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Vision At Puri Dhaam
By Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Translated by BRS Swami Gaurangapada
Seventh Goswami Paramhansa Shrila Saccidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in Shri Sajjana-toshani XV.1:
“We are now sitting in our bhajana-kutira in Shri Purushottama Kshetra. Why, have we abandoned the capital of scholarship, the crowded and busy Calcutta, to escape to this far off place? Some time back,
when we had just started the publication of Sajjana-toshani, our heart was enlivened with hope: the more an unadulterated Vaishnava Dharma was promoted over the world, the more benefit the world would get. We took up our work with such honest intentions. Many learned goswamis and babajis started coming from all different parts of Bengal to offer their help. One impersonalist, a renowned scholar, joined us and, captivated by the beauty of pure bhakti, started manifesting pure Vaishnava behavior. On hearing the delightful instructions on Vaishnava Dharma, even mundaners were enchanted by the Lord’s pure devotional service. Those fond of music and song who were previously averse to God now submerged themselves wholeheartedly in the waves of pure Hari-kirtana, continuously rejoicing at their good fortune. In towns and villages devotional societies were established one after another. The pure Vaishnava faith manifested its glories in the hearts of almost every person in Bengal, astounding and delighting them by its natural splendor and sweetness.
“Seeing such changes in the life of Bengal beyond our most bold expectations, our enthusiasm in preaching pure bhakti increased day by day. Unfortunately, at this very point the times and the course of events suddenly changed. All those pseudo-religions that had hidden themselves hither and thither from the powerful rays of Vaishnava Dharma just as glow-worms hide themselves from the rays of the sun suddenly started crawling out from from their hiding places, taking on new forms. Mayavada, the religion of the asuras that had for the time being sunk into the abyss of forgetfulness, emerged once again in people’s conversations and discussions, this time disguised by the words of Smriti and having taken refuge on the boat of the brahmin scholars’ logic.
“Following them, Mayavada’s accomplices, the yogis, appeared both in this country and abroad, causing confusion in the entire religious world. From the other side, sensualists started causing harm to the world by taking the form of various pseudo-religious groups such as the Sahajiyas, Bauls and the like. A few worms swarming in the stool of pratishtha displayed the utmost impudence by posing before the ignorant public as “Bhagavan’s avatars.” Others took attractive Vaishnava names, decorated themselves with various acharya titles and started promoting non-Vaishnava ideas in the guise of Vaishnava Dharma.
“On seeing this drastic change of events, our heart broke into pieces. While we were looking for the underlying cause of what was happening, the following words of Shrila Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada suddenly unfolded in our heart:
kalah kalir balina indriya-vairi-vargah
shri-bhakti-marga iha kantaka-koti-ruddhah
ha ha kva yami vikalah kim aham karomi
chaitanya-candra yadi nadya kripam karoshi
It is the age of Kali and our mortal enemies, the senses, are powerful. The path of Bhakti is strewn with millions of thorny obstacles. Where shall I go? What can I do? O Chaitanya-chandra! I am helpless unless you have mercy on me today!
“Chanting these words with tears in our eyes we reached the place of our Lord’s appearance (Shri Mayapura), but even there our sorrow would not subside. Finally forsaking our homeland in search of the Lord, we came to Shri Kshetra, the place of the Lord’s disappearance. Here we rolled in despair on the golden sands and the Lord then revealed the following message in our heart:
“‘O Sajjana-toshani! May thou be in peace. In this samsara, the nature acquired by the jivas according to their karma in unlimited rebirths pushes them to take up more karma, again and again. Unless they are freed once and for all from non-devotional desires, whatever saintly instructions you give them will bounce from their ears without penetrating into their hearts. They will thus remain indifferent because of their karma no matter how well you preach bhakti. No matter how well you explain its importance, all your speeches and discourses will prove to be in vain. Now hear My command: stay in the place where, after burying My beloved Haridasa, I performed loud kirtan. Reside here and pray for the welfare of the burdened souls by constantly chanting the glories of Shri Nama. Hearing these glories will bring them the sukriti that will give them confidence in the Nama’s powers. This in turn will bless them with faith in suddha bhakti, birth after birth.’
“In obedience to the Lord of our heart Shri Krishna Chaitanya’s command, we set up a bhajana-kutira here where the high waves wash onto the seashore.”