SRI CAITANYA BHAGAVATA
Adi Lila Chapter 16
All glories to Lord Gaurasundara, the friend of the meek and poor.
All glories to the husband of Srimati Laksmi-Devi. He is the omnipotent Supreme Lord, the maintainer and controller of everyone and everything.
All glories to You, Sri Gaura Hari, for You descended to protect Your devotees.
All glories to Gauracandra; He is the personification of the holy name, the supreme friend, and the Absolute Truth.
All glories to Lord Gauracandra and His devotees. One is elevated to the platform of pure devotional service simply by hearing His transcendental pastimes sincerely.
The transcendental topics narrated in the Adi-Khanda of this book are like a stream of pure nectar, for they describe Lord Gauracandra's enchanting pastimes. The Supreme Lord of the Vaikuntha planets lived in Navadvipa as a householder teaching His students. He had appeared specifically to reveal and propagate the process of pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord, but it was His wish that no one should know His true identity.
The entire human society was totally devoid of any spiritual aspirations; they were immersed in base and perverted enjoyments of the body. Those who held discourses on the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam were scarcely better, for they did not instruct people about the essence of those scriptures, the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord. Seeing the hopeless plight of the living entities, the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord often met together, away from the public view, to clap their hands and chant the holy name in ecstasy.
The materialistic people of Nadia continually criticized the devotees saying, "What is the purpose of howling so loudly! After all, I am Brahman and the absolute resides within me, so why discriminate between master and servant?"
Others angrily said, "They beg food to fill their bellies, and they call out 'Hari! Hari!' Let us break down their doors and smash their houses!"
The devotees were discouraged by these derogatory remarks, and the fact that they had no one to complain to made their dismay even greater. Wherever they looked, the devotees found the people devoid of devotion to the Supreme Lord. They simply cried to Lord Krsna and lamented the plight of human society.
About this time, Srila Haridasa Thakura came to Navadvipa; his body glowed with pure devotion for the Supreme Lord. Now I will narrate the wonderful activities of Srila Haridasa Thakura. Whoever hears this narration will receive the full shelter of Lord Krsna.
Srila Haridasa Thakura was born in a village called Buron, and because of his presence there, many people became purified and took up the chanting of the holy name. After some years he left his village and traveled to a place near the river Ganga. He finally settled in the village of Phulia near Santipura.
Advaita Acarya Prabhu was overjoyed to meet Srila Haridasa Thakura in Navadvipa and expressed His joy by roaring loudly. Haridasa Thakura was similarly swept away by waves of ecstatic love of Godhead in the transcendental company of Advaita Acarya Prabhu. Srila Haridasa Thakura passed his time wandering on the banks of the Ganga chanting the name of the Supreme Lord Krsna.
Haridasa had absolutely no attraction for material enjoyment. The holy name of Lord Krsna continuously vibrated on his tongue, creating an extraordinary beauty about his mouth. Never for a moment did he feel any apathy towards his chanting of the holy name of Krsna; he remained absorbed, tasting the nectar of devotional service.
He occasionally danced in ecstasy or cried in lamentation, while other times he lay still in a state of unconsciousness. Sometimes he spoke in mysterious languages, and later explained the meaning of his words. All the ecstatic symptoms of love of Krsna were manifest in him - profuse crying, horripilation, laughing, fainting, perspiring, etc. It was common to see Srila Dasa Thakura dancing while he sang the glories of Lord Krsna's name.
People would gather around him just to see the unrestricted tears of love of Godhead that flowed profusely from his eyes, drenching his entire body. Even the strictest atheists marveled at his behavior. Horripilations swelled across his body like thousands of blooming flowers. Even Lord Brahma and Lord Siva were amazed by his devotion.
In the village of Phulia even the ritualistic brahmins were sincerely impressed, if not astonished, by Srila Dasa Thakura's spiritual ecstasies. The saint was held in full respect by the people of the village, and having won their trust, he lived there quite peacefully. He bathed daily in the Ganga and roamed freely, chanting the Lord's holy name.
