Glories Of Śrīla Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura
[January 16, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrīla Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is the bhāva anuvāda of the kathā given by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja on Śrīla Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura,on different occasions*. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the proper flow of content.]
Today is the appearance tithi of Śrīla Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura. He took birth in Kogrāma (Katwā sub-division of the Burdhaman district) near the Ajaya River, in a family of physicians. Being the only child to his parents, Kamalākara dāsa and Śrīmatī Sadānandī, he received abundant affection.
Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura was married at a very young age, but was disinterested in material life. In those days, marriages would take place by the age of 5 to 7 [however the bride would come to reside with her in-laws only after a few years]. Such an arrangement is incomprehensible in today’s world. He would spend most of his time in Śrīkhaṇḍa, the śrīpāta of his guru, Śrī Narahari Sarkāra (who is Madhumatī Sakhī in Vraja-līlā). When it was time to bring the daughter-in-law home, the concerned parents, seeing Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura’s indifference towards family life, approached Narahari Sarkāra [and requested him to convince their only son to be a gṛhastha]. Thus his spiritual master ordered him, “Accept the gṛhastha āśrama and do your bhajana. There is no loss in this.”
Following his order, Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura proceeded to his in-laws’ place to bring his wife home, but he could not recall its exact location since he was very young when he had gotten married. So he asked a young girl passing by, for directions, addressing her as mātājī. Later, upon arriving at his in-laws’, he realized that in fact it was his wife who he had inquired from. Thenceforth, he always treated his wife as his mother because of once having mistakenly addressed her as mātājī. Such was his dṛḍha pratijñā (firm resolve).
Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura composed a book named Śrī Caitanya-maṅgala. Around that time, Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura happened to author another book with the same title. To resolve this, the Vaiṣṇava community renamed the latter’s work, being bigger in volume, as Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, while the former’s composition remained as Śrī Caitanya-maṅgala.
The Vaiṣṇava etiquette of those times is noteworthy. [Although, at the time there were three Vaiṣṇavas authoring books on a similar theme – the life and precepts of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu – they all acknowledged and revered each other’s contribution]
Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura has addressed Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura in his maṅgalācaraṇa in Caitanya-maṅgala-
[I whole-heartedly glorify Śrī Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura, who enchanted the world with the words of his Caitanya-bhāgavata.]
śeṣa-khaṇḍe, caitanyera ananta vilāsa vistāriyā varṇite āchena veda-vyāsa
(Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi 1.180)
[The unlimited pastimes of Śrī Caitanya in the Antya-khaṇḍa will be described by Vyāsadeva in the future.]
And in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī said –
caitanya-līlāte ‘vyāsa’ – vṛndāvana-dāsa tāṅra kṛpā vinā anye nā haya prakāśa
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi, 8.82)
[Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura is the authorized writer on the pastimes of Lord Caitanya. Without his mercy, therefore, one cannot describe these pastimes.]
caitanya-maṇgale ih'ā likhiyāche sthāne-sthāne satya kahena,—‘’age vyāsa kariba varṇane’
Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya 2.87
[In the Caitanya-maṅgala, Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura has stated in many places the factual truth that Vyāsadeva has already described them previously.]
Even though Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura is the Vyāsa of caitanya-līlā, he proclaimed that in the future, Vyāsa would write more elaborately about the pastimes of Mahāprabhu, whereas Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī said that Vyāsa had already written elaborately about the pastimes of Mahāprabhu but because his book was getting voluminous, he had left some remnants of Mahāprabhu’s pastimes to write about.
This is how Vaiṣṇava etiquette is to be maintained. Otherwise one will be overcome with deceit and fall down.
NIṢṬHA IN ONE’S IṢṬADEVA
Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura’s niṣṭhā towards his iṣṭa was astonishing. Nityānanda Prabhu was his āśraya-vigraha and Caitanya-deva was his viṣaya-vigraha.
