Lord Nityananda is non-different from Lord Balarama. Balarama, the first expansion of Lord Krsna appears in different incarnations in the different yugas, to assist Lord Krishna in His pastimes. In the Treta yuga he appears as Laxman, in the Dvapar yuga he appears as Balarama and in the Kali yuga he appears as Nityananada Prabhu. In each of these avatars, he is always eager to serve and he displays the perfect mood of servitude.
Balarama is the embodiment of Lord Krsna’s sat shakti or the sandhini shakti. This is the Lord’s existential potency by which Nityananda-Balaram support the entire universe. Balarama also represents the original Guru-tattva. So we should approach Lord Nityananda for spiritual strength, so that we can develop the right service attitude and the mood to serve.
Lord Krishna is the supreme enjoyer and various expansions arise from Nityananda-Balarama to give rise to various incarnations, in order to assist Lord Krishna in His creation and various pastimes. The five expansions from the plenary portion or portions of plenary portions of Nityananda-Balarama include: a) Sankarshana. b) Maha Vishnu or Karandakasayi Vishnu - the supersoul of the entire material realm c) Garbhodakasayi Vishnu – the supersoul of one universe d) Ksirodaksayi Vishnu - as supersoul of every living entity e) Sesha nag – the snake bed of the Lord.
Supreme Lord Krishna appeared in Navadvipa dham as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to establish the sankirtana movement; and Lord Balarama appeared as Nityananda Prabhu to assist Lord Chaitanya in His mission.
śrī-caitanya — sei kṛṣṇa, nityānanda — rāma
nityānanda pūrṇa kare caitanyera kāma
Lord Caitanya is the same Lord Kṛṣṇa, and Lord Nityānanda is Lord Balarāma. Lord Nityānanda fulfills all of Lord Caitanya’s desires.
[CC, Adi 5.156]
sarva-rūpe āsvādaye kṛṣṇa-sevānanda
sei balarāma — gaura-saṅge nityānanda
In all the forms He tastes the transcendental bliss of serving Kṛṣṇa. That same Balarāma is Lord Nityānanda, the companion of Lord Gaurasundara.
[CC, Adi 5.11]
In all these avatars, Nityananda-Balarama exemplify the perfect mood of service and they taste transcendental bliss by serving Krishna. Balarama assisted Lord Krishna by serving as His throne, bedding, slippers, garments, umbrella etc. Balarama also serves as the bed on which Garbhodakasyahi Vishnu lies and as the dham - Vrindavan dham, the bed for all Lord Krsna’s pastimes. Similarly, Nityananda Prabhu was the principal associate of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and helped Lord Chaitanya in spreading the holy name of Krishna. Anantasesha is one of the expansions of Nityananda-Balarama and it is on the hoods of Anantasesha that the entire bhu-mandala, consisting of the fourteen planetary systems rests. Sesha is called ananta (limitless), because of the limitless services which he renders to the Lord.
Nityananda Prabhu was born in a pious Brahmin family as the son of Padmavati and Hadai Pandit in the village of Ekachakra, on the thirteenth day of Magha shukla paksa, celebrated now as Nityananda trayodashi. As a child he used to meditate and lovingly enact the pastimes of Lord Krishna and was very dear to his parents, friends and other villagers of Ekachakra. At the age of twelve, he left home to accompany a sannyasi on a pilgrimage and left his parents heart-broken. He travelled across India and later met Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Nadia, at the age of 32. He assisted Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in spreading the Harinaam sankirtana movement through-out Bengal and Orissa.
Nityananda Prabhu is also called Nityananda-Rama (Balarama) or Nitai. Together with Lord Chaitanya they are called, Gaur-Nitai or Nimai-Nitai. Nityananda Prabhu went door-to-door in Navadvip, preaching the message of the love of God and pleaded with people to chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra - Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
It was upon the instructions of Nityananda Prabhu that Raghunath dasa Goswami arranged for the grand chida-dahi festival to feed devotees at Panihati. Nityananda Prabhu then blessed Raghunath dasa Goswami and bestowed his mercy upon him. This event is celebrated even today as the Panihati chida-dahi utsav.
Nityananda Prabhu also appeared to Krishna das Kaviraj Goswami in a dream, where he instructed him to go to Vrindavan. Later it was at the Madan-Mohan temple, Vrindavan that Krishna das Kaviraj Goswami got the inspiration to write the Chaitanya charitamrita.
Nityananda Prabhu is the most merciful incarnation of the Lord and he showered his compassion on fallen souls, without any discrimination or regard for their qualification to receive the holy name. The boundless mercy and compassion of Nityananda Prabhu was evident, as he transformed the hearts of even the most fallen persons. Jagai and Madhai were two notorious, sinful drunkards at that time. Even though Madhai had inflicted injury and hurt Nityananda Prabhu; yet he was compassionate, showered his mercy and delivered both of them.
Many of us do share few things in common to Jagai-Madhai and at times we do have sinful tendencies. We have had times when we have fallen down due to our anarthas and have not been true to ourselves. We should seek shelter from Nityananda Prabhu so that with his mercy, we receive the strength to perform devotional service and get out of these sinful tendencies. According to our acharyas, we cannot approach Chaitanya Mahaprabhu without the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu.