After Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had accepted His sannyasa, and shifted to Jagannatha Puri, Srila Haridas Thakur followed Him as well. Despite being a stalwart Vaishnava, Srila Haridas had always considered himself to be low-born and exceedingly abominable. Hence, out of his sheer humility, he never entered the premises of the Jagannatha Puri temple. At Puri, Lord Chaitanya had arranged a place for Haridas’s stay, positioned just behind His own residence at Gambhira. The residence of Srila Haridas is renowned today as ‘Siddha Bakula’ (Siddha means perfect). The sacred place has derived its name from a Bakula tree that grows over here. This fortunate tree is over 500 years old and it used to provide its cooling shade under which the Thakur chanted his rounds peacefully. Lord Chaitanya had personally planted a used tooth-stick of Lord Jagannatha into the ground at this place, which immediately grew up and blossomed into this Siddha Bakul tree. To this day, anyone visiting this place can take darsana of this sacred Bakula tree. The tree looks like it has exploded or it appears to be completely dead. The tree has no marrows but only survives through its skin. Yet it is wonderfully thriving with lush green leaves and fragrant flowers.
Srila Haridas used to chant three lakh holy names daily sitting under Siddha Bakula. He used to see the chakra at the top of the Jagannatha temple from here and offer his obeisances from a distance. Lord Chaitanya used to meet Haridas everyday over here and discuss with him the deep secrets of the science of devotion. Mahaprabhu used to also arrange for Lord Jagannatha’s Mahaprasadam to be delivered to Haridas Thakur everyday. It was here at Siddha Bakul that Haridas Thakur breathed his last and entered the eternal pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Haridas 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, Haridas left his body, entering the eternal abode of the Supreme Lord.
It is said that once the King had ordered to cut down the Siddha Bakul tree to construct Lord Jagannath’s Rathayatra cart. The next day the royal officers found the tree to have turned hollow from within. The main branch of the tree appeared petrified. Realizing its exalted nature, the King refrained from cutting it. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has presently taken over the temple for its preservation and conservation.
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.
What to See at Siddha Bakul :
- Siddha Bakul tree
- A small deity of Haridas Thakur is worshiped adjacent to the Siddha Bakul tree.
- The deities of Sadbhuja Gauranga (six-armed Gauranga), Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Acharya, Jagannath deva and Lord Nrsimha are worshiped inside the temple altars.
- The walls of the temple are carved with pastimes of Lord Chaitanya in Jagannath Puri.
How to Reach :
Srila Haridas Thakura’s bhajan Kutir (Siddha Bakul) is located on the Bali sahi Road. It is not very far from Gambhira, the erstwhile residence of Lord Chaitanya in Puri. Siddha Bakul is about a Kilometer from the Jagannath temple and about 3 Kms from the Jagannath Puri Railway station. The site is famous as ‘Siddha Bakul’ and one can avail cabs to reach here directly.
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.