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Disappearance Day of Srila Haridas Thakur

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Sri Haridas Thakur appeared in this world in the village of Buron, in the present district of Sat-kira, which was previously a subdivision of Khulna, Bangladesh. By this great fortune that land has been blessed, in that the chanting of the Holy Names of Hari-Nam Sankirtan, became revealed there. After remaining there for some time, he came to the banks of Ganga at Fulia, near Santipur. Advaita Acarya was overjoyed to get his association and roared very loudly. The two of them thus began to float in the waves of the mellows of pastimes of Sri Krishna-Govinda. [C. B. Adi 16.18]


Sri Haridas Thakur is an eternally liberated associate of the Lord. The associates of the Lord are worshippable wherever they make their appearance. Just as Garuda appeared as a bird, and Hanuman as a monkey, Haridas Thakur appeared in a family of Yavanas (Mohammedans). From his very birth he was very deeply devoted to the Holy Names of Sri Krishna.


When he came to live by the banks of the Ganges, Advaita Acarya was very happy to get his association. The brahmana residents of Fulia were very pleased to see how he worshipped the Holy Name, and they used to come everyday to have his darsan. Gradually word began to spread of his glories. When the Mohammedan administrator came to know of all this he began to burn with malice and went to the local Mohammedan king to inform him, “Though he is Mohammedan, he behaves as a Hindu, are therefore he should be brought here for trial.” Hearing the words of that sinful man, the local king who was also very sinful, had Haridas Thakur brought there immediately. [C. B. Adi 16.37].


The Mohammedan King told Haridas, “Just give up this chanting and say the Kalma (prayer of the Mohammedans).”


Haridasa Thakura replied, “The Supreme Lord is one, though His names might be different. The Hindu sastras are the Puranas and the Muslim sastra is the Koran. Everyone acts as he is inspired by the Lord, as also do I. Some Yavanas become Hindus and some Hindus become Yavanas, to worship the Lord. O Maharaja, you can now judge me.”


Hearing these words the Kazi replied that it would be necessary to punish him. Hearing the decree of the Kazi, the Mulukpati addressed Haridasa, “My brother, just follow your own religion. Then you will have nothing to worry about. Otherwise you will have to be punished.”


In reply to this Haridasa Thakura exclaimed, “Even if you cut my body into pieces, I will never give up the chanting of Hari nama.” [C. B. Adi 6.94]


After hearing these words of Haridasa spoken with great determination, the Kazi declared, “He should be beaten in twenty-two market places. If he doesn’t die after this, then I will know that the learned gentleman speaks the truth.” Thus having heard the words of the Kazi, the sinful Mulukpati then ordered that Haridasa Thakura be beaten in twenty-two market places. Haridasa remembered the Lord by chanting “Krishna Krishna”, and in the happiness of that remembrance, he didn’t feel any bodily inconvenience. [C. B. Adi 16.102].


As the demoniac associates of Hiranyakasipu tried in so many ways to kill Sri Prahlada Maharaja, but were unsuccessful, similarly the demoniac Mohammedans, though they tried to harm Haridasa Thakura, were unable to do so. Haridasa Thakur was immersed in the nectar of the Name and thus gradually the Mohammedans could understand that he wasn’t an ordinary person.


Thus they humbly submitted to the Thakura, “Haridasa! We can understand that you are a genuine saintly person. No one can do anything to you. But the Mulukpati won’t understand any of this. Rather he will have our heads.” Hearing their frightened pleas Haridasa’s external consciousness ceased and he entered into deep meditation on the Lord’s Holy Name.


Then the Mohammedans carried his body on their shoulders to the Mulukpati, who surmised that he was dead. Thinking as such he ordered that his body be thrown in the Ganga. Haridasa’s body floated down the Ganga until he reached Fulia ghat, where he got out of the water and began to loudly chant Hari Nama. Seeing the greatness of Haridasa Thakura, the Mulukpati became fearful. Along with the other Mohammedans he came there and begged Haridas Thakur to forgive him for his offense.


Considering him to be a holy man, they all offered their salutations and thus were delivered from their offences. Having witnessed the pastimes of the Thakura the devotees were in ecstacy.


Haridasa Thakur used to chant Hari Nama in a hollowed out cave-like hole at the base of a tree. This “cave” still exists near Fulia, on the banks of the Ganga. One can get there by train from Santipura. Within the roots of this tree also lived a poisonous snake. Being fearful of this snake the devotees couldn’t remain there for very long and one day they mentioned to the Thakura about this snake which was worrying them. Seeing the distress of the devotees Haridasa Thakur called to that snake and spoke to him, “My dear sir, if in fact you are residing here, then I am requesting that you please leave by tomorrow, otherwise I myself will definitely leave here.”


