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All glories to Shri Chaitanya! All glories to Sitanatha! All glories to Nityananda, along with all the devotees!
One day Shri Haridasa Thakura humbly revealed his mind to Advaita Prabhu, saying, “O Prabhu, please allow me to go to a secluded place so that I can continually relish the nectar of the holy names.”
Advaita Prabhu replied, “Separation from you will break My heart, but I cannot cause an impediment to your devotional service by forbidding you.”
Haridasa offered his obeisances at Advaita's feet, and Advaita warmly embraced him with loving affection. Haridasa said, “I am most fallen and untouchable. Why do You make me an offender by touching my body?”
Advaita Prabhu said, “I don't consider anyone high-class or low-class. Whoever worships Krishna is from the Vaishnava class. One is considered high-class or low-class according to his past fruitive activities, but one who worships Krishna is the highest of all. You are the best of the pure devotees, so simply by touching you the seed of devotional service sprouts within one's heart.”
Haridasa said, “O Prabhu, anything is possible for one who receives Your spotless mercy.”
Then with folded hands, Haridasa took Advaita Prabhu's permission and departed for the village of Phuliya, while remembering Lord Hari. The village brahmanas' hearts melted on seeing Haridasa. Among them was one brahmana named Ramadasa, who was well-versed in the scriptures and always engaged in following religious principles. When he saw Haridasa, he became devotionally inclined and humbly began to speak in sweet words, “We have become blessed by your arrival. Who can understand what pious activities have been done in this village? A saintly person sanctifies one's house by his visit. Please be kind to us and reside here.”
Brahma Haridasa replied, “O best of the brahmanas, according to the Vedic literatures a brahmana is nondifferent from Vishnu's body. I belong to a lower caste, so I am not fit to be touched. It is only by great fortune that I have obtained your association.”
Ramadasa said, “O saint, why this humility? One who is attached to the Lord is not considered to belong to any class. As iron is turned into gold by contact with a touchstone, all classes of men become exalted by worshiping the Lord. One may be praised by people as a result of one's religious activities, for according to one's past activities one is considered exalted or fallen. But one who gives up material desires and becomes attached to the Supreme Lord is the best of all living entities, and he enjoys liberation.”
Haridasa said, “You are a saintly person, so you see everyone else as saintly. One who worships the Lord by cultivating knowledge is liberated according to the development of his knowledge. But the most intelligent sadhu does not desire liberation, for real liberation is not obtained by the cultivation of knowledge.”
The brahmana said, “What process is there to achieve the Supreme Brahman other than the cultivation of knowledge?”
Haridasa said, “The essence of all religious principles is devotional service, by which one attains the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who is engaged in devotional service naturally considers himself a servant, and Lord Hari offers him a spiritual body. The original Personality of Godhead is the Supreme Brahman. He is eternally blissful, full of knowledge, and omnipotent. Pure devotional service unto the Lord is attained through the chanting of His holy names. By incessantly chanting, one achieves the treasure of pure love. When that pure love matures, one attains the mood of the gopis. And in that conjugal mood, one attains Radha-Krishna.”
Hearing this, the brahmana's hair stood on end in ecstasy and he said, “Please be merciful and purify me.”
Haridasa became filled with love, and he initiated that brahmana in the chanting the holy names. Obtaining that great treasure, the brahmana shed tears and offered obeisances and prayers to Haridasa. By the association of devotees, that brahmana gradually became a Vaishnava, and the desire tree of devotional service grew in his heart. That brahmana helped construct one straw hut in which Haridasa happily stayed. As Haridasa continually relished the nectar of the holy names, all the villagers became his followers.
One night Haridasa thought to himself, “It is not good to stay in one place for a long time. When one talks too much with others, he associates with maya and gradually becomes attached to material life. In this way one cannot maintain his principles of renunciation. Therefore it is best to give up the association of common people.”
Thinking in this way, Haridasa left his residence in the morning. He chanted the holy names as he traveled to the village of Benapola. He engaged in sankirtana in the forest there, and the village people came to worship him. A living entity easily attains devotional service by seeing the fortunate recipient of Krishna's mercy. Seeing the radiance of Brahma Haridasa's body, the villagers gradually became his followers. The devotees of Benapola affectionately made a hut for him in the forest. While Haridasa stayed there, he served tulasi and chanted ten million holy names a month. He took his meals in the house of a Vaishnava brahmana, and out of compassion he taught the people moral principles.
