Glories of Narottama Das Thakur :: 2-21-2008 Mayapur


Narottama Das Thakuravirbhava mahotsava ki jay!! All glories to the appearance day celebration of Srila Narottama Das Thakur.

Out of the many songs that Narottama Das Thakurhas written, there is a collection of songs called ‘lalasamayi prarthana’. Following is the song from this collection:

gauranga’ balite habe pulaka-sharira

‘hari hari’ balite nayane ba’he nira

ara kabe nitai-candera karuna haibe

samsara-vasana mora kabe tuccha ha’be

vishaya chadiya kabe shuddha ha’be mana

kabe hama heraba shri vrindavana

rupa-raghunatha-pade haibe akuti

kabe hama bujhaba se jugala piriti

rupa-raghunatha-pade rahu mora asha

prarthana karaye sada narottama dasa

H H Lokanath swami Maharaja reads and comments upon the purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada:

“This is a song sung by Narottama dasa Thakura, a great devotee and Acharya in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya, the disciplic succession coming down from Lord Caitanya. Narottama dasa Thakura has written many songs, which are recognized as authoritative by all the Vaishnavas. He has sung these songs in simple Bengali language, but the purport—the deep meaning of his songs—is very significant.”

In this song, he says, “Gauraga balite habe pulaka sarira” – when does one attain the perfection of chanting? – as soon as he chants the name of Gauranga, who inaugurated the sankirtana movement and at once there is shivering in his body. Of course it is not shivering due to cold, unlike us. (laughter). There was no external bodily cause for his shivering but Narottama das was shivering from within because his soul was trembling in ecstasy. This is not to be imitated. NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR is asking “When will that fortunate day come that I shall simply sing Lord Caitanya’s name and there will be shivering on my body as soon as I chant Lord Gauranga’s name?”

Then he says, “As soon as I shall chant ‘Hari Hari,’ or ‘Hare Krishna,’ there will be pouring down of tears from my eyes.” hari hari balite nayane bahe nira. That is the sequence. First there is shivering and then there will be tears in the eyes.

Then NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR is asking, “ara kabe nitai-candera karuna haibe”. We are all asking for the mercy of Lord Nityananda. Lord Nityananda is supposed to be the original spiritual master. So we have to approach Lord Gaurnaga through the mercy of Lord Nityananda. What is the symptom of the person who has achieved the mercy of Lord Nityananda? NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR says that the symptom of one who has actually received the mercy of Lord Nityananda that he has no more material desire. “samsara-vasana mora kabe tuccha ha’be”. Tuccha word is derived from the word ‘spit’. Tuccha means as insignificant as spitting. Srila Prabhupada once literally spat while giving a class in Calcutta. He was speaking the verse from Srimad Bhagavatam, 7.9.45 “yan maithunadi-grihamedhi-sukham hi tuccham” and then he spat. (Sex life is compared to the rubbing of two hands to relieve an itch. Grihamedhis, so-called grihasthas who have no spiritual knowledge, think that this itching is the greatest platform of happiness, although actually it is a source of distress.)

‘Sansar vasana’ means desire for material enjoyment. NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR wonders “When my desire for material enjoyment will be insignificant, non-important – tuccha.’’ Of course, as long as we have material bodies, there are so many material needs. We do not fulfill our needs in the spirit of enjoyment, but only to keep body and soul together.

NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR says further, “rupa-raghunatha-pade haibe akuti”, “Beginning from Rupa Gosvami down to Raghunatha dasa Gosvami,” pade, “at their lotus feet. When I shall be eager to be attached at their lotus feet;” Akuti means eagerness. Srila Rupa gosvami is the father of devotional service. He has written a book called Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu in which he has given directions on devotional service. These topics are also dealt with in Caitanya Caritamrita and other books. We have summary of those directions in our book, ‘teachings of Lord Caitanya’.

