pura madhumati prana-sakhi vrindavane sthita
adhuna narahary-akhyah sarakarah prabhoh priyah
She who was previously Radha’s intimate girlfriend named Madhumati is today Narahari Sarkar, the Lord’s dear associate. (Gaura-ganoddesha-dipika 117)
Srila Narahari Sarkar Thakur is counted as one of Chaitanya’s branches on the desire tree of pure devotional service. By Mahaprabhu’s desire, he took birth in a physician (vaidya) family, blessing his family by so doing. He was the Lord’s chief associate amongst the residents of the village of Srikhanda. The Srikhanda railway station is in Burdwan district four miles west of Katwa. Narahari’s home is about one mile from the station.
Some of the other residents of Srikhanda who were devotees of Lord Chaitanya were: Sri Mukunda, Sri Raghunandan, Sri Chiranjiva, Sri Sulocana, Sri Damodar Kaviraj, Sri Ramachandra Kaviraj, Sri Govinda Kaviraj, Sri Balaram Das, Sri Ratikanta, Sri Ramagopala Das, Sri Pitambara Das, Sri Sachinandana, Sri Jagadananda, etc. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami mentions many of these names as Chaitanya’s branches that generously distributed the fruits of love of God.
(Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.10.78-9)
The scholar Bharat Mallik has written the following Sanskrit verses about Narahari’s appearance in a vaidya family in his book Candra-prabha:
shrikhanda-nama-nagari radhe bangeshu vishruta
sarvesham eva vaidyanam ashrayo yatra vidyate
yatra goshthi-bhuta vaidya yah khando’bhud bhishak-priyah
visheshatah kulinanam sarvesham eva vasa-bhuh
In Bengal, in the area known as Rarha (Burdwan, Birbhum), there is a famous town known as Srikhanda that gave shelter to all the physician clans. Since vaidyas gathered there, it became a favored residence for them, especially those who were of the most noble birth.
In the Gaudiya Vaishnava Abhidhana, it is stated that Narahari Sarkar Thakur appeared in either the Shaka year 1401 or 1402 (1479-80 AD). His father’s name was Sri Narayan Das, his mother Sri Goyi. Sri Goyi was the daughter of Murari Sena. Narayan Das had three sons, Mukunda, Madhava and Narahari. Raghunandan Thakur was Mukunda’s son.
The author of Chaitanya Mangala, Locana Das, who came from the village of Kogram, near Jhamatpur, was Narahari’s disciple. For this reason, Locana Das writes that Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami and Narahari Sarkar Thakur were Mahaprabhu’s dearest associates. On the other hand, in Chaitanya Bhagavat, Vrindavan Das Thakur has not spoken at any length about the devotees of Srikhanda.
Srila Locana Das Thakur has written the following about his guru in Chaitanya Mangala:
Narahari Das Thakur is my worshipable master. He possessed the power of the pure lineage of a family of physicians. His body was permeated by love for Krishna, and other than Krishna-prema, he taught nothing to those who were his disciples. He was previously known as Madhumati, one of Radha’s dearest sakhis in Vrindavan, a storehouse of sweetness. Now in the Age of Kali, with the appearance of Gauranga, he has become the keeper of the storehouse of love for Radha and Krishna.
After the death of his father Narayan, Narahari’s older brother Mukunda arranged for him to study in Nabadwip. It is said that Mukunda sometimes worked as the Shah’s family physician. Narahari quickly became very learned as well as a connoisseur of the flavors of devotional. Even before becoming Mahaprabhu’s associate, he composed songs glorifying Radha and Govinda’s pastimes. When Srila Gadadhara Pandit Goswami was constantly by the Lord’s side, engaged in his service, Narahari had the good fortune to enter into his association. Narahari Sarkar Thakur’s personal service was to fan the Lord with the yaktail whisk. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Mahaprabhu’s personal representative, confirmed this in his Gaura-arati:
narahari adi kare camara dhulay
saïjaya, mukunda, vasu ghosha adi gay
Narahari and the other residents of Srikhanda fanned with the camara, while Saïjaya, Mukunda and Vasu Ghosh sang.
Narahari wrote several books, including Bhakti-candrika-patala, Shri-Krishna-bhajanamrita, Shri-caitanya-sahasranama, Shri-Sachinandanashtaka, Shri-Radhashtaka, etc. All of these are well known and thought of highly by the devotees.
The following story is told about Narahari: Once when Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu came to his house in Srikhanda, they suddenly expressed a desire for honey. Narahari demonstrated his miraculous powers by transforming the water in a pond near his house into honey. He quenched the Lords’ desire for honey with water from this pond, which has ever since been called Madhu-pushkarini. The Lord gave Narahari the order in a dream to install three deities of himself, which are currently worshipped in Srikhanda, Katwa and Ganganagara.