Johannesburg, South Africa — Tuesday, October 30th

Srila Narottama Das Thakur

Today is the holy disappearance day of Srila Narottama Das Thakur, the great Vaishnava acharya and devotee of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who wrote many of the devotional songs (like Sri Guru Carana Padma) that we sing every day for inspiration and motivation.

When I was down in Durban, I gave my old friend, Premananda Prabhu, a copy of Srila Gurudeva's Affectionate Guidance. The book had a profound effect on him, and we discussed many of its chapters in the two weeks that I was there.

He particularly liked the last chapter in the "Biographical" section of the book, where Srila Gurudeva describes some of the events in the lives of the great Vaishnava acharyas in our sampradaya. In Chapter 17, "In Praise of Srila Narottama Das Thakur," Srila Gurudeva says:

...One day Srila Narottama Das Thakur had a dream in which Nityananda Prabhu instructed him, "Go to the River Padma and take your bath there because Mahaprabhu has left His gift of krishna-prema for you within her waters." Narottama immediately awoke and went to the river and entered the water. While bathing, he experienced the divine form of Mahaprabhu embracing him, and krishna-prema entered into his being. He became transformed.... and everyone was greatly surprised saying, "Yes, it is true! Narottama has received krishna-prema from Mahaprabhu, and Mahaprabhu is really living in his heart."

...Narottama Das Thakur was born in the kayastha [sudra] community, and he caused a great deal of controversy by accepting disciples from the brahmana caste. The brahmana community became very angry with him, and tried repeatedly to defeat him in debate — but the only result was that more brahmanas became his disciples!

The brahmanas were very unhappy, and when in his last years Narottama manifested much sickness, the brahmanas declared that this was the result of Narottama violating the scriptural injunctions by accepting disciples from a higher caste than his own. Gradually Narottama's condition became worse, and finally, he died. The brahmanas were jubilant, and began celebrating Narottama's passing as proof of his offenses to their community.

Narottama's disciples were heart-broken, and prayed before their Gurudev's body: "Oh Prabhu, you have shown this lila of your passing in this way, and the brahmanas are committing offenses to your lotus feet because they cannot understand. Lord, what shall we do now? Surely all your preaching will be ruined if you show this kind of passing lila. Please show your mercy to these misguided brahmanas." Suddenly Narottama returned to his body and sat up, and upon seeing this miracle, the opposition surrendered to his lotus feet.

Some months later, Narottama exhibited intense symptoms of separation from Radha and Krishna, and he again left this world. His body turned into milk and merged with the waters of the holy River Ganges...

As Premananda Prabhu remarked: "When Srila Gurudeva is gone, who will tell us all these wonderful stories about our great Vaishnava saints and gurus?"

Tags: Vaishnava Acharyas

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Layout by iMonk — October 30th, 2007.