Today is the divine disappearance day of Namacharya Haridasa Thakura. So we shall read from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Chapter Eleven: “The Passing of Haridasa Thakura.”
The summary of this chapter is given by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in his Amrta-pravaha-bhasya as follows. In this chapter it is described how Brahma Haridasa Thakura gave up his body with the consent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and how 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 a bath in the sea, He personally begged prasada of Jagannatha from shopkeepers and distributed prasada to the assembled devotees.
namami haridasam tam
caitanyam tam ca tat-prabhum
samsthitam api yan-murtim
svanke krtva nanarta yah
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Haridasa Thakura and his master, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who danced with the body of Haridasa Thakura on His lap.
jaya jaya sri-caitanya jaya dayamaya
jayadvaita-priya nityananda-priya jaya
All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is very merciful and who is very dear to Advaita Acarya and Lord Nityananda!
jaya srinivasesvara haridasa-natha
jaya gadadhara-priya svarupa-prana-natha
All glories to the master of Srinivasa Thakura! All glories to the master of Haridasa Thakura! All glories to the dear master of Gadadhara Pandita! All glories to the master of the life of Svarupa Damodara!
jaya kasi-priya jagadananda-pranesvara
All glories to Lord Sri Caitanya, who is very dear to Kasi Misra! He is the Lord of the life of Jagadananda and the Lord of Rupa Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami.
eka-dina govinda maha-prasada lana
haridase dite gela anandita hana
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 Govinda came to Haridasa, he saw that Haridasa Thakura was lying on his back and chanting his rounds very slowly.
“Please rise and take your maha-prasada” 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-prasada, and how can I neglect it?”
Saying this, Haridasa offered prayers to the maha-prasada, took a little portion, and ate it.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Maha-prasada is nondifferent from Krsna. Therefore, instead of eating maha-prasada, one should honor it. It is said here, karila vandana, “he offered prayers.” When taking maha-prasada, one should not consider the food ordinary preparations. Prasada means favor. One should consider maha-prasada a favor of Krsna. As stated by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, krsna bada dayamaya karibare jihva jaya svaprasada-anna dila bhai. Krsna is very kind. In this material world we are all very much attached to tasting various types of food.
Therefore, Krsna eats many nice varieties of food and offers the food back to the devotees, so that not only are one’s demands for various tastes satisfied, but by eating prasada one makes advancement in spiritual life. Therefore, we should never consider ordinary food on an equal level with maha-prasada.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
The honoring of maha-prasada is one of the important items of devotional service. Maha-prasada is food that has been offered with love and devotion to the Lord and accepted by the Lord. In the Antya-lila of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu feels great ecstasy honoring maha-prasada and He raises the question amongst His confidential devotees about its nature, that although it appears to be made of the same ingredients as ordinary food such as rice, dal, vegetables, spices, it creates a completely different experience. He explains that the food that has been offered to Lord Jagannatha has been mixed with the nectar of the Lord’s lips. The same nectar that fills the transcendental flute of Krishna and for which the gopis are always hankering—that same nectar from the lips of Krishna permeates maha-prasada. And when we honor maha-prasada with purified senses, we can relish the nectar from Krishna’s lotus mouth.
Although maha-prasada is transcendental, one should honor it as spiritual. As far as possible, one should not lust after maha-prasada. And although it is transcendental, Srila Prabhupada has warned us to maintain a respectful attitude toward it and not accept it on the basis of taste. Sometimes even with Prabhupada’s remnants, maha maha-prasada, the servant would bring the plate out and the senior devotees who were waiting for it would examine it and say, “I want this. I want that. I don’t want that.” It wasn’t a good mentality, and when Prabhupada’s servant mentioned it to him, Prabhupada said, “After I finish honoring prasada, you should take the remnants and mush it all together and then distribute the maha-prasada so the devotees will not be selecting on the basis of their personal taste, but they will just be receiving maha-prasada.”
