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Radhika Carana-Renu (Word)
Sri Prarthana (RTF)
Sri Prema-bhakti-candrika (Word)
"Narottama Dasa Thakura was a lifelong brahmacari. He visited all the holy places and the was the best of pure devotees. On the banks of the Padmavati river, in the town of Gopalpura lived King Krsnanda Datta. His older brother was Purusottama Datta. The wealth and fame of these two brothers was beyond compare. King Krsnananda's son was Sri Santosa Datta. In the month of Magha, onthe day of sukla-pancami, Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura took his birth. Seeing many auspicious omens surrounding the birth of his son, Raja Krsnananda was very pleased, and gave lavishly in charity to the brahmanas. The brahmanas, seeing all the auspicious signs surrounding the child's birth, prophesied that the boy was a highly perfected soul and great personality, by whose influence many people would be delivered.
Just as a crescent moon gradually becomes full the king's son grew more effulgent and beautiful with each passing day. His bodily luster was just like molten gold. His eyes were large and shaped like lotus petals. His arms extended to his knees and he had a deep navel. All these are the bodily symptoms of a mahapurusa, a great personality. All the local townspeople used to gather to take darsana of the beautiful and saintly child. Soon, the boy's anna-prasanna-samskara, or grain-eating ceremony was held. At that time, in order to insure auspiciousness and a bright future for his son, King Krsnananda gave much charity.
The king's wife's name was Sri Narayani Devi. Having given birth to such a wonderful son, she was floating in the ocean of ecstasy. She always kept the boy close to her and was always concerned for his well-being, caring for him constantly. The boy was extremely peaceful. Wherever his mother put him, he would quietly stay put. Within the ladies quarters, the ladies used to nurture and care for the child with great ecstasy. Gradually the day of his entrance into school (Hate-Khari) approached. As his schooling went on, everyone was astonished at his amazing intelligence. Simply by hearing a subject once from his gurus he would commit it to memory. In only a short time, he mastered the study of Sanskrit grammar, poetry, rhetoric, and became expert in many different scriptures. But gradually he saw as useless any knowledge which did not promote Hari-bhajan, and soon lost interest in everything but Krishna consciousness. He found that in previous times the learned, who understood what real knowledge is, left everything, renouncing the world of birth and death, and went off to the forest in order to worship the Supreme Lord, Hari. Day after day, Narottama began to think of how he could become free from family life and constantly engage himself in the Lord's service. He was indifferent to all material enjoyment; where most children usually like to play, he was uninterested in playing games. At this time, hearing the glories of Shri Nityananda and Shri Gauranga, from the lotus lips of the devotees of the Lord, his heart was filled with spiritual joy. As if he had been given new life, he felt great ecstasy. Within a few days of hearing the wonderful qualities of Gaura and Nityananda, he began to chant their holy names in japa day and night. One night the merciful Shri Gaurasundara, surrounded by his eternal associates appeared to Narottam in a dream and gave him darshan.
After this, in order to understand how to become free from family life, Narottam das Thakura began to think day and night of how he could go to Vrindavan. Narottama has prayed, "Hari Hari! kabe haba Vrindavanavasi?" O Hari, when will I become a resident of Vrindavana? When will I serve the beautiful divine couple in Vrindavana with tears in my eyes? In this way, Narottama would constantly sing. Seeing Narottama's indifference to all sense pleasure and his intense renunciation, King Krishnananda and Narayani Devi began to think about what to do with him. Seeing that he was not inclined towards family life, and that he might soon leave home unexpectedly to go to Vrindavan they became very worried. They employed a guard to watch over him, so that he couldn't leave. Narottama Das saw that the difficulties involved in escaping were becoming more impassable than the Himalayas, and thought that he might never be able to go to Vrindavana and absorb himself in the worship of the holy feet of Sri Gauranga. Thinking only of how to get the mercy of Shri Gaura-Nityananda, he began to pray very earnestly for guidance from them. And so it came to pass that some messengers came from the Ruler of Bengal, informing King Krishnananda that the ruler of Bengal wanted to meet with him. In order to meet with the Ruler of Bengal, Raja Krishnananda and his brother Purushottama Datta set out on a long journey to the court of the Ruler of Bengal.
Narottama took advantage of the moment, thinking it to be a good opportunity to leave home. At that time, he secretly left his mother and his protectors, turned towards Vrindavan and began his journey to that holy land. It was on the full moon day in the month of Kartika that Narottama Thakura left his family behind. Passing through Bengal in a short time, he soon found himself on the road to Mathura. All the other pilgrims he would meet were very affectionate toward Narottama, as they could recognize him as the son of the king. He would sometimes live by drinking milk and sometimes would eat the roots and fruits as he went along. His constant hankering to see Vrindavan made his hunger and thirst go away. As he moved from place to place, he would hear the glories of Gaura and Nityananda from the mouths of many devotees. In this way he was always thinking about their lotus feet, constantly absorbed in meditation. As he walked and walked, he prayed to the lotus feet of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, as he has written: "ara kabe nitai chand...." "When will Nityananda show his mercy to me and free me from the world of birth and death? By his mercy one may give up material enjoyment and purify his mind. In this way, by the mercy of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, one can attain Vrindavana."
In this way, walking and walking, Narottama das arrived in Mathura and, seeing the Yamuna, he offered many prayers. Remembering the names of the Six Goswamis headed by Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana, he began to weep in ecstasy. Gradually he came to Vrindavan itself and entered into that holy land. He was sent by Sri Jiva Goswami to serve the lotus feet of Lokanatha Goswami. Lokanatha Maharaj was very ancient, and was so deeply agonized by the pain of separation from Sri Gauranga that it was as if his very life had been taken away. Narottama offered his obeisances to the lotus feet of Sri Lokanatha and Lokanatha asked him, "Who are you?" Narottama said, "I am your fallen servant. I wish to serve your lotus feet." Lokanatha replied, "How can I, who am unable to serve Gaura-Nityananda, accept any service?"
After this, Narottama Thakura would secretly go in the middle of the night to the place where Lokanatha Maharaj would pass stool and urine, and cleanse the area, maintaining everything there very nicely. After a year of serving in this way, his service was recognized by Lokanatha Goswami, and bestowed his mercy upon Narottama Thakura. On the full moon day of the month of Sravana, he initiated Narottama Thakura as his disciple.
He used to eat by practicing madhukari, and would study the Goswami scriptures under the guidance of Shri Jiva Goswami. Srinivas Acharya was his dear friend, and together the two of them used to study under Jiva Goswami. At that time Shyamananda Prabhu arrived from Gauda-Desh; he also began studying the Goswami's scriptures under the guidance of Shri Jiva Goswami. These three with one mind performed their bhajan in Vrindavana and yet still they felt that their inner aspiration had not attained its complete fulfillment. One day Jiva Gosami called the three of them to him and said "In the future, you must preach the message of Sriman Mahaprabhu far and wide. Taking the literatures of the Goswamis you must quickly go to Bengal and begin preaching."
The three of them gave up their residence in Vrindavana and accepting the order of their guru on their heads. Taking the treasured scriptures of the Goswamis with them they started on their journey to Bengal. As continued on their way, gradually they came to Vanavishnupur. In Vanavishnupur lived a king of dacoits and thieves named Shri Birhambir. At night he had the scriptures stolen, thinking them to be treasure of some kind. Awakening in the morning and seeing the scriptures stolen, the three of them felt as if their heads had been hit by a thunderbolt. Miserable beyond description, the three of them began seraching the four directions for the scriptures, until finally news came to them that King Birhambir had stolen the books and was keeping them hidden in his royal storehouse. At this, Shri Shyamananda Prabhu headed for Utkala and Narottama started for Kheturigram, while Shrinivas Acharya stayed behind, thinking to somehow deliver the Goswami's books from the King's storehouse.