One day a nicely decorated prostitute as beautiful as a Vidyadhari came to visit Haridasa. She sat at the door of the hut and made various bodily gestures. Haridasa sweetly inquired from her, “What brought you here this evening?”
The prostitute replied, “I am enchanted by seeing your handsome form. You are chanting the holy names and giving up sense enjoyment while in the prime of youth.”
Hearing her words, Haridasa smiled and said, “You should leave this place now. One who does not wear tulasi neck beads and decorate the forehead with tilaka, and one who does not chant the name of Krishna is a fallen atheist. Such a person is certainly averse to Krishna, so a saintly person will never see their face. If you dress properly, then you can come here and Krishna will fulfill your desire.”
Haridasa then began chanting the holy name, and the prostitute returned to her house. The next day she decorated herself with tulasi neck beads and tilaka. She wrote the holy names on her limbs and dressed like a Vaishnavi, and then she went to Haridasa's residence in the evening. She bowed before tulasi and sat down at the door of the hut and pretended to loudly chant the holy name of the Lord.
The association of saintly persons has such unlimited transcendental potency that a living entity can attain liberation just by imitating their dress. Just by the association of a sandalwood tree, other trees become fragrant. Hearing the prostitute continually chant the holy names, Haridasa, the best of Vaishnavas, praised her in great ecstasy. When the prostitute heard this praise, she said to Haridasa, “O Prabhu, kindly fulfill my desire.”
Haridasa replied, “It is good you have come, but you should chant the name of Hari once with full sincerity.”
Haridasa then continued to chant the holy name, and the prostitute's mind was changed by hearing his words. Her consciousness was purified by the influence of his saintly association, and she considered that her profession as a prostitute was a result of sinful activities. She offered obeisances to Haridasa with folded hands and said, “You are like a precious magnet that has attracted me. You are like a desire tree. You are my lord and spiritual master. Please be kind and deliver me.”
Hearing the prostitute's words, full of firm affection for devotional service, the crest jewel of saintly persons became absorbed in loving devotion. Haridasa had her shave her head for atonement, and then he initiated her by chanting the holy name in her ear. On receiving hari-nama, she exhibited the initial stage of love of God. Haridasa gave her the name Krishnadasi and told her, “Stay here and chant the holy name. By Krishna's mercy, all your desires will be fulfilled. The holy name of the Lord and the Supreme Lord possess the same potency. By chanting the name of Krishna, one attains Krishna. Indeed, even by a glimpse of chanting the holy name one attains liberation.”
After instructing her in this way, Haridasa left that place. Krishnadasi remained there and chanted the holy names day and night. By the inconceivable potency of a great saint, a poisonous tree can bear nectarean fruits.
Now hear the wonderful pastime of Haridasa Thakura converting the Yavanas into servants of Krishna. The Vaishnava inhabitants of Phuliya were all jubilant by seeing Haridasa. As they regularly gathered together to perform sankirtana, the atheists felt as though their hearts were being pierced. When the leader of the Yavanas heard about Haridasa, he became furious and told his servants, “There is a man named Haridasa in Phuliya. Although he is a Yavana, he acts like a Hindu. By this behavior, we will be ridiculed and our Yavana religion will gradually be ruined. Therefore go arrest him and bring him for punishment.”
On receiving this order, the wicked servants rushed off to arrest Haridasa. They tied Haridasa's hands and brought him to the Kazi's assembly. On seeing Haridasa, the Kazi said, “You belong to a superior community. Why do you act like a Hindu? One who gives up his religion commits a great sin, and after death he goes to hell. If you desire to be freed from sin and attain paradise, then pray according to our scriptures.”
Haridasa gravely replied, “I consider that scripture best which is based on logic. One who follows the scripture based on reason is the best of men. The Yavana scriptures appear to be against all logic. One who follows those scriptures is known as a Yavana. See the evidence. The cow and bull are considered our mother and father. Therefore killing them is against all reasoning. Eating that flesh is equal to eating the flesh of one's forefathers, and the Yavana scriptures recommend such killing. The followers of such wicked practices will attain repeated birth and death within various species of life. The Supreme Brahman has an eternal form of pure goodness, full in six opulences. By reading scriptures that describe the Lord as formless and callous, one becomes more enamored by illusion. Actually there is no difference between the constitution of the living entity and the Lord, just as fire is the same in all varieties of lamps. But as the original fire is more prominent, the supreme controller, Lord Hari, is the creator of everything. By serving Lord Hari, one is freed from maya. With this intense desire, I have taken shelter of Lord Hari's lotus feet.”