Once, in Bombay, there a clash between two of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples. One was a cook—actually a very good cook—and would cook for the Deities, and the other was a good manager and good businessman. So, they had some clash, and immediately afterwards each one ran to Srila Prabhupada to give him a version of what happened and to complain about the other. In the end, Prabhupada commented that the problem was that they both were eating too much maha-prasada and that by eating too much rich food, they had become passionate and were fighting.
Sometimes honoring prasada is part of preaching. That’s also a subtle point, because sometimes when we go to people’s homes to accept prasada, we are not completely sure about the consciousness that went into the cooking, or the principles of cleanliness and hygiene and the spiritual rules and regulations that are required to cook for Krishna and offer the food to Krishna. We are not sure. But in India in the early days, Srila Prabhupada said that if the family were Vaishnavas and they offered the food to their family Deity, we should take it as prasada.
When we first came to Bombay, we received so many invitations that Srila Prabhupada made a rule that we would not eat at anyone’s house unless they became a life member. So, during the first Bombay pandal, a big pandal program at Cross Maiden, a very distinguished, aristocratic, pious, cultured Hindu gentleman and philanthropist, K.J. Somaiya, came. Prabhupada would speak at about seven in the morning in Hindi and then in the evening in English. Sri K. J. Somaya would come to the morning lectures, and he invited Srila Prabhupada and the devotees to his home to take prasada. So, the devotees informed him of the rule, “You have to become a life member.” And he became a little annoyed. He didn’t think it was proper that we should place such a condition. But Srila Prabhupada was strict in his principle. In certain cases he was responsive to an extent, but he didn’t really care about a big person in the material world—he had his rules and principles, and he stuck to them.
Eventually Sri Somayaji relented and became a life member, and the devotees said that Srila Prabhupada would come to his home for prasada. Srila Prabhupada remarked, “We are making life members simply by eating.”
Another friend from Bombay, Sri Hari Krishna Das Agarwal, invited Srila Prabhupada and the devotees to the Vedanta Sammelan in Amritsar. The sammelan was held at a Mayavadi ashram, and there were Mayavadi slogans everywhere: aham brahmasmi, tattvamasi. After the morning program one day, with his disciples in his room, Srila Prabhupada said that the event organizers knew that he didn’t agree with them, but invited him because they knew that if he came with his disciples, more people would attend their program. And that is what happened. The general public who came to the programs weren’t really that interested in hearing dry Mayavadis’ speak nonsense. They really came to see Srila Prabhupada and the devotees and to join in the kirtan. “These Mayavadis will go on speculating for many lifetimes and never come to any conclusion,” Prabhupada said. Just then, Malati dasi brought a plate of maha-prasada from Prabhupada’s small Radha-Krishna Deities. “They will go on speculating for many lifetimes,”—he popped a maha sweet in his mouth—“but we will realize God simply by eating.”
So, the devotees would do kirtan first, and thousands of people would stream into the grounds. And then, when the devotees’ kirtan and their talk was over, the people would leave and there would hardly be anyone left to hear the Mayavadis. The organizers thought to juggle the program and have the devotees perform kirtan later, but when the public figured out what was happening, they started to come late, after the Mayavadis had finished their dry, speculative, and imagined interpretations.
ara dina mahaprabhu tanra thani aila
sustha hao, haridasa-bali’ tanre puchila
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.”
If one cannot complete the fixed number of rounds he is assigned, he should be considered to be in a diseased condition of spiritual life. Srila Haridasa Thakura is called namacarya. Of course, we cannot imitate Haridasa Thakura, but everyone must chant a prescribed number of rounds. In our Krsna consciousness movement we have fixed sixteen rounds as the minimum so that the Westerners will not feel burdened. These sixteen rounds must be chanted, and chanted loudly, so one can hear himself and others.
In Lord Chaitanya’s instructions to Sanatana Gosvami He quotes the basic principle of vaidhi-sadhana-bhakti, to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. He quotes from the Padma Purana that all other injunctions and prohibitions are servants of these two: to always remember Krishna and never forget Him.
smartavyah satatam visnur
vismartavyo na jatucit
sarve vidhi-nisedhah syur
etayor eva kinkarah
“Lord Visnu [Krsna is the origin of Visnu] should always be remembered and never forgotten at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the sastras should be the servants of these two principles.”
