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23. Preaching and Publishing Until the Last
During the rainy season of 1896, at the request of the Maharaja of Tripura, who had earlier invited the Thakura to preach in his kingdom, the dauntless preacher spent several days preaching in Darjeeling and Karsiyam. In 1897 the Thakura traveled and preached in many villages and towns, such as Medinipur and Sauri, spreading Shri Chaitanya's message and delivering the people of Bengal from the darkness of materialism and atheistic philosophy. The Thakura experienced great spiritual bliss and satisfaction in his preaching efforts, and 1897 also saw the publication of the fifth chapter of Brahma-samhita, published and edited by him, along with the original Sanskrit, Shrila Jiva Gosvami's Sanskrit commentary and Thakura Bhaktivinoda's own Bengali introduction, Bengali prose translation and Bengali commentary called Prakasini.
The Thakura's association with the famous Sisir Kumar Ghosh has been documented by Paramananda Vidyaratna and in a scholarly book called Vaishnavism in Bengal by Dr. Ramakanta Chakravarti. Sisir Kumar Ghosh (1840-1911) was a famous journalist, the founder and editor of the Amrita BazarPatrika and formerly a Brahmo (a follower of Rammohan Ray). He had great respect and reverence for Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, having read some of his books, such as Shri Krishna-samhita. Being very attracted to the purity of the Thakura, he initiated a correspondence with him. He came to consider the Thakura to be on the level of the Six Gosvamis, and in fact, he once wrote to him: "I have not seen the Six Gosvamis of Vrindavana, but I consider you to be the seventh Gosvami." He published a book about the life of Lord Chaitanya in English called Lord Gauranga or Salvation for All in 1897, being inspired by the Thakura's book Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu-His Life and Precepts. He wrote biographies of Lord Chaitanya's followers and published an edition of the Chaitanya-bhagavata. He also preached the glories of the holy name in the Calcutta area and many villages in Bengal, being inspired again by the Thakura's example. His Vaishnava journal, Shri Vishnu Priya O Ananda Bazar Patrika was published under the editorship of the Thakura on a fortnightly basis starting in 1890. Later it became a monthly. The Thakura severed his links with the magazine in 1899, because he felt the journal was indulging in prajalpa (idle or useless talk) by mixing Vaishnavism with the news of secular politics. Sisir Kumar was a nationalist, and he could not restrain himself from mixing in his views, which were very much opposed to the British Raj. The Thakura, on the other hand, being firmly situated in transcendence, could understand the futility of such indulgences and understood that the pressing need in human society was God consciousness. Men were spiritually all brothers. The business of dividing into camps of friends and enemies on the basis of the bodily conception of life had little to do with the Reality he was interested in communicating to the public.
During the years of 1898 and 1899, the Thakura was fully absorbed in preaching, book publishing and bhajana. In 1898 the great work called Shri Krishna-karnamrita by Shrila Lilasuka Bilvamangala Thakura was published by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura with the original Sanskrit, the Bala-bodhini-tika commentary of the older brother of Kavi Karnapura, Chaitanya Dasa Gosvami, a final summary, and Bengali prose translations of the verses. In the same year he wrote a commentary on the Upadesamrita of Shrila Rupa Gosvami. He published an edition of Bhagavad-gita with the commentary of Shripada Madhvacarya, and Shri Goloka-mahatmyam, the second khanda of Sanatana Gosvami's Brihad-bhagavatamritam, with the original Sanskrit, and his own Bengali translations of the verses.
In 1899 the Sanskrit classic of Shrila Narahari Sarakara called, Shri Bhajanamrita was brought to light and translated into Bengali by the Thakura. And in the same year, the highly elevated 168 verse work called Shri Navadvipa-bhava-taranga, which describes the sites of Navadvipa from the point of view of a fully realized soul, was presented. These places are not described as geographical or historical entities of this world, but rather as isodyana or the 'transcendental garden of the Supreme Lord'. In this work the Thakura revealed that his svarupa, his spiritual identity, was Kamala-manjari, the eternal assistant of Ananga-manjari. In his Shri Shri Radha-Krishna-ganoddesa-dipika, Shrila Rupa Gosvami explains that Ananga-manjari is one of the vara, or supermost gopis, and sister to Shrimati Radharani. Lord Balarama's two wives were Shrimati Varuni-devi and Shrimati Revati-devi, and they appeared as wives of Lord Nityananda as Shrimati Vasudha-devi and Shrimati Jahnavi-devi. This is explained in the Shri Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika of Shrila Kavi-karnapura. Both Vasudha-devi and Jahnavi-devi are considered to be incarnations of Ananga-manjari. This means that Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is the eternal assistant of the eternal consort of Lord Nityananda. Thus, it becomes clear why Godruma-dvipa, and particularly Svananda-sukhada-kunja, where Lord Nityananda inaugurated his preaching in Bengal-the marketplace of the Holy Name, was the especially dear site of worship for Thakura Bhaktivinoda.