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The Third Vilasa
All glories to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda, Advaita Acarya and all the devotees. Please bestow your mercy upon me. All glories to the listeners, who are an ocean of mercy. Now listen attentively as I continue my narration.
After consulting with all the mahantas of Vraja, Shri Jiva Gosvami determined an auspicious date for sending all of the Gosvami's manuscripts to Gauda. It had previously been predicted by the Lord Himself that these books would be distributed far and wide. Thus Shri Jiva handed over all the precious manuscripts to Shrinivasa Acarya, who was responsible for carrying them to Gauda. In this regard Shri Thakura Mahasaya composed one famous sloka: "When shall I see the abode of mercy, Shri Chaitanya Deva who has distributed his power in two ways; He invested Shri Rupa, and others, with the power to write devotional books wherein priceless treasures of spiritual knowledge shine like brilliant jewels. And He has empowered Shrinivasa to circulate them. Thus I worship the lotus feet of Shri Chaitanya Deva who has manifested these two powerful mediums to shower His mercy upon this world."
Shri Jiva Gosvami's knowledge and devotion was deeper than millions oceans. Although his outward expression was most stable, inwardly he was extremely emotional and greatly perturbed at the thought of separation from Narottama and Shrinivasa. Nevertheless, he calmly helped Shrinivasa to say good-bye to everyone and gave him his blessings to start for Gauda at an auspicious moment.
With great affection Lokanatha Gosvami handed over his dear disciple, Narottama, to the hands of Shrinivasa. Again and again he instructed Narottama, "Always remember to serve the Deities and dedicate your life to spreading the sankirtana movement." Narottama happily accepted these instructions as his life and soul, and Shrinivasa accepted the charge of Narottama jubilantly. Putting Syamananda and Narottama under the care of Shrinivasa, Shri Jiva said, "From now on, these boys are yours." He ordered Syamananda, "First go to Gauda, then travel to Utkala via Shri Ambika Puri." (This is elaborately described in Bhaktiratnakara). Thus taking the blessings of all the mahantas, they started their long journey to Gauda. The carts filled with the priceless treasure of books moved ahead and eleven armed guards from Vraja followed behind. With a disturbed mind, Shri Jiva Gosvami accompanied the party to Mathura. The residents of Mathura greeted them ecstatically and they rested there for the night. Their departure the following morning, however, was a pathetic scene, no one could bear to see them go.
After a long journey Shrinivasa, Narottama and Syamananda finally reached Gaudamandala and headed through the woods in the direction of Vanavisnupura. In the midst of the forest they came upon a village were they decided to halt for the night. Generally they were extremely cautious about protecting the books at night. However, on this night, due the desire of the Lord, they all fell sound asleep.
Meanwhile, the local king, Vira Hamvira, had received a report that many carts filled with jewels, carried by a number of wealthy persons, had arrived in their village. Hearing this, the enthusiastic king at once sent a team of dacoits to rob them. The dacoits easily robbed the caskets and carried them to the king. Without even opening the caskets the king suddenly became overwhelmed with awe and bowed to the ground again and again. Bewildered, the king exclaimed, "O, what has happened to me? What kind of jewels are in these caskets?" Saying this the king began to weep inexplicably. In this way the goddess of devotion transcendentally tricked the king. Feeling uncertain about the robbery, the king secretly opened the caskets and found the books. Repentant, he cried out, "Alas, what have I done. I don't know who the gentlemen are whom I have hurt. If I am fortunate enough to meet them, I shall certainly seek their refuge and return their books." Sitting alone in a secluded place the king lamented in this way.
In the morning when Shrinivasa and his party awoke they were horrified to find that the precious life-long works of the Gosvami's had been stolen by dacoits. The miserable scene which then insued is too heart-breaking to describe. Throwing themselves on the ground they cried out loudly in utter despair. They were unable to pacify one another. A long time passed in heated lamentation, until Shrinivasa calmed himself down and tried to pacify the others. "On our long journey we passed safely through many dangerous places. But here we accidentally fell asleep and everything has been easily stolen. There must be some hidden purpose behind this incident." Shri Thakura Mahasaya also took heart and privately said, "This must be a divine arrangement in order that this country receive some special mercy." At that time they suddenly heard an oracle in the sky, "Do not worry, the books will soon be recovered."
