Vrindavan, 2017.07.17 (VT): Today is the disappearance day of Shri Loknath Goswami.
This important day in Vrindavan’s history was celebrated at the Shri Radha-Gokulananda Mandir in Vrindavan, where his samadhi (tomb) is located. Special pooja was held in the morning, after which the suchak kirtan of Shri Loknath Goswami was performed in front of his samadhi.
Devotees lost themselves in the soothing melodies of Shri Narottam Das Thakur’s padavali kirtan, followed by aarti and prasad seva in the main mandir. Shri Achyut Lal Bhatt Goswami offered a special katha for the occasion throughout the week. The festival was presided over by Shri Abhinav Goswami of the Shri Radharaman Temple.
A Childhood Friend of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Shri Loknath Goswami was a childhood friend of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who became his follower. He was born circa 1483 in Talkhandi village, district Yashohar, in present-day Bangladesh. He is known as the incarnation of a gopi named Manjulali or Lila Manjari.
Loknath came from a scholarly family, and began to study Shrimad Bhagwatam from Adwaitacharya at the age of 14. After completing his studies, Loknath returned home and started his own school.
But Loknath always remained absorbed in the love of Radha and Krishna. Mahaprabhu was always in his heart. Eventually, Loknath renounced the world and came to Nabadwip to surrender himself at Mahaprabhu’s feet. But Mahaprabhu had already decided to take sannyas.
Mahaprabhu instructed Loknath to go to Vrindavan and rediscover the lost holy places of Shri Krishna’s lila. He followed that instruction with all his heart.
The work was very difficult because the scriptures only give a general idea of where these holy places are, and the forest was thick and full of dangerous animals. But by the mercy of Shri Radharani, he was very successful in his efforts.
The Braj Bhakti Vilas states that Loknath Goswami discovered 333 of the lost holy places in Vrindavan. Bhugarbha Goswami, a disciple of Shri Gadadhar Pandit, assisted him. Later, Shri Roop Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami and others came and continued the seva.
Loknath Goswami did not write any books but it is believed that Shri Roop and Sanatan learned a lot from him, and he may have had a substantial influence upon their writings.
During the course of his exploration, Loknath Goswami found the deity of Shri Radhavinod in Kishori Kund at Chhatravan. He served him all his life. The original deity of Radhavinod is now in Jaipur, whilst His pratibhu vigraha is worshipped at Shri Radha-Gokulananda temple in Vrindavan. It is said that Shri Radhavinod Ju helped Loknath Goswami find the lost holy places of Braj.
The Next Generation
After Mahaprabhu passed away, many other pillars of the Gaudiya Sampradaya also left this world. Nityananda Prabhu and Advaitacharya left, as did Shri Roop and Sanatan, and Shri Raghunath Bhatt Goswami. Shri Raghunath Das Goswami retired to Radhakund, weeping constant tears of separation.
The only leaders of the Sampraday who were still in Vrindavan were Loknath Goswami, Bhugarbha Goswami, Gopal Bhatt Goswami and Jeev Goswami.
The next generation of the Gaudiya Sampraday was already starting to take form. One of the most promising young aspirants was Narottam Das. He was from a royal family, but renounced it all to live in Vrindavan.
Narottam wanted Loknath to be his guru, but Loknath had taken a vow not to initiate anyone. He also would not accept seva from anyone. But Narottam was determined that only Loknath would be his guru. And so he found every opportunity to serve him in secret.
Narottam’s Guru Seva
Every day at about 3a.m. Narottam went to the place in the forest where Loknath would ease the call of nature. Narottam cleaned the spot with a broom and placed an earthen pot full of water there for Loknath to use. He then hid behind a tree and waited until Loknath came. And after he left, he removed the feces and again swept the spot with a broom.
He did this every day. Narottam was so happy to do this seva for his chosen guru that he would hug the broom and wash it with his tears.
After a year, Loknath began to wonder who was serving him in this way. He decided to find out.
One day he went early to the forest and watched as Narottam came and began to sweep the spot. It was very dark, and Loknath was not able to see him clearly.
“Who are you?” he asked
“I am Narottam.” replied the man in a humble voice.
“Narottam? You do this work every day?”
Loknath was moved and finally agreed to give Narottam initiation. By his blessings, Narottam Das became one of the great leaders of the Gaudiya Sampraday.
Entering Nitya Lila
As Loknath was preparing to leave this world, he gave Narottam his wooden sandals and bade him farewell. He entered the Nitya Lila on Shravan Krishna Ashtami between the years 1583 and 1588AD.
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