Part Two: Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura

Mahaprabhu appeared in their midst along with Shri Narahari, Shri Mukunda, Shri Gaouridas Pandit, Shri Advaita Acharya, Nityananda, Madhava Ghosh, Vasughosh, Govinda Ghosh, Acharya Purandara, Shri Mahesh Shri Shankara, Shridhara, Shri Jagadish Pandit, Shri Yadunandana, Shri Kashishwara, and many of the other of the Lord's internal associates. They danced in a large company, with a cast of thousands, and in their midst, Shri Achyutananda, Shri Raghunandana, Shri Pati, and Shri Nidhi as well as many others joined together in the intense devotional ecstasy of that great kirtan of singing and dancing.

"How overwhelmed in ecstasy were Advaita and Nityananda! How wonderful was the a circle the devotees made around Shri Chaitanya, who danced in its middle. Shrinivasa Acharya and Narottama Thakura fully understood these pastimes as the wonderful manifestation of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's causeless mercy! It was an act of grace shown to Shrinivas Acharya and Narottama Thakura. With this their satisfaction was complete". (B.R. 10: 607)

When Mahaprabhu, who is most affectionate to all devotees, appeared with his own eternal assoicates Shrinivasa Acharya and Narottama Thakura felt complete joy and satisfaction. After the Sankirtan, Shri Jahnava Mata offered the deities some red powder which is usually thrown by Hindus at the time of the Holi festival. After this, upon her order, the devotees began to play with the dye powder by throwing it all over each other in great joy. Everyone's body was covered with the red powder as the devotees threw it on each other. In this way, after the fun they had with the red dye powder, the evening approached and the time came to celebrate the appearance of Shri Gauranga with an abhishek ceremony. When the twilight came, the bathing ceremony began and it was conducted by Shrinivas Acharya, as the devotees sang the abhishek song for Mahaprabhu's appearance ceremony and celebration.

The song went like this:
"At an auspicious time during the full moon evening of the month of Phalguna, Krishna, the Lord of Gokula made his appearance within the town of Nadiya as the ocean of ecstasy rose, flooding every house. At that time, everyone had great fun with one another. Sachidevi was healthy and happy as the baby played on her lap within the house of Jagannatha Suta.
Morning, noon, evening, and night everyone wanted to see the child, to touch him and hold him. Accepting all kinds of difficulties to get a chance to see the new child, unlimited numbers of people went to the house of Jagannath Mishra to visit.
Everyone packed their eyes to the brim with the charming vision of that sweet boy and seeing that beautiful sight, they forgot their own bodies. Narahari says that the divine appearance of the son of Sachi, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in this way increased everyone's affection and brought their hearts to the point of melting."

Everyone was fully absorbed in the ecstasy of kirtan day and night; no one could think of anything else. Finally it was time for mangal aroti, and the aroti began. When the dancing and singing for Mangal aroti was finished, the vaishnavas offered obeisances to one another and returned to their kutirs to take their morning baths.
In this way, Shri Jahnava Mata quickly took bath, and in order to cook for the Deities, she entered the kitchen. Being expert in the science of cooking, Shri Jahnava Mata, within a short time had prepared various kinds of subjis and other vegetables dishes, sweets, cakes, and beverages. Shrinivas Acharya performed the abhishek and the puja and offered the bhoga to the deities.
After the bhoga was offered and the bhoga arotik was finished, all the great souls present there were seated for taking mahaprasada. Shri Jahnava Mata distributed prasadam with her own hand to the assembled devotees. A great sound of "Hari Hari!" filled the air from time to time as the great devotees assembled there honored prasada. After all the mahants were finished taking prasada, Shri Jahanava Mata requested Shri Narottama, Shrinivasa and Shyamananda Prabhu to take prasada. When everyone else was finished, Shri Jahnava Mata herself took prasada.

Outside the kirtan hall, King Santosh Datta distributed various kinds of mahaprasada to the full satisfaction of the thousands of people who had arrived for the festival. When all the friends and relatives of the brahmanas who were present there, as well as all the unexpected and uninvited guests finally finished taking prasada, then the King himself took mahaprasada at home with his personal entourage.