Shortly thereafter, someone whispered to Shrinivasa, "The king is the real culprit, go to Vanavisnupura." Hearing this, Shrinivasa first consoled his companions and sent a letter to Vrndavana. He requested Shri Thakura Mahasaya to go to Kheturi without hesitation, and told Syamananda, "Go immediately to Utkala via Shri Kheturi. I shall go to Vanavisnupura and fetch the books, then I will send you a letter to reassure you that the books have been recovered. Now don't worry and don't think about anything else." Saying this he bade farewell to them. It was impossible for them to disobey the order of Shri Acarya, yet they could not conceal their grief when they were about to leave. Together Narottama and Syamananda traveled to Kheturi, but Narottama did not let Syamananda go to Utkala.
In Vanavisnupura Shrinivasa bestowed his mercy upon King Vira Hamvira, who happily returned the books without hesitation. Later the king, along with his followers and family, took shelter under the lotus feet of Shrinivasa and became great devotees. This incident is elaborately described in Bhaktiratnakara.
Relieved and happy, Shri Acarya Thakura sent word to Vrndavana assuring the devotees that the books had been recovered. He also sent a letter to relieve the minds of Thakura Mahasaya and Syamananda in Kheturi. Upon receiving the news they joyfully raised their hands, singing and dancing ecstatically. Shri Santosa Datta, the son of Shri Purusottama Datta, was also jubilant. Santosa was the son of Narottama's uncle and was full of all good qualities. Krishnananda Datta had appointed him as the heir to the throne. He was a good and kind hearted king and gave profuse charity to the brahmanas, scholars and poor. Shri Thakura Mahasaya happily sent a reply to Shrinivasa in Vanavisnupura.
Thereafter Syamananda took his leave. The parting of Narottama and Syamananda was a pathetic scene. Even the animals and birds cried upon hearing the loving exchange between the two dear friends. Shri Thakura Mahasaya selected an escort to accompany Syamananda to Utkala, and Syamananda began his journey with a heavy heart.
Syamananda traveled to Ambika via Navadvipa. There he was overwhelmed with ecstatic emotion upon observing the temple of Shri Gaura-Nitai. Seeing Syamananda crying helplessly, someone rushed to inform Shri Hrdaya Chaitanya of Syamananda's arrival, "Your Duhkhi Krishnadasa is here. I saw him lying on the ground in front of the temple praying to the Lord with extreme humility. I was completely amazed by the boy's expressions of love and devotion. I cannot describe how his eyes incessantly shed tears. Since he did not come to see you, I ran here immediately to inform you of his arrival."
Hearing this, Thakura was jubilant and excitedly requested that the man immediately bring Syamananda to see him, "I am eagerly waiting for him", he said. "I am very proud of his devotional service. After taking initiation from me, he lived here for a long time and captured Shri Nitai Chaitanya with the bonds of his love. I affectionately sent him to Vrndavana, where he completed his devotional studies. During that time he wrote me regularly to inform me of his progress. Understanding his thirst for knowledge, I permitted him to carry on. In Vrndavana he was so happily engaged in the service of the Nikunja, that eventually his named was changed from Duhkhi to Syamananda. Everyone in Vrndavana loves him dearly. He had already written to me that he would be coming here soon. By the desire of Gaura Nitai he will perform exalted service which will be acknowledged throughout the world. Mind you, he is my favorite disciple and I am anxious to see him after such a long time."
At that moment Syamananda appeared on the spot and fell at the feet of his spiritual master. Shri Hrdaya Chaitanya Thakura affectionately placed his feet on Syamananda's head. When he tried to embrace his disciple, Syamananda shrank away and stood in a distant place. Nevertheless Thakura grabbed him and embraced him lovingly then took him to the temple of Mahaprabhu.
