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Sri Locana Das, the dear disciple of Sri Narahari Sarkara Thakura, is renowned all over the three worlds as the author of the great bengali classic, Sri Caitanya Mangala, the beautiful musical composition of Lord Gaurahari’s manifested pastimes.It has been composed with such ecstasy and poetic rhythm ,that simply reading it is sufficient to evoke within one the emotions of divine love and attachment for Sri Krishna Caitanya, the Supreme personality of Godhead.Sri Locana das serves as Locana sakhi in Krishna’s vrindavana pastimes. In Vaishnava acara darpana, it is mentioned that the potency of King Vrishbhanu’s niece , ‘Tara’, has also incarnated as Sri Locana Das Thakura, in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes.
Locana Das was a contemporary of Sri Vrindavana Das Thakura, the author of Sri Caitanya Bhagavata, another revered biography of Lord Caitanya’s heart melting pastimes. Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura, who was the incarnation of the sakhi Madhumati, and who was very dear and completely surrendered unto the lotus feet of Sri Gaurasundara, once desired for a book to be composed in bengali, that shall depict the heart melting pastimes of Sri Krishna Caitanya. He desired that the biography would uphold before the world the esoteric treasures of Gaura lila and shall help the readers develop love and attachment unto the Supreme (refer – ‘YogPeeth, Mayapur, Navadvipa – The birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’). It was only to give shape to the desires of Narahari ,that Locana das had taken birth in this world.Taking shelter of his Guru, he composed the ecstatic ‘Caitanya Mangala’, thereby satisfying the yearnings of his spiritual master. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered the life and pastimes of Sri Narahari Thakura in a separate article entitled – ‘The Great Vaishnavas of Srikhanda’.
Sri Locana Das Thakura :
Sri Locana Das Thakura has mentioned some of his biographical details in the last section of Sri Caitanya Mangala :
Charikhanda punthi ei karila prakasha,
Baidya kule janma mora kograme-te basa
Mataa suddha mati, sadanandi tara naam,
Janra udare janmi kari krishna naam
Kamalakara das mora pita janmadata,
Janra prasade gai gaura-guna-gatha
Here Sri Locana Das Thakura reveals that he was born into a family of vaidyas (ayurvedic physicians). His was a resident of a village named Kograma (near the Ajaya river,in Burdwan district). His father’s name was Sri Kamalakara and his mother was Srimati Sadanandi devi. He was the only son of his pious parents. Sri Locana Das was a devotee since his very birth and chanted the holy names of Krishna soon after coming out of his mother’s womb. It is by the mercy of his parents, that he could now sing the glories of Lord Gauranga.
(Translated by ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’)
Sri Locana Das Thakura got married to a beautiful lady at a very early age. His wife was a resident of the nearby kakutiya village.But ever since Sri Locana Das met his spiritual master, Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura, he became completely drowned in an ecstasy of Gauranga prema. Serving and pleasing his Gurudeva gradually became the sole objective of his existence.His in-laws requested him repeatedly to come over to their place and spend some time with his wife, but Locana das was no more interested in petty family affairs. Seeing no other option, his in-laws came over to Srikhanda and expressed their grievances to Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura. On the orders of Sri Narahari Sarkar, Sri Locana das ,unwillingly, had to then visit his in-laws. But by the mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga, Sri Locana Das’ spiritual life was never disturbed as a result of this. He preached to his wife who,by his mercy, went onto become a great devotee and both of them passed their time blissfully together, discussing the nectarian pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu. After spending some days with his dear wife and his in-laws, Sri Locana returned to the bhajana kutira of his spiritual master ,here at Baradanga.
A very important lesson can be learnt from the above pastime. We observe that when both husband and wife are devotees of the Supreme Lord then Maya cannot influence or derail them from their spiritual lives.In fact such an union of devotees helps both of them to synergise ,cooperate and practice spirituality even better.Such a couple dedicated to serving Sri Guru and Gauranga together, contribute to the success of the Grihastha Ashram.
On returning ,Locana Das Thakura then began composing Sri Caitanya Mangala. He referred to the recorded details of Mahaprabhu’s life in Murari Gupta’s Sri Krishna-Caitanya-Carita. Sitting upon a stone slab,underneath a great badari tree,situated adjacent to the bhajana kutira of his spiritual master, an empowered Locana Das began his work. This site and the tree exists even today and ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’,considers itself blessed to have been able to visit and obtain the dust of this exalted place.
Sri Locana Das visits Sri Vrindavan Das Thakura:
On finishing with his work, Sri Locana offered his composition, Caitanya Mangala, unto his spiritual master, who became greatly pleased.By this time, Sri Vrindavana Das Thakura had already composed a book on Sri Mahaprabhu’s life and teachings ,and incidentally he had also named it as ‘Caitanya Mangala’ (later known as Caitanya Bhagavata) .The Vaishnavas at that time had greatly appreciated and accepted Srila Vrindavana das’ work. Hence Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura requested Locana Das, to first go and seek permission from Srila Vrindavana das thakura before making his work known to everyone else.
