A brahmachari for his entire life, Narottama Das visited all the places of pilgrimage. He was on the highest platform of devotional achievement. (Bhakti-ratnakara 1.256)
Narottama Thakur was Campaka Manjari in Krishna-lila. Eternally assisting Rupa Manjari in her service to Radha and Krishna, Campaka Manjari had mercy on the conditioned souls of this earth and appeared as Narottama in the village of Kheturi, about twelve miles from Rampur Bowaliya in the Gopalpur subdivision of Rajshahi district. This took place on the full moon day of the month of Magh sometime around the middle of the 15th century of the Shaka era.
Narottama was born on the Maghi Purnima. From that day on he thrived and grew like the waxing moon.
Narottama’s father was Raja Krishnananda Datta, the zamindar of the Gopalpur area. His mother’s name was Narayani Devi. Raja Krishnananda had a younger brother named Purushottam Datta, who had a son named Santosha. In order to show that his associates can take birth in any caste, Krishna had Narottama take birth in a kayastha family.
From his early childhood, Narottama began to display symptoms of his future greatness. Everyone was amazed to see his great intelligence and his devotional demeanor. He was constantly absorbed in meditation on the wonderful qualities of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu. The Lord and his associates appeared to him in his dreams.
As tears poured from his eyes, Narottama would offer prayers of surrender to Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Nityananda, Advaita and the other associates of the Lord. Finally, the Lord and his associates appeared to him in a dream and consoled him with kind words.
Mahaprabhu Leaves Prema Behind for Narottama
According to the Premavilasa, when Mahaprabhu passed through Kanair Natashala, as he was dancing ecstatically in kirtan, he began to call out the name Narottama. When Nityananda asked him why he was calling out this name, Mahaprabhu answered, “My Lord. You do not know your own glories. When we went to Jagannath Puri, you shed tears out of divine love, day after day. I managed to capture your divine love and save it. Now I wish to keep it here by the Padmavati River for Narottama Das.”
Mahaprabhu then went on to the Padmavati River to the place known as Kutubpur, where he bathed and sang and danced in ecstasy. He then called out to the river, “O Padmavati! Take my love and keep it here. When Narottama comes and bathes here, give it to him.”
The Padmavati inquired, “How will I recognize him?”
Mahaprabhu answered, “You will know it is Narottama, for when he enters your waters, you will overflow.”
The place where Mahaprabhu placed prema for Narottama’s sake was later given the name Prematali. When Narottama was twelve years old, he had a dream in which Nityananda Prabhu told him to bathe in the Padmavati and take the prema which had been stored there for him. He went the next day to the Padma and as soon as he put his foot in the water, the river started to overflow. The Padmavati then remembered Mahaprabhu’s words and gave Narottama the prema which she had been safeguarding for him.
Excerpted from Sri Chaitanya: His Life and Associates