About the year 1500 A.D., the incarnation of God Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu began the Hare Krishna Movement in Navadvip, a city in the Indian province of Bengal. This movement, based on the philosophy of ancient Sanskrit texts of devotion to Krishna like the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, spread all over India within a short time. The movement popularized sankiritan, the congregational chanting of the maha-mantra Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, as the most effective means of God realization for the present Age of Kali, a time of rampant faithlessness, sin and materialism. After 1750 A.D., the influence of the Hare Krishna Movement seemed to wane. Many sects of sahajiyas (cheap pseudo-devotees) sprouted up, each claiming to be the true purveyors of Vaishnava-dharma (the religion of Lord Vishnu or Krishna). Because of their bad character, the sahajiyas brought disrepute upon the pure movement of love of God begun by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In the 1800’s, an eternally perfect devotee of Krishna descended from the spiritual world to the material world to revive the Hare Krishna Movement and to initiate its expansion beyond the borders of India. This was Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who was named Kedarnath Datta by his father (some say by his Godfather), was born in opulent circumstances on the 2nd September 1838., on a Sunday in Biranagara (Ulagrama) in the district of Nadia. He was the seventh son of Raja Krsnananda Datta, a great devotee of Lord Nityananda. He was also known as the great grandson of Madana Mohana and the third son of his Godfather Anandacandra. He would be known as ‘daitya-kulera prahlada’ (Prahlada in the family of demons). This was because Vaisnavism was not very much respected in his family; on his mother’s side, there was no respect for Vaishnavism at all.
His childhood was spent at the mansion of his maternal grandfather Mustauphi Mahasaya, in Biranagara. His environment at this time was very opulent. He got his elementary education at the primary school started by his grandmother. Later he attended an English school in Krishnanagara, started by the King of Nadia; he left that school when his older brother died unexpectedly of cholera.
When he was 11 years old, his father passed away. Subsequently, the grant of land that had been conferred upon his grandmother changed owners; at this time the family fell into a condition of poverty – their great wealth proved to be illusiory. Still, the young Kedaranatha Datta passed over these difficulties with great endurance.
His mother arranged a marriage for him when he was just twelve (1850 A.D.) to the then five year old daughter of Madhusudana Mitra Mahasaya, a resident of Rana Ghata.
Around this time Kasiprasada Ghosh Mahasaya Thakur (Kedaranatha Datta’s uncle), who had mastered under the British education, came to Ulagrama after the death of his maternal grandfather. He schooled young Kedaranatha Datta at his home in Calcutta; this was at first resisted by Kedaranatha Datta’s mother, but by the time he was years of age he was allowed to go.
The house was situated in the Heduya district of central Calcutta. Kasiprasada was the central figure of the literary circle of his time, being the editor of the Hindu Intelligencer; many writers came to him to learn the art of writing in correct English. At this time, and recognising Kedaranatha Datta’s natural ability, he assisted Kasisprasada by judging manuscripts submitted to the newspaper. Sri Kedaranatha Datta studied Kasiprasada’s books and also frequented the public library.
He attended Calcutta’s Hindu Charitable Institution high school and became an expert English reader, speaker, and writer.
He became ill from the salty water of Calcutta. He returned to Ulagrama and was treated by a ‘Muslim soothsayer’ (‘tantric’) who predicted that the village of Biranagara would soon become pestilence-ridden and deserted. The Muslim also predicted Kedaranatha Datta would become recognized as a great devotee of Lord Krsna.
At the age of 18 years (1856.) Kedarnatha Datta entered college in Calcutta. He started writing extensively in both English and Bengali; these essays were published in local journals. He also lectured in both languages. He further studied English literature at this time extensively, and taught speechmaking to a person who later became a well-known orator in the British Parliament. Between the years 1857-1858 he composed a two part English epic entitled “The Poriade”, which he planned to complete in 12 books. These two books described the life of Porus, who met Alexander the Great.
Sriman Dvijendranatha Thakur, the eldest son of Maharsi Devendranatha Thakur, was Sri Kedaranatha Datta’s best friend during these scholastic years. He assisted Kedaranatha Datta in his studies of Western religious literatures. Affectionately Kedaranatha Datta used to call Devendranatha Thakura ‘baro dada’, or big brother.
He was very taken by Christian theology, and regarding it more interesting, and less offensive than Hindu monism, ‘advaita-Vedanta of Sankaracarya’. He would spend many hours comparing the writings of Channing, Theodore Parker, Emerson and Newman. At the British-Indian Society he gave a lecture on the evolution of matter through the material mode of goodness.
At the end of 1858 Kedaranatha Datta returned to Biranagara and found the Muzzi’s prediction about that place to have come true; the place was ruined and deserted. Sri Kedaranatha Datta brought his mother and paternal grandmother with him from there to Calcutta. Soon after he went to Orissa to visit his paternal grandfather, Rajavallabha Datta, who used to be a big man in Calcutta, who was now living as an ascetic in the Orissan countryside. His days were coming to a close. He could predict the future, so he knew it himself very well. He wanted Kedaranatha Datta to be with him when he departed this world, which he did in 1859, when Kedaranatha Datta was 21 years of age. After receiving his grand-father’s last instructions, he travelled to all the monasteries and temples in the state of Orissa.
As a young householder Srila Bhaktivinoda began to consider the question of the means of his livelihood. He was not interested in business, as he’d seen how the apparent ‘necessary dishonesty’ of the trade world due to competition for sales, had moraly weakened the merchant class. Their work ethics becoming removed from the principle of mutually helping others by which they would automatically be protected from failure to succeed, as well as being co-operatively assisted by the ‘natural laws of compensation’, ‘karma’.
He decided instead to become a school teacher. He established a school for English education in the village of Kendrapara near Chutigrama, in Orissa, thus becoming a pioneer in English teaching in that state. He also could see the oppressive power wielded by the landowners of Chutigrama. After some time he went to Puri and passed a teachers examination; he got a teacher’s post in a Cuttack school and later became headmaster of a school in Bhadraka and then in Madinipura. His dedicated work was noted by the school-board authorities.
In Bhadraka, his first son Annada Prasada (Acyutananda) was born, in 1860. He published a book that year in English that described all the ‘ashramas’ and temples in the state; this book received favorable mention in the work called “Orissa” by British historian Sir William Hunter; Hunter praised Kedaranatha Datta’s moral and religious character, as everyone did.
As the headmaster of the Medinipura high school, Kedaranatha Datta looked into the various religious sects, their philosophies and practices. He could see that many of them were taking it all very cheaply. He came to understand that the only real religion that had ever been established in Bengal was that of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; unfortunately at present, His movement was not well-represented. Due to the misrepresentation, and coruptions and influence of the ‘Apa-sampradayas’ this sincere soul Sri Kedaranatha Datta could not even get a copy of the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, despite all his efforts.
The Thakura made an onslaught against those who belonged to the apasampradayas who were polluting Gaudiya Vaisnavism by basically thirteen deviant philosophies – Aula, Baula (2 types), Karttabhaja, Neda, Daravesa, Sani, Sahajiya, Sakhibheki, Smarta, Jatagosani, Ativadi, Cudadhari and Gauranga-Nagari. These deviant groups, mostly because of their boldness, had been seen by the public as the Gaudiya Sampradaya, though actually none were following the pure Vaisnava regulative principles strictly, as laid down by the followers of Sri Krsna Caitanya (namely the Goswamis). Being a follower of the Goswamis or not is interdependent on qualifying one to be a Gaudiya Vaisnava.
For more details on apa-sampradayas one should read the very nice articles, running as a sequil in the “Back to Godhead” magazine 1991 editions on the same, by His Holiness Suhotra Swami, Iskcon.
Sri Kedaranatha Datta’s first wife died, so in the town of Jakapura he married Bhagyavati De.
In the year 1861 Sri Kedarantha Datta accepted the post of Deputy Magistrate in the Government of Bengal. Then he became Collectorate Officer after seeing the corruption of the government workers. He established an organization called the “Bhratr Samaja”. He wrote an English book in 1863 called “Our Wants.” At this time he also constructed a home in Rana Ghata. Later in 1863 he stayed at Burdwan, where he composed two novel poems in Bengali: “Vijinagrama” (deserted village) and “Sannyasi.” Volume 39 of the 1863 Calcutta Review praised these poems, saying, “We hope the author will continue to give his countrymen the benefit of his elegant and unassuming pen, which is quite free from those objectionable licenses of thought and expression which abound in many dramas recently published. The want of the day is the creation of a literature for Hindu ladies, and we trust that many more educated natives will have the good sense to devote their time and abilities to the attainment of this most desirable aim.” The rhyme and style of these two poems were original; they gave birth to a new way of writing poetry in the Bengali language.
Sri Kedaranatha Datta – In the post of Deputy Magistrate. In the year 1866 Kedaranatha Datta took the positon of Deputy Register with the power of a Deputy Collector and Deputy Magistrate in the district of Chapara. He also was known to have became quite fluent in Persian and Urdu. In a placed called Saran in Chapara, a clique of tea planters made unjust demands of him; he successfully opposed them. And while at Saran he visited the Gautamashrama at Godana; desiring to establish a school for teaching ‘nyaya-shastra’, he delivered a speech there (in 1866) which was well-received. The school was in fact established, the foundation-stone being laid in 1883 by Sir Rivers Thomson, after whom the school was named. Though Sri Kedaranatha Datta had no further part in the project after his speech, the talk he gave was instrumental in securing public aid for the school.