On the second day, Raja Santosha Datta especially requested all the devotees to cook within their kutirs all different kinds of prasada to be offered as before to the deities in a great feast.

On the third day, as the devotees in their places began to make preparations to leave, Raja Santosha Datta with tears in his eyes gave the devotees gold coins, cloth, different kinds of waterpots, and offered all the devotees his respects. All the devotees bestowed many blessings upon the king and embraced him with great affection, before bidding him farewell and beginning their journeys home.

Shri Jahnava Mata, accompanied by her own entourage began her journey to Vrindavana. Shrinivas Acharya, and Shyamananda Prabhu remained behind in Kheturi Grama for a few days longer, and then they too left for their own homes, and bade farewell to Kheturi Gram.

After the great festival in Kheturi, Shrila Narottama Thakur's fame spread to the four directions. Ram Krishna Acharya and Ganganarayana Cakravarti as well as many other learned devotees throughout the area soon took shelter of the lotus feet of Shrila Narottama Thakura.

In the town of Gopal Pur lived a brahmana named Shri Vipradas. One day, Narottama Thakura suddenly arrived at his home. Vipradas was extremely happy. He offered him a respectful welcome, offering him a seat and the hospitality of a humble brahamana, in accordance with Vedic tradition. In the place where Vipradas had his rice paddy stored a terrifying snake lived. Out of fear of the snake he didn't dare to go inside that storehouse. Vipradas told Narottama Das of his fear. Hearing this, Narottama Thakura smiled a little bit. He said, "Think nothing of it." And when the Thakura opened the door to the storehouse, the snake had vanished.
When Narottama came out of the storehouse, it could be seen that he had with him the deities of Vishnupriya and Shri Gaurasundara on his lap." (B.R. 10: 202) Everyone saw a great miracle� Out of the storehouse Narottama Thakura emerged holding deities of Shri Gauranga and Vishnupriya on his lap. Taking those deities of Shri Gauranga Nityananda with him, Shri Narottama Thakura went to Kheturi Grama, where he installed them to be worshipped. At present that deity is found in a place called Gambilat.

The Glories of Narottama

Once when Narottama Thakura passed by the school a learned smarta brahman, insulted Narottama Thakura in front of his students. Blaspheming him again and again, he called Narottama Thakura a Shudra.
After this offense, all the limbs of the brahmana began melting away from leprosy. Consumed by his incurable disease and seeing no hope for recovery the brahmana went to throw himself in the Ganges and die. That night Durga Devi came to the brahmana in a dream and said, "You fool. You have considered a great mahabhagavata, a pure devotee, to be a shudra. Even if you die and take many many millions of births you cannot be delivered. But if you simply go to him and beg forgiveness at his lotus feet, everything will be all right."

The next day, in the afternoon, the brahmana went with a piece of cloth tied around his neck to indicate great humility, and in complete submission, weeping and weeping, fell before the lotus feet of Narottama Thakur, begging his forgiveness. Gradually, as a result of his association with Narottama, his leprosy healed. Narottama Thakura advised him to engage himself in Krishna bhajan. Gradually he became greatly devoted to Narottama Thakura.

One day, Narottama Thakura and Shri Ramachandra Kaviraja went to the river Padmavati to take bath and at that time they saw two young bramahanas herding many goats and sheep. Narottama Thakura asked the two brahmanas if they were making their young lives successful by performing hari bhajan. The two young brahmana boys listened very attentively. Seeing the beautiful divine forms of Narottama Thakura and Ramachandra Kaviraj, and hearing their sweet words, they approached the place where they stood on the banks of the river and in a very humble mood offered their respectful prayers and obeisances.
Narottama Thakura asked them who they were and they introduced themselves, saying, "We come from the village of Goyasa Gram, and we are the sons of a Zamindar named Sivananda Acharya. Our names are Harinam and Ramkrishna. At our house, at present Durga Puja is being conducted, and on the order of our father we are bringing all these goats and sheep to be slaughtered. Please give us some advice as to what we should do."

