From the book "Sree Krishna-Chaitanya by Professor Sanyal
[In Part I, Professor Sanyal has described how Thakur Haridas was accosted by a harlot, at the instigation of Ramchandra Khan. Instead of falling to the woman's wiles, however, the Thakur converted her to the path of Krishna Consciousness.]
The immoral life that was being actually led by the harlot did not stand in the way of her redemption. The point is made absolutely clear by the fact that she went to Thakur Haridas for the purpose of seducing him. This shows also that her instinctive faith in sadhus was not coloured by any conventional moral sentiments. This was an adventure. Too rigid empiric morality obstructs spiritual awakening more effectively than even confirmed immorality. This is due to want of humility and spirit of submission to the sadhu that is sure to be engendered more or less by the dogmatic professor of conventional morality. True morality is never possible prior to spiritual awakening. That which passes as morality in the society of worldlings, is only a hypocritical, and, therefore more dangerous form of immorality. The moral instinct proper, which belongs to the soul, must not be confounded with this hypocritical immorality and its conventions. The harlot was not hampered by the conventions of a hypocritical morality. She possessed an open mind with a natural liking for the society of really pure souls, although she herself was actually leading a life that is condemned by moralists. But as it is not possible for a person to be really and fully moral before he realizes the nature of his true self, the case of the harlot, instead of being worse, was in certain respects better than that of the conventional moralist who is rigidly committed to the casuistical defence of the unspiritual life that he actually leads.
It is not, of course, intended to undervalue the principle of morality in any way. That instinct, in its pure form, as in the case of every other instinct, belongs to the soul. The form in which it passes current in the world is only the perverted reflection of the real principle and is not conducive to spiritual life. Its apparent advantages are strictly confined to this perverted existence. Whatever tends to reconcile us to the worldly life, stands self-condemned for that very reason. Empiric morality is fully open to this charge of pandering to the unspiritual life. As a matter of fact neither conventional morality nor conventional immorality are praised by the sadhus, as, by themselves, they stand without any relation to the Truth. As soon as our conduct gets related to the Truth it assumes its natural state which has nothing to do with either the conventional moral or immoral principle of this world. To call spiritual conduct merely moral in the ordinary conventional sense of the world, would, therefore, be wholly misleading. Spiritual conduct is no doubt perfectly wholesome, being free from all affinity with the unwholesome things of this world. The so-called 'moral' conduct based on worldly experience owes all its value to its worldly utility. This fact categorically differentiates spiritual 'purity' from worldly morality. There is, of course, no possibility of immoral conduct on the spiritual plane. In the absence of all possibility of immorality there is no scope for worldly morality in the realm of the Absolute. The Kingdom of Godhead accommodates all varieties of conduct by endowing all of them with perfect wholesomeness. Can such conduct be appropriately called 'moral' in the conventional sense of the term?
For instance, the trade of the harlot is in this world generally held to be utterly immoral. Is it possible for the 'ethical' mind to conceive of a state of existence that is infinitely higher than any conceivable worldly moral excellence?
Those fanatics who, grossly misunderstanding the nature of the subject treated by the spiritual Scriptures, set up as orthodox and uncompromising 'believers' in the 'letter' of the Scriptural texts and try to 'reform' the 'abuses' of this world by immoral regulations that are profanely attributed to Godhead Himself on the strength of such silly and mischievous interpretation, deserve to be put into the pound in the company of those 'innocent' creatures that are mercifully denied the quality of voicing their 'notions' for harming everybody. There are hypocritical pedants who affect to hold up their nose at the very sound of the name of a harlot and forthwith prescribe penitential punishment of the most atrocious kind for reforming their morals in 'obedience' to the injunctions of the Holy Scriptures. The Devil is also permitted to quote the Scriptures for his purposes.
Fanatics and hypocrites were in possession of the stage of the tragic drama of worldly life at the time when Thakur Haridas emerged before the bewildered vision of those pseudo-religionists and began to supply by his actual conduct the real explanation of the only purpose of all the Scriptures, by electing the harlot as the fittest and the very first object of the Divine Grace. He was naturally opposed by the renegade Brahmana Ramchandra Khan, who, in order to exploit the letter of the Scriptures for the accomplishment of his villainy, gave it out as his 'duty' to put down by all means a Muhammedan who had the temerity to set up as the expounder of the Shastras of the Hindus!
