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Disappearance of Srila Sachchidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura

Today is very auspicious as it is the appearance day of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. He is known as the Bhagiratha of shuddha-bhakti (pure devotional service to God). His contribution is a vast wealth of shuddha-bhakti. Like Bhagiratha who brought the waters of the Ganga from the spiritual world into the material world, flowing from Gangotri through passages towards the ocean, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura brought the Ganga-waters of shuddha-bhakti for us.

Significance of the Conch Shell

When you blow a shankha (conch shell), all inauspiciousness leaves, it just goes away. There are two qualities which are found when blowing into a conch shell; firstly, the sound emanating destroys all inauspiciousness and secondly, the conch shell indicates vijaya, the victory of vidya (knowledge) over avidya (ignorance). Lord Vishnu is always carrying one in His hand.

Do you understand what is meant by victory? We are all conditioned souls under the influence of the three modes of material nature. However, if one takes shelter of God or Vishnu, then we will become victorious, thus marking defeat over the modes of material nature. In addition to this, when Sri Radha and Govinda meet in a kunja, there is a wonderful scent coming from Their bodies which can also destroy all impurities, similar to the effect of the vibrations of a conch. These are some of the reasons why we blow the conch after arati.

In Sri Govinda-lilamrita and Sri Krishna-bhavanamrita, the importance of the conch is also mentioned. There, it is written that when Radha and Krishna meet, there are sweet fragrances present coming from both of Their transcendental bodies and that fragrance is also indicated by the shankha.

So the fragrance of milana (meeting) between Radha and Krishna is symbolised by the shankha. In our Vedic shastras, everything mentioned has two aspects; one is the material or scientific approach towards looking at things and the other is the spiritual aspect. So, one scientific aspect of blowing the conch is that all inauspicious things and the negative things in this material world simply vanish. From a spiritual perspective, it represents Radha and Krishna’s milana and this is why one should always blow a conch during brahma-muhurta (auspicious period before sunrise). In Bengal, every morning, everyone blows a conch shell and then again at dawn there are the sounds of the shankha. You will always hear the sound of the shankha in Bengal.

In most of the world and also northern India, they keep conch shells stored away in temples or in their homes and never blow them. Actually, most do not even know how to blow it in the proper way. Except, in Bengal you will find everyone is blowing the shankha. In all homes you can hear the sounds of the shankha in the morning. It represents auspiciousness, as Lakshmi-devi is entering your house. The conch was also blown even at the beginning of wars in previous times; it was the standard before a battle.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Тhakura had such pure thinking. He came like the pure Ganga without any obstructions, flowing straight from Gangotri. And, when he spoke of dharma, it was as if the fragrance from the meetings between Radha and Krishna appeared, similar to the scent of a lotus flower.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's Integrity and Openness

bhakativinoder doya koro vichar, vichar kore le chite pave chamatkar

[Deeply enter in the mercy of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Then your heart will be overjoyed.]

Any glorifications of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura are pure and they are the life and soul of the Gaudiya Vaishnavas. He is the mula (original) preacher, the prominent promoter of the instructions for Gaudiya Vaishnavism. When all the parikaras of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, like the Gosvamis, became aprakata (unmanifested), that is they were no longer in this material world, then after their disappearance there was a long gap where there was no prominent Gaudiya Vaishnava available to the world. For this reason, that period is known as a period of darkness for Gaudiya Vaishnavas, where they did not have any preacher nor any acharya. After this testing period, Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura mercifully appeared. What exactly was this darkness? People did not know anything of the vichara (philosophy) of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. After the departure of the Gosvamis, there was a long period of time in which people deviated from the instructions of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

From the time of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in Bengal there are many people who are sahajiyas (imitators, artificially manifesting symptoms of gopi moods). They say, “You can keep doing harinama and you can also continue eating anything that you want. Whether that is consuming non-vegetarian foods, meat, liquor, etc. You can do whatever you feel like doing.” However, at that time, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura countered their arguments by saying, “No! Whatever you eat, then you will start thinking in the same way too.” He instructed others that one must not eat non-vegetarian foods and not consume alcohol. It is very important that in order to think right, one must eat the right foods. Whatever you eat, will surely influence the way your mind thinks. For example, if you take tamasika (of the mode of ignorance) foods, then you will naturally have a tamasika mindset. So, therefore, it is very important to eat the right foods so we can maintain the right state of mind, allowing us to properly meditate on the Lord.

