Srila Locana Dasa Thakura

Srila Locan Dasa Thakura took his birth in a family of brahmans who lived in a village in the Rada-desh, in Mahakumara, near Katwa, in the Burdhaman district of Bengal. When he was only a little boy, he enjoyed the good fortune of meeting the devotees of Sri Gauranga. His guru was Narahari Sarakara Thakura.

In his Caitanya Mangala, Srila Locana Dasa Thakura has written: "My hope of hopes is to be near the lotus feet of Sri Narahari Thakura, to serve and worship him with my very life. The cherished desire of the fallen Locana Dasa is to be allowed by the grace of Narahari to sing the glories of Sri Gauranga. My Lord is Sri Narahari Thakura and I am his servant. Bowing and praying before him I beg him to allow me his service. This is my only aspiration."

Previously in Bengal the poets used to compose sacred songs and verses in different forms of classic rhymes and rythmic meters called Panchali. The Panchali style of composition was especially used for glorifying the Lord. Srila Locana Dasa Thakura used the Panchali form of verse-meter in composing his famous work, Sri Caitanya Mangala. The Panchali form employs five different kinds of song-styles.

The name of Sri Locana Dasas father was Sri Kamalakara Dasa. His mother's name was Sri Sadanandi. Locana Dasa was his father's only son and so was the darling of his parents. He spent the better part of his years staying at the house of his grandparents. There began his studies and his education. At a very young age, Sri Locana Dasa was married. From early childhood, Sri Locana Dasa had great attachment for Sri Gauranga and at the same time great detachment from material enjoyment.
In the prime of his youth he went to Sri Khanda where he found his gurudeva, Sri Narahari Sarakara Thakura, and took shelter at his lotus feet. He stayed there for some time, and there he was instructed in kirtan.

The principle source material that was drawn upon by Sri Locana Dasa Thakura in composing his Caitanya Mangala was a Sanskrit book by Murari Gupta called Sri Caitanya Caritamritam.
Locana Dasa Thakura explains this in his Caitanya Mangala as follows: "That very Murari Gupta who lived in Nadiya composed many Sanskrit verses about the life of Sri Gauranga, which he later arranged in the form of a book. Having heard these verses from Murari Gupta, Damodara Pandit taught them to me, and I memorized them with great delight. As these Sanskrit verses, and the conception of Caitanya Mahaprabhu imparted to me through Damodara Pandita, developed within my mind, it flowed forth from me in the form of these Panchali verses in Bengali, which I write in glorification of the life and pastimes of Sri Caitanya." (C.M. Sutra-Khanda)

In his preface to the Caitanya Mangala, Srila Locana Dasa Thakura offers his prayers to Vrindavan dasa Thakura before proceeding with the narrative. He says, "I offer my prayers of submission to Vrindavana Dasa Thakura with all my heart. The sweet song of his Caitanya Bhagavata has enchanted the whole world." (C.M. Sutra-Khanda)

Vrindavan Dasa Thakura's Caitanya Bhagavata was originally called Caitanya Mangala. It is said that Srila Locana Dasa Thakura and Srila Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami gave it the name Caitanya Bhagavata. Krishnadasa Kavriaja Goswami writes:

krishna lila bhagavate kahe vedadvyasa,
chaitanya lilara vyasa-vrindavana dasa.

"Vedavyasa has described the pastimes of Krishna in his Bhagavata. The Vyasa of Caitanya Lila is Vrindavan Dasa."

From this comparison between Vedavyasa and Vrindavana Dasa, it has been concluded that Kaviraja Goswami is probably responsible for Vrindavan Dasa Thakur's work becoming known as the Bhagavata of Caitanya Lila or Chaitanya-Bhagavata.

There are many pastimes of Sri Caitanya that have only been touched on briefly by Vrindvana Dasa Thakura. These are described in detail in the Caitanya Mangala of Locana Dasa Thakura.

