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The Life of Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakur
SBT was born on 2 Sept. 1838 on a Sunday in Biranagara (Ulagrama) in the Nadia district. He was the seventh son of Raja Krishnananda Datta, a great devotee of Lord Nityananda. He was also known as the great grandson of Madana Mohana and the third son of his Godfather Anandacandra. He would be known as daitya-kulera prahlada (Prahladha in the family of demons). This was because Vaisnavism was not very much respected in his family; on his mother’s side, there was no respect for Vaisnavism at all. He was named Kedaranatha by his Godfather.
His childhood was spent at the mansion of his maternal grandfather Mustauphi Mahasaya, in Biranagara. His environment at this time was very opulent. He got his elementary education at the primary school started by his grandmother. Later he attended an English school in Krishnanagara, started by the King of Nadia; he left that school when his older brother died unexpectedly of cholera.
When he was 11 years old, his father passed away. Subsequently, the grant of land that had been conferred upon his grandmother changed owners; at this time the family fell into a condition of poverty - their great wealth proved to be illusiory. Still, Kedaranatha Datta passed over these difficulties with great endurance.
(Marriage and studies)
His mother arranged a marriage for him when he was 12 (1850) to the 5 year old daughter of Madhusudana Mitra Mahasaya, a resident of Rana Ghata.
Around this time Kasiprasada Ghosh Mahasaya Thakur (KD’s uncle), who had mastered British education, came to Ulagrama after the death of his maternal grandfather. He schooled young KD at his home in Calcutta; this was at first resisted by KD’s mother, but by the time he was 13 he was allowed to go. The house was situated in the Heduya district of central Calcutta. Kasiprasada was the central figure of the literary circle of his time, being the editor of the Hindu Intelligence; many writers came to him to learn the art of writing in correct English. KD assisted KP by judging manuscripts submitted to the newspaper. KD studied KP’s books and also frequented the public library. He attended Calcutta’s Hindu Charitable Institution high school and became an expert English reader, speaker, and writer.
He became ill from the salty water of Calcutta. He returned to Ulagrama and was treated by a Muslim soothsayer who predicted that the village of Biranagara would soon become pestilence-ridden and deserted. The Muslim also predicted KD would become recognized as a great devotee of Lord Krishna.
At 18 (1856) KD entered college in Calcutta. He started writing extensively in both English and Bengali; these essays were published in local journals. He also lectured in both languages. He studied English literature at this time extensively, and taught speechmaking to a person who later became a well-known orator in the British Parliament. Between the years 1857-1858 he composed a two part English epic entitled “The Poriade”, which he planned to complete in 12 books. These two books described the life of Porus, who met Alexander the Great.
Dvijendranatha Thakur, the eldest son of Maharsi Devendranatha Thakur, was KD’s best friend during these years. He assisted KD in his studies of Western religious literatures. KD used to call DT “baro dada”, or big brother.
He was very taken by Christian theology, and found it more interesting than Hindu monism. He would spend many hours comparing the writings of Channing, Theodore Parker, Emerson and Newman. At the British-Indian Society he gave a lecture on the evolution of matter through the material mode of goodness.
(Bhaktivinode in Orissa)
At the end of 1858 KD returned to Biranagara and found the Muzzi’s prediction about that place to have come true; the place was ruined and deserted. KD brought his mother and paternal grandmother with him from there to Calcutta. Soon after he went to Orissa to visit his paternal grandfather, Rajavallabha Datta, who used to be a big man in Calcutta, who was now living as an ascetic in the Orissan countryside. His days were coming to a close. He could pre-dict the future, so he knew it himself very well. He wanted KD to be with him when he departed this world, which he did in 1859, when KD was 21. After receiving his granddad’s last instructions, he travelled to all the monasteries and temples in the state of Orissa.
Bhaktivinode began to consider the question of the means of his livelihood. He was not interested in business, as he’d seen how the “necessary dishonesty” of the trade world had morally weakened the merchant class. He decided to become a school teacher. He established a school for English education in the village of Kendrapara near Chutigrama, in Orissa, thus becoming a pioneer in English teaching in that state. He also could see the oppressive power wielded by the landowners of Chutigrama. After some time he went to Puri and passed a teachers examination; he got a teacher’s post in a Cuttack school and later became headmaster of a school in Bhadraka and then in Madinipura. His work was noted by the school-board authorities.
