Spiritual Warrior’s Battle Strategies, Part 2
(From Life of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur)
– By Her Grace Śītalā Mataji
Hare Kṛṣṇa. We are talking about environmental scanning. I say everybody is pretty much in bliss doing an environmental scan here [Laughter]. We will just talk a little bit more about what happened after Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur went on his pilgrimage. While he was doing that pilgrimage he was of course—seeking blessings, but he was also doing an environmental scan. As he traveled around, he was seeing, “What is going on with all of the devotees?” He saw that there were quite a variety of things going on. That is what a preacher does, wherever he travels he looks around and he sees, “What is going on with the people and what can I do for them?”
Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur, as he was traveling from one place to another he was seeing all theses associates of Mahāprabhu that were hardly able to breathe or speak due to the incredible separation that they were feeling from Mahāprabhu. Of course we have to understand that, the separation they were feeling, it’s nothing like mundane depression. It’s not that, as Mahāprabhu left they were miserable and in a mundane way that they become depressed and unhappy. No, it was a very different thing that they were feeling and it’s a very elevated spiritual emotion. The intensity of their separation was increasing their ecstasy of love. But Narottama saw that it was like they were burning in this fire, they were just missing Mahāprabhu so much. Thus he wanted to bring them all together.
Then he also saw that there are many lesser advanced devotees that were experiencing difficulty. In the absence of Mahāprabhu, a variety of different types of moods and even philosophies were cropping up. Especially because all these devotees that were in Bengal, they were completely separated from what was going on in Vṛndāvan, where you know the Gosvāmīs were writing all their books. But they didn’t really know so much about what was happening there, so there was a kind of disconnect. The devotees in Bengal primarily were meditating on Mahāprabhu and they grew up with Him and they were thinking of Him as their friend. The devotees in Vṛndāvan on the other hand, the Six Gosvāmīs have been writing all these books and explaining Rādhā Kṛṣṇa Līlā. There was a difference in mood in these two places but they are all the followers of Mahāprabhu.
So there was some confusion and Narottama saw that all the devotees need to come together. He needs to bring them all together and inspire them to become one unified group to glorify Mahāprabhu. He had done, so to speak, his environmental scan and now he had to make his strategy. He decided that he wanted to bring everyone out, all these devotees who had been in different parts of Bengal and around the surrounding areas. He wanted to bring all of them together for a big festival and he wanted to do that on the appearance day of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This is quite a number of years after Lord Caitanya had left, but this was going to be the first Gaur-Pūrṇimā festival; so this required a huge plan. It’s not like now. We just make a website and then everybody clicks into it, and we say this is where it’s going to be, this is what we are going to do, everybody come. Then you get on your plane, get on your train. It was a very difficult task to organize a Gaur-Pūrṇimā festival at that time. He had to convince first of all, all of the associates who can barely move out of intense separation from Mahāprabhu, that they should get up and go a long way for this festival.
It required a lot of effort, so Narottama got in touch with Śrinivāsa Ācārya and Śyāmānanda Paṇḍita, his old friends from Vṛndāvan, and he asked for their help. He said like, “I want to do this big massive festival. I want to bring everybody together, and we are just going to all come together and push forward Mahāprabhu‘s mission.” It was difficult; it was a really difficult thing to do. Even Śrinivāsa Ācārya was dubious. He was like, “How are we going to do this?” Especially Narottama wasn’t really an organizer, but Śrinivāsa Ācārya was. They decided to dig in and support Narottama and really try to do this Mahā–Mahotsava festival—Gaur Pūrṇimā festival. Now just imagine if he didn’t have that inspiration, where would we be? Just think of having no Gaur Pūrṇimā festival; it’s horrible!
By the mercy of Narottama’s inspiration, we have this festival every year. Because he saw these devotees are suffering all over the place, many of them are alone, many of them don’t have enough association; and he wanted to bring them all together. Following in the footsteps of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur, Śrīla Prabhupāda was very adamant about having these Guar–Pūrṇimā festivals every year, where devotees will come together, they will get inspired, and then they can go out and preach.
