Nama Acharya Haridas Thakur
Haridas Thakur is known as Namaacharya Haridas. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeard he chanted the holy names of the lord and all that heard them became Namaacharyas. Haridas Thakur was empowerd to set the perfect example of surrender to the holy name. His faith and devotion to the chanting of the holy name is unparrelled. He has said that simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from all misery.He has shown us that those who are actually servants of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu must seriously distribute this chanting all over the world to render the greatest benefit to human society. Of course, animals and other lower species are not capable of understanding the science of Krsna, but if even a small number of living beings take it seriously, by their chanting loudly, all living entities, including even trees, animals and other lower species, will be benefited. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu inquired from Haridasa Thakura how he was to benefit living entities other than humans, Srila Haridasa Thakura replied that the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is so potent that if it is chanted loudly, everyone will benefit, including the lower species of life.
The twentieth branch of the Caitanya tree was Haridasa Thakura. His character was wonderful. He used to chant the holy name of Krsna 300,000 times a day without fail.
There is no end to the transcendental
qualities of Haridasa Thakura. He was so exalted that Advaita Gosvami,
when performing the sraddha ceremony of his father, offered him the first
Haridasa Thakura is exceptional for his forbearance because although he was beaten with canes in twenty-two marketplacesby the demons, nevertheless he was tolerant. Similarly, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, although he belonged to a most respectable brahmana family, was exceptional for his humility and meekness.
Sanatana Gosvami later described the glories of Haridasa Thakura.
It is understood that Advaita Prabhu, at one time, was in His own paternal house at Santipura. Haridasa Thakura frequently used to meet Him. Coincidentally, therefore, he was also there, and upon the birth of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu both of them immediately began to dance. But no one in Santipura could understand why those two saintly persons were dancing.
On the maha-prakasa day, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu embraced Haridasa Thakura and informed him that he was none other than an incarnation of Prahlada Maharaja.
When Haridasa Thakura and Rupa Gosvami saw that all the devotees were accepting prasada and chanting the holy name of Hari, they both were greatly pleased.
Namacarya Haridasa Thakura, the authority on the chanting of the holy name, said, "The chanting of the Lord's holy name to indicate something other than the Lord is an instance of namabhasa. Even when the holy name is chanted in this way, its transcendental power is not destroyed.
Namacarya Haridasa Thakura continued, "If one offenselessly utters the holy name even imperfectly, one can be freed from all the results of sinful life.
As Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard this from Haridasa Thakura, the happiness within His heart increased, but as a matter of course, He still inquired further.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu derives great pleasure from glorifying His devotees, and among the devotees, Haridasa Thakura is the foremost.
The transcendental qualities of Haridasa Thakura are innumerable and unfathomable. One may describe a portion of them, but to count them all is impossible.
No one can describe all the qualities of Haridasa Thakura. One may say something about them just to purify himself.
Haridasa Thakura constructed a cottage
in a solitary forest. There he planted a tulasi plant, and in front of
the tulasi he would chant the holy name of the Lord 300,000 times daily.
He chanted throughout the entire day and night.
The village of Benapola is situated in the district of Yasohara, which is now in Bangladesh. Benapola is near the Banagano station, which is at the border of Bangladesh and may be reached by the eastern railway from Shelda Station in Calcutta. Haridasa Thakura, being the acarya of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, is called Namacarya Haridasa Thakura. From his personal Example we can understand that chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and becoming highly elevated in Krsna consciousness is very simple. Without difficulty one can sit down anywhere, especially on the bank of the Ganges, Yamuna or any sacred river, devise a sitting place or cottage, plant a tulasi, and before the tulasi chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra undisturbed.