In Bhadraka, his first son Annada Prasada (Acyutananda) was born, in 1860. He published a book that year in English that described all the asramas and temples in the state; this book received favorable mention in the work called “Orissa” by British historian sir William Hunter; Hunter praised KD’s moral and religious character.
(He examines the Bhakti-sastras)
As the headmaster of the Medinipura high school, KD looked into the various religious sects, their philosophies and practices. He could see that they were all cheap. He came to understand that the only real religion that had ever been established in Bengal was that of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu; unfortunately, His movement was not well-represented. KD could not even get a copy of the C.C., despite all his efforts.
(His second marriage and government service)
KD’s first wife died, so in the town of Jakapura he married Bhagyavati De.
In 1861 KD accepted the post of Deputy Magistrate in the Government of Bengal. Then he became Collectorate Officer after seeing the corruption of the govern-ment workers. He established an organization called the “Bhratr Samaja”. He wrote an English book in 1863 called “Our Wants.” At this time he also cons-tructed a home in Rana Ghata. Later in 1863 he stayed at Burdwan, where he composed two novel poems in Bengali: “Vijinagrama” (deserted village) and “Sannyasi.” Volume 39 of the 1863 Calcutta Review praised these poems, saying “We hope the author will continue to give his countrymen the benefit of his elegant and unassuming pen, which is quite free from those objectionable licenses of thought and expression which abound in many dramas recently published. The want of the day is the creation of a literature for Hindu ladies, and we trust that many more educated natives will have the good sense to devote their time and abilities to the attainment of this most desirable aim.” The rhyme and style of these two poems were original; they gave birth to a new way of writing poetry in the Bengali language.
(In the post of Deputy Magistrate)
In the year 1866 KD took the position of Deputy Register with the power of a Deputy Collector and Deputy Magistrate in the district of Chapara. He also became quite fluent in Persian and Urdu. In a placed called Saran in Chapara, a clique of tea planters made unjust demands of him; he success-fully opposed them. And while at Saran he visited the Gautamasrama at Godana; desiring to establish a school for teaching nyaya-sastra, he delivered a speech there (in 1866) which was well-received. The school was in fact established, the foundation-stone being laid in 1883 by Sir Rivers Thomson, after whom the school was named. Though KD had no further part in the project after his speech, the talk he gave was instrumental in securing public aid for the school.
Also in 1866 KD translated the Balide Registry Manual into Urdu, which was circulated by the government throughout the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh; this manual was used by the registration departments of those areas.
KD was transferred to Purniya from Chapara where he took charge of the government and judicial departments; he was then transferred to Dinajapur (West Bengal) in 1868, becoming the Deputy Magistrate. At this time he received copies of the SB and CC from Calcutta.
(Preaching the Gaudiya Vaishnava Dharma)
He read CC repeatedly; his faith in KC developed until he was absorbed in KC sastras day and night. He was incessantly submitting heartfelt prayers for the Lord’s mercy; he came to understand the supreme majesty and power of the one and only Absolute Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna. He published a song about Lord Chaitanya entitled Saccidananda-premalankara. In 1869, while serving as deputy magistrate under the government of Bengal in Dinajapur, he delivered a speech in the form of a treatise he had written on the SB to a big congregation of many prominent men of letters from many parts of India and England.
(Ridding Camparana of its ghost)
He was transferred to Camparana, during which time his second son, Radhika Prasada, was born. In Camparana, people used to worship a ghost in a banyan tree which had the power to influence the mind of the local judge to decide in the favor of the worshipper. KD engaged the father of Pandita Ramabhai, a famous girl scholar, to read SB under the tree; after 1 month, the tree crashed to the ground, and many people found faith in the SB.
From Camparana he went to Puri, which engladdened his heart no end.
