Appearing as the son of a king, Shri Narottama Dasa Thakura (Shri Thakura Mahasaya) showed all the bodily symptoms of a mahapurusha (an exalted divine person). He had long arms, a deep navel, golden-complexioh, 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 brahmachari. By the mercy of the Holy Name Gaura-Nitai, Narottama became detached, left his opulent family, and ran to Vrindavana. He took diksha from Shri Lokanatha Goswami and siksha in Gaudiya philosophy from Shri Jiva Goswami.
When he arrived in Navadwipa-dhama all the Devotees asked him about the health and activities of the Goswamis in Vrindavana. They were eager to hear the news from Vrindavana. After visiting all of Gauranga’s pastime places in Gaura Mandala, Narottama Dasa did the same in Shri Kshetra Dhama (Jagannatha Puri). Then he went to see the Devotees and Shri Chaitanya’s pastime spots in Shantipura, Shri Khanda, Kanthak Nagar, Ekachakra, and Kheturi Gram.
In Kheturi, Shri Narottama Dasa Thakura arranged the famous Kheturi Mahotsava. This was the first “Gaura-Purnima” festival to honor the divine appearance day of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. During the festival six Deities were installed: Shri Gauranga Deva, Shri Vallabhi Kanta, Shri Vraja Mohana, Shri Krishna, Shri Radha Kanta, Shri 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 Shri Chaitanya 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, Shri Chaitanya 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.
Narottama Dasa Thakura
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 Shri Chaitanya 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, Shri Chaitanya Himself appeared in the crowd of Devotees through a divine manifestation.” (Bhakti-ratnakar) (In the image: Harinaam Sankirtan, Siberia, Russia).
“This festival is considered a major achievment in Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Hundreds and hundreds of Devotees were invited, including direct disciples of Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, and Advaita Acharya. At this time, many differences existed in the interpretation of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Acharyarani Jahnava Devi came from Kardaha with her entourage. Presiding over all the Vaishnavas, she resolved their diverse conclusions into one consistent Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy.
“For the first time, the festival featured many kirtana styles which integrated the glorification of Lord Chaitanya with the glorification of Lord Krishna and His pastimes. And because so many Vaishnavas were present at one place, it automatically made the Kheturi festival extraordinary. It also acted as an important step toward unifying all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.” (Shri Navadwipa-dhama parikrama)
Narottama Dasa Thakura wrote many devotional songs about the spiritual master, the Devotees, devotional service, the six Goswamis, Gaura-Nityananda and Radha-Krishna. Although composed with sweet melodies in simple Bengali language, Narottama Dasa’s songs give shastric siddhanta and devotional inspiration. Shrila Prabhupada often sang these bhajanas. Considering them non-different from Vedic shastra, He quoted them in his Bhagavatam lectures. Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-chandrika are Narottama’s most famous works.
The following excerpt comes from Prema-bhakti-chandrika: “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: ‘0 Kishora-Kishori! 0 son of Nanda Maharaja-Shyamasundara! And 0 daughter of King Vrishabhanu, Shri Radha. You enchant even Hari, and Your bodily complexion is the color of a golden lotus. 0 Krishna, with a bodily color like an indranila gem (blue jewel), Your beauty mocks Cupid.
‘0 topmost dancers Shri Radha and Shri Krishna-please dance within my mind. 0 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 Shrimati Radhika as Chamaka-manjari. His samadhi is in Radha Gokulananda’s Temple courtyard.