The local Muslim authority known as the Qazi became envious of Haridasa Thakura's popularity and reported to the Nawab, "This man is acting like a Hindu; arrest him and punish him appropriately." The envious words of the sinful Qazi sparked an immediate response from the equally sinful Nawab, and Haridasa Thakura was arrested and brought forth. Having received the mercy of Lord Krsna, Haridasa had no fear of the Muslim authorities nor even of death itself. With the name of the Lord on his lips, Haridas appeared before the Nawab.
When devotees and other pious persons in the locality of the Nawab's palace heard that the saint, Haridasa was coming, they were extremely happy; but when they subsequently learned that he was coming as a captive of the Muslim ruler, they were horrified. Previously many religious people had been terrorized and incarcerated by the Muslims; those prisoners were happy to learn that Haridasa might be joining them. His presence in their miserable situation would certainly eradicate their suffering. The prisoners even requested the prison wardens to allow them unrestricted association with Srila Haridasa.
When Srila Thakura was brought into the prison, he looked compassionately at all the prisoners who immediately prostrated themselves at his lotus feet. His long graceful arms which extended to his knees, his lotus eyes, and his charming moon-like face enchanted everyone. They offered their most sincere respects to the saint, and love for Krsna stirred in their hearts. Srila Haridasa Thakura was pleased with the tremendous devotion which had grown in the hearts of the prisoners, and he blessed them, "Just remain as you are." But the miserable prisoners could not grasp the depth of that blessing, and they felt quite dejected.
Haridasa could see the misunderstanding, then compassionately explained himself: "My blessing to you is that you will remain as you are, but please do not feel dejected. I could never wish you any misfortune. I simply desire that the love you now feel for Krsna should always remain the same. From now on, chant Lord Krsna's name and constantly remember His pastimes, inspiring one another to retain your devotion.
"Violence and tyranny are absent in the spiritual world, so sincerely cry out for Krsna's help and constantly think of Him. When you are released from this prison do not return to your old materialistic ways nor associate with degraded or sinful people because one can never cultivate love for the Supreme Lord Krsna by living a mundane life. You should know for certain that Krsna is unobtainable by the materialistic person.
"A materially engrossed mind is shaped by unwanted, mischievous desires; the attachment for wife, children, family and other such illusions brings about destruction. If by divine arrangement any person reaches the platform of pure devotion towards Krsna, certain realizations dawn on them and they gradually become detached from material life, giving themselves instead to the worship of the Supreme Lord. If that person returns again to their materialistic life, their mind will become contaminated by capricious, mischievous desires.
"I certainly do not want you to remain prisoners forever, but I do pray that you develop a distaste for material pleasures. Please chant the holy name of the Lord. My blessing was meant to free you from your present miserable condition and to insure that you remain happy in love of Krsna. I look upon everyone equally and wish the best for all living entities. I pray that you may develop unflinching devotion to Krsna. Do not be sad; you will be freed within two or three days. You may believe me. Once you leave the prison you may live in the forest or you may live in your home, but always think of Krsna and try to cultivate spiritual life." Having showered his unrestricted mercy upon the prisoners, Haridasa went before the Nawab.
Because of his purity, Srila Haridasa Thakura radiated a certain effulgence which the Nawab could not fail to notice. He rose respectfully when Haridasa entered and offered the saint a seat. Although he himself had become quite confused, the Nawab asked Haridasa, "What sort of mentality has overcome you? Knowing you have the good fortune to be born a Muslim, why do you behave like a Hindu? We do not even accept rice touched by a Hindu. Yet you want to ignore your high birth and become a low-caste Hindu? To discard your own race, land and religion for another is perverted. How do you expect to attain the liberated platform if you behave like this? I have decided to punish you according to the mandates of the Koran so that you will be freed from your sins."
Srila Haridasa Thakura patiently listened to the threats and accusations of the Nawab, recognizing his words as the illusory potency of the Supreme Lord Visnu. Without any apprehension, Haridasa simply smiled at the Nawab and spoke in a sweet soothing voice, "My dear Sir, there is only one God for all living entities. The difference between the Muslim God and the Hindu God is in name only. According to knowledgeable Hindus and Muslims, and according to every scripture, be it Koran or Purana, God is one. He is the non-dual, eternal, transcendental and absolute Truth, infallible and perfectly complete, and in that capacity He resides in everyone's heart.
