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Title: The Most Holy Disappearance Tithi of Namacharya Shrila Haridasa Thakura
User: Damodara Svarupa dasa Date: 2005-03-11 19:41:48
The Most Holy Disappearance Tithi of Namacharya Shrila Haridasa Thakura -- By Swami Gaurangapada
One day, Govinda went in great jubilation to deliver the remnants of Lord Jagannatha’s food to Haridasa Thakura. However, upon his arrival, Govinda saw that Haridasa Thakura was lying down on his back and chanting his rounds very slowly. Govinda said, “Please rise and take your maha-prasada.”
Haridasa Thakura replied, “Today I shall observe fasting for I have not yet finished my prescribed number of rounds. How then can I eat? On the other hand, you have brought me maha-prasada. How can I neglect it?”
After saying this, Haridasa Thakura offered prayers to the maha-prasada and ate a little portion.
The next day, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu went and inquired, “My dear Haridasa, are you well?
Haridasa Thakura offered his obeisances unto the Lord and replied, “My body is all right, but my mind and intelligence are not well.”
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu asked, “Can you ascertain what your disease is?”
Haridasa Thakura replied, “My disease is that I cannot complete my prescribed number of rounds.”
The Lord said, “Now that you have become old, you may reduce the number of rounds that you chant every day. You are already liberated, and thus there is no need for you to follow the regulative principles very strictly. Your role in this incarnation is to deliver the people in general, and you have done this sufficiently by preaching the glories of the holy name in this world. Therefore, please reduce the fixed number of times that you chant the Name.”
Haridasa Thakura replied, “My Lord, kindly hear my real plea. I was born in a low family, and thus my body is most abominable. I always engage in low work, and thus I am the lowest and most condemned of men. I am unseeable and untouchable, and yet You have accepted me as Your servant. This means that You have rescued me from a hellish condition of life and elevated me to the Vaikuntha platform.”
“My dear Lord, You are the fully independent Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus You act by Your own free will, causing the whole world to move as You like. By Your mercy, You have made me dance in various ways. For example, I was offered the sraddha-patra and ate from it, even though I was born in a family of meat-eaters.”
“My dear Lord, I have had one desire for a very long time because I think that quite soon You will bring to a close Your pastimes within this material world. I wish that You do not show me the closing chapter of Your pastimes. Therefore, before that time comes, kindly let my body fall down in Your presence. I wish to place Your lotuslike feet upon my heart and see Your moonlike face. With my tongue I shall chant Your holy name, ‘Shri Krishna Chaitanya’, and in this way I wish to give up my body. Let this lowborn body fall down before You, for You can make possible this perfection of all my desires.”
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu said, “My dear Haridasa, Krishna is so merciful that He must execute whatever you want. However, you should know that whatever happiness is Mine is simply due to your association. It is therefore not fitting for you to go away, and thus leave Me aside.”
While catching hold of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s lotus feet, Haridasa Thakura replied, “My dear Lord, do not create an illusion! Although I am so fallen, You must certainly show me this mercy.”
“My Lord, there are millions of respectable devotees who are fit to sit on my head. They are actually helpful in Your pastimes. In comparison, if an insignificant insect like me dies, then what is the loss? My Lord, You are always affectionate toward Your devotees. I am just an imitation devotee, but nevertheless, I wish that You fulfill my desire. This is my expectation.”
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu assured Haridasa Thakura that He would return the following day, after visiting Lord Jagannatha. Since it was time to perform His noontime duties, the Lord got up. After embracing Haridasa Thakura, He went to bathe in the sea.
The next morning, after visiting the temple, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu hastily came to see Haridasa Thakura, taking all of His devotees with Him. When the Lord arrived, Haridasa Thakura offered his obeisances unto Him as well as unto all the Vaishnavas.
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu inquired, “My dear Haridasa, what is the news?”
Haridasa Thakura replied, “My dear Lord, whatever mercy You can bestow upon me.”
Hearing this, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu immediately began a resounding sankirtana performance in the courtyard, and Vakreshvara Pandita was appointed the chief dancer. Headed by Svarupa Damodara, all of the devotees surrounded Haridasa Thakura, while ecstatically chanting the holy name of the Lord.
In front of all His leading associates, such as Ramananda Raya and Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu began describing the transcendental qualities of Haridasa Thakura and as He did so, it appeared as if He possessed five mouths. Indeed, the more the Lord described Haridasa’s attributes, the more His great happiness increased. After hearing about these transcendental qualities from Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, all of the devotees present were highly astonished. With great reverence, they offered obeisances unto the lotus feet of Haridasa Thakura.
Haridasa Thakura had Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu sit down in front of him and he fixed his eyes, like bumblebees, upon the lotus face of the Lord. He then took the lotus feet of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and placed them upon his heart, and made the dust from the feet of all the devotees the ornament on his head.
Haridasa Thakura began chanting, “Shri Krishna Chaitanya”, again and again, and while drinking the sweetness of the Lord’s moon-like face, tears constantly glided down from his eyes. It was while chanting the holy name, “Shri Krishna Chaitanya”, that Haridasa Thakura gave up his air of life and left his material body.
After witnessing the wonderful death of Haridasa Thakura by his own will, which was just like that of a great mystic yogi, everyone remembered the passing away of Bhisma.