One has to learn the conjugal loving affairs of Radha and Krishna through the teachings of these six gosvamis. NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR directs us not to try to understand the conjugal love affair of Radha and Krishna by our own efforts. We should try to understand this jugal priti under the direction of the gosvamis. As long as the mind is too much absorbed in materialistic thoughts, one cannot enter the kingdom of Vrindavana. But NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR says, “vishaya chadiya kabe shuddha ha’be mana, kabe hama heraba shri vrindavana” “When my mind will be completely purified, uncontaminated from the material contamination, at that time it will be possible for me to see what Vrindavana is.” When my mind will be completely purified, free from material anxieties and desires, I will be able to understand Vrindavana. Then I will understand the conjugal love of Radha and Krishna and then my spiritual life will be successful.

So this song is a glimpse of the life and teachings of NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR– It reveals the thoughts of Narottama, his emotions, feelings – in summary this song is a glimpse into the consciousness of NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR. “gauranga balite kabe..” His heart is full of thoughts like this, always. They are revealed to us through his writing. Thus we could read his thoughts in black and white. Hearing them we get to know NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR. Vaishnavera kriya mudra.. very difficult to understand. (CC Madhya 23.39 – Even the most learned man cannot understand the words, activities and symptoms of a person situated in love of Godhead.). Just by looking at a Vaishnava you may not understand him and his exhibition of activities like trembling of his body, rolling on the ground and other ashta-vikaras. His exhibition of these activities is not with a purpose that others will take note of it or take his photographs or video etc. He does not care for these things. The vaishnava may try to contain his emotions and yet some of his emotions may spill out. They come out in the form of the ashta vikaras. His soul is in contact with Supreme soul and what transpires through this communication or linking (yoga) with the Supreme (yoga) is the symptoms like trembling etc. The result is Hari Hari balite nayane babe nira. The love of Godhead overflowing within the heart of the vaishnava starts to drip out of the eyes in the form of tears. Tears of love of Godhead.

Thus through such songs, we get to know personalities like NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR. I don’t know how much we really get to know because it is not easy to know a vaishnava. Just as it is difficult to know the Supreme Lord, it is equally difficult to know the devotee of the Lord. In fact, the more we understand a devotee of the Lord, the more we can understand Krishna. The more we understand devotee and our spiritual master, the more we understand Krishna. If we fully understand the devotee, we can also fully understand Krishna, as much as a human being could possibly know. Prabhupada says, even Krishna does not fully know Himself fully. He is ever changing, ever growing, and ever expanding. So how much could we, living entities can know Krishna? We can know Krishna to the degree we know pure devotees, to the degree we know vaishnavas, and to the degree we know our spiritual master. “Saksat Haritvena samasta sastrair..” Krishna is sanatana Hari, Gaura Hari, and the spiritual master is saksat Hari.

Knowing Krishna is also possible by knowing dham, being able to see dham, or being able to reside in the dham. In the words of Narrotatma das Thakur in this song, “vishaya chadiya kabe shuddha ha’be mana, kabe hama heraba shri vrindavana” . One who is able to see Vridavana or Mayapur as it is and is able to finally stay at these places; not just as visitor but resident of these places can really know Krishna. However in spite of being resident, if one’s mind goes to various other places from Mayapur to Calcutta, from Mayapur to London, then it is of no use. Hence, NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR says, “When my mind will be freed from the contamination of this material enjoyment and I shall be purified, then it will be possible for me to see Vrindavana as it is.” When my mind will be suddha or pure, then my chanting of the holy names will also be pure – without offence. It will lead to shuddha bhakti, purified devotion.

Devotional service could be performed when my mind will pure (shuddha). This is all for us, and not for NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR. This song are his instructions to us. You do not even have to refer to scriptures. His songs ARE scriptures!

Jagannatha Das Babaji used to say, spiritual realizations are very cheap nowadays. How much cheap? Oh, you just give 50 paise and buy the books of Narottama das Thakur’s songs. Just read and sing those songs and you will have realizations, you will get all clarity and you will be on your way back home, back to Godhead.

