Published on January 8th, 2024 | by Harmonist staff0
Śrīla Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura
Translation and commentary of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 11.41 by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
mahā-bhāgavata-śreṣṭha datta uddhāraṇa
sarva-bhāve seve nityānandera caraṇa
Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura, the eleventh among the twelve cowherd boys, was an exalted devotee of Lord Nityānanda Prabhu. He worshiped the lotus feet of Lord Nityānanda in all respects.Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Ādi-līlā 11.41
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura writes in his Anubhāṣya,
The Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā (129) states that Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura was formerly the cowherd boy of Vṛndāvana named Subāhu. Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura, previously known as Śrī Uddhāraṇa Datta, was a resident of Saptagrāma, which is situated on the bank of the Sarasvatī River near the Triśabighā railway station in the district of Hugli. At the time of Uddhāraṇa Ṭhākura, Saptagrāma was a very big town, encompassing many other places such as Vāsudeva-pura, Bāṅśabeḍiyā, Kṛṣṇapura, Nityānanda-pura, Śivapura, Śaṅkhanagara and Saptagrāma.
Calcutta was developed under British rule by the influential mercantile community, and especially by the suvarṇa-vaṇik community who came down from Saptagrāma to establish their businesses and homes all over Calcutta. They were known as the Saptagrāmī 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 Śrīla Uddhāraṇa Ṭhākura. 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. All the Mulliks of the De family originally belonged to the same family and gotra. We also formerly belonged to the branch of the De family whose members, intimately connected with the Muslim rulers, received the title Mullik.
In the Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya-khaṇḍa, chapter five, it is said that Uddhāraṇa Datta was an extremely elevated and liberal Vaiṣṇava. He was born with the right to worship Nityānanda Prabhu. It is also stated that Nityānanda Prabhu, after staying for some time in Khaḍadaha, came to Saptagrāma and stayed in the house of Uddhāraṇa Datta. The suvarṇa-vaṇik community to which Uddhāraṇa Datta belonged was actually a Vaiṣṇava community. Its members were bankers and gold merchants (suvarṇa means “gold,” and vaṇik means “merchant”). Long ago there was a misunderstanding between Ballāl Sena and the suvarṇa-vaṇik community because of the great banker Gaurī Sena. Ballāl Sena was taking loans from Gaurī Sena and spending money extravagantly, and therefore Gaurī Sena stopped supplying money. Ballāl Sena took revenge by instigating a social conspiracy to make the suvarṇa-vaṇiks outcastes, and since then they have been ostracized from the higher castes, namely the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, and vaiśyas. But by the grace of Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu, the suvarṇa-vaṇik community was again elevated. It is said in the Caitanya-bhāgavata, yateka vaṇik-kula uddhāraṇa haite pavitra ha-ila dvidhā nāhika ihāte: there is no doubt that all the community members of the suvarṇa-vaṇik society were again purified by Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu.
In Saptagrāma there is still a temple with a six-armed Deity of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu that was personally worshiped by Śrīla Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura. On the right side of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is a Deity of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu, and on the left side is Gadādhara Prabhu. There are also a Rādhā-Govinda mūrti and a śālagrāma-śilā, and below the throne is a picture of Śrī Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura. In front of the temple there is now a big hall, and in front of the hall is a Mādhavī-latā 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 of the suvarṇa-vaṇik community enthusiastically took interest in this temple of Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura adds in his Anubhāṣya:
In the Bengali year 1283 [A.D. 1876] a bābājī of the name Nitāi dāsa arranged for a donation of twelve bighās of land (about four acres) for the temple where Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura worshiped. The management of the temple later deteriorated, but then in 1306 (A.D. 1899), through the cooperation of the famous Balarāma Mullik of Hugli, who was a subjudge, and many rich suvarṇa-vaṇik community members, the management of the temple improved greatly. Not more than fifty years ago, one of the family members of Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura named Jagamohana Datta established a wooden mūrti [statue] of Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura in the temple, but that mūrti is no longer there; at present, a picture of Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura is worshiped. It is understood, however, that the wooden mūrti of Uddhāraṇa Ṭhākura was taken away by Śrī Madana-mohana Datta and is now being worshiped with a śālagrāma-śilā by Śrīnātha Datta.
Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura was the manager of the estate of a big zamindar in Naihāṭī, about one and a half miles north of Katwa. The relics of this royal family are still visible near the Dāiṅhāṭa station. Since Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura was the manager of the estate, it was also known as Uddhāraṇa-pura. Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura installed Nitāi-Gaura Deities that were later brought to the house of the zamindar, which was known as Vanaoyārībāda. Śrīla Uddhāraṇa Datta Ṭhākura remained a householder throughout his life. His father’s name was Śrīkara Datta, his mother’s name was Bhadrāvatī, and his son’s name was Śrīnivāsa Datta.