This brings us to the principle of hereditary caste. The teaching of the Shastras belongs exclusively to the twice-born. The Shastras themselves lay down elaborate rules by which to constitute the community of the Brahmanas who are to be the only teachers of them. This last part of the system had been allowed to pass out of the memory of the people, and, in its place, had been substituted by gradual and insidious steps and by general connivance, the principle of heredity. The hereditary Brahmanas by the strict Shastric test are no Brahmanas at all. Ramchandra Khan was the champion of this corrupt system, not for any real regard born of sincere conviction for the merits of the system itself or from any knowledge of the Shastras, but, as it always happens in such cases, from malice and insolence.
If Haridas Thakur would practice the function strictly reserved for hereditary Brahmanas then the whole system of caste based upon the principle of heredity is challenged at its source. If a Muhammedan can become a Brahmana. the present social system of the Hindus, which is claimed to be part and parcel of the Religion, is utterly demolished. This was bound to agitate profoundly all caste-Hindus.
Nor was this all. The chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna was also practiced with a loud voice. This was an entirely novel mode of worship to the Hindus of that time. The new out-caste apostle of the eternal religion, in opposition to all current rituals and forms of worship, was declaring to admiring Hindus an apparently new form of worship as the one enjoined by theShastras. Could all the contemporaneous Hindus be so utterly mistaken that they required to be imparted ab initio the knowledge of the fundamentals of their own religion by a Muhammedan, against the teaching of all the hereditary Brahmanas, the exclusive teachers of the same by the rules of the Shastras themselves?
It is quite easy to imagine the intense consternation and hostility that were naturally aroused in an Age of casuistical fanaticism by the preaching of the simple doctrines of the Religion of the Truth. The chanting of the Holy Name of Godhead is the only sacrament of the true religion prescribed for the present Age. This simplification is in keeping with the spirit of all the other sacraments authorised by the Shastras. The other sacraments are not suitable for this Age which is too addicted to sceptical argumentation ad nauseum. As soon as one realises the true nature of the soul, all his activities are thencefoward naturally and necessarily performed on the spiritual plane. The narrow ceremonial view of the sacrament is due to the imperfect spiritual vision of the observer. The sacrament may, therefore, differ in the different Ages in its external appearance, which is, however, the only view that is open to the novice for whose special benefit it is ordained.
The chanting of the Holy Name is liable to the least objection even as sacrament, from a casuistical Age. The Mercy of Godhead must be sought willingly, nay with the keenest hankering that is born of positive liking, for obtaining real touch with Him in order to serve Him by means of the spiritual senses of the pure soul.
The sacrament implies a real mutual personal relationship between the Lord and His servant. It is definite, concrete and loving, but in the spiritual (not abstract, notional or concocted i. e., purely mental) sense. The personality, senses and functions of the soul are not comprehensible to, nor admissible by the mind. The mental refusal to recognise the substantive existence of the soul, is the greatest curse of this Age of dogmatic empiricism. This piece of dogmatism must be got rid of.
The empiric reason is confronted to a fight at its own weapons when it is summoned to admit the rationale of the worship of Godhead by means of His Name only. The Name of Godhead must not also be supposed to connote or denote anything of this world, in no shape, neither as precept nor concept. This should in all conscience more than satisfy the passion for abstraction of even the Moslem iconoclast.
The next point is that the Name of Godhead must be admitted as true and not as a mere concoction of the material mind. The Scriptural Name of Godhead is not a thing of this world. The Scriptural Name is Himself Divine. The Scriptural Name requires to be served with the tongue by an attitude of humble supplication for manifesting His Divine Nature to the pure serving essence of our soul. Even the most rabid iconoclast need have no cause of complaint against such service. It is this pure service that was practiced by Thakur Haridas, which, he maintained, was the only sacrament enjoined by the Scriptures as suitable for this Age of wrangling sophistry (Kali Yuga.) The implications of this position will be more fully developed in course of this Narrative at the proper stages.
