Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura is an eternal associate of Lord Nityananda. He is one of the most prominent of the twelve cowherd boys (Dvadasha Gopala) who had assisted Lord Nitai manifest His magnanimous pastimes.Sri Gaura Ganoddesha Dipika reveals that Sri Uddharana Datta was the incarnation of Subahu, the intimate friend of Krishna and Balarama in vrindavana. Nityananda Prabhu, was his very life and soul and he had served his master in all possible ways.Prema Vilasa reveals that Lord Nitai used to relish the prasada cooked by Uddharana Datta. Not only He but even Sri Gaurahari enjoyed his cooking a lot. Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja reveals that Sri Uddharana datta Thakura was the foremost of the Maha Bhagavata devotees who completely engaged his mind,body and words in serving Nityananda Prabhu, his eternal Gurudeva.
Maha bhagavata sreshtha datta Uddharana
Sarba bhave seve Nityanandera carana
(caitanya caritamrta, Adi, 11.41)
Srila Prabhupada mentions in his purport, that Sri Uddharana Datta was born with the right to worship Sri Nityananda Prabhu.Sri Uddharana belonged to the caste of suvarna baniks (gold merchants) who were looked down upon in the society, in those days.Lord Nitai however stayed in Saptagram,at the house of Sri Uddharana Datta, for many months, and by His grace and association ,all the suvarna baniks (gold mercantile community) regained their stature. Sri Caitanya Bhagavata also glorifies the ecstatic pastimes that patita pavana Lord Nitai had manifested here at Saptagram in order to deliver the members these so called outcastes.
yateka banik kula Uddharana haite
pavitra haila dvidha nahika ihate
Surrendering his life unto the lotus feet of his spiritual master, Sri Uddharana , who had hailed from a very opulent gold mercantile family,subsequently renounced his wealth, fame ,prestige and accepted the robes of a mendicant to further the cause of Krishna consciousness.Being Nityananda Prabhu’s personal cook, Sri Uddharana received the rare fortune of accompanying the Lord wherever He travelled.
Srila Prabhupada traces back his own family lineage to this gold mercantile community in Saptagram. He mentions how the Britishers had established Calcutta, taking the financial help and assistance of these suvarna baniks (Gold merchants).These businessmen had later come down from their ancestral homes in Adi-saptagram, to set up their businesses in Calcutta. The Bengalis with the title De ,Sil or Mullick actually belong to this same family lineage and hence share the same gotra (Srila Prabhupada’s earlier name was ‘Abhaya Carana De’). The title ‘Mullick’ was later awarded by the Muslim rulers,to those in this mercantile community who intimately associated and conducted business with them.But despite the different surnames, all these family members share a common ancestral root.
Sri Uddharana Pura (also spelt as ‘Uddharanpur’):
Like Adisaptagram, Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura, had another of his homes here at Sri Uddharana pura, which is located near katwa, in the Barddhaman district of West Bengal. As we can make out, this place has been named after him. In the article entitled ‘Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura Sripat, Adisaptagram (Near bandel)’ , we have narrated in detail the heart melting pastimes that he and Lord Nitai have manifested at Saptagram. In this article, however, we shall try to narrate some of the soul touching pastimes to have taken place here at Uddharana Pura. Our beloved Thakura had stayed and preached over here for many years.He used to worship his Gaura Nitai deities at this place.However unlike his deities at Saptagram,where Mahaprabhu manifests a six handed form, the deities he worshipped over here depicts Lord Gaurahari in His blissful two handed form. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ considers itself very fortunate to have been able to visit and pray at Uddharana Pura. The altar where the deities were once worshipped and the old temple kitchen continues to exist till this day. However, the deities are no longer present over here and they have been shifted to the nearby Sonarundi palace.We learnt from the local devotees that his worshipable deities are brought over here every year, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti (a holy day in the month of January), following which a grand festival is held. Devotees from far off places converge to participate in this holy event. After staying here for a few days, and showering their causeless mercy upon all, these deities return to the Sonarundi palace.
The full body samadhi of our beloved Uddharana Datta Thakura also rests over here at Uddharana Pura. Surrounding his samadhi stands a tall Krishnachura tree (Delonix regia) that provides its cooling shade for our Thakura to rest. The beautiful mesmerizing red flowers ,that fall upon and decorate the samadhi, are as if its offerings unto the lotus feet of this stalwart vaishnava.
What to See:
- The full samadhi temple of Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura is located here. Srila Uddharana Datta Thakura wrapped up his earthly pastimes in the month of November-December in the year 1541 AD.
- The temple hall where the Gaura Nitai deities were once worshipped
- The kitchen where Sri Uddharana Thakura used to cook bhoga for the lord.
- If one visits this place on Makara sankranti, one would get the rare opportunity to participate in this grand festival that occurs here every year.One would also be able to take darsana of Sri Uddharana’s beautiful deities.
The pastimes at Shakhai bazaar :
Being empowered by his spiritual master (Lord Nitai), Sri Uddharana shaved off his head and dedicated himself completely in the service of the Lord.Abandoning his opulence, he accepted the robes of renunciant.Staying here at Uddharana pura, he used to perform his bhajana and preach the unending glories of the Lord. He was instrumental in the construction of several temples all over Katwa, which served as centers of practicing Krishna consciousness. His beautiful Pushpa Samadhi is also preserved at a place called Sakhi akhra, which is not very far from Uddharana Pura. ‘Sakhi Akhra’ had been the residence of Madhu Pramanick, the barber who had shaved the hairs of Mahaprabhu during His sannyasa initiation. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ has covered our visit to ‘Sakhi Akhra’ in the article entitled – ‘Sakhi Akhra and Madhai Tala ,Katwa’.We consider ourselves exceedingly foolish to try to narrate the vast endless glories of Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura, an intimate associate who eternally assists the Lord manifest His magnanimous pastimes.
