[I read this last night while looking at Madhurya-kadambini for the quotes on Sambhu. It's too good to not post--an oldie but a goodie. Besides the wonder of akrodha-paramananda Nityananda Raya's kindness, the picture of Mahaprabhu invoking Sudarshan and forsaking the internal and external reasons for his appearance are astonishing!]
Finally, the author cites the example of the most compassionate Sri Nitai Chand, who bestowed his mercy on the criminal Madhai. The well-known and loved story of Jagai and Madhai is recounted in Caitanya-bhagavata. It begins one day when Sriman Mahaprabhu called Nityananda and Haridas Thakur and said:
suna suna nityananda suna haridasa
sarvatra amara ajna koroho pracara
prati ghare ghare giya koro ei bhiksa
bolo krsna bhaja krsna koro krsna siksa
Listen, listen Nityananda! Listen, Haridas! Give my order to all. Go everywhere in the town, to every single house, and beg everyone to chant Krishna’s name, to worship him, and to learn all they can about Krishna. (Cbh 2.13.8-9)
On receiving Mahaprabhu’s order, Nityananda and Haridas went out onto Nabadwip’s main street in order to preach the Holy Name. They went from door to door, calling on everyone to sing Krishna’s glories and to worship him.
krsna prana krsna dhana krsna se jivana
heno krsna bolo bhai hoiya ek mon
Krishna is your breath! Krishna is your treasure! Krishna is your life! Please chant his name with all your heart. (Cbh 2.13.17)
Though Nityananda and Haridas were both masters of the world, they went to every house in Nabadwip, pleading with everyone to chant. Since they were dressed as sannyasis, pious people would offer them alms or food, but they would answer with the same words Mahaprabhu had given them: “We beg for nothing but that you speak of Krishna, worship Krishna and learn everything you can about Krishna” (bolo krsna bhajo krsna koro krsna siksa). And with those words, they would go on their way, leaving the pious householders in a state of great joy. But though the virtuous were delighted by the two preachers’ efforts, the evil-minded either thought they were mad or had some nefarious purpose.
Things went on in this way for some time, until one day a terrible event took place. Nityananda and Haridas were walking down Nabadwip’s main street, creating a blissful atmosphere, when they suddenly came across two fearsome-looking men named Jagai and Madhai, the leaders of a local gang. They were heavy drunkards who feared no sinful act or worldly authority, and who intimidated the whole town. Though brahmins, they used to drink, eat beef, rob and steal, and even set fire to others’ houses.
Nityananda was the embodiment of compassion, and his heart was always soaked with pity for those suffering from the material miseries. On seeing how extremely miserable Jagai and Madhai were, his heart welled up with compassion. He started thinking, “Lord Gauranga has appeared in this world to deliver the fallen souls. Where will he find anyone more fallen and miserable than these two? If we can save souls like these, the whole world will recognize the power of his mercy. These two have completely forgotten themselves in drunken intoxication. If only they could forget themselves in the chanting of the Holy Names instead! If they would call out to Krishna just once and say, “We are yours!” then I would consider all my efforts to have been worthwhile. These two are so sinful that anyone who touches their shadow immediately has to take bath in the Ganges with his clothes on. My mission will be fulfilled if on seeing them those same people feel they have just bathed in the Ganges.”
In this way, Nityananda Prabhu took a vow to do anything possible to deliver Jagai and Madhai:
tabe haì nityananda caitanyera dasa
e duiere karaì jadi caitanya prakasa
Only if I can manifest Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy in these two sinners will I be able to proclaim that I am his servant, Nityananda. (Cbh 2.13.57)
My dear reader, you can easily how great a sign of mercy it is for someone to bestow all his own accumulated piety and virtue on sinners as great as these. Yet this is what Sri Nityananda and Sri Haridas did. They approached Jagai and Madhai to glorify the Holy Name to them. The pious townspeople warned them not to, crying, “O Thakur! These men are criminals and completely addled with drink. They make no distinction between those who are pious and those who are not, but beat anyone who comes before them. Don’t go near them if you fear for your lives.”