Hearing Haridasa's rational explanation, everyone understood that he was very powerful. Haridasa then displayed his transcendental opulences, and the mlecchas became frightened. Taking straw between his teeth, the leader of the Yavanas said, “O saintly person, please be merciful to this fallen soul. I am a stupid miscreant, so I could not recognize you. Forgive my offense. I offer millions of obeisances at your feet. By your greatness, please deliver this abominable soul.”
On hearing his statement, Haridasa felt compassion and blessed him, saying, “May you become Krishna conscious.” Then he raised his arms and requested them, “Chant the name of Hari! Sever the chains of maya and you will quickly attain devotional service.”
Hearing this, devotional service was awakened in everyone's heart. They all began chanting the name of Hari and dancing. After delivering the Yavanas in this way, Haridasa went to Kuliya.
The glories of Brahma Haridasa are beyond the conception of even the demigods, so what to speak of this fallen soul. By his association, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami got the seed of devotion and firm faith in the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya. Even a snake got salvation by the grace of Haridasa, so is it surprising that he has delivered some Yavanas? I will now relate in brief the story of the snake's deliverance. By hearing this story the Vaishnavas' glories are revealed.
Haridasa Thakura was once chanting the holy names while sitting in a cave. Hearing about this, the nearby villagers came to see him. When everyone saw his attachment and love for the holy names, they would regularly join in chanting. At that time one large deadly snake with a radiant jewel on its head came and sat in front of Haridasa and listened to his chanting. On seeing that snake, everyone shook in fear and exclaimed, “This sadhu will die today.”
Haridasa fearlessly grabbed the snake by its neck and initiated it in the chanting of the holy name. When Haridasa chanted the holy name and clapped his hands, the snake lovingly danced around. Incessant tears flowed from the snake's eyes, and it repeatedly bowed its head at the feet of Haridasa. The snake took the dust from the Vaishnavas' feet and continued hearing the chanting. Within a short time the snake attained a spiritual four-handed form and went to the spiritual world. When people saw this inconceivable feat, they became Vaishnavas and chanted the holy names.
Some days later Haridasa became anxious and returned to Shantipura. When Advaita Prabhu saw His dear Haridasa, He floated in loving ecstasy and affectionately received him. Haridasa offered his obeisances and humbly spoke to Him. Advaita Prabhu embraced him and sweetly said, “Give up your humility. I consider you My life and soul.”
They both became absorbed in loving devotion while discussing spiritual matters, and they danced with raised arms while chanting the holy names. As their festive mood increased day after day, the high-class brahmanas discussed amongst themselves, “If Advaita Acarya does not give up the association of Haridasa, we should ostracize Him from society.”
When Advaita Prabhu heard about this, He did not consider their objection. His association was thus shunned by the atheists. Advaita Prabhu responded, “It is good that I have become free from materialistic association. It is the Lord's mercy.”
Listen now to the following wonderful incident. There was one rich high-class brahmana that lived in Shantipura. On one auspicious occasion, over a hundred brahmanas joyfully came to his house. After everyone was greeted with due respect, they sat down. At that time one sannyasi, whose form was as radiant as the sun, arrived there. His effulgence illumined all directions. As he silently sat at the base of a tree, everyone came to offer him obeisances. Even the blind and dumb came before him and smeared their bodies with the dust from his feet. They all began dancing in ecstasy as their diseases were cured by the touch of the dust from the sadhu's lotus feet. The blind got back their eyesight, the lame got the ability to walk, the dumb could speak, and in this way all the high-class brahmanas, so-called scholars, and atheists became astounded.
Everyone came to offer obeisances at the feet of the sadhu. They all wrapped cloth around their necks and offered various prayers. They humbly offered services to the sadhu, who responded, “I don't eat anything other than prasada. Vishnu-prasada is supremely pure. Anything that is not offered to Vishnu is like untouchable refuse. Demigods, ancestors, and other saintly persons accept only food that has been offered to Vishnu. One who neglects this eternal scriptural injunction will definitely fall into the darkest region of hell.”
The host said, “I have a Narayana Deity in my house, so I am offering you His prasada.”