Hearing these words of the Thakura, that snake immediately came out of its hole and after offering namaskar to the Thakura, it went elsewhere. Seeing this pastime, the devotees were struck with wonder and they developed profound and deep devotion for Haridasa Thakura.


One time Haridasa Thakura came to a village within Jessore district named Harinode-gram, which was predominantly inhabited by brahmanas. One day during a religious discussion one puffed-up brahmana approached Haridasa Thakura and remarked, “O Haridasa! Why do you chant the holy name loudly? In the scriptures it is recommended to chant within the mind.” In reply Hari dasa Thakura told him, “The birds, beasts and insects cannot chant themselves, but if they get to hear Hari Nama then they also become delivered. If one chants only to himself then he delivers only himself, but if one chants loudly, the benefit is a hundred times greater. This is the conclusion of the scriptures.” [C. B. Adi 16.180]


Hearing this objective statement of Haridasa Thakura that sinful brahmana couldn’t tolerate it and exclaimed, “In Kali yuga sudras will recite the sastras, now I am seeing this with my own eyes.” In answer to this personal insult delivered by that miscreant brahmana, Haridasa Thakura simply silently walked out of that assembly. Within a few days that brahmana contracted ulcerous leprosy. The result of vaisnava-aparadha became immediately manifest. In Kali yuga, Raksasas take birth in brahmana families in order to give trouble to the honest, virtuous people. [C.B. Adi 16.300]


Another time, Haridasa desired to have darsana of the Vaisnavas of Navadwipa. Everyone there became overwhelmed with ecstasy, to see Haridasa. Adwaita Acarya loved Haridasa as much as His own life and he would offer the first prasadam to Haridasa Thakura (which is to be offered only to high class brahmanas) after performing Pitr-sraddha (worship of his forefathers).


Haridasa Thakura lived for some time at Benapol, which was within Jessore district. Every day and night he would chant three hundred thousand Holy Names. At the time, when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu displayed His divine opulences by manifesting Himself as the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the courtyard af Srivasa Pandita’s house, He was calling his dear devotees: “Haridasa! when those Mohammedans were beating you I was ready to destroy them with My Sudarsana Cakra, but as you were praying for their welfare I was unable to do anything.” [C. B. Madhya 10.42]


Therefore I accepted their blows on My own body. Just see, the scars are still here on My body.” Seeing those marks Haridasa fainted in ecstatic love. Regaining his consciousness he began to praise the Lord of his life, “O Lord Viswambhara, master of the universe, please have mercy on this sinner, who has fallen at Your feet. I have no good qualities and am a vile wretch, rejected by all classes of men. How can I describe Your divine character?” [C. B. Mad 20.58]


Thakura Haridasa was present during most of the Lord’s pastimes in Nadia, and when the Lord went to Jagannatha Puri, Haridasa also went and took up residence there. Everyday, after attending Lord Jagannath’s mongol aroti, Lord Caitanya would come to see Haridasa Thakura and would bring him some of Lord Jagannath’s prasadam. When Sri Sanatana Goswami and Sri Rupa Goswami would come from Vrindavana to Puri they used to stay with Haridasa Thakura. Haridasa, in order to maintain the etiquette, would not go near Lord Jagannatha’s temple but would offer his obeisances to the Cakra on top of the temple, from a distance. As he was considered to be a Mohammedan by birth, his presence in the temple would be objectionable to those who were caste conscious.


Mahamayadevi took initiation in the maha-mantra from Haridasa Thakura and Caitanya Mahaprabhu appointed him as the acarya of the Holy Name. His departure from this world, in the presence of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is fully described by Sri Krishna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami in the Antya-lila of Sri Caitanya Caritamrita.


[source: The archives of veda.harekrsna.cz.]

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(Caitanya Caritamrita, Antya-lila, chapter 11)</center>

One day Govinda, the personal servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, went in great jubilation to deliver the remnants of Lord Jagannatha’s food to Haridasa Thakura. When he came to Haridasa, he saw that Haridasa was lying on his back and chanting his rounds very slowly. “Please rise and take your maha- prasadam,” Govinda said. Haridasa Thakura replied, “Today I shall observe fasting. I have not finished chanting my regular number of rounds. How, then, can I eat? But you have brought maha- prasadam, and how can I neglect it?” Saying this, he offered prayers to the maha- prasadam, took a little portion, and ate it.


