Written by Nandan
The disappearance day of Narottama Das Thakur
Maharaj sang the morning Guruvastakam prayers in Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi. It was gentle, soothing and perfectly in sync with the Vrindavan morning mood. It was also the disappearance day of Narottama Das Thakur (Saturday, 31st October 2015), so in the afternoon around 3pm Maharaj took a sizeable bunch of disciples to Narottama Das Thakur’s samadhi in the Radha Gokulananda temple in Vrindavan.
The walk to the samadhi was accompanied by incredible harinams. First by the passionate kirtaneering monk Gurudas Prabhu from England and then followed by Maharaj himself. Going through the streets of the famous Vrindavan market, Loi Bazaar, and singing the mahamantra was quite an experience and the locals were loving it – all the shopkeepers, vendors and general crowds of people were looking on in amazement, raising their hands and joining in; the ‘rickshawallahs’ were honking away and even the dogs and cows looked perky and interested; it was kind of reminiscent of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s Jharikhand pastimes. The monkeys were also looking on with keen interest. No doubt, their darting eyes were appreciating the devotees’ belongings as much as the devotional singing!!
After going down a nondescript alley road in Vrindavan, the devotees finally arrived at the Radha Gokulananda temple. The entrance to the temple was quite inconspicuous and inside, it had that ‘rough round the edges’ old school Indian feel to it. But at the same time, there was some serious potency emanating from there as well. One was in no doubt that one had entered a deeply sacred place.
There was an interesting deity there called Vamsidhari Mahaprabhu who was a beautiful golden looking Caitanya Mahaprabhu standing like Krsna with a flute in his hand. This was in reference to Mahaprabhu manifesting various ‘Swarupa bhavas’ in his Vrindavan pastimes. And of course, the temple had the samadhis of Narottama Das Thakur and Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur amongst others.
After everyone had paid their obeisances to the deities and the samadhis of the various acharyas, Maharaj got everyone to sit down near the samadhi of Narottama Das Thakur. Then for the next ninety minutes Maharaj spoke at length on the wonderful teachings, adventures, glories and overall life story of Srila Narottama Das Thakur – one of the greatest and most important vaishnava acharyas in history.
Maharaj made a lot of potent points within his discussion. For example, it was due to Narottama Das Thakur’s teachings that Bengal went from a culture of sentimentalism to one of real devotional culture based on astute philosophy. Not only that, he was also the one who established the famous ‘Drupada style’ kirtan – famous for starting melodies on long notes.
Once Narottama Das Thakur (as stated in the Narottama Vilasa) was in the Padma River and his body was melting in the river. So how was his samadhi here? The water from that time was actually taken here to form the samadhi.
Maharaj then clarified that the disappearance day is more powerful than the appearance day of an acharya because all the pastimes have been revealed. This is their mercy. All coming in line through Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur, Baladev Vidya Bhushan, Jagannath Das Babaji… all the way to Srila Prabhupada and then finally down to us! Yes us! Who end up wearing different coloured socks and forget our bead bags! It is ALL MERCY!!
But then Maharaj boldly stated that the crux is to stay in the movement – there may be 1000’s of reasons not to stay; for example, they’re not treating me well, my parents, my health, etc. But we must make this a lifetime of devotional service. Srila Prabhupada gave us the entrance to Vrindavan, now we have to capitalize on that. Maharaj recalled how it was initially a remote land with just a stump of a Tamala tree and a nasty bull, who the devotees were convinced was the incarnation of Aristasura!
Then Hans Keilman came along, a Dutch architect. Srila Prabhupada said to him to come along for an initiation ceremony. He then asked for who? Srila Prabhupada replied, “For you!” The rest is history, as they say.
The nectar continued to flow throughout the evening and then after the discussion, all the devotees got to view the Govardhan Sila that Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to worship and then later gave to Raghunath Das Goswami. A beautiful sight to finish the trip with.
HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj ki Jai!!