All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga
The Ocean of Sri Radha’s Devotion
Appearance Day of Srila Sachchidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakur
"I bow to Sri Thakur Bhaktivinoda, Mahaprabhu's love divine personified.
He is the king of all knowers of the purpose of the scriptures, and he is the
ocean of Sri Radha's devotion."
Charmed by the Bhagavatam
Our divine and illustrious great-grandfather Acharyya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, appeared into a well-known aristocratic Kayastha family on 2 September 1838 in the town of Ula, near Birnagar, in the district of Nadia, Bengal. He was the son of Raja Krsnananda Dutta and Jagat Mohini Devi and was given the name Kedarnath Dutta. He studied at Krishnanagar College and was well known by the surrounding educated society for his goodness, vast intellect, scholarly nature and his exceptional talent at debating and writing.
He accepted the role of government service for his livelihood and for a time was posted as an officer at Orissa and as inspector of the Jagannath Puri Temple. His duty there was to guard against corruption. His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj notes that it was during this period that Thakur Bhaktivinoda came into contact with the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Gradually, his heart and his whole being were charmed by the Bhagavatam, Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta and the lila of Sri Chaitanyadev.
While serving in Dinajpur, He gave his speech on the Bhagavat. In that talk, he said, “The Bhagavat, the revealed scripture of the Vaisnavas, does not allow its followers to ask anything from God except eternal love towards Him.” And, “See how universal is the Vaisnava religion! It is not intended for a certain class of Hindus alone, but it is a gift to man at large, in whatever country he is born and in whatever society he is bred.”
A Simple and Dignified Gift
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur continued with his government service, but also dedicated his heart, through his thoughts, words and actions, to the study of Vaisnavism. After his day’s work, he would remain awake late into the night reading and writing devotional literature and poetry. He wrote, edited and published over 100 books in several languages and he was the first to send his books out of India and introduce the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu to the Western world.
Srila Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj said that Bhaktivinoda Thakur saw it as self-evident that the intelligentsia could not but be attracted by such a plain, simple and dignified gift--the gift of Mahaprabhu, the conception of Mahaprabhu. And Thakur Bhaktivinoda himself said, “Many things are going on in religion in the name of the highest solution of our life, but what Mahaprabhu has given very soon will be detected by the intelligentsia of the world, and all will flock to the banner of Sri Chaitanyadev and will sing the glory of Mahaprabhu and Krshna.”
According to its Necessity
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur visited many holy places of pilgrimage. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur once surprised his audience by saying that shallow thinkers appreciate Vrndavan, but a man of real bhajan, real divine aspiration, will aspire to live in Kurukshetra. He noted that Thakur Bhaktivinoda, after visiting many different places of pilgrimage, remarked, “I would like to spend the last days of my life in Kuruksetra.”
Srila BR Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj gives this revelation--“Service is more valuable according to the intensity of its necessity. According to its necessity, service is valued.” In Kuruksetra, Srimati Radharani is in the highest necessity because Krishna is so close, but Their vrndavan-lila is impossible. Krishna is there in Kuruksetra, but He is in the role of a king and They cannot meet intimately. At this time, Srimati Radharani needs the highest service from her group of servitors. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that, in this heartbreaking situation, a drop of service will draw the greatest amount of prema, divine love.
Mahaprabhu Came to Me
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur also sometimes spoke of going to Vrndavan. “I began to feel that my life had been spent uselessly,” he said. “I had not accomplished anything. I had not been able to taste the nectar of the joy of serving Sri Sri Radha Krishna, the personification of eternity, knowledge and bliss. If I could, I would have liked to retire from my job in a few years. Then I would go to Mathura/Vrndavan…and engage myself in devotional service…I went to Tarakeswar on some errand. While I was sleeping there, Mahaprabhu came to me at night and said, “You are thinking of going to Vrndavan, but what about the work you are supposed to do in Nabadwip, which is close to your home?”
Thakur Bhaktivinoda said, “After I came back from Tarakeswar, every Saturday I would go from Krishnanagar to Nabadwip to look for the places of Mahaprabhu’s pastimes. But I could not find anything, and that made me very sad.” In the introduction to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu—His Life and Precepts it says, “One night while on the roof of his residence in Nabadwip, during deep meditation on the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he is said to have seen in a vision a luminous building towards the northeast.
“The next morning he went to the vicinity of the place that had appeared to him. He came to know of a place that was being adored by some of the residents as the true birth site of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They pointed out an extensive mound covered with Tulasi plants and informed him that this was the actual site of the house where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had appeared. He became extremely joyful.”
We Should Adore, We Should Worship
On this holy day in 1969, His Divine Grace Srila AC Bhaktiventa Swami Maharaj spoke to group of new disciples in London saying, “Bhaktivinoda Thakur was a great Acaryya of this disciplic succession from Krishna. So this Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s birthday, we should adore, we should worship, because in the modern age he reintroduced the disciplic succession…In this succession the Acaryyas are authorities. Our process of knowledge is very simple. We take it from the authority. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu five hundred years ago taught this philosophy…So our adoration, our worship to Bhaktivinoda Thakura today because he may bless us to make peaceful progress in Krishna consciousness. Acaryya-upasana, simply by the blessings of the Acaryyas we can make very rapid progress. Vedenu durlabham adurlabham atma- bhaktau.
rupanuga-varya hana sri-bhaktivinoda
Srila Saraswati Thakur said, "Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is the best of the followers of Sri Rupa Gosvami. The pure joy of devotional service comes in the stream that started with him."
His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj has said that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur relished the deeply devotional writings of Sri Yamunacharyya. Even though Yamunacharyya was in the Laksmi-Narayan Sampradaya and not the line coming down from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur very much appreciated his divine sentiments and this has carried on in our line since then.
His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj noted that, before beginnng to write his book, Sri Sri Prapanna-jivanamrtam, he thought, "Saranagati is the basis, but what is saranagati? On reading Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's book Saranagati, this point impressed me most.” He wrote:
sad anga saranagati haibe
"If you want Nanda Kumar, you must have this six-fold saranagati." [The six limbs of saranagati are: acceptance of the favorable; rejection of the unfavorable; full confidence in the Lord's protection; embracing the Lord's guardianship; full self-surrender; and surrender in humility.]
The title Sri Sri Prapanna Jivanamrtam means, prapannanam, jivane, amrta-svarupam: "The nectar in the life of the surrendered souls." This was my conception from the beginning: prapanna-jivanamrta. Those who have come to take this, to feel it, this will be like nectar to them. To those who have surrendered, it will be nectar to them, but others, the ordinary people, may not appreciate it.
Ontological Depth and Happy Style
In the Guardian of Devotion book it is said, “During the lifetime of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj composed a poem describing the ontological positions of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and the line of disciplic succession stemming from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur read it with a very critical eye. By the time he reached the fifth verse in particular, he became especially satisfied to understand that Srila Guru Maharaj had captured Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's conception.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad was so pleased with the poem's ontological depth and its happy style that he remarked: "Bhaktivinoda Thakur has written this through him. Now I am satisfied that although I may go, at least one man remains behind who can represent my conclusions." The following is that same poem which gave Srila Saraswati Thakur great pleasure.
Srimad Bhaktivinoda-viraha Dasakam
Prayer in Separation of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur
ha bhaktivinoda-thakkura! guroh! dvavimsatis te sama
Alas, alas! O Bhaktivinoda Thakura, O Supreme Guru, for twenty-two years this world has been plunged into misfortune, long grief-stricken in your intolerable separation. You are the divine potency of Sri Gaura, and you graciously made your advent in this earthly plane, being attracted by the living beings' virtuous deeds performed throughout many lifetimes.
dino ’ham chira-duskrtir na hi bhavat-padabja-dhuli-kana-
Since I am lowly and very wretched, it was not my luck to reach the ocean that bestows the fortune of surrender -- the ocean of the ecstasy of bathing in a particle of the dust of your holy lotus feet. Yet due to your magnanimous nature, you gave your grace to the whole universe, personally revealing your super-eminence as the personification of the mercy potency of Sri Gauranga. (That is, by coming into this world, I received his grace.)