Being intensely absorbed in Caitanya-deva, Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura did not speak much about Nityānanda Prabhu in his Caitanya-maṅgala. Nityānanda Prabhu is prakāśa-vigraha [First immediate manifestation or expansion of Kṛṣṇa. Just as Kṛṣṇa manifests Himself through Balarāma, Caitanya-deva manifests Himself through Nityānanda. Thus first one needs to take shelter of Nityānanda Prabhu.] One cannot glorify Śrīmān Mahāprabhu without glorifying Nityānanda Prabhu.
Both, Vṛndāvana Dāsa Ṭhākura and Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, have extensively glorified Nityānanda Prabhu in their respective works – Caitanya-bhāgavata and Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī neither mentioned nor glorified any of his family members. However, he glorified Nityānanda Prabhu by whose mercy he attained Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma, otherwise he would have been guilty of being ungrateful towards Nityānanda Prabhu. He didn’t do it for his own prestige, but just to acknowledge Nityānanda Prabhu’s causeless mercy on him.
So in retrospect, Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura felt remorse in his heart for not glorifying Nityānanda Prabhu in his work, and felt that he had committed an offence. In this mood he lamented, “O! Fie on me! I didn’t glorify Nityānanda Prabhu, the one who gives Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa prema and vraja-vāsa!”
nitāiyer karuṇā habe, vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa pābe, dharô nitāir caraṇa du’khāni
se sambandha nāhi ĵā’ra, bṛthā janma gelô tā’ra, sei paśu baḓô durācāra.
In another place it is said –
guru, vaiṣṇava, bhagavān,--tinera smaraṇa tinera smaraṇe haya vighna-vināśana
This is the recommended sequence of offering respects. First pay obeisances to guru, then to Vaiṣṇavas then Bhagavān. All obstacles go away just by remembering them. What are the obstacles? Anything that checks one’s progress in hari-bhakti is an obstacle.
That is why Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura went on to extensively glorify Nityānanda Prabhu through his many kīrtanas, like Nityānanda-mahimā Socaka, Prārthanā, Durlabha-sāra, Jagannātha-vallabha-nāṭaka, a poetic rendition of Rāsa-pañcādhyāya, to name a few. Those kīrtanas stand testimony to his unprecedented niṣṭhā in Nityānanda Prabhu.
Some of his compositions are -
nitāi guṇa-maṇi āmār nitāi guṇa-maṇi āniyā premera vanyā bhāsāilô avanī
akrodha paramānanda nityānanda rāya abhimāna-śūnya nitāi nagare beḓāya
parama karuṇa, pāhu dui-jana, nitāi gauracandra saba avatāra-sāra-śiromaṇi, kevala ānanda-kanda
In another kīrtana (Nitāi Mora Jīvana-dhana), he said
ĵe-deśe nitāi nāi se-deśe nā ĵā’bô nitāi vimukha janār mukha nā heribô
[I shall never visit any place where Nitāi is absent, and I shall never look upon the face of one who is averse to Him.]
Just see Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura’s sayutha niṣṭhā (niṣṭhā for his guru-varga). Does anyone ordinarily speak like this, with so much resoluteness? But Locana Dāsa Ṭhākura did. On one hand, Vaiṣṇavas are causelessly merciful even to the caṇḍālas and on the other they are not even willing to see the face of anyone who is averse to Nityānanda. This is simply niṣṭhā in Nityānanda and we can get such niṣṭhā only by hearing of their lives and precepts.
He wrote an astonishing line in another song –
locana bôle mora nitāi ĵebā nāhi māne anala bhejāi tā’ra mājha-mukha-khāne
[Locana dāsa declares, “I shall scorch the face of one who has no regard for my Nitāi!”]
Locana dāsa said, “I will set ablaze anyone’s face who doesn’t glorify Nitāi.” Does any sādhu speak like this? Never! But this is just his way of expressing his niṣṭhā towards Nitāi.
[I pray at the feet of Locana dāsa today and beg for his mercy.]
* This lecture includes hari-kathā given on the same tithi on December 25, 2011; January 11, 2016; and December 30, 2016.