All the teachings of the Vedas are there in the songs of NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR. He made it easier. Sanskrit is difficult to understand. You can just sing the songs that deal with all spiritual topics. He writes the songs dedicated to vaishnavas, to his spiritual master who is like his life and soul, to Gauanga, and to Radha and Krishna. These songs are famous everywhere – Orissa, Bengal.. and Prabhupada made them famous all over the world. In every town and village, they are known as Narottama dasa’s songs. Even if they may not know the Vedas or Upanisadas, they know Narottama dasa Thakura’s songs! Thus they have access to the Vedas, to the sastras when they read and sing songs of Narottama Das.

Everything is there in the songs. We get a glimpse of that knowledge depending upon how much surrendered and purified our minds and souls are. To the degree of purity of our minds, we can understand the songs of Narottama das. Even one song is enough to realize and go back to Krishna. Through his songs, we can understand his emotions, his devotional mood and deep purport of his songs can help us understand Radha Krishna.. “Radha-Krishna prana mor yugal kisor”

Srila Prabhupada gave us these gifts of songs of Narottama Das Thakur and Srila Bhaktivinod thakur. Now those songs are all over the planet. Soon the songs of NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR in coming 5000 years will reach every town and village. Not just the mahamantra. Maha mantra will reach every town and village along with these songs. By then news will be out about NAROTTAMA DAS THAKUR and his songs. He was not just another devotee. Just to be a devotee is not a small thing. But he is not just another devotee or another associate but direct contemporary of Caitanya maharpabhu.

Narottama Das Thakur’s transcendental life:

He appeared in 1531, three years prior to disappearance of Sri Caitanya mahaprabhu on a full moon day. Today is that full moon day of Magh purnima. Caitanya mahaprabhu appeared on Phalgun purnima and Narottama Thakur appeared on Magh purnima which is one month prior to Gaura purnima. Once, Caitanya Mahaprabhu was in the kirtan and the kirtan stopped in the middle. CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU was in full ecstasy, His body trembling and tears gliding down His cheeks, He pointed to the village Kheturi gram and shouted “Narottama, Narottama..”. these were the words of CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU. All the devotees were wondering what happened. So they concluded that the Lord is indicating the appearance of some personality called Narottama. When CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU uttered the name of Narottama on His lips, it appeared very auspicious to the devotees. This also gives another glimpse of Narottama’s personality to see how CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU was attached to Narottama.

CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU entered the river called Padmavati (now in Bangla desh). The Lord filled Padmavati with love of Godhead. He instructed Padmavati, “I am leaving this prema with you. This is meant to be given to a very special person. Only to that person, you deliver this prema. She asked, How would I know who is that person? Mahaprabhu assured her, you would know. When this person enters your waters, it will flood, not because of rainy season or something but you will just rise and expand by the entrance of that person. So to that person you give this prema. That is what happened. When Narottama entered the waters of Padmavati, the river swelled and flooded and she remembered the instructions and gave the Krishna prema to Narottama. The Lord personally invested His preme into Padmavati’s waters until this personality of Narottama could come.

Narottama Das Thakurappeared as a prince, Krishnananda Datta. The king and his wife Naraynai gave birth to this very special child, very beautiful. We may end up thinking he might have been more beautiful than I am! (laughter). But no one had ever seen a beautiful child like Narottama. He had different features. His body was golden, his naval was deep. His eyes were wide like blooming lotus. Not a word jugglery but literally. His arms were long, reaching his knees. Certainly there was no match to his beauty. Upon his anna-prasan ceremony (feeding grains for the first time), he refused to accept. Soon the parents realized that those grains were not offered to the Lord. As they offered it to the Lord and brought him the maha-prasad, he gobbled it up. Even as a child he was teaching what to eat and what not to eat. He was sent to school. He was a brilliant student – shrutidhar – with a photographic memory. He soon became a very learned pandit in Sanskrit grammar and poetry.

He came in contact with Gauranga bhaktas and he started listening to Gauranga lilas. He got attracted to the personality of Sri Gauranga and Nityananda prabhu. He began chanting Their names and was very eager to find them and meet them. Lord Gauranga gave him darshan in dream in sankirtana as Pancha tattva. Soon Narottama lost all attraction for anything worldly. The family members became afraid about his leaving home and going away. So they decided to get him married. Surely, they thought, if he is married he will be bound. Bound by kama-pash – by the ropes of lust.

