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Chapter Sixteen: The Glories of Shri Haridasa Thakura
This chapter describes the glories of Thakura Shri Haridasa, the godless condition of Navadvipa at that time, the meeting of Haridasa with Advaita Acarya, the Kazi’s complaint against Haridasa, the various tortures such as beating with sticks in twenty-two marketplaces, the astonishment of the Mohammedan king on seeing the opulence of Haridasa, the king’s instruction to freely perform krishna-sankirtana, the execution of Haridasa’s chanting 300,000 names of Krishna within a cave at Phuliya, the description of a great snake who lived in that cave, the imitation of a pseudo brahmana, and the miserable fate of the so-called brahmana resident of Harinadi, who was an offender at the feet of the Vaishnavas and who was opposed to the loud chanting of the holy names.
When Shriman Mahaprabhu enacted His pastimes as a householder and a teacher, the entire country was devoid of spiritual practices. Everyone was simply inclined for insignificant ordinary enjoyment. Even those who studied or taught literatures like Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam had no respect for krishna-sankirtana, which is the purport of all scriptures and the life and soul of all education. Since only a few pure devotees chanted the holy names of Krishna together in a solitary place, they became the target of everyone’s harassment, teasing, and mischief. The devotees could not find a single sympathetic person to whom they could reveal their mental distress. At such a time Thakura Haridasa arrived at Navadvipa.
Haridasa appeared in the village of Budhana. By his mercy, the holy names of Krishna were preached in that area. On the pretext of living on the bank of the Ganges, Haridasa first came to Phuliya and then went to the house of Advaita Acarya in Shantipura, where he became intoxicated by chanting the holy names of Krishna in the association of Advaita Acarya. Being maddened with love of Krishna in the form of chanting His holy names, Haridasa was, more than anyone, free from the least inclination for things other than Krishna. Seeing His pure transformations of ecstasy, the brahmana community of Phuliya began to show him special respect. At that time the most sinful Kazi complained against Haridasa to the Mohammedan king that although Haridasa was born in a Mohammedan family he followed and preached the names of the Hindu’s God.
When men came to take Haridasa to the king, he fearlessly accompanied them to his court. Considering, “If we get darshana of Haridasa in the prison house then our pains of miserable prison life will be vanquished,” the prisoners humbly and submissively informed the prison guards about their desire to see Haridasa Thakura. Shri Haridasa also informed the prisoners that their present condition of freedom from material enjoyment was favorable for worshiping Lord Shri Hari and instructed them to always engage in all conditions in Krishna’s service, which is the soul’s real independence.
When the Mohammedan king asked Haridasa why he took to Hindu religion, he replied that the Supreme Lord is one nondual substance and He belongs to everyone. He is situated in everyone’s heart as the director, and the living entity acts in whatever way the Lord inspires him. By the request of the most sinful Kazi, the Mohammedan king advised Haridasa to accept his own religion, failing which he would be severely punished. But Haridasa replied that even if his body was cut into pieces and his life air left the body he would never give up his svadharma, in the form of chanting the holy names of Hari. In other words, he would never in any condition give up the living entity’s constitutional duties. Although by the order of the Kazi, the miscreants mercilessly beat Haridasa in twenty-two marketplaces, no sign of death or any misery was found in the body of Haridasa. Seeing this, the sinful followers of the king became very astonished. Haridasa was constantly engaged in the ecstasy of chanting the holy names of the Lord; therefore, like Prahlada, he did not feel any misery in spite of such beating. On the contrary, he felt sorry for the unfortunate miscreants who were committing grave offences by torturing a Vaishnava. Haridasa thus prayed to the Lord to forgive their offences.
Hearing that the sinful followers of the king would be severely punished due to being unable to kill him, Haridasa entered into ecstatic meditation and appeared to be dead. The Kazi considered that if Haridasa was buried he would attain a higher destination, therefore he ordered his followers to throw Haridasa into the Ganges for his degradation. Since Vishvambhara was present in the body of Haridasa at that time, in spite of everyone’s endeavor they could not move him even an inch. After being thrown in the Ganges, Haridasa floated to the bank. He regained his consciousness and came to the village of Phuliya while loudly chanting the holy names of Krishna. Seeing this opulence of Haridasa, the Mohammedans considered him a great prophet and began to offer him obeisances. Even the Mohammedan king glorified Haridasa and begged him for forgiveness with folded hands and then gave Haridasa permission to chant the holy names of Krishna and freely wander anywhere within his kingdom.
When the brahmanas of Phuliya again saw Haridasa, they became extremely joyful. Out of humility, Haridasa said that only by good fortunate had he received a token punishment for his great offence of hearing blasphemy of Lord Vishnu. Haridasa then began to chant the holy names 300,000 times a day within a cave on the bank of the Ganges. A fierce poisonous snake lived within that cave, therefore no one could remain there for a long time due to feeling a burning sensation from the intense poison. When the snakebite doctors came to know of the snake’s presence within the cave, they requested Haridasa to leave the place. When on everyone’s request Haridasa consented to leave the cave the following day, the snake came out of his hole and left the cave that very evening.
One day in a rich man’s house a snake charmer was glorifying Krishna’s pastimes at Kaliya-daha. As soon as Haridasa heard the glories of Krishna, he fell unconscious on the ground. Pure ecstatic transformations manifested in his transcendental body. Everyone began to take dust from Haridasa’s feet and smear it all over their bodies. Seeing this, a cheating, low-class brahmana began to display artificial emotions by imitating Haridasa in order to attain more prestige. When the snake charmer understood the duplicity of the pseudo brahmana, he severely beat him with a stick. Then the brahmana helplessly left that place. The snake charmer then explained to everyone the authenticity of Haridasa and the duplicity of the pseudo brahmana.
The atheists at that time were opposed to the loud chanting of the holy names. They even considered that as a result of the loud chanting of the holy names they would face famine and their peaceful lives would be disturbed. When a so-called brahmana from the village of Harinadi related his concocted views opposed to loud chanting, Haridasa established the supremacy and anartha destroying potency of loud chanting through scriptural reasoning. This atheistic so-called brahmana did not believe the statements of Haridasa that were based on scriptures and accepted Haridasa as belonging to a particular caste. A few days after swearing that he would cut off the nose and ears of Haridasa if his words were proven false, the very nose and ears of that fallen brahmana fell off due to smallpox. Haridasa then left for Navadvipa with a desire to associate with the devotees headed by Shri Advaita Acarya.
Commentary and Chapter Summaries of His Divine Grace Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Shri Shrimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada.