Shri Shri Thakur Anukul Chandra Ji.. (1888-1969)
..........A Consolidated Online Library
Shri Shri Thakur Anukul Chandra Chakraborty was born in a hamlet called Himaitpur, in Pabna district of Bangladesh, erstwhile East Bengal in pre-independent India. He was born on 14th September 1888 and passed away on 27th January 1969. His was a life of intense activities in material, social and spiritual realm. He lived a life that can be called more of a public life than a life of individual attainment and glory. Early in his life, as a youth, he started medical practice in the backward surroundings of rural Bengal. He never used to ask anything, but took whatever grateful patients gave. This, combining with his unusually successful treatment, soon developed a large but poverty-stricken clientele. From the beginning of 1912 he started to attract people into kirtan parties he organized amongst some of the criminals of the area. By 1914 and for several years thereafter, his dancing and singing attracted huge crowds who found his faith contagious and who claimed many miraculous cures. This earned for him the name or title of Thakur or Master- a term which he insists more commonly means cook. In 1919, with many thousands following him with the belief that they had found a short-cut to heaven through staying with Thakur and singing and dancing, he abruptly and inexplicably turned his back on their adulation and returned to his backward village. As spiritual ecstasy turned into physical and mental exercise, the huge following temporarily dwindled. This was partially inspired by the change in activity. It received added impetus from his comment: “Oh, you who would devotees be, with hope for name and riches, Don't make me your Lord and Master. Beware! If mastery within awakens not then Master, Centre - non you have and deceiving, you shall be deceived.” No longer were there demonstrations of emotional, other-worldly mysticism, but simple, pragmatic explanations related to practical activity that impelled man to become more productive and meaningful in his day-to-day life. Religious thrill-seekers disappeared to be replaced by large numbers of the physically and mentally ill as well as sincere seekers after truth and social thinkers. Many remained with him and their needs inspired the creation of schools, hospital, workshops, mill, farms and experimental laboratories. The backward village was slowly transformed into a thriving, dynamic community which the late Chief Minister of Assam, Gopinath Bardolai, described in 1934 as the finest example of rural reconstruction in India. As Thakur’s odd combination of practical religion, visionary idealism and intuitive insight attracted the attention of larger and larger numbers of people, his deep compassion and willing acceptance of the frustrated, the social outcast, the insane and incapable remained what one has described as his greatest asset.... and greatest liability. This sense of unlimited responsibility for any and all who came gave to everyone a vision of an almost universal love practically applied. However, for those who feel that love is synonymous only with the good and beautiful, the sight of the diseased, the demented and the undeserving all finding hope and shelter with him was disturbing.... at times unnerving. When he was challenged by a prominent lawyer and educationist from Bihar as to why he supported evil, he looked at the lawyer with those liquid, lustrous eyes and said simply, “I never support evil, but I shelter it. I guess I’m the foolish father of foolish sons. I keep thinking that some day they will change.” The remarkable thing is that they do, and Thakur quietly inspires and waits with little concern for the misunderstandings and recriminations that are caused. The results then speak for themselves. When the riots engulfed India in late 1946 and 1947, the remarkable community around Thakur was abandoned and he came to Deoghar, Bihar, with hundreds of the hungry and homeless. “What have you lost ? Everything-land, homes, business-all were built with you efficiency and you haven’t lost that. It is with that efficiency we shall build again.” Thus, Thakur exuded a confidence and conviction as the hundreds became thousands. It has been estimated that in abandoning the original community in North Bengal, Thakur left behind more than two crores of rupees worth of equipment. But because he never regretted nor looked back, he inspired these people similarly. To-day, the thousands of refugees who stand on their own feet without ever seeking help from Government is moving testimony to his belief that man-ordinary helpless man-and his growing efficiency is the only source of wealth. Over the years, both workers and visitors questioned Thakur on his theories as well as the practical application of them to every-day problem. Steadily, over the following months and years, a fine tapestry of reason was woven over Thakur’s originally simple idea that Love and Name can achieve heaven on earth of the earlier singing and dancing days. This tapestry dealt with every aspect of life and every human need, from birth to death, the individual to the universe. Such discussions and observations have been compiled in many volumes. They contain Thakur’s philosophy of Being and Becoming with practical answer to twentieth century living.