Near the capital of Orissa, in the town of Kamanala, there lived a yogi named Bisakisena, who would lean into a fire while sitting closeby, then return to an erect sitting posture; in this way he’d rock back and forth over the flames. He could also produce fire from his head. He had two companions going by the names Brahma and Siva; he claimed to be Maha Vishnu. The small kings of Orissa came under his sway and were providing funds for the construction of a temple; they also sent him women with whom he engaged in “rasa-lila” enjoyments. BK declared he’d drive off the British from ruling Orissa and himself would become king. He published such statements which were circulated all around Orissa. The British thought him a revolutionary, so the District Governor of the National Government of Bengal drew up arrest orders; but nobody in Orissa dared to act upon these orders, as they all feared BK. Mr. Ravenshaw, district commissioner for Orissa, requested KD to bring BK to justice. KD went personally to BK; BK showed some powers and informed KD that he knew well who he was and his mission, but that since he (BK) was the Lord, he’d better not interfere with him.” KD replied by acknowledging BK’s accomplishments in yoga and requested him to come to Puri where he could have the darshan of Jagannatha. BK haughtily said, “Why should I come to see Jagannatha? He’s only a hunk of wood; I am the Supreme in person.” KD became instantly furious and arrested the rogue, brought him to Puri and threw him in jail, where he was guarded by 3 dozen Muslim constables and 72 policemen from Cuttack day and night. “Brahma” and “Siva” avoided arrest by claiming they’d been forced by BK to do as they’d done; but Mr. Taylor, subdivision officer at Kodar, later prosecuted them. KD tried BK in Puri; the trial lasted 18 days, during which time thousands of people gathered outside the courtroom demanding BK’s release. On day 6 of the trial KD’s second daughter Kadambini (7) became seriously ill and nearly died; but within a day she had recovered. KD knew it was the power of the yogi at work; he remarked “Yes, let us all die, but this rascal must be punished.” The very next day in court the yogi announced he’d shown his power and would show much more; he suggested that KD should release him at once or face worse miseries. On the last day of the trial KD himself became ill from high fever and suffered exactly as his daughter had done for one whole day. But KD pronounced the man guilty and sentenced him to 18 months for political conspiracy. When BK was being readied for jailing, one Dr. Walter, the District Medical Officer, cut off all the yogi’s hair. The yogi drew power from his long hair; he hadn’t eaten or drunk during the whole trial, so he fell to the floor like a dead man and had to be taken by stretcher to jail. After 3 months he was moved to the central jail at Midnapura where he took poison and died in the year 1873.
(Studying SB and Sat-sandarbha)
In Puri, KD studied SB with the commentary of Shridhara Swami, copied out in longhand the Sat-sandarbhas of Jiva Goswami and made a special study of Rupa Goswami’s BRS.
(Bhaktivinode as a composer of Vaishnava literature)
Between the years 1874 and 1893, Bhaktivinode Thakur spent much time in seclusion chanting the holy name (though he still executed his worldly duties perseveringly); he wrote several books in Sanskrit such as Shri Krishna samhita, Tattva-sutra and Tattva-viveka; he wrote many books in Bengali such as the Kalyana-kalpataru; in 1874 he composed Datta-kausubha (in Sanskrit).
While in Puri he established a Vaishnava discussion society known as the Bhagavat-samsat in the Jaganatha-vallabha gardens, where Shri Ramananda Raya did bhajana. All the prominent Vaishnavas joined this group except for Raghunatha dasa Babaji, known as Siddha Purusha. He thought that BT was unauthorized, as he did not wear kanthi-mala or tilaka; moreover, he advised other Vaishnavas to avoid BVT’s association.
But soon thereafter RdB contracted a deathly illness. In a dream, Lord Jagan-natha appeared to him and told him to pray for the mercy of BVT if he at all wanted release from the illness and death. He did so; BVT gave him special medicines and cured him, and also blessed RdB with a true awareness of BVT’s position.
(Shri Swarupa dasa Babaji)
SdB did bhajana at Satasana near the ocean in Puri; he showed much affection for BVT and gave him many profound instructions on the bhajana of the holy name.
(Carana dasa Babaji)
CdB preached and printed books advising that one should chant the HKM in japa and Nitai Gaura Radhe Syama Hare Krishna Hare Rama in kirtana. BVT preached long and hard to him; after a long time CdB came to his senses and begged forgiveness from BVT, admitting his fault in spreading this nonsense mantra all over Bengal; 6 months later he went mad and died in great distress.
(The Bhakti Mandapa in the Jagannatha Temple)
BVT became manager of JP Mandir; he used his government powers to establish regularity in the worship of the Deity. In the JPM courtyard he established a Bhakti Mandapa, where daily discourses of SB were held. BVT would spend long hours discussing Krishna and chanting the holy name, especially at Tota Gopinatha Mandir, the tomb of Haridasa Thakur, the Siddha Bakula and the Gambhira. He made notes on the Vedanta-sutra which were used by Shri Syamalala Goswami in the edition of the Govinda Bhasya by Baladeva Vidyabhusana that he published.