In his autobiography, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has mentioned that in radha-krishna nitya-lila, he is none other than Kamala Manjari. He is not an ordinary personality. Try to understand, not every acharya reveals his eternal form to anyone, some do not even discuss it. Nevertheless, Bhaktivinoda Thakura revealed his nitya form as Kamala Manjari and further revealed that as Kamala Manjari, she wears a dress adorned with precious gems and renders karpura-seva (camphor service) to the Divine Couple Radha and Krishna.

Very few people are aware of the nitya forms of all of our acharyas. But, Bhaktivinoda Thakura mercifully revealed his own nitya form openly. He is not just a sadhaka, or an ordinary person. Though, in naravata-lila (human-like pastimes) he played the role of being a district magistrate and was very influential and very famous due to his position.

At that time, India was under the strict rule of the British Empire, and thus, there were many restrictions and very stringent laws. Before, people never had to pay taxes and now the British Government were forcibly imposing taxes on them. They would send all the taxes collected back to England, none were actually spent on India. During the time of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Bengal was ruled by the British, in whose administration he was a district magistrate. Materially, he was very prosperous.

Еxposing the False Bhagavan

Once, there was a yogi or baba during Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s time. He was similar to Baba Ram Rahim, who nowadays we find, claims that he is God. So back then, this yogi came out and said that he would kill all of the British and remove their authority from all over India. Also, this baba declared, “Because I am God, I am Krishna, I will perform the rasa-lila.” This pretender had long hair and projected himself as a yogi who possessed many mystic powers. People would visit him and become impressed by his outwardly behavior.

In response to his claims, the British Government issued an order from London to investigate this person. This baba even had the ability to hypnotize and manipulate women. He would challenge them by saying, “I am the Lord,” and then he would tell them how they were girls from prominent families, who had come to perform the rasa dance with him. Today, people are ignorant about what is written in shastras regarding features of the Lord. Conditioned souls, or unliberated souls, do not know about the features belonging to the Lord which have been quoted in shastras. Some people may only know a bit about tantras and mantras. Anyhow, when these people met this baba, they believed he was God. One quality of the Lord is that He never has a beard. The yogi’s name was Bishkishan and he challenged the British government. He proclaimed, “First, I will perform the rasa-lila, then, by my Sudarshana chakra, I will kill every British person and throw them out of my country.” He actually attempted to compare his possessions with Krishna’s Sudarshana chakra.

Eventually, Bhaktivinoda Thakura crossed paths with Bishkishan and had many altercations with him. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura told him, “Look, you are not God, you are an imposter. It is not proper behavior for you to be taking women or to be comparing yourself with Lord Krishna by imitating rasa-lila.”

Still, Bishkishan replied, “As Krishna does, I’ll also perform rasa-lila. First, I’ll perform rasa-lila during purnima and then with my special chakra, I will kill all the Britishers and throw them out of this country.” As a response to his disobedience, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, with the help of the British Army, captured him. Because he was a yogi, he possessed many types of riddhi-siddhi (mystical powers). For example, he could move his head and his hair would transform into flames. However, Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a siddha-mahapurusha and he easily caught hold of his potent dreadlocks in his hands without burning himself. Thereafter, he slapped Bishkishan and chopped off his hair with his own hands. Thinking that they would be burned by the fire, all the British soldiers fled in fear. But, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura fearlessly cut off his hair and threw it aside before placing him in jail.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura had full authority by the British government to do as he saw fit with Bishkishan. Bhaktivinoda Thakura wanted this yogi to spend the rest of his life in jail. While he was in prison, he continued to use his mystic powers on people. Many of his followers demanded for him to be set free. But Bhaktivinoda Thakura said, “No, he is a criminal and must be punished.” Just like Ram Rahim, who, nowadays, is currently in prison.