The next day, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to Haridasa’s place and inquired from him, “Haridasa, are you well?” Haridasa offered his obeisances to the Lord and replied, “My body is all right, but my mind and intelligence are not well.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu further inquired from Haridasa, “Can you ascertain what your disease is?” Haridasa Thakura replied, “My disease is that I cannot complete my rounds.”


“Now that you have become old,” the Lord said, “you may reduce the number of rounds you chant daily. You are already liberated, and therefore you need not follow the regulative principles very strictly. Your role in this incarnation is to deliver the people in general. You have sufficiently preached the glories of the holy name in this world. Now, therefore, please reduce the fixed number of times you chant the Hare Krishna maha- mantra.”


Haridasa Thakura replied, “Kindly hear my real plea. I was born in an inferior family, and my body is most abominable. I always engage in low work. Therefore, I am the lowest, most condemned of men. I am unseeable and untouchable, but You have accepted me as Your servant. This means that You have delivered me from a hellish condition and raised me to Vaikuntha. You are the fully independent Personality of Godhead. You act by Your own free will. You cause the whole world to dance and act as You like. By Your mercy You have made me dance in many ways. For example, I was offered the sraddha- patra, which should have been offered to first-class brahmanas. I ate from it even though I was born in a family of meat- eaters. I have had one desire for a very long time. I think that quite soon, my Lord, You will bring to a close Your pastimes within this material world. I wish that You not show me this closing chapter of Your pastimes. Before that time comes, kindly let my body fall down in Your presence. I wish to catch Your lotuslike feet upon my heart and see Your moonlike face. With my tongue I shall chant Your holy name, ‘Sri Krishna Caitanya!’ That is my desire. Kindly let me give up my body in this way. O most merciful Lord, if by Your mercy it is possible, kindly grant my desire. Let this lowborn body fall down before You. You can make possible this perfection of all my desires.”


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “My dear Haridasa, Krishna is so merciful that He must execute whatever you want. “But whatever happiness is Mine is all due to your association. It is not fitting for you to go away and leave Me behind.”


Catching the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Haridasa Thakura said, “My Lord, do not create an illusion! Although I am so fallen, You must certainly show me this mercy! My Lord, there are many respectable personalities, millions of devotees, who are fit to sit on my head. They are all helpful in Your pastimes. My Lord, if an insignificant insect like me dies, what is the loss? If an ant dies, where is the loss to the material world? My Lord, You are always affectionate to Your devotees. I am just an imitation devotee, but nevertheless I wish that You fulfill my desire. That is my expectation.”


Because He had to perform His noon duties, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu got up to leave, but it was settled that the following day, after He saw Lord Jagannatha, He would return to visit Haridasa Thakura. After embracing him, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu left to perform His noon duties and went to the sea to take His bath. The next morning, after visiting the Jagannatha temple, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, accompanied by all His devotees, went hastily to see Haridasa Thakura.


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the devotees came before Haridasa Thakura, who offered his respects to the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and all the Vaisnavas. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu inquired, “My dear Haridasa, what is the news?” Haridasa Thakura replied, “My Lord, whatever mercy You can bestow upon me.”


Upon hearing this, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu immediately began great congregational chanting in the courtyard. Vakresvara Pandita was the chief dancer. Headed by Svarupa Damodara Gosvami, all the devotees of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu surrounded Haridasa Thakura and began congregational chanting. In front of all the great devotees like Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu began to describe the holy attributes of Haridasa Thakura. 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. After hearing of the transcendental qualities of Haridasa Thakura, all the devotees present were struck with wonder. They all offered their respectful obeisances to the lotus feet of Haridasa Thakura.


Haridasa Thakura made Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sit down in front of him, and then he fixed his eyes, like two bumblebees, on the lotus face of the Lord. He held the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu on his heart and then took the dust of the feet of all the devotees present and put it on his head. He began to chant the holy name of Sri Krishna Caitanya again and again. As he drank the sweetness of the face of the Lord, tears constantly glided down from his eyes. While chanting the holy name of Sri Krishna Caitanya, he gave up his air of life and left his body.


Seeing the wonderful death of Haridasa Thakura by his own will, which was just like a great mystic yogi’s, everyone remembered the passing away of Bhisma. There was a tumultuous noise as they all chanted the holy names “Hari” and “Krishna.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu became overwhelmed with ecstatic love. The Lord raised the body of Haridasa Thakura and placed it on His lap. Then He began to dance in the courtyard in great ecstatic love. Because of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic love, all the devotees were helpless, and in ecstatic love they also began to dance and chant congregationally.


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced for some time, and then Svarupa Damodara Gosvami informed Him of other rituals for the body of Thakura Haridasa. The body of Haridasa Thakura was then raised onto a carrier that resembled an airship and taken to the sea, accompanied by congregational chanting. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced in front of the procession, and Vakresvara Pandita, along with the other devotees, chanted and danced behind Him. 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.”