"The omnipotent Lord is the supreme controller of everything. The living entity is moved by the desire of the Supreme Lord, and they act and work only according to the Lord's design. The Supreme Lord's transcendental name, activities, qualities, associates and abode, etc. are glorified according to different classes of spiritual instruction. But irrespective of the manner in which He is worshiped, the Lord accepts everyone's individual mood of surrender towards Him. However, if one living entity feels hatred or envy toward another, they ultimately reflect those emotions in their relationship with the Lord. Whatever you see of me and my activities are direct manifestations of the Lord who guides me from within.
"Looking at it from another perspective, a person may be born in a family of brahmanas but despite their high birth they demonstrate the perverted behavior of a fourth-class uncultured person. What can the Hindus do with such a person? They are forced to act in degrading ways because of their innate propensities, and they accordingly suffer or enjoy the reactions of these activities. What could be achieved by punishing them for activities which are an intrinsic part of their nature? My dear respected Sir, please consider these points seriously, and if you still find me guilty then punish me."
The Muslim courtiers were sincerely moved by the honesty of Haridasa Thakura's words and presence. But his wisdom could not penetrate the envious and sinful heart of the Qazi who turned to the Nawab and instructed, "You must punish this man! He is evil and mischievous. Others will fall under his influence and become equally sinful. He will disgrace our Muslim religion and community. Therefore he must be appropriately punished. If he wants to be excused, then let him preach from his own scripture."
The Nawab tried again, "My friend, just speak from your own scripture and accept the path. Then you will have nothing to fear. Otherwise, the Qazi presently will force me to punish you; they will revile and insult you. Why should you let that happen?"
"Whatever the Supreme Lord desires is destined to happen; there is no one who can check it," replied Haridasa. Each one of us suffers according to the degree of our previous offenses. You should know without a doubt that you are merely an instrument of the Lord's desire. Even if my body is cut into pieces and I lose my life, I will never give up chanting the Lord's holy name."
The Nawab heard the fearless reply of Srila Haridasa Thakura and turned to the Qazi, "Now what is your decision about him?"
"Lash him in twenty-two market places until he dies," replied the envious Qazi. "There is no other judgment I find appropriate. If he lives despite the punishment, then I will conclude that our big scholar has spoken the truth."
The sentries were called in, and the orders boomed out, "Lash him until he breathes his last breath! The sin a Muslim incurs by becoming a Hindu can only be punished by death!"
The Qazi's envious designs had fructified in the heart of the Nawab, and Srila Haridasa was dragged away by the sentries. From one market place to another they beat him mercilessly, their black hearts consumed by hate for the pure devotee of the Lord. But Haridasa was a pure soul, completely surrendered to the Supreme Lord, so he faithfully chanted Lord Krsna's holy name. So absorbed was he in the fervent chanting that he did not feel any pain.
Goodhearted and pious people could not bear to see the torture inflicted on such an innocent person. Some begged the sentries to stop while others predicted, "If they continue to torture this good man, the entire kingdom will be ruined." Many of them cursed the king to die, while some tried to stop the sentries physically. One person threw himself at the feet of the sentries and pleaded, "I will give you any reward you like if you stop this merciless beating." But none of these protests evoked the slightest mercy from the sentries who continued to drag Srila Haridasa Thakura from one market place to another, lashing him relentlessly.
By the grace of Lord Krsna, Haridasa felt little pain in his body. Just like Prahlada in the Srimad-Bhagavatam who was tortured by demons, Haridasa never suffered at all. Not only was Haridasa freed from his pain, whoever remembers this story of Srila Haridasa will also be saved from the miseries of life. Throughout his ordeal, Haridasa's one emotion was pity for the sentries. "O Lord Krsna, please be merciful upon these poor souls so they may not be punished because of me."
Nothing could stop the insensitive sentries who were determined to see their assignment through to its deathly end. Yet for all their beating, Haridasa showed no signs of distress as he was absorbed in remembering the holy name of Lord Krsna. At last the guards had to stop in amazement. "How can a human being survive such a brutal beating? Any ordinary man would have died after the beating we gave in the first two or three market places. We have lashed him continuously through twenty-two market places and he still shows no sign of either pain or death. Occasionally he looks up to smile at us." They concluded that he must be a saintly person.
