Navadvip was the high seat of learning for the Holy Scriptures in all of India. In fact, Nisikanta Sanyal in his book ‘Sri Krishna Chaitanya’, he describes Navadvip in terms of India in 1930s. He said, “It was the Oxford of India for Vedic studies.”So Narahari Sarakar, living in Navadvip, became a profound scholar of the Holy Scriptures. But not only that, he realized the essence and wrote beautiful books and poems describing the intimate rasas of the love of Vrindavan. This is even before Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu manifested his Sankirtan Movement. He is a great devotee. And some time later when Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu first came back from Gaya, his constant associate was Gadadhar Pandit. You remember the story of how Lord Chaitanya was in so much divine ecstasies of separation from Krishna? Only Gadadhar Pandit had the purity and the intelligence to pacify the Lord. So the Lord’s mother Saci Devi requested Gadadhar Pandit, “Please always remain with my child. Never leave him.” And he took that order very seriously. Gadadhar Pandit, who is approximately the same age as Lord Chaitanya, was in the constant association of Lord Chaitanya. But there was one another associate. And that was Narahari Sarakar. He came into that even before Nityananda Prabhu came to Navadvip. Gadadhar Pandit and Narahari Sarakar were the Lord’s very, very deep loving associates. Narahari’s special service to Lord Chaitanya was to fan him with chamer, the yak tail. In fact, in this beautiful painting by Srila Haridas Thakur Prabhu we see Narahari Sarakar during the Gaura Arati.
narahari-aadi kori’ caamara dhulaaya
As Sanjay, Mukunda and Vasudev Ghosh were singing beautiful kirtan, Narahari would fan Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with the chamar. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami speaks of Narahari Sarakar’s enthusiasm to please the Lord
One time Nityananda Prabhu and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu both came to Srikhanda to the house of Narahari. And they were performing Nama Sankirtan and having Harikatha and just relishing each other’s association. Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda requested Narahari Sarakar, “Please give us sweet honey to drink.” Narahari was so enthusiastic to give Lord Chaitanya honey to drink that just by his desire a lake just outside of his house – of water – transformed into a lake of honey. And even to this day that place is called Madhupushkarini, the lake of honey. Over the centuries it became water again. But the sweetness of Narahari’s devotion is still there.
Now, what does this story tell us? This was his enthusiasm to please the Lord. Lord Nityananda prabhu, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – ‘Give us a little honey.’ So he had such enthusiasm that by his desire he created an entire lake filled with honey. This is the sign of the serious devotee. And ordinary devotee wants to just do what the Lord says, usually minimal. The Lord says chant sixteen rounds. “I will do it; I will get the sixteen rounds done.” Somehow or the other I do it. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Finally finished! Last bead!
Or (the Lord says) ‘Do some cooking.’ I will cook and I did it. It’s finish! So we just want to get our service done. But the sign of a really sincere devotee is that the devotee wants to qualitatively and quantitatively do as much as he or she possibly can for the Lord. We want to do more and more and more to our capacity. That’s love.