The Caitanya Mangala is divided into four parts: Sutra Khanda, Adi Khanda, Madhyama Khanda and Shesha Khanda. The Sutra Khanda has two chapters, Adi Khanda has seven chapters, the Madhyama Khanda twelve, and the Shesha Khanda three. The contents of the Adi Khanda are as follows.
The first chapter in the Sutra Khanda is called Mangalaracharanam, or auspicious invocation. It begins with a song of the glories of Sri Caitanya and then praises the Vaishnavas who were personal associates of Sri Caitanya. After this, Locana Dasa Thakura offers respects to his gurudeva, Narahari Sarakara Thakura, and prays for his guru's mercy. He offers his obeisances at the lotus feet of the countless devotees and personal associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, known and unknown. Having prayed for the blessings of guru and vaishnavas, Locana Dasa explains that Murari Gupta had written a book in Sanskrit called the Caitanya Caritamritam, and that since that book is no longer available, he is giving its essence in the form of Bengali verse called Panchali. He then briefly describes the subjects found in the Adi, Madhya, and Shesha Khandas.
The second chapter of the Sutra Khanda is called Grantharambha, for here the book actually begins. In this chapter Locana Dasa relates how he heard from Damodara Pandita the story of Jaimini's Mahabharata recital, wherein he describes a conversation between Narada and Uddhava. In that conversation Narada explained the cause of Krishna's appearance in the golden form of Sri Gauranga.

One time Narada saw that with the coming of the age of Kali the living beings had fallen into great suffering. He began to worry about how they could be delivered and the principles of dharma restored. Thinking in this way, he decided that only Krishna's descent into this world would deliver the fallen souls and restore the principles of religion. Wanting to appeal to Krishna to descend as an avatara, he set out for Dwaraka dham. At that time, Krishna was staying in the palace of Sri Rukmini devi.
Just then, upon learning that Sri Krishna would soon appear on earth in a golden form, with the golden luster and devotional mood of Radharani, Rukminidevi became deeply troubled. Feeling separation from the Lord, she fell at the lotus feet of Krishna and began praising the qualities of Sri Radha - whose devotion was so glorious that Krishna wanted to honor her by assuming her luster and mood. At that time Narada entered the room. He explained to Krishna the reason for his trip - that he wanted Krishna to descend to the earth planet in order to deliver the fallen souls. At that time, Krishna revealed to him how in the future he would appear as the son of Sacidevi and Jagannatha Mishra in Nabadwipa dham: in a golden form with all his transcendental associates.
Having seen that golden form revealed, Narada was overwhelmed with ecstasy. Constantly thinking of this golden form and the Lord's plans to appear in Navadwipa dhama as Sri Gauranga, Narada the best of munis went to visit Naimisharanya, all the while singing the glories of the Lord. There, in answer to Uddhava's inquiries about the welfare of the living beings, he explained how in Kali-yuga - the best of all ages because of Sri Gauranga's advent - Krishna would appear in a golden form as Sri Gauranga and perform the kirtan of the holy name of Hari. Narada told Uddhava how the Lord would come to establish the Sankirtana of the holy name of Krishna as the yuga-dharma, the religious principle for the age of Kali. Narada explained the glories of kirtana.
Thereafter, Narada Muni related to Uddhava the discussion that had previously taken place when he had gone to Kailasa and visited Lord Shiva, the best of Vaishnavas. There, Narada and Parvati discussed the glories of Mahaprasada, having heard of the glories of Mahaprasada from Narada, Parvati had performed 12 years of Lakshmi-seva. By her mercy, Parvati got some of Laksmidevi's own mahaprasada and also gave shiva a small bit of that prasada. Not able to tolerate the dancing of Lord Shiva upon obtaining this Mahaprasada, the earth came before Parvati, begging her to give the Mahaprasada of the Vaishanvas to all the jivas. With this proposal, Parvati explained how the Gaura-avatara would come in kaliyuga and distribute Mahaprasada to all the fallen souls.
After this, Narada went to Brahma and discussed the Gaura-avatara with him. Brahma, the creator, at that time explained to him the essential subject of the Shrimad Bhagavatam, and showed him how the version of the Bhagavatam supported the gaura-avatara. After this, Narada began wandering here and there. As he went from place to place he became concerned about he sufferings of the jivas. As he was worrying about the living entities in this way, he came near Jagannatha Puri. There he heard a divine voice discussing the avatara of Jagannatha. On the order of the divine voice he went to Puri. From there, the Lord ordered him to go to Goloka. First he came to Vaikuntha. After this, he arrived in Goloka, where he saw many pastimes of the Lord. There he saw the Lord in his golden form as Sri Gaura, and fainted in ecstasy. After this, he went all over the universe, informing all the gods of the news.
In Shwetadwipa he saw the supernatural pastimes of Balarama, the very figure of service. After this, all the demigods began taking birth on earth. As previously mentioned by Krishna in his conversation with Rukmini, the Lord, along with Satyabhama, Rukmini, and all his eternal associates from the spiritual world came with the luster and mood of Radharani in a golden form as Sri Gauranga. He came to spread the sankirtan of the holy name of Krishna.
Balarama came as Nityananda, Shiva came as Advaita Prabhu, and other great souls descended as his other eternal associates like Murari, Mukunda, Shrivasa, Raya Ramananda, Ishvara Puri, and Madhavendra Puri. Locana Dasa Thakur concludes the chapter by praising the glories of his guru, Sri Narahari Sarakara Thakura, and his nephew Raghunandana Thakura.