Seeing the humble mood of the two sons of brahmanas, Shri Thakura Mahashaya smiled sweetly and began to speak as before on the truths of the Bhagavata, explaining what the Vedas say about how karma-kanda is often performed in the modes of passion and ignorance, and how those whose minds are contaminated by the lower modes are candidates for hell.

"The Vedas explain that the practitioners of karma receive some piety and as a result go to the heavenly planets for s short time, but having once gone to heaven for a short time, they fall into the hellish worlds to suffer. One who, being interested in material enjoyment, is captivated by the sweet words of the Vedas that promise material enjoyment has his intelligence covered. Spending his life in material pursuits, such a person becomes a killer of animals, or a killer of the soul, and after death falls down into hell.
All souls are the energy of Krishna. One who sees the paramatma everywhere, who is free from violence to others, who has no false ego, and who always worships the Supreme Lord becomes free from repeated birth and death and attains the liberated position of divine service at the lotus feet of the Lord."

Hearing these words from the mouth of Shrila Narottama Thakura, the two brahmana boys fell before his holy feet and said, "Please bless these most fallen young brahmanas with the dust of your lotus feet." The Thakur then touched his hand to their heads, saying, "May you attain Krishna-bhakti."
At this, the young brahmana boys set the goats and sheep free, bathed in the Padma river, and went with Shri Ramachandra Kaviraja and Narottama Thakura to the temple of Shriman Mahaprabhu. That day, after taking prasada they again heard from Shri Narottama Thakura and Ramachandra Kaviraja about different aspects of the absolute truth. The next day, after shaving their heads, the two young brahmanas took initiation in the Radha-Krishna mantra. Harinam accepted the mantra from Ramchandra Kaviraja and Ram-Krishna from Narottama Thakura.

After some time, Shivananda Acharya began searching and searching for his sons until he found that they had been seen in Kheturi Gram where they were living as disciples in the ashrama of Narottama Thakura. Shivananda Acharya could not contain his anger.
A few days later, the two brothers returned home. Their foreheads were marked with the tilak of a Vaishnava, their throats decorated with tulasi mala, the twelve parts of their bodies marked with Vishnu tilak, their heads shaved, wearing the shikha of a devotee of Krishna.
Seeing all this Shivananda raged with the hot fury of an uncontrolled fire. He told them: "O fools! Where does it say in the shastra that the position of a Vaishnavas is greater than the position of a brahmana or that by becoming a Vaishnava one is better than a brahmana? You have neglected Durga for so long, but your life is useless without Durga. Moreover, if the Vaishnavas make disciples out of brahmanas it will lead to chaos in society; the brahmanas will lose their position, and if the pandits are defeated, religion will be destroyed and everything will be lost."

Hearing these words of their father, the two young brahamana boys spoke as follows: "On the other hand, that "religion" or "right work" which causes violence to others, and ends only misery, cannot properly be called religion or proper activity. Rather it must be called irreligion and wrong activity. O father! Giving up the worship of Shalagrama narayana, why have you established the worship of Durga-devi and other demigods? Giving careful thought to the conclusions surrounding the performance of Shri Narayana bhajana you should understand the worship of Shiva and Durga to be a useless waste of time."

Shivananda Acharya and smarta pandits there were thus defeated by the conclusions given by the brahmana boys. Shivananda began to deeply consider: "If a great pandit were here, he could defeat all this and belittle the position of Vaishnava dharma by counter-argument and word jugglery".
Shivananda Acharaya brought a great mahapandit from Mithila named Murari. At that time, for the purpose of having a debate, he called for his sons and told them that he wanted them to explain before a public assembly their conclusions that a Vaishnava is better than a brahmana.
Shri Harinam and Shri Rama Krishna remembering the lotus feet of their guru maharaja explained the siddhanta or conclusions of the Bhagavatam, and the arguments of the smartas were so utterly cut to pieces that when it was his turn to speak the great smarta Mahapandit Murari was unable to put forward any arguments in response. When it was all over, the mahapandit fled the assembly in great embarrassment with his head held low and accepted the occupation of a beggar.

