Lokanatha Goswami was known as Lila Manjari in Krishna lila.
Lokanatha is considered to be Mahaprabhu’s direct disciple and associate. Prior to coming to Nabadwip, he lived in the village of Talakharii in Jessore district in what is now Bangla Desh. Prior to that, he lived in Kacna Paria. His father’s name was Padmanabha Chakravarti and his mother Sita Devi. The Bhakti-ratnakara quotes an old verse which confirms this:
padmanabhatmajam shrimal-lokanatha-prabhum bhaje
I worship Lokanatha Prabhu, the son of Padmanabha, whose life revolved around the wealth of service he possessed in his Deity Radhavinoda.
The descendants of Lokanatha’s brother, Pragalbha Bhattacharya are still living in Talakharii. Bhugarbha Goswami was Lokanatha’s closest friend and constant companion. He was Prema Manjari in Vraja.
bhugarbha-thakkurasyasit purvakhya prema-maïjari
gosvaminam ca bhugarbham bhugarbhottham suvishrutam
sada mahashayam vande krishna-prema-pradam prabhum
dayalum premadam svaccham nityam ananda-vigraham
I offer my reverence to the illustrious Bhugarbha Prabhu, who is said to have been born from the bowels of the earth. He bestows love of Krishna; he takes pleasure in the service of Govinda Deva, is compassionate, simple and always joyful.
Bhugarbha Goswami’s initiating guru was Gadadhara Pandit Goswami. He is therefore considered to be Gadadhara’s branch. Sri Bhagavata Das, a fellow disciple of Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami, was also a close friend.
Bhugarbha and Bhagavata Das are branches of Gadadhara Pandit, both of whom went to live in Vrindavan.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi, 12.81)
Lokanatha and Bhugarbha go to Vraja
Lokanatha Goswami renounced the householder ashrama in 1431 of the Shaka era (1510) and came to meet Mahaprabhu in Navadwip. Mahaprabhu immediately told him to go and live in Vrindavan, telling him that it was his own intention to take sannyas very shortly and go there himself. Lokanatha started to cry when he imagined the Lord with his beautiful curls shorn and the distress the Devotees would feel at his departure. When the Lord saw Lokanatha’s anxiety, he embraced him and consoled him with various spiritual instructions and Lokanatha surrendered completely to Him. When Bhugarbha saw how unhappy Lokanatha was, he decided to accompany him to Vrindavan. The two companions walked through Rajmahal, Tajpur, Purniya, Lukhnow and many holy places before finally arriving in Braj.
Though he had come to Vrindavan on Mahaprabhu’s order, he constantly felt intense separation from the Lord, shedding copious tears in his desire to see him again. When he got the news that Mahaprabhu had taken sannyas and then gone to Puri and thence to the South on pilgrimage, Lokanatha hurried to Southern India in order to join Him. When he arrived in the South, he heard that Mahaprabhu was no longer there, but had gone to Vrindavan. Lokanatha immediately set off for Vrindavan, hoping to see the Lord there, but by the time he arrived, he heard that the Lord was now in Prayag. Lokanatha was disappointed, but still determined to see the Lord and decided to set off again for Prayag.
This time, however, Mahaprabhu appeared to him in a dream and told him to stop running around and remain in Vrindavan and do his bhajana. Not long afterwards, Rupa, Sanatan, Gopal Bhatta Goswamis and others of the Lord’s associates started coming to live in Braj. Their association cheered him immensely.
When Rupa was getting old and unable to walk all the way to Govardhana, he missed being able to see Gopal. When this desire became strong, Gopal came to stay at the house of Vitthaleshvara in Mathura, ostensibly out of fear of Muslim iconoclasts, but actually to show mercy to Rupa Goswami. The Deity stayed there for a month, during which time Rupa came for His darshan with Lokanatha and other Gaudiya Vaishnavas. The extent to which Bhugarbha Goswami was dear to Lokanatha is described in Bhakti-ratnakara:
Lokanatha’s affection for Bhugarbha was well known everywhere. They only had different bodies, in spirit they were one.
Gopal Bhatta Goswami was extremely compassionate. Bhugarbha and Lokanatha are a goldmine of virtues.