Throughout the entire day and night,
he would chant the sixteen names of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. One should
not, however, imitate Haridasa Thakura, for no one else can chant the Hare
Krsna maha-mantra 300,000 times a day. Such chanting is for the mukta-purusa,
or liberated soul. We can follow his example, however, by chanting our
prescribed number of rounds of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra on beads every
day and offering respect to the tulasi plant. This is not at all difficult
for anyone, and the process of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra with
a vow before the tulasi plant has such great spiritual potency that simply
by doing this one can become spiritually strong. Therefore we request everyone
to follow Haridasa Thakura's example rigidly. Chanting rounds does not
take much time, nor is offering respects to the tulasi plant difficult.
The process has immense spiritual potency. One should not miss this opportunity.
In the days of Haridasa Thakura, all the brahmanas worshiped Narayana in the form of the salagrama-sila. Therefore begging alms from a brahmana's house meant taking krsna-prasada, which is transcendental (nirguna). If we take food from the house of others, such as karmis, we shall have to share the qualities of those from whom we take alms. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took prasada in the houses of Vaisnavas. This is the general process. Aspireing Viasnavas are advised not to take food from anywhere but a Vaisnava's or brahmana's house where Deity worship is performed. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said, visayira anna khaile dusta haya mana: if a devotee takes alms or food from the house of a karmi who is simply interested in money, his mind will be unclean. We must always remember that a devotee's life is one of vairagya-vidya, or renunciation and knowledge. Therefore all devotees are warned not to live unnecessarily luxurious lives at the cost of others. Grhasthas living within the jurisdiction of the temple must be especially careful not to imitate karmis by acquiring opulent clothing, food and conveyances. As far as possible, these should be avoided. Devoteess whether grhastha, brahmacari or sannyasi, must practice a life of renunciation, following in the footsteps of Haridasa Thakura and the six Gosvamis. Otherwise, because maya is very strong, at any time one may become a victim of maya and fall down from spiritual life.
We can clearly see how a Vaisnava delivers a fallen soul by a transcendental trick. A prostitute came to pollute Haridasa Thakura but he took it as his duty to deliver the prostitute. As clearly demonstrated here, the process of deliverance is very simple. With faith and reverence the prostitute associated with Haridasa Thakura, who personally treated her material disease by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Although the prostitute had an ulterior motive, somehow or other she got the association of a Vaisnava and satisfied him by occasionally chanting in imitation, "O my Lord Hari, O my Lord Hari." The conclusion is that associating with a Vaisnava, chanting the holy name of the Lord and offering obeisances to the tulasi plant or a Vaisnava all lead one to become a transcendental devotee who is completely cleansed of all material contamination.
According to external vision, Haridasa Thakura belonged to a Mohammedan family. Nevertheless, because he engaged himself in performing the yajna of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, he became a regularly initiated brahmana.
As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.33.6):
yat-prahvanad yat-smaranad api kvacit
svado 'pi sadyah savanaya kalpate
kutah punas te bhagavan nu darsanat
Even if a devotee comes from a family of dog-eaters, if he surrenders to the personality of Godhead he immediately becomes a qualified brahmana and is immediately fit to perform yajna, whereas a person born in a family of brahmanas has to wait until completing the reformatory processes before he may be called samskrta, purified.
Raghunatha dasa, who was the son
of Hiranya Majumadara and was later to become Raghunatha dasa Gosvami,
when he was a young boy engaged in study. He made time to to see Haridasa
Naturally Haridasa Thakura was merciful toward him, and because of the merciful benediction of this Vaisnava, he later attained the shelter of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's lotus feet.
While Haridasa Thakura was staying
under the care of Advaita Acarya, he was afraid of the behavior of society
in Santipura, Navadvipa, which was full of exceedingly aristocratic brahmanas,
ksatriyas and vaisyas. Haridasa Thakura was born in a Mohammedan family
and was later recognized as a great Vaisnava, but nevertheless the brahmanas
were very critical of him. Thus Haridasa Thakura was afraid that Advaita
Acarya would be put into some difficulty because of His familiarity with
Sri Advaita Acarya treated Haridasa Thakura as a most elevated Vaisnava, but others, like Ramacandra Khan, were envious of Haridasa Thakura.