So for Narottama the strategy was to bring everybody together and it required a massive effort to make this happen; but everybody went for it. The inspiration spread everywhere and the devotees got very inspired, “We are all going to Kheturī!” Kheturī is the first place of this festival. Narottama and all the others had to make so many arrangements to bring the devotees into the house. The whole of Kheturī; everyone was just busy to accommodate and to make Prasāda. These descriptions of arrangements indicate it was a most incredible festival that was organized. It’s said that there were so many devotees coming that the Padmāvatī River was black with boats, you could hardly see the river. Narottama, Śrinivāsa, Śyāmānanda—all the devotees are on the bank waiting to greet all these boats as they come in. This is the first Gaur–Pūrṇimā festival. That’s why we can thank Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur for that wonderful experience of celebrating the Gaur–Pūrṇimā festival that we have every year.
Narottama was making his own preparations and his preparations were to go very deep into his Kīrtana that he established. He knew that he had to bring these two camps of people together; there is the Vraja mood and the Bengal mood. He had to bring these devotees together so that they would become united in the mission of Mahāprabhu. You know so much could be said about that festival;—it’s so amazing in itself that we could talk for a long time, but suffice it to say it was something that had never happened before: that kind of confluence of so many wonderful devotees. There were so many preparations that were required. Like you know when you have these big festivals, what it takes to put it on, to feed everybody—so much had to be done. But the real preparation that was going on was going on in Narottama‘s heart. That he was developing his style, his mood and his emotion of the Kīrtana that would bring the presence of the Lord. The real success of the festival wasn’t that there was fantastic Prasāda, and everybody had great accommodations. The real success of that festival was that, when Narottama began to sing, it was so potent and it was so powerful that the Supreme Lord Himself and all of His associates appeared before everyone—non-devotee and devotee.
That was the real purpose of the festival—to transport everyone to the spiritual world—and he achieved that; and that is the purpose of our Parikramās and that is the purpose of our festivals. The purpose of all these things that we do is to actually leave the material realm and enter into the spiritual realm. You don’t have to go somewhere; it is here all the time, it’s just our consciousness is not there. Lot of amazing things happened at that festival. The establishment of the Caitanya Caritāmṛta as the biography, and the philosophy to be followed for all times, that was one thing. Of course because so many devotees were separated from one another—they didn’t have internet, they didn’t have telephone—as they were separated, so varieties of different types of philosophies had cropped up. That was the purpose; Narottama wanted to bring everyone together to clarify a lot of things, to increase the service to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Even though there were so many wonderful things at the festival that were inspirational, the real inspiration is that Pañca-Tattva appeared there and everyone saw Them. In Their company and in Their presence there was no need of saying anything, everyone was just in ecstasy. All differences of opinions, they just dissipated. I remember that used to happen sometimes in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s presence.
One time Prabhupāda was in New Māyāpura and he came out on a morning walk. And it was a bit of a problematic time in that Yātrā. So Prabhupāda sat down on the grass and he looked around at all the devotees and he said, “So what is the problem?” Then I was thinking, “Wow, now we can tell him, you know, so many problems”; and then I was looking around and everybody is just smiling and beaming at Prabhupāda. I was like, “Isn’t anybody going to say anything? We are having so many problems and we are so fried” [Laughter]. I was just scanning the crowd, everybody is just smiling looking at Prabhupāda, totally happy and I thought, “Well, maybe I should say something”. And then I thought, “What about this thing and that? Oh, that’s nothing, that’s not important.” Then I concluded, “Ah, there is no problem!” [Laughter].