Lokanatha Goswami worshiped Radha and Krishna in a state of separation, increasing the intensity of his renunciation. He was afraid of the slightest amount of fame. Thus he forbad Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami to write anything about him in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, with the result that only his name can be found mentioned there. Sanatan Goswami has also mentioned his name in the mangalacarana to the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, as well as in that to the Vaishnava-toshani commentary to the tenth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
vrindavana-priyan vande shri-govinda-padashritan
shrimat-kashishvaram lokanatham shri-krishnadasakam
I pay obeisance to Kashishvara, Lokanatha and Krishnadas, to whom residence in Vrindavan is very dear and who have taken shelter of Govinda’s lotus feet.
Lokanatha and Radhavinoda
The Lord knows the desires of His Devotees and feels himself obliged to fulfill them. He came personally to give Lokanatha a Deity, telling him that its name was Radhavinoda before disappearing. Lokanatha was astonished to see the Deity and then filled with anxiety at the thought that the Lord Himself had come and gone. But Radhavinoda cast his sweet glance on Lokanatha and said to him, “I live here on the banks of Kishori Kund in the village of Umarao. 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.”
When he heard these words, tears began to flow from Lokanatha’s eyes. He quickly started cooking for Radhavinoda and then made an offering which the deity ate with great satisfaction. He then made him a bed of flowers upon which he placed him, fanned him with branches and joyfully massaged his feet. Lokanatha devoted himself in body, mind and soul to Radhavinoda.
He wondered where he would keep the deity, and decided to make a large bag which became Radhavinoda’s temple. He kept his worshipable Lord constantly close to his heart like a necklace. This attracted the people of Braj to Lokanatha and they wanted to built a house for him and his deity, but he refused. He was so renounced that he accepted nothing other than what he absolutely needed for the deity’s service.
Narottama Das Becomes Lokanatha’s Disciple
After spending some time at Kishori Kund, Lokanatha came to Vrindavan. He learned that Rupa and Sanatan had ended their pastimes in this world and lamented their passing in great sadness. At around this time, Narottama Das, who was the son of the Raja Krishnananda Datta of Gopalpura in Rajsahi (now in Bangla Desh), came to Vrindavan and met him there. When Mahaprabhu told Nityananda to go to Puri, he cried in ecstasy in a place on the banks of the Padmavati river which is now known as Prematila. He buried his love there for Narottama’s later benefit. Years later, when Narottama took his bath in the river at that spot, he was immediately overcome with divine love and decided to cut off all family ties and go to Vrindavan.
At midnight, he saw someone engaged in cleaning the place and asked him who he was. When he found out that Narottama, the son of a raja, was engaged in doing such a filthy task, he felt embarrassed and asked him what his purpose was in doing it. Narottama immediately began to cry. He fell at Lokanatha’s feet and said, “My life is useless unless I obtain your mercy.” When Lokanatha saw Narottama’s humility and pain, his resolve to never give anyone initiation softened and gave him the mantras.
This is a perfect example of how one can win over the worshipable Deity through honest and selfless service. Narottama Das took initiation from Lokanatha on the full moon day of the month of Shravan. Lokanatha and Narottama engaged in this pastime to show the value of selfless and sincere service to the entire world, but especially to the people of northern Bengal. Lokanatha was a very renounced Vaishnava, but he saw in Narottama someone who not only had a cultured background, but an enthusiasm and taste for dealing with people. As a result, he asked him to go back to his homeland to preach Krishna consciousness.
When one has taken full shelter of the Supreme Lord and is situated on the transcendental platform in full service to the Lord, then he usually has no enthusiasm for engaging in activities for the welfare of people on the bodily platform. When a Devotee goes against this principle, such activities increase in prestige. On the order of his spiritual master, Narottama returned to northern Bengal and began to preach pure devotional service and thus delivered the people of that country.
In his collection of songs known as Prarthana, Narottama Das Thakur has written:
After suffering much sadness, O Lord, you brought me to Braj, pulling me by the rope of mercy which you had tied around my neck. Maya and fate forced me back into the well of material existence by cutting loose that rope of mercy.
Lokanatha Goswami left this world somewhere around 1510 Shaka (1588-9 AD) in the month of Asharh, on the eighth day of the dark moon. His samadhi tomb is found in the Radha Gokulananda Temple in Vrindavan. His Radhavinoda Deity is also being served in the same Temple.
[Excerpted from “Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates” by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]