In order to see the holy birthplace of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Narottama went to quickly visit Nabadwipa. Arriving there, he began chanting "O Gaurahari! O Gaurahari!" on the banks of the Ganges hundreds and hundreds of times and offered many prayers to the Lord. Sitting beneath the shade of a Tal tree, he began to wonder "Where is the actual place of Shri Caitanya's birth?" He sat there for some time, thinking of what to see next. Just then, an old brahmana happened to walk by. Narottama rose to his feet to show respect to the brahmana. The brahmana said, "Baba, from where have you come? What is your name?"
Narottama introduced himself and expressed his desire to see the holy birthplace of Shri Chaitanya.
The brahmana replied, "Today my life has become auspicious, for before my eyes is a dear devotee of Shri Chaitanya."
Narottam said, "Baba! You have seen Chaitanya??"
The brahmana replied, "What are you saying! Every day Nimai Pandit sits with his disciples at this ghat and discusses the shastra, and then, from a distance I watch him and wonder at the beauty of his divine form. Today I remember seeing that very form sitting beneath this tree here, where he sits every day." As the brahman spoke, tears of ecstasy poured from his eyes.
Narottama said, "Baba! It is the fortune of a lifetime that I have beheld you with these eyes." Saying this, tears fell from his eyes also, and, falling to the ground, Narottama touched the brahmana's feet to his head.
The brahman said, "Baba! I give you my blessings that soon you will attain devotion to the lotus feet of Govinda. At that time, you will preach the glories of Gaura-Govinda far and wide."
After this, the brahmana showed Narottam Das the path to where the house of Jagannatha Mishra was. Finding that path, Shri Narottama walked until he came to the house of Jagannatha Mishra. Ariving at the house of Jagannatha Mishra, he fell down at the door with tears in his eyes and offered his full obeisances, while reciting various prayers in glorification of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Entering within the house he had darshan of the lotus feet of Shuklambara Brahmacari. Narottama offered his respects to his feet. From different signs, Suklambara Cakravarti could understand that Narottam was an agent of Sri Chaitanya's mercy. He asked, "Who are you?"
Narottama introduced himself, explaining that he had been living in Vrindavana under the care of Jiva Goswsami and Lokanatha Goswami, and that he had just arrived in Nabadwipa. Shri Lokanatha said, "Baba, you have come from Vrindavan? You were with Lokanatha and Jiva Goswami?" At length, he made Narottama rise, and embraced him heartily, barraging him with endless questions about the well-being, activities, and good health of the Goswamis. In this way he talked on and on with Narottama, as he wanted to hear all about Vrindavana and everything that was going on there. Finally, Narottama got to meet Ishan Thakura, the old servant of Shri Shacimata, and upon meeting him, he offered his prayers of respect at his holy feet and introduced himself. Shri Ishan Thakura touched Narottama's head, bestowing his blessings upon him, and then embraced him affectionately. After this, Narottama met Shri Damodara Pandit and offered his respects to him. After this, narottama went to the house of Shrivas Pandit and offered his respects to Shripati and Shrinidhi Pandit. All of them affectionately embraced Narottama. After staying for a few days in Mayapura, Narottama went to visit the house of Advaita in Shantipura. There he offered his respects at the lotus feet of Acyutananda. Acyutananda introduced himself and inquired after the health and wellbeing of the Vrindavan Goswamis.