deva! stavane tavakhila-gunanam te virinchadayo
O Lord, even all the demigods headed by Lord Brahma feel frustrated by their inability to (fittingly) sing the glories of all your divine qualities. What, then, can be said of the attempt of a fallen soul, a mere human like me? Surely, the learned will never waste their eloquent words eulogising this statement, since even the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna Himself, has sung in the Scriptures His celebrated confession "na paraye 'ham" -- "I am unable (to reciprocate your devotion)."
dharmmas-charmma-gato ’jnataiva satata yogas cha bhogatmako
At a time when religion was evaluated in terms of bodily relationship, saintliness was determined by ignorance, and yoga practice was motivated by sensual pleasure; when scholarship was cultivated just for voidism, japa was conducted for the sake of fame, and penance was performed out of vindictiveness; when charity was given out of pride, and on the pretext of spontaneous devotion the most gross, sinful acts were perpetrated - and in all such anomalous situations even the intelligentsia were at loggerheads with one another...at that very time, you were sent by the Almighty Creator.
visve ’smin kiranair yatha hima-karah sanjivayann osadhir
As the universally cooling moon is beautified by diffusing its nectarine rays, nourishing the plants and inciting the twinkling of the stars, your Holy Advent in this world is similarly ascertained as satisfying the pure devotional Scriptures (through profound study) and blessing the learned with full-blown happiness (by the perfect axiomatic conclusions descending in Divine Succession). With your appearance, the ecstasy of the devotees knows no bounds.
lokanam hita-kamyaya bhagavato bhakti-pracaras tvaya
By writing many books and by multifarious methods recognised by the pure devotees, you have demonstrated the preaching of pure devotional service unto the Supreme Lord, for the benefit of the whole world. We have heard of similar achievements in previous times by stalwart scholars such as Sri Ramanuja and many other Acharyyas; but the glory of you -- the very embodiment of the nectar of divine love -- does not end (cannot be confined) here.
dhamnah khalu dhama chaiva nigame brahmeti samjnayate
Merely the effulgence of His divine abode has been designated by the title 'Brahman' in the Vedas, and only the expansion of an expansion of His expansion is sought after with great tribulation by the foremost yogis. The most exalted of the liberated souls shine resplendent as the bumblebees at His lotus feet. The Primeval Origin of even the Original Sri Narayana who is the Lord of the spiritual sky above Brahman: He is the Original Supreme Lord, the personification of all nectarine mellows - Sri Krishna -- and He is the one that you give.
sarvvachintyamaye paratpara-pure goloka-vrndavane
Situated in the topmost region of the absolutely inconceivable spiritual sky is the holy abode of Sri Vrindavana Dhama, in the spiritual planet known as Goloka. There, surrounded by Sakhis, Srimati Radhika revels in the mellows of divine pastimes. With great ecstasy, She expands the joy of loving sweetness in the service of Sri Krishnachandra, who is otherwise served in four relationships up to parenthood. You, O Thakura Bhaktivinoda, can give us the service of that holy Dhama.
sri-gauranumatam svarupa-viditam rupagrajenadrtam
The internal purport is known to Sri Svarupa Damodara by the sanction of Sri Gaurachandra, of that which is adored by Sri Sanatana Goswami and distributed by the preceptors realised in transcendental mellows, headed by Sri Rupa Goswami; that which is tasted and enhanced by Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami and followers and carefully protected by the votaries headed by Sri Jiva Prabhu; and that which (from a respectful distance) is venerated by great personalities such as Sri Suka, Lord Siva, the chief of the demigods, and Lord Brahma, the grandfather of all beings -- O wonder of wonders! The nectarine rapture of servitude unto Sri Radhika -- that, too, you can give us.
vaham manda-matis tv ativa-patitah kva tvam jagat-pavanah
Where am I, so lowly and fallen, and where are you, the great soul who delivers the universe! O Lord, by your grace, you are sure to forgive my offences. O ocean of mercy, in the dust of your lotus feet I pray for just this benediction: kindly make my life successful by recommending me for admission into the group of Sri Varsabhanavi Dayita Dasa, who is the dearmost one in your heart.