Love is not just official. Official may be the basic minimum to develop love. But as we become more sincere, it’s from the heart. So this was Narahari Sarakar. If he would have given a teaspoon of honey to Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda, they would have been satisfied. But his desire was not a teaspoon. His desire was a lake. If he was living in Puri he probably would have made the whole ocean of honey. But because he only had a lake near his house he made the whole lake honey. That was his desire. And that was how Lord just reciprocated with his desire. What was internal, the Lord manifested externally for the whole world to see. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami elaborates on Narahari Sarakar’s exalted position
After Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu departed from this world, very soon many of the associates of Lord Chaitanya were also departing. Narahari Sarakar, he was living then in Srikhanda. He was such a merciful empowered preacher. Who were his disciples? Raghunanadan Thakur was his initiated disciple. Locana Das Thakur was his initiated disciple; we are speaking about that great personality who wrote Sri Chaitanya Mangal, one of the greatest of the biographies of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu worshiped by the Vaishnavas. He was the obedient servant of Narahari Sarakar. – Radhanath Swami
When Srinivas Acharyas was just a young man, just a teenager, he went to Srikhanda and took shelter of Narahari Sarakar. Narahari Sarakar loved him like a father to a son. He embraced him. He wept tears of affection on Srinivas Acharya. He deeply instructed him in the science of Krishna Consciousness and blessed him for great success in his life. Srinivas Acharya loved Narahari Sarakar more than his life. He accepted him as a Shiksha Guru – heart and soul. He was initiated by Gopal Bhatta Gowami, but Narahari Sarakar was deeply his Siksha guru. Narottam Das Thakur, the great acharya, he went to Srikhanda and took shelter of Narahari Sarakar, received instructions and blessings from him. Narottam Das Thakur accepted him as a prominent Siksha Guru in his life, as did Shyamananda Prabhu. He was such an attractive person. The greatest saints worshiped him, what to speak of the common people. He was so kind, so loving to everyone! He didn’t discriminate who is fit and who is unfit. He fully carried the full-fledged mercy of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda in his heart and distributed profusely.
Srinivas Acharya was completely detached from everything of this world. He was absorbed in the highest rasas of Krishna Prema. But Narahari Sarakar understood Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s desire for Srinivas Acharya. One time when Srinivas Acharya was in Srikhanda with Narahari, Narahari told him, “It is Lord Chaitanya’s desire. He has revealed through my heart that you must get married.” Hare Krishna! Now, Srinivas Acharya was more of a brahmachari than anyone could ever be a brahmachari. He wasn’t just doing tapasya. He was tasting madhurya rasa. But Narahari told him, “You get married.” And because it came from Narahari Sarakar, without the slightest arguement, without the slightest question, Srinivas Acharya, with Narahari Sarakar’s help, was married. This was the stature of this great soul. He was teaching, he was showing so much affection, and he was constantly performing Nama-Sankirtan.
Radhanath Swami explains Narahari Sarkar’s love for devotees
One time Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to him in a dream. And Lord Chaitanya personally instructed him to have three deities of Lord Gauranga made and installed in three different places. And Narahari manifested those three deities of Lord Chaitanya: one in Katwa or Kanaka Nagar, the other in Ganga Nagar and the third in Srikhanda. The deity of Lord Gauranga that Lord Chaitanya manifested within the heart of Narahari Sarakar manifested in such a beautiful form. Narahari Sarakar made that deity his life and soul. He personally did the puja. He personally performed the Nama Sankirtan for that deity’s pleasure. And his whole preaching mission was to bring people to the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga who has appeared so mercifully before our eyes. And that deity became so attractive to the hearts of Vaishnavas in all directions, because he was worshiped by the love of Narahari Sarakar in Srikhanda.
But gradually so many devotees were departing from the world. And Narahari loved the devotees so much. You can understand how much love for Krishna you have by how much love you have for his devotees. If you think you love the deity, but you don’t have love for the devotees, if you want to serve and give things to the deities, but you don’t want to serve and offer to the devotees, that is called Kanistha. It is the lowest platform of devotional service. The Madhyam Adhikari wants to love and serve the deities, the devotees. Senior devotees, we want to take instructions from them and carry out their orders; equal devotees, we want to make intimate loving friends with them; and junior devotees, we want to serve them by being a good example and by giving care and nourishment to their lives. And to those who are non-devotees, if they are innocent, we want to serve them by preaching, by somehow or other connecting them. And to the atheists we serve them by keeping a respectable distance so that they do not engage in unnecessary offenses to the Lord. But in all states we are always servant. And we find in the lives of the great souls who love Krishna, how much they loved each other. That’s spiritual advancement. No false ego. When you love someone you are not envious of them. Envy is very opposite to love. When you love someone, you want the best for them. If a father or mother really loves their child, they want their child to do better than them in everything. They want the child to have what they didn’t have. Yes? They want their child not to make the mistakes that they are suffering as results from. That’s love.
So when Vaishnavas love each other, they are thrilled with happiness to see another Vaishnav getting mercy. They want to see everyone go back to Godhead. They want to see everyone in the joy of Krishna Consciousness. They want to see everyone being empowered; no that I have to be empowered; let everybody else be empowered, and let me serve them. That’s love. Not that let me be empowered and everyone should serve me. Let everyone be empowered, and let me do everything I can to give them that empowerment. And let me honor them and serve them. That is Vaishnav. – Radhanath Swami
We may serve them from a higher or lower position by social status, but that’s our mentality. Srila Prabhupada was praying that all of his disciples did more than him. It’s not that he wanted – don’t go beyond this level, because then you might supersede me. All of his disciples and all of his grand disciples and all of his great grand disciples and all of his great, great, great grand disciples, the more you go down, the greater they become. Great, great, great, great, great! And when we see people as great, what happens to us? The more we see other people as great, the more we become grateful. And a grateful heart is a heart that the Lord is pleased to reside in. So the love of the Vaishnavas is something very special.
Radhanath Swami on the disappearance of Narahari Sarakar
In Katwa, worshiping one of the deities that was brought by Narahari, was Gadadhar das. Now there are three villages and towns that are quit close to each other. There is Katwa (Kantakanagar), Jajigram which is the birth place of Srinivas Acharya and where he resided, and Srikhanda. Gadadhar Das, according to Chaitanya-Charitamrita and Gaura-Ganodesha-Dipika was the incarnation of Srimati Radharani’s effulgence. He was all merciful. He was one the most empowered prominent preachers of Krishna Consciousness, one of the intimate associates of Lord Chaitanya. When Nityananda Prabhu was sent from Puri to Bengal to preach there, he gave him two of his closest most loving devotees – Abhiram Thakur and Gadadhar Das. We know the stories of Gadadhar Das. He was so absorbed. He even transcendentally preached and changed the hearts of violent vicious enemies of the Hindu faith. Unbelievable! I mean, he was preaching to people who were on the level of this Osama Bin Laden. How many of you would go to his house and say, “Chant the names of Lord Hari!” That’s what Gadadhar Das did to a Kazi, who was a hateful terrorist. He said, “Chant the names of Hari now, today!” Kazi was shocked. He said, “Gadadhar! I will chant the names of Hari tomorrow.”
“Ah! You have already chanted the names of Hari! Hari! Hari! Hari! Now you are librated,” and he was dancing all over his house. Chanting, chanting, chanting, crying! “You chanted the name of Hari. No tomorrow, today you have done!”
So he worshiped the deity of Lord Chaitanya in Katwa, and Gadadhar dasa’s very dear disciple was Yadunandan. Srinivas Acharya took a pilgrimage to Vrindavan. When he returned, he stopped in Katwa. There he received the news that on the Krishnastami of the month of Kartik, Gadadhar das disappeared from the world. Because of his love for the devotees, when he heard of different great souls in Vrindavan, Jagganath Puri and Bengal who were leaving this world, Gadadhar Das just went to a secluded place and in the ecstasy of love and separation chanted the holy names and gave up his life. Srinivas Acharya was shocked. Then he went to Srikhanda after a short visit to Jajigram, and there he met Raghunandan Thakur.
Raghunandan told him what had just happened in Srikhanda.
Narahari Sarakar was hearing so much news about different devotees departing from this world. And when he heard that Gadadhar Das just went to a secluded place, practically stopped eating and sleeping, just chanting the holy names of Krishna gave up his life, Narahari Sarakar went to a secluded place and in the highest ecstasies of spiritual love he chanted the holy names. And on Ekadashi, Utpanna Ekadashi, which is the day we are celebrating today, Narahari Sarakar gave up his life. He spent days and days and days just crying in love in separation from the Lord and his devotees. And then gave up his life in his old age. – Radhanath Swami