Moreover, Bhaktivinoda Thakura also had the responsibility of handing out the judgment in court. On the day of the judgement, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had a stomach ache. This was due to Bishkishan who knew riddhi-siddhi, chanting of tantric mantras, which he did while he was in prison, affecting everyone involved in the ruling process. Bhaktivinoda Thakura had very severe body pains and a stomach ache. Still, he went to the court and gave the ruling.

In India, a person who commits similar crimes is given imprisonment for a period of several years, and, in the same way, Bishkishan was given a lengthy sentence. He was required to perform tough labour during his sentence.

Usually, civilian people who are performing hard labour have to endure so much to just get two rotis in the evening. They earn their meals through so much difficulty. Whereas, one who is imprisoned, like Ram Rahim Baba, is able to live an easy life without the need to perform much work. Yet, Bhaktivinoda Thakura ensured that Bishkishan had a difficult imprisonment where he was made to do hard labour. There are some barbaric countries where people are hung in public. But, Bishkishan was held in prison for 40 days and then he left his body.

Imperishable Contributions of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

Although Bhaktivinoda Thakura held the position of magistrate, he used to chant one lakh of harinama everyday. After fulfilling his duties at work, he would visit the nearby villages for preaching of shuddha-harinama. During those times, there were many apasampradayas (pseudo-devotional groups) in Bengal and he had to uproot them all by giving harinama to people through displaying the potency of performing shuddha-nama. In this way, Bhaktivinoda Thakura was teaching the people the philosophy of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu by asking them to practice shuddha-nama. And thus, all the people would gather in the evening and perform nice kirtana together.

Bhaktivinoda Thakura would travel from village to village riding a horse, preaching shuddha-nama to people. Once, he was riding through a small path in a jungle on his way back home, it was pitch dark and he was not able to see the way, there were only fireflies. It was very quiet, he could only hear owls and the sound of the horse’s hooves. Around 150 meters away, he could hear the faint sound of a girl crying. Bhaktivinoda Thakura approached her and he noticed a young girl sitting under the tree. He asked her, “Who are you? Why are you here at midnight? Why are you crying?” The young girl, who was Maya-devi personified, showed herself to him and said, “I am Maya-devi. Since you are now promoting shuddha-nama, the illusory effect on people is less now and I am crying over this. It is my job to keep people under this illusion. But you have preached harinama and everybody has started doing shuddha-harinama and my effect over them has been reduced. So I am feeling bad and this is why I am crying.” The more one performs shuddha-nama, the more Maya stays away. Accordingly, she told Bhaktivinoda Thakura, “Please do not preach harinama,” but Bhaktivinoda Thakura told Maya-devi, “Oh, no that is not possible for me. I have to preach the glories of shuddha-nama.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare’

In his autobiography, it is written how he established nama-hatta and preached the glories of shuddha-nama. He preached against the bad ahara (eating habits) of people and their consumption of alcohol. Bhaktivinoda Thakura explained, as long as your ahara is not pure—how will you keep a pure state of mind? The accepted preaching at the time was—eat what you want, just do harinama, and keep your body healthy; eat fish. If your body is not strong, how will you do harinama? However, Bhaktivinoda Thakura said, “No, your ahara should be pure, only then will your consciousness be pure and then you can properly listen to bhagavat-katha.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura went around to different villages and established nama-hatta, promoting shuddha-nama. Eventually, all of the smarta-brahmanas and heads of other apasampradayas began to realize their control over the area was dwindling. In response, all of these people gathered against Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Still, he continued his nama-hatta:

krishnera samsara koro chadi anacara

jive doya krishna-nama sarva-dharma-sara

Nadiya Godrume (4)

[Carry on your worldly duties, but in relation to Krishna, and give up sinful behavior. Show compassion to all fallen souls by loudly chanting the holy name of Krishna. This is the essence of all forms of religion.]