In his purport Srila Prabhupada explains that although the members of the Krishna consciousness movement have many activities and these activities are not ordinary—they are also meant for remembering Krishna—still, unless we chant our prescribed number of sixteen rounds daily, we will be unable to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. And then he states, “Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master’s order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential.”
“There are many regulative principles in the sastras and directions given by the spiritual master,” Prabhupada writes. “These regulative principles should act as servants of the basic principle—that is, one should always remember Krsna and never forget Him. This is possible when one chants the Hare Krsna mantra. Therefore one must strictly chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra twenty-four hours daily. One may have other duties to perform under the direction of the spiritual master, but he must first abide by the spiritual master’s order to chant a certain number of rounds. In our Krsna consciousness movement, we have recommended that the neophyte chant at least sixteen rounds. This chanting of sixteen rounds is absolutely necessary if one wants to remember Krsna and not forget Him. Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master’s order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential.
“One may sell books or enlist life members or render some other service, but these duties are not ordinary duties. These duties serve as an impetus for remembering Krsna. When one goes with a sankirtana party or sells books, he naturally remembers that he is going to sell Krsna’s books. In this way, he is remembering Krsna. When one goes to enlist a life member, he talks about Krsna and thereby remembers Him. Smartavyah satatam visnur vismartavyo na jatucit. The conclusion is that one must act in such a way that he will always remember Krsna, and one must refrain from doing things that make him forget Krsna. These two principles form the basic background of Krsna consciousness.” (Cc Madhya 22.113)
“These sixteen rounds must be chanted, and chanted loudly,” Prabhupada writes, “so that one can hear himself and others.” Generally, japa is taken as an individual practice, which it is, but it’s also a group activity. When we chant together, there is more strength in the effort, more encouragement. Everyone is gathered together for the same purpose, for the same intention, and sometimes it is good to have other people listen to our chanting to make sure that we are pronouncing each word properly. It is very important to articulate each word, each syllable, properly and to try to hear each word and each syllable. So, the association of devotees is very important, and it is a great boon to live in a temple community or near a temple where one can join the programs with other devotees and chant with them.
prabhu kahe,—“vrddha ha-ila ‘sankhya’ alpa kara
siddha-deha tumi, sadhane agraha kene kara?
“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.
Unless one comes to the platform of spontaneous love of God, he must follow the regulative principles. Thakura Haridasa was the living example of how to follow the regulative principles. Similarly, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was also such a living example. In the Sad-gosvamy-astaka it is stated, sankhya-purvaka-nama-gana-natibhih kalavasani-krtau. The Gosvamis, especially Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, strictly followed all the regulative principles. The first regulative principle is that one must chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra loudly enough so that he can hear himself, and one must vow to chant a fixed number of rounds. Not only was Raghunatha dasa Gosvami chanting a fixed number of rounds, but he had also taken a vow to bow down many times and offer obeisances to the Lord.
This strict adherence to the regulative principles of Haridasa Thakura and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami are exemplary. It is said that Raghunatha dasa Gosvami’s adherence to his vows were like lines on stone—they could not be erased, and it could not be removed.
We also have examples within our own movement. In one that comes to mind, His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Swami’s body was so racked with pain in the end that it was almost impossible for him to sleep. And if he did happen to fall asleep, just by remaining in one place, because he had hardly any flesh on his body, the pressure of his body on his skin and then the pain from the cancer which was already there would wake him up. He could hardly sleep at all.
So, one night at about one in the morning, Bhakti Tirtha Swami was chanting and Radhanath Swami, who was keeping him company, said to him, “Maharaja, why are you up at one in the morning, two in the morning, chanting?” Bhakti Tirtha Swami replied, “I haven’t completed my rounds.” And Radhanath Swami said, “But Maharaja, you can hardly sleep, your body is in so much pain. Krishna will understand if you don’t finish your rounds at this stage of your life.” And Bhakti Tirtha Swami replied, “Since the day of my initiation, I have always chanted at least sixteen rounds. I don’t want to stop now.” When Radhanath Swami later told the story, he looked at us, looked at the devotees, and said, “So what excuse can we have?”
loka nistarite ei tomara ‘avatara’
namera mahima loke karila pracara
“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.”
