narotthama dasa
Srila Narottama dasa Thakura tirobhava tithi [disappearance day] – Thursday, October 2016

Srila Prabhupada explains the unique position of Narottama dasa Thakura in the Gaudiya sampradaya.

Lectures : Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures : Canto 7: Lectures : SB 7.12: Lectures : Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.12.6 — Bombay, April 17, 1976 : 760417SB.BOM :

Daksa sraddadhanaḥ: faithful. Faithful to whom? To the spiritual master. Whatever he says, the brahmacarī should take it: "Yes, it is my life and soul." That is the explanation given by Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura. He is explaining with reference to the verse vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana  [Bg. 2.41]He very nicely explains. You have perhaps read it, Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura's. Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura has taught very, very nicely about guru. Therefore he has written in Gurvasṭaka, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadaḥ. He is example, practical example of guru-bhakti, Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura. He accepted his guru, Narottama dasa Thakura. So he said that "I am not interested for my salvation or going back to Godhead. I am not interested." Interested means it may come; it may not come. "That I don't mind. But I am interested only with the words of my guru." Vishvanatha Chakravarti said. "That is my life. Whether I will be successful or not successful, it doesn't matter. I must take the words of my Guru Maharaja as my life and soul."

Lectures : Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita Lectures : Madhya-lila: Lectures : Madhya 20: Lectures : Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila 20.100-108 — New York, November 22, 1966 : 661122C2.NY :

So Sanatana Gosvamī, he's acharya in this disciplic succession from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord Chaitanya. He is the first disciple of Lord Chaitanya, and from him, Sanatana Gosvamī, six Gosvamīs. There were six among the first followers of Lord Chaitanya. And then, from next step comes Raghunatha Gosvamī and then this author of this book, Krishna dasa Kaviraja Gosvamī, and from him, Narottama dasa Thakura, and then from him, Vishvanatha Chakravarti, Baladeva Vidyabhūsaṇa. In this way this disciplic succession is coming from Lord Chaitanya. So as acharya. acharya means one who knows the principles of scripture, properly being initiated by authority who knows things as they are, and they apply those things in their own life. They are called acharya. Acinoti sastraṇi: he must know all the principles from authorities, and he should apply in his life those principles. Not that he knows but does not apply. He cannot be acharya. apani acari prabhu jīva disa (?). Lord Chaitanya, He, although He is accepted as the, I mean to say, the personal, He's Krishna Himself, still, He behaved in such a way that others can follow. He also accepted Īsvara Purī. Īsvara, Īsvara Purī was His spiritual master, Lord Chaitanya's. This is the disciplic succession.

 Lectures : Nectar of Devotion Lectures : The Nectar of Devotion — Vrindavana, November 13, 1972 : 721113ND.VRN :

Prabhupada: The Gosvamīs, or in the Pañcaratra system, in the sastras, the regulative principles are so made that, if we practice it, gradually our dormant Krishna consciousness will be awakened. Therefore these prescribed rules and regulations, as it is given in the sastras and confirmed by the acharyas. Narottama dasa Thakura says, tandera caraṇa-sevi. We have to follow the footprints of the acharyas. acharya means parampara. One acharya is following the previous acharya. An acharya does not manufacture anything, something novel. He follows the previous acharya. And therefore he, he's acharya. And one who follows… acharyavan puruso veda. acharya upasanam. In the Bhagavad-gīta it is said. So we have to accept the principles laid down by the acharyas. Tandera caraṇa-sevi-bhakta-sane vasa.

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 1:"Creation" : SB Introduction : SB Introduction : Many devotees of Lord Chaitanya like SrilaVrindavana dasa Thakura, Sri Locana dasa Thakura, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvamī, Sri Kavikarṇapūra, Sri Prabodhananda Sarasvatī, Sri Rūpa Gosvamī, Sri Sanatana Gosvamī, Sri Raghunatha Bhaṭṭa Gosvamī, Sri Jīva Gosvamī, Sri Gopala Bhaṭṭa Gosvamī, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvamī and in this latter age within two hundred years, Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarti, Sri Baladeva Vidyabhūsana, Sri Syamananda Gosvamī, Sri Narottama dasa Thakura, Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura and at last Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatī Thakura (our spiritual master) and many other great and renowned scholars and devotees of the Lord have prepared voluminous books and literatures on the life and precepts of the Lord. Such literatures are all based on the sastras like the Vedas, Puraṇas, Upanisads, Ramayaṇa, Mahabharata and other histories and authentic literatures approved by the recognized acharyas. They are unique in composition and unrivalled in presentation, and they are full of transcendental knowledge. Unfortunately the people of the world are still ignorant of them, but when these literatures, which are mostly in Sanskrit and Bengali, come to light the world and when they are presented before thinking people, then India's glory and the message of love will over flood this morbid world, which is vainly searching after peace and prosperity by various illusory methods not approved by the acharyas in the chain of disciplic succession. 