Srila Bhaktvinoda Thakura very nicely promoted the establishment of krishna-samsara (Krishna-centered life), showing how every family, every Indian household, should have Krishna in the center of their homes. Because this is His world, this is Krishna’s world, it is not your world. Everybody and everything here belongs to Krishna. The essence of all the Vedas and shastras is that Krishna should be inside each home.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare’

He also manifested many granthas (books), in total around four hundred! This many granthas has never been written by any previous acharyas. He has written almost four hundred granthas and for us to write even one grantha requires so much energy. Yet, Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote so many granthas and so many prayers. These unconditioned souls, liberated souls have so much energy and can do so much in this world, this is because of their unconditioned self.

There are two prominent contributions by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakurа. One is, of course, he brought forth Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakurа Prabhupada, who in nitya-lila Goloka Vrindavana is none other than Nayana Manjari. He brought Nayana Manjari forth into this world who appeared as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada. In order to continue the preaching, personalities who belong in the same category are needed. Once, Radhaji appeared and told Kamala Manjari, who is Bhaktivinoda Thakura, “You keep preaching shuddha-nama and I will send you My own Nayana Manjari. I will send you My Nayana Manjari to carry forth the process of shuddha-nama.” The second contribution of Bhaktivinoda Thakura was the manifestation of Yogapitha. During his time, Muslims fully occupied that area and even converted it into a cemetery. Through the efforts of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Yogapitha was rediscovered. When he first went there, he realized that the Muslims had covered all places where Hindu temples used to be and even changed the name of Mayapura to Miyapur.

When he retired from his district magistrate position, he said, “Let me go over to Vrindavana and do bhajana. I will go to an isolated place in Vrindavana and carry out my bhajana.” On his way to Vrindavana, he stopped at a temple in Bengal called Tarakeshvara. There, in Tarakeshvara, Shivaji gave him darshana and instructed him, “Look, you are a liberated soul. You have come here to propagate the pure holy names and also establish Gaura-dhama. Your mission, assigned by Krishna, is to return to Navadvipa. Do not go to Vrindavana. Go back and preach the glories of the shuddha-nama and establish Yogapitha.” At the time, people had actually forgotten what Yogapitha actually was. Thus, Shivaji gave him darshana and instructed him to go back and do all of these things for the Lord, so, thereafter, he decided to return from Tarakeshvara.

There is a very big temple for Shivaji called Taraknath and people go there with a desire for a wish to be fulfilled. When I was a small boy, I went to that temple and there was a Shiva linga similar to the one found in Gopishvara Mahadeva temple. When you would pour water on the Shiva linga, if there was a gurgling sound, it meant Shiva has actually accepted your request and the desire will be fulfilled. When I was young, I also visited that temple, however, I did not have any material desires to be fulfilled. Still, when I went and poured water on the Shiva linga, there was a gurgling sound and it went in. At that time, I was unaware that Bhaktivinoda Thakura had stayed at the temple for a night and that Shivaji had given him darshana and instructed him, “You have to go and establish the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.” When I read the life story of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and heard from our Gurudeva and other acharyas, I came to realize that Bhaktivinoda Thakura had visited the same temple, Tarakeshvara.