However Narottama was thinking of only going to Vrindavana. Family members kept guards to keep a strict watch on him so that he may not run away to Vrindavana. One day the king of Bengal sent a message to Narottama’s father. His father along with his brother left for Navadvipa to see the king. Narottama thought it as a good opportunity to run away and he did. He went to Vrindavana dham. On the way all the pilgrims were treating him nicely. However the guards searched for him and found him. Narottama fed them nice Prasad and told them Gaura katha so well that they forgot their job of grabbing him and bringing him home. They did not do that assignment and Narottama was able to head toward Mathura.

Then he reached Mathura. Upon reaching there, he heard the news! Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana gosvami were no more! He was so anxious. “Rupa Raghunatha pade hoibe akuti” he wrote. He was dreaming and thinking day and night, when that day would appear when I get to meet with Rupa and Raghunatha and so many other devotees in Vrindavana. We could imagine about Narottama’s reaction to that news. As if a thunderbolt had struck him. He lamented and fell unconsciousness. Knowing his thoughts, Rupa and Raghunatha and others appeared before him and gave him darshan even though they were not physically present.

Then he moved on to Vrindavana. In fact there was a prediction that Narottama would arrive on one of these days and Jiva Gosvami was expecting him. As he arrived, Jiva gosvami was one of first personalities to welcome Narottama and bring him to Radha Govinda temple. Then he saw some of remaining associates of Gauranga Mahaprabhu.

Narottama was searching for his guru. By this time, Narottama was studying under Srila Jiva gosvami. Jiva gosvami is Narottama’s shiksha guru, the instructing spiritual master. He was also serving Lokanath gosvami incognito. When Lokanath gosvami would take care of his daily bodily cleaning, Narottama would secretly go to that place and would clean that area thoroughly well. Days and months had passed like this. Finally Lokanath swami noticed it and found out who was secretly cleaning the area after he took care of his body? He came to know that it was none other than Narottama. Finally that connection was made. Narottama was initiated by Lokanath gosvami. Initially Lokanath gosvami had a vow of not making any single disciple of his own. However Narottama was insisting that he must have Lokanath gosvami as his spiritual master. They were both determined. Finally Lokanath gosvami gave up his vow. Narottama found his spiritual master.

Narottama wrote a song about the guru, “sri guru charan padma kevala bhakti sadma vando mui savadan mate”. (maharaja asks everyone to read the purport to this song). Srila Prabhupada selected this song for the daily ‘Guru pooja’. Every word, every line is so much important.

The lotus feet of our spiritual master are the only way by which we can attain pure devotional service. I bow to his lotus feet with great awe and reverence. By his grace one can cross the ocean of material suffering and obtain the mercy of Krishna.

My only wish is to have my consciousness purified by the words emanating from his lotus mouth. Attachment to his lotus feet is the perfection that fulfills all desires.

He opens my darkened eyes and fills my heart with transcendental knowledge. He is my Lord birth after birth. From him ecstatic prema emanates; by him ignorance is destroyed. The Vedic scriptures sing of his character.

ur spiritual master is the ocean of mercy, the friend of the poor, and the lord and master of the devotees. O master! Be merciful unto me. Give me the shade of your lotus feet. Your fame is spread all over the three worlds.

My spiritual master is the final destination for me. My destination is his lotus feet, uttama gati. When I reach the lotus feet of my spiritual master, I will also reach the lotus feet of Krishna. His lotus feet will bring me to the lotus feet of Krishna. By the mercy of my guru, I will achieve Krishna.

One day in Vrindavana, one Gopi like beautiful lady approached Narottama and told him, “your service in Vrindavana is to boil milk”. Narottama approached his guru and mentioned to him that such and such lady told me that my service in Vrindavana was to boil milk. He asked his guru what was the meaning of that. Lokanath gosvami said, first of all, that lady is not just an ordinary lady. It is Radha rani. She has revealed your eternal service in Vrindavana. Narottama is actually “chamak-manjari” from the spiritual world of Goloka Vrindavana and the particular service of this manjari is to boil milk!

