Thursday, February 8, 2007

Interview with Narottama Das

by Vrindaranya Devi Dasi

Maypur Katha: How did you become a devotee?
Narottama Das: I was in Kulaguru’s house, in Navadwip. One day I came to Mayapur, and was very attracted to Sri Sri Radha Madhava. When I saw so many foreign devotees dancing and chanting harinam in front of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I became very happy and decided to join ISKCON. Then I collected a book from a table, after reading it, finally I joined.
MK: What did you like most about Krishna Consciousness that caused you to join?
ND: I liked very much the Deity, harinam, sankirtan (book distribution), chanting and listening.
MK: What does your family think about your choice?
ND: I was born in a traditional Goswami Family. In my childhood, I lost my mother, so somehow or other, I grew up in my grandfather’s family. Later, I tried to convince my brothers, but they didn’t like it.
MK: What were you planning to do in life before you came to Krishna Consciousness? Did you have any kind of spiritual practice before and how did your previous faith or religion help you go closer to Krishna?
ND: As I was from the Goswami caste, traditionally, I read Bhagavad Gita every day. Later, I took institution [education] from Kulaguru and regularly read Bhagavad Gita and took foodstuffs offered to Gurudev, Laxmi Narayan, and Lord Siva. One night, I had a dream, with Lord Krsna, with a flute, wearing a blue cloth, a peacock feather, and nice garland, calling me, “come…come…come…”
MK: Which services have you done all these years?
ND: At first, I served in the Traveling Sankirtan Party, distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in different states of India for 12 years. Then I ran a supply store, and a book table, and now I have been doing service in the pujari department for the last 15 years.
MK: Which service did you like most, and why?
ND: According to my ability, I like to chant nicely, to listen to Srimad Bhagavatam class, and to preach Krishna Consciousness to people. I like to fulfill the desires of the previous Acaryas.
MK: What are your plans in Krishna Consciousness? Would you like to do some particular or different service for Srila Prabhupada’s movement?
ND: By the mercy of sadhu, and guru, I would like to serve Gaur Nitai, Sri Sri Radha Madhava, and finally to get Their Lotus Feet, love of Krishna.
MK: What kind of benefits did you receive from your devotional life in Krishna Consciousness?
ND: By the mercy of Srila Gurudeva, I understood that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that only by service to Him, I can get real happiness and it would be more beneficial when I serve the devotees.
MK: Do you have any nice, spiritual story that you would like to share about Krishna Consciousness or preaching?
ND: After I completed 2 months of new devotee training, the authority sent me to Kolkata Ratha Yatra--that was in 1978. It was whole day service, the Ratha, etc. At that time, many devotees, gurus, and sanyassis joined Kolkata Ratha Yatra from different parts of the world. Every day, huge amounts of prasad were distributed. Approximately 10-12 thousand people joined in the sankirtan procession. I wondered about the fact that in Kolkata book distribution marathon, Srila Jayapataka Swami personally distributes books.
I got the opportunity to serve in the book table with H.G. Pankajanghri Prabhu. People were also interested to purchase books from foreign devotees. We were so happy because sometimes Guru Maharaja and Bhakti Caru Maharaja personally came and brought prasad for us. How merciful the vaisnavas were.
MK: Which is the biggest obstacle in Krishna Consciousness that you had to face, and how did you overcome it?
ND: I feel the biggest obstacle in Krishna Consciousness is to deal with the temple management because from time to time the managements change and neophyte devotees find it hard. Due to some management problem, once I left ISKCON. At that time, I was in a house of a devotee, and Srila Prabhupada appeared in a dream and instructed me, “What are you doing here? Your Guru Maharaja is calling you to Mayapur.” The next day, there was a pandal program where Guru Maharaja came and during Guru Puja, he told me to come to Mayapur. Not only that, but Bhakti Purusottama Maharaja sent money for me as bus fare. So everything is possible by the mercy of Guru and vaisnava.
MK: What is inspiring you and keeping your enthusiasm in Krishna Consciousness now?
ND: Mangal aarti, service in Srila Prabhupada’s bhajan kutir, regular Bhagavata path [lectures], and aarti kirtan in front of Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Sri Prahlada Nrisimhadev, and Pancha-Tattva. I like to serve more and more.
MK: What do you like about Mayapur?
ND: I like most the service attitude of Mayapur devotees. To dance in front of Panca Tattva, where all of the devotees are involved with guests. Also, I like to distribute books.
MK: Do you have any friends here in Mayapur, and what they like?
ND: I always noticed Jananivasa Prabhu, who is a very dear disciple of Srila Prabhupada. He is always in direct service of Sri Sri Radha Madhava with great responsibility, although he is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and my siksa guru. Still I have friendship with him. I don’t know why. One of the good qualities of Jananivasa Prabhu is tolerance. If any one comes to ask him something, he listens with great attention and then very politely speaks with him. He is always careful about deity worship, dressing, etc. Every day, he listens to Srimad Bhagavatam class, follows all the principles and is 24 hours engaged in the devotees’ service. When he gives class, everyone listens very carefully, even Bengali devotes who do not understand English. He has no problem. He deals with managers as well as other devotees very nicely. How great a vaishnava is Jananivasa prabhu! He is one example for me. I pray for his mercy, so that I can get devotional service to their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Madhava.
MK: Do you have any message for the readers of Mayapur Katha?
ND: First of all, I pay my obeisances to Srila Gurudeva, because he has given me the opportunity to stay in Mayapur (ISKCON.) By his mercy, I have residence of Mayapur. I like to spread the holy message of Mayapur.

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