Teachings of Vaishnava Acharya:
These appearance days, disappearance days of great Vaishnava Acharyas give us a wonderful opportunity to remember the teachings and examples of these great personalities who are Acharyas. Acharya means one who teaches by their words, by their lives. We are in the midst of reading about the contemplation and meditation of Sri Advaita Acharya. How he was. Although an incarnation of Godhead himself, he felt himself in the mood of a servitor or he felt himself incapable and incompetent to deliver the conditional souls from the mires of illusion in the midst of this age of Kali, in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy. Therefore we have been reading about how Advaita Acharya, how in his heart he was thinking, how could he find any satisfaction or pleasure even in his loving relation with Krishna, when he sees all of his brothers and sisters here in this world suffering due to forgetfulness, suffering due to illusion and this created a feeling of deep great compassion within his heart and therefore he decided to call out in humble prayer of suBabaji Maharaj ission for Lord Sri Krishna to descend.
Sahajiyaism – sure way to lose Krishna Consciousness:
Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur presents the same compassionate spiritual frame of mind. He was also an empowered incarnation of Godhead. He descended to this world only for purpose of establishing the true principles of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. But he could see all around him such a degraded and fallen condition in human society, such rampant materialism, such perverted understandings and practices in the name of religion. He saw around him, even in the name of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings; it was so rare to find anyone who had a conception of what Sri Chaitanya mahaprabhu was really teaching. There was a tremendous movement of sahajiyaism at that time. Sahajiya means one who takes everything cheaply, one who thinks without properly disciplining oneself according to the principles of Krishna consciousness made out by Srila Rupa Goswami. One can immediately attain high level of spirituality but he saw that the general population was being misled by such sahajiya. Many of these sahajiya groups were endorsing illicit sex even in the name of acting the divine conjugal rasa of Radha and Krishna. Many saw more meaning in simply bhajan kirtans for the sake of crying and these emotional tears of so called ecstasy were seen as something very much the essence and the purpose and the means of self realization and neglecting the rules and regulations to control one’s life to bring one to a point where one can actually purify one’s heart. So in this way, people were showing all sorts of ecstasies, weeping all sorts of tears, but not teaching the real philosophy and life as given by Gauranga mahaprabhu and Srila Rupa Goswami. And also people were engaged in activities of debauchery and using Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s name to justify it.
Prayers by Bhakti Vinod Thakur:
So Bhakti Vinod Thakur was thinking, in this totally materialistic condition of life what can I do. He did his best. In the mood of Sri Advaita Acharya he began to pray. He prayed for a ray of Vishnu to appear in this world, to establish the true teachings of Sri Gauranga mahaprabhu. Because you see Advaita Acharya understood that it was the time for Krishna to appear himself so he called for Krishna directly. But Bhakti Vinod Thakur did not want to interfere with Krishna’s schedule as he gives in shastras. He did not ask for Krishna to appear. “Krishna, I know you do not appear again in this age of kali Yuga until the Kalki avatar, so I will not ask that of you”. But he asked for someone as good as Krishna himself, His empowered representative, His empowered devotee, the ray of Vishnu, to come to give light to this world of darkness. So he prayed and he prayed and of course Krishna cannot refuse the sweet and pure prayer of his surrendered devotee, especially when that prayer is in the mood of preaching in the compassionate spirit of bhakti Vinod Thakur.
Pastimes of Vimal Prasad Dutta:
Srila bhakti Vinod Thakur, who at that time living in Sri Purushottam kshetra Jagannath Puri dham, had a beautiful son. He was named Vimal Prasad Dutta. Vimal is the name of the internal potency of Lord Jagannath. Vimal Prasad means the mercy of the internal potency of Sri Jagannath dev and when he was born all the thirty two markings of a very great personality were upon him. And procuring enough umbilical cords was draped like a sacred thread of a Brahmin around his neck and his waist. When various astrologers saw him and looked into his horoscope they were struck with wonder that they had never seen any horoscope like this. One astrologer said that, “This personality will be such a great personality, that according to all my readings, he will change the course of human society”. When he was six months old, it was the time for the ceremony where a child takes his first grain, at that time the rathyatra was taking place and rathyatra would come right by the house of Bhakti Vinod Thakur. He lived right on that road just a few minutes’ walk from Jagannath dev’s temple and for three days the cart remained there it would not move. So during that time, right in front of the house Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s wife whose name was Bhagavati devi, she brought the baby child and presented him at the lotus feet of Sri Jagannath dev and just at that time the garland fell around his neck and they were very happy and then they gave him from Jagannath’s Maha prasad. Right in the presence of Jagannath, they gave him his first grains.