Of course, we have to follow in the footsteps of Advaita Acarya, not caring for people like Ramacandra Khan. At present, many Vaisnavas are coming from among the Europeans and Americans, and although a man like Ramacandra Khan is always envious of such Vaisnavas, one should follow in the footsteps of Sri Advaita Acarya by treating all of them as Vaisnavas. Although they are not as exalted as Haridasa Thakura, such Americans and Europeans, having accepted the principles of Vaisnava philosophy and behavior, should never be excluded from Vaisnava society.
The Passing of Haridasa Thakura
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his
Amrta-pravaha-bhasya has said; "Brahma Haridasa Thakura gave up his body
with the consent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and the Lord Himself personally
performed the funeral ceremony and carried the body to the sea. He personally
entombed the body, covered it with sand, and erected a platform on the
site. After taking bath in the sea, He personally begged prasada of Jagannatha
from shopkeepers and distributed prasada to the assembled devotees."
By using the words tomara avatara ("your incarnation"), Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu confirms that Haridasa Thakura is the incarnation of Lord Brahma. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that advanced devotees help the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His mission and that such devotees or personal associates incarnate by the will of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord incarnates by His own will, and, by His will, competent devotees also incarnate to help Him in His mission. Haridasa Thakura is thus the incarnation of Lord Brahma, and other devotees are likewise incarnations who help in the prosecution of the Lord's mission.
As He described the transcendental attributes of Haridasa Thakura, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu seemed to possess five mouths. The more He described, the more His great happiness increased.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bathed the body of Haridasa Thakura in the sea and then declared, "From this day on, this sea has become a great pilgrimage site."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave this benediction: "Anyone who has seen the festival of Sri Haridasa Thakura's passing away, anyone who has chanted and danced here, anyone who has offered sand on the body of Haridasa Thakura and anyone who has joined this festival to partake of the prasada will achieve the favor of Krsna very soon. There is such wonderful power in seeing Haridasa Thakura.
At Purusottama-ksetra, or Jagannatha Puri, there is a temple of Tota-gopinatha. If one goes from there to the sea, he can discover the tomb of Haridasa Thakura still existing. Every year on the date of Ananta-caturdasi there is a festival to commemorate the passing away of Haridasa Thakura. At the same place, three Deities of Nityananda, Krsna Caitanya and Advaita Prabhu were established about one hundred years ago. A gentleman named Bhramaravara from Kendrapada in the province of Orissa contributed funds to establish these Deities in the temple. The management of the temple was under the Tota-gopinatha gosvamis.
This temple was later sold to someone else, and this party is now maintaining the seva-puja of the temple. Near this temple and the tomb of Haridasa Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura constructed a small house, called Bhakti-kuti. In the Bengali year 1329 (A.D. 1922), Purusottama-matha, a branch of the Gaudiya Matha, was established there. in the Bhakti-ratnakara it is stated:
Haridasa Thakura is mentioned here as the most learned scholar, parama-vidvan. Actually, the most important science to know is the science of getting out of the clutches of material existence. Anyone who knows this science must be considered the greatest learned person. Anyone who knows the temporary situation of this material world and is expert in achieving a permanent situation in the spiritual world, who knows that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is beyond the jurisdiction of our experimental knowledge, is understood to be the most learned scholar. Haridasa Thakura knew this science perfectly. Therefore, he is described in this connection as parama-vidvan. He personally preached the importance of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, which is approved by the revealed scriptures.
As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.24):
iti pumsarpita visnau
bhaktis cen nava-laksana
kriyeta bhagavaty addha
tan manye dhitam uttamam
There are nine different processes of devotional service to Krsna, the most important being sravanam kirtanam--hearing and chanting. Haridasa Thakura knew this science very well, and he can therefore be called, technically, sarva-sastradhiti. Anyone who has learned the essence of all the Vedic scripture is to be known as a first-class educated person, with full knowledge of all sastra.
After the passing away of Haridasa Thakura, the Lord Himself took his body on His lap, and He danced with it in great ecstasy.
Nama Acharya Srila Haridas Thakur Ki Jaya