An English translation of a Bengali article prepared by Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj from his lecture at Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh in Śrī Dhām Nabadwīp, 29 September 1955.
The Bengali article was originally published on Sunday, 17 October 1955, in Sri Gaudiya Darshan, Volume 1, Issue 3. Read it here.
On a number of occasions more than fifty years after it was published, Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj commented on this article as follows:
I once gave a lecture about Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur and then published it in Gaudiya Darshan as an article. By my good fortune, Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj very much appreciated it. I sat down to write out the lecture and it came out very nicely. I do not know whether or not it is has been published since then. If not, it can be. It is in Bengali but it can be translated. It is a very good article. I like it very much.
mukaṁ karoti vāchālaṁ paṅguṁ laṅghayate giri
yat kṛpā tam aham vande śrī guru dīna-tāraṇam
[“I offer my obeisance unto Śrī Guru, the deliverer of the destitute, by whose mercy a mute speaks and a cripple crosses a mountain.”]
namo bhakti-vinodāya sach-chid-ānanda-nāmine
gaura-śakti-svarūpāya rūpānuga-varāya te
[“I offer my obeisance unto you, Śrīla Sachchidānanda Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur, the embodiment of Śrī Gaura’s potency, the greatest follower of Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī Prabhu.”]
vāñchhā-kalpa-tarubhyaś cha kṛpā-sindhubhya eva cha
patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ
[“I eternally offer my obeisance unto the Supreme Lord’s devotees, who are saviours of the fallen, oceans of mercy, and wish-fulfilling trees.”]
Today, in the absence of Śrī Guru Pāda-padma from the Maṭh, I stand before you all by his desire to glorify Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur. A fallen, lowly, materialistic person like me has no qualification to chant Ṭhākur Mahāśay’s supramundane glories.
aprākṛta vastu nahe prākṛta-gochara
veda-purāṇete ei kahe nirantara
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: Madhya-līlā, 9.194)
[“Supramundane existence is not perceptible materially. The revealed scriptures constantly say this.”]
The Supreme Lord and His devotees—His associates—are adhokṣaja [transcendental]; their Names, Forms, Qualities, Pastimes, Associates, and Nature are all adhokṣaja. It is not possible to understand them with the help of knowledge derived from the senses (akṣaja-jñān). This principle is proclaimed clearly throughout all the Vedic scriptures. For example:
nāyamātmā pravachanena labhyo
na medhayā vā bahunā śrutena
[“The Supreme Lord cannot be understood by teaching, reasoning, or learning.”]
So how can a fool like me describe the glories of the Lord and His associates? Still, I have stood before great, wise devotees like you all today, only by the merciful order of Śrī Guru Pāda-padma.
vaiṣṇavera guṇa gāna karile jīvera trāṇa
śuniyāchhi sādhu-guru-mukhe (Āchārya-vandanā: 18)
[“I have heard from the Sādhus and Gurus that souls are delivered by singing the glories of devotees.”]
I am unqualified [to do this]. Still, when empowered by Śrī Guru Pāda-padma’s mercy, even a stool-eating crow can attain the position of the Supreme Lord’s carrier Garuḍa, a cripple can attain the ability to cross a mountain, a great fool can illuminate all directions with the light of genius and learning, and a mute can become an orator like Saraswatī. Therefore, I first of all bow to Śrī Guru Pāda-padma and pray for his mercy, desiring to serve him.
By the will of the Supreme Lord Śrī Gaurasundar, the embodiment of His mercy, Śrīla Sachchidānanda Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur, appeared on this day 117 or 118 years ago in the village of Birnagar in the district of Nadia within Śrī Gaura’s abode.
The characteristics of the Supreme Lord and His associates’ appearance times are seen in the scriptures: when there is a decline of dharma and an insurgence of adharma, the Supreme Lord or His associates appear in this world to deliver or maintain the sādhus, destroy or subdue the miscreants, and re-establish the dharma. Some time after the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, that exact condition had cast the souls in this world into darkness. Gradually, by the influence of time, the essential purport of all the scriptures—the completely pure Vaiṣṇava-dharma—went into hiding, and in its place the witch Māyā’s newer and newer dharmas of enjoyment led souls down dark, mistaken paths. As a result, dharma became based on racial caste judgement! Ignorance took the place of virtuousness (sādhutā), yoga became based the pursuit of enjoyment, the cultivation of knowledge became converted into voidism, japa was practiced to attain fame, austerities were practiced out of animosity for others, charity was given to procure prestige, terrible adultery was committed in the name of loving service to the Supreme Lord, and even the intelligentsia was conflicted. Seeing the strong influence of time and the arrival of an extremely dangerous and fearsome condition in their service-lives, the sādhus became afraid, and when they made with anxious hearts their sorrowful prayers for the welfare of all souls known at the feet of the Supreme Lord, Śrīla Sachchidānanda Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur—the embodiment of the Avatār of goodness for the world, the Hero of Nadia, Śrī Gaura Sundar’s mercy—appeared, increased the joy in the sādhu’s hearts as the father of Bimalānanda (Śrī Bimal Prasād Datta—Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur), and illuminated the eastern mountain of Nadia to fulfil the desires of His Lord’s heart.