Everyone drank the water that had touched the lotus feet of Haridasa Thakura, and then they smeared remnants of Lord Jagannatha’s sandalwood pulp over Haridasa Thakura’s body. After a hole was dug in the sand, the body of Haridasa Thakura was placed into it. Remnants from Lord Jagannatha, such as His silken ropes, sandalwood pulp, food and cloth, were placed on the body. All around the body, the devotees performed congregational chanting, and Vakresvara Pandita danced in jubilation.


With His transcendental hands, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally covered the body of Haridasa Thakura with sand, chanting “Haribol! Haribol!” The devotees covered the body of Haridasa Thakura with sand and then constructed a platform upon the site. The platform was protected all around by fencing. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced and chanted all around the platform, and as the holy name of Hari roared tumultuously, the whole universe became filled with the vibration.


After sankirtana, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bathed in the sea with His devotees, swimming and playing in the water in great jubilation. After circumambulating the tomb of Haridasa Thakura, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to the Simha-dvara gate of the Jagannatha temple. The whole city chanted in congregation, and the tumultuous sound vibrated all over the city. Approaching the Simha-dvara gate, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu spread His cloth and began to beg prasadam from all the shopkeepers there. “I am begging prasadam for a festival honoring the passing away of Haridasa Thakura,” the Lord said. “Please give Me alms.”


Hearing this, all the shopkeepers immediately came forward with big baskets of prasadam, which they jubilantly delivered to Lord Caitanya. However, Svarupa Damodara stopped them, and the shopkeepers returned to their shops and sat down with their baskets. Svarupa Damodara sent Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu back to His residence and kept with him four Vaisnavas and four servant carriers. Svarupa Damodara said to all the shopkeepers, “Deliver to me four palmfuls of prasadam from each and every item.”


In this way varieties of prasadam were collected, then packed up in different loads and carried on the heads of the four servants. Not only did Svarupa Damodara Gosvami bring prasadam, but Vaninatha Pattanayaka and Kasi Misra also sent large quantities. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu made all the devotees sit in rows and personally began to distribute the prasadam, assisted by four other men.


With his big hands, no small quantity of prasadam could be served. He thus put on each plate what at least five men could eat. Svarupa Damodara Gosvami requested Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, “Please sit down and watch. With these men to help me, I shall distribute the prasadam.”


The four men—Svarupa Damodara, Jagadananda, Kasisvara and Sankara—distributed the prasadam continuously. All the devotees who sat down would not eat the prasadam as long as the Lord had not eaten. On that day, however, Kasi Misra had extended an invitation to the Lord. Therefore Kasi Misra personally went there and delivered prasadam to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with great attention and made Him eat.


With Paramananda Puri and Brahmananda Bharati, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sat down and accepted the prasadam. When He began to eat, so did all the Vaisnavas. Everyone was filled up to the neck because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu kept telling the distributors, “Give them more! Give them more!” After all the devotees finished accepting prasadam and had washed their hands and mouths, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu decorated each of them with a flower garland and sandalwood pulp.


Overwhelmed with ecstatic love, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu offered a benediction to all the devotees, which all the devotees heard with great satisfaction. “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 prasadam will achieve the favor of Krishna very soon. There is such wonderful power in seeing Haridasa Thakura. Being merciful upon Me, Krishna gave Me the association of Haridasa Thakura. Being independent in His desires, He has now broken that association. When Haridasa Thakura wanted to leave this material world, it was not within My power to detain him. Simply by his will, Haridasa Thakura could give up his life and go away, exactly like Bhisma, who previously died simply by his own desire, as we have heard from sastra. Haridasa Thakura was the crown jewel on the head of this world; without him, this world is now bereft of its valuable jewel.”


Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then told everyone, “Say ‘All glories to Haridasa Thakura!’ and chant the holy name of Hari.” Saying this, He personally began to dance. Everyone began to chant, “All glories to Haridasa Thakura, who revealed the importance of chanting the holy name of the Lord!”


Thereafter, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to all the devotees, and He Himself, with mixed feelings of happiness and distress, took rest. Thus I have spoken about the victorious passing away of Haridasa Thakura. Anyone who hears this narration will certainly fix his mind firmly in devotional service to Krishna. From the incident of Haridasa Thakura’s passing away and the great care Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took in commemorating it, one can understand just how affectionate He is toward His devotees. Although He is the topmost of all sannyasis, He fully satisfied the desire of Haridasa Thakura.


[Adapted from the BBT edition of Caitanya Caritamrita.]

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