Shri 108 Thakurdasji Maharaj,
Maha Mangalpuri Dham, Surat
For centuries, it is known that Uttar Pradesh (northern province) of northern India has given birth to many great souls - great souls like Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, and such - who chose this land as their place of birth for reincarnation. In this greatest and holy place of land, Shri 108 Thakurdasji Maharaj was born in Vikram Samvat 1953 (1896 A.D.) in Tiwari village which is in the district of Gorakhpur. Nandkumarji was his father and Parvatideviji was his mother. Thakurdas was a very distinct child. He took his childhood education in this village. At the age of twelve, he adopted "Tartam Mantra" from Paramhans Shri Kamaldasji Maharaj and joined the Nijanand Sampraday (sect). Later, to cultivate the seed of Tartam Mantra which was sown in his heart, he moved to Shri 5 Padmavatipuri Dham, Panna to stay with Shri Govinddasji.
There he started learning about the Nijanand Sampraday under the guidance of Shri Meherdasji. While learning all this, he happened to come to Mumbai (Bombay) with Meherdasji, who had to conduct a "Bitak Katha". During these days, the Pujari of the temple was suffering from illness and due to his inability to perform duties of the temple, Thakurdas was appointed as a new Pujari of the Mumbai temple. After being in service as a Pujari for ten years - and when he was thirty years of age, Acharya (guru) Shri Dhanidasji Maharaj of Shri 5 Nautanpuri Dham, Jamnagar came to Shri Krishna Pranami temple of Mumbai to pay a visit. Thakurdas himself appeared before Shri Dhanidasji in his room to offer him the Chandan Tilak. Dhanidasji asked Thakurdas many questions about himself and Thakurdas replied back politely and gracefully. Shri Dhanidasji was impressed by his knowledge and advised him to get detailed knowledge of Shri Nijanand Sampraday, its functioning and practices in Shri 5 Nautanpuri Dham, Jamnagar. Thakurdas accepted this proposal and left for Jamnagar after assigning his duties at the Mumbai temple to somebody else.
Thakurdas served there for many years and attained in-depth knowledge about Shri Nijanand Sampraday under the guidance of Paramhans Shri Dayaldasji Maharaj. He was now recognized as a distinct literate of the Nijanand sect. The entire Nijanand sect was attracted by his personality and knowledge. The sect needed such a person as well at that time. Then in 1947, Seth Shri Gordhandasji took him from 5 Nautanpuri Dham, Jamnagar to 5 Padmavatipuri Dham, Panna, Madhya Pradesh so that Thakurdas could look after the administration and needs of Kshetra temple. He provided his services for about twenty three years and with his efforts, helped make the situation of Kshetra better. He later built a temple in Satna (M.P.) which is still being run under the guidance and supervision of Shri Thakurdasji.
In 1970, when he was seventy three years old, he was attending the Kalash Aarohan Mahotsava on Shri Gummatji (the central dome like construction of the main Panna temple), he was worn a shawl and appointed as the 16th successor of the Surat Maha Mangalpuri Dham throne. This had taken place in the pious place of Shriji - Shri Bangalaji.
After handing over all this duties at the Kshetra temple to Janakdasji, he moved to Shri 5 Maha Mangalpuri Dham, Surat in the presence of Shri Sunder-Sathji and other dignitaries. All the blessings and knowledge seeking Sunder-Sathji who were gathered there to participate into this auspicious ceremony of coronation at Shri 5 Maha Mangalpuri Dham were very delighted by having the Ganges river like holy and treasure of knowledge - saint Shri Thakurdasji. The temple and the entire atmosphere surrounding this place was filled with joy and salutations like - "Shri Prannath Pyare Ki Jai", "Shri Maharani Baijuraj Ki Jai", "Shri Thakurdas Maharaj Ki Jai", etc. Amidst the holy moments of this salutations, Shri Thakurdasji was officially established on the throne of Shri 5 Maha Mangalpuri Dham, Surat on Sunday, January 31, 1971 - the Hindu Vasant Panchmi day. He also attained the honor of being called as Shri 108 Thakurdasji Maharaj.
Ever since, Shri Thakurdasji Maharaj has not only cultivated and served the Sunder-Sathji who were seeking religious knowledge but also carried out many social activities for the poor and needy in the society. The magnificence and glory one can see today at the Surat temple is the result of constant and restless efforts of Shri Thakurdasji Maharaj and in the foundation of all these is his wisdom, devotion, compassion, and renunciation. We have just celebrated his 100th birthday (Satabdi Mahotsav) on November 19, 1996. This great saint has the power to enlighten ones soul. To have the "darshan" or glimpses of this saint itself is a fulfillment in ones life.
Reference: Information compiled by Shri Suryanarayan Shastriji Maharaj, Surat.