There he dedicated Syamananda to the feet of Gaura-Nitai. Thakura then brought Syamananda to his house and gave him the remnants of his food to eat, which Syamananda relished happily. Thakura eagerly inquired about recent events, and Syamananda pleased his guru with an elaborate description of everything.
Syamananda stayed with his spiritual master for a long time serving him wholeheartedly. However, one day Hrdaya Chaitanya said, "Do not delay any longer, you must leave for Utkala at once. The Lord has many plans for you to execute there." Saying this, he brought Syamananda before Gaura-Nitai and gave him the garland offered to the Deities. After bestowing his blessings upon Syamananda, Hrdaya Chaitanya bade him farewell. Crying pathetically, Syamananda said good-bye to his spiritual master, who was also unable to hold back his tears.
I will not describe Syamananda's journey to Utkala, but I shall mention that along the way Syamananda freely distributed his mercy and saved many fallen souls from the repetition of birth and death. In Utkala he accepted many disciples, of which Shri Rasikananda was one. Due to the powerful preaching of Syamananda and his disciples the whole country became purified. I have elaborately described these incidents in Bhaktiratnakara.
When Syamananda finally arrived in Utkala he immediately sent a letter to Shri Thakura Mahasaya to inform him of his safe arrival. Thakura Mahasaya, who had been waiting anxiously to hear from Syamananda, was happy and relieved to receive his letter. He immediately sent the letter on to the devotees in Vanavisnupura, and wrote a reply to Syamananda.
Shri Thakura Mahasaya then left Kheturi and started for Navadvipa. Narottama remained in an ecstatic loving trance as he traveled, like a maddened elephant. A continuous shower of tears streamed down his face, wetting his chest. Everyone who saw him observed his expressions of divine love with astonishment. As he passed through various villages the residents became enchanted by his presence and followed along behind him. Once he set foot in a village, the inhabitants ran to greet him, swarming around him like bumblebees. And when he left the village, the inhabitants sank into the depths of sorrow.
Traveling in this way he eventually reached the boarder of Navadvipa. Observing the beautiful countryside he began to lament, "O most merciful Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Why have you sent me into this world now? Being unable to witness your divine pastimes in Nadia I am lost in intense suffering." Thinking in this way, he walked on very slowly, crying pitifully. But to his astonishment, when he entered Navadvipa proper, he found that each and every house was full of joy and happiness. In every corner the loud chanting of "Hari, Hari" resounded. From all directions men and women eagerly rushed to the house of Shri Chaitanya. There the Lord and His associates danced ecstatically in sankirtana, thus Navadvipa was floating in the an ocean of happiness.
For some time Narottama enjoyed the vision of this joyous scene, when suddenly, everything changed. Again the city of Nadia was sunk into the depths of despair. Narottama burst out crying, "O Lord, what have I seen?" Narottama sat thoughtfully for some time, then eventually asked a passerby where he could find the house of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. With his head hung down, tears streaming from his eyes, the man replied, "Look over there, that is the house of Prabhu, go in this way." Seeing the Lord's house Narottama began to cry also.
At that time Suklambara brahmacari happened to be passing by and his curiosity was aroused upon seeing Narottama. Narottama bowed to his feet, and Suklambara asked, "Who are you"? When Narottama stated his name, Suklambara immediately broke out in tears and warmly embraced Narottama with deep affection. With a choked voice he explained to Narottama, "When Gaurachandra was absorbed in ecstatic trance in the village of Ramakeli, He called out your name lovingly. Who can understand the mystery of the Lord's pastimes? At that time he predicted your arrival here. O my son, all the mahantas, including myself, have been eagerly waiting for you. Actually Prabhu's disappearance is unbearable for us. Some of us have already disappeared from this world."
He then introduced himself to Narottama and brought him to meet all the other remaining devotees of Gauranga. Narottama worshipped everyone's feet, and they embraced him. Though they were merged in intense suffering due to separation from the Lord, they felt immediate relief and happiness upon seeing Narottama. They eagerly questioned Narottama about many things, and Narottama happily answered them all. Damodara Pandita and others did not want Narottama to leave them, thus Narottama stayed in Nadia a few more days in the houses of the favorite associates of Mahaprabhu. Narottama was so fortunate that in his dreams he was able to meet those devotees who he had not met there due to their demise.