The first chapter of the Adi lila of Caitanya Mangala describes the Janma-lila, or birth pastimes, of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The chapter first describes the advent of the Lord's eternal associates, who appeared in this world before Mahaprabhu Himself.
Locana Thakura describes the Lord as the remote and immediate cause of creation, the Parabrahman, Sri Narayana Himself. That Supreme Personality of Godhead descended within the womb of Sacidevi and advented Himself upon this earth. In this way, gradually Saci's womb grew day by day, and her body assumed a supernatural effulgence. Seeing her wonderful bodily effulgence, everyone was astonished, and thought, "Surely a great personality is about to take birth from the womb of Sri Sacidevi."
When her "pregnancy" was in its sixth month, one day Advaita Acharya Prabhu went to the house of Sacidevi and Jagannatha Mishra. Arriving there, he offered his obeisances to the child in the womb of Mother Saci and then circumambulated her. Sacidevi and Jagannatha Mishra could not understand the cause of Advaita's unusal behavior. In this way, Brahma, Shiva, and the other gods came to offer their respects to that Supreme Personality of Godhead who had hidden himself within the womb of Sacidevi, knowing well that he would soon advent Himself in this world to deliver the lowest of men with the highest nectar of Krishna prema. Detecting their presence, Sacidevi felt great joy. When the heart of Sacidevi was full of mercy for the whole world, that is to say, when the most merciful Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had completely filled her heart, gradually the tenth month came. After this, taking advantage of an auspicious moment on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna, in the midst of Hari-sankirtana, Sri Guarachandra appeared like a golden moon from the ocean of the womb of Mother Saci. In this way, the Lord appeared on earth, and the ten directions were jubilant. The gods and godesses, men and women, eager to see the moonlike face of the son of Saci, hurried to the house of Jagannatha Mishra and Sacidevi. In this way, their home was transformed into Vaikuntha.

Jagannatha Mishra and all the residents of Nadiya who had turned out to see that divine child were all struck with wonder to see his beauty. He had a neck like a lion, arms like the trunks of elephants, and a broad chest. His lotus feet were marked with the auspicious symbols of Lord Vishnu: a flag, a thunderbolt, a rod for driving elephants.
Seeing all these wonderful and superhuman manifestations of divinity in the child, the people there were all astonished. Everyone speculated about his supernatural origin, saying, "He is definitely not an ordinary human." For eight days, the newborn child and its mother were quarantined, as is traditional for childbirth in Bengal, and on the ninth day a great festival was held. At that time, all the neighbors were filled with great joy to see the boy, and their attraction for him increased.

The second chapter of the Adi Khanda describes the Lord's bala-lila childhood pastimes. Here, Locana dasa Thakura describes how after six months, the grain-eating ceremony of Sri Gaurasundara was held, and after this the name-giving ceremony was performed. At the appearance of the Lord, the whole world was delighted. Since the Lord gave pleasure to the whole world, the brahmanas said his name should be Vishvambhara. Soon, Vishvambara began to walk, by holding onto Jagannatha Mishra's finger with his tiny hand. The different women in the village used to decorate him with different ornaments, and they would wonder at the beautiful effulgence that emanated from the child, which was as bright as millions of moons.The moon outside can brighten the darkness of night only slightly, but the moon of Sri Gaurachandra can eliminate all darkness, both within and without.

Sacidevi would sing to her son while threshing wheat, and at that time, all the demigods are offer prayers to her son. Seeing this, Sacidevi was quite amazed. Sometimes she would see Gaurahari chanting the glories of Radha-Krishna with the gods and would become astonished and faint. When she heard ankle-bells ringing on the bare feet of her child, again she was bewildered. Sometimes she was afraid that ghosts were causing a disturbance, and sometimes she would look in the mouth of her child, and, beholding the universal form, become completely astonished.

