Sri Narottama Das Thakur
By Narahari dasa
Translated by Dravida Das
THE FIRST VILASA
Oh! Supreme Lord Visvambhara, You are the husband of the goddess of fortune, and my eternal friend. Only You are capable of distributing the wealth of love of Godhead. You are known as kindhearted to those who depend upon You, therefore, oh Lord, please shower You kindness upon me.
I worship Sri Lokanatha Prabhu, who is fully surrendered to the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Vinode. He is the life of the devotees, and a confidential associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
I worship Narottama dasa Thakura, who is especially dear to Lord Gauranga. Like a honey bee anxious for the nectar, he hovers at the lotus feet of Srila Lokanatha, absorbed in love for Radha Krsna.
I worship the disciples of Srila Narottama Prabhu who are rich in good qualities and are able to destroy all misfortune and misery.
For the pleasure of the Vaisnavas and to fulfill my own ardent desires, I am writing this book Narottama Vilasa which briefly describes the glories of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura.
All glories to the son of Saci and Jagannatha Misra, Sri Gaura Govinda, the embodiment of divine love. He is the life of Nityananda and Advaita, and the only love of Svarupa, Sanatana, Rupa, and Gopala. Lord Visvambhara, who is expert at pleasing everyone, has bound the hearts of Haridasa, Vakresvara, and Narahari with the ropes of His love, and won the friendship of Gauridasa and Gadadhara.
All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and all His associates.
Oh listeners! please be kind upon me. I am an illiterate fool who knows nothing of right or wrong, yet I have been ordered by saintly persons to narrate this beautiful book Narottama Vilasa which will certainly be relished by the readers. I have offered my obeisances to the Lord in the above verses, now listen patiently and attentively as I briefly describe the glories of Sri Lokanatha Prabhu, a favorite devotee of the Lord and the light of his famous brahmana family.
He was born to Sita and Padmanabha Cakravarti in the village of Talagari in the district of Jassora. It is difficult to describe the wonderful attributes of Lokanatha’s father and mother. Padmanabha was a famous Rarhi brahmana Vaisnava and a favorite of Sri Advaita Prabhu. He was constantly absorbed in sankirtana, singing madly and crying incessantly. Those who simply observed his kirtana were also unable to check their tears.
He frequently came to Nadia for darsana of Lord Gauranga. However, after such visits upon returning to his own village he inevitably fell into the depths of despair due to intense feelings of separation from Gauranga.
He and his wife always sang the glories of Gauracandra. Sita was like her husband. She was a devoted Vaisnavi and wife. She felt extremely fortunate to have a wonderful son like Lokanatha and her happiness knew no bounds as she watched his devotion to Gauracandra blossoming day by day. Who can describe the loving care she showered upon her exalted son?
Lokanatha was always enthusiastically engaged in the Lord’s devotional service. People were spontaneously drawn by his extraordinary beauty and deep devotion. He conscientiously served his parents, and was well-versed in all of the scriptures at a very young age.
When his parents died, Lokanatha decided, after discussing with his friends, that he would give up the shackles of material existence, go to Nadia and surrender at the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The mercy of the Lord was abundantly showered upon Lokanatha during his stay in Nadia. However, after sometime Lord Caitanya requested that he go to Vraja. Lokanatha could understand the mind of the Lord, he knew that Mahaprabhu was thinking of taking sannyasa shortly. Thus Lokanatha’s departure was an indescribably pathetic scene; leaving the Lord’s association was unbearable for him. Completely despondent, Lokanatha began his journey. Crying incessantly, the path before him became practically invisible, thus in five days he walked a distance which would normally be covered in a single day. After traveling for sometime he received the heart breaking news that Mahaprabhu had taken sannyasa and, after consoling his associates, had gone to Nilacala. Lokanatha lamented, knowing the Lord had given up His beautiful curling hair.
Heavy-hearted and forlorn, Lokanatha continued his journey only because it was the order of the Lord. He arrived in Vrndavana practically lifeless, but the charming atmosphere of Vraja soothed his mind and eased his aching heart. However, after a few days Lokanatha heard that Mahaprabhu had gone to South India, and his mind became disturbed. Eager to see the Lord again, Lokanatha left for the south at once. In anxious anticipation he traveled quickly. However, after traveling a considerable distance he received news that the Lord had already left the South and returned to Nilacala [unclear] Afterwards he heard that the Lord had arrived in Vrndavana. With great anxiety Lokanatha immediately started for Vraja. However, upon reaching Vrndavana, he found that Mahaprabhu had departed for Prayaga just a few days before.
