Sri Caitanya's Nectarian River Pastimes, Part 6


Prem Tali (Tamal Tali), where Narottam Das Thakur received Sri Caitanya's mercy
[ Photo: Vinacc@Blogspot ]

Oct 01, 2015 — CANADA (SUN) — Sri Caitanya's transcendental pastimes with rivers.

At a place near Navadvip where the Padma River was also known as the Ganges, there was the pastime of Narottama Dasa Thakur receiving the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu through the agency of the holy river.

'Narottama Dasa Thakura was a lifelong brahmachari. He was born in a Kayastha caste family, the son of King Shri Krishnananda Datta, who ruled the area of Gopalpura in Rajashahi district of modern day Bangladesh, his capital being Khetri on the Padma River. Narottama's mother was Narayani Devi, and he was born on the purnima in the month of Magha (January) 1520 AD.

From Narottama's early childhood he was always attracted to Shri Chaitanya. When Narottama was born the astrologers came, cast a chart, and said that either this boy will become a great king or a mendicant preacher. He was also trained in Sanskrit which he mastered in a very short time, and for this was very much renowned for his eloquence in the use of Sanskrit grammar, poetry, prosody etc.

At the age of twelve Narottama dasa Thakura had a vision of Lord Nityananda in a dream. He told Narottama to take bath in the Padma River whereupon he would receive love of Godhead. Following the instructions of Lord Nityananda, Narottama bathed in the Padma (Ganges), and the Goddess of the river appeared and on the order of Lord Chaitanya, gave him pure love of Godhead.'

In 'The Pastimes of Narottama Dasa Thakura' by Srila Narahari Chakravarti, from Sri Narottama Vilasa we find this brief description of the birth of the great Vaisnava, Narottama Dasa Thakur:

    "One day while Chaitanya 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, Vakreshvara, and others were inexplicably filled with happiness.

    The wheel of time turned, until finally, on the sixth hour of the full moon day in the month of Magha, when all auspicious signs were visible, Narottama dasa took birth to fulfill the mission of the Lord.

    His mother, radiant with beauty, wept joyfully as she lovingly gazed at the charming face of her son. An unearthly effulgence suddenly illuminated the entire delivery room, and happiness swelled in the hearts of everyone present. From that moment the village of Sri Kheturi became an auspicious place."

On the day when the astrologer made his predictions that the marks on his body indicated this child would be a great personality, the baby refused to eat the rice offered to him. The astrologer, recognizing what was happening, said "Don't worry, this baby will not accept food unless it has first been offered to Lord Vishnu." The rice was offered, and baby Narottama then accepted and ate it.

    "Narottama's sleep was then broken Narottama could not bear Mahaprabhu's disappearance, and he rolled on the ground in disappointment. Thus again, due to the Lord's wish, Narottama fell asleep. In his dream he saw Lord Chaitanya on the bank of the Ganges [Padma] in Navadvipa. He was enjoying His pastimes along with Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa, Svarupa, Narahari, Haridasa, Vakresvara, Mukunda, Murari, Govinda, Madhava, Vasu Ghosa, Shuklambara, Gauridasa, Sri Sanjaya, Damodara, Mahesha, Shankara, and Yadu Acarya. All of them surrounded Gauranga as they engaged in sankirtana, while the people of Navadvipa witnessed their divine pastimes. Eager to inspect this beautiful scene, even Brahma, Siva and other demigods and goddesses mingled with the crowd in disguise. Even the animals and birds were charmed. Those who were born blind were suddenly able to see and rushed to observe the extraordinary sankirtana performance.

    Seeing this wonderful fun, Narottama wept with joy. On seeing Narottama, Mahaprabhu Gaurachandra emotionally took him to His bosom and soaked Narottama with His tears. Narottama fell on Mahaprabhu's feet, and the Lord affectionately lifted him from the ground and put him in the care of Nityananda and Advaita. He also helped Narottama to obtain the mercy of His associates, and they all advised Narottama to go to Vrindavana. Narottama was unable to control his emotions.

    Observing the beauty of Nityananda, Narottama fell on His feet, and Nityananda put His feet on Narottama's head, blessing him with unconditional love for Sri Gauranga, then advised him to go to Vrindavana. Upon seeing the beauty of Advaita, Narottama fell at his feet. Advaita at once lifted Narottama and placed him at the lotus feet of Gauranga. Narottama bowed to the feet of Gadadhara, Srivasa and others, who also embraced him one by one. Narottama bathed in the tears of everyone. All of them encouraged Narottama to go to Vrindavana."

The images shown here are from Prem Tali (also known as Tamal Tali), near the place where this pastime of Srila Narottam Das Thakur took place. The Mandir is found at the bank of the Padma River where Narottam Das Thakur once bathed. From this river, Narottama Das at the age of 12 received prema, deposited by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself on the day of Narottama's birth.

It is interesting to note that while many narrations of the glories of the holy rivers refer to the devotee taking pilgrimage to these places, Srila Narottama dasa Thakur made one statement to the contrary. This is mentioned by Srila Prabhupada in his Bhaktivedanta purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4.6.25:

    "ŚrīlaNarottama dāsa Ṭhākura, a great ācārya of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava-sampradāya, advises us not to travel to different places of pilgrimage. Undoubtedly it is troublesome to go from one place to another, but one who is intelligent can take shelter of the lotus feet of Govinda and thereby be automatically sanctified as the result of his pilgrimage. Anyone who is fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Govinda is called tīrtha-pāda; he does not need to travel on various pilgrimages, for he can enjoy all the benefits of such travel simply by engaging in the service of the lotus feet of the Lord. Such a pure devotee, who has implicit faith in the lotus feet of the Lord, can create sacred places in any part of the world where he decides to remain."


Sri Narottama Vilasa, Srila Narahari Chakravarti; Wiki; Srimad Bhagavatam


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