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Abode of Sri Purusottama
1. How did Sri Bhaktivinoda cultivate his Krsna consciousness at Purusottama?
I engaged Goplnatha Pandita to help me study the scriptures at Jagannatha Purl. At first, I studied from him the entire Twelfth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam with Sridhara Svamfs commentary. At the same time, Harihara dasa Mahapatra and Markandeya Mahapatra began to study with me, but after five or seven days, they were so much behind that they began to take lessons from me. Before that they had studied logic and Vedanta in Nadia and Kasi. I scrutinizingly studied the scriptures at Puri. After completing the study of Srimad-Bhagavatam, I copied and studied the Sat-sandarbhas. Thereafter I copied the Govinda-bhasya commentary of Baladeva Vidyabhusana on Srimad-Bhagavatam and studied it. Then I thoroughly studied Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu and copied the book Hari Bhakti Kalpa Latika. I began to compose something of my own. At Purl, I compiled the Sanskrit book Dutta Kaustubha. I also composed most of the verses of Sri Krsna-samhita. A few persons like Paramananda and Nityananda used to study Srimad-Bhagavatam from me.
At that time, the assembly of devotees met at our house near Sri Jagannatha-vallabha garden. Many learned scholars such as Narayana dasa, Mohan dasa, and Harihara dasa from the northern side of Puri began to attend the assembly. A bdbdji, Raghunatha dasa, was against our assembly and stopped some people from participating in it. He was living at Hati Akhada. Raghunatha dasa Babajl was a self-realized soul, and therefore he knew everything. Soon he made friends with me and he said, "Seeing you without tilaka and neckbeads, I have disrespected you. Please forgive me."
I said, "Babajl Mahasaya! Where is my fault? The initiating spiritual master gives tilaka and beads. The Lord has not given me an initiating spiritual master yet. I only chant the holy names of Hari on beads. In such a situation is it proper for me to put on tilaka and neckbeads on my own?"
Babajl Mahasaya understood everything and praised me. He began to bestow mercy on me, and I remained under his guidance.
In between the Tota-gopinatha temple and Haridasa Thakura's samadhi was the sat-sariga bhajana-kutira, where many detached bdbajis used to constantly do their bhajana. Svarupa dasa Babajl was also doing his bhajana there. He was a wonderful Vaisnava. He would do his bhajana the whole day inside the kutira. In the evening, he would come out into the courtyard, and after offering obeisances to tulasi, he would dance and cry while singing the holy names of Krsna. That was when Vaisnavas would go to see him and someone would take a handful of mahdprasada for him. He would not take more than required to satisfy his hunger. At that time, someone would recite Caitanya-bhagavata for him. At ten o'clock at night, Babajl Mahasaya would return to his kutira and engage in his bhajana. When it was dark, he would go alone to the seashore, wash his hands and mouth, and take a bath. The reason he did so was that he feared some Vaisnava might help him. He was very blind; only Mahaprabhu knew how he went at night to take bath in the sea. There was no doubt that he was a self-realized soul. He was completely aloof from worldly thoughts. Sometimes I used to go and see him in the evening. He would speak sweetly to any stranger that came to see him. He gave me this instruction, "You should never forget Krsna." (Biography of Thakura Bhaktivinoda)
2. How did Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura performed his bhajana at Jagannatha Puri?
During my stay at Jagannatha Puri, I used to regularly visit the temple of Lord Jagannatha, chant the holy names of Krsna, and hear the topics of Krsna in the association of saintly persons. I was not satisfied if I did not eat the arahar dhal mahdprasada of Jagannatha. Every day, as soon as I used to enter the temple, someone would appear from nowhere to give me arahar dhal. On one side of the temple was a courtyard called Mukti-mandapa where only the administrative brdhmanas were eligible to sit. They were all Mayavadis. I did not feel happy going to that side. Therefore, I usually remained within the temple of Sri LaksmidevI or sat down near the lotus feet of Sri Mahaprabhu. When I used to sit there, many learned scholars from Mukti-mandapa would regularly come and join me. I named our place "the courtyard of the devotees." Gradually it became an assembly of learned Vaisnava scholars.
Just as the temple of Sri Jagannatha-deva is huge and enchanting, similarly His service is also wonderful. All His pastimes overwhelm the hearts of everyone. Between five and seven hundred people would be present in the temple to see the daily festivals such as sandhyd-drati. What a blissful event! In the course of their traveling to the holy places, many pilgrims from all over India would come there. One's eyes became satiated by seeing such a sight. Many people came there to participate in the festivals of Holi and Rathayatra. I was entrusted with the responsibility of looking after them. What can I write about the amount of trouble and hard labor that I faced to guide the pilgrims at Puri in those days? I became the object of many people's anger while trying to arrange for the pilgrims' darsana and prasdda. Many temple administrators including the king sometimes acted unlawfully to fulfill their own self-interest. I made enmity with the king and his men while trying to stop their unlawful activities, but since Lord Jagannatha-deva supported me, no one could cause me any harm. I spent five years in the service of Sri Jagannatha-deva.