The sadhu accepted that proposal by saying, “So be it.” Then the sadhu was offered a seat amongst the brahmanas. In the midst of the brahmanas that sadhu appeared just like the moon in the midst of the stars. He was first attentively offered various foods, and afterwards the brahmanas ate. After the brahmanas finished their meal, Advaita Prabhu arrived there.
Advaita Prabhu could understand the hearts of everyone, for He is the spiritual master of the whole world. He fulfills the desires of the pure devotees like a desire tree. When Advaita saw Haridasa amongst the brahmanas, He slightly smiled and softly said, “O dear Haridasa, what is this mood you are exhibiting? Are you polluting the caste of all these brahmanas?”
Haridasa replied, “O Prabhu, it was not my desire. I have sat here on the earnest request of all these brahmanas.” Saying this, he immediately performed acamana and then offered obeisances and prayers to Advaita.
The brahmanas were amazed to see this, and they addressed Advaita Acarya as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, “We have rejected Advaita Acarya for the fault of associating with Haridasa, but Haridasa has wonderful transcendental qualities. The devotees of Lord Hari have supremely pure bodies, so considering them as belonging to some caste is a great sin. We have committed an offense at the feet of Shri Advaita Prabhu, but being kind, He has taught us through this devotee.”
Saying this, the brahmanas came before Advaita with folded hands and cloth around their necks. Advaita Prabhu then bestowed His mercy on them by revealing His identity as the combined form of Maha-Vishnu and Sadashiva.
When the brahmanas saw that form, their transcendental emotions manifested by tears, shaking, and hairs standing on end like the kadamba flower. They said, “We take shelter at Your lotus feet. Please forgive our offense by placing Your feet on our heads.” They offered their obeisances and prayers and then drank the water that had washed His feet.
Advaita Prabhu said, “The holy names possess inconceivable potencies, so don't worry. Chant these spiritual names by yourself or with others and all your desires will easily be fulfilled.”
After saying this, Advaita returned to His residence and those fortunate brahmanas all became great devotees of the Lord. The glories of the Vaishnava's lotus feet are unlimited. A fallen soul like me cannot understand even a fraction of those glories. The Vedas state that if a mleccha becomes fortunate to attain devotional service, he automatically acquires the qualities of a brahmana. As bell metal is turned to gold when mixed with mercury in an alchemical process, so by engaging in devotional service one attains the platform of pure goodness. Those brahmanas had many nonsense habits, but by the association of devotees they became pure.
When performing the shraddha ceremony of His father, Advaita Prabhu offered the first plate to Haridasa rather than a brahmana in order to teach ignorant people the glories of Vaishnavas. With folded hands, Haridasa appealed to the Lord, “Why do You offer me the shraddha-patra instead of offering it to a brahmana?”
Advaita Prabhu replied, “A pure devotee possesses transcendental potencies. Feeding you is equal to feeding ten million brahmanas.”
Haridasa said, “You are the Vaishnavacarya, so Your instruction is as good as a scriptural injunction.”
When Advaita Prabhu heard Himself called the Vaishnavacarya, He roared loudly in loving devotion. His jubilation increased by the association of Haridasa. They always enjoyed pastimes of chanting the holy names together.
One day Haridasa told Advaita Prabhu, “The wicked mlecchas pollute the eternal religious principles. They break the Deities into pieces and ransack the Deity paraphernalia. They forcibly take Shrimad Bhagavatam and other scriptures and burn them. They forcibly grab away the brahmana's conchshell and bell, and they wipe the tilaka marks from the devotees' limbs. They pass urine on tulasi like dogs, and they wickedly pass stool in the temples. When someone sits for worship, they spit water on them, and they ridicule sadhus by calling them crazy. They do hundreds of similar atrocious acts by neglecting or spoiling all religious activities.
“We know from scripture that Krishna has made a firm vow to incarnate whenever there is a decline in religious principles and a rise of irreligion. Now that time has arrived. So why has Krishna not come? O Prabhu, how will religious principles be protected? I am constantly thinking about this.”
Advaita Prabhu replied, “Without Krishna's appearance, there is no way to rectify the misbehavior of the mlecchas in Kali-yuga. I will induce Krishna to descend and preach His holy names. In this way I will easily deliver the whole world.”
After saying this, Advaita repeatedly roared out, and Haridasa danced in ecstatic love. Although Advaita knows everything, He made this vow according to ordinary conventions.
Praying at the the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya and Shri Advaita, always desiring Their mercy, I, Ishana Nagara, narrate Shri Advaita Prakasha.