However, for those solely determined to deliver the fallen, fear of death is insignificant. Nityananda and Haridas approached the two brothers and said:
bolo krsna bhajo krsna, loho krsna-nama
krsna mata, krsna pita, krsna dhana prana
toma saba lagiya krsnera avatara
hena krsna bhajo, saba charo anacara
Sing the glories of Krishna! Worship him and chant his Holy Name! He is the father, mother, wealth and very life of all living entities. He has appeared to deliver all of you. Worship him, giving up all activities. (CBh 2.13.83-84)
As soon as they heard Krishna’s name from the mouth of these two great souls, Jagai and Madhai ran towards them shouting, “Catch them! Catch them!” Seeing their angry mood, Nityananda and Haridas fled. Among the bystanders were Jagai and Madhai’s wicked friends, who found the two saints’ flight highly amusing. Others said regretfully, “We warned you that these men are criminals and worse than animals. How could you expect them to understand anything of the Holy Name’s glories? You had better run, for you will not be safe until you are out of their sight.”
Jagai and Madhai were too drunk to follow Nityananda and Haridas for long. Not only that, but they were so fat that they were tired out after running only a short distance. They continued to roar threats, but soon stopped and sat down to catch their breath. Nityananda and Haridas went to Mahaprabhu and, laughing, recounted all that had happened.
Mahaprabhu said, “I know those two rascals. If they come here, I shall cut them into pieces.” Nityananda answered: “You say you’ll cut them into pieces? But I will not go anywhere as long as they are still around. How can you so proudly say that you will destroy them? Make them chant the name of Govinda first; that will show us how great you really are. Religious people naturally chant Krishna’s name, but these two know nothing except committing sin. If you can deliver them by bestowing bhakti, then I will know that you deserve the title patita-pävana, or ‘purifier of the most fallen.’ Whatever reputation you have earned in saving me will be greatly exceeded if you deliver these two criminals.”
Mahaprabhu replied, “They will undoubtedly be delivered, for they have received your darshan and you are specifically thinking about their welfare. Very soon Krishna will give them his blessings.”
It was clear from Mahaprabhu’s words that the boundless mercy of Nityananda would be the cause of Jagai and Madhai’s liberation. All the Vaishnavas blissfully shouted, “Haribol! Haribol!” They no longer had any doubt that this event was imminent.
Though he could have delivered the two demons in brahmin bodies simply by wishing it, Nityananda Prabhu decided to adopt a means whereby his great compassion could be fully displayed. One evening, he was walking alone, chanting Krishna’s holy name, along the street where Jagai and Madhai had their favorite haunt.
When they heard Nitai chanting, the two thugs called out, “Who goes there?” Nityananda answered, “I am on my way to Mahaprabhu’s house.” In his alcoholic stupor, Madhai said, “I asked who you are!” Nitai said, “My name is Avadhuta.” Hearing this, Madhai became even angrier and violently threw a empty wine pot made of clay at Nitai. The pot broke against Nitai Chand’s forehead and cut it, causing streams of blood to pour down his lotus-like face. His mission in taking that path had been accomplished, for every drop of blood that washed over him simultaneously washed away the heaps of sins Madhai had accumulated throughout lifetimes of wickedness. Madhai was about to strike Nitai again, but Jagai held him back, allowing Nitai to stand up. The merciful Avadhuta’s face broke into a sweet smile and his eyes shone with prema. He gave Madhai a kind look, and began speaking to him with a voice full of affection. “Brother Madhai!” He said, “You struck me. You have done well. Now just chant Krishna’s name, at least once. If you do that, it will bring me great joy, and it will bring you great joy as well.”
In the meantime, someone reported to Mahaprabhu the shocking news that Madhai had injured Nitai. The Lord came storming onto the scene in the company of his associates. On seeing blood on Nitai’s head, he was beside himself with rage and, in the spirit of Vishnu, called on his Sudarshan Chakra, his discus weapon, in order to punish the wicked wrongdoer. As the shining disk weapon appeared, however, the merciful Nitai fell down at Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet and begged him not to harm the two brothers, but to bestow divine love on them instead. He said,
kono janme thake jadi amara sukrta
saba dilun madhaire sunoho niscita
more joto aparadha kichu daya nai
maya charo krpa koro tomara madhai
O Lord! Please listen! If I have done any good deeds in this or any other life, I am giving it all to Madhai. I relieve him of all responsibility for his offenses to me. Please don’t play tricks, but bestow your mercy on Madhai. He is yours. (Cbh 2.13.219-20)
By this act of grace, the two dacoits quickly turned into maha-bhagavatas, and for the rest of their lives bore witness to Nitai Chand’s infinite mercy.