One night, in Godruma, Bhaktivinoda Thakura was doing harinama loudly in his house. He noticed across the Ganga, where Yogapitha is now, a radiating light, illuminating the entire area and he could see the pancha-tattva performing ecstatic harinama and kirtana, all with mridangas and karatalas. From his house in Gordruma, as he was doing harinama on his roof, he could see these things and the very next morning when he went to this spot, he could only see Tulasi plants growing in that particular area. The issue was, Muslims do not do anything with Tulasi. So, Bhaktivinoda Thakura went and told one person there, “Look, you are a Muslim. You have no need for this plant. Why have you grown Tulasi over here?” The Muslim man replied, “Tulasi only grows here. We have planted so many seeds from different plants, but they never grow. Instead, only Tulasi plants sprout.” There was a cemetery ground nearby and he said, “That is a cemetery ground, we do not grow anything. But in this area, twenty-five meters squared, only Tulasi grows, nothing else.”

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered an old map from London which was in a collection the British took from India. They had taken all of India's old maps. Since Bhaktivinoda Thakura was district magistrate, he made a request for the maps to be sent, which were three-hundred years old. Once he received them, he realized this indeed was the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So, in Vrindavana he asked Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja to confirm the location. Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja was one hundred and forty four years old at this time and required to be carried there by his own sevaka in a basket. His task was to establish this as the place where Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born. So when Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja arrived in Mayapura, despite his old age, he miraculously jumped out of the basket and began dancing, confirming this was the birthplace of our Gaurahari. When Jagannatha dasa Babaji Maharaja confirmed that this is the birthplace, everyone accepted this. But who was still in charge of this place? The Muslims.

So, Bhaktivinoda Thakura went to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada to solve this matter, who handed the task over to Vinoda-bihari Brahmachari. This particular lila, of establishing the birthplace of Gaurasundara, was performed by the combined efforts of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada and Vinoda-bihari Brahmachari. Vinoda-bihari Brahmachari used to look after the estate of Prabhupada and he also had to confront the Muslims in a very harsh way so they would pay taxes as normal. Back then the Muslims did not pay taxes.

One night, Vinoda-bihari Brahmachari went and removed all the bones from the graves in this sacred area and took them to the Ganges. Then he created an entire garden after removing all of the graves throughout the night and in their place, planted very large trees, like mango, jackfruit and coconut trees. The following morning many gathered and the message spread of how the Hindus had covered the Muslim’s cemetery. So, Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja, who at the time was known as Vinoda-bihari Brahmachari, Parama-Gurudeva, sent them all away. Then, the Muslims reported to the police, “Look, they’ve taken our land away.” But, Vinoda-bihari Brahmachari argued, “What land of yours is taken?” They said, “Our cemetery.” However, the police came and asked the Muslims, “Where is the land that you are talking about?” When they went to show the police, they said, “This is our cemetery area.” However, Parama-Gurudeva had already planted huge trees there. So he said, “Look, this is not the cemetery place of the Muslims. How could it be a cemetery? Do you see any graves? These trees are mature and have been growing here for so many years. These people are telling lies.” In conclusion, the Muslims were bitterly beaten by the police and were told, “Why are you saying the wrong things?” The Muslims were beaten and had no other choice but to run away.

Through the efforts of Vinoda-bihari Brahmachari, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada established a beautiful temple there, which today is known as Yogapitha. If it wasn't for Bhakti Prajnana Keshava Gosvami Maharaja, the muslims would still occupy that area and Mayapura would be Miyapur.

In conclusion, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a shuddha-vaishnava. He helped to establish Gaura-dhama and gaura-nama, these are some of the few important contributions he gave to Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. Today is Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s appearance day, without his appearance or mercy we would not know anything about Navadvipa. Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya was written by Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Also, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja established the temple of ISKCON. If Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja had not appeared, then we would not have heard any of the preaching across the world. And after Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, our Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja also followed.

Bolo Gurudeva ki jaya!

Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Bolo Bhaktivinoda Thakura ki jaya!

Gaura Premanande! Hari Hari bol!

Date: 3 September 2017 Location: Delhi, India


Translator: Unknown Transcriber: Sanatana dasa (USA) Editor: Damodara dasa (UK), Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Ragalekha dasi (Holland), Chandrika dasi (UK) Image: Ananda Svarupini dasi (Poland)

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