"Oh Haridasa," they pleaded. "Because of you we shall certainly be punished. When the Qazi sees that despite our beating you are still alive, he shall certainly kill us instead."
"If my survival brings such terrible misfortune to you," replied Haridasa, "then I shall definitely give up my body. Just see how I die."
Srila Dasa Thakura immediately fell into trance. A pure devotee of the Supreme Lord possesses all mystic power so without any hesitation, Srila Hari dasa fell lifeless, without a trace of breath. The Muslim sentries were astonished but gladly brought the body of Srila Haridasa to the Nawab. When the Nawab ordered the sentries to bury him, the Qazi protested, "No, if he is buried he will be saved and ultimately gain entrance into heaven. Although he got the high birth of a Muslim, he behaved like a low Hindu. Therefore it is proper for him to be thrown into the Ganga to suffer eternally like the other lost Hindus. By being buried he would become elevated and freed from his sin."
On the Qazi's order the sentries picked up the body of Haridasa Thakur and carried it to the Ganga. Hari dasa remained in his deathly trance, meditating on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The spirit of Lord Krsna then descended into the body of Srila Thakura, and he became so heavy that it was impossible to move him. The strongest sentries came forward to push him into the waters, but he remained in deep trance and could not be moved. Haridasa had already drowned in the ocean of love of Lord Krsna, and he had no perception of the world around him. He knew not if he were still embodied, or wandering somewhere in the universe, or deep in the water of the Ganga. Just like Prahlad Maharaja, Haridasa Thakur had the spiritual ability to constantly remember the Supreme Lord. Such an extraordinary capability was not surprising, for Haridasa's heart was the permanent residence of Lord Gauracandra.
This entire episode with Srila Haridasa Thakura is a replication of the heroic activities of Sri Hanuman in Sri Lanka. Indrajit, Ravana's son had sent the Brahmastra, a weapon given to him by Lord Brahma, to capture Hanuman.
Hanuman could easily have escaped it, but to show respect to the potency of Lord Brahma, Hanuman allowed himself to be bound by the Brahmastra. Similarly, Srila Haridasa Thakura could have escaped the punishment of the Muslims, but by allowing them to torture him, he taught the world a lesson: despite the extreme miseries of life, one must never stop chanting the name of Krsna.
Dasa Thakura was directly protected by the Supreme Lord Krsna, Govinda, therefore who could harm him? If one simply remembers the name of Haridasa - not to mention his terrible ordeal at the hands of the Muslims - they become free from their own pain and misery. Most certainly Srila Haridasa Thakura was one of the closest and most important associates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Caitanya Candra.
Haridasa floated downstream on the currents of the Ganga, and after some time he became conscious by the Lord's desire. Fully awakened and overwhelmed with ecstasy, he climbed the bank of the Ganga and proceeded toward Phulia, loudly chanting the name of Krsna as he walked. When the Muslims saw Srila Haridasa they were convinced that he possessed extraordinary mystic powers. Pure, happy feelings replaced the envy and hate in their hearts. They offered him obeisances, worshiping him as a very saintly person. By this worship the Muslims became free from material entanglement. In the presence of the Nawab, Haridasa stopped chanting and smiled compassionately at the Muslim ruler who was standing respectfully with folded hands.
In a humble and meek voice the Nawab said, "I can now understand that you truly are a saintly person. You have realized the Absolute Truth, and you have seen the one Supreme Lord everywhere and in everyone. Absolute knowledge and liberation - of which the mystic yogis and philosophers proudly boast - has been easily attained by you because you are a perfect human being. I have come just to see you, simply to beg forgiveness. Kindly forgive me for the offenses I have committed against you. Because you see everyone equally, you have neither friends nor enemies; there is no one in the entire world who can actually grasp your extraordinary position. You are a free man in every respect. You may stay wherever you wish - in a lonely hut or a cave on the bank of the river Ganga. But please be merciful upon those of us who have committed this great offense against you."
Everyone - whether elevated or wretched - automatically forgets about mundane life when they see the lotus feet of Srila Haridasa Thakura. The Muslims had been angry enough to kill him, yet they were transformed and they worshiped his feet, accepting him as a holy man. After forgiving and blessing them, Haridasa went to Phulia.
