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Shri Gadadhar Das Thakur
Shri Gadadhar das Thakur previously lived at Nabadwip. When the Lord went to live at Nilacal Shri Das Gadadhar also went there to be with Him. Later on Mahaprabhu sent him back with Nityananda Prabhu to preach in Bengal.
He first stayed at Ariyadahagram, which is situated on the banks of the Ganges. Then he spent some time in Nabadwip, taking care of Saci Mata and Bisnupriya, but after their disappearance he came to live at Katwa, where Mahaprabhu had accepted sannyasa from Kesab Bharati. He was a very confidential associate of Shri Shri GauraNityananda. He is counted amongst the associates of both Nityananda and Gauranga.
In Gaurganoddesh dipika it is stated that he is an incarnation of the effulgence of Shrimati Radharani's body, as well as an expansion of Purnananda gopi, one of the sakhis of Lord Balaram. Though he was one of the associates of Nityananda Prabhu, the majority of whom were cowherd boys and thus situated in the mellow of friendship, he was always absorbed in the mood of a gopi, as per his eternal constitutional position.
Once, as he was carrying a pot of Ganges water on his head, he called loudly, "Who wants to buy some milk?"
Sometimes he would say, "Here is some first class yogurt. Whoever wants to buy some, please come here."
Calling out like this, he would then laugh very loudly.
When Mahaprabhu instructed Nityananda Prabhu to preach in Bengal, He sent Shri Ram das and Shri Gadadhar das along with Him. [C.C.Adi 11.13-14]
In Shri ChaitanyaBhagavata, Shri Brindaban das Thakur has described the glories of Das Gadadhar in this way:
"Nityananda Prabhu was personally present within the body of Shri Gadadhar das; such are his glories."
One day Nityananda Prabhu came to Das Gadadhar's temple at Ariyadahagram. In the temple was a very beautiful Deity of Shri Bala Gopal, which Nityananda Prabhu carefully picked up from the altar. While holding Him against His chest, He began to dance in ecstasy. When all of the devotees saw that Gopal had taken shelter of the heart of Shri Anantadeb, they made the heavens resound with the vibrations of "Hari! Hari!"
Nityananda Prabhu, Who was very robust and heroic, then began to roar very loudly while engaging in His ecstatic dance with Gopalji. Then Madhabananda Ghosh began to sing some songs describing Krishna's dan lila (from DankeliKaumadi). Hearing his sweet voice and the poetic descriptions of Krishna's dan lila, Nityananda exhibited all of the ecstatic symptoms within His body simultaneously, as He danced like one intoxicated. The gestures He exhibited while dancing were like flashes of lightning; His limbs moved with unparalleled grace. His expressive eye movements, His sweet smiling and eruptive laughter and the shivering and quaking of His head provided a feast for the devotees' eyes and ears. Bringing His two beautiful lotus feet together, He would then jump in such a way as to completely captivate one's mind. Whomever He looked at found themselves floating in an ocean of the mellows of love of Krishna. By His merciful glance they forgot about the existence of their physical bodies.
The level of devotion that is sought by great yogis and munis was attained that day by the ordinary men and women of that place, as they relished the remnants of Lord Nityananda's love for Krishna. Someone as fat as an elephant, if he fasts for three days, becomes so thin and weak that he can barely walk. However, by the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, one small child of that village didn't eat anything for one month, yet his movements and behaviour were like those of a lion. Such was the mysterious influence of Nityananda Prabhu, though no one could understand His activities, due to the Lord's yogmaya potency. Nityananda Prabhu thus enjoyed various pastimes at the temple of Gadadhar das Thakur.
Amongst Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's associates, no one wanted to go near the Mohammedan Kaji for fear that he might lose his caste. Simply by looking at the face of a Mohammedan, a Hindu would lose his name in society. Das Gadadhar however, had the power to influence the notorious Kaji and so he bestowed his merciful glance upon him. Even at their first meeting he was able to lift that Kaji beyond the limits of his caste and creed so that those limitations completely fell away.
