From the brahminical point-of-view, Haridas Thakur came from a family of untouchables. He was Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s nama-acarya (the leader in the process of self-realization for this age, Mantra Meditation), even though he was born into a pious muslim family.

The muslims, however, rejected him because of his practice of Vaishnavism; and the Hindus, especially the caste-conscious brahmanas, considered him to be an untouchable muslim.

Haridas Thakur was living in Phuliya-gram, near Sri Advaita prabhu. He was chanting a minimum of 300,000 names of Krishna every day. Haridas was experiencing ecstatic symptoms. Aside from chanting, he would explain the glories of the Holy Name to others. Because he was an embodiment of what he preached, he transformed the hearts of the people he met – muslims, Hindus and atheists. They all became Vaishnavas.

The Kazi became very envious of Haridas. He went to the Governor and said, ‘This rascal, he’s ruining our culture. So many of our distinguished muslims are becoming untouchable Hindus by his influence. He must be punished immediately! The Kazi ordered for his arrest. Haridas was happy to go to the Governor. He simply chanted as he was brought to the Governor’s residence.

On the way to the Governor’s residence, they passed a prison. The prisoners were eager to see Haridas Thakur because they were all very pious and religious people. They had been arrested, imprisoned and tortured on account of their religious beliefs. They begged the guards to allow them to see Haridas. They were so eager to see Haridas and, by seeing him, felt love of God. They experienced ecstasy as they offered prayers to Haridas.

Haridas smiled and said, ‘I offer you this benediction: May you always remain as you are.’ The prisoners were disappointed. A prisoner wants to get out of prison. Haridas said, ‘I see you are very disappointed. But look at you. You are seeing Krishna’s devotee and you are offering prayers. This is your benediction that you are entreating a devotee. In a few days you will be free from this prison, but please follow these instructions wherever you may be and in whatever circumstances you may find yourselves: associate with devotees; avoid the association of materialistic people who are not engaged in devotional service to Krishna; come together and speak about Krishna, hear about Krishna, always chant the name of Krishna, remember Krishna, never forget Krishna; and keep Krishna’s name on your mouth. In this way you will attain the goal of your life. They had only a moment’s association with Haridas Thakur.

Haridas then entered the chambers of the Governor. The Governor’s heart melted on seeing Haridas’s kind demeanour. He said, ‘My dear sir, you’re a respectable gentleman from the Islamic faith. You come from a family in the highest position of society. Why? Why is it that you are living like a low class untouchable, dirty, filthy Hindu? In what scripture does it say that by abandoning you own religion and accepting that of another you will know God?’

Haridas laughed loudly, in front of the Governor and Kazi, ‘Just see the power of Vishnu’s Maya! Ha ha ha.’ Then he turned to the Governor and Kazi and said, ‘There is only one God and every living being is the child of that God. The Puranas describe that one God, the Holy Q’Uran describes that one God. There may be many different names, there may be different rituals, there may be different ideals. All the scirptures of the world are declaring the supremacy of that on Supreme Lord who is all-pervading, who is the controller of all material and spiritual worlds, who is invincible and who is all-merciful. The Lord invests within a particular persons’s heart a particular mode of worship adn that devotee will naturally worship the Lord accordingly. The Lord has instilled within my heart devotion to Krishna and the chanting of Krishna’s names and there is nothing I can do to stop that. So, my request is this: that if a Hindu brahmana were to convert to become a muslim, that punishment that the brahmanas give to that person, you should give me.’

The words of Haridas actually charmed the heart of the Governor. He said, ‘What you are speaking is very learned and true.’ He said, ‘If you just preach from your own scripture, we will give you all facility. But if you preach from this other scripture, there is nothing I can do. Look at the Kazi, he is a powerful man!’ Haridas Thakur said, ‘I have no concern if you kill me, but I can never give up the chanting of the Holy Names of Krishna. If you like, you may cut my body into hundreds and thousands of pieces, but through it all, I will continue to chant the Holy Names.’

The Governor didn’t know what to do. He looked at the Kazi, and said: ‘What do you want me to do with this animal!?!’ The Kazi said, ‘Kill him. Not an easy death. Beat him through 22 market places of the city…until his life ends….’

The Governor summoned big, huge executioners. They dragged Haridas Thakur. They pulled him by the hair and began to beat him and beat him and beat him. There only desire in life was to murder this innocent man. The common people were enraged by this injustice. Some fell at the feet of the executioners and prayed, ‘I will give you all my wealth, everything I own, if you stop beating this man.’ Others said, ‘Beat me instead! Let me die in his place.’ They continued beating Haridas. The people of Phuliya wept in anguish, ‘Our whole civilization is going to be vanquished due to the offence against this innocent man.’ The executioners blasphemed Haridas with harsh words and beat him with sticks through all 22 market-places, dragging him along.

The executioners were exhausted at the end of the day. They couldn’t even move their arms anymore. They said, ‘Haridas, are you a human being? What is this! No man has ever lived through two or three market-places. Maximum. In history! We have beaten you in all 22 market-places! And not only are you alive, but every now and then you are smiling at us and didn’t even appear that you are in pain! It seems that you felt sorry for us! We don’t know what to do because if we are not able to kill you, the Kazi will have us killed.’

Haridas Thakur smiled, ‘If my bein alive is of some difficulty for you, then you watch and see what I shall do.’ Then he sat down on the ground and all symptoms of life disappeared – no pulse or heart-beat or life-breath. The executioners went and through Haridas at the doorway of the governor. The governor said they should bury him. The Kazi, however, objected, ‘No. No burial. Burying is the way that a proper Muslim’s body is disposed of. If he’s buried, he’ll go to paradise!’ Then some people said, ‘Just burn him like a Hindu!’ Then some brahmanas came and said, ‘No. You can’t burn an untouchable!’ So, what to do. No-one wanted his body. Eventually, the Kazi said, ‘Throw him in the river like a piece of trash. Let him suffer forever.’

The executioners took Haridas’s body to the river. When they were about to pick him up, however, his body became heavier than the earth – he was so filled with Krishna because of his constant chanting, he became as heavy as Krishna (who is heavier than the heaviest). Again, they struggled. All of a sudden, Haridas became light, and they threw him in the Ganges. He floated on the surface for some time, then sank under the water and disappeared. Later, he came back to consciousness. He returned to Phuliya-grama

The executioners fell at his feet, and surrendered. Then the Governor came and offered him obeisances and gifts and asked forgiveness, ‘Please forgive me! Now I know you are a real saint, a genuine lover of God.’ Then the Kazi came and surrendered to Haridas, begging forgiveness.

After this scene, Haridas went and met some brahmanas. They wanted to know why he was tortured so. What did he do? Haridas said, ‘I heard them blaspheme Krishna’s name. I heard them balspheme Krishna and His devotees. Because that sound vibration entered through my ears, I deserve a reaction millions of times worse than the reation I got being beaten in 22 market-places.’ This is how sensitive Haridas Thakur was to hearing an offence to Krishna, His devotees and the Holy Name.

(Taken from a lecure by His Holiness Radhanath Maharaja on Haridas Thakur’s quality of forbearance, given at Pune in 2001)