After staying in Shantipura for two days, he went on to Ambika Kalna to the house of Gauridas Pandit. At that time, Shri Hridaya Chaitanya Prabhu was staying there. He was the disciple of Gauridas Pandit. Shri Narottama offered his respects to Hridaya Chaitanya. The two of them affectionately embraced and Narottam gave him news of the activities of the Goswamis in Vrindavan. After staying in Ambika Kalna for a day, he went on to the place where the Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati meet-a village called Saptagram. In that place Uddharana Datta Thakura lived. Shri Nityananda Prabhu had previously given his mercy to the residents of Saptagram, and so all the people there were great devotees. After the disappearance of Uddharana Datta Thakura, the people in the village felt like they had lost their vision. Shri Narottama went to the house of Uddharana Datta Thakura and there, he found that the devotees were absorbed in separation from their guru, in great agony passing their days. Narottama Das offered his respects to all the Vaishnavas there and continued on his way to Kharadaha Gram.
In Kharadaha Gram Shri Nityananda Prabhu had a residence where his two energies, Shri Vasudha and Jahnava Devi lived. Shri Narottama went to the house of Nityananda and remembering the sublime holy name of Nityananda his voice choked up in ecstasy. Shri Parameshvari Das Thakura took Shri Narottama within the inner portion of the house reserved for women and brought him to the lotus feet of Shri Jahnava Mata and Shri Vasudha. Having been introduced to Narottama, who they could understand had received the mercy of Lokanatha and Jiva Goswami, they bestowed their mercy upon him. It is said in the Bhakti-Ratnakara that Both Vasu, who was the knower of all truths, and Shri Jahnava, who is the Supreme Mistress, bestowed their incomparable mercy upon Narottama.
Four days later, Narottama, after having spent much time discussing Krishna-katha in great ecstasy with Shri Jahnava and Vasu, bade them farewell and left for the town of Khanakula Krishna-nagara to see the place of Abhiram Gopal Thakura. Having met him, Narottam offered his respects to the holy feet of Abhiram Gopal. He was passing his days in the great pain of separation from Shri Caitanya and Nityananda. He had become extremely internal, barely spending any time in the plane of external consciousness. Seeeing him in that condition, Narottam wept a great deal. The Gopinath Deity of Abhiram Thakura was wonderful to see. Narottam took darshan of the deity and recited many prayers and verses in praise of the Lord before the deity. The next day, after taking his leave of the house of Abhiram Gopal, Narottam had some inspiration from within and set out for Jagannatha Puri.
Constantly absorbed in thinking of the eternal associates of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, it seemed to Narottama that he reached in Jagannatha Puri in no time at all. Shri Gopinath Acharya and many other devotees, seeing Narottam on the path all went out to greet him on the road. In this way, surrounded by devotees, he arrived in Jagannatha Puri. After Shri Narottama had paid his obeisances at te lotus feet of Gopinatha Acarya and the Acarya had warmly embraced him, Gopinath Acarya said, "This very day I was hoping that you might arrive." Soon Narottam and all the devotees from Vrindavan and Bengal began talking on and on about Krishna, Gauranga, the Goswamis and many other things. All the devotees were very happy to have Narottam in their midst, and they took him to have darshan in the temple of Jagannatha. While taking darshan of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, Narottama offered many fine prayers in their glorification and bowed down before them again and again.
After this he went to the samadhi of Haridas Thakura and upon arriving there began to drown in the ocean of Shri Krishna Prema. After this he went to the house of Gadadhara Pandit, and began to shout at the top of his lungs in a loud voice, "O life and soul of Gauranga! O Gadadhara!" Thereafter he took darshan of the Tota Gopinath deity and offered his respects at the lotus feet of Shri Mamu Goswami Thakur who was at that time engaged in the service of Shri Gopinatha.
Thereafter, Shri Narottama Das Thakura drew near to that part of the Gopinath deity where it is said that Mahaprabhu entered into, when he disappeared from this earth by entering into the deity in the presence of his devotees. This is recorded in Bhakti-Ratnakara: "It is difficult to understand the movements of that crown jewel of sannyasis, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Upon his disappearance, all of a sudden the earth became dark. He entered into the Gopinatha mandir and never came out. In this way he left the visible plane and entered into the invisible plane." (B.R. 8:357).
Lives of the Vaisnava Saints by Steven J. Rosen