One day he was in his transcendental service of boiling milk for Radha rani. He was in trance and the milk started overflowing due to his meditation. He tried to put off the fire to stop overflowing of milk and his fingers got burnt. Soon he was out of that trance or absorption in service. Suddenly he came back to his external consciousness. He tried to hide his burnt finger as he did not want others to know about this transcendental service. But the news spread and others came to know the position of Narottama.

He kept studying there under srila Jiva gosvami. By this time, Shyamananda and Srinivas acharya were also studying. Jiva gosvami was thinking that his disciples should go on Vraja mandal parikrama. Soon after he had this thought, he saw Raghav gosvami of Vrindavana. He stayed near Vrindavana in a cave, which is still there. Raghav gosvami was also preparing to go on this parikrama. Srila Jiva gosvami requested him to take along Shyamananda, Srinivas acharaya and Narottama das with him on Vraja mandal parikrama. There is a description of this parikrama in Bhakti Ratnakar. It describes of their experiences; every few steps they would roll on the ground, their bodies trembling and tears flowing from their eyes. They went around Vraja like this hearing about Radha and Krishna, different pastimes, and wetting all the dust of Vraja with their tears which they were constantly shedding.

Jiva gosvami instructed them to go on the preaching mission with the books. Narottama also visited Mayapur, Shantipur, Puri, and then his hometown. By this time his father was no more. The area was being ruled by another king, named Santosh. The king greeted Narottama with great reverence. This king had association of Narottama Das Thakurfor some time and he became initiated disciple of Narottama das along with so many other prominent persons. However Narottama was not born in brahmana family. The then existing smarta brahmanas took objection to this initiation process saying how could Narottama do this. They decided to visit him for a debate. When they came to his village, there were so many learned disciples of Narottama, having taken up various occupations of vaishya category. When Smarta brahmanas entered the town, they happened to meet with all these disciples of Narottama Das Thakurat in various market places. All the disciples were speaking in Sanskrit! They had dialogs with the brahmanas and defeated the brahmanas in debate. The smarta brahmanas thought that these are just the disciples of Narottama; they are doing all sorts of occupations, and yet they are so learned. Thus they realized the position of Narottama das and did not go to debate with him.

First ever Gaura Purnima festival: Then Narottama das decided to celebrate the first ever Gaura purnima festival with great pomp. There were many temple opening events, deity installation was going on. This was the first ever gaura purnima festival and devotees from all over arrived. The whole festival lifted everyone’s consciousness. The main objective of festival was to raise consciousness of the devotees who were present in the festival. Narottama led an ecstatic kirtan. Vaishnavas were playing musical instrument, touching each other’s feet, they all were singing in the kirtan with right raga and right bhava. How can we describe that kirtan? It was practically out of this world! Pancha tattva Personalities from another world descended and joined Narottama’s kirtan. Meeting of the two worlds took place without any barriers. Even though Caitanya mahaprabhu, Nityananda prabhu and other members of Pancha tattva had already left this mortal world, everyone assembled there saw all these personalities joining the kirtan. Jahnava mata, Nityananda prabhu’s consort also saw Him. Advaita acharaya’s sons saw Advaita acharya. Finally kirtan stopped and everyone was back in their normal worldly position. They felt the absence of all these divine persoanalities and they fell unconscious as if having lost their lives, not being able to see again Mahaprabhu and Nityananda prabhu.

Jahnava mataji cooked feast and served everyone in the Gaura purnima festival. She was the acharya of gaudiya vaishnavas. That time there were many differences of opinion, many interpretations in understanding of the vaishnava philosophy after Mahaprabhu’s disappearance. During this festival, Jahnava mata, through ista gosti, reconciled everything, establishing the final conclusions and thus unified all the vaishanvas present at this festival at Kheturi dham. Then they played holi, throwing colors with the Deities. In this way Narottama Das Thakurorganized the first ever, grand Gaura purnima festival.

Our Gaura purnima festival is beginning now, ending after one month on Gaura purnima day. So please meditate upon this first ever Gaura purnima festival and on the life of Srila Narottama das thakur!!

Hari bol!

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