The forlorn Lokanatha sank into the depths of despair. The next morning he decided to follow Mahaprabhu to Prayaga. He could no longer tolerate the intense misery of separation from his beloved Lord. Rolling on the ground he cried pitifully until at last he feel asleep. In his dream he finally received the long awaited darsana of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; His effulgent body was covered with yellow sandalwood paste, shining with a brilliance unknown to gold. Perfectly arranged hair, decorated with fresh flowers, surrounded His exquisite face, and His forehead was neatly marked with tilak. Who would not be captivated by His gorgeous lotus eyes, majestic eyebrows, and enticing smile which easily defeated the beauty of the moon? A sacred thread was draped across His broad chest and His long arms touched His knees. His dhoti was folded in three places and His transcendental body was bedecked with ornaments.
He spoke affectionately to Lokanatha: “I shall always be with you, relishing loving pastimes, here in My eternal abode, Navadvipa. Even great personalities like Lord Brahma are unable to understand this Dhama of Mine.” Saying this, He embraced Lokanatha and disappeared.
Lokanatha awoke, the emptiness in the Lord’s absence was intolerable and he was overwhelmed with despair. However, by Mahaprabhu’s kindness, sleep once again overtook him and the Lord, dressed in the garb of a sannyasi, once again appeared before him. “You are thinking of going to Prayaga,” the Lord said sweetly, “But what is the use of going there when you can see me here in your dream. Oh Lokanatha I also desire to be with all of you in Vrndavana. After I sent you to Vraja I took sannyasa from Kesava Bharati. At that time I was very eager to see Vrnda Vipina, but My devotees were so broken-hearted and desolate, due to my acceptance of the renounced order, that I was obliged to spend a few days in the house of Advaita Prabhu to console them. Afterwards I went to Nilacala, then later to the South. Unfortunately our paths did not cross either in the South or in Vrndavana. I know you are feeling despondent because of this and have decided to leave for Prayaga tomorrow morning, but don’t leave Vrndavana, remember that I am always with you. I shall keep you informed of my whereabouts. From Prayaga I’ll leave for Nilacala, there I will tell my dear devotees Rupa and Sanatana about you and they will meet you in Vrndavana soon. In their association you will float on the waves of happiness amidst the ocean of ecstatic love for Krsna.”
“Within a short period of time a prince named Narottama will become your disciple. He will be a gifted devotee, full of love and devotion, and empowered to save the fallen conditioned souls from hellish life. His enchanting beautiful kirtana will melt even wood or stone.” Thus speaking He embraced Lokanatha, who fell at the Lord’s feet.
Awaking and finding himself alone, Lokanatha cried pitifully, remembering the beautiful Gaurangacandra. Eventually he pacified himself, but tears continued to flow like rivers from his eyes. As dawn approached he performed his daily duties and sat down in a quiet place to chant the holy name of the Lord until a local brahmana offered him some fruits to eat. He sat under the tree for a long time until restlessness overtook him and he began wandering aimlessly throughout Vrndavana. Eventually he happened upon a beautiful secluded area where he stayed alone for a long time.
Later he happened to find out that Sri Subuddhi Misra had visited Vrndavana, followed by Sri Rupa Gosvami a bit later, but now they were both on there way to meet Sri Gaurasundara. Sanatana had also come to Vrndavana but had recently left for Nilacala. Hearing this Lokanatha could not suppress his disappointment. Sighing heavily and crying pitifully, he lamented, “Oh Rupa, Sanatana, when will I be able to live with you?” Suddenly a voice replied: “We shall definitely come to Vrndavana soon.”
Eventually Gopala Bhatta and others did come to Vrndavana. I am lost for words to describe that joyous meeting and the immense pleasure they derived from each other’s association. Sri Rupa Gosvami greeted Lokanatha with great warmth and affection, dissipating the anguish of long separation from the Lord and His devotees.
In Sanatana Gosvami’s Vaisnava Tosani he mentions his attachment for Lokanatha: “I worship Srila Kasisvara, Lokanatha, and Sri Krsnadasa who have taken shelter at the lotus feet of the dear-most Deity in Vrndavana, Srila Govinda Deva.” Raghunatha Bhatta, Gopala Bhatta, Bhugarbha Gosvami, as well as many others, dearly loved Lokanatha. Together they spent many wonderful days in Sri Vrndavana Dhama relishing the highest pinnacles of devotional happiness. Lokanatha was fully engaged in the service of his worshipful Deities, Sri Sri Radha Vinode. How he obtained these deities I have explained in Bhakti-ratnakara (page 23). Once while serving his Deities, Lokanatha suddenly saw the madhurya rupa** of Sri Gaura amalgamated with that of Sri Radha Vinode. Later, in a dream, the Lord ** revealed everything regarding His own transcendental nature. Such deep spiritual realizations gave rise to intense emotions, thus whenever Lokanatha tried to describe the divine attributes of the Lord, he would lose his composure and simply roll on the ground, cursing himself for not having personally witnessed the Lord’s pastimes.