Though the birth and other Pastimes of the Supreme Lord and His associates may seem like material things, they are supramundane (aprākṛta). You all have heard this point many times. Bound by the results of their karma, souls are forced to take birth in this world in order to undergo the results of their actions. The Supreme Lord or His associates, however, compelled by mercy, accept the Pastime of birth by Their own will in order to take souls from the material world—the dangerous, anxiety-ridden world—to the spiritual, joyful world, and to bestow upon them their true fortune: the joy of the Supreme Lord’s service. One (the conditioned soul) is controlled; the other (the Lord or His devotee) is independent. A partial analogy: prisoners and teachers, who benefit prisoners, can both be held within a prison.
That aside, the Supreme Lord’s associates do not take birth in any social class. Why? Although they take birth in the midst of a social class, they have no relationship with it. Hanumān took birth in a class of monkeys, and the Supreme Lord’s carrier Garuḍa took birth in a class of birds. Nevertheless, the whole world worships them. Even in the scriptural laws for this world’s spiritual social order (daiva varṇāśram), it is seen that persons born in any social class will be identified as a brāhmaṇ, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, and so on according to the characteristics of their actions and qualities; a person’s occupation will not be determined by their birth. Therefore, how will it be possible to identify the Supreme Lord’s associates, who are eternally liberated, by the identity of their social class? For this reason the teacher of all souls Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī—on the subject of the familial identity of Śrīla Dās Goswāmī Prabhu—used the phrase kāyastha-kulābja-bhāskaraḥ [‘the sun above the lotus of the secretarial class’]. The sun has a small relationship with the lotus. The lotus is a soft flower born from water, and the sun is the revealer of the world, a glowing ball of fire. The class, or definition, of these two entities is not the same or similar. Still, the sun accepts a small relationship with the lotus by distributing itself to the lotus and causing the lotus to grow and bloom. The Vaiṣṇavas’ small relationship with social classes is comparable to this, though this example can only be taken partially. Actually, the social class the Lord’s associates or devotees accept when they appear becomes purified. Consider this evidential verse from the scriptures on this subject:
kulaṁ pavitraṁ jananī kṛtārtha
vasundharā vā vasatiścha dhanyā
nṛtyanti svare pitaro ’pi teṣāṁ
yeṣāṁ kule vaiṣṇavāmadheyam
[“The social class in which a Vaiṣṇava appears becomes purified. His mother becomes fulfilled, his residence or locality become fortunate, and his ancestors dance in heaven.”]
Mad-bhakta-pūjābhyadhikā, [Kṛṣṇa said: “Worshipping My devotees is greater than worshipping Me,”] if we consider statements from the scriptures like this one logically, we are also able to understand that the appearance days of devotees are even more auspicious than the appearance days of the Supreme Lord. This is because the devotees’ lives and characters give one a better chance to clearly learn about the Lord than the Lord’s life and character does. It is for this reason that the Supreme Lord appeared in this world in the covering of a devotee as Śrīman Mahāprabhu and taught devotion.
In this way the atmosphere of the world gradually changes by the appearance of Ṭhākur Śrīla Bhakti Vinod, and the Ṭhākur’s extraordinary characteristics attract the keen attention of the virtuous and fill them with joy.
In terms of his worldly identity, as a young boy with no father, he spent time at his maternal uncle’s house engaged in study and so on. Seeing his astonishing genius, heart-melting behaviour, unprecedented poetic capability, and deep attachment to dharma, his relatives were astounded and exceedingly affectionate towards the boy. The Ṭhākur strongly adhered to dharma during his early life, and even paṇḍits were bewildered upon seeing his unlimited learning of all the religious scriptures. Even in his youth Ṭhākur Mahāśay wrote numerous books in various languages. Seeing the boy’s youthful beauty, his relatives had him married.