Haridasa Thakura is known as namacarya because it is he who preached the glories of chanting hari-nama, the holy name of God. 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.
We read in Srimad-Bhagavatam how Lord Brahma became illusioned. Krishna, his master, had appeared as a cowherd boy in Vraja, and was playing just like an ordinary child. So Lord Brahma had some doubt, “My Master, Lord Vishnu, has come as a cowherd boy and is playing as an ordinary child? How is this possible?” So he came—Lord Brahma descended from Brahmaloka (Satyaloka)—and stole away the cowherd boys and calves, and in the end he realized his mistake. He used his mystic power to test Krishna, but Krishna’s mystic power far exceeded Lord Brahma’s and Lord Brahma was defeated.
So, afterwards Lord Brahma felt very contrite and repentant. Of course, he offered many nice prayers to Lord Krishna, but still he prayed for such an experience that he would never forget Krishna again. And so in response to Lord Brahma’s heartfelt prayer, he appeared as Haridasa Thakura in Lord Chaitanya’s pastimes, and as Haridasa Thakura he had such experiences that he could never forget Krishna.
So, that is a nice prayer. That is our goal: to always remember Krishna and never forget Him. And we can pray to be put in such a situation that we remember Krishna and have such experiences that we will never forget Krishna at any time.
ebe alpa sankhya kari’ kara sankirtana”
haridasa kahe,—“suna mora satya nivedana
The Lord concluded, “Now, therefore, please reduce the fixed number of times you chant the Hare Krsna 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 the Vaikuntha platform.
“My dear Lord, 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.
“My dear Lord, 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.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in his Anubhasya, quotes from the Visnu-smrti in reference to the sraddha-patra.
brahmanapasada hy ete kathitah pankti-dusakah
etan vivarjayed yatnat sraddha-karmani panditah
According to this verse, if one is born in a brahmana family but does not behave according to brahminical standards, he should not be offered the sraddha-patra, which is prasada offered to the forefathers. Advaita Acarya offered the sraddha-patra to Haridasa Thakura, not to a brahmana who had been born in a brahmana family. Although Haridasa Thakura was born in the family of meat-eaters, because he was an advanced devotee he was shown more respect than a first-class brahmana.
It is a fact that a Vaishnava, a transcendental Vaishnava, is higher than a brahman, but because people can misunderstand the position of a Vaishnava, although there is no need to do so, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura introduced the system of awarding the sacred thread and brahminical initiation to those born in nonbrahman families, so that people would understand that they are brahmans and afford them the proper respect. Srila Prabhupada continued the same practice.
Haridasa Thakura continued:
“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 Krsna 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, Krsna 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 Krsna 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 Krsna 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 “Krsna.” 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.
There’s an elaborate description of the entire funeral ceremony. After placing Haridasa Thakura’s body in samadhi, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the other devotees took bath in the ocean and enjoyed sporting there.
Then they came out and went to the Jagannatha temple to the Simha-dvara, and the vibration of the holy names filled the city. Then Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu personally begged maha-prasada from the shopkeepers to feed the devotees. Lord Chaitanya made the devotees sit down in rows, and He personally served the prasada to them all.
Now I will read the benediction that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has offered to all of us.
premavista hana prabhu karena vara-dana
suni’ bhakta-ganera judaya manas-kama
Overwhelmed with ecstatic love, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu offered a benediction to all the devotees, which all the devotees heard with great satisfaction.
“haridasera vijayotsava ye kaila darsana
ye ihan nrtya kaila, ye kaila kirtana
ye tanre valuka dite karila gamana
tara madhye mahotsave ye kaila bhojana
acire ha-ibe ta-sabara ‘krsna-prapti’
haridasa-darasane haya aiche ‘sakti’
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 the festivities to partake of the prasada will achieve the favor of Krsna very soon. There is such wonderful power in seeing Haridasa Thakura.