In this way, gradually Gaurahari grew old enough to play outside, where he astounded his newfound childhood friends with his divine antics. His playmates were quite attached to him. Sacidevi would carry the baby Gaurahari in her arms and watch after him carefully as he ran about, to keep him from smashing everything as he played. Once, he explained to Mother Saci the nature of things pure and impure, instructing her on the aprakrita nature of Krishna, who is master of everything.
While sitting on a heap of broken clay pots soiled with leftovers, he instructed his mother on jnana. Seeing his mother bewildered, he brought her some coconut fruit. In this way, he performed many childhood pranks. He used to play with puppydogs. When Sacidevi chastised him for playing with a dog, and Gaurahari had to give up his pet, he cried tears of anger before Sacidevi. At that time, he bestowed a divine spiritual body upon that dog while performing Harikirtana. The dog went to Vaikuntha, and as Brahma, Shiva, and the other demigods saw the good fortune of the dog they were all amazed. Sacidevi was astonished at the activities of her son, who made her understand his Supreme Position as the Absolute Lord.

The fourth chapter of the Adi Lila of Caitanya Mangala describes the Lord's pauganda, or boyhood lila. Having heard Murari Gupta reciting the yogashastras, the Lord mimicked his gestures and speech, making fun of him and then began to laugh uproariously. Thus Murari Gupta was enraged and chastised the Lord with words of anger. In return, the boy, intending to express his contempt for the conclusions of yogis went to Murari's afternoon lunch and urinated on Murari Gupta's plate. After this, he instructed Murari Gupta on the superiority of Krishna-bhakti.

Finally, the author discusses Mahaprabhu's boyhood performance of sankirtana, and relates what he heard from Damodara Pandit of Murari Gupta's notes on the sannyasa of Vishvarupa, the Lord's older brother. He also relates the lamentation of Sacidevi and Jagannatha upon their son's taking sannyasa. He also recounts many other pastimes performed by the Lord as a boy.
At that time the Lord's hair-cutting ceremony took place. And soon thereafter, the day of Hate-khare, or the first holding of chalk, came. On that day, to signify the beginning of a child's formal education begins, he is given a piece of chalk and a chalkboard, upon which he is to draw the letters of the alphabet. Upon beginning his studies, the Lord was overjoyed to meet many new classmates. On the day that his son's education began, Jagannatha Mishra was very pleased. That night, however, he had a dream in which a brahmana appeared to him and told him that his son Vishvambhara was Bhagavan Himself. Who can educate the Supreme Lord, or discipline him as a small boy? From this, Jagannatha Mishra could understand the supreme position of his child. When his dream broke, he was again overwhelmed with the sentiments of parental love and soon forgot the dream.

At a particular time, the sacred thread ceremony of the boy was performed. After this, there is a discussion of the four ages and the yuga-avatara. In Dvapara-yuga, the Supreme Lord Himself, Sri Krishna the son of Nanda in Vrindavana, makes his appearance on earth. In Kaliyuga, Sri Krishna, appearing with the luster and mood of Sri Radha, advents himself as Sri Gauranga. By performing Sankirtana, he establishes the religious principle for the age of Kali: hari-nama-sankirtana. In order to establish the yuga-dharma, he comes as a preacher. Maddened with Krishna-prema, he delivers all souls with the ecstasy of love of God, by moving here and there and distributing divine love. While in his grihastha-lila, he ordered his mother to refrain from eating grains on Ekadashi, in this way instructed everyone to follow this injunction.

Gradually, Jagannatha Mishra fell ill, and passed away, entering into the Lord's unmanifest pastimes. At that time, the Lord instructed Sacidevi on the fleeting nature of a man's short life within the material world. He also explained many other important principles of divine reality to her. With the passing of her husband, Sacidevi greatly lamented. Gaurahari Himself also lamented the passing of his father. After this time, he began paying close attention to his studies.

