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13. Royal Conspiracy
LALITA Prasad Thakura recounts in his biographical notes that an attempt was made on the life of Thakura Bhaktivinoda by the Raja of Puri. In 1874, 80,000 rupees were misappropriated from the Jagannatha Temple by the Raja. Thakura Bhaktivinoda learned of this and punished the king by obliging him to offer Lord Jagannatha naivedya (cooked food) fifty-two times per day. The Raja's treasury was soon depleted, and in anger, he decided to avenge himself by assassinating the Thakura. The Thakura's position (by this time he had been promoted and given the full powers of a Magistrate with specific responsibility for the Jagannatha Temple) was very strong, and he was popular and famous in the District. Thus, as he would have immediately been arrested, the Raja could not risk killing him by ordinary means. The king therefore organized a secret fire sacrifice in the inner apartments of the palace with fifty panditas in attendance chanting mantras, with the intention of killing the Thakura by mystic influence. Although all of this was conducted with the utmost secrecy, still, information of the king's activities was daily passed to the Thakura by informants. After thirty days of yajna (sacrifice), when the last oblation of clarified butter was being poured on the fire, Thakura Bhaktivinoda was to have died. Instead, at that very moment, the Raja's dear and only son perished within the palace. In recalling this period in his autobiography, the Thakura mentions it indirectly: "The king and other persons connected with the temple used to commit many illegal acts. I would go there to prevent all such things, and thus I made enemies of the king and the king's men. Because I was helped by Lord Jagannatha no one was able to harm me in any way."
After five years of service, the Thakura left Jagannatha Puri to settle urgent family business, and he was subsequently posted at different places in Bengal, where he visited various holy pilgrimage sites. During this time his fifth son, Varada Prasad, took birth in Ranaghat. The Thakura went to Calcutta, and there he met his old friend, Mr. Heiley, who was at that time the Inspector General of Jails. Mr. Heiley was very sick and weak but was very affectionate to the Thakura, and he asked him many questions. Thereafter, a kind of tug-of-war took place between different government officials as to where the Thakura would be posted, and, with the help of Mr. Heiley, the Thakura was appointed to Arraria. There the Thakura became ill with a urinary disease, and he took two-month's sick leave. His condition gradually improved. In November of 1877 he transferred to Mahibarekha, near Calcutta, where there were serious problems with police corruption. As usual, he took every opportunity to visit the holy places in the region. He was again transferred, this time to Bhadrak, was promoted to Deputy Magistrate there and continued his duties. While he was resident in Bhadrak, Mr. Robbins wrote him a very affectionate letter from Orissa, practically begging him to return to Puri. On July 11, 1878, the Government issued the Thakura Summary Power and in August transferred him to Narail. In Narail there was a good deal of service for the Thakura, and he became very popular with the townsfolk. Again he took every opportunity to tour the region, and he was met with great affection by all the people, who would serenade him with the Holy Name when he arrived in their villages. In Narail the Thakura had severe fevers on a number of occasions, so he began exclusively drinking green coconut milk instead of water. He quickly regained his health.