About 500 years ago, namacharya Srila Haridas Thakur breathed his last and wrapped up his earthly pastimes at Siddha Bakul in Jagannath Puri. He yearned to pass away while beholding the moonlike face of Lord Gauranga. Lord Gauranga, the Supreme Lord, granted the wish of Haridas, His beloved servant. Holding the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya upon his heart and drinking the nectar of the Lord’s moon-like face, Haridas incessantly chanted the holy name of Sri Krishna Chaitanya in ecstasy. While chanting thus, he left his body, entering the eternal abode of the Supreme Lord. Witnessing the wonderful passing away of Haridas, everyone remembered the passing away of Bhishma on the battlefield of Kurukshetra who also left his body at will. Raising the body of Haridas Thakur with His own hands, Lord Chaitanya began dancing in divine ecstasy. There was a tumultuous roar and all the devotees joined in the Harinama sankirtana. The Vaishnavas are never too morose when a fellow devotee passes away. They realize that the devotee who had passed away must have achieved the Supreme spiritual destination and reunited with his beloved Lord. Besides, it is of no use crying over a dead body when the soul has already left it. The knowledge of matter, spirit, and the controller of both (Supreme Lord) is the key to interpreting the emotions and actions of a Vaishnava.
Chanting and dancing, Lord Chaitanya led a procession carrying the body of Haridas to the sea. Mahaprabhu bathed the body of Haridas Thakura and then proclaimed that the sea had become a great site of pilgrimage from then on as it touched the transcendental body of Haridas.
haridase samudra jale snana karaila
prabhu kahe – “samudra ei ‘maha-tirtha’ haila”
(Chaitanya Charitamrta, Antya, 11.64)
All the assembled devotees drank the seawater and touched the lotus feet of Srila Haridas Thakura. Thereafter, a hole was dug in the sand and the transcendental body of Haridas Thakur was placed into it. Amidst loud sankirtana, silken ropes, sandalwood pulp, food, and cloth were placed upon the body. Lord Chaitanya personally covered the body of Haridas with sand. The devotees assisted the Lord and constructed a raised platform on the site. The platform was then enclosed by a fence to give protection. This samadhi of Haridas Thakur is a prominent place for pilgrimage for devotees all over the world even to this day. A temple has since been constructed on the site which houses and protects the samadhi.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then spread His cloth, and begged alms from all the shopkeepers, in order to arrange a festival honoring the passing away of Haridas Thakura. Later a grand feast was held in which Lord Gauranga served prasadam to all the devotees and made them eat till their neck. The Supreme Lord then remarked that Srila Haridas was the crest jewel adorning the crown of this world and without him, the world was now bereft of its valuable Gem.
Haridas achila prthibira shiromani
taha bina ratna sunya haila medini
(Caitanya caritamrta, Antya, 11.97)
Who is Srila Haridas Thakur ?
Lord Brahma, Prahlada Maharaja, and Richika Muni’s son Mahatapa had combinedly incarnated as Haridas Thakur. Srila Haridas Thakur is the namacharya of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya and is an eternal associate of Sri Chiatanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Haridas Thakur had accompanied Lord Chaitanya in most of His magnanimous pastimes. He was an empowered incarnation of the Supreme Lord who had appeared just to set an example for all of us to follow. He had delivered innumerable suffering souls by bestowing upon them the nectar of the holy name. Though being born in a family of Muslims, Haridas Thakur widely propagated the chanting of Krishna’s holy name as the ultimate spiritual practice and preached how the Lord and His holy names are actually non-different from each other. Haridas Thakur teaches us that the holy names of Krishna are non-sectarian and that God is one though we might call upon Him by different names. The relationship between the Lord (supersoul) and the jiva (soul) is eternal and chanting of the ‘Hare Krishna Mahamantra’ is the most effective means to evoke and revive this eternal relationship, especially in this age of Kali. Haridas Thakur used to chant Krishna’s holy names, 300000 times a day, a practice he continued till the very end of his life.
In the ‘Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya’, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur mentions that in Dvapara Yuga, Lord Brahma had stolen the cows, cowherd boys, and calves of Vrindavana to test whether Krishna was indeed the Supreme Lord. On realizing that Krishna was indeed his worshipable Supreme master, Brahma felt embarrassed. As atonement, he then reached Mayapur and began meditating upon the blissful form of Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya became very pleased and understanding the desires of Brahma, granted him the boon that he would become His intimate associate when the Lord would next appear in this material world. However, to ensure that Brahma didn’t become puffed up of his position again, he arranged that Brahma incarnated as Haridas Thakur who was born in a family of Muslims. Being an embodiment of humility and being free from pride, Srila Haridas widely preached the glories of the holy name and brought auspiciousness to all.
Chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna is glorified throughout the Vedic literatures. The Padma Purana states – The holy name of Krishna is transcendentally blissful. It bestows all spiritual benedictions for it is Krishna Himself, the reservoir of all pleasure. Krishna’s name is complete, and it is the form of all transcendental mellows. The holy name of Krishna is not a material name under any condition, and it is no less powerful than Krishna Himself. Since Krishna’s name is not contaminated by the material qualities, there is no question of its being involved with maya. Krishna’s name is always liberated and spiritual.It is never conditioned by the laws of material nature. This is because the name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are identical.
Srila Haridas Thakur, was born in the village of Buron, presently situated within the district of Khulna, in Bangladesh. According to Advaita vilasa, Sri Haridas Thakur was about 35 years elder to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his father’s name was Khan Ullah Kazi. Sri Chaitanya Bhagavata states the following about this great personality –
Buron Gramete avatirna Haridas
Se bhagye se saba deshe kirtana prakash
Katadina thakiya aila Gangatire
Ashiya rahila Phulia Santipur-e
Paiya tahana sanga acharya Gosai
Hunkara karena, anandera anta nai
Translation – Haridas Thakur had appeared in the village of Buron and by his mercy, the nectar of the holy name became revealed in those blessed lands. After staying many days and manifesting numerous pastimes, Srila Haridas shifted to Phulia, a place situated by the Ganges. Sri Advaita Acharya had His residence not very far from here, at Santipur. Receiving the association of Haridas Thakur, Advaita Gosai became overjoyed and roared in ecstasy.
How to Reach the samadhi of Haridas Thakur :
Srila Haridas Thakura’s Samadhi is located on Haridas Math Lane, situated on the oceanfront in the Swargadwar area of Jagannath Puri, opposite to ISKCON temple (Bhakti Kuti). 500 years ago, during the time of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu the place was just a sandy beach. There is a nice temple that is now constructed that houses and protects the samadhi. ‘Haridas Thakur Samadhi temple’ is located about 2 Kms from Jagannath Puri temple, 3 Kms from Puri bus stand and 3.5 Kms from Puri Railway Station.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay in any of the prominent hotels of Jagannath Puri.
Nearest Railway station – Jagannath Puri Railway Station
Nearest major airport – Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar.
At the time of writing this article, there is another airport presently being constructed at Jagannath Puri. However, this airport at Puri has not yet become operational.