As the service of Godhead is the eternal function of the individual soul in the state of grace, it transcends all mental and physical activities. The Shastras accordingly reserve the service of Godhead to those who are twice-born. The terms Brahmana (one who has knowledge of Godhead as the Great) and Dwija (twice-born) applied to persons who are eligible for the service of Godhead, refer to the individual soul in the state of grace and not to caste. If Thakur Haridas be regarded as a Moslem born, it is then the physical body that is denoted by the Name Thakur Haridas. If Ramchandra Khan claimed to be a Brahmana on the strength of his seminal birth in a Brahmana(?) family, he also supposed his physical body to be Brahmana. The objection of Ramchandra Khan to Thakur Haridas, on the strength of such foolish interpretation of theShastras, was met by Thakur Haridas with pity and indifference. Ramchandra Khan did not possess the good fortune of the harlot, whom he made the dupe of his deviltries, to be enabled to listen to the Holy Name of Godhead from the lips of Thakur Haridas. A Brahmana, who claims to be such by right of seminal birth, is less fit for spiritual service than even an open-minded harlot.
From Fulia, Thakur Haridas moved off to Chandpur. The village of Chandpur was situated in the present District of Hughly in the neighbourhood of Tribeni. Balaram and Jadunandan Acharyas, the purohits (family-priests) of Hiranya and Gobardhan Mazumdars of Tribeni, had their residence in the village of Chandpur which lay to the east of Tribeni. The word 'Mazumdar' is the equivalent of 'Majmu adar', the title of an accountant of the royal revenues under the Nawabs. Balaram Acharya was the disciple of Thakur Haridas and regarded himself as his servant. Haridas stayed with Balaram Acharya in the latter's house. Balaram Acharya with great care made arrangements for the residence of the Thakur in the village. Haridas lived there in a hut and accepted the alms of food at the house of Balaram Acharya. The boy Raghunath Das, son of Bobardhan, was at this time studying under Balaram Acharya. Raghunath used to go to Thakur Haridas for a sight of the saint. Haridas was merciful to the boy. Thakur Haridas's mercy was the cause of subsequent attainment of spiritual enlightenment by Raghunath Das. The following event occurred while Thakur Haridas was staying at Chandpur.
One day Balaram Acharya, by his humble supplications, induced Thakur Haridas to repair to a gathering at the house of the Mazumdars. The two brothers stood up on seeing the Thakur and, falling at his feet, offered him a seat with great respect. There was present in the assembly a very large number of Pandits, Brahmanas, and other worthy people. The two brothers Hiranya and Gobardhana were also very learned persons. All present spoke highly in praise of Thakur Haridas. This met with the hearty approval of the brothers. It was known to all that the Thakur recited the Holy Name three lakhs (300, 000) of times daily. The Pandits accordingly talked about the greatness of the Name as Thakur Haridas assumed his seat in their midst.
Some of the Pandits said that the cure of all sinfulness automatically results from uttering the Name of Godhead. Others expressed the view that the individual soul (jiva) is freed from the miseries of this life by uttering the Name. Haridas declared that those two were not proper fruits of chanting of the Name. Love to the Feet of Krishna is aroused by taking of the Name. Haridas said that the condition of a person who realises such love is described in a sloka of the Bhagawatam (Bhag. 11.2.35). "A person, who is habituated to serve Krishna in the ways enunciated above (viz., hearing, chanting, etc.,) loses all control over his mind and, by reason of realising the quality of love by chanting the Name of Krishna, experiences an anxious restlessness of the heart. He loses all consideration for the opinion of the people and laughs, cries, shouts, sings and dances at intervals." Salvation and destruction of sinfulness are only attendant results "Just as the rising of the Sun dispels all darkness, so also no sooner does the Name of Hari manifests Himself than He forthwith destroys all the sins of the persons who utters His Name."
Haridas requested the Pandits present to explain the above sloka. All the Pandits desired Thakur Haridas to elucidate its meaning to them. Haridas who had recited the sloka now said that even before the Sun actually begins to appear darkness is dispelled by his approaching light and the fear from thieves, ghosts and demons is also destroyed; and, on his actual appearance, all useful activities begin to be performed. In like manner sins and other evils are destroyed by the reflected light of the approaching Sunrise of the full manifestation of the Name; while, on the actual appearance of the Name, love to the Feet of Krishna is aroused. Salvation is a trivial result which is effected by the dim reflection cast by the Name as His Appearance draws nigh. The devotee does not wish to accept salvation which is at first offered by Krishna. Haridas quoted the two following slokas of the Bhagawatam in support of his contention (Bhag. 6.3.42; 5.19.2): "If the dying Ajamila could attain to the realm of the Vaikuntha by calling upon Hari, which happened to be the name of his son, who can estimate the effect if the Name is chanted with faith?" "My own," says Krishna, "Never accept the different forms of salvation, e. g., attainment of My realm, attainment of power and wealth and fame similar to Mine, the privileges of dwelling near Me, even the favour of becoming one with Myself; all of which privileges I offer them unreservedly. They covet nothing except My service."