Also in 1866 Kedaranatha Datta translated the Balide Registry Manual into Urdu, which was circulated by the government throughout the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh; this manual was used by the registration departments of those areas.
Sri Kedaranatha Datta was transferred to Purniya from Chapara where he took charge of the government and judicial departments; he was then transferred to Dinajapur (West Bengal) in 1868, becoming the Deputy Magistrate. At this time he received copies of the Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta from Calcutta.
He read Caitanya Caritamrta repeatedly; his faith in Krsna Consciousness developed until he was absorbed in the pure ‘bhakti-shastras’ day and night. He was incessantly submitting heartfelt prayers for the Lord’s mercy; he came to understand the supreme majesty and power of the one and only Absolute Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna. He published a song about Lord Caitanya entitled ‘Saccidananda-premalankara’. In 1869, while serving as deputy magistrate under the government of Bengal in Dinajapur, he delivered a speech in the form of a treatise he had written on the Srimad Bhagavatam to a big congregation of many prominent men of letters from many parts of India and England.
He was transferred to Camparana, during which time his second son, Radhika Prasada, was born. In Camparana, people used to worship a ghost in a banyan tree which had the power to influence the mind of the local judge to decide in the favor of the worshipper. Sri Kedaranatha Datta engaged the father of Pandita Ramabhai, a famous girl scholar, to read Srimad Bhagavatam under the tree continuously, by day and night; after one month, the tree crashed to the ground, and naturally many people found faith in the Srimad Bhagavatam.
From Camparana he went to Puri, which engladdened his heart no end.
Near the capital of Orissa, in the town of Kamanala, there lived a ‘yogi’ named Bisakisena, who would lean into a fire while sitting closeby, then return to an erect sitting posture; in this way he’d rock back and forth over the flames. He could also produce fire from his head. He had two companions going by the names Brahma and Siva; he claimed to be Maha Vishnu. The small kings of Orissa came under his sway and were providing funds for the construction of a temple for the ‘Triguna-Avataras’; they also sent him women with whom he engaged in ‘rasa-lila’ enjoyments. Bisakisena declared he’d drive off the British from ruling Orissa and himself would become king. He published such statements which were circulated all around Orissa. The British thought him a revolutionary for speaking out against the ‘British Raj’, so the District Governor of the National Government of Bengal drew up arrest orders; but nobody in Orissa dared to act upon these orders, as they all feared Bisakisena. Mr. Ravenshaw, district commissioner for Orissa, requested Sri Kedaranatha Datta to bring Bisakisena to justice. Sri Kedaranatha Datta went personally to Bisakisena; Bisakisena showed some powers that would normally scare off an ordinary man, and informed Kedaranatha Datta that he knew well who he was and his mission, but that since he (Bisakisena) was the Lord, he’d better not interfere with him. That was enough for Sri Kedaranatha Datta, who replied by acknowledging Bisakisena’s accomplishments in ‘yoga’ and ‘tantra’, and requested him to come to Puri where he could have the ‘darshan’ of Jagannatha. Bisakisena haughtily said, “Why should I come to see Jagannatha? He’s only a hunk of wood; I am the Supreme in person.” Sri Kedaranatha Datta became instantly furious and arrested the rogue, brought him to Puri and threw him in jail, where he was guarded by 3 dozen Muslim constables and 72 policemen from Cuttack day and night. The accomplaces to the ‘divine trilogy’ ‘Brahma’ and ‘Siva’ avoided arrest by claiming they’d been forced by Bisakisena to do as they’d done; but Mr. Taylor, subdivision officer at Kodar, later prosecuted them.
The fearless Kedaranatha Datta tried Bisakisena in Puri; the trial lasted 18 days, during which time thousands of people whom he had control over gathered outside the courtroom demanding Bisakisena’s release. On day six of the trial Kedaranatha Datta’s second daughter Kadambini (aged 7 years) became seriously ill and nearly died; but within a day she had recovered. Sri Kedaranatha Datta knew it was the power of the ‘tantric yogi’ at work; he remarked “Yes, let us all die, but this rascal must be punished.” The very next day in court the ‘yogi’ announced he’d shown his power and would show much more; he suggested that Kedaranatha Datta should release him at once or face worse miseries. On the last day of the trial Kedaranatha Datta himself became ill from high fever and suffered exactly as his daughter had done for one whole day. But the determined Kedaranatha Datta pronounced the man guilty and sentenced him to 18 months for political conspiracy. When Bisakisena was being readied for jailing, one Dr. Walter, the District Medical Officer, cut off all the ‘yogis’ hair. The ‘yogi’ drew power from his long hair; he hadn’t eaten or drunk during the whole trial, so he fell to the floor like a dead man and had to be taken by stretcher to jail. After 3 months he was moved to the central jail at Midnapura where he took poison and died there in the year 1873.
In Puri, Sri Kedaranatha Datta studied Srimad Bhagavatam with the commentary of Sridhara Swami, he also copied out in longhand the Sat-sandarbhas of Jiva Goswami and made a special study of Rupa Goswami’s Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu.
Between the years 1874 and 1893, Bhaktivinode Thakur spent much time in seclusion chanting the holy name (though he still executed his worldly duties perseveringly); he wrote several books in Sanskrit such as Sri Krsna samhita, Tattva-sutram and Tattva-viveka (which we have cited in the early sections of this book); he wrote many books in Bengali such as the Kalyana-kalpataru; in 1874 he composted Datta-kausubha (in Sanskrit).
While in Puri he established a Vaishnava discussion society known as the Bhagavat-samsat in the Jaganatha-vallabha gardens, where Sri Ramananda Raya did bhajana. All the prominent Vaishnavas joined this group except for Raghunatha dasa Babaji, known as Siddha Purusha. He thought that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was unauthorized, as he did not wear ‘kanthi-mala’ or ’tilaka’; moreover, he advised other Vaishnavas to avoid Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s association.
But soon thereafter Raghunatha dasa Babaji contracted a deathly illness for his offense. In a dream, Lord Jagannatha appeared to him and told him to pray for the mercy of Bhaktivinoda Thakura if he at all wanted release from the illness and death. He did so; Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave him special medicines and cured him, and also blessed Raghunatha dasa Babaji with a true awareness of Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s position.
Others had a natural affection like Sri Swarupa dasa Babaji, who did ‘bhajana’ at Satasana near the ocean in Puri; he showed much affection for Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and gave him many profound instructions and insights from his own realisations on the bhajana of the holy name.
Another Charan dasa Babaji, preached and printed books advising that one should chant the ‘Hare Krsna Mahamantra’ in ‘japa’ and ‘Nitai Gaura Radhe Syama Hare Krsna Hare Rama’ in ‘kirtana’. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura preached long and hard to him; after a long time Charan dasa Babaji came to his senses and begged forgiveness from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, admitting his fault in spreading this nonsense ‘mantra’ all over Bengal; six months later Charan dasa Babaji went mad and died in great distress.
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura was one of this age’s formost devotional scholars, yet humbly presents himself as the insignificant messenger of the Lord as we can note from this following message of his; “The way how I got the inspiration to compile this book (Sri Srimad Bhagavata Arka Marichimala) is a Divine Mystery which I felt not proper from my part to disclose as it might be bridging spiritual conceit, but subsequently I realise that it would be an undoing to my spiritual master which might stand as an obstacle on the path of my spiritual progress therefore without any shame I record the fact that while under the benediction of my Guru Sri Bapin Behari Goswami who belonged to the great heritage of Thakur Vamshibadananda, a faithful follower of my Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu I was deeply penetrating upon Srimad Bhagavatam, one day in a vision Sri Svarup-Damodara, the right hand personal Adherent of Lord Sri Chaitanya, instructed me to compile the slokas of Srimad Bhagavatam in accordance with the principles of ‘Sambandha’, Abhidheya’ and ‘Prayojana’ as laid down by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – so that the book will read with an easy understanding with great interest and delight by the loving devotees of the Lord. Sri Svarupa-Damodar Prabhu further guided me by giving a wonderful explanation of the first sloka of Srimad Bhagavatam and also showed me how I have to explain the slokas under the light of Gaudiya-Vaishnava Philosophy.”(B.P Yati. 1978. Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Sri Srimad Bhagavata Arka Marichimala. Chapter 20., supplication 3. inclusion. page 479.)
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura became manager of Jagannatha Puri Temple; he used his government powers to establish regularity in the worship of the Deity. In the Jagannatha Puri Temple courtyard he established a ‘Bhakti Mandapa’, where daily discourses of Srimad Bhagavatam were held. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura would spend long hours discussing Krsna and chanting the holy name, especially at Tota-Gopinatha Mandir, the tomb of Haridasa Thakur, the Siddha Bakula and the Gambhira. He made notes on the Vedanta-sutra which were used by Sri Syamalala Goswami in the edition of the Govinda Bhasya by Baladeva Vidyabhusana that he published.
Near the Jagannatha-vallabha gardens, in a large house adjacent the Narayana Chata Matha, on the 5th day of the dark fornight of Magha in the year 1874, the 4th son of Bhaktivinoda Thakura took birth. He was named Bimala Prasada (later known as Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada).
As a householder Bhaktivinoda (Kedarnatha Datta) had two wives and no less than 10 children, of which the great Vaisnava scholar Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati (Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura) was one. Bimala Prasad (Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati) was born in Sri Purusottama Kshetra (Jagannatha Puri) on 6th February 1874 AD, answering the prayer of Bhaktivinoda for the Lord “to send a Ray of Visnu” to preach the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world. He was given the name Bimal Prasad.
When the child was six months old, Lord Jagannatha’s cart stopped in front of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house in Puri for three days during the procession. Bhaktivinoda told his wife, Bhagavati Devi, to bring out the child for ‘darsan’ of Lord Jagannatha. As she placed the child before the Lord, a garland from the Lord encircled the baby boy, and the first grain ceremony (‘anaprasna’) was performed at that time with Jagannatha ‘prasad’. Bimala Prasada stayed in Puri for ten months after his birth and then went to Bengal by palanquin on his mother’s lap, his infancy was spent at Nadia District’s Ranaghat hearing topics of Sri Hari from his mother.
Srila Bhaktivinoda and his wife were orthodox and virtuous; they never allowed their children to eat anything other than ‘prasada’, nor to associate with bad company. One day, when Bimala Prasada was still a small child of no more than four years, his father mildly rebuked him for eating a mango not yet duly offered to Lord Krsna. Bimala Prasada, although only a child, considered himself an offender to the Lord and vowed never to eat mangoes again. (This was a vow that he would follow throughout this life.) By the time Bimala Prasada was seven years old, he had memorized the entire Bhagavad Gita and could even explain its verses giving wonderful purports. His father then began training him in proof reading and printing, in conjunction with the publishing of the Vaisnava magazine Sajjana tosani.
Two years earlier, Kamala Prasada, the 3rd son of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, had taken birth.
In 1874 Bhaktivinoda Thakura discovered the Raja of Puri had misappropriated Rs. 80 thousand for sense gratification. This money belonged to the temple, so Bhativinoda Thakura forced the Raja to give Lord Jagannatha ‘bhoga’ 52 times daily. This diminished the money quickly; the ‘raja’ was angry at Bhaktivinoda Thakura and began, with the help of 50 ‘pandits’, a ‘Maran-karmani tantric yajna’ meant for killing Bhaktivinoda Thakura which went on for 30 days; when the last oblations were poured, it was the kings son and not the pure hearted Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura who died.
He left Puri on special business; returned to Bengal and saw Navadwip, Santipura and Kalana. He was put in charge of the subdivision Mahisarekha in Haora. After that he was transferred to Bhadraka. In August 1878 he was made head of the subdivision Naraila in the Yashohan district.
While in Naraila his two famous books Sri Krsna-samhita and Krsna-kalpataru were published. In a letter dated April 16th., 1880, Dr. Reinhold Rost wrote to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: “By representing Krishna’s character and his worship in a more sublime and transcendental light than has hitherto been the custom to regard him, you have rendered an essential service to your co-religionists, and no one would have taken more delight in your work than my departed friend Goldstuecker, the sincerest and most zealous advocate the Hindus ever had in Europe.” These two works brought the devotional attention of many of India’s pandits and educated men.
In 1877 Varada Prasada was born, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s fifth son; in 1878, Viraja Prasada was born, the sixth son: both appeared at Rana Ghata.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura took ‘pancaratrika diksa’ initiation from Bipin Bihari Goswami, descended from the Jahnava family of Baghnapara. At the same time, his seventh son, Lalita Prasada, appeared at Rana Ghata.
Many people had adopted Vaishnavism at Haraila, but they could not tell who was a Vaishnava and who not; Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura gave them shelter and instructed them on this matter most exactingly.
Once Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and his son-cum-assistant went to see Bhaktivinoda’s ‘guru’, Vipin Bihari Goswami (Bipin Behari Goswami).
Vipin Bihari Goswami was coming in the disciplic succession from Sri Gadadhar Pandit the plenary portion of Srimati Radharani. The followers of this line are generally Raganuga Bhaktas, worhipping Sri Gaura Gadahara in a loving spontaneous mood of ‘bhava’. This mode of worship is not for those who are materially confined by the dictates of the body and senses, but for those who are already experiencing their eternal loving relationship with the Divine couple Sri Radha Krsna.
There is an interesting little story which captures the mood of Bhaktivinoda and that of his son, then named Siddhanta Saraswati. In their ‘siddha deha’ as pure ‘nitya siddha’, eternal associates of Lord Krsna, Bhaktivinoda Thakura is Kamala Manjari, one of the maid servants of the ‘gopis’, and Siddhanta Saraswati is her assistant Nayana Manjari. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s dealings with his ‘diksa guru’ were always exemplary, even though Vipin Bihari Goswami was not very advanced, being a ‘kanistha adhikari guru’, whereas the Thakura was an ‘uttama adhikari’, ‘paramahamsa’ of the highest order. Still Bhaktivinoda always played the humble disciple. On one such occasion in the presence of young Siddhanta Saraswati, Bhaktivinoda Thakura paid his respectful obeisances to his ‘guru’. Vipin Bihari Goswami replied by placing his feet on the Thakura’s head. For the young fiery Siddhanta Saraswati this was too much! It was one thing that his father had accepted him as his formal initiating spiritual master, but this was going too far. Srila Siddhanta Saraswati was only seven years old at the time, but when Bhaktivinoda Thakura left the room leaving the two of them alone, Siddhanta Saraswati decided to set things straight.
“You are acting like a big, big ‘guru’ and you place your feet on the heads of those who you don’t know. If you knew who the Thakura is you would not do it. But you do not know! My father is a great exalted ‘nitya siddha’, eternal associate of Sri Radha and Krsna who has come here to fulfil Their mission. Do you think that you are so advanced that you can place your feet on the head of such a person? I think not. You have proven yourself to be a ‘kanistha adhikari’ (neophyte) by not being able to distinguish between those who are advanced and those who are less advanced, therefore I suggest that you desist from this practice any further.” Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura then re-entered the room and the conversation changed. Later that day Vipin Bihari Goswami mentioned to Bhaktivinoda, “Your son is bold to the point of being rude.” Later Thakura Bhaktivinoda found out about the conversation and used to jokingly glorify his exalted son to his friends, saying how he is fearless, that he even chastised my ‘guru’ Vipin Bihari Goswami.
Reflecting on this incident we can see that even if one’s spiritual master is not an ‘uttama adhikari’, ‘mahabhagavat’ devotee of the Lord still one should be satisfied, and serve him anyway. Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who himself was certainly a ‘mahabhagavat’, set the example how to serve and show respects. On the other side of the transcendental coin, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati showed a nice lesson to us. We should not show ourselves to be more advanced than we really are, lest we commit offences against those who are actually advanced.
In 1881 Bhaktivinoda Thakura began publishing ‘Sajjanatosani’, his Vaisnava journal.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had previously pilgrimaged to Kasi, Prayaga, Mathura and Vrndavana (‘Vraja Mandal’) in 1866. At the close of his stay in Naraila he desired to again see the land of Vraja. He took three months for this purpose. At this time he met Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji there, who had a program by which he moved every six months between Navadwipa and Vrndavana. Meeting him, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura accepted him as his eternally worshippable ‘siksa’ (instructing) ‘guru’.
During his pilgrimage at this time he dealt with a gang of ‘dacoits’ known as the Kanjharas who robbed and killed pilgrims; he gave evidence to the government and a commision was formed to wipe out this scourge.
From Vrndavana he came to Calcutta and bought a house at 181, Maniktala Street, now called Ramasha Datta Street, near Bidana Park. He started daily worship of Sri Giridhari (the transcendental form of Krsna who appeared in the form of Govardhan Hill) and called the house Bhakti-bhavan. He was appointed head of the subdivision of Barasa.
In 1881, in the course of excavating for the construction of the ‘Bhakti bhavana’ at Rambagan in Calcutta, a Deity of Kurmadeva was unearthed. After initiating his seven year old son, Bhaktivinoda entrusted Bimala with the service of the deity of Kurmadeva.
The well-known novelist Bankim Candra met Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura at Barasa. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had written a book about Krsna and showed it to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who preached to Bankim Candra for four days, taking little food and hardly any sleep; the result was Bankim Candra changed his ideas (which were mundane speculations about Krsna) and his book to conform with the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura used to say, “knowledge is power”.
On April 1, 1884, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was appointed the senior Deputy Magistrate of Serampore, where he admitted Bimala in the Serampore High School. When Bimala was a mere student in class five, he invented a new method of writing named Bicanto. During this period he took lessons in mathematics and astrology from Pandita Mahesacandra Cudamoni. However, he preferred to read devotional books rather than the school texts.
During the last year of his stay at Barasat (1886), Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura published an edition of the Bhagavad Gita with the Sanskrit commentary of Srila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakur, which he translated into Bengali (the “Rasika-ranjana” translation). Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had undertaken this task at the request of Babu Sarada Carana Mitra, ex-judge of the Calcutta High Commission. Sriman Bankima Candra wrote the preface, acknowledging his own indebtedness to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura; he noted that all Bengali readers would be indebted to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura for his saintly work.
From Barasat, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was transferred to Sriramapur. He visited the residence of Uddharana Datta Thakur, a great associate of Lord Nityananda, at Saptagram. At Khanakula he visited the place of Abhirama Thakur, and saw the place of another great devotee of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Vasu Ramananda, at Kulinagrama.
