Srila Locana Dasa Thakura appeared in this world in 1520 A.D., thirty-four years after the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Locana Dasa wrote a biography on Lord Caitanya, entitled Sri Caitanya Mangala, and he wrote many devotional songs.
Sri Locana dasa Thakura took birth in a family of Rarhiya physicians who resided in the village of Kogram, within the Mahakumar (Katna) district of Barddhaman. His guru was Sri Narahari Sarkar Thakura.
“I am the servant of Thakura Sri Narahari, who is the master of my life. The desire of all my desires, I place at his lotus feet; which is that this vile creature (myself) might describe some-thing about the wonderful qualities of Sri Gaurasundara. In this expectation, he is my only refuge. [Caitanya-mangala, Satvakhanda].
His father’s name was Sri Kamalakara dasa and his mother’s name, Sri Sadananda. He was the only son of his parents. He was raised in his maternal grandfather’s home and his education was completed there. When he was only a little boy, he enjoyed the good fortune of meeting the devotees of Sri Gauranga.
He was married at a very young age. From his youth he was very attached to Sri Gaursundara and consequently very disinterested in material life, though he was surrounded by family, friends and society. In his youth he spent the major part of his time at his guru’s Sripat, Srikhanda, where he learned how to do kirtana.
The book that he composed Caitanya-mangala was from the diary of Sri Murari Gupta. “Murari Gupta, who resides at Nadia, composed many beautiful verses about the life of Sri Gauranga. These include the youthful pastimes of Nimai, which Murari Gupta personally took part in, and His later pastime in Nilacala, after He accepted sannyasa, which were narrated by Sri Damodara Pandita. Having heard these verses of Murari Gupta, composed in sanskrit, I have become very attracted and so I have composed them in the village folk poetry meter of Bengali.”
n his Caitanya Mangala, Srila Locana Dasa Thakura has written: “My hope of hopes is to be near the lotus feet of Sri Narahari Thakura, to serve and worship him with my very life. The cherished desire of the fallen Locana Dasa is to be allowed by the grace of Narahari to sing the glories of Sri Gauranga. My Lord is Sri Narahari Thakura and I am his servant. Bowing and praying before him I beg him to allow me his service. This is my only aspiration.”
Previously in Bengal (especially East Bengal, now Bangladesha) the poets used to compose sacred songs and verses in different forms of classic rhymes and rythmic meters called Panchali (such as Laxmir Panchali, Sanir Panchali and Manasa Bhasan). The Panchali style of composition was especially used for glorifying the Lord. Srila Locana Dasa Thakura used the Panchali form of verse-meter in composing his famous work, Sri Caitanya Mangala. The Panchali form employs five different kinds of song-styles or meters.
The principle source material that was drawn upon by Sri Locana Dasa Thakura in composing his Caitanya Mangala was a Sanskrit book by Murari Gupta called Sri Caitanya Caritamritam.(see more books on Mahaprabhu here)
Locana Dasa Thakura explains this in his Caitanya Mangala as follows: “That very Murari Gupta who lived in Nadiya composed many Sanskrit verses about the life of Sri Gauranga, which he later arranged in the form of a book. Having heard these verses from Murari Gupta, Damodara Pandit taught them to me, and I memorized them with great delight. As these Sanskrit verses, and the conception of Caitanya Mahaprabhu imparted to me through Damodara Pandita, developed within my mind, it flowed forth from me in the form of these Panchali verses in Bengali, which I write in glorification of the life and pastimes of Sri Caitanya.” (C.M. Sutra-Khanda)
In his preface to the Caitanya Mangala, Srila Locana Dasa Thakura offers his prayers to Vrindavan dasa Thakura before proceeding with the narrative. He says, “I offer my prayers of submission to Vrindavana Dasa Thakura with all my heart. The sweet song of his Caitanya Bhagavata has enchanted the whole world.” (C.M. Sutra-Khanda)
Vrindavan Dasa Thakura’s Caitanya Bhagavata was originally called Caitanya Mangala. It is said that Srila Locana Dasa Thakura and Srila Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Goswami gave it the name Caitanya Bhagavata. Krishnadasa Kavriaja Goswami writes:
krishna lila bhagavate kahe vedadvyasa,
chaitanya lilara vyasa-vrindavana dasa. “Vedavyasa has described the pastimes of Krishna in his Bhagavata. The Vyasa of Caitanya Lila is Vrindavan Dasa.”
From this comparison between Vedavyasa and Vrindavana Dasa, it has been concluded that Kaviraja Goswami is probably responsible for Vrindavan Dasa Thakur’s work becoming known as the Bhagavata of Caitanya Lila or Chaitanya-Bhagavata.
There are many pastimes of Sri Caitanya that have only been touched on briefly by Vrindvana Dasa Thakura. These are described in detail in the Caitanya Mangala of Locana Dasa Thakura.
Locana Dasa Thakura also sings the glories of Sri Gauranga and Nityananda in the following beautiful song:
parama karuna pahun dui jana
saba avatara, sara shiromani
kevala ananda kanda
bhaja bhaja bhai, chaitanya nitai
sudhrida visvasa kori
vishaya chariya se rase majiya
mukha bolo hari hari
dekho ore bhai, tribhuvane nai
emona doyala data
pashu-pakhi jhure, pashana vidore
shuni yar guna gantha
samsare majiya, rahile pariya
se pade nahilo asha
apana koroma, bhunjaye shamana,
kohoye locana dasa
This song was especially dear to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who translates it as follows: “”This is a song by Locana dasa Thakura. Locana dasa declares that the two Lords, Nitai-Gauracandra?Lord Nitai and Lord Caitanya?are very merciful. They are the essence of all incarnations. The specific significance of these incarnations is that prosecuting their way of self-realization is simply joyful, for they introduced chanting and dancing. There are many incarnations, like Lord Rama and even Krishna, who taught Bhagavad-gita, which requires knowledge and understanding. But Lord Caitanya introduced a process which is simply joyful? simply chant and dance.
Therefore Locana Das requests everyone: “My dear brother, I request that you just worship Lord Caitanya and Nityananda with firm conviction and faith.” Don’t think that this chanting and dancing will not lead to the desired goal. It will. It is the assurance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that one will get all perfection by this process. Therefore one must chant with firm faith and conviction.
But what is the process? If one wants to be Krishna conscious by this process, one has to give up his engagement in sense gratification. That is the only restriction. If one gives up sense gratification, it is sure that he will reach the desired goal. One simply has to chant “Hari Hari!” without any motive of sense gratification.
Locana das says, “My dear brother, you just try and examine this. Within the three worlds there is no one like Lord Caitanya or Lord Nityananda, because Their merciful qualities are so great that They make even birds and beasts cry, what to speak of human beings.” Actually, when Lord Caitanya passed through the forest known as Jharikhanda, the tigers, elephants, snakes, deer, and all other animals joined Him in chanting Hare Krishna. It is so nice that anyone can join. Even the animals can join, what to speak of human beings. Of course, it is not possible for ordinary men to induce animals to chant, but if Caitanya Mahaprabhu could inspire animals to chant, at least we can encourage human beings to adopt this path of Hare Krishna mantra chanting. It is so nice that even the most stonehearted man will be melted. It is so nice that even stone will melt.
But Locana dasa Thakura regrets that he is entrapped by sense gratification. He addresses himself, “My dear mind, you are entrapped in this sense gratification process, and you have no attraction for chanting Hare Krishna. Since you have no attraction for the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, what can I say? I can simply think of my misfortune. Yamaraja, the superintendent of death, is punishing me by not allowing me to be attracted by this movement.
Sri Locana Dasa Thakura was born in Shakabda 1445 and disappeared in 1540.