of thieves wept and wept. In his heart he took shelter of Lord Nityananda’s lotus feet. Meanwhile, Lord Nityananda, who is the master of all the worlds, sat down and placed His merciful glance on the fallen souls. In all four directions the devotees sang the holy names of Lord Hari. Lord Nityananda, the jewel of avadhutas, roared with bliss. At that moment the brahmana-thief came, lifted his arms, called out, “Save me, and offered daŠdavat obeisances. From head to toe, the hairs of his body stood erect. From him an unending stream of tears flowed. He trembled. Again, and again the brahmana roared and thundered with ecstatic love. He was not in external consciousness. He wept. Gazing at Lord Nityananda’s glory, the brahmana joyfully danced. “Save me, Father Nityananda, purifier of the fallen!” the brahmana roared, his arms raised.
Seeing this, the devotees became filled with wonder. “How did the thief become like this?” One devotee said, “It is a trick. It is a sham. Any moment he will attack us.” Another devotee said, “Lord Nityananda is the purifier of the fallen. By His mercy this man has become good at heart.”
Seeing the endless symptoms of the brahmana’s devotional ecstasy, Lord Nityananda gently smiled and asked a question. The Lord said, “What has become of you? O brahmana, please tell Me. I see that your activities have become wonderful. What have you seen? What have you heard of Lord Krsna’s glories? Without worrying, and without trickery, please tell everything.” Hearing the Lord’s words, the now saintly brahmana had no power to say anything. He only wept. He fell to the ground and rolled in the courtyard. Spontaneously he laughed, wept, danced, and sang. After some time, the brahmana became peaceful. Then he said to Lord Nityananda, “Lord my home is in Nadiya. I am a brahmana in name only. My actions are those of a hunter or a caŠdala. By always associating with wicked people, I became a violent thief. From the time of my birth I have not been anything but that. When they see me, everyone in Navadvipa trembles in fear. There is not a sin that does not rest in my body. My Lord, when I saw Your glistening ornaments, I decided to steal them. One night I came with my band of thieves to rob the treasures that decorate Your graceful limbs. Lord, that night You bewildered us all. Confused by Your maya, I did not know who You were. Another night, after worshipping Goddess Durga in many ways, armed with swords, daggers, and tridents, we came again. That night we saw a great wonder. Your house was surrounded by guards. Each guard was powerful like a mad elephant. Each wore a flower garland from his neck to his knees. As the holy name of Lord Hari was coming from every guard’s mouth, you happily slept in the house. I was so sinful at heart that even then I did not understand Your glories. “Whose guards are these? From where they came?” Thinking these thoughts, I left. After some days, I again came last night, but at once my eyes were blinded. Coming with my band of thieves, we surrounded Your house. Then we all became blind and we fell into different situations. We were bitten by mosquitoes, leeches, and scorpions. There were torrential rains and a hailstorm. We suffered badly. We had no power to move. In this way we first suffered torture from Yamaraja. Then at the end, we became Your devotees. By Your mercy, with unalloyed love we meditated on Your feet. Then You restored vision to our eyes. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the purifier of the fallen. Simply by thinking of You, we all escaped the tortures of Yamaraja. How great is your glory! Simply by remembering You, a person breaks the bonds of ignorance and easily goes to VaikuŠ˜ha. Speaking and speaking in this way, the brahmana loudly wept. In this way Lord Nityananda manifested His pastimes.
Listening to these wonders, everyone bowed down before the brahmana. Then the brahmana said, “Lord, please give me permission to depart. No longer do I wish to keep this body alive. In my heart I desired to harm You. Therefore, my penance is that I will die by drowning in the GaŠga.
I Accept You
Hearing the brahmana’s sincere words, Lord Nityananda and the devotees became pleased. Lord Nityananda said, “O brahmana, you are very fortunate. Birth after birth you are Lord Krsna’s servant. If you had not attained the Lord’s mercy, how could all those events have passed? How could they have taken place if you were not a servant of the Lord? Lord Caitanya has descended to this world to purify the fallen. Listen, brahmana. If you commit no more sins, I will accept all your karma. Give up violence, theft, and all misdeeds. Do them no more. Walk on the path of religion. Chant the holy names of Lord Hari. Then you can deliver others. Go among the thieves and criminals. Bring them all to the path of religion.” Speaking these words, Lord Nityananda took the garland from His own neck and happily gave it to the brahmana. There was a great sound of, “Jaya! Jaya!” The brahmana was now freed from material bondage. Grasping Lord Nityananda’s feet, the brahmana wept and wept. His voice choked with emotion, he cried out, “O Lord Nityananda! O master! Purifier of the sinners! Please give the shelter of Your lotus feet to this fallen sinner. In my heart I wished You harm. Who is more despicable than myself?” Then Lord Nityananda who is karuna-sindhu—an ocean of mercy, placed His lotus feet on the brahmana’s head. When his head received the mercy of Lord Nityananda’s feet, the brahmana’s offenses were all broken to pieces.
Preaching to the Thieves
From then on, whenever thieves came to his door, the brahmana guided them on the path of religion. He taught them to take shelter of Lord Caitanya. Renouncing theft, violence, and all misdeeds, they all became very saintly. After associating with the brahmana they all chanted the holy names of Lord Hari hundreds of thousands of times. They all became expert in devotional service to Lord Visnu.
Wild with love for Lord Krsna, Lord Nityananda always sang Lord Krsna’s holy names. In this way Lord Nityananda was an ocean of mercy. In no other incarnation did the Supreme Lord act in such a way. Lord Nityananda always chanted, “Caitanya, Caitanya!”
A brahmana who does not honor Lord Nityananda becomes counted among the thieves and ruffians. By Lord Nityananda’s power all these most fallen and violent persons attained ecstatic devotional service, a position where one weeps, trembles, shouts, and finds the hairs of his body standing erect—devotional service the nature of which the kings of yoga yearn to attain.
O my brothers, please worship, please worship Lord Nityananda. By His mercy you will attain Lord Caitanya. Anyone who with an attentive heart hears this pastime of the thieves’ deliverance will someday see Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda the Personality of Godhead.