~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

— Introduction —

by Bhaktivinoda Thakura

This book is not meant for the faithless materialist. Only those who have developed unflinching faith in Lord Caitanya and in the process of chanting the holy name are eligible candidates to hear the topics discussed in this book. Amongst the different levels of sadhana-bhakti, he who is convinced that all perfections are obtained by chanting the holy name alone is the topmost sadhaka or practitioner. Lord Caitanya has personally instructed this lesson in His Sri Siksastaka. He ordained Srila Haridasa Thakura as the namacarya or spiritual authority on the subject of chanting the holy name of the Lord.

Scrutinizing research of authorized texts has yielded the following facts regarding Srila Haridasa Thakura's life: He was born into a Muslim family living in a village called Budham, near Vanagram in West Bengal. At a very early age, his previous births' spiritual proclivity began to manifest; he took up devotional activities and renounced home and family. He built a small

shack in the forest of Benapol and embarked upon a program of intense chanting and meditation. Some mischievious men were hindering his bhajana there, so he left his shack and and took sanctuary on the banks of the river Ganges. In another incident he was disturbed by unscrupulous men, who sent a young to make him break his spiritual vows. But Srila Haridasa Thakura's chanting had a purifying effect on her; she became a devotee, giving up her old ways. Srila Haridasa Thakura initiated her into harinama, and settling her in his shack in Benapol, he left that area.

Walking along the banks of the Ganges immersed in chanting the holy name, he eventually arrived at Srila Yadunandana Acarya's house in Saptagram. He began to frequent the courts of Hiranya and Goverdhan Mazumdar (father of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami), the landlords of Saptagram. A certain inferiorclass brahmana named Gopal Cakravarty one day challenged Srila Haridasa Thakura's explanations of the glories of the holy name in an abrasive and offensive manner. Hiranya Mazumdar and his brother immediately sacked Gopal Cakravarty from his services. Soon after he contracted leprosy in the throat. On hearing this news Srila Haridasa Thakura was very greatly affected. He left the village and came to Phulia, taking shelter of Advaita Acarya. He lived in a cave on the banks of the Ganges and engrossed himself in chanting and meditation.

A sincere devotee always avoids, even detests, society and fame. But by the force of his purity he cannot remain anonymous. So as his name and reputation spread, the Muslims became envious and agitated. They influenced the local Muslim ruler and had Srila Haridasa Thakura severely beaten in public. Srila Haridasa is a very compassionate saintly soul. He did not blame his tormentors, but blessing them and exonerating them from their offenses, he returned to his cave.