At Sriramapura he composed and published his masterly writing, Sri Caitanya Siksamrta, and also the Vaisnava-siddhanta-mala, Prema-pradipa and Manah-siksa. He was also publishing Sajjanatosani on a regular basis. In Calcutta he set up the Sri Caitanya Yantra, a printing press at the ‘Bhakti Bhavana’, upon which he printed Maladhara’s Sri Krsna-vijaya and his own Amnaya-sutra and the Caitanyopanisad of the Atharva Veda.
Finding the Caitanyopanisada was a difficult task. Hardly anyone in Bengal had heard of it. Consequently Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had to travel to many places in Bengal looking for it; finally, one devoted Vaisnava pandita named Madhusudana dasa (sometimes found listed in the ‘Guru-parampara’ listings) sent an old copy he’d been keeping with him at Sambalapura for Bhaktivinoda Thakura; Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote a ‘Sanksrit’ commentary on the book and called it Sri Caitanya Caranamrta. Madhusudana dasa Mahasaya translated the verses into Bengali; this translation was called Amrta-bindhu. It was a sellout when published.
In Calcutta srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura started the Sri Visva-Vaisnava Sabha, dedicated to the preaching of pure bhakti as taught by Lord Caitanya. To publicize the work of the society, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura published a small booklet entitled Visva-Vaisnava-kalpavi.
Also he published his own edition of the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta, with his Amrta-prabhava Bhasya commentary. And he introduced the Caitanyabda or Caitanya-era calendar, and gave assistence to the propagation of the Caitanya Panjika, which established the feast day of Gaura Purnima.
He lectured and gave readings on books like the Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu (of Srila Rupa Goswami) in various Vaishnava societies; he published in the Hindu Herald, an English periodical, a detailed account of Sri Caitanya’s life.
It was at this time that the learned Vaisnavas recognized Kedaranatha Datta and given the honourary titile as Bhakti Vinoda Thakura.
In the year 1887 Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura resolved to quit government service and go to Vrndavana with Bhaktibhringa Mahasaya for the rest of his life. One night in Tarakeswara, while on government service, he had a dream in which Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared to him and spoke, “You will certainly go to Vrndavana, but first there is some service you must perform in Navadwipa, so what will you do about that?” When the Lord disappeared, Bhaktivinoda Thakura awoke. Srila Bhakti Bhrinha Mahasaya, hearing of this dream, told Bhaktivinoda Thakura to apply for a transfer to Krishnanagara; he did, even turning down offers of personal assistanceship to the chief Commissioner of Assam and the seat of the Minister of Tripura State. He even tried to retire at this time, but his application was not accepted. Finally, in December of 1887 he arranged for a mutual exchange of personell: himself for Babu Radha Madhava Vasu, Deputy Magistrate of Krishnanagara.
During his stay at Krishnanagara, Bhaktivinoda Thakura used to go to Navadwipa and search for the birthsite of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. One night he was sitting on the roof of the Rani Dharmasala in Navadwipa chanting on his ‘Japa-beads’, when he spotted a very tall Tala tree with some very strange substance attached to it; near the tree was a small building that gave off a remarkable effulgence. Soon afterwards, he went to the Krishnanagara Collectory where he began to study some very old manuscripts of Caitanya Bhagavat and Navadwipa Dhama Parikrama by Narahari Sarkar, and some old maps of Nadia. He went to the village of Ballaladibhi and spoke with many elderly people there, and uncovered facts about the modern-day Navadwipa; in the year 1887 he discovered that the place he’d seen from the dharmasalla rooftop was in fact the birthplace of Mahaprabhu. This was confirmed by Srila Jaganatha dasa Babaji, the head of the Gaudiya Vaisnava community in Nadia.
A great festival was held there. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura published the Navadwipa Dhama Mahatmya.
Also in 1887, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura renovated the house of Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji at Ravasghata. He took leave from office for two years and acquired a plot of land at Sri Godadrumadwipa, or Svarupaganga. He built a retirement house there for his ‘bhajana’, and called it Surabhi Kunja; in 1890 he established the ‘Nama Hatta’ there. Sometimes Jagannatha dasa Babaji would come there and have ‘kirtana’.
Lord Nityananda had established His Nama Hatta at the same place; Bhaktivinoda Thakura considered himself the street sweeper of the ‘Nama Hatta’ of Nitai.
Once whilst stationed in Krishanaga, every second spare was spent in Mayapur. As mentioned in the story of Jagannatha dasa Babaji, Thakura Bhaktivinoda, along with Babaji Maharaja found Lord Caitanya’s birthplace in the year 1887.
When the birthplace was uncovered, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji would worship Lord Caitanya there (this episode was told in regard to Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji’s Life.)
Once one of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s sons contracted a skin disease; Jaganntha dasa Babaji told the boy to lie down at the birthsite of Lord Caitanya for the night – he did so, and the next morning he was cured.
In 1888 he took charge of the village of Netrakona in the district of Mayamanasimha, because he could not keep good health in Krishnanagara and had requested transfer to a more healthful region. From Netrakona he came to Tangaila and from there he was transferred to the district of Vardhamana. There he would have ‘kirtana’ with the devotees from a place called Amalajora, headed by Kshetra Babu and Vipina Babu; they would sing poems like Soka-satana written by him.
He was put in charge of the Kalara subdivision in 1890, and from there would often visit such holy places as Godadrumadwipa, Navadwipa, Capahati, Samudragana, Cupi, Kasthasali, Idrakapura, Baghanapara, Piyariganga (the place of Nakula Brahmacari) and the place of Vrndavana dasa Thakur at Denura.
Soon Bhaktivinoda Thakura was transferred for a few days to Ranighata, from where he came to Dinajapura again. Sailaja Prasada was born there, his youngest son. In Dinajapura Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote his Vidva-ranjana commentary and translation of the Bhagavad Gita; it was published in 1891 with the commentary of Baladeva.
1891 was the year Bhaktivinoda Thakura took leave from the government service for two years. He desired to preach ‘Sri Hari-Nama’. His base was at Godadrumadwipa; from there he used to visit such places as Ghatala and Ramajivana to lecture in clubs, societies and organizations. This he’d also often do in Krishnanagara.
He travelled and preached in March of 1892 in the Basirahata District together with some other Vaishnavas. All the while he was writing also. He opened many branches of ‘Nama Hatta’ in different districts of Bengal. The ‘Nama Hatta’ became a self-sustaining success which continued to spread even after his return to government service.
Also from Basirahata he set out on his third trip to Vrndavana; he stopped off at Amalajora to celebrate the Ekadasi day with Srial Jagannatha dasa Babaji. In Vraja, he visited all the forests and places of pastimes; he continued to give lectures and readings on Hari Nama in various places in Bengal when he returned to Calcutta.
In February 1891 he gave a lecture on his investigation into the whereabouts of the actual birthsite of Sri Caitanya; his audience included highly learned men from all over Bengal, who became very enthusiastic at the news. Out of this gathering the Sri Navadwipa Dhama Pracarini Sabha was formed for spreading the glories of Navadvipa-Mayapura. All the learned pandits, having deliberated fully on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s evidence, agreed that the Yogapitha was the true birthsite of Mahaprabhu.
That year, on Gaura Purnima, a big festival was held that witness the installation of Gaura-Visnupriya Dieties at the Yogapitha.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura personally, in a spirit of pure humility, went door to door collecting to raise funds to build a temple on the very site. In the Amrta Bazaar Patrika, December 1894, an article appeared: “Babu Kedarnatha Datta, the distinguished magistrate who has just retired from service, is one of the most active members. Indeed, Babu Kedarnatha Datta has been deputed by his committee to raise subscriptions in Calcutta and elsewhere and is determined to go from house to house if necessary and beg a rupee from each Hindu gentleman for noble purpose. If Babu Kedarnatha Datta sticks to his resolution of going around with bag in hand, we hope that no Hindu gentleman whose house may be honoured by the presence of such a devout bhakta as Babu Kedarnatha, will send him away without contributing his mite, however humble it may be, to the Gaura-Visnupriya Temple Fund.” His venture was highly successful and the temple was built.
In October 1894, at age 56, he retired from his post as Deputy Magistrate, though this move was opposed by his family and the government authorities. He stayed at Surabhi Kunja and preached, as well as revised his old writings. Sometimes he went to Calcutta; there he begged door to door for building the Yogapitha temple.
In July 1896 Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura went to Tripura at the request of the the king, who was a Vaishnava. He stayed in the capital for four days and preached the glories of Sri Hari-Nama.
His lecture on the first day amazed all the local ‘panditas’; on the next two days the local Royal family and general public thrilled to his talks on the pastimes of Mahaprabhu.
His mercy far outreaches the geographical boundaries of India or even Asia, taking Krsna consciousness to the West.
Back in Godruma, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sent out a small booklet, written in Sanskrit, to Sri Gauranga-lila-smarana-mangala-stotram, with a commentary by Srila Sitikantha Vacaspati of Nadia. The intro, “Caitanya Manaprabhu, His life and precepts”, was in English (Which we have included in this book in the section on Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu) This book found its way into the library of the Royal Asiatic Society in London, the library of McGill University in Canada (the year is 1896) and other respectable institutions. It was reviewed in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society by Mr. F.W. Fraser, an erudite European scholar.
