Uddharana Datta Thakura – Biography

Uddharana Datta was the best of the Bhagavatas, who served Nityananda's lotus feet in every way possible.
Chaitanya Charitamrita 1.11.41
Whenever the Supreme Divinity, Nandanandan Sri Krishna, adopts the devotional mood and bodily luster of Srimati Radharani in order to become Sri Krishna Chaitanya, He is always accompanied by His eternal associates, who join Him in order to enrich His pastimes. Thus, Krishna's primary expansion or prakasa, Baladev, accepts the attitude of a devotee as Sri Nityananda Prabhu, appearing in Ekachakra village in order to embellish Mahaprabhu's lila. He too has his entourage of personal confidantes who descend to this earth to assist him in playing his role. Nityananda is Baladeva Tattva: he is none other than Lord Sesa, the source of three purusavataras, Maha Sankarshan's causal form or mula Sankarshan. His chief companions are known as the Dvadasa-gopalas or twelve cowherds. Thus it is stated in the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika (129):
Subahur yo vraje gopo data uddharanakhyakah
The Cowherd Named Subahu Became Uddharan
Uddharana Datta Thakur is thus one of the Twelve Gopals. In order to assist Nityananda in his incarnation, he took birth in the town of Saptagram in the year 1481 AD. Saptagram is in Hooghly district, near the Trishbigha railway station. His parents were named Srikara nd Bhadravati and they belonged to the gold merchant class. Any caste in which a Vaishnava appears is to be considered holy – the earth itself is blessed by the appearance of a Vaishnava – and his or her mother has achieved the perfection of motherhood. Vrindavan Das has thus written:
Nityananda remained a few days in Khardaha and then went on to Saptagram with his troupe of associates. They stayed at the home of the fortunate Uddharana Datta on the banks of the Triveni. Completely surrendered to the feet of Nityananda Prabhu, Uddharana Datta worshipped him without any false pretense… The entire caste of gold merchants was purified by the presence of Uddharana Datta in its midst, of this there can be no doubt. Chaitanya Bhagavata 3.5.443,449-50, 453
Srila Vrindavan Das Thakur has particularly given extensive glorifications of Nityananda Prabhu. The sinful and offensive living beings of this world have no alternative but the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu if they want to be delivered. Even though Nityananda is Bhagavat-tattva, he behaves as a devotee. All of his associates are expansions of his mercy. Nityananda Prabhu is said to be the deliverer of the most fallen; his companions seek out even more fallen souls to deliver. In fact, Nityananda distributes his mercy to the conditioned souls through his devotees.
As one of Nityananda's closest confidantes, Uddharan Datta Thakur is called parama-parama-patita-pavana, "the deliverer of the most fallen amongst the most fallen." Thus any jiva who takes shelter of Uddharan Datta Thakur is quickly delivered from his material entanglements and attains the service of Nityananda Prabhu and Gauranga Prabhu's lotus feet. Therefore Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami describes him as the best of the maha-bhagavatas and Vrindavan Das Thakur writes in the Chaitanya Bhagavata: " Uddharan Datta is a great and magnanimous Vaishnava, who has a title to the service of Nityananda Prabhu."
From a superficial point of view, Uddharan Datta worked as the manager of a big zamindar (Nairaja) of Naihati, about one and a half miles north of Katwa. The relics of this wealthy family are still visible not far from the Dain Hat station. The village where Uddharan Datta Tahkur lived while acting as the manager of the estate was named Uddharanpur.
Though he possessed a vast fortune, Uddharan Datta renounced all sense gratifications, dedicating his sense activities to the service of Nityananda Prabhu. Being controlled by the love of his devotee, Nityananda enjoyed the foodstuffs that Uddharan had cooked.
bhaktera dravya prabhu kari kari khaya
abhaktera dravya-pane ulati na caya
The Lord grabs the offerings given him by his devotee. That which is given him by a non-devotee is of no interest to him.
Saptagram stands on the banks of the Saraswati River. At Uddharan Datta's Sripat, one can still see the six-armed figure of Mahaprabhu that he personally worshipped. On the right side of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is a deity of Sri Nityananda. On another altar are the figures of Radha Govinda and a Shalagram Shila, and below the throne is a picture of Sri Uddharan Datta Thakur. After Uddharan Datta disappeared, Jahnava Devi made an auspicious visit to his home.
Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami writes in the Chaitanya Charitamrita that his brother did not have as much faith in Nityananda Prabhu as he had in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This was the cause of an argument between his brother and Nityananda's follower Minaketana Rama Das. Krishna Das took Rama Das' side in this argument and rebuked his brother. Nityananda Prabhu was pleased with Krishna Das for having supported his devotee, even though this was a fairly ordinary qualification. Nityananda gave Krishna Das a vision of himself, the right to live in Vrindavana and service to the lotus feet of Radha and Krishna. The conclusion is that if we worship Uddharan Datta Thakur, serve him and try to please him, we will quickly be able to get the mercy of Lord Nityananda Prabhu, through which we will become eligible to attain love for Krishna and thus perfect our lives. In order to attract people to Uddharan Datta's Sripat it is necessary to make repairs to the buildings on the site. Through this, people will become aware of his glories and will seek his mercy and become blessed. If one makes an effort to serve the devotee, then he will give the commensurate power to serve.
In front of the Saptagram temple, a large hall has been constructed, in front of which is a shady, cool terrace covered by a madhavi creeper.
Srinivas Datta Thakur was Uddharan Datta's only son. Their descendants have spread into many branches and today live in Calcutta, Hooghly and many other places. Those who have taken birth in this family are doubtlessly very fortunate individuals. We pray that they abandon the superficial illusory family connection and establish their transcendental relation with him."
Uddharan Datta Thakur left this world in the Shaka year 1463 (1552), on the Krsna trayodasi of the month of Paush.
The following comments are added in A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's commentary on Chaitanya-Charitamrta 1.11.41: "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 suvarna-vanik community enthusiastically take interest in this temple of Uddharan Datta Thakur. In the Bengali year 1283 (AD 1876) a babji named Nitai Das arranged for a donation of twelve bighas of land for this temple. The management of the temple later deteriorated, but then in 1306 (AD 1899), through the cooperation of the famous Balaram Mullik of Hooghly, who was an assistant magistrate, and many rich suvarna-vanik (gold merchant) community members, the management of the temple improved greatly. Not more than fifty years ago, one of the family members of Uddharan Datta Thakur named Jagamohana Datta established a wooden murti (statue) of Uddharan Datta Thakur in the temple, but that murti is no longer there; at present, a picture of Uddharan Datta Thakur is worshiped. It is understood, however, that the wooden murti of Uddharan Datta was taken away by Sri Madana-mohana Datta and is now being worshiped with a Shalagram Shila by Srinath Datta."
[Excerpted from "Sri Chaitanya: His Life & Associates" by Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Maharaj]