Among the associates of Nityananda Prabhu, the most prominent are the dwadasha gopas, the 12 cowherd-boy associates from GolokaVrindavan who were always in the company of Krishna and Balaram. Kavikaranapur in Gaura-ganodesha-diipika describes how the cowherd boy Subahu appeared as Uddharan Dutta Thakur. He appeared in the year of 1481 in the town of Saptagram. His father is Srikara and mother is Bhadravati. Uddharan Dutta Takur is called by our acaryas as paramaparama patitapavana. That means, he is the deliverer of the most fallen among the most fallen, supremely merciful to the most fallen. Krishnadas Kavirajgoswami says he was the greatest Bhagavat, greatest among the Vaisnavas.- Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami elaborates on Uddaran Dutta Thakur’s lineage
Saptagram was a place of bankers and gold merchants; very wealthy community, but exceedingly materialistic. They are called suvarna-vanik caste. They had lots of money. Sometime before the advent of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda Prabhu, there was a very powerful personality. His name was Ballal Sen and he knew where to get the money from; from the Saptagram community he took big, big loans. From Gouri Sen. What happened was that Gouri Sen saw that Ballal Sen was extravagantly misusing the money. So he decided that he wouldn’t give him any more loans. Ballal Sen was infuriated. He created a whole social conspiracy. He made this whole conspiracy that these suvarna-vaniks were outcastes. They were not brahmans, kshatriyas, vaishyas, hardly shudras. And in doing so he actually succeeded to publicly ostracize the whole community of Saptagram from any respectability. People would look down at them, they were taken away from any religious privileges and they lived under that dark cloud for a long time. Uddharan Dutta Takur, Subahu the cowherd boy from Goloka, took birth in that family. Why? Vrindavan Das Thakur explains that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu especially wanted to teach the world that Krishna Consciousness is not dependent on any external superficial identity. And to make his statement very, very strong he proclaimed the Namacharya to be Haridas Thakur who was born in an outcaste family. Sri Advaita Acarya, who was the head of all Brahmins, most honored and respected, when he performed the Sraddha, all the greatest Brahmins would come to his house – very prestigious event. I am sure his wife Sita Takurani made excellent Prasad too. So everyone was coming – high class scholars, pundits – and in front of all of them he made the highest honors, he worshipped Haridas Takur. A powerful statement! Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu praised Haridas Thakur as if he had many, many mouths; and how he empowered him. So similarly Uddharan Dutta Thakur, he was born in this very, very materialistic class of men who were utterly disrespected from a religious or spiritual perspective.
Because he is a Vaisnav, because of his attachment to Lord Chaitanya, Lord Nityananda Prabhu and the holy name, he not only delivered his entire caste… It is said that a Vaisnav who has a pure heart not only delivers his family, not only delivers his caste but purifies the entire world – not only the entire world, but purifies the entire universe. That is how Krishna manifests through the heart of his devotees. – Radhanath Swami
Radhanath Swami describes Srila Prabhupad’s special connection with Uddharan Dutta Thakur
Srila Prabhupad explains his personal connection to Uddharan Dutta Thakur in the Adi Lila of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita. Would you like to hear? Haribol! Srila Prabhupad explains how in the province of Saptagram there were all these gold merchants and by the mercy of Uddharan Dutta Thakur they all became pure devotees. We are going to discuss that after some time, how that happened.
Prabhupad explained that when the British wanted to establish Calcutta as a city and the capital of the British Empire in India – previously it was Kali Ghat, even now it is Kali Ghat as it was named after that deity, but the British changed it to Calcutta – and in order to establish that city, the British called the gold merchants and bankers from Saptagram to set up their businesses and make their home at Calcutta, which they did. Srila Prabhupad says that half of Calcutta was the people of Saptagram at its initial stages. Then Srila Prabhupad tells how these gold merchants from Saptagram during the Moghul rule they were so dear because they were qualified and they did such great seva, service to society that the Moghul king gave them the title Mullik. And Prabhupad says in the Mullik family there are two branches, the ‘Sen’ and the ‘De’. Prabhupad says that his father… from his paternal side the descendents are from Saptagram and their surname is ‘De’. Prabhupad says that because of this all the ‘De’s of Calcutta area would regularly go to Saptagram to worship the deity of Uddharan DuttaThakur, because not only was he from the same line but he was such an empowered devotee of Lord Nityananda and Lord Chaitanya. So from his childhood Prabhupad’s father and mother would take him to that place, Saptagram. Prabhupad says there is a deity, the very same deity Uddharan Dutt Thakur worshipped. Shadbhuja, a six armed form of Lord Chaitanya carrying the bow and arrow of Ram, playing the flute of Krishna and holding the danda and kamandalu of Lord Chaitanya is there. To the right side of Shadbhuja is Lord Nityananda and to the left GadadharaPandit. There is also a deity of Radha Govinda and below is a photograph, a painting of Uddharan Dutta Thakur. Prabhupad said that there is a very cool shady courtyard. Due to a vine, a Madhavi vine that grows over the whole area, it shades the whole area. Prabhupad said that when Lord Nityananda came to visit Uddharan Dutta Thakur, he planted that Madhavi vine and its descendents are still giving shade to all the people there.
Srila Prabhupad says that in 1967 the trustees of Uddharan DuttaTakur’s temple in Saptagram invited Prabhupad. Can you imagine how proud they were? He was a descendent of Saptagram who is now the world acharya, spreading Krishna Consciousness all over the world, who used to come to our temple when he was a little boy with his father and mother. So Prabhupad says that in 1967 Prabhupad came with some of his American disciples to visit Uddharan Dutt Thakur’s temple.