In the rainy season of 1896, requested by the Maharaja of Tripura, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura went to Darjeeling and Karsiyam. In 1897 he went to many villages such as Medinipura and Sauri to preach.
Sri Sisira Kunara Ghosa was the founder of the Amrta Bazaar Patrika and the author of the Sri Amiya Nimai-carita. He had great respect for Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura; he also took up the preaching of the holy name throughout Calcutta and in many villages in Bengal. He published the ‘Sri Visnu Priya O Ananda Bazar Patrika’ under the editorship of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. In one of his letters to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura he wrote, “I have not seen the six Goswamis of Vrndavana, but I consider you to be the seventh Goswami.”
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s son Bimala Prasad (latter Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati) had been residing at Puri as a ‘naisthika brahmacari’ (celebate student) and was engaged in bhajan at the Gandharvika Giridhari Matha, one of seven ‘mathas’ near the ‘samadhi’ tomb of Haridasa Thakur on the sea-shore. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, desiring to help his son, had the monastery cleaned and repaired when he came to Puri himself at the beginning of the 20th century. After the young (Bhakti) Siddhanta Saraswati left Puri for Sri Navadwipa Mayapur, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura constructed his own place of ‘bhajana’ on the beach, calling it Bhakti Kuti; one Sri Krsnadasa Babaji, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s devoted assistant and disciple, joined him there at this time, and he became very dear to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and was his constant attendant up to the end of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s life.
He began solitary ‘bhajan’ (worship and devotional meditation) at this time; he had many visitors at this place, and some of them simply wanted to disturb him, whereas others were sincere and benefitted greatly from his spiritual inspiration.
In 1908, three months before he took ‘sannyasa’, a son of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura who was working in the writers building in Calcutta, came home to inform Bhaktivinoda Thakura that Sir William Duke, cheif secretary to the government, was in Calcutta; formerly Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had served under him as a magistrate. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura made an appointment to meet him the next day at the writers building. Sir William Duke met with Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura on the street outside the building and personally escorted him in to his office. With folded hands, he asked forgiveness for having once planned to remove Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura from office of district magistrate; this was because he thought that if such qualified Indians take up such posts, the British would not last much longer in India.
In those days, while studying Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s activities (then Kedarnatha Datta), he’d come to his house and would be fed ‘puri’, ‘luchi’ and sweets by the Thakura’s wife. But now he was begging forgiveness as he was getting on in life; Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura answered, “I consider you to be a good friend and a well wisher all along.” Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was pleased with him and gave him his blessings. Later Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura admitted he was astonished that Sir William Duke wanted to harm him in some way.
In the year 1908 Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura took the external ‘vesa’ dress of a ‘babaji’ at Satasana in Puri technically which is called his accepting ‘paramahamsa-sannyasa’, among the ‘Gaudiya sampradaya’; until 1910 he would move between Calcutta and Puri, and was still writing books; but during that year he shut himself up and entered ‘samadhi’, ‘claiming paralysis’.
It was on June 23rd., 1914, just before noon at Jagannatha Puri, that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura Prabhupada left his body; on the Gaudiya Panjika this day was also the disappearance day of Sri Gadadhara Pandita. But from Orissa his bodily remains were taken back to his beloved Godruma, in the land of Nadia. Amidst ‘sankirtana’ his remains were interred in Godruma after the next solstice; the summer solstice had just begun when Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura Prabhupada had left his body.
Remembering His Divine Character.
In an obiturary about 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 is the only thing he longed for and service under the government, however honorable, was to him a clog.”
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Daily Schedule
7:30-8:00 PM – take rest.
10:00 PM – rise, light oil lamp, write.
4:00 AM – take rest.
4:30 – rise, wash hands and face, chant ‘Hare Krsna Mahamantra japa’.
7:00 – write letters.
7:30 – read.
8:30 – receive guests, or continue to read.
9:30-9:45 – take rest.
9:45 – morning bath, breakfast of half-quart milk, couple of ‘chapatis’, some fruits.
9:55 – go to court in carriage.
He would wear coat and pants to court, with double-size Tulasi neckbeads, and Vaishnava Tilaka. He was very strong in his decisions; he would decide immediately. He did not allow any humbug in his court; no upstart could stand before him. He would shave his head monthly. He never allowed harmonium in his ‘sankirtan’, considering it a distraction from the sound of the ‘Nama Prabhu’.
He never had any debts.
10:00 – court began.
1:00 PM – court finished. He’d come home and bathe and refresh.
2:00 PM – return to office.
5:00 PM – translate works from Sanskrit to Bengali.
Then take evening bath and meal of rice, couple of ‘chapatis’, half-quart (1 pint – 20 onces, or approx half litre) of milk.
He always consulted a pocket watch, and was always accountable keeping time very punctually.
He was always charitable to ‘brahmanas’, and equally befriended other castes. He never showed pride, and his amiable disposition was a characteristic feature of his life. He never accepted gifts from anyone; he even declined all honors and titles offered by the government to him on the grounds that they might stand against his holy mission of life. He was very strict in moral principles, and avoided the luxurious life; he would not even chew betel. He dislike theaters because they were frequented by ‘public women’.
He spoke Bengali, Sanskrit, English, Latin, Urdu, Persian and Oriya. He started writing books at age 12, and continued turning out a profuse number of volumes up until his departure from this world.
As with all of the wonderful personalities we have touched on there are so many things that can be said to glorify such incredible devotees, but just to keep this book in perspective we are just trying to give a taste. For further details on Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Rupa Vilasa Prabhu, a disciple of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has compiled a book on the life of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura entitled “The Seventh Goswami”.
His Divine Grace
Srila Sac-cid-ananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s
Appearance Day, Lecture —
London, September 23, 1969
Prabhupada: Bring water, water. Water? So today is a very auspicious day, Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s birthday. Here is the picture of Thakura Sac-cid-ananda Bhaktivinoda. He was one of the acaryas of this disciplic succession from Krishna. We have got a succession table from Krishna, genealogical table. There are two kinds of genealogical tables, one by the semina—father, his son, his son, like that. That is material genealogical table. And there is one spiritual genealogical table, disciplic succession. Just like Krishna. Krishna, the original father, Supreme Personality of Godhead, He spoke the Vedic knowledge to Brahma, Lord Brahma. He spoke to Narada. Narada spoke to Vyasa. Vyasa spoke to Madhvacarya. So in this disciplic succession, Lord Caitanya, from Lord Caitanya, the six Gosvamis, and similarly, coming down, down, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, then Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja, then my spiritual master, then we are next generation, my disciples.
So there is a disciplic succession. And the acaryas, they’re authorities. Our process of knowledge is very simple. We take it from the authority. We don’t speculate. Speculation will not help us to come to the real knowledge. Just like when we are in difficulty, in legal implication, we go to some authority, lawyer. When we are diseased we go to a physician, the authority. There is no use, speculation. Suppose I am in difficulty in some legal implication. I simply speculate, “I shall be free in this way and that way.” That will not help. We have to go to the lawyer who knows things, and he gives us instruction that “You do not do this; then you’ll be free.” Similarly, when we are diseased, if I speculate at home that “My disease will be cured in this way and that way,” no. That is useless. You go to an authorized physician, and he will give you a nice prescription, and you’ll be cured. That is the process of knowledge. But in the modern age people think that “I am free, I am independent, and I can make my own solution.” That is rascaldom. That’s not good. So Arjuna, when he was talking with Krishna as friend, but when he saw that there was no solution talking like this, he surrendered to Krishna. He said, sishyas te ’ham, aham: “Myself, I surrender unto You as Your disciple.” Sishyas te ’ham sadhi mam prapannam. Prapannam means surrender. So that is the Vedic injunction, that if you want to know transcendental knowledge or science… “Transcendental” means beyond the scope of your direct perception.
So spiritual knowledge is beyond the scope of our sense speculation. Beyond the scope. Just like when a soul, a spiritual spark only, leaves this body, you cannot see. Therefore, atheistic class of men, they speculate, “There may be a soul; there may not be soul.” Or, “The bodily function was going like this; now it stopped. The blood corpuscles now cease. It is no more red; it is white; therefore life…” These are speculation. This is not actual knowledge. Actual knowledge you get from the authority, Krishna. He says, tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati. Just like the soul is passing through different stages. Dehino ’smin yatha dehe. Deha, deha means this body. Asmin dehe, in this body, there is dehi. Dehi means who is the owner of this body. That is soul. That is passing through childhood, boyhood, babyhood, youthhood, old age. Everyone, you can perceive that you were a child, you were a baby, you were a boy. Now you are young or old man. So you are there. So as you are passing through different types of bodies, similarly, when you give up this body you accept another body. What is the difficulty? Tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati. There is no question of becoming astonished, how transmigration of the self, soul, takes place. The vivid example is there. Simply you require little intelligence. That intelligence is developed through the instruction of acarya. Therefore, Vedic injunction is not to acquire knowledge by speculation. That is useless. Athapi te deva padambuja-dvayam janati tattvam prasada-lesanugrihita eva hi, na canya eko ’pi ciram vicinvan. Ciram vicinvan. Ciram means for thousands of years you can speculate; you cannot understand what is God. That is not possible. But if you receive knowledge from the devotee, he can deliver you. Therefore Vedic injunction is that tad-vijnana… (break) …in order to understand tad-vijnana… Vijnana means science. If you want to know the transcendental science, then you must approach a guru. Tad-vijnanartham, in order to… If you are at all interested to understand the spiritual science. Tad- vijnanartham (sa) gurum eva abhigacchet. You must approach guru. Guru means this disciplic succession, as I have explained.
So Bhaktivinoda Thakura is an ideal guru. He was not a sannyasi; he was grihastha, householder, living with family, wife, children. Still, he was guru. So anyone can become guru. Not that a sannyasi can become guru. A householder also can become guru, provided he knows the science. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, when He was talking with Ramananda Raya… Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a sannyasi, very highly born in brahmana family, very learned scholar. So He was talking with Ramananda Raya, a grihastha, governor of Madras. And He was questioning, and Ramananda Raya was answering. That means he was taking the part of guru, and Caitanya Mahaprabhu was taking the part of a disciple. So he was hesitating, Ramananda Raya. He thought himself that “I am a grihastha; I’m not even a brahmana. Besides that, I am dealing in material affairs. I am governor, politics. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu is a sannyasi, born of a high-class brahmana family. So it does not look well that I shall teach Him.” So he was hesitating. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Oh, why you are hesitating?” He said,
kiba vipra, kiba sudra, nyasi kene naya
yei krishna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya He said, “Don’t hesitate. Either one may become a brahmana or one may become a sudra…” Kiba vipra, kiba sudra. Vipra means brahmana, and sudra. Sudra is the fourth-grade human being. Brahmana is the first grade. So kiba vipra, kiba sudra. He may be a first-grade human being or the lowest grade human being, or he may become a sannyasi or a grihastha. It does not matter. Anyone who knows the science of Krishna, he can become a guru. This is the verdict. Because spiritual science does not belong to the bodily platform. It is on the spiritual platform. It is very nice. Just like when you go to a lawyer or to an engineer or to a physician. You do not inquire whether he’s a brahmana or sudra. Simply you have to know whether he’s a lawyer. That’s all. Whether he’s a physician actually. If he knows the medical science, he may be a brahmana, he may be a sudra, he may be a sannyasi, he may be a householder. It doesn’t matter. Your business is with a physician, with a lawyer. Similarly, your business is to understand Krishna. So anyone who knows Krishna perfectly, you have to go there. Tad- vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. It is… Vedic injunction is not that you have to approach a sannyasi or a grihastha or an Indian or American. No. Gurum. And guru means who knows the science of Krishna.
So, this Bhaktivinoda Thakura was grihastha, very responsible officer, magistrate. And he was so exalted that he would come from his office generally at five o’clock, then take his supper and immediately go to bed. Immediately. Say at seven o’clock in the evening he goes to bed, and he wakes up at twelve o’clock. So suppose he goes to bed at seven o’clock in the evening and wakes up at twelve o’clock at night; it is sufficient sleep, five hours. One should not sleep more than five to six hours. Minimize as far as possible. The Gosvamis used to sleep not more than one and a half hour, or two hours. Sleeping is not very important thing. Even big politicians, they used to sleep for two hours. So especially in spiritual line, they should minimize as far as possible eating, sleeping, mating, defending. Minimize. Gradually it comes to nil. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, he was eating only a little piece of butter every alternate days, not daily. So this Bhaktivinoda Thakura, regularly he was coming from his office, and after taking his supper immediately he goes to bed, and wake up at twelve o’clock, and he used to write books. He wrote, he left behind him about one hundred books. And he excavated the birthplace of Lord Caitanya, organized how to develop that birth site, Mayapur. He had so many business. He used to go to preach about Caitanya’s philosophy. He used to sell books to foreign countries. In 1896 he attempted to sell Life and Precepts of Caitanya in the MacGill University in Montreal. So he was busy, acarya. So one has to adjust things. Not that “Because I am grihastha, householder, I cannot become a preacher. It is the business…” (aside:) Give me water. “It is the business of the sannyasi or brahmacari.” No. It is the business of everyone. The whole world is suffering for want of knowledge. The present civilization is animal civilization. They do not know anything beyond eating, sleeping, mating and defending. That’s all. This is animal civilization. Animal does not know beyond these four principles of life: eating, sleeping, mating and defending. That’s all. No. Human life is meant for something else: “What I am? What is God? What is my relation with God? What is this material world? Why I am here? Where I have to go next?” So many things one has to learn. Athato brahma-jijnasa. This is human life. Not that eat and sleep and have sex life and die someday like cats and dogs. Therefore, there is need of acaryas, teachers, for propagating spiritual knowledge, Krishna consciousness. Bhaktivinoda Thakura was… Although he was a grihastha, householder, a government officer, magistrate, but he was acarya. So from his dealings, from his life, we should learn how one can become a preacher in any stage of life. It doesn’t matter what he is.
There was one incidence, very interesting. When he was magistrate in Jagannatha Puri… The system is… Jagannatha temple is a very big establishment. In the temple fifty-six times daily, bhoga is offered. And you’ll find in the temple always at least five hundred to one thousand people gathered. And they come from outside, and prasada is ready. If you go and ask in the Jagannatha temple that “We are one hundred men come from outside. We want prasada,” yes, immediately ready. So it is a huge temple. This is one temple, but there are many other thousands of temple in India where prasada is distributed. Now it is minimized by our present government. They think that it is unnecessary expenditure. They are minimizing. But not unnecessary expenditure. They do not understand. Formerly, in India there was no necessity of hotel. Anyone goes anywhere, even in a village, he goes to a temple—prasada is ready. There is no need of going to a hotel. You pay or don’t pay. If you say that “I want little prasada,” “Yes, take it.” That is the system still. There is the Nathadvara temple in Rajasthan. You pay two annas only. Two annas means one cent. You get sumptuous prasada for two mens, all very nice prasada, still. So prasada distribution in temple is longstanding usage. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura… The Jagannatha temple is managed by a body, and it is the custom that the local magistrate of the district, he becomes the president, or manager. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura was manager in that sense, because he was magistrate. The managing committee was being presided by him. So there was a complaint. In Orissa, this Jagannatha temple is situated in Orissa. Utkala. Utkala, this state, was originally belonging to Dhruva Maharaja. His son’s name was Utkala, Maharaja Utkala. Anyway, so this Utkala, there was a pseudo yogi. He declared himself that… Just like you’ll find nowadays also, there are so many rascals declaring that “I am incarnation of God.” And they know some mystic power, play some jugglery, and foolish people take them: “Oh, he’s God.” So there appeared one like such pseudo God, Vishnu, in a village of Orissa. And he was dancing rasa dance, and foolish people were sending their daughters and wife to dance with him. You see? There were so many. Not only that. People are so foolish, they do not know… They want to be cheated, and these cheaters come. He declared that “I am God. I am Vishnu.” So there were sane men also. They took objection, “What is this nonsense? This man is dancing with ladies and gentlemen, er, girls.” So they filed a complaint. At that time it was British rule. They complained to the governor or the commissioner, very high officer. The commissioner knew that Bhaktivinoda Thakura… His name was Kedaranatha Datta. Datta. Kedaranatha Datta, his household name. So the commissioner of the division, he knew that Kedaranatha Datta is a religious man, and he’s magistrate in charge. So he handed over the case for inquiry, “What is this complaint? You please inquire and do the needful.” So he was a pure devotee, and he understood that “This rascal is a bogus man, cheating people. I must inquire.” So he went to the village in plain dress with some constables, police constables. They were also in plain dress. And as soon as he approached that rascal yogi, he said, “Oh, you are Kedaranatha Datta. So, very nice. You are… I shall make you king of India. Please don’t try to bother me.” Because he could know that “He has come to inquire about my rasa-lila.” So Bhaktivinoda Thakura first of all said, “Sir, you are such a great yogi. Why you are in the village? Why don’t you go to Jagannatha Puri? There is temple and Lord Jagannatha is there. Better you go there and see the Lord and be happy. Why you are in this village?” “Oh, Jagannatha? Ah, that is made of wood. I am personally the Supreme Lord. That is made of wood.” Oh, then Bhaktivinoda Thakura—he was a devotee—he became fire. (laughter) He was insulting. Arcye sila-dhir gurushu nara-matih. According to sastra, if somebody thinks… Just like here is Deity. If somebody thinks, “Oh, it is made of stone…” It is stone to the eyes of the nondevotee, but it is personally Supreme Personality of Godhead to the devotees. It requires the eyes to see. So devotee sees in a different angle of vision. Just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu, when He entered Jagannatha temple immediately He fainted: “Oh, here is My Lord.” And the nondevotee is seeing: “It is wood, a lump of wood.” Therefore, to the nondevotee, He remains always as wood, but to the devotee He speaks. That is the difference. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena. If God is everything, why wood, through wood and stone, God cannot manifest? If God is everything? According to Mayavada philosophy… That’s a fact. God, omnipotent. He can express Himself even through wood and stone. That is God’s omnipotency. That is called omnipotency. Not that God is unable to express Himself through wood and stone. Then how He’s omnipotent? Omnipotent means His potency can be expressed through anything. Because anything, everything is the expansion of God’s energy. Parasya brahmanah saktis tathedam akhilam jagat. The whole world is manifestation of different energies of God. Therefore… Just like through the energy of electricity the electric powerhouse, although far, far away from this place, was expressing. There is electricity. Through this glass, through these wires, the power can be expressed. There is a process.