When he grew up, as if he were an ordinary soul immersed in pastimes of karma, Ṭhākur Mahāśay accepted the post of a deputy magistrate, which was very difficult for a Bengali to attain, moved to Orissa, and lived near the temple of Śrī Jagannāth.
At that time he had a good opportunity to discuss dharma: he established a stage beside the temple of Śrī Jagannāthdev and, following Śrīla Sanātan Goswāmī Prabhu, would discuss Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and other scriptures in the company of numerous devotees, paṇḍits, and brāhmaṇs and cut away the bondage of material existence from the souls of this world. He would become so greatly distressed by the misery of the souls who were averse to Kṛṣṇa that from time to time, forgetting himself and loudly calling, “Oh Gaurāṅga! Oh Nityānanda! Once glance towards the souls of this world, oh Lords!” he would cry profusely. Because of this anxious appeal by Bhakti Vinod Prabhu to the Lord, the souls of this world one day attained the foot-dust of the manifest embodiment of Śrī Gaura Mahāprabhu’s mercy Śrīla Saraswatī Goswāmī Prabhupād.
Within a short time Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur’s name spread everywhere and many educated and respected gentlemen joined him as servants during his Pastimes as an Āchārya engaged in preaching the dharma. Prior to Śrīla Ṭhākur’s preaching, the pure Vaiṣṇava-dharma preached by Śrīman Mahāprabhu had become so degraded, corrupted, and disordered by selfish persons that people considered Vaiṣṇava-dharma to be extremely despicable, to be the dharma of detestably low-natured persons. People considered it to be the dharma of the āuls, bāuls, kartābhajās, sahajiyās, sakhī-bhekis, neḍā-neḍīs, and so on, and mocked it. Yet by the appearance and endeavour of Śrīla Bhakti Vinod, Vaiṣṇava-dharma became free from degradation, again self-manifested its pure nature as the dharma of the soul situated atop the heads of all other dharmas, and attained beauty like that of the newly risen shining sun in the sky of the world’s dharmas. All the virtuous souls understood that Vaiṣṇava-dharma is the one and only pure, effulgent, non-envious, devotional and pleasing (‘bhakti-vinodan kārī’) dharma of the self within which there is no duplicity or contamination. They understood that if all other dharmas are perfectly performed individually and collectively, then they will attain the beautiful position of stairs towards Vaiṣṇava-dharma.
The dharma preached by Śrīman Mahāprabhu can refute the misconceptions of so-called harmonisers of spirit and matter and reveal the one and only spiritual harmony of all dharmas. Ṭhākur Mahāśay substantiated this in his writing and endeavours. Actually, after Śrīman Mahāprabhu and His associates, a second example of the way in which Ṭhākur Mahāśay protected the souls of this world from aversion to the Supreme Lord is extremely rare. No one ever saw that Śrīla Ṭhākur Mahāśay fostered an envious mentality towards anyone at any time, yet he had not even a drop of hesitation to proclaim the impartial truth. He never indulged false devotion, non-devotional conceptions, or deceitful dharma in the name of devotion. His pen fearlessly and loudly declared the truth. He considered worldly fame [pratiṣṭha] comparable to pig stool. At that time, the greatest playwrights of Bengal specially requested Śrīla Ṭhākur Mahāśay to introduce a drama about Śrī Gaurāṅga but he refused, as he staunchly considered such matters adulterated. When a great yogī from Orissa who declared himself to be an Avatār of Mahāviṣṇu from the peak of a mountain of the pig stool of pratiṣṭha was proceeding with his party down the road to hell and spreading thorns along the path of sanātan-dharma, Śrīla Ṭhākur Mahāśay strongly repressed him. When Ṭhākur Mahāśay organised a campaign to purify polluted holy places throughout India, droves of fallen, sinful, and sorrowful persons felt themselves to be fulfilled by touching his cooling lotus feet. How many more examples about him shall I give? By his touring India, numerous antithetical dharmas were abolished. It is not possible for me to even summarise his glory with all these examples.
Śrīla Saraswatī Goswāmī Prabhupād in a few verses (and elsewhere in extended form) briefly revealed the secret identity of Ṭhākur Mahāśay. Thereby the learned understand his true identity. At the end of his Anubhāṣya on Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, Śrīla Prabhupād wrote:
tā̐hāra karuṇā-kathā, mādhava-bhajana-prathā
tulanā nāhika tribhuvane
tā̐ra sama anya keha, dhariyā e nara-deha,
nāhi dila kṛṣṇa-prema-dhane
[“There is no comparison within the three worlds to His merciful teachings of the practice of devotion to Kṛṣṇa. No one has ever assumed a human form and distributed the wealth of Kṛṣṇa-prema like him.]
sei prabhu-śakti pāi’, ebe ‘anubhāṣya’ gāi’,
ihāte āmāra kichchhu nāi
yāvat jīvana rabe, tāvat smariba bhāve
nitya-kāla sei pada chāi
[“Receiving his mercy, I now present this Anubhāṣya, within which there is nothing of my own. So long as I live, I will remember him within my heart. I eternally aspire for his feet.]