And then, Prabhupāda said, “Yes, there is no problem; whenever we are in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness: No problem!” That’s the caveat; when we are Kṛṣṇa Conscious. This is the thing that Narottama wanted to bring everybody together, because he saw all the differences of opinions. All those everyday problems, just like [Poof!] gone; when everyone is in the presence of Pañca-Tattva. There is Lord Caitanya, Nityānanda—all the associates, the Six-Gosvāmīs, and everybody is dancing and chanting:
So where is the problem? That’s what Prabhupāda said, “Where is the problem? No problem, just we are not Kṛṣṇa Conscious so we think we have problems”. But the potency of the Lord appearing through the pure chanting of the Holy Names is— when the Lord appears: no problem. This is just to get some understanding of the heart of Śrīla Narottam Dāsa Ṭhākur. His chanting was so pure and so imbued with love that the entire Pañca-Tattva and all Their associates appeared right in their Kīrtana. Everybody could see them; everybody—even unqualified people they were able to see, “Wow!” We can only imagine, “What a Kīrtana! What a Kīrtana!” Every year on Parikramā in Māyāpura, Jayapatākā Mahārāja always goes and says, “Maybe this year—They will come, if we have a really good Kīrtana and we will all see Them [Laughter]”, and it’s possible; it happened and it’s not a fairy tale. But it requires the purity of heart; so this is the heart of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur; imagine he called all the associates to be present.
I was considering, what were the elements of his consciousness?—that he was empowered and capable of doing such a remarkable thing. I mean, he was a musician, so is it the style of his Kīrtana? There are so many elements to Kīrtana; but there are many elements to the consciousness of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur that qualified him to such an extent to be able to call the Lord and all of His associates into everyone’s presence. Just to name some of those elements because we are all trying to learn: “How to do this right?” We are all trying to learn: “How to do Kīrtana; How to be a devotee?” There are these elements that we have to add to whatever we are doing right now.
One of the ingredients in Narottama’s Kīrtanas is his intense love of the Devotees. He showed so much love in his songs; you hear his songs and how he is talking about his friends? You know “Rāmcandra Sang…”— all these things we sing everyday; that’s him glorifying his friends, whom he loves. He had this mood of always intense hankering for perfection—that even though he had so much incredible experiences, which hardly anyone in history ever had. He never had the mood that, “Okay, I have arrived”. I mean if you look in some of his song books, there are whole big sections that are just about songs in which he is hankering for perfection. I mean, Lord Caitanya entered into him; so he is perfected, but he doesn’t feel perfected. That’s the nature of a devotee.
Also he had this constant mood of humility; if you read his songs, it’s 80% just this expression of humility and unworthiness. There are so many elements to his Kīrtana that made it that powerful and studying that and thinking about that is very important for all of us. They have these famous books now for Managers—“7 habits of highly successful people”. Similarly for us Narottama is showing 10, 20, 40 “Habits of highly advanced Devotees”—that we should look at, we should study. After that Kheturī festival Narottama became famous everywhere and with fame comes opposition. At another time we can talk about that opposition, but we have run out of time today.
But on this, his disappearance day we can meditate on the only person I have ever heard of in my life whose heart melted in love of God and then his entire body melted in love of God. There was no body of Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur left existing, only a pot of milk. Such a personality, that we have any association with—simply miraculous.
By the mercy of Śrīla Prabhupāda we are receiving inconceivable blessings. We are supposed to leave the hall so we will have to end there.
Jaya Śrīla Narottam Dāsa Ṭhākur ki Jaya!
HG Baḍa Hari Prabhu: “Śītalā Mātājī ki Jaya”
HH Indradyumna Swami: “Once again informing you all; Prasādam is at 1 o’clock at Fogla ashram. We leave at 4.30 tomorrow morning for Govardhan. Prasādam, Lunch Prasādam will be served at Rādhā Kuṇḍa around 1 O’clock. Don’t forget to go on facebook and see all of Ananta Vṛndāvan’s amazing videos about this Parikramā. We have just put up a video five minutes ago; it’s called ‘A Visit to Mathurā’, —very nice video. So that is on my facebook page. Please visit and see the wonderful work of Ananta Vṛndāvan.
Śrī Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākur ki Jaya!,
Giriraj–Govardhana Parikramā ki –Jaya,
Śrīla Prabhupāda ki-Jaya!
Kārtik Parikramā 2015 ki – Jaya!
Jaya-Jaya Śrī Rādhe ………………… Śyāma! ”