(An Acarya appears)
Near the Jagannatha-vallabha gardens, in a large house adjacent the Narayana Chata Matha, on the 5th day of the dark fornight of Magha in the year 1874, the 4th son of BVT took birth. He was named Bimala Prasada (later known as Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Shri Shrimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada). Two years earlier, Kamala Prasada, the 3rd son of BVT, had taken birth.
(The scandal of the king of Puri)
In 1874 BVT discovered the Raja of Puri had misappropriated Rs80 thousand for sense gratification. This money belonged to the temple, so BVT forced the Raja to give Lord Jagannatha bhoga 52 times daily. This diminished the money quickly; the raja was angry at BVT and began, with the help of 50 pandits, a yajna meant for killing BVT which went on for 30 days; when the last oblations were poured, it was the kings son and not BVT who died.
(Bhaktivinoda Thakur returns to Bengal)
He left Puri on special business; returned to Bengal and saw Navadwip, Santi-pura and Kalana. He was put in charge of the subdivision Mahisarekha in Haora. After that he was transferred to Bhadraka. In August 1878 he was made head of the subdivision Naraila in the Yashohan district.
(Shri Krishna-samhita and Kalyana-kalpataru)
While in Naraila his two famous books SKs and Kk were published. In a letter dated April 16, 1880, Dr. Reinhold Rost wrote to BVT: “By representing Krishna’s character and his worship in a more sublime and transcendental light than has hitherto been the custom to regard him, you have rendered an essential service to your coo-religionists, and no one would have taken more delight in your work than my departed friend Goldstuecker, the sincerest and most zealous advocate the Hindus ever had in Europe.” These two works brought the devotional attention of many of India’s pandits and educated men.
In 1877 Varada Prasada was born, BVT’s fifth son; in 1878, Viraja Prasada was born, the sixth son: both appeared at Rana Ghata.
(Acceptance of Initiation)
He took pancaratrika initiation from Bipin Bihari Goswami, descended from the Jahnava family of Baghnapara. At the same time, his seventh son, Lalita Prasada, appeared at Rana Ghata.
Many people had adopted Vaisnavism at Haraila, but they could not tell who was a Vaishnava and who not; BVT gave them shelter and instructed them on this matter most exactingly.
In 1881 BVT began publishing Sajjanatosani, his Vaishnava journal.
(Pilgrimage to Vraja Mandala and his curbing of the Kanjhara Bandits)
BVT had previously pilgrimaged to Kasi, Prayaga, Mathura and Vrndavana in 1866.
At the close of his stay in Naraila he desired to again see the land of Vraja. He took three months for this purpose. He met Shrila Jagannatha dasa Babaji there, who moved every 6 months between Navadwipa and Vrndavana. Meeting him, BVT accepted him as his eternally worshippable siksa guru. During his pilgrimage at this time he dealt with a gang of dacoits known as the Kanjharas who robbed and killed pilgrims; he gave evidence to the government and a commission was formed to wipe out this scourge.
(Establishing the Bhakti-bhavana in Calcutta)
From Vrndavana he came to Calcutta and bought a house at 181 Maniktala Street, now called Ramasha Datta Street, near Bidana Park. He started daily worship of Shri Giridhara and called the house Bhakti-bhavan. He was appointed head of the subdivision of Barasa.
(Bankim Candra’s book)
The well-known novelist Bankim Candra met BVT at Barasa. BVT had written a book about Krishna and showed it to BVT, who preached to BC for four days, taking little food and hardly any sleep; the result was BC changed his ideas (which were mundane speculations about Krishna) and his book to conform with the teachings of Shri Chaitanya. BVT used to say, knowledge is power.
(BVT publishes the Bhagavad-gita)
During the last year of his stay at Barasat (1886), BVT published an edition of the Bg with the Sanskrit commentary of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur, which he translated into Bengali (the “Rasika-ranjana” translation). BVT had undertaken this task at the request of Babu Sarada Carana Mitra, ex-judge of the the Calcutta High Commission. Bankima Candra wrote the preface, acknowledging his own indebtedness to BVT; he noted that all Bengali readers would be indebted to BVT for his saintly work.