Srila Prabhupada tells us how when he was only two or three years old, he took one mango that was meant to be offered to Krishna and his father said, “These mangos must be first offered to Krishna”. The child said, “What a wretched sinful person I am, for trying to enjoy what belongs to Krishna. I will never take a mango as long as I live and he followed that vow”. Srila Prabhupada told us that when the devotees would give him mango, even though he was an old man, he would say, “I am an offender. I cannot eat mango”. He took so seriously. In this way, he was teaching us by his examples, how seriously we should take our life in Krishna consciousness. It is the tendencies for devotees to take things very lightly, to be very whimsical in what we say about others and what we do, what we eat. But Srila bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur wanted to reveal to us how a devotee should be very very cautious and very careful and very serious to do everything very properly in Krishna‘s service. We should never offend Krishna and Vaisnavas. So Bhakti Vinod Thakur saw in his son that Krishna has fulfilled his inner most prayer. And how brilliant of a student he was, even from the age of seven years old, he had already memorized Gita. He could already give the perfect explanation and purports. Through his life, he and his father went through great great pains and efforts to establish the pure truth of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s teachings.
Congregational chanting recommended for Kaliyuga:
Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur he became very unpopular, he had to undergo great persecution because he was against the idea of cast by birth, and he was giving the mantra the Hare Krishna maha mantra to every one without discrimination. It is described that, when they were living in Jagannath Puri, when he was just a child, they moved from Puri dham to a place in Bengal called Rann ghat where his father was shifted. He was a magistrate in the British courts and later on they went back to Jagannath Puri for some time and bhakti Vinod Thakur he obtained a little piece of land where he constructed a bhajan kutir and they lived together. At that time there was a babaji, who would come regularly to their classes to hear bhakti Vinod Thakur speaking, bhakti Siddhanta speaking. He was very much impressed. He was a very famous babaji. And he had belief that the Hare Krishna mantra should not be chanted out loud, it should be only chanted in japa and it is such a mahamantra such a sacred mantra. It should not be sung in kirtan so therefore what he did was, he was teaching to chant mahamantra in japa in silence but for kirtan he created another mahamantra that mantra was “Nitai Gaur Radheshyam Hare Krsna Hare Rama”. Now when Bhakti Vinod and Bhakti Siddhanta heard this, first of all they understood that this mantra is rasa bhas. It is mixing of contrary mellows and also the purpose of this mantra was in replacement of mahamantra for kirtan and they understood that the according to teachings of Lord Gauranga mahaprabhu and according to the teaching of Srila Rupa Goswami, this mahamantra should be chanted in kirtan indeed as a matter of fact Bhakti Siddhant and Bhakti Vinod Thakur preached that in japa and kirtan, kirtan is most important. They are both essential but the sankirtan, the congregational chanting is especially, in this age of Kaliyuga, recommended. So they preached very strongly against this mantra and they preached very strongly for the chanting of Hare Krishna mantra because of this they became unpopular in Jagannath Puri and many people criticized them and threatened them. But you see they wanted to protect real truth of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings because nobody else was really doing this.
Discovery of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s birth place:
There were so many great babajis, who were maintaining highest standards. But they were basically keeping to themselves and they were not coming out and fighting against and reliving that discrepancy in name of teaching of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu. So later, it is described that one time his father was to give a lecture on what is Brahmin and what is a Vaishnava but he was feeling ill. Thakur Vimal Prasad, he went to give this lecture instead and because it was filled with cast Brahmins, what he did was first began to glorify the cast of Brahmins and the qualities of Brahmins, attributes of Brahmins, importance of following and surrendering to Brahmins. So all the Brahmins their hearts were melting like anything, they were thinking ahh he is great scholar, we have never heard any one glorifying our cast like him. So they really their hearts, their minds, their ears everything was surrendering to the beautiful discourse of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta. So pleasing to them and every one and he turned whole thing around and explained that Brahmin is not by birth; yes we have exalted the prominence and importance of Brahmins but even if a person is born in a family of dog eaters he is better than Brahmin if he is chanting the holy name and you can initiate any one in a Brahmin order whatever their birth is if they simply have quality of a vaishnava. So in this way they became very much defeated. And people were coming and standing in line to touch his lotus feet. He also wrote his commentary on Surya. Siddhant and he was great astrologer as well and for this he was awarded the name Saraswati, Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati on another occasion, his father was very much anxious to shift to Navadvipa Dham to live there. So Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur moved to Navadvipa Dham and along with his father Bhakti Vinod Thakur moved to a place called Godrum Dvipa, which is near Surabhi kunj and there Bhakti Vinod Thakur was giving discourses each day. Shortly after arriving at Godrum Dvipa, Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur discovered the actual birth place of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Request for initiation:
So there was a very very great paramahansa who was living in Vrindavan from many many years. He heard that Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s birthplace has been discovered and that Bhakti Vinod Thakur was giving wonderful lectures on the life and teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This paramahansa was very much anxious to see the beautiful birth side of the Lord and to associate with the Bhakti Vinod Thakur. His name was Gaur Kishori Das Babaji Maharaj . And he was disciple of Bhagavad das Babaji Maharaj who was disciple of Jagannath Das Babaji Maharaj and he came to Navadvipa. He was wearing tiger skin hat and had bag full of japa beads and little bag of paraphernalia for puja, when he came to Navadvipa. This is how Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur first saw his Gurudev and he was thinking how this man was very pure, this man is very great. So Bhakti Vinod Thakur urged him very strongly that he should accept initiation from Gaur Kishori Das Babaji Maharaj so he approached Gaur Kishori Das Babaji Maharaj , He was very humble. In his earlier life, he was grain merchant and at the young age he left his family and he left everything and went to Vrindavan and became very very empowered paramahansa. So much so that of everyone, all of Vrindavan, all the sadhus, the sages, the babas, the Vrajwasis they respected Gaur Kishori Das the most. He was just so illustrious in his realizations, in his purity, in his empowerment, especially his renunciation, in the mood of divine separation from the Lord so Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, he requested that, “You kindly, if it is your divine mercy, will you accept me as your disciple?” Gaur Kishori Das was very humble, very much like Loknath Goswami`s relationship with NRDT. He said, “You are such a qualified person. You are coming from such a high birth. You are so highly educated, so brilliant, such an incredible preacher. I am just a simple man and I am not educated at all. How can I be your Guru? It is besides that I have already vowed not to take any disciple in my life”.
So Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was feeling very much heart broken and his father Bhakti Vinod Thakur was very much insisting without someone as your Guru what is the use of one’s existence. So Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur approach Gaur Kishori Das Babaji Maharaj again and Babaji Maharaj said, “I already vowed that I will not take any disciples and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur said, “But I have already in my heart taken shelter at your lotus feet. And if you do not deliver me from birth and death then what is my hope. He asked with such devotion and humility that Gaur Kishori Das Babaji Maharaj said, “I will pray to Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu and I will see in what way he directs me”. Time went by and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur came to Gaur Kishori Das Babaji Maharaj and with great humility and suBabaji Maharaj issiveness one day he asked, “Have you prayed to MahaPrabhu whether you can accept me and he said I forgot”. So Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur reminded him but with love and devotion and Srila Gaur Kishori Das Babaji Maharaj , he was approached by Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur again and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur said, “Have you offered your prayers to Sriman MahaPrabhu. He replied that, “Yes I prayed but did not give me an answer. So do not think it is possible.” So Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur at that time started to weep and his heart was broken and he told, “There is no purpose in my human form of life. Without Guru one cannot attain Krsna and without attaining Krsna, this human form life has no value. There is no reason for me to go on living for another moment” and he prepared himself to commit suicide. And Srila Gaur Kishori Das BABAJI MAHARAJ could see how really seriously and honestly he felt his life absolutely void and vacant without the mercy of Sri Gurudev. So at that time Gaur Kishori Das BABAJI MAHARAJ his heart melted by humble words and great determination of Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur and he agreed to initiate him. And he gave him a name Varshabhanavidevi dayat das which is a name of Radharani. Sri Varshbhanvidevi dayat that was the name Gaur Kishori Das BABAJI MAHARAJ gave him.
Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur’s austerity:
So shortly after this Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur decided to perform tapasya and near the yogapith there was a beautiful track of land which is very sacred in Navadvipa. It is the place of, house of, Srila Chandrasekhar Acarya who is maternal uncle of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu and there he constructed little hut; Bhajan kutir and vowed to chant 3 lakh of the names of Krsna everyday; mahamantra 3 lakh everyday following in the footsteps of Haridas Thakur and he vowed to chant 1 billion names and he calculated that by chanting 3 lakh everyday after nine years he would have chanted 1 billion names. He vowed, not to leave that vow, until it was fulfilled. He would just soak some rice and eat that every day and drink Ganges water and even then he could not complete all of his chanting and when his roof caved in it started raining and he was so busy in chanting that instead of fixing his roof he just took an umbrella and sat in his house. With an umbrella he would chant. It was explained by him how Lord Gauranga Maha Prabhu appeared to him. Gaur Kishori Das Babaji Maharaj was very proud of him. His austerity was just like Raghunatha Das Goswami. Maha Prabhu appeared to him after some years while doing his tapasya and told him you must not sit here in holy dham to chant the holy names. Everybody else in this world is suffering due to Maya. You go to cities, go to the places of population to spread the glories of the holy name.