That night, as he lay defeated, Shivananda Acharya began to meditate on Durga Devi. Gradually he fell asleep and Durga Devi appeared to him in a dream. At that time she said: "O Shivananda! Shri Hari is the master of everyone. He is the way, the truth and the light. Those whom he covers with ignorance turn to my worship. And I assure the destruction of those who worship me. Those who aren't Krishna-minded are demons. On the other hand those who are dear devotees of Krishna are really dear to me. For your own sake, if you want to become free from the offenses you have commited and attain auspiciousness, you had better go to Narottama Thakura and beg forgiveness from his lotus feet. Otherwise I will destroy you, you offender of Vaishnavas!"
After speaking these words of chastisement to Shivananda Acharaya, Durga Devi disappeared.

Ganganarayana Chakravarti was a famous and highly learned brahmana living in Gambhila Gram. He heard from the lips of Narottama Thakura the siddhanta of the Goswamis with great attention and took shelter of the lotus feet of Narottama where he later studied very deeply the scriptures of the Goswamis.
There was another brahmana named Jagannatha Acharya who was a worshipper of Durga. One day in a dream Durga appeared to him and said, "O you simple brahmana. Go to Narottama Thakur. Take shelter of his lotus feet. Practice Krishna bhajan and you will achieve the highest good fortune. Krishna is my master and my guru. Not a blade of grass moves without his wish."
Jagannatha Acharya, after his afternoon bath, went to Kheturi Gram and offered his dandavats at the lotus feet of Narottama Thakura, explaining all that Durga had told him in the dream.
Hearing this, the Thakura smiled slightly and said, "You are very fortunate to have attained Krishna's mercy." On an auspicious day the Thakura initiated him in the Radha-Krishna mantra. Shri Jagannatha Acharya became a very dear and confidential disciple of Narottam Thakura.