(More literary productions)
BVT was transferred from Barasat to Shriramapura. There he took opportunity to visit the home of the great associate of Nityananda, Uddharana Datta Thakur, at Saptagrama. And at Khanakula he visited the place of Abhirama Thakur, and at Kulinagrama, he saw the home of Vasu Ramananda.
At Shriramapura he composed and published his masterly writing, Shri Chaitanya Siksamrta, and also the Vaishnava-siddhanta-mala, Prema-pradipa and Manah-siksa. He was also publishing Sajjanatosani on a regular basis. In Calcutta he set up the Shri Chaitanya Yantra, a printing press at the Bhakti Bhavana, upon which he printed Maladhara’s Shri Krishna-vijaya and his own Amnaya-sutra and the Caitanyopanisad of the Atharva Veda.
Finding the Caitanyopanisada was a difficult task. Hardly anyone in Bengal had heard of it. BVT travelled to many places in Bengal looking for it; finally, one devoted Vaishnava pandita named Madhusudana dasa sent an old copy he’d been keeping with him at Sambalapura to BVT; BVT wrote a Sankshrit commentary on the book and called it Shri Chaitanya-caranamrta. Madhusudana dasa Mahasaya translated the verses into Bengali; this translation was called Amrta-bindhu. It was a sellout when published.
In Calcutta BVT started the Shri Visva-Vaishnava Sabha, dedicated to the preaching of pure bhakti as taught by Lord Chaitanya. To publicize the work of the society, BVT published a small booklet entitled Visva-Vaishnava-kalpavi. Also he published his own edition of the Shri Chaitanya charitamrita, with his Amrta-prabhava Bhasya commentary. And he introduced the Chaitanyabda or Chaitanya-era calendar, and gave assistance to the propagation of the Chaitanya Panjika, which established the feast day of Gaura Purnima.
He lectured and gave readings on books like the BRS in various Vaishnava societies; he published in the Hindu Herald, an English periodical, a detailed account of Shri Chaitanya’s life.
It was at this time that the learned Vaishnavas recognized KD as BVT.
(His dream of Shri Chaitanya)
In the year 1887 BVT resolved to quit government service and go to Vrndavana with Bhaktibhringa Mahasaya for the rest of his life. One night in Tarak-eswara, while on government service, he had a dream in which Shri Chaitanya appeared to him and spoke, “You will certainly go to Vrndavana, but first there is some service you must perform in Navadwipa, so what will you do about that?” When the Lord disappeared, BVT awoke. BBM, hearing of this dream, told BVP to apply for a transfer to Krishnanagara; he did, even turning down offers of personal assistantship to the chief Commissioner of Assam and the seat of the Minister of Tripura State. He even tried to retire at this time, but his application was not accepted. Finally, in December of 1887 he arranged for a mutual exchange of personnel: himself for Babu Radha Madhava Vasu, Deputy Magistrate of Krishnanagara.
(The discovery of Shridhama Mayapura)
During his stay at Krishnanagara, BVP used to go to Navadwipa and search for the birth-site of SCM. One night he was sitting on the roof of the Rani Dharma-sala in Navadwipa chanting on his beads, when he spotted a very tall Tala tree with some very strange substance attached to it; near the tree was a small building that gave off a remarkable effulgence. Soon afterwards, he went to the Krishnanagara Collectory where he began to study some very old manuscripts of CB and Navadwipa Dhama Parikrama by Narahari Sarkar, and some old maps of Nadia. He went to the village of Ballaladibhi and spoke with many elderly people there, and uncovered facts about the modern-day Navadwipa; in the year 1887 he discovered that the place he’d seen from the dharmasalla rooftop was in fact the birthplace of Mahaprabhu. This was confirmed by Jaganatha dasa Babaji, the head of the Gaudiya Vaishnava community in Nadia. A great festival was held there. BVP published the Navadwipa Dhama Mahatmya.
Also in 1887, BVP renovated the house of Jagannatha dB at Ravasghata. He took leave from office for two years and acquired a plot of land at Shri Godrumadwipa, or Svarupaganga. He built a retirement house there for his bhajana, and called it Surabhi Kunja; in 1890 he established the “Nama Hatta” there. Sometimes JdB would come there and have kirtana. Lord Nityananda had established His Nama Hatta at the same place; BVP considered himself the street sweeper of the NH of Nitai.
