Uddharana Datta Thakura – Biography
Sri krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami has written: “Uddharana Datta Thakura, the eleventh among the twelve cowherd boys, was an exalted devotee of Lord Nityananda Prabhu. He worshiped the lotus feet of Lord Nityananda in all respects.” According to Gaura-ganodesa-dipika, “The devotee who was formerly known as Subahu in Vraja, and who was one of the cowherd boys in Vrindavana later appeared in Gaura-lila as Sri Uddharana Datta.
In his translation and commentary on Caitanya Caritamrta (CC Adi 11.41) Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes: “Uddharana Datta Thakura, previously known as Sri Uddharana Dattta, was a resident of Saptagrama, which is situated on the bank of the Saraswati River near the Trisbhigha railway station in the district of Hugali. At the time of Uddharana Datta Thakura, Saptagrama was a very big town, encompasing many other placesf such as Vasudeva-pura, Bansabediya, krishnapura, Nityananda-pura, Sivapura, Sanhanagara and Saptagrama.
“Calcutta was developed under British rule by the influential mercantile community and especially by the suvarna-vanik community who came from Saptagrama to establish their businesses and homes all over Calcutta. They were known as the Saptagrami mercantile community of Calcutta, and most of them belonged to the Mullik and Sil families. More than half of Calcutta belonged to this community, as did Srila Uddharana Datta Thaura. Our paternal family also came from this district and belonged to the same community. The Mulliks of Calcutta are divided into two families, namely, the Sil family and De family whose members, intimately connected with the Mohammedan rules, received the title Mullik.
“In the Caitanya-Bhagavata, Antya Khanda chapter six, it is said that Uddharana Datta was an extremely elevated and liberal Vaisnva. He was born with the right to worship Nityananda Prabhu. It is also stated that Nityananda Prabhu, after staying for some time in Khadadaha, came to Saptagrama and stayed in the house of Uddharana Datta. The suvarna-vanik community to which Uddhaana Datta belonged was actually a Vaisnava community. Its members were bankers and gold merchants (suvarna means “gold” and vanik means “merchant”). Long ago there was a misunderstanding between Balla Sena and the suvarna-vanik community because of the great banker Gauri Sena. Balla Sena was taking loans from Gari Sena and spending money extravagantly, and therefore Gauri Sena stopped supplying money. Balla Sena took revenge by instigating a social conspiracy to make the suvarna-vanik community was again elevated. It is said in the Caitanya Bhagavata, yateka vanika-kula uddharan haite pavitra ha-ila dvidha nahika ihate: there is no doubt that all the community members of the suvarna-vanik society were again purified by Nityananda Prabhu.
In Saptagrama there is still a temple with a six-armed Deity of Sri Caitanya Maharabhu that was personally worshipped by Srila Uddharan Datta Thakura. On the right side of Sri Caitanya Maharabhu is a Deity of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and on the left side, Gadadhara Pandita. There are also a Radha-Govinda murti and salagrama-sila, and below the throne is a picture of Uddharana Datta Thakura. In front of the temple there is now a big hall, and in front of the hall is a Madhavi-lata plant. The temple is in a very shady, cool, and nicely situated location. When we returned from America in 1967, the executive committee members of this temple invited us to visit it, and thus we had the opportunity to visit this temple with some American students. Formerly, in our childhood, we visited this temple with our parents because all the members in the suvarna-vanika community enthusiastically take interest in this temple of Uddharana Datta Thakura. In the Bengali year 1283 one babaji of the name Nitai dasa arranged for a donation of twelve bighas of land for this temple. The management of the temple later deteriorated, but then in 1306, thorugh the cooperation of the famous Balarama Mullik of Hugali, who was a subjudge, and many rich suvarna-vanik community members, the management of the temple improved greatly. Not more than fifty years ago, one of the family members of Uddharan Datta Thakura named Jagamohana Datta established a wooden Deity of Uddharan Datta Thakura in the temple, but that deity is no longer there; at present, a picture of Uddharana Datta is worshiped. It is understood, however, that the wooden Deity of Uddharana Datta was taken away by Sri Madana-mohana Datta and is now being worshiped with a salagrama-sila by Srinatha Datta.
Uddharana Datta Thakura was the manager of the estate of a big Zamindar in Naihati, about one and a half miles north of Katwa. The relics of this royal family are still visble near the Dainhata station. Since Uddharana Datta Thaura was the manager of the estate, it was also known as Uddharana-pura. Uddharana Datta Thakura installed Gaura-Nitai deities that were later brought to the house of the Zamindar, which was known as Vanaoyarirbada. Srila Uddhaana Datta Thaura remained a householder throughout his life. His father’s name was Srikara Datta, his mother’s name was Bhadravati, and his son’s name was Srinivasa Datta.
Vrindavana dasa Thakura writes as follows about Uddharana Thakura in his Caitanya Bhagavata: “After Nityananda Prabhu stayed for many days in Khadadaha, he went to Saptagrama.There is a famous ghata in Saptagrama at the confluence of the three rivers which is celebrated as being the place of the seven rsis. At that ghata on the Ganges the seven rsis had once performed penances in order to attain the lotus feet of Govinda. Three divine goddesses come together at that place: Yamuna, Saraswati, and Jahnavi. These three goddesses of rivers join at the confluence of those three rivers. It is a most holy place within this world. One may be delivered from all his sins just by seeing that place. Nityananda Prabhu was extremely happy to see that place and bathed at that holy place with all the devotees. Uddharana Datta was staying in a temple of the Lord on the banks of that river when Nityananda Prabhu came to the triveni. When he saw Nityananda, he offered his mind, body, and words to the holy feet of Nityananda and worshiped him without any duplicity in his heart. As a result of the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu, Uddharana Datta was qualified by constitution to worship and serve Nityananda. Who can estimate his good fortune. Although he may appear to take birth within this material world, Nityananda is by nature the Supreme Controller, and he remains so every time he descends here. Nityananda is the master, and Uddharana Datta was his servant birth after birth. Uddharana Datta was from the vanik community, and he purified the two divisions of that community by his devotion. Nityananda Prabhu delivered the vanik community by his descent, and gave them the qualifications for prema-bhakti. Practically everyone in Saptagrama was a vanik. The moonlike Nitai-canda frolicked in kirtana within their midst. All the vaniks took shelter at the lotus feet of Nityananda and worshiped him with great ecstasy. Seeing all the vaniks absorbed in krishna-bhajana under the direction of Nityananda Prabhu the whole world was amazed. Indeed the universe itself was astonished to witness the exalted greatness of Nityananda Prabhu who delivered the lowest of men, the foolish and illiterate, and the entire vanika community. In this way, Nityananda Prabhu performed various pastimes of sankirtana in Saptagrama, delivering the inhabitants of Saptagrama as well as hundreds of their descendants within the vanik community. In the same way that the towns and villages of Nadia were filled with happiness when Caitanya and Nitai had performed sankirtana there, Saptagrama was filled with happiness at the pastimes of Nityananda.”
After the disappearance of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sri Nityananda Prabhu’s sakti, Sri Jahnava Mata came to Saptagrama and visited the house of Uddharana Datta Thakura. At that time, Uddharana Datta Thakura had already passed away. Uddharana Datta Thakura passed away on the 13th day of the dark moon in the month of Pausa.