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 1:"Creation" : SB 1.10: Departure of Lord Krishna for Dvaraka : SB 1.10.20 : PURPORT : Anything sung in the praise of the Lord is Sruti-mantra. There are songs of Thakura Narottama dasa, one of the acharyas in the Gaudiya-sampradaya, composed in simple Bengali language. But Thakura Vishvanatha Chakravarti , another very learned acharya of the same sampradaya, has approved the songs by Thakura Narottama dasa to be as good as Vedic mantras. And this is so because of the subject matter. The language is immaterial, but the subject matter is important. The ladies, who were all absorbed in the thought and actions of the Lord, developed the consciousness of Vedic wisdom by the grace of the Lord. And therefore although such ladies might not have been very learned scholars in Sanskrit or otherwise, still whatever they spoke was more attractive than the Vedic hymns. The Vedic hymns in the Upanisads are sometimes indirectly directed to the Supreme Lord. But the talks of the ladies were directly spoken of the Lord, and thus they were more pleasing to the heart. The ladies' talks appeared to be more valuable than the learned brahmaṇas' benedictions. 

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 3: "The Status Quo" : SB 3.13: The Appearance of Lord Varaha : SB 3.13.8 : PURPORT : Brahma is the direct recipient of Vedic knowledge from the Personality of Godhead, and anyone discharging his entrusted duties in disciplic succession from Brahma is sure to gain fame in this life and salvation in the next. The disciplic succession from Brahma is called the Brahma-sampradaya, and it descends as follows: Brahma, Narada, Vyasa, Madhva Muni (Pūrṇaprajña), Padmanabha, Nṛhari, Madhava, Aksobhya, Jayatīrtha, Jñanasindhu, Dayanidhi, Vidyanidhi, Rajendra, Jayadharma, Purusottama, Brahmaṇyatīrtha, Vyasatīrtha, Laksmīpati, Madhavendra Purī, Īsvara Purī, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Svarūpa Damodara and Sri Rūpa Gosvamī and others, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvamī, Krishnadasa Gosvamī, Narottama dasa Thakura, VishvanathaChakravarti , Jagannatha dasa Babajī, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaurakisora dasa Babajī, Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatī, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.

Srila Prabhupada cites from Narottama dasa Thakura.

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 3: "The Status Quo" : SB 3.26: Fundamental Principles of Material Nature : SB 3.26.26 : PURPORT :Ahankara, or false ego, is transformed into the demigods, the controlling directors of material affairs. As an instrument, the false ego is represented as different senses and sense organs, and as the result of the combination of the demigods and the senses, material objects are produced. In the material world we are producing so many things, and this is called advancement of civilization, but factually the advancement of civilization is a manifestation of the false ego. By false ego all material things are produced as objects of enjoyment. One has to cease increasing artificial necessities in the form of material objects. One great acharya, Narottama dasa Thakura, has lamented that when one deviates from pure consciousness of Vasudeva, or Krishna consciousness, he becomes entangled in material activities. The exact words he uses are, sat-sanga chaḍi’ kainu asate vilasa/ te-karaṇe lagila ye karma-bandha-phansa: “I have given up the pure status of consciousness because I wanted to enjoy in the temporary, material manifestation; therefore I have been entangled in the network of actions and reactions.” 

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 3: "The Status Quo" : SB 3.28: Kapila's Instructions on the Execution of Devotional Service : SB 3.28.4 : PURPORT : Svadhyayaḥ means “reading the authorized Vedic scriptures.” Even if one is not Krishna conscious and is practicing the yoga system, he must read standard Vedic literatures in order to understand. Performance of yoga alone is not sufficient. Narottama dasa Thakura, a great devotee and acharya in the Gaudiya Vaishnava-sampradaya, says that all spiritual activities should be understood from three sources, namely saintly persons, standard scriptures and the spiritual master. These three guides are very important for progress in spiritual life. The spiritual master prescribes standard literature for the prosecution of the yoga of devotional service, and he himself speaks only from scriptural reference. Therefore reading standard scriptures is necessary for executing yoga. Practicing yoga without reading the standard literatures is simply a waste of time. 