“Being merciful upon Me, Krsna 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.
The Bengali is: ‘jaya jaya haridasa’ bali’: say, “Jaya jaya Haridasa.”
Everyone began to chant “Jaya Jaya Haridasa! Jaya Jaya Haridasa! Jaya Jaya Haridasa! Jaya Jaya Haridasa!”
“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.
Srila Prabhupada said that when a Vaishnava departs, we feel both happiness and distress. We feel happy because we know the devotee is gone to serve Krishna, but we feel distress because we will miss the devotee’s association.
ei ta’ kahilun haridasera vijaya
yahara sravane krsne drdha-bhakti haya
Now here is your benediction.
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 Krsna.
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 (that’s this date today) there is a festival to commemorate the passing away of Haridasa Thakura. At the same place, Deities of Nityananda Prabhu, Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, 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 the Bhakti-kuti. In the Bengali year 1329 (A.D. 1922), the Purusottama-matha, a branch of the Gaudiya Matha, was established there.
There is a very confidential story. I thought of it yesterday on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s appearance day, but I did not relate it, but on this auspicious occasion I will. It has deep significance, but it is not an example that is meant for us at this stage.
After Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura worked so tirelessly to preach the message of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, especially in Bengal and Orissa, and after he was so successful in spreading the nama-hatta, he found that some deviant groups that he had worked so hard to distinguish from the true line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had again became prominent and people were going to them. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura became despondent. He was disappointed and didn’t know what to do.
So, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in a dream. This is also a little confidential because the report of it was published in Srila Bhaktivinoda’s journal, but those close to Srila Bhaktivinoda said that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu actually appeared before him—not just in a dream. But Bhaktivinoda Thakura, humbly not wanting to make it sound cheap, said that Sri Chaitanya had appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Do not feel discouraged. Go to Jagannatha Puri, Purusottama-ksetra, and establish a bhajana-kutira near the samadhi of Haridasa Thakura and chant the holy name day and night. The beneficial effects of your chanting there will be felt all over the world.”
So, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura obeyed the instruction and constructed Bhakti-kuti near the samadhi of Haridasa Thakura and chanted the holy name. According to the statement of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, we have benefitted from Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s chanting near the tomb of Haridasa Thakura.
In the Bhakti-ratnakara it is stated:
srinivasa sighra samudrera kule gela
haridasa-thakurera samadhi dekhila
bhumite padiya kaila pranati vistara
srinivase sthira kaila sasneha-vacane
punah srinivasa sri-samadhi pranamiya
ye vilapa kaila, ta sunile drave hiya
“Srinivasa Thakura quickly ran to the seashore. When he saw the tomb of Haridasa Thakura, he immediately fell down offering prayers and almost fainted. The devotees present there pacified him with very sweet and affectionate words, and Srinivasa again offered his obeisances to the tomb. Hearing of the separation that Srinivasa expressed in his lamentation at the tomb of Haridasa Thakura makes one’s heart melt.”
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.
When Haridasa Thakura was in the last stage of his life, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave him His company and allowed him to touch Him. Thereafter, He took the body of Thakura Haridasa on His lap and personally danced with it.
Out of His causeless mercy the Lord personally covered the body of Haridasa Thakura with sand and personally begged alms from the shopkeepers. Then He conducted a great festival to celebrate the passing away of Haridasa Thakura.
Haridasa Thakura was not only the topmost devotee of the Lord but also a great and learned scholar. It was his great fortune that he passed away before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The life and characteristics of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are exactly like an ocean of nectar, one drop of which can please the mind and ear.
Anyone who desires to cross over the ocean of nescience, please hear with great faith the life and characteristics of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Praying at the lotus feet of Sri Rupa and Sri Raghunatha, always desiring their mercy, I, Krsnadasa, narrate Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, following in their footsteps.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Eleventh Chapter, describing the passing of Haridasa Thakura.
Namacharya Srila Haridasa Thakura ki jaya!
[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Haridasa Thakura’s disappearance day, September 1, 2009, New Dvaraka, Los Angeles]