After a few days passed the devotees reluctantly, and with heavy hearts, allowed Narottama to leave. They told him sweetly, "Prabhu has kept us alive only to see you. But, alas, we will not be able to see Shrinivasa." Saying this, their voices choked with emotion. With a perturbed mind, Narottama touched everyone's feet and went to Gaurachandra's house for a final visit. There he found even the servants and maidservants of Prabhu on the verge of death, due to separation. Seeing Narottama, their misery doubled. Blessing Narottama they said, "Due to the wish of Prabhu, you will execute His plans and perform wonderful service." Then they bade him farewell. Narottama cried loudly and fell on the ground in the courtyard of Gauranga. After a long time, he controlled himself and started for Santipura.
Narottama was charmed by the beauty of Santipura. He went to the house of Advaita Acarya and worshipped the feet of Shri Acyutananda, son of Advaita Prabhu. He was merciful to Narottama and introduced to him to all the devotes. Later he ordered Narottama, "Go to Nilacala first and then come back to your place and begin to popularize kirtana." Saying this he began to weep and his thin body trembled. Narottama again worshipped the feet of all the devotees and took his leave.
Arriving at Harinadi village he crossed the Ganges and entered Ambika. There he asked someone where he could find the house of Hrdaya Chaitanya Pandita, and found out that he was not far away. Someone who had seen Narottama pass by, rushed ahead to Hrdaya Chaitanya and informed him excitedly, "A beautiful young man who is filled with love for Gaura-Nitai is coming to see you." Shri Hrdaya Chaitanya immediately understood that it was non-other than his beloved Narottama. Filled with emotion, he ran to the door step to welcome his disciple. Narottama fell at the feet of his Guru, who tearfully welcomed him, taking him in his lap. He then took Narottama to the temple of Gaura-Nitai for darsana. Seeing his beloved Lord's before him, Narottama fell on the ground crying. Hrdaya Chaitanya pacified him and gave him the Deities garland.
With great affection, Shri Hrdaya Chaitanya kept Narottama with him for 2 to 4 days and then, after dedicating him to the feet of Gaura-Nitai, ordered him to go to Nilacala. All the great Bhagavatas, including Shri Hrdaya Chaitanya, were deeply aggrieved to see him go.
Narottama traveled quickly, eager to reach Khardaha. He became so excited upon entering Khardaha proper, that he lost his usual reserve. Mahesa Pandita and others rushed to greet Narottama when they saw him approaching. "We were dying with separation from the Lord," they said, "but now you have come to soothe our aching hearts, like a cooling oasis in the desert of misery. We have known about you for a long time and have already heard about your travels to Vrndavana, the stealing of the manuscripts, as well as your visit to Navadvipa. We are so happy to finally see you." Saying this they each introduced themselves, and Narottama tearfully worshipped their feet.
Thereafter they took Narottama to the house of Prabhu. When Shri Vasu and Jahnava were told of Narottama's arrival, they eagerly requested that he be brought to the interior of the house immediately. Entering the room, Narottama felt himself extremely fortunate and worshipped the feet of the two Isvaris, then bowed to the lotus feet of Shri Virabhadra. Upon seeing Narottama, Shri Vasu and Jahnava could not conceal their overwhelming love for him. "The title Mahasaya is rightly attributed to him," they said. Out of affection, they kept Narottama with them for four days and all of the devotees of Khardaha came to meet him. Shri Vasu, Jahnava and Viracandra could not bear to leave him for a moment. The all-knowing Shri Jahnava Thakurani privately spoke to Narottama and ordered him to go to Nilacala soon. At the time of Narottama's departure, Mahesa Pandita and others embraced Narottama again and again and also advised him to go to Nilacala. Narottama bowed to their feet and took his leave crying. The devotees accompanied him for some distance, then after pacifying themselves, as well as Narottama, they returned home. He who attentively hears this narration of Narottama's journey in Gauda will have his desires fulfilled. So listen attentively as I, Shri Narahari Dasa, narrate Narottama Vilasa.