Gopal Chakravarti was a Brahmana who belonged to the household of the Mazumdars, being employed to carry letters and money to the king. He had to go up to Gauda and appear before the Padishah himself in connection with the discharge of his official duties. He used to convey twelve lakhs of rupees annually to the king. He was, in his early youth, very handsome and a very good scholar. Gopal lost his patience on hearing that salvation can be obtained by the dim refection of the Name. He then spoke in great anger.
"Pandits who are in assembly here," said Gopal. "All of you have heard the conclusion announced by one whose trade is to amuse people by dance and song. Emancipation, which is unattainable by means of knowledge of the Brahman in crores of births, is held by him to follow automatically the manifestation of the dimmest reflection of the Name."
At this point Haridas entreated Gopal not to entertain any doubt on the subject, as the Shastras themselves declare that liberation from the bondage of the world results at once from the appearance of the dim reflection of the Name. The bliss of liberation is utterly trivial in comparison with the happiness of loving service. It is for this reason that the devotees do not accept liberation. The Thakur then quoted the sloka of Haribhaktisudhodaya (H. Bh. S. 14-31): "Teacher of the universe, to me, immersed in the pure ocean of bliss by meeting Thee, the bliss of the attainment of the knowledge of the Brahman (the Great Nourisher) appears to be as contemptible as the tiny speck of water filling a hole in the ground indented by the hoof of cattle."
The Brahmana now became furious. He shouted out that he would assuredly cut off his nose if liberation does not result from the dim reflection of the Name. On hearing the blasphemy the members of the assembly gave vent to their sorrow at the behaviour of Gopal. Mazumdar reproved him severely. Balaram Acharya expressed his indignation by remarking that the offender was a fool fit only for hair-splitting sophistry and was perfectly ignorant of the principle of devotion. How could he go the length of insulting even Thakur Haridas! He was doomed to perdition beyond all help.
Haridas rose to leave the place as he heard the words of the Brahmana. Mazumdar forthwith severed all his official connection with Gopal and with all the assembled persons fell prostrate at the feet of Thakur Haridas. Haridas smiled and spoke sweet words. He said that none of them had done anything offensive except that Brahmana. The Brahmana was also not to blame. His addiction to controversial discussion was the cause of his strange behaviour. The greatness of the Name is not realisable by futile discussion. How could he, therefore, understand those principles? He then bade them depart to their homes in peace, expressing the wish that no one might come to grief by his connection with himself.
Hiranya-das came back to his house after receiving this assurance of pardon and forbade Gopal to cross his threshold. In course of three days the offending Brahmana was attacked with virulent leprosy. His very prominent nose rapidly melted away. The fingers of his hands and feet, rivalling the champaka buds in their delicacy, all shrivelled up and dissolved away by the corrosive force of the malady. On beholding this all the people were filled with great wonder. They praised Haridas and made obeisance to him with reverence.
Sri Krishna Kaviraj Goswami concludes the above account with the pregnant observation that although Haridas did not feel offended by the conduct of the Brahmana yet did Godhead award the offender the punishment due to his transgression. It is the nature of the devotee of Godhead that he ever pardons the faults of the ignorant. It is Krishna's Nature that He cannot bear any calumniation of His devotees even through ignorance.
Haridas was grieved at heart on hearing of the misery of the Brahmana. He apprised Balaram Acharya of his intention to leave the place and proceed to Shantipur.
The account is prefaced by Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami with the remark that the event narrated is most wonderful for the reason that it contains the clear elucidation, from the lips of the Acharya himself, of the Divine Dispensation of the present Age. The reader must not forget the point, which is the centre of interest of the whole narrative detailed in this work, viz., that Thakur Haridas is the Acharya, or the practicing teacher, authorized by Godhead to promulgate the congregational chanting (Samkirtana) of the Holy Name, which is the mode of worship that alone can demolish the worst form of atheism in the name of 'free' thinking which is unfortunately so prevalent nowadays all over the world; and which is the terrible but inevitable natural consequence of the exclusive worship of Mammon by all the resources of mind and body.
End Part II