14 The glories of namacarya Haridasa Thakura
Haridasa Thakura−the acarya of the holy name:
Sanatana Gosvami replied: "O Haridasa thakura, who is equal to you? You are one of the associates of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Therefore you are the most fortunate. The mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for which He has descended as an incarnation, is to spread the importance of chanting the holy name of the Lord. Now instead of personally doing so, He is spreading it through you. My dear sir, you are chanting the holy name 300,000 times daily and informing everyone of the importance of such chanting. Some behave very well but do not preach the cult of Krsna consciousness, whereas others preach but do not behave properly. You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behavior and by your preaching. Therefore you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world."
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 4.99−103
Although born in a Muhammadan family, Haridasa thakura became a regularly initiated brahmana as well as Namacarya by dint of chanting the holy name:
According to external vision, Haridasa thakura belonged to a Muhammadan family. Nevertheless, because he engaged himself in performing the yajna of chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra, he became a regularly initiated brahmana. As stated in Srimad- Bhagavatam (3.33.6):
yat−prahvanad yat−smaranad api kvacit
svado 'pi sadyah savanaya kalpate
kutah punas te bhagavan nu darsanat
Even if a devotee comes from a family of dog−eaters, if he surrenders to the Personality of Godhead he immediately becomes a qualified brahmana and is immediately fit to perform yajna, whereas a person born in a family of brahmanas has to wait until completing the reformatory processes before he may be called samskrta, purified… A person who is not purified by the prescribed process of samskara is called asamskrta, but if one remains kriya−hina even after being purified by initiation−in other words, if one fails to actually apply the principles of purity in his life−he remains an unpurified mleccha or yavana. On the other hand, we find that Haridasa thakura, although born in a mleccha or yavana family, became Namacarya Haridasa thakura because he performed the nama−yajna a minimum of 300,000 times every day.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.124
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited the glories of the holy name through Haridasa thakura:
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited the glories of the holy name of the Lord through Haridasa thakura, who was born in a Muhammadan family…
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 5.86
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that He understands the glories of the holy name by the mercy of Haridasa thakura:
[Lord Caitanya to Vallabha Bhatta]: "Haridasa thakura, the teacher of the holy name, is among the most exalted of all devotees. Every day he chants 300,000 holy names of the Lord. I have learned about the glories of the Lord's holy name from Haridasa thakura, and by his mercy I have understood these glories."
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 7.48−49
Namacarya Haridasa thakura was the incarnation of Lord Brahma:
[Lord Caitanya to Haridasa thakura]: "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 theSupreme 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 to help in the prosecution of the Lord's mission.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 11.25
Haridasa thakura delivers the prostitute sent by Ramacandra Khan by his chanting of the holy name:
After leaving his home, Haridasa thakura stayed for some time in the forest of Benapola. Haridasa thakura constructed a cottage in a solitary forest. There he planted a tulasi plant, and in front of the tulasi he would chant the holy name of the Lord 300,000 times daily. He chanted throughout the entire day and night. For his bodily maintenance he would go to a brahmana's house and beg some food. He was spiritually so influential that all the neighboring people worshiped him. A landholder named Ramacandra Khan was the zamindar of that district. He was envious of Vaisnavas and was therefore a great atheist. Unable to tolerate that such respect was being offered to Haridasa thakura, Ramacandra Khan planned in various ways to dishonor him. By no means could he find any fault in the character of Haridasa thakura. Therefore he called for local prostitutes and began a plan to discredit His Holiness.
Ramacandra Khan said to the prostitutes, "There is a mendicant named Haridasa thakura. All of you devise a way to deviate him from his vows of austerity."
Among the prostitutes, one attractive young girl was selected. "I shall attract the mind of Haridasa thakura," she promised, "within three days." Ramacandra Khan said to the prostitute, "My constable will go with you so that as soon as he sees you with Haridasa thakura, immediately he will arrest him and bring both of you to me." The prostitute replied, "First let me have union with him once; then the second time I shall take your constable with me to arrest him." At night the prostitute, after dressing herself most attractively, went to the cottage of Haridasa thakura with great jubilation. After offering obeisances to the tulasi plant, she went to the door of Haridasa thakura, offered him obeisances and stood there. Exposing part of her body to his view, she sat down on the threshold of the door and spoke to him in very sweet words. "My dear thakura, O great preacher, great devotee, you are so beautifully built, and your youth is just beginning. Who is the woman who could control her mind after seeing you? I am eager to be united with you. My mind is greedy for this. If I don't obtain you, I shall not be able to keep my body and soul together." Haridasa thakura replied, "I shall accept you without fail, but you will have to wait until I have finished chanting my regular rounds on my beads. Until that time, please sit and listen to the chanting of the holy name. As soon as I am finished, I shall fulfill your desire." Hearing this, the prostitute remained sitting there while Haridasa thakura chanted on his beads until the light of morning appeared. When she saw that it was morning, the prostitute stood up and left. Coming before Ramacandra Khan, she informed him of all the news. "Today Haridasa thakura has promised to enjoy with me. Tomorrow certainly I shall have union with him." The next night, when the prostitute came again, Haridasa thakura gave her many assurances. "Last night you were disappointed. Please excuse my offense. I shall certainly accept you. Please sit down and hear the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra until my regular chanting is finished. Then your desire will surely be fulfilled." After offering her obeisances to the tulasi plant and Haridasa thakura, she sat down at the door. Hearing Haridasa thakura chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, she also chanted, "O my Lord Hari, O my Lord Hari." When the night came to an end, the prostitute was restless. Seeing this, Haridasa thakura spoke to her as follows. "I have vowed to chant ten million names in a month. I have taken this vow, but now it is nearing its end. I thought that today I would be able to finish my performance of yajna, my chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. I tried my best to chant the holy name all night, but I still did not finish.
