to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
References to Shyamananda Prabhu by His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj, in Affectionate Guidance, Chapter 17: 'In Praise of Srila Narottama Thakur'.
Narottam received instruction from Srila Jiva
Goswami, Srila Kaviraj Goswami and many other
Goswamis who were there in Vrindavan.
He was a great
pandit and all the devotees headed by Sri Jiva, recognising
his qualification, bestowed upon him the title of 'Thakur'. Narottam Thakur's close associates and peers were Shyamananda and Srinivas.
From the inspiration of Srila
Jiva Goswami and the other Vaishnavas, these three great
devotees were sent back to Bengal to continue the
preaching of Mahaprabhu. The Bengali Vaishnavas were
very eager to read the writings of Sri Rupa, Sanatan,
Raghunath, Krishna Das Kaviraj, Lokanath Goswami,
Gopal Bhatta Goswami, Prabhodananda Saraswati and
the other Goswamis; so Narottam, Shyamananda and Srinivas travelled from Vrindavan towards Bengal with
many copies of those great books.
Finally they arrived in Vishnupur in the district of
Birbhum, Bengal. The King of this region was Raja Bir
Hambir, but he was a dacoit (bandit) and was engaged in
many robberies in the area. The King had a brahmana
astrologer and according to the astrologer's calculations
he would know where and when to carry out his next
robbery. The astrologer informed the King that on a
particular route bullock carts would be passing, carrying
many precious jewels, so the jubilant King sent his dacoits
to rob the caravan. While Narottam and the Vaishnavas
slept, the King's dacoits stole away the chests containing
the books of the Goswamis.
After much searching, Narottam, Srinivas and Shyamananda in great sorrow could not trace the books.
Srinivas ordered Narottam to return to Kheturi Gram, and Shyamananda went to Midnapur where they began
preaching. Srinivas Acharyya resolved to stay and try to
find the stolen books.
Srinivas heard that in the assembly of Raja Bir Hambir,
that night a great pandit would give explanation of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The brahmana in whose house Srinivas was
staying, invited Srinivas to accompany him to the meeting.
After hearing the pandit's explanation of the
Bhagavatam, Srinivas addressed Raja Bir Hambir saying, "Srimad-Bhagavatam is not child's play. It is the transcendental
knowledge descended to this earth for our super
benefit; and the explanation given by this man is intolerable,
he obviously knows nothing of the meaning of
Raja Bir Hambir was greatly surprised at Srinivas' exclamation and asked him, "Then can you explain the Bhagavatam?"
"Yes I can," replied Srinivas and taking his seat on the
vyasasan, he spoke for several hours. All those that heard
him became greatly moved and they all, including the
King, took shelter of his lotus feet.
The King humbly approached Srinivas, "Prabhu, you
are indeed a great Vaishnava, please tell me what service I
can do for you? Where have you come from? How far
have you travelled?"
Srinivas Acharyya told him, "I have come from
Vrindavan carrying chests of books written by the
Goswamis, but now they are lost, stolen by I know not
who, so I remain here searching for them."
With his head bowed Raja Bir Hambir announced, "I
am the culprit, I have those books in my home, and every
day I have been worshipping them. My astrologer told me that his calculations were true and that the books were
actually jewels although they were in the form of books,
and so that is why every day I am offering puja." And the
King took Srinivas to the books.
The news was sent to Narottam and Shyamananda and
in great jubilation Narottam Thakur arranged a grand
festival. As well as Narottam, Shyamananda, Srinivas and
other noted Vaishnavas, Mother Jahnava Devi—Sri
Nityananda Prabhu's shakti—also came there to Kheturi
Gram to attend the festival. After properly worshipping
Jahnava Devi, Narottam Thakur installed six deities in
different temples—Sri Krishna, Vallavi-Kanta, Vraj-Mohan,
Radha-Kanta, Radha-Raman, and Gauranga. Elaborate
puja arrangements were made, including a month-long
festival of Hari-kirttan.
And every day in Narottam's
kirttan, those who were fortunate saw Nityananda Prabhu
and Mahaprabhu dancing there, such was Narottam's
devotion. Those who knew him considered he was the
incarnation of Nityananda Prabhu and Mahaprabhu
Although Lokanath Goswami only had one disciple,
Narottam gave Krishna-Prema to everyone, and just like
Nityananda Prabhu, he did not consider who was fit and
who was not. Whoever wanted Krishna-Prema, then
Narottam would give it them. He was given this special
power by the grace of Mahaprabhu, Nityananda and
Lokanath Goswami, Narottam's Gurudev.