With the holy name resounding from his lips, he reached an assembly of brahmanas near Phulia. The brahmanas were overjoyed by his arrival and they joined him in a roaring kirtan. As he danced in their midst, he felt ecstatic joy sweep through his body; crying, shivering, laughing, falling unconscious, swelling with horripilation, and roaring loudly, he fell to the ground totally immersed in love of God. The brahmanas could not contain their unbounded joy.
After some time, Srila Hari Dasa calmed himself and spoke to the brahmanas who sat around him, "My dear brahmana friends, do not feel sad because of what happened to me. This punishment was certainly due me. I stood in the court and listened to the Muslims blaspheme my Lord; for this the Lord has punished me suitably. I am really very happy because my punishment should have been more severe; the Lord let me off very easily. One goes to hell if he hears blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. My sinful ears were filled with such blasphemy, and the Lord has given me the proper punishment so that I may never commit this offense again."
Srila Haridasa passed his time relishing the nectar of the holy name and giving his enlightened association to the brahmanas. Those Muslims who tortured Dasa Thakura, and their families as well, were all eventually destroyed. Haridasa left the village and moved into a cave on the banks of the river Ganga where he maintained himself on the sweetness of the holy name and the memory of the pastimes of the Supreme Lord.
Daily he chanted a minimum of three hundred thousand names of Krsna. By the influence of the transcendental sound of the holy name and the holy presence of Srila Haridasa Thakura, the cave was transformed into a Vaikuntha planet of the spiritual sky.
In Haridasa's cave lived a large and poisonous snake who emitted such strong vapors that not a soul could remain in the cave for more than a moment. People from the village came every day to visit Haridasa, but they could not stay long enough to speak with him. Although the visitors were all driven away by the poisonous air, Haridasa was completely oblivious to the presence of the snake.
The brahmanas consulted one another about the foul air in the cave, and then discussed the matter with some Ayurvedic physicians in Phulia. After some research they determined that a poisonous snake had indeed built its home under Haridasa's cave.
The physicians felt strongly that Haridasa should vacate his cave, for living with such a snake was improper. They joined the brahmanas and approached Haridasa to explain the situation. "Because of the vapors from a poisonous snake living underneath your cave, no one can remain here," they explained. "You should also vacate this place and find a suitable cave to live in."
"I have been living in this cave for a long time, and I have never been inconvenienced by these vapors you speak of," replied Haridasa. "But if none of you can remain in the cave and it causes you such distress, then I shall leave here tomorrow. If it is true that a snake lives here, and if he doesn't leave by tomorrow, then I shall certainly go. I can assure you that one of us will leave this cave by tomorrow. Please do not worry about this problem any longer. I am concerned that all of you not waste your time in futile, mundane talks; every moment should be utilized discussing topics on Krsna consciousness."
In the course of this discussion, a miracle occurred. Evening had gradually descended around the brahmanas and Haridasa - when the snake slithered out of its hole. Its huge, frightening body, crossed with effulgent red, yellow and blue stripes and crowned with a brilliant gem, slid quietly past the brahmanas and left the cave forever.
Its appearance was both awesome and attractive, and as it slithered past, the brahmanas remembered Krsna as their only shelter. After the snake left, the burning sensation from the poisonous air also vanished, and all the brahmanas were satisfied. Their faith in the extraordinary spiritual potency of Haridasa Thakura swelled for they understood that the snake had left because of Haridasa's assurance to the visitors. Simply the sight of Haridasa dissipates one's innate nescience and material entanglements. Out of His love for Haridasa, the Supreme Lord never minimizes or neglects Haridasa's words.
There is another similar incident related by a snake charmer. One day in the courtyard of a rich man's house this snake charmer was performing a snake dance. He was chanting a special mantra accompanied by musicians playing the mrdanga and mandira.
Haridasa was passing by and stood to one side watching the snake dance. Although the snake charmer was an ordinary human being, by the influence of his mantra he could dance as though he were possessed by the spirit of the king of the snakes, Ananta Sesa. With an enchanting melody he sang about the pastime of Lord Krsna in the lake called Kalidasha where the Lord vanquished an evil serpent called Kaliya.
