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2. Family Lineage
SRILA Sac-cid-ananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura was born on September 2nd, 1838, on Sunday, in the ancient village of Birnagar (Ulagram or Ula) located in the Nadia district of West Bengal. He was the third son of Ananda-candra Datta and Jagat-mohini Devi. It can be said that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as both his mother and father came from illustrious and wealthy families. However, he suffered great miseries and trials throughout his youth. He was given the name of Kedaranatha, a name of Lord Siva, by his father.
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote a book in 1876 called Datta-vamsa-mala, in which he detailed the genealogy of his father's family line. He also explains in his autobiography: "I was born a descendant of Purushottama Datta, a Kanyakubja Kayastha. Among the five Kayasthas who came to the Gauda region at the invitation of King Adisura, namely, Makarananda Ghosh, Dasaratha Vasu, Kalidas Mitra, Dasaratha Guha and Purushottama Datta, Shri Purushottama Datta was the foremost. His community was settled at Baligram. Later on, some individual in his lineage settled in Andulagram and became known as the chief of all the Kayastha community." Also in his line was Raja Krishnananda Datta, the father of the great Vaishnava acarya Narottama dasa Thakura and a great devotee of Lord Nityananda, and who often received that Lord in his home. Kedaranatha was thus later called the seventh son of Raja Krishnananda. Raja Krishnananda's grandson was Govinda-saran Datta. The Sultan of Delhi once gave Govinda-saran some land on the banks of the Ganges in West Bengal. On that land Govinda-saran established the town of Govindapur. This town was later joined with two neighboring towns: Kali Ghat and Sutanuti to form the city now known as Calcutta, a city of tremendous importance to the British Empire. When the British built Fort William at Govindapur, Govinda-saran and his family were given land in exchange, and the Datta family moved to Hatkhola where they began a settlement and became known as the Hatkhola Dattas.
Govinda-saran's grandson was Ramcandra Datta, whose son Krishnacandra was a great Vaishnava. Krishnacandra's son was the famous Vaishnava, Madan Mohan Datta, who was a contemporary of Lord Clive, and a merchant and zamindar in Calcutta. He was famous in Bengal for constructing 395 stone steps at Preshtasila Hill at Gaya, where the impression of the Lotus Feet of Lord Vishnu are enshrined, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of rupees, so that the pilgrims could climb the sacred hill. The Lotus Feet of the Lord at Gaya were the meeting place of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Isvara Puri and where Lord Chaitanya experienced deep ecstasy after seeing the Lord's Feet. Madan Mohan's son was Ramtanu Datta, and his son was Rajavallabha Datta, the paternal grand-father of Kedaranatha. He possessed mystic powers and could foretell the future.
In his autobiography Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura describes his father and mother in the following manner: "My father Ananda-candra Datta Mahasaya was very religious, straightforward and detached from sensual things. Regarding his beauty, many people used to say that in Calcutta there was no one at that time who was as handsome. My mother was called Shrimati Jagat-mohini. She was possessed of intellect, straight-forwardness and devotion to my father. It can be said that there was no one like her." His mother was the daughter of Iswara Chandra Mitra Mustauphi, a descendant of the noble Rameswara Mitra Mustauphi family. Her father was a man of immense wealth and generous disposition. As a generous zamindar [zamindars were prominent land-holders who often had the power, wealth and prestige of kings] of the West Bengal district of Nadia, he was held next in esteem to the King of Nadia.
Kedaranatha's paternal grandmother was the daughter of Ray Rayan Jagannath Prasad Ghosh who owned property in the district of Cuttack, in the state of Orissa. The village known as Choti Govindapur, situated on the bank of the Virupa River, as well as other villages, were their family property. However, Kedaranatha's paternal grandmother and grandfather were living in Calcutta at the time of Ray Rayan's death, and the property fell into the hands of Ray Rayan's chief servant, named Ramahari, who took possession of everything. Therefore, Kedaranatha's paternal grandfather and grandmother, who were destitute in Calcutta, went there to reclaim their property, but the rascal Ramahari would not give it up. A lawsuit was started, and Ananda-candra, at the request of his father, went to Orissa to settle the case, which took almost three years. When his paternal grandfather and grandmother moved from Calcutta to Orissa, Ananda-candra and Jagat-mohini went to her ancestral home, taking Abhayakali, their first born, with them. Shortly after their arrival, the second son, Kaliprasanna, was born and then Ananda-candra went to Orissa to help his father secure the ancestral lands.