śrī-gaura kṛpāya dui, mahimā ki kaba mui,
prakaṭa ha-iyā seve, kṛṣṇa-gaurābhinna-deve,
aprakāśya kathā yathā tathā
[“He is a manifestation of Śrī Gaura’s mercy. What can I say about his greatness? He is one of the Lord’s divine associates. He appeared and served Lord Kṛṣṇa’s non-different form Śrī Gaura. This expression is not to be spoken anywhere and everywhere.”]
When we hear these few verses, our mouth and pen completely stop; what am I thinking?! Attempting to prepare a deity of Śiva, we are making a monkey! Where is our ability to sing the Ṭhākur’s glories like this? What is the spotless character of this super-human Mahāpuruṣ, and who am I? A most fallen, lowly human being! We simply have the solace that even a remote connection with Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Prabhu can bestow ultimate auspiciousness upon the soul. Actually, Ṭhākur Mahāśay’s mercy flowing in thousands of streams from thousands of mouths has purified the universe.
There were no materials, thoughts, or subjects which Śrīla Ṭhākur did not connect with Kṛṣṇa. In his endeavours two currents are predominant: like the flow of the Ganges he (by his practice and preaching) purified the entire world and transformed it into materials for Kṛṣṇa’s service, and like the flow of the Saraswatī and Vedavyās, he churned all the Vedic scriptures and freely distributed everywhere the butter of Kṛṣṇa-prema in an easy and simple way. In this world there is no comparison or substitute to Śrīla Bhakti Vinod’s unparalleled gift. In the world of literature also Ṭhākur Mahāśay’s unprecedented greatness has been and will be remembered always and everywhere. Today Ṭhākur Mahāśay’s published and unpublished jewel-like books—his books of aphorisms, hymns, songs, and lectures; his books about the Lord’s Pastimes and the science of rasa; his books of critical review, commentary, and interpretation; his books on theology, poetry, composition, and philosophy; and all his other noteworthy books—being further illuminated by the pleasing, serving light of Śrī Chaitanya-Sāraswatī, have shown that they are non-different from the supremely compassionate Origin of all Avatārs’ non-evil producing mercy in uplifting the souls in this world. Time is short, so I will say a couple more things and then take your leave.
Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Prabhu showed the fulfilment of all his endeavours in his service to Śrī Gaurāṅga’s Dhām. You have all heard about his manifestation of the Dhām. Many selfish persons opposed his discovery of Śrīman Mahāprabhu’s birth place in many ways, yet he unwaveringly fulfilled Śrī Gaurasundar’s desire of manifesting the Dhām so perfectly that today the lies from the tongues of these selfish persons have stopped. They cannot find any way to suppress Māyāpur any more; everyone now freely sings Māyāpur’s glories. In a phrase, Śrīla Ṭhākur Bhakti Vinod was the combined form of Svarūp, Sanātan, Rūpa, Raghunāth, Rāy Rāmānanda, Haridās, Śri Jīva, Kṛṣṇadās, and Narottam. This is because the fulfilment of all the Goswāmīs’ endeavours is seen within him in full form. In manifesting the Dhām, in restoring the lost holy places, in writing spiritual books, in establishing the truths of devotion, in renunciation, in philosophical analysis, in preaching about the Lord, and in the Pastimes of delivering souls through Hari-nām-saṅkīrtan—the fortunate souls who saw the glory of Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Ṭhākur’s extraordinary ability in all fields rolled about at his feet.
He appeared on today’s date. Thus this day is also supremely worshippable, desirable, and merciful. I have no gift with which I worship this great day, but You are all great devotees. May you all mercifully grant me the qualification to worship this holy day. By your mercy, may earnest prayer for Śrīla Bhakti Vinod Prabhu’s mercy awaken within me, may I be gloriously adorned, internally and externally, with the kīrtan prescribed by Śrī Gaura, and may I be engaged in the service of Śrī Vinod-Saraswatī’s followers eternally. This is my prayer.
vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ
[“I offer my obeisances unto the Vaiṣṇavas.”]