Radhanath Swami describes Nityananda Prabhu visiting Adi Sapta Gram
We know, in Jagannath Puri Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in a confidential place instructed Nityananda Prabhu to go to Bengal to distribute love of God through Harinam Sankirtan. Nityananda Prabhu took that order as his life and soul. Along with his most intimate associates Abhiram Thakur, Gagadhar Das, Dhananjay Pundit, Purandar Das, he went to Bengal. First they went to Panihati where they had an amazing kirtan. We were describing this in the yatra. It was such an empowered kirtan and everyone forgot to eat, sleep or drink anything for 3 months. They just chanted the holy names, Hare Krishana Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. So from Panihati he visited the house of Gadadhar Das and from his house NityanandaPrabhu and his associates went to Karadaha, which later on became his base, headquarters for preaching. It is near the bank of the Ganga, there was a devotee named Purandar and this Purandar Pundit was so ecstatic to see Nityananda Prabhu. He was one of the associates. He climbed a tree and roared like a lion. There was another devotee named Chaitanya Das. Chaitanya Bhagavt described the nature of this Chaitanya Das. This Chaitanya Das from Karadaha was absolutely fearless. When he chanted the holy names he would become so merciful, he would just run into the forest. Nityananda Prabhu watched and he would just run into the forest and start chasing wild animals. He saw a tiger, Bengali tiger, the biggest tigers in the world. He would see that tiger and jump upon his back and slap his face. All the tiger could do is offer obeisance. He would ride on the tiger doing Nam Sankirtan. Other times he would see a big python, grab it, sit down and put on his lap and play with it like a toy. Other times if he wanted to chant in a quiet place he would go to the river Ganges and go under water, completely submerged or in a lake or river, he would go under water sometimes for 3-5 days without coming out. He would just be absorbed in chanting the holy names, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Now you may think this is impossible, but it is impossible for this to be impossible. What is it that the Lord cannot do and what is it that the Lord cannot empower his eternal associates in the spiritual world to do when they come to this world? – Radhanath Swami
Then Lord Nityananda Prabhu brought the devotees to the village of Saptagram. First they brought the devotees to the home of Uddharan Dutt Thakur. Uddharan Dutta Thakur is called by our acaryas as paramaparamapatitapavana. That means, he is the deliverer of the most fallen among the most fallen, supremely merciful to the most fallen. Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami said that he was the greatest Bhagavat, greatest among the Vaisnavas, because nobody could conceive that these very materialistic merchants of gold, so materialistic, so attached, working like asses day and night just for money, how can they become devotees? Besides that, at that time we explained previously in our talk, they were practically outcast. They were socially ostracised; both in the social and religious level they had no standing. They were considered the most difficult people to reach, because their minds were constantly absorbed in pounds, shillings and pence as they say in England. Uddharan Dutta Thakur, he transformed the entire town of Saptagram, just by his influence alone, into pure Vaisnavas.
So Nityananda Prabhu came there. And in the house of Uddharan Dutta Thakur, he worshipped Nityananda Prabhu with so much love, washed his feet, offered him a nice sitting place, offered him garlands, pooja, cooked a beautiful feast Mahaprasad, offered it to NityanandaPrabhu, worshipped him with love. Nityananda Prabhu was so happy with Uddharan Dutta Thakur that he decided: “I will give the highest premaras to the whole town because of you. Because of your love and devotion I will give the highest prema to everyone here.” Nityananda Prabhu assembled the devotees to perform Nam Sankirtan. Nityananda Prabhu was in ecstasy; all the devotees were in ecstasy. Who cares if they are all materialistic people absorbed in materialistic selfish activities? That doesn’t matter. Nityananda Prabhu led that Nam Sankirtan party to every single house in Saptagram and each householder came out of that house and when they would see Nityananda Prabhu dancing and hear his chanting of the holy names and see all the Vaisnavas, they became attracted and they joined the kirtan and then went to the next house. In every house the kirtan was growing more and more. They went through every lane, every street and every marketplace in Saptagram and there was a tumultuous roar of all devotees in ecstatic love crying out the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Vrindavan Das Thakur explains that nobody had seen any kirtan like this since the kirtan in Navadweep many years before. He explains that this kirtan was so full of love, was so unbelievable that it is impossible to describe the glories of this kirtan even in 1000 years. He gives an example of one thing that happened. As thousands and thousands of people were chanting, this whole caste of people all became pure devotees, totally detached from any desires, no ego. One Muslim man, he happened to see this kirtan and he saw Lord Nityananda Prabhu dancing and tears of love of God poured from his eyes, his limbs trembled, he got all choked up, raised his arms and started chanting the holy names, dancing in ecstasy. There was a Brahmin who happened to see this and that Brahmin condemned himself that, “I don’t even have a single particle of love in absorption in spiritual life. I have no love for Krishna, no love for Vishnu compared to this Muslim man.”
By the mercy of Lord Nityananda whose mercy was coming, by the prayers of Uddharan Dutt Thakur, when great devotees pray for our deliverance, the Lord gives special attention to shower his mercy upon us. – Radhanath Swami
This was the great historical Nam Sankirtan in Saptagram. It is a very ancient place. It is called Saptagram because the seven great rishis performed their tapas there. The three rivers – triveni – Ganga, Jamuna and Sarasvati is right there in Saptagram. Especially the river Ganges is manifested today. And in the Saptagram area, there is Krishnapur, the birthplace of Raghunath Das Goswami, Chandpur, the birthplace of Kalidas who took a vow to obtain the remnants of every single Vaisnava in the whole of Bengal.