When the birthplace was uncovered, BVP and JdB would worship LC there. Once one of BVP’s sons contracted a skin disease; JdB told the boy to lie down at the birthsite of LC for the night - he did so, and the next morning he was cured.
In 1888 he took charge of the village of Netrakona in the district of Mayama-nasimha, because he could not keep good health in Krishnanagara and had requested transfer to a more healthful region. From Netrakona he came to Tangaila and from there he was transferred to the district of Vardhamana. There he would have kirtana with the devotees from a place called Amalajora, headed by Ksetra Babu and Vipina Babu; they would sing poems like Soka-satana written by him.
He was put in charge of the Kalara subdivision in 1890, and from there would often visit such holy places as Godadrumadwipa, Navadwipa, Campahati, Samudragarh, Cupi, Kasthasali, Idrakapura, Baghanapara, Piyariganga (the place of Nakula Brahmacari) and the place of Vrndavana dasa Thakur at Denura. Soon BVP was transferred for a few days to Ranighata, from where he came to Dinajapura again. Sailaja Prasada was born there, his youngest son. In Dina-japura BVP wrote his Vidva-ranjana commentary and translation of the Bhaga-vad Gita; it was published in 1891 with the commentary of Baladeva.
1891 was the year BVP took leave from the government service for two years. He desired to preach hari nama. His base was at godrumadwipa; from there he used to visit such places as Ghatala and Ramajivana to lecture in clubs, societies and organizations. This he’d also often do in Krishnanagara. He travelled and preached in March of 1892 in the Basirahata District together with some other Vaishnavas. All the while he was writing also. He opened many branches of Nama Hatta in different districts of Bengal. The NH became a self-sustaining success which continued to spread even after his return to government service.
Also from Basirahata he set out on his third trip to Vrndavana; he stopped off at Amalajora to celebrate the Ekadashi day with Jagannatha dasa Babaji. In Vraja, he visited all the forests and places of pastimes; he continued to give lectures and readings on Hari Nama in various places in Bengal when he returned to Calcutta.
(Establishing Gaura-Vishnupriya Deities at the Yogapitha)
In February 1891 he gave a lecture on his investigation into the whereabouts of the actual birthsite of Shri Chaitanya; his audience included highly learned men from all over Bengal, who became very enthusiastic at the news. Out of this gathering the Shri Navadwipa Dhama Pracarini Sabha was formed for spread-ing the glories of Navadvipa-Mayapura. That year, on Gaur Purnima, a big festival was held that witness the installation of Gaura-Vishnupriya Deities at the Yogapitha. All the learned pandits, having deliberated fully on BVP’s evidence, agreed that the Yogapitha was the true birthsite of Mahaprabhu.
(He retires to Godruma)
In October 1894, at age 56, he retired from his post as Deputy Magistrate, though this move was opposed by his family and the government authorities. He stayed at Surabhi Kunja and preached, as well as revised his old writings. Sometimes he went to Calcutta; there he begged door to door for building the Yogapitha temple.
In July 1896 BVT went to Tripura at the request of the king, who was a Vaishnava. He stayed in the capital for 4 days and preached Hari nama. His lecture on the first day amazed all the local panditas; on the next 2 days the royal family and general public thrilled to his talks on the pastimes of Mahaprabhu.
(Outreach to the West)
Back in Godruma, BVT sent out a small booklet, written in Sanskrit, to Shri Gauranga-lila-smarana-mangala-stotram, with a commentary by Shrila Sitikantha Vacaspati of Nadia. The intro, “Chaitanya Manaprabhu, His life and precpts”, was in English. This book found its way into the library of the Royal Asiatic Society in London, the library of Mc Gill University in Canada and other respectable institutions. It was reviewed in the Journal of the RAS and Mr. F.W. Fraser, an erudite European scholar.
In the rainy season of 1896, requested by the Maharaja of Tripura, BVT went to Darjilim and Karsiyam. In 1897 he went to many villages such as Medinipura and Sauri to preach.
(Sisira Kumara Ghosa and BVT)
SKG was the founder of the Amrta Bazar Patrika and the author of the Shri Amiya Nimai-carita. He had great respect for BVT; he also took up the preaching of the holy name throughout Calcutta and in many villages in Bengal. He published the Shri Vishnu Priya O Ananda Bazar Patrika under the editorship of BVT. In one of his letters to BVT he wrote, “I have not seen the 6 Goswamis of Vrndavana but I consider you to be the seventh Goswami.”