Haridasa listened intently to the pastime of his beloved Lord Krsna, and suddenly moved by ecstasy, he fell unconscious to the ground. When he regained consciousness, he jumped to his feet and roared like a lion, dancing in ecstasy as he babbled with joy. The snake charmer was impressed by Haridasa's manifestation of ecstatic symptoms, and stood respectfully to the side. As the various symptoms of horripilation, crying and shivering traversed his body, he rolled in the dust, crying in love for Krsna. He remembered how his beloved Lord had mercifully saved the snake Kaliya, and as he floated in ecstatic trance, the people around him obliged by singing songs about the wonderful pastimes of the Lord. The snake charmer simply stood to the side, overcome by awe and reverence for Haridasa. When his ecstasy subsided, Haridasa left and the snake charmer resumed his performance.
Everyone who witnessed the ecstasy of Haridasa felt spiritually exhilarated and they smeared their bodies with dust from his feet. However, one cunning and deceitful brahmana in the crowd decided to cheat the people. "I will also dance here," he told himself. "I can see that the people are not very intelligent. They are offering so much respect to this low-born Haridasa just because he dances and cries. If I, a brahmana also dance and cry they will certainly worship me as well."
The brahmana threw himself on the ground and feigned unconsciousness as though he had fallen into trance. But as soon as he touched the ground, the dancing snake charmer became furious, and picked up a stick and began beating the brahmana relentlessly. He struck him again and again on every part of his body until the brahmana, howling in agony, got up and ran away just to save his life. The snake charmer then resumed his dance while the entire crowd stood dumbfounded. At last, a man with folded hands humbly requested the snake charmer to explain why he had stood respectfully to the side while Haridasa danced, yet he had beaten the brahmana for what seemed to be the same activity.
The spirit of Ananta Sesa who dwelt within the snake charmer then spoke in glorification of Srila Dasa Thakura. "The subject matter of your inquiry is very confidential. Although such a topic is rarely discussed because of its highly esoteric nature, I shall nevertheless answer your question. When Srila Dasa Thakura was dancing in ecstatic trance, each one of us felt our respect and affection for him spontaneously increase. But the deceitful brahmana was simply imitating Haridasa in order to get some cheap adoration from the crowd.
"Not out of love for Krsna, but out of enviousness toward a pure devotee, the brahmana threw himself on the ground and feigned ecstasy. Furthermore, he interrupted my dancing. Because he disturbed me and tried to imitate the pure devotee, I punished him severely.
"This arrogant and deceitful brahmana has no love for Krsna. To receive the shelter of devotional service at the lotus feet of Lord Krsna, one has to become pure; free from deceit. By seeing Srila Haridasa Thakura dance one becomes liberated from material bondage. Even the Supreme Lord, Krsna Himself dances when He sees Srila Dasa Thakura dance. The entire universe becomes cleansed of all sinful reactions just by seeing Srila Haridasa dance. He is truly worthy of his name - Haridasa Thakura, the servant of the Supreme Lord Hari, Krsna who shines eternally like a full moon in the heart of His devotee.
"Haridasa is affectionate and compassionate towards all living entities, and he descends as the eternal servant of the Supreme Lord in each of the Lord's incarnations. He is totally free from any fault or offense towards the Supreme Lord or His devotees. Even in his dreams he never commits an offense. A moment's association with Haridasa can purify any living entity and assure them the eternal shelter of Lord Krsna's lotus feet. Even Lord Brahma and Lord Siva constantly desire his association.
"Haridasa appeared in the family of a lowly Muslim on the order of the Supreme Lord, just to teach human society that material designations like caste, creed, birth status, and family position are all illusory, and pursuing them is futile. If a pure devotee of the Lord is born in a low-class family, they are no less worthy of worship; that is the injunction of the scriptures. On the other hand, if someone is born in a sophisticated family but does not worship the lotus feet of Sri Krsna, then their high birth is useless for they live just like a resident of hell.
"Just to prove the truth of these scriptures, Srila Haridasa took birth in a low-caste family. Prahlad Maharaja, one of the greatest devotees of the Lord, had previously appeared in a family of demons, and Hanuman, the greatest devotee of Lord Ramacandra, took birth in the monkey species. Similarly, Srila Haridasa appeared in a family of Muslims.
