Narottama dasa Thakura
Narottama dasa Thakura Brief Biography:
Appearing as the son of a king, Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura (Sri Thakura Mahasaya) showed all the bodily symptoms of a mahapurusa (an exalted divine person). He had long arms, a deep navel, golden-complexion, beautiful eyes shaped like the lotus petals. In school, he was a sruti dhara (able to memorize whatever he hears) Although he quickly mastered Sanskrit and the Vedas, he hankered to serve Krishna. He was a lifelong brahmacari.
By the mercy of the holy name Gaura-Nitai, Narottama became detached, left his opulent family, and ran to Vrndavana. He took diksa from Sri Lokanatha Gosvami and siksa in Gaudiya philosophy from Sri Jiva Gosvami.
When he arrived in Navadvipa-dhama all the devotees asked him about the health and activities of the Gosvamis in Vrndavana. They were eager to hear the news from Vrndavana. After visiting all of Gauranga’s pastime places in Gaura Mandala, Narottama Dasa did the same in Sri Ksetra Dhama (Jagannatha Puri). Then he went to see the devotees and Sri Caitanya’s pastime spots in Santipura, Sri Khanda, Kanthak Nagar, Ekacakra, and Kheturi Gram.
In Kheturi, Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura arranged the famous Kheturi Mahotsava. This was the first “Gaura-Purnima” festival to honor the divine appearance day of Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. During the festival six Deities were installed: Sri Gauranga Deva, Sri Vallabhi Kanta, Sri Vraja Mohana, Sri Krishna, Sri Radha Kanta, Sri Radha Ramana.
With his sweet voice Narottama Dasa began a wonderful kirtana. His chanting filled the heavens, and brought down tears of prema from the eyes of the devotees, who were all sporting in the ocean of ecstasy. “In the midst of their kirtana, the munificent Sri Caitanya Himself and all His personal associates appeared and joined in the sankirtana. Like a flash of lightning in the midst of a mass of beautiful blue clouds, Sri Caitanya Himself appeared in the crowd of devotees through a divine manifestation.” (Bhakti-ratnakar)
“At that time, although Mahaprabhu had left this world years before, many different devotees saw Mahaprabhu in different ways. Those of Sri Navadvipa dhama saw Him more intimately as Nimaicandra or Visvambhara, as they knew Him during His youth. Those devotees were attracted to Mahaprabhu in sakhya and vatsalya rasa. The followers of the six Gosvamis, who only knew Mahaprabhu as a sannyasi, related to Him in the mood of dasya rasa. And hundreds of devotees also worshiped Lord Caitanya in an aisvarya mood of awe and reverence.
“This festival is considered a major achievement in Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Hundreds and hundreds of devotees were invited, including direct disciples of Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, and Advaita Acarya. At this time, many differences existed in the interpretation of Gaudiya Vaisnavism. Acaryarani Jahnava Devi came from Kardaha with her entourage. Presiding over all the Vaisnavas, she resolved their diverse conclusions into one consistent Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy.
“For the first time, the festival featured many kirtana styles which integrated the glorification of Lord Caitanya with the glorification of Lord Krishna and His pastimes. And because so many Vaisnavas were present at one place, it automatically made the Kheturi festival extraordinary. It also acted as an important step toward unifying all the Gaudiya Vaisnavas.” (Sri Navadvipa-dhama parikrama)
Narottama Dasa Thakura wrote many devotional songs about the spiritual master, the devotees, devotional service, the six Gosvamis, Gaura-Nityananda and Radha-Krishna. Although composed with sweet melodies in simple Bengali language, Narottama Dasa’s songs give sastric siddhanta and devotional inspiration. Srila Prabhupada often sang these bhajanas. Considering them non-different from Vedic sastra, He quoted them in his Bhagavatam lectures. Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-candrika are Narottama’s most famous works.
The following excerpt comes from Prema-bhakti-candrika: “Radha and Krishna are my goal in life and death, and They are the masters of my breath. Performing my bhajana only for Them, I rise and fall in the ocean of prema. I pray that I can always maintain this conception within my heart as my highest ideal.
“Let me serve the lotus feet of Radha-Govinda. Let my mind be filled with dedication to Their divine forms that defeat the beauty of Cupid and Rati. With a straw between my teeth I fall at Their divine feet and present my humble appeal: ‘O Kishora-Kishori! O son of Nanda Maharaja — Syamasundara! And O daughter of King Vrsabhanu, Sri Radha. You enchant even Hari, and Your bodily complexion is the color of a golden lotus. O Krishna, with a bodily color like an indranila gem (blue jewel), Your beauty mocks Cupid.
‘O topmost dancers — Sri Radha and Sri Krishna — please dance within my mind. O You whose beauty increases the charm of Your dazzling ornaments, day and night I only wish that I shall go on singing Your glories in great ecstasy.’ “
Narottama Dasa serves Srimati Radhika as Campaka-manjari. His samadhi is in Radha Gokulananda’s temple courtyard.