Here at Shakhai bazaar, situated on the bank of mother Ganges, we observed a very nice marketplace, where all the necessary paraphernalia to worship her was being sold. Shakhai Bazaar is hardly a ten minutes walk from the samadhi temple at Uddhara Pura. We noticed that the people over here are very devoted to mother Ganga and worship here devoutly. They worship her as a married woman and hence offer her Shakha and Pala (white and red bangles generally worn by a married lady in Bengal). We also followed the local devotees in worshipping our beloved mother.
Inquiring from the local people, ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ came to know of a very heart touching pastimes that had occurred over here 500 years ago, the sweet memories of which resound till this day.It is said that once, on a beautiful moonlit night, a salesman who used to sell shakha (conch shell bangles worn by married women in bengal) was walking upon the bank of the Ganges. Just as he was crossing Shakhai bazaar, a charming lady approached him, and requested him to sell her a pair of his shakhas. The lady expressed that she didn’t have the required money but her father, Sri Uddharana Datta, who resided nearby, would pay for it. The salesman was amazed to behold the charming effulgence of the lady and feeling very compassionate handed over the shakhas to her.
The lady then provided him the directions to reach her home. She told him to hurry up, as Uddharana would soon be leaving to preach. The man then inquired as to how he could convince Uddharana that he had indeed sold the shakhas to his daughter, as he might think that he was lying. The lady then revealed that there were 5 gold coins kept within the western cabinet of the eastern room in her house. She requested the salesman to furnish this information to Uddharana datta, which would be sufficient to establish the authenticity of the man’s claim.Accordingly, the man reached the house and related to Uddharana the entire incident. Sri Uddharana Datta Thakura fell from the sky as he had no daughter in the first place.The salesman then informed him about the five gold coins that the lady had told him about. Sri Uddharana Datta indeed discovered these coins at the designated place. Sri Uddharana Thakura was greatly surprised by the turn of events, and out of curiosity requested the salesman to take him to the lady, who had claimed to be his daughter. When the two arrived at the bank of the river here at shakhai bazaar, the lady was nowhere to be found.
Sri Uddharana Datta then chastised the salesman, thinking him to be lying. The salesman began crying and prayed to the lady to kindly show up as he wanted to prove his innocence. Then something very wonderful took place. While the man was weeping, two effulgent golden hands appeared from the middle of the Ganges, and in them were clearly visible the pair of the beautiful white shakhas that the man had sold to the lady. Those hands belonged to none other than ‘tribhuvana-tarini’ mother Ganga.
Seeing this, both of them were filled with great wonder. Tears filled the eyes of Sri Uddharana Datta, who couldn’t believe how fortunate he was .Mother Ganga herself had claimed to be his daughter. The stature of Sri Uddharana Datta is such that the bestower of love, Sri Ganga devi ,who had emanated from the lotus feet of the lord, had identified herself as his dear daughter.In a state of bliss, Sri Uddharana greatly glorified the salesman who had all the good fortune ,to be able to make mother Ganga wear shakhas in her wrist. Sri Uddharana now wanted to pay the salesman with those 5 gold coins.The salesman cried piteously and humbly rejected the money. He claimed that he instead was the most unfortunate, as he couldn’t recognize his beloved mother, while she had stood and conversed with him.How could he not recognise his worshipable mother, he thought.In a state of utter ecstasy, both of them embraced each other and wept bitterly.The bank of shakhai bazaar thus became renowned and the devotees gather here till this day,to offer shakha,pala to mother Ganga and contemplate upon this heart rending pastime.
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 Uddharana pura. 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 Nityananda prabhu, Sri Uddharana Dutta and mother Ganges that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto their lotus feet 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.
‘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.
How to Reach:
You can take a train from Howrah/sealdah station in kolkata ,to directly reach the Katwa junction.On reaching katwa, you need to cross over the Ganges to reach Sri Uddharana pura. It is hardly a half an hour journey from the Katwa junction.
We, from ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ ,had visited Uddharana Pura during our stay at Katwa. It was here in this holy land of Katwa that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had accepted His sannyasa initiation from Keshava Bharati 500 years back, and is thus an exalted pilgrimage destination for all the Gaudiya Vaishnavas.This place was initially known as ‘Kantaka Nagara’,from which the name ‘Katwa’ had later evolved. The transcendental land of Katwa is a witness to several intimate reciprocations between Sri Gaurasundara, the Supreme Lord, and His beloved associates.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay at Hotel Srabani in Katwa which is owned and governed by the local municipality.Uddharana pura and Katwa are quite near to each other. Or else, Navadvipa is hardly an hour and a half ride from Uddharana Pura. So the devotees can also choose to stay at Navadvipa / Mayapur and then travel to take darsana of this exalted dham.
If one stays in Katwa, one can avail prasadam at the ‘Gauranga Bari temple’. Else if one stays in Navadvipa, then he/she can honor prasadam at Iskcon Mayapur or any of the Gaudiya Mathas.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Katwa 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)