"The demigods desire the touch of the pure and transcendental form of Srila Hari dasa Thakura, and Mother Ganga also prays that her water will be sanctified by his presence. But one need not touch Srila Dasa Thakura; simply by seeing him, one is automatically freed from the eternal cycle of birth and death. Furthermore, one who sees a devotee who has taken shelter at the lotus feet of Srila Haridasa Thakura is also granted freedom from material bondage. Neither a thousand mouths nor a thousand ears would be sufficient to describe and hear the wonderful qualities of Srila Haridasa. You are a fortunate soul for your inquiry gave me an opportunity to glorify the pure devotee and gave you the opportunity to hear the transcendental topic. From the moment a person speaks the name of Srila Haridasa Thakura, his ascension to the supreme abode of Lord Krsna is guaranteed."
Nagaraj, the snake charmer, then fell silent. The assembled brahmanas and pious gentlemen felt thoroughly satisfied by his glorification of Srila Haridasa. Of course, Ananta Sesa is a pure Vaisnava devotee of the Supreme Lord and is always engaged in glorifying the Lord and His devotees; this was not his first occasion to describe the outstanding qualities of Haridasa. The assembly accepted the Nagaraja's appraisal of Haridasa, and the love each person felt for Haridasa increased.
Srila Haridasa was a pure devotee of Lord Caitanya and although Sri Gauracandra was yet to reveal the process of devotional service to the Supreme Lord, Haridasa continued to demonstrate his love for Sri Krsna. People in general were disinterested in the process of devotional service, and they could not understand the purpose behind chanting the holy name of God. Because of a general apathy toward the holy name, the mood of devotional service was absent.
People taunted and jeered at the Vaisnavas who engaged in kirtan, so the saintly devotees assembled in a quiet spot away from everyone where they could sing and dance undisturbed. Even then, atheistic people angrily condemned them. "These degraded brahmanas will completely destroy this entire country," they complained. "All this loud, sentimental singing and dancing will probably cause a famine in the land. These emotionalists sing like this just to fill their bellies, not realizing that Lord Visnu takes rest during these four months of the rainy season. They will just disturb Him, and in irritation He will send some natural calamity. Can't these fools understand the disaster they could cause?"
Another man threatened, "If there is an increase in the price of food grains, then I will catch them one by one and beat them soundly."
"It may be proper to chant loudly on the night of Ekadasi, but what is the use of this daily recitation of Govinda's names?" questioned another irritated atheist.
The devotees felt genuine compassion for the atheistic people, and despite their harassment, the devotees continued the kirtans. Srila Haridasa was one of those sincere devotees who felt sorry to see that the majority of the people in society were not the least inclined toward devotional service. He continued his loud chanting of Krsna's holy name which the extremely sinful people in society found unbearable.
Once in a village named Hari Nadi, an arrogant brahmana offended Srila Haridasa. He shouted angrily, "Hey Haridasa, why do you behave like this? Why must you chant so loudly? The actual injunction is to chant softly in your mind. Which scripture instructs you to chant loudly? Who has taught you this type of religious practice? Here is an assembly of scholars; you can ask them about the correct method of worship."
Srila Haridasa humbly replied, "I do not know the scriptural conclusions about the glories of the holy name of God. You must certainly know more than I. I can only repeat what I have heard from scholars like yourself. The principle effect of chanting the name of God loudly is that it purifies the soul one thousand times more than any other form of worship. Nowhere in the scriptures is loud chanting of the holy name condemned; on the contrary, there are excellent benefits which have been described in many places. In one scripture it says that loud chanting of Lord Krsna's name is a thousand times better than silent chanting."
"Why is the result of loud chanting magnified a thousand times over any other process?" demanded the brahmana.
"My dear Sir, please listen to the conclusions of the Vedas and Srimad-Bhagavatam." As Srila Haridasa spoke, he floated in the ocean of love of Krsna and his explanations capsulized the essence of all scriptures. "O brahmana, please try to understand that when any living entity - be it human, animal, insect or bird - hears the holy name chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord, they go directly to the spiritual world, Vaikuntha, after leaving this body.