Referring to this poem, Srila Sridhar Maharaj once said, “I attempted to write something about Bhaktivinoda Thakur, and I thought this was the key to Prabhupad Saraswati’s affection toward me. His attention was drawn to me because I tried to give the greatness of Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s character to the public in a systematic way. It is my own feeling. He can give everything to one who is a little attached to Bhaktivinoda Thakur.”
The Seventh Goswami
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura ended his manifest pastimes in Jagannath Puri on the 23rd of June 1914, the disappearance day of Sri Gadadhar Pandit. He returned to his sweet pastimes in the spiritual world and his body was taken back to his beloved Godruma in the holy Dham. Srila Saraswati Thakur arranged a public meeting hall for offering condolences. Many respectable gentleman and great scholars attended. They all spoke very highly of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur.
In an obituaryabout Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sarada Carana Mitra, Calcutta High Court Judge, wrote: "I knew Thakur Bhaktivinode intimately as a friend and a relation. Even under the pressure of official work as a magistrate in charge of a heavy subdivision he could always find time for devotional contemplation and work, and whenever I met him, our talk would turn in a few moments to the subject of 'bhakti' and 'achintya bheda abheda', 'dvaitadvaita-vada' etc., and the saintly work that lay before him. Service of God.”
Many recognized that Thakur Bhaktivinoda gave new and fresh thought to society at large. His studies and revelations on Vaisnavism excelled that of all the modern Acharyyas. Shishir Ghosh said, “We have heard of the Six Goswamis of the time of Mahaprabhu, but Bhaktivinoda’s writings prove that he holds the seventh position amongst the Goswamis. He has left us such extensive and original writing about the teachings of Sri Chaitanyadev.”
Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Maharaj has said that “Bhaktivinoda Thakur left the world his literature—he is in his literature, present forever. He has delivered his writings about the Teachings of Mahaprabhu and Bhagavatam in a systematic and scientific way, suitable to the modern age. Our debt to his Holy Feet has no end.”
From the Inner Chambers of His Heart
Because of the most sincere and heartrending prayers of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura has come from the eternal lila of Sri Gaura Hari to continue the sacred work of Bhaktivinoda Thakur and to give this world the nectar of pure devotion.
Srila BR Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj explained that the Deities of Sri Sri Gaura Gadadhar where kept in the inner chambers of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur's heart, and by dint of that very same melted heart, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur descended.
While in St Petersburg, Russia, Srila Govinda Maharaj spoke about Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur and how Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur became angry at any suggestion that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur was of the nature of an ordinary human being. The conception Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur gave could not come from the human section, and his "chamber of bhajan" is extremely difficult to open.
In a Gaudiya Darshan article Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur has said, “Thakur Bhaktivinoda’s greatest gift to the world consists in this; that he has brought about the appearance of those pure devotees who are, at present, carrying out the movement of unalloyed devotion to the Feet of Sri Krishna by their own whole time spiritual service of Divinity.”
The Seed of Highest Benefit
In Srila BR Sridhar Maharaj’s book, Heart and Halo, it is said, “In the teachings of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, whose preaching was inspired by Sri Gadadhar Pandit and Sriman Mahaprabhu, we also find all the substance that is present in that plane of vibration. These two personalities, Sri Gadadhar Pandit and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, are our great gurus, our guides, and by offering our worship to them we can sow the seed of our highest benefit. By the grace of that great Guru-Maharaj Bhaktisiddhanta
Saraswati Goswami Prabhupada, we have been able to understand this.
“And Bhaktivinoda Thakura, though generally he has his own position, as understood from the consideration of the disciple, Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura has seen Srimati Radharani in him: a ‘relative’ vision. He once said that Radharani represents the full play of asta-nayika, the eight characteristics of the heroine; we see that they are all perfectly represented in Her. In other places we may find partial representations of them, but we find them fully manifest only in Her.
