vraje nandimukhi yasit sadya saranga-thakkurah
prahlado manyate kaishcin matpitra sa na manyate
Vraja’s Nandimukhi became Sharanga Thakur in Gaura-lila. Some people say that he is Prahlad, but that is not the opinion held by my father. (Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika 172)
Shri Sharanga Thakur is mentioned in the listing of branches of the Chaitanya trunk of the tree of devotional service along with Rama Das, Kavidatta, Gopal Das and Bhagavata Acharya (Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.113). He is also known as Sharnga Thakur, Sharngadhara and Sharngapani.
He used to live in Godrumadwipa, which is the island in Navadwip which represents, of the nine types of devotional service, the service attitude. The name of the town is Mamagachi. He would sit in a secluded place by the banks of the Ganges to meditate and chant the Holy Names. Through these practices he obtained many miraculous powers.
At first, Sharanga Thakur did not want to make any disciples for fear of disturbances to his bhajana, but Mahaprabhu repeatedly encouraged him to do so. The following account is given in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana,
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur writes in his Anubhashya: Having been ordered by Mahaprabhu to take disciples, Sharanga Thakur decided that he would make a disciple of the first person that he met the following morning. As fate would have it, the next morning, a dead body washed up against him while he was taking bath in the Ganges. He revived the corpse and made him his disciple. This disciple was known as Thakur Murari, or sometimes as Sharnga Murari.
In the Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana, it is further said that Murari was a boy who had been killed by snakebite and his parents had set his uncremated body afloat on a raft in the Ganges, as was the custom in that time. Sharanga Thakur himself become an empowered preacher of Mahaprabhu’s dharma. Descendents of his disciples still live in a village named Shava.
Sharnga Thakur’s Deities were served in the town of Mamagachi. The original Temple was built in front of a bakula tree. The Deities of Radha Gopinath can be seen in this Temple, as can the Deity of Mahaprabhu’s other parshad, Vasudeva Datta Thakur, Shri Madana Gopal. The Devotees who do parikrama of Navadwip Dhama visit this Temple for darshan. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur established a Temple not far from the above-mentioned home of Sharnga Murari at the birthplace of Vrindavan Das Thakur.
Sharanga Thakur disappeared on the thirteenth day of the waning moon in the month of Agrahayan. An alternative opinion is that he disappeared on the Asharh Krishna chaturdashi.
[Excerpted from “Shri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates” by Shrila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]