Shri Shri Harichand Thakur was a great spiritual leader of Bengal. He initiated a new concept or philosophy of spiritual liberation named Matuaism. He worked hard throughout his life to establish his Matuaism. Now Harichand and his Matua mission is well known all over the world.
Harichand Thakur was born in a Bengali Hindu Namasudra family on 11 March, 1812 in Orakandi of the Kashiani Upazila in the Gopalganj district, Bangladesh. The names of his parents were Yashomant Thakur and Annapurna Devi. At a very early age Harichand accepted the path of religious reformation and uplifting the untouchable persons of Bengal. Thakur was very meritorious but did not like to confine himself within the four walls of an educational institution. So, he left his school at an early age. He along with his rustic friends used to tend cattle in the field, play and sing songs. He had a very sweet voice. He was married with Shanti Devi and they had two sons and three daughters. One of them was Shri Guruchand Thakur.
Shri Harichand Thakur formed the Hindu sect of Matua which means ‘remain in joy’–those who remain delighted at chanting of Harinam (God’s name). Some also say that ‘Matua’ means those who have consent. In fact, those who have faith in God, respect in Guru, and affection to chanting God’s name – they are Matua. Truthfulness, love and charity are the three pillars of Matuaism. Once Matua philosophy was popular only in the downtrodden people of Bengal and the followers of Matuaism belonged mainly to Hindu Namasudra caste, but its popularity is now seen in all classes of people of Bengal. In fact, Matuaism is nothing but a path to God which was also followed by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Shri Harichand Thakur said, “One need not to leave one’s family life to practice religion. One can practice religion remaining in family life.” There is no discrimination of gender, religion, caste or class in Matuaism.
Harichand’s followers consider him as Purna Brahma (the complete God Head). While chanting God’s name the followers of Harichand or Matuas say ‘Hari Bol’ and plays drum in groups (watch video below). The central Harimandir (Haritemple) or holy place for the followers of Matua sect is situated in Orakandi, Gopalganj, Bangladesh. Besides, many Hari temples have been established now in the sub-continent. Thakur’s Matuaism has now spread throughout the planet. Harichand Thakur died at Orakandi in 1877.
Harichand Thakur and his Matuaism is very popular among Sanatan Hindu devotees. Many researchers and scholars have already published books on Thakur’s life and works. His fans and followers are increasing day by day. I believe that Harichand Thakur and his Matua mission will remain forever.