Only Those Who Have Got That Deep Vision
“He said, “I see my Gurudeva as Guna-manjari, and in that manjari form he has some partial representation of Radharani. But if I attempt to look more deeply, I find him identified fully with Her; the eight kinds of qualities displayed in the service of Krishna (asta-nayika) are to be found there. If I look at him with my head a little more erect, I can see that he is one with Radharani acharyyam mam vijaniyat: know the Acharyya as Myself. If I give more attention to this sastric rule and try to search out the meaning, I find that Radharani comes to take Her place there, in the position of my gurudeva.” In this way he has seen in Bhaktivinoda Thakura the fullest representation of the cult of Sri Gauranga.
“This realization is expressed in his poem where he says that he saw Svarupra Damodara Goswami in Gaura-kishor Dasa Babaji, and Sri Gadadhara Pandit in Srila Bhaktivinoda Thahura. In one place he has
written: gadadhara-din dhari’ paiyacche gaurahari, that he has accepted the day of the disappearance of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thahura to be identified
with that of Sri Gadadhar Pandit. In another place, in his poem at the conclusion of his Sri Chaitanya-caritamrta commentary, he has written: “Here, in Nabadwip-dhama, the eternal pastimes are going on continuously; only those who have got that deep vision can perceive it.
He says, “It is very difficult to perceive the sweet will of Sri Gauranga, but if we can lift ourselves to that level, we see that Svarupa Damodar Goswami
and Sri Gadadhar Pandit are always engaged in their service here in Nabadwip. Sometimes it is suppressed and sometimes it is appearing on the surface. In that plane all is going on by the sweet will of Sri Gauranga, without any restriction. But now I find that those two have appeared on the surface as Srila Gaura-kisora Dasa Babaji and Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. I have seen it with my own eye of divine service but this is not to be advertised, not to be given publicity anywhere and everywhere; people will laugh at it. But this is my heartfelt conclusion.
“He has written this in his poem concluding Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta.
So Gadadhar Pandit was identified with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. That was the vision of our Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. He could see in them the same identity. He considered siksa-guru parampara to be the most substantial thing. Eliminating the sahajiya-vada which gives
much importance to the outer cover, try to look within, and see things more deeply. Try to understand the deeper vibrations of the outside environment, and see within yourself also. Dive deep, and you will find the plane of the finest vibration which will carry that news to you, and you will see that truth.”
I worship the lotus feet of the Divine Master (who is the simultaneously inconceivably distinct and non-distinct manifest embodiment of the Supreme Personality of Godhead): all the scriptures sing the glories of his being the direct non-different form of the Supreme Lord Sri Hari, and the pure saints also concede this; yet, he is the most beloved of the Lord.
Everything Was Bhaktivinoda Thakura
It is said by Srila BR Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj that although Srila Saraswati Thakur, on the suggestion of Bhaktivinoda Thakur, tookinitiation from Gaura Kisor Das Babaji Maharaj, he always held Thakur Bhaktivinoda substantially as his own Guru. From the internal consideration, Bhaktivinoda Thakur was his divine Sri Guru. It is found that his outside and inside—interior and exterior are filled with Bhaktivinoda Thakur. He could not but feel this within his heart.
He saw everything only through his Gurudev. He started many temples and very often named the Deities “Vinoda-Vilasa,” “Vinoda-Rama,” “Vinoda-Prana, “ and more. Srila Sridhar Maharaj reminds us that we are asked to see Gurudev not opaque, but transparent—transparent to such a degree that through him the highest end, the highest conception of Service, can be seen and attained. If we are earnest, we shall find the highest link, from the very Source. We can attain it there. According to the disciple’s sraddha, he will see the Lord present in his Gurudev. Guru-tattva, is very special, very noble and very deep.” We have seen this in Srila Saraswati Thakur. Srila Bhaktivinoda was his very being. Everything was Bhaktivinoda Thakur.
I offer obeisances to the lotus feet of our divine Guru-varga and to the divine Vaisnavas on this holy occasion—your lotus feet are my only shelter.
pa’ ye kari namaskara,
bow at the feet of the Vaisnavas;
bhakta-gana, gaura yanra prana
All glories to all the devotees
of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, for the Lord is their life and soul. All of you,
kindly bestow devotional service upon me.