One day Shri Gadadhar das Thakur, intoxicated in ecstatic love while chanting the Holy Names of Hari, came to the house of the Kaji at Ariyadahagram and began to call him.
The Kaji, in a fit of anger, came storming out of his inner apartments, but upon seeing the transcendentally serene appearance and mood of Das Gadadhar Prabhu, he became stunned. His anger softened and his expression became friendly. The Kaji inquired, "Thakur, why have you come just now?"
Das Gadadhar Thakur answered, "I should like to have a few words with you."
"Yes, whatever you have to say, just speak up."
"Shri Shri GauraNityananda have appeared on this earth to distribute the nectar of the Holy Names to all classes of men, from the highest to the lowest, even to the most sinful, despicable persons. Why haven't you accepted this sweet treat? Why haven't you taken up the chanting of these nectarean Holy Names?"
"We'll accept it tomorrow."
"Why tomorrow?! Today you should accept. I have come here today to deliver you from the depths of ignorance and sin by the power of these Holy Names. So you please take this supremely auspicious Harinama. I will deliver you from all your sinful activities this very day."
Having listened to Gadadhar das Thakur's sweet speech, the Kaji became a little bewildered. He began to laugh and said, "Tomorrow I'll say Hari."
When he heard the two syllables ha and ri emanate from the Kaji's mouth, Das Gadadhar Thakur became overwhelmed in the happiness of ecstatic love and exclaimed, "Tomorrow?! Sir, you said Hari just now! All of your sins have flown far away. You have become supremely pure." Saying this he began to dance in ecstasy.
The Kaji, having been purified by the transcendental vibration of Hari, took shelter at Das Gadadhar Thakur's lotus feet. In this way, Das Gadadhar Thakur delivered many sinful, wicked yavanas and other such people.
He disappeared on the eighth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Karttik.
Gadadhar das Thakur's samadhi mandir and the samadhi of the hair of Lord Chaitanya, shaven by the barber Madhu Sil when He accepted sannyasa, are interned within the same tomb near Keshab Bharati's ashram at Katwa. Shri Das Gadadhar Thakur established a temple here at the place where Mahaprabhu accepted sannyasa, and the Deity of Lord Gauranga was personally installed by him. This Deity is one of three Deities which were carved from one Neem tree, as per the order of Shriman Mahaprabhu, which he communicated one night to Narahari Sarkar Thakur and the bhaskar (deity-maker) through the medium of their dreams. The next day, when the two met and learned that they had both seen the same dream, they could understand that the Lord's instruction should be carried out immediately. The other two Deities are at Shri Khanda. There is also a Deity of Balarama (Nityananda) about half the size of Mahaprabhu. Thus the Deities here are known as Shri Shri NitaiGauranga.
A local account of the history of this Deity of Balarama is as follows: He is said to have once been worshipped by Mineketan Ram das, who used to carry this Deity of Balaram with him wherever he went. Mineketan Ram's body was very strongly built, such that he could carry Balaram upon a simhasan mounted on his back. The simhasan itself weighed perhaps twenty kilos. When he became somewhat advanced in years and it was difficult to carry the simhasan, he entrusted the worship of his Balaram to the pujari of Lord Gauranga here.
The original name of Katwa was Kanchon Nagar. After Mahaprabhu's acceptance of sannyasa Sacimata changed the name to Kantak Nagar. Kantak means thorn. The derivation of the name Katwa is narrated as follows. Since Mineketan Ram was a non-Bengali he used a Persian word for hair, awa. Thus the literal meaning of Katwa is "cutting hair" (Kat meaning to cut); in memory of the place where Prabhu's head was shorn of its beautiful curly locks.
The disciple of Das Gadadhar was Jadunandan Cakravarti. The present sevaits of this temple are his descendants. This is a very nice temple where many of the local people attend the arati ceremonies and classes on the devotional scriptures. There is a railway station at Katwa which is only one hour from Nabadwip. From there one should go by rickshaw to Gauranga Bari.
Ariyadaha gram is reached from Calcutta by bus from Esplanade. The temple is referred to locally as Pat Bari.