Taking up the mission of his father:
So Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur is very much in his sweet mood. Bhakti Vinod Thakur constructed a bhajan kutir for him right in front of his own house so three of them would spend so many hours, days years together just discussing Krsna Consciousness. But after Bhakti Vinod Thakur left, his separation was very very deep very great and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur was feeling so much the anguish of separation that several people who had preached to them very strongly appealed to him that he must take up the mission of his father. He was feeling so humble now that these two great Acharyas including Gaur Kishori Das BABAJI MAHARAJ had gone what he could do. They were so great what could he possibly do. He felt helpless and thought, “Better I just stay here in Mayapur and just chant the holy names and try to purify my own life” and this is his humility. They told, “No you must. You must kindly help the world. Bhakti Vinod Thakur’s mission is resting now on you”. He heard the voice of his father and his Guru speaking through them and he took on this great mission. He took the vow of sannyas. He saw that there was no, no one more inspiring to him than his own Gurudev. So he gave himself the order of sannyas before a picture of his own spiritual master Srila Gaur Kishori Das BABAJI MAHARAJ and that time he became known as Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati. Interesting! Because Bhakti Vinod and Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati mean the same thing. So strongly he established over 64 muttha throughout India, initiated tens and thousands of people to the chanting of the holy name and most of all he infused that preaching spirit in the hearts of all. So many of his disciples dedicated their lives and souls only for this purpose!
Srila Prabhupada taking up the mission of his Guru Maharaj:
There were so many such empowered pure illustrious souls, so deeply learned, so deeply in pure devotional service, disciples of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati. Amongst all of them we can understand how important Srila Prabhupada was because of all of them none of them took the deepest heartfelt desire of Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati, which was to spread the teachings of Krsna and Lord Chaitanya throughout the world. Srila Prabhupada as well as all the disciples of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati was directly or indirectly given this instruction of preaching. Srila Prabhupada in Calcutta when he first met his Guru Maharaj, his Guru Maharaj gave him this instruction and before his Gurudev Srila Prabhupada was always feeling himself simply the insignificant menial servant. Srila Prabhupada is the most empowered the most illustrious Acarya practically in a history of this age of kali. He once said, “When I was only a young man my Gurudev gave me this order take this message of Lord Chaitanya and spread it throughout the world in English language”. At that time he accepted Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur in his heart as his eternal Spiritual Master and father but he said he had just married and he had a new born child. He was also manager in a chemical company, pharmaceutical company. So he was thinking that now how could he do this, that he had so many responsibilities. He had just assumed family occupation, children. He said he did not take up the order externally at that time although in his heart he was always meditating this is my life and soul. Many years later when he retired from Grihastha life and took sannyas he then accepted that now he must do this. He was thinking it is not possible but as per the first instruction his Guru Maharaj gave him it was because of Maya. He thought he should have done it then.
Request to spread Sankirtan Movement:
Some people, they think that they are great devotee and to impress their disciples they have to carry a profile that I am flawless, I can’t make mistakes. Prabhupada never made mistakes, in the sense that whatever he did that was with love and devotion to Krsna. Externally it may appear this way or that to our vision whatever is offered with love and devotion even though externally it may or may not be perfect. Srila Prabhupada, he was admitting right before his disciples that in my heart, “I must say, I was in Maya”. Of course, no one believes that he actually feels that way. His Guru Maharaj was always very much pleased with Srila Prabhupada. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur used to always comment that, this Abhaya Charan which was his initiated name, he listens very carefully, he is very submissive and he is anxious to hear. Because he is anxious to hear so nicely, therefore mark my words he will be very anxious to speak very nicely too. He also said because he hears so nicely, with such submission, anything he writes you print, no need to edit. Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati had many magazines, so how much we are indebted to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, because it was he, that planted seed in Srila Prabhupada’s heart to take this message of Lord Chaitanya and according to time, place and people, to spread it through out the world and disciplic succession means just like a tree a seed grows into a tree and that tree produces other seeds and that seed produces other trees for the preacher, because he has received the seed and he has watered that seed and it is grown into a tree. He has so many seeds to plant in other’s hearts so that very seed Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur planted in Srila Prabhupada’s heart. Srila Prabhupada came to the west to plant those same seeds in our hearts and so many others and just like Srila Prabhupada was explaining that, “My Guru Maharaj has given me this mission of spreading the seed of love that he has planted in my heart. He said my humble request to all of my disciples is you just put everything else aside and just assist me in fulfilling the great desire of my Spiritual Master. Please put everything else aside and give your life to assisting the mission of Sri Gurudev by spreading this glorious teachings of sankirtan movement in every town and village and there is no greater way to achieve the mercy of the Lord”.