Sri Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami greatly glorifies Sri Jharu thakura and another devotee, Sri Kalidasa Roy, in the Antya Lila of his Caitanya Charitamrita. Reading the sixteenth chapter of Antya Lila ,we come to understand that how truly the birth and the caste of a devotee are completely irrelevant when it comes to one’s devotional life.Sri Jharu Thakura ,a shudra by birth ,a sweeper by caste (bhuimali jati) , lived in the village of Bhedo in the Hooghly district of bengal. The place is very near to the present day Bandel station. Sri Jharu Thakura was an elevated vaishnava and lived his life in complete surrenderance at the lotus feet of the Lord.Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s immortal instructions – ‘kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya, yei Krishna-tattva-vetta, sei guru haya’ are as if illustrated through the life and the glorious pastimes of Sri Jharu Thakura.
In the same village resided, another elevated devotee, named Kalidasa Roy, who happened to be a distant uncle of Srila Raghunatha Das Goswami. The fact that Krishnadas Kaviraj mentions about them in Sri Caitanya Charitamrita, makes us assume that both of them were contemporaries of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.Kalidasa was a Kayastha by caste and always chanted the holy names of Krishna.Sri Kalidasa ,throughout his life ,had always hankered to eat the prasada remnants left behind by the exalted vaishnavas and by mercy of Lord Caitanya,he could indeed manage to eat the remnants of all the vaishnavas residing in Bengal.
Gauda deshe haya yata vaishnavera gana
sabara ucchistha tenho karila bhojana
Sri Kavi Karnapura reveals in Gaura Ganoddesha Dipika that Malli devi ,the daughter of a pulinda (tribal girl) , who eternally serves in Vrindavana ,had appeared as Sri Kalidasa in Mahaprabhu’s pastimes.
Kalidasa visits Jharu Thakura :
There is a wonderful pastime described in Sri Caitanya Charitamrita, revealing how Sri Kalidasa had once arrived at the residence of Sri Jharu Thakura with the objective of receiving his prasada remnants. Sri Kalidasa had brought mangoes with him, which he gifted to Sri Jharu Thakura.
Sri Jharu Thakura happily accepted them and humbly asked Sri Kalidasa as to how he might serve him.Sri Jharu Thakura also requested Kalidasa to accept lunch at his home.Since he belonged to a low caste, Sri Jharu Thakura proposed that he would arrange to have the food cooked and served at a brahmin’s house instead.
But Jharu Thakura, considering himself to be a lowborn and a non-devotee turned down Kalidasa’s request. He didn’t want to place his feet upon Kalidasa’s head despite his repeated requests.After exchanging pleasantries, Sri Kalidasa bade Jharu Thakura farewell and then walked out of his house. Sri Jharu Thakura, followed Kalidasa for some distance to see him off. Once Sri Jharu Thakura had left, Sri Kalidasa , retraced the path, and smeared the residual dust from Jharu Thakura’s lotus footprints all over his body. Sri Kalidasa then hid himself at a place near Sri Jharu’s house and eagerly waited for him to eat the mango that he had earlier gifted him.
Sri Jharu Thakura, offered those mangoes to Krishna, and subsequently ate them along with his wife. After they had finished, his wife collected the remnants and disposed them off into a ditch, outside their house. When she had gone, Kalidasa approached the ditch, and upon fetching the mango seeds and the mango skins ,began feeding upon them in ecstasy (sei khola, anthi, chokhla chuse kalidasa,chusite chusite haya premete ullasha).
In this way Sri Kalidasa enjoyed eating the remnants of the devotees and by Mahaprabhu’s mercy he actually managed to honor the prasada remnants of all the Vaishnavas residing in Bengal.His faith and devotion towards the devotees’ remnants greatly pleased Lord Caitanya who granted Sri Kalidasa a boon that He had imparted unto no one before. Mahaprabhu allowed Kalidasa to drink His Charanamrita and that too three times. It was only when Kalidasa wanted to drink even more that the Lord forbade him.On another occasion at Jagannatha Puri, Lord Caitanya allowed Sri Kalidasa to access and honor His own Prasada remnants, obtaining which ,was exceedingly rare. Our Kalidasa was so fortunate.