Seeing the glories of Shrila Narottama Thakura, the society of smarta brahmanas roasted with envy. A large faction of them went to the Raja Nrishinga and petitioned him for redress. They told him: "Maharaja! If you don't rescue the brahmanas, your reputation will be ruined and your death will be assured. The son of Raja Krishnananda Datta, Narottama Thakura, is a shudra�and yet he dares to make disciples of the brahmanas. If this goes on, we shall all be drowned like the members of the Yadu dynasty." Raja Narasingha said, "I shall protect you. But please tell me, what is to be done?" The brahmanas said we shall all go to Kheturi Gram along with the great and famous, the world-conquering scholar Mahadigvijay Pandit Shri Rupa Narayana and defeat Narottama. With that great pandit as our leader, Narottama will not be able to say anything. You please assist us in all this." The king, Raja Nrishingha said, "I myself shall accompany you every step of the way. In this way, that group of brahmanas along with the great and learned world-conquering pandit Rupa Narayana began their journey to Kheturi Gram. As they were traveling on the road someone heard the news and went to Kheturi Gram where he informed Shrila Ramachandra Kaviraja and Narottama Thakura. When Shri Ramachandra Kaviraja and Shri Ganganarayana Cakravarti heard all this, they became very disturbed. Thereafter, after some inquiry, the two of them came to know that the party of smarta pandits, were about to arrive in the marketplace of a town called Kumara Pura, and that after resting there for one day, they would reach Kheturi Gram the following day. Ramchandara and Ganganarayana quickly went to that marketplace in Kumarpura and the two of them set up two different shops. Shri Ramchandra Kaviraja set up a stall for selling clay pots and Ganganarayana Chakravarti set himself up in a stall selling pan and betel nut. In this way, along with Raja Narashinga, the smarta pandits arrived in the marketplace of Kumarpura and set up their camp near the shops. The disciples of the pandits went to buy some clay pots for cooking with and went to the pottery shop. The potter (who was Ramchandra Kaviraja) began speaking to them in pure Sanskrit. The disciples of the pandits began speaking in Sanskrit also, and soon they began arguing back and forth in Sanskrit and were defeated. In the same way, when the students went to purchase pan and betel nuts from the shop of the pan-walla (Ganganarayana Chakravarti) he spoke to them in pure Sanskrit. They also began to argue. Gradually their teachers arrived at the place where the argument was going on and found themselves unable to reply to the arguments of the pan-walla and the clay pot walla. Finally the king, Raja Narasingha, arrived on the scene the great pandit Rupa Narayana. At that time a great uproar of argumentation filled the four directions. In the presence of the king, the potter and the pan-walla defeated all the smarta brahmanas, including Rupa Narayana. Raja Nrishinga made some inquries and came to know that the pan-walla and potter were disciples of Narottama Das. At that time he said to the pandits when you are unable to defeat a common, ordinary disciple of Narottama in the matter of siddhanta, how will you defeat Narottam himself?" The smarta pandits were silent. Realizing their defeat, they made preparations to return to their own villages. That evening, King Raja Narasingha and Shri Rupa Narayana saw Durgadevi in a dream. She told them, "If you don't accept the shelter of Narottam'a lotus feet, I will cut you all to pieces with my sharpened sword." The following morning Raja Narasimgha and Rupa Narayana arrived at the place of Narottama Thakura. Narottama Thakura received them with great affection and with all due respect and cordiality, offering them a seat. He said, "I am very fortuante to have the company of such highly learned and noble personages such as your good selves." Raja Narashinga and Rupa Narayana, were overwhelmed at Narottama's polite and gentle Vaishnva behavior and fell prostrate at his lotus feet begging forgiveness for their offenses. At length, upon being hearing of the pronouncement that Durga Devi had given them, Narottama smiled very sweetly. Thereafter, within a few days, he initiated them in the he initiated them in the Radha Krishna mantra. The disappearance of Shri Narottam Das Thakura Shrila Narottama Thakura was constantly absorbed in singing the glories of Shri Gauranga and Nityananda. Day after day many atheists, agnostics, offenders, Shiva worshippers, followers of Durga, dry logicians, mental speculators and karmis were purified by the touch of his holy lotus feet. Taking the blessings of Narottama, Shri Ramachandra Kaviraja went to Shri Vrindavana Dhama. After a few months there, he entered into the etneral lila of Shri Radha and Govinda. This extremely terrible and unbearable news came to Shrinivas Acharya, and, unable to bear the separation from his dear disciple, he too passed away from this earth and entered into the eternal pastimes of Radha and Govinda. Hearing all this terrible news, Shrila Narottama plunged into the ocean of separation where he began to drown. In the great and unbearable agony of separation he wrote the song, "ye anilo premadhana." Barely able to keep afloat inthe ocean of separation, Shrila Narottam Thakura went near banks of the Ganges in the village called Gambhilaya and entered a temple of Mahaprabhu. Narottam ordered