(Return to Puri)
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati had been residing at Puri as a naisthika brahmacari and was engaged in bhajan at the Gandharvika Giridhari Matha, one of seven mathas near the samadhi tomb of Haridasa Thakur. BVT, desiring to help his son, had the monastery cleaned and repaired when he came to Puri himself at the beginning of the 20th century. After Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati left Puri for Shri Navadwipa Mayapur, BVT constructed his own place of bhajana on the beach, calling it Bhakti Kuti; Krishnadasa Babaji, BVT’s devoted assistant and disciple, joined him there at this time, and he became very dear to BVP and was his constant attendant up to the end of BVT’s life. He began solitary bhajan at this time; he had many visitors at this place, and some of them simply wanted to disturb him, whereas others were sincere and benefited greatly from his spiritual inspiration.
(Sir William Duke)
In 1908, 3 months before he took sannyasa, a son of BVT who was working in the writers building in Calcutta, came home to inform BVT that Sir William Duke, chief secretary to the government, was in Calcutta; formerly BVT had served under him as a magistrate. BVT made an appointment to meet him the next day at the writers building. SWD met BVT on the street outside the building and personally escorted him in to his office. With folded hands, he asked forgiveness for having once planned to remove BVT from office of district magistrate; this was because he thought that if such qualified Indians take up such posts, the British would not last much longer in India. In those days, while studying BVT’s activities, he’d come to his house and would be fed puri, luchi and sweets by BVT’s wife. But now he was begging forgiveness as he was getting on in life; BVT answered, “I consider you to be a good friend and a well wisher all along.” BVT was pleased with him and gave him his blessings. Later BVT admitted he was astonished that Duke wanted to harm him in some way.
(Accepting Paramahamsa Sannyasa)
In 1908 BVP took the “vesa” of a babaji at Satasana in Puri; until 1910 he would move between Calcutta and Puri, and was still writing books; but during that year he shut himself up and entered samadhi, claiming paralysis.
On June 23, 1914, just before noon at Puri, BVP left his body; this day was also the disappearance day of Shri Gadadhara Pandita. Amidst sankirtana his remains were interred in Godruma after the next solstice; the summer solstice had just begun when BVP had left his body.
(His divine character)
About BVP, Sarada Carana Mitra, Calcutta High Court Judge, wrote: “I knew Thakur Bhaktivinode intimately as a friend and a relation. Even under the pressure of official work as a magistrate in charge of a heavy subdivision he could always find time for devotional contemplation and work, and whenever I met him, our talk would turn in a few moments to the subject of bhakti and dvaitadvaita-vada and the saintly work that lay before him. Service of God is the only thing he longed for and service under the government, however honorable, was to him a clog.”
7:30-8:00 PM - take rest
10:00 PM - rise, light oil lamp, write
4:00 AM - take rest
4:30 - rise, wash hands and face, chant japa
7:00 - write letters
7:30 - read
8:30 - receive guests, or continue to read
9:30-9:45 - take rest
9:45 - morning bath, breakfast of half-quart milk, couple chapatis, fruit
9:55 - go to court in carriage He would wear coat and pants to court, with double-size tulasi neckbeads and tilaka. He was very strong in his decisions; he would decide immediately. He did not allow any humbug in his court; no upstart could stand before him. He would shave his head monthly. He never allowed harmonium and he never had any debts.
10:00 - court began.
1:00 PM - court finished. He’d come home and bathe and refresh.
2:00 PM - return to office.
5:00 PM - translate works from Sanskrit to Bengali
Then take evening bath and meal of rice, couple of chapatis, half-quart of milk.
He always consulted a pocket watch, and kept time very punctually.
He was always charitable to brahmanas, and equally befriended other castes. He never showed pride, and his amiable disposition was a characteristic feature of his life. He never accepted gifts from anyone; he even declined all honors and titles offered by the government to him on the grounds that they might stand against his holy mission of life. He was very strict in moral principles, and avoided the luxurious life; he would not even chew betel. He dislike theaters because they were frequented by public women.
He spoke Bengali, Sanskrit, English, Latin, Urdu, Persian and Oriya.
He started writing books at age 12, and continued turning out a profuse number of volumes up until his departure from this world.