Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī
[July 10, 2023 is the disappearance day of Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī in Vṛndāvana, India. The following is an excerpt of the bhāva anuvāda of discourses by Śrīla Bhakti Vijñāna Bhāratī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, given on October 13, 2014, November 5, 2014. February 10, 2013 and April 15, 2012. Editors’ input: Additional text has been included in square brackets to facilitate the flow of content.]
FIRST GAUḌĪYA VAIṢṆAVAS TO REACH VRṆDĀVANA
Śrīla Bhūgarbha Gosvāmī and Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī hailed from the Jessore District, Bangladesh and were related to each other as uncle and nephew. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed them to go to Vṛndāvana, fully aware that it would cause them immense pain to witness His pastime of accepting sannyāsa. Hence they were the first Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas to arrive and live in Vṛndāvana. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī and Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī all came later. No one knew or preached about the glories of Vṛndāvana prior to them. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu assured them that they would meet again when He would visit Vṛndāvana.
After Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu took sannyāsa and went to Purī, they desired to meet with Him there. When they heard the news that Śrīmān Mahāprabhu had already departed for South India, they also went to South India, but then in South India they were informed that Śrīmān Mahāprabhu had already proceeded to Vṛndāvana [Again, by the time they reached Vṛndāvana, Mahāprabhu had already left for Prayāga. Determined to meet with Him, they prepared to set out for Prayāga as well,but Mahāprabhu appeared to them in a dream and instructed them to remain in Vṛndāvana itself.] In this way, out of their intense love for Him, they attempted to meet with Śrīmān Mahāprabhu on different occasions.
SUBJUGATED BY SEVĀ
Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī had vowed that he would never accept disciples, because after awarding dīkṣā, if a disciple commits any sins the guru incurs one-sixth of the portion of those sins, just as the king has to incur one-sixth of the portion of the sins committed by his subjects. Therefore in Kali-yuga, kings cannot remain 'dhārmika' [religious or in other words, sinless]. This is mentioned in the Manu-smṛti.
Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī suggested that Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura take shelter of Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī. [Seeing no other opportunity to serve Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī and attain his grace] Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura would go to the forest in the middle of the night to clean the area where Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī used to go to attend nature’s call. With a broom, Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura would clean the entire area and strain the mud with a cloth leaving only fine and soft mud to cleanse the hands.
Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī was astonished to see the entire area he visited every morning suddenly so clean, even being free from dry leaves and stones and replete with soft sand. He wondered who might be behind this. He hadn’t noticed anyone in particular, nor had such a phenomenon taken place any time before. So Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī kept a vigil one night. He discovered one young lad with a broom, sometimes holding it close to his chest reverentially, sometimes even touching it to his forehead and using it to clean the entire area. Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī confronted him and the boy identified himself as Narottama. “You are a prince and you engage in doing such menial work? What is the purpose behind this?” Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī demanded. Young Narottama explained, “I am seeking your mercy.” At that point, Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī felt greatly obliged to confer dīkṣā upon him. In doing so, he instructed him to first go take a bath and upon his return, gave him the dīkṣā mantras. What happened to the vow of Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī not to accept disciples? He felt greatly obliged and subjugated by the sevā of Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura. Sevā has such power that it even subjugates Bhagavān.
RĀDHĀ-VINODA RECIPROCATES WITH LOKANĀTHA’S INTENSE DESIRE
Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī used to reside at Khadīravana, on the banks of Kiśorī-kuṇḍa [near the village of Umrāo]. There he felt an intense desire to worship Bhagavān in His Deity form, thus his worshipable Deity Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda appeared. [Endnote 1] Where did Bhagavān come from? Who brought Him? Can anyone bring Bhagavān? Bhagavān said, “I have appeared of My own accord and I am extremely hungry.” Bhagavān is telling Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī, who sustained himself only on mādhukarī (begging alms), “I am famished.” Overwhelmed with loving ecstasy upon hearing this, Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī quickly prepared bhoga and fed Him.
I worship Lokanātha Prabhu, the son of Padmanābha, whose life revolved around the wealth of service he possessed in his deity Rādhā-Vinoda.
THE UNUSUAL TEMPLE
Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī made a big harināma jhola [free-styled bag made from cloth] and placed Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda inside it. He would tie that jhola onto a tree branch and it would serve as his [makeshift and unusual] temple for his beloved Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda.
NOT EASY TO REMEMBER VAIṢṆAVAS
It is not easy to have real love and affection for pure devotees. This is very rare to obtain. It is easy to develop so-called love – for material things and for those who are entangled – but to develop love and affection for real devotees, who truly have our best interests in mind, is not so easy. Śrīla Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura is lamenting in one kīrtana: ‘prabhu lokanātha pade nāhika smaraṇa – What an unfortunate situation I am in. Although I have accepted Lokanātha Gosvāmī as my Prabhu, in reality nothing at all ever comes in my mind about his teachings and conduct.’ Why is he lamenting like this? Because only by such remembrance does all-auspiciousness manifest to an individual. Other than such remembrance, Vaiṣṇavas accept nothing auspicious in this world.
Endnote 1: From ‘Pārishads’ by Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Ballabha Tīrtha Gosvāmī Mahārāja
The Lord knows the desires of His devotees and feels Himself obliged to fulfill them. He came personally to give Lokanātha a Deity, telling him that its name was Rādhā-Vinoda before disappearing. Lokanātha was astonished to see the Deity and then filled with anxiety at the thought that the Lord Himself had come and gone. But Rādhā-Vinoda cast His sweet glance on Lokanātha and said to him, “I live here on the banks of Kiśorī-kuṇḍa in the village of Umrāo. I saw your eagerness to serve Me and so I came here Myself. Who else would have brought me to you? I am very hungry. Quickly prepare something for me to eat.