Tomorrow I will surely finish, and my vow will be fulfilled. Then it will be possible for me to enjoy with you in full freedom." The prostitute returned to Ramacandra Khan and informed him of what had happened. The next day she came earlier, at the beginning of the evening, and stayed with Haridasa thakura. After offering obeisances to the tulasi plant and Haridasa thakura, she sat down on the threshold of the room. Thus she began to hear Haridasa thakura's chanting, and she also personally chanted "Hari, Hari," the holy name of the Lord. "Today it will be possible for me to finish my chanting," Haridasa thakura informed her. "Then I shall satisfy all your desires." The night ended while Haridasa thakura was chanting, but by his association the mind of the prostitute had changed. The prostitute, now purified, fell at the lotus feet of Haridasa thakura and confessed that Ramacandra Khan had appointed her to pollute him. "Because I have taken the profession of a prostitute," she said, "I have performed unlimited sinful acts. My lord, be merciful to me. Deliver my fallen soul." Haridasa thakura replied, "I know everything about the conspiracy of Ramacandra Khan. He is nothing but an ignorant fool. Therefore his activities do not make me feel unhappy. On the very day Ramacandra Khan was planning his intrigue against me, I would have left this place immediately, but because you came to me I stayed here for three days to deliver you." The prostitute said, "Kindly act as my spiritual master.
Instruct me in my duty by which to get relief from material existence." Haridasa thakura replied, "Immediately go home and distribute to the brahmanas whatever property you have. Then come back to this room and stay here forever in Krsna consciousness. Chant the Hare Krsna mantra continuously and render service to the tulasi plant by watering her and offering prayers to her. In this way you will very soon get the opportunity to be sheltered at the lotus feet of Krsna." After thus instructing the prostitute about the process of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, Haridasa thakura stood up and left, continuously chanting "Hari, Hari." Thereafter, the prostitute distributed to the brahmanas whatever household possessions she had, following the order of her spiritual master. The prostitute shaved her head clean in accordance with Vaisnava principles and stayed in that room wearing only one cloth. Following in the footsteps of her spiritual master, she began chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra 300,000 times a day. She chanted throughout the entire day and night.
She worshiped the tulasi plant, following in the footsteps of her spiritual master. Instead of eating regularly, she chewed whatever food she received as alms, and if nothing was supplied she would fast. Thus by eating frugally, and fasting she conquered her senses, and as soon as her senses were controlled, symptoms of love of Godhead appeared in her person. Thus the prostitute became a celebrated devotee. She became very advanced in spiritual life, and many stalwart Vaisnavas would come to see her. Seeing the sublime character of the prostitute, everyone was astonished. Everyone glorified the influence of Haridasa thakura and offered him obeisances.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.99−143
Haridasa thakura defeats Maya, in the form of a prostitute, and initiates her in the chanting of the holy name:
There is another incident concerning Haridasa thakura's uncommon behavior. One will be astonished to hear about it. Hear about such incidents without putting forth dry arguments, for these incidents are beyond our material reasoning. One must believe in them with faith. One day Haridasa thakura was sitting in his cave, reciting very loudly the holy name of the Lord. The night was full of moonlight, which made the waves of the Ganges look dazzling. All directions were clear and bright. Thus everyone who saw the beauty of the cave, with the tulasi plant on a clean altar, was astonished ant satisfied at heart. At that time, in that beautiful scene, a woman appeared in the courtyard. The beauty of her body was so bright that it tinged the entire place with a hue of yellow. The scent of her body perfumed all directions, and the tinkling of her ornaments startled the ear. After coming there, the woman offered obeisances to the tulasi plant, and after circumambulating the tulasi plant she came to the door of the cave where Haridasa thakura was sitting. With folded hands she offered obeisances at the lotus feet of Haridasa thakura. Sitting at the door, she then spoke in a very sweet voice. "My dear friend," she said, "you are the friend of the entire world. You are so beautiful and qualified. I have come here only for union with you. My dear sir, kindly accept me and be merciful toward me, for it is a characteristic of all saintly persons to be kind toward the poor and fallen." After saying this, she began to manifest various postures, which even the greatest philosopher would lose his patience upon seeing.