The devotees’ chanting of the holy names, “Hari” and “Krishna” was tumultuous as Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu picked up Haridasa Thakura’s body and placed it upon His lap. Then, while holding Haridasa Thakura’s body in His arms, the Lord began dancing in the courtyard with great ecstatic love. Because of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s overwhelming ecstasy, all the devotees completely lost themselves as they chanted and danced, being swept away by the waves of transcendental love.
After the Lord had danced for some time, Svarupa Damodara reminded Him of the other rituals that needed to be performed for the body of Haridasa Thakura. Haridasa Thakura’s body was then raised onto a carrier, which resembled an airplane, and carried in procession to the sea, accompanied by the sankirtana of the devotees. Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu danced in front of the carrier, and the other devotees chanted and danced behind.
Upon reaching the sea, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu bathed Haridasa Thakura’s body and then declared, “From today onward, this sea has become a great place of pilgrimage.”
Everyone drank the water that had touched the lotus feet of Haridasa Thakura and they smeared the remnants of Lord Jagannatha’s sandalwood paste over his body. A hole was dug in the sand, and finally, the body of Haridasa Thakura was lowered into it, along with remnants from Lord Jagannatha, such as silk ropes, sandalwood paste, food, and cloth.
As the devotees continued chanting and Vakreshvara Pandita danced in jubilation, these articles were placed upon Haridasa Thakura’s body. Then, with His own transcendental hands, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu covered Haridasa Thakura’s body with sand while chanting “Hari bol! Hari bol!”
After the body of Haridasa Thakura was completely covered with sand, a platform was constructed. Then, a fence was built around it for protection. Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and the devotees danced and chanted all around the platform, and because of their tumultuous roar, the entire universe became filled with the vibration.
When kirtana was finished, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu bathed in the sea, along with the devotees, and while doing so they all swam and played in great jubilation. Then, after circumambulating the samadhi of Haridasa Thakura, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu proceeded toward the Simha-dvara. Gradually, all the residents of Jagannatha Puri joined in the procession, and the combined sound of the kirtana could be heard throughout the entire town.
At the Simha-dvara, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu spread His cloth and began to ask for prasada from all the shopkeepers. The Lord told them, “I am begging prasada so that a great festival can be held honoring the passing away of Haridasa Thakura. Please give Me alms.”
All of the shopkeepers immediately came forward with big baskets of prasada and jubilantly delivered them to Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Svarupa Damodara stopped them, however, and so the shopkeepers returned to their stalls and sat down along with their baskets. Svarupa Damodara then sent the Lord to His residence, and kept with him four devotees and four servant carriers. He then told the shopkeepers, “Give me just four handfulls of prasada, from each and every item.”
In this way, varieties of prasada were collected, and after being packed up they were carried on the heads of the four servants to the residence of Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. Besides whatever Svarupa Damodara brought, Vaninatha Raya and Kashi Mishra sent large quantities of prasada.
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu made all of the devotees sit down in rows while He personally began distributing the prasada along with four other men. The Lord was not accustomed to taking prasada in small quantities, and so He put on each plate enough for at least five men.
Svarupa Damodara requested the Lord, “Please sit down and watch. With these men to assist me, I shall take charge of distributing the prasada.”
Thereafter, Svarupa Damodara, Jagadananda, Kashishvara, and Shankara began distributing the prasada, but all of the devotee would not begin as long as the Lord had not started eating.
Since Kashi Mishra had invited Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu for lunch that day, he personally went and served the Lord, making him eat with great attention. Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu sat along with Paramananda Puri and Brahmananda Bharati, and when He began to eat, so did all the devotees. Because Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu kept telling the distributors, “Give them more! Give them more!” everyone became filled up to the neck.
When the devotees finished eating, they washed their hands and mouths, and then Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu personally decorated each of them with a flower garland and sandalwood paste.
Being overwhelmed with ecstatic love, the Lord offered the following benediction, which the devotees heard with great satisfaction. “Anyone who has seen the festival honoring the passing away of Haridasa Thakura, anyone who has chanted and danced here, anyone who offered sand onto the body of Haridasa Thakura, and anyone who came to take prasada will achieve the favor of Lord Krishna very soon. There is such wonderful potency just in seeing Haridasa Thakura.”
“Being merciful upon Me, Krishna gave Me Haridasa Thakura’s association, but now, being independent in His desires, the Lord has broken that association. When Haridasa Thakura desired to leave this material world, it was not within My power to detain him. Simply by his will, Haridasa Thakura gave up his life and went away, exactly like Bhisma had previously done. Haridasa Thakura was the crown jewel on the head of this world. Thus, without him, this world is now bereft of its valuable ornament.”
Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu told everyone, “Chant, ‘Jaya Jaya Haridasa!’ Chant the holy name of the Lord, Hari!” and while saying this, He personally began to dance. In response, all of the devotees chanted, “All glories to Haridasa Thakura, who revealed the importance of chanting the holy name of the Lord!”
Finally, after some time, Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu bade farewell to all the devotees. Then, with mixed feelings of happiness and distress, He went to rest. From the incident of Haridasa Thakura’s passing away and the great care in which Shri Gauranga Mahaprabhu commemorated it, one can understand just how affectionate the Lord is to His devotees.