Chapter four describes the Lord's pastimes of youth and marriage. One day, after school, the Lord was walking home from his teacher's house and at that time he met Vanamali Acarya. As they talked, the Acharya made the Lord understand that he had just been to see his mother Sacidevi, where he had been making arrangements for the Lord's wedding. Sacidevi had rebuffed him, and unable to secure her permission for the match, Vanamali was a little unhappy. In this way, he was returning to his home, downcast. Sri Gaurahari returned home. Without intimating anything of his conversation with the matchmaker, the Lord informed her of his intentions to wed, saying that she should seek out Vanamali and make the necessary arrangements for the wedding of her son.
She did so, and on the orders of Sacimata, Vanamali Acharya went to Vallabhacharya's house. There he informed Vallabhacarya of the Lord's intent to wed Vallabhacarya's daughter Lakshmidevi.
Having made all the arrangements for the wedding, Sacidevi informed all her friends and relatives of the auspicious event and invited them to the occasion. Everyone floated in the waves of the joyful ocean. In this way, Sacidevi made preparations for her son's wedding.
All the residents of Nadia turned out to see the wedding. The relatives saw to it that all the old traditional Bengali wedding customs were followed. The Hindu ceremony of besmearing the bridegroom and bride with a paste of turmeric and then bathing them on the eve of the wedding was performed, as were many other rituals. The place where the wedding was to be performed was cleansed with sanctified water, and all the Vedic purificatory rites were observed. All this took place at the house of Vallabhacharya. At last, with great pomp and grandeur, in the midst of a great assembly of devotees, relatives and friends, the wedding of Sri Gaurahari and Lakshmidevi was performed in the house of Vallabhacarya.
The Acharya himself performed the Vedic wedding ceremony. He offered his new son-in-law sanctified water and arghya to sweeten his lotus mouth. After this, he brought Lakshmidevi up on the wedding stage and presented her to Gaurahari. Finally, the scriptural sacrifice that is performed at weddings took place. After this, the brahmanas were fed sumptuous prasadam at the conclusion of the wedding, and Sri Lakshmidevi was escorted to her new home as the bride of Sri Gaurahari.

The Fifth Chapter of the Adi Khanda of Caitanya Mangala describes more of the Lord's pastimes of youth, including his tour of Bengal. After some time the Lord journeyed down the banks of the Ganges, sanctifying that holy river even further by the touch of his lotus footsteps. In order to provide for his new family, the Lord set out for East Bengal, where he took up the occupation of teaching. In this way he gave his mercy to the residents of East Bengal who lived on the banks of the Padmavati river. When he returned to Bengal, he found that Lakshmidevi had been unable to tolerate the pain of his absence. She was bitten by the snake of separation and passed away into the unmanifest pastimes of the Lord. Sacidevi was heartbroken and was consoled in her lamentation by Gaurahari who glorified the sublime qualities of Lakshmidevi.

The Sixth Chapter of the Adi Khanda of Caitanya Mangala describes the arrangements made by Sacidevi for the Lord's second wedding. Through Dvija-Kashishvara it was arranged that he was to be wed to the daughter of Sanatana Pandita, Vishnupriya devi. Here, the wedding of Vishnupriya and Gaurahari is elaborately described.

The seventh chapter of the Adi Khanda describes the Lord's journey to Gaya. Some time after the wedding of Gaurahari and Vishnupriyadevi, the Lord, having completed his education busied himself in his teaching work. One day, he left for Gaya to offer respects to his departed father. As he walked down the road, everywhere, the birds and animals who saw him were stunned with ecstasy upon beholding his lotus feet. After instructing a brahmana in Krishna-bhakti, the Lord allowed a brahmana to drink the water of his lotus feet. That brahmana immediately became free from all his bodily distress.
At that time, the Lord also instructed how the mysteries of Krishna-bhajana cannot be understood simply on the basis of one's birth in a brahmana family. At last arriving in Gaya, the Lord performed worship of the devas and pitris, in order to do his duty regarding his departed father. While so engaged, he went to see the lotus feet of the Vishnu Deity. At that time, the Lord met that best of Vaishnavas, Sri Ishvara Puri. He prayed for the mercy of Ishvara Puri Prabhu, who, soon thereafter, initiated him in the Krishnamantra.
With this, the Lord's transcendental ecstasy became manifest. After this, he went to take darshan of the lotus feet of Vishnu. Upon seeing the Lord's holy feet, Sri Gaurahari was overwhelmed with prema and exhibited his ecstasy by laughing, singing and dancing. Only a few days later, he returned home.

From this point the first chapter of the Madhya Khanda begins.

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