So Bhaktivinoda Thakura became very much… Because a devotee cannot tolerate blaspheming another devotee or God. So as soon as he said that “Why shall I go to Jagannatha Puri to see the wooden Jagannatha? I am personally Vishnu,” Bhaktivinoda Thakura immediately ordered his constables, “Arrest him. Arrest this rascal.” So he was arrested. And when he was arrested… He had some yogic mystic power. All the constables, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, and his family members became affected with high fever, 105 degrees fever. So when he came back, his wife became very much disturbed that “You arrested Vishnu, and we are all going to die. We have now high fever.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura replied, “Yes, let us all die, but this rascal must be punished.” This is the view of pure devotee. So he was put into the custody. And there was a date fixed for his trial, and all these days Bhaktivinoda Thakura himself and his family especially, they were suffering from high fever. Maybe that yogi was planning to kill the whole family. But it was going on as fever. So on the trial day, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Kedaranatha Datta, when he came to the bench the man was presented, the so-called yogi, and he had big, big hairs. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered that “Bring one barber and cut his hair.” So no barber dared. The barbers thought, “Oh, he’s a Lord Vishnu. If I offend, as he’s suffering from fever, so I shall also die.” So Bhaktivinoda Thakura ordered that “Give me the scissor. I’ll cut.” So he cut his hairs and ordered him to be put into jail for six months, and in the jail that Vishnu incarnation managed to take some poison, and he died.
So this is one of the incidents. There are many incidences. He was very strong man. He punished many pandas in the tirthas who exploit visitors. So, this is the position of devotee. In spite of his becoming a responsible magistrate, a householder, still, he was acarya. So we have to follow the acaryas. If we at all, if we are at all interested in spiritual science, then we must follow the Vedic instruction, tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. We must approach. You cannot have spiritual knowledge simply by speculating. Impossible. Simply waste of time. Srama eva hi kevalam. You must go to the… In the Bhagavad-gita, therefore, it is recommended, acaryopasanam. Acarya-upasana. Not only worshiping the Lord, but also the acarya. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, guru-krishna-kripaya paya bhakti- lata-bija. Guru, acarya, and Krishna. One should seek favor of both of them. Not that “I am now seeking favor of Krishna. What is the use of guru or acarya?” No. You cannot overlap acarya and go to Krishna. That is not possible. Krishna will not accept you. Just like if you want to see a big man you should go through his secretary, through his orderly, doorkeeper; similarly, our process is acaryopasanam, go through the acarya. That is the injunction of the Vedas. Tarko ’pratishthah. If you want to enter into the spiritual world, you cannot get through simply by arguments. Because there is no limit of argument. I place my argument in one way. Another man, who is better arguer, he places his argument in a different way. So if you simply go on arguing, it is not possible. Tarko ’pratishthah. It will never help you. Argument. Srutayo vibhinnah. If you think that “I shall read scriptures and I shall understand God,” no, that is also not possible. Srutayo vibhinnah. Scriptures are also different. Because scriptures are made according to time, circumstances, people. Just like Bible. Bible Lord Jesus Christ preached in the desert, Jerusalem. Or where it is? People who were not so advanced. Therefore his first instruction is “Thou shall not kill.” That means they were very much engaged in killing affairs; otherwise, why is this instruction? And actually, it so happened that they killed Jesus Christ. So that society was not very enlightened society. So a scripture for a society which is not very enlightened and a scripture for a society which is very enlightened must be different. Just like a dictionary. For the schoolboy, a pocket dictionary. And for a college student, international, big dictionary. Both of them are dictionaries. But the small pocket dictionary is not equal to the big dictionary. Because it is different made for different classes of men. So scriptures are made according to different classes of men. There are three classes of men: first-class, second-class, and third-class. The third-class man cannot understand the philosophy and scriptural injunctions of the first-class man. That is not possible. Higher mathematics cannot be understood by the small schoolboys who are simply trying to understand “Two plus two equal to four.” But “Two plus two equal to four” is equally good to the higher mathematics student. But still, higher mathematics and lower math is different. Therefore it is said, srutayo vibhinnah: the scriptures are different. So if you simply try to understand what is God by reading scriptures, you cannot achieve. You must approach a guru. Just like a medical book. It can be available in the market. If you purchase one medical book and study and you become doctor, that is not possible. You must hear the medical book from a medical man in the college, medical college. Then you will be qualified. And if you say, “Sir, I have read all the medical books. Recognize me as a medical practitioner,” no, that will be not.
So srutayo vibhinnah. Scriptures are different. Arguments, that is also not helpful. One man may argue better than me. Then philosophy. The philosophy, it is said, nasau munir yasya matam na bhinnam. One philosopher is differing from another philosopher. Just now today Syamasundara has purchased one book about different philosophers. So that you also cannot ascertain what is truth. Therefore sastra says, dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam. The truth is very confidential. So if you want to know that truth, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah, you should have to follow the great acaryas. Then you will understand. Therefore acarya-upasana is essential. Acarya-upasana is very essential. In all the Vedic sastras the injunction is that. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet, srotriyam brahma- nishtham. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam. Anyone who is inquisitive to understand higher truths, he must surrender to guru. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta, jijnasuh sreya uttamam. One who is inquisitive, who is now inquiring about transcendental subject matter. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya. So all the sastras says, in our Vaishnava sastra also, Rupa Gosvami says, adau gurv-asrayam: “In the first beginning, you must take shelter of a bona fide guru.”
So this Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s birthday, we should adore, we should worship, because in the modern age he reintroduced the disciplic succession. From Caitanya Mahaprabhu… Five hundred years ago, Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught this philosophy, but within two hundred years… Because this material world is so made that whatever you introduce, in due course of time it will deteriorate. You make a nice house, but after one hundred years, two hundred years, or nowadays, even after fifty years, it becomes dilapidated. That is the nature’s law, kala. Time will destroy everything. Now, British empire, such a big, vast empire, now it is finished. The kala, the time, will make everything finished. That is material. Anything material, it has birth, it has growth, it has got some opulence, then dwindling, then finished. That is the way of material… So we are interested in spiritual subject matter. Therefore the process is adau gurv-asrayam. One has to accept a bona fide spiritual master. That is our process. Without accepting a bona fide spiritual master, we cannot make any progress. It is impossible. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura happens to be acaryas, one of the acaryas. And he has left behind him many books. Caitanya-sikshamrita, Jaiva Dharma. These are very important books. They’re in Bengali, in Sanskrit. And many songs. He has prepared many books of song. The song, Ei nam gaya gauracand madhura svare, that is Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s song. So we are trying to present Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s books also in English translation. Gradually you will get it. So our adoration, our worship to Bhaktivinoda Thakura today because he may bless us to make peacefully progress in Krishna consciousness. Acarya-upasana, simply by the blessings of the acaryas we can make very rapid progress. Vedeshu durlabham adurlabham atma- bhaktau. If we… Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah… We sing every day. By the mercy of the spiritual master, acarya, we immediately get the blessings of Lord. Immediately. Yasya prasadat. Yasya means “whose”; prasadat, “benediction.” By the benediction of the spiritual master. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. If spiritual master, acarya, is pleased, then you should know that Krishna is also pleased. You should know through. This is not very difficult. Just like you are working in office. If your immediate officer, boss, is pleased, that means the proprietor of the firm, he’s also pleased. Although you do not see him. This is fact. Your immediate boss, if he’s pleased. So similarly, we, our business, this spiritual line, is guru-krishna- kripa. We have to first receive the merciful benediction from the acarya, and then Krishna will be pleased and He’ll also give His blessings. Mad-bhakta. There is a version in the Srimad- Bhagavatam, mad-bhakta pujyabhyadhika. He says, Krishna says, that “If anyone worships Me directly and if anyone worships Me through the acarya, he’s better devotee who is coming to Me through acarya.” Mad-bhakta pujyabhyadhika.
So our, this Vaishnava philosophy, process, is to go through the acarya. Servant of the servant of the servant. We should try to become servant of the servant. Gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah. Dasa-dasanudasah. We should not approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. That is not good. That will not be… In the Vedic injunction also it is said, yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau. If one has got unflinching faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, yatha deve, and similar faith in guru… Of course, we must make guru bona fide. Then it is disciplic succession. And that is also not very difficult to select, who is bona fide guru. Bona fide guru means he presents himself as servant of God. He does not pose himself falsely that “I am God.” This is bona fide. It is not difficult to find out bona fide. But this is the test. If anyone says that “I am guru,” er, “I am God,” then he cannot be guru. Because he has no knowledge. How he is God? But he can cheat some people. That is different thing. You can cheat all people for some time and some people for all time, but not all people for all time. That is not possible. So these kinds of guru, who poses themself that “I am God,” he’s a false guru. The bona fide guru will say that “I am servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna,” or God. Servant of. That is the business of guru. He serves Krishna as Krishna desires; that is his business. That is also not very difficult. Krishna says, Krishna desires, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja, that “You give up all other engagement; just surrender unto Me, and I’ll give you protection.” Krishna says. So guru’s business is that “You simply surrender to Krishna.” What is the difficulty? Simply repeat the same thing. Not for himself, but for Krishna. He’s bona fide guru.
So our this Krishna consciousness movement is very bona fide because we say the same thing as Krishna says. We don’t make any addition, alteration. Not like big scholars like, “It is not to Krishna…” Krishna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru, and the scholar interprets, “It is not to Krishna.” Just see (the) foolishness. Krishna directly says, “unto Me.” He says, “Not to Krishna.” Misleading. Such misleading guru will not help you. So therefore to find out a bona fide guru means that he does not change the words of Krishna. That is his position. He places everything as it is, and he has understood thoroughly the science. Jijnasuh sreya uttamam. Guru, what is the symptom of guru? Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam. Those who are inquisitive to understand higher scientific knowledge, uttamam. Uttama means higher. Uttama, madhyama, adhama. There are three words. First-class, second-class, third-class. So spiritual knowledge is uttamam. Anyone who is inquisitive to understand first-class knowledge, he requires to go to a guru. Those who are interested in third-class knowledge, they do not require any guru. Third-class knowledge means animal knowledge: how to eat, how to sleep. How to make arrangement for eating, how to make arrangement for sleeping, that is third-class knowledge. Because the animals also try for this kind of knowledge, how to eat, how to sleep. Therefore this kind of knowledge is third-class knowledge. And second-class knowledge is “What I am?” Athato brahma-jijnasa. The Vedanta. That is second-class knowledge. And first-class knowledge, when he actually understands what he is, he is eternal servant of Krishna, and engages himself in the service of the Lord, that is first-class knowledge. And therefore, as soon as he comes to the first-class knowledge platform, he becomes happy.
na socati na kankshati
samah sarveshu bhuteshu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
So after being liberated from the material concept of life by the blessings of Krishna and guru, one comes to the platform of first-class knowledge, where he engages himself directly in the service of the Lord. That is first-class knowledge. First-class knowledge means beyond liberation. Second-class knowledge is trying for liberation. Third-class knowledge means in bondage, like animal. The animals, they are bound up by the particular type of body and has no, I mean to say, possibility of becoming liberated. That is animal life. But human life is better than animal life because he, if he likes, he can make himself liberated from this bondage of material body. That is the facility. He can understand himself what he is. He can understand what is God. He can understand the relationship between God and himself. He can understand what is this material world. Because there are thousands of books of knowledge. Take it for Bhagavad- gita. Everything is there. And it is meant for human being, not for the cats and dogs. Cats and dogs cannot understand, but a human being can understand.
So our this Krishna consciousness movement is to enlighten people to utilize his very nice life, human form of life, utilize it properly. To utilize it properly means to revive his dormant Krishna consciousness. The Krishna consciousness, or God consciousness, is there already. It is developed in human form of life. But it is now covered because due to our association with this material world for unlimited years background. We are coming through different species of life. Millions and millions of years passed away. Suppose I was a tree sometimes. I was standing up for ten thousand years in one place. We have passed through. That’s a fact. That is evolution. Now we have the opportunity of light. If you don’t use this opportune moment and again go back to the cycle of evolutionary process, jalaja nava-laksani sthavara… So these are great science. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity for the people to study this science in school, colleges, or universities. They are simply teaching people that “You work hard and gratify your senses.” That’s all. Therefore a section, younger section, they have been disgusted. They have refused to cooperate with this society on account of this disappointing education. And it will increase. Because this sort of education cannot give peace or prosperity to the people. Problems are increasing. Therefore, our request is that if you want to decrease or completely finish all the problems of life, take to Krishna consciousness in the process of disciplic succession and you’ll be all happy.
Thank you very much. (devotees offer obeisances)
Syamasundara: Prabhupada, are you going to answer any questions?
Syamasundara: If anyone has any questions pertaining to the lecture, you can ask them at this time. They should be pertaining to the lecture.
Devotee girl: Did Bhaktivinoda Thakura, he also took sannyasa in later years? Is this right?
Syamasundara: Did Bhaktivinoda Thakura take sannyasa in later years?
Prabhupada: Yes. In very late years. In his retired life.
Syamasundara: Any other questions?
Devotee: Prabhupada, you say that an animal has no chance for liberation. What would happen if an animal came in contact with a pure devotee?
Prabhupada: Yes, there is chance of deliverance. Yes. Even an animal. Because he’ll hear Hare Krishna from the pure devotee. That will not go in vain. He’ll give prasadam. He does not know, but the devotee out of compassion gives prasadam, chants Hare Krishna. He also gets the opportunity of hearing. So he’ll also be liberated. One dog, during Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s time, he also became liberated. There is a history. Sivananda Sena’s dog, he was liberated by the grace of Lord Caitanya. So by the association of pure devotee… Therefore Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s, there is one song. He prays to the Lord that kita-janma hou jatha tuya dasa. Kita means insect. “My Lord, if I have to take my birth again…” Because a devotee does not pray to God for liberation. He simply prays that “Wherever I may take my birth, I may not forget You.” That’s all. That is devotee’s prayer. A devotee does not say that “Elevate me to the heavenly planet or Vaikuntha planet.” No. “You can put me anywhere.” Just like Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, kita-janma hou: “My dear Lord, I have no objection if I have to take my birth next as an insect.” What to speak of human being or other thing. “As an insect. But I must be in the house of a devotee.” So that an insect, by eating the remnants of foodstuff left by the devotee, he’ll be delivered. Kita-janma hou jatha tuya, bahir-mukha brahma-janma nahi mora asa: “I don’t want my next birth as Lord Brahma if I forget You. I don’t want.” That is wanted. A devotee prays to the Lord that he would be able to constantly remember the lotus feet of the Lord. Never mind whether as insect or as king or as dog, never mind. That is devotee’s, pure devotee.
Indian man: If one has accepted a bona fide spiritual master and he did not receive much knowledge from him, can he change his spiritual master at later…
Prabhupada: A bona fide spiritual master, where is the necessity of changing?
Indian man: No, he has not got the knowledge from him, but can I change…?
Prabhupada: No, no. Bona fide spiritual means he must get knowledge. He must get knowledge. He must inquire from the… The student must inquire from the spiritual master. If he remains dumb, then what bona fide spiritual master can do? Adau gurv- asrayam sad-dharma-pricchat, jijnasuh. He must be jijnasuh. He must be jijnasuh. We get so many letters daily. So many inquiries. The student must be very inquisitive. Otherwise how he shall make progress? If he remains dumb, then what the bona fide spiritual master can do? If you go to a very nice school but if you do not study, if you do not inquire, then what is the use of going to the nice school? You must be also very alert to inquire, to understand, to make progress. Then it will be all right. If you do not utilize the benefit of having a bona fide spiritual master, then that is your fault. You must utilize the opportunity. We are publishing so many books, so many literatures, magazines. Why? Just to enlighten more and more. But if you don’t take advantage of this, then how can you make progress? Change of spiritual master requires when the spiritual master is not bona fide. Otherwise there is no necessity of changing.
Indian lady: How does one contact the spiritual master? Through a book can you contact the spiritual master?
Prabhupada: No, you have to associate.
Syamasundara: “Can you associate through a book?” she asked.
Prabhupada: Yes, through books, and also personal. Because when you make a spiritual master you have got personal touch. Not that in air you make a spiritual master. You make a spiritual master concrete. So as soon as you make a spiritual master, you should be inquisitive.
English man: If the spiritual master, Prabhupada, worships God through a demigod, is he bona fide?
Prabhupada: No. He does not know how to worship. How he can be bona fide? Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam. Why he should go to the demigods? That means he has no knowledge. Krishna says, mam ekam. Why should you go to others? That means he’s insufficiently qualified. Why should you go to the demigods? What is the necessity? He’s not bona fide. Because he has insufficient knowledge. Bona fide spiritual must be sufficiently knowledge. Krishna says, mam ekam; God says, mam ekam. Why he should go to demigods? That is his proof that he’s not bona fide.
Devotee: If one accepts initiation from a bona fide spiritual master but continues to perform material activities, are they still bound by the karma?
Prabhupada: He has to do everything under the instruction of the spiritual master. That is his duty. Sishya. Sishya means who voluntarily accepts disciplinary measures from the spiritual master. He’s ruled by the spiritual master.
Indian lady: Can the death of a spiritual master take to us, or I can get… Is that spiritual master still guiding after the death? (?)
Prabhupada: Yes, yes. Just like Krishna is guiding us, similarly, spiritual master will guide. We are being guided by Krishna, by the Bhagavad-gita. Although Krishna is not physically present, so- called… Krishna is present always. But even if we say that Krishna is not physically present as He was present before Arjuna, still, His book, Bhagavad-gita, is there. And that Bhagavad-gita is nondifferent from Krishna. Krishna and Krishna’s teaching, the same, absolute. That is Absolute Truth. Krishna and Krishna’s… Here form, the same. It is not that we are making show of offering Krishna some food. No, we are offering directly to Krishna and He’s eating. Krishna being absolute, He can perform through anything provided we are sincere and serious. All right. (end)
(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 23rd September 1969. Appearance Day lecture of His Divine Grace Srila Sac Cid Ananda Bhaktivinod Thakur Prabhupada. London.)
Note: Special thanks to Jaya Tirtha Caran prabhu from NZ for allowing us to use some of the content from his site to compile these pages.