The early life of Srila Narottam Das Thakur.
By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj
Student: Can you tell us something about the life of Narottam Das Thakur?
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Yes. When Mahaprabhu went to Ramakeli after taking sannyas on His way to Vrndavan, it is told that on the bank of a river He called out to the opposite bank, “Narottam! Narottam! Narottam!” His party could not understand why He was taking the name ‘Narottam’ there. On the other side of that river, the Padma, was the family a big kayastha zamindar in a town known as Keturi. The Padma is the large branch of the Ganges; the small branch is this Bhagirathi Ganga. And just on the other side of the Padma there was Keturi, a town where there was a big zamindar family. Narottam was a son in that kayastha family, a big zamindar family, that of a small king there.
Narottam was brought up and was naturally inclined towards Mahaprabhu, Radha-Govinda, and Vrndavan, all these things. He did not marry. From a young age, he was given to this side, and gradually he found a friend in Srinivas Acharya and later in Syamananda Prabhu. In his young age, it is told that he came to see Nabadwip Dham and with Srinivas began practically the circumambulation of different parts of Nabadwip Dham. Before this, Jiva Goswami was shown the different parts of Nabadwip Dham by Nityananda Prabhu, but the second attempt we find here that Isan, the old servant in Mahaprabhu’s house, showed Narottam and Srinivas the places of the Pastimes of Mahaprabhu on the nine islands.
As Narottam grew up, he came to such life exclusively and then he met Syamananda Prabhu and went to Vrndavan. He lived there for some time and tried hard to get initiation from Lokanath Goswami.
Lokanath Goswami’s original house was in the Jessore district of Bengal. He went to Vrndavan and lived the life of a sannyasi there. His speciality was this that he did not like to mix with anybody. His apprehension was that talking with a man would break his continuous memory of Krishna. So, he did not like to meet with anyone, so much so that he did not even store any water with him: neither a glass nor any scanty water. Why? If any guest were to come and ask for some water, he could not deny them: “I won’t give you any drinking water.” So, his water pots were always empty. In such a strict way, he used to keep up his continuous devotional life without any gap. And he did not like to accept anyone as his disciple. He was determined, “I will not mix with anybody.”
Narottam Thakur, however, found that he must have his initiation from this noble man, this great soul. Narottam knew that Lokanath had already almost promised that he won’t accept any disciples. Srinivas Acharya received initiation from Gopal Bhatta, and Syamananda received initiation Jiva Goswami. There is also a story behind that. Narottam’s inclination was towards Lokanath Goswami. But how could he get that? He tried to find out where in the early morning Lokanath went to pass stool. He detected the place and then began to cleanse it in a fine way each day. After a few days, this caught the attention of Lokanath Goswami: “Who is cleansing this place? I come to pass stools in this place, but who knows it? Who is coming and cleaning this place?”
Then, one day he caught Narottam: “Why have you come to do this without my permission?” Narottam fell flat, crying at his feet: “I want your blessings, your grace. Without that, my life is useless. You please be kind to me. I am a wretched man who has come from Bengal. You must be pleased with me.” In this way, Lokanath Goswami was defeated, and at last he gave initiation to that single person Narottam. Narottam Thakur in his turn came, and we are told that he inundated the whole of Northern Bengal. The whole of Manipur came under his control, under his grace. He gave initiation right and left throughout Northern India, and especially Eastern Assam and Manipur. Manipur wholesale, including the king of Manipur, all came to be disciples of Narottam Thakur.
Similarly, Gaura Kisor Das Goswami had no disciples; we our told that our Guru Maharaj is the single one. But Guru Maharaj himself preached and gave it to many many thousands.