Krsnadasa Kaviraja requested Lokanatha’s permission for writing Caitanya Caritamrta, which he received with Lokanatha’s wholehearted enthusiasm, yet both he and Gopala Bhatta, forbade Krsnadasa from mentioning their names within the book.
I have heard all of these stories from some aged persons?? Whoever hears them is extremely fortunate. The merciful Lokanatha Gosvami remained in Vrndavana and later showered his blessings upon his dear disciple, Narottama dasa. By the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Lokanatha obtained the precious gem of love of Godhead:
“I worship the lotus feet of Lokanatha Prabhu whose is opulent with the wealth of Sri Krsna Caitanya’s blessings, and whose mind is bedecked with the ornaments of love.”
“I take shelter at the lotus feet of Lokanatha Prabhu who eternally resides in Vrndavana. He is always absorbed in loving devotional service, enchanted by the transcendental pastimes of Sri Krsna. ”
“I take refuge at the lotus feet of Lokanatha Prabhu who is completely indifferent to the pains and pleasures of this material world. His mercy was fully realized only by the great scholar Narottama dasa.”
All glories to Narottama dasa Thakura, the beloved disciple of Lokanatha Gosvami.
How the illustrious Narottama took his birth in the house of Krsnananda Datta, the elder brother of Sri Purusottama, I dare not discuss elaborately here. However, for your pleasure, I shall give a brief description.
Rupa and Sanatana lived in Ramakeli, a beautiful village in a pleasant area of Gaudadesh. Although acting as high ranking ministers in the court of the king, they were always absorbed in discussing scriptures with scholars and professors. Their genius and wisdom won them fame throughout the world. In the courts of Maharastra, Karnataka, Dravida, Tailanga, Utkala, Mithila, Gaura, Gujarata, Vanga, Kasi and Kashmir they were considered the greatest scholars. (I have explained this further in Bhakti-ratnakara). Being favorites of the king, the brothers had no shortage of wealth.
Meanwhile, Sri Gauracandra was performing His all-attractive pastimes in Navadvipa. Rupa and Sanatana happened to hear reports of the Lord’s activities and were spontaneously attracted. Immediately they began writing numerous letters to Mahaprabhu, while earnestly waiting for the opportunity to meet Him personally.
The Supreme Lord, who is bound only by the love of His devotees, soon also became anxious to meet Rupa and Sanatana. After accepting sannyasa, the Lord consoled his devotees, went to Nilacala and later to Vrndavana. When Mahaprabhu started for Gaudadesh millions of people ran behind him, thus He arrived at Ramakeli surrounded by hoards of devotees.
On hearing of Lord Caitanya’s arrival, Sanatana and Rupa, as well as Kesava Chatri and other friends, were overwhelmed with joy. The royal ministers, Rupa and Sanatana, could not contain their happiness and secretly rushed to meet the associates of Lord Caitanya. By the grace of Nityananda Prabhu they were introduced to Sri Krsna Caitanya. Who can describe the intense emotions of Rupa and Sanatana at that meeting? Sri Gauracandra happily welcomed them with sweet words, as Nityananda Prabhu, Haridasa, Vakresvara, Mukunda and others stood by watching with pleasure.
Mahaprabhu stayed there for a few days constantly surrounded by an ocean of ecstatic devotees who were eager to bath in the purifying waters of the Lord’s transcendental association. Not only the general mass of people were affected by the Lord, even the Yavana king was moved by Mahaprabhu’s presence.
One day while Caitanya Mahaprabhu was dancing with his associates during sankirtana, He suddenly looked in the direction of Sri Kheturi village. A peculiar look appeared on His face, tears whelmed up in His eyes, and He cried out the name “Narottama! Narottama!” again and again. The ocean of mercy, Nityananda Raya shouted in joy, and Haridasa, Vakresvara, and others were inexplicable filled with happiness.
Witnessing the unusual behavior of the Lord, the devotees began talking amongst themselves: “Prabhu is repeatedly calling out the name of someone called Narottama.”
“It seems that this Narottama is extremely dear to the Lord, perhaps he is about to take birth soon.”
“Oh who is that fortunate man who will have such a son?” “The woman who bears him within her womb is the most fortunate lady in the world.”
“Obviously, the Lord has plans for this Narottama to fulfill His mission.”
In this way the rumors of the appearance of Narottama spread far and wide. A similar event took place again when Mahaprabhu was traveling to Nilacala, suddenly he cried out the name of Srinivasa. [unclear] These topics became known to all and everyone waited eagerly anticipating the appearance of Narottama.
Oh listeners please hear attentively as Narahari dasa narrates Narottama Vilasa.