the devotees to perform kirtan. The devotees began performing Sankirtan. After Sankirtan, Narottam Thakura went to the river's edge, and with tears in his eyes took darshan of the Ganges, offering his obeisances again and again. At that time, he entered the waters of the Ganges. After entering a short distance into the water he requested all the devotees to fill the four directions with the loud chanting of the holy name in Sankirtan. At that time, Shri Ramakrishna Acharya and Shri Ganganarayana Cakravarti began two kirtans in two different places. In the midst of all this, the Thakura told two of them, "Pour the waters of the Ganges over my body." Saying this, everyone was immersed in the waves of Sankirtan. As the kirtan went on they were just ready to take pour Ganges water over the body of Shri Narottama Thakura, when just at that moment Shrila Narottama Das Thakura, who was absorbed in chanting the holy name in Sankirtana, merged into the waters of the Ganges and vanished from worldly view. His disappearance day is celebrated on the Krishna Panchami day of the month of Karttika. In his Prema Bhakti Chandrika, Narottama Thakura has written: Song One jaya sanatana rupa prema bhakti rasa kupa jugala ujjwala rasa tanu janhara prasade loka pararila saba soka prakatala kalpa taru jana prema bhakti riti jata nija granthe su-byakata kariyachen dui mahashay jahara srabana haite parananda haya cite jugala madhura rasaraya jugala kishora prem, jini laksa bana hema hena dhana prakashila janra jaya rupa sanatana deha more sei dhana se ratana mora gela hara bhagavata sastra marma nava bidha bhakti dharma sadai kariba su sebana anya devashraya nai tomare kahinu bhai ei bhakta parama bhajan sadhu shastra guru vakya cittete kariya aikya satata bhasiba prema majhe karmi jnani bhakti hina ihare karibe bhina narottame ei tattwa gaje Song two ana katha ana byatha nahi jena jai tatha tomara carana smriti majhe abirata abikala tuwa guna kala-kala gai jena satera samaje anya brata anya dana nahi karon bastu jnana anya seba anya deba puja ha ha krishna bali bali bedera ananda kari mane ara nahe jena duja Jibane marane gati radha krishna prana pati donhara piriti rasa sukhe jugala bhajaye janra premanande bhase tanra ei katha rahu mora buke jugala carana seba ei dana more diba jugalete manera piriti jugala kishora rupa kama rati guna bhupa mane bahu o lila piriti dasanete trina kari ha ha kishor-kishori caranabje nibedana kari braja-raja-suta syama brishabhanu suta nama shri radhika nama manohari kanaka-ketaki rai shyama marakata tay kandarpa darapa karu cura nata bara shiromani natinira shikarini dunhun gune dunhun mana jhura abharana manimaya prati ange abhinaya tachu paye narottama kahe diba nisi guna gaya parama ananda paya mane ei abhilasa hay "All glories to Sri Sanantan and Rupa Goswami who are fathomless wellsprings of prema-bhakti-rasa. They personify ujjvala-rasa. They are desire trees whose mercy frees everyone from pain and sorrow. The books of those two great souls clearly explain prema-bhakti. Hearing of them will bring one great joy for they are the ashraya-vigrahas of madhura-rasa. O Rupa and Sanatana, you are endowed with the greatest wealth of divine love�radha-krishna-prema�which in your hands is like thousands of cupid's golden arrows. O Rupa and Sanatana, bestow some of that treasure upon me by piercing my heart with those jeweled arrows. The essence of Shrimad Bhagavatam is the ninefold path of bhakti. I shall always follow that path, without taking shelter of any other god. O brothers! Krishna-bhakti is the supreme form of bhajan. Making the words of guru, shastra and the sadhus my mind's only meditation I shall dive and surface in the ocean of Krishna-prema. The karmis and jnanis have no bhakti. Bhakti is different�it is without any trace of karma, exploitation, or jnana, calculation. Thus sings Narottama of the truth." "I have no other topic of discussion but your lotus feet. I worry my mind with nothing other than the thought of your lotus feet, O Lord. I can speak of nothing else but your holy qualities in the company of other devotees. I have no other vow but your service. I have no other object of charity. I am interested in no other kind of knowledge besides knowing how to please you. I have no other duties. I worship no other gods before you. Chanting, "O Krishna! O Krishna!" I shall wander in ecstasy, thinking of nothing other than You. Radha-Krishna are my goal in life and death and the masters of my breath. Performing my bhajan only for them I rise and fall in the ocean of prema, divine love. I pray that I may always maintain this conception within my heart as my highest ideal: Let me serve the lotus feet of Shri Shri Radha and Govinda. Let my mind be filled with dedication to their divine forms whose beauty surpasses that of Cupid and Rati. With a straw between my teeth I fall at their feet and present my humble petition: "O Kishora-Kishori! O son of King Nanda, Shyamasundara! And O daughter of King Vrishabhanu, Shri Radhika, you who enchant even Hari, you whose bodily complexion is the color of a golden lotus. O Krishna, whose bodily color is that of a blue jewel, whose beauty mocks cupid. O topmost dancer and danseuse, Shri Krishna and Shri Radha: Please dance within my mind. O you whose beauty increases the charm of your dazzling ornaments, my only wish is that day and night, in great ecstasy, I shall go on singing your glories."

Back to the Vaishnava Saints