"In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, tenth canto, chapter thirty-four, verse seventeen, it says: 'O Lord, when your name is chanted by the unalloyed devotee who has been purified by the touch of Your lotus feet, and that holy name is heard even once by any living entity, it can immediately purify both the chanter and the listener.' There is nothing disputable in the matter of the unalloyed devotee purifying other living entities. Lower species which do not possess the ability to chant the Lord's name can be liberated simply by hearing the name chanted by a pure devotee.
"One who chants the holy name to themself liberates themself only, but one who chants the Lord's name loudly liberates anyone who hears it. The sound of the Lord's name is beneficial for everyone. Therefore the scriptures all assert that loud chanting of the Lord's name is a thousand times more effective than any other religious process.
"Again, in the Naradiya Purana there is a quote from Prahlada Maharaja saying, 'I see perfect logic in the fact that a person who chants the Lord's name loudly is a thousand times more pious than a person who chants to themself. One who chants softly liberates only themself, while one who chants loudly liberates themself and any other living entity who hears their chanting.'
"O brahmana, listen carefully. It is easy to understand that a person who acts for the benefit of the entire society including the lower animals is certainly on a higher religious platform than a person who is simply concerned with their own liberation. Only the human being has been endowed with the capacity to utter the Lord's name; an animal cannot.
"If loud chanting can liberate these unfortunate animals who otherwise have no hope for liberation, then what is the harm in chanting loudly? A selfish person is interested in their own welfare, but a selfless devotee is concerned with everyone's welfare. If you understand this, you can easily determine who is on the higher platform. I must emphasize that loud chanting of the Lord's holy name is the most efficient type of chanting."
The foolish brahmana became even more infuriated by the unequivocal instructions of Srila Haridasa. He angrily retorted, "O Haridasa, you have now become the master of the Vedas. It seems you have propounded the seventh philosophical thought - the other six having been destroyed with the passing of time. It has been prophesied in the Vedas that at the end of Kali yuga, a low born sudra will propagate the Vedas. But I see it already happening right before me. What is the need to wait for the end of the Kali Yuga? You deceive everyone by acting like a holy man, but all you do is visit the homes of householders and fill your belly. If I find your explanations unauthorized or unbonafide according to shastra, then I will cut off your ears and nose."
Completely equipoised, Srila Haridasa simply smiled at the harsh, revengeful words of the fallen brahmana. Without another word, he walked away, chanting loudly the Lord's holy name. The scholars of the assembly were as sinful as that vicious brahmana for they neither accepted the correct, bonafide explanations of Srila Thakura nor did they condemn the offensive words of the wretched brahmana. Those men were brahmanas in name only, while in actuality they were demons; their residence was Hell and they suffered untold misery in the hands of Yamaraja, the demigod of death. In Kali yuga the demons will be born as brahmanas who harass and offend pious people.
The Varaha Purana says, "In the Kali yuga, demons find shelter in brahmana families and torture the transcendentalists who are rare souls." All the scriptures have strictly forbidden us to touch, hear or worship persons who live in the guise of a brahmana; one simply becomes contaminated by their contact. In the Padma Purana it is mentioned, "There is no need for a detailed explanation: those brahmanas who are not devotees of the Lord should neither be respected nor touched by anyone." Meeting a non-devotee brahmana is as contaminating as meeting a low-born dog-eater; on the other hand, a pure devotee of the Lord, born in any family or any class, can purify the entire universe.
A few days after this incident with Srila Haridasa, the fallen brahmana contracted such a severe case of smallpox that his nose fell off. He was justly punished by Krsna for his offenses against the Vaisnava saint. Haridasa sighed in deep depression over the sad state of the human society which was engrossed in mundane life.
For a long time he had desired the association of other pure devotees, so he went to Navadvipa where the Vaisnavas were overjoyed to see him. Sri Advaita Acarya Prabhu grasped him to His chest in a loving embrace, and the other devotees showered their affections upon him, and he too reciprocated their emotions. The atheists continued their offensive criticisms of the devotees, while the Vaisnavas continued their transcendental discussions of the subjects in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Anyone who listens with faith and devotion to these narrations will find eternal shelter at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Sri Gauracandra.
Sri Krsna Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu are my life and soul.
I, Vrndavana dasa, humbly offer this song at Their lotus feet.