I shifted my residents a few times at Sri Purusottama-ksetra. In 1280 Bengali Era in the month of February, Bimala and Ramacandra were born. Their auspicious grain-giving ceremonies were performed with the mahdprasdda of Sri Jagannatha-deva. We gave up all fruitive activities and became attached to mahdprasdda.
(Biography of Thakura Bhaktivinoda)
3.What are the characteristics of Sri Jagannatha, Sri Baladeva, and Sri Subhadra?
Jagannatha, the emblem of God, has no other form than eyes and hands, which show that God sees, knows, and creates. Balarama is the source of jlva-sakti, Subhadra is mdya-sakti, and Sudarsana is the energy of will.(The Temple of Jagannatha at Puri)
4.Why did Sri Bhaktivinoda Thakura take shelter in a bhajana-kutira at Purusottama?
Today we are sitting inside a bhajana-kutira at Sri Purusottama-ksetra. Why are we living in this faraway place, leaving the great city of Calcutta, which is full of people and learned communities? A long time ago, when we published this magazine Sajjana-tosani, I had a desire in my heart. I thought that the more this pure Vaisnava religion is spread through this magazine, the more the people of the world would benefit. We began to work with a free mind. Many educated gosvamis and bdbdjis of Bengal came and pledged to help us. Some learned impersonalists joined us, and being overwhelmed by the beauty of devotional service, they began to help spread pure Vaisnavism. After hearing nice instructions regarding Vaisnavism, materialists also became attracted. Professional singers and players floated in the waves of pure hari-kirtana and considered themselves fully satisfied. Gradually many assemblies for chanting the holy names of Hari were established in villages and cities. In this way, the glories of pure Vaisnavism filled the hearts of the inhabitants of Bengal and overwhelmed everyone by their beauty and sweetness. On seeing such an unexpected response from the people of Bengal, we began to preach pure Vaisnavism with more and more enthusiasm.
Then, by the influence of time, a sudden change took place. The glow-wormlike superstitions that were hidden in the scorching heat of the sun of Vaisnavism suddenly took various forms and came from four directions. The demoniac religious principle in the form of Mayavada, which was immersed within the deep water of forgetfulness for some time, again surfaced in the form of discourses, taking shelter of the boat of the smdrta teachers. At the same time, some Indian and foreign yogis appeared as supporters of the smdrtas and created a revolution in the world of religion. Moreover, some useless people, who were fond of sense gratification, took shelter of unauthorized religious practices and began to create disturbance in society, identifying themselves as sahajiyds and baulas. Displaying the limit of their sinful propensity, a few wormlike people, who take pleasure in the stool of fame, began to advertise themselves as "the incarnation of the Lord" in the society of fools. Some other people even accepted names befitting a Vaisnava, acted as dedryas, and began to spread ideas that were opposed to Vaisnavism as if they were the religious principles of Vaisnavas.
After seeing all such unimaginable activities, our hearts began to shatter. When we try to search for the cause of such a change, we suddenly remember the following verse written by Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada, "The age of Kali is formidable and the senses of the human beings are very powerful. Now the path of devotional service is full of millions of thorns. Where shall I go? What shall I do? I am completely helpless without the mercy of Gauracandra."While crying and speaking in this way, I went to the birthplace of the Lord at Sri Mayapura. Still my mind did not become peaceful. Thereafter I left my place in search of the Lord and after arriving at Purl, I began to roll on the goldlike sand. At that time, the Lord informed me in my heart, "O well-wisherof the devotees. May you obtain peace! The nature that the living entities have developed, according to their respective karma from birth after birth in this world, influences them to engage in fruitive activities. Until desires opposed to devotional service are destroyed from the heart, no amount of good instruction can bring any auspiciousness. Such instructions will simply come out of the ear-holes and will not enter into the heart. No amount of preaching to them or discussing devotional service will produce a good result because of their bad karma. Your discourses and discussions will therefore not yield any result. My order to you is that you should live at the place where I kept My dear Haridasa and where I loudly chanted the holy names of the Lord. You should constantly sing the glories of the holy names for the benefit of the fallen souls. As a result of the piety that people will achieve by hearing from you, and the faith they will develop, they will attain unduplicitious faith in pure devotional service in a future lifetime."Following these instructions of our beloved Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya, we built our bhajana-kutira in the tract of land surrounded by huge waves.(Sajjana-tosani 15/1)