Accordingly, Sri Locana Das Thakura, went over to meet Sri Vrindavana Das Thakura and presented to him his book. These two stalwart vaishnavas met at Denur, where Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura had composed Caitanya Bhagavata. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ had covered the details of the pastimes at Denur in a separate article entitled – ‘Denur – Where Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura composed Sri Caitanya Bhagavata’ .Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura (the original vyasa of Lord Caitanya’s pastimes) was highly impressed with Locana Das Thakura’s composition and appreciated it greatly. Srila Vrindavana Das became immersed in ecstasy noting how Sri Locana das had correctly identified Sri Nityananda tattva. He was pleased to note the below verse where Sri Locana had correctly described Nityananda Prabhu as the son of mother Rohini (as He was Lord Balarama Himself) and non different to Sri Caitanya’s body.
Abhinnya Caitanya tanu thakura avadhuta
Sri Nityananda Vando Rohinika suta
(Sri Caitanya Mangala)
Srila Vrindavana Das Thakura, then arranged that his book be renamed to Caitanya Bhagavata. In this way the conflict of identical names of these two great compositions was resolved. Locana Das’ book came to be renowned as ‘Caitanya Mangala’ and Sri Vrindavana Das’ composition henceforward ,came to be widely known as ‘Caitanya Bhagavata’.This arrangement greatly pleased the senior Vaishnava devotees of the time.
Sri Caitanya Mangala:
Sri Locana Das Thakura dedicates Sri Caitanya Mangala to his beloved Gurudeva, Sri Narahari Sarkara Thakura, an intimate associate of Lord Caitanya, by whose intense desire Sri Locana Das had subsequently appeared and composed this great classic.Sri Locana Das Thakura considers himself as utterly incapable and ineligible to write such a beautiful piece without the mercy and empowerment of his Guru.
Thakura Sri Narahari, Das prana adhikari
Janra pada prema prati aansh
Adhameo sadh kare, Gauraguna gahibare
Bharosaya e locana das
(Sri Caitanya Mangala)
Sri Locana Das Thakura is the example of a perfect disciple who lived to act as a tool in the hands of his spiritual master.In Vaishnava Abhidhana, Haridasa Dasa(a famous Gaudiya Vaishnava historian) describes Sri Caitanya Mangala as follows – “Locana Das based his Caitanya Mangala upon Murari Gupta’s authorized Sanskrit biography of Lord Caitanya entitled ‘Sri Krishna Caitanya Carita’. Sri Caitanya Mangala is written in simple,beautiful language,and it can be sung in various beautiful ragas.Caitanya Mangala is a rasatmika sastra (full of rasa) and Caitanya Bhagavata (written by Vrindavana das Thakura) is a varnanatmika sastra (full of descriptions). In some cases Locana Das’s poetic expression surpasses those of Vrindavana Das Thakura.”
By reading and relishing Sri Caitanya Mangala, one can associate with Sri Locana Das Thakura, a great stalwart vaishnava, whose empowered life was a mission to saturate the starving fallen souls with the intense mellows of Sri Gauranga prema. For hundreds of years, musicians have sung Lord Caitanya’s blissful pastimes, as depicted in Sri Caitanya Mangala, in the remote corners of Bengal (east and west) captivating the hearts of millions. Numerous eternal associates (nitya siddha) of the Lord have spent their time at this sacred Baradanga dham and relished the nectar of Gauranga’s holy names. Sri Mukunda Das, Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura , Sri Locana Das Thakura, Sri Srinivasa Acharya,Sri Jagannatha Das babaji maharaja , to name a few of them.
On an ending note :
‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has been striving to seek shelter of such great personalities throughout its spiritual journey. It is only with this objective of receiving their mercy and sharing it with others, that we have set out from our homes, trying to reveal to the world the mood and esoteric pastimes of these great men.The life and teachings, of these stalwarts inspire us to imbibe the same values and principles in our own lives and we pray that they mercifully bless us, so that we may forever contemplate upon their blissful pastimes.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this transcendental abode of Baradanga.We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Locana Das Thakura and Sri Narahari Sarkar that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek their blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
What to see:
- The place where Sri Locana Das Thakura had written Sri Caitanya Mangala.
- The Bhajana kutira of Sri Narahari sarkar Thakura
- The place where Sri Raghunandana thakura and Sri Abhirama Gopal Thakura had met (have covered the detail pastime in a different article)
How to Reach:
You can take a train from Howrah/sealdah station to reach the Katwa junction. The journey takes around 3.5 hours.On reaching Katwa, you can book a cab to directly reach the ‘Baradanga’ dham which should not take more than 1 hour. Baradanga is very near to a place called Srikhanda.
We, from ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ ,had visited Baradanga during our stay at Katwa. It was here in this holy land of Katwa that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had accepted His sannyasa initiation from Keshava Bharati 500 years back, and is thus an exalted pilgrimage destination for all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.This place was initially known as ‘Kantaka Nagara’,from which the name ‘Katwa’ had later evolved. The transcendental land of Katwa is a witness to several intimate reciprocations between Sri Gaurasundara, the Supreme Lord, and His beloved associates.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay at Hotel Srabani in Katwa which is owned and governed by the local municipality.Srikhanda and Katwa are quite near to each other. Or else, Navadvipa is hardly an hour and a half ride from Srikhanda. So the devotees can also choose to stay at Navadvipa / Mayapur and then travel to take darsana of Baradanga dham.
If one stays in Katwa, one can avail prasadam at the ‘Gauranga Bari temple’. Else if one stays in Navadvipa, then he/she can honor prasadam at Iskcon Mayapur or any of the Gaudiya Mathas.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Katwa junction
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)