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 3: "The Status Quo" : SB 3.31: Lord Kapila's Instructions on the Movements of the Living Entities : SB 3.31.29 : PURPORT : To raise oneself from hellish life to the highest position of spiritual understanding is to transform this lust into love of Krishna. Sri Narottama dasa Thakura, a great acharya of the Vaishnava sampradaya, said, kama Krishna-karmarpaṇe: due to our lust, we want many things for our sense gratification, but the same lust can be transformed in a purified way so that we want everything for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Anger also can be utilized towards a person who is atheistic or who is envious of the Personality of Godhead. As we have fallen into this material existence because of our lust and anger, the same two qualities can be utilized for the purpose of advancing in Krishna consciousness, and one can elevate himself again to his former pure, spiritual position. Srila Rūpa Gosvamī has therefore recommended that because in material existence we have so many objects of sense gratification, which we need for the maintenance of the body, we should use all of them without attachment, for the purpose of satisfying the senses of Krishna; that is actual renunciation.

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: "The Creation of the Fourth Order" : SB 4.4: Sati Quits Her Body : SB 4.4.10 : PURPORT Lord Chaitanya, who always preached nonviolence, meekness and humility, also became angry when Nityananda was offended by Jagai and Madhai, and He wanted to kill them. When Vishnu or a Vaishnava is blasphemed or dishonored, one should be very angry. Narottama dasa Thakura said, krodha bhakta-dvesi jane. We have anger, and that anger can be a great quality when directed against a person who is envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee. One should not be tolerant when a person is offensive towards Vishnu or a Vaishnava. The anger of Satī towards her father was not objectionable, for although he was her father, he was trying to insult the greatest Vaishnava. Thus Satī’s anger against her father was quite applaudable.

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: "The Creation of the Fourth Order" : SB 4.6: Brahma Satisfies Lord Siva : SB 4.6.25 : PURPORT : Another significant point is that Lord Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is described here as Tīrthapada. Tīrtha means “sanctified place,” and pada means “the lotus feet of the Lord.” People go to a sanctified place to free themselves from all sinful reactions. In other words, those who are devoted to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, automatically become sanctified. The Lord’s lotus feet are called tīrtha-pada because under their protection there are hundreds and thousands of saintly persons who sanctify the sacred places of pilgrimage. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, a great acharya of the Gaudiya Vaishnava-sampradaya, 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-pada; 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. Tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthani (Bhag. 1.13.10)). The places are sanctified due to the presence of pure devotees; any place automatically becomes a place of pilgrimage if either the Lord or His pure devotee remains or resides there. In other words, such a pure devotee, who is engaged one hundred percent in the service of the Lord, can remain anywhere in the universe, and that part of the universe immediately becomes a sacred place where he can peacefully render service to the Lord as the Lord desires.

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: "The Creation of the Fourth Order" : SB 4.21: Instructions by Maharaja Prthu : SB-4.21.28, SB-4.21.29, SB-4.21.28-29 : PURPORT : Narottama dasa Thakura states that one has to ascertain the right path for his activities by following in the footsteps of great saintly persons and books of knowledge under the guidance of a spiritual master (sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya). A saintly person is one who follows the Vedic injunctions, which are the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The word guru refers to one who gives proper direction under the authority of the Vedic injunctions and according to the examples of the lives of great personalities. The best way to mold one’s life is to follow in the footsteps of the authorized personalities like those mentioned herein by Pṛthu Maharaja, beginning with Svayambhuva Manu. The safest path in life is to follow such great personalities, especially those mentioned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The mahajanas, or great personalities, are Brahma, Lord Siva, Narada Muni, Manu, the Kumaras, Prahlada Maharaja, Bali Maharaja, Yamaraja, Bhīsma, Janaka, Sukadeva Gosvamī and Kapila Muni.

Books : Srimad-Bhagavatam : Canto 4: "The Creation of the Fourth Order" : SB 4.21: Instructions by Maharaja Prthu : SB-4.21.40 : PURPORT : “Birth after birth I desire to serve the lotus feet of the acharyas and live in a society of devotees.” A spiritual atmosphere can be maintained only by living in a society of devotees and by serving the orders of the acharyas. The spiritual master is the best brahmaṇa. At present, in the age of Kali, it is very difficult to render service to the brahmaṇa-kula, or the brahmaṇa class. The difficulty, according to the Varaha Puraṇa, is that demons, taking advantage of Kali-yuga, have taken birth in brahmaṇa families. Raksasaḥ kalim asritya jayante brahma-yonisu (Varaha Puraṇa). In other words, in this age there are many so-called caste brahmaṇas and caste Gosvamīs who, taking advantage of the sastra and of the innocence of people in general, claim to be brahmaṇas and Vaishnavas by hereditary right. One will not derive any benefit by rendering service to such false brahmaṇa-kulas. One must therefore take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and his associates and should also render service to them, for such activity will greatly help the neophyte in attaining full satisfaction. This has been very clearly explained by Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura in his explanation of the verse vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana (Bg. 2.41). By actually following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga as recommended by Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, one can very quickly come to the transcendental platform of liberation, as explained in this verse (atyanta-samam).

Click here to read Sri Narottama dasa Thakura tirobhava tithi (Part 2)