Haridasa thakura was immovable, for he was deeply determined. He began to speak to her, being very merciful toward her. "I have been initiated into a vow to perform a great sacrifice by chanting the holy name a certain number of times every day. As long as the vow to chant is unfulfilled, I do not desire anything else. When I finish my chanting, then I have an opportunity to do anything. Sit down at the door and hear the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. As soon as the chanting is finished, I shall satisfy you as you desire." After saying this, Haridasa thakura continued to chant the holy name of the Lord. Thus the woman sitting before him began to hear the chanting of the holy name. In this way, as he chanted and chanted, the morning approached, and when the woman saw that it was morning, she got up and left. For three days she approached Haridasa thakura in this way, exhibiting various feminine postures that would bewilder the mind of even Lord Brahma. Haridasa thakura was always absorbed in thoughts of Krsna and the holy name of Krsna. Therefore the feminine poses the woman exhibited were just like crying in the forest. At the end of the night of the third day, the woman spoke to Haridasa thakura as follows. "My dear sir, for three days you have cheated me by giving me false assurances, for I see that throughout the entire day and night your chanting of the holy name is never finished."
Haridasa thakura said, "My dear friend, what can I do? I have made a vow. How, then, can I give it up?" After offering obeisances to Haridasa thakura, the woman said: "I am the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I came here to test you. I have previously captivated the mind of even Brahma, not to speak of others. Your mind alone have I failed to attract. My dear sir, you are the foremost devotee. Simply seeing you and hearing you chant the holy name of Krsna has purified my consciousness. Now I want to chant the holy name of the Lord. Please be kind to me by instructing me about the ecstasy of chanting the Hare Krsna maha−mantra. There is now a flood of the eternal nectar of love of Godhead due to the incarnation of Lord Caitanya. All living entities are floating in that flood. The entire world is now thankful to the Lord. Anyone who does not float in this inundation is most condemned. Such a person cannot be delivered for millions of kalpas. Formerly I received the holy name of Lord Rama from Lord Siva, but now, due to your association, I am greatly eager to chant the holy name of Lord Krsna. The holy name of Lord Rama certainly gives liberation, but the holy name of Krsna transports one to the other side of the ocean of nescience and at last gives one ecstatic love of Krsna. Please give me the holy name of Krsna and thus make me fortunate, so that I also may float in the flood oflove of Godhead inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu." After speaking in this way, Maya worshiped the lotus feet of Haridasa thakura, who initiated her by saying, "Just perform chanting of the Hare Krsna maha−mantra." After thus being instructed by Haridasa thakura, Maya left with great pleasure.
Unfortunately, some people have no faith in these narrations. Therefore I shall explain the reasons why people should have faith. Everyone who hears this will be faithful. During the incarnation of Lord Caitanya to inaugurate the Krsna consciousness movement, even such personalities as Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and thefour Kumaras took birth upon this earth, being allured by ecstatic love of Lord Krsna. All of them, including the great sage Narada and devotees like Prahlada, came here as if human beings, chanting the holy names of Lord Krsna together and dancing and floating in the inundation of love of Godhead. The goddess of fortune and others, allured by love of Krsna, also came down in the form of human beings and tasted the holy name of the Lord in love. What to speak of others, even Krsna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, personally descends to taste the nectar of love of Godhead in the form of the chanting of Hare Krsna. What is the wonder if the maidservant of Krsna, His external energy, begs for love of Godhead? Without the mercy of a devotee and without the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, love of Godhead cannot be possible.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.221−66
Haridasa thakura could defeat Maya because he was absorbed in thoughts of Krsna by constantly chanting His holy name:
[Maya to Haridasa thakura]: After offering obeisances to Haridasa thakura, the woman said: "I am the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I came here to test you."
In Bhagavad−gita (7.14) Lord Krsna says:
daivi hy esa guna−mayi mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te
"This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it."
This was actually proved by the behavior of Haridasa thakura. Maya enchants the entire world. Indeed, people have forgotten the ultimate goal of life because of the dazzling attractions of the material world. But this dazzling attraction, especially the attractive beauty of a woman, is meant for persons who are not surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord says, mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te: [Bg. 7.14] "One who is surrendered unto Me cannot be conquered by the illusory energy." The illusory energy personally came to test Haridasa thakura, but herein she admits her defeat, for she was unable to captivate him. How is this possible? It was because Haridasa thakura, fully surrendered to the lotus feet of Krsna, was always absorbed in thoughts of Krsna by chanting the holy names of the Lord 300,000 times daily as a vow.
– Sri Caitanya caritamrta Antya lila 3.250