Infact, Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja confirms in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta that the dust of the devotees’ lotus feet, the sacred water that washes their lotus feet and the remnants of their food are the three very powerful substances, serving and honoring which ,one is awarded with the supreme benediction of ecstatic love for Sri Krishna.
Bhakta pada dhuli ara bhakta pada jol
Bhakta bhukta avasesha – tina mahabol
ei tina seva haite Krishna-prema haya
punah punah sarva-shastre ,phukariya kaya
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Antya, 16.60-61)
The team, from ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to have been able to visit Sri Jharu Thakura’s sripat, and seek his and Sri Kalidasa’s blessings. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has been striving to seek shelter of such great personalities throughout its spiritual journey. It is only with this objective of receiving their mercy and sharing it with others, that we have set out from our homes, trying to reveal to the world the mood and esoteric pastimes of these great men.The life and teachings, of these stalwarts inspire us to imbibe the same values and principles in our own lives and we pray that they mercifully bless us, so that we may forever contemplate upon their blissful pastimes.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this exalted abode of Bhedua. We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to Sri Jharu Thakura and Sri Kalidasa that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek their blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
What to see:
Lord Caitanya’s eternal associates ,Sri Jharu Thakura and Kalidasa Roy used to reside here at the Bhedo village five hundred years ago, and we can make our lives successful by smearing our bodies with dust of this place. There is a beautiful temple built here today, where once Sri Jharu Thakura used to reside. His worshipable Sri Sri Radha Madana Gopala Jiu still accepts our humble service here at this temple. The hairs on our body stood at their ends beholding the ancient,beautiful and enchanting worshipable deities of nitya siddha Sri Jharu Thakura. The whole compound surrounding the temple is owned by Sri Madana Gopala and just behind the temple rests the samadhi tomb of Sri Jharu Thakura. A portion of the samadhi tomb is encircled with iron grills and it is said that Sri Jharu Thakura used to chant his rounds over here.We observed an inscription on the temple walls stating that ‘Bhaktivedanta Swami charity trust’ had also donated a handsome sum of laxmi here to sponsor the construction of the temple kitchen.
‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ is thankful to Mr Sambhunath Pakre, the local devotee who serves here, for narrating to us the history of this place and taking us around the temple compounds. We pray to Sri Madana Gopala that He always keeps us in His shelter and protects our consciousness from the alluring tricks of Maya.
How to Reach:
This place is very near to the Bandel station and one can book a cab from Bandel to reach here. It should not take more than 30 minutes to reach here from bandel. The place is locally renowned as Bhodo Dol Bari. We travelled to this place after visiting the Sripat of Raghunatha Das Goswami and the journey took around 20 minutes by car. A nearby landmark to this place would be ‘Kajidanga Mor’, which is a small crossing in the locality.
If one is coming from Akna, then one can first reach ‘Panchrukhi chowmatha mor’ and then enquire from the locals about Bhedo dol Bari.
The roads are generally in a very bad shape and we had to travel through narrow half cooked lanes to reach here.However, it is also one of the primary reasons , why this place is still so serene, and almost outside the influence of the surrounding very busy material world.Life here is still very simple, with people being very honest,and still living in joint families sharing and caring for each other.They generally use cycle as the prime means of transport.The simplicity and the beauty of the surroundings adds to the charm of this highly exalted destination.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay in any of the prominent hotels near Bandel like hotel aquatic palace (on Kalyani Expressway), etc. Sri Jharu Thakura’s sripat is hardly a 30 minutes ride from there. The devotees need to contact the temple authorities to avail their prasadam.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Bandel Junction
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)