A Biography of Annada Thakur

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Sri Sri Annada Thakur:

A Brief History of the Founder of Dakshineswar Ramkrishna Sangha, Adyapeath.
Part 1: 1891 – 1921

Sri [1] Annada Thakur was born on October 12, 1891 (Kartick, 8, 1298 Bangabda [2]) in the village of Raujan (Noapara), district Chittagong, in what is now the Republic of Bangladesh. He was the second of five children. Thakur was born after his mother, Tilottama Devi, dreamt that the goddess Chandi brought her a gift of a lovely fruit that she was to share with the world. Sri Thakur was named Annada- Charan, he who is at the feet of the goddess Annada [3], the one who feeds the world. His father, Abhoy Charan Bhattacharya came from a lineage of respected Brahmin scholars. In later days Annada was given the title of Thakur in recognition of his saintly life. As a child, he attended the local village school (pathshala). He was an able pupil and his teachers recommended that he should go on to high school. Being impoverished, his father decided to send him to Kashi [4] (Benares) to learn Sanskrit and so be able to carry on the family tradition. Thakur went to Benares around the age of 13 and enrolled in Sarvamangalla Chatuspathy [5] of Prof. Kamalkrishna Smrititirtha. He spent about six years in Benares, where one of his fellow students later recalled his simple lifestyle. Even at that time, he was very attentive to social ills and rescued a number of families from their plight.

Hoping to help his parents financially, Thakur decided to learn a trade. Seeing that an Ayurvedic
[6] medical practice could allow him to help in supporting them, he decided to go to Calcutta and learn Ayurveda. In spite of the opposition of most of his sponsors, who believed that any such trade was against the tradition of his scholarly Brahmin family, Thakur went to Calcutta in 1910, with the blessings of his mother.

He visited more than fifty practitioners and tried in vain to apprentice to them. Finally, after passed a qualifying exam to the newly started Ayurveda College, he was able to enroll with a minor scholarship. Having very little finances, he lived meagerly, first in a hostel and then in the home of a friend. On a visit to his parents at Chittagong, his mother, who was very ill, asked him to get married to a girl she had chosen for him. Fulfilling the wishes of his mother, Thakur married Ma Manikuntala Devi in 1913. He returned to Calcutta to complete his Ayurvedic curriculum. By the time he was ready to qualify, Thakur had designed a number of herbal remedies for different medical problems. Sri Siddheswar Basu, the father of his friend Sachin Basu, helped him to start setting up a clinic, manufacture his patented medicines and practice Ayurveda. Everything was set up to begin on the Bengali New Year's day of 1915 (Bangabda 1322).

Thakur left to visit his family in Chittagong. One night there, he dreamt of a saffron clothed monk asking him to return quickly to Calcutta. Once he got back, about ten days before the start of his clinic, Thakur saw Sri Ramkrishna
[7] in a dream. Sri Ramkrishna asked him to take three friends and go to the Eden Gardens in Calcutta, next to the Ganges, where he was to find a stone murti of the Goddess Adyama. On Ram Navami [8] day of Chaitra 1321(April of 1915), Thakur with his three friends found a beautiful murti [9] of Adyama in a pool inside the garden. He brought Her to Siddheswar Basu's house and being an auspicious day, performed a ritual worship (puja) for Her. That night, Adyama appeared to him in a dream and asked him to immerse her in the Ganges the next day. Thakur was distraught at the thought of having to lose Her after finding Her so miraculously. In the vision, She gave him Her reasons for wanting to go away. The next day, hordes of devotees came to the house to see Her. A couple of officials from the Calcutta Museum also came and observed that the murti appeared to be of the time of the Buddha [10] , about 2500 years old. Arrangements were made to take a photograph of Her murti. In spite of opposition from many, Thakur took Her in the evening and immersed Her in the Ganges.

Thakur gave up the plans for his own clinic and spent the next few years in great turmoil. He wrote some plays, one of which still survives
[11] and a large number of devotional songs and poems. In 1918 he was asked by Ramkrishnadeva in a dream to be present at Lachmanjhola in North India on the day of the Jhulan Purnima (full moon) to await further instructions.

Thakur left Calcutta and traveled by rail to Hardwar at the foothills of the Himalayas after visiting Benares, Mathura and Vrindaban. From there he went to Lachmanjhola walking up into the hills from Hrishikesh. On the night of the full moon of Jhulan Purnima, in a vision, Ramkrishnadev instructed Thakur on the course of his future life. He was told to carry out a period of austerities and devotion and then undertake the construction of a temple and several charitable institutions for service to the needy.

Thakur stayed on for some time in Swargashram above Hrishikesh. During this time he had visions of Radha, Krishna and Adyama who appeared to him repeatedly in the forms of two hill children, as a pair of Vaishnav renunciates and as a young rural flute-player. After a variety of other incidents that Thakur details in his partial biography, he returned to Bengal to follow the instructions of Ramkrishnadeva.

Thakur reached Calcutta and from there went back to his ancestral home in Chittagong and took care of his parents for one year. During this time he wrote down some teachings about mental training that he received in a series of dreams from Ramkrishnadeva. These were at a later period published as "Ramakrishna Manoshiksha". He next went back to Calcutta and lived next to the Ganges in Dakshineswar where in the nearby Kali temple, Ramkrishnadeva had spent 32 years of his life. He performed the spiritual disciplines according to his instructions for another year. In January of 1921 he celebrated the completion of this task set to him. This day is still celebrated at Adyapeath as Siddhotsav day in January every year.

With the help of friends and devotees, the property next to Thakur's living quarters was leased for five years. A small structure was put up to house a temple to Adyama. This was the beginning of Adyapeath.
[12]

Go to Part 2
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Bibliographic Sources:

1. Sri Annada Thakur: Swapnajiban, (in Bengali)
2. Sri Annada Thakur: A Life of Visions,
3. Brahmachari Niranjan Bhai: Sri Sri Annada Thakur, (in Bengali)
4. Prof C. Acharya, Adyapeath Matripuja, 14:3, pp 154. Special Centenary Issue. 5. Sri Jogendranath Kabyatirtha: Annada Thakur Centenary Memorial, p.34
.
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Notes:

1. Sri, another name for the Goddess Laxmi is an honorific akin to Mister.
2. Bangabda: The lunar based, Bengali calendar, begins on April 15.
3. Annada, also named as Annapurna, like the Goddess in Benares.
4. Benares is an ancient Indian city in Central India and is a venerated pilgrimage.
5. Chatuspathy: A traditional, private, residential teaching institution.
6. Ayurveda: Traditional system of Vedic medicine.
7. Sri Ramkrishna Paramahansa (1836 -1886); Bengali saint who spent much of his life in Dakshineswar, in the northern outskirts of Kolkata (Calcutta).
8. Ninth day of the lunar cycle.
9. Traditional word for a representation of the deity, not merely a statue or image.
10. Lord Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism (566 BC - 486 BC)
11. Mibarlaxmi (in Bengali)
12. This was close to the present location of the Sangha.


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